Arizona Diamondbacks – Hazen transitions into the future
By Mark Brown
Mike Hazen, general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, represents a clear change from the past
Slowly, the structure, purpose and direction of the Arizona Diamondbacks is falling into place.
The contrast among previous regimes and the current one headed by general manager Mike Hazen is striking. This transition, commenced and implemented by Hazen, could act as a blueprint for an important evolution of the game. If Hazen’s approach and expectations are realized, the Diamondbacks could be in the forefront of how an organization moves from tradition to modernity.
With the emphasis now on metrics, design and structure, Hazen’s approach clearly embodies those forces. This is not so much a strategy based on what Hazen’s sees on the baseball field. Rather, this is somewhat like an organizational chart with duties and responsibilities placed in neat compartments.
About one month into his tenure as Arizona GM, Hazen seems patient to allow the baseball side of the operation slowly fall into place. The moment now is dominated to get the Diamondbacks into a set off circumstances with personnel and duties ready to maximize player execution.
If the end result on the diamond represents the tenets of an organization put in place, then Hazen’s approach could be rewarded with success on the field.
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“We’re starting to focus in on the roster a little more,” Hazen said Tuesday during the GM meetings in Scottsdale. “We will start meeting with clubs this week, and agents. We’ll start talking free agency. Some of the same areas we want to focus, improving our defense, our outfield defense, our bullpen, certain needs with the losses we had, and the organic losses, like to free agency and trades, are all areas of focus to us.”
With the appointment of Hazen, the Diamondbacks made a conscience effort to address the evolution of the game. Under previous GM Dave Stewart, former manager Chip Hale and Tony La Russa, who still has the title of Chief Baseball Officer, this contingent was steep in the traditional aspect. These includes relying on the eyes of scouts, reports of instructors and other personnel in the field, and intuition.
Hazen, trained by Theo Epstein in Boston, who embraces analytics, projections, trends, capabilities, and lines on a graph, brings that kind of structure and evaluation. No longer will decisions be made strictly from eyes sitting in wooden bleachers at far away high schools or colleges, but through the crunching of numbers within a prescribed and structured environment.
While Hazen now speaks in trying to get his regime in place, he continues to bridge running a baseball organizations from the perspective of limited information to the use of technology and advances metrics.
If Hazen is stepping into the future, manager Torey Lovullo brings an equally important part of the equation. Known as a strong commutator, one of the first things Lovullo said in his introductory news conference Monday was his desire to reach out to players, ask what is important to each player and what matters most to each.
After working as the Red Sox bench coach to manager John Farrell, Lovullo comes to the Diamondbacks and a three-year contract. Those familiar with Lovullo echo his penchant for keeping an open door and honest dialog.
“Communication is the strength of (Torey’s) character,” said Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox president of baseball operations. “He communicates well with the players, the front office, the media. He is always open, and that’s his thought process.
While Lovullo said “I’m an offensive guy,” the character and body of the 2017 Diamondbacks is yet to be determined. That dimension, Hazen pointed out, will likely be forged by personnel and construction of the opening day 25-man roster.
“With the characteristics which Torey wants to put on the field, we’ll remain consistent with that,” Hazen said. “It’s not too early to put that in mind as we put the club together. How that comes together is to be determined.”
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For now, Hazen remains at the helm of this transition, which he, and other Arizona decision-makers, hope will yield considerable results.