Arizona Diamondbacks: Mike Hazen Puts His Mark on Rebuilding

May 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Hank Conger (24) sets to throw the ball during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Hank Conger (24) sets to throw the ball during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports /

Rebuilding of the Arizona Diamondbacks under general manager Mike Hazen has taken a different approach

Every decision we undertake has a reason. That’s the rationale Mike Hazen, general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, gives in support of the building of his regime.

Buzz words like “the process” and “the journey” have found their way into recent sports lexicon. Hazen is a principal proponent of these characterizations and his use of “process” and “journey” run to the core of how he builds and structures the current edition of the Diamondbacks.

When Hazen was named the Arizona general manager last October, he approached the job with measured steps. While the team needed a myriad of changes, Hazen did not go out and mortgaged the franchise nor open his checkbook to prospective free agents.

Instead, his first step was to build a principal foundation. From that core, Hazen seeks to establish friendships and commitments.

"“We didn’t set out to make changes for the sake of making changes,” Hazen said Tuesday during the MLB Cactus League media day. “We want to establish a presence and then talk about changes. We want to be in a position to put the best players on the field, but also want to be wise about it.”"

As a result, Hazen said he’s satisfied with the team as constructed and ready for spring games to commence. Engineering only one significant trade, Hazen dealt infielder Jean Segura to Seattle for right-hander Taijuan Walker.

General managers in attendance during Tuesday’s media day thought, at 24-years-old, Walker has substantial up-size. Once he can harness his ability and energy, the Diamondbacks made an important contribution. In the meantime, Hazen allowed catcher Welington Castillo and reliever Daniel Hudson to walk, then reconstructed the coaching corps. Now, the Arizona catching core looks like Jeff Mathis, Chris Iannetta and Chris Herrmann. At this point, it is uncertain how games each player will catch.

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Yet, that’s not the point. The issue at hand is how and why Hazen put this team together. Sure, he pointed out, the other 29 clubs are all out to improve. Yet, the teams which win are those teams who build with physical might and intelligence in mind.

"“There are no short cuts,” Hazen said “How we come together will determine or success.”"

Despite not acquiring top-shelf free agents, Hazen drew praise from his contemporaries. The way Hazen is going about structuring the Diamondbacks could be a blueprint for the future.

"“Mike is smart in taking a slow approach,” Farhan Zaidi, the Dodgers’ general manager told Venom Strikes. “He’s deliberate and taking his time. Looks like he’s not rushing things and he’s not taking chances which may hurt him down the road.”"

From the commencement of the off-season, Hazen wanted to improve his bench and add left-handed hitters. That was accomplished, and now the next part is building those solid relationships.

Out of the gate

The Diamondbacks opened their pre-season schedule Wednesday afternoon at Salt River against local Grand Canyon University in a seven-inning game.

This is part of the Diamondbacks annual engagement with local colleges. Two years ago, the Diamondbacks started their spring slate against Arizona State University, last year against the University of Arizona and now, Grand Canyon University. Left-hander Anthony Banda will start for Arizona and is expected to pitch one inning.

The Diamondbacks open their schedule against major league competition Saturday at Salt River against the Colorado Rockies. Because the Diamondbacks and Rockies share the same stadium during spring games, the Diamondbacks will be the home team Saturday and the Rockies will be the home team Sunday in the back-to-back opening weekend.

Next: Herrmann offers options off the bench

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said he’s uncertain about his pitching rotation for the two-game, weekend set against the Rockies. The Diamondbacks then stay at Salt River next Monday to host Cincinnati.