Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa says that his organization has the talent needed for a “dramatically better” performance, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. The club’s unfortunate 2016, he suggests, represents a test for the entire organization.
According to the embattled head of the organization’s baseball operations, Arizona’s struggles require a “personal assessment” by all personnel to determine areas for improvement. “[T]he quality of the response will dictate if these guys are what we think they are,” said La Russa. “I think I have enough experience that I bet on the group wanting to learn, and that opens the opportunity for the coaches and manager to step in and say, ’Hey, this is how we could have won those close games.'”
The D-Backs’ issues go beyond relatively minor considerations such as performance in tight contests, of course. As Piecoro explains, there are numerous areas — especially the rotation — that will require rather significant turnarounds to make contention plausible.
Looking ahead, La Russa says he has “a notebook full of comments on the year.” Whether or not he’ll have the opportunity to build from those observations, and remain in charge, remains uncertain. The organization is seemingly still weighing whether to retain La Russa, GM Dave Stewart, and other front office personnel.
Notably, if the La Russa-led front office sticks around, it sounds as if the belief is that dramatic roster changes aren’t necessary. Instead, his focus appears to be on coaxing more out of the players that had been expected to produce a winning campaign in 2016.
“I think the team has good character,” he said. “It’s got good talent, and if they have a good attitude about ’let’s learn from this,’ it can get dramatically better.”
That still-optimistic assessment of the D-Backs’ internal asset base has seemingly been reflected in the team’s recent actions (or lack thereof). Arizona largely held pat at the trade deadline, dealing a few relievers but avoiding any drastic moves in either direction. Though Shelby Miller trade scenarios were explored, nothing came to fruition. And the Snakes are apparently determined not to shop Zack Greinke this winter.
Regarding Greinke, whose inconsistency has been one of many areas of concern, La Russa expressed no regret in making a huge outlay to land a “veteran number one” starter that he says the team needed. In addition to Greinke’s contributions on the hill, said La Russa, “he can really help with, and he already has, showing guys the art of pitching.”
La Russa said that the team expects to field inquiries on Greinke and other under-performing pitchers, but Piecoro suggests that his overall comments hint that there won’t be much interest from the Arizona side. “I think this winter we’re going to be asked a lot about him and every one of our starters,” he said. “It’s already happened. Our young guys are really attractive. And Shelby is going to be attractive. They think we’ll be down on him. And Greinke’s going to be attractive to guys who can afford him because they’ll think we can’t afford him.”