Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick and president Derrick Hall held court on several topics with the press yesterday. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported on the session; we’ll cover a few salient points here.
Kendrick had lofty praise for recently extended GM Mike Hazen, saying the top baseball ops decisionmaker has “done a remarkable job of transitioning from what he inherited to what we now have,” referring to the strides made in building out the farm system and compiling a competitive and cost-efficient MLB roster.
We’re accustomed to the notion of ownership setting payrolls that are never quite as robust as a baseball operations department might prefer. But Hazen has actually counseled against certain added cash outlays, Kendrick relays. “I’ve had a willingness to personally commit more money than [the front office] feels is the smart thing for us to do,” he says.
In the long run, Kendrick says, he anticipates that payroll will continue to rise along with the team’s revenue streams. It wasn’t quite clear whether he meant to suggest that his organization anticipates gaining ground relative to the rest of the league, though that’s certainly possible.
The D-Backs are, after all, still working on ways to make more cash from their stadium situation. Hall says the organization is focused at present on maximizing the opportunities at Chase Field, which the team gained added control over after sorting out some elements of a dispute regarding maintenance with municipal authorities.
With positive initial returns on efforts to take care of the facility and put it to non-baseball uses, Hall says “there’s not such an urgency to figure out that next step.” Indeed, things went so well last year that the organization sees some spillover onto the baseball side. “It does provide us with new resources from a revenue standpoint that we can invest back into the team,” Hall explains.
It does seem there’s still an inclination to pursue a new ballpark — or, perhaps, a major revamp of the existing facility. Kendrick posited a rather confusing analogy of Chase Field to a “classic automobile;” in both, he says, one might like some of what’s outwardly visible but might also “find things sometimes you wouldn’t wish to find.” Kendrick seemingly suggested that maintaining the facility might ultimately not be feasible, thus requiring a new one altogether. It seems odd that a ballpark that opened in 1998 would have been constructed in such a manner. While it’s understandable enough that the team is desirous of maximizing its earning opportunities — particularly after seeing a few peer organizations pull off fancy multi-use, publicly-funded projects to replace perfectly useful existing structures — building new ballparks every quarter-century really isn’t a reasonable overall strategy.