The season starts tomorrow, and this writer has already thrown in the towel. The Arizona Diamondbacks will end up in the cellar again this year...in baseball's worst division. How can this be, in this age of multi-million dollar salaries and expenditures? Let us count the ways:
The Front Office of the D-Backs continues to be inept. These guys have had several years to improve the on-field product. Using baseball stats, they're hitting .180, with three homeruns.
Josh Byrnes, Executive Vice President and General Manager, continues to squander millions of dollars on average talent and washed up veterans. His biggest flaw however, is the total failure to instill a winning attitude within the organization. The ownership group of the Diamondbacks tolerates mediocrity...they need to clean house and get some professionals running the team.
This glaring weakness is personified in the manager, AJ Hinch. Here's a Stanford grad who evidently knows baseball. The problem is however, the players don't respect him and they have no fear of any reprisals for poor play and lack of effort. Hinch became the manager too early in his career. He'd be a good Division 1 collegiate coach, right now he's in way over his head.
The Diamondback players are a talented group, looking for leadership. Third baseman Mark Reynolds is a good example. Reynolds has several major league tools, he can hit for power and at times, exerts some leadership qualities. His errors in the field have not diminished however, a few simple improvements in his throwing mechanics and footwork could pay big dividends.
These suggestions need to come from his coaches, who evidently don't know how to either approach him, or they lack the necessary teaching skills and expertise.
Centerfielder Chris Young is another work in progress. Here's a guy who has signed a major league contract, who hit .212 in 2009. Young's lackadaisical effort is an affront to every ticket buyer. A demotion to the minor leagues last year, failed to produce any positive changes.
Catching duties for the D-Backs will be shared by veteran Chris Snyder and untested rookie Miguel Montero. Snyder is coming off an injury filled 2009 season, with a .200 batting average. Snyder is another example of management employing a minor league player. Snyder has had flashes of brilliance, but has never produced on a consistent basis for an entire season.
Two bright spots in the line-up will be shortstop Stephen Drew and outfielder Justin Upton. Both had "admirable" seasons in 2009. Drew is gradually working his way up the ladder as a bona-fide major leaguer. The jury is still out on Upton's mental approach to the game. He has demonstrated major league physical skills, his self confidence and team leadership skills are still in question.
The Diamondback's pitching rotation is built around Dan Haren and Brandon Webb. Haren has distinguished himself as a legitimate big league pitcher whose 2009 season was marred by a lack of run support. There is certainly no guarentee that Webb's arm troubles of last year have stabalized.
The D-Backs bull-pen crew is untested over any length of time in the major leagues. If the bull-pen falters, the D-Backs will be in serious trouble...by mid May. Once the fans get tired of these voibles, it's Katy-by-the-door.
The last area of concern for the Diamondbacks is their broadcast team of announcers. Greg Schulte is the only bright spot. He gives D-Back fans an insightful, professional view of the action. His authentic baseball voice draws in listeners...a true delight.
Mark Grace and Deron Sutton should be banned from the booth. Their immature, self gloating viewpoints make the television broadcasts unwatchable. Their "Red Head Days" might bring in a few fans, but this assinine promotion is another affront to all baseball fans.
The Diamondbacks enter the 2010 season in serious need of success. The fan base can't be expected to continually support an organization who has had nothing to shout about since the 2001 World Series Championship.