The annual Major League Baseball General Manager meetings began Monday with representatives from all 30 franchises meeting at the O’Hare Hilton in Chicago. The Arizona Diamondbacks are represented this year by GM Josh Byrnes with assistants Peter Woodfork, Jerry Dipoto and Bob Gebhard.
Given the season that the Diamondbacks had in 2009, the interest in hiring away the assistant general manager staff from Arizona has mostly evaporated. This group has shown a tendency to focus on objective statistical player evaluation rather than rely on traditional scouting methods.
With the relatively weak class of free-agents during this off-season it will become extremely important for the Diamondbacks to make the right decisions if this team is to return to contention in the National League Western Division.
In the brief time since the end of the World Series the Diamondbacks have shown that they intend to be players in the free agent and trade markets. The potential trade of catcher Chris Snyder looks to be the first of many deals the team will explore.
It may be too early for many deals to be completed but look to the General Manager meetings to provide the framework for discussions between teams that may take until after the Winter Meetings to be completed.
Arizona will not only be looking to shore up first base but will also look to bring in players with more plate discipline capable of getting on base in front of power hitters Mark Reynolds and Justin Upton.
The General Manager meetings are not just for trades though. These executives will also be discussing issues such as perhaps expanding the use of instant reply in baseball. From the proposed agenda and rumors in the hotel it seems unlikely that there will be much movement in instant replay.
While replays showed several calls in the post season that could have benefitted from using instant replay, the General Managers and in turn the owners appear to be content to leaving replay only on those calls to decide home runs.
I am usually a huge proponent of using technology to make sure the calls are right but in this instance I am more interested in maintaining the flow of the game. Watching baseball first hand when instant replay was used, it definitely took away from the game.
I appreciate that not using instant replay may impact the outcome of the game but in baseball there are so many decisions from players, managers, and umpires that it becomes impossible to argue that instant replay alone could solve the game’s problems.
I would much prefer baseball concentrate on speeding up the games. This past season it seemed as though games just drug on. Part of this is because the Diamondbacks lost so many they only seemed to take forever but the fact remained that games continue to go longer.
The amount of time between innings and between pitches are taking longer and longer. Most casual fans begin to lose interest once games go beyond the three-hour mark. Solving that problem would have a much greater impact on the game than adding another instant replay disruption.
So as the General Managers meet through Wednesday all eyes will be focused on Chicago as the hot stove season officially kicks off.