The Arizona Diamondbacks are firmly ensconced in the cellar of the National League Western Division and if the current road trip is any indication they have no intention of leaving last place any time soon. Last season the team’s struggles were defined as a lack of proper coaching and injuries.
It has now been a full season with AJ Hinch as the manager after he took over for Bob Melvin last May. Pitching and hitting coaches have also been replaced and this year the team has a new first base coach and third base coach. Still the team flounders and finds ways to lose games they should win.
Early in the year you could point at the bullpen as the major flaw and reason for the team’s lackluster results. The Diamondbacks have infused new bodies into the beleaguered bullpen yet the struggles continue.
Add to the fact the offense has shown signs of formidable power then inexplicably disappears for long stretches giving the starting pitching little or no support. When the offense does show up and puts pressure on the opposing team, the starting pitching will flop giving up runs by the handful.
Fans, coaches, team officials are all at a loss trying to understand how this core of players who reached the National League Championship Series in 2007 can suddenly be incapable of sustaining any kind of consistency for more than two or three games.
The Diamondbacks need to do something to break this habitual losing that has now been occurring for over two years. It’s not feasible to suggest wholesale changes take place to the roster. Given the production or lack thereof that most of these players are exhibiting there is little value on the trade market.
Even if they could find a trading partner, what could you expect to get in exchange for underperforming players? If you can’t make a valid trade to make the team better then you have to look within the organization for answers.
If we take starting pitching as an example, a look down to Triple-A Reno does not give you much hope of finding a solution to the problems the team is facing. Only three pitchers at Reno have more than four starts – Bryan Augenstein, Matt Torra, and Kevin Mulvey.
Augenstein has the most work having 62 innings over 11 starts. In those Augenstein has a 6.39 ERA and a 2-6 record. Torra is not much better with a 3-3 record in 60.2 innings. His 3.41 ERA looks better but he has given up five home runs in nine starts. Not exactly encouraging.
At Double-A Mobile, the prospects don’t look much better. Starter Tom Layne has a 6-2 record over 60 innings but he has given up four home runs and walked 21 batters. Bryan Shaw has a 1-5 record in 52.1 innings and has a 5.68 ERA so his effectiveness is questionable at best.
The position players have similar concerns. At nearly every level the Diamondbacks farm system shows hitters with power but with alarming strike out totals. Looking over the upper levels of the minor leagues it looks as though help will not come from the farm system to stem the losses that are mounting. This has all the makings of a very long summer in Arizona if this trend continues.