Organizational Evaluation Begins

Just a day after Kirk Gibson was named the permanent manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks the work really begins. Gibson along with General Manager Kevin Towers will begin meeting with player development personnel to evaluate players and coaches at every level of the organization.

The hopes and dreams of many will be settled as a result of these evaluations. Players who signed a professional baseball contract with the dreams of someday being on a big league roster will be released, left in the off-season to reassess their love for the game.

Now is the time when the organization will define who they will become. Will this team be a pitching first franchise that may struggle to score runs but their starters will keep you in every game? Or will this be a club built on offense who hopes to out slug their opponents?

One thing is clear, this franchise cannot continue on the path they are on. For nearly three seasons their roster has been constructed of impatient hitter’s with little plate discipline. The 2010 season saw them blossom for all the wrong reasons going dormant for long stretches and susceptible to the strikeout.

That last sentence may well be the greatest understatement ever made. The Diamondbacks have excelled at striking out as seen by the obliteration of the single season strikeout record of 1399 held by the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers.

Arizona would finish the year with 1529 strikeouts, a record that may stand forever. Of course if the Diamondbacks keep this group of players together that record could fall next season.

This team has proven that having five members in the top 20, two in the top five, in strikeouts makes it difficult to expect any result other than a last place finish.

While Towers has described his first priorities for the team is to rebuild the worst bullpen in the major leagues and strength the bench, he will need to address the corner infielders Adam LaRoche and Mark Reynolds who accounted for 383 strikeouts between them.

The team has an option on LaRoche and signed Reynolds to a long term deal so both remain a concern for 2011. With Reynolds coming off a subpar year where he hit a measly .198, his trade value may be at an all-time low.

LaRoache who is at least a good defensive player who can drive in runs has more value on the trade market but was also a calming force on the diamond making Reynolds as well as shortstop Stephen Drew and second baseman Kelly Johnson better by recovering errant throws to first.

Given the state of the Diamondbacks upper levels of the farm system they have no immediate successor at either position. A trade would therefore have to net them pieces that could fill in the holes created.

While the fans would like to believe the Diamondbacks are close to turning the ship around. The more you begin to dig under the covers the more potential problems you find. Hopefully through these player and coaching assessments they will develop an organizational identity and philosophy.


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