Sorry, Arizona Diamondbacks, your World Series trophy is in another castle. Maybe even Atlanta.
The D-backs thought they’d build themselves into a contender in the offseason, turns out they couldn’t have been more wrong. With the combination of injuries and underperforming new acquisitions, the D-backs could very well finish last in the NL West. And the Padres are in their division!
Like we’ll do with every eliminated team in our Game Over series, we’re about to examine what went wrong for the D-backs, what went right, what’s the best 2016 memory, what they need to fix and what the future might hold.
WHAT WENT WRONG
It started with Zack Greinke and just continued from there. Greinke, their $206 million free-agent acquisition, struggled mightily in his first month with the D-backs (hello, 5.50 ERA). He was better for a stretch, but still hasn’t been the lights-out ace the D-backs were hoping for. Meanwhile, Shelby Miller was a straight-up disaster, spending a good chunk of the season in Triple-A instead of being the solid No. 2 starter the D-backs hoped. Then there was A.J. Pollock’s injury, which nearly robbed him of his entire season. For a team that had playoff aspirations, it was all bad.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Well, for starters, the team didn’t accidentally get swallowed up into a sink hole or get eaten by snakes. So we can put that in the positive column. In January, the D-backs made a surprisingly smart trade (considering their history) when they acquired second baseman Jean Segura from the rebuilding Brewers, and he’s been far and away their best position player this season: he’s hit .317/.365/.485 with 17 home runs. Yasmany Tomas had another solid season, and has a club-leading 29 home runs. The D-backs pitching really doesn’t belong in this paragraph, but if they end up firing Tony LaRussa, that would definitely belong here. (Liz Roscher)
TOP OF THE FLAGPOLE (aka THEIR BEST MOMENT)
Jake Lamb’s great start to the season was one of the few bright spots for the Diamondbacks. The peak of Lamb’s hot first half was May 16 against the Yankees, when he went 3-for-4 with a walk and a home run in a 12-2 win. That was a glimpse that maybe Lamb had the whole package. The 25-year-old third baseman’s play has slumped since the All-Star break but his performances early gave Arizona reason to be optimistic about his future. (Israel Fehr)
CHANGES THEY NEED TO MAKE
The changes have already started with VP of Baseball Operations De Jon Watson getting the boot. More seem likely as Arizona seeks some type of stability in a top-heavy division. Whoever is making the decisions will have a complicated job because it’s not going to be easy fixing their mistakes from last winter. The Shelby Miller disaster won’t just go away. Zack Greinke’s contract might go away at some point, but they’ll either be eating money or getting a lesser return. Current GM Dave Stewart shot for the moon and missed, and now a talented team that may have been fine without all of the aggressive tinkering is stuck in the mud. (Mark Townsend)
WARP TO THE FUTURE
Yes, the Diamondbacks still have a farm system after dealing away Dansby Swanson, among others, for Shelby Miller last year. It’s not a good one, but it does exist.
Socrates Brito underwhelmed in a brief major-league debut in 2016, but seems like he should play a bigger role with the club next season. Reliever Vicente Campos also debuted in 2016, and should open 2017 in the bullpen. Starter Anthony Banda could compete for a spot at the back-end of the rotation during spring training. (Chris Cwik)
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