14 September 2009

Rebuilding Illusions

Q: Is every year a rebuilding year?

Derrick Hall: I would not categorize this as a rebuilding year... It is not a rebuild when you have a core of Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew, Brandon Allen, Miguel Montero, Chris Snyder, Chris Young, Gerardo Parra, Dan Haren, Conor Jackson, Max Scherzer, Ryan Roberts, Juan Gutierrez, Esmerling Vasquez, Dan Schlereth and Chad Qualls in place, to name a few....


To name a few? Heh. See what Hall's up to? In response to a generic rebuilding question, he's done two very clever things.

First, he's taken the traditional concept of "core" (ie typically young impact players an organization builds around) and devalued it to little more than an expanded laundry list of possible 2010 contributors. Since when is 29 year old journeyman Ryan Roberts a franchise cornerstone? In what successful 2009-10 core does Dan Schlereth (and his 8.76 ERA) comfortably reside? What vital contributions can we bank on from Brandon Allen, Chris Snyder, Conor Jackson, Chris Young and the host of young or injured relievers? Hall's elevated all these looming 2010 uncertainties to "core" status, presumably to drum up excitement and overstate his actual hand.

Second, he's not only tied this forward-looking potential to roster stability next year, but very specifically tries to pawn it off as evidence the organization didnt rebuild "this year" either. Rebuilding connotes two impressions that accurately capture Arizona's 2009 season, yet which Hall desperately wants to avoid; instability and losing.

Despite this mis-direction, and Jim McLennan's Oscar-worthy efforts (Best Supporting Role in A Comedy), there's no denying the 2009 Diamondbacks reconstituted a big chunk of their roster, both in contrast to 2008, as well as during the 2009 season. They endured a new skipper and pitching coach in May. Of nine Opening Day starters, only two (Drew, Young) regularly start today. (Ok, stalwarts Upton and Reynolds didnt start the opener, but Chris Young hasnt been the continuous embodiment of stability either.)

Four of Hall's alleged core guys werent even on the 2009 opening day roster, and the pitching staff has new names and unfamiliar roles aplenty: Scherzer, Buckner, Zavada, Vasquez, Boyer. In addition, Garland and Rauch, acquired within the past fourteen months, have departed in favor of even newer faces.

Here's a list of 2008 starters and impact contributors who had lesser or non-existent roles in 2009:

Brandon Webb
Randy Johnson
Micah Owings
Brandon Lyon
Tony Pena
Juan Cruz
Chris Snyder
Orlando Hudson
Conor Jackson

We havent mentioned Eric Byrnes or Chad Tracy. All eleven of these guys have, for one reason or another, been supplanted as part of a significant restructuring, with the likes of Parra, Montero, Roberts, Allen, Garland and Buckner. Most of the bullpen turned over.

I'm not saying there wont be improvements from within this new, second tier of Dbacks. There assuredly will. I'm saying our true core of irreplaceable prime timers is consideraby smaller, and that Hall touting a broadly defined group is something of a contradiction in terms. Sixteen players is essentially 2/3 of a major league roster, and ours may fail to win 70 games this season. If we had an enviable core that large, in any imminent sense, we most likely wouldnt be looking up at the San Diego Padres.

In this business, you're either competing or rebuilding, and to the extent Hall's denied the latter, he's "competing" somewhere other than on the field, embellishing a decidedly underwhelming present and preliminary 2010 structure. How can any organization prioritize the final two months of a disasterous season as "tryouts" for next year, while denying some manner of a rebuild?

Public relations, that's how.

26 comments:

PAUL said...

Best Supporting Role in a Comedy will go to NY Mets trainer Ray Ramirez.

Russell said...

Yeah this struck me as a strange answer that didn't relate to the question. Hall could have said "last year we were competitive but this year due to various events we have decided that it is an ideal opportunity to rebuild around a strong core of young players".

It didn't strike me as good PR to say that where the D-Backs are now is a good place.I think he was wrong footed by the question and ended up being defensive and revealing a lack of coherence that has summed up the season.

Diamondhacks said...

...an ideal opportunity to rebuild around a strong core of young players

Exactly. That's spinworthy too, but at least it's reality-based.

This insatiable need to persuade the public his org is "in a good place" at all times and in every way, especially now, has really tarnished his credibility.

Jim McLennan said...

Sorry you didn't like my analysis - shame you offer nothing but sarcasm and misinformation in lieu of a counter-argument.

Diamondhacks said...

Hall was the subject of my post, but since you cant seem to get a decent critique from amongst your 500+ obedient readers, I'm happy to follow up on my jab.

I thought your research was interesting on its face, but despite several inferences to the contrary, it didnt directly address the central issue of rebuilding.

Rebuilding encompasses more - much more - than legalistic counts of AZ rookies making MLB debuts in a given year or two. It entails all manner of acquisitions that flood a roster with new faces(many of whom arent technical rooks) - and as you alluded to, it speaks to the lack of player quality or readiness and current on field struggles.

You ignore the first point and kinda give lip service to the second, in order to draw spurious inferences:

1. That 2009 doesnt particularly strike you as a rebuild, despite the fact we're twenty games out, sport the youngest positional roster in MLB, and called it quits in July to accelerate the desperate incorporation of prospects at the major league level.

2. That most of the franchise rebuilds occured in the Colangelo era (1998, 2003, 2004) when exactly the opposite is true. 1998 was not a rebuild. It was a build. There's a difference. In 2003, the year Johnson and Schilling went down, the collective infusion of Webb, Valverde, Villareal, Randolph saved the second best staff in the league.

With the exception of 2004, every Colangelo year was a reload more than a pejorative rebuild. You dont have to like it, but that's what it was. By contrast, 2005 was a failed rebuild. 2006? Another failure. 2007 was another rebuild that got miraculously saved by the most fortuitous and inexplicable run distribution in baseball history. I consider 2008 more of a reload (Haren), akin to 2003, that didnt work out. 2009 is another painfully non-competitive rebuild.

I dont have any issue with the tone of your article. It sounds like you're trying to be even-handed. I just find your conclusions poorly considered, and to the extent they're consistent with Mr Hall's insipid cheerleading, uncomfortably predictable at this point.

ps - I consider your previous comment to be a particularly lazy form of trolling. If you feel I'm full of 'misinformation', then at least have the courtesy to spell it out. I dont go to your place and say you're full of crap.

I tell you why you're full of crap ;-)

Michael Norton said...

// I consider your previous comment to be a particularly lazy form of trolling. If you feel I'm full of 'misinformation', then at least have the courtesy to spell it out. I dont go to your place and say you're full of crap.

I tell you why you're full of crap ;-) //

Bravo! Nothing aggravates me more than a two sentence dismissal. That is exactly how Red Sox Chick got on my bad side, btw. I don't mind someone disagreeing with me. I'm often wrong. But no one learns anything when someone knows "the truth" but only tells you you are wrong.

Speaking of marketing, the Diamondbacks haven't got anything on the Nationals. The Strasburg signing has been exploited to the point of being a joke.

Diamondhacks said...

Michael,

RSC is an eerie comp, and it has crossed my mind. Jim brings more to the table, in that he's built the two biggest Dback forums on the net, but the pattern of inflammatory post, reader reply, pathological obfuscation and threats in lieu of meaningful ground rules, certainly brings back memories :-)

Jim McLennan said...

I stuck to a two-sentence dismissal, because that was at least one and a half sentences additional criticism than you gave me. Frankly, it was a lot more than you deserved.

Now, you've actually come up with something other than snark - bravo for that. I'll see if I can find time for a rebuttal later tonight or tomorrow.

As for, "I dont go to your place and say you're full of crap" - do you really want me to pull 'Hacks greatest *hits from the 'Pit? I think not...

jamaal said...

If I may interject, the following data and bolded blurb is from billjamesonline.net

Pos Player Starts
C Snyder 52
1B Clark 14
2B Lopez 81
3B Tracy 58
SS Drew 112
LF Jackson 25
CF Young 100
RF Byrnes 50
Total 492

Arizona's opening-day
starters accounted for
43% of their regular
season starting lineup.


This is the lowest figure in the major leagues. Here are the NL figures:

PHI 89%
LAD 86
HOU 83
FLA 76
CHI 73
MIL 71
SFO 70
COL 69
ATL 64
STL 59
SDG 59
PIT 55
CIN 52
NYM 51
WAS 51
ARI 43

Perhaps this may not speak directly to rebuilding in a philosophical sense, but it certainly speaks to raw turnover...and to the extent an Opening Day lineup represents a philosophy or plan, most likely reflects some degree of philosophical change as well.

Jim McLennan said...

"Jamaal", if you take Arizona's *2nd* start, the very next day:

Pos Player Starts
C Montero 89
1B Tracy 58
2B Lopez 81
3B Reynolds 137
SS Drew 112
LF Jackson 25
CF Young 100
RF Upton 120
Total 722

This equals 61.4%, putting them basically in the middle of the pack. "Raw turnover" is measured very poorly by picking a single lineup - especially one created by the Mad Scientist, who played match-ups like our son plays WoW...

jamaal said...

Jim:

I suppose one can pick any day one likes, but there are several issues with your subsequent treatment of the data.

Comparing Arizona's 2nd day of the season with other teams' 1st day may not be too material, but the methodology is statistically unsound; unless you've tabulated all the teams' figures for your selected day, as billjames has?

Second, the Opening Day NL median was 66.5%, so I'm puzzled how Arizona's 43% and 61.7% figures comprise "middle of the pack", especially when the latter figure includes Montero, who wasnt the organization's #1 catcher early in the season. but who raises the figure above 60%. By either measure, turnover was relatively "high" by league standards.

There are other, perhaps better, ways to measure turnover and instability. I believe Brandon Allen is the organization's sixth candidate this year to try his hand at first base, after Clark, Jackson, Tracy, Reynolds & Whitesell, the Jew. Rebuild via trial and error, wouldnt you say?

How many fielders have been forced to play out of position or relatively poorly? Parra, Romero and Oeltgen play because organizational mainstay Byrnes is worse, and they even play center on occasion because organizational mainstay Young was temporarily deemed less than major league caliber.

Do the Diamondbacks really have a second baseman? A #4 or #5 starter? A reliable bullpen chain of custody in the 7th,8th and 9th innings? These are all works in progress, projects if you will. Rebuilding projects.

In the end, it's a subjective term, and perhaps this discussion would be better served by defining the term rather than going back and forth pretending to count it.

My view is the Diamondbacks have some excellent core players, but to Matt's point, this team is still twenty games or so under breakeven. It sems to me that overall status places these player movements, these various works in progress, squarely into the "rebuilding" bin.

Diamondhacks said...

perhaps this discussion would be better served by defining the term rather than going back and forth pretending to count it.

Yes. I imagine Jim will try (again) to "prove" the organization is stable by contriving more numbers for us, but stability, rebuilding, etc are ultimately perceptions, not absolutes.

That's why Derrick blows smoke about his sixteen man "core" of stability - because he cant embellish the objective W/L record.

Many factors contribute to this perception of "rebuilding". Losing. Dramatically unmet preseason expectations. Managerial and coaching changes. Injuries. Personnel changes. Lots of young players. Players playing out of position. More overmatched pitchers than AZ fans are used to seeing.

In the Dbacks case, an unfair factor is that the true core is so young that some fans dont appreciate how stable or valuable they are yet. Even today, some fans will tell you Upton and Reynolds are part of the incompetence, which is ridiculous, unless one's targeting defensive grace.

Other than that, I think the perceptions of instability are warranted, if not easily quantifiable. Last time I checked, this team was dead last in defensive efficiency, dead last in turning double plays, dead last in wild pitches (most WP) and 14th in runners caught stealing. On the hitting side, they're dead last in strikeouts, dead last in HBP, and 14th in OPS+, sac hits and SF.

Despite individual talents and regardless of whose fault it is, it's evident this is a team still learning how to play the game - still figuring things out. That's as close as I can come to defining "rebuild".

Russell said...

"this is a team still learning how to play the game - still figuring things out."


Which is why it was such a mistake to put them under the control of a manager who is learning how to manage the game and still figuring things out.

Quoting stats and percentages about line-ups makes interesting reading but to the average fan this doesn't "feel" like a stable team and my guess is that it doesnt feel like it to the players either.

Jim McLennan said...

You might want to sit down, get a drink, maybe a sandwich, because this will take a while. I should mention that my piece had been in preparation for some time before Hall's comments - in fact, it was triggered by a comment you made about the 2009 Triple-A Diamondbacks, I think a good month or so ago. That said, where to start. Let's go with, "Of nine Opening Day starters, only two (Drew, Young) regularly start today." Yet the very next day, that number increases to six - and you should count Conor Jackson too, unless you consider his pneumonia to be part of Hall's rebuilding plan?

Oh, hang on: seems you do - and also Brandon Webb's frayed labrum. Because further down, Webb and Jackson are part of the list you say have "been supplanted as part of a significant restructuring." And there I was, thinking valley fever was a fungal lung disease, when all along it was a management choice! However, the team still controls both players for 2010, and there has been no reliable information to suggest that either won't be in Arizona.

Yet, at the same time, you subsequently reject the claim that 2003 was a rebuild, because it was "the year Johnson and Schilling went down." You can't have it both ways. This season, losses due to injury have been just as crucial. We lost a 22-7 pitcher in Brandon Webb, and his replacements have gone 5-17 instead with an ERA more than twice as much as Webb. Even if you don't accept Webb's injury is worth 17 wins, you can't deny the massive impact it had on the team this year. Then there's Jackson and Snyder, two of the best hitters on the team last year - only 25 and 51 starts from them respectively in 2009. Last year, according to fangraphs.com, those three were worth 12.1 wins above replacement; this season, -0.6.

That's the major factor in dropping the team out of the division. And in turn, it led to the early departure of players like Jon Garland and Felipe Lopez (another 1.9 WAR for the Brewers since joining them); one-year rentals whom there was absolutely no point in retaining, once it was decided we weren't in the playoff hunt. Getting something for them - rather than the nothing we'd likely have got had they departed as free agents - makes sense, and in absolutely no way indicates a fundamental rebuild. It's what teams out of the post-season do, every year. Teams are buyers or sellers, but the latter, by itself, does not indicate rebuilding. That's now fifteen wins in total accounted for, without any real 'rebuilding'.

Moving on, "Four of Hall's alleged core guys werent even on the 2009 opening day roster" So that means 75% of them were? Of the four who weren't: Esmerling Vasquez was up by the end of April and has posted a very core-like 118 ERA+; Brandon Allen arrived at the D-backs in a trade for Tony Pena (who would certainly be described as a core component of the team), so his absence on the Opening Day roster is hardly surprising; Gerardo Parra was an injury replacement for Byrnes and/or Jackson; and Daniel Schlereth came up after we lost our LOOGY, Scott Schoeneweis. Or was the death of Schoeneweis's wife part of the "significant restructuring" too?

The point I'm making is that only a couple of the changes which resulted in "the core" named by Hall were made by choice. And claiming Max Scherzer as part of the pitching staff which "has new names and unfamiliar roles aplenty" is even more dubious. His debut was in April *2008*, he made seven starts that season and threw more innings than Juan Cruz, and almost the same as Yusmeiro Petit or Brandon Lyon.

I see Blogger only allows 4,096 characters, so I'll copy and paste the rest in Part 2

Jim McLennan said...

To mention a couple of things by Jamaal: "Comparing Arizona's 2nd day of the season with other teams' 1st day may not be too material, but the methodology is statistically unsound." The point is that a tiny change in the source data results in a major change in the results. This indicates the hypothesis being propoosed is chaotic [in the mathematical sense of the word] and unstable, so should not be relied upon. 61.7% is not statistically different from the median of 66.5% - that's what I meant by 'middle of the pack'.

"I believe Brandon Allen is the organization's sixth candidate this year to try his hand at first base." Actually, you forgot Rusty Ryal and Chris Snyder, who also played there - though the latter was simply the result of an extra inning game. Again, this number proves nothing: the Red Sox have used eight 1B this season; the Cardinals seven. Are both those (thoroughly playoff-bound) teams rebuilding too?

"Do the Diamondbacks really have a second baseman? A #4 or #5 starter? A reliable bullpen chain of custody in the 7th,8th and 9th innings?" The D-backs have actually used nine starters this year - only one team in the league has FEWER [the Braves with eight], so our rotation has been more stable than many, and that's when our #1 lock was basically absent the entire year. The bullpen to me looks pretty solidly like Vasquez -> Gutierrez -> Qualls, assuming all are healthy. So, really, the only genuine issue mentioned is second-base: one spot on the field, 4% of the roster. As rebuilds go...well, this doesn't.

To me, players getting injured, catching fungal lung diseases or suffering domestic tragedies are irrelevant. A rebuild only happens when a conscious, deliberate decision is made by the front office to replace a significant component of the team with younger, cheaper alternatives, in the hope that those players will grow to be suitable replacements. Not when circumstances force them to do so. There is little or no evidence that the former has taken place on the Diamondbacks this season - with the potential exception of the bullpen, and injuries permitting, the bulk of the 2010 roster will be players on their third or higher season with the major-league club, and some a good deal longer than that. While there had been rebuilding going on, it happened in 2006 and 2007, not this year.

This is clear if you look at payroll: by any measure, rebuilds should not result in increased salaries. Yet payroll this year is up 11% on last season and 41% on 2007. This is completely inconsistent with a rebuild. Contrast 2003 and 2004 under Colangelo, where payroll was slashed by a third, from $103 million in 2002, to less than seventy. It somewhat succeeded in 2003, as replacements like Brandon Webb, Jose Valverde, etc. were far above replacement level. But when he tried to do it again on the position player side in 2004, it failed, because those weren't major-league standard.

"stability, rebuilding, etc are ultimately perceptions, not absolutes." Now, there may certainly be a "perception" that this is a rebuilding year, but that doesn't make it so, any more than your "perception" this is a bad defensive teams means they actually are. [UZR has us fourth-best in the NL] You can measure stability. You can see how much rebuilding has gone on. If you want to show there is a rebuild, you need to pick an objective standard and then analyze the data. This is what I have attempted to do, both here and in my original piece. To me, this seems more honest an approach than merely bartering opinions - some of which, to be frank, appear largely formed out of prejudice of one kind or another. The latter approach inevitably renders any resulting conclusions highly-suspect.

There. I hope that satisfies both you and Michael!

Russell said...

Jim- you missed an apostrophe from weren't in paragraph 5. I seem to remember that you regarded somebody miss-spelling "homophobic" as sufficient reason to dismiss their argument (you mentioned it several times). Similarly, I abhor bad grammar and therefore gave up on your post. Please proof read your posts.

Jim McLennan said...

Unfortunately, since you mis-spelled "mis-spelling" - oh, the irony - I am left with no other option but to complete ignore you.

Sorry.

Russell said...

Apology accepted.

Diamondhacks said...

This reads more like a cult pamphlet than exercises in reason. Numerous articles of faith cloaked as rigorous analysis. Irrelevant and tangential data. Partisan accounting and presumptions galore. The reflexive need to misconstrue those who discern your schlock for what it is.

Take Jamaal's point about Brandon Allen, that the Dbacks have shuffled an assortment of sad sacks at first. A glaring organizational weakness this year. Citing Boston or StL as a counterpoint, let alone "proof" of anything, on the basis of how many extras filled in for Pujols or Youk just makes you look like a dope and an asshole. Pass.

I get chastised for insincerely noting the 2003 team was "good", while this year we "suck", despite the fact both injured squads started 12-17? One organization brought up Brandon Webb from the farm, to, you know, win. The other, AJ Hinch, Bill Buckner, Trent Oeltgen, et al. Management decisions in direct response to circumstance. Reload vs rebuild. Competitiveness & substance vs last place "survival" w/ smoke and mirrors. The rather mainstream point is, "We stink!" and didnt then and your curious reluctance to entertain the difference seems the insincerity here.

And there I was, thinking valley fever was a fungal lung disease, when all along it was a management choice!

No, mgmt's choice (& responsibility) is how well they contingency plan around injuries. In the case of Snyder (Montero), they did great - and get extra credit for a hard to fill position. For all the preseason braying about rotational stability, they were poorly positioned for the virtual certainty at least one starter would miss time, as evidenced by the miserable #5 fill-ins you've fussed about all year. Mgmt did a weak job filling in less challenging positions, Jackson in left and at first, as previously mentioned. Mgmt was ill positioned and, it turnd out, sufficiently misguided to seriously compete in the event of injuries.

I recognize they've taken a couple big hits, but to hear Derrick and you talk, you'd think a)other teams dont sustain injuries, and b) they had little to no chance to compete this season. "B" is revisionist bullshit of the worst kind. They hired Hinch precisely because they believed they would turn it around this year. They said so in the press conference. Over and over again.

Instead, they collapsed under the new guy, who came in 4.5 back in the wildcard, setup with a pretty Nationals/Reds homestand. Mgmt miscalculated and it cost them at least this season. At 12-17, it was not a lost, last place season in any predetermined sense, any more than 2003 was. 2009 was a miserable competitive failure, due to injuries and really shitty organizational decisions.

How come I can recognize the former but you not the latter? To deny it, or to flit above it, makes you and Derrick both greasy partisan crybabies.

Gee, there's so much more. I can see your side of the salary argument. I dont agree with it 100%, but in the traditionally accepted vein of front office 'rebuilding', I respect your point. To me, rebuilding (that perception you eschew) is just as tied to on field results as it is to back office accounting. Would you be happier if I characterized 2009 as "scrambling" rather than your strict interpretation of payroll "rebuilding"? I'm ok with that for the purposes of this discussion.

The important thing, I think, is that rebuilding, scrambling, whatever we call 2009, is a function of many things. We disagree on exactly how devastating injuries were to our chances, but that's fine. We agree they were a significant factor. What I dont think is fine, is for anyone to promulgate a myth that 2009 was a predetermined failure due to injury or 'circumstance'. That's loser talk. Unaccountable loser talk. To the extent failure played itself out, mgmt inevitably played a role - in terms of preparation, personnel, coaching and response to circumstance. To deny that robs anyone of a credible voice on the matter.

Caroline said...

Hall is an idiot. Or rather, he takes fans for idiots and just rattles off what he thinks we want to here. Public relations? Of course.
As I looked at my 2007 NL West Champions shirt the other day, I realized that I can count the number of guys on the active roster now on one hand. Are the D-Backs becoming the Marlins, rebuilding after every playoff year?
Nothing good will come of AJ "Let's Use Jon Garland As A Pinch Hitter" Hinch. Even the Rockies' announcers hate him.

Jim McLennan said...

I can find good reasons to disagree with a lot of things. For example, "Jamaal" only pointed out the NUMBER of 1B we've had this year, as if this meant anything. He didn't say a single word about the quality of them - unless the strange description of "Whitesell the Jew" is meant as some comment? You completely move the goalposts from quantity to quality, then berate me for not arguing against a case that was never made, and hope I won't notice. Damn straight: "Pass" is right.

However, your final paragraph is a good summary. The failure this year is indeed a function of many things, and 2009 was not a predetermined failure. I genuinely expected this team to be competitive this year - and I think if we hadn't lost our best pitcher and hitter, we would have been.

Still, the lack of depth, most obviously in the team's rotation, was cruelly exposed, and the blame for that should certainly be laid at the door of management. I've absolutely no problem with that, though I think you severely underestimate the pressures of a fixed salary bill in a mid-to-small budget franchise. With league average starters commanding $8m or more, where, exactly, would you have cut back in 2009 [so no "not signing EB" comments!], in order to fund the additional depth we needed?

Diamondhacks said...

The failure this year is indeed a function of many things, and 2009 was not a predetermined failure....The lack of depth, most obviously in the team's rotation, was cruelly exposed, and the blame for that should certainly be laid at the door of management.

Thank you. If I mis-stated either position, I apologize.

I think if we hadn't lost our best pitcher and hitter, we would have been [competitive].

What? We lost Haren and Upton? This has been an unlucky season! Seriously, we disagree on how to measure this type of thing, so it might make for a decent debate sometime.

Regarding the first base kerfuffle, you continue to sound like an asshole. The issue of org player quality not only permeates the thread, it's central to Jamaal's remarks, that you continue to mischaracterize.

He directly asked you, "Rebuild via trial and error?" "How many players have been forced to play out of position or poorly?" Initially, you stripped his position of meaning by ignoring this quality aspect we've all focused on. Now, you insist he "didnt say a word" about quality, which just adds to the bad faith gymnastics.

I realize that's your bread and butter at snakepit: corrupt a perfectly good position, belittle it under the guise of "objectivity", act all hurt when you get outed, and blame others for the whole 'misunderstanding'. People here are too smart for that. Implicitly. Explicitly. Everybody "gets" the lousiness of our first basemen was central to the issue. Nobody moved the goalposts and you didnt pee on it with "good reason" - you pissed on it just to be obtuse and disagreeable, and belittled Jamaal's contribution in the process. So you got belittled back. Twice now...and counting. That's the way it works here.

I think you severely underestimate the pressures of a fixed salary bill in a mid-to-small budget franchise.

Severely? It's true our margin for front office error is smaller than the most profligate clubs, and there's a correlation between payroll and success, but external variables make our payroll not much of an excuse for losing.

According to USA Today, ten clubs have lower payroll, seven with better records. Of those, I think only Tampa Bay, maybe Florida have had low cost farm quality as highly touted as ours. 2009 spending is within $5M of the Cardinals and Rockies. My point is, a lot goes into winning besides money; player development and evaluation, roster construction and trades, coaching, culture, etc.

where, exactly, would you have cut back in 2009 [so no "not signing EB" comments!], in order to fund the additional depth we needed?

Per above, competitive responsibilities dont begin and end with funding. And to the extent your question pits my highly suspect acumen against JB's, it seems his poor decisions from previous years, that constrain 2009 options, should be on the table. How's that for a dodge ;-)

cheers

Diamondhacks said...

Are the D-Backs becoming the Marlins, rebuilding after every playoff year?

Caroline, so called 'experts' may dismiss your question on grounds the Fish payroll is almost laughably small, and uncorroborated reports their owner makes unusually large profits. But Florida's also won more games than we have in four of the past five years, so it's actually a very good question.

Jim McLennan said...

He directly asked you, "Rebuild via trial and error?" "How many players have been forced to play out of position or poorly?"

And what actual evidence did he present for this position? That we had used six first baseman. Not one sentence more. So is that "the way it works here" too? Make a claim and not bother to support it? Actually, yeah, it does sound about par... "Jamaal" and you have a lot in common, don't you?

"According to USA Today, ten clubs have lower payroll, seven with better records."

Nice try, but not even close. How many of them lost a 22-game winner and their best hitter from the previous season? That would be "none at all". Small-budget teams lack a margin for error and can see their seasons derailed by one or two injuries to their top players. That's exactly what happened in 2009 to Arizona.

Russell said...

It's true that the loss of Webb and Jackson has affected the team, but the Diamondbacks have not so much "derailed" as simply plummeted over the edge of a cliff. I think the injury excuse was used way too early in the season (to defend a managerial change that seemed to be going wrong)and this gave the players on the field the impression (consciously or subconsciously) that they weren't expected to challenge. The FO should be saying that these kind of performances are not acceptable (I hope that they are at least saying that behind closed doors).

Diamondhacks said...

Russell,
far too reasonable ;-)

Jimmy Mac,

How many times do you care to lose the same argument? Dbacks positional quality is easily documented, so I imagine Jamaal posed the point as a question to be polite, or to save space, or maybe even to defer to your supposed baseball smarts (I'm not really sure). Instead of reciprocating, you blew off his questions (still have, in case anyone's keeping score), to drag the rebuilding discussion to irrelevant blather about Albert Pujols and Youk. And you cant stop attacking his evidence and argumentation?

Good grief. This isnt snakepit, where you can hide behind irrelevancy and a ban button. One needs to be relevant and reasonably well-adjusted to survive here, and it's all too evident your personality, such as it is, precludes you from handling straightforward arguments, or your own limitations for that matter - in favor of reflexively spewing obtuse nonsense.

You think "ten clubs have lower payroll, seven with better records" is a nice try? Nice try or not, it's a glaring reality you shelter yourself from, with the larger than life shadows of Webb and Jackson. Everyone realizes their absences hurt. Everyone also realizes Dbacks 2009 failures were due to far more. Texas lost Josh Hamilton, Liriano and Slowey went down in Minnesota, Peavy and Young in San Diego - and this is just off the top of my head. That's not to say their injuries were equal or greater than ours - that's not the point. The point is our net injury impact amounts to a fraction of your melodramatic accounting. Keep referring to Brandon as "22-7 Brandon Webb", and Conor as "the best hitter on the team in 2008". It's just another cue to not take you seriously.