The Diamondbacks are a punchline.
GM Kevin Towers wants his eye-for-an-eye, and he has his like-minded henchman in the dugout in Kirk Gibson. Both wish for the Diamondbacks to be the league’s most intimidating team, a group of gritty, do-anything-it-takes-to-win outlaws. When it comes to the roster, talent has taken a backseat to simply fitting the mold.
But it hasn’t worked. Not at all. After consecutive .500 seasons, the Diamondbacks are 48-63 this year. The future seems even more bleak. They’re not a young club now, and they’ve traded a number of prospects for veterans the last two years.
On Saturday, the Diamondbacks flat-out embarrassed themselves. Because of their mentality, it was a given that they’d seek revenge after Paul Goldschmidt suffered a broken finger when he was hit by a pitch during Friday’s game. There was nothing intentional about that pitch, something Goldschmidt himself acknowledged. But the Diamondbacks were going to drill Andrew McCutchen last night regardless.
No, what was pathetic about the whole incident was that the Diamondbacks did nothing the first three times McCutchen was up. They waited until they were down 5-1 in the ninth, then they had Randall Delgado throw a 95-mph fastball at the small of McCutchen’s back. A little higher, and a team with no postseason aspirations might have had a huge effect on a team aiming to play in October.
It was a true act of cowardice from baseball’s most ludicrous tough guys.
MLB will suspend Delgado for the incident, but what it really needs to do is go after the director. Delgado was following orders. Gibson orchestrated things. An uncommonly long suspension would serve him right.
But the Diamondbacks… they need to clean house and move on. New team president Tony La Russa should get rid of both Gibson and Towers, not because of Saturday’s incident, but simply because it’s long overdue.
It isn’t difficult to see the fingerprints left by Cubs’ president Tom Ricketts and general manager Theo Epstein on the club’s remarkable 2016 season. In a piece for FOXSports.com, former Yankee Alex Rodriguez highlighted the duo’s effectiveness in liberating the Cubs from a five-year losing streak and six-year postseason drought, citing both the unrelenting work ethic and passion that Ricketts and Epstein brought to the club as major factors in their success.
Rodriguez’s first brush with sabermetric savant and all-around baseball wizard Theo Epstein came in 2003, when the then- 27-year-old All-Star was eyeing a deal with the Red Sox. The Major League Baseball Players Association eventually nixed the trade, and the Rangers’ young shortstop was sent to the Yankees shortly thereafter, but not before Rodriguez glimpsed the inner workings of Epstein’s mind.
What I remember best about that time was watching Theo furiously scribbling out the Red Sox lineup for the upcoming season on a room-service napkin. That’s when I saw Theo’s baseball mind at work. I saw he had a passion for the game, a depth of knowledge, and a thirst to be great. Theo’s passion was contagious. We were three 20-somethings convinced we were about to turn baseball upside down together. Though I never got a chance to work with Theo, I knew then that he was going to be a force.
A-Rod also referenced Ricketts’ thorough approach to rebuilding the organization. Ricketts, who purchased the franchise for $875 million in 2009, first made it his mission to transform Wrigley Field into a comfortable and enticing playing environment, then targeted top-tier management to run the show behind the scenes. With Ricketts fully backing Epstein’s transformative approaches — including an overhaul of the Cubs’ farm system, investments in international player development, and a comprehensive understanding and practical application of sabermetric advances — the Cubs’ path to a 97-win season in 2015 seemed a natural consequence of the pair’s hard work.
This year, the attention has been even more intensely focused on the Cubs’ elusive third World Series title. Rodriguez, however, believes that winning a championship is secondary to the strides Ricketts and Epstein have taken with the club.
Together, Ricketts and Epstein have built one of the greatest franchises in baseball and transformed 1060 W. Addison St. It’s a task that no one could quite get right for a hundred years. While four more wins would put a giant exclamation point on five years of focused work and determination, I won’t worry if this team doesn’t win the World Series in the next nine days.
Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports that the Mets are expected to pick up the 2017 option for Reyes, but they haven’t done it yet. The option will be worth the major league minimum salary ($507,500), as the Rockies will continue to pay down the remainder of Reyes’ $41 million remaining on his contract.
The Mets signed Reyes after the Rockies released him in June. He had a .659 OPS in Colorado but improved to a .769 OPS in 279 plate appearances with the Mets, mostly playing third base in place of the injured David Wright. Bringing Reyes back next season will provide them more insurance at the hot corner.
Reyes, 33, served a 51-game suspension due to an offseason domestic violence incident while on vacation in Hawaii with his wife. As a result, he didn’t make his season debut until July 5, having spent some additional time in the minor leagues to get into game shape.