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Dave Stewart: ‘My gut the whole time said I shouldn’t move Dansby Swanson.’

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Former Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart appeared on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday to reflect on his time with the team. Stewart talked about the difficulties he faced in his role and expressed regret for trading top prospect Dansby Swanson. From MLB Network Radio’s Twitter:

The full interview can be heard here.

Swanson was taken by the Diamondbacks first overall in the 2015 draft. Six months later, the club sent him to the Braves along with outfielder Ender Inciarte and pitching prospect Aaron Blair. They got starter Shelby Miller and minor league pitcher Gabe Speier in return. It’s a trade that was widely ridiculed at the time and still is to this day. Miller went on to have a horrendous season, finishing 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA. He battled mechanical issues which caused him to drag his fingers on the dirt on his follow-through. Blair struggled with the Braves, but Inciarte won a Gold Glove Award and Swanson lived up to the hype in a small sample size of 38 games.

The Swanson trade was not the only blemish on Stewart’s record with the D-Backs, however. The club traded pitching prospect Touki Toussaint and veteran Bronson Arroyo to the Braves for infielder Phil Gosselin. The trade was basically a way for the D-Backs to shift Arroyo’s salary to the Braves. Stewart downplayed Toussaint’s importance by suggesting he can’t even hit 96 MPH anymore. Well, Toussaint hit 98 MPH in a start for the Braves’ Single-A affiliate in Rome shortly thereafter.

There was the Zack Greinke contract. Greinke was 32 years old when he inked a six-year, $206.5 million contract with the Diamondbacks in December 2015. Signing a player in his mid-30’s to a six-year contract worth in excess of $200 million isn’t the wisest of moves, many can tell you. And Greinke went on to have his worst season since he was a 21-year-old with the Royals back in 2005.

Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract, was been worth -1.8 WAR in two seasons, according to Baseball Reference. The D-Backs have baseball’s worst minor league system, ESPN’s Keith Law says. The Diamondbacks undoubtedly would have ranked a fair bit higher with Swanson, Blair, and Toussaint still in the system. The organization has habitually resisted embracing technology and analytics.

(Update: As FanGraph’s Eric Longenhagen notes, there’s also the $8.27 million Yoan Lopez deal. Most scouts were not very high on the Cuban right-hander. The signing put the Diamondbacks over their pool allotment, making them unable to sign any other international free agents for more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods. Lopez left the team twice, most recently with the intent to retire, but he returned in August to pitch for the team in rookie ball. The Diamondbacks also left $1.7 million in draft money unspent in 2015.)

Stewart blamed the Diamondbacks’ upper management for hamstringing him, and he also blamed injuries for the team’s poor results. It might very well be true that he had pressure from above to make some of the unfortunate transactions they made. But part of the job of being a GM is being the public face of a team, which means receiving most of the accolades when things go well and bearing the brunt of the blame when things go poorly. Furthermore, this is not the first time Stewart has been salty since leaving Arizona. In October, after he was fired, Stewart said, “Quite frankly, I’ve got better things to do. I just got to figure out what to do next, but really, I’ll be just fine.” He called his firing “almost a relief.”

Based on everything that’s come out about the failed Stewart-La Russa regime, it sounds like there was a lot of dysfunction in the Diamondbacks’ front office. Now it’s Mike Hazen’s turn to try to fix it.

Marlins clinch 1st playoff berth since 2003, beat Yanks 4-3

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NEW YORK (AP) Forced from the field by COVID-19, the Miami Marlins returned with enough force to reach the playoffs for the first time since their 2003 championship.

An NL-worst 57-105 a year ago, they sealed the improbable berth on the field of the team that Miami CEO Derek Jeter and manager Don Mattingly once captained.

“I think this is a good lesson for everyone. It really goes back to the players believing,” Mattingly said Friday night after a 4-3, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.

Miami will start the playoffs on the road Wednesday, its first postseason game since winning the 2003 World Series as the Florida Marlins, capped by a Game 6 victory in the Bronx over Jeter and his New York teammates at the previous version of Yankee Stadium.

“We play loose. We got nothing to lose. We’re playing with house money.,” said Brandon Kintzler, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded after Jesus Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th. “We are a dangerous team. And we really don’t care if anyone says we’re overachievers.”

Miami (30-28), second behind Atlanta in the NL East, became the first team to make the playoffs in the year following a 100-loss season. The Marlins achieved the feat despite being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that prevented them from playing for more than a week.

After the final out, Marlins players ran onto the field, formed a line and exchanged non socially-distant hugs, then posed for photos across the mound.

“I can’t contain the tears, because it’s a lot of grind, a lot of passion,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “It wasn’t just the virus. Last year we lost 100 games. But we came out this year with the hope everything was going to be better. When we had the outbreak, the guys who got an opportunity to help the organization, thank you for everything you did.”

Miami was one of baseball’s great doubts at the start of the most shortened season since 1878, forced off the field when 18 players tested positive for COVID-19 following the opening series in Philadelphia.

“Yeah, we’ve been through a lot. Other teams have been through a lot, too,” Mattingly said “This just not a been a great situation. It’s just good to be able to put the game back on the map.”

New York (32-26) had already wrapped up a playoff spot but has lost four of five following a 10-game winning streak and is assured of starting the playoffs on the road. Toronto clinched a berth by beating the Yankees on Thursday.

“I don’t like any time somebody celebrates on our field or if we’re at somebody else’s place and they celebrate on their field,” Yankees star Aaron Judge said. “I’m seeing that too much.”

Mattingly captained the Yankees from 1991-95 and is in his fifth season managing the Marlins, Jeter captained the Yankees from 2003-14 as part of a career that included five World Series titles in 20 seasons and is part of the group headed by Bruce Sherman that bought the Marlins in October 2017.

Garrett Cooper, traded to the Marlins by the Yankees after the 2017 season, hit a three-run homer in the first inning off J.A. Happ.

After the Yankees tied it on Aaron Hicks‘ two-run double off Sandy Alcantara in the third and Judge’s RBI single off Yimi Garcia in the eighth following an error by the pitcher on a pickoff throw, the Marlins regained the lead with an unearned run in the 10th against Chad Green (3-3).

Jon Berti sacrificed pinch-runner Monte Harrison to third and, with the infield in, Starling Marte grounded to shortstop. Gleyber Torres ran at Harrison and threw to the plate, and catcher Kyle Higashioka‘s throw to third hit Harrison in the back, giving the Yankees a four-error night for the second time in three games.

With runners at second and third, Aguilar hit a sacrifice fly.

Brad Boxberger (1-0) walked his leadoff batter in the ninth but got Luke Voit to ground into a double play, and Kintzler held on for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Miami ended the second-longest postseason drought in the majors – the Seattle Mariners have been absent since 2001.

Miami returned Aug. 4 following an eight-day layoff with reinforcements from its alternate training site, the trade market and the waiver wire to replace the 18 players on the injured list and won its first five games.

“We’re just starting,” said Alcantara, who handed a 3-2 lead to his bullpen in the eighth. “We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”

TOSSED

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was ejected for arguing from the dugout in the first inning. Plate umpire John Tumpane called out Judge on a full-count slider that appeared to drop well below the knees and Boone argued during the next pitch, to Hicks, then was ejected. Television microphones caught several of Boone’s profane shouts.

“Reacting to a terrible call and then following it up,” Boone said. “Obviously, we see Aaron get called a lot on some bad ones down.”

ODD

Pinch-runner Michael Tauchman stole second base in the eighth following a leadoff single by Gary Sanchez but was sent back to first because Tumpane interfered with the throw by catcher Chad Wallach. Clint Frazier struck out on the next pitch and snapped his bat over a leg.

SLOPPY

New York took the major league lead with 47 errors. Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference for the third time in five days and fourth time this month.

REMEMBERING

Mattingly thought of Jose Fernandez, the former Marlins All-Star pitcher who died four years earlier to the night at age 24 while piloting a boat that crashed. An investigation found he was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system. The night also marked the sixth anniversary of Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium.

UP NEXT

RHP Deivi Garcia (2-2, 4.88) starts Saturday for the Yankees and LHP Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.84) for the Marlins. Garcia will be making the sixth start of his rookie season.