PHOENIX: (L-R) President & Chief Executive Officer Derrick Hall Executive Vice President & General Manager Kevin Towers and Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick of the Arizona Diamondbacks attend the Major League Baseball game against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field in Phoenix Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
In their first real test, the Arizona Diamondbacks' front office impresses.
Last week, we suggested the Arizona Diamondbacks' future hinges less on the acquisition of Kerry Wood or Carlos Beltran or other Approved Aged Person. Instead, the future of the franchise depends on spending willingly and accurately in the MLB Rule 4 Draft to acquire cheap talent for the long term. Making a playoff run this season (as unlikely as that will seem in a month) at the expense of pulling money from the draft budget could only damage the short-term and the long-term.
The early returns after the draft suggest you Diamondbacks fans might well be lucky bastards after all. Ownership appears to have empowered the front office of General Manager Kevin Towers to dig deep. We won't know if they've made the right selections for years, but they've put themselves in a position to succeed.
Kevin Towers' team didn't focus on need. Or, to the point, they recognized they needed six of everything. There's an intriguing mix of players that could play in the air conditioning by fall (or next spring) like Trevor Bauer, long-term upside like Archie Bradley, and a concentration on highly talented players coming back from injury (Andrew Chafin, Adam Choplick, Kyle Winkler). It's an approach that might expose an inefficiency in the market. Regardless, it's sharp to explore that space.
They're also willing to spend. Archie Bradley's selection is the outcome of the Barret Loux embarrassment last season and is therefore not eligible for a draft do-over if it turns out Bradley has a chronic case of elbow measles or some such. Bradley will ask for straight cash, homey, because he could also be the starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners this fall. The Diamondbacks seem ready to pay their way out.
None of us know if this will work. For today, that's not the point. The Diamondbacks no longer bear crushing debt and are willing to spend judiciously to build the franchise. Yes, they're putting on a veteran dog and pony show in the interim, but even that's working out alright for the moment.
This optimism will be wiped away entirely if the Diamondbacks let Bradley slip through their fingers. Yes, the attempt to make hay on players coming of Tommy John surgery may also fail, but that's less a matter of commitment than a need to recalibrate the approach. The only true failure is one of frugality now the front office has set their own path forward.
For now, though, enjoy that little bounce in your step, Diamondbacks fans. Consider your Cubs-rooting columnist a bit jealous. All that talk of grit and heart might be backed up with talent and training worthy of your time and money. The intangibles can then make up the closing stride and not the entire effort.
Earlier this year, we suggested the Arizona Cardinals might be the best-run shop in town. Consider the management gauntlet thrown, Bidwills.
(For more on the players drafted, check out AZ Snake Pit. They've got breakdowns, video, and a bit of optimism of their own.)