PHOENIX – No longer is an education format advanced and no longer is there a sense of “development.” The attitude of the Arizona Diamondbacks has taken a marked and direct approach and the message is loud and clear.
Essentially, the meaning now ringing from the rafters in Chase Field is, “what have you done for me lately.”
The era of tolerance is in the rear-view mirror and forgiveness is over. Going forward, and if you do not produce, here is the exit.
That message was delivered three times within five day period late last month and the patience of general manager Mike Hazen, field manager Torey Lovullo, and managing director Ken Kenrick, who writes the checks, no longer is discernible. Firm words and firmer actions seem to resonate throughout the clubhouse and if players implode in front of decision-makers and fans, the consequences are profound.
Within the span of less than one week, the Diamondbacks lost patience with lefty Madison Bumgarner, righty Drey Jameson, and outfielder Jake McCarthy. While Jamison and McCarthy were assigned to Triple AAA Reno, Bumgarner, with $34 million owed in hand, was banished to the desert.
The message was loud and substantial.
If a player cannot produce at a high level, the organization will find someone who will execute. For the first time in several years, the Diamondbacks believe they are in a highly competitive position. Over the course of the first six weeks of the season, that was proven.
Coming into their home stand beginning Friday night against Washington, Arizona was in second place in the NL West and a game and one-half behind the division-leading Dodgers.
“You have to perform,” Lovullo said after McCarthy, Jameson, and Bumgarner were sent packing. “If you do not, then there are competitive understudies waiting to take your job. That’s how it should be. Everyone in that clubhouse knows that we have really good young players, and talented players throughout this system. And, there are more coming.”
Almost overnight, the Diamondbacks’ core philosophy took an abrupt change. No longer is Chase Field an experimental ground or a fortress of patience.
Decision-makers have hardened, and the reason is clear. The specter of a competitive season looms ahead and those decision-makers want to put personnel in place to give Arizona the best chance to win every night.
While there remain lingering questions on the stability and construction of the starting rotation, that factor tends to be brushed aside for the moment. The focus remains on winning, and a win-now attitude is clearly prevalent.
“We have reached a certain standard right now that you have to perform,” Lovullo said. “Our expectations are high. To continue to develop here is not the answer right now. We want to win baseball games. If you’re not doing your job, we will look elsewhere.”
Up-coming home stand… the Diamondbacks open a 10-game stand, their longest of the season, Friday night. First, the Washington Nationals are in and have the third-worst record in the National League. Look for Merrill Kelly (2-3, 3.06 ERA) to open for Arizona and opposed by righty Josiah Gray (2-4, 2.67). On Saturday, it’s a pair of lefties. Tommy Henry (1-0, 6.52) takes on MacKenzie Gore (3-2, 3.77). In the Sunday afternoon finale, right Ryne Nelson (1-2, 6.39) opposes righty Trevor Williams (1-1, 3.41).
The Marlins follow for three and four with the NL West division rivals Giants. Then, the Diamondbacks embark on a 9-game road trip to Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.