Conflicting views of the 2022 Arizona Diamondbacks season?

PHOENIX – In listening to principals discuss the 2022 Arizona Diamondbacks season, there appears to a rare break on the party line. In addressing the media during “clean-out-the-locker” day on Thursday, general manager Mike Hazen offered one interpretation of the recently concluded season. At the same time, field manager Torey Lovullo gave slightly different reading.

Perhaps this discussion can be reserved for the adage, “is the cup half fill, or half empty?”

The improved record of the Diamondbacks in the National League West division standings is not in dispute. Arizona finished with a mark of 74-88 and that is an increase of 22 wins over the 2021 season. Despite the numbers, the club finished in fourth place within the division and 37 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a benchmark, the Dodgers amassed 111 wins, the most in the history of the Brooklyn-Los Angeles franchise. That bettered 106 victories in both the 2019 and 2021 seasons and 105 by the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers.

Through the final weeks of the season, Lovullo constantly compared the triumphs of the Dodgers to the level which his team is to aspire. While the Diamondbacks cannot compete with the Dodgers in the financial world, that’s because they clearly lack the resources available to Guggenheim Baseball Management, owners of the Dodgers, and whose assess are reported at $270 billion.

Still, the Arizona win total in 2022, according to both Hazen and Lovullo, could be deceiving and, at the same time, encouraging.

“Finishing with 74 wins and not playing in October doesn’t mean, congratulations, we didn’t stink more than last year,” Hazen said. “I don’t have that mind set. We didn’t rebuild. The fact we won 52 games in 2021 and look at a 22-game improvement is not a marker that we are looking at from a team standpoint.”

After the Hazen-Lovullo regime took Arizona to the post-season in their initial season (2017) in the desert, the team vacillated. In subsequent seasons, from 2018 to 2022, Arizona had two winning seasons and three losing years.  

Observers like to point to the rising, young talent of outfielders Alek Thomas, Daulton Varsho, Corbin Carroll and Jake McCarthy along with a plethora of young pictures which include Ryne Nelson, Tommy Henry, and Drey Jamison as a benchmark for potential future success.

In order for the franchise to show such improvement, these players have to play at the major league level, according to Hazen. At some point, he asserted, the tag of “development” must disappear and that’s where the experience factor needs to surface.

While Lovullo may not disagree, he appears to rest strictly on the fact the team gained 22 more victories than in 2021. Like Hazen, he stresses the future appears bright but unlike Hazen, he appears willing to let the increased numbers show a firm and certain catalyst for potential success.

“I want to reflect on the season properly,” Lovullo said. “I am proud of what we did and what they accomplish during the season. We had a low bar to eclipse from last year. We won 74 games and I’m proud of that. At the same time, let’s be mindful of the 74 wins. I want to enjoy the wins and we’ll continent to build on that number of 74. At the same time, we have work to do, and I will not be satisfied with anything less than everybody going out on a daily basis. That includes coaches and players doing their job. We have to get to the top of the mountain and stay there.”

Elsewhere … Lovullo announced his entire coaching staff will return for the 2023 season. That includes Jeff Banister, the bench coach, and Brett Strom, the veteran pitching coach. “We spend a great deal of time together, grinding and figuring out ways to improve,” Lovullo said. “I’ve watched this coaching staff coach as hard as any since I’ve been here.”

An honor … righthander Merrill Kelly was named to Team USA for the World Baseball Classic next March. Kelly is coming off a 13-8 season (3.37 ERA) and reached a personal goal of surpassing 200 innings. Lovullo said every precaution will be made during spring training to allow Kelly to make an important contribution to Team USA while, at the same time, intelligently prepare for the 2023 season.


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