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Top 5 Ways The Dbacks 2017
Squad Differs From 2016

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Regardless Of The Common Theme Running Through Baseball Circles, New GM Mike Hazen Has Created A Whole New Team For His First Year On The Job

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By John Guzzon and Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

Feb. 21, 2017 — Many pundits and pontificators are saying new Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen has put together the same group of guys for 2017 as former GM Dave Stewart did for 2016.

The idea goes that it was all a matter of injuries in 2016.  And, in 2017, Hazen’s betting things will change.

Sorry, experts, but this armchair relief pitcher (as opposed to armchair quarterback) disagrees.

Sure, there are some similarities, but a team has never really changed out their entire starting lineup. The 2017 Diamondbacks are no different. Of those on the 25-man opening day roster in 2016 six players will definitely not be on the 2017 Diamondbacks. This is also the earliest days of Spring Training which means more might still go before April. That’s about a quarter of the team RIGHT NOW.

Meanwhile, over on the 40-man roster — and more importantly through veterans on minor league contracts — getting better and deeper and yes, a bit older, is where the front office made the changes that needed to be made.

For the Dbacks, things have definitely changed.
The Sports Yak
Wayne Schutsky and John Guzzon discuss the ins and outs and ups and downs of the 2017 offseason going into spring training 2017. Specifically, if improvement will be forthcoming. — Feb. 21, 2017
No. 1 The Pitching Staff
In 2016, the starting pitchers were: Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray and Rubby DelaRosa. The bullpen had Jake Barrett, Silvino Bracho, Andrew Chafin, Tyler Clippard, Randall Delgado, Daniel Hudson, and Brad Ziegler. Here, there is a good chance that about half will not be with the team in 2016. Three are already gones-ville: Ziegler, Clippard and Hudson. That number will go up. The addition of a veteran like Fernando Rodney can’t be overstated and guys like J.J. Hoover, Keyvius Sampson, Brian Matusz and others on minor league deals means a deeper team now and throughout the season. The starting rotation is even more competitive because of simple improvement and the addition of Taijuan Walker makes it even deeper.

No. 2 Fielders
On the position player side of things, there are three guys who won’t be back in the starting lineup: Jean Segura, Socrates Brito and Welington Castillo. That’s more than a third of the squad. Again, depth is where the difference lays. In 2016, when Pollack goes down early in Spring Training, all they had by the time April rolled around was Socrates Brito. While a good and toolsy player, he wasn’t able to perform and then got hurt. It took until mid-May for the team to find a decent replacement in Michael Bourn but by then, the season was over. This year, no less than three good options are there if a similar fate hit the team: Gregor Blanco, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Brito and maybe even Anfernee Grier. And, all of them can play left if Yasmany Tomas needs to be subbed for defensive purposes, or right if David Peralta’s wrist remains an issue.

No. 3 Catching Corps.
Okay, here’s where the most complete overhaul was executed by Hazen & Co. Out is Beef Welington Castillo and in is Jeff Mathis, Chris Iannetta, and Josh Thole. Holdovers are Chris Herrmann and Oscar Hernandez. Will it matter? Assume Hazen knows something here even though Castillo’s contract would likely have exceeded Paul Goldschmidt’s. Castillo’s one-year deal with the Orioles is for $6 million. Mathis, Iannetta and Thole are known for receiving, not hitting and maybe, just maybe, they will be able to take the great stuff of the guys on the bump and HELP them get outs. Time will tell.

No. 4 Coaching Staff
Chip Hale, Glenn Sherlock, Matt Williams, Mark Grace are the biggest names to leave. Biggest names among the arrivals is Torey Lovullo and Ron Gardenhire. Particularly, Gardenhire was a big-time move. The guy is extremely respected and has a manager of the year title to his credit. Hopefully, prostate cancer treatment won’t keep him away too long. Of course, how Lovullo does in the dugout, clubhouse and media room will be a big factor and since he hasn’t even managed a big league game yet for the Diamondbacks, one doesn’t know at what level he’ll perform. The lone holdovers from last year’s coaching staff, Mike Butcher and Dave Magadan, show how big the change in staff has been: both joined only in 2016. That’s a nearly 100 percent turnover in the last two years. And, if many fans have their way, Butcher will be run out of town if the team ERA is what is was last year.

No. 5 Hope without expectations
In 2017, no one is saying World Series, at least publically or among the national pundits. That’s a good thing. The Diamondbacks haven’t earned or warranted it yet. But thanks to a solid, if not glitzy additions, the squad has a chance to at least be highly competitive this year. Mindset sometimes makes all of the difference. Instead of being victims of expectations, they can victimize the teams that don’t take them seriously.
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