Spring training is a time for Major League Baseball teams to re-acclimate themselves with the grind of baseball, get their minds right for the impending season and fine tune their roster to prepare for the 162 game season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are thought to have a real shot at contending in 2016, and manager Chip Hale joined Tiki And Tierney to talk about the team, who are enjoying a great spring according to their skipper.
“We’ve been playing lights out,” said Hale. “Guys have been really busting it, a lot of competition in the middle infield, the outfield and even at third base. I don’t know if the extra competition is kind of fueling it but we’re getting a lot of good performances.”
So the competition around the diamond, essentially, is prevalent at every position bar first base. First base for the Diamondbacks is an area that Paul Goldschmidt controls, of course, a perennial MVP candidate in the National League.
“He’s just a really, really good worker,” said Hale. “He prepares and worries about the right things. A lot of people, we get focused on the result and he doesn’t. His preparation is impeccable, the way he goes about it, the way he leads in the clubhouse, it’s just the perfect guy to have as a manager.”
The Diamondbacks boast a few high profile additions to the pitching rotation this offseason to integrate to the team, Zach Greinke and Shelby Miller. The Greinke signing sent waves down the league, and it was as surprising to Hale as it was the rest of the baseball world.
“It was a shock to us,” said Hale. “We were in a meeting here in Scottsdale at our complex and Tony La Russa, our chief baseball officer, was in a meeting and had to step out because ownership called him and gave him the OK to go after [Greinke]… and six hours later we had signed him.”
Greinke signed from division rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The 32-year-old pitcher signed a monster six year $206.5 million contract.
“He was looking for a place to land and obviously money was important,” said Hale as he paused to chuckle. “For the rest of the league, I think they were excited because the Dodgers and the Giants are the two likeliest teams that he would have ended up with two legitimate aces, so we spread it out a little bit.”
As for Miller, those around baseball think that the Atlanta Braves scurried from the trade like bandits, rummaging the Diamondbacks for a ransom of prospects much higher than thoughts to have been required for Miller.
“You have to lose talent to gain talent and we need it at the top of our rotation,” said Hale. “We did that as a win now, a win for the next 5-6 years.”
Miller is just 25-years-old, though, and could theoretically stick with the club through the Greinke years, a great supplement as well as security that the team will still have an ace type even if Greinke’s production slips as he hits the back end of his contract.
The Diamondbacks are giving contending a proper go, that’s for sure.