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Abington’s Mike Hazen Takes Over in Arizona

Much to do as the Diamondback's new General Manager

PHOENIX%2C+AZ+-+OCTOBER+17%3A+The+Arizona+Diamondbacks+new+General+Manager%2C+Mike+Hazen%2C+addresses+the+media+in+a+press+conference.+%28Photo+by+Sarah+Sachs%2FArizona+Diamondbacks%29
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 17: The Arizona Diamondbacks new General Manager, Mike Hazen, addresses the media in a press conference. (Photo by Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks)

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 17: The Arizona Diamondbacks new General Manager, Mike Hazen, addresses the media in a press conference. (Photo by Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks)

Sarah Sachs

Sarah Sachs

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 17: The Arizona Diamondbacks new General Manager, Mike Hazen, addresses the media in a press conference. (Photo by Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks)

Scott Neville, Contributor

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Abington High School Alum (’94) Mike Hazen has parted ways with his hometown Boston Red Sox after 10 years with the organization. Hazen is headed to Arizona to rebuild the Diamondbacks after not being satisfied as Dave Dombrowski’s second in command.

He has a large challenge ahead of him as the Diamondbacks ended 2016 with a 69–93 record. They finished fourth in the National League West Division, only ahead of the San Diego Padres. Hazen will not have a ton to work as the Diamondbacks have the 26th lowest team payroll in the league. Fortunately, they only have two players on the 25-man roster that will be entering free agency, and neither of them are worth retaining. The Diamondbacks will lose relief pitcher Daniel Hudson, who had a 5.22 ERA in 60.1 innings, and Rickie Weeks, an outfielder who owned a .239 batting average in only 180 at-bats. The two sub-par players will free up $4.2 million in 2017.

Hazen needs to be aggressive in free agency to acquire starting and relief pitchers if he wants a competitive team in 2017.”

— Scott Neville

The Diamondbacks primary concern should be pitching. Arizona had a team ERA of 5.09 in 2016, which was the worst team ERA in baseball. They also allowed the most earned runs (821), runs (890), and had the highest WHIP (1.49).  The Diamondbacks looked as though they would have a solid pitching rotation as they acquired two 2015 All-Stars last off-season. They signed Zack Greinke and traded for Shelby Miller. Greinke went from a Cy Young candidate a year ago, to a mediocre pitcher this season. He had an underwhelming 4.37 ERA to go along with a 13-7 record in a failed attempt to be the Diamondbacks ace. While Greinke struggled, Miller’s season was a disaster.

The Diamondbacks gave up the number one pick in the 2015 draft, Dansby Swanson as well as top pitching prospect Aaron Blair and productive outfielder Ender Inciarte to acquire Shelby Miller last off-season. Miller posted a 6.15 ERA with a 3-12 record this season. Despite their disappointing seasons, Hazen should not focus on these players as they have a track record of success. Even if Hazen had an issue, Miller is not worth the value the team gave up last off-season and Greinke’s contract is too large to move.

Hazen’s priority should be to get production from the bottom of the rotation. Rich Hill is easily the best option in a weak free agent class of starting pitchers. Hill dominated with a 2.12 ERA and 12-5 record. He struck out 129 batters in only 110.1 innings this season. The Diamondbacks should get quite a discount considering his effectiveness. The reason is that he is a 36-year-old pitcher who has battled injuries his whole career. When healthy, Hill has proven to be an elite pitcher, and he could give a boost to a team who embarrassed themselves on the mound this year. Mat Latos is another player who should come at a discount but could provide a high upside. Latos was a great middle of the rotation option from 2010-2014. He has had back to back seasons of not living up to his potential, but is worth the risk for a team that needs a spark.

The Diamondbacks will also need relief pitchers to close out games next season. Hazen needs to completely revamp their entire bullpen. The only effective reliever in 2016 for Arizona was free agent to be Brad Ziegler, who was traded to Boston at the deadline for a couple of minor leaguers. Hazen should re-sign the 37-year-old veteran, as he should be a cheap option for a closer or set-up man of his caliber. Sergio Romo is another free agent who could be an effective weapon for a good price. Ziegler had a 2.25 ERA and currently owns the Diamondbacks record for consecutive save with 40. Romo had a 2.64 ERA in his age 33 season but only pitched 30.2 innings due to Bruce Bochy’s unorthodox bullpen use. Hazen needs to be aggressive in free agency to acquire starting and relief pitchers if he wants a competitive team in 2017.

Postscript – Hazen completed his first deal on November 23 acquiring right-hander Taijuan Walker and infielder Ketel Marte from the Mariners in exchange for infielder Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger and left-handed reliever Zac Curtis.

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Abington’s Mike Hazen Takes Over in Arizona