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Inbox: What to expect from Wilmer

Beat reporter Steve Gilbert answers fans' questions
January 18, 2019

Is Wilmer Flores going to fill more of a "Daniel Descalso" role in 2019, bouncing around the infield, or is he going to play every day at second base, moving Ketel Marte to center field every day? -- Nick V., PhiladelphiaIt appears that the D-backs' plan is to play Flores

Is Wilmer Flores going to fill more of a "Daniel Descalso" role in 2019, bouncing around the infield, or is he going to play every day at second base, moving Ketel Marte to center field every day?
-- Nick V., Philadelphia

It appears that the D-backs' plan is to play Flores primarily at second base, which would allow them to move Marte to center, where he would replace free agent A.J. Pollock -- assuming, of course, that Pollock signs with another team. I think one thing to keep in mind is that the D-backs are still working on constructing their roster, so nothing is certain yet, but that does seem to be the plan.
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Flores has also played all around the infield so he could, in theory, fill multiple roles depending on if the D-backs add another player before the start of the season. Also, like many teams these days, the D-backs are big proponents of giving their players rest during the season, so with guys like Eduardo Escobar and Tim Locastro, who can both play multiple positions, along with Flores, you could see manager Torey Lovullo doing a lot of mixing and matching depending on who needs a day off.

Big fan! I have a quick question regarding the sustainability of success for a team like the D-backs. We all know the big-market teams are generally able to sustain success for longer periods of time due to their financial dominance over smaller-market teams. You look at teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs and it feels like nowadays (Cubs history excluded) they may have one or two bad years every now and then, but then bounce right back due to added financial flexibility they have. It seems as if when a small/mid-market team is down in the dumps that they are there for a prolonged period of time unless they 1) have multiple players who happen to have career years to provide a temporary boost or 2) draft well and develop homegrown talent (Astros). However, as we know, option two takes a while to develop. If a small/mid-market team doesn't draft well they are toast.
So, here is the question: For a mid-market team like the D-backs who don't have the financial flexibility (i.e., sign Zack Greinke and limit ability to sign other players), if/when smart free-agency moves and drafting goes right, how long do you think that realistic window is for success before those top talent players leave on to greener pastures? If I were a Red Sox fan looking forward to the next decade, I could be optimistic and expect success for each of the next 10 years. As a D-backs fan, I don't feel like I have that luxury. Hopefully you know what I'm getting at here.
-- Jack D., Phoenix

Jack, you used a word that general manager Mike Hazen has uttered often since his introductory press conference -- sustainability. While the D-backs have had success on the field the past two years in terms of contention, the front office has held off on trading some of their top prospects, while at the same time being aggressive internationally both at the amateur level and the Major League level such as with the Yoshihisa Hirano and Merrill Kelly signings. What they are hoping to do is to build that farm system over the next couple years to where it can consistently produce the talent needed to replace whatever they might lose at the big league level as players age and become too expensive. The next couple of years could be bridge years as they wait for some of that younger talent to be ready, but they are still trying to be competitive by not doing a complete teardown. It's a tough balancing act and time will tell how successful they are with it. If some of the prospects do pan out, then you could see them build up some sustained success over the next decade. How big that window is will always depend on how well they do with the Draft, which is the lifeblood for an organization like theirs.

How is Clay Buchholz's flexor strain recovery going? And, what are the chances the D-backs bring him back?
-- Ashley, Tucson, Ariz.

I'll be honest, Ashley, I haven't followed Buchholz's recovery that closely because it seemed like the D-backs moved on from him early in the offseason when they traded for Luke Weaver and signed Kelly out of Korea.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.