D-backs unable to fulfill promise in 2016

Club pushes reset after season that started with key injury, stumbles

December 28th, 2016

PHOENIX -- The D-backs went into 2016 looking like contenders, based on a splashy offseason that included the additions of free-agent ace and right-hander .

But after a season filled with disappointment and underachievement -- including a 69-93 record and a fourth-place finish in the National League West -- the organization is eager to flip the calendar to 2017.

Arizona will do so with a new general manager and manager following the dismissals of Dave Stewart and Chip Hale.

:: 2015 Year in Review | 2016 Outlook ::

"It's time to turn the page and hit reset and see if we can't get going in the right direction," D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall said in announcing the changes. "We owe that to the fans and we owe that to the organization."

Before we look ahead to 2017, let's take a glance at the key storylines from the past year.

5. Bad break

The D-backs led the Cactus League in wins, they pounded the ball offensively, and with position-player and bullpen battles that went down to the wire, the local buzz was building.

That all changed three days before Opening Day when D-backs outfielder slid headfirst into home plate in the next-to-last exhibition game. Pollock fractured his right elbow on the play and wound up appearing in just 12 games.

The injury threw the D-backs' outfield into disarray, with shortstop having to play out there for the first time in his professional career. The injury also seemed to dampen the spirits of the team just before Opening Day, and when Greinke and Miller opened the season with back-to-back poor starts, it set a bad tone for what was to come.

4. Not an ace performance

Greinke did not have a bad season, going 13-7 with a 4.37 ERA, but it was not what the D-backs had in mind when they signed him to a six-year, $206.5 million free-agent deal during the offseason.

"As a whole, it didn't go as planned, for the team and myself, for the most part," Greinke said. "Just a couple of injuries earlier and not getting off on a good foot. I thought we were going to do a lot better than we did."

After a poor beginning to the season, Greinke hit his stride and won seven consecutive starts from May 17 to June 18. Not long afterward, though, he sustained a strained left oblique that kept him out of action for more than two months. He was also unable to make his final two starts of the year due to a stiff right shoulder.

3. Shelby struggles

The D-backs received criticism for the amount of talent they traded to the Braves for Miller. Combine that with the fact that he was expected to be the team's No. 2 starter, and the 26-year-old was under pressure from the get-go.

To say his season didn't go well would be an understatement.

Miller's struggles were so pronounced that the team sent him to the Minors for six weeks after the All-Star break. When he returned, he finished the year by compiling a 3.98 ERA in his final six starts.

"Obviously, I just kind of wish I would have done this earlier on," Miller said after his final start of the year. "The way I just finished these past couple of games is huge. It's something to build off going into 2017. I feel good where I'm at. I know where I'm at mechanically and stuff, so I can go forward with more confidence knowing that I'm feeling good."

2. Gold standard

When his batting average was at .222 on May 15, many wondered what was wrong with .

The answer proved to be nothing, as he wound up going on a tear, raising his batting average to .300 a little more than a month later.

"I looked up his batting average today and was like, 'How in the world did it get up that high so fast?'" Greinke said at the time.

Goldschmidt made his fourth straight All-Star Game appearance and finished the year with an on-base plus slugging of .899.

1. Changes

There was a report in late July that the D-backs were considering replacing Hale. While no changes were made during the season, moves came fast and furious right afterward, with Hale and Stewart being relieved of their duties the day after the season ended.

The D-backs hired Red Sox GM Mike Hazen, who in turn tabbed Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo to be the manager. Hazen and Lovullo are the third GM-manager combination the team has had since 2014.

"At the end of the day, the results haven't been there," D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick said at the news conference to announce the dismissals. "That's why we're here today. We're going to keep at it. We're going to hope we make better decisions and we learn from the mistakes of the past."