Kendrick discusses state of the D-backs
Managing general partner disappointed in '13 season, aims to improve club
D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick recently sat down with MLB.com to discuss the 2013 season, what the team's payroll could be in '14 and areas of the club he would like to see improved for next season.
MLB.com: How do you assess the 2013 season for the Arizona Diamondbacks?
MLB.com: You went right to the point on that one.
Kendrick: My wife likes to say, 'Ken, you're a man of a few thousand words.' But on that one, I was not. I'll say more than that, to be fair. I was disappointed in the season because I think that our results were not reflective of the talent this team has.
MLB.com: You did not pick up the 2015 options for general manager Kevin Towers or manager Kirk Gibson, but you've also said that you still believe in both of them in their current roles. Could you just talk about how you feel about your management team right now?
Kendrick: I think we have good leadership starting with [team president and CEO] Derrick [Hall], and in the front office and on the field with K.T. and Gibby. I'm comfortable with those guys. I think it's important for them to go out and prove themselves once again. I hope and believe they're going to be long-term Diamondback people.
MLB.com: You guys started last year with a payroll a little over $90 million, I believe. Is it possible that you guys might get to $100 million or more in 2014?
Kendrick: I've seen that previously reported, and while I think we don't know what it will be, I would not be against us spending that kind of money if we found the right players to help the team do better.
MLB.com: You have been pretty open with the fact that this ownership group does not take any profits out of the team, but rather puts it back into the team.
Kendrick: That's accurate. Fortunately, that long road that we had to travel with deferred player obligations is now behind us. So the revenue streams that now come in can be directed towards all the normal business expenses that we have, and as the revenues increase, we can add directly to the player payroll. That's what we intend to do. We're not going to spend the money foolishly, and there's always a limit as to what our revenues would allow, but right now, revenues are increasing. We're glad about that, and we will basically put it back into the team and try to get a better team on the field.
MLB.com: You guys are opening the season next year in Australia against the Dodgers. How excited are you to have the opportunity to do that?
Kendrick: I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Australia has never hosted the beginning of a Major League season. I think games were played there, from what I've read, 100 years ago. I wasn't around then, albeit some would think that I might have been. So to go there where baseball is really growing, to go to a country that is very sports-minded and to have the season open against the Dodgers, is all the more exciting.
MLB.com: Your rivalry with the Dodgers, I'm sure, has increased over the last year.
Kendrick: It has, and you know, we owe those guys. I think to get the opportunity to begin the payback for them winning the division the very first day of the season is a great opportunity for us.
MLB.com: What areas do you feel the team needs to be improved on for next year?
Kendrick: I think there are several areas. We need to have a more consistent group of starting pitchers. If you look at the five guys that finished the season in the rotation, all of them had periods during the season when they pitched well, and most of them had periods during the season when they didn't pitch well. So we need to get, first, more consistency out of the starters, and we may look in the marketplace to add to starting pitching.
The same goes for relief pitching. We need more consistency. Again, we had guys that went periods with success, and some that had great seasons, but most had mixed seasons, periods where they were quite good and other periods when they either were injured or didn't perform well. We need to improve across the board in that area.
I think we need some more power in our lineup. We didn't score that many runs by home run, so I think we're going to try and figure out what we can do to maybe put more power in the lineup. I think we have a pretty solid group of position players, though. Whether we will make trades or sign free agents, it's possible we could do both.
MLB.com: That seems to mean that the payroll will almost surely go up.
Kendrick: Yes, certainly if we add new players, we're going to look for guys that can be real contributors -- either via trade or free agency -- and if that's the case, then the payroll will increase.