Q. Can you talk a little bit about the thought process behind acquiring J.D., kind of what you were looking to fill, and could you ever have expected that he would make the contribution that he has?MIKE HAZEN: Sure. As we had gone through the early part of the season
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the thought process behind acquiring J.D., kind of what you were looking to fill, and could you ever have expected that he would make the contribution that he has?
MIKE HAZEN: Sure. As we had gone through the early part of the season and gotten off to a pretty good start in April and May, we started to turn our focus into what we were going to do at the deadline. We had identified a need in the middle of our lineup. We had lost Tomas at that point, and we were sort of leaning on him behind the middle of the lineup group. We felt like moving forward it was a piece to the lineup puzzle that we wanted to try to fix.
We had isolated out a number of players that we were going to go scout and do work on, and then ultimately as we had gotten into the end of June, early July, we had isolated down that group to the point where we were going to start making phone calls and see what was going to be available.
It came together over the course of about a week, with Detroit. We set the lineup how we had envisioned. I think he's protected Goldie quite a bit. He's had a phenomenal run with us, and we're happy he's here. He's definitely added a different element both for right-handed and left-handed pitching. At that point in the season we were struggling a little bit versus lefties. That has rectified itself in the second half to some degree. And we also continue to play well versus righties. So he's been a big difference maker for us in the second half.
Q. When you guys identified Ketel Marte for that trade, what did you see there? What made him so appealing to include him into the package?
MIKE HAZEN: When we were talking around sort of the main targets, you know, that deal wasn't working on the surface. It started to expand because we needed to for both sides. Ketel was somebody that we had felt given his athleticism, his ability to stay in the middle of the field, proficiency on defense, he had gotten to the Big Leagues at a very young age. We liked what he had done at the Minor League level prior to even his big league time.
At that point the roster was still fairly right-handed. One of the off-season goals for us was to get a little more left-handed. Younger, athletic, give us more options up the middle. That was really focus on one of our off-season goals, which was run prevention, and he helped fit that bill quite a bit for us. So it was a natural fit as we moved beyond Taijuan in that deal to help us long-term as well.
Q. How would you describe how you watch a game here at Chase Field, and do you think that will ramp up in any way with the do-or-die aspect of tomorrow?
MIKE HAZEN: Yes, yes, I do. 162 games, you kind of try to keep the long view as much as you can, even though every game is -- every game's important. That's something we talked about from the beginning on. Torey's talked about that from the very beginning. Every day we're going to go out and try to play the game to the best of our ability. To me what that means for us is every decision we're making on a daily basis from what we can control in the front office, which is roster management, more than anything else or prep work, behind the scenes stuff that we can provide to the coaching staff on a daily basis.
So every game takes on a significant importance to us as well. I believe that for us in the front office we feel that way. It gets long after six months of doing that.
Look, these guys, when you watch how they prepare from spring training on, when you watch what I think the guys wanted to accomplish coming off of last year when you heard the conversations that were had, when we were just doing background work on what had gone on last year, nobody wanted to have the season go on the way it did. There were a number of reasons for that. We've covered that. You know, now that it boils down to one game, it's like the seventh game, right? It's an elimination game, so you need to approach it as such.
But at the same time, the fact that you're playing October baseball means a lot. Fortunately for a lot of us we've been involved in this quite a bit, and it's the best time of the year.
Q. When you say you filled a need by adding J.D., do you feel like that's what you had to do to catch up with a team like the Rockies? How do you compare now your lineup with their lineup?
MIKE HAZEN: Yeah, when we were -- the moment we did the trade we weren't particularly focused on anyone. We were focused on trying to make our team as strong as possible for as long as possible. We knew we were a good club. We were playing well. I think the players deserved, I think, our best effort in strengthening the club in any way that we could. We identified that need and wanted to do that. As far as the Rockies go, they're an extremely talented club. We've played them tight all the way down. We've played them 19 times and we're going to play them a 20th. There is a lot of familiarity.
We've seen what they can do, they've seen what we can do. I think both teams are very well-qualified to be here, and it should be a fun game.
Q. My question about the wildcard and the uniqueness that it brings, and we've talked to Torey a lot about it. But from your side of it, all the meetings you've had without revealing the roster and some of the debate, what debate has there been, and what's it been like working with Torey and his staff to create the roster for this one game?
MIKE HAZEN: It's a unique roster construction puzzle for us. We've never really been involved in that. So we've done a lot of studying over what the other clubs have done over the course of the years, in terms of optimal number of players, pitchers, position players. But I think ultimately -- there's been a lot of debate around it because we have a lot of good players. So that's a good problem to have. I think it's a unique roster construction because it's only one game. So you know you're going to need fewer pitchers than you would position players that you would typically carry throughout a regular series.
One of the things we're trying to keep in mind is we're not managing the game. Torey's managing the game. And we want to be able to -- I think the majority of our questions or our input to the roster has focused on the questioning of how do you envision using this guy versus that guy versus this, and managing that game. We want to add input, if possible, to help in making that decision.
I think in the end though, Torey needs to feel comfortable with the 25 guys that will be out there and how he's going to deploy them and in what situations he's going to deploy them and we'll go from there.
Q. A majority of the guys on this year's pitching staff were around last year, but the results are dramatically different. Can you talk about did you envision them getting to this level as a group that they've reached this season?
MIKE HAZEN: Well, I think the first part of that is an acknowledgment of the work that's come before us. Stu and KT and those guys, putting a lot of that starting pitching group together. We're very fortunate for that that we walked in with a starting pitching group that we did. You win with starting pitching in this league and those guys have carried us all season long.
I think as we really looked at it, the pedigree for a number of those guys, what they had done prior to the season both in performance stuff, otherwise, we felt confident that if we could fix some of the things around the edges, and some of the things around the edges centered around defense. Some of the things around the edges may have involved some different types of planning. Those were the things that we felt if we matched that up with the talent, that you could see really a regression back towards what they had been for a large part of their career or, in some cases, just showed in spurts that we were just trying to see if we could get that over longer stretches.
That was the mindset going in. I think it's a credit to those pitchers that put in an off-season of work to put themselves in that position and the coaching staff and all the work that's gone in from a prep standpoint to put those guys in that type of position. And they've gone out and executed.
Q. What is the build up the next 20 hours or so for you like getting ready for a winner-take-all game? Can you speak to the general vibe around town with everybody getting this excited about the Diamondbacks?
MIKE HAZEN: Sure, well, there's been a lot of prep going into the last 24 to 48 hours. We've got soccer practice tonight. You know, I'm sure we'll do something else tomorrow morning to take our minds off it a little bit. There is only so much prep you can do for a game like this given the familiarity with the club.
We've spent a lot of hours breaking it all down. But in the end once 5:08 hits tomorrow, it's about executing. It's about going out and playing a good brand of baseball that we have all year. It's about going out there, making our pitches, making them work on their side of it. And that's all there is to it it's a baseball game. The more relaxed and freer we're going to play tomorrow, the better chance we have for good results.
Q. Can you speak to why you decided to target Fernando Rodney in the off-season, and how you feel he's progressed over a full year?
MIKE HAZEN: Sure. As we looked at our bullpen, that was probably the biggest area of work when we came in in October. There had been a couple of trades and a couple guys lost to free agency. So I think the majority of the bullpen was sort of left wide open.
So we had a number of different ways that we could take it. At that point we hadn't really envisioned Archie being in the bullpen. We wanted to take the six starters into spring training as starting pitchers. But we felt like given that we just didn't have a silver bullet to bring in one or two relievers, we felt like we were going to bring in as much competition as we could and let those guys go at it in spring training and figure it out from there.
As far as Fernando goes, one thing we felt strongly about was taking the ninth inning question out of it, because seeing a lot of -- going into spring training and trying to figure out who your closer is and putting them in that situation in spring training games it's not an ideal setting to have that type of competition to me. We want to figure out who the best bullpen guys were. But having the ninth inning locked down gave us some freedom to be a little bit more aggressive with our other guys in terms of just making a competition and seeing where it was all going to fall out.
So the pursuit of Fernando was intended to take that question off the table going into spring training.
Q. With three teams in the postseason coming from the National League west, what is your overall viewpoint on the division, and how does that affect the way you compile a roster with so many competition within that division?
MIKE HAZEN: Yeah, it's been a great year in the National League West. You've seen the games. We had our runs versus the Dodgers. They had our runs versus us. You've seen some of our runs versus the Rockies and you've seen back against us. You saw the Padres play hard all the way to the end. You know the Giants are going to be there. They have talent all over their roster. It's been a very competitive year. I think it's a credit to the teams that we have. We've seen three teams coming out of the division, I think it's great. I hope it's a sign of things to come for a lot of us.
I think the familiarity, you know, it cuts both ways. We have familiarity with them, but they have familiarity with us. So how does that change your plans going into the game? I don't think it changes a ton. I think you focus a little more on this game because, like I said before, it's an elimination game. But I don't think it changes too much strategically.
Q. Going back to Archie Bradley for a second there, when you moved him into the bullpen, did you see something in him that said to you he could become this dominant out of the bullpen? How do you guys plan on using him this postseason?
MIKE HAZEN: So when we made the decision, it was more a function of those six starting pitchers that we brought into spring training all staying healthy, and all pitching pretty well in spring training. The conversations that we had around that were, look, he deserves to get out to the Major League level. We don't feel like it's in his interest from a development standpoint to go back to Triple-A and get outs down in Reno. So it was a credit to him.
He just told us when we met with him in the end of spring training and laid it out for him, he was like I don't care. I just want to be on the team. I want to help us win games. That's really his attitude towards it. How he's taken to that role has been fantastic. I don't think anyone envisioned the season that he was going to have, but he's taken that and run with it.
How Torey's going to deploy him in the playoffs, it's kind of TBD. I think we've kind of talked about it. He's been stretched out a little bit here the last couple of weeks in anticipation for anything. Because I think, as you go into tomorrow, we don't know how that game's going to play out. So I think we want to be ready for as many scenarios as we can.
Q. Just observing Zack Greinke over the year, how have you kind of pretty obvious he was going to be your starter, but what do you think makes him that guy for you?
MIKE HAZEN: Well, historically, like I said, there is a pedigree there with Zack. He's done it so many times on this stage and others. He was our number one starting pitcher the whole year, and it's lined up that we were able to clinch early enough to line him up for this game. So all that made sense.
He's got a pretty unique skill set and ability as a starting pitcher. His intelligence, ability to game plan, his command, his stuff, there is a reason why he was signed here and he's definitely fulfilled that.
Q. How does the personality of this team compare to the personalities of the postseason team that's you've been with before?
MIKE HAZEN: You know, it's funny I think they all take on this characteristic. I think when you're winning and things start rolling downhill for you, you start to see the personalities come out a little bit more as guys sort of relax and realize we have a good team and they're contributors to a really strong team. I think there are a lot of similarities individually to guys.
Collectively as a team I think watching this team play over the course of 162 games, how we very rarely gave up in any situation during the course of the year, even in the games that weren't going so well. I think that's a strong characteristic to have as a group. Those guys showed that over the entirety of the season. It's something that we're very proud of. I'm proud of. I think it's a reflection of the coaching staff and a reflection of the commitment of the players.