Organizational Rankings: #9

Today, we launch the top ten, heading towards the top spot and closing out this series. All of the teams that we discuss this week are legitimate contenders for both this year and the future, and these are the organizations that the rest of baseball is chasing.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays
#19: San Francisco Giants
#18: Minnesota Twins
#17: Chicago White Sox
#16: Baltimore Orioles
#15: Seattle Mariners
#14: Philadelphia Phillies
#13: Los Angeles Dodgers
#12: Texas Rangers
#11: Oakland Athletics
#10: Los Angeles Angels

#9: Arizona Diamondbacks

Ownership: C

Honestly, this one’s a bit tough to figure out. Since the D’Backs were purchased by a group of investors, they’ve trimmed payroll back from the free spending days of Jerry Colangelo and operated more like a small to mid market franchise. They haven’t spent more than $70 million on the major league roster for the last five years, though they did increase spending last year when they had a chance to contend. The ownership group has mostly kept their hands off the baseball operations department with the exception of the Eric Byrnes extension – hopefully they learned their lesson from that one. Jeff Moorad, who was the face of the ownership group, just left to run the Padres, so that adds another level of uncertainty about how the ownership group will operate going forward. I have a lot less conviction about this grade than most others.

Front Office: B

From a big picture standpoint, Josh Byrnes has done a good job of building a forward thinking organization that develops talent internally and can contend for the NL West for years to come. They’ve made their share of mistakes, and I think they had a pretty bad off-season in missing out on opportunities to take control of the NL West, but overall, they’ve shown that they have a pretty solid grasp of building rosters that can contend with limited payrolls. There’s room for improvement, but they won’t be held back by a bad management team.

Major League Talent: B

The core of young talent in place is impressive – Justin Upton, Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Chris Snyder, Conor Jackson, Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Max Scherzer… there’s quantity and quality across multiple positions, and several of them have already been locked up at team-friendly salaries for years to come. The problem, though, is that the team lacks enough good players around that young core to help make them a championship contender right now. Eric Byrnes, Doug Davis, Jon Garland, and Felipe Lopez will earn nearly $30 million between them this year, and given that’s about 40% of the D’Backs payroll, they just aren’t getting enough bang for the buck. It leaves them as a good up and coming team that is going to need a lot to go right to be playing in October in 2009.

Minor League Talent: C

Since the system was thinned out significantly with the Dan Haren trade, picking out the top prospect here doesn’t take an expert – Jarrod Parker is a big time arm with a high ceiling and a good feel for pitching at age 20. After that, though, it gets sketchy – Daniel Schlereth has a power arm but his uspide is limited as a reliever. Gerardo Parra is long on tools and short on performance. It’s a good thing the D’Backs have a lot of young talent in the majors, because they aren’t likely to get a big infusion of help from the farm system over the next few years.

Overall: B

The D’Backs don’t have any glaring weaknesses – the ownership isn’t great but gives them just enough to contend. The front office makes mistakes, but not enough to nullify the talent on the roster. They are a few players short of a championship club, but the core of their roster isn’t going anywhere. The minor league system isn’t good, but Jarrod Parker gives them at least one impact talent to hang their hope on. Being strongish across the board, with potentially the best group of young talent in the National League, is good enough to get them in the top 10.




Print This Post



Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

39 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #9”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Tom says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see how 2 B’s and 2 C’s average out to a B regardless of weight…Besides that, nice article.

    -64 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Teej says:

      And we were doing so well today . . .

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nacho says:

        Questions like that would be less understandable if Dave had a link to his process. If a new reader comes in and doesn’t read all the comments he’s going to be unaware of Dave’s explanations. This person would not have seen that Dave favors GMs and ownership and gives more credit to MLB talent than farm systems, nor that he’s looking out about 5 years, for example.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Omar says:

      He quibbles with the grade and everyone jumps on him? Yeah, that’s cool.

      -17 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Levski says:

      They also get an A for having The Eric Byrnes Show, which props up the final average

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Omar says:

      YOU DUMBSHITS, HE EVEN SAID HE MIGHT BE MISSING SOMETHING AND HE LIKED THE ARTICLE!!!!

      I can’t get over all the minuses for this comment, what are you guys a bunch of sycophants? And for the record, I bet any college student would love to get 2 Bs and 2 Cs and escape the semester with a 3.0. I don’t disagree with an overall ranking of a B, for the D-Backs, but they’re major league talent’s a bit better than a “B” the best 1-2 punch in baseball…combined with a top flight SS, one of the best young OFs in baseball, a good catcher…I’d say that’s a bit better than a B+. Or grade the ownership as “incomplete” something, but that has to be fixed…he has a point.

      -16 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Gina says:

        I’m a college student and I would give a couple fingers to escape this semester with 2 B’s and 2 c’s, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t average out to a 3.0.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ThundaPC says:

      Hello Tom,

      The overall grade is not based on an average of the four sections as they are not weighed equally.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wally says:

        Well yes, but that still doesn’t matter. His point stands that regardless of the weighting 2 B’s and 2 C’s can’t average out to a B. Unless the ownership and minor league system weights are insignificant. But from the rankings of the Marlins, for example, we know the ownership rank is very significant. Thus, it would appear Dave’s subjective weightings of each category change pretty dramatically from club to club. Which is of course going to draw a lot of criticism from an analytically and statistically inclined crowd. If I presented such a process in my field I would get lambasted….. Of course this is just baseball, so its never going to be that bad, but people are going to wonder.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Walter Jones says:

    Mistakes? Maybe more than a few by Josh Byrnes. As good as Haren is and will be, I’m sure their rotation would look a lot better with Brett Anderson and Micah Owings on the back end — to say nothing of the Quentin deal.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gina says:

      Um, I don’t see how their rotation would be better with Anderson at the back considering it would mean no Haren.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        Yeah, Walter’s being dumb here. He thinks that giving minimal talent for a top ten pitcher is a bad deal, and they’d be better off without on of the best pitchers in baseball.

        -20 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Walter Jones says:

        Omar: Dude, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What’s increasingly troubling about Byrnes is his temptation of late to trade tons of prospects — and there’s no way you could call Anderson and Gonzalez “minimal talent,” sorry — for “win now” type players (Haren, Dunn, etc.).

        Obviously, there are only so many spots on a team, and all the prospects in the world aren’t going to fill them; so good on Byrnes for recognizing he could make the Haren trade and still have something resembling a farm system left. But this team has cut the cord on a few guys (the aforementioned two, Quentin, etc.) early and thrown money at folks like Garland and Davis who aren’t bringing much more WAR in return.

        Further, pitch selection on this roster — especially for young folks such as Young, Drew, Reynolds, etc. — is a skill they don’t seem to be teaching down there. You start to wonder if there is a solid direction at the top.

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Gina says:

        Haren isn’t a win now type player, trading all those guys for like one year of AJ Burnett or something would be a win now move, Haren is young and cheap and under control and one of the best pitchers in the league, it was definitely not a win now move. Plus the D-backs were/are loaded with young players already in the majors and most of the guys they gave up were either far away/mostly projectables or were going to be blocked. That was a win-win move for both sides of the trade.

        Also Young and Drew were both pretty selective in the minors.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        Gina’s right…how the hell do you call trading Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith, Aaron Cunningham, and Brett Anderson for a 27 year old (at the time) ace a win now move? Obviously he didn’t school Beane as hard as Omar (not me, the one who runs the Mets) did with the Twins with Santana, but that’s still a great move that made the franchise a better team.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bablue says:

      Not only those four, but Chris Cater and Dana Eveland as well. The D-Backs also got Conor Robertson from the A’s.

      It’s a win now move because you’re trading away your future chances of winning for a better chance in the present. Haren is more valuable than those six guys now. But while maybe none of those guys individually will be as good as Haren, in a few years from now I’ll bet they’ll be much more valuable collectively.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bablue says:

        Should be Chris Carter, not Cater, obviously. And to clarify when I said “future chances of winning”, I meant that they’re odds of winning wouldn’t be as good, not that they had no chance at all.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Gina says:

    I didn’t realize they had changed owners.

    Also just something I’ve noticed but it seems like splitting the grades of the major leagues and minor leagues doesn’t really give the best representation of either for teams that just graduated a lot of young talent.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Wally says:

    D-backs ownership: 70mil/year average payroll from 2006-2008, shown small trend to interfere in baseball operations, some uncertainty going forward. Grade: C

    A’s ownership: 68mil/year average payroll from 2006-2008, shown no trend to interfere in baseball operations, little to no uncertainty going forward, except for the possible relocation to San Jose. Grade: D

    How’s that work?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Teej says:

      Because the A’s are financially hosed as long as they stay in that stadium. The Arizona owners have greater upside, if you will. At least that’s what I took from it.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wally says:

        The A’s are not going to continue to operate with a 48 million dollar payroll, new stadium or not. They shed the expensive contracts because they decided to rebuild, not because they needed to save money. The D-backs may end up out spending them in the next few years, but Wolff could jump the payroll back up to 70-80 million if the situation called for it, ie. when all the A’s young pitchers are ready to compete. Remember, this year is not the end goal of their rebuild, this is just a crap shoot with some cheap contracts (Giambi, Cabrera) and Holliday, who was landed from trading away basically redundant parts (Street, Gonzalez and Smith), in a weak division.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chip says:

      How does this comment have a negative rating? Even if the poster was previously considered antagonistic, he’s not here. He made a fair comparison of the two teams, and asked about a discrepancy in grade.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DavidCEisen says:

        It seems that a majority of people here take Dave Cameron’s opinion as gospel.

        Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the US, and three of the cities in front of Phoenix have two baseball teams. How exactly is this ownership group a C and Oakland’s a D?

        -15 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Goose says:

    Pretty much a spot on assessment of the DBacks Dave. Nice article.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Omar says:

    Oh, and the system was also largely thinned out when all their best prospects graduated.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. John says:

    Swing and a miss on this one, love the site generally but Im sorry, I think this whole exercise has been a failure. Some of these rankings are utterly unjustifiable.

    -31 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Omar says:

      Again, a guy disagrees and gets jumped on? Yeah, this is really cool.

      -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Teej says:

        No one said anything to him. But if people are at all like me, they don’t like the threads bogged down with people whining without making any sort of effort to explain why they’re whining or do a better job, so I imagine that’s why you see a bunch of minuses.

        I’ve seen a few rankings that I thought were a little bit off, but in the grand scheme of things I’ve really enjoyed this series. I’m not going to come here and say “You blew it, Dave. This is terrible.” and then leave.

        These are subjective rankings, and this is Dave’s point of view. I don’t see disagreements on a few rankings as being worthy of calling his work “a failure.”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Gina says:

        I think all the minus’s are kind of dumb but I agree with the post above mine I don’t care if you’re going to disagree but at least take the time to form an argument to justify/explain your disagreement.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Omar says:

        The first comment of the thread:

        “Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see how 2 B’s and 2 C’s average out to a B regardless of weight…Besides that, nice article.”

        He even said he might be missing something, and he brings up a damn good point…how is that a B? Why should he have to wade through 20 threads of you guys kissing Dave’s ass or read the whole thing just to get a good take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. I’m sure John’s disagreements of the rankings have been enumerated in previous threads, so there’s no need to rehash. He admits to liking the site, but not this article in particular, what is this e-fascism?

        -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • NadavT says:

        Complaining about how people vote on comments gets you an automatic -1 vote in my book. It takes away from the point of comment threads which is to talk about the article, not to make meta-meta-comments about how other people react to what other people say.

        In fact, I’m giving my own comment a -1 vote for continuing this ridiculous trend.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Fritz says:

        I gave you a +1 just to stick it to you.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • q says:

        Wow, you need to lighten up Omar. Who cares if a comment gets a negative rating, it’s not like one can’t read the comment and decide on its merits himself (and John’s comment has zero merit, to be honest, much like most of yours save for some of the discussion involving the Haren deal). There have been several comments disagreeing with Dave that have been given +’s. Only those worthless ones without any substance get negatives.

        Also, I see no reason why the final grade has to be an average (weighted or not) of the component grades. Maybe the final grade is on a different curve than the component grades. Maybe Dave is just being arbitrary. But so what? The final grade is subjective as are the component grades, so it doesn’t really matter what the letter ends up being, as the analysis is right there for all to see.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Terry says:

    In an normal economy they would’ve had some help restocking their farm using comp picks from offering arb to guys like Dunn etc.

    Don’t they still have quite a bit of debt hanging over their heads as well? That’s got to figure into their odds over the next several years as well doesn’t it?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. bablue says:

    I’m wondering how much of the D-Backs ranking ahead of the Dodgers is just because of the front office? Considering that GM’s change (especially if they suck), and the Dodgers have talented people around Colletti (Logan White, Kim Ng), if Colletti got fired and replaced by an average GM even would the Dodgers easily leapfrog the D-Backs? All of the rest of the Dodgers grades are higher than the D-Backs respective grades.

    Basically, I’m a Dodger fan hoping Ned gets fired sometime soon. :-)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gina says:

      My guess would be it’s entirely gms. I agree Colleti has talent behind him but it seems like he does everything he can to ruin the awesome foundation the dodgers have, not saying he does it intentionally just that he’s that clueless. Like considering trading Kemp/Either/Martin, signing Blake and Hudson when they have younger cheaper players who could fill those positions. Even with all the good the organization has it’s hard for me to be optimistic about their chances when he’s still at the helm.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bablue says:

        I understand and agree with your viewpoint. He is an extremely awful GM, maybe the worst in the MLB, so its hard to see them improving on the talent that they have and making the right moves. But the good thing is that Front Office is probably the easiest category to change (owners usually stay longer, MLB talent takes a while to develop, and your minor league system is dependent on your front office) so if Ned is fired, I think the Dodgers can be a top 5 organization. The question is when that will happen.

        Frank McCourt (the owner) doesn’t exactly sound like he’s trusting Colletti anymore by his comments. He’s talked about failed free agent signings and wanting to build a top farm system again. Also, McCourt got involved in both the Manny trade and the subsequent Manny contract negotiations this offseason. Also, Colletti is on the last year of his contract and McCourt hasn’t extended him yet, which bodes well for Dodger fans.

        The problem is its hard to see Colletti getting fired if the team makes the playoffs this year, which is fairly likely to happen. I don’t want to see anymore Colletti offseasons, especially with the young players starting to get more expensive. But if the team doesn’t make the playoffs even after signing Manny, Hudson, Furcal, Blake, Wolf, etc., its very possible Colletti gets the axe, which would be the best thing for the franchise in the long run.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Goose says:

        The Dodgers have had basically a similar young talent base to work with and a similar farm system as the DBacks. They also have a MUCH larger payroll than Arizona. LA should be blowing the DBacks out of the water. As it is, they’re practically neck and neck.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Teej says:

    I disagree.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *