MLB managers praise Arizona Diamondbacks for improbable success in 2023

San Francisco Giants manager and part-time Valley resident Bob Melvin discusses the 2023 run of the Diamondbacks, a team he used to manage. (Photo by Joseph Eigo/Cronktie News)

GLENDALE – Although the Arizona Diamondbacks fell to the Texas Rangers in the 2023 World Series, the team’s improbable postseason run sent shockwaves throughout the baseball world.

That was the vibe at Cactus League media day Tuesday, when general managers and front office executives praised the Diamondbacks’ success and acknowledged they are a force to be reckoned with as the 2024 campaign approaches.

“The Diamondbacks have a lot of momentum,” Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black said. “I see balance. From a lineup that has power within the lineup, speed, a team that plays defense. That’s a really good team.”

The 84-win Diamondbacks swept the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild-card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and forced a Game 7 in an exceptionally raucous Citizens Bank Park against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS.

All before making the Rangers sweat in the World Series.

“I can’t undersell what we did last year, right?” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “I’m so proud of the team and the way they came together and fought together every single day.”

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The postseason brought the Valley to life, and in the eyes of Valley resident and former Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres manager (now San Francisco Giants manager) Bob Melvin, a sense of grandeur.

“It was actually cool to see,” Melvin said. “Obviously, we would have rather been in that position, but they had to go through some tough times during the course of the season. It was very impressive that the team put it together and Torey (Lovullo) managed to stay with it and persevere through the season, through some tough times and then come out on the other side of it. The Valley certainly embraced them.”

Melvin served as the Diamondbacks bench coach from 2001-02, when the team won two NL West titles and the 2001 World Series. He also served as the club’s manager from 2005-09.

It’s safe to say that Melvin has been an integral part of the team’s 26-year history. He experienced the highs and lows and acknowledges the significance of the team’s recent success.

“In ‘01, we were three years, four years off of expansion,” Melvin said. “It was packed, it was spirited, it was awesome. But now you have actually a fan base that grew up with the team. So, a little different in that aspect.

“There were times when the Cubs came to town, there were a lot of Cubs fans. Giants came to town, a lot of Giants fans. You’re now seeing a real fan base, and it’s cool to see.”

Now, the Diamondbacks have one of the toughest tasks at hand: an encore.

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said he has “a lot of hope” for the team to repeat its success in 2023. (Photo by Joseph Eigo/Cronkite News)

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said he has “a lot of hope” for the team to repeat its success in 2023. (Photo by Joseph Eigo/Cronkite News)

Expectations are high ahead of 2024. While the team shares a division with some of the league’s biggest offseason spenders in the Los Angeles Dodgers ($1.2 billion) and the San Francisco Giants ($199 million), the 2023 season proved that money doesn’t always buy championships.

During the offseason, the Diamondbacks bolstered their roster with numerous additions to both the lineup and pitching rotation. They were the fourth-highest spending team in all of baseball ($168 million, according to Spotrac.)

They added starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (four years, $80 million), filling a gaping hole in the starting rotation. They traded with the Seattle Mariners for Eugenio Suarez, filling a gap at third base. They signed both Joc Pederson (one year, $12.5 million) and Randal Grichuk (one year, $1.5 million), who’ll provide power in the DH role throughout the season.

And on top of all that, a sophomore season looms for 2023 Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll, who was ranked 18th in MLB’s Top-100 players for the 2024 campaign.

The Diamondbacks begin exhibition play Friday, giving fans a chance to visit Salt River Fields and catch a glimpse of what the upcoming season has in store.

“We have a lot of hope for this year,” Lovullo said. “There’s a lot of belief that we’re going to do something this year, but you can’t do it by just talking about it. That’ll mean just winning inches all over the field, not worrying about the things you can’t control, just taking care of the business every single day.

“You got to prepare it and you’ve got to believe it. And that’s where we’re at right now.”

Aaron Schmidt EH-run shmit
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Aaron Schmidt expects to graduate in spring 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in film and media production. In addition to the Phoenix Sports Bureau, Schmidt reports for The Arizona Republic and The State Press. He has also interned with Arizona’s Family and Arizona Sports 98.7.

Joe Eigo joe EYE-go (he/him)
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Joe Eigo expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Eigo is in his third semester at Cronkite News. He has previously worked with Inferno Intel, WCSN, The State Press and The Racing Experts.