Diamondbacks rebuild after tough season

By John Marshall ,AP

PHOENIX, Arizona — The Arizona Diamondbacks boosted their payroll to unprecedented levels, hoping the influx would break them out of a rough two years.

Instead, they went into a freefall to the bottom of the standings.

Arizona’s retooling started during the 2014 season with the hiring of Tony La Russa and the firings of general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson.

But even after finishing with the worst record in baseball, the changes may not necessarily continue during the offseason.

“I don’t expect to see much change in this clubhouse,” new Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said on Monday. “Going forward, I’m looking at the spirit of how they play the game. Most of names you see here in the clubhouse you’ll likely to see the same names up here.”

The Diamondbacks had much higher expectations than this heading into the season.

The team bumped up its payroll to more than US$110 million and added pieces they believed would help them bounce back after a pair of 81-81 seasons.

Very little went right once the 2014 season started.

Arizona opened with a pair of losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Australia and continued to pile up losses, opening 4-14 for the worst start in franchise history.

The Diamondbacks never recovered, struggling through injuries and subpar seasons by players they were counting on to be productive.

Arizona finished 64-98, the second-worst record in franchise history behind the 111-loss team in 2004, and watched a team celebrate a division clinching at Chase Field for the second straight season (the Dodgers last season, St. Louis this one).

“We had higher expectations coming out of the spring,” reliever Brad Ziegler said. “Whether you look at the injuries or the pure lack of execution on the field, this is not how we wanted to finish.”