Blame the hitters?
Blaming the players for their failure to go deep in the postseason is also too simplistic. For example, the 2021 team had two of the three AL MVP finalists, three Silver Sluggers, and the AL Cy Young winner. They scored the third most runs in MLB that season (846) and had a run differential of +183.
Yet, that 2021 team finished in 4th place in the AL East and out of the postseason, mainly because the bullpen blew nine saves and lost 14 games with a 4.51 ERA from May 1st ~ June 30th. GM Atkins had planned his bullpen around Kirby Yates, Tyler Chatwood and Rafael Dolis. Inevitable injuries exposed the lack of relief pitching depth, and Atkins tried to make do with Chatwood and Dolis. Luckily Jordan Romano took advantage of that chaos and pitched his way into the closer’s role.
Trades That Destroyed Value
There have also been value-destroying trades, whether it be not realizing fair value for lefty J.A. Happ, 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson, or for 1.5 years of control of Marcus Stroman. Fans have legitimate reason to question the trade of promising young catcher Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., for 27-year old Daulton Varsho. Moreno and Gurriel Jr., put up a combined bWAR of 7.3 in Arizona this season versus 3.9 for Varsho. Also Nick Frasso, currently the 4th ranked prospect in the LA Dodgers system (#69 overall per MLB Pipeline) was traded last year for Mitch White, who was DFA’d July 30th.
While Varsho’s defence added value with a DRS of +29 and OAA of +10, the 23-year old Moreno is no slouch on defense either, with a DRS of +20 and the 7th best catcher pop time to 2B at an average of 1.90 seconds, which has become much more relevant with the return of stolen bases thanks to the new MLB rule changes in 2023. As if to punctuate matters, Moreno hit a 425 foot home run in game one of the Diamondbacks’ NLWC series win over the Brewers.
In the end, James Click and Alex Anthopoulos both have recent experience building a World Series Championship roster; Ross Atkins does not. And given the window of contention with Guerrero Jr., and Bichette is closing fast, with both players potentially free agents after the 2025 season, it’s time Mark Shapiro recognizes that this team isn’t going to win a Championship with Atkins as GM. It’s time to end the Ross Atkins experiment and give James Click the job.