With another lackluster season coming to an end for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the question for owner Ken Kendrick and president Derrick Hall is do they extend Manager Torey Lovullo? On the other hand, do they let him go and find a new Manager for 2022, and start all over again which is looking more and more like a rebuild.
How Much Longer Does Lovullo Last?
“Do the Diamondbacks extend Torey Lovullo” takes on more meaning as the season winds down. How much longer will he last in Arizona? His contract was not extended, making him a lame-duck manager. That has prompted a lot of speculation about his future with the club throughout this 2021 season. Fans and prognosticators have been calling for him to be let go since May. Rumors will certainly heat up again as the season comes to an end.
Evaluating Players and Manager
The front office and Manager Torey Lovullo, along with his coaching staff, will spend this last month of the season evaluating players, both young and old. Furthermore, it’s not only players are being evaluated. Lovullo will also be evaluated by the front office. They will be looking at how he handles the players who have been called up and those who will be called up in September since most of them will be considered the future of the team and will be seen in 2022.
Lackluster 2021 Season
This season has been nothing short of unforgettable. More than half of Lovullo’s starting lineup has been on the IL. Every starting pitcher has spent time on the IL as well. The bullpen has been horrendous, failing to hold leads. They are last in saves and last in team ERA. There has been no consistency from any one on the team. They lost 28 of 31 games, including 17 in a row in early June.
Everyone is to blame for this lousy 2021 season, from the players to the coaches to the Manager to the front office. It is everybody and the whole organization needs to fix it sooner rather than later. That being said, does Lovullo get another chance? Do the injury-ridden, etc. seasons he’s faced give a true picture of his abilities as a manager?
Lovullo is seen as a player’s manager and he credits former teammate and big-league Manager John Farrell as the person who worked with him the most on open communication between players and coaches.
Both veterans and younger players enjoy his style and open communication. We all know the character of managing in baseball has changed. The connections with players and coaches and players and their manager have become very important for a team to be successful.
Lovullo believes in the significance of team interaction, and since he became the Manager of the Diamondbacks in October of 2016, he has brought the “open” communication. He is a decent manager and a great person who is also a strong communicator. He is excellent at relating not only with players, but with personnel throughout the organization.
The Case for Lovullo’s Return
There are a few things for the front office to consider as they decide on Lovullo’s Arizona future.
He has had two very good seasons at the start. He won the National League Manager of the Year honors in 2017, his first year with the team when he led them to a 93-69 record and a Wild Card berth. That made the fans and the team positive about Lovullo and the direction he was taking the team. Though, 2018 saw the team stumble and miss the playoffs, they finished above .500 (82-80).
In 2019, the club was better, but again missed the postseason as they faltered in the middle of September. They wound up four games out of the wild card spot with an 85-77 record.
Given the pandemic shortened season in 2020, the team’s struggles for last season might be overlooked. They had injuries to Madison Bumgarner, Merrill Kelly, Ketel Marte, Josh Rojas, and Taylor Widener. The whole team just never seemed to get on course with quality pitching and timely hitting last season and even defense.
However, for 2021 they were clearly were not good enough to contend in the very competitive NL West. Granted there were injuries to starters and to the pitching staff, but a bigger issue is that the team just does not have the payroll the other teams have. It makes it hard to lure and keep good players.
On the positive side, the 2021 Diamondbacks are showing they still have self-respect; they are playing hard for Lovullo. They’re are building momentum with some of the young players considered the future for 2022. That comes from Lovullo, his communication with his players, and his positivity.
Finally, the team has a minor league system ranked in the top ten with both hitting and pitching prospects that will be ready sooner than later. The front office will want a manger who has seen them perform and who can communicate with them. That’s Lovullo.
Whether the Diamondbacks extend Torey Lovullo or not, depends on the front office personnel. Will they view the abundance of injuries that have plagued the team the past few years and the lack of players to step in to cover the injuries as Lovullo’s fault may determine his extension.
He can’t do anything about the lack of payroll to get free agents or to hold on to the better players. Does Lovullo’s success and management style outweigh the issues he has faced the past two seasons and provide enough security to get an extension for another year or two? On the plus side, the front office personnel has given Lovullo a vote of confidence this season. All have said they expect him back.
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