What do you think about trading Dan Haren? He is our most valuable player in my opinion and is under contract for a few more years.
-- Carl S., Phoenix
For me, Carl, that depends on the answer to the question of whether the D-backs are entering a rebuilding or a retooling mode. If they are rebuilding, then absolutely I deal Haren if I can get a package of prospects back that helps restock the farm system. If you're retooling and think that you're only a piece or two away from contending next year, then you hang onto him.
Look at it this way, Haren is relatively inexpensive this year at $8.25 million. Next year and in 2012, however, his salary jumps to $12.75 million and his option in '13 is for $15.5 million, with a $3.5 million buyout. Now, if you think you can win next year, you hang onto him, but if you're rebuilding then it stands to reason you would cut your payroll a bit and then suddenly you have one player taking up too much of a percentage of your payroll.
If you look at the Arizona farm system, it's been depleted by trades (such as the one made to acquire Haren before the 2008 season), and there is not a ton of prospects in the upper reaches of it. There are some exciting ones in A-ball right now thanks to the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, but if you could get some upper-level prospects by trading Haren to bridge that gap, then I think you have to think long and hard about it. Trading Adam LaRoche or Kelly Johnson is not going to bring the kind of return (nor payroll savings) that dealing Haren would.
Where are the major changes the team talked about making? What about changes in the front office or in the manager's office? Has the evaluation process been done yet?
-- Glenn P, Tucson
As far as I know, Glenn, the evaluation of the organization that Ken Kendrick and Derrick Hall talked about is ongoing. It would seem to me that they will need to make a decision sooner rather than later about their leadership team going forward.
The next month before the July 31 Trade Deadline is a critical time with regards to making moves. If Josh Byrnes is your GM going forward, great, then he should be the one making them. But if you don't think he is, or you don't have confidence in him, then do you really want him remaking the roster?
As for manager A.J. Hinch and his situation, see the question below.
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How much of the current struggles do you think are the result of having Hinch as the manager? Why not put Kirk Gibson in that spot to get the team fired up?
-- Karl J., Phoenix
I don't think it's any secret that putting Hinch in the manager's role has not worked out the way the team had hoped. For whatever reason, the players have just not responded to him. I don't think that is an indictment of him, it just is what the situation is right now. He's an extremely bright baseball person and a quality human being who has worked very hard trying to get things turned around.
So does putting someone else in the role right now mean everything changes? I don't think so. But just like with Byrnes, you have to decide if Hinch is your guy going forward, and if he is then you give him your full support. If he's not, then you make a move sooner rather than later.
While I'm not about to start recommending who should be dismissed and who should keep their jobs, I will say this, hanging onto Hinch for the rest of the season and then dismissing him is not fair. If he's not your guy going forward, don't make him take the pounding he is taking for the rest of the season. He's wearing these losses pretty hard. He's very strong mentally, but the whispers about his managerial abilities, etc., have to take a toll. My prediction is that if Hinch were dismissed tomorrow, he'd have a new job within a week if he wanted. He may not soon manage again, but this is a guy who was on the front office fast track toward a GM job and is very well thought of in that regard.
I personally am glad that they decided to retire Luis Gonzalez's number, but what about Randy Johnson? Why not do his first since he did have the better career and will be in the Hall of Fame? Wouldn't that make more sense? Is it because there is a bad relationship between the two?
-- Chris G., Phoenix
Chris, I don't know that it really matters who gets their number retired first. Years from now, if there are five or 10 numbers up there no one will remember or care which went first. Gonzalez's is a natural to do now since he's working for the organization, while Johnson is taking a break for a year.
I think by "bad relationship," you are referring to the D-backs and Johnson, not Johnson and Gonzalez. Certainly there is some frostiness in the relationship, but I'm sure that will thaw over time, as those things tend to do. Keep in mind things were a little testy between Gonzalez and the D-backs when he departed following the 2006 season, but over the past couple of years that dissipated.
I'm sure Johnson will have his number retired in the very near future, and at some point will be involved with the organization at least on some level.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.