The Arizona Diamondbacks have struggled since their improbable run to the 2007 National League Championship series. After two seasons with 90-plus losses, it became abundantly clear that it was time for change. That change started in the front office with the hiring of general manager Kevin Towers. It didn't start on the field until Towers decided to deal third baseman Mark Reynolds.
On December 6 , as part of the their busy Winter Meetings, the D-backs dealt Reynolds to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for relief pitchers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. It was a move that revealed the philosophy of the new front office.
Reynolds struck out 767 times in four seasons in Arizona and only hit .192 in 2010. Those numbers weren't what Towers was looking for from his third baseman and he decided to strengthen his bullpen by dealing him.
While the power hitter didn't want to leave the Valley, he understood the clubs decision to trade him to Baltimore.
"I just signed the extension here and was looking forward to being here a couple more years," Reynolds told Sports 620 KTAR's Gambo and Ash show Wednesday. "Obviously a new general manager and a new front office and they wanted to make some moves and change the complexion of the team. I was kind of surprised but at the same time understood what was going on."
Understanding the move came as a result of understanding how bad his numbers were in 2010. Reynolds admitted to that he wasn't happy with his performance last season.
"It's embarrassing what I did last year average wise," he said. "I take more pride in what I do than that. I'm not going to make excuses for my injuries. I feel like I'm a way better hitter than that. It makes me that much more motivated this offseason to hopefully come back next season with avengence."
He'll have a chance to bounce back next season in the hitter friendly Camden Yards. Despite fans expecting Reynolds to become the first Oriole to hit 40 home runs since Rafael Palmeiro did it back in 1998, the former D-back doesn't feel any pressure.
"I don't put anymore pressure on myself," he said. "I know my game. I know what I can do. I'm just going to go in there and play like I did in Arizona, balls to the walls and don't hold back anything. Hopefully I can go there and have definitely a better year than last year, stay healthy and be productive."
Having a better year shouldn't be difficult after his dismal 2010 season, especially because Reynolds viewed his final season in Arizona as one big learning experience.
"Looking back on it, I learned a lot from last year," he said. "From tinkering with my swing during the season to playing through injuries and trying to run out there everyday. I'll take last year as a learning curve."
Although he found positives in the difficult season, Reynolds also realized just how bad of a year it was for the franchise as a whole.
"It was just a collective kind of crappy effort from everybody," he said. "I know guys had individually good seasons and nobody gave up at all playing. We just couldn't get things to go right. Whether it was the offense sputtering, the bullpen sputtering, the starters not giving us quality starts or bad decisions by the head guys, it was just a collective effort. Once it started spiraling it never really stopped."
One might expect a player who was traded from a team he had just signed a lucrative extension with to be bitter, but Reynolds wanted fans to leave fans and the organization on a different note.
"I wish them nothing but the best of luck," he said. "I hope they turn things around. I hope they have a better year this year."
Listen to Mark Reynolds on Gambo and Ash