The firing of manager A.J. Hinch and GM Josh Byrnes isn’t a “complete makeover,” as team president Derrick Hall said Friday morning at a news conference at Chase Field with regard to the state of the Diamondbacks. But by the end of the season, it very well could be.
Jerry DiPoto is in as interim GM and Kirk Gibson takes over for the rest of the year as field manager, and both, along with the entire roster of players, will be under the microscope from here until October.
Not that the players weren’t already. But playing for a new manager and under new leadership might lead to improved morale and better play. “We’ll see if they respond differently before we make those decisions,” Hall said.
Hall said there are more changes to come, even as the biggest ones were made Thursday when Hinch and Byrnes were dismissed. The overriding theme of the morning, reiterated by Hinch on KTAR radio Friday afternoon: The team simply didn't win enough games.
“The message to our team is we want to win,” Hall said. “We want to win. We want to play cleanly. Our starting rotation has been tremendous this year. Our position players certainly are capable, I think some would say they have underperformed and underachieved.”
Exhibit A: The bullpen
Exhibit B: Too many strikeouts by hitters in key situations
There’s more, but it was a bit surprising that Hall and managing general partner Ken Kendrick didn’t say too much about the players’ fault in all this. They did say that the players “underperformed,” and need to take some responsibility for what happened, without naming specific names.
Kendrick said that the club relies heavily on the draft, as a “middle-market” organization.
“We’ve concluded that our farm system is a less stellar part of our organization than we would like it to be,” Kendrick said.
The way the D-backs have played in 2010, it was clear that Hinch was going to take the heat first, and then Byrnes for being the one who put the team together and for staying loyal to his manager.
“We went through a process of looking at A to Z of what we can do to make things better,” a testy Kendrick, clearly not happy with some of the questions from reporters, said. “It was a six-week process.”
“Unfortunately for him,” Hall said of Hinch, “I think everyone wanted him to fail. He had a lot more command than most people know. His coaching staff was behind him and I think a lot of the players were, too. Yesterday, he said ‘I understand this.’”
Safe to say, D-backs fans get it, too. The Gibson era begins tonight at Chase Field against the L.A. Dodgers. Maybe if Gibby wins his managerial debut, he’ll do that chainsaw-fist pull thing he did when rounding the bases as he won Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for the Dodgers with a pinch-hit homer.