Diamondbacks Fire Manager Bob Melvin
- Updated: May 8, 2009
Bob Melvin has been fired as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks and replaced by A.J. Hinch, the club’s director of player development since 2006.
Melvin was a good guy and a great interview. What he did with the 2007 Diamondbacks was incredible, leading that team to the best record in the National League despite fielding a team that scored 20 fewer runs than it allowed. Unfortunately, that success created unrealistic expectations for 2008 and 2009, and now he’s seeing the fallout of that.
Things began to sour for Melvin after his club put up a 20-8 April record last year. Since then, the D-backs have gone 74-89, although much of this year’s struggles can be attributed to injuries to the team’s best pitcher (Brandon Webb) and position player (Stephen Drew).
The club also dismissed Rick Schu as hitting coach. The Diamondbacks were dead last in baseball in team batting average (.222) and on-base percentage (.296) at the time of the firings, despite the fact that the D-backs play in one of baseball’s best hitters parks. Their road stats (.185/.243/.299) are even more laughable. The offense can’t go anywhere but up, so Schu’s replacement is going to look good no matter what.
Bryan Price also resigned as after he learned of Melvin’s dismissal. The Diamondbacks have consistently put together one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball under Price’s supervision despite the unfavorable pitching conditions at Chase Field. His departure could offset any improvement garnered from shaking things up at the top.
Hinch, Melvin’s replacement, has no managerial experience at any level, making him a baffling choice to replace Melvin. Organizational stalwarts such as Chip Hale and Brett Butler have resumes that more closely fit the profile of a big league manager.
As farm director, Hinch oversaw the development of many of the club’s current stars, such as Drew, Justin Upton, Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, Chris Young, and Tony Pena. Perhaps the thinking is that Hinch understands the strengths and weaknesses of these players better than anyone, or perhaps the hope is that Hinch won’t be afraid to replace struggling players with current prospects who are playing well, such as Gerardo Parra, Cyle Hankerd, Hector Ambriz, and Bryan Augenstein. Just two days ago, Josh Whitesell, who had seven major league at-bats, was named the club’s starting first baseman going forward.
Hinch enters a favorable situation, as the Diamondbacks will soon benefit from the return of Webb and Drew from the disabled list. It’s hard to imagine the club playing worse than their initial 12-17 record with the addition of those two stars. The club missed the playoffs after their 20-8 start to last season, so there’s no reason they can’t make the playoffs after their lackluster start to 2009. Whether replacing the big league coaching staff with inexperience will make that happen remains to be seen.
Read more of Keith’ Diamondbacks analysis at FutureBacks.com.