Arizona radio personality Tim Montemayor reported today that the Diamondbacks are considering replacing manager Chip Hale:
Heavy rumors floating around that Phil Nevin will be named manager of the #DBacks …people around the club and MiLB tell me ...— Tim Montemayor (@TheMontyShow) July 22, 2016
told today that Nevin is aware and the conversation centers around the impact on the club, would it change culture https://t.co/eMmk8RrJY8— Tim Montemayor (@TheMontyShow) July 22, 2016
Ken Rosenthal’s also on the case, apparently. Hale is in his second year with the D-Backs and has a 119-138 record at the helm. The team would reportedly replace him with Phil Nevin.
Look, I don’t know much about Chip Hale as a manager, but I know he was highly regarded when he took the job at the start of 2015. He had paid his dues as a minor league manager and as a major league coach. He was respected around the game. Here’s what I do know: What has happened to the Diamondbacks in 2016 is not his fault and to fire him now would be an injustice .
Here’s a partial list of things that Chip Hale couldn’t control that has sunk the D-Backs in 2016:
- Signing Yasmany Tomas.
- Trading for Shelby Miller.
- Breaking A.J. Pollock’s elbow.
- Injuries to David Peralta, Chris Owings, Zack Greinke, and Rubby De La Rosa.
- Nick Ahmed.
And he’s made good moves as well, including trusting Jake Lamb and finding a way to get Chris Owings into the lineup, once Pollock went down.
If Hale is fired, it will be an injustice, especially if those most responsible for the club’s struggles are allowed to skate. Tony LaRussa was hired by the Diamondbacks in May of 2014, and helped hire Dave Stewart to be the club’s new general manager in September. Those 2014 Diamondbacks had truly been an embarrassment, losing 98 games under Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson, and the new blood had nowhere to go but up. Stewart and LaRussa diligently began undoing Towers’ damage. They signed Tomas, traded Didi Gregorias, Miguel Montero, and Wade Miley within three months. The Diamondbacks improved, but then they almost had to.
But as part of their purge, LaRussa and Stewart also began their troubling habit of dealing away the excellent prospects that had been brought in during the Towers era. Touki Toussaint, for instance, was included as a sweetener to rid them of Bronson Arroyo. They also sent the mindboggling trio of Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair, and Ender Inciarte to the Braves for Shelby Miller, who is currently in Reno trying to find himself.
This isn’t to say that Stewart necessarily should be jettisoned. His tenure hasn’t been all bad. He did acquire Jean Segura, Welington Castro, and Robbie Ray, after all. But his track record is rocky enough, and his judgment is suspect enough, that it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.
LaRussa and Stewart are guilty of the same sin as the Minnesota Twins, another struggling club that saw a decent 2015 campaign as a sign that they were close to winning. Unlike the Twins, the D-Backs doubled down, and decided to overpay for Miller and Zack Greinke. Now, once again, it’s Paul Goldschmidt tasked with carrying a bad team to the finish line without help. Not even Billy Martin could win with what Hale has available to him. And not even Branch Rickey could solve all these injury problems on the fly.
The Diamondbacks are considering this change because they’re panicking. And good decisions are rarely made while panicking. What the D-Backs really need is a personnel change. The D-Backs simply have too much mediocrity eating up too much of their roster. They need to get healthy, get Miller fixed, find some way to move on from Tomas and Ahmed, and try again next year. Moving on to their third manager in three years is not going to solve those problems. Moving on to their third GM in three years might.