OK, I thought the Diamondbacks would have at least an initial reaction to a managerial change and play well for a week or 10 days before reverting back to what they really are. But all we needed was four games to figure out that firing A.J. Hinch wasn’t the answer.
Just as firing Bob Melvin wasn’t the answer. And when the season is over firing Kirk Gibson is not the answer. You see, no manager can turn chicken scratch into chicken #$$%.
Well, you get the point. This mess the D-backs are in has nothing to do with managing, it has to do with not having the right mix of players. Yes, on paper the D-backs have some talent, not enough, but some. But the real problem lies in the makeup of this team and unless the team changes the results aren’t going to. We found that out in the last three days since Gibson took over as manager.
Gibson has lost 3 of 4. His team committed six errors in one baseball game. His team struck out at least 12 times in the last three games, including 16 in one game and a total of 40 in those games. His bullpen has given up at least one run in each of his four games and a total of nine runs in those games. The more things change the more they stay the same.
If you want to find blame for the D-backs struggles this season — 100 losses is a very real possibility, you have to blame the people who put the team together and mainly Josh Byrnes.
Now Byrnes had some payroll limitations with deferred salary, but he put himself in a mess by signing players to long-term contracts after they had just one good season — see Eric Byrnes, Chris Snyder, Chris Young, Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds. There was no reason to lock any of these players up long term, especially when you hold a players rights for six years. You have to let these players earn their first big contract and by earning it I mean performing for not just one year but for three or four years in a row. So you may have to pay a little or a lot more in arbitration or when its time to do a long-term contract, but at least you know if the players are worth it by then. So that was mistake number one.
Mistake number two is not having any pitching depth. Things got so bad this year the D-backs had to trade Conor Jackson to Oakland for a minor-league reliever who is now their best reliever.
And when they needed to find a starter for Wednesday in place of Edwin Jackson they had to go to Double A because they didn’t have anyone good enough in Triple A.
Mistake number three was not putting any resources into the bullpen. Byrnes always felt the bullpen was where he could get away with going cheap, which is why Jose Valverde is gone as are all the relievers who had success under Melvin, like Juan Cruz, Tony Pena and Brandon Lyon.
The D-backs bullpen is the worst in the history of baseball and the main culprit in why this season has been so bad.
When I say the makeup of the team I also mean how the team was constructed. The D-backs have too many high strikeout guys, they lead the major leagues with 773 and have 100 more then their closest competitor. You can’t win baseball games when you don’t have guys that put the bat on the ball. You can have one high strikeout guy, but you can’t have four. You miss on opportunities to move a runner over, get a sacrifice fly and put pressure on a defense. Besides who wants to hit and run when you can’t hit. The D-backs are limited with what they can do on the base paths because they strikeout too much.
So in closing, the team has to have a game plan and I’m not sure they do right now. The organization may like Reynolds but him and Upton can’t be on the same team, not when they are 1-2 in all of baseball in strikeouts and are supposed to be middle of the lineup guys. And especially when you consider Chris Young, Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche are high strikeout guys. And how can you go half the season without a left-hander in the bullpen, that is absurd.
Firing the manager was a knee-jerk reaction to a bad season, and yes, sometimes you have to make changes for the sake of making changes I understand that. But Connie Mack couldn’t lead this team to many victories the way it is constructed. It is time to blow this thing up and I suggest using the Grade A dynamite. Because in the end it’s the players who have put this organization in the position they are in. Byrnes is gone and he was the architect of this disaster and I have no problem with his firing, it was justified. But Ken Kendrick the owner is paying three managers right now for all the wrong reasons. So memo to the D-backs brass — have a plan and then execute it. Better bullpen, more veteran leaders for the young guys, no more long-term contracts to players who have one good year and for goodness sake get rid of some of the guys who can’t put the ball in play because they are killing you.