The Arizona Diamondbacks need a fresh start.
So says D-backs Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa, who took the next step in getting that fresh start after firing manager Kirk Gibson on Friday.
Arizona (63-96) has the worst record in MLB and will complete the 2014 season without ever having a winning record at any point.
La Russa’s move toward a new beginning started on Thursday, as former player, pitching coach and sports agent Dave Stewart was hired as the team’s new general manager. Stewart, 57, becomes the D-backs’ sixth general manager and will attempt to bring the team back to NL West glory.
“We’ve got to be better,” Stewart said at Friday’s press conference. “Moving forward, we’re going to be very, very, very, very, very careful and we’re going to dig as deep as we can and turnover as many stones as we can to make sure we get the right personnel here, get the right players here — get the players that want to compete and want to win.”
Stewart was not the only new addition. De Jon Watson, former Vice President of Player Development for the Los Angeles Dodgers, joined the D-backs as the Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations. Watson’s role will be primarily in player development.
According to the new D-backs brass, the team may not be in as rough of shape as advertised.
“I don’t see this as a complete rebuild,” Watson said. “I think we had some bad health, a little bad luck. This club is going to be better than most people are thinking they’re going to be going into next year.”
Adding Major League ready players for next season is one way to turn the franchise around quickly.
The new GM told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday that he is interested in bolstering the team’s rotation, specifically the top of the rotation, through free agency.
Stewart added that his goal is to put a team on the field that is above .500.
Not all moves need to come from outside of the organization. The new VP of Baseball Operations believes there are plenty of useful players already under contract.
“We have some really good pieces here that can help our big league club now,” Watson said. “I think we have some good looking young players that are close to the major leagues.”
The D-backs have a long climb back to postseason contention after missing them three seasons in a row. Going from worst to first in a tough NL West will be a challenge, but it is a challenge the franchise is ready to face.
A fresh start is necessary and the additions of Stewart, Watson and whoever becomes the next manager, may be the breath of fresh air the organization so desperately needs.