When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed free agent pitcher Zack Greinke and traded for pitcher Shelby Miller, the message was clear — playoffs.
However, Greinke hasn’t put up the same numbers he did last year for the Los Angeles Dodgers, which put him second in the National League Cy Young award voting. As for Miller, his struggles have been well documented, where instead of pitching the Diamondbacks toward the playoffs, he finds himself pitching in Triple-A Reno.
In the meantime, instead of building off last season’s success, the Diamondbacks have regressed and are on pace to lose 94 games.
But who’s to blame for the Diamondbacks troubles?
Tony La Russa?
What about Ken Kendrick?
According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, he feels the Diamondbacks’ owner should bear some of the responsibility.
Kendrick and team president and CEO Derrick Hall hired La Russa, who in turn hired Stewart. Kendrick made the call to sign free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke, changing the direction of the organization. Kendrick balked recently at a trade of right-hander Shelby Miller and even the firing of manager Chip Hale, according to USA Today, and also declined to give final approval on a deal for Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier in Dec. 2014, as reported then by FOX Sports.
Rosenthal goes on to say that people close to Kendrick say that he cares deeply and signs off on most decisions. But he has known to show an emotional and impetuous side. The Diamondbacks have changed general managers twice since 2010, and a third change would bring the typical organizational disruption with personal changes and new philosophies.
Rosenthal adds that Kendrick shouldn’t be shocked that La Russa and Stewart have made their share of mistakes. Given the fact that La Russa is a Hall of Fame manager, he has never worked in an front office. As for Stewart, a former pitcher and agent, he last worked in a front office in 2001.
But if Kendrick is to keep La Russa and Stewart, Rosenthal believes he should commit to them publicly beyond 2017. If not, then the two will be looked at as a couple lame ducks and the criticisms of the Diamondbacks’ front office will likely continue among those in baseball.
Even if Kendrick makes a change, the D-backs will be in a weird spot. A young, analytically-minded GM would not necessarily be the right fit; if La Russa and Stewart could not manage “up” and work cohesively with Kendrick, a GM lacking experience might get steamrolled.
According to a team spokesman, Kendrick was not an option to be interviewed by Rosenthal. Instead, Hall said that the organization wants stability and that decisions have not been made other than the team will evaluate everything.
So what should the Diamondbacks do? If the team decides to let Hale go, they would be looking for the organization’s 11th manager, and the seventh manager since the team fired Bob Brenly in 2004. If they elect to let Stewart go, then the team will be searching for their sixth general manager since Joe Garagiola Jr. left in 2005.
That volume of change doesn’t necessarily reflect the type of stability that Hall might envision for the team. The varying changing of the guard might also have an effect on the lack of continued success the Diamondbacks have had.
Of course, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Teams such as the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels have seen success by sticking to the guys they have in place in their front offices. But as Rosenthal points out, only one man knows the answer and nobody seems to know what that answer is.
So now what? The dismissals of La Russa and Stewart would amount to another abrupt turn, even if Kendrick determines that the moves are justified. Again: Kendrick is the owner; he can do whatever he wants. I’d just like to hear him explain how he is going to make the D-backs to a more efficient, coherent organization.
Starting at the top.
- Steven Souza Jr. arrives in Arizona excited to be a D-back
- Assistant GM: D-backs acquired well-rounded players in Widener, Souza Jr.
- D-backs’ commitment to winning shows in spending, payroll figure
- Steven Souza Jr. a familiar face to his new Diamondbacks teammates
- Spring training preview: Marotta and Doug talk D-backs