Once again, Diamondbacks ‘turn the page’, ‘hit reset’ on GM and manager

Oct 3, 2016, 6:11 PM | Updated: Oct 4, 2016, 11:29 am
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PHOENIX – Two years.

It’s not a long time, yet in professional sports, it’s often more than enough.

It was for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who on Monday chose not to renew the contract of senior vice president and general manager Dave Stewart and parted ways with manager Chip Hale, the latter of whom had one more year remaining on his contract.

Hale will be paid for the 2017 season.

Under the direction of Stewart and Hale, the Diamondbacks went 148-176, including the just completed 93-loss season in which only a year-ending, three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres allowed the D-backs to finish above the basement of the National League West.

Managing general partner Ken Kendrick addressed why the two-year timeframe was sufficient to make a decision at an afternoon press conference.

“We looked at this in terms of trend, and we did not see the trend line at present moving in the right direction. Obviously, the most easy and direct measuring stick is numbers of wins versus losses, and clearly, we were going in the wrong direction,” he said, adding, “I think you have to look beyond that and look at where do we see, under the present regime, where do we see the next year or years going, and we weren’t comfortable that we saw them going in the right direction.”

Asked about the importance of continuity, even in failure, Kendrick pointed to the Colorado Rockies.

“While they did make a general manager change fairly recently—they’ll probably not like me saying this—but continuity in their setting produced seven losing seasons in a row,” he said. “I don’t think our fans would find that very acceptable.”

Twice now in the past three seasons, the D-backs have suffered through seasons of 90 losses or more with their run of non-winning seasons hitting five consecutive years, the worst stretch in franchise history.

The D-backs have not made the playoffs since 2011 and only one other time, 2007, over the past 14 years.

“These are guys that we care a lot about. They worked really hard. Their heart was in the right place,” president and CEO Derrick Hall said, referring to Stewart and Hale. “These are always very difficult times, but it is the results business and we’re in a situation again where we believe it’s time for improvement. It’s time to turn the page and hit reset and see if we can’t get going in the right direction. We owe that to our fans, we owe that to the organization and that’s why we’re here today.”

The role and subsequent future of chief baseball officer Tony La Russa are still being discussed, according to Hall. It was La Russa, as the head of the club’s baseball operations, who hired both Stewart and Hale.

The D-backs are now in search of their seventh different general manager and eighth different manager, that’s quite the turnover for a franchise that will be entering its 20th season in 2017.

“Certainly, it starts with me,” Kendrick said. “We’ve made some bad choices … and I’m going to make some more mistakes, by the way. It won’t be my last. I hope I’ll be around awhile, so I hope it’ll take awhile before we maybe have to have another one of these events.”

Kendrick mentioned the competitive nature of the “business” as well as the financial constraints the D-backs face compared to the rest of the division.

Even so, “we have high expectations,” he continued. “Our community has high expectations for us and we’re OK with, but it’s a results business. It’s a tough business. We don’t have much margin for error when we make a mistake whether it be in a contract or a trade. It’s much more impactful,”

In looking for a general manger, the D-backs hope to land someone with “significant experience in the game,” yet prior experience in that exact position is not required, according to Hall, who added embracing analytics is also a must.

Hall said they had no list of candidates, and it’s important a GM is in place first so that person can be involved in the hiring of a new manager.

It appears the D-backs will take their time in filling both jobs.

“At the end of the day, the results haven’t been there. It’s why we’re here today. We’re going to keep at it. We’re going to hope we make better decisions and we learn from the mistakes of the past,” Kendrick said. “I’m about as competitive a person as you ever knew and I’m not one to give up and I won’t, and I’m confident that things will go in a better direction and I hope very soon.”

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