The Future of the Diamondbacks: Firing Kirk Gibson Would be a Mistake


On Wednesday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off the victory against the division leader Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, the the D-Backs still lost the series 1-2 with the Dodgers winning the first two games. With another series loss, they are now just one game above five hundred. Essentially out of the playoff picture, Arizona’s organization needs to start thinking what should be done for long term success.

One question that the organization will likely raise is whether Kirk Gibson should continue to manage the Diamondbacks.

You may think this is crazy talk. After all, Kirk Gibson won the award for National League Manager of the Year just two years ago. But if history is any indication, the organization is quick to discredit such successful seasons after a year or two of struggles. Gibson’s situation is strikingly similar to former Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin. Like Gibson, Bob Melvin won National League Manager of the Year and took the Diamondbacks to become the 2007 National League West Champions. Nonetheless, Melvin was fired two years later after failing to make the playoffs in 2008 and 2009.

To say the Diamondbacks have had a lot of self-induced manager turnover would be an understatement. They have had six managers in its sixteen-year history and for five of those managers, their careers with the Diamondbacks ended after being fired. Although Gibson led the Diamondbacks to the top of the National League West in the 2011 season, he also followed that performance with a marginal 2012 season. For better or worse, the Snakes have set the bar high. If they finish off the season at or below the .500 mark in wins, Kirk Gibson’s job as the Arizona Diamondbacks may be in jeopardy.

Occasionally a new manager has given the Diamondbacks the necessary spark for the next season. Sometimes, it backfires; look no further than the firing of Bob Melvin after a poor 2009 season which led to an even worse 2010 season. However, in this case, pulling the trigger is not the solution. Gibson took charge after the Diamondbacks in 2010, when they were last in the division. Arizona would end that season last in the division…and by a lot. The next year, Gibson’s first full year managing the club, the Diamondbacks would win the division. I think Kirk Gibson deserves a lot of credit. He brought in a no-nonsense attitude to the organization that seemed to maximize the potential in the players. More importantly, he has surrounded himself with other good coaches. Most notably, Don Baylor as hitting coach. Baylor has been a very successful manager himself.

It is unclear how secure Kirk Gibson’s job is, but if the Diamondbacks elect to dismiss Kirk Gibson it will probably backfire.