For the fourth time since 2010, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a regime change.
Ultimately, running a professional sports franchise is a results-based business. The Arizona Diamondbacks determined that it was time to go in a “new direction” and, as club president Derrick Hall said, the team “hit the reset button.”
After making bold and, what many would consider franchise-changing moves, the team finished with 69 wins, 22.5 games out of first place in 2016. To say the season was disappointing represented a gross understatement.
Now, with a depleted farm system, the Diamondbacks seem to the same spot they were in 2010. The difference is the farm system is more comprimised.
This past Monday, Tony La Russa, the club’s Chief Baseball Officer and team owner Ken Kendrick met for three hours. Given the current state of affairs, and if La Russa remains, he would likely assume a role in which he is not a major decision-maker. At this point, La Russa has not decided if he wants to remain in the organization.
When La Russa and Stewart were hired, the Diamondbacks made it clear they wanted to run their franchise the “old school” way. There are a varying amount of perspectives. The result of the Stewart-Hale-La Russa regime was the chain of command didn’t gel well.
Stewart Reacts to his Firing
About his departure, Stewart commented publicly. He articulated clear differences, and indicated he’s ready to turn the page.
"“I don’t have anything bad to say about Ken Kendrick,’’ Stewart said. “I’m not mad at this guy. He’s different. I’m different. Really, we were oil and water.’’"
At this point, Stewart said that several clubs and sports agencies already reached out to him.
“They may think I’m going to blast people, but I’m not,’’ Stewart said speaking to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “It is what it is. It’s that side of the business. To be honest with you, I’m kind of relieved.”
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Stewart’s Track Record
When asked to reflect on his job performance, Stewart pointed out the good deals he made.
He disagreed with Kendrick and Hall’s assessment of his short tenure.
"“Everybody keeps talking about the Shelby Miller trade,’’ Stewart said, “I made other trades too. We made plenty of other trades, too. I trusted my scouts. I valued their opinion. I was the one who ultimately made the decisions, and I’ll stand by that. If you look at everything, I feel like I did a pretty good job here. You may not know it for a couple of years, but you will.’’"
In the end and under Stewart’s leadership, the Hall-Kendrick management team did not believe the organization going in the right direction.
Whether Stewart agrees or disagrees, the Shelby Miller trade stands out as a clear misunderstanding of player evaluation and value. Other examples include the Yoan Lopez debacle and overpaying for Yasmany Tomas and Zack Greinke.
If the general manager is fired, the field manager normally gets relieved with him. Kendrick denied that this decision was a “package deal.” The new GM, Hall pointed out, will hire the next Arizona field manager.
Hall said Hale and Stewart were evaluated separately based on their individual performance, but, when the Diamondbacks let Stewart go, Hale became the “scapegoat”
Nevertheless, Hale was appreciative of the opportunity. He talked positively about the group of players he managed.
“I am thankful for the opportunity that the Arizona Diamondbacks gave me to manage a great group of young men,” Hale said. “There is a bright future ahead for these players. I wish them all the luck in the world.”
For his part, Hale was not perfect. Causes for concern included his bullpen management, dugout demeanor and lack of forward thinking.
Yet, even in the final series against the Padres, the players competed hard for their skipper, but, as Hale told reporters in his final days in Sedona Red, “the results were not there.”
Coaching Staff in Limbo
At the end of October, the contracts of bench coach Glenn Sherlock, first-base coach Dave McKay, third-base coach Matt Williams, pitching coach Mike Butcher, bullpen coach Garvin Alston and assistant hitting coach Mark Grace expire.
The new manager’s prerogative will determine the fate of these coaches.