|Quick! Make a move while everyone is distracted!
The Diamondbacks have fired Bob Melvin and are bringing in A.J. Hinch:
The Arizona Diamondbacks will name farm director A.J. Hinch to replace Bob Melvin as manager on Friday, a baseball source said.
Melvin was informed of his dismissal Thursday night when he returned to Chase Field from San Diego, where the D-backs lost, 4-3, in 10 innings, though word that it was imminent began to surface Thursday morning.
"Bob has done great things for this organization," GM Josh Byrnes said in a statement. "Having worked with him for nearly four years, I have a great deal of respect for his character and skills. This is a difficult decision, but I feel that our organization needs to move forward with a new voice. I am grateful for all the success and memories associated with Bob."
Nothing like a team hiring a guy younger than you as manager -- especially one you remember as a young prospect -- to make you feel old.
Ken Rosenthal notes that it's a "strange hire." I take issue with Rosenthal's statement that this "smacks of the Billy Beane 'we can put any yo-yo in there' approach to hiring a manager," because such a statement ignores the fact that Ken Macha and Art Howe are not, in my view, yo-yos, but I do agree with the overall assessment that Hinch is an odd choice. Setting aside the fact that he has zero in the way of coaching or managing experience, as farm director, Hinch seemed to be on top of a pyramid developing a lot of good young talent in Arizona, and that's the kind of juju with which one doesn't usually mess. And, as Rosenthal notes, Brett Butler is trained and ready to go down on the farm. The neat thing about baseball, though, is that we'll get to find out if it was a bad move starting tonight and should have our answer within a couple of months.
Regardless of who the replacement is, it does seem like the move was a necessary one. The Diamondbacks have greatly undershot expectations so far, and with all of that business in Los Angeles, making the change now makes all kinds of sense. For one thing the media will pay this less attention than it normally would. For another, it gives the team something of a fresh start at the exact moment when the competition has been momentarily stunned. I don't believe such psychological considerations play a huge role in wins and losses, but I suspect there's at least something to it.
Now, let's all sit back and see how a guy who spent all but four games of his baseball career in the DH league and has no other coaching experience handles his first double switch . . .