Thursday, May 7, 2009

Diamondbacks Fire Melvin; Name Hinch New Manager

Bob Melvin has become the first managerial casualty of the 2009 season. The Arizona Diamondbacks fired Melvin after an extra inning loss to the San Diego Padres this afternoon.

Melvin had managed the D'Backs since 2005. Previously, he had managed the Seattle Mariners in 2003 and 2004. Melvin guided them to the NL West Division crown in 2007. The D'Backs got off to a 21-9 start in 2008 but faded and finished the season with an 82-80 record as the Los Angeles Dodgers eclipsed them to win the NL West.

The Diamondbacks were expected to contend this season. Indeed, I picked them to win the NL Wild Card. However, the D'Backs are 12-17 and in a tie for last place in the NL West with the Colorado Rockies. Sure, it doesn't help that their ace Brandon Webb is hurt. On the other hand, the D'Backs offense struggled last season and continues to struggle this season. Eric Byrnes, Conor Jackson and Chris Young are all hitting under .200. As a team, the D'Backs .225 batting average is the worst in the NL. Consequently, hitting coach Rick Schu was also dismissed. Pitching coach Bryan Price also resigned.

The D'Backs will announce A.J. Hinch as Melvin's replacement becoming the fourth manager in franchise history. At 34, Hinch will be the youngest manager in MLB. Hinch, like Melvin, was a backup catcher. He played in the majors between 1998 and 2004 with the Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. In 2006, Hinch joined the D'Backs front office as their director of minor league operations. So he knows the organization thoroughly. As someone who was a player not so long ago perhaps Hinch can relate to his young team in a way that Melvin couldn't.

With Manny's suspension in Dodger blue the battle for the NL West starts anew.

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