Chip Hale Joins Bigs, Recognizes Faces


Posted Oct 18, 2006


Chip Hale has been waiting for his shot for years, and is finally getting it now. ALSO: Scouts jumping ship; Estrada still rumored to be moving; Veteran leadership at the top of the offseason shopping list; Arbitration and free agent lists.

INSIDE PITCH
The Pacific Coast League's Manager of the Year isn't coming back to Tucson after he led the Sidewinders to the PCL and Triple-A championships this season.
Chip Hale, who skippered Tucson for the past three seasons, will be added to the Diamondbacks' coaching staff under manager Bob Melvin. Exactly in which role Hale ends up remains to be seen, however.
Hale was pegged to take over as third base coach, with Carlos Tosca, who had help the position the past two years, scheduled to move into the bench coach role following the resignation of Jay Bell. But Tosca was offered the bench coach position in Florida and took it to join his old friend, Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Where does that leave Hale, who helped develop the likes of Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew and Chris Young? Melvin will either use Hale as third base coach or bench coach, depending on how interviews with other potential candidates play out.
Melvin was also looking for a new hitting coach, so two coaching spots are up for grabs. Mike Aldrete resigned after two seasons to spend more time with his wife and children.
Less than a week after Aldrete's decision was made public, Bell said he, too, would be stepping down for similar reasons, although he has struck a deal with the club to return next season in a part-time role as a special assistant to Melvin. That will likely include providing coaching help during spring training.

NOTES, QUOTES
--OF Eric Byrnes has become a media star during the postseason, having worked in studio as an analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight," as well as making regular appearances on Fox Sports' "Best Damn Sports Show Period," and being asked to provide commentary for the Fox network. He also hosted his own three-hour sports talk show in San Francisco on the Giants' flagship radio station, something he has done in the past.
--LF Luis Gonzalez, who has provided analysis work for Fox during the NL Championship Series, is set to become a free agent after spending eight seasons with the Diamondbacks. He has compiled a list of team for which he would like to play.
"We're looking to see where fits may be, but a lot of this comes down to who wants to call on him as well," said Terry Bross, one of Gonzalez's representatives. "Lou is going to have a definite market, but we'll let that market develop and unfold into what it's going to be before making a decision."
--3B Chad Tracy won't need surgery for a troublesome left knee injury, which he and manager Bob Melvin revealed late in the season had been bothering the player since spring training. An MRI revealed Tracy is suffering from tendinitis and will just need rest and some offseason therapy. He should be fine for the start of spring training next year.
--Scouts Bill Singer and Kris Kline left the organization to join former Arizona scouting director Mike Rizzo in Washington. When Rizzo became assistant GM for the Nationals, the team had an agreement that Rizzo could not entice any of the Diamondbacks' scouts to join him for at least a year, but Arizona relaxed that agreement because of the two scouts' closeness to Rizzo.
--Ed Durkin, the club's Eastern cross-checker, has been promoted to national cross-checker, a position that had belonged to Kendall Carter. Carter has been invited to remain in the organization, but was also free to pursue other opportunities.
BY THE NUMBERS: 372 -- At-bats by SS Craig Counsell. 209 -- At-bats by SS Stephen Drew.
.255 -- Batting average by Counsell. .316 -- Batting average by Drew.
14 -- Doubles by Counsell. 13 -- Doubles by Drew.
4 -- Triples by Counsell. 7 -- Triples by Drew.
4 -- Home runs by Counsell. 5 -- Home runs by Drew.
30 -- RBIs by Counsell. 23 -- RBIs by Drew.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We'll discuss that, but I don't know if there's anybody out there that can take the place of Luis Gonzalez, period. We have some people here that will be asked to help fill that void, guys like Brandon Webb, Chad Tracy, Eric Byrnes and Orlando Hudson, who really stepped it up in a leadership role and in a role we didn't really expect coming in here and not really knowing him." -- Manager Bob Melvin on the Diamondbacks' pursuit of potential veteran leadership following the departures of Luis Gonzalez and, most likely, Craig Counsell.

ROSTER REPORT
The Diamondbacks enter the offseason with a couple key objectives, which include finding a top-end starter to complement ace Brandon Webb and veteran Livan Hernandez, and deciding if they need to invest in a quality cleanup hitter or trust a fairly capable lineup without a proven slugger. If they decide they need both, the moves likely would occur through trades, not free agency.
BIGGEST NEEDS: Arizona has the defense, but it doesn't have the starting pitching to lead a group of mostly young position players and a bullpen that remains slim on postseason experience. With Miguel Batista probably leaving through free agency, there isn't a difference-maker among the rest of the candidates, and the Diamondbacks may have to part with some of their better prospects to fill this need. Webb and Hernandez aren't enough. Not nearly.
FREE AGENTS: LF Luis Gonzalez, INF Craig Counsell, UT Damion Easley, RHP Miguel Batista.
Gonzalez was told on Sept. 15 that his $10 million club option was not going to be picked up and the team had no plans for him next season, but he wants to be an everyday player and hopes to sign with a team in the NL West, potentially the Padres. There is interest in bringing back Counsell, but only for a super utility role, as shortstop and second base will be occupied by Stephen Drew and Orlando Hudson, respectively. Counsell has said he probably will pass on the offer and try to sign elsewhere if there's a chance to play every day. Easley likely will return in the role he played this year, as a bat off the bench and a player who can make starts at shortstop, third base and right field. Batista and his representatives have had preliminary talks with the club about returning, but it is thought he will sign elsewhere for more money, with the Mets possibly being an option.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: 2B Orlando Hudson, C Johnny Estrada, OF Eric Byrnes, RHP Luis Vizcaino, RHP Claudio Vargas, RHP Juan Cruz, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Jorge Julio.
Hudson likely will receive a multiyear extension after basically having the best season of anyone on the club. He's in the hunt for his second consecutive Gold Glove Award. Estrada is gone. He will be traded despite a stellar offensive season that saw him hit .302 with a career-high 11 home runs and finish with 71 RBIs. He has too many enemies on the club. Byrnes will be replacing stalwart Gonzalez in left field and is also eyeing a multi-year extension. The only pitchers who could be out of the loop are Cruz and Julio. Cruz is certain to gather interest from several clubs, but Julio has fallen off the radar some because of his wildness.
IN LIMBO: Estrada, Vargas, Cruz and Julio can't be sure of their futures, and ditto with left field prospect Scott Hairston, who has seen a job open in left field with the departure of Gonzalez, only to learn it will given to Byrnes. Estrada's situation is sure to be solved in the form of a trade, and he's already stated he would like to moved to Philadelphia, if possible. If not, destinations could include San Diego, if Mike Piazza doesn't re-sign, and perhaps San Francisco, which is near where Estrada was raised.
PROSPECT WATCH: CF Chris Young didn't get as many at-bats or starting assignments as some of the other youngsters among the position players, but the Diamondbacks have seen enough to know he can handle the job in center next year. He rates out on the plus side of every aspect of his game, and he could mature into a power hitter as well as speed burner with top-notch defensive skills. C Miguel Montero is thought of so highly in the organization, the club is willing to part with switch-hitting starting C Johnny Estrada, who was among the team leaders in RBIs. Montero was a September call-up and made several starts down the stretch. It looks as if he will be the man in 2007, with Chris Snyder helping provide a 1-2 punch. RF Carlos Quentin was promoted in July, and it wasn't long before the Diamondbacks agreed they would be better served trading Shawn Green away -- he went to the Mets -- to open up daily playing time for the rookie, who experienced his share of highs and lows during the second half.
MEDICAL WATCH:
1B Tony Clark, who had right shoulder surgery, should be fine by the time the team reports to spring training. He has one more year left on his contract.
OF Jeff DaVanon underwent surgery to repair a left ankle injury, and he will be ready in time for spring training. He has a player option to return to the club in 2007, and has indicated he plans to exercise it. He also had a cyst removed from his right shoulder late in the season.
 



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