D-backs Begin Gibson/Dipoto Era with a Win

D-backs Begin Gibson/Dipoto Era with a Win

The Arizona Diamondbacks looked like a different team in a 12-5 victory over the Dodgers on Friday. Of course, they were a different team, with interim general manager Jerry Dipoto taking over for Josh Byrnes and interim manager Kirk Gibson assuming the duties of A.J. Hinch.

The Diamondbacks have admitted their mistakes in the past, ranging from the big contracts that blew up in their face such as the signings of pitcher Russ Ortiz and outfielder Eric Byrnes, and they usually have always agreed to cut their losses and move on.

That's exactly what they did in firing general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch, agreeing that their hiring proved to be a costly mistake that will cost them north of $7 million.

Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick said he began an evaluation process on the entire team about six weeks ago, along with club president Derrick Hall and that although there were several factors in Arizona stumbling to a 31-48 mark, changes had to be made.

In the end, Kendrick said, "we didn't win enough games."

"There were a variety of things that weren't working," he added. "The bullpen is the obvious one, a team that, at the present, doesn't do the little things that good baseball teams do, the propensity to have strikeouts at levels that are certainly for us unprecedented with a number of our players.

"We need to look at the players, too. They need to take some responsibility for their part in this. And our farm system is a less talented part of our organization now than we'd like it to be."

Jerry Dipoto, the club's vice president of player personnel, will take over for Byrnes as interim GM. Bench coach Kirk Gibson will replace Hinch as interim manager.

"It wasn't all his fault, for sure," catcher Miguel Montero said of Hinch, "but we were losing a lot of games. Gibby's a great dude and he's going to be a great manager. I think he's going to help us. He's got that winning mentality."

Hall said Dipoto, who worked with Byrnes in the Red Sox' organization before joining him in Arizona, will call most of the shots the rest of the way as it relates to the Diamondbacks' roster and the upcoming trading deadline.

"He'll have a very big voice," Hall said. "We're going to rely on him and his judgment and we'll all make decision together, yet he is interim general manager and it really comes down to him."

Kendrick and Hall each indicated this won't be a rebuilding project wrought with massive player movement. Hall even said, "We don't necessarily need to make moves right now."

"The players will be the first to tell you that they have underperformed. But we don't want to blow this up. This isn't a complete makeover. We've had to tweak here and there and we'll see if we respond differently."

Dipoto and Gibson during Friday's press conference

DIAMONDBACKS 12, DODGERS 5: Chris Young had three hits and tied a career-high with five RBI in helping the Diamondbacks rip the Dodgers and give interim manager Kirk Gibson his first win in his debut as Arizona's skipper. Gibson moved Young into the leadoff spot for Friday's game and the moved paid off. Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson, getting an extra two days rest after throwing a 149-pitch no-hitter with eight walks against Tampa Bay, labored through five innings but picked up the win to improve to 6-6. He allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings of work, walking three batters and striking out four in an 88-pitch effort. Gibson, who vowed to bring a workmanlike effort to the team upon replacing the fired A.J. Hinch, called his first managerial win "euphoric."


--Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall acknowledged he had "stylistic differences" with former GM Josh Byrnes but added that wasn't the biggest factor in Byrnes being dismissed. "We expect more and we want more. I personally like Josh a great deal." As for assertions that former manager A.J. Hinch had lost control of the clubhouse and players we no longer responding to him, Hall said, "A.J.'s the first to admit that. I think A.J.'s been extremely accountable through this whole process and professional and handled it as well as he could. But I don't think anybody was pulling for A.J. from the beginning, either. Unfortunately for him, everyone wanted him to fail and that's a very tough position to be in."

--Interim manager Kirk Gibson said he has several changes in mind, starting with giving his players "a better understanding of what it takes to win ballgames." Gibson wants the Diamondbacks to play with more of an edge and have more accountability as a whole. "I probably shouldn't say this," Gibson said, "but we've got a lot of real good ballplayers but (we) don't win ballgames. I'd rather have a lot of bad ballplayers that win ballgames. That's kind of what I'm looking forward to doing."

--The biggest factor that doomed GM Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch was the Diamondbacks' atrocious bullpen, which has had the worst ERA in the majors at nearly 7.00. "If you just had the results out of the bullpen that were just normal, we wouldn't be sitting here today probably," Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick said. "But that wasn't to be. Do you hold the manager accountable? Yes, he has to take responsibility. He is the leader."

--SS Stephen Drew didn't start Friday's game in Kirk Gibson's managerial debut because Gibson said he wants Drew to make sure the player's sore left knee doesn't get worse. Drew could be out of the lineup for more games if it warrants, Gibson said.

--The Diamondbacks went without an official bench coach Friday, bringing longtime bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock into the dugout and letting bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas handle the bullpen phone. Interim GM Jerry Dipoto said a new bench coach will be in place for Saturday's game. It could be first base coach Matt  Williams or third base coach Bo Porter with a new coach coming in to take their old job or it could be a new face entirely, either from within or outside the organization.

--Kirk Gibson becomes the fifth former Most Valuable Player to be named a major league manager, joining Don Baylor (MVP in 1979, Rockies in 1993), Pete Rose (MVP in 1973, Reds in 1984), Joe Torre (MVP in 1971, Mets in 1977), and Frank Robinson (MVP in 1961 and 1966, Indians in 1975).

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