MLB: AZ Diamondbacks look to 2014
Now that the Arizona Diamondbacks are out of playoff contention this season, it is time for the organization to start thinking about what should be done for the long term success of this team. They will need to take a look at players, coaches, as well as manager, Kirk Gibson and even GM, Kevin Towers.
When you look at the 2013 season, the overall failure comes down to talent on the field. They simply did not have enough talent to compete for the NL West title or even a Wildcard spot. Does that fall directly on Kevin Towers? He constructed this team and he appears to have missed on his evaluations on some of the guys he signed.
Should the organization continue with Kirk Gibson as manager of the Diamondbacks? Gibson won the National League Manager of the Year award just two years ago, but since then the Diamondbacks’ have played just .500 baseball under his management. Certainly not what the organization wanted since capturing the NL West title in 2011. Gibson does deserve some credit for the subpar play of the team. Though he brought a no “nonsense” attitude to the organization; and he seemed to get the most potential out of his players; he has also made some questionable decisions.
The front office has been saying all of the right things lately in their observation of this disappointing season. But it makes you wonder if these last 13 games might be the last Diamondbacks games managed by Gibson.
I believe both Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers will be given another season to turn things around; but they will face an up-hill challenge in trying to keep up with the money spending Los Angeles Dodgers. Gibson will need to improve on sitting veteran players when they are not playing well both on the field and at the plate. He will also need to construct a better lineup that maximizes the best chance to get runs across home plate; something that was seriously lacking this season.
Towers will be asked to re-evaluate the players he signed to long term deals and once again re-build the bullpen. He will also be asked to find a power hitter that does not break the organizations bank and find another quality starter.
The coaches will be evaluated and we could see some changes there as well. The most likely changes will be to replace pitching Coach Charles Nagy, or hitting Coach Don Baylor or possibly both. Matt Williams needs to be moved off coaching third base as well. Gibson could get help with that move. Williams will be a candidate for a manager’s job with another organization. There could be at least six openings after the season concludes. Last year Williams interviewed in Cleveland and Colorado. It is almost certain that the Washington Nationals will interview him, as Davey Johnson retires after this season.
Don Baylor, the hitting coach, was the “unsung” leader in 2011. He brought in a different hitting style and the players bought into it. He showed them discipline on waiting for good pitches that led to some players having their best year.
Since that magical season the team has struggled with runners in scoring position, strikeouts are up and the discipline at the plate has gone by the way side.
Pitching Coach Charles Nagy is the other likely one to be replaced. The pitching staff has taken a step back. A starter not getting past the 5th or 6th inning was a common trend this year. The bullpen, yes, was overworked, but never found the consistency of holding leads for the starters and blowing saves on a regular basis. The team ERA is about the same as last year. In 2013 it is 3.80 and last year it was 3.99, but they have given up more homeruns, RBI and the strikeouts on the opposing batters are down.
Another coach to look at is Steve Sax. He replaced Eric Young for the 2013 season due to poor base running by the 2012 team. Sax did not bring any improvement. The team had 93 stolen bases last year and with 13 games to go this year’s team has only 59.
Gibson may not agree to go along with any changes and most certainly will ask that all coaches be retained. If the front office allows that, you can be assured that this situation will be watched closely in 2014.
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