It had become increasingly evident throughout a disappointing Diamondbacks season that some changes were going to be made.
The D’Backs fired both manager Chip Hale and general manager Dave Stewart on Monday following the team’s 69-93 record and fourth-place finish in the National League West. It came two weeks after the club informed vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson that his contract wouldn’t be renewed. Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa’s future with the club is still being evaluated, although whoever the new GM is will reportedly be in charge of baseball operations.
"We are very grateful to Dave and Chip, who are widely respected throughout the game of baseball," said Kendrick. "Ultimately, the results have not been what we had hoped and while that responsibility is shared by all of us, we have decided that a change is necessary. We are still discussing what the appropriate role for Tony La Russa will be going forward."
The Diamondbacks went 148-176 in Hale’s two seasons at the helm. Most don’t place the bulk of the blame at his feet, though. That’s gone to Stewart, who has drawn heavy criticism for moves he’s made, highlighted by the disastrous trade that sent Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair to the Braves for Shelby Miller. Stewart and La Russa have also caught flak for reportedly not knowing fundamental transactional rules, particularly when relating to the international bonus pool and the draft.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports says that La Russa met with Kendrick for three hours Monday and La Russa is still deciding whether to stay with the club in what would be a reduced role. It’s probably best for both sides to move on at this point, especially with president Derrick Hall saying the club will put a bigger emphasis on analytics moving forward. La Russa, of course, is known more as a scouting-based, “old school” type. The Hall of Fame manager also said himself recently that it would be hard to envision staying with the Diamondbacks if Stewart was let go.
The D’Backs have a decent collection of talent. A full, healthy season from A.J. Pollock and improvement from Zack Greinke and Miller, among others, could potentially make them a playoff contender in 2017. They should also experience improvement from their front office by default.
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The Diamondbacks aren’t the only NL West team that’s in the market for a new manager.
Rockies skipper Walt Weiss resigned on Monday in a move that didn’t come as a surprise. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reported over the weekend that the relationship between Weiss and general manager Jeff Bridich had become “strained,” and the two essentially confirmed as much on Monday.
"I just felt like the working relationship between [myself] and Jeff wasn't a cohesive one or a productive one; that's the bottom line," said Weiss. "It was just best for everybody."
Bridich concurred that it was best for both sides to go their separate ways.
"I would agree with Walt that it was time to move on, and I think over the course of two years with he as manager and me as the GM, we put in a lot of work to try to make the relationship work," said Bridich. "I'm proud of that -- that we committed to each other moving forward. It could've been different when changes were made in the front office two years ago."
There’s been some speculation that Triple-A Albuquerque manager Glenallen Hill could take over for Weiss. Bridich is going into the final year of his contract, so hiring an internal candidate might make sense from his perspective. However, the GM promised that both "internal and external" candidates will be considered.
The White Sox also officially announced their managerial change Monday, as departed skipper Robin Ventura will be replaced by his former bench coach, Rick Renteria. The White Sox didn’t hold an open search for Ventura’s replacement, which reflects their confidence in Renteria.
"First, we were pretty confident, very confident, that as [many] qualified candidates as there may be out there in the game, we certainly weren't going to find anyone we'd feel any better about in terms of his leadership ability, his experience, his communication skills, work ethic open-mindedness and creativity," general manager Rick Hahn said.
Renteria managed the Cubs during the 2014 season, leading them to a 73-89 record. The feeling is that he did a solid job, but when Joe Maddon became available, the Cubs decided to jump at the opportunity. Renteria becomes the lone Latino manager in the majors.
Wild Card Game Starters Named
We (unfortunately) didn’t have any baseball on Monday, but it will be back Tuesday and we now know who will start the American League Wild Card Game between the Orioles and Blue Jays.
Taking the ball for the Orioles will be Chris Tillman. The club’s Opening Day starter, Tillman put up a nice 3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 140/66 K/BB ratio over 172 innings this season. Things weren’t so great for him down the stretch, though. He battled a shoulder ailment that cost him three weeks of action and was hit-or-miss in four September outings after his return.
Tillman did hold the Blue Jays to two runs – one earned – over 5 2/3 frames last week at Rogers Centre in his final start of the regular season. Regardless, it’s obviously going to be a very difficult matchup against a stout Toronto lineup in what promises to be a very rowdy environment.
Toeing the slab for the Blue Jays will be Marcus Stroman. The 25-year-old had an up-and-down season for the Jays, but he did pitch his best ball down the stretch with a 3.28 ERA and nearly a strikeout per frame from August on. Stroman posted a 4.19 ERA and 10/4 K/BB ratio over 19 1/3 innings across three postseason outings for Toronto last season.
Giants ace and 2014 postseason monster Madison Bumgarner will take the ball at Citi Field Wednesday for San Francisco. The left-hander is coming off arguably the best season of his career, having held a 2.74 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 251/54 K/BB ratio over 226 2/3 innings.
The last time we saw Bumgarner pitching in the postseason, of course, he was closing out the Royals in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series with five shutout relief innings on two days’ rest. MadBum also pitched a road Wild Card Game that year, too, striking out 10 in a shutout of the Pirates.
Noah Syndergaard will be the Mets’ starter. Thor’s first full season in the majors was a brilliant one, as he posted a 2.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 218/43 K/BB ratio across 183 2/3 innings.
Syndergaard was diagnosed with a bone spur in his pitching elbow back in June, but he’s been excellent in the second half with a 2.65 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 90/25 K/BB ratio over 78 innings. The big right-hander last faced the Giants on August 21 and shut them out over eight frames, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out six.
Quick Hits: Rick Porcello will square off against Trevor Bauer in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday. David Price and Corey Kluber will be the starters in Game 2 … Clayton Kershaw will face Max Scherzer in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. It will be Rich Hill versus Gio Gonzalez in Game 2 … The Twins on Monday officially hired Derek Falvy as their new vice president and chief baseball officer ... Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Marlins have fired hitting coach Barry Bonds … The Braves will interview former Padres manager and former Rangers skipper Ron Washington for their managerial vacancy. Interim manager Brian Snitker is also viewed as a strong candidate for the job … Adam Liberatore will undergo a left elbow debridement on Tuesday. He’s expected to be ready for the start of next season …