The Diamondbacks have announced that they’ve fired GM Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale. There was no immediate word on whether the Snakes intended to retain chief baseball officer Tony La Russa. “We are still discussing what the appropriate role for Tony La Russa will be going forward,” Kendrick said in a statement.
The decision on Stewart comes as little surprise, as it had previously been reported that owner Ken Kendrick was slated to meet with La Russa today to discuss the statuses of both Stewart and La Russa, both of which seemed to be in jeopardy. Hale’s departure, meanwhile, will allow Stewart’s successor to be involved in choosing a replacement.
The Diamondbacks hired Stewart in September 2014, so his tenure with the team was very short for a GM. During that time, however, the team’s front office made a number of questionable moves, chief among them the trade that sent 2015 first overall pick Dansby Swanson, along with outfielder Ender Inciarte and pitcher Aaron Blair, to Atlanta for starter Shelby Miller and minor leaguer Gabe Speier. Miller has struggled terribly thus far in Arizona, posting a 6.15 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 101 Major League innings in 2016. Swanson, meanwhile, made it all the way to the big leagues in just his second pro season and played well, batting .302/.361/.442 down the stretch for the Braves.
Perhaps just as important as the actual result of the deal was the view of player valuation it represented. Swanson alone would been a very steep price to pay for Miller, since Swanson was a premium prospect who had done nothing to sully his status as a former top overall pick. Stewart’s approach was also widely questioned earlier in his tenure after a less consequential deal in which he traded Bronson Arroyo and another former first-round pick, Touki Toussaint, to Atlanta for Phil Gosselin in a deal designed to clear about $10MM in Arroyo’s salary from the Diamondbacks’ books.
The Diamondbacks hoped to position themselves as contenders for 2016, not only acquiring Miller but also signing Zack Greinke to a massive $206.5MM deal. Greinke was serviceable but underwhelming for Arizona, posting a 4.37 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in his first season there. The Diamondbacks also suffered a number of other setbacks (beginning with a costly injury to star outfielder A.J. Pollock) and they won just 69 games, miles below expectation. (Stewart himself had gone so far as to say preseason projections that the team would win 78 or 79 games were “a joke.”)
Earlier in his tenure, Stewart’s Diamondbacks also signed Yasmany Tomas to a $68.5MM deal that, so far, has led to underwhelming results. The 25-year-old Tomas did bat .272/.313/.508 this season, but struggled so much defensively that his value was limited. For his career in the big leagues, Tomas has -1.2 fWAR.
Not all of Stewart’s moves have been unsuccessful. He acquired shortstop Jean Segura in a swap that has worked out well so far, and his trade for Robbie Ray has also mostly been a success. On balance, though, his decisions have arguably left the organization in worse shape than when he took office. While others share significant responsibility for some of those moves — the Greinke signing, in particular — there are many questions with the organization’s direction.
The process, even more than the decisions themselves, has come under fire since La Russa took command and hired Stewart. Arizona took a notably different approach from the get-go, but increasingly it seemed that the unique operating philosophy was not only potentially problematic in its own right, but also came with other concerns. ESPN.com’s Keith Law detailed a long list of missteps, some of which reflected an apparent failure to grasp rules and contemporary valuation principles. That includes the mismanagement of draft and international funds, such as the bonus pool-busting signing of Yoan Lopez — which cost Arizona a chance to acquire other talent to add a prospect who outside observers aren’t terribly fond of.
Now that change is afoot, a new dugout chief will also be sought — presumably, after the baseball ops department is sorted out. Hale, after all, was the hand-chosen skipper of La Russa and Stewart, though they may not have ended up being supporters. Reports suggested that Arizona’s ownership group intervened to prevent La Russa and Stewart from sending the now-former skipper out of town earlier this summer.
That proved only to be a temporary hold, though, and Hale will wrap up his first stint in charge of a dugout after a rough 2016 campaign. His original contract only promised two years — both of which are now in the books with a 148-176 overall record — but also included an option year. The organization exercised that provision at the outset of spring camp this year, so Hale will be entitled the guaranteed money.
It isn’t immediately clear what led to Hale’s dismissal beyond the fact that it affords a clean slate. But whatever the particular internal considerations were in this case, it’s not often that a manager survives the kind of season that the D-Backs just wrapped up — in which sky-high expectations (whether or not they were reasonable) went entirely unmet.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
two down two to go (1) Hall (2) LaRussa
And the true cancer is still left in larussa
Not a fan of the job he did, but it send like you should give your brass more than two seasons to develop and enact a plan for your franchise… especially with what was inherited.
The scary thing is is that segura, lamb and to a lesser extent Castillo and Hermann had career seasons and they were still this awful
Their second best player, Pollock, missed virtually entire year. Their major FA acquisition, Greinke, had an expected dropoff year after his nearly unsustainable year with the Dodgers. Corbin is still working his way back to his pre-TJ form. And the less said about Miller, the better it is for Snakes fans, lol. Even Goldschmidt had just so-so year by his standards. Add all those up, and what you get is forgettable year for the Snakes.
Completely forgot about pollock and that’s at least 4.5 WAR that they lost, but I still think this would’ve been a sinking ship, regardless if he was around. They need greinke and Miller to perform to their career norms next year or they’ll be screwed
the other side of that, though, is that if Stewart hadn’t made that wretchedly awful Shelby Miller trade, they could have replaced Pollock with Inciarte…
True cancer is ownership. What a disaster. Thankfully also applies to Colorado and San Diego. Works to LAD advantage, only have to worry about the Giants every year.
Just Another Fan
This is very true. In all of MLB I dislike the way all 3 of those teams are run the most. They are all just clueless about build a contender. Doesn’t help that LAD+SFG are extremely good at it so it makes them all look probably worse than they are, but make no mistake, those 3 teams front officers and owners are garbage at their jobs.
Has LaRussa announced whether or not he is going to resign?
Dookie Howser, MD
Still waiting, but he alluded to it. That can be legally binding, right? RIGHT?!
Hale gets fired but LaRussa is still with the team smh
Bring hale back to oakland
Just Another Fan
If Washington leaves for the Braves job!
I bet they’re gonna hire Weiss as a manager, he stepped down today too and he played for LaRussa in Oakland and knows the NL Western division really good.. if they keep TLR that would be a real possibility..
There is no way Stewart made the deal for Miller or signed Greinke without the blessing of La Russa. If they are going to use those moves as the reason then both men should be gone.
There’s no way the Greinke signing happens without ownership being heavily involved.
Well deserved I must say. If Miller had turned in another 200+ IP sub-4 ERA season, my opinion of that trade would remain exactly the same. They just gave up too much. That package should have been enough (or at least come close) for Chris Sale. And while I feel Miller is better than he pitched this year, he’s no Chris Sale.
Now why is TLR still there? If they don’t get rid of him too the D’Backs future will be the same situation just different faces.
Shocking. Because Dave Stewart was such a great GM. He made some really good trades and signings. He also shared some of his modern, forward-thinking ideas about baseball in 2016. It’s a total shock that this man is not a GM anywhere right now. (lol)
Sad day in Braves Country. Our pipeline has been severed. 🙁
LMAO. But Braves now have plenty of high ceiling prospects in their farm system so they should be fine for a while.
Still have the pipeline the two big morons are still there
Just Another Fan
Yeah not getting another teams top 5 draft picks in addition to your own every year, that’s gotta sting!
Matt Williams would be an easy replacement for coach.
Unfortunately, Larussa is part of an old school mentality that baseball is slowly turning away from. I’m not saying it’s a bad mentality, just one that has gone away quickly from competing teams. They need a young energetic known name.
Signed in Toronto
they’d probably let him take the promotion if the Dbacks offered it to him
Having La Russa in the dugout would be WAY different than having him up in the FO building a team.
yeah, then he’d just not play the hot young prospects the newschool GM collects for him….
Just Another Fan
Honestly, he shouldn’t be doing either. He needs to retire.
LaRussa is a cry baby that complains about everything. Time to retire and complain to the nurses that clean his bed pan
They have candidates in mind but need to wait for Yale to finish midterms to start interviewing. One step closer to the extinction of the ex-player as GM.
I don’t think it’s the end of ex-players as GMs. Baseball is just at a transition point where the people with enough experience as players and possibly managers to be considered for GMs largely missed the boat on the sabermetric revolution. Once a bit more time passes and some of the current players and managers move on, we’ll see them in front offices.
That’s funny and true. It’s a nice little Ivy League clique in baseball front offices these days. They just rotate around the league. Similar to rotating CEOs in business. Doesn’t matter if you know the subject matter, you know somebody’s fraternity brother.
Well, they are also successful, so there’s that. Baseball is a business, and therefore needs to be run by sound economic principles. Read Dave Stewart’s mind-boggling defense of trading Tooki Toussaint sometime.
Is Sheldon Cooper available?
As a Dodger fan, I am very sad about this news.
As Meat Loaf sang, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” However, in this case three would be great. LaRussa needs to go too.
Wow. I never saw this coming.
Too bad….I was hoping to see 3 or 4 more years of disastrous moves by this incompetent group
Just Another Fan
This is either a way to further illustrate the continued ineptitude of AZ’s FO or severe under-reporting by a lot of people.:
According all sources, AZ still haven’t talked to the Yankees about the PTBNL in the July 31, 2014 trade of Martin Prado for Peter O’Brien. Looking on the baseball-reference pages for both players shows this trade still open. It would not surprise me if AZ just plain forgot about it.
Any PTBNL must be completed within 6 months of the trade.
It was presumably such a minor PTBNL that it barely scratched the surface.
And, boy, is O’Brien terrible or what?
You hear that noise, its the joyous cry of thousands of Diamondbacks fans who have heard Christmas has come early.
Stewart: “I’ve been through the desert on a team with no game, it felt good to be out of the rain. In the desert, you can’t remember your trades…”
I gotta give you props for an obscure reference.
Tommy…. the Nightmare… Smith!
On the dust…
Why did they pick up Hale’s option before they had to? Fear of lame duck?
The problem was not Steward… the problem is the ownership ….
The problem was ownership hiring Stewart.
It’s about time. Now the Diamondbacks just need to put La Russa on the chopping block.
They need to go down the street and get Ned Colletti, he helped build up SF and won in LA
This administration might go down as one of the worst ever in the history of baseball.
Tony La Russa invented baseball or so he believes.
Get someone with baseball ops experience. That will bring good, talented people with him.
Exactly, someone with a track record and not another 22 yr old Frat Rat
There were several horrific deals that were directly attributed to Dave Stewart in his time as AGM in Toronto. Joey Hamilton was his crown jewel. After watching his lack of skill evaluating players Toronto took a pass on him when picking a new GM. He then threw a public tantrum and pulled the race card.