With chief strategy officer Tony La Russa losing his hold on the Diamondbacks’ baseball department and Dave Stewart now out as general manager, the club is set for its fourth regime change in six-plus years. That lack of stability has some executives around the majors wary of working for the organization, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
“Do they give the next person a six-year contract and come hell or high water they’re not going to fire them?” one rival exec asked Piecoro. “Or have they demonstrated this is how they do business and if things don’t work out in 24 -36 months they’ll make more changes? Moving your family for that level of insecurity, juxtaposed to the security that some of us have — that’s a tough sell to the family.”
One potential GM candidate whose name has come up in other teams’ searches informed Piecoro his interest in taking over the Diamondbacks would be “zero” because of “some of the dysfunction up there.” Other executives Piecoro spoke to are also leery of the job, with some expressing concern over the personalities of owner Ken Kendrick and CEO Derrick Hall. The latter signed an eight-year contract extension in August, so any new hire(s) will have to coexist with him and Kendrick for the long haul. Despite that, Hall doesn’t expect the team to have difficulty finding executives willing to take the helm in Arizona.
In regards to GM jobs, Hall said Monday, “There’s only 30 of these. And they’re special jobs and there are a lot of qualified people out there who are looking for that opportunity. We’re hoping the next person is in that role for a long time and that will be expressed.”
Another rival executive backed Kendrick and Hall, saying, “Listen, you have to be skeptical with that amount of turnover. But absolutely, 100 percent, you can win there with those guys.”
In a move that could perhaps help scare off potential hires, Diamondbacks ownership reportedly blocked a trade that would have sent struggling right-hander Shelby Miller to Miami over the summer. Nevertheless, Hall is content with the organization’s decision-making structure.
“It’s very common with all 30 clubs, where if you’re going to have a large decision to make, a very big decision, an impactful decision, it’s going to go all the way up the flagpole and everybody is going to weigh in, whether it is the owner of any ballclub – the owner, president, GM, all opinions are going to be weighed at that time,” said Hall. “It’s a matter of allowing people to do their jobs but also weighing in when there’s a matter of extreme importance, which I think is not uncommon anywhere.”
Stewart didn’t speak negatively of either Kendrick or Hall after his dismissal. However, Stewart did reveal that he and Kendrick “were oil and water” in terms of their personalities. On whether the franchise was too quick to ax Stewart after hiring him in September 2014, Kendrick offered, “Since Dave Stewart was hired two years ago, there have been 16 general managers hired. Sixteeen. What does that tell you? It’s a tough business” (Twitter link via Piecoro).
Stewart’s successor could be someone with past Diamondbacks experience, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who points to Brewers scouting director Ray Montgomery as a “natural strong candidate” (Twitter link). The 47-year-old Montgomery was previously the D-backs’ scouting director from 2010-14.