Underperforming players facing ax - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Underperforming players facing ax

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Posted: Saturday, May 9, 2009 5:47 pm | Updated: 2:59 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Scott Bordow: A few leftover thoughts on the Diamondbacks' firing of manager Bob Melvin and hiring of A.J. Hinch: Fair or not, Hinch is going to have to prove to the players that he's not under the thumb of general manager Josh Byrnes.

Bordow: Fancy words don't explain D-Backs' odd move

Melvin not bitter after firing

A few leftover thoughts on the Diamondbacks' firing of manager Bob Melvin and hiring of A.J. Hinch:

Fair or not, Hinch is going to have to prove to the players that he's not under the thumb of general manager Josh Byrnes. Fancy phrases like "organizational advocacy" don't fly in the clubhouse. Diamondbacks players have to believe Hinch has enough independence to fill out the lineup card and decide who plays day in and day out.

Bordow: Fancy words don't explain D-Backs' odd move

Melvin not bitter after firing

If they suspect those decisions are being made from above, they'll lose any respect they have for Hinch and he'll have zero chance of winning over the clubhouse.

Does Byrnes have the right to talk to Hinch about that day's lineup and even make suggestions? Absolutely. He's the boss. But in the end, those have to be Hinch's calls to make, and Byrnes must respect those decisions.

The discord between Byrnes and Melvin is reminiscent of the issues that divided Steve Kerr and Mike D'Antoni.

Melvin believed the team was his to manage, and he bristled when Byrnes stepped further into his territory. One example: Byrnes wanted more playing time for backup catcher Miguel Montero. Melvin was a Chris Snyder man.

Melvin wasn't nearly as upset as D'Antoni was about having his judgments questioned, but it did create some enmity between the two men.

Had Brandon Webb stayed healthy, Melvin probably wouldn't have lost his job.

At this point last year, Webb was 8-0. Let's be conservative and give Webb a 5-3 record this season. Those five additional wins would make Arizona 17-13. Even if Byrnes did question Melvin's lineups or the "vibe" he was giving off, he wouldn't have fired him with team off to a solid start.

Speaking of that "vibe," I still wonder what Byrnes was specifically talking about. Was Melvin a rah-rah type? No. Did his body language or actions suggest he had stopped believing in this team? Not that I could see.

There's no question Melvin was frustrated about the team's lack of timely hitting, and there were probably numerous nights when he went home a weary and beaten man. But losing will do that to you. Let's see how Hinch responds when the Diamondbacks repeatedly fail to do the little things right at the plate.

The Diamondbacks have now gone through two hitting coaches and a manager in an attempt to wake up their offense. Since Byrnes' contract runs through 2015, and Hinch is signed through the 2012 season, the players will be the next ones to go.

Don't be surprised if Chad Tracy finds himself on the trading block. Or if Chris Young is sent down to the minor leagues to get right. Looking into the future, if Arizona plays the rest of this season as it did the first five weeks, there could be massive changes come winter.

The Diamondbacks' young kids aren't rookies any more. At some point, they should be the ones taking the hits rather than the coaches or managers.

The bottom line: Melvin no longer was Byrnes' guy, and when the Diamondbacks stumbled out of the gate, Byrnes decided to hire someone he felt more compatible with. It's a huge gamble, so perhaps Byrnes should have echoed Kerr's words upon the acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal:

"If it works, I'm a genius. If it doesn't, I'm a moron."

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