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Tag:A.J. Hinch
Posted on: September 22, 2010 3:12 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2010 5:37 pm
 

Towers, others know where bones buried in West

Welcome to the start of Frontier Days in the NL West.

Everything is set but a Duel from 50 paces.

Arizona has hired Kevin Towers to fill the job for which it turned him down for five years ago.

And as the Diamondbacks general manager, Towers now will take direct aim at the man who fired him in San Diego last October ... and the man who was running the Diamondbacks back in 2005 and declined to hire Towers then: Jeff Moorad.

Survivor?

Let's see some network reality show beat this.

Nothing fuels rivalries more than when they're personal. And if guys privately wanting to gouge out other guys' eyeballs qualifies as personal, well, this has become the NL Wild, Wild West and the next couple of years could be incredibly bloody, er, juicy.

Start with Towers, who is still stung by the sudden end of his 14-year run in San Diego as the most successful GM in Padres history. And as this year's club of overachieving Padres built largely by Towers has contended for the NL West title, the wound remains raw.

Move next to Moorad who, as vice-chairman and chief executive officer of the Padres since January, 2009, continues to own a share of the Diamondbacks.

Sound funny, a guy who will be majority owner of the Padres who still owns a piece of the Diamondbacks? It should. Baseball rules preclude it, which is why Moorad has been working toward divesting his shares of the Arizona club.

Except, privately, according to sources, Moorad and the Diamondbacks have been unable to agree on a price for his shares. Moorad values his piece of the Diamondbacks much higher than Arizona owner Ken Kendrick and Co. think it is worth. The dispute has moved to the Commissioner's Office, and the stalemate continues.

Given the antipathy between Kendrick and Towers and Moorad, we probably won't even have to wait for the 2011 season to start before the two sides go at it. Do not be surprised if Towers raids the Padres and recruits some of his former colleagues as he builds his staff in the desert.

Meantime ... Moorad and the Padres this month hired A.J. Hinch as vice-president and director of pro scouting. Hinch was fired as the Diamondbacks manager on July 2, barely more than one year after he was named as manager to replace the fired Bob Melvin in Arizona by ... Moorad and Co. Specifically, by then-GM Josh Byrnes, whom Moorad picked over Towers in '05 (and whom the Diamondbacks fired, along with Hinch, on July 2).

While the Diamondbacks and Padres now have all the ingredients for a classic shoot-'em-up, don't discount the other angle in what has become an incredibly incestuous viper pit of a division.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy essentially was told by the Padres to go look for greener pastures when Sandy Alderson was the CEO following the 2006 season. Bochy worked under Towers in San Diego for 11 of his 12 years as Padres manager before, with a year left on his contract, Alderson made Bochy feel like he'd better go explore other options.

Time was, before Padres owner John Moores' marriage hit the skids and he became an absentee (and broke) owner, Moores told Towers and Bochy they would be in place as long as he owned the team.

Bochy still maintains a home in San Diego in the off-season. And though time has eased some of the rawness of his Padres departure -- he's in his fourth season managing the Giants -- no question that as San Diego, San Francisco and Colorado sprint down the stretch this September, beating the Padres is personal with Bochy (and his third-base coach Tim Flannery, who both played and coached for the Padres before being let go).

As for Towers taking over the Diamondbacks, the hiring is a coup. Working mostly with underfunded budgets during his 14 seasons in San Diego, Towers still managed to build four NL West winners, and one NL pennant winner (1998).

Known especially for his adroit work in building a pitching staff, it was Towers who acquired key members of a Padres bullpen that has been the most airtight in the majors this summer. The Padres' majors-leading 2.85 bullpen ERA and has been one key reason for the club's contending status.

If he can work that kind of magic with what has been a historically bad Arizona bullpen in 2010 -- the Diamondbacks relievers rank last in the majors with a 5.82 ERA -- then changing fortunes for the beleaguered Snakes could come sooner rather than later.

Already, well-respected interim GM Jerry DiPoto -- who will leave the organization after not being named to the permanent post -- has helped re-stock the rotation with a couple of July acquisitions, most notably that of young Daniel Hudson.

Among the details awaiting Towers is the fate of interim manager Kirk Gibson, who is expected to be retained for the 2011 season while the new GM gets the lay of the land. The two men met Wednesday morning in what was originally scheduled to be a 30-minute session. Two hours later, they were still gabbing.

"I liked the look in his eye and what he had to say," Towers said. "He probably deserves more time to set a foundation in a spring training-type environment."

Towers pointed out that Gibson has learned from "some great people", baseball men such as Jim Leyland and Sparky Anderson.

"He's an intense guy," Towers said. "I like him."

But don't expect Towers to need much time to assess the lay of this land. The game's longest-tenured GM when the Padres let him go last October, Towers knows this land very well. A little too well even, in spots.

Towers' nickname? Gunslinger.

Perfect

 

Posted on: July 1, 2010 11:00 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 11:53 pm
 

Diamondbacks fire manager Hinch, GM Byrnes

The Arizona Diamondbacks fired both general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch on Thursday night, major-league sources have confirmed to CBSSports.com.

Kirk Gibson, bench coach to Hinch and Bob Melvin in Arizona over the past few seasons, will be named as interim manager and will guide the club Friday when the Diamondbacks open a weekend series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jerry DiPoto, who had been Arizona's vice-president for player personnel, will assume the interim GM duties.

USAToday first reported that Byrnes and Hinch are out.

In the midst of a miserably disappointing season, the Diamondbacks are last in the NL West at 31-48, trailing San Diego by 15 1/2 games.

The Diamondbacks hired Hinch last May 7, making him the youngest manager in the game at 34. He had no managerial experience when they named him to replace Bob Melvin, yet the Diamondbacks awarded him a contract through 2012.

Byrnes, meantime, is under contract through 2015.

Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick and club president Derrick Hall promised major changes last month, and these are the first of what is expected to be a complete makeover of an organization in utter disarray.

"These decisions come as a first and major step in our thorough evaluation of our team," Hall said in a statement released by the Diamondbacks late Thursday night. "We have all been disappointed in the results over the last few years, and we have come to the conclusion that a change in the leadership of our baseball operations staff is necessary at this time.

"This franchise has enjoyed tremendous success over the years and we want to get back to our winning ways. The loyal staff of this organization, as well as all of our fans, hopes for and deserves better results on the field."

Posted on: March 15, 2010 10:51 am
 

Masterson master of destiny with Cleveland

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Justin Masterson is off the yo-yo string. His days of bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and rotation in Boston are over.

Now, all he has to do is prove he can start in Cleveland.

The Indians have plenty of questions as they turn things over to the kids, and how Masterson fares is high atop the list. Acquired as part of the Victor Martinez trade last July, the 25-year-old right-hander is hoping to complete his first full season as a starter this summer since 2007.

Boston's second-round pick in the 2006 draft, Masterson made his major-league debut just two years later, appearing in 36 games and starting nine for the Red Sox. That fall, in '08, he became the seventh-youngest pitcher ever to win a postseason game for the Red Sox (23 years and 208 days).

With the Red Sox loaded with pitchers, he broke camp with the team in 2009 as a reliever but moved into the rotation after only four relief appearances when Daisuke Matsuzaka was disabled. Masterson wound up appearing in 31 games for the '09 Sox, starting six of them.

He was traded to Cleveland on July 31, whereupon he made one relief appearance before finishing the season with 10 consecutive starts. He went 1-7 with a 4.55 ERA for the Indians, putting him in a classic spring position now: Happy to be given a clean slate in a new place, where the sky is the limit

"It's a real fun place," Masterson says. "What's also interesting is that there's a lot of energy here, but not the nervousness that comes with it. These guys believe they can play."

Sunblock Day? It's into the 70s and predicted to be into the 80s by week's end. Better late than never.

Likes: Cubs manager Lou Piniella, in describing pitcher Ted Lilly's low-key rehabilitation from arthroscopic shoulder surgery over the winter: "We want to keep him under the radar gun and not talk about it much." Not sure if Lou wants to keep him low profile this spring or keep Lilly's velocity down. ... Gotta love that spring training team bonding. There was a signup sheet on the door to the Indians' clubhouse the other day entitled "Bull Riding Event" at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. And there were 17 Indians' players signed up to attend. ... Arizona manager A.J. Hinch says that Conor Jackson, who missed almost all of last season with Valley Fever, is swinging to well this spring that he wishes he could put Jackson "on ice" until opening day. I don't think he meant that literally, but you get the drift. ... Cool that actress Betty White will host Saturday Night Live's Mother's Day show in May. ... New discovery: Frank & Lupe's Mexican joint in Old Scottsdale. Outstanding fish tacos there the other night. ... Exactly how Bob Dylan came to record the old children's song This Old Man, I don't know. But it's here, and it's highly entertaining.

Dislikes: RIP Merlin Olsen, who seemed like one of the nicest men on the planet.


Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"He's going back to New York, pack it up and let everyone know
"It was something that he should have done such a long time ago
"Still time to start a new life in the palm trees
"Ah, Billy Clyde wasn't insane
"And if it doesn't work out
"There'll never be any doubt
"That the pleasure was worth all the pain"

-- Jimmy Buffett, The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

 

Posted on: May 8, 2009 1:05 am
 

Melvin out, Hinch in as Snakes' skipper

Arizona can fire Bob Melvin on Thursday and name Connie Mack manager on Friday, but unless the Diamondbacks start hitting more than .225 as a team, and unless they jack up their humiliating .297 on-base percentage, it's not going to matter.

As it is, the Diamondbacks will name as Melvin's replacement A.J. Hinch, according to reports on various Phoenix media outlets late Thursday night. Hinch, who was the Diamondbacks' highly regarded farm director, has no managerial experience. Good luck with that.

It's panic time in the desert, where that great wave of kids who landed in the National League Championship Series in 2007 and followed that up with a terrific 20-8 mark last April has flatlined ever since.

The Diamondbacks' batting average is 31 points below the NL average of .256.

Their on-base percentage is 40 points below the NL average of .337.

Both figures are easily the worst in the majors.

Not surprisingly, hitting coach Rick Schu was gassed as well. And pitching coach Bryan Price, a Melvin loyalist, resigned.

"We know something has to be done because we've been grossly underperforming for five-plus months," Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall told Phoenix radio station KTAR Thursday morning before the team's 4-3, 10-inning loss in San Diego. "And it's not fair to the fans, it's not fair to the organization, it's not fair to the young players performing below this team at Triple-A and Double-A that are ready for their opportunity."

Some of those young players may be on the next shipment into Chase Field at the present rate.

Present top candidate to be replaced: Scuffling center fielder Chris Young, who is batting .177 with just two homers in 105 plate appearances. This is a guy who slammed 32 homers two years ago and 22 last year.

He ain't alone in the struggling department.

Shortstop Stephen Drew is hitting .205. Left fielder Conor Jackson is at .191, Eric Byrnes .139 and Chris Snyder .204.

Strikeout machine Mark Reynolds has whiffed 36 times in 102 at-bats.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com