The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a lost 2014 and the fallout may finally be complete with the high-profile leadership positions all having been shaken up. Legendary manager Tony LaRussa came aboard in May as Chief Baseball Officer. The team sunk to the bottom of baseball over the summer and speculation on LaRussa’s possible moves ran rampant.
Now we know.
Here is the timeline of the shakeup:
- May 18 – Tony LaRussa named Chief Baseball Officer
- Sept. 5 – GM Kevin Towers fired
- Sept. 25 – Dave Stewart named GM, DeJon Watson named Sr. VP of Baseball Operations
- Sept. 26 – Manager Kirk Gibson fired
That, folks, is a housecleaning. A firesale blows out players. A housecleaning is how an organization changes direction and it isn’t surprising when the team manning the brooms is the worst in baseball.
Stewart has been a standout in various baseball positions, from ace pitcher to pitching coach to agent. This track record qualifies him to be a first-time GM as much as anyone else who has been one. He knows the business from every side.
Watson is a prized talent. He may be the steal of this huge shakeup. Working in concert with Stewart, he adds a wealth of knowledge that he has displayed as assistant GM with the Dodgers.
Both will report to LaRussa. He’s had some success in the big leagues as well, you may remember.
If all the parts can mesh, this has the potential to be a devastatingly effective team. Taking Watson from the Dodgers can also damage a division rival. One who has won back-to-back NL west titles and boasts a rich farm system that Watson had a hand in building.
The Diamondbacks have gone straight down since their 2011 division title. It’s been a Giants and Dodgers world since. The new leadership has stars Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin coming back from injury on the big-league level, as well as the #1 pick in the 2015 First Year Player Draft, due to this season’s futility. Gibson appeared to be a catalyst for a winning culture. He turned out to be a flame that fizzled. Things may work better elsewhere for Gibson, but the time for him to go clearly had come.
It’s a new day in the desert. With two recent World Series titles in San Francisco and two division crowns for the Dodgers, Arizona needs to change course and move decisively if they are to compete. With these moves, they have done just that.