(third from left, Ken Kendrick, surrounded by respected baseball people)
Less than 3 years after signing Josh Brynes to an 8-year pact, Arizona fired their GM yesterday, along with managerial neophyte (and Brynes appointee) A.J. Hinch. While Yahoo’s Jeff Passan points out the Eric Byrnes $30 million dollar deal was the handiwork of departed CEO Jeff Moorad and wonders “whether Josh would still be employed today had Brandon Webb™s arm not fallen apart at the beginning of last season” (“to lose a pitcher of that caliber and expect the team to remain the same isn™t just unfair…it’s negligent”), D-Backs general partner Ken Kendrick claims the moves came about after “respected baseball people” gave his club’s player development system a failing grade. From the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro :
A key revelation, Kendrick said, was just how devoid of top-shelf talent the Diamondbacks farm system is, particularly in the upper levels. Kendrick knew it wasn’t a strength, but he said he didn’t realize the level to which it had been depleted.
“It’s not as strong as it ought to be,” Kendrick said. “It’s probably weaker than I had thought.
“It got me a little more convinced that maybe some different approach than the one we were taking on the non-uniform side of the field was necessary.”
The Diamondbacks named former pitcher Jerry Dipoto, previously the club’s director of player personnel, as interim GM, and promoted former World Series hero Kirk Gibson from bench coach to manager.
Byrnes was fired with 5 1/2 years remaining on the eight-year contract the club gave him in February 2008. Hinch’s deal ran through 2012. The club reportedly owes more than $7 million collectively to them.
“When it comes to dismissing somebody,” Kendrick said, “the contract is not the issue, it’s, ‘Are we getting the results we need?’ “
Kendrick seemed more sympathetic to Hinch, who controversially was named manager in May 2009 despite not having experience as a coach at any level. He said Hinch “probably” wouldn’t have had to be fired if it weren’t for the bullpen’s unexpectedly atrocious season and Brandon Webb’s prolonged recovery from shoulder surgery.