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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Diamondbacks hire former Wildcat Chip Hale

The Arizona Diamondbacks continued the recent franchise makeover by hiring a familiar face as the seventh manager in franchise history. Former Arizona Wildcat standout baseball player Chip Hale was handpicked by Tony La Russa, Dave Stewart and De Jon Watson and announced by the team on Monday.

Hale, most recently the Oakland A’s bench coach, was a part of the Diamondbacks organization in one capacity or another for six seasons during the 2000s. His most recent stint with the team came as the third-base coach for the MLB staff from 2007-09.

The former Wildcat played at Arizona from 1984-87, was an instrumental cog on the 1986 national championship team and is one of the best players in program history. Hale finished his illustrious career among the leaders in numerous categories like hits (first), games played (first), at bats (first), bases on balls (first), total bases (first), runs (second), doubles (sixth) and triples (fifth). In essence, Hale is an Arizona man through and through.

He replaces Kirk Gibson as manager. Gibson spent parts of five seasons as Arizona’s manager, going 353-375 during his tenure and leading the team to one postseason appearance.

The Diamondbacks are coming off the second-worst season in franchise history, as the team finished in last place of the NL West with a 64-98 record.

A black cloud was held over the season before it even began as injuries ravaged the Diamondbacks from beginning to end. Ace Patrick Corbin tore a ligament in his pitching elbow in March and is expected to return midway through the 2015 season. Corbin was just the beginning, though.

Throughout the year, the Diamondbacks would add MVP candidate first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, rookie starting shortstop Chris Owings, reliever David Hernandez, starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo, starting centerfielder A.J. Pollock and reliever Brad Ziegler to the list of injured players.

At a certain point, the disabled list roster was more talented than the actual starting lineup.

For an organization that has made the playoffs just twice over the past decade, hiring someone like Hale could be exactly what the team needs to turn the corner. The 49-year-old was listed among the initial managerial targets outlaid by La Russa and Stewart.

Hale will be tasked with fixing a team that struggled across the board in 2014. The Diamondbacks were 25th in runs scored, 25th in home runs, 18th in batting average, 26th in team ERA and 19th in errors.

While some of those problems can be attributed to the glut of injuries, it’s unrealistic to place all the blame on that. Instead, point to the lack of frontline starting pitching options and offensive firepower as issues.

A front office headlined by now-former general manager Kevin Towers bet big and failed with large deals for players like Cody Ross, Trevor Cahill and Arroyo. Not only did their horrible deals strap the team with tough contracts to get rid of, they took up valuable roster spots on the major league team.

For all the good Towers did, his miscues were just too much to ignore.

As Hale comes in to the organization again with the management team of La Russa, Stewart and Watson, he’ll be given every chance to succeed with a new and smarter front office. If Towers had stayed, I can’t imagine Hale would have been hired in any major league capacity other than maybe bench coach.

With Cahill, Arroyo and Ross all holding team options for 2016, Hale will have those contracts off the books after his first season, giving the front office plenty of room to bring in talented players.

If Hale is looking to put down roots in Arizona, now is the perfect time to start.


Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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