D-backs fire skipper Melvin, hire inexperienced 34-year-old

David Brown
May 8, 2009
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Hey, Bob Melvin. Coach GM wants to see you.

Bring your playbook and the keys to the dugout.

They thought we wouldn't notice because Manny's drug suspension is dominating the news cycle — they were pretty much right — but it nonetheless has been discovered that the sputtering D-backs have fired their manager.

And replaced him with...

A.J. Hinch, who is expected to be introduced in Phoenix on Friday afternoon. Hinch, a Stanford grad and former major league catcher with the Athletics, Royals and others, was Arizona's farm system director, its vice president of Player Development. He was still playing, himself, as recently as 2005 and — oh yeah — he has no experience as a manager. Anywhere. Ever.

Furthermore, Hinch is 34, which means he's younger than several D-backs players, such as left-hander Scott Schoeneweis(notes) (35), slugger Tony Clark(notes) (36) and short man Tom Gordon(notes) (41).

The 12-17 D-backs had alternatives to Hinch, such as bench coach Kirk Gibson, but general manager Josh Byrnes said he wanted someone "with a new voice." Hinch might be green as a manager but his resume hole shouldn't necessarily doom him to fail.

Not counting Luke Edwards in "Little Big League," the youngest manager in baseball history was a 24-year-old Lou Boudreau, who took over the Indians in 1942. He won a World Series by the time he turned 30.

And Tony La Russa was Hinch's age in 1979 when he took over the White Sox in midseason. He had minor league managing experience, though.

Considering other decisions that Byrnes has made in the past couple of seasons — letting go of Carlos Quentin(notes) comes to mind — it's wise to be circumspect.

Also fired was Melvin's hitting coach Rick "Really Big" Schu. Pitching coach Bryan Price resigned. Baxter the Bobcat is staying.

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Melvin, 47, went 337-340 with the D-backs, peaking in 2007 by leading them to an NL West crown and the league's best record. Injuries, uneven development of their young players (hmm) and (presumably) bad managing have marked the D-backs' slide. Downward slither, if you will.

Melvin is the first manager in the majors to get the ax this season, beating Cecil Cooper, for example, to unemployment.

Now that the Snakes have "fixed" the skipper and the top two coaching spots, they can work on the other parts that ail 'em.

Start with the lineup, such as it is, and work your way around. All the way up to GM, even.