Seemingly it was the perfect time to drop the ax. The Manny Ramirez suspension was dominating the news and the Washington Nationals, owners of baseballs worst record, were coming to town. An organization could look for a decade and not find a better circumstance to fire their current manager and bring in the new one for a winning series.
The first part of the plan worked perfectly. Outside of Arizona there was hardly a mention of the firing, on MLB Network or ESPN not a peep other than a one sentence scroll at the bottom of the screen. The second part of the plan, get new manager A.J. Hinch a few wins over a patsy team, did not go off as planned. The Washington Nationals, 7<sup>th</sup> in MLB in batting average, proved that it was the Diamondbacks who where the patsies in this scenario.
The Washington Nationals have baseball’s worst record but they are currently a far better hitting team than the Diamondbacks who rank dead last in batting average. Never mind that the Nationals pitching is sub par, the Dbacks have struggled against pitchers that have ERAs in the fives against the rest of the league. Truth be told it really wouldn’t have mattered who the Diamondbacks faced fresh off Bob Melvin’s departure, they probably would have lost two out of the three regardless.
Despite a series loss, and almost a sweep, the A.J. Hinch era started out reasonably well. The Diamondbacks actually had hit the ball fairly well when you consider some of the outings they’ve had this season. They had 11 hits Friday, 8 hits Saturday, and knocked the cover off the ball in back and forth game on Sunday. I realize eight hits is nothing to be proud of but for a team that I have seen get four hits or less in quite a few games it is. Timely hitting and leaving runners on base continued to be a problem and ultimately cost them two losses.
I do like the fact that Hinch got on Justin Upton and Felipe Lopez after both failed to put in a full effort running to first base on separate locations. I also like that he continued to stick with some new guys in the lineup giving Josh Whitesell, Ryan Roberts, and Josh Wilson all starts in the weekend. And Mark Reynolds, the defensively criticized third baseman, got a start at first base where he seemed to hold his own.
In an overall disappointing weekend there were a few bright spots, and for this team to get back on track those bright spots are crucial. Once they begin to get a series of successes to build off then they can focus on other things. Baby steps are the name of the game for this team. Baby steps hustling to first base, baby steps working a two strike count, baby steps getting hits with runners in scoring positions, and ultimately baby steps to win some games.