Perhaps you missed the big news. One can easily see why. The internet has been full of amazing pictures of catchers squatting, pitchers tossing, position players working out and everyone stretching. So much stretching. But buried in there was a little announcement that Diamondbacks skipper Chip Hale has been extended through the 2017 season. The team held an option for the 2017 seasons and they exercised it on Thursday.
Managers don’t like working without job security. Actually, no one really likes working without job security. Still, Hale has more if it now than he did on Wednesday, and heading into the biggest season in Arizona in several years, this is surely a relief for him. Then again, should things unexpectedly turn south, he can be fired at any time and the team just has to pay the remainder of his contract to get rid of him. That or find a way to trade Braden Shipley and Chip Hale to the Braves for… Nevermind, I’m kidding. Mostly.
The Diamondbacks are rightfully pleased with Hale. A few months back we A Kind of Chip Hale Report Card using some numbers from a Ben Lindbergh piece at Grantland. Yeah, that Grantland, the one that’s no longer operational. This really has been a miserable offseason in a lot of ways. Ben’s numbers suggested that, more or less, Hale is a good manager. He used some effective platoons, put a good defensive team on the field and didn’t screw things up with a bunch of sac bunts by position players. You’ve heard it before, but it’s a lot easier for a manager to lose a game than it is to win it.
We know from watching that Hale does a good job. There were some issues with leaving pitchers in a little too long at times, but then again, the team did set a record for relief innings pitched, so you can kind of understand wanting to squeeze everything you can out of your starter or even your relievers given that the rest of the dudes probably pitched yesterday. And the day before. Glad that won’t be as much of an issue this year.
Thing that could be an issue still exist, however. He’s got a new crop of coaches – Andy Green did a hell of a job with the defensive shifts and now Matt Williams is the third base coach. Mike Harkey apparently didn’t have much of a plan out there (I still can’t believe they said that publicly) and now we’ve got Mike Butcher running things with the pitching staff, which should be helpful. Dave Magadan is the new hitting coach and he’s previously had success. Maybe he can help jump start a couple of Jean Segura, Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, Yasmany Tomas and all the pitchers not named Zack Greinke (#pitcherswhorake). Also, evaluating position coaches from a distance is basically wholly unfair.
Hale will have new expectations to manage. The team has a new image (#DbacksEvolution), some new personalities and hopefully some new swagger. There’s the potential of a slow start with April series against the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Pirates and Cardinals. Should that transpire, Hale will have his work cut out. There were some bad stretches last year, but the expectations were nothing like they are entering 2016. Still, the team has some homegrown leadership and Hale seems poised to help lead them to new heights, at least as compared to recent history. Extending him before the season should put him at ease to go out, manage the club, and not worry about his job. That’s probably a good thing, even if it’s a really small thing.
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