Slow start, silent bats cost Melvin job

Jon ParksContributor IMay 8, 2009

PHOENIX - APRIL 7:  Manager Bob Melvin of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field on April 7, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ brass have apparently seen enough, firing Manager Bob Melvin just 29 games into the season, and less than two seasons removed from him winning NL Manager of the Year.

Melvin was relieved of his duties after his team crawled to a 12-17 start, falling nine games behind the division-leading Dodgers.

It appeared Thursday morning that Melvin’s job may have been temporarily saved, after Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs and opening a window of opportunity for the Snakes to make a run.

However, after another disappointing loss in which the D-Backs could only muster four runs, Melvin’s tenure as the winningest manager in Diamondbacks history came to an abrupt end.

The move came as no surprise to many D-Backs fans who have speculated for weeks as to the security of Melvin’s job.

Without a doubt, it is the team’s lack of hitting that cost Bo-Mel his job.

The Snakes’ woes began near the end of the first half of last season.  After getting off to a hot start, the D-Backs couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn in the second half.

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The troubles continued this season, with the Diamondbacks ranking last in baseball with a team batting average of .222, 16 points behind the Florida Marlins, the second-worst hitting team.

Conor Jackson (.191), Chris Young (.177), Chad Tracy (.221), Eric Brynes (.139), Chris Synder (.204), and Stephen Drew(.205) are all of to horrific offensive starts.

Melvin certainly cannot swing the bats for the boys, however many have pointed to Melvin’s laid back attitude as the reason the D-Backs have been playing such uninspired ball. The now former skipper was unable or unwilling to light a fire under his team, and seemed to rely too often on the home ran, rather than trying to steal bases and manufacture runs.

Melvin has also been criticized for playing with his lineup card too often, making it nearly impossible for players to develop a rhythm at the plate.

Make no mistake, hitting coach Rick Schu bears just at much, if not more, responsibility for having squandered the talents of the once-blossoming young stars on the team. It will be a shock to everyone if Schu hasn’t coached his last game for Arizona.

While Melvin cannot be blamed entirely (hint, hint, Rick Schu), he is the skipper, and the skipper always goes down with the ship. 

A replacement has yet to be named. However, there is speculation that the fiery Kirk Gibson could become Arizona’s next manager.