Diamondbacks fire Stewart, Hale after another losing season

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By JOHN MARSHALL

PHOENIX (AP) The additions of pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller had the Arizona Diamondbacks facing upgraded expectations this season.

When the team took a step back instead of forward, something had to change.

General manager Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale will not be back. Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa will be, though it’s unclear in what role.

Coming off a second disappointing season, the Diamondbacks parted ways with Stewart and Hale on Monday in the latest shake-up for an organization seeking consistency.

“We did not see the trend line moving in the right direction,” Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick said.

The Diamondbacks won the World Series in 2001 and had a brief resurgence a decade later by winning the NL West.

Arizona has been in a steady decline since then, posting five straight non-winning seasons.

The Diamondbacks brought in La Russa in 2014 and among his first moves was bringing in Stewart and Hale, elevating them to positions they had never held at the big-league level before.

Arizona went 79-83 last season and was expecting better things after signing former AL Cy Young Award winner Greinke to a $206 million deal and trading for Miller.

Instead, the Diamondbacks took a step back. They started slow and never recovered, finishing with a 69-93 record to miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

Now the franchise will be searching for a fifth GM and fifth manager since 2010. The team is deciding on what role La Russa will have, but Kendrick said it will not be manager.

“We want to have more consistent baseball and championship-caliber baseball, year-in and year-out,” Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said.

A four-time 20-game winner as a player, Stewart had previously worked in the front offices for Oakland, San Diego and Toronto before landing his first general manager’s job.

Hale played seven major league seasons with Minnesota and the Los Angeles Dodgers before getting into coaching. He worked as Bob Melvin’s bench coach for three seasons before being hired as a big-league manager for the first time with Arizona. He previously worked nine seasons in Arizona’s organization and spent two seasons with the New York Mets.

Arizona has made some questionable moves over the past couple of seasons, including an $8.25 million contract with Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez, who has considered leaving the game.

The Diamondbacks also were criticized for the deal that brought Miller to the desert, which sent outfielder Ender Inciarte and shortstop Dansby Swanson, Arizona’s top draft pick in 2015, to Atlanta. Miller struggled his first season with Arizona, going 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA.

Arizona did pull off the most surprising offseason deal prior to the 2016 season, luring Greinke away from top teams that had been pursuing him. Greinke showed flashes of still being one of baseball’s best pitchers, but was inconsistent most of the season. He won a team-high 13 games, but also had a 4.37 ERA, second-highest of his career.

Arizona’s pitching staff struggled as a whole, finishing with a baseball-worst 5.11 ERA.

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Associated Press

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