Kendrick: Change in Arizona was necessary
Evaluation led to dismissal of GM Byrnes, skipper Hinch
PHOENIX -- Around six weeks ago, D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick decided it was time to take stock of his organization.
The D-backs were mired in last place in the National League West and were in the midst of a finishing up an 0-9 road trip.
That evaluation process led to Thursday's decision to dismiss general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch.
"They're very, very fine young men," Kendrick said of Byrnes and Hinch. "They gave their hearts and souls to this organization. They were dedicated, hard-working, high-integrity guys. I personally will miss them. I know, though, that we're in a business of results, and the results weren't there, and they weren't there for a period of time. The evaluation that we made basically drew us to the conclusion that change was necessary."
As part of that process, Kendrick and team president and CEO Derrick Hall began to reach out to contacts within the baseball industry.
"I'm the owner, so you look to who you can go to who won't pander to you because of your position," Kendrick said. "People who are respected in the game and don't have anything to gain or lose. People who have a good relationship with you and will give you their honest opinion."
Kendrick and Hall said they found several areas of concern, including the struggles of the team at the Major League level, the state of the farm system, recent Drafts and how the organization was perceived within the industry.
The pair spent part of this past week at a planned family vacation at Kendrick's home in Aspen, Colo., and discussed the situation intensely.
"During those four days, there were times where we said we definitely have to make these changes, and the next day we'd say maybe we shouldn't," Hall said. "These were not easy decisions. We went round and round and considered every possible scenario."
When they finally reached a decision to dismiss both Byrnes and Hinch, the next discussions revolved around timing and who would fill the GM role on an interim basis. In addition to Jerry Dipoto, assistant GM Peter Woodfork and special assistant Bob Gebhard were considered.
The pair returned to Phoenix on Thursday in the early afternoon, and Kendrick wanted to be the one to deliver the news personally to Byrnes -- which he did later in the afternoon.
"Ken wanted to have the initial conversation with Josh because he had hired him, so he wanted to bring closure to it," Hall said.
Byrnes was in the third year of an eight-year extension he signed in the spring of 2008, while Hinch has two years left, following this season, on his contract.
Dipoto was offered the opportunity to be the interim GM, and he said he was comfortable going forward with the decision to dismiss Hinch and promote bench coach Kirk Gibson to interim manager.
Hinch said he received a phone call to come down to Chase Field to meet with Hall and Dipoto.
"He was very professional," Hall said. "A.J. was fantastic. He was actually trying to be part of the solution and asked how he could help."
Later that evening, Dipoto and Gibson went over to Hall's house to discuss things in a meeting that lasted well into the night.
"It was a great meeting," Hall said. "They both were very excited and we talked about the areas we needed to improve on. Both guys want to succeed very quickly, and while you never know how things are going to turn out, from what I saw last night, I wish Gibby had a uniform on. They were ready to go."
Dipoto and Gibson will likely fill their roles until the end of the season when the club will then re-evaluate the situation. That gives the organization the month of October -- while the playoffs are going on -- to interview candidates if need be.
After finishing 76-86 in Byrnes' first season as GM in 2006, the D-backs jumped to 90 wins and reached the '07 NL Championship Series, where they were swept by the Rockies. The following season, the D-backs started off 20-8, but wound up finishing with an 82-80 record, and Byrnes' relationship with skipper Bob Melvin soured.
Following a 12-17 start to the 2009 season, Byrnes dismissed Melvin and hired Hinch on May 8.
Kendrick said he has no doubt that Byrnes can be successful in a general manager's role.
"I have a lot of respect for him, and I have a feeling he can be successful in another setting if he looks at what happened here and what some of the mistakes were," Kendrick said. "And accepts them as things he maybe should do differently. He did a lot of good things here."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.