The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Baseball Blog

May 13, 2009

A.J. Hinch


But the youngsters were stagnating. Melvin won the divisional title in 2007 with them; he had them in first place much of the first half of 2008; and since then, little good has happened.

By putting Hinch in the dugout, GM Josh Byrnes is in effect saying: These are your guys. You know them. You developed them enough to get to the majors. Now we need to develop them enough to win in the majors, and that's going to be your job too.

But the view elsewhere, it seems, is that Hinch has the job because Byrnes wants a lapdog. Behind this is another sort of friction, that between the old school "baseball men" and the new wave of well-educated, stat-oriented front office types — tagged with the "Moneyball" label after Michael Lewis' popular book.

Byrnes is definitely from the Moneyball school. So is Hinch — he has a degree from Stanford and he spent most of his playing days in the Oakland organization, and the A's are the original Moneyball operation.

Billy Beane, the Oakland GM, has gone through a number of managers, in large part because he keeps hiring old-school guys who don't completely buy into Beane's system and who chafe at the amount of input (or interference) they get from Beane. And I assume that Beane hires these guys because he knows that a manager is only as good as his ability to command the respect of the athletes, and bringing in somebody who has never worn a uniform, who's never working in a professional baseball clubhouse, isn't going to work.

But Hinch has. He straddles both worlds. And in that sense, he's a logical selection for the Arizona job.

e-mail Edward Thoma

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