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Arizona's Opportunistic Firing

Make no mistake, the fact that Arizona manager Bob Melvin was fired yesterday, with fierce winds of discontent and media scorn swirling around divisional rival Los Angeles, is no coincidence. That he was fired on a day the Dodgers lost their leader, the most important part of their lineup and surging success behind the plate, fells all but orchestrated.

Make no mistake, this is Arizona's attempt to make something happen. The Diamondbacks know that they're not too far off from the Dodgers, and the gap is still close enough for them to close in or take the lead by July 3, when Manny makes it back. All they have to do is hit.

That's what the curious appointment as Melvin's successor will be charged to do. The thing is, when you look closer at the appointment, it actually becomes less curious. A.J. Hinch, the acting vice president for baseball development, isn't just taking over as manager to try and save this team's season, he's taking over as manager to try and save his own job.

When the Diamondbacks won the NL West two years ago with a ridiculously young roster, expectations skyrocketed. As they've failed to meet them time and time again since, legitimate concern has arisen over whether all that young talent -- including immaculately pedigreed hitters like Justin Upton and Stephen Drew -- were taking steps forward or back.

That development falls within the broader scope of Hinch's "baseball development" scheme, so in a very real sense, he's now being held responsible for the players on his watch. Was he the man who drafted them all? No. After all, he's only been on the job for three years. Yet while many of Hinch's original iniatiatives -- like launching a blog for the Diamondbacks' player development (which has since been pulled down) -- have been innovative and well received. Unfortunately, those changes don't take the glare off of Arizona's recent failures. Only wins can do that, and only the players on the roster can help bring those wins.

In a big picture sense, this is another calculated gamble from one of the closest branches of Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein's executive tree. General Manager Josh Byrnes knows that Arizona can't lose much more ground if it stands a chance of catching L.A. With a new weakness exposed in Southern California, he's doing the one thing he thinks he can now to make a move, in hopes of setting up another stretch run. Just read the statement Byrnes released below. The more you think about, it really does seem to be that simple a move.

"This is a difficult decision, but I feel that our organization needs to move forward with a new voice."

By Cameron Smith  |  May 8, 2009; 4:44 PM ET
Categories:  Diamondbacks  
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