The Arizona Diamondbacks will make third base coach Matt Williams their manager for the 2014 season. He will replace Kirk Gibson, the man who presently holds that position. It has been no secret that Williams is both a fan favorite and more importantly, a favorite of owner Ken Kendrick.
Williams is now considered by many executives in MLB as the next hot managerial candidate. That is something the Diamondbacks’ ownership are keenly aware of, and they plan on keeping Williams in “The Valley of the Sun.”
Media reports already have Williams linked to his old friend Mike Rizzo, who is now the vice president and GM of the Washington Nationals. Rizzo will be looking for a replacement for Davey Johnson, who will be retiring at the end of the season and returning to his former job as an advisor to the Nationals’ front office.
But, the Diamondbacks’ management that feel they will have no problem keeping Williams in Phoenix as long as they can name him the manager. Ownership is banking on loyalty here — it was Kendrick that gave Williams a minority ownership stake in the team when he retired, telling the media: “Matt is going to be a Diamondback for life.”
Williams is a natural to be the Diamondbacks’ manager. The question remains: Does Kirk Gibson deserves to be fired?
That is a fair question, and one certainly could look at the 2013 Arizona season as a bizarre anomaly. There have been key injuries across the field, and team GM Kevin Towers even lost his voice for so long that he feared a tumor was growing on his vocal chords.
While everyone is very happy that Towers is indeed getting better, he was the man who, along with Gibson, told the media before the season began that the Diamondbacks would win 90 games. It is that promise and the team’s failure to even come close to achieving the goal that gives Kendrick the cover needed to replace Gibson.
Kendrick is a successful businessman, and he is fully aware that the Diamondbacks — if you will excuse the expression — might very well be snake-bitten. He is far more concerned that the crowds at Chase Field are growing smaller, and he has a fear that fan apathy has set in. He knows that fans want a move of some kind to shake things up and to give them hope that 2014 will be better.
Kendrick will hire Williams because the time has come for him to become a manager in the big leagues, and because he wants to keep him in Arizona. Many think Gibson would go on to join the Detroit Tigers and his old boss, manager Jim Leyland. For a number of years, Leyland has wanted Gibson to be his eventual replacement when he makes the choice to retire, which could be this season if the Tigers were to win the World Series.
If all works well, Williams would be getting the managing job in Arizona that he wants so badly. Meanwhile, Gibson could return to Detroit, where he was a local sports icon. So in the end, both men could see their dreams come true.