Hale will be the eighth manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, excluding the streaking star across the firmament which was Wally Backman, but including Alan Trammell's weekend warrior stint. Like six of those eight, does not have previous experience as a major-league manager. But he has been in the frame for a couple of managerial jobs before, most recently reaching the second round of interviews for a position with the Seattle Mariners last off-season. The Twins also reportedly asked for permission to interview Hale, but that isn't now happening: this probably demonstrates one advantage of getting your firings in early, you get your pick of candidates.
"My biggest thing is play the game the right way. I played under Tom Kelly in Minnesota, and the one thing he preached from day one was 'respect the game.' We just did things the right way, whether it was working on bunt defenses, taking infield, outfield. If we didn't do it the right way, we'd keep on doing it again."
-- Chip Hale
Kelly was manager of the Twins from 1986-2001, and under him, the team won the World Series in 1987 and 1991. He resigned after the 2001 season, according to Wikipedia "citing burnout and the threat of contraction" - at the time, he was the longest tenured manager in any of the four major sports. But he left behind a strong organization which then won their division tor the next three years, under current incumbent, Ron Gardenhire. Kelly's number 10 was retired by Minnesota in 2012. If Hale does emulate Kelly, look for the D-backs to be built on pitching and defense, because that was where Kelly focused his energies during his time with the Twins.
"Hale is regarded in baseball circles as one of the up-and-coming managerial prospects in the game as a young, energetic candidate who is detail oriented and good with the media."
-- Greg Johns, MLB.com
Chip Hale is upbeat, wildly energetic and ultra-prepared. He is going to make a terrific big-league manager.
-- Susan Slusser, SF Chronicle
I'm gratified to hear him described as "young," since Hale is actually about 16 months older than I am. :) He is certainly not the youngest of the final four - that would have been Phil Nevin - but he is nine years younger than the man reported to be the other main candidate, Jim Tracy, and 7 1/2 younger than Kirk Gibson. I tend to think that's probably a good thing, in terms of Hale perhaps being more open to new-fangled thinking like that saba-ma-trec-ticks I've been hearing about lately. He probably has one of those tablets too, but I don't know what all the fuss is about there, I have to take two tablets every morning. PS. Kids, get off my damn lawn.
"The bottom line: good minor-league and major-league systems are built by drafting good players... You are going to go get your free agent here and there, but if you can build this system from the bottom up, you are going to have guys who end up being superstars at the big-league level, and you’ll have guys you move for other pieces."
-- Chip Hale
The above is probably the most encouraging thing I read about Hale today, though of course, as manager, you don't decide how your roster is built - I'd be even happier if those words were coming out of GM Dave Stewart's mouth. But managers tend to reflect the philosophies of those who hire them - let's give this a name and call it "organizational advocacy," perhaps. So, it seems likely that a belief on building from within, if not indisputably part of the D-backs approach (we'll have to wait and see on that), is at least compatible with it.
There's a press conference this afternoon at Chase Field (it will be on Fox Sports Arizona and streamed on their website ay 2pm Arizona time), so we should soon get to hear more about Hale's approach to the job, direct from the new manager's mouth.
- Did you know Chip Hale went to the U of A? He's not the first major-league manager to be an alumni of that establishment: though Brad Mills was fired by the Astros in 2012, Hale will be joining the Indians' Terry Francona in the current ranks.
- You've probably seen the video (below) of minor-league outfielder Rodney McCray crashing through the outfield wall in Portland as he tries to make a catch. What you might not know, is that Hale was the batter who hit that ball. Hale remembers thinking, "He's going to have to stop soon, isn't he?"