Tony La Russa: I think I'll start with a disclaimer, for the Diamondbacks fans that have been besieging us with this recommendation: you should know that Gonzo removed his name from consideration, and so we had to go from there. I just want to talk a little bit about the process, and then turn it over to Stew to make the introduction. The process was that we had, I think, a very solid group that we were interviewing, and I want to thank them, from myself, Ken and Derrick, for their participation. Gonzo was a part of it. Dave Duncan, DeJon Watson, Dave Stewart and Derrick Hall.
The other thing that makes a lot of us excited about the introduction today is, he was at the top of a really significant list of candidates that we talked to and inquired about their participation on the Diamondbacks for 2015 and beyond. The list was very, very impressive. Every guy, there's no doubt in our minds, will manage in the major-leagues soon. We wanted to thank them for coming in and allowing us to check them out. Officially: Sandy Alomar Jr., Jay Bell, Tim Bogar, Andy Green, Joe McEwing, Phil Nevin, Jim Tracy and Turner Ward.
We've learned in the past that when you have a really good competition, the guy that survives is better off, rather than somebody just gift-wrapping a job, with nobody else to push him. So this was a push, but we're really pleased, and I'll turn it over to Stew to make the announcement.
Dave Stewart: As Tony said, the process that we went through to find the manager for this ball-club was a process that we worked really hard at, and once the process was over, it was very, very clear that we picked the right guy to lead our ball-club. Chip has 28 years of baseball experience underneath his belt. He started his managing career here in the Diamondbacks organization. He managed at rookie ball, he managed at Double-A and Triple. But, on top of that, he compiled a very impressive winning record at 92 wins and 53 losses. He was 2-for-7 against me as a hitter, so that in itself is impressive! [Laughter] Slow rollers...
With all seriousness, what we were looking for a manager - we talked about it on several occasions internally, and we expressed it publicly - was we wanted a guy who would give us our best chance to communicate with the players that we have in our clubhouse. The chemistry in our clubhouse is important, and the guy that leads that chemistry is important. We wanted a guy with energy, we wanted a guy that was optimistic and will energize our ballclub, but as well, be a part of the culture moving forward in the Diamondbacks organization.
And with that being said, the person that we found to do that job, and we believe will be successful here for a long time. His background explains that: he played with the Minnesota Twins, we know them to be a fundamentally strong organization, and that was also one of the things that we were seeking. So with that being said, ladies and gentlemen, the press, I'd like to introduce you to Chip Hale.
Chip Hale: [Puts jersey on] Feels like coming home again... I just want to thank everybody here, that was in the process. Ken and Jeff and the rest of the partners of the Diamondbacks. I've known them a long time, I'm very excited to work for this organization. Everybody that was involved in the interview process that Tony mentioned: Derrick Hall, DeJon Watson, Luis Gonzalez, Dave Stewart, Tony La Russa, Dave Duncan. When you walk into a room like that, then you sit down to talk baseball, you know that this is the place you want to be.
It was an exciting time to interview. I've done it a couple of times, and really felt good when I walked in the room, I felt like this is where I belonged. I'm just glad to be home Obviously, I went to the University of Arizona, and I live in Tucson, for now., and we're extremely happy to be here. i want to recognize my family. Without these guys, it's very difficult. You manage through the minor leagues, you play through the minor leagues. There are times in the major league, your wife is basically a single mother. So I want to recognize my wife Judy, my oldest son Jack, Eddie and Sabrina. These guys have been with me, and I've been through some tough times. It's not easy to go through those things, and my wife has stuck through it with me. So, thank you very much.
But I'm here and I'm ready to get going, hit the ground running. I'm excited about what we have. We ad the worst record in baseball, so we get the first pick - that's the positive of this thing. We're going to get this thing going, we're going to maximize everything we can. Whatever roster we're given, we're going to do the best we can to get every ounce out of those guys. I talk about over-achieving, and it's always been my thought, from rookie ball to Triple-A managing, being the bench coach in Oakland, being with the New York Mets at third-base, whoever I was in charge of, I tried to get a little more out of each guy, see what we could do.
People to thank. The #1 guy is Bob Melvin. Managed here in Arizona, he was the first one to show confidence in me, give me an opportunity to be a major-league coach. He mentored me, brought me over to Oakland as the bench coach, gave me that opportunity. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here today. Tommy Jones hired me in Arizona, gave me that opportunity to start. The first question he asked me on the phone was, "Why do you want to be a manager in the minor-leagues?" And I said, "Tommy, I want to manage in the major-leagues." So he's looking down on me right now, and I thank him for giving me that first opportunity.
Our parents. Judy's parents. Her mother and her late father have always been there for us. My mother, my father. I always tell kids when I coach my son's youth teams, "Go home and thank your parents for bringing you here today," and that was a truth to my parents. I never played a game as a youth, high-school, even at the U of A, where my parents weren't there. So thank you very much, mom and dad. They're the reason for it. Any questions?
I know you've been a finalist for other jobs. Did you think that this would the place where you got the opportunity?
The funny thing about it is, I was a player in Minnesota, and I learned how to play baseball under Tom Kelly in the big leagues. I learned all my coaching in Arizona. So those two jobs were open this year, ans so at the time, those were kinda like your spots. This is the perfect job for me and my family, and that's important to me to be here. And it's important to me, to get this organization - like Stew said, we're going to set a culture here, about winning, but about having fun, being competitive in the clubhouse, all those things, having pride. And it was important for me to re-instill this here and get us back to where we belong.
We've seen how it can happen here. We've seen Luis Gonzalez... World Series, I was in the stadium my son was a young kid, we went to every World Series game that was here in Phoenix, and I said to him, "I've never been to a World Series game, Jack - do you realize how lucky you are?" and I think he thought that was going to happen every year! That was one of the most exciting times, as a fan, that I have ever experienced was Game 7, and I want to bring that feeling back to the ballpark.
Tony and Dave, was there one thing or two that you saw in Chip's background that made it stick out that he'd be a good fit here?
TLR: I think it was the completeness of his experiences. He mentioned, he started in Minnesota and we all have admired the type of baseball they teach, both with the execution style and the competitive style, the fundamentals. But then, it's what happened afterwards. He had a major-league playing career, then to prove his love of the game, goes out and manages, starts out in rookie ball and distinguished himself in this organization.
There was an integrity thing that happened here, when Bob Melvin was let go, and he and Brian... A lot of us that were watching from other places said, "Whoa, put a check mark next to those two guys." Then he goes on with the Mets, and then with the A's, he's been part of that success. So I think it was just the completeness of his background and the way he presented himself. We were looking for a leader and a guy that knows baseball, and there wasn't a box that he didn't have checked.
DS: I can't add to that. He was 2-for-7 against me!
CH: I was going to look that up, by the way. I do have a sheet of everybody I got a hit, see if I did get one off him.
DS: He wanted bragging rights!
What do you recall about the 2009 situation, and how did you handle that?
It was a difficult situation. We'd had such success in 07, going to the League Championship Series and losing to the Rockies. The next year, we were a good team, and things just didn't start off like we wanted to and none of us were happy. Anybody that coaches or manages a professional sport, it's all about winning. That's the bottom line. We had a good club. Opening Day, Brandon Webb went down, and he has never pitched again. And we'd kinda built the team around that, with Webb and Haren. So what I recall is just some tough times and, like I said, Bob is that guy that showed the confidence in me, and it's difficult when those things happen. But you learn and you move on; it wasn't the right place at that time for Bob, and things have really turned out well for him.
How would you describe your style as a manager?
CH: Your style is going to be dictated by the personnel you have. So I've managed teams that have been athletically inclined and can run, and we've run a lot and done all different things. Other teams, have just sat back and hit a little bit. I would like this team - and I've told these guys in the interview process - is to be "situationally sound," is what I call it. I would like us to have everything in the bag, like a golf bag. We've got to be able to do everything. That's the ultimate team. I'd like to have guys that can run, can handle the bat, some big boys in the middle - which we do, with Trumbo and Goldie. Those are nice pieces to start with.
But we have to make sure, offensively, defensively, base-running, pitching, we can handle these things. Can we handle the running game from some teams? You're seeing it in the playoffs right now, there are teams that are winning because of the running game. Those are things that are coming back into the game, which is great for me. It's more stuff to drill these guys on, and get them ready.
How are you going to "get a little more out of each guy"?
Well, basically, as the CEO of the staff, and I say "we", because we're going to put together the best staff that we can put together. We're going to look within the organization, out of the organization and find the guys that fit with the group we want to have here. I will get more out of their coaches, than they think they can give, and they'll get more out of the players. It'll be my responsibility to make sure everybody is getting a little more, But it's really each coach is going to do a great job. We have some people here, Dave McKay, sitting here, is the best first-base coach and baserunning coach in baseball in my opinion. Guys like that are going to find a way to extract a little bit more out of them. It's basically over-achieving, but you never know what you can do until you push them a little bit harder.
Have you given any thought to the staff?
We're in the process right now, of talking about everybody that's here. Like I said, we have to make sure we check all the boxes. We'll talk about everybody, but we haven't come to a conclusion about anybody yet. I obviously just said something about Dave, so I hope he'll be able to come back. There are a lot of good guys on the staff right now; it could look very similar, but we'll just have to see after we go over it. I got Dave Stewart to my right, Tony La Russa to my left, I got Luis Gonzalez here, DeJon, we've got some great people and we've already brainstormed on names, about different things. It would be foolish for me not to listen to everything.
Can you ascertain the present culture of the Diamondbacks and what you would like it to be?
People always asked me in Oakland, how do you guys have such a great clubhouse? When you win, the clubhouse is pretty good: guys are happy. It's professional baseball, and when you win, you're happy. We're going to learn here, if we lose a game, we understand why we lost it, we turn the page and move on. I don't know the current culture right now. I feel like I'm very good friends with Kirk Gibson: we were very close on Bob Melvin's staff. I know he is one of the hardest workers in baseball, and I would never say anything bad toward what he did, because I know what he was trying to do.But when you get injuries and losses start to mount up, it's very difficult to maintain a good culture.
So I'm guess what I'm saying is, we need to win. But we'll start with it in spring training, and see if we can grow it, and get these guys to really believe in themselves again. Because it is hard. When you lose, it becomes just like winning: you get it rolling and it gets going, and when you lose, it can do the other thing. We need to stop it and move on.