On behalf of Diamondbacks fans, congratulations on the new job and welcome to Arizona. We're glad to have you - mostly on the basis that you aren't Kevin Towers. I know it's your first time being General Manager of a franchise, so figured we should offer some helpful tips from a fan perspective, to ease your transition from the world of agency.
1. There's no rush
The last thing I want to hear in your introductory press-conference is waffle about how we're going to contend in 2015. Because we've been hearing that for the past three years, and what we actually saw is a death-spiral down to where we're on pace for the second-worst record in franchise history. You needn't worry about attracting bandwagon fans, because there aren't any left. They've all been burned off by the white-hot intensity of the suckage this year. The only ones left following are the hardcore devotees, and we aren't going anywhere. I'd rather see a well-considered plan and slow progression, than more broken promises of immediate contention.
2. No, really: there's no rush
That can't be stressed enough, for it wasn't a hurricane that wrecked this team: it was more like years of incremental subsidence. While there are any number of major issues with the team as currently constructed, it took three years to go from National League West champions to the worst record in the major leagues. And the last time the latter happened (2004), it took three years to go back to becoming champions. So, for Fox's sake [Fox Sports Arizona's sake, in particular], do not sell the farm for "proven talent" in a misguided effort to propel the team from last to first in 2015. It probably won't work, and you'll just exacerbate an already bad situation.
3, Learn from your successes and mistakes. Better yet, learn from KT's.
We don't expect infallibility. Stuff will go wrong. Players will be injured, trades won't work out, prospects will flame out. Stuff happens; file the results away and use it to make better decisions next time. The good news is, you are inheriting a team that literally cannot sink lower: we are already the worst in the majors. You could do absolutely nothing, and we'd probably be better in 2015, simply through health and experience. You don't have previous full-on GM experience yourself, but can learn a lot from the 2012-2014 Diamondbacks - a great tutorial in what not to do.
For instance, after the 2011 team won the division, Towers apparently failed to notice that it was the young players who broke out and powered that title run: of the five to put up better than 2.5 bWAR for the season, none were older than 27. Instead of building on this youth movement, it somehow led to Arizona signing multi-year contracts over the increasingly dismal campaigns which followed, with players on the wrong side of the aging curve. Jason Kubel. Cody Ross. Aaron Hill, Martin Prado. Bronson Arroyo. J.J. Putz. What particularly irks fans, is people who don't learn when they get burned, and repeat the same mistakes, again and again.
4. As fans, we love homegrown players. Love them too.
If you look at the current team, the favorite players on the roster are almost entirely ones who were rookies here: Goldschmidt, Collmenter, Pollock, Montero, etc. For no logical reason - it's not as if they chose to play for Arizona - there's a particular attachment to those kinds of players in fandom. Certainly, in the event of failure, you will be given a great deal more slack running out a roster of draftees and prospects than veteran free-agents, because the former can legitimately be argued as building for the future. After some questionable trades dealing away the future for "win now" players e.g. Cahill and Trumbo, err on the side of youth and we'll still be behind you.
5. Know what you can control and what you can't
I've a suspicion winning the 2011 NL West title was perhaps the worst thing that could have happened for the Diamondbacks, convincing those in charge that they had all the answers. They then spent the next three years trying to recapture that lightning in a bottle, when the 2011 team were 28-16 in one-run games, but only 19-16 in blowouts (5+ run margins) - indicating a good, not brilliant team, which got kinda lucky. Don't go chasing elusive beasts like clutchiness and chemistry either, or inconsequentials like cutting back on strikeouts either. Concentrate on sound fundamentals like OBP, and hope the fringe stuff takes care of itself.
6. It's a lot better to say too little than too much
I'm probably not the only fan who, by the end of Towers' tenure, was cringing every time he was quoted. Certainly, I enjoyed the forthrightness, and some was the result of deliberate misinterpretation from quarters with an ax to grind - I know well enough how that works. But a good chunk of it was KT saying things that probably would have been best not said, e.g. retaliating against opposing batters. Dave, you are a GM, not a website author, and so do not have to generate click-throughs to the Diamondbacks website. Let your moves and W-L record speak on your behalf, and please leave any potentially controversial statements to some other team's GM.
7. Clean house
This year has been an extraordinarily rough one to be a D-backs fan, in just about every way, and as a group, we're ready and eager for a new broom to come in and make a fresh start. The franchise needs to break with a past that didn't work, and go in a new direction. If that means collateral damage, in the form of some "innocent" people - perhaps most obviously, Kirk Gibson - losing their jobs, so be it. This is an area where fans don't want caution: if you have been involved with the major-league club this season, you are part of the problem, far more than you are part of the solution, and should likely be future endeavored as a result.
8. Good luck
I can't really claim to be part of a "long-suffering" fandom - not after one losing season, when one-third of teams have longer post-season droughts than the Diamondbacks. But what this trough may lack in length, it has certainly made up for in depth. It won't be easy to climb up: you'll need smarts, hard work and no small element of good fortune in order to do so. When it comes to the first two, we must rely on Tony La Russa's judgment that you are the right man for the job. So all we can do is wish you the best of luck: we look forward to seeing the results on the field in 2015, and hopefully down the road, a return to the post-season for the franchise we love.