In Phoenix, the weather in particular has been an unusually hot these past couple weeks, nearly reaching triple digits- and it is only mid-April. However, for Head Coach Kirk Gibson, comparatively speaking to the seat he currently sits on, that weather would appear to be a cold front. It is just one month into this young baseball season, but Arizona Diamondback fans are becoming more and more restless, calling for someone to take responsibility for the worst start in their franchise history. And the crosshairs are placed directly on Kirk Gibson, who in past seasons has been known as a snake charmer, but now finds himself trapped in a deadly snake pit with only one way out: to win.
Hopes were high coming into this season as the Diamondbacks were 81-81 in back-to-back seasons and made critical off-season moves that were supposed to bolster the starting pitching staff and middle of the batting order. Due to early injuries and beyond disappointing starts by some players, the D-Backs coaching staff has had to make moves on the fly in order to try to fix the leaks in the ship that is sinking fast. The “ace” of the staff, Patrick Corbin, is missing the entire 2014 season with Tommy John surgery, which has forced the rest of the starting pitching rotation to pick up the slack.
Unfortunately, the projected number two starter in the rotation for the Diamondbacks, Trevor Cahill, has failed so miserably early on in the season (0-4, 8.68 ERA) that Gibson has had to reassign him to the bullpen. On top of that, the rest of the pitching staff- which includes $10 million arm Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 7.11 ERA) and $9.5 million vet Bronson Arroyo (1-1, 9.95 ERA) – has a combined ERA of 5.70. Short of Gibson coming out of the dugout to pitch every game himself, there is not much a head coach can really do other than the roster moves he has already attempted.
A lot of the anger and distress that is seen in Phoenix could be due in part to their home record to start the year. The Diamondbacks only have five measly wins to hang their hats on so far, but only one of these wins have come in front of the home crowd. If the Diamondbacks were still 5-14 on the year, but their home record (excluding the Australia games) was 5-5 as opposed to 1-9, fans may show a little more restraint in their calls for someone’s head.
Nobody wants to go see their home team get pummeled every game. It is a slap in the face to fans that have spent their hard-earned money to go watch their home team show zero fight as they lose every home game by an average of 3.66 runs/game, being shutout in three of them. As the D-Backs fail to win games, especially at home, there is no doubt fans will get more and more agitated at the thought of nothing more being done “personnel-wise” to right the ship.
Even if an early firing of Gibson is not called for due to the offseason personnel calls that were made above his pay grade (ahem, GM Towers) and the key injuries that soon followed the start of spring training, fans need some sort of accountability if his team continues to fail. Unfortunately for Gibson, the lack of effort, fight and wins from this team is something that even he cannot always control, but as it has always been and always will be, the lack of effort and performance is always an exact refection of the coaching staff. The team should be playing better and should show more fight. Or as D-Back fans have come accustomed to calling it these past few seasons- the team should be playing better “Gibby-Ball.”
There still are plenty of games for the Diamondbacks to play catch up. But as the outside temperature continues to rise during the dead of summer in Phoenix, so will the hot seat that Gibson currently resides on if the team does not show improvement soon.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles; The Snake Pit
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer for the Arizona Diamondbacks