No Duh: Kirk Gibson Is NL Manager Of The Year
The Former MVP And World Series Champion Adds First Trophy As A Manager In First Year At Helm Of Dbacks
By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 25, 2011 — If Kirk Gibson was not named National League Manager of the Year, it is likely that thousands, then maybe 40, people might have occupied Cesar Chavez plaza in downtown Phoenix to protest the biggest sham in history.
Wait, that is something else entirely.
OK, so maybe no one would have taken to the streets like the Occupy Phoenix crowd, but if Gibson did not win the NL Manager of the Year Award, it would have been a tragedy of epic proportions. Sure, Gibson himself probably would not have ever said a word about it because that is the kind of team-first guy he is, but it still would have been wrong.
The guy was clearly the best manager in baseball in 2011 and the statistics and the numbers bear it out.
The last year of the Josh Byrnes era — which included removing credible baseball man Bob Melvin with schlep AJ Hinch — saw the Diamondbacks finish with a 65-97 record. In 2011, Gibson — and of course, the players and the rest of the organization — did almost a complete reversal. The 94-68 record in 2011 was the best finish since 2002.
Sure, Gibson had a bullpen and some good weapons in the rotation, but it was that he inspired them with energy and determination that made all the difference. They stayed level-headed, focused and won the NL West in a year that everyone though they would end up in the cellar.
Was the guy perfect? Hell no.
But who is? It’s all about how much good you do and Gibson certainly did some good. He began during Spring Training with demanding that these guys work their assess off to get better. The, as the season went on, he massaged them, their egos and their stamina to win the NL West running away.
Some criticized decisions he made, but that comes with the territory. Any of the decisions that were questioned could have just as easily gone the other way. When a team loses in 10 innings in the NLDS, it happens.
So congratulations, Gibby. You and your boys worked hard and were rewarded with a magical season.
Now, the hard part begins. Next year, the Diamondbacks will not sneak up on anyone. They will be the defending National League West champions and most likely, they will be picked to repeat as the “experts” are so dimwitted that they make predictions based solely on recent past success or failure.
But repeating might be even harder than winning the division the first time. Just ask the San Francisco Giants. The Dbacks were pretty lucky on the injury front this year — they lost only one full-time starter, Stephen Drew, for the season.
The Diamondbacks, though have a brighter future than the Giants did after winning it all in 2010. They had great pitching but circumspect and aging defense and offense. The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, have a plethora of young, quality arms and bats. A full year of Upton, Montero, Goldschmidt might see the heart of the Dbacks order resembling a latter day Murderer’s Row.
A repeat as NL West champs might also bring one other repeat.
The NL manager of the year for 2012.
Bob Goodwood is a freelance writer currently living in Scottsdale, Ariz.