Hinch's second chance
The last time a team hired A.J. Hinch as manager, in May 2009, it became an industry punch line.
Then-Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes named Hinch, a former catcher with no previous managerial experience, to replace Bob Melvin – and lauded Hinch’s ability, as the team’s former farm director, to provide “organizational advocacy” in his new role.
That was the punch line, uttered over and over as the D-backs continued to stumble. Hinch, then 34, lasted 212 games before getting fired along with Byrnes on July 1, 2010. Now he will be the manager of the Astros, a team that frequently is the butt of industry jokes. But this time, his hiring makes more sense.
For one thing, managers are almost always better in their second jobs than they were in their first – Terry Francona was a classic example, Lloyd McClendon a more recent one.
Hinch, now 40, gained high-level front-office experience serving as an assistant GM and interim GM with the Padres. He also interviewed with the Astros when they hired his predecessor, Bo Porter, after the 2012 season. So, he is familiar with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, well-versed with the team’s emphasis on statistical analysis.
Best of all, Hinch is inheriting a team that improved from 51 wins in 2013 to 70 in ’14, a team that boasts some of the best young talent in the game.
No joke this time. Hinch could be the right man for the job.