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Diamondbacks hire Tony La Russa as Chief Baseball Officer

May 17, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT

Tony La Russa AP AP

In the midst of a disappointing 16-28 start, the Diamondbacks announced that they’ve hired Tony La Russa as Chief Baseball Officer.

The 69-year-old Hall of Famer, three-time World Series-winning manager, and four-time Manager of the Year will work alongside team president and chief executive officer Derrick Hall, who issued the following statement:

The entire organization is obviously frustrated with the results on the field and we are looking to improve. Tony brings us a wealth of knowledge, experience and success, and will work closely with [general manager Kevin Towers] and [manager Kirk Gibson] in evaluating our current state to determine the future of our baseball operations. He is excited and enthusiastic about the challenge, and we are fortunate to have this Hall of Famer on board and a part of the team.

It’s hard to imagine this not eventually leading to general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson being let go considering how poorly the team has performed and the fact that La Russa will presumably want to shake things up by bringing in his own people.

  1. gbrim - May 17, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Hopefully this is a sign that the ownership rep (Kendrick) will step back from his impatient, meddling ways. Kendrick has caused them to trade away the farm system to win now under two different GMs. Disastrous results in both cases. La Russa wouldn’t take this job without the clout to ignore such pressure. Time for a rebuild with a pro at the helm.

    • paperlions - May 17, 2014 at 2:15 PM

      Actually, I think it is a sign that the ownership rep continues to be highly meddling. Yeah, the start is disappointing, but much of it can be attributed to injuries and a small sample size. If they thought the attitude and approach of Towers and Gibson were the way to go 2 months ago, nothing has happened that should have changed their minds.

      Going, “Oh no, we’ve had a horrible 6 weeks, like add more cooks to the kitchen” is not evidence of ownership stepping back, but of them getting more involved…..especially when you hire a guy whose experience is pretty much restricted to managing (not coaching, not scouting, not player development, not trading, not drafting). LaRussa may be able to provide some insights, but his skill set isn’t exactly a match for the weaknesses the organization has demonstrated the last couple of years.

      • gbrim - May 17, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        Too early to tell if you are right. You could be. However, La Russa is reporting to Hall who used to be completely removed from baseball operations. When Kendrick took over for ownership Hall as prez was in charge of everything except baseball operations. Now they report to him, too.

        Perhaps a sign Kendrick is pulling back, voluntarily or at the request of his fellow owners. We will find out soon enough and I will hope for the best.

      • paperlions - May 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        The Diamondback fans, I hope you are right. It would be one thing if he was hired as a consultant. I really don’t know what “Chief Baseball officer” means…but that sounds like a pretty influential position. If TLR gives advice that Towers/Gibson don’t agree with…are they free to do their jobs?

      • js20011041 - May 17, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        If this were another situation, I might agree with you. But given how erratic Towers’ moves have been and how impatient he has been with young players, I’d say that a decision that brings about his dismissal is more than warranted. Towers has had a BAD couple of off-seasons. Drafting Bauer and then trading him, ostensibly for reasons that were well documented before he was drafted, for less than his market value at the time. Then deciding to give up on Gregorius, the key return from the Bauer trade after one year. Trading Justin Upton for a Martin Prado. Giving up on Adam Eaton after a year. Trading Skaggs for Trumbo. Acquiring Addison Reed.

        He hasn’t just not made the Diamondbacks better. He’s made them worse. Most GMs would be hard pressed to do more to damage the organization if they were actively trying to.

        I’m more ambivalent towards Gibson. I don’t think he’s a bad manager, but at the same time, I think he’s been part of the driving force behind the grit over talent movement. If dumping him moves the team more toward a rational player acquisition model, I’d say that’s a good move.

      • paperlions - May 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Personally, I think Towers is horrible at his job (and Gibson is bad, but I’m pretty indifferent to him)…but Arizona did not think that, apparently. In which case, the record of this time frame should be irrelevant.

        I just mean that if the FO really thought that those moves were a good idea and the way to go….their current record shouldn’t have changed their minds.

      • moogro - May 17, 2014 at 6:51 PM

        I agree, paper. Adding a cook instead of firing the cooks adds more time before the real heat falls on the restaurant owner. It’s a desperate stalling tactic from someone who still wants to meddle behind the scenes without accountability.

  2. fnc111 - May 17, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Step in the right direction. Phoenix is in desperate need of a winning team. Get it started chief!

  3. luz56 - May 17, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Bye bye Towers… You’ve destroyed what farm system we’ve had here…

    Bye bye Gibson…. You’re gritty play didn’t translate to today’s players.. You need talent and pitching to win… Watching you at your press conference after each and every loss seriously I wonder if you have a drinking problem

    • NatsLady - May 17, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      Saw Gibson’s presser where he talked about Matt Williams when the Nats were there. Man, he looked stoned or shell-shocked, and that was BEFORE the game.

  4. chargrz - May 17, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    Towers needs to go!

  5. okwhitefalcon - May 17, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Nice to see The Godfather back in the game at a team level and rejoining his long time cohort Dave Duncan with the D-Backs.

    He made no bones about wanting a new challenge, preferably in a front office and out of the dugout.

    Arizona will definitely be a “challenge” – they’re a mess.

    Now waiting for the obligatory “drunk at a stoplight and/or PED” blast from the HBT clones….

  6. proudlycanadian - May 17, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    How soon will it be before we see people getting fired and grit being replaced by talent?

    • paperlions - May 17, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      LaRussa actually loves grit….he likes talent too, but he’s partial to grit….the problem is that the amount of talent (and viable assets) has been greatly diminished by Towers. It isn’t like talent acquisition is a skill LaRussa has….he may have had input, but asset management, scouting, player development, etc. aren’t things he’s had to do….maybe he is great at those things and just never had to do them. This will definitely be an interesting situation to watch.

      • proudlycanadian - May 17, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        I would prefer to think that TLR prefers True Grit rather than ordinary dirt.

      • paperlions - May 17, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        You can rest assured that such is the case.

  7. hoopmatch - May 17, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    So what is the chain of command here, Aaron? Is LaRussa the supervisor of Towers?

  8. cohnjusack - May 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    I don’t know how yet, but this will somehow lead to the Diamondbacks signing Aaron Miles.

  9. pappageorgio - May 17, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    Just Harry up and get it over with before Towers has a chance to trade Archie Bradley for a bag of baseballs.

    • paperlions - May 17, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      Hey now. That bag of balls is gritty. Every one of those balls is willing to be thrown at a hitter when need arises.

  10. docboss - May 17, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    Everything will be fine once the pitcher is moved to 8th in the batting order. Tony is ok as a manager, but, along with a STRONG GM, he can excel.

  11. nottinghamforest13 - May 18, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    Keith Law is at it again. Check out his write-up on this move. It’s filled with not so thinly veiled jabs and insults. When will he give up the grudge?

    • paperlions - May 18, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      I haven’t seen a write up from him. Link?

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