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What is Tony La Russa’s job with the Diamondbacks, exactly?

Jun 24, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

Tony La Russa AP

We’re a month into Tony La Russa’s tenure as the Diamondbacks’ chief baseball officer and because that position has never actually existed with any other team before no one seems quite sure what the job entails.

La Russa included, apparently, as the Hall of Fame manager tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:

I think the most critical thing is, this job has never been done anywhere, so I’ve never done this job. So we’re a month or whatever it is into it and I’ve done it every day and my responsibilities are getting more crystallized in my own mind. You simplify it: It’s who’s playing for the Diamondbacks and, secondly, it’s how they play. That’s kind of the responsibility that I’ve been given, and I’m going to share it with people in the organization. We’re going to look at who’s playing and we’re going to coach them.

Yeah, see that doesn’t really clarify much of anything.

Piecoro also asked La Russa what happens when another team wants to engage in some trade talk with the Diamondbacks. Do they call La Russa or do they call general manager Kevin Towers?

If they’re interested in talking to the Diamondbacks, they can call either one of us and we’re going to talk to each other. As a matter of fact, there was one gentleman who called and left a message for both of us, which I think is the smartest thing. But we’re going to communicate and we are communicating.

That also seems confusing, although most likely other teams have come to the same conclusion that just about everyone else seems to have, which is that La Russa is in charge and, at some point in the relatively near future, may be deciding to fire Towers (and manager Kirk Gibson) anyway.

Piecoro’s whole article is definitely worth reading, if only to be able to compare the current “plan” with what happens if/when the Diamondbacks’ front office begins to unravel.

  1. stex52 - Jun 24, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    I thought at first the Snakes were just competing with the Astros for “most baseball guys hired with silly new titles.”

    But I think you can read between the lines pretty easily from Tony’s comments. Kevin is about to get a chance to “pursue other interests.” I would assume Kirk, who is no baseball genius, will follow a little while later (maybe even the off-season).

    Now here is the interesting part. We have asked before on this site if La Russa really has the skills to be front office. I guess we are going to get a chance to see, no matter what his title is.

    • paperlions - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      At least with the Astros, each guy that is hired knows what his job is, even if the title may seem esoteric.

      • stex52 - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        Agreed. Just thought I would take a cheap shot.

        But I’m still not sure if they aren’t trying too hard with the “cutting edge” stuff. (The Astros, that is.) The piggy-back pitching in the minors has definitely set a couple of their young guys back in their development.

      • paperlions - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        Well, if there was ever a time to experiment with ideas, an organization starting from scratch is probably the time.

        Piggy backing starters isn’t new, but it is usually restricted to the lower minors. Few guys in short-season or developmental leagues throw more than 4-5 innings/start…but that is usually where it stops as older guys can safely handle the bigger loads.

  2. gbrim - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    La Russa will call the shots with the ‘CBO’ title. Someone other than Towers, maybe Montgomery, who is highly regarded in house, will get the GM title and function as the player development guy, effectively assistant GM in normal terminology. Gibby may or may not last, but the Snakes already had some old La Russa buddies floating around before he was hired (Duncan is pitching guru on call, McKay is first base coach), so changes in the on-field team may not be dramatic. DBacks have been excellent at player development in the minors (Montgomery’s expertise, which La Russa has already acknowledged he lacks). Stop Towers’ stupid trades and Kendrick’s legendary impatience forcing ‘win now’ every time they show a glimpse of promise, and La Russa will succeed, whatever his title is.

  3. proudlycanadian - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Wasn’t he brought in to be the glue that holds the grits together in order to make them palatable.

    • nsauser - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Grits are best served cold.

  4. gloccamorra - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Judging by the effect in the Diamondbacks’ front office, he’s the Grim Reaper, walking around and deciding who will get transported across the River Styx.

  5. lukedunphysscienceproject - Jun 24, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Well, somebody has to pay attention to who’s playing for the Diamondbacks.

    • gbrim - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM

      As a DBacks fan who has watched the Byrnes and Towers regimes, its been awhile since anyone has been paying attention to the major league roster in AZ. Might actually work, given their consistently strong player development track record.

  6. kylewo - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Does anyone think that Towers and Gibson will be back next year?

    • gloccamorra - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      I wouldn’t even count on the bat boys or grounds crew returning. When Tony La Russa is in control, He’s. In. Control.

  7. drewsylvania - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Not sure we can ever trust Tony’s word on anything.

  8. uwsptke - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    In my mind, he’s sort of assumed the role of Darth Sidious/Emperor with Gibson taking on the role of his apprentice.

    Gibson: “What is thy bidding… my master?”

    LaRussa: “You must strike down the Milwaukee Brewers and crush their insignificant rebellion! And anyone else who dares to defy the unwritten rules and the Old Ways.”

    Gibson: “Yes, my master.”

    LaRussa: “Also, it would be super cool if you became ultra-obsessed with Ryan Braun and threw at him a few times a year.”

  9. mazblast - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Towers’ job is on the line unless he keeps Tony’s liquor cabinet perpetually well-stocked.

  10. tedwest - Jun 24, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    La Russa’s job is so easy, yet in typical Diamondbacks fashion, he hasn’t done it – fire Towers and The Gibbon yesterday.

  11. tmc602014 - Jun 24, 2014 at 7:20 PM

    La Russa said of Gibson in the article, “In our generation, this guy managing this club was one of the best team leaders — tied for first for best team leaders anywhere.” Is that the dreaded vote of confidence or a true bon mot? And even more important – who was the other “best team leader”?

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