On Saturday morning, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced the hiring of former manager and recent Hall of Fame inductee, Tony La Russa, to the position of Chief Baseball Officer, to oversee the day-to-day baseball operations of the team. The move is the first of what may turn into a full house-cleaning by owner Ken Kendrick. With the team off to a 16-28 start, buried in last place in the West, questions and rumors have been flying for weeks concerning GM Kevin Towers and Manager Kirk Gibson. Now, MLB’s third all-time winningest manger is being brought into the newly created position to help in the evaluation process.
La Russa, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer, reunites with his long-time pitching coach, Dave Duncan, who already serves as a pitching “adviser” for the club. He also becomes Kevin Towers immediate boss. It has been reported that La Russa had been exploring possibilities of getting back into baseball after his retirement from managing, and he apparently took a look at the Seattle Mariners this past off-season. He brings more than 50 combined years of baseball experience to the position.
As to what exactly his role will be, that remains to be seen. Only the coming weeks and months will reveal that. But, in-line with all of the speculation to date, it is assumed that he’s going to be ridding himself of those directly responsible for this teams embarrassing start to the season. And the guy at the very front of the ‘fault’ line is Kevin Towers. It’s thought that he is basically resigned to his fate, and so is toeing the company line here, rather than objecting to a new guy on his turf.
The biggest question may be what will be done with Kirk Gibson. No one is sure how much blame is being laid at his feet over the D’Backs performance to date. Ultimately, they will likely both be shown the door, as La Russa, without any particular allegiance to either guy, will likely decide to bring in his own people.
All that IS known for sure is that more changes will be coming, and whatever they are, it’s pretty certain they’re overdue. Two seasons of mediocrity, followed up by this current season’s mess demands it.