Could Tony LaRussa step in and manage the Diamondbacks this season?
Honestly, probably not. There’s no evidence to support that the team is considering anybody but Chip Hale for the position. But hey, it’s a slow news day. So let’s speculate one scenario where this may not actually be that far fetched:
The Diamondbacks have a lot invested in this season. They have zero margin for error. Arizona has parted ways with key prospects and mortgaged away their future to contend over the next three seasons. So if the Diamondbacks are failing to meet expectations within the first 50-60 games, don’t be surprised if Chip Hale gets put on the hot seat– or is even fired.
Let’s say the Diamondbacks are 31-33 in early June. There are going to be calls for Chip Hale’s head. He may very well be fired for stumbling out of the gate.
If he does get fired, the team would have several options. The ideal in-staff candidate would be bench coach Glenn Sherlock, who has been with the team since its inception. External options would presumably include somebody like Ron Gardenhire or Bud Black. Jose Canseco would probably tweet his interest in the job too. But could LaRussa leave the front office for the bench?
This is unlikely. LaRussa went out on top with the Cardinals in 2011 and is now 71 years old.
However, he has helped build this team as the Chief Baseball Officer. If he decides he is the team’s best option to win, who knows? The late Flip Saunders did exactly this with the NBA’s Timberwolves three years ago. LaRussa would immediately bring credibility back to the team and could potentially maximize the talent acquired this offseason. You don’t win 2,728 games by accident. If he wanted the job, he would probably have it.
LaRussa would immediately become the oldest active manager in the game and only the fifth manager over 70 in major league history. But a move like this would not be unprecedented– Jack McKeon was 73 when he took over a 16-22 Marlins team that eventually won it all.
The odds of Tony LaRussa managing the Diamondbacks this season are only slightly higher than the odds of Taylor Swift managing the Diamondbacks this season. Chip Hale presided over a 15-win improvement last season so there will be no rush to fire him. But if the Diamondbacks struggle out of the gate, don’t be surprised if LaRussa’s name is floated around for the managerial job– even if he does not return.