On Saturday, the Diamondbacks announced that Tony La Russa will take a newly-created position within the organization: Chief Baseball Officer. The entire baseball operations branch of the club’s front office will now report to La Russa – including General Manager Kevin Towers. We applaud this decision.
Although La Russa has never had a front office position before, we believe his track record of success, unquestionable baseball acumen and willingness to think about baseball in new and innovative ways will be a welcome change for an organization that has gotten off track.
We believe Kevin Towers has inappropriately and inaccurately emphasized player types at different times – in some cases, reversing course with his priorities for the on-field Diamondbacks product. We believe CEO Derrick Hall is an excellent businessman and excellent steward for the team, but that Hall may not have been fully equipped to supervise baseball operations personnel. As an extension of Derrick Hall’s leadership, we believe La Russa will help to close that gap, which can only help the organization.
We maintain reservations about Kevin Towers as General Manager, particularly in appearing to ignore or greatly marginalize analytics in decision making processes. We hope that the hiring of La Russa is not perceived by Hall and the Diamondbacks ownership group as a solution that will, on its own, fix what may be broken. Nonetheless, we are relieved to find that the organization did conclude that change was needed.
Questions remain about La Russa’s role in the organization and how willing he may be to make changes. What are specific goals of La Russa’s work? Is the organization genuinely open to keeping the current GM and manager? It appears from La Russa’s comments that he will be careful and deliberate in his new position, which is a welcome change for a club that seems to have lost patience in the last offseason. We believe that under La Russa’s leadership, the team may be in a better position to compete in the long term – even if the hiring of La Russa may not have been intentioned as a long term solution.
The foregoing is an editorial by the Inside the ‘Zona staff.
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Previously on The Pool Shot, the guys explained some of their favorite advanced stats. Hitting, including wRC+, HHAV and batted ball; pitching (38:00), including FIP, xFIP and SIERA; and baserunning and defense, including UBR, UZR and DRS (58:00).