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Tony La Russa Rumors
There’s been no shortage of coverage on the Diamondbacks since the surprising news that they’d hired Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa as their new Chief Baseball Officer. Earlier today, one report indicated that opposing teams aren’t even sure whether La Russa or GM Kevin Towers is the go-to contact for trade negotiations. Here’s the latest on their leadership situation…
- Towers appeared on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM earlier today and said that he’s currently not sure how the labor will be broken down among the front office (98.7′s Vince Marotta has highlights and full audio available). The GM said he’s been on a scouting trip and will know more once he is able to sit down and talk with La Russa. Towers said he’s assuming the only current change is that he will report to La Russa instead of CEO Derrick Hall and is hoping not much will change. “I certainly don’t want to be a pseudo-GM,” he said.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney offers a different take in today’s edition of his Insider-only blog (subscription required). “[T]he simple truth,” Olney writes, “is that Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers lost his power when Arizona hired Tony La Russa.” Olney looks back at the surprising lack of stability in Arizona’s front office despite relatively strong success with a modest payroll. He writes that history tells us Arizona ownership will eventually get fed up with La Russa and turn on him.
- Olney’s colleague, Jerry Crasnick, says that one name to watch in potential managerial searches under La Russa’s watch will be Joe McEwing (Twitter link). Currently the third base coach for the White Sox, the former Mets utility player goes back a long way with La Russa.
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez underwent his Tommy John surgery earlier today, and everything “went as expected,” writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The surgery was performed by Dr. Keith Meister, who performs most of the club’s surgeries. As the Rangers look to deal with that blow to their rotation, here’s more from baseball’s Western divisions…
- For the time being, Padres ace Andrew Cashner has avoided joining Perez on the list of series elbow injuries. Cashner underwent an MRI today, and while that test has conditioned the public to fear the worst, GM Josh Byrnes issued the following statement via press release: “After performing an MRI today on Andrew’s right elbow, our doctors have indicated to me that he has elbow soreness and irritation. Based on our doctors’ recommendation we will be proceeding with rest and rehabilitation for his recovery.”
- Though the Angels will soon need to make roster moves to get Kole Calhoun, David Freese and Dane De La Rosa back on the active roster, releasing struggling DH Raul Ibanez isn’t likely, reports MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. General manager Jerry Dipoto wouldn’t say Ibanez will not be released, Gonzalez writes, but he expressed that the team will remain patient and voiced confidence in the aging slugger: “Raul has a track record. He has done this before. He has gone through cold spells, and he has gotten hot. There’s nobody here who believes Raul has had his last good days in the big leagues.”
- Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall “can hardly stop pinching [himself]” after the team’s hiring of Tony La Russa as its new chief baseball officer, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. La Russa drew interest from multiple clubs for an executive role and turned down at least one offer, feeling that he wasn’t needed with that team, Heyman adds. He also writes that manager Kirk Gibson has close to a clean slate following the La Russa hire, and that La Russa will give Gibson and GM Kevin Towers until at least season’s end to help get the Snakes back on track.
Ten years ago today, the Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson tossed a perfect game against the Braves. The Big Unit was fairly blunt when asked to reflect upon his gem by MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “That’s the one thing that I’ve noticed since I’ve stopped playing baseball is that I’m getting older, because time just doesn’t stop,” Johnson said. “Next thing you know we’re having a 10-year anniversary for the World Series and now a 10-year anniversary for my perfect game. It just doesn’t seem that long ago that I threw that perfect game. Although it does feel like 10 years as far as me remembering details of it, because I don’t remember many of the details of the game.” Johnson (owner of 303 wins, five Cy Young Awards, and second place on the all-time strikeout list) will be on his first Hall of Fame ballot next year and is keeping busy in retirement with photography and traveling in support of the USO.
In news and notes from the National League’s West Division:
- The Giants discussed the idea of hiring Tony LaRussa, but there wasn’t a fit since the team is happy with their baseball decision-makers and the Hall of Fame manager wasn’t interested in a strictly advisory role, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Sulia).
- The Dodgers will face a roster crunch when Hyun-jin Ryu is activated from the disabled list Wednesday, writes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Paul Maholm, who replaced Ryu in the starting rotation, will shift to the bullpen, so the Dodgers may have to keep 13 pitchers because their current relievers either have guaranteed contracts and cannot be optioned to the minors (Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, J.P. Howell, and Jamey Wright) or have prominent late-inning roles (Kenley Jansen and Chris Withrow).
- Corey Brock of MLB.com chronicles the travels of Padres reliever Kevin Quackenbush, who has shuttled back-and-forth between San Diego and Triple-A El Paso five times since April 25. “This is where I want to be, so every time I’m up here, it’s a blessing,” the 25-year-old right-hander said. “It is something to laugh about a bit, I guess. But it’s still exciting.“
5:34pm: LaRussa receives a multi-year deal, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). The club had been exploring the possibility of a change in the baseball ops department for about a month.
5:16pm: Team president and CEO Derrick Hall says that Arizona interviewed several other candidates, some of whom would have occupied a similar role to that now handed to LaRussa and others who would have taken over at general manager, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter).
While that certainly raises some additional doubt as to Towers’ situation, Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes on Twitter that LaRussa is expected to exercise patience in determining the path forward and will likely not take action on Towers and/or Gibson until late in the season.
In terms of what LaRussa’s role will be, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (Twitter link) analogizes it to that of Theo Epstein with the Cubs, noting that it has some crossover with the former position of Nolan Ryan with the Rangers. Hall says that LaRussa will have “final say” over “any decisions that will be made from the personnel side,” tweets Steve Berthiaume of MLB.com.
11:40am: The Diamondbacks announced that they have appointed Tony La Russa as their Chief Baseball Officer. La Russa will report to team president & CEO Derrick Hall and oversee the entire baseball operations department.
“The entire organization is obviously frustrated with the results on the field and we are looking to improve,” Hall said in the press release. “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.”
After an active offseason, the Diamondbacks find themselves at the bottom of the NL West with a 16-28 record, putting them 11.5 games behind the first-place Giants. As a big league manager, La Russa won three World Series titles, six League Championships, 12 division titles, and was a four-time Manager of the Year. He was previously working as a Special Assistant to Commissioner Bud Selig.
It remains to be seen how La Russa’s arrival will impact Towers and Gibson. Towers has been Arizona’s GM since September of 2010. Gibson was appointed interim manager in July 2010 and was promoted to the permanent role after the season.