The Diamondbacks introduced new general manager Mike Hazen today, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. While there wasn’t much in the way of specifics on offer, the team’s top brass did talk through some general approaches and also addressed the still-undefined role of re-positioned executive Tony La Russa, Piecoro further reports.
Hazen enters the fold with a broad mandate as he takes the reins from the outgoing Dave Stewart. Though he was the last executive interviewed by the organization, things came together in a matter of days. “Clearly, in the case of Mike, everybody agrees he’s the right guy,” said president and CEO Derrick Hall. “So you have to let him do his job. That’s the goal.”
Hall and his boss, owner Ken Kendrick, expressed confidence in their new hire. Hall explained that Hazen will look to build a sustainable contender, with a “well-balanced” approach. The long-time Red Sox executive impressed with his breakdown of the organization, presenting a “vision” that the organization’s top leadership found compelling.
The incoming GM will take over final authority over the baseball decisionmaking for the organization, whereas Stewart had reported to La Russa. While the Hall of Fame skipper will stay in the organization — which was no sure thing after Stewart, VP DeJon Watson, and manager Chip Hale were all cut loose — he’ll do so in a diminished capacity.
La Russa was involved in the GM hiring process even after he was ordered to fire Stewart and was stripped of his title of chief baseball officer. But he’ll now work under the lesser title of chief baseball analyst and adviser, and will join Hazen in reporting to Hall, who says there’ll be “a dotted line” between the two men. “Mike needs to know everything that [La Russa is] doing and be comfortable with it,” Hall explained, adding that the relationship between La Russa and a new manager will also require “an understanding on both sides at what that role is.”
The precise nature of the relationship between Hazen and La Russa remains to be seen, but it seems that the former will attempt to embrace the latter’s experience. “I know that the game is moving in a particular direction with the buzzword of analytics,” Hazen explained. “(But) there’s no replacing the softer parts of the game, the knowledge of how to manage a human being. … “Those things I’m confident that Tony’s going to be able to help with and I look forward to hearing what he has to say on all those things.” La Russa struck a similar tone, saying: “I think there’s a real place in front offices for guys that have uniform experience, just so you can help balance the metrics (with) some of that baseball expertise that’s come along for 100 years.”
Indeed, though he has spent much of his time in a Boston organization that obviously values analytics, Hazen stressed his roots in scouting and player development. As for the team’s many upcoming offseason decisions, Hazen largely demurred. “I don’t have a defined view just yet,” he said. “It would be irresponsible for me at this point to sort of say exactly how we’re going to attack the roster.” That’s understandable enough, given that he hasn’t yet dug into his new job, and he did notethat offseason opportunities will have an impact on the organization’s direction. “We’ll have more concrete answers on that as we move through the offseason,” he said. “We’ll see what the landscape is in the marketplace.”