When the Diamondbacks re-shuffled their front office, changing Tony La Russa’s title from “chief baseball officer” to “chief baseball analyst and adviser,” they also worked out a new contract, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. That makes sense, given that La Russa’s original pact reportedly expired at the end of the season. The new arrangement’s key details — compensation and term, in particular — haven’t yet been reported. It’s clear, though, that La Russa will no longer control baseball operations decisionmaking and is destined for a role that is more advisory in nature.
Here’s more from Arizona and the rest of the western divisions:
- New Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen provided a bit more insight into his strategic thinking with the offseason set to begin in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (via Twitter). Rival executives have yet to reach out to open a dialogue, says Hazen, who emphasized both that he’s undertaking a close look at the team’s internal situation and readying to hit the ground running. “Getting a firm understand of what is here is important to me,” he said. “But we’re not going to hesitate.”
- The incoming GM also addressed the team’s upcoming managerial search in his chat with MLB Network Radio (Twitter links). “We are looking for an impact leader” in the dugout, he said. “The game is evolving, somebody that is looking forward to embracing that evolution.” At present, Arizona is “working through a candidate list,” but won’t rush into a hiring. “This is a critical decision and we’re going to take our time and get it right,” said Hazen.
- Intial speculation for the open skipper gig has focused on Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, an oft-cited managerial candidate who has obvious ties with Hazen, who was hired out of Boston. But the new Arizona general manager declined to comment on his potential candidacy directly, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. Hazen also offered some interesting observations on the Red Sox’ ability to maintain continuity even in the midst of change, which could certainly inform the way that he approaches his tenure with the D-Backs.
- Hazen was a wise hire, ESPN.com’s Keith Law argues in an Insider piece. The veteran executive has extensive experience in both traditional and more contemporary approaches to the game, and earns high marks around the game for his management style.
- Still, Law notes, the move is yet another reminder that MLB’s initiatives to improve the representation of minorities in the upper reaches of front offices have yet to gain significant traction. He argues that the league needs to find a way to get more talented minority persons into the types of lower-level positions that ultimately serve as feeders to upper-level decisionmaking roles. One way to do that, Law suggests, is to prohibit unpaid internships — which tend to be occupied by those who can afford not to do paid work for a stretch (i.e., as he puts it, “generally the same kids from privileged backgrounds and expensive private schools who seem to be receiving an undue share of the upper-level jobs in baseball”).