On Saturday, Tony La Russa became the second Chief Baseball Officer in baseball history when he accepted the position with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Needless to say, the move sent ripples across the baseball landscape, and it has left many — both locally and nationally — still trying to make sense of it all.
What does it mean? What are the implications? What level of authority is in place?
But ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian has a fairly simple explanation for the hire.
“Well, this is what you do when you’re 13 games under .500 and 10 games out,” he told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns & Gambo show on Wednesday. “You hire the best guy available and bring him in and say, ‘Tell us what we’re missing here.'”
Kurkjian seemed to have little doubt that La Russa was that guy — the best available to the Diamondbacks.
“And Tony La Russa is great at things like this,” he went on. “He has as discerning an eye as basically anyone I’ve ever run across.”
But, despite the sensible explanation, even Kurkjian was taken aback by the move a little — not by the Diamondbacks’ search for such an executive, but by La Russa’s decision.
“I’m surprised Tony is back in a position like this this quickly,” he said. “But he loves a challenge and he’s got one here.”
Immediately after the hire, speculation began on the job security of general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. Kurkjian weighed in on the possibility of a departure, specifically for the D-backs’ GM.
“That’s likely, obviously, if they don’t turn it around significantly,” he said. “And I don’t see them turning it around significantly.
“If one of the two is going to take the fall first, it would probably be Towers, but we have a long way to go on this still and that’s not to say either one of them is safe.”