From the time that Tony La Russa was hired as chief baseball officer of the of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the “if” question seemed to become a “when.” Why hire La Russa if you’re satisfied with the job being done by Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson? His hiring alone makes it obvious the plan was to fire Towers and Gibson. Let me stress WAS.
It still may happen but it’s impossible to not read into the last two days of comments from the Diamondbacks’ front office. At a press conference to allow local media to speak to La Russa about his upcoming Hall of Fame induction, he made the joke that he wants to fire Gibby because of the 1988 World Series homer, alone. Bosses don’t joke about firing people with questionable job security.
Kevin Towers told us at the time of La Russa’s hiring, he wouldn’t stay on if he was a de facto GM. Last week, La Russa said that Towers had complete autonomy in making the Brandon McCarthy trade. Wednesday, Towers said he feels like he has complete power to carry out his plan for the upcoming trade deadline. Bosses don’t let soon-to-be-fired GMs completely run the ship.
A lot of D-backs fans were excited for the addition of Tony La Russa because it suggested upcoming upheaval. What if it doesn’t? What if a Hall-of-Fame manager that is respected by everyone in baseball decides the best course of action is stability? Fans would never have accepted that two months ago. Would they now? Would you?
La Russa’s joke about his manager and hands-off approach to his GM means only one thing. The decision still has not been made. The future is still being evaluated. The results of future games and trades are still part of the process.
Managers are fired because teams quit on them. The D-backs are 35-35 since the end of April. No, you can’t ignore April. You can assume, though, the players are still playing for Gibby or, at least, so professional that April results don’t affect individual preparation. Minus April, that’s three straight seasons of .500 baseball. It certainly isn’t good, but it’s not a disaster, either.
General managers are fired for any number of reasons. To be .500 with the massive injuries this year is a testament to the backups that the GM has acquired. None of Kevin Towers’ big moves have worked. However, none of Towers’ moves have been proven to be embarrassing to the family name. Only recently have Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer started to tip the scales against him.
It’s easy to compile a list of 500 pieces of evidence to prove Towers and/or Gibson should be fired. Believe it or not, it’s easy to do the same to prove they shouldn’t. Obviously, that’s exactly why this is a .500 team, which could be reason enough to bring in a new staff.
The big lesson learned this week, Towers and Gibson are still fighting for their jobs instead of facing a long, slow walk to the guillotine.