Tony La Russa’s tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks has come to an end. The 73-year-old former St. Louis Cardinals manager will “depart” from the organization at the end of October, the team announced.
In a statement, La Russa thanked the D-backs organization for the past few seasons:
“I am grateful to everyone in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization for the opportunity to complete my baseball education,” said La Russa. “After years in uniform and working with the Commissioner and many special members of Major League Baseball, being a part of the D-backs was both exciting and educational. The challenges facing baseball operations, player development and scouting are unique, as it’s a 24-7, 12-month job and more demanding than I ever realized. The success in 2017 was a complete team effort throughout the organization — including great support from our fans — and with the current leadership in place, we can expect it to be the foundation for many winning years to come.”
Managing general partner Ken Kendrick, team CEO Derrick Hall and general manager Mike Hazen also thanked La Russa for his contributions with the club.
La Russa’s departure probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. After the club cleaned house last season, firing both manager Chip Hale and general manager Dave Stewart, La Russa surprisingly remained in the organization, albeit in a lesser role.
It’s tough to know how much of an impact La Russa had with the club. He was hired as the team’s chief baseball officer to assist Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson with turning around the D-backs in 2014. After the team won just 64 games, and both Towers and Gibson were fired.
Hale and Stewart were then hired, and lasted just two seasons before the organization decided to make sweeping changes.
The Diamondbacks rebounded to make the playoffs in 2017, but that came with La Russa taking a back seat. It’s certainly possible he altered the club’s culture, but the Diamondbacks went through a lot of upheaval during his tenure.
With the team now on the right path, La Russa either felt his work was done, or the organization figured there was no reason to keep around someone hired to help a vastly different regime. The team used the term “depart” in its news release to keep things vague. Did La Russa want to leave? Was he asked to leave? Was he fired? We don’t really know.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter. La Russa is leaving without controversy, and the Diamondbacks are good again. While he’s a big name, La Russa’s departure should probably be considered a minor move. The future of the Diamondbacks won’t change drastically with him no longer in the organization.
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