La Russa compiles initial list of GM candidates
D-backs seem committed to strengthening advanced metrics department
PHOENIX -- While the D-backs continue their road trip Tuesday in San Francisco, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa will be focused on finding a new general manager.
La Russa's work began in earnest Saturday, one day after the team announced that Kevin Towers was offered a position in the baseball operations department but would not be its GM next season.
Though he has earned a reputation for not having embraced advanced metrics, La Russa has said that he does, in fact, believe in using them, but that their role should not seep into a manager's in-game decisions.
Having put together a Hall of Fame career as a manager, La Russa understands the value of empowering a manager to trust what his eyes and gut tell him during a game. He also believes that if a front office dictates in-game moves, a manager will lose the respect of the clubhouse. And in this day and age, a manager having the respect of his players is more important than ever, La Russa believes.
Regardless of who ends up with the GM job, the D-backs seem committed to strengthening their advanced metrics department.
La Russa has compiled an initial list of candidates, all of whom he will talk to, and when he has narrowed that down to two or three people, he will have team president and CEO Derrick Hall and possibly others in the club's hierarchy sit down with that group for a second round of interviews.
Here is a look at the nine confirmed candidates that were on La Russa's initial list. As with any search, names could be added as the process goes along.
Baird was the Royals' general manager from 2000-06, and after his dismissal there, he joined the Red Sox's front office as an assistant general manager. His current title is vice president of player personnel, and he is a respected talent evaluator.
Beinfest was the Marlins' GM from 2002-13, finishing his tenure with the club as president of baseball operations. The Marlins won the 2003 World Series under his direction, and he was interviewed by the Padres before they hired A.J. Preller last month. The D-backs are believed to have spoken with Beinfest in May before deciding to hire La Russa.
Eppler is the assistant GM of the Yankees, and he has a background in scouting and is said to also embrace analytics. The 38-year-old was the runner-up in San Diego's search for a GM last month and also finished second to Jerry Dipoto for the Angels' GM job in the fall of 2011.
LaRocque, who is the Cardinals' director of player development, interviewed with La Russa on Saturday. The pair worked together in St. Louis, with LaRocque joining the organization in 2008 after spending 10 years in the front office for the Mets.
Montgomery was named the D-backs' scouting director in October 2010. A former big league player, Montgomery first worked in the Brewers' organization before coming to Arizona. La Russa was extremely impressed by what he saw when he watched the way Montgomery conducted the D-backs' First-Year Player Draft this year.
Morris is the Angels' director of pro scouting, and he came highly recommended to La Russa. A longtime big leaguer, Morris earned his MBA from Stanford upon his retirement and then got back into baseball as a scout. He is scouting in Japan right now, but La Russa plans to speak with him when he returns.
Purpura was the Astros' general manager from 2005-07, and he has an extensive administrative background in the game. The Astros went to the World Series in 2005 before losing to the White Sox.
Stewart has the most varied background of any of the candidates and the closest relationship with La Russa. The right-hander won many a big game for La Russa in Oakland, and he has also been an assistant GM and pitching coach. Stewart is currently a player agent representing, among others, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp.
Watson is the assistant GM in charge of player development for the Dodgers. He has been with them for seven years, five in his current role. Watson has interviewed for GM jobs in the past, most notably with the D-backs when they decided to hire Towers.