Towers will wait to decide future
Erstwhile GM offered new role with D-backs
PHOENIX -- A couple of weeks ago, D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa sat with general manager Kevin Towers during a game and gave him the news that Towers' reign as GM was nearing an end after nearly four years.
On Friday, the D-backs made it official as they announced they were opening a search for a new general manager.
"The more I thought about it over the last month, the more I realized that means that we should structure our front-office team in a way that picks up the pieces that we don't have and adds to what we do have," La Russa said.
While they search, Towers will remain in the baseball operations department working with La Russa and team president and CEO Derrick Hall.
"I'm not a quitter," Towers said. "I feel like I'm very vested in this organization. When it comes to people, players, there's a lot of people I care a great deal about. To me, it's just going to be business as usual at this point in time."
It's possible that Towers could remain in the organization even longer than the next month, as La Russa offered him a position in the front office overseeing the team's professional scouting. It is similar to the role that Towers gave to Jerry Dipoto after Towers was selected to be the general manager over Dipoto in September 2010.
Towers told La Russa that he would wait until a new GM is hired to decide whether he will stay.
"I'm sure every candidate has a different set of skills, and who they hire may change my role," Towers said. "To me, it's a two-way street. I think it's very important that once they make that hire, I'd like to have that opportunity, like I had with Jerry Dipoto, to sit down with individual and make sure they're comfortable with me and I'm comfortable with him, and that we can work well together. If it doesn't, no hard feelings."
Towers said he thought La Russa gave him a fair evaluation over the last several months and he had no complaints about the process.
After being told that La Russa was planning on going in another direction, Towers showed just how sincere his concern about the organization was when he gave La Russa some names of possible replacements last week.
"I care a lot about scouts, coaches, players," Towers said. "In a perfect world, I'd like to stay because I still care a lot about the organization. If it's meant to be that I move on and go elsewhere, so be it. But my preference would be to stay. More than anything I've enjoyed the people that I worked with. It's really about people. That's probably the toughest for me here. Not really myself, but I really care deeply about guys like [farm director] Mike Bell and [scouting director] Ray Montgomery, the coaches and our players. I feel like I let them down. That bothers me."
The 52-year-old Towers was GM of the Padres from 1995-2009. After being dismissed by San Diego, he spent just under a year with the Yankees as a special assistant to GM Brian Cashman.
Should he leave the D-backs, Towers will have no shortage of opportunities to be a special assistant, but he said he still would like to again be a general manager at some point.
"I'm still very young," he said. "I was fortunate enough to be a GM at a very young age. I've done it for 18 years, won five divisions and been to a World Series, so I know what success is about. I think I can get back there. I know it won't happen again here in Arizona. But there's 29 other teams, and I haven't lost my edge whatsoever."
After winning the National League West in 2011, his first year in Arizona, Towers watched his team finish with back-to-back 81-81 records.
This year, with a franchise-record $110 million Opening Day payroll the D-backs suffered major injuries to ace left-hander Patrick Corbin and setup man David Hernandez before the season began, and they opened their schedule by losing 22 of their first 30 games.
"We won very early there in 2011, set high standards for ourselves, and since 2011 we haven't met the standards that we hoped for, ownership hoped for and the fan base hoped for," Towers said. "Ultimately, I'm going to be held accountable for that. I felt bad we weren't able to get into postseason since then, but very proud of the fact that at least in 2011 there were some good times in Arizona. This year was a very trying year, but when you don't meet expectations, things like this happen in our game, and I know that."