Towers saw the writing on the wall

BY foxsports • September 5, 2014

PHOENIX -- Like some on the outside, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers had a feeling that the hiring of Tony La Russa as chief baseball officer could signal the beginning of the end. Turned out, it was. 

Yet after being relieved of his duties Friday, Towers said he would like to stay in the organization in the right circumstances, that he appreciated the even-handedness La Russa showed in his four-month evaluation process, and that he would not rule out another general manager post if one were offered.

"When Derrick (Hall) and Ken (Kendrick) decided to bring somebody above me in to oversee baseball, I knew I would be evaluated for the rest of the season," Towers said while with the team in Los Angeles.

"At that point in time, I don't think he had his mind made up what he really wanted to do, with either myself or Gibby (manager Kirk Gibson) or anybody else in the organization. It was nice to know that you had at least three or four months to see the way we did things. Ultimately he made the decision that he wanted to make a change and I respect that.

"The results have not been good on the field, but I applaud Tony for giving me every opportunity to showcase who I am and what I'm about. Relationships, dialogue was very good."

Towers, hired in late 2010, helped the team win the NL West in his first full season. The D-backs finished .500 the next two seasons and have one of the worst records in baseball despite a franchise-record payroll this season. A spate of injuries has hurt. Towers is under contract through 2016. 

"We 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. Ultimately, I'm going to be held accountable for that," Towers said.

"I wish we could have stayed healthy and enjoyed success year after year. 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."

La Russa, hired in May to oversee baseball operations, said he believed Towers' experience and expertise would make him a good fit as a professional scout. 

"I think that some of the organizations that I've gotten to know over the years that do a really good job of supplying the decision-makers with information ... they have strength in that area that others don't," La Russa said.

Towers said he envisions a scenario in which he meets with the new general manager -- the D-backs hope to make the hire before the end of the season -- and see how they mesh. Towers did the same when he was hired, keeping interim general manager Jerry Dipoto in the organization until Dipoto was hired by the Los Angeles Angels the following winter.

"In a perfect world I'd like to stay because I still care a lot about the organization," Towers said. "If it's meant to be that I move on and go elsewhere, so be it. To me it doesn't make a lot of sense really now to try to define what my role would be, if I were to stay, until they hire the new GM. 

"I'm sure every candidate has a different set of skills, and who they hire may change my role. 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 to sit down with the 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, 52, won four division titles as San Diego's general manager from 1996-2009. It is a track record that should make him a viable candidate for general manager jobs that might open.

"I know it won't happen again here in Arizona, but there's 29 other teams and I haven't lost my edge whatsoever," Towers said.

"I still would like to sit in a GM seat. There are only so many jobs out there. I've got a great deal of respect for the 29 other individuals with the other clubs. I know how tough this job is. If something presents itself that makes sense in the future, and if my health is good and my energy levels are good and my network is good, I think I can still be successful at it. If it doesn't happen, I'm fine as well. I've enjoyed my career sitting in the chair."

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