"This will get your attention," La Russa said of the D-backs' struggles this season. "This is the best kind of test, because each player, [the front office] and the coaching staff has to make a personal assessment. 'OK, what could I have done better?' And the quality of the response will dictate if these guys are what we think they are.
"I think I have enough experience that I bet on the group wanting to learn, and that opens the opportunity for the coaches and manager to step in and say, 'Hey, this is how we could have won those close games.'"
The contracts of La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart are up at the end of the season, and the team has deferred any decision on whether to retain the pair until after the season.
From the sound of it, though, La Russa is fully focused on how the D-backs can get better next year and not his job situation.
"I've got a notebook full of comments on the year," La Russa said. "I think the team has good character. It's got good talent, and if they have a good attitude about 'let's learn from this,' it can get dramatically better."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.