Kevin Towers is the General Manager of the San Diego Padres.
Kevin Towers: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to BP's online chat. I'll be with you for about an hour and look forward to answering your questions...
danielj (Davis): Can Barfield stay at 2nd, or will his defense force him to shift to the OF?
Kevin Towers: We feel Josh is continuing to improve on a daily basis at second base and has vastly improved at turning the double play. He's one of the hardest working kids in our system and we feel he will be at least adequate defensively with tremendous upside offensively.
Eitan (San Francisco): With Corey Stewart gone to Pittsburgh, it seems that our best pitching prospects are now Javier Martinez, Dave Pauley and Justin Germano. What are these guys futures like; and specifically, Germano has fantastic control, but does he have enough "stuff" to make it at the big-league level? Also, how good is Sean Thompson?
Kevin Towers: We still feel we have a lot of pitching depth in our system and that was one of the reasons we were able to part with Cory. Javier Martinez probably has the highest upside, followed by Pauley and Germano. Thompson is also a very good looking young pitcher with a great curveball. Another pitcher to keep your eye who could come fast is Chris Oxspring who finished the year very strong in Double-A Mobile. Germano doesn't have the #1 starter stuff but he's very similar to a Brian Lawrence with a better fastball. We believe Justin is on the cusp of becoming a solid everyday rotation pitcher.
Dave W. (Redondo Beach, CA): What are your plans for Jake Gautreau. Did his performance merit a promotion to AAA, or does he stay at AA and move back to the hot corner to accomodate Josh Barfield?
Kevin Towers: Jake is currently in the Arizona Fall League and is off to a hot start. We really like Jake's offensive potential dating back to his college days. Our main concerns with Jake are on the defensive side of the diamond given his lack of foot speed and range. We've discussed internally some alternatives including putting him behind the plate.
Will (Fredericton, NB): Since you've taken over as GM of the Padres, which player acquisition has been the most disappointing?
Kevin Towers: I would say the Woody Williams for Ray Lankford trade.
danielj (Davis): How is Stauffer's shoulder? Will he be ready to pitch in April?
Kevin Towers: Stauffer is currently rehabbing in Instructional ball in Arizona. He is still on schedule to pitch in spring training and should break with one of our minor league clubs in April.
Ken (San Diego): Do you think you will be able to obtain both a #1 and #5 starter through FA or do you think you will also need to make a trade?
Have you thought of Wilson Alvarez for a #5 starter?
Kevin Towers: We would like to obtain a couple of starting pitchers to surround our current nucleus of Brian Lawrence, Jake Peavy, and Adam Eaton. A lot of what we do we be dictated by the free agent market and what kinds of salaries the players will demand. Wilson Alvarez would be someone we would have interest in if he doesnt resign with the Dodgers.
Geof F. Morris (Huntsville, AL, USA): Kevin, are you still chasing Junior Griffey via trade?
Kevin Towers: We have not revisited the Griffey talks with the Reds and do not plan on doing so. Phil Nevin has proven he is healthy and comfortable at first base and we would like to keep our payroll flexibility for future years.
Blake T. (Chicago, IL): Mr. Towers,
Any thoughts on the games tonight? As a corollary, how much do GMs keep an eye on what other teams do, especially in the postseason after you've been eliminated? Do you spend more of your time watching your farm system? Thanks for chatting.
Kevin Towers: I like the Fish over the Cubbies, I dont know how much K. Wood has left in the tank. Cubs need to score early to have any kind of a chance. If they dont get on the scoreboard early I think their spincters will slam shut! I have to go with the Yanks at home with Pettitte on the mound. He's one of the premier big game pitchers in baseball, especially at home.
One of the most important parts of a GM's job is to know their own farm system inside and out. I spend a lot of time both in season and in the off season watching and evaluating our players and other organization's farm systems.
Mark (Rancho Bernardo): Will Moores increase the draft budget in future seasons to give the team a better chance to replace talet in the farm system? The budgets over the past 2 seasons have seemed somewhat lacking.
Kevin Towers: Unfortunately we've had some high picks the past couple of years but have not held back monetarily on any of our picks. Since Moores has taken over the club we have not only increased our Amateur Scouting budget but have also increased our International Scouting budget. This organization will always be a Scouting and Player Development driven organization and we realize the importance of putting the necessary resources into these areas.
Casey (Baltimore): When you evaluate players' defensive skills, do you rely at all on any kinds of statistics or do you just watch a lot of game tape?
Kevin Towers: We currently have devised an objective measure for rating defensive players that will probably be an ongoing experiment in the next several years. while this information has provided some value, we still rely heavily on our scouts' intuition.
Nino (Santa Barbara): Is Tank a candidate for the bullpen?
If you can't deal Jarvis...what role can he play?
Kevin Towers: Tank has to show better command of his fastball before he has any value at the big league level. We will bring him into spring training camp as a starter and will continue to work with him on his mechanics and FB command. Our pitching coach, Darren Balsley, still feels very strongly about Tank's potential and insists he will be a good major league pitcher for a long time.
Shaun (Boston): I'm sorry to put you on the spot, but if the money was right, which of the following veteran pitchers would you prefer: Greg Maddux or David Wells? And do you think Petco would be better for one as opposed to the other? Thanks!
Kevin Towers: Ideally we'd love to have both of those guys. Obviously money will be a huge obsticle, but having some proven veterans to guide our youngsters would be invaluable. Our initial take on Petco is that it will favor left-handed hitters. Given this, and the abundance of good left-handed hitters in our division, it would be advantageous for us to have at least 1 left handed starter.
Chris (Encinitas): Were you satisfied with the job the coaching staff this past season? Tony Muser has a very different personality than Tim Flannery, was his addition positive? Also, do you think Dave Magadan is capable of teaching a patient approach without detracting from a hitter's natural ability at the plate?
Kevin Towers: I think our players made a lot strides this season both defensively and offensively. Our defense was in the middle of the pack this year after being one of the worst for the past couple of years. Offensively we struggled with runners in scoring position and lacked power which hurt our overall run production. Injuries derailed the seasons of Kotsay, Klesko, and Nevin but guys like Burroughs and Loretta really came into their own and should provide a nice 1-2 combo at the top of our order next year. Getting our core power guys healthy for next year should provide a huge boost.
Magadan is fully aware of the importance of getting a good pitch to hit and constantly stresses patience at the plate. He has been outstanding and should be a great teacher for many years.
Ray (Boston): What were your impressions of Peavy's sophomore season? Aside from the awful July, his outward numbers were quite good. And yet the 33 HR allowed is a bit disconcerting. What do you think contributed to this "gopheritis"... 24 HR in 104 IP on the road is pretty startling, no?
Kevin Towers: I think Peavy's soph season was very successful and will just be another stepping stone for a very bright future. Jake has all the ingredients you look for in a #1 pitcher and we look forward to establishing himself as one of the elite pitchers in the NL in the near future. I think he will learn how to prevent the gopher ball in the future by using his changeup more and improving his pitch selection.
Lilcalal (La Mesa): Is Khalil Greene the answer at shortstop next year, or do you think the club needs to pick up a veteran for a year or 2?
Kevin Towers: Khalil has always been a guy who steps up to the challenge and we feel it will be no different next year. Khalil has been nothing short of outstanding defensively and should provide enough offense to be valuable on the major league level. We might look into signing a veteran SS who would provide insurance just in case, but the plan right now is for Khalil to be our everyday guy.
Anthony (Long Island): Who do you think is the best young hitter in the game? Nick Johnson? Hank Blalock? Mark Teixeira? Someone else?
Kevin Towers: I would have to say Albert Pujols. He has a chance to put up Bonds type numbers in the future as he continues to improve. Out of those three guys I'd say Blalock has the most complete offensive package and could be the best 3B in the league in 2 years.
Deivi Cruz (Baltimore): Isn't the danger of picking up a veteran shortstop that most managers, including Bochy, will play the vet over a youngster even when they don't deserve it?
Kevin Towers: Balancing winning with developing youngsters is never easy and can put strain on the relationship between a manager and the GM. Bochy and I talk on a daily basis and we both understand the importance of developing young players. If a small market organization cannot consistently develop young players they do not stand a chance to compete on a continual basis. If we sign a veteran SS it will be ONLY if Khalil has proven he isn't ready to play at the ML level. We also have the luxury of having Ramon Vazquez who might not have the best range but is very solid defensively and will provide value offensively by getting on-base.
Alex King (State College PA): Both the Padres and Phillies are entering new stadiums this season and have similiar approaches to doing so by combining their own young players with new expensive talent. What are the differences in your approaches?
Kevin Towers: I think the biggest difference in our approaches is that the Phillies have a bigger budget to work with that allows to compete for some of the top free agents. They were one of the few teams who could afford to take on Millwood this past season and will most likely be after a top SP in the free agent market. I think both clubs have done a good job drafting and/or acquiring good young players and developing them into good major league players. The core of both teams has come from their minor league systems.
Will (New Brunswick): You've mentioned that your research indicates serious decline in players starting at 32 years of age--do you agree with the notion that a hitter peaks between 26-28?
Kevin Towers: Most hitters generally peak around 27-28 years old, but a lot of that depends on the type of hitter they are. Components such as speed and hand-eye coordination tend to decline earlier than power. Thus, you'll find the players who rely heavily on speed will usually decline at an earlier age than the patient power hitter.
Geof F. Morris (Huntsville, AL, USA): How much does moving into an unknown entity in Petco Park throw a monkey-wrench into short-term and long-term planning for a club playing closer to the margin as the Padres are? I imagine that your short-term planning is worse for the wear, comparatively.
Kevin Towers: We're hoping that Petco Park will be a pitcher friendly park that will help our young pitchers develop and establish themselves as the cornerstone of our franchise. If you look around MLB, a lot of the successful franchises have been built around pitching. It really doesn't effect our short vs long term planning. We want to keep our young core of players in San Diego while maintaining enough payroll flexibility to change direction if necessary.
Kevin Towers: Thanks again for all of your questions. Enjoy the rest of the playoffs and we'll talk to you again soon.