The Diamondbacks GM on the importance of catcher receiving skills.
A former minor league pitcher, pitching coach, and scout, Kevin Towers served as the General Manager of the San Diego Padres from 1995-2009. After spending 2010 as a special assignment scout for the Yankees, he was hired as the GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a role in which he remains today.
It's a lot of fun to talk about Justin Upton being traded, which might be why reporters talk about it so much, and it might be why Kevin Towers talks about it so much.
At this point, it sort of seems as though Justin Upton has always been available, as if he was born on the trading block or at least debuted there before he made the majors. Upton trade rumors are as much an annual offseason ritual as Scott Boras’ binders, debates about Aroldis Chapman’s role, or worries about whether the Marlins are bad for baseball. He hasn’t actually been traded yet, not even once, but we’ve grown used to Upton existing in a perpetual state of about-to-be-dealt.
Difficult as it might be to believe, it’s been less than 2 ½ years since Upton was at the opposite end of the availability spectrum: untouchable. On March 3, 2010, the Diamondbacks signed Upton to a six-year, $51.25 million extension that runs through 2015. Just over three months later, on June 13, Nick Cafardo included this in the notes section of his column for the Boston Globe:
Does a change of cities change a General Manager's tendencies?
Do you like sausages? Here's a look inside the sausage. I wanted to start this article by saying, "Boy, general managers sure don't move around from team to team the way players and field managers do!" I proceeded to make a list of all the current GMs who had previously held the top job with a different franchise. That list:
Gerardo Parra might be making a push for more playing time.
The Monday Takeaway
All Gerardo Parra’s pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning of last night’s game did was push the Diamondbacks’ lead from 4-1 to 5-1. But in the mind of manager Kirk Gibson, it might prove more significant than a meaningless insurance run in a relatively comfortable victory over the Pirates.
The homer was the first extra-base hit in 19 at-bats for Parra, who was relegated to a timeshare when general manager Kevin Towers inked Jason Kubel to a two-year, $15 million deal this past winter. That move was widely considered a surprise, mostly because Parra—a 24-year-old coming off a 3.5 WARP season—did plenty to endear himself to the organization and little to warrant a demotion.
In case you missed analysis on any of the trade deadline deals, here are links to each piece.
The trade deadline has passed, but BP went into overdrive to provide you with up-to-date analysis of each team's moves. In case you were out of town or not glued to the site this weekend (in which case, shame on you), or haven't caught up on trades from last week, here are links to each trade write-up. Subscribers can also see updated Depth Charts and PECOTA projections for all traded players.
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has a history of turning trash to treasure, even though all his shrewd moves don't always work out.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are enjoying an unexpected turnaround in 2011. The team widely picked to finish last in the NL West finds itself in the thick of a pennant race as the All-Star break approaches. The difference between this year and last through 85 games could hardly be more dramatic:
Last year's Diamondbacks featured the world's worst whiffers and a historically bad bullpen, but new GM Kevin Towers may have already managed to fix both failings.
The Diamondbacks didn’t do anything particularly well in 2010, and ended up with a 65-97 fifth-place finish to show for it. However, they did do two things particularly badly—historically badly, even: make contact at the plate, and provide relief out of the bullpen. The bulk of our Arizona team essay in Baseball Prospectus 2011 was devoted to these dual weaknesses; I won’t rehash our analysis here, save to say that Diamondbacks batters struck out at the highest rate in history, and Diamondbacks relievers posted a collective 5.74 ERA, more than a run higher than that of the second-worst bullpen in the league, and almost two runs above the major-league average. The fourth-worst WXRL on record went a long way toward explaining how a team that would have finished with a winning record had all of its games ended after five innings actually wound up more than 30 games under .500.
Incoming GM Kevin Towers promised to address the epidemic of whiffs and blown leads in his first offseason at the helm. It’s still too early to conclude that he’s discovered the antidote, but through their first 22 games, the Diamondbacks have made major strides in both areas, which has helped them crawl closer to respectability with a third-order-approved 10-13 record and fourth-place status in the NL West. So how have the improvements been made? And more important, can we expect them to last?
Kevin Towers looks to build the Diamondbacks into a contender, along with other news and notes from around the majors.
When Kevin Towers looked at the Diamondbacks he didn't see a franchise that has already clinched a second straight last-place finish in the National League West. Nor did he see a franchise that won the division with a young nucleus three seasons ago and seemed ready to dominate the division only for everything to start going wrong.