Tag:Kevin Towers
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:54 pm
 

Spring primer: Arizona Diamondbacks

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By C. Trent Rosecrans

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers didn't rest on the team's unexpected division title, adding Trevor Cahill to an already strong rotation, anchored by Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson. Arizona also added outfielder Jason Kubel to a two-year, $16 million deal to help out the offense. The Diamondbacks surprised everyone in 2011, but it's safe to say they won't sneak up on anyone in 2012.

Major additions: OF Jason Kubel, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Takashi Saito, LHP Craig Breslow
Major departures: RHP Jason Marquis

Probable lineup
1. Stephen Drew SS
2. Aaron Hill 2B
3. Justin Upton RF
4. Miguel Montero C
5. Chris Young CF
6. Jason Kubel LF
7. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
8. Ryan Roberts 3B

Probable rotation
1. Ian Kennedy
2. Daniel Hudson
3. Trevor Cahill
4. Joe Saunders
5. Josh Collmenter

Back-end bullpen
Closer: J.J. Putz
Set-up: David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, Takashi Saito

Important bench players
OF Gerrardo Parra, UTIL Willie Bloomquist, 1B Lyle Overbay

Prospect to watch
The Diamondbacks traded right-handed starter Jarrod Parker, named the team's No. 1 prospect by Baseball America before the 2011 season, to Oakland in exchange for Cahill. While top-flight pitching prospects don't grow on trees, it may seem like it in Arizona. With two top-10 picks in last season's draft, Arizona took two right-handed power arms in Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley. Those two, along with lefty Tyler Skaggs, give the Diamondbacks perhaps the best trio of pitching prospects in the game. Of the three, Bauer is the one expected to contribute the soonest. The right-hander was the second overall pick in the draft out of UCLA, won the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top amateur players in the country. While he can throw up to 98 mph, his curveball is his best pitch. The Diamondbacks thought about bringing him up for the stretch run last season, but he stayed in the minors, where he made seven starts. While his ERA wasn't pretty (5.96), he did strike out 43 batters in 25 2/3 innings.

Fantasy sleeper: Jason Kubel
"[The Diamondbacks] play in a hitter's park, much like the Metrodome, and recognize that a 29-year-old like Kubel is still young enough to salvage whatever he lost to expansive Target Field. Given his improvement against left-handed pitchers last year, a full season of at-bats could feasibly return Kubel to the 25-homer range. It's a reasonable enough possibility that he's worth a late-round flier in mixed leagues." -- Scott White [Full Diamondbacks fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Ryan Roberts
"You can't overlook the fact that his breakout season hinged on an unsustainably hot April in which he hit .313 with a 1.007 OPS. He hit .239 the rest of the way. Power and speed numbers aside, if his batting average is lagging right out of the gate, the Diamondbacks have little reason to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's already 31. It's not like he's any sort of building block. With higher-upside third basemen like Ryan Wheeler and Matt Davidson quickly rising through the minor-league system, Roberts is on a shorter leash than his ranking would have you believe." -- Scott White [Full Diamondbacks fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
After last season, how can you look at the Diamondbacks as anything other than a World Series contender? With Kennedy and Hudson continuing their development and solidifying themselves as legitimate top-of-the-rotation starters, plus Cahill and a Saunders that appears to have figured some things out, the pitching takes the Diamondbacks to an easy division title.

Pessimistic outlook
Last year proves to be an aberration, with all the pitchers taking a step back. Meanwhile, Drew never seems to recover from his injury, meaning a full season of Bloomquist and John McDonald at shortstop. It worked for a while last season, but it's unlikely to work again. Hill plays like he did in Toronto, as opposed to the way he played in the desert. With the offense and pitching struggling, the Diamondbacks could fall behind not just the Giants and Rockies, but also the Dodgers.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Diamondbacks give extensions to Gibson, Towers

By Matt Snyder

Coming off a season in which the Arizona Diamondbacks shocked pretty much everyone in the nation by winning the National League West, the D-Backs have done something not so shocking. General manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson have had their respective contracts extended through the 2014 season with club options for 2015 and 2016, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

"I really enjoyed watching the two of them work together," Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said (Piecoro). "Obviously I was pleased with the results from the first season. Kirk Gibson, in particular, proved that he is a major league manager, as prepared as any I've ever seen, and I felt they were both worthy of extension."

Towers, 49, took over the Diamondbacks in September of 2010 and did a great job in shoring up the ballclub, particularly the bullpen, last offseason.

Gibson, 54, was named the interim manager when A.J. Hinch was fired in July of 2010 and after the season Towers removed the interim label.

The Diamondbacks were one of the best stories in baseball in 2011 under Towers and Gibson. They had finished last in two consecutive seasons and were coming off a 97-loss debacle. But 2011 saw the D-Backs emerge in a big way, as they went 94-68, cruising to the NL West title. They then took the Brewers to the limit in the NLDS, losing on the final play of Game 5.

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Beat Down: Nick Piecoro on the Diamondbacks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

If newspapers still existed and you opened one up this morning, you'd open up the sports section and see that the Arizona Diamondbacks were in first place in the National League West. It's one of those things that nobody really expected to see on Aug. 12, but there it is. I sure didn't expect it, and wasn't sure I knew exactly how it happened. So, I figured I could research the whole thing and write something about it, or I could go to someone who has been there the entire season, so I e-mailed my buddy Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

Piecoro is in his fifth season covering the Diamondbacks. I first met him in the press box at Chase Field in 2007 when he was surfing my iTunes library from his computer and sought me out to talk music. Since then, we've had numerous pizzas and beers together, talking baseball and, more often, music. So when I thought about the Diamondbacks, I quickly thought of Nick. And then I thought this might be a good weekly feature looking at some of the teams around MLB from the people who see them the most and know them the best. So, for the first installment of the Beat Down, here's Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:

Eye On Baseball:  So, really, first-place Diamondbacks? Really? Give me the short version of how this happened...

Nick Piecoro: I know, right? Well, there are a bunch of reasons. I’ll start with the emergence of Justin Upton, who has turned into a force in the middle of the lineup, a threat to do damage every time he’s up. They lead the league in home runs, so there’s a real element of a quick-strike offense. And if you look at their Baseball-Reference page, pretty much everyone in the lineup is at least close to a 100 OPS+, meaning there are no black holes in the lineup.

Then there’s the pitching staff. Ian Kennedy has pitched like a No. 1, and Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter (he of tomahawk-throwing fame) have slotted in well behind him. In the bullpen, they no longer cough up leads every night, and that’s thanks mainly to Kevin Towers acquisitions David Hernandez and J.J. Putz.

EOB: Did you see this coming? I sure didn't. I will say, our senior writers -- Scott Miller and Danny Knobler -- did say the D-Backs would be interesting this year, but I don't think any of us expected this.

NP: No way, not me. In spring training, they were a disaster. Part of the reason they’ve been able to turn it around is because they were quick to act to make changes with guys who weren’t getting the job done, and the list is long: Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, Russell Branyan, Melvin Mora, Aaron Heilman, Juan Miranda, Zach Duke. Some got more rope than others, but the point is, anyone making predictions before the season was looking at a completely different roster than what they have now. Heck, Ryan Roberts, who has 15 home runs, wouldn’t have made the team in spring training if not for Geoff Blum’s injury.

EOB: How much of this is Kirk Gibson? Is the attitude he brought real? Has it actually changed things?

NP: You have to give him credit, certainly. You hear people talk about a manager’s personality rubbing off on his team, it’s hard not to see some of that with this group of guys, particularly when it comes to their penchant for comebacks and the whole never-say-die stuff. They’re a hard-nosed bunch and that’s exactly the kind of player Gibson was and manager he is. Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of a manager’s impact; I mean, all the stuff above explains their status as contenders well enough in my mind. (That and the fact the NL West and the NL as a whole is mostly devoid of good teams.) A friend likes to say that players win games, managers lose them and umpires ruin them. Well, if that’s the case, Gibson is doing an excellent job of not losing them.

EOB: Is Justin Upton your MVP?

NP:  Maybe not yet. But he could be.

EOB: I'm guessing he's not on the trade market this winter...

NP: Uh, no. I’m not sure I understand why he was out there last winter.

EOB: Are they set up for the long haul?

NP:  You would think so, yeah. They have literally no bad contracts -- not a one -- and they have a bunch of guys coming in the system, namely a few potential frontline-type starting pitchers in Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer. They’ll have a few decisions to make in the next couple offseasons with core guys like Kelly Johnson, Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero set to become free agents, but they’re in great position to retain who they want to retain and even should have money to spend to plug whatever holes might exist.

EOB: Finally, you're perhaps the hippest beat writer in the loop, what are you listening to right now?

NP: Heh. Is that like saying someone’s the MVP of the Pacific Coast League? I’ve been fairly obsessed with the new Handsome Furs album (link to "Serve the People" with a note that the album art has a nekkid lady). And -- how’s this for timing? -- I’m actually going tonight to see Cut Copy, an awesome band from Australia that have this catchy 80s-dance-pop thing going on (link here to "Far Away"). I’ve also been really into the new ones from Cults, Destroyer, Foster the People and others I can’t think of right now.

Thanks to Nick and you can check out his blog here and on Twitter @NickPiecoro.

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Posted on: May 29, 2011 11:33 pm
 

Bullpen leads D-backs into first place

By C. Trent Rosecrans

J.J. PutzWelcome to first place, Arizona Diamondbacks.

Yep, you read that right, the Diamondbacks have ridden a six-game winning streak -- all on the road -- to the top of the National League West standing, moving past the Giants with their victory over the Astros and San Francisco's loss in Milwaukee.

"This is good right now, but we've got a long way to go," manager Kirk Gibson told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. "We've talked about playing good baseball. It's hard to sustain it."

But the Diamondbacks have in the last 16 days, going 14-2 since dropping five in a row earlier this month.

As for the short-term changes, Piecoro pretty much nailed it in this piece -- Josh Collmenter into the rotation, Armando Galarraga out. Juan Miranda in at first base, Russell Branyan out. And then he adds the improvement of starter Joe Saunders and second baseman Kelly Johnson.

More than just the last two-and-a-half weeks, the Diamondbacks have been much better than they were a year ago, when they were 65-97, the third-worst mark in the big leagues.

First off, a lot of credit has to go to Kirk Gibson, in his first full year as a manager. His team is playing like he did -- all out, all the time.

Secondly, the bullpen is night-and-day better, and the thanks there has to go to general manager Kevin Towers.

Last season the bullpen had a 5.74 ERA -- the worst mark in the National League since divisional play began.

This year it's 3.40 ERA. The teams four blown saves are tired for fourth-fewest in the big leagues.

Closer J.J. Putz is perfect in his 15 save attempts and has struck out 20 in 22 innings, allowing just four earned runs. He's been joined by left-hander Joe Paterson (one earned run in 22 games), Sam Demel (three earned runs in 21 appearances) and David Hernandez (five earned runs in 24 appearances). Esmerling Vasquez has been pretty good, going 0-1 with a 3.32 ERA.

Demel and Vazquez were in the team's bullpen last season, but Towers worked on remaking the team's bullpen in the offseason, signing Putz as a free agent and getting Hernandez in the trade that sent Mark Reynolds to Baltimore. Paterson is a rookie who was taken by Towers in the Rule 5 draft out of the Giants' system.

In the end, the Diamondbacks may not be able to hold onto this lead -- especially against the defending World Series champs and the powerful Rockies. But they could -- nobody thought Cleveland would still lead their division on Memorial Day, yet the Diamondbacks and Indians are, and that's pretty fun.

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Report: Yankees have interest in Perez

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Oliver PerezSports Illustrated's Jon Heyman isn't the type of reporter to make stuff up just for fun, but if he were, he could do worse than his latest tweet -- that the Yankees are interested in former Mets lefty Oliver Perez "as a cheap sign."

Heyman notes that the Yankees officials have discussed it, but that Brian Cashman isn't "enthused" with the possibility, so it's not likely to happen.

He also says the Diamondbacks, with Kevin Towers, are Perez's best hope.

Perez will get a chance somewhere, that much is sure. He's talented and he'll cost next-to-nothing once he goes through waivers (and nobody is picking him up on waivers). If Perez is willing to go to Triple-A to prove himself, it could happen. Stranger things have happened (remember Jose Lima's comeback?)

As far as the teams a fits, a miracle fits with just about anybody, so 29 teams -- including the Yankees -- are likely discussing adding him right now.

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Posted on: December 6, 2010 11:08 am
Edited on: December 6, 2010 1:54 pm
 

Orioles deal for Mark Reynolds done

Mark Reynolds The talk last night in the lobby at the Dolphin Hotel here at Disney was Mark Reynolds is going to the Orioles, the only question is when -- well, that should get done maybe as soon as Kevin Towers wakes up. He was one of the few people still in the hotel lobby when I stumbled out at 2:30 a.m., so he may need a little more sleep this morning.

Anyway, Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman tweets the deal is close, and Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail notes the Orioles are "making progress" with the Diamondbacks in acquiring the third baseman.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets RHP David Hernandez is expected to be in the deal and RHP Kam Mickolio is a "strong possibility."

As far as the Orioles being close to signing first baseman Derrek Lee, MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli says MacPhail and another source said those reports are "extremely premature."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

UPDATE : The deal is all but done, as multiple sources are all reporting that Hernandez and Mickolio are in the deal and on the verge of completion. ESPN's Buster Olney says all that is remaining are the players passing physicals.

UPDATE : And Reynolds is now an Oriole as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports and SI.com 's Jon Heyman confirms.

UPDATE : The Diamondbacks are replacing Reynolds with Melvin Mora for one year as Steve Gilbert of MLB.com . Hardly an inspired choice -- especially since Baltimore jettisoned Mora as its starting 3B after 2009.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: November 16, 2010 1:13 pm
 

Not much chance D-Backs move Upton

Justin Upton
Baseball circles have been buzzing about the apparent sudden availability of Diamondbacks outfielder Juston Upton on the trade market, and it's a good case study in how non-stories become something they're not in the modern age.

It started with a USA Today GM meetings setup story in which Bob Nightengale talked with Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers about the outlook for the meetings. Towers said this:

"I'm open to listening on anybody. We got more hits on Upton and [Stephen] Drew. They're difficult to move, but sometimes to make your club better, you have to move good players. You never know when a deal might present itself.''

Somehow, this turned into "OMG! The D-Backs are trying to trade Upton!" Well, no they're not. That was Towers saying, "Look, this team stinks, and I'm not going to shut any doors as I'm trying to make it better." That's the position of any decent GM of a last-place team.

Is Upton available? Yeah, in the same way that everyone is theoretically "available." If the Rangers offer to send the Giants Josh Hamilton, Neftali Feliz, their top five prospects and enough cash to cover all of their contracts, sure, Buster Posey is "available."

Upton is one of the best young players in baseball, and is dirt cheap. He's a franchise cornerstone for the Diamondbacks to build on. They're not shopping him, but Towers is saying he's open to being blown away. Asked by Jon Heyman of SI.com what it would take to pry Upton from Arizona, one Diamondbacks official said "everything."

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 9, 2010 7:58 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2010 9:29 pm
 

Hoffman eyeing D-Backs?

Trevor Hoffman Trevor Hoffman has repeatedly said he'd like to find a closer's spot for 2011 and in lieu of that, he could retire.

On Monday, Evan predicted four possible landing spots , and Hoffman must have been reading, as he mentioned Evan's No. 1 possibility -- the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I've known [Arizona general manager Kevin Towers] for such a long time and I figured having a little history there would help," Hoffman told MLB.com's Barry Bloom . "But I don't know. I'm coming off a tough year. I don't know if people are going to be turned off by that or not. I hope the strong second half I had will compensate."

Hoffman's agent, Rick Thurman, told Bloom he hasn't talked directly with Towers yet, but has discussed relievers with the team. Thurman also represents Brian Fuentes, Arthur Rhodes, Will Ohman, Octavio Dotel and Chan-Ho Park.

"We just kind of glazed over the topic of Trevor," Thurman said. "They're looking for a closer. They need a lot of pitching. They're looking for back end relief help."

UPDATE: Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he hasn't spoken to Hoffman or Thurman, but will certainly listen.

"You'd be nuts if you didn't at least consider somebody like Trevor Hoffman," Towers told Piecoro (via Twitter ).

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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