There has been considerable discussion over the last year or so regarding the Diamondbacks GM, Kevin Towers. Until this offseason however, KT managed to mostly get a pass as his moves, some questionable, some genius, some lucky, produced...
There has been considerable discussion over the last year or so regarding the Diamondbacks GM, Kevin Towers. Until this offseason however, KT managed to mostly get a pass as his moves, some questionable, some genius, some lucky, produced results.
Towers was further insulated from much in the way of criticism because the Diamondbacks were a team loaded with young, projectable talent. Some of the talent, like Justin Upton, was young, but already a bit veteran savvy. The farm system was stacked with highly regarded pitching prospects, many knocking on the door to the bigs. The future of the franchise looked stunningly bright. By 2014 the Diamondbacks would be fielding a team headlined by all-stars Upton, Montero, Goldschmidt, and Young. The rotation was going to have a potent 1-2 punch of Bauer and Skaggs, with Hudson, Miley, and Cahill filling out the rotation. The bullpen was going to be a shut-down bullpen that could shorten any game to 6 innings by relying on Ziegler, Hernandez, and Putz. In short, the D'backs were to be the powerhouse NL West team of the future.
But then somewhere in late July or early August of the 2012 season, KT's grace period came to an end. Not only had the Diamondbacks begun to struggle, but they very rapidly dropped from fringe contender for the NL West to an outsider looking in. Granted, because of the second wild card, they were not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs until mid-September, but it was as early as the second week in August that the season began to look as though it was over.
To be fair to Towers, it was not entirely his doing. Injuries plagued the Diamondbacks in 2012. Chris Young, who had started off on an absolute tear was injured early in the season. He would wind up missing more than a third of the season due to injury, and was still hurt when he first came back. Justin Upton suffered an injury to his thumb which altered his swing and sapped his power. Henry Blanco broke his thumb against the San Francisco Giants. Daniel Hudson went down in the first month, and was lost to Tommy John surgery. Joe Saunders was hurt. Takashi Saito never seemed to be able to get his entire body healthy all at once.
But, all good teams are equipped to weather injury. In this department, the Diamondbacks did not fare so well. With the bloom off the rose, Kevin Towers entered the 2012-13 offseason a bit exposed. Minor tweaks to a last place finishing, 65-win 2010 team had resulted in a 94 wins NL West Division Champion 2011. A few more tweaks, including spending money on questionable acquisition Jason Kubel to play left field, and the trade of highly-regarded prospect Jarrod Parker along with flame-throwing youngster Ryan Cook to Oakland for young inning-eating (but substantially more expensive) Trevor Cahill created a 2012 team that was older, more experienced, substantially more expensive, with a larger Kevin Towers thumbprint that very meekly limped to an 81-81 record, finishing 3rd in the NL West after having been out of meaningful contention the final 6 weeks of the season.
Where the 2011-12 offseason was headlined by a marquis first baseman and closers, the 2012-13 offseason was headlined by top-flight outfield talent including Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Torii Hunter. There was no secret that this crop of outfielders was going to command top dollar as four of the five had turned down qualifying offers of approximately $13.5 million and were thus tied to draft pick compensation. Starting pitching also lined up as a premium target with Zack Greinke considered the only elite pitcher before a significant drop-off to Annibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse, followed by high-risk/high-reward candidates like Jeremy Guthrie and Dan Haren. The Diamondbacks have rarely been in a position where the elite free agent market directly affected the team. With the exception of Miguel Montero's extension after the 2011 season, the D'backs by-and-large have developed or traded fo