With Spring Training games set to begin this weekend and the focus here at Venomstrikes is giving our readers opinions on the state of the Arizona Diamondbacks and its players, perhaps it is time to shine a light on the Man Behind the Curtain, so to speak. That would be General Manager Kevin Towers hired by the D-Backs on September 22, 2010. While many of the parts were already in place for Arizona’s meteoric rise to the 2011 National League West Championship, there is no doubt that Towers added some ingrediants to the recipe. D-Back fans should be comforted by the fact that there should be stability in Management for the foreseeable future.
Towers is best known for being the GM of the San Diego Padres from 1995 through the 2009 season. During that span, his teams won four NL West Championships as well as the 1998 National League pennant, only the organization’s second World Series appearance in its history. Two of his early Padre trades, the first for Greg Vaughn at the 1996 trading deadline (they later won the division) and for Kevin Brown in December 1997 directly led to the Padres reaching the World Series in 1998. His trades before and during the 2006 season for Adrian Gonzalez and Cla Meredith as well as the signing of Mike Piazza ensured the Padres of a second straight division title. Notable draft picks by Towers included Jake Peavy, Xavier Nady, Jason Bartlett and Mat Latos. His tenure as the Padres GM and the team’s performance during that time could arguably be called the most successful stint in club history. (Author’s note: Many thanks to http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/gm_trade_history/ for providing this information).
So how do we properly evaluate the reign of Towers so far as GM of the D-Backs? Justin Upton was drafted by Arizona while Towers was still in San Diego. Their best pitcher, Ian Kennedy, arrived in a 2010 trade with the New York Yankees while Towers was an assistant to Brian Cashman. Josh Collmenter and Paul Goldschmidt were called up in 2011 but were drafted by former Arizona GM Josh Byrnes. Towers’s most important contribution for 2011 was remaking the bullpen starting with the signing of closer of J.J. Putz and the trade for David Hernandez. The in-season trade for Brad Ziegler added depth to an already strong area of the team. The deals for Lyle Overbay and Aaron Hill were wise moves as well, fortifying the infield. Maybe the biggest move of all was not for a player but deciding to keep Manager Kirk Gibson. Many times, new GM’s want to select their own guy but Towers chose wisely by leaving the skipper’s spot unchanged. Only time will tell if the signings during the Winter will pay off in 2012.
You can bet if the Diamondbacks are once again contenders in 2012 that their GM will make every sensible move possible at the deadline to ensure postseason success. I would feel very secure as an Arizona fan knowing Kevin Towers is calling the shots for my team.
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