Towers realistic about D-backs' start
Arizona general manager understands disappointment in results, number of injuries
SAN DIEGO -- Kevin Towers is a realist.
The veteran general manager knows the D-backs are short right now. Look around the clubhouse and four pitchers -- Patrick Corbin, Daniel Hudson, Matt Reynolds and David Hernandez -- are in different phases of recovery from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.
One of the team's top sluggers, Mark Trumbo, is limping around in a walking boot because of a stress fracture in his left foot. Still, Major League Baseball is a results-oriented business.
Right now, Towers still feels he and manager Kirk Gibson are on the same page with managing partner Ken Kendrick and club president Derrick Hall.
"But they're both very, very disappointed, and rightfully so," Towers said before Arizona played his former team, San Diego, at Petco Park on Friday night. "When you spend $110 million and you're 9-22 at the end of April, I wouldn't be happy, either. I'm also disappointed, but I still believe in the core group. I think they will get better. Will I be around to see it? I don't know."
Towers said he hopes he has time to fix it.
|"We all thought that with our payroll, we had a good chance. And we got off to a horrible start, and [managing partner Ken Kendrick] is probably scratching his head. 'Do I have the right manager? Do I have the right general manager? Is this really what we have? Is this really who we are?'"|
|-- Kevin Towers|
"To me personally, it's not a tear down," he said. "I'm hoping Hudson comes back. If we had Hudson right now, Reynolds, Hernandez and Corbin, we're a better ballclub. But that's a year away. Do we have that year? I don't have that answer. I feel terrible for [Kendrick]. He went out and spent a lot of money on this club, and it's not performing. That's a reflection on him and his entire organization, and that hurts. I know how frustrated he is, and to me, he wants to win.
"We all thought that with our payroll, we had a good chance. And we got off to a horrible start, and he's probably scratching his head. 'Do I have the right manager? Do I have the right general manager? Is this really what we have? Is this really who we are?' I guess if he believes that we're terrible and we stink and we're bad, then we're probably in trouble. If he believes it's a blip …"
July 1 will be the four-year anniversary of the day Gibson, then the bench coach, replaced A.J. Hinch as manager. The D-backs dismissed GM Josh Byrnes at the same time and inserted Jerry Dipoto as the interim GM. Towers followed before the end of the season and Dipoto went to the Angels. Byrnes and Hinch now head baseball operations for the Padres.
Just before Spring Training, Arizona extended the contracts of Towers and Gibson through at least the 2015 season.
No one foresaw this kind of a start out of a team that went to the playoffs in 2011 and broke even in both '12 and '13. But then, Corbin blew out his elbow five days before the team left for the two-game Opening Series against the Dodgers in Australia, skewing the starting rotation, and Hernandez did the same prior to the end of Spring Training, leaving a big hole in the back end of the bullpen.
The D-backs lost both games in Australia, and they have been trying to regain their footing ever since.
"We knew that when Corbin went down that our offense was going to have to pick up the slack," Towers said. "We'd have to score five, six, seven runs a game with the way our pitching is. The bad thing is that our offense got off to a slow start and our pitching got off to a slow start, thus, we're 9-22.
"The pitching is starting to get better. They still are who they are. I'm a realist, I know who they are. Wade Miley is a good No. 3. Brandon McCarthy at times has been a top-of-the-rotation starter, and he looked liked one [when he struck out 12] his last time out, but there's too much inconsistency. The 'pen is experienced. They have some good arms. They've been fine. The defense concerns me. The offense should be better, it just hasn't been."
As the general manager of the Padres from 1996-2009, Towers has been through all the ups and downs before. Under his guidance, San Diego won the National League West title four times, ascending to the World Series in 1998 when the club was swept by the Yankees. During that period, the Padres finished below .500 eight times, with a low of 99 losses in 2008.
Towers said he's well aware that with the money that's already been spent, there are no quick fixes with these D-backs. The personnel in place has to get going.
"I think they're better than they've performed," Towers said. "When you take a look at the offense, there's not a lot of grey beards or rookies other than Chris Owings. They're in the primes of their careers and have been pretty consistent performers without a lot of peaks and valleys. Other than [Paul Goldschmidt], they've all had down years so far.
"We're only a sixth into the season. It's always a lot more magnified when this kind of thing happens in April rather than June or July. No question, though, we've dug a very deep hole for ourselves."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.