Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports looks at the Diamondbacks’ remarkably poor 5-18 start to the season and wonders just how long the organization will go before making leadership changes — referring specifically to general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. Morosi writes that changes could be on the horizon, opining that a change could come as soon as this weekend if the D’Backs can’t salvage a series split against the Cubs after being swept by the Mets.
Morosi spoke with several veteran Diamondbacks players, including Eric Chavez and Brandon McCarthy, the latter of whom said he had been on bad teams before but had never seen anything like Arizona’s current situation. “This is different,” McCarthy told Morosi. Said Chavez: “I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest with you. I’ve been on teams that weren’t very good, but at least I felt like we were competitive. So, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.” Chavez went on to say that calling more team meetings won’t do any good, because they’ve had enough of them and “talk is cheap at this point.”
As Morosi’s colleague Ken Rosenthal writes, however, rival executives feel that midseason personnel changes will be more difficult for this Diamondbacks club than they typically would be for other clubs. The team has few internal replacement options, says Rosenthal, as bench coach Alan Trammell is “virtually indistinguishable” from Gibson, executives tell Rosenthal. Beyond that, the clubs’ Triple-A manager, Phil Nevin, joined the organization just this year (after three year’s managing Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate).
On the GM side of things, Rosenthal points back to a piece from the Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley over the weekend in which managing partner Ken Kendrick said the team needed more balance in terms of traditional scouting versus the newer trend of advanced statistics and data analysis. Towers, nicknamed “the Gunslinger,” is as old school as GMs come, and a more data-oriented GM would have to come from outside the organization due to a lack of that skill set in the front office. However, teams are currently preparing for the June draft and will then shift their focus to the trade deadline, making external GM candidates hard to pry away.
For their parts, Towers and Gibson are fully aware of the questions surrounding their job security, writes the Republic’s Nick Piecoro. He was one of multiple reporters on hand when the duo discussed the issue prior to today’s game. Said Towers:
“You’ve got a payroll that exceeds $100 million and we’re off to one of the worst starts in franchise history. That’s tough to swallow when you’re an owner and you care and you’ve invested in a product and the product isn’t performing.”
Towers said he thinks ownership likes both him and Gibson as well, but that each realizes they’re paid to help the team win games, and that isn’t happening. He said that everyone from himself to the field staff to the players should be accountable, as no one has performed up to expectations.
Asked about his job security, Gibson replied by saying he doesn’t worry about that but instead focuses on making whatever improvements he can: “We try to analyze what we can do (better) and we just prepare and try to get the guys to prepare and have a positive day and a good game.”
Arizona has been bitten by some key injuries, namely the loss of nominal ace Patrick Corbin to Tommy John surgery, however, Towers was quick to say that the struggles can’t be blamed on the injuries to Corbin and David Hernandez. He adds that ultimately, the players have to be the ones to fix it, as they’re the ones taking the at-bats and throwing the pitches.
Both Towers and Gibson were given extensions this offseason, though the terms of both deals were kept private. Arizona simply announced that each extension lasted beyond the 2014 season.