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.
I’ll never quite understand how firing the manager will suddenly make the team better. It’s not Gibby’s fault Corbin and others got hurt, nor is it his fault their lineup consists of abysmal players other than Goldy and maybe Aaron Hill.
Agreed. Firing Gibson won’t help. Kevin Towers, meanwhile, has made some horrendous trades and signings while displaying one of the most ludicrous public personas in sports management since Al Davis.
I never agreed on why they wanted trumbo so badly. He’s a clear cut Adam Dunn like player, or maybe even a little worse as he doesn’t walk as much as Dunn. Trading Skaggs and Eaton for him was a bad idea.
Justin Upton/Chris Johnson trade ain’t looking so hot either. That one will take a bit of time to properly evaluate though considering Ahmed and Drury aren’t big league ready and Spruill has barely put his shoes on in the bigs.
I could see Drury being the best piece from the trade for the Dbacks.
The team is not full of abysmal players. They may not have the best talent in the division, but the talent they do have is under-performing by a lot, including Hill. That’s why some of it has to fall on the Manager and coaching staff.
They were .500 last season and only got worse considering they traded Skaggs and Eaton away and got back a bad defensive OF who can’t get on base. I know guys like HIll and Prado are underachieving slightly, but Towers didn’t do anything to make a .500 team any better.
That makes little sense considering Skaggs and Eaton contributed nothing of value to them last season. In fact, both were below replacement level last season. So how does missing that from last season make them worse? Meanwhile, Trumbo has been a player who’s contributed above replacement level last season for the Angels. They should be no worse than last season, but the fact that they are a disaster turns eyes onto the manager and coaches.
Eaton and Skaggs are still young and only getting better. Eaton thus far has had a good start to the season, average and OBP is much higher than Trumbo’s. Also his defense is great. Skaggs thus far has like low 3 ERA, what’s the Dbacks starting ERA right now, like 6.5? I bet they could have used Skaggs. Trumbo is not only awful as an OF, but of his 17 hits thus far 7 are HR’s, which is cool, except he hits at about a .200 clip and can’t draw walks for the life of him. I know it’s a young season, and things can change, but outside looking in, it was a bad trade IMO.
Eaton’s defense has not been great. In fact, it’s been bad both last season and this season. He has a negative defensive rating in most metrics. Skaggs has had a decent start, ERA around 3.5, but he’s shown sings of the problems that have plagued him in the past. Give it a little time as baseball requires it. Never the less, neither of those guys did a damn thing for them last year, so it’s hard to reason how the team was made WORSE this year than it was last year by not having them.
No. Just… no.
With the exception of first base, there is not a position where Arizona’s starter is one of the top two options in the division.
Just because they aren’t one of the bests at their position like Goldy, does not mean that everyone else is abysmal.
That is like saying just because they have heart disease and weigh 300 lbs doesn’t mean they are unhealthy. The teams with the best players at their positions do better than the teams with average players at every position.
You do realize Aaron Hill was an albatross for almost 3 years in Toronto before he had a nice year and a half here in Arizona (then getting injured last year)? With the exception of Goldschmidt, none of these guys are great players and almost all of them have huge question marks. The Braves laughed Prado out of the room when he asked for the contract the Diamondbacks ended up giving him. A team of average “gritty grinders” isn’t going to win anything.
The 2010 Giants and 2013 Red Sox would like a word with you…
The Giants and Red Sox had phenomenal pitching though, that’s what won them. Yes, they had great timely hitting as well.
I wouldn’t say that anyone thought the Red Sox had phenomenal pitching going into 2013. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but there were huge question marks regarding just about every pitcher in that rotation.
I would even argue that the D-backs rotation going into March of 2014 would have been considered superior to the Red Sox’ rotation in March of 2013. Even if you look at the Giants: Lincecum and Cain were phenomenal, but Sanchez had a fluke career year, Zito dropped his ERA almost 2 points, and Bumgarner was a wild card as a rookie.
I’m not saying the D-backs were contenders, but neither were the Red Sox at this time last year. The stars aligned for them. As for the D-backs, it really has just been a “Murphy’s Law” kind of season
An old quote from John F. Kennedy comes to mind:
“When things don’t go well they like to blame Presidents; and that’s something that Presidents are paid for.”
I suppose that is true of baseball managers too.
In general I agree with you. Based on Chavez’s comments above, it sounds like the team as a whole has temporarily lost their drive and confidence. In this scenario, I believe it is imperative that the manager gets his team’s drive and confidence back. This is just as important, if not more important, than the decisions he makes in game, because any team with drive and confidence can beat any team on any given day.
I’m not saying it’s Gibson’s fault, as I don’t follow the team closely, but a manager’s job is to lead, and right now it sounds like the team as a whole is struggling mentally. A (good) new manager at this point could be the change this team needs to start playing to their potential.
Having said that, I do think Towers has made some bad moves and stupid comments. I believe it was last offseason he said something to the effect that he doesn’t need to get actual trade value for all players he trades. That is fundamentally what he should be aiming for on every trade he makes, so that would irritate me if I were a Diamondbacks fan.
If I were the owner of the Diamondbacks, I would replace both of them.
Fire Towers before Gibson. Most of those offseason moves were real head scratchers (top prospect Matt Davidson for a closer?). At least Trumbo has worked out for them so far, though they could use pitching (Skaggs) after the Corbin injury.
Trumbo has not worked out. Sure he hits #Trumbombs, but he is an abysmal defender and is a horribly inefficient hitter. He might look good on this roster, but he’d be the bane of most lineups’ existence within logically run organizations.
This team was put in a position to lose from the opening day roster. I don’t see how that’s Gibson’s fault. After Goldschmidt, not really any star like players on this team. Average to below avg players. No ace. Closer is alright. Bullpen is ok at best. Their bats die after PG and Trumbo. Skaggs will come back to haunt them too. I think its time to find a new GM.
But I have the sense that the GM got rid of the player the manager didn’t want on the team.
The pitching staff is just…what where they thinking? The entire staff is a bunch of soft tossing, pitch to contact bunch of blah. They aren’t stocked with good defense which you have to have if you want to be pitch to contact exclusively.
“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” this is a lie considering most front office people would take a significant raise to work for a new team regardless of the situation or time of the year
That only matters if their organization lets them take the job. Rosenthal’s point is that teams aren’t going to want to let their guys go during the busiest part of the season for a front office. They also aren’t going to want to let guys go who know their potential draft or trade deadline strategies.
Nobody is going to turn the Diamondbacks’ season around, so they might as well wait until a little later in the season to fire Towers and Gibson when they can have a better selection of replacements to choose from.
Wow! Sounds like Chavez and McCarthy don’t like the manager. Those quotes are pretty damning considering they’re talking about their boss.
The Arizona situation just proves you never trade young and controllable players. The DBacks shipped off Adam Eaton, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Davidson. Not a wise decision. Also, they traded David Holmberg as well. Trumbo has power, but no average and horrific defense. Not worth trading 12 years of team control with 2 players to acquire Trumbo. Arroyo wouldn’t have been signed if they still had Skaggs and Holmberg.
Better now than after the deadline. Towers on the hot seat with Bradley in the minors is a recipe for disaster for the Diamondbacks.
That said, I wouldn’t mind enabling that disaster and nabbing Bradley at below market prices.
Bradley hasn’t even pitched that well in 4 starts in the minors.
If they get swept by the Cubs, I think they both kind of deserve to be fired. Cubs are pretty bad, if not worse.
EDIT: Well, they beat the Cubs. Still possible they will be fired.
Gibson is a bad manager, and the way in which the organization trashes players anonymously after they leave (Eaton, Upton, Drew, Bauer, Young) shows there is a real clubhouse problem. Towers then not-so-subtly called out Brandon McCarthy for not plunking players.
Both have to go. Alan Trammell, from what I know of his tenure in Detroit, is not like Kirk Gibson. Then again Ken Kendrick ejects fans if they wear opposing team’s shirts behind home plate (and calls star players lazy), so I really doubt anything except a complete ownership change will matter.
Ken Kendrick is a Dback cancer
“Gibson is a bad manager, and the way in which the organization trashes players anonymously after they leave (Eaton, Upton, Drew, Bauer, Young) shows there is a real clubhouse problem.”
Replace Gibson with Collins, and you have the exact same issue with the Mets.
Agree that Towers should go before Gibson. It isn’t Kirk’s fault. Look at the Dodgers last year…. Mattingly was pretty much done in June, but then Puig gets called up, Hanley Ramirez gets healthy, and all of a sudden, perhaps Mattingly isn’t so bad. Blame the guy who put the team together.
You guys want Antonetti? We’ll throw in Shapiro to sweeten the deal.
This could be seen coming a mile away. Considering that the D’backs just extended both of them in February their problems might go beyond just Towers and/or Gibson. In fact, the team president Derrick Hall and Ken Kendrick both expressed their satisfaction with both Gibson and Towers at that time. The organization might need an overhaul.
McCarthy’s quote is such a joke since he has been 0% contribution to the Dbacks since his arrival and if it weren’t for his hefty contract he’d have been released or traded last season.
Hard to believe that as recently as 2011 the Diamondbacks were a playoff team with a stocked system of young talent. It’s been hard to watch this nosedive.