By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Before you look beneath the surface, the new guys appear not to be much a statistical improvement over the old.
So we're left to surmise that it's pitching — not hitting — that matters most in Towers' scheme.
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Delgado posted a 4-9 rookie record with a 4.37 ERA, but he could be an established starter (he had 17 starts for the Braves last year) on a D-backs team that had to dip into its minor-league system for starting help last season. As for his losses, three of them were considered "tough," in that he pitched at least six innings and gave up no more than three runs but still earned a loss.
And he's got the potential to be a strikeout leader: He recorded 7.4 Ks per nine innings last year, fourth-most among National League rookies, and more than any regular Diamondbacks starter last time, save Ian Kennedy.
His addition signals the remodeling of the team's pitching staff that Towers promised.
In the starting rotation, three guys will be back in their roles — Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, and Wade Miley. Former A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy, whose 2012 season was cut short after he was hit in the head by a line drive, has signed with the D-backs and probably will be in the front end of the rotation. Delgado and Patrick Corbin are left to battle for the fifth spot. Daniel Hudson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in the middle of last season, is slated to return at some point this summer.
Towers, looking for a "big arm" in the bullpen, decided on 35-year-old reliever Heath Bell, a three-time all-star who's coming off a poor season in Miami. Left-handed relievers also were a weak spot in the bullpen last year, so Towers landed two — Matt Reynolds and Tony Sipp.
"The [NL] West is always won with arms," Towers says. "Our fate will really depend on how well we throw the ball [and] how well our bullpen does."
None of this matters to a lot of fans right now: Towers is a villain for trading Upton.
The same day word got out that Upton was traded to the Braves as part of a seven-player deal, Fox Sports baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal decided he knew Towers' plan.
"Well, the Arizona Diamondbacks are getting what they wanted — a team full of gritty dirtballs," Rosenthal told his national audience.
Rosenthal, siding with an anonymous former D-backs player, said it looked like Towers and manager Kirk Gibson want "grinders" — guys who play like Gibson did. Yet it's common sense that the D-backs would prefer a guy who might hit a World Series homer on two bum legs, like Gibson did for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, rather than a guy, Upton, seen jogging to track down balls in the right field corner of Chase Field last year but who could hit the occasional home run into the Fatburger on the concourse behind left field.
But there's a reason that Towers is a general manager and that Rosenthal comes across as a bow-tied goof on Fox broadcasts.
In five seasons and change, Upton produced neither 40 home runs nor an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of more than .900, despite any promise he may have.
While Rosenthal paints Towers as the Neanderthal of baseball management, the move's hardly controversial when team needs and statistics are considered.
The Diamondbacks crunched the numbers to, for example, find value in Prado over Upton.
"I think a lot people look at us as just an old-school baseball team that doesn't embrace the analytical approach, the importance of statistics, quantitative analysis," Towers says. "We do. We just don't brag about it."
Towers knew that new third baseman Prado had a higher WAR (wins above replacement) last year than did Upton.
What he's saying is profoundly more complicated than the analysis portrayed in the Moneyball story, which depicts on-base percentage as the catalyst for championship baseball.
WAR, another sabermetric measure, attempts to gauge how many wins a player provides a team above a "replacement" player — which more or less means a bench player — thus putting a number to the value of a starting player.
It's just one way of seeing how Prado can be more valuable to the Diamondbacks than Upton.
When Towers describes why he likes Prado as a hitter over Upton, he notes things that can be seen and, therefore, measured — working the count, cutting strikeouts, and being a tough out and a consistent hitter.
For example, Upton swung at almost 45 percent of the pitches he saw last season, while Prado swung at fewer than 38 percent. When Prado swings the bat, he makes contact more than 90 percent of the time, whereas Upton makes contact about 77 percent of the time.
Towers has more specific reasons for favoring Prado as a batter over Upton, like "quality at-bats late in the ballgame."
Towers better produce, what with him sending Upton packing! He'll be an ex-GM if he doesn't. Personally, I think his brand of Billyball (Kevball) will work. Predicting that the D-backs will go deep into the playoffs this year.
Wow, what a misleading white wash of Kevin Towers tenure. KT won in 2011 with a team built almost entirely of players DiPoto and Byrnes acquired. He's been destroying tat team ever since.The stellar outfield defense has been replaced w/a DH in left who is one of the worst defenders in baseball. Justin Upton had the best range in right field and has been one of the most valuable right fielders in all of baseball despite the lack of a cherry picked OPS number, and we replaced him with an aging journeyman that we overpaid. And Adam Eaton was drafted by Josh Byrnes, just like Goldschmidt.And just like Jarrod Parker, who fulfilled predictions last year to become one of the best starters in baseball, for Oakland after Beane robbed Towers blind, giving him the less talented, far more expensive Cahill, and also picking up a great reliever and useful outfielder for throwing n another expensive, less valuable veteran reliever. Gee I wonder why Towers needs pitching? He gives up quality pitchers in almost every trade.And then KT finally makes a good pick in Trever Bauer and blows it while you misrepresent the story.. Bauer told every team not to draft him if his routine bothered them cause he wasn't changing it, but KT still took him. And the team said nice things about his "quirks" as Trevor dominated every level of the minors and shot into the majors. The kid had a few bad starts as young pitchers often do (see Kennedy, Ian in his Yankee stint) and suddenly KT and Kendrick couldn't wait to stick the knive in. They knew all of this before drafting him, ran him and his value down publicly and were forced to trade Bauer for an INJURED shortstop prospect who has never been able to hit for average, power, or get on base vs. MINOR LEAGUE PITCHERS at the same age where Jeter was coming off a near MVP season leading the Yankees to a World championship.
And no one questions a major league catcher so dense or self centered that either isn't even aware or doesnt care that his teams top pitching prospect relies on a very specific and widely reported pitching style and attempts to force him to change everything that's worked for the kid in the first inning of his first MLB start? Where is the manager? Where is KT?
If Trevor Bauer is this years Jarrod Parker just maybe fans will start to realize how hard it is to get top young talent and how much KT has squandered for older, more expensive,
Wow, what a misleading white wash of Kevin Towers tenure. KT won in 2011 with a team built almost entirely of players DiPoto and Byrnes acquired. He's been destroying tat team ever since.
The stellar outfield defense has been replaced w/a DH in left who is one of the worst defenders in baseball. Justin Upton had the best range in right field and has been one of the most valuable right fielders in all of baseball despite the lack of a cherry picked OPS number, and we replaced him with an aging journeyman that we overpaid. And Adam Eaton was drafted by Josh Byrnes, just like Goldschmidt.
And just like Jarrod Parker, who fulfilled predictions last year to become one of the best starters in baseball, for Oakland after Beane robbed Towers blind, giving him the less talented, far more expensive Cahill, and also picking up a great reliever and useful outfielder for throwing n another expensive, less valuable veteran reliever. Gee I wonder why Towers needs pitching? He gives up quality pitchers in almost every trade.
And then KT finally makes a good pick in Trever Bauer and blows it while you misrepresent the story.. Bauer told every team not to draft him if his routine bothered them cause he wasn't changing it, but KT still took him. And the team said nice things about his "quirks" as Trevor dominated every level of the minors and shot into the majors. The kid had a few bad starts as young pitchers often do (see Kennedy, Ian in his Yankee stint) and suddenly KTs boys can't stick the knive in fast enough
Brilliant story! Hope Towers deliver. If he doesn't, the Upton deal will haunt him right out of town.
Upton with his close to .300 avg..6 hrs and 20 rbis in the spring?? No not at all.. Maybe we can trade goldy for some more RP since Kevin can never have a big enough bullpen
Nope, Bauer showed nothing but attitude and Upton was way overrated, I think Towers knows what he is doing..
I like the work that KT has done. While I like and respect J-Up, there are times when for whatever reason a player gets stuck in a rut and can't get out. Look at Aron Hill - he hit .205 and .225 for Toronto in 2010 and 2011 but hit .315 after coming over to the D-Backs for the remainder of the 2011 season and .302 in 2012. It seems like J-Up was stuck in a rut and a change of scenery may have been required. I don't see the J-Up trade as anything but creating the opportunity for J-Up to escape his rut and the D-Backs not to have to suffer through it any further. Love Eaton as a player and disappoitned to see him injured. Would love to see Parra reduce his base-running mistakes and make as big an offensive contribution as he does on defense. I'm excited for this team. But it all comes down to pitching - it always does - and we'll have to see how deep the 5 starters can go and still keep us in games and how effective the new arms in the bullpen can be. Then with Hernandez as the set-up in the 8th and Putz as the closer in the 9th we're good to go. I will say this, I would put KT's baseball knowledge and intentional development of this team up against the Dodgers just throwing money at the team any day.
You're hanging this on Bauer being a first-class prospect?! Please! That's just stupid. He didn't just have bad starts, he had terrible ones. He's going to be one of those pitchers who is working in a used-car lot soon.
@Walt Creed If Towers knows what he is doing why'd he waste the #3 pick in the draft and $4.5M on Bauer, after Bauer told every team he wasn't changing his attitude or his approach to the game? Bauer is still rated one of the top 18 prospects in baseball, so why'd Towers dump him for an injured prospect who has never ranked higher than 63 and has consistently been a terrible hitter and barely average defensive shortstop in the minors for 5 years?
@Dogbiter Bauer was such as highly thought of prospect by Towers that he wasted the #3 pick and $4.5M on him. Bauer is still rated the #14 best prospect in baseball by Baseball America and #17 by MLB.com, while Didi is 63 and 80th.
You may think 4 bad starts by a 21 year old tells the tale on his career hopes, but the rest of baseball thinks his dominating 160 innings of 3.00 ERA in the minors says he's the real deal, esp. since half those innings were in Reno, the AAA version of Coors field, with a 2.85 ERA.
But if you & Towers are right, why didn't Towers trade him last season before bringing him up from AAA? BA had him rated the #3 prospect and we could have gotten a huge return. The truth is that Towers is clueless and didn't realize the backlash he'd get from Kendrick, Montero and Gibson when Bauer came up, so Towers bailed on a hugely valuable trade chip and dumped him for an injured shortstop of dubious ability and potential.