Hiring Kevin Towers as GM a great move by Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks practice at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, in this October 2, 2007 file photo. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has to deal with a small but growing movement that wants to either boycott or move next year's All-Star game, in Phoenix. At issue is Arizona's pending immigration law, allowing police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons, if they are reasonably suspected of being in the country illegally.  REUTERS/Jeff Topping/Files  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY LAW SPORT BASEBALL)

The deal isn’t completed yet, but once it is the Diamondbacks should reap the rewards of hiring a man that should still be employed by the Padres.

Kevin Towers led the Padres to four division championships and an appearance in the 1998 World Series when he was their general manager from 1995 until he was fired in October of last year. He was let go after two losing seasons in 2008 and 2009, yet before he was canned he built the team that has shocked everyone in 2010. (As of this writing, the Padres are clinging to a one-game lead in the NL West.)

Towers was the person that traded for Adrian Gonzalez following the 2004 season – the same deal that also brought starter Chris Young to San Diego. He also drafted Jake Peavy in the 15th round (472nd overall) of the 1999 MLB Draft and then traded him to the White Sox for, among others, starter Clayton Richard, who is now a valuable piece of the Padres’ future.

San Diego is in first place right now largely because of the success of Richard and Mat Latos (another one of Towers’ draft picks), an outstanding bullpen, Gonzalez and Jon Garland.

Outside of Garland, Towers had a hand in all of the above factors that have attributed to the Padres’ success in 2010. When he left, the San Diego front office did next to nothing to improve the team in the offseason and even thought about trading Gonzalez on several occasions last winter.

Granted, Towers is just one man and it takes a team of scouts and personnel directors to run a baseball team. But given his track record, two losing seasons shouldn’t have cost him his job in San Diego.

No matter – he’s going to be Arizona’s GM soon enough and considering the Diamondbacks are a team that has underachieved over the last couple of seasons, he’s the right man for the job. The club needs an experienced leader – someone that know how to build through the draft and with youth – and that’s what they’ll get out of Towers.

It might take a year or two, but Arizona should be competing again soon.

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Both Padres and Blue Jays fire GMs


The San Diego Padres and the Toronto Blue Jays are ready to restructure. After both teams failed to make the postseason yet again, the higher-ups have decided to ax their general managers. The Padres chose to cut Kevin Towers, who has been with the organization since 1995, a tenure longer than any active GM. Not to be outdone, the Blue Jays gave J.P. Ricciardi the boot after his eight-year campaign.

Per the San Diego Union Tribune

Padres CEO Jeff Moorad thinks of Kevin Towers as “a gunslinger,” and, he added, “a masterful one, at that.” What he wants is someone who can put more of the “general” in general manager.

Strategic thinking is the crucial quality Moorad is seeking as he attempts to steer the Padres in a new direction following 14 years of Towers’ sometimes seat-of-the-pants stewardship. Moorad wants to rebuild his baseball operation from its foundation, to develop detailed short-, mid-and long-term plans, and he has decided that Towers is not the right fit for those responsibilities.

Moorad declined to discuss specific candidates, except to say that his search had not been internal. Arizona Vice President Jerry DiPoto, who joined the Diamondbacks during Moorad’s tenure in Phoenix, is considered a leading contender. Pat Gillick, who built World Series champions in Toronto and Philadelphia, has said he might leave semi-retirement at age 72 for the right situation “on the West Coast.”

Per the Toronto Star

The Jays issued a terse release at 10:38 a.m. announcing that Ricciardi has stepped down from his role that he had filled since Nov. 14, 2001, eight seasons without a post-season berth.

Replacing him will be 32-year-old Alex Anthopoulos, a native of Montreal. He joined the Jays in 2003 and was named an assistant GM under Ricciardi after the 2005 season. Anthopoulos attended McMaster University, majoring in economics, getting his first job in baseball with the Expos in 2000, in media relations.

Although both of these guys leave behind losing records, they did have their share of accomplishments. Towers guided the Padres to division titles in 1996 and ’98, and 2005 and ’06. In addition to the Padres posting four consecutive winning seasons from 2004-07, Towers was known for orchestrating seemingly impossible deals, such as the one that sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and pitcher Chris Young from Texas for Adam Eaton, Billy Killian and Akinori Otsuka. Still, let’s face it, he wasn’t given the resources later in his career to push his team past the Dodgers. Towers is respected for his talents and shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a job this offseason.

As for J.P Ricciardi, he won 86 games in his second season, 2003, 87 in 2006, and 86 in 2008. He also oversaw the development of draft choices and current fan favorites Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, and Ricky Romero. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays never once made the playoffs during Ricciardi’s eight seasons as GM. You know Roy Halladay isn’t too pleased about that.

It’s worth noting that Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston is probably on his way out as well. Apparently, many players on the team are asking for his immediate replacement. I like this, Toronto. You guys are ready to play ball once again.

Hot Stove League: Mets Appear to Covet Everyone

The New York Mets covet _________. Those words have been uttered in every Hot Stove rumor out there, because they are more than just rumors. The Mets, who had a second straight free fall from first place in 2008, are apparently looking to fix more than their horrendous bullpen as they move into Citi Field in 2009. In no particular order, here are the players GM Omar Minaya has been talking to or about: Manny Ramirez, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, Huston Street, Kerry Wood, Brian Fuentes, Orlando Hudson, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia (a reported shoulder injury may stall that one), Raul Ibanez, Kevin Millwood, Jermaine Dye, Rafael Furcal, Juan Cruz, Derek Lowe, Edwin Jackson, Juan Rivera and Javier Vazquez. The only one right now that appears close to reality is Furcal, as reports have filtered in that the Mets are offering a nice incentive-based deal. And Wood, who was not offered a contract by Arizona as expected, is at the bottom of the Mets’ wish list due to his injury history. Meanwhile, the Mets also do not think they can pay what Oliver Perez’ agent is asking, and there is a possibility the animated lefty could be headed to division rival Atlanta.

Jake Peavy’s on-again, off-again relationship with the Hot Stove League has continued, but now there is talk that the Cubs might make a move, along with a third team. That’s because the Cubs do not have the pitching prospect that Padres’ GM Kevin Towers is asking for.

Jason Varitek is not likely to accept salary arbitration by the Red Sox and could be headed somewhere else, possibly Detroit. Meanwhile, every team under the sun has been offering mediocre catchers to the Sox.

Andy Pettitte, who was rumored to be talking to former manager Joe Torre about pitching for the Dodgers, is talking now like he wants to stay in New York and play in the Yankees’ new stadium. Speaking of the Dodgers, they are also talking to free agents Trevor Hoffman and Randy Johnson, both on the far side of 40 years old, but both still effective.

While Aaron Heilman was as much of a disaster as a pitcher can be in New York, why is it that both the Rays and Rockies are looking to trade for him? The guy has good movement on his pitches, but proved last season that he can’t get anyone out, especially with a game on the line.

With rumors flying around (and let’s face it, they are true) that Lebron James will be traded to the Knicks or leave Cleveland as a free agent in a couple of years, there has been talk that James’ buddy CC Sabathia may take the Yanks’ offer a bit more seriously if that all happens. Hmmmm.

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