As I’m sure you’re aware, Kevin Towers was fired last week. Then he wasn’t fired. In a somewhat confusing set of events, Towers was relieved of his GM duties, then offered a different position within the organization. So his firing may just be a demotion, or it might be a firing. Everyone’s confused, but then again, this is the Arizona Diamondbacks where, on many recent occasions, things haven’t always made sense.
The potential retention of Towers is perplexing. For starters, when was the last time a GM was removed, then invited back in a different capacity? While I’m sure it’s happened before, it’s obviously very uncommon. It appear that Towers will wait until the next GM is named before making a decision as to whether or not he wishes to return or, likely, pursue opportunities elsewhere. This makes sense as he wants to know who his boss might be before making a decision.
Instant reactions from fans suggested that most people would really just like to see Kevin Towers out of the organization altogether, but, as Craig Calcatarra of Hardball Talk notes, it might not be that easy. Towers has supporters all over the game, not just in Arizona.
(Towers is) said by far more people, however, to be a candidate for a job in San Diego, where he used to be the GM. The Padres recently hired A.J. Preller as their general manager, but it’s been speculated for some time that ownership would welcome Towers back in an advisory role. That two teams who have fired Kevin Towers as their GM nonetheless want him to be involved in the front office somehow probably speaks a lot to how much Towers is admired and respected in the game, even if his moves as GM didn’t work out too terribly well.
Let’s just assume, for a second, that Towers wishes to return to Arizona. In what capacity could he still be useful to the organization? Early trickles of information suggest that he could be used to oversee or strengthen the organization’s scouting and analytics departments. The scouting aspect of this makes sense, as Towers has long been known to be a good talent evaluator, especially with pitchers. If you don’t recall, plucking young pitchers from other organizations and turning them into cheap, useful pieces is what Towers’ tenure in San Diego is most famous for. Well, that and the losses. And while Diamondbacks fans might not love the trades he’s made, some of the talent acquisitions, notably from the last several drafts, have been relatively good. There’s a strong argument to be made that Towers didn’t understand value, but he does have some scouting and talent-recognition abilities.
The second part of that nugget above is perplexing. Using Towers to “strengthen” the analytics operations of the organization seems counterintuitive. This is a GM who was hired to replace Josh Byrnes who was faulted for relying to heavily upon the numbers. As the pendulum swings, Towers was a move nearly 180-degrees in the opposite directions of an analytics-based approach. Given the anti-analytics comments we’ve heard from Towers and his staff over the past few seasons, it seems strange that the organization would identify this as an area for Towers’ efforts. But he seems to be well-regarded in terms of leadership, and perhaps even without a strong understanding of analytics, he may be able to help organize the analytics efforts and make them more applicable.
The odds of Kevin Towers returning to the Arizona Diamondbacks seem slim to me. The relationship between him and the rest of the front office seem like it would be strange to maintain and would obviously be altered from the past given the new change in leadership. It doesn’t appear that Towers would be completely out of options if he were to turn Arizona down as he’s made a long and prosperous career in the game. He’ll be able to land somewhere.
Even offering a position to Towers in the first place seems perplexing irrespective of what type of position was offered. From an image standpoint, I’d think the organization would like relatively widespread turnover if for nothing more than just a fresh set of faces to appease a beleaguered fan base. As Ryan put it well on Friday, turnover is needed, but it has to be calculated to achieve success. But, I’d contest that the turnover has an alternate purpose so Diamondbacks fans can put this era of failure behind them. Bringing back Towers won’t help ease fans’ concerns but it may be part of a calculated turnaround. We’ll have to be patient before we know whether or not that’s the case, but it appears that the Diamondbacks still see value in Towers even when the general public is clearly ready to move on.
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