As part of the D-backs monthly chat series, Kevin Towers participated in his first chat as D-backs general manager. He answered questions from fans about new hitting coach Don Baylor, D-backs prospects in the Arizona Fall League, who will be the Opening Day first baseman and Jarrod Parker's path to the big leagues.
Kevin Towers: Hey D-backs' fans. I'm excited to chat with all of you for the first time as D-backs' General Manager. Let's get started.
elmore1: I am very disappointed that Adam LaRoche has not been asked to come back. How come?
Towers: We appreciate the fine season that Adam put together in 2010 but felt for the team to improve in 2011 and beyond that Adam's contract would have prevented us from improving the team in other areas, most notably the bullpen and the bench. We have chosen to allocate those dollars in other areas we felt were more important to improve the team.
dbacker20: At first glance, it appears Don Baylor has an excellent level of experience, but doesn't it concern you that he's been the hitting coach for five different teams, but never for more than two years?
Towers: Industry-wide, the hitting coach position tends to be the most vital position on a Major League coaching staff. Don's resume speaks for itself in what he has accomplished for those five different clubs. Most recently, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki were students under Don and enjoyed two of the best seasons they have had in their career. Chipper Jones won an MVP in 1999 when Don was the Braves' hitting coach. Don brings a presence, experience and knowledge to the D-backs. Those three things were key to us choosing him as a member of your coaching staff.
gremlin15: How is Jarrod Parker doing? What is the outlook for him helping the D-backs in 2011?
Towers: I had a chance to see Jarrod Parker pitch at Chase Field near the end of Instructional League this fall. He showed velocity in the mid 90s with command and an above-average breaking ball as well as changeup. I would not be surprised if he finds his way to Chase Field by the end of the 2011 season. And when he does, I look for him to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.
dbaxemce: I'm hoping for good things from that outstanding staff you've put together! I see we claimed Brian Sweeney on waivers, but a friend say she saw that the Mariners reclaimed him -- can this be done?
Towers: We did claim Brian Sweeney from the Mariners yesterday and he was not reclaimed. We see Brian being a part of our Major League bullpen next year.
hotelguy: This team has had a lot of "potential" over the last several seasons. What needs to happen for potential to turn into wins?
Towers: I feel the same way. I see a lot of potential with this club. It starts with starting pitching and I like the nucleus of young starters we have on this ballclub. But to be a successful team, you have to have a bullpen that does not blow leads and an offense that continues to put pressure on the opponent. We need to cut down on strikeouts, add more contact-type hitters and put pressure on the opponent every inning.
murdog1: What are the chances the D-backs acquire Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish?
Towers: Currently the reports out of Japan are that Yu Darvish may not be posted, contrary to earlier reports that he would be.
gremlin15: Who can we expect to see out in left field/first base come Opening Day?
Towers: Currently, our in-house candidates are Brandon Allen at first base and Cole Gillespie and Gerardo Parra in left field. But we will be looking to upgrade both positions this offseason either through free agency or trades.
nvdbacks: Where will Jarrod Parker pitch for the opening of the 2011 season? Will he be in Triple-A Reno or Double-A Mobile?
Towers: More than likely, Jarrod will start the season in Double-A Mobile mainly because of the colder weather at the start of the season in Triple-A Reno. But he may surprise us and start the season in Phoenix if he has a strong Spring Training and appears healthy. arcarls: Who has impressed you, D-backs or otherwise, in the Arizona Fall League? Have you checked out Bryce Harper?
Towers: A.J. Pollock and Marc Krauss have been two of our better performing players in the Arizona Fall League. I plan on watching Josh Collmenter pitch tomorrow night in Phoenix. I had a chance to see Bryce Harper in the Aflac high school games in San Diego two years ago and he definitely stood out in those games as one of the top high school positional players in the country. Reports out of the Arizona Fall League is that he has a really good chance to become a star in our game.
arcarls: What can Justin Upton do to bounce back from a down 2010 season?
Towers: Justin plans on spending his offseason here in Phoenix to strengthen his shoulder and to work hard to condition his body and allow him to hopefully play in 150 games for us in 2011. If Justin can stay healthy, it is my belief that he can be one of the top positional players in the National League.
BaseballEvolution: I realize that you haven't had a chance to see everybody in the farm system play, but can you tell us which prospects might impact the 2011 big league roster the most?
Towers: I have not had a chance to see much of the D-backs' farm system but have currently been reading many reports from our scouts and development staff on all of our players in our system. The two guys that have a chance to impact our club would be Jarrod Parker and Wade Miley, based on my conversations with Jerry Dipoto and Rico Brogna.
murdog1: Are the D-backs going to win next season under your direction or is this a multi-year process?
Towers: Yes, we are going to win next year! I do not believe in long-term plans. The fans do not deserve it nor do any of our hard-working employees in the organization.
nanocean: Pitching is important but without good defense what happens?
Towers: I am a big believer in defense, especially at Chase Field. We will not be able to be successful with marginal defenders in the infield or the outfield. So any changes to our everyday lineup, defense will also be a priority in the players we choose to add to our roster.
hotelguy: You mention wanting to cut down the strikeout totals, which I have been begging to happen for years. How does Don Baylor convince guys like Upton and Reynolds to change their approach, and if they don't do they become expendable?
Towers: First way to cut down on the strikeout total is to change the personnel in the lineup, with the focus more on contact and pitch recognition. Those are the qualities I am looking for in a hitter. Those are areas that Don Baylor will influence our hitters to improve upon to be more successful.
Towers: Thank you to everybody that joined us on the chat today. I look forward to doing this again in the future as we get closer to Spring Training. Go D-backs!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.