This is not a unique story. A team is bad, so the boss gets fired. It happens all the time, in every sport, in every city.
And yet, it always feels new and significant. Why does it always feel this way, even with the writing on the wall? Perhaps because the very person who was fired was the one preaching hope, patience, and wait-'til-next-year.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will have to hire someone else to preach hope, patience, and wait-'til-next-year: the club fired GM Kevin Towers this morning. In his four-year tenure in the desert, Towers did little to assuage the pennant dreams of D-backs fans, and not much to prepare the organization for the future.
Big moves and must reads
Big moves and must reads
Towers failed in many of the same ways others have, trading away the guys who were right and signing the guys who were wrong. Every erstwhile GM has a cache of damning errors; these three moves are what ultimately got Towers fired.
The great pitching exodus
Towers seemed determined to trade away every promising starter in the Grand Canyon State. He swapped Ian Kennedy for Joe Thatcher (on the Angels now) and Matt Stites (who is awful now). He shipped Trevor Bauer, whose demeanor rubbed many the wrong way, to Cleveland for Didi Gregorius, who hasn't actualized his promise yet.
He said good-bye to Tyler Skaggs (and Adam Eaton) to acquire more power (and got Mark Trumbo, certainly no slouch). Under-the-radar pitching acquisitions like Randall Delgado (from the Justin Upton trade) have stayed under the radar.
The Justin Upton trade
This deal is what we'll remember about Kevin Towers' time in Arizona. Seeking to change the culture and build around "hard-nosed" players, Towers dealt the easygoing Upton (and Chris Johnson) to Atlanta for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Brandon Drury, and Zeke Spruill.
The deal itself has of course not worked out -- Upton is putting up a top-five MVP season in Atlanta; Prado is a Yankee, Drury is in the minors, and Spruill hasn't gotten much run. The trade, though, was a microcosm of the Towers tenure (and manager Kirk Gibson's possibly expiring tenure as well): jettisoning good baseball players for possibly not-as-good baseball players with dirt on their jerseys.
2014's big payroll
Coming off two consecutive .500 seasons, the Diamondbacks amassed a franchise record $108 million payroll to begin 2014. Towers paid second baseman Aaron Hill ($11 million). He paid catcher Miguel Montero ($10 million). He paid pitcher Trevor Cahill (almost $8 million) and the aforementioned Trumbo (almost $5 million).
The team imploded before getting off the runway, opening the season 8-22, which is bad. They lost everyone to injury. None of this, you could say, is Towers' fault -- the injuries, the bad start -- but of course it falls on the GM. It happens all the time: injuries, failed expectations, promising players who don't keep their promises. In this specific time and place, in 2014, in the Arizona desert, these are the things that got Kevin Towers fired.