November Chat with the Diamondbacks

On the first Thursday of every month the Arizona Diamondbacks host an on-line chat with a member of the team’s front office. Typically the chat is with Diamondbacks CEO/President Derrick Hall who answers questions from the fans for 30 minutes.

For the November on-line chat the host was the newly appointed General Manager Kevin Towers. This is the first opportunity the fans have had to interact with the General Manager.

Since many of the questions asked each month understandingly deal with the team’s roster it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain some insight into the direction the Diamondbacks roster will be taking this off-season.

The chat began with the fan’s already questioning the decisions the team is making. In particular why first baseman Adam LaRoche would not be returning next season a result of the Diamondbacks declining his option for 2011.

Towers’ answer was indicative of what we should expect this winter. While LaRoche had a fine season for Arizona, his salary and make-up does not fit with the direction this team will be going. The Diamondbacks have a finite budget and many holes that need to be filled.

The bullpen is a complete shambles and will need to be recreated from the ground up. Add to that the fact that there is very little veteran presence on the bench and it becomes clear that the money paid to LaRoche could be better utilized in other areas.

You would be hard pressed to argue against those facts but it was a comment Towers made late in the chat that was even more telling. A fan asked how new hitting coach Don Baylor will approach cutting down the strikeouts. Towers response was, “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.”

While LaRoche drove in 100 runs last season, he also struck out 172 times second only to Mark Reynolds. By not re-signing LaRoche, Towers has substantially reduced the team strikeout totals.

This statement does not bode well for third baseman Mark Reynolds and his team-leading 211 punch-outs. Clearly Reynolds has a bulls eye on his back to either change his approach at the plate or he will not be playing at Chase Field.

Towers also suggested the Diamondbacks will be looking at corner infielders and a left-fielder during the off-season and understand that some of these holes will be filled through trades in addition to free agency.

From a pitching perspective, Towers had high praise for Jarrod Parker and admitted that Parker could be a member of the Diamondbacks pitching staff as early as next season depending on how he does during Spring Training.

There are still concerns with his health coming off Tommy John surgery last year but so far Parker is ahead of schedule. Towers expectation is that once Parker reaches the major league level he will become a front of the rotation type pitcher taking over the mantle of staff ace formerly held by Brandon Webb.

Other questions by the fans surrounded the reasoning behind hiring the coaching staff they did. Most of the comments were positive by the fans meaning at least at this point the team is restoring some level of confidence, something that has not been the case the previous two years.


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