2012 Record: 81-81, 3rd NL West
2012 Pythagorean Record: 86-76
Impact Player: C Miguel Montero
Impact Pitcher: RHP Ian Kennedy
Top Prospect: LHP Tyler Skaggs
Significant Acquisitions: 3B Martin Prado, RHP Brandon McCarthy, OF Cody Ross, SS Cliff Pennington, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Tony Sipp, LHP Matt Reynolds, 3B/1B Eric Chavez, 1B/OF Eric Hinske, RHP Randall Delgado, SS Didi Gregorius
Significant Departures: RF Justin Upton, CF Chris Young, RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Bryan Shaw, 3B Chris Johnson, 3B Ryan Wheeler, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Matt Lindstrom
Going into the offseason, forward-thinking baseball people seemed to have a decent opinion of Arizona Diamondbacks’ General Manager Kevin Towers. Sure, he’s an old school guy, but going back to his time as the GM of the Padres, he seemed to have a decent grasp on how to intelligently run a baseball team. Then, in a matter of a few wintery months, that opinion changed.
Right from the beginning of the offseason, Towers and his crew made questionable decision after questionable decision. First he acquired overpaid and overrated reliever Heath Bell from the Marlins in a three-team trade that saw him jettison talented centerfielder Chris Young; then he dealt another high-upside player in former third-overall pick Trevor Bauer. The right-hander had been in the organization for only a little over a year and had already skyrocketed to the Majors, but he apparently didn’t gel with the coaching staff and he was sent to Cleveland in another three-way trade that brought shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius over from Cincinnati.
Finally, Towers capped off his talent-purge by trading his most talented player in rightfielder Justin Upton to Atlanta for a package of players centered around third baseman Martin Prado.
Towers and his brass ostensibly acquired an overpaid reliever, two middling glove-first shortstops, a decent pitching prospect and Martin Prado for one of the game’s most talented outfielders, one of the game’s most highly-touted pitching prospects and an above-average centerfielder. He told the media that he wanted to build a team in manager Kirk Gibson’s image—tough, gritty and leadershippy. That means fans in Arizona are going to see a lot more Willie Bloomquist-types than Justin Upton-types from here on out.
Having said all that, the D’Backs are still a very good team. You could make the argument that even if they made themselves worse in the long run by trading away Bauer and Upton, et al, they might still have made themselves better for 2013. Whether or not you think that’s a good strategy is up to your philosophy on contention.
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