D-backs general manager Kevin Towers interacted with fans during a February web chat. With pitchers and catchers reporting to Salt River Fields on Feb. 20, Towers said the D-backs will not play cautiously this season as they seek to defend the NL West title.
Kevin_Towers: Thank you all for taking part in today's chat. Let's get started.
oscar43: In early January you met with Derrick Hall, Ken Kendrick, and Kirk Gibson and his staff. You said then that some individual and team goals were set. Can you share any of them with us?
Kevin_Towers: Well, the key thing for us is sustainability. We're going to stay humble. Our goal is to play as hard as we did last year as a ballclub. Continue to control the running game, as well as improve our baserunning. Our goal is to become a better team in that regard. We ran into a lot of outs. That'll be an area of focus for us.
dback2012: Will Stephen Drew be ready for Opening Day and will Bauer, Skaggs and Corbin get a shot at a starting position?
Kevin_Towers: With Stephen, he's progressing every week. He's swinging the bat now and doing baseball-specific agility drills, which is good. We still think there's a chance that he could be ready by Opening Day. Until we start playing games and see where he's at, so far the drills are in a controlled environment and game speed can be different. We'll have a better idea then. I would say that Skaggs, Corbin and Bauer will all get a lot of innings in Spring Training. We're not in the business of giving out rotation spots. We didn't do that last year. Guys have to come in and earn it. We have more depth this year than last year so it's less likely that one of those three break with us, but stranger things have happened in the past. We think very highly of all three and they'll all get a lot of exposure to Kirk Gibson and Charles Nagy and a lot of work in 'A' games.
vindeaz: Hi! I was glad to see you get Saunders under contract finally, and congrats on avoiding the festival of hurt feelings and ill will known as arbitration with Miggy and Roberts! What is your level of optimism on getting an extension with Miggy done by March?
Kevin_Towers: Arbitration is a process that I think either side would like to avoid if possible. I don't think that there's any winners in arbitration but sometimes it's a process we have to live with. Fortunately, we were able to find some middle ground and avoid the process before it took place. Miggy was happy, focused on the season at hand and we're both happy with the deal and glad it's behind us. I would say that we're quite a ways a part in dollars right now, but we've got five to six weeks now to try and work something out. The multi-year discussions will probably be similar to the one-year discussions we had, but sometimes both sides have to make concessions to get a deal done. There's a desire to get something worked out on both ends and that's a real plus.
whtev: Are you concerned with Kubel's defense in left field?
Kevin_Towers: It's hard to compare anybody to Parra, who won a Gold Glove out there, but I would say Kubel is an average or touch above average defender, even though he doesn't have Parra's arm or speed. I doubt he'll win a Gold Glove but I think he will handle himself well out there. His defense did not scare us away.
khalgren77: Why did they schedule the Opening Day game at 2:10 p.m. in the afternoon? Sure makes it hard for those who work.
Kevin_Towers: The game actually got moved to 4:10 p.m. locally so hopefully you can still make it out...
go_dbacks: Will Ryan Roberts stay at third?
Kevin_Towers: Yes. Ryan is our third baseman and I'm sure Geoff Blum will also see some time over there, but the majority of the playing time will be given to Ryan. He earned it last year the way he played.
bake304: Is Matt Davidson the D-backs' third baseman of the future? How soon?
Kevin_Towers: I would say Matt and Ryan Wheeler are two guys that we think could handle third base here in the near future. Both are coming off good seasons in Visalia and Mobile. Davidson will more than likely be at AA this year with Wheeler handling third base at AAA.
MichaelJay: What is the buzz at MLB with new salary cap or revenue sharing adjustments? Will this help enhance small market teams' competitiveness in the future?
Kevin_Towers: While there isn't a salary cap, there's a cap on signing bonuses for the Rule 4 draft which should create a little more parity between the small and big market clubs. It allows some of the smaller market clubs to sign the best players. We'll have a better idea with the new agreement after working under it for a year and going through a draft, etc.
oscar43: With all the young talent in the D-backs' system, both big league and Minor Leagues, do you have the feeling you could be sitting on a dynasty?
Kevin_Towers: I would say we're very excited about where the organization is, not only at the big league level but the Minor League level. To have three of the best prospects in the Top 25 is a credit to our scouting and development staff. We look at it year to year. Our goal is to win the West and go deep into postseason each year, but we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We came off a great year last year, but we have to play just as good a baseball to win the West. If we're looked at as a dynasty 10 years from now, we'd all be happy but we look at it one year at a time.
whtev: Have you talked to Parra since signing Kubel? How do you and Gibby plan on getting him into the lineup?
Kevin_Towers: I have not talked to Parra himself but I've talked to his agency. He'll still get a lot of ABs, they'll just be spread out among LF, CF and RF. He's still a big part of our ballclub and hopefully he'll contribute to the success of this organization.
box13x: Jerry DePoto played an important role in the organization. Who is taking over his responsibilities?
Kevin_Towers: A lot of the responsibility that Jerry had, while we did not replace him, we empowered Mike Bell, our farm director, and Ray Montgomery, our scouting director, to take on more autonomy than they had last year. I've got confidence in both individuals that they'll be able to do their role very well without someone overseeing both departments this year.
whtev: Any chance of seeing Kevin Munson or Even Marshall in the 'pen this year?
Kevin_Towers: Both had very good years last year. Munson had a very good Arizona Fall League and made huge strides with his development from early in the season to the end of the season. Evan Marshall might be on the fastest track for somebody coming out of Kansas State. He pitched very effectively at three different levels and in instructional ball.
Kevin_Towers: Both players are certainly on our radar screen. But with the depth we have in our big league bullpen, more innings for them to work on their fastball and secondary pitches will only benefit them for the future.
TheCoach: It appears to me that the D-backs have been a fundamentally flawed MLB club when it comes to their bunting form and execution. Why is it there is not more emphasis put on bunting form and execution by the D-backs field coaches?
Kevin_Towers: I would say that is one of the areas that Kirk and I discussed this winter. Our everyday players need to execute the sacrifice bunt better than they did last year and sliding is an area we plan to address, too. The sacrifice bunt can win or lose you games if you don't execute and it's an area we're aware of and plan to address during Spring Training and in the season so that we're more effective.
oscar43: Mike DeMark, a former Frontier League player (Florence, 2006) pitched very well last season in AA ball. Do you look at him as a potential closer or is he best suited as a situational type gut?
Kevin_Towers: I knew Mike when he was in the Padres system when I was over there. He solidified our Double-A bullpen and he'll get the chance more than likely to pitch at the back end of our bullpen in Triple-A Reno and he has a chance to be a contributor to our big league 'pen if not this year, in the near future.
ecarlton: Love the moves the D-backs made this offseason. Are we done or are you still looking for another piece?
Kevin_Towers: I would say that we're done at the big league level. We have 60 players coming to camp, 31 pitchers. We feel we have depth all around the infield and the outfield. The only real needs are Minor League needs. We're looking for middle infielders and catchers. It's an area where we lack depth in our system.
rivverz: With all of the pitching in the Minors currently for the D-backs, what will be the focus in the 2012 Draft?
Kevin_Towers: We pick 26th this year, so it's hard to identify what's going to fall to us at that spot. We're hopeful we can continue to pick at the back end of the Draft, as that would mean our big league club is playing well. We're probably focused more on position players this year, specifically middle infield, catching and trying to bring more athletes/speed into the system.
44owings: Do you forsee being more agressive in the International Free Agent market in the coming years?
Kevin_Towers: With the new CBA, most organizations will more than likely be more agressive in the international market because of the cap on the Rule 4 draft (the June amateur Draft). We'll be much more aggressive than we have in years past.
bnack: Where are we likely to see Chris Young in the bating order this year?
Kevin_Towers: I'll leave those decisions up to Kirk Gibson. He seemed to respond fairly well in the five or six hole, but the lineup decisions are up to him. As he gets a chance to look at Kubel and Aaron Hill, we'll have a better idea of what works best and gives us our best chance of scoring runs.
oscar43: Of the 20 non-roster Spring Training invitees, who if any, do you see that may surprise folks and break camp with the big league club?
Kevin_Towers: Tyler Skaggs and Evan Marshall are most likely but it's a difficult year for non-roster guys to make the team because of our depth. A lot will depend on our health. If we stay healthy, it could be tough but if there's an injury, that would make it more likely for one of those other guys to find their way onto the 25-man roster.
sirsimon: Give us a personal Kevin Towers W-L prediction for the 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kevin_Towers: Sorry. I'm not into making predictions. My hope is that we improve on our 94 wins in 2011, but players will dictate that once they take the field on Opening Day...
Jypsy_Jen: Will there be 'shaving hair bets' this year? (Yes, I had to ask.) I enjoy the fun you guys create amongst yourselves, it's contagious.
Kevin_Towers: Not from Kevin Towers. Maybe Derrick Hall!
MichaelJay: Have you seen Moneyball and what did you think of it?
Kevin_Towers: I saw it two days ago, actually, right after we had settled our case with Miguel Montero. We had seven hours before our flight left Tampa so those of us in baseball ops decide to watch it. Liked Brad Pitt but didn't care much for the movie. I didn't like the way it portrayed scouts.
whtev: Do you have to be a bit cautious about this season, because the expectations are so high?
Kevin_Towers: I wouldn't say we'll ever be cautious. When you're cautious, bad things happen. We've got respect for the entire NL West ... the players and the GMs. I have a much better feel this year of who we are after having a chance to watch the club for a year. We're going to be in attack mode again. That's why we won last year and we won't play the game cautiously this year. I won't be cautious as a GM. I've got high expectations for this ball club, as does Kirk Gibson.
Kevin_Towers: Thank you all very much for taking part in the chat today. We look forward to seeing you out at Salt River Fields starting Feb. 20 and perhaps at FanFest on Feb. 11.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.