PHOENIX — Nearing the end of Cactus League media day at Chase Field on Monday, Bruce Bochy gave a hardy chuckle and cracked a wry grin. The San Francisco Giants manager had seen The Stew's rankings of the sexiest GMs in baseball, and that his former boss, Kevin Towers of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was at the top.
"So you had Towers No. 1," Bochy said. "We gave him such a hard time. We got a lot of play out of it."
Bochy preferred not to get into too many details, but part of the good-natured ribbing might have involved someone in the Giants front office taking an adult magazine and grafting Towers' head onto a male centerfold's body and presenting it to Towers. The Burt Reynolds Treatment. Such an image offers too narrow a definition of "sexy" as it pertains to The Stew's list. But it's all in good fun. Right, Kevin Towers?
"It's nice to be at the top of the pack in something," said Towers, tan as ever.
That's right. And when you're at the top, they're always trying to tear you down. And Towers wasn't taking much comfort in being No. 1 on this particular list.
"I’d rather be the best GM in the World Series than be the sexiest GM," Towers said. "That’s not going to get me a contract extension."
Towers' myriad transactions since mid-2012, on the other hand, just might accomplish that. Or they might not. Towers has taken some heat for his wheeling and dealing.
The D-backs have been doing an organizational makeover in the image of manager Kirk Gibson. They've gotten rid of players who don't fit and exchanged them for gritty grinders, scrappers who'll hustle, get their uniform dirty and scowl at you in the process. Just imagine Gibson as a player.
The most notable of these deals was trading slugger Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to Atlanta for Martin Prado and three prospects. The D-backs tried for 2 1/2 years to trade Upton, notes reporter Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and that's all they got for a 25-year-old slugger?
Criticism like that "doesn’t bother me," Towers said. "I look at it as a challenge. It's like I've said: 'If they like everything you're doing, it's probably gonna end up like crap.' "
Towers came up in San Diego organization and learned from "Trader" Jack McKeon, who frequently blitzed the rest of the league with, naturally, a lot of trades. Towers says "80-90" percent of the trades he's made are from ideas he initiated.
"It’s tough for people to understand the method to the madness, but when you’re inside the clubhouse and have your pulse on the club, you kind of know what needs to be fixed," Towers said. "Some of that you can’t talk about; it’s hard to be candid and explain why we’re doing things. That’s what makes it difficult. There’s a lot of things I can’t share. But I like the way our club is looking. I like the intangibles. There’s talent there. I think we’ll surprise some people."
It's tough to see where Arizona finishes this season. Most predictions probably have them finishing behind the Dodgers and Giants. You'll probably see some people pick the Padres ahead of the D-backs, too. But if Arizona makes the playoffs, Towers is going to look golden. Sexier.
[McKeon] told me, ‘You’re going to make a lot of mistakes,' " Towers said. "A good executive will recognize a mistake he made and get rid of it. A poor executive is always trying to make that mistake look good."
And what if his flurry of moves aren't working out? Why, Towers will make like Trader Jack — and make more trades.
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