Kevin Towers must focus on the real issue
On the heels of the decision to dismiss pitching coach Charles Nagy and first base coach Steve Sax, the D-backs GM unloaded on both the Dodgers and his own clubhouse.
On the game in mid-September where the Dodgers hit six homers vs. Arizona: "I was sitting behind home plate that game and when it showed up on the Diamondvision of stuffing bananas down their throats, I felt like we were a punching bag….literally, if I would have had a carton of baseballs I would have fired them into the dugout from where I was sitting behind home plate.
On his reaction afterwards: Following the game he had "a few choice words for the (coaching) staff."
On Paul Goldschmidt getting hit later in the season: "If Goldy's getting hit, it's an eye for an eye, somebody's going down or somebody's going to get jackknifed."
On how he will approach this in spring training: "It will be duly noted that it's going to be an eye for an eye and we're going to protect one another."
And even though you can't get rid of every contract of every offending player, that doesn't mean they won't try: "If not, if you have options there's ways to get you out of here and you don't follow suit or you don't feel comfortable doing it, you probably don't belong in a Diamondbacks uniform."
Strong stuff. Appreciate the passion. And yet, not really the point.
The point is that the Diamondbacks were an average baseball team. Not good enough to win the division for two years running now. All this talk of "grit" and "grind" has now been replaced by "toughness," or at the very least a lack of it. It all distracts from the core issue.
The Diamondbacks just weren't good enough. That's all that matters.
If you want to go get a bunch of badasses in the offseason, fine. Just make sure they can play ball first, be vigilantes second.
It's understood this is easier said than done. The most inane argument made during the Dodgers pool party went something like this: If you don't like the way they're celebrating then you should have won the game. Silly argument because it assumes you can control every single game every single night. Hypothetically you can, in reality it's impossible. It's easy for someone sitting in the cheap seats to advise the club to get better, not tougher.
That's precisely what must be done, however. And the fear here is that Towers and his staff will be distracted by this notion of building a tougher ball club. Remember, the last offseason was defined by the team trying to acquire a certain type of ballplayer (grit, grind, etc.). Who's to say it won't happen again? The guiding force this offseason must be how to beat the Dodgers and not how to beat them up. Every kid who grows up playing sports knows that pointing to the scoreboard is the ultimate revenge.
Towers is clearly piping hot right now over how this season ended and he blew off a little steam on Tuesday. But once tempers cool it must be talent, and not toughness, that rules the day. Towers, in particular, has to do a little self-reflecting to figure out why this team that he built and thought was good enough, wasn't.
The D-backs did display an alarming amount of passivity the last couple months of the season. But ask yourself, is that why they didn't win enough games?
Like a great magic trick, the idea of toughness seems like a diversion to keep your eyes off of what really happened.
Dave Burns, Co-host of Burns & Gambo