The Arizona Diamondbacks aren't even playing October baseball and still the team finds itself in the news cycle this week.
General manager Kevin Towers appeared on Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo Tuesday and was not shy about expressing his disdain for the way in which the D-backs let themselves get pushed around by the Los Angeles Dodgers after the All-Star Break.
Towers relayed a story about going down to the D-backs clubhouse to talk with the coaching staff after his team was thoroughly embarrassed in an 8-1 loss at Dodger Stadium and how he was disappointed that the conversation didn't have much of a lasting impact down the stretch.
"You'd think the GM comes down and makes it a point to talk to the staff about it that at we need to start protecting our own and doing things differently," Towers said. "Probably a week later Goldy gets dinged, and no retaliation. It's like 'wait a minute.'
"Not that I don't take any of our guys from a lesser standpoint, but if Goldy's getting hit, it's an eye for an eye, somebody's going down or somebody's going to get jackknifed."
While Towers has since clarified his 'eye for an eye' and 'jacknifed' comments in an interview with MLB.com writer Steve Gilbert, media members were not too fond of the GM's candid remarks, believing he was advocating his pitchers to employ the bean ball when necessary.
Here's the just a sampling of the national reaction:
• When Dodgers are the topic, D-backs need to stuff a towel in it (Los Angeles Times - Bill Plaschke)
For now, one can only look at Towers' classless, playground-bully words with pity.
Pity, first, Kirk Gibson, one of the toughest players in the modern era, for working for a guy who just publicly accused him of not being tough enough. How do Gibson and Towers even share the same meeting rooms after this? How does Gibson maintain the respect of his team after being so blatantly disrespected by his boss?
Pity, second, the Diamondback organization, which once again comes across as insecure and Dodger-phobic.
• Diamondbacks need talent, not toughness (ESPN.com - David Schoenfield)
Offseason deals weren't the reason Arizona failed to win 90 games -- Upton wasn't that great with the Braves and Bauer didn't do anything for the Indians -- but they speak to a mindset: grit and guts over talent. The Diamondbacks' way.
How'd that work out in 2013?
So now the Diamondbacks will add throwing more at opposing hitters, grit on top of grit. Towers cited an incident when MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt got hit and nobody retaliated. OK. You know how many pitches Goldschmidt got hit by in 2013? Three. It's not like opposing pitchers were having target practice at him all season.
But whatever. Easier to blame the pitching coach rather than blame the fact that maybe the team just wasn't good enough.
• ESPN's Kurkjian on D-backs GM's comments: 'This is Kevin Towers' (ArizonaSports.com)
ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian explained Kevin Towers' stance and that it's not a surprise to people within the industry.
"This is Kevin Towers. This is what everyone in baseball knows him to be," Kurkjian told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo Wednesday. "He is a tough guy who is not afraid to speak his mind. Even though he's a young-ish guy, he's an old-school guy in every way. And being a former pitcher, he is not about to let anybody get away with anything."
• Grit isn't enough: Now the D-backs general manager wants his team to be dirty too (HardballTalk.com)
If Kevin Towers fired Nagy for not instructing pitchers to hit more batters I hope Nagy told him where to shove it when he walked out the door. If he wants D-backs players "jack-knifing" the opposition, I hope he gets out of his friggin' armchair when the benches clear and starts mixing it up with other players.
And, if he continues to stand by these comments — and if he really did instruct Nagy to have pitchers plunk guys — I hope Major League Baseball disciplines him, just as it would discipline any pitcher it was convinced intentionally threw at a batter. Indeed, MLB should discipline him more for ordering it from the position of authority he inexplicably continues to hold.
• Is there room for Wade Miley under that bus? (HardballTalk.com)
Paul Goldschmidt was hit three times all year, on April 22 by the Giants, on July 31 by the Rays and on Sept. 19 by the Dodgers.
Interesting enough, Wade Miley was the pitcher all three times Goldschmidt was hit. And he was the one who never retaliated. The sophomore left-hander hit just four batters all season.
So, get rid of him, obviously. He's making practically the minimum, so he's not one of those guys who would be "contractually tough to move."