A third place finish with a record of 81-81 left a bad taste in Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers’ mouth, prompting changes that have not gone unnoticed by NL West front offices.
The new faces in Arizona’s clubhouse include third baseman Martin Prado, outfielder Cody Ross and starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy, as well as relievers Heath Bell, Matt Reynolds and Tony Sipp.
Managers and general managers of the Cactus League’s fifteen teams convened at Chase Field Monday for spring training media day, where GMs from Arizona’s four division foes shared thoughts on Towers’ club heading into 2013.
Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who put together the most expensive roster in baseball, said the NL West is one of the most unpredictable divisions in baseball, but said it wouldn’t be a shock if the D-backs were in the race again.
“In the NL West there’s always a team that surprises,” he said. “Arizona had a tremendous year in 2011 and not a lot of people were expecting that at this time of year in 2011.
“It’s ultra-competitive and even teams that go through tough periods have a chance.”
Brian Sabean, who is the GM of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, said he’s seen Towers put together winning rosters before and this time is no different.
“They’ve been very active, I’m not surprised. If you remember 2011 they spanked the division pretty good,” he said. “I’m sure they were disappointed last year but I’m certainly not surprised. Kevin has done this a long time and is used to re-tooling, in San Diego and here.”
Ex-D-backs and now current San Diego Padres GM Josh Byrnes is also very familiar with Towers and gives his rival kudos.
“They’re a good team, very good team. I certainly have known it well and they’re one team that seems like their season is different than preseason predictions, that’s sort of the way this division is,” Byrnes said. “On paper they look good, they have a lot of good players and excellent pitching so I’m sure they’ll be right in the mix.”
Colorado Rockies GM Bill Geivett said he has a lot of respect for Kevin Towers and anticipates his rival’s squad making a run at the division.
“I’ve watched him work in San Diego and now here, I know there’s going to be a good bullpen when he’s around and he has a way of having good teams,” he said. “I really look for them to be contending and competing for the top spots in the division this year.”