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If Arizona Diamondbacks are wimps, Kevin Towers should blame himself

LISTEN: Kevin Towers, General Manager for the D-backs

As the saying goes, “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”

It is a phrase that, among other things, means retaliation rarely leads to positive results.

Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers apparently does not subscribe to those words, which have been attributed to Gandhi.

No, the GM who has made it clear over the last month or so how disappointed he was in his team’s unwillingness to stick up for itself, told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Tuesday he wanted to throw baseballs into the L.A. Dodgers’ dugout after he saw them celebrating a blowout win over his team.

His issue that night was the D-backs, who gave up six home runs on the way to an 8-1 loss, did not hit any batters that night or the next. Towers explained he felt like his team was “a punching bag.”

“That’s not who we are as Diamondbacks, that’s not how — I mean, it’s a reflection on Gibby, on myself, on our entire organization. They slapped us around and we took it.”

Towers’ frustration with his team’s lack of fight from his pitching staff may have some validity to it. After all, sometimes you have to punch back, even if you’re not going to win that individual battle. Send a message that you are not going to give up, that you won’t be bullied, that you may still win the war.

Show that you are not the antithesis of the team Towers claimed to be building.

But alas, the D-backs did no such thing. Listening to Towers, you’d get the impression the team was the grittiest group of wimps in baseball, and he plans on changing that.

“Some of them, contractually, it’s tough to move,” he said. “But I think come 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.

“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.”

It’s worth noting that the one pitcher the D-backs had who was seemingly willing to throw inside and plunk a batter, Ian Kennedy, was traded away during the middle of the season.

And therein lies what could be the real issue here.

The whole idea behind the 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks was to build a team that would play hard for 27 outs, refusing to give in while playing baseball the right way. But according to Towers, his team — or at least, its pitchers — did not know how to properly defend their teammates.

So, naturally, Towers and the team went and fired pitching coach Charles Nagy.

Towers noted that the lack of willingness to throw inside and hit batters does not necessarily fall on the coaching staff, as the pitchers themselves have to feel comfortable doing such things. So, it stands to reason, unless the team’s hurlers just plain did not like their teammates, they were not on board with the idea of plunking folks just for the sake of revenge.

So where does the blame for that lie?

Of the 19 pitchers to throw at least nine innings for the D-backs this year, 14 were acquired by Towers. The five who weren’t — Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Ian Kennedy, Josh Collmenter and Tyler Skaggs — were already with the organization when he arrived, and were either some of the team’s best pitchers or are some of its best prospects.

As my colleague Dave Burns wrote, the real issue here is not that the Diamondbacks didn’t back up their teammates or stick up for themselves, but rather that they were not talented enough to prevent the need to back up their teammates or stick up for themselves. That is the real issue here.
But Towers wants to focus on other perceived problems, and that’s his prerogative. No one wants the D-backs to roll over and play dead, which is essentially what happened this season.

This was Towers’ team, though, so if the issues he is complaining about are legitimate he needs only look in the mirror for someone to blame.

Anyone — including Towers — should be able to see that.