In final year of Gibson, Towers’ contracts, D-backs going all in
No matter how promising — or, in this case, how marketable — a plan is at proposal, if it’s not properly executed, it’s technically unproven. And the plan could, thus, technically still be as promising as it seemed when first proposed.
Depending on your political leanings, the Affordable Care Act may serve as an example of this. To many, the plan itself had promise. It was the implementation that was flawed.
More related to the subject at hand, the Miami Marlins serve as another keen example of this phenomenon. New and improved name (if you’re a sucker for alliteration), new and improved stadium, new manager, new uniforms, new and improved payroll — so much promise. What could go wrong? No matter how promising the plan, though, the fact that Jeffrey Loria was the one at the helm was seemingly forgotten by most and, not even a season into their makeover, the Marlins couldn’t keep their head above water at the plan was abandoned — written off as a failure that won’t soon be forgotten.
The new energy, rebrand and boosted payroll weren’t bad ideas in and of themselves from the get-go. It was the way they were carried out that proved problematic. Too many egos crowded the clubhouse. Greed and impatience again showed to be Loria’s pets. Ozzie Guillen basically lost his final atom of sanity.
One baseball season from now, we’ll know once and for all if such is the case with the Arizona Diamondbacks, general manager Kevin Towers and their seeming commitment to the three Gs — Gibby, grit and grind.
On Monday’s D-backs Hot Stove Show on Arizona Sports 620, team president and CEO Derrick Hall reiterated the team’s pledge to adding payroll in 2014.
“We have committed to a payroll that is the highest in our team history,” he told the show.
The organization’s highest previous payroll came in 2002, when they dropped $102 million on their defending world championship team. Last season, meanwhile, payroll was slightly higher than $89 million, meaning Hall and company are prepared to add at least $14 million in 2014 in order to keep that commitment.
That such a surge in spending comes in the final contract year for both Towers and manager Kirk Gibson — with an unexercised team option available for each — can’t be written off as coincidence or happenstance.
Once and for all, Hall and the Diamondbacks are going to find out: did “Gibbyball,” as it were, ever have probity or was it just improperly rendered?
No duo in Diamondbacks’ history has ever had the resources that will be available to Towers and Gibson this season. The scapegoats of years’ past — Justin Upton, Heath Bell, Charles Nagy and Ian Kennedy, namely, among others — are gone. Left infield voids have seemingly been filled. Towers’ desire for a power-hitting corner outfielder has been met in the form of All-Star slugger Mark Trumbo. Health shouldn’t be any worse than in 2013, when the Diamondbacks lost second baseman Aaron Hill, catcher Miguel Montero, relief pitcher J.J. Putz, outfielders Adam Eaton and Cody Ross and starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill each for long stretches of the season.
To date, arguments could be made that things got in the way of Towers’ and Gibson’s blueprint, from injuries to a lack of front office support. But after 2014, the proof will be in the pudding and the pair will either be vindicated in their convictions and optioned for another year, maybe extended there beyond, or they’ll be dismissed and proven off-base.
With the offseason tweaking in full swing, Towers and Gibson may be in the process of enlisting troops for their last stand. Or they just may be piecing together the first winner since 2011.
Either way, they’re prepping for 2014 with the “all-in” of their bosses.