Me, Elsewhere: Alchemist at Work

My latest at Baseball Prospectus (free!) focuses on the efforts of former Padres GM Kevin Towers on behalf of his new team. The Arizona Diamondbacks, much as his old team did in 2010, are surprising everyone this season with their strong play.

Although much of the groundwork was laid by his predecessors, Towers has added his own unique touch, revamping a troubled bullpen and patching holes with discarded remnants of imagined futures. One success story is former Padres farmhand Wily Mo Pena, who has provided a recent boost to the Snakes’ bench despite a less-than-subtle approach at the plate.

For Padres fans, the article provides a fun look back on Towers’ work in San Diego. It is good to remember the man who — among many other things — turned Brian Sikorski, Jon Adkins, and Ben Johnson into Mike Adams and Heath Bell.

The Padres reached the postseason just once in 27 seasons before Towers arrived. They did the same four times in 14 years under his watch, and for this, we owe him a great deal.

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15 Responses »

  1. Have you seen what the Ems are doing???

    13 straight Ws!!!

    Go Ems!!!


  2. KG @ BP today …

    Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, Padres (Triple-A Tucson)
    He just can’t stay here much longer. Anthony Rizzo had many people all but forgetting about Blanks during the first part of the season, but Blanks has, for lack of a better phrase, gone completely nuts at Triple-A. He went 9-for-18 with four home runs over the weekend, is batting .411/.477/.884 in 24 games since arriving in Tucson, and Rizzo is batting .174 in 23 big-leagues games. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the right move is on an immediate basis, but finding out what to do with both players could prove to be a bit more challenging down the road.

    … ‘nuf said!!! :-)

  3. On Topic … Thanks, KT!

    I enjoyed hearing him talk at a BP “pizza feed” … he’s a smart guy, very relationaly savvy … he was very good for the Padres … and I’m good moving on / trying a new team of folks.

  4. We need another BP-feed at Petco, GY.

    Sean Burroughs sighting:

    Usually, no matter how succesful the season is, it’s agitating to lose to our natural rival, the Mariners. Next to beating the Dodgers, winning the interleague vs. the Mariners is a must for a season to be satisfying. (Anybody believes this, is as crazy as our beloved commissioner).
    Not this season, I’m happy the Mariners dominated the Padres. This actually gives the Padres some room in the loss column in case the Giants decided to lose the next two series vs. our team and, thus, give rise to the hope that the FO should be buyer rather than seller. I say, win/lose, start trading players and get ready for next season. Let’s get a jump on winning next year and the future. My team is leading the ML in being shut-out and the starting pitcher aren’t exactly dominating to be able to overcome the lack of offense. Our bullpen will weather the loss of Bell, Qualls, and possibly Adams (though, I’d prefer he’ll be the closer after Bell, if the offer is overwhelming, why not). Ludwick, Hawpe can go and the Padres have enough OF to call up and replace their production. Get busy FO, trade the pieces (add prospect to the minors), get some relieve in salary to sign those talented draftees we got. Let’s plan for the playoff…next 5 seasons.

  5. oh, thanks, KT and his roaming scouts.

  6. …oh, good luck, KT, with the Diamondbacks. Looking forward to beating your teams for the near future and going forward. :)

  7. Didi, you took the words out of my mouth.

    Trade the pieces, build for 2012, 2013…

    I’d love for Mike Adams to be our closer going forward. Extend him, pay him good money, and let’s ride that horse for the next several years. His numbers (this season, last season, career) are phenomenal. Better than Bell’s. Let’s hitch our wagon to that horse now.

  8. Question for anyone/everyone:

    If, hypothetically, the Padres could trade Bell, Ludwick, Qualls for three solid prospects, what positions would you want them to address? For me: 2B, SS, and Catcher.

    Compared to those three positions, I am more comfortable with where we are throughout the organization at 1B, 3B, OF, and pitching.

    I could probably be convinced that we’re alright at 2B, since Belnome is playing well, and Spangenberg is off to a great start, but for now, I’d like to shore that position up with a very good young prospect.

    Anyone else?

  9. @USMC – It really depends on what level of the minors the players are at. If we could obtain an advanced catcher like a Mesoraco or Grandal then I would want catching. With the recent draft and International signing I would not want another catching prospect that is below A ball, unless the prospect was simply too good to pass on. The Padres are fine at 2B with Forsythe, Belnome, and Spangenberg. Short stop is weak since Cumberland is an unknown status at this point. I like Profar from the Rangers organization a lot, he is still 3 years away but has more upside than any other SS in our system. I would also be OK with getting some quality minor league bullpen arms…. the Padres have been able to get guys like Adams, Gregerson, Bell, and Scribner in the past and may need to restock the system if we trade Bell, Adams, Qualls and bring up our current depth. In the end though, I will take any prospect that projects to be an “impact” player.

  10. I like this tweet from FollowThePadres …

    Regarding #Padres Stauffer ERA stat. The 5 guys ahead of him in ERA since ’10? Johnson, Wainwright, Halladay, Weaver, Felix.

  11. re: Cumberland …

    … sez …

    The playing career of shortstop Drew Cumberland, once one of the top prospects in the Padres system, could be over due to his vertigo problems. He won’t play the rest of this season. And while the Padres have given him time to determine his future, he has told friends in the organization that he is looking for another role in baseball.

    … sad :-(

  12. @LM: thanks for the update. man, that’s sad. so looking forward to having a SS one of this day. good luck to Cumberland.

    Bartlett with another error, this time it led to a tying run.
    Glad Tim Stauffer got the win on an off-night.
    Nice play by Qualls to get the runner at homeplate after walking said runner at the end of the 16-pitch battle. Good job by Nick, also, apparently from the radio.
    I’m gonna have to see the replay of that.

  13. Thanks KT!

    I’ll always have fond memories of KT and his trading prowess and ability to seemingly find relievers in the strangest of places. It sure was fun watching the ’98 team and later the teams of the mid 2000′s.

    A few years ago I wrote an email to KT at his Padres email address. Basically, a quick thank you from an East Coast fan, etc. I was surprised when he actually took the time to respond. I’m paraphrasing, but the response was something along the lines of “Thanks for your support. We’re looking to bring back some of the magic of that ’98 team. Stay tuned.”. Pretty cool.

    On an unrelated note, anyone remember the name of the guy who covered the Padres for (I think) circa 2000? Sandy something? What a nice guy…we talked via email quite often, and he’d ship out media guides and the like at no cost. Can’t beat that.

  14. KT was a master wheeler-dealer, and he had to be without a farm to fall back on. The problem was, after 14 years on his watch, the farm still wasn’t producing. I could be cynical and say he’d have traded farm output if he had it, but that lack of output is his achilles heel. The effect of the gunslinging at the major league level was too much turnover to keep a winning team for more than a couple years at a time, and higher payrolls for veterans than filling spots with developing players.

    Re: the Padres making a run to become buyers, not sellers, I’d just as soon see Jed stand pat. There’s been a lot of turnover this season, with player gambles that didn’t work out and injuries, and there’s a lot to be said for team stability through the season. The 2009 team that ended 37-25 returned intact in 2010, and that team stability may have had a lot to do with their success.

  15. @Larry

    Not exactly intact. Kouz, Chris Young, and Edgar Gonzalez left, Torreabla arrived and caught more than half the games, Shrek came back and his brother came with him, Garland, Denorifa, Stairs….Stability may have played a part, but Hoyer turned over a good part of the roster, and most of the new arrivals were major contributors. He’s not going to have much of a choice when it comes to retaining Ludwick and Bell for next year, anyway.