FanPost

Kevin Towers and Veteran Presence

Tom Lynn

In light of Eric Hinske’s game winning extra innings home run yesterday, I started thinking about the 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks and “veteran presence”.

One thing that has bugged me during Towers tenure as GM is the amount of “proven” veterans he seems to bring in. A few have worked out, but for the most part, it seems like they’ve just been a waste of not only roster space and at bats, but money as well. I want to breakdown the veterans Towers has signed during his short tenure as GM. I have to put a cut off somewhere, so I’ll go with any player age 30 or over during their time with the Dbacks. I’m excluding players that were signed on minor league deals like Sean Burroughs and Wily Mo Pena since they weren’t signed to provide veteran presence. I also excluded players like Lyle Overbay in 2011 because he was brought in mid-year.

2011

Age

Slash

ERA/FIP

Contract Length

Contract Amount

FG WAR

Henry Blanco

39

.250/.330/.540

1

$1,000,000

1.1

Result: Quality backup catcher

Willie Bloomquist

33

.266/.317/.340

1

$900,000

0.1

Result: Perceived solid year

Geoff Blum

38

.224/.309/.408

2

$2,700,000

0

Result: Out most of 2011 due to injury, released July 2012

Russell Branyan

35

.210/.290/.339

1

$1,000,000

-0.1

Result: Released less than 2 months into season

Melvin Mora

39

.228/.244/.276

1

$2,350,000

-0.6

Result: Released 3 months into season

Xavier Nady

32

.248/.287/.359

1

$1,750,000

-0.3

Result: Ineffective

JJ Putz

34

2.48/2.46

2

$8,500,000

3.1

Result: Solidified closer role, 6th best WAR amongst relief pitchers in NL over 2011/2012

Aaron Heilman

32

6.88/5.12

1

$2,000,000

-0.3

Result: Released mid-way through the season

Going into the 2011 year, it looked like the Dbacks had a lot of holes to fill. However, the holes seemed to be filled with veterans with a lot of question marks. Putz and Mora were both coming off of solid years, but there were concerns with Mora due to his age and Putz due to his injury history. However, with a team that seemed like it was rebuilding coming off of consecutive years in the basement, it didn’t seem like there was any reason the team should sign players like Branyan, Bloomquist, Nady, and Blum when playing time could be given to young players such as Collin Cowgill, Cole Gillespie, Juan Miranda, Gerardo Parra, Brandon Allen, and John Hester.

The Dbacks started the season poorly, like they have done the previous 2 seasons, going winning only 15 of their first 37 games. Outside of Blanco, Putz, and Bloomquist, the “proven” veterans that Towers brought in were terrible. Blum missed most of the year, Nady was ineffective defensively and offensively, and Branyan, Mora, and Heilman played so terribly that they were all released before the season was over. However, led by a solid rotation, strong bullpen, and hitting from the young position players, the Dbacks won the division.

2012

Age

Slash

ERA/FIP

Contract Length

Contract Amount

FG WAR

Henry Blanco

40

.188/.224/.281

1

$1,200,000

-0.1

Result: Production dropped off and got injured

Willie Bloomquist

33

.302/.325/.398

2

$3,800,000

0.4

Result: Perceived solid year

John McDonald

37

.249/.295/.386

2

$3,000,000

0.4

Result: Quality utility player, good defense. Traded prior to 2013 season

Lyle Overbay

35

.292/.367/.448

1

$1,000,000

0.1

Result: Overall numbers looked good, but early success due to high BABIP. Released end of July

Jason Kubel

30

.253/.327/.506

2

$16,000,000

1.5

Result: Good production first 4 months, poor production final 2 months

Aaron Hill

30

.302/.360/.522

2

$11,000,000

5.4

Result: Career year, MVP caliber season

Takashi Saito

42

6.75/7.09

1

$1,750,000

-0.3

Result: Injured for most of the year, when healthy, was ineffective

Joe Saunders

31

4.22/4.19

1

$6,000,000

1.6

Result: Solid production, 2nd highest career K rate and lowerst career walk rate. Traded end of August.

After winning the division, expectations were high for the Dbacks. It made sense to bring back Blanco since Hester and Konrad Schmidt were disappointing in their stints. Re-signing Overbay also made since he played well after the Dbacks picked him up off of waivers midway through 2011 and could occassionally slot in for Paul Goldschmidt as well as be the left handed bat off the bench. Re-signing Hill was a priority since the team had no other options for 2nd and Saunders seemed like an after thought, but was re-signed due to lack of interest from other teams and the Dbacks need for another starting pitcher. With Stephen Drew’s slow recovery and impending free agency, instead of the Towers pursuing a long-term solution via trade or free agency, he decided to commit 2 years to both McDonald AND Bloomquist. Saito was brought in to provide depth in the bullpen, and despite his age, had shown no signs of diminshed performance. However, he did miss playing time the previous year due to injury. The surprise signing, however, was Kubel. Most fans thought the outfield was set with CY, J-Up, and Parra with Pollock looking like he could possibly be ready to be the 4th outfielder, the team signed Kubel to a 2 year deal to be the every day left fielder, pushing Parra to the 4th outfielder.

The results were mixed, but better than what Towers had done in signing older free agents in 2011. Hill had a MVP caliber season and Saunders had a good year before being traded. McDonald was what the team expected, Kubel was great for the first 4 months, but was horrible the final 2, and Overbay provided a solid bat off the bench for the first 2 months of the season before his BABIP dropped. Bloomquist had a solid .302 batting average, but provided little else, playing below average defense and bad baserunning. Saito was injured for much of the year, and was terrible when given his chances. Blanco’s age caught up with him as his bat was slow and missed the 2nd half of the year due to injury.

For the 2013 season, Towers re-signed Wil Nieves (35), as well as free agents Eric Hinske (35), Eric Chavez (35), and Cody Ross (32). Nieves had played well defensively in 2012 after he was signed when Blanco went down, and it only made sense to re-sign him. Surprisingly, Rod Barajas was also brought in right before spring training on a non-guaranteed contract to compete with Nieves, but Nieves ended up with the job and Barajas was released during spring. It looked like Chavez was brought in originally to platoon with Chris Johnson, but things quickly changed once Prado was brought in. Chavez spent the last 2 seasons with the Yankees and was finally healthy and productive. Hinske, on the other hand, has been ineffective for the past 2 seasons. There had been talk that perhaps Hinske was brought in to occasionally give Goldschdmit the day off against tough righties and be a power bat off the bench. However, at this point in his career, Hinske would be a huge liability at 1st and his line drive and fly ball rates have dropped while his ground ball rates have increased. The Cody Ross signing was a head scrathcher, but things became clear with the Justin Upton trade.

Overall, it seems like Towers had done a good job signing players that are in their early 30’s to fill starting spots, but has had almost all busts when it comes to players 35 and older. Most of these players were not signed for big deals, but I question whether there is any point for them to be on the roster at all. Even though Nieves and Chavez made sense, why spend the money and roster spot to sign Hinske? Yes, he did hit the game winning home run on Sunday, but what happens when Ross comes back from the DL? Most likely, it’ll be Alfredo Marte sent down, but is there anything more for him to learn in the minors? IMO, Hinske will end up being in the long line of wasted veterans such as Branyan and Overbay. And speaking of Ross, hopefully he continues to line of players signed in their early 30’s by Towers that have had success and not like Eric Byrnes, who seems like a good comp.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join AZ Snake Pit

You must be a member of AZ Snake Pit to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at AZ Snake Pit. You should read them.

Join AZ Snake Pit

You must be a member of AZ Snake Pit to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at AZ Snake Pit. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker