Towers, Gibson provide D-backs with stability
When it comes to the compatible personalities of a Major League general manager and manager, I can't imagine a better match than old friends Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson.
Both are fierce competitors, detail-oriented, passionate about their chosen profession and straight-shooters.
That's why the Arizona Diamondbacks, residing in last place in the National League West, now have a solid GM-manager combination and every reason to be optimistic about the 2011 season and beyond.
Towers was introduced as the executive vice president and general manager of the D-backs on Wednesday, and although there has been no official announcement on Gibson's status in moving from an interim tag to a permanent position as manager, I would say that move is as good as done.
In a conference call with the media, Towers referred to Gibson as "Gibby," and this came after they were scheduled to meet only briefly before the press conference and ended up talking for almost two hours.
I've known both men for more than 20 years and I can tell you they will click in a way that will benefit the D-backs' organization from top to bottom.
That's not to say they won't have their differences. Both are strong personalities and have definite views on players, and the construction of a roster.
There's nothing wrong with different views as long as you present a united front once decisions are made and you don't have a manager undercutting a GM, or vice versa.
In my experiences with both Towers and Gibson, I have found both to be fiercely loyal and driven by a team concept.
The D-backs are to be applauded for acting quickly in signing Towers to a two-year contract with club options. When I spoke to Towers a couple of weeks ago, he had expressed an interest in getting back into a GM role and he figured to be one of the most sought after executives in the game at the end of this season.
Towers established a solid reputation as a general manager in guiding the San Diego Padres for 14 seasons from 1996 through last season, as his teams won four National League West titles and advanced to the World Series in 1998.
Even though Towers was fired at the end of the season by the Padres, his work and fingerprints are all over the success the team is enjoying this year.
The real tough part for the D-backs in all of this is that Towers replaces interim GM Jerry Dipoto, who got his chance along with Gibson when the team changed its top two baseball positions at the start of July.
The work of both Dipoto and Gibson since July 1 is to be applauded, but the D-backs felt Towers was just too good to let get away.
The most telling part of Wednesday's media conference was when Towers revealed that in his conversation with Gibson, the first-time manager felt the players were "too comfortable."
Believe me when I tell you Towers and Gibson aren't at all comfortable with losses, particularly when that number reaches 90-plus, as the Diamondbacks have recorded this season.
While Towers and Gibson will work to bring the losses down, they will also stress that the team's strikeout total come down just as drastically.
The D-backs set a Major League season record by passing the 1,400 mark in strikeouts -- an average of 9.3 per game. That's not the way you win games.
One of Towers' strengths is his ability to construct a pitching staff with the help of his scouts and player-development people. He believes in young starting pitching -- and the D-backs have much to offer in this area.
Towers has a knack for building a bullpen with pitchers who have been overlooked or discarded by other teams, and you can be sure this task will be a priority for him -- starting now.
My view is that Gibson will have a strong and pointed view on his coaching staff, and Towers will seek and be given permission to form his scouting and player development departments.
Together they will look to reduce both losses and strikeouts by a drastic measure, and improve the status and standing of the Diamondbacks in a significant way.
There will be times when Towers and Gibson will yell at one another behind closed doors, as strong GMs and managers tend to do. But they will stick together -- and the loudest noise figures to come from the cheering of the D-backs fans.
That has been in short supply in recent seasons.
Fred Claire was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969-98, serving the team as Executive Vice-President and general manager. He is the author of "Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue." This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.