Results tagged ‘ Kirk Gibson ’
A few quick thoughts on the D-backs hiring of Tony La Russa as Chief Baseball Officer. Obviously we will have plenty more at dbacks.com following this afternoon’s press conference.
La Russa missed the wins and losses
La Russa had a great job with the commissioner’s office, but my guess is we’ll hear him say today that he missed the wins and losses that come with being involved with a particular team. He was a candidate for the Seattle Mariners team president position not too long ago and that was a good indication that he was itching to get back.
He’s not going to manage this team
From every indication La Russa is done managing and I would also believe that he is not interested in being a general manager either. Overseeing the entire baseball operations seems to fit what he has been looking for — a chance to put his stamp on an organization.
He will be fair in his evaluations of GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson
Keep in mind while La Russa has never held a position like this one he is extremely bright and you can expect that he will attack this new challenge very meticulously. He is a big believer in “doing things the right way” so you can bet he will be very even handed when it comes to deciding what to do with the baseball ops department going forward.
CHICAGO — Kevin Towers looks at the team that he put together and the D-backs general manager is as perplexed as anyone at the dismal start.
“I’ve been a part of some bad clubs, but most of the time I knew they were bad clubs, knew going into the season that we were going to struggle,” Towers said.
The D-backs had far higher hopes for this season with a club-record payroll of $110 million, but they entered Wednesday afternoon’s game with the Cubs with a Majors-worst 5-18 record.
With that payroll came expectations and Towers knows that managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president/CEO Derrick Hall might be running short on patience.
“I’ve talked to Derrick, Ken and they’re [frustrated] — rightfully so,” Towers said. “They should be. This organization has committed a lot of money. That’s what’s even more disturbing. You’ve got a payroll that exceeds $100 million and we’re off to one of the worst starts in franchise history. That’s tough to swallow when you’re an owner and you care and you’ve invested in a product and the product isn’t performing. I’m sure they’ve grown impatient and I don’t blame them.”
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson knows that there has been speculation about his job status, but he is trying to remain focused on getting his team turned around.
“I don’t worry about that part,” Gibson said of his job status. “I just come in here and am positive every day. We try to analyze what we can do [better] and we just prepare and try to get the guys to prepare and have a positive day and a good game.”
Regardless of how positive they are, or what Towers or Gibson do, the reality is that it is up to the players on the field and Towers issued a bit of a challenge Wednesday.
“It’s a team that should be performing a lot better than they are and it’s not like help is on its way,” Towers said. “These guys are the guys who are going to have to get it done. If not, your legacy is that you were part of one of the worst teams in Diamondbacks franchise history. To me, I’ve got incredible pride — and hopefully they do and they’re going to have to find a way to turn it around or that will be their legacy.”
When asked if he thought that he would be given a chance to continue as GM and be given a chance to fix what’s wrong with the team, Towers deferred the query to Kendrick and Hall.
“That’s a question you need to ask them,” Towers said. “I don’t think they dislike Gibby or myself. They’re good people. They’ve been great to us. But Gibby and I are smart enough to know that this is what you get paid to do. You get paid to hopefully go out and win ballgames. But I think we’re all accountable. Everybody. It’s players, it’s us, it’s coaches. We all should be wearing this right now and finding a way to turn this around.”
When he took over as GM in Sept. 2010, Towers inherited Gibson, who had been named interim manager in July.
The two quickly formed a bond and Towers elected after that season to rehire Gibson. The pair won a division championship together in 2011, which was followed up by back-to-back .500 seasons.
After last season the organization declined to pick up the contract options on the pair for 2015, but then announced extensions of unspecified lengths for both just before the start of Spring Training.
As of Wednesday, Towers was still standing behind Gibson.
“I think the world of Gibby,” Towers said. “He’s a fierce competitor. He cares. But ultimately, it’s how do they respond? Players may ultimately get GMs and managers fired, but they don’t do it, it comes from up above. But how they respond to different things, our livelihood kind of lies in their hands. That’s just the truth and it does. They perform good, we have job security. They don’t perform well, we don’t have job security. That’s probably what makes it tough on Gibby and myself. You can’t go out and swing the bat or throw a ball. You’re sitting and evaluating, watching. You try to find different ways to get it done but you can’t go out and play the game for them.”
Gibson, for his part, continues to stand behind his players in terms of the effort they’re putting forth.
“Yeah, they’re busting their [butts],” he said. “When you don’t score runs it looks bad. When you don’t pitch, it looks bad. It always will. It always has. Things are magnified when we make an error and somebody hits a home run. It looks bad. Anybody going to question anybody on our team’s attitude and dedication and how they prepare when they make an error? They better not.”
A few thoughts from report day…
— They really shouldn’t call it report day, because the pitchers and catchers don’t actually have to show up at Salt River Fields. They simply need to check in to say they are in town.
In addition, almost all the guys — even position players — have been working out at the complex for days if not weeks.
— Speaking of which, the quote of the day on that subject came from pitcher Brandon McCarthy: “It’s just good because in the last month is when you start to hit that boredom point of you’re done with the offseason, you’re sick of your loved ones, you want to get out of your house, you kind of want to get back at some competitive outlet.”
— And while we’re on the subject of McCarthy, his comments about the determination in the clubhouse this spring really jumped out at me. You can read them here.
Look every team sounds optimistic during Spring Training especially early in camp, but this sounded different, there was an intensity and specificity about what needed to change that caught my attention.
Maybe it means nothing, but in listening to McCarthy and then to manager Kirk Gibson later, it seemed like things are quite different than they were last year.
— Here’s a link to today’s notebook with information on the closer competition, Mark Trumbo’s signing and Henry Blanco.
— The D-backs will go out to stretch and begin Friday’s first workout at 9:30 and they will be on the field until close to noon.
— All spring long workouts are free and open to the public. Fans can park in the Desert Parking Lot.
— For photos, schedule updates and news throughout the spring, follow me on Twitter.
44 days until opener in Sydney
53 days until opener vs. Giants at Chase Field
234 days until the end of the 2014 regular season
Today is report day for D-backs pitchers and catchers so I wanted to give a quick rundown of what you can expect today on the site and at the ballpark:
Pitchers and catchers will not necessarily be there today: Report day is a bit misleading, because all players have to do to “report” is to call the organization and let it know they are in town. Pitchers and catchers don’t have to be at the ballpark until Friday when the workouts start.
Nothing to see here: That means there’s a good chance there won’t be any activities out on the fields. Now, that being said, there are players who have been working out at the complex for months so I’m not sure if they will be there or not, but your best bet is to come out Friday.
Site content today: They will open the clubhouse to the media mid-morning today, but there is no guarantee there will be any players to talk to. However, Kirk Gibson will be meeting with us at 11 a.m. so you can check back this afternoon for his thoughts as camp opens.
Arroyo watch: As always, we’ll be on top of whatever breaking news there is throughout the day. The D-backs are planning on meeting with Arroyo (not sure when) but it’s something we’ll keep an eye out today and going forward.
Workout times this spring: I will try and have the blog updated daily during the spring, but your best bet for staying on top workout times and any changes to them will be to follow me on twitter.
Spring Training preview: Here’s my preview of the D-backs as they head into Spring Training.
28 days until Opening Day
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Kirk Gibson had a lot of really interesting things to say during his media sessions with us Thursday in Peoria that I didn’t have a place for in my stories. Here’s some of what he had to say…
— On whether guys were starting to make a push for spots on the roster: “The book is just starting. I don’t think we’re close to a point where we could even make a good calculated decision.”
— There has been a lot of talk this spring and even over the winter about Gibson’s rules about cell phone use and the banning of pellet guns and the like in the clubhouse.
It seems to be a subject that Gibson is getting tired of revisiting.
“I don’t think I’ve been tough at all,” he said of his rules. “I think I’ve been fair. We just kind of said there are certain things we want to abide by and do. It’s not a big deal, it’s just like business as usual.”
Gibson also has emphasized that the rules were decided on after consultation with managing general partner Ken Kendrick, president/CEO Derrick Hall, GM Kevin Towers and his coaching staff.
“These are not just my rules,” Gibson said. “We sat down as an organization and talked about some important things. We had a lot of conversations, people had input and we sat there and said this is what we’re going to go with. Once the decision was made we moved on.”
It doesn’t sound like guys will be having their cell phones ringing in the clubhouse.
“You’re talking to somebody in the clubhouse, your phone rings and you go get it, I think it’s rude No. 1,” Gibson said. “Other people are having a conversation next to you and phones are going off, I don’t like it. It just gets to be too much for me. When we’re in here it’s pretty much a baseball environment let’s focus on that if you need to make a call just walk outside and make a call.”
— As much as Gibson has refrained from talking about the past, he did let a little slip near the end of his talk about rules and cell phones when he talked about preparing for games differently: “We definitely need to do a better job because the way we did do it sure in the heck didn’t work.”
— Sparky Anderson was obviously a big influence on Gibson and he quoted him when talking about privileges for his players.
“Sparky taught us a long time ago, you start with nothing and you earn everything,” he said.
Looks like Zach Duke will pitch down in Tucson during Monday’s split squad game with Aaron Heilman working the game against the Royals in Surprise.
30 days until Opening Day
A couple of random thoughts as I sit in the press box at Scottsdale Stadium waiting for the start of the second game of this split-squad, day-night doubleheader…
— Aaron Heilman could really make the decisions about the backend of the rotation very interesting.
It’s been widely assumed that Zach Duke and Armando Galarraga have the inside track for the final two spots with Barry Enright and Heilman on the outside looking in. That’s simply because of the money owed to Duke and the fact that Enright has Minor League options and Heilman could easily slide back into the bullpen.
But Heilman signed here because he was promised a fair shot at the rotation and if he keeps putting up zeroes (he threw three perfect innings today to run his spring total to five) it is going to be tough to deny him that.
— D-backs manager Kirk Gibson has maintained that first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is “in the mix” at first base, but it has been hard to believe that the organization would rush him like that given that he has not played above the Class A level.
Gibson came close to admitting just that today after Goldschmidt pinch-hit and drove in two more runs with a single.
“Probably not,” Gibson said about the likelihood of Goldschmidt making the club out of Spring Training. “But I don’t really look at it that way. I look at it that we’re trying to develop depth as well. We can’t predict what may happen, who might get hurt. If there’s some guys that go back to the Minor Leagues from here we want them to have great confidence, we want them to shore their game up. We want them to know how we want to do it up here, the things that are important to the Diamondbacks and go down there and be leaders. People can move fast.”
Certainly Goldschmidt has opened some eyes with his strong showing thus far.
“From the first day I saw him swing he’s made several adjustments,” Gibson said. “His swing is shorter and he’s staying on the ball. We’ll see if he can do it all spring.”
D-backs will finally leave the City of Scottsdale for a game Thursday when they travel to Peoria to take on the Padres. I’ll catch up with you there.
32 days until Opening Day
When we were talking to him about possible lineup combinations the other day Kelly Johnson said he thought the first decision the team has to make is where to hit center fielder Chris Young. Once that is decided the rest of the decisions will fall more easily in place.
Couldn’t agree more with Kelly. I know there has been a lot of talk about Young hitting leadoff, but I think he’s a better fit in the No. 5 hole with Johnson leading off.
Drew would seem to be a good fit in the second spot, but I know some are concerned about having back-to-back lefties at the top of the order. That could mean that maybe Melvin Mora would be the No. 2 hitter, but we will have to wait and see.
“I think we’re going to use the spring, I think you’re going to see a lot of different lineups,” GM Kevin Towers told us yesterday. “I’m sure you’ll see CY leading off at times, Kelly leading off at times. Is Mora a two-hole hitter or someone deeper in the order? I think you’ll see probably a lot of different lineups throughout the spring just to get a feel for what guys can do in certain situations and maybe what works best. I think it’s too early to determine who hits where.”
Too early to determine, sure, but never too early to speculate.
Towers also talked about why Zach Duke was attractive to the D-backs even though he was coming off a disappointing season in Pittsburgh.
“Sometimes a change of scenery is good,” Towers said. “It kind of re-energizes you and gives you a chance to clean the slate and start anew. I like left-handed pitching, I like athletes. His stuff really didn’t deteriorate over the last couple years. He had a down year last year, but if he had a good year we wouldn’t have had an opportunity to get him.”
Want to make a Towers pitching staff? Then you had better darn well throw strikes — that means you Jordan Norberto.
The talented left-hander walked a pair in his first spring outing displaying the trouble that has kept him from establishing himself at the big league level.
“It’s like his pet peeve,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “He’s told you guys he has no use for that. If you can’t control the zone it’s going to be a long year.”
Here is a personal guarantee from me: After every one of his starts this year, Ian Kennedy will find a way to get the word “battle” into his postgame press conference.
Joe Paterson was selected in the Rule 5 Draft with the idea he would be the team’s left-handed specialist, but during the spring he will face righties as well as lefties.
Paterson was impressive in striking out the right-handed hitting Pablo Sandoval on Sunday. Hard to see him having much long-term success against righties given his sidearm mechanics.
If you haven’t checked out my colleague Nick Piecoro’s story on Josh Collmenter, it’s definitely worth a read. Very interesting how he thinks he developed his funky delivery.
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Good Morning from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick just a few hours away from the facilities first game.
How new are things here? You can still smell fresh paint up here in the press box.
Here is a look at the D-backs starting lineup for today: Johnson 2b, Parra rf, Drew ss, Young cf, Blum 3b, Pena lf, Miranda 3, Blanco 2 and Heilman p.
Other pitchers scheduled to throw today: Zach Duke, Mike Hampton, Juan Gutierrez, Micah Owings, Jordan Norberto and Brian Sweeney.
A couple of notes from yesterday’s opener against the Giants…
— Outfielder Justin Upton had a nice day at the plate going 2-for-3.
“I just ran into a couple of balls,” Upton said. “I was just trying to get a good look at some pitches.”
— A lot was made of Xavier Nady’s trouble throwing yesterday, but he did hit a nice opposite-field homer.
“It just feels good to be back in the swing of things,” Nady said. “It felt good to be out there and get some reps and get some serious at-bats and then go from there.”
It’s always fun this time of spring to see some of the organization’s younger players get their first-ever taste of facing big league hitters/pitchers.
Yesterday, highly-touted prospect Wade Miley got a chance to face Cody Ross, Pat Burrell and Pablo Sandoval, players that he watched participate in last year’s World Series.
“It’s was awesome,” said Miley, who admitted to having nerves during his first inning of work. It’s tough facing those guys after you grew up watching them. Everybody’s human, but you have to make pitches.”
D-backs skipper Kirk Gibson said after the game that there were “some situational things we have to understand better.”
I’m assuming one of them was a baserunning gaffe by Tony Abreu, who got tagged out at third on a grounder to the hole at short. I say that I’m assuming that because Gibson declined to explain what he meant by his comment.
“I don’t want to single anybody out because it’s my job to make sure they understand it,” he said.
Speaking of Gibson and baserunning, it sounds like he wants his guys to push the envelope this spring.
“I’d rather reel them in than have to kick them in the butt,” he said.
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36 days until Opening Day
Spring Training has a predictable rhythm.
For the first week or so of camp everyone feels good just to be back out on the field and see teammates they haven’t seen in a while. Soon they grow weary of the repetitive drills and facing their teammates in live batting practice and there is an anxiousness for Spring Training games to get underway.
That’s where we are right now.
The D-backs will kick off Cactus League play tomorrow against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.
The players have been absolutely giddy about the new digs at Salt River Fields and Thursday they took their first round of batting practice in the main stadium.
There has been a big emphasis on pickoff moves in drills during camp and D-backs manager Kirk Gibson is counting on his pitchers to show what they’ve learned when the spring games begin.
“Just do it, it’s fine,” Gibson said. “You just trained for two weeks on it, just use it in the game, just do it, just execute it just like you did out there on the back diamond. I talked to the guys a lot about just controlling the tempo and their mind. There’s no reason to panic, they’re very capable people, there’s no pressure.”
Brandon Allen will primarily see time at first base this spring as he battles Juan Miranda and Russell Branyan for the starting job, but Gibson said he will also give Allen some time in left field.
Top prospect Jarrod Parker, who is making his way back from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to pitch Monday.
After rain the last couple of days it looks like it is shaping up to be a beautiful day here at Salt River Fields.
Some leftover items from the soggy weekend:
— It was pretty funny to hear GM Kevin Towers greet newly-signed first baseman Russell Branyan not by his name, but as “Russell the Muscle.”
And while Branyan is big, he looks almost small compared to outfielder Wily Mo Pena.
Pena is listed at 270 pounds, but that might be a little light. A number of the guys were telling me I had to go shake his hand just for the experience of it and wow. Your hand completely disappears in his and his grip is like a vice.
“Unbelievable,” is how one player described him.
— Following Saturday’s first full-squad meeting, D-backs team president/CEO Derrick Hall said several of the new veterans pulled he and Ken Kendrick aside to share a couple of thoughts with them.
“These guys are telling Ken and I, ‘We’re going to make a difference, this is going to different, this is where we wanted to be and there’s a reason for that,'” Hall said.
One of the veterans brought over during the winter was infielder Geoff Blum.
“There’s a lot of us in here that are new so we don’t know what was going on the last two years and that might be a good thing,” Blum said. “From the outside looking in the last couple of years we’ve always noticed they had a ton of talent, but obviously from the comments that are being made, the clubhouse atmosphere had to be changed so we’ll what we can do.”
— The main word around camp this year is competition, but there’s another that’s close behind: Swagger.
“We talked about swagger quite a bit,” Hall said of that first meeting. “We want this [the team’s logo] to mean something. The last couple years this hasn’t meant much and we want it to mean something so we have to reestablish that.”
And then there was manager Kirk Gibson during his press briefing Sunday.
“It was a good day, I like the vibe, I like the swagger,” he said.
Sounds like the goal is to swagger through some competition while changing the culture…
— I asked bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock for some time this morning and he said he couldn’t because he had an Air Force meeting.
Turns out it was actually a pop up drill he does with the team’s catchers. That’s the nickname he has given to it.
What about when he does tag play drills? Those are listed on the schedule as a Marine meeting.