Another day, another puzzling deal for Kevin Towers. The Diamondbacks, a team rife with OF depth, agreed to terms with 31-year-old Cody Ross today, adding yet another body to the OF cornucopia. It’s just the latest in the “What has Kevin Towers done for me lately?” moves. The answer being, not much.
Really, though, why add Ross? He’s a solid enough player, and his defense probably makes him a touch more valuable than Jason Kubel, but why pay $26 million over three years for a touch more value? Kubel is already on the books for at least another $15 million, potentially even $7.5 more if they decide to pick up the team option.
But that won’t happen. Kubel is headed elsewhere, and it’s just a matter of time. For the time being, Towers’ on-again-off-again-Justin-Upton-and-the-trading-block obsession is back to off-again. Kubel can’t play LF so it’s not much of stretch to say he can’t play CF, and if the plan is to platoon him with Upton in RF, well then, Towers may be even dumber than imagined.
That leaves a trio of youngsters and Ross to split time at the other two spots. Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock, and Adam Eaton can all play CF. All three are plus defenders. Parra is the most experienced (with a Gold Glove to boast of). Eaton brings the most upside at the plate, with strong on-base skills, good speed and gap power. Pollock is more of a 4th OF type, but definitely not dead weight. It may not be an embarrassment of riches, but it’s certainly a good problem to have. For that, Towers deserves some credit.
Which is really why the Ross signing is all the more puzzling. Ross has decent pop, average on-base ability and no speed. He plays solid defense, but pales in comparison to Parra. I guess if you had to sell him as a RHH that balances the lineup… you could… but even that’s a stretch. Montero and whichever OF between Parra/Eaton that they start in CF would be the only everyday lefties. Hinske will get some spot starts to spell Goldschmidt at 1B, but if he’s an everyday guy, well the D’Backs season is belly up already. This is all assuming Towers ships off Kubel and not one of the other, better players. It’s all just very, very odd.
Towers did make a sneaky transaction in acquiring Brandon McCarthy. Then again, $15.5 over two years for a guy who has never thrown 200 innings is quite the gamble… even considering the robust price of pitching in 2012. If McCarthy pitches as he did in 2011, Towers is playing with the house’s money. If he’s more like the guy he’s been virtually every other season of his career, well… that’s just more sunk cost in the rotation.
So then, what’s the master Towers plan here? I’m not sure I see the rhyme or reason to his thinking. Jeffrey Loria, for all his eccentricities and hair-brained ideals, at least implements pretty clear plans of action. Arizona is a bit of a middling team. Their best player struggled some last year, though still cobbled together better numbers than Cody Ross in a “down year.” Hill, Goldschmidt, Kennedy, Montero… hell even Hudson and Miley give them a nice, young-ish core. This is a team that could, potentially, be dangerous, yet seems to be oblivious to their needs. I get the struggle to acquire a competent SS, but relying on Chris Johnson as your opening day 3B? Is Tony Sipp going to shore up the need for a LHP out of the pen?
Perhaps most importantly, what are they going to do with all those OF options?