Kevin Towers has certainly made an early stamp on the Arizona Diamondbacks since taking over the GM position for that ball club. He inherited a team mired in a woeful mess and has quickly made early steps to address some of their issues. It's not that Josh Byrnes wasn't a good executive. He was and will continue to be in his new assignment. But things didn't go well for him in Arizona and a shift in priorities and expectations are in order.
First, Towers let it be known that the Diamondbacks strikeout ways are over. By declaring that Justin Upton was on the market, he set a tone that the current trend could not continue. His trade of Mark Reynolds to the Orioles sealed the statement louder than anything else. This observer has no doubt that Upton was given a message by seeing his name in the headlines. As for Mark Reynolds, his average should recover some but he has shown no ability to cut down on his unique claim as the biggest strikeout artist of all time. Towers has set the tone that unless a player is willing to improve, he will look elsewhere.
Towers is also in the midst of doing what he did so well in San Diego: Build a bullpen. He got two arms in the Reynolds deal (one outstanding arm) and he just signed J. J. Putz. Putz became just another symbol of all that was wrong with the Mets the past few years. They made a big splash to sign the superlative set up man who picked the wrong time to come up injured. His ineffective year in New York was one of the few he's endured in his career. Finally healthy, Putz was back to his nasty self striking out 65 batters in 60 innings while only allowing 15 walks. He immediately makes the Diamondbacks' bullpen much better. And without a doubt, it couldn't have gotten much worse than it was last year.
Towers has so much experience building teams with modest payrolls into highly competitive teams. The 2010 Padres, though a year removed from Towers' leadership there, were a direct result of his effectiveness. The Diamondbacks and their fans have to be thrilled with Towers on board. More will be written on this team as the roster for 2011 takes more shape. In the meantime, it's fun to watch the man work.