The Diamondbacks enter Saturday night’s game with the Padres at 10-22, the worst record in baseball. Their -60 run differential is also the worst in baseball, even worse than the lowly Astros at -53.
There are plenty of explanations for the slow start, but chief among them is that the club has been ravaged by injuries. Four pitchers have undergone Tommy John surgery, including Patrick Corbin and Daniel Hudson, and slugger Mark Trumbo — the prize acquisition of the off-season for the D-Backs — is dealing with a stress fracture in his left foot.
GM Kevin Towers thinks his team will turn things around, but he isn’t sure if he’ll still have a job by then. Via MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom:
Right now, he still feels he and manager Kirk Gibson are on the same page with managing partner Ken Kendrick and club president Derrick Hall.
“But they’re both very, very disappointed, and rightfully so,” Towers said before the D-backs played his former team, the Padres, at Petco Park on Friday night. “When you spend $110 million and you’re 9-22 at the end of April, I wouldn’t be happy, either. I’m also disappointed, but I still believe in the core group. I think they will get better. Will I be around to see it? I don’t know.”
Towers’ tenure in Arizona has been controversial to say the least. He traded franchise superstar Justin Upton to the Braves last year and has come out on the losing end of the swap. Towers also made headlines when he fired pitching coach Charles Nagy for refusing to instruct his pitchers to throw at opposing players.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.