Chat with Padres GM Kevin Towers
The Battle of the Budgets takes a look at the economic situation in MLB. Teams are looking to build more cost-conscious rosters. But how? Is it doable? Are there enough talented, relatively inexpensive players to build a competitive roster for, say, $40 million, which is roughly the payroll the San Diego Padres hope to operate at in 2009?
Towers has served as San Diego's GM since 1995. He helped put together the Padres team that went to the World Series in 1998. He first teamed with San Diego in 1982, when the team selected him in the first round of the draft. He pitched in the Padres' minor league system for seven years before entering the coaching ranks.
Send in your questions now and join Towers at 1:30 p.m. ET Friday!
Buzzmaster (1:33 PM)
GM Kevin Towers will be here soon!
Buzzmaster (1:38 PM)
Kevin is here!
Max Doshay, Gambier, OH
If you had the first pick (in Battle of the Budgets) draft, who would you have taken?
Kevin Towers (1:40 PM)
I would say Tim Lincecum. I believe that pitching wins pennants and seeing this guy more than I would like in the NL West, I often see how he dominates and I think he carried the Giants by himself last year. And he is affordable.
Why do you think the four of them took pitching friendly parks? Is there an advantage for home field teams to have that kind of park over a neutral or hiter friendly park?
Kevin Towers (1:42 PM)
I think we have all seen that the teams that have gone deep in the postseason have done it with pitching. I think it is much easier to put a team together with a pitcher friendly ballpark. I think some of the more attractive players in the draft, who were afforadble, were young arms. To me pitching is where you start with your ballclub and most ballclubs draft and trade for pitching. So if that is your philosophy, you might as well have a pitcher friendly park as well.
Mark (Jackson, Wyoming)
How do you think Neyer's 25 man roster is going to shape out with 7 outfielders on it? Also, which team do you think will make it through the playoffs to face the Yankees in this simulation? Good luck this season and please stop fleecing the rangers for players like Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez.
Kevin Towers (1:47 PM)
I like Rob's lineup. He has a lot of good hitters. They should hit enough to score a lot of runs. He has his lineup playing in a tough park, but it is well balanced. I also really like the top 5 hitters in his lineup. The bottom, however, has some high K rates, which worries me a little. And I really like Steve Phillips' lineup. That is a vicious one. It is one that will be tough on any opposing club. He does not have a dominant pitching staff like Buster or Jayson, but he has a good bench with speed and power. But Steve's team is going to score a ton of runs. They will also have to stay healthy, since there is not much on the bench. Steve is going for opening day and hoping to stay healthy. But I do not think there is any lineup close to his top to bottom.
First, thank you for the job you've done as gm of the Padres. Last year wasn't easy but we have nowhere to go but up. My question is, how will the financial situation of the team affect the upcoming draft? FYI, we fans are clamoring for Grant Green! thanks
Kevin Towers (1:49 PM)
It will not influence in the draft or internationally. We definitely have become more aggresive since we built the Dominican complex. We are picking three this year. Green is a great player and we know him well. But financially we are doing well and it should not influence us in the draft or internationally.
Bob ( Phoenix, AZ)
Kevin Long time Padres fan -- good luck this year. How is the Kouz doing in his rehab? See you in Peoria!
Kevin Towers (1:50 PM)
Kouz is doing well. He had offseason surgery on the shoulder and was in San Diego all offseason working on throwing mechanics. He has been working very hard. And we are looking for an even bigger year fromh im. He should be ready to go as soon as we start playing games in spring training.
Kevin, C.C. and Tex got some big deals this off season, but given the way the economy is, has the age of "mega deals" reached its zenith?
Kevin Towers (1:52 PM)
The economy has impacted people as far as thinking about long-term deals. I think even the large market clubs have realized the importance of good, young, affordable players. A lot of young players have impacted the bigger-market teams in the past few seasons. But I think we will see a Tampa Bay approach as far as trying to buy players out of arbitration, as they did with Longoria.
John H. (Victoria, bc)
Hey Kevin, If you had to start out fresh and build your team around one player, who would you pick? I would go with Chase Utley...BAR NONE!!
Kevin Towers (1:55 PM)
Well Chase Utley is a great player. I got to watch him at UCLA and love how he plays. If I had to choose a middle of the infield guy I would go with him or Hanley Ramirez. But I still believe in pitching, so guys like Cole Hamels or Tim Lincecum are who I would build around. I think we saw what can happen with good, young, power arm starters with Tampa Bay last season.
Corey, Oceanside, CA
Hello Kevin, has the change in ownership decreased the urgency to deal Peavy? Will you shed some light of Jeff Moorads feelings on a possible Peavy deal? And looking back, will you explain your "train has left the station" comments regarding a possible Peavy deal.
Kevin Towers (1:59 PM)
It was a mistake on my part, to say that, as I was rushed with media types leaving the meeting. I made a statement I probably should not have made. I have a great relationship with Jake, still do, and as of right now it looks like he will start the season with us. We went into the meetings probing to see if there was a deal that made sense for Jake, knowing we would ask a ton for him and if someone was willing to step we may have dealt him. But when no deal was presented to us that we felt was good enough. I have not had any talks with Jeff Moorad, but knowing Jeff and the premium he put on pitching in Arizona, without putting words in his mouth, I would imagine he would want top keep Jake; but that is without having had any discussions over the matter with him.
Andrew (Chicago, IL)
What is the hardest thing about negotiating the move of an established player for young, unproven, but potentially high-touted prospects?
Kevin Towers (2:02 PM)
A lot of it depends on your finances. It is hard to move an elite pitcher, and if you can keep a pitcher, you do it. In Jake's situation, we felt it was important to probe clubs. Any time you move a great player, and you are moving him to a contender, you are more than likely not going to get proven players back. So from a fan perspective, no deal will appear a good deal. That is where you must trust you scouting staff and make sure that you have evaluated the young guys properly and have had several looks at the players. You may not hit on all the young players, but if you hit on two, that can have a major impact on your team. But that is one of the most difficult moves a GM has to make.
Paul (Charleston, IL)
Kevin, what are your thoughts on a salary cap for baseball? Also, could you please not trade Jake Peavy to the Cubs. Thanks.
Kevin Towers (2:05 PM)
First of all Charleston was one of my favorite places to play in the minor leagues. I do not think there will ever be a cap. Certainly revenue sharing and the luxury tax have helped, but I think the Player's Association is too strong. And I do not want to move Jake either, so I hope he continues to have a long and successful career here.
Kevin, Thanks for doing this chat! Who do you think came out of the "Battle of the Budgets" draft with the best rotation? The best bullpen?
Kevin Towers (2:08 PM)
Best roatation is Buster's. I love the power arms with Joba, Lincecum and Volquez. He has the best rotation of the bunch. Bullpen wise, I think Philips has the best closer with Papelbon. But it is hard not to like the back end of Stark's rotation. Buster has depth, but I do not care for Buster's lefthanders. I think he has depth, though. I love the depth of Rob's team, except in the bullpen. If I had to pick the best pen, I will give it to Buster. I believe in bullpen depth and going to more than one guy.
George (Pierre, SD)
Jayson Stark has to take this simulation down, right? Watch out, he's coming after your job.
Kevin Towers (2:13 PM)
I tell you what, I think if I had to look at one club that is the best balanced, it is Jayson's. I love the starters, with Webb, Hamels, Billingsleys. They eat innings. I wish I could be these guys and get to pick any of these players, the way they did. But I think they all did a great job. I just wish we all could pick teams, as GMs, the way they have. One thing I will also say about Stark, is he picked a great ballpark and picked a great bullpen manager with Bobby Cox. I think he would do a great job of making pitching work in that pitcher-friendly park.
Paulie Augie (Cheshire, CT)
Mr. Towers, what was your first impression of the Battle Of The Budget? The 1998 Padres is what made me like baseball!!!
Kevin Towers (2:18 PM)
Well 1998 was a memorable year for me. It was only the second time we got to the World Series. I have often said we have had pretty unlucky draws when it comes to opponents, the '84 Tigers and '98 Yankees. I still say to this day, if Richie Garcia would have called that 2-2 pitch to Tino Martinez a strike, things may have gone differently. We all know what happened on 3-2. I have enjoyed battle of the budgets and I think the GMs did a great job. All four teams are different, which is pretty amazing. It was interesting to see how each guy approached it. You can kind of see which teams they enjoyed watching in how they drafted. Buster looks like a retro, 80s guy, Phillips likes to go with the big hitters, Stark seems to be a Dave Dombrowski guy, and Rob went with a little bit of everything and was more offensive minded.
Chris (San Diego)
Which current Padre youngster are you the most excited to see take the next step and become a star?
Kevin Towers (2:22 PM)
The three I would say are Matt Latos, reminds me of a young AJ Burnett. Has great size and has command of three pitches. He will be in big league camp. I also like Ced Hunter. He fell only a few hits short of 200 in the minors, which is pretty amazing. I think he has a chance to be a table setter. And I am very excited Adys Portillo, from Venezuela, who can be a front-end, power type starter.
Sam (Columbia, SC)
What is going through a MLB draft like? How many scouting reports do you need to have and how many people are collaborating together to get through 50 rounds?
Kevin Towers (2:26 PM)
It is a very busy time of year, and with all the information we have it is not just scouting reports, we also crunch numbers, with the college guys. So it is analytical as well. It is a long, very thorough proccess. The elite players are cross checked by regional prospects and checked by scouting director. You then take 1,000 names and put them in preferential order by position; and there is an art to it. You rely on area guys to figure out which guys you like may slide in the draft. We bring all of our scouts in, along with the analytical guys, the GM, the director of scouting, etc. We have about 30-35 people in the room on draft day. We always feel it is important to have the scouts there, in case we need vital information quickly.
Kevin Towers (2:29 PM)
That's my time. Here is how I rate each draft: 1) Phillips 2) Olney 3) Stark 4) Neyer. I want to thank all of you for your questions. Your passion and interest in baseball are great. And to San Diego fans keep the faith!
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