Print  Print © MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

Osprey Q & A - Kevin Towers
04/06/2011 11:11 PM ET

While visiting Missoula during the 2011 Hot Stove Banquet and Auction, Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers sat down with the Osprey and allowed us to learn more about the man who is guiding the D-backs.

Kevin Towers was named the third Executive Vice President & General Manager in club history on September 22, 2010. Towers was a special assignment scout for the New York Yankees in 2010 after serving 14 seasons as Executive Vice President & General Manager of the San Diego Padres from 1996-2009. The Padres reached unprecedented heights under Towers' leadership, including winning four of the franchise's five National League West championships in 1996, 1998, 2005 and 2006 and advancing to the World Series in 1998 against the Yankees. With 1,108 wins as the Padres' general manager, Towers is one of eight current general managers to post at least 1,000 victories during their career.

The Medford, Ore. native first joined the Padres when he was selected in the first round of the 1982 First-Year Player Draft after earning All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a right-handed pitcher for Brigham Young University. Towers was a Texas League All-Star in 1984 and pitched seven seasons in San Diego's farm system before a series of arm operations ended his playing career at Triple-A Las Vegas in 1988.

Towers began his post-playing career as an area scout for the Padres in Texas and Louisiana from 1989-91. During the summers of 1989 and 1990, he also served as pitching coach for the organization's short-season Single-A affiliate in Spokane, Wash., with the club winning Northwest League championships in both seasons. After two years with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a regional and national crosschecker, Towers returned to the Padres as director of scouting in August 1993, a position he held until being named general manager on Nov. 17, 1995.

Towers talks about his influences, how he developed the framework for the type of player he looks for, and the changes he has witnessed in how he does his job in this exclusive Question and Answer session:

When you get the chance to visit Missoula, you'll get to notice just how well the community supports the team.

Towers: Well, it is a university town, and a university town is usually a sports town. I guess, growing up in the Northwest, I guess I favor that. I guess I like the mountains, not that I dislike the desert. But when it gets to be 120 degrees down in Arizona, you might get sick of seeing me up here because I'm going to be coming up when the weather's nice (chuckles) ... I've always heard that they have been very supportive of our affiliate here, and excited that we have had a long, good relationship with the City of Missoula, and hopefully a lot longer one as well.

You had a career as a player yourself ... what did that experience do for you to help you prepare to be a scout and eventually a GM?

Towers: I had a chance to scout in a very fertile area in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas ... also was a pitching coach for a couple of years in Spokane, and learned a lot. Got to see some good players and be around some great veteran scouts and learned a great deal about the game. Wearing a uniform and being in a clubhouse, and traveling on a bus, and seeing players that had great skill sets but not makeup, or guys who had not as good skill sets but great character that made it to the Major Leagues, it gave me a pretty solid foundation, I think, as I got into the front office, just to kind of know what works and what doesn't work. The game's all about comparisons, it's about experience. I've worn several hats, but I don't think you ever stop learning. Anytime I get around a great baseball mind, an old-time scout, I'm going to pick their brain and try to learn more.

How much of that goes into making that type of player that helps you fill out a roster?

Towers: I am a big believer in character. Probably my mentor in the game is Pat Gillick, who is going into the Hall of Fame this year. Pat was at the Winter Meetings this year and talked about how when he first got into the game, he thought that skill set was about 70 percent of the game and makeup was about 30 percent, and said that he just had it the other way around. Some of the championship-tough clubs he was around in Toronto and Philadelphia, had guys that possessed great character. To me, you need a little bit of both. Most guys that get to the professional level usually have skills to play, but the ones that have good heads are usually the ones that prevail and the ones that stay in the game for a long time. With all things close to being equal, I'm always going to take the guy with a big heart.

You're one of the longest tenured GM's in the Major Leagues (tied for 5th longest). What has been a key for you to be able to stay in it for this long?

Towers: You have to surround yourself with good people. No one guy can make all of the decisions that go in, not only with drafting players and player development as well as the Major League level. I felt that I always surrounded myself with great baseball people that helped me with the decision-making process, and relied heavily on some of those scouts and some of those senior advisors. And you have to be able to adjust. When I first started, we didn't have computers, we didn't have cell phones. Now, we have, MLB Trade, iPads ... with technology now, the game has really changed. You have to kind of change with times and be open-minded to change, and analytical and statistical information that maybe we didn't use 10-15 years ago. I always felt that I could turn on a dime and I could change and I could listen and evolve with the way the game's changed. You know, I have worked for seven different CEOs that all had different ways of running an organization. If I would have been stubborn, I probably wouldn't have been around as long. I've learned to kind of adjust and always know the chain of command and know who my boss is, and follow orders and try to do the best I can with what I have.

With the different ways available now, has it changed the way you look at potential players you would acquire with trades and free agency, or do you still tend to rely on what has made you successful?

Towers: I think you need a blend of both. I probably lean more to the traditional scouting ... scouts in the stands, picking up things ... scout's intuition, his gut, his eyes. But that's not to say that sometimes numbers tell you things. It's nice to know ... park factors would be one of them. Atlanta used to do a great job of trading pitchers who posted great numbers in Myrtle Beach, but Myrtle Beach is also one of the best pitcher's parks in all of baseball. Years ago, unless you have been to Myrtle Beach, you may not even know that. I think you need a blend of both, take in what's given to you and hopefully make a wise decision.

Are you excited about getting into your first full season with the D-backs and see what this team can do?

Towers: I am. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the last road trip with the club. For me, this is new. I spent 20-plus years with one organization with San Diego ... this is a different market, a different city, a different ownership group, it's different players different trainers, different coaches, different infrastructure ... we changed pretty much everything here, kind of cleaning the slate and hopefully seeing this thing evolve back to where they were in 2001 when they were World Series champs.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.