The Gunslinger's frontier justice

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This season, Diamondbacks pitchers hit enemy batters with pitches exactly 60 times.

I think it's safe to assume that number will be higher next season. If the new pitching coach wants to keep his job, anyway. Because it seems the old pitching coach, Charles Nagy, just got fired because of that number. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin "The Gunslinger" Towers felt this season that the numbers should have been higher.

Well, it's probably not fair to say that Nagy got fired because Diamondbacks pitchers didn't hit enough batters. Not for that reason alone. Towers also fired bench coach Steve Sax, but didn't fire manager Kirk Gibson. It seems likely that the Diamondbacks' 3.92 ERA went into Towers' thinking, too.

Towers has pointed to many instances where his pitchers did not hit a member of the other team after a perceived slight or beaning of a D-back.

Toward the end of the season, the L.A. Dodgers clubbed six home runs in an 8-1 drubbing of the D-backs, which was a game that saw the eventual NL West champs look a little too comfortable in the dugout.

"I was sitting behind home plate that game and when it showed up on the Diamondvision of stuffing bananas down their throats, I felt like we were a punching bag," Towers told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo Tuesday. "Literally, if I would have had a carton of baseballs I would have fired them into the dugout from where I was sitting behind home plate.

"That's not who we are as Diamondbacks, that's not how -- I mean, it's a reflection on Gibby, on myself, on our entire organization. They slapped us around and we took it."

Towers said that has to stop, and following the game he had "a few choice words for the (coaching) staff."

Nothing changed.

"You'd think the GM comes down and makes it a point to talk to the staff about it that at we need to start protecting our own and doing things differently," he said. "Probably a week later Goldy gets dinged, and no retaliation. It's like 'wait a minute.'

"Not that I don't take any of our guys from a lesser standpoint, but if Goldy's getting hit, it's an eye for an eye, somebody's going down or somebody's going to get jackknifed."

For the record, Diamondbacks hitters were hit by 43 pitches this season. I'll save you the math: That's a +17 differential in the Diamondbacks' favor. I mean, if you want to look at things that way. In case you're wondering, 43 HBP for a whole team over a whole season is not many. The Pirates were hit 88 times; only three teams were hit less often than the Diamondbacks.

None of which necessarily means that Towers is wrong, specifically. HBP's are mostly a function of pitchers' poor control and hitters' willingness to get hit. Shin-Soo Choo got plunked 26 times this year, matching the entire Colorado Rockies roster. That wasn't about Old Testament justice; that's about one guy who hugs the plate and a whole team that doesn't.

The Dodgers hit their six home runs against the Diamondbacks on the 9th of August. You probably remember that as The Juan Uribe Game. It was 10 days later -- again, it was the Dodgers -- that Paul Goldschmidt got "dinged." The Dodgers batted in the top of the first inning, uneventfully. In the bottom of the first, the first two Diamondbacks went down routinely. Goldschmidt came up next, and Ricky Nolasco plunked him. Later, Nolasco plunked Martin Prado, too.

No Dodgers got plunked ... and the Diamondbacks lost, 7-6. One can imagine the Gunslinger's mood after that one.

So the pitching coach is gone. What about the pitchers, though? Maybe they're the problem!

It won't be as simple to get rid of any offending pitchers, though.

"Some of them, contractually, it's tough to move," he said. "But I think come spring training, it will be duly noted that it's going to be an eye for an eye and we're going to protect one another.

"If not, if you have options there's ways to get you out of here and you don't follow suit or you don't feel comfortable doing it, you probably don't belong in a Diamondbacks uniform."

Ah, frontier justice.

So who might not belong in a Diamondbacks uniform? In that game where the Dodgers hit six home runs? Randall Delgado gave up three of them. He also hit exactly one batter all season, in his 116 innings. Seems like he'd better be plunking some guys next March. If not sooner; some winter ball plunkings, anyone? Josh Collmenter pitched 92 innings, and hit two batters. He's expendable anyway, and might be a great way to make an example.

When the Diamondbacks won 94 games in 2011, it was because they were so gritty. When the Diamondbacks won 81 games in 2012, it was because they weren't gritty enough, so they made some changes. When the Diamondbacks won 81 games in 2013, it was because they weren't gritty enough, so they're making more changes. At some point, you run out of changes to make.

But I hope one particular change is made, before somebody really gets hurt. Even if it's merely a change in attitude.

For more on the Diamondbacks, please visit AZ Snakepit.

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