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12/17/10 5:30 PM EST
Nady, Blanco may round out D-backs' moves
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Kevin Towers will not take the next two months off, but with the signings Friday of outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady and catcher Henry Blanco, the D-backs' GM has completed his winter checklist. "I'd say there's a good chance," Towers said about making no more moves this winter. "We've kind of addressed all our needs. Our last two were backup catcher and we needed a right-handed bat. It's not to say that we won't add any more pieces before the start of the season, but if we had to start today we're pretty comfortable with where we're at." Nady appealed to Towers because of his ability to play both left field and first base, two spots where the team needed depth. In addition, Nady's right-handed bat helps balance a lefty-heavy team. The club also considered Austin Kearns to fill that role, but Nady won out because of his first-base experience. While the deal just got done this week, Nady has been on Towers' radar for quite some time. Towers drafted the 32 year old in the second round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft when he was GM of the Padres. When he interviewed this summer for the D-backs' job, Nady was one of the players Towers told management he would like to add if hired. "I just think his bat plays in this park, you know his power is straightaway and to the opposite field, where the ball carries," Towers said referring to Chase Field. "When healthy, this guy's got a chance to put a charge in a ball. Plus, he plays very good defense, he runs well for a big man and is an incredible character guy as well." Nady is a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, which Towers feels contributed to poor season last year, when he hit .256 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 347 plate appearances for the Cubs. Another factor could have been sporadic playing time. Given his long swing, Nady is not suited to being a bench player. Whether it's first base or left field, look for Nady to find his way in the lineup. "We see Nady getting a lot of plate appearances, probably 400 to 500," Towers said. "He's not the type of guy that plays once every three or four days and is going to produce good numbers. We want to have him in the lineup pretty much every day." Blanco fills the role of backup catcher that the team was looking for this offseason. The 39-year-old was a backup catcher for the Mets in 2010 and hit .215 with a pair of homers and eight RBIs in 144 plate appearances. Blanco has carved out a niche for himself over his 13 seasons in the big leagues as a backup catcher who is known for his outstanding defense -- particularly when it comes to throwing out runners -- and leadership in the clubhouse. The D-backs were in the market for a catcher to back up Miguel Montero. While they had capable young candidates for the job in John Hester and Konrad Schmidt, they preferred to have someone with more experience. "A seasoned veteran that's almost caught his entire career in the National League," Towers said of Blanco. "Great character guy, incredible with the Latin players. I think he will be great for [Juan] Gutierrez, Montero, a lot of our Latino players." In just a few short months, Towers has redone the D-backs' roster, making it more versatile and less strikeout prone. He's dealt Mark Reynolds, let Adam LaRoche go via free agency and used the money saved to sign a legitimate closer in J.J. Putz. With the signings of versatile players like Melvin Mora, Geoff Blum and now Nady, Towers has given manager Kirk Gibson a number of options when he makes out his lineup. "It will probably be a little bit different than last year, where really probably other than left field, you pretty much wrote the same lineup out there each and every day," Towers said. Instead, Gibson will go to Spring Training with Juan Miranda, Brandon Allen, Nady and Blum being options at first base, with Wily Mo Pena, Nady, Cole Gillespie, Allen and Gerardo Parra all being candidates in left. The D-backs are hoping that out of that depth comes quality and by rotating players at first and left, along with third base, the bench will be better prepared. "The more they play, the better they are coming off the bench late in the game," Towers said of bench players in general. "They need at-bats. The way our club is designed now, they're going to all get a lot of at-bats, so even on the days they're not playing, they will probably be more dangerous coming off the bench because of the increased playing time they've had."