Thursday, December 15, 2011

The J.R. Towles era has come to a swift end

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Joe Christensen tweeted that the Twins have signed J.R. Towles to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Ahhh, Justin Richard. The promise you had! The ways you would tease us! You're now a Twin. No longer will we confuse your appearance with Chase Budinger.

Over five seasons - three of those stints totaling fewer than 53 plate appearances - Towles hit .187/.267/.315. But man, on September 20, 2007, we thought we saw Johnny Bench. Do you not remember that game? It was a meaningless one, although anytime the Astros beat the Cardinals 18-1 it can hardly be described as "meaningless."

It was Towles' sixth career major-league appearance. He started it off with a two-run double to left in the top of the 2nd. And a two-run single to left in the top of the 4th. And then an RBI ground-rule double to right in the top of the 6th. And was hit by a pitch in the 7th. And drew an RBI walk in the 8th. And then topped it off with a two-run homer in the top of the 9th.

The result? Six plate appearances: a walk, an HBP, four hits (two doubles, a homer, a single), eight RBIs.

But what was to come was not pretty. If you take out that one game, from 2008-11 Towles hit .168/.251/.289, bouncing back and forth between Houston and Triple-A/Double-A, where in parts of four seasons, he hit a maddening .286/.389/.443. But his days were effectively done when, on May 5, 2010 Greg Lucas brought the thunder about Towles, following his demotion all the way to Corpus. He wrote:

J.R. Towles is no longer an Astro because pitchers don’t like working with him. It has not been a secret within the Astro clubhouse that at least two starters—one with significant prominence—have had problems communicating with J.R. Everything from pace of the game, to targets offered, to being on the same page contributed to the split.

So fare thee well, J.R. Towles. If anyone has ever needed a change of scenery, it's you.