BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com blogger
The biggest takeaway I’m getting from the Justin Upton trade is this: If you don’t project enough outward and possibly a superficial appearance of playing hard and gritty, you aren’t qualified to play for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s examine the trade at hand. Arizona dealt 25-year Justin Upton (career .278/.357./475 hitter) and 3B Chris Johnson (.276/.315/.430) for a year of useful utility player Martin Prado (.295/.345/.435), pitcher Randall Delgado (3.95 ERA), and minor leaguers Nick Ahmed SS, Brandon Drury 3B, Zeke Spruill P.
This appears to be the final straw in the Kevin Towers path of roster destruction. Three important players from the recent 2011 NL West winning squad (Upton, Chris Young, Ryan Roberts) have since been traded for what some would say is 50 cents on the dollar. Young was used to get shortstop Cliff Pennington, but then Towers decided he needed roughly 50 more of those, so he used their 2011 #1 pick Trevor Bauer to land Didi Gregorious from Cincinnati in a three-way deal. Veteran grit machines Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald are under contract for 2013, so you have a logjam of light hitting, good defending middle infielders.
So what is the ultimate endgame here? Their star power-hitting right fielder is gone, which would suggest that catcher Miguel Montero and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and outfielders Jason Kubel and Cody Ross will now received the brunt of the pressure in the middle of the lineup. That’s fine I guess, but they aren’t perennial MVP candidates.
Fox sports insider Ken Rosenthal offered some insight on the motivation for this trade.
“The problem is that he didn’t play with a high level of energy,” said the former teammate, who spoke on the condition that he would not be identified. “What I think they want is guys who play with the speed, energy and intensity of the Oregon football team — all out, all the time. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer
The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks were one of my favorite individual teams ever to track and follow throughout the season; they provided everything you wanted out of an upstart, surprise team. There was an equal share of surprise pitching performances (Ian Kennedy), an emerging star coming into his own (Justin Upton), a fan favorite with a unique perk (“Tatman” Ryan Roberts) and a bullpen that saw significant improvement from the previous year. Their torrid streak starting somewhere in mid-May, along with some lucky breaks in the division (Rockies giving up on Ubaldo, Buster Posey breaking his ankle, and the Dodgers being financially incompetent) allowed for one hell of a ride. Of course, as many remember, it all came to an end in game 5 of the NLDS in Milwaukee as Njyer Morgan lined a J.J. Putz fastball up the middle, and thus a run at the World Series title was over.
This offseason, general manager Kevin Towers decided not to rest on his laurels and continue to improve an already good team in an attempt to make them great. Did he succeed in this? Let’s examine his most significant moves. (more…)