Justin Upton Newsbeat
Saturday, April 06, 2013
Y’all gonna make me lose my mind.
B.J. Upton led off the ninth inning with a homer and his brother Justin followed one out later with another long ball that helped the Atlanta Braves rally past embattled Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol for a 6-5 victory Saturday night.
Marmol had been through a tough week. He was pulled from a save situation after facing four batters and not recording an out in Chicago’s win at Pittsburgh on opening day, but he earned a save on Thursday against the Pirates despite giving up two ninth-inning runs.
The Upton brothers, major offseason acquisitions for Atlanta, became the 25th tandem of brothers to homer in the same major league game and the first since Adam and Andy LaRoche accomplished the feat for Pittsburgh on June 17, 2009.
Friday, January 25, 2013
• Asked if the Diamondbacks preferred grinding, gritty players
Towers replied, “That’s accurate. That’s the way [manager Kirk Gibson] played the game. That’s how we won in 2011, and Justin was part of that club.” Towers lauded Martin Prado as having that kind of mentality, grinding out at-bats and not striking out. He added, “Justin played hard every single day,” and “he cared, he’s a competitor.” But because he had a bit of a “swagger,” and because of his general body language, people might have perceived him differently.
As much as any baseball team in recent memory, the Diamondbacks on Thursday publicly embraced the idea of grittiness and guts, of the inherent and unquantifiable. And in doing so, they finished a two-trade whammy over the last six weeks that has seen them ship out their two most talented players in an effort to better embody this belief.
First went Trevor Bauer, the super-talented and cerebral pitching prospect who rubbed manager Kirk Gibson and some teammates the wrong way. And now [Justin] Upton, the super-talented and underproductive outfielder who was extremely well-liked by teammates but did not embody the dirt-on-the-uniform, all-out, get-concussed-or-go-home sort of player [manager Kirk] Gibson wants, because, in a flare of vanity, Gibson wants guys who play like he did, football in a baseball uniform…
The result is a fascinating experiment: a team stressing culture over talent. The Diamondbacks might say otherwise – [Martin] Prado is an All-Star and in both deals they got young and talented shortstops, one of the toughest things to find – but a consensus of scouts and sabermetric wonks agree: In both trades, Arizona sacrificed one for the other.
“Different clubs like to look for certain intangibles,” Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said. “We like that gritty, grinder type. Hard-nosed. I’m not saying Justin isn’t that type of guy.”
Actually, he sort of was saying that. While Towers made sure to praise Upton, to say the Diamondbacks “never had to kick him in the rear to play,” he brought up body language. Towers is an old scout, and it is an old scouting trope – that slumping shoulders can tell all he needs to know about a player. Fluidity can be mistaken for bad body language, too, and the ease with which the game comes to Upton and other such gifted players can be mistaken for not caring. When the seed of that idea is already planted, it doesn’t take much for someone to germinate it.
“Sometimes people’s mannerisms and the way they carry themselves – they might not perceive him as the grinder type,” Towers said, and he used that word again. Grinder. It’s a baseball catch-all for players who make up for a lack of physical gifts with hard work and a willingness to do anything. It is also a word that baseball people almost never attach to black players. Maybe it’s because they see most black players as physically gifted to begin with. Perhaps it’s a subconscious bias borne of historic stereotyping. The Diamondbacks certainly don’t traffic in racism – they wouldn’t have built ad campaigns around Upton otherwise – but in outlining their philosophy for this team, they severely limit the sort of player who fits the system…
Towers has gone all-in shaping this team in the mold of his manager instead of forcing his manager to be malleable to the talent. Diamondbacks players love Gibson – not necessarily his obsessive detail as much as how much he hates losing, how he’ll come into a clubhouse and rant about the attitude or whatever else is on his mind and punctuate it with a simple pick-me-up: “Let’s go get ‘em today.”
Gibson, at the same time, is not Tony La Russa, the sort of manager with the cachet and gravitas to hand-select his roster. Gibson won a division title in his first full year. Then he went 81-81. And that is his résumé. Gibson may well end up being the best manager of his generation. Towers wants to do everything he can to make sure that’s the case.
Trading talent with perceived personal flaws rarely leads to such success. This does not make Gibson a bad guy for wanting a certain type of player. This does not make Towers stupid, not after a career of showing that he is indeed one of the game’s savvier GMs, the sort who has made what seemed like ill-conceived plans in the past work with aplomb. Because they contradict current convention does not fit them for a dunce cap.
It simply leaves them prone. The Diamondbacks dumped a player with superstar potential when they didn’t have to. They scoffed at the roads offered and cleared a new one with Grit Avenue and Guts Boulevard and Grind Parkway as side streets. They can only hope the ride is not as bumpy as it looks.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Kevin Towers gave up more talent to acquire Didi Gregorius than he received in return for Justin Upton.
Source: Braves get Justin Upton and Chris Johnson from D-backs for Prado, Delgado, Ahmed and Spruill.
Friday, January 11, 2013
The Diamondbacks have really painted themselves in to a corner on this one.
Now the D-backs are looking to strengthen their pitching staff with a deal similar to the one they had agreed to with the Mariners. Had Upton not exercised his right to veto the trade, Arizona was going to receive a strong package that included shortstop Nick Franklin and pitchers Taijuan Walker, Stephen Pryor and Charlie Furbush.
This package would have included three of Seattle’s top six prospects, as rated by MLB.com, plus a veteran reliever in Furbush, who compiled a 2.72 ERA and recorded 53 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings with the Mariners this past season.
Walker is rated as the game’s fourth-best overall prospect and Franklin ranks 29th on this elite list. Pryor is rated as Seattle’s sixth-best prospect.
If the Braves were to present a comparable package, it would include Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado, Eric O’Flaherty or Jonny Venters, shortstop Nick Ahmed and likely either J.R. Graham or Zeke Spruill.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Phoenix or Seattle? I’d go with Seattle.
The Diamondbacks were in agreement on a trade that would have sent Upton to the Seattle Mariners, but the two-time All-Star rejected the proposed deal, major-league sources say.
Saturday, January 05, 2013
Kevin Towers’ mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.
Justin Upton for Chase Headley?
The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres have held on-and-off discussions about a trade involving those players since July, but the talks have failed to progress, according to major-league sources.
The Diamondbacks, however, continue to discuss Upton with other clubs, including the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners…
The Rangers want to acquire Upton without giving up either shortstop Elvis Andrus or infielder Jurickson Profar. Their preference is to build a package around third baseman Mike Olt, and the team is willing to add a top pitching prospect and third quality piece to the package, sources say…
The problem for the D-Backs in trading with the Mariners is that the M’s are on Upton’s four-team no-trade list, and sources say that he is not inclined to approve a deal to Seattle…
The Atlanta Braves also have made “strong overtures” for Upton, sources say, and other teams also might be involved in the discussions…
Headley, 28, broke out in 2012, finishing fifth in the voting for National League MVP after batting .286 with an .875 OPS, 31 home runs and a NL-high 115 RBI, all while playing his home games at pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
The Padres likely would need to add to Headley to complete a trade for Upton, who was fourth in the NL MVP voting in 2011. Upton, 25, is younger than Headley, has a longer track record, and is under club control for one more year…
The Rangers have been persistent — and relentless — in their pursuit of Upton. Team officials thought a deal was close at the end of the winter meetings last month, but the talks collapsed, only to recently revive…
Olt, one of the game’s top hitting prospects and a strong defender, is described by one rival executive as, “Joe Crede at worst, Matt Williams light at best.” ...
Left-hander Martin Perez and right-hander Justin Grimm and Cody Buckel are the Rangers’ most highly regarded pitching prospects.
Olt played third base, first base and right field during his brief callup with the Rangers last season. He would not fill an obvious need for the D-Backs, who are waiting on another third-base prospect, Matt Davidson, and are set at first base and the corner-outfield positions. But Olt’s ability to play multiple spots would give the team options.
Monday, December 03, 2012
The Rangers confuse him.
Every offseason, I get a headache trying to figure out what the Texas Rangers are doing. This offseason, that headache is approaching a migraine — one that probably is afflicting club officials, too.
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