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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

TSN: Diamondbacks gamble on grit at cost of talented Justin Upton, Chris Young, Trevor Bauer

Flaring panoramas of kunka-kunka sensations! This could end worse than Gibby Gibson’s final scene!

wq

Basically, the Diamondbacks resemble a team that plays the game as Gibson did: with grit, scrappiness and a dirty uniform.

The one thing people have seemed to overlook during this Arizona overhaul is that Gibson was about as talented as anyone in the game when he was at his best. Gibson was a star. And once he got to Los Angeles and helped the Dodgers win their last World Series in 1988, he was a superstar, the kind of marketable player who help franchises sell season-ticket packages.

Towers ignored that when he got rid of players who seemed to be his most talented.

... But this team isn’t built to win three years from now. Maybe prospects like Gregorius and pitcher Tyler Skaggs will have developed into productive major leaguers in the next few seasons, but projected starters like Prado (29 years old), Ross (32), second baseman Aaron Hill (31 this week), catcher Miguel Montero (30 in July) and outfielder Jason Kubel (31 in May) are here to win now.

And none of them has anything close to the raw talent of Upton (26 in August), Young (29) or Bauer (22). None of them has the talent Gibson had.

“I think that’s what people don’t realize,” a National League scout said during spring training last week. “Gibby was as talented as any player on the field when he was in his prime. That could have been Upton. That could have been Bauer. When guys have the chance to be that kind of player, you deal with whatever else you don’t like about them as people, especially when they are still under team control.”

Repoz Posted: March 20, 2013 at 05:19 AM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: d-backs

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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 20, 2013 at 07:08 AM (#4392225)
“I think that’s what people don’t realize,” a National League scout said during spring training last week. “Gibby was as talented as any player on the field when he was in his prime. That could have been Upton. That could have been Bauer.”
Yup. Gibson was probably a better pure athlete than either Upton or Bauer. It's pretty common for ballplayers to have a poor understanding of what made them good ballplayers, but that's also why so few ballplayers become good managers and good executives.
   2. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 20, 2013 at 07:49 AM (#4392233)
Miguel Montero is 30 already? I guess I don't follow Arizona very closely.
   3. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 20, 2013 at 08:08 AM (#4392238)
matt

the caveats on gibson were that he were injury prone and he had a terrible throwing arm which i cannot recall if that was the result of injury or not.

so yes, completely agree that gibson was a great athlete, especially when he first showed up. but he struggled to stay in the lineup and where he got the rep for 'grit' was that he would play through the constant injuries to just get to 500 plate appearances

and boy did his arm stink, especially the last third of his career.
   4. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 20, 2013 at 08:08 AM (#4392239)
Wasn't Gibson one of the fastest players in baseball when he first came up? (and he had a lot of power of course)
   5. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 20, 2013 at 08:27 AM (#4392247)
y

yup. he and willie wilson had folks all in a tizzy
   6. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: March 20, 2013 at 08:32 AM (#4392250)
For some reason I'm reminded of: "Your father never had the makings of a varsity athlete."
   7. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: March 20, 2013 at 09:13 AM (#4392266)
I really hope this team resembles the Hindenburg. If they plod along and win 85 or something it will be so frustrating.
   8. Wins Above Paul Westerberg Posted: March 20, 2013 at 09:25 AM (#4392277)
Remember when Richard Dix tried to take over the town?
   9. Shoebo Posted: March 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4392315)
I really hope this team resembles the Hindenburg. If they plod along and win 85 or something it will be so frustrating.


So what happens if they win 94 ? Head assplode ?
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4392340)
That could have been Bauer. When guys have the chance to be that kind of player, you deal with whatever else you don’t like about them as people, especially when they are still under team control.”


Clearly this scout has never heard Trevor Bauer try to rap.
   11. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4392346)
So what happens if they win 94 ? Head assplode ?
That's be fun, too. Baseball's fun when it's unpredictable.

Arizona is doing something exceptionally weird in contemporary baseball, trying to build the right kind of clubhouse atmosphere explicitly at the cost of talent, and I want this to either pay off hugely or blow up in their faces hilariously.
   12. smileyy Posted: March 20, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4392353)
It's pretty common for ballplayers to have a poor understanding of what made them good ballplayers, but that's also why so few ballplayers become good managers and good executives.


I think this is hard for a lot of talented people -- what they're good at comes so naturally, they don't know how to talk about it, understand it, or teach it.
   13. RJ in TO Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4392363)
Huh. Kirk Gibson never played in an All Star game. I would not have guessed that. The guy went 20-20 for five straight years in an era where 20+ HR made you a legitimate power hitter, and did it on winning teams. Did he consistently stink in the first half?
   14. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4392369)
In 1988, Gibson turned down the ASG invite (wasn't voted in as a starter) so he could spend time with his family.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4392376)
In 1988, Gibson turned down the ASG invite (wasn't voted in as a starter) so he could spend time with his family.


And the rest of the time he was generally just good to very good, but not great. And if you couple that with the expectations of him, it probably contributed to his career snub from the A-S game.

But he was definitely worthy in '88, and played better in his healthy first half than the second.
   16. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4392385)
rj

combination of competition for outfield spots, selection process, and doing more damage in the second half. 1984. 1986.

in 1987 he probably should have been on the team but the tigers had 4 guys and of course cleveland's pat tabler needed a spot
   17. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4392401)
Arizona is doing something exceptionally weird in contemporary baseball, trying to build the right kind of clubhouse atmosphere explicitly at the cost of talent, and I want this to either pay off hugely or blow up in their faces hilariously.


Believe it or not the Mets around 92-93 were explicitly "trying to trying to build the right kind of clubhouse atmosphere"

of course the people making personnel decisions were completely clueless WRT (1) what was actually going on in the clubhouse; (the character and personalities of the people they were exporting and importing

the end result of the attempt to "build the right kind of clubhouse atmosphere" was a team that was not just short on talent, but one with an extraordinarily toxic clubhouse "atmosphere."
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4392413)
Has a MLB team ever deliberately picked up bad character guys who are maybe undervalued on the market because of their character, like the Bengals seem to do, or the Portland Jailblazers or the Oakland Raiders?

   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:47 AM (#4392418)
Bowden tried to do that with the Nationals, didn't he? The Elijah Dukes / Lastings Milledge / Wily Mo Pena era. I don't know how most players are viewed personally, but they also brought in Johnny Estrada and Dmitri Young, who have been unpopular on some of their teams at least.
   20. Hecubot Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4392422)
Has a MLB team ever deliberately picked up bad character guys who are maybe undervalued on the market because of their character, like the Bengals seem to do, or the Portland Jailblazers or the Oakland Raiders?


The A's took Milton Bradley and got a great season out of him. Took Colon back after his PEDs bust. Blue Jays also seem to enjoy taking "troubled" players off other teams.
   21. Chris Fluit Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4392423)
Wasn't that the Blue Jays' reputation the last couple of offseasons? They picked up Yuniel Escobar from the Braves and Colby Rasmus from the Cardinals on the cheap (or so most of us thought at the time) because of character issues in their previous stops.

edit: Hecubot beat me to it.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4392425)
Has a MLB team ever deliberately picked up bad character guys who are maybe undervalued on the market because of their character, like the Bengals seem to do, or the Portland Jailblazers or the Oakland Raiders?


Toronto in recent years has done a little bit of that (Rasmus and his PITA old man, Yunel after he wore out his welcome in Atlanta, even Lawrie had a bit of a reputation as an immature douche when he arrived), though all of that is on a far smaller scale than what you'd see with the various felons that the Raiders and Trail Blazers were acquiring. The Jays have acquired guys that could be minor headaches in the locker room, not people you wouldn't want in the vicinity of your daughter.

Edit: too slow.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4392432)
Were the 70's A's like that at all?
   24. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 20, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4392439)
Were the 70's A's like that at all?


Most of the A's players were homegrown: Hunter, Jackson, Rudi, Blue, Bando, Tenace, Campaneris, Fingers, probably more. I don't know if they might have been doing something like that at the minor-league and/or draft level, though.
   25. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 20, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4392476)
Bowden tried to do that with the Nationals, didn't he? The Elijah Dukes / Lastings Milledge / Wily Mo Pena era

What did Wily Mo ever do to be lumped in with Dukes? He's not even really wily.

Most of the A's players were homegrown: Hunter, Jackson, Rudi, Blue, Bando, Tenace, Campaneris, Fingers, probably more. I don't know if they might have been doing something like that at the minor-league and/or draft level, though.

Bill North was considered a troublemaker with the Cubs -- having a white girlfriend, not taking crap from white southern coaches and refusing to report to the minors after being sent down. He was acquired for Bob Locker. Bob Locker.
   26. lonestarball Posted: March 20, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4392506)
Has a MLB team ever deliberately picked up bad character guys who are maybe undervalued on the market because of their character,


John Hart appeared to be doing that when he took over in Texas after the 2001 season. He traded for Carl Everett and John Rocker, and signed Hideki Irabu and Ruben Rivera.
   27. KT's Pot Arb Posted: March 20, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4392508)
So what happens if they win 94 ? Head assplode ?


I may find it difficult to read or watch anything about the team for the next year.

I hear soccer can be an exciting sport.
   28. The District Attorney Posted: March 20, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4392522)
I hear soccer can be an exciting sport.
Who told you that???
   29. billyshears Posted: March 20, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4392620)
I think this is hard for a lot of talented people -- what they're good at comes so naturally, they don't know how to talk about it, understand it, or teach it.


In college, a friend and I tried to reenact what Michael Jordan would be like as a coach. It went something like "Jump higher. No, higher. No, dammit - higher. What the #### is wrong with you?"
   30. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 20, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4392727)
Bill North was considered a troublemaker with the Cubs -- having a white girlfriend, not taking crap from white southern coaches and refusing to report to the minors after being sent down. He was acquired for Bob Locker. Bob Locker.


North is one of just 28 players in major league history with at least 1000 hits and OBP higher than SLG - and he just barely got to 1000 hits. Like most such players, as soon as he lost just a little bit of speed he was history. Darren Lewis is a pretty decent recent comp, although North was faster.

-- MWE
   31. Ron J2 Posted: March 20, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4392781)
#29 There are a fair number of stories about Yogi Berra as a coach. Pretty much all of them end with something like, \"#### it, just watch me"

Come to that, Berra is one of the last hitters you'd want a typical player to use as a model. Like Vlad Guerrero in his prime he could hit line drives off pitches you really should leave alone.

EDIT: Not saying he was a bad coach. He actually seems to have been pretty good at seeing what a player was doing wrong. He frequently wasn't able to explain it, but he could often demonstrate what the player was doing and what he should be doing.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2013 at 03:52 PM (#4392782)
North is one of just 28 players in major league history with at least 1000 hits and OBP higher than SLG - and he just barely got to 1000 hits.


And his isn't some Brett Butleresque just slip over the line difference between his OBP and SLG. He's got a gap of .42 points, which is pretty damn Stanktastic.

   33. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: March 20, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4392787)
How did North get so many walks? Zero power (of course), his batting averages were mediocre at best, and he hit leadoff his whole career.
   34. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 20, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4392790)
Wasn't Hornsby sort of the gold standard of great players who couldn't coach worth a damn for many years. I feel like every time I read something about Hornsby's post-playing career it included some anecdote about him being completely incapable of reaching the mere mortals he tried to instruct.
   35. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 20, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4392816)
EDIT: Not saying he was a bad coach. He actually seems to have been pretty good at seeing what a player was doing wrong. He frequently wasn't able to explain it, but he could often demonstrate what the player was doing and what he should be doing.

Yes.
My impression is that Yogi is about as baseball-smart a player as there's ever been, but he frequently doesn't articulate his observations in a way useful to anybody else.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4392876)
Billy Hamilton hopes to be North with even more speed.

North got walks through excellent plate discipline and a crouchy stance. Pitchers aren't actually all that accurate. Looking at his splits, he had a bit of pop from the right side.

And Lewis is an OK comp if we ignore era and context but 250/323/322 was double plus ungood in the sillyball era. (it's a 27 point difference in career OPS+)
   37. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: March 20, 2013 at 05:35 PM (#4392971)
Man, the diamondbacks made some bad trades this offseason. Dang.
   38. zachtoma Posted: March 20, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4393037)
he had a terrible throwing arm which i cannot recall if that was the result of injury or not.


Really? Wasn't he a college quarterback?
   39. The Tarp That Ate Vince Coleman Posted: March 20, 2013 at 10:21 PM (#4393210)
He was an All-American wide receiver at Michigan State.
   40. zonk Posted: March 20, 2013 at 10:41 PM (#4393223)
In 1988, Gibson turned down the ASG invite (wasn't voted in as a starter) so he could spend time with his family.


Wasn't there a hullaballoo last year when Gibson skipped his son's graduation so he wouldn't miss managing some meaningless June game?
   41. Howie Menckel Posted: March 20, 2013 at 10:49 PM (#4393228)
Yogi in his time was a very useful manager/coach in terms of recognizing talent and offering wisdom, however homespun.

Will never forget seeing him speak to a group of high schoolers about 10 years ago, and telling them how proud he was of them. It didn't take at first, until he added that he never got past the 8th grade - wiping away a tear as he said it.

I think he is the most genuine person I have ever met. He's slipped a lot in the last 5 years, unfortunately, but Father Time makes no exceptions for any of us.

   42. sinicalypse Posted: March 21, 2013 at 05:39 PM (#4393834)
Why did the Diamondbacks go the firesale route in the first place? Is it because they had an inkling that they wouldn't be able to re-sign Upton, or perhaps that he wasn't going to be worth the kind of $$$ that he'd command on the market, and therefore selling him off ASAP before he could potentially have another season like last year to lower his value?

I mean, if you wanna tell me that the Diamondbacks are doing this because they wanna get "gamers" to "mesh" with Kirk Gibson I'll surely smile and nod and placate you, but I won't believe you. It's gotta be some sort of a financial thing, although I assume that Trevor Bauer pissed off a management who had soured on his prospects going forward so they took a big hit to press the reset button (imagine what they coulda gotten if they moved him b4 his major-league failure last year, but then again this IS kevin towers so who knows?)

C'est la vie. If they're really gonna try to go the "grinder" route and build up a team of self-destructing try-hard media-darling Eric Byrnes types then I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that the Snakes are going to thoroughly suck until Kevin Towers is kindly shown the door.
   43. zonk Posted: March 21, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4393837)
I mean, if you wanna tell me that the Diamondbacks are doing this because they wanna get "gamers" to "mesh" with Kirk Gibson I'll surely smile and nod and placate you, but I won't believe you.


Far be it for me to question organizational philosophy, but if you're going to get players who mesh with your manager shouldn't you really have a manager with more than a single division title to his name before deciding to traipse down that road?

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