Diamondbacks “listening” to offers for Justin Upton, but “need to be blown away”

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Diamondbacks are “listening” to offers on Justin Upton, but “need to be blown away” in order to actually trade the 23-year-old right fielder.

I’m not exactly sure why a rebuilding team like the Diamondbacks would be even remotely interested in trading one of the best young players in baseball, but other teams should absolutely be trying to put together offers that lead to Kevin Towers being “blown away.”

Upton took a step backward this season after a huge 2009, but still hit .273 with 17 homers, 18 steals, and an .800 OPS in 133 games as a 22-year-old. He’s a very good defensive right fielder with speed and power who’s signed through 2015 at reasonable prices and very few hitters in baseball history have been as productive as Upton through age 22.

In fact, here’s the complete list of all the players in the past 50 years to get at least 1,500 appearances through age 22 and post a higher OPS than Upton: Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Conigliaro, Boog Powell, Cesar Cedeno.

That’s it. That’s the whole list. And filling out the rest of the top 10, directly behind Upton on the list, are Johnny Bench, Andruw Jones, and Rickey Henderson. Given his age, tools, production, and contract Upton is likely one of the dozen or so most valuable commodities in baseball right now. If your favorite team’s GM isn’t trying to pry him away from the Diamondbacks, he’s not doing his job.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.