Ken Rosenthal’s column on the Justin Upton trade is interesting. And, for Rosenthal, pretty sharp-edged. I kinda like it!
He spoke with some Diamondbacks players, and the picture they paint is that the biggest reason Upton is gone is because, if Rosenthal’s sources are representative of the team’s view of things, they basically want a roster full of Kirk Gibsons:
The Diamondbacks want a certain type of player — single-minded, outwardly intense, fierce. Cody Ross is that kind of player. Martin Prado is that kind of player. Upton is not, at least not in the estimation of Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson.
“The problem is that he didn’t play with a high level of energy,” said one of Upton’s former teammates 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.
No one knocks his talent or even his work ethic. It’s his style that bothered the Dbacks brass. Rosenthal’s source tells him that Upton “plays hard but has to look suave doing it. Slamming into walls isn’t his thing, and they will accept nothing short of all-out sacrifice for the team.”
But as long as he’s not dogging it — and the “he plays hard” suggests that he’s not — what’s the problem here? Kirk Gibson went all-out and slammed into walls and he wound up playing about 100 games a year and being unable to walk half the damn time.
This all sounds to me like attitude is trumping performance in the Diamondbacks’ analysis, and that seems crazy. While you obviously can’t keep majorly disruptive forces in your clubhouse, Justin Upton wasn’t that. Short of that, you should build your team with talented players, full stop. Get your grit where you can, but don’t send away a talented player simply because you don’t like the cut of his jib.
Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.
Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.
The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.
The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.
This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.
It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.