How the Diamondbacks went from Trevor Bauer to Didi Gregorius

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The Diamondbacks and GM Kevin Towers knew all about Trevor Bauer’s odd delivery and unusual throwing program when they made him the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. If they had questions about him then, they overlooked them in order to get one of the top talents on the board.

Now, a year and a half later, he’s gone, essentially traded for a middle infielder who has hit .271/.323/.376 in five minor league seasons. Didi Gregorius is the Diamondbacks’ new hope at shortstop, replacing the old hope of Bauer at the top of the rotation.

Gregorius, for what it’s worth, signed with the Reds for $50,000 out of Curacao in 2007. Bauer got a $3.45 million bonus and a four-year, $4.45 million contract upon joining the Diamondbacks last year.

Not only is that money gone, but the Diamondbacks passed on such talents as the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy, the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon and the Indians’ Francisco Lindor to draft Bauer. It’s safe to say that Gregorius wouldn’t have been of much interest if they had taken Lindor, now one of the game’s best shortstop prospects.

That the Diamondbacks’ relationship with Bauer had soured was obvious. The two parties disagreed about his throwing program. Whispers about attitude problems had become pervasive. Some of Bauer’s tweets also rubbed people the wrong way.

It’s all stuff that likely would have been overlooked had Bauer seemed well on his way to becoming an ace. However, fluctuating velocity and spotty fastball command had damaged his stock to some disagree.

Regardless, I still think trading Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw in exchange for Gregorius, Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson was a lousy idea for the Diamondbacks. But nor do I imagine Towers picked it over a bunch of superior offers; the fact is that everyone knew that Bauer was out there and no team seemed all that eager to take the plunge.

The big concern I have is the way the Diamondbacks are bleeding talent. I’ve liked their two biggest free agent additions to date (Brandon McCarthy and Eric Chavez), but trading Chris Young for a now obsolete Cliff Pennington and an overpriced reliever in Heath Bell was a net loss, as is this latest deal. Towers also traded a semi-intriguing corner infielder in Ryan Wheeler for  a generic left-handed reliever in Matt Reynolds. In an effort to fill gaps now, Towers has increased the likelihood that there will be bigger holes in the future.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.