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.