Yes, the Diamondbacks really do want “gritty” players

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Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers was on a media conference call a little while ago and he confirmed what Rosenthal’s sources were telling him about how the Dbacks really just want a Kirk Gibson-like, gritty player.”

Asked about grittiness, here is what Towers said:

“That’s the way Gibby played the game … That’s how we won in 2011 … Justin was a part of that team. We kind of like that gritty, hard-nosed player. I’m not saying Justin isn’t that type.”

But, in reality, he actually did, noting how Upton’s “body language” didn’t really please everyone, and stressing how the players he got back from the Braves were, in fact, “gritty.”

This is all such silliness. It makes me think that either (a) Kevin Towers is off his rocker; or (b) there is really some specific, deeper problem between Upton and the Dbacks and, in an effort to make it sound like merely a bad fit, Towers is allowing himself to traffic in the silly “gritty” stuff.  Probably worth noting that Towers has not, historically, been off his rocker, so maybe he’s just trying too hard not to say something bad about Justin Upton and is doing a poor job of it.

But as for grit, I don’t know what’s more gritty than a player getting so mad at the other team scoring a run that he literally throws a trash can, and the only player involved in this trade who I have ever seen do that is Justin Upton.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.