D-Backs president still happy with Justin Upton trade

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Yeah, it’s early and yeah, Justin Upton isn’t going to post Ruthian offensive stats for an entire season, but the initial results on the trade between the D-Backs and Braves isn’t exactly even. Upton is tied for the Major League lead in homers with six and is looking like a tour de force in the middle of the Braves’ batting order.

The Braves acquired Upton along with third baseman Chris Johnson from the Diamondbacks back in January in exchange for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and prospects Brandon Drury, Nick Ahmed, and Zeke Spruill.

What made the trade particularly shocking is the confluence of Upton’s age (25), team-friendly contract ($38.5 million over the next three seasons), and his obvious skill. Players like Upton rarely become available — even more rarely at that relative cheapness — and that is becoming the case even more lately as teams work tirelessly to get their franchise superstars locked up for a long time.

Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall still thinks the trade worked out well for both teams.

“I think it’s a situation where it was a perfect situation for him actually and for us we got what we needed,” Hall stated. “I mean this was just two different teams that had two different needs and it worked out well for both, not to mention we still have four prospects that we’re going to be dealing with in the next few years.”

The reality is, the D-Backs were under no pressure to get rid of Upton. Any pressure they felt was self-imposed in their desire to construct a more “gritty” roster. This isn’t to say that the players the D-Backs acquired can’t be good, but if you ask 100 current and former GM’s if they would have made the trade from the Braves’ perspective, all 100 would say yes before you even finish your sentence. Any attempt by Arizona’s upper management to spin the Upton trade as a net positive is disingenuous.

Dodgers upset with Héctor Neris after Thursday’s game

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July hasn’t treated Phillies closer Héctor Neris well. Entering Thursday, he had allowed runs in three of his last four appearances, blowing two saves in the process. His struggles continued as he allowed a two-out solo home run to Alex Verdugo in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday afternoon, closing the deficit to 7-6. Thankfully for the Phillies, he was able to get the final out, getting Justin Turner to fly out to right field. An excited Neris looked into the Dodgers’ dugout and yelled an expletive.

The four-game series between the Dodgers and Phillies had quite some drama. After Matt Beaty hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday, Neris threw a pitch at the next batter, David Freese, seemingly in frustration. Neris was suspended three games. He appealed his punishment, which is why he’s been allowed to pitch. In the fourth inning of Thursday’s game, Max Muncy and Beaty stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle on consecutive plays. That, along with his own struggles, explains why Neris might’ve been amped up after closing out the ballgame.

The Dodgers were, understandably, not happy about Neris yelling at them. Several players shouted back, including Clayton Kershaw and Russell Martin. An unamused Muncy glared at Neris. Martin suggested to Neris that they meet in the hallway.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the game, “I think we played this series the right way, played it straight. To look in our dugout and to taunt in any way, I think it’s unacceptable. Look in your own dugout.”

Muncy said, “He’s blown about eight saves against us over the last two years. I guess he was finally excited he got one. Whatever.”

Neris attributed his outburst to emotions, saying, “It’s a great win for my team and just I let my emotion get out.”

In baseball, everyone is pro-showing-emotion when it’s himself and his teammates, and against when it’s players on the other team. Muncy got into a back-and-forth with Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after flipping his bat and watching his long home run at Oracle Park last month. Bumgarner jawed at him and Muncy said, “I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.”

Neris, however, is the last guy on the Phillies who should be antagonizing the Dodgers after his terrible decision to throw at Freese, not to mention his overall poor performance against them. The Phillies were pigs in mud who wanted to wrestle and the Dodgers jumped in with them for some reason. Thankfully, the two teams are done playing each other for the rest of the regular season.