Last-place Diamondbacks are preparing for a fire sale

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Arizona’s front office is in flux, with Tony La Russa coming in and both general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson seemingly unlikely to stick around, and not surprisingly the last-place Diamondbacks are hoping to unload some of their veteran players for long-term help before the July 31 trade deadline.

Who exactly could be available? According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic just about every veteran player except All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, but the problem is that most of them aren’t having good seasons and/or have undesirable contracts.

Right-hander Brandon McCarthy, left-hander Oliver Perez, outfielders Cody Ross and Mark Trumbo, and second baseman Aaron Hill will likely be shopped around, and Eric Chavez and Bronson Arroyo are other trade candidates if they can get healthy. And it’s possible that the Diamondbacks could look to trade Martin Prado or Gerardo Parra if the other guys don’t generate enough interest to bring back significant long-term building blocks.

Piecoro quotes one scout as saying that there’s “not a lot of pieces to move” and another scout as saying that “the pieces they will want to move will only get a marginal return because of the money involved.”

In other words: Tony La Russa may have his hands full with this remodel job.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.