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Are the Diamondbacks gonna get hosed in any Justin Upton deal?

Jan 15, 2013, 11:33 AM EDT

justin upton getty Getty Images

Jonah Keri takes a look at the Justin Upton trade that wasn’t with an eye on whether the Dbacks’ leverage in any Justin Upton trade has been damaged.

The more interesting part of the piece: a look at various other trades in which a big name was on the outs with a leverage-poor team and was subsequently unloaded. Some of those moves worked. Some of them didn’t.

I suppose only hindsight will tell us whether or not the Dbacks are wise to be so openly shopping Upton or if, rather, they’re gonna wind up with a modren day equivalent to Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman, and Pat Zachry.

  1. Old Gator - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    In Phoenix, that would be subject to water conservation rules, so it won’t be too bad.

    • stex52 - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      New Headline:

      “Are the Diamondbacks gonna get sprinkled in any Justin Upton deal?”

      Nah. Too many religious overtones.

  2. xpensivewinos - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    On a positive note, Doug Flynn is one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met. So there’s that :)

  3. yahmule - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Comparing this guy even obliquely to Tom Terrific? Get a grip on yourself.

    • jl9830 - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      Those four players were traded for a young Nolan Ryan, not Tom Seaver.

      • jl9830 - Jan 15, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        NO. I’M WRONG. My bad.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        jl9830 – aren’t you glad you didn’t call the poster you corrrected a jerk? (Seems to be normal internet protocol.)

  4. The Common Man - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    The Seaver trade actually wasn’t that bad. Using Baseball Reference’s WAR, Henderson and Zachary combined to be within a win of Seaver from 1977-1979 and were better in 1980. The problem was the inclusion of Flynn, who was truly horrible, and how much he was used:

    • American of African Descent - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      WAR is not a good metric.

      But even if it were, arguing that two pitchers with a combined WAR of X are as valuable as one pitcher with a WAR of X is the functional equivalent of saying that a two <a href=""second generation fighters are equal to one fourth generation fighter. Not so: I’ll take one ace over two half aces in war or in baseball.

      • The Common Man - Jan 16, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        WAR is just a metric. It’s good for some things and not good for others. In this case, I think it helps us compare players’ production across positions. But simply saying it’s “not good” without offering any kind of argument about it is lazy and stupid.

        That said, your point about the relative dominance of Seaver versus guys like Zachary and Henderson is a good one. And indeed, finding an elite talent like Seaver is far, far harder than mid-level players. That said, Seaver wasn’t pitching at the same level when he was in Cincinnati, so your analogy, to me, seems a little off.

    • dohpey28 - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      And that right there is why WAR is overrated

      • The Common Man - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        You’re welcome to that opinion, even if you can’t see fit to back it up. But the truth is that the Mets would have sucked with or without Seaver in that era, and that he was nowhere near the pitcher for the Reds that he was with the Mets. The reasons they traded him (and Brian Kingman) were terrible, their refusal to build a winning team with their resources in the early days of free agency was unforgivable, but the trades themselves ultimately acquired players that collectively outperformed their counterparts (except for Flynn, whose terribleness really can’t be overstated) in the aftermath of the Midnight Massacre.

      • paperlions - Jan 15, 2013 at 2:11 PM

        Actually, that right there is why you should evaluate trades years later instead of at the moment they happen.

    • jwbiii - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      It’s not that WAR is overrated, you’re just using it incorrectly. You’re assuming that all of these players replaced replacement level players. They didn’t. For example, the acquisition Steve Henderson moved John Milner to 1B and Ed Kranepool to the bench. 1977 Steve Henderson was better than 1976 Ed Kranepool and overall this improved the Mets, but not by as much as Henderson’s raw WAR numbers suggest.

      • jwbiii - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:32 PM

        Actually, your argument sort of does work for pitchers. When a team acquires a pitcher, he takes up the innings which would have been pitched by a fifth starter or a bullpen mop and bucket guy and those players are likely to be replacement level or close to it.

      • The Common Man - Jan 16, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        Memory is so damn fickle. Milner moved to first base a full month before the trade, with Kranepool going to the OF. At that point, Kranepool was 32 and never was a productive player again.

        Moreover, even if the Mets may have executed the arrangement of their players inefficiently post-trade is not an indictment of the trade itself.

  5. Ben - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    What an unfulfilling piece–lots of great information, but no analysis. What’s the point of reviewing the situation, giving loads of interesting history, and then not bothering to actually analyze the situation and the history?
    If the point of the article was to just be a laundry list of previous trades, alright, whatever. But why pose an interesting question and then not actually answer it? Jonah Keri’s generally a good writer, but this piece fails to meet even the most basic requirements of analytical writing–ask a question, form a hypothesis, present evidence, bring it together in some sort of conclusion that related back to your argument. All he does is ask a question and present a list of evidence.
    Pretty shoddy, IMHO.

    /metarant over.

    • mJankiewicz - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      why not just form you own opinion with the information provided?

      • Ben - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:50 PM

        Because that’s not the point of analytical writing. Compare to Wendy Thurm’s new article up on Fangraphs.
        Or Ben Lindbergh’s piece this morning on Twins pitching.
        They ask a question and actually bothers to answer it. Amazing.

      • mJankiewicz - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        I guess there is some value in hearing other people’s opinions to open your mind up to perspectives you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. But to condemn the article because he didn’t give his opinion seems kind of petty to me. It’s still good information. Just form your own opinion.

  6. raysfan1 - Jan 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    I always remember that Seaver trade with a smile–I was a huge fan of the Big Red Machine, especially Bench, but my fab pitcher was on the Mets until that trade. The run of World Series appearances was done, but getting to see the Seaver-Bench battery was just awesome.

    I also completely agree with the poster above who mentioned what a good guy Doug Flynn is. He was one who would actually talk to us kids in addition to signing autographs rather than acting like we were a bother.

    • mazblast - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:09 PM

      I remember how certain Reds fans were that the deal for Seaver was going to result in multiple World Series titles, above and beyond the two they had just won. It was like the Ken Griffey Jr. deal–the fans had decided, so why bother to even play the games?

      Sparky Anderson, when asked why he didn’t go out to the mound more often when Seaver was pitching–“What the hell am I going to tell Tom Seaver that he don’t already know?”

      Doug Flynn–Not much of a player, but a great guy. Always had time to talk to fans and had a good sense of humor. He was the backup to Morgan and Rose; thought Morgan was the bomb, that Joe was always teaching him things, but that Rose barely acknowledged his existence.

  7. schrutebeetfarms - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Normally when a headline includes the words “Upton” and “hosed” it leads to Kate Upton and a heckuva video.

    This wasn’t quite as interesting.

  8. djjackson81 - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Who cares what a waist of story by NBC sports,

    • Kevin S. - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      It could be worse, they could have written a heel of a story instead.

  9. jwbiii - Jan 15, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    I never understand how trade discussions like this get this far. Upton can block trades to four teams. Those teams are well known. They’re listed on Arizona’s page on Cot’s Contracts. How a conversation like this not have taken place early in the process?

    Towers: “Hey Justin, Jack Zduriencik up in Seattle is interested in you. How about you waive your NTC and we’ll trade you to the Mariners?”
    Upton: “How about ‘No’.”
    Towers: “Ok, then Jack and I will work out a deal, announce it to the press, you’ll veto it, and come out looking like a head case. That will reduce your trade value and lessen the return when I trade you to one of the 25 teams that is not on your NTC list. Ok?”
    Upton: “Well, if that’s really what you want to do, KT, I guess I can’t stop you.”

    • Sign Ahead - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      That is the Justin Upton trade melodrama in a nutshell: one baffling self-inflicted wound after another.

      As a Diamondbacks fan, I was actually a little jealous when Jeffrey Loria imposed a media blackout on his front office. I would love to see the my team do the same thing, especially when it comes to talking about struggling players. Mr. Kendrick, Mr. Towers, we get it. You’re frustrated with the team’s uneven performance and you want to make changes. But when you let your frustration get the best of you while you’re talking to the media, you weaken your position and make those changes very difficult.

      Please, gentlemen, a little less you talk, a little more you think. We’ll all be happier with the results.

  10. greymares - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    I don’t think they will get hosed the PHILLIES ARE USUALLY FAIR when they trade for players.

    • yahmule - Jan 15, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      Like the time they traded for Ivan DeJesus.

      • greymares - Jan 15, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        your talking 30 yrs. man

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