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So, the Diamondbacks want 25 Kirk Gibsons on their roster?

Jan 24, 2013, 4:33 PM EDT

kirk gibson tips cap

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.

  1. geoknows - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    This was very similar to Keith Law’s take:

    “The Diamondbacks’ new strategy seems to be to trade any player that manager Kirk Gibson doesn’t like, regardless of the reason. For the second time this offseason, they’ve made such a deal and taken less than full value in return for a player the whole industry knew the team wanted to move. At some point, they’re going to have to stop blaming the players.”

    Seems like it’s not behind the pay wall.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/blog/_/name/law_keith

    • hep3 - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:32 PM

      So I guess Hank Aaron was too smooth and could not have played for the Diamondbacks?

      • genericcommenter - Jan 25, 2013 at 3:57 PM

        Well, he wasn’t a white guy.

  2. bsbiz - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    If the mainsail is good, a few battens can handle a slightly less than perfect jib.

    • thekcubrats - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:47 PM

      Cody Ross is that kind of player.

      Cody Ross is that kind of player.

      Cody Ross is that kind of player.

      I boggle.

  3. proudlycanadian - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    Where is Rooster Cogburn when you really need him?

  4. dondada10 - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    I can’t see other teams following this sort of asinine logic.

    Imagine if the Detroit Tigers only wanted guys who chain smoked?

    What if the Reds only fielded sadists?

    • historiophiliac - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      Oh, we NEVER pick the dudes that go all out. We take the guys who like good luck cakes…as long as they can hit big. “Big Hits, Big Guts, Motor City”

    • sportsdrenched - Jan 24, 2013 at 5:32 PM

      Oh, I can. This strategy is extremly effective….at losing the most game in MLB during the current owners regime.

  5. willpenamarketing - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Reblogged this on Will Peña, Online Marketer and Mentor and commented:
    I think that this move may come back and bite the Dbacks in the ass. They are giving up way too much talent in Justin Upton. I realize that he is not the emotional fireball that Kirk Gibson is looking for. Upton will be playing at a high level for the Braves much longer than Kirk Gibson will be the Manager of the Diamondbacks. And that’s when GM Kevin Towers will see that he made yet another bad move!!

    • gloccamorra - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      As I commented in another post, Kevin Towers is smarter than that, but his boss, Ken Kendrick isn’t and Kendrick is in Gibson’s corner. Towers may rue the day he left the assistant job with the Yankees, and their sane owners, the Steinbrenners.

  6. petey1999 - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    “No one knocks his talent or even his work ethic.”

    Having watched Upton in PHX for a while, plenty of people here have knocked his work ethic and attitude. Thinking about similar criticism of his brother, it may run in the family.

    • paperlions - Jan 24, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      Pray tell, on what basis is this knocking? Because people that work with the guy have not knocked his work ethic or attitude. It is the same as people misconstruing JD Drew or Beltran making things look easy with them not trying hard. Just because they can make hard things look easy, does not mean they are not playing hard.

      • petey1999 - Jan 24, 2013 at 5:43 PM

        Here are three things: 1) failing to run out ground balls, 2) failing to take the extra base, 3) failing to back up other outfielders. Really, it’s spelled h-u-s-t-l-e, and every fan can see when it’s not there. Interesting that one of the first things Stephen Drew said when he got to BOS was “I am not my brother.”

      • paperlions - Jan 24, 2013 at 6:01 PM

        Nah, Drew isn’t his brother. His brother was very good at baseball.

      • cur68 - Jan 24, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        Petey: I looked up some stuff based on what you said. Here from BRef are the results:

        The numbers go: BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ WAR

        .265 .328 .433 .762 96

        .278 .384 .489 .873 125

        They guy with the first line said he wasn’t the guy with the second line. He was right. He WISHES he was his brother.

        Just for fun, here’s J. Upton’s line over his first six seasons:
        .278 .357 .475 .832 117 13.1

        Now here’s Kurt Gibson’s through his first six:
        .273 .342 .464 .806 122 9.9

        It would bother me that there isn’t an empirical way to demonstrate the veracity of statement that Gibson wants guys that plays as hard as he does when the guy he just saw his team trade away played better than him over the same span of career. Does it bother you, because its more a stark a differnce than you think. Watch this>>>

        Looking at actual games played, Gibson got into 492 games in his first six season. Upton? Well he managed 731 games. WHO’S the harder working & better player here? Of the two guys, who’d you want on your team again? If this trade was all Gibson’s idea then Gibson is judging Upton on WHAT exactly? Being better than he was at the same age and experience level?

        This is a stupid trade for the D-Backs.

      • paperlions - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:26 PM

        I want to see some evidence of this narrative bullshit. Is there any evidence, video or otherwise, of Upton failing to run out GBs or back up plays or anything else compared to your average MLB player? Because I guaranfuckingtee you that Ross will fail to run out more GBs next year than Upton has ever failed to run out. The entire difference is perception: one guy is talented and unreasonable “hustle expectations” are placed on him, the other guy is an average to below average player without outstanding athletic ability, so no one gives a shit if he “hustles” or not.

  7. caeser12 - Jan 24, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    The Diamondbacks want a certain type of player — single-minded.

    Translation: Obsequious.

    • dondada10 - Jan 24, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      Highlight. Right click. Search Google for “obsequious.” Read. Agree!

      • vallewho - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:19 PM

        done

  8. bluesnats - Jan 24, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Larry Broadway is being wasted in Pittsburgh

  9. schlom - Jan 24, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    I lot of the criticism ignores the fact that Kevin Towers has been a really good GM throughout his tenure in the major leagues. In fact there might not be a better GM at building major league teams (ignoring his absolutely atrocious drafting with the Padres as it doesn’t apply here). He took over the Padres in 1995 and they went to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years in 1996 and then the World Series in 1998. After five crappy seasons following that WS trip (mostly because of terrible, cheap ownership) he built a Padres team that had winning records from 2004-2007 and made the playoffs 2 of those 4 years. And he did that with a low payroll and getting nearly nothing out the draft. Those teams were mostly built through lopsided trades with other teams. Then he moved the the Diamondbacks and his first year there they improved by 29 games and even after the disappointing year last year they were still better than the two years before he took the job.

    I could understand that if these moves were made by Dayton Moore than a lot of the negative stuff might be applicable but I think Towers has earned the chance to be given the benefit of the doubt.

    • paperlions - Jan 24, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      It really doesn’t matter how well a GM seems to have done in the past. Bad deals are bad deals, and he has made three horrible trades in a row and made at least one dumb signing as well. First, he gave away Chris Young for a below average SS, which is saying something these days considering the state of the SS position. Second, he gave away Bauer for a glove only SS prospect that profiles more as a utility player than an everyday player. Third, he signed Ross to a expensive deal to fill a position of non-need. Fourth, he signed the recently acquired below average SS to an extension (note: the only thing he got back for giving away Bauer, a guy that just turned 22 last week and already earned his way to the majors by dominating the minors, was an all-glove no-hit SS). Fifth, he trades Upton away for 40 cents on the dollar, getting no impact prospects and a 30 year old utility player (a valuable player, yes, but one that is about to get expensive for what he provides). Sixth, he hopes to sign Prado to an extension, will almost certainly wind up as a horrible deal considering Prado’s skills and age and the likely price tag.

      Towers has made a bunch of deals and has a less talented, more expensive team without adding a single impact prospect while trading away one.

      • schlom - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:14 PM

        So apparently your opinion is more important than Kevin Towers?

      • cur68 - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:11 PM

        I don’t know from opinion, but the very words Towers used to describe why he traded away a guy as good, young and with as much potential as Upton summed up best as “We didn’t like Justin Upton”. Like for what? A prom date? Sure. If you’re GM in charge of Prom Dating.

        Given that Towers is supposed to be running a ballclub and Justin Upton is already very good at baseball and will spend the next 3 to 7 years getting better, what sense does this move make? By all accounts Upton’s a nice enough guy, his teammates liked him, he’s been pretty restrained given this bullshit, and he played all last season with a thumb injury, so what’s not to like about the kid as a ballplayer and as teammate?

        Martin Prado is 30 and likely getting worse at baseball. He’s going to require an extension and it’ll be big money. So while Prado is getting worse and requires a big cash advance, Upton’s getting better for cheaper.

        These things are well past “opinion”. These things are in the realm of “current events” & “likelihood”. Ultimately, this isn’t the worst baseball deal ever, but it isn’t a great baseball deal by any means and the D-Backs are worse off for it going forward.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:48 PM

        Plausible baseball judgment?

      • joegolfer - Jan 25, 2013 at 12:56 AM

        Daniel Hudson was a good addition, but I can’t recall if that was under Towers or a prior GM.
        I’d consider Hudson to be an impact player, as he’s very young and should be a good pitcher for many years to come.
        As for Upton, it is too bad that so many form opinions without knowing what’s truly in his head. Maybe he really was trying his hardest, but he just looks smoother doing it. Upton to Gibson comparisons are really moot, since Gibson is known for that famous HR in the World Series with the Dodgers while he was injured, but he isn’t known for his fantastic full career.
        Upton’s teammates would probably have a better idea of his intensity level, provided he talked with them about certain things. Some guys don’t work hard at practice, which is a tipoff.
        The late Negro Leagues star Buck O’Neal said he’d rather have a player with good talent and a ton of desire to excel than a super talented player who didn’t want to put in the time to get better.
        We don’t know what category Upton truly fits into. He’s still young. Like his brother, he has had a sporadic up and down game to date, with streaks of greatness followed by streaks of poor play and slumps.
        Of course, Cody Ross epitomizes the player who is super-streaky.

  10. cubsisles72 - Jan 24, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Bring on Rex Hudler and John Cangelosi and Al Hrabosky!

  11. vallewho - Jan 24, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    what are they going to do when they have to fire Gibson in 2-3 years?

  12. recoveringcubsfan - Jan 24, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    God, that franchise is so f***ed in the management department. Just…God. And so far not one of his teammates has stuck up for him, so that tells you that the players themselves are buying into this horsesh*t. May they lose 100 games and be mocked by the rest of the NL.

  13. vallewho - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    You can rule out Cano (when he hits the open market) as possibly going to PHX…you know he just mashes …with smooth style.

    • joegolfer - Jan 25, 2013 at 1:02 AM

      Good point. Cano is fantastic. If only he’d steal a base now and then.
      He’s getting older now, but even when he was young, he inexplicably never stole bases. Just stood there waiting for someone else to move him along.
      That said, he’s probably the best 2Bman around.

      • louhudson23 - Jan 25, 2013 at 5:58 AM

        On particular plays,Cano can be mindblowing…on others,he just plain blows….I watched about 100 Yankee games last year.Cano is one of the more frustrating players I have ever watched play. He is truly talented and can bust his ass at times,play intelligent baseball in the field and at the plate. But when he decides it’s time to coast,then it is time to coast. I know I saw him fail to run out double at least ten times.Jakeing it to first on ground balls etc. etc…Lazily wave at grounders to his right and lob the ball around(I can say that his throwing motion looks laid back always,but he is capable of putting a lot of zip on that throw and gets rid of it quickly)Why do players do this? I don’t know. Being smooth isn’t it.Lots of players are deceptively smooth.Being smooth is not standing in the box looking at fly balls hit the wall or go in a gap,and then beginning to run. Deion Sanders was smooth as silk,but his ass was thinking triple on every ball put into play.I guess all that should be forgotten and just worry about what his stats are.Talent? Check.Numbers? Check.Big paycheck? Check. End of story apparently.I am beginning to think many folks have just stopped watching the games and simply wait for the new numbers to plug in….like the guy who called his bookie before Super Bowl kick off and said screw it,lets just flip for it.The game is apparently beside the point….”Baseball stats are like bikinis,they show you a lot,but they don’t show you everything”-D.Dyer

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:15 AM

        He is truly talented and can bust his ass at times,play intelligent baseball in the field and at the plate. But when he decides it’s time to coast,then it is time to coast

        Just throwing this out there:

        Games Played:
        Kirk Gibson – 17 Seasons – 1635
        Robinson Cano – 8 Seasons – 1214

        So just a little under 400 games less played in 9 less seasons. It’s great to be a balls-to-the-wall all the time player, but if you can’t stay on the field what good does that do for you or your team?

  14. phillyphreak - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    “Cody Ross is that kind of player…”

    So, I’m not a fancy baseballer analyst paid by a team but I do have an internet connection and access to basic stats on FG.

    2010-2012 (Avg, OBP, SLG, wOBA, Fld, BsR, WAR)

    Cody Ross: .260, .324, .434, .330, -0.3, 0.8, 5.7
    Justin Upton: .281, .361, .469, .359, 11.1, 8.2, 11.9

    So just so we’re clear, grit (and a super annoying home run trot) > production. Earth shattering for many here I know…..

    • louhudson23 - Jan 26, 2013 at 7:34 AM

      Apparently,being a dick(as perceived by those in charge of making decisions) has a diminishing effect on the numbers. Numbers are not who you spend your days and nights and practices and meetings and games with and who interact and affect people. They did not like the guy on their team. He is no longer on their team.

  15. louhudson23 - Jan 26, 2013 at 7:42 AM

    church,I don’t see how standing and looking while doubles off the wall become long singles is comparable to a brittle outfielder hurting himself(unnecessarilly??) running into a wall. Or jogging to first on a ball that is bobbled,bad throw etc….It’s a long season and getting dirty for effect(see Nick Swisher) is indeed pointless. ……But Cano often does not hustle.
    In games that matter.I have seen it. There is no justification for it.

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