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Miguel Montero on Trevor Bauer: “He never wanted to listen”

Feb 12, 2013, 6:48 AM EDT

Trevor Bauer Getty Images

It was understood that the Diamondbacks trade of pitching prospect Trevor Bauer had more to do with the team’s opinion of his attitude than its opinion of his talent. Yes, he struggled during his callup last year, but he just turned 22 and struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings in two minor league seasons. A bit better control and this kid could be a star.

In light of that, unloading him for Didi Gregorius and Tony Sipp had just as much if not more to do with the Dbacks not liking the cut of Bauer’s jib than his pitching chops.

Adam Green of Arizona Sports.com spoke to Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero and Montero was unusually forthcoming about just how little Arizona cared for that jib:

“When you get a guy like that and he thinks he’s got everything figured out, it’s just tough to commence and try to get on the same page with you … Since day one in Spring Training I caught him and he killed me because he threw about 100 pitches the first day,” Montero said, adding he told Bauer he should take it a bit slower and work on locating his fastball first before working on his breaking pitches. “And he said ‘yes’, and the next time he threw I saw him doing the same thing,” Montero said. “He never wanted to listen … Good luck to Carlos Santana.”

Yikes.

It’s hard for me to not have a bit of sympathy for Bauer. Smarts + youth + confidence + stubbornness is not an easy set of attributes to carry in a lot of settings. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I will say I’m a pretty smart guy. But I am also stubborn and when I was young I didn’t just sound arrogant, I often was, and I had an unwarranted confidence in my own abilities.  When I got out of law school I got into a professional environment where there was a Way of Doing Things, and I didn’t especially cotton to it. I’d buck it and think I knew better. Sometimes, yes, I actually did. I still think a lot of things I was expected to do as a baby lawyer were dumb and unnecessary.

After a while, though, I came to realize that the Way of Doing Things was in place for a lot of good reasons. It still chafed. I still often felt that I knew better. I still had an awful time trying to conform to the Way of Doing Things. But that Way, when I gave it a chance, usually made my life easier and helped me learn and grow. I learned and grew way more slowly, however, than the people who came in with some humility, an open mind and the realization that the folks who were in charge of the Way of Doing Things had at least some method to their apparent madness.

This is not to say that Kirk Gibson, Miguel Montero and the Arizona Diamondbacks have a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to how to integrate a then-21 year-old phenom into a big league setting. To the contrary, there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. Especially when that cat is a smart, young, confident and stubborn pitcher. Indeed, because a talented pitcher is a far more rare and valuable commodity than a kid out of law school, a team can and should at least try to tailor their Way of Doing Things to the talent they have as opposed to insisting on some My Way or the Highway approach. There have been flaky pitchers in the past and there will be flaky pitchers in the future. If they’re good, they always find homes.

But if what Montero is saying is true, and Bauer was unwilling to at least try to meet him and the Diamondbacks halfway — to at least give their far more experienced Way of Doing Things a chance — it suggests that the young man is going to have more trouble than most navigating the path between phenom and ace. Maybe Terry Francona and Carlos Santana are guys who can handle Bauer and tailor a system to suit his needs. But maybe they’re not. Maybe it will take two or three more stops and contentious spring trainings before Bauer either changes or finds someone with whom he can click.

I managed to eventually make peace with the Way of Doing Things in my legal career. But it was a rough peace, it took longer than it should have and, ultimately, it probably contributed to that career not being as long or as successful as it could have been had I been on board from day one.  Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen to Trevor Bauer.

Or, if it does happen, here’s hoping he finds a place where he can work by himself all day like I did. That’s a pretty great setting for smart, overly-confident and stubborn people. We’re a very hard to work with bunch.

  1. jpeetey - Feb 12, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    I am shocked to hear that a law student thought he knew more than he did. You must have been so out of place.

    • humanexcrement - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      When you’ve been through something really tough, whether it’s education, Marine Corps training or achieved some goal you aspired to and kicked ass while doing it, some arrogance is justified, inevitable, and even necessary, mostly because your arrogance has been tested.

      • 4cornersfan - Feb 12, 2013 at 5:11 PM

        Having done Marine Corps boot camp and gone to law school I can tell you that both tend to kick the hubris right out of you, but it returns pretty quickly. When you you get the FMF or go into a law practice you are pretty arrogant and real life plays Whack-A-Mole with you for a while until you either figure it out or retire from the scene. This kid Bauer must be an especially hard case for the D’Backs to give up on him at such an early stage, considering his talent. He now has the choice of doing what he has to do or ending up like Ryan Leaf and others of that breed.

    • pellypell - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      How do you know someone went to law school? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

  2. philliesblow - Feb 12, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    I smell a new acronym: WoDT. BSoHL is so 2012.

  3. clownsfan - Feb 12, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    A 22 y/o who thinks he knows everything? Show me a young buck who doesn’t…….

  4. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 12, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    But if what Montero is saying is true, and Bauer was unwilling to at least try to meet him and the Diamondbacks halfway — to at least give their far more experienced Way of Doing Things a chance — it suggests that the young man is going to have more trouble than most navigating the path between phenom and ace.

    Or there’s this:

    and for fun

  5. echech88 - Feb 12, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    Everyone is sour on AZ for trading him but this actually sounds like a defensible move if they truly believe the way he does things will negatively impact his value either through poor performance or injury.

    Maybe not every club would handle it the same but it’s their organization and if they believe from the top down (which it sounds like with Towers, Gibson and Montero all on the same page) that this kid is a bad fit, than it’s better to move him earlier than later.

    • jl9830 - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      That’s not the point. His value exceeded the return- if they were going to trade him, they should have traded him for someone other than Didi Gregorious. This is similar to how us Mets fans view the Kazmir fiasco: we’re not necessarily mad the Mets traded him- were mad the Mets traded him for Victor Zambrano. It never makes sense to sell a young, talented pitcher for pennies on the dollar. If Gregorious was the best they could have gotten, which I very highly doubt, the smart move would have been to hold on to him until he raised his value.

  6. chacochicken - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    I’m sure far more GMs are saying “what the hell is Kevin Towers doing?” rather than “He sure taught that Bauer kid a lesson by grossly undervaluing a young prospect.” You could tell by the end of the season that Bauer clearly fell in love with his own celebrity much like R.A. Dickey. F’in Pitchers, man.

    • Old Gator - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:13 AM

      Doesn’t much sound like Bauer fell in love with his own celebrity. Sounds more like Bauer fell in love with Bauer.

      But what I don’t get is, why did the Snakes trade away a kid with so much grit?

      • indaburg - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:29 AM

        It wasn’t the right grade of grit. A bit too coarse and abrasive for their liking, I guess.

      • Old Gator - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:30 AM

        Quick afterthought: remember the negative buzz on a certain young outfielder coming up with the Gnats last year? Halfway into his first season, the word on him metamorphosed from snotty little punk to heart-and-soul team guy, media-savvy, role model and onward.

        Let the kid grow up. He damned well might. And anyway, hasn’t that Snakes front orifice been behaving a little…um…eccentric and flying some odd ideological semaphores this past year?

      • Old Gator - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:31 AM

        Indaburg: yeah, my parakeet gets titchy if his cage paper isn’t just right, too. And try, just try, to substitute walrus tusk for whalebone some time.

      • FrustratedDolFan - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:40 AM

        OG I would sure loved to see him south of the Border with the fish and their rebuilding project. Bauer is a disciple of Ron Wolford and the Texas Pitching Ranch who is very well respected.

        Kind of reminds me of when we drafted Beckett. He was a bit of a diva out of H.S. and he turned out all right.

      • Old Gator - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:46 AM

        Cluck cluck cluck BUCK!….urrrrppppp.

    • paperlions - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      Dang, everyone missed the sarcasm….by now you’d figure that everyone would realize that the chicken never posts serious comments.

      • chacochicken - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:17 AM

        I figured the allusion to Dickey would do the trick but, meh.

      • cur68 - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        I could sell you some Irony Font™ if you like. $69.69, and that’s a bargain.

  7. greej1938l - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Part of me wants to believe Montero may be blowing it outta proportion..how are any of us to really know. But again, hes 22 years old if it is true…..hard to be shocked over it.

  8. heyblueyoustink - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Meat.

    • Old Gator - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      Yeah, send me some of that weak ass shit. Bring it. Bring it. Bring it….

  9. snowbirdgothic - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Bauer is, of course, screwed in the court of public opinion here. If he says nothing, then Montero’s narrative sticks. If he responds, then he’s taking on a “well respected veteran” and he’s being disrespectful.

    It’s entirely possible that Bauer was a stubborn 22 year old who wouldn’t listen to authority and needed to get whapped upside the head by reality in order to figure things out. It’s equally possible that the Diamondbacks knowingly drafted a guy who had his own routine and approach, promised to respect that, and then tried to cookie-cutter him into the next Blaine Boyer anyway. All we’ll get is anecdata, and a faint whiff of suspicion fueled by the DBacks’ apparent eagerness to dump every player who doesn’t pass the Kirk Gibson Scrappiness Minimum. What we do know is that the team apparently got back cents on the dollar trading him in terms of raw talent. Whether that’s because the management team is so far gone into the notion of recreating Gibson’s glory days – complete with a Mark Belanger clone at shortstop – or because they really did know something the rest of us didn’t, well, that’s going to have to wait until they start playing games.

  10. Chris Fiorentino - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    “Maybe Terry Francona…can handle Bauer”

    Well, he sure handled the whole “beer and fried chicken in the locker room” mess so competently, so let’s see how he handles this one. Francona had a good run with all that talent with the Red Sox, but when he managed teams with less talent, he sucked. He’s a player’s manager who wore out his welcome in Philadelphia, Boston and will likely be out of Cleveland within 2 years.

    • Old Gator - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      As little affection as I have for the Beanbags, come on Chris, the beer and chicken episode was as obviously stacked against Francona by that bunch of jealous little cockaroaches in the Beanbag front and nether orifices as…as…the Air Force claiming that the the Area 51 flying saucer crash was a weather balloon.

      Or something.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 12, 2013 at 8:59 AM

        OG, Francona was despised by the Phillies players(except his lapdog Schilling which should tell you all you need to know). He treated everyone differently, and on teams that won no more than 77 games, this isn’t a good strategy to have among players. Then he went to Boston, lucked into a situation where the Sox had all this talent, won two World Series, and he turned into this guy who was the greatest player’s manager since sliced bread. And when push came to shove, he didn’t do anything about whatever happened in his locker room when he could have because he treats everyone differently.

        Maybe I will be proven wrong…but I see him being a colossal failure in Cleveland.

      • natslady - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        Just from his year as a “commentator/analyst,” I don’t see what the big deal is with Francona. It’s hard as a fan to know what the real clubhouse atmosphere is, but I sure didn’t see him giving any special insight when he was on TV>

      • natslady - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        Just from his year as a “commentator/analyst,” I don’t see what the big deal is with Francona. It’s hard as a fan to know what the real clubhouse atmosphere is, but I sure didn’t see him giving any special insight when he was on TV.

  11. digbysellers - Feb 12, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Craig Calcaterra is in the best shape of his life.

  12. protius - Feb 12, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Calcaterra, Calabrese much?

    • ltzep75 - Feb 12, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      brilliant in its brevity. Well done.

  13. donkeydrew - Feb 12, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    i guess you “stubbornly ignored” the journalism lesson to not make the story about yourself

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 12, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      If you see me adhering to the things they teach people in journalism school than something has gone very, very wrong with this blog.

      • Glenn - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        Maybe Trevor Bauer can be your “Deion Sanders”.

      • forsch31 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        From an English major with a concentration in journalism….

        1. Never make the story about yourself; you’re the reporter/interviewer.
        2. It’s your byline, so you are always responsible for the accuracy of what you put down on the page. Without credibility, you’re useless.
        3. Learn what libel is, and avoid it.

        Yep, never seen any of that in your writing. Yeah, what a lot of “journalists” do today isn’t what what they taught in journalism school, but honestly, your work here isn’t much different from what they’re doing.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        I’m subject to the same libel laws as everyone else. And my value is only as good as what readers think its, which is obviously about credibility.

        But beyond that, I do what I want. This is a forum for opinion, commentary, humor and whatever the hell else I and the other writers want it to be.

        With all respect, the day I start adhering to the rules which have led the newspaper industry to where it is right now is the day I have failed at what I’m doing.

    • unclemosesgreen - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      Calcaterra – you’re no Canepa. Now THERE’s a journalist.

      I love that so many people try to insult you by saying you’re no journalist, and you simply thank them.

    • veryoldgreendragon - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      It was about himself?
      Craig doesn’t realize we are here for Old Gator and paperlion posts.

      But hey being a baseball writer is better than living in the Extended Stay across the street from the rocket docket.

  14. ltzep75 - Feb 12, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    But when is Eckstein coming out of retirement??

  15. florida76 - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    If there was somehow a way to test the lack of listening and overconfidence among 22 year olds over time, I would be willing to bet the overall percentage is higher now. Technology definitely plays a role as well, and there’s a sense of entitlement which is very troubling. For some, you also have an unwillingness to pay the price individually, or sacrifice for the common good.

    I’ve seen this firsthand in my career field, where people are now complaining about unpaid internships, when the lessens learned during those internships help pave the way for a long, successful career. Top achievers also have the ability to focus on a singular goal, or task, and the shorter attention span of some is a drawback.

  16. cogitobaseballergosum - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    “it’s just tough to commence and try to get on the same page with you …”

    The last time I heard a phrase like that in a baseball interview it was Casey Stengel talking.

  17. unclemosesgreen - Feb 12, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    They should have put him in the “calm down corner” until he agreed to use his “listening ears.”

  18. hushbrother - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    Keith Law was asked about Bauer in one of his chats, and he commented that the DBacks might look at the other 21 year olds in their organization and realize that they’re all pretty immature. I work in a bar near a college and can attest, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my job, it’s that 21 year olds, to an almost universal degree, are pretty friggin’ immature, but there’s usually a tremendous change between the ages of 23 and 25. They go out in the world, stop partying as much, start to think seriously about their careers and their futures, and like Craig, gradually realize they don’t know everything.

    Of course, there are a few who remain kids throughout their adult lives too. Hopefully Bauer isn’t one of those.

  19. Sign Ahead - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    At this point it is absolutely crystal-clear. The team was not happy with Trevor Bauer and Justin Upton. Now please, Diamondbacks, please please pleasePLEASE….put them behind you while I still have a small amount of respect for my favorite team. You’re turning into the baseball version of that annoying semi-friend who can’t stop complaining about his ex-girlfriend.

    Move on. Play baseball. Prove that you’re better off now than you were before the big breakup. At least pretend that you’re capable and confident on your own. This kvetching and finger-pointing just makes you look self-conscious and vindictive.

  20. Carl Hancock - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I’m damn glad it appears the Cardinals were able to get to Shelby Miller. It looked like he was going down the same path. You’d have to be an idiot not to listen to guys like Yadier Molina and Mike Matheny when it comes to pitch calling. Maybe Bauer has learned his lesson. Then again, maybe not. He certainly wouldn’t be the first stubborn prospect to never amount to much due to attitude.

  21. cur68 - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    I’m having a hard time seeing where its Bauer and Upton who are immature. So far they haven’t said a word about their former employers and teammates. And so far their former employers and teammates are trashing them for no very good reason than anyone can detect.

    The jobs these guys signed up for has a name. Its called “Being Good At Baseball”. It is not called “Conforming to a System”. As commenters have pointed out in the Chemistry thread, good team chemistry and “being on the same page” (which are common and oft cited themes in a system) do not equal a winning team. Perhaps someone should point this out to Diamondbacks Management.

  22. Walk - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Everyone knew he had an unusual workout philosophy and he was unwilling to change. H enjoyed success at every stop on his way to the majors. He had no reason to feel he should change. It was obvious if the team wanted him to change he was going to have to fail first then he would be likely open to changing his method. The dbacks drafted him then they traded him too quickly. My opinion is that he should have been given a full season to integrate his system of workouts. Almost every young player that comes up struggles in tthe second season due to conditioning and learning how to handle a long 162 game plus season. Once he realised just what he was in for he would have struggled just like most players and would have likely been asking for help to change his workouts. If he did not struggle then this would have been a moot point. Seems to me the dbacks were the ones who truly failed here. The youngster who could see no reason to change what made him a pro, and instead of working with him his team threw him away. I am betting we have all looked back and wondered at the follies of our own youth and wondered if we were ever so naive, how did i make such a poor decision, i really wish i knew then what i know now, bauer will have that moment one day but arizona, i hope, has it sooner. Tempus fugit.

  23. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 12, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    Holy Crap. The Red Sox need to trade for Montero. The way he smack-talks about players no longer on his own roster (Bauer, Valverde) he would fit right in with the culture in Boston.

  24. wingsrule12 - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    I had a chance to watch Bauer pitch last year in AAA. He is talented but a bit wild. The game I watched him pitch the team scored 11 runs for him. He was wild an inconstant the entire time he was in the game. If Gibby says that he doesn’t listen that is good enough for me.

  25. bux1022 - Feb 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Dbags suck.. Who cares!

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