A couple of years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks curiously traded their #1 draft pick from the previous year (Trevor Bauer) for a package of players that centered on the underwhelming Didi Gregorius. I posted about the Bauer trade when it happened (Dec 2012) and, frankly, laid the blame at the kid’s feet for working his way out of town.
But since then, we’ve had other incidents involving Arizona players on their way out the door. To wit:
- In Jan 2013, the team moved its star Justin Upton for (again) a questionable return (centered on Martin Prado), and the litany of history between the player and the team was documented in the trade recap here via azfamily.com. This Deadspin link also references Ken Rosenthal‘s reporting, which detailed the team’s issues with Upton: he didn’t play with enough “intensity.”
- This past July, the team traded starter Brandon McCarthy to the Yankees for a middling Vidal Nuno. McCarthy’s splits before/after the trade? He was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA before the move, 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA after. And that’s moving to the AL East. The apparent reason? Arizona was actively discouraging him from using his effective cut-fastball.
Why do I bring this up? Because, in the wake of the off-season Wade Miley trade to Boston … guess what? Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported that Miley and the Arizona training staff clashed in the past, and he thinks it led to his out-ster from the team.
Arizona finished 64-98 last season, worst in the majors. Its no wonder they’re so bad right now, given the rate at which they’ve traded young, good, controllable assets for mediocre and expensive ones. They canned their entire coaching staff last off-season (aka, the “King of Grit” Kirk Gibson) and their GM (Kevin Towers) as a result, hiring Tony La Russa as their senior-most baseball executive and then Dave Stewart as their rookie GM. Perhaps the hope is that this new regime will stop openly clashing with its players and will value production on the field versus compliance in the clubhouse.
Of course, Stewart didn’t help his case by plainly stating ignorance of analytics to the press this past off-season. And the new regime’s moves this past off-season didn’t exactly inspire confidence: their major move being the $68.5M signing of Cuban Yasmany Tomas, who apparently can’t actually play 3B and may start in the minors. And its hard to look at any of the slew of trades they made and say “wow, that was a winner move.” You almost have to wonder how they’re going to screw up the #1 pick in the 2015 draft this coming June.
All the better for the rest of the NL West, which features two teams with very clear playoff intentions (LA and SD) along with a third (SF) who has only won three World Series in the last five years.
post-posting update: Arizona has defended its forced uniform changing. Actually they provided an explanation .. it was just someone playing around. Sure.
another post-posting update: Stewart essentially “sold” two players to Atlanta, including their 2014 1st rounder Touki Toussaint so as to rid themselves of Bronson Arroyo‘s deal. When questioned about the deal, Stewart was quoted as doubting Toussant’s velocity readings, saying that “Toussant didn’t throw 96.” And, as noted here, Stewart is right: Tousannt doesn’t throw 96; he throws 98. Toussant was well known to be mid-90s as a 16 year old two years prior to his drafting out of high school. And now Toussant is doing things like this: throwing 6 no-hit innings in low-A for his new team Atlanta. Thanks Dave!
Yet another post-posting update: the organization left $1.7M on the table in the 2015 draft process, a ridiculously large amount of money, enough to buy at least 4 separate 3rd-4th round talents later in the draft. Just an amazing example of incompetence.
And there’s more! Arizona was the sole team in baseball that didn’t make move at the Trade deadline in 2015, despite clearly being out of the NL West and despite having several players approaching free agency who would have made perfect sense to trade. Their main rumored interest was in Aroldis Chapman (a high-priced closer on a rebuilding team?) And, he threw the SD GM under the bus for his trade request … which was apparently mentioned in gest.
8/18/16 posting update: Keith Law absolutely kills the Arizona management with this take-down of the GM and President. And nothing in his article is really debatable. Both the GM and President have pending expiration dates on their contracts … and Law wonders if they’ll renew or start over.