Was Arizona's off-season search for "gritty" players really just a commitment to making more contact?
When you talk about changing a roster for the grittier, as Kevin Towers has rather openly during a bizarre offseason at the helm of the Diamondbacks, you’re going to get accused of using “grit” as a code word. Normally, it’s racial. The fact that the Diamondbacks’ push for grit coincided with the trading of their two prominent black players didn’t help their look.
But what if it was a different kind of code word? What if it did coincide with something quantifiable on the baseball field in how they made over their team?
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It's a lot of fun to talk about Justin Upton being traded, which might be why reporters talk about it so much, and it might be why Kevin Towers talks about it so much.
At this point, it sort of seems as though Justin Upton has always been available, as if he was born on the trading block or at least debuted there before he made the majors. Upton trade rumors are as much an annual offseason ritual as Scott Boras’ binders, debates about Aroldis Chapman’s role, or worries about whether the Marlins are bad for baseball. He hasn’t actually been traded yet, not even once, but we’ve grown used to Upton existing in a perpetual state of about-to-be-dealt.
Difficult as it might be to believe, it’s been less than 2 ½ years since Upton was at the opposite end of the availability spectrum: untouchable. On March 3, 2010, the Diamondbacks signed Upton to a six-year, $51.25 million extension that runs through 2015. Just over three months later, on June 13, Nick Cafardo included this in the notes section of his column for the Boston Globe:
Can rational fans pull for fluky teams, or are we bound to support good process over unpredictability?
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Nick Piecoro is in his sixth season as a beat writer covering the Arizona Diamondbacks for The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. Once an all-glove, no-stick Little Leaguer, he grew up playing APBA games in the suburbs of Phoenix. If he’s not writing or talking or watching baseball, he’s probably listening to or watching or falling asleep to music, movies, or television shows. You can follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.
What do the Dodgers, Giants, and Diamondbacks need heading into the deadline, and where might they find it?
With a little over a month to go until the non-waiver trading deadline, talks between teams are heating up. In a seven-part series appearing over the coming week, several BP authors will be covering the needs, potential fits, and more for the contenders in each division and wrapping up with a look at the top 10 player trade targets. Today, we get things started with a look at the NL West.
While the Giants flounder further from contention, the Diamondbacks continue to rise, largely thanks to their record against losing teams.
Through September 4, Arizona leads the division by seven games with 22 remaining. Although the Diamondbacks have earned their success by playing better than everyone else in the division for an extended period of time—Jay Jaffe has extolled the team's considerable virtues—they also have taken advantage of weaker opponents in a way that the Giants have not.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
Interim manager Kirk Gibson would like a full shot at turning around the Diamondbacks, along with other news and notes from around the major leagues.
Everything is lining up for Kirk Gibson to have the "interim" removed from his title and continue as the Diamondbacks' manager past the end of this season. The Diamondbacks' search for a permanent general manager is down to two, with interim GM Jerry Dipoto and former Padres GM Kevin Towers the finalists and a decision likely to come this week. Dipoto will keep Gibson, who was promoted from bench coach to interim manager on July 1 when A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes were fired, and Towers is expected to do the same if he is hired.