Posted Under: Johanna's View
While Bob Nightengale has a great piece about all the discord in the Upton-Diamondbacks relationship recently, it sounds as if the discord came mostly after the trade talk began to heat up during the season last year. The truth, as you can read in this Paola Boivin piece, is that the team is risking a lot by trading him as well. He was the Diamondbacks most popular player. He was the guy everyone came to see. But it is very tough for a team to compete, for a team to grow and build on its past, if it has one player that is garnering all the attention.
Ask the Texas Rangers.
While Justin Upton is no Alex Rodriguez, having one player be the center of all marketing, having expectations for that player to be perfect each game is unrealistic and unfair. It’s unfair to that player, but it is also unfair to all the other members of the team. And if that player’s character- and by that I mean style of play- doesn’t work with the other players around him, well, there isn’t going to be much success. Of course, once the trade talks had become public, and once any acrimony had set in, the team had no choice but to follow through on the plan to trade him. If the Diamondbacks didn’t get back quite what they wanted, or perhaps what they needed or even deserved, they still had to make that trade. To wait any longer would only hurt their current team and mess with the plans the organization has. Are the D’backs ready to win their division? Perhaps not. But remember, there are now two wild-cards which could go to anyone who is competitive. And with Kirk Gibson as manager, and a core of gritty guys who all have the same amount of name recognition, this team could pull off some unexpected wins this season. While team chemistry can’t be measured (yet) it does play a factor.
As for the Braves, they just got better. Their outfield is now 2 Uptons and Jason Heyward. Now those are some legs that can cover some territory. And while both Upton’s have been accused of being distracted or disinterested at times, the Braves are taking an educated risk that having both Upton’s will reduce the stress of each, and will make both better. The Braves infield may have gotten a little weaker with the trade of Martin Prado, but the Braves will find pieces to compensate. They also have pitching. Look for them to be a force in the NL East this year.
The swap of players may not be truly even in this deal, but the outcomes could be. The Diamondbacks will have to head into contention for several years for this to really show that it was a good idea. Thinking they will win a World Series this year might be overly optimistic. Thinking they will win more than they did last year may not.