What is the Real Reason Why Justin Upton was Traded?

I received the news about The Trade on Thursday at noon EST.  My buddy Mike came over to me and asked how much I liked the fact that Justin Upton was just traded to the Atlanta BravesMy reaction then is the same as it is now, four days later:  it stinks.

First of all, anytime that a star player is traded in one of these transactions, the team dealing the star never gets equal value.  Exhibit A is Miguel Cabrera going from the Florida Marlins to the Detroit Tigers.  None of the players the Marlins received did much of anything and by 2012, all were in different organizations. I am not saying the Arizona Diamondbacks will suffer the same fate as the Fish, as Upton did bring versatile Martin Prado to Phoenix to play third base.   However, in all likelihood, the D’backs received the short end of the stick on this trade.   Now that Upton is finally traded, there is still one lingering question for me before we move to the 2013 season.  What is the real reason why Justin Upton was dealt?

The conventional wisdom is that Upton was not the type of player that General Manager Kevin Towers and Manager Kirk Gibson wanted in Arizona.  If that is true, I can’t figure out why.  Is it because Upton doesn’t beat up water coolers after a tough day at the plate?   I find it laughable that fans, media and organizations perceive players as not caring if they don’t show any kind of outward emotion when things get tough.  There is exactly one image of Joe DiMaggio showing emotion on a ball field.  That was when Al Gionfriddo robbed him of a home run during the 1947 World Series; DiMaggio kicked the dirt as he headed toward second base.  Does anyone believe Joe D didn’t care about winning or about his performance on the field?   Not everyone is fiery like Gibson or calm like Upton.  Whatever works for the player should work for the team and last I checked Upton’s approach worked out well for all.

We need a real explanation as to why Justin Upton was traded. Image: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

There is also this perception that Upton doesn’t play a certain way, that a guy like Prado shows more “grit” and “fits in better”.  This is more nonsense.  If Upton didn’t care about his team or wasn’t “gritty”, he could have easily gone on the disabled list when he injured his thumb in April.  Instead, he played through it and finished with 107 runs scored, second in the National League.  For those that are down on him about last season, they should try doing everyday tasks with an injured thumb, let alone swing a bat at Major League pitching.  Now we have people like Luis Gonzalez popping off about Upton’s supposed lack of leadership.  All of this implies that J-Up has some character issues.  Well, it is the folks that are surrounding the organization that are lobbing these grenades and Upton is the one staying silent.  Tell me again who are the people with character issues?

We may never know why the organization felt the need to trade its best player.  Both parties, for the most part, are saying the right things.  I would like to get an explanation from Upton as to why he thought the team was so anxious to get rid of him.

I also think that Towers is a very good GM despite this move.  However, this was a big mistake on his part.  From his perspective, maybe he thought there were maturity issues.  Perhaps he forgets the player is 25-years-old and plenty of time to “grow up” if that indeed was the problem.  This will be one deal that is going to haunt the team for years and from my vantage point,was a totally unnecessary move.

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Topics: Arizona Diamondbacks, Justin Upton

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.jenkins.1485537 Mike Jenkins

    Tom,

    Couple of things. I agree with you that we do not know the whole story with Upton. It could be that he simply was not the type of player KT wanted moving forward (strikes out too much, complains when he doesn’t play, drives the organization crazy with his consistent defensive lapses, didn’t run out routine ground balls and pop ups, etc.). But, I don’t think that is the whole story. There has to be something else here that we don’t know and might never know.

    Here is what I saw with Upton from my perspective, which was watching him essentially every night for the past four seasons. While he was a five-tool player that was saddled with potential, he didn’t fulfill it with the exception of one season. Give me the excuse that he played hurt and I will give you the response that if he was as hurt as he claims he was with his thumb, he should of sat out and got it healthy. Playing hurt doesn’t do anyone any good if you are not effective and last season was poor by the team’s standards when it came to Upton’s performance.

    His hustle was questionable. He did not run out ground balls and pop ups. He constantly took bad angles going after balls in the outfield and then didn’t sprint after it all the time. He overthrew cut-off men on a consistent basis giving up extra bases to the defense. He struck out 120+ times a season, too much for a 3 hitter. He was known as a recluse to most of his teammates with the exception of Chris Young and when he got dealt, he became even more isolated. He wasn’t happy with Gibson or Towers due to his being shopped and when it got to a point that it wasn’t reconcilable, he had to go.

    I could keep going, but I won’t. KT decided to go a different way and hopefully Prado (who by many accounts is a great character guy and one hell of a ballplayer) can go out there and play his game and not try to fill Upton’s shoes.

    I don’t like guys who kick water coolers and punch drinking fountains, but a little emotion at times is not a bad thing to show. He always looked miserable and hopefully the trade to Atlanta will make him a happier person.