The Arizona Diamondbacks' decision to trade Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and a handful of prospects is a curious one. Upton had a relatively disappointing season in 2012 (he still posted 2.5 WAR according to Fangraphs), but he looked like the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr. in 2011, and finished fourth on the MVP ballot that year. Upton is still just 25 years old and loaded with potential, so why were the Diamondbacks so eager to get rid of him? Because they cling to every insufferable cliché imaginable about what it takes to build a winning baseball team, that's why.
I'd like to direct your attention to the following passages from Ken Rosenthal's most recent column, in which he rightly questions the Diamondbacks' reasoning for trading Upton:
"The problem is that he didn't play with a high level of energy," said the former teammate, who spoke on the condition that he would not be identified. "What I think they want is guys who play with the speed, energy and intensity of the Oregon football team - all out, all the time.
"Justin doesn't have that kind of attitude; he has a quiet intensity that doesn't fit the mold of what KT and Gibby seem to want. He plays hard, but has to look suave doing it. Slamming into walls isn't his thing, and they will accept nothing short of all-out sacrifice for the team."
[Diamondbacks GM Kevin] Towers, though, did not dispute the perception that the Diamondbacks were trying to add "grinders," specifically citing Prado and one of the prospects in the deal, shortstop Nick Ahmed, as players who "fit the mold."
"That's the way Gibby played the game," Towers said. "Look at our coaching staff, that's the makeup of our coaching staff as well. That's how we won (the NL West) in 2011. Justin was part of the 2011 club.
"Different clubs like to look for different intangibles in players. We kind of like that grinding, gritty player – hard-nosed. I'm not saying that Justin isn't that type of guy … "
Got it? Justin Upton may be the definition of a five-tool outfielder, but he's not a hard-nosed, all-out, gritty grit-scrapper of a scrap-grinder, so he's obviously not the kind of guy that the Arizona Diamondbacks want on their team. Oh, and he's also too suave. (It doesn't take the Colossus machine to crack that code.) I hope Justin Upton hits 65 home runs this year.