Taking a brief break from my baseball book reviews, I’d like to comment on the recent Upton trade to the Braves.
I personally think that this was a great trade for both teams.
The Braves want to return to their success in the 90′s. Upton wants to be a champion.
The Diamondbacks aren’t necessarily concerned with buying a championship team, they just want to contend (not that they don’t want to have another Championship, they just aren’t going to pull a Yankees or Dodgers strategy to get there). Prado will help them contend.
The Braves get an MVP caliber player in All-Star Justin Upton, and the young third baseman Chris Johnson.
The Diamondbacks get All-Star Martin Prado, and 4 other players.
Justin Upton was the face of the Diamondbacks since he came up in the majors back in 2007. He’s proved that he can hit, and that he’s a danger to any catcher/pitcher when he wants to steal with a career total of 80 stolen bases (34 caught stealing). But the past couple of years, something hasn’t felt right, even for me as a fan.
I started watching baseball after a brief hiatus in the 2010 season. While a lot of people may blame A.J. Hinch for the poor year, Upton didn’t strike me as wanting to take the team on his shoulders and lead the way. It was more about him as a player (I remember him not wanting to lose his .300 average that year, and with two outs in the 9th inning, another Dbacks player stole 2nd to purposefully be thrown out and save Upton’s average).
Enter the 2011 season. Here’s Kirk Gibson with a new format to practices and with the drive to succeed. To me, it appeared that Upton bought what Gibson was selling and strove hard to succeed because he wants to be a champion.
Then there was last year. After the All-Star break, Upton no longer seemed to buy Gibson, and seemed to stop caring about the team, and focused more on himself again.
With Upton going to the Braves, I expect that he will be a big influence on their success (or failure) in achieving another shot at the World Series.
And with no real “face” to the Dback’s anymore, I expect that Prado will fill in nicely (hoping they resign him before Free Agency), and help them contend, and be great with Arizona’s fans.
With that, I return to my reading of Stan Musial: An American Life. From a guy who didn’t know much about him other than his name, I’m thoroughly blown away so far.