When Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers publicly stated he is willing to listen to trade offers for any player during the General Managers meetings it sparked off a firestorm among Diamondbacks fans and local sports talk shows.
For the first time team officials have suggested they are willing to listen to offers regarding their young right-fielder Justin Upton. Last season before the trade deadline it was suggested the Diamondbacks identified two players as “untouchable”. Those two were pitcher Ian Kennedy and Upton.
So has there been a change of heart? Towers was careful to say that he was not actively shopping players but rather he would be willing to listen to any and all offers for any player.
The local sports radio personalities couldn’t leave it at that. They blasted the airwaves asking callers to weigh in on what value the team could get by moving Upton. They questioned his abilities and what impact he could have on the game.
Upton detractors took the opportunity to blast the outfielder recalling his high strike-out totals and somewhat lackadaisical play in the field at times. Talk show hosts piled on with comparisons with other young players and how Upton was failing to live up to his potential.
While Upton did take a small step backwards offensively in 2010, the bigger concern is his continual failure to stay healthy. Upton has yet to play a full season without a trip to the disabled list or a long period of inactivity trying to nurse himself back to full strength.
That is obviously a concern for team officials as well. They have asked Upton to remain in the Phoenix area this off-season and work with strength and conditioning coaches to try and build a regime that will hopefully limit his injuries over a 162-game schedule.
Since becoming the youngest player to make his Diamondbacks debut in 2007, Upton has been constantly compared to some of the greats in the game such as Ken Griffey and Alex Rodriguez. Given his skills those comparisons may be warranted but that is a lot of pressure to put on a young man.
Upton will never be able to live up to his potential as it was set too high to begin with when the Diamondbacks made him the number one overall pick in the 2005 draft. Hopefully though Towers comments will act as a wake-up call for Upton.
He needs to realize that you cannot build a career on potential. At some point he will need to have success. Not just nominal success but a breakout season that shows everyone what type of player he can be.
Hopefully that will occur in a Diamondbacks uniform and not like that of Carlos Gonzalez whom the Diamondbacks traded and now have to face in Colorado.
In the meantime don’t look for Upton to be dealt anytime soon. It would need to be a blockbuster trade that returned several major league ready players to pry him away from Arizona and that is likely not going to happen.