I don’t usually like to talk about things we can’t measure. With that said, I have some major bones to pick with the Diamondbacks franchise, specifically the front office and its inability to keep things under wraps. Let me explain.
There seems to be a total lack of secrecy when it comes to Kevin Towers and company. While Arizona is hardly a large market full of media coverage, the front office seems to have no trouble finding outlets for their comments. I can understand how things get leaked in places like New York given the media frenzy ready to feast upon the Yankees, Mets and other sports teams. In Phoenix, however, the media doesn’t have to attack the Diamondbacks’ brass to get memorable and damaging quotes. In fact, just hang around long enough and one’s sure to hear things that should probably be kept under wraps.
For example, back when Justin Upton was still a Diamondback, there were plenty of leaks that things weren’t going well between him, the front office, his manager and/or his teammates. Although most athletes and coaches would say that these things are best handled in-house, Ken Kendrick, the team’s Vice President, decided to take to the airwaves to voice his frustrations. Essentially, he called out Upton for not performing, although he was injured, and added a little bonus piece suggesting that Stephen Drew was milking his injury to avoid having to play.
At this point, it was clear that Upton’s tenure in Arizona was going to be short-lived. The team made an attempt to deal him before the trade deadline, then waited until the offseason to make their move. Kevin Towers was explicit in his comments that Justin would be traded to the highest bidder and although the Mariners made a hell of an offer, they team decided to flip Upton and Chris Johnson for Martin Prado, Randal Delgado and some prospects.
Similarly, the organization had a nearly-immediate change of heart with their 2011 first-round draft pick, Trevor Bauer. The kid was supposed to lead a resurgence of the Arizona pitching staff but quickly fell out of favor with the Diamondbacks for reportedly being difficult to work with. Bauer’s unique and unorthodox delivery and pre-game routines were well-known prior to the draft, so it’s unclear why the organization ended up having such a problem with them once he got to pro baseball. It was relatively common knowledge that the team was dissatisfied with the former third overall pick prior to dealing him to Cincinnati as part of a three-team deal with the Indians. Everyone knew that the team was trying to move him before Towers eventually worked out the deal in December of 2012, roughly 18 months after drafting Bauer.
Earlier this month, Towers was interviewed and shed some light on his offseason plans. In short, he’s searching for a power bat to slot in one of the outfield corners. He wasn’t vague about this, in fact you can read about it yourself. Towers isn’t looking to sign a free agent as he prefers to trade for this missing piece and he even goes on to suggest that he would include one of his center fielders, presumably Pollock or Eaton, to make this deal work. The guy couldn’t be any more specific without naming the actual player he wants to trade for if he tried.
The front office seems to have a way of airing its dirty laundry in public, at least when it comes to personnel decisions, and high-profile ones specifically. It’s all very entertaining, but I have one concern: how much impact do these comments have on the Diamondbacks’ ability to make quality transactions?
I wish I could measure this effect, but that’s impossible given the data available. It makes sense, though, that by making these comments, the Diamondbacks’ front office may be limiting its potential return. If other teams know that you want to trade a commodity and are desperate to do so, they will likely be less inclined to make the strongest offer possible to complete the deal. For example, as the winter wore on, everyone knew that Arizona was desperate to move Upton and although the team had multiple deals to choose from, perhaps they could have gotten more by working in a more covert way and fabricating a more potent market for Upton’s services. The same could be said for Bauer; when teams knew that the Diamondbacks were desperate to move him, they understood that they wouldn’t have to put together any kind of crazy package to acquire him. In essence, they’ve limited their own bargaining power by making these comments.
When Towers spoke earlier this month about acquiring an corner outfield power bat, he essentially let the other 29 teams know what he’s after and part of what he’s willing to give up to make this acquisition. There’s no longer any element of surprise and teams can now take the initiative to start game-planning for a potential deal with Arizona. Towers isn’t going to be able to sneak up on anyone and pull off a great deal since the rest of the league was given a nice head start on his desires. Oh, and now AJ Pollock and Adam Eaton know that the organization is considering trading them, which I’m sure doesn’t exactly sit well with these guys.
I simply don’t understand the reason for making these comments. There’s no way they can be helpful for the organization. The front office can make phone calls to other franchises and their executives behind closed doors to achieve the same effect without the detriments of telling everyone at once, including your players and fans.
Hopefully the front office will learn to handle it’s business like professionals. They need to keep these things under wraps from the public and take care of them in-house. By doing this, they’ll look more like a functional front office and they’ll increase their bargaining power, even if only by a little.
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