Updated Jul 9, 2012 - 12:51 pm
Trading Upton now makes no sense
I get really frustrated sometimes when I watch Justin Upton play baseball.
Whether it's seeing him struggle with a ball in the corner or when he strikes out with runners in scoring position in key situations, there are varying levels of frustration reached.
Judging from the booing Upton has received in recent games at Chase Field, I'm not alone in this category. Hell, he's been labeled an "enigma" by the guy who signs the checks.
Considering Upton's immense talent, his 2012 season, to this point, has been a head-scratcher. As I write this, Upton is hitting a modest .273 with seven home runs and 36 runs batted in. Five Diamondbacks have homered more often through the season's first half. Four have driven in more runs.
Right now, Upton is tied for 63rd in the National League in home runs and 44th in RBI. On the heels of a very good 2011 campaign during which Upton helped the Diamondbacks win the National League West and finished fourth in the league's MVP voting, this year has been an unmitigated disappointment. There's no denying that.
Reports surfaced over the weekend that the Diamondbacks were (again) thinking of trading the two-time All-Star. Other reports indicated that the interest around the majors was "very high" and that Arizona GM Kevin Towers would consider pulling the trigger on a deal even though the team is only four games out of first place in the NL West at the break.
Upton's first half struggles make little sense. Trading him makes no sense.
Justin Upton is in his sixth big league season. He has played 660 games. He's 24 years of age.
Why would you give up on that when it is still so early in his career, when Upton (as far as we know) likes playing in Arizona, is affordable and has worlds of untapped potential that we've seen glimpses of since he came to the bigs as a 19-year-old in 2007?
To me, it's just not worth it.
What a difference a year makes. Last year at the All-Star break, Diamondbacks fans were defending Upton's honor. The Arizona outfielder wasn't picked by team captain Prince Fielder to represent the National League in the annual home run derby, and Fielder heard about it. The former Brewer was booed heartily throughout the All-Star festivities and his family even had water thrown on them in the name of "fandom" by D-backs supporters during an All-Star parade. Diamondbacks fans were willing to make fools of themselves in defending Upton a year ago.
Now, they're willing to make fools of themselves by booing a player who has played through injury and has endured an average first half of the season.
Maybe this is a motivational ploy by the D-backs' front office. Upton was reportedly shopped in the offseason prior to the 2011 season and responded with an MVP-caliber year.
In his last three games, Upton is hitting .385 (5-for-13) with five runs scored, two doubles, two triples and three runs batted in. Arizona won all three games. Oh, by the way, those numbers coincide with the trade rumors that trickled out into the public late Friday afternoon.
But at least for one weekend, we saw Justin Upton play baseball the way he's capable of over a three-game stretch. Going into the All-Star break, that's exactly what he and this team needed.