We have paid so much attention to Justin Upton and his amazing April and awful May, and rightfully so. Upton was the first overall pick and the player that was supposed to be a superstar for the Arizona Diamondbacks. But Upton wasn’t the only player the Diamondbacks shipped out in an effort to build a grit and grind baseball team and create a better clubhouse atmosphere. Before Upton was dealt to Atlanta, his partners in crime on the three amigos were Ryan Roberts and Chris Young.
I had a chance to watch the A’s beat the Giants Wednesday night and saw Young strike out as a pinch hitter. I have to admit I haven’t paid a lot of attention to what Young or Roberts have been doing this year, but decided after watching Young punch out weakly to take a closer look. And man have both guys been just brutal this season.
As bad as Young was with the bat in Arizona — he has a career average of .237 — he would be jumping for joy if he had that average this season. He is hitting a miserable .185 with five home runs and 21 runs batted in for Oakland. He is in the last year of a contract that is paying him $8.5 million. He does have a club option for $11 million next year, but there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that it will be picked up. Instead he will get a $1.5 million buyout. So Oakland, which acquired CY in a three-team trade that saw Arizona get Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington, is paying a whopping $10 million this year for a player who can’t hit the Mendoza Line. While in Arizona, Young was a great defensive center fielder and you lived with his lack of offense because of his defense. But that offense was much better than what he is producing now. His last three years in Arizona his on-base percentage was .341, .331 and .311. This year it’s — drum roll please — .277. OUCH. With that type of production Young might be hard-pressed to even stay in the league next year. No one wants that production from a starter, and how much do teams pay for late inning defensive replacements these days? Maybe a minor league contract with an invitation to a major league camp. Good thing for him Josh Byrnes, the former D-backs GM, paid him. Good thing for Arizona they’re not paying him anymore.
As for Roberts, I have to admit I loved the Tat Man and what he brought to the table. He hit 19 home runs and drove in 65 runs while hitting .249 the year the D-backs went 94-68 and won the Division. He got shipped out last season to Tampa Bay for a minor league second baseman named Tyler Bortnick. This season, Roberts is hitting .234 with three home runs and 11 runs batted in and a disastrous .286 on base percentage. Roberts was a grit and grind player so he may have fit the D-backs’ mold, but his lack of production last season coupled with the organization wanting to break up the dynamic of the three amigos in an effort to get Upton going made him very expendable.
So while all eyes are on Upton, there are other former Diamondbacks who weren’t part of the plan either.