Mark Trumbo trade looks like another admission of a previous mistake

Dec 11, 2013, 11:16 PM | Updated: 11:20 pm

Mark Trumbo the player is not as bad as Mark Trumbo the idea.

Though as a player, Trumbo ain’t too great, either.

The deal the Arizona Diamondbacks made that sent out Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs for Trumbo and a couple players to be named later has been met with much skepticism. While that seems to be a requisite of most things general manager Kevin Towers does these days, the questions of this one are as valid as they are abundant.

But more than the fact that the D-backs just traded for someone who appears to be a poor man’s Mark Reynolds in that he hits a lot of home runs but doesn’t do much else. It’s a stark contrast from the team model we were sold last season, which was about speed, defense and getting on base being more important than the home run.

“With (Adam) Eaton at the top of the lineup and potentially (Gerardo) Parra when he’s in there, I think there’s a speed dynamic that we haven’t had the last couple of years,” Towers said last February. “Hopefully it’s not a ball club that relies on the three-run home run to get back into games or win ballgames.”

So what changed?

The Diamondbacks scored the fifth-most runs in the National League last season while hitting the fourth-fewest home runs. Their on-base percentage of .323 ranked fourth in the NL, and their .259 batting average placed them fifth.

Yet, the D-backs won only 81 games.

Is trading for Trumbo, a player who hit 34 home runs last season but got on base at a sub-.300 clip and is not much of a defender, an admission that the team’s philosophy has changed?

“No, defense is still important. We were I think number one in the National League at it,” Towers told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Wednesday. “Last year I think it was tough to really evaluate our ballclub because of all the injuries that we had.”

Towers added that the team will still win with pitching, but that the offensive potential Trumbo brings was too much to pass up on.

But is it?

Besides the long ball, Trumbo does not appear to bring much to the table. He hit .223 against right-handed pitchers last year and posted an OPS (on base+slugging percentage) of just .685. He batted a meager .218 with an OPS of .693 after the All-Star break, and hit a robust .195 with two home runs and 20 RBI with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Not exactly an offensive dynamo, but wow, can he hit the ball really far.

ESPN MLB insider Keith Law questioned if the D-backs have even seen Trumbo play before, saying his offense will not do enough to make up for what he can’t do defensively. Towers said he believes Trumbo will work hard enough to become an “average” defender, and if that happens and the bat is as good as advertised, this trade may yet work out.

Given that there are no guarantees that Eaton or Skaggs will ever amount to much, we’ll just have to wait and see.

But in a way, this offseason has started to look like Kevin Towers’ chance to make up for the mistake that was last offseason. Was trading for Heath Bell a mistake? Hard to argue it wasn’t. Did parting with Justin Upton prove to be problematic? Well, the D-backs apparently missed his power in their lineup.

Is this a case of Towers and the team learning a lesson, or is it just a ballclub that is not unlike a dog chasing its own tail? After all, the team has only been forced to make this offseason’s moves because of what it did last offseason, and the jury is still out on whether or not the D-backs are better now than they were a year ago. They’re certainly not as good as they were two years ago, when they were coming off an NL West title.

The ability to admit a mistake is a noble quality, but in the business of sports, it’s better to not make one in the first place.

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Mark Trumbo trade looks like another admission of a previous mistake