‘Tis the season for MLB teams to field not only grounders, but questions. For the D-backs, some of the most pressing questions during Spring Training include: pitching rotation, starting shortstop, bullpen pecking order, Adam Eaton's readiness, and perhaps whether the "Up-town" signage will appear on Craigslist?
Speaking of the guy we dubbed Justin "Upside," we'd like to add another question: why does the "D" in D-back seldom stand for -- Develop?
At least, here in the A-Z, that is. Jarrod Parker? Sure. He developed. He's a perfect example of a former first round pick who flourished just fine -- for the Oakland A's last season.
Carlos Gonzalez? Once upon a time, the now two-time All-Star, 2010 batting champ and Gold Glove winner was D-backs' property. Alas, he's still in the division -- with the Colorado Rockies.
Carlos Quentin. Stephen Drew. And yet again, the D-backs have traded away a pair of former first round picks in Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer.
Should we rewind back to draft day and recall how the Snakes waxed euphoric about the skills, talent, tools, athleticism, mental makeup, intangibles, pedigree, DNA, hygiene…etc., etc.?
Nah. Because, here in 2013, all those attributes are no longer wearing Sedona Red. So instead, here's the question we are wondering about: why is that, exactly? Paulie Pattern looks at the raw data of prospect after prospect, year after year, and a thought bubble pops up with the Vince Lombardi sideline quote: "What the heck is going on out here?!"
Should we diagnose our local baseball team as the A.D.D.-backs? Do they lose focus and attention with their own roster?
And, let's be clear, just like D-backs fans who were booing last summer, we were just as frustrated that Justin Up-side had regressed to just that -- more potential than production. #Ding.
We get it. But we also wonder -- whose fault is that? Chicken or the egg? Did the player fail to develop for the club? Or did the club fail to develop the player? I mean, how many prospects can we name in the past decade with more pure baseball gifts in the past decade than J-Upside?
In baseball, if a player's "prime" is typically defined as 27-32 years of age, the D-backs just pulled the rip cord two years early. Again.
Then, you know what else we get? Nauseous. Sick to our stomach at the thought that Upton might grow up to be the next Carlos Gonzalez. Or even better, which would make it worse.
When you hit the "zoom out" button, here's where the D-backs have gone wrong: too quick to elevate and too quick to detonate.
This takes us back to the erstwhile "Uptown" signage in right field.
"Yeah probably wouldn't have done it and it's because we put so much pressure on that kid at a time when we probably shouldn't have," CEO Derrick Hall reflected on Arizona Sports 620. "He could have made comments the last couple of years and he never did and I credit him for that. But that's a lot of pressure to put on someone."
Here on this Valentine's Day, we wonder - shouldn't the D-backs show more love for their own?