Questions and Answers on Upton, other roster moves

Boy, you go on vacation for a week and when you get back you find the team you’re covering is talking about trading its franchise player. Seriously, though, I returned from a week away to find my in box overflowing with questions about the Justin Upton trade rumors as well as a couple of the moves the D-backs did make. Here’s a look at some of the more frequently asked questions:

How serious are the D-backs about trading Upton?

The D-backs are serious about listening to offers for Upton, but from what I understand they would have to be overwhelmed to make a deal. I don’t think it is to the point of say the Dan Haren trade talks of July where the team came to a decision that it was going to deal Haren and then went about finding what it felt like was the best deal out there. In this case, they are listening, but do not feel any pressure whatsoever to deal Upton and therefore would be more than happy to hang onto him if they are not knocked off their feet with an offer.

Why even discuss trading Upton?

If you didn’t realize it before, GM Kevin Towers has no fear when it comes to making moves. What, you thought they called him “The Gunslinger” because he liked Westerns? There may be some GMs who feel they have players who are “untouchable”. Towers feels like anyone on his roster is available — for a price. In the case of Upton, or shortstop Stephen Drew, that price is going to be extremely high. With that in mind, why not at least explore and see what is out there? Worst case you don’t get overwhelmed, you keep Upton and you move on.

Do the D-backs have less of an opinion of Upton than the rest of baseball does? Is that why they are considering trading him?

I’ve seen speculation that the D-backs may have questions about Upton’s makeup and I don’t believe that is the case. To me, the fact that they think they can go through these trade talks, hang onto him and not have it be a lingering issue speaks to the level of maturity they feel Upton has. I think what sometimes gets lost about Upton is that after three-plus years in the big leagues, he is still just 23 years old. He is an incredibly gifted athlete, who gets along with his teammates and has a tremendous desire to be great and he gets very angry when he doesn’t live up to his own expectations, which believe it or not are greater than even what others expect. Eventually he will learn to channel that anger better, but as it is now it’s not a problem or flaw because it is anger directed inward and not outward at his teammates or coaches.

What are their plans for Juan Miranda?

The D-backs acquired the first baseman from the Yankees last week in exchange for Minor League pitcher Scott Allen. From what I understand, he’s got excellent power and a good idea of how to execute an at-bat — in other words, pitch recognition, working the count etc. He’s someone that had been on the previous regime’s radar and is a player that Towers liked when he saw him while working as a consultant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman this past season. Miranda, who is out of Minor League options, will compete with Brandon Allen for playing time at first base this spring. A left-handed hitter, he may be more effective as a platoon player, but worst case he could be an effective player coming off the bench. The D-backs have talked for the last few years about having more competition for roster spots and Miranda pushes Allen and in turn that also pushes outfielder Gerardo Parra because Allen is a candidate to see playing time in left field as well. It would not surprise me to see the team still add a right-handed hitter that can play first base against lefties.

Who is Juan Jaime?

The D-backs claimed Jaime off waivers from the Nationals. A right-handed pitcher, Jaime missed the 2010 season after having Tommy John surgery in April. Prior to the injury the D-backs’ reports had him throwing 97-100 mph with a plus slider to go with it. Those kinds of arms are not easy to find so for the $20,000 waiver price the D-backs decided to invest a roster spot in him as he completes his rehab. He is expected to be back by midseason in 2011 and has two Minor League options left. Basically they are taking a flier on him and see what happens. They project him as a back end of the bullpen type pitcher when healthy. Again, this is the way Towers has gone about building bullpens over his career. He looks anywhere and everywhere to find them. Some of them will pan out, others won’t. It will be interesting to see what happens with Jaime.

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