Results tagged ‘ Justin Upton ’

Upton trade and sibling rivalry

Atlanta acquired Justin Upton to play along side his brother, B.J., in their outfield. I think this is a great deal for the Braves. I believe that the thing holding Justin back from being as good as he can be is the fact that all the pressure had been heaped on him in Arizona.

There are some players who can handle that pressure and perform up to expectations, but also there are guys who feel that pressure and expectation and it can make them try to do more than they are capable of doing. I truly believe that Justin falls into this category. His talent is off the charts. But you have to believe that your talent is enough and trust in what you can do. I know personally from the point of an observer, that just watching his reaction to a strikeout or a missed play in the outfield that he wasn’t feeling that he had a bad at-bat or took a bad route. He was feeling that he let his whole team down. That is a lot to shoulder as a kid under 25 years old.

Going to the Braves to play next to his older brother is going let this kid’s true ability shine through. First of all, he is not going to be “the guy” in that Braves lineup. He is going to be one of the guys. The Braves had to part with Martin Prado, who I feel is one of the best “baseball players” in the game today — meaning he can put on any glove and have success. But in the the Braves also got Chris Johnson, who I feel will be the everyday third baseman and hit for more power than Prado. Now that Chipper Jones has retired, this team is now Brian McCann‘s. He is the perfect guy to take over the leadership role for the Braves. He is a steady, level-headed guy who plays the toughest position on the field.

What this means for Justin Upton is that he can put on his uniform and go play the game. From everything I have heard, he and his brother have a great relationship. I can speak from experience when it comes to playing with your brother — not at the big league level, but in high school. My older brother signed with the Brewers the year before I signed with the Padres. My only goal was to outperform my older brother, his was to make sure his little brother didn’t show him up! This deal could mean that we will finally see what the Uptons are truly capable of doing. There is nothing stronger than sibling rivalry to bring out the best in someone. I still feel the Nats are the best team in the NL East, but this deal definitely puts pressure on them to play in 2013 as well or better than they did in 2012. I am not counting out the Phillies, but their big three starting pitchers are going to have to all win 15 or more games apiece if they hope to contend.

Rangers have some work to do

Colby Lewis

As we sit here during the holidays, there are some teams that are in desperate need of still trying to fill some big gaps that have been created by free agency. Of this group of teams, I believe the Rangers are the one that has the most to replace.

In 2012, the Rangers had, in my opinion, the most dangerous lineup top to bottom in either league. They also had some very strong arms in their rotation. But as we sit here today, let’s look at what they have lost.

First and foremost, Josh Hamilton. How are they going to replace 43 home runs and 128 RBI? Then they lost Mike Napoli, Micheal Young, Mike Adams, and Ryan Dempster. Even with those five guys they were run down from behind by the A’s and knocked out of the playoffs in the Wild Card game by the Orioles. This has to have people in Arlington wondering if Ranger baseball is going to return to what it had been prior to  the past five successful years.

There have been many rumors flying around about Texas trading Elvis Andrus to Arizona for Justin Upton. I’m sorry, but that for me is a no brainer! Andrus will be a free agent in two years and his agent is Scott Boras, which means he will not sign an extension with the Rangers. He will be a free agent. As Scott Boras is the only agent that has clients who forget he works for them and not the other way around, Upton would help replace the power numbers that Hamilton provided. The Rangers could bring super prospect Jurickson Profar to the big leagues and make him the everyday shortstop.

That still leaves them with some power issues in their lineup that need to be addressed. I think they need to make a move for a center fielder. Maybe Michael Bourn, who is also represented by Boras. But they could hit him leadoff and move Ian Kinsler to the three hole.

The other problem I see in Texas is the pitching coach. I like Mike Maddux very much. But he has to realize that not every pitcher can be a sinkerball pitcher. His brother, Greg, was probably the best ever. But when they have the ability to throw 97 mph, you can’t ask these pitchers to be sinkerballers. First of all, the two-seam fastball is harder to command than a four-seamer. Also, it is meant for the ball to be put in play, and balls put in play can find holes. There is a time and place to try and get a ground ball. But you can’t take a kid with the ability to throw 97 and ask him to throw 91-92 with less command.

They have an owner in Nolan Ryan who had a “big gun” and he shot it. If you have a pitcher with the ability to blow guys away and have better command, you have to let him be who he is. For the pitchers who command a two-seam fastball, it is a great way to attack a lineup. But for the guys who can’t command it, it is a way to practice backing up third base a lot.

I played 11 years in the big leagues and never threw a single two-seam fastball. I had a hard enough time commanding a four-seam fastball. I know pitch counts are all the rage, but I was always of the belief that if, at the end of the at-bat, the hitter was out. I had done my job. No matter how many pitches it took!

So of all the teams that still have work left to do this winter, I believe the Rangers have the most.

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