The minute the words left general manager Kevin Towers lips — the Arizona Diamondbacks need to add a power-hitting outfielder next year — the second-guessers of the Justin Upton deal shifted into high gear.
“Well Kevin, you had a young, dynamic, power-hitting outfielder and you traded him for a collection of used parts.”
When you look at what little power that Martin Prado, Miguel Montero and Jason Kubel provided this season, Justin Upton’s 24 home runs would, at first glance, seem to translate that into the missing cog in the sputtering Arizona offense.
But you know what? The D-Backs need better than Justin Upton.
Upton has 64 RBI this year — which means he’s driven in just 40 teammates all year. That’s fewer RBI than last year (67), when Arizona decided enough was enough, and nine less than Prado’s career-high 73 RBIs. Prado had more extra-base hits, a third of the strikeouts and his batting average is 25 points higher.
Upton has 148 strikeouts and his career high of 152 in 2010 is about to go by the boards. He has only seven stolen bases, less than half his average over the last four years. He won’t get 150 hits, won’t score 100 runs. And then there are all the pouting and clubhouse issues to consider.
Bottom line: Arizona is at least one bat short offensively. But at least so far, the pining for Upton is unwarranted.
Levi Brown to block?
Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson had three touchdowns on the first weekend of 2013 and almost won a game by himself. Levi Brown gave up three sacks to Robert Quinn in St. Louis and all but lost a game for Arizona.
Yes, the worst draft decision in Cardinals history — and there are plenty to choose from — continues to haunt the Big Red.
Full disclosure: I was a Levi booster that fateful day in 2007. Brown’s play ever since has been bad enough, but passing on a guy who could set the all-time rushing record before he’s done? Gawd.
While I understand (a) left tackles don’t grow on trees and (b) Bruce Arians had only had a few months of the “The Levi Experience,” and, of course, thinks the glaring problems are fixable, it really is time to admit mistakes, cut ties and move forward. I do think losing Jonathan Cooper on the left side hasn’t helped matters, but if you’re constantly looking for ways to hide or help a player in the NFL, he’s going to be exposed time and again.
Brown is matched against Detroit rookie Willie Young this week. He’s no Quinn. But if Young has himself a day, the Cardinals have to act.
The Howl Can Be Heard
The announcement didn’t make a big splash on Thursday, but word that the Phoenix Coyotes are moving to KTAR/KMVP (620 AM/860 AM/92.3 FM) radio for the upcoming season is proof new owners George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc understand how invisible hockey was in the past.
The Coyotes have bounced around the radio dial — from KDKB on the FM side to several AM dial spots — but the most recent deal with XTRA (910) was the worst from an exposure standpoint. The talk show hosts all but ignored hockey and the Coyotes were often bumped off the channel for things like the Women’s Final Four and NASCAR.
Now, even with more than half of their games relegated to KMVP (860 AM), the Coyotes join the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Suns and Arizona State on KTAR, which demands coverage from their radio hosts, and will include weekly shows featuring Gosbee and LeBlanc, GM Don Maloney, coach Dave Tippett and captain Shane Doan. XTRA has hitched its star to the University of Arizona, which continues to press ASU for exposure in the Valley.
A new radio home coupled with a slick and pricy media blitz announces there is a new player in town. But the Coyotes have to win and get back to the playoffs to make sure all this splash pays off.
To make real noise in this market, you have to win. A run to the Western Conference finals two years ago was slow to gain momentum and stopped dead in its tracks by the lockout last fall.
Now the team is correctly positioned to benefit from a similar run. Can the team deliver?
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.