Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mysterious Snakes

Diamondbacks fans are furious. They say Kevin Towers is ruining their team.

Snakes fans can't believe the Gunslinger has traded Trevor Bauer, the No. 3 pick in of 2011 draft, for a Triple-A shortstop who swings a glass bat. If Snakes fans are correct about the trade, the Padres stand to benefit from Towers' moment of delirium in the desert.

 Frankly, I don't know what to make of the trade, but having written about Bauer while he was at UCLA and when he was rising up Arizona's farm system, I'm curious to see how his career develops. There's no doubting Bauer's repertoire is that of frontline starter. Typically, teams embrace such a prospect.

Towers told reporters the trade had nothing to do with Bauer's quirky pregame throwing routine or his reported disagreements about pitch selection with Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero. It's simple, the GM said. The Diamondbacks sought Didi Gregorius, the Reds shortstop prospect, and getting him meant dealing Bauer as part of a three-team trade that also involved the Indians. Cincinnati already had a starting shortstop in  Zack Cozart. Arizona's expectation is that Gregorius will provide defense that ranges from good to excellent. In time, it's hoped that he'll become a decent hitter.

For what it's worth, young Brandon Crawford, another deft fielder whose lefty bat was thought lacking, helped the Giants win a World Series as their regular shortstop this year.

Bauer is said to have some growing up to do, so I asked scouts about the bright 21-year-old, who studied engineering at UCLA.

 Is Bauer a candidate to wind up on a police blotter? No.

 Has he fallen in love with Lindsay Lohan? Not that my sources knew of.

 Is he lazy? No. In fact, it's said that he may overly prepare both his body and mind.

Here's what I gleaned from scouts about Bauer's intangibles:
 * Bauer is very competitive. Sometimes, he blames others when he'd be better off looking at his own role in a bad result. Example: veteran teammates thought he showed up Diamondbacks Triple-A manager Brett Butler last September when Butler removed him from the Triple-A championship game.
  
* Bauer can come off as too devoted to his famous long-toss throwing regimen, in which he throws from foul pole to foul pole. Example: when the Diamondbacks were in muggy Atlanta and Cincinnati, they wanted Bauer to scale back his long-tossing so that he'd have enough energy during the game. Bauer apparently disagreed, and appeared gassed when he pitched in those cities.

* The Diamondbacks thought he defied their pitching gameplan in some outings.

I'd file all of the above under, "Live and Learn." It's hard to believe those incidents led the  Diamondbacks to trade Bauer. It'll be interesting to see if Bauer performs as well as Jarrod Parker did for the A's last season. Parker was another pitching prospect traded by the Gunslinger, as Snakes fans were quick to point out after learning of the Bauer trade.

Scouts say Bauer's arm is tremendous. Nitpicking, some evaluators wish the righty were more athletic, which would allow him to have better body control. Some question his ability to get major league hitters to chase pitches out of the strikezone, a key to his dominance at UCLA.

I wish the best for  Bauer, who is one of the more interesting propects of recent years.

For Gregorius, the challenges will include the infield surface at Arizona's ballpark. Shortstops say it's one of trickier surfaces because it's quicker than most and can be less true than, say, Petco Park. Scouts say Gregorius has the tools to become an above-average defender, regardless the venue.

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