Phillies and Diamondbacks are discussing Justin Upton for Cliff Lee. Money coming to AZ would also be involved.— Pedro Gomez (@pedrogomezESPN) December 4, 2012
Ah, Pedro. You were a sports columnist for the Arizona Republic from 1997-2003, and were a good part of the reason why it was nicknamed the Banana, until the quality of its D-backs coverage improved after your departure. It wasn't an enormous surprise to see this one denied in short order: the last time I saw something get gunned down with such rapid ferocity, was when a scheduling error double-booked PETA and the Ted Nugent Fan Club for the same hotel.
Dbacks source tells me the Upton/Lee stuff "hasn't been discussed" and is "off base."— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 4, 2012
Source insists Diamondbacks aren't actively talking Cliff Lee for Justin Upton. Lots of interest in D-backs' young pitching.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2012
Ruben Amaro with a strong denial of the Lee-Upton report. "I don't comment on rumors but that one is Absolutely and unequivocally false."— High Cheese (@HighCheese) December 4, 2012
#Dbacks Upton trade to Phillies "not going to happen," Gibson said.— Jack Magruder (@JackMagruder) December 4, 2012
It's sad to note the way that baseball news has apparently become much more about being first with a report, rather than being accurate. Now, I've no doubt that Gomez had his reasons for the Tweet: whether he was misinformed by a source, or simply saw the D-backs and Phillies talk and left to the conclusion that Justin Upton and Cliff Lee had to be involved. But what is clear, is that there was little or no attempt to fact-check the rumor with any party on either side of the deal, before rushing off to Twitter. Now, the denials may or may not be true, but they are certainly a very important part of the story. It's not as if Gomez would even have had to go far to find a rep of the teams.
Clefo had a wise comment on the sloppy work at play in the daily thread:
There's a pattern I’ve noticed around this time and around the trade deadline.
- Writer for national outlet reports rumor of big trade.
- Everyone jumps on it.
- All the people who can actually made said trade happen deny it will happen
- The sheeple say “WELL THAT MEANS IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN” in a “we’ve always been at war with Eastasia” sort of way
- Trade never happens, like what was said in step 3.
- National writer is never called out for, essentially, making something up from a fever dream.
It's absolutely the truth. I can't think of another area of journalism where such disregard for facts would be accepted, or such a low degree of accuracy permitted - for it seems that a clear majority of these rumors, often reported (as by Gomes) to be factual, turn out to be inaccurate or simply flat-out wrong. It's important to state that not all writers have such apparently low standards. But the ones that rely on a shotgun approach to news gathering, hoping that people remember the hits and forget the misses, do a dis-service to those who only report information which has been verified as having at least some grounding in fact.
The worst thing is, there's no accountability, with a cast-iron defense when - as usually happens - the report fails to materialize: "Well, I guess the discussions didn't pan out." And the writer gets away to generate his next unfounded rumor. Of course, I'll probably wake up tomorrow morning to find Cliff Lee a Diamondback. But let's cover the rest of the day's reports, starting with this, which should probably go down as an example of how these things should be reported:
Dbacks GM Kevin Towers was spotted last night with Rays GM Andrew Friedman. Dbacks looking for a starter; Rays might move one.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 4, 2012
There. This reports the facts without embellishment, then points out where the two sides might have a common interest, without claiming anything more. Sure, it might not get as many frantically panicked retweets as Pedro's game of winter meeting rumor Kachinko - but as someone who is uninterested in random speculation, it's a damn sight more appreciated. What might they have be talking about? Well, the signing of Hinske crosses a backup 1B off the list, and leaves a proven starter as the main thing left, though whether that happens this week, or in the rest of the off-season, remains to be seen.
It does seem quite possible that a backup catcher will be acquired this week, with a few names being floated by one writer or another. Steve Gilbert suggested an interesting name in Rod Barajas. He started 98 games for the Pirates last year, but earned a good chunk of change ($4 million), and failed to deliver, putting up a -1.0 bWAR for them. If he can had for a lot less money, and is now prepared to take a backup role, it would be someone I'd not be averse to seeing. Of course, it would be his second stint with the Diamondbacks, having played for Arizona from 1999 through 2003.
The chatter surrounding Jason Kubel seemed to pick up today, with CBSSports.com reporting, "The D-Backs are looking to deal Kubel. Some even expect a trade to be completed Tuesday." It doesn't look like the latter will come true, but semi-confirmation of this comes from an interesting source. Remember Ken Rosenthal citing a source last month that there was an 80% chance Upton would be playing elsewhere next year? Seems like that particular tune has now changed:
Source: Chances of #Diamondbacks trading Kubel better than chances of them trading Upton.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2012
Obviously, trading Kubel almost certainly ends any discussion of Upton being dealt for this season, for as Clefo pointed out, dealing them both means "you’re one injury away from ERIC HINSKE: STARTING LEFT FIELDER” - a prospect too horrific to contemplate. Jon Morosi floated the idea of a Kubel trade earlier today, stating "It’s possible that Kubel will draw interest from a larger number of teams than Upton, because his contract is smaller and asking price likely lower," and also noting that Kubel is coming off a better offensive season than Upton. The Red Sox and Mariners have been mentioned, though as Nick P says, "They're interested in nearly every hitter with a pulse."
Worth reiterating KT's comments today:
“We’re trying to make our club better. The only way we’ve discussed Justin or Kubel is really addressing another area of need. If it’s a front of the rotation starter, a shortstop. If we’re going to do something, it’ll be a deal where our club is going to be better. We’re not looking to add prospects to our system. We’re not rebuilding. Any deal that we do is really with a focus on the 2013 club being better.”
And so, day two closes without much to report. Will Day 3 be any more active? There's only one way to find out, and we'll be back at 7am tomorrow with the third day's thread...