Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver were introduced to the press via conference call the evening of the trade. Here is a recap of that event followed by personal observations. First up, was Carson Kelly.
What was your reaction to the news that the trade had happened?
I’m a bundle of emotions. It was bittersweet in the end because of the emotions built up with the Cardinals. They were the team that drafted him and also the team that drafted his brother as well. On the other hand, he is excited because now it means he is finally going to get his chance to show what he can do and he’ll be doing it for an organization that he grew up with watching play.
How does he feel about the fact that the Diamondbacks are quickly developing a reputation for strong catcher defense?
Kelly stated he was excited to get to Arizona and pick the brains of the coaches to see what he can learn and contribute. He’s spent the last few seasons learning from a “pretty good guy” in Yadier Molina and working for Mike Matheny. Those two obviously taught him a great deal. Now it’s about gathering as much information as possible and taking it to heart.
What did you learn from backing up Molina?
“It was a unique experience because he got to watch Molina go about his work on a day-to-day basis. Being able to see how Molina goes about his business, how he prepares for games, and even how he prepares for and approaches spring training (the two went to five spring trainings together). I got to see first-hand the work ethic that goes into and what it takes to be a Gold Glove winning catcher and leader of a team. A lot of stuff has been written down. I’ve written a lot of stuff down. I like to write stuff down. So, taking a lot of information in and applied that to my game and now I feel that I’ve got my opportunity to go out there and perform and show what I’ve got.”
Was it difficult to wait for your shot to play?
“It was a tough situation for sure. It was more the mental side than the physical side. I thought I was ready to play but, getting those opportunities and not knowing when you might get another one, it weighed heavily on me. I think that is part of the reason I haven’t had a ton of success at the big league level yet is because of that. Every time I’ve gone back down to AAA, I’ve always made it a goal to get in a groove and a rhythm. I understand it is completely different leagues but, getting those opportunities to fail, to succeed, to get kind of everything and to get those consistent at-bats and playing time is crucial for me. I’ve shown that over the last couple years that when I go back down to AAA and play, I can put up those numbers.”
Being a converted catcher, what enabled him to make the shift and when did he last catch?
“I think the last time I caught was probably in eighth grade.”
Growing up he worked with his dad at every position. He had seven or eight gloves in his bag, one for every position. Dad was a catcher in college, so it sort of runs in the family. He really enjoys the leadership responsibility of catching. Cardinals left the decision up to him whether or not to catch and he chose to do it because it was a good opportunity at the time and it has allowed him to thrive.
Impressions of Luke Weaver, and keys to his success in getting back to 2017 form?
We go way back. We were roommates in High-A and played together all the way up through the system. He needs to get back into his own groove and stick to his gameplan. He can tend to get a bit sporadic, more mentally than physically. “That’s my job when I need to go out there and talk to him about it.” Coming to Arizona and getting a “fresh start” should be a big reset for him which could lead to a big 2019 for him.
What it’s like being traded for Paul Goldschmidt?
“It hasn’t really hit me yet.” He thinks maybe once he puts on the Diamondbacks uniform is when it will finally hit him. Coming over together with Weaver, the two have a relationship together that allows them to work well together. He knows when Weaver needs to get back within himself and maybe slow down. The relationship is going to help both of them.
Beyond that, his comments were the standard, canned responses of happy to be with the new organization and really looking forward to seeing what he can contribute.
Once Kelly was done, Luke Weaver was brought into the call for his turn to answer questions.
What was your reaction when you heard about the trade?
“I was very excited and it was a little overwhelming at first. Anyone who gets traded, it kind of comes at you all at once, but I’ve been good and been able to talk to the D-backs side and say my goodbyes to the Cardinals side so, everything’s been great and just trying to transition to it smoothly and just go from there.”
What do you think the keys are to getting back to the sort of performance you had in 2017?
“I have a lot of things, information that I’ve stored up and thoughts and then my throwing and workouts and things, I’m just building around that stuff, building a nice platform. I don’t think it’s anything drastic. I think it’s continue to do what I’m doing and just making some minor adjustments - getting the information as the season goes and staying on top of that stuff and see if anything throws out a red flag and just making those minor adjustments mechanically and I think more than anything staying on track with video and things like that and making sure that stuff doesn’t leak and you find yourself in an inner battle with yourself physically and then maybe mentally that becomes a thing. But, I feel very good where I’m at right now. Things have been progressing tremendously well, and I’m excited to be coming into the season back to where I was.”
Have the Diamondbacks mentioned anything they think might help?
In talking to my pitching coach, we had a good conversation about stuff, just the pitching style and what to look for to and the way that they do it and I’ll get more familiar with that, obviously it was not anything crazy in-depth or anything like that but, a lot of excitement and positivity out of him and got me pumped up just to get in there and chat with him and get into the program and what they are doing over there and so, from what he was talking about just different things I was hearing, I think it will fit perfectly in what my goals are and what my expectations have been and it gets me really excited to get in there and get acclimated and all that.
How much does it help having a fellow battery mate that you came up with to help you now?
“It’s huge. Me and Carson have known each other for years, coming up through the Cardinals organization and he caught me in plenty of games to know what I do and the positives and the negatives.” He’s comfortable with Kelly, who knows what what holds Weaver back and those things that push Weaver forward and help him to keep level. Kelly is someone he can rely on and he trusts him . “Everything about his game is a huge plus...Everybody’s going to love him.”
What do you do well when you are at your best?
“I find it’s just being full of confidence, just going out there and not thinking too much. I think unless we can take our minds out of some of these things and not overthink on most of it, things go better, especially for me. And just being able to channel all that and make sure I am staying ahead of the curve with all the information that’s out there but not letting it overwhelm me - bringing a good fun personality and atmosphere to the people around me and just being laid back, that’s just a huge part of who I am and I think it helps me through the season and really just the keyword - fun.”
As this was a conference call, there is only so much that could be observed. I was a bit disappointed when I first called in and learned that the two were not being introduced together. After the introductions though, I was glad they did not introduce them together. In the interviews, Carson Kelly was very collected, thoughtful, and well-spoken. He spoke with authority and like someone who has been there and done that before. He spoke thoughtfully about his battery mate, Luke Weaver and what Weaver can bring and what he, as a catcher, is going to need to do to help Weaver thrive.
Then Luke Weaver joined the room. In contrast to the composure and polish that Kelly demonstrated, Weaver was very - relaxed. No sooner than 10 seconds into the interview did the NUke Laloosh alarm bells go off. If ever there was a real-life personality that sounded and responded the way Nuke Laloosh was learning to, it is Luke Weaver. This is a man, who when speaking, projects the image of wearing flip-flops and sunglasses with sunscreen on his nose and a rum drink in his hand. Laid back, and relaxed oozes from his voice while he allows his answers to simply form themselves while he is in the process of speaking. It is obvious, even just over the phone that this is a man who truly lives by his comment, “...bringing a good fun personality and atmosphere to the people around me and just being laid back, that’s just a huge part of who I am and I think it helps me through the season and really just the keyword - fun.”
Had the two been introduced together, it seems likely the banter they would have started would have been fun, but that Kelly might have dominated the conversation. By splitting the two up, it became a real-life Bull Durham flashback. I like what I am hearing from both of them regarding Carson Kelly and how he works behind the plate. I also think that Weaver’s attitude, especially if it winds up in the same clubhouse as Greinke, could be very interesting for the team dynamic. This team has had it’s share of fun personalities. Weaver will fit right in with the likes of Peralta and Bradley, but he might just bring something new as well.