The Arizona Diamondbacks decided not to call up pitcher Trevor Bauer to the major leagues after the Reno Aces won their Triple-A championship. The team stressed that he had a great year. He was 12-2 in two minor league levels -- 14-2 if you include the postseason. His ERA was under 3.00. Both general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson said he will probably the the team's minor league Pitcher of the Year.
But he is not joining the major league team.
The reasons make sense. He has already pitched enough innings. It is the first season in which he is pitching every five days -- not once every seven like in college. The Diamondbacks already have young guys in the rotation in the majors that they don't want to drop. They don't want to use Bauer out of the bullpen because he has never done it. They feel they are still in the playoff race, so adding him in a six-man rotation doesn't make as much sense.
All of those reason make good baseball sense. But they aren't the real reason he is not in Phoenix. It is because Bauer is stubborn.
Prior to Wednesday's game against the Padres, Towers spoke to the media about Bauer. He reiterated everything noted above, but notice the common theme about the other things he brought up.
Towers spoke of the improvements that Bauer still needs to make.
"He needs to trust his fastball a little bit more. He likes to go to his secondary stuff and he's still a little strikeout-happy."
"For him, it's learning how to be a professional, being a little bit more open-minded."
Bauer's velocity at the end of the season was down. "When I saw him in Mobile, it was 95-96," said Towers. At the end of the year it was topping out at 91-92. "That could be fatigue," said Towers.
Bauer gets a lot of attention for the pregame work that he does. He throws A LOT. You get the sense from the organization that they all want him to cut back.
"I think it's going to have to come from him," he elaborated. "I think he feels real striong about the way he goes about doing things. I think he realizes now, after a full minor league season, pitching every fifth day, it's different than how it was in college."
You have to "save your bullets" and Towers said that "there's been enough people been in his head telling him those things."
With the drop in velocity, they want him to make the connection, but Towers also said "those are things only he can answer."
Bauer had documented issues with catcher Miguel Montero. He was not on the same page with him when he was in the majors earlier in the season and would frequently shake him off, something that most young pitchers do not do.
"That just comes from maturity," said Towers. "Miggy is one of the best catchers in the National League. I think he has a pretty good idea of hitters' strengths and weaknesses...I think young pitchers need to rely on their veteran catchers."
That was the zinger...he is REALLY stubborn.
Not that it is a complete negative. What Bauer has done thus far has brought him great success at all levels except the majors. You want a guy to believe in his ability and his preparation.
In the case of Bauer, he is not willing to bend at all. His stubbornness gets in the way of his improvement.
This is why he is not with the major league club. If he isn't going to pitch, he could still join the team and "soak it in," as people say. But the organization knows that he's not ready to do that and take a backseat and just watch and learn.
And so the team is choosing to create an obstacle for him, to send a message that he's got some maturing to do. He's too stubborn right now, so they want him to go home and think about what he has done. The team doesn't want the public to think of it as a punishment, but in many ways it is. They want him to behave better, so they are holding back, still holding out that metaphorical carrot.
I think it is what he needs to go through. He needs to realize that he does have to change things in the majors.
He will be back in 2013. He will compete for a starting job, and he will be good. For now, he needs to mature.
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