Torey Lovullo on Paul Goldschmidt
“He’s just such a special human being” – Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo welcomes Kelly and Weaver, says goodbye to Goldschmidt
By Jeff Jones
Twitter – @jmjones
LAS VEGAS — When discussing the impact that the trade of Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals may have on this upcoming season, both his former manager and the manager of a division rival had dramatic assessments.
“Inside of my baseball life it was probably one of the hardest days that I’ve ever had,” said Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo.
Joe Maddon of the Cubs was equally revealing – “I really don’t like the Diamondbacks right now at all.”
Each man has plenty of reason to feel the way that he does. Goldschmidt has recorded a career .353/.471/.699 slash line against the Cubs, terrorizing Chicago pitchers for the better part of a decade. He’ll now face them 19 times in 2019 rather than seven.
In Arizona, the impact is longer lasting.
“The culture that he helped us and me create will be carried on,” said Lovullo. “One day when we do win a world championship, he’s going to be a part of that even though he won’t be there.”
That legacy and impact can leave a long shadow that may fall on the players sent back to the Diamondbacks in the deal. In addition to a draft pick and minor league infielder Andy Young, former top Cardinal prospects Luke Weaver and Carson Kelly are relocating to the desert. Lovullo said he’s already spoken to both of them about coping with being traded for Goldschmidt and encouraged them to be their own best selves, no matter what.
“Everybody says the change of scenery will do [Weaver] some good,” Lovullo said. “He probably would’ve had a great year if he’d been in St. Louis as well. There’s a lot of horsepower.”
Kelly, seemingly perpetually stuck behind Yadier Molina on the Cardinals catching depth chart, now has, “a way for him to kind of get out from underneath one of the best catchers of all time and do his own thing, his own way.”
Expressing confidence in his new players, Lovullo opined that both would step in and have immediate impacts at the big-league level. The fit is easy to see with Weaver; Patrick Corbin has already left Arizona for Washington, and reports say the team is actively looking for ways to divest themselves of Zack Greinke’s hefty remaining salary.
Kelly’s immediate fit is less clear. Though Jeff Mathis has already departed Arizona for Texas, both Alex Avila and John Ryan Murphy remain on the major league roster. Avila has some experience at first base, which is now vacant with Goldschmidt’s departure. Murphy, largely a defensive specialist, may benefit Kelly as a partner without the attached intimidation factor that accompanies Yadier Molina.
As for Goldschmidt, Lovullo offered a “guarantee” that he would win a World Series at some point in his career. He laughed when he reminisced about asking Arizona general manager Mike Hazen to reconsider trading Goldschmidt “several times,” but eventually conceded that Goldschmidt’s contract status and the trajectory of the Diamondbacks franchise ultimately had too much friction to overcome.
“You fight to get over [losing Goldschmidt],” Lovullo admitted. “You have a once in a generation player right there, right in front of you. Physically, fundamentally he’s off the charts.”
“He’s just such a special human being so when that steps out of your environment, it’s a hard thing to get used to.”