Ever since Miguel Montero‘s critical quotes hit the newsvine and Trevor Bauer‘s previously recorded rap song was released at an incredibly inopportune time, the Indians blogosphere has been abuzz with questions about whether the recently acquired young prospect is cool-headed enough to cut it in the big leagues. So in this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our panelists (featuring guest contributors Mike Brandyberry from Did the Tribe Win Last Night? and Kevin Dean from Indians Baseball Insider): Are you worried about Trevor Bauer’s personality?
Mike Brandyberry (Did the Tribe Win Last Night?): We talked about this during our podcast this week, but I think Bauer, his behavior and his pre-pitching routine is one of the biggest non-stories in some time. I’ve taught and coached 17 and 18-year olds for over a decade and I’ve seen many introverted students with some confidence to be misconstrued for cocky and arrogant. When I listen to Bauer talk, he reminds me of several teenagers that are now older than he is, just quietly confident. I think if most people would self-reflect upon their attitude and behavior at 22-years old, they’d be embarrassed of many of their decisions and actions. I’m sure Bauer will be no different.
As far as the rap as a potential response to Miguel Montero, I see high school kids do this all the time. They grow up in a world with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube available to them as constant communication. Kids no longer keep diaries under their bed, they have blogs. They used to do embarrassing things to one another in the hallway, cafeteria or gym locker room, now they put it on the internet. Bauer claims the rap wasn’t in response to Montero’s comments. Fine, but so what if it was? What’s the difference between a rap as a response or responding through the media or Twitter? Athletes do that all the time.
In regards to his pre-pitch routine, the care of an arm is an inexact science. If it was exact, all pitchers would warm up the same way and there wouldn’t be a plethora of arm injuries every year. What works for Trevor Bauer, or makes him comfortable, probably doesn’t work for the next person. Manager Terry Francona said last week that Bauer is not on his own plan, meets all their expectations and completes his work in under the allotted time.
So, what’s the big deal?
Kevin Dean (Indians Baseball Insider): Not even a little bit. Never mind his age. Too easy. I think there is a general misconception that exists about his charisma and disengagement. As is often the case with anyone who has something to say that the masses aren’t used to hearing, and especially those in the spotlight, people mistake charisma for smugness, and disengagement for misanthropy.
Nothing about him strikes me as a malcontent. The dude clearly has a passion and an understanding for pitching that extends far beyond his years. He wants to be one of the best in his field. His craft just has its own process. I fail to see how a unconventional warmup routine makes him an uncoachable monster.
And as far as his hip-hop hobby goes, so what? He could be spending his spare time in far more stranger and detrimental ways. But he raps. Relax, wiser generations. He also answers pitching questions on Twitter, and makes comprehensive YouTube videos that may rival a Tom Emanski training tape. Does that sound like the behavior of a pitcher whose head is in the wrong place?
Of course, the irony in defending him is that I am merely assuming, just as those who shun him are. It’s all we can do when we don’t personally know Trevor Bauer. But really, what is there to worry about? Thanks for the overreaction, Diamondbacks organization.
Ed Carroll: Unless Bauer suddenly pulls a “Fausto” and turns out to be three years older than his given age of 21, I’m not worried at all about his personality. He just reached the legal drinking age, and pretty much all 21-year olds are headstrong know-it-alls anyways (I sure as hell was).
But Bauer has a point—this routine and dedication to his craft is what’s gotten him here; why on Earth would you mess with that if you don’t need to do so? I’m admittedly a huge Bauer fan (and have been since he was drafted) but Bauer was effective all the way up until a few starts in the majors last year (apparently working with a catcher with a soft skin) and I’m inclined to at least give him the benefit of the doubt in regards to another shot. Bauer doesn’t seem to be an attention whore and genuinely seems to prefer being left alone—and I see no problem with that.
If his personality becomes a detriment, we can talk again. But the kid (the key word here) hasn’t thrown a pitch for the organization yet; let’s not look for reasons to complain.
Jeff Mount: Not unless he asks my daughter on a date.
Evan Vogel: When it comes to Bauer, the only thing that would worry me is if he was a member of the Westboro Baptist Church on weekends. To say that his throwing program is capable of making him anything other than an ace, based on his repetroire, is completely crazy. Even if he were a disgusting human being, you don’t give up on that potential. Even John Rocker got several chances, and Bauer hasn’t proven to be that stupid.
The Indians took advantage of the Diamondbacks and got a future ace. Considering they thought the same kinds of things about Jarrod Parker before unloading him to Oakland for Trevor Cahill, the future looks bright for the Tribe, here. Some managers shouldn’t be allowed to make personnel decisions, and Kirk Gibson is proving to be one of those managers.
Geordy Boveroux: In the simplest of terms, yes. If it were an athlete at any other position I would scoff at the idea, but when a pitcher’s personality comes into question my concern level rises. That’s simply because of the fact that a pitcher’s psyche is so pertinent to his success. This is why we see pitchers going on the DL for anxiety disorders, and often careers derailed by them.
Now, Bauer does not have that same problem, but if he is as childish as Miguel Montero and his rap songs make him seem then his attitude on the mound could become a major red flag. What if he gets starts thinking of rap lyrics to describe his mood when he’s getting pounded in the fifth inning?
The slightest mental error in a baseball game is so often the difference between a win and a loss. Bauer needs to show Cleveland that those errors won’t come from him.
Katrina Putnam: Trevor Bauer’s personality won’t be a problem for the team this season. Based on what others have reported, he seems like an extremely intelligent player who wants to make the most of his chance to become a star. I don’t think he will do anything to jeopardize that opportunity, especially after the learning experience he had in Arizona. Most of the drama concerning Miguel Montero seems to be exaggerated, and he has repeatedly said he just wants to move on and focus on his pitching. Once the season starts, people will be more interested in his talent than his personal issues, and he should be fine.
Merritt Rohlfing: I can’t believe that a 21-year-old’s attitude is even a question. Does anyone else remember when they were 21? I was an idiot, and still a kid. Heck, I’m still a kid, and I’m 26.
It is something that Bauer shook off Miguel Montero in his first start, and argued with his catcher. But again, he’s 21, and he’s incredibly headstrong. I like that out of Trevor—he knows what he wants to be, and is taking the best steps he knows to get there. People who become great at something aren’t always the nicest, and they rarely take being told what to do well. So yeah, if anything, I like Bauer’s attitude, it shows fire and drive.
I can’t imagine Terry Francona, who’s had to deal with much more (shall we say) intriguing attitudes, will be phased by it, and if anything he knows how to put a guy like that in the right place to succeed. Unlike Kirk Gibson, he’s malleable, he gets his guys, and that’s what you need to get to the promised land in the long run. Bauer is going to be the Indians ace in a couple years, and we’ll all forget about this. He’s gotta work on his rap game though. Sheesh.
Steve Kinsella: How personalities affect performance in sports is nearly impossible to predict. So I am worried about it? Not in the least. What could happen to change my mind? Bauer could allow his personality to put his teammates in harm’s way. For instance, if he were to repeatedly throw at the opposing hitters in retaliation for surrendering home runs resulting in an Indians hitter getting hit by a pitch and benches clearing then I’d say his act will grow old quickly. What some may call “attitude” others may perceive as an intense desire to be the best. I’d worry more about a guy with no heart then I would a guy with a supposed attitude problem.
Lewie Pollis: It’s tempting to make too much out of a clubhouse distraction or a big personality. It’s human nature. It takes all kinds to play baseball, and the record books are filled with names whose sins were far worse than having exactly the ego you’d expect a 21-year-old phenom to have.
As someone who’s younger than Bauer it’s not really my place to comment on how kids his age still have some growing up to do. But I’ll remind you that Abbott and Costello hated each other more than anyone on the Indians could possibly hate Bauer, and that didn’t stop them from performing “Who’s on First?”