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SnakePit Round Table: Miller time! More taste or less filling?

Well, that was an interesting week, wasn't it? What are our impressions of the state of the D-backs after the winter meetings?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The big move was the Shelby Miller trade. What are the POSITIVES of the deal?

James - The Diamondbacks needed a second solid, innings-eating arm to slot between Greinke and Corbin. Shelby Miller will be that arm for the next 2-3 seasons. He adds depth and length to Arizona's pitching, will be relatively affordable, and takes some of the pressure off the lower portion of the rotation.

Clefo - Makes the rotation, comparatively to 2015, really good for the next three plus years. I've seen some people say "Well, might not really make the Diamondbacks better blah blah." To which I ask "Did you SEE the rotation last year?" Seriously, it was wired together with masking tape and solidified cheese.

PirateDan7 - well... we wanted to contend, now we look a bit more like contenders.

soco - let's those punk-ass stat geeks know their place.

Steven - Shelby Miller is a fantastic pickup behind Greinke. He's only 25 and matches up well with the core of this team. Lots of people are saying "win now", but let's not forget 2017 and 2018. He throws hard, limits runs, and now joins a team where he can learn from an all-time great.

Makakilo -

1. Better than Leake (talent, age, contract)

Talent: Miller's strengths are less hard hit balls (27% vs 32%), more soft hit balls(21% vs 16%), lower Deserved Run Average(DRA) (3.16 vs 3.56), and higher RE24 (11.8 vs 7.4). Miller performed better based on his situation-based outcomes. With Miller, the combination of softer-hit balls in play and the great Diamondback defenders is an awesome combination.

Age: Miller is 25 and Leake is 28. Much less risk of performance decline for Miller.

Contract: Miller has three years of arbitration. Would Leake's contract be more than three years? If so, it does not match the contention window and the injury risk is much higher than Miller's contract.

2. Based on the following stats, Miller slots just behind our ACE Greinke. Three perspectives agree. First, the combination of ground ball percent (GB%),soft-hit ball in play, and hard-hit ball in play have Miller equivalent to Greinke. Second, my preferred metric of deserved run average (DRA) ranks Miller as second with no ambiguity. Third, run expectancy (RE24) ranks Miller as second by a large margin. To be fair, Corbin has high potential as shown in SIERA which ranks him (and Ray, Godley, and Hudson) above Miller. Bradley has potential to bounce back from the shoulder and the face injuries and do better than his 2015 season stats although I predict he will not be in the rotation on opening day. Although Hudson could transition to a starter, given the rotation candidates it seems unlikely in the near term.

Diamondback Rotation Candidates for 2016
Pitcher GB% Soft % Hard % SIERA ERA+ DRA RE24 IP
Greinke 48 22 27 3.27 225 2.17 55.5 222.2
Miller 48 21 27 4.16 124 3.16 11.8 205.1
Corbin 47 17 31 3.44 113 3.37 6.8 85.0
Ray 43 15 35 4.05 116 4.10 7.9 127.2
Anderson 42 13 27 4.26 95 4.23 -0.6 152.2
Godley 46 14 30 4.15 129 4.26 6.1 36.2
de la Rosa 49 15 28 4.19 87 4.74 -10.9 188.2
Bradley 58 13 39 5.26 71 5.18 -6.3 35.2
Hudson 43 17 29 3.36 106 3.99 0.4 67.2

3. Bullpen effectiveness better. I anticipate Miller will reduce bullpen usage below the overworked level, and thereby increase their effectiveness.

4. Unified Priority. Together with acquiring Greinke, adding Miller created a sense of urgency to win this year, or failing that, the following two years. Stepping away from building towards the future was an effective way to unify the team on a single priority.

5. Avoided Arroyos and Abysses. Grabbing the pitching we needed early in the off-season, the Diamondbacks a) avoided the scenario of overbidding for a meh pitcher (like Arroyo), who still has the injury risk of a great pitcher, b) avoided the scenario of trading the entire farm for one pitcher (first Abyss), and c) avoided the scenario of a wasted season (second Abyss).

6. Potential Extension. The possibility that, in 2 or 3 years, Miller may want an extension with the Diamondbacks has value in the future.

Jim - Miller has more upside than virtually any of the free-agent alternatives, being of course, much younger. There's also a decent chance - since he's not a Scott Boras client - that we could possibly sign him to some kind of extension, if we wanted to do so. It gives the Diamondbacks, top-to-bottom, the best rotation in the division to this point, and among the best in the National League. And it means our starting line-up, both position players and pitchers, is all but set for the next three years.

And, the negatives of it?

James - The cost was extravagant. He also functionally replaces Blair in the rotation instead of RDLR, meaning the boost provided is not as big as it could have been. I am also very skeptical that he is here for all three seasons. If Miller simply performs at his career average for the next two seasons, the Diamondbacks are going to be faced with a tough choice in keeping him, as Corbin and Pollock will also be entering their walk seasons. Miller would be silly to sign an extension right now unless the Diamondbacks are already prepared to go $20+ MM AAV from 2019 onward. At that price, I doubt they can afford it. I am expecting Miller to only be here for two seasons.

Clefo: If a World Series isn't won within that timeframe, things are gonna suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

PirateDan7 - Cost, naturally and our dreams... most of here are more than just casual fans, so there was buy in as to who these players are and what they mean to us. Sure, we dissect them worse than frogs in 10th grade science, but it's because we love to be so fully invested. As time goes on, that will hurt less, but it stings now.

As a brief counterpoint, I understand people stating that we paid too much. Still, I look at the other deals that were made for pitching during the meetings and just prior... I don't think that we were prepared for that kind of inflation.

soco - that we can't do it again.

Steven - He really wasn't all that special in the 2nd half of the season last year with just a 3.83 ERA over his last 15 starts. Hopefully his true talent level is somewhere between the 1st half (2.38) and the 2nd half.

Makakilo -

1. Traded away Inciarte. His defensive skills were high, including his ability to play center field as well as the corners. He was the best lead-off hitter on the team. Inciarte was a clutch hitter in 2015, who made a difference in many of the close games we won. Luckily the Diamondbacks have Brito and Tomas to replace Inciarte.

2. Traded away Swanson. He was our 1-1 pick in last year's draft. Although his raw power and arm are average, his speed and hit-tool are above average. Although he is a plus athlete, and is likely to make the majors, chances are that his ceiling is not franchise impacting.

3. Traded away Blair. He was ready for the majors. The wonder and anticipation of when he will emerge has gone away. His ceiling is significantly lower than Miller.

Jim - Yes, we overpaid, though there's no absolutely point in going half-in on something like this. Once Greinke was signed, this kind of move became almost a certainty. If it doesn't work... The smug "Told you so" from the likes of Leith Kaw will likely be worse than multiple 90-plus loss seasons that result.

Should the team still go after Mike Leake?

James - I wouldn't mind the team adding one more arm that can give 200 innings of league average or better ball. In Leake's case though, I don't want to see more than 4 years or too high of a salary. If they get him reasonably, I won't mind one bit. If they let him get away, I won't mind one bit.

Clefo: Unless we can get him at a steal (vaguely intended joke), I'd do a hard pass. I feel that money can shore up some other areas. I'm comfortable going with the mish-mash of Anderson/RDLR/Godley/Bradley/Whoever as the 5th starter in 2015.

PirateDan7 - If the price is right, and it does appear that Mr. Leake WANTS to play in the desert.

soco - best practice would be to wait until the Reds aren't looking and then stuff him under our coat.

Makakilo - No. The team needs impact more than bargains. Nevertheless, a good argument could possibly change my mind.

Steven - It's a luxury that we don't need. We have so many guys ready for that 5th spot we could form a decent rotation out of them. Seriously, the Rockies would love to have Bradley/Godley/Anderson/RDLR/Shipley as their starting 5.

Jim - Hey, it's only money, right? And it's not my money either. Not sure he would necessary be much better than what we can get out of our in-house depth and another of the alternatives for the #5 spot, but the reliability he appears to bring is valuable in its own right. On the other hand, we saw with Bronson Arroyo how "reliability" can evaporate.

How about Brandon Phillips?

James - The Diamondbacks can do a lot worse than adding Phillips for the next two seasons. Brandon Drury's presence here could make Phillips redundant, but Drury is a great unknown and I'm not willing to do much experimenting in 2016 or 2017.

Clefo - Meh.

PirateDan7 - He would be an upgrade and it would be based on how strong do they feel about Drury being ready or CO bouncing back or Gosselin getting serious reps with Williams on how to be a 2nd baseman. Perhaps someone in the minors being ready to step up if CO or Drury or Gosselin can't handle the job.

soco - the cost probably isn't worth paying, just play some cheap kid.

Steven - Anything is better than having Aaron Hill take 350+ AB's from youngsters.

Makakilo - Yes, if and only if the trade is Aaron Hill for Brandon Phillips, and if anyone receives cash, it is the Diamondbacks. If the Diamondbacks end up with both Hill and Phillips, it is no longer a win-win trade.

Jim - Second-base is likely the biggest remaining opportunity for the team to improve, so I would like to see them make some effort there. Phillips would be better, simply by not being Hill and Owings, though I'd prefer to see what, say, Brandon Drury can do in terms of a long-term solution.

What else do you want to see done?

James - The team needs another catcher. Hermann is not going to cut it as a positionally challenged backup catcher. The team needs someone it can confidently rely that can be penciled in for 60 games in order to keep Castillo fresh.

Clefo - Bullpen depth would be on fleek. Doesn't have to be a big ticket name, but a small horde of good-ish relievers would be nice.

Piratedan7 - I'd like them to sell Dr. Pepper at the ballpark to make my wife happy.

soco - upgrading second base or catcher would be nice, but at what cost?

Steven - I wouldn't mind them trying to upgrade the rotation even further, maybe trading Ray+ some stuff for Matt Moore or someone like that. We have enough depth where we can take chances on former elite prospects.

Makakilo - Another catcher!! I'd love to see a young talented catcher platoon with Welington Castillo. There are at least three reasons.

1. Catcher is a position that requires depth.

2. Platooning of two catchers will benefit the performance of both, and encourage pinch hitting.

3. The Diamondback staff have what it takes to develop a young catcher into an all-star!

Jim: Get rid of Hill. I don't think he's entirely worthless, so we shouldn't have to eat his entire salary, but I'd rather pay $8 million and see what Drury can do, then $12 million and have Hill occupying a roster spot.

How many wins would you predict for the 2016 Diamondbacks, as currently constructed?

James - I'm going 88-91 wins.

Clefo - 85-90

PirateDan7 - 89 is my best guess, I'd like to be pumped and predict more, but stuff happens, people get hurt. Besides, we play the Pirates, they're sure to tag somebody this year.

soco - 162, baby.

Steven - 92 wins and the division title.

Makakilo - On 14 March of 2015, I predicted 78 wins in 2015 and 84 wins in 2016. Adding Greinke was a game changer. I am increasing my 2016 prediction from 84 wins to 87 wins.

Jim - 82 wins by Pythag last year. Add five for Greinke replacing the fifth starter from 2015, and even if you call Miller + Tomas for 4th starter + Inciarte a wash, you're still looking at 87 wins.

Star Wars is out on Friday. Do you care?

James - I have tickets to an IMAX premiere on Thursday and to a regular showing on Friday evening.

Clefo - Yes, and anybody who doesn't care who bemoans or makes fun of people who do care should be shot into space. I currently have tickets opening night and Sunday at the fancy-ass theater here that serves beer and real food.

PirateDan7 - While I want to see it, I'll probably wait a week or two so I won't have to wait an absurd amount of time in line to see the movie and/or procure my popcorn. I can remember being 16 and waiting in line for hours to see the first one and it was like nothing else I had ever seen before.

soco - I care, but not enough to see it Thursday or Friday. I might try to see it over the weekend after the kids go to bed, but I'm not going to work too hard given that it will be in about a million screens for the rest of time. I'd be more bummed if I missed the 70MM Roadshow presentation of the Hateful Eight (Jim, you're going to see this one, right?)

Steven - I'm going to the 10PM showing on Thursday at Superstition Spring with a couple buddies. Can't wait!

Makakilo - I will watch it Friday!! Although each day is an opportunity for adventure and discovery, much joy is found watching actors living larger-than-life in strange and unexplored worlds.

Jim - I may bump into Piratedan7, since we will also be waiting a bit. Enjoyed JJ Abrams' revision of the Star Trek universe, so keen to see what this one is like, but not in a rush. We'll be the ones squeeing "Brienne!" when Gwendolyn Christie shows up.