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SnakePit Round Table: Center field, part 2

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Here's the second part of our center field discussion, in which we talk about where Pollock might hit in 2016, what out back-up plan is, and the best movies we saw last year.

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Where do you see A.J. Pollock hitting in the line-up this year?

James: With the departure of Inciarte, unless Brito steals the job of starting right fielder from Tomas, I have a feeling that Pollock will wind up back in the leadoff slot again. I like him there, but I think we can all agree he was better suited to batting in the #2 or #3 hole, right in front of Goldschmidt. Chip Hale seemed to like him down in the order as well, so maybe Owings and Brito will both get looks at batting leadoff throughout March to see if one of them can stick.

Makakilo: The leadoff spot is not the best spot for Pollock because he is a power hitter.

  • So, how would I create the lineup? I place my best hitter, Paul Goldschmidt in the third spot. I place my power/RBI hitters after him (Peralta, Pollock, and Castillo). Then I place my best contact hitter ahead of him (might be Drury or Hill).
  • Finally I place an intimidating batter in the leadoff spot. Usually it is a batter with high on-base-percentage and speed. My first pick would be Lamb because he has a high OBP and and a SLG much lower than my three power hitters. I note his OBP was about the same as Inciarte's (.331 vs .338).
  • Depending on whether Tomas improves his SLG, he could potentially be another power/RBI hitter. However, it is entirely in the realm of possibility that his OBP improves to the point that he could be a surprise lead-off hitter, especially in hitter friendly ballparks.

Xipooo: He'll be batting lead off, I have no doubt. He's always a threat to get to 2nd, either with doubles or by stealing. Occasionally he might drop into the 4th spot depending on who else is on the field.

freeland1787: Due to the lack of a legitimate leadoff presence, you don't have guys that fit like a cookie cutter in the lineup. I believe that Pollock is best suited for the #3 spot in the order if you're comfortable batting Paul Goldschmidt 2nd or 4th. If you want to bat Goldschmidt 3rd, I would have Pollock bat 1st or 4th in the order with Peralta batting ahead of Goldschmidt. I don't like the idea of batting Pollock 2nd because that takes away his ability to steal bases when the team needs it. Since there's no established leadoff presence, then I would go Pollock 1st, Lamb 2nd, Goldy 3rd, Peralta 4th then figure out the rest of the lineup. If Brito makes any starts, I would have him bat 2nd.

Jim: I wrote about this over the weekened, but the tl;dr is, I'd prefer to see him hitting second, behind someone with good on-base skills like Jake Lamb. I get the feeling we'll end up seeing him hit leadoff, however, and to me that's going to mean an awful lot of his home-runs are going to end up being solo ones.

With Ender Inciarte gone, what kind of a back-up plan do we have?

James: Socrates Brito has all of the tools to be a direct replacement for Ender Inciarte. I think Brito will be fine should Pollock need a day off. Should Pollock go down due to injury, I look to Glaesmann or Marzilli to get some playing time, though probably as the new 4th outfielder. I suppose that role could also go to O'Brien if the team is comfortable with PEralta taking a few starts in center field, like he has in the past.

Makakilo: Yes, there are offense-first outfielders who are talented back-ups, such as Socrates Brito, Peter O'Brien, Chad Oberacker, Gabriel Guerrero, and Stewart Ijames. I may be wrong, but It is possible that only Chad Oberacker and Todd Glaesmann are being groomed to play center field because of their defensive skills, while the others will be corner outfielders. I am interested to see whether either Chad Oberacker or Todd Glaesmann are given a cup-of-coffee appearance at center field in 2016.

Xipooo: We've actually been quite spoiled for the last few years. Prior to Adam Eaton it seemed this team hadn't had a true lead off for nearly a decade. I don't know that this team will require a pure lead off. Because of this I think our backup would be a power bat. I mentioned Glaesman in regards to minor leaguer who might get a shot. Brito is also an obvious choice should something happen to AJ.

freeland1787: The Dbacks would not have traded Inciarte had Socrates Brito not emerged as a prospect the last two seasons. Brito had a terrific season in AA in a pitcher-friendly environment. I believe long-term that Brito is a better player than Inciarte because of the different in game power. Brito is a 5-tool player in the mold of AJ Pollock, the only concern for him is finding ABs at the MLB level since he's blocked by a $68M contract in RF and two potential All-Star Candidates at the other two positions. The only thing I believe that hurts Brito right now is that he bats left-handed, which the Dbacks OF is crowded with. I can see him get 400 PA at the MLB level if he doesn't struggle at the plate.

Jim: I'm hoping Brito can live up to expectations, since he's being asked to step up and replace a player who was also very, very good last year. He hit .300 for Mobile, but his walk-rate of 5.6% could definitely have been better. A little nervous about giving the job to someone with just 34 PA above the Double-A level, and sense there might be some bumps in the road this season.

We're looking to sign Pollock long-term - what kind of contract seems fair?

James: At this point, it is difficult to tell. A while back I advocated for something in the realm of 5/58 for a chance to lock him up early. I'm fairly certain that ship has sailed. Unless Pollock's performance falls off a cliff, he'll make $20-25 million through arbitration alone. Since the team retains control of Pollock for three more seasons regardless of salary situation, there is little incentive to buy out his arbitration years on the high side in order to get him to stay. On the flip-side, Pollock has begun to enter his "earning years", and has very little incentive to allow 2017 and 2018 to be bought out without making sure he is maximizing those seasons. 5/58 might still be doable, and I would not be opposed to that sort of contract, but I think that Pollock earning $19 million in 2019 is unlikely if he is a Diamondback because of the Tomas and Greinke contracts.

Xipooo: If AJ has another All-Star year, I can see his contract going for as much as $30 million for 5. If the Diamondbacks don't give him that someone else will.

freeland1787: I recently saw a report on MLB Trade Rumors that the Diamondbacks are tabling extension talks for now, but I'm not ruling out something after they figure out his salary for 2016. The problem is figuring out the right comparisons and how he would age. I think he's a 6.0 WAR player in 2016 and 2017, but decline could set in earlier given how much his game revolves around speed. He bats well enough that a transition to a corner OF spot could be smooth but also he could wind up aging pretty well in CF like Steve Finley did. In terms of a 5-year extension, I would try to go 5/$65M. $3.8M in 2016, $6.5M in 2017, $9.7M in 2018, then $22M and $23M for his FA years. Even if Pollock declines to a 3-4 WAR player, that's a bargain. He would make $20M in arbitration and $22.5M per FA year. I believe Pollock would get easily over $20M per year in the FA market, perhaps even over $25M. If they do contract extension, it needs to go more than 3 years but less than 5 years.

Jim: I suck at this kind of thing, because I'm just too conservative. Wouldn't mind buying out the first couple of years of free agency, when Pollock will be 31 + 32, but I'd not want to go any further than that. He's definitely one of the key components of the team, along with Goldie, and it would be nice to have them both locked up for the bulk of the Greinke years.

The Oscar nominations came out this week. What was the best film of 2015 in your opinion?

James: I haven't seen all the nominees yet, but I don't think a person would be called out for being totally wrong if they were to vote for The Revenant.

Makakilo: The Martian! I read the book and then loved the movie. Although it is an adventure movie with humor, nevertheless it explores the possibility of colonizing Mars. Although the mission was not the one-way-trip colonization planned by Mars One, Natasha Schon, a writer on their blog, called it a "must see movie for all Mars enthusiasts." The movie was nominated for best film, best actor (Matt Damon), and best adapted screenplay.

Xipooo: I thought Mad Max was a fantastic movie. It really revived the franchise and I foresee another sequel in the near future.

freeland1787: I am not qualified to answer this question since I don't watch movies very often and I have weird tastes. Of the movies I did watch I found that the Avengers sequel was a trainwreck and the new Star Wars movie to be a somewhat of a rehash of the first movie (1977 Star Wars). IMO they should have never taken the mask of Kylo Ren in that movie, he looks like a total noob without it.

Spoiler Alert: Luke Skywalker is the Joker in the 1990s Batman cartoons.

Also, I hope Leonardo Dicaprio gets an Oscar. The poor guy can't catch a break, the best actor award comes down to him and Matt Damon in The Martian, even though I haven't and don't plan to see either movie.

Jim: Weird tastes? Wouldn't know anything about that... :) I can't argue with any of the above choices, they were all excellent - rather than repeating those, the most pleasant surprise for me was Spy. I always had Melissa McCarthy down as a one-note actress, but this was a wonderful spoof of the secret agent genre. Particular credit also to Jason Statham for parodying his own persona with lines like, "Nothing kills me. I'm immune to 179 different types of poison. I know because I ingested them all at once when I was deep undercover in an underground poison-ingesting crime ring." I laughed more at this film than any other in a long time.