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SnakePit Round Table: The offseason begins

Time to start staring out the window...

Martin Love of Queensland Photo by Darren England/Getty Images

Where will this World Series stand in your memory?

Charlie: Game 7 wasn’t too exciting, but Games 2 and 5 were wild enough to remember for awhile. It was pleasantly surprising to see the Astros pull it out, having personally prepared myself for the Dodgers by inoculating myself with Giants Even Year Bulls**** over the past decade.

James: Its recentness helps give it an extra special feeling right now, but I think that once the lustre wears off, that the series might actually drop out of my top five, but not much more. Now, games two and five, those will forever remain great pieces of baseball theatre in my book, even if quality pitching pretty much just ceased after four or five innings in those games. Despite the eventual outcome, game six was also a good game, though there was little about it to set it apart from other “good games” in World Series history.

Jay: The mighty Dodgers were turned away by the Astros. I will only vaguely remember everything else except a couple of crazy games that were classics.

Steven: Instant classic. High scoring affairs and a breakdown from the Dodgers? Can’t wait for the 30 for 30 about this one. Top 5 World Series’ in my eyes.

ISH95: It was pretty awesome. I mean, I got to see Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig lose the World Series. That's pretty special.

But seriously, combine Games 2 and 5 with the fact that it was one of the rare cases where the two best teams actually meeting in the World Series, and the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, this was one of the better Series in recent memory at least.

Makakilo: The World Series was perhaps the best for three reasons:

  • Games were very close, with many runs – that is exciting baseball!
  • The team that I cheered for won! Although I’d have cheered more for the D–backs.
  • Before it started, I predicted the Astros would win in 7 games. My prediction was exactly right! Also, I wrote that the Dodgers had an edge in bullpen, Astros had an edge in position players, and Astros had a slight edge in starting pitching. That analysis had merit.

Turambar: Classic series with a much needed Dodgerless outcome. Really was hoping game 7 was gonna be great but game 2 and 5 were ones for the ages.

Keegan: It will be relevant for a longer period than usual because we’ll have to remind Dodger fans that they lost. Of course, I’m sure they’ll be quite vocal that they beat us to get to that point. What I’ll remember most is the obscene amount of home runs that were hit in the series. I’m also not a fan of how starting pitchers were managed. I miss the days where Randy Johnson would go out and throw a complete game shutout in the World Series. Very happy for Houston, but I’m sure this one will fade from my memory after time.

Jim: It was kinda like the Signs of World Series: great up until end, and you then go, “Wait, what?” I think Games 2 and 5 will be in the pantheon of great games, the series itself will likely be remembered more for SlickBallGate. The ludicrous number of home-runs made it feel more like someone set the difficulty level to easy than a baseball classic. But I’ll be downing Thirstbusters of Dodgers fans’ tears for the foreseeable future, that’s for sure. #SadPuig really needs to be a thing.

What can the D-backs learn from the Astros path from 30th to 1st?

Charlie: Uh, lowball your pre-arb players and employ some shady medical reasons to get extra draft picks in a deeper draft, while simultaneously screwing over another pick later in that draft? That’s… probably not the answer we want? (As an aside, totally could have drafted Alex Bregman. Of course, he’d be on the Braves now if the rest of the timeline held, so nevermind.)

James: Not sure I agree with my co-writer about the shadiness of the medical reports, especially since he went on to break down in just the way the Astros had feared. I can’t find any fault with the rest of his plan though. On a more serious note, I think the biggest thing to take from the process is that the Astros were patient. They sucked for a good, long while, but they refused to jump the gun to make smaller, incremental improvements along the way. The Diamondbacks are in a similar position now, though with less payroll wiggle-room. Of course, the young core of Altuve and Correa is a much better young core than just about any other team in baseball, so that helps. The Diamondbacks have a nice core as well, but they are going to need to be savvy about how they complement it.

Jay: Basketball and even Football are not like baseball. The era of dynasties are over. Maybe the most important thing is be just good enough to have a chance and let the baseball gods decide it. The D-backs have a chance to do that for at least two more years (that’s how long Goldy can be held without a new contract). At least I can look forward to some fun times going forward in the near future.

Steven: A solid farm system, with multiple home-grown stars, coupled with solid key free-agent signings (and trades I guess) are the key to a sustainable future. Sustainable is the key there, as the Astros will be good for many years to come.

ISH95: Honestly, I'm not sure if there is anything Hazen and Co. can learn. The main reason Houston worked out so well was because their front office had a plan and their ownership bought into it. Hazen has a plan. As is always the case for the Diamondbacks, Kendrick has to buy into it. And only time will tell if that's the case.

Turambar: Gotta agree with ISH here. Hazen’s laying down the groundwork and now ownership has to let him play in the sand box for more than a couple years building up his own castle.

Makakilo: I will build upon what Steven said about a solid farm system with multiple home-grown stars. Looking at their rosters, they include a first round pick from every year of the draft from 2011 to 2017, except 2013:

  • 2011: George Springer RF in Majors
  • 2012: Carlos Correa SS in Majors, and Lance McCullers SP in Majors
  • 2014: Derek Fisher bench player in Majors
  • 2015: Alex Bregman 3B in Majors and Kyle Tucker OF in AA
  • 2016: Forrest Whitley SP in AA
  • 2017: JB Bukauskas SP in A

When first round draft picks from 2010 and 2013 were traded, Major League talent was acquired.

A first round pick in 2013, Mark Appel was traded with Vince Velasquez for Ken Giles. Ken Giles is their closer in the Majors. That solid trade resulted in Ken Giles, closer.

A first round pick in 2010, Mike Foltynewicz was traded with Andrew Thurman and Rio Ruiz for Evan Gattis and James Hoyt. Evan Gattis is bench catcher in the Majors. That solid trade resulted in Evan Gattis, bench catcher.

Keegan: If there is anything for the Diamondbacks to learn from the Astros, it may be that they are a ways off from the path the Astros took. Following that plan would involve painful decisions and a string of unbearable seasons. I don’t think the Diamondbacks should take that path because they could start a bit of a trend on their own. We are beginning to see teams that are not tearing everything down and “tanking” for the sake of acquiring a substantial amount of prospects. In retrospect, I don’t think many of us would argue against Hazen making minor tweaks to the roster and going at it again with largely the same core as he did last offseason. It brought us the beauty that was this season in a short amount of time. Our biggest concern now should be sustaining this success, and that’s where the Astros course of action pays dividends.

Jim: We should have tanked harder? Mind you, as noted by Charlie, it probably wouldn’t have mattered how many #1 picks we had, Dave Stewart would have dealt them all away for mid-rotation arms. But I think the lesson is that spending smart can still beat spending big, albeit largely because the post-season is a crap-shoot. But half the 10 playoff teams this year - including the one which won it all - were in the bottom half of Opening Day payroll.

What do you see as the main issues for the team this winter?

Charlie: Juggling the frugality of ownership with keeping the core together. Could expand on that, but seems pretty self-explanatory.

James: Ken Kendrick’s willingness to actually spend enough to field a team with a league average payroll. If that can’t happen, the Diamondbacks had their shot last season and are now on the cusp of having to gut the talent out of the team. Mike Hazen has his work cut out for him trying to field a second competitive team if he is going to have to go dumpster-diving to fill out more than half the roster.

Finding a replacement for A.J. Pollock and another catcher are the biggest hurdles I see, given the payroll situation. Hazen needs to find a way to get ownership to extend Pollock for three to four years. That’s still the least expensive option available to the team right now, and would add stability and payroll certainty at the same time.

Jay: Money, money, money. If Kendrick wanted to do it, he could. He could bring back J.D. and the core, resign Goldy, and still make a profit. He’d increase the value of the team and sell it to someone so rich that he could care less about baseball profit. That’s my dream.

More realistically, let Just Dingers go, but bring everyone else back. Rebuild the bullpen to be a force in the postseason and pray that everyone stays healthy since depth is an issue. Most injuries this last year were in the middle infield, the one area where depth was available.

Steven: Could the trade actually trade Greinke to free up payroll? Because we’re climbing closer and closer to the day when Goldy will need to get paid. Once we know the payroll situation, the offseason will be fairly straightforward. For the first time in a while I trust this Front Office.

ISH95: Finalize the plan. Figure out what parts of the core (Goldschmidt, Grienke, Pollock, Corbin, and, yes, Martinez) are part of that plan. Trade, or attempt to trade, the ones that aren't. And someone for the love of god kidnap that damn baseball card and hold it to ransom so Kendrick opens the pocket book.

Makakilo: From roundtable on October 22. “My biggest area of concern is to improve the weakest area: 2nd, 3rd, shortstop (which ranked 21/21/20 in Majors). How to improve that area depends on how much players improve/develop by next season and any opportunities that GM Mike Hazen can find and execute.”

There are other issues. Two issues are: who will be Center Fielder beyond 2018, and who should the D-backs platoon in left field with Tomas?

Turambar: Can we dump Tomas and/or clear salary to make key moves and keep a core in place? We’re gonna have a wildly different team next year in our quest to make this team better and I wouldn’t be surprised if some combination of Owings, Ahmed, Pollack, Tomas and even Grienke are moved to help cement Hazen’s vision going forward.

Keegan: Center field is my biggest concern, and I was rather surprised to see it ranked so low among other members’ concerns earlier this week. Is A.J. Pollock going to be our center fielder of the future? There isn’t much in the way of a successor down in the minor leagues, so I’m of the opinion that it would be ideal to try a negotiate a deal with him this offseason to try and keep him another 3 or 4 years. Of course, that could backfire because he has hardly managed a half season since 2014. Outside of that the bullpen is going to need to be addressed again, and there are plenty of options on the free agent market.

Jim: Prudence. Not going the 2007 + 2011 routes of thinking we should go all it. We’re still going to be outspent by over $100 million next year by the Dodgers. But outside of Martinez and arguably Fernando Rodney, everyone else of importance is under team control for 2018. Good health permitting, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to compete in 2018, but the financial aspects are going to be increasingly problematic for the next couple of seasons. We’ll then need to be looking to replace the like of Pollock and Goldschmidt. The window is open, with the Giants’ implosion. That doesn’t mean we should be selling the farm, however.

Are you happy the team picked up Descalso’s option?

Charlie: Sure, but at some point it would be nice if one of Marte/Drury got the bulk of starts at 2B for the sake of the future.

James: I think it is a low-risk, low-cost insurance option. It’s not one that I am either excited about or disappointed with. There are decent arguments to be made either way, and I think Hazen is erring on the side of depth-caution. After all, it isn’t as though his contract makes him difficult to trade once the season is underway. I do think he needs to get about ⅓ fewer at-bats though. He received entirely too much playing time in 2017.

Jay: A very valuable, utility player that a 25-man roster has plenty of room to support.

Steven: I’m not going to lose sleep over a guy making $2 million. Although him taking a roster spot means one of Ahmed/Owings/Marte won’t be on the team next year.

ISH95: He was a useful piece for us. Hopefully our three young middle infielders play well enough to earn him a DFA by the trade deadline

Makakilo: Thinking about this decision, I struggled. I am OK with the decision, but I will not be happy until I see the consequences.


  • Having him on the bench strengthens our weakest three positions (measured by WAA): second, third, and shortstop.
  • He is a clutch hitter – exactly what I wrote about Inciarte before he was traded away.


  • Christian Walker is a better bench player for first base and left field (for details read my review on Tuesday), as well as minimum salary. If picking up Descalso means leaving Walker in the minors, I am not happy.
  • Although this was a reasonable expenditure, not sure it was the best use of what may be very limited discretionary salary. If picking up Descalso prevents retaining Iannetta (or equivalent defensive catcher), or is just enough to prevent a significant contract extension, I am not happy.

Turambar: I’m fine with it. Low risk move for a solid utility player. Meh.

Keegan: I don’t hate it. Michael informed us when Descalso was first signed that he was a key performer in “high leverage” situations, and that largely held true this past season. Could that money have been better invested elsewhere? Surely, but this isn’t a move that we’re going to regret a few months into the season.

Jim: I have to think we could have got equal production on the field elsewhere. I’m not a believer in the “clutch” narrative, even though Descalso has been that for quite some time. It’s like the Vegas gambler who won on every game of the World Series: the streak’s going to end eventually. But, hey: #InHazenWeTrust.

Predict the amount/years for J.D. Martinez [bonus: where]

Charlie: 5 yrs/125MM, Boston

James: Uhm, well, I think Charlie was peering through my monitor at my notes for the GM simulation, because I have him for 5/130 going to Boston.

Jay: If it is 5 yrs/125M, it better be with the D-backs. I’m guessing 6 yrs/180M. That’s right. People say that baseball is a dying sport. They’ve been saying that for decades. It is BY FAR the most attended sport in the world. The best fans support TV contracts. Casual ones can go to games, putz on their phones while taking selfies of giant corndogs. Big money. Just saying.

I’m guessing the Dodgers. Just to get back at us for Greinke. Surely, he would have done better than Darvish in the World Series.

Steven: A hair above Upton, 5 years/110 million to the Giants. Get ready to hate him.

ISH95: I've actually been trying to formulate my thoughts on this into an article, but it hasn't really happened yet. I kind of suspect the market won't be there as much as everyone is expecting. We got him for a song and a dance at the trade deadline, and I have a feeling that will translate to the offseason as well. My guess is we resign him for 5 years, 100 million

Makakilo: I would have optimistically predicted 3 years/$75 Million/D-backs before he changed his agent. Now, James is likely closest with 5 years/$130 Million/Red Sox.

Keegan: He switched to Boras with the desire for additional years. Players of his age need guaranteed earnings, so I’m going to say 6 years $150 million to the Red Sox.

Jim: I hope he cashes in, big time. 5 years, $140 million. Boston seem to be ahead of the pack at this point, but as long as it’s not in the National League, I’m at peace with him leaving.

What are your off-season plans?

Charlie: People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window growing in a cocoon of my own madness, shutting myself off from friends and family.

James: Hopefully, I will be getting my baseball fix by catching some AFL games and writing plenty of 2018 primers for this site. Outside of that, I’ll be up to my eyeballs in work I should be doing for university.

Jay: I have twins on the way. In fact, I should be building my nursery now. In terms of sports, the Cardinals stink, and the Suns are a couple of years off. Five months without sports? At least I have something to do.

Steven: Play a lot of softball and try not to die, the American dream.

ISH95: Work? Mrs. ISH and I have some PTO built up, so maybe a vacation? Idk, we'll see where life takes us.

Makakilo: I will observe and comment about how the D-backs prepare for next season. I will consider how I could improve my writing approaches next season. One question is whether I continue Mental Habit of the Series or start something new?

My garden is especially exciting because I am harvesting dragon fruits and avocados, and my mountain apple tree is blooming. Also, I started a vermicast worm bin. They are like pets, but not as friendly as my cat.

Keegan: I turned my PS4 on for the first time since Spring Training to help keep my mind occupied. Been hitting the gym pretty regularly to have bigger forearms than Paul Goldschmidt. Seriously what is that dude’s method? I’ll start figuring out what road series I would like to go to next season. Milwaukee and Chicago are on my short list. I basically just try to do anything to keep my mind from going idle.

Jim: Work through the backlog of DVDs, Netflix queue and other films that have piled up over the summer. Dammit, I didn’t even see Blade Runner 2049. Got some non-baseball website stuff I’d like to take care of as well. I’ll keep occupied!