Are you worried by the lack of moves from the Diamondbacks so far?
Makakilo: Mike Hazen has a plan. As long as the team has consistent focus and discipline to stick with that plan, that is the path to success, regardless of moves or lack of moves.
Michael: The worst moves are the ones done in haste. That’s a lesson that Dave Stewart should have learned. Also sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.
Keegan: Not by the lack of moves on the trade front. I’m more concerned with little movement signing free agent relievers. Although the market for that group appears to be inflated this offseason, I thought there were a few names in the D’backs price range that they should go after. Jared Hughes, who was non-tendered by the Brewers, was estimated to earn around $2.2 million by MLB Trade Rumors in his last season of arbitration. He’d likely get more than that in this market, but still a great bargain with his past results.
Jim: I’d rather the team make no moves, than make the wrong moves. While there are needs the team should be addressing, if they’re making moves “for the sake of making them,” that is potentially going to make matter worse. We’re still two months away from pitchers and catchers reporting, or three and a half from Opening Day. There’s still plenty of time: I’m sure Hazen and Co were not in Orlando so they could go on Space Mountain… :)
Did any of the deals proposed over the winter meetings appeal?
Makakilo: No. Without knowing clearly the players and terms of any proposed deals, my opinions are based on very little information. It seems that none of the proposed trades made the D-back team better, beyond financial flexibility to take advantage of undefined opportunities.
Michael: Not really. I stated the Dbacks are going to play the long game and be slow and steady. Based on some of the deals relievers are getting, there isn’t a reason to be hasty.
Keegan: Manny Machado, but only if the package we send out is similar to what we gave for J.D. Martinez. I just don’t know how serious Baltimore is in trying to make this move. They refuse to give teams a 72 hour window for extension talks with Machado, but that is a non-issue for Arizona because they have zero chance of extending him. Additionally, the Baltimore front office appears adamant that there is no way he gets moved to the Yankees which is just silly in my opinion. Baltimore is rumored to want at least 2 starting pitchers in return. Seeing as to how Patrick Corbin is in his final year of team control I’d say they’d only want him if they felt confident he would sign an extension with them. Jake Lamb is already our established third baseman, Machado’s current position, but Machado has expressed a desire to move back to shortstop. That means that there would be no need to include Lamb in the deal, so either Drury, Owings, or Ahmed would be the odd man out. As an outsider looking in, it appears that Drury has fallen out of favor with the current regime, but I think that Corbin and Drury is too steep a price to pay for 1 year of control of Machado.
Jim: The news over the weekend about Machado is potentially interesting. I didn’t give much credence to the initial rumors, because of the apparently insurmountable financial issues which would result. But the news that the Diamondbacks seem to be in line for a one-time $50 million payout means that financial limitations are not necessarily a problem. [If at least some portion of the windfall are not invested in the team this year, I’ll really want to know the reasons why]
I don’t think we can necessarily hand over two starters to the Orioles. We could certainly give them Corbin, but I’m not sure we have enough depth to lose another one, without causing a bigger hole than Machado would fill [neither third-base nor shortstop were especial problems for the team in 2017]. That’s going to be the biggest issue, I’d say, which stops Machado from coming here. There may simply be a better fit with another team. If that’s the case, then the Orioles would be daft not to take it.
Fernando Rodney and Chris Iannetta will be elsewhere next year. What impact will that have?
Michael: I think the team will miss Iannetta more than Rodney. Iannetta provided most of the offensive value behind the dish. 2018 will have 3 well below average hitters projected back there assuming no moves are made. Rodney as the closer was solid, but not someone who you want to plug in there year after year.
Iannetta. The priority for catchers was how they handle the pitching staff and control the game. A decision was made to go with Mathis and Hermann. That freed a roster spot and it allowed resources to be used where the need was greater.
“With catching, we look at defensive first. Sure, Iannetta had a great year for us and he was able to get what he wanted with the Rockies. We look at catchers in terms of how they handle the pitching staff and control the game. I thought that Herrmann was unlucky last season, and I feel comfortable going with two catchers [in 2018].” Mike Hazen
Rodney. Lovullo said, "We would not be where we are at without Fernando Rodney." Rodney was part of the 2017 core that greatly exceeded expectations. It seems obvious that the D-backs would have welcomed Rodney back. What happened? Two factors worked against his return.
The D-backs were determined not to engage in a bidding war with other teams – especially when there were other options for closer. There were several teams who were bidding for Rodney.
- Near the end of his career, Rodney wanted to be confident that he would again play in the postseason. In the end, he chose a team that had higher odds in his mind.
Keegan: I think that either Bradley or Boxberger will be able to fill that role adequately, possibly even Sherfy as he was a closer in the minors, so the loss of Iannetta will have a greater impact. Jeff Mathis has only caught more than 80 games 3 times in the past 10 years. He has averaged 67 games a season since 2007. Chris Herrmann has only caught 145 games in 304 games played since 2012, so it is pretty safe to say that the D’backs aren’t rolling with just the two of them behind the plate this season. I’m fine with Jeff Mathis and John Ryan Murphy behind the dish, but not really sure why Chris Herrmann was tendered a contract. Iannetta very well may have had the best season of his career with Arizona last year outside of 2008 when he was with Colorado. He would have given me more confidence returning behind the plate than Herrmann and JRM.
Jim: I was a little surprised Rodney only got $4.5 million and one year guaranteed, with anothr $1.5 million in incentives. I know he’s in his forties, but he had almost 40 saves last year, and this has been an insane market for relievers. I mean: Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw each get $27 million/three years? Heck, even Yusmeiro Petit got $10m/two. But it appears the D-backs just weren’t interested, and didn’t have an offer in. I think other plans have likely been in the works for a while.
Iannetta feels like more of an issue. I really do not feel comfortable going into 2018 with a catching triumvirate of Jeff Mathis, Chris Herrmann and John Ryan Murphy, not matter how awesome they are at pitch framing. Will the team make a run at another free-agent to replace Iannetta? Do they have the necessary funds? We’ll see. For now, it’s likely my biggest concern.
However, neither Stanton nor Ohtani will be in the NL West. How relieved are you?
Makakilo: Because the D-backs will likely compete for a wild-card spot, there is little reason to fear them playing in the NL West. This season, Stanton and Ohtani will be exciting for fans to watch.
- MVP Stanton hits well and practices yoga. Yoga provides physical benefits and mental benefits. I like yoga!
- Ohtani’s two roles (pitcher and position player) is an out-of-the-box approach. The same was said of my baseball opinions, so I feel an obligation to cheer for a kindred soul.
Michael: More so that Stanton is out of the NL. Ohtani might not pitch in the early stages of 2017 given his ACL is sprained.
Keegan: Not only that, but it appears that J.D. Martinez will not be in the NL West either. I thought that there was a good chance at least one of those three would be playing for our rivals, so that is a victory itself. However, I do feel for Marcus Stroman, Chris Archer, and Chris Sale as the prepare to face that monstrous Yankee lineup. Keep runners off the bases and try to limit the home runs to solo shots.
Jim: Mostly glad. It does mean the Dodgers will have enough spare cash that they can pretty much sign anyone they want out of the monster free-agent class next winter. But we should worry about that when it happens, and focus on the window of contention which we have right now. I’m curious to see how Ohtani is handled. Will the Angels let him be a two-way player? In the AL, it’ll be particularly interesting, since he won’t generally get to swing the bat otherwise. The Yankees are going to be scary in 2018. Stanton and Judge are going to be potent in that park. Rather there than here, to be sure.
What is the most essential priority for the team, right now?
Have a team plan. Part of the plan is fill out the roster. “To fill out our roster, I’ll look at catching, relievers, and an outfielder. For the most part, we have depth in most positions. When we go out and look for depth, we want players whom we can control for a few years. Right now, the priority would be in the bullpen.” Mike Hazen
Four priorities in executing the plan:
- Stick with the team plan.
“ I think one of the things we've tried to stay consistent with is remaining disciplined to what we're trying to get done, and if those things don't happen, there's no reason to force it." Mike Hazen
- Have a roster plan “in place” before executing trades/acquisitions that impact this season.
“There would have to be some other path that you would feel comfortable you'd be able to replace that starting pitcher with. Wherever that was. You could theoretically do it without having a plan in place. I would like to have a plan in place if we did that." Mike Hazen
- Stay open-minded and revise long-term plans based on impacts of any trades/acquisitions.
"I think we're semi-open-minded to that we're going to have to be creative for the long term. That means we may have to consider some things that you wouldn't necessarily consider if you were putting all your eggs into 2018.” Mike Hazen
- Stay within budget.
“It's hard to say. I think if you're able to make some moves cheaply, on the free-agent market or via trade, then you never know. We'll see where that takes us." Mike Hazen
Michael: Patience. They probably need to add a reliever to augment the back-end of the bullpen and possibly an addition to the outfield and catcher. The team is mostly set on the infield although I’m not satisfied with the current personnel in the outfield and catcher. Depending on which trades can help to that end goal, they should explore them. I don’t think they should dump Greinke’s contract unless they get full relief or a significant haul in both prospects and MLB contributors.
Keegan: Building a sustainable team for the future, finding a suitable trade for Patrick Corbin, a long term replacement for A.J. Pollock if he isn’t signed to an extension, and putting bodies in the bullpen. I fear like most people that the window is rapidly closing after the 2018 season, so I’m trying to mentally prepare for the seasons to come. Waiting to see what moves Mike Hazen will make to get this team in a sustainable position.
Jim: Guess I mentioned that above: figure out the catching situation in tems of position, but dealing with payroll will also be something on which I’ll be keeping a close eye. Will the team really be as penny-wise as comments from Derrick Hall have suggested? Or might this be a but of strategic subterfuge to lull other teams into a false sense of security. Certainly, the honeymoon is now over for Mike Hazen: he’s had his winter of no expectations, and fans are operating on a rather different level this off-season.
Seen the new Star Wars movie yet? What did you think?
Makakilo: Not yet. On Friday, I spent an interesting hour in a shopping center parking lot. The movie’s premier was memorable, for reasons not expected.
Seeing a solid stone-wall of motionless cars starkly contrasted with my free spirit that could confidently perceive unknown possibilities. My car fully explored the life of the parking lot, such as it was.
A security guard patrolled in a golf cart, which no doubt had its own parking space. As an explorer, seeing the same security guard several times was less of a minor annoyance than a major amusement.
I waited in a line of cars for 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot, or so it seemed. I experienced profound joy when I reached 35 mph, escape velocity!
Michael: I might go Monday during an odd time so no one is in the theater. Probably like 10am or 2pm.
Keegan: This one felt really “Disnified” to me. 7/10. I didn’t hate it by any means. I don’t want my answer to spoil it for anyone that has not seen the film. I feel like this one left more questions unanswered than it should have in regards to Supreme Leader Snoke, Rey’s past, and her relationship with Kylo Ren. On the other hand, Luke Skywalker’s Jedi legacy was solidified in this film.
Jim: I’m off between Christmas and New Year, so a matinee is likely in the works. It seems to have divided viewers to a significant extent. We’ll see. I suspect it’ll be neither as good as its proponents claim, nor as bad as its detractors complain. It’s the eighth entry in a major Hollywood franchise. I’m not expecting it to be other than highly-polished blandness.