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SnakePit Round Table: And so, it ends...

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The 2018 regular season is not yet technically over - but it is for the Diamondbacks...

Actor Nicolas Cages Porsche Found in Lake Photo by Getty Images

Sum up the 2018 season in one paragraph.

[Jack] The team raised hopes and expectations with a fast start, then created concern and anxiety with an incredibly bad May, especially on offense. Then they got hot again in June, then they were so so in July and August, and then they repeated the dregs of May with the worst collapse in franchise history. It all added up to barely above .500 and a future in doubt.

[Edbigghead] Wow this is really amazing and fun, winning is so COOL! Wha...what...wait a minute, are they talking about sending Goldy down? Well thank goodness Goldy figured it out and looky looky Buchhy has our back and is a star, we are moving along just fine again. Kill Avila! Pitching looks good, bullpen is tight, offense is launching dongs. Oh…..oh my, oh my Goldy no! Lamb is hurt! Lamb is hurt and 4 starts were wasted on Shelby Miller! I’m not feeling so confident right now, guys. Oh look, we got Esky, phew...for a moment I was worried and now things are steady again, confidence is maintained. Wait, the offense just suddenly died, who has caused this? Now Buchholz is hurt? Well would you look at that plateau *proceeds to jump off of the Mogollon Rim.

Turambar Hope was had and then thrown away. This team was built around defense and a bullpen that always had to play along the razors edge, and that team was not up to the task for all 162 games. You just can’t keep expecting those two components to hold up all season long when the offense was never truly there. I had hope they could find a way, but in the end that offensive ineptitude threw that hope away.

[Makakilo] The team had outstanding defense (for example, first in the Majors in defensive runs saved), an excellent rotation, and built a surprisingly good bullpen (prior to the September collapse). However, offense and run-scoring were inconsistent. In a roller-coaster season (as Jack described), I found a consistent stat: games lost by one-run:

  • 3 March/April
  • 5 May
  • 4 June
  • 5 July
  • 5 August
  • 8 September

[Keegan] In the words of the late Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were!” The D’backs took an extremely awkward route to get there, but they are finishing with essentially the same record I thought they would at the start of the season. It’s just been very cruel, honestly. Expectations were altered after an obscenely hot April to begin the year. This has happened too many times in this team’s short 20 year history.

[James] It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. This team jumped out to claim the best record in all of baseball by the end of April. Then, they turned around and put together a historically bad month of baseball. The team spent 125 days with a share of first place in the NL West. Then, they finished the season barely above .500, eight games out of first place in the division. The season brought loads of excitement. The problem is, that excitement came from playing too many close games, which in turn created too much stress on a roster lacking in sufficient depth.

Wesley: Last years team’s unexpectedly good season, along with a promising team on paper, and historically hot start in April lead pretty much everyone to believe that this team could be even better, and lead to I think everyone having high expectations for the rest of the season. After having one of the worst offensive months historically, maybe we should have tempered our expectations then. Maybe after Walker and Ray went down, we should have tempered those expectations even further. I have to admit that I actually lost interest in the MLB club around that time, so I can’t really speak much to my thoughts on the second half. I see this as a lost season where we should have done something different at the trade deadline. Either a teardown or an acquisition similar to JD. There definitely were some positives this season. We had some of the best pitch framing and stolen calls on balls and strike out of any team. (Last I checked we were number two in that statistic). Our defense was fantastic. The development of our younger players on the team was another positive.

Jim: I choose to remember only the good things. Like the first month, which were among the most fun I’ve had in 15 years writing about this team. Sure, it ended badly. But it was still vastly preferable to the entirety of the five seasons from 2012 through 2016 inclusive.

Who were the D-backs Most Valuable and Least Valuable Not Named Yasmany players?

[Jack] Goldy is still king, despite a poor start and a lack luster finish. He’s the best player , the best hitter, and the most valuable player they have. Steven Souza Jr, gets my vote for least valuable. His performance numbers were among the worst 2-3 guys on the team, no matter how you look at it. Considering the cost to get him, and the expectations, he was the biggest underperformer and hurt the team the most.

[Edbigghead] Peralta held the line all season line for the most part when players like Goldy slumped, players like Souza Jr sucked, and players like Pollock and Lamb were hurt. Peralta is the MVP. Going with Souza Jr for least valuable player. The guy was terrible at the plate, injured off and on, but this was the guy we picked up right after we lost Martinez to Bos. Souza may have been over-hyped.

[Makakilo] Most valuable: Paul Goldschmidt was most valuable with 5.5 bWAR, and Patrick Corbin was second with 4.6 bWAR.

Least valuable: I limited my search to players with salary of at least $1 Million. Least valuable was Shelby Miller (negative 1.0 bWAR in 5 starts, $4.9 Million), second was Brad Boxberger (negative 0.7 bWAR, $1.85 Million), and third was Steven Souza Jr. (negative 0.4 bWAR, $3.55 Million)

[Keegan] Goldy, Peralta, Greinke, Corbin, and Buchholz were all beacons of hope. Goldy probably wins the NL MVP without taking the first two months of the season off. Least valuable is a toss up between Miller, Souza, and Boxberger. It’s incredible that perhaps the best player involved in the Souza trade, for all teams involved, might be Taylor Widener.

Turambar: Goldy and Peralta held up their end of the bargain at the plate and Corbin was wildly amazing on the mound. Those three kept this team chugging along and contending until the very end. Whereas guys like Souza, BoxTaco, and (it pains me to say this) Archie round out the other end of the equation. I was an apologist of Souza for much of the year, but he just never lived up to the expectations we all had for him. Whereas both BoxPerson and Archie had solid starts to the year, the dramatic way that they both flamed out contributed directly to our season’s demise.

[James] Paul Goldschmidt still reigns supreme as the team’s best player. As Goldy goes, so does the team, more or less. Even though he had an atrocious run at the beginning of the season, he offset that with a brilliant stint afterward, which put him right about his norm for the season. It’s painful to consider that he might be gone next year.

Steven Souza, Jr. gets my vote for the least valuable player this year. After the team traded good value to pick him up, he went out and got hurt. Then, he hurt himself trying to come back. After that, he simply never performed up to expectations. The expectations weren’t even all that high. Pollock managed to at least return from injury to put up a positive season. Jake Lamb’s injuries resulted in him moving off the roster, opening up room for others to contribute. Souza was neither productive or completely absent. He managed to stick around just enough to make sure he was able to add his negative contribution. In addition to all this, his personality seemed at odds with everyone and everything, making for some unpleasantness. The Diamondbacks are counting on him to turn thigs around before next year.

Jim. I would put Corbin on top. It was pitching which was the engine room of the team’s success this season, and it was Corbin who was the engine room of the engine room. Goldschmidt was insanely hot for three months, but over the course of the whole season, consistency matters, and Corbin was simply reliable. As for worst, I’m giving it to the three-headed catching beast of Alex Avila, John Ryan Murphy and Jeff Mathis. They may deserve credit for working with the pitchers, yet did we really need THREE of them to do that, while all simultaneously blowing utter chunks at the plate? After the way this afternoon ended, if I never see Murphy again, it will be too soon.

Wesley: Goldy was obviously the most valuable player here. Least valuable players: Steven Souza Jr. For the talent given up, he was a total bust, as were the other players we traded for this season. If we had entered the post-season, I’d have a different answer.

What is the biggest issue Mike Hazen faces this winter?

[Jack] Setting the direction for the franchise and then executing a plan.

[Edbigghead] What to do with Goldy is Hazen’s thiccest issue.

[Makakilo] Jack nailed it. Add getting buy-in from Kendrick.

[Keegan] “Re-tooling” really isn’t going to cut it anymore. You either go for it, or tear it all down. The D’backs have essentially played to a .500 record over the past decade. It will stay that way if they just keep making changes around the edges.

Turambar: Gotta agree with Jack. Can’t put any more bandaids on this team anymore. Gotta make some tough choices an set the tone and identity of this team.

[James] Picking a course of action for the future of the team, convincing Ken Kendrick to buy into the plan, and then executing the plan from beginning to end. All three phases are going to be difficult.

Jim: What they said. This winter will put Hazen’s stamp on the team. I’ve had enough of D-backs GMs who come in, have a great first season, then it’s downhill all the way. But I suspect .500 could end up as the ceiling for the 2019 D-backs, if we go full rebuild… Getting the fans to buy into that is going to be a real challenge.

Wesley: As stated above, re-tooling and applying band-aids and quick fixes isn’t going to work this next season. He needs to put together a long term plan for this team to be successful.

Will Paul Goldschmidt be a D-back on Opening Day next year?

[Jack] Yes.

[Edbigghead] Goldy came to me in a vision and he said he would always be with me. I do believe that Goldy will be a D-back on Opening Day 2019.

[Makakilo] It depends on the direction of the franchise.

[Keegan] Without a doubt.

[Turambar]: Hell yea he will!

[James] He will be back.

Jim: Reply hazy, try again.

Wesley: I’m just going to say that he won’t because everyone says that he will, or a non-committal answer. I think the smartest business decisions are to either trade him for a haul of prospect before he becomes a free agent at the end of the season to extract maximum value, or sign him to an extension to finish out his career as a Diamondback.

How do you see the post-season unfolding?

[Jack] No predictions from me who will be the winners, but I think this is set up to be one of the best and most exciting post seasons (that my team is not involved in) in recent memory.

[Edbigghead] A’s win it all.

[Makakilo] World Series: Red Sox vs Cubs, with Red Sox winning. Braves are an underdog team with chances to make it to the World Series.

[Keegan] The Oakland Bob Melvin’s and Atlanta Braves will square off in the World Series and make Fox executives crap their pants.

[Turambar] Rockies shock the world and win it all.

[James] No hard-and-fast predictions from me. I do think that, despite their record, Boston has a tough road ahead of them in tying this season up with a nice little bow. I also think that the AL is going to be in the driver’s seat, unless somehow Oakland gets to the World Series. If that happens, things really get interesting. Regardless, as long as the Dodgers don’t win, I will be happy with watching the excitement unfold.

Jim: American League rolls. Probably the Red Sox, but I’ll be fine with the Anybody ButTheDodgers. Even the Yankees!

Wesley: I have no clue, but I am really liking the Brewers in the NL and the Red Sox in the AL. I’m in the same boat as Jim, #AnybodyButTheDodgers

What are your plans this winter?

[Jack] Go to a lot of AZFL games, write about the team, play some golf, and try not to embarrass myself in fantasy football.

[Edbigghead] My plans this winter include camping, lots of hiking, and the hanging around the snakepit.

[Makakilo] My off-season plan has four parts:

  • Do a new activity every week – build my flexibility and adaptability.
  • Be passionate and joyous in everything I do.
  • Proactively stay healthy, physically and mentally.
  • Continue to write about the D-backs.

[Keegan] I’ll be spending plenty of time playing Red Dead Redemption 2 when it is released on October 26th with plenty of visits to the gym at night to make sure my body doesn’t fuse to the couch.

[Turambar] Drink beer, make beer, smoke cigars, sit by the fire pit and have fun.

[James] Like Jack, I will be at numerous AFL games. I will also be covering the moves the team makes throughout the winter. Beyond that, I have a thesis to write before the middle of December, so I suspect I’ll be living in a hole somewhere, working on that.

Jim: I have three thousand hand-written HTML film reviews, written over the last 15 years, which I plan to port over into Wordpress. So that’ll be fun!

Wesley: I will be conducting interviews with our Minor Leaguers, starting with Taylor Widener and then Jasrado Chisholm. I’m going to be expanding my writing into non-baseball related stuff, I’m starting a podcast, taking off another thirty pounds (13.6 kilos or a little over two stone for weirdos from the UK like Jim who use the latter measurement), getting into physical therapy and going to the gym more regularly to hopefully improve my health.. I may end up moving to Reno, Nevada at the end of the year as well.