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SnakePit Round Table: Cats or dogs edition

Never say we don’t ask the important questions...

Annual CFA International Cat Show Showcases Pedigreed Felines Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you’re interested in being a “reader representative” on next week’s round table, speak up in the comments, and I’ll email the first qualifying person to post the questions on Saturday (so, obviously, you need to have an email address attached to your account!). You’ll need to be able to get the answers back to me by Sunday evening, so a timely turnaround will be necessary. If you miss out this week, try again next - we’ll aim for a different person each time. And with that said, onto this edition...

How does the Machado trade affect the NL West?

Makakilo: The NL West has three very competitive teams – D-backs, Rockies, and Dodgers. Machado added insurance that the Dodgers will be contenders. Nevertheless, the division winner is up for grabs.

Jack: It certainly makes the Dodgers stronger. How much stronger remains to be seen. It just depends on how well he plays. Does he regress from his strong, career best first half, or does he maintain it ?

Keegan: I suppose that depends on what team you felt was going to win the division in the first place. What the Dodgers have accomplished since their sluggish start to the season is quite remarkable. I’m glad the Diamondbacks got a majority of their games against them out of the way in April and May when they were without Machado. I don’t necessarily believe adding Machado was their biggest need, perhaps they should have prioritized pitching, but I’m also a believer in what a move like that does to a team psychologically, outside of the numbers. But the Diamondbacks can’t be concerned with any of that. They have to handle their own business. Don’t turn back the clock to 2008 with Mannywood v2.0.

Turambar: Honestly? It gives the Doyers a bit of an edge with their bats, but I know I’m not alone in thinking they need pitching help more than a bat. This dividend will still be decided in the final week of this season, that’s my stance.

Wesley: Obviously it makes the Dodgers better offensively, but does it really make the Dodgers that much better? The only reason the Dodgers can even fit Machado in is due to the loss of Corey Seager at short. From what I understand, Machado will slot in at shortstop and third base. I would imagine that Justin Turner will continue to get the majority of the playing time at third, where Machado is actually an excellent defender, and is a clear upgrade for most teams. The thing is that Machado is AWFUL defensively at shortstop. So any offensive gains are negated by his horrible defense. I would say this is a clear downgrade from a healthy Corey Seager offensively or defensively or the Dodgers, but in his absence he’s an upgrade over anyone else.

What should the D-backs do to respond?

Makakilo: Because the D-backs need more consistent offense, it hurts that Machado went to the Dodgers.

When one team (Dodgers) has more resources than another team (D-backs), an asymmetric response is called for. Instead of responding by acquiring a player similar to Machado (which may not be possible), acquire an affordable player who makes a positive impact in another way.

Jack: Once Manny was off the board, it felt like there was no clear cut offensive upgrade that fits and is worth making a move for. At this point they need to shore up the bullpen, and possibly try to make a deal for a starter.

Keegan: Arizona should prioritize pitching help. I tend to believe that the offense cannot continue to be as lethargic as it has been. The tail ends of the bullpen and starting rotation need a shot in the arm, and if they don’t get it this team might be dead in the water. The bullpen might be the easiest area to improve given the surplus of available, quality relievers. Replacing JDLR should be the top priority.

Turambar: Find another arm to help a bullpen that is looking increasingly human. Outside of that we just need the offense to finally play up to it’s collective potential.

Wesley: I don’t think there’s anyone out there that’s not going to cost them an arm and a leg.

Reader question time!

Do you think we’ll see Yasmany Tómas in the big leagues again? If so, when?

Makakilo: On the D-backs, his main competition is Christian Walker. Let’s compare:

Age: Both players are 27 years old.

This season in AAA:

  • % games with 2 or more hits: Tomas 26%, Walker 35%
  • on-base percent: Tomas .276, Walker.348
  • OPS: Tomas .714, Walker .906

Barring injury, it looks like the D-backs would call up Walker instead of Tomas. Nevertheless, as an optimist, I like to believe that anything is possible. Tomas becomes a free agent in 2021, making it more likely for Tomas to play in the big leagues.

Jack: It’s highly unlikely he’ll get another MLB at bat from the D Backs unless they are out of the race in September and they want to “showcase” him for potential trade. Most likely they cut him in the off season and eat the money. Will he ever get picked up by an AL team to be a right handed DH ? While I’ve been dismissive of that possibility, the truth is in a world where Mark Trumbo has a job anything is possible. That link takes you to a list of right handed DH with over 100 PA this year. Even Matt Davidson manages a 97 wRC+ as a DH, thanks to his walk rate. And he has a 113 wRC+ overall, as he has 99 PA playing 3rd base. Trumbo has played a little bit of outfield this year, but 75% of his PA’s are at DH. So maybe Tomas gets another shot. But for the most part the right handed DH’s in the league are proven power hitters with MLB track record of success.

Tomas will probably get picked up by another team on a minor league deal, and he’ll get one more chance to hit his way back to the show.

Keegan: No, he doesn’t fit Mike Hazen’s roster philosophy. It would take a slew of injuries to see him back up here. His offensive ability does not do enough to outweigh his defensive liability. Not even losing A.J. Pollock to free agency would result in Tomas earning his roster spot back. I don’t think the team will flat out cut bait with him because he is an emergency doomsday option, and that salary is going to be paid whether he is here or not.

Turambar: Nope. He’s toast. End of story.

Wesley: Having followed him in the minors all season, he has been awful just all around. I think Tomas really needs to consider going to a sports psychologist, because it sure looks like the demotion has affected him mentally a great deal. I’ve heard from friends in Reno that he just looks depressed out there on the field. I don’t see him ever being playing for Arizona again outside of showcasing him in September when the rosters expand.

Who are the keys to D-backs success in the second-half?

Makakilo: Last week, I wrote, “Three keys: consistent offense, an uninjured rotation, and continued excellence in the bullpen.” I am adding a key. In July, Hazen executes at least one trade that improves the team.

Jack : On the offensive side of the ball, Lamb and Souza are the two key players that need to be better. Goldy and Pollock will do their thing. But Lamb and Souza playing up to what they look like when they are having a good half season, or couple of months, would have tremendous impact. They may not have been able to maintain for full seasons, but both these players have proven they can be very productive for extensive consecutive stretches. If they can each get hot and do something similar to what they did each of the last two seasons for a couple months at a time, the lineup would be very good.

On the pitching side : All of them.

Keegan: At the plate it is Jake Lamb and Steven Souza Jr. and on the mound it is Robbie Ray. Fans felt that Robbie had turned the corner last season and would be a dominant ace at the top of the rotation. He has been anything but that this season. Fortunately, Corbin has filled that void for the most part, but we won’t have that safety net next year. It’s as bad as he’s been during his time as a Diamondback.

Turambar: Offense needs to be consistent and Lamb especially needs to pick up the pace. I’m at the point now where I’d like Descalso starting at 3rd. Souza is rounding out just fine and I have no worries that by season end we’ll all consider him a key contributor to this team. Lamb on the other hand, I’m starting to this Walker may start to practice at 3rd soon……

Wesley: Besides the aforementioned Souza and Lamb, I think we need to see Avila perform like we expected. Alex Avila really is capable of hitting much better than he has, and if we can get a second half closer to his career numbers, that would help tremendously. Another player I’d really like to see break out and who I feel is primed to do so soon is Ketel Marte. The team is obviously optimistic enough about Marte to sign him to the contract they did. Robbie Ray needs to step it up on the mound if we are really going to have any chance of going deep into the playoffs. Bullpen needs to stay good, and there are definitely some warning signs.

Jack wrote about warning signs for the bullpen. Are you concerned about our relievers?

Makakilo: Let’s start with the big picture – Hazen rebuilt the bullpen from chewing gum and popsicle sticks. Remarkably, that bullpen has exceeded expectations. I can’t expect perfection, but I am confident in excellent performance by the bullpen.

Let’s look at the details to identify any concerns. Normally, allowing zero earned runs in a relief appearance is unarguable success. This season, I ranked the (non position-player) relievers by number of scoreless games in the last ten relief appearances, with season ERA being a tiebreaker.

  • Koch, 2 for 2, ERA 0 (as a reliever, excludes games started)
  • Chafin, 9 for 10, ERA 1.54
  • McFarland, 9 for 10, ERA 1.81
  • Boxberger, 9 for 10, ERA 2.97
  • Bradley, 8 for 10, ERA 3.11
  • Bracho, 7 for 10, ERA 2.08
  • Hirano, 7 for 10, ERA 2.34
  • JDLR, 7 for 10, ERA 4.86
  • Delgado, 3 for 6 in July, ERA 5.14

The picture is now clear. The bullpen pitchers can deliver scoreless appearances in 70% or more of appearances, except Delgado. Despite the talk about doing better in low leverage situations, recently Chafin has been a star. Two stars are not in the bullpen - McFarland is on the DL, and Koch is in the rotation.

Jack: They need to make a move and upgrade from JDLR. They also need for Delgado to rediscover his stuff, soon. If he can’t, they need to make a trade for a righty or give Sherfy or one of the other minor league righties another chance.

Keegan: I think it’s our biggest glaring need. JDLR isn’t going to help us get to October again. I’d keep a short leash on Delgado too. There are too many quality options on the market and in our minor league system to stick with what we have.

Wesley: I am quite concerned about the bullpen. I think that’s the one area the team needs to make a move.

How much of the All-Star events did you watch? Any thoughts on those?

Jack: Watched some of the HR Derby, was in and out. Watched all of the All Star Game. It’s ok. It’s better than no baseball at all. But we see so much of these players whenever we want that all star games just don’t have the same cache for me as they did when I was a kid. Get off my lawn !

Turambar: Meh, don’t care, and I likely never will.

Keegan: It’s pretty clear that I’m in the minority here. I love the All Star events. Probably stems from my parents’ love of it and pushing it on my brothers and I as kids. My earliest memories of the game were of Griffey participating in the Derby with his backwards hat, Sosa and McGwire slugging it out. I thoroughly enjoy seeing the best players in the world together on the same field at once. I feel the same way about the World Baseball Classic too. I think it’s great that they mic the players up during the game. Gives the broadcast a more personal feel. It’s a childhood enjoyment for me, and I’m not going to let Baby Boomers sway my opinion of it otherwise.

Wesley: I didn’t watch a second of it. I’m just not interested in it all that much.

Cats, dogs or neither? And why?

Makakilo: Cats are a welcome distraction, even when they jump on my keyboard. Cats are warm and purr when they want, lowering my stress level.

How cats think is mysterious (on the scale of understanding how women think). I like mystery in my life. Their cerebral cortex has twice the neurons as dogs, so cats can ponder more complex problems.

Cats are agile and athletic. Cats exercise on-their-own, and can be found in the highest places in the house. Cats give me extra exercise when it’s time for each vet visit.

Jack: Neither. We travel too much to raise pets.

Keegan: I enjoy the company of dogs more than that of another human being on most occasions. I have two rescues from the Arizona Humane Society, and have grown up with dogs my entire life.

Turambar : Dogs. Cats are a vile evil, a blight upon this land. Dogs love me and lick my face when I’m in a bad mood. Dogs are made of awesome.

Wesley: Cats are more like roommates than anything else. They literally just decided to hang out with us for a place to stay and food to eat. I’ve met some really awesome cats, and breeds like Maine Coons are much more like dogs than they are like cats, but they are the exception. You really have to train a cat and put in the work if you want a good cat. Dogs are great too, but they require way too much attention. Either way, if you want a good pet you are going to need to pick the right breed and train them well, but a mutt dog will always win over a mutt cat any day of the week, so Dogs win. Neither the cat or the dogs I live with are mine but I would have a pet if I lived by myself. Probably a dog to get me out of the house since they need to be walked.

Poll

Cats or dogs?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Cats
    (10 votes)
  • 38%
    Dogs
    (16 votes)
  • 23%
    Both
    (10 votes)
  • 14%
    Neither
    (6 votes)
42 votes total Vote Now