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SnakePit Round Table: Trade Deadline Edition

The newest D-back, what remains to be done - and most importantly, what adverts suck?

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re interested in being a “reader representative” on next week’s round table, speak up in the comments. I failed to notice red_leader volunteering for this week, so they’re on the clock for next week, but we’re clear after that. General plan is, I 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.

Give the Eduardo Escobar trade a grade.

Dano: I think he has earned a solid A- so far. That barehander he botched in the third on Saturday was a toughish play, but not that tough. That said, he did hit a double and a single in his first game appearance, and he looks like he can do the business against both lefties and righties, So yeah, I am pleased.

Jack: Tough to grade, but I’ll give it B. I have some concerns, (acquisition cost not cheap, can he maintain career year, etc) but in lieu of the Lamb injury, they needed to pull trigger now, and this is the best player they could get.

Makakilo: grade: A

Last night, I posted my view on AZ SnakePit. Main points:

  • “The cost in dollars was an underpay. The cost is prospects was a small overpay. Although one prospect may be an “underrated prospect,” it is unlikely that the trade did any significant harm.”
  • The trade improved the Diamondbacks. The defense at third will improve greatly because Escobar’s UZR/150 is better. The offense will improve because Eduardo Escobar ranks high in slugging, on-base-percent, and average batted ball distance.

This morning, I read, “I’m so happy here, coming to this clubhouse, seeing the great, great people here. It’s a lot of fun.”-- Eduardo Escobar

Jim: I’m giving it a B. Just in sheer number of prospects it seems like an overpay for two months, but we did have to do something with Lamb both not performing, and then going on the DL. I think it is better value than what the Dodgers paid for Manny Machado though. Will it be enough to close the gap? Hard to say, and that still seems an uphill battle. But it certainly improves our chances of at least securing a wild-card spot. And once that happens, anything can!

Wesley: Maybe it’s because I’ve followed Maciel since last year, and I am really high on him, but I give the grade a B-. It’s a good trade that fills a need and does improve the team, but I really don’t like the cost.

Michael: I give it a solid B. Escobar is an upgrade over Lamb offensively without much of a defensive drop off this year. Maciel is the one prospect of consequence in this deal, he’d be a 3rd/4th OF at the MLB level with All-Star potential if any power develops when he adds weight. With Corbin and Pollock scheduled for FA, the team should do everything it can to improve the roster for a playoff push in 2018. Otherwise, I would give the move a C+ to B-. The move will be an A if Escobar re-signs in the offseason.

How will he do as a replacement for Jake Lamb, and how will he fit in when Lamb returns?

Dano: I have to believe that the best this can end for Jake is that it winds up being a platoon, given that Jake continues to be abysmal against LHP. Escobar will do fine in such a scenario, I think, based on today’s performance (small sample size disclaimer), but I also believe that he might be our front-runner for the everyday starting 3B job.

Jack: Lets start with the projections

The above are the rest of season Depth Chart projections, which is the average of ZIPS and Steamer. As we know, projections are often “behind the curve” when something radically has changed with a player. In Escobar’s case the biggest change is the launch angle increase that started in 2017, and has been directly responsible for his HR surge. So his projection certainly feels low, and is in fact quite low when compared to his current numbers. .277/.341/.516 126 wRC+ I would be ecstatic if he hit to that level for the ROS , and a little disappointed if he just hit his projection.

As for Lamb, he is having a career worst year, has battled shoulder issues all year, and there certainly feels like there is a far lesser chance that he can perform up to his projection.

Makakilo: Eduardo Escobar at third improves the team defensively and offensively. This season, if Lamb returns from the DL, there is a problem. Unlike Escobar, Lamb only plays one position, third base. Because his lack of versatility and because of his platoon split, Lamb would likely be watching from the bench until next season.

Jim. I like the fact Escobar can play third and short, which gives the team some flexibility. Also, the fact that he has a relatively small platoon split, which suggests he should be playing close to every day, at one position or other. Lamb’s injury is a weird one. Has he 100% healthy this year at all? His career-worst OPS+ of 72 suggests not, and you wonder if he’ll be back at all before rosters expand. When he does, I suspect he’ll only see right-handed pitchers. We can’t afford to wait for him to “get better” against those.

Wesley: He’s a fine replacement for Jake Lamb in the middle of a down year.

Michael: I’m not sure if Lamb will be 100% the rest of the way, although fortunately the injury is his non-throwing shoulder so it hasn’t affected his defense too much. With Escobar in the fold, they can afford to be conservative (they’ve been perhaps too aggressive with some injuries and that’s backfired) with Lamb as long as Escobar does as advertised. If Lamb were able to return 100%, then Escobar’s positional versatility could allow for the team to rotate 4 non-Goldy infielders consistently since Escobar and Marte can play 2B, SS, and 3B. Ahmed has hit OK enough against RHP that he doesn’t need to be taken out of the lineup either. Escobar could play 2B vs. RHP and 3B vs. LHP for the best offensive lineup the team can put out there when Lamb returns.

What else do you want to see done before the trade deadline on Tuesday?

Dano: A bit more help in the bullpen might be nice...perhaps a LOOGY to replace JDLR? Also, someone who could maybe handle a spot start from time to time? Or an actual starter? Dunno. Clearly, however, pitching is on my mind as I think about that question.

Jack: I still feel like JDLR is the weakest link in the bullpen and needs to be replaced.

Makakilo: In a previous roundtable, “I hope for two acquisitions – an inexpensive lefty bullpen pitcher, like Aaron Loup (see Jack’s article for a wide list of possibilities), and an expensive rental of a consistent hitter who is underappreciated by other teams. In my search for names that are under the radar, I focused on third base….”

Eduardo Escobar checked-off the box for an expensive rental at third, leaving the inexpensive lefty bullpen pitcher as unchecked.

Jim: Yep, someone better than Jorge De La Rosa would be helpful. But otherwise, I think we’re likely very close to what we’ll have through the end of August. Saying which, of course, will be Mike Hazen’s cue to go and trade for Chris Archer! I do worry a bit about the lack of depth in the rotation, but every game which passes does make that less of a concern. It sure would be nice to be able to go the rest of the way with a consistent rotation, and the same five men.

Wesley: I’ll go with Jim here and say Chris Archer would make the team do much better, but I don’t think that will happen, and I don’t see us making any other major moves.

Michael: A LH reliever to upgrade from JDLR would be the best marginal add although the team could also stand to add a starter if they think Buchholz and Godley aren’t safe bets for the postseason, although I will be surprised if they make an additions to the rotation.

If you were the Nationals, would you trade Bryce Harper?

Wesley: Absolutely. The amount that could be extracted from a team is worth more to the Nationals than the two draft picks they would get for compensation from him leaving for free agency. I’m a little prospect happy, so I’m probably not the person to ask, but the Nationals really don’t look like a threat at this point.

Dano: Tough call. Harper’s not having a good year, but he is one of the faces of the franchise, and that Home Run Derby performance, in his home park, well…I would guess that the local fans would be pissed if he got traded before the deadline.

That said, if I were the Nats’ front office, I’d be listening to offers, certainly. The NL East has turned surprisingly tough all of a sudden, and I think it’s less than even money at this point that the Nats even make the playoffs, so it’s certainly worth them considering making extra prospect bank off a rental trade. If the offer is good enough, I’d say they should do it.

Jack : I think they should sell now. 6 games back of Div and WC, 4 teams ahead of them for WC, Strasburg just sent to DL. I just hope he goes to the AL. I know he’s having a bad year, but anyone who doesn’t think he can still have an insane hot 2 months isn’t being objective.

Makakilo: When asked that question, Mike Rizzo said, “A lot of things go into that question.” So, maybe a trade is possible. Two lists follow:

Three reasons to trade him:

  • Eleven National players are free agents after this season, and another two have options – why not blow up the team?
  • Because Scott Boras is his agent, the price for re-signing him may not be reasonable.
  • He is a free agent after this season; why not get compensation? He is better than Machado, so the return should be high.

Three reasons to keep him:

  • The Nationals may be able to re-sign him because: A) the Nationals often play in the post-season (2 of the last 3 seasons), B) Harper made a comment that he likes their manager, and C) the Nationals have salary room.
  • Harper is a superstar: 6x All-Star, Silver Slugger, and MVP. And 25 years old!
  • It is possible for the Nationals to earn a spot in the playoffs – via a hot streak and/or trade acquisition.

My choice would be to keep him.

Jim: It depends on whether they think they can re-sign him. If so, trading him now would send all manner of bad signals to the player. If not, then they’d be idiots to keep Harper, since he’ll be walking at the end of the year. Just not to the Dodgers, please. Though that said, I could see a scenario where Harper’s… “unique personality”, shall we say, makes the clubhouse implode. Or he could be the spark that gives them the World Series. I’d rather not take the risk.

Michael: It’s hard to tell at this point, because the Nationals are in purgatory right now. Not bad enough to be clear sellers and not good enough to be clear buyers. The Phillies and Braves have been bad for the last 5 or so years and really haven’t been in the race this late. Trading Harper is a white flag move for the Nationals on the season. The Nationals have greatly underachieved despite having the best roster on paper in the NL East, with Harper being the poster boy for that. They’re 6 games out of first place in their division and a wild card spot, so their chances aren’t very good barring a hot streak or two. Personally if I were the one running the ship, I probably move Harper for the best return possible because at the minimum he will get a Machado level return if not more.

Was a split in Chicago and a series win in San Diego good enough?

Dano: I definitely want the sweep against San Diego, and no, no, no, the split in Chicago was definitely NOT good enough. I’ll accept that as a result if that winds up being how it plays, but I won’t be thrilled about it.

Jack: I said I hoped for a split in the preview, but obviously expectations were raised to a series victory and it was extremely disappointing not to get one. The team must take advantage of opportunities like that, not blow them up.. Need to sweep SD today. They just can’t afford to allow the Dodgers to put any more space between them.

Makakilo: No and Yes.

No, because every win could be the difference maker in determining the winner of the NL West. Division winner has advantages over being a wild card!

Yes, because a consistent offense has arrived! The D-backs have scored 5 or more runs in 9 of the last 10 games. Consistency is key.

Jim: You can never complain about a winning road-trip. But the pair of one-run losses in Chicago were irritating. Especially the series finale, where we were three outs away from taking three of four from the best team in the NL in their home park. That felt like the game Fernando Rodney cost us in Los Angeles last year, and it’ll be some time before I feel comfortable seeing Boxberger come into a game. At time of writing, the Dodgers are losing to the Braves, so if that holds and we complete the sweep, we’ll be one-half of a game back. I’ll take it.

Wesley: I found the split in Chicago to be annoying, we should have won that game had Boxberger not served up a couple of meatballs. The sweep of San Diego does take away the sting of that a little though.

Michael: At the start of the road trip, I would take a 5-2 trip with a sweep of SD and a split of the Cubs without hesitation. However, how they ended the series against the Cubs likely left a bad taste in the team’s mouth. Sweeping a division rival in their own place, regardless of how bad they play, is always a good accomplishment. The team needs to put their boot on the throats of their opponents when smelling a series win and twice let the game get away in the late innings. The Dbacks playoff chances definitely improved though.

Where does Zack Greinke rank in the NL Cy Young race?

Dano: I would rank him pretty high myself, as a baseball fan who gives most of my love and attention to the Diamondbacks. But nah, I don’t see him as a contender, barring postseason glory for our boys. Names and big markets seem to matter as much as anything with the Cy Young these days, so it’ll probably come down to Kershaw v. Scherzer, as it seems to most years. Zack’s been essential for us, though, and the way his recent starts have prevented July from turning into a replay of the brutality that way May have been invaluable. Here’s hoping.

Jack: Jacob Degrom, Aaron Nola, and Max Scherzer are in tier 1. No NL pitcher has cracked that tier yet. Greinke is anywhere from 4th to 6th, depending on your measurement of choice.

Makakilo: Interestingly, ESPN has a CY Young predictor formula. As of today, that formula has the top four as:

  1. Max Scherzer 136.3 points
  2. Aaron Nola 127.8 points
  3. Jon Lester 112.0 points
  4. Zack Greinke 104.8 points

However, the relative standings can change before the end of the season. Every game pitched can add up to 13 points (although 9-10 points are more attainable).

A 12 point bonus is awarded to pitchers on Division winning teams. Scherzer is unlikely to get that bonus, making the race very close.

Greinke has been on a hot streak. When the D-backs win the NL West with a huge contribution from Greinke, the race will be too close to call.

Jim: Firstly, he needs to keep pitching down the stretch as he has done. Last year, Greinke’s ERA in the second half was 0.80 runs higher than the first half, with his peripherals also dropping off. Whether fatigue or not, he needs to avoid a similar drop-off. If he does that, and the D-backs make the post-season, then it may come down to him or Nola. A top three spot is certainly possible, and it’s been a decade since the Diamondbacks have had anyone finish that high for the Cy Young, so would be quite an achievement.

Wesley: He’ll have to finish the rest of the year pitching insanely well, and Arizona will half to make the post-season. It’s unlikely, but possible.

Michael: Top 5, I would consider deGrom the favorite to win the award right now despite his 5-6 record with Scherzer in 2nd and Aaron Nola in 3rd. After that you have Greinke, Mikolas, and Corbin. Kyle Freeland is a dark horse candidate for the Top 5 (should finish Top 10) but due to playing at Coors Field for half of his games probably won’t get the respect he deserves from writers that vote specifically on wins, ERA, and other old-fashioned metrics.

Which commercial during D-backs games annoys you the most?

Dano: Bear in mind, I’ve gotten to be a gunslinger with the remote, and a lot of the games that I sit down and watch in their entirety are on Mondays in prime time, so there’s usually an episode of “Chopped” running concurrently on the Food Network, so I don’t usually experience a commercial for more than a second or three.

That said, I’d have to say that the recent hipster-outreach Taco Bell ad campaign is the worst. First there was that chicken chalupa taco thing that they were pushing, I think. Now it’s nacho fries, whatever the hell that is, with a whole “Dark Knight” vibe. And then there was the one with the crappy nachos and the slo-mo sharing of said crappy nachos? WTF? Stop. Please. Please just stop.

I also have to say, though, in the last week or two I’ve begin to notice a Sonic thing that’s been cropping up involving, I dunno, chicken tenders maybe? It is becoming problematic. Whoever came up with the “flispy” concept needs to be fired. Or possibly shot out of hand. Like, yesterday.

Jack: I watch on Fox Sports Go, so the commercials are even more repetitive than on regular cable broadcast. The Black Bear Diner commercial with the girls whining “Are we there yet” is nails on a chalkboard for me.

Makakilo: Most annoying is when game announcers “drop in” advertiser content while the game is being played. Unlike between innings, there is zero chance to turn down the volume during the commercial. Of course, who doesn’t like free tacos? But even that can be annoying, especially when my local taco place offers aloha instead of free tacos. On the other hand, it motivates me to make my own vegetarian tacos.

Keegan: Just gonna chime in from Mission Beach for this question. The Sol Cerveza commercial. I cannot stand that damn song anymore and now they’ve started to remix it. Like any commercial I probably wouldn’t hate it if it wasn’t played constantly. The fact that the song lyrics are repetitive makes it worse.

Jim: Most local ones are terrible. I’m looking at you, Sanderson Ford, especially the current one with Gonzo about the Alumni Game, and also E.D. Marshall [sorry, Jodie!]. The worst all year though was the horrific one for the Maricopa County Home and Garden Show, which had the fakest “real people” I’ve ever seen in an advert.

Had to come back in during today’s game to add a couple more terrible local ones. The Chas Roberts commercial where Shane Doan is redirecting his daughter’s apartment, is cringe-inducing. Not sure who I feel worse for: him or his daughter. And the Scottsdale Porsche dealer one? Anyone who knows me will be aware I’m not exactly a Communist - but I swear, those people will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Wesley: All the local commercials are awful. I don’t really watch TV and I generally have been following the game via MLB game day and the At Bat app.

Michael: I echo Wesley’s sentiments. I really don’t care for the commercials because I don’t ever spend my money at those places. To be honest, they all suck.