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SnakePit Round Table: To Manny, or not to Manny?

That is the question... There are other questions too, though!

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Minnesota Twins Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The D-backs’ have had a miserable home-stand. Are you concerned?

Turambar: Starting to be. I’d rather not revisit the doldrums of May again, so let’s hope it doesn’t spiral down that path again. Honestly though with Miller, Ray, Souza and AJ all back we were gonna be do for some kind of issues and each and every one of those players tries to fit themselves back in. Timing sucks for sure though and it sucks being out of 1st.

Wesley: I’m concerned with how hot and cold the team has been. We’ve had two months where we’ve been fantastic sandwiching an awful month of May. Now we’re having another ice cold month.

James: I am a bit concerned. The Padres should not be causing this much difficulty for a winning team. The San Francisco Giants are a team with all sorts of injuries, making them another team that Arizona should have gotten fat on. Mostly though, I am concerned about the way the Diamondbacks have been losing games lately. The pitching and defense, the two strong points for this team all season long have been coming up short. Poor starting pitching (especially Shelby Miller) with some sloppy defense backing it up, has led to some losses that just shouldn’t have happened.

Jack: I’m always concerned. It’s my natural state. The inconsistency of this team is hard to fathom, even in a game where streaks and slumps are the norm. It’s not just streakiness though. There are too many weak bats on the team, and most of those weak bats are underperforming even their modest projections.

In fact, if one were to subjectively define “black hole” as 50 or more PA with B.A. below .200 and OPS below .600, the D Backs, with 6 such players, have more than any team in MLB. Just as important, our key NL Pennant rivals , i.e. Dodgers, Giants, Braves, Cubs, Braves and Phillies have NONE. (Brewers and Nationals have 3 apiece)

PI Report

At the same time the pitching is showing cracks, which is why Godley’s start was so important. Miller needs to step up, Ray needs to be more consistent, and Corbin and Greinke need to maintain. Unless the offense can improve a great deal the team will become increasingly dependent on this rotation to pitch great, even more than they have to date.

EDIT: Written before Saturday night’s 20 run outburst vs. the Padres. PI report updated, but that game didn’t move the needle

Makakilo: I am not concerned. With the return of players from the DL, the D-backs offense seems to have turned the corner and is scoring runs more consistently. It’s been awhile since the offense scored two or less runs (30 June). When D-backs scored 2 or less runs:

  • April: 6 games with 2 wins
  • May: 16 games with 1 win
  • June: 5 games with 2 wins

Makakilo UPDATE: Today’s twelve scoreless innings (5th through 16th innings) against the Padres has me wondering should I be concerned about scoring consistency?

Should we trade for Manny Machado?

Turambar: Sure, why the hell not? It’s been talked about ad nauseum on this board; trade the future for the present. That’s essentially what we have to do to get Machado and honestly I side with Shoewizard on this one. In that I’d rather trade for the chance at a ring this year than squirrel away our maybe-kinda-sorta prospects. With AJ, Corbin, Goldy and others all potentially gone in the next couple years it’s a “win now” moment while our core is still around.

Wesley: I think the Diamondbacks are a good team, and are quite capable of winning the NL West. However, I am going to play devil’s advocate here. This would probably really upset the fanbase, but I think I think we should do the exact opposite of trading for Machado, and that’s Floating Pollock, Corbin, literally anyone with two years or less of team control onto the trade market. I don’t think this team is necessarily good enough to win the World Series, even with Machado. I don’t want to see what little good talent we’ve assembled in the farm team traded away, only for us to lose a one game playoff or get swept in the Division series.

I think we’re in the position to get some serious talent in return because we don’t have to make trade, unlike Baltimore, where Machado being traded is a foregone conclusion. That being said, if we are going to make a trade for Machado, I don’t want to see a package that’s better than what we gave up for J.D. Martinez. If we are going to do it, we might as well just go for it and make sure we are in the best possible position to win in the playoffs, and acquire more than just Machado. It’s win big or go home.

James: Like most things in life, it depends on the price. I’m not comfortable parting with Duplantier for Machado. Trading Duplantier is punting on the 2019 season before the front office even has a chance to try and keep this team competitive. On the other hand, with Baltimore still needing 2-3 seasons to finish their retooling, I could see the Diamondbacks trading from their crop of other AA or A+pitchers with high upside. In that case, I’m probably fine with trading for Machado. I’m still not sure just how much Machado makes a difference for this team, but a stronger lineup with improved corner defense certainly isn’t going to hurt Arizona’s chances of winning the NL West. The Diamondbacks were on track to win the first Wild Card berth in 2017, even before getting J.D. Martinez. I do believe that a healthy Arizona team can win the NL West in 2018 without Machado.

Jack: Everyone knows how I feel about our offense, restated above, and inserting a bat like this in the middle would go a long way to correcting the problem. In fact I worked the rest of season projections, inserting Machado, reducing Lamb’s PA by ⅓ and Ahmeds by ⅔, and taking out Marrero altogether. The team Position player OPS rises 20 points from .759 to .779. But it is sounding like the Orioles have unrealistic expectations for the kind of return they can get, so it may be a moot point. I get the sense that the team has made a pretty good run at it, but Baltimore is holding out for more than Hazen is willing to give. This is speculative reading between the lines of the public reports. I also read that the Dodgers supposedly have the best offer on the table, but that was a Baltimore writer and the Orioles may be leaking propaganda.

Makakilo: No. Trade rumors wrote that 7 teams have made offers. My impression is that the bidding will result in a high price for Machado – and the team that gets Machado will lose the trade. This trade is different than the low-priced acquisition of JD Martinez. Three bidding wars that the D-backs “won” are Shelby Miller, Zack Greinke, and Yasmany Tomas. Each “win” had a significant downside.

Does the team keep faith with Shelby Miller?

Turambar: I sure as hell know I wouldn’t. We don’t have the luxury to “rehab” him in the middle of a pennant race. Heck! I have not clue why we picked up his option during the offseason at this point. I wish him luck, but let’s all be honest here, that young pitcher with years of control we traded for a couple years back has been a dud with only very faint glimmers of something more. So in closing if we struggles in yet another game (Padres start aside) then see how Buchholz is recovering is move Koch back in.

Wesley: I’m with Turambar here, if he struggles in another start, then you look at other options. I actually think that if there’s one place that Shelby is going to succeed, if at all, it’s going to be in the bullpen. On the other hand, I think it might just take him a couple starts to figure it out, but we don’t need him to be doing that while we are trying to win the division. A healthy Duplantier I think is the next pitcher we go to.

James: The team already signaled they were all-in on Miller when they offered him arbitration. I have a feeling he gets at least two more starts. Like Shoewizard was saying elsewhere though, it sure would have been nice for Miller to have to earn his way back to the 25-man roster. Since being acquired by Arizona, he has done nothing to warrant being a de facto part of the rotation. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. Even in Atlanta, he was somewhat of a hot mess who found luck in the way his stats shook themselves out. I don’t think there is any chance the team scratches him from his next expected start.

However, if he doesn’t show up by posting a dominant outing, I would hope the team looks at moving him back to Reno to work his way back to the team. By then, Buchholz could be ready again. If not, the team can rely on Matt Koch for a bit longer. The team could also the focus of trade targets from Manny Machado to another starting pitcher. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind Hazen checking in with Texas to see what it would take to get both of Bartolo Colon and Keone Kela.

Jack: He has to get results. Thats the bottom line. He needs to go out and pitch a game of 6 innings, 1 or 2 runs allowed in his next start. (OK, next start in Coors, so 6 IP, 3 runs is good) No more moral victories. If it’s another start, even like the last one, where he “threw well” but doesn’t put the team in a position to win, they have to remove him from the rotation. I think his rope is slightly longer than I’m willing to give, especially since next start is in Colorado. But 2 more bad starts in a row, and I bet they pull the plug.

Makakilo: No, not in the rotation. After 3 starts, his ERA is 9.0 – an awful result. The most charitable comment was that he was better in his third start (with a 1-game ERA of “only” 5.1). However, better is not the same as earning a spot in the rotation. The bullpen would give Miller the best chance of success.

Which D-backs will make the NL All-Star roster? [Asked before the rosters were announced on Sunday, obviously!]

Turambar: Meh, Descalso.

James: I’m guessing one of either Archie Bradley or Yoshi Hirano goes. Paul Goldschmidt was too cold for too long to make up the ground needed to make the team at first base. Freeman and Votto are going to make it difficult for Goldschmidt to get a first base nod, though he could end up in through alternate balloting.

Wesley: Yoshi is a good possibility I like

Jack: I think that Goldy is selected for bench by Roberts. Greinke has 9 wins and a 3.36 ERA. Managers like those kind of stats, he could get picked. But Corbin actually has lower ERA (3.05) and more WAR than Greinke, and more importantly he has pitched really well against the Dodgers this year. (3G, 18.1 IP, 0.98 ERA, .115 B.A. against). So that probably left an impression on Dave Roberts.

So I think it’s Goldy, and either Corbin or Greinke.

I heard that Torey lobbied Dave Roberts for Daniel Descalso when he sent in his recommendations, but his recent slump probably knocked him out of consideration.

Makakilo: Although Paul Goldschmidt was my choice in a previous round table, now I want to add Descalso. Ken Rosenthal wrote, “I just wish I could find a spot [in the All-Star game] for Descalso, who is one of the game’s best utility men and a big part of the D-Backs’ success.”

We failed to sign our first-round pick. How annoyed are you?

Turambar: Who?

Wesley: I’m particularly annoyed, but less so since the Dodgers failed to sign their first rounder too. I really don’t get why he didn’t sign. McClain wasn’t even projected to go in the first round, and I had heard that we should easily be able to sign him for slot. It is unfortunate, but maybe that’s a good thing. In addition to the normal first round pick we’d have, and the competitive balance picks we have, we’ll also have a compensation pick for McClain not signing, and possible compensation picks for Pollock and Corbin leaving via free agency. So depending on different factors, we could have a very deep draft next year.

James: I’m rather annoyed, but I confess I do not know who in particular to be annoyed with. McLain has known for over a year the Diamondbacks were targeting him. The DIamondbacks have been following him loosely for at least that long. How did it never come up that he was going to want to sign for a great deal more than anyone had him slotted for? It’s not as though he had a reasonable expectation of being a top-20 pick, which is what he would have needed to be in order to get the sort of money he asked for. Did Boras give him poor advice? Did McLain and his family simply decide that UCLA provided a safer path for development for draft consideration again in 2021? Did the Diamondbacks fail to do their due diligence?

I think the not knowing is a big part of what annoys me. What also annoys me is that the Diamondbacks have had one of the weakest farm systems in the game since they promoted Paul Goldschmidt back in 2011. The best way to fix that is through strong drafting. This team, under too many different front offices, has just been a model in failure with the first round of the draft since the Goldschmidt promotion. The three first round pick (so far) that have panned out are all with other organizations. Pavin Smith is already becoming a concern. As a mid-market team, the draft needs to be a primary source of talent infusion, and the first round needs to be a reliable source of talent. So far, that is not happening.

Jack: Frustrated for sure. The Nick Piecoro Article article stated clearly that they knew his demands before he was even selected. They thought he was bluffing. He wasn’t. It was a questionable selection in the first place, a reach, selecting a guy in the first round nobody had ranked inside the top 50. This added piece of information makes it all the more damning to me. This organization keeps screwing up first round picks. They just can’t afford to do that. Now we get to wait till next year and see if they can correct these mistakes. They’ll have the chance. They need to come through. It’s going to be a long wait.

Makakilo: In 2015, Derek Ladnier said he looks at ingrained character traits in players, as well as whether they were on a winning team: “Yeah, there is, and it’s just one of those things where, when you’re drafting a player that has been a winner, that then continues to be a winner, because they’ve got those character traits…”

McLain certainly had an abundance of confidence to turn down such a great offer. Maybe that confidence is an ingrained characteristic that the D-backs are looking for.

If I was director of scouting, I would have an overall plan to obtain players who could contribute to the D-backs over future years. Within that plan, I would have proprietary indicators of success that are underappreciated by other teams. Those indicators could be physical attributes and/or character attributes. Two insights follow:

“A fool sees not the same tree [baseball prospect] as a wise man.” William Blake

“A man’s character can be learned from adjectives that he habitually uses in conversation.” Mark Twain

What are you looking for in Colorado and in Atlanta?

Turambar: Wins would sure be swell. Seriously though, with how we’ve played in recent days I’m just hoping our lineup, with all the returning additions, starts to round into a ball mashing squad. Maybe a trip to CO is just what Souza and AJ need to get those cobwebs off their bats and get this team’s mojo back.

James: In Colorado, I am looking for the Diamondbacks to bury the Rockies for good. Arizona needs to win the series and hopefully sweep it. Atlanta is much stronger than anticipated this season. Basically, they arrived at their destination of competitiveness a season early. Since I am looking forward to seeing Arizona in the playoffs this season, I want them to play well against Atlanta, a likely postseason opponent. Arizona cannot afford to get swept in Atlanta. I would like them to actually win the series. However, so long as the avoid the sweep and are fully competitive in all the games, I can live with that.

Jack : To get out alive, in one piece with no more major injuries.

Makakilo: Consistent offense.

How do you beat the summer heat?

Turambar: Head north to Flag as often as I can. I’m lucky I can use my parents place up there and if I have an open weekend I’m hopping on the I-17 and zipping on up there.

James: This year I fled to England.

Jack: Lots of time in the pool, and as much travel north as I can manage. Next Snakepitfest needs to be at Turambar’s parents place in Flag. ;)

Makakilo: Sit on my bench under a plumeria tree, feel the trade winds, listen to myna birds and bulbul birds, and drink a cool glass of water.