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SnakePit Round Table: Flatline edition

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Yeah, we’re not TECHNICALLY eliminated yet. But...

Coney Island Hospital Emergency Room

Give readers a reason to care.

Dano:

  1. We’re still in it, broadly speaking. I’m not feeling like it’s likely we’re playing post-season ball this year, but we still have a very real shot. So let’s root for that. And if not, we can certainly play spoiler. Not the best thing to hope for, but let’s at least mess up the Dodgers’ path to the postseason, right?
  2. We’ve been living and dying with our team for five long months up to this point. Let’s see it through to the end. If you weren’t a baseball fan, you wouldn’t even be here. Given that you are, see it through along with the rest of us. It may not wind up being all that pretty, and it may not wind up like we wished it would at the start of the season, but we’ve come this far, let’s see it through until the end.
  3. Misery loves company. Let’s continue to do this thing.

Makakilo:

  1. I look forward to watching my favorite players. Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Godley (despite his recent difficulties), TJ Mc Farland, Yoshihisa Hirano, Christian Walker (a great hitter who can play three positions), Ketel Marte (a great contract extension), Steven Souza Jr. (despite yesterday’s fielding, will his 110% effort make him a star?) and Jarrod Dyson (currently on DL but has awesome speed on the base-paths). Watching their stories unfold will be interesting.
  2. The D-backs had some great managers – Bob Brenly, Bob Melvin, and Kirk Gibson. Hands down, Torey Lovullo is my favorite because of loyalty to his players and because of a yoga-like quality – his support for players who clear their mind so they can be their best mentally and physically. “...a mind that is empty with no barriers is going to make them be at their best every single day.” --Torey Lovullo
  3. Mike Hazen has great baseball judgement. He has found and executed amazing trades. In the history of the D-back General Managers, he is my top pick for navigating the future of the team. How will his choices for 2019 unfold? An early look at the 2019 issues and choices is here.

James: The season isn’t over yet. The Colorado series pretty much sounded the team’s death knell, but the reality is, there is still an opportunity for the Diamondbacks to play baseball in October. I’m also watching to see how some players are able to finish out the season. I want to see how Yoshi, Goldy, and Pollock finish up. It will be nice to watch Corbin continue playing for a monster contract. Can Robbie Ray still continue to work his way back into 2017 form as the season closes?

It can also be fun to watch a team play spoiler.

Jack: I’ll always care, but the things I care about the most are rapidly shifting. I care that once they are all but eliminated from the race they start to play guys that may be needed next year. So Brito, the young relievers, etc. I care about some individual accomplishment. It would be great to see Goldy just light it up the last 2 weeks to the point that even being on a non playoff team, he’d have a chance at the MVP. I’d like to see David Peralta get to 30 homeruns, and be rewarded in arbitration for that. He is a great story, and I hope he cops an extra million or so in ARB due to his breakout power season.

Turambar: Beer is good and still relatively inexpensive

Wesley: The more we lose the higher our first draft pick will be next year?

Jim: Underwhelming baseball is still better than no baseball at all.

Clay Buchholz’s season ended with a recurrence of the injury which ended his 2017. Is that a red flag for the team trying to re-sign him?

Dano: Maybe. I still think we should try to keep him. We shouldn’t pay too much, but another minors deal or something suchlike doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. And he’s been good, far better than we had any business expecting him to be. Keep him around, if we can afford it.

Makakilo: Buchholz has a long and unusual injury history. Several injuries are likely to recur, including his flexor tendon. He is 34 years old. I would not re-sign him.

James: On the one hand, the injury means that Buchholz might now be affordable for the Diamondbacks. On the other hand, it’s beginning to look very much like his arm is just no longer up to the stress of a full season of pitching. I had my doubts that Arizona was going to bring back Buchholz for 2019, simply because I felt he was lining himself up for a bigger deal than Arizona could gamble on. With the injury though, I would not be opposed to Arizona taking a very low-cost flyer on him, especially if they could manage a split contract, or even a straight minor league deal.

Jack: Depends on what the diagnostics really showed. If they think he can pitch next year, they offer him a 1 yr, 4M deal, with innings incentives, and an option for 2nd year. If any more than that, it would have to be because they are very confident he can pitch at least 120 innings next year.

Jim: Given how much of an impact the issue had on Buchholz last year, it would behove any prospective employer to be thoroughly cautious. This doesn’t APPEAR to be as significant an issue, but it may well be the case that he ends up not signing until spring training. He has already had several eight-figure salaries, so it’s not as if this blew his one shot at a payday, but he pitched as well in this half a season as at any time in his career, reinventing himself to make better use of lower-tier stuff. But without health, it’s all meaningless.

Beyond the Box Score had a piece on A.J. Pollock’s injury issues. What kind of contract do you see him getting as a free-agent?

Dano: Given how free agency went in the 2017-2018 off-season, I don’t see him getting a particularly long deal, or a particularly large guaranteed paycheck. Unless he re-signs with us, which would be great, I think, at least in some ways.

Makakilo: An unaffordable contract from the view of the D-backs. Perhaps the injury risk can be taken into account by a contract with incentives or a future-year vesting option based on games played.

James: Pollock still has something to prove over these last two weeks. His earlier injury, coupled with his slump hurt his free agency standing. Still, he is far and away the best outfielder not named Harper that will be available on the market and he is able to play center field - and well. The better he can finish off the season, the better his eventual deal will be. I still think giving him a QO is a no-brainer. Even with all the time he missed, combined with his slump, he’s still going to out-earn a QO. I think he winds up eventually getting a somewhat complicated deal, but one that could earn him as much as Lorenzo Cain signed for.

Jack: I think Pollock gets 3/45- to 3/48. Any longer in years or higher avg annual will be tied to playing time incentives.

Jim: This was not the contract year I was expecting, especially after a storming early start. In terms of bWAR/game, it’s Pollock’s worst season since his rookie year of 2012. Still works out at about three wins over a full season. There are a lot of big free agents on the market, so I would be inclined to suspect he is more likely to be a fallback option once the likes of Bryce Harper are off the market. Jack’s numbers seem credible, though if the market is as tight as this year, might be on the high side. He turns 31 before Christmas, and there just wasn’t the demand for players of that age last winter.

How much responsibility do you feel Torey Lovullo has for the team’s slump?

Dano: Some, I expect. I am not inclined to hang a whole lot of it on him, though. He makes his rest-day choices and so forth kind of randomly, it seems, But a lot of this business is play-it-by-ear, so we take what we can get,

Makakilo: First of all, it’s a team effort and every member shares responsibility. That being said, Lovullo has done his job extremely well, both last season (NL Manager of the Year), and this season.

This season’s high expectations were largely based on how much the team exceeded expectations last season. Nevertheless, the team was in first place for much of this season.

GM Hazen knew the team needed more, but his additions did not help as much as anticipated. So Hazen shares responsibility.

Yesterday, seeing the Astros play, I thought, “This is what a playoff bound team looks like.” This season, the D-backs haven’t always had that look.

James: Only some. The reality is, the players stopped performing once they took the field. Lovullo cannot play the games for the players. They need to step up when their names are called. I do have some questions with how he has used the resources available to him since roster expansion. I do place more of an emphasis on the team’s troubles since September 1 on Lovullo than I do for the earlier stretches of difficulty.

Jack: The collapse of the team was a team effort, and Torey played his role. There were, as always , some questionable strategic decisions. Perhaps there was a lack of a sense of urgency in early/mid August when they needed to take advantage of the softer part of the schedule. It’s easy to fault him for sticking with guys too long, but as has been shown in the pen, almost no matter who he went with, failed him when it mattered most. It wasn’t only Archie and Boxberger. How much he had to say in the initial roster construction is unknown, but clearly the roster construction choices, (3 catchers, an all veteran bullpen) created limitations.

Jim: I think his biggest flaw was perhaps being too loyal to the players, despite Jack’s comments. I’d certainly have shuffled the roles in the bullpen considerably sooner, and if those late leads in Los Angeles hadn’t been coughed up, the whole direction of the season might be very different. But, “what if…” Certainly, what (little) I’ve seen seems to indicate this is a team now deeply committed to playing downhill baseball...

More playoff teams this week, in the Cubs and Rockies. Is Arizona going to show up?

Dano: I actually don’t give a crap about the Cubs. This week is all about the series with the Rockies, I think. We need to beat them.

Makakilo:

Cubs. Last series with the Cubs, the D-backs split the series, providing the D-backs with hope for a series win. The D-backs will show up and play hard! But will they win?

Rockies. The D-backs lost an extremely disappointing 4-game series with the Rockies. To quote a movie, “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worran, [that loss] shall be avenged!” Will the D-backs exact their revenge? ….And the same applies to the Dodgers!

James: With the way this season has gone, I expect one of two things to happen. Either the Diamondbacks will finally roll over and die, or they will play just good enough to keep them in the hunt, but without making a hard charge. They really need to go 2-1 against Chicago and sweep the Rockies to get themselves back to a good place. I don’t see that happening, especially now that Buchholz is out of the rotation. Stranger things have happened though. This team has gone from good to bad and back again almost with the flip of a switch all season long. One more flip to being a good team like they were in April and they will still win the NL West.

Jack: They are done and they know it. The Buchholz injury was the last straw. They know they are not good enough. I think they will play “hard” but I doubt they will play “sharp” or focused baseball.

Jim: I’m expecting very little. Be nice for them to win a couple of games in a row, so I can actively watch them again. But I’m not sure that will happen this week, and perhaps not until the final series of the season against the Padres. I’d almost prefer for them to roll over against the Rockies, being in the “anyone but LA” camp.

The football season is underway both for the NFL and college. How interested are you?

Dano: I have a couple of fantasy teams, so I am paying attention. Beyond that, I don’t really care. Rotten game, too many inevitable head injuries,

Makakilo: Zero interest. Instead I will be focused on the off-season for baseball.

James: It’s hand-egg season already? No wonder the bars have been so packed on the weekends, forcing me to go to the Cornish Pasty Co. instead.

Jack: Moderately. I am in one FFB league…..didn’t even want to play but it’s a long term keeper league and they couldn’t find a replacement. I only wanted to follow the NY Giants and their rookie running back this year.

Jim: Zero. Was limited in the NFL, even before it got turned into a political football, and the whole “college sports” thing remains a enigma to me. I always thought colleges were for education? I will probably enjoy laughing at the Cardinals, however.