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SnakePit Round Table: It’s dead, Jim

It’s also dead, Jack, Wesley, James and Makakilo...

Rockhampton Residents Return As Flood Waters Recede Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

The D-backs were eliminated on Sunday. Thoughts?

Makakilo: Last season, attending the wild-card playoff game was maybe the best experience in the universe. It was an awesome experience I will always remember.

Darn, this season is sunk. I am concerned – did the D-back window of opportunity close? Which season will be my next opportunity? Maybe I am so happy in anticipation that my disappointment matters little.

In the Battle of Mobile Bay, Admiral David Farragut shouted “What’s the trouble?”...”Torpedoes”. He shouted “Damn the torpedoes. Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed.” -- Wikipedia

This season is in Davy Jones’ Locker, four bells and full speed ahead for the D-backs!

Jack: It’s been over for a while now, so this just finally seals the season. In that regard it’s anticlimactic. And at least we won’t need to hear any more Dumb and Dumber quotes.

James: Mostly, I’m just sort of relieved at this point. Although today marks mathematical elimination, this season has been over for about two weeks now. At least with the team being officially done, I can stop trying to convince myself, “It’s not over yet!”

Wesley: I can’t say I am all that surprised. Although I wanted to be optimistic about our chances this year, hence predicting that they’d finish close their pythag w-l of last year, I had the feeling early on that this wasn’t our year. That is why I felt that tearing the team down and selling high on certain players like Pollock and Corbin and getting most for them while we could. I feel like we missed an opportunity there and could have gotten a lot back at the deadline. I am more disappointed that the team didn’t build towards the future than I am that we didn’t make the playoffs.

Jim: If you’d told me on Opening Day, the team would be in first place at the start of September, I’d have been delighted with that. Of course, given April and June, this end result feels rather less satisfying than it could have been. But it’s still more time in first place than the team spent over the previous six seasons combined. It’s better to have loved and lost...

Why has the team fallen apart in September?

Makakilo: It has been said that if a team makes it to the playoffs, anything can happen. That may not always ring true. Based on how the D-backs have played against teams in contention, the D-backs were unlikely to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.

However, it took some less-than-stellar play in critical series to sink the D-backs. It is easy to imagine alternate universes where some different decisions could have kept the D-backs in contention. The biggest factors were lack of consistency and lack of ability to adjust to achieve success.

Jack: The 162 game season is designed to show a team’s strength and weakness, and to test their depth. This is a decent team under the right circumstances. But the style of play they are trying to engineer on the cheap, (run prevention model with just enough offense) is hard to sustain. Moreover, while it will keep you in a lot of games and allow you to be competitive, it’s stressful. And not only for those of us watching. I think we saw the result of the cumulative stress , especially on the bullpen and on the defense. But also the hitting underperformed projections, by a lot, exacerbating the stress levels to the point of breaking. And they broke.

James: Jack already hit most of my thoughts right on the head. This is a 162-game season. With such a long season, every team is going to be stressed on every front at some point. This team’s two biggest flaws eventually cost them the season. Their offense simply did not have enough oomf, largely from right field and second base, and the team’s lack of MLB-caliber depth up and down the roster also hurt. The starting pitching, a team strength, had to rely on the likes of Matt Koch, Kris Medlen, Tony Scribner, and Matt Andriese to start games as well as pinning some hopes on a healthy return of Shelby Miller.

The bullpen was pieced together by turning to out-of-options veterans with one leg in the grave. When injuries and ineffectiveness hit the pitching staff, the Diamondbacks didn’t have the MLB-caliber depth to respond. When the offense started slumping, they had AAAA-talent at best to turn to in order to try and jump-start things. Too many games were simply too close, meaning that even the smallest mistake or missed opportunity to cost the game. This is in turn resulted in a team that simply didn’t have enough gas in the tank to make it through all 162 games.

Wesley: What James and Jack said. Our offense was really missing JD’s bat down the stretch.

Jim: The team always seemed phenomenally streaky, even during the first half - contrast April and May, or May and June. The bullpen chose the worst possible time to implode, during the series in Los Angeles at the end of August. If Arizona had been able to hold on to the three late leads they had there, I think September might well have unfolded very differently. That series seemed like one of those tipping points, where parallel universes split off.

What might have been done differently?

Makakilo: Although the D-backs busted their budget, maybe the D-backs could have mortgaged the future by blowing up the budget to the moon to add better players at the trade deadline.

Jack: There are a many causes for why the team fell short. As Mak mentions, budget. I allude to roster construction in the answer to previous question. Spending even more would help, but it’s not guarantee. Perhaps not trying to be so revolutionary with the tunneling hitting approach which I believe failed them. Better bullpen roster construction and construction with less concentration of games pitched in 4 main guys. But that would mean a couple of spots occupied by guys with options and more or a rotation. And the team chose to go the veteran bullpen route at the beginning of the season. I think we see that change. Bottom line though, is without better hitting, and more consistent offense, they never really had a chance. This was exposed in May and it was only a matter of time until it got exposed again.

James: Roster construction. I’m actually seem to be one of the few fans out here that has no real issue with the team’s three-catcher system. Sure, I would have loved to see more production out of the catcher’s spot in the lineup. However, none of the catchers is on the roster for their bat. The trio did what they were expected to do behind the plate, and they didn’t break. On the other hand, the bullpen was filled with out-of-options arms and the rotation was built from the beginning with a heavy lean towards Shelby Miller coming back healthy and effective. Needing to trade for Jon Jay, almost out of desperation is the sort of thing that happens when there is a lack of depth, but it happens, especially when the team is down three starters. However, a better option for the 5th, 6th, and 7th starters would have been nice. Also, and possibly the biggest thing, having flexibility in the bullpen would have helped. If the core four in the bullpen could have been used about 25-30% less than they were, I strongly believe the Diamondbacks are playing in October.

Wesley: I think the biggest flaw is that there was the illusion that we could really contend this year. I think trying to contend was a mistake, and we should have been looking towards the long run and building towards the future, instead of half-heartedly trying to contend. I know hindsight is 20/20, but I was calling for a fire sale and selling high on certain players very early.

Jim: I think given resources, there probably wasn’t too much more that could have been done in the way of roster construction. I do think Lovullo proved to be too loyal to both Boxberger and Bradley: right from the first outing after the break, it was obvious Archie wasn’t the same guy. But I don’t know what could have been done differently to gee-up the offense. It’s not as if we have any prospects waiting in the wings. Abandon that whole three catcher thing though. When none of them are hitting, we could certainly have used more Christian Walker.

Who do you want to see win the NL West, and why?

Makakilo: Rockies because I like cheering for Nolan Arenado, …and any team but the Dodgers.

Jack: I’ll be rooting so freaking hard Monday thru Wednesday to beat the Dodgers each day. The team needs to sweep them. They just CAN’T roll over and let them clinch at Chase field. That is the insult to injury that I just can’t accept.

James: After today, there are only two options, and I’ll never root for the Dodgers over any other team in baseball, unless the Dodgers winning is the only scenario in which the Diamondbacks make the playoffs. So I’ll be pulling for the Rockies. That’s not a bad thing though. They’ve been on my short list for over 20 years now.

Wesley: The Rockies. For obvious reasons.

Jim: #AnyoneButTheDodgers, all the way to the World Series. I would be intrigued by a Yankees-Dodgers World Series, purely to experience what it’s like to be a Yankees fan.

What do you want from the final week of the season?

Makakilo: I want to hear the crack of the bat as Christian Walker hits more home runs. And it would be great to hear sounds from the bats of Goldy and Souza and Marte and Peralta and …

Jack: Anyone who is a free agent who they do not intend to re sign can take a seat as far as I’m concerned. Except they should let AJ Pollock play in the final home game. He’s been here his entire career and deserves a bit of a send-off.

James: I want to see the call-ups get significant playing time. I want to see a good send-off for A.J. Pollock and Daniel Descalso (but more Pollock). I want to see the Diamondbacks defend the pool and force the Dodgers to clinch in San Francisco.

Wesley: A send off to Pollock, and seeing as many of our young players to get a chance to play. Bench the vets and put an all rookie team out there.

Jim: Let’s see if we can get a winning season. We need to take four wins over the final six games to make that happen: series wins over both the Dodgers and Padres would at least give us an upbeat note and avoid the team’s worst September ever.

What would you do if you couldn’t use the internet or watch TV for a month?

Jack: Road Trip!. Pack up the car, go hit the road and find some fall foliage. Travel to watch some live playoff baseball along the way. Bring along plenty of good books to entertain me in the evenings. I don’t read enough non fiction these days. Back before the internet I traveled a lot in China and S.E. Asia. If you weren’t working and weren’t out partying, then the only other entertainment was reading. I loved reading novels of adventure and mystery. I miss that and need to get some more balance back in my life in that regard.

Makakilo: I made a quick list:

  • On my bookcase is a baseball that Paul Goldschmidt hit into foul territory. Make a label for it and laminate the label.
  • Have lunch at the Honolulu Museum of Art and see some art.
  • Chip away at a rock in the yard until it looks like a baby shark.
  • Read a book that is waiting for me, but I have been ignoring.
  • Go the mall and listen to people talk.
  • Add more yoga practice.

James: No television is easy. No Internet would be rough. I’d need to hope that things like making bank deposits and bills getting paid had a non-Internet way of happening. However, if we assume that life manages to accommodate no Internet for a month, I would read. I would read a ton. I might, if I had the cash, take a weekend trip somewhere relaxing where I could take a few books with me. When I wasn’t reading or playing with my kids, I’d probably be hosting RPG sessions so that my active imagination could find some release. Or, I might just scrap all that and read instead.

Wesley: No internet would be much harder than no television. Thankfully I have lots of ebooks and music downloaded,so I’d be good there. Probably go camping, hiking, or go see my brother and sister in Reno. Perfect the recipes in the cookbook I am writing. Work on my garage which is really in need of being organized and cleaned. Work on my garden. Make sriracha and pickles and fun stuff like that.

Jim: Read. A lot. And also get through the unwatched DVD pile, some of which I know have been sitting there since at least 2001! I actually quite like the idea of going back to those days; it’d probably seem very strange for the first few days. Not sure I could get Mrs. SnakePit to sign off on the idea though!