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SnakePit Round Table: Is there a draft in here?

Now with guest contributors!

Lobster Jockey Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

We’re returning to what we used to do last year, with a guest contributor each week, beginning with Rockkstarr12! If you’d like to take part, speak up in the comments. It’s first-come, first served; questions are sent out on a Saturday, with replies needed by Sunday evening.

What were your overall thoughts on the D-backs draft?

Jack: I liked the process most of all. They clearly were thorough, worked very hard to mesh together traditional scouting and boots on the ground together with all the analytical work they could muster. They got a number of potential high impact players, and went best player on the board for the most part. And they look like they are in good shape to get everyone they MUST sign to sign, (Although that remains to be seen). See you in 3-4 years guys .

Makakilo: I hope the D-backs drafted an All-Star. The two players most likely to become All-Stars are Corbin Carroll and Brennan Malone.

Steven: Sounds like they did a good job, as most everyone in an analysis world loved the draft. The MLB draft is just so weird to get excited about, we won’t see the fruits from this for a couple years now and who knows if this regime will still be involved with the D-backs.

Turambar: Sounds like they did fine, but ultimately we got 3-4yrs until we have any idea at all. Let’s at least hope our farm goes from bottom of the league towards something more.

Charlie: Probably fine. My hot take is that unless it’s your job to be up on guys, the casual fan probably shouldn’t pay attention to anyone until they’ve reached Double-A.

Keegan: It’s always a wild card with the MLB draft. You never know when you’re going to draft a bust early like Stryker Trahan or a late round gem like Paul Goldschmidt or Brandon Webb. On the surface, the most intriguing selections for me were Brennan Malone and Glenallen Hill Jr. Malone has an electric fastball but needs to work on getting more break to his curve. I’m a fan of the Hill Jr. selection because his dad was a former major leaguer. It’s no guarantee for success, but I think there is less risk in choosing a player with an athletic family pedigree.

Dano: Per just about everyone, we’ll just have to wait and see. Seemed fine, though. I liked that they drafted a potential center fielder first. We will definitely need one before too long.

Rockkstarr12: I think we selected some premier draft picks. Lots of quality players with bright futures ahead. I think our scouting seems to be top-notch, so I think we selected well. Now we will see how each player pans out & progresses.

Reports this week Arizona was involved in trade discussions for Mike Leake. Do you like that idea?

Jack: Not really, but I understand it. They are very thin in rotation depth now. The thing that concerns me most is this may be an indication they’re not counting on much from either Taijuan Walker, and potentially Luke Weaver, for the rest of the year.

Makakilo: I like the idea of adding depth in case of injury, especially with uncertain contributions from Godley, Weaver, and Walker. However, Mike Leake was NOT a good choice because he pitched well at the Mariners’ stadium and he has pitched poorly at Chase.

  • 2.95 ERA, 0.9 HR/9, 2019 T-Mobile Park (Mariners).
  • 5.57 ERA, 3.0 HR/9, 2019 Other Stadiums.
  • How well has he pitched at Chase? Between 2011 and 2018, he pitched at Chase five times with an ERA of 6.52 and a HR/9 of 1.5.

Steven: I think they do need more innings eaters so going after a guy who hasn’t pitched less than 160ish or so is a fine addition. He won’t strike 10 guys out or throw quality starts, but to lessen the need for bullpen appearances is fine with me. Oh and don’t forget he’s another #PitcherWhoRakes, and freeing him from the bonds of the American League DH is great.

Turambar: Like Jack says above, I get it, but I’m not big on the idea. Our rotation is perilously thin, and even if Dup or Clarke somehow stick we’ll still need another arm. If the price is right though and we’re not mortgaging our future then I won’t lose much sleep giving Leake a go.

Keegan: As long as they weren’t offering much in return. Although Seattle has been rumored to be willing to eat salary. I would imagine Seattle’s asking price was too high.

Dano: Starting pitching is definitely thin. I was reading something yesterday about the Mariners being ready for a full-on fire sale...if that is indeed the case, we could maybe do better than Leake. But he might do, provided (again, per just about everyone) we don’t have to give up too much for him.

Rockkstarr12: No. I am glad the idea fell through. I don’t think he is all that great.

Do you think the D-backs will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?

Jack: I guess I should just take the advice Steve Gilbert gave me: “Take it day by day Jack” It’s probably also a good idea to listen to Mike Hazen, who Mak has quoted below. If the team is buying, the question becomes what is the price? If they are trading from lower end minor league depth and taking on money, and it’s not money that is going to hamstring the team down the road, then sure, go for it. I’m all for Kendrick investing more in the team payroll. On the other hand if they trade from their still not thicc top 10-20 prospect list to get an innings eater I’ll be pretty unhappy.

Makakilo: I like to think there are always possibilities, especially with a culture of winning. This season is no exception. As long as the D-backs are competitive, I would be a buyer!

GM Mike Hazen is actively looking for opportunities to improve the rotation. He closely monitors/evaluates current players to determine what the team needs. It is likely that the team’s standing in the Wild-Card race (whether it remains “competitive”) will impact whether trades are weighted on improving this season or improving future seasons.

  • “We’re looking at any way we can to continue to improve and help both our depth and our rotation in general,...” -- Mike Hazen.
  • “The players are going to tell us what we’re going to be doing the next month and a half. I don’t think we have clear definition yet.” -- Mike Hazen
  • “We’re really competitive…” -- Mike Hazen

Steven: I’d love for them to sell off some of the fringe and be sellers, because I think they can still be competitive by selling. Short term guys like Adam Jones, Jarrod Dyson, Robbie Ray all could fetch decent returns while freeing up playing time for more deserving youngsters. I don’t know though, I really think Hazen is going to target Starting Pitching and hope his injured players (Lamb, Taijuan, Flores) come back and produce. We still haven’t seen what this team can do at 100%.

Turambar: Oof, tough question. As I type this on my phone, watching the game and puffing in a cigar, we’re only 2.5 out of a wild card berth. So still competitive.

With that in mind I think we’re be buyers at the deadline, but I gotta agree with Jack: at what cost? For though we’re still competing this team still VERY much needs to keep its eyes on the future and can’t keep selling that future away like our previous front offices have.

So if there’s an arm to be had for cheap then pull the trigger.

Charlie: It’s a minor miracle that Leake hasn’t been a D-Back yet, all things considered. I suppose it would depend on Luke Weaver’s arm and if we’ve fully recovered from Meltdown May.

Keegan: Too close to call right now. There are plenty of teams still in the wild card race, D’backs included. Unless Hazen can pull off another J.D. Martinez esque trade in a push for the wild card, I’d be fearful of them being buyers just to fall short.

Dano: God only knows. Last weekend I would have said “SELLERS!” Now that we’ve righted the ship a bit, I find myself mulling whether or not we should be buyers. I think it will depend on how things go from day to day and week to week as we close in on the end of July.

Rockkstarr12: Possibly both, depending on how the team is looking in the standings once the time hits. I really hope we don’t trade Zack Greinke, personal feelings for him aside. He is our ace & unless there’s a big need to send him packing, why do it?

Jake Lamb should return soon. How will he fit in?

Jack: They’re planning on him getting playing time at both 1st and 3rd. My guess is they will ease him in a little slowly at first, playing every other day perhaps, and never starting against lefties. That ship has sailed. He’ll be a straight up platoon player and only face left handed relievers when it doesn’t matter much, i.e. low leverage. If he hits, and his defense is ok, I’d actually expect him to play more 3rd than 1st, and they’ll just slide Escobar to 2nd. If Jake Lamb can’t be an upgrade in the lineup over Ildemaro Vargas (72 OPS+, -2 Fielding Runs), then I don’t know what to say. UPDATE: With the Nick Ahmed injury, there is potential monkey wrench thrown in here. Hopefully he is truly just day to day and no major issues. Otherwise, all bets are off. Also, don’t forget Domingo Leyba is on the 40 man roster. He’s about as ready as he’ll ever be if called on to fill in.

Makakilo: If he can hit well, he will fit in. Over the last year, Jake Lamb has changed his swing mechanics and suffered injuries. Yesterday, he was scheduled to start a rehab assignment – and its importance cannot be overstated. “He’d rather live with a little inefficiency in his swing than get lost in the wilderness searching for how to fix it.” -- Zach Buchanan of the Athletic, May 21, 2019. Will an inefficient swing be his key to success?

Steven: Occasional starts at 1st and 3rd. If it were a full season, he’d be around the 110-120 games played. He’ll at least bat in every game as a pinch hitter.

Turambar: Lambs days as an everyday starter have come and gone. Some reader among you might disagree with me on that but I’m confident in saying that with Escobar’s hot hands and Walker’s rise (not to mention Cron waiting in the shadows) that Lamb will at most be a platoon player from now on.

Keegan: Agree with everything said above. He shouldn’t have an at bat against left handers. Escobar and Walker could use some extra days off. They have a tendency to press too hard without days off.

Dano: Lefty off the bench, spot starter at third base. Assuming Cron sticks around, we’ve got our first base backup covered. Honestly, I wouldn’t be sorry to see him shipped off to some other team.

Rockkstarr12: Platooning first base with Christian Walker.

What do you think of the change in All-Star balloting this year?

Jack: I wonder how many people are really clear how it works. It’s strange that the second election only takes place over 2 days (June 26-27) and then it’s done. And in the 2nd election there is only one vote for one email. I bet a lot of people miss the 2nd election.

Steven: Every All-Star voting process in Major League sports is such a mess and the MLB version is no exception. And honestly, I don’t care enough to vote.

Turambar: Had no idea it changed. That’s how little I care about the All Star game.

Charlie: Directly pulling from the American electoral process, which everyone loves so much, and can’t get enough of, and doesn’t fill you with existential dread, is a sure-fire home run (baseball term.)

Keegan: I’m concerned that many people aren’t aware it has even changed.

Dano: I’m kinda with Steven on this. The only bit of All-Star voting I’ve enjoyed in years has been that last-player-to-fill-the-rosters thing at the very end.

Rockkstarr12: With the way everything seems to be going to electronic way of life, using less paper seems to be the eco-friendly way to go. For the electronically challenged, however, this could be a problem. I, personally, will be glad not to see people carrying bags of paper ballots into the ballpark. I recall how much of a pain in the ass it was seeing people carrying a ton of bags with the ballots in them, along with their usual ballpark bags of things through the metal detectors, taking up even more entrance time on hot days.

What’s your favorite book from childhood?

Jack: Either Lord of the Rings, or Johnny Got His Gun, which I read when I was 12. I was an anti war protestor before I hit puberty. Yes, I had a weird and confusing childhood. I was mostly bummed that I was born 6 years too late and didn’t get to go to Woodstock.

Makakilo: Charlotte’s Web. It is favorite because my mother read it to us children.

Steven: I’m a big Harry Potter fan, as most people are nowadays.

Turambar: Hmmm. I think either the Lord of the Rings or the Count of Monte Cristo were my 1a and 1b favorites. Both propelled me from meh reader in to becoming the avid devourer of fiction I am today.

Keegan: Huge fan of the distopians. 1984. Brave New World. Fahrenheit 451. They were warnings we’ve largely ignored.

Dano: LOTR, probably, though when I was in junior high a neighbor introduced me to Roger Zelazny’s Amber series, which I read and reread throughout those years. So maybe the Amber books.

Rockkstarr12: “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton