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SnakePit Round Table: Is it over?

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Arizona may have avoided the sweep in Milwaukee. But was that enough?

Richard Wagner ‘Parsifal’ - productions:first performance, Bayreuth 1882 Hermann Winkelmann (Parsifal) and Amalie Materna (Kundry) Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Has the fat lady now sung ?

Makakilo: This season, although the fat lady has sung, with the D-backs continuing their journey, there is much for fans to be happy about.

  • A competitive season.
  • A sustainable path.

Wesley: The fat lady sung a while ago. Like Makakilo said, there are a lot of positives. We have rebuilt our farm system, and there’s a lot of players coming up to be excited about. If the front office plays their cards right, we do have a sustainable path going forward.

Jack: Wild Card race is over for the Diamondbacks. They had an outside shot at best prior to the Giants series. But it ended there.

Jim: Yeah, it’s effectively over now, I think. When even Baseball Reference are shaking their heads sadly… There are just too many teams between us and a spot, and not enough games left. Still, the second half of August is probably two months later than I expected to writing this season’s epitaph, so there’s that!

Turambar: Yup, post season chances are toast. Still a better season than I could have hoped for, so there’s that. Honestly for me this season has been about looking towards 2020 and beyond, and we’ve all seen some bright shining stars on our roster. Tomorrow could be bright indeed.

James: Yup. Personally, I thought that the fat lady had started to ramp up her aria after the Dodgers series. Then the Diamondbacks tried to counter. But, in the end, they simply came up short. Their pitching is just too hit-and-miss. It prevents them from going on any sort of sustained winning streak. They would need to run off a streak of 8-10 wins at this point, and even that might not be enough now.

Predict the 2020 Opening Day Arizona bullpen

Jack: As of right now it looks like Archie might stick as closer. He’ll be arb 2, and without high save totals, his salary should be at or a little under 3M. On the other hand I wouldn’t put a lot of money on it either. Old habits die hard. Looking at the Free Agent list of relievers, there is no one that stands out to me as an obvious “Mike Hazen Special” buy low closer. But that doesn’t mean he won’t pick someone unexpected from that list, or make a trade that we can’t see coming.

If they do go with Archie at closer, then I’d still look for them to pick up a veteran setup type reliever that won’t cost more than 2-3 million. Who that may be is anybody’s guess.

Andrew Chafin will be arb 3, and in line to make roughly 2.8-3.0 M. They probably won’t find anyone better for cheaper, so he is a good bet to still be around next year.

TJ McFarland has a 1.45 M option for 2020, or 50K buy out. He hasn’t been very good this year at all, but he’s not too expensive and the team doesn’t have a lot of left handed depth in the minors, so wouldn’t surprise me to see him stick one more year.

Lopez and Ginkel look like they are here to stay. Although, Lopez has had a pretty rough 2 month stretch of regression.

So that’s 5 of the 8 relievers they will carry to start the season. Open competition for the remaining 2-3 spots, depending on who they sign.

Yoshi is a free agent. Maybe they resign him, and go with the devil you know ? But I kinda doubt it. Matt Andriese should be a non tender candidate, but maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part.

Jim: Bradley, Chafin and McFarland look set to remain. I’m not happy with the last, but he’s cheap enough as a left-hander. I’ve been impressed with Ginkel; his funky delivery looks like it will give opposing batters fits in a relief role. Lopez has vastly over-achieved thus far, with a FIP of 4.81, half a run worse than McFarland, so I’m not convinced he’ll stick. I think they will make a run at re-signing Hirano, who’s FIP is a run better than his ERA in 2019. Probably Matt Andriese, simply because he is apparently immortal. I’d like a long reliever, so we may see one of the starters converted to the role, such as Taylor Clarke.

Makakilo: No prediction yet, especially because Hazen will likely acquire a closer in the off-season. However, one note: My intuition tells me that McFarland is a better pitcher than he appears. This season, the Giants scored 14 runs against him in 7 relief appearances. If he had not pitched against the Giants, his stats might have been awesome!

Wesley: I have no clue. I imagine half of our bullpen next year isn’t even on the team yet.

Turambar: Outside of Archie, no clue at all. I just hope Sherfy gets a shot.

James: I’m expecting Bradley, Chafin, and Lopez to start the season in the bullpen. Ginkel and Sherfy might as well, though I have my doubts about Sherfy. I think there is a place for Clarke. I also think that Young could be a second lefty out of the bullpen if he doesn’t win a rotation slot. That’s seven there. If Sherfy doesn’t make it, I’m wondering if they put Duplantier in the bullpen. It’s beginning to look like the organization may be leaning towards doing that, even though it feels a bit premature.

How concerned are you about David Peralta needing a third stint on the IL for the same issue?

Jack: It’s pretty concerning. Shoulder injuries sap power, and that’s clearly been the case. As it was with Jake Lamb. If there is a tear or fraying in there that needs surgical repair, they should get it done now so he’s ready to play in April.

Jim: It has certainly led to 2019 being a lost season for him, and it is clearly a problem that has lingered considerably longer than the team expected. He’ll obviously get the entire winter to rest and recuperate. Hopefully that’ll be the case, and we’ll get him back at 100% for 2020. Fingers crossed he didn’t catch the injury bug off A.J. Pollock before he departed.

Wesley: This is why I wanted to trade Peralta at the deadline. This injury is quite concerning.

Turambar: Very. He’s missed out on tons of meaningful time this season and with the youth movement seemingly at full steam ahead I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll have a long term place in this squad. We’ll see what he’s like next season, but that’s a long time away.

James: I find it concerning because this is becoming something of a pattern with Arizona players. These guys are coming back from injury and quickly going right back to the IL again with related injuries. In Peralta’s case, it has cost him an entire season. They need to shut him down, let all the swelling go away, and get themselves a good, clean look. Then, they need to correct whatever is wrong and focus on him being healthy to open the season.

Is it time to pull the plug on Merrill Kelly and/or Mike Leake? If so, who replaces them?

Makakilo: Four reasons to keep Mike Leake:

  1. This season, he pitched his best in high leverage situations!
  2. His four games with the D-backs is too small a sample to pull the plug.
  3. He is under team control next season with $4 Million of his salary paid by the Cardinals.
  4. He has earned the label Innings-eater. In each of his 10 seasons, he averaged at least 5.9 innings per start.

Jack: No need to pull the plug on either of them for the rest of the season really, although I think the team might insert a 6th starter once rosters expand and give everyone more rest down the stretch. Kelly is probably a little gassed. I know IP totals comparable to Korea, but it’s more stressful pitching in MLB. I don’t have much if any confidence in Mike Leake, but it’s not going to hurt anything to give him at least 3-4 more starts to see if there is anything left to better evaluate if they should bring him back next year or send him packing.

Jim: There’s more or less a lack of credible alternatives, and with the D-backs now out of wild-card contention, to be honest, it doesn’t matter much. Though I would probably rather see the starts given to a younger player who might be part of our next window of contention, rather than Leake. Let the prospects get their feet wet in low-stress outings. But if the team wanted to see that, they wouldn’t have traded for Leake. But he seems to have little left to offer, based on his starts with Arizona.

Wesley: Who else is going to replace either pitcher? Leave ‘em there until the end of the season. Kelly might be a bit gassed, so if you had to, take him out of the rotation and throw some our young arms out there and see what they got. The season is already lost anyway with a month to go.

Turambar: Meh, leave em be. Once rosters expand we’ll get some young arms a chance to cut their teeth in the majors. I’ll worry more about those two next season.

James: Unless the team reverses course and decides to put Duplantier back in the rotation, I say leave them both in the rotation and let them take their lumps, especially Leake. That is, after all, largely what the team picked up Leake for, to eat up innings. When it comes to Merrill Kelly, this is what I was concerned about early on when I was saying I feared for his stamina and for when the league got a good look at him. Yes, he put up starter innings in the KBO. That’s on a different sort of schedule and under far less stressful circumstances. I stick by my initial call, Merrill Kelly is better suited to the bullpen, but that’s a move to be made next season. Let him finish out the year in the rotation if he can make it and go from there. He can then compete for a rotation spot during spring training. If he doesn’t make the cut, they can shift him to the bullpen or unload him on another team looking for a back-end starter to fill out their roster due to injury or something.

Should the team be looking to extend Nick Ahmed?

Makakilo: The D-backs should extend him for 2 seasons beyond free agency on a team friendly contract. If that looks unlikely, trade him while he has value.

Jack: I say 3 yr/30M deal covering 2021-22-23. He probably won’t go for that. Nick is confident in himself. I think he’ll want to try free agency. I think it would be a mistake on his part to turn that down however. DBacks won’t trade him this offseason. They could have an interesting decision on him whether to make a Q.O. for roughly 19-20M If they did, I think he would flip it around and accept the one year deal.

Jim: With the departure of Jazz Chisholm, it might make sense to see if he’d take an extra couple of years, cover the gaps until someone like Geraldo Perdomo or Blaze Alexander is ready to take over. However, with the surge in Ahmed’s offense this year, that ship may perhaps have sailed in terms of affordability. Gold Glove shortstops who hit 20 home-runs don’t hit the free market often, and I suspect Ahmed will get paid.

Wesley: I don’t see the team extending Ahmed, and I don’t see Ahmed signing an extension. I also don’t think Ahmed can’t be replaced. Maybe sign him to a one or two year extension to fill the gap until one of our prospects are ready. I just don’t think it’s a priority when we’re technically in rebuild mode.

Turambar: Hell yea! If we can make a deal that won’t hamstring us going forward then do it. He’s a wizard with his glove and his bat has finally turned in to a respectable threat. Like Jack said though, getting him on a team friendly deal will be challenging.

James: I don’t see how the team gets much of a team-friendly deal if they try to extend Ahmed. That said, I’m not so sure it is necessary for them to get a team-friendly deal. Eventually, the time comes when a team has to pay players according to what they are worth and to not insist that everyone on the team sacrifice their one shot at large earning potential to play for the team. I would extend Ahmed for 3-4 seasons. I would not go more than three years beyond the control they already have. I would aim for a three-year deal, buying out only two free agent seasons. Unless those are big money years though, I don’t see Ahmed having too much interest. I do think a four-year deal (buying out next season and three free agent years) probably gets his attention, especially if they are in the $12 million or more range.

The fact that he is, for this season anyway, one of the top-rated shortstops in the entire game is going to make negotiations tough. Trading him is equally tough. He’s the sort of player that only contending teams are going to have an interest in. Few, if any, of the “top teams” have a need at SS. This is a new golden age for the position. As it is, Nick Ahmed playing in Arizona is making this team better than it might otherwise be. He solidifies the infield defense, something the front office has focused on. That means Ahmed ideally fits the team mold. With that being the case, he is precisely the sort of player to simply pay. The emergence of Ahmed’s bat may not last long, but it no longer feels like a stretch to think he could reach 70-80 wRC+ in a season. That level of offensive production means the team will not be taking a hit in his value from his bat. That means they will realize all three wins above average that his glove provides.

What food will you, under absolutely no circumstances ever eat?

Makakilo: Before last night, sea urchin was on my never eat list. At Kanga-an Buddhist temple, I ate a vegan imitation of sea urchin; it had crunchy noodle spines and shell, and a center of mashed sweet potatoes and chestnuts. I moved sea urchin to my favorites list!

Wesley: I will try anything. Multiple times. I used to hate Uni (sea urchin sushi), and after trying it a few times, it’s become a favorite. As a person with a culinary background, they teach you to appreciate things you might not like right off. Of all the foods I’ve tried, I am not a fan of American bologna and I really don’t like ketchup. I’d imagine that I wouldn’t be a fan of Hákarl, or Surströmming, or all the weird rotting fish dishes out there. I like Thai fish sauce so who knows though. Durian fruit doesn’t sound particularly appealing either. I’d try all of those a few times before passing judgement though. Really the stuff I am iffy about trying, are things that might get me sick and are prepared in unsanitary conditions.

Jack: Having lived and traveled in Asia, Taiwan/Hong Kong/China in particular, but also lots of trips to the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, etc, my resolve on what I’d never eat was tested repeatedly over the years. I expanded my comfort zone much more in my younger years. There are things we here in USA don’t consider “food” that were in fact very popular in my early days. Dog meat in particular was very common and popular in the late 70’s and the 80’s. It’s gradually decreased in acceptability to eat Dog meat. I never would try that. Ever. I pretty much tried everything else….Snake, Frog, all sorts of bids that I don’t even know what they were, and tons of seafood of indeterminate origin or species. As I got older I got much less adventurous.

Jim: I’ve always been extremely conservative with my choices of food. Pretty much nothing with fewer than two legs or more than four! But I think brussel sprouts are probably my ultimate hate, though broccoli and menudo are likely also foods from hell…

Wesley: So now that Jack has said it, I probably would have a problem trying dog or cat. Not into eating pets. My brain doesn’t even categorize either as “food”

Turambar: Nope. I’m pretty much good with anything. I’ve even enjoyed cricket tacos; good shit yo. Probably would never have dog, but I doubt I’d ever put myself in that situation anyhow.

James: Having been a chef for most of my life, there is pretty much nothing I will not try, multiple times and in multiple ways. That said, one thing I steer clear from is that nasty, dark green, so dark it is almost black, somewhat smelly canned spinach. Fresh spinach in salads? Yes please. Wilted spinach as part of some wilted greens beneath my barbeque salmon? Hell yeah! Spinach bread? Bring it (though I do prefer zucchini bread). But that canned stuff is just plain nasty and there is simply no reason for it in my life.

Wesley: Canned vegetables. Also not a fan either. I think James is in the same camp of always using fresh ingredients and not nasty canned or preserved stuff.