We’re returning to what we used to do last year, with a guest contributor each week, with Justin27 and Gamepass this week’s contributors. 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.
Overall, rate the D-backs’ moves.
Sean: I have to give an A here. The team clearly has a vision and they are not trading players just to trade players. It seems like Hazen is only making moves when we’re getting a big return; just look at how we kept Robbie Ray since no one would meet our price.
I mean, we got 1.5 years of Leake for $6 million and a low grade prospect. Like, how is that possible?
Steven: Around a B+/A-. The Greinke trade was just about as good as you could expect with 2+ years and all that money still left. You could make a case that each of those guys could play for the D-backs in 2020. I’m torn on the Gallen/Jazz swap. Yes Gallen has been excellent and has plenty of very cheap control left, but even if Chisholm never figures out his strikeout issues he’s still on track to be solid contributor at shortstop. Even more so if everything turns out. Leake is whatever, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him traded or sent to the bullpen.
Makakilo: A+. These trades reduced risk and improved the team. The team stuck to its plan of adding starting pitching. In this situation I liked their approach of offering other teams take-it or leave-it offers.
- They traded away an aging-Greinke, which eliminated risk of Greinke injury or Greinke ineffectiveness. They traded away 2+ seasons of Greinke while they added up to ten seasons of Corbin Maybin and JB Bukauskas. They improved the team with two position player prospects. $53 Million can be “reallocated” to improve the team. And it was a win-win trade because it increased the odds that the Astros win the World Series.
- Although Mike Leake’s ceiling is low, he will reduce pitching risk with traits like “consistency, pitchability, strike throwing, durability” (traits listed by Mike Hazen). The cost was very low in dollars and a low prospect. And an intangible win-win was that Leake very much wanted to play for the D-backs.
- Risk was reduced when they traded away Jazz Chrisholm for Zac Gallen. Chrisholm was high ceiling (tools) and high risk (strikeouts) prospect. Zac Gallen is lower risk because has shown he can play well the Majors. “The depth of Gallen’s repertoire, which he commands with precision, as well as the way his fastball plays up because of underlying components, is going to make him a good big league starter.” – Eric Longenhagen
Turambar: I give it a solid A. I’ve been preaching from my soap box to whoever would listen that our first and only priority heading towards the deadline was to build towards the future of this team. Hazen did just that in about every move he made.
The Grienke trade brought back solid to good prospects to flesh out or farm system. The Gallen deal got us a young rotation ready and controllable arm who is ready now and beyond. Finally the Leake deal got us a rotation anchor for the heft year and a half while we figure out where to plug and play our plethora of young pitching.
So yea. I think we did just fine, though obviously it’ll be at least 2yrs before we know for sure. Also any move to hurt the Dodgers is always fine by me.
James: I think I rate their moves at an A-. I’m a bit bummed that they have given up on Chisholm’s extreme upside. By the same token though, they were (and sort of still are) in desperate need of controllable starting pitching. I’m not quite as sold on Zac Gallen’s upside as some are, but I think he profiles just fine as a #3/4 starter that the team can run out there for the next five seasons, assuming they don’t improve upon him. I would be a bigger fan of the Greinke deal if there was a bit more certainty in the return. I’m not entirely opposed to the Greinke deal, but I’m also not in the camp buying into the notion that Greinke’s salary was stopping the Diamondbacks from being competitive. He was earning his salary. Injuries and underperformance, along with a lack of talent in the upper minors has as much to do with the Diamondbacks’ lack of strong competitiveness as Greinke’s salary did.
Justin27: I am actually really pleased with it. We gave up JRM, Greinke, 2 prospects and got more prospects and 2 SPs for immediate and future need. Leake won’t be here after next year, I think, but Gallen will be. I know it was just likely how the trades were released to the media, but I thought it was interesting that the first one was the Gallen trade (thinking Clarke’s replacement.) Then, about 20 minutes later, the Mike Leake trade (Huh? Wait, what? Something has to be going down? Ray?) THEN THE BOMBSHELL at about 1:05! Got us to think.
Gamepass: Overall, I’d say an A- to a B+; over all pretty solid. Addressing the first part, to get 4 players from one of baseball’s top farm systems, 3 of them ranked in the top 5, and save more than 50 million of what was owed Zack Greinke’s contract was huge. Although it will be a while before we see Martin because of TJ surgery, he profiles as a top of the rotation pitcher. The other 3 are at or very near MLB ready at present. Bukauskas is a bottom of the Rotation starter, Seth Beer is a power hitting 1st Base/corner outfielder, and utility infielder Jose Caballero, who kind of reminds you of a Cliff Pennington type player.
Secondly, I really like the trade of Jazz Chisholm for Zac Gallen. Jazz was having a frustrating season after his promotion to AA, as the pitchers discovered some major holes in his swing. He may have figured it out and been fine, but I think that the Marlins gave up more than they got. I had just read a few weeks ago that Gallen would not be made available in any trades. He is a strike thrower who gets a ton of strikeouts, (in AAA). The sample size in MLB is only 7 games, but he seems to be on the same track in the Majors. Finally, I think getting an innings eater like Leake for the price was a good move especially after loosing our veteran Ace.
What will you remember of Zack Greinke and his time here?
Sean: I already wrote a very lengthy article about my appreciation for Zack, but it’s just about how truly unique and good at baseball that Zack Greinke is. How masterful he is as a pitcher with diminished stuff, that he has three homers as a 35-year-old, how he has the third-most steals among active players without ever getting caught…
There will never be another player like Zack Greinke.
Steven: The absolute shock when I realized the D-backs actually signed him and even more shock when I saw the dollar amount that came with him. With that contract came enormous expectations and for the most part he held up his end of the bargain.
Turambar: I’ll remember his signing and how that told me that Kendrick, though not the greatest owner, at least is very much wanting to win. Obviously it didn’t pan out, but I was happy to see us in the mix with the big boy franchises to attract free agents.
As for his playing time here, I just loved how he’d rake at the plate. First time I’ve ever seen a pitcher who was a legit threat even to HOF guys like Kershaw.
Makakilo: In the first month of this season, Greinke hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, and home run). Not done by a pitcher since 2011, it had never been done by a pitcher in the first month of the season.
James: My memories will be bittersweet. The team went out and made a statement signing, only to turn around and shoot themselves in the foot immediately after. They gave the man a record contract that no one believed he could live up to, yet he did. Instead of capitalizing on that level of performance, it was squandered while the team tried to piece together the rest of the roster shopping the bargain bins and attempting multiple reclamation projects. Now he is gone and the Diamondbacks have precious little to show for his time here. Meanwhile, the return for trading him away is a minimum of two seasons removed from having a real impact.
Justin27: Poise. The feeling that, “today could be the day something special happens.” And really not just the pitching aspect....hitting and fielding too! I wonder if inside he is disappointed he can’t hit anymore. His first start for the Astros looks like it will be against the Rockies. At least you have that April :)
Gamepass: So many great memories, his consummate professionalism, knowing you had a good chance to win every 5th game… His adjustments on the mound, and the way he worked his way through the game. My favorite Zack Greinke game was his 2 homerun game this season against the Padres… But there were a few not so great ones too like him getting totally shelled by Trevor Story in his debut. Or how he could never dominate the Dodgers.
Should the team have done more at the deadline?
Sean: No. I would have liked to see more in theory but no other deals were at our asking price and I’m glad we held to it. Hazen’s approach of keeping us solid in the interim while building for the future is getting better and better.
Steven: I don’t think they have the starting depth to make a serious run. Adam Jones is going to be your starter the rest of the year, the bullpen is still in shambles, and you’re going to be coming up against these IP limits for most of your rookies, especially Gallen. I just don’t see one area on this team that will dominate.
Makakilo: No. I blame the Yankees for not accepting the D-backs’ offer of Robbie Ray for prospects. Clearly the Yankees emphatically needed another starting pitcher to have a chance against the Astros. Another reason is that the Yankees’ Doyle-number was 2.16 (source). Per that Doyle number, the Yankees should have been willing to sacrifice 2.16 future WAR in exchange for every WAR they added at the trade deadline.
Turambar: Nope, Hazen did just about all he could without uprooting everything.
James: There are other moves I thought more likely to happen, but not ones that necessarily needed to be made. The reality is, most of the trade assets the Diamondbacks had possessed little trade value. The team set a minimum price for Robbie Ray and no one wanted to meet that price. Better to keep one of the better lefties in baseball than to move him for a sub-optimal return.
Justin27: No, I don’t really see how. For Ray, I think there wasn’t a deal that Hazen felt like he could pull the trigger. Dave Stewart would have made a deal to make a deal. I know Hazen didn’t exactly have big shoes to fill, but I am liking him as the GM.
Gamepass: I know some were advocates of a complete teardown. Personally I am happy that the strategy is a slow rebuild rather than years of terrible noncompetitive baseball. With the mix we get some games like Saturday’s stomping of the Nationals, or the earlier stomping of the Rangers. If you tear down and basically have the Reno Aces trying to compete in the big show, you don’t get that. In fact, you rarely see a win in the MLB. They did more at the deadline than I expected, but really improved the rotation 4 and 5 slots, as well as restocking the farm.
How many wins do you now see the 2019 D-backs finishing at?
Sean: 80 to 85 wins. I don’t see the combination of the trades making us worse despite the loss of Greinke. The projection systems have us around .500 still and I can buy that.
Steven: 80 wins. It took mammoth season’s from Marte, Escobar and Greinke to get them to .500 and I don’t expect that kind of run to continue.
Makakilo: 81 wins. Explanation follows:
- My pre-season prediction was a Pythagorean 85 wins, plus an additional 4 wins above Pythagorean for two reasons: first; a team dominated by middle performers will outperform and second; Greg Holland would be better than Boxberger.
- Instead, I now predict 4 wins below Pythagorean for two reasons: first; through August 2nd the team was 7 wins below Pythagorean and second; because Greg Holland is no longer better than Boxberger.
- Through August 2nd, 558 runs scored and 500 runs allowed would project 85.44 wins at the end of the season, close to my predicted 85.
Turambar: 81. Can’t seem to shake .500 one way or another.
James: My gut tells me 79 wins. I am really holding out hope for 82+ though.
Justin27: 75-79, I personally don’t think this team was as bad as a 70-92 record (sorry DC).
Gamepass: I said they would be .500 or slightly higher in the pre-season poll. I’ll stick with that assessment. They have been a .500 team thus far. (Unless they can face Strasberg every night.) I think they have a chance at the Wild Card, but it all has to fall correctly to happen.
What did you think of the reports linking the D-backs to Nevada?
Sean: Not really my thing, so I won’t comment.
Steven: It’s just another piece of evidence that tells me Owners and higher up members of the organization have a focus they care about and it’s not the fans.
Turambar: Due diligence. That’s all. Just like the stadium artwork I broke a while back Henderson is just one of MANY options the team is weighing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Portland or another city gave them a call too. The Dbacks are fleshing out their options like any other business and I doubt they’ve seriously thought of leaving the state.
Makakilo: Nevada has a huge downside. If the D-backs moved to southern Nevada, their games would be blacked out to Arizona residents. The D-backs would likely lose most of their existing fans and the team would become similar to an expansion team.
James: I would be far more worried if the Diamondbacks were actively looking to move and had initiated this entire chain of events. However, it was Henderson that reached out to the Diamondbacks, knowing that they wanted to land a MLB team and that the Diamondbacks were somewhat ripe for the poaching. It would have been irresponsible of the Diamondbacks to not follow-up and see what was on the table. As for he “We haven’t forgotten about you” email, that tells me Derrick Hall was busy enough doing other, no-relocation things that it took him more than the usually polite amount of time to respond to the people in Henderson.
Justin: As a diehard Coyotes fan used to all those relocation rumors.... But seriously, my first thought was, it was a ploy “we’ll threaten to leave, then Maricopa will HAVE to give us a new stadium!” (as far as the Coyotes, I don’t see then leaving, if they were going to relocate it would have happened when the NHL owned the team/sold it. I do wish they were in a city that better appreciates them)
Gamepass: At first I was shocked, but on further reflection, it is just the state of professional sports today. There were similar stories about the Suns when they were trying to get the deal on their arena. I look at it more as a leverage chip, and maybe I’m being cynical… But I see it as an attempt to get public support to having a publicly funded stadium project, to keep the team in AZ.
What are the best and worst things about summer?
Sean: Now that I live in Indiana, summer has a much different feeling than it was when I lived in Phoenix. Summer is the best time of year here as it’s rarely above 90° F and you can be outside almost every day. And the nights are absolutely incredible… sometimes you even need a jacket.
The worst thing is that all the rain and storms can make doing things outside a hassle. I’ve had several flag football games cancelled due to rain. We got about 11” of rain in June and it caused a lot of problems in my yard. Usually the rain is awesome but it does turn into a problem when we get too much.
It’s about as opposite as Phoenix as you can get.
Turambar: Best: driving up north to Flagstaff. Worst: Not being able to drive up north to Flagstaff.
In all seriousness by mid August the heat starts to make me cranky.
James: The best things are baseball and not having to ride herd on my children to get them out to school almost every morning. Also, I love monsoon storms. The worst thing about the summer is the damage the sun and oppressive heat seem to do to everything they touch, including me.
Justin27: Best- Monsoon season. Well, if we HAD a monsoon.... -glares menacingly at the sky-
Worst- Summertime hours at Frys. Going from easily getting 35-40 hours Sept-April, to getting 30-34 hours. I’m making several dollars more than minimum wage and it’s tight for me sometimes.
Gamepass: Best is of course baseball… Even bad baseball is better than the 6 months we have to go without it. As far as the worst… Insert every email list of the worst parts of Summer in AZ here.