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SnakePit Round Table: Of decades old and new

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Goodbye, 2010’s. Hello, 2020’s!

A LED display celebrating 2020 during the demonstrations. Photo by Willie Siau/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

One division title and two playoff appearances in the 2010’s. Good, bad or indifferent?

Michael: You can officially list me as a bad vote considering how dysfunctional the organization was prior to 2017. It’s hard to measure how competitive they were, because the Dbacks had to deal with the Giants when they went on that 3 championships in 5 years run in the front part of the decade and the Dodgers winning 7 straight division titles to close the decade with back to back NL pennants in that span. The team missed opportunities to win the division in 2012, 2017, and 2018 with only a Wildcard and 0-3 NLDS record to show for them. The most disappointing part is the best three-year run with the team was the past three seasons. I think the 2020s will be better than the 2010s.

Keegan: Mediocre. 793-827 record from 2010 through 2019 for a .489 winning percentage. Back-to-back .500 seasons in 2012 & 2013. Win loss records reversed in 2016 & 2017 and nearly almost did so in 2010 & 2011. Despite the highs and lows I still define it as mediocre. The franchise lacked a direction for much of the decade and pissed away a ton of talent (Max Scherzer, Justin Upton, Ender Inciarte, Adam Eaton). I’ve at least got confidence that won’t happen again this decade, provided that ownership is patient with Mike Hazen. Let him build the franchise in his vision. The largest glaring mistake in my opinion, as James has stated numerous times, is that ownership did not expand payroll further than they did after Zack Greinke was signed. Dave Stewart, as terrible of a GM as he was, was handcuffed having a majority of payroll tied up in only three players (Greinke, Yasmany Tomas, and Paul Goldschmidt).

Makakilo: In the last three seasons, the D-backs rebuilt their sustainability while either contending or reaching the playoffs – that seemingly impossible achievement shines brightly. The last three years were so amazing that despite 4 of 10 seasons with less than 81 wins, and despite 8 of 10 seasons without reaching the playoffs, the decade was good.

Steven: Pretty disappointing considering they had a perennial MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt for more than half of it and paid a lot of money for another. Hiring Dave Stewart all but sealed their fate as a mediocre team over the decade.

Jack: Considering the payrolls that were run out there this decade, and the upheavals and bad decision making with regards to baseball operations personnel during the first 7 years of the decade , we couldn’t expect any better. So bad.

Turambar: When one keeps in mind just how all over the place our Front Office has been this last decade I can honestly say “meh”. From bad trades to bad signings we still managed to tread water and even look good at times. Hazen makes me confident the next decade will at least have a direction and a plan, now let’s just see if he can make good on that…..

Wesley: I would say for the first half of the decade, the team was cursed to frustrating mediocrity. Since the Hazen era has started, I think this team has a bright future ahead.

Outside of Paul Goldschmidt, who was your team MVP for the last decade?

Michael: I’ll name a position player and pitcher: Nick Ahmed and Zack Greinke. Ahmed stabilized the shortstop position and has improved his bat to the level where he’s a borderline All-Star level player. Having a rock at SS and 1B really helped the Diamondbacks shore up their infield defense over most of the decade considering the turnover at the 2B position and Lamb being inconsistent at best over at 3B. On the pitching side, Greinke gave the Diamondbacks credibility as a team who could make a postseason run (had decent chances in 2017-19). When Greinke was on his game, the only thing that prevented the Dbacks from winning were lack of offense and/or bad bullpen.

Keegan: Easy, Pau…. oh. Zack Greinke is the most obvious non Goldy selection. If you replace his 2016 debut season with a career average one for him, that massive contract looks like more of a bargain than it already did. You can’t really overstate his evolution as a pitcher as he aged. He’s a no doubt Hall of Fame caliber player, and I’m glad we had the privilege to watch him every fifth day.

Makakilo: After Goldschmidt, three players were close contenders for near-MVP of the decade.

Of the three, Montero contributed the best postseason performance. Combine that with the intangible value of a great catcher, and he ranked highest behind Goldschmidt.

Miguel Montero:

  • Regular Season: Estimated 17.85 bWAR (11.4 offensive plus behind-the-plate his 64.5 FRAA was worth at least 6.45 bWAR).
  • Postseason 2011: he caught 5 games with a total of .202 WPA (mostly due to 2 RBIs) in the NLDS.

Zack Greinke

  • Regular season: Estimated 18.7 bWAR (16.4 defensive, 2.2 offensive, and 0.9 baserunning BSR was worth about 0.1 bWAR).
  • Postseason 2017: he pitched 3.2 innings (4 ER) in the NLWC and 5.0 innings (3 ER) in the NLDS. His total WPA was negative 0.13.

AJ Pollock:

  • Regular season: Estimated 21.4 bWAR (14.7 offensive, 6.7 defensive).
  • Postseason 2017: he played 34 innings in CF with a total of negative .03 WPA.

Steven: A.J Pollock was a stud for most of the decade, playing good defense at a premium position and hitting over .800 OPS. Sure we missed on Mike Trout, but Pollock was an absolute stud for the team over 7 years.

Jack: Wins Above Average, (not replacement) as D Back 2010-2019

  • Goldy 26
  • Pollock 12.1
  • Greinke 10.6
  • Marte 6.8
  • Young 6.8
  • Peralta 5.8

I don’t use BP’s WARP because FRAA is an inferior defensive metric to either rDRS or UZR

Turambar: Just Dingers was probably the most fascinating to watch, despite the short time with us this last decade. In all seriousness though I think Greinke was the 2nd most important player this last decade. Especially when you consider how he quelled all doubters after his initial lackluster season with us; turning into a transcendent force both on the mound and at the plate.

Wesley: I think everyone has mentioned the few I would mention. Loved JD. Grienke was superb. Corbin I think deserves mention, as he was the pitcher who pitched the most through the 2010s with the team.

Who’s your way-too-early pick for MVP of this decade?

Michael: Ketel Marte is the obvious choice if you ask today when considering he’s under control through the 2024 season on what could be the most team-friendly extension in franchise history. Regardless of position he settles in at, I have him giving the team about 20-25 WAR for the decade (depending on how much 2B or CF he plays). For players on the MLB roster right now options include Carson Kelly, Zac Gallen, and Madison Bumgarner. Moving onto Kristian Robinson is another obvious candidate given he’s the top prospect (link that list if you want) and has, by far, the highest ceiling of any player on the farm. With the timeline I’m assuming, Robinson will be under control through 2028 and play 7 seasons in the decade at the minimum. Other prospects worth mentioning include Corbin Carroll, Drey Jameson (if you’re into shutdown reliever prospects), Matt Tabor, and Geraldo Perdomo.

Keegan: How early is way too early? Bypassing an obvious naming of Ketel Marte, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Kristian Robinson. As Jack said recently, GM’s love “their guys” and Robinson is a “Hazen guy” having signed out of the Bahamas in 2017. I hope it’s not just me being over excited about him because I’ve been keeping track of him ever since then, and I don’t follow the minors as much as others. Getting excited about his future brings out the fan in me.

Steven: By virtue, the easiest positions to forecast are the premium positions, so CF, SS and SP. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Geraldo Perdomo. A plus defender who gets on base is valuable as all get out and is a safe bet since who knows where Marte will play.

Makakilo: My way-too-early pick is Zac Gallen. When Mike Hazen traded away Jazz Chrisholm for him, that told me that Zac Gallen must be awesome. In 2019, he had the lowest ERA of any D-back starter (excepting Walker’s 1-inning start). His ceiling is high, and he could be in the rotation for the entire decade. In August, Sean Testerman wrote this article. In December, he wrote another article.

Jack: I’ll go the optimist route. Kristian Robinson arrives early, (late 2022) and by 2023 is already banging on the door of stardom, and by 2024 is established as a premier power hitting outfielder in the NL. He ends the decade with 200 homers and several all star appearances. All of this hinges on him cutting his K rate without sacrificing power. This is still in the realm of possible due to his age. If he gets to age 21 with the same K rates, then they are probably hard baked though .

Turambar: Marte. It’s not even close. As long as we’re contending these next 10yrs he’ll have a shot for SEVERAL league MVPs.

Wesley: One of our core pitching prospects is going to turn into a stud. Be it Duolantier, Widener, Fallen, et cetera. Kristian Robinson is toolsy and talented as hell, and is an easy pick for a position player, but I’m going to go with Varsho, just assuming he stays at catcher. Or some guy none of us are mentioning, but none of us will be surprised by.

Will the D-backs still be playing in Chase Field at the end of the 2020’s?

Michael: I don’t think they will, but they will stay in the area. I get the sense that the team wants a smaller (probably 10-15k less seats than the 49k capacity at Chase) ballpark as part of Keeping Up with the Joneses in terms of new stadiums. The most talked about location was on the Native American land near Salt River fields due to its proximity to 101 and the two major business centers in the metro area outside of Phoenix proper. I still like the location of Chase as is given it’s darn near close to dead central in the entire metro area.

Keegan: I’m inclined to say that they will be, but I think that the new stadium venture will be announced close to the end of the decade. They’re not going to get funding from Maricopa County that much we know. I can’t imagine that the City of Phoenix would want to contribute either, so the only way the team stays in Downtown Phoenix depends on how much potential they see in the mixed use development of the surrounding area. Let’s be realistic, they haven’t done much down there in 20 years so it would require a significant investment from the team itself. Maybe that investment is both cheaper and more lucrative than building a stadium elsewhere. I am fairly certain that they will not be leaving Arizona regardless of what happens.

Steven: Bye bye Chase, hello Talking Stick Stadium. For only being 20ish year old, it’s an eyesore. It’s kind of like an older car, yeah you could fix it up, but at some point you just want something new you know? There are plenty of attractive options for the Dbacks but that land near Scottsdale is where they have their eyes set. If we get a couple more playoff appearances, they’ll have leverage to do whatever they want.

Makakilo: Very complex question. The possibilities are:

  • Extend the Chase Field lease for about 5 years at-a-time. Live with the downsides/limitations of the stadium and the downsides/limitations of working with Maricopa County. 20% probability.
  • Buy Chase Field from Maricopa County, renovate it. Buy nearby land and add mixed-use venue. 60% probability.
  • Build a right-sized and sustainable stadium elsewhere, including the mixed-use venue. 20% probability.

Jack: The Dbacks will fail to secure 3rd party equity funding to build a new billion dollar stadium and will have to do renovations to Chase field and stay downtown. Ken Kendrick sells the team in 2024 or 2025. By the end of the decade new ownership will have exhausted resources maintaining Chase and will threaten to move the team to Nevada if the county does not pony up for another stadium. This will not happen and the team will try to move. But MLB will vote against the move. With papered over repairs and renovations, Chase Field will end up being one of the least desirable stadiums in MLB with no easy escape.

Wesley: Either they’ll end up on tribal land, or what Jack said.

What do you want to see from the team over the next ten years?

Michael: Mike Hazen as the GM for all of them, he’s doing exactly what he needs to do in order to build up a more sustainable contender. He was able to turn Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger into Ketel Marte and 1 good season from Taijuan Walker then managed to land two building block pieces in the Paul Goldschmidt trade two years later. 2017 and 2018 drafts were fairly average, but home runs in the 2017 international free agent class and the 2019 draft by the organization gives the team a potential core through the 2nd half of the decade. Hazen should aggressively shop Eduardo Escobar, Christian Walker, and Robbie Ray at the deadline to see what type of offers they get fully knowing he can afford to walk away if he doesn’t get the deal he wants.

I’d also like to see payroll increases to the $140MM+ range, which may be wishful thinking on my part, to allow the team to also build up at the MLB level as Robinson, Carroll, Thomas, Varsho, Perdomo, and Tabor hit the MLB level in the 2021-2023 seasons. Free agent signings like Bumgarner is exactly the type of moves they should be making in free agency. Those types of players help to set a stronger clubhouse culture and a more competitive team. While I’m not sure about the payroll increases, Hazen does a pretty good job of identifying the right type of player he wants and making sure he gets him.

Keegan: I think Michael hits the nail on the head on this one. Give Mike Hazen patience to construct the franchise in his vision. 2021-2022 may be a pair of rough seasons considering the amount of roster turnover there should be, but maybe not because of how much free’d up payroll space will exist. Regardless, ownership has to stay the course if it takes a stumble to figure out the roster makeup beyond those years.

Steven: I want Kendrick to sell the team to an owner that actually wants a winner and not year to year growth. We lucked into Mike Hazen, let’s make sure we keep him and his chosen generals for the long haul. Bad, season-long stretches can happen, it’s a part of the game. So let’s not overreact to them and take them in stride.

Makakilo: Ten playoff seasons, a top five farm system, and several players whose upside performance surprises even an optimist.

Jack: New ownership that is willing to invest in the team’s payroll to allow smart GM”s like Mike Hazen a margin of error.

Wesley: A sustainable playoff contender throughout the decade, and at least one works series.

Turambar: I’d be thrilled to see at least one World Series appearance, and if I’m being super optimistic perhaps one WS win.

What unsolved mystery would you most like to know the answer to?

Michael:

Keegan: I’d like to know if D.B. Cooper ever made it out alive. For those of you who don’t know, he “hijacked” a commercial passenger plane in 1971 for a $200,000 ransom. Once he had the money (and parachutes) from the authorities, he allegedly jumped out of the back of the plane never to be seen again. A portion of the ransom money was found along the Columbia River by a child in 1980, but the vast majority of it remains missing. Human remains were never located for D.B. Cooper, so nobody knows if he survived the jump from the plane or not. I can’t deny that I’m a fan of his style. He didn’t physically harm anyone, although he probably scared the hell out of a couple people. It was a ballsy heist that could never be replicated in modern times. I’d like to think he made it out alive.

Makakilo: Have aliens landed on earth? If they did, did we communicate with them and what technology and information did they share? How are aliens different than humans? Do aliens have sex or do they clone themselves? If aliens don’t exist, what the heck was Roswell about?

Jack: This is definitely an age related thing, but I still want to know for certain who killed JFK, and if it was Lee Harvey Oswald , was he acting alone or with support?

Wesley: Aliens. Or the many mysterious disappearances I could list off. Or if any of the conspiracies out there are true.