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Snakepit Round Table: The Drugs Don't Work edition

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PEDs came close to home for the Diamondbacks this week.

MLB: JUL 17 Diamondbacks at Rangers Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Discuss Domingo Leyba becoming the highest-profile Diamondback to fail a drugs test.

Michael: Pretty much my entire thoughts on the situation can be found in the Snake Pit post about it yesterday.

Jack: I’ve been trying to work through his thought process. Perhaps, and of course I’m totally speculating, he looked at his standing in the organization and on the depth chart, and figured his only shot to jump the queue was to bulk up and hit with more power. So he took his ill advised shot at it. Obviously he made a terrible choice, but the incentives are pretty obvious.

Turambar: Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. It sucks for him and the Dbacks, and he’ll likely never suit up in Sedona red again.

Makakilo:

  • Intent to cheat. It appears that Boldenone is injected, which tells me the drug was taken knowingly.
  • Being caught was predictable. It appears that Boldenone can be detected more than a year later.
  • Age and talent may not be enough. On my list, his prospect rank was between 26th and 32nd. Of the top 40 prospects, no position player was older than him. Because of his age, this season may be his last chance for success on the D-backs.

Steven: It’s sad he and those close to him thought this was the correct course of action to make the leap to the MLBs. Domingo has had a rough time as a professional; an early trade, success and slow methodical rise through the ranks only to stall out by injury. He’s still young and hopefully, this is an eye-opening experience for the youngster.

James: I’m just left wondering if he is going to become a poster child for the eventual reward being worth the shorter-term setbacks. I mean, he had to know that such an obvious substance would be picked up in a test. It stays in the system for a very long time compared to others. But, if it got him over the hump and he eventually lands a regular spot on an MLB roster, will it have been worth it?

Will he play for Arizona again?

Michael: Probably, although he’s buried on the depth chart in the middle infield.

Jack: I don’t think he’ll ever play for the Diamondbacks at the MLB level again.

Makakilo: Unlikely.

Steven: I think so, but he’ll need to show a considerable amount to stick on the 40-man. If his contract isn’t renewed he’s still only 25 at seasons end, so plenty of time left to show something for someone.

James: Not at the MLB level. With Vargas, Rojas and Young all ahead of him on the depth chart now, he will have his work cut out for him. Ahmed and Marte aren’t going anywhere, meaning the line is not exactly poised to move.

The D-backs lost eight spring games in a row. Spring doesn’t matter, but are you even slightly concerned?

Michael: Not worried, the at-bats are significantly better this week. Pitching has slipped a little, but overall these guys will figure it out.

Jack: No. As part of my duties recapping games of course I had to talk about the losses and them getting beat. But I think they are likely an 80-85 win team and on the outside looking in at the playoffs anyway. Did an 8 game spring losing streak make me think they are headed for 90+ losses? No of course not.

Steven: Only concerned about the fans losing interest early because of all these losses, even if they mean nothing.

Turambar: Meh. It’s Spring Training. I’m not gonna read in to games at all until they really count.

Makakilo: No concern. Last week, I wrote that focus and intensity (parts of the mental game) are priorities in spring training. Expanding that thought, spring training should address a few ideas from The Playmaker’s Advantage:

  • Practice focus shifts and quick micro-decisions. “ …switch focus of attention from ‘internal’ to ‘external’ focus was the key competitive advantage…”
  • Combine physical and mental stress to improve the brain’s estimation of fatigue. “…a tired brain can slow athletes down…”
  • Be quick to respond to opportunities and threats. “…pay attention, be in the moment, and respond to his environment…”
  • Figure out ways to help the team win. “…adopt his game to the players that play with him…”

James: I’m not concerned about the team, yet. These games are just an opportunity for them to get ready to play. I’m more interested in this team avoiding any big injuries as they work these final weeks before the season starts. I am a bit concerned that a dismal showing in spring training might scare away fans of what should be a fourth consecutive competitive team.

What players have stood out for you, in a positive or negative way, so far this pre-season?

Michael:

Positive: Zac Gallen, Nick Ahmed, Kole Calhoun, Ketel Marte, Andy and Alex Young, Carson and Merrill Kelly. I haven’t had any issues with the guys expected to make the team or first wave of callups

Negative: Non roster guys, but they’re non roster guys for a reason

Jack: I’m not a scout, so it’s always tough to gauge these things from a couple of looks in a few spring games. Going a little off book here….I think that John Hicks is tempting them a bit to go the 3 catcher route again. Robbie Ray has looked pretty good, both physically, and his stuff and velocity. He’s got the contract year edge it seems. Whether it carries over into the regular season, and translates to 180-200 highly effective innings is anybody’s guess. The odds favor Ray will be who he’s been, which is about average. That’s always going to leave some wanting, Average major leaguers that more were expected out of are always disappointments to fans.

On the down side, I didn’t see anything out of Bumgarner yet that gives me the warm and fuzzies. You just have to hope he’s not on a steep downward slope stuff wise. He still has 19 days to get ready for opening day.

Steven: The hitters have been solid this Spring, with just about everyone touting MLB roster numbers. You hope it carries over.

Like Jack mentioned, Robbie Ray has looked just about as good as you can in Spring. Everyone else? Not so much.

Makakilo: Trayce Thompson and Jon Jay (both signed on minor league contracts) have hit better than I expected, adding interest to the race for backup outfielder.

  • Trayce Thompson: He seems to have fixed his hitting (as demonstrated in spring training against 7.7 quality pitchers). His spring training on-base-percent is 18% better than AAA in 2019 (.348 vs .294). His spring training slugging (.650) is 67% better than his minors stat and 53% better than his 202 games in the Majors.
  • Jon Jay: His spring training batting line is (.350/.381/.450/.831) through 7 March. “...he’s helping everybody get better around him, he’s a great teammate.” — Torey Lovullo
  • Tim Locastro: “A ton of energy, an understanding of what he’s supposed to do per at bat. He’s a great teammate and he’s an offensive catalyst. When he gets on base, there’s a really good chance we’re going to score a run.” — Torey Lovullo
  • Josh Rojas: Single most improved ZIPS projection of any player in baseball. Seems capable of playing all positions except CF, Catcher, and Pitcher. “We’ve got to make sure that we have as many positions covered with backups. We’ve got to make sure we have some versatility, not just playing one position.” — Torey Lovullo

Although small sample size applies, pitchers Robbie Ray and Jon Duplantier stand out.

James: I like what I have seen out of Duplantier. I really hope he gets a chance to stick as a starter and get his innings in, even if that means spending more time in Reno. Last season was unkind to him. I really want to see what he can do if he gets into a rhythm. I like what I am seeing out of Ray with regard to trying to take that next step. I’m not concerned about MadBum, but I would be more comfortable if he could avoid any further terrible outings.

Turambar: I’ve not had too much of a chance to follow much of Spring Training thus far (prepping for wedding), but I like what I’ve seen from Varsho, though I’d rather he never catch again.

Our minor-league affiliate in Missoula launched a campaign to save the team. What is your take on the MLB vs. MiLB battle?

Michael: It’s a topic worth noting, especially if you’ve read The MVP Machine, because as teams are figuring out how to better train hitters and pitchers there is less of a need for more affiliates. Missoula seems like the one affiliate that could be on the chopping block if the organization wants to downsize. I’m neutral on the topic at hand, I think at the end of the day the best players will eventually emerge from the system one way or another.

Jack: It probably is not a great thing for the people that live there. Their population of 74K is less than that of Avondale. It’s a beautiful area for outdoors people, but there can’t be much to do there when it comes to entertainment.

Steven: Unfortunately that’s what happens when you do business with millionaires. They use you until they see fit, and toss you aside like nothing at all.

James: It’s no secret that I have long supported having a robust farm system. I would prefer they keep the team around, both for the development potential and because these minor league teams in smaller communities could be key to helping to grow the game.

Makakilo: James is correct that a robust farm system is valuable. Expanding on that idea - the minor league teams contribute to culture and way-of-life. Missoula is worth keeping.

“It is not Major League Baseball’s goal to eliminate any club in these negotiations [to renew their operating agreement], and MLB currently has a plan for every club to continue operations with support from Major League Baseball,” — MLB spokesperson.

My guess is that some clubs will be required to implement improved training methods (per Michael’s comment), and other clubs won’t be asked to make changes but will be stripped of their Major League affiliation (making their survival problematic despite MLB’s intent).

You are now an expert in the last thing you googled. What is your expertise?

Michael: I am an expert in the Minnesota Twins schedule for the month of June.

Jack: Edited: I just googled the word Complacent for a refresher on various usages. I’m definitely qualified to be an expert in complacency.

Makakilo: COVID-19 (the emerging pandemic). Now that the United States has a higher capability to test people, there are infected people. Who knew? Wisely, about two weeks ago I purchased 2 super-sized bags-of-toilet-paper because today the store has none left.

Steven: Google Flights. Turns out I’m now qualified to charge people money to find them airline deals.

James: I guess I am suddenly an IT expert when it comes to website maintenance..

Turambar: Guess since I usually google some obscure Warhammer 40k reference or another that I must be the most schooled person ever in the grim dark future of that world. Yes, I am a hype nerd.