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SnakePit Round Table: Summer Training begins

Baseball returns to Chase Field. The world is healing...

Arizona Diamondbacks Summer Workouts Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

So, how’s it going?

Turambar: Pretty solid. Spending our honeymoon up in Oak Creek Canyon at a little lodge; drinking fine ale, enjoying nature and happy to get away from the all encompassing unhappiness that is currently plaguing the world.

Makakilo: Keeping an open mind to possibilities is awesome. I ran out of my favorite potting soil. On Oahu, all Home Depot and Lowes were out of stock. Hardware Hawaii did not have it. On Amazon, sellers with stock would not ship to Hawaii. On-line Walmart claimed to have none in local Oahu stores. Then, while shopping in Walmart, the unexpected happened! I saw a bag of that potting soil filling someone’s cart. I immediately went all-out to grab my new opportunity! I successfully purchased 12 huge bags. It took three trips in my car to take them home. On the other hand, some might say the COVID pandemic turned me into a hoarder. I can live with that.

Jack: Congratulations on getting away for the Honeymoon, Turambar. This is happy news indeed! Personally muddling along here. Wish I could say I’ve taken Bill Murray’s approach from the second half of Ground Hog Day, but in truth I’m falling significantly short of that. Still can’t play guitar, and much like my Vegetable Garden is wilting under the incessant heat of the Arizona sun, spirits are waning. OTOH, the Okra has been the most productive so far, and that went great into the Jambalaya we made. And we had a nice day with Grandkids on July 3rd. So not all bad. Most importantly, nobody in immediate family is ill. So very thankful for that. Sorry not more upbeat. But Jim asked…..

James: After a pair of confirmed COVID exposures, I am glad to report that this household is currently still COVID-free. Unfortunately, waiting for those test results cost us an opportunity to buy a home that we really liked. Now, we are once again out looking in an area that has precious few homes that meet our criteria to begin with. So, we are crossing our fingers that someone else becomes motivated to sell.

What do you think of Mike Leake’s decision to opt out of the season?

Turambar: I applaud him. He made a hard choice, but ultimately the right one. It’s well documented how his father’s health was not great prior to Covid, so he did the right thing by backing out of the season.

Makakilo: First, it was a good decision to protect his especially vulnerable family members. However, let’s look at, “How did his decision impact the Diamondbacks?”

One view is that it hurt the Diamondbacks. Rotation pitching depth was reduced. The Diamondbacks’ salary for 60 games will be reduced by about $2.2 Million ($5.5-$3.3 from Mariners). That estimate is based on two uncertain assumptions: 1) he is foregoing his pay, and 2) the part of his salary paid by Mariners will not be paid to the Diamondbacks instead. That salary reduction is not nearly enough to pay a worthy free-agent replacement.

Another view is it helped the Diamondbacks. In our AZ SnakePit simulation, his performance fell after April, and he was designated for assignment. At the time he was designated, his ERA was the worst of the starters, and his innings per start was the lowest of the starters. So it could be argued that the team will do better with a different pitcher in the rotation.

Jack: I respect him for making a personal decision that he felt was best for himself and his family. As we’ve seen in the news the past couple of days there have been several more players of note that have opted out. It’s sad to see how much vitriol is directed at these players for making this choice. <any more that have tested positive and will need to be quarantined and might end up on Covid-IL when season starts. If it starts.

James: I have nothing but respect for the man. He made a personal decision that he felt was in the best interests of his family. That he has the good fortune to be able to make that decision and still live comfortably is not something I am going to hold against him. He worked hard to get where he is in life. Kudos to him for taking advantage of his good fortune to do what is best for his family.

No Tomas on the 60-man training camp roster. Discuss.

Turambar: Nothing to really talk about. Hazen and company have been building up a team with THEIR guys, and have shown no real willingness to try an un&@?! the mistakes of our previous front offices. Yes, Tomas was very much a mistake, and besides his signing itself most of the blame of that failure falls on Tomas himself. So, nope, not much to discuss.

Makakilo: The Diamondbacks have three goals in summer camp:

  • Set the tone for the season (player focus and intensity).
  • Field the best team possible.
  • Develop prospects in the absence of a minor league season.

Set the tone: Even if Tomas’s intensity was sky-high, after years of very little playing time in the Majors, it would be extraordinary if Tomas had maintained that intensity. Also, he could detract from the intensity of teammates because there is little to demonstrate that he is worthy of the highest salary on the team.

Field the best team: Clearly, Tomas is competitive only for DH. Kevin Cron and Jake Lamb are better picks for DH. Cron hits well against lefties and righties. In 2019 Lamb overcame injuries to improve his hitting (average launch angle from 1.4 to 13.8 degrees average exit velocity from 88.4 to 90.4 mph). For more discussion from AZ SnakePit, see this and this.

Develop prospects: Tomas is in the last months of his contract. In contrast to Tomas, many prospects have years under Diamondback control and their development would benefit from participation in summer camp.

Jack: While Hazen said the roster would be fluid, with many updates and additions and subtractions, and it’s always possible that Tomas ends up on the roster at some point and gets a few PA, the simple truth is that he’s not in the plans of this team and hasn’t been for a long time. The humane thing would have been to release him at the end of last year and let him try to catch on with some other organization. They have to pay him either way, and no other team was willing to even commit major league minimum to him. But he might have gotten a minor league deal with another team and have a shot to work his way to the majors elsewhere. I don’t know why they didn’t take that path.

James: I am not particularly surprised, given that the team is using a number of those 60-man slots to get prospects some work. Since the roster is a fluid one, there is a non-zero chance Tomas still makes an appearance. After all, if the Diamondbacks lose players off the26-man like the Phillies have been, they are going to need another DH. I don’t picture them starting Beer’s clock this season. But, Tomas has no future in Arizona. That means giving the reps to Walker, Cron, Beer, and Young first.

Any other thoughts on names included or excluded?

Turambar: Not really, as others have discussed some of the recent acquisitions and younger talent are really just there to get some burn in absence of a Minor League season. I’m more curious to see who gets put on that “taxi squad” that could be fascinating for the development of our younger talent as players go on IL for either Covid or injury.

Makakilo: Summer camp was live on Facebook!

Arizona Diamondbacks Summer Workouts Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Zach Buchanan wrote that nine of the Diamondbacks’ “most important prospects” are at summer camp primarily for development. Interestingly, they are all pitchers except for Carroll, Thomas, and Fletcher. They are:

  • Corbin Carroll, ranks 33rd prospect in Baseball
  • Alek Thomas, ranks 57th prospect in Baseball
  • Blake Walston, ranks 7th D-back prospect
  • Luis Frias, ranks 9th D-back prospect
  • Levi Kelly, ranks 10th D-back prospect
  • Dominic Fletcher, ranks 16th D-back prospect
  • Tommy Henry, ranks 19th D-back prospect
  • Josh Green, ranks 24th D-back prospect
  • Bryce Jarvis, 1st round draft pick 2020

I’m happy that Trayce Thomson was included in summer camp. In March I wrote, “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.”

Jack: The name I most want to see added is Slade Cecconi because that will mean he was signed.

James: The lack of Kristian Robinson was odd until they explained that he never left town, so he was still able to be working out. Beyond that, the list mostly makes sense to me.

Will MLB reach Opening Day or be forced to pull the plug?

Turambar: We’ll reach Opening Day, but I feel that rising Covid cases will force MLB to close shop. Ultimately they may wish that they stuck to the Arizona/Florida bubble plan.

Makakilo: Opening day will happen. A more interesting question is whether all teams will complete the season. Another question is how many teams would drop out before MLB would end the season.

Jack: I think the answer may lie in Philadelphia. They have been hardest hit so far, and it’s getting iffy what kind of team they can field opening day. Update as of Saturday Night HERE

James: As Jack pointed out, the Phillies are now missing at least four and as many as six members of their originally anticipated 26-man roster. Sure, they get to use a 60-man roster to compensate, but what sort of team will they actually be fielding? They have now lost, at least for a few weeks, their staff ace, in addition to at least one position starter, if not two. Manfred has already stated that there are contingencies in place to play the season even if an entire team goes down and must forfeit games. Because of that, I expect this season to at least make it to Opening Day. Of course, Manfred being the terrible Commissioner he is, will allow the season to start. But, if things keep getting worse with regard to testing, MLB will still be forced to eventually shut down again. It’s just that they will have lost even more money by playing a few games first. If the decision was up to an independent panel, using the provided data to make a determination, I doubt this season ever gets underway. Maybe workouts continue until a day or two before the season. But then, before the expense of actual games comes into play, the plug gets pulled.

At the rate things are going, this is not only going to be an abbreviated season, but it is going to be one in which the teams on the field are hardly at the level of competitiveness they should be. Plenty of high profile players, including David Price have now opted out. Trout is uncomfortable being told to play. How meaningful a season is this really going to be?

How do you think society would react if aliens from another planet landed?

Turambar: Jim, do you really need to jinx this year more than it already has been? Seriously?!?!??? Sigh…..fine, I’ll answer. Society would collapse under the mass panic that First Contact would surely cause. I’d gather up all my guns and ammo and get out of town. Peace out yo.

Makakilo: One possibility is that the aliens would be aggressively hostile. Then, panic would happen like Orson Wells’ 1938 radio broadcast War of the Worlds.

Another possibility is that the aliens would seem peaceful but have ominous intentions (for example The Day the Earth Stood Still.) In this case, the truth of their presence would be hidden from the public to prevent panic. Then events would get interesting. People who leak the truth would be discredited or made to disappear. Curious people with daring-do might discover the truth before they disappear (for example the science-fiction horror-film Area 51.)

Jack: It wouldn’t be good. We would try to kill them. Especially if the USA was in charge of the global response. And even if they “came in peace” , when we tried to kill them they would be forced to use their superior technology to wipe out the human race. Coincidentally, (or not) I happened to be watching Screen Rant Pitch Meeting; Independence Day yesterday. For a laugh.

James: The panic and crisis of faith the event would cause among the ultra-conservatives in the U.S. makes me desperately hope that if aliens were to come, they choose someplace else to make themselves known. While the optimist inside me hopes that such an event would galvanize humanity to come together in a spirit of global cooperation to move forward (think Star Trek utopian society), the skeptic in me fears that our response would not be nearly that progressive. Rather, I expect that nations would insulate and begin to race for getting out of here and that the divide between the haves and have-nots would only get worse.