Here’s the second half of the writers’ collaboration, in response to questions about the season just passed, from our Detroit sibling over at Bless You Boys. Note that these questions were asked at the end of the season, so some questions - the first in particular - are no longer quite as topical as they were!
Any pending free agents you think will return? Which are likely to leave?
Jack: There are no free agents as of this writing. The team has options on Merrill Kelly, Kole Calhoun, and Tyler Clippard. Kelly’s will almost surely be picked up, Calhoun’s will almost surely be declined due to cost cutting, and Clippard is a coin flip, although I personally think unlikely.
DBacksEurope: Merrill Kelly will be back and everyone else will be gone (everyone includes the fans as well).
James: The team will decline the options for Kole Calhoun and likely Tyler Clippard (though Mike Hazen remains publicly on the fence about the latter). Merrill Kelly will have his option picked up, if for no other reason than the Diamondbacks need someone to throw the ball for them in 2022 and that he has actual trade value.Between needing MLB starter innings and the fact that this team needs an influx of talent to help its future, Kelly has out-sized value for Arizona right now.
Any pending free agents you’d like to see them seriously try for?
Jack: My sources tell me the team is cutting payroll further from 2021 opening day $96M. So I haven’t engaged in any rosterbation when it comes to free agents. They will sign whoever they can get cheaply to fill a couple of bullpen and bench roles.
Keegan: Zack. Greinke. Kidding, kind of. They really aren’t in a position to make a big free agent splash.
Makakilo: This AZ Snake Pit article considered free agents Maikel Franco, Kris Bryant, and Eduardo Escobar, as well as others who could play third base.
DBacksEurope: I’d rather they not try. Mike Hazen has been terrible at signing free agents. Next season is lost anyhow so who cares. Just keep on picking up waiver claims and give young kids a try. I’d rather see the D-Backs field Ellis a season long at 3B then trying out someone else who could rob him of valuable playing time.
James: If the team had a snowball’s chance in hell of competing in 2022, there are a handful of interesting talents I would love to see them pursue. As it is though, this team is very likely to be among the 3-5 worst in all of baseball again next season.None of the big names I would pursue are ones that would be good to wrap up now to build around for 2024-25, so I would hope that Hazen just puts the checkbook away in the drawer and works with what he has developing on the farm and with what he can pull off through trades. Save the spending for the following season.
If you could summarize the 2021 season in one word, what would it be?
Makakilo: Whiff [Diamondbacks swung hard to be competitive and missed the target.]
Which opposing team was the biggest thorn in your team’s side this season?
Jack: The State of California actually:
- Giants 2-17
- Dodger 3-16
- Padres 8-11
- Angels 0-4
- A’s 0-3
- Total: 13-51
Makakilo: The A’s were a thorn, but that could change. Their manager Bob Melvin will manage the Padres next season. Despite the relatively good result of 8 wins against the Padres, it could be worse next season.
DBacksEurope: The Orioles. We almost beat them without losing on purpose, which is like art itself.
James: It is either the Dodgers or the Orioles. The Dodgers used and abused the Diamondbacks with impunity, including hanging 22 runs on them in a single game. In addition, they constantly reminded the Diamondbacks of just how wide and deep the talent chasm is. Their Opening Day 4th/5th OF, A.J. Pollock would have been Arizona’s season MVP by a landslide. LA’s starting pitching was so stacked that David Price spent a good portion of the season in the bullpen, meanwhile the Diamondbacks couldn’t field five starters for more than two weeks all season long. As for Baltimore, they actively sabotaged their season, leading to them finishing the year with the same record as Arizona. However, since Baltimore also sucked out loud in 2020, they get the first pick in the upcoming draft, along with the nice juicy bonus pool that comes from having the 1:1 pick.
If you could have changed one thing about the season, what would it have been?
Jack: I’ll channel the movie WAR GAMES. “The only winning move is not to play”
Makakilo: Play Ketel Marte at second base instead of center field. Two reasons:
- In each season, 2018 to 2020, his DRS at second base ranked in the top 10 in the Majors per The Fielding Bible.
- In 2021, his negative 15 DRS in CF contributed to the Diamondbacks’ defense in CF ranking last in the Majors.
DBacksEurope: Josh VanMeter’s walk off in the final game against the Rockies that cost us pool money and the first draft pick. Couldn’t they suck for just one more game?
James: I would have spent less time playing players out of position, which would have also led to the youth movement getting more reps than they did in 2021. There is no excuse for Ketel Marte or Pavin Smith *shudder* in center field.