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SnakePit Round Table: The louder you scream...

So, how was YOUR week? Better than the D-backs, I imagine...

Rob and Chad Lowe ride “Riddler,” at Six Flags Magic Mountain Photo by Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic

How can the D-backs’ free-fall be stopped?

James: Step one, get healthy. Step two, fill holes with the best possible player, instead of the most readily available scrub. Step three, pray.

Makakilo: If I could fix one thing, I would improve the Diamondbacks’ process for injury prevention.

How can the Giants be older than the Dbacks and have less injuries? Details follow:

My preview for the Giants series (scheduled to post Monday evening) noted the Giants players are older than the Diamondbacks. The preview looked at players projected at 2 WAR or more this season; the Giants have a much lower percentage of players on the injured list (both position players and pitchers). Injury prevention explains part of their success.

Jack: Eventually the ground will have to break the fall, right? Seriously, there is no magic elixir. The players have to play better. The position players need to stop chasing pitches out of the zone and regain their discipline. They need to be more focused on defense and stop making mental mistakes. And the pitchers, especially the relievers need to get ahead in counts and execute their best out pitches.

Wesley: That assumes that they should avoid a freefall, and not just punt the season at this point, but I digress. Makakilo makes a really good point. I am starting to wonder if there is something wrong with this team’s strength and conditioning staff, and I’ve always questioned the way this team handled coaching pitchers aside from that. Essentially what I am saying is I think they should probably be firing people soon, and that should eventually include Lovullo.

Steven: Is it a free-fall? Or is it the team regressing back to where they should be? Replacement players are replacements for a reason and until the team gets their normal 26-man roster back, I wouldn’t hold out hope for many more wins this year.

Dano: Honestly, when you get swept by the Rockies, before today the worst team in the National League, there’s serious problems. I am inclined to agree with Makakilo and Wesley regarding injuries and conditioning. I think I expressed similar concerns last week. But our offense has been so bad, our starting pitching has been so bad, our bullpen has been so consistently awful that there’s no one specific fix. The players have to play better, and we frankly need better players than we have available at present.

What position is the team’s biggest weakness?

James: Bullpen pitching, followed closely by starting pitching. The bullpen is a hot mess. The rotation currently has so many injuries that TBA is set to set the team record for pitching appearances

Makakilo: The surprising answer is second base. The position ranks 27th in the Majors in WAA. Three points to think about:

  • The only position ranking lower is the bullpen (29th) [After Saturday’s games, it fell to 30th]. Due to injuries, some excellent relievers (like Matt Peacock) are starting instead of relieving. Also, some bullpen pitchers are injured (like JB Bukauskas, Tyler Clippard, and Chris Devinski). When the bullpen is back at full strength, they will rank higher than 27th.
  • Of the 5 players who have played second base, only two (Andrew Young and Josh Rojas) have an OPS+ above 100 [Update: Saturday’s homer and single pushed Eduardo Escobar’s OPS+ above 100, albeit he played third base that game]; Young and Rojas accounted for only 16.8% of the second base PAs. What makes this weakness so astounding is that the All-Star second baseman, Ketel Marte, has not played at second base.
  • The negative 8 Defensive Runs Saved at second ranked 30th in the Majors (The Fielding Bible).

Jack: The Bullpen WAA is -4.3 and ranks 30th in MLB. The Rotation is -0.9 WAA and ranks 25th. While the ordinal ranking is not that far off, the difference between -4.3 and -.09 is HUGE. For the past 2+ weeks the offense has been as bad or worse than bullpen, but going forward they will probably be a little better. Mak highlights 2b, and he’s correct. Play there has been collectively poor. Maybe come July or August we’ll see Alek Thomas patrolling centerfielder and Ketel can finally be moved back to the infield.

Wesley: Mak and Jack are right, the bullpen and second base are our biggest weakness, along with injuries which are shredding any depth the team has.

Steven: I have no faith in any of the current pitchers to resemble anything close to MLB level. Each have shown glimpses yes, but who would you have confidence in in a 1-game playoff? Or to get the final 3 outs in a 1-run game? The present and future is bleak.

Dano: There is no part of the team that’s looking at all good right now, but it’s gotta be the bullpen.

If Arizona are deadline sellers, who do you predict will be gone?

James: That depends largely on the goal. With Cabrera injured, he is probably not getting traded. Eduardo Escobar is far and away the team’s best bet for third now, largely due to the injury to Cabrera. Reddick, and Soria all feel like they could be moved. Caleb Smith or Stefan Crichton might get moved. I think the team holds on to both Young and Young.Injuries are seriously limiting the trade options.

Makakilo: As I write, Yoan Lopez was traded to the Braves for outfielder prospect Deivi Estrada!

My view is Mike Hazen will find trades that improve the team in future years, with only small impacts this season. Although Christian Walker is one of my favorite players, Jack’s article provided his projected value earned to be $18.1 Million. Depending on the trade details, the Diamondbacks could trade for a prospect worth up to $18 million, perhaps a prospect nearly ready to play in the Majors.

Jack: Joakim Soria and Eduardo Escobar appear to be the guys on expiring contracts that other teams are most likely to want.

Wesley: I’d like to see them move anyone that isn’t going to be part of a winning core in the next three or four years. I see our window of contention being from 2022, maybe 2023, until 2026. We should be aiming to contend in that time frame.

Steven: Just blow it up, Hazen has earned the right to field a team that he has built from the ground up. Start with aging veterans like Escobar, Soria, and Bumgarner if you can get off the contract, then begin the process of dealing secured players like Walker, Ahmed, and Peralta.

Dano: Sad as I am to say it, I’m increasingly in agreement with Steven on what should be done. The question, though, is, who we think actually will be moved. Escobar and Soria, probably won’t be with us after August. Now that Pavin Smith is showing what he can do for us, I could easily see Walker going as well. Getting rid of Bumgarner’s contract would be good as well, and I could imagine there being some interest in Ahmed (someone out there may well believe they can fix his bat), and a lot of interest in Peralta (probably from an AL team). I can imagine all of them being elsewhere by the deadline.

Rate Torey Lovullo’s job security right now, from 1-10.

James: Probably a 6.5 - 7.0. Right now, he has plenty of cover from injuries. It is difficult to see how anyone, no matter their managing chops, gets much more out of the current and recent crops of players.

Makakilo: 10. Solid.

Jack: 3. I asked the question in my article on Wednesday how hot his seat was. I think it’s pretty hot.

Wesley: On one hand, I think Lovullo has been dealt a bad hand in terms of bad luck with injuries to the team, on the other hand, I agree with Jack completely, and as I said earlier, I can see Lovullo losing his job eventually this season if things don’t turn around.

Steven: Based on performance he won’t be returning after his contract is up but I don’t think that’s a great representation of his total impact on a day-to-day basis.

Dano: I will let myself be guided by Jack. In addition, I have to wonder at this point how much Lovullo actually wants to stay in Arizona at this point, given that he’s done his best but hasn’t gotten the front office to do their part in, for instance, supplying him with a functional bullpen in any given year. I gotta imagine it’s getting old for him at this point.

What’s your take on Tony La Russa’s criticism of his own player, for breaking the unwritten rules?

James: Maybe TLR should take the time to learn the actual rules to the game before throwing his best hitter under the bus. As manager, he should at least understand the fundamentals, such as who can run in extra innings. Outside of that, TLR is a dinosaur, with an out-dated mentality. I will not be sad to see it go.

Makakilo: Tony La Russa’s comments reflected a character flaw. It reminded me that a Diamondback player said that Torey Lovullo has his back, even when the player is wrong and they talk about it later. I’m glad that Torey Lovullo is manager!

Jack: TLR is being self centered. He is putting himself above the team. Or rather he is putting his own thoughts and feelings about the incident above what’s best for his team. That’s not good leadership. EDIT: Steven wins Round

Wesley: Tony La Russa is an idiot, plain as a day, and criticizing your own player for homering in that situation is just beyond dumb. As James put it, TLR is a dinosaur with an outdated mentality.


Dano: What everyone else has said. Tony LaRussa is a bad influence on teams that hire him. Screw that guy.

UFOs. Misidentified natural phenomena, superior Earth technology or something more?

James: I think early on, many of the UFOs/UAPs were likely odd atmospheric phenomena. I think more frequently though, the sightings are likely a product of rapidly advancing aerial technology, with sightings of test and prototype devices, some of which might even be amateur in development.

Makakilo: My view is that to deny a possibility, however incredible, is possibly a missed opportunity for discovery and a happier life. Therefore my mind is open to possibilities. Three quotes serve as signposts:

  • “Let us keep our minds open, by all means, as long as that means keeping our sense of perspective and seeking an understanding of the forces which mould the world. But don’t keep your minds so open that your brains fall out!” — Walter Kotschnig, November 8, 1939
  • “To deny science is incompatible with solving problems.” — Bill Nye, The Science Guy
  • “The important fact established here is that not one single person at that time [when he worked at Wright Patterson AFB] ever said, “We have no aliens here, you crazy son of a bitch.” — Raymond Szymanski

Jack: I’ve personally seen a UFO up close, so that skews my view. On the other hand I lived just a few miles from Grumman on Long Island so maybe I saw some advanced technology. (It was 1969). As DBE said in the thread we discussed the other day, why do these sightings always come over the USA but seldom heard of in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia ? For example look at this wiki page for UFO sightings down under. Pretty thin.

Wesley: I have a background in aviation, having flown a few hundred hours as a kid, and I am an enthusiast for aviation. I’ve seen UFOs more than once, that can’t be explained as just a black project military plane. What I have witnessed would splatter any human’s insides, and the technology displayed is well beyond our understanding of physics. Some UFOs the last 10-15 years certainly can be explained as a UAV/drones though. I have no doubt in my mind we are being visited, but I am not going to say it is aliens. They could be extradimensional, they could be time travelers, could be a lot of things.

I actually am going to dispute Jack here, because some of the most prominent mass sightings of UFOs have not been in the USA, they have been in Latin America. This list on wikipedia is by no means definitive, but there are a number of sightings outside of the USA.

Dano: Off of what Wes is describing, which is similar to what I’ve read regarding flight characteristics observed in recent UFO sightings, it seems pretty clear that some of the stuff pilots are seeing up in the sky are operating according to physical rules and are likely constructed from materials that far exceed even our most experimental advances in flight technology and materials science. These craft, whatever they are, seem to operate unconstrained by the paradigm of Newtonian physics.

I suspect it is actually aliens. I mean, we’ve got an infinite and expanding universe, so if we evolved out of primordial goo, it’s almost absurd not to think that intelligent life has evolved elsewhere as well. We’ve also been beaming radio signals out into space for more than 200 years, and wireless data transmission now surrounds our planet in a halo of transmitted energy. Add to that space scientists have been actively beaming communications out into interplanetary space since 1962, it’s not all that unreasonable to expect that something out there intercepted at least one of them, and came over to have a look.