clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

SnakePit Round Table: Back to the grind

New, 24 comments

I hope you enjoyed your four days without Diamondbacks baseball...

MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images

Any thoughts on the MLB draft, and in particular Arizona’s top pick?

Jack: The draft is always a hopeful time. Congratulations to all the players drafted. It’s truly special. I’ve never seen Lawlar play, and only know what I’ve read. I hope he signs and doesn’t require too much over slot. 2025 or bust !

Dano: I suppose I kinda wanted us to go all-in on pitching, kinda like the Angels did, but James and others did a great job explaining why Lawler was worth grabbing at #6, so I think I’m good with all that. I have no functional understanding of the logic and strategy that goes into draft stuff, but it seems like just about everyone else is broadly pleased with how this draft went, so I’m just surfing on the Snakepit’s collective wisdom, and trying to learn a little bit more. But it seems like it’s all good. And like Jack says, congrats to all the draftees.

Turambar: I don’t really put too much stock into the MLB draft compared to the NFL or especially the NBA. It’s just so hard to read in to how good picks, even high in the first round, will be or even if they’ll ever get a start in the majors.

Makakilo: I am pleased that the Diamondbacks chose to draft a top player at full slot value (or maybe more) instead of drafting a lesser player and using the savings lower in the draft. So bravo! Although they took a risk that he might decide not to sign, they captured an opportunity that he will eventually be an All-Star player.

James: The Diamondbacks did exactly what they were supposed to with the #6 pick, take the best player available. I would feel a bit better about the pick if the Diamondbacks had worked something out with him ahead of the draft in terms of getting a commitment, but that is a separate issue. As long as he signs for a dollar figure that does not hinder the team in next year’s draft, they made the right pick. If they fail to sign him, as much as I like Mike Hazen and think he should be around for at least another five years, I would start looking for new blood for the FO. It’s one thing to miss on McLain at #25, especially when it added to the next draft. It’s another things entirely to miss on signing Lawlar aaat #6, especially when they could have had Rocker, House, or Watson and the process would already be complete.

DBacksEurope: I am happy the D-Backs didn’t draft McLain for the simple reason that he snubbed us (although he was obviously right because he gets a bigger bonus check now). So, once that didn’t happen, it was all fine.

On a personal note, I don’t get excited about the draft but I love to read what Wesley, Michael and James write on here about them. But we all know that they are just expectations and no guarantee for success in the future.

In general, I have read a lot of fans’ comments and many are excited with the picks their team made. Maybe it shows that the draft this year is really deep with no clear outstanding talent. That makes me think that there were not any wrong picks to be made at #6.

I listened a lot to the MLB Pipeline podcast until some months ago and they were always pretty high on Lawlar. Back in May James thought he was an impossible to get target and therefore wasn’t included in his review of possible first round picks. To see him fall to #6, which seemed like a real possibility right before the start of the draft, was surprising and I think the D-Backs made the right pick. They will probably have to go over-slot to get him, but what are the odds Lawlar could get drafted higher a couple of years from now? I think the D-Backs are betting on that. With these thoughts, I think the D-Backs made the right choice. It should be possible to sign him and he was the best player available at #6. We can’t really criticize the FO for what they have done here.

And if they don’t work out a deal in the end, it isn’t that bad either. It would leave the D-Backs with two top 10 picks next season and KK saves some money this year. Sounds like a win-win. Maybe that was their strategy?

Jim: The main concern over our top pick seems to be signabllity. He seems like an excellent prospect, but there was likely a reason he wasn’t selected by the teams picking ahead of us. Fingers crossed the front office did their homework, but I’ll be considerably happier when he has been inked. As for the rest of the picks… get back to me in 2026!

What did you think of the Home-Run Derby and All-Star Game?

Jack: I only watched snippets of the HR derby. The split screen and lack of distances were strange to me. It’s boring. I’m going to dinner with my Brother who I haven’t seen in 18 months. (along with other family members) So I’ll miss the game. But I’m so happy.

Dano: Unlike Jack, I actually watched the whole HR derby. It’s stupid and silly and it was much less fun without Chris Berman in the booth shouting “back back BACK!” repeatedly, but I always enjoy the spectacle. I agree with Jack about the lameness of the split screen, but Pete Alonso is such a monster in this particular medium, I found it fascinating to watch. As for the ASG itself, I turned it on in the living room and looked in a couple of times as I was passing through, but mainly I had it on for the cats. The ASG is nice for the players, but stupid for actual baseball fans. I hope the players had a good time.

Makakilo: Eduardo Escobar’s one PA was against Matt Barnes, against whom Escobar has had good results (one single and one walk in 4 PAs). He hit a single that led to a bases loaded opportunity for the NL, but no RBIs.

James: Those things are still around?

DBacksEurope: I like to see the players come up for the All Star game, see the presentations but that is it. I don’t care about the game itself and even less about some people hitting dingers. I am pretty sure that seeing it in the stadium should be impressive but on TV the feeling isn’t transmitted to me.

Jim: I must confess, I did not watch a single moment of the actual events, or cover them in any way. My small protest at MLB making a political football out of it. Regardless of the specific Georgia law (something we will not be getting into!), I feel strongly MLB shouldn’t take political sides in non-baseball issues.

ESPN’s Stephen Smith got into hot water for his comments about Shohei Ohtani. What’s your take?

Jack: Racism sucks. Wherever it comes from.

Dano: What Jack said. Seconded. Also, everybody, stop with the “Hot Takes,” please. No good comes from them, unless you think outrage and people saying stupid sh*t is good. And if you think that, well, I suppose I don’t want to talk to you, or hear from you.

Turambar: Smith’s a clown and his comment was clownish. That is all.

Makakilo: Jack was on target that racism sucks.

My view is that Stephen Smith’s responsibilities include awareness and explaining his opinions sufficiently that the audience does not hear an unintended meaning.

In general, two factors can contribute to racism: lack of awareness and politics.

Awareness.

  • Stephen Smith was not completely unaware. “As an African-American, keenly aware of the damage stereotyping has done to many in this country, it should’ve elevated my sensitivities even more.” – Stephen Smith
  • The following data applies to this situation despite the fact that Stephen Smith referred to himself as an African-American. “37% of white Americans say they are not aware of an increase in hate crimes and racism against Asian Americans over the past year, with 24% saying anti-Asian American racism isn’t a problem that should be addressed.” Source: survey of 2,766 US residents, ages 18 and over, conducted online between March 29 to April 14, 2021 by Savanta Research. Quote from the STAATUS Index by LAAUNCH.

Politics. My view is politicians can say one thing and the audience hears a meaning behind what was said. A relevant example follows. “In a peer-reviewed study of Twitter hashtags before and after the use of the term “Chinese virus” by President Trump on March 18, 2020, researchers from UCSF, Harvard, Boston University and UCLA found that the number of anti-Asian hashtags increased 40 times.” Quote from STAATUS Index by LAAUNCH.

James: Stephen A. Smith is a clown and a hack who, for some unfathomable reason, continues to get chance after chance when others never get one. Racism sucks - period. I don’t care who you are or what your own ethnicity is, racism simply has no place in civilized society.

DBacksEurope: I have no idea who he is and what he said. I looked it up and it might be racist, which leads to the usual American outrage (sorry for the pun), but I don’t think that really matters because his remark in general is just stupid.

It doesn’t matter if Ohtani is Asian or Caucasian or Afro-American: if the guy is a star, which Ohtani definitely is this year, people will show up to see him no matter what. As a matter of fact, he might have troubles with the IRS for not paying his taxes and people will still show up because he is the baseball player everyone would like to be.

And he seems like a nice guy, you don’t need an interpreter or him to dominate English to see that. On the contrary, sometimes people start talking English and they lose their entire appeal! Gael Garcia Bernal runs through my mind as an example of that: in Spanish he is a great actor but in English he sounds dumb.

Conclusion: Stephen Smith is stupid.

Jim: What, an ESPN pundit says something idiotic? This is my unsurprised face. A good reminder of why I never watch any of their shows. Though I think Smith’s ongoing series of apologies (collect the set!) were more cringeworthy. There may have been a point in there somewhere, perhaps; you can argue it is somewhat harder to promote a non-English speaker to an English-speaking audience. But that’s why PR companies are paid stupidly large sums of money. It’s not hard to come up with methods that don’t involve Ohtani reciting Shakespeare. Such a complete non-issue.

The D-backs stand at 26-66 with 70 games to play. Predict their final record

Jack: Their final record will be a franchise record for losses in a season, beating the 2004 team record of 111 losses.

Dano: Going by the current math, we’ll be at 53-109 by season’s end, I think. I actually think we’ll be a bit better than that, so I’m going to guess 62-100. Because, sure, why not?

Turambar: We’re gonna break through that 100 loss mark, that’s for sure. Hope we don’t break the 111 mark set in 2004, but with Hazen likely in Fire Sale Mode I can’t imagine not hitting 100 loses.

Makakilo: The latest positive streak (as defined in this article) was May 26-30. The last ten games were encouraging because they almost started a positive batting streak and a positive pitching streak. They stopped short of the needed 5 games. The Diamondbacks will likely trade players for prospects at the trade deadline. My prediction is they will win 40% of their remaining games, ending with 54 wins and 108 losses.

James: After they finally got a win in SF, I was predicting the team would have around 105 losses. Since then, I have adjusted my expectations downward even more. I now figure the team will finish with 110-112 losses.

DBacksEurope: I predicted 65 before the season started. That was pretty optimistic. I guess we’ll end up with 50 which would showcase the improvement Lovullo was talking about the other day, because we would almost double our win total in fewer games.

If you take Mike Hazen’s age and Torey Lovullo’s and divide the total between 2 you get 50.

In 1950 Peanuts was launched with baseball loving Charlie Brown.

50 is the magical number this year.

Jim: Could go either way. I don’t think the team is as bad as their current record, but they’re certainly not good. If the team enters a “sell everyone” mode at the deadline, the rest of the season could get super ugly. The 2004 team saw their W% drop 74 points after the break, and they won only 20 games in the second half. Against that, I still expect the one-run record to regress towards .500 in the second half. These things will likely cancel each other out, and the team will end at 48-114.

Who’ll be their MVP in the second half?

Jack: Ketel Marte. I have to think if he can play at least 50 games, he’s still the best player on the team.

Dano: I’m going to bet one of our pitchers who’s been languishing on the IL for the last few months. So let’s say Taylor Widener.

Turambar: My money is on Pavin Smith.

Makakilo: Candidates considered were Ketel Marte, Daulton Varsho, Pavin Smith, and Josh Rojas. Although Ketel Marte is likely the favorite, I’m cheering for Daulton Varsho.

FanGraphs’ projections and Baseball Savant’s exit velocity point to Ketel Marte. On the other hand this season he seems injury prone.

Daulton Varsho is learning how to excel at two challenging defensive positions (CF and catcher). When he reaches his potential in both, he will be a truly amazing player who has done something unheard of in modern baseball. Nevertheless, to be MVP he will need better results as a batter. Mike Ferrin was correct when he said, “His bat will be what carries him.”

[Daulton Varsho spoke about his goal to Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo.] “My goal coming into this spring training camp is to be your No. 1 catcher and No. 1 center fielder, and then you guys can choose where you want to play me that night.” — Daulton Varsho.

Pavin Smith seems to have a good eye at the plate based on K% and whiff % shown on Baseball Savant. However, the trend is unfavorable in strikeouts per PA (15.7% May, 18.9% June, and 31.6% July). Also, his OPS is inconsistent (.765 April, .788 May, .594 June, and .720 July). Data from Baseball Reference.

Josh Rojas has earned positive comments. Examples follow.

  • “First up is Rojas, a Swiss Army type whose bat has looked extraordinary and could be Arizona’s latest find.” — Henry Schleizer, 20 March 2021
  • “He can hit, there are plenty of things to believe in as far as the bat goes. He’s one of those weird guys who can play a lot of positions, but none of them very well....” — Kevin Goldstein, 3 May 2021
  • “Rojas is, I think to me, number one on the list [of players with regular playing time who have impressed] .” — Mike Ferrin, 12 July 2021 (AZ SnakePit interview).

James: Ketel Marte. As Jack already pointed out, if he can play, he’s the best player on the team. At this point, it isn’t even all that close.

DBacksEurope: Marte Vor President? I’ll go with Kole Calhoun. Once he gets back I have a feeling there isn’t enough time to get him traded and, just like last year, he will probably show reliable outfield work and consistent batting. Ketel Marte, if he ever gets fit again, will probably continue to struggle in CF so his bad defensive work will take away some glory from his batting skills.

Jim. Zac Gallen returns from injury and proves he’s the team ace going forward. So there’ll be reason to watch at least one Diamondbacks game a week.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Jack: Nickelback. Can’t say I love…..but for 2-3 songs at a time I can enjoy their music. But I’ll be mocked and ostracized even for that tepid endorsement.

Dano: Daytime soap operas, actually, specifically ABC’s General Hospital. The whole SMike/Nina thing is terrible right now, and all the mob stuff has been tiresome for years, and where the F is Frisco, especially given Maxie’s recent troubles and given that he’s apparently running the WSB? But it’s all good….I do love me some over-the-top daily serialized drama with reliably ridiculous plot and character twists every week or so.

Turambar: Manowar (metal band). Probably the cheesiest and most stereotypical metal band ever; think Spinal Tap but with loincloths and swords. Their music isn’t particularly good, and really is just a bunch of cartoonishly overly macho rock anthems. Love em.

James: First, I have to give mad props to Turambar for Manowar. I actually wound up writing a paper on them once when I was tasked with writing about how Germanic mythology was still a relevant topic today. They are sooooo much fun. They get bonus points for featuring Orson Wells on a track too.

After that, it gets kind of murky for me. Three films come to mind for me; Ladyhawke, Hudson Hawk (which had the distinction of living as the worst movie of all-time list for Gene Siskel and Leonard Maltin for over a year) and Oscar, a comedy written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. I also enjoy Dean Devlin’s intentionally campy television shows, especially Leverage (though this was actually considered by many to be “good” television) and The Librarians as well as Almost Paradise.

DBacksEurope: I love it when I see Steven Seagal beat the shit out of everyone without him having a single scratch. I can watch his late 80s and 90s movies any time. There are a couple of phrases from his movies I live by. People laugh at me when I tell them and I think it is hilarious too. But “assumption is the mother of all f*** ups” is so true in IT Project Management. Raise your hand if you are a Steven Seagal fan! [desperately drops his hand in shame when he sees everyone looks at him with despise]

And there are a couple of comedy movies I can watch any time too: Kung Pow (you guys probably know my signature), Bedazzled (Brendan Fraser the “narcotraficante colombiano” is awesome, especially the American accents - I can quote a lot from that scene), Don’t be a menace (“I got these cheeseburgers man”) and Eurotrip (“hey, this isn’t where I parked my car”). Maybe Bedazzled could be considered decent but the others would probably not make the cut for many people (unless they hear me talking about these movies with excitement and start thinking…”hey, maybe these movies are funny” - you wouldn’t be the first one).

Makakilo: Watching Galaxy Quest and Netflicks’ Space Force with Steve Carell makes me laugh while generally they do not enlighten me and they do not make me a better person.

Jim. My love of “bad movies” is well-recorded. But there are a few which I will unironically defend as actually good. Showgirls, for example, is genius. No other film has better depicted (in exaggerated form, like any good satire) the moral hellscape which is Las Vegas. I also genuinely enjoy Barb Wire, especially once I figured out it was an unofficial remake of Casablanca. But I guess my favorite such movie is Hobo With a Shotgun. Most people would turn their noses up at the mere title, but Rutger Hauer is awesome in it. Though it certainly also lives up to the name!