Did the D-backs do too much, not enough or get it right at the deadline?
Makakilo: Mike Hazen said a remarkable thing; Ken Kendrick, Derrick Hall and he decided not to chase trades to move money. I heard that to mean the Diamondbacks did not chase salary dumps of players who will be free agents next season. I heard that to mean the Diamondbacks will not shop Bumgarner to other teams.
My view is that Mike Hazen learned something important from their losing streaks. I heard Mike Hazen talk about falling into a rut on the field that can have a hangover effect on future games. And he applied the hangover effect to future seasons when he said, “I think playing baseball and pushing to win every game you can is important because I don’t think you just turn it back on when you decide , ok...now we’re gonna compete.”
I am convinced that although it’s certain the Diamondbacks will make roster changes, next season they will push to win every game. Surprisingly, my view is that next season reaching mount 500 might be attainable.
Dano: I think they did fine. They moved who they were able to move, and at least got some lottery tickets in return. I wouldn’t have minded them moving a few more of the rental players (Cabrera, for instance), but I don’t get the sense that there were that many teams interested in who we had to offer.
DBacksEurope: You really believe Hazen when he said they weren’t eager to move anyone? The D-Backs are terrible and just saw the Dodgers and the Giants become even better. Who are we fooling? We will get the worst record in the NL with our division rivals being as strong as they are, with or without Cabrera, Peralta, and any other failing veteran. But I believe they couldn’t do much more, around the deadline. Some real big names were dealt around the deadline with the Cubs and Nationals dismantling themselves. What are you able to offer as D-Backs against those names?
Once it became clear Rizzo, Scherzer, Turner, Baez etc. were all available I am certain that the D-Backs played second fiddle and did not have much leverage to ask for interesting prospects. Or maybe no one was interested anymore because it was either acquiring big names to become competitive (and play with the big boys) or no names. They probably moved Escobar just in time and were too late to move Cabrera, Reddick, etc. Captain Hindsight says: you should have moved them way earlier. But that wasn’t the D-Backs strategy. So: wrong strategy.
Jim: I really think there was just not much demand for anyone else. The return for them would have been trivial, and I do tend to agree that every team needs some veterans at the core. We did end up moving a number of pieces who’d otherwise be leaving at the end of the year; we’ll see over the winter what happens with the people under contract for next season, such as David Peralta.
In July, the team traded away Tim Locastro, Stephen Vogt, Eduardo Escobar and Joakim Soria. What will you remember about those players?
Tim Locastro: I will remember his base stealing. Details are in this AZ Snake Pit article.
Stephen Vogt: I will remember that when he swung at the first pitch, his BABIP for the PA was higher, and when he took the first pitch, his RBIs per PA was higher. Details are in this AZ Snake Pit article.
Next season I’ll remember Vogt’s caught stealing percentage; it was 17% in 2020 and 2021 and 15% in 2019. For comparison, Daulton Varsho’s caught stealing percentages were 14% in 2020 and 25% in 2021. Data from The Fielding Bible.
Eduardo Escobar: Looking at this season’s players, in 2019/2020 Escobar’s 95 RBIs with RISP led the team per this AZ Snake Pit article. When he was traded, his 43 RBIs with RISP led the team. Data from Baseball Reference.
Dano: In terms of TLo, I’ll remember his gift for being an HBP magnet, and also those however many bases he stole without getting caught to start his career. That was pretty amazing. I liked him, he was fun to watch, and I wish him well in his future. EE I’ll remember for just being an all-around good guy. Not just a good baseball guy, but apparently a good guy all around, in the clubhouse and in the community. I hope he thrives in Milwaukee, and gets a big old chunk of postseason experience this year. Vogt never made any impression on me, and Soria I will remember mainly for the sinking feeling I would get when he took the mound in save situations.
DBacksEurope: Locastro was fun to watch both off and on the field, just like Eduardo Escobar. Vogt and Soria didn’t add anything at all to this team and are an example of bad FA signings by Mike Hazen: if you don’t have much money to spend, make sure you spend it wisely. These guys are just another example of Hazen not doing that.
Jim: For a guy who was basically a one-trick pony, Locastro was fun to watch. I did like Escobar, and will miss his pronouncements of “Fogo power!” As, I’m sure, will the restaurant in question miss the free advertising. Vogt always seemed like a thoughtful guy, based on what I read, but Soria is just another bit of evidence that, while the theory of veteran non-closers may be good, the practice leaves a little to be desired.
The D-backs signed first-round draft pick, Jordan Lawlar. Predict his future for Arizona
Makakilo: Maybe the best way to predict his future is to compare him to other players.
- He is a straight A student. He will be a lifelong learner like Paul Goldschmidt.
- Two front office scouting executives compared him to Derek Jeter per this SB Nation article. He will be awarded 5 Gold Gloves, like Jeter. He will break Jeter’s record of 3465 hits as a shortstop.
- His mindset at the plate reminds me of Zack Greinke (details here).
- He will play for the Diamondbacks for 10 years, like Nick Ahmed.
- During his years with the Diamondbacks, he will make a clutch play in the World Series, like Luis Gonzalez. He will be a 5 time All-Star, like Luis Gonzalez.
Dano: I honestly know next to nothing about the long-term process of player development, and as I think I’ve mentioned before, I have concerns about our minor league system and its track record in developing players to the point where they’re actually major league ready (lookin’ at you, city of Reno, with your 4,505 feet elevation!). So I’m totally talking out of my behind here.
I’d imagine that he cruises fairly rapidly through rookie ball and low and high A ball, probably making it to AA by the end of 2022 or the start of 2023. I imagine he progresses through AA and up to Reno by the start of 2024, and so we will probably get a look at him in the majors sometime that year. Will he be good? I have no idea. I hope so. Will he be great? I have no idea. I hope so. We shall see.
DBacksEurope: he will hit the majors in 2-3 years because it seems that something like that has been promised to him so he would forfeit his commitment to Vanderbilt and to compensate the financial loss of that and that of a possible higher draft pick in a few years. For this to happen he should show something of an average bat. If he tears the minors up, he will be hitting at Chase in 2 years. If his bat is average, give him an extra year.
Jim. I’m cautiously optimistic, but recent events have shaken my confidence in terms of prospects turning into above average everyday players for the D-backs. I’m not sure who the last guy Arizona drafted, who would qualify as that would be. Presuming he sticks at shortstop though, I think 2024 does seem a possible timetable for his arrival on a semi-regular basis, if all goes well. I’d say somewhere between Dansby Swanson and Fernando Tatis Jr. in terms of production. That’s not narrowing things down very much, I entirely appreciate!
July went far better than May or June. Will Arizona sustain it going forward?
Makakilo: Despite the excellent teams on the schedule, I think it’s sustainable because players are returning from the IL, and because the trade deadline did less damage to the team than it might have. And let’s talk about Friday’s win against the Dodgers!
Dano: Yeah, I think so. Players are coming back off the IL, and our rotation is mostly intact and functional again for the first time since April. We are not a good baseball team by any reasonable metric, but we are certainly better than we managed to be in May and June. I imagine we play somewhere around .400-.450 ball the rest of the way, provided we don’t get another flurry of injuries.
DBacksEurope: as bad as in May or June: no. But I am certain they will still be very bad. I thought they would somehow be able to maintain a certain pace after an outstanding April but I will not make that same mistake again.
Jim: It’s a tough, tough schedule in early August, opening with 14 straight games against the Dodgers, Giants and Padres. Things slacked off for a bit thereafter, but then it ends with another rough stretch before the final series against Colorado. I can’t see the team posting a winning record either month. My goal is simply for them to avoid the worst record in franchise history. To get there, they need to go 19-37. I’ll take that, along with the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft!
Which players are you most interested in over the final two months?
Makakilo: Monday, my series preview will tell you why I’m interested in Daulton Varsho and Andrew Young. Tuesday, my feature article will tell you why I’m interested in Carson Kelly. I’m looking forward to seeing players in their first season in the Majors, including Drew Ellis, Matt Peacock, JB Bukauskas, Brett deGeus, Geraldo Perdomo, Miguel Aguilar, and Stuart Fairchild. And Sunday Jake Hager played second base - it’s his first game for the Diamondbacks and it’s his first season in the Majors.
Dano: Honestly, the kiddies that are getting called up to the majors now, or the ones who are already here due to the injuries earlier in the season. So Varsho, Ellis, Fairchild, VanMeter, whoever else winds up on the MLB roster as the season winds down. Not so interested in the bullpen arms, as most of them are other teams’ cast-offs and failed prospects. I’m interested in seeing what some of our homegrown minor leaguers can do.
DBacksEurope: Eduardo Escobar and Joakim Soria. I wonder if they will improve a lot or not.
Jim: It’s the long-term core of the team that interest me. Right now, that’s basically Zac Gallen, Carson Kelly and Ketel Marte, with Pavin Smith on the cusp of joining them. Can Daulton Varsho become another such element? My concern is mostly about pitching, with prospects Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas having been very underwhelming in their rookie campaigns. Maybe we’ll see if they can do any better down the stretch.
If you could add one sport - real or not - to the Olympics, what would it be?
Makakilo: Korfball. It’s great because strategy and teamwork impact the game, and because each team includes 4 men and 4 women. Like basketball, points are scored by throwing a ball through a high hoop (sans net). Unlike basketball, when a player catches the ball, they must not move from that spot for as long as they hold the ball. Unlike basketball, players cannot shoot if they are defended (but they can only be defended by the same gender opponent). When defended, they must throw to a teammate. This youtube video shows the game being played.
Dano: Miniature golf, obviously. Watching Brooks Koepka making triple bogey on the fourth hole because he can’t get his little blue ball past the damn windmill? It would be great.
DBacksEurope: well, if korfbal ever makes it like Makakilo suggests, that would mean an extra gold medal for The Netherlands, so I can only applaud that.
Personally, I think tug of war would be fun at the Olympics. It seems it is an old sport, so there is that. It shouldn’t be that hard to become competitive in it as a country so I am certain it might become a very fierce, unpredictable and diverse competition.
Jim: I’ll just point out that Britain are still the reigning Olympic tug-of-war champions, having won the gold medal the last time it was an Olympic sport, back in 1920. #WereNumberOne
I’d love to see darts in the Olympics; we’ve grown immensely fond of watching that over the last few years, and it’s a sport that televises very well. But I’d also be delighted to watch the world’s fastest moving ball sport, jai alai. It’s a little like racketball, except a wicker basket strapped to your arm is used to propel the ball, at speeds in excess of 300 km/h. I saw it live in Florida, back in 1998, and it was amazing. Definitely a sport in need of more love.