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SnakePit Round Table: Farewell to the Drub

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Asdrubal Cabrera has gone. What will you remember of his time here?

Makakilo: From 18 April to 2 May, the Diamondbacks played excellent baseball - winning 10 of 13 games. In that context, two losses were blowouts during which Asdrubal Cabrera pitched in relief. He saved the bullpen for more important games. And his pitching got the job done: 17 pitches, 11 strikes, four outs, no runs allowed. He inherited a runner – that runner did not score.

Jack: He was often out front in the early season Tik Tok dances along with Peralta and Escobar. He played solid enough when healthy, but as expected it was difficult for him to stay healthy and his hitting tailed off. Good guy, good leader, but not on the right team.

Wesley: I think Asdrubal Cabrera’s brief stop in Arizona was ultimately forgettable. Aside from his pitching appearance, which was quite amusing. Considering Cabrera is 35 years old, has only been worth .5 fWAR, has put up a below average season offensively, the team would have been better off handing the job to someone who actually has a long term future with the team.

Dano: Honestly, I pretty much won’t. He was a good clubhouse presence, and my understanding is that he’s a good guy generally, but he didn’t impress in really any aspect of his game.

James: His tenure in Arizona was short enough that it will be forgotten eventually, probably sooner rather than later. He was a great clubhouse influence and seemed to genuinely enjoy the game. Even when the team was losing, he was one of the few players who looked to be enjoying the fact that he was getting paid to play the game he loves. On a team losing this much, that is a rare thing. But, he was injured enough that it didn’t ever get a chance to spill over. Happily for Arizona and for Cabrera, he is now on a competitive team for the stretch run.

The D-backs have used 16 different starters this year. What does that tell you?

Makakilo: Their pitchers will be better next season because they gained valuable experience in the Majors. Even before factoring in improvements, the percentage of excellent starts (game score of at least 60) will be higher next season. If five pitchers (Bumgarner, Gallen, Kelly, Gilbert, and Caleb Smith) had the vast majority of starts, and they pitched the same as this season, then the percentage of starts with a game score of at least 60 would increase from 24% to 34%.

Jack: Well it tells you they suffered a lot of injuries, but it ALSO tells you that the guys they called up to fill in failed miserably. There was zero depth when it came to finding anyone above replacement level to fill in. Hopefully the next wave of young pitchers in the organization can do better.

Wesley: It tells me our pitchers have been either ineffective or injured. As Makakilo said, it is good that these players have all gotten some experience in the big leagues. I’d imagine getting your major league debut out of the way is quite helpful.

Dano: Our pitching has pretty much sucked from top to bottom aside from Merrill Kelly most nights, and as Jack notes, the injuries exposed the woeful lack of depth at the top levels of our farm system.

James: That there were injuries and a woeful lack of depth in the organization. More the latter than the former.

Outside of MadBum and Gallen, which of them do you think will be most valuable to the team?

Makakilo: Merrill Kelly. Through 11 August he started 24 games. His game score was at least 60 for 7 games. When he started, the Diamondbacks won 10 games.

Jack: Honestly I’m struggling with this question. Define “will” as in time frame. The rest of this season? In 2022? Or in total, starting from today, who will give the team the most career value going forward? I guess it’s the latter, and when you put it like that... it’s pretty bleak. Merrill Kelly is a good pitcher, and clearly he should be able to provide value for the team in 2022 if he’s not traded. But then he’s a free agent. Luke Weaver, Caleb Smith, and Taylor Widener are all big question marks moving forward. Should any of those three even be in a MLB rotation at this point? Probably not. Ironically, all three could be pretty good members of a bullpen however. So it’s going to have to be one of the pitching prospects, and I just have no idea which one will step forward, stay healthy, and perform at a valuable level in 2022 and beyond.

Wesley: Makakilo and Jack have both answered this question correctly. I am much more excited about Humberto Castellanos, Drey Jameson, Brandon Pfaadt than I am about Weaver, Widener, and Smith. Never forget the ol’ acronym, TINSTAAPP, ie There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

Dano: I think we all pretty much concur on this. In the near term, Merrill Kelly. He eats innings. In the longer term, who the heck knows? Could be any of them, could sadly be none of the above.

James: I’ve been singing the same song since June, so I might as well stick with my broken record prediction: Humberto Mejía. Merrill Kelly is gone no later than the end of next season. Mejía is just now arriving. So long as he stays healthy, he should be good for 160+ IP of above average starting pitching, which is the big plus that Kelly brings - except Mejía will be doing it for a longer period of time and might even surprise with occasional flashes of excellence.

Ketel Marte: 2nd base or center field?

Makakilo: One problem is defense up the middle of the field (second base, short stop, and center field). In the last two weeks the Diamondbacks improved their season total up the middle from negative 35 DRS to negative 33 DRS, so maybe the problem has recently been fixed.

In the context of that problem, Ketel Marte at second base had a positive 3 DRS in each of 2019 and 2020. This season, Ketel Marte at center field had a negative 13 DRS. If next season the Diamondbacks promote a MLB-ready prospect to center field, then moving Ketel Marte to second base could improve DRS by a large amount.

Jack: Insert dead horse gif here. Either put him at 2b, or try him at 3b, but get him the hell out of CF.

Wesley: As Jack said, Ketel absolute does not need to be playing CF. Second base would be ideal.

Dano: I second the dead horse.

James: Put me in the deceased equine club.

Who do you want to see get quality playing time in September?

Makakilo: Although I like the idea of giving younger players more at-bats in September, there is an exception. This season Christain Walker’s defense at first base is an outstanding positive 5 DRS. This season, his batting slumped (OPS+ fell from 111 to 84). The last 10 days, based on hits and RBIs, he is breaking out of the slump. I’d like to continue that trend because he is an awesome player who deserves a chance to show it.

Jack: I just can’t agree with Mak on this one. Walker and Peralta should have their playing time immediately cut in half from what it is now. Neither should start more than TWO games a week, and preferably just ONE. The same goes for Kole Calhoun when he comes back. Make THAT decision, and it opens up more playing time for the guys you still need to evaluate over the final month, which is basically all of them.

Wesley: I’m with Jack here, Peralta, Walker should be riding the pine for the rest of the season. Varsho needs to be given everyday playing time. Jake MCarthy needs to be playing everyday. Get Pavin in at first, and slot Ellis in at third. Let’s see what these young guys can do if given some consistent playing time.

Dano: Yup. I’m with Jack as well. Give the playing time to the young guys. As much as I love our Freight Train, he is not the future, and we should be using the last month of the season to help us start to figure out who is.

James: Mostly, I want to see the younger prospects and pseudo-prospects get the bulk of the playing time. There is just no reason for Peralta to be racking up serious innings, or for Christian Walker to even remain on the roster. I get that Calhoun will get some showcase innings. I also get that Ahmed is the only player even close to the Majors that can reliably play short. Ketel Marte is still on the roster, so he’ll get regular starts, as will Carson Kelly. Outside of those position players though, I don’t want to be seeing any vets getting significant at-bats. This is the time for development and evaluation. There are a number of difficult questions that need answering. The sooner they get to it, the better.

What will never not be funny?

Makakilo: I Love Lucy makes me laugh. It’s funny. Always will be.

Jack: Bob LoBlaw, Attorney at Law

Wesley: The Big Lebowski gets funnier every time I see it. Dave Chappelle’s first two hour comedy specials are still hilarious nearly 20 years later. There are quite a few standup specials that are still funny, years later; George Carlin’s later specials, Mitch Hedberg’s endless one liners, that Eddie Murphy Raw standup special.. I could go on for awhile.

Dano: Any on-field mishap of which the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees fall victim. If that mishap involves AJ Pollock, all the better.

James: The Mel Brooks’ greatest hits. Some of his films were real clunkers, funny, only in a groaning sort of way, if at all. But, when the man’s genius was flowing, it was unstoppable and will remain funny for as long as there is humour left in the world, even if you couldn’t possibly make some of those films today.

Jim: Fawlty Towers. An impeccable masterpiece of both writing and comedic timing.