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SnakePit Round Table: Judge, or not?

Reno’s success, positions of concern and the AL MVP are among this week’s topics.

The 92nd MLB All-Star baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Reno Aces are 2022 PCL champions. How much does that “matter”?

Justin: Eh, the Tucson Sidewinders were in 2006. I would have to go look, but I think the likes of QUDJY, etc were already in the majors in the last half of 2006. Upton didn’t debut until 2007. I am just writing this off the top of my head. I guess what I am saying is it is cool, but doesn’t necessarily mean anything for the big club.

DBacksEurope: They are? That’s great! It’s always better to have a farm team that is a champion (Reno) than one that dwells in the cellar (Visalia), so congrats to the team. It shows that the future might be bright for the D-Backs!

ISH95: I don’t know if it matters, per se, but I think it speaks to the quality of the farm system. We’ve been hearing it’s a top farm system for a couple of years now, and this is probably the first real return from that system. What happens next, though, matters much much more. No one in Phoenix is going to throw a parade for the PCL Championship

James: At least those involved got a taste of a “winning culture”. I do think there is something to that. Beyond that though, I don’t think it matters too terribly much. Still, winning is better than losing and I’d love to see more winning in the organization.

Dano: Yay. [shrugs]

Michael: It matters that these players learn how to win baseball games before they hit the big leagues. We saw Corbin Carroll, Drey Jameson, Ryne Nelson, Alek Thomas, and Brandon Pfaadt participate in that culture this year. Thomas was also a part of Visalia’s Cal League Championship back in 2019 when they were the team’s High-A affiliate at the time. The only way to learn how to win is to win ball games, nothing else teaches those lessons better.

Spencer: I’d be more excited if the team had more players expected to be essential to our next contender. Good for them. But all in all, I’m not sure “learning to win” matters for anyone other than Pfaadt/Thomas. It’s exciting for those guys though and I’m happy they get to try for the championship.

Makakilo: It matters because it is an indication that the Diamondbacks in Reno have a winning mindset. Either they have a winning mindset or they don’t – I’m glad they have it.

Steven: You play to win the game. I think we saw from other Arizona teams that losing is contagious and it’s easy to get complacent. Instill that mentality while you’re young and in the minors so you’re ready to compete at the highest level. I will admit baseball is a different animal, it’s not really a team game as the individual plays of the game are 1v1 events but at the end of the day they win as a team and lose as one.

Wesley: I think cultivating an enviroment of success is important. As clichéd as it is, that mindset of knowing HOW to win is important too.

What non-bullpen position concerns you most for 2023 in Arizona?

Justin: You had to make it difficult by going with non bullpen? :P I guess SS and 3B. I think the Perdomo as an everyday player experiment has run it’s course. That said, next season he will still only be 23. Ahmed is done. For me the 3B position isn’t as much of a worry and “who will get the majority of playing time?” I will stick with what I said elsewhere and say Rivera should be given the chance to sink or swim.

DBacksEurope: the infield in general and short term shortstop and long term probably 3B. But except for maybe Escobar hasn’t 3B always been like that in Arizona the last 20 years?

ISH95: Probably third base. Without jumping ahead, I think the rest of the positions are at least covered. Maybe not with a superstar, but someone who should be at least above league average in some way shape or form. Rivera has been fun, but let’s just say we got him for Luke Weaver for a reason, and Rojas is more useful as a jack of all trades, rather than keeping him tied to one position.

James: The infield in general. Christian Walker has been fine at first this year. Hopefully, he can repeat or improve next season. The rest of the infield is a massive question mark though. Which Nick Ahmed will show up? Can Perdomo at least hit his weight? Who can they field at third that can at least bring a league average or above bat? Are we really going to rely on Marte to man second?

Dano: Third base, definitely. We’ve got a respectable set of prospects for that position in terms of what teams tend to expect from 3B bats, but in terms of how they actually field the position? Not so much. And it doesn’t seem like we have prospects in the pipeline that will fill that position competently any time soon.

Michael: I would have to go with catcher. Third base is the area that gets the most attention, but there are at least playable options between Rojas or Rivera compared to catcher where there aren’t any options who can provide average starter value. Carson Kelly is not the answer there, the offense is not up to par for a catcher who’s an average defender. Hummel and Herrera are Triple-A depth options behind the dish, but neither guy looks capable of handling big league pitching on a consistent basis despite solid receiving skills.

Spencer: Catcher. I’ve been Carson’s biggest supporter for years. And I still am. But I’d like to see more offense from him. Varsho is not the answer; that’s clear. So who’s next? Hummel? Ooof. Herrera? Lighter bat than Kelly. I don’t want to sign Contreras or anything, but I wouldn’t be opposed to trading with PIT/TOR for one of their many young catchers either (Toronto moreso than Pittsburgh because they are closer to the Bigs, but I’m not that picky).

Makakilo: My three concerns are ranked low, medium, and high.

Low concern. At the All-Star break, Geraldo Perdomo needed to improve his defense at shortstop per this AZ Snake Pit article. In the second half of the season, his DRS was positive 4, while his outs above average was a negative 1. That improvement was good, but there is room for more improvement. On offense, this season’s 60 OPS+ needs to improve to the 90s, which is realistically achievable. Although Nick Ahmed will be back, Geraldo Perdomo is needed because Ahmed is getting old for a shortstop.

Medium concern. After injuries last season and this season, Ketel Marte needs to bounce back with great defense at second base (this season was his first with negative DRS at second base) and with great batting (his OPS+ fell from 144 last season to 106 this season). The exclamation mark is that Ketel Marte is under contract for 5 more seasons. Here is his 2021 AZ Snake Pit player review.

High concern. Madison Bumgarner is under contract for two more seasons. The AZ Snake Pit writers wrote about him in one question in this roundtable. This season his ERA+ fell from 90 to 83, and his average game score fell from 50.3 to 45.8. His pitcher-of-record wins were 7, while his losses were 15. His game-score win-loss record was 4 wins and 10 losses per the method explained in this AZ Snake Pit article.

Steven: Shortstop is a massive concern for me, Perdomo doesn’t have the glove to support his complete lack of bat. Nick Ahmed is coming off shoulder surgery and is now 33, and internal options like Sergio Alcantara are unproven. Blaze Alexander is Rule 5 eligible this off-season and I’d like to see him get a chance at the MLB level after demolishing the upper minors this last year.

Wesley: My actual concerns right now is Ketel Marte just completely falling of a cliff, and the albatross that is Madbum’s contract. I am quite optimistic about our young players.

Conversely, what spot are you least worried about?

Justin: The outfielders. I can’t think of the last time we have had multiple, exciting young OFers come up at once.

DBacksEurope: Right Field lol

ISH95: If the bullpen was the caveat in the last question, I feel like the outfield should have been for this one lol I’m going to go a different route and say first base. It’s a huge turn around from where I was last offseason when I was wondering why we tendered Walker a contract, but he’s really come into his own. The next two seasons or so, first base should be just fine.

James: The easy answer is the outfield. If I try to dig a bit deeper, I would go with either first base or starting pitching. Really though, outside of the outfield, the entire team needs help in one way or another.

Dano: OF is good. And honestly I’m a bit shocked to be saying this, but I feel pretty good about whatever our starting rotation will wind up being (aside from the Bum, of course) going into 2023. I have no idea who will actually comprise it, but we’ve seen very respectable efforts from a lot of the young’uns over this last month, and that assures me that we’ll be able to fill it out in a way that performs at least respectably.

Michael: The Opening Day/Game 1 starter. That honor goes to Zac Gallen.

Spencer: Wherever we decide to put MadBum/Marte. I will be angry if Bum pitches the first game. But I don’t want him pitching for us at all. Eat the money and move on. A game he starts is a game I assume we lose. And Marte just needs to try again. I don’t expect an MVP level player anymore, but I’m worried this year was his new peak and if that’s true, Yowzah 2B will be bad.

Makakilo: My three non-concerns follow:

Third Base. It’s been a long time since the Diamondbacks could feel good about third base. With Emmanuel Rivera and Sergio Alcantara, I’m feeling optimistic (despite Rivera’s recently fractured wrist). For details see this AZ Snake Pit article and this AZ Snake Pit article.

Catcher. Both near term with Carson Kelly, and long term with Christian Cerda I’m feeling good about the catcher position. See this AZ Snake Pit article.

First Base. This season, Christian Walker was awesome. See this AZ Snake Pit article from May and this FanGraphs article from September.

Steven: Any of the outfield spots. Rotate all 5 of those guys between the 4 open batting positions and let them play.

Wesley: I’m not worried about the OF at all, and to a lesser extent, our starting pitching. The former is self-explanatory, but the latter I suppose requires some exposition. For once it feels like the Dbacks actually know how to develop starting pitching, with guys outperforming their stats from AAA and AA at the MLB level.

Who’s your AL MVP? Ohtani or Judge?

Justin: Ohtani’s value as a batter is 3.9 WAR and as a pitcher 5.9 WAR. Judge is at 10.5 WAR for batting. My personal choice would be Ohtani. I can see Judge, and won’t bat an eye if he wins it. The Yankees likely would have been a playoff team if Judge had 15 less home runs, etc. What Ohtani is doing is like there is a movie or create-a-player (in a video game) phenom that you just go “pfft, yeah right, a pitcher dominating and also hitting 30hrs?!” I concede, you could also use that example for what Judge is doing, as well.

DBacksEurope: Aaron Judge, but Ohtani is a much more valuable player.

ISH95: Ohtani by any definition is the most valuable player in the game. No one since Tungsten Arm O’Doyle has done what he’s doing, and I think it will be a very long time before anyone does it again. He’s two all-star players in one roster spot and essentially allows the Angels to have a 27 player team.

However, I really don’t think he’s going to win it. What Judge is doing is equally unprecedented, especially if one discounts the Steroids Era. Even with that era included, no one in the American league has done it in 55 years. Plus, for a certain demographic of fans and writers, he is going to be the “real” Home Run King. Judge is going to win it, and I don’t think it’s going to be particularly close

James: Judge is going to win the award and I am okay with that, especially if he manages to secure the Triple Crown. That said, no votes for Ohtani are wrong votes. I would preferably like to see Ohtani win it, but it just seems highly unlikely.

Dano: I so don’t care about awards like this. Really. They’re intensely subjective on so many different levels, based on player performance but also upon what the person making the judgment values most in terms of the “right way” to play baseball. Given these two choices, I’d say Ohtani, because he does something different for his team, and provides different sorts of value. Judge can hit, and hit baseballs over fences that are a long way away, and while he’s impressively good at doing those things, I’m not unduly impressed.

Michael: Judge and it isn’t that close. He has a good shot of winning the AL Triple Crown plus is leading the AL in pretty much every meaningful offensive category other than batting average right now. The home run chase certainly brings attention to it, but is not the deciding factor for me. It was going to take something special to take the award from Ohtani and what Judge is doing this year is more than special.

Spencer: Ohtani. There’s really no contest when you’re that good on both sides of the ball. I adore Judge and love that he’s going to get the Triple Crown and AL home run record. In any era without Ohtani, he’s MVP hands down. But a “one-sided” player like that just can’t compare.

Makakilo: Judge. Recently at my gym I lightly talked about Diamondback baseball with a couple people who don’t usually follow baseball. To my delight and surprise they brought up Judge and his homers! He is generating excitement and interest in baseball.

Steven: Judge. 210 wRC+ is just laughable. It’s quite honestly improbable for him to do what he did all year long.

Wesley: Judge will win it, but Ohtani is doing things that no one else is doing.

Phillies or Brewers for the last wild-card spot?

Justin: I have already said, my dream scenario would be for us to eliminate the Brewers from playoff contention in our last series. I guess this is more, “Wanting us to eliminate the Brewers” than really supporting the Phillies. The Phillies play the Houston Astros to close out the year.

DBacksEurope: Phillies.

ISH95: If you catch me on the right day, I would literally choose the Dodgers over the Brewers, so this is an easy choice for me. Screw the Brewers, Screw Roid Braun, Screw Prince Fielder, Nyjer Morgan, and Rickie Weeks. I will never forget the 2011 NLDS.

James: I probably would prefer to see the Phillies go to the playoffs. However, if the Brewers do end up with the final slot, I will likely be rooting for Craig Counsell and Pat Murphy. If not for them, there is no way I could stomach rooting for Milwaukee. However, I especially appreciate those two, so I will at least not be vocally shouting down the Brewers down the stretch. That said, I would still love to see Arizona sweep them.

Dano: Phillies, I hope. Partly because they were the team I grew up rooting for in the Philadelphia suburbs of South Jersey, but also because it will mean that we will have been the spoilers who ruined Milwaukee’s October in the final series. And that’s pretty much all the Diamondbacks have to play for in the last week.

Michael: Up to the D-backs to decide who goes in, although I’d favor Milwaukee in the final stretch of games over Philadelphia. The Phillies are playing some bad baseball right now and Milwaukee hasn’t done great but have taken advantage to some degree. For a Wild Card round matchup, I would favor the Cardinals over both although a little less with Milwaukee since that’s an intra-divisional matchup.

Spencer: Phillies. Because I want to play spoiler.

Makakilo: The Phillies and Brewers are in a very close race for a wild card spot. My intuition is the Phillies will get the spot because:

  • The Phillies were ahead by 1 game through Saturday.
  • Phillies may do well against the Astros if the Astros rest players before the postseason.
  • Brewers will face the Diamondbacks who, with a winning mindset, will fight for wins every game.

Steven: Gimme the Phillies. They’re just the better team with the best chance to pull an upset with their starting rotation.

Wesley: Phillies, because we can play spoiler, and I’m not THAT much of contrarian.

What popular food can you not see the appeal of?

Justin: This might sound weird, but what immediately comes to mind is greasy pizza. I like pizza, don’t get me wrong. But when you have to dab the grease off with a napkin before eating it..ew. I guess any greasy stuff, really. I do have intestinal issues so it could be a subconscious “if I eat this, bad things will happen.”

DBacksEurope: In Europe fancy burger restaurants have popped up everywhere the last 10 years. I like a good burger but to pay more than $10 for a piece of minced meat seems crazy to me. If you order a pork burger they ask how you want your burger…people eat pork meat anything other than cooked?

ISH95: I won’t say I can’t see the appeal of it at all, but I’ll say true fast food. I don’t care how cheap it is, actually look at a McDonald’s chicken nugget and explain to me why anyone should be putting that in their body. It’s disgusting and doesn’t even taste good. It’s cheap and fast, and frankly, food needs more than that for me.

Dano: Mac and cheese, in any of its variants, elevated or otherwise. Really, any food where cheese in a mainly liquid form is a fundamental component is disgusting. That’s all.

Spencer: Steak. I’ve never had one that’s anything special. And believe me, people have forced a lot of steaks in front of me because of that. I’ll take my red meat in almost any other form please.


Makakilo: ISH knows food! Please note that I wrote my answer before reading his answer.

Chicken nuggets. Who thought of serving fried batter-covered pressed-together tasteless chicken with embedded chunks of gristle that need to be spit out? And what about the other ingredients? A website listed 14 ingredients (not counting sub-ingredients) in chicken nuggets. For me, a simpler and better alternative is spicy buffalo wings, especially vegan buffalo wings (containing no chicken).

Wesley: I’m with ISH95 on fast food, but also basically any chain restaurant that I’m better served making it myself than going out to eat. Half the time those places are using reheated frozen food. Also, ketchup/catsup. I know people LOVE ketchup, but it’s my least favorite food.