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SnakePit Round Table: Happy Halloween!

The World Series and the middle infield are also discussed

Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Phillies vs. Astros. Thoughts?

DBacksEurope: I think the pitching depth on the Astros will eventually tilt the WS their way. The Phillies need to win the first two games where Nola and Wheeler start and then hope they are able to out-slug their opponent. Sounds like a tough strategy but they achieved it so far.

Spencer: I have no animosity toward Houston anymore. It’s been long enough, and the players have suffered for their actions. Therefore, I really don’t care who wins it all this year. I’m more interested in whether the team built around no defense and big free agent deals can beat the team built around solid fundamentals and in-house extensions. In this respect, I root for Houston because that’s the only way the D’Backs ever make it this far in a season again.

Justin: Yeah, I’ll agree I don’t have any animosity toward Houston anymore. Beat the trashcan slowly, play the fife lowly…

I am rooting for the Phillies. Just every Sunday Snake Bytes this month, I have written about the team that wasn’t supposed to get in, beat the Cardinals, Padres or the Braves (actually, I think they clinched the NLCS on Sunday). Here we are. I believe only Segura is a former Dback, as well. The Astros were the team that IPK gave up 3 home runs in ⅔ an inning too… I know because I recapped that one (Spencer… >.<)

Makakilo: In my dreams, in a couple seasons the Diamondbacks will reach the World Series as underdogs. In that dream season, I would cheer for the underdog Diamondbacks; this season I am was cheering for the underdog Phillies (87 wins vs 106 wins). Oh, one more reason…trash cans are hard to forget…

Spencer’s comment made me rethink/change my answer for two reasons:

  • The Diamondbacks defense is similar to the Astros’ defense (Diamondbacks 56 DRS, Astros 67 DRS, Phillies negative 33 DRS).
  • Next season, the Diamondbacks will have 3 players (Bumgarner, Marte, and Ahmed) making at least $10 Million, and I assume at $103 Million total salary, they have room to surge by adding two additional free agents (at $10 Million each) making a total of 5 high salary players. That makes them more like the Astros (7 high salary players) than the Phillies (10 high salary players).

Dano: I actually do retain a fair amount of animosity for Houston over the cheating thing. I also spent my early years in southern New Jersey, rooting for the Philadelphia Phillies. So Phillies all the way for me. I can’t imagine a circumstance where I would ever root for Houston, and certainly not with this matchup.

Do the D-backs tender a contract to Caleb Smith?

DBacksEurope: Never. He was a non-tender before his injury and now with rehabbing the tear that might eventually end in a surgery anyhow is probably a sure lock to become one of the first victims of the bullpen overhaul. I see the D-Backs offering him to come back on a minor league contract like they did with Devenski.

Spencer: Before the injury, yes. Now that he’s hurt, the easiest no of the offseason. If the team is in the position to NEED CSmith’s arm when it’s healthy in the second half, the season is already over and we’re once again looking at how to build a successful bullpen (and maybe a new GM).

Justin: No, I don’t think they should, maybe before the injury.

Makakilo: No tender because of his elbow injury combined with his free agency in 2024. The Diamondbacks’ contention window may open soon.

Dano: I would say no, but our front office hasn’t exactly acquitted itself well in building a bullpen for years upon years now. So who the hell knows?

What about Jordan Luplow?

DBacksEurope: They’ll probably tender him and if they see an interesting right-handed bat that becomes available they might try to include him in a deal or cut him before the season starts. I don’t see why the Diamondbacks would carry both Garrett and Luplow. It should be either one or the other and normally not any of them at all.

Spencer: DBE makes an interesting point, but I lean no. Garrett has the good story, whereas Luplow has exhausted his good will. Even if Stone is nothing more than Luplow (an unfortunate possibility/likelihood), his rags to “riches” story is better for fan interaction. The only thing that could persuade me otherwise is if Luplow has some sort of special clubhouse respect and plays a pivotal “intangible” role with the team. But I can’t think of a time I heard about that, so I’m going to assume that’s not a real factor.

Justin: Personally, I would non tender Luplow and give that spot to Garrett. Or maybe non tendering Luplow means McCarthy won’t get dealt. I would be all for that one.

As it happens, Jack actually wrote an interesting article reviewing Luplow

Makakilo: No tender. DBE is correct about no need for both Stone Garrett and Jordan Luplow. Stone Garret is two years younger with a higher OPS+ (136 vs 79).

Dano: Please no.

How concerned are you about Ketel Marte at 2B?

DBacksEurope: He rounds the bases like he has something up his ass (excuse the language). He doesn’t look like he has fun either. Always that serious look chewing gum like there is no tomorrow. Dominican people are joyful people, always with a smile. But not him. I think that’s more concerning than anything else with him.

Spencer: I am worried. But I haven’t reached “break glass” territory yet. He could have a nagging injury, which would explain a lot of what happened, but would also start him farther down the “Ahmed” track than I’d like him to be. Or he could have experienced a lazy year after signing a deal that will keep his grandkids rich long after he’s gone. Neither excusable but both understandable.

Either way, I’d bring in another 3B or 2B to give him some genuine competition in the spring and early going of 2023 (3B would push Rojas to second, and obviously a 2B would be direct competition). Someone like Adam Frazier (although a right handed hitter would be preferable); signing him doesn’t necessarily require a guarantee of starting time, but he can be good enough to earn it.

Justin: Yeah, I am worried. I hope last year was a “lazy year.” I really hope he hasn’t just become complacent.

Makakilo: He needs to bounce back from a down season. Three points:

  • In the 2 October roundtable I wrote that Marte was a medium concern. Two reasons were his first ever negative DRS at second base and his OPS+ fell from 144 to 106.
  • Bounce back offense is likely. In his down season, his 41.9% hard hits, and 90.1mph average exit velocity were well above league average, with his maximum exit velocity was in the top 4%. In his down season, he retained his good-eye at the plate, with his 18.1 K% and 9.9 BB% well above league average.
  • Next season, I don’t know whether the rules against shifting will help or hurt his defense at second base, but in either case I am confident he can improve his defense based on prior seasons.

Dano: Not worried, exactly, because I don’t feel a lot of uncertainty or doubt about what we have in Marte at this point. I think he kinda sucks at this point, but we’re also stuck with him, given his salary and his underperformance in recent years. I wish he weren’t on our team anymore, honestly, but what can you do?

Predict how starts at SS will be divided up next year

DBacksEurope: Ahmed and Alcantara, 70-30. I don’t see a spot for Perdomo if Ahmed stays healthy, the bat is pretty much alike. You’d hope we sign Bogaerts or one of the others, but that’s not gonna happen.

Spencer: Ahmed gets 60-70% of the starts assuming health and a return to his anemic bat. Perdomo/Alcantara get a mix of the rest until (if) Lawlar is ready for a September taste. Either Perdomo or Alcantara could be a trade asset throughout the year if they hit ok at all; ditto Ahmed, but far less likely.

If Lawlar’s injury ends up worse than ideal, I could see a weird scenario where Kendrick does open the wallet for a SS bat, but Lawlar would have to be so damaged that the ceiling drops precipitously or his timetable takes a multi-year hit. And even at that point, Rojas might be the answer (although not a great one, he’s probably better than Perdomo/Alcantara and cheaper than a star).

Justin: Yeah, Ahmed will get the most starts. Veteran Presence! ™. The question is who the backup will be and I think Alcantara will. It’ll either be Alcantara or Perdomo.

Makakilo: 40% Ahmed, 35% Perdomo, 20% Alcantara, and 5% Lawler. Three points:

  • Nick Ahmed has been away for a while – his return will be interesting. Nevertheless, his free agency will loom large so Diamondbacks will give playing time to other players, too.
  • Perdomo’s offense needs to improve (otherwise his playing time will be reduced). His defense is improving; in the second half of the season his DRS was positive 4, while his outs above average was a negative 1. There is room for more improvement.
  • Alcantara may split his playing time between third base and shortstop.

Dano: I think we’re all assuming that Ahmed can even come back from the injuries that have been plaguing him for years, and regain something like the defensive form at least that he once had. I am myself skeptical about that. I think he may get the lion’s share of starts early next year, but my expectation is that he loses the job in fairly short order (if he is even in a position to compete for it in spring training), and Perdomo winds up the everyday starter, with Alcantara spelling him and others in the infield as needed.

What are the best/worst things about Halloween?

DBacksEurope: I have nothing with Halloween. I always saw it in US movies but it was not a thing in The Netherlands and Spain until, I don’t know, 15 years ago or so. It’s a commercial event, similar to Black Friday. I do not hate it nor like it.

Best thing is the pumpkins and I think cutting one out and making a face in it is funny. If you don’t paint the pumpkin you can use it to make soup afterwards.

Worst thing is pumpkin ale. I drank one yesterday and it was actually a fine one, but in general it is a horrible beer (since pumpkin doesn’t have any taste, they can add nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and that kind of spices which makes for what I would call interesting combinations).

By the way, in Christian Europe these are traditionally the days where you visit the cemetery. That is what I remember from my childhood, traveling The Netherlands to visit graves (much more fun than Halloween lol).

Spencer: As I’ve stated before, I have a very tiny sweet tooth, so the worst thing for me has always been the absolutely excessive amount of candy replacing better snacks (this lasts through Valentine’s Day with a brief reprieve sometimes around Thanksgiving).

On the plus side, this means I eat far fewer snacks and therefore tend to lose quite of bit of my summer pudge every Fall/Winter before packing it all back on at Spring Cookouts. Another high point for me is seeing those brave enough to costume up and come to work to Trick-or-Treat; makes my day/night every year (secret info: sometimes your kids will make BANK if they go to businesses/organizations where no one else does. Just saying).

Justin: As an adult, I haven’t really gotten into it. I know it isn’t the question, but I will tell you about two of my favorite costumes as a kid. The last Halloween in CT, 1993, I dressed up as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Raphael. I had a plastic shell, and plastic sais.

The only costume I really remember in Arizona was a US Marine costume. I had a camouflage jacket, my mom did camo face paint, etc. There is a picture of me wearing it with a grim, pissy look. My Grandmother saw the picture and asked why I was upset. I said I didn’t want to smile because I felt like I was, “in character.”

My first costume in CT, I was an angel and my mom made it. I was 3 or 4.

Makakilo: My best thing was a costume dinner event with a dozen friends. Friday evening I had fun dressed up in a tuxedo T-shirt, a top hat, black bicycle pants and white gloves.

Perhaps the worst thing is the Diamondbacks’ season is over, but it’s always interesting to see how they remake the team – this offseason the bullpen will be a big remake.

Dano: The worst thing is probably the advent of pumpkin pie, which will now be in circulation for the rest of the year. Pumpkin pie is kind of disgusting. The best thing? Meh. It’s probably going to be going into work on Monday and seeing all of the hardened, trying-to-act-so-grown-up high schoolers getting to actually be kids for a day and wearing unexpectedly goofy and adorable costumes. I kinda love that.