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Snake Bytes, 12/5: Winter meetings start

Will anything of note happen in San Diego?

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Snowfall in Ukraine’s Borodianka Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Nothing particularly of D-backs relevance to note, but please feel free to use this thread as a dumping ground for any related rumors and/or genera chit-chat. While we’re here...

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks still ‘very much looking to add’ to bullpen after Miguel Castro signing - The Arizona Diamondbacks have added a pair of hard-throwing relievers over the past three weeks, most recently signing right-hander Miguel Castro on Friday, but general manager Mike Hazen said he is still looking for more help in that area. “This is not our final move (in the bullpen),” Hazen said. “I mean, I hope it’s not our final move. I hope there is enough opportunity for us out there. Whether it comes free agent, trade, in the future, we’re still very much looking to add.” The bullpen figures to remain a focus for the Diamondbacks when the winter meetings kick off on Monday in San Diego.

[SI] MLB Winter Meetings Underway in San Diego - General Mike Hazen made clear in his press conference that he is not done adding to the bullpen, which is the number one priority this off season. Hazen has also indicated the desire to add more starting pitching depth and right handed balance to the lineup, although Lewis helps with that need at least to some degree. Arizona is expected to trade one of their left handed outfielders, possibly from among Jake McCarthy, Alek Thomas, or even Daulton Varsho. Earlier this week we took a look at the trade values of the Diamondbacks left handed hitting outfielders.

[CBS] Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens left out of Baseball Hall of Fame again - Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling were passed over by a Baseball Hall of Fame committee that elected former big league slugger Fred McGriff to Cooperstown on Sunday. It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. McGriff, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six big league teams. The first baseman was a five-time All-Star and helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

[NY Post] All eyes again on Aaron Judge as contract will set tone for MLB offseason - The meetings got underway Sunday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, with the focus on Judge, whose free agency was already the biggest story in the baseball world even before Jacob deGrom opted to bolt the Mets in favor of the Rangers and the five-year, $185 million contract they gave him. The timing and amount of the deGrom signing caught some by surprise, but the destination wasn’t. The consensus heading into these meetings was that the Yankees — who are “believed to have $300 million-plus on the table” to Judge, according to The Post’s Jon Heyman, remain the favorites to retain him.

[The Athletic] How MLB’s new rules are shaping the 2022-23 offseason and changing the art of team building - As the Winter Meetings get rocking this week, we’re already beginning to see signs that the potential impact of those rules has affected how organizations will build their teams this offseason. And what are those signs? What are those impacts? And how might it change roster construction? I’ve spent time looking into that, with fascinating input from front offices, coaching staffs and agents. So here’s a look at how the new rules are shaping the 2022-23 offseason.

Bullet Train (2022)

Rating: C

Dir: David Leitch
Star: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Brian Tyree Henry, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

I was expecting better, and the grade definitely reflects this. I really enjoyed the ludicrous excess of Hobbs & Shaw, while Atomic Blonde was flat-out incredible. This, in comparison, feels by the numbers, and not very innovative. The mark is also dragged down by a script which feels like it was cobbled together out of scraps from Quentin Tarantino’s waste-paper basket. It runs 126 minutes, and should have been about 100: very chatty. Oh, well-assembled and slick as hell, especially considering it cost a relatively small $90 million ($20m of which went to Pitt). However, it is no exaggeration to say that Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday, which we watched the previous evening, was a better showcase of combat cinema, despite its budget probably not covering the cost of Brad’s hand-sanitizer on this production.

It takes place, almost exclusively, on a Japanese train going from Tokyo to Kyoto. On it are various groups of and individual assassins, battling for control of a suitcase stuffed with cash, and the son of notorious Japanese crime boss, the White Death. These include snatch-and-grab guy Ladybug (Pitt); double-act Tangerine (Henry) and Lemon (Taylor-Johnson – hard to remember him as Kick-Ass!); and the Prince (King), a teenage girl with a flair for deception. There are others, because this seems to rely on lobbing a new character in, in lieu of developing existing ones. The likes of Zazie Beetz’s Hornet get flushed away so quickly, you wonder why they bothered at all. It feels like a case where less could well have been more.

The comedic tone seems a bit at odds with material which definitely skews dark. I sense Leitch was perhaps going for a Guy Ritchie-esque approach, yet too often the delivery seems to fall flat. I was occasionally amused by Ladybug’s deadpan delivery of self-help aphorisms, but the “Thomas the Tank Engine” references quickly reached #DeadHorse territory. To be fair, his obsession is something present in the original Japanese novel (who knew Thomas was big in Japan?), but this kind of thing seemed to be used as a replacement for meaningful development. Lemon’s repeated reduction of people to train archetypes is relevant, since there’s a case to be made that Thomas had more well-rounded characters.

That said, I was never bored, thanks to the film possessing a brisk commitment to carnage, albeit largely by eschewing any connection to reality. The level of mayhem it depicts would be tolerable on the Saturday Special out of South Bermondsey, rather than Japan, yet law enforcement appears solely concerned with Ladybug not having his ticket. The film does work as a very nice commercial for the bullet train service, though I doubt the carriages are as Cinemascope wide as depicted top. It all adds up to create a distancing effect, largely nullifying any emotional context. I’m not sure the movie cares, appearing more concerned about showcasing its more or less significant cameos, e.g. Ryan Reynolds, Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock.