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SnakePit Round Table: We don't ❤️ Tombstone

US-HISTORY-WEST-TOURISM Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

What do we do about the closer’s spot?

Justin: Musical chairs?

Wesley: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I have no idea. It’s not like we have guys in the minors ready to kick the door down.

Spencer: I dunno. Have everyone play darts on Sunday evenings to bid for bullpen designations?

James: I would probably leave Melancon in the role until someone comes along and actually takes it from him. As shaky as he has been, it isn’t like anyone else is stepping up in an undeniable way. I would, sooner rather than later, like to see Bob Workman make his way to the 26-man. Unless the organization is ready to convert a couple of the arms currently working as minor league starters into relievers, he’s probably highest on my list of potential closer candidates. He’s been dominating for more than a full season now. Give him a shot and see what he can do. If he stinks, Melancon and others are still around to pick up the pieces. Don’t wait until they are out of the way.

Makakilo: Keep Melancon as the closer. Although his 6.16 8.49 ERA is high, that’s not what is important for a closer. His 7 saves in 8 opportunities (88%) and his 77% 71% got-the-job-done are excellent stats that support keeping Melancon as the closer. His mental strength will allow him to learn from bad results and confidently move forward.

“Unfortunately, I have been in these situations before…But I also learned the most in my entire career after [these situations].” – Mark Melancon

Dano: There were several comments in the Saturday night GDT that were focused around letting Noe Ramirez and Joe Mantiply keep pitching if they’re throwing well, and around requiring Melancon to earn back the role that he was given to start the year, and I feel sympathetic to those positions and those ideas. With all due respect to Michael, and by extension to Makakilo, nobody has had the opportunity to take Melancon’s role from him because he’s been pretty much the only person who’s been given a chance in that role. Kennedy has 3 saves now in 4 opportunities, but honestly I don’t trust him very much. Mantiply has 2 saves in 3 opportunities. I’d say let the hot hand, or arm, have a shot, and see if someone rises to the occasion. As for Melancon, though, I’m in the camp of those who feel that Melancon needs to prove that he can do the job going forward at this point.

Update: Having slept on it, and seeing some of the comments that appeared after I went to bed last night, I’m thinking that the problem doesn’t seem to be Melancon in save situations, per se. He’s 7 for 8 in converting saves. However, non-save situations that are nevertheless very high leverage are really where he kills us. So maybe keep giving him the actual save opportunities until he proves that he can’t be trusted there. But for the love of God, we need to use someone else in situations where the game is tied in the ninth. Let Ramirez or Mantiply take those situations, or someone from down on the farm. But only use Melancon in actual save situations, or give him mop-up duty in a blowout if he needs work. The long and short of it is that the dude cannot be trusted to pitch the ninth in a tie game.

Justin: My first comment on this was BEFORE last nights’ debacle… lol. So, judging by Dan’s comment…

ISH95: If there was a clear cut candidate to replace him, I’d be all for it. Right now though there just isn’t. In the meantime, they have to stop throwing him in non-save situations. His results have been decent enough with a lead, but not when it’s tied. As I discussed with some of the Pitters on Twitter (heh that rhymes) yesterday, I get it’s traditionally a closers job, but maybe it’s time to treat that part as closer by committee.

Why is Arizona’s rotation ERA so much better than the bullpen?

Justin: Maybe Stromm had more of an impact on the SPs. The bullpen guys are basically the same with 2 has beens (IPK and Melancon) I know the starting rotation is essentially the same as last year, though, so maybe my logic is faulty.

Wesley: I would think Strom prioritized the starters, likely because the potential there was obvious and easier to fix. Plus you have to factor in the baseline of talent, which… there isn’t a whole lot of talent in our bullpen.

Spencer: I think it’s easier to make adjustments between innings and earn better results than it is mid-inning. And I wouldn’t discount the shortened offseason where Stromm had to prioritize some pitchers over others. The rotation is where the most value will come from. One would imagine the closer/setup would also garner that prioritization, but who knows?

James: Strom himself talked about this not too long ago. One thing going for the starters over the relievers is the fatigue factor. Strom has to be more mindful of what sorts of work he has the relievers doing as they need to be available for action more often than not. He has a full four days between starts to work with starters and have them do more than watch film and listen to advice. Also, starters are usually better pitchers than relievers and Arizona’s bullpen is not exactly stocked with quality relievers to begin with.

Makakilo: Brent Strom likely prioritized the starters because they were the easiest to improve. Also, it feels like the bullpen was nearly completely remade during the offseason. It may take months to determine improvements and for the bullpen to reach its potential.

Dano: We have more raw talent in the starting rotation, pure and simple. We have drafted more with the rotation in mind, for years, and we have spent more money on starters to fill out the rotation. There’s a lot more for Strom to work with there. With the bullpen, we have underinvested in the bullpen for nigh on a decade, both in terms of not trying to develop homegrown relievers and not spending any real money on impact bullpen arms. Instead, we have preferred to pluck roster-fillers off various free agent and DFA scrap heaps (especially last year), and have tried to dumpster dive for cheap back-end solutions. It hasn’t worked well in the past, and it continues to work badly now. Seems pretty simple, really.

ISH95: The starters are just better, pure and simple. Merrill Kelly has cemented himself as a strong starting pitcher, MadBum is a former Cy Young Award Winner, and we traded Jazz Chisholm for Gallen for a reason. Strom had those starting points for the rotation, and just plain didn’t for the bullpen.

Alek Thomas arrived. How do you see his future?

Wesley: Hall of pretty good. He should be a regular all-star, who has great defense to go along with a nice power-speed combo. easily a 2-3 WAR player on down years, maybe a 5-6 WAR player if he reaches his absolute ceiling.

Spencer: I think he’ll be in the Hall of Pretty Darn Good for a good amount of time (5-10 year peak). I could see his career being similar to Peralta’s, but better with good health and longevity. He is debuting at a super young age, which is good for him. But I would put money on him being an All Star snub more often than actually in the game.

James: It is still early days, but I am anticipating that he is a quality regular as a starting OF, probably in RF with some appearances in CF once the OF of the future arrives. I’m still not sure he’ll be all-star material, but if I were betting, I would bet that he is never the guy the team is worried about not carrying the weight for his playing time. I see him as probably a regular 3 WAR player with perhaps a couple of seasons running into the 5 WAR range if he happens to get really hot for a stretch.

Makakilo: In September of 2015, the Diamondbacks wanted to lock-up AJ Pollock long term. It did not happen, possibly because of his frequent injuries. Instead, center field was a game of musical chairs. Let’s look back a few seasons:

  • In 2019, Jarrod Dyson and Ketel Marte were the two primary center fielders.
  • In 2020, Starling Marte was acquired to play center field. On 31 August he was traded away. In September 2020 Daulton Varsho played center field.
  • In 2021, Ketel Marte was the primary center fielder with poor defensive results. The others were mainly Pavin Smith, Daulton Varsho, and Tim Locastro.
  • In 2022, Varsho looked great in center field until Carson Kelly was injured. With the need for Varsho at Catcher, that again left a hole in center field. Alek Thomas was promoted to play center field. In his first 38 innings, he played great defense (1 DRS and 1 OAA). His 225 OPS+ in his first 13 PAs showed he is ready to be the Diamondbacks’ primary center fielder.

What will happen when Carson Kelly returns? More musical chairs! I see the possibility that Alek Thomas will be optioned back to AAA despite excellent performance in the Majors.

Dano: I’ve been impressed with him so far since his debut. Not only does he seem to be pretty capable already of hitting MLB pitching, he also fields his position really well. I have hopes that he will be at least a solid and positive contributor on both sides of the ball as he grows into maturity as a player. I think I’m with James on this one. I think it’ll be fun and interesting to see how he evolves as a player, though.

Justin: I see that Mak likes the musical chairs theme :P But seriously, I agree with Dan and James.

ISH95: traded to the Braves I don’t know. He seems pretty good. If he turned out to be Chris Young minus the injuries, I’d be happy.

Who’ll be the next prospect to get the call?

Wesley: Stone Garrett is absolutely raking, so he’d be an obvious callup. I’d imagine Ryne Nelson, Tommy Henry or some other starting pitcher is the next to be called up. If there wasn’t such a glut of outfielders, I’d say Carroll because he’s absolutely tearing it up in Amarillo.

Spencer: I assume this means those that haven’t already debuted? Because if we’re simply talking rookie-eligible guys, I’ll take the safe bet on Corbin Martin for the Dodgers double-header. But for a true newby? I guess I’ll go with Ryne Nelson or Tommy Henry. I think it will depend on what position is needed/desired on the MLB roster and which of them is pitching better in Reno. I doubt the team dives straight to Amarillo for the next debutant. Maybe in September or next season though.

James: I’ll go out on a limb and say Stone Garrett, though I’m not quite sure how that would play out since he is an OF. He is likely a placeholder, but he bats from the right side and might have a bit of pop, though it obviously remains to be seen if his pop translates from Reno to Phoenix. But he’s 26 already. So, if he is ever going to get a chance, it is probably now.

Makakilo: Spencer was on-target with Corbin Martin and Ryne Nelson, who are my picks.

Dano: I honestly have no idea. Hopefully someone who can pitch effectively out of the bullpen, or someone who can hit and field effectively at one of our underperforming positions.

MLB on Apple TV. What did you think - if you watched it!

Wesley: ¯\_( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)_/¯ I didn’t watch any of it.

Spencer: I did manage to catch the last couple innings while getting ready for work! I thought it was fine. The announcers weren’t my favorite, but I didn’t think them any worse than the impromptu Gonzo and Other Guy during the COVID week.

And I REALLY REALLY REALLY loved not having Bally Sports’ advertisements all over the screen blocking important parts of the game (or cutting to/from commercials at less than ideal times). All-in-all, give me a cleaner screen with Steven and BB and I’d say it’s perfect.

James: My admittedly short experience with the feed was a mixed bag. The video was clean, which is always a plus. BUt for me, I had plenty of stutters and mini-freezes, which my setup absolutely should not have had. I am hearing others avoided most of those though, so it is likely something that will not be a big issue moving forward. The announcers were terrible. The actual game audio was terrific. The stats in the bottom corner were fun, but I am a bit skeptical about them as I don’t know what they are using as a basis for their data.

Dano: Noped out of that one, and would have even if I had Apple TV. I prefer announcers who actually know the teams and the players and the coaches whose games they are calling. Otherwise, it’s just listening to Joe Buck call a Diamondbacks game and, um, no thank you.

What famous place is not worth visiting?

Wesley: Mount Rushmore, Tombstone, Old Tucson Studios… most major cities that are “famous” smell disgusting and never live up to the imagination, ie San Francisco, New York City, Paris, etc. There’s a whole syndrome when people go to Paris and go into shock at how disappointing it is.

Justin: Tombstone

Spencer: I second Tombstone.

James: Growing up in Arizona and taking several field trips as a child to both Tombstone and Old Tucson, I have a hard time arguing with the Tombstone answer. When I visited Stonehenge, I was still a bit awed by the history on display, but the fact that the road and just the hustle and bustle of life comes up so close to it really poured cold water on a bunch of the experience.

Makakilo: Thurston Lava Tube. One dark place without stars is a lot like any other dark place without stars.

Dano: I actually find it fairly easy to argue with the Tombstone answer. It’s a charming and silly place to spend a couple of hours, as long as you know what you’re walking into, which is basically a five-block-by-three-block gift shop with a deeply cynical and egregiously capitalistic Olde Weste theme to it. Also, if one has eyes to see it, it’s situated in a remarkable patch of Arizona countryside.

So, nah. I’d suggest Fort Sumter, SC, and any and all surrounding Civil War nostalgia tourist destinations.

ISH95: Mission Beach SD. There are a lot better beaches in SD that are a lot less crowded and better for swimming.