If you are interested in taking part in a round table as a guest, like Nik did this week along side the regular writers, just answer one or more of this week’s questions in the comments. I’ll select one respondee, and send them the questions so they can join in next weekend!
Daulton Varsho goes into the Tigers series batting .181 with one HR in the past month. Are you worried?
James: Only in that he needs to get a regular routine going, including where he plays on the field. Even experienced veterans can have 1-3 bad months. Varsho is athletic enough that I have confidence he will work his way out of this funk if he gets the opportunity.
Spencer: No. Varsho has shown me he knows what he’s doing up there. I agree with James, he just needs to settle into his new role as right fielder. He’ll bring his production back up.
Makakilo: No. My view is that his swing is good, his power is good, and his biggest problem is the fall in his walk rate. A healthy walk rate is an indicator that the batter is waiting for pitches he can hit. Did he lose patience? Did pitchers change how they pitch to him? Optimistically his June slump can be fixed!
Supporting details follow:
Let’s compare this month (through 24th) to the entire season (per Baseball Reference):
- 29.3% of his PAs
- 26.5% of his singles
- 23.1% of his doubles
- 11.1% of his homers
- 5.6% of his walks
Average exit velocities (per Baseball Savant) show he has not lost power:
- His June homer had an exit velocity of 108.1 MPH (which shows power)
- June line drives had an average exit velocity of 98.0 MPH (which shows power)
“His averages for swing efficiency, hard hit %, and line drive %, are all very close to league averages.” — Makakilo. For details about his swing see this AZ Snake Pit article scheduled to post 28 June.
Justin: No, everyone slumps, and yeah he needs to settle.
Nik: No, I agree with what everyone else has said. Varsho just needs to get the opportunity to know where he’s playing every day, whether that’s as a catcher or elsewhere on the diamond.
Wesley: Not at all, though I do wonder if having more starts at catcher is wearing him down a little more than he would be otherwise.
ISH95: I’m not particularly worried. Slumps happen to everyone, but they’re especially common with young, second year players. Like Wes, I do wonder if part of this is because catcher is wearing on him more than the outfield was. If that’s the case, it definitely raises some questions for the future roster construction of the club, but that’s a topic for another day.
Jack: I was concerned for sure, as evidenced by my comment about him in my article on Saturday. But on Saturday night he lined out to CF 101 MPH off the bat and then split the gap in right center for a double. Then of course the homer on Sunday. So hopefully this is him coming out of the slump. OPS+ was down to 98, now back to 104.
Arizona are 5-16 against the NL West this year. Why such a gulf?
James: The Dodgers are a superior club from top to bottom. The same can likely be said about the Giants and Padres. That accounts for three of the four other clubs in the division.
Spencer: Because the NL West has good teams and we aren’t one of them? It would be great if we could play the way we did that first series against LA all season against them, SD, and SF, but let’s face it; winning one out of three is an accomplishment for this crew.
Justin: Because the NL West has good teams and…. Oh, um.
Nik: I’m just gonna assume you forgot the sarcasm font.
Makakilo: The Diamondbacks play excellent teams in the NL West.
Team, pace, 538.com projections (through 24 June):
- Dodgers, 103.3 wins, 102 wins, 22% chance to win World Series.
- Padres, 99.9 wins, 95 wins, 7% chance to win World Series.
- Giants, 87.9 wins, 86 wins, 2% chance to win World Series.
- Rockies, 70.7 wins, 68 wins, 0% chance to win World Series.
The only other team in a similar situation is the Orioles in the AL East, who must play the Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Rays. Their win-loss record is similar to the Diamondback win-loss record.
Wesley: The Dodgers are easily the best in all of MLB, and this is a very tough division to play in. And as Makakilo said, its a very similar situation to Orioles in the AL East
ISH95: This isn’t my normal role on the site, but I’m going to try my hand at some in depth analysis here. The Dodgers, if you really dig into the advanced statistics, are a historically good team. Just top to bottom, offense, defense, pitching, all of it. And the only reason that we don’t talk about the Padres the same way is because they also play in the same division as the Dodgers, and get overshadowed most of the time, despite also being incredibly good. Same goes for the Giants, who are even more impressive considering that their roster is basically the All Star lineup from the last time they won the World Series, but are also incredibly good.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are none of those things.
Jack: I was joking with Keegan yesterday. People have been wondering why the Giants are only 39-33 this year after their historic season last year. I said it was because they haven’t played the D-backs yet. They still have 19 games left to play against the Giants, 12 against the Padres, 8 against the Dodgers and 16 against the Rockies. (9 in Colorado)
It’s pretty easy for me to imagine them going 20-35 or worse in those 55 games. 28-27 seems like an impossible dream. Three of those four teams are simply better teams, with better hitting and pitching.
Outside of David Peralta, which D-backs do you expect to be dealt by the deadline?
James: Despite his troubles, I think IPK could get traded. I also think there is a fair chance that Zach Davies could be moved. He’s having a solid bounce back season and contending teams are always in need of some innings depth out of the pitching staff.
Spencer: Mantiply, Ramirez, Melancon, Kennedy, Davies. Mantiply/Ramirez have had good years and offer Arizona more value in a trade than they do staying on their contracts. Melancon/Kennedy are proven arms who could stabilize a teetering bullpen with their presence. Davies is having a solid if unspectacular year and could fetch a depth piece or be part of a bigger deal to relieve some salary or get a better return.
There are other players with more value who wouldn’t shock me if they got traded (MadBum, Walker, MKelly) but I don’t expect them to be traded. And don’t discount another Gallen/Jazz type deal this year as well. That deal was made during a season when Hazen thought the team was close and was all about future value at the MLB level; the same could be said of this season, just with less emphasis on October 2022.
Justin: Everything must go! Liquidation sale! Just kidding. I wouldn’t be shocked if MKelly or Walker get dealt. Maybe IPK or Melacon to a team needing a warm body.
Nik: That’s a tough question because realistically the players we have that we’d like to trade aren’t exactly desirable, and the ones that are desirable should ideally be untouchable. I’d say there’s a decent chance nobody gets moved honestly, but if the perimeters of the question demand a player be traded beyond David Peralta I could see any one of Davies/Kennedy/Mantiply. Actually now that I type it, yeah, Mantiply. Even with these moves though I don’t expect much in return beyond a lottery ticket. Also I’m gonna go ahead and agree with Spencer in that another Jazz/Gallen type trade could come out of left field and shock us all.
Makakilo: Based on what Mike Hazen said a year ago, it is likely that the Diamondbacks have lists of players they like, both long term and short term. Those lists will drive any trades.
Maybe a team in contention needs a reliever like Ian Kennedy, and is willing to provide a player on the long term list. Maybe a Diamondbacks prospect can be traded to acquire a near-Majors player on the short term list.
Wesley: There are scenarios where I see Kennedy, Bumgarner, Davies, Walker, and basically anyone who won’t be here in 2024. It really depends on how the trade market shakes out. I imagine it will be a busy deadline with the amount of injuries that have happened as a result of the shortened Spring Training
ISH95: I have a feeling we’re going to be semi-active at the trade deadline, and that all of the names mentioned above have a decent chance at shipping out. However, I’m going to predict that in addition to shipping off players, we also make a larger trade for a long term, maybe not cornerstone, but almost type player. Not something like the Jazz/Gallen trade where it was 1-for-1, but where we ship multiple prospects out for someone who Hazen thinks will be a good, long term addition.
Jack: Joe Mantiply. They may actually get something decent for him, considering how well he is pitching and the fact that he’s not a free agent until 2027. I’m sure teams are already inquiring. It’s just a matter if the club has the will to rebuild and what price they can extract.
Caesar’s Sports Book opened this week at Chase Field. Would you use it?
James: I am no longer in the metro-Phoenix area. If I was, I would use the establishment. I enjoy sitting around with my mates, drinking beers and yelling at various televisions over the results popping up. The overall cost is usually quite low compared to going to a sports bar for the amount of time we spend in the place. On top of that, on a moderately good day, $20 worth of various bets will pay for all of out food and drink. On really good days, that same $20 might pay for the afternoon at the sportsbook and also pay for my entire family to go out for a nice dinner at a pricey establishment, or make a car payment.
Spencer: I’ve never bet on sports, so sure I would check it out. I’m not big on gambling in general though, so it wouldn’t be an activity I do often.
Makakilo: Not interested. Andy Carpenter, a fictional defense lawyer in a mystery book series, would attend baseball games with his father and make pretend bets on what would happen on just about every pitch, or so the character said in the book. That is an interesting alternative that reminds me of comments about what will happen for each plate appearance in AZ Snake Pit game threads. The game threads are far more interesting than the sports book.
Justin: No, I would not.
Nik: No, as a person with an addictive personality I just try to avoid potentially catastrophic things like gambling. Seriously, I’m the kind of guy the warnings at the end of the gambling commercials are talking about and I know just enough about baseball to get myself in trouble.
Wesley: I most likely wouldn’t, unless I see a spread on a game that the bookmakers clearly got wrong. Even then, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be at Chase Field with money to burn like that.
ISH95: I’m actually planning on checking it out in the near future, if for no other reason than I’ve never been to a Guy Fieri restaurant, and I’d like to try one. Depending on my mood the day I go, I might burn twenty or thirty bucks to make the afternoon interesting. Would I make it a regular occurrence? Probably not.
Jack: I don’t gamble on baseball very much at all. Occasionally I have bought futures bets on the D-backs for things like to win the world series with very long odds, similar to buying a lottery ticket. Lately, Powerball odds are better.
What’s your least favorite major(ish) sport to watch, and why?
James: Probably NASCAR.I’m not a fan of it really. I’m also far less interested in golf or tennis now than I ever was in the past. Of the truly major sports, I just cannot get behind American rules football anymore.
Spencer: The concept of major(ish) sport confuses me. I personally don’t consider golf, tennis, or NASCAR in that category, although you would have to pay me to watch any of those. I’ll be basic and stick with the “big 5” North American ones. And in that respect it’s an easy tie of NFL and NBA for me. For the NBA, you can ignore the entire game and watch the final two minutes to see the best part(s) and result. And for the NFL, it’s so pathetic. They have no sense of urgency until the two minute warnings, yet the damn games take 3 hours of your time? Despite having a clock of 1 hour?! How on earth does that make sense? I enjoy the experience of any sporting event with my dad and a beer, but if I’m alone, MLB, MLS, and NHL are the only ones I’ll watch (Olympics don’t count, I will do my best to stay awake for 2 full weeks to catch every second).
Justin: NBA and NFL. I agree with Spencer. I will add to it, though. The NFL play clock is what 40 seconds? So they huddle or whatever for 35 seconds and then snap the ball and there is 3 seconds of action. 35 more seconds of …standing, and then another 3 second burst of action. People complain baseball is boring but then watch a Stealers-Packers game or something. As far as the NBA, another thing I don’t like is fouling the opposition down 3 or 4 points with 30 seconds remaining or whatever. Congrats, now you are down 6 points, instead of 4. Hoping they miss isn’t a strategy.
Nik: As I’ve stated a number of times, basketball is not a sport. It’s a workout. Just ten guys (or ladies) running wind sprints. When the scores for both teams are regularly in the triple digits you can’t convince me there’s any skill to it.
Wesley: Probably full contact sports like the NHL and NFL. The rich owners are profiting off of what amounts to a concussion factory that leaves many retired players with long term health problems. At this point in my life I try not support a “product” like that
ISH95: Literally none. I will watch any sport, athletic event, or competition you put on television and enjoy it. I might not seek it out, but I will watch it if it’s on. I watched professional tag (like the playground game) the other day. It was awesome. Would I ever spend money to watch it? No, but at the same token I barely spend money on baseball, so that doesn’t mean much lol
Jack: I love Hockey live and don’t like to watch it on T.V. at all.
What improved your life so much, you wished you did it sooner?
James: Learning to not give a damn what other people think of me or my lifestyle choices. I am who I am. So long as I can live with myself and I am not hurting anyone else, there is no reason for me to give two erm…craps about how other people feel about what I do.
Spencer: Learning that it is ok to avoid people who don’t bring you joy. You should never ignore someone just because you disagree with them, but there are some people with whom you just can’t jive, no matter how hard you try. There is zero reason to force yourself to spend time with them; it will only depress you. Respect everyone, know yourself, and value your mental health; you’ll be happier for it, I know I am.
Makakilo: Moving to Hawaii!
Justin: I don’t know. I wish I met my best friend at an earlier time. We have known each other for 12 years but it seems weird to think I didn’t know her for 24 years! Before her I was at a bad place in my life and she definitely did the “big sister” thing to help me with financial and other issues I had the first few years of our friendship.
EDIT: Still a “big sister” but not like originally. Seeing ISH’s thing below, I will agree and say things happen for a reason. Maybe our friendship never happens had we met earlier. (and it wouldnt have if I didnt get hired at a local nursing home in 2009)
Nik: Now I’m gonna throw you a curveball! Most would expect me to say quitting drinking, and while that has had a huge impact on my life, I wouldn’t say it was the biggest. No, the biggest would be when I just up and quit my job at Hensley. For the uninitiated, that’s the Budweiser distributor here in the Valley. I started working there at 23 years old and it was my first, real, “grown up” job making “grown up” money. Prior to that I was just flipping burgers and selling drum sets with a side of tech support in the late 90’s. Well I worked for Hensley for nearly a decade and was treated like garbage the whole time. I just didn’t know it. Fast forward to 32 years old and I just lost it at work one night and walked out. Found Old Dominion 10 days later and my life has DRASTICALLY improved since then. Been 12 years at OD since then and my pay has more than doubled, and my job satisfaction is so much greater that I can’t even quantify it.
Wesley: Oh boy, there are a lot of answers I could give, but I’m going with the obvious one for me. It’s probably getting a Medical Marijuana card. It is what has allowed me to get my life back from my health problems, after living with chronic anxiety, pain, nausea, allodynia, and other debilitating symptoms due to my health problems. Since I’ve gotten my card, I’ve been able to work again. I’ve lost 80+ lbs and kept it off for going on six years now. I’ve been able to slowly rebuild my life, and it’s pretty much thanks to that. I wish I had gotten it back when Arizona initially passed the Medical Marijuana bill in January of 2011. I think things could have gone quite differently had I done that
ISH95: I’m just being contrarian with my answers to these later questions today, I guess. I am a firm believer that everything happens when it does for a reason. So, for example, if something good happened to you, it wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing if it happened sooner. I am very happy with my life the way it is. I have a wonderful wife, strong relationships with my family, great friends, hobbies I enjoy, and, I believe, if events in my life had happened at different times, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So, I don’t wish that anything in my life had happened sooner.
Jack: Deleting Facebook, which I did two years ago. I’d probably delete Twitter if it weren’t for baseball….but since I’m there I don’t see much point in keeping my mouth shut on non baseball topics.