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SnakePit Round Table: Digging into the Stone Age

Gallen vs. Kelly and those over-achieving Orioles are also among this week’s topics.

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St. Louis Cardinals v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

What’s Garrett Stone’s future as a Diamondback?

Spencer: Whether or not he’ll have an all around game good enough to stick with the likes of Varsho, McCarthy, Thomas, and Carroll vying for time in 2023, I don’t know. But I hope he does! I lean toward Stone not surpassing any of them and being an odd man out unless a major trade occurs, but his presence could be a salve for the Missing Peralta. Just seems like the team has Walker pegged for that role going forward. I don’t envy whomever gets stuck making those decisions, but I’m told too many quality players is a good problem to have; that’s a change with which I can get on board.

Justin: I think he is a nice story and that I hope he does well. Also, everything Spencer said.

Makakilo: Great story. He was released by the Marlins in 2020. It looked like his career was over. He sold houses (10 houses since 2019) while he planned to play with an independent league team (could not find whether he did). Nevertheless, he was ready to jump at the opportunity when the Diamondbacks gave him a chance to show his abilities in the minors. He was in the right place at the right time, and because he played well eventually he was promoted to the Majors.

ISH95: It’s just such an awesome story, so I hope he manages to make it work. Like Spencer said, definitely in the vein of Peralta. At the end of the day, though, he is a 27 year old AAAA player on a team that has a lot of young, exciting players who play the same positions. Because of that, I don’t see a ton of future for him, but the present could be a lot of fun.

James: While Garrett has one of those feel good stories going for him, I still suspect he winds up being little more than organizational filler. Given how frugal the organization is likely to be this winter, I would not be shocked if he at least breaks camp with the team to start next season, but I don’t predict he finds too much playing time, not with the likes of Varsho, Thomas, McCarthy, and Carroll all vying for time in the OF and Walker still manning first.

Dano: I defer to the collective wisdom of my colleagues as expressed above. Beyond that, it seems like it will depend on how he develops and whether any of our sudden surfeit of young outfielders stalls or falters (lookin’ at you right now, Daulton Varsho….you seem to be slumping HARD). Seems like an opportunity to stick might open up.

Steven: The team has told him many times his bat will carry him and he’s been everything as advertised. Hits it hard, swings at a lot, and doesn’t play great defense. I think he’s already a nice match as a RHB with all these lefty OFers. Could he squeeze into a starting role? Maybe, but he needs to keep hitting. Could he learn 1st when Walker leaves/retires?

Zac Gallen or Merrill Kelly - who’s the staff ace?

Spencer: Madison Bumgarner because I’m sure his contract explicitly states it given how much leeway he gets... Between Kelly and Gallen though? I’m going to say Gallen. I just feel like we have a better chance to win more often with him on the mound than anyone else. Nothing against Merrill the Mainstay; he’s also a good feeling on the mound, just seems I question him more.

Justin: I would say Madbum because of the contract should be, but between Gallen and Kelly I lean towards Gallen. Kelly is more of a stopper or a reliable arm (which I guess could be an ace) whereas I think our best pitcher is Gallen. If this was the NYM or some other teams’ pitching staff, our best would be their #2 or #3.

Makakilo: By a narrow margin, Gallen is the staff ace. A few stats were compared in the following table (stats based on this season’s games through 18 August 2022).

James: Kelly has matured into a solid #2/3 pitcher. He is an innings-eater, a workhorse. He can have “ace-like” nights on any given night. However, I would still pick Gallen as the more likely to be a staff ace. Gallen’s peripherals are much better. He is better at preventing base runners. He strikes out more and walks fewer than Kelly. Gallen’s best pitches are also better than Kelly’s allowing him more wiggle room to find success, even on nights where his stuff is not quite working.

ISH95: Gallen. I love me some Merrill Kelly, but he isn’t an ace, just going by the metric, “when I watch him pitch does he look like an Ace.” Or more to the point, when I watch Kelly, he could have a shut out at any time. When I watch Gallen, he could have a no hitter at any time.

Dano: Yeah, I have to go with Gallen as well. If you’d asked me this question before the All-Star Break, I probably would have chosen Kelly, but it appears that Gallen’s put those pitching-well-until-he-suddenly-blows-up-in-the-fourth-or-fifth-inning issues behind him.

Steven: I want to say Kelly, just from his demeanor and performance this year, but it’s Gallen. He’s got that dog in him and the stuff the match. Madbum still lurks in the shadows, sharing ace-like wisdom with AAA ability so while I think it’s Gallen’s rotation, Madison has his fingerprints all over it.

How do you think the team will solve their stadium situation?

Spencer: Will they? I doubt they fix any of the issues in that article. They will simply move at some point, or get the taxpayers to build a new stadium across the street, etc.

Justin: I don’t know. I do know that, not counting the playoffs, Dbacks games are about 90% (probably more) of what I watch and pay attention to. If they relocate I am not sure how much longer I would honestly care.

Makakilo: Two general comments follow:

The team will likely renovate Chase because the window to move is rapidly closing. It is closing because 11% inflation (very high compared to 12 months ago) in construction materials (FRED economic data from St Louis Federal Reserve), shortage of qualified/skilled construction workers (about 600,000 short per Associated Builders & Contractors), and rising interest rates.

Nevertheless, renovation of Chase will not be easy. One example is fixing the upper decks. More than ten years ago, I sat near the very top of an upper deck with the roof closed. The steepness of the steps kept me from leaving my seat to buy food. Initially a delightful surprise, rain blew around the edge of the roof and fell on me. Soon I was soaked and the wind felt cold, so my delight turned to misery.

James: My guess is the solution is to wait out the rest of the lease and then move to a new home for the 2028 season. Between now and then, Kendrick and Company will spend as little as possible to keep the stadium “structurally sound”. They’ll likely fix the roof cabling this winter, but only because they need to show some sort of “good faith” efforts if they are going to get any help with building a new home elsewhere, likely on tribal lands in the east valley. Given some of the excuses given about why things are in such a shoddy state of disrepair, I just don’t see the organization taking the real steps needed to fix up Chase and make it top-notch again.

ISH95: VEGAS BAAAAAAAABBBBBBYYYYYYY!!! MLB is going to move five teams to Vegas, and then black them out for the entire western half of the country.

Seriously though, what James said. It’s just a waiting game right now, while hoping that the inflation issues that Mak accurately brought up correct themselves in the next six years.

Dano: Yeah, I’m with James and ISH on this one. The inflationary pressures that Mak brings up are relevant to this as well–if nothing else, they give Kendrick an excuse to slow-walk whatever minimal renovations they wind up doing. I figure they’ll do the bare minimum and run out the clock while they look for someone to build them a new stadium somewhere else that they don’t have to pay for.

Steven: They’re gone the first chance they get while still maintaining public face. No they won’t leave when they have the option to, mostly because of supply issues they’re already combating. But could they get a nice spot on tribal land and private funding? Can definitely see that happening. It’s too bad, Chase is generally a nice experience, but it’s a bloated relic. I think the team will do the bare minimum upkeep, and go year to year until their new stadium is built.

The team hits the AL Central this week. What are you hoping to see?

Spencer: I want to see Bobby Witt Jr and the rest of the exciting young Royals. We’ve already seen the Twins and Guardians who are the teams with the best players in that division. I’m from Chicago originally, but the North Side, so I don’t really want to see anything from the White Sox other than three Arizona wins. …’Course seeing Cease and/or Cueto pitch would be kinda cool too.

Justin: I always like seeing the Royals. I am not sure why, but I do. Sometimes in MLB the show or something I’ll play as the Royals. I have a friend who grew up outside KC, too.

James: I’m just looking for competitive baseball. Getting to see some of the exciting talents coming up in that division is a bonus.

Makakilo: I’m hoping for two sweeps by the Diamondbacks.

  • Sweeping the 2-game series against the Royals will be easier - their motivation may be impacted by zero chance of reaching the postseason, and they lost 6 of their 8 games heading into the weekend.
  • Sweeping the 3-game series against the White Sox will be more challenging because the White Sox have chances to reach the postseason. The White Sox are very streaky; In August they had a 5 game win streak followed by a 3 game losing streak heading into the weekend. It will be interesting to see former Diamondback AJ Pollock, who plays CF and LF for the White Sox. As of Friday, his OPS+ was 85.

ISH95: I just want to see wins.

Dano: Like Justin, I like seeing the Royals. They make me happy. Like ISH, I’d like to see wins.

Steven: I want to see Corbin Carroll. I’ll take more Stone Garrett and Tommy Henry as a consolation prize.

Will the resurrected Orioles reach the post-season?

Spencer: No. But they will make the race way more exciting than it should be in Baltimore this year. I see them as the Mariners/Blue Jays of last season, surging and just missing. It might even come down to the final day again!

Justin: No. My wildcard picks are Seattle, TB, Toronto. Now watch the Orioles go on a tear and get it. No one expected them to be even in the conversation on August 19th in the first place…

James: I think they may fall just short. Though, they are the best team in the AL since the break, so I could be selling them short. Even if they do make the playoffs this season, I expect them to get blasted once they get there. This team is making all sorts of noise now, but their real window doesn’t open until next season, when they should fully expect to be a World Series contender.

Makakilo: Likely they don’t reach the postseason, which is unfortunate because I like to cheer for underdogs. Their record in the last 10 games was 5-5 heading into the weekend. Their odds of reaching the postseason:

  • 13% per 538.com.UPDATE: 10% after Saturday’s loss.
  • 35.5% per Baseball Reference. UPDATE: 29.7% after Saturday’s loss.

ISH95: I sure hope so. They’re the best team in baseball right now, but they started so far back it’s going to be an uphill battle right up to Game 162. But isn’t this run what Baseball is all about? The ultimate underdog taking on the top teams and running circles around them? It’s awesome.

Dano: It would be nice to see. Given that the AL East continues to be kinda stacked, though, I’m not sure how likely it is. I have no doubt that they will get close, though, and probably even closer next year.

Steven: I don’t think so. I think it’s either them or the Guardians. The Orioles have to do better than 4-6 over their last 10 to have any shot.

What’s a thing that makes you think “Wow, I’m really getting older”?

Spencer: Most recently was hearing a song I partied to on Bid Night for the frat pop up on an Oldie radio station this week. It was a joke, and the party was only 10 years ago, but it hit harder than I wanted it to.

Justin: I realized that one of the baggers who just turned 18 was born in 2004. I graduated high school in 2004 and was 19 September of that year.

Makakilo: Wow, I’m almost bald! On the other hand, no more wasted time at the barber shop waiting to get a haircut.

James: A university classmate who has never seen any of The Lord of the Rings films because they came out before the classmate was born and they don’t watch “old movies”.

ISH95: Am I allowed to answer this one? Lol I’m going to anyway.

The growing amounts of white hair in my beard definitely make me think it more, but I’m going to say the fact that I can now say I have 10 years of experience in my industry, which just shouldn’t be possible

Dano: Teaching a bunch of 9th graders every day. They think I am ancient, and in some ways I acknowledge that, especially from their perspectives, they are not wrong. Hee.

Steven: Back pain. Boy howdy it’s rough.