If you are interested in taking part in a round table alongside the regular writers, just answer one or more of the questions in the comments. I’ll select one respondee, and send them the questions so they can join in next weekend!
Rosters expand to 28 on September 1st. How should the D-backs use the extra two slots? [Note: this question was asked before the news of Corbin Carroll’s promotion broke!]
DBacksEurope: an extra reliever and an extra batter. I am pretty sure they will call up Corbin Carroll and I would give a chance to some of the guys in Reno to step up, like Mack Lemieux.
Jack: I’d like to see Corbin Carroll and Brandon Pfaadt get the call. Right now those are the two best players and the team can gain the most if they are able to expedite their timelines and help the team compete for a wild card in 2023. Giving them each a decent sized look in September makes it easier for them to make the club out of spring training. Connected to the Madison Bumgarner question below, I think I like Steve Burts suggestion the other day to go to a 6 man rotation. That allows them to get Pfaadt 4 starts and also give Bumgarner a little more time in between starts, and limit innings for Tommy Henry and Zac Gallen as well. It makes too much sense, so of course it won’t happen.
James: They may choose to bring up Carroll. He’s been tearing up AAA since he arrived. However, since they already called up Stone Garrett and are trying to get him ABs, I could see the team kicking that can down the road until March and just calling up Pavin Smith. I’d rather see Carroll, but I will not be upset if it takes until March to see him on the 26-man roster. As for the second call-up, I am hoping for another of the dynamic arms. Pfaadt is the obvious choice. I wouldn’t mind seeing Workman either. Honestly, any of the young arms would be nice to see.,
ISH95: I would like to see Carroll for sure. Seems like a 50/50 chance to me if it actually happens or not, but it sure would be cool to see the Outfield of the Future, even if it is only for a few games. As far as pitchers go, I’d say Pfaadt. Anyone who is pitching that well in Reno, even in such a small sample size, is someone I at least want to see.
Wesley: Carroll and Pfaadt are the obvious answers. I’d like to see the three Dominics get a look (Fletcher, Canzone, Mkrlglio). Steven’s suggestion of Jancarlos Cintron is an interesting one, and he’s been floating around our system for a while. Michael’s suggestion of Drey Jameson, Ryne Nelson, Carrol, and Pfaadt seems to be a good idea to me too. As long as they give whomever they call up actual playing time, I’m happy. Edit: Looks like Carroll has been called up.
Michael: Corbin Carroll is the obvious candidate if the team is looking to make a splash. I see a lot of answers suggesting Brandon Pfaadt, but I think they should look at adding Ryne Nelson or Drey Jameson to the roster first since both have to be added to the 40-man roster. I wouldn’t mind throwing Jameson or Nelson out of the bullpen and see how he does in that role. Realistically they should bring up Carroll, Pfaadt, Jameson, and Nelson at the minimum and start playing Stone Garrett more regularly. It’s about evaluating guys that are going to be in Arizona next year that should be seeing opportunities.
Spencer: They should call Carroll and Pfaadt. But I bet initially they call Beer and a reliever up (like Martin/JBB). If Carroll gets called up this season my guess is it will happen in the final two weeks of the season. Sunday night edit: lolz ok good for Carroll!
Dano: I’m more interested in seeing the young starting pitchers that we allegedly have in the pipeline than I am in Carroll at this point. Of course, I suspect we’re only going to see one starter, if that, so yeah, Pfaadt would be good. Carroll would be neat to see, but what with our somewhat crowded young outfield, I’m not sure I want any of them to lose playing time over the final month. Maybe Pfaadt and a promising young bullpen arm? After another year of the free agent closer debacle, I’d love to see us wind up with a future closer who we developed internally.
Steven: I’ll zig here as there are a couple of lesser known options like Jancarlos Cintron (134 wRC+) and Dominic Fletcher (114 wRC+) are or will be Rule 5 eligible that you could use the extra long look at the MLB level. On the pitching side you can make the case for any of the young arms, Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson, and Brandon Pfaadt all had excellent K-BB% but the problem is finding them a spot in the rotation. A better use could be a reliever like Jeff Bain or Blake Workman, two guys with excellent K/9 rates who are also Rule 5 eligible.
Makakilo: Corbin Martin. After two starts in the Majors (great start vs Nationals on 24 July and 3-homers start vs Braves on 30 July), Corbin Martin has been in AAA. My take on the following comment is that Braves’ batters waited on pitches they could smash. Corbin Martin had a month to fix his problem, let’s see another start!
“We just felt like the secondary stuff wasn’t landing to the degree it needs to land. And we need to work on that. And we need to improve it.” – Mike Hazen
Kyle Nelson. I am anticipating his return from the IL. In his relief appearances from April to 2 August, his 1.57 ERA, 2.80 FIP, and 263 ERA+ tell a great story.
Compared to last year, have you attended/watched more or fewer D-backs games, and why?
DBacksEurope: I have watched less but not because I did not want to. Some games I couldn’t watch because I was writing articles for this site, others I don’t watch because I changed jobs and have to get up much earlier in the morning so I don’t wish to stay up till late.
Jack: I’ve gone to more games in the press box for sure, as I wasn’t granted access until Mid May or thereabouts last year. (I forget the date). I’ve only missed watching about 4 or 5 games on T.V. that I wasn’t present for. Basically when I present appeal to authority type arguments in debates, saying I watch every inning of every game, I’m 95% not bullshitting. ;)
James: I’d say it is close to the same. This season I have had far more occasions where my seeing the game was a happy accident. However, I still watch plenty of baseball, so it was bound to happen.
ISH95: I’ve listen to a lot more (hello from the 1950s!). Haven’t made much of an effort to get to the ballpark, but that has more to do with the cost of living these days, rather than the team.
Wesley: The same amount, only because you can’t go any lower than none. I’ll watch the MLB games I recap, that’s about it.
Michael: About the same most years, although I’ve been to 6 games so far in person.
Spencer: More. I have managed to see them play in Pittsburgh and Cleveland which is nice. And I’ve watched almost every other game on some device or another.
Dano: Definitely more. Last year got to be so wretched that I basically stopped watching except on nights that I had to recap a game. I’m more interested in seeing our young kids trying to find their way in the big leagues, and so I’m paying a lot more attention and not nearly so bummed out when we lose.
Steven: Being in Seattle I haven’t been able to attend, but I’ve tuned in to most games with all these young guys playing. Tommy Henry, Jake McCarthy, and Daulton Varsho are all worth watching every day.
Makakilo: Because I increased my knowledge of baseball and the players, this season I watched with more understanding, a greater sense of wonder, and a deeper appreciation of the game. The quality of my watching is better.
I watched significantly less than 100% of the games. Watching on the internet and living in Hawaii, five teams are blacked out (Angels, Athletics, Giants, Dodgers, and Padres). With next season’s balanced schedule, I will have more opportunities to watch Diamondback games.
When the Diamondbacks make the playoffs, you can be certain I will attend in person. When COVID becomes less of a pandemic, I will attend a few regular season games. My view is vaccines and boosters and masks do not guarantee my safety from illness and death.
If the D-backs call up Corbin Carroll, how should they configure the outfield and who loses out?
DBacksEurope: I would say goodbye to Luplow. He hasn’t performed and isn’t of much use for this team nor is he the future. Put him on waivers and some team will pick him up. Carroll can play RF that way. Then we have an extra roster spot for a spot starter.
Jack: As DBE said, Luplow’s playing time needs to be cut or they need to waive him. Any at bats that go to Luplow right now should at least be going to Stone Garrett. Even if they do that, the downside of calling up Carroll is the outfield is already full and somebody fully deserving of playing time such as Jake McCarthy, is probably going to get edged out of PT. Unless they move Varsho back behind the plate for September, which I don’t think they’ll do. They have the DH of course to get guys off their feet, but that means Ketel Marte has to play the field and Josh Rojas and Emmanuel Rivera can’t both play in the same game.
James: The OF needs to be a combination of Carroll, Thomas, and Varsho, with McCarthy hanging around as the 4th OF, capable of playing any of the three positions. Then, Garrett can DH. In that scenario, it is likely Rojas that winds up on the outside looking in. The OF “logjam” is not something I am worried about until we get close to the end of March. Until then, there are ways to get ABs for those that need them. The team just needs to be willing to sit or cut some players, such as Luplow.
ISH95: It’s a long season. Get people like Marte and Rojas some days off, use that DH spot to get some youngsters in the line up, call it a day.
Michael: Carroll, Thomas, Varsho, and McCarthy get the bulk of the playing time although they should also get Garrett some at-bats as well. To get Carroll on the roster, designating Luplow for assignment should be the obvious move. I still think it’s possible to get 4 starts a week for Carroll, Thomas, Varsho, and McCarthy while getting Garrett about 2-3 starts against lefties or a day game after a night game lineup.
Spencer: I have nothing new to contribute. It’s a good problem to have and one I have little doubt will be thinned by trades and/or other roster moves come March. (Assuming no massive Front Office alterations)
Dano: It seems like we pretty much have a consensus regarding Luplow. Get rid of the dude. Seriously.
Steven: Carroll needs to play every day in CF with Varsho in RF and McCarthy in LF. Start them everyday and let Thomas and Garrett split DH at-bats and days off. Some of these guy have played more than they’re used to, Thomas specifically looks worn down so easing off the playing time and making sure they’re performing at a high-level is key.
Wesley: Luplow is the odd man out, and I think DFAing him is the best choice.
Post Carroll call up edit: That’s what happened essentially. Marte to the injured list, Luplow DFAd. I’d go Varsho, Carroll, Thomas as far as outfield alignment goes.
Makakilo: Luplow should lose out because he is nearly 29 years old, with an OPS+ of 78, and with about average outfield defense (albeit 1 OAA in RF and 1 DRS in LF). Determining who plays each position in the outfield would be problematic.
How concerned are you about Madison Bumgarner?
DBacksEurope: That was a terrific article from Jack Sommers the other day. I will let him answer for me, but personally I am not concerned since he will be only on this team for two more years. Next year the D-Backs won’t be competitive either so who cares, and in 2024 we will see but I can see us eating money while moving him to an uncompetitive team he can be traded to.
Jack: Pretty concerned. The article from Nick Piecoro gives plenty of opportunity to read between the lines. I will make it more plain. My sources tell me Bumgarner has never been fully comfortable or “all in” with recommendations from Strom since spring training until now, whatever they each say publicly. Knowing what I know, the quotes in the article by Nick confirm to me that he has still not bought in. I think they have no choice but to keep running him out there, but over 20-25 starts he’s going to continue to be below average.
Team Record in Madison Bumgarner Starts
- 2020- 3-6
I think this team CAN contend for a wild card next year. The odds are not going to favor it on paper, but they could arrive a year early with a better bullpen. Bumgarner continuing to be as bad as he’s been will torpedo that though.
James: I am no more worried about Bumgarner now than I was the day they signed him. That is to say, I am of the firm opinion that he is fully washed up. Other comments and rumblings coming from within and around the organization just further the need to find a way to part ways with him, even if it means going full Russ Ortiz on the man.
ISH95: I’m kind of a combination of Jack and James’ views. I’m not concerned about Bumgarner. He is what he is at this point. I am very concerned about his impact on the team next year, and any potential surprise runs to the WC.
Spencer: I’m not worried about him because I no longer care about him. I say rest him on the 60IL for the rest of the year; use the roster spot to get a younger arm some end of year experience against tough opponents. And next year try MadBum as closer or 7/8th guy. If he succeeds, great! If he fails, ok. And trade or cut him before 2024; eat the $14m if they must.
Dano: Yep, pretty much right there with Spencer and James. Bumgarner sucks. That’s simply a fact at this point. I don’t need to worry about it. The fact that he’s taking up playing time (and money) is inconvenient, and I would love to see him gotten rid of somehow, but I’m not exactly holding my breath waiting for that to happen.
Steven: It’s a sunk cost at this point and unlike Greinke, he has little to zero value. Be smart about trying to only pitching him at home (4.28 / 5.42 home / away splits) and with plenty of rest. The goal should be to trade him with another team eating some of the salary at some point, either next year or the year after.
Michael: He’s toast, which probably means his next start he’ll pitch 7 innings and allow just 2 runs and strike out 9 before struggling down the stretch. I’m not entirely sure that he can outperform Henry or any of the young arms lurking in Reno.
Wesley: Madbum has been in the decline phase of his career since before we signed him, and I don’t see him pulling a Verlander or Grienke-esque resurrection of his career. He could improve, but I don’t see him ever returning to the level he was at during his peak.
Makakilo: Very concerned. A few comments follow.
In Nick Piecoro’s article (see Jack’s comment), Madison Bumgarner said where he is at:
“To me, what I see, we haven’t had a lot of trouble getting to two strikes. But there’s been a lot of foul balls once I got there and harder contact than I want once I got there. Finding ways to put guys away once we got there is where I’m at.” – Madison Bumgarner
In August with 2-strikes, his results were better than his full-season results (data from Baseball Savant):
- OBP improved from .279 to .273
- SLG improved from .357 to .282
- OPS improved from .636 to .555
- Average Exit Velocity was unchanged at 89.7 MPH.
In August for all-counts, his results were worse than full-season results (data from Baseball Reference):
- OBP worsened from .338 to .387
- SLG worsened from .466 to .582
- OPS worsened from .805 to .968
My conclusion is that his recent problem was not caused by his (better) results with 2-strikes. So as suggested by Brent Strom’s comment in the article, maybe Madison Bumgarner could improve his results with better rhythm. The following golf quote seemed to have insights that could be applied to pitching:
“In my view, rhythm is more important. I’ve seen many successful golfers with fast tempos and many with slow tempos, but I’ve seen very few with poor rhythm. Good rhythm sets up the transition, or the way the club is set at the top before moving into the downswing. Those with good sequencing—virtually all tour players, including Jason Day (above)—start down with the feet. The hands and arms react to the movement of the feet, knees and hips. The club gets left behind if you start down with only the chest and upper body.” – Jim Flick
The Mariners signed Julio Rodriguez, possibly until 2039 and a potential cost of $470m. What do you think?
DBacksEurope: I can’t believe teams are happy with handing out these kinds of contracts to players for that long with so much money involved while they haven’t really performed consistently for a longer period of time. Considering that, I don’t know why they wouldn’t agree on a CBA that gives better compensation to players in earlier years and avoid these potentially toxic contracts. You think the Padres are not concerned with that Tatis contract? One of those contracts (Tatis, Franco, Rodriguez…) will become a bust and that’ll make teams reconsider.
Jack: I would encourage everyone to read up on the contract details. Here is MLB Trade Rumors Story. It’s quite complicated, but the bottom line is the guaranteed portion of the contract is for 12 years, $210M which is less than half the huge 470M most have seen. That 470M figure would only come over 18 years and if all options exercised and incentives met. 12/210 isn’t an outrageous exposure for the Marines, and the average annual between 2023-2029 is only $15M, so they’ll be able to manage their annual payrolls. The caveats of course are several, not the least of which is he’s so young and has so little time in the league. His numbers have dropped quite a bit over the 2nd half, he’s down to 130 OPS+. For me, the biggest red flag is just 31 walks against 126 K’s in 463 PA. In other words, he’s NOT as good as Juan Soto.
James: As Jack has already pointed out, the contract is actually rather reasonable in terms of guaranteed money. I don’t think even Ken Kendrick would have a hard time coughing up. There is a player option to opt out at year eight. If Rodriguez elects to not opt out, then he goes to 12/210. That’s a ridiculously low AAV for such a premium talent. It is the escalators and incentives that could make this a jaw-dropping contract. However, there is also a good deal of protection for the team involved. Julio Rodriguez will need to live up to the hype in order to get those escalators and incentives engaged. If he doesn’t, the AAV stays limited and the team has ways out. All-in-all, it’s a very fine deal for both sides. The complicated nature of the contract also likely works as a built-in no trade clause, not that Seattle will be looking to move him anytime soon.
ISH95: I think overall it’s a good deal for everyone involved. The Mariners have their star, he and his grandkids are set for life, win win. However, I personally think he is a fool for allowing most, if not all, the incentives to be based on how the media recognizes him in the form of Silver Slugger and MVP votes. He is not on a media darling team, and that’s going to impact that..
Wesley: ISH95 makes some very good points about his incentives being foolish. Personally I think Rodriguez would have been better served going year to year in arbitration or at least waiting another season to raise his value. He’s leaving a lot of money on the table. P
Spencer: I like JRod. I like the Mariners. I think this deal is great. But only because it shows a relatively small team willing to make a player wear their jersey for life. I’m with DBE on contracts like this being risky. I’d put more money on Rodriguez and Franco to be phenomenal for the next 15+ years than Tatis personally. This fad reminds me of the mid-late 2010s when the new thing was signing prospects to MLB deals before they debuted. Most of those deals look awful now and they no longer happen. I hope that doesn’t happen here; I love both JRod and Franco.
Dano: The idea of signing a rookie to what may possibly be a 17-year contract is, of course, nuts. I had looked at the structure as well, though, and it’s a lot less terrible than the topline number suggests. Seems unwise to me from Seattle’s standpoint, but I’m very happy for the kid himself. If the contract winds up being a bust, well, you buy the ticket and you take the ride.
Steven: Get that money kid!
Makakilo: A few thoughts follow:
If the Diamondbacks discover one of their prospects has as much promise, I trust they would offer a similar contract. That player would define the franchise more than Paul Goldschmidt.
At first glance, the contract seemed fair to Julio Rodriguez and the Mariners. Dan Szymborski wrote that the theoretical rest-of-career contract should be $401 Million. I’d love to compare his $401 Million to what Jack thinks the rest-of-career contract should be. The actual contract guaranteed $210 Million ($15 Million at signing, $105 Million over 8 years, plus $90 Million player option for additional 5 years). If he plays very well, an additional $260 Million is possible (for a total of $470 Million).
The incentive-based contract reduced the risk to the Mariners while allowing the player to earn what he deserves if he is a Hall of Fame player. Possibly this contract will be a trend-setter in contracts with a relatively average guarantee for the first 5 to 10 years, with massive escalators on contract extensions for awards/placing-high on MVP, Cy Young, All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, …
Michael: The Mariners have made him the face of their franchise. They’re taking on a lot of risk with $210MM upfront but he’s the type of talent who could outplay even this contract if he’s healthy for the vast majority of it. Even with the upside of $400MM+, I believe the structure of the contract is one where the Mariners can pay their star without the potential blowback of being stuck with his decline years making more than he should. Should be fun to follow over the next 10-12 years.
What invention would you want to see in your lifetime?
DBacksEurope: The solution that will significantly reduce the time of radioactivity of nuclear waste so we might have a real alternative energy source.
Jack: I like DBE’s answer. That would be a magic bullet for so many of the world’s problems.
I’m still waiting for my flying car that I was promised as a kid in the 1960’s books and magazines about the future. Getting close. But I don’t think this will ever be affordable in my lifetime.
James: On a large scale, controllable nuclear fusion. This would not only feed directly into the desire posted by DBE and Jack, but it could potentially eliminate the world’s energy crisis. On a more personal level, I would like to see more work done to more fully develop the ability to work and school from home in such a way as the nay-sayers are finally out of complaints that continue to force me to leave my home.
ISH95: Have I got good news for all of you if we ever get back to the moon. For me, I’m going to say quantum computing on a large scale. I think, if used correctly, it has the power to help us find solutions to a lot of problems that we currently face, from world hunger to interstellar travel.
Wesley: I was gonna say sustainable nuclear fusion, but James beat me to it. So I’ll go with Compact fusion generators, because then giant Gundam-style robotic suits would actually be possible, along with a ton of other cool sci-fi stuff.
Michael: An actual lightsaber from Star Wars. Although whether or not the device should be made since 99.9% of the population aren’t experienced sword fighters is another story.
Spencer: I love the serious, do good answers that lead into Michael’s lightsaber and Wes’ robot fighting suits. I would like all of the above. But my personal dream? I would drop everything tomorrow (job, family, baseball, friends, maybe not the dog) to go colonize a new planet. I want to see interstellar travel invented, preferably good enough to be done within one lifetime rather than over generations.
Dano: All of the above are great answers, and I would love to see any and all of them happen in my lifetime. But goddamnit, like Jack, I want my flying car.
Makakilo: Time travel. I’d use it to travel forward in time. Perhaps my experience would strengthen my discernment/perception of details that reflect unseen forces, my open-mindedness to all possibilities including the unexpected, and my appreciation of the unpredictability of the future.