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SnakePit Round Table:: Farewell to LA

And we look forward to seeing them lose again in the post-season.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

That’s us done with the Dodgers. What were your takeaways from the series?

Justin: FTD.

ISH95: Goodbye and good riddance. My main takeaway was that they didn’t just straight up destroy us. I really had no positive expectations going into this series, but they proved me wrong. They’ve held their own against one of the best teams to ever do it. They should be proud.

DBacksEurope: It went a lot better than expected! If it wasn’t for the well-known bullpen troubles we would have taken this series 4-1, I am sure. There was top pitching and patient batting against by far the best team in almost any aspect of the game. True, their stars came up clutch when they had to, like Diamondhacks indicated in his final comment in the final game of the series, but the kids held their own against a top team and that is just awesome.

James: I had two big takeaways. The first was, Arizona is closer to being a contender than many seem to give them credit for. If only they had a league average bullpen, they might be a WC team this year. The second was that this team’s best chances of postseason play are still going to come from chasing the WC, not the Dodgers. The talent imbalance is just incredible.

Makakilo: Except for the actual final results I say, “Bravo Diamondbacks!” If the Diamondbacks bullpen had executed better, or with a few breaks going their way, the Diamondbacks would have won 4 games out of 5 against the Dodgers.

Spencer: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! We lost the series. Predictable. But wowee was it exciting! I have nothing but good feelings toward that series. Agree with James, 2023/24 should be focused on a Wild Card spot unless Kendrick wants to spend like he’s never done before (or sell, please sell!). I’m not sold that 2023 will be much better than this year, but the look of the 2023 roster will be far closer to the next Arizona postseason roster; of that I am very sure.

Dano: Glad we’re done with them, I never enjoy watching them play, even when we beat them. As others have noted, we played them closer than one might have expected, which bodes well for the future.

Wesley: I’m in agreement with James too. This team is much closer to contention than people think. The wild card IS a much more realistic goal than winning the NL West, but on the other hand, like Makikilo said, we could easily have taken four out of five game.

Will the D-backs overtake the Giants for third place? And does it matter?

Justin: Does it matter? Ultimately, no. Do I think that would be a really cool thing if we manage to overtake them? Yes. Apples to oranges, but the 2005 Dbacks went from 51 wins to 77 wins and a second place finish. We have an outside chance to get to 77 or 78 wins and considering the record the Giants had last year, finishing above them would be an accomplishment.

ISH95: Absolutely it matters. There is a huge difference between the bottom two and the mid point. Even if there really isn’t a difference, there’s a difference. Just say it. The third place Arizona Diamondbacks. It just sounds better, and it’s a better starting point to build off next season.

DBacksEurope: On a personal note and from a pure fan perspective: yes, it matters a lot and I want to be 3rd and ahead of the Giants. But in all honesty, I hope they won’t. For the outsider it wouldn’t matter, but to the D-Backs’ fans and front office it would, a lot. My fear is that if they overtake the Giants the FO will sleep better than if they wouldn’t and this team has a severe problem in their relief corps but also has some holes to fill in the infield.

If they end 4th the pressure is definitely higher than if they end 3rd, because an owner looks (or should look) at today’s results, not at tomorrow’s forecast. We have seen what happens to this team if the FO thinks things aren’t as bad as they look like (the underestimation of a bad 2020 season has led to a terrible 2021 season), so we have to prevent this FO from thinking they are further than they actually are, the mistake the Giants made this year. But we’ve all seen the progress of the team although it was impossible not to improve on last year.

James: I think there is a very good chance that Arizona manages to finish the season just ahead of San Francisco. Does it matter? Not really. But crawling from the cellar to third is a mighty big accomplishment. Finishing third is better than finishing fourth. So while it doesn’t matter, from a fan perspective, I think it is significant.

Makakilo: I like to think anything is possible. With 6 games remaining between the two teams it’s definitely possible. It matters because next season it will reinforce positive attitudes when adversity happens to players.

Spencer: Yes it matters. The confidence to the guys and fans will be important. I think third is possible (even if its a tie). And it will come as a statement that this team is going to be pesky for the rest of the decade; no more pushover Diamondbacks games for teams needing to get back on track.

Dano: It doesn’t matter much, I don’t think, but in many respects, sure, it would be nice. But I think DBE makes a very good point in that I would prefer we give the front office as little of a chance as possible to whitewash how terrible our bullpen has been this off-season.

Wesley. It’s possible and even plausible potentially, but I doubt that will happen.

Who have been the team’s MVP and LVP this month?

ISH95: For MVP, I think I’m going to say Varsho. Just seems like any time something positive has happened in a Dbacks game, he’s been involved, either defensively or offensively.

Do I have to pick just one LVP? I guess I’ll go with Kennedy. Just been awful lately. Only two scoreless appearances this month. One where he didn’t even record an out. Just bad.

DBacksEurope: MVP? Gallen. He is dominating like never before. LVP, pick your least favourite reliever…Perdomo is also the only batter who seems to not improve.

James: Hard to pick anyone other than Gallen for MVP. A team record string of scoreless innings is pretty difficult to top. Even once the streak was broken, he was still pretty dominant. Honorable mention goes to Daulton Varsho, the man I hope they extend this winter. As for LVP, I am going to cheat a bit. I name the bullpen as a whole. IPK and Melancon are essay targets and have sucked, but the bullpen as a whole is a big reason why Arizona is still fighting with the Giants for third instead of turning up the heat on the Padres.

Makakilo: Although Zac Gallen is a Cy Young candidate, my choice for MVP is Daulton Varsho because of his awesome offense, awesome defense, and really good baserunning (not to mention the value of his position flexibility).

  • Daulton Varsho’s 8 homers in 75 PAs was awesome. His .395 wOBA was the best Diamondback (per baseball Savant 1-22 September).
  • For the season, his 4 DRS in left field, 4 DRS in center field, and 15 DRS in right field accounted for 23 of the Diamondbacks’ 25 outfield DRS (per The Fielding Bible through 22 September).
  • His 12 stolen bases ranks third behind Rojas with 20 and McCarthy with 19. His 13 extra bases taken ranks in a tie for 5-6 with Alek Thomas (per Baseball reference through 22 September).

In September, the Diamondbacks were getting early looks at potential players for next season. In that context, it would not be fair to label a young player as least valuable. If I had to name LVP, it might be a veteran player with a high salary…

Spencer: I’m going to go with Gallen as well. It’s too hard to ignore the step he’s taken since the All Star Break. He’s been unreal. If he’d done this all season, he’d be in the discussion for league MVP let alone just Arizona’s. Shout out to Varsho too. He’s a beast of a man who deserves a great extension to play Outfield.

LVP: Madison BUMgarner. Hands down. There’s no real other options for me (bullpen has several). To me, when he’s on the mound, I assume a loss and am absolutely shocked if we get anything other than batting practice coming from his hand. Even the bullpen doesn’t make me feel like that (it’s not much better though).

Dano: Yeah, I’m going to go with pitchers too. Gallen for MVP, Bum for LVP (though I believe it was announced this afternoon that his season is over, with someone else getting his final start), for all the reasons enumerated above. Dishonorable mention goes to the bullpen, per James.

Wesley: Yeah, I’ll just echo the statements of Gallen and Varsho, since I can’t write a better endorsement for either. Madbum and the bullpen have been LVPs all year, so what’s new?

What do you think of Aaron Judge’s quest for the AL home-run record?

Justin: I think it is cool. I have included a HR tracker to my snakebytes the last month.

ISH95: Love it. Absolutely love it. Between him and Pujols, it’s giving us something to really focus on outside of our individual teams. It seems lately that baseball has been lacking any truly compelling individual storylines, and I think it’s taken away from the sport as a whole. Sure you have Ohtani, but there’s no specific thing he’s chasing. With Pujols and Judge, it’s something we can track, and observe, and enjoy. It’s great for the sport. I hope next year Judge hits 73.

DBacksEurope: That’s awesome. He seems like a sane guy, always liked his attitude, and it is also a big up-in-your face to the Yankees who couldn’t agree on an extension with him. They’ll have to go deep into their pockets now to keep their demanding fans satisfied. I have always watched a lot of Yankees games except for this year, so I feel a bit sorry for not having watched any of his record-setting homers. Anyone is aware that MLB might be getting their wanted NYY-LAD World Series? The odds of that happening are probably better than ever.

James: Meh. If he stays healthy he’ll get it. That’s been the case for a couple of years now. What he has done at the plate over the last six weeks has been nothing short of incredible. I’m shocked he continues to get as many hittable pitches as he does on any given night. I think his quest for the Triple Crown is of far greater interest.

Makakilo: First, a hat tip to Justin for including this link to a HR tracker in his snake bytes.

Like James, greater interest for me is the AL triple crown (leader in home runs, RBIs, and batting average).

Aaron Judge is likely to win the AL triple crown. He leads the Majors with 60 home runs and 128 RBIs. His .316 batting average leads the AL, but is third in the Majors behind Freeman and Goldschmidt.

Spencer: I’m excited for him. Despite the current climate of homerun over everything else, the record has stood tall. And he hits nearly as many on the road as he does with that horrid fence in New York. ISH and I will eagerly be watching for 73 when he signs in Colorado next year to play with Bryant!

Dano: I begin to feel like there’s something wrong with me because I honestly don’t give a crap. Screw the Yankees. Anyone who plays for them and who wasn’t a Diamondback at some point who I was fond of is dead to me for as long they’re on that roster.

Wesley: I’m just a fan of Judge in general as a fellow 6’7 dude, but I find it absolutely fascinating that he’s not only threatening the AL HR record but is also has a good chance of winning the triple crown at the same time. That’s a historic season right there.

How would you rank the four major Phoenix franchises right now?

Justin: I’ll go with my favorites in order, make it simple. Dbacks and Coyotes tied #1, then no one in second, Cardinals third and then Suns last. I think the Suns and Cardinals have had the most success recently. I don’t follow either handegg or basketball. I think it is well known that I could write an article about hockey, if I wanted (I have no intention of doing so on 5FH).

ISH95:

  1. Suns. Not only are they doing well, they get to replace their terrible owner with, it sounds like, someone who ranks highly in the list of richest people in the world.
  2. Diamondbacks. The future might not be now, but I think it’s pretty close. Get those jerseys now before people accuse you of being a bandwagon fan.
  3. Cardinals. They’re a mess, but they’ve got some talent, and I think they’ll be in the mix for a playoff spot come the end of the season. Keim probably still won’t address the defense any time soon though.
  4. Mercury. They have one of the perks of the suns, but they clearly were missing Greiner this season.
  5. The Coyotes. They “forgot” to pay rent, got evicted, and are now crashing on their younger siblings couch. Justin and their three other fans deserve better ;)

DBacksEurope: Oh, I don’t really have a favourite team in any other American sport save baseball, and I really don’t care much about Arizona sports teams in general, haha! But I’ll make an effort and say from an outsider’s point of view, the world would probably rank Arizona sports teams from Suns, Cardinals, D-Backs to Coyotes according to appetite for winning and relevancy in their niche.

James:

This is NOT the order I would put them is for most to least favourite.

  1. The Suns. Not only are they a legitimate championship contender, they are now looking at the very real possibility of landing a competitive owner as well. They are damn good now and their future is looking bright.
  2. The Diamondbacks. The future is starting to look bright. They have drafted some insanely gifted talents and are starting to see them blossom. Patience is paying off. They could be a playoff contender next season with just a little bit of luck on their side.
  3. The Mercury. They aren’t one of the “big four” but they are one of the best professional teams year-in, year-out. If not for the BS going on in Russia, there’s no telling how things might have gone this year.
  4. Phoenix Rising. Like the Mercury, this “second tier” franchise is consistently excellent. They are experiencing a down year this season, but they should still be frontrunners for joining the USL when the league finally expands.
  5. The Cardinals. Would the real Cardinals please stand up? They have a ton of talent, but they also have a ton of holes and questions.
  6. The Coyotes. The extreme levels of mismanagement and the constant threats to move make it difficult to feel any sympathy for them, even if they aren’t nearly as much to blame for the issues with Glendale as many seem to think. The reality is, current ownership has no idea how to run a professional sports team. The team needs serious help.

Makakilo: My focus is only baseball. My view is that the Diamondbacks are the one and only Phoenix franchise.

Spencer: I really only follow the Diamondbacks. My cousins love the Suns, so I know about them. And people like to throw info about the Cardinals at me as if I cared what happened in the NFL last weekend. So a completely uninformed opinion list follows:

  1. Suns - They seem to do the bouncy ball well. Good for them.
  2. Diamondbacks - Yay look at the Roaring Twenties Baby ‘Backs go!
  3. Rising* - I love the Columbus Crew and it’d be cool to have them in the same league at some point so I have a reason to follow them.
  4. Coyotes - Literally only because of the LOL at having an ICE Hockey team in Phoenix. This is the height of human arrogance.
  5. Cardinals - How it can take 4 hours to play a game with a built in timer of 1 hour plus some time outs blows my mind. The game is bloated. The team appears to be 50/50 excellent or horrible and it switches regularly. And for the love of Zeus, how do you sign a massive deal with a kid when you feel the need to put that he needs to do his homework in the contract?! This feels like the Colorado Rockies of the NFL.

Justin:

“Coyotes - Literally only because of the LOL at having an ICE Hockey team in Phoenix. This is the height of human arrogance.”

Yeah, yeah, well, being from CT hockey was my first sport I ever followed or watched. 5FH used to get alot of trolls saying “you guys cant even skate!” blah, blah. Mostly from Winnipeg, before they got the Atlanta Thrashers franchise to be the second Jets. The Coyotes were the original Jets. We “stole” their team. (it would be like people in Montreal saying Washington DC “stole” their team in baseball)

Dano: In terms of my own interest, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Mercury, Suns, Coyotes.

Wesley: I’m really only a fan of the Diamondbacks, with a passing interest in the Suns/Mercury. If the Coyotes make it to the Stanley Cup finals, or the Cardinals make it to the Super Bowl, I’ll pay attention. Although to be honest, when the cardinals did make it to the Super Bowl, I didn’t watch it.

What are you most nostalgic for from your youth/childhood?

Justin: I don’t know if it really is nostalgic, per se, but I really liked witnessing the progress of technology. From early 1990’s gameboy and original nintendo to what we have now. From phones with cords on the wall to my Moto E 2020 (I know that isnt breaking technology, but it is what my phone is). I think Gen Z is born into the end product, so that is all they know. I just liked seeing the development of things.

Some of my favorite sports games ever were Sega Genesis NHL 98 and Triple Play Gold Edition. Triple Play did not have the Dbacks or the Tampa Bay Rays, so I am thinking it was the 1997 season. I played alot of Pokemon red and gold versions on gameboy color.

ISH95: Affordable housing.

DBacksEurope: Soccer wasn’t as rotten in the 90s or even in the early 00s as it is right now. Players get paid ridiculous amounts of money by owners from countries that exploit and discriminate against people in their own (Arab) country. It’s disgusting. Hence my increased interest in baseball in the last 10 years or so.

Makakilo: In my youth, I collected rocks, including some interesting fossils. I think fondly of the days when all it took to be happy was collecting rocks and imagining what the world was like eons ago. Over the years my interests changed; the rocks seemingly vanished into the winds of time.

As an adult, I find joy when I contemplate my shiva lingam rock from the Narmada river in India. And I am happy that a few colored quartz crystals brighten my bookcase.

Spencer: A fantastical imagination. When I was a kid, I could take a vacuum extender and be a Jedi for hours in the backyard. Now, my imagination focuses on winning the lottery or paying off my house…

Good news Justin, there are new Pokemon games coming out this Holliday. Hopefully they can meet those highs of the early games. I’ll be playing!

Justin: that sounds cool.

Dano: Landlines and only landlines for telephony purposes. Cellphones and smartphones have been abjectly terrible for society as a whole, on any number of different levels. And no, you will never convince me otherwise.

Wesley : The robust economy and affordable housing of the 90s, and the MUCH saner pre-9/11 World politics.. Russia hadn’t completely devolved into a kleptocratic oligarchy led by a fascist dictator yet. China was in a much more optimistic era, that had a diversity of ideas and views, and they weren’t committing genocide against the Uyhgurs.