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SnakePit Round Table: Rolen into Cooperstown

Prospect fever hits, and we also discuss baseball movie quotes

Christie’s Pop Culture Auction Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Scott Rolen enters the Hall of Fame. Does he deserve it?

Spencer: Yes.

DBacksEurope: I guess he does, he had a great career although I’ll tell you that I hardly have seen him play. I guess that with stats dominating baseball many players with that many (b)WAR etc. make the HOF. But I am not sure if he is one of the best ever. Maybe they should make a Hall Of Goats so we can separate the Babe Ruths from the not so greatest and this way Kenny Lofton gets in as well.

Makakilo: Yes. Reasons follow:

  • He won eight Gold Gloves for his defense at third base. Plus he won one Silver Slugger.
  • He played in the 2006 World Series, where his OPS was 1.213. In that World Series he added 9.1% Championship Win Probability Added (cWPA).
  • Four types of his WAR were better than average for HOF third basemen.

Justin: Yeah, I think he does. I think KIlo’s chart says it all.

Jim: I’d say so, but I think what’s fascinating is how he only got 10.2% of votes just five years ago. Two-thirds of voters changed their minds? It just feels… weird, that the BBWAA got it so wrong initially. Mind you, on that same ballot, Andruw Jones almost fell off the ballot entirely, at only 7.3%, and he now seems to be on the track to Cooperstown. Did I miss some radical reworking of thinking since 2018? Did the BBWAA change their constituency?

ISH95: With Modern players, I fall back to one very basic measure when evaluating them: did I feel like they were a HOFer when I watched them. Rolen is very much a yes to me in that regard. He hit well, he is probably the best defensive third baseman I’ve ever seen, and he was a key part of some very good teams over the years. Add in all the stats that Kilo and it’s mind boggling it took this long.

Todd Helton just missed out. What about him?

Spencer: Yes. But people gonna hate on Coors.

DBacksEurope: see my previous answer.

Makakilo: He fell short of Scott Rolen (less Gold Gloves/Silver Sluggers (7 vs 9), his 2007 World Series (WS) was less remarkable than Rolen’s 2006 WS (0.3% vs 9.1% cWPA), and lower career WAR.

Paul Goldschmidt has a better WAR per 162 games, and has not yet passed Todd Helton in the other WAR measures. If I was a voter, I’d save my vote for when Paul Goldschmidt (who has 9 Gold Gloves/Silver Sluggers) becomes eligible for the HOF.

Justin: That is interesting Kilo, but I am going tlean towards Helton belonging in. Spencer is right about people hating on Coors.

Jim: I’m going to hate on Coors. :) In particular, the way it inflates the numbers of players like Helton, and some more than others. Away from Denver, his career OPS was only .855, which isn’t even in the top 50 for MLB over that time (min 1,000 road PA). It’s less than Brad Fullmer. Not Helton’s fault, obviously, but if he played for anyone else except the Rockies, we’re not even having this conversation.

Justin: Oh, wow! That really does say a lot. lol

ISH95: But he did play for the Rockies, Jim :) and the Coors Effect goes both ways. There are physical issues that arise going from Coors to sea level. It doesn’t tell the whole story looking at away numbers. Look at Arenado. He is doing just fine away from Coors, after adapting again to normal altitude. There is no way to know, but I’d imagine the same would have been true for Helton.

Plus, everyone loves to point out that he played half his games at Coors. Well, he also played half of them away from Coors, and when you average the two, he is HOF player. And he looked like one to me when he played :)

Three D-backs in the top 15 of MLB’s top prospects. Which one excites you most?

Spencer: Carroll because we’ve seen the most from him. Probably Jones in the long run, but he’s got an injury to overcome and has proven nothing yet in pro ball.

DBacksEurope: I am interested in prospects but normally not excited about them. If I had to pick one mine would be Druw Jones for patriotic reasons although he is more American than (Dutch) Caribbean of course.

Makakilo: Corbin Carroll. MLB ranked him the #2 prospect in all of baseball! That is awesome!

My expectations are high. This season I’m thinking he could win rookie-of-the-year voting and the Diamondbacks will be awarded a draft pick. Looking farther ahead I’m thinking he will be an All-Star, maybe a Hall-of-Famer!

Justin: As far as this season, Carroll.

Jim: I’m going to go with Lawlar, because he plays at a position of particularly desperate need for the team. Carroll may have the higher upside, but if he were to be abducted by aliens tomorrow, the D-backs outfield would still be in good shape for the long haul (not least with Jones on the horizon). If Lawlar went back to the mothership, we’re looking at everyday shortstop, Geraldo Perdomo. So, I think Lawlar is the one that’ll have the greatest impact on the team’s fortunes.

ISH95: Jones because it’s about time we got our very own Son Of An All-Star. The Padres and Blue Jays can’t have all the fun :)

What might happen if Bally Sports goes bankrupt?

Spencer: AppleTV+ buys the rights to MLB games. $100/yr for a single team, no blackout restrictions. $250/yr for all games. Extra $50-$75/yr for MiLB streaming rights.

Also possible, but would need to wait long enough for the Activision/Blizzard deal to be approved, Microsoft finally buys Netflix and makes a deal for the exclusive rights to stream MLB games. Price TBD because they’ve tried hard for years to keep their prices fairly low, but have started to raise them in the last few months. I’ll be basic and ditto my Apple prices here as well. Microsoft already has a good relationship with MLB, having negotiated a deal to land MLB The Show on Xbox Gamepass.

DBacksEurope: I guess the Diamondbacks will see their budget getting reduced by Ken Kendrick. I mean, if COVID was reason enough to get rid of low-paid minor leaguers, then what impact will a big TV contract have.

Makakilo: Most interesting would be if the Diamondbacks end up with an equity stake in Bally Sports. Would they divest their share of Bally as soon as possible; would they be a voice to focus Bally on baseball; or would they be a voice for making Bally as profitable as possible?

I love the idea of subscribing to a single team with no blackouts. For the price to be comparable to 2023 MLB TV subscriptions, it would be between $120 to $140 per year. To capture the added value of no blackouts, it could be as high as $180 to $210 per year.

Justin: I am not sure I am going to want to drop $120+ on a sports package. Maybe it it’s 6 monthly payments of $20 or something.

Jim: Yeah, if there was a reasonably-priced package that let me watch the D-backs, I’d be very interested in that. I do not care about the Suns, Coyotes or Mercury, and have no interest in paying to see them, but a dedicated Diamondbacks stream could be a contender. I do worry that Bally Sports’s issues will have a knock-on effect to the team, diminishing the revenue stream going forward. It’s hard to see anyone paying $75 million a year for the D-backs’ right in the 2023 media landscape, and that could impact the team’s upcoming pursuit of Shohei Ohtani… I managed to type that with a straight face, somehow.

ISH95: I have to imagine that it will result in a change of attitude for MLB and streaming. Maybe they will focus on selling streaming rights (Amazon and Disney are two to consider in addition to Apple, IMO) or maybe it will be the blossoming of MLB. Tv into a full fledged option for all. But I think the days of cable networks owning the rights are rapidly coming to an end.

Can anyone stop Japan in Group B of the World Baseball Classic?

Spencer: Why would you root for any other team? They have Ohtani. That’s enough for me.

DBacksEurope: Impossible. It’s a major league team playing against a Triple A team and three teams from Class A. I hope the Czechs will upset Korea, it would make for a great story but no one will stop Japan in Group B. I guess we won’t see Ohtani pitch.

Makakilo: Japan has the better players and a strong winning culture. Nevertheless, sometimes an underdog wins (or at least I like to think that is true).

Justin: No chance any other the others in that group have even a remote possibility of winning. MAYBE Korea…like if Japan commits 5 errors or something in the head to head.

Jim: I am currently filled with the romance of the underdog, having just watched fifth-tier Wrexham hold second-tier Sheffield to an enthralling 3-3 draw in the FA Cup, and come within two minutes of knocking out the higher team. So, why not? I imagine over the course of the four games, Japan will still prove good enough, but baseball is a lot more unpredictable over the course of a single game than, say, the NFL, and anything can happen e.g. Tyler Gilbert tossing a no-hitter. I was there when South Africa nearly knocked off Canada in the inaugural WBC: shocks can happen. I’d love it if the likes of Taiwan or, even better, the Czech Republic, put the fear of the baseball gods into the Japanese for a few innings.

Which is your favorite speech from a baseball movie?

Spencer: The two on this list from Moneyball both immediately popped into my head, so I’ve got to pick either of them. Aaron Sorkin is a god with words, and all the performances in that movie are excellent as well. There’s humor and genuine love in both scenes.

Fun fact: Chris Pratt actually got into Superhero Shape for Moneyball, not Guardians of the Galaxy! i.e. Baseball players are superheroes. Scientifically proven.

DBacksEurope: Not speech, but conversation: I’ll go with Brad Pitt visiting Cleveland and talking about Karim García, who I wrote about in a Random D-Back article, so there is a link to the Diamondbacks as well by picking that scene. That is a great excuse for me not remembering any baseball film speeches haha! I only remember one speech from a movie and that is General Patton’s in the movie Patton when he prepares his men for war, although the best line ever is from a Steven Seagal movie lol. From that list, by the way, I like the scene in Field of Dreams with father and son. Who doesn’t? It was a nice movie.

Makakilo: Not speech, but flow of mental consciousness - For the Love of the Game. It’s an amazing movie where the most important action happens in the main character’s head. Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) is an imperfect hero (who is more interesting than a flawless superman), who is at the peak of his pitching which he loves. He is realizing that like all good things his career is nearing the end. With great resolve he continues to perform at his best ever, while he realizes he has another passion/love which he has pushed aside and which he can now pursue, although it would have a mental cost of accepting the end of his career instead of struggling to hang on during his decline.

Jim: The Natural is my all-time favorite baseball movie - and likely a top 50 in any genre - but its strength feels more like its in the overall dramatic arc, and the absolutely impeccable payoff. Sorry, something in my eye… :) I think A League of Their Own probably has the best dialogue: it just zings off the page, in a way that’s both authentic and hilarious, augmented by perfect delivery from everyone involved. If you can make Madonna look like a good actress, you’re performing miracles, and in which light:

Mae Mordabito: What if at a key moment in the game my, my uniform bursts open and, uh, oops., my bosoms come flying out? That, that might draw a crowd, right?
Doris Murphy: You think there are men in this country who ain’t seen your bosoms?