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SnakePit Round Table: Welcome, old friends and new...

Evan Longoria and Zach Davies join the 2022 roster. Is that it for the winter?

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Rate the Evan Longoria signing. Show your working.

Makakilo: Offensively it’s a clear upgrade over Emmanuel Rivera (OPS+ 114 vs 97 in 2022, 124 vs 78 in 2021). His results may improve by batting at Chase. The following table shows Evan Longoria bats excellently at Chase!

Defensively, it’s less clear. In the last two seasons at third base, Rivera had better DRS (6 vs -4 in 2022, and 1 vs -1 in 2021), and OAA was mixed (1 vs 4 in 2022, and 5 vs 1 in 2021).

Longoria will be the short side of a platoon at third base. At best, including DHs, his PAs will be equivalent to a half time player. Hopefully his limited playing time will keep him healthy because he had many injuries in the last two seasons (left shoulder sprain, right hand contusion, left oblique strain, right hamstring strain, thumb fracture).

What is most interesting is that he talked extensively with both Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo about his role. I love the optimistic and inspiring things he said at his press conference. My intuition is that his role is a player/coach. After this season is over, will he join the coaching staff?

“I watched this team [Diamondbacks] from across the diamond a lot last year and I really do believe that this team has a chance to make a run, has a chance to be special. There’s a ton of young talent, the pitching staff I think is primed for a big year.” – Evan Longoria, January 2023

DBacksEurope: I voted for “Meh” in the article, but I think it is a “Good” signing, that is: I think it is a fair price for a guy who has been a useful bat for the Giants these past years. The only “but” is: can he produce and stay healthy? I think others have said he could take valuable bats away from youngsters but I don’t think that is the case for Longoria. I do believe his arrival has to do with a possible setback or lack of confidence in Rivera, who isn’t a terrific player anyhow.

ISH95: Inevitable and meh. Ultimately, this trade boils down to your opinion of Emmanuel Rivera. How much upside do you think he has vs how much do you think Longoria has left in the tank. I’m inclined to prefer Rivera’s upside, but it is far from a guarantee that Longoria is able to play a whole season. His contract is also only for one year, and we have five (?) more of Rivera. Best case scenario he provides Veteran Presence like Clark, worst case Veteran Presence like Bumgarner, but at an exponentially lower cost.

Jim: After sitting in on his press conference, I’m upgrading my opinion from “meh” to “good”. While Longoria was saying all the right things, I was genuinely impressed by how he said them. He was articulate and quite eloquent, but admitted his family was a good part of the reason he signed here. Which isn’t a bad thing: happy players play better, I suspect. Evan convinced me that he is here to help the team and if that means being on the lesser side of a platoon with Josh Rojas at third-base, I think he’ll be fine with that. Not many would be fine with being on limited playing time. I think he will also be a good role-model for what’s shaping up otherwise to be one of the younger line-ups on the majors.

Do the same for the Zach Davies re-signing

Makakilo: Although his ERA+ is only average, I like that he averaged 5 innings per start for 27 starts last season. Adding Zach Davies to the rotation means that pitchers promoted to the Majors can ramp up instead of experiencing trial by fire. Last season, his average game score of 49.0 was the fifth best on the team (best were Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson, Zac Gallen, and Merrill Kelly).

DBacksEurope: Well, this is a “poor” signing to me. If someone has to take innings away from prospects, then let it be a quality pitcher. Davies couldn’t pitch more than 5 innings, hardly got a win and was even injured for a while. I guess he might be better than Bumgarner, but you don’t need a lot for that. Maybe MadBum will shift to the BP, that could explain the signing.

ISH95: Meh again. I’m not worried about him taking away innings from the youngsters. As Jim has pointed out many times, teams almost always need double digit starters to make it through the season, and the Diamondbacks in particular needed 14 in 2022. Davies helps them get one pitcher closer to that number. He wasn’t my preferred choice by any stretch, though, hence the meh

Jim: This one gets a solid “meh” from me. It doesn’t make the team any worse, but there’s no reason to think it’ll make them any better. I would like to know more about the $3 million in incentives, however. Getting 2022 Davies for $5 million, is a rather different proposition from getting 2022 Davies for $8 million. I think MadBum may be the biggest loser in this signing, as it increases the team’s options in terms of potential replacements for him. The bar on what constitutes an acceptable level of Bumgarner performance, just got raised significantly.

Outside of bullpen help, do you think Mike Hazen is done for the winter?

Makakilo: Yes. This has been an active winter. The Diamondbacks added a lot of depth.

DBacksEurope: Unfortunately I guess he is. A disappointing off-season. We’ll have to see if the Diamondbacks can compete.

ISH95: I wouldn’t bet on it. He clearly has some budget left if the rumors, specifically Gambo’s about the competitive Swanson offer, are true. The number of names on the market are dwindling, so if it does happen, it would need to be through a trade. This from MLBTR is intriguing to me, though I’m not sure if after the Varsho trade, we would be willing to meet the price

Jim: I suspect so; there aren’t many positions where the team needs help. I guess another right-handed bat is always a possibility, but I’m not sure how that would fit onto the roster as currently constructed.

Of the available relievers, who’d you fancy for Arizona?

DBacksEurope: I wrote three articles this off-season on relief pitchers. If we look at those that I mentioned as possible closers I think both Knebel and Archie would be interesting additions. Especially Archie Bradley could bring something extra to this club again because of his history although I am never much a fan of bringing past players back. I also mentioned quite some relievers, but they were sorrowfully not chased. Then I mentioned Fujinami and no one cared until all of a sudden he was mentioned in rumours and everyone suddenly had an opinion. I still believe he could be an interesting outsider for the right price, but I believe his posting time has passed so he will return to the NPB.

Makakilo: Michael Fulmer is my pick. Per this AZ Snake Pit article, the important bullpen statistics are fastball velocity, strikeouts per batter faced, whiffs per pitch, and balls in play plus homers per strike.

As shown in the following table, in 2021 he met three of the four criteria, and came very close to meeting the fourth criteria. Although in 2022 his statistics were less stellar, at 29 years old he could bounce back.

Michael Fulmer was one of the relievers in DBacksEurope’s article. When I asked him, his reply indicated that he was fine with me sharing one of his paragraphs with you:

“Fulmer looks like a good project to work with and needs to work on his command to return to his 2021 numbers and maybe some more. Consistency was Fulmer’s biggest problem in 2022 as his velocity continuously moved up and down between 93.5 and 94.5 although in September he was getting back to 95.7 again and when he was reaching those heights, batters barely squared up against him.” – DBacksEurope, October 2022

As an additional consideration, in 2022 Michael Fulmer’s Got-The-Job-Done (no runs allowed and no inherited runners scored) percentage improved from 63.5% to 71.6%.

Worth noting is that ZiPS projected next season’s FIP as 3.87.

Honorable mention to the following two unavailable relievers (who signed multi-year contracts with the Astros and the Mets), who were included in DBacksEurope’s article and discussed in the comment section.

ISH95: I just want someone decent who stays decent when they get here. That is literally all I ask.

Jim: Anyone who can post an ERA+ better than 90, would likely be an improvement on the 2022 Arizona bullpen. Arrivals like Scott McGough should perhaps help, but the question of depth still needs to be addressed. Last year, Arizona used 23 different relievers (not including position players), and arms outside the top 8 most active were responsible for 178 bullpen innings, so about 30% of all relief work. Is it going to be the same selection of waiver-wire hopefuls? There’s only so much mop-up work available. We’ll see how the non-roster invitees shake down in spring training, I guess.

Will any team pick up Trevor Bauer, or is his name too toxic?

Makakilo: Too toxic. Points follow:

  • One aspect of his behavior was extremely contrary to the standards of MLB. His longest ever suspension under MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy was reduced by a neutral arbitrator, but remained the longest ever.
  • Another negative aspect of his behavior was his intense and unpleasant Twitter battles.
  • Just his presence on the field could provoke negative reactions by baseball fans. Those reactions could distract his teammates.
  • There is no guarantee that his future behavior will be less toxic.

DBacksEurope: He is done in the MLB. If no one wanted to sign Puig, then they would certainly not sign Bauer.

ISH85: He’s done, and in something of a twist of fate, him being done is what will finally get the owners busted for collusion.

Jim: It all feels a bit reminiscent of what happened to Barry Bonds, who posted a 169 OPS+ over his final season, being then unable to find employment despite - as his apologists frequently reminded us - never failing a drug test. I was quite surprised to learn that a majority of Dodgers fans, albeit a small one, wanted Bauer back. I think this may say more about Dodgers fans, than anything else. If this had been the only incident in Bauer’s career, it might have been a different matter, but he just seems too divisive a figure for any team to want to take the risk. But I guess there is a possibility some team with little or nothing to lose in the court of public opinion takes a gamble. Hello, the Houston Astros.

If you could rename America what would it be called?

Makakilo: I took an oath. “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..”

In our constitution, the name of our country is “United States” and “United States of America.” I am opposed to changing the name because it would be a step away from supporting and defending our constitution.

DBacksEurope: New Netherlands. Hey, we founded New York as New Amsterdam, so why not. We did it with New Zealand too. I think Amerigo Vespucci got too much credit, so “Columbia” would be a better name as well, after all it was him who “discovered” the new world (officially).

Jim: The correct answer is, of course, the United States of Britain.

ISH95: Dear god no Jim. Nothing would make me happier than shipping Harry back to you all. I don’t want the rest of the royal family on top of it.

Erikssonia would be good, after someone who actually could be argued to have “discovered” it from a Euro-centric point of view. New Zhongguo (I believe the Chineese name for the kingdom that Ancient China was part of) would be a logical one as Chineese explorer era landed on the west coast 2500 years before Columbus or Eriksson. However, imo, the name it should be called is Haudenosaunee, after the confederation between five Native American tribes that is considered the oldest participatory democracy on earth that was here long before any Asian or European explorers arrived.

Basically nothing after Columbus or especially Amerigo Vespucci, who to my knowledge never even set foot on the continent.