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Snake Bytes 4/25: Good Grief

Sometimes even bad teams give you a run for your money; they shouldn’t, but they do

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We may share a name, but we have very different skill sets

Diamondbacks News

[theathletic] MLB All-30: The weirdest and wackiest random notes from each team’s media guide PAYWALL

Arizona Diamondbacks

Reliever Andrew Chafin tried selling his truck while mic’d up by FOX Sports Arizona during BP in 2017: “If anybody’s interested in a truck, I’ve got a 2012 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali with a fully built twin turbo. With a fully built Allison transmission for sale. Just shoot me a tweet if you are interested. … Please put that on there for me. I’m really trying to sell this truck.” — Zach Buchanan

[SI] Andrew Chafin Power Shags His Way to Victory

Andrew Chafin blew a save in the top of the eighth inning but came back out for the ninth inning, gutting out a victory with a strikeout of Franmil Reyes on his 35th pitch. The Diamondbacks had scratched out a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 4-4 tie. Having previously lost 4 of their last five games, this was a much needed victory to keep the team in first place. The Dodgers and Padres were both off tonight, so the D-backs with their 13-11 record hold a half game lead over L.A. and one full game over San Diego.

[theathletic] MLB Power Rankings: Rangers, Orioles ascend; Twins take a tumble and it’s New Guy time PAYWALL

17. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 12-11

Last Power Ranking: T-16

The Diamondbacks made mostly low-key additions this winter, knowing that any jump they were going to make competitively would have to come from their core of homegrown young players. But there have been some highlights among the newbies. Back-end bullpen signees Miguel Castro and Andrew Chafin have helped solidify what was one of MLB’s worst relief units a year ago. Evan Longoria is hitting well in a part-time role, and trade acquisition Gabriel Moreno is finding his level as the team’s top catcher. Arizona could really use bigger contributions from other additions like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Scott McGough, but the biggest recent addition might be one of subtraction — after designating Madison Bumgarner for assignment with more than a year left on his five-year, $85 million deal, the Diamondbacks will no longer feature one of the worst starters in the majors every five days. — ZB

[AZSP] Diamondbacks 5, Royals 4: Walk This Way

There are games where I can start the recap about the third inning. Sure, I may end up rewriting it, but the tone of the contest is usually fairly well-established by that point. Tonight was not one of those games. It was one which felt like it could collapse into chaos on either side in the blink of an eye, right up until Andrew Chafin locked down the win with the tying run in scoring position. The Royals came into Chase Field tonight in possession of what would be the worst record in the majors, if the A’s hadn’t apparently given up all hope. However, this was every bit as tough a contest as the final score would indicate, as well as the way in which the decisive run scored: a 30.4 mph squibber by Nick Ahmed.

Baseball News

[MLBTR] Looking At Pirates’ Past Trades That Are Starting To Pay Off

January 27, 2020: Diamondbacks acquire Starling Marte and cash for Liover Peguero, Brennan Malone and international spending money.

The Pirates managed to sneak above .500 in 2018 but had a dismal season after that, going 69-93 in 2019, making it unsurprising that the selloff continued. Marte had previously signed an extension with the Bucs that ran through 2019 but had two affordable option years, meaning he still had a couple of years of control at the time of this trade. But with contention in that time frame seeming unlikely, he was sent to the desert.

Malone is now 22 years old and has yet to climb higher than Class-A in the minors. Injuries and the pandemic have limited him to fewer than 30 professional innings. Peguero in on the 40-man roster and made his MLB debut last year, though he got into just a single game. His prospect rank has faded in recent years, but he was still considered to be among the 10 best in the system as of the start of this season. He’s off to a slow start this year in a small sample of 11 Double-A games, so he’ll have to turn things around to stop his stock from falling further.

[theathletic] Reeling A’s, soaring Rays, complete Padres: MLB weekend takeaways PAYWALL

The Padres are approaching full strength

San Diego welcomed back its stalwarts this week. Fernando Tatis Jr. returned from his suspension. Joe Musgrove came back from his kettlebell accident. On Saturday, Tatis launched his first big-league home run since Sept. 30, 2021. The dinger aided Musgrove, who gave up three runs in five innings in his 2023 debut.

The Padres have treaded water through the first few weeks. Juan Soto’s batting average is still below .200. Manny Machado entered Sunday with a .543 OPS; Machado has not played a full month like that since the final weeks of 2017, when he posted a .587 OPS in September and October. Machado should start to hit soon. As should Soto and Tatis, in theory. The club’s pitching depth remains a bigger question, especially with Blake Snell sporting a 6.00 ERA.

[MLBTR] A’s Move Shintaro Fujinami To Relief

The Athletics are moving right-hander Shintaro Fujinami from the rotation to a relief role, manager Mark Kotsay told reporters before tonight’s game against the Angels (relayed by Martín Gallegos of Kotsay left open the possibility for an eventual move back to the starting staff but suggested the club would first “assess” Fujinami in shorter stints.

[fangraphs] Does Sending Players to the WBC Screw Teams Up?

Not awesome, it turns out. Eight of them have lost ground in the playoff race, four by more than 17 percentage points, though it’s also worth pointing out that the biggest mover by far, in either direction by both winning percentage and playoff odds, are the Rays. And Tampa Bay sent seven players the WBC, including six position players. Of those, Isaac Paredes is the only one with an OPS under .900 at the moment. If there’s a WBC curse, it does not apply in Pinellas County.

Empirically, there isn’t a correlation between WBC participation and team performance, at least not one worth exploring. In statistics, the R-squared value measures correlation between two variables, expressed as a value between 0 and 1. In social science, anything above 0.5 means you’re on to something; anything below 0.1 means you should throw your regression in the trash and go home. The R-squared for number of participants against change in winning percentage is 0.0065.

[MLB] 5 outs short of no-no, Strider still makes history

Spencer Strider’s bid for perfection fell short. But his latest gem served as a reminder of his capability to do something incredible every time he steps on a mound.

Strider flirted with history as he recorded a season-high 13 strikeouts while helping the Braves snap a four-game losing streak with an 11-0 win over the Marlins on Monday night at Truist Park. He bid adieu to a perfect game on an error in the seventh and lost his no-hitter via a bloop single in the eighth.

“That’s a different type of fastball, it’s just different stuff,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “It felt like you were facing the closer there for eight innings.”

[MLB] Long time coming: Cobb gets 2nd shutout, 10-plus years after 1st

Back in 2012, Alex Cobb was a young right-hander who was still attempting to solidify his spot in the Rays’ starting rotation. He feared he’d be sent down to the Minors after enduring a particularly rough start against the Angels, but he rebounded by throwing his first career shutout against the A’s.

Cobb had to wait more than a decade to record his second career shutout, but his timing again worked out well for the Giants, who extended their winning streak to three games by blanking the Cardinals, 4-0, in Monday night’s series opener at Oracle Park.

International News

[thejapantimes] Hawks load up to chase Buffaloes for 2023 Pacific League pennant

While Japan’s successful run through the World Baseball Classic dominated the headlines, Japanese’s baseball’s 12 pro teams were quietly hard at work. When they weren’t sneaking peeks at the screen to keep track of their teammates and friends on the Samurai Japan roster, the players were preparing for a 2023 season that rides in on a wave of WBC-inspired momentum.

The Pacific League will be the first of NPB’s two circuits to play ball this year, as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles open the year at the Fighters’ new ballpark on Thursday, before the rest of NPB begins play on Friday.

[Newsday] Trevor Bauer makes second minor-league start in Japan

Trevor Bauer started Saturday in his second minor-league game in Japan and said he needs to increase his pitch count before he can debut for Yokohama’s DeNA BayStars.

The former Cy Young winner, unsigned by any major league club after claims of domestic violence and sexual assault, joined Yokohama last month on a one-year deal.

Bauer said he doesn’t know when he’ll start for Yokohama. The team, which won its last league title 25 years ago, isn’t saying either.