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SnakePit Round Table: Lumps and bumps

The D-backs fell back to earth like a crashed UFO this week...

FOX’s “The X-Files” UFO Sighting And Premiere Episode Screening Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

A rougher week for the D-backs. What are your takeaways from it?

Justin: Stuff happens. I loved watching and recapping the 8th and 9th innings last Sunday, though!

ISH95: This is a young, flawed team that is succeeding despite those flaws. It didn’t really teach me, at least, anything that we didn’t already know. We need back of the rotation pitching. We need a big bat. And we need the rookies to mature really quick. Still in first place, though, and every day we stay there is a win this season.

Makakilo: Two takeaways from the Phillies series follow:

  • One game the starter left with a tied game; in the other three games he left with the Diamondbacks behind. Yes, the Diamondbacks are the “Answer Backs” but three out of four was too much.
  • The bullpen was slammed. The bullpen’s pitch count on game day plus the two previous days was 200 pitches for game one, 243 pitches for game two, 246 pitches for game three, and 231 pitches for game four. I tip my hat to samath for his official AZ Snake Pit table of bullpen pitches thrown.

To address these two takeaways, the Diamondbacks need to acquire a starting pitcher. More details follow in answers to the fourth question of this roundtable.

Sam: Thanks for the h/t Makakilo, although you don’t see the starting pitcher’s pitches in that table so you still had to supplement that from elsewhere. In any case, we had an awful pass through the rotation. I’ll use this opportunity to shamelessly plug my latest table, where I categorize starts by game score into Abysmal (<30), Bad (30’s), Poor (40’s), Acceptable (50’s), Good (60’s) and Excellent (70+). As you’d expect, the team’s record in each category is better than the one before it, from a 2-7 record in Abysmal starts to sparkling 14-2 and 7-0 records in Good and Excellent starts.

The last completed cycle through the rotation (June 11-15), they received 2 Abysmal, 2 Bad, and only 1 Acceptable start (by Merrill Kelly, of course), by far the worst 5-game stretch of our starters this season. They’d never even had three Bad or Abysmal starts in any 5-game stretch, let alone four.

Luckily, the offense was able to rally in the 9th inning of the finale in Detroit to get Gallen off the hook, and put up just enough runs in the opener against the Phillies to win despite Henry’s poor showing, but they also weren’t able to convert Kelly’s acceptable start into a win, losing in extra innings.

And thankfully, the rotation has bounced back against the Guardians and their putrid offense, putting up Good (Gallen) and Acceptable (Henry) starts in the first two games. EDIT: That’s where the good news ended, as Davies then turned in the worst start of the season with a game score of 10. The previous worst had been MadBum’s last start with 15.

James:The rougher week just goes to show how fickle the game’s outcome can be. One little squibber at the right time can completely change a game. Also, it highlighted the fact that Arizona is still in need of more depth, pretty much across the board. The pitching is starting to look a bit fatigued, which is to be expected with the suspect bullpen and only three or four reliable starters. Hopefully the return of Carson Kelly helps Moreno behind the plate, who has been run ragged of late. The trade deadline is going to be interesting.

Wesley: We clearly could use a middle of the rotation starter and more pitching depth. I’m in complete agreement with James, this will be an interesting deadline.

Pavin Smith. Why?

Justin: Certain pictures.

ISH95: I’m inclined to agree with Justin. Barring that, though, it just seems to be a reluctance to admit failure.

Makakilo: Maximize his value in a trade acquisition.

Sam: When putting together lineups, Torey seems to have two biases that take him away from what seems to us to be more optimal play: Getting the handedness matchups right, and only putting certain guys at leadoff, explaining that it takes a certain mindset. Pavin Smith bats left-handed, which gets him more playing time as a majority of starters we face are right-handed, and Torey judges him to have the ineffable “leadoff” trait.

James: Because Mike Hazen is still convinced that Smith is a capable MLB hitter.. Also, Smith has the ability to draw walks and work counts, leading to a higher OBP and more pitches seen by the bench. These are all good traits for a leadoff hitter. Unfortunately, Smith is terrible in the OF and is inconsistent at the plate. Smith’s patience and willingness to take walks continues to get him opportunities that others might not get. I suspect that has to do with his draft pedigree and being Hazen’s first selection as GM. If Thomas’ tweaks continue to provide better results in Reno, I expect him to eventually supplant Smith.

Wesley: Honestly, I have no clue. He’s worth -3.7 Offense, -7.2 Defense and has contributed a whopping -.4 WAR. He’s overall been a negative. As far as building up his value for a trade goes, that ship sailed in 2019, when he was called up for the first time. Hopefully Alek Thomas continues to turn the corner in Reno, and replaces Pavin on the roster before too longer

Should Scott McGough be closing games regularly?

Justin: I like Castro, but when we signed McGough I assumed he would have first crack at the closers job. I also didn’t think we would be 42-28 on June 17th, soooo

ISH95: Closer by committee seems to be working for through the first two and a half months, so I’m inclined to stick with it. Plus not having him be The Closer allows them to put him in where the game will actually be saved, rather than up three runs in the ninth.

Sam: I’m also actually reasonably happy with the committee, and I’m happy for him to be in it along with Chafin and Castro. It helps Torey manage workloads so the Closer doesn’t HAVE to pitch every night if we’re frequently ahead by a bit. We also know Torey loves to play the lefty/righty matchups with which inning to bring Chafin in. I’m not sure what it would be, but the analytics team can probably spot the players they expect to perform worse against Castro or McGough and judge similarly.

James: This team is winning games with closer by committee. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If the team is going to move towards a dedicated closer, I would rather it be someone who is already established or someone who steps up and makes the decision an easy one by being lights out as a reliever. I feel they have some internal options for the latter, but they are more likely to turn to the former at the deadline.

Makakilo: Closer by committee is great because it allows advantageous matchups. Scott McGough’s pitching in June is awesome! Three stats follow:

Wesley: I’m hard pressed to find a reason to disagree with everyone else, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

What is the solution for the back of the D-backs rotation?

Justin: I think we need to pick someone up at the deadline. Who we should trade away and who we should bring in. I’ll let James and everyone else answer because I don’t know.

ISH95: Pavin Smith for Clayton Kershaw + cash.

They have to make some sort of trade. I think the pitching version of the JD Martinez deal is in order. What that looks like, I’m not sure, but then again in June 2017 I would never have thought to trade for Martinez either.

Sam: I’m fine with a trade, but the future is in these starting pitching prospects, and I think they’ll continue to improve. Like the closer by committee, I like how Nelson/Henry/Pfaadt/Jameson have had the chance to compete for those spots, letting them send the poorest performer down to Reno to work on stuff.

I’m just mainly highly skeptical that they can get Corbin Burnes or whoever else for anything resembling a reasonable price. Jim Bowden wrote in the Athletic about each team’s biggest needs they could fulfill at the trade deadline, and while the worst teams are looking for years rather than talent at this point, it’s still striking that he estimates that 17 of the 30 teams are looking for starting pitching. That’s the definition of a seller’s market, and means the price for any that are put out there will be sky high.

James: They probably need to trade for a replacement for Davies, finding someone else that can actually eat some innings. The problem is, there are simply too many teams in the thick of the playoff hunt now and every one of them is in need of pitching. There aren’t enough teams looking to sell that have pitchers worth taking a run at for Arizona to have any great expectation of finding hope via trade. I wouldn’t mind seeing them take a run at someone like the Cardinals’ Zack Thompson, but I doubt he’s available or will come at a price Arizona can reasonably afford. Since Arizona needs to avoid blowing up the farm just to land a short-term pitcher for a playoff run, I hope that the front office is cautious and deliberate with the decision and, if they cannot find the right deal at the right price, I’d rather see them move on with what they have in the system already.

Makakilo: The solution is to acquire an above-average starting pitcher. An acquired starting pitcher will add wins in two ways - allow less runs and keep the bullpen fresh and at their best. An ideal acquisition completes the sixth inning in at least half his starts, with an ERA/FIP/xFIP better than 4.28 (4.28 is average ERA in the Majors). For details see this AZ Snake Pit article scheduled to post Tuesday.

Wesley: As much as I’d love for us to acquire a front line starting pitcher, I think this team is better served working towards sustainable long term success. If we could acquire a pitcher who’s under control for another season or two, I’d be inclined to suggest making a move. It’s a seller’s market and it’s going to cost a lot to make a significant enough upgrade.

The A’s reverse boycott. Meaningless statement or effective protest?

Justin: I like it and get where they are coming from, but I am going with meaningless statement. That said, it actually rivals the Winnipeg Jets 1.0 before relocating. The fans supported their team until the bitter end. The Hartford Whalers fans did as well.

As a fan of a team that might very well relocate, and almost did 13 years ago, I feel empathy for the A’s fans. I am choosing my words carefully because I know that there are those here that feel the team in question should never have been here in the first place. I have never hid behind the fact that hockey was always my first sport.

ISH95: A valiant, last stand. It was never going to work. Manfred and Co have been salivating at the chance to send a team to Vegas for years, and the A’s are convenient. It was an admirable effort though.

Sam: Quixotic but inspiring. One side comment: With all the bad blood between Fisher, the city and state governments, Manfred, and the fans, I see not nearly enough ire directed at another entity that played a big role in this catastrophe: the San Francisco Giants. The A’s moving from the East Bay to the South Bay was imminently reasonable and would have accounted for the population growth since those teams moved West in the first place. But the Giants wouldn’t budge an inch on their completely unfair split of the “territory” of the Bay Area with the A’s, and now they’re getting rewarded for it with the entire Bay to themselves. Makes me sick, and not just as a fan of a division rival.

James: While it makes a statement and is getting coverage from national media, I believe it to be mostly meaningless. Nothing done at this point is going to change the amount of bad blood between Fisher and the city of Oakland. While Fisher is indeed a horrible owner, it isn’t like the A’s have been entirely unreasonable in this process. MLB and the Giants stopped their first move that was planned and funded years ago. Howard Terminal was an amazing, ambitious project that a loud, vocal minority was able to get scrapped over mostly pointless crossing of T’s and dotting of I’s. Sure, it would have been nice if Fisher had spent the money to keep Oakland competitive. It would have been nice if the organization did not tighten up the purse strings all around, spending the minimum they possibly could to keep the team “viable”. But, until the team gets settled into a new home, one wit long-term potential that the purse is going to open again.

Makakilo: In June, the A’s average attendance at home games (including the 27,759 attendance at the reverse boycott game) was about half of the Diamondback attendance (12,482 vs 24,744). The very low average attendance makes the statement meaningless.

Arguably, the condition of the A’s Coliseum (completed in 1966) is worse than the Diamondbacks’ stadium. The Coliseum hosted football games starting in 1966 and baseball games starting in 1968. Although a new stadium would likely increase attendance, perhaps attendance would be higher in Las Vegas.

In 2019, the A’s agreed to purchase half interest in their Coliseum for $85 million and have paid about $40 Million so far. When they move to Las Vegas, the A’s will retain half interest in the Coliseum.

The A’s focused on negotiating the Howard Terminal location since 2018. With no agreement in sight, five years of negotiation is a very long time. At some point the A’s started a parallel negotiation with Las Vegas, which progressed much faster.

What’s up with those claims the US has recovered UFOs?

Wesley: Short answer: If this is true this is the biggest scandal in history ever. Possibly bigger than all previous scandals COMBINED. I’m patiently waiting for more information comes out, if it ever does.

Long answer: That’s one hell of a can of worms to get into. Any detailed response i give in support of this is likely going to make me come across as a crackpot, and I think that sums up how they’ve kept a lid on this; they’ve made it impossible to discuss topics like this without being the subject of ridicule. I’ve always maintained that the best solution to Fermi’s paradox is that there is NO paradox, and that the evidence is just being suppressed.

I have had multiple experiences with UFOs that defy conventional explanations. I have experience flying small aircraft, I’ve been an aerospace enthusiast for 30+ years, and the kind of behavior displayed by these objects is not only beyond our technological capabilities, but beyond our understanding of physics.

At the very least, we know they didn’t tell Donald Trump about it, since he would have told the world already. The real question to me are how long has the government had these objects??? If I had to guess, based on the rapid technological advancement of the last 80 or so years, it happened during or shortly after WWII. I have a lot of other questions regarding this too.

To address Justin’s response below, if these are of extraterrestrial origin, we must be the equivalent of ants or microorganisms to them, or this planet is “off limits” in a way similar to a nature reserve.

Justin: Somewhere or other I saw a thing that was basically, if there are aliens with the capability to visit us across space, they are more than likely to be more advanced than us. Do we really want a visit? Looking at history, the less technologically advanced civilizations don’t generally fare too well once invaded by a more advanced civilization.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully think that there are aliens and that we aren’t alone. It just might be extremely rare to get to this point. I think finding bacteria or microbes on Mars or Europa or a distant planet or something would be an amazing discovery in and of itself.

My Scottish grandfather, then in Canada, worked on the Avro Arrow and Avrocar projects.

Sam: I learned a long time ago to stop caring what other people believe about things that don’t really matter. Part of me does really want everyone to believe true things, but until those beliefs actually start to affect their actions (beyond reading more random things on the internet, which is what you’re already doing right now), it’s not really worthwhile to try to debate them.

James: Do I believe that there is some form of life of some sort somewhere else in the vast universe? Yes, I do. I think the universe is vast enough with enough permutations of the variables that somewhere along the way, life of some sort has spawned. Do I think that there is actually intelligent life out there which has sent out spacecraft, at least one of which has been seen here or perhaps even captured here? No.I think it highly unlikely that mankind ever finds intelligent life in the universe simply because of the aforementioned vastness of space and the associated laws of physics.

Makakilo: Whistleblowers are often paid money for what they reveal. That fact, along with claims he was being retaliated against, explain why Grusch made claims with “no firsthand knowledge.” He claimed the government has a program that has recovered non-human “vehicles.” The source of his information was talking to “senior, former intelligence officers”, some of whom gave him “documents and other proof.”

Perhaps he will write a book in the humorous adventure style of Raymond Szymanski, who wrote Fifty Shades of Greys.

Wesley: I spent some time researching this further last night, seeing exactly what was said. The fact that academics and politicians are taking this seriously tells me that maybe we should be taking this A LOT more seriously! I honestly don’t know what to think. I highly suggest you all dig deeper into this, because… against all odds, this might be the real thing.

An interesting wrinkle is these “Non-Human Intelligences” may NOT be extra terrestrial, but extradimensional, or extratemporal instead. That’s a lot to wrap your head around