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Diamondbacks Gameday Thread, #83: 6/30 @ Angels

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Today's Lineups

Geraldo Perdomo - SS Taylor Ward - LF
Ketel Marte - 2B Shohei Ohtani - DH
Lourdes Gurriel - DH Mike Trout - CF
Christian Walker - 1B Anthony Rendon - 3B
Evan Longoria - 3B Mike Moustakas - 1B
Dominic Fletcher - LF Hunter Renfroe - RF
Alek Thomas - CF Eduardo Escobar - 2B
Carson Kelly - C Chad Wallach - C
Jake McCarthy - RF David Fletcher - SS
Tommy Henry - LHP Griffin Canning - RHP

Tonight’s game is on Apple TV only. I’ll see you in the recap.

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Recalled OF Dominic Fletcher and OF Kyle Lewis from Triple-A Reno.
  • Optioned RHP Brandon Pfaadt and OF/INF Pavin Smith to Reno following yesterday’s game.

It’s a lot harder than it used to be, to be a major-league ballplayer who sucks. There was a time when you didn’t have to be very good, by MLB standards, in order to have a lengthy career in the majors. Take somebody like utility infielder Chris Gomez, for example. He enjoyed 16 years in the majors, from 1993 through 2008. Sure, he was nomadic, playing for eight teams in that time. Still, he averaged a salary slightly more than a million dollars per season, and played 95 games a year. But over the course of those sixteen campaigns, he was worse than replacement level, totaling -1.4 bWAR. It took him SEVEN YEARS before he got round to producing in positive territory., at the age of 28.

Nowadays, the harsh light of sabermetrics makes it tougher for someone like Gomez to skate through and appear in 1,500+ games without doing much. Of all the MLB players to appear in 2023. only three have even 500 career games and are below replacement level. Dominic Smith (523 games, -0.1 bWAR), Hunter Dozier (594, -2.7) and Austin Hedges (655, -0.9). Also present in the top ten active sub-replacement level players, is none other than the Diamondbacks’ Pavin Smith. His 0-for-4 yesterday dropped his career value to -0.3 bWAR across 293 games. Two players in team history have played more and also been below replacement: Yasmany Yomas (309, -2.5) and Danny Bautista (456, -0.4).

In both other cases, there were somewhat extenuating circumstances. Tomas was a sunk cost, but even that wasn’t enough to stop him from getting only 6 PA in the majors over the final three years of his contract, while earning $46 million. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Bautista, like Gomez, played in a more tolerant era. He had a 12-year career covering 895 games and made $12 million - but had a best season of just 0.7 bWAR and was worth -0.4 overall. Like Tony Womack, he maybe rode clutchiness to more playing time than deserved. Bautista hit .583 with seven RBI in the 2001 World Series, which quite possibly got him work in 2003 + 2004, thoroughly unwarranted by overall production.

The above, I should point out, was written entirely before the news that Smith has been optioned down to Triple-A. That is, of course, where he started the season, until Kyle Lewis went on the Mysteriously Ill List. Seven weeks later he came back, and since then has hit .308 with a .950 OPS. Even taking Reno into account, that would still likely have been an improvement over Smith’s MLB numbers over the same time: .136 with a .526 OPS. His last hit was almost two weeks ago, on June 17, and he’s 0-for-16 since. With off-days, the team won’t need a fifth starter until next weekend, so Pfaadt’s spot is used for now to provide outfield depth, while Corbin Carroll gets encased in bubble-wrap.