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SnakePit Round Table: Barbenheimer!

The tradeline deadline approaches: which way will Mike Hazen jump?


Tough road trip. What are your takeaways?

Justin: Hopefully we can salvage another win tomorrow (written Saturday evening) and finish 3-6…. Don’t forget we gave up 13 runs in one of the wins…

We see the Cardinals for the next 3, then three against the Rockies mid August and seven against the Padres in mid August. Those are the only series’ remainder of July/August against teams with a current losing record. If we can get through that, I think we will be in good shape for September when the schedule eases up a bit.

James: I feel like the adversity was a bit overdue. With Moreno being run into the ground, Merrill Kelly being on the IL, and the team continuing to run Davies out to start games, it was just a matter of time before they hit a rough patch. Not surprisingly, they hit the rough patch while playing other strong playoff contenders. My biggest takeaway is probably that this patch highlights the lack of depth the team has and illustrates why the contention window was viewed as being a year away instead of this year.

Makakilo: Three takeaways follow:

Winning the away series against the Braves, who have the best record in baseball (63-34), was an uplifting experience. It proved that the offense is ready for the playoffs. Losing the away series against the Blue Jays (54-45) and the Reds (54-46) was disappointing but they are the type of losses that happen during any season, even in a winning season.

The Diamondbacks broke their batting slump with 26 runs scored in the series against the Braves. More specifically their RBIs per PA broke out and their batting with RISP was excellent (see this AZ Snake Pit article scheduled to post Tuesday).

The first two games in the next series against the Reds indicates that some uncertainty remains:

  • They scored 8 runs in the first two games, which is a sign they are past the slump.
  • Their 2 for 12 with RISP fell short of the 12 for 30 in the Braves series, but hopefully that was just a minor bump in the road.
  • Addendum: And in the third game, 1 for 9 with RISP.

DBacksEurope: You win some and you lose some. I probably wouldn’t have said this some months ago because of the Reds’ surge, but these were all tough opponents. It could be that the Reds are where the Diamondbacks were some months ago. Let’s hope the Snakes avoid a sweep in Cincinnati.

Spencer: Exactly what we’ve all known for a year. Arizona has a flawed team that is exciting to watch. I remain in the boat of letting the youth play even if it means fewer wins than 2022. That experience is more valuable than a poorly planned push for the 2023 postseason. Lucky for us as fans, both are possible together!

ISH95: Well it sure was a thing that happened. I don’t think it tells us much, beyond it was a very bad road trip. Division winners don’t tend to have road trips like this, but WC contenders do, and realistically that’s what we’ve been all along, as fun as the stay at the top was. Still think with a little luck, we can make a run at the division, though. The Dodgers are still weaker than they’ve been since… Pre-Mannywood? At least since McCourt sold

Sam: This road trip was always looking to be a pain, especially once the Reds got good. Still, I was hoping they’d just go 4-5; 2-7 is a bit of a gut punch. And for both of those wins to come against the Braves? YCPB.

Dano: I’m with James on this, though it seems like broadly we mostly agree on this. It;s a bummer, Diamondbacks baseball has not been fun to watch for me since before the All Star Break, honestly, but let’s face it, we’re not there yet, and pretty much all of us knew that going into 2023. Like Spencer says, let the rookies play. And who knows, maybe we get hot again down the stretch and turn the NL West back into a real race. And we’re still chasing a Wild Card berth, so we may get some October baseball a year (at least) earlier than we might have expected. That would be fun.

Steven: It just shows you how difficult it is to play at a consistent level all year long. For all the little things this team did early on in the year - the timely clutch hitting and stringing together hits especially - we’re no longer that team. And with the pitching staff falling apart at the seams, maybe it’s best to regroup, evaluate your young guys as a fringe contender and finish the season where it ends up.

The trade deadline is getting closer. If you were GM how would you approach it? Stand pat, cautiously, or all-in?

Justin: I am torn between being cautious buyers and standing pat. I think what we have done this year is, obviously, great but I think that we should revisit the rotation in the offseason. This is a “learning to be winners” year for our younger guys. Carroll, etc will have a year of competitiveness under their belt. I do not want to give up anyone right now, just to stumble into the 3rd wildcard.

James: I’d approach it cautiously, leaning towards standing pat. The team has too many holes to address purely through the mid-season trade market. While I would like to see enough improvement to secure a playoff berth this season, I’m not willing to sacrifice the next four seasons to get there. With the new playoff format, there really isn’t a viable trade market for AZ to explore making deals in.

Makakilo: Part of being a GM is to take required action without being afraid of making mistakes. Therefore I’m going to aggressively pursue a trade. Three points:

  • I’d rather stand pat than give up prospects to acquire a below-average starting pitcher who usually pitches less than 5 innings – so my only trade deadline options require me to be aggressive or all-in.
  • I’m all-in on any trade that improves starting pitching this season AND future seasons.
  • I’m cautiously aggressive in any trade to acquire a starting pitcher who becomes a free-agent next season.

Always have a plan B. As GM, my plan B is to acquire a power hitter to drive in runs. I assign my most junior assistant to lay the groundwork for a quick and affordable trade if my aggressive effort to acquire an acceptable starting pitcher fails. Who knows, maybe I’ll execute my plan A and my plan B.

DBacksEurope: Mike Hazen can’t stay pat this time. The Diamondbacks are a wild card contender and also still contend for the division. While it probably wasn’t the idea to be this competitive this season, you have to take advantage of the position. Like Makakilo, I am not in favour of adding a rental. We’d have to look at a pitcher for both this and next season, because the rotation is very weak this year and next year. The Diamondbacks have enough talent in the organisation that allows them to add a pitcher for the future too. That, to me, is a cautious approach. A rental would be an aggressive move and to add one of the rentals you’ll have to be aggressive this year because there are probably not many available and it seems many teams are looking for starting pitching.

Spencer: If I were GM, I’d consider selling high on a few pieces that aren’t part of the long term contender. But Hazen is smarter than I am. I expect him to make a move none of us expect for long term viability and then a few others that lean heavily into either the seller/buyer categories more neatly. Overall though, I still think buying a rental starter and bat will give a confidence boost to the young team that they desperately need right now.

ISH95: I think he’s going to approach it the same way he always does. Sell players that he can get a good return for and trade for players that he can get for a decent value with years of control if at all possible. As this malaise continues, the desire for rentals decreases.

Sam: Stand pat. They don’t have many rental players to trade – Gurriel comes to mind, but he’s slumping currently. And we all don’t want them to blow up the farm system for a short-term piece. Maybe you make a small trade here or there to show you’re trying, but mostly you bank on the future.

Dano: Standing pat seems increasingly like the way to go. We don’t have any short-term/rental contracts that are attached to any players that anyone else would want, and I really don’t want us to trade from our MLB-ready or nearly MLB-ready prospect pool for a rental of our own. I like what Mak and DBE are saying about trying to get a quality player who isn’t just a free agent at the end of the year, especially to shore up the starting pitching, but I’m not sure that’s attainable at a price that I’d feel comfortable with us paying.

Steven: I would sell. I don’t believe this team has the pitching depth to contend throughout the rest of the year, let alone win a playoff series. Even Gallen, the one arm you can actually depend on, has struggled to be the stopper this team needs in July. Imagine the haul you could get by trading Gallen.

Predict what area(s) of the team Mike Hazen will move to fix.

Justin: Well, we definitely need SPs not named Merrill Kelly or Zac Gallen…

James: I think the market is likely to drive the Diamondbacks away for the most part. However, with so many mediocre relief arms out there who would still be an upgrade for Arizona, I would not be shocked to see one, maybe even two relievers added at the deadline. Hopefully, this time around will work out better than Jake Diekman did. Diekman was a perfectly legit target and was actually sort of a low-key steal. Then he blew up in AZ before getting good again after leaving.

I just don’t see AZ having the trade chips to land a starter.

Makakilo: Starting pitching.

DBacksEurope: He has to add starting and relief pitching but it is probably the wise move to focus on a starting pitcher only.

Spencer: We need a starting pitcher like Montgomery from St Louis and another bat to fit somewhere as yet to be determined (both because I don’t know where he goes, but also I don’t know who from the big league club will be traded to make room).

ISH95: I think we see at least an attempt to trade for a starter, though if Gambo’s report that the negotiations for Giolito start at Pfaadt might put and end to that. Other than that, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if he makes one unexpected upgrade to the offense. He is very unpredictable.

Spencer: Unpredictable is the perfect adjective for his tenure in Arizona.

Sam: Decent bullpen arms trade hands every July, and there seem to be more of those out there than starters. So I have an easier time seeing him trade for a reliever. And we’ll get a dose of “getting Merrill Kelly back is like trading for a starter” when he returns.

Dano: While starting pitching is what I’d hope for, I think James is likely right, and we don’t have the trade chips to swing a deal for a quality SP. So likely it will be relief arms–not great ones, but maybe better than what we have on hand right now. Given how the bullpen has disappointed especially during this last road trip, I would be happy to see some new faces that I could come to hate and fear (or, perhaps, cheer) when they take the mound.

Steven: I’d work around the fringes, grabbing underperforming innings eaters like Jordan Lyles, Lance Lynn, and Johan Oviedo. Guys that could improve when you put our defense behind them. Gurriel can’t play everyday anymore, so I’d try and get a more dependable RHB OF, like Adam Duvall or Andrew McCutchen. If I was feeling especially frisky I’d try and buy low on a slumping 3rd baseman like Ke’Bryan Hayes. Otherwise, you need to address the bullpen in some way, if not you’d be egged everywhere in public.

What prospects would you give up for Shohei Ohtani?

Justin: None, because I am not doing that for a two month rental.

James: Unless we are negotiating an extension before completing the trade, I’m not even interested.

Makakilo: Although I’ll listen to offers, I do not pursue Ohtani because the chances of winning his (likely insane) bidding war are small. I can’t afford the distraction because I really need to execute a trade to add a starting pitcher.

DBacksEurope: From a Snakes’ point of view it isn’t happening but if I were a GM of a team like the Dodgers, I’d make a move on Ohtani. The Dodgers will be one of the teams that’ll enter the Ohtani free agent bidding war so what is it worth to add him to your WS quest this year, improve at the same time both hitting and pitching, and get the exclusive right of 3 months negotiating an extension? That is probably worth a lot of prospects. And if he signs the extension, the trade you made will always have been a steal. Say the Diamondbacks are a team like the Dodgers, I have no troubles in trading away a kid like Druw Jones and other Top 30 prospects. You are not trading for just one player, you are trading for two HOF-performances on both sides of the ball.

Spencer: They can have Seth Beer and Tyler Gilbert. I go no further for a rental who absolutely wants to test the water. Ohtani in a trade matches my desires perfectly. But he’d destroy everything I love about Hazen’s influence on this team. If they can somehow pull a miracle and sign him in the winter, DO IT. But do not trade any notable talent for him. Let 2023 ride.

ISH95: No.

Sam: The extension-trade combo possibility is also the only case where I’d explore it, but I also can’t see Ohtani taking that. He will want the full free agent bidding war. And I do want Ken Kendrick to open his checkbook for that – “spend dollars, not prospects” seems like a good mantra to have going forward.

Dano: None, and honestly, I think most teams would be stupid to make a play for him. Maybe FTD, maybe the Yankees–it would have to be a team that could afford the deeply stupid contract he’s going to be wanting (and getting) once the season is over. That ain’t us.

Steven: Once you told Kendrick the price of an extension he’d start looking at his baseball cards again.

Where do Corbin Carroll and Zac Gallen stand in the Rookie and Cy Young race?

Justin: Corbin is a lock and Gallen will be in contention until the end, but won’t make it. Gallen currently leads the NL in WHIP and is tied for first in wins. Third most strikeouts, 7th in H/9 and ERA, and 10th in pitcher WAR.

James: Carroll is still the clear-cut front-runner for Rookie of the Year. As long as he stays healthy and marginally productive the rest of the way, he should run away with the award, though it won’t be unanimous. Gallen will get some down-ballot votes. He might even finish in the top-5 in Cy Young Award points. The only way I can see him winning it though, is for Arizona to win the NL west and for Gallen to have another one of his long scoreless streaks be the impetus for AZ winning the division.

Makakilo: Jack Sommers wrote an excellent article that explained why Corbin Carroll has locked up the rookie-of-the-year award. I’ll just add that his Baseball Reference page has 27 leaderboards, awards, and honors.

Addendum: And on Sunday, Corbin Carroll’s 2-run, 446-foot, homer was impressive.

The Cy Young appears to be a two way race between Zac Gallen and Spencer Strider. My view is that one statistic is most important - Win Probability Added (WPA). Zac Gallen is my pick because his WPA is much better than Spencer Strider (1.977 vs 0.605). A few other comparisons follow:

  • ERA: Gallen is better (3.18 vs 3.78).
  • FIP: Strider is better (2.88 vs 3.03).
  • HR per 9 Innings: Gallen is better (0.8 vs 1.2).
  • SO/BB: Strider is better (5.40 vs 5.19).
  • Total Strikeouts: Strider is better (189 vs 135).

DBacksEurope: Both on track, but the Diamondbacks are no longer in division lead so that hurts Gallen’s chances. His All Star start does show his performance is acknowledged.

Spencer: Carroll should be the favorite. Both currently and in 2 months when the votes are cast. Gallen I’m less sure of. He and Strider certainly have to be the favorites right now, but for some reason the 2015 Arrieta situation keeps coming to mind when I think about Cy Young. I wonder if we’re in for another unbelievable second half from someone like Urias or Keller (PIT) who snags the award last minute.

Justin: Oh good, I mentioned Jack’s article in my Snakebytes this morning, and had decided to post the link here. Good to see it already has been. Thanks Mak! Lol.

ISH95: If Carroll doesn’t win, we march on MLB HQ in New York. I don’t think the Dbacks have to win the NL West for Gallen, necessarily, but I think they closer they are a week from the end of the season the more likely it becomes.

Sam: As others have mentioned, Carroll is in pole position for ROY and Gallen is in the mix for Cy Young. A lot can change! Gallen could go on another scoreless inning like he’s done twice in the last calendar year. And, God forbid, Carroll could get injured and miss the last two months of the year. We know we’ve seen it.

Dano: Barring unforeseen catastrophes, per Sam, yeah, I think Carroll is a lock for ROY. Gallen’s Cy Young contention feels to me like it’s fading, and has been since this year’s consecutive scoreless innings streak came to an end. I hope he gets there eventually, but I don’t think it’s at all likely that he gets there in 2023.

Steven: Corbin could have surgery on his shoulder today and still win the award, he’s been that good. Gallen has struggled to pitch to his standards and I think Strider wins 20 games satiating those ‘old man yells at cloud’ voters. All Gallen needs is one of his scoreless pitching appearances and he’ll be right back in as the frontrunner.

Barbie or Oppenheimer, and why?

Justin: I have seen neither, and don’t plan on it, but since I am a history buff I suppose Oppenheimer would interest me more. Not my historical “specialty,” however.

James: Probably Oppenheimer. I’m not big into the culture that the Barbie movie was developed for. Also, the cast of Oppenheimer is more my speed.

Makakilo: Oppenheimer. It’s a movie with depth and meaning, on a personal level and on a global level. It has real-world complexity and nuances that Barbie lacks.

DBacksEurope: I am not so sure about that, Makakilo, I have read a pretty good Barbie review…but then I saw the trailer and it was positioned differently. But in general I am more curious about what Barbie has to offer and it is a much more entertaining subject than that about a man who has been the inventor of death and has helped destroy the lives of thousands of innocent people. Ever since, nasty countries, from time to time, love to threaten each other to wipe out the earth with Oppenheimer’s legacy. Nah, I’ll take Barbie any time over Oppenheimer. But I won’t see either one of them in the cinema nor on a streaming platform. By the way, the paper I read rated Oppenheimer better than Barbie: 4 vs 5 out of 5. So maybe you’d have to ignore my comment altogether lol

Spencer: I’ve only seen Oppenheimer so far. I plan to see Barbie in theatres at some point. But to DBE’s points about Oppenheimer, that’s precisely why you go see it. It’s NOT about the bomb. It’s 100% a deep dive character piece about the man J Robert Oppenheimer and his actual legacy. It is not only exquisitely created as a film, but funny, astounding, breathtaking, and impactful in meaningful ways. I expect to adore Barbie for very different reasons. And I expect Barbie to gross more money at the box office. But for me, Oppenheimer represents the best Blockbuster Cinema has been in a LONG time. If you’ve seen a trailer, you know what to expect (like every movie nowadays…). But man oh man you have no idea what to actually expect.

ISH95: To make it an either/or situation is fallacious at best. From what I’ve heard, Oppenheimer is a deep, thought provoking look at the horrors that mankind can unleash upon each other, while Barbie is a sneaky look at current day societal issues that we all, but specifically women, face on a day-to-day basis, wrapped up in a shroud of pastels and Valley Girl accents that allow it to get such weighty ideas to the general masses. Watch them both, enjoy them both, appreciate them both for what they are.

Sam: Oppenheimer. I’m both a scientist concerned about existential risk and a Christopher Nolan fan, so it’s right up my lane.

Dano: Probably neither, since I don’t do movies in theaters anymore, and honestly I don’t miss it. But when they start cropping up on late-night cable, I would certainly watch either one. My gut preference would be for Oppenheimer, but ISH makes a good point regarding the subtext of Barbie. Given that I’m going to be starting up again with teaching secondary school kids in a couple of weeks, maybe I should see Barbie first, because no doubt my kiddos will be talking about it. Hmmm.