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SnakePit Round Table: Hurt

I’d like to stop referencing Nine Inch Nails in our round-table. Any time is fine.

Various Woodstock Concert - 1994 Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images

At the risk of repeating myself: What about those Diamondbacks?

Makakilo. An interesting picture is painted by the stark contrast between their 9-game losing streak and previously leading the NL West for much of the season. What Mike Hazen does to improve the painting (with an eye toward next season) will be very instructive and well worth writing about.

James: I think we are finally seeing the team that a great many expected to see all along. They’ve played some slightly better, more consistent ball of late, but sequencing has not been on their side. The offense seems to be finding its true talent level, the bullpen is still a mess, and the rotation is a work in progress. The Diamondbacks have fallen below .500, but the rough patch should be coming to an end soon and they can then put in the work to get themselves back on pace for 81-85 wins. Sure, there are some tough teams in the mix as well, but with 13 games left against the Rockies, Mets, and White Sox, there is still reason to hope for a decent record at the end of the season. The season’s drive to finishing over .500 likely rests on the team’s performance in the 13 remaining games against the Padres, Cubs, and Giants.

Spencer: They are still there. Feebly kicking from time to time. Sunday morning’s moves are interesting and fine if they have a positive effect. I’m skeptical for meaningful 2023 results from them, but getting Jarvis some MLB experience is a 2024 and beyond maneuver.

Steven: It’s a young team, bottom third in age among all MLB teams that was buoyed by a top-5 offense and a poor pitching staff. Regression came hard, but it was on both sides. At this point I’m just happy to see more young guys get a chance to be MLB players irregardless of how well or poor they do. They have such a fun brand of baseball, I just hope they find and get back to what they were doing.

Dano: Yeah, like James says, the team right now, if one averages out the very good first half and the suckiness since, is closer to where I expected them to be at this point. And as Steven notes, it’s a young team. They will be fine, though as I stated in my recap on Friday night, I no longer believe or expect them to be in the postseason this year. That’s a shame, but, in the bigger picture, it’s fine.

Also, I do like how we seem to have picked ourselves up over the last two games, and closed out close games to get a couple of needed Ws as well as our first series win in a very long time. We’ll be fine.

How are you coping with the team’s performance?

Makakilo: I’m staying strong.

  • By necessity, I will make more distinctions and reach a deeper understanding of the Diamondbacks. The new insights will make me a stronger writer.
  • With joy, I will think about each hint of a turnaround, such as Saturday’s win against the Padres (3-0).
  • I may embrace ideas that may not be inherently true (the Diamondbacks were incredibly unlucky or the Diamondbacks will be better next season because of this season).
  • I certainly realize this level of performance (and the window of contention) is sustainable because the team did not trade away their best prospects. In other words, the Diamondbacks will likely contend again next season.
  • And I will count my blessings by realizing that it could be worse if a few star players had been seriously injured (but luckily they were not).
  • I will be a winner because winning is contagious! Sunday morning, I played in a two hour pickleball tournament. I won all six games, and came in first place with 68 points.

James: Mostly by reminding myself that the team is ahead of schedule and that being a strong playoff contender this season was never a reasonable expectation.

Spencer: I remember 2021 and reaffirm perspective on the season, team and life in general. I’m not a fan for 2023 only. I’m rooting for the Roarin’ Twenties Baby ‘Backs.

Steven: It was a flawed team playing over their heads.

Dano: To be honest, I simply stopped watching this past week, up until I had to recap Friday’s game. We had the game on in the living room yesterday, but didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on it until the very end, when the bullpen got involved. Ramona watched today’s game pretty much in its entirety, but I did not, because I had (and still have) a somewhat lengthy list of things I want to get done before work tomorrow. But I expect I will try to tune in to at least some of the games this week. They’re definitely no longer I-must-watch-tonight’s-game material for me, though, at this point.

Is Torey Lovullo’s job in peril?

Makakilo: No. Two points:

  • Recently I read an article (with an AZ SnakeByte link) that claimed it was. I found no substance in the article. Instead, I found empty phrases without reference to anything that could possibly persuade me.
  • “Yeah, I’m focused on other areas. On July 1 he was the manager of the year, consensus. It’s hard for me a few weeks later to sit here and honestly say everything we were doing was fake and he wasn’t pushing all the right buttons. It’s hard for me to go 180 on that situation.” – Mike Hazen, August 9, 2023

James: Not before the season ends. If the team finishes under .500, I think he’s toast. If they finish in the 81-85 win range, he probably enters 2024 as a lame duck manager. If they somehow get hot and exceed 85 wins, I could see Lovullo getting another 1-2 year extension before the 2024 season starts.

Spencer: No. He has already been extended and Kendrick won’t eat that salary and take egg on the face when he deserves as much credit for the wondrous first half as he does the dismal second half. He’s Opening Day 2024 manager. Whether or not he’s manager on September 1, 2024 or Opening Day 2025… that’s what next season will showcase.

Steven: Kendrick isn’t paying another manager while Torey is under contract. I can 1000% guarantee that.

Dano: Seems unlikely. The team was overperforming expectations for the first few months, now they’ve spend six weeks or so underperforming. Not his fault, I don’t think.

What about Mike Hazen’s?

Makakilo: No. He did a lot of things right to build a team that stayed in first place for most of the season. He acknowledged that it is his job to find out what went wrong and fix it. Because he built the team and has looked for answers every day, he has a better chance than anybody of finding what went wrong and fixing it.

James: I think the answer here is mostly the same as with Lovullo, though he might survive the team limping to an 80-win season and enter 2024 in lame duck status. Outside of that, I think his future and Lovullo’s look fairly similar.

Spencer: Only if he has a better offer on the table and wants out. It’s a hard argument to blame Hazen for the July/August swoon when March-June we saw what his pieces can do. Injuries happen and there haven’t been enough to blame the strength and conditioning coaches. 2023 was a development year with the hope of a playoff berth. It’s right on track. We’d all be EXTREMELY PLEASED if we’d been told this is where we’d be before the season started.

Steven: Same thing applies to Hazen. He’s under contract, and I’m sure expectations have been lowered due to the team’s response at the trade deadline. Every move was made to only affect the next two years.

Dano: The bloom is off the Hazen rose for me at this point, but I hope he doesn’t go at this point. It seems like many of his moves wind up having good effects…?

With playoff hopes all but gone, what do you want from the last 45 games?

Makakilo: I want the team to figure out what went wrong, and fix it. I want the Diamondbacks to win more than half the remaining games. I want their players to keep their mindsets and keep their culture of winning. And what I want is very similar to what I wanted earlier in the season.

James: I still want to see competitive baseball. I don’t want to see the team throwing away games or the team quitting after giving up a big inning. Basically, I want to see them behave and develop better than the PAdres have been of late. Continued development of young talent, especially on the pitching side, and a laser focus on ending the season with the team record over .500.

Spencer: Like James I want competitive baseball. And I want to see a distinct change in philosophy toward getting better and holding underperforming players accountable. We’ve reached the point where there are other options for the first time in Hazen’s era (or frankly the franchise’s entire existence). The drop off is bigger than you’d like but it’s no longer prospects who aren’t ready at all or AAAA guys at 8/9 positions.

Sunday gives me hope in this regard. Which will take a hit when Nelson is replaced by Sanchez instead of Walston or Henry…

Steven: Evaluation time for young players and those with futures on this team. I don’t need to see Nick Ahmed, Longoria, or Gurriel play substantial time. The team might not say they’re out of it, but the spirit we saw early on has been dead for a month now.

Dano: Yeah, competitive baseball, as well as some more evaluation time for young’uns, especially if we’re totally out of the playoff running by this time next month.

Justin: Reading all of the above responses to questions, I realize that I would just be saying I agree with so and so all the time. So I’ll spare you. I just haven’t participated in a couple of weeks. :)

You’ve been offered a job in a desolate location miles from civilization that pays 10x more than what you currently make. Would you move and take the job?

Makakilo: Maybe having a strong purpose in a dream job, and internet interaction with people would prevent loneliness. Also, if the extra pay would allow retirement in four years instead of 40 years, the pain would be relatively short compared to the reward of retiring early. However, there are always hidden costs, such as opportunities lost and damage to your personality.

On the other hand, for people who are already happily retired, new questions arise. Would the extra money change your happiness? Is it presumptuous to assume how many years you have left to live?

James: Don’t threaten me with a good time.

Spencer: Depends on the job. In my particular line of work? Hell yes easy decision so long as I get internet access so I can still help communities that need me when appropriate. Take that aspect away and the job would have to change and I’m more inclined to say no.

Dano: As long as the desolate location isn’t in the southeast of the United States, down there below the Mason-Dixon line, sure. Provided Ramona can come along and gets offered the same deal, provided there’s adequate internet, and provides we can bring the cats.

Justin: As long as I have internet access, streaming services and also can keep in touch with my friends and family here in Marana/Tucson. I would still be a Dbacks and Coyotes fan. (in a weird way, I kind of “hope’ the Coyotes relocate, since I would not be blacked out of the new franchises games by….)