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SnakePit Round Table: Highs and lows

Yeah, that proved as tough as expected, didn’t it?

Mountaineers on Agentiere Glacier Photo by Icas94 / De Agostini via Getty Images

That series in LA. Anything more to say but, “Yuck”?

James: It was a perfect storm of the Dodgers firing on most, if not all, cylinders and the Diamondbacks hitting the skids after a stretch of solid play. I do firmly believe the Dodgers are a better organization from top to bottom and at pretty much every level in between. I also think that the sort of thrashing Arizona took is not indicative of where the two teams stand. The Diamondbacks are a better team than they performed as.

Justin: Yuck. And…. I actually didn’t watch a single at bat of that series. Because, reasons.

Sam: On top of the yuck, it just makes me more thankful that (a) they only have to play the Dodgers 13 times a year now rather than 19, and (b) they went 5-3 against them back in April.

Makakilo: When the Diamondbacks reach the playoffs as a wild card team, the focus will be on playing excellent baseball. That specific Dodgers series will be a distant memory and easily forgotten.

Spencer: Oh well. Move on. It’s three games in the dog days of August when LA is usually phenomenal and we are…not. It sucks, it wasn’t fun to watch (or recap) but it’s three games against a team we may not see for months now.

DBacksEurope: Our two best pitchers got blinded by the Dodgers, so apart from a “yuck”, it is pretty obvious that we don’t have the material to be a real contender.

ISH95: Kelly and Gallen getting dismantled (and then Gallen getting roughed up again on Sunday) was probably the most demoralizing part of it. Gallen seems to be slowing down as the season goes. Maybe fatigue. The pessimist in me wonders if it’s something else. Or maybe I’m just making up him slowing down in my head lol

Dano: Nope. FTD have been a buzzsaw for the last month or so. “Yuck” will suffice.

Should the team have called up Jordan Lawlar when rosters expanded?

James: No, he needs everyday reps and he needs to not be trying to play third. If he was called up on the first, he would not be getting the playing time he needs to prepare for 2024. If they really, really want to get a brief look at him, they can still swap him with someone (like Pavin Smith) once the AAA season is over.

Justin: No. Personally I think the tabbing Pavin is a last chance before DFA scenario.

Sam: Didn’t he just get called up to AAA? I guess I don’t see him, Ahmed and Perdomo all being on the roster at the same time.

Makakilo: No. With only 70 PAs in AAA, he is not yet ready. In AAA, his .043 Homers per PA and .931 OPS seem good enough, but after the Reno discount is applied (100% of his AAA homers were in home games), he has room to improve.

Spencer: Not to beat the dead horse, but no. He’s getting his taste of AAA so he can use the experience in 2024. If we were in the hunt with a solid 3B instead of SS, maybe you call him up, but he’s got no position on the MLB team and still needs some seasoning at Reno. I look forward to his ascension next season though!

DBacksEurope: No, but calling up Pavin Smith isn’t exactly a statement either.

ISH95: Yes. Move Perdomo to third, put him at SS. If the team is expecting to have him in MLB to start the season, having him in the bigs acclimating will be more beneficial than taking batting practice on the moon (Reno).

Dano: As much fun as it might be to see him up here for the last month of the year, it doesn’t seem like he’s ready for it, and it does seem like AAA still has things to teach him. So no.

Four weeks left. Will the D-backs make the post-season?

James: I think they will. I think the series against the Dodgers, ugly as it was, served as one hell of a wake-up call to the Diamondbacks. They may well only slip in by the skin of their teeth, but I do expect them to at least make the Wild Card round.

Justin: I agree. Looking ahead (after the Baltimore series), other than the Astros the only games against teams with winning records are 7 against the Cubs and 2 against the Giants. They both are contending with us for the 3 spots. The Astros are the last 3 games of the season, so I would hope we have clinched before then, but I doubt it.

Sam: It’s a 50-50 proposition, essentially down to the Dbacks vs. the Giants, with a Cubs collapse or Reds/Marlins surge less likely alternatives. I really hope they do, not because they’re likely to get past the Dodgers or Braves but because a taste of playoffs will be good for their development and make them thirsty for more.

Makakilo: Yes. They are highly talented, they are young and they are constantly improving. Torey Lovullo keeps them focused and mentally strong when they hit the inevitable bumps in the road.

Spencer: Yes. Like James I think we may squeeze in with zero breathing room, but we’ll be in. As for what happens then? I dunno. I hope we do well since I’ll be away from solid internet for the first part of the playoffs this year, and I’d like to see them play. There’s hope considering we’d be playing the NL Central winner, who isn’t exactly the best team in baseball regardless.

DBacksEurope: I don’t know. I thought if they had been able to pick up a Renfroe or Giolito they could have improved the DH and an SP spot, but they were snapped away by teams below the Diamondbacks. The Reds did some pickups that’ll improve their team, so I have to say that the Diamondbacks will need to play top baseball the remaining weeks and they are too much of a jojo-team.

Spencer: Personally I don’t think either one of those players improves this team. Renfroe is fine, but he doesn’t instill more confidence than Gurriel and Pham. And Giolito is a one season wonder. Moore/Lopez sure, but I don’t buy that the other options improve the team…

ISH95: I think they do, but the Cubs and Giants series will be the first round of the playoffs for us. I increasingly think they won’t make it out of the first round if they do make it, however. Especially if they don’t have home field advantage.

Dano: After these last two games against Baltimore, I’m leaning back toward “no.” That said, the last wild-card spot is still anybody’s to grab. We’re more or less holding our position, thanks to the Giants losing every time we lose, and the Marlins and the Reds sort of treading water. Of the next 16 games, 9 are against either the Cubs or the Giants. I’m thinking we’ll know the answer to this question by this time next weekend.

Who will be the MVP for the team in September?

James: Since I try not to give MVP to pitchers unless they are head-and-shoulders above everyone, I’ll go with Gabriel Moreno.

Justin: Ask me in 29 days.

Sam: I’ll guess Marte. He’s this team’s veteran who’s still in his prime.

Makakilo: Which player will be the MVP in the last month of the regular season? In addition to the players previously mentioned, the following are candidates: Corbin Carroll, Zac Gallen, Paul Sewald, Christian Walker, Kevin Ginkel, … Working on narrowing it to one player.

Spencer: I’ll be optimistic and pick one hitter and one pitcher: Lourdes Gurriel has been hitting the ball better and is looking at his last chance to make big money, so the motivation is there. And I’ll pick Mantiply. He must know he’s been a colossal disappointment since his “All Star” first half and is fighting for a 2024 roster spot given just how horrendous he’s been since. If they two of them can work towards their goals while the team doesn’t lose production from the contributors we have now, October baseball could be very exciting (be it 3 games or 25)!

DBacksEurope: I don’t know. I hope Merrill or Gallen or both because that is the only way we make the playoffs.

Makakilo: My previous comment overlooked two players who recently improved. I’m adding them to my candidates.

All-Star Geraldo Perdomo. His wOBA improved 36% from .259 (1-19 Aug) to .351 (20 Aug - 2 Sept). And his 11 sacrifice hits are tied for the most in the Majors (with Maldonado of the AL). Although he is not hitting very many homers, he is making a difference.

Zach Davies. He has been great after his return from the injured list. Opponents’ wOBA against him fell 29% from .403 in July to ,285 (20 Aug - 2 Sept). The Diamondbacks need him in the rotation!

Makakilo: My view is that Zach Davies will make the most impact in September, so he could be the September MVP. My scores for anticipated impact gave 6 players tied for second place, so if Zach Davies falls short, maybe a team MVP would be appropriate.

ISH95: I have a feeling Mak might be right. Davies has made a huge impact in his first two starts, and if he keeps that up, it will be an easy choice.

Dano: Given how Moreno’s been swinging the bat again lately, I’m inclined to back James on this one. But God help me, Mak and ISH might have a point regarding Davies.

What other teams do you want to make the playoffs this year?

James: For the most part, I’m not terribly picky. I don’t want to see the Dodgers there, but they are probably winning 100 games again this season in a “down year”. So, they are going. I will be happy if the AL West sends three to the playoffs. It would be something for Texas and Seattle to make it.

Justin: Toronto, Seattle and Texas in the AL and Cincinnati in the NL

Sam: Given the options, I actually don’t want the teams in a similar stage as the Dbacks to make it — it would give the Dbacks more of a spotlight as the young, up-and-coming newcomer. So I’m rooting against the Reds, Cubs, Rangers and Orioles, but, well, the Orioles are pretty secure in their playoff position, if not their division. It would also be cool to see Seattle win the AL West; I’d be happy to see Rojas and Canzone do well.

So: Seattle / Minnesota / Tampa division winners, Baltimore / Houston / Toronto wildcards in the AL; LA / Milwaukee / Atlanta division winners, Arizona / Philadelphia / SF wildcards in the NL.

Makakilo: Two thoughts:

  • The Giants because it would be great to have 3 playoff teams from the NL West (Dodgers, Giants, and D-backs)
  • The Astros, so that the last series of the Diamondbacks’ season would be between two wild-card teams. The series would have the excitement and joy of an extra playoff series, but without either team being eliminated.

Spencer: I mean…. I want Colorado, Oakland, Kansas City so the Diamondbacks have the easiest possible path to a second trophy. Lol but I was raised a Cubs fan, so seeing them there would be cool. Guardians and Reds are close to me so the atmosphere of them in the playoffs while the OSU season is happening would be amazing. And I like Seattle, so they’d be cool too. Baltimore fans deserve it at this point. I also expect Texas to sort of fall off by 2026, so I’ll be pleased to see their guys get some time in the sun.

Sam: Well, the bad news for that hope is that Oakland and Kansas City have already been mathematically eliminated… and the only possible road for Colorado to make it would be on the back of a month-long winning streak, which wouldn’t make me excited to face them in the playoffs.

DBacksEurope: Phillies, Giants, Toronto, Texas and Yankees, assuming current leaders will qualify as well. If the Diamondbacks don’t make it, I’ll be rooting for the Braves again.

ISH95: I want the Mariners to make it, and if the Dbacks don’t, I want them to win it all. Just let those poor fans have it already.

Dano: Seattle, definitely. I honestly don’t care much about the rest, especially if we might be facing some of them in the wild card.

What’s a small, seemingly insignificant decision you’ve made that ended up having a huge impact on your life?

James: I skipped out on school to go hang with a friend for a day. That’s where and how I met my future wife.

Justin: I started at Frys in 2010 as a bagger. I was promoted to All Purpose Clerk (basically everyone that isn’t a bagger or manager is technically an APC) in 2014 a few months after my grandmother passed. I wish she had lived a few months longer. Anyway, my designation was porter/janitorial. I did that for a couple of years and was randomly asked one day, “Do you want to help bakery for a couple of hours?” I said yes.

Now, 9 years later I’ve been cross trained in bakery since 2016, officially a bakery clerk for 2 years before going back to being a porter February 2022. I am now also crosstrained as a cashier and hopefully crosstrain soon in the online pickup department. Did my saying yes to helping for a couple of hours precipitate my wanting to branch out? I highly doubt I would still be at Frys at this point if I was just a porter/janitor. It would be 9 years of being just a janitor. I do really like being in a more “utility player” role and plugging into different areas.

Makakilo: I know someone who grows pesticide-free figs. They are delicious! I gave one to a zumba classmate, Susan, because she has a pet tortoise (figs are excellent for tortoises). She sliced the fig and her tortoise ate it with gusto. She became a very good friend.

Spencer: I chose to attend a friend’s dad’s guest lecture/class in college. I never went back since I was beyond the scope of his teaching by that point, but he remembered me and my questions and offered me my first post schooling employment. Since then I’ve been granted security clearances, multiple awards for assisting investigations, and have been asked to return to my old school in a similar fashion (although only for single lectures at a time instead of a semester’s worth). If I hadn’t gone that night, I have no idea what career I’d be in today nor which region of the country I’d live in. It’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Sam: After grad school, I went to a sort of bootcamp to help PhDs get jobs in data science, which involved a bunch of companies coming to present their job openings to us, after which we would rank the companies and then be assigned to go present the results of a project that we’d done in the bootcamp to the top five according to some standard matching algorithm. I had some general feelings about which sorts of companies I wanted to work for, but didn’t put a ton of thought into the exact placement.

As it went, I ended up ranking the most popular option 3rd, which was too low to give a demo even though they offered double the slots – it was that popular. Instead, then, I got to demo with my 6th choice, a small startup doing “data science for science”, as I would have put it at the time, that I had felt a bit intimidated by. Fast forward nearly five years and I’m still happily employed there – I actually ended up really thriving in that environment.

DBacksEurope: Mine is similar to James’. I got wasted at a party and the following day had to choose between yet another party or have dinner with a friend of mine who was looking for someone for a double date. Because I was tired as hell I went for dinner and met my wife. This was during the best time of my life, on the Erasmus exchange programme, which is like partying 24x7 if you do it right and you are able to.

ISH95: In 2012, I found out that I needed one more science credit to graduate high school, so I chose a forensic science class the homeschool co-op I went to offered. There I met another student who was in the same situation. Fast forward to today, we’ve been married for six years. :)

Dano: Shortly after I left NYC and returned to Arizona in 2005, I decided, because I was unemployed and bored and living in Prescott temporarily with my mom, that I would drive up to Northern Arizona University and have a chat with the head of their English department about the possibility of randomly taking a graduate-level fiction workshop, mainly so that I would be more motivated to get back to writing fiction. He said “Sure,” so I took the class. I wound up getting my MA from NAU three years later, and went on to get a Ph.D in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi five years after that, and over those eight years I discovered that I liked teaching and was kind of good at it. And teaching English is how I make my living in 2023. Wacky.

Jim: In 1996, I was publishing a fanzine while working in London. I got a subscription request from an American, with a $20 bill in it. As well as just sending them the fanzine, I included a letter. I’m now married to that subscriber and living in Arizona.