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SnakePit Round Table: Out with the old, in with the new

Can 2024 live up to the joys of 2023 for the D-backs?

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - January 01, 2023 Photo by Gotham/GC Images

What was your favorite D-backs moment of 2023?

Makakilo: At Chase Field, while a baseball game was being played, between innings Torey left the dugout, looked at the crowd, smiled, and happily raised his hands over his head. But the game was not over. Why did he do that? Did something happen? The answer arrived slowly but hit me like a 4-seam fastball. Because as another game ended, the Diamondbacks clinched a wild card berth into the playoffs. That was my favorite moment, made more amazing because I did not immediately know it. And as the Diamondbacks advanced to the World Series, that moment grew into a milestone in Diamondback history.

Justin: I’ll go a little off the wall, and say Game 1 in the Wildcard Series against the Brewers that I had the pleasure of doing the pxp recap of! I enjoyed having the “honor” to lead off the post season.

ISH95: I’ll go with the fly out to Carroll to send us to the World Series. It was just perfectly poetic that he made that final out, and, well, we went to the World Series!

Steak85: Gurriel building a sandcastle in Milwaukee. It was the sort of pure, unbridled fun that has been in short supply for many years, if not ever

Jim: I was sitting outside at a bar in Hilton Head with Mrs. SnakePit and the SnakePitette, with a TV behind the SnakePitette’s head and at about a 60-degree angle. Despite the non-optimum viewing conditions, I was watching a procession of Diamondbacks cross the plate in Game 1 of the Division Series, consigning Clayton Kershaw to a post-season ERA of 162.00. I think that’s when I realized there was magic in the air.

What hopes do you have for the team in 2024?

Makakilo: My most joyous hope, a hope filled with my natural optimism, is that the Diamondbacks again reach the World Series. Although I would be happy if the team reaches the playoffs but falls short, my most deeply held and authentic hope is they again reach the World Series!

Spencer: My hope is simple: more wins than 2023.

Justin: Let’s get back to the post season before putting the cart before the horse.

ISH95: Let’s get to the postseason for back to back times for the first time since 2002. I think that’s a good goal

Steak85: I mean, the ultimate hope is a World Series. A more realistic hope would be the development of a solid back of the rotation and a team that simply plays hard and plays well and is fun to watch.

Jim: Building on the previous season, i.e. more than 84 wins. It’s easy to add 20 wins when you start from 52. It’s trickier to add 10 wins when you are below .500. Adding five wins this year would be a good achievement. If we could not “back into the playoffs”™ in 2024 too, that would be nice. But I want the Diamondbacks to prove that we do indeed have a sustainable system for competing.

And what concerns you?

Makakilo: Last season, the Diamondbacks were fortunate to have relatively minor impacts from injury. Because their luck may be less this season, the Diamondbacks should add depth to two injury-prone positions: backup catcher and the bullpen.

Spencer: Injury health was my first instinct as well. So I’ll pivot to young performances. Perdomo may have had his best baseball months to start 2023. Moreno was run into the ground and will be asked to do the same again in 2024. Carroll’s rookie season was historic and will be difficult to replicate (see Jose Rodgriguez 2022-2023). Those three were important to the 2023 success and lesser 2024 production could be a major factor in where the team ends up come October.

Justin: I echo the above sentiments.

ISH95: I think those two cover the biggest concerns. My personal biggest is the young players taking a step back in their second and third seasons.

Steak85: It’s hard to win. The Diamondbacks had some luck last year. They have to compete with a super team. The rotation is thinner than I’d like. A lot is riding on Corbin Carroll and Gabriel Moreno. Can they reprise last year?

Jim: The inevitable sense of let-down after that magic has gone, leading to a post-pennant hangover. The most comparable team might be the 2006 Cardinals who had 83 wins, but won the pennant (and, indeed, the World Series). The following year, they managed only 78 wins and missed out entirely on the playoffs. But it’s not obligatory. The 1997 Indians (86 wins), 2000 Yankees (87) and 2022 Phillies (87) all won their pennants and improved the year afterward.

Can the D-backs realistically compete with the Dodgers? Why or why not?

Makakilo: No and Yes. It’s complicated….

Although I previously wrote that their rotation was not as good as they pretend because it would involve many call-ups from the minors , they have since added Yamamoto to their rotation. Nevertheless, if last season is any indication, their pitchers will experience an above-average rate of injury.

Spencer: On any given day? Yes. Throughout the full year? Only if injury and performance breaks right for Arizona and wrong for LAD. Which luckily, is legitimately possible given our youth and their glass cannons.

Justin: I think we have proven we can go toe to toe with the Dodgers. That said, anything beyond a wildcard birth is probably not realistic.

ISH95: I think we can be really, really annoying. This team played at a 100 win pace for about two months, which would be enough to keep pace. I don’t think that we’re realistically going to win the division, but they’ll know we’re there.

Steak85: Yes. Highly unlikely, of course, but it’s possible. The Diamondbacks led the Dodgers for most of 2018 and a lot of last year. Preseason projections will likely give the Diamondbacks around 2% of a chance to win the division, which is probably about right. But did any projections give them better than a 2% chance to win the pennant last year? Almost anything can happen.

Jim: No, until proven otherwise. While the D-backs have addressed their weaknesses, don’t forget that they finished 2023 sixteen games back of the Dodgers. Who then added the greatest baseball player in the world, and a potential Cy Young winner. In a short series, of course, anything can happen. But over the long grind of 162 games, I don’t see it right now. But cheer up, fans! Jon Heyman assures us that the likely procession will be “good for baseball”!.

What’s your most memorable New Year’s Eve story?

Makakilo: A year ago, I watched fireworks from a high vantage point overlooking Honolulu. There were random fireworks everywhere near and far. The fireworks were elevated and easily visible. They started hours before midnight and continued non-stop past midnight.

I wondered if an alien spacecraft flew by the planet for the first time, whether they would understand it was a celebration. Would they think it was an explosive planet and decide it would be safer to land on the ocean than on the land? Would they think it was a strange war and decide to leave immediately and return in five years?

Spencer: New Years 2018/2019 my friends and I were in Chicago and attended the Navy Pier party. It was a blast and the trip as a whole was a lot of fun.

Justin: As an adult, Ive never really celebrated NYE to be honest. I remember growing up, in Tucson, we would watch the NY celebration and the NY balldrop. We would have shrimp, cheese, Martinellis sparkling cider and stuff like that. My Scottish grandparents lived next door to the house I grew up in. On New Years Day we would do kind of a modified version of the First Footer tradition. My grandparents would bring over shortbread or oatmeal and 5$ or so for us and we would bring something over for them. It signifies good luck and prosperity in the new year.

Jim: On December 31st, 1999, I was in the City of London, as the on-call IT guy for the stockbroking arm of HSBC. There was this little thing called Y2K, which we had literally spent years preparing for and working to avoid. I was watching the TV, braced for disaster as 2000 arrived in New Zealand, then Sydney, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Planes did not fall from the sky. Infrastructure did not collapse. Absolutely nothing of note happened, in fact. By the time midnight arrived in London, I was very drunk and, though this is likely TMI, entirely nekkid.

Do you have a resolution for 2024? Why or why not?

Makakilo: In 2024, I will continue to improve my skill/performance in three areas (one is baseball writing). But my intention is different from a resolution. Resolutions are made to be broken – for example, I resolve to have zero typos in all my artickles and roundtreble answers.

Spencer: I am going to do micro resolutions in 2024. This means I will have 12 resolutions for the year, one every month. They aren’t solidified yet (that’s part of my NYE tradition), but they will include concepts like: no alcohol on work nights, walk my dog at a metro park 3 times a week, keep a well landscaped yard…

Justin: Nothing comes to mind.

Steak85: I don’t typically do resolutions. I’m looking forward to a good year, though.

Jim: Right now, “not drinking alcohol again, like ever” is probably top of my list. I blame Mrs. S for getting me whiskEy with an E in it, instead of the proper stuff. I do want to lose weight, so I’ll likely be giving that a shot. Though this will likely end up taking the Spencer approach and becoming twelve or so separate attempts over the course of 2024!

Happy New Year everybody!