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Behind Enemy Lines: Talking surprise division leads and forgotten teams with AZ Snake Pit

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No matter how many times I ask, they won’t trade Jake Lamb.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

There are some teams we don’t get to cover all that often, simply because they don’t cross paths with the Detroit Tigers on a regular basis. The Arizona Diamondbacks certainly fall into that category. Quick, off the top of your head name a player who isn’t Paul Goldschmidt.

Well, you probably did, but you see my point.

Usually, playing within the American League, fans have a passing knowledge of the opponent, what’s been going on with the team, what injuries have plagued them. But when we dip into the NL, outside of the big boys like the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, and Cardinals, it can sometimes be hard to keep track.

We chatted with Charlie Gebow from AZ Snake Pit, SB Nation’s Arizona Diamondbacks community, about what Tigers fans can look forward to, and whether the D’Backs’ early success is going to be sustainable for a whole season.

BYB: Let’s just get this right out of the way to start things off. Can we have Jake Lamb?

AZSP: No

Okay, but… maybe?

No, no Jake Lamb to you go to heck do not pass purgatory do not collect salvation.

Fine, let’s move on to the real questions. Archie Bradley, do you see him as a long term bullpen arm, or do you think the aim is to move in into a starter’s role?

It’s tough. With this “Being a contender” thing going on, the bullpen needs all the help it can get, as Bradley is one of the few pieces that anybody is comfortable with at the moment. There have been rumblings of turning him into an Andrew Miller-like fireman/long term stopper, which he has good stuff for. If this were morea rebuilding project, and it may well be in the long-term, then I would be more comfortable throwing Bradley back in the rotation, because life is an ceaseless ball of entropy that we can’t escape.

I don’t think anyone expected the Diamondbacks to have this kind of a start to their year. Do you see it as being sustainable throughout the season, and what exactly is working so well for the team?

Well, they’re hitting the lights out at home and the pitching has improved enough. Is that sustainable? Maybe? It’s hard to tell. The offense is not hitting at all on the road, and that includes a recent series at Coors of all places. I saw a tweet that summarized it well: The Diamondbacks hitting well at home or hitting poorly on the road is due for regression, whichever one hits first and hardest will be the key to the season.

The pitching is regressing in the good way, though. Even without Shelby Miller there are four starters who are legitimately intriguing. One of which is Robbie Ray, who you will see in this upcoming series. Not sure why I would single out Robbie Ray to a Tigers website, but he’s been up and down, but his strikeout rate has been phenomenal and he has some Ace potential. Again, not sure why I would bring him up.

Zack Grienke hasn’t exactly been a superb starter for you guys since he came over from LA. Do you think that’s a natural decline with age, or is their something specific hampering him?

#actually Zack Greinke is good now (at least so far into 2017), the key seems to be that he’s getting a lot better movement on his slider, resulting in more strikeouts and other fun stuff. He’s probably not going to perform in a way that justifies a 35 MM+ salary a year, but that’s just him taking advantage of the market and it’s not like ownership would use that money on something more useful.

Paul Goldschmidt has been quietly building a superb career with you guys. Is he really as good as everyone thinks he is, or is it more that he’s the best player in a club where not many other players stand out?

He is definitely the best hitting Right-Handed First Baseman in Major League Baseball.

(Pause for trolling)

But seriously, he legitimately has been one of the best hitters in the league throughout his career. He’s 12th in fWAR overall since he debuted in 2011. He’s one of the best defensive 1Bs in the league, and gosh he’s just handsome.

“best player in a club where not many other players stand out” how dare you.

In the AL Central, the Diamondbacks are one of those teams we rarely see, so we don’t often think about them. Does that go both ways? Do Arizona fans often forget the Tigers exist?

I don’t forget the Tigers exist because of work-related slack channels and the ratio of Tigers writers to others (cough). But I think the Tigers are a team that has contended for the most part over the last decade, so they’re in the larger Baseball zeitgeist.

Which of the Tigers do you think will pose the biggest challenge for the DBacks?

Miguel Cabrera will always be the stuff of nightmares. There’s still some hurt feelings over Justin Upton that haven’t quite healed, and there’s always a fear that your past exes will walk by and you’re like “Daaaang, you’re looking good” and ex is like “No, you’re a scrub now, later!”

(See, in this metaphor, Justin Upton is the ex)

However, we can exchange horror stories about the back end of our respective bullpens. Especially with closers with the initials of F.R.

Let’s circle back to that Jake Lamb thing…

We’ll let him go for Cabrera, Verlander, and 1984 Whittaker and Trammell. “But there’s no such thing as a time machine” NOT WITH THAT ATTITUDE THERE ISN’T!

Thanks to Charlie for taking the time to chat with us, even if he is inflexible about Lamb. The Tigers play two games against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then will meet the Arizona team again on June 13 and 14 in Detroit.