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From The Mailbag: Ben ... (09/02)
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January 29, 1998

From The Mailbag

Straight answers to your tough questions

by Gary Huckabay

We like to take a few minutes every couple of weeks to respond to our email. Names and addresses of the person submitting the question have been changed, but the text is unedited.

Q: How could you leave Michael Coleman off your list of top prospects? Everyone else loves him, including Sickels, Benson, and Shandler.
- peteyg@bostonglobe.com

A: Petey: You make a good point. It's easier to come up with a comprehensive ranking if you limit your choices. Coleman was mentioned by some of the authors, but his lack of plate discipline is probably a large part of it. Coleman's a legitimate prospect, and is probably comparable or superior in some ways to some of the people on our list. The same is not true of Donnie Sadler. There are prospects that could arguably be on that list that didn't make it. Jackie Rexrode, Juan and Mario Encarnacion, and many others.

Q: the new site artwork is all looking gay.
- A WebTV subscriber

A: Okay. That's not really a question so much as it is poignant commentary on WebTV.

Q: Who is Ryan Christenson, why are you so high on him, and how come I never heard of him outside of your Prospects list?
- SJoyner@overrated.com

A: Ryan Christenson's a very good defensive outfielder in the A's organization. He hits for average, power, draws a ton of walks, and plays all out. Think Lenny Dykstra. He's only been in organized ball three years, and spent all of 1996 fighting injuries. I urge you to take a careful look at his performances in that context. Christenson's a ballplayer.

Q: What's going to happen with J.D. Drew?
- bwatson@doghouse.boss.com

A: Tough to say. His agent, Scott Boras, is not universally loved by ownership, and he gets some bad press, but Boras does not disappoint his clients. There's a possibility that Drew may be willing to be the test case regarding the MLB draft in front of an arbitration panel or a court. I doubt that'll come to pass, though. My guess, and it is only that, is that the Phillies and Boras will work out a deal somewhere in between their two positions right now.

On the field, Drew seems a comparable player to Travis Lee, but that's hard to gauge for certain. He certainly lit up pitchers in the Northern League, which erroneously claims to be an AA quality league. Of course, he may have hit 10 HR off Jack Morris or something. I don't think he'll see the majors until August 1998 at the earliest. If he does make it up at that point, his defense will be nowhere near the equal of Lee's, which is outstanding.

Q: Rupert Murdoch is a menace. Will the owners approve his purchase of the Dodgers? The San Diego owner has already voiced his disapproval.
-- hrperot@eds.com

A: Tough call. I don't think ownership wants Murdoch in their club, but it's hard to come up with an acceptable reason to exclude him. Furthermore, the potential buyer list for a $300-$500 Million ballclub is fairly limited, and the perfect buyer isn't likely to just waltz in the door. That's a lot of money to take out of O'Malley's pocket. Unless Moores [SDP Owner] really makes a stink and tries to build an obstructionist coalition, I think the sale will be approved. No one wants to piss off the man responsible for 12-15% of baseball's public exposure.

Q: TIRED OF UNWANTED EMAIL LIKE THIS IN YOUR INBOX?
-- success4u@emailworld.com

A: No, not at all. I find email spammers like yourself to be a real benefit to society, and there's nothing I enjoy more than subsidizing your badly designed advertising scams with my money and time. I love the fact that of the 183 messages info@baseballprospectus.com got last week, 74, or 40%, was unsolicited bulk email offering products that only a greedy idiot sucking peyote buttons would ever consider purchasing. I'm hoping that all the unsolicited bulk emailers like yourself play an ever-increasing role in the online world. I certainly don't hope that the entire paradigm for email switches to sender pays, where free riders like you would vanish off the face of the earth. That would be a real shame, nearly as bad as if something horrible happened to say, your spine.

Q: Where is Ozzie Guillen going to end up?
-- SnowPecker@chicago.il.us

A: There were rumors that he'd end up a Giant, but Brian Sabean chose instead to sign Rey Sanchez. As it is, it's possible that he could end up in a backup role with an NL West club like the Rockies or Dodgers. It's unlikely he'll ever see 300 PA again.

Q: Are you bozos going to pick the Red Socks to win the AL East again? Your so stupid. The Yankees will kill them again. The Yankees will have Irabu normal, Cone will be healthy, and Tino and Jeter and Williams will be awesome.
-- MGimbel@mediatarget.com

A: I dunno. It's possible, I suppose, that we could predict that, but we won't publish our predictions until about March 20th. A lot hinges on David Cone's health.

Q: Hey from Tigertown! Are my Tigers going to make the playoffs? Please?
-- dPeTrY@1984wasawesome.com

A: I wouldn't bet on it. Detroit had a lot of things break their way in 1997, and didn't break .500. It's not likely that they'll be as lucky in 1998. They got better-than-expected years out of Blair, Easley, Thompson, and Hamelin at the very least. While some of the team will improve, there will likely be some dropoff in other places that'll counteract that. They might make it, but I doubt it.

Q: Tell me some good bets to break out, bounce back, or self-destruct!
-- gambler@thornyflower.com

A: Assuming you mean players, here are some that I personally like as good risks. Note: take with a grain of salt, and keep in mind that these are HUNCHES.

  • Jose Valentin, SS, Milwaukee. Valentin fought injuries most of 1997; I expect him to bust out with a career year in 1998, with increased plate discipline and isolated power.
  • Joey Hamilton, SP, San Diego. Hamilton strikes people out, gets ground balls, and I think Dave Stewart might teach him to glare.
  • Rich Aurilia, SS, San Francisco. If he gets the playing time, Aurilia can hit better than he's shown, and has a steady if unspectacular glove.
  • Robinson Checo, SP, Boston. Checo's stuff reminds me of Rijo's, and he appears to be healthy.
  • Mike Cameron, CF, Chicago White Sox. He's in a pitcher's park, so no one may notice, but Cameron's probably the #3 CF in the AL going into this year. {With apologies to Jim Edmonds.}
  • Ken Cloude, SP, Seattle.
  • Ryan Klesko, "LF", Atlanta
  • Roger Cedeno, CF, Los Angeles
  • Todd Walker, 2B/3B, Minnesota
  • Cliff Floyd, OF/1B, Florida
  • Todd Greene, C, Anaheim
  • Gabe White, SP, Cincinnati
Just hunches. Nothing more.

Q: How long until the next strike?
-- rlevine@miller.urine.com

A: Probably about two and a half years.

More later when we get more good stuff. Thanks to all for writing in.

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Gary's other articles. You can contact Gary by clicking here

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