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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Sunday August 17, 2003 3:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.

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Chris Kahrl is Baseball Prospectus' resident Transactions guru. He'll be here from 3:00 to 3:30PM EDT to answer your questions.

Christina Kahrl: How do, everybody, I hope everyone's up to wasting some quality time talking about the best game known to peoplekind?

Joshua Buergel (Seattle, WA): Colbrunn is going to start taking BP, and Guillen is getting close to coming back for Seattle. The guys leaving seem obvious: Brian Sweeney and Chad Myers. If Cirillo gets healthy, though, who gets whacked from the Seattle roster? There are a lot of players that don't really deserve a roster spot for the postseason (McLemore, Mabry, Bloomquist, Cirillo, Garcia), but most of those are sacred cows. Any guesses?

Christina Kahrl: Howdy Josh, always good to see a long-time reader. It is an interesting world we live in when Willie Bloomquist and sacred cow come up as related concepts in a single passage, which, naturally enough, I love as an A's fan. I wouldn't be surprised, in the go-go commisionerdom of Czar Bud, if Cirillo stays off the roster for another two weeks, meaning he gets on the postseason roster at the expense of a pitcher, thus sparing all sacred cows. I suspect Pat Gillick's real agenda is finding a way to get Pat Borders on the postseason roster.

Ryan Wilkins (Concord, CA): Dear Chris, Don't you just love OPS? Isn't it amazing how one stat can tell you SO much about a player's offensive performance? Why bother with complicated stats like EqA or MLVr when the simplest ones are the best??? Cheers, -Ryan.

Christina Kahrl: Talk about waving the cape... yes Ryan, I've gored my share of matadors on this particular subject, but let just repeat my position, which is that OPS is pernicious and evil, not to mention lazy and non-descriptive. It adds genuiine math flavor to evaluations of player value best left to adjectives. A 1200 OPS doesn't mean anything to me, and it doesn't have any connection to runs scored beyond 'lots', and a player with that OPS is 'good.' I like language, so why bother with the ersatz math? It's about as useless as Win Shares in terms of describing player value.

Sam King (Atlanta): I'm at the Braves-Snakes game, so I'll have to leave this question for you and search for the answer in whatever transcript is left from the chat. Do the Braves have a legitimate shot at making it to the World Series given their (aside from Smoltz) decidedly mediocre bullpen? I don't buy Kent Mercker and Trey Hodges (or Ray King or anyone esle currently toiling down in the pen) as Ramiro Mendoza and Jeff Nelson to Smoltz's Mariano Rivera.

Christina Kahrl: The nice thing about this year's NL is that I don't see anyone running away with it in the postseason. The Braves' rotation is even more of a question than the pen, which is why, should they even make it, I like the Cubs' chances of making noise in October. I think Dusty will keep that from becoming an issue.

David Geiser/dvdmgsr (Pennsylvania): So the Cubs appear to be scrapping Choi for the year in favor of Randall Simon. Ignorning the silliness of this move, do you think Dusty Baker's stated contempt for the Oakland approach to hitting (looking at a lot of pitches) has led to the demise of first Bellhorn and now Choi this season?

Christina Kahrl: Dave, I think Dusty is the crack-smokin'est manager in the game today. He's done an outstanding job in making the NL Central very, very interesting.

Teddyballgame (New York): Ahh... electricity! Hi Chris, how can you explain Beane's sudden distaste for big bats? Five years after Stairs, Berroa, and losing games 7-6, we're losing games 3-2. Why didn't he target bats like Sanders and Kielty?

Christina Kahrl: I think Billy's problem is related to a comment labor negotiator Bill Gould made at SABR, which is that there's a limited supply of free talent bats, and more GMs figuring out they ought to go after the Matt Stairses of the world. I know some of the current front office sharpies are complaining about the state of the game in this post-Bonifay world.

Robert (Des Moines, IA): At the time the deal was made, you hated the deal that brought Berroa to KC. What do you think of it now that Damon's someone else's overpaid problem, and Berroa's a worthy RoY candidate?

Christina Kahrl: I think it made sense at the time, and Damon didn't play well. It was a risk worth taking, given that they have Tejada and Chavez, and had no obvious place in which to put Berroa. And it's to Allard Baird's credit that he got good stuff. Reputation aside, it was a good deal for both teams, and I reacted with my usual capacity for overheated overstatement.

RC Cook (Carrollton TX): In your last edition of TA, you criticized the Rangers for bringing up "this year's best pitching prospect," Juan Dominguez, for what Buck Showalter has likely said will only be four starts. Given the Rangers' current place in the standings, and also given that Dominguez was going to get those four starts anyway, whether at AAA Oklahoma or in the majors, is there really any long-term harm here? Dominguez would have to be added to the 40-man roster in November regardless, so I don't see it as a problem- please enlighten me here.

Christina Kahrl: I don't see why he has to be on this team. It's a bad defensive club, so he's going to be betrayed early and often, he needs to acquire a breaking pitch, which he'll have a hard time picking up in the majors, and given that this season has seen him throw more innings than ever before, I'd rather he had most of September off, and pitched in the AFL instead.

jdbranno (Boston): Does it seem to you like Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker aren't on the same page? Hendry acquires or promotes players (Kelton, Hill, Cruz, Choi, Jose Hernandez, among others), and Dusty doesn't play them. Meanwhile, last night they traded for Randall Simon (!), which surely means Choi will be sent down when Tom Goodwin (!) comes up. What's going on here? Is this any way to run a roster? Do they need Goodwin AND Glanville? And what was the point of getting Simon? Finally, do you think Hendry will try to keep Lofton, Grudz, and Karros after this season?

Christina Kahrl: The relationship between a GM and a manager is, to my mind, the quiet elephant in any particular argument about what a team is doing, should be doing, or plans to do. I can't help but look at the Hendry-Baker situation and think of the Alderson-LaRussa relationship, where a smart GM started catering to a manager who thought he needed veteran players with specific, known skills sets to keep the early '90s A's in contention. It didn't work, and similarly, I see Baker as a disaster for the Cubs over the long term, as he takes an organization that was primed for good stuff, and whittles it down to a nub in his quest to win now.

Anthony (New York): What do you think about the Reds shutting down Claussen for the rest of the year?

Christina Kahrl: I think it makes sense. He's shown that the elbow is sound, and he'll come into camp with all sorts of possibilities. There isn't a lot to be gained, the 2003 Reds are a monument to Carl Lindner's special brand of genius, and the misfortune of losing all three components of what should still be an outstanding outfield.

gfmorris (Huntsville, AL): What other dead wood is likely to be expunged from the Cincinnati roster? Is there anything left that's not untouchable that anyone would want? And who is dumb enough to take Sean Casey off our hands? I'll go club Mr. Lindner in the back of the head repeatedly while Kuhlman is in negotiations...

Christina Kahrl: I keep wishcasting Sean Casey as a Snake, he's got the requisite profile, veteran amiability, and outsized reputation. But the Reds would have to eat a portion of the contract, and frankly, I think the Reds can count on scheduling their Sean Casey Day for the last day of the last year of his contract.

Nick (Naples, FL): Why don't teams take players like Fernando Seguignol more seriously? He's bashing at AAA, and the Cubs among others could use him.

Christina Kahrl: It's not fair to single out the Cubs, Fernando's no Troy O'Leary, donchaknow. Frankly, I'm surprised that the Expos haven't liberated him, Seguignol ought to be the sort of guy that Omar Minaya has the good sense to try out... at the end of the day, it's about strikeouts and age. Not everybody gets a last chance the way Billy McMillon has.

Geof F. Morris (Huntsville, AL): Of all the teams that were "sellers" at the trading deadline, who most made out like bandits?

Christina Kahrl: I still think the Reds did exceptionally well for themselves. They desperately needed above-A-ball arms, and they got that, only giving up a Boone and some relievers to get there. They're no worse off in terms of the team on the field as a result of their deals, and they're much better off for 2004.

Ed (Tea Neck): What's with Adrian Beltre, and what kind of a chance will he get next year if he keeps this up?

Christina Kahrl: I suppose it depends on what you think he's keeping up. His recent hot hitting aside, he's had a godawful season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him shopped, and I also wouldn't be surprised if nobody was interested. There are worse fates, he could wind up a Devil Ray...

Josh (Kansas City): Hey Chris! Do you see and big name prospects being called up in September?

Christina Kahrl: A great question, Josh, but a difficult one because many teams already have their best near-term prospects up. I think we'll see the Indians give serious looks at young pitchers like Cliff Lee (just called up), and the Brewers will bring up J.J. Hardy and perhaps Dave Krynzel. I expect the Pirates will preview the keystone combo of Hill and Sanchez.

Klaus (Tonopah, NV): Hi Chris. Love the Prospectus. Can you explain the situation that allows clubs to have four options on a player? Thanks.

Christina Kahrl: Thank you, Klaus, always appreciate a compliment. Anyway, the main point is the age at which the player signed, if he's young enough, he's a four-option player, so a team doesn't have to worry about protecting him until he's a little more experienced.

Nick (Naples, FL): How did the Pirates have so much that other teams wanted, despite the fact that they were such a bad team? Is it just that these players were "average" and they'll be replacing bad or worse than bad players at their new clubs?

Christina Kahrl: A good question, Nick, because it goes to the heart of team construction. The Pirates had lots of interchangeable junk on their roster, assembled on the off chance that they might get into that lofty 75-80 win range. Those sorts of players can be assets as supporting talent on legitimately good teams, but people like Suppan or Sauerbeck or Randall freakin' Simon shouldn't be centerpieces for anybody. In Steeltown, they were stars. That's a problem.

Geof F. Morris (Huntsville, AL): Do you have any game-watching rituals that you do? Any must-haves [certain beer, snacks, etc.]? Do you take notes or just watch?

Christina Kahrl: Diet root beer, diet cokes of almost every flavor, the sound low, the music cranked, a lot of sit-ups, and a full scorebook for pitch count/observations when I'm really serious about trying to see something from a particular pitcher.

Aryeh (Modi'in, Israel): Chris: Over the years you've discussed many times the opportunity for an offensive/defensive platoon. Can you expound a bit on how this would work? Considering you could only play one player at a time, and your goal is always to maximize {Runs Scored - Runs Allowed}, wouldn't you ALWAYS be playing the same player (the guy who's net runs is greatest). The only time I see an advantage to be gained by an O/D platoon is in late innings of a close game (when said players may not have any more at bats). There it's clear you'd want the defensive whiz. Am I missing something? Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: This is one of those subjects I really enjoy, in part because some managers have successfully built offense-defense platoons. I don't agree with the idea that your defensive replacements end the game instead of starting it, but in part, that's because I agree with how Earl Weaver did things: have a bench stocked with bats you use in high-leverage situations, do the homework to know who does what with what sort of opposing pitcher's stuff (not just simple platoon numbers), and take advantage of the fact that relievers allow fewer balls in play. Give your starters the virtues of a good defense. Give your team the advantage of a good bench. I think defense is undervalued, both by statheads and by some of the game's brighter lights, but that's not to suggest Rey Ordonez has value, just that in team and lineup construction, the question of RS-RA isn't quite so cut-and-dried as all that, because there is no meaningful philosopher's stone on absolute player value. Players have discrete strengths that need to be employed discretely, based on the situation and the team's needs. What works for one constellation of events is not necessarily the right idea in all situations.

Anthony (New York): Does Todd Zeile's dismissal mean that Joe Torre will have less influence on the Yankees' bench from now on?

Christina Kahrl: Ye gods, you'd have to hope so, but who's to say the clammy presence of Clay Bellinger won't return to fester alongside Zim at the end of the bench?

Christina Kahrl: Okay folks, it's been a bunch of fun to run through this trial session, I appreciate that you stopped in and gave it a shot, and would ask if you have any ideas on how we can improve this chat feature in the future, please let us know at info@baseballprospectus.com, because we'd definitely appreciate it.


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