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Chat: Ben Lindbergh

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday January 14, 2013 2:00 PM ET chat session with Ben Lindbergh.

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Ask BP's Editor-in-Chief anything. Anything at all.

Ben Lindbergh: Hello, everyone. I'm making eggs with one hand and typing with the other. Let's get started.

SixToolPlayer (Wershington): What do you think is the most likely scenario with Michael Morse?

Ben Lindbergh: I think it's likely that he'll get traded. Not because the Nationals need to trade him, or because he wouldn't be of any help to them off the bench, but because he's probably more useful to another team and, by extension, more useful to Washington for what he might bring back (a lefty reliever plus a prospect or two, let's say).

captnamerca (FL): What's it like editing this rabble?

Ben Lindbergh: It's an honor, a privilege, and death to my Circadian cycle.

edwardarthur (Illinois): Would there be any utility to creating an internet Hall of Fame, akin to the Internet Baseball Awards?

Ben Lindbergh: Already exists, sort of: there's BBTF's Hall of Merit and Adam Darowski's site, the Hall of Stats (www.hallofstats.com).

Elderly dachshund requesting assistance getting down from the bed in the other room. Back very shortly.

Charles (Austin): Ryan Howard and Josh Hamilton signed near identical contracts for their age 32-36 seasons. Howard's is 125M for 2012-2016 and Hamilton's is 125M for 2013-2017. Is it even close, or is Howard's contract astronomically worse? Could it be the worst contract in baseball?

Ben Lindbergh: Howard's contract is way worse. Hamilton may already be in decline, but Howard hasn't had a season as valuable as Hamilton's 2012 since 2009--the season after which the Phillies gave him his future extension, which they didn't have to do. Could be the worst contract in baseball.

Frankie Templeton (Newark): When do you get your Hall of Shame voting privileges?

Ben Lindbergh: I'll be eligible to vote for the Cooperstown class of...2022? I think? If I haven't screwed up and gotten myself kicked out of the BBWAA by then.

Rockford (Flowmont): What are your thoughts on the draft pick compensation? I am not fond of it right now. It seems it leaves FA's lingering with team trying to gather picks. It appears to be an opportunity for teams to trade for a FA then let him go just to build the farm system.

Ben Lindbergh: Not a big fan of the system, at least as currently constituted. Seems like it does more to hurt individual free agents than it does to preserve parity. I don't think free agency needs to be tied to the draft.

Turns out it's not easy to make scrambled eggs while answering questions about baseball. Going to be the worst scrambled eggs ever.

igoinsane67 (my office): If Ryan Howard has the worst contract in baseball, does that mean Salvador Perez may end up as the best contract in baseball?

Ben Lindbergh: Maybe! That's an excellent contract. Ask Sam Miller about it sometime. Sometimes he stops people on the street to tell them how much money Sal Perez is making.

igoinsane67 (my offic): Kinda tired with these HoF voters that won't vote for someone on their first ballot eligibility. If he deserves it, vote the guy first year. Are you gonna be that way?

Ben Lindbergh: Our own Russell Carleton believes in the distinction between "first-ballot guys" and everyone else, and Russell is super smart, so it's possible that there's a good argument in favor of voting that way. That said, while I reserve the right to change my mind (and my vote) about candidates over time, I won't ever withhold one just because it's the player's first time eligible. Either he's a Hall of Famer, or he isn't.

Scott (LA): After the vetoed Seattle deal, do you think Arizona will accept a lesser deal for Justin Upton or can they kiss and make up with him? It doesn't seem like building a package around Mike Olt is even close to what they were getting.

Ben Lindbergh: They say they won't accept less than they would have gotten back in that trade, and since that potential return was revealed publicly, there's some pressure on them to at least match that package. But there's also some extra pressure on them to trade Upton, and Sam and I discussed on the podcast on Friday. Tough to start a season with a guy you've spent the whole winter loudly trying to trade.

Andrew (St. Louis): If you're not making Gordon Ramsay's scrambled eggs, might as well not even bother. http://lifehacker.com/5199462/gordon-ramsay-demonstrates-the-perfect-scrambled-egg-breakfast

Ben Lindbergh: Haven't clicked the link yet, but based on the URL, not I'm not making them that way. This is far from the perfect scrambled egg breakfast.

Sean (Cal): Hey Ben. Would you buy or sell Chris sale's next 2-3 years as a starter? (In fantasy context). Thanks

Ben Lindbergh: Sale really scares me. Not from a performance standpoint, just from a "Man, I hope his arm stays attached to his shoulder" perspective. I'm far from an expert on pitching mechanics--that would be Doug Thorburn--but I've heard similar concerns expressed by more experienced scouts. I'm not saying there's no deal I'd make for Sale, but all else being equal, I'd probably aim for someone else of comparable quality (not that many pitchers meet that description).

Chef (NY): What do you prefer? Chicken or Steak?

Ben Lindbergh: Chicken. I'll have a steak once in a while, but probably 95 percent of the meat I eat (not counting fish) is chicken. Fowl fear me.

comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): Mike Morse for Jake McGee (TBR). Is this enough to start a conversation?

Ben Lindbergh: Yes.

ttt (Manhattan): Pandora, Spotify, other?

Ben Lindbergh: I've used both, as well as Grooveshark. But over the years I've amassed a large enough music stockpile on my own hard drive that I don't have to resort to outside sources all that often. It also helps that it takes me a long time to get tired of listening to music I like.

jlarsen (chicago): Out of the group of: Oscar Taveras, Jurickson Profar, Anthony Rizzo and Wil Myers. If given the same number of MLB ABs, who do you foresee having the most HRs, highest WARP/VORP and awards if each remain with their current organization in a 6 yr span?

Ben Lindbergh: With the caveat that I'm not an expert prospect guy, I'd say most homers Myers, highest AVG/OBP Taveras, and highest WARP Profar. Doesn't hurt that Profar has already arrived, though he's also -0.2 WARP in the hole from last season.

richardkr34 (Saint Paul, MN): Do the Twins have the worst starting rotation in the AL?

Ben Lindbergh: Man, maybe. It's bad. Dig up my Transaction Analysis on the Kevin Correia signing if you want to know what I think about that. (Spoiler: I didn't like it.) I might be writing about the Twins' pitching this week.

jlarsen (chicago): Relating to your previous Rays/Nationals Question/Answer, why would the Rays deal multiple years of McGee(who has proven to be an effective high-leverage reliever w/o the closer price) for 1 yr of Morse without any guarantee that he'll revert to 2011 form? Doesn't seem like a Friedman-esque move. I'd think more along the lines of Alex Colome AND Tim Beckham for Morse, with Colome being a high-ceiling pitching prospect who is currently at AAA but doesn't have clear future with Rays and Beckham being in need of a change of scenery.

Ben Lindbergh: They probably wouldn't! But if they did, it certainly would start a conversation, so I said yes.

Paul (DC): With Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, and Fister filling out the first 4 slots in the Tiger's rotation, is the last slot by default Porcello's? Or could spring training see an actual competition for that spot on the roster?

Ben Lindbergh: I think Porcello gets that spot.

Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): If the draft were tomorrow, who should the Astros take 1-1? They could certainly use an elite workhorse SP prospect in the system.

Ben Lindbergh: In the new CBS Sherlock Holmes show Elementary, which Sam and I (desperate for something to talk about) talked about on the podcast today, Sherlock explains his "attic theory" of the way the mind works. (You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqg3PO0cIn8.) The idea is that the mind has finite room for remembering material, so if he fills it up with some facts, he'll crowd others out.

This might not be the way the mind actually works, but it's still sort of the way I feel about amateur prospects. I have my hands full keeping tracking of all the players who are already professionals, let alone the ones who won't be for six months or so and in almost all cases A) won't make the majors or B) won't make the majors for several years, by which time I'll have become well acquainted with them as prospects.

That's a long, roundabout way of saying: I don't know whom the Astros should take 1-1. Fortunately, Nick Faleris knows, so you can ask him. And if you don't want to ask him, just sit back and wait for him to answer, since he'll be starting a series in which he'll rank the top draft prospects soon.

Rockford (Flowmont): Thanks for the chat. How about the Reds this season? Will Votto's power be back and can the young 3 - Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, and Devin Mesoraco be counted on for much?

Ben Lindbergh: I like the Reds a lot. I'm guessing Votto will be fully healthy and not the guy who went 170 or so plate appearances without a home run after late June last season. As for the three young players, Mesoraco is the only one who hasn't already had a pretty productive season in the majors, and he could still get there.

Nasir Jones (NY): Thank you for taking the time to assist me in my journey towards fantasy relevance, and although that is a bit of an oxymoron i will digress to my question, which is, Ben Revere the new Juan Pierre? His peripherals in low and high minors were pretty decent, how likely is it that he can repeat his OBP from last year? Second Question... How likely is it that Billy Butler repeats his HR total from last year... and a third question who will win the superbowl? San Fran is 2 to 1 and i think those are some solid odds. Thank you in advance

Ben Lindbergh: I think Revere can keep hitting for average, so he can post something like a league-average OBP even though he rarely walks. If you buy him for the steals and aren't concerned about the lack of power, he's a useful fantasy player.

PECOTA projects Butler for 20 HR in 637 PA. PECOTA is pretty conservative. I think I'd take the over on 20 and the under on 29.

I'm not kidding when I say that I have no idea who's in the Super Bowl. Or the NFL playoffs, for that matter. Know nothing about handegg.

Steve G. (STL): When do you see the "Draft Pick Three" signing? (I am talking about Kyle Lohse, Michael Bourn, and Rafael Soriano).

Ben Lindbergh: I'll say Lohse and Bourn sign at the end of this month and Soriano signs in early February.

jlarsen (chicago): Opening Day 2013, Sandy Rosario will be a member of ____? Eli Whiteside will be a member of ____?

Ben Lindbergh: Best question yet. Springfield Isotopes, Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant team.

jlarsen (chicago): Does anyone else find humor that the Yankees probable Opening Day catcher will be Francisco Cervelli?

Ben Lindbergh: I just don't know if I buy it. Shades of "Bubba Crosby is our center fielder," circa 2006.

ttt (Manhattan): Speaking of PECOTA, when will the new projections come out?

Ben Lindbergh: Well, the book PECOTAs will be out when the book is out, which should be about a month from now (the official Amazon ship date is 2/26, but if you preorder, it might arrive as much as a week before that). I don't have an exact date for you, but we'll aim to have the projections up on the site around the same time.

jlarsen (chicago): In your "Overthinking" article, you tabbed the Rays as the team that you think should sign Hafner this offseason. Other than age, what is the difference between Jim Thome and Travis Hafner these days? With Hafner's injury-riddled past, wouldn't it be "safer" to go with an older and somewhat consistent Thome instead?

Ben Lindbergh: I love Thome, but I think he's reached an age at which even Hafner is a better bet to stay healthy. Thome just hasn't been able to avoid the DL over the last couple seasons (and yes, I know that's true of Hafner, too). For what it's worth, PECOTA projects Thome for a TAv about 10 points higher.

Cam (Waterloo): Do you think Delmon Young is a fit for the Blue Jays as a platoon partner for Adam Lind?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm not even sure if Delmon is good enough to be an asset as the short half of a platoon. Last year he had a .271 TAv against lefties, with a multi-year weighted TAv against them of .281. (You can see that in the "Splits" section of his player card.) Compare that to say, Scott Hairston, whom I'd rather have (.315 last year, .300 multi-year). Even if .281 is Delmon's true talent against southpaws, once you subtract his defense, his baserunning, and the fact that he'd be taking up a roster spot in a limited role, there's just not a lot of value left there.

tmangell (Chicago): Ben, great job. Will BP2013 be available as a PDF, iBook, or Kindle edition? Also, I like the Reds too, but think my beloved Redbirds will compete with them. Thoughts?

Ben Lindbergh: The annual will be available as pretty much everything, including iBook, Nook, and Kindle. There's even supposed to be an Android app this year!

And yes, I think those two teams will be close, probably closer than last year (in the standings, at least, if not necessarily run differential-wise). Cardinals should be competitive.

Justin (Chicago, IL): Alex Rios - good or bad in 2013?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Rios will break the cycle of alternating awful and excellent seasons. Maybe he'll just be kind of okay! PECOTA projects him to be worth about two WARP, which would essentially make him an average player. Let's go with that.

tbwhite (San Deigo): Better player over their career: Machado or Profar ? Does Machado ever get a shot at SS and if he does how long can he stay there ?

Ben Lindbergh: Tough question. I'll go with Machado. And yes, I think he'll play shortstop when J.J. Hardy's contract is up (after 2014), if not sooner, and that he could stick there until, let's say, his late-20s. Might take just as long for Profar to get a shot at playing short regularly.

captnamerca (FL): Seen any good movies lately?

Ben Lindbergh: In the last couple weeks, I've seen Chronicle, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and, last but not least, The Expendables 2. Was a bit disappointed by the Oscar contenders on that list, but I enjoyed Jiro (which I watched thanks to endorsements from Kevin Goldstein and Nate Silver), though I would've liked to know more about what his innovations in sushi preparation were, aside from his attention to detail. Expendables was fun. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

tbwhite (San Diego): follow up question, I have an opportunity to draft both Machado and Profar in a sim league(APBA), do I take them both, or just 1 and nab a Cepedes with the other pick ?

Ben Lindbergh: Is that a keeper league? (Sorry, haven't played fantasy for a few years.) If so, take them both. If we're talking 2013 only, take Cespedes.

Shawnykid23 (CT): On June 1st J. Upton will be playing for....?

Ben Lindbergh: The Rangers, I suppose, even though they said they were out. I just hope it's someone other than Arizona. I've had enough Upton rumors to last me a lifetime.

jlarsen (chicago): With the reality that Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano are Free Agents in the next calendar year, why don't the Yankees considering dealing Grandy and/or prospects for Justin Upton? They may be afraid of the 189 MIL tax threshold, but its very questionable that they don't have any interest or inclination of acquiring Justin Upton to fill Swisher's role.

Ben Lindbergh: I'm sure the Yankees have some interest in acquiring Upton. I don't think Arizona would be that interested in Granderson in an Upton package, though, and I'm not sure the Yankees have the prospects. Maybe Gardner plus all their prospects. And yeah, Upton actually makes money beyond 2013, which makes Hal Steinbrenner scared.

Cal Guy (Cal): Do you see Bonds making the Hall of Fame next year? And if he continues to get shut out, will that be enough of a farce to lead to a change in the voting process?

Ben Lindbergh: Not next year, though I do think he'll get in eventually, one way or another--I'll vote for him if I have the chance. Internally, your friendly neighborhood BBWAAers are already discussing some changes that we might see as soon as next year, though it probably won't be anything drastic. Honestly, while I would vote for Bonds, I have a bigger problem with someone not voting for Biggio, Bagwell, or Piazza based on steroid suspicions than I do with someone leaving Bonds off their ballot.

Alex (Anaheim): Your extremely early predictions for the AL division champions?

Ben Lindbergh: Angels, Tigers, Blue Jays, I guess. Might have different answers before Opening Day.

BobcatBaseball (Athens, OH): Do you see analytics being used in college at all? Is it possible to have a PECOTA like system in college?

Ben Lindbergh: We're talking about projecting college stats, right, not projecting professional performances based on college stats? If so, then no, I don't think so. It's very difficult to find any signal in the noise of college statistics even after the fact. At that age, scouting seems to hold sway.

Tim (Oakland): How do you project Yoenis Cespedes in his sophomore season with the A's? Could he potentially go 25-25? 30-30?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't know if he'll have the steals, but if he's healthy all year, I could see him hitting 30 homers.

ttt (Manhattan): Who is your favorite player in baseball (majors, minors, college) right now? Not necessarily the best, but the one you like the most for whatever reason (and why?)

Ben Lindbergh: I joke about it being Brian Bruney, but Jose Molina, probably, because of the framing and what I perceive to be the disconnect between how good he is and how good he's perceived to be. I get attached to players who add value in unusual ways, or ways that aren't immediately obvious.

ttt (Manhattan): re: Bonds/HOF. How can people have ethical concerns about Bonds being in the HOF when Ty Cobb, who appears to have repeatedly beaten people into unconsciousness, and Babe Ruth (amongst others), who violated the 18th Amendment on multiple occasions, are in the HOF? Isn't this just a horrific case of not voting for someone because he was generally disliked?

Ben Lindbergh: I think the distinction some people draw (and again, I wouldn't draw this distinction) is that Cobb, while possibly (probably) a terrible person, played the game with more integrity than Bonds, that his lousy personality was largely an off-the-field problem and not something that affected play. And to play devil's advocate (because again, I'm in your corner), is the fact that some bad people/personalities are already in a good reason to add more of them? Maybe some voters see it as a "two wrongs don't make a right" situation.

RationalSportsFan (Detroit): Re: Jose Molina. Do you truly believe he adds 4-5 wins of value with his framing abilities? I am unsure what to believe concerning this, because that number seems frighteningly high.

Ben Lindbergh: I wouldn't necessarily project him to do it again, but I do believe that Molina added four wins with framing last season.

sandiego3131 (Hawaii): The Padres already have a fairly young roster - wouldnt it make sense from their end to unload prospects to get a frontline cost controlled anchor like Stanton? Their minor league seems to be filled with solid-good major league potential players, but how far can a lineup of slightly above average players take you?

Ben Lindbergh: Sure, depending on the prospect package, I think it might make sense for the Padres to trade for Stanton. There are very few teams for whom I'd say it wouldn't make sense to explore the possibility.

jlarsen (chicago): Other than Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, is there really anything worth a look when it comes to the Cubs upcoming season? Do you believe "The Scrabble Ace" will continue to be dominant or should the Cubs look to sell-high on him soon?

Ben Lindbergh: Don't think anything about Samardzija's season screamed "fluke," so I don't see why he couldn't be that good again. The Cubs have a strong rotation, so that seems like something worth watching. Fujikawa could be fun.

Josh (Philly): Off the top of your head. Who has a better season Ben Revere or Michael Bourn?

Ben Lindbergh: Bourn.

Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): What is Johnathan Singleton's ETA to the Majors now given the (ridiculously-harsh) 50 game pot suspension?

Ben Lindbergh: September? On ESPN's Baseball Today podcast (I think), Keith Law mentioned the possibility of the Astros adding Singleton to the 40-man to get around the suspension. If that happens, then maybe even earlier.

jlarsen (chicago): Does the Milwaukee Brewers almost complete bullpen overhaul remind anyone else of the one that the Rays had after the disappointing 2009 season?

Ben Lindbergh: Jack Moore wrote an interesting article at Disciples of Uecker about how teams with bullpens as bad as the 2012 Brewers' have done the following season (http://disciplesofuecker.com/looking-forward-history-favors-teams-like-the-brewers/6701). Summary: they tend to do much better, which makes sense given Sam Miller's article about building based on bullpen being the most fleeting way to win (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18141).

Tommy (Btown): I know prospects are not your thing, but how long do the Cardinals go with Descalso? It seems like Wong is already an upgrade.

Ben Lindbergh: Descalso's days are numbered, I'm sure, but I don't know if I'd say Wong is already an upgrade--he hasn't played a game in Triple-A yet, and he wasn't exactly an offensive juggernaut in the Texas League. Maybe Matt Carpenter to the rescue? (http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130104&content_id=40850734&vkey=news_stl&c_id=stl)

Mike (Utica, NY): When does Trout return the centerfield and what do you see for numbers, a slump or continued greatness?

Ben Lindbergh: Don't know when he plays center--probably makes sense to stick Bourjos there as long as he hits. As for his numbers, I'll go with continued greatness and a slight slump, if by "slump" you mean "a little worse than last season."

jlarsen (Chicago): Why is it that when no players get voted into the Hall of Fame, sabermetrics and sabermetricians get blamed for it? For humor purposes, Mitch Williams of MLB Network blames Ivy League schools like Yale and Harvard as to why stats are bigger factors in scouting, awards and HOF voting. Not sure when exactly going to Yale or Harvard suddenly became a "bad thing." I boils my blood when I hear on sports radio evening shows that "stat geeks" and nerds don't vote in PED users or players that are "very good" and not-so-much all-time greats.

Ben Lindbergh: Is this a thing people are saying? I haven't heard anyone blaming stat geeks and nerds for not electing PED guys. If anything, it tends to be the traditionalists leaving them off their ballots. I'd think Jack Morris was the only candidate who might have been hurt by the increased influence of advanced stats, which I wrote about last week.

Ratcatcher (Narnia): Is there any hope for Domonic Brown? Or has he been RAJred beyond repair?

Ben Lindbergh: Still some hope, but I'm not holding out all that much. Not sure if that's Amaro's fault or Domonic Brown's.

ttt (Manhattan): Do you think MLB will have to end up giving the OK for a basketball-like sign-and-trade to get someone signed (Kyle Lohse), will he end up signing substantially under his market value, or will everyone get signed and it's just Boras maximizing his clients' value?

Ben Lindbergh: Lots of questions about Lohse and Bourn. I don't think MLB will have to do anything drastic to get them signed. Boras' strategy hasn't always succeeded, but he's had enough success with it that I wouldn't rule out either getting a decent deal. Soriano is the most interesting case--the Yankees reportedly value the draft pick so highly (in relation to a reliever) that they don't want him back under any circumstances. He's not going to be thrilled if he gets less than he would have had he accepted the qualifying offer.

Chris (KC): I have seen Law mention adding prospects to the 40-man to get around the pot suspension, but would this be allowed and how would it work? I mean, I know the Brewers added Jeremy Jeffress to their 40-man early, but it wasn't to get around a suspension, it was to avoid another one. I can't imagine Singleton would be allowed to play at the major league level, which is what Law seems to be saying would happen.

Ben Lindbergh: That is what he was saying, I believe, and I wondered the same thing. I haven't had a chance to look up the rule myself. I'll do that.

myshkin (Santa Clara, CA): How are you feeling about the schedule for the book and PECOTAs, perhaps as compared to last year?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm not directly involved with either--I'm not editing the annual, and I don't produce the PECOTAs, beyond helping out with some spot-checking--but things seem to be proceeding fairly smoothly.

Chris (San Francisco): Thanks for the chat Ben! Could my boy Madison Bumgarner compete for the Cy Young Award somewhere down the line?

Ben Lindbergh: Maybe, but I'm a bit worried about the velocity loss at the end of the season. If it was just a mechanical flaw, sure, but if there was a hidden injury, uh-oh. Even if he's just a guy who gets tired at the end of the season, that might prevent him from meriting serious Cy Young consideration. So, yes, certainly not out of the question, but enough uncertainty about his stuff that I wouldn't project him to win one.

Ben Lindbergh: We've been at this for almost three hours, and there are still some excellent questions in the queue, but I'm afraid I have to run. Great turnout and participation today. Thanks for making this fun, and thanks for supporting Baseball Prospectus.


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