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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday January 29, 2013 2:00 PM ET chat session with Daniel Rathman.

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"Rumor Roundup" writer Daniel Rathman returns to take your questions.

Daniel Rathman: I could use a break from grad-school apps. Let's get this thing started!

Carl (LA): Braves now the team to beat in the NL?

Daniel Rathman: Thanks for kicking us off, Carl.

I still like the Nationals in the East, but think that the Braves are a very good bet to secure one of the wild-card spots. I reserve the right to change my mind before Opening Day, but if forced to pick right now, I'd say those two teams are the favorites for the NL pennant.

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): So JUpton is no longer a rumor to be traded. What are your thoughts of how he'll fare in Atlanta?

Daniel Rathman: Yep — sadly, after saving me on numerous otherwise-slow Roundup days, Justin Upton is no longer a candidate to be rounded up. I think he'll bounce back in Atlanta, but as much because he may have been playing hurt last year as because of the change of scenery. I'd give him better-than-even odds of returning to four-win performance.

Alex (Anaheim): Is the Yankee bullpen deep enough to overcome the loss of Soriano?

Daniel Rathman: Thanks for coming back, Alex.

With Mariano Rivera, and David Aardsma and Joba Chamberlain in the mix, I don't think the Yankees will miss Soriano too much, provided that at least two of those three righties are healthy. Also, to throw in a little Top 10 prospect lingo, keep in mind that they have a potential "Factor on the Farm" in Mark Montgomery.

John (Boston): Hey Dan,can you put these guys in order.....Jose Fernandez,Albert Almora,Solar,Zimmer,Syndergaard,Hedges,Andrew Heaney,Salvador Perez,Allen Webster,Aaron Sanchez and Dan Straily....thanks

Daniel Rathman: Hey, John.

Sheesh, that's a lot of names. From a fantasy standpoint, and based on what I've read, I'd probably want to own Fernandez and Sanchez. I'm probably not qualified to put the others in order, so I'd suggest asking a member of our prospect team.

Noah Braun (SD): Thanks for the chat, how would you rank 3B Longoria, Beltre, and Aramis Ramirez for next season?

Daniel Rathman: You're welcome, Noah — and thanks for the question. I'd put them in precisely that order, both from a fantasy standpoint and in real life. Hopefully Longoria can avoid the disabled list this year.

Paul (DC): With David Wells now retired for several years, which MLB player has taken on the mantle of "Most Likely to Adjust Himself (Down There) After Every Pitch"?

Daniel Rathman: I got a good laugh out of this one, Paul. Jonathan Papelbon seems like the obvious answer.

Jon (Kentucky): Who's the better pitcher in 5 years: Max Fried or Kevin Gausman?

Daniel Rathman: What's up, Jon?

Everything I've read about Fried is very impressive, but Gausman is probably the safer choice as a college draftee. Again, this is just going off of what I've read; that might be a fun debate for our prospect team.

Carlester (Seaboard): Chris Perez went from being a lock to be dealt to looking like the Tribe's opening day closer. Will he be moved as soon as they are out of the race?

Daniel Rathman: The Perez trade market does seem awfully quiet now, Carlester, though we can't rule-out this being the calm before the storm. If the Indians don't surprise and are out of the race by the trade deadline, I do think he'll be wearing a different uniform in the second half.

BobcatBaseball (Athens, OH): Thanks for coming back to chat Daniel. While guys such as Bourn and Lohse are stuck in "free-agent purgatory"; do you know if MLB is looking at their situation and thinking about changing the draft-pick compensation rules for players?

Daniel Rathman: I do think that both the league and the union are paying close attention to the situation (especially with the Mets' draft-pick story), but I doubt that either of them will be rescued in any way (besides choosing to wait until after the draft to sign). I also would not count out the possibility of Scott Boras finding a lucrative deal for both of them during the coming weeks.

More likely, if Bourn and Lohse are unable to secure long-term contracts, I think you'll see agents reevaluate their players' markets with a greater weight placed on the draft pick that it would cost to sign them. It will be interesting to see how this affects decisions regarding qualifying offers next year.

Greg (NY): The Mets shouldnt get Bourn if they are going to lose the 11th overall draft pick, right? When do you think the concept of draft picks being vauable reach public opinion? When the Mets let Jose Reyes walk, the consensus of the national and local "expert" analysts was that the Mets got "nothing" in return, when in fact they recieved an extra 1st round pick(at least). Thank you

Daniel Rathman: This a logical follow-up to the previous question, so thanks for the opportunity to elaborate a bit, Greg. I think that each team values draft picks differently, with a significant portion of the disparity resulting simply from their windows of competition. For example, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said the other day that he is not as concerned about the draft-pick cost of signing Lohse as the dollars-and-years price tag. The key for the Mets and Bourn, then, is whether Sandy Alderson and co. believe that he will be performing commensurate with his contract when they're ready to make a run at the East, and then to weigh any surplus value against the draft-pick cost. From an outside perspective, I don't think that they are close enough to cough up the pick, but the team may well feel differently.

Frank (Singapore): Hi Daniel, What currently is the most intriguing Rumor still out there?

Daniel Rathman: Whoa, Singapore — I believe that's the first time I've answered a question from thousands of miles away from North America!

The Bourn situation is the most intriguing at this point, especially with Justin Upton no longer making headlines, but it's also interesting to look at teams that seemingly will need to make trades before Opening Day yet have been quiet to this point. The Diamondbacks, for example, have indicated that they won't be moving any of their remaining outfielders, but a look at their roster (http://www.mlbdepthcharts.com/2012/10/arizona-diamondbacks-2012-13-offseason.html) suggests that there are still too many players for 25 spots.

Considering that Hideki Okajima led-off today's Roundup, roster-based speculation like that might be the best we've got.

Nick (Phoenix): Is Andy Dirks good enough to hold down the LF spot in Detroit or will we see Garcia or Castellanos take over for him?

Daniel Rathman: Thanks for the question, Nick.

I like Andy Dirks as a part-time player, but am skeptical that he'll continue to do enough damage against left-handed pitching to warrant an everyday role. So, yes, I do think that he's an adequate option for the lion's share of at-bats, but that should leave plenty of openings for Garcia (or another right-handed-hitting outfielder) to contribute at that position.

Carlester (Seaboard): Closers are on the mind today. Thoughts on how the Jays' and Angels' closer situations play out?

Daniel Rathman: There was a story yesterday or the day before that Ryan Madson could miss the first week of the season, so Ernesto Frieri might get the ninth-inning job on Opening Day, but Madson (if healthy) should get the opportunities the rest of the way. In Toronto, given how well Casey Janssen performed last year — and his success against both righty and lefty batters — I'd consider him the favorite.

GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): I read that Harold Baines has Viciedo working on a little leg kick, a timing device to keep his weight back and keep him from lunging at outside junk. What are your thoughts about adjustments like that in general and about this one in particular? When he waits for his pitch, Tank is a beast. I have visions of 50 homers and an MVP dancing in my head!

Daniel Rathman: Thanks for the question, GrinnellSteve.

Viciedo certainly has light-tower power, so any improvement in his plate discipline — whether mechanical or approach-driven — could make him a very valuable hitter. I'd temper those MVP expectations, but if he can somehow manage a 40-point hike in OBP, that could be just as important to the White Sox as an uptick in home runs.

Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): It recently came out that Houston and Oakland were discussing a possible Jed Lowrie trade that would have sent Chris Carter and a pitcher to Houston. Should we be glad that it fell through? I have to believe that Lowrie would command more than that at the deadline if he's healthy for the first four months of the season.

Daniel Rathman: It's hard to judge what a deal would have meant for each team without knowing all of the pieces involved, but a healthy Lowrie — given the dearth of productive hitters who can play a passable shortstop — could be an excellent trade chip.

A related question, from webberoo11, asked who the "young pitcher" from Oakland might have been. One of the "On the Outside Looking In" starting pitchers (http://www.mlbdepthcharts.com/2012/10/oakland-athletics-2012-13-offseason.html#.UQgmLInjkjE) might have made sense. Purely speculating, I'll say either Brad Peacock or Sonny Gray.

Fred (NYC): Lester and Buchholz were both once considered future aces. While that has yet to materialize, which one do you think is more likely to reach that lofty status?

Daniel Rathman: Lester was a 4.7 WARP pitcher in 2009, and while consistency is a big part of being an ace, he has at least touched that level of performance in the past. Last year was a major disappointment, but since Lester has at least shown that sort of ability, I'll take him over Buchholz.

Cal (cambridge): Tufts grad eh? Favorite somerville eatery?

Daniel Rathman: If you'd asked me this during my freshman year, I would have said Red Bones, without thinking twice. Now, though, I'll take Five Horses Tavern on Highland, both for the food and the beer selection. Toro Furioso tacos or the KFCGH if you go.

jimcal (Seattle): Thanks for the chat, Daniel. I enjoyed your work daily, aside from checking MLB Trade Rumor. As a one man show, how do you go by aggregating the information and presenting the one you feel is credible?

Daniel Rathman: Glad that you're enjoying it, jimcal.

As I said in my previous chat, the "Favorite" button on Twitter (to go with my addition to Twitter) is my best friend for the Roundup. Once I've got a set of relevant tweets on that list, I'll pick a few that stand out and run with them. Credibility isn't always easy to gauge, but, just to name a couple, Ken Rosenthal and well-connected beat writers are typically my go-to sources of information.

LoyalRoyal (Kansas): What do you anticipate the Yankees will do with their #5 starter spot? Signing, trade, from within? And, if the latter, is David Phelps a viable answer in your opinion. Thanks...

Daniel Rathman: I think Phelps showed enough last year to warrant an opportunity to take that job. He seems to be the preferred internal option, so barring a trade (and there haven't been any burning rumors lately), I'd expect him to get the nod. And I do believe that he has the talent to handle it adequately.

James (Cleveland): Will Francisco Lindor development into a top 10 fantasy SS in the future? Or should I look into drafting someone like Addison Russell in my dynasty league for insurance? Thanks.

Daniel Rathman: I'm not sure Lindor has enough power to profile as an elite fantasy player, at least in the standard 5x5 format. And it can't hurt to have both of them, right?

DC Johnny (The Capital): Thoughts on Jordan Zimmerman and his upside. Is he a potential #1 starter (obviously not ahead of SS), but in terms of stats or more of a #2?

Daniel Rathman: Zimmermann was a 3.5 WARP pitcher over 195 2/3 innings last year, so maintaining that level of performance over a slightly larger volume of work would have made him a number-one caliber pitcher. If he can handle that while staying healthy — or find a way to miss a few more bats — I think that he can quietly become a legitimate ace behind Strasburg.

Howard (Freeport, ME): What pitcher can you see taking the step up to frontline starter this year?

Daniel Rathman: Zimmermann is one candidate, as I said in the previous answer. My second choice would be Brett Anderson.

Brett (Denver): Good big league player comp for David Dahl?

Daniel Rathman: I'm not usually a fan of comps, Brett, because I prefer to look at each player in terms of individual talent. Based on the scouting report in our Rockies Top 10 list, it sounds as though Dahl has the skills to become a top-10 center fielder, perhaps a bit more than that, and contribute in all phases of the game.

On that note, I appreciate all of the prospect questions, but would strongly suggest that you redirect those to one of our prospect team members. Follow all of them on Twitter (handles here: https://twitter.com/hudsonbelinsky/status/294838352522403840), and don't miss Jason Parks' chat a week from today.

Bob Babooey (NYC): What do you expect from Chase Headley in 2013?

Daniel Rathman: I think he'll take a small step backward, but will still be one of the most productive third basemen in the league. Some of the mammoth blasts that he hit last year suggest that the power outburst is legitimate, and the tightened dimensions at Petco can only help his cause in that regard. I wouldn't rule out another five-win season.

Jeff (Missouri): Any news on how Hosmer looks to bounce back this year? Has he been working on pushing the ball to the opposite field more? Any insight would help. Thanks for the chat!

Daniel Rathman: I haven't seen much on that topic, Jeff, but this article from FOX Sports Kansas City might be of interest: http://www.foxsportskansascity.com/01/25/13/Hosmer-turns-to-family-for-hitting-tips/landing_royals.html?blockID=854693&feedID=5116.

We'll see if the change in hitting coaches, from Kevin Seitzer to Jack Maloof, makes any difference, or if Hosmer can make an adjustment on his own.

tweezer (utah): where is Rick Porcello headed and for whom?

Daniel Rathman: It's hard to say at this point, tweezer, but we seem to get at least a couple of rumors involving Porcello every week. I do think he'll be traded, but could only speculate about the destination. To mention a couple of teams, the Mariners and Padres might make sense.

Paul (DC): Will Mark Reynolds numbers continue to drop as more teams realize he really is blind, and adjust their approach to piching him accordingly?

Daniel Rathman: That article by Sam Miller (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/a/19409) is one of my favorites. I think teams have largely realized that there are holes in Reynolds' strike-zone judgment already, so I wouldn't expect him to be exposed more than he has been already (which, of course, isn't saying much considering his strikeout résumé).

Martin K. (Denver): Name a couple players you expect to take a big step forward this year?

Daniel Rathman: I've already mentioned two pitchers, so I'll take a couple of hitters here. Jason Kipnis and Desmond Jennings are my favorite breakout candidates.

webberoo11 (Las Vegas): For a while it looked to be a sure thing that Bud Norris was going to be dealt. What do you think his chances are now?

Daniel Rathman: The Astros still have three years of team control remaining with Norris, so they're not necessarily in a big hurry to move him. I think that teams in the market for him may be more inclined to use him as a setup man, which could contribute to a value mismatch in negotiations, since Houston has been using him as a starter. Things can change with one phone call, but I'd guess he'll stay with the Astros until at least this year's trade deadline.

Charlie (Bethesda): Any rumors worth rounding up today?

Daniel Rathman: I've got a Roundup due tonight, so I sure hope so!

Daniel Rathman: On that note, thanks for all of the questions today. I apologize for not getting to all of them, but look forward to doing this again soon. Hope to see you in the queue next time!


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