BP author and editor Daniel Rathman stops by to discuss the news from spring training.
Daniel Rathman: Hey, everyone!
Hope y'all are having a better day than Jordan Lyles: http://tinyurl.com/b38xade.
Let's get this thing started...
Spirou (Montreal): Your take on Zack Wheeler's debut ? I thouhgt he was very good although command was a bit off.Fasball looks faster than the radar gun readings.
Daniel Rathman: Thanks for kicking us off, Spirou.
I wouldn't put too much stock into an early-spring outing, but to the very small extent that results matter, it's tough to argue with two shutout innings. Minor command problems in late February are not a concern. The thing to watch with Wheeler will be the polish of his changeup; once he gets that third pitch in order, he'll be ready to succeed in the majors.
JR (New Hampshire): Why is PECOTA so down on Gio Gonzalez? It doesn't seem to give him credit for any improvements in his underlying numbers last year or his move to the NL?
Daniel Rathman: It's difficult to pinpoint PECOTA's exact concerns, JR, but someone like Colin Wyers might be able to offer a better explanation. From a quick glance at his projections, it seems that PECOTA just isn't buying the breakout (though it does still like him as a 2.3 WARP contributor), which came on the heels of two rather similar seasons. If Gio can prove PECOTA wrong and sustain the improved control, I think you'll see a much rosier projection for 2014.
grandslam28 (Chicago): Any chance Brett Jackson opens the season with the Cubs & who would be pushed out of the lineup if he does?
Daniel Rathman: It's possible, grandslam28, but the key for Jackson is finding a way to reduce his strikeout rate, which surged to 41.5 percent when he was promoted to the majors last year. There have been some reports from Arizona about Jackson retooling his swing, and the Cubs may feel that he's better off honing that in Triple-A than in the majors. If Epstein and Sveum decide to challenge him in the bigs, he'll either compete for time with Nate Schierholtz or put the wheels in motion on a trade involving Alfonso Soriano.
Chandrathan (Margaritaville Cincinnati): What is your opinion/projection for the Reds' OF Yorman Rodriquez?
Daniel Rathman: Jason Parks and the prospect team are much more qualified to answer this, and the Reds top 10 list is coming soon — it's fourth in line. For a bit of perspective, Kevin Goldstein called Rodriguez a lottery ticket in his rankings last year (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15854), and he had an OK showing for Low-A Dayton, so I'd imagine there's a good deal of optimism remaining, even if the risk remains high.
Adrian (Washington D.C.): What happed to the BP book tour? I really enjoyed seeing the crew at politics and prose in DC.
Daniel Rathman: We're focusing on ballpark events this year, Adrian, as our publisher has nixed the book tour for the time being. We'd love to see you join us at a game sometime this summer!
Al (Boston): M.Pineda - worth a stash in fantasy? Any hope he comes on to pitch mid-year 2013?
Daniel Rathman: In a redraft league, I'd consider Pineda as a late-round flier that you could stash on your DL and hope for the best. We recently heard that he's ahead of schedule and actually threw a 25-pitch (all-fastball) session the other day, so there is upside here. On the other hand, recovery from a labrum tear is difficult to project, so if you're inclined to gamble on a pitcher coming back from injury, someone like Danny Duffy or Cory Luebke (both Tommy John surgery victims) might be a better bet.
grandslam28 (Chicago): What do you think of this trade?
12 team NL Only keeper league 4X4
Kris Medlen $1 2014
Edwin Jackson $3 2014
Freddie Freeman $10 option year
Lucas Duda $1 option year
Daniel Rathman: I like the general idea of trying to sell high on Medlen, but Freeman — whom I like as a breakout candidate — is the only player in that return package that really piques my interest. If you're going to move on from Medlen, I'd try to find a better secondary piece.
The old professor (NYC): What do you make of the Marlins announcement that they will not extend Stanton's contract this year?
Daniel Rathman: I covered this in the Roundup today, but essentially, I think that the Marlins are hoping that the tensions that flared after their deal with the Blue Jays will eventually simmer down. Only time will tell whether Stanton will ever come around to the idea of staying in Miami long-term, but even though he's only a year away from arbitration, this isn't an ideal time to have those discussions.
Jimmy (Cali): CJ Cron - can/will he make an impact in 2014? Not much room for him now, but what does the future hold? Big power, and I'm wondering why he's fallen off seemingly most radars.
Daniel Rathman: I wouldn't say that Cron has falled off the radar, Jimmy, as Jason Parks put him third in the Angels system in his rankings earlier this winter (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19590). The trouble with Cron is that he has no defensive value, and with the pressure entirely on his bat, he needs to refine his hitting ability and breaking-pitch recognition. He could be a viable DH option for the Angels sometime next year, but power notwithstanding, he's not a sure thing.
JC (Chevy Chase, MD): What are your thoughts on Campana? Do you think he has a chance to break spring with ARI? I saw it as a bad sign that the young and rebuilding Cubs let him go so easily after the Hairston siging.
Daniel Rathman: Campana's just a pinch-runner with nice range in the outfield, but little other value. He's a 25th man for a team that values those two skills, and the Diamondbacks might, given that Jason Kubel isn't particularly nimble. However, I don't see a spot for Campana on Kirk Gibson's Opening Day roster; there are just far too many outfielders battling for spots, and even Willie Bloomquist is seemingly on the bubble: http://www.mlbdepthcharts.com/2012/10/arizona-diamondbacks-2012-13-offseason.html#.US0Lilo4Xzs.
GBSimons (Angers, Frances - at the moment): Daniel,"inverted W" is just a fancy way to say "M," right? Why is the former term used? It seems silly and a bit pretentious.
Daniel Rathman: Someone with scouting experience might have a better answer for this, but I believe that "inverted W" is used because it conveys the shape of the throwing arm more precisely. If you look at "inverted W" pitchers, in addition to being in the M-position, the arm is twisted around (such as in this photo of Brandon McCarthy: http://www.texasleaguers.com/storage/thumbnails/2927009-2374240-thumbnail.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1232084931852). Simply calling it an "M" leaves out a potentially critical component of the injury risk, if you believe that "inverted W" mechanics are problematic.
High Life Man (Avon, CT): When you think of The Face of MLB...what five ballplayers first come to mind?
Daniel Rathman: From a baseball business standpoint, that's an interesting question. The first five that jumped to mind were Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Trout.
Alex (Anaheim): I've heard losing Granderson is a devastating blow to the Yankees. I've also heard that it will be 30-odd games and that they will be fine. Which side do you believe?
Daniel Rathman: I don't think it's the end of the world, Alex, unless the injury somehow hinders Granderson's power-hitting for the rest of the season. PECOTA projects Granderson for 2.4 WARP, so shaving a month off his playing time only costs the Yankees about half a win, if they can find an adequate replacement. The biggest concern, for me, is whether they can find a left fielder with the ability to handle right-handed pitching, because Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera cannot. A short-term platoon partner might be the most sensible addition, if they choose to look outside of the organization; there's no need to press the panic button and deal for Soriano.
Kev (charlotte): are the braves a threat to the nationals or do you think washngiton will cruise to the east?
Daniel Rathman: The Braves are absolutely a threat, Kev, especially if Kris Medlen and Mike Minor can sustain their second-half performance. I think the Nationals are a few wins better at this point, with a rough projection of 96-66 for WSH and 93-69 for ATL, but one injury could tilt the balance the other way.
cal guy (cal): In your opinion, looking way down the road, which of the BP 101 prospect hitters and pitchers end up having the best careers?
Daniel Rathman: I'll go with Oscar Taveras and, taking a gamble on his recovery from elbow surgery, Lucas Giolito.
Charlie (Bethesda): So are you guys coming to Nats Park this year?
Daniel Rathman: I believe that's one of the events for which we are still sorting out the details. Assuming that it comes together, you'll be able to find the details via this page soon: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19546.
OBC2 (Covington, KY): My wife preordered the BP Annual last month on amazon, will it arrive on/before my birthday tomorrow?
Daniel Rathman: I believe that preorders started shipping late last week, so I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!
Jake (Chicago): Kyle Zimmer or Kevin Gausman in a dynasty league?
Daniel Rathman: I prefer Kevin Gausman, echoing our prospect team's opinion from the top 101 list, where Gausman ranked 13th and Zimmer 41st.
Theo Backer (Chi-town): Staying on the Cubs - is Junior Lake in any way, shape, or form an option for them at 3rd base? I've heard he's been working there, and with the Stewart injury and overall uselessness I say, why not - you say?
Daniel Rathman: I don't see Lake as a long-term regular, but injuries and other circumstances might conspire to give him a chance at some point this year. He didn't exactly dominate Double-A last year, though, so I'd temper short-term expectations.
Cole B. (Brooklyn): Which teams do you feel had the best and worst offseason?
Daniel Rathman: I'll take the Nationals for the best and the Diamondbacks for the worst — and it really boils down to Mike Rizzo continuing to operate under the plan of short-term, high-upside deals (like Dan Haren), while Kevin Towers didn't seem to have a coherent strategy. All of us who are baffled by Arizona's revamped outfield might be proven wrong, but it's difficult to see how the D'backs are a better team now than they were in October.
grandslam28 (Chicago): Leonys Martin, thought?
Daniel Rathman: I think he's got a shot to be a nice everyday center fielder. Guessing he'll push Craig Gentry for considerable playing time in short order, and is a big reason why the Rangers never became serious players for Michael Bourn.
cal guy (stuck in cal): If Myers absolutely tears it up this spring do you think he still gets sent down due to cost saving considerations?
Daniel Rathman: I think it would take a combination of an enormous spring and a couple of injuries for Wil Myers to make the Rays on Opening Day, both because of the Super Two and free-agent clock elements, and because Andrew Friedman indicated last week that he thinks Myers still has adjustments to make in the upper minors.
Matt Joyce should be able to hold down the fort in left field, especially with a slew of platoon options available to Joe Maddon.
Matt (Cleveland): I've read conflicting reports about where Bauer will start the year. Will a strong spring put him in the Tribe's rotation?
Daniel Rathman: He seems to have a legitimate chance, with Carlos Carrasco and Scott Kazmir representing the biggest obstacles. If he can improve his command, he certainly has the talent to win that competition.
Kai (Slo): What is the probability the nats keep Nate karns as a starter? Or is he destined for the bullpen even though he was their minor league pitcher of the year?
Daniel Rathman: Keep an eye out for the Nationals top prospect list in the next couple of weeks, where Jason Parks should be able to provide a more informed answer to this. That being said, the Nats are low on upper-minors starters, so I'd expect Karns to get every opportunity to remain a rotation option.
Jay (Madison): Do you think J. Gyorko starts at 2b for the Pads on opening day? Are you a believer in his bat and ability to stick at 2b?
Daniel Rathman: I'm a bigger believer in his bat than in his glove at 2B, but with 3B occupied by Chase Headley, the Padres will give him a shot to prove that he can handle the keystone. I'll tentatively say that Logan Forsythe is the favorite for Opening Day, but that could change in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on Jason Martinez's daily Minor League Update for the latest on that battle.
Joe Maddon (TB): Taylor Guerrieri stand a chance of becoming a frontline starter for me?
Daniel Rathman: A few years down the road, sure. If Matt Moore (who is locked up through 2019, if the club options in his extension are exercised) breaks out as expected and sticks around, he and Guerrieri could form one of the league's best 1-2 tandems come 2016-2017.
Alek (New York): What is the Mets outfield going to look like on opening day?
Daniel Rathman: Essentially as it looks right now, as frightening a thought as that might seem. It seems that Alderson is content with his current outfield, after whiffing on Michael Bourn and Justin Upton, and it makes little sense to ship out a prospect for short-term help in a rebuilding year.
grandslam28 (Chicago): Any chance Nolan Arenado wins the third base job?
Daniel Rathman: I'll give him about a 25% chance to emerge with the gig on Opening Day, and possibly better than that if he improves his day-to-day effort level, something that he was dinged for last year. Arenado certainly has the talent to be an everyday option at third base, and Chris Nelson won't stand in the way for long.
TGisriel (Baltimore): I got an e-mail from Amazon that my book shipped today!
Daniel Rathman: Excellent news — to a speedy arrival and happy reading!
Daniel Rathman: And with that, I've gotta run. This was a fun hour, and I'll be back again later this spring. Thanks for all the questions!