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Chat: Ben Lindbergh

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday February 19, 2013 1:00 PM ET chat session with Ben Lindbergh.

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Ask the E-in-C.

Ben Lindbergh: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining me and my BP chat co-pilot for today, Holly. Yeah, that was a gratuitous pet photo. Deal with it. Everyone else on the internet is doing it.

Dexter Musgrove (Louisville, Ky): odds of Dusty Baker overusing Oraldis Chapman...and is he safer as a starter for Baker than as a reliever.

Ben Lindbergh: I'm not worried about Dusty overusing Chapman. He's certainly safer as a reliever--we already know he can excel in that role--and I am a bit worried about his transition to the rotation, but that has little to do with his manager. I'm more worried about his makeup and repertoire. Harry Pavlidis will have more on that at BP later this week.

Oraldis Chapman, by the way, is Aroldis Chapman-branded toothpaste, available only in Cuba.

Al (Denver): Would J.Cueto be a good start for building my fantasy pitching staff? I don't view Cueto as a #1, but if I surround him with a couple more #2 or #3 types (say Gallardo, Latos, or Morrow) I should be ok, yes?

Ben Lindbergh: Gosh, so many fantasy questions. You people do realize Paul Sporer and Jason Collette did chats last week, right? And you're asking me fantasy questions?

Cueto is a great start for a pitching staff in actual baseball. In fantasy, well...not as much, because he's not going to get you a lot of strikeouts. (Do they have groundball leagues?) That said, you could do a lot worse, since he doesn't give up a lot of baserunners or allow a lot of runs, and he plays for a good team. Yes, you'll be fine.

By the way, I screwed up the link to the gratuitous picture of my dog. Let's try that again: Holly.

Mitch (DC): Rosenthal, Bundy, or Rondon? Which makes the biggest impact in 2013?

Ben Lindbergh: Fantasy-wise? Rondon, I guess. Not that I'm completely confident in his ability to keep closing all year, but Bundy might not be up until much later in the year (and even then, probably in the bullpen), and Rosenthal is likely a late-inning reliever too. Rondon seems like the best bet to get saves.

Tim (KC): How long before the masses are bashing mgmt. for dumping W.Myers?

Ben Lindbergh: August? By then, it could be clear that Myers was more than major-league ready and the Royals aren't going to make the playoffs.

Dan Rozenson (Washington, DC): About how many wins would you say the Diamondbacks have gained/lost for the upcoming season with all the offseason moves they have made?

Ben Lindbergh: Man, I don't know. The thing with the Diamondbacks is that I don't like most of the moves they've made this winter, but I still think they're going to be pretty good. I'll say they pick up a few wins, but not enough to make the playoffs. Really looking forward to talking to Doug Thorburn about the D-Backs on our Arizona Effectively Wild team preview podcast in a couple weeks.

dianagram (VORGville): So what kind of prospect is Holly? She looks like she is a 8 runner but a 2 arm, and probably can't swing the bat at all.

Ben Lindbergh: Holly has a 7 food-finding tool and an 8 ability to make you go "Aww." That's essentially her entire skill set, but those two tools in tandem create a sky-high ceiling for consuming calories.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Who makes the biggest impact ,this year,real world Profar or Tavares ?Who would you want on your team the next 5 years ?

Ben Lindbergh: I'd bet against either making a big impact this year, but for 2013, I'll take Taveras, just because I think there's a better chance that the guys ahead of him will get hurt. Next five years, still Taveras, but only because he's a bit older and theoretically a little close to his physical prime. Career value, possibly Profar.

justarobert (Santa Clara): Since we're on fantasy questions... Were you the person who played in the idiosyncratic two-person fantasy league? If so, can you describe the rules? If not, can you make some up?

Ben Lindbergh: I think Sam Miller is the one in the two-person fantasy league, and I want to know the rules as much as you do. He's chatting at BP on Friday, so be sure to ask him then. Or now--you can submit questions in advance.

MikeyVoges (Cincinnati): Where can I find the drugs that Kevin Towers is on?

Ben Lindbergh: The drugs that make you a well-respected major-league general manager for almost two decades? Yeah, I wish I knew where to find those, too.

jharrison3 (Illinois): Funniest quote you saw about the Campana trade?

Ben Lindbergh: Everything in Colin Wyers' Twitter timeline.

brianincbus (Cape Coral, FL): Hi Ben, Love the podcast! Was offered Kemp for my Chris Sale in a weekly h2h points league. Accept? Thanks, Brian

Ben Lindbergh: Yes. Sale scares me even a little more than most pitchers, which is already a lot. Kemp averaged 159 games in the four seasons before 2012, so I'm not too down on his durability yet.

Jefferey Loria (Atlanta Renegadin'): Where does Trevor Rosenthal's future lie, in both the short term and long-term... the rotation or the bullpen?

Ben Lindbergh: In the short term, bullpen, I think--I'd expect Shelby Miller to lock up a rotation spot, which wouldn't really leave room for Rosenthal unless Garcia can't go. In the long term, I think he's certainly capable of starting, and probably will, but he might look so dominant in relief (as he did last October) that Matheny gets used to the idea of having him there and grooms him as Motte's successor.

K.A. (NC): Do you think the Indians can cobble together enough pitching to contend this year?

Ben Lindbergh: No, but I think they've improved to the point that they could luck into a Wild Card spot if absolutely everything breaks their way.

Kai (SLO): can Colby Rasmus finally put his tools to use and have a breakout season along the lines of 280/30hr/90rbi?

Ben Lindbergh: Well, put it this way--PECOTA projects 11 players to hit 30 homers or more this season. A 30-homer projection isn't something I'd take lightly. He could of course, and many more surprising things than that will happen this baseball season, but I'm not really expecting a Rasmus breakout.

dianagram (VORGville): Given their lack of anything resembling a major league OFer, will the Mets 2013 OF go down as one of the worst, on both sides of the ball, in history?

Ben Lindbergh: I think Mike Ferrin might be writing something about this for us soon. When you look at the names, it's tempting to conclude that this will be one of the worst outfields ever, but I'd have to do some research (or rather, Mike will) before I'd be confident in saying that. There have been an awful lot of baseball players and teams. There's almost always someone worse (and better).

boatman44 (Liverpool): Ben, do you see Cleveland competeing enough to make the division interesting come September?

Ben Lindbergh: Because I'm getting quite a few Cleveland questions--I wrote a bit about the Indians, and why I'm not picking them as a "surprise team", yesterday. Have a hard time seeing them as much more than a .500 team.

coach53 (Ct): New to site.....is there any draft guidelines we need to follow?

Ben Lindbergh: Welcome to BP! But I'm not entirely sure what you're asking. Fantasy draft strategies? Uh...don't use your first pick on a pitcher? Don't draft closers early? Can you tell I haven't played fantasy for a few years?

We have an excellent fantasy stuff who'd be happy to help you with any strategy questions via email, on Twitter, or in BP chats.

coach53 (CT): Hey, Hoping for big things this year with BP......been struggling with fantasy baseball for the past few years. Here is our scoring, R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG--- W, S, ERA, Ks, WHIP Trying to find out who to keep. here is our roster: Hamilton or Pujols? Billy Butler Carl Crawford Josh Hamilton Corey Hart Derek Jeter Adam Jones Miguel Montero Michael Morse Albert Pujols Matt Wieters Kevin Youkilis Ben Zobrist Josh Beckett Tyler Clippard R.A. Dickey Ubaldo Jimenez Josh Johnson Hiroki Kuroda Mat Latos Tim Lincecum Anibal Sanchez C.J. Wilson

Ben Lindbergh: Oh gosh, so many names. I'll say Pujols and hope that you're not basing your entire fantasy strategy on my snap judgments.

John (Napa): Does Daric Barton have anything left in him?

Ben Lindbergh: Organs. And whatever he ate for breakfast.

justarobert (Santa Clara): Has there ever been a MLB hitting coach whose primary position as a professional player was pitcher? Or vice versa?

Ben Lindbergh: There have certainly been plenty of MLB hitting coaches who hit like pitchers, but I'm not aware of any who actually were primarily pitchers (or vice versa). I just asked my predecessor, Steven Goldman, who knows more about baseball history than I do, and he couldn't think of anyone offhand. If anyone knows of any, please pipe up.

MJ (Pittsburgh): Thoughts on two Pirates corner OF, Starling Marte and Travis Snider? Is this finally the year Snider produces? Can Marte have a productive 20-20 season this year?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't expect much out of Snider. PECOTA says .264 TAv with middling defense, and I don't say otherwise. That's not awful, but it's below-average in an outfield corner. R.J. Anderson wrote about Marte today, so I'd recommend reading what he had to say.

Kai (SLO): can you give your evaluation of recently signed international prospects Luiz Gohara (SEA) and Jose Castillo (TB)?

Ben Lindbergh: I really can't, unfortunately. I haven't seen either, and I'm not trained to scout mature professional players, let alone 16-year-old ones. I can, however, refer you to what Jason Parks wrote about Gohara here.

Alex (Anaheim): With attendance figures as high as they are, why would Hamilton waste his breath on what constitutes a true baseball town?

Ben Lindbergh: Professional athletes always have and always will say silly things. And really, we should be happy when it happens, since the alternative is the usual stale, recycled quotes. The fan experience would be worse if every player's public presence were as polished and uninteresting as, say, Derek Jeter's.

Mike (Cubdom): Theo & Jed are doing things right, right? Tear it down, build it up. I can be patient, or course I can - I'm a Cub fan, but I want to know there's a pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow.

Ben Lindbergh: I saw no particular reason to be pessimistic when they took over, and nothing they've done since has made me change my mind. The Cubs have certain institutional advantages that most teams would kill for, and there's no reason why they can't compete in time with a competent front office.

Justin (Chicago, IL): One name I can think of for the "primary position as a professional player was pitcher? Or vice versa" question is Dave Duncan. He was a hitter as a player but a great pitching coach.

Ben Lindbergh: Oh, of course, yes. Was primarily trying to think of pitchers who became hitting coaches. Catchers-turned-pitching coaches have been a bit more common, starting (maybe) with Wilbert Robinson.

Frank (Singapore): Ben, Francisco Liriano - Jonathan Sanchez - Jose Tabata; which Bucco will have the best comeback season of the 3? thanks, Frank

Ben Lindbergh: Tabata, I suppose. Probably best to bet on the young guy, where comebacks are concerned.

dianagram (VORGville): Holly is gene-spliced with a human, and becomes a MLBer. Which player is she most like?

Ben Lindbergh: Francoeur. Good makeup, poor plate discipline.

Shawn (CT): All-time favorite player to watch and why?

Ben Lindbergh: Mike Mussina is up there. So many pitches, such great control. Really was a pleasure to watch him work. Also just a generally well-groomed guy. Grooming is important.

I hope what figures to be an endless debate about his Hall of Fame credentials doesn't tarnish those memories for me.

Kai (SLO): What are your thoughts on the following arms, as far as ceiling and likelihood to reach it: Taylor Guerrieri, Tyrell Jenkins, Victor Sanchez and Jose Castillo

Ben Lindbergh: I'm getting a ton of prospect questions from Kai, among others, and while I truly appreciate that you thought me worthy of answering them, I feel I'd be doing a disservice by not redirecting you to the far superior sources of prospect knowledge at BP. I'm not a scout, and I don't get to a ton of minor-league games, so much of my prospect knowledge comes from A) looking at stats, which offer an incomplete picture of minor-league players' potential, and B) reading the work more scouting-inclined prospect writers produce, at BP and elsewhere.

I could just rehash what I've read or tell you what the stats say, but you'd get a more complete picture by going to a primary source. Jason Parks, Nick Faleris, Mark Anderson, Chris Mellen, Jason Cole & Co. are always willing to answer questions promptly via email and on Twitter.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): What's it like behind the scenes at Baseball Confidential? Any fun stories?

Ben Lindbergh: There's not a lot of time for fun stories when I pay a visit to the MLB Network studios, since it basically boils down to going over my notes, talking to Brian Kenny for a few minutes, and then going back out into beautiful, sunny Secaucus, New Jersey as I make my way back to Manhattan. Everyone is very friendly, and "Hey, I was on TV!" is a fun story for me, but that's not as entertaining for anyone else.

One thing I will say--the area where all the Clubhouse Confidential magic happens is right by the area where people with access to the entire MLB Network TV archives cut clips and such. I always want to press my face up against the glass and watch what they're doing. Think of the GIFs I could make!

Charlie Manuel (the hills of West Virginia): I'm working on my starting outfield for this season. Who should I play? 500 ABs to Ben Revere? How about Domonic Brown? John Mayberry Jr.? Is Delmon Young better than any of these guys? Where in the world is Shane Victorino?

Ben Lindbergh: The only thing I'm fairly confident of is that Delmon is probably not better than any of those guys. Brown and Mayberry can platoon. Shane Victorino has gone to a happier place: the Red Sox clubhouse.

Doug (Brooklyn): What do you see out of Medlen in 2013? He seems to be one of the most polarizing players this draft season after his Greg Maddux impersonation in the summer of 2012

Ben Lindbergh: I like Medlen. Not to keep up the Maddux act, but to be a solid mid-rotation guy. I was actually surprised by how optimistic PECOTA was: projected to be the 22nd-best pitcher, by WARP.

ShutoLover (Charlotte, NC): Ben, caught you talking about Darvish yesterday on MLB but missed part of it. Why is PECOTA so amped about him this year? Just general settling in?

Ben Lindbergh: Darvish outpitched his peripherals last year, and he had a great strikeout rate. The system is still factoring in his excellent NPB stats, so it expects him to come a little closer to those in his second season acclimating to the American League. If PECOTA could see his stuff, it would probably be even more optimistic.

Shawnykid23 (My Desk): Am I the only concerned that Mike Trout was on the Pablo Sandoval diet in the offseason?

Ben Lindbergh: I was asked about this on the radio the other day, and I said I wasn't concerned. I don't really think it's the Sandoval diet--most of the weight Trout put on was muscle, it seems, and he'll lose some of it this spring. The expected career trajectory for Trout has always been that he'd lose some speed and add some power as he aged and bulked up. Maybe that's happening already, but it's not necessarily a bad thing--maybe a few more homers makes up for fewer steals, infield hits, and fly balls caught. For now, he'll still be freakishly fast for someone his size, and amazing at baseball.

Jeffrey Loria (Atlanta Renegadin'): Trevor Bauer- bearish or bullish? You buying the potential elite K/9 and above average ERA/WHIP, or are you selling on the BB/9 and location problems?

Ben Lindbergh: Pretty bullish. I think he'll figure out some of the stuff that held him back a bit last season.

Shawn (CT): In your opinion, which SP has the best "stuff" in the majors?

Ben Lindbergh: Oh, I don't think you can go wrong saying "Stephen Strasburg."

Leonys Martin (Surprise): Will I be the starting Centerfielder for the football town Rangers?

Ben Lindbergh: I have a real soft spot for Craig Gentry--I wrote a whole article about him!--but I do think Martin will end up getting the bulk of the time, if only because of his handedness.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): So discuss the systematic and comprehensive anti-Whitesox bias at BPro. I'm not from Chicago, so from a distance I just assumed it was all a simple Ozzie Guillen thing, but 2013 is shedding new light. Elucidate.

Ben Lindbergh: I thought Dave Cameron did a good job of explaining why the White Sox might have outperformed their projections on the whole over the past several seasons. I've written about their ability to keep their players healthy. That, plus a little luck and the usual variation in team performance explains the apparent trend satisfactorily to me.

nik (PA): Are people writing off the Phillies too son? When healthy they can still be a threat in the division.

Ben Lindbergh: Define "writing off." If people are saying there's no chance that they could compete, then yes. If they're saying they have a 28.6 percent chance to make the playoffs, as our Playoff Odds are? Then no, I think that's fair.

Barry (Bloomington): Is there a snowball's chance in hell that Edwin Encarnacion comes anywhere close to replicating his 2012 season? He was the #4 overall hitter in my league behind Braun, Miggy, and Trout. Please offer some perspective on his apparent anomaly.

Ben Lindbergh: I'm more optimistic than I am about the typical anomalous statistical performance. He made some adjustments to his swing that were intended to make him a better opposite-field hitter, and he was one. Obviously, I'd expect a little regression, but I'm not sure it was fundamentally fluky.

justarobert (Santa Clara): Do you think there are any synergies or anti-synergies in putting defenders with excellent range at adjacent positions, e.g. the oft-described "three CF" outfield? Or is their total defensive value simply the sum of the parts?

Ben Lindbergh: Probably depends on the players and the outfield--there could be some parks where it's possible to "waste" someone's range, if all the fielders can cover a ton of ground. And I think certain outfielders complement each other better than others, depending on the direction in which their greatest range lies. On the whole, though, I think a "three CF" outfield is a big benefit to a team.

justarobert (Santa Clara): What would you like to see happen with the _____AtBat Twitter bot family in 2013?

Ben Lindbergh: I'd like to see some for hitters who have really boring at-bats.

jharrison3 (Illinois): Do you think Starlin Castro will outperform PECOTA's projections for him? The system can't see the changes he made at the plate with his discipline and I feel like that could lead to better numbers than what were projected.

Ben Lindbergh: Always makes sense to keep in mind factors that the system can't see, though there's a risk to that, too--some of them can be deceptive. If pressed to take the over or under on PECOTA's projected .268 TAv for Castro, I'd take the over.

Chris (LA): speaking of possible flukes, Brandon Moss - over/under 30 HRs.

Ben Lindbergh: Under. Platooning him so strictly allows him to post a pretty triple-slash line, but it also cuts down on his counting stats.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Ben,was Yu Darvish's swoon in mid season down to the Texan heat,he was money in April, part of May and September, but not nearly as good the rest of the season ?

Ben Lindbergh: Don't know if it had to do with the heat. It could have--it's pretty cool in Hokkaido, where he used to pitch. Regardless, I think the dominant Darvish of September/October is closer to what we'll see this season.

In other news, my girlfriend is distraught, having just discovered that they're doing away with the bullpen landline. May have been her favorite thing about baseball.

Matt (Austin): Hey, Ben! Thanks for the chat. I always appreciate your BP pieces. Do you like the approach the Orioles took this off-season? They seem to be willing to take their time and build from within. What is your take on them?

Ben Lindbergh: Thanks, Matt. I always appreciate people who appreciate my BP pieces. I'm torn about the Orioles' inactivity this offseason. On the one hand, I expect them to regress hard, so part of me feels like they should have done something, anything (and with that, I put on a Todd Rundgren song), to try to avoid that. On the other hand, they could have done so many things to make matters worse, and there are reasons to expect some improvement from within.

Chris (LA): well, the trade of Chris Carter to Houston probably makes Moss the full-time 1B in Oakland. Don't see any platoon mate for him on that roster.

Ben Lindbergh: There's still Barton (he of the internal organs I mentioned earlier), Lowrie, Rosales, Seth Smith...even Michael Taylor and Shane Peterson have been taking grounders there recently, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee. It seems like Oakland is still hoping to avoid having Moss face too many lefties.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Any plans to get your mom more involved at BP? Maybe an "Ask Ben's Mom" segment?

Ben Lindbergh: I appreciated all her help with the Arbitration Showdown series, but nothing else on the horizon. I'm not sure she'd make as good a podcast guest as Kevin Goldstein's mom.

Bryan (Commack): Who is the better value for my last keeper? Cueto in the 8th round or Jordan Zimmermann in the 13th round? Am I crazy for thinking that Zimmermann has a lot of room left to grow off his 2012 (2 years removed from TJ surgery, only 1 other capable offense in the division, and regularly pitching against other #3 starters (more wins potential)) while Cueto probably peaked last season and is due for regression?

Ben Lindbergh: I wrote about Zimmermann at length in my commentary on last week's mock arb case and concluded that he does have room to improve. Not sure I'd take him over Cueto, though--Cueto may have peaked, but it's a hell of a peak. If Zimmermann were more of a strikeout guy (as I wrote in that article, I think he should be), I might keep him instead, but since he's not now, I'd probably pick Cueto.

Bob (work): BA has their top 100 out today. I beleive Jason said the BP 101 could be out this week. Anything more definitive?

Ben Lindbergh: It's really dependent on when Amazon starts shipping Baseball Prospectus 2013, since we can't release it before the book comes out. The book's official release date is a week from today (by the way, please buy the book), but it often comes out early (sometimes even a week early). As soon as we start hearing that it's made its way out into the world, we can release the list. And no, you can't just pretend that you got your annual already because you want us to release the Top 101. It will be out very soon, and we'll set up a chat with Jason to coincide with its appearance.

Trent (Oakland, CA): Are you buying what N.Franklin is selling? Huge weight gain based on his diet, and with that does he indeed creep up the prospect potential list? Can those doubles indeed turn info homeruns?

Ben Lindbergh: 6,500 calories a day seems a little drastic, doesn't it? I mean, sure, nothing wrong with bulking up a bit and trying to add power, but that comes naturally with physical maturation, exercise, and a healthy diet. It seems like trying to accelerate/force that process by stuffing yourself might run some risk of backfiring. I can see the "Franklin says he got too bulky" stories from next season now.

Ben Lindbergh: This has been great fun, folks. I've got a call coming up and a couple things to tend to before then, so I'll have to end this here. Thank you, as always, for reading and responding to our work at BP. It's immensely gratifying for all of us.


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