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Chat: Sam Miller

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday May 24, 2013 2:00 PM ET chat session with Sam Miller.

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Ask Mr. Miller.

Sam Miller: Hi gang. Lots of good questions. Keep them coming! Preferably questions that I would know something about and, barring that, preferably questions that I can spin off into an article topic, because goodness knows I could use some of those. Let's go!

Ryan (El Segundo): When will the Dodgers call up Yasiel Puig and should they ahve done so already?

Sam Miller: I don't think the Ethier kerfuffle is likely to be permanent, and I don't think they're likely to trade Ethier before they fire Mattingly, so there's still no room in the outfield. As to the question of whether he's ready: I know it's common to point out that, even in his on-fire state, he's got a little Francoeur in him and so maybe he won't adjust well to major-league pitching. This isn't an argument I'm much in agreement with. It seems to me that the tools that tend to distinguish quad-A players are Power+Patience, combined with nothing else. Puig's not that guy. He's aggressive and he squares things up. That's not something that I think will be more of a problem now than it will be in three months, or three years, or 10 years; he'll either hit through it (like some/many have) or he won't. If not for the blockage in the outfield, I'd be perfectly comfortable putting him in a big league lineup.

KenT (Hollister): how is the Barry Zito vesting option watch going?

Sam Miller: Zito's back down to 5.63 innings per start; if he makes 32, that gets him to only 180. He's never had 200 inning as a Giant, and this is why. On the bright side, he's been the Giants' second-best starter. Is that the bright side? It says here that it's the bright side but it's so cold and dank on this side.

Matt Trueblood (Fridley, MN): I've got five shortstops born over the course of six months, September 1989-March 1990. Take contract status out, but considering all else, how do you rank them for the short and the long term? Andrelton Simmons, Ruben Tejada, Didi Gregorius, Jean Segura, Starlin Castro.

Sam Miller: Short: Castro, Segura, Gregorius, Simmons, Tejada
Long: Castro, Segura, Simmons, Gregorius, Tejada

rileybreck (Earth): Ignoring solos, what song has the best drums ever? Past 20 years?

Sam Miller: Well I don't know anything about drums/drumming/etc., and so the best drums ever are whatever I hear when I pay attention. Seriously, those guys (drummers) are amazing! Ignore the rest of the song and listen to the drums and it's just whoa. (Same goes for everybody else in the band except the singer, who is usually a charlatan.)

The reason I asked *you* this, Riley, is because I was secretly hoping for confirmation that No One Knows by queens of the stone age truly has insane insane drums. So that would have been my answer. But right now I'm listening to The 15th by Wire and the drums are pretty cool. Pretty cool indeed.

zacharylevine (The BP break room): On the podcast the other day, you guys didn't mention my favorite form of constant rookie hazing. They make the rookies catch the ceremonial first pitches from the sponsors and it's so awkward. If it's like the governor or something, they get a legit player, but if you're just some sponsor or won it in a contest, you're throwing to a fifth outfielder and then have to stand there while he signs a ball that you don't even want. The same rookies have to do it over and over, often multiple times before the same game. I don't have a question. -Z

Sam Miller: Good insight! Thanks Zachary.

Fair time to point out that Jason Woj pinged me and said "I just this morning listened to you compare Puig to Francoeur on EW!" Which makes me bashful that I'm trotting out repeat comparisons that I didn't even remember. But it makes me feel somewhat good that I'm consistent, because otherwise my opinions start to feel incredibly arbitrary from day to day.

JW (Glendale): Favorite magazine writer ever? Favorite magazine piece ever? (If you'll let me make the questions harder, you don't get to say: Gay Talese, Richard Ben Cramer, Janet Malcolm, David Foster Wallace, or John McPhee.)

Sam Miller: But it's John McPhee. John McPhee is the best magazine writer ever.

Favorite magazine piece ever was Michael Lewis on the California recall, back in ~2002 I think. Actually, favorite magazine piece ever was maybe William Finnegan on the Zetas, the organized-crime group in Mexico. And if I can't say McPhee, I'll say Finnegan.

Nathan Aderhold (Tustin): Resin bag or rosin bag? And how did Michael Kohn not freak out when a dude was charging towards him at full speed?

Sam Miller: "Rosin bag -- never resin." --SABR style guide: http://sabr.org/about/sabr-style-guide

I touched a rosin bag the other day and was shocked by how sticky it made my hands. I had to shake a player's hand a few minutes later and was very embarrassed.

Tim E (WBL, MN): Finish this sentence; If Miguel Sano sticks at 3rd, he will be a ___, if he moves to 1st or Right Field he will be___.

Sam Miller: If Miguel Sano sticks at 3rd, he will be a third baseman. if he moves to 1st or Right Field he will be playing first base or right field.

Jensen (Los Gatos): Tommy Milone wasn't supposed to be able to do this, was he?

Sam Miller: You know, Milone is interesting. I (sorry for this) have him on a fantasy team this year, and I'm terrified every time he pitches that he's going to get lit up, but basically he holds it together and does really well. The reason I'm terrified is because I remember this comment from Kevin Goldstein in a chat:

Do you think Tom Milone can spin his high K/9 and low BB/9 into major league success? Or is the high-80s just too slow for a major league starter?
(Charlie from Bethesda, MD)

Maybe as a No. 5. MAYBE. (Kevin Goldstein)

Now, that was after the 2011 season, when Milone had struck out 155 and walked 16 (!!!!) in Triple-A. And yet the scouts hated him, and I have a hard time getting all the way past that. It occurs to me that people always insult statheads by saying they take the nuance out of the game and, with it, the fun. But I don't think that's right at all. I think anytime somebody has insight into a player (as scouts did, as Kevin did), and shares that insight, it has the unfortunate effect of freezing our impression of a player in that moment. And yet we all know that baseball is out-of-its-mind unpredictable. It's the price we pay for insight! We just have to live with it.

I'm basically a Milone believer, though, to answer your question.

Cal Guy (Cali): Eta for Myers and Cole?

Sam Miller: June 16; June 17.

Fred Titmus (London): Will Mike Trout post the highest ever WAR for the MVP runner-up, for the second consecutive year?

Sam Miller: If Trout repeats his 2012 season, or gets 80 percent of the way there, I think he'll win the MVP award. I think last year was a fluke confluence of two things: the Triple Crown, and a general anti-Rookie bias in MVP voting that may not exist but that I hypothesize does.

docg16 (Latham, NY): Who do you like better ROS and in future; Seager, Gyorko, N. Walker?

Sam Miller: ROS: Seager Walker Gyorko
Future: Seager Gyorko Walker

dannybaseball (Orange): Best place to retire for a baseball fanatic?

Sam Miller: Well, I can't speak to every area of the country, and there are undoubtedly minor league regions better than the Cal League. But Southern California is awfully swell: Two teams on TV every day, three on the radio, plus the Giants' radio broadcast comes in after dark; California League is nearby, and Fresno not out of the question for Triple-A action; and if not the best, then certainly one of the best (probably the best) region for high school baseball. And the weather is great. And good Vietnamese food.

Sarge (Philly): 1) Who was the player; 2) did he give you suspicious eyes?

Sam Miller: So it was C.J. Wilson, but in the few minutes before I had to shake his hand I tried to wash my hands with water from the dugout water cooler. Only I accidentally used the Gatorade cooler and got Gatorade all over my hands and pants. I'm a real winner. So at that point I almost faked my own death and fled the scene. But, no, no suspicious eyes.

Eric (Brooklyn): How do you feel about doing this chat?

Sam Miller: Better than podcasting. All in all, pretty good.

Bob (LA): How in the world is Bobby Grich not in the HOF?

Sam Miller: Combination of voters not doing a good job adjusting for ballpark/era, and his skill set being exactly the type of skill set that gets overlooked: Excellent defense at second base with loads of walks and ballpark-suppressing power. It's not just that he didn't get into the Hall of Fame; when I was at the OCR, the writers there thought I was absolutely out of my mind for suggesting he should. Seriously, they looked at it as though I were making a case for Jose Vidro. Really.

Turtle (Lake Flourish): Sounds like you're more a Mi-loner haha.

Sam Miller: haha good one thanks Turtle

bobbykester (DC): Is 1973's "The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book" (Boyd and Harris) the best best baseball book ever written?

Sam Miller: Is it? I just bought it for $2.45 on your recommendation, so I hope this isn't some sort of sick joke

Alex (Anaheim): Is there hope for Brandon Morrow?

Sam Miller: I used to think he was a good no. 3 with an outside chance of being a Cy Young winner. Now I think he's a good no. 3 with an outside chance of being out of the league in two and a half years. There's still a lot of hope in that profile, sure.

Tspills (New York): Rosenthal and MArtinez on the cardinals, if one becomes the closer of the future, does the other go to the rotation or just a middle reliever?

Sam Miller: Huh. Good question. I think Martinez starts.

beckerharry (guatemala): The Angels are buyers. Who's trade bait?

Sam Miller: I just can't see it. They're learning right now, this very minute, the downside of the approach they've taken: No depth, no flexibility, no reinforcements. Other than the fact that they basically have nobody with much value on the farm, outside of Cowart, I just think at this point they are going to finally say "no, we consolidated, and it's time to let it play out."

Matt (Anaheim): What's the first question people ask you about your job?

Sam Miller: What do you do in the offseason is pretty common. A lot of people don't realize that writing about baseball during the season is the hard part.

Nick Saint (New York City): In your post on FIP-defying performances, you mentioned in passing that huge ERA-FIP gaps have been much more common over the past few years than previously, but didn't say anything about why it might be. Why might it be?

Sam Miller: The obvious thing is that strikeouts are up, which is one third of FIP. The other thing is that I think there's probably less pitching around guys nowadays, either because lineups or deeper or because pitchers are always thinking about their pitch counts (and also because pitching around players is often a bad idea). So that's another third of FIP. The story in the huge ERA-FIP gap games isn't so much "how could you allow so many runs," because runs are always scoring, constantly. It's more "how could you get a FIP so low," and there just weren't that many extremely low FIP games to pick from before 25 years ago.

Turtle (Lake Flourish): Is James Loney legit?

Sam Miller: I'd have said he was legit in 2007, and he turned out to not be, and it's way less likely that he's legit now in 2013, so I suppose the only answer (by that barely logic) is no.

Of course, we shouldn't have expected 73 OPS+ Loney to repeat, either.

Dave (Boston): Thanks for the question. What kind of stats do you see Gausman putting up the rest of the way?

Sam Miller: At this point, it feels like we should just assume every young good pitcher is going to be better in the majors than he was in the minors. It's been a weird year. But I'm not hot for Gausman (short-term) like I was for Harvey last year, to give one example. I'll say 4.60. Pessimism day.

chunkstyle (Toronto): Mr. Miller, in your honour, I have grown my thumbnail to an astonishing length of 3cm. I hope you will consider my query. Imagine a baseball team made up of fictional characters with powers. Who would you field? It strikes me that playing Superman appropriately is important, and I have trouble imagining a better closer than Darth Vader (complete with Imperial March entrance theme)....

Sam Miller: The Flash, and use the rest of the roster spots for Make-A-Wish kids' wishes.

Will (Jersey): In a deep redraft league. Give me three guys who might get saves in August and September that nobody is thinking of

Sam Miller: With the caveat that I'm not the guy who knows who everybody is thinking of, James Russell, Tim Collins and Neal Cotts? Any of those do it for you?

Scott (LA): What have you seen/heard about Vic Black? With their success in creating closers out of low priced assets, do you think the Pirates will consider selling high on Grilli before next year? They waited a little too long on Hanrahan. If they do, is Melancon next? Wilson? Can Black jump them both next year?

Sam Miller: Or Vic Black! Vic Black's a decent one.

Well, they just signed him to an extension and I think if you're a team like the Pirates, you want to really make it clear to players that an extension is an act of trust, a covenant so to speak, an arrangement between two parties that want each other to do well with each other for the long term. Trading Grilli might make sense in a talent-swap way, but you never know what it says to the next player thinking of signing an extension.

dannybaseball (U-S-A): The Angels are sellers? Who's trade bait?

Sam Miller: It'd be interesting to see how much they could get back for Howie Kendrick, who is locked up for I believe three more years. Callaspo could theoretically move to 2B, Cowart to third. Frieri. I'm not naming rentals so much as guys who might be able to get two or three good prospects into a very empty system.

Scott (OC): Alright, I tried to frame a previous question as a non-fantasy question, but I'm going just ask without shame: I've been offered Matt Kemp for Carlos Gomez, but I'm relying on Gomez for steals. I still take the deal, right? Unless something is really wrong with Kemp.

Sam Miller: Yeah, you have to. Not taking it goes against everything we know. BUT I will say that I'm way down on Kemp and I'd probably trade him for just about anybody taken in the top three rounds this year.

dannybaseball (West Coast): Does Mike Trout play his whole career with the Angels?

Sam Miller: No.

I was wondering yesterday how many teams would have signed him to an extension by now. Maybe zero. He has a say too, after all. But maybe more than zero.

beckerharry (guatemala): I saw a picture of a young Randy 'macho man' Savage sporting a Cardinal jersey in minor league camp. Which current MLB player could follow in his footsteps? Sans Quentin please.

Sam Miller: I mean Brian Wilson right? It's got to be Brian Wilson?

Otherwise Mike Zagurski

Joe Mauer's Uncle (Joemauerville, MN (St. Paul)): Joe Mauer is a hall of fame player and will go down as one of the top five catchers of all time or Joe Mauer is an overhyped, overpaid, injury waiting to happen, no power bum. This is the two attitudes of Twins Fans. Why, Joe Mauer least of the problems of the team? Will we see a playoff caliver team in MN in the next 5-6 years.

Sam Miller: Everybody eventually hates everybody. Players should try to figure out a way to keep their salaries secret. We know these guys are all rich, and we don't begrudge them for it, but we don't *have* to know exactly to the run how many wins they should be producing to justify their contracts.

docg16 (Latham, NY): In a 14-team mixed 6x6 with OPS and 4 keepers I have been offered Pujols straight up for Alex Rios. I want to accept but every look at the numbers and trends seems to indicate Rios emerging and Pujols declining. Am I over thinking it by not accepting?

Sam Miller: You are overthinking it. It might not work out, but you are overthinking.

Donald Loria (Milwaukee ): I'm in a 20 team, dynasty league & have the talent to compete this yr w/deep pitching (Yu, Cain, Scherzer, Greinke, Zimmerman, Weaver, Tillman). I want to upgrade 1b from Butler to Prince, is including Weaver or Greinke too much to up my 1b production that much??

Sam Miller: Assuming you don't have to just cut Butler for nothing, no, not too much at all. I'd much rather have Prince than either of those pitchers.

... (...): http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/images/headshot_46841.jpg

Sam Miller: He's like my sixth-favorite baseball player and I'm not sure I've ever seen him pitch

John (Toronto): I love me some Manny Machado. What about you Sam? think he's gonna be right up there with Trout and Harper in terms of being a superstar?

Sam Miller: It is absolutely 100 percent not a knock on Manny Machado to say that he is without question the third most exciting 21-or-under player in the game right now. But you know how it was always Willie and Mickey and the Duke? And you know how you were always like "the Duke? Really? With those two?" That's where Machado is compared to Trout/Harper in my mind right now. I love, love, love me some Manny, though. See:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20524

dannybaseball (CALI): Who wins the NL HR title? We all know Miggy wins the AL title, triple crown part deux.

Sam Miller: Harper

docg16 (Latham, NY): What type of decline are we looking at for Pujols?

Sam Miller: I think he'll be fine if the Angels are 14 games out in early June and they shut him down for the year. I'm a doctor! I can say these things!

Nick Saint (New York): Are you allowed to write about baseball and not have opinions on what people should do with their fantasy teams, or has that gone the way of the buffalo?

Sam Miller: There's still a lot of buffalo out there. I ate some recently!

Sam Miller: Okie doke, that was fun (for me) and so we'll do it again soon. Have a great weekend.


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