Daily Hit List maker Matthew Kory stops by to take your questions.
Matthew Kory: Hey BPers! Welcome to another chat. I'm your host, Matt Kory. You may know me from the Hit List and maybe other stuff. I'm here to discuss baseball and baseball-related items, though if non-baseball-related items sneak in that'd be wonderful as well. I've got my coffee, it's a beautiful day here in Portland, and I'm enjoying the sounds of hammering as they build a forty-foot high condominium across the street from me. So let's get chatting!
Bibb (St. Louis): Do you actually write here?
Matthew Kory: I do! And it is a privilege to do so. I know that sounds cheese, but that's the way I feel. I am, in fact, the author of today's Hit List. So after we're finished chatting you can go read that. I'm sure your boss won't mind.
Cal Guy (Cali): Matthew, Three spots left on dynasty league staff... who's the odd man out of Bradley, Walker, Gausman and M. Tanaka?
Matthew Kory: This is the fun part of the chat where I tell you I'm not really a fantasy guy. I do play in one league (I'm in third place!) but I'd hardly consider myself an expert. That disclaimer aside, I'd take the first three. Walker and Gausman are legit and I love me some JBJ.
Cal Guy (Cali): Matthew, what kind of stats do you see from Rendon over a full season in 2014 and do you think the Nats will keep him at 2B?
Matthew Kory: I like Rendon going forward and it looks like he can handle second base so it's great to have that kind of flexibility. That said, he's probably more comfortable at third (that could be playing into his slow start at the plate), but the Nats already have Zimmerman (one "N" at third, two on the mound) there and unless they move him to first, which is a whole 'nother problem, third base is taken. So, yes I imagine in the short term he stays at second where the team has a need. Going forward? He'll probably get his average up and his OBP a bit as well, and you'd hope that as he gets going in MLB some of those doubles would turn into homers.
William (Vandy): What have scouts been saying about Braden Shipley?
Matthew Kory: I'm not a scout and I don't talk to scouts (I would, it's not a snooty thing) so I can't say. I can say Shipley was out here playing for the Hillsboro Hops and though I saw three games, he didn't pitch in any of them. Which, judging from his stats, is probably a good thing. But he was promoted to South Bend and is having more success there.
Polsox (Culver City, CA): Think Boston can go all the way without Ellsbury? I sure as crap can.
Matthew Kory: Any team that makes the playoffs can go all the way. The 2006 Cardinals learned us that. The Red Sox are going to make the playoffs (yes, I said it, er, wrote it) so they have a shot. I'm not sure it's a better shot than the Rangers or Tigers, or whomever comes out of the play-in game *coughRAYScough*.
As for Ellsbury, he's a huge part of their offense. We have him at just over four wins on the season, and I've noticed an improvement in his defense and his baserunning just keeps getting better. That said, of all the positions, Boston has center field covered the most with Shane Victorino able to slide over and play there and Jackie Bradley, Jr. now up (and he can play defense as well or better than Ellsbury). So without Ellsbury, Boston still has a good shot, though just slightly less of one, if that makes any sense.
A Sockmonkey (Baltimore): Portland, Maine? Oregon? Cable TV?
Matthew Kory: Oregon! It's supposed to get up to 90 here today though it's 61 now and everyone is walking by with their flannels on. I, also have a flannel on because you have to here.
Chad (OKC): As a baseball writer/fan, how great is it to see teams like the Pirates/Royals/Indians still very much in contention in September? Even though it's only the 2nd year, you have to call the new playoff format a success, right?
Matthew Kory: Super great? Super duper great? Something maybe in between those? The Pirates success this year is, honestly, wonderful. It's been so long. The last time the Pirates won anything Barry Bonds had a normal sized head. That joke works on a literal and figurative level. You're welcome.
As for the Royals, we kind knew they'd be better, and they have been better, but they're still not good enough and I have serious doubts about their ability to become good enough if the same people remain in charge over there.
As for the Indians, well, I was wrong about them. They're not great, but they're not a horrible train wreck either, so that's something. But, overall, it's important for all teams to experience some success, at some time, eventually. So from that standpoint, I guess I'll go with full-on Super Duper.
Alex (Anaheim): What's your projected NLCS at this point?
Matthew Kory: Hard to not like the Dodgers, even though they went and got noted clubhouse poison Michael Young. And I still think the Cardinals are the best team in the NL, so I'll probably go with those two, but there's a fair chance they'll meet before the NLCS, so in that case I'll take the winner (not the loser!) and the Braves, who I've been consistently under-rating this season. It's probably because I keep looking at BJ Upton's slash line.
MKPJ (Chicago): I'm curious about 2 FA OF. What do you think the price will be for Choo and Ellsbury? And would you pay it?I'm asking in general or specifically from the Cubs perspective, any way you wish to answer. Thanks
Matthew Kory: For Choo it depends if there's a team that thinks he can play center. He managed to not blow up the earth with his defense this season, so that's a start, but I don't think he's a CF'er going forward and that'll probably hurt his value a bit. That said, there are a ton of teams that are going to need outfielders, so he and Ellsbury should find a fertile market for their services. The Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Mets, Orioles, Mariners and almost everyone else needs outfielders. Bidding is going to be fierce. FIERCE.
As for money, I'll bet both get five years and $20+ million. I know Boras is going to argue that Ellsbury is better than Carl Crawford so he should get a bigger deal. You might see some giant change go flying this off-season.
hotstatrat (Heaven on Earth): Is there any chance BP will come up with an injury rehabilitation smart version of PECOTA?
Matthew Kory: I wasn't sure what the answer was to this one so I asked Sam Miller and he asked Colin Wyers (I don't have a button that activates the Wyers signal) and here's what Colin said:
"We'll have some PECOTA announcements once we get into the offseason, I should think."
I know we're always discussing ways to improve PECOTA and I know that has come up before so I'm sure it'll be something on the table going forward.
Lillemor (Gothenburg, Sweden): I wonder why RedSox can't score any runs for Mr Lackey? I know they did the last time, but before that, oh dear. It almost seems like it's on purpose, but that would be stupid, right?
Matthew Kory: That would be stupid.
Yeah, it's not on purpose, it's just one of those things that happens in a randomly sprinkled sample of games over the course of a season. Also, it should be noted that the Red Sox did score runs for Lackey in his last start and he responded by giving up seven in 5 2/3 innings. No more runs for you, Lackey!
Nate (IND): Hi Matt, thanks for chatting. I love following along with these things while I pretend to work. Do you expect Starlin Castro to turn things around next year. I never would have expected him to fall off so badly this year. Between Castro and Rizzo it seems like some development is still needed.
Matthew Kory: Glad to chat, Nate. Thanks for the question and WATCH OUT HERE COMES YOUR BOSS!
I do expect Castro to get better, but how much better is really the key, right? He's really had a brutal season in all respects (well, he's been hit by more pitches, "so that's something" <- my phrase of the day, apparently). If he can repeat his 2012 season in perpetuity the Cubs will be thrilled and I think that's possible.
I do like Rizzo a lot. I was at a game in Boston when he was with the Padres and there was a long rain delay and he came out of the dugout (in the rain) and signed autographs and chatted with kids along the baseline for like 20 minutes. I also like his skills and though he's been dealt a billion times already, he's still quite young (only 23 this season), so there is potential for growth. I guess you could say I'm optimistic on both players, but I don't think either is a superstar.
Jasper (Johns Hopkins): The Red Sox get Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, contracts included. Fill out the rest of the deal that makes it remotely fair for both teams.
Matthew Kory: I almost did a column on this but I ran up against this problem: I have no earthly clue. On one hand Trout is incredible and almost defies value. But this is silly money. Put it this way: would you pay $38M, $39M, $48M, $56M, $57M, $28M, $29M, and $30M starting next year through 2021 for the right to pay Mike Trout for his next four seasons and maybe a chance to pay him $350 million over the next 10 seasons?
I'm asking because I honestly don't know. Would you do it?
Chad (OKC): Do the Pirates have enough to overtake the Cards in the NL Central?
Matthew Kory: Well, they're a game out, so sure. But if you're asking if I think the Pirates or Cardinals will win the Central, I'll take the Cardinals who I think are just a stronger team. But it's only a one game difference, so anything can happen, just about. Our post season odds give the Pirates about an 80 percent shot at a Wild Card spot and that sounds maybe a liiiiittle high, but mostly right to me.
jharrison3 (Illinois): How do you come up with the things you include in the Hit List? Do you just possess the single most random mind in the history of the world?
Matthew Kory: Possibly I do. I'll tell you what I do though. There's an ancient talking cat who lives in a hole in my back yard and every night after my wife and kids have gone to bed I sneak outside and then I realize I'm dreaming and I forgot to write the hit list and I jump out of bed and look at the games and and try to find interesting stats and/or trivia and failing that I make things up.
carligula (Oakland): If you were in charge of the A's, would you offer Josh Donaldson an extension? If so, how much/how many seasons?
Matthew Kory: Donaldson is interesting because he's 27, typical hitter's peak season, and is blowing away what he's done in the past. He's got a 144 OPS+ but he spent 53 games in Triple-A last season, so he's a tough call (which, I gather, is why you're asking). That said, no, I don't offer him an extension. He's got one year of service time and won't cost the A's anything next season. Let's see if he can do it again. If he does, then we'll talk.
Cal Guy (Cali): Do you think OT makes the Cards team out of spring training and what kind of performance do you expect from him in 2014?
Matthew Kory: OT = Oscar Tavares. I do think he'll make the team out of spring training, but how will he perform? I think we're all spoiled by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. I know I am. But most guys aren't in the big leagues at 20 or 21 let alone performing like an All Star, so I'll clamp down expectations a bit and say he holds his spot, but he'll need a season or two to really get going.
jharrison3 (Illinois): David Price gets traded by the Rays this offseason. Who did he get traded to and what was the return?
Matthew Kory: There will be a line of teams for David Price if the Rays deal him. He's under team control for two more seasons following this one though so the Rays won't deal him unless they get a haul. Jurickson Profar or Tavares or something like that plus more. I wouldn't be shocked if St. Louis makes a run at him.
Cal Guy (Cal): Matthew, should I use my last keeper spot for Gausman or Rendon? It is an OBP league and my main starters are Price, Darvish and Cole and I already have Longo and Machado at 3B and CI.
Matthew Kory: When in these situations I always jettison the pitcher.
John (CT): The 2013 season is coming to an end and the number of playoff contending teams is quickly dwindling.
Who survives? The O's, Rays, Indians or Yanks in the AL?
Matthew Kory: Sorry for the delay. My 4-year-old son is home sick from school and we had what I'll just call a bathroom emergency.
I don't know how you pick anyone but the Rays. Firstly, they're the best team of the group and I don't think it's particularly close. Secondly, they're ahead. They've hit a rough patch, but they've still got a game and a half on Cleveland and Baltimore. Their pitching is still excellent, and their offense is, to me anyway, surprisingly good, though I know they haven't hit in the last week or two. Still, it's more than enough to hold on to that lead.
Jr (Hmmmm): In a keeper league would u trade cano for price??
Matthew Kory: It depends on what your team looks like, doesn't it? I guess going forward I'd trust Cano to replicate his best seasons. Price is great but he's still a pitcher and arm go boom maybe.
John (CT): Who would you say is the closest current day comparison player to Buxton' upside potential? Soriano? Trout?
Matthew Kory: I'm not sure but I do know that I wouldn't compare any player to Mike Trout. You're just asking for a let-down. Put it this way: Mike Trout is Ted Williams, but with defense and base running. He's nuts. There isn't another guy like him in the majors or minors.
bobbykester (DC): All of us here love baseball, but I myself find the current structure totally unsatisfying. Can any true fan get worked up about winning one of these Division titles or a 10-team (NCAA–style) tournament when your team went 83-79? I'd like your thoughts on the following:
Expand to 32 teams by adding Montreal (Expos) and Brooklyn (Superbas or Tip-Tops) and have 4 leagues of 8 teams each:
American League: Boston, NY Yankees, Baltimore, Washington, Detroit, Cleveland, CWS, Kansas City;
National League: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs, NY Mets, Brooklyn;
Pacific Coast League: Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, LA Dodgers, LA Angels, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver;
Continental (Rickey) League: Miami, Tampa, Houston, Dallas, Toronto, Montreal, Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul;
162 games. Each team plays 18 games against its 7 league members (126) and 6 against 2 teams from each of the other 3 leagues (3H-3A) in a 4-year rotation (36). Only the 4 league champs make the post-season.
Matthew Kory: You wrote so much I feel obligated to answer it.
To me, I suppose there are better ways to set it up, but MLB isn't going to change the playoff setup now and if they do it will be to add teams, not reduce them. If you're looking for a playoff format that selects the best team, that is no playoff format as in no playoffs at all. The 162 game regular season is going to tell us with much more precision who is good and who isn't. After that, it's just how do we make this exciting and interesting and revenue-generating.
Lou (San Fran): You are now in charge of the Giants, who do you go after this offseason, Cano? Rios? Starting Pitching?
Matthew Kory: Cano is going to make just about any team better for at least the next several seasons, but do you want to be the team that is paying him $30+ per season when he's 36 and hitting .270/.310/.370? I guess there are worse fates. I think a guy like Shin-Soo Choo would be a great pick-up for San Francisco. They could put him in left and at the top of the lineup and he'd score a billion runs hitting in front of Posey and, if he gets on a treadmill this off-season, Sandoval.
Tim (Austin): How did your fantasy football team do this past weekend?
Matthew Kory: Terribly! Not as bad as my Redskins (please change the name so I don't have to type that) though, good golly what a mess that was next question!
Ike (NY): Favorite hipster place in Portland to go to eat at?
Matthew Kory: I don't know if it's hipster or not, but I love Wolf 'n Bears food cart. Great falafel and their cart is located right next to Captured by Porches' beer bus, so homemade falafel (with hummus!) and a local IPA poured from the side of a bus. Can't beat it.
jharrison3 (Illinois): What will be your Daily Hit List line for the Cubs, when they finally win the WS? Also- Will the internet explode when this happens?
Matthew Kory: Fortunately the Hit List only runs during the regular season so I don't have to live with that kind of pressure.
I was happy with my Pirates line today that commemorated their becoming a winning team. Writing that was pressure-packed!
Chad (OKC): Does the innings limit hurt Fernandez's chance at the NL ROY with his last start coming this week?
Matthew Kory: Maybe a little? But he's been so crazy good that I don't think it matters much. He'll probably lose the award to Puig either way.
Matt (Chicago): What type of return is Stanton going to bring back for MIA? Does it make sense for a team like CHC to parlay some of their prospect wealth into an estabilished talent, like Giancarlo?
Matthew Kory: Stanton will make any team in baseball better. There is no team that can't or shouldn't make room for him. So if the Cubs can get him then yes, they absolutely should. However, there's going to a Black Friday at Walmart type of line when the Marlins open up shop.
R.A. Wagman (Markham): Matthew - when your kids ask you about the historic 2013 season, what will be the first thing you tell them?
Matthew Kory: It depends on when they ask me. If it's any time after five years from now I'll probably just nod and drool.
Chad (OKC): What are the chances that Loria has a change of heart in the off-season and trades Stanton? His talent is so wasted in Miami.
Matthew Kory: It'll depend on a few things. Are the Marlins going to get into trouble (again) for fielding such a small payroll? Is Stanton interested in signing an extension there? Are they willing to pay him enough to make him interested? I think he'll get dealt eventually, but I'm not sure it'll be this off-season.
Matthew Kory: Okay, everyone, it's time for me to take care of the sick little boy. Thanks so much for the many great questions and apologies to the ones I didn't answer. I hope to do one of these again soon, so talk to you when ever that is, and as always, thanks so much for spending part of your day with us here at Baseball Prospectus.