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Chat: Mike Gianella

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday October 28, 2013 6:00 PM ET chat session with Mike Gianella.

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Talk World Series and fantasy planning with Mike.

Mike Gianella: We're two hours away from Game 5 of the World Series. If you're not excited, you're at the wrong place. Let's begin the chat!

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Mike, With a declining K rate, is Price worth the price of $23 in a standard 5x5 ($260) league?

Mike Gianella: Hi Cal Guy:

In mixed? He's probably iffy at that price without inflation. Not many pitchers are worth $20 or more unless you're talking about elite level pitchers like Clayton Kershaw. In AL-only, the opposite holds; David Price is a likely keeper unless you're in a league with virtually zero inflation. He earned $19 in AL-only and that was in a down year. I'd throw him back in mixed, keep him in AL-only unless inflation is non-existent.

JasonPennini (Denver): Hi Mike, From a fantasy perspective keep 2 of the following: Chris Archer, Trevor Rosenthal, and Danny Salazar

Mike Gianella: Hi Jason.

Tough question to answer without knowing what Rosenthal's role is going to be next year. Assuming he is closing, I would go with Archer and Rosenthal. Salazar is an exciting talent, but given the limitations on his pitch counts this year, I'm less confident in him in what will be his first full season. I always lean toward Rays pitchers given the organization's strong track record, and it's not like Archer struggled in his rookie campaign either. Take Archer and go with Rosenthal in the hopes that he's closing. If he isn't closing, he's the rare middle reliever who - even in a standard mixed league - will have some value.

TommyC (Illinois): Who would you rather have on a dynasty roster going forward, AJ Cole or Allen Webster?

Mike Gianella: Hi Tommy:

That's tough. I think the prospect team might disagree with me on this one, but I'd take Webster. He's closer to the majors and even though Cole most likely has the higher ceiling, give me the pitcher who is closer to the Majors. Even in dynasty, unless a guy is an elite arm, I want the pitcher who isn't really far away. Cole took a step forward this year, but his 2012 struggles still are in the back of my mind.

whjohnson37 (Houston): Who is most likely to be the Cardinals' shortstop in 2014?

Mike Gianella: None of the above.

Seriously though the internal options aren't appealing. Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso both seem like fill-ins or utility options as opposed to starters, and while some have suggested that Kolten Wong can't be any worse at the position, I think he'd be too big of a stretch at the position defensively to give him a try. My guess based on internal options is Kozma. It wouldn't surprise me to see the club explore a trade or someone like Yunel Escobar is the market is right.

R.J. Noir (Belleville, Ill): Shouldn't Matheny get some share of the blame for pinch-running Wong in that spot? Why waste your best baserunner in a complete non-baserunning situation? What if you tie it up and need a SB in extra-innings? Why use one of your few decent bats off the bench to run when the run doesn't matter? Why waste one of your best defensive replacements to run in a that situation? Why use a rookie whose best attribute is his aggressive base running in the exact situation where that trait can only get you in trouble? Matheny does some things very well, obviously, but his questionable "in-game moves" need some scrutiny, too. (Like not bringing in a lefty to pitch to Ortiz and letting Lynn walk him -- and then using Maness in a spot where the ground ball didn't matter.)

Mike Gianella: I don't think you can blame Matheny for sticking Kolten Wong in to run. You want a fast runner, and Wong probably should have stayed closer to first to minimize the use of a pick-off. I don't think you can worry about extras there; you're two runs down with two outs in the ninth. You need to worry about getting that tie.

I agree with some of your other points. Matheny made some mistakes in Game 4, and there have been some tactics I'd question from earlier in the season. Running Wong there just isn't one of them.

Prince George (Danbury, CT): Hey Mike, thoughts on Prince Fielder going forward...any improvement over 2013 (post-divorce) or similar or declining offensive performance? Thanks.

Mike Gianella: It wouldn't surprise me if the divorce had something to do with Fielder's down year, but it is one of those things that is so difficult to measure. Frank Thomas had a down year once due to a divorce, but other players have actually improved in year when their marriages were breaking up. It's entirely possible that Fielder's size could lead to an earlier decline than in a more svelte player; I'm thinking of someone like Mo Vaughn who crashed and burned earlier than a slimmer 1B. Then again, it could have just been a down year. Fielder was still well above average. He didn't completely crater, but rather slipped somewhat. I think you have to draft him off of last year, but a bounce back to some degree at least would not be surprising.

redguy12588 (Pittsburgh): Oh dear Lord, I'm still in the office, what's wrong with me?

Mike Gianella: Not enough #want

Shawnykid23 (Ct): Sneaky pitches who could finish top 20 next year?

Mike Gianella: Ivan Nova struck out 116 batters in 139 1/3 innings. He should pitch a full season next year and should be a solid option. In shallower leagues, Marco Estrada is another guy people might sleep on who could take a big step forward next year. 118 strikeouts in 128 innings. See the pattern here? I like targeting guys with high K rates who didn't pitch a full season as sleepers. Look for pitchers like this if you're looking to score big. You might miss out on 2014's version of Travis Wood, but those guys are so hard to spot without a crystal ball.

dave (Pittsburgh): How's it feel to be on the shitty side of PA?

Mike Gianella: I like it here. Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, and Nationals Park are all no more than a four hour drive away with plenty of minor league options too.

mmcduffe (Ottawa): Hi Mike. Why hasn't Shelby Miller pitched this off-season? Obviously Mike Matheny has lots of options at his disposal but is there something specific going on with Miller such as a hidden injury or an attitude problem?

Mike Gianella: I don't have the answer, but I've heard a few theories. One theory is that Miller is gassed, and his 12% strikeout rate in September is a sign of this. Miller has become the in-case-of-emergency-break glass guy. Matheny's use of his pen has been a bit of a mystery to me. I get that he has Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal as a very strong 1-2 punch, but there have been games where he seems to be going to the well with lesser relievers. Miller and Edward Mujica don't seem to belong on the roster, and Matheny's non-usage of them is a little odd.

lester bangs (springfield): For 2014 only, if the price were the same, would you take Wacha or Shelby?

Mike Gianella: Hi Lester:

At this moment, I'd take Michael Wacha. As I noted in the last question, I don't know if Shelby Miller is hurt or not. If Miller is healthy, this is a spring training call but I think I'd lean Miller. Wacha's lack of strong multiple secondary offerings is going to bit him over the course of a full season and while he should still be good he's not going to be this awesome. However, both Miller and Wacha should be very good options assuming they're both 100%.

yancyeaton (Fort Myers, FL ): With the series being tied 2-2, can we please stop talking about the obstruction call already?

Mike Gianella: Fortunately, the pick off diverted some attention from that. I think most of the talking heads have moved on and the only people really talking about this are the talk radio crowd. Still, it was a pretty crazy play to end a World Series game; I can understand why people are really intrigued by what happened.

shoeshine boy (fresno): If you had your druthers, would all leagues be OBP or AVG? What's your favorite hybrid format?

Mike Gianella: A few years ago I would have said AVG, but now I have to say OBP. I like the idea of giving value to a hitter walk as opposed to just ignoring it entirely.

I'm a pretty standard Roto player and am not a huge fan of hybrids. However, I did play in an expert league with quality starts instead of wins and really liked the QS format. Quality starts aren't perfect either, but they reward pitcher performance more than wins do and eliminate the silliness of random middle reliever wins.

AnthopoJays (TX): I have Bogaerts and Wong sitting on my minor league roster. What is the likelihood that I can depend on those guys as everyday middle infielders for next season? Do I need to sign a couple of placeholders to bridge the gap to 2015?

Mike Gianella: It seems pretty likely that Xander Bogaerts is going to start next year. Stephen Drew isn't coming back, and even if Will Middlebrooks isn't finished, Bogaerts has a clear path to playing time. Kolten Wong is more of a mystery. David Freese could be non-tendered I suppose, but it seems more likely that he'll get a contract. That leaves Matt Carpenter at second base and leaves Wong out of a job. Sure, I suppose the club could try him at short, but I don't see that happening. These situations tend to have a way of resolving themselves, but there are no guarantees with Wong. If it's not too expensive, I'd grab one of those placeholders.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Mike, Do you see Gausman starting the season in the O's starting rotation, and what stats do you expect from him for '14?

Mike Gianella: Hey again Cal Guy.

I think Gausman will have a shot to crack the rotation in Spring Training but think that he's an automatic for the role. If I had to guess, I think Gausman will get about 130-150 innings or so with an ERA around a 3.80 and a WHIP around 1.25. He might be solid but I'm projecting ace numbers at least not based on what I saw last year.

yancyeaton (Fort Myers, FL): Where do you see James Loney landing?

Mike Gianella: Who needs a first baseman would be the question. Tampa Bay is the only team that has been linked to him, but maybe Loney leaves if he can squeeze a two-year deal out of someone. It's a fairly thin market, though, as a lot of teams already have a first baseman tied up to a deal. The White Sox could be players if they don't resign Paul Konerko, and the same could be said for Boston if Mike Napoli walks. Loney is probably a one-year stopgap at best, and it's entirely possible he goes the route of Russell Branyan and doesn't find a taker this winter despite the incredibly strong campaign in 2013.

Ziggy (Marley): if you owned Miguel Sano in a dynasty league, would you attempt to cash in on the pre MLB hype? or hang tight hoping he minimizes the Ks and puts 40/yr over the fence?

Mike Gianella: What can you get back? In a vacuum, I hold on to him in the hopes that he's a 30-35 home run guy in the long term. Dynasty's different than Roto in that you really have to consider the ceiling and hope for the best. In Roto, I'm more likely to move a guy like Sano. In one of my home leagues, I moved Byron Buxton and Xander Bogaerts because it enabled me to win a title. The longest you can keep a guy in the Majors in my Roto league is five seasons, and who knows if either one of those guys will be stars within that window.

japanaese ice (northern california): Do you know of any intriguing Asian players headed over next year? And how do you rank some of the Japaense pitchers who surprised this year, guys like Uehara and Iwakuma?

Mike Gianella: Masahiro Tanaka is the guy everyone is talking about. The 24-year-old pitcher (he'll be 25 in 2014) throws mid 90s heat, has solid secondary offerings and has dominated in Japan. He's closer to Yu Darvish than Daisuke Matsuzaka, and could be a top pitcher next year.

Koji Uehara is one of the best closers in the game. His stuff is legit and he has always been hard to hit, even as a non-closer prior to 2013. Iwakuma is another pitcher who really shouldn't have been as much of a surprise as he was. Most of his struggles came in 2012 as a relief arm; he has dominated as a starter ever since 2012. Iwakuma should be a Top 25-30 pitcher even if he slips a little in 2014. He's really good, and his ability to pitch 200+ innings is the only thing I'm wondering about.

Connie Mack Daddy (Oz): If you needed to manage one game for your life and Joe Maddon couldn't be reached, who would your next three calls be to? The internet bashes every manager into oblivion, but other than Maddon, it seems they seldom get any credit. Then again, Don Mattingly makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

Mike Gianella: Can I go back in time? I don't bash managers, but it is hard to differentiate between them because so many of them employ the same tactics and have the same kind of group think. John Farrell would be on my list as long as he doesn't have to play with National League rules; him batting Brandon Workman in the ninth inning of Game 3 was maddening. Terry Francona still strikes me as a really strong manager who I'd put at the top of my short list. I'm having a hard time coming up with a third manager that I love. Joe Girardi is probably underrated because of the Yankees huge payroll, but he did a lot this year despite limited resources for the first time in his tenure.

George (Bronx): CC Sabathia worth targeting/stashing for cheap next year? seems his year was horrid yet had 14W, 175K. Big bounce back candidate if he controls the long ball, even though hes lost a few ticks on the FB?

Mike Gianella: If he's cheap enough, sure. As you point out the whiffs were high and he could be one of those pitchers who figure out how to live with diminished velocity. Felix Hernandez's fastball speed keeps dropping and he had one of his best seasons in 2013, while Ubaldo Jimenez finally managed to figure it out in the second half. My concern about CC is that the drop in velo is the sign of an injury lurking and that if you take him you might only get 75-100 innings next year. So if the price is right grab him, but don't simply think that second tier is "cheap"

Biscuits (San Jose): Do you see Addisson Russell making a big league impact next year? Seems the A's aren't afraid to push him aggressively and he responds each time... perhaps a call up around the time Wil Myers was this year? Could solve a serious lineup hole and push Lowrie to second

Mike Gianella: It seems like a long shot. Russell spent all of 2013 at High A and while he was young for his level at 19, he wasn't promoted mid-year. The best case for Russell in 2014 would seem to be a mid-year promotion from Double-A to Triple-A in 2014 and a cup of coffee in the Majors in September. Sure, some guys get promoted from Double-A midyear, but my educated guess is that Russell isn't an impact guy next year.

Rob (California): Odds Trout leads the league in VORP again?

Mike Gianella: Hi Rob:

It's always hard to predict the future, but based on his broad skill set there's a pretty good chance. He's always going to contribute with his bat, legs, and glove and has an advantage over tremendous hitters like Miguel Cabrera with a more limited base of skills. Trout could slip or get hurt - that could happen to any hitter - but based on what we've seen the last 2 years, I wouldn't blindly bet on that.

Cardinal (Nation): In follow up to a question above, say the Cards dont tender Freese. They then move Carpenter to third, allowing Wong to play second. Still a high likelihood that Carpenter sees 20+ games at 2B to maintain eligibility for fantasy purposes, thus stabilizing his value in long term leagues?

Mike Gianella: Sure, if that happens Wong is an obvious choice for second base. In that case, it's more likely that Carpenter gets 15 games or less at second. Even though he could play second, it's more likely that Cardinals stick him at one position rather than try to use him as a super utility type.

Dennis (LA): Thank you for the chat, Mike. Next year in fantasy baseball, are you more willing to take a chance on Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton? What kind of performances are you expecting from them? (Pujols looks to be over his plantar fasciitis issues and Hamilton said he would put the 30 pounds he lost prior to this season back on.)

Mike Gianella: Thanks for coming.

I think I'd be more likely to gamble on Pujols than Hamilton. Even if Pujols doesn't return to an elite level, I would still expect a strong, Top 25-30 hitter at worst if he's 100%. Hamilton has looked completely lost for at least a season and a half now and given that his issues are related to contact and poor pitch selection, I have no faith in him bouncing back. Maybe he will, but he'll never be back in Arlington. I'd guess that Pujols is a 30/100/.290 guy while Hamilton is more of a 23/80/.275 hitter.

We'll see what happens with Hamilton and the weight. I'm skeptical that it will be a cure all, though.

justarobert (Santa Clara): Is there any good way to play roto without saves as a category and still use relievers? I'm tired of speculating on who's going to be a closer.

Mike Gianella: My advice would be to implement a start limit of 180. You could choose not to use relievers entirely, but it's more likely that you'd want to cycle good relief arms in in order to pursue strikeouts and superior ERA/WHIP. This still allows for speculating on relievers (and increasing your knowledge base by being aware of who the best relievers are) but also eliminates the need to rely on saves as a category.

Coors (Drinker): Could Dexter Fowler approach 100runs next year if he/cargo/tulo/rosario all stay healthy for the majority of the year? seems he never ends up putting the pieces together and ending up with a full breakout season

Mike Gianella: Wow, my second Fowler question tonight. I could go for the obvious "What Are You Drinking?" joke based on your name/location, but instead I'll just say that while it's certainly possible it's not something I'd feel comfortable betting on. Think 85-90 runs when placing your bets on Fowler. If you get 100, then that's just gravy.

Mike Gianella: Game's about to start, so I'll sign off now. Good luck if you're a Cardinals/Red Sox fan, and if not here's hoping for another great game. Until next time, folks.


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