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Chat: Zachary Levine

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday December 06, 2013 1:00 PM ET chat session with Zachary Levine.

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Zachary discusses Hot Stove season.

Zachary Levine: Live from the 617, where the Bruins have the best record in their division, the Celtics have the best record in their division, the Patriots have the best record in their division and the Red Sox are paying Dustin Pedroia $109M over the next 8 years... let's chat.

Paul (DC): The Nats picked up Fister in what everyone is calling a steal. Is Fister really THAT good? Will 2014 be the best year of his career now that he's playing in the lesser NL with an actual infield defense?

Zachary Levine: He really is that good compared to what I believe about whom they gave up. He will have better superficial numbers getting out of that Detroit defensive setting. That said, I can't really say I expect 2014 to be better than 2011, the year he arrived in Detroit. Unless you're a win-loss guy, in which case it will be better.

Ray (Lexington, KY): Opening day, 2014: O. Tavares playing for St. Louis or Memphis?

Zachary Levine: Memphis but not for long.

higgsboson (Guelph): Let's talk 5th starters: Mets: Torres? Nats: Jordan? Phils: Pettibone? Braves: Wood? Marlins:???? SD: Stults,Luebke?

Zachary Levine: I still expect Detwiler to have a leg up in what's being billed as a competition for the last spot in Washington (with Strasburg, Gio, Fister, Zimmermann as top 4). Pettibone if the Phillies don't make another move or have to give up Kendrick in making the move. Like it for the Braves. Not sure for the Mets.

Bubba (STL): Give me a reason why STL can't win the World Series next year

Zachary Levine: I can't. They can.

Tyler (OKC): What is your SECOND-favorite part about the baseball offseason?

Zachary Levine: This year, Olympic hockey. (Thanksgiving No. 1)

BobcatBaseball (Athens, OH): Will you be down in Orlando for the Winter Meetings?

Zachary Levine: Missing it this year. Orlando in the last cycle was my first, and I've been to the last three. It was a lot more enjoyable last year as a non-beat writer with no news gathering pressure. Up until then it was not an overwhelmingly positive experience.

barnhart84 (The 607): I'm a follower from your Chron days. What do you think about the Fowler deal for the Astros? Step in the right direction?

Zachary Levine: I like it because I like the asset. I mean that as they could even trade him tomorrow and possibly get a better return than the Rockies did. You'll have to temper the numbers, but I think it was a good move.

As a step for the franchise, it was a clear turning point. As Sam Miller wrote in his transaction analysis, it was the first move in years where the Astros got the main guy in the deal.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22342

brothertona (Atlanta, GA): If the Yankees get Tanaka, Infante, Reynolds, and Beltran aren't they still very much improved.

Zachary Levine: They're improved.

Marcus (Portland, Or): Do you think having Cano will help guys like Franklin, Ackley, etc.?

Zachary Levine: Not to a noticeable degree. I think that's mostly overrated. Cano's value is Cano. If the others improve in whatever positions they settle into, I'd guess it will be a stretch to put that on him.

Wesley (Utah): How long does the Tanaka soap opera go until?

Zachary Levine: My guess is it will take a while. Rules on the fly are never fun. Could be after the new year, I say with no inside knowledge, just the belief that it will take a while for everyone to figure out how this works.

Brian (Houston): What'd you think of the Feldman signing for the Astros?

Zachary Levine: I thought it was fine. Not in love with the player, but I appreciate that they went for a mid-range guy over a three-year deal since I still don't expect them to be good this year.

Carlos (Miami): Hearing alot about Seattle going after D. Price. Would a package of T. Walker, DJ Peterson, J. Paxton & N. Franklin be acceptable to TB ?

Zachary Levine: I think you're getting to the right neighborhood.

NewToBaseball (Boston): I'm new to baseball, but I am seriously considering this as an option to make a living. What qualities (or substances) do you think I need to make it big in this sport?

Zachary Levine: Good face. Like to be outdoors. Left-handedness a bonus.

Marcus (Portland, Or): Is Granderson worth the money? Will he be in rapid decline at 33?

Zachary Levine: Overcoming my instinct to call everything an overpay, he'll be OK for the money. Loved him in Yankee Stadium, perfect fit for the park, one of the best fits in all of baseball for the park. So I think some of his decline will be that, unless he can get to know that one spot in right at Citi. The injury concerns are there too. Actually the age is one of my smaller concerns with him.

nlastro4ever (Houston): Why do call the Feldman signing bizarre?

Zachary Levine: I called it bizarro.

Slough (Seattle): 10 years is way too long, right?

Zachary Levine: Necessary, but yes, too long. I don't think he'll be a productive player by years 9 or 10. Just the cost of entering that market.

fredd (NYC): How far can you punt a football?

Zachary Levine: I trust that I won't be entered in the archived answers to this question, but 25-30 yards probably. I'd do one of those running starts to the side and try to get most of it in the roll.

Dave (Pittsburgh): As a Pirates fan, I laugh at the Yankees and their upcoming 82 win season.

Zachary Levine: That's fair. They could win 92, but I also said the Pirates would finish 4th last year, so I have no right to argue on this one.

chopper (Indy): ETA for Jorge Alfaro in Arlington? Do you see Arenado as an all-star at the hot corner?

Zachary Levine: Late 2015 or 2016? Though you should probably ask again in the prospect chats.

And yes on your second question. Yes on your second, 20% having to do with Arenado, 80% having to do with the fact that everyone makes the All-Star team. Doubt it's this year.

Nathan (West Lafayette): I have the 2nd pick in an upcoming prospect draft. These are the best available guys: Bryant, Frazier, Appel, Abreu, Odor, Gray. How would you rank the guys in that list? I'm assuming Bryant goes #1 overall. If that's the case, who would you take. Thanks!

Zachary Levine: Appel, probably. Unless hitters are more meaningful than pitchers and you'd benefit from Frazier's rounded skill set. #RealTalk I haven't played fantasy in 7 years.

Immigrant Song (USA): Hello Zachary. I find this sport somewhat strange and boring. Can you explain how or why it has captured the imaginations of the american people?

Zachary Levine: It is definitely strange. I don't think anyone who makes their living in this sport wouldn't call it strange. I don't find it boring, but then again, I understand it and appreciate it and can see why someone who doesn't have the same background with it would.

I think it captured the country because in its formative years it could be played as a country and city game. Each had its advantages. The country had space for a real field, the city didn't but you could modify it and always find enough people to play some version of it. I'm sad that it's not a city game anymore. This didn't answer the question well, but that's an opinion on something.

TriviaMan (Boston): Do you think baseball will still be played 100 years from today?

Zachary Levine: Yes. If humans are still here, baseball will be played.

Dave (Pittsburgh): With all of the defensive shifts going on, shouldn't defense itself in terms of range matter less?

Zachary Levine: That's a small reason why defensive ability matters less today. People are better positioned than ever, so it will create more ideal situations, but there will be some longer plays to make too.

The bigger reason why individual defense matters less is the rise in strikeouts. Fewer balls in play mean that's a smaller part of the game.

Paul (Dallas): Given the cano signing, and the fact that seattle has no guaranteed contracts besides cano and felix past 2014, could SEA go to TB, offer T. Walker, N. Franklin and J. Paxton for Price, and sign him to something like 7 years, $180mil and build around those three?

Zachary Levine: Yes. The money, from what I understand, is not an issue. I would still be frightened about 7-year deals for pitchers no matter how much I like the pitcher.

Henry (Detroit): Do you see Nick Castellanos working out for the Tigers this year, or will they need to go find a replacement at third?

Zachary Levine: I think he'll be the guy. I was going to say typically don't need as much offense to make it work out there as in left field. But last year, left fielders and third basemen had identical .735 OPS figures MLB-wide. I think Castellanos will be fine and they can upgrade elsewhere if they want to spend again.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Seattle has some serious work to do in the next few weeks. Where would you start, Price or the OF or somewhere else? They have to sell on some of the MI kids to get better now, don't they?

Zachary Levine: Outfield. And yes, Franklin could be the one that gets them that player.

Paul (Boston): What will Brandon Workman do now that the Red Sox have signed Edward Mujica and traded for Burke Badenhop?

Zachary Levine: That's tough because No. 6 starter seems like a good plan for him, but if Dempster is 5 and Doubront is 6...

They have so much starting pitching that I could see a trade at some point. There are guys who would have more value to other teams than they have to the Red Sox.

AGirlintheSouth (Houston): Can you please come back to Houston? :) Also, what is your take on Fowler to Houston and what that means for Springer?

Zachary Levine: When he's ready, whether that's opening day or conveniently either 20 days in or around June, he'll play. If one of them plays a corner, it's not the worst problem to have. Fowler shouldn't slow down Springer at all.

Dave (Pittsburgh): Would you rather give Lambo a shot at first base or go out and get loney/davis?

Zachary Levine: Lambo. I certainly don't think this is the right time to go after Loney. Never like buying high on a guy.

Evan (Canada): Do you see the Blue Jays signing Bartolo Colon? They need a pitching upgrade.

Zachary Levine: I've had a couple Colon questions, and the Blue Jays are among the teams that makes the most sense. A Cleveland homecoming would probably make some sense too. But there are plenty of landing spots for a guy who'd probably go one year.

Nielsen (Top Gun): You ever seen a grown man naked Zachary?

Zachary Levine: Yes. In a Turkish prison.

Matt (Malone, NY): No way to spin it, losing Cano creates a huge hole. I'm not sure Beltran/Choo, McCann and Ellsbury fills it.

Zachary Levine: This is basically the plot of "Moneyball" with more zeros.

baseballjunkie (SF): What do you think would be the best move for the Giants to shore up their left field weakness?

Zachary Levine: The corner outfield market, while generally one where talent is pretty available, is not the market I'd want to be in this year unless I were willing to (over)spend. With Murphy and Byrd types gone, there aren't a lot of those mid-price options left. Wonder if that's why they went early.

Rob (DC): There's been a lot on Cano already, but the signing surprises me so much I feel like continuing the theme. What's the best defense of the deal, from your point of view? Maybe I'm wrong, but the Mariners seem so far from contention that the deal doesn't make sense to me at all.

Zachary Levine: The best defense is if you think money doesn't matter. The second best defense is if it were the first of a series of moves to get them to a point of competitiveness. That if their 2013-14 offseason moves were the same but in the reverse order, the Cano move would make some sense with the other parts.

Pete (Tampa): You need a catcher, Ryan Lavarnaway seems to be phased out of Boston. Do you call asking to trade for him?

Zachary Levine: Yes, I don't trade much, but I look at him as a candidate to fill one of the 60ish big league spots if you're an organization that's deficient.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Were the Yankees smart to avoid Cano at these prices or did they just not get a good chance to counter the Seattle offer? I don't expect they'd have matched, but they might have beaten the AAV for a shorter period or something.

Zachary Levine: I think they were smart to avoid it at this price. For one thing, because I don't think that would have been the price. If 10/240 was reportedly what the Mariners offered when the Yankees were willing to go 7/175 or something like that if what's reported is true, what would the Mariners have bid if there were legitimate matching from the Yankees? Then what would the Yankees have had to counter with?

They were fine not to get too involved at those prices.

Tom (Washington): How do you see the A's stadium and relocation woes shaking out and what sort of timeline is that on? The blue ribbon committee has been going on for years. The Giants claim territorial rights (which they only got because Haas thought he was getting the Giants out of San Francisco). The A's are one of the biggest takers in revenue-sharing, so why wouldn't owners want them to go from low-income Oakland to San Jose or wherever? Is this all one big mess Bud Selig is leaving for the next guy?

Zachary Levine: I think they'll go to San Jose or somewhere in the South Bay eventually. The Giants will get paid by MLB, which has incentive to get more revenue from the A's, and the Giants will drop their claim to that territory. It will be a mess, though. One of his biggest.

C. Granderson (Queens): I'm going to miss "Finian's Rainbow."

Zachary Levine: It's amazing how many Yankees I associate with their John Sterling HR calls. Robinson Cano will be missed especially. Frightened for what the McCann one will be.

Zachary Levine: Thanks, everybody for chatting. We had a ton of questions today, so sorry if I didn't get to all of them and sorry for taking a sillier one over yours. I encourage those of you with prospect questions or fantasy questions to ask those to one of our specialists in those areas when they have their chats. I'll try to do it again soon. -Z


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