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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday April 25, 2005 2:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.

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Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Joe Sheehan: Good morning, and thanks for stopping by. I've got about an hour today, so let's get to the questions!

scull567 (simsbury, ct): Joe, just how bad is the Yankee defense? BABIP was like .360 or something last time I checked? Is their defense their achilles heal?

Joe Sheehan: The Yankees haven't had an above-average defense since 2000, which is the natural progression of an aging roster. They just don't get to enough balls, which is why only Randy Johnson and his high strikeout rate is a good bet to meet expectations.

There's little hope for changing this situation in 2005, as to do so would require sitting Bernie Williams or Jason Giambi, and that just won't happen.

If only there'd been a center fielder who plays defense on the market over the winter...

Cris E (St Paul, MN): I understand not making too much of early season trends, but how about the walk totals being amassed by Ozzie's White Sox? At what point do pitchers stop throwing strikes to these guys?

Joe Sheehan: Pretty soon, I'd imagine. That's a team full of hackers, guys whose OBPs won't be more than 30 or 40 points above their BAs. A healthy Frank Thomas would make a difference, but could also create playing-time problems.

This is basically the '03 Royals all over again, and not a start to be taken seriously.

Chambers (DC): Joe- 1. Are you going to come to DC to see the Nats, and are you going to stay with us? 2. Guzman's bat is weak. What are the Nats to do? 3. I think you need a raise. G

Joe Sheehan: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm honored to have one of the founders of the CCGC, and one of the best wingers ever to lace 'em up in a parking structure, here today.

(Man, I miss street hockey at USC.)

Anyway, I don't have D.C. on the itinerary this year, although the review of a game at RFK by Neil deMause, posted here last week, made it sound like a good time.

Guzman is going to be the shortstop for a while. The four-year contract will see to that. Enjoy!

Edmonds #1Fan (St. Louis): What is the best rate stat for power? (I would think its either SLG or IsoP.)

Joe Sheehan: SLG gives you runner advancement, while ISO is more "descriptive," showing which players advance guys on long hits versus the high-average guys with perhaps less power.

Both have their uses, and more information is almost always a good thing.

Adam J. Morris (Houston, Texas): Any chance Alfonso Soriano ends up back with your Yankees? If not, where will he be playing come September?

Joe Sheehan: I can't fathom what the Yankees would be able to trade to the Rangers for him. They don't need Eric Duncan, and I doubt a combination of other guys would get it done.

Possible contenders with second-base issues include the Twins (not a likely destination), A's (nope) and ... you know there aren't many, assuming Todd Walker comes back for the Cubs. The market for Soriano could be limited. I'll speculate he plays out the year in arlington.

Anthony (Long Island): Okay, so I know this won't happen, but am I crazy for thinking Derek Jeter would be an excellent defensive centerfielder? Seems like his skills--does any infielder track flyballs better than Jeter?--would translate perfectly.

Joe Sheehan: You're not the only one...I've been on this train for a few years now.

It made sense when he was 27 and he hadn't won a Gold Glove yet. Now he's 30, possesses the hardware, and won't be moving off of the position. The matter is essentially closed.

Lots of Jeter questions, though...folks, performance analysis is great, but within the game, reputation and awards carry a ton of weight. Think about how long the Yankees have carried Bernie Williams in center, just to give you an idea of how long Jeter will stay at shortstop.

Kim (hartford): Howdy, Quick fantasy trade question. I recently offered a package of Edgar Renteria and Dave Roberts for Jim Edmonds in a 5x5 mixed league. I think the deal was eminantly fair as far as overall roto value (considering his current SS is Julio Lugo), but I was rebuffed and the other owner thought my offer was so lacking that he believed it to be a joke. I actually think I may have offered too much. What do you think?

Joe Sheehan: Disclaimer: three leagues, high-water mark is sixth place so far.

I tend to think that stars matter more in 5x5. There are just so many guys you can get to fill slots that trading one star for two guys rarely makes sense. You dismiss Lugo, but the fantasy difference between him and Renteria is dwarfed by the gap between Edmonds and Roberts.

Not a joke offer, but not one I would have accepted, either.

Alex (Houston): When do you think the Stros will move Berkman to 1b?

Joe Sheehan: I've been saying after the Bagwell contract expires, which I believe is nine minutes before the Rapture. (OK, it's after 2006.) Will Carroll argues that Berkman's good enough to stay in an outfield corner for a while, and he's better sourced than I am...

I say he opens '07 at first base.

Josue (Flushing): What's the over/under on the day Jose Reyes gets his first walk of the year?

Joe Sheehan: Boy, I don't know, but even I didn't think he'd approach 100 ABs, and I've been as pessimistic about him as anyone. The Mets have to make a statement to him that this performance isn't acceptable. If they don't, his upside will be Shawon Dunston.

DiSars column tomorrow.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): It seems the Cubs more or less have to go get a SS to replace Mr Hamm. Will Hendry go get a Dusty guy or try to do something a little smarter or longer term? Thye can't stay with Neifi can they?

Joe Sheehan: From what I've heard about the offers Jim Hendry's getting--just some really silly stuff--Perez might be their best option. I think Baker would be perfectly happy running him out there every day.

In six weeks, they're going to have Perez or Cedeno on the field and Hairston or Walker on the bench virtually every day. They can't win that way.

Andy (Raleigh): Is Ray Durham cooked, or what? If so, he sure aged in a hurry.

Joe Sheehan: That's what second basemen--especially ones who played as many innings as Durham did--do in their early thirties.

I loved Durham at his peak, but I was realistic about his outlook when the Giants signed him, and I don't think it's gotten any better. He may not be done--three weeks, remember--but he'll miss 30-50 games and isn't likely to match his '03-'04 performance.

Adam (DC): Hey Joe, here is a random question. Why can catchers block home plate, and thirdbasemen can block the base with their foot (I think I saw that accurately in a game the other night; the 3B was arguing that the runner was out because he slid into the 3Bman's foot, not the bag), but first basemen can't block first base?

Joe Sheehan: I love stuff like this...as a practical matter, first basemen can't block the bag because it's very difficult to restrict access while taking a throw from an infielder. Additionally, the only time you care to is on a tag play, and those tend to be reactive more than planned.

Now I'll ask one. In a first-and-third, two-out situation, the runner from first always slides into second instead
of running through the bag and heading
to third. Why? Running full speed and beating the throw would kill the force and allow the run to score, even if you were thrown out at third.

This has bothered me for years. Thanks for listening.

tcfatone (New York): I dealt Brian Roberts before the season began and kept Ray Durham. *sigh*

Joe Sheehan: Yeah, and I benched Sidney Ponson about four hours before Saturday's game.

Fantasy bad-beat stories...someone needs to make a Web site for these.

BigPapi34 (Boston): 87 wins for the Yankees? That is by far the most pessimistic forecast I've seen. I'd be giddy if it actually happened, because the headlines from New York (and Tampa) would be priceless. Defend thyself.

Joe Sheehan: Aging hitters. Aging fielders. Overrated and overpaid rotation that, aside from the tall guy, will be victimized early and often by the latter.

It's been a great run. Time to start over.


tcfwine (Philly): Joe...I have room for one additional starting pitcher in standard 5x5 league. Who should I take: Kip Wells, Tomo Ohka, Chris Capuano?

Joe Sheehan: Kip Wells.

I might as well spread the misery around.

Suraj (NY, NY): How/Why is Jamie Moyer doing so well?

Joe Sheehan: He's stoppped giving up a homer every 25 pitches. He's still got the good command, and still ties up righties with that change. Another 200 innings of league-average ball seems likely.

He's really one of the great stories of the last 15 years.

Peter ((Wash DC)): One of the BP authors wrote a great little piece on Bobby Abreu, saying he's the most underrated player in the game. It was well written and compelling. But it occurred to me as I was browsing the box scores today and noticed Mark Loretta collected another two hits and two runs - might Loretta share that title with Abreu? Clearly, we're not talking about comparing careers, but for the last 2-3 seasons, Loretta's been fantastic, but he gets very little attention. Thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: Well, that's just it...you have to have a body of work to be underrated. Abreu's been an MVP-caliber player in nearly every season of his career, and has to get lucky to make an All-Star team. Loretta was a career utility guy who's had a couple of good years in his thirties, and only one that marks him as a star.

I got whipsawed on him...thought he should have gotten more credit when he was with the Brewers, then I dismissed him just before he became really good. Nice to be wrong sometimes.

Ricky (Manhattan): Joe, How long before the Mets rotation of Glavine, Pedro, Huey, Dewey and Louie blows up on them? Any chance they'd trade Floyd or Cameron for a starter once they're both healthy and let Victor Diaz play everyday? Or does Wilpon the GM overreact again and go get a guy Rick peterson is supposed to fix?

Joe Sheehan: Lots of Victor Diaz love today....the Mets, remember, haven't gotten anything out of Kris Benson yet. I'm not a big fan, but they'll need to see him pitch to gauge their level of need.

There's just not much of a market for Floyd or Cameron, both of whom cost a little more than you'd like to pay for guys who have, or are developing, reputations as fragile players.

It's a little early to deem Diaz the man in an outfield corner. He doesn't play the position well, so he needs to rake pretty hard to maintain value. I think the Mets should exercise patience here. No one is running away in the East, so there's time.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): There seem to be a bunch of guys doing things with ephus-like pitches. I can't recall a period with so many guys looping slop in there at 50 MPH.

Joe Sheehan: I think of the 1980s as that kind of period. I know it's a memory trick, but it seems to me there was a lot more variation in pitching approaches back then. Of course, there was more room for error, too, as not everyone in the lineup could kill a mistake.

Lightning round...gotta cut this one short, will go longer next month...

tcfwine (Philly): Actually, my situation changed. Now it's between Jerome Williams, Kip Wells and Randy Wolf?

Joe Sheehan: Jerome Williams, and it's not close.

marlette (reno): Where's Piazza in a year, and how much does he have left? HOF?

Joe Sheehan:
I think Piazza gets to the AL as a C/DH. If he's cheap enough, you could see the A's recognizing his value, and heaven knows they need a bat. The Rangers come to mind.

Piazza is a first-ballot, inner-circle Hall of Famer.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Lightning Round : Where will Mike Cameron end up? Will Mike Sweeney be traded? First Manager fired?

Joe Sheehan: Cameron stays in NY, Sweeney stays in KC...but Tony Pena doesn't.

(Anybody see his "handling" of yesterday's eighth inning? Awful...)

Andy (Raleigh): Danny Graves has 7 saves this year, and he's given up a run in almost every one. First, I guess it proves saves are overrated, and second, how long can he keep this up?

Joe Sheehan: Not long. He's been fortunate to have multiple-run leads in those games. Mariano Rivera, you'll recall, didn't have that luxury for a brief stretch and people wanted to release him. LaTroy Hawkins, too, for that matter.

Saves and save opportunities are a terrible tool for evaluating relievers.

Greg (Boulder, CO): Which active player do you most enjoy watching, Joe?

Joe Sheehan: Probably Pedro Martinez, with Greg Maddux still a favorite of mine. Position players, probably Beltran or Edmonds. Might be Carl Crawford in a year.

Last two...

Kim (hartford): 5 Games for Arroyo? 3 each for Carter, Nixon and Brazleton? One each for Francona and Pinella? Sound about right?

Joe Sheehan: I will never understand why they can't put starting pitchers on a different scale than everyone else. That's not a suspension for Arroyo, it's an extra day off between starts.

The numbers other than that are OK. I like that MLB acts on these things much more quickly than they used to.

mjgroh (Chicago): Great work as always at BP. Any news on a Chicago pizza feed? I moved here recently and I would love to check one out.

Joe Sheehan: Good chance of one in the summertime...we might have details sometime in May or June.

Lots of questions about a "My Guys" column...I'll get one out late this week or early next. Not as many players I felt strongly about this year.

Joe Sheehan: Thanks for all the questions...I'm off to see my little cousin get married... congrats, Dee and Chris!


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