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Chat: Ben Lindbergh

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday July 11, 2014 1:00 PM ET chat session with Ben Lindbergh.

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The outgoing editor-in-chief takes your questions about BP and baseball.

Ben Lindbergh: Hi, everyone. Might be the last time I get to do one of these (see link above), so let's make it count. Ask me about BP, ask me about baseball. The lid is off. I've got nothing to lose!* *Still have some things left to lose.

Ben (Charlotte): Just wanted to say thanks for continuing the podcast. I just finished listening to all of Up and In for the first time, I don't think I could handle losing both at once.

Ben Lindbergh: The human spirit is stronger than you think. Life wouldn't have been worth living, but you would have soldiered on anyway, a slave to your genetic programming.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Ben, Has rehabbing a partially torn elbow ligament ever really worked at preventing the eventual need for surgery? Surgery now might mean Tanaka is back in the second half of 2015, while delaying it means he might miss all of next season.

Ben Lindbergh: It has, but not often. Two links, the first from a long time ago and the second from less long ago:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=11604
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21067

Steve (Los Angeles): How long have you been with BP? How did you get your start on your way to becoming editor in chief?

Ben Lindbergh: Answered both of those guys in my article today: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=24123

dee150586 (CA): Hi Ben, No question just wanted thank you for all your great work at BP. Know Sam is going to do a great job here. Also, very excited the podcast is staying I would have been super sad had it ended. Best wishes at Grantland! Will be reading. Thanks, Brittney

Ben Lindbergh: Thanks! And yes, I have the utmost confidence in Sam. Wherever the bar is set, he's going to reach it, if not raise it. He's very talented, he has a great eye for talent in others, and he knows what has historically made BP so special.

Ken (middle of the Pacific ): So as E-in-C, can we expect Sam to make outside media appearances, or will he just send out more staffers to take up the task? And does this mean you'll have more time in the off-season to work on your science fiction novel?

Ben Lindbergh: As for the former: I look forward to finding out! As for the latter: I hope I'll be able to contribute to Grantland in non-baseball areas when baseball is slow. And yes, maybe to noodle around with the Great American Sci-Fi Novel.

reznick (Ivory Tower): As a long-time BP subscriber, I have to ask: why do so many excellent writers leave after a few years? Do you consider yourself something like a "post-doctoral" baseball analytic website?

Ben Lindbergh: I wrote about that a bit in today's article. I think it's because BP is an attractive place for good writers to be, but operates on a smaller scale than ESPN in the exposure/payroll department and can't compete with baseball teams in the "fulfilling my dream to work for a baseball team" department. The good news is that each departure of a writer for more lucrative/dream-fulfilling pastures makes it easier to recruit the next one.

Matt (Cambridge): I've listened to every Effectively Wild episode for nearly the past two years before going to bed. I fear many uneasy nights will come without your dulcet tone being a regular part of my routine. Thanks for everything Ben. I hope to see pieces of Bunting Against the Shift and Catcher Framing over on Grantland.

Ben Lindbergh: The podcast is continuing, so rest easy. And no, my baseball fixations won't change just because the URLs are. Framing and strategies to counter the shift will always fascinate me. My amazing Grantland editor (Mallory Rubin) won't be able to say she didn't know what she was in for.

sihtdaertnod (San Francisco): Please tell me you will be a regular guest on the BS Report.

Ben Lindbergh: I can't promise you that. I can tell you, though, that the host of the BS Report signed off on our current podcast continuing. Effectively Wild fans owe Mr. Simmons.

CalCrawford (Los Angeles): 3rd best Pavement album?

Ben Lindbergh: I've been wrestling with this one since the start of the chat. Crooked Rain 1, Brighten the Corners 2. Slanted and Enchanted, I think, but not an easy choice.

Brett (Charlotte): When you attend games do you ever use a scorecard? If so do you bother keeping them all after you're done with them after the game?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't. Scoring is a great way to make sure you pay attention to the game, but when I'm actually in the ballpark, I don't always want to pay perfect attention. Plus, I can't escape the awareness of how easy it is to look everything up, either after the game or while it's in progress. MLBAM doesn't need me to check its work.

scatterbrian (CA): Hey Ben! One of the quintessential records of my youth was the rookie HR record set by Mark McGwire in 1987. McGwire even had a white IROC-Z with a 49 IN 87 license plate. I realized this morning that Jose Abreu is currently on pace to break that record. Where does this rate on your scale?

Ben Lindbergh: It's not insignificant, but it's not appointment viewing. If I were watching a highlight show and they did a live look-in because he was one away from the record, I wouldn't be upset.

GilaMonster (NYC): There is one question everyone is asking: What are you drinking?

Ben Lindbergh: Not a thing. Wasn't even aware of my moderate thirst until you brought it up. Why does everyone always have to be drinking? Freud would have something to say about this.

andypressman (Portland, OR): There've been plenty of additions to BP over the past couple years, and the site continues to be rich with material. Golden days, etc! But one thing that hasn't changed is the overall structure and design of the website itself. BP would really benefit from a ground-up rethinking of the site's structure and presentation, including a focus on mobile access. Has this been considered but discarded as not cost-effective? Is something taking place behind the scenes? Or is holding true to web design tradition an unwritten rule, part of the BP Way? Congrats on the new gig, thanks for the tremendous work!

Ben Lindbergh: Has been considered, is being considered, has come close to happening. Everyone wants it to happen and is unhappy that it hasn't. Wish I could've done more to make it happen, but web design wasn't my thing. It's going to be a focus for Dan Brooks, Harry Pavlidis, and other talented BPeople, so stay tuned. (By the way, how old does a site design have to be before it becomes cool because it's retro?)

Donnie (Detroit): Thanks for everything and best wishes for continued success!! What do you think about the performance of Nick Castellanos so far this season??

Ben Lindbergh: Thus far, PECOTA's projection seems smart. He's looked somewhat better as the season's gone on and should be fine in the future, but in the short term, some left-handed help at the hot corner wouldn't hurt--which is something that one could also say about the Braves and Royals. Eric Chavez got hurt at the wrong time. Then again, that's usually the case with Eric Chavez.

Dylan (Boston): During your tenure at BP, What was your favorite article that you wrote? Favorite piece you edited?

Ben Lindbergh: Probably some of the less serious ones. This, for instance: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19397. Or Internet Commenters Try to Trade for Giancarlo Stanton. I think about this one a lot: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15661. Wasn't the best, but was kind of a turning point, in terms of convincing me that it was okay to cut loose and have fun. My girlfriend gave me the idea, so I owe her for that.

Favorite edit is tough. I edited everything Sam wrote, and everything Sam wrote was great, but it was great when I got it. As an editor, it's always nice to feel like you made a difference in improving an article, and Sam selfishly robbed me of that joy by turning in such clean copy. Maybe Gabe Kapler's piece about "Giving Up the PED Guessing Game": http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21574. Gabe's raw copy wasn't difficult to work with either, but I encouraged him to write it and made a few useful suggestions, and it was a huge hit. Happy that BP played a part in introducing him to a larger audience.

hotstatrat / John Carter (bright day in Toronto): Ben, these minuses stress me out. I can't help taking them personally. I strive to write my comments well and make only keen observations. Yet, someone is always boo-ing them - without explaining why. Now that you are leaving, perhaps, you can explain how you all justify allowing your readers to boo other commenters. I've written Hanrahi numerously, but he never answers. Booing/minus-ing and not answering a polite heartfelt e-mail are rude and only forces me to take hiatuses from commenting.

Ben Lindbergh: I've gotta say, I've never understood why anyone stresses about the minuses--unless your comments are routinely getting hidden, in which case you might want to consider adjusting your tone (and I know that's not what you're talking about). A stray -1 or -2, though--it's better not to think about it. Could be because the person was having a bad day. Could be because the person disagreed with your opinion, even though the substance of the comment was fine. Don't worry about it! Let it go! Can't please everyone. Plus, if you let on that it bugs you, people might minus just to get a rise out of you.

Shaun P. (Medway, MA): OK, not that important, but . . . Joe Sheehan is long gone; so are Jay Jaffe and Steven Goldman; now you. Who is the resident (former) Yankees fan on the BP staff now? Best of luck in the new digs and thanks for all the awesome work at BP!

Ben Lindbergh: You know, I'm not sure there is one. I don't think that's a problem. Most people would probably consider fewer Yankees fans (either active or lapsed) a feature, not a bug.

bgrosnick (Ann Arbor): Hey there, Ben. Is there something wise or useful you could share that you learned from being the EiC at Baseball Prospectus?

Ben Lindbergh: Even at a company without a physical office, being a good clubhouse guy goes a long way. Hit your deadlines. Help out other authors. Do what you can to show your support for the company. Don't be a dick on Twitter. People notice, and they appreciate it. I certainly did.

Bill (Boston): Good luck, Ben!! I know it's very early in Rafael Dever's career and it is a small sample size, but what can you tell us about his potential?? Thanks for the chat!!

Ben Lindbergh: I can't tell you anything, though some members of the BP Prospect Staff (Jason Parks or Chris Mellen, maybe) probably could. I have my hands full keeping track of players who are actually in the majors, let alone guys who just turned 17. Unless the player's a prodigy, I'm okay with waiting to get to know him until he's within a few years of making an impact in the majors.

gweedoh565 (Ann Arbor): I actually like that BP hasn't undergone a major format redesign since... whenever. Every time a website undergoes a redesign, it's like that time you come home during/after college and your Mom has turned your childhood room into a guest room. I vote for BP to become the baseball website version of Big Boy (gosh, there HAS to be a better comparison...), unapologetically stuck in the 60's forever.

Ben Lindbergh: I'll say this for the BP site: It's readable. It's not always easy to know where to find everything, and there's plenty of room for improvement in the sortables, but it's hard to screw up black text on a white background. I'm kind of a curmudgeon when it comes to web design--I don't need a big, screen-filling photo at the top that I need to scroll past to get to the text, and I don't need fancy scrolling images throughout the page. If the writing is good, I'll keep reading without any bells and whistles (though I'm all for good use of video, which we've done much more of during my time here).

LeBron James (Cleveland): Ben, are you trying to steal my thunder by announcing you are taking your talents to Grantland? Congrats, but you'll be missed here. Are you going to have any on-air role at ESPN in addition to your writing?

Ben Lindbergh: I'll note that I made my announcement first, so I'm not sure who's trying to show up who here. Thanks for the kind words. I'm certainly willing to do TV for ESPN, and I hope I'll have the chance. I've enjoyed getting to do it at MLB Network.

Bill Simmons (The Internet): Another piece falls into place in my diabolic plan to hoard talent and take over the internet.***evil laugh***

Ben Lindbergh: Hiring BPers to write about baseball seems like a sound strategy to me. It's what Billy Beane would do, if he had a website. And if you're going to cover culture too, you can at least put "Prospectus" in the title.

MylesHandley (Indianapolis): It's 1:01, and you haven't answered a question. Are you slacking, now that you're gone?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm taking a one-week break between leaving BP and starting at Grantland, and I don't know what to do with myself. Vacation is not my natural state.

JR (Philly): Did you know that the archives on your chat home page all link to empty screens? What a tease! I was really looking forward to going back t a Goldstein 2007 chat to see what he said about prospects and if it came to fruition...

Ben Lindbergh: Looks like the links work back to 2008. Pretty sure the even earlier ones are lurking somewhere in a database. I'll ask.

Ron (Texarkana): Who has the better offensive career, Springer or Baez?

Ben Lindbergh: That's a heck of a question. Some of the same strengths and weaknesses. I'll go with Baez because of the age advantage.

LeBron (Cleveland): What position can I play for the Tribe?

Ben Lindbergh: You have the raw tools to play a lot of places, but you lack the thousands of hours of experience necessary for pitch recognition. I think your best shot is as an extra outfielder.

Hypothetical Trades (Everywhere): Hypothetical Trade: The Rockies send Tulowitzki to the Dodgers for Joc Pederson and Julio Urias. Who says no? The Dodger can move HanRam to 3rd this(where he should be),aquire a SS for next year, they can afford him, and the Rockies get 2 top 20 prospects to add to their hoard. Smart in-division trade?

Ben Lindbergh: Rockies say no. I think they're inclined to say no to almost anything, and Urias plus Pederson isn't an overwhelming enough package.

Jay (PHX): Now that you're leaving for Grantland, would you be interested in writing a series in which you introduce a scouting perspective to help us out with our Grantland Reality TV Fantasy Dynasty Leagues?

Ben Lindbergh: I've seen every episode of Millionaire Matchmaker. Might as well put all that time to good use.

bb10kbb10k (erie, pa): :-(

Ben Lindbergh: Aw, cheer up. The podcast is continuing, the site is in good hands, and I'll just be writing about baseball on the internet.

Ken (middle of the Pacific ): What reaction do you most often get when you tell people you're in the sabermetrics field? And if you could pitch an idea for "30 in 30," what would it be?

Ben Lindbergh: "Like in Moneyball?" "Yeah, like in Moneyball."

In all seriousness--and I'm not saying this because I'm a homer--the story of Baseball Prospectus would make a fine 30 for 30. I know Christina Kahrl agrees.

gweedoh565 (Ann Arbor): I really enjoyed reading your "origin" story in your send off. I'm still curious as to how you came to be E-in-C, particularly at such a young age... did you lobby for the position when it opened up or was it offered? Congrats on all the things, btw!

Ben Lindbergh: Thank you. Youth has never really been an obstacle to occupying a position of importance at BP, and I was in the right place at the right time. Steven Goldman (and Dave Pease and Joe Hamrahi) showed a lot of faith in me by making me a full-time writer/editor when Steve took over for John Perrotto, and when Steve left, I was the natural successor, just as Sam was for me.

AJ (Phoenix): The Cubs went from having an interesting infield logjam to just trolling us. How do you see it playing out?

Ben Lindbergh: Russell at short, and the rest revolves around that. A Castro trade might be the most likely, but I don't think the Cubs would refuse to trade a top prospect if the right deal came along. The good thing is that these guys have some positional flexibility--Bryant can play third or outfield, Baez could slide over somewhere, Alcantara can play all over the infield, etc. It's going to be fun to watch all the pieces fall into place.

Frank (NY): Travis d'Arnaud has come up and been pretty good of late, after tearing up Las Vegas. Do you think he has finally turned it around and will become the quality catcher we all thought he would?

Ben Lindbergh: He's a quality receiver, so while he looked bad at the plate early on, it's hard for me to believe he won't hit enough to be a playable starter, if not the star some expected.

Xander (Boston): How do I get back on track?? Can't remember ever struggling like this....

Ben Lindbergh: Might be a good time to take your mind off your problems. Why not learn another language?

Shaun (Fairbanks): Do you ever think MLB will re-allign divisions? Have the DH in both leagues? Expand with new teams? Expand or relocate a team to Las Vegas? Portland?

Ben Lindbergh: Yes.

Ben Lindbergh: All right, gotta go. This has been fun. And by "this" I mean not only this chat, but my entire time at BP. I'll be around; subscribe to the podcast, follow me on Twitter, find me at Grantland, email me (my BP email still works), and so on. Support Baseball Prospectus, because it's a special place. Thanks for all of your kind words and attention, both today and throughout the years.


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