Matthew Kory writes the once-daily Hit List, covers the Red Sox at Over the Monster, contributes regularly to Sports on Earth, and knows his way around a punchline.
Matthew Kory: Hello Baseball Prospectus readers! I'm here to talk about baseball and anything else that strikes your fancy (with the appropriate caveat that fancy striking is illegal in some states). Let's chat!
Scott (CT): How excited should we be about Rafael Devers? The kid has done everything, and more, of what was expected of him going into this year. I know he's 17, but are you as excited about him as I am?
Matthew Kory: Sorry for starting a few minutes late. I had to plug in my computer, part of my devious plan to slowly drain the planet's energy supply. Also I had to re-heat my coffee.
I'm not the prospect guy or even a prospect guy, but I am familiar with Devers. His power is huge and his ceiling is up there with the power, but he's 17 and in the Gulf Coast League. He's a very exciting prospect, but while there is lots of time for things to go right, there is also lots of development left to go wrong. So, to answer the question directly, be as excited as you like, but remember 17 years old means you're looking at, best case, 3-5 years before he even hits the majors and starts making adjustments there.
Matthew V. (Washington): Am sorry I won't be able to read your work at SoE. What lesson about sportswriting should we take from that site's semi-destruction?
Matthew Kory: Thanks, so am I. I'm thankful the fine folks here at BP are still putting up with me and it's an honor to chat with fine BP readers so I'm (still) pretty lucky.
Take aways? I don't know... from a reader standpoint, maybe don't forget to update your bookmarks. From a writer standpoint, just enjoy the moment because you never know when things will go poof.
Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Matthew, Even with his mind blowing power potential, Gallo has a blood curdling strikeout rate. What is your outlook for him in the bigs and what do you see as a typical Gallo season?
Matthew Kory: Lots of Gallo questions. People dig the home run. Lots of Ks is the problem and unless those dissipate a bit the ceiling is limited. Think of Mark Reynolds who has bounced around a lot despite having huge power. Huge power by itself isn't enough. You have to have some ability to take advantage of scared pitchers (i.e. get on base) too. So that's the fear with Gallo. That he'll get himself out too much and limit himself in that way. We'll have to see how he develops. He's an exciting player to watch though, and one of the exhibits I'd point to (at least in terms of player type) when people claim strikeouts are ruining the game.
MikeGianella (Philadelphia): All this talk of what is or isn't a sandwich but we haven't even addressed the main point: sandwiches are overrated. What's wrong with just jamming cold cuts and cheese directly into your mouth? I realize this isn't a baseball question.
Matthew Kory: My grandfather would say there is a time and a place for everything so there is nothing wrong with jamming cold cuts and cheese directly into your mouth as long as you are on a first date. (This advice is specifically for Mike so don't blame me when a mouthful of meat and cheese gets you walked out on.)
Evan (Iowa): Please give me your top three. Thanks.
Matthew Kory: Hmm... I guess first I'll go with 1. After that... 2? Yeah. 2. And then three. So, top three, 1, 2, and 3.
Brawny (Boston): Is Garrin Cecchini a good bounce back candidate for next year?
Matthew Kory: Depends on how much you believe in the skills. The defense isn't great and the power hasn't really shown up yet above Single-A so I'm not sure a .400 OBP for Pawtucket next season would be bouncing back so much as developing. I tend to get excited by high OBP but Cecchini is going to have to hit and hit or a bit of power before he's able to do that at the major league level. I think he's a major leaguer though so in that sense, yeah, I expect improvement/further development from him.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): I keep waiting for my Cardinals to kick the offense in gear. But at this point, is it time to just realize that this is the year the RISP karma comes back around & it isn't our year?
Matthew Kory: The cursed baseball gods are at it again. Last year the Cardinals were the best in baseball by a wide margin with runners in scoring position (until the World Series, anyway) and this year they're among the worse. But here's the thing: it's not a skill. And we know that. It's hitting and the team is better than they have been with RISP so in that sense improvement should start today, but they're not nor were they ever the .343 or whatever it was with RISP team they looked last season.
Matthew V. (Washington): It's ridiculous that everybody was talking about sending Bryce Harper down to Triple-A. he should be sent to Double-A, right?
Matthew Kory: I think when Harper was rehabing in Double-A he was still the youngest guy on the team, which should tell you something and that something is, no send him to Single-A! The Nationals think, and likely not without cause, that Harper is one of the three best outfielders they have in their organization. I agree with them. We've all been spoiled by Mike Trout. [shakes fist] TROUT! But players don't do what he's done. Everyone looks at young players like Harper and Bogaerts and thinks, 'what's wrong with them?' But nothing is wrong with them. Playing in the majors is really hard and players don't step into the majors and become perennial MVP candidates (heck, even Trout didn't do that). Harper has had some injury issues and I still think that is the only thing that will hold him back from an outstanding career. But, sure, send him down and play some inferior player in his place in the middle of a pennant race!
mattsussman (The Internet): How tall would the Fenway Park wall have to be for it to be "too" tall
Matthew Kory: Ed "Too Tall" Jones was 6'9 so that
mdotmorris22 (Minnesota): Early thoughts on Bos SP Michael Kopech
Matthew Kory: He's pitcher drafted out of high school. Good luck! [crosses fingers]
JP (TX): Do you have 32ish more gut punch one liners for the Rangers already teed up or do they just come to you?
Matthew Kory: Writing the Hit List is really fun. Or a giant chore, but mostly it's really fun. There are some teams that are just easier to write about. For some reason I can never seem to come up with something on the Cardinals. The list will be almost finished and I'll look up and it'll be the Cardinals and some other team still to go. [shakes fist] Cardinals! But the Rangers aren't that way. They're, I guess, more interesting. Adrian Beltre and Ron Washington and pitcher injuries and it never hurts to crash and burn because that's always good material. So, no, I don't have them teed up. They just come to me, but those are the easy ones. [shakes fist] Cardinals!!
Bryan (Denver): IIRC you wrote about going to Phillies games and living in Philadelphia along time ago. Are the fans really different in Philly like they have the reputation for? is that an old stereotype about them? Do high ticket prices turn every stadium's fans into the same mix of business clients, kids with rich grandparents, and other well-behaved nice people?
Matthew Kory: There are nice people everywhere you go. It's true. I hear people talk about visiting certain places and being surprised that people were nice. Most people are nice. Most people. Philly is a wonderful place and I lived there for a long time, something I wouldn't have done if I hated it (probably). But I do think there is a more pessimistic attitude there than in some other cities, especially when it comes to their sports. They're almost looking for failure and then when they see it they're like BOOO! BOOO! (which means "I see it").
But all of this is from personal experience, which is to say it's not scientific. It's just what I've seen and what I've experienced.
Corey (New york): Three recommendations for Rob Manfred, one serious, one serious but utterly unrealistic, and one that need be only as serious as you deem necessary.
Matthew Kory: 1. Limit the number of pitching changes an inning by requiring pitchers to throw to more than one batter (maybe as many as three).
2. Move the Rays to New York
3. Do all press conferences both completely seriously and in clown makeup and then if anyone mentions it INSANE CLOWN POSSEE WHOOOO next question please
Joon Lee (Mars): Pizza or hot dogs?
Matthew Kory: Pizza. I'm a vegetarian though so that's an easy one. Also, so is Pizza vs. anything other food because I'll always pick pizza. Pizza is yummy!
Festivus313 (Pittsburgh): Pedro Alvarez can't throw to first and seems to be regressing as a hitter...How should the Pirates handle this? Do you think he bounces back?
Matthew Kory: I think they're handling it the right way, at least from what I've seen. He's got skills and they're trying to give him a chance to be a positive force on the team. That said, they're in a pennant race so they can only give him so many chances before they have to put someone in there who can play the position.
I do think he can be better than he has been this season, but then it's not like he has a lot of skills to carry him. It's really kinda one skill at this point. I should note here though that, according to WARP, he's been almost a two and a half win player this year which isn't bad at all. That's about two wins more than B-R though the difference of which comes down to how good his defense is. I'm not sure I'm buying his defense as plus, but your mileage may vary.
Alex (Anaheim): Do you think we'll see Tanaka on the mound again this year?
Matthew Kory: We very well might, and that would be great and at the same time worrisome. Recall his apology to the team and fans for getting hurt in the first place and it's not hard to see the player push himself too hard to get back and help a team in the race for the playoffs. You'd think the Yankees would place the pitcher's long-term health over the team this season (if for no other reason than the contract he's on) but we've seen before that that isn't always the case. I think baseball fans deserve a healthy Tanaka and I hope we get to see one, even if it isn't until next season.
Allen (San Diego): Will the Red Sox' offseason this year resemble their "rebuilding" 2012-2013 offseason or is this a different situation?
Matthew Kory: If I had to compare the coming off-season to any in recent memory it might be 2010. That was the year they signed Carl Crawford and traded for and extended the contract of Adrian Gonzalez. There are going to be some big moves this off-season by the Red Sox and they've got the farm system to make some huge trades (we keep hearing about Giancarlo Stanton but I think Jason Heyward is a possibility too) and a big free agent signing or two. They have payroll flexibility and the need for star power at the major league level. This is going to be a big move winter for Boston. They love the World Series win (obviously) but they want to build a consistent winner and when this season is done they is a good chance they'll have finished in last place two out of the last three seasons.
Cal Guy (Cal): Matthew, Todd Frazier: Real Deal or Regression Candidate in 2015?
Matthew Kory: The funny thing is he's had this season before, in 2012 but the offensive environment was a bit different and the value of that season is higher now. He's not a huge star but he's a good power source and a valuable player for the Reds. I haven't done exhaustive analysis but there's nothing here that screams regression.
Shawnykid23 (CT): Who are the 5 pitchers in the Red Sox rotation to start 2015?
Matthew Kory: I'm honestly quite curious about this myself! I think they'll get some frontline starter, whether it's re-signing Lester, adding Shields, or trading for Hamels (which makes less sense, but whatever) or Cueto or someone else. I think these next few months will help figure out where the Ranaudo/Webster/De La Rosa/Workman pieces fit, and then there's Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz. There's five in there somewhere, but I wouldn't be shocked if one or more of the prospect/young pitcher group is traded and same for Buchholz. Big changes coming, I think.
Dan (Toronto): Hey Matthew, thanks for the chat! Just wanted to know which of these players would you keep (I can keep only 9 and am in re-build mode):
Mesoraco, Zunino, Trumbo, Kipnis, Rollins, Bogaerts, Addison Russell, Castellanos, Marte, Yelich, Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper and Joc Pederson
Matthew Kory: I'm not a fantasy guy, but it's fun! I'm just not an expert. So I'd ask Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella on the twitters) or one of our fine prospect guys here at BP.
One guy I wouldn't get rid of though (no matter what Mike says) is Bryce Harper.
Cal Guy (c): Hi Matt, Who would you rather have in a dynasty league with OBP, Gallo or Sano? Thanks!
Matthew Kory: Two Double-A guys? Man. If you have a real answer to this you should let the Twins and Rangers know.
Jim (Boston): Who makes up the Red Sox infield in 2015?
Matthew Kory: Pedroia! So that's one. I have a hard time imaging they'll move Napoli, so he'll probably be at first. Bogaerts will be at short or third. I'm guessing third, but that's one of the things the Red Sox hope to learn over the next two months. At short then, Deven Marrero? Things are easier if Bogaerts stays at short both because third is an easier position to fill and because the team has Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt, Garin Cecchini, and probably someone I'm forgetting.
chopper (indy): what do you predict would be the ETA for Jorge Alfaro in Arlington, and is Robert Stephenson going to be top-of-rotation starter?
Matthew Kory: I'm not super familiar with Alfaro but I can say that, as a Double-A catcher, he's probably got a fair bit of development time left. As for Stephenson, well, it doesn't matter who the name is attached to that question, the safe answer is no.
Joey Votto (Dr.'s office): Im being pawned off in fantasy leagues for prospects. Is this criminal?
Matthew Kory: As a matter of fact yes and anyone caught doing it should be put directly into prison!
Billy (Arlington): What's your upside projection for Rougned Odor?? Should we be impressed that he's not overwhelmed by MLB at age 20??
Matthew Kory: I'll stick with PECOTA whne it comes to projections, but absolutely, we should be very impressed when a 20 year old of any name doesn't sink immediately at the major league level.
Cobbieguy (UT): Will the fact that the Red Sox received assets for Lester make it more likely they will make an offer closer to market value? Or does it have to be viewed as two completely separate transactions?
Matthew Kory: It's two transactions. The team has the asset (Cespedes) already, with no free agent offer to Lester. So those two things are unrelated, but as for Lester, his free agency will be interesting. Everything points to a return to Boston but I can't get past this question: why didn't they just sign him in the first place? The only answer I can come up with is Red Sox Discount Lester + Additional Free Agent Cost < Free Agent Lester + One Year of Cespedes. That said, the Red Sox will explore other avenues though so if Lester's cost gets way out of hand (quite possible) they could go after James Shields or another pitcher on the trade market (again, Hamels?) instead.
The Dude (Office): How do you take your coffee? I could use some right now...
Matthew Kory: Just black. When I started drinking coffee I put milk and sugar in and I've slowly weened myself off of those two additives. The next time you (or anyone reading this) is in Portland, OR, be sure to go to the Stumptown Coffee Roasters HQ and enjoy a free coffee tasting. It's interesting stuff.
mdotmorris22 (Minnesota): 1B Sam Travis have any real chance to the starting 1B in Bos someday?
Matthew Kory: Yes!
mdotmorris22 (Minnesota): Was Tex SP Luis Ortiz a steal at the end of the 1st rd this year?
Matthew Kory: Maybe!
Hawk (Waukegan): Is Wil Myers worth a pick up for ROS? Would have to drop Crawford, Span or JD Martinez.
Also, Odorizzi or Stroman ROS?
Matthew Kory: Sure!
curious (everywhere): why are you a vegetarian?
Matthew Kory: Animals are nice!
mdotmorris22 (Minnesota): How pumped should Boston fans be about the early returns on Rafael Devers?
Matthew Kory: Pumped!
Peter (Toronto): What are your thoughts on Manuel Margot and Wendell Rijo?
Matthew Kory: They could be good!
Matthew Kory: And that'll do it for the chat. I thank you so much for stopping in and spending part of your day with me here at Baseball Prospectus! We'll talk again soon I hope!