BP Author Jeff Long is here for his first-ever chat. Don't forget to ask him the creepy one about which player's estate he would want half of.
Jeff Long: Hey everyone, let's get this started. Also, FYI - every third question will be answered by my dog who is named after a Food Network personality. So get excited for that. https://twitter.com/BSLJeffLong/status/553234593869213697
Callie Fornya (Where You Think?): Would you rather take a selfie with a lion OR catch Aroldis Chapman without protective gear?
Jeff Long: This is a great one to start with. I'll take the selfie with the lion. A while back Tim Kurkjian did a piece on pros getting HBP (http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8195515/what-feels-get-hit-pitch). Here's my favorite quote: "It was like my face was crushed by a bowling ball, a bowling ball going 95 mph." That's from Kevin Seitzer who got hit by Scott Erickson. Chapman throws 10 mph harder than that! No thanks.
Ronson (On the Scratches): Who would you rather have as your team's GM: Dan Jennings (MIAMI) or Jeff Luhnow (HOUSTON)?
Jeff Long: Give me Luhnow here. I actually think Jennings has done a lot of really smart things, but Luhnow seems like a guy who would be able to adjust to each new situation quickly and intelligently. The Astros were a disaster before he got there.
@md9647 (states): What metrics should be standard in evaluating HoF candidates?
Jeff Long: So some form of WAR for sure. Also some baseline stats like triple slash for hitters and/or ERA/FIP, Ks, BBs, etc. for Pitchers. My go-to source for HoF insight is the Hall of Stats (read their methodology here: http://www.hallofstats.com/about)
Walter J (DC): Is Tanner Roark the real deal, or has the last 250 IPs been a mirage? Is he a core piece to build a rotation around, or a back end guy?
Jeff Long: The biggest question with Roark is, what kind of pitcher is he exactly? 2:1 GB:FB ratio in 2013, but 1:1 in 2014. He pounds the zone a lot (8% more pitches in the zone than average SP) and throws a lot of first pitch strikes. So batted ball distribution is key here. I like hi as a 4/5, especially on that good staff, but there are still big question marks.
Bobby Grich (Dover): Say you're the unilateral decision maker for a future Veteran's Committee charged with electing a single second basemen. Who do you pick? It's me, right?
Jeff Long: This really comes down to Grich or Whitaker (or maybe Willie Randolph if you squint real hard). I'm giving the edge to Grich because he had a 70 or better mustache, and his peak was a little higher. For a couple of seasons he was a monster, and I like strong peaks in my HoFers.
Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Jeff, Welcome! If Glasnow is able to improve his command, and pairs that with his nearly unhittable stuff, would you rather have him or Giolito, with his surgically effective and efficient stuff?
Jeff Long: I'm really high on both pitchers, but give me Giolito in this case. When it comes to prospects I'm more of a ceiling (as opposed to floor or likely landing spot) kind of guy (like peak for HoF careers) and Giolito's ceiling is immense. That said, Glasnow has some great stuff, but the command is a big question mark and I think his ceiling is a bit lower than Giolito's. If Giolito has the ceiling of a #1, Glasnow is probably a #2 ceiling, with 2/3 being more likely.
This is a great question for the prospect guys too, Nick Faleris is doing a chat in a couple weeks on all the team Top 10s.
allangustafson (SanDiego): Do you see Arrieta holding on to his command of the strike zone? Will his adjustments not carry over to the new season?
Jeff Long: This is a great question because I watched Arrieta develop here in Baltimore. The funny thing is ... he didn't actually throw a lot more strikes in 2014. He threw fewer pitches in the strike zone, but he got more swings on pitches out of the zone, and more whiffs in general.
I think Arrieta's cutter is now a really strong offering. It has a hard late break which gets a lot of whiffs & weak contact. I'm buying Arrieta's 2015 for sure.
Grizz (America): Who won this dynasty trade:
Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Kyle Lohse for Yan Gomes, AJ Griffin, 25 overall in 2015 draft?
Jeff Long: This is a good one for the fantasy guys, but I'll give you my take really quickly. Lohse is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball (I kind of have a man crush on him - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=24770) so the team getting him automatically wins. Seriously though, this is a future vs. now trade, and the team getting the established guys seems to do really well here. Love Gomes, but your league probably doesn't account for pitch framing, so that tempers his fantasy value a bit.
allangustafson (San Diego ): What "effective "pitcher that is older than 30 do you see not being effective in the American and national league in 2015?
Jeff Long: Mark Buehrle has to be one, right? I mean, his witch magic is going to run out at some point.
I do think Edinson Volquez's "effective" 2014 was a mirage. his K% and BB% don't inspire confidence, and I think he comes back to Earth quite a bit this year.
As for the AL ... the former Oriole Alfredo Simon who was acquired by Detroit is a huge regression candidate. His K% never matched the stuff, and his ugly peripherals will start to catch up with him against better offenses.
dvanhait (Holland): Would you comment on Betance's 2014 campaign and whether or not you think he's capable of a repeat performance in 2015?
Jeff Long: Yes. Betances is a ridiculous human being. If I were Girardi I'd use Betances & Miller as a lefty/righty platoon in the highest leverage innings. That curveball. Swoon-worthy.
Angelsteve89 (NY, NY): Thoughts on the Drew signing? Seems cheap but not really needed. Couple one of the minors leaguers be moved in part of a bigger deal?
Jeff Long: There's little to no downside here for the Yankees. Drew is a decent player who can cover 2B to start the season and gives them some midseason flexibility to buy, through trading those prospects you mentioned, or sell and move Drew.
There's also a bit of Drew being insurance for Gregorious in there too, no?
Ron B. (Palomar): One of us picks any five NL pitchers; the other gets Kershaw. Winner is the one who has more Cy Youngs in the next decade. Do you choose Kershaw or the five?
Jeff Long: Oh God. If I take ... Darvish, Felix, Kluber, Iwakuma, Tanaka then I think that side might have it. I wouldn't be surprised if Fernandez or Harvey sneak in and steal a CY from Kershaw sometime in the next 5 years.
It's silly that this is a relevant question though. Kershaw is probably an alien.
BirdsEyeView (Baltimore): Jonathan Schoop was rated very highly in 2014 (6th in MLB) in regards to UZR/150 at 2B in 1010 Innings. Should the Orioles be expecting regression here?
Jeff Long: Jonathan Schoop's defense had to be one of the most pleasant surprises for O's fans in 2014. I don't think anybody saw that coming. To me, there likely is some regression in the range for Schoop, but he's among the best in the game at turning double plays, and I think there's other defensive talent in there that isn't necessarily range-related. If Schoop hits like he supposedly will, and plays 75% of the defense he did in 2014, the O's are set for a long time at second base.
chaneyhey (St. Louis): Whose long term future do you like better: Joc Pederson or Gregory Polanco?
Jeff Long: This one is tough, and honestly it's probably a better question for our prospect team. That said, I'll throw my opinion out there and you can take or leave it. Pederson came into 2014 as a tweener guy for me, but he showed that the on base skills and power are for real. He's a solid corner OFer who could play CF in a pinch it seems. Polanco had a rough 2014, but there's real talent in there. That said, it basically comes down to Pederson's OBP skills and Polanco's power for me.
Given that choice... I'm inclined to go with Pederson. Same ceiling I think, but Pederson's floor might be a bit higher.
glworld (hawaii): what's the latest on buxton- true centerfielder, health status and ETA?
Jeff Long: Another great question for our prospect team, but I'll answer as best I can. He's definitely a true CFer, and probably will be one of the better defensive ones in MLB when he arrives. That said he's had a lot of wrist & concussion issues recently, both of which are scary injuries for a baseball player (or any human generally). He got 3 PA in AA last year, so I think the Twins will want him to get at least 3/4 of a season in AA fully healthy before calling him up. If he just explodes, then maybe he's up in June, but a September cup of coffee would seem more prudent in my opinion.
insidethezona (Boston): We never see contracts, but with few exceptions (like the 2014 Punto vesting option), we get all of the specifics. Why don't we get specifics as reliably for front office guys? Is it a matter of reporters not wanting to bite the hand that feeds them?
Jeff Long: Great question. There are a couple of things going on here. First off - the players want/need contract info out in the open. From a union standpoint it helps other players craft arguments about their value to teams, and generally helps to push the amounts up. Also, I think there's a larger clamoring in the public for player salaries than FO talent, so there's less of an incentive for the media to pry.
I do think your point about not biting the hand that feeds them is relevant too, the media likely don't want to have a discussion that could build ill-will.
Finally, there's one other piece to it in that the GMs interact with media daily, so it's not surprising that they'd communicate salary info for the guys they "hire": players. The team CEO or president is the one hiring GMs and FO talent, and they are likely less inclined to chat with Ken Rosenthal about how much they just spent on personnel.
I'm sure there are a hundred other reasons too.
Ryan (D.C.): How surprised are you that the Orioles haven't really done anything this winter? What good is two playoff appearances in three years if you're not going to spend some of that money?
Jeff Long: I'm not really surprised. I think this is Dan Duquette's M.O., and that's ok. The team is technically spending that money on all the arb raises they have coming up, but next offseason is a big turning point. The O's will have 11 FAs including key pieces like Davis, Wieters, and Chen. If they still don't spend next winter, then that sends a sign about what they think this team's window looks like.
kylanje (Florida): Where would Yoan Moncada and Brady Aiken rank if prospect eligible? Top 25? Top 10?
Jeff Long: This one is a good question for the prospect guys, but I'll take a stab at it. When our prospect team did the midseason top 50 prospects they had Aiken between 33 and 40, but that was before the UCL issue. So my guess is he's probably around 50 or so?
As for Moncada ... Jim Callis recently said he'd be right above the top pitchers from the last draft which means in the 10-20 range. With all the hype around him, he sounds like a top 5 guy, but he'll probably need to show he can hit pro pitching here in the US before he gets that kind of respect.
hotstatrat (freezing Toronto): Jeff - How optimistic are you that Cliff Lee will return to excellence?
Jeff Long: So Cliff Lee's issues last year were in his forearm and elbow, with a Flexor Pronator Strain of the former and a flexor mass of the latter. Elbows are, admittedly, less concerning than shoulder injuries. Still though, when you hear about forearm & elbow issues, you start to wonder if Tommy John is coming soon.
If Lee is 100% healthy I think he'll be at least 80%-90% of his old self. The question is whether or not his elbow will actually be 100% healthy.
John (Boston): Hey Jeff,Between Kluber and DeGrom,both never were in there teams top 10,both sort of came out of no where...who do you like better???
Jeff Long: I'm pissed about Kluber because all the warning signs for a breakout were there in 2013. His FIP was 3.3, and his peripherals looked great and showed signs of improving. Just mad I missed it.
As for Kluber vs. DeGrom, I think that Kluber gets the nod here. It's not that DeGrom isn't a good pitcher, because he is. He's just not on Kluber's level yet. DeGrom has done a great job of proving his prospect rankings wrong, but Kluber is a top 5 pitcher in the AL right now, and DeGrom isn't even the top pitcher in his own rotation for 2015 (Harvey).
topheroc (boston): Giovany Urshela. What can we reasonably expect from him this year and the future? Does he get time at third base with the Indians this year? He hit well in AA and AA, has good defense skills. Can he break the camp with the team?
Jeff Long: I'd ask some of the prospect guys as Urshela is out of my wheelhouse. I will say that it'll be tough for him to break camp with the team barring injury because I think Chisenhall is the starter there and Aviles is capable enough to back him up if necessary.
Urshela could see some time this year, just not sure if it'd be that soon.
Silverback38 (VA): Since pitching seems to be the specialty, who do you think has the better projection: Taillon with great pitching coaches, Syndergaard in the huge pitchers park so they decided to move the fences in to help our offense, or Heaney with the better team offensive support?
Jeff Long: Another good one for the prospect guys, but since all three are pretty close to MLB-ready I'll take a stab at it. I mentioned I like ceiling vs. floor, and Taillon/Syndergaard are one notch above Heaney for ceiling I think.
Then it comes down to likelihood of reaching that ceiling, and there I think the nod goes to Syndergaard. Taillon is enticing, but there are still some big question marks there. Syndergaard could easily come up in May and do pretty darn well I think.
If you like the safer option, it's definitely Heaney. I just think that Syndergaard is a solid #2 while Heaney is probably a solid #3.
Daniel (San Jose): If you could download all the knowledge and wisdom of any person involved in baseball (player, active or retired; coach, GM, scout, Bill James) and use it for your own writing and baseball enjoyment, whose knowledge would you steal?
Jeff Long: This is a terrific question, and I'm honestly not sure how to answer it exactly. I think my choice would be Jed Hoyer. Hoyer has worked in nearly every department of a front office, so he likely has a really wide variety of knowledge that I could steal and use.
There's a lot of directions to go with that, and I almost gave a lot of obvious answers like Paul DePodesta, Billy Beane, or John Mozeliak.
Actually I might have just changed my answer to Mozeliak.
This is a great question. I'll be thinking about this for hours now.
Bryan Cole (Boston, Mass.): It's cold as anything today but take heart: five weeks until the college baseball season starts!
Jeff Long: Yes! This. Though having played baseball in the snow in March, I can tell you that it's only real baseball down south at that point.
dbradley88 (SoCal): Please look in your crystal ball and tell us about Matt Kemp's next 3 seasons.
Jeff Long: Kemp is a fun one to look at because he could follow the Albert Belle path of killing the ball for two seasons and then being out of baseball forever, or he could play mediocre baseball for three years, or he could just keep on trucking with no issues.
If pressed I'd put a triple slash of .265/.325/.435 on him over the next three years maybe. That's pretty good on a bad hip!
Bryan Cole (Boston, Mass.): a) This is to remind you that you promised pictures of Pomeranians.
b) Suppose you only get access to *some* of the StatCast data. Would you rather have the expanded pitching data, the hitting data, or the fielding/baserunning data? And what would you do with it?
Jeff Long: Since you asked so nicely - https://twitter.com/BSLJeffLong/status/553248101428101120
If we only get some of the StatCast data, then I'll be sad. I think I'd rather have expanded fielding/baserunning data because that's our biggest blind spot right now, and it has impacts on the other two types of data you mentioned.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Will Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and/or Aaron Nola be able to claim a spot in the Phillies rotation? Will either of them be league-average in that ballpark?
Jeff Long: I think Nola breaks with the team. Gonzalez has a shot too, but Nola was probably MLB-ready when he was drafted.
Gonzalez needs to be fully stretched out as a starter right? That takes time so AAA seems likely. I think Nola will be better than league average and Gonzalez might be a notch below.
Ron B. (Palomar): Which team has improved the most this offseason for 2016? What about for 2018?
Jeff Long: Great question. It has to be the Dodgers right? They got a bit younger and a bit more well-rounded while keeping all their prospects.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Can/will Carlos Martinez develop his change-up (or some other pitch) enough to be able to contain left-handed hitters well enough to be a viable MLB starter?
Jeff Long: I think he CAN, though he doesn't need to right now which is part of the problem. I'd love to see them give him a shot but the Cardinals seem content to leave him in the bullpen for now (interesting).
Worst case scenario is that he struggles and goes back to dominate in the 'pen. Biggest question mark is stamina, and maybe the Cardinals know something there that we don't. I don't know.
allangustafson (Twilight zone): What player would you share a sauna with?
Jeff Long: I have no idea how to answer this, but I'll go with ... Yu Darvish (assuming his interpreter joins us). I could probably learn the most from him, and I mean if I'm locked in a sauna with an MLB player I'm not just going to not talk to them!
Jordan Miller (Michigan): In a dynasty league, what side would you rather have? Ian Kennedy or Max Fried & Jameson Taillon?
Jeff Long: I like Kennedy a lot, but there's the question of whether or not he gets traded to a less friendly home park.
Taillon and Fried represent a lot of upside but a lot of risk too. I'd probably keep Kennedy who has always been a favorite of mine.
Bob (Cleveland): Who is your Corey Kluber of 2015??
Jeff Long: There are a couple of questions like this that I don't quite know how to answer. The short answer is that I don't know yet. I really like Drew Pomeranz, I think he'll do big things in OAK. I see a lot of what I saw in Sonny Gray a few years ago in Marcus Stroman, so I like him to really blow up in 2015.
Beyond that, I'm not sure. Gausman stands to really improve if he throws his slider more. Look for some thoughts on this in my column over the next two months though.
kiper90 (Rochester, NY): Hey Jeff, what are your thoughts on Ryan McMahon and Nomar Mazara heading into 2015 & beyond? Think both can become role 6 type players?
Jeff Long: Another great question for the prospect guys, but I will say that I'm really high on Mazara. I already yelled at Tucker Blair for picking him up in our dynasty league before I could.
Larrimore (Chicago): Do you agree with the Cubs if they decide to hold Kris Bryant out for the first 9 games of the season to avoid accumulating the service time to save a year of arbitration?
Jeff Long: Yeah. I mean it sucks for him, but this is a business and that'll save them several million dollars.
If the players hate it, they should address it in the next CBA. It's hard to feel bad for them when they have a really strong union but don't address these issues in their collectively bargained deal w/ the owners.
Sebastian (Illinois): Can Javier Baez be fixed?
Jeff Long: Anyone can be fixed, it just depends on how much work it'll take to do it.
I will say that Baez tends to struggle right after a promotion, and then comes back for a second go-round and adjusts well. So let's see how he handles MLB in early 2015 before giving up on him.
Jeff Long: I have to run to some meetings for my day job, but feel free to email me any of the questions you have that I didn't get to and Alton & I will respond. Thanks everyone!