R.J. Anderson: Hi folks, let's get this started.
DJ (Dallas): Thanks for the chat, RJ! At age 21 Rougned Odor has an OPS around .800, hitting 15 home runs. This is incredible production for a second baseman of that age. Why don't we hear more love for Rougy?? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
R.J. Anderson: I think a lot of it has to do with Odor's poor start. Bill James nailed it when he wrote, basically, that if you get to choose, it's better to start well than to finish well, because starting well means your numbers look better for a longer period. In Odor's case, his line was .144/.252/.233 when he was demoted in May. Since his mid-June recall, he's at .307/.350/.551-a line that, depending on how you adjust for park and all that good stuff, could make him this season's top hitting second baseman.
As you said, that's crazy production for someone Odor's age (he won't turn 22 until February), and it certainly merits more attention. My guess is he'll start to receive that extra press in the coming days, as people begin prepping for the postseason and looking for reasons behind the Rangers' recent success.
Davey Lopes (Los Angeles, 1979): Jose Peraza's bat seems pretty hollow and BABIP dependent... yet he's still just 21. Can he be the starting 2B in LA next year? Who do you think has a better shot of remaining a starting infielder, Peraza or Ketel Marte?
R.J. Anderson: You're correct about Peraza. He's going to sink or swim offensively based on his average, because he doesn't walk and much of his "power" is going to be him turning a single into a double, or a double into a triple with his legs.
That said, I would give Peraza the nod on who's more likely to develop into a starting infielder. Remember, Peraza is at second base because the Braves had Andrelton Simmons and the Dodgers have Corey Seager, not because he lacks defensive skills. Other teams would love to acquire Peraza and insert him at shortstop, where he has all the physical traits necessary to be an above-average defender.
I think the answer to your question about Peraza serving as the Dodgers' starting second baseman in 2016 depends on your timetable. Friedman (and most other GM types, these days) love to use their prospects as Plan B entering the season. Why? Because the youngster can head to the minors until he's needed; the Plan A veteran can't-he'll opt out or sign elsewhere if that's in the cards. So opening day second baseman? No; but if we're talking about from July onward? I'm inclined to say yes.
ColeWhittier (Pasadena, CA): Austin Barnes had a nice year in AAA. What do you see his role next year and can he ever become a starting major league C?
R.J. Anderson: I grew up fascinated by the Tyler Houstons and Michael Barretts of the world-the catchers who could play other positions-so Barnes is in my wheelhouse and I find him more interesting than I should.
You're correct that Barnes had a good year-that's true whenever a catcher hits .315 with a roughly one-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio-but I'm not sure if he's ever going to be an everyday starting backstop. He's a little smaller than the typical catcher, and his tools aren't loud (even his defense is considered more good than great). Factor in who's ahead of him on that Dodgers depth chart, and I kinda want them to use him as a cheat code: plug him in on Sundays at catcher, then at second or third base once or twice throughout the week to get him his plate appearances.
I don't know what the Dodgers' actual plan is for Barnes, but I think that would be pretty cool-especially since the rest of their roster (Seager, Peraza) would allow them to roll without a traditional backup shortstop; if they trusted Barnes as their backup catcher that would, in theory, allow them two extra bench spots to do with as they pleased.
Basically, Barnes has the chance to become the next Ben Zobrist-which is to say, the player with special defensive flexibility whose name is cheapened by incessant half-brain comparisons.
BC (Urbandale): What does Jake Arrieta have to do his next 2 starts/ Zach Greinke not do in his next starts for Jake to bring home the Cy?
R.J. Anderson: Pitch well; pitch poorly? That's a horrible answer, but honestly I don't keep up with the awards stuff. Both are worthy.
Snowborne (PA): Who do you like long term and why puig or springer?
R.J. Anderson: Puig for the most obvious reasons:
1) he's younger (he won't turn 25 until December; Springer turned 26 last week);
2) he has a longer track record;
3) he's better.
Springer is a good player who has made encouraging adjustments in his first full season; Puig, even with the off-the-field headaches and at-times iffy baseball IQ, is a great player.
Alex (Anaheim): What do the Yankees do with Bird next year if Teixeira is healthy?
R.J. Anderson: It might be less about what they do with Bird and more about what they do with Teixeira, who has one year and $23 million remaining on his contract. If the Yankees are willing to eat money, they could find a trade partner-the catch is Teixeira has say over where he's going, because he has 10-5 rights.
Otherwise, you're talking about either demoting Bird (which would seem to be off the table given the way he's hit), or trying to work some three-way timeshare at 1B/DH between Bird, Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. Of those, my guess is they'll find a way to trade Teixeira to Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or wherever.
Rick (Ohio): Trying to get a read on Bobby Bradley - specifically how much of a chance there is for the HR power to play in the show? (Teenage HR leader comps are great, 30% K's in A ball, not so)
R.J. Anderson: I'm not a prospect guy, so I bugged someone who is to answer this question. Here are Craig Goldstein's thoughts:
I don't really know how to answer it. I like Bradley, and while the swing and miss is a concern, he has hit for average in spite of it. I don't think his swing issues are fatal. In that sense, I think he has a chance to iron it out.
Those were Craig Goldstein's thoughts. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
Paul (DC): Will Brandon Drury push Jake Lamb off 3B in Arizona? Or are the other D-Back options at 2B so weak that he will settle in as the regular there next year, even if his defensive chops aren't the best?
R.J. Anderson: I think the best-case scenario is Lamb at third, Drury at second, but the Diamondbacks have to decide who they want at shortstop before they can decide who they want at second base. Are they willing to live with Nick Ahmed's glove to get his bat in the lineup? If so, do they prefer Owings' glove to Drury's bat? I don't know the answers, but at least they're interesting questions-and I think that's quickly becoming an interesting team.
Pete (WI): Do you expect either of the Brewers rookie SPs who were called up (Wagner, Lopez) to be in their big league rotation next year?
R.J. Anderson: Yes, provided we're talking about some hypothetical time during the 2016 season and not the whole year through. Obviously I don't know what direction they're going to take this winter, but on paper what's their expected rotation? Peralta, Jungmann, Nelson, Davies (who I like), and maybe Garza? All it takes is an injury, or a guy not performing up to snuff and Wagner and/or Lopez will have a spot.
Jake (Texas): Thrilled about the Rangers run, even if it is sequencing driven / hot, etc. My question is - which teams do you see making it to the AL/NL league championships? Dodgers, NL central team X, Blue Jays, and ... Rangers?
R.J. Anderson: Those picks are fine (Pirates if I had to choose one of the Central teams, mostly because I'd hate to see them go one-and-out again). I wouldn't mind seeing the Mets sneak in there, either.
Frankie (Boston): Sox are loaded with OF prospects. Who stays in CF, who moves to a corner and who is traded out of Margot, Betts, JBJ, Benintendi, Castillo?
R.J. Anderson: Of course the real questions are which one is out of the league in three years and which one fails to become more than a reserve outfielder. But your question, your rules, so here my answers:
Corner: the rest
John (CT): Your thoughts on Bradley Zimmer please. After a great start and immediate promotion he seems to have cooled off. Will we see him in the majors next year?
R.J. Anderson: He's a nice, well-rounded prospect, albeit one with a fractured foot and minimal success above A-ball. I think 2017 is more likely. That gives him sufficient time to master Double-A, move to Triple-A, and get most of (if not the entirety of) a full year there before graduating to the Show.
FireflyJenkins (El Segundo): Who travels with more efficiency, crippled cricket or Kevin Kiermaier?
R.J. Anderson: The cricket doesn't try robbing home runs on routine fly balls.
Mike (Flordia): Long term who do you think has more upside as a starter in the majors Lucas Giolitto or Julio Urias?
R.J. Anderson: Both have high ceilings, Giolito's is probably a little higher. If you're asking who I would feel more confident in achieving that upside it's Giolito. Urias is so unusual that I haven't a clue how his career is going to play out.
baseballjunkie (SF Bay Area): Hi RJ, Giolito has been good so far, but not as electric as some expected. When do you see him making the majors and what do you think is his realistic outcome?
R.J. Anderson: I haven't seen him firsthand, but I haven't heard anything that gives me reason for worry. We are talking about a 20-year-old's first eight starts in Double-A, after all. My guess is they start him back in Double-A and transition him to Triple-A around midseason next year. That could mean a late-season debut, but 2017 seems more likely.
Tommy (NJ): Thoughts on Victor Robles' Potential?
R.J. Anderson: I'm not a prospect guy and I haven't seen Robles even by accident. Mark Anderson did see him and the report he filed was glowing: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=291
steelydanu (L.A): Hi,
Is there an update to Taillon? Is he still considered a top prospect talent.
R.J. Anderson: He is-he supposedly looked very good in extended spring training before suffering the hernia-but it comes with the caveat that he hasn't pitched outside of complex ball in more than two years.
The Cable Guy (Quebec): If you had to choose from 20 run hitting catcher and 20 run framing catcher (every thing else same) who would you chose?
R.J. Anderson: I'd go with the hitter because I feel more confident valuing offense than defense (or framing in this case). That said, I suppose there's an interesting argument to be made about the framing catcher improving the value/production of other players more than the hitter does.
Pete (NM): Do you think we see 6 man starting rotations in the next day, 10 years? It seems like Team are trending more and more towards giving starters more rest in between starts
R.J. Anderson: I suppose it's possible. Either that or teams cheat and do what the Royals/Rays did (going to the bullpen earlier), or even what the Dodgers/Yankees did (cycling through relievers to eat extra innings).
Rotoman (NYC): Who are candidates to become the Jake Arrieta of 2016??
R.J. Anderson: Well, what was Arrieta? A starter whose good stuff had been sabotaged by other factors for years. If you go by that definition, then you get a candidate pool including guys like Trevor Bauer, Jarred Cosart, Willy Peralta, and so on. Are any of those guys likely to make an Arrieta-like leap? No, otherwise Arrieta wouldn't be special, but that's the class we're talking about if we stay true to the above description.
Paul (Worldwide): In hindsight, which transaction surprised you the most?
R.J. Anderson: Do you mean only in hindsight or overall? Either way, it still surprises me the Nationals were able to get Trea Turner and Joe Ross for Steven Souza.
Kevin (Arizona): Who are your top 5 prospects heading into next season?
R.J. Anderson: I'm not a prospect guy, but using only players in the minors, some combo of: Moncada, Giolito, Urias, Crawford, and Mazara.
Beats (Bydre): You mentioned Davies ..... what is it you like about him?
R.J. Anderson: A number of things: his athleticism, his command, his changeup, and his pitchability. He understands how to change speeds and keep batters off balance, and so on. He's pitcher's pitcher type, and I'm a sucker for those. That doesn't mean I have zero reservations-he's short and thin, which is a dangerous combination-but my hope is his athleticism allows him to manage the workload that comes with being a big-league starter. I get a young Jeremy Hellickson vibe when I watch Davies. I think that about sums it up.
Sandy Kazmir (America): Any idea why the Rays stopped shuttling relievers between Durham and St. Pete? Any credence to the idea that they didn't want all those guys collecting big league pay checks and service time if they weren't back down for 20 days?
R.J. Anderson: I have no idea. Although, when your top alternatives are Kirby Yates and C.J. Riefenhauser, I guess there's no point inconveniencing others.
Mike (Minneapolis ): RJ, what are your thoughts about Miguel Sano?? Looking at his strikeout totals, I have a hard time believing MLB pitchers don't figure him out.
R.J. Anderson: I think Sano is something to behold.
I'm always weary about hitters who strike out a lot. Even so, we've seen young hitters adjust and lower their strikeout rate in time (George Springer, for example), and I think Sano is an interesting case anyway. He's hitting for an extreme amount of power because he's as strong as an ox and drawing an extreme amount of walks thanks to his patient, disciplined approach. As a result, the swing and miss is less worrisome than usual, because I'm inclined to think of him as the big, bad wolf brand of hitter who can overcome the contact issues by walking and hitting the soul out of the ball when he connects.
Basically, I think Sano is going to be fine-probably better than fine.
Bizzy Bean (LA): Eddie Rosario is having a nice year with the XBH, BABIP down to .336 now so it's stabilizing. Still young, what kind of a hitter does he turn in to and will the OBP always be this low? Does he remain a starter for a while?
R.J. Anderson: I think the Twins will give Rosario ample time to remain a starter. His OBP is so low because he doesn't walk or put himself in position to walk. He swings the bat a lot and he doesn't care whether the pitch is in the zone or not. He's obviously had success with that strategy-mostly because hitting the ball hard is the entire point-but in time you'd like to see him rein it in, not to the point where he fundamentally alters who he is at the plate, but to where he's not beating himself by hitting bad pitches.
Rotoman (NYC ): RJ, How do you rate the AL shortstops for next year's draft? Thanks for the chat, these are great!!
R.J. Anderson: Oh, I'm awful at fantasy. You'd be better off using the Bat Signal. I don't want to cost you money/bragging rights because I don't know what I'm talking about.
Rob (Alaska): Is Adrian Beltre a Hall of Famer?
R.J. Anderson: For me? Yes. Long career, very good numbers throughout, ridiculous style, signature moments, and so on. For the voters? I don't know. Four Gold Gloves will help his case, but it doesn't look like he'll reach 500 home runs and I'm not sure his pre-Boston contributions will be appreciated properly. I hope so.
mrgriffey (East Lansing): Starting a franchise...and you could only have one...who would you take in the following head to head choices...Bryant or C. Seager? Sano or Buxton? Lindor or Russell?
R.J. Anderson: Bryant, Buxton, and Lindor.
Cleon (Queens): Kevin Plawecki keeps getting high grades on sites. Do you still see him as a starting C somewhere even though he hasn't really hit this year?
R.J. Anderson: Yeah. You have to remember, the bar for catchers is super low in some places. Plawecki hasn't hit this season, but he has in the past and the prevailing expectation remains that he will heading forward. Plus he's a quality receiver with an average arm and good staff-handling abilities. That's enough to pass as a starter.
R.J. Anderson: All right folks, that'll do it for this time. Enjoy the rest of the regular season and we'll do this again soon.