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Chat: Matthew Trueblood

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday February 23, 2016 1:00 PM ET chat session with Matthew Trueblood.

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Matthew Trueblood: Kid is sleeping, shower is finished, let's do this thing.

Bacon Bits (New Yaaaawk City): What are our expectations for Tanaka? I was planning to make him a keeper for 23 (10-team AL roto), but I heard he may not be ready for opening day, so I'm not so sure Would you do it? If relevant, I'm fine with high-risk, high-reward if he rewards are commensurate with the risks. Thanks!

Matthew Trueblood: I'm not much for fantasy questions, but in a league of that depth, if you're okay with some risk, keep him. Tanaka is sooo good when he's on the mound.

Kevin (Iowa): Who are some prospects that you feel will make an immediate impact this year in the big leagues?

Matthew Trueblood: I guess Byron Buxton and Corey Seager still count. Gotta put them right at the top of the list; defense translates smoothly. A.J. Reed is PECOTA's darling, then Wilson Karaman's, then mine. I love J.O. Berrios, too. Living in Minnesota, I hope he's up here ASAP. Not exactly under the radar, but those are the dudes.

Tommy (Chicago): Rank the top 5 teams in the MLB by #4-5-6 starters.

Matthew Trueblood: You my dawg, Tommy. Mets, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Red Sox.

Henry (MN): What kind of lines is Byron Buxton putting up in 2-3 years?

Matthew Trueblood: .280/.370/.480? Too conservative? I dunno. Gotta love a balanced skill set. I think if he ever approximates Trout's value, though, it will be more about his legs than glove than about his bat.

Reid (Texas): Joey Gallo or Miguel Sano? Pick one and why, thanks!

Matthew Trueblood: Sano has succeeded already in the Majors, however (probably) unsustainably. Gallo's probably the better athlete and fielder. I like left-handed hitters, so I'll take Gallo in the long run. For 2016 and probably 2017, give me Sano.

mdlehrman (Chicago): Hey Matt, Cubs bullpen/rotation question--if Neil Ramirez looks good this Spring and Warren shows he can start, isn't Hendricks in AAA the most likely option, at least to start the year?

Matthew Trueblood: Most likely? I don't know. I'm on record with this preference, if Ramirez looks right: Ditch Clayton Richard, let Warren's reverse splits become the second lefty in the bullpen, and keep Hendricks in the rotation. But the luxury of depth is that it affords so many different options.

Kevin (Orlando): What do you see out of Henry Owens and Aaron Sanchez this year? Can either be dependable starters?

Matthew Trueblood: Sure, either could be. I think Owens has a little bit better chance to be, at least in the short term. Sanchez seems like a slow consolidator to me, maybe that Samardzija career path? Anyway. Like both arms, would keep Sanchez in relief if I were Toronto, at least for now.

Greg (Ohio): Can Jessie Winker be a .300/.400/.500 hitter in the big leagues? Seems he doesnt get much love but the dude can hit and take walks, and maybe the power comes?

Matthew Trueblood: Sweet fancy Moses, man. He COULD do that, but it's at least a 90th-percentile projection. If that were at all likely, he'd be a top-10 prospect. Good pure hitter, likely to OPS 100 points lower than that.

Matt (ATL): Can Mallex Smith have similar value to Billy Hamilton? Great defense and elite stolen bases numbers when on base? Or can he be even better?

Matthew Trueblood: I haven't heard anyone say his speed is on par with Hamilton's. I doubt it will play to the degree Hamilton's does, in terms of steals or range, in the Majors. But yes, he could be much better than Hamilton, because he has an approach at the plate. A .350 OBP with good speed, which is possible for Smith, blows away what Hamilton does offensively.

Daniel (Florida): Does Jason Heyward have any more left in the tank or can we quit dreaming about more 25+ home run seasons?

Matthew Trueblood: Jason Heyward has huge remaining upside. Left-handed hitters take longer to grow into themselves in the Majors than righties do. Heyward has only ever played in homer-dampening parks. John Mallee's a good hitting coach for drawing out power potential. He could still hit 30, for sure.

Craig (Colorado): Rank these 1B prospects and do you see any of them being reaching their potential and being MLB All Stars? Cody Bellinger, Bobby Bradley, Dan Vogelbach.

Matthew Trueblood: Bellinger, Vogelbach, Bradley, all by pretty fair margins. No All-Stars. Bellinger has the best chance to be first-division.

oldbopper (New Britain, CT): The Rangers need a catcher, the Brewers need warm bodies. The Rangers have Gallo, Mazara and Brinson. The fit looks obvious. Can the Rangers get Lucroy for one of these players or will it take more?

Matthew Trueblood: God, I dunno. I'm not bullish on Lucroy; absolutely everything went backward last year. Sometimes when that happens to a catcher, the good stuff never comes back. I'd give up Mazara or Brinson for him, but not more than that. I doubt the Brewers would do a straight-up swap for either, though.

Jim (NY): Does Gary Sanchez finally start to live up to some of his prospect hype? Does he get 400 at bats this year and how do you think he does with those at bats?

Matthew Trueblood: Yeah, I think he's already started living up to it. I don't see a clear path to that much playing time in the bigs this year, but if he gets them, I imagine he'll show that he's developed into a pretty good hitter.

Jason (Florida): How do you view Joc Pederson in fantasy terms where OBP replaces AVG? Does he hit enough to stay in the lineup and become an OBP 5 category monster?

Matthew Trueblood: New manager, clean slate? Yeah, probably. Peterson's struggles in the second half were WEIRD. The outfield picture out there is so crowded, hard to count on his playing time, but I think he's more Good Joc than Bad Joc.

Danny (Colorado): Shohei Otani - best player not in the MLB right now? If not him who is?

Matthew Trueblood: He's certainly fascinating. I have no idea whether or not he's the best outside affiliated baseball.

Dan (Boston): Better 2016 slash line at 500 PA: Coughlin or Soler?

Matthew Trueblood: Tom Coughlin is an old football coach. Chris Coghlan is an outfielder who I think has a higher floor than Jorge Soler this season, but who definitely has a much lower ceiling.

Brad (DC): Victor Robles - top 5-10 prospect next year?

Matthew Trueblood: Sounds like it, maybe! I dunno, man, there are much better staff members to ask. But people sure are excited.

tom (chi): Honest question, would you have recommended the Royals to not extend Dayton Moore?

Matthew Trueblood: Absolutely. The Royals BARELY snuck out of the WC game in 2014, and only by a great stroke of luck got out of the ALDS in 2015. There are much better executives out there to shepherd a contending team forward into dynasty mode than Moore, whose shtick around there is already quietly stalling out. But for a few odd bounces, the Royals' narrative right now is the same as that of the Pirates. Only the Pirates are better, and much better built for the future.

Sam (B Town): Anderson Espinoza - top 10 prospect next season? #1 in 2018?

Matthew Trueblood: Man, Hell no? I'm not a prospect hound, per se, but if you're asking whether I'm ready to anoint an 18-year-old pitcher as anything more than interesting, my answer is no.

TrickDaddy14 (YT): Just how good is Lourriel Goirdes? I've seen Ryan Zimmerman comparison... Would he be in your top 25 prospects?

Matthew Trueblood: Lourdes Gurriel, I think. I know nothing about him except that smarter people than me say he's good, and likely to be a second baseman in the bigs.

HarryCarey (Chitown): Please rank these prospects in a 12 team dynasty format: Rodgers, Benintendi, Robles, Espinoza, Devers, Mazara, Brinson. Thank you

Matthew Trueblood: Rodgers, Benintendi, Mazara, Robles, Devers, Brinson, Espinoza.

oldbopper (New Britain, CT): I admit to infatuation over Betts. Do you see him as more of a power hitter than Bogaerts?

Matthew Trueblood: Than Bogaerts? Yeah, think we have to at this point. Bogaerts could always tap into more, but Betts has proven he can mash to the pull side, at least. Xander is a little Jeter-y right now.

Jurickson Profar (Texas): How do you see my major league career playing out?

Matthew Trueblood: God, I hope really well, but it's hard to be optimistic after that much time lost. We'll just have to see how it goes. Utility player seems like the starting point, like other guys of similar skills who got hurt when they were on the verge of establishing themselves.

Tommy (Chicago): What MLB player would you most like to see have a Gronk type party cruise?

Matthew Trueblood: If I never see or hear a thing about Gronk again, it'll be too soon.

Frau (Boston via Orlando): What are your thoughts on the recent Cuban imports? (Eddy Julio, Yusniel Diaz, Yasiel Sierra)

Matthew Trueblood: They all sound great! (I really don't have a whole lot of feel here. Ask the prospect team, ask Bret Sayre. After three months playing Stateside, they'll start to separate for me. Can't really process them without that much.)

Cory (Ohio): Thoughts on Trey Mancini?

Matthew Trueblood: Not exactly young, challenging profile, but hey, he mashed in Double-A. Do it again in Triple-A this year, and he's earned the benefit of the doubt. Until then, just a guy to watch.

Matt (Cambridge): Speaking on Buxton, Is it reasonable to expect something like early career Mike Cameron with a bit more speed?

Matthew Trueblood: Sure. I think which way his bat goes is hard to say. I'm so enamored of the glove and speed, though, that I'm fine with several versions of it.

Alex (NY): Hey Matt, Tell me what you think of Conforto? Personally, I am a big fan, I think he has potential to be an all star corner outfielder.

Matthew Trueblood: He does. No guarantees, bar is high for corner outfielders. But the dude has proved he can hit.

Echo (Manhattan): What do you think of Giolito comparisons to Syndergaard?

Matthew Trueblood: I see no reason to compare them, per se, but yes, Giolito is really, really good, and Syndergaard is really, really good.

mdlehrman (Chicago): Do the Cubs still sign Jason Heyward if Dexter Fowler took the QO?

Matthew Trueblood: Good question. I don't know. I know it wouldn't have ruled it out for them.

George (Queens): Any mets prospects you see in the top 20 next offseason?

Matthew Trueblood: Boy, am I not qualified to answer that. Ask Chris Crawford, though! Or Paternostro! Or Goldstein!

Bryan (Madison ): Will MLB ever take any heat for being complicit in smuggling players out of Cuba?

Matthew Trueblood: Probably not.

Paul (Cleveland): Thoughts on Francisco LIidor for this season and going forward?

Matthew Trueblood: Wouldn't bet on linear progress at the platew, but the glove is so good it shouldn't matter.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Being a Minnesotan, what are your thoughts on whether Joe Mauer has got a top 50 player rater season left in him? thanks.

Matthew Trueblood: Here's a reference a Minnesotan should get: H-E-L-L N-A-H

Tommy (Chicago): What is your most pressing issue for the next CBA?

Matthew Trueblood: Putting the DH in the NL.

Tommy (Chicago): Which of the Mets starters would you most like to extend and which do you think the Mets are most likely to extend? (It's Thor and deGrom for me)

Matthew Trueblood: Thor; deGrom. We agree.

oldbopper (New Britain, CT): Conforto or Benintendi. Their careers have seemed to match each other in their early stages. Conforto reached the majors in 13 months and produced big time. What will the Red Sox do if he continues to rake? It appears top college bats, Schwarber, are ready for the big time almost immediately.

Matthew Trueblood: Red Sox are so deep. I don't know what they'll do, but Rusney Castillo has to Make It before it's really a tough question, I guess. And for that matter, that meteoric rise I, too, can foresee for Benintendi, has to actually happen.

Jeff (NY): How would you rank the following pitching prospects: Anderson Espinoza, Francis Martes, Blake Snell, and Jose De Leon?

Matthew Trueblood: Snell, Martes, De Leon, Espinoza

msbirt (Greenville, Ohio): Getting ready to trade Mike Trout for Xander Boegarts and Taijuan Walker…….Do I pull trigger?

Matthew Trueblood: NO! GOD NO!

msbirt (Ohio): Does Curt Casali win the starting catcher gig?

Matthew Trueblood: Probably not? I like Hank Conger. The Rays have a lot more going for them with Hank.

Brandon (Connecticut): Do you expect Gregory Polanco and Carlos Martinez to make big strides this year?

Matthew Trueblood: No. Another year of figuring out the league for Polanco. Martinez's breakout was 2015; don't wait for another one.

Corey (Pittsburgh): Shohei Otani ranks where if he was eligible for prospect rankings?

Matthew Trueblood: 69th

gerrybraun (San Diego): Can you enlighten me on the purpose of the Longterm Forecast that appears on player cards? I've been staring at them for years, wondering, "What useful information can I glean from these nearly identical stat lines stretching out for a decade?" How do the folks at BP extract meaning from them?

Matthew Trueblood: They're to be taken with a grain of salt, as all projections are, but I find them useful, if only as a reminder that few players change as radically as we think over time.

Kyle Schwarber (Chicago): How many games do I get to start at catcher this year? How many games do I get to play catcher?

Matthew Trueblood: Sounds like you could start 20 times or so back there. I hope it's at least that.

Dan (LA): Shohei Otani - How good can he be and when does he come to the majors?

Matthew Trueblood: shrug

Tom (Chi TOWn): Where would you rank Shohei Otani on the prospect rankings if he was eligible?

Matthew Trueblood: guys really

Alex (Austin): How does Anderson Espinoza now compare to Julio Urias 2 years ago?

Matthew Trueblood: Probably has a nicer iPhone.

Ben (NYC): Can we have a chat devoted to Shohei Otani next week?

Matthew Trueblood: as long as it's not with me

mbeemsterboer (Chicago-ish): What do you expect from Puig this year? Will he be able to produce at pre-2015 levels again if healthy? Do his off-field antics give you enough pause to be concerned about his career as a whole?

Matthew Trueblood: I think he still has huge potential. I worry about health, and about an unrefined approach. Not really about comportment.

caseyj15 (Medford, OR): How do you see Javier Baez's career unfolding?

Matthew Trueblood: I think he's very likely to be quite good, but it could be a while before he gets there. Check out this piece I wrote last April: http://wrigleyville.locals.baseballprospectus.com/2015/04/09/javier-baez-sammy-sosa-and-the-need-for-patience/

dangor (New York): Among position players, there is general consensus that Trout, Goldschmidt and Harper will be the first three off any mixed-league fantasy draft board. There is a lot of debate over who number four should be. What's your take?

Matthew Trueblood: Stanton? I think I'll take Stanton.

Ian Desmond (TBD): Do I sign with anyone before opening day?

Matthew Trueblood: At this point, that's a fair question. I'll still say yes, but for one year. Just filling in when some poor soul gets hurt and a contender can't justify replacing them with their version of Ivan De Jesus.

John (Boston): Hey Matt,do you think Matt Kemp is still has some value or are you down on him??? Thanks,John

Matthew Trueblood: The pole-to-pole power is gone, but dude still hits the ball hard, and pulls it often. IT was another season with one great half and one bad one in 2015. I'll guess he does that yet again.

alcrisafulli (DC): Peeing in the shower: A) Of course. B) Fine in the event of an emergency. C) Never. We're trying to have a society here.

Matthew Trueblood: A? This is a trap.

JM (CT): Jon Singleton and Richie Shafer will both be given the opportunity this spring to finally live up to their long ago expectations and become starters in 2016. What say you are their chances of finally making the bigs as regulars?

Matthew Trueblood: Better Singleton's than Shaffer's, I think. Singleton is down to his last chance in Houston; I think we all agree there. Shaffer has a tougher path to playing time, and I think he's just not quite the hitter he needs to be to make it work.

oldbopper (New Britain, CT): Hypothetical remark, but I still hate that Betts has to play(is wasted in comparison to his value) in the outfield. He would be the best 2nd baseman in baseball from here to Japan.

Matthew Trueblood: And Jeter should have moved when the Yankees traded for A-Rod. Veterans, man.

Chris (Baltimore): I picked up the following $1 players in a 10 NL only last night. Drury, Goeddel, Dilson Herrera, Owings, Chase Andersen, and Jorge Lopez? Any major scores here?

Matthew Trueblood: Mayyybe Drury?

delatopia (the 415): Why does it seem that movement is so slow in signing some of the more advanced Cuban prospects? Have heard about Norge Ruiz, Vladimir Gutierrez, Randy Arozarena and others for so long that it feels like things are standing still regarding them, especially since I don't think many of these guys are subject to bonus pools or July signing dates.

Matthew Trueblood: Mixture of the clearance process, teams wanting to get other things done so they know what they're willing to spend, and agents wanting to push it close to June so they can at least use teams who will be free of spending restrictions at that point as leverage.

Bryan G. (Ann Arbor, MI): Please rate the following pitchers for my 17-team 8x7 dynasty league (32 keepers). (Pitching categories are RA9, FIP-, FRAA, H/9, cFIP, oppTAv, ZSWING_RT.): Shohei Otani, Shohei Otani, and Shohei Otani.

Matthew Trueblood: Give me Matt Albers.

John (Boston): Hey Matt, what are your thoughts on Grichuk,can the power be for real???And can Tom Wilson be a steady power hitting catcher in the big leagues??? Thanks,John

Matthew Trueblood: Grichuk: sure, the power's legit. I think it'll be mitigated by the approach, and it's probably not going to be 30-plus bombs, but if he can handle center field, he has enough pop to be valuable.
Do you mean Tom Murphy? I think he can be an average-plus offensive catcher.

Arnold (Oregon): Do you have any favorite Mets prospects?

Matthew Trueblood: Amed Rosario and Wuilmer Bucerra

pork chop (Boston): I'm in a ten team roto/ AL only league and thinking about strategy. Is it crazy to think I'll pass on closers entirely? I don't really want to punt saves, but I figure you need to get lucky to win the league and saves is the one category you can pick up on the waiver wire if you get lucky, as there are always new closers throughout the year. Worst case scenario: I still have extra $$ to use elsewhere, so I arguably break even. Any thoughts?

Matthew Trueblood: I always punt saves. But then, I never play AL or NL only.

Slinkey1998 (California): What should I make of Sonny Gray? Predictive metrics and projection systems are never very high on him, yet he seems to outperform them every year (in the two full seasons he's played, anyway). Do you think his success is sustainable? What is it that makes him so good?

Matthew Trueblood: Love Sonny, love the curveball, and yes, I think he's better than PECOTA thinks. There's plenty of risk, though, because pitchers

Clark (Bars around Broome County): Hey Bub!! My fantasy and life partner just traded Max Scherzer for Corey Seager and Johnny Cueto. Do I have any reason to be excited? We are in a very pitching heavy keeper league.

Matthew Trueblood: Love this deal. Sure, it's a pitching downgrade, but Seager is a Get, and Cueto's going to have very nice ratios in San Fran. Gimme that side of the deal all day.

Chewy (Wegmans Cafe): Hey Matthew. I gave up Addison Russell and Colin McHugh for Joey Gallo. I am telling everyone in my league that Gallo is going to be a star but I am starting to realize Gallo strikes out a lot. Like a REAL lot. Please help me.

Matthew Trueblood: It's too late for you, you traded Addi.

Mike (NYC): I'm in a 10-team AL only league (Roto) and toying with the idea of making Dyson a keeper at 11. Any idea what his role will be, and is something you'd do? I know that, even if Dyson plays, he's a one-trick pony, but that one trick could be 40+ steals and I'm getting the idea steals are scarce. Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated!

Matthew Trueblood: I think he will (though shouldn't) win the job. Probably hurts you everywhere but SB even if he does, though, including runs, because the OBP won't be good and he'll bat ninth. I'd toss him.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Who wins the A.L Central this year?

Matthew Trueblood: Cleveland, though not by as much as PECOTA thinks.

oldbopper (New Britain, CT): Which side of the fence do you stand on Henry Owens? There are not many players who are as divisive as he is.

Matthew Trueblood: I kinda like him, actually. I think he's a really nice depth piece for a team with plenty of SP options.

Ben (The Sewer): Who is your early favorite prospect for 2017*? *Response must be Shohei Otani

Matthew Trueblood: It's Shohei Otani, and let me tell you guys about this kid because I really think you need to

Tommy (Chicago): My buddy made this trade in fantasy (with a couple draft picks as well): Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer for Chris Sale, Miguel Sano, Kyle Schwarber and Noah Syndergaard Is he crazy?

Matthew Trueblood: If he got the quartet, he won that trade in a friggin' runaway. Unless I don't understand fantasy baseball, which is totally possible.

Bryan G. ((Still Ann Arbor)): Alright, I give. Where does Ian Desmond land, and is it after June?

Matthew Trueblood: Maybe Colorado! They sure seem to want distance from Reyes. There's no perfect fit, but if the Rockies think they can spin him into something in July, it's worth it. I would do that if I were the Rockies.

Myles (Chicagoland): Is Shohei Otani a sandwich?

Matthew Trueblood: He sure sounds like one.

Guy (Couch): Hi Matt - who are a couple prospects that havent been talked about too much that deserve more attention? You have a sleeper from the 2015 draft that you think is about to explode?

Matthew Trueblood: I know he's a top-100 guy, but I'll say Michael Fulmer. Him and Brandon Drury. I do NOT have a 2015 Draft sleeper.

Bryan G. ((Ann Arbor)): If you were handed down the ability from on high to measure one thing that takes place on the baseball field that we can't / don't currently measure, what would it be?

Matthew Trueblood: Enjoyed the podcast about this (The Four-Man Rotation, folks, go listen), but don't have a good answer for this off hand.

oldbopper (New Britain, CT): Thanks for the chat. One of the best in a while. I know it is early but have you checked the boxes in each division yet?

Matthew Trueblood: Thanks! Enjoyed it. I'm tentatively picking Boston, Cleveland, Houston, with Seattle and Toronto in the WC Game. Then New York, Chicago, and LA, with San Francisco and Washington in the WC. (Is that what you meant by that?)

Ron (Chicago): What kind of production do you think Tommy Pham provides this year ? Does he make the opening day roster ? Thanks

Matthew Trueblood: Pham is overlooked. I think he makes the roster and makes a difference for the Cardinals, though they'll still back up overall.

Matthew Trueblood: Okay, baby no longer napping, gotta run. Thanks folks!


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