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Chat: Trevor Strunk

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday February 02, 2017 1:00 PM ET chat session with Trevor Strunk.

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Trevor Strunk is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Trevor Strunk: Hi everyone! I am so sorry to be late, but I will be staying until 2:30 or later to answer any and all questions you might have regarding baseball, philosophy, or wherever the twain do meet.

Art (Baltimore): Do you agree or disagree with the notion that Yankee prospects tend to be overhyped? Joba and Jesus Montero were obviously way overhyped. I know its early, but Severino and Judge appear to have been a bit overranked as well. On that topic, Gleyber Torres was a top 20-40 prospect at midseason, is traded to the Yankees, plays worse in the minors and is now being rated in the top 5 by various outlets. I know he had a great AFL, but it was only 18 games and I don't remember offensive stats in the AFL ever being weighed as heavily as they seem to be with Gleyber.

Trevor Strunk: Hey Art. Yeah, I think I agree with this general sentiment; there's something of a Yankee mystique that I think gets lumped in with prospects in their system. Similar to the Red Sox or Cubs, though they have the shine largely because of their top tier front office reputation. For the Yankees I think it's purely a tautology -- the Yankees are so good that they'd only acquire good players. So even players like Tyler Austin get the benefit of the doubt for a while, and every player is untouchable and a future HoF. I think their system is the best its been in ages, but I also think there's a ton of risk in all three of the names you mentioned, especially Torres, who could easily be a no-hit glove guy.

Q (NYC): Which side of the Robert Gsellman is really good vs Robert Gsellman isn't that good argument are you on?

Trevor Strunk: I'm of the opinion that Gsellman is really good, if only because Warthen seems to be able to take guys who I think will be bad (See: deGrom, Jacob) and mold them into mid-K, low walk geniuses. Gsellman wasn't just making due with a good ERA and bad peripherals either. I do think he might be in that rough luck 6th starter world for a bit, like a Tyler Lyons of Queens, which might take the shine off of him. But he can pitch, I'd wager, and I think he'll be a rotation mainstay after the Mets lose some of their top tier arms.

Toe Jorre (Yew Nork): Does Lance McCullers have the arsenal to breakout this year?

Trevor Strunk: For sure. With McCullers, I worry more about consistency and injury instead of stuff. This might be a bit of confirmation bias after his incredible introduction to the league though. McCullers, also, has a legit fastball, and that's always a better place to start from than not. If he can put the ball in the strikezone and not get hurt, I think he could totally be a top 10 starter.

Josh (Sacramento ): I've taken some philosophy classes and I find the subject incredibly interesting. My favourite author is Nietzsche. I was wondering if you'd recommend any other authors I should start reading

Trevor Strunk: Oh good question. Nietzsche is very much of the pessimist end of the existential school, but I think suggestion you read, say, Spinoza as a result might be short-sighted. The heart of Nietzsche to me is the question of man vs. god and the question of individual ethics. In terms of the former, you might try Kierkegaard as a sort of bete noir to Nietzsche, and there's no harm in jumping forward a bit and reading some Sartre, as he follows in that lineage. In terms of individual ethics, Martin Buber and Levinas are useful counterpoints, and people like Bakunin and Edmund Burke are fun ways to think through some of Nietzsche's entailments in different ways.

David (Toronto): What is the upside for Gsellman and Cotton? They seem to be somewhat polarizing among experts.

Trevor Strunk: I wouldn't call myself an expert, so take with a grain of salt. But Gsellman, as I said earlier, strikes me as a 2/3 starter, good stuff but never top of the rotation -- a very good pitcher, but not great. I'll confess to knowing less about Cotton, but I was enamored with his strikeouts in the minors when the Dodgers traded him. I think he might be the kind of older pitcher that sneaks under the radar and surprises people with really strong results. But I'd rather see some more starts in the majors before I commit to his walk or K rate being representative of anything.

Howard (New York): Purely on offense, does Rutherford have higher upside than Moniak?

Trevor Strunk: Boy I don't know. I think if I ding Moniak on anything serious, it's his power potential, which is fine if he's as good in the OF as they say he'll be. But dude is quick and has a good hit tool, so I think his overall game might still translate better than Rutherford's. That said, Rutherford might put up gaudier fantasy stats, and inasmuch as those are still incredibly valuable, it's closer than I would've expected.

Dan C (New York City): Hey Trevor-- The Mets lost their 2015 first rounder when the signed Cuddyer, but still made out with Desmond Lindsay in the 2nd round and Thomas Szapucki in the 5th round. Is it safe to say they made out with two first round talents?

Trevor Strunk: I always hesitate to grade players as first round talents in baseball. This feels easier in football where grading talent is just kind of a no-brainer after a year. With MLB development and scouting being such black boxes, it seems to me that first round talent is kind of a weird mix of affordability and coaching as opposed to position. That said: either the Mets are a powerhouse in scouting or development or both, or they totally gamed the system because Lindsay and Szapucki look like top tier talents.

Xavier (CAL): Better long term outlook-- Mets or Yankees?

Trevor Strunk: Mets, I think. The value that front-line pitching gets you these days can't really be understated, and I think the fact that the Mets are still so young has to play in their favor. There'll come a day that Thor/Harvey/deGrom are gonna force some hard questions on the post-Madoff Mets, but until that day comes, I think they have a much easier road to dominance. That said, the Yankees still can lure and pay free agents, so if they put together a credible year and even half of their prospects mature, they could sign enough unknown guys to change this answer.

But barring the magic 8 ball of free agency? Mets

Harold (Michigan): If Steve Matz can stay healthy, is he a top 5 LH SP?

Trevor Strunk: Well he's definitely a top starter. I'm trying in vain to come up with 4 left handers I'd consistently rank above him honestly, so maybe it's not so crazy.

Ron (Texarkana): I've read a lot about it, but is there an theoretical time/season/year that Shohei Otani comes to MLB? He may be more dreamy than those pics of Yu Darvish in a bathtub.

Trevor Strunk: Hahahah, love the analogy for one.

For two, I'm not sure, but I'd bet on money in this case. If it is indeed the case that Otani is victimized by the new CBA and can't come over for 2-3 years unless he gives up a massive payday, bet on 2-3 years. I'm sure he wants to play in MLB, but the salary scale for rookies and for International FAs is brutal; I can't imagine he wants to deal with that. Nor, probably, is a team willing to let him go crazy with hitting and pitching the way he'd want to. We'll probably have to wait til some team can offer him stupid money and demand he stick to the mound before he comes stateside.

ZZ Top (nj): Favorite under the radar Mets player/prospect?

Trevor Strunk: Wish I could answer compellingly, but I'm not a Mets guy the way, say, Jarrett Seidler or Jeff Paternostro are. I do like Amed Rosario a lot though, and while he's a household name to Mets fans on the site, I think he doesn't have the national helium yet.

Destiny (NJ): What kind of player do you see Michael Conforto becoming? 3-4WAR guy?

Trevor Strunk: I kind of hope so, though frankly I think it's unlikelier by the day thanks to platoon splits and stubborn management. He strikes me as the kind of guy who needs a spell in the minors to work stuff out, but who is just good enough that he doesn't need one to be useful in a lineup. If nothing changes, I think he has a couple of 3-4 WAR seasons as a peak, but hovers around 1-2.

Shan (Houston): For you, would it be tough to justify ranking Kevin Maitan as a top 30 prospect but leaving off Andres Gimenez?

Trevor Strunk: It would be, if only because I think international scouting is 25 percent performance and 75 percent mythology. To hear it said, you'd think Kevin Maitan is already as good a hitter as Miggy and plays shortstop to boot. Maybe that's what he becomes, in which case the myths are true. But I never really trust any rankings on international guys until they have at least a year in organized ball stateside. Ultimately, if I were a Mets fan, I'd be geeked over Gimenez, and I don't think Maitan's position as one tick higher should really dampen that.

Buddy (Peoria, IL): Does Franline Barreto see the majors this year?

Trevor Strunk: Yeah, I think so. There's no one blocking him that's like a long-term piece for the A's -- Semien and Plouffe are decent stopgaps, but you could easily move them to the bench for a future starter. And if you think Jed Lowrie will be healthy all year I have a bridge to sell you. So somewhere in the infield, there's a spot open that I think he'll claim sooner than later.

Buddy (Peoria, IL): So where does Jason Hammel land?

Trevor Strunk: Good question. You'd think a contender would want him, and there are plenty that need pitching, but I wouldn't be surprised if Hammel bets on himself and signs a pricy one-year deal with an eye toward being traded and trying again next year. I think he has a lot left in the tank, despite the declined option, and while he probably shouldn't *need* a prove-it year, he might opt for one.

caseyj15 (Medford. OR): What do you think of the long term outlook for Javier Baez?

Trevor Strunk: I think he's probably a good middle infielder. He has such high highs and low lows that I think opinions on him bounce around too much for their own good. To me he probably evens out as a solid player for 5-7 years until he can't pick up off-speed stuff anymore and is relegated to a bench defensive replacement. Sort of like Ryan Howard but with a glove.

caseyj15 (Medford, OR): what do you think of the future and present quality of Jerad Eickhoff?

Trevor Strunk: He's good -- kind of like Gsellman in a lot of ways. Decent-not-great strikeout potential and solid walk rate. Gets too much on the plate here and there and is punished for it, but will probably keep a mid-to-high 3's ERA for most years. Much better than the Phillies were expecting when they traded for him, I'm sure, but not an ace despite what anyone tells you: he's like a Matt Harrison when he's healthy or, hell, a Jason Hammel.

Sammy (NY): Jacob Degrom has been pretty easily been a top 7 SP over the last 3 years. Why does it seem like he's never mentioned during the best/top 10 SPs convo? (Career ERA+ 138)

Trevor Strunk: I think it's because we all thought he was going to be bad, haha. I think typically, people hate admitting they were wrong, and that comes out in baseball all too often in the discourse of "Well look, he's gonna regress." Think of it like pre-decline Matt Cain -- I think deGrom has proved everything he has to, and should soon be getting Cy Young mentions and list nods; I just think he had to fight against all of us kind of rolling our eyes at his early success to do it.

tearecrules (Seattle): Any thoughts on the punishment the Cardinals received from Hackgate?

Trevor Strunk: I sympathize with people who say it was too low, but I also think there's not much more MLB could have done without throwing the Cardinals into a rough competitive tailspin. Leaving the punishment of Correa out of it -- having to go to jail for cyber crime on behalf of a baseball team is rough enough -- the draft pick losses will definitely hurt a bit, and I can't imagine it does wonders for their spending pool. But they'll easily bounce back -- it doesn't seem at all fair, but if MLB like, took their top 10 picks, we'd be having the same conversation in reverse. Punishment as regards the draft in sports is never satisfying.

fightingmoose (Manitoba, Canada): In a 16 team dynasty, if you could only have 1 player who would you rather have? Troy Tulowitzki, Archie Bradley, Cal Quantrill, AJ Puk or Youlieski Gurriel? I won't be in contention this year.

Trevor Strunk: Well, probably not Tulo, unless you can have him for a reasonable price and think someone will trade you for him mid-season. I'm not a big believer in Bradley either. Young pitching scares me, but Quantrill has the profile I like to invest in in dynasty. That said, my answer would be Gurriel, who may just be a nothing-bench-bat. But he could also very well be a starting middle infielder you can have for a song -- that kind of reward is worth the risk I think.

Buddy (Peoria, IL): Wishing the Rockies would sign Chris Carter. Now that would be fun!

Trevor Strunk: The amount of Dingers flying out of Coors would prompt some in the government to start investigating missle programs operating out of our nation's least assuming ballpark.

El Ashaban (USA): My league is having a draft where we can draft college players, HS players, and international players not in our ESPN universe. Who should I be on the lookout for?

Trevor Strunk: Hoo boy, this is a Baumann question, but he's in greener pastures I'm afraid. I don't have a good answer here, but I say take a look at any mock draft for 2017 and spam junior offensive players who probably will go in the first round. This seems to be the trend and how you can nab some Schwarber or Bregman like players.

The Dirty Inning is a great podcast (Philadelphia ): Trev my dude, what's your take on this Mickey Moniak everybody is so on about and should Phillies fans be concerned about the lack of prospects on Keith Law's manifesto

Trevor Strunk: I agree with your screenname, listener!

And I think Moniak is probably going to be good. Whether he's very good or a star depends (sadly) on development, which is hard to gauge. As far as I can tell the Phils have a decent-if-not-elite milb development system, so I think Moniak has a good shot to reach his potential, which is a five-tool-center fielder.

And no, I don't think so. Law has many positive sides, but his list for the Phillies sort of shows a lack of recent scouting. Sixto Sanchez listed at 90-97, for instance, ignores that he sat 94-97 for the end of the season, which is a far different animal. There are others, but I don't want to pile on: suffice it to say, I think Law is too low ont he system

fightingmoose (Manitoba, Canada): In a 16 team keeper, just got offered Jung Ho Kang for F. Mejia. My catcher situation is a bit murky but I have some depth which includes Swihart, T. Murphy, Nottingham, and Hedges (48 man roster). I have Moustakas occupying 3B at the moment but I could probably find room for Kang's bat. Is this an advisable trade to make or do you think Mejia is the real deal future top 10 catcher ? Kang's personal troubles have to weigh into this don't they? I don't need to compete this year.

Trevor Strunk: Hmmmm, yeah, I worry about Kang coming off of the injury, the sexual assault allegations, and the DUI. Between possible suspensions and performance decline, I probably would just hang tight to Mejia if you're not competing this year.

Carlos (Florida): Re: Gsellman question-- I didn't know there was a distinct split of opinions of Gsellman. Why is that?

Trevor Strunk: I think for the same reason that deGrom got suspicion early on -- not a ton of clear minor league success, middle of the road stuff, and a jump in peripherals over a short minor league stint. People (rightly) err on the side of caution when pitchers suddenly appear out of nowhere, but I think we also can trust the eye-test at times, which Gsellman seems to pass.

Richie (Seattle): Seems like outside of Bellinger, there aren't any surefire 1B prospects. That being said, what do you make of Josh Bell and Dom Smith and their ML prospects?

Trevor Strunk: Man, 1B prospects, right? Such a brutal game -- I think Josh Bell has a good chance of being James Loney But Better, and I frankly just don't believe in Dom Smith anymore, despite loving him out of the draft. I'm not sure why 1B seems to be such a pit for solid prospects over the last five or six years, or why even the good prospects (Goldschmidt; even Rizzo to a degree) are never really hyped enough. It mystifies me.

fightingmoose (Manitoba, Canada): When do you think the SB totals start to diminish for Goldschmidt? Should I be selling high in the next year or two?

Trevor Strunk: Depends on your format. If it's 5x5, I probably sell this year, since it's Russian Roulette with steals at his age. But for points formats, I think he'll be a stud for the forseeable future.

LucasDad (MPLS): In a 5x5 OBP keeper league; which two would you keep between Schwarber, Bregman, and Benintendi? Anyone is welcome to enlighten me here.

Trevor Strunk: Whew, tough call. I loooove Bregman, but in an OBP league, given the difficulty of finding consistently good OF? I might double up with Schwarber and Benintendi and punt on infield, especially as Bregman might lose SS eligibility next year and with Gurriel might lose playing time.

Carlos (Westchester): Any early predictions for a Matt Harvey trade next offseason (asssuming he's healthy and plays well)? I could see him going to Boston for deal around Devers or Texas for deal around Tavares

Trevor Strunk: I think Boston probably holds off on a trade after SaleAPalooza, if only because they seem to fetishize their prospects as much as national writers do. Texas makes some sense actually, since they have prospects and they have the need. I think Harvey's going to have a strong year, though, and I think the Mets will probably get a top 10 prospect for him. I wouldn't count out a rebuilding team like the Phillies trying to take a leap ahead by shedding prospect excess as a result.

fightingmoose (Manitoba, Canada): Regarding the Tulo question I asked earlier, I currently have Tulo on my roster but also have Swanson and have chosen to move on with Swanson as my SS if I can get appropriate value for Tulo through trade. I have been the offered the #11 overall pick for Tulo which would be in the ballpark of guys like C. Quantrill, AJ. Puk, Y. Gurriel, Thaiss, and even Maitan according to BP's rookie/international draft rankings. I have also been offered in a separate deal A. Bradley.

Trevor Strunk: Hmmm, boy, that does complicate things. I say take the 11 overall pick unless you're short on pitching and need it now, in which case go Bradley. Punting on Tulo for Swanson makes total sense to me though.

Dan (Connecticut): Player most likely to become the next Mookie Betts?

Trevor Strunk: This makes me want to puke it's so irritating but: Andrew Benintendi.

Steve (TX): Whens the top 101 come out?

Trevor Strunk: Who can say but Darth Paternostro

Colin (DR): So is Gary Sanchez the best Catcher in the ML? If not, will he be soon?

Trevor Strunk: Ehhh, hang on until he does it again. He's totally top 5 though, and if he does that again, he's top in the majors by midseason with a bullet.

JY (us): Where/when does Otani end up?

Trevor Strunk: I'd think he ends up in one of the hotbeds for Japanese talent -- Rangers would make a lot of sense. Dodgers, though they are more active in the younger international market I guess. Boston or New York are always contenders for big price tickets, and I think a team like the Orioles might honestly be my best bet -- a bad ballpark team that needs an ace and can't develop one.

Rodney Ruxin (Los Banos): How good is Alex Kirilloff? Superstar prep bat, got off to a good start at Elizabethton. For fantasy purposes, what is a good comp...can he be a left handed version of Stephen Piscotty?

Trevor Strunk: His stats sure look Piscotty-esque. I think prep-bats are always important to wait on though -- I'm bullish on them, but hit tool is such a hard thing to translate to even MiLB, and guys like Kirilloff probably need that to be Great. That said, yeah, I think your enthusiasm makes a ton of sense.

fightingmoose (Manitoba, Canada): I realize it's still early but do you foresee any players from this coming amateur draft knocking on the door of the top 10 of prospect lists for next year? Any big names in the international market rumoured to sign in the next year?

Trevor Strunk: Nah, I have to cop to ignorance on this one -- MJ Baumann over at the Ringer (formerly of BPro) is aces at this though, and as much as I hate to plug the competition, I'd check his work out.

Mike (MO): In a H2H points keeper league without contracts or other similar restrictions, would you keep Greinke or Gausman and why? Thanks.

Trevor Strunk: I keep Gausman, since both dudes are pitching in terrible ballparks now and only one of them is older. Gausman strikes me as the kind of guy who is perennially meant to break out, and while that can cause fatigue, it can also result in a year like Greinke's Cy Young year. I'd hang onto Gausman as opposed to hoping Greinke gets his ace results back in AZ

Trevor Strunk: Okay all, that was fun! Thanks for being so understanding about the late start, and I hope it was at the very least as entertaining for you as it was for me. We'll do it again soon!


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