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Chat: Matthew Trueblood

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday August 17, 2017 1:00 PM ET chat session with Matthew Trueblood.

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Matt is a feature writer at Baseball Prospectus.

Matthew Trueblood: I read three Baseball books on my vacation and all I got was the creeping fear that I know nothing, really, in the grand scheme of things. Let's get started.

Ceej (Pittsburgh): I've seen a wide range of opinions on Torres. Think defensive shifting keeps him at SS when he comes up next year, or does he get moved to 2B or 3B?

Matthew Trueblood: I was so worried that this was a prospect I had literally never heard of, but now I realize you're probably talking about Gleyber. Phew. I think he's a shortstop for now, probably a second baseman in the medium and long term. That's in a vacuum. In the opposite of a vacuum, which is where he'll be playing, it seems like third is the natural fit. Lord knows Starlin Castro isn't moving there.

a.j. (las vegas): there seems to be a lot of reliever risk in the White Sox pitching propsects. Out of Rodon, Kopech, Lopez, Giolito, Cease, Hansen, Dunning, and Adams what would their rotation looks like by the time they have all progressed to the majors

Matthew Trueblood: All the hipster prospect dudes are wild about Hansen right now, so I'll say he sticks in the rotation. I like Rodon to stick. Cease seems a surefire reliever to me. Let's say: Rodon, Hansen, Kopech, Lopez, Adams. (Of course it's not going to be that pretty.)

ssimon (Pelham, N.Y.): The "Coin Flip Game" description of the Wild Card play-in is rather derogatory. How would you change the playoffs and/or regular season to address the Wild Card's shortcomings?

Matthew Trueblood: Truthfull, I've come around quite a bit on the WC Game. I like the pressure it creates, and the opportunity for a Game 7 atmosphere to kick off the playoffs. I also think the rule set that drives teams' roster building and the evolution of the game to favor more true outcomes make the postseason less of a crapshoot than it was 10 years ago or so. I like that, too. All that said: give me two divisions in each league, an LCS, and the Series. I just never got to see that, and love the concept dearly.

Matt (Chicago): Is Anthony Rendon the most criminally underrated player in today's game? He's an absolute beast that nobody discusses.

Matthew Trueblood: Remember when he had that huge three-homer game in April or May and people wrote about whether he was the most unlikely player ever to do such a thing? First of all, Scooter Gennett came along like a week later and made that look silly. Secondly, it was really weird to begin with. Rendon is a star. When healthy, a top-five overall third baseman. (Maybe. Probably.)

Joke (Philadelphia): I think Jesus Luzardo besides having an amazing name is one of the most underrated pitching prospects. What are your thoughts on him?

Matthew Trueblood: He's kind of a poor man's Urias: shortish, but well-built, good heat, some deception, potentially plus breaking stuff. Still so far from the Majors, though, and with TJ already on the track record... ehhh. Sure. He's interesting.

Tomas (Louiville): Rafael Devers Vs Anthony Rendon who would you rather have?

Matthew Trueblood: It's awfully hard to say Rendon, because of service time. If he were more reliably healthy, I might still take him, but as it is... give me Devers. (Wow. That's not the answer I expected from myself.)

nschaef (NYC): Is Theo's greatest weakness chasing free agents whose value is almost entirely corner outfield defense?

Matthew Trueblood: I guess this refers to Crawford and Heyward. I would say in each case, he missed some red flags in the offensive profile, especially from a scouting perspective. But I think each case was also weird, and won't blame him entirely for those errors.

OB1 (Tampa): which pitcher do you see with the most upside Jose Urena, or Jerad Eickhoff.

Matthew Trueblood: Urena, I think? Not a pair of arms I had ever thought to directly compare. When Urena's right, boy, he's tough to hit.

Randy Orton (That Place): How many roads must a man walk down?

Matthew Trueblood: Six.

(Computer finally finished updating, so I'm no longer answering these on mobile. Should be able to respond more quickly.)

Keon Broxton (Denver, CO): I can't stop hitting homers! How much longer do I need to keep doing this before I convince the MLB that I'm the CF of the future? I'm exhausted!

Matthew Trueblood: First of all, and most importantly: "MLB." "The MLB" is a construction still young enough to be drowned like a kitten in a sack, and I'm determined to do so.

Secondly: Keon, you've got a whole lot of Corey Patterson to you. Maybe you'll develop consistency and become a superstar, but I kind of bet you're a long-term defense-first second-division center fielder.

ssimon (Pelham, N.Y.): You said on Twitter you're gonna watch baseball all afternoon while you chat with us. Is BP your day job?

Matthew Trueblood: Hellllll no. I have some time off this PM, but I work at a mental health clinic, verifying insurance and provider credentialing.

Dave m (Chicago): Quintana for the Cubs so far and going forward, what do you think? Also, do you think the Cubs have overpaid on either of their big deals? thanks

Matthew Trueblood: I think the Cubs dramatically overpaid for Aroldis Chapman. I mean dramatically. I mean preposterously. (Breathe, Matt.)

Here's an arguably hotter take: I think they, if anything, underpaid for Quintana. He's obviously been a bit uneven so far, but he's going to be a crucial part of their success over the rest of this window. Terrific trade for both sides, in all likelihood.

Matt (Chicago): Albert Almora,above-avg regular lurking in there with the ability to add good value with his glove or more of a platoon/4th OF guy?

Matthew Trueblood: My piece today on the site helps shape my answer. I think he can be both, really, a guy whose skill set will make him well-suited to certain situations and poorly suited to others. I do think both glove and bat will be avg-plus for MLB center fielders at his peak.

Sir Nerdlington (Colorado): Cubs have ~$78MM coming off the books this year (assuming Rondon is a non-tender). Where does that play? They'll likely need at least couple relievers, a second catcher, and a starting pitcher but the FA crop is pretty bleak. Invest in one or two of Darvish, Arrieta, Cobb, and Pineda? Can't imagine they'll be great deals given limited supply and injury histories.

Matthew Trueblood: Yeah, I think they'll sign one of those first three SP, or maybe Cueto if he shows well down the dtretch and opts out. Primarily, they'll be shoring up their bench and their relief corps.

OB1 (Tampa): which of these pitchers do you feel will be a factor in a starting rotation for the long run. How would you rate them? Nick Pivetta, Phi SP,Austin Pruitt, TB Brandon Woodruff,Mark Leiter Jr., Phi. thank you for all your time you put into these news letters, question and answers. OB1

Matthew Trueblood: I must confess that I just don't know Leiter very well. I would rank the other three: Pivetta, Woodruff, Pruitt. Wish the Rays would stop teaching guys such momentum-stopping timing mechanisms. Pruitt looks like a man feeling the water in the hot tub before climbing in on every pitch, and I think it hurts more than it helps.

OB1 (Tampa): Who will have the most upside and how do you rate these player coming up.Jose Adolis Garcia, Austin Meadows, Renato Nunez,

Matthew Trueblood: Meadows, yawning gap, Nunez, yawning gap, Garcia. But I'm not much of a prospect guy, in truth, so please consider that an only lightly educated opinion.

Matt (Chicago): Arm Side,it feels like the Cubs are going to have greater competition in the NL over the next few years than many had anticipated 12-18 months ago. Would you agree that finding a productive,complementary OF group is going to be their biggest near-term challenge?

Matthew Trueblood: Hmm. That's an interesting way to put it. Yeah, the outfield corps of the moment is a little dysfunctional, though not strictly problematic. I think the pieces might fall into place soon, though. The playoffs will force them to make some playing time decisions and could clarify things for Almora and Happ, especially.

Ronald Acuna (AAA): Am I next years #1 prospect yet? What more do I have to prove?

Matthew Trueblood: I definitely am not enough of a prospect guy to sit here and try to tell you who is next year's number one. Acuna is certainly in that conversation by now.

Dave m (chicago): Who ya got in the NL central? Explain please.

Matthew Trueblood: The Cubs. They're really very good, and both of the teams chasing them aren't (or in the Brewers' case, aren't yet, or in the Cardinals' case, aren't anymore). I'm probably among those whose big-picture evaluation of the Cubs has changed least this season.

OB1 (Tampa): If you were starting a team and had a choice between Ryon Healy, Oak 3B, Nicky Delmonico, CWS 3B and Chris Taylor, LAD, 2 out of the 3 what would your pick be for 3B and why?

Matthew Trueblood: Oh man, Taylor by a mile, then Healy. I like Delmonico, happy he overcame what he did to reach the Majors, but Taylor is way out in front of that pack. So much of what he's doing seems real. Healy might be a better bat in the long run, but he's also probably a first baseman.

nschaef (NYC): It appears likely that the Cubs are going to let Arrieta walk this offseason, and having brought in Quintana, they should have the money to sign an SP or two in FA. Do you think they go that route? If so, what does it look like?

Matthew Trueblood: Already answered some form of this, but to take a position: I think the odds that they re-sign Arrieta rise with each good start he has. Alex Cobb is definitely an intriguing target, but I'd think he needs to get back on the mound and finish strong for them to feel he's a sure enough bet for them.

Matt (Chicago): Taking both payroll considerations,team revenue, and long-term need into account, where are the best trade fits for Stanton?

Matthew Trueblood: Well, the Dodgers, because $. Yankees for the same reason, and because he might need to move to DH eventually. Beyond that? The Phillies are kind of interesting. Maybe the Nationals if he gets stuck in Miami for a little longer and Harper walks.

statcat89 (Fort Worth): Benintendi is having quite the rookie year and has lived up to the hype. He looks like a similar hitter this year stat wise to Mookie Betts. Who would you compare his ceiling to?

Matthew Trueblood: Well, Joe Maddon comped him to Fred Lynn when the Cubs played Boston earlier this year. I think that's just because he's short and a Red Sox. I don't know, he's obviously a really well-rounded player, and interesting for the physical profile. I'd ratchet it down from a Lynn comp, not sure Benintendi's athleticism plays the same way.

Kim (NYC): Who are your personal top 5 favorite prospects to follow as a fan?

Matthew Trueblood: Oh gosh, I'm not enough of a prospect guy for this. Willie Calhoun. Logan Shore. Franklin Barreto. Brent Honeywell. Nick Senzel.

Sir Nerdlington (Colorado): Cubs farm looking emaciated now (no complaints about that though). How do you see Theo/Jed continuing to build for sustained success with tighter controls on int'l spending, new luxury tax penalties, and later draft picks?

Matthew Trueblood: Money. I had this epiphany when they made the Wilson/Avila deal. They're playing to take home as many rings as possible by about 2020, and by then, the Cubs will have a new TV contract, the revenue-generating phases of the renovation will be complete, and they're going to try to put themselves squarely in the middle of the Yankees and the Dodgers. I'm not sure it'll work, but that's going to be the plan. Look for ways to buy low, buy talent, buy lottery tickets. They'll find some. They've already begun doing this with their recent forays into Mexico, skirting their limitations on IFA spending.

Matt (Chicago): Which of the newly-heralded Cubs SP prospects gets to Wrigley first? Which, if any ,project as middle of the rotation or better?

Matthew Trueblood: Adbert Alzolay is the answer to the second, in my opinion. To the first, I guess it's either Alzolay or Trevor Clifton. (Dillon Maples is the next prospect who'll grace a Wrigley Field mound, but obviously, that's purely as a reliever.)

Ceej (Pittsburgh): Is Eloy going to bash his way to Chicago around July of 2018?

Matthew Trueblood: I wouldn't bet on that. If the Sox have a Brewersesque surge early next year, maybe. But I also wouldn't bet on *that*.

Matt (Chicago): What course of action do you see the Giants taking this offseason? They'd seemed to be primed for at least a "mini" rebuild.

Matthew Trueblood: Yeah... I'm not sure. That's going to be an interesting situation. Been like five years now since they won 90 games. The surplus value of even good deals like Crawford's and Belt's is running out. They might need a front office shakeup. (I don't sense that that's imminent; it's just what I might recommend.)

Carl (Chicago): Taking into account young MLB talent, minor league talent, cost control,and team's financial resources, please rank- in order- the 5 clubs with the best 5-yr outlooks?

Matthew Trueblood: 1. Dodgers
2. Cubs
3. Yankees
4. Red Sox
5. Phillies

Dusty (Colorado): How good can Wander Javier be?

Matthew Trueblood: It's a really great name. A 70 name. He has other good tools too but I can really only speak specifically to the one I've seen, and that's the name. I like his upside.

Matthew Trueblood: Alright, folks, would love to chat more, but the queue is empty and I need to run before I get hooked in for good. Have a good afternoon. Thanks for some great questions.


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