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Chat: Matthew Trueblood

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday August 31, 2017 1:00 PM ET chat session with Matthew Trueblood.

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Matt is a feature writer at Baseball Prospectus and passed through waivers weeks ago, so he's here for the taking.

Matthew Trueblood: My brother-in-law wants to open a hot dog stand where you stand there and watch the sausage be selected, cased, and cooked. So if you're an entrepreneur looking to invest in something...

Dusty (Colorado ): As a Twins fan, how excited should I be for Wander Javier?

Matthew Trueblood: Moderately. All things in moderation, especially hype around guys still waiting for their first taste of full-season ball. He's impressive, though.

billysdad (york, pa): ros. trea turner or seghra correa vs cani

Matthew Trueblood: For fantasy? I mean obviously it is. I dunno, man. Segura and Cano.

a.j. (las vegas): What a terrible article about Al Avila. The Tigers were/are a mess based on ownership's plan. Once Mr. Illitch passed away 6 months ago Avila started to turn towards a rebuild. You can't say the trades didn't go well and not mention the steal he got in Faedo in the draft. A rotation of Fulmer, Norris, Manning, Faedo and Burrows/Funkhouser/Alexander will look very competitive in a couple of years. Realizing that he gets 5 infielders to help improve their terrible defense over the next few years. If a couple of them add a solid bat to Cabrera, Castellonos, Stewart and maybe Upton you have a division winning team again that's younger and on a more competitive budget.

Matthew Trueblood: This is Rose-colored, eh? I think even if all of those guys you mention pan out pretty well, it's 50/50 or worse that the Tigers are the best team in the Central any time in the next four years. And I don't share your optimism about several of those guys.

Cal Guy (Cal): Matt, What do you expect from Pomeranz next season as a fantasy SP? His control seems to have taken a step back and he can sometimes be pretty hittable so his ERA and WHIP could be liabilities. Yet he pitches for a good team so he should continue to accumulate Wins and can still put up good K totals.

Matthew Trueblood: Hey, I just wrote him up today! Not a big fantasy guy, but I'll say that I expect good things from him, generally. I do think the adjustments he's made this summer do more for him as a real-life run preventer than as a fantasy stud.

Noonius (Detroit): The Brewers have a better chance of catching: A. The Cubs B. The Rockies C. The D-Backs

Matthew Trueblood: B, by a mile. By a mile and a half. The Rockies aren't totally smoke and mirrors or anything, but they're thin in the rotation and their position players do a lot of things well, but nothing well enough as a unit to dominate.

k3o3r9n0 (Boston): Now that the Dodges have lost four games in a row, who is the new favorite to win the World Series?

Matthew Trueblood: Don't count out the Marlins.

Ok, do count them out. Look, the Dodgers are the best team of 2017. The way they've come by it, though, I do think they're vulnerable to being beaten, by any of the teams they might encounter in October (except COL).

AaronGleeman (Minnesota): Please explain your theory about why Kyle Gibson looks a lot more promising lately, just in case your mean editor doesn't let you write an entire article about it.

Matthew Trueblood: (I'm totally gonna slip one by him, but in the meantime:)

Gibson moved over on the rubber recently, and made a concomitant change in his arm slot. He's throwing out of his more natural slot, lower, with better posture. He can do that and still stay on his line to the plate because of the move on the rubber. He's also throwing his four-seamer more often, and with significantly improved spin, and all of that makes him a pitcher worth reevaluating under these new conditions--for however long they last.

k3o3r9n0 (Boston): What do you think was the best solution for the Astros-Rangers kerfuffle regarding the location of their series this week?

Matthew Trueblood: The one they chose. I really don't see why everyone wanted to make a point of division and controversy out of that. The solution they chose was expedient, and also, it didn't really matter.

Joel (Chicago): What's the deal with Jason Heyward (and airline food)? Is he just completely broken? Is there a chance he'll opt out of his contract at some point, or are the Cubs on the hook with an astonishingly poor hitter until 2112?

Matthew Trueblood: I think he can continue to recover from the catastrophe of 2016. He's going to be power limited, and he's going to be a Cub for six more seasons. Given his defense and the singles and walks I expect him to get back, though, I think Cubs fans should be fine with that.

Rob Mains (Finger Lakes Wine Country): This came up in my chat a couple weeks ago: "Longer term, if you're the Cubs, which young player--Happ or Almora--deserves to get the real shot at locking down CF, on a more or less regular basis? They certainly each have their pluses and minuses." I said (1) I thought Happ gets more PT in total but Almora gets more in CF, but (2) you'd be a much better person to answer this.

Matthew Trueblood: Firstly, thanks. Secondly: I'm head over heels for Happ these days. Plays like his hair is on fire, has big tools (maybe bigger, especially with regard to speed (and thus, defense) than we knew), but he's also into mindfulness, is funny and mature as hell, and desperately wants to be great. Love Almora, too, and I agree he'll be a regular CF down the road, but Happ is the better player and will find the field more often.

jabuc47 (your backyard): Does Jerry D trade for Justin Verlander? Better question, Does Jerry D trade for another Cardinal?

Matthew Trueblood: He'll probably orchestrate a deal that moves Verlander through St. Louis and get him then. Looooooove Jerry D.

nschaef (NYC): Should the Twins add another starter? Their schedule down the stretch looks pretty soft.

Matthew Trueblood: Nah. Theyre doing it right. They'll sink or swim based on whether all of this positional talent stays hot or not, anyway. They *could* stand to nab some bullpen depth.

AndyR (Texas): Huge Red Sox fan and was not in on Pomeranz at first because out of his first like 20 starts he only had 16 where he allowed at least one HR. I felt like every time he went out there he gave up one of two a game. Any idea as to what he is doing differently to keep the HRs down as of late? Thanks GO SOX

Matthew Trueblood: Read my piece today! http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=32653

Colin Anderle (San Diego): Who's winning the waiver claim on Juan Nicasio?

Matthew Trueblood: No serious contender can afford to let him pass. He's been about as good as Archie Bradley and David Phelps this year. His whole career, he couldn't get lefties out, but this year, he's even doing that. So who's first in line among the legit contenders? The Rockies? The Brewers?

I want to note, though: it's so weird that the Pirates did this that you have to wonder if the guy is somehow radioactive. Smart teams do their homework even in the heat of a race, so if he's an asshole, he might end up on the Astros or the Mariners.

mattymatty2000 (Portland): Hey Matt, how as the 2017 iteration of the Cubs altered your view of the team going forward?

Matthew Trueblood: Relatively little. I've been working not to cling to closely to my priors when baseball surprises me, but unless Addison Russell really gets derailed (either by off-field stuff or by injuries), I think this team is every bit as good as we thought it was five months ago. It's just been a weird year filled with growing pains for many of them.

Matt (Chicago): Cubs' SP has had a very nice turnaround in the 2nd half. Kyle Hendricks is of particular interest to me. Is he back to being '16 version or closer to '15? Any notable changes in his approach since return from injury?

Matthew Trueblood: I think the really notable changes have been to his stuff. He's able to change his approach on the fly and make good adjustments. He also has great command and good movement. When his sheer stuff is there and his delivery is right, yeah, he's the guy we saw last year. Of course, the guy we saw last year benefited a lot from his defense and catchers, so discount expectations to account for the fact that that was the best defensive team ever.

mattymatty2000 (Portland): Oh! One more for you: how bad for the Cubs is it if Heyward is a one win player going forward? Seems one win and his age is just enough to keep him on the field, yet not nearly enough to get him to opt out and become someone else's problem.

Matthew Trueblood: Yep. As I said above, he's in it to stay now. How big a problem it is, I'm not sure, but I will say that the Cubs' young talent and the prospect of a new TV deal in just two more years really softens the would-be blow.

tbdubbs (Upstate NY): What is your opinion on Fernando Romero's future outlook as a Twin?

Matthew Trueblood: He's got a chance to be awfully good, a mid-rotation arm. Depends on the development of command, consistency, and depth or repertoire. Being short (and I could be imagining this) feels like it's less likely to discourage teams from giving a guy a real shot in the rotation than was the case a decade ago. And the current Twins FO is smart enough to stay open-minded. Dude has promise.

jabuc47 (your backyard): Who's real, who's fake? clear up the picture for us, what teams make the playoffs?

Matthew Trueblood: Alright, let's close with this. My predictions for the rest of the season:

AL division winners: Red Sox, Cleveland, Astros
NL: Nats, Cubs, Dodgers

AL Coin Flip Game: Yankees over Twins
NL: Diamondbacks over Brewers

ALDS: Astros over Yankees, Cleveland over Red Sox
NLDS: Dodgers over Diamondbacks, Cubs over Nats

ALCS: Astros over Cleveland
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers

World Series: Cubs over Astros

Call me a homer, I don't care. This is an honest prognostication. (It changes, some, if Addison Russell doesn't make it back for them.)

Matthew Trueblood: Thanks, good questions, folks. Gotta run but if anything here caught your eye, reach out on Twitter: @MATrueblood.


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