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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday October 17, 2005 3:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.

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Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, happy circumstance put me in Chicago at a time when nothing, not even my return, could jinx the Sox. Let me lead off by congratulating my Sox fan friends, so let's get this session fired up...

JRM (Modesto, California): Will the new Tampa ownership turn things around? What are their chances of contending in 2007?

Christina Kahrl: Their shot at contending has less to do with what they do, which seems pretty straightforward (cull Piniella's various freaks, trust the kids). The question is more dependent on whether or not the Yankees and Red Sox both crater--by their own standards--and become teams that can't win 90 games by 2007. If that happens, this becomes an interesting division. The Jays would be in it then, and we'll have to see what a duumvirate-free O's team does this winter. But in that sort of environment, the D-Rays might inch closer to 80 wins, at which point, they're in contention. I wouldn't bet on it, but it's within the realm of possibility, with 2008 being a better bet than '07.

Jeff Tripodi (McKees Rocks, PA): (this will likely be moot by 10/17, but...) Will the Pirates realize that a managerial retread is not the answer? If you're not going to put on a new tire, can you at least aim high? Surely Davey Johnson isn't busy...

Christina Kahrl: Davey Johnson simply doesn't seem to be in a hurry to get back into the major leagues, so the Godot exercise on that score is really something that all of us in stathead circles need to get over. As much as I would have fired Tracy with extreme prejudice for how he managed the Dodgers in the second half, I also think he's a good fit for the Pirates. He's got a decent track record of managing his bench aggressively, and a team that has a Mackowiak can use that. I think he'll be comfortable continuing to get Doumit and Wilson PT in the outfield, and not every manager would be. All in all, I think it's a nice example of hiring a guy for doing some things well, some things badly, and being a worthwhile retread, as opposed to Buddy Bell.

paulbellows (calgary): Have you figured out anything further on the Lecroy front? It appears that the Twins have no interest in signing him and will not offer any contract. Seems like a useful player though even with a bump in salary. Is he worth it to the Twins?

Christina Kahrl: It looks like LeCroy will be a free agent no matter how you slice it. I'd consider this another symptom of why the Twins will not amount to anything more than what they've already done. When you set your horizons low, you achieve them, and so what? Building for 85 wins is relatively easy; building for 95+ is not. Terry Ryan hasn't made that jump, and the Twins are going to suffer for it until he does.

Dan (Salem, OR): Hi Chris. My questions pretty simple. Which contract will be the worst for their respective teams over the next two years? Cristian Guzman in Washington, Jason Kendall in Oakland, or Magglio Ordonez in Detroit?

Christina Kahrl: Talk about an ugly choice... Ordonez for the money is a source of concern, but he also isn't useless. Guzman is, and by the look of things, he'll be in Washington longer than the man who made the mistake of signing him.

Jake (Los Angeles): What's going on with Calvin Pickering? I know he stunk it up for the first few weeks of last season, but his minor league stats were solid this year. If the Royals won't give him another shot why hasn't another team picked Baird's pocket?

Christina Kahrl: The Royals have already outrighted him, so he should be a minor league free agent worth pursuing in a few short weeks. Which brings up this equally worthwhile, related question...

TGisriel (Baltimore): Hi Christina: The old saying is you should build up the middle. The Orioles are actually strong up the middle with Tejada, Roberts, Lopez and Matos. They are extremely weak at the corners, however, with only Mora and Gibbons and 3 holes. Will there be anything available this off-season to fill those wholes? Are any of the propsects ready to fill those wholes? to

Christina Kahrl: The Orioles need to fix their outfield corners or first base or their DH slot, basically, wherever it is that Gibbons isn't, as you've noted. While I'd like to see whether or not Markakis and Majeski are ready for one of the slots, and while I think we all feel that despite this past summer's rush job, Fiorentino has promise, signing up a good minor league free agent or three makes all sorts of sense. You can lead off with those guys on the roster, and dump them after three months if they struggle and Markakis or Majeski are properly prepared at that point. So I'd definitely give Mr. Pickering a call, if only to make sure you get the right beefy lefty-swinging DH type, and not Walter Young.

Amos (New York): And the sproing of the year award goes to...

Christina Kahrl: Perhaps it's just because of the games we're watching, but Al Reyes makes a good choice for the most poorly-timed sproing of the season. The non-Zambrano young guns in Cubville deserve a mention, though. A happy sproing might be Kelvim Escobar, if only because his injury created an opportunity for Ervin Santana, who should stick.

Johnny Tuttle (Battle Creek, Michigan): With an increasing number of teams pledging to up spending this coming off-season, as well as the continued spend-spend-spend policies of Boston and the New Yorks, will we be seeing a return to the widespread overpayment of veterans? Will teams focus instead on keeping their own homegrown stars? How do you see this playing out?

Christina Kahrl: 'Overpayment' is a loaded term, but I think we will see some frantic overbidding on certain veterans. Johnny Damon is going to be liberally compensated, to be sure. The Red Sox will be in the pitching market, and the Yankees will be looking for everything. That makes for a busy, pricey winter. I expect certain other teams will also be aggressive, the Tigers and the Snakes in particular.

Some people will continue to homegrow, or overcompensate their own stars. The Twins' Jacque Jones comes to mind...

jabrch (Chicago): I know the White Sox don't live up to your model of how a baseball team should be run, but do you still stand by this? "The Sox are a fun team, but I think they're an anomaly" What's the anomaly about a team build on pitching, defense, and scoring runs when you can? In the post season, great pitching staffs usually make it. Great pitching staffs don't yield walks at a rate significant enough to make walks the deciding factor. Look at what the Sox pitching did to both Boston and Anaheim.* Anomaly? Or a new sustainable blueprint that doesn't rely on a 100+mm payroll to operate? *Garland - 1 BB in 9 IP Buehrle - 1 BB in 16 IP Contreras - 2 BB in 25 IP Garcia - 5 BB in 14 IP Total - 9 BB in 64 innings

Christina Kahrl: It's a worthwhile point, but I was kicking this around today: for as much as we focus on what we think we know about Earl Weaver's wisdom, the guy loved cleanly-played defense, he loved to rely on his starting pitchers, and he was willing to convert iffy starters into good relievers. Now think about the White Sox: they're a great defensive ballclub. Ozzie has put his starters on a longer leash than most. The Sox have a pen with ex-starters like Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks. Now, the Sox don't have the spare parts to provide extra power that you expected from a Weaver team, but some of what the Sox do is worthwhile for every team to consider. Some of the other things (Carl Everett, anyone?), not so much.

Ed D. (Chicago): All Hail Christina, Queen of Roster Management ... what changes should the White Sox make to their World Series active roster? Do they need 6 relievers given the recent performance by the starters, even with with 3 games in an NL park? What to do with the horrible bench? Activate Anderson? Gload? ANYONE with utility? White Sox fans would love for Ozzie Guillen to hear your thoughts ...

Christina Kahrl: Fiddle, I'm a bit of a democracy junky, so let's leave the crown out of the equation, and simply note that the Sox aren't using their bench or their pen. If you're never going to use your bench in the first place, it's probably better to retain an extra arm for an emergency, lest one of those extra-inning games wipe you out in subsequent games.

If you want a bench with better utility, take a cue from the Cubbies, and wait for next year. ; )

andrewberg7 (DC): How much is there to the rumors of Jim Bowden bringing his itchy trigger finger to TB, ARI or PHI? Could the Nats include Castilla/Guzman in the deal?

Christina Kahrl: I think it would be appropriately despicably if Bowden, like Minaya before him, got to treat his Expo/Nats assignment as mere resume padding without consequences, but if you're a Nationals fan in the first place, I think you have accept that we're stuck with the deals, and better off with the man who signed them in somebody else's executive suite.

BridgeportJoe (Chicago): I've got a quick multiple choice question. Which of the following best describes Joe Sheehan's reaction to the White Sox utterly dominating the Angels and Red Sox and making it to the World Series: (a) flabbergasted, (b) disheartened, (c) mortified, (d) deeply disappointed, or (e) all of the above? Seriously, though, just so no one forgets--he picked them to win 70 games this year. They're at 106 and counting.

Christina Kahrl: I wouldn't single out Joe, I had a lot of harsh things to say about the Sox coming into this season. Collectively, BP was flat-out wrong about the White Sox. That said, I would not claim that Joe or I or any of us feel any of those ways about the Sox being in the Series. Setting aside my happiness that we're spared the visual ugliness of having the red-on-red series of Angels vs. Cardinals, the success of the Sox has been fun to watch, and that success forces us all, fans and analysts alike, to think about some of our ideas about the game. There's fun in being wrong, especially if you have the good sense to treat it as a learning experience. We'll be dissecting the Sox at length this winter, and that's going to be almost as much fun as this month's baseball has already been.

Mike (DC): If you're a GM, do you get in on Ryan and Wagner or do you let others overpay for them and look for relievers on the scrapheap? Any scrapheap reliever darkhorses on your radar? Who is next year's Todd Jones?

Christina Kahrl: Let other people spend the money. Consider it a sin tax on the lack of sensibility that some GMs have when it comes to building bullpens. I haven't looked at length at this winter's FA class yet, so I don't have any picks as far as who's the next Al Reyes or Jones. But I do know it's better to troll those waters than go ink the next Percival deal.

mbsmith76 (Houston, TX): I know park factors aren't your normal thing, but if the 'Stros do advance to face Chicago in the World Series, is there any lefty/right park split in Chicago that would dictate whether they should use Pettitte on the road or at home in Juicy Juice Park?

Christina Kahrl: If we do end up with a Sox-'n-'Stros series, you've got two parks with a short porch in left, and a White Sox team that basically lives and dies offensively on the abilities of its right-handed power hitters to jerk the ball into the corner. The question really is one of whether or not you pitch Pettitte in one game in each venue, but I'd lead off with Oswalt and Clemens regardless, and skip getting overly cute.

jmoneill (Burlington MA): Do you think it's worth the difference of $1.5 M (essentially a middle reliever) to keep Theo Epstien instead of hiring Josh Byrnes and all of the negative PR that sort of thing would generate. Am I accurately assessing this situation?

Christina Kahrl: I wouldn't throw Theo under the bus, and while we're all bad at overusing terms like 'fungible' and 'replacement level,' I think they're not quite so appropriate in talking about good GMs versus GM candidates. Could Byrnes interact effectively with a boss like Larry Lucchino? We know Epstein does, and we know he's sharp. That's worth something, and in some cases, the unknown can be a lot more expensive than you expect.

ElAngelo (Brooklyn, NY): What on earth inspired Mike Scoscia to finally play Kotchman & Rivera in their proper places last night? An 11th hour revelation or the last refuge of a scoundrel?

Christina Kahrl: A belated recognition that he hadn't done his job earlier in the Series. The most significant single individual in the series was Mike Scioscia, in terms of his lineup choices and his in-game tactics. Ozzie, by contrast, let his players play after the first game or two. It's a nice reminder that the manager doesn't have to prove he's in the game to show that he's still the manager.

BL (Bozeman, MT): Which venue would you have rather attended a World Series game: Real Comiskey, Sportsman's Park, or the Astrodome?

Christina Kahrl: Real Comiskey, easily, but then I spent most of my undergraduate career in that park. But then this question's like asking me if we should have Andy the Clown in the stands; of course we should, and any Chicago baseball fan worth his or her salt preferred Andy's basic shtick to Ronnie Woo-Woo Wickers any day of the week.

I just hope everyone in Bridgeport and Beverly and everywhere in between enjoys the Series in the new place. Since the re-design, it isn't quite the atrocity it used to be, and it still boasts the best ballpark food in any Chicago venue. Pity we don't have Tommy Paciorek in the booth to mention that, of course. ; )

andrewberg7 (DC): Any thoughts on the notion of Ryan Shealy in Fenway?

Christina Kahrl: He could be Jim Rice Lite, or he could be Rudy Pemberton. It would depend entirely on the organization having the guts to stick with him through the inevitable first slump, and in Boston's overheated media market, and with Lucchino doing his mini-Frankenbrenner routine, I'm not sure they have that patience. I would hope that they would.

nicopad (Brooklyn): Why does no one mention Pettitte's career postseason era is over 4? How can you not loving rooting for Oswalt? He throws 96 and cant be 5'10.

Christina Kahrl: Well, keep in mind, most of the time, in postseason games you are facing good opposing teams, so citing something like cumulative ERA is as dicey an observation as talking about the Braves' postseason run over the last decade-plus. But yes, I do love watching Oswalt pitch. Like Tim Hudson, he's a reminder that some truisms are untrue, in this case, that short righthanders can't succeed, when they so obviously can, and do. No amount of worship for Scott Erickson and his ilk for their builds can ever change that.

charlesford (Arlington, VA): When are the Nationals finally going to get owners other than the MLB itself? What's the hold up? Which of the three leading groups do you think Bud will pick? I guess I can wait if as rumored, we can dump Bowden on the D-backs. Also, why is Jerry Reinsdorf so entangled in this whole deal? I want to find a reason to root for the White Sox, but not if it means waiting for real owners in DC.

Christina Kahrl: I think it boils down to the Smulyan group and the Malek group, but in each case, money isn't the only consideration. Having politics of the right stripe, a willingness to suck up and adopt the Selig line on labor relations for the next CBA, and the right odd assembly of local businessmen are all items on MLB's wishlist. Smulyan's noisily anti-union, so he's riding high. Since everyone doesn't seem frightened off by the $450 million that makes Bud look especially prescient, the owners can afford to be picky. Reinsdorf is Selig's hatchet man of old, and offers political cover as a famously evil heavy within the industry, so that Selig can pretend to be the disinterested industry czar, while both of them operate from the same play book.

William Lamar Beane (Oakland Alameda, CA): Christina, will the White Sox pennant win lead copycat GM's around the league to overpay for speed, thus undervaluing the guys who get on base and run slow, again? It'd be really nice if that happened...

Christina Kahrl: Amen. I'd love to see a game plagued by the Jason Tyners and Joey Gathrights of the world. The price of counter-revolution achieving too much will be further achievements by the teams that value the things that win of old and into the future.

Santa (L.A.): How likely that Mike Piazza will be an Athletic in 2006

Christina Kahrl: Highly unlikely. The man will still cost quite a bit, after all.

wuke50 (Seattle): Hi Chris, love your column. Heading into an offseason where the free agent market is thin and revenues are up, do you think that comparable free agents will make considerably more money than their predecessors last winter? Would this type of market behoove general managers to try to sign their own free agents in the exclusive bargaining period after the world series, before salaries possibly skyrocket?

Christina Kahrl: Thanks for the compliment, I'm always glad to get feedback (positive or negative).

With the added revenues most teams seem to be able to expect, I think we'll see more teams negotiate multi-year deals that wipe out arbitration eligibility and the first year of free agency for young stars, but otherwise, I'd just expect a small amoung of inflation and overbidding, same as last year. The Benson bid of last winter will keep the price of pitching insanely high, but that's the market.

However, don't get too worked up about this. I also expect the owners to build up their war chest in anticipation of trying to mimic the NHL's victory over its union. The sentiment is there, the question is whether the owners really want to risk another mid-90s industry slowdown.

Mark (Lawrence, KS): This chat is focusing too much on good teams. Who would you say are likely free agent targets for KC? Glass says he's willing to have a robust $50 million payroll!

Christina Kahrl: I'm enormously sympathetic, Mark, but believe me, the money isn't the issue. The Royals ponied up for Mike Sweeney, and that high profile bit of expensive loyaly made it that much more difficult to have the capital to keep Carlos Beltran. Money isn't really the problem, and money won't fix a farm system overnight that's still a mess. The Royals are an organization that needs more than money, they need a plan, and they don't have one.

dadawg77 (Chicago): "Now, the Sox don't have the spare parts to provide extra power that you expected from a Weaver team, but some of what the Sox do is worthwhile for every team to consider." The Sox have the power (200 HR) but lack the OBP of the Weaver teams. That is the flaw in the Sox attack. Another thing, which hurt the offense, is Ozzie gave too many at bats to bench players to make sure they were ready when called upon. Thankfully, he realized not to call upon them. Any thoughts on what will happen with the Big Hurt next year? If healthy, I think he is the best hitter on the Sox but sure many don't agree with that.

Christina Kahrl: A healthy Frank Thomas would be a wonderful fix for several of this team's offensive problems, but that's assuming he'd be healthy, which clearly isn't a safe bet. Given that the Sox also have to worry about whether or not they can retain Paul Konerko this winter, I would hope that Kenny Williams is ambitious about finding a good bat or two this winter for his DH slot or for a fourth outfielder.

Hercule Poirot (England): Why does it take about 3-4 minutes to answer one question, do people at BP lack typing skills?

Christina Kahrl: Shame on you, there's a huge passel of questions here, I do try to read them first. ; )

Fishbone (Minneapolis, MN): Do the Cardinals pitch Jeff Suppan on three days rest for Game 7, or does LaRussa throw Morris out there who is unquestionably struggling and lacking any confidence?

Christina Kahrl: I doubt he'd call on Suppan on three days' rest. Morris is the team's former ace, after all, and I expect that we'd instead get a classic LaRussa speech on loyalty and apple pie. That said, Morris does have the track record to pitch in a big game, and I wouldn't necessarily bet on Suppan being squared away and ready on short rest.

Natan (Los Angeles): Speaking of needing a plan, why are so many owners unwilling to fire there gms, yet willing to change managers every year? It doesn't matter how good a manager you are if your team doesn't have any talent.

Christina Kahrl: The short answer is that a GM intersects with the organization on every level, while a major league manager has to manage the 25 guys and the press attention on those 25. Firing a GM regularly can cause problems if you're trying to also run a player development program, and if the new GM wants to bring in his favorite scout or scouts. There's a virtue to organizational stability, where you focus less on any one person's genius, and instead reap the benefit of the collected intelligence of everyone in the organization. Changing a GM can shake all of that up more than most teams want to afford in an average winter.

dorkus14 (Matt (SF)): Ryan Howard at first for the Giants? Who would the Phillies want?

Christina Kahrl: Given today's tendencies to ask for the sun and the moon in a deal, on the off chance that the other guy says yes, the Phillies would probably ask for a young Giants pitcher, and the Giants would wisely say no. Better to instead offer to pick up some element of the money that Thome is owed in the years to come, and assume the risk of his being available. In that sort of deal, you might not have to give up much talent at all.

mcconkey01 (Raleigh, NC): If you were the GM of the Braves, would you rather re-sign Furcal and maybe someone like Farnsworth or go hard after Billy Wagner?

Christina Kahrl: The former, easily. Billy Wagner might satisfy sports talk show hosts, but he wouldn't add as many wins if, for the sake of argument, you spent the same sort of money on Furcal and Farnsworth. But keep in mind, Furcal might get the biggest package of the winter, if it doesn't go to Damon. It'll be a long-term deal, and the Braves will have to decide if that's the sort of commitment they want to make.

russadams (St. Cloud, MN): Do you think that the Twins will trade Romero? Do they have anyone in house to replace him, or will they need to sign someone? There has been talk of putting Liriano in the bullpen, but that seems like a waste of his development. On a related note, why didn't the Twins use Mulholland as a LOOGY ever, considering his average against was .202?

Christina Kahrl: It would be really unfortunate to put Liriano in the pen, just so that you might keep a guy like Lohse in the rotation, but I've just about given up on the Twins when it comes to making a bold decision that might cost something (in talent or money) while making the team better.

The problem the Twins have is, what do you do to fix the middle infield, and can Romero help bring you that? It isn't like Ricky Weeks is available. I'd love for the Twins to do something sneaky, like go out and get a Willie Aybar, but Ryan would have to be awfully confident of his ability to survive the ensuing firestorm.

Don't get hung up on LOOGYs. It's just so much spitting in the wind, and you can find those guys under rocks. The non-Gallo rocks, I mean. ; )

mhawkins (Oxford, MS): Really, if you have Wilson Betemit, do you blow 5 yrs, 50 million on Furcal?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think anyone's that confident in Betemit's ability to remain at short. I'd respect them for taking the risk, but if it doesn't work out, you've got Betemit and Marte fighting over third, and you won't get much for Betemit if he'd already faltered at short.

TT (KO): How close is baseball to having a first female GM, any candidates? What about the lady from LA Dogers?

Christina Kahrl: Kim Ng has the ability to be a big league GM, but I wouldn't nominate her for being one of the best candidates available. I really think we're still a ways away from the first female GM. It's more likely that we'll see a woman named a team president first, coming out of the administration and finance side of an org chart. Say, someone like the Yankees' Jean Afterman.

sbaxamusa (cambridge): Which non-playoff team (two or three from each league, perhaps?) has the best chance of making it to the postseason next year, based on your best guesses of roster reconstruction?

Christina Kahrl: Cleveland, and I don't think it's particularly close.

ekanenh (New Hampshire): How many PA's vs. a particular pitcher is enough to be statistically significant? Certainly going 3 for 4 doesn't tell us anything. But what about 3 for 10? 20? 30?

Christina Kahrl: Earl Weaver always cited 20 ABs as his benchmark, and I would have to agree that ten plate appearances might only be three starts against a guy. What if they came before a hitter sorted out what to do with inside breaking stuff? Cubs fans could probably regale you with examples of how player's abilities do change over time, with Shawon Dunston and Sammy Sosa making particularly good examples. Sure, they were always likely to go nuts and strike out on low and outside stuff, the same as when they initially came up, but they also learned to stop doing that as much as they had then. Adaptation is something you have to allow for, and that means you're going need a lot more than ten at-bats to come close to knowing something.

Tony Doucet (Manchester, NH): Think Theo will go after Adam Dunn this winter to play first base? Also, I've noticed more squeeze bunts in this years playoffs than I've ever seen. Has any study ever been done to show if its a good play or not?

Christina Kahrl: The speculation about Dunn seems to be a special subset of fandom, but I guess I just don't see it happening. Who would the Red Sox give up, from among their homegrown pitching talent? That's what the Reds would ask for, as a starting point, and the Red Sox still need pitching in the first place. As much as I'd hope that the Reds would wise up and outrun the Brewers by making Sean Casey a Met before Doug Melvin puts Lyle Overbay in blue and orange, I think it's Kearns who will be dealt, if anyone.

shamah (DC): Thanks for going so long in this chat! Do you think Eric Duncan is close to ML ready? And also, should the Yankees just throw Melky Cabrera into CF next year and see what happens instead of wasting money on Damon?

Christina Kahrl: Melky Cabrera is not going to be a major league center fielder, so I would hope people will get over that bit of wishcasting right now. He may not have the bat to stick in the majors at all, and since he won't be a CF, he may instead spend a long time in Columbus.

There's no reason to rush Duncan. The Yankees already have a pretty good third baseman, some guy who really should win the AL MVP this year, and Duncan's year at Double-A wasn't that good. He's not Drew Henson--he's a real prospect, after all--but he will be if you push.

Matt (Dekalb, IL): What kind of moves do you expect the Cubs to make this offseason and why don't they just fire Dusty? On an unrelated note, why does a guy like Orlando Cabrera and his barely above .300 OBP get so many at bats in the two hole?

Christina Kahrl: Jim Hendry's one of the best player development-minded GMs in the game, but he's convinced he needs a big league veteran manager, and he's apparently still convinced that Dusty is that guy. The Cubs took far too long to fire Baylor, so I wouldn't expect them to move with any particular celerity with Dusty.

On the unrelated note, the Yankees of '61 batted Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek at the top of the order, costing themselves runs by the truckload. The traditional understanding that guys like that can help you by making outs and the top of the order is almost as timeless as the game itself.

Ryan (Manchester, New Hampshire): With the Red Sox season being over, what path will the Red Sox take in the Manny situation? Will they trade him, and if so, do you think the Red Sox are a potential team that Brian Giles will play for in 2006? Should they even trade Ramirez?

Christina Kahrl: I believe where Manny's concerned, the Sox will continue to pursue a policy of creative non-engagement. Let him blow out his own tantrums, and keep using the stick that helps make you one of the best offenses in history. The only people who want him dealt are the people who spend too much time listening to sports radio.

Tito Cuningham (CA): Hi Chisti, MLB proposed changes to the minor leagues, it will kill GCL and AZL. Will this almost guaranty that only the best of the best highschool players?

Christina Kahrl: It's an interesting problem for most amateurs, because it forces them to consider juco ball, college, and the indy leagues, all of which aren't great places to make a name for yourself that might lead to big money. In this, the industry is simply rationalizing its expenditures on player development, and the cost-benefit analysis they seem to have done encourages them to let people learn the game and polish their skills playing for junior colleges and the like. I can't say I disagree with the decision, although it does make for an interesting contrast to the continuing commitment to 'complex' leagues in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere south of the border.

RCCook (Dallas TX): What do the Rangers need to do this off-season to get into contention?

Christina Kahrl: I think they took a big step already in making Daniels the GM. Hart was the product of a set of expectations that were unrealistic, but Daniels should have the opportunity most new GMs enjoy, to make this organization his own. I like the possibilities, especially with the Mariners looking lost, and the Angels having to address retooling better than they have so far.

Tracy (Glen Ellyn IL): Christina, Is there any reason to be a Pirates fan anymore?

Christina Kahrl: My short list of teams it would be fun to fan of right now, because better days are ahead, would have the Pirates on it. It would also have the Brewers and the Indians, and perhaps even the Dodgers.

H.P. (England): What team has the best scouts? Do Mets have any good one's?

Christina Kahrl: The Mets do some good stuff with their amateur scouting, and its expected that Omar Minaya will help make them better with their scouting south of the border. I like the crew Jim Hendry has working for him for the Cubs, and I think we have to acknowledge the Angels' player development program as a product of superior scouting. That's off the top of my head.

Diane (Brooklyn): Hi Christina! Fill in the blank ... The Mets starting 1st baseman next year will be: 1) Mike Jacobs 2) Victor Diaz 3) Minky 4) Jim Thome 5) Lyle Overbay 6) Other Also ... do you think Olerud will hang them up now and retire back in Seattle with his family?

Christina Kahrl: Victor Diaz should have been last year's answer, and he'd make a great answer right now, but I'm not sure if Minaya and Willie Randolph have the sense, or if they wouldn't rather play to the tabloids and get Thome or Overbay. Overbay would give them what they wanted to pretend Minky gave them, which is nice, I guess, but I'd rather take a chance on 500 at-bats with Diaz, while having Jacobs around to spot at first when you don't have him backing up Ramon Castro.

russadams (St. Cloud, MN): Is there any truth to the rumor that the Rangers will be like a NFL front office, where the coach has the power and relies on the GM to deal with the economic issues? Showalter definitely has his own ideas on what makes a good player, and they probably will conflict with Daniels' ideas.

Christina Kahrl: There's a lot to be said for having a manager and GM who can work together, and Showalter's track record with the Yankees organization, working rebuild a farm system grown moribund from a decade of inattention, should be an asset in working with a GM who, unlike Hart, might make a better partner than self-nominated Fearless Leader.

Elaine (San Diego): The mainstream media has consistently misstated that Billy Beane “fired’ Macha only to bring him back. If they can’t even understand the simple concept of a contract expiring, what hope do we have?

Christina Kahrl: Ignorance among journalists is a problem that far transcends the sports page. You and I and all of us can stick with the facts, and whatever they're doing with the dead trees is on the collective conscience of the hidebound types in the press box.

Mike W (Chicago): What's up with umpire oversight these days? With Sandy Alderson having moved on, the umps are back to the amorphous blob strike-zone, and ass-covering press conferences. I think it's time to start looking over their shoulders more aggressively again.

Christina Kahrl: I have to think that there will be some attention given to this, but the way the industry is run, it'll be more about the atmospherics of appearing to be doing something than exercising any actual oversight and management.

Now, yes, Cuzzi's a joke, and Cowboy Joe West isn't fit for professional wrestling. Nevertheless, I'd agree with the suggestion that today's umps are better-trained than ever before. They're generally more fit, and they're nowhere close to the self-indulgent lawlessness of the past. Are they still fallible? Yes, but that's a different debate.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Is the Orioles' hiring of Mike Flanagan as GM (Executive Vice-President) and retention of any Perlozo as Manager an indication (finally) of some stability in the Orioles, or merely the sign of continued lack of direction?

Christina Kahrl: Although I am pleased that the Orioles made a choice as opposed to retaining the duumvirate between Flanagan and Jim Beattie in the front office, I'm not sure they picked the right guy, and that's before bringing up the unimpressive decision to keep Perlozzo. The club was every bit as flat at the end as they were when they used that as an excuse to fire Mazzilli. Maybe they're convinced he's the new Tom Kelly, but I'm not excited. Hopefully, it'll work out well nonetheless.

ElAngelo (Brooklyn, NY): Carlos Lee---Brewer building block, or trade bait for a 2007 push?

Christina Kahrl: A bit of both. For season ticket sales this winter, I'd hold onto him. Nelson Cruz and Corey Hart might not both be ready by the trading deadline, but if they are, you can move Lee then. Or Geoff Jenkins, whichever one the guy offering you good stuff wants for the best possible deal. I'd try to deal Jenkins now, rather than risk his getting hurt, and perhaps Lee at the end of July once you're out of it and/or both Cruz and Hart have earned jobs, but dealing both demands that both Cruz and Hart be ready.

To recap, deal Jenkins this winter, to create one opportunity for Cruz/Hart, keep Lee, and deal Lee only if the other guy has earned the job. Even then, you might not need to, because Hart might stick in center field, whereas Dave Krynzel won't.

marlette (reno): What reasonable move could the A's make to improve their offense?

Christina Kahrl: A DH would be swell. Dan Johnson's fine at first base, but I'd really like to see the team not settle for Hatteberg-type production from the DH slot.

shamah (DC): Who do you have in a Sox/Astros series? Does it have potential to be the lowest scoring WS in history?

Christina Kahrl: I haven't looked at it too closely, but the matchup would be fascinating if it comes off. The Sox with their right-handed power and strong rotation against the Astros big three? I'd probably favor the Astros for Oswalt/Clemens/Pettitte. Sox fans know their guys don't have Jose DeLeon to outpitch Clemens in head-to-head matchups any more, after all. ; )

Cris E (St Paul, MN): The Twins have only got a handfull of guys signed beyond 06. What do you suppose Terry Ryan is thinking with this sort of arrangement?

Christina Kahrl: Not much beyond his own future, frankly. I'd be surprised if the Twins were comfortable enough in their lack of achievement that they let Ryan ride the reputation acquired on the strength of his team's modest run all the way into the rebuild they need to be thinking about.

fratboy96 (Boston): Thanks for the supersized chat today, Christina : )

Christina Kahrl: No problem, in some ways, I'm made of spare time.

John Grout (San Mateo): Beane's rehiring Macha? Genius, folly or the path of least resistance (ala the resigning of Hatteberg a few years back)?

Christina Kahrl: Sadly, I think it's a case of the path of least resistance. Macha's agent didn't recognize the market, and everyone seems comfortable with one another. It would put a ton of pressure on, say, Bob Geren, if he was pasted into the job now.

Thaskins5 (CT): JP and the Jays have talked about being, “tired of losing” a lot lately. Based on this, what type of creative moves do you see the Blue Jays making in the off-season. Also, being that they had an awful record in one run games and scored about 60 more runs then they gave up in ‘04. Do they really need to be all the drastic?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think they do need to be all that drastic in their moves. Yes, I'm not a big fan of the Hillenbrand-Koskie-Hinske alignment at 1B/3B/DH, and moving one would be nice. It's also easier said than done, because I expect Hillenbrand's the only one they could really move. Similarly, the Hill-Adams-Hudson crowd in the middle infield doesn't have an obvious resolution, and all three are worth keeping, not simply as insurance against needing Hill at third.

The thing the Jays have to hope for is for Quiroz to work out well, and to be patient with the young pitchers. They can spin their dissatisfaction out loud, for public consumption, but what they've got is good and getting better.

billyballs (Northern Virginia): Hi Christina. The White Sox probably will need Bobby Jenks multiple times in the World Series. What impact do you think the long layoff will have on him and on the Sox bullpen? Aren't Jenks and his pen colleagues likely to have some jitters --that they could have gotten out of their system in the League championship, but didn't?

Christina Kahrl: This is the sort of question I don't generally answer, but I am here to stress that this is the sort of thing where we don't know, we can't know, and anyone who pretends to is looking for a reputation for prophecy through WAGuessery. These guys are pros. Do they get jittery coming into big games? Maybe. Will they be flat? I doubt it, I expect everyone's getting their side work in, instead of munching nachos and saying how cool it is to be here.

If someone says they're going to be jittery, whether they are or aren't, if they pitch well, nobody's going to care. If someone says they weren't going to be jittery, whether they are or aren't, if they struggle, everybody's going to complain, but assuming the Sox are keeping everyone on their workouts, there's nothing to constructively second-guess here.

Shoeless Joe (Iowa): Considering the time wasted blathering about Babe Ruth last year, dont you think Cicotte, Gandil, Weaver and I deserve some airtime from FOX. After all WE LOST THE WORDL SERIES ON PURPOSE. Or has MLB told Fox to avoid the subject altogether?

Christina Kahrl: It will be a bit interesting to see if they talk about 1919 all that much, and as unfortunate as the ignorance of the men in the booth on the subject is likely to be, better that they talk about it than which starlet of some fourth-rate filler Fox sitcom is in which section of the park. The focus needs to be on baseball, and the history of the game is a key part of that, in that it helps create any fan's frame of reference to the game, the Series, or the season. Like all team's fans, Sox fans have their stories, whether it's about Jerry Dybzinski in '83 (hero and goat both), or Jim Rivera in '59, or what happened in 1919 to the team that had won so well in 1917. You don't need to be from Boston or New York to love your franchise for its moments, good or bad, and I would hope that Fox, in its broadcast, would understand that, instead of moping about whoever isn't in the series.

David "Pearbody" West (Queens,NY): What do you think of the Mets trading Cameron and signing Brian Giles to play right field? Who do you think they could get for Cameron?

Christina Kahrl: I'm a big Cameron fan, to the point that I strongly disagreed with some suggestions that they deal him during this past season. Sure, it would have gotten Diaz into the lineup, but that still leaves the Mets bat-less at first base, and trading Cameron wouldn't fix that; Diaz at first would.

Now that Cameron's endured the head injury, I'm not sure who would be in a hurry to deal for him before spring training, but if he comes to camp and seems fine, I'd think the Mets should ponder dealing him. But for what? Again, the shortage of quality second basemen sort of limits their options, and they can't afford to wait on finding a first baseman until March, not unless they have the courage to simply stick with Diaz there, and courage that remains undemonstrated at this point. Pitching? The Mets aren't short there. A catcher? There aren't that many to go around, and Castro + Jacobs is worth trying.

jayhook62 (florida): Does Soriano stay in Texas or will Kinsler get a shot at playing 2b?

Christina Kahrl: I wouldn't be surprised to see Soriano moved to DH during next season if they can't get the right swag for him this winter. Kinsler's season at Oklahoma was decent (.274/.348/.464), but not quite the sort of thing you automatically lock into your lineup. Say Kinsler earns his callup in early May, the Rangers can move Soriano to DH, and dangle him during the season to the increasingly desperate contenders.

WestCoastFan (santa cruz, ca): WhiteSox--Astros world series: karmic retribution to fox/espn for scheduling west coast teams for 10AM games? Will baseball ever put some quality constraints on post-season broadcasts? Fox regularly shaves the start of the innning, and is practically running commercials between pitches. McCarver, Buck...

Christina Kahrl: Fox consistently treats the game as a necessary nuisance to get advertising, sound effects, and irrelevant expenses on graphics showcased in your home. They're doing great by their own lights, but Fox, like MLB itself, is sort of at a loss when it comes to marketing and displaying the core product. If anyone could simply accept that all you need is to fully broadcast the game, it would be a good thing. Well, except for a couple of Fox middle management types, but no doubt crypto-reptiles have their place in other segments of the media.

AJ (Houston): Not only was BP wrong about the Sox, they were wrong about the Stros. What were they *right* about?

Christina Kahrl: Let's be fair: I was wrong about both teams, but I wouldn't tar my colleagues on that score. As I said before, I think the times when we're wrong are interesting in themselves, for what those infrequent instances can teach us. Keeps everybody on his toes, and better to live without the burden of feigned infallibility.

Theo Epstein (Some Beach): Can you give me your three or four best or favorite personnel moves from July 1 to August 31 this year?

Christina Kahrl: I loved the Braves' decision to go out and get Kyle Farnsworth, but I suspect I'm not alone in suggesting that they probably should have made similar moves one or two more times in that stretch. Joey Devine in a playoff game? Yikes.

Steve (Manalapan): What are your thoughts on the unusual dimensions of Minute Maid Park? If yesterday’s game is played in any other park, John Rodriquez’s “out” would have been one of more exciting pinch-hit home runs in playoff history. Meanwhile, pop outs to left field turn into homers. Do the dimensions (and hill!) provide character, or are they unnatural and disrespectful to the game?

Christina Kahrl: This is sort of like Burton's observation about cuisine, that one man's dinner is another man's garbage. I don't think an absolute standard is necessary, but there are some clear transgressions that need correcting. The hill is probably the worst design feature in any big league ballpark, and needs levelling, but I like the Park Formerly Known as Comiskey and Non-Carbonated Fruit Beverage Ballpark for their short corners and relatively deep center fields. In the Sox' case, they're aping the deep gaps of old Comiskey, and in both cases, it's sort of akin to the funky dimensions of the Polo Grounds or Ebbetts Field.

If you want flat-out ugly and new, though, go to Cincinnati or Milwaukee. Washington fans should take note that not all that is new is attractive, and that there's no guarantee that we'll get a PNC or Camden Yards, whoever designs the thing.

Mark (Lawrence, KS): I'm trying to think of all the analysts that had a Sox-Stros prediction back in March....that's why it's a great game. What teams do you think could surprise next season, based on the talent they have on hand?

Christina Kahrl: The aforementioned Indians, although it won't be much of a surprise. I think the Brewers are going to surprise a lot of people next season, and the Dodgers will surprise people like Bill Plaschke.

Luca Brasi (With the fishes): Would Brian Giles be a good fit for the Yankees with Sheff at DH?

Christina Kahrl: They'd have to live with Giambi at first base a lot more often than anyone can be comfortable with, and they'd still have their center field problem. I guess I don't see it happening.

PSIllini (Champaign, IL): How does John Paplebon fit into the Red Sox staff next year? Does he have the stuff to be a consistent starter?

Christina Kahrl: I think he does, but the question is sort of like the one about what they would do with Ryan Shealy. Do the Red Sox have the patience to let a player develop in the major leagues, or, having achieved immense expenditures to pursue (and achieve) the highest goals, are they too absorbed with those sorts of things to remember to lay the groundwork for the next good Red Sox team? Retooling while remaining in contention is probably the most difficult thing to do in the industry, more difficult still when you're a team like Boston.

treble1313 (Antioch, CA): Who is the best player the general public has never heard of, right now? Jason Bay?

Christina Kahrl: Jhonny Peralta. Travis Hafner if you count a DH, but Peralta's the best all-around choice.

Christina Kahrl: Okay, okay, I can't talk baseball all day, not when I have yoga and Baseball Prospectus 2006 to get to before my day's done. I'm extremely grateful to everyone who showed up and/or submitted questions, and my apologies to those who asked the ~80 questions I didn't get to. Here's hoping we all enjoy the Series to come, the Hot Stove League on the horizon, and lest you forget, don't forget to pick up and enjoy a copy of "Mind Game." Thanks again, everyone, Christina


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