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Chat: Steven Goldman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday November 23, 2005 1:00 PM ET chat session with Steven Goldman.

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Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Steven Goldman: Ladies and gentlemen (mostly gentlemen): sorry to be, well, dramatically late, but why should chats be any different than the rest of my life? There is actually quite the valid - and exciting - excuse involving forged documents, high-speed chases throught he desert, acid-spitting camels, helicopters, Hummers running out of gas between exits for lack of gasoline, and a beautiful femme fatale whose secret desire is to go back to working the farm. Then again, maybe you've heard that one. Onward!

Oxie (Lubbock TX): Why are you with Baseball Prospectus? You don't write or think like the others at BP.

Steven Goldman: I always like to start with one of these, though a better question would be "Why haven't you written a column for BP.com in forever?" The answer to THAT question is that I have been detailed to a variety of special projects like Mind Game, the forthcoming Baseball Between the Numbers, and this year's BP annual, which I am co-editing with the illustrious Christina Katrina Kahrlovitch. I'm also writing three chapters. And making bag lunches.

As for why I'm with the group, you'd have to ask them - they invited me over three years ago. From my point of view, there's nothing cooler than being asked to hang out and work with a group of such intelligent, perceptive people. As for thinking and writing, well, we're all different - thank goodness. One of the biggest misconceptions about BP is that there's any sort of groupthink at work here.

Bubba Crosby (New York): Doesn't Buster Olney relaize that I'm MUCH better than Endy Chavez?

Steven Goldman: He might, he might not, depending on whether he overvalues stolen bases or not. When Olney said that the Yankees were interested in Chavez, he was reporting, not opining, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, as foolish as that may be. Chavez is the cube root of Podsednik, and Podsednik isn't that valuable. Someone has to see that...

Dennis (Newark): What should the ideal role of the #2 hitter be in a "moneyball" lineup? It seems like good lineups like the Redsox and Yankees still waste that spot with guys like Renteria and Cano, when they should be trying to get their big hitters up ASAP.

Steven Goldman: That's right. The batting order isn't all that important in terms of setting up innings. It's there to distribute playing time. You want the best hitters to get the most plate appearances, so there's no point in batting a Renteria at the top of the order. Put Trot Nixon up there or something.

One of the best batting orders ever was the one the Red Sox used in the mid-80s, with Boggs leading off and Dwight Evans batting second. They had a good chance of getting a double and a home run or a double and a walk every time those two came up, and their two best OBP threats got the most playing time. But these old stereotypes die hard and "The Bat-Handler" as #2 hitter has hung on tenaciously.

AaronD (Delmar): What's your take on the Carlos Delgaldo trade?

Steven Goldman: I think that Petit is a pretty decent pitching prospect, but that's not what the Marlins needed. The Fish have a lot of interesting pitchers coming along, guys like Jason Vargas (already up) and Scott Olsen. If they were dealing guys like Beckett for blue chip position players, that would make a lot more sense, because they are not as deep in coming offensive stars. Instead, in the two trades they've gotten three pitchers and one position player - Jacobs - who is not likely to be a real big deal. I don't think anyone believes in Henley Ramirez anymore.

Then again, he could be better than Alex Gonzalez just by showing up. Alex Gonzalez is baseball's longest-running parody. He's like the horsehide equivalent of "Forbidden Broadway."

I think the Mets did well for themselves - particularly in exploiting one hot week from Mike Jacobs - but their pitching staff is thin enough that they might miss Petit in the long run.

PJ (Parsippany): What's the closest that MLB has come to an Eagles/TO situation? And, does the media skew the story to favor the powerful owners over the player?

Steven Goldman: Allen Barra is a big Dick Allen partisan. The other day I asked him if the Terrell Owens story had any parallels with Owens. I got a very stern talking-to. Allen, I think, was perceived as a TO and was treated by the media as a TO, but - and Barra makes a strong case for this - Dick Allen wasn't a TO and got a raw deal from the media and the team. That may be the closest story.

Players thinking they were bigger than their teams - well, there have been a lot of them. Babe Ruth in the 1922-25 period. Got suspended just like TO for fighting with the manager. Derek Bell with Operation Shutdown. There have been a lot. Athletes live in a world that's all mirrors.

Andrea (TCNJ): Did the Mets get enough back for Mike Cameron? Could the Yankees have flipped Sheffield for Cameron and gotten relief pitching back too?

Steven Goldman: Andrea! One of my best pals is named Andrea. Not much of a baseball fan, though. We talk politics, not sports.

I thought the Mets could have done better. Nady is versatile - that's the good spin. Jack of all trades/master of none might be more accurate. Still, with the accident, teams might have been hanging back on Cameron.

Yankees/Mets trades are so frought with backlash possibilities that both sides hesitate to make them happen. Mets aren't dripping in relievers last I checked.

Sheffield for Cameron would leave a whole lot of offense on the cutting room floor...

Elaine (San Diego): "live in a world that's all mirrors" - I like that. Is that an original or did you borrow that from somewhere? can i have it?

Steven Goldman: Elaine! One of my best pals is named... Actually, I don't know anyone named Elaine, though my mother's name is Eliane, which means that all her mail comes addressed to Elaine. So I know someone the world thinks is Elaine, even if she isn't really.

I never borrow, Elaine. It's either mine or its in quotes. You do the same and we'll be square.

I'm still occasionally annoyed that the guys who beat me out for host of the Variety Show senior year of high school did it with old Steve Martin routines, whereas I wrote all new material. Ah, the unfairness of things.

Handol (Fort Lee): Did Arod winning the [regular season] MVP help or hurt his image amongst the conventional wisdom fans?

Steven Goldman: Oddly enough, I think it hurt him. That's because the media portrays him as a jerk because he - this is the strange part - acts normal. This distorts all the coverage of his on-field activities. The media flat-out lies about him, such as the dozen columns that said he "whined" about not getting enough respect when he won the MVP. Listen to the press conference (it's at MLB.com) - he didn't whine. He was asked a question about when people would stop criticizing him and he answered it. No whining involved.

In today's Pinstriped Bible I, with help from BP's great James Click, broke down when A-Rod and Ortiz did their home run hitting. I don't see a huge difference between them. Let me know what you think.

Jonny Gomes (Mexico): Am I for real? Does the >.280/.370/.530 stick?

Steven Goldman: I think it's more or less real. We'll see where his plate judgment goes - if he takes even a small step back from where he is now, he's going to have a hard time keeping his OBP up. The batting average will fluctuate too, natch. But I think he can do this, or something in the ballpark.

An unbelievable sequence from D-Rays 2005: (1) Gomes did not make the opening day roster. (2) Was called up and hit well, but was benched for Damon Hollins. (3) Sat for over a week, then was sent down so Hollins could play.

There were any number of moves by the old regime that were designed to just @#$@!@ this team.

Kenny Williams (35th & Shields): Rowand to Philadelphia for $24 mil and Thome. Discuss.

Steven Goldman: Woof. I guess Pat Gillick doesn't believe in Shane Victorino after all. I wonder if the Yankees could get him, not that the Yankees would believe in him either. He's not 35 and earning $42 million.

Rowand's disirability is particularly high right now. You've got to do better than this, even if it's just letting the Yankees give you a pitching prospect and Kevin Thompson. Even if the Phillies are paying most of the freight, from a tactical point of view, Thome could continue to break down, leaving the team with a huge hole at either first or DH.

I wonder what this says about their confidence in retaining Konerko.

Mike W (Chicago): Isn't it clear at this point that Jim Hendry is (a) Dusty's bitch or (b) not all that great a GM? And Steve, the high school thing . . . let it go.

Steven Goldman: I mostly have let it go, Mike, but every now and again it bubbles back up like an acid flashback. Not that I've ever dropped acid (Kids: Baseball Prospectus says, "Don't do acid!"), I'm just using some poetic license. A lot was said to me in those years about what I would or would not accomplish in my life, so in some ways ever word I write is a response to that.

As for the Cubs, they tread water. That's what the Cubs do. The rest is merely ancillary detail. I don't know that they've really made a concerted effort to win in my lifetime, which I mean that they've never had a coherent plan in place, particularly one. that involved putting a high-powered offense on the field, regardless of Sosa in his prime. Over the last ten years they rank tenth in the NL in walks taken. They've gotten lucky sometimes, but that's it. I hasten to add that no one is anyone's bitch. None of this stuff is, or should be, personal. Also, not knowing the internal workings of that franchise, or what restraints the ownership puts on the GM, I can't really characterize him. From my vantage point, I don't see the plan. I'm certainly open to hearing what it is.

This is the first chat I've ever done that someone hasn't complained about the speed of my responses by this point.

pjvent (Washington, DC): Steven: Isn't it possible that the inability of the Yankees to sign a bunch of these free agents (B.J. Ryan, Eyre, etc.) might, in the long run, turn out to be a good thing?

Steven Goldman: Great question. Yes, it might, if it means that they will give some of their own pitchers a try - and by "a try" I mean more than Joe Torre's customary two games in a blowout after sitting in the bullpen for ten days. The Yankees have LOOGY options, like Smith and Julianel. And if turning to them means they save some draft picks, so much the better. The problem is, there is still a lot of winter to go, and I don't think the Yankees will say, "Well, we didn't get the top guys so we'll just stop shopping." Rather, they'll just go for options B and C, even if B and C are from the Felix Heredia class.

All of that being said, B.J. Ryan would have been a good signing.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): After being 2 hours late, the speed of your responses would definitely be an after-thought! (j/k) :-)

Steven Goldman: I asked for that.

EDD (New York): What do you think of the Beckett & Lowell for prospects trade? AS a Yankee fan, I'm offended that the Sox pulled it off without having to give up Lester, OR Papelbon, OR Pedroia, OR Hansen. All of them, in my opinion, are more valuable prospects than either Ramirez or Sanchez.

Steven Goldman: You're absolutely right. It was a steal. Let's revisit this during the first Beckett vs. Chacon game. That will be a happy day for all Yankees fans.

Joe (Michigan): If I go to college (Mich. U.) and graduate with a statistics degree, what are the odds I can get a job in baseball? B/c I don;t want to end up in the other jobs you can work at w/ a stats degree.

Steven Goldman: I'm answering this one because I get questions like this all the time (mine have more to do with writing or journalism, but the broad outlines are the same). The simple answer is that the odds are not very good. Figure there are 30 jobs tops, and not all of them are open. Further, figure the competition is intense, because there are a lot more like you, and some of them were the GM's roomate at Harvard. It sounds like a cliche, but the best advice I can give anyone is to prepare yourself to do a job you love even if you never get a job in baseball. That way you're happy no matter what path your life takes. If you end up in baseball, so much the better.

You know, there's another scenario that no one ever considers: you get the job in baseball and you find out that you hate it, that working for a ball club was nothing like you thought it would be. This happens more often than you would think.

Phil (Blue Bell, PA): If the Philliss are getting Rowand, does that make Jason Michaels (whom I read the Yankees had inquired about, only to be rebuffed) available?

Steven Goldman: It might, though the Phillies would be wise to hold on to him... Over the last two seasons, Michaels has had 689 PAs, hitting .298/.381/.415. Twenty-eight doubles, two triples, 14 home runs, 86 walks. You probably have to discount those numbers for home park, and he'll be 30 next year. Michaels would be a stop-gap, but an acceptable one if the price wasn't too high.

At this point, I should mention that Mind Game makes in ideal Christmas present, as does Forging Genius: the Making of Casey Stengel. I forget who wrote that last one.

afrasso (Boston): So... Beckett vs. Chacon... you think, what exactly? Chacon was good last year, I think he'll continue to be good, but I think Beckett will become an ace for the next 5 years... what exactly did you mean?

Steven Goldman: I was saying that the Red Sox will have a big edge in that match-up given that Chacon is going to have at least a small regression. I was further saying, though so subliminally I don't blame you for missing it, that the Yankees' "We're all set in the starting pitching department" posture of this winter might not be all that wise. On the other hand, I do like that their position will almost certainly lead to some of the younger pitchers getting a chance to contribute, at least once the injuries hit.

doughk (DC): Bedard, Cabrera, Penn, Loewen, Olson. Can these 5 return the Orioles to the glory years of the early 70's?

Steven Goldman: Not asking for much, are you? My guess is no, they can't, unless Mazzone really can work miracles. They're not all going to work out - arms will fall off, and so on. And the Orioles need to rebuild their offense too. And revisit some character issues, big time. This is a team that phoned it in, even after the change of managers.

andrewberg7 (DC): What pitchers from yesteryear would have been best served in the modern closer role, but was hurt by his usage?

Steven Goldman: I wouldn't say that Goose Gossage was hurt by the way he was used - he was actually exploited to the hilt - but he certainly earned fewer saves than he would have if he had been used like Mariano Rivera. I once asked Gossage, "What would your numbers have been like if you had been used like a modern closer." He didn't answer at first, but a wistful look came over him and a broad, knowing grin slowly spread across his features.

Thinking about it further, the perfect answer would be Dick Radatz. He could throw the ball through a brick wall. The Red Sox pitched his arm off in just a few years.

michaelmuller (dorchester): Who wins positional battles between Jacobs/lo Duca/Willingham/Stokes?

Steven Goldman: You have to count Stokes out for now because of his wacky six-way thumb. He's going to have to show some production and durability in the minors befure he gets a job. If LoDuckie is still there he catches on defensive rep, and Jacobs goes to first. Willingham remains an afterthought, as always.

nomar4mvp (Boston): Please tell me the second interview of Jim Bowden for the vacant Red Sox job is just a local courtesy. Who should and will be the next Sox GM?

Steven Goldman: As someone who just spent six months working on a book about the Red Sox and how they got smarter than they used to be, I'm appalled by the Bowden situation. I don't have a specific candidate for you, but I know it's not the Vinny Castilla guy.

afrasso (Boston): Dick Radatz was proud of the fact that he threw 156 pitches per day, every day. You should have heard some of his rants on WEEI here in Boston before he passed away... you'd think someone with his career would have been out front trying to protect today's pitchers.

Steven Goldman: This is a variation on the Stockholm Syndrome, I think.

Amplifying the previous comment: both the Red Sox and the Yankees will spend money. The trick is to be the one that spends more intelligently. Bowden hasn't shown a propensity for making careful decisions like that.

russadams (St. Cloud,MN): This is my first year reading BP regularly, when do PECOTA's get put up on the site normally?

Steven Goldman: Next year's PECOTAs appear on the site in January, and also appear in our annual book, out in February just before pitchers and catchers.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): I think Joe's better off studying economics rather than stats. It's a broader skillset. Can you think of some historical examples of the "home starter" idea some people are suggesting with regard to Jamie Moyer in Seattle?

Steven Goldman: Again, study what will prepare you to have a happy working life, what will make you feel challenged and excited about getting up in the morning. If that happens to intersect with a job in baseball, great.

Home starter: whenever someone brings up unusual pitcher usage patterns, I think of Ted Lyons and his years as the "Sunday Pitcher" for the White Sox, a role in which he was really good. Then there are the Yankees of the Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel years, where they didn't have a regular rotation after the front couple of starters, just a pool of guys the manager could pick from depending on whether the opposition was predominantly left-handed, or hit curveballs well, or the team was in a small ballpark... No reason this couldn't be done today except the pitchers would bitch to the media, the media would kill you, and you'd get fired after the first arm injury, fair or unfair.

jschmid21 (st. paul): steven, not being a yankee fan, i've got a twins question. the st. paul paper today had a rumor/suggestion that texas would take scott baker and kyle lohse for hank blalock. what do you think of that deal? john

Steven Goldman: I don't think it's a good deal for either team, really. Lohse would be terrible in Texas, and his declining strikeout rate makes one wonder if he is going to be terrible wherever he pitches. Baker's a nice prospect, so he's good to get, but that reduces the deal to a straight swap of an established player for a pitching prospect. It's not enough.

From the Twins side, they need offense, but Blalock doesn't hit lefties, hasn't hit outside of Texas (though he will, I think), and as James Click points out in the forthcoming annual, his contract is heavily backloaded and he's coming into the big money now. If I were the Twins I'd be eager to get something of value for Lohse, but I'd rather try to maintain my pitching edge - and develop a new attitude about the relative values of offense and defense. That's the bigger part of the problem.

Missing Magic ((UMBC)): You said the Cubs "aren't trying" (following your orders with the quotes, sir), which is how I have felt about the O's for years. Have the Orioles turned into Cubs-Lite? You know, storied history, great park, no recent effort to succeed...

Steven Goldman: The Cubs are insincere. The O's strike me as being terminally confused. There is a difference. To win, the owner has to be willing to really break that team down and he hasn't been. The farm system hasn't produced any position players of worth since... Cal Ripken? Maybe Steve Finley? It's been a long, long time, and that's the root of things. Most of the time you can't get enough talent out of free agency to make up for a farm system that gives you flat out nothing. The alternative for the O's would be to trade as many vets - Mora, Lopez, Tejada, anyone - for youngsters until they can kick the farm back into shape. Otherwise these guys are just going to keep getting older and they won't have nayone to rpelace them with.

reggio (Cranford, NJ): What do you think Omar Minaya has up his sleeve?

Steven Goldman: A pookah.

lnodolf (Fillmore, CA): Who would have the most upside to draft in our srato league, matt holliday or coco crisp?

Steven Goldman: Coco in a walk.

Steve (Montreal): I've read a bunch of different things regarding the "extra revenue" that Matsui generates from the Asian market. If all the teams split merchandise sales equally, whwere is this extra revenue coming from?

Steven Goldman: I just asked someone in the know... Caveat lector, his info could be faulty, but his understanding is that the split applies to domestic sales, not international ones. I'm going to make some follow-up calls after the holiday, 'cause this one has been bugging me too.

mikecalc (Seattle, WA): Strat-o-matic or Dynasty League? Or something else?

Steven Goldman: As I wrote in the introduction to "Forging Genius," my first tabletop baseball game was "Statis-Pro Baseball" from Avalon Hill, 1978 season. This was my introduction to baseball. Later I played some APBA and Strat. I have fond memories of a strat league that used the 1930 season. I would love to get some of the BP guys together and do a league like that again. I had Lefty Grove and Goose Goslin... and Jake Flowers. Don't know what I was thinking there.

I don't have much time for simulations these days, but the most recent thing I've done was play about a thousand years of Baseball Mogul.

donk (NYC): Could the Rowand trade, assuming it sticks, mean that Abreu might be on his way out the door in Philly?

Steven Goldman: Not directly, but it could still happen because Abreu isn't the most popular guy. Question for further study: is this another example of a crabby, perhaps bigoted city villifying a decent player for reasons other than his contributions - which are quite good?

Tommy (North Carolina): Speaking of politics, what do you think of Chavez giving away all that oil at a discount? Kind of makes it hard to overthrow him when he's not being a madman.

Steven Goldman: Dude, with the way our armed forces are being sucked dry by Iraq, we couldn't overthrow a 7-11. And you're trying to get me into trouble. Every time I mention politics anywhere, including the shower, I get 50 "Don't put your politics into my sports commentary" emails. I've just about given up using topical humor because the topical sense of humor has become extinct.

When I do reference this stuff, my point is never really partisan. It's more like a gentle nudge: it's like dude, what we do around here is apply critical thinking skills to baseball. We try to cut through the spin and the bull and get at some essential truths. Did you know you can apply those same brain muscles to things that really matter? But it seems like it's okay to analyze what Jim Bowden does and come to a negative conclusion. If there's a parallel situation involving the government, you have to react emotionally, not analytically, or you're biased.

Brian giles (SD): Can I play a good enough CF for a team in depserate need of a CF? Maybe one with a short right field porch.

Steven Goldman: Probably not, but in a rotation with Matsui you just might get by. Last year the Yankees had no offfense and no defense in CF. If this year they have a lot of offense and no defense I would grade that an improvement. It's not ideal, but it's a step in the right direction.

toadlyone (nyc normally, florida now): i'm out of town and hadn't heard, but endy friggin chavez? and here i was hoping tony womack would be the last scrub forced down our throats by the Boss and tampa. next thing you know we'll have resigned kevin brown. anyway, my question. any chance of seeing millwood or washburn in pinstripes, or do we have to wait to be free of pavano to have a new 3rd or 4th starter?

Steven Goldman: Pavano has to go first, I would think. Both Washburn and Millwood (Washwood and Millburn?) are scary propositions for various reasons. One more lefty would be nice, though.

Boy, Pavano can't go soon enough for my taste. That he was a stupid signing was bad enough, but he has proven to be a whiny stupid signing. That puts him in the Whitson/Irabu/Kenny Rogers class. Get him out of town, Stalinize the history books so he was never here. And Jaret Wright, too. This is what I meant before about how the Yankees shouldn't necessarily stand pat on starters. The 2005 rotation is not a movie we need to sit through again.

Steven (Manalapan): Do you think that Redsox had extra incentive to make the Beckett deal in that it might scare big George into signing Damon to a big contract to "strike back"?

Steven Goldman: Not even von Clausewitz was this calculating. The Beckett deal more than justifies itself on its own.

Mike W (Chicago): Any thoughts on the contraction bugaboo rearing its ugly head in the next year or so? And how ugly is a bugaboo head anyway?

Steven Goldman: The real bugaboo is the end of the current agreement, which is bearing down on us like a runaway train. Let's hope that the owners weren't overly impressed with the NHL situation... Otherwise you're going to be reading a lot of "Babe Ruth: What a Guy!" stuff from me here at BP because we won't have much else to talk about.

sbd (MA): Looks like Manny Ramirez wants outta here - does a Manny/Youkilis/cash to Seattle for Beltre/Reed get done?

Steven Goldman: Maybe if Jim Bowden is Boston's GM.

bobbailey (montreal): I know you guys wrote a book about the "new blueprint for winning" about the Red Sox last year but, really, the team hasn't finished in first place in the last 10 years. It seems a tad odd. Any stathead bias vis-a-vis evaluating GMs on this site? The Brat had a sky high budget to work with this past year and amassed a starting rotation of Mutt and Jeff with their poor cousins filling out the rotaion. They finished second again and were swept out of the playoffs like yesterdays E-newsprint. If that's genius Bowden or Beattie will fill Epstein's shoes quite nicely.

Steven Goldman: I've gotten a lot of grief over the "blueprint for winning" subtitle, having to respond to it in every interview I've done. And each time what I've wanted to say is, "IT'S NOT MY FREAKING SUBTITLE, OKAY??? THE PUBLISHER'S MARKETING DEPARTMENT CAME UP WITH THAT, AND NOW YOU EXPECT ME TO LIVE UP TO IT!!! AAAAAAAH!!!" Our version stopped at "How the Red Sox Got Smart and Won a World Series." Which, if you read the book, I think we do a good job of explaining. They got their priorities straight for the first time in 70 years, and they were extraordinarily perceptive about what their needs were and then went about meeting those needs.

As for this year's mistakes, I think that most people underestimate the difficulties posed by having so many players eligible for free agency at once. The Red Sox did as well as could have been expected given the sheer number of decisions they had to make. If Lester and Papelbon had been ready a year earlier I think it would have been a different story. That was the only flaw - that when these 82 players had their contract end there weren't youngsters on-line to replace them. They're all just a little tardy.

Missing Magic (UMBC): I guess I was thinking about how the Cubs seem to be happy settling for tourist dollars. People go to Oriole Park just because it can be a nice place to spend a few hours. And fans from nearby cities flood the place...

Steven Goldman: And I guess that's fine if everybody is cool with that - to just be a place for people to go and see a baseball game, as opposed to going to root, root, root for the home team. Me, I think everybody should be in there punching, but I'm old-fashioned that way.

Whatever happened to Andrea and Elaine? It was so cool to have some womenfolk in one of my chats. You fellows are great, of course. I'm not taking you for granted or anything.

meat (pine, grabbed): Ned Colletti to the Dodgers... is this the best thing in ages to happen to a Giants fan? Does this mean the Dodgers will now be snapping up PMLVs in their last effective year, using backloaded contracts?

Steven Goldman: How much of that was Sabean's doing, or ownership's? New team, different needs. If Colletti has anything at all on the ball he'll recognize that and come up with a new program.

toadlyone (still florida): so right now it's randy, moose, pavano, wang, and chacon/wright/small or whomever billy connors develops a mancrush on. of those, pavano and wright are, we agree, less than desirable, and hoping for anything comparable from small is fairly stupid. plus, moose is not who he was, and will, sadly, probably only get worse. cash has to knw we need starters, and you figure once giles is locked in and ryan has made a decision he'll turn to the rotation. who, besides millwash, would be an option? i don't know if there's real solutions to be found in the market or columbus.

Steven Goldman: Sean Henn deserves another try, even if he permanently alienated Torre by seeming nervous in his starts this year. Matt Desalvo is going to surprise some people. His stuff isn't overwhelming, but he's a very creative pitcher, intelligent, analytical, and poised. And yeah, he's still going to get beat up sometimes, because that stuff only gets you so far in the majors. I think he can adjust, though.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): Ahem .... I'm not Andrea or Elaine ... but I ain't chopped liver either (and I have jayson stark's private e-mail) :-)

Steven Goldman: Yes, but the real question is, does he have yours? Sorry I missed you there. Sometimes a handle looks more like a handle than a name.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): OK ..... I'm slightly confused ... Is Jim "my back! my back!" Thome going to be the DH (as opposed to re-signing Frank "my ankle! my ankle!" Thomas)? I assume Konerko WILL be going back to the Sox, so Thome is gonna be DHing. The Sox are gonna miss Rowand's glove a lot.

Steven Goldman: And since I have a question from Diana in the que...

Thome as DH is the most likely scenario. So much for small ball, eh? At least Kenny Williams recognizes that they won with power, not Podsednik.

Rowand's glove may be missed, but perhaps Brian Anderson will be the better all-around player.

Missing Magic (UMBC): Um, that was I posing as "Andrea" and "Elaine" to get a few extra questions in...sorry.

Steven Goldman: You go to a baseball chat, you wind up in some nightmare version of "The Crying Game" instead. Man, I didn't sign up for this.

Diana, looks like you're the only legit femme here... Unless you're trying to tell me something about Jayson Stark I might not want to know...

jabrch (Chicago): Steven Goldman: I have no trouble admitting that I missed it on the White Sox this year. Back in April I thought they'd have 90 losses. I STILL don't believe in them to tell the truth. Well, you obviously have no choice but to admit you missed it - as your prognostication was wrong. Now what is more enlightened is to take what you hopefully have learned and either use it to fix your broken model, or to blow up your model entirely. Is you complete failure to accurately evaluate the Sox something you blame on players having career years that will not be repeatable, or is there something you now know that will be incorporated into your models that you didn't know before? My hypotheses - 1) traditional lineup construction (speed at the top, power in the middle, and functioning parts in the bottom) creates a "whole" that is more valuable than the sum of it's parts and 2) the methodology you used to value individual players is flawed in terms of its ability to accurately project future value.

Steven Goldman: My mistake was I took their "small ball" protestations way too seriously instead of realizing they were still going to hit a bunch of home runs. AS the season went on, I also thought the starters would drift back to earth, and they never did. None of this was "analytical" or "modeled" per se; more instinctual, off the hip type stuff.

toadlyone (known): i'd try and pretend to care about a team besides the yanks, but who am i kidding. with delgado off the market, what're the options at first? i can't see giambi getting more than 30 or 40 starts in the field next year, when joe decides to rub the ruben sierra magic troll. thankfully, it doesn't seem like overpaying for konerko is in the mix, but it still leaves a spot to fill.

Steven Goldman: Brian Cashman has been saying that Andy Phillips is going to stick this year. I don't think it's enough. What I do wonder about is the Giambi-as-DH thing. He's consistently underperformed in that role. There's no real reason it has to be that way, but rather than argue that at this point it seems wiser to acknowledge that it is real and accept that he's going to have to play first to hit, clanky D and all.

trink119 (New York): How about a CF platoon of Crosby and Kenny Kelly for the Yankees? There just doesn't seem to be much out there and I am trying to get creative.

Steven Goldman: I gave up fast food hamburgers years ago, thanks.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): Next time you are in NYC for a BP signing, I'll buy you a drink. :-) (and no, I dodn't know anything "different" about Stark) ... LOL

Steven Goldman: Finally! An excuse to ditch Sheehan after my next signing!

Andrea and Elaine ((Your...)): We can't believe that you didn't blow up on "jabrch" from Chicago. Most of the BP glitterati would have gone Chernobyl on that guy! We dig your restraint...

Steven Goldman: I vented all my blowing up on the guy who used my Hall of Fame picks to call me a racist. That was over in the Pinstriped Blog last week.

Veronica (Avon, IL): The Cubs' payroll is as high as anyone in the league. I don't see this as a case of ownership not trying as much as it is Jim Hendry being incompetent. And, to be fair, I should note that my name is actually Johnny.

Steven Goldman: We take all kinds here at BP, Veronica-Johnny. I don't think spending money is necessarily an indicator of an honest or applied effort.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): But you gotta get Will to come out East for it! (big Will Carroll fan)

Steven Goldman: Man, my ego just took a hit.

Missing Magic (UMBC): This was the mmost fun I've had during a BP chat...ever! Thanks, Goldman! -MM -AnE

Steven Goldman: Glad I could send you off into Thanksgiving - my least-favorite holiday - on a good note. But if you thought this chat was fun, you should have been here for some of Christina's eight-hour, reference-fest marathon.

Missing Magic (UMBC): Ooooch, just saw that one about Will Carroll. That hurts, man.

Steven Goldman: Yeah, but Will's a really good guy, so I can handle it.

Johnny (Avon, IL): I'm a Cubs fan, but I hate the Cubs. Is it okay for me to change teams? Also, who should I switch to? I hate the Cardinals and White Sox, so don't suggest them. I have the MLB Extra Innings package on the dish in the summer, so games on TV isn't an issue.

Steven Goldman: The A's? Angels? Dare I say the Yankees? I think it would be good to get in on the ground floor on Tampa, because they have a lot of good prospects coming. If they are run with even mild competence they are going to improve rapidly.

afrasso (Boston): Is it possible Lucchino got lucky with Epstein, and that he actually *doesn't* embrace sabermetrics? Wouldn't having Bill James on staff at least mean that they have an idea of the kind of person to look for in a GM? Or... are they just desperate to have a figurehead right now? Seems like the four-headed beast is doing okay thus far.

Steven Goldman: I think Bowden argues that they want a figurehead, but he doesn't exactly fit the bill, having always been Mr. Happypants superactive sugarhigh GM.

trink119 (New York): Glad to hear you are watching your weight, but do you have anything constructive to say about my idea?

Steven Goldman: Do you know what goes into a fast food hamburger? First, there's no single-source beef patty. It's all mushed together from different cows. Then its frozen, losing all of its flavor in the process. It is then reinvigorated with "flavoring." I live not far from the heart of the food science industries, and if you drive by at night, you can smell them venting all kinds of recognizable scents. Caramel. Popcorn. Fast food meat. Except, of course, they're really not anything of the kind.

trink119 (New York): One other thing, your chart in today's PB shows A Rod and Ortiz hitting all their home runs with their teams in the lead. Seems like some columns were mislabled.

Steven Goldman: There was a production error. It's being relabled as we speak.

Missing Magic (UMBC): Can you explain the Christina Kahrl this for us non-subscribers? He must have lost a bet...

Steven Goldman: Christina Kahrl is one of the most brilliant, loyal, educated, witty people it has ever been my fortune to meet. That's the whole story. I can't imagine what bet she would have lost - I'm pretty sure since she started hanging out with me she has spent more time in New Jersey than she could have expected. That's a Faustian bargain to be sure.

ski (vermont): where will bernabe wind up?

Steven Goldman: I'm thinking back with the Yankees in a Ruben Sierra role, for which he will be inadequate.

Handol (Fort Lee): How long will Matsui's streak continue? and will it hurt the yankees over the long run?

Steven Goldman: I think the detrimental effects of streaks are overrated. As long as Matsui continues to hit it's an advantage to have him out there. Do hitters hit better after a day of rest? That's a study that hasn't yet been done, I don't think.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): Since I outperformed 9 of 12 BP staff in the "Predicatron" ... I think I should be on the BP staff ASAP. :-)

Steven Goldman: Hey, I've been telling female acquaintances for years, write about baseball. And the neat thing about BP is it's a total meritocracy. You have the chops, we'll welcome you with open arms.

trink119 (New York): Yes, I read "Fast Food Nation" and it's prequel, "The Jungle", but that doesn't get us closer to solving the CF situation in New York. Crosby can run, he can throw better than Bernie, but he won't hit enough for Torre and that means Matsui goes into center and flyballs become doubles. So, what would you do?

Steven Goldman: Okay, okay, okay - here's the straight answer: Tris Speaker. Tris can hit and field with anyone in the league.

Given that there aren't a lot of obvious CFs available, the Yankees are going to have to get creative. I don't think that Matsui is a great choice for more than 50 or 60 games. Same thing with Giles. I have the idea, possibly naive, that if you had both somehow they would suck less in rotation than they would if one of them had the job solo.

Failing that, or perhaps even before that, I would be gratified if the Yankees went for someone's younger CF, perhaps a prospect. That's not going to happen either, alas. That's what I would do, though. Back in the Pinstriped Bible a couple of weeks ago I went over all the nearly-ready CF prospects out there and which might help the Yankees if they were inclined to go that way. Check it out...

jramirez (Tewksbury, MA): You goin' for Jaffe's record for longest chat here or what? Where's Manny ending up?

Steven Goldman: Well, I started late so I felt guilty. I will have to quit soon though. No clue on Manny. You'd think that Delgado would rule him out with the Mets just from a payroll POV. If he was willing to DH he would be a great fit for the Angels.

Jay Jaffe is another tremendous human being. Sometimes when Christina is in New York she stays with Jay and Mrs. Jay, and you just pray that nothing happens to that apartment, like a fire or an electrical short or something.

jramirez (Tewksbury, MA): Why so evasive on Christina's situation? Those of us who know don't care one way or the other and anyone who cares is too narrowminded to matter.

Steven Goldman: I'm totally down with that. It's just not a topic for this chat, or for me. Truth to tell, I was sort of mocking the idea that there's a "situation" in the first place.

johnny (LI): I heard Jim Leyritz on Mike and the Mad Dog saying how he can't imagine the players union allowing an amphetmaine ban going through. He admitted he had to take all sorts of things to get up and play everday, and said it was true of most everyone. Have you heard anything on this issue of the drug policy?

Steven Goldman: I think that they're going to have to accept it. How do you reject an agreement to preserve your ability to take stimulants? That would be a public relations disaster.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): In a softball game between BP staff and Football Outsiders staff, who would win? In a touch football game? In a tug of war?

Steven Goldman: Depends who has home field advantage. The BP lineup was constructed to take advantage of the 125 foot distance down the left field line.

snowshoe (vermont): Wang: contender or pretender? Will his shoulder hold up?

Steven Goldman: His shoulder is always going to be questionable. I think he's for real, but his low strikeout rate does worry me. If he can fool a few more batters he's going to be dominant.

Steven Goldman: It's time for me to start meditating so I can be serene enough to attend my family's Thanksgiving dinner. I want to thank everyone for sticking around after I was detained. I hope I made it up to you. Happy holidays, everyone. I'll be back to talk about BP 2006, which we are busily crafting even as we speak. I look forward to talking with you then.


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