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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday January 10, 2006 8:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.

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Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. He'll be discussing today's Hall of Fame selections and more.

Jay Jaffe: Good evening, ladies and gents! The Hall of Fame voters have spoken, electing Bruce Sutter with 76.9 percent of the vote. We'll be picking the Hall results apart tonight, as well as addressing the more mundane baseball topics like "How much is enough when it comes to veteran leadership?" (the answer is three guys, at least one of whom must have a gray beard).

JimmyJack (Bellevue, WA): Are you surprised at the HOF voters only electing Sutter? What do they have against Blyleven? I get the feeling that the writers need to do a little READING too!

Jay Jaffe: Am I surprised? No. The closest I came to a guess was Sutter and Gossage in the high 60s and Blyleven crossing 50 percent. But it seemed as though Sutter was getting a fair amount of love from the mainstream media, leading me to believe a few voters came out of the woodwork.

Am I disappointed? Yes. I don't really understand how a voter can tab Sutter but not Gossage, who was far more dominant for longer. I understand the resistance to Blyleven, but I'm disappointed at the folks who can't see beyond their own prejudices to examine the overwhelming evidence in BB's favor.

As my little tete-a-tete with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gene Collier showed, however, some voters can't even be bothered to THINK, let alone read when it comes to prepping their ballots.

Nick Stone (NYC): To what degree does the selection of Bruce Sutter water-down HOF standards? Is his selection on par with some of the more egregious errors of the veterans committee? It would seem like this could open the doors to a flood of relievers. Or is this a time thing, the result of a weak ballot?

Jay Jaffe: It's tough to say that Sutter waters down the Hall standards for relievers, because with only three (or 2.5, if you account for the fact that Eckersley gets a big boost from the bulk stats of his career as a starter), there aren't really any standards yet. Sutter (49.9 JAWS) doesn't measure up to Fingers (61.4), to say nothing of Eckersley (87.1) or Wilhelm (70.3), that we know.

But there are a half-dozen pitchers with lower JAWS scores -- not a lot lower, but lower -- all elected by the VC, none of them relievers (Joss, Bender, Chesbro, Welch, Haines, Marquard). There are also eight hitters, all VC, with lower JAWS. S is this a travesty of that order? No.

I think Sutter's election is the result of a weak ballot, yes, and I do think it will open the gates to a trickle of relievers, not a flood. Gossage (64.6, up from 55.2 last year) will be in within a couple of years, I think. I don't see Lee Smith getting the same courtesy, nor John Franco. We may still be waiting for Mariano Rivera.

kmdarcy (San Juan, PR): Teeth grinding...how do HOF voters pick Bruce Sutter and not Goose Gossage? (I'm a Giants fan without a stake in either; I remember both playing and don't think that either [Gossage less so] is that great of a HOF candidate.)

Jay Jaffe: Sutter gets extra credit for two things. First, he introduced the split-finger fastball to the majors (didn't invent it, though). Second, he was the first to be used in a closer fashion in that manager Herman Franks, mindful of his fragility, used him only in games where he had a lead that fell into Save territory.

Keith Woolner just sent something very useful along to our internal list, and I don't think he'd mind if I passed it along. It justifies nothing, though it explains a lot:

Sutter Gossage Highlight
1 0 Cy Young awards
3 1 Top 3 in Cy Young voting
5 2 Top 10 in MVP voting
4 1 Rolaids Relief awards
5 3 Led league in saves

That's the kind of stuff that impresses writers. None of whom ever had to step into the box against the Goose, clearly.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): As a straight average, is JAWS vulnerable to players who are all-peak or all-longevity? Take Julio Franco: his JAWS is already 60.6, and he hasn't been an everyday player in 12 years. If he had, I would think he'd have exceeded the Hall average by now, but I doubt it would get him a lot of votes.

Jay Jaffe: JAWS is certainly vulnerable to both, as illustrated by a pair on the ballot. Albert Belle (88.5 career WARP/73.3 peak/ 80.9 JAWS) is virtually all peak. Tommy John (113.1/48.7/80.9) winds up with the exact same score but is virtually all career. I advocated for both in my recent series of articles, but I can see that they really test the limits of the system. One thing I advocate is checking out a player/pitchers' RAA (runs above average) and RAR (runs above replacement) for a secondary cue to understanding their JAWS score. John has 1162 PRAR for his career, a huge number, but just 82 PRAA -- about 3.5 per year. Belle, at 673 BRAR and 480 BRAA, is a different story.

I don't think you have to worry much about Franco. If he's "already" at 60, just thing where he'll be when he's 75 years old. It's very tough for a player to substantially change his JAWS score at the tail end of his career, because the chances of him having one of his seven-best seasons -- thus raising his Peak component -- is remote.

Ben (Chicago): Are you suprised that only one of the 14 new eligible players got even 5% of the vote? I would have thought that Gooden and Clark would have garnered at least a small amount of support.

Jay Jaffe: It's two who got 5%, Belle (7.7%) and Hershiser (11.2). I'm a bit surprised the former made the cut and Clark (4.4) didn't, but not in a big way.

One more Hall question, then we'll change it up for a bit (I'll come back to it, I promise)...

dbmoye (La Mesa): I'm looking towards next year's Hall selections and it looks like Gwynn, Ripken and maybe McGwire are locks. Is there anyone on the first-timer list who doesn't deserve to go in the Hall the first year but should at least stay on the list for future consideration?

Jay Jaffe: Next year's list will keep me busy: Harold Baines, Derek Bell, Dante Bichette, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Brantley, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Eric Davis, Tony Fernandez, Tony Gwynn, Darryl Hamilton, Pete Harnisch, Charlie Hayes, Glenallen Hill, Ken Hill, Stan Javier, Wally Joyner, Ramon Martinez, Mark McGwire, Paul O’Neill, Gregg Olson, Cal Ripken Jr., Bret Saberhagen, Jeff Shaw, Kevin Tapani, Devon White, Bobby Witt

I see a lot of guys for the Hall of Very Good there. Besides the three you mentioned, I think the highest-rated, JAWS-wise, is O'Neill at 74.0, which won't cut it. Baines at 71.9 doesn't have enough. Canseco's at 66.7, which won't do, either, not that his literary career changes things.

Boy, Eric Davis... I still get goosebumps when I remember that guy in his prime. Incredible talent, very good career to overcome those injuries, fantastic story, but no Hall.

Moe Szyzlak (123 Fake Street): Your favorite Simpsons episode is...

Jay Jaffe: I joke about my 25 "Top Five Simpsons Episodes Ever" and my 50 "Top 10," but the ones I come back to are the 22 Short Stories about Springfield, the Bible Stories one, and the Dental Plan one. The recent Xmas one might eventually belong in that company.

Joe H (Philly): Where do you see my two Guzmans: Angel (CHC) and Joel (LAD) spending this season (and beyond)?

Jay Jaffe: Joel Guzman, who I examined for the Dodgers, looks as though he'll be spending the season in Las Vegas, probably switching to rightfield from shortstop in the wake of the Furcal signing. I think he's going to rank somewhere around 15th on our forthcoming prospect list. In writing the Dodgers chapter for BP06, discovered he had some really funky splits. In Jacksonville he hit .258/.336/.424, elsewhere he hit .316/.365/.524. He'll put up monster numbers in Vegas.

Angel pitched just 18 regular-season innings in the low minors as he recovered from arm problems. I'd expect him to start somewhere around High-A and work his way up, health permitting. But I dunno nuthin' about how the Cubs think about him.

Dirk (Germany): It is generally understood that Delmon Young is the best outfield prospect. However, Jeremy Hermida is a five tool talent with a much better batting eye. How do these two guys compare?

Jay Jaffe: Both of them are on the short list for our Top Prospect spot, and they certainly make for an interesting contrast. Hermida's got incredible plate discipline, something that generally develops later for many hitters, and is probably more fully formed, closer to the hitter he'll eventually be. But I think Young has far more upside down the road.

scareduck (West El Lay, CA): Jon Weisman recently said in an interview with MetsDaily.com that the amazing thing about Ned Colletti is that how similar his strategy has been to that which ex-GM Paul DePodesta evidently pursued, namely, get short term veteran placeholders until the kids can come up and contribute. While it's unlikely that this team will be as injury-laden as the 2005 squad, does it seem to you that (a) the bench (as currently constructed) is no better than last year's team, and (b) there are still a bunch of aging players at key positions on the roster?

Jay Jaffe: Hmmm... off the top of my head, the bench as it stands is Alomar Jr., Saenz, Choi, Aybar/Robles, Werth or Cruz, Ledee, maybe Repko?

I think that's actually not so bad if Werth is healthy. The 2005 Dodgers started falling apart when DePo stood pat on the belief that Werth would miss just a month; he still needed surgery in November. If Cruz were around to start the season, that probably would have been a 3-win difference over replacement level crap like Repko and Edwards.

Elsewhere, Mueller is the same age as Valentin was last year, Nomar's about 6 years older than Choi, Furcal is older than Izturis, Cruz older than Werth... the only position they've gotten younger is at catcher, Navarro over Phillips. So yes, they're older. Is that a huge problem? Not so much, because Ned Colletti hasn't made any long-term committments to these geezers. Mueller's got a 2-year deal, Furcal a 3, but he's under 30.

As predisposed as I am as a stat-headed Dodger fan to resent the toppling of the DePo regime before it had a chance to beare fruit, I'm reasonably impressed that Colletti's kept the Dodgers from gettting mired in long-term deals and hasn't dealt any prospects. I don't like that he gave up Antonio Perez in the Bradley deal, and I don't think Tomko's very useful, but Seo was a steal.

DrLivy (Charleston, WV): It's clear that the Tejada-Prior talks fell through. But, honestly, I cannot imagine what the Cubs were thinking. Sure Prior has a long injury history, but he's still only 25, and still has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in baseball? Could Tejada really have been worth such a high price?

Jay Jaffe: The next person who figures out what the Cubs are thinking will be the first. I know more than one supposedly die-hard Cubs fan who has pretty much thrown in the towel with this regime.

Cardinal991 (Brooklyn): It's no blockbuster, I realize, but what's your take on the Mets trade for Duaner Sanchez? Should Jae Seo have been valued more highly?

Jay Jaffe: Clear win for the Dodgers. Sanchez made a nice stride forward last year, upping his K rate and even showing he could close late in the season -- that'll help him if he ever reaches free agency. But Seo, though he's not a big strikeout guy and has flyball tendencies, was clearly undervalued by the Mets. I see him as being able to more or less replicate Weaver's contributions (200 IP, 4.00 ERA) at a fraction of the cost.

Jim (Toronto): What is JP's next move? Do you think it was smart trading Koskie at his lowest value? Do the '06 Jays = at least 90 wins

Jay Jaffe: You know, reading Koskie's response to the move, I was struck by the fact that when he was told, he expected the Jays were just going to ask him to consider playing outfield. If I'm JP and I've got Alexis Rios and Reed Johnson as my corner incumbents, I'm asking Koskie AND Hinske to take a crack out there before I clear the logjam. So no, I don't think it was a very good move even knowing virtually nothing about the guy (reliever Brian Wolfe, I think) they got in return.

I see the Jays in about 85-88 win territory if Halliday is healthy and if Towers and Chacin weren't flukes. Unless the Sox fill their holes correctly, I think 2nd place (not nec. the Wild Card) might be in play.

steve S (Davis, CA): What do you think of the Dodgers giving Bill Mueller a two-year deal (for $9.5 million) when they had two premium third base prospects (Andy LaRoche and Joel Guzman) in double-A last year?

Jay Jaffe: A fine way to buy time. LaRoche started the season in High-A, and while the long-term outlook for him is rosy, he's not ready yet. He's got some huge splits in his favor from Vero Beach. Guzman, who spent the whole year in Double-A, clearly needs a year of seasoning as well, and is more likely to wind up in RF than 3B.

Brent (Raleigh): Do you agree that, from a PR standpoint, the best thing that could ever happen to an ex-player is to be right on the cusp of the HOF, but not quite? I mean, Gary Carter gets elected to the HOF and that basically does it for people reflecting about Gary Carter and his career. On the other hand, Burt Blyleven gets annual 1000-word articles written about him by sportswriters all over the country. Maybe being on the outside looking in isn't that bad...

Jay Jaffe: I disagree. Carter took six years to get voted in. I LOATHE Gary Carter, but never for a minute did I have a doubt while watching him play that he'd wind up in the Hall, and it sickens me to watch voters make players with his kind of credentials twist in the wind. He may not be foremost in the minds of the public now that he's in, but he's cast in bronze in upstate New York, and thousands of people get to read the words on his plaque every month.

I'm sure Blyleven would trade the thousand-word hosannas for votes and induction any day of the week. Not that the publicity isn't helping; he jumped to 53.3 percent this year from 40.8 last year and 35 two years ago.

Ben (Chicago): I was thinking about the JAWS scores for fun earlier and it occured to me that there are a huge number of active pitchers who will qualify for the HOF based on your criteria. Maddux, Clemens, Johnson and Martinez are givens but Glavine, Mussina and Brown would also have greater than 80 JAWS if they quit today. Even Schilling and Smoltz may have a shot, especially if you credit Smoltz's relieving. Do you think that this many active pitchers deserve to be in the Hall and how many of these guys will get in on writers votes.

Jay Jaffe: I don't think that's a huge number, actually -- particularly relative to the fact that we've got almost 2x as many teams as we did 50 years ago.

But aside from the top four you mention, the only one I see gaining election via the writers is Glavine. Mussina and Brown will have uphill battles, Schilling may be cooked, and Smoltz - it all depends if he can put up another year like last year.

Funny thing about Schilling. I LOATHE the ballplayer and the man like few others ever to play the game. But I was asked to contribute a JAWS take on his HOF chances for a sidebar in Mind Game. Mind you, this is last winter, before we saw what rough shape he was in. I had him as borderline, with one or two middling seasons enough to put him over. The sidebar ended up on the cutting room floor -- keeping me from looking quite so silly -- and I think so did Schilling's chances with his early comeback.

Liam (NJ): Who's going to sign molina? Is he really stupid enough to take a one year deal off such an extreme career year?

Jay Jaffe: I know Toronto's playing footsie with Molina, and that might be a fit, particularly if they offer him more than a year. If I'm Molina, ANYBODY who offers me more than a year at a reasonable price is under consideration. And if I'm a GM with a crappy catcher, I start baiting him with a one-year deal. If I'm Oakland and I've got Jason Kendall, or SD with Doug Mirabelli, it's a no-brainer. Even a two-year deal is tough to be burned by.

jlewando (DC): I haven't heard anything about Boston pursuing Jason Michaels to help fill the CF and 4th OF roles. Nixon/Michaels in RF seems like a great platoon situation, too. Seems like Michaels would be available from Philly...What is your take?

Jay Jaffe: As a 4th outfielder who can hit and play CF well (107 Rate), Michaels is a property worth coveting, and I'm sure he's crossed Boston's radar. It wouldn't surprise me if something like that comes to pass, but it takes two teams to agree to a deal, and if I'm Pat Gillick, I try to get one of those young pitchers -- Papelbon, Hansen, Lester -- out of the deal.

nomar4mvp (boston): What can we expect form Bobby Crosby this year? He was batting 3rd for most of the second half. Is this the year he turns into a "championship caliber player"? Is that the same as a superstar?

Jay Jaffe: The prelimniary PECOTA I saw for Crosby the other day was .269/.346/.453 with 18 HR and a VORP of 32.3. I dunno about championship-caliber (which I'd say falls below superstar), but think he's a pretty good player who more than anything needs to stay healthy so that people can see that for themselves.

Forever 6th place (Pembroke): Does Jason Botts get regualar AB's in ' 06?

Jay Jaffe: With Mench, Matthews, Wilkinson and Dellucci in the mix for OF ABs, Nevin sucking up some ABs at DH, and Teixeira a fixture at first base, Botts needs several things to happen to get a shot in 2006 -- either an injury to at least one of the above, or a trade to another organization, either for him or Mench, particularly.

Seamus (s.f.): Do the Yanks win it all next year? Who is better in Al, if anyone?

Jay Jaffe: I think the Yanks can take the East, but beyond that, I'm not sure they've got enough to get out of the AL. I like Anaheim and Cleveland to give them the strongest challenges.

mcconkey01 (Raleigh, NC): Our local minor league baseball team, the Carolina Mudcats, are the AA affiliate of the Florida Marlins. As a Mudcats fan, should I be (a) concerned because any decent minor leaguer in the Marlins' system will be fast-tracked to the big club and therefore there will be no fun prospects to watch or (b) excited because the Marlins have a lot of prospects now, a few of which will be playing for the Mudcats?

Jay Jaffe: I'd say B, because you're going to get a chance to see a lot of talent. It may turn over quickly, but that's just more guys you'll be able to boast about seeing "way back when."

nomar4mvp (Boston): Why did the Snakes sign Eric Byrnes? Carlos Quentin (#12 on BP's top minor leaguers) is a much more talented player but it seems as if Arizona is unimpressed. What gives?

Jay Jaffe: Byrnes is a handy enough stopgap in CF until Quentin is ready, and is easly shunted into a fourth-outfield role (or trade commodity) when that day comes. Quentin's stock has fallen a bit in our eyes; he figures to be about 10 spots lower on this year's Top 50. He's been playing in great hitters' parks the whole way up, and it's easy to be blinded by the stats, which last year weren't so impressive once you account for the fact that they were in the PCL, where every ballpark has Coors-esque tendencies.

rscully (Virginia): What do you think of Jhonny Peralta's future -- can he repeat last year's performance consistently? Get better, even?

Jay Jaffe: I LOVE Jhonny Peralta. That's a monster Age 23 season to have under his belt, and while PECOTA isn't enamored (.274/.345/.462 weighted mean compared to last year's .292/.366/.520), I think it's judging him a bit harshly on his abortive earlier stints in the bigs.

I'd take the next five years of Jhonny Peralta over the next five years of Miguel Tejada. I was tempted to say Jeter, but as a paying customer of the Yankees, I'm not exactly an unbiased observer.

dmaybee (Virginia): Wanted to know your thoughts on Nomar's future in LA. I've read Mind Game's chapter on Nomar's regression to the mean. Thought it was great. Also what degree do season-ending injuries play in Hall of Fame potential? Griffey Jr? Frank Thomas?

Jay Jaffe: Glad you liked Mind game. I think Nomar probably has the best shot of resurrecting his career under the conditions he's in -- easy position, less runing, warm weather, close to home. That said, I don't think he'll overwhelm anybody. PECOTA isn't too sanguine (.273/.324/.427) but I can't see him doing that badly if he's remotely healthy. I'd expect about 20 HR and .290/.340/.460.

Not all season-ending injuries are created equal. If you go down in late September, it's not the same as going down in June or July. You've likely run up some solid counting stats and may be in consideration for an award. End your season early and you get nothing, not even fruit cup.

Nick (NYC): Should the Yanks pick up Piazza? He could be useful as a DH, catcher (to occasionally spell Posada) and 1st baseman. Or am I wrong?

Jay Jaffe: Piazza isn't a great fit for the Yanks, a righty hitter and DH type on a team that needs to find DH time for Giambi and Sheffield and -- if Metal Mike is catching -- perhaps Posada as well. If he'd learned to play first base, it might be another story, but he missed the boat on that one, and now he's paying the cost.

I see the Angels as a team that could really benefit from having him given they've got Crappy Molina and a rookie, Jeff Mathis, who doesn't exactly give me goosebumps. Oakland would make a lot of sense as well, but they might be more into the Big Hurt; I wouldn't make that choice, because Piazza's got some value as a catcher whereas Thomas might never don a glove again.

Doggy (nocal): What is your predicted order of finish in the NL West next year, and why?

Jay Jaffe: Dodgers
Padres
D-backs
Giants
Rockies

As I said before, I like Colletti's moves in that he hasn't mortgaged the future but has a very solid team put together. I think 88 wins takes the division, and a healthy Dodgers can certainly do that.

AlexCarnevale (New York, NY): It's a given that each individual author of Baseball Prospectus brings their own views to the table. Even so, do you see observable lines of demarcation within the stathead community? Could you characterize some of the different thinkings about, for example, roster construction that are argued about on the internal BP list? Could you term one person or subset of people as "mavericks"? I heard Joe Sheehan has a Lamborghini.

Jay Jaffe: I hope I'm not throwing Joe under the bus when I say that not only does he not have a Lamborghini, he doesn't drive. You can take the guy out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the guy.

As for the rest of the question, I'm not sure I can answer that very well. There's not a huge amount of disagreement on roster construction internally. None of us would be caught dead with a 12th pitcher or 3rd catcher on our 25-man roster. Many of us would like to see more Brooks Kieschnick types around. Rany Jazayerli has advocated a return to the four-man rotation. I know Will Carroll gave that some play in Saving the Pitcher, but I'm not sure he'd buy into that. Will likes the idea of tandem starters in the minors, which leads me to wonder if it would work in the majors, particularly in the #5 slot in the rotation. Chris Kahrl likes to remind us that per Earl Weaver, the proper place for your backup shortstop is Rochester.

I'm not sure if that answers your question, but it's what comes to mind.

Ed D. (Chicago): Do you know who are the worst and/or least distinguished MLB players ever to have received a HoF vote from the BBWAA? I'd like to see an All-Time "SOMEONE's Hall of Fame" team of such players/pitchers ...

Jay Jaffe: I seem to think Jim Baker or Clay Davenport identified one of the worst, but it escapes me. I do recall Jim DeShaies (84-95, 4.14 ERA, 28.5 WARP) brazenly campaining to get a single vote, which he got in 2001 (look it up). But I'm going to guess that there have been worse. Might make for a nice quick study someday once book season passes.

dokomoy (Los Angeles): Has the HOF voters stupidity over the years cost the Hall any credibility? If so beyond making me the Final arbitrator of who gets in, what can be done to fix it?

Jay Jaffe: As I've said before, the BBWAA rarely gets it wrong in terms of electing somebody who's NOT worthy (Sutter's not their best choice, though). They generally err on the side of keeping reasonably worthy players out, leaving them for the Vet Committee to sweep up. The VC is where the problem has lain for a long, long time -- electing the wrong brother (Rick Ferrell, Lloyd Waner) or their cronies. Per JAWS, the 24 worst hitters in the hall and 13 of the worst 14 pitchers were VC selections.

Does that compromise their credibility? You'd think so, but the mainstream public seems to take the Hall at face value. As to what can be done, I think you're seeing it. You've got dozens of eloquent and largely web-based writers advocating for Blyleven and Gossage, and as a result, their vote totals have risen markedly over the last few years. the goal of JAWS is to identify and promote above-average HOF candidates so as to raise the standards of the elected. Is it having any impact? Not by itself, but I think it fits in well with the rest of what's going on online.

I think there's a generation of writers to whom any sabermetric evaluation of the Hall is lost. But the guys who are working their way towards that 10-year status which gets them a vote will be more receptive to seeing things in a different light. That won't undo the mistakes of the past, but may right a few wrongs, and make mistakes less likely.

delany19 (San Diego): Given David Wells' age and weight, is he worth acquiring at the cost of Adrian Gonzalez? Will Boston dupe Towers twice this off-season?

Jay Jaffe: Wells can pitch no matter what shape his stomach is in, and Petco and SD are a better environment for him than Fenway and Boston. I'm not sold on Gonzalez at all, and suspect if a deal along those lines is consummated, Towers gets the upper hand.

Brian (Los Angeles): Hi Jay. Despite playing far from the coasts, the Cardinals seem to have more than their fair share of "cheap" HOF inductees (Sutter, Jesse Haines, Chick Hafey). Are there any other franchises that strike you as chronically over- or under-respresented in the Hall?

Jay Jaffe: The Yankees have a lot of subpar HOFers from a JAWS standpoint: Waite Hoyt, Catfish Hunter, Jack Chesbro, Whitey Ford, (who doesn't score well on JAWS, though I think that was more a fuction of his usage as mandated by the team), Tony Lazerri, Earle Combs.

Tinker-Evers-Chance are all in that group of 24 worst hitters, all VC elected as I mentioned above.

The Giants probably have the most though. Bresnahan, Lindstrom, Travis Jackson... I need to study more closely to be sure, but it's either them or the Yanks.

jacksonreams (Washington, DC): Hi and thanks for doing this. The BP chats could be substituted into my own personal version of "My favorite things" in place of "whiskers on kittens". BP says, and I believe, that relievers are easy to come by. My question is, how do you find a Gagne/Lidge type. Do you just round up some failed fireball starters, sign them for a pittance, and let them duke it out in triple A until something happens? Thanks!

Jay Jaffe: I think the best relievers are going to be the ones coming out of college and going to the majors in short order, the Huston Streets. Craig Hansen and Joey Devine didn't exactly impress in their late-season stints last year, but don't forget they already had full cloege seasons under their belts.

As for the Gagnes and Lidges, if I've learned anything about pitching -- and I'm not sure I have, but I'm the one holding the conch at the moment -- it's TRY SOMETHING ELSE. If a young guy's not cutting it as a starter, try him as a reliever, and vice versa. It just might work. The Dodgers moved Jonathan Broxton to the bullpen in the middle of last year and he found 5 MPH on his fastball and better control. Now he's the heir apparent to Gagne. The world is full of struggling pitchers. Round them up and give them innings and you might just find yourself with a bullpen the caliber of the 2002 Angels.

One more question, and I'm going to call it a night. We'll go back to the Hall of Fame one last time...

Peter (Staten Island): What chances do the Angels have of competing in a competitive AL West next year? They've done the least of the four teams and they had some holes to fill after last year.

Jay Jaffe: Check that, we'll go a couple more because it's my research assistant chiming in - yo Pete!

I see the Angels as still the favorites in the West thanks to their pitching. Colon and Lackey are an excellent 1-2 punch. Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar should slot in to replace Washburn (whom I wouldn't have resigned for health reasons) and Byrd, and between Carrasco, Saunders, and Weaver, they'll patch through the #5. This team led the AL in Support Neutral Wins (SNLVAR) and Reliever Expected Wins Added (WXRL), and they should be able to handle the turnover. Finley is addition by subtraction, presuming that McPherson is healthy enough to handle third and Alfonzo can quietly continue decomposing. Kotchman ought to see more time. And I'm still guessing that they might sign Piazza to handle some DH and some catching.

bianchiveloce (Anderson, SC): Does Sutter go in as a Cub or Cardinal?

Jay Jaffe: I'd vote Cub, but I suspect Cardinal.

Nick (NYC): Would Manny and Clement for Tejada have been a good deal for the Sox?

Jay Jaffe: No. The loss of Manny's offense would be death blow to the team as we've understood it for the past few years. With all those flyball pitchers, shorstop fielding isn't as important, and Tejada's nowhere near the hitter Manny is. Plus I think Clement can be expected to rebound somewhat.

bob Rittner (Spring Valley, NY 10977): I know this is a player chat, but can you justify the exclusion of Marvin Miller from the Hall of Fame?

Jay Jaffe: Can I? No. I believe he should be in there in a New York minute. You'll have to talk to the players who now control the VC, particularly Joe Morgan. They're the ones who hold the key.

Gregg Jefferies (Two Votes!): Which of those people you listed in your response to dbmoye's question do you think will get exactly 1 or 2 votes ... just like me!

Jay Jaffe: Put Ramon Martinez down for two and Wally Joyner for one.

kmdarcy (San Juan, PR): Does Sutter's inclusion make a case for the Dan Quisenberrys of the world? Hell, Steve Bedrosian won a Cy Young too. Not that I have anything against Sutter, I just don't understand how he's elected and not Blyleven or Gossage. (I don't expect you to answer this...just thought that I'd respond and piss you off as you're typing frantically trying to answer real questions.) :)

Jay Jaffe: Quisenberry, rest his soul, about as more worthy than Sutter. His JAWS (52.5) is a bit better than Sutter, but he had fewer WXRL (37.6 to 33.9) which almost cancels it out.

Jay Jaffe: OK folks, that's it for tonight. Thanks for tuning in -- it's been a blast to fire up the hot stove with you all.


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