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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday April 19, 2006 1:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.

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Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, sorry for arriving late... let's take advantage of a gorgeous spring day and talk some baseball.

tcfatone (NYC): Hi Christina, When soon will Howie Kendrick force his way onto the big club in a starting role? What are they waiting for?

Christina Kahrl: To be fair, Adam Kennedy isn't chopped liver. He can bop a bit for a second baseman, and consider how long it took the Angels to finally, grudgingly, make space for Casey Kotchman. It's going to put a lot of pressure on Kendrick in-season if they deal Kennedy first, and then hand the job to him, so a major consideration is how they're going to stage-manage integrating Kendrick into the lineup.

macman (D.C.): Hi there. Love TA, thanks for chatting. Comeback player of the year - Thome, Schilling, Rolen, Bonds, other?

Christina Kahrl: Thome, even if he has to settle for 400 PAs, because he gives the White Sox the lefty power source last year's team lacked. And have you seen him? Maybe we have to credit Herm Schneider, maybe somebody else, but Thome just looks like he's in better shape.

mjw024 (Burke, Va): Christina - Do you think the Nats new ownership group will immediately dismiss Tavares/Bowden/Robinson? Who would be your choice for new GM and manager?

Christina Kahrl: I don't see it playing out that way, even as I look forward to a day when all three men are in different roles. Tavares is a little too obviously MLB's guy, not the bridge-builder that the team needs to work with the surrounding community and be more readily the employee of the new owners. I suspect he'll be transitioned out eventually, but it's possible he'll have a good interview and fit in. Robinson I'd love to see move up to the executive suite, even potentially into Bowden's or Tavares' job. Bowden... I suspect the club, whoever owns it, will leave him in place until the season's end. A major consideration is that the new guys won't want to offend MLB by cleaning house instantly.

Who would I hire? Mike Rizzo of Arizona, Chris Antonetti of the Indians, or Logan White of the Dodgers. And man o man, would DC be fortunate to get any one of them. The club needs a serious player development-minded GM who wants to make his career on what he achieves in the next five or six years, not another showboater auditioning for some other job.

Raz (NYC): In his book BUILT TO WIN John Schuerholz, GM of Atlanta Braves takes multiple shots at MONEYBALL the book and its followers. What is your opinion on this matter?

Christina Kahrl: I think I shouldn't do what so many of the critics of "Moneyball" have done, and criticize a book I haven't read. The dichotomy between performance analysis and the scouting community is a red herring, and always has been. Well-run organizations use both methods to assess player value; the one that cultivates an analysis monoculture is going to miss things.

Pepperoni Guy (San Francisco, CA): When's the next Pizza Feed on the peninsula? We need our fix!

Christina Kahrl: Good question, and it's the sort of thing I wish I could participate in. Beyond catching a game or two in Oakland, I miss California Pizza--DC has its virtues, but quality pizza isn't among them.

Josh (West Palm): Please circle one: Now that his early hot streak will guarantee him at least some extended playing time, (Xavier Nady/Craig Wilson) will finally break out and have an above-average season.

Christina Kahrl: Craig Wilson, but that's too easy. I'm not a huge Nady fan, and even if I'm something of an iconoclast (some might say "hopelessly wrong-headed") within the group in believing that there are potentially synergistic benefits to being a solid bat in a strong lineup, I just don't see him being that good. Besides, I think I've been a bit pedantic on the subject of Victor Diaz's merits.

Wilson can help any team right now. A contender should want him, and the Pirates should make a point of getting something of real value for him.

Steve (Palo Alto, CA): I love your writing Christina. Last week, I heard Prospectus Founder Gary Huckaby and Protrade Founder Jeffrey Ma speak at Stanford. I believe either one of them could be a great General Manager. Who else from the sabermetric community has the talent to be a General Manager, and how can I get a job with Baseball Prospectus?

Christina Kahrl: You're too kind, but I definitely appreciate the compliment. : )

As this year's essay in the annual highlights, not a lot of statheads have the people skills to do a good job. Being intelligent is one thing, but an effective GM has to be the top executive amidst a group of decision-makers, and able to listen, as well as command the respect of his or her subordinates. There's a certain monomania that afflicts a few performance analysts that creates its own Bowden-like blind spots. I think Gary H. or Keith W. have the professional management culture experience to do a great job as a GM, but would either command the respect to not have to worry about his Director of Minor League Ops feeding every possible negatively-slanted inside dope to a local beatwriter? Not every owner is as weak-kneed as Frank McCourt, of course, but they are risk-averse.

Raz (Tehran): Should Yankees continue to struggle, what kind of changes can the team implement? Do they have the prospects to land a new Pitcher like Zito? Or to do some sort of major trade?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Raz, and a big hello to Iran's baseball fans,

The Yankees don't really have the prospects to make a deal, not unless it's a team that is either short on scouting, or quick to believe the hype that seems to surround certain Yankee farmhands. Where the Yankees have an advantage is their relative ability to absorb salary, which means that if they decide to make a deal for another starting pitcher or a DH-worthy bat, they're probably going to have to wait for someone who can't get what they want on the market in prospects, and settles for the salary dump.

David (Florham Park, NJ): ESPN radio recently reported that Dontrelle Willis may be available. Is Lastings Milledge (plus some spare parts) enough to get him?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think so, but I'm not as high on Milledge as some. The larger problem is that dealing Willis now, when it might affect both a plan to stay in Florida *and* an attempt to move the team to San Antonio would be a pretty clear dereliction of duty to baseball fans in either market. There's still contraction to worry about, of course, and we'll know what baseball plans on threatening on that score before the All-Star break.

Will (Watertown, MA): Doesn't a Craig Wilson for Kyle Lohse deal make sense on so many levels? Getting Liriano in the rotation, giving the Twins a ton of flexibility (1B, OF, DH, emergency C), getting the Pirates the right handed pitcher they say they want...

Christina Kahrl: Not at all, because Lohse isn't somebody who helps the Pirates in any way, shape, or form. He's another mediocre starter they'd end up wanting to or having to move, and not really somebody they should want ahead of someone like Gorzelanny.

Offering arbitration to Lohse made sense, but it would also make sense to deal him. They just won't get a bat as good as Wilson's for him.

Let's put it this way: if Littlefield made that deal, he shouldn't survive the week in his job.

TribeScribe (Oakland): What do you think of the Indians' decision to keep Ramon Vazquez over Brandon Phillips as their utility infielder? Belliard is only under contract for one year with no heir apparent.

Christina Kahrl: I like the move, in part because Vazquez has some utility, whereas there are concerns that Phillips sort of funked out for a few years when he wasn't handed a big league job. It was best for all parties that everybody go their own way, but I wouldn't be too worked up about. If there was a lost opportunity, it was dealing Phillips when his prospect halo was still intact.

One of the nice things about second base is that it often isn't hard to find a cheap and effective temp for the position. Belliard's the best-case example, and Joe Inglett might be the low end of that pool of talent, but it seems like there's always a Belliard or a Mark Bellhorn floating around; you just have to be the kind of team that knows that those guys are valuable. Shapiro and Wedge and the rest *know* that.

Robespierre (Avignon): You don't seem to think much of the Blue Jays compendium of moves in the offseason. Do you think they're a comparable team to New York or Boston? Couldn't they make up more ground quickly by replacing Reed Johnson with someone who isn't quite so sucky?

Christina Kahrl: A name well-chosen, and not just because I'm that odd duck who liked "Marat-Sade." ; )

I don't see the Jays as having made up ground. They spent money, made noise, looked busy, sold tickets, but they didn't really add a top-shelf bat besides Glaus, and Glaus' durability is an open question. They're reconfigured, but I wouldn't argue that they're really that much better. So for me, the drama of where the finish has more to do with the question of whether the Yankees tank. Keep in mind, I pegged Boston to finally win the East.

Amos (New York): While not the superstar he was originally pegged to be, Wilson Betemit keeps looking like a better player than people seem to expect. What do you see for him in the next few years, in performance, position, and opportunity? Thanks. The site and annual have both been outstanding starts to the year.

Christina Kahrl: I guess I see continued, similar opportunities. Eventually, Chipper's glovework at third will become the sort of problem the Braves will tire of, and if that moves him to first or into the non-Francoueur corner of the outfield, Betemit would be the obvious beneficiary. He'll also take advantage of the fact that Jones and Edgar Renteria will get nicked up with age.

And thanks for the compliments about the site and the book. Don't forget Jonah's baby, "Baseball Between the Numbers." We're fortunate to have such an outstanding group of contributors, from Gary Huckabay doing an occasional Buck Henry star-turn, to the regular ensemble cast, to an addition like Kevin Goldstein.

tommybones (flagstaff): hey there....Any update on Chris Young's progress? When will he save us from the Byrnes/Devanon monstrosity?

Christina Kahrl: Byrnes and DaVanon aren't going to win any Gold Gloves, but they're an adequate pair of place-holders. When Young's ready--maybe August?--he'll be up to stay. Hopefully, the Snakes can find a waiver deal for Byrnes or DaVanon, and garner some value for either.

Race Bannon (Montevideo): Thanks for chatting, CK! Notwithstanding the pre-season PECOTA forecast, the N.L. Central looks to plausibly have at least a trio of 90-95 win teams (StL, Hou, and Chi), esp. if Edmonds returns to form or the Cubs get something decent from Prior OR Wood OR Wade Miller. Who wins & who gets the wildcard?

Christina Kahrl: Not a problem, Race, I'm a bit of a chatty Kathy, so to speak. I guess I'm still something of a skeptic where the Astros are concerned, my being dead wrong about them last year notwithstanding. I'm sticking with the Cardinals as my pick, in part because of my confidence that Walt Jocketty will fix problems, and because I have so little faith that the Astros' pitching will hold up or that the Cubs will ever fire on all cylinders.

Will (Watertown,MA): Two weeks in and I think you were right when you predicted that Alex Gonzalez would make Boston fans miss Edgar Renteria. So when do you think we see Pedroia?

Christina Kahrl: That's a tough call, because I'm not we expect the Red Sox to be so bold as to make Pedroia their everyday shortstop. That's not to flog Terry Francona unnecessarily, but for all the talk of playing Bill Mueller at second, they didn't really play Bill Mueller at second all that much, because they knew it wouldn't help them that much defensively. Pedroia will have to convince everyone that he can handle the position before they ask in the majors, because the organization is sensitive to local hyperbole in the media, and the last thing they want is to potentially wreck Pedroia by asking him to do something that he can't.

The Other Darren (Bewitched, ID): Hello Cristina. I don't want to be all negative, but I do have a question about Baseball Prospectus 2006. There really seem to be a lot more typos, mistakes, and just slipshod editing in this year's book. Was there an incident or problem that led to that, and how do you intend to make sure the same problems don't happen in the future. I'm a longtime supporter of BP, but that's because of the very high quality and love for the game. I expect better from BP. The essays in the back were really great this year, by the way, particularly Huckabay's.

Christina Kahrl: It's an entirely fair question, because editorial quality did definitely change for the worse this year when it came to typos and danglers. This was the product of two problems, one technological, and the other sort of cross-institutional, to put it delicately. The first, we're fixing, and the second, we've fixed. One of our most critical objectives is to fulfill our responsibilities to our audience, to give them quality content. On that score, we've done better, and we will do better again.

So believe me, the constructive criticism is taken well on this end, and thank you for the kind words on the back o'the book pieces. Gary, Keith, Andy, and Tom did really outstanding work.

Ephesosicle (Ephesos): Is there any team in baseball that could improve more by simply exchanging a position and his backup than the Oakland A's giving the bulk of PT to Adam Melhuse, and sitting down the extremely bad Jason Kendall? A major league baseball player should be able to hit a baseball 300 feet on the fly, at least in theory. 550 ABs of Melhuse and 100 of Kendall could be the difference between the playoffs and another October watching TV, couldn't it?

Christina Kahrl: Maybe, and maybe Melhuse would melt down and become a much less useful bat if he had to catch five days a week. I'm as sour on how things have worked out with Kendall as the next A's fan, but there is something to be said for a decent OBP and the durability to catch regularly. What kills me about Kendall is the GIDPs, and that's something where I don't know if he just needs to be put behind someone with some actual footspeed, and if the A's need to start bothering with in-game tactics and at least threaten a few SB attempts and the occasional hit-and-run. My opinion--easily discarded by anyone--is that there's a tactical penalty when you don't at least threaten the opposition with offensive tactics. I wouldn't actually do them all that often, but it's worth it to keep the defense on its toes.

Bill Waldron (Belmonten, MI): Christina, are there particular clubs that just don't understand the transaction rules, and get hurt because of it? If so, who are they? Who's losing talent because they lose the tactical game?

Christina Kahrl: Not so much as it used to be, when you had GMs like Lou Gorman or Syd Thrift making significant errors in roster management during the '80s. Pretty much everyone sweats the small stuff, although you still get the occasionally exasperating move, like the Jays losing Vince Perkins over Jason Phillips.

Kevin (Foxboro, MA): Hi Chris! Any chance of Joey Eischen being useful to anybody? Also, who would you most want for the rest of 2006 - Jeff Suppan, Jae Seo, Cory Lidle or Scott Baker? Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: Is Eischen plausibly Dutch or something? I understand some teams in the WBC are looking for a few good men, or at least willing to settle for bilateral symmetry.

Scott Baker, easily.

Frustrated (Kansas City): Christina, I am fed up with the Royals, but far too invested emotionally to change loyalties to another team. Do I have any chance of seeing a winning team in Kansas City this decade? I know they have some possible stud bats almost ready (Gordon, Butler, Huber), but the pitching looks to be dreadful for years. Will it take a new GM to make any difference?

Christina Kahrl: Yes, and yes. There's a virtue to changing gears and having someone come in without an emotional investment in how particular bad ideas turn out. Twenty years ago, I used to always joke that one of the great things about Whitey Herzog or Dick Williams was that it was sort of baseball's answer to Roman decimation, where he just cuts bait where other people keep hoping that this is the year that an Affeldt or a Gobble or a Chris George finally turns it around. Whitey's got to be a bit too old, but as a man to help make a break from the increasing decrepitude of the Robinson-Baird years, remind people that this used to be one of the most feared and respected organizations in the game, and head a transition team that would have the sense of purpose to make some hard choices, you could do a lot worse.

Nick from WH (SF): You're good with history. Is Selig really the greatest commish in the history of the game as a recent book by a respected economist contends?

Christina Kahrl: With the qualification that if you define the commissioner as an employee of the owners, someone who builds consensus within the industry, and someone who grows that industry, then yes, he's arguably the greatest commissioner. Keep in mind, most of commissioners either did active harm to the game or the industry (like Fay Vincent or Bowie Kuhn or Peter Ueberroth), or served their time inoffensively (Ford Frick, Spike Eckert). So the list of commissioners who matter and who helped the industry is pretty short.

kim (portsmouth, RI): What to do with Papelbon??????

Christina Kahrl: I know it might sound bass-ackwards, but leave him in the pen, and see if Foulke can move back into the rotation. Foulke has sometimes expressed a desire to do so, and a few extended outings might actually get him back on track. Papelbon's ceiling as a starter, even without reference to PECOTA's negative waves on all things Papelbon, seems pretty low.

marty debergi (Hollywood): Who leads the DRays in saves by season's end?

Christina Kahrl: In all seriousness, does it matter? Chad Orvella has a claim on some portion of this bullpen's future, and Dan Miceli is obviously a temporary choice, but the D-Rays should be more fundamentally concerned with assembling five or six good arms in their pen than sorting out who gets the cheap glory stat.

Lonely2Long (Hoboken, NJ): Greetings Christina: Does Scott Baker's recent success in the Twins rotation leave Liriano languishing in the pen? What's your over/under for when Francisco becomes a starter? Thanks.

Christina Kahrl: I'm a big Baker fan (double-take that, Cubs fans), so I hope he gets left alone in their rotation for years to come. I think the more important question is when/where they ship off Lohse, who isn't all bad, but also isn't all good, and who effectively has no ceiling compared to someone like Liriano. Maybe this is the year that Terry Ryan works up the nerve to do an in-season deal as bold as the Shannon Stewart trade, with Lohse part of the outbound package, but like I said before, unless the other guy's a rube, Lohse isn't going to bring you that much in return.

Frustrated (Kansas City): Whitey coming back to help direct this team back to respectability would be like a dream come true. Have you heard something in the baseball rumor mill, or were you just throwing his name out there as a good idea? Thanks for the chat and great information in the book and on the site. BP has become part of my daily routine.

Christina Kahrl: Sadly, Frustrated, it's just my bit of sympathy for the Royals and their fans, and a bit of wishcasting. When I was young, the Royals were the team who came to town and beat the bejeebus out of the A's. George Brett was too good not to admire, and in the old AL West, the Royals were our Yankees. That's worth remembering, and it's worth turning to some of the men who helped make it possible. But in the same way that the Royals quailed at the prospect of Buck Showalter taking over the team, they probably lack the sense of their own desperation to start doing the hard, difficult things they must to turn themselves around.

Klondike (Bar): With the Yankees signing Carlos Pena (and they'll DFA Phillips I assume), where does Phillips go, what MLB team picks him up? r does he make it back to AAA? Really I've been telling my friend he could be productive for 2 years now, he can't get buried at AAA again

Christina Kahrl: If Phillips is lucky, he winds up with a team that wants a RH bat who can play some first, possible take on a regular PH role. I guess I think he'd be more useful in the NL, where his line-drive stroke and ability to make contact *could* make him a useful bench player (on a team that uses its bench), but even then, he has to make the adjustments to the PH role that not every player who can handle playing every day in Triple-A can make.

Grant (Iowa City): Hi Chris - love your work for BP! A month ago the Wily Mo for Arroyo trade looked like another Boston steal. Its only 2+ weeks into the season, and while I doubt Arroyo will finish the year with a higher OPS than Pena, he has pitched surprisingly effectively while Wily Mo has been unimpressive in a reserve role. Is it time to reevaluate this deal?

Christina Kahrl: No, it isn't. Although it's fun to see that Arroyo likes swinging the lumber, beyond that I don't think we know anything that we didn't already know. It's two weeks, Pena's still loaded with promise, and Arroyo's still an essentially mediocre starting pitcher, although now possibly one with that ultra-cool Don Robinson vibe.

elliotjorgensen (Davis, CA): Yo yo Ms. Kahrl. Good day. Do you feel that Oakland's stockpiling of starting pitchers is unwise in the sense that they could get mad hella bomb ass players if they were to make a trade? No doubt Beane has checked out his options. And the saying "you can never have too much starting pitching" is true to me. Perhaps it is because there is no glaring weakness to his team? Or perhaps he is waiting for just the right sucker to come along. Thoughts? Thank you and have a lovely day.

Christina Kahrl: Thank you, Elliot, same to you verraverramuch. It makes sense to see what the market *might* yield while also pondering what's going to happen in-season. If the A's were to tank--for the sake of argument--then the decision to deal Zito at the end of July becomes pretty easy to make. If Zito's a prime part of the reason why you're winning--if it plays out that way--take the wins and perhaps settle for the draft picks. It isn't like Oakland should be going out of its way to create an opportunity for Kirk Saarloos. He's a fun reclamation project, nothing more.

tommybones (NYC): Is Corey Hart ever going to get a chance to play?

Christina Kahrl: I'm one of those people who really thinks Hart can be a star at any of the four different corner positions, even if he's Pedro Guerrero-bad at third base. The pity of it is that he's with the Brewers, who have all sorts of tasty alternatives at those four positions. Could they dangle him for the sort of rotation upgrade that might make them extra-tough in a short series? I would, but that's if this team stays ahead of schedule and threatens the Cardinals into July.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): 2003 Tigers vs. 2006 Royals ... who wins the 7-game series? And ... are the 06 Royals in the vicinity of the 62 Mets?

Christina Kahrl: I'd probably pick the Tigers, but I'm sure somebody with Diamond Mind and a lot of spare time has already put this to the test. ; )

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Assume Mike Hargrove grows a brain and notices that Adrian Beltre has lost all powers of pitch recognition. Who plays third while the search parties scour Puget Sound?

Christina Kahrl: Third base isn't an area of organizational strength, and it's a long time before we see if Matt Tuisasosopo could handle the position if asked. So it's a daily diet of Beltre, with the only alternative being more Willie Bloomquist than the Surgeon General recommends for a healthy lineup.

Nick from WH (SF): in retrospect, what do you make of the off-season drama of Theo and Larry in Boston? Was Theo being immature?

Christina Kahrl: Maturity may have been the issue in play, but I think you're pointing this question in the wrong direction.

eh (Edmonton): Any hope for the Twins? And why is Kubel in AAA, after 20 at bats?

Christina Kahrl: There's hope, because of the strength of the core talent. What sours me is that lack of a killer instinct, the absence of any desire to do anything more than embroider that roster. This team could use a new Chili Davis deal.

But why is Kubel in Triple-A? For the same reason they got cranky with Jason Bartlett last year. They're the Twins.

carlosrubi (Mexico): Ronny Paulino: Future IBAC member or starter?

Christina Kahrl: A good question, but I think he'll make a better starter than Humberto Cota, and also a number of actual starting catchers around the game. Cota, on the other hand, would definitely be a member in good standing for the International Brotherhood of Backup Catchers.

Nick from WH (SF): If Willis becomes available, should the Yanks sell the farm for him? Hughes and Duncan too much?

Christina Kahrl: Hughes would have to be part of a package, but the problem is that it isn't long before the Yankees get down to throwing in some blankets, beads, and berries, and hoping that's enough. Case in point is Duncan, who seems more likely to graduate to the Drew Henson Hall of Pinstriped Regrets than become a worthwhile prospect. If you want Willis, you'd probably have to throw in someone like Hughes, plus Vechionacci, plus Cano, and even that wouldn't be anywhere close to enough.

jlewallen (Washington, DC): Do you think the Nationals should keep both Church and Watson on the big league roster, and Watson as a defensive replacement for Soriano (Church would move to left)? Can Watson improve so much that he needs to play every day?

Christina Kahrl: Yes, I think they should carry both Church and Watson. In part because I don't think there's anything to be gained by keeping Marlon Byrd instead of Watson. But also, I don't think Watson really has all that much up-side to lose if it simply gets typecast into a fourth or fifth outfielder's job.

SouthCharlotte (NotCharlotte): Christina, I don't think of this as your area, but I'm just starting to use the team tracker: 1) Why is it updated so late? Your other stat reports do a great job being updated from last night whenever I check them in the morning. 2) It would be cool if you had a revised projection (in addition to Year To Date & PECOTA) that would book what already happened & combine with a pro-rated PECOTA for the percentage of the year left to play. That would be a huge differentiator for your site.

Christina Kahrl: For the first question, I know we've been switching to a new and improved server setup, so I'd expect improvements on this in the days and weeks to come. For the second, I know we've been talking about ways to do in-season PECOTA updates, and create packages and/or products that answer the demand for them. It doesn't hurt to keep asking, because we do aim to please.

Mike W (Chciago): KC constitutes a leg up in the AL WC chase for Cleveland or Chicago, dowsn't it? I know the East and Central are pretty solid otherwise, but a 16-3 or so vs KC has to help. I think the Royals might actually win <50.

Christina Kahrl: A very good point, Mike, but also keep in mind that--unfortunately--we have interleague play to worry about as well, and gods above and below as to what that's going to do in a few particularly tight races. It's time to stop pretending that interleague play is popular or generates better attendance, and to start treating the playoffs as the serious product of intra-league competition.

irablum (Work): Was there a bigger steal this offseason than the Rangers acquiring Vincente Padilla for Ricardo Rodriguez? Granted that Padilla isn't really that great of a pitcher, but, well, does Rodriguez have ANY offers to work now? or is he just wandering the country wearing a placard saying, "Will Pitch for Food?"

Christina Kahrl: A good question, Ira, since even if Padilla's as much of a clubhouse superfund site problem as some make it out to be, he's still worth picking up when you're as hard up for pitching as the Rangers. It's sort of amusing that the Rangers gave up more for John Koronka--who's also worth having when you're this short-handed--than they did for Padilla, but this is clearly a rotation built on the solid principle that a Wasdin-free rotation is a better one.

mg (DC): Agree on the dearth of DC pizza, though Armand's is respectable. Do you think Gaudin has much of a future, either with the A's or elsewhere? And what was BB up to with the Halsey deal?

Christina Kahrl: I still like Gaudin, although I'm not sure if he's going to be able to rise through the crowded situation in Oakland. I think the Halsey pickup was a question of handedness, plus his having an option as well as major league experience. We still don't know if Dan Meyer's going to work out, after all, but if he doesn't, and Zito gets dealt, you'd still like to have something other than an automatic "Saarloos starts" scenario. The Halsey deal seemed to be about roster flexibility.

I'd rather have Cruz in the pen and no Jay Witasick, but that's just me.

Armand's is adequate, but being Italian on Mom's side, I generally favor making my own for friends and family. That said, we can't have a Pizza Feed at my place, so maybe another go-round with Armand's is overdue.

Alex (Houston): Nate Silver ranked Berkman the 38th best player in baseball. What the hell?!

Christina Kahrl: What, you think he should be lower? That's cold. Where's the hometown love? ; )

If, as I suspect, you wish he was higher, keep in mind that he's a potent hitter at a position--whether you want him at first or an outfield corner--that has plenty of potent hitters, and that he's already 30. Ranking 38th isn't an insult, it's an acknowledgment.

tom (NYC): Fantasy League Rant: I'm tired of looking at a struggling player and thinking, is it a slump or are they off the juice? This steroid mess really messes with my head. Adrian Beltre???? Wilkerson??? etc. etc. etc.

Christina Kahrl: Don't get too worked up about it. Generally speaking, people are going to peak when they're supposed to, from 25 to 29. It's baseball. It's fun. Besides, I'm an A's fan, if Beltre and Wilkerson aren't helping the Mariners and Rangers, I'm not exactly weeping about that. I think Wilkerson will be fine, but Beltre... I don't know what to expect, but Jonah Keri put it well in this year's edition of the annual, that he's not going to have another 2004, and should never have been expected to.

Besides, it isn't like Beltre's turned out like Josh Phelps. Let's just hope the BP cover curse doesn't get all six of the players there this year.

jgalt73 (Portland, OR): If you had minimally (maximally?) offensive filler at the end of your bench, would you ever start them to "keep them fresh?". Or, is Dusty Baker too old school for his own good (in this regard as well)?

Christina Kahrl: I'm not quite sure I understand the question, but to my way of thinking, Tom Kelly and Davey Johnson were managers I liked because they were good at putting all 25 spots on the roster to work for them. That might be harder to do if you're a team carrying a Rule 5 pick or two, but to give an active manager credit, Ned Yost even handled that well enough a couple of years ago. Basically, I admire managers who find ways to help themselves with their benches, and who manage their player's workloads in a way that keeps Will Carroll from mentioning their teams all that often. Health is a skill; mantaining health is a management skill.

Dumb question (dumbsville): If Sandy Koufax had pitched in Colorado, would he ever be talked about? Is it possible that a truly great pitcher has been pitching for the Rockies, and we just don't know it?

Christina Kahrl: It's not a dumb question at all, although your bringing up Koufax does bring to mind the necessary recognition of how many things he had in his favor--the mound, the era, the park--to help generate his fame. But even with those things, he was an extraordinary talent, and that's where the question is important: what would an extraordinary talent do if he had to start half of his games in Denver? I'm always going to have a soft spot for the great seasons that Armando Reynoso, Marvin Freeman, and even Kevin Ritz had for the Rockies, because they did some remarkable things. I'm very interested in how the careers of Jeff Francis and Jason Jennings turn out, because both would be good starters for anybody, and both seem likely to be Rockies for much of their pro careers. I think they'll succeed, but I don't know if we can be sure if anyone could have a long career pitching in Denver or not. On the surface of it, I don't see why not.

So, not a dumb question at all.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): Hey Christina! If the Majors aren't (can't) test for HGH, what good is this Mitchell investigation into the past gonna do. Won't we still have a "problem" to deal with?

Christina Kahrl: While the HGH problem is something that I'm sure they really will work on over time, let's face it, the Mitchell probe is a PR stunt, and barely worth following in itself. It isn't about what the Mitchell Posse's conclusions will be--baseball doesn't do surprises, not on Czar Bud's watch--but how it will be used. There, it seems clear that it's a double-edged weapon. First, to hit the MLBPA over the head with going into the next CBA, and second, to generate a sense within the media that the problem is being addressed.

Bill (Toronto): How many World Series banners would the Jays have hanging if they were able to keep Halladay, Carpenter and Escobar around?

Christina Kahrl: Probably none, but at least it would have been within the realm of the possible. The Yankees were something of an in-season buzzsaw for anybody else in the division, after all, and it isn't like the Red Sox are patsies.

geehal (LA): Searced the site but couldn't find the rankings. Where could I find those rankings of Berkman, et al?

Christina Kahrl: I think you'll find that it's in Nate's piece on Page 2 over on ESPN.com. Check it out, enjoy, and argue with Nate about it--it'll be fun.

JCase28 (Oakland): When will Bowden get cited for General Managing Under the Influence (GMUI)? Maybe someone should have pulled out the breathalizer prior to the Soriano deal...

Christina Kahrl: Hey, maybe it's the leather pants, for that matter. ; )

More seriously, I think we have to take Jim Bowden at his word when he said he didn't learn anything during his time with the Reds. An ossified noodle can explain all sorts of things where Bowden's concerned.

mr. met (New Jersey): Jose Valentin - Would the Mets be better off using my mother as a pinch hitter and hoping for a hit by pitch (much as I love her, Mom is quite large) than to send Mr. Valentin to the plate? Please tell me the Mets will soon send him packing (with Mr. Julio to carry his bags). At 10 and 3, I know I am nit picking, but with Betran and Floyd hurt, my confidence level has taken a sharp drop.

Christina Kahrl: To be fair, 0-for-9 spread across eight games is no way to judge a guy, but this sort of goes to my point about trying to keep your bench fresh through regular use. I worry that Willie Randolph learned everything he thinks he needs to know about managing by watching Joe Torre, and there's a huge difference between managing the best lineup in the league and adapting to the sort of tactical flexibility that managing in the National League requires. Cutting Valentin wouldn't fix the problem, because odds are, the next guy's not going to get much in the way of playing time either, and few are the players who can succeed when they don't get to play. Other than Bubba Crosby, of course.

Mike W (Chciago): On a related Rockies note, isn't it possible that they'll never be able to win in Denver? Even if they were allowed to carry 26 or 27 men, their games are so long, and it has to be so hard to find and/or train pitchers to bear up under those conditions. I agree they have never done a very good job of putting a quality team on the field, but it seems they are inevitably running uphill.

Christina Kahrl: I dislike the suggestions that the Rockies get to play with rules different from other teams, because I defy the logic that they can't adapt to their environment, and play a Rockie brand of baseball. What would 27 men do for them? Would that get them to adapt to their environment, perhaps go to a college-style rotation, and see what might actually work? No, it would just give them another pitcher, and they'd still keep using their pitchers they way everybody does, and they'd still fail the way they have in the past.

When asked about it, Dan O'Dowd has said the players will never go for it, but I think that's ducking the question. First, guys like Darren Oliver were willing to pitch for food when they rolled into town: you'll always find guys willing to do that. On the player development side, why not inculcate a Rockie way in the minors? Stick your Double-A affiliate in a bandbox, and create usage patterns that might more closely resemble those of teams in the Thirties or Forties. Focus on team pitching as a way to generate team wins, and worry about taking up the scorekeeping issues with MLB's offices at a later date.

elliotjorgensen (Davis, CA): Christina, do you have a favorite ballpark? Perhaps a favorite old school park and a favorite new ( under 10 years old) park?

Christina Kahrl: I really liked Milwaukee's County Stadium, and I love Wrigley Field (while being happily indifferent to the outcome of a Cubs game beyond baseball being played). Among the new parks, I'm pretty fond of Camden Yards, but that's without seeing Safeco, PETCO, PNC, or Philly, although I do hope to see the Pennsylvania pair this summer.

Will (Watertown, MA): Speaking of McCourt, we all know that DePo basically got the shaft for lack of a nicer phrase. When and where do you think we'll see him pop up again?

Christina Kahrl: I think he's going to have to be politically rehabilitated through a stint as somebody else's Assistant GM, a job he's very good at. It would help if the likes of Bill Plaschke got his rabies shots, of course, because people in the baseball industry tend to have tin ears.

Mitchell (Oakland): Care to predict the fixes Jocketty will make mid-season? That lineup has a lot of potential suckitude should Albert, Rolen or Edmonds miss significant time.

Christina Kahrl: A second baseman (Adam Kennedy, perhaps?) and an extra outfielder would both be pretty handy. John Rodriguez could fix that latter problem, of course, if he's allowed to be woven back into the team's outfield rotation, because too much Skip Schumaker makes the baby go blind.

rudd48 (lexington, ky): How much of a threat do you think Jim Leyland is to the future of the young Tiger pitchers? 119 pitches for Verlander last night seemed a bit excessive.

Christina Kahrl: It's a legitimate source of concern, because Leyland's gotten the bit between his teeth with certain pitchers once he believes they can do everything. He's far from the optimal choice if managing young pitchers is your only criterion, but to be fair, 119 pitches isn't the end of the world by itself. It's 119 (or 121, depending on your source) pitches in five innings that would really worry me, or ~120 pitches on a routine basis.

Raz (NYC): Had Cashman been arrested for DWI do you think the Boss would have fired him? And should GM or Nationals be fired?

Christina Kahrl: Hard to say, Raz-not-from-Iran. (Harrumph.) Cashman's a valuable front man for this team, and it isn't like Steve Phillips was fired for apparently doing a lot worse. Besides, Bowden's innocent until proven guilty, and I'd fire him for other reasons, not this. So, the guy has feet of clay. Who doesn't?

Fat, Bearded Yankees Guy (The Wilds of New Jersey): Chris, I notice you and Steven Goldman do a lot of appearances together. How does that work out? Is it like an odd couple thing? Which of you is Jack Klugman/Walter Matthau?

Christina Kahrl: Much of that was a product of propinquity: Steven lives in New Jersey, I live in DC, and that made us the point people for the Northeastern urban corridor. If there's a danger, it was to the audience if they ran out of provisions--both Mr. Goldman and I have a tendency to be a bit on the windy side of long-winded.

As far as the odd couple thing, I'm pretty clearly Felix, although equally fussy in my hopes that there's a gym nearby when I'm on the road.

Sam (Seattle): Your pick for the 2006 world series?

Christina Kahrl: I believe I'm on record for picking the Red Sox over the Mets in an act of vengeance for 1986. I'd hate to contradict myself, but I probably just did.

Southcoast (Texas): Who makes the better starting pitcher, Helmsley (SD) or Chuck James (ATL). What's your opinion of how they fare this year and next? Is D Uggla (FLA) better than we think? Thanks,

Christina Kahrl: It isn't very close. I'm a big Chuck James fan, but the Braves seem notoriously picky about their young starters, and who's to say that his young antics don't get him in trouble with baseball's ultimate straight-arrow franchise. I'd pick James, easily, even if he has to spend Year One in the pen, and moves into the rotation next year.

Dan Uggla's about what we'd expect: better than harmless, but hardly good enough to ink to a multi-year, pre-arb deal. If I'm the Fish, I'd keep hunting for a second baseman.

kmdarcy (San Juan, PR): If I'm not mistaken, you've been somewhat :) critical of personnel moves made by the Giants in recent years. If you were GM of the Giants right now, what would you do to improve the franchise? Thanks.

Christina Kahrl: Shop everything and everybody on the big league roster. Get over the infatuation with Pedro Feliz, and send him off for the first good package I can get. Peddle Moises Alou and Ray Durham, even Jason Schmidt, and try to get packages that bring you outfielders under 25 and extra pitching. Platoon Lance Niekro with Mark Sweeney, and pray that Travis Ishikawa pans out eventually. Give Matt Cain the Barry Bonds barcalounger.

All of that said, it's going to be a long, long climb. The post-Bonds Dark Age seems very close now, and it's going to be rough going for Giants fans for a few years.

dianagramr (Brooklyn): You mentioned you haven't read "Moneyball" (!) Which non-BP authored baseball book have you read lately that you would recommend?

Christina Kahrl: That's not what I said. I haven't read that Braves book. Although I've heard negative comments about the Braves book from people I respect, I'd be no better than many of the critics of "Moneyball"--who no doubt also heard negative things about Michael Lewis' book from people they respect--if I was to harsh on something I haven't read. But will keep my powder dry. ; )

I couldn't pick just one other recently-published book, but I do know that I'm very much looking forward to reading Kashatus' "September Swoon"--shame on me, I know, I should have done that already--and Gene Carney's "Burying the Black Sox."

TGisriel (Baltimore): Hi Chris: Came in late Soe O's questions 1. Is it too early (in the year)to declare Conine done? 2. Is bringing up Majewski a mistake in light of current roster construction? Can he get ABs as the left handed bat at 1B? 3. Have you ever seen such pathetic middle relief? The O's are fine if the starter can get you to Hawkins and Ray, but if you get inot the long relief it's a blowout!

Christina Kahrl: Heya Tom, always good to see you show up. To answer:
1. Not at all. Unless you're a fork collector, leave it in him and throw him over the side. He should be allowed to go to Florida to get that "Mr. Marlin" Viking funeral he earned years ago.
2. Yes, it would be. Let's say you have Markakis in one outfield corner. I'd want to take a couple of months to see what Patterson and Matos can do if you just leave them alone and play them. Plug Gibbons in at 1B on a semi-regular basis, and use him either OF corner now and again, so that you can keep Millar fresh, with an eye towards dealing him in July. Majewski can come up in August, once you've decided who to cut bait on.
3. What, we're forgetting Steve Reed so quickly? This was the team that, last year, was happy to get James Baldwin, after all.

tcfatone (NYC): Yeah, but the Rockies will never be able to sign a top level starting pitcher again (thanks to Hampton)....so how can they be expected to compete?

Christina Kahrl: But scouting to find the guys they can use, and developing their own brand of baseball, instead of trying to be like everyone else in an environment that doesn't help them do that. That means an overhaul, and the pity of it is that O'Dowd's had plenty of time to do something of the sort, but I'd suggest that instead, he's lurched from ephemeral measures to bad ideas to a failure-induced passivity.

Participle (Dangle, OK): How long until Kubel's back with the Twinkies?

Christina Kahrl: He could bop in Rochester, and I still couldn't tell you if that would get him back up next week, or in September. The organization likes him, but they seem self-consciously shy on the subject of making space for some of their kids.

Ameer (NYC): Thanks for staying on so long. After Harden, who do you think is the best pitcher in the A's rotation this year?

Christina Kahrl: Danny Haren.

hjbode (Cleveland): I assume you agree that the Indians should cease the Danny Graves rehab project and give Jason Davis a shot at the long relief role. Are you attending the Pizza Feed at the Jake?

Christina Kahrl: Amen on burying Graves and keeping Davis; indeed, I said as much in my most recent TA. ; )

Much as I would love to come see the Jake, eat some quality Midwestern pizza, see a great team play, and hopefully meet up with a good group of BP fans and critics, I suspect I won't be able to make it. But stranger things have happened, so we'll see.

Youssef (Oakland): Any chance the fish deal Cabrera this year or next? If so, could Oakland package 10 or 12 of their extra starting pitchers for him?

Christina Kahrl: We A's fans can dream, but it won't happen, and frankly, for the sake of the future of the Marlins franchise, I hope they keep him. I think that if there are 10,000 fans in Miami who want to see Cabrera play, that's the last 10,000 people you should alienate by making a deal as bad as the Castillo exchange (for example).

TGisriel (Baltimore): Would you have signed Mora for the 3 yrs $27 million he was asking? How about for the 3yrs $24 million the O's were offering?

Christina Kahrl: No way on either. The man's 34, and doesn't seem to be as durable as you'd wish in the first place. The Orioles don't even have the excuse that they're not a desirable FA destination, so they're better off finding other ways to use the money.

Michael ((GA)): Speaking of books: Have you read O'Reilly's "Baseball Hacks"? As a computer (and baseball) geek, it looks tempting, but I tend to think of BP as the canonical source of baseball stat books...

Christina Kahrl: I'd check it out, without even having read it myself. There's no penalty for reading, not even in W's America, and I'd recommend that any stathead or aspiring stathead should read as many books aimed at that market segment as possible, because you should form your own opinions. So get all of our goodies, of course--particularly "Baseball Between the Numbers"--but also check out O'Reilly, and "The Book," and Alan Schwarz's "The Numbers Game," among others.

Willie the stud (newark): Christina, hi. Is Ryan Howard this season's Justin Morneau? Are we expecting too much?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think he is, and I think you can look forward to Howard busting out to something like our projections for him.

Jessica (New York, NY): Christina, who would you rank as your favorite and least favorite announcers? Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: I know it's Chicago-centric, but my favorite color man has always been Steve Stone, for his knowledge, insight into pitching, and the generosity of spirit and consideration with which he handled Harry Caray's declining health. My least-favorite play-by-play guy would easily be Hawk Harrelson, but I generally dislike anybody who's hired to talk about baseball who so clearly prefers to talk about golf when he isn't bullying his color man. My favorite play-by-play guy? I like what little Costas we ever get.

Christina Kahrl: With that, I really should sign off an have some... well, it isn't lunch at this hour, and it isn't supper... sunch? Linner? Either way, there are games to see tonight, so life is good. Thanks again to everyone who's dropped in, and apologies to those whose questions I didn't tackle.


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