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Chat: Marc Normandin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday January 15, 2008 2:30 PM ET chat session with Marc Normandin.

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Marc Normandin writes Player Profiles and covers the fantasy beat for Baseball Prospectus.

Marc Normandin: Hello all! It's good to be back, as it has been a long time since I've hosted a chat. Most of you should know the deal by now--baseball questions are the obvious type, but I'm also game for music, video games, books, cartoons and whatever else, although I will admit I haven't spent much time watching television lately. Currently I'm listening to The Living End, playing Xenosaga Episode I (although not during the chat of course) and sighing for yet another delay on Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I managed to avoid the traveshamockery that was the Congressional hearings thanks to classes at least...

Travis (San Diego): Opinions on the Pads outfield? Personally, I don't see how they can expect to get more than 120 games out of either Edmonds or Giles. Who do they have to fill the holes when they get injured? Headley? DaVanon? Doesn't it make sense for the Pads to sign someone like Brad Wilkerson to add some much needed depth?

Marc Normandin: Hey there Travis. You don't think Giles will survive more than 120? Maybe my Giles-centric perception colors my thoughts.

Edmonds though, is an issue for playing time. I would love to see them go after Wilkerson on a cheap deal (that's all that exists this late in the game, right?) I do like seeing what Scott Hairston can do, but backup plans for backup plans can't hurt.

I will miss Mike Cameron out there, that's for sure. As long as I never see Brady Clark in center again, though it isn't his fault he was the closest thing to a centerfielder left on the roster.

collins (greenville nc): Marc, your piece on first basemen didn't cover Morneau. Do you expect his production to settle in at about his 2007 level?

Marc Normandin: Mostly, yes. Morneau's 2006 was not going to happen again in my mind, at least not legitimately. The conclusion for his profile reflects my current thinking.

He's a pretty good hitter with some great power, but he's not an annual MVP kind of guy. I don't really see a problem with the Twins not extending his contract if they think they can find a less expensive (and productive) alternative at that time.

Marc (San Antonio): How much do you see the acquisition of Mike Cameron and Ryan Braun's subsequent move to LF helping the Brewers?

Marc Normandin: It's going to be pretty significant I think. Braun's defensive problems were large enough that Tulowitzki could have taken home the Jackie Robinson Award with little complaint. Braun was dead last in Revised Zone Rating at third base, and was the only one to fall into the .500s. He also made only 21 plays out of the zone, which seems odd for an athletic player.

Cameron is a boost defensively even if he only plays average ball, and Hall is a fine infielder. Braun won't do as much damage in the corner, so it really depends on how everyone's bat holds up. Even without that though, this is a great move for Milwaukee.

Will (New Orleans): Marc, which of the Phillies big sticks, Utley/Rollins/Howard, is most likely to see regression this year? Do you think any will get even better? Gotta know which token philly I'll have to overdraft this year to make sure I represent...

Marc Normandin: I'd have to go with Rollins. Utley surprised me with a season that was probably in line to be better than the one before it. Howard = Adam Dunn for the most part, so his line is fine to me. The thing with Rollins is that he hit 20 triples...I'm fine with the homers--his HR/FB was actually a tad lower in 2007 than in 2006--and BABIP. 20 triples though? You'd have to think some of those will end up in outfield gloves next year, though that won't impact his performance too much from a fantasy perspective or even for the Phils. Since I had to choose one of the three though...

Carlos (Montana): Corey Patterson seems like he'd be an especially good fit for the Padres. Any idea why they don't go out and get him?

Marc Normandin: I'm not too hot on Patterson, as I stated in my last profile. He's a defensive fourth outfielder who may not bring anything offensively, and Petco isn't going to help with that issue. I guess he could work as a late solution, but the shiny stick of Wilkerson is more intriguing to me, especially since the dude can walk. That's pretty key when the ball won't go yard.

Steve (NY): Pelican: City of Echoes or The Fire in our Throats will Beckon the Thaw? Have you heard the new Tusk yet?

Marc Normandin: City of Echoes disappointed me. Please convince me I should go back to it again. The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Maw is probably one of my most played albums on my Last.fm tracker, at least during the last year or so.

I haven't heard new Tusk yet, how is it? My post-rock needs have been satisfied by Explosions in the Sky lately.

collins (greenville nc): Thanks for chatting, Marc. The rumored Mets offer for Santana is Guerra, Humber, Mulvey and Gomez, with the Twins wanting F. Martinez added. What do you think of this package, with or w/o Martinez, compared to the reported Bos and NY offers?

Marc Normandin: Thanks for coming to the chat! I don't see why anyone is trading for him if the Twins are still attempting to deal him. They probably aren't going to sign him, and then you are just going to need a big checkbook to get him after the year, and you'll have a better idea of how his future will look with another year of data.

The Mets have a ton coming off the books after 2008, and I really don't think the Yanks have the horses to make a deal that pleases the Twins unless they want to mortgage away a lot of future. Why not just wait?

bigrick0016 (Cleveland): I know this isn't your field but........... If the Pats win the Super Bowl does that make everything we learned about sportsmanship as little kids and how "cheaters never win" complete and utter bull****?

Marc Normandin: Cheaters win every year in football. It's the NFL.

Steve (North Dakota): What are your predictions for how the Astros old left side of the infield will fare in Minnesota?

Marc Normandin: I'm still making fun of the fact that they just ditched Adam Everett for nothing. I know he's a replacement level hitter, but he's also one of the best defensive shortstops we've seen in a while. He's a useful player, as long as you don't have 2-3 other offensive ciphers in your lineup at once [cough]

I think he'll be good for Minnesota, though he won't help with their offensive problems.

cjbuet (madison, wi): What kind of season do you see a (hopefully) healthy Rickie Weeks having? I hope he can build of his huge September at the plate.

Marc Normandin: Considering he had a .198 ISO and a .235 batting average, all he would have to do is bring that up about 20 points to be a great 2B option for fantasy and real-life. I'm pretty confident he can do that. and he may do a bit better than that too. In fact, since someone asked earlier who my choice for breakout player was in 2008, I'll go with Weeks. I may change my mind as the season approaches, but for now let's call a .280/.390/.500 season for Weeks, just for kicks.

Adam (MD): Marc-- So, has doing all of these profiles made a difference in how you view the game or individual players? Go meta on us, please....

Marc Normandin: It has in a lot of ways. I've changed what I look for in player development, and have learned to give certain players a second look, or maybe know when it's time to cut bait. What I really love is going back through some of the old BP issues and finding little nuggets like the 2007 comment for Corey Patterson. I think there are a lot of lessons for all of us to take away regarding baseball analysis, and the profiles help me correct (and hopefully better) my own analysis the more I work with them.

Ben F (California): Hey Marc, Thanks for the chat. What does the change of scenery mean for Dan Haren? Which is the most important factor in terms of his fantasy value, the less competitive NL, more wins with the D-backs, or worse defense behind him?

Marc Normandin: The D'backs and A's defenses were pretty much the same last year, according to Defensive Efficiency. I think the park is going to be the biggest factor (which I received a whole bunch of e-mails for after a fantasy beat piece). The difference between the AL and NL is significant on a lot of levels, but we're also talking about a pitcher going from one of the friendliest pitcher parks to arguably one of the top 3 hitter's parks in the league. That's a pretty huge difference that I think weighs more on Haren's future performance than the league switch does. It's what will make him a #2 caliber guy, or a 1A at best. Webb is still the go-to guy out there.

bigrick0016 (Cleveland): Will Travis Hafner remember that, he is in fact, Travis Hafner? Will Fausto regress? Will Borowski completely implode or just suck at normal levels? Will the Tribe not finish 2nd or 3rd in te Central?

Marc Normandin: Tune in next time; same Bat time, same Bat channel.

I think Old Hafner and New Hafner will meet about halfway. That's not a copout either. I think the Hafner = Pujols comparisons are gone thanks to his age, player type and past injuries, and now it's time for Hafner the aging DH to step in. He's not that old though, so he's probably still got some balls left to hit. All I know is that he picked a hell of a year to fall apart when I managed to get both him and Berkman on my team...

Adam (MD): By the way, I'm seeing an interesting split between the BP staff and the Red Sox FO that I wouldn't have expected, regarding Santana. BP comments have generally run along the lines of what you said==one year of Santana isn't worth that much. Red Sox, on the other hand, have broken from the "no pitcher for more than 3-4 years" mantra and said Santana is the one that is worth the risk.

Marc Normandin: I sort of hate being a Red Sox fan. The country hates us for this Red Sox Nation thing, and the Red Sox FO loves to both awe me with brilliance and drive me insane with things like the Santana offers. To calm myself, I assume they were just throwing out offers to keep the Yanks from getting Santana, and if anything they will enter the bidding with everyone else after 2008, or hope for more of a buyer's market come the trade deadline in July.

I don't think it's possible for them to have all lost their common sense at the same time, so let's assume they are saying A and thinking B.

sbaxamusa (Cambridge, MA): Marc, my son is 3 months old. How old will he be when the A's compete for the AL West pennant? Also, have you told the readers about the time I destroyed you in fantasy baseball?

Marc Normandin: Hey Sal! I hope you have some recent A's games on TiVo or something so you can trick your child into thinking they are successful in 2008. No worries though, I love what they have done to rebuild the farm system, and they are going to be back in this thing sooner than later as long as they stick with it.

I don't remember being destroyed in fantasy baseball, but that could be selective memory. Was that the year I went way over my head with joining leagues?

DanBudreika (Haymarket, VA): What's your take on Robbie Cano? It looks like you nailed his player profile for the first half of 2007. What happened in the second half?

Marc Normandin: I think Cano adjusted to the changes pitchers made in their approach to him. They were getting him to weakly pop out and ground out on inside pitches he couldn't turn on fast enough, but he seems to have rebounded from that and fixed his season line nicely. I still think he's a really good second baseman, but the future Hall of Famer stuff needed to be swept away, and at least nationally 2007 seemed to take care of some of those "Cano = Carew" comps.

Mike (Utica,NY): Thoughts on Colby Rasmus next year. He hit .275 but if you throw out June and July when he was ill then your talking about a kid who had a .340 average in AA. Could you see him becoming a better all around player than Jay Bruce and a 8-10 time AS in center.

Marc Normandin: I really like Rasmus, though I'm not sure if he's going to be as good as I think Bruce will be. I'm also developing an irrational interest in Bruce's career though, after some of the work I've done this winter so far.

Tim (DC): Talk to me about the Nats new outfield. What do you expect out of Milledge/Dukes/Kearns assuming injuries or off-field stuff (BIG assumption) don't get in the way?

Marc Normandin: Assuming no injuries? I think Kearns will rebound a bit, especially moving to a park that is supposed to be more neutral. He probably won't be as good as he was in Cincy though. I'm not sure how Dukes is going to do in the majors yet, though he should probably improve since he'll have some more big league experience. I really like Lastings Milledge, and I think this is another trade that is going to sting Mets' fans for awhile. He could be the star for them in 2008 out there.

Eric J (Norman OK): Speaking of Pujols, were his massive home-road splits last year a fluke, and if so, can we expect a bounceback to his normal production level?

Marc Normandin: For those who haven't seen the splits, Pujols hit .294/.399/.487 at home and .343/.427/.646 on the road, a pretty big difference. That split didn't exist last year, but the new St. Louis park is also murder on homers. I think it may have just caught up to him more this year than in 2006. I think his numbers should improve as long as he doesn't have another early season issue, but we may not see his H/R numbers look identical as long as he's playing his home games there.

Matt (SF, CA): When you do expect things to click for the Rays? Do they have what it takes to grab a pennant?

Marc Normandin: Despite being a Sox fan, I'd love to see the Rays grab the division. I don't think 2008 is going to be the year for that, but with the Sox trying to blend veterans with youths and the Yankees trying to cut costs to make building a perennial winner easier, they might be able to sneak it in if everyone starts peaking together. 2006 could happen again for the Sox easily, especially if Lowell collapses, they can't replace Manny's bat and Ortiz starts to show his age and size. That would open up the top of the division for the Rays, who should be better each year from here on out for a bit.

And of course, anything can happen in the playoffs once they get there. I have faith that they have the talent to see it sooner than later.

BillJ (New Mexico): Speaking of change of scenery, who looks better after yesterday's deal, Scott Rolen or Troy Glaus? Or is the answer so health-dependent that we don't know until somebody gets hurt? (Any chance of a joint profile on both of these guys?)

Marc Normandin: A joint profile, eh? I was going to cover them in a BP Fantasy Beat piece tomorrow, a third base review, but we'll see what happens down the line.

Rolen should see his numbers improve in the homer-rific Rogers Centre, and Glaus will see his go the other way thanks to St. Louis' homer reduction. It does depend on who gets on the field the most though.

neilmak (Skokie, Illinois): The White Sox need (more) speed. Jerry Owens made a major leap forward in offensive productivity in 2007. He in fact was one of MLB's top base stealers in total and percentage. Yet, Kenny Williams and the Sox just seem to ignore him and are pooling him with other non starters/players competing for just a roster spot! What in your opinion are Owens' prospects this season, for both fantasy players as will as the Sox? Thanks, Neilmak, Mark Stearns Skokie, Illinois

Marc Normandin: I'm not sure Owens is going to do much more than run fast, honestly. Looking at Kevin Goldstein's Top 11 Prospects for the White Sox, he has Owens on the "Just Missed" list behind a few others who are themselves behind two "One-Star" level prospects. That doesn't strike me as someone who should be fighting for a starting job.

I think if he proves me wrong, you should snag him for his steals, but it's probably not worth the pick until he shows you what he's really capable of.

Joe (DC): Which Mets trade is going to sting the most? a)Zambrano-Kazmir b)Church/Schneider-Milledge c)Gomez/FMart/Guerra/Humber-Santana

Marc Normandin: All this, and Steve Phillips doesn't even work there anymore.

Travis (San Diego): Which Upton brother will be better over the next five years - Justin or B.J.?

Marc Normandin: I think B.J. has the head start, but Justin is going to be the better player once he adjusts to the majors. I like power hitters more than guys who need to rely on their average, though there's certainly nothing wrong with the elder Upton.

Swingingbunts (NY): Kevin Goldstein is really high on Adam Jones, what's your opinion? What do you think his production will look like this year? Would a trade to Baltimore help or hurt him?

Marc Normandin: If Kevin is high on Jones, then I should probably hitch a ride on that bandwagon. Doing the profiles has taught me to be more patient with the younguns when they struggle in the majors, so I patiently await Mr. Jones offensive outburst.

dogtothedog (Chicago): what kind of year do you see shawn marcum having?

Marc Normandin: I think we'll see Marcum drop a bit further back to where he's supposed to be production wise, towards the back of the rotation. He doesn't strike out a ton of hitters, and those homer rates scare me while he's in Toronto. His BABIP should have been about 20 points higher, too.

RJ (Beyond the Boxscore): Where would the Rays middle infield rank right now in the AL East?

Marc Normandin: Hey there R.J., thanks for stopping by. Gosh, the AL East middle infields stink. I didn't realize it until now. Boston has half of a good MI in Pedroia, and Baltimore the same with Brian Roberts. Aaron Hill is no great shakes, so assuming that Bartlett hits average for his position while fielding a fine shortstop and Iwamura does the same, they are probably second best. That's kind of scary, no offense.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): It seems as though Hunter Pence was playing a bit over his head from both a stathead and scouting perspective in '07. How do you see him faring in '08?

Marc Normandin: I don't think he'll be hitting .322 again, but I'm all for a centerfielder hitting .290/.340/.490. In leagues where outfield positions are individual, he's one to grab.

Jack (Chicago): Are you a Geovanny Soto believer? Mixed reviews...but seeing him live, he hits the ball hard and it sounds different coming off the bat than your normal player.

Marc Normandin: I'm a fan. It will be fun to see what he does with a full season of at-bats. He's one of the top catchers out there if he does what I think he will, after the Big Names out front of course.

This is random, but I'd just like to state how upset I am that Tim Raines received so few votes in the Hall of Fame balloting while Jim Rice draws closer to election by the year. I really enjoyed researching the Hall of Fame and players who didn't quite make it a few years ago as I put together the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame (so sorely in need of an update), and Rice is more in line with those second level of guys than Hall of Famers. I really don't know how to react when he gets elected next year. Ignoring Cooperstown seems silly, but letting guys who clearly aren't Hall of Famers in isn't sane either.

jaymoff (Salem, OR): Does Brandon Wood make the Big Club out of ST? If so, in what capacity will he play? If not, is he destined to become a AAAA player?

Marc Normandin: I'm not much of a Brandon Wood fan, and haven't been for a while. I don't think he's going to flame out like Dallas MacPherson seems to have thanks to the strikeouts, but he's not going to be a star by any means. I don't think he's destined for Quad-A status if he doesn't make the club, but slightly above-average ballplayer fits. There's nothing to be ashamed of in that.

ZTurgeon (Land of Milk and Honey): Dear Marc, why are you so Awesome. Can you quantify your Awesomeness, or is it like trying to capture time in a bottle?

Marc Normandin: I'm as awesome as Jim Rice was feared in his day! Wait...

ChuckR (Addison, IL): You mean 'Red Sox' fan. The 'Sox' are in Chicago. Joe listed his breakout candidates recently, do you have any?

Marc Normandin: I'm sorry, I can't hear you from the bottom of the division. You'll have to speak up ;-)

I'm still putting my list together really. I'll be sure to have it ready for a future chat, or in fantasy/profile form.

Matt (SF, CA): How do you go about choosing your players for the profiles?

Marc Normandin: I end up thinking about the players far in advance usually, at least in season. This winter was tough because I wanted to cover free agents, but in case everyone missed it, this class sucked. I sift through lists of players, or check out who has been especially hot or cold as of late or for the season. BABIP plays a big part, as does the batted-ball data. Guys with a story beat those without, no matter how good someone may be. I went with Corey Patterson over Mike Cameron this past week for just that reason, since Patterson was a former #1 prospect who never got much better than that.

Tyler (Nashville): How does Towles stack up against the second tier catchers?

Marc Normandin: Lightning round time. Towles stacks up almost as well as Soto, but not quite. You guys will see what I mean in the annual.

Gray (Chicago): Jim Rice is one more reason to hate the ever present East Coast bias. He wasn't even as good as Andre Dawson.

Marc Normandin: I feel like every time I convince my dad that Rice isn't a Hall of Famer, some local writer messes up all of my hard work with a newspaper article.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): Dayton Moore or Andy Friedman, which GM would you put more stock in? How much do you think Andy has learned with Hunsicker working along with him?

Marc Normandin: I think they have both done very well with their unique situations. Tampa has a strong team in their FO, and I'm excited to see how their efforts work out for them. You don't hear as much about the inner workings of the Royals, and though I know Moore isn't going it alone, he doesn't have a Hunsicker to help him out, so he's handicapped in this "contest".

Ed (Chicago): Marc - Between your work at BP, HEATER magazine, the Graphical Player book, and other places online, you seem to have successfully walked the line between being a "fantasy baseball" analyst and a "real baseball" analyst, where most writers get tagged as one or the other. What's it like to play both sides?

Marc Normandin: Thanks Ed, glad to see someone is checking out those other projects as well! Trying to do both has been a lot of fun really. I do my best to blend the real baseball analysis into fantasy analysis to show that you don't need two entirely different mindsets all the time, but there are still some differences. I hope I don't have to choose one hat or the other any time soon, as the thoughts from both sides just give me that much more baseball to think about.

Marty (Charleston, SC): What do you make of James Loney? He was great in the majors last year, but his AAA numbers were pretty lackluster. Was he playing over his head for the Dodgers, or did he just have a case of "big-league-itis," a la Hanley Ramirez?

Marc Normandin: I really like Loney, though his lofty BABIP makes me think we'll see his batting average dip. He hit homers on 14% of his flyballs last year, which seems sustainable. As long as he can keep putting them out of the park, I don't have any issues thinking of him as a pretty good first base option.

ZTurgeon (Land of Milk and Honey): With all the talk of Mike Cameron in this Chat, what do you think of his $7M contract. With a Garenteed 25 missed games, do you think he was over/under paid for his talent, or did they hit the nail on the head dispite the suspension?

Marc Normandin: I think it was a steal for the Brewers because of the shuffling they get to do defensively, even though he'll miss 25 games. It stinks for the Brewers that they won't have him around in April, but they may find some other useful pieces on the roster filling in for him during that time frame. Even with the reduction, they're improving by a few wins.

Marty (Charleston, SC): What do you expect out of Brian McCann in 2008 in beyond? Will he ever return to being the masher he was in 2006, or is 2007 more in line with what we should expect from him?

Marc Normandin: 2006 may be a stretch, but 2007 is the low-end projection out of me. He's still one of the best catchers in the league, and if Mauer's health troubles persist, there will be less competition for that spot soon enough.

Clay (St. Louis): Jason Bay was a budding star in 2005 and 2006, but took a huge step back in 2007. What is his outlook this season? Possible sleeper?

Marc Normandin: I'm not too confident about Bay, unless the reason for his decline was more related to his knee problems than I have credited in the past. He's a really late sleeper, in the sense that you wouldn't be overly embarassed drafting a former legitimate All-Star to see if he has one last go-around in the tank. I remember my profile being pretty pessimistic though, and I haven't shifted from that much.

doc (montreal): hi marc, thanks for the chat - i really enjoy reading your work. long term, how do you rank order buchholz, chamberlain, gallardo, hughes, and lincecum?

Marc Normandin: Thanks doc, much appreciated. Long term, I'll go Chamberlain, Gallardo, Bucholz, Lincecum, Hughes, but the differences between them are pretty slim. I do think Chamberlain/Gallardo will be the two best, but the rest could easily match them for a long time, forgetting about injuries for a minute.

raygu1 (burlington, nj): What do you expect out of Mark Reynolds in 2008?

Marc Normandin: I think Reynolds is capable of having some years where he hits for a ton of power and manages to keep his average up high enough to be productive, and others where he strikes out so much that a lower BABIP figure will crush his value. Considering he had a .386 BABIP in 2007, 2008 might be the first we see of the latter if he can't adjust to MLB pitchers faster. 2007 looks pretty flukey to me, considering that figure.

Marc Normandin: I hate to leave after not being here for a while, but it's time to finish this off. I'll catch you guys later when we are that much closer to some live baseball and some early starts we can complain about. As always, thanks for stopping by.


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