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Chat: Steven Goldman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday March 14, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Steven Goldman.

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Steven Goldman is the editor and co-author of Baseball Prospectus 2008 and It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over, now available in paperback. He's been touring the East Coast talking about the new books.

Steven Goldman: Good afternoon, pilgrims. Steve Goldman here to spend part of what is a gloriously warm afternoon in the New York/New Jersey area, a big change for me after Boston, which was like being on the inside of a dog's nose. It's quintessential "almost baseball season" weather, perfect for talking about the upcoming season. I've got my customary tea, I've got Queen's "Keep Yourself Alive" (something of a personal theme song of late) playing, and I've got my bags packed -- if you check the events page, you'll see that this Saturday I'll be in lovely Rockaway, NJ with Derek Jacques and Friend o' BP Cliff Corcoran (an integral part of the annual) for more baseball chatter, and then it's off to Washington and Philadelphia with the effervescent Jay Jaffe. With no further ado, and hands in front of groin in case Shelley Duncan comes around -- wait -- how do you type with your hands in front of your groin?

Cody Pancake (Crozet, VA): re: colorful baseball stories There are certainly many stories about Babe Ruth and Executive Club-type ladies but isn't there a famous one about Babe visiting a brothel in the St Louis area and reporters asking him about it?

Steven Goldman: Ruth was well known for visiting brothels, at least to his fellow players and the beat writers, but culturally things were a bit different again. I'm by no means an expert in this little area of our history, but prostitution was unofficially tolerated for a long time. I don't think Ruth's tastes were commonly known to the public, because the writers tended to be more discrete -- one thing we tend to forget is that travel expenses and such were paid for by the clubs for a very long time, not the newspapers. That had an effect.

My favorite Ruth story in this area, to start things off on an off-color note, was of a party he gave in a hotel suite, and at some point during the evening Ruth emerged from his room in a robe and said, "Okay... Anyone who doesn't want to _____, get out!"

This always struck me as not a bad philosophy by which to run one's life, actually.

jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): In her chat, Christina was coy about who writes which team chapters in the annual. My question is this: Does the person who writes the team summary also write the player comments for that team, or are they separate?

Steven Goldman: Depends. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Why do you ask?

Baseball Prospectus (Coffee Tables and Bookshelves Everywhere): What's the funniest player comment/line out in me this year? Some of my readers aren't going to finish with me until the All-Star Break and may want to hit the highlights.

Steven Goldman: Jack Cust, and it's Kevin Goldstein's.

fielding99 (NYC): Thank you for the chat. Congrats on the publication of BP2008, your best work ever. The NY papers say the Mets turned down Coco Crisp for Angel Pagan. That doesn't sound like it really happened, but if it did, is Omar Minaya insane?

Steven Goldman: I strongly, strongly doubt the validity of that particular rumor. Crisp isn't Tris Speaker or anything, but he's more than a fourth-fifth outfielder. He can be a regular and be a positive for someone. Pagan isn't at that level. If you can make that deal, especially given how fragile the Mets are, you practically climb through the phone to sign the papers. I strongly doubt that Minaya had that chance.

...Unless he knows something about Coco we don't. Maybe Coco is going around hotels in a bathrobe saying, "Okay, anyone who doesn't want to ____, get out!"

JimmyJack (Newcastle, WA): In your first, and very moving, article at BP (yes, I should have asked you this 4 years ago) you wrote: "There's Joe McCarthy, a manager who never ripped a player in public...until the day he did." I've always wondered who that player was. This can't be Babe Dahlgren is it?

Steven Goldman: No... It was Joe Page, future ace reliever. He had great stuff but was highly undisciplined off the field. Jerry Coleman told me he was self-destructive, a guy who couldn't let himself succeed. Later, of course, he had a couple of Cy Young-type years as the Yankees' fireman (closer would be the wrong word), but at that time he was still a starter, and failing. McCarthy was under a lot of pressure - drinking, dealing with wartime ballplayers, dealing with Larry MacPhail, who himself was a highly erratic personality due to alcohol, and something about Page just made him snap. While the team was waiting for a flight to take off (and McCarthy didn't like flying either - that was a MacPhail thing), McCarthy sat down next to Page and tore into him in front of the whole team. McCarthy resigned the next day.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Who's idea was it to put the kibosh on the Hope & faith series? I loved the Hope & Faith series.

Steven Goldman: I think that BP executive editor Joe Sheehan wanted to try something a little different this year, but I really don't know the details. The customer is king, though, so if you feel strongly about this, write in and let us know.

BillW (Brooklyn NY): This year's Mets chapter says they won't have a big lead to blow. Still not redacting that, post-Johan? And will Chavez be their fourth outfielder who plays more than their third OF? Also, wish the book tour had made it to the Borough of Ebbets...

Steven Goldman: I am not redacting that post-Santana (and I is the accurate pronoun here). The Mets don't have the depth to survive a bad cough - the players that they dealt, while far from being future greats, were their first level of replacements for guys like Moises Alou and El Duque and all the other cats you know will miss a third or more of the season. Now they have no one, and they have to pray that they have a 1927 Yankees season - IE they get through the year without having to make a single roster move. We know that doesn't happen.

"Okay... Anyone who doesn't appreciate team depth, get out!"

As for the tour, we've been to Brooklyn in the past and would be happy to go again, but we can only go where we're invited. If you want to see us anywhere in the universe that we're not already scheduled to go, head out to your local store, ask for the community relations rep, and demand your personal encounter with a BPer.

Clay (San Antonio): I'm confused about that Babe Ruth quote...I've been trying to figure out what fills in the blank. "Okay, anyone who doesn't want to eat pork ribs, get out???"

Steven Goldman: Could be, could be... If one man's barbecue is another man's polite euphemism.

Hap Goyter (Krispy, NC): The timing of your "Babe and Beau James" article was extraordinary. Did you have a tip, did you write like the wind or was it a remarkable coincidence?

Steven Goldman: Thank you. In all honesty, it just came to me. Writing the YCLIU column is always a bit of an adventure because I try to find a current events hook, but I sometimes have to go through two or three ideas before something seems to click. I had no idea that Elliot Spitzer was going to implode the next day. Just a weird coincidence.

If you haven't heard, Spitzer had to resign because he was going around hotel rooms in a bathrobe, saying... Ah, forget it.

Stewart D (C-ville): Could you tell us more of that Satchel Paige midnight flight story you referred to recently?

Steven Goldman: I've had several requests for this, so I think I'll probably do that for the next installment of the column on Monday. There is never a bad time for a Satchel Paige story.

BennyAbelard (Elgin, IL): So since you are a Harlan Ellison fan, does that mean you were the one taking a shot at Dan Simmons in the Rockies chapter of the book? I like the Hyperion books, though only the first and last are truly worth reading. The Illium/Olympus books were a lot of build up and insufficient payoff.

Steven Goldman: That was Christina, not me. She's a big fan. Thanks to my wife, who is also a fan, we have most of his books, but I've not had a chance to dig in. I think I started "Kalki" once... FWIW, Christina's take on the most recent Simmons reflected the critical reaction to that book. I was shocked to see the hardcover remaindered a couple of weeks after it came out.

George (Texas): Why do we live in a world where Dusty Baker and Ed Wade keep getting recycled and Davey Johnson and Paul DePodesta don't?

Steven Goldman: Because your manager and GM are your primary media relations guys and Baker is good at that and DePo maybe isn't (not that the LA media gave him much of a chance - at least that's how it seemed from out here, or maybe I'm just paying too much attention to Plaschke, who seemed to have his little knife out from day one. Interestingly, Wade was not regarded as the most media-savvy guy in Philly, but I think he got the job because he told the Astros what they wanted to hear, that he could turn the franchise around instantly... Davey, I think, decided he wanted to get off the merry-go-round.

P Bu (My office): "'Okay... Anyone who doesn't want to _____, get out!' This always struck me as not a bad philosophy by which to run one's life, actually." Does that go for chats? Frankly, I'm not in a position right now that would allow me to _____, so do I have to leave?

Steven Goldman: No, you're safe. The operative term above is "want to." As long as you want to, you can stay.

oira61 (San Francisco): Maybe you won't touch this one, but you're a historical guy so I'll ask anyway: Red Sox Nation seems more unbearable than ever before (Dave Roberts stole a base! We know!). But in the first 15 years of the American League, they had the drunken Royal Rooters who played the same song over and over again throughout games. Is this really the most obnoxious Red Sox fan base in history, or were the fans of 100 years ago worse?

Steven Goldman: I think Red Sox fans have every right to crow. They waited a long time to get an ownership that had two brain cells to rub together, and they've got that and so much more. Their organization is now the class of baseball.

The only thing I'm not sure is which I'd rather hear/not hear, "Tessie," or "Dirty Water." Neither is "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio."

Stewart D (C-ville ): a good Satchel quote: When asked why he took so long to amble in from the bullpen Satch said, "Why hurry into trouble?"

Steven Goldman: There are so many. I often think of one of his rules for living "The social ramble ain't restful." ...Could be he said that in rejoinder to Ruth.

goiter6 (MN): Does Baldelli even have a 20% chance of having a meaningful playing career going forward?

Steven Goldman: This is a better question for Will Carroll, though I'm not sure he could answer it with any more insight than I could given the misty outlook for anyone with mitochondrial disease. Neat things, mitochondria. They weren't initially part of us, they were a bacteria that we adopted somewhere. Who knew I would need to read me some more Richard Dawkins to figure out what's going on in Tampa? Anyway, from what little I know of these disorders, if that really is what is happening, there aren't a great many drug therapies available. I hope I'm wrong about that, as this is really a sad story. The only good thing about it, if you can call it that, is that Baldelli doesn't appear to be in mortal peril, just baseball peril.

MA (Athens, GA): So, what are PECOTA's comps for Billy Crystal? ;) (But seriously: He didn't look that bad out there, to these eyes. Are we that far away from when medical science gives us 59-60 year-old ball players?)

Steven Goldman: Luke Appling, 1950; Julio Franco, 2007; Henny Youngman, any year.

...I think we're still pretty far away from seniors ballplayers, but it's not out of the realm of possibility some decades hence. If I'm still here answering questions then, remind me that you were ahead of the curve.

jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): I ask because the in the Indians team comments, it mentions that Asdrubal Cabrera will be league-average, but his player comment says he'll be "pretty damned good." I know league average performance is not something to scoff at, but those statements still seem contradictory.

Steven Goldman: In cases where dual authors seemed to make statements that didn't quite jibe, we asked them to go into a room and duke it out until we had achieved consistency. Without taking the time out now to revisit my notes on the chapter, the examples you cite feel close enough to agreement that the editorial crew probably didn't feel that they had to arbitrate that one.

cjenks (SF): Steven I'm a big fan of your "you could look it up" series on BP. I'm getting the chance to meet Dominic DiMaggio next week, and have been researching some fun things from his career to talk about. I want to get into current players, and my question regards the comparison of DD to Ichiro: is this a good comp? It strikes me that both were excellent defensive outfielders, and although Ichiro's production volume on offense is greater they're both consistent hitters who sustained peak performance after age 30. Do you buy that?

Steven Goldman: The Little Professor was more selective at the plate than Ichiro, so I suppose you're in the same ballpark, but we're not quite talking the same model here. I'm also willing to bet that DiMaggio got lots, lots, lots of inflationary help from Fenway, and that in the same ballpark Ichiro is probably the far better player... I'd love to have you ask DiMaggio about working for Tom Yawkey, about the personalities of Joe Cronin, Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx - all of whom he played with in the early days, of Joe McCarthy, if he believes, as Birdie Tebbets alleged, that McCarthy went with Denny Galehouse in the 1948 playoff because the other starters said "pass." Man, I'm jealous.

G-MOTA (Bumpus, MA): Dude, enjoy Rockaway -- 100% box stores and mall-sprawl. Ick. There are some good Colombian restaurants in nearby Dover, for what it's worth. I'm trying to get my father to go -- I got him your Stengel book for last xmas. How were the Boston audiences? Did you get any good questions from the people of my adopted city?

Steven Goldman: You know, I always find the Boston trip a bit arduous for various reasons - there are always morning TV shows to do, and for a confirmed night owl like myself it's hard to alter my schedule so I can get up to do those and not feel wrecked the rest of the day. That said, the crowds are almost always large, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, so it's worth the fatigue. What stuck with me was two questions that weren't square on the 2008 season, but were about career choices. At two different talks that we did, different people asked questions that amounted to "I am making huge life and career choices because I want to work in baseball." This is a worthy goal, but Great Scott, don't become a writer because you want to hang out with Derek Jeter. Become a writer because you want to write. To do it for any other reason is to invite great misery upon yourself. There are easier ways to make a living, more economically reliable ways... Do what you love, and if it allows you to work in baseball, great, but chances are that it won't, so make sure that you're going to be happy no matter what. I've thought a lot about whether I answered those questions forcefully enough.

31cornucopia (NJ): How is someone assigned a team for the BP books? Is it the location of the writer, connections a writer may have with a franchise or the writer's choice of team?

Steven Goldman: A little bit of everything you mention, plus Christina and myself looking at what the major issues affecting each team are and saying, "It would be really neat to read what Nate has to say about that," or "I know that the upcoming personnel changes for that team are right up Kevin's alley." It's like casting a movie, and it's a lot of fun.

mzpejp (San Diego): Another question. Has BP ever done an analysis of how accurate the projections have been over time? Thanks

Steven Goldman: Someone asked about this in New York or Boston as well... Nate does a review of the PECOTA projections vs. the other major systems every year, but I don't know if he's done a study of how the system has progressed overall year by year. It would be neat to see. Ask him when you next see him around campus.

Forrest (Alabama): I'm a little slow with this whole babe ruth quote thing. Are you trying to say that the players Babe would have most liked to get a piece of were named manush, groh, and zimmerman?

Steven Goldman: No, no... These were mixed crowds. He wasn't making that statement in the clubhouse or anything.

There's another famous story, I think told by Joe Dugan, who roomed with the Babe, about one night where Ruth was entertaining a lady in his room. Ruth would emerge from the room, smoke a cigar, and then head back in for another bout. Eventually Dugan retired for the night, but when he woke up the next morning, there Ruth was, smoking another cigar, and all of Cuba extinguished in the ashtray.

So Babe had his fun... and died of throat cancer.

Otto (Halifax): 365 days ago Alex Gordon was the greatest thing since sliced bread. After a rough year he is now destined to be a 'good player'. Does your rookie season effect your outcome that much? What if Longoria struggles this year? Same for him?

Steven Goldman: It's way premature to write off Gordon's possibilities for growth based on what was a half-season of struggling because the Royals decided to push too hard. Sometimes a rookie season will reveal fundamental flaws on the part of a player that are unlikely to be corrected to a great degree, like extremely poor strike zone judgment or bad baserunning ability. In that case, maybe you revise your estimate downward. Gordon didn't have that type of season.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): How long before Billy Traber gets transmuted into Fuentes or Marte? You can't have a career pitching to Carlos Pena and David Ortiz in a 12 man staff, or you can, as long as your not Traber? Thanks!

Steven Goldman: It seems pretty likely he's going to make the Yankees, Tony, but how long he lasts I dunno, because if you look at his career platoon splits, he handles portsiders very well but every righty hitter who faces him is transformed into Vlad Guerrero. Traber would have to very literally be a one-out guy.

We've seen that teams can survive without a lefty spot reliever, though those teams weren't in a division with David Ortiz. I still don't think the Yankees should overpay for one of the cats you mention, but they wouldn't be a bad thing to have...

g-mo (noch): Brett Gardner has two more stolen bases today against the Reds -- any room for him on the roster? Sure seems like he'd be useful, and it isn't like he's a zero at the plate.

Steven Goldman: I'm a Gardner fan, but we have to recognize that he's a little feller with no power to speak of. That said, they could really use his skill set in the fifth outfielder line, because they currently have a deficit in the pinch-runner/defensive replacement department. As I've written elsewhere, the only reason not to select Gardner for that job, if they can find room with all of the corner types they're going to carry, is that he's a lefty, and it would be nice if the reserve OF could spell Bobby Abreu against the tougher southpaws.

I'm rooting for a Reggie Willits acquisition, but know it won't happen.

ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi Steve- As BP's resident historian, which early baseball figures would you like to see have a modicum of their fame restored? (Either because of the quality of their play or the quality of their anecdotes)

Steven Goldman: How early are we talking? One guy who I became fascinated by when writing the 1908 chapter of It Ain't Over (which I know for a fact a lot of you still haven't checked out -- go get it!) was Turkey Mike Donlin, an amazing hitter who drank too much, let his fingers wander in possibly indictable ways when around the ladies, and would periodically retire to act in Vaudeville and early Hollywood... And was an amazing hitter besides. Even Clay Davenport will tell you that translating dead ball era stats is tricky, but Donlin's translated .308/.369/.539 doesn't seem too far off to me. The reason he's not better remembered is that he never had 500 at bats two years in a row.

David (San Francisco, CA): Do you seriously believe Mark Prior can make a difference for Padres if he returns on/before June?

Steven Goldman: Do I SERIOUSLY believe it? You make it sound as if I'm out there wearing a "Believe in Mark Prior" sandwich board, whereas I don't think I've written word one on the subject. I won't be surprised either way. The odds seem against Prior having any kind of sustained comeback, but pitchers are odd creatures and these kinds of revivals are not unheard of. Now, will he make a difference? That depends on all kinds of things.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Thanks Steve. When are you going to do your Pinstriped Bible on the bullpen candidates (I bought the bullet and bought BP.com as well as the book this year so link to whatever you want). Thanks!

Steven Goldman: Everyone should be more like my new best friend Tony. And thanks for reminding me about the bullpen candidates. With the book tour, I got completely sidetracked. I'll get on that this weekend and you'll have it next week, maybe from Washington or Philadelphia. Anyone planning on coming out to Washington, Philadelphia... Rockaway, NJ? I really want to know I'm going to have lots of company in Rockaway. It's kind of a long drive from here.

oira61 (San Francisco): How did the Phillies not come up with $4.5 million for Kyle Lohse? Or, considering your answer on team depth before, the Mets? Sure, he's mediocre, but Livan Hernandez got $5 million. The $4.5 seems below market value for a 4th/5th starter.

Steven Goldman: If I accept your premise, I think the whole point is that Lohse wasn't initially pricing himself at that point, and personalities do enter into things like this -- you can never tell who got alienated over the winter. It's also possible that teams don't see him as having that much value, right or wrong.

Joe (Beantown): Thanks for having the backs of the Red Sox nation. We suffered for a long time, yet we filled the park every night. We love the game and we've had a nice couple of years. What's so obnoxious about that?

Steven Goldman: Nothing, but perhaps one should draw the line at beating up guys in Yankees caps. I actually witnessed an example of that on the streets of Boston several years ago... Years ago, my eighth grade class took a week-long trip to Virginia. Beforehand, we were cautioned about wearing our Yankees caps. "These people are still fighting the Civil War," we were told. "Don't incite them." Seriously. Some of us wore them anyway. Nothing happened. Odd that it's Boston that we should have been worried about.

dogtothedog (Toronto): If you were the Jay's who would you keep Stewart or Johnson, and if they attempt to trade Johnson what should they expect in return.

Steven Goldman: None of the above?

Stewart is better, but that's not saying much. Johnson is a decent fourth outfielder if healthy. I don't think they'll get all that much given how much "if healthy" has been part of his profile recently and his overall limitations.

Keela (East Coast): Hey Steve, are you as surprised as I am that Leo Mazzone is without a job?

Steven Goldman: Not really. If I could go on vacation for a year and keep earning my salary I would seriously consider it. There's also a point in time where hype may have a backlash. Mazzone did wonderful things for the Braves, but he also had pitchers who had shown a lot before he got to the majors. No one should have been expected to work miracles in Baltimore, but that's what he would have had to do to justify his reputation.

mrm11201 (The Upper East Side): How do you feel about the forthcoming demise of Yankee Stadium?

Steven Goldman: Strangely unaffected. It's not a comfortable place to see a ballgame, it's not a comfortable place to be behind the scenes. It's not a comfortable place to get into or out of as a fan. When I walk down those long, narrow ramps, I never know if I'm heading for the exit or the cattle kill-box. The original stadium was gutted and rebuilt in the 1970s, so the tie to the Ruth/DiMaggio/Mantle years is kind of tenuous. Finally, as architecture there's not much appealing about it. It was thrown up in a few months one winter in 1922. It was a compromise built on speed and cost, not art.

That said, I've been to a lot of ballparks and there is nothing cooler than going through the tunnel at Yankee Stadium (either to the dugout or from the concourse to the seats) and seeing that huge field and the facade and the rest. You can hear a choir singing.

Dan (NYC): Steve, the thing to remember about Lohse is that it would only be a one-year deal. How badly could you regret a one year deal?

Steven Goldman: Depends on how fast you have to eat the contract, I guess. My main point, entirely speculative, was that you don't know how badly the well was poisoned over the winter. I think that when a player like Lohse seems to have been almost blackballed for no particular reason, you have to wonder if something is happening between the lines.

Hap Goyter (Krispy, NC): What made Casey Stengel particularly suited to be a manager? What did others say that he did (or didn't) do that gave him an advantage?

Steven Goldman: Creativity, a willingness to let experience teach him, and a lack of fear in terms of being second-guessed by ownership/press/fans or simply fired. In the last it helped that he was a wealthy man after the 1930s. He didn't need the job. But the main thing was that he questioned the conventional wisdom about how to use his roster and then applied it. He wasn't content to just play the hand he was dealt -- he had to try to force more out of it. I'm not saying this just because I wrote Forging Genius about the guy, but any leader--baseball, political, military, business--could learn a lot from Casey. Being funny was the minor part of what he did. Figuring out how to get the best usage out of his players was the major part.

Word to the wise: spamming me with a question makes me less likely to take it, not more.

lpiklor (Dills): "there is nothing cooler than going through the tunnel at Yankee Stadium (either to the dugout or from the concourse to the seats) and seeing that huge field and the facade and the rest. You can hear a choir singing." That's how I feel about Wrigley Field. It's my church. Which of the old, long gone ballparks would you most like to have seen? I'm thinking Shibe Park when it was first built, myself.

Steven Goldman: For reasons relating to a project I have started and am going to get to finishing one of these days (this is one of my daily mantras), I would like to see Griffith in Washington. It had some weird features - when they built the park, the guy who owned the house behind CF wouldn't sell, so the wall cut in around his property, like an arrow pointing at home plate. The grandstand was built in stages so the roof-line didn't match, and of course the outfield was huge, very unfriendly to sluggers - though Mickey Mantle hit one ball there about nine miles out of the building.

Shibe would be interesting, too.

akiva (teaneck, nj): Do you think Lohse was blackballed because of his agent (Boras)? I recognize that Boras clients arent always blackballed, but that may have to do with the quality of the player. If say, A-Rod (only guy i can think of) was on the market, represented by Boras, people would negotiate with him b/c they know that he will go to another team and help them immensly. But a dude like Lohse, a decent 4th starter, may have been easier to blackball. Your thoughts?

Steven Goldman: I emphasize that Lohse was not blackballed, merely that what happened had the appearance of such. I don't think it was a gesture aimed specifically at Boras, but that Boras perhaps overreached and the 30 GMs individually hung up their phones. Whereas a year ago Lohse would certainly have been able to parlay his mediocrity into a zillion-dollar, multi-year contract, there was an awakening in baseball this winter and Lohse found himself on the wrong side of the pitching bubble when it burst. So maybe if you're the agent you say, "They'll come back to us when arms start falling off," and he was right... It just took awhile. There could be other things we don't know -- I'm just speculating without inside knowledge here--maybe it got around that Lohse insists on blasting polka music in the clubhouse. Now you're a GM and you have a third disincentive. "He's overpriced and under-talented, plus I gotta spend 250 days listening to "roll out the barrel? Bleep that."

Ellie Twitchell (The Great Beyond): No offense, Steve, but I don't see how you can call the connection "tenuous." It's the same playing field. Nothing historic ever happened in the grandstand until Jeff Maier showed up with his glove for the 1996 playoffs. And while we're at it, hasn't there been enough history in this version of the Stadium to satisfy you?

Steven Goldman: Actually, you're wrong about the grandstand. IIRC it was 1929 when the Yankees, who were in the habit of overselling the stadium, had a game interrupted by a sudden squall. Fans in the outfield all went running for the concourse at once. Many people were injured, one died... And yeah, I guess there's been enough history in the new park, but it's 30 years, not 80. Big difference. And I don't know if it's the same field, really. I ask myself this every time I go, if it's really accurate to stare out at right field and think to myself, "That is where Babe Ruth stood, thinking, 'Anyone who doesn't want a hot dog, get out,'" because the changes have been so radical.

But look, that's the last reason to denigrate Yankee Stadium. Take my other reasons first. It's old, it's not got modern amenities, it's horrible at moving crowds, and - and I should have said this before - it's disintegrating. Remember pieces falling off of it about five years ago? That would have started happening more and more if the Yankees had stayed.

lpiklor (Dills): I'm reading the Connie Mack book now and it makes me wish I had a time machine... but I just put a certain Casey Stengel bio into my cart on Amazon (gotta read BP '08 after Connie).

Steven Goldman: I thank you for that, and hope you enjoy it. It's a cliche to say that something is a labor of love, but that was a labor of love. I have to read the Connie Mack book myself, but first I'm going to tackle Dan "Paths of Glory" Levitt's forthcoming tome on Ed Barrow, a book that really needed to be written.

Kent (Portland, Oregon): "Ain't over"? Aren't the Giants over? How many years of suffering for us long-suffering Giants fans do you see in your crystal ball? (I'll go 4-5.)

Steven Goldman: Yeah, they're over, and deader than disco. It's going to take a little while, because the farm system also stiffed it some time ago and the undertaker is running out of ice. Perhaps the forthcoming debacle of a season will galvanize them. Not every team can be the Orioles and simply become more intransigent in their stupidity after a setback.

tddewan (Torrance, CA): Where does John Maine go from here?

Steven Goldman: Judging by the Mets' injuries, it won't be Disneyland... I really like Maine, but he gave out in the second half last year. We need to see if the Mets can pace him a bit more this year and help him sustain over the full season.

Even if Maine were never to pitch another ballgame, he would go down as one of the biggest trade steals in team history.

Bob (Providence): More wins this season / remainder of career, Colon,Mussina, Pedro?

Steven Goldman: Pedro and Pedro.

sndvl99 (Tarzana, CA): Let me speak for every living sole outside of The Bronx and Boston...WE DON'T CARE!!!! Are you listening ESPN??

Steven Goldman: Funny thing is, in New York we don't care either. I was listening to a promo for a show on WEEI in Boston one time, and this deep-voiced announcer said, "Where will the Red Sox finish this year? We don't care as long as they beat the YANKEES." You would NEVER hear that in New York. The emphasis is on winning a ring, not servicing a rivalry. It made Boston seem very, very small.

Shore (Jersey): Long-term, Hunter Pence or Chris Young (Diamondback OF, not Padre P)?

Steven Goldman: Thought I had picked this one off. Young being slightly younger, faster, Pence having been a bit over his head last year, I tend to go with the Arizona guy.

Charlie (Washington, DC): What do you think of Mike Mussina saying that he has never really worked out in the offseason and that this year he really did for the first time? What are the chances that since he's such a smart player, and his body may be in better shape than it was over the last few seasons, that he can be an effective starter?

Steven Goldman: I think there's a better chance than if we were talking about David Wells or someone like that, but Mussina's velocity has dropped off so severely that unless he really has something new and unexpected to show the batters, I worry that all his intelligence and exercise may come to naught. I'm open to being proved wrong, natch. Heck, I'd like to be proved wrong.

George (Charlotte, NC): Steven, I'm seeing the D-Backs, Dodgers, Rox, and Pads all finishing between 85 and 92 wins this year. How do you think the NL West shakes out?

Steven Goldman: There is zero reason the Dodgers can't win it if they're smart about things, only they won't be smart about things. As such, put the names in a bag and shake 'em up. Operating purely on instinct, I suspect the Pads and Rox might disappoint a bit compared to last year, while the D-Backs will show a little growth.

Have to wrap up shortly...

mfillmore (dead): Can you recommend a good book about pre-Civil War history that isn't Lincoln-centric?

Steven Goldman: You mean the immediate pre-war period? "The Road to Disunion" by William Freehling wasn't bad. For some reason not a lot else is coming to mind, but when I'm more awake I know a few others.

Brian Cashman (pile of money): A'ight, so pretend you're I -- whom do you offer for Willits?

Steven Goldman: Something from the pile of "projectable relief arms in the lower minors."

D-Mak (LA): With all the new managers around the bigs, do you think veteran managers have an advantage? (PS I don't, as I believe managers make no difference)

Steven Goldman: It's not how long you've managed, it's how smart you are. And managers do make a difference, just not to the extent that people tend to think, and not in the ways they tend to think. We've talked about this to one extent or another in all of our books, particularly Baseball Between the Numbers... (and -self-serving plug-that Casey Stengel book, too!)

D-Mak (LA): With all the new managers around the bigs, do you think veteran managers have an advantage? (PS I don't, as I believe managers make no difference)

Steven Goldman: It's not how long you've managed, it's how smart you are. And managers do make a difference, just not to the extent that people tend to think, and not in the ways they tend to think. We've talked about this to one extent or another in all of our books, particularly Baseball Between the Numbers... (and -self-serving plug-that Casey Stengel book, too!)

Tommy (OPS,FL): Do you see the Rays bringing Kenny Lofton or someone else to replace Rocco ?

Steven Goldman: I don't think they need to with Gomes around and the possibility that they could bring up someone like Justin Ruggiano or Fernando Perez. As good as Baldelli can be, I don't think this is a case where they have to react to strongly.

Dan (NYC): Steve, what are your thoughts on the development of Franklin Morales? Does he end up needing a good portion of the year in AAA? What is his ceiling? Thanks.

Steven Goldman: He's pitched well in small exposures this spring, but I worry about consistency in the short term. As with many young lefties there are control issues to sort out. His ceiling is quite high-Guru Goldstein pegged him at #13 overall on his top 100 prospect list, with great stuff. I think it's all down to command. Humidor and great defense or no, a pitcher is not going to survive at Coors by walking guys.

BL (Bozeman): Your previous comment begs the question... which bios from antiquity (let's say, pre-Shot Heard 'Round the World) NEED to be written?

Steven Goldman: Now, why would I tell you that? I might want to write some of them!

As Babe Ruth said, "Anyone who doesn't want to write, get out!" And don't insult my craft by pretending it's something you do to get free tickets.

Yes, I'm still thinking about that question. Boston, you've traumatized me. And on that note...

Steven Goldman: Friends, it is time for me to be about other missions. I've greatly enjoyed our time together and hope you feel the same. It's a pleasure to learn from you. Once again, thank you for spending part of your day with me and Baseball Prospectus. I look forward to answering more of your questions in Washington, Philadelphia, and, tomorrow at 2:00 PM in garden spot of the Garden State, ROCKAWAY, NEW JERSEY! Catch you there!


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