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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday April 23, 2004 2:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.

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Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Christina Kahrl: Hi everybody, it's a gorgeous day, I'm already regretting taking a pass on an offer to go see Richmond and Charlotte, so in the breach, let's talk some baseball. : )

Benjamin Flowers (University of Maryland, Baltimore County): If Jack Cust is such a valuable "free-talent" commodity, why did he clear waivers? Perhaps none of the smart GMs needed a hitter who can't field a position?

Christina Kahrl: A worthwhile question, but I think you've hit the nail on the head: the people who are most likely to identify Cust's value don't have the space on the 40-man roster, the active roster, or in their lineups for Cust. Nevertheless, I'm surprised that a team desperate for offensive help, like the Rockies, hasn't made a claim, just because it's better to try to play Cust than pretend Matt Holliday has value.

Mora's Defense (at Shortstop): As seen though traditional (and thereby flawed) defensive metrics, Mora's numbers at SS are *well* below league-average. What might be the the basis for the following conclusion? UZR, perhaps? "...[Melvin Mora] played shortstop at just below league average, so there's little reason to think he canít handle third base..." (PTP, 16 April)

Christina Kahrl: Keep in mind, I was exposed to the Giants' exercise in making Joel Youngblood and Bob Brenly play third. I think playing Mora at third is defensible, if not overly defense-minded. They need him in the lineup, third only sees a couple of plays per game, and they don't have anybody else.

JT (McKees Rocks, PA): Howdy from an old Wobbly town. What the hell does Lloyd McClendon have to do to get canned? Kill small animals on TV? If he benches Craig Wilson when Bay comes off the DL, it's tantamount to baseball malpractice.

Christina Kahrl: It's a murder-suicide pact, with Kid McClatchy, Dave Littlefield, and Lloyd in some sort of evil alliance with Japanese yakuza to punish the Steel City for contributing so much to the war effort in 1941-45. So no, I don't think even a public use of the mouse organ will get McClendon fired. Teams seem particularly reluctant to make changes, and Lloyd's extension, although inexcusable, is an example of that.

Tom Gisriel (Baltimore): Matt Riley had a rough outing Thursday night, after two strong starts previously. Is this what the O's should expect from their young starters (Riley, Ainsworth, Dubose and Bedard) as they settle in? Frankly, I think PECOTA has generally undersestimated them (especially Riley) In any case, even if they struggle, isn't this what the O's should be doing?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Tom, a good question. Yes, I'd expect bumps, but it's worth watching. As you know, young pitching is unpredictable, which is why PECOTA can be conservative. I'm inclined to agree (especially about Riley), but that's just part of what analysis is really about: interpreting data, instead of regurgitating it.

ThinkBlue (San Diego): This spring, the Dodgers new GM traded for two intriguing prospects, Antonio Perez and Cody Ross. What are the chances that either will get 100-plus major league at bats this year? If Perez supplanted Cora, would the Dodgers be giving up any offense? Thanks.

Christina Kahrl: I think we're definitely going to see Perez up, but the suggestion that he'll cost them offensively relative to Alex Cora borders on "Michael Jackson-comeback" impossibility. Perez will get those at-bats this year, Ross only if Encarnacion gets injured.

Dennis (WI): Watching the Brewers and D-Backs the past few days, I noticed the complete lack of throwing ability by Luis Gonzalez. I know this is due to a shoulder injury, but his sidearm throws from left field had nothing on them and were nowhere near accurate. He cost at least a couple runs, maybe more, over the first two games. What kind of offensive output does he need to offset his defense this year, and is he even worth having out there?

Christina Kahrl: Will Carroll did a great job of forecasting what this injury would mean for the Snakes in the field. They're now in a situation akin to what people had to confront with Don Baylor in the '70s: if he can't throw, not even left field is going to work. That said, swapping Gonzo and Richie Sexson might not really save them that many runs, so they're basically in a bad spot.

dangor (New York): Has there ever been a poorer start in history than Termel Sledge's 1-for-33? Is it contagious as all the Expos couldn't get a hit against my sister? Why did Nate Silver draft so many Expo hitters in Tout Wars?

Christina Kahrl: One thing I worried about this spring was over-anticipating an offensive boomlet with the Expos. Yes, they replaced some truly awful ballplayers, but losing Vlad was pretty significant. I remain concerned, even if I am still in a market where I have to wish for the day that I get to pay to see immortals like Peter Bergeon play.

Mike (Lexington): Do you think Michael Cuddyer is being used effectively? I know the most important thing is getting his bat in the line-up, but wouldn't the Twins be better off sticking him at 2nd everyday, and letting him spell Koskie every once in a while.

Christina Kahrl: An easy question, in that Cuddyer has fewer plate appearances than Jose Offerman, and now that Offerman is already cooling off... the Twins' commitment to an NFL-style philosophy of planned mediocrity/"competitiveness" is remarkable, and a source of inspiration for at least four other cities in the Midwest.

Mike (Lexington): Do you think Michael Cuddyer is being used effectively? I know the most important thing is getting his bat in the line-up, but wouldn't the Twins be better off sticking him at 2nd everyday, and letting him spell Koskie every once in a while.

Christina Kahrl: An easy question, in that Cuddyer has fewer plate appearances than Jose Offerman, and now that Offerman is already cooling off... the Twins' commitment to an NFL-style philosophy of planned mediocrity/"competitiveness" is remarkable, and a source of inspiration for at least four other cities in the Midwest.

phduffy (Toronto): Should Reed Johnson and/or Frank Catalanato adn/or Chris Woodward be starting on a team that thinks it can contend?

Christina Kahrl: Frankie C., sure, and Reed Johnson as his platoon mate, sure, and Chris Woodward... well, the Astros are playing Adam Everett, the Cubs A-Gonz the Newly Lesser, and the Twins Cristian Guzman. In an industry where Royce Clayton is still making top dollar, it's important to recognize that there's an awful lot of non-ARod, non-trinity, non-Renteria suckitude at shortstop.

That said, I think the Jays are only at the beginning of good things, not committed to live and die by the contributions of Chris Woodward. Frankly, I think some quality work from the non-Hallidays would be a better area for near-term improvement.

Greg Pizzo (China, Maine): Chris - what the heck is the reason the Royals have Andres Blanco up and starting at shortstop?

Christina Kahrl: The Royals wanted some quality glovework, which seems a bit of an overreaction to their pitching problems. Good play at short isn't going to keep the ball in the yard.

Benjamin Flowers (University of Maryland, Baltimore County): The Orioles' 2B situation is going to get messy when Hairston returns. What's the optimal solution?

Christina Kahrl: Make him a Snake for Chad Tracy, giving the Colangelistas a neato marketing angle for having both Hairstons, not to mention an even easier reason for them to move brother Scott in the outfield. Plus it doesn't really help them, and as I'm no fan of Arizona, I get a quickie schadenfreude contact high.

Junior (CoPad): Chris, two Tiger questions, somewhat related: What would it take them to pry Kris Benson away from the Pirates, and in light of that and the D-Meat injury, how bad does the Cody Ross trade look right now?

Christina Kahrl: The Ross deal looked bad from the get-go, but exploiting the Pirates' special blend of desperation and commitment to McClendon, and spending some pizza baron moolah to pay Benson's paychecks might make for a nifty upgrade.

Peter (San Jose): Has there ever been a lineup as unbalanced as Bonds and the Seven Stiffs? In a race that goes down to the wire, who finishes higher--SF's winning percentage or Bonds' batting average?

Christina Kahrl: The Giants might just be coming to terms with how awful they'd be if Bonds got hurt. Not quite 2003 Tigers bad, but David Green/Scot Thompson days bad, easily.

The Greg (Cleveland): Any predictions on the Angels rotation? Ortiz has been awful, and Lackey is stiking out no one. Is Shields up next? Kevin Gregg? Please don't say Aaron Sele . . . .

Christina Kahrl: It's early yet, Scioscia and Black know how to run a staff, and I wouldn't get all hasty and start making changes. That said, you have to hope they don't let Sele's paystub dictate how they address their rotation situation.

John (Birmingham, AL): Doesn't DePo have enough magic beans to go get Restovich or Morneau from Terry Ryan? And if he did, how big a boost would either give that offense?

Christina Kahrl: Sadly, no. Until the veteran help starts pitching well enough to make them shoppable, Toronto only has young talent to peddle, and that's the stuff they want to keep for the years when they will contend. Besides, as much as Morneau would be great to get, Phelps is pretty sweet, and the Delgado situation and whether or not he gets an extension still needs to be resolved.

John (Birmingham, AL): Carlos Beltran next season: Royals, Yankees, or Orioles? Or none of the above? (Houston??)

Christina Kahrl: "I see him playing near a body of water, and there's a bend in the road, and... there's a baseball team involved..." Using my Kreskin-like abilities, I'll guess Padres, re-inked, after he's acquired.

Mike (Lexington): Why is Kiko Calero at Memphis? Was 50+ Ks in 38 innings not good enough for the Cardinals? Julian Tavarez? Mike Lincoln? What is going on?

Christina Kahrl: Don't you know? Tavarez has a neat strat card against RH batters, and pitchers aren't supposed to pitch complete innings. Besides, how can you rely on a pitcher with a porn star name?

Honestly, it's just par the course. LaRussa and Duncan favor veterans and perceived certainty, and it's that sort of vision that will lead them to those 84 wins we all sort of take for granted.

Adam (San Francisco): What is going to happen with the A's 2B spot when Crosby and McLemore come back? If they bench Scutaro for Menechino or McLemore, I might have to cover my eyes during their at-bats.

Christina Kahrl: Possession is nine-tenths of the law, and in the absence of anyone with an inheritance claim on the job, it's in Menechino's power to earn it. Consider it a bit of in-season dynamics. That said, I wouldn't wince through a McLemore start against a tough right-handed pitcher now and again.

John (Birmingham, Al): Dude, "DePo", not Ricciardi. Dodgers....

Christina Kahrl: Shame on me, and quite right, John. Not that you'll ever confuse them in a police lineup, but I can get sloppy.

Bridgeport Joe (Chicago): Aaron Rowand--All Star CFer?

Christina Kahrl: Sure, why not, it's the All-Star game, and there are only a few hundred active All-Stars. A White Sock does have to go, after all.

Being named an All-Star is goofy, it's political, and it's not a description of talent. It's just one of those things, like the Gold Glove or relying on the BBWAA to handle Hall of Fame voting well--when there's no penalty for making bad choices or not taking your responsibilities seriously, you wind up with some odd-looking decisions.

dukeandduke (Chicago): Hello - I love the articles on the site and book. Question about Pitch Count. what are the ranges of acceptible pitch count for starters and the stages which you rate the stress factor from I to V on the pitcher abuse points. Do you plan on updating the pitcher abuse points for 2004 or do you only post at season's end? And lay off Dusty Baker - As a White Sox fan, I hope Cubs pitcher suffer all the abuse (via pitch count or opponents bats) for the next several years :) Thanks

Christina Kahrl: Thank you Duke, we appreciate the compliments as an outfit, and I appreciate the sentiment personally, because I know how much work people like Dave Pease and Jonah Keri and Ryan Wilkins, among others, pour into this site day-in and day-out without a lot of public acclamation.

Anyway, that well-deserved valentine aside, I think the answer is yes, you'll see all-new stat reports with next weeks's re-launch.

I can't answer a question on PAP in an informative or constructive way, but generally speaking, I think 120 pitcher makes for an acceptable line between sensible and risky, but even then, if it's 120 pitches in four innings because you're being shellacked, that's a obviously a bad idea.

El Angelo (New York, NY): Two questions unrelated: (1) Jeremy Reed--tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year? (2) What do you think the 'imminent' sale of the Expos means for their chances of keeping Cabrera and Vidro?

Christina Kahrl: 1) When do I think makes sense? Within the month. When will it happen? I'd be impressed if the Sox recognize they can compete now with the young talent in the organization.

2) Last I checked, nobody in any market has offered to pay Bud's price tag for the Expos. Bluster about their demands for a free stadium aside, I think there's an unfortunate expectation that selling the Expos is supposed to have been an investment.

Anthony (NY): Why the heck has Joe Torre been starting Ruben Sierra at DH against lefties when Tony Clark is on the roster? Thankfully, Clark just got the start against Schoeneweis...is that a sign of things to come, or will Torre continue to ignore his only lefty masher on the bench?

Christina Kahrl: Joe Torre inspires a lot of loyalty because he seems to show it. Sierra's familiar, and Clark's this new guy. And there are few things more often-ignored than a UPN pilot, or a Torre bench.

Sean (Reno): Do the Brewers have a shot at keeping Sheets for their "renaissance" in 2-3 years?

Christina Kahrl: Milwaukee, renaissance... wow, talk about dissonant concepts, and I happen to love Milwaukee. No, I think he'll walk, in part because I expect the Seligs will still own the team, and the horizons for the talent on hand aren't really that promising, even in this division. A career is a perishable thing, and if healthy, Sheets will be in a position to make crazy insane Dreifort money.

molokai (SoCal): Could you actually answer the DePo question correctly? It would seem Loney for Morneau would be a good fit as we need Morneau now and the Twins think they don't. Throw in one of many minor league pitching studs not names Jackson/Miller and we should get it done.

Christina Kahrl: And in a nutshell, that's the problem with anticipating brilliance in the front office, or letting parochial expectations generate all sort of wishcasting. DePo can't fly, and expecting him to is a wee bit on the overly hopeful side of things. The Twins might not have the sense to play him now, but they do have the sense to hold onto Morneau instead of taking what you're assuming will 'get it done.'

Smart GMs can and will do smart things. However, expecting them to commit robbery routinely, especially in a tin-eared industry hypersensitive to the view "Moneyball" presented, is just silly.

Okay, a last couple of questions, and then I should scoot...

RockieRooter (Ohio): Since Holliday's been hitting lights out and Cust has hit like Custard when he's had the chance, why are you so down on the Rox choices? Holliday can at least move in LF - something that's hard to say about Cust.

Christina Kahrl: Three games don't outweigh the meagre achievements of Holliday's career, any more than Cust's at-bat this season tells you anything beyond it was an out. Holliday's brutal afield, and has a lot to learn about hitting. He's a prospect because of the organization he's in, not because he's a prospect. At least in Cust, you might get some splashy slugging exploits which you might subsequently flip to a needy contender at the deadline.

Washington Senators (DC): Where are the Expos going to land?

Christina Kahrl: I wish it was here in the DC area, and everything would seem to favor it (demographics, people with money and no easily-reached team, a stadium, an owner), but betting on any choice beyond Montreal and a perpetuation of the game's extortion scheme would be money wasted.

Don't trust Bud. Even Pete Rose knows that. : )

anonymous (Chavez Ravine): Off the top of your head, what are the worst contracts in baseball, 1-5? (For players -- Selig don't count.)

Christina Kahrl: Erstad's deal, Dreifort's... Chan Ho Park's, Bagwell's... and Sean Casey's always an easy target. That's off the top of my head; naturally, I'm sure I've whined about others far more.

Matthew E (Toronto): Various projection systems are saying the Jays should win about 78 games this year. If this is true, after all their offseason improvements, then what's the point? If Toronto can do all kinds of smart things to improve themselves and still lose ground relative to the league, how can they ever compete with *anybody*, let alone New York and Boston?

Christina Kahrl: I guess I let history inspire hope. When the Dodgers and Yankees played their third World Series in five years in 1981, would you have guessed they'd spending the next ten years disappointing people? Is it tough? Yes. The Marlins are in a division with the Braves and their recent history, and the Phillies and their massive expenditures. Despite the title, they're still seen as underdogs. I guess I'd say there's no point in quitting, and with the enthusiasm that J.P. seems to have inspired throughout the organization, I'd liken their position now to where Pat Gillick was back then.

Bill O'Brien (Las Vegas): Hey, Chris. Thanks for doing the chat. A few questions: 1. Eric Chavez's new crazy plate discipline: real or sample size fad? He's up to 14 walks (10 Ks) through the 5th on Thursday, about double his established rate. 2. Which player currently in the minors is most likely to get called up and have a Dontrelle like impact this year? There are several tearing it up, but some players, like Morneau, look like they might get stranded. 3. Any news on when the rest of the stat reports start getting up to date? Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Christina Kahrl: Bill, I'm sorry, I meant to answer your questions, but got carried away on other topics.
1) Yes, but there's a dangerous amount of hope from me in that answer. But players grow and change over time, and I think Chavez will have an improved walk rate from here on out relative to the rest of his career. Now if only he'd hit lefties...
2) Morneau's the easy answer, but it seems unfortunately unlikely. Jesse Crain's my choice, and was when I picked an AL RoY.
3) We re-launch next week, and I believe that stats reports should be part of that package.

Christina Kahrl: Okay gang, on that happy note (the re-design is all that), I'm grateful for the questions and the time you spent here this afternoon. Have a great weekend, and catch a game; you'll be glad you did.


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