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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday May 29, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.

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Joe Sheehan covers the day's news in "Prospectus Today."

Joe Sheehan: Just filed today's column, so you can read that in a few minutes. For now, let's get to the questions.

Alex (Houston): Is Lance Berkman a future HOFer? What abour Roy Oswalt?

Joe Sheehan: Berkman needs a very long, slow decline phase, as his counting stats will make up the bulk of his case. This is the kind of season that will help him a lot, especially if he can win an MVP award. I suspect he'll need 475 homers, at least. Oswalt is tough, as pitchers below the level of "inner circle" haven't been doing well in the balloting, so he needs a lot more good seasons.

Both Berkman and Oswalt are typical in that their cases look worse because of trends in the balloting. The BBWAA has taken to defining "Hall of Famer" in a manner both more stringently (no Blyleven, 13 years for Gossage) and more liberally (Sutter, Puckett, probably Rice) than ever before. It's completely confusing.

Jericho (The Moon): Any thoughts on David Price thus far? Any projections for a big league call up?

Joe Sheehan: The nice thing, if you're the Rays, is that there's no need to push Price. You have a good MLB rotation and prospects in the pipeline ahead of him. On the other hand, as Gary Huckabay once noted, guys like Price are often as good as they're ever going to be right now, and you might as well get them to the majors. I suspect Price will be a story next spring, and in the Rays' rotation by May, pitching well from the start.

jtrichey (Indianapolis): Hi Joe, thanks for the chat. Why is Ryan Dempster pitching so well as a starter when he was not too good in relief?

Joe Sheehan: He became a groundball pitcher when he was converted to the bullpen, and he's retained that trait as a starter. That's the single biggest reason for his current success.

jason (columbus): Joe, about your 'dusty moment' unfiltered piece. You mention the idea to bring in Volquez was a terrible idea. Baker was left with Volquez and Cueto. With an offday on Monday, Cueto was slated to go on Tuesday (and, apparently, his throw day was Saturday). Would you rather Baker have brought in a position player, of which his choices were Paul Bako or whomever else was in the lineup that could pitch?

Joe Sheehan: Yeah. I would have punted the game. Maybe that's too conservative, but if you figure your chance at any point is something less than 50% with any pitcher (on the road in extras), and 5% with a position player, I would have rather paid the ~.45 of a win than risk Volquez' arm.

mattoves (DC): As an Angels fan, how worried should I be about Vlad's performance this year?

Joe Sheehan: He'll perk up a bit, especially in the BA department, but this is the other side of the mountain for Guerrero. He's physically breaking down, which will limit his performance. It will be interesting to see what the market is for him next year.

Ryan (Denver): What kind of haul could the Rockies conceivably get in return for Fuentes? Holliday or Atkins?

Joe Sheehan: Relievers tend to not draw a big price, and few teams dealing for Fuentes would be doing so for him as a closer. The Yankees could use him. Atkins is a tweener...nice to have, not so great to trade for. Holliday has a star sheen, but in his career outside of Coors, not a star. Still, the Rockies should, if they elect to move him, try and pull back a Teixeira package.

bigrick0016 (Cleveland): I thought that your boy Woolner was supposed to help us?

Joe Sheehan: Woolner no like curveball.

Matt A (Raleigh): Two months into the season, Yunel Escobar is looking like a Gold Glover with a solid bat. Is he still just playing over his head, or is he more a solid regular type with maybe a couple of all-star appearances in peak years?

Joe Sheehan: He's come down a bit after the hot start, so I want to see more. My sense remains that he's going to be stretched at shortstop, physically. He looks to me like someone with the bat for shortstop and the glove for third. How his defense plays out--and at this point, it's a hard thing to evaluate--will be the difference.

Eric J (Tulsa OK): Does Omar Vizquel make the Hall of Fame? If so, is he the worst BBWAA inductee? Assuming he gets in via the writers, of course.

Joe Sheehan: Hard to say. I don't think we have any idea what the BBWAA is thinking, collectively, and we could see some silliness as regards narrative in the next 20 years. Maybe Vizquel benefits. Since he's 102% of Dave Concepcion, and 95% of Alan Trammell, I'd say he wouldn't be worse than Sutter.

rogerlamarque (brooklyn): Over/under: Yankees 90 wins

Joe Sheehan: Over. They're at .500 with 2/3 of a roster.

cortes (tampa): gun to your head, the florida marlins will win ____ games this year. by the way le batard says 80, gammons said 87 and tim kurchin said 81

Joe Sheehan: Such fine company. 75.

mymrbig (New Orleans): Is Dioner Navarro a terrible catcher or something? I am just trying to figure out why catcher is such an organizational need for the Rays that they might think of taking Posey, who seems to be a slight overdraft at 1.1 unless he hits for more power than expected with a wood bat.

Joe Sheehan: I'm not as wired in to the draft as many, many others are. With that said, I'm with you. You don't draft need with the first pick in the draft. You draft the guy who will have the best career. That looks, from here, like Beckham.

Arnold Layne (Cambridge): The Mariners will fire the manager and GM soon...right? I mean, how do you not have a contingency for Richie Sexson considering they saw the same thing last year.

Joe Sheehan: At some point, you just leave the two guys in their seats until the season is over, then clean house. Hire a GM, let him hire a manager, and start over. The Mariners need to start over.

rogerlamarque (brooklyn): Will baseball become more like football in the respect that younger players will become overvalued and vets will be available on bargain contracts?

Joe Sheehan: The difference is in the need to pay out a certain amount of money to someone. In MLB, teams have absolute control over payroll above the minimum, so they don't have to overpay anyone. In the NFL, the rules are structured, as I understand it, to make it almost a necessity that you overcommit to rookies. It's an unintended consequence, I guess, and one driver of the owners' decision to reopen early. I'm loaded up on popcorn for this one.

Hombre X (Edge City): Be honest... do you get some small satisfaction in being "right" about things where mainstream "experts" were not? Like the Mariners' struggles this year, for instance? C'mon, admit it.

Joe Sheehan: Absolutely. By that same token, I feel awful when I make a mistake like the one about throw days, or when I don't see the 2006 Tigers coming. I probably get too much of my self-worth from my job. Next question.

Stephen (Louisville): On the heels of your post yesterday about no pitchers reaching 130 pitches lately, Zambrano threw 130 last night. His velocity was still up and he told Lou he was OK (of course) but should Piniella have lifted him and let Ascanio get the last out of the 8th? Or does Z's experience (7 years) trump his young age (27)?

Joe Sheehan: 27 isn't young. Let him rip.

Bits_of_Real_Panther (SF, CA): Joe, I am the one Red Sox fan in the universe who doesn't think Jacoby Ellsbury is a future Hall of Famer - what am I missing?

Joe Sheehan: Nothing. He doesn't have the power to be a future HoF, and he's not going to be a monster CF. He's a very good player, probably a bit like Johnny Damon. That guy doesn't go to the Hall.

Ryan (Cincinnati, OH): There is a good deal of talk by Cincy media (Hal McCoy, John Fay, Marty) that Homer Bailey has a bad attitude. And while he might, I think the bigger problem is that he does't want to deal with these crusty old men who are doing their job considerably less effectively than they should. Any insight?

Joe Sheehan: I can't really top yours.

bctowns (Chicago, IL): Joe, Is it possible that the new chat upgrade will include auto-refresh, so we don't have to waste valuable time at work waiting for the thing to reload?

Joe Sheehan: We didn't mess with your UI, just ours. I can tell you it runs more smoothly on my end, and your request is now part of the public record.

uptick (st. louis): Are you still looking for Francoeur to break out this year?

Joe Sheehan: Like a hen sitting on an egg. Francoeur is making more contact, and I just think that's eventually going to get him where he needs to be.

poludamas (Cambridge): If you were asked to make an all-star game selection process from scratch, how would you make it work?

Joe Sheehan: The current process is fine with a couple of tweaks: if the players and fans both agree on the starter, the players' second choice doesn't automatically go; stop with the 12 pitchers nonsense; stop with the "32nd player" nonsense. Instead of HFA, there's a $3 million charity pool for the game taken from...well, it doesn't matter, it's pocket change. Winner's charity gets $2MM, loser's, $1M.

dpv (TN): "too much of my self-worth from my job" you have to start reading "The New Earth", by Tolle

Joe Sheehan: I didn't say I was unhappy about it.

Goose (Chicago): I know this goes against the "rules of the rotation," but Bronson Arroyo clearly pitches better on 3 days rest. Why don't the Reds consider using him on 3 days rest every so often?

Joe Sheehan: There's not enough sample size to make that determination. However, I'd happily suggest that every team go to a four-man rotation, with exceptions for teams with young starters or special cases.

Huskies (CT): Hmmm...Rockies dealing Holliday? Do you see a conversation between the Rockies and Cards happening at all...say Rasmus and Jaime Garcia for Holliday? StL needs another big bat and perhaps the bloom is off the Rasmus rose as far as Larusa & Co. are concerned.

Joe Sheehan: Rasmus isn't going anywhere. The very best prospects in the game simply don't get traded any more. It's a good thing from an individual management team standpoint, but it makes the game slightly less interesting. It also makes it harder to deal stars; you have to take a deal like the Rangers did for Teixeira.

Stephen (Louisville): Why don't the Rays sign Bonds?

Joe Sheehan: Price. And not David.

shamah (NYC): This sentence you wrote in today's article makes no sense: The simplest response is that dead balls do not get reviewed. So a "fair" call could not be reversed, but a "foul" call could not. Care to clarify?

Joe Sheehan: There's a stray "not" in there. "A "fair" call could be reversed, but a "foul" call could not."

Matt (San Fran): How far has Khalil Greene's stock fallen? Do you see him picking his game back up?

Joe Sheehan: It seemed like he made a conscious effort to trade contact for power last year. It worked in 2007--he had basically the same value as he had in '06--but it's eating his BA this year. He'll bounce back some, but he's still basically Kevin Elster. And I liked Kevin Elster.

Justin Singer (Miami, FL): The Royals had lost 9 straight...they finally have a save opportunity...and Soria does not get it? I dont know if I even have a question? All they needed was one out...he did throw 31 pitches the night before, but 1 out? Its your best pitcher and a win is desperately needed.

Joe Sheehan: This is how the Royals' season is going: they get an inside-the-park three-run homer with two outs in the ninth to tie the game, and lose the next night's game because of it. Hillman has been pretty conservative with Soria, but yeah, maybe you could have gotten 10 pitches from him last night. Remember how quickly it all happened, though; I'm not going to kill him for not trying to get Soria warmed up and in that quickly when Soria had probably been told he had the night off.

jtrichey (Indianapolis): Joe, what do you think of Russell Martin moving to another position in the next few years? It would be dumb for the Dodgers, but would it be smart for Martin individually? He seems to be very comparable to Craig Biggio.

Joe Sheehan: Biggio couldn't catch very well, and speed was a huge part of his value. Martin is a good defensive catcher whose speed is an asset, not a defining thing. He should stay behind the plate for a long time.

SattP (Tampa): Who are your eight playoff teams now that nearly a third of the season is completed?

Joe Sheehan: Red Sox, Rays, White Sox, Angels; Mets, Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks.

dpv (TN): What were you doing when Dave Righetti threw his July 4th no-hitter? Not as interesting, do you remember Andy Hawkins' no-hitter (since redacted).

Joe Sheehan: I was 12, and about to go out, don't remember what I was heading to. I checked the score before leaving, and he was in the fifth. I grabbed and put on a Yankee sweatshirt and stood the whole rest of the game, jumping around my living room. Then I ran out to tell people, this being back when you often learned of information via other people.

Great memory.

Junker23 (Boston): The best prospects don't get traded anymore? Does the Garza-D. Young swap last offseason not count?

Joe Sheehan: No. Young was an established player with a year-plus of service time. Garza had had two MLB stints, was off prospect lists, and at that was never a top-tier guy. And that, I think, was the best prospect deal made. Who was better last year? Salty, maybe? Engel Beltre? Carlos Gomez?

mike (chicago): redsox 21-5, 11-19 braves 22-7, 6-18 cubs 22-8, 10-13. orioles 16-8, 10-18 Seems like there are a lot of teams with huge home/road splits this year. Some kind of trend or just noise?

Joe Sheehan: Probably noise. I'll reach deep for this possible explanation: teams' travel schedules appear to be as goofy as ever before. There's no real logic to them in many cases. So over time, perhaps that makes it harder to play on the road.

Stephen (Louisville): Center field for the Cubs has been a big blank all season. Who should fill it?

Joe Sheehan: Felix Pie, whose handling is a black mark on the stellar career of Lou Piniella.

Tommy (OPS, FL): There has been a lot of talk about attendance at Tropicana Field. When are you guys having a BP event at the Trop to boost attendance?

Joe Sheehan: Don't know. It's tough when you're kind of seeing someone, they go away for the summer, lose 30 pounds, gain a cup size and suddenly don't return your calls.

Brock D (Shakopee, MN): Who do you think is going to collapse first: the Cards, the Rays, or the White Sox?

Joe Sheehan: Probably the Cards, who seem to have a lot of over-their-heads OBP driving their number. And I still don't trust their starters.

rogerlamarque (brooklyn): In regards to the best prospects not getting traded anymore: you don't see a case where the uber-prospect of a large market team nets accomplished arb-eligible guys from small market team? Hanley for Beckett and Lowell type stuff?

Joe Sheehan: I don't think Hanley was that guy at that time. His stock was way, way down. I would go so far as to say that at the moment of the deal, there wasn't much difference in how he and Sanchez were regarded. Looks like we had Hanley as an Honorable Mention in the Top 50, and Sanchez just shy of that.

Randy (Ann Arbor, MI): Chipper Jones is batting .420. We are past Memorial Day now. Is it too early to get excited? (Especially since it's easy to envision a scenario where he only plays in 130 games, enough to qualify but not enough to regress.)

Joe Sheehan: Yeah, it is. He'd have to be at .410 or so in mid-August for this to get really interesting. Tony Gwynn was hitting .394 when the strike hit in 1994, and that wasn't as big a story as you'd think. Seriously, check back in August. Love the guy, but we're not there. We're not close.

Prospects (ny): I believe Maybin and A. Jones were pretty highly regarded

Joe Sheehan: There we go. #10 and "graduated, but probably top 20."

nelliefox (Anchorage): With the continuing stress on pitching staffs, the consevative use of starting pitchers do you hear of any sentiment to increase roster sizes, say by one to 26 so teams could carry more pitchers -- perhaps a win-win for management and the unions. Or would owners view the additional costs as prohibitive (although long term it might be less if pitchers were less stressed)?

Joe Sheehan: It would be bad for the game, I think, as that spot would probably be used on a pitcher, exacerbating the mismanagement of pitchers currently in place.

Hokieball (DC): I think the AS selection could have voting for pitchers too. I get the bit about not screwing with a guys schedule, but an elected pitcher doesnt HAVE TO throw or even show up for the game

Joe Sheehan: It's just a practical thing: how do you design a cheap paper ballot with pitchers?

dokomoy (LA): Would Dusty's decision have been acceptable or maybe even "correct" if the game was at the end of the season(something like 1 week or less to go) and the Reds were in contention(either tied for the lead or a game out)? As a philosophical matter when if ever is it ok to potentially overuse a pitcher like Dusty did?

Joe Sheehan: Yes. It's a continuum, which is why while I think Baker's use of Mark Prior down the stretch in 2003 was errant, it was also defensible. (His postseason usage was bad.) It's why I defend the Indians' use of a 21-year-old Jaret Wright in 1997. Everything has to be viewed through the lens of winning a championship. A May game in San Diego for a team like the 2008 Reds is far, far from a championship.

rawagman (Work in Toronto): What could JP Ricciardi do to lessen your (and not only your) general invective? He has made mistakes, but he seems to be learning on the job and has shown some ability to correct his mistakes. As long as you don't listen to his purposely misleading explanations, his recent actions have had purpose and make sense. Thanks

Joe Sheehan: You mean like when Adam Lind got 15 minutes to hold a job that he's been the Jay most qualified for since August 2006? Or when he released a player, based on 11 games, who's outhit his entire roster since he was cut?

jtrichey (Indianapolis): How about Juan Pierre's isolated power of 33? Is it safe to say that that kind of production from a left fielder is team suicide?

Joe Sheehan: Pretty much. Pierre had a one-week hit streak and has played regularly ever since, hitting .238/.304/.250 since the Dodgers left Coors Field. Anybody would be better.

dogtothedog (Toronto ): Khalil Green trade to Toronto a good fit?

Joe Sheehan: A right-handed hitter with massive OBP issues and not much speed. He certainly fits.

Lightning round.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Is Kazmir-Zambrano worst than any trade that followed?

Joe Sheehan: Young/Gonzalez for Otsuka/Eaton was worse.

pmuehlenkamp (Cincinnati): Why is Ken Griffey Jr. still batting in the three hole? He is declining so quickly and Dusty Baker is making it worse by batting him in the heart of the lineup!

Joe Sheehan: There are non-baseball issues here, and in fairness, Griffey had a good year last season. I don't know if you help matters by dropping him. It's one of those cases where the optimal lineup causes enough headaches to make it suboptimal.

jklein (Tinley park): If the Mets continue to play around .500 and are seemingly out of the race near the trade deadline do you think they'd consider trading Beltran?

Joe Sheehan: That contract (four years left at big money) isn't movable, I don't think. He'd look good in a lot of places, especially if he was willing to play right field. The Mets still have a fairly short time horizon, so that's not a deal for them to make.

Tommy (OPS,FL): I think your girl from last year is seeing Kevin Costner. He was a the Rays uniform unveiling and he's pushing the new stadium

Joe Sheehan: Always the older man with money. Life lesson here, folks.

ted (the cubicle): Shameless fantasy question: Should I be trading Smoltz now, before he returns and people realize he isn't going to be the closer of 2002-2004? Is Matt Cain a decent return?

Joe Sheehan: Even in a one-year league, I'd make that deal. Smoltz has very little upside.

Michael (Toronto): Isn't the solution to let fans vote for pitchers to make two ballots: one for AL stadiums, one for NL stadiums.

Joe Sheehan: I like it.

airjakub2 (Brooklyn): Is the CHW playoff prediction more you being a believer in them, or down on CLE/DET?

Joe Sheehan: Very down. I am not a fan of the White Sox, who should start giving up a lot more runs any day now. However, the Indians can't score and are having bullpen issues, while the Tigers just don't look like a good team. (Potential lesson from 2008: age kills.)

hisjazziness (Pittsburgh): Joe, how real is Nate McLouth's start? I'm not crazy to think he should be an All-Star starter, am I? (I know he won't be one, but he deserves it).

Joe Sheehan: I didn't vote for him (those columns next week), but he was in the mix, and I never vote for guys having three good months. The NL outfield has gone from ten deep to nothing in two years.

rogerlamarque (brooklyn): True/false: for the life of his current contract, Santana will deserve to win the Cy Young at least twice.

Joe Sheehan: True.

Joe Sheehan: Must. Drink. Tea. Thanks for all the questions, we'll do it again next month.


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