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Chat: Marc Normandin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday May 30, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Marc Normandin.

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Marc Normandin helps you set your lineups in "BP Fantasy Beat."

Marc Normandin: Hello all, good to be here. It's the first chat from the new apartment! Looks like there are already a ton of questions in the queue, so we'll get going in a second. Chat vets know the drill: obviously baseball questions, but video games, music, books, etc. are fair game as well. Let's have some fun before the games start up tonight.

Steve (NY): I have a few questions, somewhat fantasy related: Do you think Oswalt will bounce back? Will Francouer live up to his potential this year? How many innings will Kershaw pitch this year in the bigs?

Marc Normandin: I think we've reached the point with Oswalt where if this isn't something mechanical (or he's tipping his pitches) then he's just lost it. Given his track record, I have a hard time jumping ship after two months, but he hasn't been doing much to make me think otherwise lately, as I talked about in yesterday's Preview. Kershaw is supposed to throw around 25 innings per month for the Dodgers, s they try to save him for the end in case they need him then. I picked him up off of waivers in my league (sat on that waiver slot all season).

Corkedbat (Fantasy Land): How long into the season do you suggest using the PFM as a guide for transaction help/guides? Will they update the PFM again anytime soon for 2008?

Marc Normandin: Ben Murphy and I have discussed a PFM leaderboards of sorts that we would publish in article form on the site, in order to let you folks know who has been had the most value of X time period, etc. Hopefully we can get that to you soon, but we've all been a bit busy with various projects lately.

Dallas (Dallas): All right, I got a stud hitting team and need more SP. Who are some folks to think about targeting in trades? I'm shy of Sabathia and Peavy but I always like their potential. I just wonder if they'll hold up with the workloads.

Marc Normandin: Sabathia is a beast. I talked about how he changed gears in a NY Sun piece earlier this month, if you want to use that as a guide for what's been different. For those who don't feel like clicking, he didn't use his slider much, if at all, over his first few starts, and he couldn't command his fastball to save his life. He started mixing the slider back in though, and started blowing it by hitters again.

Braverton (Atlanta): Pick the suprising ATL starter ... JJ, or Campillo ??

Marc Normandin: Reyes was a legitimate prospect, so it's surprising he turned it around as quickly as he did but not *that* surprising overall. Campillo though...he was released, his last two contracts were minor league ones, and everyone thought of him as that guy who threw at people's heads in the few major league innings he had. I have Campillo on my own team, and I'm hoping the blisters don't turn out to be a long-term problem.

Rob (Bloomington, IL): In a standard 5x5 league, I've got a lot of pitchers coming off the DL soon (Smoltz, Pedro, and Peavy). I'm going to have to drop one of Jonathan Sanchez or Kevin Slowey. Which would you recommend?

Marc Normandin: I like Sanchez because of the strikeouts, and I've been advocating acquiring him for most of the season if he's available. Slowey's numbers aren't going to look as pretty when his line drive rate climbs back up towards the mean.

kj (boston): someone just droped harang in my 12 team league, I have absolutely no idea why. Should I drop oswalt, mcgowan, or grienke for him?

Marc Normandin: To continue the recent theme, drop Oswalt. Jays' defense makes McGowan look great, and I have a soft spot for Greinke, who has been pitching better as the year goes on.

JB (The Beach, NJ): Are Travis Hafner's struggles since last May just a terrible slump that he is still bound to break out of, a result of injuries than can be recovered from - or are we witnessing a remarkable breakdown from someone who was one of the great hitters just two years ago?

Marc Normandin: I think the possibility of a serious bounceback is remote, at this point. It's a shame his shoulder caused as much trouble as it did, because he was a fun hitter to watch.

Trieu (Cambridge, MA): I really like the game previews that you write (along with Caleb). Do you enjoy working on them?

Marc Normandin: Thanks! I do, it reminds me of when I used to write Prospectus Notebook, where we took something interesting that you don't normally hear a lot about regarding a team and expand on it. I don't always pick the games with the most interesting matchups, as far as Hit List rankings and records are concerned. I like to pick games featuring players or trends that have caught my attention lately, like yesterday when I wrote about the improvements in Kevin Kouzmanoff's defense. That was a game between the last two teams in the Hit List rankings, but here I am, wanting to watch it :-)

Lucas Picador (Merrymay, Pa.): Time to give up on Gorzelanny?

Marc Normandin: I have Pedro Martinez coming off of the DL soon, and thought that if Gorzelanny didn't do something worthwhile in his last start, he would get the axe. He lasted for 2 outs, and I have this thing about avoiding starters who can't make it out of the first inning. It's time to cut him.

Travis Hafner (Cleveland): Yeah, it was my shoulder...that's it. You guys are easily fooled.

Marc Normandin: MLB.com says it has been a bunch of different little things over the last few years.

Wendy (Madrid): Who's this Kershaw kid everybody talks about?

Marc Normandin: He was the best pitching prospect left in the minors, since Clay Buchholz and Joba Chamberlain were already in the majors. Kevin Goldstein ranked him #5 overall in his Top 100 this winter. He's 20 years old and based on how he did in Triple-A, is probably cable of carrying himself in the majors right now.

Braverton (Atlanta): oops. Wrong JJ, I meant Jair :) He seems to be slipping lately ... Ks and Innings per start are both dropping.

Marc Normandin: As long as he keeps the ball on the ground and out of the stands, he's going to be useful, especially with Atlanta's defense.

Nater1177 (Philly): Bartolo Colon. Unlikely to stay healthy? Back and a bad man? Good for a dozen or so above average starts? What's your expectation?

Marc Normandin: I'm intentionally keeping my expectations so low you need a shovel to find them, solely to avoid disappointment. He doesn't fit the fat man role the same way Rich Garces and David Wells used to. I need to see more fun out of my fat pitchers.

lpiklor (chicago): I started the season with some horrendous pitching and a good offense... my pitching has improved somewhat but I need to know: do I cut bait on Gorzellany? Should I keep Suppan? They're my two "weakest links" now, I believe.

Marc Normandin: Yes and yes. If you're pitching is excellent with those guys, it's going to be better afterward on a rate basis. See if you can package them together to someone who has no pitching help though. My own league cut out relievers from the equation, so pitching depth is something only 2-3 teams have thanks to the run on starters. It's sad, but Suppan and Gorzelanny's past might get someone interested in that sort of context :-)

davelamb (San Leandro): Tulowitski --- what should my expectations be?

Marc Normandin: I like Tulo, but I'm not in love with him like a lot of people. His defense is incredible, though that doesn't mean much to you if this is a fantasy question. I think the Sox did a great job exploiting many of the Rockies hitters with scouting reports in the World Series last year, and the rest of the league played copy cat to help ruin the Rox fun. This isn't to say they will never hit again, but they need to adjust to the league's adjustment to them. Tulo didn't hit on the road last year, and now he's not hitting anywhere. He's going to be great, but like a lot of young players, he needs to adjust before we can award him for greatness now.

SnakeDoctor18 (New York, NY): Is Justin Duchscherer for real?

Marc Normandin: I don't think he'll be keeping his 2.16 ERA, but the K's are solid, especially compared to his walks (3.3 K/BB for the win). I think it's entirely plausible that he'll finish in the mid 3's for ERA though, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Would you pick up Bonderman after his last start?

Marc Normandin: Probably not, but I'd pick him up if he did that again next time out. I'm very, very picky when it comes to K/BB ratio on pitchers.

Rob (Bloomington, IL): Have you started replaying the old MGS games in anticipation of MGS4 coming out on June 12th? Early reviews are starting to trickle out, and it's getting some "best game ever" type praise.

Marc Normandin: That was my plan, but I haven't been able to get around to it. I've been pretty busy with various things--moving, graduating, new job, BP projects--so I haven't sat down to play anything epic in scale lately. I have been destroying Mario Kart though (0216-1207-1842 is my Friend Code, for those who want to play) and entered the Star Soldier R tournament Hudson is hosting. I'm currently #58 in 5-minute mode, so I need to keep practicing. I less than three forced-scrolling shooters to the point where it makes my gamer girlfriend kind of upset.

Steve (Vancouver): If you were to guess, would you say the Padres are in for 3-to-5 year run of poor finishes and a lengthy rebuilding process.

Marc Normandin: 3-5 year? I'll go with two years. They have a very capable front office that can patch up the spots they don't have kids to fill.

davelamb (san leandro): What are the chances that Todd Helton can hit the pace of his PFM projection the rest of the way (.309 95/16/82). He hasn't shown much power and the Rockies have fallen down around him too.

Marc Normandin: Well, I'm not too impressed with the forecast in the first place, so I'd look elsewhere for first base help. Carlos Pena is starting to pick it up again, for those who gave up on him early. I just slotted him back into my lineup after patching it up with Casey Kotchman for a time.

Goldeye99 (Wpg): Help, I'm going crazy flipping back and forth between Mario Kart wii and GT5prologue. But I digress, on to baseball... Homer Bailey = a) green apple b) almost ripe plum c) over ripe peach d) rotten tomato e)headed for the compost bin ..anxiously waiting Disgaea 3....

Marc Normandin: Realistic racing, ptth. I'm all about Mario Kart and F-Zero, none of this realistic stuff :-)

I think the Reds are just being cautious with Bailey this time, since they rushed him up last time. I'll say he's ready, but the Reds are waiting for the right opening. They have been good about putting kids onto the roster this year, so look for him to come up sooner than later.

Also, Disgaea 3 is a must buy. I can't wait for the DS version of the original to come out too, so I can now replay it with multiplayer :-)

Edwin Jackson (TB): Have I turned the corner in my career? I am only 25, but I have kept the ball down and looked pretty solid so far this season.

Marc Normandin: You're great within the context of the Rays, since their defense makes you look better than you are. You don't strike out enough hitters to counter the copious walks, and I still fear those random outbursts of homers you tend to give up. There's still a lot of work to be done in the long run.

jphan44 (CT): is soto going to fall off a lot in teh second half? i'm thinking he is a good sell high candidate right now

Marc Normandin: My only worry with Soto is that he strikes out pretty often, meaning he *needs* to have a high BABIP in order to keep his numbers up. If he gets into a funk where the ball is not landing for a hit, he's going to have a rough patch. He's not the first guy in history to succeed with that approach though, so I'm confident he's going to be one of the top offensive catchers regardless.

YD (Philly): Dissing GT5:P?? Blasphemy. Is Smoltzie too much to give up for Votto? And if I'm hurting for hitting, does moving Kershaw for Headley make any sense?

Marc Normandin: Ah, not a diss, just not my style. For the racing sum fan, it doesn't get much better than GT. Do you have other closers, and are you in dire need of hitting? Headley's not in the majors now, and I'd wait to see just how good Kershaw is first. It may turn out giving up Smoltz isn't as big of a deal as you think, if he succeeds.

Mark (Chicago): What are your thoughts on Vernon Wells for the rest of the year? He was really having a strong few weeks before he got hurt.

Marc Normandin: I'm not a big fan of Wells, pretty much ever. He's the kind of guy I try to trade to people who don't know any better. Here are some old thoughts on him, from a profile I did back in the day.

Corkedbat (Dallas): Going to the game in Arlington tonight Rangers v. A's). Who do I yell at for not producing like they should?

Marc Normandin: Not Milton Bradley. That could end poorly.

Matt (Boston): Why don't I have a girlfriend?

Marc Normandin: Dude, you live in Boston. It's Friday night. Spend the night out, there are ladies everywhere. Me, I'll probably be at home, but I already tricked a pretty lady into thinking I'm cool.

Ioo23 (Lost ): Do you watch Lost by any chance? What did you think of the amazing season finale?

Marc Normandin: I don't watch Lost. I'll start to when it's over, if the ending doesn't make people homicidal. My girlfriend watches it though, so it was on in the background last night. All I heard from it was when the Pixies were playing in that guy's truck near the end. I hope I didn't just ruin some intricate plot involving early 90s songs and pickup trucks for those who missed last night's episode.

YD (Philly): Dave Murphy: real or fiction?

Marc Normandin: There's nothing out of the ordinary in his stat line. He's hitting .288/.332/.470, with an ISO of .181 . His .335 BABIP is a bit high with his 18.1% liner rate, but I also think he's capable of having a higher liner rate, cutting that different out a little. He's not a star or anything, but he's certainly capable of pretty solid production.

Speaking of fiction, I'm reading "Fall of Hyperion" by Dan Simmons, and it's amazing.

Gray (Chicago): Marc, Boston women are really beat, really, really beat.

Marc Normandin: I just got slammed in the queue with statements like this one. Where the hell do you guys go in Boston where all the girls look awful? I don't frequent bars often, so maybe you should start following my lead on that one :-)

YD (Philly): More value the rest of the way: Duchscherer or Kershaw? This is head-to-head, by the way.

Marc Normandin: Duke's going to throw more innings if he's healthy. If it's single-year league, I might go with Duke, just because we don't know what Kershaw will be like the second time around the NL, and he has an innings cap.

Stephanie (DC): At this point, does it make sense to take Navarro over Iannetta, given Iannetta's slump as well as the split playing time?

Marc Normandin: Navarro isn't going to hit .361 all year, but even if that drops 60 points he's still a solid producing catcher. Such an awful position for offense the last few years. Though Iannetta's power is tempting, even with the split playing time...

efeder21 (n.y.): corey patterson???

Marc Normandin: What about him?

The Dude (Big Lebowski): Who's the Walter Sobjeck of the MLB man?

Marc Normandin: I'd like to bring this question out for everyone to contribute to.

R.J. (Beyond The Boxscore): Would your guy Brian Giles be a fit in Tampa?

Marc Normandin: Hey there R.J., how's it going? Brian Giles is a great fit for anyone who needs OBP, and getting out of PETCO would help his power numbers. He's not great defensively though, so there is that.

Jack (SD): I just dealt DeRosa in a deal I had to make and am waiting on Figgins to return. Is Vazquez or Casilla a better shortterm fill in?

Marc Normandin: Vazquez has been hot lately, but I don't think that's going to last long. Ride it out if you only need him for a short time. I just had to pick up Jerry Hairston Jr. to play SS in my league, which was painful. There's another team who isn't even playing a SS right now, because it helps him keep up his rate stats by avoiding one.

Matt (Brookline): Come to the suburbs and find the sophisticated women of Boston.

Marc Normandin: That, and there's a huge college population here. You guys are looking in the wrong places.

kj (boston): I'd like to nominate julian tavarez as walter

Marc Normandin: Nomination accepted. Anyone else?

Steven Goldman (Central New Jersey (The Heartland)): Marc, as someone who will be instrumental in producing BP's 1980s book, what is your position on the music of Duran Duran?

Marc Normandin: Hey there Stevie, how's it going? Duran Duran is all right, I like my 80s rock a bit more...how do you say, Bad Religion-esque. That and thrash. I'm going to fill my portions of the book with references to Dave Mustaine and Greg Graffin.

Trieu (Cambridge, MA): Um. Are you encouraging your Boston readers to prowl for college girls?

Marc Normandin: *Legal college girls. Jeez.

I think it's Sobchak (Los Angeles): Shawn Greene is a Jewish dude with a Catholic-sounding name, but I doubt he could get me a severed toe by this afternoon. Luke Scott might pull a gun in a bowling alley. Bob Watson might be the only one around here who cares about the rules.

Marc Normandin: We've got these and whole bunch of others. John Kruk, Jeff Kent, and a vote for Nelson Figueroa as Donny.

Matt (Brookline, MA): Does Snell turn it around, like last year, or is there something more to his diminishing velocity?

Marc Normandin: The walk rates bother me. I wrote about Snell in this week's issue of Heater. His groundball rates are essentially sticking at the lower end of last year's rates, and he's walking more hitters while losing out on some strikeouts. I'd sell on him, before things get worse.

Dennis (Chicago): When will the Mariners teach Felix how to, you know, pitch? All the stuff in the world, but apparently not a clue as to how to use it.

Marc Normandin: You know, I say this every time I see him pitch. He's got a ridiculous amount of talent, but he hasn't a clue what he's doing up there. He's a great pitcher anyways, but I'd be more interested in him if he was a smart pitcher with that talent, like Pedro in his prime.

Jericho (The Moon): Any thoughts on David Price? I realize he's thrown a whopping 2 pro games, and at high A ball at that. But he is impressive and I suspect he'll move quickly.

Marc Normandin: I think we'll see him in the Rays bullpen at the end of the year if they are still in things. He's an impressive prospect, which is kind of an understatement given his track record.

lpiklor (Chicago): Re: Navarro... you said "...Navarro isn't going to hit .361 all year, but even if that drops 60 points he's still a solid producing catcher." In order for him to drop 60 poins, he have to bat, what, .240? .250? If his owners have already banked the .361, wouldn't they rather have him hit .250 for someone else?

Marc Normandin: I was talking more about being a .300/.350/.400 or so hitter from here on out, not his overall line dropping by 60 points.

Matt (Portland, OR): Will Milledge pick things up this year, or should I make a deal for Beltran?

Marc Normandin: I'd rather have Beltran regardless of him picking it up or not.

Trieu (Cambridge, MA): What's up with Zimmerman?

Marc Normandin: His BABIP is about 20 points lower than it should be, and he dropped his P/PA from 4 to 3.6. The BABIP should fix itself over time, but the drop in patience is bothersome, since it cut his walk rate in half.

Yatchisin (Santa Barbara): Did I just make a big mistake cutting Jeff Francis? And is it worth hanging on to Clay Buchholz, especially with Colon pitching well?

Marc Normandin: Francis is a good pitcher, but he's not a good fantasy option. I hope the Sox wouldn't be silly enough to keep Colon on the major league roster in favor of Buchholz, when he's ready to come back. That would just...gah. Bad Sox.

Dennis (Chicago): Sorry for multiple questions, but what is wrong with Nick Swisher? I expect the low average, but .200? And only 4 homers playing in the Cell??

Marc Normandin: He has a big BABIP problem, with a .250 rate when he should be around .350 given his liner rate. He's been hitting a lot of weak grounders too, and it's dragging his averages down. I think he'll straighten his swing out, but you might want to find someone else to fill his roster spot until then.

Patrick (MPLS): As a Carlos Pena owner, should I be concerned about the ridiculously high K-rate?

Marc Normandin: Yes, but only because it means he needs to have a very high BABIP in order to produce. I've kept him on my own roster, but the rest of my lineup is stacked so I can take the hit when balls aren't finding holes and gaps.

I'm finishing up soon folks, just a heads up.

ericturner29 (Chicago): Greatest video game of all time? Take a stand, Marc.

Marc Normandin: You have to ask me this question genre by genre. Pick a few and I'll do my best, or at least give you my personal favorites.

HeAdFiRsT (Michigan): Boof or Poof?

Marc Normandin: I had high hopes for Boof and some strikeouts, but he's been awful. It might be time to cut ties.

Dennis (LA): Jay Bruce comes up for auction next week in my fantasy league (points-based NL pool). The winner can keep his rights for the next six years. Worth breaking the bank on? And should I be concerned about Daric Barton (I already have his rights for the next six years)? Thanks!

Marc Normandin: I stashed Bruce on my roster from draft day until now, so I'm all for spending on him if you get to keep him for six years.

ericturner29 (chicago): Start with these: Old School Racing Shoot 'em up Horizontal scroll

Marc Normandin: Mario Kart for SNES was my favorite racer. Forced scrolling shooter, for horizontal is Gradius III maybe. Favorite vertical is Ikaruga.

Tommy (OPS, FL): Do you think if the Rays are in the hunt late in the season they will think to use David Price like the Yankees used Joba last year?

Marc Normandin: Yeah, definitely. It can't hurt them, and by all accounts Price is pretty developed as is.

jnelson33 (Pennsauken): With Keppinger on the DL, I was forced to pickup a backup in Barmes. Now he's on the DL and I picked up Vazquez. My OF is pretty deep (Milton Bradley, Fukudome, Bruce, Pence and Chris Young.) Would you actively shop any or all of these guys for a SS in the meantime (or longterm) or wait it out with Vazquez or a Jack Wilson or a Bobby Crosby on the waiver wire until Keppinger comes back?

Marc Normandin: Wait it out. SS isn't a deep at all, so the price of admission is too high for my tastes. I'm just floating through SS as they are hot myself.

YD (Philly): Endymion's an excellent read as well. The Hyperion books = good stuff. Christian Guzman...he can't possibly maintain this pace, can he?

Marc Normandin: That's on the list of things to read, though they aren't on my shelf yet so it will be awhile. Incredibly, there's not much out of place for Guzman. He's not walking, but he's hitting for average, his BABIP is around the league average (and not too far out of line from his line drive rate). The most impressive thing is that he's only striking out in 6.6% of his PA, giving him more opportunities to put the ball in play and get on base. I think we may see the BA/OBP/SLG drop a little, but not overly so.

Jackk (Beacon Hill): Answer me these questions three: 16 bit square/enix RPG era--best ever? When are we going to see a Boston BP event? Finally, is Schilling a. going to be back this year b. going to have anything in the tank and c. who gets bumped for him if we have five healthy starters?

Marc Normandin: Final Fantasy VI.

I'm one of the resident Boston BP'ers, so shoot me an e-mail if you want to get something going for an event. I'll see what I can do. (A) yes (B) probably not much (C) hopefully it doesn't come to that.

KenP (Little Neck, NY): For the record, the correct answer is Tetris, no contest.

Marc Normandin: Tetris isn't even my favorite puzzle game ever.

KenP (Little Neck, NY): Chrono Trigger isn't better than FFVI?

Marc Normandin: Nope. I love Chrono Trigger, but nope. The mix of JRPG + WRPG feel you get from FFVI is excellent, and Chrono Trigger is honestly much too easy, and too easy to exploit in battle.

Craig (Fayetteville, AR): Am I the last gamer on earth to find out about the Civilization series?

Marc Normandin: Yes. Yes you are. I just introduced my girlfriend to Empire Earth the other day. Civilization III is next for things she needs to learn to play.

Ali Nagib (Chicago): So of all the various polling organizations out there that tried to predict the results of the Indiana and North Carolina Democratic Primaries from a few weeks ago, the best prediction was made by....Nate Silver? Seriously, I knew you guys were good, but this is getting ridiculous. http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/05/no-im-not-chuck-todd.html

Marc Normandin: What can I say, Nate's pretty sharp.

Ali Nagib (Chicago): Also, while FFVI definitely is the best 16-bit Square game, Secret of Evermore is the funniest, because it was the first game made by Square USA.

Marc Normandin: I'll need to keep that in mind. Anyone looking to play something with that 16-bit goodness that's more recent should look to the two Golden Sun entries, made by Camelot for the Game Boy Advance. Absolutely worth it, and the two combined won't even cost you $20 to play.

Liam ((Hollywood Lanes)): Jesus is back in jail. I need another bowling partner? Do you think Ozzie Guillen is available?

Marc Normandin: Not with the White Sox winning, he isn't! By the way, based on the queue, I think Jeff Kent is our winner as Walter.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): That squid in Golden Sun takes forever to beat. You're going to make your readers even lonelier.

Marc Normandin: I hate that squid, I had to grind levels for awhile when I realized there was no way I was beating him as is.

Jericho (The Moon): Thoughts on Ian Stewart this year?

Marc Normandin: He looks like he finally exploded in the high minors, and he's been successful in his short stint in Colorado so far. He's definitely worth a flyer, especially if he has multi-positional eligibility.

Marc Normandin: That's a good place to stop, as I have to wrap up a few other things before the day gets any older. As always, thanks for showing up and hanging out this afternoon, and I hope to see you next time around. Good luck, and make sure you all go outside to enjoy the weather (especially if you happen to be single).


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