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Chat: Caleb Peiffer

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday August 29, 2008 12:00 PM ET chat session with Caleb Peiffer.

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Caleb Peiffer sets the stage each day in "Prospectus Preview."

Caleb Peiffer: Hi, folks. Been a long time since my last chat, so let's get started. Thanks for stopping by.

paulbellows (Calgary): If there was no draft the top 15 players in the country would be signed by ___ teams.

Caleb Peiffer: In Joe Sheehan's chat a couple of weeks back, he was asked whether he thought the richest 3-5 teams would sign the top 20-30 amateur prospects in a world with no draft. His response was:

"It won't happen. It doesn't happen in the free-for-all of international signings, and it doesn't happen in MLB, so it won't happen for US amateurs.

The argument is IDENTICAL to what it was said would happen when MLB players got free agency. That seems to have worked out."

I just asked Kevin Goldstein for his answer to this question, and he said his gut told him it would be 10-12 teams. He also asked a team executive, who responded with 10-13. In the absence of a draft, scouts would take on a role of even greater importance, and teams would probably have an advantage signing players in their own backyard, at least for high school talent. According to Goldstein, the prices for the top talent would be very high--he says Alvarez would get about 20 million on the open market--so the Yankees or Red Sox wouldn't be able to go on a signing spree and grab all of them.

It's a great question, and really interesting to think about. For further reading, if anybody missed it, check out Sheehan's column on the draft from several weeks back: http://baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=7937

Shane (Miami): Caleb, For those looking to ask questions, what's your familiarity with minor leaguers and do you also answer questions on prospects?

Caleb Peiffer: I can answer, but not very well, just based off a perusal of their statistical record--you're better off waiting for Goldstein's next chat to ask him your prospect questions.

Gray (Chicago): That grand slam last night by ARam was ridiculous...anyway, prospect question...who is this Derek Holland kid and how good is he?

Caleb Peiffer: Well I don't know much about him, but he's having a fantastic season. This is what Goldstein wrote about him back in early July (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=7744):

"All but buried in a rotation that includes top prospect Neftali Feliz and 2007 top pick Blake Beaven, six-foot-five lefty Derek Holland is making a name for himself with a 2.64 ERA in 15 starts, and generating the scouting buzz to match. Southpaws who can touch 95 mph are a rare commodity, and Holland has done that this year, although his heat usually sits in the low 90s; he's missing bats with both his heater and a plus changeup. His slider is average, and there are some concerns about him throwing across his body, but his size and the two plus offerings have him on a lot of people’s radar these days."

Since then, he's been promoted from the Midwest League to the Cal League, where he put up a 3.19 ERA and 37/5 K/BB ratio in 5 starts, and then up again to Double-A Frisco, where in 4 starts he's given up 4 runs with a 29/6 K/BB. On the season he's also allowed only 2 homers in 160 innings. Overall, about as impressive a season as you're going to find from a 21-year-old pitching in the Texas chain of hitter's parks.

doughowgate (Boston): Recent start in Toronto notwithstanding, is Jon Lester as good as he's pitched this year?

Caleb Peiffer: I think the big question with Lester is whether or not his step forward in G/F ratio is sustainable. If you take a look at his pre-season PECOTA card (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/pecota/lestejo01.php), he's way down in the bottom 20% of pitchers in G/F--a flyball pitcher. Last year his ratio was 0.77, the year before that 1.03. This year it's up to 1.43, and he's gotten 23 ground-ball double plays already, which has obviously been huge because his WHIP (1.30) isn't fantastic. With all those grounders he's also cut his homer rate by a huge amount. Given that he's 24 I certainly wouldn't bet against this being the start of a really great career.

steve (nebraska): dude, who are you? where did you come from? what do i ask you?

Caleb Peiffer: Mets fan from Long Island who is really mourning the impending destruction of Shea Stadium.

PhilliesPhan (uhohland): Our pen was great, but my Phillies have given up 9 runs in the last two 8th innings combined. What gives?

Caleb Peiffer: Two nights ago, it seems to me that Manuel made a huge mistake by not bringing in Lidge to pitch to Delgado, who had TWO HOMERS IN SIX AT-BATS against Seanez for his career. I mean, small sample and all, and Delgado had homered off Lidge as well, but it has to be hard to take getting beaten with your sixth best reliever. I would have started the eight with Lidge, probably, given that the heart of the order was up, but I realize that managers almost never think this way.

The Phillies pen has been great but pitching somewhat over its head, I think. Romero's had a second consecutive crazy season, in that he's walking a million guys again but not paying for it. Baseball Reference had an interesting take on this a while back: http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/archives/703

You can thank the difference between Lidge and Wagner for the reason why the Phillies aren't further back right now...Lidge is still yet to blow a save, while Wagner's blown seven, including I think four of two or more runs.

Tim (Sonoma, CA): Do you see any viable solution to the bullpen situation for the Mets? Guessing they're happy that the Phillies bullpen might be tiring a little bit down the stretch...

Caleb Peiffer: I think Al Reyes could really help them. Unless I've missed the fact that he's hurt, or something, they should have him up by September 1. The problem with the Mets pen is that it's composed almost entirely of guys that are options against only one side of the plate: Smith, Schoeneweis, Feliciano, Heilman.

Gray (Chicago): 6 weeks later, was the Cubs pickup of Harden as good if not better than CC Sabathia? Will only the playoff results determine this?

Caleb Peiffer: It is remarkable how well each pitcher has done. In terms of SNLVAR, Sabathia's at 3.7 in 10 starts for the Brewers, and Harden at 2.4 in eight, so Sabathia has the edge. Here's a question: if Sabathia keeps going at his current pace, and the Brewers win the wild card, or even the division, does he get Cy Young/MVP consideration? It's amazing the parallel that can be drawn to Rick Sutcliffe, who was traded from the Indians to the Cubs midway through 1984 and won the Cy after going 16-1 with his new team. It's not going to happen this year, in all likelihood, but it is fun to think that Sabathia could possibly repeat that.

CornChipChiliPie (7-11): What is the best 7-11 fast food item?

Caleb Peiffer: Gotta be the CornChipChiliPie from the 7-11 on Mt. Auburn.

JohnHCh (Woodside): Mourning Shea? Let's face it, it has its charms (I think it is more enjoyable to go to a game there thanYankee Stadium, mostly because the bright blue goes better with a diamond than navy does, but also because of Yankee fans), but it is still a bit of an eyesore. Although maybe it's the surround parking lot/junk garages that help make it an eyesore.

Caleb Peiffer: True, but that's why I love it. The concrete monstrosity factor, the standing water, the terrible food, the fights in the upper deck--that's what makes it so great. And the fact that you can (almost) always get a seat in the upper deck with great sight lines. I don't understand why teams want to lower the seating capacities--I mean I do understand in terms of economics, but it just seems wrong to me. Then you can't have that feeling of 55,000 fans just going crazy. But having said that the new park will be great, I'm sure. I heard they are going to leave an imprint of home plate and the bases of Shea in the parking lot, which is cool.

Quentin (Chicago): Is this a great year for Chicago or what? Obama will be president, the Cubs win the World Series. The other half of the city can celebrate the Sox making it to the first round of the playoffs. The Bulls get the first pick. Packers trade Favre... (yeah, I'm ignoring everything else about the Bulls & Bears seasons) And we're going to get the Olympics. Chicago... Best. City. Ever.

Caleb Peiffer: Watch out for the Little Piranhas...

FS (LV): Caleb what's your take on the Alvarez fiasco, and how do you think it will turn out?

Caleb Peiffer: I tend to side with Sheehan against the main ruling power of MLB, but I really have no idea how it will turn out. Stay tuned for updates on the site from Goldstein, who is doing a great job covering the situation.

dianagramr (NYC): Who slipped the fountain of youth elixir into Carlos Delgado's Gatorade?

Caleb Peiffer: It's remarkable...since that game against the Yankees where he drove in nine, he's at .310/.402/.648 in 249 plate appearances. I was really down on Delgado being an impact player again before this season, and was throwing rocks at his empty bandwagon in the first couple of months, so I didn't see this turnaround coming at all. On the Mets broadcasts they have made the point that he has taken the ball the other way a lot more, hitting to the opposite field, which has helped key his run. Tim Kurkjian also said on ESPN.com the other day that scouts have told him that Delgado made an adjustment to be able to catch up to fastballs up in the zone again.

Tie Twist (Brampton): What would you predict the slash stats for the next 2-3 years to be for the following players? Kinsler Pedroia Tulowitzki Nick Swisher I'm considering who to keep on my team for my sim league 7 player per season keeper league.

Caleb Peiffer: A tough call...as far as value for the next 2-3 years, I would probably take Kinsler first, Pedroia second, Tulowitzki third...although Pedroia is two years younger than Kinsler, and choosing between Pedroia and Tulo when you take positional scarcity into account is a difficult decision as well. Check out

Taylor (Toronto): Any idea who the PTBNL is in the Stairs trade? what should I expect out of Travis Snider the rest of the way?

Caleb Peiffer: Don't know who the PTBNL is. I wouldn't set the bar for Travis Snider too high for the rest of the way...he's an outstanding prospecet, but is just 20, and while he's been hot at AAA (.344 in 18 games) his numbers at AA weren't overwhelmingly great (.262/.357/.461). He is also carrying that 61/154 BB/K ratio.

tremont (LI, NY): Dan Murphy and Nick Evans a viable platoon in LF for next year?

Caleb Peiffer: That's an excellent question...I highly doubt the Mets would go that route, but Murphy certainly has been extremely impressive so far in his approach at the plate. He's seeing 4.19 pitches per plate appearance, which would rank ninth in the majors if he had enough at-bats to qualify. Throw that in with the fact that he's one of just three position players from the 2006 draft to make it the majors thus far, and he was a 13th rounder to boot, and he might just turn into a special player.

Pat Andriola (Tufts): Fellow Mets fan from Long Island...have you seen "Shea Goodbye"? It's awesome.

Caleb Peiffer: No, but I will check it out, thanks.

Doug (Chicago): There's no way on Earth Quentin is actually from Chicago, no Cubs fan in his right mind would have thought that, let alone written it down. I'm still entirely unconvinced that the Cubs will make the playoffs.

Caleb Peiffer: Offered without comment.

Caleb Peiffer: On that note, I have to take off. Sorry if I didn't get to your question...thanks for chatting, and looking forward to doing it again before the end of the season.


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