As minor-league seasons end, Kevin checks in to talk about some of the year's top performances and look ahead to the offseason.
Kevin Goldstein: Happy Monday everyone! (remember their brief UK hitdom? Man did they stink). Anyway, let's try to forget about our economy entering a total death spiral and talk about baseball for a little bit!
Casejud (Bothell, Wa): Love your work and thanks for taking the time to chat Bro. My question is about Mat Gamel, I know in your last chat you said he was very unlikely to stick at 3b and even compared him to the Ryan Braun disaster in the big leagues. I look at his stats at AA and I say that if someone starts 27 double plays it is almost IMPOSSIBLE for them not to have some skill over there. Knda like someone stealing 40 nases without them having some speed. I think minor league fielding stats are more reliable than scouting reports in evaluating minor leaguers. They tell you facts where the reports are sometimes all over the place... Jed Lowrie ring a bell? Any scouts appologize to you for misleading you and, us, about him?
Kevin Goldstein: Sweet! I get to start off totally cranky! Number one: You think fielding stats are more reliable than scouting reports and that's dead wrong. Basic fielding stats are a horrible way to evaluate a defender at any level. Number two: You want to talk about how great fielding stats are in support of Mat Gamel? Did you notice the fact that the guy has made 119 errors in the past three years? ONE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN. Number three: I was not misled, nor did I mislead anyone on Lowrie. I don't remember exactly what I wrote coming into the season (and I ranked him HIGHLY, mind you), but it was something to the effect of him being a fundamentally sound defender who makes the play on every ball he gets to, yet he's not especially rangy. I haven't seen anything to change my mind about that, and I certainly never criticized his offense. Next!
Alex (Atlanta): My XBox broke and they won't fix it. Should I buy a new one or go back to reading books?
Kevin Goldstein: You should buy a PS3. Or a new XBox. It's not like you can go without gaming for chrissakes.
Fredrick Freeman (Rome): Am I better than Logan Morrison? I think I am. He's all, like, old and junk.
Kevin Goldstein: I like you better, but not a ton. More power, youth. That said, Morrison can really, really rake.
ericmilburn (San Francisco): After each promotion this year, I kept expecting Travis Snider to falter. Obviously he hasn't, but I wonder if the strikeouts are going to catch up at some point. Is this kid going to simply be a stud with the bat from day 1?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes.
kmshipley (Austin): Huge BrewCrew fan, and I need to know how Salome and Escobar fit with the crew for next yr? Aren't they too good to keep sitting, but maybe not quite good enough to make the brewers make a move to get them in there? Do they matter next yr?
Kevin Goldstein: It's a great question, and I'm not sure the Brewers even have an answer for you. I'd make Salome the catcher right now, slide Hardy over the third, and install Alcides at short. But that's just me.
Mark (Watertown, MA): James Skelton has some intriguing numbers, but you constantly hear the scouts questioning his ability to catch long term becuse of his small frame. Can you summarize some of the specific concerns scouts raise about the detriments of his slight frame at that position?
Kevin Goldstein: It's always hard to evaluate something that is so unique. We can say he just doesn't look like a catcher, and he doesn't. It's a very small and skinny frame, and so the question about his ability to give you 140 games is an understandable one, but he's held up so far, and he at least deserves the chance to prove us all wrong.
Jason Heyward (Atlanta): Do you I have the potential of being BP's top prospect next year? What's my upside comparison? thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: Like No. 1 overall? That's pushing it. Elite-level prospect, but not the best in baseball. Upside is consistent all-star corner outfielder.
Brian (FLA): Kevin, I want to talk about Mike Stanton. In the time you've followed the minor leagues, can you ever remember an 18 year old with as much game usable power as Stanton in a full season league? The strikeouts are obviously a concern. But what is the realistic offensive ceiling for Stanton? What is he like defensively? Where does he fit in the Marlins Top 11 and then the overall Top 100?
Kevin Goldstein: It's extremely rare -- Alex Rodriguez showed a ton of power at 18. He's not A-Rod, but he's extremely rare. He's a solid outfielder with a good arm, and he's their top prospect in my mind (on first thought).
bigrick0016 (Cleveland): I thought JJ Hardy was a great defensive SS? Why is there a bunch of talk of moving him? Is it just that Escobar is also a really good SS and Hardy's bat could carry another position?
Kevin Goldstein: Yeah, that's pretty much it. Hardy's bat fits well at third, fills the hole there, and Escobar has gold glove potential.
Dan (Denver): Another website speculates that if Tazawa signs with a MLB team, NPB could retaliate by signing Alvarez or Crow. Care to respond to this?
Kevin Goldstein: I just finished up season one of Madmen on blu-ray. Towards the end, at a very critical point, one of the big shots says to an underling who is trying to pull a power play, "You didn't think this through." Whoever wrote that, didn't think it through.
Captain Pedantic (In yo face): About Jed Lowrie: I believe what Mssr. Casejud was referring to was this statement from a chat of yours at the beginning of the year: "he’s just not a big league shortstop, he’s a second baseman." And if you are wondering why I know that quote off-hand, it is because I am a loser who has a very boring job.
Kevin Goldstein: So do have time to solve this economy stuff? Ok, that's a strong statement, but I will still say that the guy doesn't have a ton of range at short.
jaymoff (Salem, OR): What do you know about Guillermo Moscoso P DET and Anthony Slama P MIN? Those two put up incredibly silly looking numbers at high levels this year!
Kevin Goldstein: Both have incredible stat lines, but Slama was at High-A, not the upper levels. I'm not crazy about either, but they're both solid prospects who unfortunately aren't as good as their numbers. Moscoso has great control and average-to-slighty above velocity, but he lives in the upper part of the zone, and that's going to catch up to him. Slama is a deceptive sinker/slider guy. Both could be big leaguers, but neither will be a closer.
mymrbig (New Orleans): I read some crazy comps for Grant Green (Longoria and Tulowitski, to name a few). Can you give and offensive and defensive comp for him heading toward the 2009 draft, or is it too early? Please don't say Tulo's offense and Longoria's defense...
Kevin Goldstein: He's certainly the top college player coming into the draft. Should hit for a very good average with a bit of power, and he's an outstanding athlete and excellent defender. I actually like the Tulo comp from both sides. He has no below-average tool.
Jake (KC): A couple non-BP guys have said that Wilson Ramos is the Twins' best prospect. Do you agree?
Kevin Goldstein: No, no I don't.
bsox07 (jay, NY): thoughts on moustakas.....
Kevin Goldstein: Best hitter I saw in the Midwest League this year. Still not sure where he'll end up defensively, but I don't think it's going to matter really. The bat will play anywhere.
swrights (Washington DC): Does Elijah Dukes actually have .280/.380/.550 type long-term potential, with above-average defense? His last 200 at bats have been the highlight of a terrible season in Washington.
Kevin Goldstein: He absolutely has that potential, but of course if comes with all kinds of caveats that I don't think I even need to get into right now.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Can Austin Jackson be projected as anything but an MLB regular at this point? Is Trenton an extreme enough pitcher's park to affect positional player development negatively? Thanks!
Kevin Goldstein: He certainly projects as an every day player. The debate is to whether it's star-level or not.
bsox07 (NY): alvarez or smoak? who has the better bat?
Kevin Goldstein: Smoak.
Fernando (NYC): Was Montero the best hitter in the Sally League?
Kevin Goldstein: Man, the Sally League was LOADED this year, wasn't it? Stanton, Montero, Dominguez, Freeman, Hayward, Villalona and many others. It's was star studded, so while I say Montero is not my favorite hitting prospect in the league, he's still a great prospect.
Matt A (Raleigh): Best A-ball hitting prospect: Moustakas or Heyward?
Kevin Goldstein: I like Heyward just because he can do more things right now.
Kiley (Newark): With Gordon at 3B (albeit with a bad hip) and a glut of guys, including Butler, that can only play 1b, do you think the Royals may move Moustakas back to SS?
Kevin Goldstein: No. If you saw him this year, you'd understand. He's just not athletic enough -- I'm sure that statement will get the Jed Lowrie fan club to write you and let you know it's ok -- but he's not good there. I think outfield might work out better for him, especially right, because he's gotta a helluva arm.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): How many prospects do you have a good working knowledge (level, organization, an idea of their strengths/weaknesses, etc.) of off the top of your head?
Kevin Goldstein: Wow, I have no idea. Just an IDEA of strengths and weakness? That's a liberal enough definition for me to guess it's around a thousand.
jay (philly): So Outman's in the majors and Spencer hit well, while Fat Joe Blanton is being Fat Joe Blanton. The bright spot from the Phillies perspective might be that Cardenas has struggled in hitters leagues. Is that likely to sustain?
Kevin Goldstein: Cardenas had a .392 OBP in the Texas League will trying to play a harder position (shortstop -- and too sounds like a broken record, he doesn't have the range to stay there). I understand you're looking for something, but that's not it, as Cardenas is very, very good.
Ben Bernake (Very Busy): Should I cut interest rates? Again?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't know. I wish I understood it better, but I don't. Everytime I think about this stuff, I'm am reminded of a great conversation I had with an ACTUAL ECONOMIST who explained to me how economies are really highly organic and administrations get WAY too much credit or blame for when they go well or poorly, so the late 70s weren't really Carter's complete fault, and right now is not totally Bush's fault, much like Reagan and Clinton don't deserve tons of praise for the 80s and 90s booms.
DanLong (WFC): Yankees season looks bleak....but the bright spot for 2009 is....can you finish this sentence?
Kevin Goldstein: the new stadium.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): Ok, I'll refine the definition: An ability to grade them 20-80 within 10 points on all tools. Now how many? 200?
Kevin Goldstein: Within 10? That's pretty liberal too. 5-600?
Meddler (Brooklyn, NY): I know its been a while since he's been a prospect, but how much more development can we expect from Mike Pelfrey? He's having a stellar year, but if he ever wants to fulfill the ace-type upside many expected from him back when he was drafted, he'll have to miss more bats. Will that come if he refines his offspeed stuff? Or does it look more like he's going to settle in as a solid mid-rotation guy who gets by with an excellent groundball rate?
Kevin Goldstein: I think what you are seeing is what you are going to get. An above-average middle-rotation type.
oira61 (san francisco): Kevin -- Baseball analysts were saying that Tampa Bay was going to be good soon for a couple of years before it happened. Which are the downtrodden organizations now that are going to be good in the near future?
Kevin Goldstein: First two teams that come to mind after five seconds of thought is the Rangers and the A's. I think the Giants would be on that list somewhere however, and the Orioles and Braves have some room for optimism as well.
Meddler (Brooklyn, NY): Bobby Parnell or Eddie Kunz: Who was the better shot to be an internal closer option for the Mets next year? Are there any reasonable internal options? Would signing an extra starter and trying John Maine there make more sense?
Kevin Goldstein: I think if either of those guys is closing for you, you have problems.
Josh (New Haven, Ct): Can I get the ball rolling again on the Alvarez Arbitration hearings? You have been doing a great job trying to make some sense of this mess.
Are there any updates since last Wednesday and do you see this getting settled out of arbitration?
Kevin Goldstein: Stay tuned, more coming tommorow!
Rob (Alaska): I'll put your feet to the fire if you don't mind: with breakout seasons from both Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison, is Cam Maybin now the #3 prospect in that organization?
Kevin Goldstein: I'd take Maybin over Morrison seven days a week and twice on Sunday. Maybin versus Stanton gives me pause however.
DanLong (WFC): working in the industry, i couldn't agree more with what you just said in regards to your conversation with the economist. and about the yankees bright spot: OUCH.
Kevin Goldstein: Yeah, he was a very smart man who recently passed away, one of the smartest people I ever worked with. I didn't go to college, but I also spent the first five years of my adult life, from 18-22 working for a very big, very successful international management consulting firm, which I like to think gave me AT LEAST the equivalent of a 4-year business degree, if not more.
Rob (Brighton): Who is the least athletic person you've seen play baseball at high level?
Kevin Goldstein: Wow. Billy Butler? Jack Cust? Great question. And taking nominations from the readers.
jimbeau (Left Coast): Hi Kevin, always look forward to your chats. Small Sample Size Be Damned (SSSBD), Cord Phelps looks like he converted nicely to wood and appears to do a little bit of everything well. What's his defense like at 2B and how do scouts rate him on the 20-80? What kind of projection does he have? Thanks.
Kevin Goldstein: He's a switch hitter with excellent contact skills, an above-average approach but not much power. Kind of a solid, but unspectacular second baseman -- average there.
Myles (Cave): Least athletic... Canseco?
Kevin Goldstein: Was a fantastic athlete early in his career -- I was thinking from the get-go.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): If it's least athletic-looking, Steve Balboni starts and closes the debate.
Kevin Goldstein: An outstanding choice sir, well played.
Tony (Albuquerque): Butler isn't even the least athletic Royal: Ken Harvey, Bob Hamlin.
Kevin Goldstein: More good ones -- and what's with all the Royals? Don't forget Cal Pickering!
TGisriel (Baltimore): Is this the Markakis we should expect to see for a while, or is there any development left? Will his power develop further?
Kevin Goldstein: My questions about Markakis always came down to his power ceiling, but it's not like he's a slap hitter. .300 hitter with 100 walks and 25 home runs? That's pretty damn special.
rawagman (Toronto): Kevin,
Re you earlier Snider comment - should I take this to mean that you consider him to be ready for fulltime MLB action now? If so, he should be the Jays' starting __ next season?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes, I think he's ready RIGHT now to be a solid outfielder, and remains and future all-star.
This just in: MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers today announced that Ned Yost has been dismissed from his position as manager of the Club. The announcement was made by Brewers Executive Vice President and General Manager, Doug Melvin.
Dale Svuem takes over.
Has this ever happened before? A manager fired in September with his team currently in line to make the playoffs?
mars2001 (Denver, CO): I need a Strasburg fix...
Kevin Goldstein: You're going to have to wait awhile then. Opener for him isn't until late February.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Who are you going to make your Fallout 3 character look like?
Kevin Goldstein: Won't know until I see the options. This better not be Oblivion with guns, or I'm gonna hurt somebody.
Rick (Chicago): Have you had a chance to watch Jay Bruce much? He really struggled with contact and plate discipline over the summer, but seems to have turned a corner the last few weeks. What's a reasonable expectation for next year? Is .270/.340/.500 too optimistic?
Kevin Goldstein: Actually, I think that's just about exactly right. Don't worry too much, he's going to be a stud.
nb (IL): What kind of upside are we Cub fans looking at in Vitters? How excited should I be?
Kevin Goldstein: You should be excited. I wrote this while he was still in high school, but I think it still fits -- he reminds me of a more physical Howie Kendrick.
DK (NYC): In his last 81 games, Adam Jones has hit .295/.334/.426. Would you take the over or under on that for his 2009?
Kevin Goldstein: Let's set the bet at a .760 OPS -- I'll take the over.
Dennis (Chicago): "My questions about Markakis always came down to his power ceiling, but it's not like he's a slap hitter. .300 hitter with 100 walks and 25 home runs? That's pretty damn special."
Shouldn't this be Corey Hart (albeit with 40 less walks and 5-7 more home runs)?
Kevin Goldstein: Actually, it's the same number of home runs and about 70 fewer walks. MASSIVE difference.
Chip (Richmond): Does the average baseball fan realize just how much athleticism is needed to play SS in the bigs? Maybe not defensive back or point guard type athleticism, but it's still patroled by incredibly freakish athletes. I think fans lose sight of this too often.
Kevin Goldstein: Amen.
jklein (TP): Love that Vitters reminds you of Kendrick but at what position? 3B still even with his defensive questions?
Kevin Goldstein: I think he'll be find at third. Not gold glove, but I don't think he'll have to move.
buggyracer (Clearfield, PA): Cecil Fielder has to fit somewhere in the discussion of least-athletic players - I'd throw a Lonnie Smith in there too.
Kevin Goldstein: Lonnie Smith was simply a horrible outfielder. I have no idea how a guy with 370 career stolen bases could be un-athletic.
Rob (Brighton): Re: Ned Yost. Any word on why? I know he's generally regarded as one of the biggest boneheads in the game, but if Grady Little can find employment than managerial smarts don't matter that much. You figure he had to have said something extremely dumb to one of his bosses for this to happen right here, right now. Either that or C.C. is injured.
Kevin Goldstein: I have no idea why, but on an analysis level, our numbers genius Clay Davenport reports that in the last seven days, their playoff chances have dropped 39%. WOW.
chris (bklyn, NY): kevin, will we see you at All Tomorrow's Parties NY this weekend? if not, what show(s) are you looking forward to?
Kevin Goldstein: I'll be here in DeKalb -- so no. I think we have Kite Fest though, beat that! Saturday is the killer day for me with Shellac and Les Savy Fav, but Sunday is not to be missed either with plenty of goodness, including the Brian Jonestown Massacre -- who are NEVER to be missed live.
Mao (Netherworld): Disgaea 3 update?
Kevin Goldstein: 28 hours, Somewhere in Chapter 6, Mao is at lvl 58.
BL (Bozeman, MT): Even with more coming tomorrow, can you let us know whether Hosmer and Alvarez are bound to the same fate?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't think we know. There will be more on that tomorrow, but one side says they are in the same boat, and one side saying they are not.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): Isn't a better Markakis comp Bobby Abreu in his peak years?
Kevin Goldstein: Yes, yes it is. and good one.
john (seattle): busy summer for brett anderson, closes out bronze medal game, then pcl championship. is he a legit top 15 overall prospet? best lefty after price in milb?
Kevin Goldstein: Top 15 overall? No way. Like him plenty, but no sure how much ceiling is there.
tremont (LI, NY): Hopefully Joel will be present and on stage. A BJM show is never complete until the tamborine Joel throws in the air misses his outstretched hands and hits him in the head.
Kevin Goldstein: Or hits a fan, leading to an all-out brawl. Let's face it, BJM is great live, but there's a small NASCAR aspect to going to see them, as you're enjoying the event, but part of you is seriously hoping for the big crash.
Rob (Oakland): Is Nick Noonan's walk rate something to worry about yet?
Kevin Goldstein: Well, the guy is never going to be a walk machine, but I wouldn't lose too much sleep yet.
mymrbig (New Orleans): Putting aside the current issue, if you were Neal Huntington, how many players would have been in front of Alvarez for you #2 overall pick this year? You mentioned Smoak already, anyone else?
Kevin Goldstein: Crap. I misread that question. I thought it said Smoak vs. ALONSO -- which is a question I get ALL OF THE TIME. I'd take Alvarez over Smoak folks, so ignore any followup. On talent, the Pirates made the right choice at No. 2.
garrett (chicago): any love for chris carter? he finished his cal league season w/ 44 hr's. will be 22 in AA for 09. do you see him as a poor man's ryan howard?
Kevin Goldstein: Tons of love for Chris Carter. I don't hate the Howard comp, but I don't love it either. Carter is a better athlete than Howard, but even with Carter's 44 HR, Howard's raw power might be the best in the game.
Wendy (Madrid): So the Brewers just fired their manager and the Astros are blaming Bud Selig for being no-hit, seems as though everything is going the Cubs' way. Is the curse over?
Kevin Goldstein: Other than the fact that there is no curse, things are looking good. Still if anyone wants to give me the field against the Cubs for '08 champs, I'll take the bet gladly.
Andrew (Washington, D.C.): Why do some teams call-up minor leaguers in Sept. and don't use them at all? Wouldn't it be better to keep them in the minors, since they will at least keep getting innings/at bats. For example, James McDonald of the Dodgers has not pitched yet after being called up 2 weeks ago. Speaking of McDonald, will he have a good chance of being in the rotation for 09?
Kevin Goldstein: Well, the minor league regular season ended on Labor Day for most leagues, so there is no more chances for them to pitch. For many like McDonald, it's kind of a reward for a job well done.
Joe (Wisconsin): Sure, you work for some firm and you say it's like getting a 4 year business degree. You were 18 when you started. What were you, the stock boy? Please.
Kevin Goldstein: Actually, I was the manager of North American system administration by 19 and traveling around the country providing corporate training on multi-site communication systems and interfaces . . . but I digress.
Sean (chair): You said Grant Green is the best college player coming into the draft. Mean to say positional player, or did you just make a bold statement?
Kevin Goldstein: POSITIONAL player. right now, nobody touches Strasburg.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): So is there such a thing as a clutch player?
Kevin Goldstein: I think there is -- others differ with me.
DK (NYC): Do I have these 1-2 punches in the correct order? Price/Davis, Feliz/Holland, Scherzer/Parker, Bumgarner/Alderson, Cahill/Anderson, Tillman/Matusz.
Kevin Goldstein: Here's the thing. I don't think you're right, but I do think you'd have a solid argument for your version. I wouldn't move any of them more than a slot or two.
Chris W. (Long Since NIU): Who was the lead act for Corn Fest this year? What's the most pathetic has been act you've seen there? For me it was a very run down Night Ranger in the mid-90's.
Kevin Goldstein: Some country act as always. I would KILL for Night Ranger. Just so you know Chris, we didn't even GO to Corn Fest this year, as they moved it out to the 'airport' while they do so rehab work downtown.
Bodhizefa (chapel hill): Any thoughts on Little Big Planet? It looks mind-numbingly awesome to me!
Kevin Goldstein: Agreed. Pre-ordered for like . . . ever.
walter young (baltimore): I wasn't very athletic.
Kevin Goldstein: You actually were, for your size.
Patti (Boston): Does Jon Lester still have some development left? His velocity has increased as the season has gone on, and he can touch 96 and 97 nowadays.
Kevin Goldstein: I think Lester is one of the best LHP starters in the league right now, so how much more development does he need? He's going to be just outstanding.
greg (toronto): When Pujols was in the minors, did you consider him in the same uber-prospect category as Griffey and Arod?
Kevin Goldstein: I don't think anyone did. He kind of came out of nowhere with one outstanding (not crazy mind you - .314/.373/.543) in the minors, and that was his entire minor league career.
Patrick (Chicago): What can you tell us about Scott Lewis? He has some intriguing minor league number, but I read the stuff is only ok - a left handed Scott Baker type?
Kevin Goldstein: He actually kind of reminds me of Sowers. Take that for what it's worth.
James (Stamford, Texas): Based on your Corn Fest commentary, it sounds like you have a problem with country music. What's the deal?
Kevin Goldstein: When it comes to country, I'm more of a classicist. I think the modern country/pop/rock stuff is about the worst possible thing conceived by man. I love George Jones though -- do I win?
walter young (baltimore): should i have been a left tackle then?
Kevin Goldstein: Actually you were a defensive lineman -- could have played D-I I'm told.
Kevin Goldstein: Ok, folks. Thanks for all the great questions, but I have to go finish tomorrow's piece or Christina will get angry . . . and you wouldn't like her when she's angry.