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Chat: Steven Goldman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday October 20, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Steven Goldman.

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Steven Goldman brings history to life in "You Could Look It Up."

Steven Goldman: Good afternoon, comrades. Steven Goldman here to take you through a Monday afternoon. We've got the World Series to discuss, and a classic seven-game (and classic Game Seven) ALCS to discuss, hot stove action already bubbling, and a thousand other topics to play with. And of course, we here at BP are already hard at work on the new annual, and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about that I'd be happy to entertain 'em. Turn the monitor away from your boss and let's go.

Andy (Gettysburg College): I don't have a strong interest in either World Series team. Can you outline some reasons to root for each team?

Steven Goldman: Well, first, you can root for the baseball season to last seven more games instead of the minimum four. Second, there are good storylines here, some of which are kind of obvious, such as the 1969 Mets-like rise of the Rays. The Phillies are also a generally downtrodden franchise with a whole bunch of fun players like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, and Brad Lidge.

Dave (Chicago): So the A's are on the verge of re-signing Mark Ellis. Even ignoring concerns about his surgically repaired shoulder, why trade for Eric Patterson and Adrian Cardenas and draft Jemile Weeks if Ellis is sticking around for a few years?

Steven Goldman: I have to admit I did something of a double-take on hearing of this. Thirty-one year-old second basemen with sketchy injury histories are exactly the kind of players Billy Beane is generally smart enough to stay away from. Perhaps this is a Varitek-like character signing. I don't know.

Mark (New England): How many Red Sox fans will now support the implementation of electronic ball/strike calling technology after Price struck out Drew with the bases loaded on a pitch that looked to be both low and away?

Steven Goldman: This isn't Joe Sheehan is it? This is one of his favorite hobby horses, and I've really come around to his point of view. The postseason strike zone has been all over the place, not that that is too different from the regular season. We really don't need any more travesties like games settled by an Eric Gregg "I have a bus to catch so every pitch is a strike" approach, not that I thought the Price pitch to Drew was THAT much of a travesty. I think we're on the way to some kind of robot umpire, but it will come slowly, haltingly, and with much gnashing of teeth.

g-mo (bumpus): Hi Mr. Goldman! How has Wholesome Reading been received so far? I read it every day and enjoy it greatly, even though you didn't publish the comment I posted about FEMA camps :P

Steven Goldman: Thanks for asking, g-mo. For those not yet hip, I've been doing a political blog with a historical bent at www.wholesomereading.com. It seems to be doing pretty well. Although we haven't had any really big comment threads yet, the daily numbers have been very nice for something I only started in mid-September. In the post-election period, I plan to add a second page on old movies. Hopefully we'll have some additional contributors... BTW, I haven't turned down a single comment yet except for spam, so I don't know why your comment wasn't posted. I want discussion, blast it!

Bill W (Brooklyn NY): Does anything karmically balance those crappy strike calls on drew and Kotsay? I need to enjoy the Rays' victory guilt-free.

Steven Goldman: I think the fact that Kotsay was up there in the first place absolves the Rays. Although acquiring Kotsay for depth wasn't a bad idea (not that he helped), the idea to stick him at first base throughout the playoffs when Mike Lowell went down was an unmitigated disaster. I kept wondering if Jeff Bailey would have done better.

Mountainhawk (Salem, MA): Drew was out because he swung! It wasn't a called strike 3.

Steven Goldman: I know, but it wasn't clear at the time and I figure it still isn't clear to many viewers. If you stayed with the postgame coverage, even David Price was like, "I thought it was a ball."

Louis (New York): HELP!!! EMERGENCY!!! I'm in a 5x5 keeper league and need you to rank 17,000 players for me... How come BP chatters feel compelled to answer at least one or two of these questions during each chat? Simply a matter of keeping the fantasy customer happy? The answer to this type of question is only ever of interest to exactly 1 person, the person asking it, because even if other readers play fantasy baseball they will never be faced with a decision about that exact set of players. While I'm at it, why do people ask this type of question in the first place? I no longer play fantasy baseball, but when I did a large part of the fun was having the decision-making powers of a GM & getting to make tough personnel decisions myself.

Steven Goldman: I rarely choose those questions unless there's some wider point we can get out of it. No disrespect to those guys - BP loves its fantasy customers and they deserve some attention too. The problem is that those questions are almost inevitably solipsistic in a chat setting that isn't wholly devoted to fantasy issues.

CharlieAdams (New York, NY): Steven, Thanks for chatting. I was wondering what your thoughts are on the Indians starting rotation next year? Lee is due for some regression, but still is the #1, Carmona does what next year? Is Huff ready? Were Scott Lewis and A-Reyes' performance indicative of what we can expect next year?

Steven Goldman: I like Lewis and Huff, the former more than the latter, but I tend to get over-excited about guys who don't quite have the stuff to deliver on their minor league numbers. As for Reyes, he had a nice little run with the Tribe, and it would be great to see him finally get established, but that strikeout rate makes me nervous.

I have to pause for about two minutes here. Apologies for the slight delay.

ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi Steve, Thanks for chatting. Speaking of the 1969 Mets, they were, of course, led by Tom Seaver, whom they acquired by pulling his name out of a hat. How should have the commissioner handled the case to Seaver's rights back then?

Steven Goldman: And we're back... The whole Seaver situation was kind of a joke, a crazy catch-22. The Braves made Seaver a #1 pick in 1966, but the contract was voided because USC had started its exhibition season by the time the deal went through - not that Seaver had played, although he had worked out with the team (IIRC). Simultaneously, the NCAA ruled Seaver ineligible because he had signed a pro contract. He had nowhere to go. Baseball's solution was a lottery for Seaver. The weird thing about it was that only three teams asked for a shot, the Mets, the Phillies, and the Indians. Oddly, the Braves quit on Seaver at that point. The contract should never have been voided in the first place...

nstampe (Madison, WI ): Brewers Manager Choices according to rumor: Sad retreads, or is there a good idea in there?

Steven Goldman: If I can switch to the M's for a half-second, I saw someone write yesterday that Bobby Valentine is good at turning around losing teams. Now, Bobby is always a lot of fun, but exactly when did he prove that? Anyway, I saw Davy Johnson mentioned for the Brewers, and I thought, "Well, maybe he got the bug again during the Olympics." No idea if that comeback would work out, but the Brewers could use an experienced hand at this point. They don't need a builder, they need a mild tinkerer who can fit the pieces together and get them to an extra win or two a season.

Joe (Washington, DC): Hi Steven. Which free agents should the Yankees target this off-season, if any?

Steven Goldman: Teixeira has to be job #1. He's the closest thing to a no-brainer there is out there in terms of maintaining/improving the offense and shoring up a problematic defense. After that, I'd love to see a right fielder who can hit with Bobby Abreu but isn't afraid that the wall is going to bite him, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards just now... I don't share their enthusiasm for signing every free agent pitcher on the market. Sabathia's size and workload are kind of scary, Burnett is somewhat overrated and tends to break down. Sheets is great but is an injury concern. They don't have the defense to support Derek Lowe. I guess of those four CC is the best bet.

Jon (SF): Speaking of old movies, what is your opinion on the Bette Davis stamp that has been getting a lot of publicity?

Steven Goldman: It's kind of a Margo Channing look, isn't it? Has there been some controversy surrounding it? ...I recently watched "The Petrified Forest," one of her earlier roles, and a career-maker for Humphrey Bogart. It's a pretty stilted film (partially intentional because of the metaphor of the title - the characters are petrified), and I feel bad saying that because it's based on a Robert Sherwood play. Anyway, Bogie and Bette are very good, and it's kind of neat to see her in an ingenue role. I always think of her as playing these strong-willed ladies. Drew Barrymore could have played her part in "Forest."

Cambridge (BP Northeast): The Phillies' biggest power threat in the 1915 World Series was Gavvy Cravath. Is it fair to say that he was a far superior hitter to Ryan Howard?

Steven Goldman: I love my readers. I mean that sincerely. Let's take the question seriously and take a look at the translated stats at BP provided by Clay Davenport III. Clay fixes Cravath's 1915, by far his best season at 10.6 WARP, at .278/.399/.628 with 55 HR, 104 BB, 124 Ks. Howard's numbers, subject to the same translation, come out to .250/.340/.559. Now, what you have to keep in mind is that Howard is a giant of a man even by our meat-eating standards today, whereas Cravath had the smaller stature of a man born in 1881 (perspective: FDR was born in 1882). As such, I doubt there's any real comparison, but in context, yes, Cravath was the man.

akachazz (DC): Wholesome Reading, 538... Do any other BPers don masks and capes each night, leading second lives that I ought to know about?

Steven Goldman: Well, Marc Normandin blogs on video games at chibagamer.com... Will Carroll often blogs about politics and other matters and of course also writes about football. Jay Jaffe has his own place at futilityinfielder.com (still baseball, of course)... And you should all urge Joe Sheehan to finally get his show tunes blog going. He has incredible things to say about Sondheim (but don't get him started on Andrew Lloyd Webber!).

ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi Steve, not a question, just a comment. I would love to see a YCLIU on the 1915 Philles/WS. Thanks for your time.

Steven Goldman: Your wish is my command. I was looking for a topic for tomorrow. I have to say though, I'd like to hear what y'all think about that. Whenever I write about the deadball era, reader feedback tends to drop off. Should I interpret that as a lack of interest?

Devin (Green Brook, NJ): Steve, do you think Casey Stengel would be a successful manager today, or would he alienate his players too much? Just curious. (And Valentine did a good job fixing a lousy Mets club after Dallas Green.)

Steven Goldman: Casey was very smart, smart enough, I think, that he would moderate his approach and rip fewer players in the press. I think he would be a little more Torre-like in that he would be honest with the press when a player wasn't doing well (something I greatly admire about Torre as compared to Buck Showalter/Joe Girardi types who can't bring themselves to acknowledge the obvious) without being overwhelmingly negative. Torre makes himself heard to the players one on one, and Casey did a lot of that too, but as he got older he increasingly took the shortcut of just reading them out in the papers. That just wouldn't play today and he would know that... As for Valentine, I need to take a closer look at the changeover from 1996 to 1997 Mets. How much of that was bringing in Olerud and such?

Aaron (YYZ): To answer your question, my eyes glaze over when I get to the deadball era...

Steven Goldman: Why?

Silv (NY, NY): I think you just crashed chibagamer.

Steven Goldman: Least I can do for my good friend Marc?

bennoj (seattle): The Bette Davis stamp controversy is that her cigarette has been eliminated. Look at her hand and you'll see immediately that it is positioned to be holding one.

Steven Goldman: And here I was thinking she was subtly flashing the peace sign. It is a bit of revisionist history, especially since more women need to realize that smoking kills your looks. That's an assertion based on biology and chemistry, not aesthetics. It rots your face, and Bette Davis was sure as heck prematurely aged by it, a problem since she was never a classic beauty in the first place.

Aaron (YYZ): I think I have difficulty contextualizing the numbers, usage, and player archetypes of the deadball era with the modern game. That and I pretty much don't recognize any of the names so I don't attach as much emotion to the players as I would a lot of the post-deadball stars.

Steven Goldman: It's difficult to work with the stats, which is why when I write about it, I try to discuss the players in terms of modern analogues or styles of play. I try to look at the stats, the translations, and the things that contemporaries said about them and say, "Well, they said the same things about this guy that they say about Juan Pierre." I also look at it as a chance to appreciate players that I missed, in the same way that I seek out albums or books that are now out of print because I hear they're really good...

rich (nj): Didn't expect to see Joba's name in the news this morning...Joel Sherman blames A-Rod, Mike Francesa probably knew this would happen when the Yanks made him a starter. Speaking of bullpens, do you ever see the pendulum swinging back and managers using their best reliever when the game is on the line instead of saving him for that ninth inning save that never comes?

Steven Goldman: Yes, I do, but I can't tell you exactly when it will happen. As with almost all strategic innovations (or, in this case, rediscoveries) it takes a manager having the guts to try it and succeeding with it. Then the inevitable imitators come along and suddenly you have a trend. A frequently-cited example involves Casey Stengel. When he started platooning with the Yankees, more ignorant types said he had invented the practice. Of course he hadn't. He himself had been platooned going back to the 1910s, and players were platooned years before he was. It's just that the practice had fallen into disrepute because players hated it and the statistical basis for it didn't exist - but once Casey tried it and won, it came back into the game's statistical vocabulary. Similarly, when Joe Page had big years in 1947 and 1949, and Jim Konstanty for the Phillies in 1950, suddenly folks began to cotton to the idea of relief aces. Of course, that wasn't really anything new either.

g-mo (bumpus): So sick of smoking getting written out of history... You know when they did an anniversary edition of "Goodnight Moon" they airbrushed the cigarette out of the author photo too...

Steven Goldman: Yeah, I was aware of that too. People have good intentions in terms of protecting children, but it's much better to keep things accurate and have a teaching opportunity. You know, I'd rather show my daughter pictures of Walt Disney with a cigarette in his hand than without. The guy was a chain smoker and the habit killed him. I'd rather say that than pretend the danger didn't exist. Similarly, when we go out to the local bookstore, there are always 14-year-olds smoking outside. I always point it out to her and say how damnably stupid it is.

CNB (San Francisco): Though I'm sure Ms. Kahrl will do the signing much more justice in a TA at a later point, I'd like to offer a minor defense of Oakland's retention of Ellis. Last year's offensive performance was significantly below expectaions, even for him, so he's likely to rebound somewhat. He's also one of the best defensive 2B in the game, if not the best, which should provide much relief to a young, still-developing pitching corps. Weeks and Cardenas should only start to be ready to compete for the position right around the end of the contract, and unless Patterson can prove that his bat can consistently outweigh the benefit of Ellis's defense, he'll always be an above-average bench guy. And you're right, his character and status as a fan favorite don't hurt, either.

Steven Goldman: The Mills Bros' rendition of "Paper Doll" just came on XM. For some reason I'm parked on the 40s channel, but I'm digging it... I'm looking forward to what Christina has to say about the Ellis signing too -- I haven't asked her about it, though my temptation was to pick up the phone as soon as I saw it. It's nice to be able to do that. Same if I have a Sondheim question for Joe. The two bones I will pick with your analysis are (1) was his offensive performance really that far out of line given his performance in '03 and '06? (2) If a player of his offensive level slips by a very small percentage, you're not left with very much. The player's fragility seems to argue for at least that much slippage.

jackalltogether (Boston): I think the problem with the deadball era is that it's a completely different game. Offensive and defensive have ebbed and flowed throughout the years but different factors thereof still had similar relative values. It's hard to make sense of an era where scoring was way down, averages were way up, power meant triples, everyone stole at a 50% clip and usage and equipment changes since mean contemporary pitching is almost irrelevant as a comparison point. The sixties are a distant, distant second place in the whole "no rational frame of reference" game. And I say this as someone whose loved the era ever since you recommended Crazy 08 and The Glory of Their Times to me at the Boston book signing!

Steven Goldman: Glad you took me up on those books. There are some really good ones. I also like "The Pitch that Killed," about Ray Chapman and Carl Mays... For me, history, even baseball history, is all about people and their high and low moments, their heroism, their villainy, the fact that they succeeded and failed just like you and me. The challenge as a writer is to bring them to life as people, not just stats. That's what I try to do, though it's sometimes a little difficult in the context of a 1500-word column. Also, even though all the differences you point out are true, a lot of the team-building and strategic problems are relateable. If I ask you to choose between PH A and PH B in a World Series game, and describe the strengths and weaknesses of each, we can second-guess along whether we're talking about Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker or Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): For g-mo...watch Mad Men. Smoking and booze to the point it borders on gratuitous; although it seems appropriate given the time frame and setting. Oh yeah, it's a great show to boot.

Steven Goldman: I've got to get around to that myself. Believe it or not, the rampant smoking, always commented upon in reviews, is kind of a turnoff. I'm not reversing myself on my previous pledge of fealty to historical accuracy, just saying I don't want to see it glorified either.

Matt Lawrence (Land of the Free): Can you give me the scoop on the Pirates' new pitching coach? I don't know too much about him. I've been cautiously pleased with Neal's decision-making thus far (although he did hire Andrews). Please tell me this is a good hire. Go Buccos!

Steven Goldman: Matt, you're killing me. I usually make it a point of not answering questions that get sent in a million times. It's kind of naggy. I know your question is here. I tend to pick questions based on how stimulating I find them, if I feel like I have something interesting to say in response, and try to avoid answering very similar questions back to back. Often, even if I don't get to a question right away (they come flooding in over the transom every 30 seconds), I will pick it up later in the chat. Be patient!

The Pirates have hired Joe Kerrigan as their pitching coach. He's a veteran guy who was well-regarded for his work with the Red Sox in the late 1990s. He's a known quantity with a baseline competence that should work well for the Pirates, but if he has the insight to take Tom Gorzelanny and turn him back into a major league pitcher, that I don't know. It's a lot easier when your prize pupil is Pedro Martinez.

jackalltogether (Boston): Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker vs. Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay? The Analogy Police have reported you to Joe

Steven Goldman: That was totally random, of course. You really can't go wrong, can you? Bay is the one that doesn't belong, I guess.

rich (nj): Which current player most resembles Tom Tresh BEFORE his knee was turned into shredded wheat by SS Ruben Amaros'ill-fated dash into left field in 1967?

Steven Goldman: Let's see... Switch-hitter, stronger from the right side, walks, hits maybe .280 with 25 HRs a season... Mark DeRosa was kind of close this year, right down to the INF/OF defense.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): When was the last time such an important at-bat went to a guy who was as cooked as Varitek? Thanks!

Steven Goldman: Helluva question. That at-bat had a kind of tragic inevitability to it, didn't it?

tmcghan (Bay Area, CA): "Whenever I write about the deadball era, reader feedback tends to drop off. Should I interpret that as a lack of interest?" For me, personally, it's not a lack of interest, it's the fact that it predates me so heavily that I can't provide any constructive feedback. I read it, and find it very interesting, but I have no real way of providing real commentary. That may be the problem. I'd like to see an article about it :)

Steven Goldman: Noted.

Dave (Chicago): If you were Beane, would you try to sign Jason Giambi to a one or two year deal or would you stick it out with Daric Barton?

Steven Goldman: Another good question, because Barton was roundly awful this year. It's pretty special when your 1B puts up a -7.4 VORP. That said, I believe in his minor league record enough to think he can rebound and be a decent if unspectacular producer at the position. I think the A's are still a bit too far down on the rebound curve to get real use out of Giambi, who has a limited shelf-life.

carp1626 (warrensburg): Do you think the Royals have improved enough as an organization to draw interest from top free agents or will players looking to win keep avoiding KC?

Steven Goldman: Are the Royals bidding? Money talks, and if they were really in it they would draw a few names.

Mike (Utica,NY): What's your prediction for the Series?

Steven Goldman: Rays in seven.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): If you had a gun to your head, would you say that Torre 1. got the Yankees and extra WS or two through cool-headedness; 2. Cost them one or two through his bullpen usage; 3. Probably had no effect. Substitute other reasons for 1 & 2 if I'm off. Thanks!

Steven Goldman: Do I have to have a gun to my head? Can I say that it was sometimes 1 and sometimes 2, depending on the year? Let us also say that in both 2001 and 2003 his decision-making was influenced by pathetic roster construction--if you look back at our last playoff roundtable, you can find Joe and I talking about this. In 2001, the bench was Enrique Wilson, Clay Bellinger, Randy Velarde. In 2003, as Joe memorably said, they had more lefties in the pen than the Marlins had lefty hitters. I don't know who gets responsibility for those calls. But in 2007, his "coolness" led him to sit on his ass while Joba was eaten by bugs, and I know very well that Casey or Billy Martin or Leo Durocher or John McGraw or Dick Williams would have been out there pulling his team off the field. I don't know if they would have gotten to the World Series, but his coolness became passivity there and justifiably cost him his job.

elmer (cal): so how much credit are you willing to assign Chuck Lamarr for the Rays' season? Buck Martinez couldn't stop talking about him last week, even though most would consider his tenure one long nightmare/joke. He drafted Crawford and Upton and traded for Kazmir. That counts for something, no?

Steven Goldman: It counts for something, the same way that Pat Gillick's praise of Ed Wade counts for something. You know, most of these guys are not 100% bad at their jobs (there are Hawk Harrelson exceptions out there). At the same time, you know, Moses got the Hebrews all the way across the desert to the promised land. He didn't turn it over to a guy named Bob at the last rest-stop on the Turnpike. LaMar was all over the map (as Moses would have had to be to let Bob take over) and his constant reversals and missteps indicated he was unlikely to get to the end.

JasonC23 (Huntley, IL): The last time such an important at-bat went to a guy who was as cooked as Varitek was Game 1 of the 2005 World Series, Bagwell vs Jenks. They looked about the same to me, Jenks' right-handedness and extra 5 MPH on the fastball notwithstanding.

Steven Goldman: Another good example would have been "any of Varitek's previous at-bats." It wasn't a great moment for Francona, but no doubt he was thinking of Varitek's home run and his guy rising to the occasion one last time. Wishcasting, as Christina would say.

oira61 (San Francisco): Steven, please give us an analogy for the use of David Price in that spot. What other player with such limited experience appeared in such a high-leverage role, successful or unsuccessful?

Steven Goldman: I was mildly reminded of Buck Showalter suddenly discovering that Mariano Rivera was a great reliever during the 1995 ALDS.

Vince Coleman (NL Central): Joe Kerrigan didn't allow his pitchers to use the slide step when he was in Boston, and opponents were very successful running against them. Is that philosophy a potential problem in Pittsburgh, and might it impact who their primary catcher will be?

Steven Goldman: Still throwing firecrackers at the kiddies, Vince? It's a good question. You have to go with Doumit based on offense, even though he's not a great thrower, even if Adam LaRoche is traded. I've often wondered if the slide step and/or pitching from the stretch is worth the sacrifice it entails versus the risk of giving up the SB, and what would happen in practice. If Kerrigan is smart, and he's generally thought to be so, he would be less doctrinaire in Pittsburgh and treat his pitchers on an individual basis.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Has YesNetwork.com warned you yet not to start sounding the "Don't re-sign Jeter" trumpets?

Steven Goldman: I've sounded it a couple of times, Tony. We'll see what the 2009 season does for that argument. In Jeter's defense (ironic that, Jeter's defense) he played through a number of injuries this year and did well considering. The reverse of that is "well" wasn't all that good, though the quality of shortstops around him declined to the point that it still looked pretty good, and he's pretty clearly lost a hunk o' speed. And on yet a third hand, he's not getting any younger and the injuries are going to keep coming. One thing I do know for sure is that his bat no longer supports a move to another position, and I don't think his legs do either.

Phil (NJ): Any thoughts on the Peavy derby? Is Towers selling high? What team(s) would be a good for him?

Steven Goldman: He's not selling quite as high as if Peavy hadn't been hurt this year, but high enough. The ideal destination would be right where he is, or the Dodgers, or someone else with a nice, friendly park. I'm not saying that Peavy won't be a good pitcher for any team that acquires him, but his career ERA in road games is 3.80, and it was 4.28 this year (1.74) at home. In the wrong park, he could really fail to deliver on very high expectations.

mattymatty (Philly): Is this as good as Dustin Pedroia gets or are we seeing the beginning of something great?

Steven Goldman: Based on nothing other than instinct -- I haven't seen the new PECOTA comps yet or anything (Nate is still busy with OBAMA comps) -- I suspect that this is who he is, and if it isn't something great, it's pretty darned close. As I've said many times, he's one of the most entertaining players in baseball to watch.

Brandon (Charleston): Can the Reds contend for a playoff spot in 2009?

Steven Goldman: I'm more hopeful than I was based on Walt Jocketty publicly saying things like, "Yeah, Corey Patterson won't be back next year." As I've said in previous chats (and over at yesnetwork.com in the Pinstriped Bible, and on street corners, in the shower) I don't care who the manager is or how famous he is, leading off Patterson is a firable offense, instant court martial material. The key thing is that, as the pitching staff starts to come together, that they don't overrate their offense. They could also stand to figure out that their pitching staff will gel that much faster if they correct their league-worst defense. I'm very curious about what this offseason holds for them.

Andrew (Baltimore, MD): Given David Price's usage patterns this year -- which is to say that even as a reliever, he has never appeared in back-to-back games -- is it realistic to think that Maddon will use him as a high-leverage reliever/closer in the WS? Can Price pitch every day?

Steven Goldman: My guess is Maddon would be more selective than that. They may be thinking "Joba Rules" just now. I also don't think that Maddon will totally disrupt his established pen plan, but he'll be very tempted to try to see if Price is right (sorry, couldn't resist) at times.

...When the dog-pile slammed into Price last night, I shouted, "No! Don't break the kid!" I had visions of Brien Taylor in my head.

mattymatty (Philly): If you had a machete to your head and you were strapped into an electric chair, would you say the "Rays" team name is in reference to the animal (like the patch on their shoulder) or sun light (like the little starburst on their collective chest)?

Steven Goldman: If only they were owned by a guy named "Ray" I would have a clever answer.

...I seem to have stumbled on a Laura Nyro concert from 1978 on XM. Good stuff. "Save the Country" is one of my favorite semi-protest songs, keep hoping she'll do it... I'll have to stop soon, not because of Laura.

strupp (Madison): SG, I thought that Davey Johnson's name being brought up for the Brewers job was interesting, as he was the guy I told Brewers fans they should have had last year. The Brewers are do for a bit of a fall back, likely losing CC and Sheets though, right? (understanding not operating in a vacuum, etc)

Steven Goldman: I don't know how well these comebacks work out after such long layoffs -- Johnson hasn't managed in the bigs since 2000 and he'll turn 66 in January. I guess my main touchstone is Earl Weaver in 1985/86, though that team just wasn't going to be turned around, even by Earl is his prime. The Brewers are definitely going to take a hit for being CC and Sheets-free, though they should still be viable. But yeah, Davey would have been a better fit this year. Melvin did a really poor job there, just noticing he had a poor manager with two minutes left on the season clock.

rich (NJ): How many bunt attempts (regardless of whether or not they're successful) would it take to force teams to modify or abandon their ridiculous shift on Jason Giambi. How many times does the Giambino have to ground out to deep right field before he or his team figures this out?

Steven Goldman: Very few, unless he's just incapable of dropping one on the line. If he could do it, it would represent a short-term sacrifice of power for a long-term gain of overall offense.

carp1626 (Warrensburg): Brien Taylor? Never heard that story, please tell.

Steven Goldman: Taylor was the #1 overall pick in the 1991 draft, a high school southpaw with great stuff taken by the Yankees. He went ahead of Dmitri Young (#4), Manny Ramirez (#13), Cliff Floyd (#14), Shawn Green (#16), and several other future major leaguers. As with many hard-throwing young lefties, he struggled with control, but he was definitely projectable, reaching AA at 21. Unfortunately, that winter he got into a bar fight and was thrown down on his pitching arm. He missed a full year recovering, and when he came back he just had nothing left.

...You know what's interesting about that? I never thought about this before, but the Yankees left Taylor throw a million pitches at 20 and 21 (160 innings each year with tons of walks and strikeouts). I wonder if his arm would have fallen off even without the bar fight.

Aaron (YYZ): Glad I wasn't the only one fearing injuries in that dogpile last night.

Steven Goldman: Non-sequitur: I wish I could play the guitar like Leo Kottke. The Nyro concert has given way to a Kottke track called "When Shrimps Learn to Whistle." Unfortunately, I can only play the guitar like me, which is more like Paula on "The Magic Garden" than Leo. Ooh - two things in the in box here I have to get to.

Steve (Clearwater, FL): "The problem is that those questions are almost inevitably solipsistic in a chat setting that isn't wholly devoted to fantasy issues." I kid you not - as I read that sentence, a track from The Solipsistics came up randomly on my iPod. I couldn't even begin to calculate the odds that this seldom-used word and seldom-heard band would converge in such a fashion. (And it wasn't as if I had the full Solipsistics disc on my iPod - it was just one track).

Steven Goldman: We ride the synchronicity freeway here at BP. Solipsistic is a very handy word to have in your arsenal, especially when considering the work of many singer-songwriters.

Aaron (YYZ): Mr. Goldstein, I need you to tell me whether Wilmer Flores or Kelvin De Leon is the better prospect longterm! ;)

Steven Goldman: Have to keep the tradition going. Call me ISHMAEL, damn it!

saucyjack88 (Vancouver, BC): Kevin, I have fivethirtyeight and BP as my first two bookmarks; what should be number three?

Steven Goldman: "Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?"

Can you name that quote?

saucyjack88 (Vancouver, BC): Hi Steven, I have BP and fivethirtyeight as my first two interweb bookmarks; what should be number 3? Thanks!

Steven Goldman: Ah, that's better. Do you mind if I plug wholesomreading.com one last time for my own political commentary and analysis? Thank you for the opportunity!

...Just a couple more now.

Frank Leja (DC): Varitek; who signs him, how much/years?

Steven Goldman: Who has a big hole at catcher and believes so strongly in veteran leadership that they'll overlook Varitek's finished bat? How about the Reds, two years?

dptydwg420 (NYC): Full metal jacket baby.

Steven Goldman: This fellow and saucyjack88 got it at the same time. Can't tell you how many times I've seen that.

collins (greenville nc): Full metal jacket! And I just want to second (or third) the earlier posts: I do want to see stuff about the dead ball era (and any other) on YCLIU.

Steven Goldman: There are a myriad of topics out there, so it's not like we have to go dead ball all the time. Sometimes, though, it's a useful time to look at. I would hate to slam the door on any particular era just because it felt a little foreign. Maybe what I'll do for tomorrow is the 1915 Phillies vs. the 2008 club, or maybe a face-off among the various Phils WS teams. How does that sound?

Aaron (YYZ): Since we're lacking in video game questions, any thoughts on the whole LittleBigPlanet delay?

Steven Goldman: That's a PS3 game, right? I'm strictly a PC man, sorry to say. I vented so many hours of my youth on Atari 2600 and Colecovision that I figure I've used up my allotment.

Andrew T. (Baltimore, MD): Re: Giambi shift -- that's pretty much exactly what Carlos Pena did in the ALCS. After Pena successfully beat out a bunt single (in game... 3, I think it was?), Youkilis moved to the infield grass but the Sox kept the shift on.

Steven Goldman: I don't think you can change the thinking about you in one postseason game. You'd have to do it randomly throughout the regular season, in recognition of the places where the baserunner was perhaps worth giving up the possibility of the HR.

Chad M (Madison, WI): Bob Brenly has been named as a possible manager for the Brewers. What do you think of Brenly as a manager?

Steven Goldman: I thought he was very, very lucky to have won a WS. One of the worst jobs of tactical managing I've ever seen.

Steven Goldman: My friends, we've spent three hours together, too short a time for me, but other work calls to me with urgency, including this YCLIU on the Phillies I've now promised about five times in this chat. I thank you for the many questions. Enjoy the World Series - I'll be back for our next in-game roundtable-and do your part for the economy by buying multiple copies of BP 2009! (Keep one, give the other to your mistress.) Once again, thank you for opting to spend part of your day with Baseball Prospectus and me.


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