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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday June 03, 2004 1:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.

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Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Joe Sheehan:

Mike Morley (Philadelphia): The Phillies are in 2nd place, only two games behind the Marlins. So why is everyone calling for Larry Bowa's head?

Joe Sheehan: test

Alex (Houston): If walks are so valuable, then why do y'all dis Sabean for not binging in a good hitter to compel more pitchers to challenge Bonds? Wouldn't Bonds be significantly less valuable if he were pitched to more often?

Joe Sheehan: I think I wrote this in 2002, but Bonds may "break" our offensive models. His walks come in many situations in which a walk has little or no runner-advancement value. Plus, the gap between his .360 BA and .800 SLG when he doesn't walk, and what the Giants get from the other guys in the lineup, is so big that his walks have a staggering opportunity cost.

Plus, it doesn't matter who the best player on the team is; when the second-best is an aging Ray Durham, the GM has failed miserably.

menechinofreek (Modesto,CA): What deals do you think Billy B is going to bust out at the deadline, and do you think Blanton, Koonce or Dan Johnson will be involved. P.S. You Friggin' rock Joe.

Joe Sheehan: Hey, it works!

Given that Scott Hatteberg's contract has a while to run, and they love Erubiel Durazo, I would think that Johnson would be on the market. I can't see Koonce having much trade value; he's 29.

As far as Blanton goes, I think Beane has the flexibility to trade a pitcher for a second baseman or left fielder. I've advocated trading Barry Zito, but I doubt that will happen, which leaves Blanton or Rich Harden. In either case, they should be able to get an excellent return.

I think the A's could actually upgrade without moving Harden or Blanton. Would getting, say, Ronnie Belliard and Matt Lawton from the Indians cost that much? Perhaps an Orlando Hudson/Frank Catalanotto package from the Blue Jays, especially given the teams' relationship?

Rick (Madison, WI): Is there any market at all for Brandon Larson and/or Wily Mo Pena. Perhaps the pair with another prospect to Pittsburgh for Benson if Lindner decides to open his wallet this summer? Any other possibilities?

Joe Sheehan: Larson is 28 years old, injury-prone of late, and has a career line of .177/.226/.301, so I'd say he has no trade value. Pena...certainly the Reds act like he does, with their refusal to try and pass him through waivers. I don't know why the Reds would chase Benson, though; he's far overpriced, and not likely to be much better than Matt Belisle.

While I'm here...Pena's mean PECOTA projection, the one we all had some fun with, was .269/.338/.506.

As of this morning, he's hitting .279/.333/.541.

I'm just sayin'...

Pablo (So Cal): With David Espinosa's return to prospect status, where would he place among the other Tiger OF prospects, Ross, Granderson & Clevlen?

Joe Sheehan: Ross is now with the Dodgers, sent away for Steve Colyer. Granderson is probably the best fielder of the group, while Clevlen is striking out once a game in A ball, which is disheartening. None of these guys are better than B-/C+ prospects right now, despite Espinosa's resurgence.

Monday is a VERY important day for the Tigers, who need a good draft as much as any team in baseball.

nbulling (Lafayette, IN): The NL Central has 5 teams within 2 1/2 games of the best record in the NL. How can you say they have no exceptional teams?

Joe Sheehan: Pretty much by definition, a group of teams clustered together cannot include an exceptional one. There are some good teams in there, all with flaws, none likely to reach 95 wins, much less 100.

David (Palo Alto): Joe, Why is it that Baseball America is so down on A's prospects. They claim that the farm system is thin. However if you review the statistics, the A's have quite a few prospects (pitchers and position) at every level, such as Johnson, Blanton, Lehr, Swisher, Teahan, Baker, Ethier, Knox etc...

Joe Sheehan: If you think about it, it makes sense. The A's draft from almost a completely different subset of baseball players than most of baseball does. That subset is largely unimpressive to scouts, and by extension, to BA's impressive network of sources, reporters and writers, nearly all of whom have a skills-analysis frame of reference.

I don't think there's an agenda there, but I'd be surprised if, in any given year, that BA was excited about the A's farm system. The two entities just don't evaluate young baseball players the same way.

misterjohnny (Los Angeles): In your opinion, what newspaper has the best baseball coverage? I know it can't be the L.A. Times.

Joe Sheehan: I don't read enough newspaper sports pages to be an authority, but I think the New York Times does a decent job. The K.C. Star (hmmm...I think it's the Star) and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have guys doing good work.

It's just the Devil Rays, but it looks like Johan Santana has finally shown up.

kj8davis (Reno): As currently configured, do the Giants have any chance at the West?

Joe Sheehan: No. The nine-game winning streak looks a lot less impressive when you consider the opposition, which was arguably the two worst teams in the NL and the fourth-worst. They just won't score enough runs to support a lousy rotation. Even if you set the bar at 87 wins, I can't see them getting over it without some amazing trade rip-offs.

nickyp7702 (hudson, ma): When Nomar returns, would it be better for the Red Sox to play Bellhorn at 2B and Youkilis at 3B, or Bellhorn at 3B and Pokey at 2B? Furthermore, what do you think the Sox WILL do, because a lot of local media and sports fans can't get past Bellhorn's low BA and Pokey's "smoothness" that they can "see" making him a better choice, which always annoys me. Thanks.

Joe Sheehan: I'd play Reese behind Derek Lowe and Bellhorn against everyone else, which has been my position since December.
The other Sox starters just don't throw enough ground balls to justify giving up the offensive difference between Reese and Bellhorn.

I think the Sox will start Reese at 2B in at least three games of five, maybe four, with Bellhorn starting the other(s) and getting 2-3 starts at third base. If Mueller returns, well, I guess you can take some ABs from Kevin Millar, Gabe Kapler and Brian Daubach and give them to Bellhorn, at least until Trot Nixon comes off the milk cartons.

Josh (Bridgeport, IL): Yesterday, you wrote that Giambi would be your first choice at 1B in the AL ASG, despite better years so far by Harvey and Martinez. How are either of those players having a better year than Frank Thomas?

Joe Sheehan: Lost of Frank Thomas questions...Thomas is out-hitting all of the candidates for the All-Star slot. He also hasn't played the field yet this year, and that has to count against him. Giambi has played a lot of DH, but he's at least played the position.

I wouldn't have a problem with him being the starter, but I can't vote for him there when he hasn't actually played there this year. If I was going to start that fight, it'd be at shortstop.

Elton (The Netherlands): I and (I'm guessing) most other impartial observers would predict that Oakland will end up winning the AL West this year. Do you agree and if so, how confident are you in Beane and the A's?

Joe Sheehan: I think there was a fairly even split between people touting the A's and Angels, and the two teams have played to that expectation. Heck, I flip-flopped up through the last few days of March, and I think the staff predictions have one team and my preview column the other.

(You could argue that the Angels have been better than the A's, because they've lost more to injury up 'til now, but that presumes that losing Darin Erstad was actually a hindrance.)

Anyway, I think this race could come down to the trade deadline, which should be a fascinating battle between Billy Beane's established trading acumen and Arte Moreno's apparent willingness to spend whatever it takes to win.

"Allard? You have calls on lines one and two."


aowen2003 (New York): Where's the love for Melvin Mora?

Joe Sheehan: Presumably at home, with the quints.

He's having a monster season, even while doing very shaky on-the-job training at third base. I suppose the only thing to be wary of is a persistent, massive first-half/second-half split over the past couple of years.

Alex (Houston): Is there ever a situation in which you would advise using the services of Jose Viscaino in a MLB game?

Joe Sheehan: Vizcaino isn't a bad utility infielder. He's a switch-hitter who usually runs a decent OBP, has a little speed, and can actually play shortstop. Like a lot of guys, he's worth the roster spot, just not the money or the organizational commitment he's receiving.

If he was 24 and making $300K, we'd call him an asset.

That said, the next time he starts ahead of Morgan Ensberg, I'm sending in the artillery.

Tristan Cockcroft (fantasyland): Joe, Can you believe Vlad Guerrero slipped to the 15th pick in my fantasy league? He's gotta be the leading MVP candidate at this point, doesn't he?

Joe Sheehan: VORP says it's him and Mora neck-and-neck, although Mora has been pretty bad at third base, which counts against him. I think Vlad was my preseason MVP pick, so the blind squirrel is at least in the same zip code as the acorn, at least for now.

Tristan, can I assume that the Girl Scouts you were drafting with provided cookies?

Seriously, many people were scared off by Guerrero's back problems. Props to Will Carroll, who was all over this and said that he'd be fine as long as he followed his stretching regimen.

SeattleSlew (NJ): THe Red Sox will resign which player?

Joe Sheehan: How about "none"?

In order of ability...

The idea that Derek Lowe should even be considered with the other three guys is a joke. He's had, what, two good seasons in the majors, one as a short relievers, the other has a starter with a good defense behind him. He doesn't strike out nearly enough guys to be successful in the long term.

He's a #4 starter, an innings guy, and guys like that were going for two years at $3MM per last winter.

Nomar Garciaparra is a great guy and a potential Hall of Fame shortstop. He's had enough health issues that you have to worry about giving him a long-term contract, however.

In a market with Edgar Renteria, I see no reason why the Sox should be overly concerned with signing Garciaparra. Renteria is probably going to get less money and be a better player.

Jason Varitek is the guy I'd target, because he's got the best chance of providing value for the money, and because he isn't likely to require a four-year deal.

I wouldn't sign Pedro Martinez, given what the terms are likely to be, if you let me pay with Monopoly money. Maybe he's not done, but he's not a top-15 guys any longer, and that's the money he'll be demanding.

kevin (takoma park, md): Whenever I read about a potential trade for Carlos Beltran, the assumption is that multiple high-potential players will come to KC in return. Why? If Beltran is guaranteed to test the free agent market in 2005, I think his trade value now is 1 potential star and 1 solid player.

Joe Sheehan: That sounds about right. I can see the Royals getting one major-league-ready B+/A- prospect, and one other guy who's either close to the majors and lacks upside, or deeper in a system with more potential.

Of course, what often happens is that instead of taking two tens for a twenty, a team gets two fives and a couple of singles. Almost always, a team is better off acquiring ONE real prospect than a slew of lottery tickets.

newsense (MD): PECOTA and a poor spring training predicted that Shinjo Takatsu would be a disaster for the White Sox. But he's been lights out. Any idea why?

Joe Sheehan: In 20 innings, anything can happen. I haven't seen him pitch yet, but just a glance at his line tells me he seems to be giving up very few hits for a guy with his strikeout rate, so I'm guessing he's gotten good defensive support.

Seriously, 20 innings is nothing.

Lightning round...

Josh (Chicago): I know it's early, but is Wily Mo Pena evidence that PECOTA can predict the apocalypse?

Joe Sheehan: Yes. Weighted mean is July 13, 2341, with a 90th percentile of September 17, 3673.

I'd tell you the 10th percentile, but I fear the consequences for our society.

Joaquin Hoff (Kingston, Ontario): Joe, do you think Pedro's struggles are due to a mechanical flaw caused by the fork sticking out of him?

Joe Sheehan: Not sure, but you owe Bill Simmons a dollar.

Bill (Princeton): What do expect from Alexis Rios this year and is he up for good? Also, do you see the Jays playing .500+ ball the rest of the way?

Joe Sheehan: Rios was playing through an injury at Syracuse, so I don't know what we'll get from him now that he's up. The Jays had been using Dave Berg as a platoon guy in the corners, so I have to figure that as long as Rios can make it to the park on time, he'll get the rest of this year to acclimate himself to the majors.

The one benefit of the Jays' lousy start is that they can get on with the business of 2005.

Derek Lowe (Boston): I've had more than two good years, bub. And what's with that "short reliever" crack? Were you in a coma while I was logging over 100 innings in relief?

Joe Sheehan: Three years around six WARP, one at 7.5, one at 11. I stand corrected on the course of your career.

I still think you're a lot closer to Jason Johnson than Randy Johnson.

SeattleSlew (NJ): Will the Dodgers ever begin their rebuilding process already?

Joe Sheehan: Edwin Jackson says, "Hi."

The Dodgers aren't far behind the Tigers as far as "teams that need to have a strong draft" go. I'm very interested to see DePodesta's first draft away from the A's, and how the performance-draft principles manifest themselves in L.A. It might be the most interesting draft storyline.

Scot (NY): Nice to see PECOTA is doing well with Pena. As a counterpoint, care to mention the Expos projections?

Joe Sheehan: Massively wrong park factors explain much of it. Brad Wilkerson screwed one of my fantasy teams, too.

Don't worry...at BP's annual pow-wow, the agenda item for 4:30 p.m. on Day Two is "blanket party for Nate Silver."

tfullerrex (NY, NY): Any comment on the scam that Mondesi pulled on the Pirates? Granted, the Pirates were happy to be rid of him, but what kind of precedent does this really set for others? Thanks

Joe Sheehan: Virtually none. I'm not defending what Mondesi did, but it's a reach to think we'll have a spate of players leaving their teams in an effort to make themselves free agents. "Syndicate ownership" is the 1890s meme making the rounds, not "revolvers."

(Proud of me, Steve?)

dorkus14 (San Diego, CA): Johan Santana has lost it just as quickly as he has shown up...

Joe Sheehan: True. I don't think I've seen the Twins bat in a while...I flip to the Yankee game, I come back, it's the top of the inning.

Last two...

SeattleSlew (NJ): Is "Great" Pedro ever going to show himself again, or are we watching a spectacular free fall?

Joe Sheehan: I can see him settling in at a 3.00-3.50 ERA level, with a need to be babied. The guy who made you buy a ticket is gone.

reggio (Cranford, NJ): Is Todd Zeile that longest tenured league average player, or what?

Joe Sheehan: Quite possibly. Zeile's been ridiculously consistent in a variety of roles, and has never really had a lousy season. I thought he was done a while ago, but he can still pound lefties and play a corner.

Joe Sheehan: Thanks for putting up with the delay, and for all the great questions. I'll be back chatting before the All-Star Game.

Hope to see some of you at the Boston Pizza Feed on June 24!


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