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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday December 04, 2008 1:30 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.

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Fire up your personal Hot Stove and drop by to ask Joe Sheehan your questions about what's shaking and who's moving in off-season action.

Joe's chat has been moved to 1:30 p.m. ET.

Joe Sheehan: Putting the last touches on Mets' GM For a Day...bear with me...

cmd600 (Cleveland): Has there ever been any year-to-year correlation tests done on fielding numbers? How predictable can they really be?

Joe Sheehan: Fielding statistics are evolving rapidly, so I'm not sure where the testing of them is at the moment. I do believe that what newer fielding metrics have taught us is that defensive performance varies much more than, say, Gold Glove voting would indicate. Guys have good years and bad years, and even the best and worst players over time will bounce around within their range. We don't evaluate hitters by how they seem to hit, but by the runs their performances add. We need to shift to evaluating fielders the same way, even when that data makes us scratch our heads. When Paul Konerko hits .215/.290/.380, we don't say, "He actually had a good year, the numbers are wrong." We need to trust the best defensive metrics--and the ones that will improve upon them--the same way.

BeplerP (New York, NY): Joe, your "Dodgers GM for a Day" piece was terrific, and I believe worthy of doing for every team over the period until pitchers arrive? What do you say? This is why I LOVE MY BP! Regards,

Joe Sheehan: The problem is the once teams start making moves and players sign, it's hard to write to the format. I may keep it up with some of the quieter teams post-meetings. Mets will be up soon, I'll try and bang another out for tomorrow and one or two if events stay slow next week.

workermonkey (CT): any chance of seeing BP TV on the new MLB network? stats aren't exactly exciting but it'd be nice to have some talking heads who know thier stuff and can back up thier talking points. Maybe some guest appearances, the MLB tonight show sounds like there will be a lot fo time to fill.

Joe Sheehan: The current answer is "no," and I'll readily admit I'm posting the question in the hopes that over time someone at a broadcast network will give this a shot.

You have 168 hours to fill every week. Give one of them to the hardcore seamheads and see what happens. Maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe it ends up a disaster and people watch anyway. But if you stuck Casey Stern between some baseball equivalent of Ron Jaworski and Keith Law, you'd have something very, very watchable.

Alan (N.C.): Hi Joe, What are your thoughts on Micah Owings and Clay Buchholz (for a keeper league)? Thanks! Alan

Joe Sheehan: There's a big gap between the two. Owings is a midrotation guy, maybe slightly less, who can hit well enough to make that a real part of his value. Buchholz is a #2 starter in the making, someone who's going to win 150 games.

Kevin (San Jose): How should I feel about this Renteria deal? Seems like they could have found better uses for $18.5M. Is it possible that Brian Sabean is more optimistic than I am about the Giants' potential over the next two years? If so, which one of us is more realistic given that I believe this year is a transition year that will see the Giants trading Winn, Molina, and possibly Rowand for prospects and salary relief?

Joe Sheehan: Giants shortstop is like Mariners DH. It was so ungodly bad last year that this signing might be worth four wins to them. Renteria has no range left, but if there's a team that might live with that, it's the one with Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez/Zito and Bumgarner/Alderson on the way. It's such a strikeout/flyball staff that your shortstop's glove won't mean that much, and Renteria can still hit.

Awful 2008 shortstops, no better solutions, they can survive his defense. It's a damn sight better than the Rowand deal.

ScotMartin (TX): Hey Joe, is it bad that I'm thoroughly skeptical of the owners not spending money because of the economy? I've got a nagging voice in my head that says the economy is just a nice excuse for them to not give in to player salary demands without being accused of collusion. Thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: I don't know if "excuse" is the word, but sure, it's a weapon to wield in the PR battle, and if it could save you a few million bucks, use it. On the list of "lies MLB owners have told," it barely registers. I'd add that in markets where demand is fluid, there's some legitimate nervousness about 2009 local revenues. Not "fold the franchise/gut the roster" declines, but enough concern, especially given the unknowns as of today, to affect decisionmaking.

Justin (Chicago): Joe, is there a good reason why the Dodgers offered Blake arbitration and not Furcal? Given that Furcal is (seemingly) in higher demand than Blake makes this a head-scratcher of sorts to me.

Joe Sheehan: I believe it's because Furcal was neither a Type A nor Type B free agent, so there's no loss in not offering him arbitration.

Sky (The Roc, NY): Given the recent arbitration decisions and lack of much movement on the free agent front, are organizations getting wiser or stingier or both?

Joe Sheehan: A little more penurious, but a fair amount smarter. I have no qualms at all saying that the baseball industry is better run today, and it's not close, than at any time in history. Teams have simply gotten better at what they do.

Admin note: I'm going to be on MLB.com's "Fantasy 411" via phone with Cory Schwartz and Casey Stern in a few minutes. The chat will pause, and resume once they're done with me. Check them out at http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/radio/ .

chrisbral (NJ): Joe...I enjoy your appearances on the Max Kellerman show but they seem somewhat infrequent...can we expect any appearances in the near future?

Joe Sheehan: I was on with Brian Kenny at the start of the offseason, haven't been since. Love that show...BK and Max are prepared and love the give-and-take. Thanks for listening!

mgibson (DC): Have you given up on Chin-Lung Hu?

Joe Sheehan: Not defensively. He's the real deal. Offensively...the power we thought was there probably isn't, and I think you're now looking at a .270/.320/.350 guy. That can play, I think, with his glove, but he has to bat eighth and his down years will be really down.

Aaron (YYZ): I don't know if the Blue Jays made your list for "GM For A Day", but is there any good plan to take the best 4th place team ever, subtract the middle 3/5th's of their rotation, reduce their budget, and still have them get better?

Joe Sheehan: They, the Tigers, Reds and Cardinals are probably the next teams in the queue. I really think the Jays peaked last season with that fantastic pitching and defense. Unless everyone comes back quickly and healthy, and the offense takes that big leap forward--that actually could happen--you're the fourth-best team in the division.

ssteadman (St. Louis, MO): As a White Sox fan, I don't know how to take the Vasquez trade: it feels like selling low on him and blowing it up for this year, with the hope that Flowers becomes the next Piazza, but at the same time, Kenny Williams has a history of selling off pitchers at a good time (Freddy Garcia, Faustino de los Santos, etc.)...so really, I'm torn. I guess the real question is, based on the fact that there are only three legitimate starting pitchers wearing black next year, could we see Ozzie boldly try a four man rotation? If there's any manager in baseball bold enough to do it, it's got to be him, right?

Joe Sheehan: The White Sox have a fairly extensive track record of finding guys to give them 30 decent starts, so you could argue that Vazquez is replaceable in a way that Tyler Flowers won't ever be. I really like that trade for the White Sox, which is part loving Flowers, part still liking Lillibridge, and part thinking Kenny Williams is a savvy guy.

411 time.

basicslop (Alb): Does Adam Dunn's value drop far enough for a team like the Royals to take a run for him? How much does he end up signing for?

Joe Sheehan: Not sure what the Royals need with another LF/DH type. If you tell me they'll trade or release Jacobs, sure.

jgalt73 (Portland, OR): If you're the Cubs GM for the day, do you trade away Vitters (plus) for Jake Peavy?

Joe Sheehan: Nope. The Cubs' strength is pitching, and their edge on that division is real. Adding another front-end starter at that price doesn't make enough of a difference to trade their best prospect.

Sky (The Roc, NY): Joe, which free agent DH falls to the Rays for $8MM a year? Burrell would be ideal, no?

Joe Sheehan: It was Floyd last year, as we all waited for them to sign Bonds. They'll be patient, but as you look at them for '09, they're a team that would get a bounce from some .360/.520 guy to bat fifth and DH all the time. Mixing and matching isn't a bad play, but they have the payroll room and roster slot to do better.

wendy (madrid): So why do you schedule a chat when you're supposed to be on the radio? Or vice versa?

Joe Sheehan: I made a mistake.

paulbellows (Calgary): I'm not sold on getting rid of Delmon Young yet to make room for Denard Span. What would you do if you were Twins GM?

Joe Sheehan: The Twins could really use good players on the left side on the infield and some OBP. Young doesn't do either, and while his peak seasons are going to be impressive, he's never going to be one of the best hitters in baseball. Find the team that sees the BA and power potential, doesn't see the so-so defense/positional value or lack of walks, and convert him. It's not "to make room for Denard Span," so much as it is to make the overall talent better, to win more games. That deal may not be there, but I'd certainly try and find it.

Shaun P. (Medway, MA): Joe, I just posted this as a comment in your Unfiltered post so refer there if need be: the Yanks had ~$65M coming off the books, less ~$9M to Marte and Swisher, less ~$24M to CC - which leaves $32M to play with, unless they want to increase payroll. That $32M disappears if they offered arb to Pettitte and Abreu (both would have accepted and won, IMO). I know the counter is, the Yanks don't have a payroll ceiling, but say (for sake of argument) they do. Doesn't this make not offering Abreu and Pettitte arb seem a lot more reasonable?

Joe Sheehan: It is the risk-averse position. I don't think they both would have accepted. It's not clear that Pettitte wants to play, so accepting limits his options. In Abreu's case, I have to figure there's a multi-year deal out there for him. Even if you're correct, the Yankees can sign Teixeira and just be $2x million over budget for a year. I do think they have some kind of ceiling, but if you go over it because two good players came back to you on one-year deals, you live with that kind of problem.

Again: an ATM with foul poles.

Mister Redlegs (Athens, GA): Who's the best option for the Reds to sign or trade for in left field: Milton Bradley, Jermaine Dye, Willie Harris, Delmon Young, or someone else?

Joe Sheehan: I have a thing somewhere half-written...five FAs I wouldn't sign...Bradley's on the list. He's not durable, doesn't/can't really play the OF any longer, coming off a peak season. He was a good player at bouncing-around prices; at some 3/35 price, I'd pass. What about moving Encarnacion out there and getting a third baseman instead? Edwin's defense is that bad, no?

wilk75 (houston): Give me the abridged 1 paragraph Joe Sheehan solution for being the Houston GM for a day.

Joe Sheehan: Bailey's rocks, barbecue, a well-locked door and a very loud alarm at midnight.

SnakeDoctor18 (NY): Joe, what do you expect out of Hughes and Joba next year?

Joe Sheehan: 325 innings, 3.95 ERA.

Brian (Chicago): Regarding the MLBPA's reported pressure on Sabathia: Is there something about the relationship between the players and the union that ultimately would make it unthinkable for Sabathia to take the offer he wants to take, even if it's not for the most money, and tactfully tell the MLBPA to go pound sand?

Joe Sheehan: My god, I hope not. The MLBPA is within its rights, in fact doing its job, to make the case to Sabathia that the contract he signs could set a standard that will put more money in many other players' pockets. The idea that it goes beyond that to something more nefarious has never once seemed to me to be more than anti-MLBPA propaganda. Sabathia should sign where he wants for what he can get for whatever his reasons are.

mrgriffey (Lansing, MI): Joe, how long does it take you to write a column like the "GM for a Day" ones (including research time)? Do you crank them out in a couple of hours or is this an all day project? Just wondering...I'm sure it takes more time than most people would think.

Joe Sheehan: The "GM For a Day" pieces are among the longest I do in terms of time. It's just so easy to miss a solution, and I'm certain that were it my job to run the Dodgers or Mariners or Mets, rather than all three in a week, I'd find out I screwed up somewhere.

They're fun, though. I don't think I could do 30. Maybe next year.

KerryFam4 (Atlanta): Where do you see Jay Bruce winding up defensively? Can he do an adequate job in CF or will he shift to RF as soon as the Reds get a CF? For career value, would you rather have Bruce or David Price? Thanks.

Joe Sheehan: My natural antipathy towards pitchers will always make me answer "Bruce," although Price is the guy who gives me pause in that. I see Bruce as a right fielder who can and will play center until the better option emerges. He's not going to hurt the Reds out there, but he would be a plus right fielder, maybe win some awards.

belewfripp (Knoxville, TN): Hey Joe, Have you had an opportunity to look at THT's recent article discussing an improved version of identifying under- and over-performers via BABIP? I read through it and am thoroughly convinced it is a much better model than the old method.

Joe Sheehan: I have not.

I picked this question so I could mention THT's new book, which I have seen and enjoyed. It's a review of 2008 more than a preseason annual--which you'd expect at this time--and it is well done and highly entertaining.

CC Sabathia (Milwaukee): Joe, What uniform will I be wearing when I toe the rubber on opening day 09'? I'm lost as could be...

Joe Sheehan: I think it will be the Yankees. The way I've been answering the question is that I don't know if it will be them, but if it's not, he will be leaving money on the table. The Yankees will have the highest bid by...something in the eight-figure range, right or wrong.

SnakeDoctor18 (NY): Joe, what do you think the Yankees plan is for the outfield in 09'? As a fan, I think I rather see swisher or a signed abreu back in right rather than Nady as a 155 game starter. Why not play swisher there and sign teixeira? Any chance of that?

Joe Sheehan: It's the plan I've been advocating all offseason. Mark Teixeria is the best FA since Alex Rodriguez's first time around. If the Yankees think Xavier Nady, who just had a BABIP spike for two months and was Xavier Nady otherwise, is an everyday corner outfielder in the AL, they're insane. He's just a guy, and exactly the type of guy--not someone who has good ABs--who they had too many of last year.

Mark Teixeira (Los Angeles): Joe, I kind of want to be a Yankee. Why won't they do the smart thing and offer me the 160 million, instead of CC?

Joe Sheehan: I'm just piling on now. This whole thing irritates me. Teixeira >>>>> Sabathia, and the Yankees need offense and defense more than pitching.

BP Fan (Vegas (soon)): Who will be representing BP at the Winter Meetings? Also, when can we expect the Mets GM for a Day to be posted?

Joe Sheehan: Kevin, John, Will, Joe. I love being the lightweight on our team.

I filed it about 1:45 or so, so it'll go up this afternoon.

Hawkeye (ND): If Baltimore nabs Felix Pie is he getting more AB's than he would in Chi town? Is the Balt OF Scott/Pie, Jones, Markakis or do Pie and Jones share CF???

Joe Sheehan: Acquiring Pie doesn't make sense given that they have Jones, because Jones > Pie in CF, and Pie's bat won't carry left field. I'm not sure there's any match here any longer.
Adam Jones doesn't have to share anything.

karp62 (Upstate NY): Joe, recent rumors have discussed Jack Wilson to the Dodgers for Hu and Delwyn Young. You've talked about Hu, but what about Young? Does he have any future beyond a bench role?

Joe Sheehan: I don't believe so.

bjealous (NYC): Joe- Any thoughts on the Jack Wilson rumors? Not sure if any names have emerged from the Tigers, but Hu is getting mentioned consistently from the Dodgers. Would Wilson for Hu straight up (presumably with some cash going to the Dodgers, which would be ironic) work for both teams?

Joe Sheehan: Yes. I'd like to know when Jack Wilson became more desirable than world peace, and why, if so many teams like him so much, all the proposed trades suck. It's like watching that peanut commercial with the chick who looks like Will, but all the guys are swooning over her.
Mets piece is up.

Scott (Detroit): Why are the Twins so willing to unload Delmon Young after only one season? Follow-up: what's the trade value for him--someone like Homer Bailey, or more like Matt Cain (or Matt Garza)?

Joe Sheehan: Argh. Got a call and lost my answer to this...his value is between them, but if the Twins trade for a pitcher, Smith should be fired. Sand to the beach, and all that.

Nate (St. Louis): How does the K. Greene signing improve the Cardinals? Is he a better option than Felipe Lopez? Enjoy your calls into Bernie Miklasz's radio show every Tuesday.

Joe Sheehan: Oh, sure. Even if Greene isn't quite at his peak, there's a 30-, 35-run defense between the two players' gloves. Felipe Lopez is a utility player, not a middle infielder. He cannot be allowed to start much up the middle.

Jim (iowa city): Is there any sentiment among the players to revise the compensation system? If I am a player like Varitek, then it seems to me that a team might be less willing to giving up a draft pick, even a first or second rounder, to sign me. That limits the market considerably. This would not be an issue for the true stars of the league, just those who aren't really that good.

Joe Sheehan: Yeah, that's the entire point behind the compensation system, to make free agents more costly to a signing team, and therefore less valuable. There was a strike over it in 1981 (and I need to remember that many, many readers have no active memory of that summer). The system has more or less worked as intended, with the caveat that draft pick loss isn't a significant enough deterrent in most cases.

Brecken (Chicago): Following up on the great Unfiltered post, I think there may be more "games" played when teams decide to not offer arbitration. I thought I remembered Pettitte in particular not wanting to be arb'ed so he would be freer to move. There's also been the discussion of how close Wood and Hendry are. I wonder if they may also have had another agreement - Wood would seem to fit into Milwaukee's need, but there's been no buzz there. Maybe they agreed to let him loose if he agreed not to go to one or two other teams (Mets also?) All part of that "We don't know what goes on behind the scenes" article you wrote last month.

Joe Sheehan: Yeah, and Rany had a thing on his blog about the Royals/Grudzielanek decision. I have no doubt that in some percentage of cases, there are side agreements. Guessing which ones...eh, I don't know.

dogtothedog (Toronto): Is J.P doing anything? have you heard Toronto being involved with anyone?

Joe Sheehan: Nothing so far as I've heard, but I'm sure John Perrotto will be keeping us posted over the next week.

The Goat (Chicago): Will the Cubs win a playoff game in 2009?

Joe Sheehan: Yes.

Lightning round.

wrightfan5 (Silver Spring, MD): As someone whose fandom exists outside the confines of Red Sox Nation, it seems to me that Pedroia's new contract benefits the club rather than the player. Don't get me wrong, 6-for-40 is nice money for playing a kid's game, but couldn't it be argued that he's *worth* more?

Joe Sheehan: For the individual, it's trading off upside for security. He's 25 and guaranteed $40 million, and I'd argue that his negotiating position will never again be higher, so he maximized that position for someone who wasn't going to have market leverage for another four seasons.

I'd like to have the choice, is all I'm saying.

Jay (Philly): Jason Donald plus a little more for Delmon Young to replace Pat the Bat? Did you see Donald play in Arizona?

Joe Sheehan: Tweener. The glove's a bit shy for shortstop, the bat's not great for 2B or 3B. I wouldn't trade Young for him, although it's an interesting idea.

Alf (Los Angeles): You seem to be down on CC Sabathia. Is it because he's a pitcher who's going to command Many Years/Many More Dollars, or because of CC himself? I mean, if you ever want to sign a #1 starter, you're going to have to commit a lot of resources to do so. Is CC just not the guy?

Joe Sheehan: We had a long talk--some lightning round, huh?--the other day on our mailing list, and to sum it all up, I'm convinced that Sabathia's weight/body type will have a negative effect on his availability and performance at some point down the line, probably as he turns past 30. I do not have sufficient data to back up this premise, however, which leaves me in the awkward position of having an opinion I cannot support adequately. Nevertheless, that is the reason, over and above my standard "no long contracts" position, that I specifically doubt Sabathia's worth over a long contract.

basicslop (Alb): What other teams are you going to be GM for a Day for?

Joe Sheehan: As many as it takes to be upgraded to GM For Two Years. A boy can dream.

(Two, three more, I think.)

Scott (Detroit): Best free agent to realitically sign in this range: 3yr/30million?

Joe Sheehan: Abreu or Wood.

Sam (Des Moines): Is Ryan Ludwick going to make another all-star team?

Joe Sheehan: Only in the event he makes it the Mike Sweeney/Ryan Zimmerman way, by being the viable option on a bad team.

Lincoln (Dallas): Which team(s) can put themselves into playoff contention with a few shrewd moves this winter meetings/offseason?

Joe Sheehan: The Reds are my stock answer to this. The talent base is good and their needs dovetail reasonably well with what's on the market. Maybe also the Mariners.

Chuck (Chicago): If you were Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, would you trade Ryan Ludwick for Yunel Escobar and, presumably now that Greene is there, put him at second base? Interesting and highly-rumored potential deal.

Joe Sheehan: In general, I would trade Ryan Ludwick. His value will never, ever be higher, and if you can get, forget Escobar, but even Kelly Johnson and a stocking stuffer, you make that deal. Easy.

Brandon (Charleston): Is Chris Dickerson capable of OPSing .800 in 2009?

Joe Sheehan: I don't think so, but I should mention that my friend Jason Grey over at ESPN.com gave me a very long list of reasons why he thinks he could, and Jason's more familiar with him than I am.

Joe Sheehan: I need food. Thanks very much for your patience today. I'm on the schedule next week sometime from Vegas, and I'll make that a a long one.


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