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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday February 10, 2009 2:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.

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As we run up on camps opening and pitchers and catchers reporting, ask Christina your questions about the moves that were made or need to be made.

Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, sorry for the late start, just finished today's edition of TA and completing today's slate of content. But now the dingo's walked, theSTART's "Initiation" is blaring through the speakers, and I'm ready to talk about everything baseball-related, and maybe even this A-Rod nonsense, although the less of that, the better.

Dave W (Atlanta, GA): Christina, am I crazy to think that Felipe Lopez can consolidate his Cardinals' gains plus the fact that he only got a 1-year deal and put together a big season? I'm seeing an Alex Mogilny-esque salary drive here! Thanks as always!!

Christina Kahrl: I think we're definitely in Patsy Cline territory in getting too worked up over F-Lop, but that's me. Even though I think I touched on how I think he's got a reasonable shot at exploiting a move to the Banky Bank Bandbox in Phoenix because he was able to enjoy outsized benefits bopping in the Great American (Batting Practice) Ballpark, I think we need to keep from getting irrationally exuberant on the subject.

Aaron (YYZ): With the massive signing of Ryan Howard, are the Phillies stuck with having to hang on to him as he ages to support the high quality core of Utley, Rollins, Hamels? Or will they be able to stomach the idea of unloading him before his production falls off a cliff as he ages? (I'm convinced his decline will be just as swift as his ascent at the majors has been)

Christina Kahrl: I touch on this a bit in today's TA, but basically I think the length isn't unreasonable, although the value is probably unmovable. Relatively speaking, I'll take that trade-off; it isn't like they're stuck Helton-style the way the Rockies are for at least another three seasons (plus paying off a 2012 option for $4.6 million).

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Fastest way to have the annual in my hands? My local bookstore didn't get it in until the Saturday last year (meaning, I had to wait five days). Unacceptable. At some point, Dunn to the Jays would make a lot of sense no? Surely the Jays have some budget left? They haven't spent but peanuts--did their existing contracts really go up by that much?

Christina Kahrl: I've already heard that books are winging their way out from the publisher, so at this point stores and Amazon should be delivering in pretty short order.

Kamryn (Chicago): Where do you think Crede will land?

Christina Kahrl: I guess I've idealized his going to Minnesota. It would allow him to put the hurt on his former employers in divisional play, and it would give the Twins a player who I'd rather see filling in for a year than another spin with the Buscher-driven platoon variants.

jacobo2u (Philly): Thanks for talking my question! Which of the following do you think are the better keepers; justin upton, C hart, harang, kazmir, joba, or duchscherer??? thanks!

Christina Kahrl: Upton's top of that particular list, and Kazmir and Chamberlain are about as closely matched a pair of commodities for second-best as you might wish for. If you have a limit, those are the three you want. If you don't, I'd keep Harang, Hart, and Duchscherer, in that order.

MoJo (Washington, DC): Christina, I'm a long-time fan of your work but a first-time emailer. Do you see Fukudome bouncing back for the Cubs? I like the idea of his arm in center, if/when Bradley is healthy. Reed Johnson just doesn't do it for me as an everyday CF. Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: Hi MoJo, glad for the compliment, so many thanks. Yeah, there's something specifically Cubby cuddly about how Reed Johnson was taken to be a speed guy and a regular center fielder, two things he most obviously is not. I'm less excited about Fukudome in center than resigned to it, because there's nothing else to be done with him. It says something about how nova his star has gone that I think he's got to be the favorite over guys like Johnson and Joey Gathright.

MarinerDan (SF, CA): Adrian Beltre -- good value as a free agent next off-season?

Christina Kahrl: Assuming he can incorporate a real-world appreciation of the fact that his Mariners contract was not something he'll get in the market, even if Bill Bavasi improbably gets resurrected yet again, he might be. If he can live with the idea of accepting deals that'll be two years and an option, he'll have been pragmatic and should get a deal with can live with.

birkem3 (Dayton, OH): Beyond the team chapters, projections, and prospect rankings, what can we expect in the annual?

Christina Kahrl: Back of the book essays from Gary Huckabay, Neil deMause, and David Laurila, an explanation of Clay's new play-by-play defensive metric and adoption of a higher replacement level. Plus the usual fun stuff in the player comments and PECOTA rankings.

hdl327 (Montclair, NJ): Why are the Yankees getting rid of Bobby Abreu? He seemed to be so valuable in clutch situations.

Christina Kahrl: Even the Yankees decided they couldn't afford all options simultaneously; I think landing Swisher for a corner's a good fit for them, and with their upgrade at first base and (ideally) a healthy season from Godzilla at DH, they really didn't have the space or need for him at the price he was anticipating he'd command earlier this winter.

mwashuc06 (Utica,NY): Is Fernando Martinez the next Jay Payton and should the Mets sign Abreu to play in the outfield?

Christina Kahrl: I'm willing to give Omar Minaya a lot of credit for holding onto Martinez, but I also think there's no need to rush him to find out if he's just Jay Payton or perhaps closer to his top comp (the ubiquitous Bobby Abreu). As a result, I think it does make sense for the Mets to go get an additional outfielder, but that's in part because I wasn't a big Ryan Church fan before his mishaps, and I'm less so now. Filling one outfield corner with "staff" is fine, but both?

lnodolf (fillmore,ca): How does Noah Lowry fit into the Giants rotation and is he recovered from surgery?

Christina Kahrl: Lowry's supposed to be good to go coming into camp, but his peripherals were already going south on him before the injury. The decision to sign Randy Johnson crowds him out, because there's still a whole lot of Zito to live with, and Jonathan Sanchez has more upside than Lowry ever did.

Brecken (Chicago): Is it possible to get the ND-Hendry connection broken? Not sure how Heilman represents an improvement over Cedeno in choices..

Christina Kahrl: Yeah, I'm just not excited about that particular move, but since I also haven't sipped from the Samardzija Kool-Aid, and basically have an enduring distaste for Notre Dame because of the trans-sport fascination with modestly talented Domers--Ron Powlus? David Rivers? Just ugh.

Tim (DC): Christina, which multi-year contract given to a hitter this off-season will look regrettable within 18 months? Bradley? Teixiera? Howard?

Christina Kahrl: I'd pick Bradley, which is admittedly a bit gutless, but the guy's track record for getting hurt is remarkable, and while it might be cool if he turns into the latter-day Rodman who doesn't have to be the center of attention on a team already stocked with a lot of talent, it's also a bit of wishcasting. I hope he pans out, but I'm a skeptic.

Drew W (NoVA): How far can the A's go with a rotation of Duchscherer, Gallagher, Eveland, Braden and Gonzalez/Outman?

Christina Kahrl: A win total in the high 70s if the offense doesn't massively improve, which might put them in the race in the AL West nevertheless.

pele1212 (seattle): Shouldn't we just assume every player used some kind of performance enhancer?

Christina Kahrl: Isn't that an oxymoron? Were their performances enhanced? Can we prove it, or just guess? If we can't prove it, why bother?

Andrew (Fayetteville, NC): Hi Christina! Thanks for the chat. I remember hearing a while ago of a possible Chone Figgins/Jermaine Dye trade. Who do you think makes out better if that were to have gone down? Also, who pitches best this year in your estimation: Lackey, Santana, or Saunders?

Christina Kahrl: No problem Andrew, even with official A-Rod Week underway, what really matters is pitchers and catchers reporting, and here we are, getting to talk about baseball. I'd like that swap for the Angels quite a bit, even if Figgy fixes the Sox's hole in center (and in the leadoff slot). So, while there's value for both clubs, the Angels' definite need for help in the power department really would make this more of a win for them, although adding Dye to the outfield crowd would make the question of what to do with Little Sarge that much more problematic. Lastly, Santana. I like Lackey a lot, but the answer to that question is Santana every day of every week, leap year-inclusive.

Aaron (YYZ): Surely the Ibanez deal will look worse than the Bradley deal a year and a half from now.

Christina Kahrl: Sure, but it just as surely looks worse right now, and looked worse a month ago.

Gunpuddy (Nashville, TN): It seems like the Orioles have been pitching-prospect heavy for years, but nothing ever comes of it. This year there's Troy Patton, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Tillman. Is there any reason for hope or do we have to wait for 2010 and Brian Matusz?

Christina Kahrl: There's every reason for hope. Even if we set aside Matt Wieters--which we shouldn't--this should be the most interesting Orioles team in years. Adam Jones, Felix Pie, a real shortstop... that's going to be a good defensive team. The pitching should be a bit better to boot, although I guess the really interesting question isn't whether or not they have talent, it's whether or not Dave Trembley's the skipper who can sort it out and use it to good effect. Lurching from one in-season replacement to the next is no way to operate, but Trembley's track record hasn't moved in any particular direction, and on a team that needs to be serious about how it creates situations for its young pitching to succeed, we're going to have to see something here and now.

kramer (Hoboken, NJ): I took the A's to win the AL at 35:1 (figuring i would hedge my bet by betting on whoever they might play in the ALCS, should they make it that far.) good bet?

Christina Kahrl: Keeping in mind that I'm not much for gambling--am I the last American left who hasn't been to Vegas?--I'd say that's not too shabby.

Nolan Ryan (Texas): Talk me down from the ledge! Is Saltamachia gonna go Marte?

Christina Kahrl: Come back inside, those pigeons might get pecky. Salty's going to be fine, he just needs playing time and health.

BL (Bozeman): Reading anything good right now? Baseball division, or non-baseball division...

Christina Kahrl: I just finished Kashatus' "Connie Mack's '29 Triumph," which was nice, and especially effective in portraying the city and the period, and Peter Cozzens' interesting revisionist account of Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign, which I would highly recommend. Right now, I'm dipping into a bit of Kafka for palate-cleansing and Andelman's "A Shattered Peace" (on Versailles), before moving on to Lee Lowenfish's bio of Branch Rickey. I'm supposed to get the new novels by Dan Simmons (on Dickens' London) and Richard K. Morgan (featuring his latest strange blend of antiheroism) shortly, and figuring those will make light flight reading next month during the book tour.

Tim (DC): Christina, the Rangers looked poised to make a run in 2010 or 2011, yet the ALWest seems wide open. Given their OF/DH questions (Byrd/Cruz/Blalock) wouldn't signing Abreau to a 1-year deal make some sense for them? At worst, they could trade him @ the deadline.

Christina Kahrl: Excellent point, Tim, because I really was wondering if I was alone in seeing the Rangers as a team with some win-now potential because of a soft division and a pretty interesting collection of talent. I would think a one-year rental of Abreu would make all sorts of sense, but then I'd rather see them leave Young at short and take a one-year hit with Davis or Blalock at third (with the other at first).

Nathaniel (London): The Braves pitching depth come August. Lowe, Vazquez, Jurrjens, Kawakami, Hudson, Hanson. Its not out of the question that young guys like Reyes and Morton make the jump. Campillo is hanging around as well. Impressive?

Christina Kahrl: Notionally, although I'm not a big Morton believer. (A pity they traded Salty, that would have been one punny battery in the making.) But I'm just not a huge Vazquez believer, quite a few people think Jurrjens is going to lose ground, and Hudson's not going to be instantly ready. It's a good group, to be sure, but it's also what the Braves needed to be able to try to milk one last pennant out of the Chipper Jones era.

scott (chicago): i have not been to vegas, christina. and i live in chicago. lets not go to vegas ever. what do you think of c. quentin this year? injury shouldn't sap any power, right? can the sox win the central?

Christina Kahrl: Well, I suppose I can clarify that and say I've also not been to any of the Chicago-area casinos, which might be considered downright unpatriotic by state and local government. I think Quentin should be fine, and while some Sox fans might beg to differ, I'm not ruling out another modest run at the division. The Tribe and the Tigers both have issues of their own to resolve, and the Twins aren't exactly set up as world-beaters. It's a division with multiple fragile bids for contention, and no easy favorites. Considering how many things the Sox are working on this spring (a CF TBNL, Alexei's move to short, sorting out the entire infield and the back end of the rotation), it's sort of fun that they can nevertheless entertain reasonable hope and faith for their chances in 2009.

kingofstyle (NY): Is Boston ever going to get off their Varitek addiction? Is it worth trading Buchholz to get an adequate solution for the next few years?

Christina Kahrl: Given that Buchholz has some very real talent despite his case of the Ruffcorns as far as sticking, that's one of the choices the Red Sox are very sensibly trying to avoid until they absolutely have to live with it. I talked about it in today's TA in my coverage of the Varitek signing... I guess I don't see why you have to burn $5 million, just because Teixeira said "no thank you." As Steven Goldman noted earlier today in his bit, this isn't a club with perfect solutions across 1B/3B/DH should any of the first-rank guys falter, and they're counting on J.D. Drew to boot? I see a thicket of potentially overlapping offensive problems.

Mike (Niles, IL): Is it time to give up Rickie Weeks becoming a stud? Will he ever raise his batting average to a respectable level?

Christina Kahrl: I've been poor-mouthing Weeks for so long that I wonder if we all haven't over-corrected in his case. He's not as good as his most fervent believers, and that's a disappointment. I still think he could be a pretty awesome asset if you put him in center, but if last season's improvements at second stick, then he's a solid regular. That's a disappointment for people who expected stardom, but it's still worth having.

Jason (NY): Will we look back on 2009 as a lost opportunity for the Mets? Speaking specifically about not picking up another corner OF and apparently thinking that signing Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia's corpse is improving the rotation.

Christina Kahrl: It would complete the trilogy of lost opportunities, wouldn't it? Another one would pretty much make the Mets something like the new Red Sox in terms of historic fold-ups and inflicted agony in a major metropolitan area, no? I'm not busted up over Redding or Garcia--like Jay Jaffe pointed out earlier in his column today, that's not bad for a fifth starter selection--I'm more concerned that Oliver Perez and John Maine aren't consistent enough to flesh out the front four. Add in the faith in Church, the overvaluing of Snyder, going high on Luis Castillo... there's plenty to regret, but Omar's taste in fifth starters wouldn't be one of them.

jbuofm (peoria): Do the Cardinals have any tasty in-house options now that they've released Kennedy?

Christina Kahrl: Shame on me for filing my column just before starting the chat, because I touch on this a bit. Not time like the present for Jarrett Hoffpauir, but I also like the idea of making a modest, incentived-driven offer on Mark Grudzielanek on a one-year deal.

CharlieAdams (New York): Am I crazy for thinking that, even if Pavano is healthy, Laffey, Lewis and Huff are all better pitchers than him to begin with?

Christina Kahrl: You're not crazy, but it's a nice problem to have, and if Pavano can't earn his keep in the rotation, then it isn't going to cost the Indians very much to keep him around as a long reliever.

ed (NY): "Isn't that an oxymoron? Were their performances enhanced?" Huh? Why is that an oxymoron? Yes, we think some athletes performed better because they took these drugs; that means their performance were enhanced. Right?

Christina Kahrl: Wrong. That's the underwear gnomes' brand of reductionist logic. There's no study verifying that so-called PEDs enhance performance, or that they enhance performance so much. For example, take the McGwire situation--the question with McGwire might not be that using androstenedione enhanged his performance so much as that using it (to whatever extent) might have helped keep him on the field. Because we don't know how much these substances improve or even whether they improve performance, the terms "performance-enhancing" might be a bit of a misnomer. "Body-altering drugs" might be more properly correct, but even there, that isn't necessarily automatically true.

Yatchisin (Santa Barbara): That was Schneider, not Snyder in the Mets comment, no? Not that he's worth the extra letters...

Christina Kahrl: Yep, although I'm perhaps a too-obvious fan of extra consonants over pure phonetic representation.

eric (chicago): it's been a long, cold winter around these parts, christina. i work a crappy day job downtown (wabash&jackson), and it's been getting me down. will you (all) plz come visit the barnes & noble soon? any plans for a good discussion in the near future?

Christina Kahrl: Why yes, yes we will. As a matter of fact, I need to get the Events schedule updated, but some of us will be in Chicago signing books on March 18, while others will be at Georgetown that same day. Our favorite stop at Politics and Prose on DC's Northwest side will be on March 17, we'll be at the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey on March 1, and we'll be returning to the Bay Area and making our first-ever appearance in Seattle this year. Plus more dates besides.

P Bu (St. Louis): Have the comments and the level of discourse in them been what you all expected when you implemented them a couple of months ago? As always, thanks for the chat, Christina.

Christina Kahrl: I think they have, I really like some of the constructive criticism or frank disagreements I get from readers, because a big part of the fun is just the simple act of sifting through arguments and debating the relative merits of one move over another. I think it's pretty clear that our readers are an excellent sounding board and source of critical inquiry in their own right, and rising to the level of that audience is perhaps the most fundamentally important challenge that Baseball Prospectus has (and ideally does) answer, day after day.

shamah (NYC): For all the talk about A-Rod and the CF situation, it seems to me the biggest problem the Yankees face this season is catcher. We know Posada isn't good for a full season, so Jose Molina isn't a backup, he's a co-starter. Shouldn't they be looking to upgrade?

Christina Kahrl: They should, because just about everything is an upgrade on the Vince DiMaggio of the Flying Molinas. But as with a few too many pinstriped picks, this is a form over substance selection that doesn't really help them any, it's an entirely unnecessary handicap, and for a team that has punted on so many of the little things, an unfortunate addition to that particular litany of failure.

Rob (Alaska): Does Shin-soo Choo deserve the chance to be the everyday RF for Cleveland? Or not quite?

Christina Kahrl: No, but he's a pretty tasty platoon option. He's part of the solution, not the problem, when it comes to getting enough production from their outfield. The problem's in left, but we can hope that Matt LaPorta's ready to fix that at some point this summer.

krissbeth (watertown): Christian Guzman... is he really going to be as good as his projections say? Are his comps all late bloomers?

Christina Kahrl: I just have a very real problem with taking Cristian Guzman all that seriously, but happily, Jim Bowden keeps him locked down with the Nats, essentially making the question academic (or one for the realm of fantasy). Snark aside, he's come back better than I expected as a hitter, but his comps (Schoendienst, Julio Franco, Michael Young, and Grudz) are cause for continuing optimism.

ChrisLDuncan (Ames, IA): How on earth could you think that the Teixeira signing was a bad one? He filled a need that the Yankees have, and he will fill it long term...furthermore he was the best position player on the market, what's not to like?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think it was a capital-b bad deal, and yes, he was absolutely the player the Yankees needed right now, but the balance of his age, the deal's length, and the expense doesn't bode especially very well. He'll be very good for much of the deal, and an obvious asset, but he's being paid to be an MVP-caliber player for eight years, and he won't be.

g4baseball (sacramento): The Giants are one big stick away from contending. Who would you get if you were Sabean?

Christina Kahrl: I'd go for it and sign Manny or Dunn to the shortest duration deal you can get them for, and really see how that turns out.

MarinerDan (SF, CA): What is your long-term view of Franklin Gutierrez? Will he ever hit? Is his defense so good that it carries him into being an above average CF on the whole?

Christina Kahrl: I'm not a big believer that he'll hit enough against right-handers to be a really good regular, but between his defense and his ability to cream lefties, maybe he's sort of the poor man's Chet Lemon.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): This morning at breakfast my 10 yr old asked how many other baseball players are cheating besides A-Rod and Bonds. Any advice on what I should tell him at dinner tonight?

Christina Kahrl: Would that I had a good answer beyond "some." This isn't the sort of issue where I'm being flip, but that's the truth as far as we know, can know, and will ever really know. It's even more true for football, but I don't know why that doesn't have the same sort of traction in the Fourth Estate. It's true in sports across the world over. That's the real world, and while it isn't a happy thing, not all that is, is happy.

Like a number of my colleagues, I'm more troubled by the attention being paid to the A-Rod situation when we're fighting two land wars and the economy's a disaster.

John (Fiji): Hi Christina, what is your initial reaction to Braden Looper going to Milwaukee?

Christina Kahrl: Jeff Suppan 2.0 should be able to give them a moderate number of winnable ballgames. It won't be enough to put them in better shape for the NL Wild Card.

dogtothedog (Toronto): Hi Christina my friend read me my heroscope about a month ago and it said I will recieve very good news on Feb. 10th. I haven't got any yet. Could you tell me something awesome about the Jays?

Christina Kahrl: You're still tied for first place? Seriously, though, there are players to look forward to coming into view. J.P. Arencibia and Travis Snider, certainly, maybe Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero... we can all hope Aaron Hill's good to go, right, and there's nothing that say he can't right now this instant... OK, I'm stretching here. A little less than eight hours to go, maybe it's something non-baseball you're supposed to hear.

Ian Stewart (Colorado Springs?): PECOTA seems to like Garrett Atkins, at least at the plate. Where do I play?

Christina Kahrl: Infield and outfield corners in a sort of supersub's role. It would help if you hit a *lot* better against right-handed pitching.

BraveDave (DC): Will the Braves be able to get one of the top remaining OF for left field?

Christina Kahrl: I'm a little dubious, because they don't exactly have that reputation for getting to the postseason to offer to a veteran looking for a taste of October that might help make up for any financial disappointments in the offer.

jjcole (Houston): Do the Astros need to shop for a shortstop?

Christina Kahrl: The news on Miguel Tejada's being charged with lying to Congress has been breaking today, but we'll have to see if that means they're going shortstopless. They need a third baseman already, and they don't exactly have a fix at catcher or in center field... have I mentioned how broken this team looks?

mhawkins (Oxford, Miss.): "because they don't exactly have that reputation for getting to the postseason to offer to a veteran looking for a taste of October" Has it gotten that bad, that fast, for the Braves? I mean, they used to have that reputation. Have three years of the Phillies and Mets spending up a storm really changed the Braves' reputation that much?

Christina Kahrl: Three years is an eternity in sports, and the Braves haven't been especially close. They're sort of in the same place the Orioles were in, say, 1986. There comes a point where you have to say the dynasty's all the way in the rear-view mirror. To his credit, Frank Wren's kept up the team's tradition of making quality moves to make room for new talent, and the trade for Teixeira was a swell win-now move in 2007, but in point of fact, they've got bupkus to show for it as far as getting to October action. How far does offering a thirtysomething a contact high from playing with a potential Hall of Famer like Chipper Jones get you?

ericmilburn (San Francisco): Max Ramirez is a man with a big stick who wants to play against the big boys. When will he get his chance?

Christina Kahrl: Sooner, I hope, because he can rake. I can see him being part of the solution at DH when the next unscheduled absence for Hank Blalock comes up.

dianagramr (NYC): Christina .... at any time in your professional career, have you used a performance-enhancing drug? Is coffee performance-enhancing? Beer? Wine? Pizza?

Christina Kahrl: I admit it, I'm a coffee junkie. I get hopped up all the time on that stuff. The dingo even knows that I have to have my first hit before we head to the beach or the park, before I feed her, before anything. I'm not proud.

James Martin Cole (Boston): Any idea why teams don't frontload contracts more than they do? If I'm the Red Sox, and I'm willing to spend 20+ million this year on Tex, why not give Youk 20 million this year, 15 million next year, and only a couple million for the next few years. Wouldn't that make him more of an asset during his decline?

Christina Kahrl: I figure between inflation and the time value of money, most teams would rather have it the other way around, but it's an interesting question.

birkem3 (Dayton, OH): So you don't share PECOTA's optimism for the Braves? It has them tying the Phillies for the wild card.

Christina Kahrl: I'd wish they'd shore up their outfield. I've gone on record as to how much I love the Lowe deal, but I guess I still see the Mets and Phillies as the class of the division.

ironcityguys (NW OH): Is Chad Billingsley one of the 20 best starters in baseball? Can he front a postseason rotation effectively, or is he more like a #2 on a championship-level team?

Christina Kahrl: For the latter question, I think it depends on the matchup--Billingsley can own a right-leaning lineup--and to answer both in the affirmative, the progress that he makes against coming up with something more effective to throw to lefties is going to be critical.

Adam (Italy): With the AL West appearing so winnable, can the A's really afford to give Bobby "Bones" Crosby a season's worth of at-bats? And what better options are still out there (either in-house or via FA) besides the obvious one in Orlando Cabrera?

Christina Kahrl: It really does seem to be down to Cabrera, especially since so many of the Kathy Griffin D-listers (I'm looking at you, Adam Everett) are already under contract. But I guess I'm a little more sanguine, in that I'd be willing to risk Cliff Pennington for long stretches. The problem's more one of the additional questions over Eric Chavez's playability and availability, and how well Mark Ellis bounces back from his latest spin with the injury bug, because that's an entire infield's worth of unknowns that no amount of happy thoughts get to go away.

jmurph79 (DC): "Like a number of my colleagues, I'm more troubled by the attention being paid to the A-Rod situation when we're fighting two land wars and the economy's a disaster." Come on. We're talking about sports writers. You want Mariotti offering economic prescriptions?

Christina Kahrl: I don't know about you, but I noticed that somebody asked the President about it last night, and NPR's been giving the issue heavy play all day. The question Mark asked about his son is the really important one, to be sure, but I wonder about the media's ability to focus when you're talking about journalism's bailiwick purportedly covering all matters, but giving us A-Rod or celebrity-related nonsense. One of the things that BP was founded to do was to deliver quality coverage of an industry that needed it; that same mission is what the guys covering basketball are doing, or what Nate's team is doing on 538.com. Obviously, there's space in the market for better coverage than what the mainstream's delivering in perhaps any and ever segment, hence the proliferation and varying success of so many "new media" ventures; looking at their areas of focus right now when given the opportunity to cover everything there is on the globe, I think we can understand why that is.

Stephanie (DC): Is Willy Aybar one of the best guys to have on the bench?

Christina Kahrl: He's pretty handy to be sure, and I'm delighted to see how he got his past problems behind him and settled into giving the Rays the kind of multi-positional asset that most teams would love to have in their first infielder off the bench.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Hi Christina, sorry I'm joinng late. Based on the projections BP has posted, it looks like we'll be seeing some high scoring games in Camden Yards this year, with the Orioles scoring the second most runs in baseball and giving up the second most runs. Among the numerous suspects seeking to become a starter for the O's this season, do you see any diamonds (or other worthwhile objects) in the rough? I, for one, am marginally optimistic for Hill, Pauley, Albers and Penn.

Christina Kahrl: Hi Tom, no worries, always room for one more. As I touched on last week, I really like the Orioles' decision to take their chances with Hill, because there's a larger than zero chance he'll be their best starter. There's also a chance that he's entirely useless and never gets the kinks ironed out, but more power to the Mac(Phail)-men in taking the chance. Pauley and Albers I less worked up about, and like you, I've never given up on Penn. Now, admittedly, it's not going to be McGregor and Flanagan and Dennis Martinez, all lined up tidily and giving the Orioles all sorts of good stuff behind the team's perceived ace, but it's progress from where they were last year, certainly.

Brandon (Charleston): Do the Reds have any chance of contending for a wildcard berth this season with the their offense?

Christina Kahrl: You've hit the nail on the head as to why they might not; while I like their picking up Ramon Hernandez, picking Willy Taveras is a huge disappointment for a lineup that has OBP issues already, and absent Bruce really blossoming and their adding another outfield bat (I'd rather see Dickerson in center), scoring will be an issue once you take the park into account.

BL (Bozeman): Mark Teahen at 2B - a worthwhile shot, or a waste of time?

Christina Kahrl: It can't hurt to try it, but I'm not optimistic about the outcome. Still, while they wait until they can find a dance partner to talk trade later this spring, it's worth exploring. I still have my hopes that Alberto Callaspo pans out, and it isn't like Esteban German getting the job would be an unhappy development. There's only one outright wrong answer, and its name is Bloomquist.

jlp323 (Miami): There have been a lot of talking heads talking about the best 1-5 rotation in baseball, where do you think the Marlins rank in that? Top 10? And do you see the fish throwing a little more cash at pudge or am I dreaming?

Christina Kahrl: People do seem to keep forgetting about the Fish, but I think they're going to expand on last season's progress and remind them.

DS (Monterey Park, CA): Which AL starters do you think can consistently be among the best in terms of pitching the most innings and allowing the fewest runs over the next three years (other than Halladay and Sabathia)?

Christina Kahrl: I guess I like rolling the dice after all, but I think Jon Lester, John Danks, and King Felix are all ready to settle in and start doing better and better things.

Tony (Oregon): It would be great if the links you provide to players' names during the chat actually went to a real, updated with '08 stats, player page. Even if you have to scrap the advanced statistics.

Christina Kahrl: Thanks Tony, I like the suggestion too, although we are hoping to have the 2009 PECOTA cards up and running in relatively short order.

Tim (DC): In some ways, I do have some sympathy for A-Rod. That test was supposed to be completely anonymous and random, as part of working out a CBA with owners. Gee, wonder why his was the only name leaked? So leaking a name of some 25th-guy on the bench wouldn't have been quite the story? All those "holier than thou" baseball scribes would be claiming "broken promises" if the situation was reversed.

Christina Kahrl: I have to agree, but that's me: keeping grand jury testimony sealed is a more important concept to my sense of citizenship and its value to the republic than steroids represent a threat to our way of life.

Josh (Providence, RI): Is there any chance we'll ever see a true 2-way player in baseball? A guy who pitches once every 5 days and plays the field the other 4? Or even better, a guy that regularly gets used in relief? Seems like there would be a real benefit to having that kind of flexibility, especially in the NL.

Christina Kahrl: I've asked this same question, Josh, and the answer's almost automatically negative. Both things are really hard to do; while I wish we had more guys like Micah Owings or even Brooks Kieschnick to enjoy, I think we have to accept that even that level of contribution is rare. Owings might be as close as we ever get, and while I think he's a solid enough starter, you'd have to also put him on a team short of a first baseman, and that takes a combination of events that seems hard to achieve. Still, I'll love to see if he gets to DH in any interleague matchups.

stl fan (st louis): how about a depth trade...craig/freese for eric patterson? isnt he a solid mlb ready 2b?

Christina Kahrl: The A's might be one of the only organizations willing to take Patterson seriously as a second baseman, but obviously he'd help the Cardinals offense if they decided to share that article of faith.

jromero (Seattle): Regarding the Reds, so it's fixable by simply re-signing Dunn and platooning Dickerson/Taveras in CF? The Reds have made a habit of bemonaing their small marketdom, but a well-run business with its eye on the long-term should be able to buy when everyone else is selling. They can get Dunn for cheap, and for as little as two years. It's not as if he left on bad terms. Sure, some fans always underappreciated him, but winning would fix that. What are they waiting for?

Christina Kahrl: I like the sound of it, and my impression is that there wasn't any bad blood between Dusty and Dunn last year. And I'd definitely see a Dickerson/Taveras platoon as a great example of turning a potential weakness into a strength by employing two useful players to their best effect.

Bill (Toronto): Obviously Travis Snider has more potential but do you see Adam Lind outperforming him this season? At it's best how does a outfield of Snider, Wells and Rios stack up around the league in 3 years?

Christina Kahrl: This year, probably but not certainly, but N+1 through forever belongs to Snider. I think the problem with the proposition is that Wells and Rios aren't going to get any better, so we can probably shelve those Barfield/Bell/Moseby comparisons now.

ced (chicago): I don't like much of what Jim Hendry has done this offseason but what confuses me is letting Henry Blanco walk? Are koyie Hill and Paul Bako the left handed hitting messiahs? What am I missing? Was Blanco too expensive? Is he injured?

Christina Kahrl: I can understand a desire to get a backup for Geovany Soto who's an opposite-side hitter, but yes, I'd rather have spent the money to retain Blanco than spend it on Bako (or Joey Gathright, for that matter).

garrett (anaheim): would abreu signing w/ angels widen their gap as al west fronrunners?

Christina Kahrl: It would help that offense, certainly, although picking between Abreu's ducking fly balls over his head like they were so many grenades, or Vladi's brand of inconsistent less-rangy excitement in right would be... well, entertaining, assuming you weren't actually rooting for the Angels.

Christina Kahrl: With that, time for me to move over to some other stuff to do for the site and whatnot. I hope to get the Events calendar with our initial collection of book tour appearances set up tonight, definitely look forward to meeting some of you while I'm on the road, and know that I'm just happy we'll see pitchers and catchers showing up shortly. As Joe Sheehan says, "happy baseball."


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