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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday March 06, 2009 2:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.

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Catch up with Jay Jaffe as he talks about Dodger-y discontent, Yankee yowling, and other subjects that deserve to be on his personal hit list.

Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to today's chat. It's March madness for me - I've got more ideas to write about than hours of the day to see them through, but there's never a better time to talk baseball than the point when hope springs eternal. Powered by my auspiciously eloquent debut in the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123630159510147111.html), let's get to the questions...

Manny Ramirez (Los Angeles): I am going to opt out of my contract after '09 right?

Jay Jaffe: Offhand, I don't think there have been any big-dollar players who haven't opted out when given the chance, but it's hard to know where the economy will be a year from now. Manny might have a big year, and even be a model citizen, but I think the appetite for his services will continue to be suppressed. I would hardly be surprised if we see a repeat scenario of this winter, but I do think the Dodgers could more easily walk away if that happens.

rw448 (vt): Is Arod's torn hip labrum a byproduct of steroid use? Thanks Jay.

Jay Jaffe: It's an ugly but inevitable question that's been asked. From what I read via an article in the NY Daily News, there's no avascular necrosis in the hip, which would be typical of a link to steroids. Here's the take-home quote:

"Such questions arose because cysts in muscle are a common side-effect of intramuscular steroid injections, as is avascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to the bone) from use of the drugs themselves.

"'Because A-Rod kept changing his story about his steroid use,' said Dr. Lewis Maharam, the medical director of the New York Road Runners Club, 'it made us skeptical about his hip issue, thinking it could be steroid-related. It is not. Avascular necrosis of the femoral head is linked to steroids and sometimes described by the lay public as a cyst. This is not what he has.'"

Scott (St. Louis, MO): Having just seen the update to the depth charts reflecting A-Rod's potential output this year, I have two questions: 1) do you think that 95 wins may be an overzealous projection if A-Rod doesn't play until June? and, the million dollar question 2) how should A-Rod be treated in a fantasy draft: is he still a top four round guy if he's only giving you 360-400 PA?

Jay Jaffe: The situation is too fluid to really gauge what the overall impact will be on the Yankees, though I do think this could be analogous to the Posada injury last year -- the straw that broke the camel's back, keeping a 90+ win team sidelined in October. As for A-Rod's fantasy value, I took a swing at bracketing some expectations for Fantasy Baseball Index, a newsstand publication whom I write for in the winter (covering pitchers) and spring (covering all camp happenings, job battles and projection adjustments). We did dollar value projections based on four different scenarios, which you can see here and I'll continue to keep an eye on the news as it develops.

dianagramr (NYC): Psst .... your WSJ link goes to an article penned by someone other than you.

Jay Jaffe: Which means you didn't read it ;-)

Brian (Philly): Is there ever a way you could see the Phillies ranking ahead of the Mets using any system out there? No matter what the Phillies do, the Mets are better, despite the glaring holes at 2B, the outfield corners, and the shaky starting rotation, yet the Mets are a 92-95 win team, year in and year out.

Jay Jaffe: Relax, Phillies fans. Seriously, chill out. Are you really the bunch of pantywaist crybabies so many of you seem to be when we at BP criticize various aspects of your team (Ryan Howard's defense and failings against lefties, for example). I thought you were supposed to be the toughest fans in sports. Your team has a flag that will fly forever, so does it really matter that PECOTA is giving the Mets a few games in the preseason standings?

It's no secret that the Mets underachieved over the last two years, but PECOTA loves loves loves David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran in particular, and it has a few more suspicions about the Phillies' staff, particularly the back ends of the rotation and the bullpen, enough to edge the Mets ahead. I wouldn't lose much sleep over it during the first week of March; PECOTA says both teams will be contenders, and you really ought to be able to live with that.

Tom (Fishkill, NY): Are you f- kidding me?

Jay Jaffe: Props where due: I owe that one to Jon Stewart, and have employed his line -- used most prominently in connection with the infamous August 6, 2001 Presient's Daily Briefing memo -- during a few moments of extreme incredulity.

Rob (Brighton): Saw a suggestion somewhere that the Yankees might simply slide Cano across the diamond to third and then pick up a middle infielder, which seems like an easier option than finding a quality 3B. What do you think?

Jay Jaffe: The market does seem to contain more free talent (Esteban German) or free agents (Ray Durham, Mark Grudzielanek) among second basemen than third basemen, so if Cano could pull off the switch it might be worthwhile. That said, Cano's got enough to worry about with resuscitating his bat, so I'd rather see the Yanks try something else; I like Grudz or the Dodgers' Mark Loretta -- rendered redundant by the Orlando Hudson signing and Blake DeWitt's attempt to become a utilityman for the short term -- as backups who would have value even if A-Rod returns.

Rob (Brighton): Do you think the Rays will be victimized by regression to the mean at all this year?

Jay Jaffe: Common sense and the Plexiglass Principle suggest that it's quite possible, but then you read the reports out of camp about Wade Davis and other youngsters and it just confirms that team is bursting at the seams with young talent, enough to withstand various medium-sized setbacks. Particularly with the A-Rod situation potentially hobbling the Yankees, I think they'll be right in the thick of things in the AL East if not on top when the dust settles.

Gray (Chicago): Hey Jay, people in the center of the country are sick of Manny and ARod, can we move on already? Who wins the #5 rotations spots in Chicago, Philly, Toronto, NYM?

Jay Jaffe: Which Chicago team?

Philly: Chan Ho Park or James Happ, probably in similar proportions, with the other one serving time in the bullpen. With Romero suspended for the first 50 games, the bullpen's got a spot for an extra lefty, and Park had stamina issues last year which suggest trying to get a full season out of him may be a stretch.

Toronto - I like Brett Cecil and Scott Richmond the best, by far, out of that bunch, and could see both of them splitting the season between Triple-A and the big club given their lack of upper level experience.
Mets - Freddy Garcia if he's healthy, but with Redding starting slowly with shoulder issues and Livan being Livan, this one has me pessimistic.

Ira (North Texas): Is it a year too early for the Rangers, or two? Andrus (one of the top 100 prospects) graduates this year, as Davis did last year, and Holland and Feliz should graduate next year. I guess the pitchers are the key to the Rangers contention....

Jay Jaffe: It's at least a year too early. As I said in the comments to yesterday's Outside Help piece, I see no reason to give Andrus much time in the majors this year; better to let his bat develop. The same goes for the pitchers, as there's no reason to rush them.

The Rangers' track record with pitching in recent years is just ghastly. They've traded John Danks, Chris Young and Edinson Volquez in recent years, while finishing in -- and I'm going from memory here based on a study I did -- the bottom 3 in SNLVAR in like the past 11 years. Given their track record and severity of environment, it's tough to have faith in their ability to bring these guys to fruition no matter how good they are as prospects.

choms57 (Philly): Jay, don't let one bad apple ruin it for the rest of us!! We know we're the champs and we know the Mets are good. Head to head matchups last year proved that. Agreed Moyer is worrisome and I hate Kyle Kendrick (not that he will be in Philly, I just hate him)

Jay Jaffe: Duly noted!

I have a bit more faith in Moyer than most. He's an interesting cat to be sure. And Kendrick has turned into the pumpkin most of us predicted when we saw his strikeout rates.

dtrainmets (NYC): Out of the following top pitching prospects, which of these guys do you think will have a rotation spot to lose come Spring Training 2010? Jake Arreita, Wade Davis, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Rick Porcello, and Jarrod Parker.

Jay Jaffe: Wow, tough question but I'll take a swing. I'd bet on Davis, unless he establishes himself as TB's closer this year, and Porcello, because there is just so very much wrong in Detroit right now that they need some housecleaning, and it might have to extend into the rotation in order to unload some of the badness, too.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Do you have any thoughts on who will be in the Orioles' starting staff this year? I'm betting on them starting with some of the kids without options (Penn and Pauley), and shuffling a number of young pitchers in there throughout the year.

Jay Jaffe: It's a real cattle call, isn't it? My Fantasy Index depth chart runs 13 deep. Pauley's been more or less penciled in since he was acquired. Uehara since he was signed. Hill if he gets past these elbow issues, though I'm growing more pessimistic. Patton and/or Albers if their shoulders allow. Bass and Waters, because they didn't totally suck at the end of the year.

Beyond that, if you've got Liz, Hendrickson, or Eaton eatin' innings, you're in real trouble, because something's gone wrong. Penn is a real wild card, as he was spared last year's ugliness but didn't pitch well in the minors. Tough to say waht's gonna happen with him.

john (ct): Hey Jay how long a wait for us long-suffering and extremely patient Oriole fans?

Jay Jaffe: Between Wieters and that trio of pitchers (Tillman, Matusz and Arrieta) there's a lot to be optimistic about, but I have a hard time imagining any significant movement up the standings before 2011 given the strength of the division. Though the Yankee offense's rapid aging may crack the window slightly by next year.

Nick Stone (New York, NY): How do you see the Matsui/Nady/Swisher logjam working out? Seems like Matsui will be riding a lot of pine, what with Posada DH-ing more.

Jay Jaffe: I think Matsui is the odd man out unless he's beating the snot out of the ball and running like the wind given what we're hearing about Hip Hip Jorge's shoulder. Nady may worm his way into some time covering third; Joe Sheehan noted today that he did play the position in college, so maybe that could make up for his lack of pro experience (three games). In the end I think Swisher will get slighlty more playing time than Nady by dint of being a switch-hitter and occasional center field candidate, but it will be basically even.

Doug (Tamp Bay): Wade Davis is strong, no doubt, but don't you think Andy Sonnanstine gets a bad rap?

Jay Jaffe: Absolutely. He's a perfectly cromulent #4 starter who would have value to just about every team, but when the higher-upside kids are rotation-ready (Davis and even Niemann, who's out of options), he's a good bet to be shipped out for more goodies.

dianagramr (NYC): Re: Rangers pitching track record ... April 1, 1982: Rangers trade Walt Terrell and Ron Darling to the New York Mets for Lee Mazzilli.

Jay Jaffe: It begins!

druuuu (NJ): When can we ready your "Class of 27" piece? Its already posted on ESPN. thanks

Jay Jaffe: Imminent. Thanks for reminding me to check.

Jay (San Diego): I am developing a mancrush on Brett Cecil...give me few reasons to quell this new passion.

Jay Jaffe: I like Cecil too, as noted above when it comes to Toronto's 5-spot. 22-year-old southpaw with a low 90s fastball and a plus slider, 2.88 ERA and 129 K/41 BB in 118.2 innings across three levels last year... Seems tasty on paper. I worry that Kevin Goldstein only had him at #90 on the Top Prospects List, though, and that the Jays' reputation for handling young arms isn't exactly sterling at the moment (Marcum, McGowan, Janssen, etc.)

oira61 (San Francisco): What's the most disappointing team in history? Would the 2009 Yankees have a shot at it if they don't make the playoffs?

Jay Jaffe: They'd have to go sub-.500 to rival those 1992 Mets, a/k/a the Worst Team Money Could Buy, and even then I think they've got enough classy characters in their clubhouse to prevent that from turning into such a ****show.

Highly recommend the Bob Klapisch/John Harper book on that season for some entertaining reading.

David (Sonoma State University, CA): Now that it's over, did the Giants really have much play in signing Manny?

Jay Jaffe: I don't think so. If I'm able to swap my Dodgers cap for an Objective Observer one, I think it would have made complete sense given the low bar in that division and the way missing out on him would have hobbled the Dodgers. But they never did more than just flirt with kicking the tires, and there's nothing to suggest they ever made a formal offer.

Mike (Chicago): Ok, I know it's not likely, but say jamie moyer sticks arounds long enough to get to 300 wins. He's 54 away, and signed for two years. The writers will love the story, and will probably elect him, right? Would he have the lowest jaws score of a HOF pitcher?

Jay Jaffe: No, not by a longshot. If his career ended today he'd be on the border between the third and fourth quartiles. There are relievers and short-career VC selections below him, and even guys like Catfish Hunter.

David (Sonoma State University, CA): As a Dodger fan attending college in northern California, I'm disgusted that you'd EVER remove your Dodger cap.

Jay Jaffe: Oh, dear college boy, you have much to learn about the ways of the world.

Andy (Providence): An annual tradition of mine is the drafting of Diasuke followed by a beligerent taunting of the rest of the leauge that I have just drafted this year's Cy Young winner. Will I ever be right rather than drunk?

Jay Jaffe: Hello, Providence, my favorite New England city... It all depends where you're drafting Daisuke. I certainly don't see a Cy Young winner, I see a guy who had a lot of help from his offense (5.5 runs per game) and his defense (.260 BABIP) to do as well as he did in 2008, and that's before getting into the discussion of his astronomical walk rate and its effect on his stamina.

nikpin (The Office): So you don't see Feliz, Holland, et al succeeding in the majors? Danks, Young, and Volquez only did well because they left the Rangers?

Jay Jaffe: Without knowing much about either pitcher -- IANKGOAS (I am not Kevin Goldstein or a scout) -- I think the deck is stacked against even the best Rangers pitching prospect because of the offensive environment of that ballpark. It's like trying to grow roses in a blast furnace.

David (Sonoma State University, CA): Oh, dear baseball writer, you have much to learn about fanhood.

Jay Jaffe: Touche. Except that I'm at least twice your age and have to deal with rooting for three teams, one by geneology (the Dodgers, of which I'm a 3rd generation fan dating back to my grandfather's days rooting for Babe Herman), one by geography (the Yankees, though recent events are testing that one) and one by marriage (the Brewers, who are dear to the hearts of my baseball-loving in-laws and who tap into my love of that 1982 team).

Context is important. In a hot tub full of babes -- a common occurrence during a young man's college days, of course -- are you really going to dork it up by wearing a soggy cap?

jbuofm (Peoria): Are you optimistic about the Skip Schumaker 2nd base experiment in St. Louis? Also, is Christina aware that she uses the word "tasty" too much in her writing?

Jay Jaffe: Having not seen him play yet, I'm not terribly optimistic simply because the track record for these types of conversions isn't all that great. Anytime you're moving a guy to a more difficult defensive position the success rate is low, and it doesn't help that Schumaker's defensive numbers don't support the idea that he's a good enough defender to pull it off.

Maybe if Dave Duncan gets involved enough to teach him how to scuff a baseball?

CharlieAdams (New York): Disregarding who actually will be in the Indians rotation, who do you like best for the 1st half of the season among Sowers, Huff, Jackson, Pavano, Reyes, Lewis and Laffey?

Jay Jaffe: Roughly in order: I like David Huff and Scott Lewis the most from that bunch, as they miss more bats. Reyes, because the talent is still there and the change of scenery will do him good. Laffey from among the lefties who don't miss bats. Sowers, Jackson and Pavano only if we're under Battlestar Galactica post-Cylon attack conditions that require stocking a new major league.

Corkedbat (Dallas): Speaking of the Rangers ballpark in Arlington, A buddy of mine in construction told me the park was originally better for pitchers until they took out some glass above the homeplate area's media boxes which then made it more of a hitter's park. Any truth to that or should I have asked someone else?

Jay Jaffe: Interesting, but I have no idea. I'd suggest you ask Jamey Newburg, as he knows more about the Rangers than any of us. And if you find out anything, let me know!

Aaron (YYZ): I don't know about the other two, but Danks only really figured it out after the pitching coach in Chicago taught him to throw a cutter. It's hard to knock the Rangers for that.

Jay Jaffe: Well, why can't they get their own Don Cooper instead of whomever they've had as their pitching coaches over the past decade? And why can't they keep their guys healthy? I do think that the arrival of Mike Maddux marks a step in the right direction, but it's a first step.

dianagramr (NYC): Any chance Carl Pavano is reading about A-Rod's hip labrum and thinking "dang .... that's one I hadn't thought of"

Jay Jaffe: ROFL

denny187 (WI): What do the numbers by a posters' name in a comments section of an article mean?

Jay Jaffe: I believe they're member numbers based on when you signed up for subscription access. Lower numbers for earlier adopters. Mine's high because I had a comp account for a couple years as a part-time contributor, which led me to give up my paid account and lower number. Not that anyone cares.

Darren (Dunbar, Scotland): So, the Braves...are you bearish or bullish?

Jay Jaffe: Hello, Scotland! I'm somewhat bullish on the Braves, because beyond the money I like the Lowe signing a whole lot, like Vazquez outside of the Cell, and feel like they've significantly upgraded the rotation this winter in general.

But man, I think the left and center field situations need rethinking. If Garret Anderson is the answer, you've asked the wrong question.

Rob (Brighton): It seems like the AL Central is the most wide-open division this year. If we were drunk in Vegas who would you place your money on to take the division? I get sentimental when I'm deep in my cups, so I'd have to go with the old hometown Indians, you?

Jay Jaffe: I like the Indians because of their pitching depth, the chance that they can get rebounds from hitters who were injured last year like Martinez and Hafner, and the possibility of LaPorta providing a significant jolt of offense at some point during the year.

jtwranch (San Diego): Peavy to the Dodgers?

Jay Jaffe: Never gonna happen. Intradivisional trades between rivals, even rivalries in which one team is on the skids, are tough to pull off and carry long-term ramifications which tap into the Law of Unintended Consequences. See Yanks-Red Sox during the Frazee years.

Today's "Class of 27" piece is now up with an imminent fix for the broken link to Nate's earlier work.

Also, private to David from Sonoma State: no, that's not really what I meant, but I'm glad you could do your part to help liven up today's chat, so thanks for stopping by.

john (ct): Jay- which Beckham, Gordon or Tim ultimately does best?

Jay Jaffe: Well, we know it's not David, right?

Sight unseen, I'll go with Tim, because Kevin Goldstein ranks him higher and because I have more faith in the Rays' ability to bring him to fruition than the Sox do with Gordon. But I'd be excited to have either one in my larder.

jalee121 (Normal, Illinois): Do the White Sox have the best 1-3 starters in the central, or am I just dilusional?

Jay Jaffe: Danks is the real deal, Buehlre is as solid as they come, but there's a lot of potential for regression in Floyd's 2008 numbers with regards to HR/FB rates and BABIP. Cliff Lee and a rebounding 2007-level Fausto Carmona plus one breakout from the aforementioned Tribesmen might give them a run, as could a healthy 2006-level Liriano plus Baker and maybe Slowey. It's really up for grabs.

Scott (Detroit): You would really embiggen me with a response to my question. It seems to me that the Reds are disproportionately affected by the WBC, especially with Volquez and Cueto pitching and Ramon Hernandez away from his new pitching staff. Any cause for concern?

Jay Jaffe: In my eyes, definitely. Cueto and Volquez are red lights in the THRs based on workload alone, and they still pitch for Dusty Baker. Hernandez is a red light too, now that I look at it.

I haven't scanned the rosters to see how many other teams have two of their top four starters in the WBC, but that does seem like a serious risk for one team's chances.

Tim (Green Bay): So who loses out in the Twins OF/DH situation?

Jay Jaffe: I don't see Tony Oliva getting many at-bats at all.

I have questions about every single player in that bunch - Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, Mike Cuddyer - and particularly the first two, given their inabilities to get on base consistently.

Aaron (YYZ): Given the Strength Of Schedule issues with the AL East, where would the Jays finish if they were in each of the other 5 divisions?

Jay Jaffe: I think last year's Jays might have been right in the thick of the AL Central race, but with the hits their rotation has taken due to injuries and the loss of Burnett, I don't see them as higher than third in the other AL divisions.

Pozzivybe (VA): Thoughts on what Maholm, Snell and Dave Bush can do this year?

Jay Jaffe: Maholm made some big strides last year, and I think he'll be a pretty decent bet to match his PECOTA projection for a 4.36 ERA. Similar position on Bush (4.23). I've given up on Snell due to emotional maturity issues; that guy needs a a serious pop upside the head.

Eric Chavez (Oakland): How much playing time does Nomar get this season?

Jay Jaffe: 250 PA, tops. Which may be more than you, Eric.

sbryk7 (NYC): How are both of the new NY stadiums expected to play?

Jay Jaffe: The dimensions of the new Yankee Stadium are the same as the old one, so we have to assume similarly neutral conditions. Citi is supposed to favor the pitcher by about 3 percent given its dimensions, at least according to the numbers Nate used for PECOTA this year.

Doug (LA): How has BP not improvied their chat interface yet? My F5 button is tired.

Jay Jaffe: Knock on wood, but this is the first chat I've had in nearly a year that hasn't included me making an apology for tech issues on my end. But yeah, maybe it's time for a facelift.

brian (Brooklyn NY): At this time last year you would have said that, if the Indians didnt have CC, Verlander, Bonderman and anyone are the Central's best 1-3, correct?

Jay Jaffe: Quite possibly; I certainly saw the Tigers as very solid 1-5, and that didn't really pan out, did it? But the Indians DID have CC and between him and Carmona and Westbrook coming off a great second half showing, and there's no way I would have put Detroit ahead of them at that juncture.

Corkedbat (Dallas): Speaking of the Ballpark that homes the Rangers (I forget it's name now and can't remember what it used to be named), I saw BP2009 call the Park Factor at 1.018... "Slight hitter's park." Is that right? It is not that much different than Camden Yards if that is the case. Typo? Please explain.

Jay Jaffe: That does seem a bit low, doesn't it? Then again, find me a pitcher who's stoked to throw in Camden Yards.

I can see Joe Torre on the top step, with Mel Stottlemyre on the phone Two more questions...

Ken (Kansas City, KS): Jay, hoping you can help here because no one else can. Why are the Yankees and Mets the only teams projected to have a 15+ game winner. This isn't a New York/East Coast bashing question, but it's really hosing me on my fantasy rankings.

Jay Jaffe: Chasing wins based on projections in fantasy is a fool's errand. Go for pitchers with good ERA projections and high K rates who are backed by powerhouse offenses. I'm not saying you won't wind up with guys from the Mets and Yankees nearer to the top, I'm just saying you should be looking at the underlying indicators that lead to wins.

Rob (Brighton): One more thing Jay, I was wondering if you had any book recommendations for educating myself on baseball over the summer. I'm still fairly new to all of this, so don't assume there's anything I've already read. Thanks.

Jay Jaffe: Email me off list for some book recs, perhaps with a bit more specificity as to your interests.

We won't count that one. Last q...

Josh (Sacramento): Garret Anderson is talking about playing until he gets 3000 hits. I don't think anyone considers Anderson a hall of famer, except, with some of the inexplicable reasoning of the BBWAA recently, how much consideration would he get if he played four more seasons as a regular?

Jay Jaffe: If Harold Baines can't get much more than five percent, neither will he, but then I have a hard time imagining any team(s) withstanding four years of him as a regular at an offense-first position given production declining from his 2005-2008 level as he moves into his late 30s.

Jay Jaffe: Folks, maybe it's just the spring in my step but that was about as fun a chat session as I've had in years. Thanks for stopping by to spend some of your Friday with me, and let's keep the good times rolling.


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