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Chat: Marc Normandin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday March 03, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Marc Normandin.

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For all your fantasy questions, Marc Normandin's the man you want to ask, so surf by and get that odd tip that will make all the difference come draft day.

Marc Normandin: Hey there folks, I'm a few minutes early since it looks like the queue is already overflowing! Chat vets know the rules: baseball questions (probably a lot of fantasy ones this time of year, too!) but feel free to chime in with your other interest as well. Video games and music are the sweet spots that will get me off topic. Let's dig right in...

kufflerj (Philly, PA): NL-only non-keeper 5x5 (but use obp instead of avg): I'm picking 3rd and it looks like Hanley and Pujols are going 1/2, so do I take Reyes or Wright? Thanks

Marc Normandin: Ooh, I use OBP instead of average too. Much more interesting, and you draft fewer crappy real-life players. Wright is going to have more RBI, plenty of his own R, a bunch of his own steals (though nowhere near as many as Reyes) and a better OBP along with more homers. I don't think you can go wrong with either of them to be honest; if you plan on picking up steals elsewhere (maybe one of the center fielders I wrote about for that batch of rankings) then Wright would be my choice. IF you prefer putting all of your SB eggs into one basket though, Reyes is your man, especially if you think you can pick another one of the big guys at third base up a little later.

Patrick (MPLS): Thanks for taking questions today, Marc. Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp: who's better this year and who's better in 2010?

Marc Normandin: I'm listening to my Last.fm radio today by the way, so some random things are popping up. Soundgarden - Big Dumb Sex is on right now.

Bruce worries me a bit--he got by on his massive talent alone last year, but clearly wasn't ready for consistent production yet. He's going to be fun to watch as he matures and learns to adjust to the majors. I think right now that Matt Kemp is your safest bet for 2009, but by 2010 I might put Upton in front of him, and maybe even Bruce depending on how fast he moves along. Kemp's nice in fantasy because he does a bit of everything, but I would like to see a better contact rate from him so I can trust his batting average more.

Joe (Mich): Marc, It seems to me that 3 cat power hitters ala Howard tend to be overvalued compared to 3 cat speedsters like Pierre(when playing) or tavares. ??? Any reason for this?

Marc Normandin: Probably because in real-life, Ryan Howard is worth a roster spot and the other player is a total drain on your resources and limited supply of outs. We have a natural tendency to dislike players that we know aren't useful (really, it's for the best); just because you can exploit them in fantasy baseball doesn't mean they are any good. I don't mind using guys like Pierre to get a boost in stats like steals, but I'm a much bigger believer in putting together a balanced roster so you don't have to deal with guys like Pierre.

On the same note, Howard is not what I would call a balanced player in a standard league, because as you said he's a three category guy. Let people overrate him so you can snag a less flashy four or five category guy who won't hit for as much power or drive in as many runs, but will do much more for your bottom line.

Matt A (Raleigh): When are you taking Weiters in a Keeper draft? Before any of McCann/Martin/Mauer/Soto?

Marc Normandin: Lots of Wieter's questions today, so let me put out this fire early. I wouldn't draft him in a keeper league before those more established, young and incredibly productive players. Yes, he had a great year at Double-A, and yes, PECOTA is very much in love with Monsieur Wieters, but that Brian McCann guy is pretty awesome too, and you already know what he's capable of.

I'm not sure I agree with PECOTA on Wieter's flawless projection (from the 10th percentile to the 90th, there isn't a projection unworthy of drafting). He's also still not the starter in Baltimore, and even if you think it's inevitable, he's going to get fewer PA than catchers who are going to hit. I ranked him in the middle of my top 10 for a reason, and it's because I think his forecast is a bit aggressive. I would rather miss out on what little extra he could hypothetically provide over someone like McCann than be left looking silly when he doesn't immediately set the world on fire after his debut.

[Pours gasoline on fire] Hell, I even ranked Iannetta ahead of Wieters this year.

Aaron (YYZ): Marc, what do you think about Joey Votto taking a step forward this year? I find his utter lack of platoon or home/road splits last year extremely intriguing for a young lefty power hitter..

Marc Normandin: Joey Votto is a safe pick, one of the safest you can make at first base. I'm positive he's going to hit at least .275/.355/.490, and because of his home park, quality first full year and the lack of splits, I think he may even top that. I like him a lot, more than some others, but I think there are plenty of people who share my thoughts there.

Stephanie (DC): I also felt that PECOTA's view on Carl Crawford was...surprising to say the least. What do you think the Rays and fantasy owners will get out of him this year?

Marc Normandin: Sorry folks, had to get the mail. Free video games are awesome.

PECOTA doesn't know that Crawford was injured; I tried to adjust for that when I did my left field rankings, saying that Crawford may be more valuable than he has ever been this year because of the better lineup around him and (hopefully) a year of picture perfect health. Assuming he does stay in the lineup unscathed, he's going to be as good as people have always thought he was/could be.

Jmast7 (NYC): Are HACKING MASS and Predictatron happening this year?

Marc Normandin: I've asked the people who know these things, and they say HACKING MASS yes, Predictatron no.

Sorrento (Cleveland): What kind of slash stats do you see Matt Holliday putting up this year? I think he will be affected a bit by moving out of Colorado, but still be pretty good (like 290/375/500).

Marc Normandin: PECOTA has him down for .291/.366/.492, which is certainly possible. Given his road rates the past three years though (.296/.370/.486), that looks about right, though I wonder how much leaving the NL for the AL and moving to a very pitcher friendly park will affect him. Fantasy wise, if the A's offense is improved like we think it is, at least he'll be able to keep plenty of R and RBI, but the homers and average are definitely shooting down from his usual figures.

Dude Looks Like a Lady (The 80s): How many of the "female" posters here are just guys trying to get into the chat, do you figure? I read a comparison of Carlos Gomez to Jacoby Ellsbury the other day? Is that: a. true? b. complimentary to Gomez (meaning both have value)? c. insulting to Ellsbury (meaning neither has much worth)?

Marc Normandin: (A) No way. One of them could steal 40 bases and suck and the other could steal 40 and be pretty good elsewhere.

(C) I'm telling Jacoby, and he's going to have his people talk to that author's people so that his image can stop being ripped apart.

mattymatty (Philly, PA): Easy question, Marc: Sox or Yanks in '09?

Marc Normandin: Easy answer for an easy question: Red Sox. Well, unless J.D. Drew misses too much time with his back, and none of the Red Sox veteran signings pan out like they were supposed to...okay, so maybe the answer isn't that easy.

Stephanie (DC): In a real-life context, would you trade Carlos Pena for Ryan Howard, straight up? (Show your work!)

Marc Normandin: In a real-life context? Absolutely. Let's get very real-life about this one if you want me to show my work. Ryan Howard is making $15M this year, the first in a three-year extension. If you assign a dollar value to a win above replacement (think something like MORP, or what Fangraphs has been doing with their own WAR), this upcoming season is probably the only one in which Howard, now 30 years old, will be worth it monetarily. The rest of the time he will be paid more than his production merits. He would have to be a bit more valuable than he was in 2007, never mind 2008, in order to justify the money involved.

Carlos Pena on the other hand, is under contract for two more years, at $8M this year and $10.125M in 2010, and should have, based on last season, made about $17M for his production. He had a better year than Howard (two years running, actually) and is just one year older. You'll get more bang for your buck for Pena, and could probably re-sign him to another short-term deal much cheaper than you would Howard.

The difference may be subtle and focused more on money than anything, but it's definitely something to consider.

Mike (SLC, Utah): Is the Yankees offense going to be great or just OK? The addition of Teixeira is great, but Giambi was still somewhat productive last year. And A-Rod, Matsui, Damon, Posada, and Jeter are all aging and/or injury risks. They only finished 7th in runs scored in the AL last year.

Marc Normandin: They were in the middle of the pack last year as you said, and as awesome as Teixeira is, they still have holes, and ones that don't figure to improve given they are getting older. I think improving on 7th is possible, but not by the leaps and bounds they need.

They did improve their starting pitching though, so maybe they will end up better than I expect. The AL East is going to be fantastic to watch this year.

iman883 (DC): Marc, what are your projections for Bedard? I have an offer on the table to get Rollins in exchange for Bedard and Hardy...what do you think?

Marc Normandin: Eh, it's not that Rollins isn't a better shortstop than Hardy, it's just that giving up two pretty good players (or one pretty good one and a decent one, depending on how you feel about Bedard) for one that's not much better than the one you're giving up seems pointless. I would see if you could include Bedard in a deal that does more for you than that, or see if your trading partner will throw something else into the mix for you rather than doing a 2 for 1.

zszalewski (Madison, WI): Marc, I just read your article and CF's and was suprised by your high ranking of McClouth. Didn't McClouth just have a hot 30 - 40 days to start the season then a very pedestrian season from there on out?

Marc Normandin: He did taper off a bit, but I like how his components looked. The improved strike zone judgment and pitch selection is a big plus in my mind, and I think he's capable of putting together another season like that.

Remember, PECOTA takes first/second half differences into account in its forecasts, and sees the same kind of improved components in McLouth's game that we can.

birkem3 (Dayton, OH): Marc, you say that you would trade Pena for Howard, but your work suggests the opposite. Just to be clear, you'd rather have Pena, right?

Marc Normandin: Yeah, I just noticed she said "Pena for Howard" reading it back, but the work still stands. Totally trade Howard for Pena and laugh all the way to my now larger budget.

InBillyWeTrust (Oakland, CA): How big of an upgrade over Crosby is O-Cab/Nomar at this point? If you consider the fact that no one is jumping to take Crosby's salary off the A's hands, the A's are spending $10 million for slightly above average shortstop production in '09. Is a one win upgrade really worth that much?

Marc Normandin: Uh, one win? Cabrera may not be able to hit, but dude can field, and he can field well enough to make him worth a few wins above replacement. Crosby, on the other hand, can't even hit as well as O-Cab, and doesn't field nearly as well either. We're talking about a 2-3 win difference here, with way more emphasis on the 3 than the 2. Considering how close the AL West may be, yes, it is well worth the upgrade.

theguag (Louisville): I enjoyed your article on spring stats. What about pitchers' stats, especially pitchers who are battling to win a spot? Take Homer Bailey, for example. Does his super-efficient start from yesterday have meaning or is it just too small a sample size?

Marc Normandin: Eventually I will take a look at the numbers at the end of spring training and see if there's anything to pull from, but for pitchers it's tough to gauge much. A lot of them are testing things out (do you know how many years Curt Schilling tried to learn a change up in the spring only to inevitably ditch it when he couldn't make it work?) I think I'm encouraged by health, velocity and command more than the numbers in the spring when it comes to pitching. Watching how guys stretch themselves out in starts, moving up from a few innings at a time to a full start's worth of batters faced, etc. I could dig deeper at some point, but those things are my first instinct as to what's important.

Hank (Miami): Cody Ross = 2009's Ludwick?

Marc Normandin: I like Cody Ross a lot, and PECOTA does too, though his forecast (under 500 PA) doesn't make it look like that so much. I'm not sure if he's going to explode the same way Ludwick did, but both fantasy owners and the Marlins should be pleased that he's now been set free.

don (michigan): is it safe to assume that everytime we read about guys in spring training missing a game because of "food poisoning" or "flu-like symptoms," it's really just that the fellas are wicked hungover?

Marc Normandin: Man I hope so.

James Martin Cole (Boston): Re: The Pena - Howard question. How do you get those numbers about player monetary value? Total league salary/2430 = price of a win? Amount spent by all teams on free agents over the last 3 years/ those players' WARP over that period? Amount spent by all teams on players w/enough service time for free agency/ those players WARP over that period? It seems like a player's value w/r/t his salary is pretty tied up on how you look at inexpensive young players, players who signed extensions before free agency, and players signed as free agents.

Marc Normandin: Here's the definition of MORP via the BP Glossary:

Marginal Value Above Replacement Player, as introduced in this article. MORP is modelled based on the actual behavior of recent free agent markets, and accounts for non-linearity in the market price of baseball talent (e.g. teams are willing to pay more for one 6-win player than two 3-win players).
As listed in a player's PECOTA card, a player's MORP includes the major league minimum salary of $380,000 for 2007. Further, in a player's Five-Year Forecast, we assume salary inflation of 8% per year through 2010 (EXCEPTION: a player's Peak MORP does *not* include the minimum salary or the inflation adjustment.)

For 2007, a player's MORP is estimated as follows:
1200000*(WARP^1.5) + 380000

I don't know if we have numbers for 2009 yet, but that's something that Nate would probably be able to answer.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Is Halo Wars worth getting today?

Marc Normandin: Depends on how in love you are with Halo and how much time you've spent with real-time strategy games in the past. I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but the reviews seem to have a few common themes: Great representation of the Halo universe, crappy multiplayer options (not many races, units, etc.) and its RTS With Training Wheels difficulty level.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): Regarding Matt Holliday, one thing to consider in keeper leagues is that he won't be in Oakland next year, or even as soon as July. Just a thought...

Marc Normandin: This is true, for those thinking long-term. Of course, if he ends up back in Oakland or someone like the Padres (Moorad's there now, so you never know) end up loosening the purse strings for him, then what do you do? I mean, after leaving Colorado, everything is downhill, even if you sign with Texas or Arizona.

D-Rock (Ohio): Video Games! MLB 2k9 comes out today - any thoughts?

Marc Normandin: I don't know anything about it since I haven't played yet, but Sony did send me a copy of MLB '09 The Show last week, and I'm enjoying my time with that immensely. I should have a review of that up this week over at Blast Magazine, so check in on that. Sorry I'm not more help for your 2K love (though I will tell you, my favorite 2K baseball series is easily MLB Power Pros.)

kevin (boston): What do you see justin verlander doing this year? Never really understood why he struggled so much last year.

Marc Normandin: Verlander was pitching with his front side flying open; that is, his mechanics were a mess, and because of that he struggled both with his command and his velocity. I'm not sure if we'll see a 2007 level return to form (after all, even after accounting for this mechanical problem, he didn't exactly revert to stardom) but I would have to think that he'll be better than 2008.

Jimbo Jones (Springfield): Hi Marc, thanks for the chat. How would you rank these young hurlers for the upcoming season in a standard 5x5 league: Greinke, Nolasco, Wainwright, Cain, Danks?

Marc Normandin: Nolasco, Greinke, Danks, Cain, Wainwright. Nolasco was fantastic for 140 1/3 innings to end 2008, whiffing over one hitter per inning while keeping his walk rate down to one per nine. Definitely a guy who is still a bit under the radar, since his poor start helped obscure that he was probably as good as Sabathia for most of the year.

jm010e (ny, ny): More video games - on a scale of 1-10, how angry should I be that Sony won't let me give them money for PS3 DLC on Fallout 3? 17?

Marc Normandin: Hey now, talk to Bethesda about that one. Or tell Sony to start shelling out more for exclusive content.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Where do you come down on a decision between Chris Davis and Garrett Atkins if you were drafting in non-keeper 5x5 league? Thanks!!

Marc Normandin: Garrett Atkins. I love Davis for his power, but if his batting average craters because he strikes out too often, Atkins will have more power. For now, Atkins also has Coors benefiting his production.

ssteadman (St. Louis, MO): Typical 5x5 league, but I'm especially conservative with my first round pick based on injury risk. Who's the safest play in the first round to give me 150+ games? Wright, Reyes or Ramirez?

Marc Normandin: Wright and Reyes have equally low risk I would say, though if Reyes were to injure his hamstring or something else leg related, it would deal a big blow to his value. Ramirez is normally not a risk, but if it takes some time for his power to come back 100% because of his shoulder surgery, then he won't be as safe of a pick as the other two you mentioned.

Adam J. Morris (Houston, TX): PECOTA says Texas wins 74 games this year. Are you taking the over or the under?

Marc Normandin: Hey there Adam, how are you? Adam runs Lone Star Ball, which is one of the best places around for news and info on the Rangers. I'm taking the over based on their offense, but I'm not about to say they are going to make PECOTA look silly.

Things should be looking up once those kids are in town to stay, though. Rangers still need some more pitching before I can commit to the .500 and up bandwagon.

kccputech (Kansas City, KS): Going through the numbers on this site only the Mets and Yankees are projected to have a 15 game winner. Has there been an explanation anywhere for this?

Marc Normandin: That's the kind of thing you would have to ask Nate if you want an explicit (and accurate) answer, but I would say a lot of it has to do with how dependent wins are on the teams. If PECOTA is conservative in regards to a team's offense or a pitcher's inning totals, he's going to get hosed on his win totals.

Aaron (YYZ): So now that you get your games for free, what ones are you pining for the most?

Marc Normandin: I cannot wait for MadWorld to come out for Wii. I got the chance to play it at New York Comic Con, and thankfully I didn't have to be peeled off of the television by SEGA employees when my time was up. I'm proud of my forced professionalism!

Besides that, Resident Evil 5 is looking good for March. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars looks like it's going to be incredible; somehow, Rockstar Leeds put a console sized game onto a DS cartridge. You have to see it in motion to believe it. There's a ton coming out for the rest of the year too, and I could go on forever, but I'll just stick with what I'm dying to get my hands on in March right now.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Do you folks in Boston miss Manny?

Marc Normandin: It took me 10 minutes to answer this question because I was wistfully staring out the window, thinking about all of the good times Manny and I used to have. Running through meadows, throwing frisbees on the beach, watching him destroy opposing pitchers...[looks longingly out window again]

jromero (Seattle): Not sure how this fits into the discussion, but it sure seems worth mentioning. This morning on the local NPR affiliate, I heard a newscaster excitedly proclaim that the Mariners are off to their best spring trainning start in 15(?) years. Oh, dear. It's going to be a loooong summer in Seattle.

Marc Normandin: At least the people in charge know what they are doing now. I'm impressed by the little things they have done to improve the defense and the pitching staff. The Mariners will be relevant again sooner than you think, even if the near future remains bleak.

James Martin Cole (Boston): Since we haven't done any music talk yet, what are you listening to? I'm listening to the Happy Mondays, the greatest musical hedonists of the 20th century.

Marc Normandin: Radio Friendly Unit Shifter from Nirvana just popped onto my internet radio. I think I'm going to put the new Eagles of Death Metal on though; it's a pretty solid album. What's everyone else listening to? Let me know when you submit your stuff, okay?

raygu1 (burlington, nj): Marc-thanks for the chat. The Dodgers will probably let Clayton Kershaw pitch 200 innings this year. Can we expect 180+ K's in a 5x5 league?

Marc Normandin: I actually think we may see a slight dip in his strikeouts as Kershaw and the Dodgers try to fix his walks, but he should still be a pretty good option for strikeouts in a 5x5 league if he racks up those kinds of innings.

don (michigan): no love for empire total war? comes out tomorrow, randomly coinciding with me taking a half day at work.

Marc Normandin: Nothing against it, just completely blinded by my desire to play MadWorld.

MarinerDan (SF, CA): Where do you see Felix Hernandez ranking among fantasy starters this year?

Marc Normandin: I haven't even started putting together my pitcher rankings yet, so I can't say for sure. I should be finished with hitters before next week is out (just have RF and DH left, and need to post a complete OF list somewhere).

Jay (Madison): Who's the odd man out in the Minn. outfield? Related to this, I have to choose between C. Crisp and C. Gomez. Price is the same. Gomez has more upside. Crisp is more a sure thing -- even if it isn't all that exciting. thoughts?

Marc Normandin: I was hoping that the Twins' depth chart at mlb.com would be of some assistance, but it looks like that has me as confused as I was when I went there. Delmon Young looks like a backup, with Cuddyer in RF, Kubel at DH, Gomez in center and Span in left. Gomez probably won't be affected too much by the position battle in left, though he could lose occasional at-bats to Span along the way. We'll see how this shapes up as the spring goes on.

Matt A (Raleigh): Which announcement had you more excited, Star Craft II or Diablo III?

Marc Normandin: Diablo III, easy. People have been religiously playing the original Starcraft since it came out, and I've already lost every match of Starcraft II to them before it even releases. Diablo III, please.

Rob (Brighton): You know when missing Manny hit me? When the playoffs got under way, he hit a bomb off a reliever against the Cubs. The pitch was either a curve or a change, middle of the plate, but too low, almost at his ankles. And he just leaned over and golfed it over the wall. Like it was nothing. Remember when he high fived the fan in the stands last year before gunning a guy down at first?

Marc Normandin: Hey there Rob, what's happening? I'm glad I'm not the only Boston fan who misses the guy. Manny Ramirez is my favorite player in baseball. I don't care if he's a selfish jerk like some people say, or that he's a space case, or that the dude can't field to save his life, there is no one more fun to watch at the plate. I miss having him in Boston, and it's even worse that he went to the Dodgers (remember, my other favorite team is the Padres. He may as well have signed in New York).

I want someone to sign him, and now, even if it's Los Angeles again.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn et al. Some of those Nats are worth drafting this season. What about my Pirates.....

Marc Normandin: Well uh, you've got...um...that guy...you know...Oh! It's Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, and maybe Adam LaRoche. I wouldn't touch your rotation with someone else's roster though.

Silv (NY, NY): Heartless Bastards' new album (The Mountain) is tip top stuff, as is Ryan Adams' most recent with the Cardinals. Endless Highway is a The Band tribute album with a great cadre of covers - really tight stuff. How likely is it that Vlad falls off the truck this year? I'm VERY concerned about his attrition and 'oldness' of his body. Lots of moving pieces, none of which are looking to age well.

Marc Normandin: Vlad needs to spend all of his quality time at DH if he wants to stick around. Looks like that turf and all of the crazy running around that made him famous in his younger days have started to catch up to him.

Jed (San Francisco): A lot of times a draft/auction will go in a weird direction and half way through you don't quite have the roster you'd envisioned. In 5x5 roto, at what point should you really consider 'punting' a category?

Marc Normandin: I think it depends on each draft individually, honestly, but I have no qualms about punting a category or position in order to shore up other ones. Generally, I try to draft a balanced team and direct the draft with my choices to stay a step ahead, but that obviously doesn't always work.

Bill (Toronto): In a 12 team 5x5 mixed league what draft position do you want most this year? Which one do you least want to end up with?

Marc Normandin: Honestly, I love going 12 of 12 in a snaking draft. I miss out on one of the huge guys, but I feel like I have more control over the depth of my team. I hate being in the middle, and the beginning isn't as fun as it seems since you get skipped for the next 23 picks.

ccweinmann (Seattle): Upton or Bruce for the next 3 years? Longoria or Wieters?

Marc Normandin: Which Upton? Because B.J. > Bruce.

MarinerDan (SF, CA): Any below-the-radar prospects (I'm thinking a late-round flier here) lurking out there that you think can make a significant impact in fantasy baseball this year?

Marc Normandin: It's weird, I haven't been able to put together much of a list of those kinds of guys this year, partially because PECOTA seems very conservative with the kids this year (not counting Matt Wieters, of course). I'm going to have to go through everything again for my own draft to see what I can find, because right now, the pickings are pretty slim.

Paul (Miami,OH): Marc, Who would you take if the best catching options left were Bengie Molina or Jorge Posada?

Marc Normandin: Posada. PECOTA is overstating his decline a bit, given he missed with an injury last year. He may not be the Posada of old, but Molina isn't the greatest catcher around either.

birkem3 (Dayotn, OH): In a standard 5x5 roto, when do you usually start drafting pitchers? With your first pitcher, do you usually go starter or reliever?

Marc Normandin: Depends on where I am in the draft. I tend to stock up on hitters, as I can identify and pick up pitchers people missed on during the year, so I don't pick a starter until the third round at the earliest most of the time. I barely pick relievers even when I'm forced to; I'm guilty of punting Saves more than any other category.

polyspast (Brooklyn): Marc- Thanks for the chat. Going to see Dan Auerbach (the guitarist for the Black Keys) tonight. Pretty psyched. Which injured/aging pitchers do you consider grabbing in the last 2-3 rounds to stash on your bench or DL slot if you have one? I'm thinking Smoltz, Carpenter, Sheets etc...

Marc Normandin: I love the Black Keys! Great band. I would go with Smoltz for late, though I think he'll be gone before then. Carpenter too, as his name has been across a lot of headlines this winter as a key figure on the Cards' roster.

ericturner29 (Chicago): AL central pick? What do you expect out of the Tribe big three? (Sizemore/Victor/hafner)

Marc Normandin: I expect Victor to rebound, Sizemore to be his normally awesome self, and Hafner to do neither of those things!

Time for the lightning round, folks.

MarinerDan (SF, CA): I am excited for Uncharted 2. Please tell me you got to experience the first Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

Marc Normandin: Uncharted is still one of the top five games I've played on my PS3, and I'm pretty psyched for the second one. I heard they got rid of the bullet sponges from the first one, though I didn't have much trouble with them. Headshots = win.

Roel Torres (Somerville, MA): Hey Marc, Are you going to attend the Baseball Analysis talk at Tufts University that Jeremy Greenhouse is organizing in March? Just curious. Hope to see you there. --Roel

Marc Normandin: Hey there Roel, I will be attending! It's going to be fun to be on a panel with some other writers, some I know and some I don't. I'm looking forward to coming down.

Eric (LA): There are a few players who differ drastically on BP vs. other rankings. Can you please explain this in general (eg, are steals weighted more on BP?) and specifically address the following players: Josh Hamilton, Carlos Lee, Vic Martinez, Furcal, Votto... thanks!

Marc Normandin: Well, I like balanced players (I feel like I'm starting to sound like a broken record with that today). I don't care much for players who excel in one single category if they can't help you out elsewhere; it's not that I avoid them entirely, but I prefer letting other people overvalue them. I don't weight SB more than other categories; I would say I may be guilty of giving power a bit more credit than the others, solely because I think it helps with RBI, and if a guy has a high OBP and is on a good team, I give him a bit more of a boost because of his R, especially if he can also swing the bat a bit.

I do use steals as a tiebreaker often it seems, for when players are similar otherwise.

Shaun P. (Medway, MA): Marc, since it seems pretty clear that "free previews" whet a customer's appetite for a product, why doesn't MLB.TV do a free preview during spring training? Thanks for doing the chat today and the book tour tonight!

Marc Normandin: Good question, though I think they do free trials for a week during the season. That's probably the reasoning.

Glad to do the chat, as well as the event tonight!

Aaron (YYZ): This is the year for Hermida to really arrive, right? right??

Marc Normandin: I won't be burned again, Jeremy, you hear me?!?

JB (PA): Hmm, mega-hype based upon a single minor league season at age 22, sounds familiar...So what are the odds that Wieters becomes Alex Gordon?

Marc Normandin: Gordon is coming along surely (but slowly) but I think that's your point. Let's see what Wieters can do before we all blow our budgets and early picks on him, shall we?

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Was the write up on S. Drew in this year's annual something you buy into? It mentioned he could be an MVP candidate moving forward, but that seems higher than his ceiling.

Marc Normandin: I think that's fair. He's an MVP candidate in the sense that someone like Morneau is; he's completely capable of six months of excellent production that will put him in the spotlight and net him an award, but when he regresses he's still a great player.

I wonder about his defense a bit, but his bat is good and getting better.

Rob (Brighton): Going a bit further with the Manny thing. He always got such a raw deal from some of the media around here. There are some curmudgeonly guys that will talk for hours of playing the game the right way (Bob Ryan, I'm looking at you). Screw that. 25 guys playing the game the right way may win a lot of ball games, but that'd be a boring team to watch. Baseball is better when the idiosyncrasies come out, like how Dice-K wiggles his @$$ before throwing a pitch, or Nomar plays with his gloves after each swing. Baseball is special because it allows for that, let it happen.

Marc Normandin: Bill Simmons did a great job with that this year. I may be acting like a total Manny fanboy about this, but I'm just as annoyed at Rob about the local media's handling of the situation.

Austin Kearns (DC): I've been replaced by Hermida as too many fantasy player's great white whale.

Marc Normandin: Back in your cage, Austin! Who said you could come out?

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Thank you. Would you then have Drew as the third most valuable SS commodity in keeper leagues?

Marc Normandin: You're welcome! I ranked him fourth, assuming Rollins would be a little better than 2008 (but not like he used to be) and would also have steals to help make up for the differences in hitting.

kccputech (Kansas City, KS): Looking at the numbers I don't see why anyone would draft A-Rod over David Wright. Thoughts?

Marc Normandin: Wright's my favorite for the position, but I also like Chipper Jones a sliver more than A-Rod, which apparently makes me a terrible person ;-)

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): For AL-only purposes in '09 do you like Bonderman, Galarraga, or Jackson out of DET's rotation? (or none of the above)

Marc Normandin: Steer clear of Jackson. Bonderman still worries me until he shows me I should feel otherwise (remember, he wasn't a mess health wise in 2007). Galarraga is useful, but he was over his head in 2008 as well. So I guess steering clear of them (minus maybe Galarraga late) is the best course of action.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Too bad Primanti's Sandwiches don't count for anything. They are the best thing at PNC Park. They're really something...

Marc Normandin: You're going to make Nate McLouth very sad by saying that, you know!

Marc Normandin: Thanks for coming by today folks, and sorry for the questions I couldn't get to. I'll be at Boston University's Barnes & Noble bookstore tonight with Kevin Goldstein, Steven Goldman and David Laurila talking about the book and baseball, so if you're in the area, come on down!


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