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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday April 20, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.

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Check in with Joe Sheehan of "Daily Prospectus" to talk about the first two weeks' worth of action on the diamond, and what we have to look forward to from there.

Joe Sheehan: I have no witty introduction today.

david (kc): The Indians are, by my calc., 11 games under .500 in Mar/April the last 6 years. Couple that with the team's tendency to underperform Pythaganport-wise, does Wedge need to go? It's not his fault C. Pavano is the No. 3 starter but....

Joe Sheehan: I watched Friday's game with a pretty bright Indians fan, and suffice to say he's not enamored of Wedge. I don't like his bullpen management, although Rafael Perez would make anyone look bad right now. His refusal to shift the infield around into its correct alignment is also frustrating. Overall, I see Wedge as part of the vast middle ground of managers who exist, rather than actually "do."

Steve (Seattle): Strasburg or Wieters?

Joe Sheehan: Weiters. Young pitcher versus tall catcher is a high-risk bet either way.

mike (maryland): Who would you rather have for the long term: Elijah Dukes or Adam Jones?

Joe Sheehan: Adam Jones, for being a bit younger, a true center fielder, and a bit less risky in non-baseball areas.

aclaykearney (St. Pete, FL): In your Kazmir article, you mention the possibility of adding a CF so that Upton can make the move to RF. What would this mean for Matt Joyce? Is his future as a DH?

Joe Sheehan: Matt Joyce isn't a player who drives decision-making, so what happens to him is something of a tertiary concern. He's a platoon outfielder in the Choo class, someone who can help a team if he gets to play, but no star potential.

Eric Chavez (Doctor's Office): Does Adrian Cardenas take over for me next season at third base? What kind of production can we expect out of him?

Joe Sheehan: Kevin had a bit about him in today's Ten Pack. My take is that the bat may not play at third base--he'd have to hit a lot of doubles or draw more walks, and playing in Oakland chips away at your BA a bit. In the short term, trying him there makes sense, especially since so much of Mark Ellis' value is actual (defensive) rather than perceived, making him a lousy trade chit. Could Ellis move back to short?

OPP (yeah, you know me) (Austin): Joe Sheehan would complete the 26.2 miles in . . .

Joe Sheehan: ..his dreams.

Mark Mulder (Pitcher's Mound): What do you predict I could provide a team that gives me a contract after all my surgeries?

Joe Sheehan: Organs.

GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): Has anyone ever had 3 consecutive starts as bad as Wang's? If I'm Kevin Towers, I have Cashman on my speed dial. Do you think the Yanks are ripe for an over-reaction here? As a fan of anyone but the Yankees, I sure hope so.

Joe Sheehan: I filed late, but the Wang issue is the topic for today's column, which should show up during the chat. Summary: we've seen this before, and the solution is patience and work, not transactions.

The Dude Abides (Springfield): Discussion of the Yankee Stadium jet stream is mandatory. Yeah, I know, it's four games, but it's at least worth discussion and investigation. Also, has Pecota apologized to the Marlins yet?

Joe Sheehan: The ball flies. It reminds me of Arlington in that sense. Maybe it's small sample, warm days, any number of reasons, but certainly the day I was there, the ball traveled in a way that was surprising, even disorienting. "That's a fly to right..no...wait..." I don't think it's good or bad--I don't think high-scoring environments are amoral--but my anecotal evidence is that the ball travels very, very well.

And yet...four games.

tremont (Settle a Bet, New York): Better player- Kinsler or Cano? Got bragging rights and two weeks worth of arguments on this one. Thanks.

Joe Sheehan: I think Kinsler, although Cano's durability has to be considered. Kinsler is also, by the metrics, a pretty lousy second baseman. It's closer than their 2008 lines would indicate, and even as I write this I'm...not convinced. I might sign on for a third week of arguments.

Nick (Iowa): Time for a reset - the Marlins finish with how many wins? The Nats finish with how many losses? You never want to overreact to two weeks, but geesh . . .

Joe Sheehan: Yeah, let's put the brakes on the Marlins stuff. They're 6-0 against the Nationals, and at that, they won two games in extra innings and trailed for most of the weekend. They have two wins against a Braves team that, IIRC, was down two starters. Schedules and some close-game success can really warp perceptions at this time of the year--we did this with the Cardinals last year, who played a silly schedule for the first two months. And I think I remember the Marlins doing this to the Nationals in '07 or '08 as well.

The Nationals...what we've seen may tell us more about them. They simply don't have enough major-league pitchers. This is the years of neglect, going back to Montreal, coming home to roost. And if you blame Manny Acta for that--if they do--it's a mistake.

Randy (Ann Arbor, MI): In the last 5 years or so, the following statements have been generally true about the D-Backs: (1) they have had a lot of highly-touted hitting prospects in their minor league system, (2) those same prospects are currently having a lot of trouble putting runs on the board at the major league level, and (3) Carlos Quentin didn't take off until he landed in Chicago. If you had to speculate, what do you think is going on in the desert?

Joe Sheehan: Do you have to look at Bob Melvin a little? His handling of Justin Upton this year sure is less than impressive, and he's got an affection for Tony Clark that's a little weird. Young players need to play, both for reps and so that they can develop without feeling that their career lives or dies on their next AB.

I don't know if Melvin is the cause of the stagnation of some of these guys, but I don't think he's helped them.

mattymatty (Philly): In reference to the troubles of Wang, you wrote, "we've seen this before,". According to the blog River Ave. Blues, we have not, in fact, seen this before. "Of the 18 pitchers since 1954, to give up seven or more earned runs in three consecutive starts, Chien-Ming Wangís totals are by far the worst of the lot." Thoughts? Am I taking you too literally (if so I apologize)?

Joe Sheehan: It's a difference of degree, not kind.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Joe, final thoughts on the NCAA tourney?

Joe Sheehan: It was one of the least memorable of the decade. That's not to take anything away from Carolina, which beat some great teams, dominated them, to win, but the tournament lacked drama and storylines. There were some fun games, some good ones, but not enough. It happens.

dianagramr (NYC): Afternoon Joe ... thanks for the chat. How soon til the Yanks lower ticket prices, and what do you think is a reasonable price for a field level seat between the bases at the Stadium (besides "whatever the market will bear?")

Joe Sheehan: Is anyone talking about this yet? The most stunning thing about the game Friday was the broad swaths of empty seats on the field level. There was a completely empty section down the first-base line right by the field, then big empty areas in what we would have called "main" in the old park as you moved in towards home plate, and pockets of empty seats behind the plate. It looked like PNC Park, and it's ridiculous.

I know that the team is still advertising for those seats, so I don't think this was "a bunch of people no-showed." This is the top brand in sports unable to sell prime seats in its first games in a new park, which has to be a pricing issue. I don't know how you address that--can you lower prices without pissing off the buyers? And how low can you go? This is a problem throughout the field level seats--supply is killing demand.

I don't know what the answer is, but this is a huge story, IMO. I'm curious to see how it plays out.

KO (Pittsfield, MA): Matt LaPorta is raking at AAA: what do you estimate his ETA to be and who will he be taking PT from?

Joe Sheehan: Ben Francisco isn't an everyday player, more a fourth outfielder, so you could start there. An offense/defense platoon makes some sense with those two. LaPorta can also get time at 1B for Ryan Garko and ... well, Travis Hafner isn't quite ready to cede DH, it appears.

I'd get LaPorta up pretty soon.

Maurice (Brooklyn): Joe, what's your take on Edwin Jackson's start to the season? I realize it's only three starts, but it looks like he's cut down on his walk rate. Do you think he can maintain this control as the season goes on?

Joe Sheehan: I do. He was just so young when the DOdgers called him up, and then he got traded to the AL East...the talent is there, and the Rays did a very good job with him last year. I don't know that the Tigers are the best place to continue developing, but I think the steps forward we've seen are real, and he'll be a midrotation guy for a while. There's not a star upside, but if you can picture...maybe Gil Meche? Bronson Arroyo? That kind of guy.

Steve (Clearwater, FL): 2009 Marlins = 1987 Brewers with a loss.

Joe Sheehan: I don't hate that. Christina said that to me this morning as well. Chris Volstad as Juan Nieves? Works for me.

Lefty Grove (Cooperstown): How can the Padres march into Philadelphia without a left-handed pitcher on staff? Heck, it's just bad business anywhere, isn't it?

Joe Sheehan: Probably a reluctance to acquire pitchers early in the season.

Rick (Madison): "This is a problem throughout the field level seats--supply is killing demand." Could follow the A's model and just not sell tickets for a bunch of seats, creating more of a scarcity and hope that picks things up.

Joe Sheehan: The only seats not selling are the field level ones. It looked like a sellout, more or less, in the rest of the ballpark. You can't take back the tickets you've sold.

Gavin (County Ct.): If Chris Davis continues his struggles will it become time for a Smoak break?

Joe Sheehan: I've been bearish on Davis all year. His strikeout rate won't allow him to hit enough. Justin Smoak, as crazy as it sounds, may be a better player already. He certainly will be by next April. In between...I think if they were to bail on Davis, Max Ramirez would get the ABs.

JamesMartinCole (New York): Still though, it's not like the Marlins shouldn't be an alright team this year. They've got a pretty good offense, decent enough pitching w/ some upside. I don't think they're going to win the division, but is a winning record really that far out of reach?

Joe Sheehan: No. They'll be within a few games of .500 in either direction. But the idea that they're a juggernaut is driven by the Nationals' bullpen, and that's a silly reason to like a team.

lpiklor (chicago): I know bullpen usage is a bugaboo of yours - and it's becoming one of mine by extension - but have you seen any usage yet this year that makes you glad? Is ANYone doing it the Joe Sheehan Way?

Joe Sheehan: Not as a pattern, no. As far as I can tell, every manager in baseball is picking their relievers based solely on inning and score. Until the nominal best reliever faces the middle of the lineup in the eighth inning, and the second-best guy faces the bottom of the lineup in the ninth, I'm going to ride this hobby horse.

And no, it doesn't count if the manager gets it right because he's misidentifying his pitchers.

Silv (NY, NY): I'm sort of surprised that there isn't more media coverage of the Dodgers dominance over the past eight games - they are WHIPPING teams and aren't really firing on all cylinders yet. This is the best 1-8 in the NL and Billingsley and Kershaw have been lights out, Broxton has been unhittable; assuming Kuroda comes back strong, they have a solid rotation and depth in McDonald. Thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: They're on my list for this week. My standard line on them has been that I don't think much of Casey Blake, but if he's your eighth-best hitter, you have a lineup. The pitching depth worries me--not a Randy Wolf fan, the back of the bullpen is shaky--but from 1-17 or so, it's a heck of a roster. Best team in that division, especially given the Diamondbacks' problems developing those bats.

Dylan (Toronto): Felix Hernandez: Top 3 in Cy Young Balloting in 20_

Joe Sheehan: 07. Wait. 08. No...09.

I've been wrong on him before. I'll keep trying.

sbryk7 (NYC): Hi Joe. Who is most likely to have success this year and long term?: Yovani Gallardo, Clayton Kershaw and Andrew Miller.

Joe Sheehan: Kershaw's in a different, better class than the other two, in both cases.

Manny (DC): This only matters for fantasy - who gets saves for the Nats?

Joe Sheehan: Mock is next in line, and I don't expect that to go well. I was disappointed that they caught Steven Shell in the purge, as I think he's one of the better options. They'll circle back to Hanrahan by June 15 and he'll end up leading the team.

John Lannan (D.C.): Was last year a fluke for me? I feel like I'm a true #1-2 pitcher. Do you disagree?

Joe Sheehan: Yeah. You're a #4, maybe a #5. Too much contact.

ssteadman (St. Louis, MO): White Sox fan here: Brian Anderson is seeing significantly more pitches in his plate appearances this year, with the result that he is walking a lot more. Even though he doesn't have an extra base hit yet, are we at the point where we should just give him the job and let him run with it, knowing that he may take his lumps but still be more valuable than he was in 2006?

Joe Sheehan: You were at that point two years ago. Anderson, if nothing else, is a plus defender between two guys who need that. He's ridiculously better than all of the other options combined, and I say that expecting him to hit .265/.310/.370. Guillen has to just run him out there, batting ninth, and let him save enough runs to make the pitching look adequate.

Ethan (Berkshire County): How long do the Buc's keep Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez in the minors?

Joe Sheehan: McCutchen should be up by Flag Day. We won't see Alvarez until 2010.

danbrod11 (Greenwich, CT): Re: Sheehan bullpen usage...what if the manager is misidentifying his pitchers on purpose? If I know that Carlos Marmol is a better pitcher than Kevin Gregg, I am sure Pinella knows it too. But by naming Gregg his "closer" Lou is now able to use Marmol in high leverage situations without the controversy of using his "closer" in the 7th inning. I know your answer will be, "who cares about the controversy" but it would exist and be a distraction. This may be Lou's work-around.

Joe Sheehan: Maybe. But we're back to the inning issue. If the #7 spot leads off the eighth in a one-run game, in your scenario, Gregg should pitch the eighth. He won't.

The inning needs to be removed as the driving factor in these decisions. The entire closer myth is predicated on the idea that the ninth is somehow harder than the seventh and eighth, regardless of other factors. That's false, and damaging.

Chris (NJ): What is the problem with Alexei Ramirez?

Joe Sheehan: This has been stuck in the queue for a calendar year, I presume.

He's not that great at baseball. Good tools that enable him to do some things, but the skills are nowhere to be found. Juan Samuel with less upside.

brian (Brooklyn NY): At what age did people stop calling you "Joey"?

Joe Sheehan: I started complaining about it in high school. No one called me that in college or later. If you knew me before I was 15, though, you get a pass.

Objectively AWESOME (Texas): The much loathed Ian Kennedy is obliterating AAA. Should NY call him up and maybe give a couple of other starters a "time out" to collect their wits?

Joe Sheehan: The Yankees have a roster construction issue in that it would be hard to move any of their starters out of the rotation without creating a problem, and yet, they have three MLB-caliber starters dying to get to the majors in Kennedy, Hughes and...wait for it...Aceves. They also need a long reliever, and have instead called up Claggett--who, I'll confess, I'd never heard of before Saturday--and Jackson for that role. That's without getting into the live arms they have for the bullpen.

You shouldn't be screwing with your rotation two weeks in, anyway.

rick (co): Any thoughts on the post-Littlefield era in Pittsburgh? While I'm encouraged by the lack of bone-headed moves, there hasn't been much tangible progress yet either. Or am I missing things?

Joe Sheehan: You're not going to see progress in the short term. The talent base isn't there. Andy LaRoche is the guy to watch this year, and Ian Snell as well; are they part of the 2011 team, the one that might get to .500, or not. The championship core is Alvarez, McCutchen, Tabata and the next two #1 picks. Maybe Doumit.

prhood (St. John's, NL): Recognizing that it's real early days but Toronto fans have to be a little encouraged by the good start. Can the pitching staff hold up? And, although some regression is to be expected , is the hitting almost for real?

Joe Sheehan: The infield has a 1000 OPS, give or take a few points. So I'm going to say, "no." The offense is better for having Lind and Snider, but it won't be enough to make up for the extra runs they'll give up this year. Caveat: if I'm really wrong about Ricky Romero, who's missed more bats than I expected him to, they can win 82-84 games.

tom (Squaresville): How good does Zack Greinke look right about now? Are the Royals contenders if he takes the next step up?

Joe Sheehan: Not unless the next step up involves playing second base and posting a .375 OBP.

Dan (Saint Louis): Joe, have pitchers figured out how to pitch to Rick Ankiel or is it still too early?

Joe Sheehan: Too early. His rates are stable. The power will come, but you have to expect a .260 BA. He's not that much different from Duncan at the plate.

Dylan (Toronto): Who is your favourite early season "sample-size all star" of all time?

Joe Sheehan: Wasn't early-season, but Kevin Maas. If I have to start from Opening Day, give me...what was the year Ruben Sierra started great for like the Mariners? 2002.

bam022 (Chicago): What's the ETA on Gordon Beckham. He's been tearing it up in AA. Also, do you see him moving to 2B in the majors? He's still at SS in the minors.

Joe Sheehan: The reason to play him at short is so that you'll move Ramirez to CF, but that presumes Ramirez improves on last year and is better overall than Anderson. I don't think you move Ramirez to 2B, because he's terrible there and the bat doesn't play.

At what point do we scratch our heads and wonder why we're making so many decisions around Alexei Ramirez? Maybe he should be the supersub, starting four days a week at four positions and pinch-running for Jim Thome the other days.

Sean (nyc): Are you surprised by how much vitriol New Yorkers seem to have for their new stadiums? There's not a lot of positive reviews coming in for either stadium, which is strange considering how much New Yorkers love to feel that they have the *best* things out of everyone in the country.

Joe Sheehan: The Citi thing, as far as I can tell, is mostly about the obstructed views from so many seats. That's a real problem at these prices, and telling people to watch the TVs isn't a solution worthy of anything but a punch in the mouth. At Yankee, it's really a pricing error, not a ballpark complaint. I liked it, but I may have been delirious due to the first warm day since September.

Both parks are better than their predecessors. How that plays for any individual will vary.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Everyone is acting like the Nats' bullpen shuffle was the result of some major panic. But Zimmermann was scheduled to come up for this start way back in March, and other than Saul Rivera, the front end of the rotation remains in tact (Hanrahan, Beimel, Hinckley, Tavares). Isn't this a non-story?

Joe Sheehan: Would it have looked like this had they not led with three outs to go, three straight days, and lost all three games? Probably not. So there's an element of panic.

Rose Nylund (Orange County, CA): A meteor is flamin' towards Southern California, and you can direct it towards one of the stadiums, during a game. Padres, Angels, Dodgers. Which one is a goner? AND WHY.

Joe Sheehan: Anaheim, because as a fan, I still haven't gotten over Game Four of the 2002 Division Series. And I never liked Orange County much.

Jericho (The Moon): Jeremy Hermida? Buying or selling?

Joe Sheehan: Buying, and in a big way.

Nick (nyc): Joe, with Johjima out the Ms have brought up Jamie Burke instead of Jeff Clement. Could the Mariners have done more to drive down Clement's trade value than starting him in AAA and leaving him down there?

Joe Sheehan: I don't know. They could leak that he has an auto-immune disease, or that he was a predatory lender. Once the Mariners signed Griffey, Clement was screwed, but the Johjima injury should have saved him. It was a chance to give him two weeks of catching in the majors to see if he can really play the position. The only guess I'd make is that they've decided he can't, and that his future is at 1B/DH.

Lightning round. I could do this all day, but I'm getting hungry.

mattymatty (Philly): Devil's advocate: Does your statement that the Dodgers have the best team in that division mean you are giving some/any credit to Ned Colletti?

Joe Sheehan: Who are Colletti's Dodgers? Ramirez, Blake, Wolf, Hudson. Two of those were pretty good signings, and really, he played the Ramirez thing well. So yes, he gets credit for that.

iorg34 (Neptune): My deepest thanks for your dispensing with the small talk -- note to Caroll & Co.: I don't care what you're drinking, what tripe you're listening to, what color socks you have on. Keep your ego stroking to yourself. As always, love the cantankeranalysis.

Joe Sheehan: Sad. I like that stuff. No one asks me. [snif]

Jon (SF): Halladay is the best pitcher, yes or no?

Joe Sheehan: Santana.

Joe (Washington D.C.): What is the ETA for Stephen Strasburg? Could he pitch in Washington before this September?

Joe Sheehan: May 2010. Lincecum's path, Prior's path, more or less. There's no reason at all to have him up this year. I'd shut him down the day I drafted him.

Big D (DC): What are you going to eat?

Joe Sheehan: I have no idea. In large quantities.

Ryan (NJ): Speaking of Ankiel, do you remember which camp you were in WRT his chances of making it as an everyday ML outfielder? I was in the NO CHANCE camp. Glad to have been wrong.

Joe Sheehan: I was wrong about him as well.

Joe Beimel (Washington): Why can't I be next in line for the Nationals saves?

Joe Sheehan: It's rare that the lefty setup guy makes that jump. Sherrill did, I guess, but he's not really an endosement. Same for C.J. Wilson. You just end up giving up the platoon advantage in too many spots.

SC (Minneapolis): Both you and Christina have written repeatedly about roster misuse and the ensuing bullpen misuse that follows. What in your mind is the optimal position player/pitcher breakdown for a roster with a five man rotation (leaving discussions of a four man rotation for another day)? Does the answer differ in the DH league?

Joe Sheehan: 14/11 or 15/10. If you're forcing me to use a five-man rotation, I probably need 11 pitchers. I'd prefer a five-day rotation that allows me to bring back the swingman.

whatever (atlanta): Hoq do you view adam wainwright as a starter? Is 2008 as good as it gets for him?

Joe Sheehan: I think he has something to prove from a durability standpoint. On a per-inning basis, he can improve on last season, but he needs to show he can stay in the rotation all year.

brian (Brooklyn NY): Why dont the Natinals trade one of their 75+ outfielders for a young arm and let said young arm close?

Joe Sheehan: Because the guys they'd want to trade don't have much trade value, and the guys that have trade value are part of their core. It's not that easy.

Jon (SF): Will Clark and/or John Olerud for the HOF? I know Clark went off after one year, but I think he should have stayed on.

Joe Sheehan: Neither.

craig (boston): Do you think Masterson sticks in Boston's rotation?

Joe Sheehan: No, just because of the sheer quantity of other options and his experience in the pen.

DKANDREWS1 (DC): Need an early prediction Joe - Where will Pujols be playing 1st base in 2012 and for how much per year?

Joe Sheehan: Cardinals, $26MM.

Joe Sheehan: Thanks for the time and the questions, everyone. I'll be back soon to do this again. Unless I have three bad columns in a row, in which case I might get released by BP.


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