Join BP stathead Eric Seidman for a discussion of what comes when "Checking the Numbers" in his first-ever BP.com chat!
Eric Seidman: Alrighty, it is officially time to officially begin my first official BP chat. Let's get goin!
Robert (NYC): Eric, your first chat and you are late. Like being late for your first day of work.
Eric Seidman: Late? It's actually 3:29 where I'm at, which is the same time zone as you. Might want to reset your clock!
Christina Kahrl (BP Volcano Hideout): Welcome to showbiz, and break a leg!
Eric Seidman: I'm sweating like John Turturro in Quiz Show right now!
ashitaka (long beach, ca): More likely Hall of Famer, Edmonds or Posada?
Eric Seidman: My personal feeling is that they should both get in, but that Edmonds won't pass the smell test for most voters. If Posada puts up another couple solid seasons it has to be pretty hard to deny his induction.
Some dude (San Diego): Is my opportunity to sneak into the Padres' rotation in jeopardy now that this Glavine character is available? I really don't want to have to go back to my 9-to-5 job.
Eric Seidman: I'm not sure what Glavine would even provide the Padres given his recent bouts with ineffectiveness and injuries. I'm also a firm believer that Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz should go into the HOF together, so I would hope he doesn't sign on with the Padres, or anyone else. These three will forever be linked in time together, and it's a bit sad to see them when they aren't as effective. Then again, Smoltz can still bring it if he's capable of throwing.
David (Boston): With Smoltz and Buchholz close to being available, who do the Red Sox take out of the rotation? Is a Wakefield phantom DL imminent?
Eric Seidman: This is an example of a good problem to have and why it pays off to not just have depth at a position, but a slew of solid contributors who could benefit plenty of other teams. Wakefield shouldn't have to go to the DL to make room for either Smoltz or Buchholz. Teams are going to be calling about Brad Penny and the Sox should be able to get something tangible in return. Smoltz has a questionable history of health and so any contributions from him should be considered a bonus. The great thing about Wake is that you can relegate him to the bullpen and not risk him really hurting himself with the different methods of warming up. So, perhaps they can unload Penny and push Wakefield to the bullpen until someone gets hurt. Or, let Buchholz start from the pen and work his way into the majors. AAA isn't MLB.
Jack (Seattle): Do you live in fear knowing that it's only a matter of time before Ruben Amaro trades me half the farm system for Erik Bedard?
Eric Seidman: The Phillies have about a 2-year window of really being solid competitors for a postseason slot and potentially the World Series. They definitely need another solid starting pitcher with the question marks surrounding Jamie Moyer. Blanton has been more effective recently, Hamels is back, and JA Happ looks like the real deal as a back of the rotation pitcher as well. But for a potential playoff team, do you really want to rely on Antonio Bastardo, a prospect that some Phillies fans didn't even know about? I would certainly be in favor of unloading key prospects to get someone to solidify their rotation. Ideally that someone would be Roy Oswalt or Jake Peavy, but if it's Bedard for half of a season in exchange for roadblocked prospects, so be it.
sbryk7 (Brooklyn, NY): Hello Eric. Who do you like better for the rest of the year Carlos Zambrano or John Maine. Thanks.
Eric Seidman: I've never really been high on John Maine, though I can certainly see why others have been. Over the last three years he has seen rather dramatic declines in both his strikeout and walk rates. Zambrano, on the other hand, has consistently shown that he can sustain BABIPs below .300, strand rates in the 75% range, and ERAs that best his FIPs. Additionally, his strikeout rate is at its highest since 2006. As long as he stays healthy (a caveat you could throw out there for every player) I would take him down the stretch.
strupp (Madison): Eric, can you give us a short bio, and give us an idea what your favorite focus or such is? Thanks.
Eric Seidman: Sure. I'm 23, from Philadelpia, PA. I got my undergrad at Penn State in Film and I am currently attending LaSalle University for an MBA concentrating in both Accounting and Finance. In addition to writing for BP and Fangraphs, I am an accountant for a movie studio here in Philly, marrying both of my degrees. My focus is predominantly statistical analysis and my goal with every piece I pen is to both assuage misconceptions about stats and their usage and provide readers with something tangible they can walk away with.
josher464 ((NYC)): Similar to the Phillies question then, shouldn't the Mets be trying to trade Fernando Martinez (a desired prospect they 've shown no intention of playing) for some goodies they can use now?
Eric Seidman: If they are holding onto him because he is one of their top prospects and they feel they have a relatively small window for actually remaining competitive, then yes. However, I tend to think the Mets have more of a chance of being successful with their core a few years down the road than the Phillies. Remember, Rollins/Utley/Howard/Werth/Ibanez/Victorino are all north of 28.
Jon (DC): Have heard widely different views of the McLouth trade. Where do you stand?
Eric Seidman: This just depends on how you view McLouth. If you consider him to be a perennial all-star and gold glove winner, then the Pirates didn't make out well in the deal. However, McLouth is destined to be a corner outfielder and last season sure looks like a career year. One thing I like to avoid is basing definitive claims on players/issues that I don't know all that well, and I don't know enough about Locke/Gorkys/Morton to really say whether or not they truly got a raw deal. It seems odd that they didn't get a real "name" in return, but who knows? Five years from now Gorkys might be having a McLouth-type breakout.
Jake H (Kansas City): What would you do to fix the Royals?
Eric Seidman: Dayton Moore, I'd like you to meet On Base Percentage.
JJ (SF): A film guy. Have you seen Up yet? Terrific.
Eric Seidman: Going this weekend... The Hangover, Land of the Lost, and Up.
strupp (Madison): But that didn't tell us anything... well, important. Gamer? Music? Beatles: Good, Great, Greatest of All Time, Overrated? Favorite TV Show? Dwight or Andy?
Eric Seidman: Not really a gamer. I think I stopped when Resident Evil 2 scared the crap out of me. Music - Jackson 5, Hootie and the Blowfish, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Metallica, plenty of others. Freaks and Geeks and How I Met Your Mother to go along with The X-Files and South Park. Dwight in a landslide.
choms57 (Philly): Shameless plug here, but check out phuturephillies.com for Phils prospects. Anyways, love your work on fangraphs, being a Phillies fan myself I need to ask. How satisfied are you with the season so far and would you deem Brown and Drabek untouchable?
Eric Seidman: I'm the kind of guy that considers nobody untouchable. If the Mets, for whatever reason, called Amaro and said "Hey Rube, Johan for Brown and Drabek?" it wouldn't make much sense given the window the Phillies are currently playing with and that Brown and Drabek MIGHT be good in the big leagues in 2012. It's all about the goals of the organization. It seems to be very tough to both win now and prepare yourself to win in the future, and if the Phillies have to unload Drabek and Brown in order to get an Oswalt/Peavy type, they should do it.
MikeJordan23 (Brooklyn): If he stays healthy, will Chris Carpenter be the best pitcher in the NL the rest of the season?
Eric Seidman: Whenever a question starts with "if he stays healthy" there is a really good chance that player will not stay healthy. Carpenter can make tremendous contributions to a team but I would take Johan and/or Lincecum over him in a heartbeat.
Bonds Fan (Bay Area): Do baseball people think Jonathan Sanchez is worth as much as Nick Johnson in a trade?
Eric Seidman: Apples and Oranges. Sanchez is a 26-yr old lefty with a proven ability to miss bats who would be on the verge of all-stardom if he could stop walking people. Nick Johnson is a 30-yr old on base machine who has played 140+ games once in his previous eight seasons, at a position primarily filled by guys who mash a bit more.
Tim (Portland): There's a movie studio in Philadelphia?
Eric Seidman: Yep, there are a few, and there have also been a wide array of different productions here in the last few years. Philly offers really great tax incentives to film here but there are several politicians currently (for some strange reason) trying to take the tax credits away. It boggles my mind... filming movies here spurs the economy of the city, creating jobs and interest.
Lance Berkman (Houston, TX): Eric, why am I not demanding to be traded? I know I'm from Houston, went to Rice, etc. but doesn't my team have the absolute worst future of any team in the majors? Terrible record, run differential, and oh yeah, worst farm system in the MLB!
Eric Seidman: There is no way this is Lance Berkman.
mafrth77 (Boston): Is Wang really back? I just don't see that an "injury" that was serious enough to turn him into what we saw in April is minor enough to get over in a month. I think he is just all done.
Eric Seidman: CC Sabathia's first 4 starts in 2008: 4 GS, 18 IP, 32 H, 27 ER, 14 BB, 14 K. That is all.
Mike (Cleveland): What do you expect from Berkman the rest of the way? What about other slow starters, like Hart and Atkins?
Eric Seidman: The appeal of Corey Hart continues to escape me... the guy racks up a lot of counting stats because he had so many plate appearances. Even last year, when he had 45 2B, 6 3B, and 20 HR, he only managed a .459 SLG, which is something you might expect out of a guy like Victorino. Hart isn't bad, but he isn't an all star and you can color me unimpressed. As for Berkman, I can certainly see him finishing with a line akin to his numbers in 2007.
Robert (SF): Can you please tell M Night to stop making movies in Philly. He is giving the city a bad name.
Eric Seidman: In baseball terms, Shyamalan hit 50 HR in his rookie season and has since ranged from 20-25, not awful but certainly disappointing by comparison. Except his Juan Pierre-like 3 HR season with Lady in the Water.
G. Guest (Kansas): What's one or two of the more valuable stats that most baseball fans don't know about?
Eric Seidman: I don't think there is really any one or two stats out there, per se, but rather more underrated stats that offer a heck of a lot of information. Plate Discipline stats are one of my favorite groups because they provide a ton of granular information that helps to explain why certain players are performing the way they do. But as with any "new" stat, it can easily become used so often that people forget to add context or use it as a support, when context needs to be omnipresent and the stat should be used as a support.
Raj (Philadelphia, PA): I can attest to Philadelphia being a great spot to film movies- I was at Penn when Transformers filmed a movie spot there last summer (though those scenes didn't take place in a studio). Anyway, the Pirates have a positive run differential and a record near .500, and (notwithstanding yesterday's trade) is this a complete fluke or can they really finish with 75-80 wins?
Eric Seidman: The Pirates have one of the strongest team defenses out there but they are getting the following strikeout rates from their starters: 6.41, 5.00, 4.78, 4.57, 3.93. I would still peg them for around 72 or so wins but it isn't out of the realm of possibility that they get up to 75-80.
bam022 (Chicago): Who is the baseball equivalent of Daniel Day Lewis?
Eric Seidman: I don't know of any baseball players who decided to stop playing, move to Italy, and become cobblers.
ScotMartin (TX): Angels or Rangers in the AL West? And why?
Eric Seidman: I'm taking the Rangers. People are so quick to look at offensively heavy teams and say that you can't win championships or divisions without pitching, but it isn't as if the Rangers are giving out starts to Radhamez Liz and Adam Eaton. I can see this one coming down to the wire.
Tom (Chicago): Considering everything that has gone wrong for the Cubs, being 3.5 out shows this team is going to take this division. Agree?
Eric Seidman: Eh... more than likely they will win the division but being 3.5 out while suffering all of these setbacks doesn't guarantee anything.
MetsGeek (Go Mets): Let's Go Mets. I had to say it, sorry.
Eric Seidman: I picked the Mets to narrowly edge out the Phillies for the division earlier on but I am honestly now of the opinion that the Phillies are going to build a lead similar to the one the Mets had in 2006.
brian (Brooklyn NY): Opinions on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia?
Eric Seidman: Never got into it.
Jay (Dallas): Areyou concerned with the performance of Derek Holland?
Eric Seidman: He's 22, has a K/BB of 2.40 and has been victimized by a .337 BABIP and 65% strand rate. So.. no, not concerned. Just because players are top prospects doesn't automatically mean they will come up and dominate right away. Give it some time.
Wendy (Madrid): I wonder how many readers know you're 23. Does it feel weird that people, most much older than you, are coming to you as an expert on things?
Eric Seidman: I think it is less of a potential issue over the web than it is in the workplace. In December of 2006, Brett Ratner, director of the Rush Hour movies, X-Men 3, etc, financed a short film of mine, and I was the director of a crew with many people twice my age. That was certainly a bit odd, but age to me is just a number. If you work hard and have talent in an area, that you aren't a seasoned veteran shouldn't matter.
brian (Brooklyn NY): PSU grad...what was your favorite football game you attened during your time there? I drove out to Michigan from NY when the Maize and Blue beat them with a last second td and will NEVER forget it
Eric Seidman: I watched that game on TV and was stunned. The whole city was stunned. I mean you could feel the disappointment. Best PSU football moment for me was having an acting class with Anthony Morelli and Alan Zemaitis, and actually having to act out a scene in a play with them.
Aching Ears (Eric's Nextdoor Neighbor): Hootie and the Blowfish, James Taylor, Billy Joel...
Eric Seidman: If you're really my neighbors, then you need to turn down the Russian techno music and stop having kids every other week.
sjstraub (nj): Settle a debate for us. I am Mil fan and some friends think we should start to trade prospects to take a run in the next year or two. I lean towards standing pat and to develop and draft talent and play to always be good. Then you hope a few breaks go your way to win a world series, without handcuffing yourself in the future since you are a small market team. Which model do you prefer for small market teams? Is it time for Milwaukee to go for it?
Eric Seidman: It's really tough, and most people underestimate just how tough it is, to win now while simultaneously setting yourself up for the future. It seems like it SHOULD be fairly easy, but it isn't. Otherwise, more teams would be in better positions. The Brewers have a pretty good core of hitters right now but pitching is a big problem. Outside of Gallardo, you have four essentially back of the rotation guys. If they can really get a top-tier MLB player or two in return, trading some prospects would be a sound idea, ESPECIALLY given the Cubs struggles so far. You don't want to trade top prospects for Joe Blanton, like the Phillies did, but if you can get a 1A or a 2 pitcher, you kind of have to at this point.
Tangotiger (Montreal): Just want to pimp your book in case most people don't know about it: http://www.lulu.com/content/2720193
Great cover, too. Your idea or the artist?
Eric Seidman: Thanks, Tango! For those interested, the book referred to is called "Bridging the Statistical Gap," and while it isn't anything for hardcore stats people, it's kind of like a 101 book, introducing popular statistical concepts through actual analyses as opposed to merely glossarizing information. I had the idea to show that the baseball had all of these numbers inside it, but the photographer, one of my best friends who incidentally just got an internship at PIXAR, came up with the idea of how to accomplish my vision.
fsumatthunter (Tallahassee): Did you Suit up for your first chat because you've in wait for it credible.
Eric Seidman: I actually suited down after getting home from work, but this chat is certainly legen..... wait for it... dary!
Fred (Houston): Is Eric Bruntlett popular with the Philly faithful? I feel he's one of the few players in the modern game that brings real intangibles to the table. Of course, I know BPers don't believe in that sort of thing.
Eric Seidman: He isn't unpopular, I'll put it that way. I have an affinity for him. He is really a super-sub, especially given that he has been working to be a 3rd catcher, if needbe.
dantroy (davis): Optimistic about Hanson? I mean the pitcher, not the band. It goes w/o saying that the band was awesome.
Eric Seidman: I want to see what he can do, sure, but I'm going to make certain I don't jump.... to conclusions... after a few starts, especially if he doesn't perform well. I'm not optimistic about the band.
Andy (Boston ): Any hope for Land of the Lost? Has Will Ferral done anything really funny since Zoolander? Could we call hime the Ryan Howard of film?
Eric Seidman: I was talking to a friend of mine about this recently, and we came to the conclusion that a lot of these guys struggle when carrying their own movie. Put them together, like in Old School, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, and they really bring the funny. But the movies these actors attempt to carry on their own generally don't turn out all that well.
ashitaka (long beach, ca): Would you platoon Ryan Howard?
Eric Seidman: No, no, no. Have I made myself clear? As I have mentioned in my BP pieces numerous times, context is the key when evaluating splits. Lefty hitters fare worse against LHPs than righty's, it's a proven fact. When looking at Howard, you want to compare his performance against LHPs to the league average LHH-LHP performance, NOT his own individual split. There were some studies done over at The Good Phight in the off-season essentially showing that Howard was right on par with the league average for hitting same-handed pitching. No, he might not have deserved the MVP award in 2006, but he is in no way a scrub. Add in his really solid glovework this year that has largely gone unnoticed and he is a valuable asset.
Jack (Chicago): What am I missing about this McLouth deal? Aside from a hot start in 2008, what has he done? He has hit .256 over the last calendar year...
Eric Seidman: I'm not a fan of arbitrarily selecting data points and fitting them to make a point. Looking at McLouth from June 08 to June 09 leaves out his hot months of April and May 08 and highlights his worst months of last season. In September 08 he hit .309/.385/.500, and he's hitting .256/.349/.470 this season, meaning his last three months of action are right around .270/.360/.475.
Fantasy Help? (Here): I need to bench one of - Adam Jones, Johnny Damon, Vlad Guerrero, Nelson Cruz...who do I sit?
Eric Seidman: Fantasy works differently than real-life baseball evaluations, since you want to start the hot players in fantasy. Out of the four you mentioned, the only one whose name is not hyperlinked currently has a .307 OBP and .357 SLG.
strupp (Madison): "When looking at Howard, you want to compare his performance against LHPs to the league average LHH-LHP performance, NOT his own individual split"... True, but shouldn't we also look at that split compared to what Token RHB "Platoon" partner would put up VS LHP?
Eric Seidman: Yes but you could do this for A LOT of players, and when you have a guy who hits same-handed pitching at the league average rate, taking up a roster spot to employ a platoon partner doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That's like saying the Rockies should have platooned Holliday and only played him at home.
Joe Sheehan (NY): Eric, you are fired for disagreeing with me.
Eric Seidman: Joe, you're right... I SHOULD be optimistic about the band Hanson. Ugh.
ryan (west chester): J. Upton the best offensive OF in the game in 2 years?
Eric Seidman: If not the best, top three definitely, unless he goes all Delmon Young on us.
Jay (SD): Eric, on your IMDB page it says you haven't missed a 76ers game in years. Might we see you write for Basketball Prospectus?
Eric Seidman: One of my goals for 2009 was to get more in tune with advanced basketball analysis. It hasn't happened yet for lack of time but I think it would be fun to compare my scouting eyes from watching so much over the years to what the numbers say. With baseball, I tend to only watch the Phillies, Greg Maddux, Matt Cain, and the 5 innings of Javier Vazquez before he implodes. With the NBA, I could watch a Grizzlies-Wizards game and be entertained.
bowie (cal): Who's more likely to bounce back into contention: Oakland or Cleveland?
Eric Seidman: I'll go with Cleveland as I'm not sold on the Tigers at the top of the division and they have more talent than the Athletics. But Carmona needs to go. I don't know if you send him down or give him a phantom DL trip or what, but he needs some kinks worked out.
David S (Oakland): Seriously, you must give It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia another look. Best comedy on TV I've seen in years.
What's the deal with Rollins? Bad luck, regression, injury or something else?
Thanks again for the chat.
Eric Seidman: Jimmy goes through stretches sometimes where he lines the ball right at people, seems to get frustrated, and then, in attempts to launch the ball out of the yard, pops up instead. He looks like he's getting right under the ball a lot of the time, but I would still think him capable of salvaging the season to at least a .260/.335/.435, which would be pretty solid given the extended slump. He is still dynamite in the field, though, and Ibanez has more than made up for his offensive shortcomings so far.
Jon (DC): Eric, Carmona was sent down today. Hafner off DL.
Eric Seidman: Well, there you go, one problem solved.
Bill ((Pitt)): There is an article on ESPN about how a lot of the Pirates players are angry about the McLouth trade. Sanchez said they were 'only 6.5 games back', how can these guys really think they had any chance at competing this year?
Eric Seidman: I don't think we know enough about how the psyches of athletes work to answer this. I remember reading in Will Leitch's book that, in a 2 on 2 exhibition pitting Kordell Stewart and Andre Rison against Leitch and his friend, Stewart and Rison essentially pulled the same tricks they did in the NFL, because they were so accustomed to winning, and were trained to do whatever it takes to win. Athletes thrive on winning, and even though they make a lot of money, they are human and are prone to the same misconceptions we are.
Drew (Madison, CT): Carmona was sent all the way down to extended spring training. What do you think of that approach?
Eric Seidman: Think of it this way... if you worked at a computer programming firm and suddenly forgot how to code in PERL, essentially forgetting completely how to do so, would it make more sense to to put you in a position where you still needed to know 75% PERL, or to put you in a situation where they re-taught how to use the program in the first place?
David S (Oakland): Thanks for answering my question. What's your take on the not-so-great reputation of Phillies fans? Do you think it's deserved/accurate or overblown? You don't hear the same thing about other East Coast teams in the area (Orioles, Mets, Yankees, Pirates), so I'm curious if this a matter of perception vs. reality.
Eric Seidman: It's odd... in many cases it is overblown. For instance, Phillies fans went crazy for Ken Griffey, Jr last year when he came to town with 599 HR, giving him these loud standing ovations every time he came up and every time he went back to the dugout. They also gave Greg Maddux a loud ovation when he left a game, because even though he was a rival for about 13 years, they understood how special of a player they got to see. They even cheered Pat Burrell on when he was struggling in 2003, hoping it might get him out of it. But then again there are certainly knuckleheads, like in any city, who seem to remember one thing about a player and assign that characteristic no matter what.
G. Guest (Kansas): Regarding plate discipline stats, ESPN has started displaying # pitches for each batter. Where can stat heads find detailed, per-pitch stats for hitters and pitchers?
Eric Seidman: The stats for plate discipline I like to use are from Fangraphs, identifying percentages of pitches swung at and made contact with in/out of the zone, and numbers along those lines.
Eric Patterson (Stuck in the Minors): I'm 26, have always hit in the minors (and continue to), and have only had 150 Major League ABs to prove myself. Have I received a raw deal or it is just me?
Eric Seidman: I'll just say this now, hoping that it can prevent similar situations in the future, but when people put the names of players as their names and then ask questions about themselves, I get annoyed.
Bill (New Mexico): Just got a tweet that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder would like to have a word with you regarding your comments about the Cubs. Why is it more likely that they and their buddies will crater than that the Cubs will continuing being what they've been?
Eric Seidman: In my opinion, the Cardinals need every single start from Chris Carpenter from here on out to have a fighting chance at the playoffs. And as far as the Brewers go, I mentioned earlier that acquiring a top-tier pitcher might actually put them ahead of the Cubs. But I get a bit wary when I see that four of their five rotation spots are filled by the underachieving Dave Bush, back-end extraordinaire Braden Looper, the disappointing Manny Parra, and the hang-it-up-already Jeff Suppan.
John Perrotto (Annoyville): I hate those kind of questions too Eric.
Eric Seidman: Now is this really John Perrotto or is John so famous now that people are impersonating him?
bowie (cal): In 5 years will we look at Pujols and say: "There goes the greatest hitter that ever lived" ?
Eric Seidman: It's very tough to compare players from different eras and a lot of people tend to hold off on "extreme" opinions for fear of sounding hyperbolic, but I'll just come right out and say that Pujols is the best hitter I've ever seen, and as great as the guys from the past may have been, it's particularly difficult to imagine being better than Albert.
Tim (Tampa): Do you think Tom Glavine will get a look from anybody right now?
Eric Seidman: Maybe the Nationals? At this point, a contending team isn't going to want to take a flyer on Glavine because the upside isn't necessarily akin to that of a Ben Sheets. And the non-contenders should probably be seeing what their young guys can do.
Andy (San Fran): Did you see Bonds? I'm about 10 years older than you and I'd have to say he's both the best hitter and best player that I've seen. I always thought he was better than Griffey.
Eric Seidman: My apologies, I should have worded my Pujols answer better. Barry Bonds, PEDs or not, is the most amazing talent I have seen in baseball. He could do it all, and if he were playing right now would still be better than a bunch of currently employed hitters.
Quentin (NYC): Real life question: who would you rather have, Porcello or Kershaw? How much of a chance is there of them both being aces?
Eric Seidman: Kershaw really impresses me, and I like his stuff better than Porcello, whom I have watched quite a bit of this season. I see them both as #2 pitchers, which certainly isn't a knock in any way.
Eric Seidman: Well, everyone, the time has come for me to go eat some dinner and head out for the night. This was a blast and I look forward to chatting again soon.