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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday July 13, 2009 2:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.

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Taking a break from the Daily Prospectus, Joe Sheehan drops in to take your questions on the issues of the day and the results from recent play.

Joe Sheehan: Before this night is through, you will see my point of view. Even if I have to scream and shout.

TonyMollica (Athens, Ohio): Hi Joe. Thanks for chatting with us! What do you think of the recent trades made by the Pirates?

Joe Sheehan: I like them. The players on the team as of six weeks ago were never going to be part of a championship team in Pittsburgh. The players acquired are more likely to be, and that's what matters. Some financial savings on a major-league roster not good enough to win doesn't hurt. They needed upside, and they traded for it. They're finally doing what needed done.

GC (out there): Do you see Manny's 2nd half line as significant within the steroids debate? What if he slugs .700 for the rest of the year? With Manny, there's much more of a proved producer with a clear(ish) demarkation line with steroids use than with the other well post-hitting-binge cases.

Joe Sheehan: There's no way, none, to use a half-season data point for one player as evidence in a PED debate. People doing so should be embarrassed.

Michael, NYC (NYC): Can the Astros step out of the norm and make a serious pitch for Roy Halliday and possibly Vernon Wells?

Joe Sheehan: I'm pretty sure they can have Wells for the price of a phone call, but I wouldn't recommend it. There's no combination of players in the organization they can trade for Halladay.

Mike (Tampa): Joe, Who do you like in the derby tonight?

Joe Sheehan: A nice dinner out. Maybe a DVD. An early night.

Billy Beane & Bob Geren (Oakland): Travis Buck is playing for Sacramento because ____________.

Joe Sheehan: He has a .289 OBP since 2007 and makes Milton Bradley look like Cal Ripken Jr.

dangor (New York): I don't get it. The economy is in the tank but people are still shelling out top dollar to go to games? With the slow, slow pace of games, I actually prefer watching on TV. Am I the anomaly or is attendence going to take an even bigger hit with this recession? What will the net impact on the game be?

Joe Sheehan: There are 300 million people in the country, and thousands of businesses that buy tickets as well. MLB is well-positioned to take a short-term revenue hit, and it's not entirely clear that they will. Moreover, every team has good low-cost options for attending games, most including some kind of inexpensive food. If your standard is "eighth row behind first base for four people," I'd invite you to work on your time machine. If you want to have a nice night at the park, just check your favorite team's Web site (or StubHub).

spf (illinois): is there a bigger disaster of an organization than the nationals?

Joe Sheehan: The Royals, all things considered. The Nationals are basically still recovering from the last years in Montreal, the specter of contraction (which led to the Sizemore/Lee/Phillips deal) and the years of neglect by MLB. They're not GOOD now, but I can't emphasize enough how far behind they fell in that timeframe.

Gunpuddy (Nashville, TN): You have a strong opinion about the labor market and MLB. What about MiLB? Are salaries too low and do they hurt baseball in the long run? Should minor-leaguers be allowed to join a baseball union of their own?

Joe Sheehan: Labor law dictates that the MLBPA cannot represent minor leaguers, and the workforce is too transient to sustain a union of its own. For what it's worth, if you want to know what a world without a strong MLBPA would look like, the minors aren't a bad place to start. And no, low minor-league salaries don't hurt baseball in the long run. I do wonder, harkening back to Bill James in 1988, what a world with no affiliations would look like.

Drew (Ohio): At what point do you ascribe significance to 1st half/2nd half splits (thinking Cano, LaRoche, etc), beyond mere coincidence? Who are some players you think will perform far better in the 2nd half than they did the 1st?

Joe Sheehan: I don't, basically. As far as second-half improvers this year, give me B.J. Upton, Howie Kendrick and John Lackey.

juiced (frisco): What would it take for the Giants to pull a deal for Adam Dunn or a comparable bat? And going forward which 3 should they play from the group of Schierholz, Bowker, Winn, Lewis, and Ishikawa?

Joe Sheehan: The Giants' problem is having too many great minor leaguers, guys it's hard to trade for Adam Dunn. Teams are only going to ask for the best, for the most part, so making a match will be difficult. I really am bearish on Schierholtz, always have been, so I'd play Ishikawa at first for the glove and Winn and Lewis on the corners. I'm not in love with that, but I like those two more than the other two.

Jon (ny): Thoughts on the Francoeur-Church deal?

Joe Sheehan: No strong opinion either way, something where you can understand the Braves' need for any player with a higher OBP than Francoeur, and the Mets' frustration with Church's injuries and their desire for a guy who would be able to play every day. They get some additional upside, and Francoeur is the kind of guy who might hit .320/.350/.525 for three months.

Joe V. (Washington, DC): Hi Joe. Have you watched enough of Joba's starts to form on opinion on why he's been so inconsistent this season?

Joe Sheehan: With the caveat that I am not a scout...he doesn't throw enough fastballs. It's like he doesn't trust his fastball to get guys out, and he spends way too much time nibbling around the edges with his breaking stuff. Too many balls, too many pitches. I'd like to see him pitch like Bartolo Colon for three starts, just pound the fastball and see what happens.

Folks, this may have to be a short one. There's some type of construction or cleaning...whatever it is is making mind-altering amounts of noise downstairs. I'll hang as long as I can.

JJ (NYC): Not going to happen, but has a manager ever gotten fired mid-season and been hired that year? Would love for it to happen with the Mets.

Joe Sheehan: This.

Jason (Dearborn, MI): Aren't the Rays kicking themselves for trading Edwin Jackson and keeping Sonnanstein? And is this a true breakout season for Jackson in Detroit?

Joe Sheehan: Jackson had more trade value, to be sure, and at the time of the trade the Rays had some reason to value the likely #4 guy over the upside with more risk. Sometimes you pull the wrong lever. I think Jackson's improvement is real, if not necessarily to this extent. He's a legit #2 starter in the AL.

akachazz (DC): I ask this every chat; never gets answered: How many games have been played in the history of MLB? Is there even a way to know this?

Joe Sheehan: I don't know. I imagine you could answer it with 30 minutes, a calculator, and baseball-reference.

joeboxr36 (San Fran): Can you explain the possible motivation of the Giants for calling up Conor Gillaspie to the bigs last year, when he is clearly not ready by his minor league results this year. Was it to start his clock in some sort contractual/financial motives between the team and the agent?

Joe Sheehan: I believe it was part of the agreement when they signed him.

theYD (Philly): Joe, do you think that the 'Stros are finally going to move Hawkins? Seems like it's been talked about forever now. Or since they're still in the running they'll opt to hang on to him?

Joe Sheehan: They have looked much further from contention and played for the current season, so I can't imagine that this is the year they'll bail. Given Valverde's issues, I think Hawkins stays.

Jon (SF): How is Pablo Sandoval not on the All-Star team, even after two injuries?

Joe Sheehan: I count just one injury, Beltran, and Manuel picked his own guy. Which seems to be the thing to do.

judy (MA): Still think we've already seen the best of Jon Lester's career?

Joe Sheehan: With a 60% in K rate and no loss of other features, I'd have to say that I'm open to the idea that I was wrong. Keep in mind that he's still not as good, overall, as he was a year ago.

The lesson here is probably to remember that players with nonstandard development paths--Lester's was interrupted by cancer--need to be regarded carefully.

Jon (SF): Both wrong. There have been 3 injuries. To to pitchers. They don't need all those pitchers, so Sandoval should have been selected. Injuries to Beltran, Cain and Broxton.

Joe Sheehan: By rule, they have 13 pitchers, Jon. I'm not going to defend it, but it's the rule. Pitchers get replaced by pitchers.

mattymatty (Philly): What kind of difference will Pedro make for the Phils?

Joe Sheehan: He's maybe a four-win player, but the error bars on that are wide. Two games, then? He's an upgrade on the #5 slot, I think. Really, I'm guessing--I support signing him, but I can't say I'm entirely sure what we're going to see, just more optimistic than most.

Jim (Chicago): With the first half over, how about giving us your second half predictions.

Joe Sheehan: This is why they make Thursday columns.

Royals Fan (Kansas City): A: Yuniesky Betancourt Q: What was the tipping point for countless Royals fans who are suddenly in the market for a real team to root for? I don't really have a question here. Feel free to comment as appropriate.

Joe Sheehan: Clearly, Dayton Moore has been a failure as a GM to this point. He simply doesn't get OBP, no matter how much he says he does. I don't think David Glass has it in him to be the owner of a successful major-league team.

This is pretty funny:

http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/team/front_office.jsp?c_id=kc

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Most believe the Tigers need a bat. Does one bat solve enough of their issues? Or does getting a rotation piece help fortify the formula of pitching/defense that has worked so far? Thanks.

Joe Sheehan: That may depend on what they can get from Rick Porcello the rest of the way. Do they have three starters now or two? And is last year's Armando Galarraga anywhere to be found? On the flip side, how much would a healthy Carlos Guillen change the mix? Finally, what do they have to trade? Throw it all in a hat, and I think they'll be pretty quiet.

Mike (NJ): Pedro is a four-win player? In half a season? I'm sorry, did you not see how terribly he pitched last year? 4 wins?

Joe Sheehan: In a full-season. So two wins the rest of the way.

This appears to be an unpopular opinion.

ericturner29 (Chicago): Should the Indians punt 2010 and trade Victor and Clifton?

Joe Sheehan: Is it that hard to see them winning next year? The rest of the division is getting better, I think, but the Indians still seem to have enough core talent to win if they can assemble a bullpen. I can defend either way...one thing to consider is that both of those players have to be near a local peak in terms of trade value. If you trade them now, you maximize return.

mattymatty (Philly): Any idea what to expect from David Ortiz for the second half?

Joe Sheehan: .275/.340/.510

gerrybraun (san diego): Have you seen enough of Kyle Blanks to form a strong opinion?

Joe Sheehan: I don't think he can play left field except maybe in some crazy small ballpark like Houston or Philly. He absolutely can't play in a park that's 404 to the gap. The Padres should trade Gonzalez as he's peaking with that ridiculous contract, make a Teixeira deal and move on with Blanks at first base. He won't have much trade value.

f (chicago): how do you see frenchy's career playing out? does he ever "rebound"? will he play past 30?

Joe Sheehan: Some year he's going to hit .315/.345/.540 with 28 homers and 117 RBI, finish fourth in the MVP voting and sign a Gary Matthews Jr. contract.

Greg (NJ): Do you think once Frenchy bombs in NY, it will be the move that gets Omar fired or will they chalk 2009 up to injuries?

Joe Sheehan: I seriously think, despite his tremendous people skills and some good moves along the way, that Minaya needs the Mets to make the postseason, at least, to keep his job. This year has been about the injuries, but on the heels of the last two, it will be tough to survive.

Michael (Los Angeles): It's been a year. How does a Matt Kemp for Robinson Cano swap look now?

Joe Sheehan: I think both teams are happy with what they have. Kemp is the better player in the long term because of his speed and power, and the greater chance he learns to pick up walks.

Jon (SF): Not going to happen, but do you think that even now, Bonds would be no worse than the third best hitter on the Giants, maybe second best?

Joe Sheehan: Maybe the best. Only Sandoval would have a chance to be better, and I'm not sure he would be.

What amuses me is that one of the criticisms of Bonds late in his career was that he couldn't run the bases. The Giants' best player, and the Giants' cleanup hitter, are slower than he was at the end.

Anyway, Bonds would make the Giants better, even at some .240/.390/.480 level of hitting.

Jim (Fremont (CA)): At what point do the Giants cut Barry Zito loose? He's pitched bad baseball for 2.5 years now. $126 million contract or no, don't the Giants have to treat him like any other pitcher and say "Start pitching better or get out"?

Joe Sheehan: Baseball doesn't work that way, for one. Teams don't eat $80 million. For two, Zito is worth his roster spot, at least for now. A year from now, he might be the Giants' sixth- or seventh-best starter. Then you have an issue.

Milton (Bradley): What year will MLB see its first female player?

Joe Sheehan: 2176. Dinner's on me if I'm wrong.

sunpar (New York): True or False: Jair Jurrjens is the most underrated young pitcher in the MLB.

Joe Sheehan: I'd take Yovani Gallardo before him.

Robert O (NY): You're the Cleveland GM. I offer you Austin Jackson, Wilkin de la Rosa, David Robertson, and Edwar Ramirez for Cliff Lee. You take it?

Joe Sheehan: I think I can do better. Just two prospects there.

aaa (bbb): Angels, Rangers, or M's in the AL West?

Joe Sheehan: Angels, who still have the best core talent. Both the Rangers and Ms are over their heads a little in different ways. The Angels really aren't. Moreover, neither the Rangers or the Ms needs to win this year the way the Angels, and their veteran roster, do. That affects how they play out the season.

Steve (NY): Think Sergio Mitre will be any good for the Yankees?

Joe Sheehan: No. Aceves is better, and Hughes is the right answer. This team is ungodly frustrating in its inability to answer questions correctly.

Mike (Tampa): Assuming the AL East gets the wildcard, which two teams do you see making the playoffs out of that division?

Joe Sheehan: Red Sox and Yankees. The Rays are the third-best team in baseball. No sin there.

Dave (Chicago): Why do you trade four or five years of Sean Gallagher, a potential middle of the rotation pitcher, for a year and a half of Scott Hairston, who at his best (and when healthy) is a starting outfielder on a second-tier team? I don't understand this deal, especially with Outman gone for 12-18 months and Gonzalez and Cahill struggling in the majors.

Joe Sheehan: There's no way that Sean Gallagher is in that rotation in a year's time. He's just a guy. I'm surprised by the trade, but I think it was just a case of desperately wanting someone who could hit the ball hard. The A's offense is wretched--they don't make hard contact, and they haven't for years now.

paulbellows (Calgary): Do you think that Harden is injured or just going through a bad patch?

Joe Sheehan: Injured. But really, that's just the way to bet.

Mike (Bronx): You're JP Ricciardi. I offer you Jesus Montero, Joba Chamberlain, Brett Gardner, and Edwar Ramirez for Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay.

Joe Sheehan: Oh, god yes. Prospects AND $115 million? Are you kidding me? That deal would be insanely great for the Jays.

It would also mean Ricciardi was never around to benefit from it. Ah, moral hazard.

brewmeister smith (elsinore): Are the Brewers really ready to part with JJ Hardy? Isn't he a good candidate to regress toward his mean in the second half? Where would he most likely end up (thankfully, not KC, as they solved their SS problem)?

Joe Sheehan: Hardy's just a good trade chip because they have Alcides Escobar ready to go, so it's a means of leveraging depth. Would offering him to the Red Sox, with all their pitching, make some sense? Could Hardy for Masterson and some non-top-ten prospect get it done? Seems light...but that sounds like a framework.

Rob (Houston): I think everyone can agree that football's offseason is pretty dull. Between baseball and basketball, which do you think has the better offseason?

Joe Sheehan: Baseball, because I don't need to understand a payroll cap.

Robert O (NY): 3 prospects. Look up de la Rosa. He's pretty good for his 2nd year of pitching. (I'm assuming u meant he is not a prospect)

Joe Sheehan: No, David Robertson. Just an arm for the bullpen.

birkem3 (Dayton, OH): "2176. Dinner's on me if I'm wrong." Inviting people to eat on your gravestone?

Joe Sheehan: Not the worst I expect them to do on it.

Steve (NJ): Think Brett Gardner will be this good in the future?

Joe Sheehan: No. He's a solid fourth outfielder, though, well worth the roster spot and 350 PA a year.

kevin (boston): A while ago you picked tex to start at first in the all-star game. He's currently 11th in vorp for 1st baseman behind morneau, youk, and cabrera who are all fairly established players. I could see the argument for tex over cabrera since there is a fairly big gap in defensive play, but the other two are fairly highly regarded defensively. I know your theory on playing the best overall players but when there isn't really a clear number one shouldn't it just be the guy who's been best in the first half?

Joe Sheehan: There's not much difference among Morneau, Youkilis and Teixeira. I rank them Tex, Morneau, Youkilis. Your mileage may vary. Note: "best in the first half" is usually "best in the first ten weeks," and then we're into "who had some extra singles fall in?" territory.

Bob (NY): What would the yanks need to give up for cliff lee

Joe Sheehan: I'm trying to think if they could do it without trading Chamberlain or Hughes, but I get to it being Jackson and Montero and that's not a great deal, either. There's no question they can put together a package. With all that said, why is this team adding a starting pitcher at great expense?

Yvonne (Around): What is the purpose of the Royals keeping Kila Kaaihue in AAA? To make fans seem utterly hopeless?

Joe Sheehan: Because Mike Jacobs is just that good.

jcalixte (new york): Is you opinion of francouer deal at all connected to you being bearish about him two years ago? Seems silly to start Omir Santos regularly and play Fernando Tatis fairly often AND acquire Jeff Francouer. Delmon Young could have been gotten without helping a division foe.

Joe Sheehan: Jeez, Delmon Young is one of the few guys worse than Francoeur. At least Francoeur plays a good right field.

kevin (boston): Is Chace Utley one of the most underrated players in baseball? It seems like he gets overshadowed every year. First it was rollins, then howard, now ibanez. He plays excellent defense every year and never gets the respect he deserves for it. If not for pujols he'd probably be in line for MVP, but yet again he's overshadowed.

Joe Sheehan: He's one of the five best players in baseball. Pujols, Santana, Mauer, Halladay, Utley. (Lincecum, Ramirez, Rodriguez in the mix, I guess.)

Jim (Chicago): Do the White Sox stand pat, trade for a SP, or sell what isn't tied down?

Joe Sheehan: They already traded for a SP, so that's likely the direction they'll lean. They need an outfielder more.

Jon (DC): Why are there 5 relievers on each All-Star team? Also, just like in the NBA we forever get All-Star Jamal Magloire, we now get All-Star Zach Duke and Ryan Franklin.

Joe Sheehan: I'd take more. What category of player is better prepared for an All-Star Game than a one-inning pitcher?

Bill (New Mexico): You said of Tim Wakefield going to the All-Star game, "the list of AL pitchers more qualified for the honor is very, very long." How many people on that list have been as good as Wakefield for as long? Isn't overlooking his track record, of years and years of being a very good if not great pitcher, equivalent to the one-half-year-itis in All-Star voting that you (and I) complain about?

Joe Sheehan: You're overrating his career. He's been average to good, not very good to great. And the standard for making the All-Star team has to be higher than "22nd-best guy and a nice story." So many pitchers got cheated by that pick. All-Star pitching staffs have ALWAYS been about first-half performance, at least in my lifetime, so to change it for one guy is silly. Besides, let's be serious: if Wakefield had been 8-6, he wouldn't have been picked. This was innumeracy above all else.

Lightning round.

David Wright (Flushing, NY): Why not me?

Joe Sheehan: Yeah, you're in the mix. Not sure you can be in the top five.

Jack Z (Seattle): Am I the best GM in baseball?

Joe Sheehan: As with All-Stars, I think you need a body of work to gain this title. You are to GMs what Andrew McCutchen is to outfielders: a nice start to what should be a good career.

Craig (Monroe): Should MLB expand the Wild Card and bring in another team or 2?

Joe Sheehan: There aren't a lot of things MLB could do to lose me, but this would be one of them. Further degradation of the regular season would be a disaster.

Ira (North Texas): Any chance that Halladay will overcome his supposed aversion to pitching in Arlington enough to accept a trade to the Rangers, and any chance the deal can be done without including one of the Rangers top pitching prospects. Perhaps something like Hunter, Kiker, Font, Davis, and Engel Beltre.

Joe Sheehan: Maybe, and no. The Jays have no reason to accept a deal like that. They have to get back a top-15 prospect, and two other top 75 guys, at least. The Teixeira deal is the model (although the numbers may not match perfectly).

Mike (Tampa): Which all-star besides Wake is least deserving is your mind?

Joe Sheehan: Howard or Marquis.

Scott (DC): What's the best route for the Reds to take for the rest of year?

Joe Sheehan: Promote Drew Stubbs, sell.

beta461 (SF): Giants final record?

Joe Sheehan: 82-80.

Craig (Michigan): You're JP Ricciardi. Chris Davis, Neftali Feliz, Max Ramirez/Salatamalacchia, throw-in B prospect, and Marlon Byrd for Alex Rios and Halladay.

Joe Sheehan: Not enough. That's Feliz and a bunch of guys who've failed.

stan (palatine): barry zito, vernon wells, alfonso soriano. Which contract is the worst?

Joe Sheehan: Wells.

mattymatty (Philly): So, why did Maddon pick Wakefield then? Does he not understand the uselessness of the win statistic for pitchers? And if so what does that say about the Rays manager?

Joe Sheehan: He was trying to be a nice guy.

Mike (Chicago): Are the cubs really the 15th best offensive team in a weak NL? Is it even possible for them to continue hitting even worse with RISP as the year goes on?

Joe Sheehan: OBP is Life. Life is OBP. ($1, Huckabay.)

Fred (WI): Twitter more!

Joe Sheehan: Really? I feel silly whenever I send something out, like I can hear two thousand shoulders audibly shrugging.

Eric (Philly): Joe, did I miss your article on the outrage of taking Carlos Pena to the ASG? I mean, he's a lesser selection than Ryan Howard at this point

Joe Sheehan: Homer pick, better than Howard, but a homer pick. I also suspect the AL was looking for HRD candidates--check today's column.

jake (stl): uly 31st where is holliday traded? if STL would you risk wallace?

Joe Sheehan: Still don't understand the Cards trading for an outfielder. Never have. They'd be better off just promoting Wallace.

Ben (NJ): The Mets will finish ___ in the division this season.

Joe Sheehan: First.

Mike (Tampa): I think he meant Halladay. Clueless

Joe Sheehan: I guarantee you I will make that mistake again this month. Many people--some with jobs in radio--pronounce "Halladay" like the other guy.

Ken_P (NY): Am I the only person who liked the protalk segments you did for BP Radio? They were a great way to kill half an hour at work. Are there going to be more?

Joe Sheehan: We had fun doing them, and the reaction was amazing. We'll see what happens.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): How many contracts on the Yankees are worse than Wells's without the same effect on the team?

Joe Sheehan: None. The Wells contract is just mind-alteringly bad. He's had two seasons in his life that MIGHT have been worth the money he'll make in his decline phase. The only comp for it is the Chris Carpenter deal, which was also galactically stupid in the moment.

mase1361 (Boston): As a yankees fan, are you jealous of the redsox 1st rate ownership, front office and manager?

Joe Sheehan: Little bit.

Joe Sheehan: Fun as always...I'm off to toss a ball in the sunshine. Say "hi" if you're in Sheep's Meadow.


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