With the pennant races heating up, drop by to talk to Marc Normandin about what's moving and shaking in leagues both real and fantastic.
Marc Normandin: Yo.
mo (vegas): What's up Mark! In yesterday chat CK referred to Josh Reddick as a "middling" talent, so my question is: at what percentile does Reddick needs to play to achieve an Ellsbury level? Is his upside much lower than Ellsbury? Is Kalish upside better than Reddick?thanks!
Marc Normandin: I like Reddick a bit more than that. His bat's not great, but it should end up as average, and he's one of the best defensive outfielders in the organization. An average bat along with plus defense is a good thing. See: Mariners, Seattle.
Ellsbury takes bad routes, and his speed is the reason he doesn't always grade out as poor as his defensive skillset looks. In center he may be an average defender (or worse, like he is this year) and since his bat is good, but not great, so of course there's a chance Reddick ends up as the better player, even if it shows up in the non-flashy numbers.
dtwhite (Toronto): I need some help returning my fantasy team to its former glory, and I hear you're the man to do it. We're in a 6x6 Head to Head league, and get 6 keepers - name your 6: Wright, Howard, Holliday, BJ Upton, J. Upton, CC Sabathia, J. Lester, M. Wieters, M. Cain
Marc Normandin: Ooh, lots of good options. I like Wright for his well-roundedness, Justin Upton for being Justin Upton, Sabathia and Lester because that would give you two excellent aces for each week in head-to-head (ZOMG double starters weeks). After that it's a little iffier. Holliday has a great bat, Wieters is young and talented but unproven at the major league level, and B.J. Upton is having a hard time coming back from that shoulder problem, at least offensively. You could probably trade Howard for a better keeper pick, assuming someone in your league overrates him, no?
Dennis (California): Thank you for the chat, Marc. Who do you think is the better risk for the next three years, Erik Bedard and his torn labrum or Daisuke and his general ineffectiveness? And do you like Cueto or Volstad better going forward?
Marc Normandin: It's tough to tell with Daisuke. His problem is an easy one to fix in the sense that you can diagnose it and tell him what he needs to change, but whether or not he does that is the issue at hand. He has so much talent--more than Bedard, I think--but it means nothing if he's going to be this ineffective with his use of that talent.
Labrum injuries are tough to come back from, but it's doable. This is a real good question, and I'm having a hard time choosing between the two. As for Cueto vs. Volstad, they both have homer issues, but Volstad is more of a groundball oriented guy. I think there's a better chance he gets over them. Cueto's the flashier (read: strikeout) option though.
Joel (GA): Am I correct in thinking that AJ Burnett's feast-or-famine nature is going to be one of the major deciding factors in New York's postseason run?
Marc Normandin: You are correct, sir. I personally hope the opposition feasts to their belly's contents on Burnett, but I'm biased as someone who (A) hated that deal and (B) doesn't root for NY
Johnny Tuttle (Battle Creek, Michigan): Hi, Marc. I kept Iannetta in a 12 team mixed league, and somehow, I'm in the playoffs despite him.
With 19 MLB and up to 10 MiLB keepers per team, could or should I safely pitch Iannetta aside to try to get a starting C for the playoffs, or is that just too short sighted?
I could take Inge or a retread like that, or I could try a Flowers or lesser prospect out to try to catch lighning in a bottle.
Is Iannetta still likely to be a top 12 fantasy C next season?
Marc Normandin: Catcher is such a terrible position for offense that it's very easy to be a top 12 catcher. A few weeks ago I wrote about the position, and Jason Varitek was even in the top 12. Iannetta has a very low BABIP, and it killed his batting average, but he's still displaying a ton of power just like in 2008. I wouldn't get rid of him, considering how little value there is at catcher.
Aaron (YYZ): Marc, what do you do with talented but frustrating young players in Dynasty leagues (the only penalty to keeping them is opportunity cost)? I'm not talking about guys you depend on, but more guys that you're hoping figure it out while they eat up depth space on your bench/reserve. Someone like Chris B. Young, Jeremy Hermida, Alex Gordon, Francisco Liriano... the flashes of brilliance are there but it sure is hard to be patient.
Marc Normandin: I don't have a general rule, but if I think someone has a lot of potential, I would waste the bench spot on them in the hopes they turn things around. My exception to this would be if it was someone no one else thought much of--my hope would be that since I gave up on him, no one else would be willing to take the risk. Talk up your league a bit to get a sense of those sorts of things so you can take advantage when the time comes.
Grant (Chicago): Have I missed my window for selling Peavy and Johan high before their declines? Just hold on and enjoy the rides in my keeper leagues, or market them in hopes one person thinks they are high end.
Marc Normandin: I wouldn't say you have missed it--it takes awhile for people to come down on (formerly) elite players. There should be a few people who would take that trade, for sure. Move quickly with Peavy though, before he can show people too much in the other direction.
Johnny Tuttle (Michigan): Is Kershaw a dropper in a league that ends at the end of next week (not a keeper)?
Marc Normandin: It's a bruise, so hold on to him in case he makes a start on the non-scheduled day. Unless your waiver wire is brimming with pitching talent, I guess.
Dr. Kiko Calero (South Beach): Is Kelvim Escobar a cheap pen option for some team next year?
Marc Normandin: I would offer him a low-money contract to see if he was interested, probably incentive laden. He was still throwing hard in the few innings he managed this year, so why not?
Aaron (YYZ): Changing topic for a second, is there a better multiplayer experience for the DS than 8-way Bomberman? I'm pretty sure I'll get my money's worth out of that old cart even if I never play the single-player adventure thing.
Marc Normandin: I haven't tried it on the DS yet (Bomberman is everywhere) but it's always fun with eight players, regardless of platform. My favorite DS multiplayer games are Mario Kart and Advance Wars, though.
Speaking of games, I was at the Penny Arcade Expo all weekend covering upcoming titles for Blast Magazine. It was my first time there, and it was a great experience. I don't know if there are any former Defense of the Ancients (DotA) players in the house, but if there are, I have closed-beta keys for the spiritual sequel, League of Legends that I can give out. Let me know and we'll work something out.
Dr. Kiko Calero (South Beach): Have you played "Goodbye Horses" in honor of Richard Seymour being dealt yet?
Marc Normandin: What a deal. I love Richard Seymour, and he's a great player, but the Pats could keep either him or Wilfork going forward. Seymour is 29 and the big-name player, so they dealt him to Zombie Al Davis and the Raiders for a first rounder, which you know is going to be a wonderfully placed pick in the 2011 draft. The best part is that they also acquired Derrick Burgess from the Raiders a few weeks back, so they already have a replacement for Seymour and gave up 3rd and 5th round picks for him. Seymour and two later picks for Burgess and a first? Heh.
NevyBear (Monroe, PA): Hi Mark,
Can you provide any feedback on what we can expect from Aroldis Chapman once he is able to sign with a major league team? Where would you rank him in a top 100 prospect list?
Marc Normandin: I honestly don't know much about the guy. He's young and a lot of people seem pretty excited about him, but that happens a lot with international players I've never seen play too, so it doesn't exactly make me jump with excitement myself. Kevin is the better choice as far as prospect lists go--I learn just like you guys do when he does his team rankings and overall list.
Charlie (Bethesda): What are your thoughts on Ian Desmond? Is he a starting SS for the next couple of years? Can he hit enough to start?
Marc Normandin: He's had a pretty good year at two levels, but a lot of it is BABIP fueled. I'd like to see a repeat performance before I anoint him as a useful major league starter, especially given his numbers prior to 2009. How is his glove supposed to be? Shortstop is such a terrible offensive position that he doesn't need to hit to be a good starter.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Do you think Josh Hamilton comes back and comes back strong this season, or can us redrafters just pitch him to the wind?
Marc Normandin: I think he can. I wouldn't use a keeper pick on him or anything, but I think he can rebound. He's shown power at times and contact at times, but neither at the same time in 2009.
Tim (Tampa): Should the Ray look into trading B.J. Upton as opposed to Carl Crawford in the offseason with Desmond Jennings on the way? It just seems like even with Upton's shoulder issues as an excuse for his poor play that he never really took it upon himself to make the adjustments that could make him a standout as opposed to someone who has tons of potential. He SCREAMS Delmon Young to me.
Marc Normandin: Or, even with his poor bat this year, he's been worth a few wins this year because of his fantastic defense in center. Plus, what could you get for Upton given his poor bat as of late? I would give it another year to see what happens--he's still young. You could pull back more by dealing Crawford. Upton was worth almost five wins in 2008, despite the bat issues.
mattymatty2000 (Philly): Afternoon, Marc. Going into the season I was pretty sure the Red Sox would have one of the best if not the best starting rotations in baseball, and certainly better than the Yankees. This is just one of many reasons why I don't bet on sports. Looking at their farm system, it doesn't seem like there is much in terms of immediate help coming next season. So, finally, my question: what do the Sox do to fix their rotation? And thanks for the chat!
Marc Normandin: They could start by fixing their defense. They have one of the worst defenses in the league, and sure, Penny and Smoltz are doing better in the NL because the talent level is on par with some 30+ recreational leagues, but they never would have been cut if the defense could field. You fix the D, you don't need to fix the rotation. I'm not worried about the rotation, but the defense needs help.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): You wouldn't even keep Hamilton any more? How many keepers would there need to be for you to pitch him back in the redraft pool?
Marc Normandin: I'm really picky about keepers. I also usually play in leagues that only have a handful of keeper slots, so Hamilton wouldn't be on my radar.
Aaron (YYZ): Break out the war stories! Who's the best player you've thrown back in a Keeper League and lived to regret it?
Marc Normandin: Actually, I can't think of one for baseball. For football though, I let Clinton Portis go after 2008--I was in my second season, the league's third, and needed the pick more than the keeper. I guess I didn't regret it that much, even though he put up huge numbers. I had also kept Ronnie Brown, and picked up DeAngelo Williams and Matt Forte on draft day, then traded Tim Hightower when he got the starting gig for the then-injured Brandon Jacobs, who came back and ran plenty for me.
Charlie (Bethesda): Ian Desmond is supposedly a GREAT fielder. Rangy with a nasty arm. So what are the chances that the Nats will have three real good defenders (him, Zim and Morgan) and move Guzman to 2B? Seems like the way to go...
Marc Normandin: If he can field that well, then bring him up. If he's not a good hitter, he may not become one either, so if he's an upgrade due to the glove, let him at it.
B.J. Upton (Tampa): I've never screamed at you Tim.
Also, calling someone who's switched positions three times within four years and has a 4 and 4.9 WAR season under his belt a poor worker is pretty weak.
Marc Normandin: Your move, Tim.
Zombie Al Davis (Oakland): Would a vegetarian zombie say GRAAAAAAINS?
Also: Derrick Burgess more or less pressures + sacks than Seymour next year?
Marc Normandin: Seymour > Burgess, but I think the D-line is going to be fine. Burgess isn't a pushover, and the Pats still have plenty of power on the line.
Eric Gagne (Canada): What's wrong with Jonathan Papelbon?
Marc Normandin: He was great in 2008 because his low walk rate made up for the dip in strikeouts. This year he's around the same K rate, but with more than triple the walk rate of 2008. His fastball has nowhere near the run value it used to, which isn't because of a velocity drop and more because everyone knows it's coming. The less he uses his splitter, the more he uses his fastball.
Carl Everett (Jurassic Park): Will I ever get another spring training invite?
Marc Normandin: Can someone please make a webcomic or animated series starring Carl Everett, who, in his post-baseball career in desperate need of cash, signs up to be a test subject in a time machine at a local university that accidentally strands him in the Jurassic era?
Mikey (NY ): Who are some of your favorite new/young writers?
Marc Normandin: I think Beyond the Boxscore has been adding some pretty good new talent lately. I have no idea if he's young or not, but Tommy Bennett is pretty good.
Patrick (MPLS): When it comes to keepers, isn't it just as important to figure out how highly the league values a player? If enough people think Hamilton is a second round guy, you pretty much have to keep him and trade him to those managers next year, right?
Marc Normandin: Absolutely. Another football example, but it fits the bill. I had three of the top 15 or so wide receivers in the league on my team last year, and kept none of them. I tried to spend the offseason trading them, but everyone knew they could get them in the first few rounds of the draft. They all ended up going in a row when we started the post-keeper picks, in the first round. I probably should have lobbied a bit harder to get something in return for them--sort of a guarantee fee?--but couldn't get anything done.
Jay (NY): Is there a trade between the Mets and the Red Sox involving Reyes that makes sense for both teams in the off-season? What would it be? Who says no to something like Buchholz, Kalish, and Lowrie for Reyes?
Marc Normandin: I'm sure you could line the bodies up in a way that makes both teams happy, but given the Mets new park and the fact they play in the NL, I wouldn't give up any capable hitters that can make things happen on the basepaths and play defense for a pitcher. I think the Mets would be doing themselves a disservice unless they made the Red Sox overpay, and the Sox are too stingy with prospects to do that.
dtwhite (Toronto): What is the single smartest move the Blue Jays can make this offseason?
Marc Normandin: Trade Vernon Wells to an NL team in desperate need of an outfielder and promise to eat half of the salary each year of the deal. It's better than paying him twice as much, having him eat a roster spot and forcing yourself to watch him play.
tommybones (brooklyn): J.J. Hardy to the Red sox makes a lot of sense, no? What would this do to his fantasy value?
Marc Normandin: He would leave the NL, but he would also enter the best park for doubles in the majors. I think he'd do pretty alright for himself, and the Red Sox would be a much better team for it. Hardy is part of my personal plan to make the Red Sox a more well-rounded club in 2010. Matt Holliday is another obvious part of that, given his glove and similarity to Bay with the bat.
Ira (North Texas): Spend a keeper slot on Neftali? cmon, you know ya wanna.....
Marc Normandin: If first year guys/rookies were treated differently, then I would be tempted for sure. If not, no thanks. Like I said, I'm picky about keepers.
David (Evanston, IL): Would it be completely unrealistic to wish for a Pedro-Smoltz matchup in a postseason game?
Marc Normandin: It would be completely awesome. I want that to happen now. Twice if possible.
Taylor (Smithson, OH): Any chance Nyjer Morgan maintains similar numbers next year?
Marc Normandin: And to think I picked up Morgan early solely because Fred Lewis wasn't doing much sitting on my bench. A speedy line drive hitter who also gets a ton of infield hits and steals plenty of bases, but also walks plenty and doesn't strike out much? Yes, please. In real life, he's even better thanks to that glove. I understand the Pirates dealt him as part of their youth movement, but I think he's pretty good.
Aaron (YYZ): Any suggestions for a good mechanism to introduce free agency to a Dynasty league without gutting the existing dynasties?
Marc Normandin: Something of a reverse keeper setup? Like an expansion draft type thing, except meant to fill the free agent pool rather than another team? Use it on X number of players so people have to rearrange some of their rosters, say for two or three seasons, but also start to run the clocks on free agency for all the players that are protected.
Grant (Burbank, CA): Marc, What are your thoughts on Garret Jones of the Pirates? He's had an unbelievable few months, think he could sustain (with some coming back to the mean overall)this type of performance next year?
Marc Normandin: Let's say he loses 100 points of ISO in 2010. That puts him around what, .290/.350/.500? That might still be a bit high, but if you cut 1/3 of his power out and he still looks good, that's pretty promising. He could stand to lose a bit more, but even at .270/.330/.450 or whatever he has his uses.
Ira (Third base line): I know you are not much of an awards guy. But what do you think the chances of Tommy Hunter winning AL ROY? Especially if the Tigers shut down Porcello to rest his arm, and Hunter wins all 4 starts down the stretch to finish with 11 wins?
Marc Normandin: Jackie Robinson Award! Say it with me, folks. By the way, why no love for Jeff Niemann, if we're talking about the AL's rookie hurlers? He's been worth more than twice what Porcello is. Hell, Hunter's already been worth more than Porcello in his 80+ innings. Elvis Andrus has been worth more than all of them though.
Bill (New Mexico): Speaking of writers (not the BtB crowd, they'll know better but are irrelevant anyway), got a prediction for the most creative excuse that a BBWAA voter will give for not placing Pujols and Mauer #1 on their MVP ballot this year?
Marc Normandin: I love this kind of stuff, because I feel like my nerd rage is justified when it happens. You know someone will leave Pujols off because it's boring to have the same guy be so awesome so consistently. I eagerly await their BS excuse for the public.
Joel (GA): Most likely to be mistaken for an Italian dinner: Soriano or Zito?
Marc Normandin: I lol'd. If you didn't, think about it a little harder.
glenihan (nyc): Utley would be a deserving NL MVP winner as well
Marc Normandin: Albert's been better by more than half of a win. Pujols also has far superior raw stats despite the park disadvantage. I love Chutley, but no.
Dave (PA): Pedro-Smoltz would be awesome, but I just don't see how Pedro gets a PS start :-(
Marc Normandin: Sad face.
Off topic, but since R.J. Anderson is harassing me via IM for talking up Niemann, I should clarify. I don't think Niemann is a great pitcher, or even close to deserving the line he's put up. But awards are for what you have accomplished, not for what you were supposed to do, so I don't mind recommending him for the AL's Jackie Robinson Award. Of course this is pointless because Elvis Andrus is the right choice anyways.
mattymatty2000 (Philly): "You fix the D, you don't need to fix the rotation. I'm not worried about the rotation, but the defense needs help."
Since the defense is composed of eight guys and the rotation is five guys, only two or three of which need 'fixing' I'd say maybe fixing the rotation would be easier?
Marc Normandin: Only two or three need fixing? The Red Sox are below average defensively at five of eight positions. Bay has been horrible, Lowell is playing on one leg, Varitek is awful, Ellsbury runs routes in center like he gets bonus points for going the wrong way, and shortstop has been a disaster no matter who plays there.
fjm(anuel) (NY): Writer justification for not voting for Pujols: "If he was truly the Most Valuable, how come they didn't start to win until they brought in Matt Holliday? How can he be the Most Valuable if he couldn't carry a team with Chris Carpenter and Wainwright by himself."
Bonus fun fact, John Flahery, when speaking of Jeter's candidacy, intimated that Jeter would suffer from voters not being able to see all the little things he does every day. That's right, he essentially said that Jeter would be underexposed. Keep in mind that his main competition plays for Minnesota. Ugh.
Marc Normandin: I don't know if it's a one-year blip, but Jeter's been pretty good defensively this year according to UZR. He's still behind Mauer as far as win value goes, but I just thought it was worth mentioning. The normal gulf between the two doesn't exist, though Mauer's as far ahead of Jeter as Pujols is of Utley.
jlebeck66 (WI): Because so much of Andrus' value is glove related, does Beckham have a better shot at the JRA because of having more thump in the bat?
Marc Normandin: Probably, but that doesn't make him the right choice. Just the easy one.
Taylor (Smithson, OH): Would your comments to Morgan also apply to someone like Rajai Davis for next year?
Marc Normandin: Definitely. He's got a tougher go of things, being in the AL, but as long as he can keep the walks coming, he'll have value like Morgan.
R.J. (Tampa): Yes, I cannot imagine why I wouldn't want you talking up any Ray after the curse job you did on Upton and Sonnanstine this year.
Stay away from Davis and Jennings.
Marc Normandin: I've destroyed almost as many Rays careers as Chuck LaMar.
cjbuet (madison, wi): "Upton SCREAMS Delmon Young"....tim from tampa hasn't been watching much of Delmon Young. that guy is a train wreck in the field.
Marc Normandin: At least trains take logical routes from point A to point B.
alanbw (Columbia, MO): If you combined the Royals and A's and took the best 25 players, would they even break .500?
Marc Normandin: That's a great question! My first instinct is to say yes--cutting out a lot of the bad, and there's plenty to choose from, would do wonders for both teams--but this is something I could look at more in-depth instead of quickly in a chat.
Kevin (Fort Worth, TX): Where would you rank Derek Holland, in terms of breakout potential, heading into next year?
Marc Normandin: He needs to keep the ball in the park more, which will be tough in Texas, but that's his main flaw. He's a sleeper pick I think, because if he does rein it in, he's going to put up good numbers.
mattymatty2000 (Philly): Marc, I think you misread my previous question. Fixing the defense requires replacing more people, and potentially twice as many, as fixing the rotation does. I recognize defense and pitching are related, but wouldn't signing Lackey or trading the farm for King Felix go a long way towards improving the results without overturning the entire roster?
Marc Normandin: If your defense still sucks, then those better pitchers suffer for it. I would rather fix the defense and make the pitchers they already have better then just throw young players and money at established pitchers. Just picking up Hardy and Holliday would make the rotation better, and you would get to keep your prospects (some of them pitchers that could now benefit from that defense). Getting a third basemen with two working legs would help too.
tommybones (brooklyn): Speaking as a die-hard Yankee fan, if Mauer doesn't land the hardware, it'll be a disgrace. I wonder where Mauer's season ranks among all time seasons by a catcher?
Marc Normandin: Tim Marchman did a piece on this for SI back in July, and he had Mauer done for the #2 slot behind Piazza's ridiculous 1997 season (one in which he lost the MVP to Larry Walker). I don't know what his qualifications for that were, but Piazza's '97, wow.
Shane (Miami): Crystal balling for a moment into next year, outside of Albert Pujols, who would be your NL MVP candidate (or a couple)?
Marc Normandin: Besides Pujols? Chutley, Hanley, most likely. Guy who deserves to be in the discussion but no one will ever say it: Ryan Zimmerman.
lili (ilil): pirates 2011 > mets 2011?
Marc Normandin: It's tough to say where the Pirates will end up. I love what the front office is doing, but now the players they acquired have to pan out. It hasn't happened for the A's in all of their dealing, but maybe the Pirates will end up with a bit more luck in that regard.
Just a few more questions, folks.
mattymatty2000 (Philly): Not to keep belaboring this point, but doesn't signing Holliday, trading for Hardy, and picking up a new catcher and third baseman also cost prospects and money? I don't disagree with your point and Theo can accomplish all of that then he should go for it. That just seems like lots of players and money than getting Lackey and Felix, which could engender the same result, cost less in terms of money and prospects and blah blah blah. I appreciate you continuing to answer my questions, Marc. Many thanks.
Marc Normandin: No, it's okay. I think it's an important point to discuss. The price in prospects for Felix is massive--the Sox inquired around the deadline, and the Mariners let them know they wanted the entire Portland Sea Dogs roster and the rights to the stadium's concession profits in exchange for him. The Red Sox already have their new catcher in Victor Martinez, Hardy's value is low so he won't cost much in prospects, Holliday shouldn't cost that much more than re-signing Bay would (despite the major difference in value) and that just leaves third base. You get to keep the important prospects, and the team ends up better off even before the pitchers improve.
Wolfenstein (3D): Any PS3 recommendations for a newbie?
Marc Normandin: Valkyria Chronicles is the best RPG on the system. Strategy RPG with a third-person shooter perspective. Beautiful art work. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune might be the best game overall on the system though. I checked out the sequel at PAX, and it's looking great. If you want a first-person shooter, Killzone 2 is good. MLB The Show is the best baseball game on the market, and Sony exclusive.
NTubrinski29 (St. Loo): Odds that Holliay resigns with the Cards in the off-season?
Marc Normandin: Sadly, I think they improve by the day. He's been quoted recently as saying Albert Pujols is the greatest player in the history of baseball. I think playing alongside him might be appealing to him.
Mo Rivera (Bronx): I'm not going to win the Cy Young somehow, am I?
Marc Normandin: I know your ERA is shiny, but do you really deserve it, Mo? Jon Lester is worth about three times as many wins as you, and he isn't even my pick for AL Cy Young (hi Zack Greinke!)
LA Fan (Westwood, CA): Where does Matt Kemp fall in the NL MVP vote? 3rd? 5th? 10th? Isn't he the best player on the team tied for the best record?
Marc Normandin: If we keep pitchers out of the equation, then 5th or 6th. I don't consider team record.
Johnny Tuttle (Battle Creek, Michigan): For keeper league owners, would Holliday's jumping ship to Boston render him closer to his As days than his STL days?
Marc Normandin: Fenway gives far more than it takes away, and even without Pujols he's got a pretty good lineup around him to drive in and be driven in by. Maybe not his NL numbers, but better than OAK.
Marc Normandin: Sorry everyone, but I have to run. It's been great chatting with everyone as we look towards the last few weeks of the playoff spot chases, and I'm looking forward to checking out playoff baseball with you next month!