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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday October 08, 2009 2:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.

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What's going on at Prospectus today? Joe Sheehan's taking your questions about the outcome of three LDS Game Ones and their impact on the post-season play to come.

Joe Sheehan: What will happen first: This chat ends or the Rockies score a postseason run?

Hawkeye (Grafton, ND): You get to be the GM of any sub .500 team in the league. Which team do you choose and why?

Joe Sheehan: Sorry...laptop problems. Nice machine, terrible power cord.

I take the Mets. Championship caliber core talent, new park, good media money, smart guys already in place.

jschmeagol (college park, md): In your analysis of the Phillies/Rockies series, you mentioned how the Phils Offense was not well suited to hit against the Rockies D. But how about the opposite match-up? The Rockies only played .500 ball against lefties this year and the Phils can throw three lefties at them (four games, maybe five depending on the schedule). Isn't this an advantage for Philly? Also, can you do anything about the annoying Outback commercial that keeps covering up the screen?

Joe Sheehan: No, I can't, but I've complained about it myself. It's absurd.

I felt the two teams' rotations were fairly even, which may have been overrating Ubaldo Jimenez against this particular lineup. I also didn't think Jim Tracy would play Brad Hawpe over Ryan Spilborghs. Not that that was the only factor, but man, can you leave Spilborghs and Chris Iannetta on your bench if you're serious about beating a lefty?

Anyway, with the Rockies having lost the Jimenez start and not having de la Rosa, their situation isn't that great.

Matt (Chicago): Could the Cubs really run a defensive outfield of Sori, Fukudome, and Burrell out there if they swap Bradley for Burrell? I know that staff throws a lot of Ks but that seems a bit reckless.

Joe Sheehan: You can trade out outfield defense if you're the Cubs because the home park is fairly small and your staff strikes out the world. I think the above example is more than a little extreme, not least because it's two left fielders.

paulbellows (Calgary): Jurrjens + Kelly Johnson for Adam Dunn?

Joe Sheehan: I'm averaging a login every four minutes.

Mr. Rizzo, leave me alone. I'm on board with trading Jurrjens because he'll being back the kind of player the Braves need, and I don't expect Lowe, Hudson or Vazquez to produce that kind of return. But let's not get silly.

ekanenh (Capitol City): That Nick Punto. He's a ballplayer!!

Joe Sheehan: Go give Keith Law five bucks.

g-mo (west bumpus): does miguel cabrera make _any_ mvp ballots now?

Joe Sheehan: The guy who had the great year and hit a two-run homer to put his team ahead 3-0 with its second-best starter on the mound? Yeah, I think he does.

Things are so different now. How many guys have it as part of their legend that they drank like fish and played hungover?

Dr. Zaius (Norfolk VA): No comment on Nathan not starting the 8th against Tigers with 4-3 lead with 3-4-5 up? Or just not stating the obvious Gardenhire bone head move?

Joe Sheehan: I can live with it, and he did bring Nathan in later in the inning when it got bad. Guerrier isn't that bad a pitcher, and there's an argument for not blowing out Nathan unless you have to with a game the next night. I can see this one either way, unlike, say, letting Zach Miner end your season.

spf31 (chicago): Joe, the two worst moments in all of sports are-- a) When a football game is stopped for five minutes to go to a replay to figure out if a guy's foot was inbounds in the 5th minute of the second quarter, and b) When a basketball team makes a buzzer beater, and then can't celebrate for 10 minutes while the refs watch the replay over and over. (Happens in hockey, too.) I'm of the mind that the constant second-guessing of every play brings sports to a complete halt and makes them an absolute bear to watch. Baseball already has enough of this crap in the playoffs, with the three minutes of commercials and Joe Torre taking the longest, slowest walks in the world to the mound. There is no need to institutionalize it any further. Baseball should be a beautiful game with a flow, and one in which what you see is what you get--there are no do-overs, no callbacks of touchdowns. Baseball's real problem is that its umpiring system is in no way merit-based. You are not graded by performance, only seniority. Once you're in the club you can't be kicked out, even if you're terrible. I think that if you changed that a lot of these problems would be fixed.

Joe Sheehan: See, I think neither of those is worse than watching a team lose when it did exactly what it was supposed to do, but a middle-management functionary made a mistake that is correctable.

dtwhite (Toronto): Which players during the playoffs will do the most to alter the public's perception of them [for better or worse]?

Joe Sheehan: Dear god, I hope Alex Rodriguez is one of them. Please.

I like Clayton Kershaw to come up big.

Michael (New York CIty): can you see any similiarities between Matt Kemp and Bernie Williams? Andre Either & Paul O'neill obviously without all the rings!

Joe Sheehan: They don't strike me as alike at all. Williams was a mature hitter at a very young age, athletic, but without Kemp's raw tools. Williams was lanky, Kemp is a bigger guy. I think they might have careers of similar value, but Kemp has a higher upside if you compare them at similar ages.

akachazz (DC): The question is probably a day late, but I really want to know your take on this. You, more than anyone I know of, espouses the theory that short-series outcomes are close to random, that even a 103 win team vs. an 87 win team isn't an overwhelming advantage. On the other hand, in your preview of Twins/Yanks, you noted how it seemed that this was probably the biggest mismatch that could ever be physically possible. I just wanted to know where these two conflicting notions met each other. So for this and any mismatch 5 game series, what is the utmost probability of one team beating another? 2-1 odds? 3-1? 5-1?

Joe Sheehan: The teams can be mismatched *and* the possibility still exist that the lesser team wins. I think the upper bound on a favorite in a best-of-five is around 4-1. It might be less. This is as extreme a case as we've ever seen, the champ of a weak division missing some key parts coming in off rotation and playing game one after a game the night before and a flight, and taking on the league's best team.

mikeel (Escondido): The Dodgers took game one. Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols? Have they run out of steam at the end of the season? It sure looks that way.

Joe Sheehan: Doesn't seem to be any connection between how a team finishes the season and how it plays in the playoffs. This would seem to reduce to players as well.

Patrick (MPLS): Should Gardenhire consider trading offense for defense and start Carlos Gomez? Or does his flexibility as a pinch runner/defensive replacement make him more valuable off the bench? Anything else the Twins can try to give themselves even a slightly better chance?

Joe Sheehan: Yes. The defensive bump over Young would be much greater than the offense they'd give up by having Gomez in the lineup instead of Jose Morales or Brendan Harris or whatever nightmare they're DHing. This was the play the second Morneau was done.

Paul Byrd (Anaheim, CA): So how much action do I see this series?

Joe Sheehan: Yeah, I don't really get this unless it means Matsuzaka is starting Game Four and he has to be the long man. The Sox have an effective, deep pen but it's all short guys, so I can see carrying someone to be the long man. One of those is fine. Both? I don't know if Delcarmen adds a whole lot, but Reddick, maybe? Baldelli's hurt. I don't think eight relievers is the answer, but if Daisuke is absolutely starting Game Four, Byrd is kind of necessary.

Ira (North Texas): Evan Grant has been reporting that the Texas Rangers should (will?) resign Marlon Byrd, Trade Nelson Cruz, and platoon Julio Borbon and Ivan Rodriguez in the DH slot. Doesn't that sound to you more like a recipe for exactly what they SHOULDN'T do?

Joe Sheehan: Ivan Rodriguez has no business on this team next year. Taylor Teagarden is basically that guy if you just want to go defense behind the plate, and you'd be insane to DH I-Rod. Trade Cruz to make room for him and Byrd? What the hell? Is this Billy Beane's plan for the Rangers?

ed (ny): How's Bernie as a HoF candidate? He's close. Do you think he did enough?

Joe Sheehan: I think he's in, but I'm on record as saying that in the 1995-on era, you have to start giving weight to postseason play in a way you never did before. That's Bernie, Smoltz, Chipper, Posada...the guys who have so much high-leverage play. It's not my format--I'm the guy who wants the regular season to mean more--but the industry and the media has made it October Uber Alles, so the guys who played well there deserve extra credit.

cortes (miami): your solution to fix the marlins is what? move coghlan to 2b? doesn't it feel like if uggla is traded, they will move bonifacio back to 2b, even though it's an awful move?

Joe Sheehan: Maybin to CF, Coghlan to 3B, Uggla stays, Bonifacio is a UT. Re-sign Johnson, let Cantu go. Probably non-tender Hermida, keep Ross and look for OFs in the market.

dtwhite (Toronto): Now that the Ricciardi era has ended, what do you think of his track record? Did he do as bad of a job as everyone here thinks? What would you say were his best/worst moves?

Joe Sheehan: He got off track after 2004 (I may have the year wrong), when the Jays were ravaged by injuries. Rather than write it off as an injury year, he seemed to overreact to it, abandon what plan was in place. On the whole, I think Ricciardi was maybe a player-development director who didn't quite handle the GM job, but the idea that he was some kind of disaster is well overstated.

What a stupid-ass bunt.

Phil (NJ): How many New York sportswriters soiled themselves when Pavano was announced as the Game 3 starter? The weekend column will write itself!

Joe Sheehan: How many Twins fans did? Who looks at Carl Pavano and Scott Baker and chooses Pavano?

Bad decision by Hamels.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Could you please explain your theory of giving extra credit for the postseason for players' HoF chances post-95? Is it becuase the players can burn themselves out there? That there are more games being played in the PS now? Doesn't that shaft a guy like Halladay as summarily as it would to value CC's wins and quality of team over Greinke's for the Cy for this single year?

Joe Sheehan: It's a plus-only system. I wouldn't hold it against Halladay or anyone else for NOT making the postseason. I'm saying that the added length and the added emphasis--can these things really be debated--relative to the regular season should be reflected in Hall voting.

Phil S. (NJ): Which of the 8 AL and NLDS rosters do you feel is best constructed and why?

Joe Sheehan: Probably the Dodgers, who have a decent bench by Torre's standards and almost no empty spots.

As I watch the Rockies never hit a ball out of the infield, sometimes voluntarily, I really question myself.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): I was worried about the Tigers last Friday and you calmed my nerves. Thanks for nothing! Of the cuff on the Tigers next year.....regression coming from their 86 wins? Or does the Verlander/Jackson/Porcello troika keep them steady?

Joe Sheehan: Are we including Jackson in there? I'm a fan, but he was terrible for half the season. I don't know where the runs come from, and it's an incredibly old team without much of a farm system. I'd be surprised if they won 86 again, but then again, I was surprised this year.

buffum (Austin TX): What would it take to get Aaron Harang from the Reds? I'm wondering if their desire to shed salary and his misleading numbers might make them likely to unload him. Their catchers and shortstop were horrific this season: could the Indians craft a package with Kelly Shoppach, Jhonny Peralta, and a pitching prospect not named Hector or Nick, or would the Reds be looking for a pure prospect package?

Joe Sheehan: Do they have a desire to shed salary? They're not paying that many people as is. I can't see your offer getting it done, even granting your premise. That's a terrible deal. You'd have to do it with real prospects.

havybeaks (Michigan): Didn't someone on BP once compare post-season vs. regular season careers and show that players pretty much play to their established level of performance if given plenty of playoff appearances? I seem to remember this article showing that Bernie and Jeter were the same player, October or otherwise.

Joe Sheehan: Sounds about right. The number and perceived value of postseason games are higher now.

Moose (Whippleville, NY): The Mets have identified Matt Holliday as their number 1A target after John Lackey. So where does he end up - St. Louis for less money or in NY?

Joe Sheehan: The Yankees will need a LF, too, and have a ton of money coming off the payroll again. That's not to say he'll end up there, just making the point. I'm not sure there's value in this year's market--good players, not great ones, who will end up overpaid for being best in class.

I have no real idea where Holliday will end up. I guess I should reiterate the point that the reasons these guys sign are often inscrutable to us, comparable to the same reasons any of us might relocate.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): What do you know about the new Toronto GM?

Joe Sheehan: Nothing. I may have met him at a winter meetings a couple years back. Keith Law, who worked with him, had some notes on him in his chat today.

Don (MI): Tiger fans pretty demoralized around here, the end of the season was a nightmare and there are a lot of hard decisions and bloated contracts staring down the offseason. Cheer me up?

Joe Sheehan: Hockey.

The Flying Bernard (Acton, MA): How should the Phillies use Pedro in the playoffs?

Joe Sheehan: In the bullpen in the first round, as I think they should start Happ in Game Three, and maybe Eyre in Game Four, if the Rockies persist in bring all Ryan Howard against lefties.

Second round depends on the matchups. Martinez seems able to throw 100-110 pitches, and I don't know how well he can pitch three times in five days. Lots of unknowns here. Maybe Pedro is the backup starter for when an actual starter ever gets bombed.

Chris (Virginia): I haven't heard anybody talk about this so maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that Leyland throwing his closer out there for 3 innings of work seems insane. Is he insane? Did the tigers have no other decent options? or am I an idiot? Thanks, in advance, Joe.

Joe Sheehan: I didn't mind riding Rodney, and it's not like he pitched all that poorly. If Raburn doesn't have the brain lock, we're not talking about this. What I would have liked to see, somewhere, some way, was Justin Verlander. Leyland mismanaged the sixth and seventh, which is where he lost the game.

akachazz (DC): Is it possible the most overrated and most underrated player in baseball play together on left side of the Phillies' infield?

Joe Sheehan: I'm certainly Utley is the most underrated. He's one of the five best players in the game, and I'm pretty sure not many people realize that. Overrated? Howard's in the picture, but he did become better defensively--but not throwing the ball--this year. Maybe that's enough.

cortes (miami): on a scale of 1-10, how odd was the marlins' interest in bobby valentine? do they really think fredi was their downfall this year, not 450+ too many at-bats from bonifacio?

Joe Sheehan: Odder than them firing the presumptive NL Manager of the Year two years ago? Or twice tearing down championship rosters before realizing the benefits? The Marlins are in the Tyson Zone.

Joel (GA): I've watched a lot of baseball, even for someone in his 20's, but this TBS coverage is easily the worst-run baseball telecast I've ever seen cumulatively. It's a complete disaster both aurally and visually.

Joe Sheehan: They had all kinds of problems during the last game last night. It's not like they don't produce baseball during the year. Very strange.

They also have a wildly unfortunate cast of voices.

Phil S. (NJ): Carlos Gonzalez, v.2009 - Expect more of the same (good power/speed combo with just enough walks) for the next few years or so?

Joe Sheehan: Really not sure what to make of him...the walks, even at their level, were something of a surprise. He's a very good defender, so if he hits .290/.335/.445 with steals, that will play. I'm much higher on him than I was at the time of the trade.

akachazz (DC): What's the downside in making the DS best of 7? As you've pointed out, as it is, there are so many off-days anyway, and it's less fair (the big one for me). More TV revenues... why won't this happen, aside from it not being the status quo? There is no more important game in the post-season right now than the first game of the Division Series.

Joe Sheehan: Three additional days tacked on to the postseason schedule. We're already really pushing it. I can't see any more games being added without something coming out of the regular season.

neal (elwood, il): Today should be another interesting test for the Phils to score without homering with Cook's sinker going

Joe Sheehan: They may only need two runs, though. I really like Aaron Cook. Fun to watch, and a good story to boot.

judy (MA): Who do you think is most likely to be playing LF for the Red Sox next year? Who do you think should be?

Joe Sheehan: Depends on how the postseason goes. They signed Lowell after the 2007 title for no good reason. Bay's a slightly better bet, but not much of one, and if he becomes associated with the title, he has a better chance of coming back.

Wendy (Madrid): So how good is Porcello, now that he's shown he can strike guys out when needed?

Joe Sheehan: Do I need to write an article comparing him to Greg Maddux every six weeks? I love the guy.

Lincoln (Dallas): What's Cook's story?

Joe Sheehan: Came back from a pulmonary embolism, which I may be misspelling.

strupp (Madison): So, the FA class is role-player heavy, the pitching class in particular is heavy with question marks, and the only potential game changer, really is Holliday... other than Halladay, are there any difference makers you'd expect to be on the trade market? Thanks for chat.

Joe Sheehan: Dunn, maybe. The Braves will be shopping an SP, and Vazquez can make a difference. The New York media wants to trade some pretty good Mets.

Lightning round.

Phil S. (NJ): Number of times Girardi calls for a bunt this postseason: 2 1/2. Taking the under or over?

Joe Sheehan: Are you kidding me? Way over.

jonkk1 (Elkhart, Ind.): Utley and Howard are the *right* side of the IF.

Joe Sheehan: Kinda depends on how good your seats are.

Silv (NY, NY): Roto question (sorry): keeper league, just dealt Rasmus/Andy LaRoche/Carlos Ruiz for Buster Posey/Gallado/Looper. Thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: Stop playing with the local Girl Scout Troop. Ruiz and Looper cancel, and you're way ahead on the rest of it.

Don't ask me three questions at once. Thanks. (Not you, Silv.)

Tyler (chatroom): "laptop problems. Nice machine, terrible power cord." You didn't go with a Mac yet did ya?

Joe Sheehan: Are they solar-powered now?

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Should the Nats trade a) Dunn b) Willingham c) Both d) Neither

Joe Sheehan: Both. Neither has a role when the team is ready to compete.

Abe (TX): Who wins the NBA title?

Joe Sheehan: Dunno, haven't read my Pro Basketball Prospectus 2009-10 yet. (Available by the end of the week at http://www.basketballprospectus.com!)

ndubby (sfo): Should the wildcard team have to play the team with the best record, regardless of whether are both in the same division?

Joe Sheehan: Yes. If we're going to allow second-place teams in, stop with the charade that the division winner somehow doesn't have to avoid playing that second-place team again. It's more fair this way. Especially for the Angels.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Bobby V + Nationals = Everyone's Happy, no?

Joe Sheehan: Well, not Jim Riggleman.

chicago (il): Thoughts on Matt Cain's long-term future?

Joe Sheehan: RIght around a #2 starter, very durable, K/9 around 7.0, ERAs in the 3.50-3.85 range.

Phil S. (NJ): Returning for 2010 Yankees - Damon, Matsui, neither? Thanks for the chat.

Joe Sheehan: I'd rather have Damon because he can play left field. I suspect one, but not both, return.

Joe Sheehan: Have to watch some baseball now. Thanks for all the great questions (and comments, and e-mails). I'll be back when Christina tells me to be back.


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