With the game's shift over to business season, you'll want to check in with BP's Shawn Hoffman about what's cooking on the Hot Stove.
Shawn Hoffman: Let's get this thing started. Tons of things to discuss: GM meetings this week, free agency about to start, lots of cap talk thanks to the Yankees winning, and the six-time Super Bowl champions are at Denver tonight. Fire away.
R.A.Wagman (Toronto): Shawn - do you think it may be easier for some franchises do devote more energies into bringing more people into the stands, creating excitement in marketing the game itself and using funds generated from that to building an improved team, than it would be to build a winner without the fan base and hope the fans follow afterward?
Shawn Hoffman: Bill James always said that the only two things that bring people to the ballpark are a good team and free stuff. I don't think you can grow gate revenues purely through marketing; if you have a bad team and you want to stock up on cash for when you have a contender, it almost has to come through cost cuts, and this is the model we've been seeing more and more: field a low-cost team, save money, use some of the excess in the draft and internationally, and use the rest on player payroll when your team is actually in contention.
jlarsen (chicago): With the way that position players have been traded thus far, wouldn't it be smart for the Rays to look into trades of Jason Bartlett and/or Carl Crawford. I realize that Crawford means a lot to the Rays, but even if he sticks for the season, a package of prospects is worth more than a #16-40 something pick would bring. Also, I'm sure Dayton Moore has Andrew Friedman's ear for Jason Bartlett, he fits what KC looks for. Could the Rays make a package that nets Soria and a prospect or 2 for Bartlett, Navarro and a prospect?
Shawn Hoffman: I don't think Soria is a great return on Bartlett, from the Rays' perspective. If they're going to trade him or Crawford, it should be a blow-away deal -- three or four position players / starting pitchers, with at least a couple that are close to making an impact.
rdierkers (cincinnati): what type of *business* discussions do you think are being discussed at the GM meetings?
Shawn Hoffman: It's mostly rule changes -- you would think instant replay would be a big topic this year. I would bet that most GMs are in favor of an expanded program, but as long as Bud is against it, I'm not holding my breath.
Mike (Utica,NY): Should the Yankees only bring back Matsui or Damon on one year deal considering Jesus Montero should be ready for the majors in a year.
Shawn Hoffman: Whether they bring back Damon and Matsui will have more to do with who the Yankees want in LF and DH in 2010. They rarely if ever will make major league personnel decisions based on whether a prospect will be ready by x date -- it's very risky, and they can afford not to. If they really want Damon back, and it takes a multi-year deal, they'll do it. I don't think they'll bring Matsui back, b/c having a DH-only type player can make things very inflexible.
Farber (my couch): I miss baseball already...what's more depressing is that my Mets are probably the 3rd, maybe 4th-best team in the NLE, and going downhill...it looks like it'll be a good few years before I can root for a playoff team again.
Shawn Hoffman: I actually don't think they're that far off, if they can figure out how to build on the margins correctly (i.e. bench, bullpen, etc). They still have four of the most valuable players in the league, and if they can keep them off the DL (easier said than done, especially for Reyes and Beltran), there's no reason they shouldn't be able to compete.
Matt (Chicago): Who do you see as potential candidates to fill the Cubs' outfield vacancy? Do see a need for a power/run-producer or speed/obp/defense type?
Shawn Hoffman: Let's take a step back, b/c there really is no vacancy yet. The hope is still that they can trade Bradley for a decent everyday outfielder. If they can't, then maybe they go for one of the free agents -- can't you see the Cubs overpaying for Marlon Byrd? Who knows, if they have to release Bradley, maybe Jake Fox gets a shot, although that could be a disaster defensively...
kevin (boston): Given the injury risk to mike lowell could you see the red sox going after adrian beltre? This would even let them platoon lowell and papi.
Shawn Hoffman: It's not impossible, but there are a bunch of teams that desperately need a third baseman, so you would think Beltre's value to them would be higher than it is to the Sox, who already have a bit of a logjam going on. But if the market doesn't like Beltre for some reason, it could make some sense for the Sox to get involved.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Any idea when folks in Iowa and Nevada can expect some relief from the insipid blackout restrictions? In Des Moines we do not get MN, MIL, KC, STL, CHC, CHW. Its not worth subscribing to MLB.tv or Extra Innings if you're Tigers fan like me and all those games are toast.
Shawn Hoffman: It's a really dumb situation, and I don't expect it to get resolved any time soon. If anything, it's only gonna get more frustrating, since there will be broad in-market streaming in the next year or two, but only for people who can already get the games on cable.
WilliamWilde (Boston, MA): Any ideas on how the new ownership in Chicago will run the team? Based on what i can tell they seem a more sabermetric focused group than what was there in the past? Will payroll change much?
Shawn Hoffman: I doubt payroll will change much -- they're spending about what they should, and more than enough to be competitive in the weaker league, if managed correctly. As far as becoming more analytically-oriented -- I'll believe it when I see it. Jim Hendry is signed through 2012, and until/unless he's out, I don't see why it would change.
Matt (Chicago): Could this turn out to be a "transitional" year for Bos? It seems like the weak free-agent market and the lack of upper-level minor-league talent will have them sitting on their hands.
Shawn Hoffman: And now back from intermission.....
I don't think the Red Sox will view it as "transitional." Remember, things can change very quickly -- a year ago the Red Sox were the best team in baseball and the Yankees may have been the fourth best team in the AL East. The Sox will do what they can do, and it's important to keep in mind that they don't HAVE to be better than the Yankees -- they have to be better than the Rays, Jays, and Orioles, and then get hot at the right time.
buffum (Austin TX): Can the Indians leverage Kelly Shoppach's 2008 (perhaps using hypnosis to pretend 2009 did not happen) into something useful in a trade? Catchers are always a valuable commodity, and I can't see them tendering him a qualifying offer.
Shawn Hoffman: It might be better to keep him around and hope he has a hot start. His trade value took a big hit this year, and I'm sure they don't want to sell low. No reason to have Santana up at the start of the season anyway, so if there aren't any good offers for Shoppach now, it would make a lot of sense to wait it out.
Phil (NJ): Who gets the majority of the starts behind the plate for the Yankees in 2011?
Shawn Hoffman: Jorge. But that's when it starts getting interesting. What if his shoulder gives out? What if Jeter can't play short anymore? With Teixeira locked in at first base, where do A-Rod and Jeter play in 2014? Do they bring Jorge back after 2011 if he can't play catcher anymore?
Really, Jeter is the big x-factor. They'll never let him go anywhere else, and they really don't have any logical spot for him to play in five years. So whatever position he does end up at, somebody better will probably be forced out.
Tusker (FL) (Orlando): Shawn - I think you said you run a website as your day job. If so, what would you do about BPro's design? Is there any plan to get it out of 2001?
Shawn Hoffman: It could use some streamlining -- a lot of visual elements that could be condensed or relegated. I also tend to prefer placing the most important things on the left, since that's where your eyes go when you navigate onto a page.
Rob (Oakland): Shawn - can you tell us Giants fans that a Rowand for Bradley trade might realistically go down?
Shawn Hoffman: That would be hilarious. With no other cash involved, I guess the Giants win that, but really, you don't want to be on either end. Bradley should be in the AL, and before we even consider the temper and all that, it really wasn't an inspired signing in the first place.
don (lansing): Who plays short for the Yankees in 2016? What's their rotation look like for 2018? Will Rivera still be closing in 2024?
Shawn Hoffman: Hanley Ramirez. Lincecum / Greinke / Strasburg / Verlander / Clemens. Yes.
WilliamWilde (Boston, MA): How do you see the breakdown of the McCourt's marriage effecting Dodgers short term? Long term?
Shawn Hoffman: Short term, it's gotta be hell in that office, but I don't think it will really affect anything on the field. Long term, I guess it depends who ends up with the team -- if it's Jamie, there's always the chance she could allocate capital somewhat differently, but I doubt it.
MK (NY): On Jeter, in five years he'll be 40. Even if he slows down a bit, he's usually around 200 hits a year, which puts him on the cusp of 4000 at that point. Is it possible that he becomes a player-manager, with a lot of DH? Posada will be gone by then and we can assume, I think that A-Roid and Tex will be in the same positions. In six years, maybe seven, Jeter could pass Pete Rose, no?
Shawn Hoffman: It's gonna be really hard for Jeter to touch that record. FJM went through this on deadspin -- he'd have to break the seasonal hits record for every age through 43 or 44 to do it. I think the question of where he'll be playing defensively is more interesting, and honestly I have no idea what the answer is.
Michael (New Orleans): What's this year's market inefficiency? Last year it was an uneven economy that scared most teams off the big free agents and created a donut hole. Before that, defense, which was exploited by the Rays and Mariners.
Shawn Hoffman: It's still probably defense. Read Dave Cameron's piece on Mike Cameron vs. Jason Bay today. There are still lots of guys who are vastly underrated b/c most of their value comes from defense.
Shawn Hoffman: Alright guys, thanks for stopping by. And go Steelers...