It's not a fantasy, it's your opportunity to ask Fantasy Beat's Marc Normandin your real-world questions about what's going on this offseason.
Marc Normandin: Uh, whoops. Sorry for the delay folks, I got caught up in doing something and lost track of the time, but I'm here now and will be for awhile. As always, baseball questions are a go, as are questions pertaining to video games and my other hobbies. I'm willing to offer up gift suggestions as well, given the season.
mattymatty2000 (Philly): Hey Marc. Question about the Pedroia to shortstop rumors. I don't see why, given an entire off season, it couldn't work. It's much easier to find a decent second baseman than shortstop this off season, so it makes sense to me. What do you think? Thanks for the chat.
Marc Normandin: I was just thinking about this--Pedroia was moved to second because he doesn't have the arm or range for shortstop. 2B hides his shortcomings very well, and he has good instincts and positioning that helps him hide his range too. His bat could make up for the defense at SS, but you would need to make sure you signed a better 2B than you would get a SS to make this work. I'm not 100% against the move, but I would prefer that Pedroia stay at 2B, given how bad the defense already is for Boston.
jbuofm (Peoria): Why don't more teams have a knuckleballer in the pen as a long man/change of pace guy? You have to believe that after seeing 90mph fastballs all game, a 60mph knuckler would make anyone look foolish
Marc Normandin: I did love the days of Tim Wakefield: Closer, but I think part of the problem is just that there aren't a lot of guys who can throw a knuckleball consistently well. I'm sure there are plenty of pitchers that can toss one for kicks, but consistency is the key, especially when it looks like the pitcher doesn't even know where it's going sometimes.
I also wonder how effective the pitch would be if everyone in the league was used to seeing it often.
Steven (New England): Hey Mark,
Using the Santana Trade as a template: Is a trade of Boston players: Casey Kelly (5 star prospect), Jed Lowrie (MLB Utility INF possible SS/2B), plus a B/B- level prospect like a Gibson (SS)[Navarro (INF) or Lin (OF)] for Doc Halladay work?
Remember, Santana netted the Twins Carlos Gomez, great defense with a progressing bat, and the Mulvey/Humber/Guerra trio. Not a very impressive bevy of pitchers.
In short, Minnosota received 1 really good player plus some filler in the trade - due to Santana's trade demands, his potential extention price tag and having only 1 year left on the existing contract.
The Blue Jays can't possibly get much more than the Twins received in their Trade?
Marc Normandin: I think Minnesota's deal would actually be a reason to expect the Jays to get more, as they will hold out as long as they can until someone is desperate enough to cave in to their demands. I'm not sure how accurate the reports are, but I kept hearing that the Sox would have to give up both Kelley and Clay Buchholz to make this work. I'm not sure how I feel about that, as much as I love Halladay.
dantroy (davis): Will you be cautious on Wieters next year? I see that ZIPs and Chone are not projecting breakthrough years. Long term, do you like his bat better than Santana's (from Cleveland)?
Marc Normandin: I was pretty cautious on Wieters this year, actually. I ranked him either 5 or 6 among catchers mostly due to the drop in talent after the first few options, not because I was expecting him to shatter records, which is what I said in the actual rankings.
I do like his bat long-term, but he needs to show he can hit now before I start to obsess over him.
BR (NYC): Marc, thanks for chatting! Glad I'm not the only one who loses track of time... speaking of which, how much time are you devoting to this year's annual? Any hints on what you're contributing?
Marc Normandin: I am contributing to this year's annual, yes, doing some fantasy-based stuff. I'm not sure if I have the go ahead to talk about it though, so this hint is all I will drop.
Silv (NY, NY): First off, have you played Demon's Souls and, if so, thoughts? The most frustratingly awesome game I've played in a long while (and I mean that in a good way). Secondly, what are your thoughts of a 'challenge trade' between the Dodgers and Mets: Mets get Russ Martin, Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre; Dodgers get back Jose Reyes and The Contract Formerly Known As Luis Castillo.
Marc Normandin: Demon's Souls is in my top three of all games I have played this year, alongside Uncharted 2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It's my pick for RPG of the year, and it should get recognition as a legitimate Game of the Year candidate, but I haven't written those articles for Blast quite yet.
I think Reyes will rebound, and I'm pretty sure the Mets feel the same way. I'm not so sure about Russ Martin, just because I wonder if he really was beaten into the ground by starting all of the time like everyone used to joke/worry he would be. I wouldn't do if if I were the Mets, but I would immediately make this move if I were the Dodgers.
Ethan (New York, NY): Would you expect Ben Zobrist or Aaron Hill to duplicate their performances in 2010? Between those two and Gordon Beckham's move to 2B, how much more or less valuable is a premiere second baseman next year?
Marc Normandin: I actually like Ben Zobrist a lot. He hit pretty well in 2008 too, so it's nice to see him keep things going this past season. I haven't looked at Hill in detail yet (second base is this week's ranking redux though, so you won't have to wait long), but if the three of those players continue to hit, then yes, second base has a lot more worthwhile options that might add some depth to the rankings.
Johnny Tuttle (Exhibition Stadium): In a keeper/dynasty format, I'm trying to decide generally what to do with a few older players. The principle debate is, of course, sell off before drop off or squeeze til the last drop. Do you have a general attitude here, or do you case by case? My gut reaction is different for a Mo Rivera (hang on 'til the end) than it is for a hitter (I've got a few older hitters, and I wonder about selling them off now here and there).
Marc Normandin: My preference would be to trade a year too early rather than a year too late. If you know a fall is coming, then you should get value while you can in case it happens sooner than you expect it to. I'm not sure if I always felt this way, but I've been watching the Patriots use that strategy this decade, and it's worked out pretty well for them.
nemo (Alaska): New Super Mario Bros. Wii -- greatest Mario game ever? Or does that honor still belong to Mario 3? (Or Mario World? Or Mario 64?)
Marc Normandin: It's strange, because the sense of personality is different. It's not its own game in the same way that Mario World of Mario 3 are, as it acts as more of an homage to Mario greatness of the past rather than inventing new worlds and ideas for you to explore, but at the same time, it's very, very refined Mario platforming, and the fact that it combines so much from past games makes it somewhat of a Mario: Greatest Hits title.
In that sense, yes, it could be the best 2D Mario platformer. Throw in the multiplayer and I think you have a strong argument for an instant classic that stands with Mario's best sidescrolling moments.
Bill (New Mexico): A softball to get you started: Who would be on your Hall of Fame ballot this year?
Marc Normandin: Holdovers: Tim Raines, Bert Blyleven and Mark McGwire. For newbies, Barry Larkin and maybe Robbie Alomar, though I'm iffy enough on that one that I don't even remember if I'm for or against him at present. Just as a "I liked this guy, and I want to vote for him" kind of deal, and not because I think they should get in, I would toss a vote to Robin Ventura and Ellis Burks.
The good news is that Ray Lankford is finally on the ballot, so if he doesn't get 5% of the vote I can see if I can get him to write a foreword for "The Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame: Book Edition" without him feeling snubbed someday.
jason (podunk): Don't overlook Yoshi's Island! Unbelievably creative level design, play control, and the best bosses, in any game, ever.
Marc Normandin: Yoshi's Island is FANTASTIC, but I don't think of it as a Mario platformer just because the mechanics are so different. It is brilliant though, as the level design is really something else, and holds up well even today.
Can you think of any other games where the sequel was so disappointing after such a brilliant debut? Yoshi's Story on the Nintendo 64 just really didn't do anything for me after playing Yoshi's Island on the SNES.
adambulldog (Spring Green): Would it make for the Yankees to let Hideki and Damon leave and try to pick up Cameron and Nick Johnson to replace them?
Marc Normandin: If I told you that I hated putting Mike Cameron on my list of top power free agents just because I knew a team like NY might think it's a good idea to sign him, would that answer your question?
WiiUser? (Milwaukee): Will a 3 or 4 year old like the Wii? (Her Daddy hasn't played a video game since IntelliVision, FWIW.)
Marc Normandin: I think it would depend on the child. I think I was 5-6 when I started playing games and knew what I was doing, but I could be remembering incorrectly. There are definitely a lot of games for younger players on the system, though they are still usually a year or two ahead of what you're asking for.
Keith C (Naugatuck, CT): It seems that even in the worst non injury scenario as oar as performance is concerned Scutaro is destined to be the Red Sox's best, or at least most steady all around SS since Nomar, how much of a premium will the Sox be paying for him since their leverage seems limited, and how much does this reflect on the Yankees luck with a steady and durable Jeter in comparison?
Marc Normandin: I don't think the Sox will be paying a premium. Even if he's going to be good, he's still Marco Scutaro.
As for part two, the Red Sox have won more World Series since Nomar was traded than the Yanks have with Jeter during the same time period. That doesn't really mean anything, I just wanted to say it, so please no Jeter Defense Force reactions, thanks.
stewbies (rochester): should boston give up bucholz and kelly to get Josh Johnson? What if Boston could empty their system to get both JJ and Hanley?
Marc Normandin: That second part is so tempting. I kind of want to call the people I know in the Sox front office and just start badgering them until they agree to consider it, even if they are just trying to shut me up so they can get off the phone and go back to reality.
Tom Waits (San Diego): Padres. Kouzmanoff or Headley?
Marc Normandin: I've actually been running over this question in my head the last week or so, as I think about where the Padres are heading in 2010 and as I try to find a suitable replacement for my now retired Brian Giles Padres t-shirt.
If you could promise me that Headley would field well at third base, I might consider moving Kouzmanoff if there's a market for him. Kouzy is a pretty good glove at third though, and both guys have their question marks at the plate on occasion, meaning that I would prefer the guy with the glove to the guy without one, all other things being equal.
dantroy (davis): Do you play a variety of fantasy/roto formats, or do you have strong preferences for how a league is set up? I'm quite excited to be trying Scoresheet this year.
Marc Normandin: I try to play one head-to-head with my friends and one roto league with strangers every year. I think we might be turning my head-to-head league into a keeper one so people stop losing interest. I should probably figure that out soon, especially because I want to get back into playing keeper baseball.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Is Ian Desmond good enough to be the starting SS for the Nats? Or should they be looking for a short term fill-in?
Marc Normandin: Word on the street (which in part I think I heard from you, actually) is that he can field very well, and though it goes without saying he won't slug .561 in 2010 if he plays everyday, as long as he's passable at the plate and can field he's a valuable SS.
Tom Waits (San Diego): Clearly, you replace the Brian Giles t-shirt with a Kyle Blanks jersey, which doubles as an emergency shelter for you and 3 friends.
Are you labeling Kouz as a pretty good glove based on 2009? Not just a fluke?
Marc Normandin: He's been average or above each year of his career according to both UZR and FRAA, so I'm basing that on more than just 2009.
The problem is that MLB.com just offers those lame custom name jerseys, so I can't get a Blanks or Venable one without it being something that will fall apart in two months. I need to get someone in San Diego to buy me one at the ballpark and ship it to me. Or call MLB.com since I can't find what I want on the website.
In related news, I bought a new Red Sox hat (Cooperstown '75 franchise cap!) in spring of 2004 and another new one in spring of 2007. I think I'll be picking up a Padres hat ('69 franchise cap) as a replacement for that one, so hopefully that means the Padres will be competitive again. Who says stat analysts can't be superstitious
jake29 (Corning, NY): Which 2 out of the following 3 do I keep? Vanilla Yahoo H2H keeper league. Victorino, Werth or Adam Jones.
Marc Normandin: I would probably keep Werth and Jones, though if you can explore a trade option prior and see what you can get back in terms of draft picks or anything like that (if it's even an option in your league) I would, because all three are serious picks.
Jack (Chicago): Please explain the Cubs refusal to offer arbitration to Rich Harden considering their huge hole at the backend of their rotation?
Marc Normandin: I tried to imagine what it was the Cubs were thinking when they did this, but then something in my head popped and fizzled, and I forgot where I was and what I was doing. I don't think I'm going to be able to answer this question without causing long-term damage.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Any chance we could see more of you in the annual next spring? Not less of anyone else, just more of you, too. Thank you.
Marc Normandin: While I appreciate that, and I do have a role in this year's annual, I'm working on some other things that I'm not quite ready to talk about yet. I'm pretty sure (or at least I hope) that you and others will be interested when the time comes though.
David (Sonoma State University, CA): In response to: "Will a 3 or 4 year old like the Wii? (Her Daddy hasn't played a video game since IntelliVision, FWIW.)" My niece is three, turning four next week. She loves the Wii. For the most part, based on the game, she knows what to do and likes feeling like she belongs to the group when we play. The only problem is that she often loses interest LONG before the competitive adults have.
Marc Normandin: There you go. Thanks for picking up the slack, David.
brian (Tinley): What is a good computer game for an 8 yr old that is really starting to get into baseball? I think a game like Diamond Mind might be a bit too advanced for him at this time. Any thoughts?
Marc Normandin: I don't do much with baseball games on a computer anymore, as I play two series on consoles: MLB The Show and MLB Power Pros. The former is super realistic and in-depth, the second is super arcade-y and in-depth. I think an 8 year old could enjoy them plenty if they are just getting into baseball though.
MarkakisFan (Baltimore, MD): How do feel about the rumors about the Orioles being interested in Bedard, Harden, or Sheets? All three have had a history of injuries, but would they make sense for such a young and unproven rotation?
Marc Normandin: If the price is right (and you don't miss out on draft picks because of it) I wouldn't mind seeing them pick one up and try to right their ship, if for no other reason than they can flip them to a contender if things go south or when another young hurler is ready to step into the rotation.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Anyone make your Do-Not-Draft list becaue of 2009? I'm thinking of slapping Chipper there, as well as Alexei.
Marc Normandin: I really can't quit Chipper Jones, but I'm going to try to have to restrain myself this spring. I always always always end up with him. I haven't formulated the list yet, but I will probably also have to avoid Brian Giles. My poor cat will be so ashamed of me for abandoning his namesake like that.
Mike (Utica,NY): Best career out of these players: Hanson, McCutchen, Rasmus, Beckham, Andrus, Price, or Coghlan?
Marc Normandin: McCutchen and Andrus will quietly excel. Hanson, Price and Beckham may get more press, but they are all pretty good too. I'm still not sure what Rasmus will ultimately become, and I like Coghlan less than the BBWAA.
stewbies (rochester): Is Jered Weaver an ace in the making?
Marc Normandin: I don't think he keeps the ball in the park enough for someone with his strikeout rates, but he's definitely a 1A kind of guy if nothing else. He'll certainly do for a rotation topper, but I'm not sure he fits into that "ace" category.
Nate (SC): Can I consider CF locked up longterm with Dexter Fowler there, or should I be looking for better in a 12 team mixed keeper?
Marc Normandin: There's a lot to choose from in center, so I think you could probably do better than that given it's a mixed league. I like Fowler a lot, but center is loaded.
Patton1941 (NYC): I'm thinking of getting an XBOX 360, PS3 or Wii for the holidays: what are the strengths and weaknesses of each
Marc Normandin: Oh boy.
Xbox 360 has a deep back catalog, maybe a little deeper than the PS3, but it's exclusives are weaker and weakening, and the fact that the wireless is not built in means you need to pay $400 for the console rather than the advertised $300. Xbox Live is worth the $50 price tag, but it does cost $50. Also, charge stations for controllers cost money, so that's more to spend in the future on accessories.
The Wii can be had for $200, but you will spend more on controllers to knock it closer to the 360/PS3 price range if you want to play to the system's strength, which is living room multiplayer. The game library is much deeper than people realize, thanks to a string of underrated, undersold and more arty concept titles that haven't made it to the big budget HD systems. Virtual Console means that you can download loads of classic titles, which for a retro gaming junkie like me is huge points.
The PS3 costs $300 now and has a blu-ray player, as well as streaming Netflix like the 360. That makes it the entertainment center of choice, and the growing library of strong exclusives also makes it a great choice for gaming. Online play is free, wireless is built in.
You can't go wrong with any of them honestly. I have all three and I go through stretches where I play one more than the other two, but it always evens out in the end.
Mike (Utica,NY): So you think McCutchen and Andrus could be perennial All Star players and what's the upside on McCutchen?
Marc Normandin: I don't know if McCutchen will ever be much better than he is right now offensively, at least in terms of having a big jump in production or not. I think he'll be a little better than this, but he'll be consistently productive, hence the "quiet" portion for my last question.
Wade (Mass): Why shouldn't the Yanks overpay Scutaro to be their utility just to do harm to the Sox? Scutaro gets to play all over the field, get overpaid (say $4-5 a year), and the chance at a ring. If you noticed a team without a 2B going into the end of your draft next year, you'd surely take Kendrick and Weeks before he could. I know I would.
Marc Normandin: Because it's Marco Scutaro, and they have their own needs they need to fill. I'm not saying the Sox/Yanks never purposely pluck players from the others clutches just to be that way, but I think the Yanks have their own things to consider before they start messing with Boston's plans.
paulbellows (Calgary): In 2012 Joe Mauer will be playing __ for the ___ ?
Marc Normandin: Catcher, Twins. I think Minnesota will finally pay up for someone, especially after the eh return on Santana.
JOESAV (N.Y.): Who do you think should be the Tigers top free agent signing?----Matsui
Marc Normandin: I still haven't figured out what it is the Tigers are doing for 2010. Their name keeps popping up in all of these trade rumors with them unloading players, which doesn't make a ton of sense given how awful their division is. I think I'll have to wait and see on this one. Sorry to go all Joe Morgan with a non-answer for you on this one.
rma111 (los angeles): Any thoughts on Chad Billingsley for 2010 ? He fizzled pretty badly in the 2nd half but Dodgers will need him to rebound this yr if they want to contend again..
Marc Normandin: My expectations for him haven't changed much, though if the lofty homer rate continues I'll probably change my tune. I'm curious to see how the first half of 2010 goes for Billingsley.
Mike (Utica,NY): Could you see Hanson having a Lincecum type year next year with the Braves or is he going to end up being the next Millwood?
Marc Normandin: I like Hanson, but a "Lincecum type year" would mean "Best pitcher in baseball". I'm not quite ready to anoint him as thus, and not just because that Lincecum guy still exists.
David (Sonoma State University, CA): I understand that XBOX Live is worth the $50, but it is that much better than Playstation Network to warrant paying $50 bucks over paying absolutely nothing?
Marc Normandin: Depends on the game honestly. Xbox Live consistently works for me and for any game I use on it, whereas occasionally the Playstation Network can lag a bit and sometimes ruin the experience. It's not a straight "you get what you pay for" situation, but Xbox Live is the superior online offering, which is why people continue to pay for it. $50 is also a drop in the bucket if you think about it, considering how much money people who buy games spend in a year anyways. If you know you will use it, it's worth it.
Dennis (LA): Hi Marc, thanks for the chat and your great work. Arte Moreno has basically said the Angels have $12-13 million to spend this winter. I'm assuming Lackey and Figgins won't be coming back. I'm hoping that they sign a SP with upside like Harden or Duchscherer and a productive bat who won't break the bank like Thome or Nick Johnson. What would you do with the $12-13 million if you were Tony Reagins?
Marc Normandin: Thanks! I appreciate that. The rotation is definitely the area that needs work, so I'm with you on finding as many options as I can squeeze in to make it work. Another bat would help too--at least they re-signed Abreu already, though maybe he should move to DH and they should find an outfielder instead.
Tom (Brooklyn, NY): Did you play MadWorld on Wii? If so, what did you think about it?
Marc Normandin: I did play it! I loved it. My one gripe was that it was very short, but now that the price has dropped to $20-30, that's not as big of a hurdle. If you haven't played it, I would grab it.
Rob (Andover, CT): A non-Holliday plan for the Yanks:
Cameron for LF
Matsui, Johnson or Thome for DH (whichever will take the 1-year deal for reasonable money)
Bring back Pettitte and sign Sheets (backup: Harden) for more rotation depth. Somebody will get hurt.
This leaves room for mid-season upgrading if needed/available, and requires no long-term contracts.
Marc Normandin: I might want to keep Cameron in center, since moving to a corner hurts his offensive value, but the idea of Thome in that homer haven is making me nauseous as a Boston fan. It's a solid non-Holliday plan.
paulbellows (Calgary): Biggest name traded this offseason will be ___? (non Halladay division)
Marc Normandin: Good question. I'll say Adrian Gonzalez, though I'm still not sure if the Padres are serious about that.
stewbies (rochester): It would never happen, but what about Posey and Bumgarner for Mauer? Despite the PR hit, wouldn't that be a good move for the Twins?
Marc Normandin: Assuming he's healthy, Mauer's good for 6-8 wins, right? Posey and Bumgarner would have a lot of value to the Twins due to their salaries versus Mauer's, given their financial limitations, but then it would also take two roster spots to make up for Mauer's production. It's definitely not as bad as the PR would lead you to believe, as you say, but I would have to think about it and make sure the Twins would fill their other holes accordingly.
SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): What do you think of Sin Soo Choo? Can he improve upon last years performance? Is last years performance even sustainable?
Marc Normandin: Shin-Soo Choo is pretty great. I don't think he needs to improve on last year, given he's a legit line drive hitter with some power, on-base skills, great baserunning skills and the ability to play at least average defense. Can you believe that he was acquired for Ben Broussard?
Rob (Alaska): What do you think the real market for Chone Figgins is? Lots of rumored interest, but I wonder if he doesn't return to the Angels for less than he hoped. And if so, what's Brandon Wood in that scenario? Halladay fodder?
Marc Normandin: I'm starting to think Brandon Wood isn't real. I don't mean that his production isn't real, but that he does not actually exist. I keep hearing things about him, and I see his numbers, but I don't think I've had a Brandon Wood sighting in the wild that I remember. I think the Internet made him up to generate blog traffic.
BR (NYC): What do you predict Justin Upton's average draft position will be in next spring's fantasy drafts? Going into his age-22 season, is it reasonable to expect him to put it all together after last year's ups and downs?
Marc Normandin: Not quite sure on draft position yet, as I'm still ironing out all of that stuff in my head, but I'm with you on thinking that this will be the year where people realize holy crap, Justin Upton is awesome.
SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): Marc Normandin: Shin-Soo Choo is pretty great. I don't think he needs to improve on last year, given he's a legit line drive hitter with some power, on-base skills, great baserunning skills and the ability to play at least average defense. Can you believe that he was acquired for Ben Broussard?
God Bless Seattle :)
Marc Normandin: It's funny, because he's the kind of player the current Seattle front office would drool over.
I have to wrap things up folks, as I have to finish some baseball-related things I was working on that made me late for the chat in the first place.
Nate (Philadelphia): As a Red Sox fan, would you have any interest whatsoever in Ryan Theriot for SS? Not that I think the Cubs are wanting to trade him, but they've told him they want him to move to 2B to make room for Starlin Castro. Now might be a time to get something for him; he's posted positive UZR/150 at SS for 2 years now, and can get on base at a decent clip.
Marc Normandin: If that were on the table I would explore it. Theriot's better than he looks because shortstop is really just awful league wide.
Jack (TB): What does the future hold for Sean Rodriguez in Tampa?
Marc Normandin: Tough for me to answer that, given the Rays aren't even sure where he's going to play yet. He could fill the old Ben Zobrist role if they keep Z at second base, but with Aki gone maybe he gets to play second if Zobrist moves to the outfield permanently. Either way, I think he'll be productive in his role.
Marc Normandin: Sorry again about being an hour late, but I stuck around for the same amount of time anyways to make it up to you! I have to get back to writing things you won't ready for another three months, but I hope everyone had a great start to the holiday season. If I didn't answer any of your questions, be they sports or video game shopping related, feel free to drop me an e-mail or find me via Twitter.