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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday December 15, 2009 2:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.

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Fresh from her first time at baseball's Winter Meetings, Christina Kahrl takes your questions on the contracts inked and the trades made.

Christina Kahrl: Howdy folks, sorry for the delay, but there's writing to be done on the moves getting made (as well as this big ol' book to work on), and paid content comes ahead of chat on the list of priorities. That said, let's talk some baseball...

Drew W (NoVA): Please help me understand: the A's finally got out from under the Bobby Crosby contract, only to take on Aaron Miles?? Any chance Miles can be a useful bench player?

Christina Kahrl: No. Wow, I feel like Calvin Coolidge or something, except that I just that I feel like Calvin Coolidge or something.

Ryan (Utica): How good or bad should A's fans feel about Cliff Pennington at short in 2010?

Christina Kahrl: OK, a more substantive A's question. ;) I'm happy to see Pennington get a chance, because it's clear he doesn't have much left to learn in Sacramento, but guess I worry about what it'll mean for the A's pitching staff, given that the expectation's always been that he makes a better second baseman than a shortstop. His arm's pretty good, but scouty comments about his range don't jibe with some of the statistical metrics (Plus/Minus in particular). Still, it isn't like we're talking about Luis Hernandez.

Alan (Cerritos): Hi Christina, what do you see happening with Chien Ming Wang? The Taiwanese news stations went berzerko when the Yankees didn't offer him a contract.

Christina Kahrl: Maybe that's a status thing, which plays differently in different societies, but between a relatively full-up rotation and the money he stood to make in arbitration, it seems relatively obvious the Yankees made the right call. That said, I'm sure Taiwan's news media needs ratings like everyone else, and Taiwan's answer to William Randolph Hearst is acting entirely appropriately to this as a business proposition. I'm more curious to see where he'll land, because with the right venue, infield, and pitching coach, things could turn out very nicely for him.

paulbellows (Calgary): A rotation of Harden, Feldman, McCarthy, Harrison, Holland, etc. doesn't look great to me. Should be an interesting division.

Christina Kahrl: Indeed, it's all upside-risk, which like a souffle could leave you with something wonderful, or a thorough mess. With the Mariners seemingly playing for higher and higher stakes, I'm becoming more and more sure the Rangers will find themselves leap-frogged in the race to unseat the Angels.

Matt A (Raleigh): I've got two finals today, and I doubt either will go particularly well. How about some good news about Atlanta's off-season outlook to cheer me up?

Christina Kahrl: Hope, thy name is Heyward. And who's to say they don't get something tasty for one of the starting pitchers they're hoping to peddle? I expect that, after this three-way deal happens (or doesn't), and now that Lackey's off the market, Frank Wren's in a better situation to sort out who his prospective dance partners might be.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): Long time, CK. Can Jake Fox fake it enough to play 3B, or he essentially the everyday DH next year?

Christina Kahrl: I'm expecting he's more a DH than a third baseman, especially now that Cust's fallen into the "Somebody Else's Problem" field.

PSIllini (Columbus, OH): Lackey to the Red Sox? I don't get it. Does this mean that Boston is going to try and trade some of its young pitching (Bowden, Tazawa, etc.) for a Cabrera or Gonzalez?

Christina Kahrl: Maybe, but I think I like Joe's suggestion, that in this market, it means they might peddle from among their stock in veteran starters. Admittedly, that puts them up against the Braves, who are equally motivated to do something about their overstock, but Bowden and Tazawa have options (and could use time in Pawtucket), and it isn't like Tim Wakefield's retired just yet. The Sox could deal from among their new front five. Beckett's the logical guy to flip, although they cold also sell low on Dice-K to keep that fifth slot to Wakefield plus Bowden.

Justin (Normal, IL): Juan Pierre to the White Sox huh? I really have to ask why, and further, how bad of an off season have the White Sox had? Lastly, Pierre or Podzilla? Both suck but it begs the question.

Christina Kahrl: Talk about trying to lower standards in the game's low-standards division. Maybe this is a sop to Ozzie to let him play Ozzieball with one spot on the roster, but $10.5 million for Pierre plus the commitment to then stick Rios in right... yeah, I'm not wild about it. We know he won't get on base. We know he'll still bases at a merely adequate rate of success. We know he's uniquely unqualified to take advantage of hitting in the Cell. What we don't know is how much defensive value he has as an everday center fielder, because he's got, what, 200 innings or so there over the last two seasons. He was an asset there for the Cubs in 2006 and for the Dodgers in 2007, but is it enough to put up with the rest, and when that means you're also stuck with Rios's offensive contributions in right? It may not cost them the division, but it won't do all that much to help them win it either. The question of the expense is, for me, more a matter of what they don't get to spend it on. Here's hoping they do still at least get a DH on a one-year deal to help produce baserunners and boppery.

hotstatrat (Toronto): Thanks for steering me towards the Brazilian Girls. My taste is eclectic. For great blues-pop, I'll nominate a Canadian: Colin James. Listen to the Limelight CD. He has a Christmas CD that rocks, too. For wonderful acoustical tracks, try Israel's Oren Lavie. Who else stirs you emotions?

Christina Kahrl: Delighted to hear you enjoy them, they're definitely among my current favorite fallbacks, along with the Flaming Lips and theSTART. OTOH, Christmas and "rocks"... hrm. That's a concept I'm unfamiliar with. Of course, I may still have a recording of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" around here somewhere, which is more along the lines of what works with the season. And a few free-agency shopping lists, come to think of it.

garethbluejays1 (Newcastle, Uk): More likely - Aliens land on Earth and make Tom Cruise President or BlueJays get rid of Vernon Wells before the end of his contract?

Christina Kahrl: Well, as easy as it would be to pick the aliens, I'm taking the latter, if only because there might be somebody who takes on some fraction of the end of the deal, and there's always the possibility the Jays just cut him in the last year and let someone else employ him for the minimum.

DavidK44 (NYC): Liking the reported swap of Brett Wallace for Taylor

Christina Kahrl: Awaiting the outcome, but intrigued. On the other hand, I'd wonder if this wouldn't make Wallace the new CarGo or Carlos Pena, and a lock as a future star once he's in somebody else's organization.

Kdub83 (Milwaukee): CK, I've heard nothing about Felipe Lopez this off-season, any rumors that were floating around the meetings or ideas where he might end up? Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: None that I heard, but here I think F-Lop has long since earned a reputation for unreliable performance. If you're in the market for second basemen, there are better options. He'll wind up somewhere, but it's sort of like winding up with the fifth choice on your dance card because you don't want to be a wallflower. He's just not all that, one full productive season in the books or no.

mharrop (toronto): i know it's conjecture at this point, Christina, but give us your transaction analysis preview of the Halladay/Lee deal...

Christina Kahrl: I'm a little mystified by the Phillies' desire to make this into a three-way deal, bemused by what we're supposed to take from Halladay's apparent willingness to take a three-year extension, impressed by the Mariners, and hopeful for the Blue Jays. We'll see how this really unfolds, but I guess I'm delighted by the prospect of huge three-way deals in consecutive weeks, because it's an indication that the current cast of 30 actors may have sorted things out enough that the 'paralysis by analysis' phenomenon's finally passing.

Jerrod34 (Pittsburgh): Christina, Give the Pirates' fans some hope, what's to look forward to next season. I know Jones played above his head, but do you think he's a guy that can provide 25+hr's and a .280 average in the middle of the lineup?

Christina Kahrl: Yes, he could. It might take 600 PAs, and his OBP might be .310, but I could definitely see him doing those things.

Walter (Tampa Bay): Which BJ Upton do you think we see in 2010? I say this is the breakout where the glimpses of greatness far outweigh the stretches of inconsistency - thoughts?

Christina Kahrl: Talk about one of the most maddening players in the game today. If you had to pick between Upton, Chris B. Young, and Delmon Young, I might still pick Upton as the most frustrating, not just because he's been frustrating for longer, but because of those same flashes of greatness and the expectation that there's a big corner that, once turned, will give us one of the game's best stars. At this point, he's not even Darryl Strawberry or Darin Erstad, former standards of high expectations not meeting actual performance as often as we might have liked. Which is the problem--if he "only" gets back to his 2008 level of production, people will keep anticipating more, when that's very good. That said, he's only just heading into his age-25 season, so I think there are more years like 2007 in him. I just don't expect it to be flipped on, like a switch.

russadams (Baffin Bay): Assuming the Twins go with Nick Punto at one spot, who would be a good fit for the Twins at either 2B or 3B?

Christina Kahrl: I keep hoping they'll think in terms of adding offense at third base, and letting Punto do his thing at second (in part because he could then lose the job to Casilla if he ever pans out). If money were an issue, I'd still be interested in seeing if Tejada would take a low deal, or seeing what Troy Glaus is capable of on an incentive-laden deal.

LindInMoskva (DC): Biggest day in strat, the day the defensive ratings come out. With implications for strat players everywhere, and one of the most argued aspects of the game, I am surprised that BP doesn't even mention it. How can you love sabremetrics and not play strat?

Christina Kahrl: Ah, those were the days, when I was in a face-to-face league. I sort of blew an invitation from a great group of guys to participate in their league in 2008, but part of the problem to my way of thinking is that I hate auto-managers of any stripe--I miss rolling the dice, dealing with an opponent directly, and adapting tactics to circumstance. The idiosyncrasies of how Strat integrates so many factors in their defensive ratings was always delightful and exasperating, all at once. I remember one replay league we did with the 1978 card set, making our first 10 or 15 picks *without seeing the cards*, as if we were GMs of the period, using just the simple stats available to us. (This was in 1991 or '92, pre-internet.) Naturally, I wasn't happy to discover Craig Reynolds was a 4e33 at short, so that part of my mast plan wasn't going to turn out well. And the guy who picked Leon Roberts definitely didn't like what came out of the wrapping. Fun stuff.

matuszek (Baltimore): Alex Rios and now Juan Pierre? Who's advising the White Sox, Neel Kashkari?

Christina Kahrl: Chuck Tanner? Steve Boros? It's kooky, but then we're in a situation where we're debating the merits of Juan Pierre at $5 million plus versus a non-answer like Podzilla for under $2 million. Picking the former's the better answer if you start with the assumption neither's an offensive asset, since Podsednik's not a CF any more, but for that much? Why not check out Coco Crisp or Endy Chavez?

Andrew (Ohio): Where do you come out on Mauer's power? Most seem to think it's what scouts have long promised. But the hit charts suggest a whole lot of luck. What say you?

Christina Kahrl: I talked about this briefly in today's TA, but for all of the mania for BABIP and line-drive percentages, as important as those things are, it's important to recognize that "regression to the mean" affects different players with different skills differently. You'll find a lot of speed players with BABIPs reliably above the league average; it's not rocket science, understanding why. Mauer's underlying ability, the things that scouts talk about, suggest he can sustain a BABIP a lot higher than average. What's more difficult to sort out is whether his jump in homers to fly balls is an indication of a newly achieved level of development, or "luck." When talking about a player as good as Mauer is, I think calling it "luck" when he's in the heart of his prime is a bit silly.

ElAngelo (New York, NY): If you're the Nationals, should you be pursuing pure lottery tickets like Sheets and Bedard? (Assuming they have interest in going there, but you could probably outbid anyone else who'd be interested when your payroll is relatively low.)

Christina Kahrl: Yes, if it's a one-year deal, and you're also certain you can make the deal that puts either one on a contender at the end of July. Otherwise, it's just doing stuff to keep yourself busy, like gardening, only more expensive.

Jack (Chicago): Do you think every other fanbase is jealous of the lone Cubs off-season acquisition - Jeff Gray? I would be...

Christina Kahrl: Making Milton Bradley go away is a big enterprise, especially when it's obvious everyone's expecting him to be just given away, lest the Cubs actually have to climb down and use the man next spring. Which would be great drama, but we'll see.

Drew W (NoVA): Will Nolan Ryan "cure" injury-prone Rich Harden by having him throw more? If Harden does throw more than 200 innings, is Ryan a genius?

Christina Kahrl: Ryan? You meant to say "Mike Maddux," and the answer to whether or not he's a genius is perhaps better answered by saying an exceptional technician is worth his weight in gold, which is why the Rangers filched him from the Brewers in the first place.

Carl (Church): It gives me no greater pleasure to watch the Mets and their fans suffer but what are they doing? I thought they would be more proactive up to this point. Is there more fianancial trouble going on than they are letting on?

Christina Kahrl: It's worth wondering about, isn't it? Because it certainly has been a silent stretch from the Mets, and they do still have so very many needs if they want to reinvite themselves to the same parties the Phillies are at, and the Braves keep trying to crash.

karp62 (NY): Christina, there are a lot of Pirates fans that are furious over the non-tendering of Matt Capps. While I am not certain he would be worth the $3.5-4M he would receive in arby, I'm wondering if it wasn't worth the risk to accept the arby price tag, hope that he returns to form and then deal him at or before the deadline. Did Huntington screw up, or is there more to this decision than meets the eye?

Christina Kahrl: Capps really was pretty terrible last season, and at that price, there are usually better buys on the market. If you're holding onto a bounce-back possibility, he's hefty, he's had shoulder issues, and he's two years removed from 2007. Is he going to grow up to be one of the best relievers in the game? That seems unlikely. To put it another way, why pay that for Capps when J.J. Putz signed for less as a free agent?

Frustrated Sox Fan (Chicago): Just got the news from the Sox that they have the #1 and #2 active bunt hit leaders. Got to get a game plan to watch that...

Christina Kahrl: I think that's sort of funny, if only because it makes me think about how we admire those who can do things we cannot. For a guy who tried to bunt a lot as a hitter during his playing days, Ozzie was never really a very effective bunter.

Phil S. (NJ): Still a believer in Ben Sheets? Where do you think he'll wind up?

Christina Kahrl: Absolutely, I'd rather put my money on Ben Sheets and a "maybe he's still that good" than Joel Pineiro and a "maybe he thrives away from Dave Duncan." But after the time away, I wonder if he wouldn't like to be on a contender. I could see him landing with the Dodgers on an incentive-laden deal after they clear up some of their arbitration issues and get a better sense of their own freedom of action. The Mets might be a similar sort of suitor. If he elects to change leagues, maybe Anaheim.

mattymatty2000 (Philly, PA): Thanks for the chat, Christina. You are one of the reasons I just re-upped my subscription for another year. Are you of the opinion, like your colleague Mr. Sheehan, that the Red Sox signing of John Lackey is a precursor to a trade for some offensive centerpiece? If possible please include at least one reference to a historical event over 200 years old in your answer. Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: Thanks for your support mattymatty, definitely appreciated. I have to think that there's every reason to believe they'll deal pitching for offense, in part because the pitchers out there now seem attached to various risks (Sheets, Bedard, Smoltz, Wang, Washburn) or because they're just not seen as tremendous front-end types (Marquis, Pineiro, Washburn, Wang). If you decide the bids on Jason Bay are too rich for your blood, and you want to go after a better bat at either infield corner and maybe left (if the Mike Cameron thing doesn't work out), my sense is that the only better bargaining chip to have beyond well-regarded starters would be a shortstop prospect.

cjbuet (madison, wi): What kind of season do you see B. Anderson having? His stuff last year was dominating at times.

Christina Kahrl: While the cumulative tally wasn't an impressive as, say, fellow rookies like Romero or Niemann, the upside's just so much higher that I think we can look forward to a step forward in year two.

Dying2Know (La la land): Do the Dodgers try and re-sign O-dawg or let him walk?

Christina Kahrl: It seems that relationship's irreparably breached, which is why talking about Blake DeWitt might not be just bold talk. I could see them bringing back September favorite Ronnie Belliard on a low-end deal and using both at the keystone, subbing for Blake, and maybe shuffle things around enough now and again to give James Loney's slack bat a break by using Blake at first.

russadams (Baffin Bay): At this point, Jason Pridie is the Twins' extra outfielder. If they sign someone, who would be a good fit? I'm hoping it's not Darin Erstad, who has Gardenhire written all over him.

Christina Kahrl: I'd be more afraid of Podsednik (on a self-avenging deal aimed at his former employers, a la Joe Crede), or Reed Johnson as a right-handed bat they could use all three outfield positions, and an overly imaginative reputation for speed and value in center.

Jim (Chicago): Wouldn't keeping Rios in center, while moving Quentin to right and putting Pierre in left make the most sense as far as defensive alignment? What makes the most sense for the Sox as far as cheap DH options are concerned? Vlad? Cust? Thome?

Christina Kahrl: I've been a broken record on the subject of bringing Thome back, so I hope that still can happen, but we'll see. As to the first point, I'd suggest we just don't know. Rios had some metrics in his favor as a CF in 2008, and not so much in 2009. Pierre has 2006 and 2007's numbers to point to as a good-gloved everyday CF, and the reputation--which may not matter to you or I, but matters to the people involved. Quentin... well, here again, while he used to be a right fielder and seems to have the arm for the position, I think everyone also wants to see him recovered fully from last year's knee problems. Given the variables, I can see the Sox leaving things be heading into camp.

Nick Carter (London, UK): How available is Miguel Cabrera and what haul would he need to bring back? Seems to me that due to the money involved, teams will only really give up 2, to use Kevin Goldstein's rating system, 4 star players. Is that accurate?

Christina Kahrl: Between his coming down a peg in terms of stardom, his personal embarrassment at the tail end of last season, and the expense of employing him, I don't see a lot of teams getting in on him, were the Tigers even shopping him around. A lot of what's going on with the Tigers for 2010 seems to be about enduring/making the most of the last year of the current deals with Bonderman, Willis, Robertson, Ordonez, and Inge, and then turning the page.

David (Boston): Thanks for the chat Christina. Which, if any, of the nontendered players has a breakout (2003 Ortiz esque) season?

Christina Kahrl: Not a problem David, happy to be here, as ever. Hrm... it's slim pickings, in that there isn't "that" guy. It's important to remember what a huge mistake non-tendering Ortiz was *at the time*, before Boston.

Jamey (Los Angeles): I'm curious if BP writers and editors look at the website with ads on it. The pop-up ads, expanding flash ads, and animated ads just keep getting more annoying. On top of that, today I'm seeing 15-30 second waits for the ads whenever I go to a BP page. Bluntly, the user experience of the ads is awful and getting worse.

Christina Kahrl: We do, and we haven't liked it much either. Happily, everyone's ad experience here will change on January 1.

Tim Barta (Dallas, Texas): I read previously in this chat that Brandon Mccarthy among others was in the rotation next year when in reality Neftali Feliz and/or C.J. Wilson will be included in the Rangers rotation next year. Am I right or wrong? and won't this make their rotation at least on par with the other teams in the division? Thanks

Christina Kahrl: They're considering Wilson, and we'll see if it takes; more often than not, they get explored, discussed, maybe even tried out in spring, and then they don't happen in the real season. They might have enough viable candidates that Feliz-as-reliever makes sense as well. The key to my way of thinking is as I said on Saturday is that they have eight plausible starting pitchers, McCarthy, Feliz, and Wilson among them.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Last season Brad Bergesen succeeded in his first major league season despite a low strikeout rate. One of your writers (I think it was Sheehan) cited the low strikeout rate as a reason to believe that Bergesen will decline this season. Do you agree with this writer's analysis?

Christina Kahrl: I do, but that doesn't mean I think Bergesen can't be an asset at the back end of a rotation, especially one that might wind up as jam-packed with talent as the Orioles' figures to be over the next several seasons. I'd like his lot to Walt Terrell's coming up with the Mets in the mid-'80s: no, he's not Doc Gooden or Ron Darling or Sid Fernandez, but yes, he can pitch in this league.

Scoresheetwiz (the big city on Lake Ontario): Elijah Dukes confounds scouting and statistical analysis. Can you spot what he'll do this coming season in your crystal ball?

Christina Kahrl: Not wind up on the Cubs, although they could use him.

JZirinsky (Washington, DC): Hi Christina! Hope the dingo is doing well. Do you like the "floating DH" idea that the Yankees are playing around with (i.e. an effort to use the DH spot to rest older regulars like Posada, A-Rod, etc.)? I think it's easier to find a regular DH than it is to find capable backups for those guys I just mentioned. Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: The dingo's adapting to life with a cat in the house, and has a full-blown case of Snoopy syndrome (equal measures of fear and curiosity, despite enormous advantages in size, speed, and teeth). As for the Bombers, I do like it, which is why in part I also like the idea of their keeping Damon (at two year) as someone they could rotate to left field as needed to be part of that rotation.

dantroy (davis): "Between his coming down a peg in terms of stardom, his personal embarrassment at the tail end of last season, and the expense of employing him, I don't see a lot of teams getting in on him" So, he's a future Met, basically?

Christina Kahrl: Seems like a natural fit. What would be next, bleach or cherry bombs?

Jimmy (Brooklyn): Does Wang end up in Boston? If they sign Beltre, they'll have the infield for him, they love their reclamation projects, and they might get to stick it to the Yankees a little bit. What's the risk?

Christina Kahrl: If there's one place Wang doesn't wind up, I expect it's Boston, not just because the rotation's already packed, but because I wouldn't want to take my chances with the left side of that infield if I'm a ground-ball pitcher trying to rebound.

TGisriel (Baltimore): If you were the Orioles, what would you need to get to trade Pie, or would you plan to simply hold onto him?

Christina Kahrl: I'd try for an under-control bat for the infield corners who can help for the next 2-4 years, or a similarly down-on-his-luck shortstop prospect in an exchange of up-the-middle talents. The Orioles can afford to be picky, because the number of good, ready-now center field types is low.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Ms. Kahrl, would you kindly hazard a guess why the Jays would trade Taylor (a defensive RF, an important distinction) for Wallace? I assume you're thrilled as an A's fan. I'm rather unimpressed as a Jays fan. Thank you.

Christina Kahrl: I am indeed, as well as for what this must mean about Chris Carter's immediate future, since a roster with Chavez and Fox available for third base absent Wallace should mean Carter's shot is a little less complicated. It might make me feel better about losing CarGo in the Holliday deal, certainly, but after seeing CarGo and Carlos Pena go elsewhere and thrive, I guess I'm left wondering if the A's will tire of Taylor inside of two years of getting him, and flip him for some 28-year-old merely-good player on the tail end of a contract.

jlewando (dc): I know you prefer to stick to commenting on done deals, but how about your opinion on Max Ramirez possibly moving to Bean Town?

Christina Kahrl: Definitely like it, especially if it puts Youkilis back at third and keeps them in the market for a real first baseman. Not Casey Kotchman; I said 'real.'

Christopher (Nashville): The Orioles are unwilling to trade Felix Pie straight up for Alberto Callaspo (and then convert him to third base). It sounds like a decent idea to me, but then again I don't have a transaction blog. Any thoughts?

Christina Kahrl: I like the idea, but nosing around the market to see if you can get more than that isn't a bad idea, and Callaspo's had some past problems. The pity is that the Royals don't have much to throw in besides arms, and the Orioles already have those, and better besides. But it would be a nice fix for KC, to have Pie in center.

Jimmy (Brooklyn): Follow up: Isn't a left side of Beltre and Scutaro a pretty great defensive infield? Isn't Youkilis/Pedroia/Scutaro/Beltre exactly the sort of infield for Wang?

Christina Kahrl: As I noted in the past, they deserve the benefit of the doubt with Scooter's value as a defender, but I'd rather go for some runs at first base and put Youkilis at third. And I really don't think he fits. Consider the spotty history of past injured/rehab cases--Smoltz was a disaster. Colon didn't work out the year before. If you struggle, they can't afford to wait and see, they're the Red Sox, and people go nuts at the slightest sign of struggle.

mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): "Christina, there are a lot of Pirates fans..." Trust me, there aren't.

Christina Kahrl: Heehee... point taken. But as someone who was given one of the yellow pillboxes by a big fan of all things Pittsburgh (my response was to give him a Maulers cap), there are a few.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Are the Orioles really looking for a long term third baseman, or just a bridge to Josh Bell?

Christina Kahrl: I think the multi-year picture on Bell's staying at third is up in the air enough that if you can find the right bat at either for that 2-4 year window, it's worth taking into consideration.

cjbuet (madison, wi): What does year 2 of D. Fowler bring? He seemed to flash a broad range of tools last year as a rookie. Is he a future All Star?

Christina Kahrl: He is, absolutely, and I expect things to get better for him, in part because it'll be his second year at altitude--don't forget, he skipped Colorado Springs.

uptick (St. Louis): Which ball park will Adrian Gonzalez call home next year? If it's not Petco, he could put up some awesome numbers, no?

Christina Kahrl: They'll be awesome anywhere. The thing I love about having him in Petco is that his contract's just $10.25 million over the next two years (or what's perhaps now best judged as, "less than the White Sox are paying Juan Pierre out of their own pockets"), and that fact's tremendously valuable in itself. You also get to offer him arbitration for 2012, and that wouldn't hurt you, either way, accepted or not. Maybe the Pads can't get to the playoffs in either of the next two seasons, but at that price, he very well could be part of it if they have a few other things work out. Taken together, the package you take to deal A-Gonz has to be a sox-knocker. It's up to Boston (or whoever) to make it so.

Phil (PA): What's stopping the Rangers from outbidding the Mariners for Lee?

Christina Kahrl: Money and an uncertain ownership situation. Your basic existential one-two of a franchise's life blood and whose blood, y'know, the little things. Plus the aforementioned octet of options already on hand.

Rob (Oakland): After prematurely signing Renteria last winter, Sabean is waitng the market out this time, right? Not just asleep at the wheel?

Christina Kahrl: Give the man a break (I know, I'm saying this, I really am), he made the right call on General Garko.

TheGreenMiles (Arlington, VA): Why no talk of the Red Sox installing Mike Cameron in Fenway's spacious RF and moving JD Drew to LF? Cameron's arm too weak?

Christina Kahrl: I guess this is where I put on Kevin Goldstein's kangol for a moment and remind people that players aren't Strat cards. Cameron's a tremendous center fielder; you can bet he expects to play center. And you want to ask J.D. Drew, the Meissen man, to go play under the Monster? It's neat to ponder, but I just don't see anyone making this pitch, let alone this sale.

JasonC23 (Huntley, IL): Christina, the White Sox are only paying Pierre $8 million ($3 this year, $5 next year). The Dodgers are picking up the rest.

Christina Kahrl: Witness the virtue of waiting to write up a deal on the basis of confirmed reports. ;) That's still not cause to do handstands, but it's certainly better. And give that structure, it doesn't preclude their having a few million to throw Jim Thome's way.

Sam Smith (Springfield, MO): Who cares about this Halladay-Lee crap? Philip Humber's now a Royal! Whoopee!

Christina Kahrl: I'd question your sense of proportion, except that I'm the chucklehead who's happy to see Marcus McBeth with the A's, or R.J. Swindle with the Rays.

Phil S. (NJ): They won't be wowing anyone with their gloves, but Lind-Snider-Wallace at the center of the Blue Jay lineup (with Wells hitting at the bottom, where he belongs) is an enticing proposition.

Christina Kahrl: It's certainly worth watching, and there's something to be said about being interesting and fighting for fourth place versus being dull and fighting for fourth place. Although sans Halladay, I think the Orioles just clinched fourth.

dcoonce (bloomington indiana): The Padres seem interested in Reed Johnson, and I can't for the life of me figure out why. It seems to me that they should be making serious inquiries on Felix Pie. Would a guy like Correia - just resigned to a reasonable deal for a fourth starter - be enough to get Pie? Too much?

Christina Kahrl: Pie would be cool, but the last thing the Orioles need is a veteran fourth starter. They already have Jeremy Guthrie, and he might be squeezed out of that rotation by 2011. Reed Johnson's sort of like baseball's answer to apple pie: everybody's supposed to love him. It doesn't matter if you prefer key lime or I preferred pecan (when I could eat pie), everyone's supposed to like the scrappy white guy whose speed is a function of how much sox he shows. No, I don't get it either.

TGisriel (Baltimore): With Buck Martinez leaving the O's and MASN to do play by play for the Blue Jays, have the Orioles finally found a role for Mike Flanagan in the MacPhail era?

Christina Kahrl: Oh, Tom, don't get me started on announcers. I was talking about how reading boxscores at dawn and listening to ballgames on the radio in the barn as I fed the animals was part of my fan-forming experience. I can gripe that today's announcers talk too much while saying too little, and that I miss the sounds of the crowd and the bat as part of the broadcast, but these days, silent announcers and ambient noise means listening to the snortling Jumbotron and frenzied in-game entertainment. Before I start yelling at kids to get off my lawn (the dingo usually scares them off as is), Flanagan's pleasant enough, and the real question--as suggested by Ken Funck a few months ago in his interview with a Foxian--is to sort what a modern broadcast ought to be and can be, not what it used to be, or what it's wound up as.

BL (Bozeman): Holiday reading selections? Baseball and non-baseball divisions, please.

Christina Kahrl: Hrm. I just finished Count Harry Kessler Berlin diaries, a must for anyone who loves the Weimar period, and something I'll be buying for someone who can use it. I've been slogging my way through "What Hath God Wrought," on America between 1815 and 1848. I'm hoping Santa or a relative TBD brings me the new Bernie Gunther mystery, Holger Herwig's new account of the Battle of the Marne, the new book by Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson, D'Antonio's "Forever Blue," and "Marcus Aurelius: A Life." I'm curious about people's takes on Bradley's book on the 1978 Red Sox vs. Yankees matchup, "The Greatest Game," because I've meant to pick that up for a while now.

Bob (Seattle): Angel Pagan? Will he continue his heavenly hitting into 2010 or will he bedevil me and sink back to earth?

Christina Kahrl: Jeepers, he'll be Angel Pagan. You might project heavenly production, but expect an earth-bound mummery characterized by sacrifices.

Jeff (San Diego): Does anyone trade for Kouzmanoff this offseaon?

Christina Kahrl: I think it's slim pickings, but a lot depends on how the remainder of the third base market shakes out. However, this does remind me of the Twins-related hot corner question earlier; this could work for that.

Lincoln (Dallas): With Lackey now in Boston and Halladay nearly joining him on the right coast, the market seems pretty bare of potential FOTR guys. Where does that leave a team like the LAofA Angles? Do they just have to go to battle with Kaz-Weaver-Saunders and hope Godzilla offsets the loss of Chone Figgins?

Christina Kahrl: If there's anyone who's lost ground this winter, it's the Angels of Anaheim. Godzilla isn't the answer, he's just a patch to keep their bid going while they come up with something bigger. While I speculated as far as Sheets, I think that's the kind of situation they're left with, mooting the virtues of a Sheets or a Bedard... or trying to swing a deal of their own to add one of the Braves' extras, for example. I guess I wouldn't hate the suggestion of their getting in on Pineiro is his expectations came down a bit.

Ira (North Texas): I've heard that Colby Lewis has returned from Japan. Think anyone picks him up?

Christina Kahrl: Maybe; it's not quite like my flying to Europe and telling the Bundesliga I'm available, after all. But he's 30, and he's gotten mauled in the majors. I'd take the suggestion made by Scott Atchison's similar return, and the barely-above-minimum deal that he got from Boston.

Christina Kahrl: With that, it's time for me to scram. Thanks to everyone for their questions, hope all of you are enjoying the holidays and--just as important--enjoying the Hot Stove League this winter.


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