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Chat: Tommy Bennett

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday January 26, 2010 2:00 PM ET chat session with Tommy Bennett.

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Join new BP columnist Tommy Bennett for his thoughts on winter activity and the season to come.

Tommy Bennett: I'm so glad you could join me for my first BP chat. Let's get started!

escapeNihlism (Ithaca, New York): what are the chances of Oliver Perez returning to 1-1.5 WAR respectability?

Tommy Bennett: For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (@tommy_bennett), I am a big facial hair booster. In that regard, I think this past offseason has done quite a bit to boost Ollie's value. More pragmatic considerations suggest greater caution, but I think one win ought to be in reach this year.

oira61 (San Francisco): I don't know who else to ask this, because I'm a baseball fan who only looks at the NFL occasionally at this time of year. Is the passer rating a legitimate, useful stat? It seems arcane, and nobody ever explains how it's derived. Thank you.

Tommy Bennett: Please tell me your username stands for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. /poliscigeek'd

I think passer rating is a fine (but not perfect) stat that has an esoteric formula. What I take from it is that even complicated stats can make the mainstream. As for me, I usually rely on Football Outsiders for what little wisdom about football I eke out.

John (New Hampshire): Do you think that teams intentionally lowball players during the arbitration process? As in, do they counter with low offers just so they can settle at a midpoint and end up paying about what they really wanted to anyway?

Tommy Bennett: This is a really good question. The answer is absolutely. They have to balance the fact that a vast majority of arb. cases in which the parties exchange figures settle at exactly the midpoint (which pushes the parties apart) with the reality of the arbitration process, in which the arbitrator can only choose one side's number (which pushes the parties together). It's a complex interaction that depends in large part on the bargaining power of the parties. This may be the number one reason I'd want a very good agent if I were a player.

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): Mike Rizzo has revived the Nationals in the eyes of baseball insiders, apparently, but the team still has legions of prognosticators giving them nothing but dismissive scorn. Let's imagine that he tops off his active off-season with the moves we Nats fans are being teased with: the signing of Garland or Sheets or maybe Bedard, Orlando Hudson for 2B, and a trade of Josh Willingham for a young pitcher. Do we Nats fans have reason to hope that even 3rd place in the division would be at least plausible?

Tommy Bennett: Do you want the real answer or do you want the hopeful answer?

Look, there's a lot of variance in team win/loss records, so third place certainly doesn't have a zero probability. But I think it'd take a lot to make that happen--particularly a very bad season for the Braves or Marlins.

Steve N (Delaware): I was talking with some friends about Everth Cabrera. I thought that he looked like he could be very good. They said that he was just too small. (5-9, 170) How important is size in evaluating a players future? (Please, no size jokes.)

Tommy Bennett: I'm not a scout, so I can only go with what I know. But Everth Cabrera is an extremely fun player to watch, he's got great speed, decent contact skills, and will at least get an opportunity to prove himself. All he has to do now is keep his batting average up while playing in Petco.

Jake (St. Louis, MO): Tommy- Your thoughts on the Cardinal off-season and how it sets them up for another run in the NL Central?

Tommy Bennett: I think the Cardinals are the clear favorites in their division. My biggest concern would be with their pitching, but whatever Dave Duncan does, it appears to work for them.

chaneyhey (stlouis): Who will be the top 5 NL players who will make their major league debut in 2010?

Tommy Bennett: Hmm, that's a toughie because it involves two variables that discount a player's expected value: likelihood of getting to the majors and expected production. We'll go with Heyward, Austin Jackson, Buster Posey, Jason Castro, and Madison Bumgarner. But that's basically an educated guess.

Marc Normandin (Secret Volcano Fortress): Hi there T! Can I call you T? Anyways, aren't beards just *fantastic*?

Tommy Bennett: Hi! No. Yes.

William (Orange Beach, AL): Do you think it is a waste of time for both the Rays and Bj Upton to go to arby over a difference of $300,000 if both parties fail to come to a long-term deal ?

Tommy Bennett: Do I think it's a waste of time? Sure. Could it happen anyway? Possibly, although it's pretty unlikely. I bet they reach a deal, though.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): A's just signed Sheets. He and Duchscherer could be a pretty great 1-2 punch, though obviously with the "if healthy" caveat. Over/under on Duchscherer/Sheets starts?

Tommy Bennett: 32. Would you take the over or the under?

mswain784 (Chicago): Like the Nady signing?

Tommy Bennett: The injury risk strikes me as pretty high, but if the Cubs are going to contend they need risky players with some upside. It could be worse.

Skippy (Washington, D.C.): Seriously, what can the Nationals do this off-season to set themselves up to be an actual contender say, I don't know, 5 years from now? (Too optimistic?)?

Tommy Bennett: Trade Josh Willingham for whatever young talent they can get. Make sure Jordan Zimmermann's recovery and rehab go really well. Retroactively not sign Ivan Rodriguez?

enosarris (Teaneck): Is there a player that you favor because of his beard? A favorite bearded player perhaps?

Tommy Bennett: I like the look of Casey Blake, cause he really looks like he could eat a lot of pancakes, if you know what I mean.

dantroy (davis): Oakland sure looks like a damn good place for a pitcher to rebuild their value. Do you think the A's are competitive enough in this division to make the Sheets signing worthwhile?

Tommy Bennett: I actually think the AL West is pretty wide open. The Mariners are probably the favorites but after that it's going to be really competitive, and the M's aren't invulnerable. It's a nice move and my guess is the A's will at least collect some draft picks at the end of the year.

sportspopery (Frogville, Frogland): What do you make of efforts to extrapolate a given player's stats in a foreign league (Japan for sake of argument)--is there enough data, or is it just conjecture? Also, grad school beards ftw.

Tommy Bennett: Last point first: amen, brother.

I think it's better than no stats, but often not by very much. Japanese stats are much more reliable than stats from anywhere else (and I would say that includes many colleges).

lar (Milwaukee, WI): So, any immediate thoughts on the A's signing Ben Sheets this afternoon? And if you could throw in a Star Wars reference, that'd make it all the better...

Tommy Bennett: Ben Sheets is like Lando Calrissian. He's got old friends in Texas and will appear at first to betray them, but in the end he will have a change of heart and sign with Texas next year for more money. Then he will help to blow up the Death Star before returning to the Cloud City.

Matt K. (Mt. Albert, Ontario): What is more important to transaction analysis -- understanding relative positional and defensive value, or references to Gibbon?

Tommy Bennett: I reject the minor premise that you can understand relative positional and defensive value without a thorough understanding of Gibbon. Of course, in a pinch, you can always rely on Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.

rawagman (Toronto): What's your specialty? Tell me something (steeped in your niche) that would enlighten me. And, of course, welcome.

Tommy Bennett: Thanks. I suppose my comparative advantage is in two things: first, a big-picture view of team-building, and second, the application of economic principles to baseball decisions.

I think too often we assume that the marginal revenue of a player signing is entirely captured by his value in terms of wins, but of course a rational firm would consider the revenue from a wider view. So, for example, Ichiro's value in wins underdetermines his value in terms of team revenue. Because efficient firms will pay for players until their marginal cost exceeds the associated marginal revenue, I think Ichiro is well worth his contract.

enosarris (Teaneck): Got your picks for best and worst signings of the offseason handy?

Tommy Bennett: I don't, but let's live dangerously!

Best: Vladimir Guerrero
Worst: Randy Wolf

ashitaka (long beach, ca): I was thinking ~30 too, but I'll take the under.

Tommy Bennett: This relates back to the Duch/Sheets thing, but the real risks probably lie more with the former than the latter. I think taking the under is justified.

jlarsen (chicago): What is the deal with the MLBPA sticking their nose where it doesn't belong? First you tell the Marlins that they needed to spend of their revenue-sharing money, then there's murmurs that they did it with the Pirates/Rays and now there's word that the Oakland Sheets' signing was caused by them as well. Is the Players Association worried that teams want to use their own prospects rather than overspend on less-than-stellar Free Agents?

Tommy Bennett: I think the MLBPA is worried that the reason revenue sharing was implemented (to increase competitive balance) is subverted when teams don't actually use the money to become more competitive. If the Marlins don't spend the money, then why do they need it in the first place?

On another note, I don't really understand why the Marlins wouldn't be willing to spend more anyway. They have so many cost-controlled player, an extra $30 MM in payroll would put them in perpetual contention in the NL East.

mattymatty2000 (Philly): For those of us (me included) who don't know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from? What team(s) do you root for? What is your specialty at BP? Thanks for your time.

Tommy Bennett: Sure. I'm a law student. I'm originally from Philly but now live in New York City. I listen to a lot of music (especially Golden Age hip-hop and contemporary electropop). I love movies. I root for the Phillies. I'm somewhat of a generalist at BP--jack of all trades but master of none, you might say.

Brock Dahlke (Shakopee, MN): Is there any chance the Twins don't go into the season depending on a combination of Punto, Tolbert, Casilla and Harris at 3B/2B?

Tommy Bennett: Every day that goes by makes the chance smaller and smaller. Felipe Lopez is still out there, and if I were the Twins, I'd be talking to him.

atk (DC): Assuming they sign him, what are the chances the Twins would actually go with Thome as the DH, Kubel in LF, and Young on the bench against RHP, rather than paying Thome to be an expensive pinch hitter?

Tommy Bennett: I think it depends almost entirely on how good Young is this year. If he plays like he did in the last couple months of the 2009 season, Young will play every day. I don't think he'll do that, but there are certainly people who do.

dp (FRANCE): This off-season has seen plenty of emphasis in teams attempting to build better teams with superior defense--the Mariners and Red Sox come to the forefront of my thinking in this regard. While I hesitate to call it a fad, the variance in UZR's and other defensive metrics brings a question to mind: why not just build a team of well-rounded, above-average players with no obvious flaws or plus-plus tools? Or is this impossible?

Tommy Bennett: The Angels? It's a nice idea but I wouldn't try it unless those guys were the best value, and it seems like well-rounded players get a lot of attention.

phil (pa): Are you allowed to reference wOBA or do you have to get all proprietary on us?

Tommy Bennett: wOBA and EqA are functionally very similar. It's a matter of taste, I suppose. wOBA in some implementations is not adjusted for park, which makes it somewhat less useful for player comparisons in my view. EqA also adjusts for not having to face your own team's pitchers, which can be a pretty significant effect. But here you go: wOBA, wOBA, wOBA!

Tom Haberstroh (CT): Which baseball figure most closely resembles the career arc of Stringer Bell? What about Marlo Stanfield?

Tommy Bennett: This is a really important question. Stringer Bell reminds me a lot of Albert Belle, because he was so brilliant but only for a short time. Belle, like Bell, also did not like the media or police. Marlo Stanfield is most like the evil Yankees players in Major League, because he has no compassion and just looks really mean.

mattymatty2000 (Philly): Since Marc Normandin gave us his AL East prediction in the last chat (Yankees, Sox, Rays, etc.), in the interest of completeness (and in the interest of my interest) whats yours?

Tommy Bennett: Marc's projections are probably more reliable than mine, but I think the Sox edge out the Yankees this year on the strength of their starting rotation.

Sam (OC): Bumgarner pitched in 2009, so you get to think of a new one!

Tommy Bennett: Oh, very good point. I guess I was thinking of rookie eligibility. We'll say Mike Stanton, then, on the assumption that he pushes his way to the majors.

Lincoln (Dallas): So in the Sheets/A's/Texas/Star Wars reference, what is the Death Star? The American League? New Cowboy Stadium? Bud Selig's new floating moon base?

Tommy Bennett: Now witness the power of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL floating moon base! I mean, collective bargaining agreement!

Matt K. (Mt. Albert, ON): True or False: Derrida's conflation of perception and representation in his critique of Husserl is a fatal flaw.

Tommy Bennett: It's all intersubjective to me.

bctowns (chicago): posey played too.

Tommy Bennett: I'm gettin' dogged over 17 PA, huh? Okay, fair enough. Freddie Freeman.

Justin Bopp (Kansas City): You're the GM of the Royals (I just fired GMDM), and ceteris paribus, I'm giving you $15 million to improve my team. What do you do?

Tommy Bennett: Non-tender Jose Guillen and sign John Smoltz? It's a long road, and I worry the only thing that gets you down it is time.

firejerrymanuel (ny): What would you do if one of your least favorite rappers mentioned advanced baseball statistics in one of his songs? e.g. "I'm huge like Pujols' wOBA, that's why they call me Hova"

Tommy Bennett: Before or after my head exploded? Hova name drops Juan Pierre, so we've got a way to go on that front.

Charlie (Bethesda): You must check out Collin Balester's website. He has a 'stache status update and lists growing facial hair as one of his top 5 hobbies. He seems to be someone you should know about http://collinbalester.com/

Tommy Bennett: I just wanted to share this with everyone. Thank you, Charlie.

Dennis (LA): Thanks for the chat. Kind of surprised to not see Stephen Strasburg among your top 5 NL rookie performances in 2010. Do you think the Nats will keep him in the minors for a substantial portion of the season and/or he won't perform well when he's called up?

Tommy Bennett: I think they ought to keep him in the minors for at least a few months, and if he does get called up, it will be late in the season. The temptation will be to bring him up, though.

Zeus (Olympus): So I read that Geovany Soto lost 40 lbs in the off-season. So did Matt Stairs. Is Jenny Craig the new steroids?

Tommy Bennett: I dunno, you're the king of the gods, you tell me. After what Charlie Manuel did on Nutrisystem, though, I have to think that's the diet method of choice.

smitty99 (Washington State): It looks like one thing Ruben Amaro does is act really quickly. He signs free agents quickly and makes two major trades on the same day and that kind of stuff. What, in your view, are the advantages and disadvantages of this aspect of Amaro's style?

Tommy Bennett: I've looked at how waiting to make a move during the offseason affects the amount you pay for a win, and it is riskier overall to wait, especially if you have a very particular need. But if your needs are general (i.e. you can improve at more than one position), I think it's best to be patient. But Amaro hasn't done a terrible job so far.

Lincoln (Dallas): Clay Zavada - hands down best 'stache in the show, right?

Tommy Bennett: I'm not a mustache guy in general, but his stache could convince me otherwise.

Neil (NJ): Sweet! A Phillies fan! What are you favorite Phillies fan blogs?

Tommy Bennett: Crashburn Alley, The Fightins, Phillies Nation, Phuture Phillies, We Should Be GMs. I read a lot of blogs.

jlarsen (Chicago): My problem is, why the concern over the Rays and A's finances? Both teams know how to use money in multiple ways, not just 1 big splurging. Hell, the Rays had the biggest percentage increase in payroll since 2008 and yet the MLBPA is worried about their finances? What gives?

Tommy Bennett: My guess is that the saber-rattling from the PA ends with the Marlins. I think the other teams got the message.

strupp (Madison): That told us everything and nothing. Beatles or Stones or "Other"? Video Games: Great or the bane of society? Favorite 18th century monarch? Anything else that gives us the insight to the MAN behind the beard?

Tommy Bennett: I've always hated that question because the correct and boring answer is the Beatles. Right now I'm listening to the Exploding Hearts (RIP). Video games are great and I'm getting a PS3 tonight. George II. I enjoy science fiction a great deal--I just re-read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in between law school readings.

Adam (Seaside): And Austin Jackson isn't in the NL

Tommy Bennett: Okay, no more lists. Pedro Alvarez

Frank (Vegas): Hi Tommy your take on the Pirates off-season (ie , will a new, avg bullpen better protect their young pitchers? Are they not following their supposed youth movement, or just taking advantage of cost/player opportunities)? Is 2010 a lost cause?

Tommy Bennett: It depends what you mean by lost cause. Rebuilding a team that was bad in nearly every way is a tough job. I definitely think they're headed in the right direction. I don't think Doc Oct is a silver bullet, but he wasn't terribly expensive.

lazy bum (never never land): Is it bad that I am sitting here clicking refresh on my browser rather than looking for a job?

Tommy Bennett: Only if you value getting a job more than reading about baseball on the internet. That, of course, is a question about which reasonable people can disagree.

lar (Milwaukee): Of the work that you've done, which is your favorite? Did you like it because of the findings, or because of the question? You don't need to find a link to the piece... I'm asking in general.

Tommy Bennett: It's impossible to come up with interesting writing without a good question. A good question, without good findings, can still be interesting. It doesn't work the other way around, if you ask me.

mattymatty2000 (Philly): So your a Phillies fan? Can you defend or at least explain the Cliff Lee trade?

Tommy Bennett: It's tough to defend, but he's my old college try.

If they sat down with Lee and asked him what it would take to extend him, and he basically wanted 5+ years at his fair market value, they decided they'd rather spread the savings across multiple years than get one last cheap year out of Lee before letting him walk. They traded him to the Mariners for 80 cents on the dollar and reaped the surplus (yes, surplus) from signing Blanton to a three year deal. Over the next two seasons, they'll have basically their entire team locked in.

I'm not 100% convinced, but it at least makes sense.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Speaking of The Wire, which player, manager, or GM would be the cerebral detective Lester Freamon?

Tommy Bennett: Lester is probably the only character on the Wire that doesn't have a real flaw. So I guess I'd say he's like what Mariners fans THINK Jack Zduriencik is.

Casey at the Bat (Mudville aka Pittsburgh): They have to have one, so who will be the Pirates all-star this year, Garret Jones, McCutch, or other?

Tommy Bennett: McCutchen. I think he's going to have a breakout year.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): How is signing Pudge Rodriguez going to make them not good in the future? I am assuming he isn't going to take much time away from Flores once he's healthy in May or June. What are the alternatives?

Tommy Bennett: I think he will take significant time away from Flores over the next two years, and I still think Flores is going to be a good catcher. They also could have used the money on international signings (assuming they've fixed their in-house problems in that regard).

Colin Wyers (Davenport, IA): One note upon Japanese league translations - we actually have good two-way movement between leagues, with US players leaving to play in Japan at a pretty significant rate. That helps greatly in establishing league translations.

Tommy Bennett: Colin is wise. Listen to Colin.

Rip2632 (Birmingham,AL): No question Jimmy McNulty = Mickey Mantle. Made a lot of mistakes, but was so talented everyone overlooked them. And you could have Costas giving the eulogy at the pool table instead of Sgt. Landsman...

Tommy Bennett: You're just saying that because they were both alcoholics.

Sagiv (NY): Worst chat ever! This chat is so bad Omar wants to sign it to a 3 year deal for 35 million dollars with a vesting option for a 4th year at 24 million. Are you worried about Amaro? Seems like he's really just throwing things at the wall and hoping it sticks.

Tommy Bennett: This is all Adam Rubin's fault.

Andy (Florida): What player without facial hair do you think would be most served by some growth?

Tommy Bennett: Chan Ho Park proved it can work for anybody. I've always thought Jamey Carroll would be better with a beard.

mnsportsguy1 (sportsville): Which small to mid-market team do you think is set up to have or continue to have much success?

Tommy Bennett: Texas is a pretty darn good team. We'll see what the new ownership group does, but going forward I think they'll be contenders in the AL West for a while.

Minneapolitan (Nashville ): "what Mariners fans THINK Jack Zduriencik is" Shots fired?

Tommy Bennett: To a thirsty man...

Sam (OC): "for example, Ichiro's value..." Besides Ichiro, and Matsui, are there other examples of players whose economic value isn't captured by his win value? What other ways do you see value?

Tommy Bennett: OK, so you're right, the Japanese cases are too easy. How about like Gary Carter was to the Mets, where he was a real face of the franchise (even if other players didn't really like him for it).

stewbies (Rochester): What's your best guess on current #3 or #4 starters who could break out and become a #2 in 2010?

Tommy Bennett: Clay Buchholz? Is that too easy?

bctowns (Chicago): Welcome to BP, Tommy! The readers are a prickly lot, but ultimately it's probably worth it. Since we're on the subject, what are your thoughts on Posey for this coming year? Are we in for a Wietersian adjustment period? That's a tough park for a rookie to hit in while catching.

Tommy Bennett: Posey isn't going to set the world on fire right away, but I have thought long and hard about the Molina signing and it makes exactly zero sense to me. Maybe the biggest knock on Posey is his defense, but I just don't really buy it.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): Passer rating would be killed by sabermetricans. It doesn't even include running stats, and for some reason has a cap. A "perfect" QB rating 158.3, even though it's possible to have a higher rating.

Tommy Bennett: These are all valid points. You guys know about DVOA, right?

BL (Bozeman): How do the Royals clear up their self-inflicted glut of mediocre outfielders?

Tommy Bennett: Some wounds only time will heal. Best you can do is have guys ready behind them. About that...

Mike (Utica,NY): You said McCutchen has a breakout year, now what do you see for his numbers??? Is his upside the Barry Bonds as a Pirate??

Tommy Bennett: Let's go with .280/.360/.485 and 18 HR

brian (brooklyn): When will you start to go by Tom or Thomas? Tommy makes you sound like you are 8 years old

Tommy Bennett: Tell that to Lasorda.

dantroy (davis): How about Wieters? Catchers don't always live up to their offensive billing. What do you expect from MW in 2010? Beyond? Thanks.

Tommy Bennett: Occasional All-Star. Just a gut guess, but he's still a great player.

Eric (Gainesville): Does the Confrontation Clause really apply to lab tests when the technician doesn't know anything about the sample being tested? Why can't SCOTUS understand this changes the strategy of routine convictions?

Tommy Bennett: It's a tough question. The lab tech isn't going to say anything that isn't in the report, and it's awfully difficult to impeach a witness like that. But the Constitution is the Constitution, so I tend to err on the side of protecting the individual rights. (This is probably coming close to politics, which is verboten).

faithdies (DE): Is Phuture Phillies the best Team specific Minor League blog you've ever seen or am I just biased?

Tommy Bennett: I don't know if it's the best but I love the Michael Schwimer blog. It's just excellent.

Pat Andriola (@tuftspat): Hi stranger. What are your non-BP top 5 baseball analytic sites to visit?

Tommy Bennett: Beyond the Box Score, Baseball Analysts, Hardball Times, Inside the Book, Fangraphs. There are a lot of others, though.

Scott (Chicago): What Gordon Beckham could become to the White Sox...if for no other reason than because the fan base is filled with "grinder"-loving morons.

Tommy Bennett: Mmm...grinder...

JeffZimmerman (Wichita): Surprise good and bad teams this year.

Tommy Bennett: Surprise good: Diamondbacks
Surprise bad: White Sox

Corey Hart (Beardland): Is my beard so bad that it's good, or so good that it's bad?

Tommy Bennett: Depends on the time of day, and whether or not you are wearing sunglasses.

Lincoln (Dallas): Gotcha...I picture Selig's floating moon base as the antagonist to BP's secret volcano hideout, fyi

Tommy Bennett: Hmm...I don't like our odds. I hope we have access to the moon base's schematics.

John (Haltom): Dave Cameron has a piece on how more and more teams are looking to rotate players through the DH spot instead of just sticking one guy who can't play the field there. In general, do you like having a big bat at DH or do you think teams should value the added roster flexability of rotating guys?

Tommy Bennett: This is a boring answer, but it really depends on the talent available to you. You have to have a pretty darn good hitter to justify using him there exclusively. But just about every AL team punted the opportunity to nab Adam Dunn and stick him at DH for the next several years.

Brock Dahlke (Shakopee, MN): How do you see the Joe Mauer contract talks playing out?

Tommy Bennett: I think he probably signs a significant long term deal. He may be worried about his health long-term, and better a team take on that risk than that he does. That team might as well be the Twins.

Andy (Baltimore): Thoughts on the Miguel Tejada deal?

Tommy Bennett: Honestly, I think it's a good deal. Tejada can still hit well enough to be worth the $6 million. The move to third base should go okay, since I think he's still got a good arm.

Peter (Atlanta, GA): What version of "Way Down In The Hole" do you prefer?

Tommy Bennett: The cool answer would be Tom Waits but I gotta go with the Nevilles (Season 3). Speaking of New Orleans, I'm excited for David Simon's "Treme."

Billy (Idaho): What's it like on the other side of these chats? Is it difficult to navigate through the questions, etc?

Tommy Bennett: Harder than I thought it would be. I'm trying to get to most of them.

Matt (Chicago): What is the outlook for the Cubs' offense this season with the recent minor upgrades( Byrd, Nady)?

Tommy Bennett: I think they'll be better than last year. No way Soriano disappoints as badly, plus if Nady is healthy he will hit. Byrd will struggle now that he's left Arlington, but he'll justify his PAs, I think.

Bubba Brown (Salt Lake City): Two part question. Rank in order of who will end up having the best career: Tommy Hanson, David Price, Clayton Kershaw. Also, will Tommy Hanson win a Cy Young in his career?

Tommy Bennett: Order: Kershaw, Hanson, Price

I'd say Hanson has a 25% chance to win a Cy. But that's a WAG.

Frank (Miami): favorite Tommy ; Lasorda, Heinsohn, or Aaron? Or ???

Tommy Bennett: C'mon, it's gotta be Lasorda!

Pat (Tufts): Any thoughts on US v Stevens?

Tommy Bennett: People should not be cruel to animals.

Michael Jong (Florida): DVOA? Come on, Tommy, expected points is where it's at! Like linear weights for points in football! Plus, it's useful for decision analysis. Also, your thoughts on the Marlins' starters behind Nolasco/Johnson. Anyone for a breakout or even halfway decent year?

Tommy Bennett: I just got geek-slammed! I like Chris Volstad's chances of developing into a reliable ground ball guy.

Chad (Arlington): Which young dynamic duo would you choose for your team long term? Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland or Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz?

Tommy Bennett: Feliz/Holland, I think. The combined upside is higher.

brian (brooklyn): But if his name was Tom or Thomas Hanson you would put him at like a 45% chance for a Cy Young

Tommy Bennett: But then he wouldn't be having as much fun out there!

Jacob348 (The Bay Area): Is Posey a better version or equal version of Brian McCann? Peak years of 20-25 hrs, .290-.300 (or better) sound about right?

Tommy Bennett: Brian McCann is already there. If Posey turns in McCann, Posey's upside will have been realized. McCann is really, really good.

Frank (Vegas): is OD the best move for the Pirates so far this year (ie until Doumit/Duke are dealt for prospects)?

Tommy Bennett: More important than the moves they did make are the moves they did not make. I don't think any free agents are going to get them where they need to go. Trading away Doumit would help, but you might be better served dealing him at the deadline after he shows he's healthy.

Marco (Austin): Mauer or Longoria?

Tommy Bennett: Mauer. Has a chance to go down as the greatest catcher of all time.

chaneyhey (stlouis): When does Bryce Harper make his MLB debut?

Tommy Bennett: Okay, because sometimes it's fun to make a REALLY wild guess. I'll say 2014.

J.W. (South Texas): Didn't Lester have the same flaw as all the heroes in the show (Carcetti, McNulty, Bodie, D'Angelo)? That they thought they could buck the system, fight the establishment? And doesn't that mean that those guys are all Paul DePodesta? (Which, incidentally, means that Bill Plaschke is Clay Davis, right?)

Tommy Bennett: Nah, Lester learned his lesson and got out of the basement. He worked inside the system to try and get what he wanted.

Steve (Yupland): Why is Season 5 of The Wire so relatively bad?

Tommy Bennett: Sometimes you write worst what you know best.

Charlie (Bethesda): What are your thoughts on Adam Dunn at first base? Compared to his outfield play, I feel like he is great. That is, I don't feel the need to cover my eyes when the baseball goes near him. Do you think he's adequate there?

Tommy Bennett: He's certainly got some value, but he'd be worth more to an AL team. I would trade him for prospects if I could.

Charlie (Bethesda): Harper talk has died down quite a bit... think he's still the Nats first choice?

Tommy Bennett: It's not necessarily a lock, and a lot changes over the course of the spring.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): Best movie(s) of 2009? All-time favorite?

Tommy Bennett: "In the Loop" was the movie I enjoyed the most this year, I think. I also really liked "Moon," "Avatar," and "The Hurt Locker." As for all-time favorite, at least today, I'll say "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie"

ashitaka (long beach, ca): True, but will Mauer stay at catcher long enough to be considered a catcher when he is through playing?

Tommy Bennett: Maybe not, but I don't think it matters. He's an incredible hitter.

Chris (NE): What are your religious beliefs?

Tommy Bennett: I am a Quaker.

eokurowski (NY): Would Smoltz be a good move for the Mets 5th starter?

Tommy Bennett: Yeah, I think so. He'd be great in Citi, and he'd probably come at a reasonably affordable price. Heck, I'd go see him pitch.

Grant (Chicago): How much fantasy baseball do you play? I know that purists don't always like its influence on sites like BP and Marc is great, but more fantasy stuff=more learning out there=more traffic.

Tommy Bennett: I play a good bit of fantasy. My main league is a 14 team mixed auction keeper league. I did not do well last year and I am not happy about it.

I think fantasy baseball also helps fans like me think about value and risk, which is important when evaluating real teams.

Chris (NE): Yeah, but are you actually religious? C'mon man, get deep for us...

Tommy Bennett: Go to Meeting for Worship sometime. Quaker silent meeting is a unique experience.

Wade (Tusla): Is Berkman at the end of the line? Who is a good bet this year to suffer that level of drop this season?

Tommy Bennett: I don't think Berkman is close to the end of the line. I think '07 and '09 are pretty close to his true talent level at this point. '08 was somewhat above his head. He'll have several more good years, though.

Ace (Aceland): Who has more of an impact in 2010, Jhoulys Chacin or Tim Alderson?

Tommy Bennett: Woo, tough question. I think both need more seasoning, but Alderson has kept his walks under control a little better. I'll go with him despite the shorter track record.

Mark (NY): Where did you start out writing? Only at BtB, or anywhere else?

Tommy Bennett: BtB was my first time writing in a while. I wrote a little site hosted on River Ave Blues a while back.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Did you therefore go to William Penn University in Iowa?

Tommy Bennett: No--Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. I would say "Go Phoenix!" but when I went there we didn't have a mascot and I liked it better that way.

Thomas (OC): I actually think Stringer Bell = Billy Beane. Seemed like he controled the Game under with his magic touch, but then everything started to go wrong.

Tommy Bennett: I am actually a little upset with myself for not putting this together. You're 100% right.

jwpend (Oakland): Predictions for Werth & Victorino? Have they had their career years? Should Victorino, as some have suggested, be producing more power?

Tommy Bennett: Werth is a stud. The Phillies probably won't keep him after this season and I bet he makes a ton of money as a free agent. Victorino has reached a pretty predictable plateau at this point, but shouldn't decline too much over the next three years.

Steven (Colorado): Anything you wish online saber-geeks (such as myself) took into account more often?

Tommy Bennett: Base running and the variable value of a win.

Bobby Valentino (.com/ee): What do you want to do professionally?

Tommy Bennett: Well, Mr. Valentino, I'm jealous of your high pitched croon, but I don't think I'm cut out to be an R&B superstar. I'd like to be an academic lawyer (read: law professor).

Fred (Jerry Park): What type of player falls in your blindspot (i.e., you find hardest to gauge or judge properly)?

Tommy Bennett: This is a great question. I think players who sustain high on base percentages by virtue of their consistent contact skills.

Ace (Aceland): Is this the year Jonathan Sanchez gets dirty (puts it all together)?

Tommy Bennett: It's all about his ability to keep is walks down, and that's a really tough thing to predit. At some point it just clicks.

I will say that I rarely have as much fun watching a game as I did watching him pitch his no-hitter last summer.

Madrid (Paris): Favorite economics blog?

Tommy Bennett: Too easy. Marginal Revolution followed closely by Felix Salmon.

Fred (Jerry Park): Thanks for the answer: would that be someone like Sandoval? How or why does that complicate things for you?

Tommy Bennett: I think Sandoval is a good example. He was basically off my radar screen until he came close to his big league debut. Erick Aybar is another guy I think could be good despite my worries about him.

Charlie (Bethesda): Besides Lannan and Marquis (ugh) and Strasburg, who's going to make an impact in the Nats rotation? Are you a believer in Detwiler? Balester? Bradley Meyers? McGeary? Stammen? One of those guys has to do something good, right?

Tommy Bennett: The really sad thing about that question is that the answer could be "no."

Ryan V. (San Jose, CA): So I'm starting law school in the fall, and the most common advice I get on law school is "Don't do it." How have you enjoyed your law school experience?

Tommy Bennett: Only do it if you really want to study the law. I have really enjoyed it.

Maria (Philly): Is there one player you've always thought was just going to be awesome (who had some MLB experience), but just never put it together?

Tommy Bennett: Austin Kearns. He fools me like every year. I don't get it.

Chris (Atl): You're the Phils GM, and Atlanta offers you McCann and Jurrjens for Hamels, Carlos Ruiz, Dominic Brown, and Gillies. Pull the trigger?

Tommy Bennett: Brown and Gillies in the equation probably tips it to no. Make it just Gillies and we could talk.

Shane (Fort Worth): Are the Rangers serious about givng Colby Lewis a rotation spot?

Tommy Bennett: It certainly seems like it. He had a great year at Hiroshima last year. I think it's worth a gamble.

Harvey (Mactaquac): Whom do you fear is your next Kearns?

Tommy Bennett: Michael Saunders? (I am pretty high on Saunders)

Scott (Chicago): The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie? Holy hell, is this a BP writer with some actual cultural cred? Have you ever seen any Jodorowsky?

Tommy Bennett: I saw the Holy Mountain once but I don't think I got it.

Chris (Atl): I take out Gillies, leave Brown, and throw in Jo Jo Reyes.

Tommy Bennett: Now I give you the $20...

Will (Fredericton): Who on earth is the Blue Jays's backup CF? If your answer is Bautista or Gathwraite, please include a link to Basketball Prospectus in your answer and call me next year.

Tommy Bennett: I just want to say that I appreciate the urgency of this question.

Bennie (Hamilton): Now that you are on the other side of things, what are some ettiquette tips for posters?

Tommy Bennett: When I was in kindergarten, the teacher said there was only one rule, and that it was "be kind." If you are unsure whether behavior counts as kind or not, don't do it.

Scott (Chicago): Ok, what about Tarkovsky? It's kind of a give in that he's the greatest director of all time, right? Solyaris and Stalker alone are better than any other filmmakers entire filmography.

Tommy Bennett: Solyaris is great. I like Andrei Rublev even better.

Ace (Driving): I kid. Who bounces back? Ryan Doumit or Geovanny Soto?

Tommy Bennett: Soto--he's in the best shape of his life!!!

James (Albany): David Wright will hit ___ home runs in 2010?

Tommy Bennett: 23.

Fred (Jerry Park): At some point will we move away from the high/strong valuation teams are assigning to pre-arb years (i.e., the difficulty buyers have at the trade deadline), or is the scale just tipped this way fundamentally?

Tommy Bennett: I think the valuations are pretty accurate. The surplus on arb-players is really valuable.

Andrea (Boston): Top 5 favorite Wire characters?

Tommy Bennett: Duquan, Snoop, Slim Charles, Bunk, Mr. Prezbo

TGisriel (Baltimore): I'm enjoying your first chat. A law student who like beards, the Wire, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie has to be good! Now a question. What is your favorite ballpark? Which ballpark(s) have you not visited that you would like to?

Tommy Bennett: Of the ones I've been to, Fenway is my favorite. I still haven't been to Dodger Stadium or Kauffman Stadium, and I would like to go to both.

Billy (Idol): Lestor is the only flawless character? Hello, how about Donut FTW!

Tommy Bennett: Really solid point.

john (ct): Think Grady Sizemore will return to his old form or did he peak and is now fading?

Tommy Bennett: I think he'll be close to his old form again.

Scott (Chicago): That's awesome. My friends and I have a Wire as NBA players thread on our message board; Bunk : Stacey King(current), Dale Davis : WeeBay, Andrea Bargnani : Nick Sobotka, Horse Face Pikusa : Jerry Krause, Cheese Wagstaff : Kenyon Martin, Lindsey Hunter : Ellis Carver. It's one hell of a game.

Tommy Bennett: Dude! Method Man does kinda look like Kenyon Martin.

Charlie (Bethesda): Can Ryan Zimmerman get even better? He just turned 25 and in terms of hitting and fielding and position relevance you'd rank him top _____ in the league

Tommy Bennett: Overall? Top 25.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Following up: Which stadiums are the worst you've seen a game in? I nominate the old Veteran's Stadium and Philadelphia and RFK in D.C.

Tommy Bennett: The Vet was a special kind of bad. RFK and Shea were also terrible. I think one of the great things about the last 20 years in baseball has been the marked increase in quality of stadiums.

Ace (Aceland): Bigger impact for 2010, Justin Masterson or Jeff Niemann?

Tommy Bennett: Push.

WilliamWilde (Boston, MA): Shouldn't the Twins finally step up and grab a dedicated DH in Jim Thome. He's past prime but for what he'll cost it would surely benefit them to run him out there in 100-120 games vs. righties no? They had BRENDAN HARRIS DH in the playoffs for christ-sakes!

Tommy Bennett: I think Thome still has value. It's worth noting, however, that the Twins had the fourth best offense in the league last year.

Grant (Chicago): Favorite band? Prospect questions OK? Injury questions?

Tommy Bennett: We're getting close to the end here. Favorite band is a toughie, but I'll say A Tribe Called Quest

spencerja78 (Indy): Rasmus, McCutchen, Fowler... Who's the best CF for next year? Career?

Tommy Bennett: McCutchen, McCutchen!

Sven (Everywhere): If you are getting a ps3 let us all know ur screenname! So we can know we are playing with a genius!

Tommy Bennett: (/inflect old man voice) Back when I was a boy, console games didn't come with "screen names"...

Brock Dahlke (Shakopee, MN): What is the #1 thing you are excited for this upcoming season as we approach spring training?

Tommy Bennett: Does the fact that we are approaching spring training count? Cause I'm really excited about that.

Charlie (Bethesda): Nyjer Morgan's bat can't be as good next year as he was in 2010. What do you expect, and will his fielding be enough to make him a valuable starter anyway?

Tommy Bennett: His defense is really good, so he would have to decline a lot with the bat to rob him of value. I'll say .290/.345/.390

TGisriel (Baltimore): Before the Nationals came to D.C., the Orioles "rival" for inter-league games was the Phillies. While I agree that the Nationals is a more natural rival (after all Baltimore hates D.C.) I thought the games against the Phillies made sense because the Phillies fans could come to Baltimore and the Orioles fans could got to Philadephia. Who has replace the Orioles as the Phillies "rival"? Do you think it would make sense for more than one "rival" for a team where it makes sense geographically?

Tommy Bennett: I am not sure I know the answer to this question, and I think it depends on a lot of factors. I'll just say that one of my favorite things to do is to see a game in DC during the day and a game in Baltimore at night. I'm not even sure you can still do it, but man was it fun.

Ace (Parking): The Texas C situation has enough power potential to make it rain, but so far no one has stepped up. Whom of Salty, Teagarden or Ramirez steps up and do any of them get traded this year?

Tommy Bennett: You could have asked this same question for three years running. Isn't that odd?

Christina Kahrl (BP Volcano Hideout): As long as the cheese is all down here, who needs a moon, anyway? Congrats on a fine first chat, and welcome aboard, natch.

Tommy Bennett: I think we'll call it with that one. Thanks for all the great questions folks. I had a blast. Feel free to address lingering questions to me by e-mail or on Twitter (@tommy_bennett).

Tommy Bennett: Thanks.


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