Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, let's get this party started...
Will, aka RCS (Fredericton, NB): JP's moves of late are those the moves of an increasingly savvy, ever-learning, trust-worthy manager of a so-called "small market" team: True or false?
Christina Kahrl: Both. JP's penny-wise and pound-wise, but the "big/small/small on nights with bad rush hours" market paradigm is about as silly as it gets. What matters is revenue, and the Dodgers command plenty, and they seem to be doing a very good job of plowing it back into their product and giving Dodgers fans a team worth getting excited about.
MPK (Woodbury, CT): How long before Andy Marte (and his .281 ISO Slugging as a 20 year old in AA) arrives in Atlanta? Would it be a good idea to move Chipper to 1st to facilitate his arrival?
Christina Kahrl: A good bit of anticipation, MPK. Not only is Marte slugging, he's drawing a walk every in better than one out of ten PA, so he's done with Double-A. Eventually, Chipper's going to have to move somewhere for Marte's benefit, but keep some things in mind. First, Marte isn't on the 40-man roster, so adding him now would start up his service time and arbitration clocks early. The Braves aren't generally shy about that sort of thing, though, and they have moveable people on the roster. Second, Marte's a victim of the D-word: 'Dominican,' so there's going to be some fussing over his age, although in his case, I think it's unfair.
Oh, and, Adam LaRoche is probably hosed, of course.
Suraj (New York): I don't understand how there can be any debate over who the NL MVP is. Bonds has an OBP of nearly 200 points higher than Rolen, a much higher SLG, and the next highest VORP on the Giants is Ray Durham. Rolen doesn't even have the highest VORP on his own team, and Edmonds is right behind him! Explain?
Christina Kahrl: After a decade's worth of chocolate, the voters want to try vanilla? I mean, sure, we all remember what it tastes like, but vive la difference, right? I think the 'bored electorate' excuse is a problem, and indefensible, but expecting the BBWAA to start operating with some sort of professionalism would be silly.
Derek Jeter (New York): Chris, you do a great job with BP and Transaction Analysis is great. So here's my question: In the wide open AL MVP race, who do you think wins and why?
Christina Kahrl: To flip to the other side of the MVP question, the thing about the AL is that the electorate's downright flaky when it comes to making choices. Worse still, there's no obvious candidate. Pudge? Maybe, but Carlos Guillen's a better pick off of a Tigers team that elicits sympathy, if not acclaim. The big name choices are guys like Vlad Guerrero and Manny Ramirez, both of whom would be defensible in the voter's minds for production and celebrity. David Ortiz might get support because he's something different, but Ramirez is better.
I'd pick Guillen right now, but I expect the voters to go with Vlad or Ortiz, depending on who has the flashier August.
GBSimons (Seymour, IN): Of course there will be many big-name players put on waivers during August, but what is the biggest impact player you expect to actually be dealt by Aug. 31?
Christina Kahrl: I've got low expectations for this August now that Robbie Alomar and Larry Walker have been moved around. Jose Mesa comes up a lot, but I don't see him passing through waivers. That leaves us with guys like Buddy Groom, Kerry Ligtenberg, Rey Sanchez, maybe Jeremi Gonzalez. I know, it's heady stuff. : )
Amos (NYC): Hi Chris, it's been a while since there was much use of the word 'sproing' in TA, which raises a very serious question: what happens when Matt Mantei retires? Do you pass the word down to another sproingy pitcher or does it get put on the back of a jersey and retired on the walls of BP Stadium? Who's your second most favorite pitcher when it comes to sproinginess? Thanks for all the great coverage and the Seuss-like wording.
Christina Kahrl: Amos,
First off, thank you for the compliment: 'Seuss-like' is a much more considerate compliment than another appropriate comment, like 'byzantine.' : )
Anyway, my long-term love for everything involving Rudy Seanez is storied... 'Traction Action' has been one of my most-bandaged heroes of long-standing. But he's a bit long in the tooth. My pick is Steve Karsay, if only because he's got that perfect combination of cost, talent, and sproingerrific tendencies.
I guess he isn't too young, though, so... hmmm... how about Ken Cloude, in a 'what could have been' category?
Mike (PA): Do you think Phillies GM Ed Wade uses Saber formulas to acquire his type of players, If not, what does he use? Thanks!
Christina Kahrl: Hi Mike, my feeling is that if Ed Wade is using any formulas, it's the kind you find in that book you get when you graduate from bartender school. That way, he can gear up for another "remember when" strategy session with all the good ol' boys of the 1980 Phillies.
More seriously, the Phillies are probably my choice for the team that really needs to sort out who does what and why within its front office. Ideally, words like 'purge' and 'liquidate' will be involved.
Jimi (New York): 9th Inning
WS GAME 7.
Who do you bring in?
PS What was bigger for the Yankees. Acquiring Esteban Loaiza or dealing Jose Contreras.
Christina Kahrl: Now see, this is another one of those questions that pains me, because my favorite pitcher of all time is Goose Gossage, and he's got that Kirk Gibson home run in 1984 to forget, which we do forget, because of Gibby's unmentionable moment against Eck, which reminds me about what a great satan the Dodgers are.
Oh, the question. Mariano Rivera's probably what most people are looking for, but frankly, I don't think anybody could have hit Duane Ward in his finest moments.
And in the deal, it's a bigger deal to have gotten rid of Contreras if you can't sort him out. If Loaiza shows anything of 2003, that's a bonus.
Slappy Mcnugget. (Pittsburgh, PA): Why haven't the Braves brought up Ryan Langerhans yet? His numbers at AAA look pretty good...
Christina Kahrl: Cruelty to processed food? Is such a thing possible?
A lot of Braves prospect questions... yes, Langerhans is hitting .302/.390/.509 at the moment, which hints at a bit of Orsulakian goodness, but remember, Mike Hessman's slugging almost .600 for Richmond. Also, keep in mind, Charles Thomas is up front, and he's got Kelly Johnson coming up behind now that he's been moved into the outfield. I like Langerhans, and in the NL he'd make a nifty fourth outfielder: hits lefty, good in the field, makes contact so he'll probably make a useful pinch-hitter. But I'm well shy of considering him a star in the making.
GOOCH (Columbia, MO): Chris, what do you think of the Walker trade to St. Louis? Considering the cash that went with him, I think Walker was a good risk (Cards will pay close to 6 mil next season for his services). And adding a LH power bat to this lineup is a plus. Navereson & Gall were a long way away from St. Louis and I don't think either will ever be top tier players.
Christina Kahrl: I think it's a great deal. As much as the Cardinals' non-Edmonds collection of extra outfielders has been a useful assortment of patches over the season's first four months, in terms of helping yourself with an eye towards October, it's an obviously worthwhile upgrade. The prospects aren't really worth noting, and the money... if they win, they'll make it back.
Basically, a tip o' the cap to the Cards for taking an active interest in their October, instead of standing pat. It's that sort of thing that separates them from, say, the Twins.
Will, aka RCS (Fredericton, NB): 2003 / 2004's off-season moves....Now that it's August, let's revisit some:
a) most overhyped?
b) best bargain, superstar division?
c) best bargain, otherwise?
d) worst bargain, superstar?
e) worst bargain, otherwise?
f) the move you were least correct about?
g) the move you were least suprised about?
Christina Kahrl: A great question, Will, because as irresponsible as I can be in my ad hominems, I should be held accountable.
Most overhyped: It would be easy to pick on Juan Gonzalez now that he's in the Rico Carty "he's still playing?" portion of his career, but I think the acquisition of Billy Wagner is the most overhyped move of last winter.
Best bargain, superstars: Roger Clemens. The money made sense, it was a marketing masterstroke, and the Astros needed him (see below).
Best other bargain: Chris Carpenter. Again, Dave Duncan did what he can do with veteran talent, and Carpenter was up to it.
Worst bargain, superstar: If not Andy Pettite or Bartolo Colon, perhaps Sidney Ponson, because he's being paid like a superstar.
Worst other signing: so many candidates... Brad Ausmus is a category unto himself, so how about Scott Spiezio (two more years to go? Put down the gun, Derek) and Brian Anderson.
My worst calls: What getting Soriano wouldn't do for the Rangers (although they still need pitching), Ozzie Guillen's future as a manager, my perpetually overactive interest in Russell Branyan
Biggest surprises: Rod Barajas and Gregg Zaun, because I didn't see either of them as this useful; Michael Tucker, certainly.
RS (Fairfax, VA): I think you misread the first question -- J.P. Ricciardi & the Blue Jays, not DePodesta & the Dodgers...
I'd be interested in the Ricciardi version of the question, since he's made some outwardly surprising moves in the last few days.
Christina Kahrl: Man, am I dense, I make that mistake every time, JP, DePo... argh, note to self, time for a kick in the head.
Anyway, I still see the Blue Jays as a reconstruction project where I, and a lot of analysts, were way too guilty of premature enthusiasm. It's a cautionary tale, but I still like where the organization is going. JP's drafts haven't been characterized as being as rigorously orthodox as Billy Beane's have been (infamously, unfortunately, and inappropriately, in Billy's case), and they've been productive and impressive. It's still promising, and shame on us for expecting too much too soon.
speast01 (New Jersey): Chris,
I'm as big a TINSTAAPP believer as anyone, but please confirm my notion that the Mets made two horrible trades at the deadline. I thought you went a little easy on them in TA.
Christina Kahrl: They made two horrible trades at the deadline. They overpaid for a pair of pitchers who should not have inspired so much confidence. As I think I've said publicly in the past, as much as I think Rick Peterson is all that, when he contributes to a decision to discard Kazmir in that deal, he gets a share of the blame for a pair of deals that don't really put the Mets in the postseason.
Jim (Palo Alto): Is it just me, or does Brian Sabean's decision to trade AWAY relief pitching at the trade deadline -- at a point when the Giants were tied for the wild card lead, and their bullpen was their Achilles heel -- strike you as bizarre? I know pitching was in short supply, but for Sabean to actually weaken his team at its weakest point seems unfathomable. Is there method to Sabean's madness?
Christina Kahrl: I've given up trying to anticipate or explain Brian Sabean. On some levels, he does things I think are really bright, without the stathead-minded bells and whistles. Other times, he convinces me he's phoning this year in, and looking forward to his own free agency.
Pronk for MVP (Cleveland): Phelps for Crozier.... what do you think?
Christina Kahrl: Speaking as the person guilty of cutting Crozier from this year's book, I like it better than you'd think. On the other hand, although Phelps is clearly bordering on becoming some sort of new Mike Ivie for his capacity to exasperate, I think he's fixable. There's major up-side in the deal for the Tribe, but Crozier could have a career like Paul Sorrento's.
Justin Singer (Hollywood, FL): When I saw that the Marlins traded Penny, Choi, and Bill Murphy to the Dodgers for Mota, LoDuca and Encarnacion, I could not believe that the Marlins gave up that much value for a reliever, a singles hitting catcher, and a barely .300 obp corner outfielder. Unfortunately, Beinfest seems to be applauded for the move and DePo seems to look like a fool. Jayson Stark(shouldnt he know better by now?) has the Marlins as the biggest winners and the Dodgers as the biggest losers at the deadline. According to Starks article, Penny is a #5 starter and Choi a platoon guy, while the got the best setup man in the league, "one of the best" catchers, and a "starting" rightfielder. As a huge Marlins fan I've been frustrated by their lack of offense all season, and now we gave up our 3rd best hitter, our BEST pitcher, and a decent pitching prospect for crap. As much as people think performance analysis is taking over baseball, its not even close, and as a huge Marlins fan, i have to tip my hat to DePosdesta for realizing who to take advantage of. Larry Beinfest made this trade because the Marlins won the World Series last year and he honestly thought he was ripping off some "Moneyball" guy who knows nothing about "real" baseball and team chemistry. Larry, if you are sitting at a poker table and you cant figure out who the sucker is, well then guess who it must be.
Christina Kahrl: I agree with much of this, Justin, but you're missing out on why Penny's not so extra-ordinary. I mean, A.J. Burnett's got nipple rings, and how cool is that? They're infectious.
The journalistic interpretation of these deals is nothing if not proof of how much work we have yet to do as a community, not just in the ranks of BP, but among all analysts. Penny's injury makes for self-indulgent clucking, but that isn't what you need to focus on. At the time of the deal, and in the years to come, this was a huge achievement for DePo (and not JP. Note to self: boot to the head).
NSGuy (nova scotia): Do you think that the Yankees and Athletics are the two best teams in the American League and will they meet in the playoffs?
Give me a prediction ...
Christina Kahrl: Why settle for the American League? The AL rocks, and the NL... well, that's where you find Seligs and Lindners. Ick.
As for meeting in the postseason, I'd like that. Payback's a bitch.
andrewfrance (Jax, FL): If Ben Oglivie (circa 1982) was available at the trade deadline, where would his best fit be?
Christina Kahrl: Speaking of Oakland, and reminding me of that '82 Brew Crew that was a joy for anybody who likes teams that club the opposition into submission... so yes, an '82 Benji would fit in quite nicely.
MPK (Woodbury): When does Kazmir hit the Rays rotation? When does Jim Duquette start to feel sick to his stomach about the deal?
Christina Kahrl: Well, I'm in WAG territory, but considering that it's the Rays, and they're not always as cautious as I'd like to think makes sense... how about the end of June, 2005?
As for Duquette, he should already be swigging Pepto. Those weren't scallops on the plate, and he just got fed Devil Ray. Whodathunkit?
Nano (Lancaster): Jumping on the bandwagon of questions about Brave's prospects, I have another one...What is the most impressive aspect about Jose Capellan, his 130/35 k/bb ratio, only 1 homer allowed in 115 innings, or the 98 mph heater he k'd Prince Fielder with at the Futures Game?
Christina Kahrl: I like the statistical combo myself, because that's the sort of thing that projects to a really exciting future.
It's been a while since we've seen Mazzone do something with rising talent: Capellan wll be a fascinating test case.
And this won't be the last time he strikes out Prince Fielder. : )
How about some quick questions, folks, as we rap this up...
GOOCH (Columbia, MO): Increasingly it has been noted that alot of what we consider 'pitching' is actually 'defense'. Given that, is it fair to look at only the offensive disparity between Bonds and Rolen? A big part of the success the Cardinals have enjoyed is because they have sinkerball pitchers who get hitters to hit groundballs...and Rolen is a big part of why that strategy is successful. Rolen is the best defensive third bagger in the game, and the best word to describe Bonds in Left is 'lackadasical.'
Christina Kahrl: Okay, as much as we are talking about two players, and one of them is an infielder who starts up the deuce well, in very general terms, we're talking about a guy who makes three plays per day at third base over a guy in left field who makes two plays per day, and the relative differences between them and adequate defenders. Not to take anything from what Rolen does afield, I think it's nuts to claim he adds so much defensively that it makes up for the monumental difference between Barry Bonds and the rest of the species at the plate.
mwagga (new haven, ct): It was a pretty mixed deadline bag amongst Boston, Anaheim, and Texas. Did anybody help themselves for the WC?
Christina Kahrl: I don't really think so. Texas needed to shore up the rotation, and they didn't. The Giants and Red Sox still relief help, and I don't think either are good bets to make it. Anaheim... they lack the desire to do anything about their problems at first and short, and the outfield is a bit of a jumble. I think their Gordian Knot was meant to be left tied.
Aadik (Boston): What kind of achievement will it be that the Giants have the best player in baseball, and the best pitchers, and are yet a good bet for finishing 3rd ? As I much I think the Giants won the Ledee-F-rod deal on talent, its akin to fixing a cold by trying to give the patient pnemonia- with the hope that penicillin will work...
Christina Kahrl: I forget, is it malaria that cures syphilis? The original Sir Richard Burton sorted that all out, but I'm inclined to avoid a fact-finding mission, and leave that for the realm of theory.
As for the Giants, I think it's a fair complaint that they failed to capitalize on having Barry Bonds. They tried, to their credit, but they failed. Beware any solution involving Brett Tomko...
On that note, I think that's it for today. Thanks to everyone for the great questions, to everyone who takes the time to write in to TA (you'll have one tomorrow, really), and here's hoping we all enjoy a great stretch drive.
Christina Kahrl: Happy travels, gang.