You could look it up, but why bother, when you can instead directly ask your questions of Steven Goldman, co-editor of the Baseball Prospectus annual?
Steven Goldman: Good afternoon, pals 'n' gals, pilgrims, fellow travelers, and seekers of wisdom and truth. Steven Goldman here to chat the afternoon away. Let's talk baseball, let's talk BP 2010, let's talk the best John Wayne movies and also the worst, and if you want to chat Pinstriped Bible or Wholesome Reading that's okay too. I'm just happy to be here. How you liking the book this year?
DanDaMan (Sea Cliff): Steve, I'm enjoying BP2010 so far, but noticed it seems a little edgier than usual. Your intro in particular seems to be a little harsh towards Bill James. And why does Brandon Inge get "points for toughness", but Jed Lowrie is "stupid" for playing through pain? Lowrie was trying to achieve his dream of making it to the majors while Inge was already there and could have rested knowing he'd still have a spot on the major league roster whenever he heeled.
Steven Goldman: There was no intention to be eddy; the authors said what they said and I don't try to impose my judgment on them beyond reigning in comments that are just inappropriate in some way, and that is a very rare occurrence. I will point out that there's a significant difference between Lowrie trying to hit through a wrist injury and Inge trying to play through knee problems. In the former case, there's not a lot of hope of it working out; in the latter at least the equipment works from the waist up.
Now let me say this about the intro and Bill James, because this also came up in a couple of Amazon reviews: I'm stunned, honestly. What I was trying to do was encapsulate the state of the "industry" (such as it is, or was) at the time that BP came into existence. It was not my intention to say anything critical about Bill, whom I revere. Without Bill pioneering this field, none of us would have these wonderful jobs that we have, where we get paid to watch, write, and talk about baseball. I know that my career got its start specifically because my first publisher was looking for another Rob Neyer, whose own career owes its start to Bill (my answer: "I can't be a second Neyer, but I can be the first Steven Goldman," and apparently that sufficed). Our debt to Mr. James is so obvious as to not need stating, certainly not in that place.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Could you give a quick snapshot of your thoughts on the near future performances of Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson, and Johnny Damon? Thanks.
Steven Goldman: If there was an offer from the White Sox, Johnny should have taken it, because he had a much better chance of continuing his park-generated power surge in Chicago than at Comerica, which really castrated left-handers last year. Granderson should benefit from making the opposite change of environment, though I don't expect him to be a 40-HR guy suddenly. Let's say consistency plus five to ten percent. Finally, I'm skeptical on Austin, who hasn't yet shown any power and who really slid off in the second half last year. He's interesting, but as we said in the book there's no evidence of his being an impact player right now.
kcboomer (KC): No question. I got my BP 2010 and whoever wrote the section on the Royals was right on the money about the growing disconnect between Royals fans and the front office and the reasons behind it.
Steven Goldman: Thanks. We worked really hard on the Royals chapter, and of course we make every effort to be evenhanded. I know we're supposed to be kind of hypercritical here, but if it feels gratuitous I know many of us feel uncomfortable. In the case of the Royals, that criticism is earned. I did a fun radio spot in KC yesterday where the questions where along the lines of "What do you think of Betancourt." "He's kind of lame, sorry." "Yeah, he is, isn't he?" "Yeah..." What else can you say if you have to be honest?
BrettG (Leftfield): After DiMaggio and Mantle (or Mantle and DiMaggio), who do you think was the THIRD best centerfielder in Yankee history?
My vote would go to the truncated CF career of Bobby Murcer, though I'm sure some younger fans might insist on listing Bernie Williams as the final member of the trinity.
Having witnessed both careers in their entirety, I think Murcer was foced to do some heavy lifting as THE MAN for some offensively challenged teams, while Bernie benefitted greatly from surrounding talent.
Would Meusel or Damon be in the discussion? If the Yanks hadn't whimped out on signing Beltran when they had the chance, the answer might have been differnt!
Steven Goldman: No respect for Earle Combs... Not that Earle is the right answer, it was just fun saying that. Without stopping the chat to carefully research my answer, my gut feeling is that Bernie has to be the third. Murcer is definitely in the picture, especially because his 1971 and 1972 seasons, when viewed in context are just AMAZING, huge, huge seasons. Our translated stats have them at .370/.456/.624 and .334/.400/.671. No one noticed. Unfortunately, Murcer just couldn't maintain that level of production, in part because the Yankees had to move over to Shea Stadium.
ehrose (New York): Got my 2010 BP and I havent come up for yet. Interestingly after looking at all the 2010 projections, it appears that Prince Fielder should be the #1 overall pick. Putting aside position scarcity for this moment, Prince's projected stats blow everyone away, even Sir Albert
Steven Goldman: At least it's not Matt Wieters, right? In all seriousness, sometimes PECOTA surprises even us, and then it's a question of trying to work backwards and see what provoked that projection. I leave that explanation to Clay Davenport, though the comparables and Fielder's age certainly provide a big hint. Given how good Prince was in 2007 and 2009, I don't think PECOTA is going out on a huge limb.
Paul (DC): Best John Wayne Movie's - Stage Coach (39), Ft Apache (48), The Quiet Man (52), The Searchers (56), and The Shootist (76). The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (62) not really a Wayne movie. Extracting John Ford from any calculation of John Wayne's peak is very, very difficult.
Steven Goldman: Paul, we already have a problem, because you left out "Red River," "Rio Bravo,"and "The Sands of Iwo Jima." I'd drop "The Quiet Man" too, but I know that's a sentimental favorite for many people... I'd love to see "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" remade with an age-appropriate cast. As good as Duke, Jimmy Stewart, and Lee Marvin were (underrated actor, Lee Marvin), Wayne and Stewart were much too old for their parts.
Richie (Washington): You insulted Bill James?!??! SHUN! SHUN! Wait, better yet, which storage shed do we have the torches and pitchforks in?
Steven Goldman: Kill the monster! Kill the monster! I've written some things in my time I thought would earn me some hostile reaction, but this one just took me completely by surprise, especially since I've been effusive in my praise of James in other places, not that I expect you guys to be conversant with my every piece of ephemera. I don't mind taking heat for something we screwed up, but getting yelled at for someone's inference of my intentions kinda burns me.
brianjamesoak (Alameda, CA): What do you think about a BP book project in which you solicit baseball questions readers want answered and then do a sort of BBTN 2 in which you focus on those questions?
Steven Goldman: I love the idea.
Tex Premium Lager (NJ): I don't want you to step on anyone's toes, but it's a bummer to lose Cone in the YES booth, isn't it? He was just finding his stride as a broadcaster last season. Now it's back to Singleton-Leiter and mute the rest of the games.
Steven Goldman: Cone was very good and I certainly regret his departure. I'm looking forward to another season of the rest of the guys, though, particularly Kenny Singleton, who should be better known for both his brilliant hitting and his great job in the booth.
Rob in CT (Andover, CT): So Damon gets 1/$8. At that price, I kinda wish the Yankees could have kept him. Similar to Abreu before him (at 1/$5, Abreu was a bargain). I like Gardner's defense and baserunning, but I'd be fine with it coming off the bench. And I can do without Randy Winn/Marcus Thames. It's too bad, since the park was such a good fit for him.
Steven Goldman: There's a lot that goes into this Damon vs. Gardner 'n' pals thing, and I think in the end it's a lot closer than most are making it out to be. First, there's no guarantee that Damon would continue to be able to hook balls down the line at Stade Yankee, nor, given his age, that his road production would stay in an acceptable place--the split was pretty severe last year, and as we pointed out in the book, there was some good luck on balls in play on the road. Then you've got his growing defensive problems, which encompassed not just throwing but routes. If Gardner can field like a displaced center fielder typically does and hit .275 with reasonable patience and a good number of steals, all of which seems pretty reasonable, this is going to take care of itself. And I can live with seven innings of Marcus Thames in 40 games, followed by a defensive sub. Winn wouldn't have been my choice... At least he's versatile.
JZirinsky (Washington, DC): Hi Steven. Liked your recent stuff on Wholesome Reading...anyway, my question is this: if the Yankees are serious about innings limits, then how is this 5th starter competition even a competition? Phil Hughes will only be able to throw a certain number of innings (i.e. not enough), while Joba has been stretched out and should be ready to contribute a bunch, right?
Steven Goldman: Thanks for the good words on Wholesome Reading.com. I'm happy to be back and talking history and politics, and there's a new section brewing that is about a month away that I'm kind of excited about. After last season's Joba implosion, the questions is to see if he can achieve consistency. Hughes also has a crazy high upside as a starter and you have to start the process somewhere, innings limits or not.
TheFlyingBernard (Acton, MA): How should Joe Pepitone's career be remembered?
Steven Goldman: He and his detractors would have you recall it for a lack of commitment that resulted in wasted potential, and maybe there's some truth to that, but I think that's overblown. He was a low-average power hitter with no patience--the guy drew 302 walks in 1400 career games, and nearly a quarter of them were intentional. How much potential was really wasted? He was Mike Jacobs with a better glove.
Richie (Washington): You unstated your debt in that place to Bill James?!? SHUN! SHUN! Leastwise till the torches and pitchforks get here. Doggoneit, where is he with those?! IGOR! I mean, EYE-GOR!
(no more, I promise)
Steven Goldman: No, no, keep it up. Apparently I deserve it.
Matt (Whippleville, NY): Going to answer any non-Yankee questions today?
Steven Goldman: Geez, ask me one instead of wasting time with snark.
HMGould (SoCal): When do the book chapters get assigned to their writers (i.e. before/during/after the season)? Every year I find myself wondering whether the job was to track a given team through the year and find the narrative as it unfolds, or to look back after the year and piece it together in retrospect.
Steven Goldman: It varies by the writer, but I think ideally we'll be doing more of the former this year.
mattymatty2000 (Philly): The best pitching staff top to bottom in baseball is ___. Thanks for the chat, Steven.
Steven Goldman: Thanks for dropping by, MM2K. I think I'm shopping in the Red Sox/Rays/Mariners aisle, and then going into the freezer section for the Cards and Phillies. Do I really have to pick just one?
Paul (DC): Got me on Red River. The Clift-Wayne dynamic is very well done. Rio Bravo is fun, but a "best" Wayne movie? (both Howard Hawks directed movies FYI) Wayne did get a deserved best actor nomination for Sands, but maybe I'm a little jaded on the tough sergeant cliche - though Wayne may have created the genre for film. (Besides Battleground is my favorite war movie from 49)
Steven Goldman: The ending of "Red River" is tough and not even Hawks loved it, but as he even asked in a couple of interviews, where else do you go with it? If they kill each other that's not a good ending either. I think you nailed with with "Sands," that Wayne defined a mini-genre there, and he does a good job of shifting from hardass to caring guy in the scene with the prostitute with the baby... "Battleground" is good, a bit underrated. I wonder if it would have gotten more respect if it had come from another studio. It was a Metro production, supposedly part of their move towards some harder edged films after L.B. Mayer was deposed, and sometimes it comes on and you see Van Johnson and Ricardo Montalban and you can't help but ask, "Isn't this a musical? Where's the part where Esther Williams jumps into a swimming pool?"
Aaron (YYZ): Are you expecting big things from any of the former bigtime prospects that haven't really done much in the bigs yet? Alex Gordon, Delmon Young, Jeremy Hermida, Others?
Steven Goldman: Kevin is still high on Delmon, an enthusiasm I don't share, but you have to respect Guru Goldstein's feelings about these things so I'm keeping an open mind. If you check out the Hermida comment in the book, which I wrote, you'll see that I had high hopes for him to break out in Boston, but right now it seems like the playing time just won't be there.
Tex Premium Lager (NJ): I will be picking up my BP2010 at the Yogi this Sunday, so forgive this question. David Wright: back on the superstar track in 2010? He certainly looks like a Brick S. House in those NY Post photos.
Steven Goldman: Thanks for bringing up the Yogi! I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that our tour activities kick off this Sunday. Kevin, Christina, Jay Jaffe, a fat guy with a beard... Who could ask anything more? We're going to be video-ing the activities, too, so bring your best questions, wear funny hats, bring a friend... We'll be in Manhattan the following evening. Check the events page for specific details.
I expect a rebound from Wright, whose problems seemed kind of reminiscent of the aforementioned Bobby Murcer's problems at Shea Stadium -- the park effects got him to think too much, change his swing, with subpar results. Murcer never quite got over it, something he talked about for the rest of his life. Wright has some advantages that Murcer didn't, like easy access to video -- I think he'll bounce back.
P Bu (St. Louis): I haven't seen the BP 2010 in stores yet: what in the world did you write about Bill James?
Now that Sheehan's gone, do you get a better parking spot at Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, LLC, World Headquarters, or does Goldstein take 2?
Steven Goldman: It's out there in the stores. I've seen it, smelled it, caressed it. All I said was that at the time that BP came into existence you couldn't get 24-7 coverage of baseball the way you do now - Bill James wrote once a year and then stopped doing even that, which contributed to the dearth of good coverage at the time. My failure was to not express proper gratitude for what he DID do, I guess.
Juanito (Memphis): Hey Steve--Wondering if you ever check out nomaas.org, and if you read through their interview with Brian Cashman? Some interesting comments, especially regarding the Randy Winn decision.
Steven Goldman: I did read it, and it was a very good interview, maybe slightly overscripted (that is, less give and take than might have been ideal), but I don't want to take away from what was a very good get and some very thoughtful questions. Cashman's rationale for signing Winn, that Reed Johnson's injury history disqualified him, that he needed reliability from his reserves, was well stated. I'm still not sure that Winn is the correct choice given that he's sliding down the other side of the mountain, but I can respect the thought process that went into it.
mattymatty2000 (Philly): I know you're not privy to the negotiations, but how would you handicap the Joe Mauer derby? I'm a Red Sox fan who's hoping he stays put in Minnesota.
Steven Goldman: There's a certain poetry to his being there, being a hometown guy and all, and as much as I'm sure every fan of every team would love to have this guy on their club, in some cases we experience a sense of loss when a player who is so integral to a team moves on. I've been asked about the Mauer negotiations in nearly every radio spot I've done the last couple of days, and the answer is, as you said, I don't have any special insight, but it really comes down to how Mauer values staying with the Twins vs. getting every dime he can possibly get. There's no wrong answer there.
Steve F. (Philly): A trifecta of questions:
1) Are you doing a signing/discussion of the book in Philly?
2) I liked your Phillies chapter and agree with it pretty much head on. But here's a longer-term question. The Phillies have, long-term, had (as described in a David Jordan-authored history of the team's title) "Occasional Glory"--surrounded by long periods of suckitude. Do you think current ownership has put the team in a position where it can be more like the Yankees than, say, the Pirates or the old Phillies--competitive for a long time, punctuated by a few down years?
3) What, no love for "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"?
Steven Goldman: I don't think we're coming to Philly this time around, though it's possible we could do an old-style BP Pizza feed there if there's interest. It's not so much that we were pretty much bodily thrown out of the UPENN B&N last year (something for which they expressed regret, it was all a misunderstanding, etc) as that the economy has just curtailed some of these activities. If you'd like us to come out, though, please let us know. It's not a crushing trip for me or Jay or even Clay, who has driven up in the past... I would have more confidence in the Phillies' seriousness if they hadn't made the Cliff Lee deal. They could have held on to him and been a lock to hold the division at the very least. Finally, "She Wore" and "Rio Grande," the other two cavalry films with "Apache" are both very good, especially some of the Monument Valley footage in the former. I always found Maureen O' Hara's wife in "Rio Grande" kind of unpleasantly naggy.
tommybones (brooklyn): Might I point out that John Wayne was a coward who chose to play a war hero from the comfort of a Hollywood studio while other actors put their careers on hold to enlist. His reason for not enlisting? It would be too hard on his family. You think? Good thing nobody else had families to worry about, right? Then he spent the rest of his life calling those against other wars, like Vietnam, a bunch of cowards. He "heroically" backed sending other people's kids into war zones. In other words, watching Wayne in a WWII film should make you sick, not inspired and certainly shouldn't generate talk of acting awards. End of rant.
Steven Goldman: I wanted to give this point of view equal time. There's a very good book by Gary Wills (who has written a crazy number of very good books) called "John Wayne's America," which gets into some of this stuff. I recommend it... Without getting into Wayne's personal decision, I will point out that, much as with, say, G.W. Bush or Dick Cheney, it is very awkward to make a career as a jingo when you've ducked out on military service. I guess with art it's a little easier to disregard that than it is with politics. You can look at the work and put the craftsman second. Was Walt Disney a right-wing, anti-union, red baiter? You bet. Was Errol Flynn an anti-semite? Seems that way. Do I like their work anyway? Yeah, I do. I just have to compartmentalize a bit... BTW, Vietnam aside, by today's standards John Wayne would not be a conservative. He was more thoughtful politically than he is generally given credit for being (you can see this in a number of interviews), and would be very much to the left of today's Republican party.
gerrybraun (Red River): "Stagecoach" was one of the greatest movie of all time. John Wayne was terrific in it, but so was everyone else, plus the direction, story and scenery. Hard to put many other films in its class, period. And by the way, since you like Cards pitching: what do you think of Kyle McClellan becoming a fifth stater?
Steven Goldman: Ever see the bad remake, with Bing Crosby? Nothing against Bing, who made some fine films... I like Kyle McClellan as a fifth starter more than I like Kyle Farnsworth as one. That said, his so-so control and low-ish strikeout rate sing middle reliever to me and suggest a guy who could have trouble getting through the lineup too many times. If anyone can make it work, though, it's Dave Duncan.
spf (Pecotaville): i'm poking through the Pecota cards and seeing a lot of the same names show up as comps--Carlos Beltran and Cal Ripken are two who have stood out to me. have you ever researched who are the "most-comped" players on Pecota are in any given year?
Steven Goldman: I didn't note any special ones this year, although thanks to Clay opening up the list of possible comps, there were first-time sightings of guys like Sam Rice, Bobby Veach, and Cecil Travis, which as an old-time baseball guy I loved. A few years ago, an obscure Reds or Cubs pitcher from the 60s kept coming up again and again. I'm blanking on his name just now, but it'll come to me...
garethbluejays1 (Newcastle, UK): Now that Roy Halladay will be playing for a contender and in a big market, will he be far more high profile and more likely to win a Cy Young?
Steven Goldman: He seemed pretty high profile to me, but maybe that's because as an AL East guy I was already seeing him fairly often. He should get more attention playing his home games here in the land of the brave and the free, and with better offensive support should run up a fairly good win total. He might have some park effect-type issues with the move, that's my only worry.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): Joe Nuxhall?
Steven Goldman: No, more obscure than Nuxhall, who was actually pretty famous for pitching in the majors at 15 years old. This was a guy where even I went "Who?" and "Why is this total nonentity suddenly analogous to every other pitcher this year." He came up once this year and I just cringed.
Functionary (DC Cubicle): "A few years ago, an obscure Reds or Cubs pitcher from the 60s kept coming up again and again. I'm blanking on his name just now, but it'll come to me..."
I believe it was Ernie Broglio.
Steven Goldman: Nope... Another guy who was pretty notable, this time for being traded for Lou Brock. I just took a moment to look but it's not coming to me. Man, that's gonna drive me nuts.
APBA player (wondering land): Hey Steven, thanks to you & staff for the great book, and thanks for the chat... Would you rather have 1)Nick Johnson & Desmond Jennings (or Ackley) OR 2)Chris Davis, Julio Borbon & Tim Alderson?
Steven Goldman: I like the first choice, definitely, especially if you're going long enough to give Jennings a chance to get into the lineup. I'm hopeful for Davis, a little worried that Borbon will not hit .300 again, and Alderson just skeptical of.
Pete (Bronx): How long a leash do you think the Yankees will give Brett Gardner? Last year he started out cold the first couple of weeks, and a Melky hot streak later, he had lost the CF gig. If Gardner is batting .190 on May 1st, will Joe Girardi let him ride out his slump?
Steven Goldman: I'm a little worried about this, that Girardi will be too tempted to embrace the veteran wonderfulness of Randy Winn before he's given Gardner enough rope. Knowing the Yankees, this could even happen before the season starts. Say Gardner hits .200 this spring and Winn hits .400. Then Winn is suddenly "back" on the basis of a few windblown Florida balls against Double-A pitchers. That's the one aspect of spring training that drives me insane.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): Two more tries- Don Cardwell or Dick Ellsworth?
Steven Goldman: Nope... I got it. It was Herm Wehmeier. Really.
sawred14 (Forked River, NJ): Do you have any kinda ETA on the pecota player cards being up online? a ballpark idea would be nice.
Steven Goldman: It's not my department, but consider the request passed along. I know the fellows are assiduously working on it.
Jack (Boston): Bing Crosby? Speaking of compartmentalizing...
It'll be good to see you guys back in Boston this year, even if I still don't know whether to thank you or Kevin for recommending Crazy '08 and The Glory of Their Times. Any recommendations on the baseball book front? I already bought my copy of the annual, I swear
Steven Goldman: Thanks for bringing that up... Kevin, Marc Normandin, and I will be appearing in Boston on March 15 and 16. I should mention Washington DC on March 9 as well. Once again, please see the events page. Re baseball books, I've become kind of picky. I've been working through Chris Jaffe's book on managers and will have a review up soon, though not sure if I'll write it up here or for the Pinstriped Bible. Given that some of the book is conceived as a response to a chapter in our Baseball Between the Numbers, I worry that if I review it here it will give the wrong message. I've also been working on the new bio of Paul Richards and really need to get back to that. Unfortunately, a small factual error at the very beginning put me off of it for a bit.
dandaman (Sea Cliff): Steve, don't get me wrong, I love your work and I'm not yelling (at the start of the chat). Just didn't like the way you seemed to imply that James "disappeared altogether after 1995." I mean Senior Advisor on Baseball Operations to the Boston Red Sox is a job all of you at BP would take in a heartbeat, no? Still disagree on Lowrie, but oh well. I don't even like the Sox.
Steven Goldman: Read it in context, please. His ANNUAL BOOKS disappeared altogether after 1995. It is very clear that that is what is being discussed there, not any other aspect of his life and career, and I'm certainly very happy for him that (much, much later) he went on to consult for the Red Sox. I appreciate that you're not yelling, but you know, I have to admit that I am kind of tempted to yell a bit.
ddanyc (NYC): Herm Wehmeier has to be one of the worst pitchers ever to have a 13-year career so I suppose he is a comp for every mediocrity who is around for his veteran presence.
Steven Goldman: And IIRC that's kind of how he kept coming up. PECOTA is a program, not a person, but sometimes it really does develop little tics, fetishes, and obsessions like a person would. Wehmeier was one of its passing fancies.
KerryFam4 (Lawrenceville): My favorite Wayne movies that haven't been mentioned yet are "True Grit" (of course), "The Cowboys" and "Angel and the Bad Man".
Steven Goldman: The Cohen brothers are remaking "True Grit" with Jeff Bridges, which is kind of neat, having another great actor taking on Rooster Cogburn. "The Cowboys" is underrated, and I find John Williams' score very moving. He cribbed bits of it for some of the quieter Kansas scenes in "Superman."
BL (Bozeman): Do you ever spend time thinking about the different eras in ballpark design and what they mean/meant in the game's evolution? Any thoughts you wouldn't mind sharing? Favorite ballparks from the various eras?
Steven Goldman: All the time. There are a few that would have been really interesting to watch a game or two in. The tiny, humped Baker Bowl -- even back in 1933, when no one had heard of park effects, people were saying the Cubs were foolish to deal for Chuck Klein and expect anything like the same production away from that park (and they were right). The U-shaped Polo Grounds. Griffith Stadium with those odd angles in center because they couldn't get the last homeowner to sell. Since we still don't have all the H/R splits from back then (keep it up, Retrosheet, and thank you!) we still don't have a full appreciation of just how much the stats of that time were affected by the parks, but of course they were.
collins (greenville nc): I'm fond of True Grit. Aside from Julio Franco, Moyer and the lot, which player do you think has least in the way of comparables? (I'm struck by this in seeing that Mauer's comps seem to be a lot of players WAY worse than him.)
Steven Goldman: Ichiro is a guy that PECOTA has always had trouble finding comps for - his index number last year was 17. However, as I said, Clay has expanded the possible universe of players a bit so I expect that it will feel a bit more confident in its list of comparables this year, even if it has to go back to Sam Rice to find one.
Karen (Toronto): When is BP2010 going to arrive in Canadian bookstores?
Steven Goldman: That's a question we've heard frequently, and I'm very disappointed to learn that you're still having trouble finding it. I really don't understand what the issue is and our publisher hasn't had a real solid answer on that either. There's no obvious reason. The drug-sniffing dogs at the border are reading them?
collins (greenville nc): Is there any thought at BP to adding to the BP store products like mugs, shirts, etc? I have a tee shirt from a few years ago.
Steven Goldman: I'd love to do more of that, and when Jay Jaffe came up with the new Prospectus Boxes graphic for the beginning of each chapter of the annual, I was quite vocal about wanting to have those as T-shirts, but the problem with being Steven Goldman is that you say a lot of absurd things and then you start to get these, "Oh, there goes Steve being all whimsical again." But tell me, those of you who have seen the books - wouldn't you want one of those with your team's stats on it? Jay did a great job.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Do you think Nick Johnson's power returns with the extra time to heal his hand and the park effects? If so, which is more influential?
Steven Goldman: Can we go with a third choice, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long? He's already been working with Nick the Stick to get some leverage back in his swing. If the lessons take, that, combined with the park effects, should help restore some pop to his bat.
Steph Bee (The SoCal Hideaway): With the simply "brilliant" signing of Chan Ho Park, how does the Yankees' bullpen shake out now? Does Ramirez get the ol' heave-ho from the roster? Could he be a trade chip at the deadline if the Yanks keep him away from scary lefties?
Steven Goldman: My critical take on Chan Ho: http://www.myyesnetwork.com/12478/blog/2010/02/22/chan_ho_monument_park. Don't think Edwar has much trade value. As we say in the book, his changeup is a thing of beauty, but he can't always get it over and that leaves him naked on the mound far too often for my taste...
...Which, um, is never. Did that come out right?
steve (NJ): Over under on Joey Votto's Homers this year: 29.5
Steven Goldman: Wait a sec... I'M Steve in NJ. There are two of us? I'm taking the over, not by a ton, and hopeful that he's completely past his problems of last season.
Wendy (Madrid): Have you ever wondered if BP is biting off more than it can chew? Are you guys better off being bought out by somebody else you'd have more resources to get things done in a more timely fashion? Or maybe charge $5 more for the book and $5 more a year for internet subscription. You guys have a great product, but it's obvious you're still a small company as nothing ever goes smoothly.
Steven Goldman: I don't think that's wholly fair. We offer a ton of content six and sometimes seven days a week, year 'round. We put out a massive book every year, plus other products besides. We ARE a small company, though growing, and there are occasional burps when we roll out something new, but the complexity of the product makes that something of an occupational hazard. Sometimes these toys just have to be play-tested. Let me also say this: you ain't seen nothing yet. We are in the process of vastly improving our presentation in so many areas. You'll see those changes begin soon and I think you'll be very pleased.
Shaun P. (Medway, MA): Hey Steven - it is possible the Bill James thing is generational? I read your intro and knew exactly what you were talking about, but I also remember when I couldn't find any new Bill James books in the bookstore every spring. Someone born in, say, 1988, probably doesn't.
As for baseball - Mo-Marte-Park-Robertson-Joba/Hughes are set; if Girardi insists on a second lefty (I hope not), how do the Yanks fit in both Aceves and Gaudin? It'd be silly to let Gaudin go, or send Aceves to Scranton, right?
Steven Goldman: I think you might be right about the BJ thing, Shaun. That's one of the reasons I began that section by saying, "When I was growing up..." Today you can look at Amazon and see a book's release date. Back then, you had to almost literally haunt the bookstore asking anyone who happened by, "Is it out? Is it out?" Unless you were Bill's next door neighbor or something you really had no idea. This was true of all the preseason stuff. There was this feeling of thwarted anticipation that I was trying to get at, a vacuum that the founders wanted to fill. That's all I meant. Thanks for putting it that way.
I feel like you do about Gaudin and Aceves. Both, especially "Ace," have better current and long-term upsides than Park. It's either one lefty or someone's gotta go. And don't forget, they still have Sergio Mitre in the mix for some reason, so he could squeeze someone out, too. I wouldn't normally have a problem with one lefty, btw, but that means Marte is going to end up pitching every day and given his recent fragility he seems unlikely to handle it.
k3o3r9n0 (CA): Really random, but who writes the little intro at the top of the chat introducing each writer? Is it a personal choice what you all want up their, or a decision from above?
Steven Goldman: That would be the effervescent Christina Kahrl. As long as she doesn't begin the next one with, "Meet a fat guy who wears his underwear on his head..." I'm okay with it.
frug (UIUC): Who will be the first manager fired this year?
Steven Goldman: AJ Hinch or Bud Black.
rogero (philly): What to make of Jordan Schafer? The severe contact problems indicate he wasn't ready last year. Or is it more than that? Is his porspect status fading fast at 23?
Steven Goldman: He wasn't ready and he was also hurt, trying to play through a wrist problem, which as we discussed earlier probably isn't the wisest thing to do. His future is still an open question, and if you can't outplay Melky Cabrera you really don't deserve a job. He's going to have to go back to Triple-A and show what he can do when healthy before he gets the chance to even try...
gabbymatt (NYC): What happened to Sheehan? Loved his writing. You and him were like Mantle &
Maris. Where can I find him?
Steven Goldman: Which one was Mantle and which one was Maris? Either way, I appreciate the compliment. You can find Joe in the forthcoming, "'Repent!' Cried the Baseball Man: The Best of Joe Sheehan" book we announced in Unfiltered a week or so back.
...That's not the actual title, but maybe it should be.
BL (Bozeman): Could you give me a few words on a favorite 'could've been' team, please? Some team from history that not a lot of people know about but which was very good and could have been great, except...
Steven Goldman: Sometimes someone will ask a question in a radio interview that begins, "Name five..." and my mind goes completely blank. I couldn't name five anything at that point. Name five fruits OR vegetables? Couldn't do it. Thus, though this is a question that I have thought about many times, at the moment I'm drawing a complete blank. I'll get back to this in a future YCLIU entry, because it's a fun one to play with. Two that DO come to mind: the 1922 Browns, a team that finished one controversial game behind the Yankees and had George Sisler, Urban Shocker, plus the fine outfield of Ken Williams, Jack Tobin, and Baby Doll Jacobsen. And how about the 1945 Senators, who finished 1.5 games behind the Tigers on a total of 27 home runs and a staff of knuckleball pitchers? Had Hank Greenberg gotten out of the service halfway through the season, they would have gone to the World Series.
Wendy: I know how you feel; no less so for us. If you ever have anything along those lines you want to raise by email, please don't hesitate to write.
collins (greenville nc): Pepitone's books was great, though, wasn't it? I read it at 12 and at the time it was responsible for most of my knowledge of sex.
Steven Goldman: As Bill James (long may he wave) wrote in the most recent edition of the Historical Abstract (Ten years on, think he's ready for another update?), it's a surprisingly frank book about his adventures in a hedonistic time. Worth reading if you can find a copy. ...I see Pep when I'm around Yankee Stadium sometimes, have shared an elevator with him on a few occasions. I can never think of anything to say...
adambulldog (Spring Green): Should the Yankees be thinking about rotating Montero and Posada at DH and C next year, with Cervelli for in reserve? Might they be thinking of such an arrangement for later this summer, after Nick the Stick gets injured?
Steven Goldman: I think there's a very good chance that something like that evolves through whatever combination of injuries rolls up during the season. Montero will have to put in some obligatory time at Triple-A first, and that makes sense given that he's coming off a broken finger and didn't get in much time in winter ball.
nick (sfo): I know it's early, but should I be concerned about the thought process that decides Kevin Gregg is worth a multi-million dollar contract? Can a thought process prone to such whimsies be successful in building a team to challenge in the AL East?
Steven Goldman: Give the man some time. The issue for the Jays isn't money management, not yet, it's building through the farm system, something that the previous administration couldn't do when it came to position players. The toll for Gregg wasn't terribly onerous.
Astoria Yankee fan (Astoria, Queens): Gardner...sleeper pick? I have him as a cheap keeper and wondering if it is worth keeping him....
Steven Goldman: I think whether he starts or not he should be a very valuable player, even as a 200 at-bat guy. I'm talking real world now, not necessarily fantasy, though in both he's going to get his stolen bases in.
Rick (Chicago): Call me crazy, but if we're talking top to bottom, I'd take the Reds pitching staff over the Cardinals. They have a ton of upside in their young guys in the rotation, particularly with Bailey's breakout at the end of last season. ANd while they lack the TOR guy those other teams have, they've got a lot of depth with Chapman impressing, Volquez on the mend, and multiple guys who pitched well in AAA last year. Oh, and their bullpen was #3 in the NL last year.
Steven Goldman: You might be right, but I don't trust that manager and that ballpark to properly nurture that staff.
Tex Premium Lager (NJ): Washburn and the Mets: Is an unreasonable Boras salary demand (is there any other kind?) holding up what seems like a great fit for player and team? Washburn's not great but I find it hard to believe he'll just retire when he can just find a nice big NL ballpark and munch some innings for a nice paycheck.
Steven Goldman: Did you ever think you'd seen an offseason where the Mets were so desperate it was constantly, "OMG!!! We might get Bengie Molina!!!" "OMG!!! We got Rod Barajas!!!" Jarrod Washburn is another banana from the same bunch, filler for a team that seems pretty certain to crash on the launchpad. You're right, though, that if there's a place where Washburn best fits it's in a situation like this one.
Steven Goldman: Friends, I thank you for spending part of your day with me and Baseball Prospectus. As always it is a pleasure and a privilege. Keep those comments on BP 2010 coming and I look forward to seeing you on the tour stops (Yogi this Sunday!) and here again soon.