Chatting from the pressbox in Wrigley before the game, Bradford Doolittle's inside the park, but taking your questions.
Bradford Doolittle: Full disclosure, folks. I'm not at Wrigley as advertised. The back-up of writing in my queue got to be too much, so I elected to stay home to play catch up. Which kind of stinks, because I really like being at the ballpark.
We're talking baseball today, but I certainly won't turn away any hoops fans. So let'em fly.
Ed (Cranford, NJ): Hi Brad
What do you think of Bud Norris this year? Will he stay in the rotation or move to the bullpen? Thanks
Bradford Doolittle: Looked good against the Cardinals yesterday. The Astros win! Norris has been a positive on team with a lot of negatives and has 66 Ks in 63+ big-league innings. I don't see him headed to the pen anytime soon.
mo (las vegas): Who hangs up first?
Ianetta for Bowden & Lars Anderson? Ethier for Ellsbury, Bowden & Lars? Posey for Ellsbury? Mejia & FMart for Bowden & Lars? thanks for answering
Bradford Doolittle: I think Brian Sabean gives you the quick hang-up on that one. He ain't trading Buster Posey.
Tom (Wrigleyville): In the pressbox at Wrigley on a Friday afternoon...only better place to be would be out in the stands with a nice cold one...I am jealous.
Bradford Doolittle: You got that backwards, Tom. The stands are always a better place to be. In KC, I'd always sneak out and watch from one of the numerous empty seats. Can't really do that at Wrigley. As for the beer ... goes with baseball better than anything, but that might get me in trouble when I head back in for Sweet Lou's postgame chat.
dangor (New York): Royals Fever! Catch it! I loved your old work on them. So I keep hearing how their ownership is smarter. So exactly how smart is a team that thinks Jason Kendall and Yuniesky Betancourt help form a strong middle core? And Gil Meche was worth signing to a huge long-term deal......
Bradford Doolittle: Royals fan in NYC. They're everywhere. Obviously, they're misguided in their thinking on those players, though not so much Meche. The brass there just values the wrong things, in my opinion. Latest example is Luis Mendoza, who was picked up two days before the end of spring training and four days later was brought in to protect a one-run lead in the eighth. Yeah, he's got a 94 mph sinker. He also doesn't have a track record of, you know, retiring batters.
You'll never catch me calling the Royals dumb because I know Dayton Moore and like the man and he's always been very good to me. I also know that he's not dumb. I just don't agree with the way he evaluates big-league talent. I have hope that he'll redeem himself when some of his pitching prospects hit Kansas City.
Warren (Omaha): Why are you opposed to corporations?
Bradford Doolittle: Hum. I suspect that's a fake name. Anyway, I've got a couple of these questions in the queue. I'm not getting into that here, but I'll just say if you really want to debate that topic, click the email contact link at the end of one of my articles and I'll be happy to discuss. I promise to be open-minded.
Joshua (Austin, TX): Do you think Ekpe Udoh would be better off staying at Baylor another year? I think he needs to stay and work on finishing around the rim, as a 6-11 player making only 50% of his twos is not that impressive.
Bradford Doolittle: I think Epke has yet to sign with an agent, so he could change his mind. I think he should. As you say, he needs a lot more polish on the offensive end and his college career has been disjointed because of the transfer from Michigan. Plus, he could team with Baylor recruit Perry Jones to form a frightening front line AND LaceDarius Dunn announced he was coming back for his senior season. That said, Udoh is getting a little long in the tooth for an NBA prospect.
kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Is there any AL that would take Soriano as a DH? How much of Soriano's salary would the Cubs have to eat to make it happen?
Bradford Doolittle: I don't think the Ricketts family has an appetite that big. Soriano has four more years at $18 million left AFTER this season. The best the Cubs can hope for is another team sours on a player in a similar salary range and wants to trade problems. The crowd is really down on Soriano because of his lackluster defense. Piniella pulled him a couple of days ago mid-inning in a double switch after he'd butchered a couple of fly balls. He didn't mean it to show up Soriano--he was just double-switching--but it made for an ugly scene for Soriano to endure. Just a bad contract the Cubs are likely stuck with.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): I'm a Cards fan, but attend at least a handful of I-Cubs games every summer. It's pathetic how few real prospects have come through Des Moines in recent years. And the few decent players that come here, the Cubs get rid of - McGehee, Fox, etc. Not really a question, just a rant.
Bradford Doolittle: In general, fans in AAA cities get the short end of the stick in terms of getting a good look at an organization's top prospects. It varies by team, but, to me, it's the least interesting level in baseball.
RMR (Chicago): Hopefully the rain holds off for us today here in Chicago... what do you make of the non-Cardinal teams in the NL Central? Do any of the Cubs, Reds, or Brewers have a realistic shot at the wild card?
Bradford Doolittle: My projection system generated the following playoff possibilities for those teams: Cubs 24%, Reds 14%, Brewers 13%. Milwaukee's pitching doesn't look very good to me at all and if Trevor Hoffman continues to struggle, they're really in trouble. I like the Reds' upside best of that trio of teams, especially in their starting rotation.
Trey (San Diego): Everyone lauded Jack Z. for ripping off Jim Hendry and the Cubs by unloading Carlos Silva and getting Milton Bradley. What say you after two weeks? Looks like Milton is just waiting to explode and ruin the clubhouse. Maybe he just is not that good. Oh, let me remind you, Seattle gave the Cubs a few million on top of everything else.
Bradford Doolittle: They would have traded Bradley for a case of Old Style to whomever chipped in a little cash. Getting Silva is neither here nor there. Bradley had to go and there is no one in Chicago shedding any tears over his departure. That said, the Cubs' lineup is decidedly ordinary in the middle. When Derrek Lee sat out the other day, Xavier Nady batted cleanup--with a righty on the mound. I know clubs overrate chemistry and believe me, they spend a lot of time worrying about it. But Bradley is in a class all his own. For what its worth, I've always found Bradley to be articulate and polite, if not exactly outgoing. The guy just has no impulse control.
kcboomer (kc): GMDM is terrible at evaluating big league talent. And his stocking of the minor leagues is rather poor too. For all the praise he gets for the young arms he has stock piled it will be 2012 before any serious pitching reinforcemnents arrive (Crow in 2011). And there isn't a single position player in the minors who has done anything above A ball.
So what does this guy have going for him?? The ability to stay hired??
Bradford Doolittle: I feel your pain, but I think it can happen a little quicker than that. Crow can reach KC by the end of this season. Montgomery has the Carolina League mismatched, so he'll be in the Texas League before long. If he excels there, he can compete for a big-league job next spring. Can't argue in Moore's favor when it comes to position prospects. It's a big season for him in that regard.
BL (Bozeman, MT): Bradford, great post on KCSportsRadio.com today about the Royals' bullpen. Two-parter: do you see bullpen management in general moving away from specialization any time soon, and what short-term fix do you see for KC's bullpen, other than burning it down and starting over (after Soria)?
Bradford Doolittle: This year's pen can tread water if Cruz can become more consistent. His stuff still seems filthy to me. I'm looking forward to seeing Blake Wood come up after what I've heard about him following his conversion to relieving.
Seems like bullpen management moves more towards specialization with each passing season. For awhile, it seemed like the majority of managers were reluctant participants in that sea change. Now the managers I talk to refer to the importance of relievers having specific roles like it's always been that way. I have no evidence to make the claim, but I think the next pitcher-use revolution will involve an enterprising and brave skipper/gm combo going with a four-man rotation & strict pitch counts in the 85-90 range. It just makes sense to me to try something like that, but who has the cajones?
BL (Bozeman, MT): If you were running the show at Oregon, who would you (realistically) target for the head MBB job?
Bradford Doolittle: OU has wasted a lot of time by NOT being realistic in it search, thinking Phil Knight's $$$ would make knees buckle all over the coaching landscape. Now, I think it'll end up being someone like San Diego's Bill Grier or P.J. Carlesimo. Yeah, not that exciting. Coaching salaries have become so bloated that guys just aren't leaving strictly for the dough.
Paul (Dallas): Do you think the Rangers will consider moving CJ Wilson back to the bullpen considering their bullpen is very thin and their SP is deep?
Bradford Doolittle: If Wilson keeps pitching the way he did in his first start, no way he goes back to the pen. This has a chance to be the best Texas rotation in a long time, so I don't know that you mess with that. Thin bullpen or not, Rangers fans have to be excited to see Neftali Feliz closing games. Nasty, nasty young pitcher. If you've got the front and the back of a staff covered, astute teams find solutions for the middle.
BL (Bozeman, MT): KC's 13-man bullpen: unimaginably ridiculous, or onto something?
Bradford Doolittle: 13-man staffs are an abomination. BTW, the Royals designated Roman Colon for assignment today and called up Josh Rupe, another Texas castoff. Bullpen problem solved!
LindInMoskva (DC): << going with a four-man rotation & strict pitch counts in the 85-90 range. It just makes sense to me to try something like that, but who has the cajones?
What risk is there for the Nationals last year or the Astros this year? It isn't like the manager can do any worse, or that a phenom's career will be ruined. If Norris, Oswalt, Wandy, and Myers put up good numbers in a 4 man then the manager will be labeled a genius. If it fails, then there wouldn't be much to lose.
Bradford Doolittle: I don't think a fundamental change in the way starting rotations are managed can begin at the big-league level. It's got to be an organizational shift that begins in the lower levels, where pitchers are often piggy-backed anyway. I agree with your sentiment, though. Teams are too risk-averse these days.
BL (Bozeman, MT): How does Colon, who Hillman/et cal was smitten with a month ago, get released while Mendoza, who's never really gotten anyone out anywhere, remain employed?
Bradford Doolittle: Chances are that Colon will end up back in Omaha after clearing waivers. Mendoza is out of options and--I guess--is a higher risk of getting claimed. Just like NBA teams keep seven-foot stiffs, bad MLB teams keep guys that throw hard but can't pitch because, well, they throw hard. Also, the 94 mph that I keep quoting on Mendoza is from scouting reports, but I checked his pitch data and he's more in the 91-92 range, which makes it even worse.
BL (Bozeman, MT): What would your ideal timeline for Crow, Montgomery and Melville look like?
Bradford Doolittle: I already mentioned Crow and Montgomery, so I'll touch on Melville. He's behind the other two because despite terrific stuff, he's got inconsistent mechanics (according to his scouting reports) and the result is shaky command. It's not "Wild Thing" type command, but it's an area in which he needs to progress before taking on high levels--2012 may be his ETA; if the control starts to click, he'll move fast.
Bradford Doolittle: Well, that hour went fast. That's all I got today. I've got to dive back into my NBA playoff previews. Hop over to the hoops side of Prospectus to check those out. Thanks for all the questions and I'll talk to you again soon.