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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday June 28, 2010 2:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.

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Jay Jaffe's sure to hit, but he won't run, let alone hide, not when he has a chance to chat with all of you.

Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and apologies for the delay in getting started, but I'm delighted you're here now.

Ken (NY): There has been some serious instances of pitcher abuse in the last week or so - Niese coming back after a 90 minute rain delay, Jackson throwing 149(!) pitches in his no hitter, and Broxton throwing 48 in a single inning in last night's meltdown. Isolated incidents or disturbing trend?

Jay Jaffe: That's a good question. There's also Hiroki Kuroda pitching after a 2 hour-plus rain delay recently. It might be a backlash against some of the rules of thumb we've been hearing about pitch counts, but every year it seems we get some of these outliers. I'm sure we'll all be watching closely to see if the pitchers involved are the worse for wear.

Dan (Maryland): Orioles fan. Nobody in the majors is performing. Nobody in the minors is performing. I know they won't always be this bad, but realistically, when is the earliest they could contend? Last year pundits thought it was 2011/2012, but now that seems ridiculous. Will I have to wait until a salary cap is implemented or Angelos sells the team?

Jay Jaffe: This has been pretty much a lost year, as just about all of the key youngsters on whom the Orioles' future hinges has taken a step backwards - Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman... In retrospect, I think the team waited too long to pull the plug on Dave Trembley, because the situation has just festered, but keep in mind the Orioles' poor standing also has to do with the fact that the other four teams in the division are especially strong; the O's are 8-25 (.242) against them, which is worse than the 1962 Mets' pace.

In terms of contention, I think a lot depends upon whom they hire as a manager. Buck Showalter might be able to get them playing respectable baseball by sometime next year, but contention will take some front office smarts, and I'm not sure the guy who signed Garrett Atkins need apply.

Joe (Altoona): Think Ryan Doumit has any trade value? Does a Doumit for Matt Moore swap interest the Rays at all?

Jay Jaffe: I like Doumit, and while he has yet to recover his 2007-2008 form, yes, he's got some value even as a .257/.336/.405 hitter. That said, you're barking up the wrong tree as far as hoping for a deal with the Rays, as they've been carrying Navarro, Shoppach and Jaso for a good portion of the year, and are pretty set behind the plate.

David (CT): Jay, Jack Morris isn't actually going to get elected to the Hall of Fame one of these years, is he? The Legend of the Guy Who Pitched to the Score is even more specious than the Legend of the Feared Hitter. The wave of great pitchers reaching eligibility in the next few years will be sufficient to hold off his charge, right?

Jay Jaffe: Morris has been above 40 percent on three of the past four BBWAA ballots, and if you look at where Bert Blyleven was after a decade on the ballot, Black Jack is only 3.7 percent behind at 44.0 percent. That said, Byleven got a real push from the grassroots internet supporters, of which I'm a card-carrying member, and gained another 25+ percent. Morris doesn't seem likely to get that anytime soon.

Save Alex Gordon (Trapped in Omaha): Alex Gordon is hitting 338/457/597 with 11 homers and 6 steals (7 attempts) in 201 at bats. Is this a service time ploy or are the Royals really *this* stupid?

Jay Jaffe: Everybody likes to point out how well he's hitting in Omaha, but how's his progress in left field? The Royals seem pretty committed to making him an outfielder; then again, they seem pretty committed to lots of things that never come to pass. I suspect we'll see him once the swap meet starts and Dayton Moore gets around to trading Scott Podsednik or Al Cowens or whomever they've got running around in left. I mean, Moore has to be careful -- he *really* wants to get a good C-grade prospect for Podzilla, so timing is key.

Timo Seppa (Somewhere north of you): Jay, as I know you've been watching more soccer than baseball over the past few weeks, thoughts on the officiating in the World Cup? And the eventual winner is...?

Jay Jaffe: Hey Timo! Yes, I've been watching plenty of World Cup, and I haven't been shy about sharing my thoughts on the officiating, which makes MLB's problems seem minor by comparison. It's ghastly awful, particularly now that they're even moving to prevent controversial replays at the sites as they don't want to make themselves look even worse.

On a certain level I understand the philosophy behind keeping the game the same from sandlot to stadium, but when easy technological solutions are available to prevent miscarriages of justice such as what happened yesterday to England, then there's really no excuse not to implement them. At the very least, every goal or near-goal should be reviewed to check that it crossed the line and that the guy was onsides.

As for who wins, my money's on Brazil, but I'm kind of rooting for Uruguay, having enjoyed what I've seen of them.

stately (atl): what do you make of carlos santana's hot start? at first glance, anyone could do this well in so few ABs. at second glance, he has almost twice as many walks as strikeouts.

Jay Jaffe: He's off to a tremendous start, but I don't expect him to put up an 1100 OPS. That said, he's got a great batting eye, and has more walks than strikeouts in each of his past three minor league seasons. He's also mostly been batting in front of Austin Kearns, who's been slumping, so i'd guess it's a case of a hot hitter being pitched around, at least some of the time.

The Flying Bernard (Acton, MA): I'm kind of rooting for Uruguay too, if only because they are the underdog from a population standpoint. Only 3.3 Million people live there.

Jay Jaffe: Exactly. Plus I loved Montevideo when I visited last year. Loved Buenos Aires too, but I have a hard time rooting for Maradona.

The Flying Bernard (Acton, MA): I'm kind of rooting for Uruguay too, if only because they are the underdog from a population standpoint. Only 3.3 Million people live there.

Jay Jaffe: Exactly. Plus I loved Montevideo when I visited last year. Loved Buenos Aires too, but I have a hard time rooting for Maradona.

MSTI (NYC): Admit it: Joe Torre makes you yearn for the glory days of Grady Little, doesn't he?

Jay Jaffe: Nope. He frustrates me at times, particularly the way he can burn through relievers, but he's still one of the better managers in the majors, less from a tactical standpoint than from a leader-of-men one, and I think he does a pretty decent job with what he's got in LA.

Professor Thom (East Village): How good is Robinson Cano at baseball?

Jay Jaffe: Very, very, very good.

A couple of weeks ago I was hanging out watching a Yankees game with my friend Alex Belth of Bronx Banter, a great Yankees blog. We were marveling Cano's stat line - "Dude, he's hitting .370!" - when Alex, who's not really much of a stathead, asked me, "Is there a way you can quantify how locked in he is right now?"

I thought for a second, and then replied. "Yeah. HE'S HITTING .370!" Cracked us both up.

Sigmund (Chicago): I had a startling self-revelation over the weekend. Ok, I'm 40 and perpetually unmarried, largely because I am both initially drawn to women with high drama factors and then eventually repelled by the drama. So, as a cub fan, my favorite player has been Carlos Zambrano. High drama factor, eventually the drama becomes a liability. Granted I never had 40 milion future reasons not to call a realtionship quits, but it's dysfunctional, and we really should, right? Maybe I should become a rays fan, that BJ Upton guy looks pretty interesting...

Jay Jaffe: Poor Sigmund, you're already at it again given the drama that has surrounded Upton for the past couple of years. Can I suggest lowering your sights and finding a favorite player who will avoid the drama? The Lyle Overbays of the world need fans, too.

redsoxin2004 (Columbia, CT): Would you rather have a Ron Guidry type career, short with multiple Cy Young caliber years, or Jamie Moyer, okay to good for a long, long time?

Jay Jaffe: Me, I'd rather have the Moyer path, because I think that if I had the talent to play in the majors I would hang on as long as I can and wring every last drop out of my ability. That, plus I've always enjoyed the elder statesman role in certain situations.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): The way I see it, there's about 10 or more contenders that could use middle infield help. Cristian Guzman, for all his flaws, hits better than most current solutions in Boston, TB, Minn, Detroit, NYMets, Cinci and all but about 3 hitters on San Diego, to name a few teams. Do you think the Nats will finally be able to move him?

Jay Jaffe: The problem is that Guzman's making $8 million this year, so Washington's going to have to pick up a good chunk of the remaining bread in order to get anything of substance back for him, and even then, the fact that he's probably not going to be a Type A free agent and generate much in the way of compensation lowers the level of attraction for the team acquiring him as well. I do think there are potential fits out there - the Mets and Tigers, especially, and maybe the Bosox too now that Pedroia's down.

Patti (Virginia): Tell us something we don't know that would make Orioles fans happy.

Jay Jaffe: Well, the O's haven't gotten a single homer from their first basemen this year, though Scott Moore did hit a pinch-homer and then take over at first.

So you'd have to figure they can look forward to getting more homers from their first basemen for the rest of the year than they've gotten to date, right?

caseyj15 (Medford, Oregon): Where does Jon Lester fit into the discussion of being one of baseballs finest hurlers....?

Jay Jaffe: He might be a top five guy. Taking more than just half a season into account I'd put Halladay, Lincecum, and Lee above him, and maybe Josh Johnson as well, but there aren't a whole lot of others who definitively belong above him.

Silv (NY, NY): Closer in a non-save situation (I know, I know - but still) the night after he appeared in a game, letting said closer: (i) blow the game; and (ii) throw almost FIFTY PITCHES when it became clear that he wasn't up to snuff that night. What the HELL was Torre thinking?

Jay Jaffe: Man, I don't know, except that Broxton has been so good this year (0.87 ERA before last night) that Torre may have wanted to give him enough rope to get out of the jam himself, and that he didn't like the options he had upon removing him, as neither Troncoso nor Sherrill have pitched well this year.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): By happy coincidence, I daydreamed a question for you not more than a day ago, and here you are. Not that I'm trying to sneak in the backdoor, but do consistent players get any sort of boost in the public's estimation of their HoF chances, and should they? I think here of a Jack Morris. Even though his heights were more very good than HoF, his workmanlike consistency--on top of being relatable and making him seem like a good guy--kept Tigers fans from a lot of crappy starts from a more up and down pitcher. I wonder if consistency (if it could be defined) would ever end up having a predictive value on eventual election. Thanks for suffering a long question, Jay.

Jay Jaffe: Consistency is pretty difficult to quantify, except perhaps in the way it enables players to accumulate the benchmark stats that most of the public regards as constituting "a good season." I think of Steve Garvey rapping out his 200 hits, 100 RBI and .300 batting average every year and how highly esteemed he was in his day, and yet how far his star has fallen in light of a more modern statistical reckoning. But then I also think of guys like Blyleven and Don Sutton who were pretty consistent on some levels but didn't rack up the 20-win seasons that some of their peers did, and aren't held on the same level as them even if they may have been more valuable.

In the end I suspect peak value holds more sway on the public's estimation of a potential HoFer, because people tend to remember the high points, the outliers, the things that break pattern rather than the pattern itself.

johnsond16 (Wherever you find yourself; there you are): No Ubaldo in the top 5? Not that I'm arguing with the top 5 of Halladay, Timmy, Lee, JJ and Lester. Picking five is difficult; if not impossible.

Jay Jaffe: I'm as big an Ubaldo booster as you'll find, been touting him for years as underrated and I'm delighted to see him doing what he's doing. If we're talking 2010 stats, sure he's a top fiver, and might even be the Cy Young winner if he can avoid falling apart in the second half. But if you're taking a larger sample into account, you might want to put guys like Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter ahead of him. Maybe Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez as well.

OK, here's one way of looking at it: 20008-2010 ERA+ leaders, 300 inning mininimum: http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/V8Caz. Ubaldo is 11th behidn all fo the guys listed above plus Johan Santana, who's really starting to show some wear and trending downward. So Ubaldo: top 10 for me unless we're specifically limiting the discussion to 2010 only.

stately (atl): given that terrifying stat, can't they try wieters at 1B to see if it breaks him out of his slump? surely they can get a wietersesque batting line out of their backup catcher...

Jay Jaffe: Bench somebody so you can get Craig Tatum's bat in the lineup? Ew. That's absolutely the wrong way to go about developing Wieters, because his value is going to be as a very good hitting catcher who can actually catch as well. It's taking longer than most talent observers thought, but it's hardly out of the question that it will come together.

frank (vegas): They shoot pirates, don't they? Anything to look forward to with the 2010 Bucs so I don't do the same?

Jay Jaffe: Well, Pedro Alvarez is up, and while he's off to just a 4-for-35 start, he should be good enough to stick in the majors once he gets his bearings. Neil Walker is taking to the majors as well, and that's worth something, too. I'm less optimistic about Jose Tabata and Brad Lincoln, but they're not hopeless. Andrew McCutchen is a damn fine ballplayer and Lastings Milledge is coming around. It's going to get better. Not immediately, but they're on the right track.

Phil (NYC): Reimold, anyone?

Jay Jaffe: He'd be a decent first base solution if he weren't DOA in Triple-A with the stick. .209/.291/.299 doesn't suggest he'll help much.

Omar (Chicago): How much of the White Sox streak is interleague smoke and mirrors? Will they fall back into the intraleague hole?

Jay Jaffe: Definitely some of it, as they went 15-3 vs. the NL compared to 24-32 vs. the AL. But they did sweep the Braves along with the Nats and Pirates, and that's something. They've still got far too many offensive holes to contend, from where I sit, so I suspect they'll level off from their recent form.

huckyoda (NYC): Are you as surprised as I am that Edwin Encarnacion cleared waivers?

Jay Jaffe: No. Teams hate his defense, probably don't like his low batting average, and are concerned with his various injuries. Not a mystery why he'd slip through.

Jay (Orlando, FL): Where do you think Cliff Lee will end up?

Jay Jaffe: Hmmmmm... Shooting in the dark, I'm going to say the Twins or the Tigers, with an edge probably going to Minnesota. They've been willing to spend money this year with the new ballpark, and seem as though they'd like to push even further.

Patton1941 (NYC): Interleague play is over and the AL won 16 more games. How much of this is the AL dominating the Astros and Pirates (25-5) and to a lesser extend Washington and LA (24-9), versus simply being better? 8 of 16 NL teams had a winning record during interleague play compared to 6 of 14 AL teams.

Jay Jaffe: The interleague split was a lot closer this year than in previous years, and you're right, a few of the worst teams (excepting the Dodgers) bore the brunt of the AL's wrath. Still, any consideration as to where the leagues are in relative strength would have to account for multiple years of data given the small sample sizes, and so I'd say that while the NL closed the gap a bit, they remain the inferior league.

Peter (San Diego): Almost halfway through the season, is it safe to say that Ben Zobrist is a very good player and not the very GREAT player we witnessed last season? 5 homers and a .414 slugging so far...

Jay Jaffe: Yes, I think it's safe to say that. While I don't entirely dismiss what Zobrist did last year as a fluke - he remade his swing, with impressive results - it's clear he's not immune from some serious regression to the mean. Luckily, he's not a one-dimensional player, so he brings plate discipline and versatility in the field even if he's not matching last year's 27 homers and .543 SLG.

jlarsen (Chicago): Boston seems to be dealing with an insane amount of injuries this year and the injuries to Pedroia(broken bone in foot), Victor Martinez(fractured thumb) and Clay Bucholz(minor hamstring tear) seem a bit more drastic than the injuries to Beckett, Cameron, Hermida, Ellsbury and Dice-K. They've managed to survive the earlier injuries, however I've got to say the downgrade of Pedroia to Eric Patterson will take a huge chunk of Boston's offense away. If Clay Bucholz or V-Mart see DL time, Boston may be in for some major problems. What are your thoughts?

Jay Jaffe: The Sox have endured a wave of injuries that's almost biblical in proportions, but I'm not sure what's happened this week is somehow worse except that it's just piled on top of some other unresolved situations. Buchholz's injury doesn't sound terribly serious, at least not as serious as that of Beckett, who has one start since May 7 and really hasn't been right all year. Pedroia's injury is more straightforward than Ellsbury's was. The team has solid resources for trading, and they'll use them, whether it's to find a catcher or an outfielder or a second baseman or some combo of the above to get them through this latest crisis. I think they'll be OK.

myshkin (Santa Clara, CA): Who's most likely to break into that top ten over the next few years? Okay, Strasburg is probably the winner there, but what about Gallardo, Hughes, Kershaw, Liriano, Danks, Weaver, Garza, etc.?

Jay Jaffe: I think just about all of those guys have a shot and are probably in the top 20 if they can continue what they're doing right now across another season or two. Weaver suddenly leads the league in strikeouts, Liriano's working his way back to ace status, Hughes has been the Yanks' go-to guy, Gallardo's taken a real step forward...

Adam (NY): Do you think Joe Girardi, grand architect of bullpens the past two years, can work some magic this season? At what point do the Yankees finally allow Mark Melancon (or Jonathan Albaladejo) to push Park/Logan out of the picture?

Jay Jaffe: I hope so, but right now I'm not terribly optimistic that they've got the solutions on hand. Albaladejo ain't it, and I'm skeptical Melancon's it either - they're going to have to go outside the organization to get an arm or two.

Peter (San Diego): Okay, it's late June and the Padres are in first place by nearly 5 games. Can we admit they're for real? Will they actually be in the playoff mix?

Jay Jaffe: This might be my next column, and while I'm tempted to say they're not for real, they've stuck around long enough that I'd better study them more closely before I say so more definitively.

Jay Jaffe: Okay, folks, that's all the time I've got today. Apologies for the late start but that was still two solid hours of questions. I'll be back soon enough to answer more of them. In the meantime, enjoy the games and the great content at BP!


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