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Chat: Steven Goldman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday August 04, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Steven Goldman.

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No need to look it up, Steven Goldman's going to be here and taking your questions on this very day!.

Steven Goldman: Good afternoon, fellow seekers of wisdom, truth, and snacks that are too high in carbohydrates. Steven Goldman here to talk baseball or anything else on your mind (any relationship problems I can help with?). As an added bonus, we have some daytime baseball to follow along with--as you would expect, I'm tuned to Blue Jays/Yankees. With tea and baseball on the boil, let's begin.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): How are you feeling, Steven? No muscles tearing off your thumb I trust.

Steven Goldman: I'm good. Fractured my ankle recently (the reason I missed the last chat) but got the cast off yesterday so I'm a happy guy. As for the Kevin Youkilis's thumb injury to which you refer, holy bad timing, Batman. The Yankees are faltering and the schedule delivers a four-game series that, with a good showing, could put the Red Sox back in the thick of things. Without Youk, their ability to take advantage is in doubt.

Frank Leja (Washington, DC): With the addition of Kearns the Granderson trade is now complete. How Bad a deal was it?

Steven Goldman: Kearns doesn't really help... He's one of those rare righties that can't hit lefties. The theory, I guess, is that he will be better than Granderson, who is mostly helpless, but since April he's hit .225/.303/.338 against them. In a world in which most every right-handed hitter is at an advantage against lefties, the Yankees found the one guy who can't, but I suppose when you narrow the choices to "right-hand-hitting outfielders who are also decent gloves" the list gets fairly short -- otherwise they could have just stuck with Marcus Thames. As for the deal, Austin Jackson has had a good year, but a weird one. His BABIP is well over .400. His line-drive rate supports that, I guess, but it's hard to believe he won't see some regression. If/when that happens, his peripherals don't support real production. This is a long-winded way of saying I think it's premature to judge the deal--we're looking at Jackson at his unrealistic best and Granderson at his unrealistic worst. Perhaps spared from striking out against lefties every few games, the latter will find some consistency.

minima (oy vey): yankees season officially over until october?

Steven Goldman: Heck no! They've tumbled in the standings. Until the Red Sox threaten their hold on the wild card, it isn't meaningful, but if the series this weekend goes badly for New York, things could get very interesting.

DanDaMan (Sea Cliff): Steve, who are your best bets for ROY in each league? Seems kind of wide open. Thanks, Dan

Steven Goldman: Sorry for the slight delay there, but Alex Rodriguez finally, finally hit #600. Not that I care that much, but maybe the Yankees can go back to winning now that one of their key players isn't constipated. Of course, it's already been one at-bat and he hasn't hit #601. Annnnyway, before he got blowed up yesterday, I would have said Jaime Garcia in the NL. I guess I'll stick with him, though (how do the Astros keep winning with that lineup? There has got to be a correction coming, right?). In the AL... the aforementioned Austin Jackson? The NL has a million candidates this year, the AL not so much. My pal Cliff Corcoran tracks the major award races in a weekly column at SI.com, so check that out for more.

Bob (Seattle): It appears that Jose Bautista is not a fluke, well, for this year at least. Any predictions for how much of the power is real and how much he'll regress next year? 25 HR?

Steven Goldman: This kind of thing has happened before -- I always think of Felix Mantilla in 1964 ("I just aim at that wall there? Really? That's legal? Okay!" Bautista's change is supposed to be the result of an adjustment to his approach at the plate, and while you'd think it would be transient, I sort of buy the idea that the guy had untapped talent, that he was defeating his tools with a bad approach. In New York, we've seen Nick Swisher change his stance this year and pick up 50 points on his batting average, another example of the benefits even a small positive change can make.

BillJ (New Mexico): Are Cicinnati's surprising signs of life this year evidence that some of the conventional wisdom about Dusty Baker's managerial transgressions may be wrong?

Steven Goldman: No... Bad managers have won World Series (whenever I say that, I see smilin' Bob Brenly in my head). If anything, the success of the Reds should serve as a reminder to temper our outrage at smaller managerial errors like batting orders, because the impact of those decisions are survivable. It's when a manager has two choices on his bench, Superman and Clay Bellinger, and he picks Bellinger, that we should get really exercised.

Gregjitsu (California): Does Buster Posey have a shot at NL ROY? He hasn't played as much as Garcia, but he's having a fantastic season at the plate, and pretty solid for a rook behind it.

Steven Goldman: Yes, I would think he does if he keeps it up. By the end of the year, the truncated playing time won't be as obvious. Man, if the Giants had just started the year with him instead of procrastinating over arb eligibility or whatever, they might be looking down at the Padres instead of up.

Jquinton82 (NY): I have a picture of Kyle Blanks on my milk carton, any update on the injury or when he's coming back?

Steven Goldman: Sadly, out for the year and perhaps a good chunk of the next with TJ surgery. Don't leave the light on.

achaik (Maine): Steven, as I sit here grinding through my last Friday of studying before the bar exam, I am looking forward to reading something non-law related for the first time in a long time. What baseball biographies would you say are the all time best? And has BP ever considered starting a "Books Blog" with staff reviews of new baseball books, and maybe a list of favorites others may have missed?

Steven Goldman: Congratulations on making it through law school. One hopes the job market will treat you well. If you don't mind me shifting the question slightly to autobiographies, I love and frequently return to Veeck as in Wreck (Bill Veeck), Nice Guys Finish Last (Leo Durocher, and just reissued), and Maybe I'll Pitch Forever (Satchel Paige). In common with all autobios, the authors skip or gloss the bad stuff and exaggerate the good, but the stories are so great and so well-told that you can live with that. If you want a straight biography, Robert Creamer's "Babe" on Ruth is very good, and so is Charles Alexander on John McGraw. Haven't read the new Mays or Aaron books yet. Finally, I will be crass enough to recommend my own "Forging Genius," on Casey Stengel. ...Christina and I discussed adding a books feature recently, but I imagine a lack of bandwidth for both of us renders that kind of a daunting task.

Don (Toronto): Hey Steven, I was looking at the stats of the 27 Yankees the other day and was dumbfounded by the lack of strikeouts by the pitching staff comparative to their low ERAs, is this a function of the era?

Steven Goldman: Completely. Batters were more contact-oriented back then. The '27 staff was not, even in context, big on strikeouts, being about average. They had several good-not-great pitchers, even if Waite Hoyt did make the Hall of Fame... You can't look at pitching peripherals for those years the same way you look at them now. Defense was so much more important to pitcher success than it is now, and it's important now.

Larry (Sarasota, Fla.): Steve, I enjoy your articles. My question is. Do you believe that Gardner could hit better if he loss some of his ppatience and be more aggressive? I watch AB after AB and Gardner will not take his bat off his shoulder until 2 strikes have been called. The Yankee patience is OK unless beautiful fastballs are hittable.

Steven Goldman: Thank you, Larry. I think the real issue with Gardner may be related to the wrist injury he suffered at the end of June. His current slump dates exactly to that point. However, even though he's hit about .220 since then, he has continued to walk so that his OBP for the period is a still-valuable .365. A more aggressive approach might rob him of his remaining value... Heck, people used to say the same thing about Ted Williams. My general feeling about this is that if you ask patient hitters to be more aggressive you stand to gain a lot more outs than you do hits.

Tom S (Albany): I know it is water under the bridge, but wouldn't it have still made sense to include Eduardo Nunez in the Cliff Lee debacle? I understand the M's kept upping the ante but do you think Nunez should have been a dealbreaker ? I don't.

Steven Goldman: I don't either. The only reason I can think of is that if there were some sort of catastrophic injury to Derek Jeter, the Yankees think Nunez could be plugged in and still give them a little punch at the position. He could, I guess... More than Ramiro Pena, less than everyone else?

Bill (NYC): As RiverAveBlues points out, today is the 2 year anniversary of Joba's shoulder injury (thanks Pudge). Why isn't it talked about more as a possible reason for what appears to be his diminished stuff? Everyone harps on his treatment from the pen to rotation (which indeed may be a factor if not the cause), but the injury gets a complete pass. His stuff starting was just as good as relieving pre injury.

Steven Goldman: We talked about it in the 2009 annual! See what you miss? The Yankees downplayed the injury at the time, which is probably why it has been forgotten by most. We may not know the whole story there.

Goose (Chicago): I cannot get anyone to answer this...On September 25, 1989 Andre Dawson hit one of the most bizarre inside the park home runs ever against Montreal. Despite Davy Martinez catching a deep fly ball, he came up injured on the play and was unable to enact a "voluntary and intentional" release of the ball, which is needed to record an out as stated in the MLB rulebook's definition of a catch. On Sunday, a similar play occurred when Dexter Fowler caught a deep fly ball off the bat of Alfonso Soriano. If you watch the replay, he never releases the ball as he is writhing in pain on the ground. In fact, the right fielder picks up Fowler's glove with the ball still in it and holds it while he is being tended to (see on MLB.com replay). Are you aware of this rule and should Soriano have continued around the base paths to score the game tying run?

Steven Goldman: ...Can I tell you how much I've come to dislike Firefox? I just don't know what to switch to. It seems like every browser has massive negatives. I like the idea of Chrome, but I've been told it swallows memory, and that's one of my big problems with Firefox... Goose, I love your question, but I'd want to look at some video before answering it. I will take the risk of an uninformed answer and say that the quality of umpiring is so poor, and we've seen so many misapplied rules (like the Don Mattingly thing recently) that I wouldn't be surprised if they just missed it.

Dave (Chicago): What do you think of Trevor Cahill's season?

Steven Goldman: That rant on Firefox must have seemed like a non-sequitur. See, I answered this question on Cahill, then finished by saying, "I think my browser is about to crash. Please give me a moment to restart." Apparently it took my answer with it. I'm quite enjoying Cahill's season, but I worry that he's going to regress, that his low, low BABIP is not just the result of a groundball-oriented approach but a goodly amount of luck. As a Tommy John fan going back to my misspent youth, I love this kind of pitcher as much as I do the strikeout artists, but very few of them are as consistent at it as TJ was. The sinker is just not an easy pitch to master.

Goose (Chicago): Thanks Steve, I appreciate the attempt at a response. I have never forgotten that HR by Andre Dawson as it is one of the most bizarre rules in baseball that I would guess most are unaware of. I am sure they missed it, but then again Soriano did too and headed back to the dugout.

Steven Goldman: I can only imagine the ensuing brouhaha would have been something like the Pine Tar game. If the umpires didn't know it, I guarantee that the managers didn't either. It's a shame, really. If you read about the old-time managers, like Billy Martin and Durocher, you come across a lot of arguments they won by quoting the rule book (they also got thrown out of a lot of games for doing the same). I don't know that today's managers aren't sitting up at night memorizing the rules, but I assume that they're not.

SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): Firefox consumes much fewer resources than Chrome does. But I love them both.

Steven Goldman: My problem with it is that over a day's usage it seems to consume more and more resources regardless of how many tabs you have open, and as it grows it becomes more sluggish and unstable. If Chrome doesn't do that, I can probably live with the resource consumption as my computer has an overabundance of brains, unlike me.

atlexile (Detroit): Atlanta's offense has looked utterly moribund since the break, and the Phillies are tearing through the NL sans Utley. Time for Braves fans/front office to start panicking?

Steven Goldman: I would like to see them call up Captain Marvel Jr, Freddie Freeman, and give him a shot instead of the dead-in-the-water Troy Glaus (last 40 games: .187/.325/.306). I guess they weren't about to bid on Adam Dunn, or didn't get anywhere when they did. I don't see too many big bats sliding through waivers, so they may be stuck with internal options and hoping that Rick Ankiel shows a little life.

Stevis (Arlington, VA): As an amateur umpire, let me chime in on the "voluntary release." I can't see the replay either, but if the RF takes the ball from Fowler, that's no different than if a ball had bounced off of one fielder and been caught by another--it's still "in flight" and able to be caught for an out. The "voluntary release" requirement transfers to the RF. I'm assuming on the Dawson play, the ball actually came free from Martinez at one point and hit the ground (though I have no memory or video to check on this.)

Steven Goldman: Does that cover it, Goose?

Gino Felino (Brooklyn): I know you lean toward the Yankee side of town, but what's next for the Mets? The core of Wright-Reyes-Beltran-Santana brought them only one deep playoff run. Put on your Omar hat for a second: Blow it up? Build around Wright/Reyes?

Steven Goldman: I won't put on my Omar hat because if I owned the Mets, Omar wouldn't have a head, which is to say that I'd probably make a change based on the Luis Castillo deal alone, never mind Oliver Perez. Castillo was an easy first-guess mistake, Perez probably had some chance of working out, not a good one, but a chance. Signing Jason Bay just to seem like they were doing something despite the poor fit was also a predictable misfire, and the panting pursuit of Bengie Molina just pathetic. In fairness to Minaya, we really don't know how much he's dancing on ownership's string, and it does seem pretty likely that all that Madoff business affected the club in some way. The farm system has been dead, and that's a big problem... If you "blow it up" but keep Wright and Reyes (which they should), what do you really have to trade?

Goose (Chicago): Fowler drops his glove on the ground and then Smith picks it up, he does not transfer it to Smith. I don't want to make this chat all about my question, but as you will see, Smith may have picked the ball up off the ground, it is unclear from this angle. http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=10523453

Steven Goldman: Let the debate continue!

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Hi Steve What kind of value do you think Dexter Fowler has going forward and next year? Thanks

Steven Goldman: I thought Fowler would be a little better than he has been. He's not a bad player given his batting eye, but he's not a great center fielder and he's going to need to get his batting average up to be a real regular somewhere. I see him as a fourth outfielder on a contender, something more on a bad team. Either way, he will be useful in some way, but there's no star potential here.

goldgarf (Denver): I recall seeing the play live on TV. Martinez did not take the ball out of his glove. He just lay on the ground in pain. The ball did not come free.

Steven Goldman: I might just sit back here and post these comments without saying anything.

Yatchisin (Thorwaldville): So, any massages from Thelma Ritter while you had your cast? Speaking of that, as a movie buff, do you have a favorite Hitchcock?

Steven Goldman: That's a very hard call to make. There are so many good ones. I have a soft spot for "Foreign Correspondent," love "Notorious," "The Lady Vanishes," "Rebbecca," ...I'm going to end up listing most of them. Even the flawed pictures, like "Suspicion," "Rope," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "Frenzy," are pretty darned watchable.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): What is your opinion of Dave Dombrowski? His deal is up after '11. Do GM's go into seasons as a lame duck often or is an extension looming? Thanks.

Steven Goldman: It's pretty hard to denigrate the job Dombrowski has done. He walked into a real disaster zone and got the club to the World Series. We just ticked off some of the mistakes that Omar Minaya has made, but how many of those contracts has Dombrowski handed out? The Magglio Ordonez deal gets criticized, but how bad has Ordonez been? Bonderman imploded, but he was signed coming off a good year at 23. The Carlos Guillen deal was questionable at the time (2007) and you would have liked to see them being more aggressive in searching for a catcher this year. Overall, though, I think he'll be back if he wants to be. The only question is, if, as Sparky Anderson suggested about certain managerial firings, "They just get sick of seeing you." We don't know about those relationships, obviously.

JayStellmach (Sacramento): Regarding the Fowler play, it seems like it shouldn't have been an out. It looks analogous to a play from 1982 (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ATL/ATL198209260.shtml) when Terry Harper of the Braves dropped a Gene Richards' fly ball after having run into and toppling over the bullpen fence in Atlanta. Just that Fowler's "drop" took even longer than Harper's did (Harper dropped it after running many steps with the ball in his glove, if I recall; but it was still not a catch).

Steven Goldman: The plot thickens.

unnamed (nyc): is 24 too old for a 19 year old girl to date? you said relationship questions, and her dad seems to think so...

Steven Goldman: I'm trying to think of how I would handle things if it were my daughter, but my daughter is nine and I haven't had to think about things like this (the very thought is terrifying). Every situation is different, of course, but without knowing any of the other details, let me say this: it depends on the intentions and the maturity level of those involved. If the young lady in question is an adult but letting her father call her shots for her (as opposed to offering advice at this age, however grumpy), maybe the maturity is not there.

Grayson (Canada): Sep 25, 1989 - At Montreal‚ the Cubs blow a chance to clinch a tie in the NL East‚ losing 4-3 in 10 innings‚ but back into the tie anyway when St. Louis lost later on. (As noted by Don Mankowski) Andre Dawson homers twice off Bryn Smith‚ his second a bizarre inside-the-park blow to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Dawson flies deep to CF Dave Martinez‚ who catches the ball but suffers a painful muscle-pull doing so and drops to the ground. Dawson keeps running as Martinez's teammates surround him. The ball is finally thrown in after Dawson touches home plate. Although at no time did the ball touch the ground or the fence‚ the umpires award Dawson a homer over the howls of protest. Martinez misses the remainder of the series. http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Andre_Dawson_1954&page=chronology

Steven Goldman: Gurgle.

JayStellmach (Sacramento): again on Fowler: but maybe it actually was a legal catch. see the ending of this post and the quote from Jim Evans: "...former umpire Jim Evans has the answer. He stated, "The word 'or' should be inserted in between the three requirements of a catch." With that in mind, how is this for an amended catch rule: A fielder can make a legal catch of a batted ball if he has secure possession of the ball, or control of the ball, or makes a voluntary and intentional release of the ball." http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-123329109.html

Steven Goldman: What is the intention of that last clause? Is it really there to insist that a fielder stay conscious after catching the ball, or simply to prevent controversies if the fielder drops the ball while making the transfer?

...Good start for Phil Hughes today. And the Yankees really needed it.

iorg34 (Mudville): Keep up the great work! Love the minor league updates. Any hope for Fernando Martinez?

Steven Goldman: Hold on... I have to call my psychiatrist.

mhixpgh (Pgh): Re: unnamed in NYC... Older women, man, older women. At 24 you've got a lot to learn. Just hope you make it through the "injury nexus".

Steven Goldman: I like this debate even more than I do the one about "catch and release."

Douglas Adams (Restaurant at the End of the Universe): Tea! If you were a Padre fan, who went into this season expecting that the games wouldn't matter except in a development sense, only to find your team in first place and with peripherals to support it, what possible calamity would you fear MOST right now? Latos going sproing? Tejada playing everyday at shortstop, with hitters deliberately punching the ball his way? Kevin Correia staying in the rotation?

Steven Goldman: Man, if the Padres make it deeply into the playoffs, this would be one of the most amazing stories in baseball history. They came out of nowhere. They have little but pitching to offer. Yes, Tejada-the-shortstop scares me. The Padres lead the NL in defensive efficiency, and since they're not going to put too many runs on the boards, they really need every out they can get. I don't think that Tejada's bat at this stage of his career makes up for the sacrifice you're making with the glove.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Thanks for the answer. Bad contracts for Dombrowski? Dontrelle Willis 3-yr/$29M. Nate Robertson 3-yr/$21M. Jeremy Bonderman 4-yr/$38M (I did favor that deal though at the time). Pudge R a $13M option picked up for no apparent reason. Guillen as you noted. He had some real clunkers. I like the guy on the whole...but he created some of the problems they face currently...it wasn't all bad luck.

Steven Goldman: Yes, those were questionable, except for Bonderman. I would still argue that overall he deserves a solid grade. I'll say something else in his favor: he hasn't blown any money on Chan-Ho Park, or players like Chan Ho. He signed Brandon Lyon for one year, then let Ed Wade sign him for three. Now, the bullpen has been a weakness for the Tigers at times, so you can argue about this, but I would say it's better to stay cheap than to take blind shots in the dark.

Stevis (Missing a Great Game Here): As I have been taught--only to work Little League games, mind you, but their ruleset is derived from the Official Rules of Baseball--I think you're largely right about the prevention of transfer controversies. But, I've also been taught that collisions with walls or other fielders which result in dropped balls should be ruled "no catch" (i.e., the Harper play referenced was called correctly.) Ain't this a grand old game?

Steven Goldman: At least there aren't any more dog houses in the field of play. Someone once hit an inside-the-park home run into a center field dog house...

JT (MKE): Half your age plus 7 is the dating rule...by all accounts unnamed is SAFE!!!

Steven Goldman: I didn't know there was an official rule book for this stuff. What does it say about passing out before you release the woman? Would that have helped Dexter Fowler?

Charlie (Bethesda): Do you think the Nats should try to re-sign Dunn? If the pitching pans out, they'll want him around in 3 years, if not, well, they're way more than 3 years away so they'll have lots of opportunity to trade him. I think that bat just isn't replaceable.

Steven Goldman: Depends on the length of the deal and the expense. I know that as far as attendance goes, nothing succeeds like success, which is to say that short of signing a Babe Ruth-level gate attraction (an everyday Strasburg if you will), you're not going to draw fans without winning. That said, this carpetbagger franchise hasn't really given fans a whole lot to believe in so far, and I'd like to think that retaining Dunn would help give the team credibility, not to mention help with improving in the standings enough to make things more interesting. This division could be taken by anyone in the next few years.

unnamed (nyc): the dads a cop, which doesn't help Mhixpg: gone older, and not a fan. thats what i love about college girls, i keep getting older and they stay the same age

Steven Goldman: Is... Is this Warren Beatty? The cop thing... Now, I've never dealt with this, but I would think that as long as he doesn't shoot you, he has more to lose by abusing his position than you do. That said, I'm a big believer that relationships should not provide more negative emotion than positive ones. Unless you think that she's the love of your life, why endure so much stress over something that's ultimately transient?

Dan Savage (Seattle): unnamed (nyc) might want to consider the "Campfire Rule" when dating a younger person: gotta leave 'em better off than when you found 'em.

Steven Goldman: I like this idea.

Colby Rasmus (St. Louis): CF dog house? I lived there for a few weeks. Thanks TLR!!

Steven Goldman: LaRussa shouldn't date anyone younger than him either.

sorrento (Oil City): I started dating my wife when she was 20 and I was 25. It worked well for us. But she isn't a drinker and I was through my drinking phase by then. Other friends have run into problems in the same situation -- most 21 year-olds want to go out to the bars every night, but I think for most 25 year-olds the novelty has worn off.

Steven Goldman: I just didn't hang out in enough bars when I was 21, I'm beginning to understand that. Then again, I was always too serious and looking for seriousness--and never much of a drinker at all. Hell, I like talking to people--most bars are loud and smell bad and you can't hear what the other person is saying. If inebriation holds no appeal for you, what's the point?

Douglas Adams (Frogstar World C): Last clause seems to be all about the transfer.

Steven Goldman: In which case, the fielder could be hit by lightning when he makes the catch and as long as he holds on to it, the batter goes back to the dugout.

Ted (Philly): Who emerges from the NL East this year -- Braves or Phillies?

Steven Goldman: I'm still thinking Braves based on overall pitching depth and the fact that they're not showing loyalty to a closer who can't do the job and hasn't done the job in two years. I also like the sentimental farewell-to-Bobby Cox angle.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Would Jose Valverde, and his contract, make it through waivers? What kind of package could the Tigers realize from that kind of move?

Steven Goldman: At what, roughly $7 mil a pop, you'd think he would get claimed. Of course, you can still make a trade at that point. The value of the package depends on whether it's the Dodgers on the other end of the phone. You would think he would have value to a contender. Valverde is signed for another year plus an option, so there's no pressure to make a move unless the Tigers get blown away, and the division is open enough that they're likely to need a closer again next year.

unnamed (nyc): oh by all means, my intentions are good. I'm apparently attracted only to the daughters of cops though, as my last girlfriends dad was a NY state trooper. of course the last girlfriend was also my age, so the dad didn't have much to disapprove of.

Steven Goldman: Might be time to shop in another aisle. I had a long run of captivating but lunatic women before I met my wife. Then, one warm summer night, miserable, I walked out of the house, stood under a sky brilliant with stars, looked up, and shouted, "That's it, God! No more crazy women!" Met my wife the next day. True story.

Kyle (LA): If it is all about the transfer, then why was Andre Dawson awarded a HR? This is clear evidence that the ball has to be removed from the glove. If there was no precedent here, I would agree. Facts are, in 1989 this happened.

Steven Goldman: Well, okay, but the pine tar rule was in the books, too, and they ultimately determined that it was too stupid to enforce as written. Now, I agree that you change it between seasons, not after it has been correctly called, and I think the resolution of the pine tar thing was bogus. What logical reason is there for the rule to be NOT about the transfer?

Brad Lidge (Philadelphia, PA): Sure, I stink now, but my 2004 was one of the best seasons by a reliever in baseball history. Eat it, Hoyt Wilhelm.

Steven Goldman: And for that Lidge should get a free drink in any bar in Houston for the rest of his life. It doesn't absolve the Phillies of the responsibility to move on.

Charlie (Bethesda): I guess my point if everything goes well (sure, that never happens, but...) they could have a rotation of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Detwiler, and Maya as a very good top 4, with Livan, Lannan, Wang, or even Marquis bringing up the rear. If that works out in 2011, aren't they going to really really want to have Dunn in order to win games?

Steven Goldman: Well, yeah, but that's very much a best-case scenario. For one thing, that staff is going to need a few more strikeouts than Strasburg can provide by himself.

unnamed (nyc): ...or i could go after my mom's 20 year old neighbor...

Steven Goldman: Okay, see, now this is starting to sound like a fetish. It's not the age of the woman that should be important, but the other attributes that she brings to the table. And by that I don't just mean measurements (at BP, we believe in stats AND scouting).

Michael (Detroit, MI): Dave Dombrowski has also made some questionable free agent deals with relievers: Troy Percival - $12M for 2 years when his K/IP rate was in freefall Todd Jones - over $17M for 3 years when he was never consistently great On the other hand, besides letting Lyon go, he's let others sign Jamie Walker and Fernando Rodney to long term deals. At least he doesn't tend to reward middle relievers with multi-year deals.

Steven Goldman: So much about relievers is guess-work. Both Percival and Jones were grasping at closers, and I understand the desperation if not the choices. At least he was aiming at the good part of the bullpen, not, as you said, at low-leverage middle relievers. Can I say again: Chan-Ho Park.

SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): Maybe I'm misinterpreting this whole Andre Dawson discussion. But the fielder didn't drop the ball correct? He simply just fell over in pain and stopped moving? How can that be anything other than a catch?

Steven Goldman: Apparently you have to not only catch, but release.

JZirinsky (Washington, DC): Steven: Have you seen Inception yet? I was wondering what you thought of it, since it's basically the only movie I'm looking forward to in a pretty lame summer movie season.

Steven Goldman: I haven't, and like you I want to for the reason that you said... Due to lack of PM babysitting, it's hard for me to get to any film that's not a kids' movie, but I'd like to try to get to that one... If it's edited anything like "Dark Knight," maybe I don't want to see it. Enjoyed that film, but you try following the action. I don't know who came up with the idea of cutting action sequences into shots shorter than an eyeblink, so prevalent now, but I'd like to find them, then smash-cut to them being hit by a truck. It's like every film is geared at people who have downed a case of Red Bull before coming into the theater.

SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): Wait, so what about when the first baseman catches a line drive that's the third out of the inning, and then holds up his glove to the home plate umpire indicating he is keeping the ball for warmups the next innings? I see this on tv all the time, and the ball never leaves his glove until hes back fielding.

Steven Goldman: Apparently different for infielders. I've never seen this before, but we're coming on three hours, so... lightning round?

hotstatrat (downtown): I don't know if you saved the questions from when you were previously scheduled to chat, so I will ask you again (with a slightly different take): Steven, could you, please, give us a memorable but typical Mickey, Whitey, and Billy story?

Steven Goldman: I probably could, but I don't know if I want to. Those fellows loved to embellish, loved to appropriate stories told about other people, and loved to celebrate things they did when they were smashed, none of which seem funny to me given the way Billy and Mickey ended. It leaves a bad taste, and since I have my doubts that most of the off-field stories are true, I don't really like telling them.

workermonkey (CT): why isn't Montero the DH solution the yanks need?

Steven Goldman: Several reasons: he's not on the 40-man; he just started hitting and you'd like him to consolidate his success; there is no position you'd want to play him at, which means clogging up the roster; the need isn't desperate and there's no reason to start him heading for arbitration at 23 and free agency at 26/27. The Lance Berkman/Marcus Thames platoon should be sufficient.

hotstatrat (Toronto): Are there some good Mickey-Whitey-Billy stories in the Stengel book "Forging Genius"? Could you give us one, please?

Steven Goldman: One more plug for me, thank you. The book is primarily focused on the years 1934-1949, so while Mickey and Whitey do come up, they aren't the focus. Since Stengel's relationship with Martin began on the Oakland Oaks, there is quite a bit about Billy and how, even as a teenager, he would mouth off to Casey and Casey would love it. Billy had some great teachers in baseball, like Augie Galan (though he didn't bother with Galan's plate discipline) and Casey (without ever reaching a level of maturity that Stengel had acquired by about 40, as detailed in the book).

Nico Toscani (Chicago): Is your Chan Ho mantra meant to be taken as a shot at Cashman signing him? Don't get me wrong, Cashman deserves some of the barbs slung his way but a one-year, low money, no risk deal for Chan Ho doesn't seem egregious to me.

Steven Goldman: Yeah, it's a shot. It was a low-percentage move and they had better internal options.

mhixpgh (The Big Screen): Who are you favorite film critics? Do you ever read Stanley Kauffmann?

Steven Goldman: Haven't read much Kauffmann. Love reading Roger Ebert, go back to my old Pauline Kael books all the time. I enjoy David Thomson's big film books, but don't always agree with him.

Michael (Detroit, MI): It seems clear to me that the umpires do not typically enforce the requirement that the ball be released to constitute a catch. A runner must retouch his base ("tag up") after a ball is legally caught. Obviously no one requires the release for it to be legally caught. Another example: corner outfielder catches a flyball and then jogs several steps toward the stands before tossing the ball gently to a young fan. The umpire doesn't wait for the release to signal an out.

Steven Goldman: Any rule selectively enforced is going to cause problems.

DanLong (NYC): speaking of better internal options; why hasn't Albaladejo been given an extended look. taking a look at his AAA numbers, he's been really dominating, and i can't imagine he'd be any worse than Gaudin/Mosley (once Pettitte is back, that is)?

Steven Goldman: I suspect personality issues, but that's merely an inference, not something that I've heard.

SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): If the Indians were able to procure some type of ace level starter for 2011. Would they be in the running for the division? I don't see anything wrong with the offense if healthy.

Steven Goldman: I do. Other than Choo, Carlos Santana, and a comeback campaign for Grady Sizemore, there isn't a whole lot there.

Donnie (Out of his element): Taking the over or under on 0.5 MVPs for Robinson Cano in the next 5 years?

Steven Goldman: I'm going to take the under. He's been great this year, but it's pretty clear he won't get it given the big years by Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera. I would think there will always be a bulky first baseman to overpower him.

Geoff (Washington): I wouldn't let unnamed (nyc) near my daughter unless he was in fact Andre Dawson.

Steven Goldman: We probably have ways of getting her phone number to Andre if you're really interested.

DanLong (NYC): this may be a better question for Goldstein, but as a yankee fan i assume you have a good breadth of Yankee Prospect knowledge...why wasn't Nova given chance to spot start in Pettite's place? he's on the 40 man roster, and Goldstein has reported him dialing it up as high as 96 (IIRC). seems to me he could be both a decent spot start, and a great long-relief option down the stretch.

Steven Goldman: It's a good question. I can only guess that Mr. Lox didn't impress the staff when he was briefly up earlier in the year, and further that even if he's throwing harder, the kind of K results that would really impress haven't been there.

unnamed (nyc): hey i take exception to that, Geoff. I happen to be a good guy, a family man, with a solid career as an accountant, and a full time grad school student studying portfolio management. your daughter could do a lot worse than this guy right here.

Steven Goldman: If you're still on the market in 10 or 11 years, let me know and we can talk about my daughter. Unless by "family man" you mean that you already have a family. But hey -- at Baseball Prospectus, or at least in my chats, we don't judge.

Steven Goldman: Time for me to get on to the rest of the day's tasks, like a new Pinstriped Bible entry and a column for tomorrow morning's BP front page. As always, I had a great time and I am grateful for the privilege of chatting with you. As always, thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with me and Baseball Prospectus. I'll be back soon.


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