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Chat: Eric Seidman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday August 17, 2010 2:45 PM ET chat session with Eric Seidman.

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Check the numbers, because now's the time and here's the place for you to ask your questions of BP's Eric Seidman.

Eric Seidman: Alrighty everyone. Here 25 minutes early so nobody better complain about a BP chat not starting on time! Let's get to the questions.

Jeff P (NYC): Hey Eric, love the work you do. I noticed recently that part of Ubaldo Jimenez's success comes from consistently having a very low HR/FB rate (2010 will be the third straight such year). Do you believe this is a fluke, and that this will eventually catch up to Ubaldo, or do you believe there's some skill there that we just can't measure yet? Do you know of other similar pitchers that challenge SIERA's assumption that HR/FB is (mostly) random? Thanks!

Eric Seidman: Thanks Jeff. This is something Matt and I actively discuss, and right now I'm leaning toward the idea that there is something there. For instance, Cliff Lee over the last three seasons has played for Cleveland, Philadelphia, Seattle and Texas, four very different stadiums. His HR/FB numbers have been as follows: 08-Cle: 5.1, 09-Cle: 5.8, 09-Phi: 8.0, 10-Sea: 4.0, 10-Tex:4.9. Even when on the Phillies the rate was less than the league averages, and they have been drastically less than the averages for three years running now. There is clearly something he is doing that is preventing home runs. What that is, I'm not positive, but he is a very good example due to playing for so many different teams the last few years. Now, that doesn't invalidate SIERA at all, but rather it's the sort of thing that Matt and I will be looking to somehow incorporate moving forward.

Matt (Chicago): I don't know what to make of Randy Wells. His FIP and xFIP numbers have been decent but he gets just shelled about once a month. Any insights?

Eric Seidman: I have long been equating Wells to JA Happ, formerly of the Phillies and now of the Astros. Both pitchers have okay stuff, neither is dominant, neither is a future ace, but both have shown the ability to get batters out consistently. Pitchers like that are sort of boom or bust. They could put up the shiny ERAs like last year, or balloon to Wells's current 4.60. I believe Randy Wells is an okay pitcher, the kind that every team would love to have as a #4 while under team control, but he is not anything more than that. He is not a future front of the rotation stud, nor is he someone with oodles of potential moving forward. For the next few years he will be a cost-effective option in the rotation, but he isn't someone the Cubs should be looking to lock into a long-term deal or build around for the future.

Matt (Chicago): What kind of slash line cam I expect from Blake DeWitt next season? I have been pleasantly surprised by him since coming over from LAD- despite mediocre defense.

Eric Seidman: Over the last three seasons, DeWitt's SLG marks have been .383, .388, .388. His OBP has bounced around a bit but he is probably capable of a .335-.343 rate assuming his BA can stay in the .265-.275 range. I would assume the absolute best a projection would have him at is something like .280/.360/.420, which isn't too great for a hypothetical 90th percentile. If I were a betting man I'd say DeWitt hits .262/.343/.384 next year with about average defense. If I recall correctly, Kevin Goldstein once said that DeWitt has the prettiest swing that will never produce at the big league level. He has more offensive potential than Ryan Theriot, but, well, that's not really saying much.

goiter6 (MN): Any opinions on what the Braves timetable should be for Freddie Freeman?

Eric Seidman: Next year. They aren't going to mess with anything right now, not even for a September callup, and I'd bet if something happens to Glaus they would scour the waiver wire for a Lyle Overbay or Adam LaRoche-type solution as opposed to bringing him up. Next year, however, I doubt Glaus will return and the team will probably look a bit different. The issue is that first base prospects can't merely be good. Seeing a .311/.371/.528 line for a minor league first base prospect isn't really too fantastic because the replacement level is so high for the position. But he is the best they have for the spot in the system and I would be surprised if he wasn't up by June 2011, if not earlier.

Alfred Eisenstein (Brussels): Technically, Eric, the chat still didn't start on time. Care to weigh in on Normandin/Jaffe's Papelbon debate?

Eric Seidman: My take is more closely linked to Jay's, though I certainly agree with components of Marc's argument. For instance, I am very much a proponent of the idea of non-tendering players whose perceived value vastly exceeds the actual value, so long as the resources saved in not tendering the player a contract can be better allocated elsewhere. For instance, the Marlins should non-tender Cody Ross, because he's only a decent player, and will not play a role in their future. Why not use the extra $6-7 mil elsewhere? It's not as if they don't have prospects capable of filling in around the diamond at potentially the same numbers as Ross, and not employing Ross won't really impact their playoff chances.

With Papelbon, the big difference for me is that the Red Sox can afford to pay him $11-12 million and still spend elsewhere to improve the team. And keep in mind that the Sox were right in the thick of things until the injury bug hit the team. As Jay pointed out, reliever performance is incredibly volatile, and if there is a chance that Papelbon could revert to his sub-2.50 ERA ways next year, that is probably worth the risk of paying a less effective reliever a lot of money, given the ample resources at the Sox's disposal. To them, the $12 million isn't that lofty of an investment, especially if it means that there is a greater than 1/3 chance that he can return to his dominant form. And with relievers, I might even handicap that at greater than 50 percent given their volatility. So I am siding with Jay in that he should be tendered a contract, but only due to the context of the team -- if we were talking about a reliever on, say, the Brewers, no, he should be non-tendered at that point.

Jeff (Topanga): Felix Pie's best season will come in which year?

Eric Seidman: Well, no matter how one feels about when the peak of a player occurs, Pie's best season SHOULD come in the next couple of years, but then what do you expect of him? He isn't an Angel Pagan type who will flirt with .300, reach base aplenty and rack up a good number of extra base hits. Pie seems like a decent defender who will max out at around .280/.330/.450. So let's say he finishes around that in 2012... assuming the world doesn't end.

Nico Toscani (Above the Law): What's up Seidman - wondering what your take on Brian McCann is. I have a feeling what we see is what we get (which is a very good offensive catcher), but I keep waiting for that real "consolidation" year where he walks 60-70 times in addition to the 25 HR power and good contact skills he's displayed at times in the past. Think we get at least one big "HOLY CRAP!!" year out of McCann during his peak?

Eric Seidman: Absolutely. He's still so young, and he's already shown he can put up incredible numbers in the past. I would bet he has another .385/.530 season in him and then settles into several years in the .375/.485 range, which should be more than enough to keep him the second best catcher in baseball.

Rick (Chicago): Let's pretend the Reds make the playoffs. How do you line up the rotation? Cueto & Arroyo seem like the only locks at this point.

Eric Seidman: Hmm, that's a tough one. Cueto is your Game 1 starter, followed by Arroyo. After that, I would probably roll the dice with Volquez and try to use those three as a three-man rotation. Assuming Leake has an innings limit, he will likely be close to maxed out come playoff-time, and I'm not trusting Homer Bailey or Travis Wood with a playoff game.

Lyles (Houston): Given Jordan Lyles's success this year, do you think he figures into the Houston rotation next year?

Eric Seidman: Well, if Brian Moehler has figured into their rotations recently, I don't see why not. Let him pitch in spring training, and take it from there. Maybe he isn't in the rotation at the onset of the season but he could be there by the summer. The Astros finally seem to understand what they need to do, and keeping someone that could develop more at the major league level, in the minors, is not progressive or helpful to the organization. Then again, he should be close to ready -- we don't want another Homer Bailey situation.

Eric Is Lame (Ericislameville): Well well well, if it isn't Eric Seidman, the Poor Man's Tommy Bennett

Eric Seidman: I prefer to think of myself as the Rich Man's Pat Rapp.

dianagramr (NYC): Hi Eric ... thanks for the chat: Please rank the following Orioles in terms of the best to worst chances of reaching their potential while with the Orioles: Matusz, Markakis, Jones, Wieters, Reimold.

Eric Seidman: Well, Markakis is interesting. I mean, he is a career .296/.368/.465 hitter, which is certainly solid. He's also only 26. He can hit and he walks, but he isn't going to be a 30+ home run hitter. I can see him averaging similar numbers over the next four years, something like a .300/.370/.480 line, with one of those years including a .500+ slugging percentage and a Mauer-esque power outburst. I don't think Markakis belongs on your list, but otherwise I'll say Matusz reaches his potential with the Orioles, while Jones and Wieters don't ever reach their potential. Reimold probably has already reached his potential. He wasn't a stud prospect really so last year's season was exciting as it came out of nowhere, but he's not a corner outfielder for a team that hopes to contend.

Heat Peanuts (Buy 'em at a gas station near you!): Which of these four teams makes a playoff appearance first: Royals, Indians, Pirates, Nationals?

Eric Seidman: Royals, 2013. I think the Indians are much further back than some realize. The Pirates are the Pirates, and the Nationals are going to improve in the next few seasons, but they are in a competitive division. In order, I'll go Royals in 2013, Nationals in 2015, Indians in 2016, Pirates in 2431.

Dave (Chicago): Are there any players you would target this offseason to improve the A's putrid offense?

Eric Seidman: Well, the free agent crop isn't all that exciting. I suppose they could make a push for Konerko, but Crawford and Werth are going to be too pricey. Maybe they give Magglio an incentive-laden deal. I just don't see them being able to make many impact moves to improve the offense.

MJ (SD): Latos for NL Cy Young? His numbers are filthy!

Eric Seidman: They certainly are, even when we adjust for his home park. His ranks amongst those with 130 IP this year: 3rd in FRA behind Hudson and Wainwright, 5th in ERA, 4th in WHIP, 8th in SIERA, 5th in SO/PA, yadda yadda. I could go on but you probably get the point. The dude is good. As for NL Cy Young, we still have a month and a half to go so it isn't impossible but I find it unlikely he wins. I think it's going to come down to Wainwright and Halladay with the former taking home the trophy. I just have this hunch that Wainwright gets to 23-24 wins and finishes with a sub-2.00 ERA. Halladay will be equally deserving, but Wainwright wins it. The order of the voting will be: Wainwright, Halladay, Johnson, Ubaldo, Latos.

Darryl (DC): Adam Dunn will wear a _____ uniform next year and hit ____ HR.

Eric Seidman: Nationals, 40.

drive2fast19 (Detroit): Would Brandon Inge make the Cardinals better? Would Felipe Lopez move to 2B and eliminate Skip?

Eric Seidman: I would rather have Lopez at 2B and Inge at 3B than Lopez at 3B and Skip at 2B. We're not talking about a massive improvement here, but the Reds and Cards will be jockeying for the division the rest of the way and anything that constitutes an improvement that won't drastically hurt the payroll is worth pursuing.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Hi Eric Who will give me more value the rest of the year - Trevor Hoffman or Clay Hensley? Thanks

Eric Seidman: Hensley. I would have taken him before the season too. Lot of strikeouts, very good stuff. If he was on a team with a shot he woud probably settle right into the 7th inning role and be a very reliable reliever.

Dan (PETCO): Does pitching in this cavernous space give our boys on the bump more confidence?

Eric Seidman: Who cares!? I mean, if it can't be quantified, it doesn't mean anything! Kidding of course. I think it definitely helps their confidence, but confidence can only take you so far. Kevin Correia might be really confident but it doesn't mean the opposition pees their pants when he takes the mound.

ChuckR (Addison, IL): How would you approach the White Sox closer situation, both in the short term and 2011? Seems like there are some pretty useful assets, this weekend's implosion notwithstanding.

Eric Seidman: Matt Thornton. Hands down. No questions. No ifs, ands or butts.

garethbluejays2 (Newcastle, UK): You've been elected benign despot with total power over all baseball. What's the first edict you enact?

Eric Seidman: Really slow instant replay on every single call, followed by robot umpires, and only the three true outcomes are allowed or it's an automatic ejection.

garethbluejays2 (Newcastle, UK): What should the order of the BlueJays rotation be for 2011 - Marcum, Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Drabek? Do any of them have true stud potential.

Eric Seidman: Well, I think Romero already is a stud. Drabek definitely has stud potential. Marcum is very, very good. And Morrow wasn't touted so highly for nothing. The order of those five pitchers doesn't matter. No matter how you align them that is a very formidable rotation that no team will want to face. But unless they provide actual offensive players in place of Edwin Encarnacion and Lyle Overbay, we're looking at another 4th place finish. I really like what Alex Anthopolous is doing, but the Blue Jays have ALWAYS had strong pitching. This is nothing new.

Reginald (Toronto): In two years, can Romero/Cecil/Morrow have the Jays in the race? Will they spend that Vernon Wells money on a pitcher? I'd love to see Chris Carpenter come back to the Centre...

Eric Seidman: I don't think spending money on a 37-38 year old Chris Carpenter is what will catapult the Jays anywhere. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that in 2013, Kyle Drabek will be a more valuable asset than Chris Carpenter. Spend the Vernon Wells money on a really good hitter that can compliment the pitching.

tdees40 (Jersey): Hudson gets no love from the stats crowd, but he's a legit CY candidate, and I can't help but think that sometimes we lose ourselvses in SIERA/FIP/etc. The Fangraphs people even measure pitcher performance by FIP, which seems to indicate that what actually happened on the field didn't matter, just what the peripherals were. So could you throw Huddy some love, even if he isn't really this good?

Eric Seidman: I wholeheartedly agree that certain analysts go a bit too far with ERA-estimators. But I also think there is a lot of confusion over what these estimators do, and that is what fuels everything. That is a topic for another day, but with regards to Hudson, he is having a very good season, in a year when about 8-10 other pitchers are also having very good seasons. I bet he gets a lot of Cy Young votes, but ask yourself this: in a tough game, would you rather have Hudson on the mound than Wainwright, Halladay, Johnson, Ubaldo, or Latos, especially given what we've seen this year? For me, I might take Hudson over Ubaldo, but certainly not over the other four. He is a BIG reason why the Braves are where they are, but just because he isn't going to win the award doesn't mean he isn't having a good season. He induces a lot of ground balls so his results are tied to extracurricular activities, so to speak, but for all we know, he might be inducing very weak contact, making the balls easier to field. Suffice to say, there are question marks with Hudson, while there aren't with Wain/Doc/JJ/Latos.

Brian Sabean (San Francisco): Posey, Huff, Torres, after Molina, Renteria, and Sandoval recently. When will I get credit for my offensive prowess and not just derided for my oopsies?

Eric Seidman: Are you suggesting that you deserve credit for signing Bengie Molina and Edgar Renteria? Because if so, you just answered your own question.

Darryl (Clutchville): Last season, several managers eschewed the traditional closer role at times and played matchups (see Cox, Bobby). Why haven't teams like the White Sox, who certainly have the arms, done likewise?

Eric Seidman: Realistically because a lot of teams are run by older-fashioned baseball men. That isn't a knock on them by any means, but I think someone like Ozzie Guillen probably just feels more comfortable with a go-to guy than an array of different pitchers. Then again, if anyone is going to shift how that spot is used right now, it's Ozzie Guillen.

Adam M. Urra (Jacksonville): How do scouts differentiate between guys like Mike Stanton, who are true talents, and the guys who simply pass the "smell test" or look the part?

Eric Seidman: This is a question I wonder myself from time to time. I'm not a professional scout, but I watch A LOT of baseball, and my instincts are generally pretty good from watching players. When I first saw Stanton, I saw a physical specimen who looked the part but was very raw to the point that his spot in the lineup was closer to automatic out than threat. Now, he is adjusting at the major league level and is really fitting what scouts raved about. In short, I don't know what they do other than observe, a lot, which is incredibly important, because you can tell a lot about a player from seeing him over the course of a few months.

FangraphsFan (UZR): The Mariners turned to pitching and defense this offseason; it completely failed them. The Padres turned to pitching and defense, and they are number 1 in both. Is there anything to be learned from these two approaches, or is it just one season?

Eric Seidman: The Mariners were always going to be a team that would succeed ONLY IF all of their high variance players reached the high end of that range. Dave Cameron acknowledged this over and over again before the season started, but somehow that got lost in the shuffle. The Padres have had a lot go right for them this year, but they were also 37-25 to finish last season, so this shouldn't really be too surprising. One major difference is that the Padres have actual hitters on their team like Adrian Gonzalez, while the Mariners have the likes of Jose Lopez racking up ABs.

Chavez (Chavez Ravine): Furcal had a really great and underrated year. Will he be able to finish it off, or will injuries derail him?

Eric Seidman: I'll always have a soft-spot for Raffy. He was the topic of my very first article here at BP, when I wrote about how hot he was a couple of years ago. Then, as Will Carroll always points out to me, he got hurt immediately after. I hope he can stay healthy as he really is one of my favorite players to watch, but I don't see it happening. I think he is destined to be the guy that hits really well for 3 months and misses a lot of time each year.

MJ (SD): garethbluejays listed Drabek in his 2011 Jays rotation, but my question for you is do you think he'll make the 2011 rotation? Seems to me that a late 2011 callup is a more realistic ETA for Drabek (though as a Jays fan I'd love to be wrong about that)

Eric Seidman: Yes, I think Drabek is in the rotation in 2011. I think he is ready, #1, and #2 it could be one of those messages sent to the fanbase that, hey, these prospects aren't too far away from helping us.

Edgardo (San Fran): Why isn't Luke Scott a Giant yet? Seems like a GREAT fit. The Rangers also could use his lumber.

Eric Seidman: Because the Giants have about 16 outfielders at this point and they just got Jose Guillen. Getting Guillen seals the deal that Scott won't be on their team. I agree the Rangers could also use him, but I don't think they are exactly hurting for offense. I think Scott stays put.

Matt (Chicago): Do you think T Colvin can both improve his OBP rate and sustain his ISO rate? His potential/future is a hot topic of debate here in Chi.

Eric Seidman: I didn't want to ignore this question, but I honestly do not know. He has one year with a low OBP and good SLG so far, but I don't know much about him. Next year will be very telling.

Andrew (Toronto): Ever consider incorporating IP into SIERA? Halladay's 8 CG must give whoever follows him in the rotation a better chance to win due to having a more rested bullpen.

Eric Seidman: I don't know about that. I don't recall ever seeing a study that leaned in that direction, and while there are certainly aspects of baseball common sense that have remained true in the face of advanced analysis, I'm not sure this is one of them. I mean, if Cole Hamels routinely goes 7-8 innings a start anyway, is Halladay really helping Hamels?

Donald (Target Field): Francisco Liriano for Cy Young! (pay no attention to that Cliff Lee behind the curtain there)

Eric Seidman: If Cliff Lee starts walking everyone, and CC Sabathia stops winning, sure, Liriano has had a really, really great season. I'm not much for arguing who SHOULD win stuff anymore, so I've mostly refrained from all the Liriano-for-Cy discussions, but I will say I think Lee is more deserving right now. But, if Lee finishes the year 12-8, he isn't going to win the award. Then again, between Liriano and Sabathia I think we could see a repeat of Johan v. Colon, US 2006.

Anita Marx (Miami): Does SS Hanley Ramirez add more value than, say, 3B or LF Hanley would? At what point do MLB teams consider position changes?

Eric Seidman: Oh heck yes he provides more value at SS. There aren't many very good SS, and even the worst fielding SS is still good enough to actually play SS. This gets lost in the Derek Jeter talks. He's an above average fielder, just not a above average shortstop. Unless Hanley beging taking groundballs and throwing them into the stands for home runs, he provides the most value at shortstop.

Dmitri Young (Tempe): Will Brandon Webb be in the Dback rotation next year? Can they count on anything from him?

Eric Seidman: I don't see it happening. I think he'll sign with the Cardinals, to be honest, and have a good season.

russadams (Cotton Hill): Who is the John Henry of MLB?

Eric Seidman: I don't understand the question.

Joe Jackson (Foot Locker): Top 5 CFs in baseball for the next 5 years: CarGo, Rasmus, Austin Jackson, Adam Jones, Bourjos.

Eric Seidman: The first two for sure -- the latter three, I'm not even in the vicinity of sold yet.

Frederick (Philly): How good is Alex Gordon? Does his position (3B/OF) matter?

Eric Seidman: I believe Alex Gordon will be a .275/.350/.450 hitter, which is good, but not great, and ultimately disappointing given the intense hype.

Lloyd Christmas (Aspen, CO): Pirates in 2431? So you're saying there's a chance!

Eric Seidman: I'm obviously kidding. I think it will happen in the next 20 years, but even with Neal H pointing the team in the right direction, it's going to be very difficult, because they are still years away, and by the time they have some of these pieces ready to go, I would bet McCutchen might be out of there.

Peter J. Lish (Wrigley): Will Aramis Ramirez finish up as a Cubbie? Do teams value him now that he's bounced back from his struggles/injury this year?

Eric Seidman: I don't think his 2012 option will be picked up and he'll finish his career with another team on a below-market contract, producing slightly above average offensively.

Colin Wyers (Davenport, IA): As regards Andrew's question about valuing a starting pitcher's performance more highly the deeper he goes into games - that really doesn't have a place in SIERA, which is a skill based metric. But it certainly is a real effect, and it ought to be factored into a value judgement of pitchers. I hopefully will be getting into that later on this week.

Eric Seidman: Colin has been working on a whole heck of a lot over the last couple of weeks, and this will be an exciting find.

Kevin (Williamsburg): A-Rod is very clearly declining over the past few seasons. Will he bounce back, or continue down the hill?

Eric Seidman: He will continue down the hill, which means an .880-.900 OPS and 28-31 home runs a year.

Andrew (Toronto): Thanks Colin. Looking forward to your take.

Eric Seidman: It's like playing Matchmaker!

Edward R. Meow (NewsRadio): Where is the most underrated ballpark to see a game? Is there a favorite minor league park of yours?

Eric Seidman: My standard response for this is: I'm not one to fawn over stadiums. I go to games to watch the game and not to be wow'ed by the architecture or features. However, when I go to PNC Park in Pittsburgh my feelings go out the window. It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, and I would love to be able to watch a good team play at that park.

Bradley (Fayetteville, Arkansas): Who will be the best major leaguer drafted this year?

Eric Seidman: I'm not sure, but I just got an email saying the Philadelphia 76ers drafted me, so if we shift to another sport, I'll say Evan Turner, and then Me.

Dick Trickle (NASCAR): Now THAT is a funny name!

Eric Seidman: That's nothing. Go look at ANY name from a player in the 1900-1920 range. Jack Glasscock is my favorite.

Billy (Camden Yards): I like Buck Schowalter; the players seem to also. Can he steer these guys to improvement next sesason?

Eric Seidman: What do you mean? The Orioles are going to finish this season 85-77. I think Buck will help them improve. But I also think having better players will help them improve much more.

Bob Jones (Greeneville): How much does Chipper going down hurt the Braves' playoff chances?

Eric Seidman: I don't think it's crippling but it hurts. Funny thing is his numbers this year are like identical to those posted last year. 2009: .264/.388/.430. 2010: .265/.381/.426. I think it would help if they went out and got an Inge or someone like that, but I don't think they have to. I say they win the Wild Card.

Phil (Case Western High): You before John Wall? BOLD.

Eric Seidman: I make John Wall look like Matt Wieters.

Bronx Bomber (NYC): What is the deal with Tex's first half/second half splits?!?!

Eric Seidman: This is one of those oddities. Same thing usually happens with Ryan Howard. I don't know how to explain it, but it just happens. Good players produce good numbers, and if you start out slow you're likely going to improve. Why it happens the same way each year is just weird.

Cards Fanatic (Quad Cities): How good will Shelby Miller be? How good CAN he be?

Eric Seidman: He has the chance to be the best baseball player named Shelby of all time.

Len (Pittsburgh): Nice call on PNC. What is your favorite defensive metric, and how accurate/predictive do you think they are in general?

Eric Seidman: Realistically, I've grown distant and cold from all of them. I like to check all of them -- FRAA, UZR, +/-, I'll ask my friend Brian Cartwright what his system thinks, I'll see what Russell Carleton's OPA! says, and I'll watch players. Usually, that concoction is enough for me. I think that defensive metrics measure what they set out to measure and people who use them interpret them the complete wrong way. Too many people see a -9 UZR and go "Teh guy is Suck at fielding!!" when in actuality it could be a very good fielder having a down year. I also think that it gets very tricky when people say 3 yrs of defensive numbers is what you need, because the time we get that information, the fielder is now a different fielder with a different talent level.

dianagramr (NYC): Cards Fanatic (Quad Cities): How good will Shelby Miller be? How good CAN he be? Eric Seidman: He has the chance to be the best baseball player named Shelby of all time. ================== John Shelby on line 1 for you, Eric.

Eric Seidman: You're disqualified. Last names don't count.

Andrew (Toronto): While it may not be the type of skill that SIERA is intended to measure, IP certainly is a repeatable skill to some degree. Perhaps IP may help to determine the volatility of predicting a pitcher's ERA? That might help to quantify the wildly volatile ERA of relief pitchers from year to year, for example. It may also help to explain Halladay's extended dominance over the past decade.

Eric Seidman: Relief pitchers are have volatile numbers primarily because they don't rack up many innings, so someone can throw 9 perfect innings, then give up a grand slam in his 10th inning and walk away with 90% awesomeness and a 3.60 ERA. IP is a valuable skill for pitchers, but good pitchers also pitch more innings, so that isn't exactly something new. What I'll be curious to see is how going deeper into games makes the bullpen more effective, which Colin seems to have in the tank.

AZ Fan (Former BOB): Couldn't we have gotten something for Kelly Johnson at the deadline? Dude can rake, and he's looking healthy.

Eric Seidman: I was really surprised the Phillies didn't pull the trigger and go after him, but he must be viewed as another Cody Ross-type, a guy making maybe too much money for what he'll provide to the team, and not someone viewed as a solution for anything more than a month or two. Still, pretty weird he and LaRoche stayed put.

GM Wannabe (The Front Office): Skip Schumaker went OF to 2B. Soriano went the opposite way. Ty Wigginton plays every position on the diamond. In general, what is the difference in defensive performance between position players? Would a good defensive 1B like Derek Lee be the worst 3B/2B/SS in the league? Would Torii Hunter win Gold Gloves (and merit them) in his sleep at 1B?

Eric Seidman: Not necessarily, because the positions require different skills. Hunter was so valuable because of his range and speed. That doesn't matter at 1B, so while he might be able to field grounders and make Ike Davis catches (the new term for catches where you look silly falling over a dugout rail) it's not like his OF prowess helps him at all. Similarly, Derrek Lee might be agile around the 1B bag, and good at scooping, but can you really see him making plays in the hole between SS and 3B? Certain players excel at certain positions because of what makes them valuable, which would be mitigated by certain defensive switches. Soriano was fast and had a good arm, so going from 2B to LF wasn't a stretch.

Frederick W. Hanft (Shea Stadium): Will Carlos Beltran ever return to form?

Eric Seidman: Last year he hit .325/.415/.500 in half of a season. This year he has looked worse in his 29 games. But it's 29 games. I don't see why he couldn't do what he did last year, next year.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): You're not at all concerned about the ~300 point gap in CarGo's home/road OPS?

Eric Seidman: If it persists over the next three years, sure, but this is the dude's first real full season and he is looking dynamite.

losermix (New York): If it was up to you, what would you do about the competitive balance problem in the AL East? I mean even if everything breaks right for the Jays and/or Orioles, the odds are still overwhelmingly against them making the playoffs anytime in the next 3-5 years with what NY/BOS/TB have in place. Speaking as a fan of none of those teams, it doesn't seem really fair but I don't know how you address it either.

Eric Seidman: Honestly, the fact that you are including TB with NY and BOS sort of answers the question. Yes, the Yankees and Red Sox have competitive advantages, but the Rays were in a worse spot and look where they are now. I don't know how to completely fix it other than some sort of revolving door of divisions that change every couple of years, which just isn't realistic. But I also know that the Orioles and Jays could do much better at developing their teams. When you're relying on Brian Roberts as the top offensive force, that's a big problem. When Lyle Overbay is your starting 1B, that's a big problem. These teams are at a disadvantage but they also are yet to really make good on their own part of it.

John Hart (Texas): Say what you want about Bengie Molina, but boy can he handle a pitching staff. He's done wonders for the Texas club. He can call a game, handle a young starter, hit ya a cycle, just a multifaceted veteran presence. Good in the clubhouse. Jon Daniels has put together a nice club down there in Texas. Club.

Eric Seidman: John Hart -- I love you. Nobody makes me feel as warm on TV. Even if you do say the word "club" 8000 times an hour.

Eric Seidman: I really enjoyed this everyone. Talking baseball -- ain't nothing better! Feel free, as always, to get at me on twitter @EricSeidman or through e-mail.


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