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Chat: Ben Lindbergh

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday September 29, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Ben Lindbergh.

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Too much, too soon? Of course not, there's always time for more Ben Lindbergh, gentleman, scholar, sabermetrician, and he's funny besides all that.

Ben Lindbergh: Hey, folks--happy to be chatting during an exciting week in baseball, both here at BP and elsewhere. I was up late watching Twelve O'Clock High last night (I heard that--come on, it was a Tuesday), and I more or less just woke up, so bear with me as I return to full consciousness. If anything earth-shattering has happened today, feel free to fill me in. With that (and with the strains of Neil Young's latest release booming through my speakers), let's get started.

Teraxx (Strong Island, NY): Starting pitcher Wins. Why oh why, when considering the AL Cy Young, must the mainstream baseball media and fandom continue to hold this preciously overrated stat so dear? Mental block? Years of conditioning? Lack of intellectual and/or mathematical curiosity?

Ben Lindbergh: All of the above. But as Kevin Goldstein asked on Twitter a few days ago, why do we still care? The BBWAA's ruling on the identity of baseball's best pitcher doesn't make it (or him) so.

Homer (Springfield): Don't you hate pants?

Ben Lindbergh: Never wear 'em, myself.

John (DC): Do the 2010 Pirates call the actual availability of replacement level talent into question? As a staff, their pitchers are 45 runs below replacement. In theory, then, the pirates could win 4 or 5 more games next year just by swapping their pitching staff for a collection of triple A journeymen.

Ben Lindbergh: If all else remains constant, yes. An experiment like that might make for the most watchable Pirates team in years, at least from a sabermetric perspective.

Of course, trading in your underperforming parts for replacement players makes sense only if you think that the devil you know will never play above that level while under team control. I'll give the Pirates the benefit of the doubt on their decision not to scrap their entire staff in favor of the one pitching for the Indianapolis Indians.

SprungOnSports (Long Island): Giants, Padres, Braves. Who gets left out and why?

Ben Lindbergh: Much as it pains me to say it, I suppose I'd have to go with the Padres. As for why--well, the standings. As you may have noticed, our playoff odds haven't been updated since Monday, out of concern for Marc Normandin.

john (ct): I must be missing something here ...if Josh Hamilton hurts himself every year running into outfield walls, particulary in center, why not make him a DH or put him in left? The guy's too valuable. I know he likes to play Pete Reiser in the outfield but his career and talent will be wasted if he keeps this up.

Ben Lindbergh: A center fielder who hits like Josh Hamilton is quite a competitive advantage, even more so than a left fielder or DH who hits like Josh Hamilton would be, so I understand the temptation to leave him out there as long as he can handle the position. You're right, though--there comes a point at which the time he misses as a result of his style of play makes that positional advantage a wash. I don't know if he's there yet.

Teraxx (Strong Island, NY): Did u have the chance to watch Ken Burns' Tenth Inning of 'Baseball' last night? If so, did you enjoy it?

Ben Lindbergh: I didn't, unfortunately, but at least I got to spend some TV time with Gregory Peck. I'm sure I'll enjoy it when I track it down.

Matt (Chicago): As a Cub fan, I want to buy in Z's renaissance. As a saber guy , I'm guessing you have some issues with his supposed comeback.

Ben Lindbergh: Yeah, you could say that. Also as a guy who thinks velocity matters, which is neither a sabermetric nor a non-sabermetric school of thought. The strikeouts have certainly been there in September, but the walks are a little out of control. Still a useful starter, of course, but I don't like his chances of collecting on that Cy Young clause in his contract.

flyingdutchman (Oakland, CA): Yes, I was wondering about those playoff odds. Where are they? They were there every morning, all summer long, and now, in the final week of the season, they're not updated.

Ben Lindbergh: We're organizing a search party. Stay tuned.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Hi Ben Is Omar Infante a starter next year? Also, who starts for the Brewers, Lorenzo Cain or Carlos Gomez? Thanks

Ben Lindbergh: Marc Normandin informs me that he totally knew Infante would be a productive full-time player before the Braves did. Infante has an affordable club option for next season that will almost certainly be picked up, but he'd have to beat out another capable player in Martin Prado to start at second. Shedding Alex Gonzalez and starting Infante at short might be the best possible alignment with the Braves' current assets.

As for the Brewers situation--sounds like a spring training battle to me! I'll give you the Brewers fan perspective if I get a chance to ask one before the chat is over.

As for thr B

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Watching Matt Pagnozzi get hot at the end of the season causes me much angst for I now know that TLR and DUnc will NEVER let Bryan Anderson catch in StL. But, it did make me wonder if there are players who actually have a skillset that performs better at the MLB level than at AAA? And how do we identify these players? (Not that Matt Pagnozzi would be in such a group.)

Ben Lindbergh: I don't consider it likely. Quite simply, the level of competition is lower at Triple-A, in all respects, so why would we expect anyone to play better at a higher level (other than as a result of maturation/experience/normal development, I mean). I suppose it's theoretically possible that someone might be so energized or motivated by a call-up that he'd be able to exceed his Triple-A performance in the majors, but I'd think it would be impossible to identify a player like that beforehand, and always safer to assume that he'd merely fluked into better production post-promotion.

Cats Rule (Dogs Drool ): Hey, I saw your twitter about your girlfriend's cat being sub replacement level. What happened with that, Romeo?

Ben Lindbergh: Well, I had to elaborate, of course, but I'd like to think that I explained the concept so well that she had no choice but to accept the wisdom of my words. Even if only on the inside.

The comment did lead to a thought-provoking follow-up discussion with my roommate, though, who suggested that in light of my cat allergies, almost all cats (except, perhaps, the hypoallergenic ones) could be classified as sub-replacement, from my perspective. I'm waiting for Keith Woolner to weigh in on the matter.

BillJ (New Mexico): Speaking (Kingpin's Q) of Cardinals hitters getting hot or not, how much of the total collapse of non-star hitters in St. Louis this year can be laid at the feet of Mark McGwire? If nearly everybody but Pujols, Holliday and Rasmus that has been on the major-league roster all season is performing at their tenth percentile according to PECOTA (and other measures), why doesn't the hitting coach get targeted as part of the problem?

Ben Lindbergh: Too high-profile? Big Mac is probably less replaceable than the typical hitting coach, from a PR perspective, so maybe that buys him some time. I'm not a big believer in the efficacy of firing a hitting coach, when it comes to producing real results on the field (of course, it probably doesn't hurt a whole lot, either).

And yeah, Pujols, Holliday, and Rasmus provide pretty good cover. St. Louis has had the 5th-best offense in the NL, according to TAv.

Marc (I'm In Your Internets): We may not need to care about what the BBWAA votes on in terms of the MVP, but doesn't it bother you that many of those outside of the BBWAA, who claim to be enlightened due to stats, just misuse advanced statistics in the same way that the more mainstream, old-school camp misuses older, less complicated metrics? Colin Wyers brought up a very good point in a recent article about how people adhered too strictly to the decimal point on something like WARP or WAR, given that the data contained within them was not perfect. So why is it that so many people sneer when someone says Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto and Albert Pujols have all basically been the same player in 2010?

Ben Lindbergh: It kind of bothers me, but it doesn't keep me up at night (at least, not to the extent that old movies do). It's a little frustrating that a primitive wrong has been replaced by a more advanced wrong, in some circles, but I'd still consider it progress. Things are moving in the right direction, don't you think?

As for your second question--well, people like definitive answers, and WAR(P) seems to offer them, if one doesn't bother to look too hard. Maybe it's a lack of sabermetric education.

Woolner's ghost (Catatonia): Somehow, I don't think VORP (Value Over Replacement Pussy) will become a viable measure (at least when speaking of cats)

Ben Lindbergh: Presented without comment.

dianagramr (NYC): Hi Ben ... thanks for the chat. I too am listening to Neil's latest. I was intrigued by the Lanois influence. Anyhow ... does A-Gon get dealt in the off-season (does it matter if the Pads recover this week in time to make the post-season?)

Ben Lindbergh: So far, seems like a bit of a decline from Chrome Dreams II, which I liked quite a lot, but I'll listen to anything Neil does (with the possible exception of that weird "Neil 2" phase from the 80s).

Jed Hoyer has already said that Gonzalez wouldn't be traded, and violating a promise like that might not be the best way for a still-new GM to gain the trust of a fan base. Of course, much of the motivation behind his pronouncement probably came from a conviction that he wouldn't be able to get a worthwhile return for Gonzalez even if he tried, considering that affordable contract. If that changes--in other words, if someone blows him away--then I expect that his stance could, too. The breach of trust would be a lot easier to sell with an enormous prospect package in hand.

Tony La Russa (St. Louis): Honestly, Matt Pagnozzi just sounds like the kind of player I would want in my lineup. I have no other reason for slotting him in outside of him sounding like a Cardinal.

Ben Lindbergh: You know, sometimes I'm not sure that much more thought than that goes into TLR's lineups. And with so many pitching changes to plan, who can blame him?

Vince (Phoenix , AZ ): What are you going to be for Halloween?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm taking suggestions. I've acquired the outfit that Dexter puts on when he kills people, so that's an option. But I may not want to restrict that to Halloween.

Colin (Boulder, CO ): If you, and a giant pig were the last two living organisms on earth (space travel is not possible), would you eat bacon (the only edible thing left on earth) to survive?

Ben Lindbergh: Depends on how attached I'd gotten to the pig. Also depends on what kind of post-apocalyptic scenario we're talking about. Are we talking The Road, or are we talking, I don't know, The Stand? If the former, I don't know if it's worth it to kill a friendly pig and eat a food I find distasteful, only to cough up a lung before long.

dianagramr (NYC): Dear Mr. Movieguy: Your nomination for "worst performance by an actor attempting to portray a ML player"? Mine might be John Goodman as the Babe.

Ben Lindbergh: Gosh, I don't know. Not to speak ill of the dead, but Bernie Mac (R.I.P.) as a guy who managed to get 2999 career hits in the majors? Really, the Hollywood products who look convincing on the mound or at the plate are few and far between.

dianagramr (NYC): If the pig is actually giant, it would be more likely you might get trampled upon or "snouted" prior to even getting the CHANCE to eat bacon.

Ben Lindbergh: You underestimate my Dr. Dolittle-esque affinity for animals. I'm no Pig Whisperer, but I'm confident that I could make friends. Unless we're talking about one of those wild boars from Lost. They don't seem to make any effort to get to know a guy.

Elvis Andrus (Anaheim): I can slug .299 for a season if I get on base, steal bases at a good clip and flash the leather, right?

Ben Lindbergh: You can as long as Ron Washington keeps writing your name into the lineup. If you're asking me whether you can slug .299 and still be a valuable player, the answer is still yes, but, you know, you might want to try to hit a homer next season. I mean, it wouldn't hurt.

Fred (Dallas): Don't late season games between two teams already eliminated put you to sleep? Or what about a one-game playoff for the wild card? That would put me to sleep, too. Really anything on a screen after 10 p.m. puts me to sleep. How about you? (The screen isn't necessary now that I think about it.)

Ben Lindbergh: Considering that I didn't even start watching Twelve O'Clock High until after twelve o'clock last night, I can't say I'm with you on the post-10 P.M. thing. I kind of come from the Goldstein/Normandin school of Circadian Rhythm (or Arrhythmia, as the case may be).

But sure, meaningless games have been known to put me to sleep, if the couch is comfortable and I've had a long day. I'd still take one of those over almost anything else on cable, though.

Bailz (Work): If you're such an animal lover (re: giant pig), why can't you suck it up and play nice with cats? Hypocrite.

Ben Lindbergh: Cats literally emit an anti-Ben force field. It's not my fault. I've even been known to make overtures with my hands safely ensconced in oven mitts, but the creatures just sit there quietly, purring away and continuing to emit toxic danger. Really, if I have to dose myself with anti-histamines before I say hello, a close friendship probably isn't in the cards.

Sir Arthur Harris (Chipping Wycombe): Having just watched Twelve O'Clock, what's your view on area bombing?

Ben Lindbergh: I prefer the precision variety.

John T (Pulp fiction): There really is someone out there that doesn't like bacon? Be my luck in that apocalyptic scenario that it would be me and some bean curds or a nice salad. Please beam me into an alternate dimension where bacon is a health food.

Ben Lindbergh: Or worse, it would be you, the bean curds/salad, and me. While you were wrestling with your revulsion, I'd be consuming our only remaining food source.

Not a Doctor (Not a Hospital): "I kind of come from the Goldstein/Normandin school of Circadian Rhythm (or Arrhythmia, as the case may be)." ================ You know how they say women who become friends seem to end up having the same monthly cycle ... you guys may have the male equivalent of it.

Ben Lindbergh: That's a disturbing thought. I can't speak for Kevin, but in my case and (I believe) Marc's case, the nocturnal tendencies predated our employment at BP, which is somewhat reassuring.

Billy W (NYC): Not strictly baseball related but I'll give it a go. You mentioned a roommate before and I'd like your advice. I'm looking for a roommate for my apartment but I'm having trouble finding any takers. How'd you find yours? I think the problem is that my apartment is essentially a featureless ninth-floor walkup/holding pen miles from the nearest subway station.

Ben Lindbergh: I met mine at work, and when his prior roommate moved to one of the more primitive outlying provinces (read: Brooklyn), I jumped at the chance to escape the ancestral home, despite my deep misgivings about his moral character, integrity, and tendency to DVR wrestling programs.

If that's how you describe your apartment, I'm not surprised that you haven't found a taker. Ninth-floor walkup? I didn't know they made those. I assume you've already trawled Craigslist in search of someone desperate?

Queens guy (Queens): Isn't it tragic that the quality of the Mets broadcasting team is so high while the quality of the Mets baseball team is so low?

Ben Lindbergh: Well, you can look at that in a couple ways. Sure, it's kind of a shame that the talents of Gary, Keith, and Ron can't flourish for a contender. On the other hand, who needs a high-quality broadcasting team more than the Mets? Mets fans need some reason to tune in.

You're right, though--there may not be a greater disparity in baseball between the quality of on-field play and in-booth banter than one sees on SNY these days.

Dan (shame): Six games left in the season and here I am hoping that my Tigers tank it so that they slip into the bottom 15 of teams for arbitration purposes and get a better draft pick. Am I a bad person?

Ben Lindbergh: Not at all. We all need something to root for.

Rob (Alaska): Care to make a prediction on the AL playoff outcomes since the NL is still unsettled?

Ben Lindbergh: I guess you're talking about the East, since everything else but the shouting is over in the AL, too. I'll take the Rays--advantage in the loss column, and easier schedule the rest of the way. And I imagine they'll finish with a better record than the Twins, too, for HFA purposes.

Rick (Chicago): Next 5 years, Jay Bruce or Joey Votto?

Ben Lindbergh: Votto. He does have a few years on Bruce, so 5 years from now Votto will have reached the wrong side of 30, while Bruce will still be squarely in his prime, but I'm going to go with the guy who's already a presumptive MVP. For the 5 years after that, I might change my answer.

Freud (A chair): Please fill in the following sentence ... "Since I've joined B-P.COM, my life has ______, my relationship with my girlfriend has _____, and my general disposition has _____."

Ben Lindbergh: Fill in all the blanks with "flourished," naturally. Not only that, but my complexion has improved, my hair has gained luster, and I feel like I have more energy. I don't want to call it a cure-all, but I might just call it a panacea. I'd recommend writing for BP to anyone!

This message brought to you by a paid writer for Baseball Prospectus.

dianagramr (NYC): The Carl Crawford chatter has him being pursued hard by the BoSox and Angels, but wouldn't he slot in perfectly for the Mets in '11 (assuming Beltran's knee continues to fail)?

Ben Lindbergh: It would be easy to say that Carl Crawford seems like a good fit for any number of teams--Carl Crawford is really good, and he'd be an improvement over the incumbent almost anywhere. Given that the Mets don't seem to be sure of much of anything at the moment, including the identity of their 2011 manager/general manager, and in light of how their last high-profile outfield acquisition has worked out, it might be safer to bet on another organization that's closer to contention.

Jim (Houston, TX): Describe your pefect weekend... a wrestling match on TV with your roommate and then.. the opera?

Ben Lindbergh: You just described my roommate's perfect weekend. Mine would look a little different, though not necessarily in a way that makes me look any better.

Hoodie Lover (Morongo Valley): Who would you say Joe Maddon resembles more closely: Spencer Tracy or Buddy Holly?

Ben Lindbergh: I've gone back and forth on that, but I think I've settled on Tracy, if only because (unfortunately) Buddy didn't live long enough to resemble Maddon more.

Chris (Missouri): If you're Joe Girardi, how do you order the Yanks' rotation in the playoffs?

Ben Lindbergh: Sabathia, Hughes, er, Pettitte, um...can David Wells get out of his contract with TBS? Is Orlando Hernandez available? He pitched at Double-A this year! This could get ugly.

Merseybeat (Ferry across the river): Comments on the sad anniversary of 1980 before us?

Ben Lindbergh: If you're in the NY area, Manhattan's aging hippie population and I will see you at the Dakota on December 8th. I'd say, "I can't believe it's been 30 years," but I haven't been around for 23 yet. It still makes me sad.

ed3478 (Columbus): seriously, the Reds? Who saw that coming?

Ben Lindbergh: Haven't people been predicting a Reds breakout for a few years now? Maybe not with much conviction, but definitely in a "Hey, don't forget about the Reds" kind of way. Nice that it finally happened, though.

nonspin (NY): ALDS: Sabathia, Pettitte, Hughes, Sabathia(3days), Pettitte(full). ALCS: rain

Ben Lindbergh: If things go like they have in September, more like ALCS: golf. Of course, they can turn around at any time.

Will (Mactaquac): Please don't just link me LMGTFY, but what's Merseybeat talking about? I have gray hair; I'm just no NYer.

Ben Lindbergh: He was alluding to the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death, which is coming up in a couple of months.

Will (Mactaquac): The other day, I saw an Oriole's at-bat, and I never had heard of the player. I didn't see him in any annual, any fantasy write up, previous game, or article here. It was strange. How rare is that for you now?

Ben Lindbergh: It happens on occasion, most often with NL West relievers, who tend to pitch late enough that I've already started watching Twelve O'Clock High by the time they come in. Sometimes I feel like the Giants switch bullpens when I'm not looking.

Will (Mactaquac): Any thoughts on Johan Santana? I find the thought of his career prospects at this point very depressing.

Ben Lindbergh: So do I. The declining velocity and strikeout rate didn't bode well even before we knew about the injury. I'm not sure whether identifying a possible cause for that performance improves his outlook at all, considering the injury, but either way, things don't look great, and that's a shame.

I'm tempted to applaud Brian Cashman for holding onto his prospects and signing Sabathia instead, but then again, the Mets got Santana for Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, and Kevin Mulvey (okay, and Deolis Guerra). The money hurts more.

Wil Wheaton (CA): So I heard you prefer the original Star Trek to The Next Generation. I guess not everyone can have the refined taste of Marc Normandin.

Ben Lindbergh: Sorry, Wil. Despite your impressive body of work, nothing beats the original cast. And hey, 100% of Colin Wyers and Steven Goldman agrees.

Cambridge (Cambridge): David Murphy, in his age 28 season, has quietly hit a solid .292/.358/.450. Do you see him matching, or even bettering, those numbers in the coming years?

Ben Lindbergh: I wouldn't have much confidence in his ability to better that by a large margin, but matching? Sure, for at least a couple years. As a corner outfielder, he can't afford to lose much off of that line, though.

Definitely Not Chase (Definitely Not San Diego): What's up with this Chase Gharrity fellow? He seems pretty awesome.

Ben Lindbergh: You won't get any argument from me. I hear he even has an unprotected Twitter feed now! People should follow him. Kind of a WAG, here, but you might be able to find him @Cgharrity.

Chase (San Diego): Which would be cheaper: Papelbon's next contract in arbitration or pulling Billy Wagner out of retirement?

Ben Lindbergh: There may a few small countries in the southern hemisphere with GDPs smaller than Papelbon's annual salary after his next raise.

Wagner is too good to retire, isn't he? Seems like his mind's made up, but as much as everyone under the sun wants Brett Favre to retire, I want Wagner not to. I think a quote from Grand Moff Tarkin applies here: "Evacuate? At our moment of triumph?"

Reej 3000 (Dell Warehouse): Which teams do you see Kevin Towers calling and offering Mark Reynolds to?

Ben Lindbergh: The Tigers? He's kind of like a better Brandon Inge, right? Except for the whole fielding thing?

It won't happen, but part of me really, really wants to see what Safeco would do to Mark Reynolds.

George Lucas (Industrial Light & Magic): I'm re-releasing the entire six-movie Star Wars run in 3-D. What do you think?

Ben Lindbergh: Sickened, of course. And I'll probably still see them. That's how addiction works.

Oh, and re: Reynolds in Safeco, I don't mean that in the sense that if you strike him down, he'll become more powerful than we could possibly imagine. I mean that in the sense that he'll strike out even more. And homer a lot less. I'd pay to see that happen for a full season.

Bob Brenley (Chicago): "When you get into the postseason, you can put all the fancy offensive numbers away, because it's all about pitching and defense and finding a way to manufacture a run." - your thoughts?

Ben Lindbergh: Well, if Colin's recent blog post escaped you, we did just give the Secret Sauce something of a dishonorable discharge, so, er, no. Fancy offensive numbers a nice, too.

But hey, Brenly has me beat in the "World Series victory" department.

lyndon (Columbus, OH): Favorite Neil Young album? (Mine is "On the Beach")

Ben Lindbergh: Ditto--I think. Everything from "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" to "Zuma" (and some other stuff, too) is so good that it's hard to settle on one.

Z (Seattle): Everything you say about Reynolds sounds tempting - one of our bloggers thinks we should acquire him and move him to second base, as well. Do you think this is a good idea?

Ben Lindbergh: I think this is the best idea I've ever heard.

Jon KK (Elkhart, Ind.): You wrote: "the walks are a little out of control." That's punrific.

Ben Lindbergh: I'll pretend that I did that on purpose.

Matt (Avoiding studying at all costs): So Aaron Hill has had a strange year. 25 home runs, but a negative VORP. What do you see in Aaron's future when you peer into your crystal ball?

Ben Lindbergh: All I see when I peer into my crystal ball is the flaming eye of Sauron. I think someone may have misplaced a palantir.

I'm cautiously bullish on Hill. He may have gotten a little flyball-happy after the power outburst last season, but clearly he's still capable of hitting the ball hard. Maybe he's a mechanical adjustment away, though if he's made any adjustments in September, they've done the opposite of helping.

Speaking of Sauron, did Visine ever do a commercial where instead of hurling the One Ring into the fiery heart of Mount Doom, the Fellowship brings him some eyedrops, bringing peace to Middle Earth in a non-violent way? If they didn't, they should have? Sometimes I think I'm a regular Don Draper.

Cambridge (Cambridge): In much the same way that King Felix deserves the AL Cy Young award, does Terry Francona deserve the AL Manager of the Year award?

Ben Lindbergh: In that he's been let down by his supporting cast, but still turned in a good season? I guess so, if you absolve him of any blame for the injuries. But if we're using that framework, doesn't Ron Gardenhire come out smelling even rosier? Honestly, since we can't really isolate a manager's performance, I don't know who deserved the MotY award. It's a stab in the dark.

johne (NY): What playoff matchup would you be LEAST excited about?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm kind of excited for all possible permutations, honestly. Lots of new blood this year.

Teraxx (Strong Island, NY): So glad to hear you prefer original Trek to all others (to me, it isn't even worth debating, despite the obvious and occasional high points of TNG and even Deep Space 9). Perhaps you could offer Ensign Crusher some Tranya -- that may change his mind...if not, we have Khan-issued ear worms that are pretty good at convincing people.

Ben Lindbergh: I will admit to having visited Memory Alpha in the course of reading that comment.

GBSimons (Boise, ID): I believe Rob in Alaska was asking for your thoughts on what will happen in the AL playoffs, not who will finish where in the standings. Assuming it's Rays-Rangers and Twins-Yankees in the DS, who moves on to the ALCS, and who wins the pennant?

Ben Lindbergh: In that case, I'd take the Rays over the Rangers, and the Yankees over the Twins (as usual). Then I'd probably pick the Yankees to defend their title, with the caveat that I'd have something like a 50% chance of being wrong.

Clint (Chicago): Speaking of Don Draper, what did you think of this week's episode being Peggy-less? She must be growing on me because it's the first thing I thought about when it was over.

Ben Lindbergh: Spoilers! After a false start a few years ago, I'm just now finishing Season 1, so I can't weigh in on Peggy's absence. I can say that if she missed an episode at the stage of the show I've reached, I wouldn't particularly miss her.

SGreenwell (North Kingstown, RI): Thoughts on Jed Lowrie? Him slugging above .500 with a .374 OBP sure seems impressive, even if it's not clear where he would play next year if he stayed with the Sox.

Ben Lindbergh: I believe in the bat, but it's tough to count on him for a full season, given his medical record. There's also the whole problem of not really having a natural position, except, perhaps, for second base, which is occupied. For what it's worth (probably quite a bit), subject-matter-expert Marc Normandin thinks he might be best-suited for a super-utility role.

BBWAA (Ethics, MLB): If, as suggested in Tenth Inning, a current Hall of Famer did PEDs, and it can more or less be shown to be true, is that good news for the Palmeiros of the world?

Ben Lindbergh: BBWAA ethics are difficult to unravel, but yeah, in a sort of nonsensical way, I suppose it could be. Of course, the Hall's purity is already compromised, in a number of ways (and was from the start), but if it could be proven to contain a steroid user already, some writers might abandon their curious crusade to keep Cooperstown un-juiced as a result. Or, heck, maybe they'd consider it even more important to keep another one out. Who knows?

Jquinton82 (NY): Neftali Feliz closer or starter in 2011 with the presence of Scheppers?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm sure the Rangers would love to get as many innings as possible out of Feliz, but the Rangers would need to see better results from Scheppers before letting him displace Feliz. So, I don't see a role change happening to start the year, but it's not out of the question down the road.

Frank (Vegas): Ben, now that the Bucs are #1 (in terms of next year's draft position, of course), who do you expect them to select? and when will that selection hit the ML?

Ben Lindbergh: According to Kevin Goldstein, Anthony Rendon will enter next spring as the top talent, and the most likely #1 pick. He's a college player, so if the Pirates select him and all goes well, he'd be in the majors before their top picks from 2010. But the draft is still a long way away.

Hokieball (DC): re: PEDs. Maybe the HOF could try to remove an existing inductee. THAT would be a spectacle worth watching

Ben Lindbergh: Don't think there wouldn't be columns calling for that to happen, should a PED user's presence be confirmed. Feeding frenzy.

Mike Fast (Austin, TX): Hi, Ben! Re your comment about Zambrano, I thought we sabermetricians had established that fastball velocity was a good thing. I attempted to quantify that here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/lose-a-tick-gain-a-tick/ And on the off chance that you publish this comment, let me say hi to my good friend Jon KK.

Ben Lindbergh: Hey, Mike. I was actually thinking of that article when I wrote that response--all I meant was that the benefits of high velocity are something about which almost everyone can agree, regardless of sabermetric sensibilities. Of course, it's always nice to have someone come along and quantify the effects. Great work.

Matt (Chicago): From a broad sabermetric standpoint, what are the areas in need of most urgent improvement for the Cubs' offense going forward?

Ben Lindbergh: How broad are we talking about here? If you mean big picture, I'd say "walking" would be one strategy that the Cubs could consider incorporating into their offensive attack.

Will (Mactaquac): Which team is longest out of the playoffs from this point moving forward? It's hard to separate the years of craptitude from the question, but you could see several things breaking right for the 2013 Pirates even. Does it have to be Toronto/Baltimore in a split ballot?

Ben Lindbergh: I think it does. Not that there aren't organizations in worse states, but looking up at the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees (and I only list them in that order because of the Rays' financial concerns) is an extremely unenviable position.

Peter (San Diego): What did you think of the movie "Inception"?

Ben Lindbergh: I enjoyed it, but I think I need to see it again. Not least because I was sitting in the second row of the theater, all the way to the left, and I never really feel satisfied by my movie-viewing when the screen doesn't fit into my field of vision.

Peter (San Diego): Okay so it's official that the Pirates will be the worst team in baseball again this year. Might they actually crawl out of the cellar and play some competitive baseball as early as next season?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't think so--I'm just not sure where the necessary pitching would come from. But stay tuned for 2012.

judy (Boston, MA): FWIW, Jed Lowrie has looked incredibly unnatural when playing 2nd base to me, like there's no way in hell I would ever consider it his natural position in any way. He looks much better at both SS and 3rd.

Ben Lindbergh: Better, maybe, but good enough to start? I won't attempt to offer a definitive answer.

Peter (San Diego): Will the 2011 Padres be questioning whether all that division-leading, playoff contender stuff from the previous season was all just a really cool dream?

Ben Lindbergh: "Marc will write something about this when he's done being depressed."--Marc

Yes, in the grand tradition of Rickey Henderson and...Mark Kotsay? (http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/looking-at-2010-from-a-mark-kotsay-standpoint.php), that's a self-reference in the third person.

SID (Geosynchronous Orbit): Does anybody remember me or my sci-fi show, "UFO"? It was kind of like Thunderbirds, only with real humans. If we should one day make contact with an alien civilization, do you think they will like baseball?

Ben Lindbergh: Not only do I not remember it, I've never been aware of it, but thanks for helping me fill that gaping hole in my science fiction knowledge.

In order for aliens to make it to Earth, they'll have to have a pretty firm grasp of interstellar travel, which would mean that they'd have to be pretty good at math. So yes, I think they'd probably find a lot to like about baseball.

Come to think of it, this kind of makes me wonder where Colin Wyers actually came from.

Ben Lindbergh: On that note, I'll wrap this up. Thanks for dropping by, questioners and lurkers alike-- our next meeting will come in a Playoff Roundtable near you.


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