Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Joe Sheehan: Good morning. Well, not so much...I always have problems with the first day after the season ends. Let's see if you can't help me through the withdrawals...
Mike (Hershey, PA): Hi Joe. If Curt Schilling helps break the "curse" and gets to 225 wins before he retires, do you believe that's enough for his election to the Hall of Fame?
Joe Sheehan: I don't think so, given the difficulties that much better pitchers have had in getting to the Hall of late. Schilling's career has been broken up that finding an impressive peak will be difficult. I don't think he's done very well in award voting, other than the WS MVP.
225 wins isn't exactly a lock, anyway. He'd need another two good seasons and then some add-ons, and his high-water mark for consecutive 200-inning seasons is two.
Adam J. Morris (Houston, Texas): Let's say you are John Hart, and you've got $20-25 million to spend to upgrade the Rangers this offseason (assuming you trade Alfonso Soriano, rather than pay him the $8 million he'll get in arbitration).
What direction do you go in in spending those funds? Who are your primary targets?
Joe Sheehan: Hart has said that he'd rather spread that kind of money around than give the bulk of it to one guy, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what you should do. If you can evaluate, spending $15/$2/$2/$1 is usually better than $8/$6/$4/$2.
There's not a team in baseball that couldn't use Carlos Beltran, and with Laynce Nix still more potential than performance, the Rangers would be well-served to go get the center fielder. Really, any outfielder who can bring some OBP and defense would be an asset. The Rangers have to put more runners on base.
I think the world of Orel Hershiser and the work he's done, but giving him a bit more to work with would help. The pitching market isn't very impressive, however.
JoeReinold (New York): Now that we have seen David Wright what type of career do you think he will have.
Joe Sheehan: I think his downside is Matt Williams with less defense, and his upside is Scott Rolen with less defense. (Not a knock on his defense, which should be average.)
I love the guy. The only concern I have is that the Mets have been so unstable, with such unrealistic expectations, that he could find himself jerked around if he doesn't play very well
from the start of 2005.
John Grout (Daly City, CA): AP has just announced Bob Melvin's
firing. It doesn't seem to me
that he was responsible for their
dreadful season, but he got the
blame anyway... any comments?
Joe Sheehan: He took over an aging, flawed team owned by people who don't like to spend lots of money, and who think "nice" is a substitute for "good".
I don't think Bob Melvin did a whole lot to help the situation. Like most managers, he was pretty much a cipher.
rogercfr (Boston): You've said in the past that the Red Sox should not resign any of their free agents. Does this still apply? Where are the Sox without Jason Varitek?
Joe Sheehan: Actually, Varitek is the guy I've suggested they could sign, assuming reasonable terms (no more than three years). He's 33 next year, but without a lot of innings under his belt.
Then again, Chris Hoiles was a similar hitter, and he never played after 33.
I still wouldn't touch Pedro Martinez at what he can expect to get or Derek Lowe for much more than maybe the Jeff Suppan/John Thomson kind of deal, and then only if I had a good infield defense.
Jason R (Apex, NC): Joe, I just dont believe in this bunch from St. Louis. Can you convince me that Albert-Edmonds-Rolen is enough to win the NL?
Joe Sheehan: No, I can't. I think they're the 2000 White Sox, another good offensive team that had a bad week at the wrong time. The Cards play better defense, but then again, they're not as deep offensively.
There are no great teams in the postseason. It's possible that the wild cards are the best teams in each league right now, and that the World Series will be some weird thing like Astros-Twins.
It's going to be fun.
Mike (Barnstable Ma): Don't you think the Keith Foulke bashing has been a bit unjustified? He hasn't pitched significanly worse than Rivera. He just hasn't been able to pad his save total and his propensity for home runs allowed has been exposed.
Joe Sheehan: No offense to you personally, Mike, but I've now heard concern about Keith Foulke and Pedro Martinez over the last week or so from Red Sox fans. If those two players--a top-five reliever and top-15 starting pitcher--are my worst problems, I'm pretty happy.
Perspective isn't a strong suit of any of the east coast baseball cities. D.C., set an example...
chrisgoddu (Boston): What do you see 2005 bringing for Oliver Perez?
Joe Sheehan: Hopefully, a few months off. Perez has thrown a lot of pitches from 20-22, and has even pitched in winter ball over his teams' objections. He needs a break.
Perez has a ridiculous amount of talent, but if he doesn't miss 15-25 starts in the next two years, I'd be surprised. It's just an injury nexus thing.
I really hope I'm wrong.
Chris Hartjes (Toronto): Joe, do you regard the failure of the A's to hold off the Angels evidence that the "Moneyball" method is starting to not produce returns at the same level? As a Jays' fan, I'm starting to wonder if J.P. is finding out that the key to Moneyball is having three really good starting pitchers.
Joe Sheehan: Angels: 92-70
This is going to be one of those things that comes up a lot this winter, where we inflate that one-game difference into something it's not. The A's had a three-game lead with nine games to play, so unless you want to argue that Billy's [stuff] doesn't work from September 25-October 2...
These two teams were evenly matched in March, and they ended up pretty much evenly matched in October. The A's had some moves turn out poorly (Redman, Rhodes, Kielty) in addition to the Big Three's struggles. On the other hand, almost every Angel this side of Gabriel was injured at some point.
The end of the Dye contract frees up money that can almost certainly be used in better ways.
Last point: I think the loss of Mark Ellis was never adequately appreciated.
pjfsks (morristown nj): What do you think of the Mets hiring Minaya? I can't think of any great moves in Montreal, are we doomed to continue the recent history of failure and confusion in Queens?
Joe Sheehan: I don't think the love child of Keith Woolner and Branch Rickey could have made himself look good running the MLB Expos.
Minaya made a couple of moves in '02 when it looked like he was running a short-term franchise that, while gutsy and admirable at the time, certainly hurt the Expos in '03 and '04.
He's a scout at heart, but one willing to listen to a lot of different viewpoints. He's very good with people, which is a small thing that might help him sign or re-sign a player, or complete a deal, or--and this really is important--keep the media at bay.
Grade: INC. Check back in nine months.
Wilfredo (Hills Iowa): More overrated- Jeter or Ichiro?
Joe Sheehan: Jeter. October does that.
Lots of Ichiro questions...he's a good player and an overrated one, because he gets style points that other players don't. The hits record is a heck of an achievement. He's durable--which, along with his batting leadoff, pumps his counting stats--and a good defensive player.
His offensive value is pretty much his batting average.
In two of his seasons--the ones in which he didn't hit .350 or higher--he wasn't anything special, a corner outfielder with EQAs of .289 and .277.
If he's a .370 hitter, he's great. If he's a .330 hitter, he's good. When he hits .310, he's just not putting many runs on the board.
shamah (DC): If the Dodgers don't make it out of the first round, will we still be hearing how it was The Trade that did them in? Or are sportswriters finally going to admit that the bullpen is still a strength, the lineup is solid, and they really did need starting pitching help?
Joe Sheehan: I think if the Dodgers go 11-1, The Trade will be blamed for them not sweeping. It's the storyline, and all events are going to be written to fit that.
The bullpen is light-years better than the rotation, and, given that Mota looked pretty tired down the stretch, quite possibly better without him.
And if the Dodgers should lose, and someone writes that it was because they didn't have some type of intangible, they should be banned from ever using the English language again. How many times did this team come back in September? 40? 45?
bobskinner (indianapolis, IN): There seemed to be major changes (like KC) in ballpark factors this past year...how do you guys take those into account? Would the Royals demise have showed up if you had been able to factor such park adjustments into your pre-season projections???
Joe Sheehan: It's the biggest unknown in doing projections, and I'm sure Nate Silver could tell you more. If you don't get the run environment right--and it can change even without a new park or new dimensions--everything will be off.
The Royals were never that good last year, and all realistic projections for them this year noted that, so I don't think the change in the way Kauffman played made a difference.
I have to get a Division Series preview up on the site, so I'm going to start the lightning round now...
Anthony (Long Island): Mike Mussina in September: 42 IP, 2.14 ERA, 42:10 K:BB ratio. Will he be an ace in the postseason?
Joe Sheehan: He has the best shot of any of the Yankee starters. I think he has a strong history against the Twins, too, which can't hurt.
Will, aka RCS (Fredericton, NB): On a scale of one to ten, with one being the purity of Bambi and ten being the awesome lethality of Lucifer, how evil is Bud Selig:
B) 9.97, or
Joe Sheehan: For better or worse, he's a baseball fan, which I find to be redeeming.
There's a book in Selig's tenure. Not so much a "Lords of the Realm" follow-up, but something that explains his side of everything. I can't say I'd agree with it, but I'd like to read it.
wendtm (Chicago): Twins the best shot at beating the Yanks with their big two and before Brown et al have a chance to get healthy. Agree?
Joe Sheehan: Getting them in the best-of-five, where they could conceivably use Santana and Radke four times, is their edge.
I've been spouting the "no one wants to face Santana thing," but it's important to note that the Twins' offense is lousy. The Cards and Dodgers might score twice as many runs per games as these two teams do.
Jason R (Apex, NC): A lot has been said of the Tigers turnaround this season (+39) but how much further can they push it in 2005? It seems they will have the same basic rotation as there does not figure to be new faces worth gambling on in the free agent market.
Joe Sheehan: The challenge for the Tigers will be in not being the '03 Royals or the '99 Devil Rays, where a better year led to outsized expectations unfit for the current talent level.
The Tigers are still thin in the top levels, and their big year was driven by performances we're not likely to see repeated (Guillen, Pudge).
They still need to play for '06.
NC (Seattle): Jeff Kent probably doesn't make the Hall, but with the HR record for a 2B, where does he rank among all-time 2B? Is he in the discussion?
Joe Sheehan: No. He's still behind Sandberg, who is well behind the Lajoie/Hornsby/Morgan/Collins group. Top ten, I guess, and a potential VS pick down the road. Bobby Grich's experience doesn't bode well for Kent.
Anthony (Long Island): Will any manager impact this year's postseason as much as Jack McKeon did last October?
Joe Sheehan: I doubt it. There are no strong strategic or tactical guys in this group, and certainly no one who's going to surprise us.
DavidCrowe (Canada): Since Barry set the new HR record we've had Arod's 57 in '02 and now two years where no one has hit even 50 - to early to call it a trend?
Joe Sheehan: No, not at all. These things run in cycles, and we had an upswing of big-time power hitters peaking in an environment that rewarded them.
Baseball is a very cyclical game, which is why the rush to make changes, or to look for conspiracies during peaks and troughs, is silly.
OK, I need to cut this off and get back to divining the truth about the Red Sox and Angels. Keep coming back to BP all month for great playoff content, stats and chat sessions, and thanks for dropping in this morning!