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Chat: Matt Swartz

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday November 11, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Matt Swartz.

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Check in and ask your questions on subjects sabermetric and less so with BP's Matt Swartz.

Matt Swartz: Hi, everyone! With free agency just getting started and the first major trade yesterday, I'm looking forward to chatting hot stove today. I'm full of opinions, so ask away.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Given his injury history, is it better for a club to invest a couple of years in Joaquin Benoit or should a club scour the scrap heap and try to find the "next Benoit" who is ready to have a good year? (or do both?!)

Matt Swartz: It really depends on the team. Benoit's injury history obviously makes him risky, but his crazy good performance last year means there is a lot of upside. I think he will probably be priced about right, meaning that for a team who wants the upside he provides and has a good medical staff, he will be worth his cost. Teams a little further out of the playoff picture might be better off looking for someone else to buy low on, if they think they can.

sweet lou (pittsburgh): what was with the Beltre/Pirates rumor (sounds crazy to me)? Shouldn't the Bucs still be focussing elsewhere (rather than upper-tier FA's), or is there legitimacy in the pursuit of a Beltre?

Matt Swartz: Kind of surprised me, too. It may have just gotten exaggerated-- teams are always calling up FA and testing the waters. The Pirates definitely aren't better off with a guy like this. Even if they think he's undervalued, Beltre is going to be more valuable at the beginning of the contract than the end, and they need value more in a couple years than they need value now.

GBSimons (Boise, ID): Matt, I really appreciate BP's willingness to re-evaluate its own data, such as PECOTA and Adjusted Standings. It seems there's less stubbornness/defensiveness lately, which is certainly a good thing.

Matt Swartz: I'm not sure there was stubbornness before as much as it takes a lot to make big changes. We are full of new blood right now, and a lot of us new people like have had big ideas for a few years that are now turning into new stats and ideas at BP.

Bill Baer (Crashburn Alley) (Philly): What are you expecting out of Carlos Ruiz offensively in 2011?

Matt Swartz: I'd guess .265/.350/.410. His great season last year was mostly BABIP fueled, but he definitely has hit the ball much better in 2009 and 2010 than he did in 2008. He's not going to hit many HR, he's not going to strike out a lot, and he's clearly established himself as about a 10-12% BB/PA, so projecting him comes to guessing his BABIP. I think .285 is about right, and I think that would give you something like the slash line I guessed. He's not the easy ground ball machine he was before, but he's not a big time gap hitter.

Frank (Vegas): Matt, the year when the Bucs approach a .500 season will be ???

Matt Swartz: How about 2014? There is just so little that was in the system when Neil Huntington took over, and it takes a while to build. They have some young guys like Alvarez and McCutchen, but they need some of those new young arms to reach the majors before they can really be a .500 team. They'll win more games as time goes on.

The Dude (SF): Thoughts on DeJesus trade? Did KC get enough in return?

Matt Swartz: I think that they probably would have traded him for something better if they could have. I don't know that Dayton Moore is inherently overvaluing Mazarro over another better package. The deal makes sense to me. A team that is approaching win-now status gets a 3-win player for one year, and a team that is still rebuilding gets a 1-win player for several years. I like the deal for both sides.

PhilliesRed (Menlo Park, CA): Think the Phils really need right handed outfield help? Or will BenFran be able to spell Raul and Brown well enough to keep lefties in check and the lineup turning over?

Matt Swartz: The Phillies certainly are going to miss having a righty power hitter, but everybody in their lineup other than Howard Utley Ibanez and now Brown is better against LHP. Both Rollins and Victorino are far better hitters from the right side. So as long as they don't put all the LHBs in a row, I don't know that right-handed-ness is as gaping a hole as I once thought. That said, Brown struck out a lot last year, and maybe he is not ready after all. I like BenFran vs. LHP, but not as an every day guy. It all depends on what the scouts think about Brown's readiness. Is he the masher we see in his minor league numbers, or is he going to struggle to make contact at the big league level? I'd bring in a hedge player that could be traded mid-season if Brown looks up to the task.

Sky (The Roc, NY): Matt, what are your thoughts on players having different values to different teams? To what extent should the additional revenue-per-win figures for different teams (say, A's vs. Yankees) translate into higher salary-per-win payments to players?

Matt Swartz: There is a huge difference in value of players to different teams. The key difference comes from differences in marginal value. So teams on the playoff bubble and teams with more revenue that changes more with an extra win are usually the teams spending money on FAs. I'm sure bigger revenue teams generally have higher marginal revenues too, but the real question is who is going to gain the most financially by signing a FA? That's why the luxury tax plays such a role.

buffum (Austin TX): With a very groundball staff (Masterson, Carmona, to some extent Carrasco and Talbot, R. Perez, etc.), let's say the Indians completely sold infield offense (which they're not getting anyway) for defense. Would this help enough to make the pitching staff look above-average? Do they actually HAVE any plus infield defenders at ANY level?

Matt Swartz: The Indians had a .233 BABIP on ground balls last year, which is definitely a hair above the league average. I've long suspected that ground ball pitchers have lower ground ball BABIPs, but I haven't gotten a chance to test that one yet (it would certainly explain the coefficients in SIERA well though). I'm sure that having better infield defense would help them more, but I'm not sure that teams can really mix and match players to their strengths as easily as that. If they wanted to take a shot at Beltre on the FA, I'm sure he'd add a lot to their win column, but I'm pretty sure they'll get outbid. Otherwise, I think it's just a matter of identifying good amateurs, developing them well, and making trades or FA signings that can booster their infield defense when they see the opportunity.

Matt (Boston): if the yankees aren't able to sign cliff lee, and the sox end up with beltre plus crawford or werth, boston seems like it should be the fave to me. do you agree?

Matt Swartz: I think that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays are all going to be about as good as each other, and the odd one out is probably going to be the one with the worst luck. This year, the Red Sox had too many injuries and that made them the odd team out. I think if the Yankees add Lee and the Sox add Crawford or Werth, that might put them ahead of the Rays, but I'm not sure I could pick a favorite. Both teams have only a few holes, but about similar in magnitude.

The Dude (SF): Prince Fielder to the Rangers? Makes sense to me, they definitely have the prospects to get it done.

Matt Swartz: Seems like a good fit to me, too. I doubt it will take all that many prospects because he only has one year left til FA and he isn't cheap. I'm guessing he'll be an easy Type A, and that expectation will help his trade value, but it's not going to require as much as it would have if the Brewers had traded him earlier. I do think that a solid power hitting 1B could do a lot for the Rangers right now, and I'm sure it would be the kind of splash that would fuel season ticket purchases even further than the pennant already has.

philliesphan (philly): Is it a mistake for the Phillies not to re-sign Jayson Werth?

Matt Swartz: I'm not sure yet. I have definitely found evidence that re-signed players do better than other FA, and I think that's because they know something about the health and value of their players. The issue is where to put Dom Brown, but it might not be terrible to give him a little more AAA seasoning and go with last year's outfield. The real question is the money. They already are going to have a payroll over $150MM next year-- that's a lot, and I'm not sure investing any more is necessarily profitable. I have a suspicion that when they traded for Roy Oswalt, they decided that Werth + Happ < Brown + Oswalt for 2011. Seems about right.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): If you're the Twins, how do you hedge against Morneau's head thing turning out to be permanent, either this winter or next spring? Can they count on Cuddyer again or is it finally time to get a real 1B for the bench?

Matt Swartz: I hope their doctors have given them a clue about this, because it's tough for me to speculate about how likely it is that this is permanent. If they do bring in a 1B, what do they do if Morneau ends up ready to go and play every day? It seems like they are already pretty stocked in the OF and at DH, so it might just be a situation where they have to adjust if something goes wrong. It's not as hard to find a 1B who can hit a little if something goes wrong. I'd wait on that unless they are particularly pessimistic about his recovery.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Its been kicked around that the Tigers might be the only club that will go 4 or 5 years for Victor Martinez. Your thoughts on the Tigers possibly going this route?

Matt Swartz: I guess the question is: "Why aren't other teams willing to go 4-5 years for Martinez?" Specifically, why aren't the Red Sox? I'm sure they have a better sense of his ability to hold up than the Tigers do, and they don't seem willing to. On the other hand, the Tigers certainly have money to spend and can vault themselves into the pennant race with some good spending, so I do agree that spending on FA is a wise move for them. And spending on FA means bidding more than other teams. So, I guess it's okay as long as they realize that there's probably a reason the rest of the league is pessimistic about his production in 2014 and 2015.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): The Twins haven't had a real 1b backup for ages, Morneau has missed about a half season two years in a row, and yet last year they signed Thome in the spot you'd hide a 1B reserve and look like they might do it again for '11.

Matt Swartz: I know, but it's not like Morneau missing time in 2009 had anything to do with him missing time in 2010. I think the question is really about his head injury. Signing Thome clearly worked out pretty well for them. Something like 3-4 wins at $1.5MM? Seems pretty good to me. I think this might just be a case where you don't overreact to the past. If Morneau seems healthy, spend money somewhere else where it's more likely to pay off.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Are the park effects for Target Field done yet? Do you even calculate those on a one year basis?

Matt Swartz: I know Colin has some one year park effects, but you definitely need to regress those a lot because of the sample size. I'm not sure when they'll be out, but he's definitely got some good ideas with how to calculate them.

John Zirinsky (Washington, DC): Hi Matt. What's your take on the possibility of adding more wild card teams to the playoff picture?

Matt Swartz: I actually love the idea. I think there is something to be said for adding more value to winning your division than a home game or two that might not even happen. Making two teams face off in a 1-game series for the Wild Card would add even more excitement to the playoff structure-- it's a guaranteed double-elimination game, and wouldn't really change the dynamic of the pennant race much otherwise. I'm not sure if it adds any likelihood that the best team wins it all, but it'll be a fun thing to watch.

CLIFF LEE (tx): Is there any chance I don't end up with the Yankees?

Matt Swartz: Your agent sure isn't keeping you in the loop, is he? I guess maybe you really like Texas, but the Yankees have a gaping hole in the rotation with your name on it, and I don't think there's any reason not to expect them to spend what it takes. Even with the luxury tax, the Yankees clearly go out and spend on the big names when they have use for them, and the emergence of Gardner this year really diminishes the chance that they'll go after Crawford or Werth instead. I think your pinstriped uniform might already be waiting for you at the dry cleaners.

PhilliesRed (Menlo Park, CA): What do see from the Braves rotation next year? Can Hudson and Jurrjens continue to outperform some of their underlying metrics? Does Hanson have another step forward in him, or will he continue to look like a right handed Kershaw (not a bad thing, btw!)?

Matt Swartz: I think Hudson is a lot more likely to keep beating his SIERA than Jurrjens. He's a really extreme ground ball pitcher, and there's clearly something abnormal about him that would make you think he doesn't fit in the one-size-fits-all box. I think the Braves rotation is definitely going to be good, and Hudson and Hanson should be in the low-to-mid 3s. Jurrjens even if healthy seems like a 4-4.5 ERA guy, and at this point in his career, so does Lowe. I think Mike Minor's K/BB suggests he could be a bigger deal than he looked like in the majors in 2010. This is a good rotation without major holes. The lineup has questions, but I like the rotation.

Matt (Chicago): Are the Cubs best off getting a stopgap at 1B and then going all in on next yrs FA 1B class?

Matt Swartz: Yup. Not the sexiest answer in the world, but they really need to get out from under all the bad money they've spent on aging players. Think about it-- any FA 1B contract will probably be good value in 2011 and bad value in a couple years. Why go down that road again? Wait until Pujols is costing the Cards $35MM/year and hope the Reds young staff has some growing pains. Strike when there is a better chance-- FA 1B options will come again.

Matt (Chicago): Are you hot or cold on T Colvin as an everyday OFer?

Matt Swartz: I'm not really sure he's a guy you expect to lead the team, but he's certainly an adequate starting OF. Teams need corner OF with pop, even if they don't get on base. The issue is to not to make them the centerpieces of your lineup. He hit lefties okay in 2010 anyway, so it certainly doesn't seem like a situation that screams platoon.

frank (vegas): why is platooning used so little these days? Seems like the Bucs could get thru this year with platoons at 1B (Jones/Pearce) and RF (Bowker/Milledge), all of whom have pretty good L/R splits, while spending their limited resources on SP's - no?

Matt Swartz: I'm not sure why not. I suspect that most teams still don't have the certainty about who should be platooned. Historical platoon splits don't do a good job of predicting future platoon splits, so maybe the problem is that it takes several years to figure out who should be platooned, and by that time, the player is a FA who could look for a starting gig to someone who will give it to him. I think the Bucs could experiment with those platoons and see how they go. They certainly have the opportunity to figure out how those things work for them now while they are still rebuilding.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): By the time they both hit about 32-yrs old....who has had the better career, Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello?

Matt Swartz: Scherzer. He's already shown that he can strike out major league hitters, and that is the best predictor of future success. There's no doubt that Porcello has crazy upside but he's not getting whiffs yet, and so I have to play the odds and say Scherzer.

The Dude (SF): Going back to adding wild card teams...does the player's association have to sign off on it?

Matt Swartz: I don't know the rules, but I'm sure they probably do. I guess the next question is "will they?" And, of course, that's actually asking "What happens to player compensation?" There's a little more revenue, which is good, and I doubt it affects team's willingness to spend because it still gives all teams similar odds of making the playoffs. So I'm guessing they'll be okay with it. Give them a big enough share, and it's probably fine even if it does require their signature.

Steve (Clearwater, FL): As for the lack of platooning these days, it seems like an answer is that teams nowadays carry 12-13 pitchers instead of the 10-11 they used to, yet the rosters remain at 25. Therefore, it seems like position player benches are more constructed for versatility (the utility IF, the fourth OF) than someone that could regularly platoon (especially in the AL with having to fill the DH slot).

Matt Swartz: Good point. It's partly about whether teams value a 12th pitcher or a 14th hitter more, and the answer seems to be pitchers. The question is really about how much do you gain with a platoon. There's an added benefit, but maybe it just doesn't seem as important as avoiding pitcher injuries.

Christopher (Nashville): What sabermetric stat has been the biggest bust? I mean the one statistic or concept that generated a lot of excitement but was eventually either unsustainable or just not that useful.

Matt Swartz: Well, I got in trouble when I said that "tRA is just FIP having a nightmare." I certainly didn't endear myself to some people with that statement, but on the other hand, some guy on LoneStarBall.com made it his signature. I think that tRA is going to fall out of fashion, because of its treatment of line drives. If they accepted the fact that the persistence of line drives just does not exist for pitchers on a "per ball in play" basis, they might get further with it. But especially given that pitchers do seem to have control over their BABIP on individual batted ball types, I just don't think it's all that useful of a statistic. I think GB pitchers have good GB BABIPs in general, and that's something not considered. It's not a totally useless concept, but I don't think tRA measures pitcher skill, so call that a prediction I guess.

Paul (DC): Any thoughts on the probable effectiveness of the latest Japanese pitching import - Hisashi Iwakuma?

Matt Swartz: Warning: economist cop-out answer. I don't have any idea how his stuff will translate other than the fact that 29 teams didn't think he was worth $17 million and 1 team did. I suspect that teams learned from Matsuzaka that it's smart to shade down your bids on an auction like that, but I still think the fact that $17 million wasn't outbid means something here. It means the experts in this stuff didn't think he was a top of the line starter. I doubt they're consistently underselling Japanese players, so I'm not terribly excited about him. Still curious, though.

Matt (Chicago): Assuming he stays out the asylum- a leap of faith-, do you believe in Big Z's resurgence from a physical/performance standpoint?

Matt Swartz: His resurgence was not in his peripherals. While I do think that having the kind of temper problems he has is certainly related to failing to meet one's peripherals, I still don't see him as more than an average pitcher at this stage. His SIERA was 4.30 this year. That sounds right to me.

Jamie Moyer (home, resting): So if I'm done, who is the oldest player in MLB? (Like most people, I like the idea that there's at least one guy still in the bigs around my age.)

Matt Swartz: Pretty sure it's Tim Wakefield. August 2, 1966. Wow.

I wonder if we see more older pitchers in the coming years than before. Improved health could play a role on hand, but added competition from other countries could make it harder to stay around.

Matt (Chicago): I'm hearing Brad Penny is getting in great shape. Is he worth a shot on a 1yr incentive-laden deal?

Matt Swartz: If your team doctors think they can keep him healthy, absolutely. One year deals work out well frequently enough, and they don't cripple your team's finances going forward. He definitely showed excellent control early this year while he was playing.

Dennis (LA): Thank you for the chat, Matt. Would the Angels be better off pursuing Crawford or Beltre? They seem to have a bigger hole at 3b than LF and signing Beltre would leave money left over to sign a solid reliever like Uehara or Benoit, if not Soriano.

Matt Swartz: I'm inclined to agree with you. At the same time, Crawford really does seem like a player the Angels would covet, so it's not surprising they're targeting him. I think Beltre could do them a lot of good, though. It really depends on whether they still believe in Brandon Wood.

Bruce (Athens): Jason Heyward's 2011 stat line will look like...

Matt Swartz: I'll guess .275/.380/.490. Keep in mind that projection systems take a little longer to run than my brain, and there's probably a reason for that. He's got such a great swing, so I can't imagine he wouldn't start to develop power as he gets older. I'm not sure his average is getting much higher unless he cuts down on strikeouts though.

John (Atlanta): It seems to me that Crawford would be a great fit in Atlanta. No?

Matt Swartz: They sure have a gaping hole in left and he's a great left fielder. The question is whether they'll outbid other teams for him, and I don't see it. I mean-- Cliff lee would be a great fit too. Sign him and flip another SP for a LF. They're no going to outspend the Yankees for him, though. I think the Braves strength is their scouting and finding undervalued guys. There's probably a good LF out there they could find. Couldn't be worse than Melky, could it?

Gardy (home, resting): I only want to hear one thing: if we're spending more next year, I can afford more Punto. And if you can't tell me that, tell me who you think will win the Punto World Sweepstakes Extravaganza Prize of Excellence.

Matt Swartz: Punto is a below average player with above zero value. I guess knowing his value it's really a matter of figuring out replacement level. Colin's doing great work on that. I have no idea where he'll end up. It's a little easier to make predictions about big time players than players that all 30 teams might get some value from but not much.

Bobby (LA): Is it too early to give up on Alex Gordon, Cameron Maybin, and Brandon Wood?

Matt Swartz: 26, 23, and 25 years old-- I don't think so. But it's certainly possible that none of them are as good as once hoped.

Ron (Vancouver): 83.5 wins for the 2011 Blue Jays, Over or Under?

Matt Swartz: Seems like a toss-up. I guess maybe under, but give them a couple years. That's a good organization.

Matt (Chicago): What type of peak year production do you see out of Starlin Castro? Does he stick at SS?

Matt Swartz: His bat might not stick too well anywhere else. I'm not sure he hits .300 again given his very high BABIP in 2010. Seems like he should stick around at SS to me, though. He's probably more likely to get better than worse, and he was good enough this year even with some BABIP luck.

Rick (Chicago): Barring any major offseason moves, are the Reds favorites for the NL Central in 2011?

Matt Swartz: I think the Cardinals probably stand as good a chance as the Reds. They have the best superstar foursome in the division, so there isn't all that many major moves that would be needed to get them back up to 90 wins. I like the Reds going forward, and I did pick them second this year, but I don't think I would write off the Cardinals on one season. The standard deviation of wins relative to actual talent level is already about 6 wins. It's entirely plausible that the Cards were a 90-win team in skill level this year and just got some bad breaks.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): So how long does the new regime in Queens get to turn things around before people start grumbling? And other than cashing in Reyes, what big splashy moves might they try to announce their presence with authority?

Matt Swartz: Did people stop grumbling in Queens? I know there's a little optimism now, but talk radio is going to freak out if they start off 0-2 come April. I'm not sure they should make big splashy moves right now. Having an intelligent and competent front office doesn't erase major gaps in talent overnight-- See: Mariners, #6org.

Ron (Vancouver): The Yankees and Red Sox both finishing with a below .500 record in the same season, 2020.5, Over or Under?

Matt Swartz: I would say later than that. They have money and smart people at both places and they play each other 18 times per year-- so one team underperforming is correlated with the other team overperforming. That phenomenon might be 20 years away.

Tom (Oakland): Should Billy Beane still be considered a Top 5 GM anymore?

Matt Swartz: I'm not sure. The GM to the team is like the President to the country. They're going to get blamed or credited based on a million factors of their control, and there's a whole lot of ignorance about who the people are underneath them. Are the A's a Top 5 organization anymore? I doubt it. But he may still be a Top 5 GM. Paul DePodesta just got hired by the Mets. It's tough to hold on to good talent underneath you, and Beane obviously could be as good at being a GM as he used to be with less talented assistants.

Nick (Pittsburgh): Give me 3 good reasons why I should spend my hard earned money to renew my Pirate season tickets. I'm sick of losing.

Matt Swartz: 1) There's a baseball team in your city and you like baseball.
2) You want their current FO to have the time to build them back up, and your money helps encourage ownership to be patient with them.
3) Albert Pujols comes to town nine times this year.

Goose (Chicago): Why isn't there more of a push for Jim Hendry to trade Carlos Marmol? He is an arm injury waiting to happen and solid closers are wasted on bad teams (see Soria).

Matt Swartz: I guess the question is about getting equal value for him. I do think it would be a smart rebuilding move, but I'd bet he's just as valuable in July as now. Maybe they're looking around for suitors already...who knows?

Stephanie (Seattle): Besides MLB, what other sport leagues do you follow?

Matt Swartz: I'm a huge Ohio State Buckeyes football fan, by birth. My great uncle played on the '42 Championship Team, so my whole family is filled with rabid Buckeyes enthusiasts. I also like the NFL a lot, and I even watch basketball and hockey when Philly teams are deep in the playoffs. My only problem with watching football is that knowing what I know about distrusting what the announcers have to tell me when I watch baseball, I'm scared to take any of the announcers at their word when I watch football. I know enough about baseball broadcasting to distrust them, but not enough about football to know the right answer. I've started peaking at Football Outsiders more actually with that in mind (yes, a Prospectus plug, but actually true).

GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): I'm reading today that rival GMs think the Sox are open to offers for Beckham. That makes no sense to me. Ignoring the possibility that someone would grossly overpay for him, they have no logical replacement for him, and he's cheap on an expensive roster. Your thoughts?

Matt Swartz: I guess that they could just go cheap on 2B. If they get blown away by an offer, they should consider it, but having this go public can't help people's concerns about his 2010 performance. I would probably aim to keep him for reasons you cite.

Tony (Albuquerque): So apparently there was ALOT of really good defense being played in the NL Central this year?

Matt Swartz: Not sure if this is responding to something I said earlier, but that can't be true. Four of the five lowest PADEs in the league were in the NL Central. Ick.

Derek Jeter (NYC): I will be the first person to get %100 of the HoF vote, true or false?

Matt Swartz: Don't some people vote against players just to achieve this? He's controversial enough to generate some anti-Jeter votes.

smitty99 (Federal Way, WA): Hey Matt -- How would you like to see our favorite team build their bullpen this season? They have all those young guys in the minors that Chuck doesn't seem to like using Mathiesen; Zagurski; Bastardo, et. al. But going the Free Agent route seems like not using money wisely. Any FA relievers seem worth getting to you?

Matt Swartz: I am always afraid of FA relievers. I think getting a couple guys like they found with Chan Ho Park in 2008 and Jose Contreras in 2009 is smart. It would be perfectly fine for one of those guys to be Contreras, who I read they are trying to resign. Someone left-handed might be smart, though, just not a Type A guy and not a guy on a one-year deal. Lidge is still a concern, Madson is great, and they have a lot of question marks otherwise. Given the number of bullpen pitchers that get injured each year, it's not crazy to throw a few million at the problem. Just no multiyear deals or Type A FAs. I like Mathieson and Bastardo as opening day roster guys, but Baez is awful and might be better considered a sunk cost. A couple cheap FAs for a couple mil each could go a long way if they scout carefully and know the players well already (which is why I like Contreras).

Akee (Iraq): Can all the baseball haters stop bitching about how nobody watches baseball anymore and how baseball doesn't have fans under 30 years old. The last time I checked, millions of people watched the World Series and there are thousand of kids at every baseball game. MLB is a multi-billion dollar industry and this isn't going to change anytime soon.

Matt Swartz: Agreed! The MLB is doing fantastically, and people still complain about "how it used to be." I think it's better than ever, and even if that's partly because I'm a Phillies fan, there is something to be said for the absurd influx of dollars we see since the new playoff format took hold.

Tony (alb): The royals could start Moustakas, Hosmer, Montgomery, Duffy, Lamb, Giavanitti, Robinson and others in Omaha to start next year, which would could in all likelyhood win 6 out of 10 times agains the big league team. Not really a quesiton just a statement.

Matt Swartz: They do have quite an impressive farm system, don't they? Some smarter moves at the big league level would be nice, but maybe they wouldn't have drafted as well with a later slot in recent drafts. Funny how that works.

Tony (Alb): The NL Central dominated the Gold Glove awards. And EVERYONE know's those are valid awards.

Matt Swartz: Ah, good point. But Molina, Pujols, Phillips, Rolen, and Bourn are all really good fielders at least. It's really a question of how bad must the non-GG fielding be in the NL Central!

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Say Jeter gets a three year deal: how long is he at SS, and then where does he go and how do the Yankees proceed in replacing him (FA, kid, ARod, etc)?

Matt Swartz: I think Jeter probably makes for a great DH. His hitting should rebound-- he's a really good hitter and always has been. His defense is what is controversial. Still, I don't know that the Yankees will move him off SS right away. Maybe by 2012? Of course, don't bother if you're going to replace him with A-Rod. I would guess they go for a kid at SS, only because there are never great SS FAs. If you have a great SS, you hold onto him for dear life. There's only like 5 great hitters out there at SS, and a few more decent ones. Everyone else is suspect with the bat.

Billy (New York): How in the world is Mariano Rivera still pitching at a high level at age 40? At this pace, he might be one of the few players to retire while still playing at an all-star level.

Matt Swartz: The man throws a helluva cutter, doesn't he? This could go on for a while. With a guy like that, it seems like an injury will have to be what stops him and that could still be a few years away.

Matt (Bloomington, IL): Regarding GrinnellSteve's question, there's a big difference between listening to offers and putting someone on the trading block. This is Kenny Williams we're talking about here.

Matt Swartz: That's a good point. I guess there's a question of how much this affects offers and what he'd actually accept.

Matt (Chicago): Do you trust Hendry/Ricketts to patiently repair the Cubs roster or do you see some short-sighted moves on the horizon?

Matt Swartz: I think it's pretty clear that overspending has cost them, so they should be a little more patient than in the past. It's hard to be patient in a big market like that, though. I think it's important that a GM knows that being patient isn't going to cost him his job; it's really a classic principal/agent problem in that way.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): No question per se, I just wanted to say that as a fan with younger kids it was great to have World Series games starting early enough that my gang could watch them. It's something young fans in SF and TX will remember for their whole lives, and it does as much to grow the game as a lot of more expensive flashy efforts that go on all the time.

Matt Swartz: Good point. FOX gets to pick what time the series is on, but they don't really have any reason to increase viewership in 2025. Again, principal/agent. I think MLB should contract in earlier start times since they're the ones who will be selling the broadcast rights when today's kids are all grown up.

Christopher (Nashville): What's the ceiling for the orioles next year? Everything goes right for them, everything goes wrong for everybody else.

Matt Swartz: The best thing that could happen to the Orioles is that their young talent looks better this year. They're not going to win the division, they're not going win the Wild Card they're not going to get close, so an Orioles team that wins 75 games thanks to great performances but 30-somethings is a lot less exciting than an Orioles team that gets terrible performances out of the 30-somethings but sees better performances out of Jones, Markakis, Wieters, etc. There's a lot of raw young talent there that took a step back. The key to the Orioles future is those guys blossoming further.

Tony (Albuq): My question: Cruise ships are stocked with booze. :Like just tons of it. i know it couldn't have been great but i mean it's not like they were stuck in the middle of a city council meeting.

Matt Swartz: Last July, I gave a chat and some major move happened in the middle and everyone started asking me about it, and I realized that in my little chat bubble, I was missing something. I have no idea what happened in the middle of this chat, but I'm scared to peak onto MLB Trade Rumors to figure out how this has to do with baseball. Little help?

Zane (Working OT at the Office): When is this chat going to end? I actually need to do some work.

Matt Swartz: I feel the same way, but I'm really enjoying it! How about I'll try to answer a few more questions and finish up in the next 10-15 minutes or so? Ask questions quick if you got 'em!

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Putting the centaur at SS was a joke, but how about the trusty "Trade for the guy on the edge of free agency" model? Tulo and Hanley are signed through around '14, so would their expensive years be available for a big package? It's safer than kids and they usually have the money to spend.

Matt Swartz: I have a feeling that buy the time Tulo and Hanley are close to free agency, they will either be re-signed at a big price or traded to someone who re-signs them at a big price. Controlling shortstops is just so valuable that you can get a desperate team to overpay. It's the one position other than catcher that there's really no chance of moving somebody over to play.

Tony (albuq): It has nothing to do with baseball, but no one at my office wants to talk about it and i figured i'd throw it out there.

Matt Swartz: OK, that makes more sense now.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Hey Matt, Today in the GM for a Day article on the Red Sox, Jay Jaffe said he would cut bait on David Ortiz and bring in someone else at a lesser cost (he mentioned Jim Thome, Jack Cust and Russell Branyon as possibilities). This struck me as thinking too hard. Sure Ortiz will be over paid, but he's also likely to be better than those guys, and in the end isn't this a perfect opportunity to flex that big payroll? What do you think?

Matt Swartz: I haven't gotten a chance to read it, but I'll probably hear him out later this afternoon. I certainly wouldn't let Ortiz go this year-- he's a great DH, and he's worth as much to the Red Sox as any team they'd trade him to. Maybe going forward, they might have some concerns before bringing him back in 2012 though.

Tony (Albuquerque): Billy Butler: will his numbers ever match his swing?

Matt Swartz: He's had an OPS of .850 two years in a row in his age 23-24 seasons, so he isn't exactly a disaster. There's certainly still time for him to develop more long ball power, though. That would really be a boost to the Royals as all their young guys move through the system to the majors.

Matt Swartz: Well, this was a blast, guys, but I really do need to get some things done. Feel free to ask me questions on twitter (@Matt_Swa) if you have any others, and I'll see them later. Should be a fun off-season!


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