Check in with Jay Jaffe to talk about baseball coast to coast, and who belongs in the Hall the most.
Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to today's Baseball Prospectus chat! I'm flying out to Seattle in a few hours, so we'll keep this relatively brief and save room for a second helping of stuffing.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): More likely to be inducted into the HOF- Vlad or Damon?
Jay Jaffe: My educated guess would be that Guerrero is more likely to get in than Damon. He's got an MVP award, he'll have close to (or more than) 500 homers and 2500 hits. Damon needs 3000 hits to even have a chance.
Marco (Virginia Beach): Please tell me Justin Upton will end up in Boston instead of Seattle or Toronto.
What're the latest rumors?
Jay Jaffe: I'm about 98 percent certain Upton's not going anywhere. I don't think Arizona is particularly interested in trading him, but marketing him when they're not pressured to actually make a deal might shake loose better offers than marketing him under the pressure of an approaching deadline or contract end. I wrote about this at Pinstriped Bible last week: http://www.pinstripedbible.com/2010/11/19/to-the-mats-power-of-towers/
Tom (Denver): Do you think the rumors about Roberto Alomar will hurt his Hall of Fame chances?
Jay Jaffe: The rumors about Alomar had already been out there for nearly a year when last year's ballot went out, and Alomar just missed enshrinement. So no, I don't think this will change anything. Whether or not he's sick, it saddens the hell out of me to see anyone have to deal with such rumors.
garethbluejays2 (Newcastle, UK): Most likely landing place for Manny in 2011?
Jay Jaffe: Unless something's changed in the past week or so, the Toronto rumors make sense. Beyond that, obviously, it's going to be an AL team with a DH opening. Maybe Minnesota if Jim Thome doesn't come back, or Tampa Bay if his price comes down.
Colin Jaffe (Cranford, NJ): Why does everyone think that Victor's bat would play at 1B/DH? He's a career .300/.369/.469 hitter, and probably not even that in a year or two when his bat alone can't carry him. Isn't $50 million a terrible idea?
P.S. Jaffes of the world, unite!
Jay Jaffe: Hey, Jaffe! Victor Martinez's career line equates to a .289 TAv. The average MLB first baseman was at .288 last year, the average DH .265. There's also reason to believe that moving from catcher will keep him stronger though the course of the season, so that he might actually enjoy a slight uptick.
That said, I'm not wild about $50 million for four years, but then I haven't been wild about any deal so far this winter.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): Are the Yankees a lock to sign Cliff Lee, or is it more of a 50/50 proposition? If they don't sign him, what is plan B?
Jay Jaffe: I'd say it's somewhere between a lock and 50/50. Closer to 75/25 than either pole. Plan B probably involves making a trade rather than chasing after the relatively uninspiring free agent starters who are still out there.
Brian (Florida): DO you see Matt Garza and or Jason Bartlett on the Rays opening day roster?
Jay Jaffe: Garza, yes. Bartlett, no. I think the latter gets dealt to make room for Reid Brignac, and that Shields will be the odd man out in the rotation.
Chad Qualls (Tampa Bay): Tell me how you really feel about me.
Jay Jaffe: It's nothing personal, Chad, but at this stage, you are formerly famous replacement level fodder, proof that regression to the mean isn't mandatory for somebody with a proven track record but now only on the fringe of remaining in the majors.
Bill (New Mexico): "I haven't been wild about any deal so far this winter." Not even Jake Westbrook re-upping with St. Louis for2/$16.5M? They had a need, and how could they have filled it for less?
Jay Jaffe: It's not a horrible deal if you can guarantee he'll be healthy, and he's a good fit with Dave Duncan, but the guy's got one 30-start season out of the last four.
Matt (Chicago): Who ends up manning 1B for the Cubs next yr? Their focus seems to be on power for that spot but I think that lineup is in major need of OBP help( Berkman?), as well.
Jay Jaffe: It wouldn't surprise me if either Lance Berkman or Adam Dunn winds up there. Both will provide improved OBP and some power, though Dunn probably more than Berkman at this stage.
Dingers (Los Angeles): Chances one of the McCourts owns the Dodgers before the 2011 season starts?
Jay Jaffe: Well, somebody named McCourt will still own the team come the 2011 season, because ownership can't change that fast. My understanding is that the looming decision on the validity of the post-nuptial marital agreement will decide whether Jamie has an ownership stake or not, and then it will be up to one side to buy the other out, with Frank more likely to retain control of the team, but that could take years.
Personally, I'm wishing that the judge would extradite both to some Turkish prison for eternity and put the team up for sale.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): Assuming Jeter ends up at SS in the Bronx next year, who takes over for him in 12? That is, he can't have TWO years left at that position, can he? (Or is it Can the team let him have two more.)
Jay Jaffe: Earlier this month, the idea that Eduardo Nunez would be the guy groomed to replace Jeter was floated. I don't think he's got the upside, and my guess is that when the time comes, the Yankees will go outside the organization to find a proven big league veteran for whom the pressure to fill Jeter's shoes won't be piled on top of the pressure to prove he belongs in the majors.
Nick stone (Metro north, south of stamford): Seems like the jeter negotiatons are tough to say the least. I can't imagine him going elsewhere, but if he did, where do you think he would go? What do you think the deal will be?
Jay Jaffe: The one even slightly plausible notion that surfaced earlier this month was of Jeter winding up in San Francisco. Brian Sabean was the Yankees' VP of Player Development and Scouting when Jeter was drafted in 1992, and there are a lot of Yankee ties within the front office and the coaching staff. I'm guessing that if the unthinkable happens and Jeter leaves the Yankees, he'll do no better than the current 3/$45 million the Yankees are offering.
Tony (Albuquerque): Chase Utley: HOF?
Jay Jaffe: I'm skeptical, not because peak Chase Utley isn't a Hall-caliber player but because he didn't really establish himself in the majors until age 25, or top 110 games until age 26. He'll be 32 next month and he has less than 1,100 hits. Nobody with less than 2,000 hits whose career began in the expansion era (1961 onward) has ever been voted in by the writers.
Tonyu (Albuquerque): What was teh last deal you were wild about?
Jay Jaffe: Jim Thome to Minnesota for 1 year, $1.5 million, probably. Andy Pettite 1 year, $5.5 million for 2009 was pretty sweet, too.
ashitaka (long beach, ca): How much does Berkman have left in the tank? He seems like an on-the-bubble HoFer and probably needs a little more to push him over.
Jay Jaffe: I don't think Berkman's got a ton left. Unless his knee improves - not great odds given that we're supposedly talking about arthritic changes in the joint - he's basically a platoon player at this point, one with good OBP skills but diminishing power.
meat (some pine, grabbed): Huff signed with the Giants, 2 years at 10 mil, club option on 3rd year for 10 mil with 2 mil buyout. Good, par, ugly?
Jay Jaffe: Huff has three good years spread out over the last seven (2004, 2008, 2010) along with two horrendous ones and two meh ones. I don't like the odds on him stringing three straight good ones together for the Giants (2010-2012) let alone four straight. Not a great deal, in my eyes, but given that it's only two years, not a horrible one.
A good rule of thumb is that if you're not costing yourself draft picks, it's tough to screw up something too badly on a one- or two-year free agent deal; it's only money. That's not ALWAYS true, but it's true often enough.
Adam (NY): Do you feel the Yankees will break camp with Montero on the 25-man roster? Don't you think they need to sign a better catcher than Cervelli if this is the plan?
Jay Jaffe: No, I think they'll put him on the Posey plan and keep him in the minors for "defensive purposes" - i.e., their defensible excuse to game his service time, not his ability to work behind the plate. And yes, I do think they need somebody better than Cervelli. Tomorrow on site, I'll be running the Yankees' GM for a day piece. Just wait until you see my suggestion for dealing with the little pipsqueak.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): Why is Mark Cuban out of the Astros bidding so quickly after being so hot after the Rangers? Were they just a little undervalued because of the bankrupcy?
Jay Jaffe: Probably several reasons - the Rangers being undervalued due to bankruptcy; perhaps having better TV and stadium deals (I don't know this, just a guess; the Rangers' big TV deal didn't come through until after the sale, no?); the differences between Dallas, where he owns the NBA Mavericks and Houston; the richness of the Rangers' farm system and current roster vs. the impoverished Astros' system; nightmares about those rainbow uniforms from the 1970s and 1980s.
Dennis (LA): If you were the Angels, would you rather have Crawford or Beltre? And who do you like better, Putz or Uehara? Thanks
Jay Jaffe: It all depends upon the price tag and the length of the deal. Crawford is the more consistent producer of the two, but Beltre in his good years is probably more valuable due to position scarcity. I like Putz better than Uehara - both have recent injury issues, but the latter is older by a few years and seems riskier.
JayT (San Francisco): Wouldn't Carlos Pena make the most sense at first base for the Cubs? He get's on base well (as long as his batting average is ~.250) and he has good power.
Also, he probably only wants a one year deal which would free up the Cubs to bid on one of the high end first basemen coming to the market next year.
Jay Jaffe: Pena's batting average hasn't been anywhere close to .250 in the past two seasons (.227 and .196) and his offensive value has crashed through the floor. He's not a horrible bargain basement stopgap if you know you can land Fielder or Gonzalez or whomever, but the Cubs have so much money tied up long term that I'm not sure they can think that far ahead.
Matt (Chicago): Do either Harden or Penny interest you as low-risk/high-reward guys in the thin FA pitching market?
Jay Jaffe: I don't see either as low-risk at all. Harden's been worth 1.0 WARP at $16 million over the past 2 years while making 44 starts. Penny's been worth 2.4 WARP at $12.5 million while making just 39 starts. I wouldn't touch either with a 50-foot pole.
Matt (Chicago): Would Vazquez's drop in velocity give you pause as a GM looking at FA pitchers?
Jay Jaffe: Absolutely, though I think his issues have more to do with mechanics than with injury. The right pitching coach may be able to straighten him out. Then again, he was nothing special in Chicago under Don Cooper, who's one of the best in the biz, so who the hell knows?
Guillermo (Montevideo, Uruguay): Hi Jay! Now that Baseball season is over, letīs go off-topic: give us your opinion on the feasibility of adapting or getting ideas from sabermetrics and applying them to football (soccer).
Jay Jaffe: Helllooooo Montevideo! To my (admittedly limited) knowledge there are already people doing some stuff with advanced metrics in soccer. When I visited ESPN's World Cup site I was impressed by the level of detail in the stats even at that point. I'm sure there's at least some kind of audience for advanced analysis given how large the worldwide soccer audience is.
Frank (Dover): What do the Red Sox do at catcher with Victor Martinez headed to Detroit?
Jay Jaffe: If it's me, I'm signing Yorvit Torrealba or Miguel Olivo to a two-year deal and hoping Salty shows enough to merit playing time in front of them. Both of those free agents are at least average defensively while delivering adequacy in one of the two key offensive categories (OBP for Yorvit, SLG for Miggy). Neither made $3 million last year, so neither should be too expensive, though John Buck's contract may have blown up the market.
Clint (Chicago): Given all that Dayton Moore has done to rebuild the Royals' system, how long will he last as GM? He has earned some more time, but it strikes me a bit like Tampa, when LaMar got dumped because (at least partly, I assume) he was bad at putting together a major league roster.
Jay Jaffe: Moore's latest contract runs through 2014, which should be long enough to see if this current bumper crop of prospects starts to pan out and change the direction of the franchise. Given the rave reviews of the system, yes, I'd say he's bought that time, but yes, like Chuck LaMar, his skills are in scouting and development, and he's absolutely pitiful when it comes to assembling a big league roster.
Josh Hamilton (cloud 9): Hooray for me! I won an MVP!
Jay Jaffe: Happy ginger ale, dude. I'm partial to Robinson Cano, but I can't complain about Hamilton winning given that the Rangers had essentially sewn up the AL West when he went down, and that Cano and Miguel Cabrera did little to distinguish themselves in his absence.
Dave (Chicago): If the A's go into next season with the team as currently configured and the Rangers fail to sign Cliff Lee, are the A's legitimate contenders for the AL West?
Jay Jaffe: I like the pitching but where the hell is the offense supposed to come from on that team? They had three guys with TAvs above .275 last year, Jack Cust, Coco Crisp, and Daric Barton, and the first two are gone now. Yes, they'll have Chris Carter, but that's not enough.
Billy Beane's inability to build an offense in Oakland over the past several years is downright depressing.
Bill (New Mexico): Does Pujols get re-upped this winter, and if so, what does the contract look like? (Bonus question: what would it look like if you were the one writing it?)
Jay Jaffe: The more I hear, the more I believe he might actually hit the market. I've got no idea off the top of my head what a fair deal for him looks like, but if I've got to pay A-Rod-level dollars in that market, I might blanch too.
WilliamWilde (Boston): Magglio Ordonez was somehow a type A free agent (pretty amazing). The Tigers did not offer him arbitration. Please discuss.
Jay Jaffe: Maggs can still hit when available, but he's averaged only 120 games a year for the past three, is weak defensively, and has been grossly overpaid of late (7.2 WARP for $51 million for 2008-2010). Why would you want that back unless it's for much, much cheaper?
Cris E (St Paul, MN): If Pujols hits the market he looks like a Kenny Williams target. Who else comes to mind with the stomach to sit at that table?
Jay Jaffe: Theo Epstein. Mike Rizzo. Andy MacPhail. Jon Daniels?
Colin Jaffe (Cranford, NJ): New rumor has the Yanks at 6 years and a little under $140M for Lee. Is that too long for Lee? How well does he age? Can/will anyone else match that bid?
Jay Jaffe: The annual amount is fine, but I don't like the idea of a six-year guarantee for Lee given that he's already 32 with a history of back trouble. I don't think any other team, even the Rangers, could go that length at that price.
Dick Whitman (NY): How deplorable is it that the chairperson of the NY Chapter of the BBWAA voted Soriano as the 4th most valuable player in the American League?
Is it any more deplorable than him stating that it's his opinion and you can't criticize it because everyone is entitled to their own opinion?
Jay Jaffe: I don't think Soriano's a defensible vote at #4 no matter where it came from. If you're an MVP voter, you've got to do better than "everyone is entitled to their own opinion." You've gotta make your case as to why he belongs there.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): So is Drew any more likely than Upton to be moved this year? I kind of suspect that one of the last things sticking to the wall might be an offer for the young SS.
Jay Jaffe: No, because Drew's relatively cheap, under club control for two more years, and not signed to a long-term deal. Nor is he a particularly shining talent except in this grim shortstop market. What's the impetus to move him?
Stacy (Springfield, IL): Hello Jay! Please keep up the great work! :) Since it is getting colder and colder outside, it becomes that much easier to stay inside and daydream about baseball. I have two questions:
1.) While you've probably answered this before, who are some players you think will surprise us at the end of their careers as solid Hall of Fame candidates (Chase Utley could be on this path).
2.) LOVED your evaluating managers book! Are you planning to write another book anytime? Is anyone else at BP publishing anytime soon? Thank you again! Have a great Thanksgiving!
Jay Jaffe: Stacy, while I appreciate the kind words, that was my unrelated namesake Chris Jaffe who did the managers book. I have a book project of my own on the back burner, and coming from BP publishing are the 2011 annual and a Joe Sheehan collection. Your first question is a good one for the basis of an article, I think, so I'm going to save it for a day I can answer it without looking at the clock.
Two more questions because I literally do have a plane to catch.
Dizzy (Leksand, Sweden): You are Dayton Moore for a day - what would you need to move Greinke? Any other trade or FA you'd target, geared towards 2012 and beyond?
Jay Jaffe: I'd need another young front-line pitcher in addition to prospects. The returns for most Cy-caliber starters on the trade market seem underwhelming, too heavily weighted towards prospects. Me, I want at least something to put in the rotation now as well as something for later.
Chris (work): Word is it that Lee is not happy with the Yanks offer - he wants seven years.
Jay Jaffe: Word is that no free agent is ever happy with anyone's first offer. This is not news.
Colin Jaffe (Cranford, NJ): Who gets in the Hall from the Kevin Brown/Curt Schilling/Mike Mussina triumvirate?
Jay Jaffe: Last question today goes to a Jaffe. And much as I loathe Curt Schilling with every fiber of my being, I think his role in starring in the postseason and winning two world championships lifts him above the others here.
Jay Jaffe: Okay folks, that's all I've got time for today. Thanks for stopping by, and happy turkey day to all of you - please take a moment to count your blessings, and if you're traveling, travel safely!