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Chat: Eric Seidman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday December 20, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Eric Seidman.

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Skip who's been naughty or nice, Eric Seidman's checking his list and checking it twice, and wonders who's been heating up the Hot Stove to fend off the ice.

Eric Seidman: Hey everyone, apologies for the short delay. Had to get something with my car taken care of. Here to chat now.

Tom (Madison): With the additions of Matsui, DeJesus, and Willingham, what do you think of the A's offense and whether they'll be legitimate contenders next season?

Eric Seidman: I really like what the As did to improve their offense. Is this a 95-win juggernaut? No way. But they managed to go 81-81 with an inept offense and a tremendous, young pitching staff. The Rangers, even without Lee, will be pretty good, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the As win the division.

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): I have read that the Nats might have offered Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen, Michael Burgess and danny Espinosa for Zach Greinke. The team gets credit for forging a deal, even if Greinke turned them down. Still, was that a fair price, or were the Nats overpaying if it were true?

Eric Seidman: To me, that is too much to surrender IF you cannot sign Greinke to an extension on the spot. Zimmermann is a good young pitcher, and Storen looked great last year as well. Burgess and either Espinosa/Desmond I would gladly give up for Greinke with/without the extension, but the other two would make me hesitate. Now, if Greinke signed a 4-5 year extension after the trade, I could live with it, but this trade made me think of the Carmelo Anthony rumors from a month ago, where he wasn't set on signing an extension with the Nets and then the Nets would end up giving up too many players to the point that they wouldn't have been all that good even WITH Anthony. Valiant effort from the Nats, but I think it is better for their future that they held back here.

MickeyRivers (NYC): What are your thoughts on the Tigers rotation? Do you think Scherzer can repeat his 2nd half success and will Porcello take a step forward?

Eric Seidman: Scherzer is a buddy of mine and he is one of the hardest working pitchers in the league. His second half is for real, and the Tigers have two aces in he and Verlander. Porcello I have NEVER been high on, and I often get yelled at in chats for my belief that he will never develop into a front of the rotation hurler. I hope he does, but I just don't see it happening. I feel like Joe Blanton would look good in the Tigers rotation to add stability, but when you have pitchers like Verlander and Scherzer at the top of the rotation, you're doing well already.

Tony (Albuquerque): I know this is a huge longshot but hear me out: The Royals are going to have a tiny payroll after Meche comes off the books this year. They are one of the few teams that might be able to afford Pujols', $25-$30M a year contract. Albert went to school in the KC area. Should the Royals make a run for him and do they have a chance to get him?

Eric Seidman: They should make a run at him for the sake of being able to say "We made a run at Pujols! We're trying!" But Pujols is not going to the Royals. What the Royals and Dayton Moore need to avoid is seeing that tiny payroll and automatically assuming they need to pay SOMEONE, ANYONE, to make a splash. That is what happened with Meche and Jose Guillen. If nobody is that attractive, hold back, let the youngsters play.

Martin K (Brooklyn): How bullish are you on Brandon Morrow?

Eric Seidman: So bullish. In fact, I have a raging clue. That's how bullish.

Tim (Chicago): At this point, would you say the White Sox are the favorites to win the AL Central division? Over/under 45 home runs for Adam Dunn?

Eric Seidman: Under. He will hit 40 home runs on the dot. I would peg them as my favorites, but I'm not really confident with that. The AL Central is really unpredictable. For all we know, Sizemore returns to form and the Indians are in contention. And the Twins seem to lose players every year and somehow remain as strong. Right now I'd say White Sox 87-75, Twins 85-77, to give an indication of how close I think it can be.

James (DC): How many games do you see the Phillies winning next season? Although I love the rotation, it seems like there's a lot of injury concerns -- Halladay and Oswalt (shoulder) and Lee (back). Not to mention there's an aging offensive core.

Eric Seidman: Right around where they were last year. 94-96 wins, first place in the NL. Every team has injury concerns, especially with pitchers. And EVERYONE got hurt last year, yet they still won 97 games.

Spirou (Montreal): Do you think Brandon Morrow can pull a Jonathan Sanchez on us in 2011 ?

Eric Seidman: I think Brandon Morrow is a better pitcher than Jonathan Sanchez. I think Brandon Morrow will have a better 2011 than Jonathan Sanchez. I like Sanchez. Ipso facto, I really like Morrow.

Jquinton82 (NY): Need a 2nd opinion on this trade: Cliff Lee, Nick Swisher, Hank Conger for David Price, Aaron Hill and Matt Wieters.

Eric Seidman: I'm just going to use this as an example. People -- I have no problem evaluating fantasy trades, but you need to tell me how your team is set up, what type of league it is, etc. Otherwise I have no idea. All trades need context to be properly valued.

Mo (Las Vegas): Congrats on your Phils getting Lee!! Here in Vegas, type of work not always include a laptop, so most of the time, for my question to be read, gotta send it earlier: Which combo would have a better impact on the Royals: Butler, Hosmer and Jesus Montero if they get him, (pick 2 of 3) and what do you think Butler could command in a trade? My thinking is Butler will be expensive when the Royals can contend, so better to get high ceiling middle IF/OF to grow with the other pieces: Moustakas, Myers, all the pitching, etc. Thanks for reading and happy holidays

Eric Seidman: I don't know that Billy Butler would command all that much from an NL team given that he is a defensive liability and there is obviously no DH spot, and AL teams might not want to part ways with much to get a higher-priced player without a true position. I think the best bet is if he stays in Kansas City. Just because he's in the majors doesn't mean he isn't considered part of their solid young core throughout the system. Why would they get Jesus Montero though? Was this before the Greinke-to-Milwaukee trade? Either way, keep Butler, let him be the "elder statesman" of the young Royals group.

GC (Confuseville): Hi Eric--Given your interest in contracts and value, I thought you might be able to answer a question that I can't figure: Why is the "expiring contract" such a big deal in trades in the NBA, but never a factor in MLB? What is inherently different between the structure of the two leagues so that NBA players can have the nickname "Expiring Contract" (if only by Bill Simmons), but I'm sure Milton Bradley won't be bandied about as a trade asset this year? Thanks.

Eric Seidman: Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I understand it, the salaries involved in an NBA trade need to be within about 15% of each other. You can't trade a $24 million player for a $4 million. So an expiring contract would make the salaries involved match, or come close to it, and then the team GETTING the expiring contract player doesn't re-sign him in the off-season. So if I trade you a $24 million player for a $8 million and a $16 million expiring contract, I just effectively dumped $24 million. With baseball, the trade rules are different so it doesn't come into play.

Jess (NYC): What chance do you give A.J. Burnett to return to form next season?

Eric Seidman: 70%. He isn't as bad as he looked last year.

Matt (Chicago): Are those of you in the saber community bullish or bearish on Carlos Pena in a Cub uniform? Park effect should help but the higher ground-ball rate seems worrisome.

Eric Seidman: Pena is considered a saber darling because he is a three-true outcomes player, and all of those players are generally undervalued by the majority of fans. In that case the saber community usually overcompensates to even out how such players are perceived. I mean, Jack Cust is good, but come on. The groundball rate increase is definitely worrisome, as his numbers took a dip but a lot of it seemingly had to do with that change in balls in play distribution. I also think people forget it was only three years ago that Pena just, well, wasn't that good. I feel like he'll have a decent year for the Cubs, something like .245/.370/.510 with 34 HR, but if he is a groundball machine again that obviously changes.

Spirou (Montreal): I am still not sure whether I should keep holding on to Cameron Maybin.What are the odds that he becomes Mike Cameron at best ?

Eric Seidman: Not seeing it. He still hasn't learned how to run routes in the outfield and Mike Cameron was a defensive beast. Maybin might grow into the offense of Cameron, but the defense ain't happening.

Henchman Holding Wrench (Underground Layer): With all of the zip code changes of aces this offseason, everyone has seemingly forgotten that Dan Haren was a huge part of trade talks last season. He went to the Angels and was "ehh." Do you see any of the pitchers who've switched teams struggling in their new role, or just not living up to lofty expectations immediately? This would extend to include the Shaun Marcums of the world, too.

Eric Seidman: Yeah. Zach Duke. Because he stinks.

Blake (Lowell): What do you make of Josh Beckett this year? The world's most unpredicatble "ace"...

Eric Seidman: Good year. Not great, but good. Will miss 6 starts for back/blister problems. 3.68 ERA, high K%, lower walk rate than last couple of years.

Rob (Alaska): How do you project someone like Geo Soto with so many x factors: injuries, weight gain, weight loss, relatively late developer (including three years at AAA)? Or is that just noise that I'm better off ignoring? What do you see for Soto in 2010 (yes, it's a fantasy question)?

Eric Seidman: Honestly -- you're best bet is just looking at what he has done over the last few years, weighting it, and using that as his talent level. We're talking about two awesome years and one poor one. I would lean toward him being very solid again, but not considered good enough to expend an early pick on like a Mauer or McCann, which can play to your benefit.

Frank (New Jersey): How concerned should Yankee fans be about that rotation heading in 2011? I know Pettitte is only a back of the rotation guy at this point, but don't the Yanks need to get him on board?

Eric Seidman: It would really help, but I think the whole Yankees-rotation-is-crumbling idea is overblown. This team is bringing back virtually everyone after winning over 90 games. They will be fine. Sabathia-Hughes-Burnett is a very good 1-3, and the back can be shored up, for sure (PUN ALERT), but it isn't like their season hinges on Pettitte's return.

dianagramr (NYC): 1) Your favorite (or most memorable) baseball moment from 2010? 2) Which 2010 offseason FA contract has made you shake your head the most? 3) What are you drinking right now?

Eric Seidman: 1) Halladay's perfect game
2) 3-yr deals to Jesse Crain/Matt Guerrier (I have an article on this during the week)
3) My 25th birthday was Thurs the 16th, and my girlfriend threw me a surprise party at which I received a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. I'm at work right now -- and it isn't Mad Men work -- so I'm not drinking, but that's what I drank over the weekend.

Spirou (Montreal): I will make a bold statement here.I would not be surprised if to some extent,Edwin Encarnacion becomes next year's Jose Bautista.Consider these similarities : Encarnacion does not really have a position,is on a 1 year /2.5 milion contract ( Bautista was on a 1 year /2.5) and they have somewhat similar hitting stats in the past if you take away 2010.Encarnacion also has the bat speed and youth on his side.Not saying he will hit 50 but 30-40 HR is not out of the question considering last year's HR rate per AB.What do you think of this ?

Eric Seidman: Please don't tell me "Who is the next Bautista" is this year's version of "Who are the next Rays". Encarnacion could be in line for a power spike, but I'll buy you a teacup pig if he hits 40 HR.

Matt (Chicago): What is a peak yr triple slash line for Starlin Castro?

Eric Seidman: What am I, Zoltar from "Big"? +1 for timely topical references! The dude has played one year. I've always said peak Renteria would be a good comp, if that helps.

Tony (Albuquerque): Simple question: did the Royals leave money on the table in the Grienke trade (was there a better offer?); and are the royals better/worse/indifferent for making the trade?

Eric Seidman: IF that Nationals offer was for real, I may lean towards that one, but Jeffres and Cain are pretty big deals, too. However, and I hate saying this, it is impossible to evaluate how this makes the Royals because their GM has always shown a knack for acquiring and developing young talent, but has no idea how to construct a MLB roster around those players.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): The Yankees have to still be prowling around for a starting pitcher, don't they? Even if Andy Petitte signs there's room to question his health, Hughes' durability, and Burnett's head. Would they enter the season with these guys and just keep an eye on the market as the season goes on?

Eric Seidman: Yes. No reason to overreact now. They won over 90 games last year and are likely to do that again this year. Wait a bit, see what develops after Pavano signs, and take it from there. Maybe they go get Blanton for the back end. They aren't going to get a top-of-the-rotation pitcher, but someone like Blanton instead of Mitre could work out.

Greg (Boston): At this point in time, would you rank the AL East contenders as Boston, Tampa, New York in that order?

Eric Seidman: Boston, New York, Tampa, though I don't think Tampa comes close to contending this year. Something like Boston 95 wins, New York 92 wins, Tampa 86 wins.

Total disrespect (San Francisco): Edgar Renteria characterized a $1 million offer to be a terrible hitter off the bench as "total disrespect." Can you break down for us how big of an offer would be partial disrespect (say, 50% disrespect), and perhaps what Renteria should actually be worth on the open market?

Eric Seidman: It was disrespectful. I mean, he hit a home run off of Cliff Lee without a friggin' bicep, and all they could do was offer him one million. The nerve of... I lost my straight face. Got pretty far though, right? Total disrespect would be $1 million. Partial disrespect would be $3 million + incentives worth $1.5 million. Respect would be $7 million with incentives. Unfortunately for Renteria, if that defines respect, he does not deserve respect this year.

Geoff (LA): Do you see any team topping the Angels offer for Adrian Beltre (5/70 mil)?

Eric Seidman: I really don't. All the heavy hitters are probably out at this point except the Angels. Unless Beltre and his agent can convince the Halos to bid against themselves I think he ends up in LA.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Given their recent history with getting position players across the gulf from "prospect potential" to actual "big league performance", and given the bus loads of fine prospects they've been amassing recently, should they be making some changes in their minor league operations to try to get the best results from these kids? They've had some fine youngsters just not realize the potential implied by their MLEs. Beltran was a long time ago...

Eric Seidman: Given the Beltran shout out at the end I was able to deduce that by "they" you mean the Royals. And yes, the Royals should be playing their young players. Nobody goes to their games even with "superstars" like Jose Guillen and Gil Meche, so go ahead and win 66 games with the young guys, let them begin to develop at the MLB level, and see what happens. I don't think it's as much their MiLB operations as it is the way the MLB team operates. Don't sign Francoeur when you have Mitch Maier. Don't look at a third baseman if you have Moustakas. Don't screw with Alex Gordon when he deserves an MLB roster spot, etc.

Troy (Madison): Is the idea in emptying what little was left on the farm and getting Greinke, that the Brewers basically have 2011 to compete before Fielder and Weeks hit free agency? Are they banking on Dusty Baker ruining the Reds rotation?

Eric Seidman: This is the "all-in" scenario. It's pretty cool to see happen even if it is super-duper risky. But Fielder is gone after 2011 for sure. Greinke isn't signed for too much longer though so it isn't like he is stuck with Milwaukee if they don't make it happen this year and then Fielder leaves.

Greg (Boston): With Adrian Gonzalez in the fold, I guess Kevin Youkilis moves back to third. How big of hit defensively are the Red Sox taking with this move?

Eric Seidman: Youkilis is a very good fielding first baseman. Gonzalez is better. Beltre is a better third baseman than Youkilis, but Youk is still pretty good at the hot corner. Given the offensive performance of Gonzalez and how we shouldn't have expected a repeat performance from Beltre this year anyway, it's negligible at best in terms of overall value.

Tony (Albuquerque): No doubt Dayton has proven to be unfit to swim in the Free Agent pool so far. To be fair he hasn't really had a chance to sign free agents to compliment his homegrown talent. Yet.

Eric Seidman: However -- he has done NOTHING to show he can handle that job when it does come.

Matt (Whippleville, NY): Jose Reyes: traded by the deadline or plays a full year in Citi?

Eric Seidman: Full year in Citi. It would be intriguing to see him traded, but I just don't feel like it's going to happen, whether it's best for the Mets or not.

Liam (Malone, NY): Who do you like better from here on out...Rickie Weeks or Jose Reyes?

Eric Seidman: Reyes. He is much more multi-dimensional and I'll take a good fielding SS over a poor fielding 2B any day, especially when the SS has actual offensive talent.

Jim Hendry (Chicago): Do you buy the late-season Z resurgence or was that all about the strand rate?

Eric Seidman: In my work on trying to figure out the enigma that is Javier Vazquez I found that Zambrano was one of very, very few pitchers who consistently posted ERAs smaller than what the peripheral-based estimators suggest. He may have had a high strand rate but he has proven in the past that he can sustain numbers like that.

James (DC): Who fields a competitive team first -- the Washington Nationals or the Baltimore Orioles? What year?

Eric Seidman: The Nationals have Strasburg, Harper, Zimmerman, Werth, and Storen. The Orioles have nice young pitching but I don't see much on the offensive front to like. They are also in the AL East. The Nationals should be more likely to contend because they have some solid players on both sides of the ball and are in a division that will be much easier to win.

BL (Bozeman, MT): Does it make sense to evaluate this weekend's trade as Dayton Moore's first step in trying to configure the talent at hand into a major league roster for 2012/13, or should KC still be in the talent gathering phase?

Eric Seidman: Maybe. Though if Greinke asked for a trade his hand would have been forced. We'll have to see how things go during spring training. I mean, he signed Francoeur and then Melky Cabrera, the only player I like LESS than Francoeur. Is he really going to cut them? Really? I doubt it. This would be the perfect year to infuse the major league roster with the developing talent, but in the back of my head I just don't see it happening, obviously to the detriment of the team.

Tom (Madison): Kurt Suzuki has caught a lot of games over the last few years and his offensive output seems to have regressed in a big way last season. His WAR in 2008 was 3.0, but it dropped to 2.6 in 2009, and then 1.6 in 2010. Do you see the A's sitting him more in 2011?

Eric Seidman: Yeah -- I'm sure Donaldson, Powell, or some Bako-esque reserve could take some playing time away from him. And the As seem to be in the mold of preserving the health of their players.

bishopscreed (Bangkok): "Don't sign Francoeur when you have Mitch Maier." I don't get it. Francoeur is younger than Maier, has more upside, and wasn't expensive. What's the point of playing Maier every day?

Eric Seidman: He does not have more upside, and while he might not be expensive, it was an unneeded expense. Francoeur is not a difference maker. If you want to sign an outfielder, sign an outfielder. Don't sign someone who looks like he should be great and isn't, UNLESS you are going to strictly use him in a platoon role. Color me skeptical that Francouer DOESN'T play everyday.

Dennis (LA): Thank you for the chat, Eric. Where do you see Rafael Soriano eventually ending up? Should the Angels go after him after they secure Beltre's services?

Eric Seidman: I was going to say Angels. I could also see the White Sox swooping in and using Soriano as their closer.

Tony (Albuquerque): Speaking of Alex Gordon, what do you see his ceiling as anymore?

Eric Seidman: Something like .270/.350/.460, good, but certainly nowhere near "Next George Brett!" status.

Dennis (LA): Have you read JC Bradbury's "Hot Stove Economics"? Thoughts? Any books you've read this winter that you'd recommend (both baseball and non-baseball)?

Eric Seidman: I have not read it. The only book I've read recently is Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball, which was phenomenal. But I'm a big basketball fan. Honestly, with all that I do (trust me, I barely sleep) I don't have a whole lot of time to read anymore.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): If you're the Twins, do you trust the one year of results and start adjusting the roster to the low-HR, high-2b park effects? I don't mean drastic changes, but the team has been making sounds about increasing speed and diversifying away from the HR on offense and I'm mostly curious how reliable one year of stats is when assuming how it'll play in 2011.

Eric Seidman: In my view, it would be suboptimal to start focusing on targeting players based on one year of park data. Now, maybe diversify and sign some guys who fit BOTH molds, but don't ever put all of your eggs in one basket if you're unsure the basket is even there. Ooohhh, I sound like I'm from The Matrix now. +2 for another timely topical reference.

JD (AZ): Do you think the Cuban refugee card has been played once too many? For every Alexei Ramirez there seem to be a whole lot more that cash the check but never find success in the states.

Eric Seidman: Perhaps. Same way for every Amare Stoudemire out of high school there were 10 Darius Miles's. Regardless, increasing scouting ability on an international level is a big way to develop a roster or farm system in a not-so-traditional manner and it isn't suddenly going to stop. If anything, I would think teams will be interested in enhancing their scouting overseas in order to do a better job of pinpointing the Alexei's.

David (Utah): Can you squint hard enough and see Escobar developing into Jose Reyes?

Eric Seidman: Alcides? His career minor league slash is .293/.333/.377. Reyes' career minors slash was .284/.337/.422. Alcides stole 176 bases to Reyes' 129. Both players were slap hitters in the minors with oodles of speed. So really the question boils down to whether or not Alcides will develop the power. I'm not so sure, but even if he is Reyes-lite he will have value.

Bill (New Mexico): As regards teams "making a run at" Pujols, do you really think the Cardinals will be unsuccessful in locking him up before spring training? How much of a hit to their payroll should they be willing to incur in order to keep him?

Eric Seidman: I don't know if he'll sign during spring training but I expect him to sign during the season. I've said this numerous times, but you don't lock Holliday up for 7 yrs unless you are going to keep Pujols in the fold. And if you can't sign Pujols you gravely miscalculated elsewhere. Pujols wants to win, and the Cardinals will need to show him the money as well as getting players who can actually play positions instead of Skip Schumaker.

drmorris (Championship City): The Giants upgraded this offseason with...what, exactly? Is it possible that Sabean has misread the 2010 Giants as a fundamentally sound winner? Or is AT&T Park really that frightening to free-agent hitters, world title be damned?

Eric Seidman: It's an interesting topic. The Giants won the 2010 World Series and played admirably in the playoffs, with Bochy doing a masterful job and Javier Lopez neutralizing any potential threat from, well, anyone. Add in top notch starting pitching and timely hits from a motley crue of misfits and castoffs, and they certainly earned their championship. However, they are not immune to regression and Sabean should not rest on his laurels and expect similar success in 2011. Keeping Burrell was a good move, and Huff can't hurt, even though I thought it made more sense to just play Burrell at first base and let Huff walk. The pitching staff is dynamite as well. They could easily win the division again, but it seems risky to expect certain high levels of performance from Torres, Huff, Burrell, et al, and not look for improvements elsewhere.

Spirou (Montreal): Will Chase Headley ever blossom into the player he was meant to be ?

Eric Seidman: To me, Headley is a good glove who can hit around .260/.340/.440, and nothing more. That has some value while he is under team control, but once those more expensive arbitration years come around he probably won't be worth the money. He reminds me a lot of Francoeur in that, if you LOOK at them, they seem like they should be much better than they are. Yes, PETCO suppresses some of his power, but even in Citizen's Bank Park, Headley wouldn't hit more than 24 HR.

Tony (Albuquerque): The Rockies are talking about extending CarGon for a 7 year type deal. Between him and Tulo are the Rockies slowly painting themselves into a corner?

Eric Seidman: Well, CarGo only has a little over a year of service time and is under team control for a while so it isn't like he wouldn't be in Colorado for another 4-5 years already. Signing him to a 7-yr deal would just buy out all of his arb years and then a year or two of free agency. That is nowhere near the same thing as giving Tulo an extension on top of a deal that doesn't expire for another two-three years.

Jesse (Chicago): Early guess on 2011 rookie of the year?

Eric Seidman: Nah. To me, that is really just a pointless award. It doesn't mean anything. Wow, such and such was the best first year player. I don't know how the Rookie of the Year award got started, but I'd love to end it. Sorry if that sounds curmudgeonly, but I just can't stand people talking about that award.

Snack Flag (NY): I really feel bad for KC fans after that trade. There's a good possibility that none of those players becomes an impact MLB player (my opinion). Do you think it was a mistake to demand "up the middle talent"? Why not just get the best prospect package possible (that Greinke would approve) and then trade from your stacked farm system to fill CF/SS/etc. Or just get those things in free agency. I would think it's easy to find no-hit, good glove shortstops like Escobar in any market, or a fourth outfielder like Cain in any market. It just seems that their insistence on positions ruined their leverage even more than Greinke's NTC.

Eric Seidman: Greinke wanted out. He isn't signed for that much longer. He prob won't sign an extension with the Brewers. I'm not sure if the positional demands really impacted anything, and we honestly don't know what the other offers were. Perhaps this WAS the best offer. He only wanted to go to a certain number of teams, and wasn't going to sign an extension right away like Halladay did last year, so there was a lot working against the Royals from the start. The positional aspect might just have been post-trade rhetoric to try and pump up the return.

MickeyRivers (NYC): What do you think of the Tigers signing of Victor Martinez? Does he put up big numbers DHing and hitting next to Miggy Cabrera?

Eric Seidman: I'm sure he puts up great numbers for a year or two and declines gracefully. Decent move to keep the Tigers afloat offensively, though a lot of Victor's value came from catching. If he isn't catching, his value takes a hit. Still a pretty good move.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): There has been a lot of talk about over paying for relief pitchers this off season. I recognize certainty is a hard commodity to come by in relief pitchers but it seems rational to me for GMs to chase certainty, even if its relatively unattainable. My question: is the fungibility of relievers as widely believed/understood among GMs as it is in the sabremetric community? Thanks for the chat!

Eric Seidman: My article on Wednesday is on this very topic. I'm not spoiling it for you Matty.

Matt (San Diego, Ca): Expectations for Harang in '11?

Eric Seidman: Something like 175 innings, a 3.65 ERA, 175 strikeouts and 42 walks. Will miss some time from inevitable injuries but still put up 3.5+ WARP.

kcshankd (huh?): I don't get your criticisms of DM and Royals re FA OF at all. They don't have any OF talent to block. Maier Blanco and Dyson were fighting a battle for two spots before Frenchy and Melky. Someone has got to play. They also need to spend some bucks to keep the MLBPA off their backs Harmless moves, check back in June 2012...

Eric Seidman: If it was a one time thing, sure, harmless move to sign Melky. But the fact that KC signing Francoeur has been a headline in the works for four years now, which in itself indicative of the type of approach he takes to signing major league free agents, is problematic. The Royals have a lot of young talent and I think it will be great if they grow together at the major league level and succeed. I just don't think Dayton Moore is cut out to be the GM of a team like that. Scouting Director, sure, but not GM.

Dave (Chicago): What do you see the A's doing with Josh Outman, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery? There doesn't seem to be a place in the bullpen or rotation.

Eric Seidman: Gotta' wait and see what he can do when healthy and then make the decision. Perhaps he comes back and Gio gets hurt so you have another young starter to plug in. Or maybe he can be packaged elsewhere. You can never have enough good, young pitching, so it really wouldn't hurt to just keep him and figure out the role later.

Matt (Chicago): Is this the year Chris Carpenter's recent run of good health/200+IP comes to an end? With the amount of work done to his arm, I can't believe he's still humming along.

Eric Seidman: I think we saw last year that he probably isn't the perennial CYA contender anymore, but 190 IP of a 3.30 ERA is still great to have.

Tom (Madison): Cahill put up some gaudy stats last season, but his peripherals weren't strong. I think he had 118 Ks. How does he become a true front-line starter instead of a guy who performs well because of the stadium he pitches in?

Eric Seidman: WAYYYY too early to tell. Some pitchers are able to succeed in spite of poorer peripherals. Others aren't. It's easy to think that poor peripherals means he will be less effective next season, but very rarely do people consider that he could improve those peripherals. Rick Porcello hasn't. Maybe Cahill will.

MJ (Edmonton): Think Manny signs somewhere, and if so where?

Eric Seidman: Why not Toronto or Seattle? Both teams could use some more offense, it would add more personality to teams without a current identity, and it's not like the commitment would be a big deal in both duration or finances.

MickeyRivers (NYC): Any chance the Yankees put Banuelos, Betances, or Brackman in the rotation this year?

Eric Seidman: I say you give them the chance to take the coveted Mitre spot in spring training and go from there. They can certainly plug one of those pitchers in that fifth spot and not lose much production, if any. And it would be good to infuse some young talent like that on the major league roster.

Parker (UT): Speaking of the Twins, do you expect soemthing lf a rebound from Span? He had BABIPs in 08 and 09, but crashed last year. He's the sort of guy that could post BABIPs, though, so it coul dbe that last year was the outlier. What say you?

Eric Seidman: It's not uncommon for speedsters to post high BABIPs, and after settling in the .340-.350 range, Span's plummeted to .294 last year. His BIP distribution remained virtually intact, and I don't know enough about how hard he hit the ball, but it's entirely possible he was just unlucky last year. As much as I cringe when analysts suggest everything has to do with luck, in this case it might just be that he hit balls right at people. I see no reason why he couldn't go back to that .335-.345 range in 2011.

John (Philadelphia): Two Questions What is the most the Phillies can get for Joe Blanton and how much of his salary can they eat? Do you think Dominic Brown will start the year in the major leagues or will the Phillies sign a veteran bat like Jermaine Dye.

Eric Seidman: Dom Brown I say starts in the majors, but isn't an everyday player until the end of May. Going with a platoon of Brown/Francisco should be fine. I don't see what Jermaine Dye could provide that Ben Francisco can't, and the latter makes like $500,000. As for Blanton, the Phillies need to wait. There is no rush to trade him. Once Pavano signs, Blanton is the most attractive trade target, a 180-200 IP pitcher with a talent level in that 4.10-4.30 ERA range. If they traded him right now I would say they eat $9 of the $17 million and get prospects we never hear from again in return. Come February I would venture to guess they eat $6 million and get a couple prospects, one of whom will have some type of impact.

Bill Baer (Philly): Who is your #1 target as the Phillies' LOOGY, free agent or otherwise?

Eric Seidman: Dennys Reyes. Oh wait, nevermind. Scott Eyre still retired? How about the JC Romero from 2007? I think Joe Beimel would be a good fit. I'd also take a flier on Ron Mahay. Realistically, I'd be more comfortable forgoing the idea of a LOOGY and just building a solid overall bullpen. And as iffy as Romero looked last year, he still finished 2nd to Boone Logan in my 2010 LOOGY Awards, which measured the numbers lefty batters produced against a lefty specialist, relative to how those same batters performed against all other lefty pitchers. Maybe bring him back at a bargain price.

Argiris (Phila): What effect do you think not having Davey Lopes at first will have on the Phils running game, if any?

Eric Seidman: I think it will be tough on a guy like Dom Brown, who won't get the same tutelage as the other Phillies, but I also think most of the current Phillies have gotten whatever they're going to get out of Lopes. After 3-4 years you would think they learned to time moves and pick up on specific signals. But if their SB or baserunning numbers falter, we also can't go to Lopes leaving as the source, as he had players in their prime who are now a bit older.

Kevin Youkilis (Boston, MA): Why is everyone so sure I'll be an above-average 3B? Because of 100 games spread over 3 years, with 2 last year? I'll certainly hit enough for the position, and obviously Gonzalez is better at 1B, but come on now.

Eric Seidman: Because you were on my strat team and had a 2 at 3B... duh! In all seriousness, it's not like Youk is going to be a butcher at the hot corner and his bat will more than make up for any decline in defense. Think of it this way... Beltre is a better fielder at 3B than Youk, but Youk has more certainty in his offensive game. You lose a bit of defense but you also gain more certainty in the more easily measurable offensive numbers. I'm cool with that.

Matt (Chicago ): Are you still firmly in the anti-Tyler Colvin camp?

Eric Seidman: I don't think I was ever in the anti-Colvin camp. I just don't know much about him to believe he will blossom into an all star. I guess I just see him as a .280/.320/.450 hitter, which is solid but not spectacular.

Ron (Vancouver): The Jays will make the playoffs at least once in the next 5 seasons, True or False?

Eric Seidman: I'll say true. In 2014, the Jays will win the Wild Card.

Fabio (New York): Which team do you think is going to win the Stanley Cup?

Eric Seidman: Winnipeg Jets. They have this hot shot youngster named Teemu Selanne.

Sanders (CT): Joba should get another shot at the Yankee rotation now, right? I mean, he won't, but still - he should? They have an opening and the competition is Ivan frigging Nova.

Eric Seidman: I wholeheartedly agree. It literally can't hurt. He's already been jerked around enough. See if he can stick. And if not, well then you know for sure.

Sarah (Philly): Does Roy Halladay belong in the Hall Of Fame?

Eric Seidman: Yes. He is the best pitcher of this era, even if this era's pitchers are notches below the Maddux-Pedro-Unit-Clemens era.

Random GM (Chicago): Is Brandon Webb a good guy to take a flier on or are you wary of his shoulder health and the long layoff?

Eric Seidman: Definitely take a flier. If Mark freakin' Prior is still having fliers taken on him, Brandon Webb is worth one or four.

Will (Mactaquac): Hey! That's salt in Winnipeg's wounds on losing the Jets. My roommate literally cried like a hose(r).

Eric Seidman: Sorry, I meant to say the Quebec Nordiques. My hockey knowledge stopped growing in like 1993.

Arlen (Waco, TX): Will the PECOTA projections be available, soon? I have one very early draft this year, and I'd like to be able to plan ASAP. Thanks!

Eric Seidman: We have been auditing the projections diligently and will certainly work to have them out as soon as possible without sacrificing accuracy.

Lars (Brooklyn): Better album by Accept - "Balls to the Wall" or "Metal Heart"?

Eric Seidman: It's the holidays -- all I listen to is Trans Siberian Orchestra right now.

Eric (Denver): Should the A's jump back into the Adrian Beltre sweepstakes, or would the cost not be worth it with what they have in Kevin Kouzmanoff?

Eric Seidman: The As have offered Beltre very solid deals like every team he was a free agent and he turned them down repeatedly. He doesn't want to go to Oakland, so the As shouldn't waste their time.

dantroy (Davis): What do you expect from Jose Bautista in '11? What does PECOTA say?

Eric Seidman: I'll go with .264/.356/.520, with 36 HR.

Marissa (Pittsburgh): Better Christmas gift for my BF, tickets to the Winter Classic or a 10 game ticket package to the Pirates?

Eric Seidman: I'm a baseball lifer. I'd rather watch Paul Maholm go 6.1 IP, 4 ER than watch Sidney Crosby any day of the week. I just can't get into hockey. I don't want to demean it at all, but the Pirates have, in my view, the nicest stadium in baseball history. Go there 10 times.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): MIN has had good luck in getting mileage out of retread relief pitchers. Any guesses who they turn to this year? I think they still need one more and the organization isn't bursting with anyone that didn't underwhelm last year.

Eric Seidman: Mahay could go there and produce well as a LOOGY. I'd still like to see them give Condrey another shot if he can stay healthy. Maybe Grant Balfour too. But this brings up a very good point. The Twins got guys like Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier from the scrapheap, and these guys each just signed lucrative three-year deals. Finding ways to get good bullpen production without spending any money is, to me, the next big market inefficiency.

dantroy (Davis): James Shields greatly upped his K rate last year but gave up a boatload of HRs. Can he get his ERA down around 4.00 or less?

Eric Seidman: Oh yeah. Big Game is a good pitcher. He struggled with some control last year and left way too many phat pitches over the plate, but his true talent is definitely better than a 4.80+ ERA. I don't know if he is a concrete #1 pitcher, but I see no reason why he can't cut back on dingers even if it comes at the expense of punchouts. I think a 4.00 ERA is pretty realistic.

Sanders (CT): Better fantasy season in '11: Andrew McCutchen or Colby Rasmus? I'm concerned about the Cards re-working Colby's swing so he "hits more singles." WTF?

Eric Seidman: McCutchen in 2009: .286/.365/.471, 22 SB. McCutchen in 2010: .286/.365/.449, 33 SB. Both years are very valuable and I actually think his true level of power is in between both of those slugs. He could even step forward this year and be a 20-20 guy. With Rasmus you have a player with a higher ceiling -- I don't see McCutchen being more than a .290/.365/.465 hitter, while Rasmus could be very similar to Jim Edmonds. For next season, however, it really depends on your desire to withstand risk. McCutchen is more of a sure thing, but Rasmus has the higher ceiling.

brian206 (brooklyn): Reyes was also in the big leagues by 19 (IIRC) and Escobar was what a 23 year old rookie

Eric Seidman: Reyes first played in the majors as a 20-year old but his first impact year was as a 22 year old, which is still younger than Alcides was last year. I don't see Alcides developing into Reyes, but I can see him being a lite version whose peak isn't as lengthy. Just very hard to imagine him hitting with any power. And if the power doesn't develop, an awful lot of stock would need to be put into his fielding prowess for him to be considered valuable on any level.

Frustrated Youtube User (Internet): In the year 2010, can you give me a good reason why MLB blocks all MLB videos from youtube? Doesn't this go against the strategy of trying to get new/younger fans?

Eric Seidman: What would it accomplish though? I think it would make sense for MLB to have some type of channel maybe where people could easily see highlights, but they have that at MLB.com. Or maybe a channel on YouTube where you can see old games. What videos are you hoping to get on YouTube? That would help clear things up. Right now it just sounds like one of those things that sounds good in theory but makes little sense overall.

Mike r (Tacoma): I'm high on both Gordon Beckham and Ben Zobrist for next year. Are you in?

Eric Seidman: Zobrist will have more power next year, but I can't see him consistently slugging over .470. I also think Beckham will play closer to his production in 2009 than 2010, but I don't see him being a consistent offensive threat either. I'd say I'm medium-high on them.

Scott (NJ): Could KC have gotten a better package if they shopped Grienke at the deadline? Or did his trade demand pretty much remove that option?

Eric Seidman: I don't think the demand removed the option. I mean was he just not going to pitch if they didn't trade him? Or mail it in like McGreevey in Little Big League? Teams get crazy around the deadline, so even if the Royals lacked leverage I'm sure they could have gotten something equally, if not moreso, substantial by waiting. Then again, I don't know what went into the trade, and Dayton Moore, for all his faults with major league moves, is fantastic with scouting, so perhaps this return is better than initially thought.

Johan Santana (Venezuela): Do I have one more big year left in my arm? Maybe 2012?

Eric Seidman: You've got more than that, big guy. I'd say you have 2 more years of very good production before a mediocre few years of decline. Your peak was fantastic even though the career numbers won't turn out to be all that impressive from a relative standpoint.

Steve (Las Vegas): When does a prospect/young player cross the line and become a bust? Would you consider Alex Gordon, Brandon Wood, Cameron Maybin, Andy Marte, and Joel Guzman busts?

Eric Seidman: Andy Marte - yes. Brandon Wood - yes. Cameron Maybin is approaching that territory though he could still be a somewhat useful major leaguer. Alex Gordon is only going to be a bust relative to expectations. He can still be a productive major leaguer, unlike say Andy LaRoche, but he is not going to become the perennial all star many originally thought. To me, there is no clear line of demarcation but rather a situation that has a certain feel to it. Wood has shown no signs of improvement, nor has Maybin. Gordon has.

R.A.Wagman (Toronto): Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly operate without a set budget. How do you feel about that as a way to run a team? Can it be sustainable? Does it give the Jays' some sort of competitive advantage? Thanks.

Eric Seidman: I would imagine it works similarly to an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, where there is a general idea of how the show will work, but the actual details on a line-by-line basis are not set in stone. I haven't heard of many situations like this before, so perhaps this will be the start of an interesting litmus test. I do think it can work if you have the right person pulling the strings. For instance, telling Ruben Amaro there is no budget is probably not the same as with Alex Anthopolous. That isn't a knock on Amaro, but there are certain GMs who seem to have a better feel for handling money and investments, and Anthopolous appears to be the type of guy who would understand that "no set budget" does not mean "go spend like crazy!"

Tony (Albuquerque): Completely agree that the Royals should be trying to get all of their youngsters to develop in the Majors together. But honestly, who is the youngsters in the Out field that Frechy or Melky are keeping from developing?

Eric Seidman: It's not so much that those guys are blocking players. I mean, you don't need them if you just go with the OF the Royals already have on the roster, but my problem is that those two players are the exact type that Moore gravitates towards, which represents everything he does wrong with major league moves. The Royals could go after major leaguers, but why them?

Chris (KC): Why is this the year for the Royals to "infuse the roster with the developing talent?" That year is 2012. Moustakas is only position player ready and he'll be up by June, Hosmer will get no more than a September look if that, and none of the pitchers has pitched more than 50 innings above A ball. The Royals don't need to be hurrying these guys.

Eric Seidman: I didn't mean full on infusion, but rather that this is the year to START bringing these guys up and not committing to certain veterans or non-tenders.

Nick (South Dakota): Does the arrival of Carey Wood mean Cashner will have a shot in the rotation?

Eric Seidman: Well, in the rotation you've got Zambrano, Dempster, Wells, Silva. If Gorzelanny stays he could fight for the fifth spot. Realistically I feel like Cashner has to be given a shot. A pitcher is almost always worth more in 150+ innings than he is in 50-55 innings, and if Cashner is good enough to be considered a top notch relief prospect, he should be able to produce at least an average line as a starter.

Yohan Flande (Atlanta): Was I a bigger loss for the Phillies than Jayson Werth?

Eric Seidman: Without question. I mean Werth could hit home runs, but Flande. I mean, what can you say about losing Flande other than, boy I hope he doesn't get called in for the Braves with the division on the line.

James (DC): How would you handle Stephen Strasburg when he comes back Tommy John surgery? Does he pitch at all in 2011? Is he in the bullpen in 2012 or just limited pitch counts in his starts that year?

Eric Seidman: If possible, get him to throw a bit at the end of 2011. I have read numerous reports that athletes really like using those final games of a season to pitch after coming back from an injury. In basketball, it would help someone like Amare Stoudemire learn to trust his knees in actual NBA action, just like Strasburg would be able to get accustomed to pitching in the majors without the pressure of starting a new season without having pitched in a major league game. Even if it's something psychological and not easily measured, it seems to be important.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Austin Jackson in '11....big regression, more of the same, or show some progression w/a bit more power?

Eric Seidman: I think he loses a lot of the BABIP-infused line, but DOES develop a bit more power. He hit .293/.345/.400 in 2010. I'll go with .276/.328/.430 in 2011.

Ydnar (Krandeis): Is Miguel Cabrera overrated? I think he's a lazy bum.

Eric Seidman: Absolutely not. The Babyfaced Assassin is entering his age 28 season and has a career .313/.388/.552 line with 247 home runs. Since becoming an everyday player, his worst season had a slash line of .292/.349/.537, which is still really, really, really good. He may look like a lazy bum, but he isn't one.

Nate (Milwaukee): Say a shareholder-owner wants to take a $10,000 distribution from his S-corp. Income for the year is $1,500 and he has an equity deficit of (4,500). What is his makeup of his distributions?

Eric Seidman: Distributions in excess of basis are treated as capital gains, son.

Eric Seidman: Thanks so much, folks. I always love chatting with you and this baby lasted around 4 hrs. Tons of fun as always. Remember, feel free to e-mail me at ejseidman@gmail.com or get at me on Twitter at @EricSeidman.


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