No, it's not a fantasy, Marc Normandin's ready and willing to take your chat questions about baseball news, real and less so.
Marc Normandin: With the annual behind me and spring training less than a month away, I think it's time for a long chat with you all. Send me the ammo and I'll keep firing off answers until I run out of punk rock on my playlist. And let me tell you, I've got quite a bit of it on my computer.
P (Wherever): Hi Marc. I have a tough decision to make regarding my fifth (and final) keeper in a 12-team mixer. On the surface, McCann seems like a no-doubter over Jimmy Rollins, but I'm wondering how much I should weigh position scarcity, as I think it will be much easier to get a quality C later in the draft. But Rollins has been so bad - when healthy - that I'm leaning toward keeping McCann.
Marc Normandin: Shortstop is so terrible that if you don't have Hanley or Tulo, I almost don't even want to worry about it. If a SS besides those two keeps you from acquiring or holding onto another great player, then it's probably not a good decision.
Guancous (Silver Spring, MD): Love the constructive look back at the 2010 projections.
Has a timeline been established for the 2011 PECOTA rollout?
Marc Normandin: Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying them. I think it's a good learning experience for me, which makes things better for you going forward as well.
As for PECOTA, I asked official Star Czar Colin Wyers, and he said, "Still working out the exact details, but we should have something soon." I'll get working on the rankings when PECOTA is around as well.
paulbellows (Calgary): 1st manager sacked? Who ya got?
Marc Normandin: I don't know, but is there a way we can fire Trey Hillman again? Gil Meche just announced his retirement, an event that came about with more than a little help from Hillman falling asleep at the wheel in Kansas City and effectively destroying what remained of Meche's shoulder.
Dave (Ann Arbor): I'm really enjoying the expanded fantasy coverage here-- keep up the good work. I'm in a 12-team keeper league and choosing 2 of Jennings, C. Young (OF-AZ), Rasmus, Hellickson, and J. Sanchez. Sanchez would cost me slightly more than the others (higher draft pick) under our league rules. I'm leaning Young and Hellickson-- thoughts?
Marc Normandin: Excellent! I was very glad we were able to bring Jason Collette on board, bring Craig Brown back for another season, and give you another season of Hot Spots coverage as well. We have some more plans in store for you, with a lot of additional content and new angles, but we'll roll it out when it's ready and keep you guessing in the meantime.
I like Colby Rasmus a whole lot. Chris Young is good, but I'm not sure his ceiling is what we used to think it was (which I know I, for one, felt was considerable in its height). Right now, Young has the edge thanks to stolen bases, but Rasmus is three years younger and already nearly as valuable. I would be hard-pressed to not keep him. Hellickson should be excellent. Sanchez probably has value in a trade--might be worth exploring.
D Brown (Pittsburgh): What should I look for in the coming months to help prep for an my fantasy league? [new subscriber to site, NL only auction 12teams]
Marc Normandin: From us in terms of content, or a general idea of things you want to think of on draft day?
npb7768 (Rhode Island): Hal Gilson made the majors in 1968, pitched in 16 games that year and didn't win any...However in this game on 9-June (Game 1 of the St.Louis-Cincinnati DH):
He came in the last of the fourth down 8-0, got an out, then batted in the top of the fifth. After he batted, Lou Brock made the second out of the inning (Dal Maxvill was on 2nd base), then the next 9 Cards reached/scored (Gilson was pinch hit for the second time around, and Brock hit a 3-run HR to clear the bases and put St.Louis up 10-8...No other runs were scored that game and St.Louis won 10-8...
My question: Why didn't Hal Gilson get credit for a win?
Also, here is a great photo taken with Brock at the plate before the 10-run outburst...
Marc Normandin: I'll post this early so people have time to figure out what went wrong with the score card.
Brendan (Chicago): In a really deep league (20 team dynasty) how valuable is Jed Lowrie this year?
Marc Normandin: If Lowrie starts--and I think he may--he should be very valuable. Many of you probably know that I wasn't a big Lowrie fan in the past, for multiple reasons. The defense just isn't good, and he looked very lost at the plate, which led to strikeouts and poor plate appearances. Last year though, his wrist appeared healthy and he looked like he knew what he was doing at the plate, which resulted in far fewer strikeouts and more quality ABs. In a fantasy format, especially one where defense has no bearing, Lowrie is capable of being one of the better SS options available, even though he won't be stealing bases for you. That's with a mixed format in mind, so in a 20 team league, he's even more important. 20 teams means someone needs to do something like play Clint Barmes.
D Brown (Pittsburgh): Is there going to be sortable content with your projections so we can adapt what the site projects to the size/type of league people play in?
Marc Normandin: The Player Forecast Manager has those kinds of features. You can tweak it to reflect your league's settings and size, and it will adjust values based on the PECOTA projections with that info.
John (Boston): How much trust do you have in UZR and other advanced fielding metrics? Fangraphs quotes UZR and WAR like they are facts but often the results can be infurating and counter intuitive.
Marc Normandin: I had some problems with UZR (and other metrics like it) in the past, but I didn't realize how significant the issues were until Colin Wyers spent most of the summer putting them on display. My confidence level in them has dropped precipitously. It makes trusting a lot of the Single Number value stats difficult, since defense makes up such a significant portion of them.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): Do you have any experience with simulation leagues, or are you strictly a fantasy guy?
Marc Normandin: I'm playing Scoresheet in BP Kings for the first time this year. I'm excited to give it a shot, but it's pretty different. Though not as different as something like Diamond Mind, which I should give a try to at some point.
Rob (Alaska): What do you expect from Geo Soto this year? I'm thinking he may be undervalued in my keeper league - should I make a deal?
Marc Normandin: He should be capable of something close to his 2010, except this time, his manager doesn't hate winning and should keep him in the lineup.
RK (Kansas): I've mapped out a few prospects I'm interested in my deep league. The first group are guys that have a chance to contribute this year: D. Mesoraco, K. Gibson, Z. Britton. The Second likely won't play until AT LEAST rosters expand (no salary increase if kept for 2012): J. Lyles, J. Segura, and S. Miller. Does anyone in each of these groups stand out to you as a better option and do you think I have anyone categorized incorrectly?
Marc Normandin: Lyles might be a candidate for the first group. Segura's speed makes him valuable in fantasy, but doesn't necessarily translate to real life, so he might be someone you wait on. Britton is supposed to be up in 2011, but have you seen anyone say Mesoraco or Gibson is going to be up? Talking to some of the other fantasy guys here at BP and they aren't sure they will be up.
Jquinton82 (NY): Aaron Hill had the worst BABIP last year, good buy low candidate? Just traded for him as a back up to Cano and to use for trade bait later in the season. Decent plan or sheer folly sir?
Marc Normandin: I think Craig Brown did a great job with Hill back in October, and he links to my summer piece on him there as well. He needs to reinvent his swing in order to become valuable again, so he's a good guy to stash around just in case, but not as Plan A.
Ted (St. Louis): What do you make of Pujols moving up the deadline for a contract extension to the start of Spring Training? How realistic of a chance do you see him playing somewhere other than for the Cardinals in 2012? What are the possible teams? Angels? Rangers? Mets? Any others?
Marc Normandin: I'm pretty positive he'll be back in St. Louis. The Cardinals aren't going to let him get away when he has the potential to be The Greatest Hitter Ever. Or at least #2, behind Bonds.
DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Marc, loved your work and relied heavily on to win my 14 team league. I've also used the CBS "rank" stat during the season to assess how much a player was contributing, or not (especially in evaluating trades). I've seen you refer to the CBS' "rank" as well. If you answer only one question from me this year let it be this: can you tell me all that you know about how CBS determines this rank? I know there is a proprietary component to it, but do you think it's subjective or do you think they somehow actually figure out how valuable each player is? In other words, were speed guys like Rajaj Davis and Brett Gardner really that much more valuable last year that guys like Kemp, Teixeira and Mauer? It can seem a little arbitrary.
Marc Normandin: Glad to be of service, Dan. I don't know 100 percent because I've never asked CBS myself, but I believe it is based on roto points, so they get ranked in terms of how much they have actually contributed to fantasy.
Jacob (Springfield): *If* Pujols does leave, what would your plan for the Cardinals be?
Marc Normandin: 1). Don't sign Prince Fielder
2). Arsenic pill
Brendan (Chicago): Evan Meek and Jon Rauch, potential for saves with both?
Marc Normandin: I don't see Dotel getting all the opportunities up there given he is susceptible to left-handers, so it comes down to Frasor and Rauch for me. Both clubs have some handcuff situations going on there, which make them super annoying to analyze in January.
batts40 (IL): Any chance of PFM being released as a mobile App, or a version for the iPad?
Marc Normandin: That's an interesting idea. Give us a chance to gauge interest and cost, and we'll see if we can make it work.
D Brown (Pittsburgh): Need 3 keepers from the following… Carlos Ruiz $3, Nyjer Morgan $10, Johnny Cueto $12, Jorge Delarosa $9, Bud Norris $1, Jonathan Sanchez $10, Ubaldo $26. NL only, 12 teams $260 budget
Marc Normandin: I say Ruiz, De La Rosa and Sanchez. Rob McQuown says Ruiz, Cueto and Sanchez. Cueto and DLR should both get good run support and have quality defenses behind them, though Colorado is obviously a potential problem.
Tom (Madison): The A's just signed Grant Balfour and now are apparently targeting Brian Fuentes. All this on top of the signings of Rich Harden and Brandon McCarthy. Obviously a lot of injury risk, but do you see the A's looking to move one of their relievers in a package for another bat?
Marc Normandin: Someone is going to have to go somewhere if they keep doing this, but I'm just not sure who they are going to move. It was smart of them to wait until the market died down a little though. You know a reliever is going to get hurt in the spring or a team won't have as many quality options as they thought they did.
Frank (Vegas): do you foresee a break-out season in 2011 for McCutcheon?
Marc Normandin: What, .286/.365/.449 with 16 homers. 94 runs, and 33 steals from a second-year center fielder wasn't doing it for you? McCutchen strikes me as one of those players who is pretty close to as good as he'll ever be, but he's already really, really good, so it's okay. PNC probably doesn't help his power potential any, but he can make up for it in other areas.
Nelly (Kansas): Chen, Francis, and Hochevar are the AL version of Hamels, Lee, and Halladay right? Just kidding... Can Francis and Hochevar combine for 22 wins and a sub 4.5 ERA though? Can anything good come from the Royals rotation?
Marc Normandin: Yes to the wins, but I don't think they will so far below a 4.5 combined ERA that it's worth celebrating. I thought it was very odd for Royals fans to mock the Pirates for signing Kevin Correia, when he would have been their second-best starter after Greinke left.
dawson950 (cape cod): Is there a reasonable possibility that Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard could become the Red Sox version of the memorable Cincinnati "Nasty Boys".
Marc Normandin: I love Bard, but no. Dibble was one hell of a pitcher until his arm fell off, and Charlton/Myers were pretty great in their Cincy years as well.
Derek Jeter (A Gym in Tampa): How deep into my magical bag of tricks do I have to reach to pull out one more classic Jeterain season?
Marc Normandin: Satan is waiting by the phone for your soul, Derek.
Tony (Albuquerque): Rank these guys for a Keeper league:
Billingsly, Latos, Hanson.
Marc Normandin: Latos, Hanson, Billingsley. Latos has Petco at his back for half of the year, which is pretty fantastic in fantasy.
paulbellows (Calgary): In a standard Mixed 10 team 5x5 league how many batters and how many pitchers are you ideally taking in say the first 10 rounds or so?
Marc Normandin: I tend to wait a little bit for pitchers, so I may miss out on the Lincecums and Halladays of the world, but I get better hitters for it and can then go through the guys like Verlander, Lester, Scherzer, etc. who are great but not as elite while other teams are trying to pick up some hitting. In a 10 team mixed there are a ridiculous number of pitchers who will be leftover, so there is no reason to take more than three or four in your first 10 rounds.
Matt (Chicago): If you're Mike Quade, who are you inclined to hit leadoff in that lineup?
Marc Normandin: There really aren't a lot of options on that team, huh? I would bat Soto leadoff, but you know that isn't going to happen. Maybe Marlon Byrd? Castro might be a good leadoff hitter in the future, but I would prefer to keep him batting lower in the order for now.
Swat Slugger (USA): Hey Marc, Are you giving Shin-Soo Choo any love in this year's draft?
Marc Normandin: I don't see why not! He was good for me last year in a mixed league, minus the whole injury thing. He's very useful, as he excels at nothing but does everything very well. Like a better version of Hunter Pence.
peachycream (Chicago): What do you expect from Jay Bruce this year? Break out candidate?
Marc Normandin: This is the year! Buy on Bruce! He hit .338/.418/.699 in the last two months, and while I certainly don't expect that to continue, I do think he'll finally be a serious fantasy player.
Sam (St. Louis): Not that one should get in a pissing match over not-all-that-good starting pitchers, but you'd really rather have Correia than one of Hochevar/Mazzaro?
Marc Normandin: All three are pretty average. I don't think the distance between them is so great that Royals fans should be making fun of the Pirates, let's put it that way.
Nick (Denver): Can Jay Bruce be this year's Carlos Gonzalez? You know, that mid round OF who vaults to the elite the next year. If things bounce right, I could see Bruce hitting 40 bombs this year.. but 30+ for sure.
Marc Normandin: Without the Coors benefit of course, but yeah, he should outperform his draft position in loads of leagues.
Jerry Coleman (San Diego): You have the power to grant the Padres one wish for 2011. What is it?
Marc Normandin: That all the near-ready prospects continue to develop, so the Padres can contend seriously as early as 2012. I'm not pessimistic about 2011, I just know a serious amount of luck is needed for them to do significantly better than .500, and I would rather use that wish on post-2011.
Jake (MI): Do you still see more upside in Adam Jones bat? Everyone seems to forget how young he is. Do you think he has a breakout season in 2011?
Marc Normandin: I thought he was going to break out in 2010, but he's still young enough that he may have just been a season off. I still like him, though if you're in an OBP league, he's a bit riskier.
D Brown (Pittsburgh): As a relatively new fan of the newer stats, what is the one statistic for pitching and hitting that best can help project future performance? It seems every site out there has one or two 'new' stats that other sites don't use.
Marc Normandin: Since you're relatively new to the newer stats, the lesson I would rather try to imprint on you is that the single stat viewpoint is not the way to go. The why is much more important than whatever the result was, and you miss a lot of that by relying on those kind of all-encompassing stats. There is nothing wrong with a broader approach, and you'll probably teach yourself more by viewing things that way. Not the answer you were looking for I'm sure, but, especially with some of the things we don't know about in data, I think it's the better one.
Jquinton82 (NY): What do you see for Anderson and Scherzer this year?
Marc Normandin: Scherzer's numbers after he was recalled from Triple-A with his refined mechanics is a good bet for 2011: 2.46 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9. The ERA is a bit low, but those peripherals and a 3.3 ERA or so sound spot-on. I like Anderson as much as Scherzer, so if he's healthy, he's got the potential to dominate.
DanDaMan (DraftPrep): Hey Marc, I'm in a 14 team standard 5x5 league where we keep 4 players (with no consideration as to what round they were drafted). I have a bunch of keeper worthy guys: Braun, Wright, CarGo, Teixeira, J Upton, Kershaw, Latos, etc. My strategy has been to trade some good, but not superstar guys (maybe Teixeira) for picks instead of just keeping the top 4. The way I look at it is that Upton + whomever I can get with a good pick or 2 from trading Teixeira is better than just Teixeira. I'm also planning on gambling that I can get under-appreciated guys like Latos and Scherzer in the draft instead of trading them for not a lot in return. Do you agree with this strategy or would you just keep the top 4. Hope this makes sense. Thanks Marc, looking forward to the season. Dan
Marc Normandin: You already have some pretty ridiculous keeper-worthy players in Braun, Wright, CarGo, Kershaw and Latos (and of course Upton, if he develops as people think he will). I would see if you can work out a package with someone where you can get picks or an even better player by leveraging the guys you know you don't want to keep. If it doesn't work out, then there is nothing wrong with the top four from that group.
Will (Mactaquac): I know I'm a dynasty leaguer who's held onto A-Rod for a little too long, but sincerely, isn't he a tad underrated at this point of the preseason? I'm not blaming you; I'm just seeing him slide into the 3rd round of mocks and hearing people mocking themselves for taking him in the 2nd. The counting stats will still be there.
Marc Normandin: I expect something a bit better than 2010, when he clearly wasn't right all year because of his hip. But I don't expect the A-Rod of old, either. Playing in New York means he has great lineup support and a park that boosts his numbers, so he's still a great fantasy pick, even if he's the third or fourth best third baseman around.
johnklein (Northeast): Your thoughts on Homer Bailey? For the second year in a row he's come up big at the end of the season. Is he ready to carry the improvement through an entire season?
Marc Normandin: He was another player I expected to break out in 2010, but the Reds had roughly 13 capable starting pitchers, and Bailey got squeezed out often. I think he's much better than his 2010 ERA indicates, and I'm willing to bet on that if I get the chance to acquire him for my own teams.
russadams (St. Paul): Is there anyone out there the Twins can add to help the bullpen? I haven't been upset about losing any of the guys they lost (Crain, Guerrier, Rauch, Fuentes) but I was hoping they would add someone, and a lot of the guys I liked have now signed. I'm probably more optimistic than most Twins fans that they can build a solid bullpen out of what they already have in the organization, but it would be nice to add something.
Marc Normandin: If they don't add anything, at least Joe Nathan is back. And as they showed you in 2010, you can find useful relievers during the season if you have to. The market is starting to get pretty thin--maybe the Twins will have to make a deal with the A's if they end up adding Fuentes and have an arm to move.
Jason (St. Paul): My weakness in fantasy leagues lately has been not spending on elite talent. I have Tulo, but if I keep him his salary will be a ridiculous $48. I'm better off casting him away and keeping a couple guys like Rasmus, Youklis, etc, right?
Marc Normandin: $48 in a mixed league for Tulo? At worst, you can win him at auction for that or something similar again, right? I would rather keep the inexpensive and excellent players and gamble on reacquiring Tulo at auction, unless you have the room for all those keepers.
frank (vegas): who is the 1 FA who has surprised you in terms of not yet finding a home for 2011?
Marc Normandin: It was Jim Thome. At this point I would say Manny Ramirez. Not because I expect him to be fantastic, but because from almost day one of free agency, he and Scott Boras basically said "Will work for food", and there are plenty of teams who could use a DH willing to post a .400 OBP on the cheap.
Frank (Vegas): how significantly (if at all) would McCutcheon's numbers improve if he moves out of leadoff to #3 in the lineup?
Marc Normandin: The Pirates' offense is improving, but I think his numbers would be about the same. He would swap some runs for RBI with the switch. Maybe down the road, when the lineup is significantly better/if it is.
hannah (bay area): It's the baseball apocalypse. You can only pick five current major league ballplayers to save. You don't have to base it on stats or team or likeability or anything. Who do you pick?
Marc Normandin: What a question! I love watching Adrian Gonzalez hit, so I would like that to continue. Logan Morrison's Twitter account has guaranteed him a spot in this Final Five. Jim Thome can be saved, but only if he promises to sit in BP and hit taters all day long for my amusement as repayment for doing so. Someone needs to pitch to these guys, so it should be Jamie Moyer if for no other reason than he's Jamie Moyer. Willie Bloomquist would probably survive whether I picked him or not. Maybe he's baseball's version of the cockroach.
dawson950 (cape cod): What does Matt Albers have to show in order to make the Red Sox roster as a reliever out of spring training?
Marc Normandin: Hey, if the Sox are going to pick up Scott Atchison's option and give him a shot, the bar isn't set that high. He just has to not suck, and hope none of the other guys who are fighting for one of the last bullpen spots puts up big spring numbers or an impressive new pitch.
Adam (Philly): I've got an outfield heavy team in an 11 team, standard 5x5 league with 5 keepers (boring, I know). I'm currently thinking David Wright, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Matt Latos. But I also have Jay Bruce, Colby Rasmus and Cole Hamels as options. I've recently had the skill of kicking ass drafting starting pitching in the 9th-15th rounds, but who knows if that continues... Am I keeping the worst OF in Upton just because of hype? Which five of those eight do you keep?
Marc Normandin: I would see what you can get in a trade for Upton--I think he turns into something great, but you might find someone who buys him on the hype of his turning into even more. I would keep Bruce over Kemp though. Verlander/Latos is the right call for the SP, thanks to their respective parks.
Jed (Arlington, TX): How good will Adrian Beltre be in 2011? Projected fantasy line?
Marc Normandin: He may lose some batting average leaving Fenway, but I bet his slugging bumps up a bit in Arlington. He has a good chance of being a top-five 3B again. Similar numbers to last year, perhaps fewer R or RBI since the Rangers lineup is real good, but not as stacked as Boston.
John (Portland): I've got 2 spots left and have to choose between: C Buchholz, Smoak, J. Garcia, T Snider, and Mr. Wieters. Who do you go with?
Marc Normandin: Buchholz, absolutely. After that, jeez. Snider should turn into a pretty good stick, Wieters is questionable. Smoak has to deal with Safeco. I don't know if Garcia is ever going to be much better than he was in 2010 (not that he can't be good, just that his ceiling isn't much higher than what he has already shown us). Hmm.
modofacid (philly): keeper league with 1-3 year contracts. you keep weeks, mike stanton, or carlos santana? for how long?
Marc Normandin: Just one of three? I like Stanton the most. Santana has positional scarcity on his side, but Stanton might turn out to be ridiculously good. Definitely three years if you're keeping someone that young--I assume you have to cut them when the deal is over?
russadams (St. Paul): Do you have any suggestions for PS3 games with lasting appeal? I'm not really into games with much violence.
Also, I see that Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is only $20. Will it be entertaining for someone who isn't a hardcore Star Wars fan?
Marc Normandin: It's definitely full of Star Wars stuff, probably the kind of thing you enjoy more as a fan of the series. 3D Dot Game Heroes is great if you're fine with NES-era levels of Zelda violence. Mirror's Edge is pretty cool, and you can play the whole thing without shooting a gun since it's a first-perso parkour game.
Rob (Alaska): So when you say about the same as 2010 for Geo Soto, it bums me out a bit. Are you saying not to expect more than 320 AB? I guess I'm thinking (wishcasting?) that his injuries are kind of fluky and that he'll be better than 2010.
Marc Normandin: Same performance, but more of it thanks to increased playing time. Sorry I wasn't clear!
ted (the cubicle): What are the chances that Andres Torres can repeat his 2010 performance?
Marc Normandin: Pretty good, I think. He has hit .269/.343/.492 since returning to the major leagues in 2009, in 214 games and 740 plate appearances. Assuming everyone who comes out of nowhere for a year is going to repeat would be a problem, but I think Torres is one of the guys who can do it again.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Hey Marc, what are you listening to? Any chance you're a Fugazi fan?
Marc Normandin: During this chat, I've listened to Art Brut, Dead Kennedys, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat, and now Sleigh Bells. Fugazi pops up sometimes on my last.fm radio, which is always a nice surprise.
Aaron (YYZ): I'm being mildly inattentive to the chat, but I thought Safeco was pretty neutral/good for LHB as opposed to really punishing to RHB. Is it really worth knocking down Smoak's value that much because of park?
Marc Normandin: He hasn't hit for a ton of power at any level yet, and he's a switch hitter, so he will have to deal with being right-handed in Safeco sometimes (though nowhere near as much as his being a LHB, good point). I like Smoak a lot, I'm just hesitant to use the other keeper slot on him. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to the group of players brought up.
Tony (Albuquerque): Sleigh Bells is exactly what i imagine the appoclypse will sound like.
Marc Normandin: I hope so. I'm not obsessed with them by any means, but I do enjoy a listen on occasion. I've got a thing for female vocalists in rock bands, though my current favorite obsession in that vein is The Kills.
tv watcher (sofa): do you have mlb.tv premium? do you use ps3 or an ipad to access it? worth it?
Marc Normandin: I do, and I use the PS3 for it, and it is fantastic. I've never used it so much as I did last year, and the PS3 was a big part of that.
Paul (Boston): Why do some games receive such divergent reviews? I bought 007 Wii on the strength of its 9.0 (IGN review) and started happily playing it. Then I realized I couldn't control the aim and I had no idea where I was in the level. Then I saw it only got a 7.0 from many reputable sites.
Marc Normandin: My first rule of thumb is to ignore everything IGN says. They have some writers who are great, but I don't like their review style or the things they choose to focus on. I really have a hard time taking any site seriously who spends more time talking about how good the audio in a game is rather than focusing on how much fun I'm going to have. I like Joystiq for reviews. Kotaku has better news than reviews I think, but when they nail a review, it's great.
TLivingston (Sonoma, CA): Hi, Marc! Thanks for the chat. What have you been playing lately? (DQ9 has been a godsend for me). Also, thoughts on how the AL East will shake out? Could this be a year that the Blue Jays make a possible run at a playoff spot? Or is '12 a better bet?
Marc Normandin: Dragon Quest IX: The Story of Marc's Summer. I played (and loved) Deadly Premonition on the Xbox 360 not too long ago. It was so terrible that it was actually amazing. That may sound weird, but if you have played it (or play it) you'll know exactly what I mean. I'm starting up Nier soon, since I've heard good things despite meh reviews. I just picked up Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective on the DS, since I enjoyed the demo I played back in the day and the creator is the same guy who did the Phoenix Wright series.
I think the Jays are close, but not quite there. They'll last deep into the season, but don't expect any more noise in those terms than they had last year.
Gerald (NY): Hey Marc--after great success from a variety of different pitchers last year, what would you say to focus on more in the early rounds? Pitching or hitting?
Marc Normandin: All about the hitting in the early rounds. There is always pitching to be had. Even during the season.
Aaron (YYZ): Any thoughts on evil plans to exact revenge on league-mates that change the rules in season? It's a hockey league, but similar to adding a minimum starts to pitching midway through the season.
Marc Normandin: There is really no excuse for that. You can talk about it during the year, but don't implement changes midseason unless everyone votes on it in order to keep someone from screwing over the league or exploiting it horribly.
scottziegler (Wisconsin): Marc, need to keep one Lowrie, B.J. Upton or Grady Sizemore. Leaning towards Upton but the strike outs are killer and Grady has a bad knee.
Marc Normandin: Sizemore can surely be had as a redraft given his troubles. I would go with Upton here if it's a straight fantasy league. If it's more of a realistic game like Scoresheet, maybe Lowrie. Upton could be a SB machine with some power and plenty of runs. He was worth almost $16 last year in mixed and $25 in AL-only.
dianagramr (NYC): Good afternoon Marc ... thanks for the chat.
Jaime Garcia .... is 2010 the best version of him to expect or is there room for growth?
Marc Normandin: I mentioned this a bit earlier, and it's why I didn't pick him up in a Scoresheet dispersal last week. He's really good, but I don't think he's going to be much better than he was (especially on the ERA side--that's going to come up even if the peripherals stay the same). Of course, Dave Duncan is in St. Louis, so Garcia will start to get 65% groundballs or something and dominate just because I said this.
Tom (New York): Thoughts on Miguel Montero? He had a huge 2009 second half: 254 PA, .316/.366/.534 (on a .358 BABIP) and 11 Bombs. I thought he could be roughly equal to Brian McCann in 2010 but had the knee injury in the first week. What do you think happens to him in 2011?
Marc Normandin: I like Montero, but not more than McCann or even as much. I think he'll be a pretty good pickup, but some people may overrate him, which makes him kind of dangerous to chase.
Bakestar (NJ): Phillies, 92.5 wins... O/U?
Marc Normandin: Over, but not by much. I think they were over their heads last year, and while Lee is nice, the lineup wasn't that great in 2010 and now is minus Jayson Werth.
mharrop (toronto): who has the better year...Jeter or Roberts?
Marc Normandin: In reality? Roberts. He's got a better glove even with that back issue. Probably in fantasy too, since he can steal bases.
singledigit (San Diego): Can Ryan Raburn put up a full season? If he hits all year like he did(again)in the second half last year, he'd be quite the bargain.
Marc Normandin: .274/.333/.466 career hitter in 1079 plate appearances. He's hit RHP better than the league average the last two years and crushes lefties. I like him quite a bit, the Tigers just need to give him the plate appearances. If he was promised 600 plate appearances tomorrow, I would draft him in a heartbeat.
frank (Vegas): expectations for Correia this year? Can he really come back to help the Bucs out of their SP funk?
Marc Normandin: He should be much better than last year. Look for something like 2009. It's a shame he had to go through what he did last season, with his brother dying in May.
Tony (New Mexico): One spot in a keeper league left between Michael Young, Grady Sizemore and Weiters. Who do you pick?
Marc Normandin: What kind of keeper league? Salaries? Contracts? Just keep X number of players? Who else are you keeping?
Frank (Vegas): Is there anything the Bucs have done this off-season to give a fan some hope? Or is it a matter of improving by doing nothing to destroy the future?
Marc Normandin: The farm system is doing well, and it just spit out Alvarez, Tabata, Walker, and not too long ago, McCutchen. I like James McDonald a lot, and Correia is by no means an answer in the rotation, but he gives them someone else who knows what a strike looks like besides McDonald and Charlie Morton. It's a slow road to improve the team, but they are moving from embarrassing to just bad. Which is more than you can say for basically the rest of this stretch of failure.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): On the Gilson question, he wasn't in the game when the Cards took the lead, having been pinch-hit for, so by default, the next pitcher had to get the win.
Marc Normandin: There you go.
Sam (St. Louis): Now that Moore has $12 million more to play with this winter, we can expect Ryan Langerhans on a multi-year deal, right?
Marc Normandin: How many Melkys is $12 million?! I can't decide if I need to tone down the Moore jokes and assume that, when the kids are up, he will do what's right with free agency and trades. Or go with my gut on this one and realize that the latter two are exactly what will keep the prospects from being a saving grace for the organization.
John (Anaheim): Are you a Jered Weaver believer?
Marc Normandin: This kind of reminds me of Greinke, except with far less hype. His strikeouts jumped up, but they could fall back down, and he would still be great, he just wouldn't be elite. I like him quite a bit, I'm just not jumping up and down.
Tony (Albuquerque): 13 team league. 8 Keepers. I'm keeping Crawford, Greinke, Bruce, Beckett, Utley, Tulo, Nelson Cruz and one more spot.
Marc Normandin: If you're shooting for 2011, I'd go with Young. If you're looking more long-term, then Wieters would fit. His ceiling is still really high. I'm kind of inclined to just take Young here though and go with Super Outfield.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): What do you think of Tom Gorzelanny? Seems to me the Nats gave up 3 guys that may never get more than a cup of coffee in exchange for the second best starter on their team for now. It's not saying much given that rotation, and JZimm will pass him at some point, but still, not a bad deal, right?
Marc Normandin: I don't know much about the minor leaguers involved honestly, so I'm still sort of debating that portion of things. But I like Gorzelanny well enough. He walks too many hitters, but he also has 8.1 K/9 and a 2.0 K/BB over the last two seasons (183 1/3 innings).
Rob (Alaska): Thanks for the Soto answers. Are you buying Iannetta at all this year? Not as a keeper, but he might actually headline the free agent catcher crop in the deep league I'm in.
Marc Normandin: I like Iannetta as long as he's getting playing time. Which is a cop out answer, but it's the truth. I'm leery of Colorado Rockies players like that nowadays because of things like that.
Jack (Boston): Any advice on upcoming releases that can be enjoyed by mixed (skill and intensity-wise) groups of gamers? My girlfriend and I are really looking forward to picking up our LBP 2 preorder tonight
Marc Normandin: I'm looking forward to Dead Space 2, though that's on the intensity side of things as a futuristic survival horror game. The holidays had a few great ones, if you missed out. Donkey Kong Country Returns was *fantastic*.
Randy (Utah): In a keeper league, how much value do you put in elite prospects, i.e. Trout, Harper?
Marc Normandin: It really depends on how the rest of the league treats them. If other owners are all overvaluing prospects in terms of how much they pay for them (in dollars, players, or both) then it might be a good idea to step back and go for the kinds of productive (and active) players they may be ignoring in favor of them. On the other hand, if the rest of the league is ignoring prospects, then attack. Sure, going after scarcity is fine, but there is a lot to be said about market inefficiencies.
singledigit (San Diego): The Tigers just signed Galarraga for $2.3MM, and before the ink was dry DESIGNATED him for assignment.
Marc Normandin: I was making fun of the $2.3 million price tag last night, but now they have gone and done this, so my feelings are conflicted.
Jake (MI): Do you think that Coghlan ends up at 2B/3B very soon into the season. His defense in CF will be most likely poor, I don't see why they don't put him at the position he played in the minors.
Marc Normandin: I have no idea why he is going to play center for them. None. If he is embarrassingly bad out there, I don't see how they can avoid moving him, but then they need to find another center fielder as well. Hanley should really just go there.
RK (Kansas): about KC's new found $12 million...that has to have been a buy-out right? No way Meche doesn't just do surgery and ride pine for 12 million right? I'm expecting to read that he was bought out for 9 million or so.
Marc Normandin: That's a good question. I wonder if he really did just walk away from $12 million. I can't even imagine doing that.
PhiFan (Philly): Cole Hamels vs Brett Anderson -- next 3 years?
Marc Normandin: If you could guarantee they were both healthy, Brett Anderson. Even though now Bill Baer might be mad at me (sorry, Bill!). Problem is, guaranteeing Anderson's health is something we can't just do, so Hamels is the safe pick.
Anonymous (Nowhere): I hear you have a Scoresheet team. What are your secrets?
Marc Normandin: Ask lots of questions. Pick a direction.
Emily (SF): Has any team in the AL W improved this offseason besides the A's? Think they could win the AL West next year? They have to make up some games on Texas, but they've added the guys to do it. The Angels have been snoring, the Mariners shouldn't be as terrible as they were, but there's still not much there.
If the A's win the AL W, does that help or hinter their chances to get out of the hellhole that is Oakland Coliseum?
Marc Normandin: I think the Rangers improved. They lost half-a-season of Lee, but Brandon Webb was a good bet as long as his arm is healthy, and the difference between Adrian Beltre and Michael Young is enormous thanks to the defensive difference between the two. The A's are interesting, and I think they closed the gap until the Beltre deal. That, to me, is the big difference between the two.
As for the Coliseum, winning will only hurt their chances if they start to sell out games. Does that happen in Oakland when they do well?
timber (work): Per Jon Paul Morosi at Fox, Meche did indeed leave $12 million on the table.
Marc Normandin: That's pretty amazing. I really don't have much to say about that other than wow.
Bobby (St Louie): What's your forecast for Wainwright in 2011?
Marc Normandin: I'm a little worried about the innings he is piling up, so I've downgraded him slightly in my head so far this spring. But I still think he will be great. I just might go with someone like Verlander over him this year during drafts, if my worries persist. Waiting to hear if he has dead arm or something in the spring before I decide for sure.
frampton (alameda, ca): Re the Gilson answer -- no, he was nominally still the pitcher of record even though he was run for. The issue is Rule 10.17; when the starter hasn't lasted five innings, the scorer is supposed to give the win to the most effective pitcher. The guy who followed Gilson (Willis) threw five shutout innings, and the scorer gave him the win over Gilson's 1/3 inning.
Marc Normandin: This too.
Eli (Ohio): Should I go bowling or go play Little Big Planet 2 tonight?
Marc Normandin: Maybe you can just create a bowling alley in Little Big Planet 2.
Aaron (YYZ): Any thoughts on how to balance an interest in relatively longform games (RPG's, Professor Layton, SSFIV...) against a severe lack of time to play games? There's great new stuff coming out that I'd love to play, but it feels like a waste of money when I know it will get buried in my stack behind other stuff I also want to play.
Marc Normandin: Sometimes I just have to wait it out and buy it used. I would love to buy everything new and be able to support the developers at the moment the game releases, but it's just not realistic with the amount I want to play.
jlebeck66 (WI): Re: Gilson
A pinch-hit for pitcher can still get the win. I think the following applies more to this specific case:
'The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.'
Marc Normandin: Another!
Ratcatcher (Paris): Who's actually going to get ABs in the Phillies' outfield corners? I've got Francisco at $10 in a vanilla roto NL 4x4 keeper league, and if you squint hard it almost looks like he's worth keeping. Talk me out of this, please.
Marc Normandin: Pretty sure Domonic Brown will end up with most of them. If he hits in the spring they will give him the job.
rrydelek (Maryland): Hi Marc, 2 Scoresheet keeper league questions.
Team 1: Protect Tim Hudson or Sean Marshall?
Team 2: Pick one from among Vernon Wells, Travis Snider, Adam Lind and Felix Pie.
Thanks for the chat!
Marc Normandin: You might want to ask Rob McQuown for help on this one. I'm still just learning Scoresheet and I expect to get destroyed this year. Rob knows what he's doing.
Rob (Alaska): Thanks again for all the answers. What's the over/under for star-level fantasy seasons left in Dan Uggla at 2B?
Marc Normandin: Thanks for the questions! I give him two more star seasons and then one really good one before things start to come undone.
D Brown (Pittsburgh): Is Jason Hammel kind of like a poor-man's Nolasco? good secondary stats but poor ERA? or is this as good as he gets?
Marc Normandin: I think he spends a lot of time in the strike zone because he chooses to, not because he has great stuff and can get away with it. Leaves him susceptible to high BABIP and hit rates, and will probably keep him from having an ERA that matches up with his adjusted ones often.
Eric (ILL): How crazy am I? Edwin Jackson wins 17 games with a 3.50 ERA and strikes out 185 batters in 210 innings this year?
Marc Normandin: He didn't have the ERA last year, but it was his best season. Those numbers actually look pretty similar to what he did in 2010, though the ERA is lower than I like. If he can maintain the G/F ratio, pitching in The Cell won't be such a big deal though, which could help keep his ERA down.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Hi Marc. I just read that in their last year of arbitration Papelbon and Fielder signed for $12 million and $15.5 million respectively. Have we reached the point where the last year of arbitration is also the first year of full market (or maybe in Pap's case, above market) value?
Marc Normandin: I don't think so, it's just that sometimes, players begin to decline after already setting a high market value. Papelbon is not worth $12M, but the Red Sox and Papelbon agreed when his arbitration years began that he would be worth $15M in free agency given his talent level. While that is no longer true, that scale already started with that view in mind, meaning it's hard to stop the salary from rising at this point.
Jeff (Bay Area): Going into the 2011 season, are the Padres better on paper than they were going into the 2010 season?
Marc Normandin: I'm glad someone asked me this question because I've been looking for an excuse to say "Yes, yes they are." The rotation is better, the bullpen is better, the defense is better. The lineup is worse, sure, but they have healthy Ludwick in there, Orlando Hudson instead of David Eckstein, Cameron Maybin's potential instead of Tony Gwynn's impression of his uncle at the plate...if they aren't better, they are at least as good. Gonzalez is one of the best players in baseball, but he's one guy, and the Padres upgraded in multiple spots. Hawpe should hit if he's healthy, too, and I think that will make this team surprise a lot of people again. Though not 90 wins surprise them.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): People keep saying the Yankees will pick up a starter during the season but I can't think of any decent starters who would be available and who they'd want. Do any come to your mind?
Marc Normandin: The Dodgers have six starters, don't they? Maybe Padilla. The Yankees have some in-house options who might look more appealing for a big league job in July than they do today as well.
Jquinton82 (NY): What are the chances Aubrey Huff repeats last years numbers?
Marc Normandin: Maybe not an exact repeat, but if he keeps his more patient approach and waits for pitches he can demolish, there really is no reason he can't come close.
edwardarthur (Toledo): Kyle Farnsworth in the AL East -- any chance this works out for Tamnpa?
Marc Normandin: My many Rays-oriented pals say yes. I'm undecided. I think I like him better in low-leverage innings, though that may be exactly where he ends up in Tampa Bay anyway.
Ron (Vancouver): The Blue Jays make at least one playoff appearance during the next 5 seasons, True or False?
Marc Normandin: True.
Rob (Alaska): Howie Kendrick - he is what he is or room for growth?
Marc Normandin: I have to look a little deeper at him, because he seems like all the little progress he made has vanished.
Sasha (New York): Who's going to win the Stanley Cup this year?
Marc Normandin: I honestly have no idea. I saw a guy in a Hartford Whalers jersey the other day, does that count for anything?
Dan (Brooklyn): I've found the PFM to be mostly unuseful for Scoresheet and similar leagues. Is it possible to include a catch-all "Scoresheet" setting to develop values for such a league -- or does it really only work for stat-accumulation leagues?
Marc Normandin: Send Colin and I an e-mail with some details of what it is you want to see, and we'll see what we can do.
Bree (Cleveland): I'm about to buy Indians season tickets for my BF as a birthday/anniversary gift, is this a good or bad idea? I know he loves baseball but the Indians are going to be terrible.
Marc Normandin: It's hard not to love season tickets. Plus then he can say he stuck with them when they were terrible.
Bill Simmons (LA): Based on the fact we added A-Gon, Crawford, and Jenks, we are a lock for at least 95 wins right?
Marc Normandin: Assuming the team doesn't come down with the bubonic plague again, absolutely.
Brandon Wood (Cali): Is it too early to call me a bust?
Marc Normandin: I was maybe three or four years early on that if now is still too early.
andyfoy (Rochester, MN): Standard keeper league this year: Gallardo or Hanson?
Marc Normandin: Hanson. The Brewers defense is still horrific. Probably worse with Escobar gone.
Sky (The Roc, NY): Any recommendations for winter brews or winter variety packs?
Marc Normandin: Can't go wrong with Sam Adams Winter. Harpoon's Winter Warmer is also excellent. I had Amazing Grace the other day at a beer festival, which is a Scotch Ale aged in whiskey barrels that tastes like whiskey beer. Which is as amazing as it sounds. I also like to drink a lot of chocolate beers in the winter.
Charlie (Bethesda): Over/under on Nyjer Morgan's OBP: .360. Which side do you take?
Marc Normandin: Under. But like .340 under, not .320 under.
Marc Normandin: Alright, that should do it for today. I'm glad I was able to have a long chat this time instead of a truncated one, which is all the annual writing schedule allowed. I'll have some more fantasy news for you soon, when we get ready to make some announcements about content and contributors. Until then, try not to think about how there is no baseball for another few weeks.