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Chat: Ken Funck

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday February 08, 2011 2:00 PM ET chat session with Ken Funck.

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Cast off your winter funk by getting Funck-y, because BP's Ken Funck would like to help you snap out of it with a baseball chat.

Ken Funck: Hola, amigos. I know it's been a while since I rapped at ya, but with the PECOTAs here, drafts starting and spring training around the corner, baseball is the big topic of conversation here in Wisconsin (okay, maybe the Packers too). I'm nursing a migraine so I'm not going to set any chat-length records today, but I'm not about to quit on my team. Ask me any questions on literally any topic, and I'll try to give you some sort of answer. Let's get to it.

clete6 (cheese shop): Not much ca-- it's the single most popular cheese in the world! On a more serious note, am I crazy to think that J.A. Happ can actually earn his $1 salary in my NL-only 5x5 league?

Ken Funck: For the record, I enjoy all manifestations of the terpsichorean muse. As for Happ -- sure, he should be worth a buck. His walk and strikeout rates don't exactly shout "trust me", but so far he's kept runs off the board anyway, and for a single greenback you can do far, far worse.

Touch em all Joe (Toronto): Ken, who would you say has the better chance to succeed in Roto ball Michael Pineda or Matt Moore? What about Brett Lawrie versus Manny Machado? Thanks -

Ken Funck: Pineda vs. Moore is a tough one, and you can't go wrong either way (though in Strat I'd take Pineda, avoiding Moore's incipient leftiness). Gun to my head I pick Pineda, since pitching in Seattle should really help his raw numbers. Machado is more valuable than Lawrie if he can stick at shortstop. If he moves to third base -- well, I STILL think he's likely more valuable than Lawrie in the long run.

Jesus (Provo, Utah): I was wondering if you could help me pick out 4 keepers in an auction league. Cabrera $35, Tulo $31, Cliff $21, Weeks $8, Marmol $8, Bruce $6 and Rios $3? Thanks!

Ken Funck: Dude, I haven't played roto in about 15 years -- I did well with Bob Hamelin and Geronimo Berroa, to give you some perspective -- so Marc and our crack fantasy crew are far better qualified to answer that. Seriously, drop them a line, as they're always happy to answer questions. That being said, an $8 closer seems valuable, so I'd keep Marmol. Weeks at $8 looks good, especially if Roenicke lets him run a bit more this year. Rios at $3 is a bargain, as is Bruce at $6. I'm cheap, so I always cut the big money guys even though Cabrera, Tulo and Leef are terrific. Anyone else want to give Jesus some advice? Put it in a question and I'll throw it out here.

Matt (Chicago): Seems like Kila may have been a good choice for a team like CHC with long-term void at 1B, no? With the re-upping of Butler, seems like there is no longer any room for him in KC.

Ken Funck: I'd love to see Kila in Cubbie blue, but of course I had the same thoughts about Hee-Seop Choi, and that didn't work out so well. There should be enough ABs at DH/1B for both Ka-aihue and Butler this year, but he needs to make his mark now before Hosmer/Moustakas/Myers wave crowds him out.

paulbellows (Calgary): Do you think in 20 years the World Baseball Classic will be closer to the soccer World Cup or the Pan-Am games?

Ken Funck: If by the soccer World Cup you mean "insanely popular in other countries but earning little more than a shrug here in the land of guns, Ke$ha, high fructose corn syrup and baconnaise", then I'll go with soccer World Cup.

Matt (Chicago): Based on what you know about aging curves, does a ten, or even eight, year deal for Pujols scare you at all, assuming 25-30 mil per?

Ken Funck: Sure, a ten or eight year deal scares me -- any long-term deal scares me -- but sometimes you have to face your fears. I wouldn't give Pujols ten years, unless the total value is such that it's similar to what I'd pay him in seven or eight, just stretched out. I'd rather go seven, but if it takes 8/30 to make him happy I'd bite the bullet and pay him. There's only one Pujols, but if he needs more than that, I don't think the Cardinals can (or should) oblige.

Dan46S (Boston): Hey Ken: Looking at possible "sleeper" prospects. Do any of the following have a chance to make a n impact this season or next? How would you rank them?: Brent Morel, Brett Laurie, Zack Cox, and Jared Goedert. Thanks for the pre-preseason chat.

Ken Funck: Career value ranking for me would be: Lawrie, (gap), Cox, Morel, Goedert. But in the short term, Morel is the most likely to help this year since he has the inside track on the 3b job, though I bet Lawrie will be playing in Toronto in 2012. Cox is some distance away and scouts don't seem to like him, and I'm not sure if the things he does help you in fantasy baseball as much as they do in real baseball. Goedert may have a shot at playing time this year but I don't think that much of him, and Chisenhall is the long-term answer.

BStephen (Milwaukee): Any ideas on Brewers signee Elvis Rubio?

Ken Funck: Not sure about his other skills, but his name grades out at 70+. You know as much about him as I do -- they say he has power, but there's no way of knowing what a 17-yo dominican kid is going to become. Here's how much the world has changed: If the Brewers had signed this kid 20 years ago, no one outside the organization would have ever even heard his name for 3 or 4 years. OTOH, our good Perfesser Parks will be chatting in a few weeks, and he may very well have some insight for you.

Jquinton82 (NY): If you had to replace Jeter in a dynasty league with R/HR/TB/RBI/SB/AVG/OPS as the categories... who would you take?

Ken Funck: Tulo? Hanley? I mean, who's available?

Nelly (Kansas): What does a good season from Alex Gordon look like?

Ken Funck: How does .270/.350/.450 work for you? Works for me, though it would work better for me at the hot corner than in left field. Gordon can still put together a fine career, but the Stardom Express has already sailed.

Unless HE'S this year's Jose-Bot .... I'd like that, actually.

richardkr34 (Saint Paul): What do you see Scott Baker doing this year?

Ken Funck: I'm on record as a Baker believer (Scott,not Dusty), so I'm going to say this is the year he pitches up to the level of his peripherals and establishes himself as a very good #2 starter. He's still not as good as Zack Greinke, but this is the year that gap between them narrows somewhat. Or not ... the great thing about the internet is that it's written in ink, and this fall someone will read this comment and mock me for it. I love that, actually.

Nelly (Kansas): The Royals will finish 3rd in the AL Central.

Ken Funck: In 2012, I'll buy that. This year I have the Twins, Tigers and Sox ahead of them. I helped out on the Tigers chapter (among others) for this year's annual -- pre-sales of which is now a Top 100 Amazon book , btw, operators are standing by -- and I have to say I came away more impressed than I expected to be.

josh (VA): Justin Masterson...will he improve his control and finally start to move up the ladder of the game's top pitchers? Thanks.

Ken Funck: Masterson needs to figure out a way to get lefties out. I don't think he'll ever be one of the game's top pitchers -- that's a very tall order in a world with Lincecum, Halladay, Felix, et al. -- but being a solid mid-rotation guy, which he can be (and almost already is) is a good thing.

richardkr34 (Saint Paul): Would you fake the funk on the nasty dunk?

Ken Funck: Dunno, Shaq, since I'm a sub-six-footer with a fantastic outside shot but no ups. Or at least I used to be -- years of hoops and injuries have left my ankles so bad that I have to wear braces on both of them just to survive indoor volleyball.

Keep those funk puns coming ...

Teraxx (Strong Island, NY): Do you think Jesus Montero's spring training performance will dictate if he begins the season in the minors or MLB roster? Everyone seems to think that because they signed Martin, Jesus has no chance to start in the Bronx (at least, early on in the year). I feel a very strong spring gets him the promotion to the big club. What say you?

Ken Funck: If only he were the Jesus Montero version of a starting pitcher, there'd be no doubt. I'd be surprised if he broke camp with the big club regardless of how much he thumps during camp, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him called up in June if Martin isn't all that.

garethbluejays2 (Newcastle, UK): Are there any options at third base, either in free agency or those that have been touted for trade, for the Bluejays so that they can stick Bautista in the outfield?

Ken Funck: Michael Young, of course, if the Rangers want to eat some of his salary, though now that Wells is out of town there may be enough payroll flexibility to take him on. But honestly, if Bautista can play a reasonable 3B, why not let him stay there? It's harder to find a useful third baseman than a corner outfielder.

Jquinton82 (NY): On Phil Hughes: Is the dominance he showed in the first half real, and was the 2nd half the result of a workload increase and growing pains or more likely the norm?

Ken Funck: I'm actually pretty bullish on Hughes, and expect he'll be fine this year. The talent has always been there, and he's, what, 25? I also like that fact that Buchholz shows up on his comps. I don't think the Yankees rotation is quite the shambles that some are making it out to be.

Paul (DC): "There's no Python in Baseball" - Jimmy Dugan (1943).

Ken Funck: Though if there were a Baseball in Python, you'd be able to watch it slowly move down its digestive tract.

JD (OKC): Seems like dozens of guys coming back from serious injury: who ya got for full recoveries?

Ken Funck: Pretty broad question. I know the guy I'm most hoping to see a full recovery from: Carlos Santana. Ask me about other specifics, and I'm happy to oblige.

Winter Warlock (Chicago): Ok, I'm really sick of seeing snow. I know pitchers and catchers report soon, but not soon enough. So thanks for chatting. So, will As the Pujols Turns have a longer run in St Louis or is this it's final season? Can't believe they haven't got a deal done yet...

Ken Funck: I expect they'll get something done yet this spring. I suspect AP likes the whole "I Am The Franchise" legacy thing more than he likes the difference between $275 million and $300 million. Easy for me to say, though.

I'm sick of snow too. We didn't get quite as hammered as you guys did, Warlock, but 15 inches isn't pleasant when your snowblower is broken, and you're too cheap to overpay for the last available snowblower in southern Wisconsin. Thankfully, my kids filled in nicely.

Paul (DC): Table Top Baseball team construction theory 101: Which is better? Build roster around a few superstars and fill in with parts? Or go with a team where everybody is above average, but no one is great?

Ken Funck: I think either will work. The nice thing about having superstars, though, is that you have them and they tend to remain superstars, and maybe one of the guys you fill in around them BECOMES a superstar. Taking risks on upside is almost always the right thing to do, in my experience.

Paul (DC): Dude, wrong type of "Python". You need to get your own "Monty" Python quote (from the Cheese Shop Skit). Ken Funck: For the record, I enjoy all manifestations of the terpsichorean muse ...

Ken Funck: No, I got the reference, but decided to go another way, Mr. Notlob. You can't blame British Rail for that.

lemppi (Iowa): It seems many MLB clubs are in a race to claim their disinterest in acquiring Michael Young. Which club would benefit the most from getting him in your opinion? How much of his deal must Texas pay for you think the Young-acquiring club's decision makes sense?

Ken Funck: Sorry I took so long to answer this one, lemppi - I thought I did, but it's still in my queue and I don't see it on the site, so I must have not hit (submit). Anyhoo, I haven't thought very deeply about this, since the money is hard to line up with a lot of teams. Who out there thinks Young can still play a reasonable SS? If so, there's lots of teams that could use his bat. Maybe the Cardinals for 3b, if they don't trust Freese? I would expect the White Sox could definitely use him at third, and Kenny Williams is just the guy to sell ownership and pull the trigger on that type of deal.

Ke$ha (Neverland Ranch): "Don't stop, make it pop DJ, blow my speakers up Tonight, I'mma fight 'Til we see the sunlight Tick tock, on the clock But the party don't stop, no Ain't got a care in world, but got plenty of beer Ain't got no money in my pocket, but I'm already here And now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger" Words to live by my friend.

Ken Funck: I'm dancing like I'm dumb, and my body's getting numb.

See, I like all kinds of music, but dance-pop ain't my thing. My son is a teenager but was never into Top-40 radio, so I dodged that bullet for quite some time. My daughter will be a teenager this year, though, and is heavily into listening to 20 On 20 on XM when we're in the car together. Help me, jeebus.

matthewkenerly (Fresno, CA): I'm hoping to see Brandon Belt here in town come April, but what do you think his chances are of making the Giants' roster and doing some damage in the bigs?

Ken Funck: Sounds like he's headed to Triple-A to start the year, but if I were betting I'd say he's up by the All Star Game. Big, big fan.

Jquinton82 (NY): Alex Rodriguez will age like ____. please choose from the following: A) Wine; C) Dick Clark pre-stroke; D) Milk E) Giambi post-faciitis; F) A-Rod, just moderately accelerated do to the effects of juicing

Ken Funck: I'm going to pick wine (which I think is a good thing -- I'm a beer drinker). Normal aging curve -- he won't be an All-Star at 41, but he won't be a bum at 37 either.

JD (OKC): For the injured star pitchers: Santana, Peavy, Webb, Bedard For hitters: Sizemore, Morneau

Ken Funck: Thanks for the specificity. I'll believe Webb and Bedard are healthy when I see it. Santana will pitch this year, but probably won't pitch WELL until next year. Peavey ... I think he'll be back and he'll be solid, but not the Peavy of old. I expect Sizemore to be healthy-ish and an average-ish CF, but not the Sizemore of old (though I hope I'm wrong and he's his old stuff). Morneau, I'm guessing, will be his old self.

BStephen (Milwaukee): ok Who Ends up Closing for the orioles? Uehara or Gregg? Or another?

Ken Funck: I'd bet on Uehara -- he really impressed last year, and Gregg is really just another guy. Of course, Uehara is up against the dreaded Familiarity Breeds Contempt disease that afflicts most Japanese closers sooner or later, so at some point he'll turn into Shingo Takatsu. I'm guessing that will be next year.

Carlos Silva (Buffet Table): This year's Jose-bot is obviously going to be Travis Hafner. Once last glimpse of Pronk-ness before limping off into the sunset. It's certainly not going to beme...

Ken Funck: I'd love to see His Pronkness have a nice swan song. But it wouldn't quite be a Jose-Bot moment, since Pronk was so good during his peak stretch.

Dontrelle Willis (My Next Phase): Did you feel cheated when they said I had a funky delivery? Or was that a compliment?

Ken Funck: Of course it's a compliment! Has anyone ever said that a player has a "funky delivery" with the implication that it made him LESS effective than his stuff would indicate?

I miss you, Dontrelle. I also miss Luis Tiant.

JT (MKE): How many games better do Greinke and Marcum make the Brewers? I know the defense isn't good, but more strikeouts rely on the defense more?

Ken Funck: Greinke and Marcum make them legitimate contenders. They should be in the race all year, and while I haven't even thought about making my picks yet I think I'm leaning toward picking them to win the Central. My biggest worries: Axford turning into Derrick Turnbow, an injury to Weeks, and too much Carlos Gomez.

George Clinton (The Mothership): George Clinton and The Parliment Funckadelic... the dog has spoken

Ken Funck: I think any band that doesn't have about 45 people on stage isn't giving me enough for my concert-going dollar. P-Funk forever!

richardkr34 (Saint Paul): Are the White Sox too "station-to-station" or do Ramirez, Beckham, and Rios provide enough athleticism to keep them from being a high-priced softball team? Also, do you see Peavy approaching anywhere near effectiveness this year?

Ken Funck: Let me admit my bias: I love high-priced softball teams, like the '83 Sox and the Daulton/Kruk Phillies. Speed on the bases is nice, but avoiding outs and hitting home runs is more important. Would the Sox have been better last year with the lumbering carcass of Jim Thome at the plate and on the basepaths? Apparently Ozzie didn't think so, but he was wrong.

That being said, the speed of Ramirez, Beckham and Rios is certainly nice to have.

Tony (Albuquerque): 3rd place finish for the Royals in 2012, Does 2013 and 2014 have a division title for KC in store?

Ken Funck: Certainly that's possible if the kids don't all flame out -- it happened quickly in Tampa, right? Nobody else in that division is a juggernaut -- I mean, I admire the Twins, but they're not the Yankees or Red Sox.

Stan (NYC): Would Blake and Ebert be enough to get Young to the LAD along with say $15 mil?

Ken Funck: I'd take that deal.

Chatting has been surprisingly good for my head, but I'll need to run soon so I'll try to fly few as many of the questions in the queue as I can ... apologies for the short answers.

Tony (Albuquerque): Grady Sizemore: what does a full recovery look like for him?

Ken Funck: A full recovery looks like "Grady Sizemore, best CF in baseball". I don't expect a full recovery, though.

Matt (Chicago): What type of peak-year production can we expect out of Starlin Castro?

Ken Funck: Peak? Solid (if unspectactular) defense at short, and maybe .320/.370/.430.

josh (va): Is it reasonable to expect Trout up sometime in '12 and starting the season in '13?

Ken Funck: Yes, it's reasaonble. But not guaranteed.

Frank (Arlington): What does a Nats fan have to look forward to in 2011 with Stephen Strasburg out and Bryce Harper in the minors?

Ken Funck: KG's prospect reports, Baseball America articles, and Ryan Zimmerman will be the highlights.

Dan46S (Boston): Ok while I'm trolling for bottom feeders, any of these guys worth a place on my minor league team at SS: Grant Green, Wilmer Flores, J. Iglesias? Thanks again.

Ken Funck: I myself like Iglesias.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Hi Ken Who will do the majority of the catching in Washington this year?

Ken Funck: I'd guess a pretty equal job share between Ramos and Flores. Washington should have an interest in making sure they both have possible trade value if they want to shop one of them.

Michael Young (Arlington): Should I have my feelings hurt or put my money where my mouth is and follow through on my "I want to stay here and win the World Series, whatever it takes" comment? If so, could I be a super utility player and learn the corner outfield positions?

Ken Funck: I think he could certainly be a super-utility player, and could find 500 ABs spotting everywhere on the field. It's easy for me to say that he shouldn't be bothered by the idea and should stay in Texas, but it's his life and I don't really have a right to judge.

Will (Mactaquac): Try easing your daughter into something you like from the past, be that some form of dance pop from the days of yore (funk [ha!], disco, house etc) or a more palatable era of rap for you. If you like rock and nothing but, it's not going to be a fun few years for you, but you could try out something like 60s bubble gum or the like.

Ken Funck: Oh, I've done that. Her mp3 is mostly filled with my music, and she likes a lot of it. But at some point, the incredible power of conformity and advertising takes its toll. And I kid because I love -- if she wants to listen to Top 40, more power to her.

PadresOnTop (San Diego): Ken -- love PECOTA but I need a quick primer on how to use the player comparisons. If Joe Blow is compared to, say, Reggie Jackson that's good, right? But if the arrow next to Jackson's name is red and pointing down, that's bad, right? Would I rather have a red-arrow Jackson or a green-arrow Mike Cameron? A quick tutorial would be useful.

Ken Funck: I expect the data guys will be putting something like this out soon, but the short answer (as far as I understand it) is that having the green arrow is the more important thing for that year's projection.

Tony (Albuquerque): Is Pedro Alvarez the next Carlos Lee?

Ken Funck: I'd take that if I were Pedro Alvarez -- Lee's had a nice career.

What the Funck? (Funkytown): What kind of line would you expect out of Aramis Ramirez this year? Last year was surely disappointing and someone is offering him to me in a fantasy trade for Michael Young and I am tempted...

Ken Funck: I am unabashedly a big A-Ram fan, and I expect him to bounce back. His consistency prior to his injuries was amazing. I'd prefer him to Young, but I can certainly understand why others wouldn't agree.

Andy (Chicago): What to expect from Colby Rasmus this year...PECOTA is making me want to cry...

Ken Funck: I'm more bullish than PECOTA -- there are multiple All-Star games in his future, if he wants them. The kid needs to take his defense more seriously, though.

Greg (DC): Nationals are serious contenders in the NL East in ____?

Ken Funck: Michelle Bachman's first presidential term.

Just foolin'. 2014?

Dave (Chicago): Trevor Cahill -- regress because of his low BABIP or does he take a step forward?

Ken Funck: He regresses -- but not as much as some people seem to think. He'll still be very good.

Tony (Albuquerque): Why was there so much wrath against Dayton Moore for signing Pedro Feliz to a minor league contract? is this signing really going to bring down the Royals rebuilding process?

Ken Funck: It's funny you should ask me this, since I wrote the Feliz comment in the upcoming annual, and when I re-read it I seemed really angry about the Cardinals trading for him. I guess it's just the principle of thing. In what way does Feliz help the Royals, really? He can't hit, and his glove ain't what it used to be. If he were a mediocre player that would help them win a few more ballgames, that would be one thing. But he's not -- any replacement 3b would help them as much.

Matt (Chicago): How does the Cubs'rotation stack up to that of its' division rivals?

Ken Funck: I hate to say it, but I have them behind the Brewers, behind the Reds, and behind the Cardinals. then again, I'm always notably pessimistic about the teams I personally root for, having pegged the Bears for a 6-10 season last year.

Ken Funck: Okay, I need to go take more meds -- hopefully of the kind that makes me think the Cubs have the BEST rotation in the Central, however briefly. Thanks for all the great questions, sorry for those I didn't get to, and thanks again for being a part of the BP community. Pitchers and catchers next week!


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