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Chat: Tommy Bennett

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday February 14, 2011 1:00 PM ET chat session with Tommy Bennett.

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Expand your horizons and ask your questions of BP's Tommy Bennett.

Tommy Bennett: Okay, cats and kittens, let's give this Monday a piece of our minds.

Rex Little (Big Bear, CA): Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton and Starlin Castro all played last year at age 20. Has there ever been a year when that many 20-year-olds did as well in the majors as those three? Of the players who've done that in the past, have most ended up in Cooperstown?

Tommy Bennett: Restricting our inquiry to hitters who had at least 200 PAs, last year had four: the ones you mention plus Ruben Tejada. Years with four 20 year-old hitters aren't so rare (e.g. 1976, 1970), but the only year in recent memory with MORE 20 year-old hitters is 1964. That year, Ed Kranepool, Rusty Staub, Tony Conigliaro, Derrell Griffith, Ed Kirkpatrick, and Terry Jones all played their age-20 seasons. As best I can tell, that (6) is the record.

chaneyhey (st. louis): Please tell my St. Louis brethren that not signing Pujols by the beginning of spring training is not the end of the world. The St. Louis organization frequently does the right thing with respect to its players, and if some team wants to pay Pujols 30 million for 10 years, congrats to Pujols, but the St. Louis Cardinals are not that dumb.

Tommy Bennett: I'm convinced a $300 million contract would probably overburden the Cardinals in a decade. I'm not sure that's what he will actually get, either. That's determined by how many teams could credibly considered bidders for his services and what their willingness to pay is. But could the Cardinals be a winning baseball team without Albert Pujols? Sure.

Of course, all that is a totally separate consideration from whether they should get a deal done before he reports to spring training. They will still have time after the season, and as I wrote last week, the deadline itself is much softer than it appears.

Sean (DC): What are your thoughts on Delmon this year? More similar to his 2009 or 2010? Is .300/30/100 too optimistic?

Tommy Bennett: That is probably too optimistic, in large part because projecting any hitter to hit over .300 is rarely a good idea (but see Ichiro). That being said, I think the advances made in 2010 were for real, but you have to wonder how valuable a guy who only took 23 unintentional walks really is.

josh (VA): Travis Wood, this year and long term? Is his stuff for real and does the recent report that this off-season he worked out with Cliff Lee boost his status at all? Thank you.

Tommy Bennett: I think he can be a very credible middle of the rotation guy, but probably not more than that. I'm very skeptical that "working with" other players materially improves performance. If it did, I think the great players could make a lot of money selling their training services—but they don't.

tigerdog (Orange, CA): How far off is Jacob Turner from the show? What does he need, other than consistency?

Tommy Bennett: Health and innings? Lord knows the Tigers like to put guys on the fast track, but I'd hesitate before bringing him up at all this year.

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Tommy, Marc has told us who some of the players he has special love for. Care to give us a few of yours? Thanks, Dan

Tommy Bennett: Hmm, let's say Mike Napoli, Angel Pagan, Jhoulys Chacin, Julio Teheran, and Shaun Marcum

Jquinton82 (NY): Given Shelby Miller's numbers on the PECOTA cards Vs Teheran's in K/BB department 2.08 to 1.68 wouldn't he be the better of the two?

Tommy Bennett: PECOTA appears to think so, but you have to think about relative competence of scouts versus projection systems for players so young. PECOTA has something to add, and Shelby Miller is undoubtedly a promising pitcher, but Teheran has done nothing but wow scouts for the last 18 months or so.

Matthew (Raleigh): "The Braves are the second best team in the NL behind Philly." Convince me I'm wrong, because going into the season with high expectations is the best way to feel let down.

Tommy Bennett: I think it's a defensible position. The Giants did a big bunch of nothing this offseason, and the Central is generally pretty weak. You could make an argument for the Reds or Padres as well.

Drungo (SoMd): Would you have invested in the Orioles stimulus package of roughly 154 one-year contracts, or just told the fanbase "hey, you've waited 15 years, what's another two or three or six" and dumped it all into amateur signings and development while risking getting nothing out of the current Markakis/Roberts/Jones core?

Tommy Bennett: I think you have to balance things. I probably would have spent significantly more of the money on signings (particularly with a promising draft class this summer), but I'm not privy to all the information that the O's have at their disposal. This year strikes me as a pretty critical one, particularly for Markakis and Jones. They are going to have to become the stars people hoped they would or not.

goiter6 (MN): 20 team strato keeper league - who would rather have, Ruben Tejada or Jake Fox?

Tommy Bennett: I wouldn't be too excited about either of those guys, but I guess I'd take Tejada for position and upside.

Matt (Chicago): On the subject of King Albert, doesn't 8/240 seem like a fair/acceptable framework? Cubs have to be chomping at the bit.

Tommy Bennett: Fair is a conclusion, not an argument.

SoxFan (Ft. Myers): As pitchers and catcher report to Spring Training, how would you rank the top 5 rotations in the majors? Would the Red Sox make that list?

Tommy Bennett: I'm pretty bad at off the cuff lists, but I'd be reluctant to put the Red Sox in there. Question marks around Beckett and Lackey seem too significant.

hotstatrat (Toronto): What's the best group to come out since Radiohead?

Tommy Bennett: In, like, all of music? OutKast.

dianagramr (NYC): Hi Tommy ... thanks for the chat ... Jenrry Mejia or Matt Harvey for better chance of being a top-flight SP for the Mets sometime in the future?

Tommy Bennett: With Harvey you have the inconsistency of his track record, and with Mejia you have the uncertainty about his ultimate role. Because Mejia is more in control of his uncertainty than Harvey is of his, I'll go with Mejia.

WilliamWilde (Boston): There seems to be something missing from the Elijah Dukes story. Guys is still young enough, the skills/tools are immense (ceiling seems higher than say Lastings Milledge). Besides smoking a little reefer and the odd lover's quarrel what did he do to fully poison the well? I mean Milton Bradley is still in the league (nominally).?

Tommy Bennett: If bad makeup were a tool, Dukes would be an 80 for sure. Absolutely worse than Bradley. Here's hoping him the best of luck in his incipient rap career.

WilliamWilde (Boston): Go Lady Antebellum! Woohoo. This is the day after Grammy chat right?

Tommy Bennett: I don't understand the question, and I won't respond to it

Matt (Chicago): I don't think conventional wisdom giving CIN enough credit. I think they have a deeper, more athletic club than their NLC counterparts.

Tommy Bennett: I tend to agree, although if the Cardinals' signings (Berkman, Westbrook) work out, they are legit contenders.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Do you see St. Louis' revenue rising drastically in the near future? Because if not it might not make sense to spend roughly $150M on Pujols age 36-40 seasons. If I were St. Louis I'd be much more concerned about the number of years as opposed to the yearly salary.

Tommy Bennett: I'm not sure what would cause anyone to see revenue increasing drastically, but I bet all teams will experience better growth over the next ten years than they did over the last two. Still, money later can be converted into money now and vice versa, so if it takes years, it takes money. With someone like Pujols, you should be willing to pay as much as you would for any player.

Sean (DC): What do you think think of Morneau's chances of fully recovering from his concussion? It seems like the impact could have a potentially lasting effect, especially on the mental side of the game.

Tommy Bennett: Without knowing ANYTHING about the situation in particular, I find it conspicuous that he has taken so long to return to baseball activities. I trust his doctors and the team to do what's best for him.

WilliamWilde (Boston): Tommy, I seem to remember you saying you like electro-pop. Hear the new Cut Copy? Sort of a snoozer IMO. In for any of the final LCD action?

Tommy Bennett: It's still on my pile of shame. I think others were more positive on their last one than I was. I have a general block on MSG shows, but I might try to snag tickets to the T5 LCD shows.

tigerdog (Orange, CA): Okay then, how does Andy Oliver project? Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello, Turner, Oliver- with Coke/ Crosby around looks pretty good.

Tommy Bennett: My sense is that Oliver's ceiling is much lower than Turner's, but he certainly could be useful. I do think the Tigers have set themselves up nicely for the next couple of years. In particular, I love watching Scherzer pitch.

Paul (DC): Of last year's ROY candidates, I think no one will debate Heyward as projecting the best career path forward. But who ranks as #2, #3, and #4?

Tommy Bennett: Posey, Stanton, and Castro would be my top picks

JT (Michigan): Best since Radiohead honors? Sufjan Stevens. Madlib. MF DOOM.

Tommy Bennett: Sufjan is not at all for me. Like everyone else, I'm still waiting for that next Madvillain record.

Sean (DC): Do the Rays find a way to get Desmond Jennings in their lineup this year? If so, at the expense of which players PT? The rays seem to have a bunch of 'super-utility' type guys.

Tommy Bennett: I think so. Joyce and Damon seem like the likeliest targets.

Ryan (My House): What is YOUR projection on Mike Stanton for this coming year?

Tommy Bennett: .250/.340/.510 with 30 HR

Paul (DC): And the biggest gap in value between Heyward - Posey - Stanton - Castro occurs where?

Tommy Bennett: Between Stanton and Castro

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Just curious, what else are you interested in besides baseball?

Tommy Bennett: Hip-hop, politics, law, trivia, film

Sean (DC): World Series predictions? ROY/CY Young/MVP guesses?

Tommy Bennett: I am just dreadful at this. I'm always trying to be surprising and end up saying something stupid. WIth that in mind, let's go with Phillies vs. Tigers in the Series. I'll say Desmond Jennings and Aroldis Chapman for ROY, Pujols and Cabrera for MVP, and Halladay and Verlander for Cy.

tigerdog (Orange, CA): 2012 CBA, yes or no? 1. Hard slotting system? 2. International draft? 3. Tougher luxury tax?

Tommy Bennett: 1. Definitely not, 2. Not in a million years, 3. Possible but still probably not

Most of the action will be on free agent compensation and the like.

PadresOnTop (sandiego): I have three outfielders I can extend next year in a NL only 4x4 league: CarGo at 10, Andrew McCutcheon at 15 and Drew Stubbs at 5. Leaning toward a 3-year extension for CaGo, a 1-year extension for McCutcheon and a 2-year extension for Stubbs. Your thoughts?

Tommy Bennett: Does the length of their extension alter the salary? If not, I'd say definitely 3 for CarGo given the low price. McCutchen could go two.

JT (Michigan): Every year as a youngster/teenager, I'd pick a hitter and a pitcher for the Jays on whom the season rested: not the stars (expected) or scrubs (no hope). Who are those guys for this year? I'm thinking Snider and Drabek, but JPA and Frank Frank work, too.

Tommy Bennett: The player I'm most rooting for on the Jays is Eric Thames. Drabek will be solid—I have little doubt.

JT (Michigan): DOOM, check. Outkast, check. Who else do you like for rappers? The Detroit guys? (Danny Brown, eLZhi, Dilla, Black Milk)?

Tommy Bennett: Freddie Gibbs, Killa Kyleon, and Curren$y are some current favorites. Roc Marciano's "Marcberg" was probably the #1 slept-on record of last year.

Matt (Chicago): What is your gut impression of new Cub ownership? Do they seem like they have a plan or are they a bit overwhelmed?

Tommy Bennett: The jury's still out. Seems like this offseason went a little better than the previous few, so that's encouraging.

Tony (Albuquerque): How do you see Gio Gonzalez playing out this year?

Tommy Bennett: I've always been pretty optimistic about him. It's been about gaining maturity, and I think he has a chance to put it all together this year. FWIW, PECOTA agrees with me.

Matt (Chicago): Is Drew Stubbs vastly underrated because he plays w Votto & Bruce, or is just me? He does a lot of things on the baseball field to help you win.

Tommy Bennett: Well he's obviously worse than Votto and Bruce. He'll need to do better than league average OBP at least once before I get very excited.

JT (Michigan): Do you like Das Racist? Best Gibbs tune: "National Anthem" or "What it B Like?"

Tommy Bennett: Das Racist is cool with me because of their Times mag. interview. Best Gibbs tune for me is either Midwest Malcolm or Womb 2 The Tomb, but National Anthem is VERY strong.

Jquinton82 (NY): Rank the following: Lamb, Teheran, Gibson, Miller, Montgomery, Perez

Tommy Bennett: Wouldn't you rather buy the annual and see what KG has to say? I have been big on both Lamb and Teheran for quite some time.

Matt (Chicago): Speaking of OBP challenges, can T Colvin overcome his and become a serviceable corner OF?

Tommy Bennett: Isn't the question more about how much of his power will stick around once pitchers make the adjustment? That will drive his ability to be selective more than anything else.

Brian (Philly): Have you heard "Yonkers" yet?

Tommy Bennett: The OFWGKTA jawn? I am pretty skeptical about that whole endeavor. Am I being closed minded?

Dan (Philly): So what percentage of major leaguers will use Kanye's "Power" as their at-bat music this year? 25%? Higher? (Incidentally, I want someone to use "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," just once.)

Tommy Bennett: How about "Baby Elephant Walk"?

CJ Wilson (Arlington): Since I'm an Internet darling, I thought I'd swing by and get your thoughts on whether you think I'll become an ace in my contract year or level off at slightly below last year's breakout.

Tommy Bennett: Leveling off slightly below last year's level seems pretty darn good to me, Mr. Str8edgeracer. You were a five win pitcher last year.

Matt (Chicago): You have to like the back-end of the Cubs pen(Wood,Marshall, Marmol), no?

Tommy Bennett: Carlos Marmol is my favorite freak in the whole world. It's this crazy high-wire act that makes no sense but is exhilarating. He's the Cirque du Soleil of closers.

Tony (Albuquerque): As a hip-hop dude, what did you think of Arcade Fires performance last night?

Tommy Bennett: This.

josh (VA): Edwin Encarnacion - 30 dingers and 80 rbi this year? Justin Masterson - 15 wins and 180 K this year?

Tommy Bennett: Encarnacion has never hit more than 26 HR in a season, so I'll take the under there. Masterson has got to solve his crazy splits against lefties if he's going to be that good.

Jquinton82 (NY): Thoughts on Wieters this year as I picked him up in a trade to hedge my bets on Posada's age and Jesus Montero's ability to stay behind the plate... should I go and pick up Wilin Rosario in my draft as well?

Tommy Bennett: I think Wieters will be a league average catcher, which definitely has fantasy value.

woodruff11 (nyc): Pick 4 keepers from Buchholz, Chapman, Hanson, Latos, Scherzer, N Feliz, Hellickson

Tommy Bennett: Hanson, Latos, Scherzer, Feliz—on gut feel alone

JT (Michigan): Did Madlib do the beats for Marcberg?

Tommy Bennett: Nah, he produced all the tracks himself

jhardman (Raleigh, NC): Another quick speculation question: Who are the starting five pitchers for the Texas Rangers at the all-star break, barring injury of course?

Tommy Bennett: Why would you bar injury? So you get Webb in there? If the question is about Feliz, I bet he's in there for sure.

Matt (Chicago): Sounds like Phils are stacked again at lower levels. Will that day of financial reckoning be avoided, perhaps?

Tommy Bennett: That's obviously the plan. If Cosart and Singleton can repeat their success and Singleton can show consistency over the course of a whole season, they'll be well on their way. If you buy enough lottery tickets, you can in fact make money.

Brian Cashman (Tampa): Hal and Hank are not going to like this bill for the clubhouse buffet... I've got to feed CC and Bartolo? Thats the real reason Cliff Lee didn't come to the Bronx, he thought those two would eat him.

Tommy Bennett: Ha, because they're fat.

TOny (Albuquerque): How long till Bryce Harper is a significant fantasy contributor?

Tommy Bennett: I'll say AT LEAST two years before he is a good bet in shallower mixed leagues.

Ok, one or two more questions before we call it a day.

jhardman (Raleigh, NC): Ok, don't bar injury. :-) Part of the question was about Feliz, but with Wilson and Lewis being the only sure bets, I was hoping for an opinion. If Feliz is in there and Webb as well, leaving Hunter as a 5th starter, what becomes of the other challengers? (Harrison, Feldman, Kirkman, etc.) And, who closes?

Tommy Bennett: Ok, fair enough. Is the book closed on Holland so soon? I'm not completely convinced, but I do think Hunter is the presumptive pick. The rest become swingmen or worse—the fate of all fringy starters. The closer will probably be Ogando, at least to start, because of his stuff.

Matt (Chicago): Do you think a Michael Young trade will be a swap of bad contracts or will TEX get some useful pieces and/or meaningful salary relief?

Tommy Bennett: To get much back they're going to have to eat some salary, so it's something of a closed system. Basically they have to pick one of salary relief or useful pieces.

Tommy Bennett: Thanks for a fun chat, everyone. Enjoy pitchers and catchers day.


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