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Chat: Mike Petriello

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday March 17, 2011 1:00 PM ET chat session with Mike Petriello.

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Join another member of the new gang, as Mike Petriello makes his BPro chat debut too.

Mike Petriello: It's St. Patrick's Day and the NCAA tournament started about an hour ago. So this chat is for you, the twelve people who actually made it into work today. You're the real heroes. If you're just joining us, I've been writing about fantasy baseball here at BP since last year, and I also run the Dodgers blog Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness. Let's get started.

mef (Brooklyn, NY): Who do you think the first closer to lose his job will be?

Mike Petriello: There's still some jobs that aren't totally decided yet, and most guys who have to wait this long to claim the gig usually have a pretty short leash. Among those who we know will start the year at closer, I've got to go with Fernando Rodney of the Angels, who's just not that good and has a few guys behind him, even with Scott Downs' injury. I particularly like Jordan Walden there.

Honorable mention goes to Francisco Cordero, who's declining and can't possibly fend off Aroldis Chapman all year.

Moose (CA): Hey Mike, I'm in a keeper league and we get to keep two guys. Last year I had Pujols, Cargo, and Votto. I actually like Votto more than Cargo, but I'm thinking of keeping Cargo instead because I think he complements Pujols better. Also, he won't be leaving Coors any time soon. The league has two UTIL spots so Votto's position doesn't bug me that much. Thoughts on who to keep?

Mike Petriello: Pujols is a given, obviously. I think the choice between Cargo and Votto may depend on your league settings. Do you require a CF, or just three OF spots? I tend to think Cargo's in for some regression, and would probably rather have Votto if you can fill the outfield with any three guys. If you are required to have a CF, that thins the pool quite a bit, which may push me more towards Cargo.

Nate Dogg (Area Code 777): On a scale from 1 to 100, how annoying is it when commenters say things like "HOW WILL THE TURF AT TORONTO AFFECT HIS BABIP"? Like, a.) nobody can really give a definitive answer and b.) his 350 ABs in TO next year won't be enough to normalize anyway. Can we institute some sort of test for commenters?

Mike Petriello: I'd be in favor of at least asking the same three questions that Bantam Draper III asked David Spade to gain entrance into the PCU fraternity house.

cjslawyer (The Insurance Capital of the World): Hey Mike, really enjoy your stuff here and on MSTI. Has there been anything in the off-season or early spring training that inspires any confidence in Donnie Baseball's managing ability?

Mike Petriello: Thanks. It's really hard to judge Mattingly when he's still yet to manage a single real game, but so far I think he's been impressive off the field. He's 20+ years younger than Joe Torre and reportedly much better equipped to relate to the younger players, and he decided on the Opening Day starter and the batting order very early in camp, rather than letting it linger like Torre did.

We'll have to see how it goes when the games start (I know everyone likes to bash his 'two mound visits' fiasco, but that's hardly fair). If anything worries me so far, it's that he says he wants to bat Casey Blake 2nd because he can bunt, which is problematic for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that Blake injured himself on a bunt last week.

Jason (NJ): If you had a choice next year of Weaver versus Haren? Who would you take?

Mike Petriello: Probably Weaver, though I think they're both going to have very good years. That's a great question, really, because it's closer than I thought it would be. Weaver gets the edge for me just on the youth and the K's, but not by that much.

RC (March. Madness.): Mike, when writers like Dan Shaughnessy and Bill Koch underrate players who are better in real life than in Fantasy (see: Drew, JD), is that an indictment more of traditional stats/thinking or the FBB community at large? Should these writers be beaten with a shovel?

Mike Petriello: I'll refrain from the potentially litigious idea of advising people to attack journalists with garden equipment, but I generally see that thing as thinking more with your heart than your head. Drew doesn't "look" like he cares, so he must not care, right? He's better at plate discipline than traditional stats like homers, so he must not be really contributing, right? It's not just Boston, though; I remember how much garbage he got from LA fans and journalists when he was there, and all he did was hit .284/.399/.505 for the Dodgers.

Jason (NJ): If you are the Mariners, why are you even thinking about trading King Felix? He is at a relatively decent priced contract and with Pineda and possibly Cole that makes for the possibility for a very good rotation quickly.

Mike Petriello: I don't think they really are, regardless of what Ken Rosenthal and Yankee writers are saying. He's young, under contract, excellent, and seems to want to stay in Seattle. (I believe he's one of the few Mariners who actually lives there in the offseason.) It'd be almost impossible to get his full value back via trade, and his age makes it possible that he could be part of the next good Mariners team. Perhaps that changes in a year, two years, if the M's haven't improved, but I don't see it happening now.

EephusBlue (San Francisco): Hey Mike, If you had to be stuck on a desert island with one of the players from the softball episode of the Simpsons, who would it be and why? And this excludes Mike Scioscia as thats just too obvious.

Mike Petriello: I can't pick Mindy Simmons, right? And I assume Steve Sax has already been sent to the chair for all those murders he committed in New York. Probably Ozzie Smith, then. I want to see all his pictures from the mystery dimension.

Conor McCreery (Toronto): Hey Mike, Odd question, but I am trying to evaluate walks/HBP a bit differently for a league I am in. What percentage of the time does the average major league hitter come up with nobody on base? And how often does he come up with the bases loaded?

Mike Petriello: Interesting. Last year, there were 152,370 MLB plate appearances total. 4702 of those came with the bases loaded, 103,032 came with no one on base. So that's about 20 times as likely you'll come up with the bases empty as you will with the bases loaded.

Barney (Springfield): LORD PALMERSTON!!

Mike Petriello: PITT THE ELDER!

RC (March. Madness.): Are you getting to watch any of the games so far? If so, are you also singing "RE-tuuurn of the Mack" every time Sheldon gets the ball?

Mike Petriello: Is this a basketball question? You know as well as I do that the only game I plan on watching is seeing if Boston U can stay within 70 points of Kansas. (Short answer: no. Long answer: holy god, no.)

EephusBlue (San Francisco): Serious question now. When do you realistically see Jerry Sands getting the call and making the team outside of a Sept. cup of coffee? 2012 reasonable?

Mike Petriello: I'm a big fan of Jerry Sands, but I think his timeframe is more going to be decided by the big league team. Hey, maybe you can actually get a decent left fielder out of JaMarcus Gwybbons, Jr., and maybe James Loney decides to act like he's really a useable MLB first baseman again.

I don't have a lot of confidence in either of those things happening, unfortunately. I think there's a 95% chance Sands sees MLB service sometime this year, and probably even before September. My money's on June, with an eye towards him being the fulltime 1B or LF (this also depends on Trayvon Robinson) in 2012.

Mitch Kayak (New York, New York): What impact do you think Jenks will have on the Boston bullpen?

Mike Petriello: I thought it was a great addition. After several years of decline, he increased his strikeout rate last year, and ended up with the second highest K/BB of his career, despite the misleading career-high ERA. Jenks was maybe miscast as an elite closer, but as the 2nd or 3rd best guy in your pen? That's a nice pickup, especially on the short deal.

RC (Amazing Race Commercials. Ugh.): What the hell happened to Chin Lung Hu? I get the .900 OPS at Vegas was a PCL-driven mirage - but can he still be a serviceable MLB SS, given how awful the average really is?

Mike Petriello: Actually, that career year (2007, I believe) came mostly at Jacksonville, not Vegas. That in theory should make it look even better, and it did get him up on the prospect charts, but he's never been able to match it. I think he gets a bad rap because of his atrocious 2008 filling in at the big league level when every Dodger shortstop was hurt (they actually had to go out and get Angel "of Death" Berroa, for chrissakes), but he'll never be more than a below-average hitter.

Still, his fielding is so good that if he's less than league average at the plate, that's a shortstop who can at least be a placeholder until you find someone better. It's the Cesar Izturis career path.

cjslawyer (Insurance Capital of the World): So for those of us who are Yankees fans, what can we expect out of Russell Martin? Did Torre really kill all of his future value with overuse?

Mike Petriello: I put a lot of the blame for this on Torre, but for once it's not entirely his fault. To start, Grady Little did the exact same thing in 2007 before Torre got there. Martin also seems to change his workout regimen every year - he's the king of "best shape of my life" guys - and even recently admitted that he wasn't as focused last year as he should have been.

That said, I think he'll look a lot better (if he's healthy) in the Bronx than he did in LA, because the Dodgers and their generally lousy offense were counting on him to be a big cog. With the Yankees, he's just a guy, and particularly he's just a guy to tide you over until Montero/Sanchez/Romine/whomever are ready. The one skill he didn't lose in his decline was good plate discipline, so if he can give you 120 games worth of good OBP and decent defense this year, I think that'll suit the Yankees just fine.

Travis (VA): A chat at the same time as KLaw? What are you trying to do to us? Honest opinion, does Broxton keep the job all year? I would love it if he came out and went 40-40 in saves. But his spring so far has not inspired confidence.

Mike Petriello: I think it's a bit unfair to say Broxton's having a poor spring; he had one really bad game, and has been relatively fine otherwise. According to Rick Honeycutt, his velocity at this point in the spring is the same as it has been in recent years, and he'll get every opportunity to keep his job. It's really the best case scenario for the Dodgers that he does, because otherwise they have a highly paid and untradeable setup man and a hole in the 9th.

My honest opinion? He'll be good, not as good as he'd been previously, but good enough, and when he blows a save here or there - as even the best do occasionally - the uproar from fans and media will be akin to if he'd come out as a terrorist.

RC ((seriously now)): My Carlos Santana love is out of control ... in our 1-catcher keeper, should I rate him above McCann even? Is the 5th too early (there's no "keeper" penalty, just lose picks 1-5 for the up to 5 you keep)?

Mike Petriello: Hey, I love Santana too, but he's coming off a busted knee and has yet to play a full season. Meanwhile, McCann has been consistently great and is still only going to be 27 this year. I can't back Santana over McCann.. yet.

Matt (Chicago): Thoughts on Tyler Colvin? He is a very controversial player amongst Cub fans.

Mike Petriello: I think he can be a useful piece, but I wouldn't overexpose him as an every day player. He's never going to have a high OBP, he's always going to strike out a lot, but power is power, especially from the left side. If I'm the Cubs, I carry him as a 4th outfielder (remember, Soriano, Byrd, and Fukudome are all 32 or older) and bench bat, and then also carry a 5th guy who's righty and can play defense, like a Reed Johnson type.

vanlensa (Chicago): What impact can we expect from Brandon Belt out of the gate? Is he draftable in a 12 team auction keeper mixed league draft? I dont wanna use up a bench slot for half the season...

Mike Petriello: I think any impact he makes out of the gate is going to be at AAA, since the Giants - rightly or wrongly - feel as though that worked out for them with Posey last year. He's been nothing but impressive, so I think he'll be up by June. That may not be enough to draft him right now in a redraft league, but in a keeper league I'd definitely grab him while you can.

Moose (CA): Dodger question for you, Mike. If the Dodgers aren't at least within 4 games of COL and/or SF at the all star break, I'd like to see the Dodgers fire-sale Loney, Thames, Furcal, and maybe Broxton, and bring up Dee, Sandman, and Trayvon to replace them. We'll restock the farm, if slightly, and we'll give the kids some Major League experience, while avoiding a super-two status. Yes, I realize there are a lot of "IFs" there... but I'm a fan of getting the most of your players on the field if you're in a pennant race and via trade if you're not.

Mike Petriello: I get where you're coming from, but can't totally agree. If Loney and Broxton are doing well, then the Dodgers probably aren't too far off the pace. If they're not, then their trade value is zero anyway. Thames isn't worth anything in trade regardless of how he does. I think you'll see Sands and Robinson at some point this season; Gordon is too raw and doesn't need to be rushed. He shouldn't see the bigs this year at all, and you could argue that he starts next year in the minors as well.

Matt (Chicago): Am I alone in expecting continued development from Starlin C this year- sluggier with a continued .300+BA?

Mike Petriello: If Castro put together the exact same year as he did last year, that'd be a success, right? I think there's always room for improvement from a guy who more than held his own in the bigs at age 20, and the power might come as he fills out a bit more. I just wouldn't expect a huge power boost this year, because other than a nice short 20-game stint to begin 2010, he hadn't displayed a ton of power in the minors, either. He may add some more doubles, but don't hold your breath waiting on homers.

RC (Go Clemson): Speaking of Martin ... should we expect Kurt Suzuki to similarly fall off the planet Earth (like, again, Ozzie Smith)? Also, trim those sideburns, Petriello!

Mike Petriello: You could argue that it's already begun, right? Suzuki hit only .242/.303/.366 last year, which even for a catcher is pretty lousy (though the double digit homers were nice). The difference here is that Suzuki's peak wasn't as great as Martin's, so the fall probably won't be as noticable either.

RC ((dorrrrrrk)): KenPom (of Basketball Prospectus fame) says BU is something like 2.6% to win ... THOSE ODDS AREN'T THAT LONG! All I'm saying is, if you get the money line at +5000, you're printing money on BU. When's the KenPom chat?

Mike Petriello: 2.6% on what planet? I'd rather put my money on the odds that BU doesn't even show up than that they have a 2.6% chance of taking down Kansas.

RC (Free candy!): 5-team keeper, each 'keep' loses a corresponding pick from 1 to 5 - 5x5 league with OBP instead of BA. Obvious keeps of Fielder/Tulo/Youkilis/Bautista - I can keep one of the following, or ditch and pick up a 5th-rd pick: Kershaw, McCann, Kinsler What do?

Mike Petriello: Kershaw's going to be a top-10 pitcher this year. Mark it, dude.

Larry (Missouri): Ned Yost said that he's more impressed with Alcides Escobar post trade than he was pre trade. What's his ceiling?

Mike Petriello: Well, I would hope that's what he said, as opposed to the alternative of "I sure liked this guy a lot more before we went out and got him". He's not Yuniesky Betancourt, anyway, and that's a plus. Obviously, Escobar had a tough 2010, but I think there's more there. He increased his walk rate and lowered his K rate from his short 2009 debut, and i can't imagine that his BABIP stays at .246 forever. I think he's a good bet to bounce back this year, at least to the level of a solid starter, and his good defense and potential for steals factors into that.

Fantasy Questioner (Every Website): Please rank the following for me in an all-time eternal comparison league, 10x10 with exceptions for capital gains: -David Price -Max Scherzer -Cap Anson -Roberto Luongo -Old Hoss Radbourne -Jimmy the Greek -Tommy Hanson -Cory Hart (the one who sang "Sunglasses at Night")

Mike Petriello: I'll take CyborgTommyHanson above all of them.

Our Sea (Durrr-inkin): Is there anything funnier than guys rooting for the "under" for a game? Constantly yelling "Slow it down, slow it down" or rooting against baskets ... unreal.

Mike Petriello: If we didn't have gambling, wouldn't the interest level in March Madness plummet by about 2000%?

Mike Petriello: That's it for today - thanks for taking some time off of what are essentially two of the three biggest American holidays landing on the same day. (The third, of course, being Festivus.) Until next time..


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