Play that funky muzak, it's time to change speeds and check out a chat with Ken Funck.
Ken Funck: Welcome to day three of BPís Clue-inspired chat trifecta. Now that youíve heard from Colonel Lindbergh and Professor Parks, all thatís left is Mr. Funck in the Chatroom with the Lead Pipe. Just like me to show up late to the party after all the cool nicknames are taken. Baseballís on the agenda, of course, though Iíll happily blather on about movies, music, food, Wisconsinís Open Meetings Law, or any other turn the conversation may take. Ask me the questions, bridge-keeper. Iím not afraid.
Marissa (Las Vegas): Which team are you picking to win The Stanley Cup?
Ken Funck: I'm not much of a hockey expert, but I'm going with the Canucks. Last night I watched Vancouver dismantle the Black Hawks, and if they play as well and hit as well as they did in the first period, they'll be tough to beat. Without Dustin Byfuglien around to disrupt his personal space, Luongo looked fantastic.
Jerry (MSP): Biggest surprises so far?
Ken Funck: The Red Sox stumbling so badly out of the gate. They have to get better, right? Buchholz and Lackey aren't really that bad, are they? I expect them to turn things around forthwith, but I never expected a team that talented could look that bad.
JC (The Great White North): How good is Jose Bautista, really?
Ken Funck: Sometimes the light just turns on. It's never a good idea to draw too many conclusions from the first two weeks of the season, but his solid start makes me think he really, truly has become a premiere player. Not 50+ HRs per year, of course, but a legitimate power source with solid on-base skills. Who'da thunk?
Jerry (MSP): Is this the year Justin Masterson turns the corner?
Ken Funck: He's managed to whiff a few lefties so far this year, and that's a good sign, but it's way too early to tell. Ask again after a few more spins through the rotation. He's a guy I've always liked and rooted for, and I hope he has a long career.
Mountainhawk (Salem, MA): Carlos Delgado: HoF?
I'm going with 'no'.
Ken Funck: I'm with you. Too bad he couldn't have stayed behind the plate. His raw counting stats are going to look a little light compared to his contemporaries. Like you, I await Jay Jaffe's judgement.
dianagramr (NYC): Hiya Ken ... thanks for the chat.
Wouldn't it be nice if the Indians could sustain their early season success? Give their dwindling fans some hope.
(They ARE doing this WITHOUT Sizemore, also)
Ken Funck: Sure, it would be nice. A lot of things would be nice: fewer reality television shows, more sunny days on the weekend, a lost trove of unpublished Douglas Adams novels. None of that's likely to happen, though. Too many outs in the lineup, too many mediocre arms in the rotation for Cleveland to stay in the hunt.
Mountainhawk (Salem, MA): The next season when an American League East team doesn't win the AL Wild Card will be 20__.
Ken Funck: It could be 2011, but I had both the Yankees and Red Sox in the playoffs before the season started, so I'll stick with that. Howzabout 2013? The more interesting question to me is how soon either the Red Sox or Yankees will have a losing season. Brains and money make for the happiest marriages, and I'm thinking it may be twenty years before either of those teams take a fall, unless something happens to modify their revenue streams.
WilliamWilde (NE): What's up w/ Liriano? Some say yesterday was a good bit of bad luck. But with glaring regression in K/BB and GB% something seems way off. Mechanical or physical?
Ken Funck: I haven't watched his starts this year, so I wouldn't be able to say whether it was a mechanical problem (even if I felt qualified to determine that). But his velocity seems to be a little down--something we've heard about a number of young-ish starters this year--more than the standard spring velo outage. It's easy to start thinking there are serious problems based on a few bad starts, but if he's still struggling like this halfway into May the Twins will have a hard time finding their way back into the playoffs.
paulbellows (Calgary): Did you see Thome's HR the other night? Is that guy really over 40?
Ken Funck: Saw the highlight, yeah. Thome seems like a guy that will still be able to hit batting practice shots over the batter's eye when he's 70. I finally was able to get him on my Strat team for this season--I can now retire from my league happy.
dtwhite (Toronto): What has happened to Aaron Hill and is there any chance he will justify having extensions exercised?
Ken Funck: Sure he can -- there's value in getting that kind of power production from a second baseman, and his BABIP can't stay as low as it was last year, can it?
Sorry for the slow answers ... my DSL seems to be uncooperative this afternoon ...
Mitch (Montreal): If Roy Halladay were to retire today, would he make the HoF?
Ken Funck: I've gotten this question before, and I think it really matters how/why he would retire. He's worn the "best pitcher in the game" mantle for a while, which might carry enough weight to overcome a short career by HOF standards if his career were shortened by some sort of Puckett-like departure. If he just decided tomorrow that he'd rather just spend the rest of his life traveling the world and helping out strangers (especially waifs) in distress, I don't think he'd get in. If he hurt his shoulder and never pitched again, I'd also bet he wouldn't get in -- an arm injury would mean he wasn't "durable" enough. But all that's just wild guessing; it's difficult for me to channel the thought processes of your typical HoF voter.
Mountainhawk (Salem, MA): Do the Phillies have the revenue stream to become perennial winners like the Red Sox and Yanks, or are they headed for a fall in 2-3 years as this core ages?
Ken Funck: They have enough of a revenue stream to be perennial winners, sure. If St. Louis does, Philadelphis certainly does. To win every year you need enough cost-controlled players coming out of your farm system to fill a few positions--especially starting pitching, where costs on the open market are usually very high--and enough revenue to survive a few of the inevitable bad contracts you sign. The Phillies qualify. Ryan Howard may be overpaid, but his contract won't kill them. If the Brewers had signed him to that contract, it would have killed them, but the Phillies can afford it.
Tony (Albuquerque): As a Royals fan, i am not buying into the semi-good start they are having. I know i'm right, but why? What is the other shoe that will drop and when will they regress to being 'the royals'?
Ken Funck: I'm not buying into it either, because I'm waiting for the pitching to collapse. On the bright side, who cares? The most important boxscores for Royals fans can be found on MiLB.com. There are some teams with no hope on the horizon; the Royals don't fit that description.
Brianfoster82 (Dallas): Has Alex Gordon turned the corner or is this early start a soon to disappear mirage?
Ken Funck: He's not going to hit .350, of course, but he might very well put up a nice season. I don't think he'll ever be an above-average bat for the corner outfield, but getting league average production from him isn't out of the question, and would be a big step forward from where he's been.
Rex Little (Big Bear CA): Travis Snider and Adam Jones are piling disappointing starts on top of disappointing careers. Do you think either or both will turn it around?
Ken Funck: Well, KG tells me Adam Jones is better than Willie Mays, so he has to turn it around, right? (Of course, that's just his standard intro into how average players today are better conditioned, better trained, etc. -- of course Willie Mays born at the same time as Adam Jones would be better than Adam Jones).
Seriously, though, I fear Adam Jones is turning into Corey Patterson, and I'm losing my optimism about him. Snider is younger and has a better chance of turning things around.
Tony (Albuquerque): Kevin Millar, he has brain damage right? Or does he just act that way when he's on MLB Network?
Ken Funck: Well, he is a self-proclaimed idiot, right? Complaining about him spouting ridiculously incorrect or incoherent opinions on TV would be like complaining about a dog licking himself in public. You can't change a creature's innate nature, even if you stuff that creature in a suit and point a camera at it.
dtwhite (Toronto): Re Hill, his low BABIP may be partially due to his increase in IF flies, which might more repeatable than we'd like to believe. Hopefully his HR and defense can justify his potential salary
Ken Funck: True. Last year it seemed like he was getting under the ball too much, but even given his changed batted ball rates his BABIP was extremely low. BABIP doesn't explain everything, but in extreme cases like Hill's you have to expect some regression. Even so, as long as he can pick it and launch a few long ones, he's valuable.
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): Over/under on the Indians wins this season: 80.5, whatdya got?
Ken Funck: I'm going to say under, though I hope I'm wrong.
Unless you're a fan of the Sheboygan Indians in my Strat League; I'd probably take the over for them.
HypedUp Cub Fan (Chicago): Ok, this Cub team isn't all that exciting to watch. Coming out of the gates and displaying their mediocrity in mediocre fashion. But when can I get incredibly excited about Starlin Castro's start? Now? Am I late already? Should I wait a month? I need something to overhype and he seems to be all I got.
Ken Funck: Especially since they're displaying their mediocrity in mediocre fashion against some pretty lousy teams. Hype up Castro all you want -- he's all we've got. Seriously, can you get excited over Marlon Byrd? Darwin Barney? Marcos Mateo? Castro just hits and hits and hits, and he's risen to every challenge he's been given. I've grown to love the kid, and it's a shameless, probably eventually self-defeating love, but I've thrown myself into it. Feel free to join me.
dianagramr (NYC): Since KG and the Professor have seemingly inspired every baseball blogger/writer to start their own podcast, we need to know when you will start the Funckdoobiest (or similarly-named) podcast?
Ken Funck: Well, I have a face for radio, so I guess I have that going for me. The basebeall podcast looks like a pretty crowded field right now, so I'm considering starting a podcast about one of my other interests, like sock puppets or juggling or Colorado Burro Racing or trepanning. I'd be able to start out at the head of the pack that way.
Guancous (Silver Spring, MD): Starlin Castro gets ___ hits this season.
Ken Funck: 327. It's a love that lasts forever, it's a love that has no past. Don't let me down, Starlin!
Tony (Albuquerque): Tulowitzki... nothing else to add, just Tulo.
Ken Funck: If I'm starting a baseball team, he's my first pick. I think I picked him for the MVP this year, didn't I? One of these times he's going to stay healthy and I'll be right.
timber (KC): Why does the MLB Network have so many idiotic former players around, though? Harold Reynolds and Mitch Williams belong in the same bucket - although I have to admit that at least Williams is hilarious while being stupid. Do they just think that the averge fan is that stupid too?
Ken Funck: You know, I enjoy watching the MLB Network. It was a little hard for me last night to listen to the Costas/Verducci/Rosenthal takes on the Bonds case, but all-in-all I enjoy it. They don't think the average fan is stupid--they think the average fan wants to know what former players have to say about the game, with the assumption that the opinions of former players are the most valid. For many things, they are. Reynolds is going to do a much better job of telling you how to lay down a bunt or how to round third base than I will, f'rinstance. He's also better positioned to talk about things like clubhouse chemistry and performing in a clutch situation. Just don't expect them to be able to articulate the underlying reasons why teams win games (e.g., avoiding outs) or why some players are more valuable than others, and you can get along with MLB Network just fine. Would I rather they also had a constant sabermetric voice on the air? Sure. But I'm not holding my breath.
Ken Funck: Okay, folks, that's all for today. Thanks for the great questions, and thanks again for making BP a part of your day. Next week, Messieurs Goldstein and deMause will be here for your chatting pleasure. Enjoy the rest of your Thursday!