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Chat: Marc Normandin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday April 25, 2011 1:00 PM ET chat session with Marc Normandin.

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Whether your fantasies run to baseball or something more obscure, BP Fantasy Lord Marc Normandin is the man to interpret your dreams.

Marc Normandin: The first month of the season is almost over, and the standings don't matter nearly at all yet, but it's great to have baseball back, yeah?

SnakeDoctor18 (NY): Are both Rajai Davis and Andres Torres worth holding onto, with the injuries and all, will the SB and other offensive perks still get there this season?

Marc Normandin: Unless you think you can find someone who will outproduce Torres and Davis the rest of the year, why would you? Short term fixes are fine, of course, but giving those two up to find temporary replacements won't work in any league where other owners watch the waiver wire.

stately (atl): you still see rios as a 20/20 guys this year. i know he's bad very bad luck (see BABIP) but he also has a history of playing poorly for, like, entire seasons.

Marc Normandin: It's tough for me to get too excited or too upset about 91 plate appearances, in either direction. It's even tougher for me to be upset when the player in question has a .197 BABIP. If I thought he would be fine three weeks ago, chances are good I still think he will be the rest of the year (assuming they didn't do something like break themselves in two sliding into home plate, I mean)

Susan (Boston): I always hear people mostly dismissing early season stats due to a small sample size. At what point during the season is the sample size large enough? Is it the 81 game mark? If so, is there something special at 81 games that 65 games doesn't provide?

Marc Normandin: It depends on the stat, honestly. Russell Carlton wrote about this in the past, and it's a great reference. It takes about half-a-season for home run rates to stabilize, for instance, and basically the entire year before you can trust Isolated Power.

I'm going to be a little slow with the chat questions at first, but I'll pick up the pace in a short bit, and I'll stick around a little longer than planned to make up for it.

hannah (bay area, ca): Do you think that Varitek behind the plate has a legitimate effect on Josh Beckett's pitching, or Tek just happens to be there during his better years and backing up during his worse years?

Marc Normandin: Beckett's back was a problem last year, which meant he had little command of his curveball (his best pitch). That meant more fastballs, and more fastballs the opposition knew were coming. I don't think it matters who is calling the game when Beckett doesn't have his curveball, because he is screwed either way.

stately (atl): let's pretend it's 4/25/10. should i drop pablo sandoval and pick up jose bautista?

Marc Normandin: Sure, but only if you also make room for Chris Shelton.

Reginald (NY): Is Jonny Gomes worth keeping? Will he keep up the production with this huge walk rate? Or would Jason Bay be a better pick up?

Marc Normandin: I wrote about Gomes last Friday, and I don't think we can expect him to remain a productive fantasy player. Given the way his ownership rates have skyrocketed, though, you may want to see what you can get for him in a trade.

Suttree (DraysBay): How often do you confuse Felipe Lopez and Jose Lopez? IT HAPPENS TO ME ALL THE TIME.

Marc Normandin: There hasn't been much of a difference between the two since last year, has there? Which of the two has more job security right now?

Fat Elvis (St. Louis): Seriously, how long can I keep this up?

Marc Normandin: Hey, if you're healthy, why shouldn't you be able to hit? You were healthy in 2009 and hit just fine. Unhealthy in 2010, you didn't hit. I mean, you won't slug over .700, but if you can stay on the field, the Cardinals will be happy with the signing.

buddons42 (Detroit): Hey Marc, I've used CBS for all my fantasy needs for years now and I love their main site. However, their mobile site and Android app are so inexcusably bad they're essentially non-functional. I guess I don't really have a question other than, how can such a major fantasy player in the year 2011 so blatantly ignore mobile users??

Marc Normandin: I haven't used the Android app, but the mobile site is a pain to navigate. Sadly, it works better than it used to. I use CBS for quite a bit too, so it would be pretty great if they improved that for those times I forget to set my lineup while I'm in front of a computer.

SnakeDoctor18 (NY): Hey Marc, my deep pitching staff in my current 12-team 6x6 roto league is Haren, Hanson, Hudson, Morrow, Drabek, Ogando, Colby Lewis, Matusz, and Scott Baker. Who do you think I should attempt to trade for some offense?

Marc Normandin: Ogando, if someone is willing to give you something worthwhile for him. Is it a keeper league? Morrow would be another good sell in a single-year league, given the hype surrounding him versus his actual production.

dawson950 (Marstons Mills, Ma.): Brentz,Jacobs,Vitek,Middlebrooks and Hassan are all off to very fine starts for various Red Sox minor league teams. Which one do you think has the best chance to continue and achieve a real "break our" season?

Marc Normandin: I'm a huge Middlebrooks fan (not that I dislike the other prospects). But Middlebrooks has been making small improvements in his offense the last few years, and is an excellent defensive player as well.

I haven't paid as much attention to the guys in the lower minors yet, but that will come over the summer.

Mike P (NYC): $25, or one-quarter of the full FAAB allotment, wasn't too much to bid for Jed Lowrie, right? If not, how come you didn't top it?

Marc Normandin: It was you! I bid $10 on him because I was already set at those positions and have other places I should probably hold on to that money for. $25 isn't too much if you're not planning on keeping him at that price. FAAB is there to spend, yeah?

jhardman (Apex, NC): Four starts for Alexi Ogando and he has a WHIP of 0.79. Shouldn't the other teams have had a chance to make adjustments to his two-pitch arsenal by now? Or is he for real?

Marc Normandin: Using your own question, I can answer that. Four starts. Not a lot of repeat opponents in that mix who can adjust to him the second time around.

I like Ogando and all, but he has been more successful than he will end up being, assuming he remains in this job.

Dennis (LA): Are you a believer in Freddie Freeman and Jose Tabata? Can they sustain anything close to their current walk rates (Freeman 12%, Tabata 12.5%)? Which of the two do you think will be more valuable going forward?

Marc Normandin: Tabata had some solid walk rates in the minors--an improvement on his 6.3 percent rate from 2010 wouldn't be a surprise, especially given his start, but he doesn't have nearly enough plate appearances to say this is totally for real yet, either.

It's the same deal with Freeman. He had some solid walk rates in the minors--pretty good, not amazing--but has good strike zone judgment and low strikeout rates. Tabata is the better fantasy player for 2011, thanks to steals and his position--Freeman, as a first baseman, is going to have a harder time standing out at his position.

Tom (Madison): Do the A's have the best rotation in baseball once you factor in the twittering capabilities of Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, and Dallas Braden?

Marc Normandin: I would like to see the Phillies try to contend with the A's on Twitter. Roy Halladay's angry stares don't translate well into 140 character bursts, especially not up against Brandon McCarthy's sense of humor.

Steve (New York): Is Jose Bautista going to have another fluke season?

Marc Normandin: Is this a philosophical question? If he has another great year, isn't it no longer a fluke? Is he fluking his way into excellent plate discipline and strike zone recognition? Because that seems to be his main weapon.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Hey Marc, Russell Martin: Um, huh? Discuss.

Marc Normandin: What is the only mistake the Red Sox made this winter?

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Thoughts on Sam Fuld? He's been great for me but I'm not sure how long he'll keep it up and I'm thinking of selling high on him. Thanks Marc.

Marc Normandin: As long as he gets playing time--meaning, as long as Desmond Jennings remains in the minors--he should be healthy and productive. If you can convince someone he will actually hit for power, though, then move him.

stately (atl): russel martin has a career iso of .130. so far this year: .362. his walk rate is actually well below his career average so far, and his strikeout rate is unchanged. not sure about all this "he's only 28. he's probably just better than ever" talk. probably more like a .275/.360/.400 guy. very serviceable catcher, but not headline news.

Marc Normandin: Oh, I don't expect him to be all-world for the Yankees. But the Sox were in on him and were outbid, and now have Saltalamacchia and Varitek, who combined may be less productive than Martin. I have no problem with the Salty/Varitek combo in Boston, but they were close to doing better than that, and for cheap.

Tony (Albuquerque): What should we take from the paradox of Dice-K's first start compared with his next two?

Marc Normandin: I wrote about this over at Red Sox Beacon today, actually. Basically, Dice-K does this sometimes, and then, in between the occasional awesome, is super frustrating. If he's average by year's end, then that's cool and all, but instead of throwing a bunch of average starts, he gets hit hard or dominates.

buddons42 (Detroit): In a 10 team mixed league I've got great depth at scarce positions with V-Mart and Russell Martin at C and Tulo and Stephen Drew at SS but a few nagging holes in the pitching staff. I can only play 1 utiliity guy so if everyone's healthy at least one of those 4 is on the bench every week. Should I think about trading 1 of them to upgrade my 2 start starter/flavor of the week at SP and Hope-this-guy-vultures-a-save-or-2 at RP, or hold on to my depth and enjoy being able to survive injuries to key positions?

Marc Normandin: It's a 10-team mixed, so you should be aggressive. It's not like you will run out of options to pick up, and you don't want to burn innings you could be using because of injuries.

stately (atl): so what you're saying is, dice-k is not a good fantasy player, but will probably net some wins for the red sox, which is what really matters?

Marc Normandin: I would use Dice-K in an AL-only roto league, but you couldn't pay me to roster him in a head-to-head format. So, yes. He can do his job and earn his check in Boston, but in the world of fantasy, he's a headache.

Bill Simmons (LA): Who's going to win tonight, the Habs or Bruins?

Marc Normandin: I'm not a hockey guy, but, because I know it's important to my friends who do love the Bruins, I'm hoping they pull out the series win. You know, for once.

PaperBagonmyHead (Nowhere): I have the Kila monster creating a great big hole in my fantasy lineup at 1B. It's a 20 team league, so there aren't a whole lot of pretty options out there, but should I just cut and run?

Marc Normandin: I'm sticking with him in a 14-team (albeit on my bench), so if you lack any attractive options, you may as well stash him until he picks it up rather than dump him. Because you know someone else will snatch him up if there are no options already.

Madison (Ditto): Thanks for the chat as always Marc. 10 team mixed league, standard roto. Picked up Wieters off waivers to go with Chooch. Their stats are darn near identical right now, but Wieters is the better play long term... right?

Marc Normandin: Wieters should be the better long-term play, assuming you mean after 2011. PECOTA still likes Wieters, but PECOTA has always liked Wieters more than me.

Charles Darwin (San Fran): Will Koji Uehara ever become a reliable source of saves now that he is the favorite? ALso, what are your thoughts on Edwin Jackson?

Marc Normandin: As Mike Petriello has said, as long as Uehera is healthy, he should be great in the role. I'm a big fan of Koji--I drafted him in a few leagues with the expectation the job would eventually be his.

As for Jackson, I have an article in the works looking at him and how he is changed (if at all) since coming to Chicago.

jm010e (Vegas): NL only, 12 team 5x5. I stumbled into shockingly good depth at 2b (which is scarce as heck): Bill Hall, Darwin Barney (bench), Freddy Sanchez, Willie Bloomquist. Who should start, who are trade bait?

Marc Normandin: I would move Bloomquist, for sure--depending on him to keep it up is a bet I wouldn't want to make, and one you don't have to make, given your depth there. Barney probably won't bring back much in a deal, whether he is good or not, so dangling one of the other two to see what you can get would be the right play.

Dennis (LA): Thank you for answering my earlier question. Who do you like better over the next few years in a fantasy league that counts OBP: Freddie Freeman or Brandon Belt?

Marc Normandin: Brandon Belt. His start to 2011 wasn't great, but it's just a few weeks, and he is young. I actually wrote a piece talking about the two a few weeks ago, and I came down on Belt's side.

GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): As you work on your Edwin Jackson article, consider the possibility he is the new Javy Vazquez. Both are maddening pitchers with excellent stuff who seem to dominate until one bad inning lays waste to everything.

Marc Normandin: Who else fits this bill that you folks can think of?

NightmareRec0n (Boston): Will Carlos Pena be making a comeback from his thumb injury soon? Batting .182 with 5 RBI's isn't exactly helping my team.Any suggestions for a commonly available fill-in at 1st for the time being?

Marc Normandin: Michael Street just wrote about a few today for Value Picks. Todd Helton, Kila, LaPorta, and others all seem to be available in most mixed league formats.

stately (atl): edwin, vazquez, zambrano, volquez. they're like bad poker players. they give up a run or two, some unlucky hits, and go "on tilt."

Marc Normandin: Also have votes in for Nolasco, Burnett, and Carmona.

J (Chicago): Marc, when do you think Ian Stewart will get his job back in Colorado. Seems like he's just getting his spring training now after the injury. Do you see him being productive this year?

Marc Normandin: It shouldn't be too long. Jose Lopez is hitting all of .161/.190/.286 after posting a 609 OPS in 2010, so it's not like he has anyone excellent blocking him once he's ready.

Dennis (LA): In your experience playing in fantasy baseball auction leagues, do you usually find the best bargains early in the auctions or later? Do you like to be aggressive early and get players or do you like to wait while others spend their money?

Marc Normandin: I like to start out aggressive to ensure I get a few impact players, but then I sit back and let others spend, generally. I'll step in to grab certain bargains if I think the price is too good to pass up, and I still bid on players, whether I want them or not. There are a lot of bargains towards the last 1/3 of most auctions I've been in, so having a few bucks to throw around on those players is worth the wait.

Travis Snider (Texas): How many more AB's do you need to see before you can declare me a bust?

Marc Normandin: Well, you're in your age-23 season, so there is reason to be patient. The results have been disappointing thus far, but, like with Cameron Maybin, I'm willing to be patient given you spent years that probably could have/should have been played in the minors in the majors instead.

jhardman (Apex - The Peak of Good Living): With Neftali Feliz hurt and the Rangers' bullpen in supposed shambles, would it be a good time to take a flier on Cody Eppley?

Marc Normandin: I get the sense Texas will deal with Arthur Rhodes in the role in the short-term, but keeping an eye on Eppley is probably in your best interests in AL-only leagues.

Bobby (By my TV): Is the Nintendo Wii 2 worth a look or should I just wait for the Xbox 720 and PS4 in 2013/2014?

Marc Normandin: The new Nintendo console will be out two years before whatever Sony and Microsoft's new systems are, so there is no reason to sit and wait for the other ones. Of course, we don't know what the new system is even going to do, so it's a little early to talk about any of this.

cbelford (Chicago): Hi Marc, thanks for the chat. I'm wondering if I should trade Prince + Dexter Fowler for Mariano Rivera + Mike Stanton? My current closers are Joe Nathan (yikes) and Brian Wilson. Along with Prince, I have Votto + A-Roid at the corners...in a H2H points league...Thanks

Marc Normandin: So, you're not using Prince at all?

WisconsinRob (Madison): Marc, any non-sports, non FPS games for the 360 I should keep an eye on this summer. Also, welcome, thanks for the chat. How bout that Daisuke?

Marc Normandin: I haven't paid much attention to the release lineup for the 360 this summer, mostly because A) the summer is slow to begin with and B) the 3DS has been keeping my attention lately. I'll probably have an answer for you by the next time I do this, though!

Tony (Albuquerque): I have Jay Bruce and Nelson Cruz, both just kind of disappointing so far. How much should i readjust what i'm expecting from them?

Marc Normandin: We're not even out of April yet. Without injury, reassessing much of anything is premature, especially for players you expect to be great.

My go-to example for this now is David Ortiz in 2010. He had a 524 OPS in April of 2010, and finished at .270/.370/.529 with an 899 OPS.

Sam (Missouri): Given what appears to be Gold Glove calibur/two-win defense, just how miserable can Alcides Escobar be with the bat to be an average starter? Above average?

Marc Normandin: The league-average shortstop had a .255 TAv last year, which translates to a line of .260/.319/.372. That gives him a lot of leeway to stink it up at the plate and still be average, assuming his defense is as good as you stated.

Josh (Texas): Any good comps for Mitch Moreland? Or, if you dont like comps, what are his upside numbers?

Marc Normandin: I like his bat to be league average at first base, which is just about where he has been over his 239 plate appearances in the majors. He's off to a hot start in 2011, that's for sure. His 90th percentile projection might be a little low (that has him as basically average at first).

Guancous (Silver Spring, MD): Who would you rather have in 2012: Orlando Cabrera or Jason Kipnis?

Marc Normandin: Kipnis, for sure. He hit well in Double-A last year, and is in Triple-A for the first time this season. Cabrera doesn't have much left, if anything. I would probably rather have Kipnis as soon as possible.

Jeff (Bay Area): Who do you think will be the starting 1B for the Padres by the all star break?

Marc Normandin: Kyle Blanks or Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo has a 1255 OPS to start the year at Triple-A, so maybe by the time the All-Star break comes around they will decide to call him up. The Pads still think Blanks can play the outfield, and I still have faith in his bat to come back.

Lightning round time, folks.

PS3 Newbie (Milwa): I bought PS3 this weekend and I still can't watch MLB.tv b/c the network is down!!! Ugh!

Marc Normandin: I prefer watching MLB.tv on my PS3 over computers, so the PSN being down has been a total pain. Let's go, Sony!

cbelford (chicago): Prince at 1B, A-Roid at 3B, Votto at CI. I also have Smoak and P Alvarez (DH) on roster.

Marc Normandin: I'm a huge Stanton fan, and either Alvarez or Smoak, while not as good as Prince, should be able to fill the void a bit. It doesn't seem like either of you lose this deal.

stately (atl): do you have a brilliant solution to my SS problem? in my NL-only league, i'm starting bartlett. tejada, betancourt, valdez, barmes...the list of available replacements reads like the caller id at a suicide hotline. what should i do? is darwin barney actually any good?

Marc Normandin: Might as well take a flyer on Barney. I have Betancourt in an NL-only, but only because the league doesn't use OBP.

Tony (Albuquerque): Has Kila been freed long enough?

Marc Normandin: I'm willing to give him some time. He hit well to finish last year, and we're just a few weeks in.

SnakeDoctor18 (NY): Hey Marc, do you expect Crawford and Car-go to bounce back completely and live up to their 5-star ranking?

Marc Normandin: Absolutely. Not even out of April, everyone!

Marc Normandin: Alright everyone, sorry for the slow start, but I'll be back again this season. Good luck to all your teams until then, unless they are facing one of my own.


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