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Chat: Ken Funck

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday August 24, 2011 1:00 PM ET chat session with Ken Funck.

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Join BPer Ken Funck for baseball fun in the CT!

Ken Funck: Howdy all. Since I last chatted with you, my daughter turned 13, making me the father of two teenagers -- so please, no shouting. I'm up for talking baseball or any other pleasurable (or unpleasurable) pursuit, so don't be shy. Tunes are on, mug is in hand, and the crickets and rust-beetles are scuttling among the nettles of the sage thicket, so let's ride this thing into the friscalating dusklight.

Help My Shoulder Fell Off (Baseball Triage ): How many pitchers have long and effective careers after TJ surgery? Seems like a lot of young guys went down in the past year or so (Strasburg, Anderson, Wainwright, Chamberlain). Does a surgery like this effect their perspective ceilings upon return?

Ken Funck: I don't have a study in front of me to cite, so I'll happily stroll along the precipice of conjecture and anecdotal evidence and say "lots". When you look at a list of TJ patients, you certainly see guys that have gone on to long and effective careers. Some that wash out post-surgery might have lost their careers to the injury; others just may not have been good enough pitchers to consistently retire the best hitters in the world. I expect young guys like Strasburg and Anderson to come back as strong as ever; for older players like Wainwright, they've lost 18
months of their peak, which is hard to recoup. If there's any sort of a pattern, there seem to be a lot of examples of post-TJ starters becoming dominant arms in the bullpen.

adambennett (Spring Green): Have you been to the Arcadia Bookstore in Spring Green yet?

Ken Funck: No I havenít, though Iíve heard good things. Havenít made it out to APT this summer either, making this one of the few years I havenít been able to make a single trek up the hill. Partially very busy with work and family, partially a long vacation out west that kept me out of the state in July. Is Arcadia worth checking out?

Tom (Madison): What would you do with the A's? Trevor Cahill has been terrible for the past few months. Brett Anderson is likely out for most of next season. Kurt Suzuki has regressed badly at the plate. Their free agent acquisitions didn't help them contend this season and they didn't deal them at the deadline, so there's no space to let prospects audition. Then again, their prospects (Chris Carter, Michael Taylor, Adrian Cardenas, Michael Choice, and Grant Green) all have some major flaws.

Ken Funck: Besides moving to a new stadium somewhere? Hereís what Beane said in Tyler Kepnerís piece yesterday: ďSometimes, youíre relegated to buying that lottery ticket. Anybody will tell you that the lottery is not a great way to invest your money. But sometimes, you donít have a lot of options.Ē Post-Moneyball Beane sounds more and more like post-Super-System Doyle Brunson every day. My advice, though, would be to find a bopper somewhere, since thereís no one in the system ready to hit in the middle of the order. Cahill, McCarthy and Gonzalez should be good enough to make you competitive even with Anderson hurt. Sign Willingham to a reasonable 2-year deal if you can, but donít go longer than that. Cross your fingers that Jemile Weeks and Brandon Allen can be building blocks. But mostly, find a bopper. Crazy thought: find out how much of Adam Dunnís contract Kenny Williams would be willing to eat.

this offseason.

Steve A (Detroit): What was your favorite beer at the Great Taste of the Midwest festival? Who was your favorite brewery? How much do you actually remember from it?

Ken Funck: Oh, I remember all of it Ė we were sampling, not swilling, and weíd seek out session beers to balance out the high ABV beers. And much like the political protests here this spring, itís amazing how orderly and polite 6,000 midwesterners can be after five hours of drinking beer in the sunshine. Lots of favorites; if I had to pick one, Iíd go with Surly Darkness Russian Imperial Stout, which was everything youíd want in an imperial. Most everything from Surly was very good, so Iíd have to give them my vote for MVB Ė though it pains me to shower such praise on a Minnesota brewery at a Wisconsin beer fest. That being said, there were many, many excellent beers and breweries there.

Noah (ATL): What do you think of braves SS Tyler Pastornicky?

Ken Funck: Sorry ... momentary technical glitch.

He's hitting a ton of singles in AAA, which is way better than making a ton of outs. It sounds like the Braves will be giving him a look next spring, and it's possible they'll have so much fun saying his name (go ahead, say it out loud right now -- isn't that enjoyable?) they won't be able to resist giving him the job. His ceiling is strictly Hippocratic in nature -- he won't make so many outs that he'll kill you, but he isn't going to save you, either.

Braves Bullpen (DominationLand): Kimbrel, Venters, O'Flaherty. Best since the Nasty Boys? Or Wetteland/Rivera? Or what?

Ken Funck: Can't say where they fit historically -- but I will say they're massively fun to watch. Kimbrel punching out Colvin last night was sort of like watching Joe Louis punching out Shirley Temple.

Aramis Ramirez (Obscurity): If a player puts on a salary drive and nobody cares enough about their team to notice, does it still net them a better contract next year?

Ken Funck: I noticed, Ram -- so there's that. You still have value -- not $16 million worth, but your bat and ability to still play at the hot corner make you an an asset. I'd love to still see you on the northside next year, but who knows? If I continue to say nice things about you, will you sign for $5 million?

My Deck Chair Got Knocked Over (Virginia): So who are you pulling for in the NL West? Can the D'backs hold on?

Ken Funck: When I doubt, I go with the pitching, so I'm thinking the Giants pull this out. So do our playoff odds, btw. They need to let Brandon Belt play every day, however. Combine that with Beltran coming back (hopefully without too many lingering effects) and I think they'll score just enough runs to make it. Unless the Rockies go on their traditional September drive -- a possibility I'm not willing to write off. Wandy would help ... heck, any pitching would help.

Rob (Alaska): With all the hullaballoo over Logan Morrison recently, what are we to make of his odd development pattern thus far? Last year he showed impressive contact and on-base skills with little power other than of the doubles variety. This year he seems to be selling out contact for over-the-fence power. With a profile like that, what kind of player would you expect going forward? Is this someone still putting it together or do you tend to take recent data over early data to form impressions going forward?

Ken Funck: I think it's the former -- he's got, what, 600 major league at-bats? He's going to be fine, and I expect his on-base skills to return while seeing him retain significant power. He'll hold up his half the "Patience and Power" corner outfield until the Marlins trade him for one-fifth of what he's worth in a few years.

0.9er (The Internet): So ... what are you drinking?

Ken Funck: Chai. Specifically, Oregon Chai Tea Latte Concentrate. Okay, more specifically, it's no longer concentrated, it's mixed with Soy Silk Creamer. Too much caffeine is bad for me, not enough caffeine is almost fatal for me, so replacing coffee with tea or chai works.

Geo (KC): I thought chai had caffeine??? Have I been misinformed?

Ken Funck: You may have been misinformed, but not about chai. Chai does have caffeine, just nowhere near as much as coffee. Caffeine can give me migraines; however, a complete lack of caffeine makes me go through Renton-like withdrawal symptoms, so I needs me SOME caffeine. Chai is the compromise.

Rico (The Commonwealth): Please tell me Shane Victorino gets your vote for NL MVP.

Ken Funck: I could tell you that if you need me to, but I'd be lying. Two reasons: (1) I don't get a vote; (2) if I did have a vote, I'd use it on Ryan Braun. The tie-breaker for me has always been Stolen Base Success Rate, and Braun's 87.5% blows all the other candidates out of the water.

Beau (San Francisco ): Breaking news: the Giants claim Heath Bell off waivers. Wilson may be more injured than we know.

Ken Funck: That's awesome! Not that Wilson may be hurt enough that he needs a rest-of-season replacement, but I love it when teams do whatever they can to get better down the stretch. Even if Wilson is okay, another arm in the bullpen can't do anything but help if the price isn't too steep.

Rambling Man (Channel Surfing): Ok, after watching the braves dispatch the cubs last night I flipped on encore where they were playing a movie called 2012 about the whole end of the world thing. Lots of nice special effects, and John Cusack! Amanda Peet! Plus another movie where Woody Harrelson just acts like a lunatic. I mean what's not to like? So it got me thinking, is there a specific date in 2012 that this is supposed to happen? Shouldn't more teams be like the brewers and going all in this year, just on the off chance those mayans knew something? Or is it after October next year that things end? Did I miss the opening scene where the cubs winning the world series sets this off?

Ken Funck: Never saw 2012, but my son did and he gave it a slightly supportive shrug. Professor Parks would ding it for it's complete absence of Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna (who was awesome as Vincent Bugliosi in my favorite made-for-tv-miniseries-that-plays-on-cable-now-as-a-movie, "And The Sea Will Tell"), but that's neither here nor there. I ding it for it's complete absence of Lee J. Cobb and Alan Arkin, despite the presence of Cusack, who's a personal fave having grown up in Chicago around the same time I did.

But that's not what you're asking about. If GMs went all-in thinking that this is the last MLB season ever, that would be pretty silly -- however, it wouldn't be anywhere near the silliest decisions I've seen a GM make.

Bobby (Las Vegas): Have we reached the point where we can delcare Bautista's performance is no longer a fluke?

Ken Funck: To misquote Mother Superior, "That point was reached and breached long ago." I read something somewhere about his post-ASB "slowdown", with only 5 home runs. Well, that's a .257/.421/.475 "slowdown" we're talking about. He's not Barry Bonds, he's probably not the best hitter in baseball the next few years, but to call him a fluke is absolutely, positively, and in all other ways inconceivable.

Rob (Alaska): Thanks for answering my LoMo question! To continue my (natural) obsession with the South Florida teams....I realize it's SSS but Desmond Jennings looks like he's prepared to execute a pretty nice impression of Andrew McCutchen if not Carl Crawford. Thoughts?

Ken Funck: Thanks for asking your LoMo question! Lets hope he doesn't execute a nice impression of Carl Crawford v.2011 -- but I'm not convinced he's a future superstar, which is what Carl Crawford v.2010 was and Andrew McCutchen v.2012 will be. Jennings is only a few weeks younger than McCutchen, after all, and McCutchen is already a 4-5 win player. Maybe the pertinent question is, will Jennings have a better career than Bossman Junior?

Rob (Alaska): I don't know if this is on the table, but would the Rox taking on the whole Wandy Rodriguez contract be a bad decision for them? It doesn't look THAT out of the line with the marketplace and I assume the Rox will be trying to contend in 12.

Ken Funck: I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but I agree with you. (That didn't come out right -- agreeing with you, Rob, isn't something I've always considered inconceivable. Valuing Wandy Rodriguez that much is). They need pitching, he provides pitching, and with their offense in an underwhelming division, there's no reasons they shouldn't make a push this year AND next year.

Bill Simmons (LA): Thoughts on grantland.com so far?

Ken Funck: The writers there are very good at their craft, which to me is the most important thing. Whether or not you agree with what they're saying, or agree with their choice of topics, they're always worth a read. A great addition to everyone's daily browse.

dtwhite (Toronto): With d'Arnaud having a great season at AA, what should the Blue Jays do about their catching situation? Could he net a good return this winter, or is the better play trying to move Arencibia?

Ken Funck: I wouldn't get too far ahead of myself. Keep them both and let d'Arnaud show you he can produce in the majors before you make a move. d'Arnaud will have even more value then compared to now if he's the one you choose to move. It's a good problem to have, unless you're a copy editor.

Ask me again after Anthopolous trades one of them, though, and I'll probably nod along and say he was right -- whether it's sooner or later. He's a guy I'm hard-pressed to second guess at this point.

Ken Funck: And with that, it's time for me to ride off into the aforementioned friscilating dusklight. Thanks for stopping by, and even more thanks for your continued support of the big bad Prospectus, whether here, on the Podcast, on Sirius/XM, on Twitter, and anywhere else there's a crying need for the use of light as a disinfectant. Excelsior!


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