Join TA-man Colonel Ben Lindbergh for a cheery autumn chat.
Ben Lindbergh: Hi folks, happy Wednesday. Let's get rolling here.
BillJ (New Mexico): The Cardinals were generally pilloried for the Rasmus trade, but fact is, Raz hasn't exactly prospered in Toronto so far -- to put it mildly. I know, SSS and all, but might the Cardinals have known something about his prospects that the rest of us don't? Has your opinion of the trade changed at all? (Bonus Q: who made the best and the dumbest deadline deals, now that we've had six weeks to see how they've worked?)
Ben Lindbergh: Bill, you took "small sample size" out of my mouth--I don't think we can read much into the 92 plate appearances Rasmus has had since becoming a Canadian resident. I absolutely think the Cardinals might have known something no one else did, which is something I and other writers noted at the time the deal went down. You could have said the same about the Braves and Yunel Escobar last season, though, and that's worked out pretty well for Toronto. I don't think whatever problems Rasmus experienced in St. Louis were serious enough to prevent him from being an asset on the field.
As for your second question, it's interesting how quickly the perception of the Carlos Beltran trade to the Giants changed. I wouldn't call them dumb for making that deal, based on what they knew at the time (which is the only standard we can fairly apply), but with Beltran breaking down, Wheeler rolling to the end of the season, and San Francisco falling out of the race, you'd have to think Brian Sabean is already regretting that one, if Brian Sabean is capable of lamenting the acquisition of a veteran.
Fruitbat (New York): Hiya Ben, long time no chat. Do you think the Orioles can annoy the Red Sox enough for the Rays to sneak into the playoffs?
Ben Lindbergh: It would be pretty to think so, but I don't see it happening, even given the diminished state of the Red Sox rotation and the awe-inspiring power of Matt Moore. Have the Orioles ever annoyed the Red Sox before? It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that they could make things interesting, and the shrinking of the margins has made the last couple weeks a lot easier to watch, but in the end I expect that those rooting for an upset will be disappointed.
Kyle (St louis): Oscar Tavaras had a great season, but many experts think he's more of a flash in the pan. Your opinion?
Ben Lindbergh: I was just looking at his Midwest League line the other day--"video game numbers" doesn't begin to describe them. I haven't been to Davenport, Iowa lately (with apologies to Colin Wyers), so I haven't seen him play, but Kevin assures me that he can really hit.
bb10kbb10k (Erie, PA): Everyone in the world expected Alex Gordon to cool down after his hot start. What is everyone expecting now that he's kept it up? Is this is a career season popping up early, or a sign of his finally meeting expectations?
Ben Lindbergh: It may be hard to believe, but Gordon is 27 years old, so if this is a career season, it's not popping up particularly early. I like his chances to retain a good chunk of his gains going forward--I don't think this is a case of a player about to pumpkin when the clock strikes 12 on this season. His prospect pedigree and the fact that he was an above-average big leaguer at age 24 should both increase our confidence that we're seeing something real (and man, could the Royals use something real).
LCBF (Philippines): Xander Bogaerts, any plus tools besides power ?
Ben Lindbergh: Probably not--according to Kevin, who's a very useful person to know when receiving chat questions on 18-year-olds in the Sally League, he's definitely not a shortstop--but that kind of power at that kind of age is always intriguing.
Benny (Too Far): You're Dayton Moore, you see your young hitters coming along pretty nicely and that gives you nice warm feeling when you go to bed at night. But your pitching prospects have essentially taken a few steps backwards and that gives you night tremors. What would you do so you sleep better at night? Trades? FA signings?
Ben Lindbergh: The latter, probably. The question is whether that should give Royals fans warm feelings when they go to bed at night. As good as Moore's track record is starting to look when it comes to amateurs, he still hasn't shown that he's not out of his depth when he dips into the free-agent market.
dianagram (NYC): What on earth do the White Sox do with Adam Dunn for the next 3 years?
What on earth do the Yankees do with AJ Burnett for the next 2 years?
What on earth do the Giants do with Barry Zito for the next 2 years?
Ben Lindbergh: The Sox have to give Dunn another shot next season, both out of deference to his consistency in the past and to see whether he magically regained his talent over the offseason as quickly as he magically lost it over the last one. With those other two, though, we're getting pretty close to sunk cost time.
Trey (Frisco TX): Both small in stature, large in talent. Who do you like more? Martin Perez pitching at the Ballpark in Arlington or Robbie Erlin pitching at Petco?
Ben Lindbergh: Perez is probably still the better pitcher, though his prospect luster is a little less, well, lustrous these days than it has been in the past. From an un-park-adjusted perspective, though (read: fantasy), I like Erlin better. A talented flyball guy pitching in the park that made Aaron Harang fantasy-relevant again? Yes, please.
BillJ (New Mexico): Thanks for the long response; now a much shorter follow-up. Who do the Cardinals keep for 2012 from the swag they got for Raz? More specifically, do they try to re-up Edwin Jackson?
Ben Lindbergh: Dotel has been good for them, so I could see them exercising his option for $3.5 million, and Rzepczynski/Scrabble is under team control. You'd hope the .167/.184/.250 line Corey Patterson has put up since the trade would convince the Cards not to keep him. As for Edwin Jackson, it would be nice if he could finally find a home with a nice family that doesn't care that his performance doesn't always match his potential. He's 27 and he's pitched decently in St. Louis, so I can imagine that happening. If Kyle Lohse can get a four-year deal...
Benny (Too Far): How long till the Matt Holliday contract with the Cardinals starts entering the same discussion as Zito's and Dunn's?
Ben Lindbergh: Given that Holliday has already had two excellent seasons in St. Louis, I think he's already played his way out of Zito/Dunn territory. The contract only runs through his age-36 season, Holliday keeps himself in excellent shape, and he hasn't yet showed any signs of decline (which both Zito and, to a much lesser extent, Dunn both had even before they signed their contracts), so this could be the rare long-term deal that doesn't lead to too much grief for the team that dispensed it. The last couple years could still be an overpay at $17 million, but I don't see this one ever entering the same discussion.
Matt (Chicago): Does it make sense for the Cubs to move Sean Marshall into the rotation next yr, given their SP woes and lack of a pitching pipeline?
Ben Lindbergh: It usually makes sense to move any reliever who's capable of starting into the rotation, barring a real embarrassment of wealth. Marshall's stuff has really played up in the pen, though, so in his case, another switch might not be the best idea. Marshall has already been a starter, so we can see how that went--in about 225 innings in the rotation in 2006-2007, he was worth about half a win. In roughly half that number of innings over the past two seasons in the bullpen, he's been worth four wins. Unless you think his shiny new strikeout rate is something that would actually survive a move back out of the bullpen, it probably makes sense to leave him be and look elsewhere (Andrew Cashner to the rescue!). Cue Ray Davies singing "This is Where I Belong."
Matt (Chicago): How does Ricketts/new Cub GM balance the demand for at least a nominal competitor with the need for some sort of "rebuilding"?
Ben Lindbergh: Do we know that there's definitely a demand for a nominal competitor? Fielding nominal competitors hasn't gotten the Cubs anywhere but fifth place lately. Cubs fans are both A) supportive during down times for the team, and B) desperate to win a World Series, so I don't think they'd necessarily abandon ship if they felt like the new GM had a workable plan in place. The challenge for that prospective new GM will be selling his would-be boss on being the tortoise for a few years, since owners (like the rest of us) enjoy instant gratification.
Jake (Kalamazoo): Is anyone still holding out hope for Gordon Beckham at this point? I was expecting something between an above average regular and a star at 2B.
Ben Lindbergh: Wherever there's a 24-year-old who was once rated the 20th-best prospect by Baseball America, there's also someone who's still holding out hope for him. You don't see a lot of players who put up three wins in 100 games at age 22 and then fall of the face of the earth, so I think it's still possible to be a Beckham believer without being deluded. Remember that .310/.380/.497 second half he had last season? It's not out of the question that he still has a season that looks something like that in him.
Ben Lindbergh: Folks, I've answered all of your questions (yes, all of them, even the ones you didn't submit) and I'm needed elsewhere, so I'm going to call a fairly early halt to these proceedings. As always, thanks for devoting some portion of your mid-day internet time-wasting to Baseball Prospectus.