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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday October 26, 2004 2:30 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.

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Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Joe Sheehan: 11:27...right on time. Wait...this isn't a Fox production? (Sorry, folks...let's play catch-up on these great questions.)

Thomas Sahs (San Diego, CA): Did the Padres do any good by trading Oliver Perez and Jason Bay for Brian Giles? I'd rather have Perez and Bay back... Wouldn't you?

Joe Sheehan: The strong seasons by Bay and Perez, and Giles' off year (Petco made it look worse) have caused some consternation. I think it was a good gamble for a team that had a real chance to win this year. Perez came faster, and stayed healthier, than could have been expected.

The Padres didn't fall short this year because of that deal.

pjvent (Washington, DC): Joe: Give me a five point plan for the Yankees offseason...

Joe Sheehan:
1-4. Get Chuck LaMar very drunk.

5. Trade Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams to Tampa Bay for Carl Crawford.

The Yankees can't fix what ails them in the offseason. They have unmovable contracts and no farm system. They need time and about three good drafts. They'll spend money, probably getting Carlos Beltran, maybe a Carl Pavano, but they're running up against what their roster can hold, if not necessarily what they can afford.

If the Yankees don't find a way to improve spots 15-25 on the roster, next year could end in a similar fashion.

mbrittain (alabama): IM kinda new at all this VORP and PECOTA, i know what they mean. I'm just curious about the formulas to come up with this. What i'm asking is if you could tell me or where i could find, thanks.

Joe Sheehan: Glad to have a new reader in the room. You should definitely check out the Baseball Prospectus Basics series here:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/about/

As well as the glossary of stat definitions here:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php

John (Chicago): Joe Mauer -- is he going to be one of the great ones? What position do you see him at in five years?

Joe Sheehan: I think he'll end up at first base, maybe right field. Third base is probably going to be the first move he makes, but I don't know if he'll be too big for it.

I'd skip 3B and move him right to the outfield. He won't become a Hall of Famer, but he'll be an All-Star a few times, comparable to...oh, maybe Brian Giles at his peak.

Greg (Cincinnati): What do you think of the Reds trying Austin Kearns at 3B?

Joe Sheehan: Every 15 years, someone has to try this. It won't work. It's much more likely that Kearns will be trading for a package of pitchers.

The Reds' dissatisfaction with Edwin Encarnacion is very disappointing. He's the guy who should be at third next year.

pjfsks (morristown nj): There was a lot of interest in Mike Cameron when he was a free agent. Do you think the Mets should trade him and make a run at Beltran? I suppose Steinbrenner would pay any price to prevent that, so if not Beltran, please give me two moves the Mets should make. P.S. - firing Jeff Wilpon doesn't count; I can figure that one out myself.

Joe Sheehan: Simply because of money, I can't see the Mets signing Beltran. I have to figure Steinbrenner would overbid to keep him from going to Queens, and that's even if the Mets were to get involved. They've had a strong recent history of not signing the best free agents, and not being entirely honest about their motivations for doing so.

I think the Mets should forget '05, trade Floyd and Glavine for what they can get, hope to do the same with the 10-and-5 guys, and try to win 100 games a year from '06-'09.

I think I said that after last year, too.

Mark (CT): Joe, Some second guessing here: why wouldn't Joe Torre start Mussina/Lieber in games 4/5, on regular rest, rather than in games 5/6? They didn't throw that many pitches in their previous starts (95,82), he would have more options in a potential game 7, and he would be in a position to benefit from a rainout.

Joe Sheehan: Because when you're up 3-0, you're happy to get your guys that extra day of rest.

Come on, folks...a hit here, a play there, and we're not questioning this stuff. Torre made a lot of mistakes in the ALCS, but starting his #4 guy up 3-0 in the series wasn't one of them.

kprince (Boston): Joe- Great writing. How do you think potential WS victory (or defeat) would affect Theo's decisions on big 4 free agents. Also do you agree with Theo as GM of the year? TIA. kprince

Joe Sheehan: Theo Epstein knows his stuff, and while I disagreed with the big trade, and would likely reach the same conclusions again, it's clear that things have worked well, that he built a very good team. GM of the Year? I guess...I think Bill Stoneman and Walt Jocketty have cases.

One of the traps successful teams fall into is attributing too much value to the players they won with. I honestly think Theo knows this, knows that two more wins don't actually change the analysis of what Martinez, Varitek, et al will bring to the table over the life of their next deals.

Mike (Hershey, PA): Joe, in your last chat, you believed Curt Schilling wasn't worthy of the Hall of Fame. Since then, he has ended the Yankees dynasty, twice, and is on the verge of helping to eliminate the "curse." Have you changed your thinking at all since then? Thanks, Mike.

Joe Sheehan: I've now gotten this question in about four different places.

Schilling's career performance is still not Hall of Fame-caliber. He's had a very fragmented career, and his overall line is well short of HoF status. The Hall won't let Bert Blyleven in, and Schilling is no Blyleven.

Schilling needs at least another two seasons at his current level, and some bulk numbers after that. Just barely 200 wins is going to be a hard sell for someone with no identifiable peak and no Cy Young Awards.

What works in his favor is that if he becomes a marginal candidate, he'll have the soft markers--the WS MVP, the 2004 story--that will give people a reason to vote for him. That stuff counts, and should count, in Hall of Fame balloting; it just has to be included with a real H0F resume. Schilling isn't there yet.

Lemmy (Motorhead Village): Does the media make too much of the importance of fielding errors? It seems to me that E's make a big impression on people, but are they really so much worse than the hundreds of other failings that happen in every game? What's the BP perspective?

Joe Sheehan: Plays not made are plays not made, whether the fielder boots a ball or doesn't have the range to get the chance to boot the ball. The difference between an error and a single is virtually nil, and the focus on errors while not noticing the hits that get by poor fielders is a big problem with defensive evaluation.

The tide is turning, albeit slowly.

shamah (DC): Jayson Stark in his column today, says that the wild card debate is over: it's unequivocally good for baseball. Any reactions?

Joe Sheehan: It's kind of related to the last answer. We see the wild-card race, in the same way that we see the error.

What we don't see is the cost of never having two great teams battle for a division title, in the same way that we don't see a single as a defensive failure.

I've about given up on convincing anyone of this, but I think it's a shame that we'll never have another 1993, or 1987, or 1978...

jd (DC): Will there ever be any end to the chorus from the mainstream media that the Yankees lost because they lost all their character guys from the late 90s? The storyline deifying St. Derek of the Unnecessary Sacrifice at the expense of Alex the Heartless Merecenary Choker reached absurdity with Harvey Araton's column in the NY TImes on Friday.

Joe Sheehan: I'm not entirely sure what's going on there. Rodriguez completely outplayed Jeter in the postseason, and somehow is the goat while Jeter is the hero.

It's just so far from reality that I can't process it. I also think that had another player so brazenly placed the blame elsewhere, as Jeter did in some of the quotes I read, he would have been keelhauled.

One of the big reasons the Yankees aren't still playing is that Jeter was never on base in the ALCS. He had the double off of Martinez, but on the whole, he was an offensive cipher. He had some terrible, giveaway ABs.

The whole thing is just weird...

Steve (NJ): Joe, Do you see a good trade partner for the Mets with Tom Glavine?

Joe Sheehan: The Yankees just went through a disappointing finish with a team that showed weak starting pitching and and had no left-handed starter. I have to think that if they just want to dump Glavine, Steinbrenner would be interested.

That said, the Yankees have very little of value to trade. I guess the Mets, having given away Justin Huber, would take Dioner Navarro.

It just occurred to me that Glavine may have a full or partial no-trade, so take the above with a grain of salt.

Cody C (Eugene, OR): What do you think about Mike Gonzalez, reliever for the Pittsburgh Pirates? I havnt heard anything about him but his line last year was Gagne-esque. 43 IP 2 HR 55 K 6 BB and only 26 years old. Is there a reason for so little chatter?

Joe Sheehan: I love the guy. I think he'll be Arthur Rhodes or Mike Stanton for a long time to come. (That's a compliment...check their careers, not their 2004 stats.)

No one talks about him because he's a middle reliever for a team that not only stinks, but has nothing interesting about it.

pmatthews (Wilmington, DE): At what salary level, in your opinion, would it make sense for Boston to bring back Pedro for two years, assuming Pedro would go for that? And does this Boston team have, across the roster, the absolute worst hair of any baseball pennant-winner?

Joe Sheehan: I'd gamble--and I mean that word--up to $12MM a year if I could get him to take two years, or two plus a vesting option. The problem is that having Martinez means managing Martinez. You can't just pencil him in for 35 starts and 240 innings. That should cost him money.

Hair? The 1970s A's will always own the category.

Rauseo (Boston): Joe - What will it take for Russell Branyan to find a role in MLB? He posted a pretty decent MLE's this year and played a solid hot corner in Buffalo. Assuming he finds a role, what team will it be with?

Joe Sheehan: It was strange to me that Branyan ended up with the Brewers. I would think Branyan's best chance would be with a performance-analysis-friendly team, one that doesn't care about the strikeouts.

Baseball teams still really hate strikeouts. Maybe that never goes away, but until it does, guys who whiff a lot will operate at a disadvantage.

The Red Sox might be a fit, with Mueller's contract expiring.

Walt (NY): Hey Joe-If the Sox win the WS, does this help or hurt the argument for the SABR approach by a front office? I'm afraid that all of the non-believers will point to the Sox payroll.

Joe Sheehan: I figure the story will be that "yeah, they tried it that way, but they didn't win until they got a real closer and some guys who could catch the ball."

That's a grain of truth not quite digested and buried in a pile of...

rudd48 (lexington, ky): Well, I guess Kenny Lofton wasn't dead after all. Did you ever figure out who kidnapped him, and if so, what has this guy done with John Mabry?

Joe Sheehan: I think it was Daniel Stern and Dan Aykroyd.

Anthony (Long Island): In light of Will Carroll's report on Curt Schilling today, what is your opinion of the rest of the Series?

Joe Sheehan: It pretty much all hinges on tonight, because I can't see the miracle happening twice in two weeks.

Give Francona some credit here. I didn't like the plan to basically flip Wakefield and Martinez, but he gambled that his offense would win him a game, and now he has a fresh-as-a-daisy ace pitching to put them up 3-0.

I think tonight is going to be a low-scoring game, maybe the last one of the series. As much as I want to see a long Series, I think Pedro Martinez makes himself some money tonight.

caernavon (Belmont, MA): Were the Cardinals 105 wins overrated, or are they just not playing very well at the moment?

Joe Sheehan: They're 7-6 against three of the best teams in baseball since the playoffs began. They lost two games on the road over the weekend to one of the best home teams in baseball.

It's a huge mistake to put too much emphasis on postseason results. This is how we determine a "champion," which is a great thing to be, but "champion" and "best" are distinctly different concepts.

namtrahj (St Louis): Joe-Why do you think that A-Rod or any player should get away with knocking the ball out of the opposing team's glove with their hands. That A-Rod play was one of the dirtiest play's I have ever seen and what made it worse was the fact that after he realized he got the safe call he starting clapping his hand like "look what I can get away with."

Joe Sheehan:
Calling what Rodriguez did "dirty" was a popular overreaction in the wake of the play. He broke the rule, one I'm pretty sure he didn't know, and was properly called out. He attempted to dislodge the ball from a fielder on a tag play, something we see in every single game.

Here's a thought experiment: if Derek Jeter had done the same thing, what would the coverage and the reaction have looked like?

Jay (Chicago): Joe-I don't know if you're privy to this info, but when FOX's deal with MLB finally runs out, does another network have plans to get back in the game? If you have no idea, please just say yes and make me feel better.

Joe Sheehan: Just noodling...I can't imagine that NBC, which has no team sports except Notre Dame football, wouldn't want to get back in the game. They claim that they're happy building around the Olympics and Notre Dame football and left turns, but I have to think that they'd be the most likely candidate to out-bid Fox.

Uncle Fud (Tennessee): What's the likely effect of having Ortiz in the field?

Joe Sheehan: A tiny increased chance of a ball getting into right field, and a tiny increased change of a baserunner reaching on an error. Kevin Millar isn't Gil Hodges.

DavidCrowe (Canada): OK now that the revolution has a firm hold in several MLB front offices what will it take to infiltrate the BWAA? What do you guys need to do to become members?

Joe Sheehan: I know that there are good people within the BBWAA who recognize that there is work being done outside of the newspaper and magazine industry by people who are professional and qualified.

Whether they choose to address that is entirely outside my purview. The BBWAA is a guild, and as such, can admit or bar anyone they please.

The real shame is that the one man who most qualifies for membership is no longer with us. Doug Pappas was a journalist by practice, if not profession, and would have been a natural first member from the online ranks.


stuey (new ytork): will edwin jackson and rick ankiel be in starting rotations this year

Joe Sheehan: Assuming both are healthy, yes. The Dodgers need starters badly, and will want to find inexpensive solutions where they can. Ankiel slots in for whichever Cards' starter(s) leave in the offseason.

Andy (Raleigh): Could the A's get anything of value for Zito (perhaps from a furious about his lack of lefties Steinbrenner), or has his perceived value dropped to the point that the best choice is hanging on to him for now?

Joe Sheehan: The "Cy Young Award winner" label goes a long way, so I think Zito has trade value. The biggest problem is that he also has a backloaded contract, making him very expensive in 2006.

Billy may have missed his window last winter, and be stuck with Zito, hoping he finds his form, in 2005.

Andy (Raleigh): Please asses the Hall of Fame chances of Pedro and Schilling based both on Boston winning and losing this World Series.

Joe Sheehan: I did Schilling earlier...Pedro Martinez is a first-ballot, inner-circle Hall of Famer. Solely by peak value, he might be the best pitcher of all time.

statham (Toronto): Hi Joe. Do you think Fox can come any closer to missing a pitch when coming back from commercial? Between this, the crowd/dugout shots after every pitch and the Zalasko factor I am begging, BEGGING for a new broadcast partner when the current deal ends.

Joe Sheehan: I can probably do a whole column on Fox...I get a dozen e-mails a day a lot like this question, blasting various aspects of their coverage. It's not just that they miss pitches coming out of commercial...they almost miss them coming out of crowd/close-up shots in the middle of an at-bat.

Maybe the most frustrating thing is that the one good thing they had this fall--Al Leiter--isn't in the booth for the Series. Boo.

Lighting round...

stuey (new york): who are nl sleeper closers in 05

Joe Sheehan: Joe Valentine (Reds), Mike Gonzalez (Pirates), Jose Capellan (Braves)...oh, let's have fun with one...A.J. Burnett (Marlins).

Not too late to go to Phoenix for the weekend, by the way...Baseball HQ's First Pitch Arizona lets you watch AFL games and pick the brains of people like John Sickels, Jim Callis and Ron Shandler.

Andy (Raleigh): Where do you think Derek Lowe ends up?

Joe Sheehan: Baltimore.

chris (California): Is Willie Randolph a good choice for the Mets?

Joe Sheehan: He's a great choice. Then again, he's been a great choice for the last 10 jobs that have opened up.

I really hope he gets that job.

ed (philadelphia): Where do pavano, millwood, pedro, and clement end up next year?

Joe Sheehan: Pavano: Yankees
Millwood: Tigers
Martinez: Angels
Clement: Dodgers

stuey (new york): what will montreal do with their crowded outfield? wilkerson, rivera, chavez and sledge are all too good to sit.

Joe Sheehan: Actually, only Wilkerson is a complete player, someone who should play every day. I think the other three can make a nice rotation, though, mixing and matching based on park and pitcher.

The Expos might be one of the worst teams ever next year, because it's hard to see how they get anything done this offseason.

I still say the Washington deal is far from set.

pjvent (Washington, DC): Give me Jason Giambi's line for next year...

Joe Sheehan: .275/.415/.495 in 480 PA.

pjvent (Washington, DC): Does Beltran go to the Yankees?

Joe Sheehan: They're the favorite...I'd say "yes."

Suraj (New York): What impact does Felix Hernandez, the prospect on the Mariners, have next season?

Joe Sheehan: That's a great park for breaking in new pitchers, and it will probably still be a good defensive team. I can see him with an ERA is the low 3.00s, and being rookie of the year. If I remember correctly, Derek Zumsteg thinks the world of him, and Derek knows more about the Mariners than anyone alive.

justingu (Los Angeles): Do you think Bellhorn comes back next year?

Joe Sheehan: I don't know. A week ago, I said he wouldn't, largely because he seemed to be the focus of the city's frustrations, and the Red Sox have shown some willingness to let public opinion move them.

Now, it seems like it will be more of a baseball decision.

I'll say "yes." They know he can play.

jim (broomall, pa): best player on the phillies?

Joe Sheehan: Bobby Abreu. This is a trick question, right?

Andy (Raleigh): Worst player defensively in MLB (everyday players division)?

Joe Sheehan: Oooh...great question.

I'll say Craig Biggio.

shamah (DC): What do see the A's doing this offseason? With Dye off the books, would they take a run at Beltran?

Joe Sheehan: They'd have to deal at least one of the big three to make that happen, and even then it's not likely. Remember, Schott wouldn't pay a million bucks for Jeff Kent, so I doubt he'll outbid the YES Network for Beltran.

shamah (DC): Red Sox starting infield next year?

Joe Sheehan: Ortiz, Bellhorn, Renteria, Glaus

Ted (Toronto): He won't, but should Danny Haren get a WS start in game 4? How about him ahead of Ankiel for '05?

Joe Sheehan: Jason Marquis is such a bad matchup against the Red Sox that I like the thinking, but I don't think La Russa can get there by tomorrow.

Next year? I'd say they're both in the rotation, cheap filler that subsidizes the expensive lineup.

stuey (new york): your pick for n.l. rookie of the year in 05

Joe Sheehan: Is Edwin Jackson still a rookie? If not him, then Josh Kroeger.

Joe Sheehan: Easily the most questions I've ever had, and I'm sorry I couldn't get to them all. Enjoy the rest of the Series, and I'll be back to do this next month!


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