Join BP's E-i-C for a rollicking chat session in the midst of the World Series.
Steven Goldman: Good afternoon, pilgrims. I hope you all have electricity and you're not reading this on some tiny cell phone screen, but if you are, I'm happy that I help you get to pass the time while your ice cream defrosts. Let's talk some baseball and whatever else is on your minds.
Chuck Norris (Looking for Goldman): This has gone on long enough Goldman! If you're not here on the 31st me and my beard are forming a search party and we're coming for you.
Steven Goldman: As I said during the seventh game of the World Series, I had to postpone this sucker a couple of times because my son was home sick. He's better now, so I'm here. And my beard can beat your beard any day.
JayT (San Francisco): Do you think that Pujols is more likely to leave St. Louis now that Tony La Russa has retired? Or do you think it doesn't change anything?
Steven Goldman: Money talks, but the Cardinals lose a tiebreaker in the unlikely event they and a competitor are close.
Andy (Chicago): Any chance the Cardinals could steal Joe Maddon from the Rays--and would it be a good fit? One year left on his deal, and he's an admitted Cardinals fan...
Steven Goldman: It seems like anything is possible this winter, and if the Cards are willing to trade Shelby Miller in compensation, perhaps the Rays would think about it--Maddon is signed through the end of next season. However, as creative as Maddon has been with the Rays, are we sure he's the right fit for the Cardinals? With the lineup aging, I'm not sure that this team's window is going to be open that much longer.
Dan (Ithaca): Hey Steve, please reassure me that the yanks wont do something stupid like decline swish's option and sign beltran? why not just keep the guy who is younger, healthier, and a very good player?
Steven Goldman: They did pick up Swish's option, but they can still trade him and sign Beltran if they are so inclined. I wrote about the difference between Swisher Beltran '11 at the Pinstriped Bible today--pretty much a bunch of singles, a few doubles, are all that separate them. See http://bit.ly/tieI57
Mo (st. louis): Yep, you guys were right, that Rasmus trade was a disaster (yes, I am pointing my championship ring finger at you Keith Law)
Steven Goldman: He doesn't work here anymore, hasn't for years. Personally, I liked the Rasmus trade and said it was what the Cards had to do at the time. R.J. Anderson was a little bit more critical in his take (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14641) because he saw the long-term damage the trade would do... Which isn't wrong given that you can't assume a championship as of July 27.
G-MOTA (Bumpus Midwest): Hi Mr. Goldman!!! Q: How did Joe Jackson throw a World Series with a .375 avg. and no errors? A: He made lackadaisical plays that allowed runners to advance; he saved the hits for when his team had a big lead; and he held up at third at times he possibly could have scored. I'm just putting this out there.
Steven Goldman: There's no doubt he was in on the fix, so what he specifically did is kind of irrelevant. The play by play suggests his crimes were committed on defense. I don't like the "saved the hits" idea because it suggests a batter can hit on demand.
Lloyd (Chicago): Since you've hired a Resident Fantasy Genius, why not hire a Resident Statistics Genius to write a regular series of articles and blog posts? I'm convinced that there are many of us who are keenly interested in sabermetrics that DO NOT understand advanced statistics (or even basic statistics, lol). It would be wonderful to get regular insights from someone who could explain statistical concepts and their applications as well as Corey Dawkins explains sports medicine and ITS applications. Corey never "dumbs down" his subjects, and I would hope that this author wouldn't either. Your thoughts?
Steven Goldman: It's a good idea, and we're always reviewing different content options so I appreciate the suggestion. We have done some of that kind of thing before--back in 2004 we did a series of "Basics" articles that were along the lines you suggest (http://bit.ly/tcsA87) and Baseball Between the Numbers was kind of one big book that tried to explain these concepts. We're working on the sequel to Between the Numbers right now (it will be out this spring) and I open the book with my version of sabermetrics 101. Since I'm the least math-savvy guy in the room, I'm either a great choice to explain these things to an unready world or a really terrible one. You be the judge.
pieman1121 (China, Maine): Is Ron Washington the best manager ever or what??
Steven Goldman: Neither manager distinguished themselves in the World Series just past, and I can't help but wonder if that had something to do with Tony LaRussa's decision to hang 'em up.
Jquinton82 (NY): Who are most excited about out of this years draft class?
Steven Goldman: John Agar. He's a bit of a petulant child, but I bet John Wayne will have made a Marine of him by the final reel.
brukru (pittsford,): Steve,
I ask Jeteresque in terms of a young shortstop set to play for a playoff team for a long time. The Rangers look set for a while. Could Elvis be that guy?
Steven Goldman: Andrus is still very young, he took a little crow-hop forward at the bat, and he's a better fielder than Jeter ever was, but when Jeter was Andrus' age he hit .314/.370/.430 in the majors. That's a very high bar you're asking him to clear, and it's unlikely he'll get there. That doesn't mean he won't be an asset for years to come, just that he's not a Hall of Famer/New York City Demigod.
GBSimons (Boise, ID): Steven, you're not the only American male who doesn't like beer. I also don't like coffee or peanut butter. Should I leave the country? If so, where should I go?
Steven Goldman: Now, I'm mostly with you on peanut butter--the ubiquitous PB&J sandwich never did much for me. However, put some chocolate around it, or bake it into a cookie and I'm all for it. Can't join you on coffee though. Learned to drink it at about 16 and have been imbibing ever since. Let's see... Countries without PB, coffee, and beer... Venus?
Michael (Detroit, MI): Following up on an item mentioned in the World Series Game 7 chat, what is the best Ty Cobb biography, if there is one to recommend? I don't have the patience to separate the fiction from the nonfiction in the Al Stump books.
Steven Goldman: No contest--Charles Alexander's book will serve. As a writer, Alexander is just functional, but his research is solid. I like his book on John McGraw as well.
sytry14 (Seattle): Hey Steve: If you're Marc Antonetti, do you re-up Sizemore? It doesn't seem as though the Indians have a lot of good options in CF besides Grady.
Steven Goldman: He didn't, and had I been here to answer this question, I would have been down with that choice. It's not like $8.5 mil is a lot of money relative to what the big stars are making, but the worry is that Sizemore has been fatally compromised by injuries and just isn't who he was anymore. A team on a budget can't afford to gamble at that price.
Labambasaurus (splitzville): am i right to be down on justin smoak?
can he (or will he) hit 30+ hr's or is 15-20 more likely? will his ave/obp get to usable levels (270/360ish) or stay around 230/320?
Steven Goldman: I asked Jack Z the same question on our SiriusXM show, and he argued that Smoak had a tough year with a variety of injuries and the death of his father. It might be the case that we have to throw out this year for Smoak and just hope he has a happier and healthier 2012. That said, he was rushed in 2011, so maybe we have to take THAT with a grain of salt as well... In 153 games as a mariner, he's hit 20 home runs, so with more consistency a lift to 25 doesn't at all unlikely, but there's no indication that he's going to be a 30+ guy, at least, not as of this moment.
Silv (NY, NY): Regarding the Giant (pun intended) extensions for Affeldt and Lopez: that's a LOT of money for two "meh" peripheral, mid-30s middle relievers with career ERAs of 4.38 and 4.55, respectively, before 2009. Yeah, they were both death on lefties, but: (i) do you really need more than one of those guys, especially at that money; and (ii) are there not better ways to spend that money?
Steven Goldman: Affeldt and Lopez have generally performed well for the Giants, but being on a budget--and the Giants have traditionally have kept things tight--means making hard choices about your favorite collectible toys and putting them up for sale on eBay. The 2011 offense bordered on the historically bad, and while there is some help in the system, there isn't a lot--it's not like they can plug Gary Brown in as of April, or at all. If signing two spot lefties is going to at all keep them from getting some bats, it was a really bad idea.
Matt (Whippleville, NY ): If you were Sandy Alderson's right hand man, and Reyes has already signed elsewhere, what would you advise as a course of action?
Steven Goldman: Abject surrender, like the rebels at Appomattox. They can stick Ruben Tejada in there, but there isn't a handy way to replace the offense or the electricity that player provides.
Bill (New Mexico): Word out of St. Louis is that TLR made his decision around the beginning of August -- AFTER the Rasmus trade. Do you think they'd have been as willing to go all-in by moving a potential star who didn't get along with the manager if they'd know TLR wasn't coming back?
Steven Goldman: That's a great question and not one I can easily answer from my vantage point here, but the trade is still solid even if they know TLR is out the door. They had outfield depth in Allen Craig and Jon "Chief Justice" Jay and a fatal shortage of breathing pitchers. And there is every possibility that Rasmus was so disgruntled that he was never going to be gruntled again, regardless of who the manager is, or that they had reached the point where they didn't want to deal with him anymore regardless. I've said this before, but never underestimate the possibility that "I'm sick of you" was the motivation for a trade that is otherwise tough to figure out.
Cult of Basebaal (Los Angeles Anaheim of Pasadena): First trade of the offseason: Derek Lowe to the Indians for a minor league pitcher (Braves cover $10 million of Lowe's contract).
Steven Goldman: We're writing that up for Transaction Analysis right now. Seems to me that the Braves get a chance to move one of a few promising arms into the rotation, that $10 million is still less than $15 million, and maybe the fellah they picked up turns into a back-o'-bullpen arm. Lowe is about to be 39 and has been fairly mediocre the last few years. FIP suggests the Braves defense didn't do him any favors, but I'm not sure the Indians have a lot more to offer. I like the move for the Braves.
richardkr34 (Saint Paul, MN): Is there any chance the Twins do something big in the offseason? Would you let Cuddyer and/or Kubel walk if you're Billy Smith?
Steven Goldman: When was the last time they did anything big that was acquiring as opposed to deacquisitioning? You would like to think they are finally ready to invest and rebuild, because I'm not sure how this team avoided losing 100 games. In an ideal world, Cuddyer and especially Kubel would walk, because they just don't give you that much bang for the buck, but you have to put SOMEONE on the field next year. Joe Benson can only take one spot. Between their habitual complacency and the tragic injuries to Mauer and Morneau, this team is really in a bad place.
Kelvin (Evanston): Odds that Tampa makes a serious run at one of the free agent 1B? O/U at 15%.
Steven Goldman: I think it spectacularly unlikely. They made the playoffs and drew not quite 19,000 a game and let it be known they were unhappy about it. Seems like retrenchment is far more likely.
Tim (DC): It may be a horrible class for FA pitchers, but how many teams can actually afford to outbid the Yankees for CC Sabathia?
Steven Goldman: Those that chose to put all their eggs into a very large basket, I guess. The question is, should they? As good as CC has been, I suspect that just when we start believing he's invulnerable is when he'll break down. He has a ton of mileage on him, and his weight gain last season was disturbing.
Hulala (Taipei): Any possibilities I can watch Yankees-cubbies worldseries in my lifetime? (ps.I'm 34)
Steven Goldman: Not in 2012. I don't think EITHER team will be there. After that, anything is possible. There is no inherent reason the Cubs can't make it with proper leadership, and right now we're assuming they finally have that. One caveat: we'll see how Epstein operates outside of the constraints of Boston's executive structure. Here's a coming book analogy: Jack Kirby chafed at working with Stan Lee, but the different between Jack with Stan and Jack without is also the difference between the Silver Surfer and the Black Racer.
Robinson (LA): I read a book on Clemente awhile ago which said that Clemente was upset with the Dodgers for keeping him in the minor leagues prior to his being a Rule V pick by the Pirates. He said that there was a Rule of Six in the major leagues and and the owners colluded to limit the number of non-whites on any team to 6 maximum. Is this accurate, and do you have any additional information?
Steven Goldman: That there was a quota rule like that is pretty well accepted, and it was a long time before a black majority lineup played in the majors. However, Clemente didn't have a beef because this wasn't relevant to his situation. When the Buccos Rule 5'd him out of town, he was 20 years old and had just completed his first half-season in the minors. He wasn't ready, and although the Pirates brought him right to the majors (because they were terrible) his work for most of the first six years of his career pretty strongly suggests he wasn't ready.
Marycontardi (San Francisco): Not really a question but I wanted to thank you and BP for hosting the postseason chats... some of the best times ever watching baseball... well, 2011 certainly helped. Thanks again!
Steven Goldman: Thank you! We'll probably do it again during the winter meetings.
RMR (Chicago): Twins just acquired Matt Maloney from the Reds. Does that qualify as big? Seems that fans of both teams would like their GMs to rock the boat a bit this offseason.
Steven Goldman: I like Maloney, but no, not big. And yes, both teams need help that won't be forthcoming.
3zlota (toronto): Who do you see in the Braves rotation in 2012 ,after Hanson Hudson and Jurrjens ?
Steven Goldman: You'd think Beachy and Minor have the inside track. I wonder, though, if between injuries and arb status, Jurrjens may follow Lowe out of town, making room for Teheran, Delgado, or one of the other kids.
Silv (NY, NY): The Braves rotation, offense and bullpen are all pretty clearly defined for 2012 with the exceptions of left field (Prado is mediocre) and shortstop; does the Lowe deal provide any indication that they're likely to make a run at Jose Reyes (thus MURDERING Met nation) or Rollins?
Steven Goldman: The Braves haven't been big FA players in the post-Turner years, so I doubt it, but it sure would be interesting to listen to WFAN on the day it went down.
Dan (Ithaca): Steve, sorry about the Swish question earlier. I wrote it 4 days ago... ya know... when I thought the chat was happening....
Any idea about who may be in on Darvish? What do you think the posting fee/contract end up at?
Steven Goldman: No worries... Everything I've heard suggests that the Matsuzaka deal is a likely model, with the whole package ending up around $100 mil between posting and contract.
RMR (Chicago): Just to clarify, my "Maloney - is that big?" comment was meant in jest. As a Reds fan, I like Maloney and his chances to stick at the back of the rotation in a park that doesn't punish fly balls. But to the follow-up comment, do you see the Reds acquiring a true front of the rotation type this offseason? James Shields seems the most likely candidate.
Steven Goldman: I knew it was ironic. So was the first part of my reply--couldn't you see me wiggling my eyebrows? I like Maloney's command, if nothing else... I would hate to see the Rays part with Shields over arbitration, just because it would tear the heart out of that franchise, to the extent it has a heart. I also wonder about the workload on Shields the last couple of years.
jmarsh (Bloomington, IN): It seems the fans in St. Louis are a little dissatisfied with Matt Holliday. Is there any chance they explore the trade market for him to free up money for Pujols and hand a starting gig to Craig?
Steven Goldman: Good luck if they do, because he's got five more years guaranteed at $17 mil per. That's a commitment for any team, and not a wise one.
JayT (San Francisco): If Pujols doesn't resign with the Cardinals, who do you think is the most likely to get him?
Steven Goldman: I have a hard time answering that, because I'm not clear on how many years he's looking for. A longer contract should function as a disincentive to a lot of teams and will help set the market. When we have a sense of that, we can start making more informed guesses.
Jape (Portland): Steven--have you ever given thought to whom would comprise a Platonic ideal pitching rotation? Lots of guys are textbook #1s--Koufax, Maddux, Big Train, Bob Gibson, et al, but what about the rest? Is there such a thing as a quintessential #2? When you think of a #4 or a #5, who is it?
Steven Goldman: It's fun to make lists and such, but this one is so wide open. Are we talking career or single season? If the latter, I would have guys like Ron Guidry '78 and Dwight Gooden '85 and other names that don't make the list of all-time greats. If we're talking about guys who were more than one-hit wonders, my list starts with Pedro Martinez and Lefty Grove.
Mark68 (PDX): You are the Angels' new GM. Do you try to get Pujols or Fielder despite the possible crowd at 1B/DH? Especially knowing their lack of a big bat.
Steven Goldman: Yeah, I do. The Angels need a power bat so desperately that the risk that Pujols gets old or Prince bloats is worth it for them.
Kent (Coppell TX): Which team says no to a trade of Werth for Dunn? I know Werth was better last year (and probably in the future), but his contract is worse, right?
Steven Goldman: Werth's contract is worse. I suspect Dunn will rebound some, unless there are medical or psychological issues we don't know about. It's hard to think of anyone this side of Lou Gehrig who got so bad so fast, and it's tempting to chalk the whole thing up to a kind of spectacular prank by the universe.
R.A.Wagman (Hockey Prospectus): In terms of individual player performances, who surprised you most this postseason and why?
Steven Goldman: The first thing that jumped to mind was all of Ian Kinsler's sketchy baserunning in the World Series, not totally erased by his one clutch SB.
Jon (NYC): So, the Mets plan on moving in the walls as Citi by 12 feet, and decreasing the height by as much as 8 feet. Thoughts?
Steven Goldman: Build a better team, don't muck around with the park. All you accomplish is recasting the, pardon the pun, dimensions of the problem.
Cult of Basebaal (Los Angeles Anaheim of Pasadena): Thoughts on the (ongoing) potential sale of the Astros to Jim Crane? Between the unsavory issues of the past, obvious lack of even medium-depth pockets by the purchasing consortium that makes a quick departure from being one of the worst teams in the majors close to impossible and a move to the AL West designed to infuriate even those fans with the patience to wait for a rebuilding (that may never come), doesn't this sale just scream out: DANGER! IMPENDING TRAINWRECK!!!
Steven Goldman: I wonder if, in this economy, they feel like they don't have too many other options. I don't see the move to the AL W as that big a negative though--it takes the rivalry with the Rangers out of interleague and makes it a big chunk of the season. Of course, interleague then becomes pointless for those two teams, just like it is for almost everyone else. I really dislike interleague.
Francois (Toronto): The 1B/DH questions regarding LAA (Trumbo/Morales) is interesting. But aren't we forgetting they have 5 OF: Abreu, Bourjos, Hunter, Trout, and Wells. Shouldnt that be a larger area of concern that a position where a dookie just knocked 29 dingers?
Steven Goldman: A dookie? I guess the "d" key is near the "r" key. We really don't know what Morales is going to do after missing most of two years, and Trumbo is not a long-term solution when he can't get his OBP over .291. I really don't know how the Angels deal with their OF logjam, except that in some form they're going to have to eat a lot of money to make the problem go away. If they let the size of the contracts argue them into playing those old-timers regularly, they're twice the fools they have been...
Silv (NY, NY): Re: going bad fast. Howard Johnson averaged a 30/30 with nearly 100 rbis and an .840 ops from 87-91, thereafter (at age 31) completely losing it to the tune of .219 with 31 homers for the rest of his career.
Steven Goldman: I was a big Hojo fan... It was 20 years ago now and I don't want to take the time out of the chat to look this up, but I dimly remember there were some injury problems involved. And the Mets jerking him around to the outfield probably didn't help. In any case, at his worst, Johnson wasn't as bad as Dunn was this year.
Cult of Basebaal (Los Angeles Anaheim of Pasadena): RE: Astros vs Rangers rivalry. It's clearly not definitive by any means, but judging by the reaction of both Astros and Rangers fans on BBTF, there is no rivalry, just a collective "Meh". There is, however a rather rabid reaction from Astros' fans AGAINST the move to the AL AND the DH AND the move to the AL West, meaning a WHOLE LOT of 9pm road game starts ...
Steven Goldman: Maybe they'll learn to love the DH when they see it means getting Carlos Lee off the field?
Andy (Chicago): Re: Holliday. I know Kevin Goldstein talks about how you don't make positional decisions on MLB players based off guys in the minors, but what about decisions on MLB FA players based on the guys around them.
As said, Holliday is set for a lot of years and a lot of dollars. One would guess he'll need to move to 1B by the end of that contract, where, if Albert is signed there would be no occupancy. Forget a team being able to support 2 big contracts, how could an NL team support two big contracts for 1Bmen?
Steven Goldman: It's a good question. My from-the-hip reaction is that Pujols' value to the team from both an on-field and marketing POV would transcend that question. But let me also say that this is not a question the Cardinals should have put themselves in a position to answer. Early on in free agency, teams handed out lengthy contracts to players in their 30s, got burned, and learned not to do it. Just as we seem to be replaying the Great Depression in our politics because we have gotten so much distance on the event that we have forgotten the lessons, owners and executives have forgotten, I dunno, Richie Zisk.
Jake (Kalamazoo): Not to rain on the parade of an exciting playoffs, but if you did a power ranking of MLB teams from this point moving forward, would St. Louis be in the top 5? Bottom end of the top 10? Or do they default to #1 because of the series victory?
Steven Goldman: Nope, wouldn't rank them that high on an objective basis, nor would I rate their chances for next year that highly, Pujols or not.
Tony (Albuquerque): The Royals solve thier SP defencies by, _____ and possibly______.
Steven Goldman: The Royals solve their SP deficiencies by 2075 and possibly later.
Steven Goldman: Cowboys and girls, it's time for me to skedaddle, as BBTN II sits on my desk, scattered like Italian soldiers at Caporetto. If the book is to come out on time, I must keep editing/writing/editing/writing until my nose falls off and my ears turn green. Thus I depart for now. I'll be back again for another soon. In the meantime, look for Kevin, Mike Ferrin, and myself this Friday at 7PM EST on SiriusXM for more of, well, me. As always, thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with Baseball Prospectus and yours truly.