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Chat: Best of BP with Ben and Dave

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday January 18, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with Best of BP with Ben and Dave.

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Have you gotten your Best of Baseball Prospectus books yet? Join Best of BP editors Ben Lindbergh and Dave Pease for a chat about the books, baseball, and other good stuff.

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Good afternoon, folks. Dave and I are here to take your questions on life, the Best of Books, and baseball in general. Let's get started.

Zeushockey (NYC ): Will c carter oak, snider tor and drabek tor show they can become who we thought they were or are they destined for smaller future roles?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: I’m not sure there was ever complete agreement on “who we thought they were”—even now, there’s a pretty wide range of opinions on their ceilings among those in the know (a group that probably doesn’t include me, by the way). Carter has tremendous power, but I’m not convinced that he’ll make enough contact to show it off for long. He struck out 20 times in 44 at-bats in the majors last season, after whiffing 85 times in 296 AB at Sacramento. If you’ve listened to the Up and In Podcast, you know that Kevin’s a believer, while Jason’s a skeptic. We’ll find out who’s right if he gets a chance to DH full-time this season.

If you’re still expecting Drabek to be an ace, you’ll need to adjust your expectations. His low strikeout rates were always a bad sign, and between his injuries and his performance last season, a solid back-of-the-rotation guy seems like the most a Jays fan can hope to see this season. As for Snider, I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone does. All I know is that it’s probably too soon to give up.—Ben

chembilly (Boise, ID): I have a copy of the first Baseball Prospectus. It has the plain white cover and blurry print in spots, and I think there's a team missing. Joe Sheehan gave it to me back in the day because we're tight like that. What's it worth?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Ah, the maiden voyage of the USS Prospectus. We unearthed that data--including the missing St. Louis Cardinals chapter--last year, so anyone can get to the text. Of course, they can't leaf through it without printing it out, and even then, its just not as special.

200 copies were printed... how many are left out there? Its tough to say. Several founders don't have one. I think your book is worth its weight in plutonium and would advise that you keep it in a safe deposit box, not your home. Your inheritors will thank you. - Dave

yankeesbg13 (Indianapolis): What are you guys thinking is going to turn out of the whole A's to San Jose ordeal. If San Jose doesn't work, what will they do?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Learn to love Oakland? I’m not sure—considering how long MLB’s so-called “blue ribbon committee” has been studying the issue, it would be demoralizing for the A’s if they had to start from scratch. The usual potential markets would probably be mentioned—Las Vegas, Portland—but let’s hope San Jose works out so we can put this city saga behind us, the A’s can focus on baseball, and the Moneyball movie can get an even bigger-budget sequel.

Moneyball’s budget, by the way? $47 million. Oakland’s payroll last season? $33.6 million.—Ben

Jason W. (L.A.): Please black out this question and whatever answer you make in protest.

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Man, we just had to do a chat on the day Wikipedia's blacked out, didn't we? Now you'll see how smart/not smart we really are.

LoyalRoyal (Kansas): Do you see any current major leaguers or up-and-coming minor leaguers make a significantly improved impact on the basepaths this season?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: I can’t say that I do. Players don’t typically get faster as they age, and it’s tough to know when someone is going to get better at running the bases. Last year, we heard that baserunning guru Davey Lopes was tutoring Matt Kemp in the wake of his 19 SB/15 CS 2010 season, so a lot of people projected improvement there. Correctly, as it turned out: Kemp ended up stealing 40 while getting caught only 11 times. But I’m not aware of any calls that easy to make at this point in the winter. Maybe when spring training rolls around we start to hear who’s working on what with whom. Of course, getting on base more often always helps.--Ben

cubfan131 (Iowa): If you had to take a flyer on a SP for next year would you rather it be Travis Wood or Carlos Zambrano?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Depends on the context. If I really, really needed the innings, I guess I'd go for the non-insane pitcher.

You have to look at a guy like Carlos Zambrano as a lottery ticket. The historical record says he has everything you want from a above-average starter--he even rakes--but heads could explode in that Miami clubhouse this year with some of the people you've got in there.

What do you think of Ozzie Guillen? If he's Captain Shellenburger, you go with Zambrano and cross your fingers. If he's Captain Schettino, don't waste your time.

Also, please write your congressperson about SOPA/PIPA so I can use Wikipedia links for non-baseball stuff. -- Dave

Chicken Wolf (NYC): Are you at all concerned about McCutchen's 2nd half? It seems that his increase in power directly resulted in a drop in average. The steals also tailed off significantly from 2010. What do you think is more of his skill set? a .280 hitter with 15-18 HR and 40 SB, or more of last year's .260 25 HR 25 SB? Thanks

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: I wouldn't be concerned about McCutchen's second-half slump. I think some of the drop in batting average was a BABIP issue that won't last, though it's possible that some of it was related to a change in approach. Steals do tend to tail off as players age and add power. I don't know if I see 40 SB in his future, but I'll take the over on his 23 from last year. Overall, he was roughly equally productive offensively in 2010 and 2011, so I think the Pirates would be pleased with either of those hypothetical lines, in light of his defense and position. He hasn't yet reached his prime, so I think he can still combine that .280 average with those 25 homers and have an even bigger year.--Ben

dianagram (NYC): You CAN get to wikipedia today. You need to hit [ESC] as it starts searching for the page.

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: SOPA supporter! Shame on you.--Ben

R.A. Wagman (Canada): Any word on availability through amazon.ca? Been "unavailable" for a while now....

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: We don't have as much visibility into Amazon's availability in Canada as we'd like, and we always get questions every time a new hockey book comes out. Apparently hockey's somewhat popular in Canada.

There's no reason I know of that Best of Baseball Prospectus Vol 1 and Best of Baseball Prospectus Vol 2 should not be available on amazon.ca... I'll see what I can find out.

Chatters--do you have the books? Have you read the books? Thanks! -- Dave

LoyalRoyal (Kansas): What teams do you feel are currently doing the best jobs building towards being serious playoff contenders in the future ('13, '14, '15)?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Good news, LoyalRoyal--the Royals are certainly one of them. The Blue Jays, though they'll always be fighting an uphill battle in that division. I like what the Astros and Cubs have been doing lately, though with them we're talking about the outside edge of that time frame, if then.--Ben

Hip2Hops (Seattle): How do the newly configured Reds stack up in the NL Central for '12? Seems like there is still some upside in guys like Bruce and Bailey to consider along with the obvious upgrades w/Latos, Marshall and Madson?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Yeah, with Pujols (and probably Prince) out of the division and Ryan Braun maybe missing a third of the season, I might give them a slight edge at this point. Of course, I picked them to repeat as division champs last season, so what do I know? What with the prospects they gave up in the Latos deal, winning now seems like the plan, so it might be wise for them to leave less to chance and make one more move, if they have the money. Given the team's lack of starting pitching depth, Dan Szymborski made a good case for making Edwin Jackson that move in an article over at ESPN Insider today.--Ben

Ken318 (Quakertown, PA): Good afternoon. Can you please rank the best 5 3B not yet in the big leagues (Rendon, Middlebrooks, etc) and if you think any can have an impact in 2012/2013.

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: The honest answer is "no, we can't," unless you want us to start parroting prospect lists (speaking of which, Kevin Goldstein's Top 101 will be out next month, both on the site and in the annual). I did relay your question to Kevin, who points out that we should be keeping an eye on the Rockies' Nolan Arenado, who's coming on strong and has a clear path to the majors with Ian Stewart in Chicago.--Ben

buddons42 (Detroit): I gave copies to several friends as Christmas presents. So far my feedback consists of "It's an excellent back-of-the-toilet book." I'm pretty sure that was a compliment.

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: We appreciate both the purchases and the feedback. Producing something suitable for on-the-toilet reading is all I've ever aspired to.

Anyone else have any compliments, comments, or complaints about the book?--Ben

Jakel (Columbia): Can you run down some ideas on why teams *cough* cardinals *cough* seem committed to spending a few million a piece on sun-replacement players (Schumacher, McClellan)? In K-Mac's case he is the highest paid reliever on the staff!

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Well, there's the devil you know, and the devil you don't know. You'll see a lot of contracts that look a little weird, and how many of those are a team saying "yeah, this guy isn't great, and we're overpaying a little, but we're comfortable enough with our expectations of him that we'll pay the extra to avoid some uncertainty and a desperation midseason Bo Hart sighting"?

I've got a little soft spot in my heart (or my skull, maybe) for players like Skip Schumaker--there aren't a lot of guys who were league-average hitters two years ago who are willing and able to move all over the field defensively. In the right hands, that ought to be a tactical advantage, unless the bat is totally gone. -- Dave

LoyalRoyal (Kansas): What do you see as the outcome of the V-Mart injury? Sign a bigtime FA DH, more AB's for internal solutions such as Raburn, trade, other??

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: I'm not sure how many free agent DH/1B types still on the market qualify as "big-time" (aside from Prince Fielder, of course), but I could certainly see the Tigers adding someone like Carlos Pena. The problem with losing a player to injury (other than, you know, not having him) is that you still have to pay him.

V-Mart's injury just goes to show that conditioning can be dangerous. As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, maybe players who don't exercise are the new inefficiency.--Ben

dianagram (VORGville): Yu Darvish gets posted, and Team X doesn't want him, but doesn't want any other team to get him either. So Team X bid $75 million bucks and wins the right to negotiate with Darvish's reps. Team X then sits on its hands for 30 days, and Darvish doesn't sign with anyone, and Team X gets its $75 million back. There is a problem here ... right?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Well, I know we've all heard that if the Rangers don't make a significant effort to actually close the deal, and placed their bid just to block Darvish from showing up somewhere else, that they will pay a price with the commissioner, with other MLB teams, with the public, etc.

That said, a lot of what's been said about Texas and Darvish amounts to "well, that's just not done", and sooner or later, someone gets around to doing just about everything that's "just not done" until that point.

I mean, who's to say that Texas hasn't made a Herculean effort but Darvish and his representatives have decided that he's a $126 million pitcher and they won't take a penny less?

I agree with your general point, though--the posting system makes about as much sense as the BCS, and there's got to be a better way to do it. -- Dave

Sam (Cincy): Keeper question: if you had to choose one, would it be Aybar at $5 or Dee Gordon at $8? thanks.

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: I'm not sold on Gordon's ability to get on base consistently in the big leagues. He'll give you some steals, but so will Aybar, who's a bit more well-rounded. I haven't played fantasy in years, and I've never played in a keeper league, so I don't have a great feel for dollar values, but former BP fantasy guru Marc Normandin informs me that $8 is an awful lot for Gordon. So, if I had to choose one, I suppose it would be Aybar.--Ben

PepeShady (St Paul): Who is more likely to earn their ~$7M salary in 2012, Delmon Young or Josh Willingham?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Josh Willingham is more likely to be a $7 million player in 2012. Delmon Young could still turn into a $17 million player, but he disappears for long stretches. -- Dave

cubfan131 (Iowa): Where do you think Roy Oswalt ends up?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: If you want to know where someone's going, you're better off asking Ken Rosenthal, Buster Olney, or another writer who's wired in and breaks news. I'm just the guy who sometimes writes about moves after they happen. The most recent Oswalt rumors I've heard have connected him to the Red Sox and Cardinals, but maybe the Reds would make some sense. Despite the injury risk, I'd rather take a one-year, $8 million flyer than give Edwin Jackson five years, considering what R.J. Anderson discovered recently about pitchers who bounced around as much as Jackson has early in their careers.--Ben

John (MS): If you had Oswaldo Arcia, Gary Brown an Jake Marisnick which one would you trade for a serviceable pitcher?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: If you have to let one good prospect go, all else being equal, trade the corner guy and keep the up-the-middle players. Arcia it is.--Ben

Chris (Orlando): How likely w the impending signing of Darvish would the Rangers be to also sign Fielder and let Hamilton walk at the end of the year?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: I wouldn't be surprised. I can't imagine Hamilton's next contract being a good deal, given the kind of cash he's likely to command. Leaving aside the question of whether you want to commit long-term to a man who needs an accountability partner, Hamilton is fragile physically and strikes me as the type who might not age all that well. (He's not particularly patient.) If the demands for Fielder have come down, he'd make a lot of sense for the Rangers. We don't know quite yet how much money they'll be giving Darvish (any minute now...), but their lucrative TV deal can pay for a lot of production.--Ben

PepeShady (St Paul): If Seattle moves Brandon League mid-season, who takes over as the M's closer?

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: The obvious candidate is George Sherrill, given his previous closer experience. If he bombs... David Aardsma might be rehabbing by then.

Also, quick use of dianagram's ESC trick has shown me that Aardsma's sister is attractive. -- Dave

Best of BP with Ben and Dave: Thanks for all the questions, and sorry if we didn't get to yours. Remember, the holidays may be over but Best of Baseball Prospectus always makes a great gift.


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