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Chat: Ben Lindbergh

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday March 14, 2012 1:30 PM ET chat session with Ben Lindbergh.

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BP's new Managing Editor gets chatty about the state of the site and the latest out of the exhibition leagues.

Ben Lindbergh: Welcome to the one and only chat with me taking place on the internet today (as far as I knowósomeone remind me if Iím supposed to be somewhere else). Ask me about baseball, but please also ask me about BP. This is your opportunity to tell me what you like and donít like, what you want to see and donít want to see. Actually, every day gives you an opportunity to do that, since I read and answer all my email, but never mind that. Letís chat.

JT (Exhibition Stadium): What's the state of the Baseball Prospectus brand?

Ben Lindbergh: Our style is impetuous, our defense is impregnable, and weíre just ferocious. We want your heart! We donít want to eat your children!

More seriously, I have a lot of confidence in the product weíre putting out. Iím biased, but thereís nowhere Iíd rather go to read about baseball on the internet than BP. Our stable of authors is as strong as itís been for some time, and itís about to get stronger. (As we announced on Twitter, weíve hired Sam Miller to write and edit full time as of March 26th, so youíre about to start seeing a lot more Miller.) I think youíll be pleased by the changes and improvements we have planned for the rest of the year.

Daily Kos (Hollywood): Ben, will you be using your executive authority to investigate the abuses of the previous administration?

Ben Lindbergh: I've pardoned all of my predecessors, just in case and since it worked so well for Ford. I hope my eventual successor will do the same for me.

Chopper (Indy): Long-term keeper league, where hitters are more valuable than pitchers... I am doing fine at catcher and starting pitcher, so should I protect wilin rosario or archie bradley. Thanks much! Chopper

Ben Lindbergh: Iím not sure if youíre asking me to choose between them or tell you whether you should bother keeping either. If the latter is what you want to know, I canít answer, since Iím not familiar with the rest of your roster. If itís the former, Iíd make this observation: Rosario made the majors last season. Bradley pitched two innings in the rookie league.

Bradley might end up being the better player, but A) you probably wonít win too many championships counting on 18-year-old pitchers to become aces, and B) 2015 (Bradleyís ETA in the Rockies Top 11) is a long time to wait, even in a long-term league.

Marc (Internet): Time to share your big plans for the site now that you're in charge.

Ben Lindbergh: First and foremost, I'm thinking about getting a new coffeemaker for our nonexistent office. But mostly, my agenda looks like this: 1) hire Sam Miller, 2) take over the world, 3) Make buying a BP subscription mandatory. In the near future, you'll see an old column appearing in a new format, and possibly another new face. In the long term--well, I won't get into that quite yet. I'm not going to mess with things that are working just for the sake of putting my stamp on the site, and I think most things are working. We know there are areas in which we need to improve, and we're putting in a lot of time to improve them. Joe Hamrahi and I don't sleep.

JT (Exhibition Stadium): In the wake of Bauer's "crazy" training habits, I'm remembering how the Rangers threw footballs on their offdays in the 80s: did that catch on? I want to say Tom House was the pitching coach: exercising my neurons rather than googling.

Ben Lindbergh: After Googling rather than exercising my neurons, this is what I found: ďWhen he was pitching coach for the Rangers, House had his pitchers warm up by tossing a football. He since has acknowledged some of his methods were incorrect, a fact that bothers some who wonder why he didn't take the time to fully research his practices before implementing them.Ē

I havenít seen any Bad Spring Training Twitpics of pitchers throwing footballs, so Iím guessing this didnít catch on. By the way, if you didn't click on that link in the last sentence, do.

Marc (Internet): Don't lie, I know you sleep. Refund my sub, liar.

Ben Lindbergh: Only on isolated occasions. Also, you have a lifetime subscription, Marc. You'll be a subscriber forever. And ever. And ever. /Laughs like maniacal Managing Editor

JT (Exhibition Stadium): What is harder to explain to casual fans: a) that the Blue Jays have been a good to great team for the bulk of the Aughts (as explained in the team essay), b) that low/high BABIPs don't always scream regression, or c) quantum physics? I'm a Jays fan, hint, hint, hint.

Ben Lindbergh: Truly casual fans might not even know about BABIP, so probably B. Explaining DIPS can be exhausting. Still, given that the Jays donít have any playoff appearances (let alone rings) to show for their success, Iíd imagine that A canít be easy.

bradleyankrom (TPAFLA): Is R.J. Anderson a a robot or is R.J. Anderson the robot?

Ben Lindbergh: R.J. somehow wrote five articles for us last week alone, so he's definitely the robot. Also, he'll be running his BP chat subroutines tomorrow at 12 PM ET, so you should all come back for that.

Andy (Chicago): Fantasy question if you're so inclined: What's your view on closers? I have Kimbrel as a pretty cheap keeper (can keep 2 pitchers), but leaning towards setting him free in favor of Jordan Zimmerman and Madison Bumgarner who I have for next to nothing.

Ben Lindbergh: I haven't played fantasy for a few years now, since I spend a dangerous amount of time on baseball as it is. But when I did play, I was always a "don't pay for saves" guy. Sometimes I tanked the category, and other times I monitored baseball news all day so I could grab the latest closer candidate from the waiver wire and piece together a staff with some saves. Either way, I wouldn't be the one drafting the typical high-priced closer. Kimbrel might be one worth keeping over a lot of starters, but probably not over Bumgarner.

Not Rob Neyer (Interwebs): I think it's harder to explain to casual fans why there are at least 3 different calculations for Wins Above Replacement,and what the differences between them are. thanks for all the chats here, please keep them up!

Ben Lindbergh: True, the variety can make things complicated. But I don't know how we can expect people to agree about baseball stats any more than they agree about anything else.

I intend to keep the chats coming a couple times a week. I want to expose our readers to as many of our authors as possible, and I've emphasized the importance of showing up precisely when the chat is scheduled to start.

Mike (Chicago): I renewed my subscription, but if Jason Parks (and Patricia) get hired by the Rangers, that might be the last straw. A lot of quality at BP, and still enough #want to keep things fresh. Good luck at the top, rhere's only one direction you can go from here.

Ben Lindbergh: Thanks for re-subscribing. We hope Jason will be with us for a long time, but we also understand that like Martin Kove's character in White Light, Jason is trying to reach a different plane of existence, and we don't want to stand in his way. If he succeeds in becoming a full-time scout, we'll wish him well and seek out other talent. But for now, let's be glad he's on our side.

mgaynor (Rhode Island): Does Vance Worley regress, hold, or improve? How significantly in either direction?

Ben Lindbergh: I think he's in for some regression, at least ERA-wise (except something around 4.00), but he'll continue to be one of the NL's best fourth starters.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Ben, any chance you can influence the geniuses behind Player Forecast Manager to make it available as a self-updating Excel spreadsheet so no web access is required to perform updates?

Ben Lindbergh: I'll pass that along. I know it's something they'd like to do, it's just a matter of determining priorities. If you ask me, it's high time we had worldwide wireless coverage, which would make an offline PFM unnecessary.

Eric Sogard (Surprise): Who will be the Astros' All-Star? A's? White Sox?

Ben Lindbergh: This is a fun question, and a hard one. Mike Fast can't qualify, right? I'll go out on a limb (it's hard to pick an Astro All-Star without going out on a limb) and guess Jed Lowrie stays healthy for a half season and earns a spot. For the A's and White Sox, I'll go with relievers: Grant Balfour and Addison Reed.

rawagman (toronto): So, EiC, what's your take on the oxford comma?

Ben Lindbergh: I use it, I endorse it, and I intend for it to stay standard BP punctuation.

Tony Danza (Italy): Torres good for 15-15 leading off for the Metsis year?

Ben Lindbergh: Fifteen steals, sure. Fifteen homers...wouldn't count on it, though he did it in 2010. He's 34 now, and we're not sure how the new park will play. The extra plate appearances will help, though. PECOTA projects 12 HR in 568 PA, and he'll have more opportunities than that if he sticks at leadoff.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): How's the book tour going/gone?

Ben Lindbergh: I enjoyed the first event at the Manhattan B&N, but I was under the weather last week and frustratingly unable to attend the DC stop at Politics & Prose. From what I heard, it was a huge success (as always), with upwards of 120 people in attendance. We have a couple more events coming up, including an event in Chicago next Monday with Kevin, Christina, Colin, Larry, and Ken.

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Hey Ben, how do much playing time do you see the following guys getting: Zach Cozart, John Mayberry, Dayan Viciedo and Allen Craig? I see them all as potential fantasy sleepers. Thanks.

Ben Lindbergh: Can't say I strongly disagree with our Depth Charts on any of those guys. I think Cozart has the clearest route to playing time, and I'm cautiously optimistic.

Marc (Internet): Can I make an appointment to hear your thoughts on the Mass Effect 3 ending when you get to it in 10 months? (Full disclosure: there was no problem with it so great that a petition needed to start to change the ending. Get a new hobby, people.)

Ben Lindbergh: I hope 10 months isn't overly optimistic--my games backlog is such that I tend to play a lot of games a couple years after they come out. (I just got to God of War III, though I played Gears 3 right before that, so I don't always go in chronological order.) Actually, I hadn't even played Mass Effect 2 until a few months ago, so things aren't looking good. I saw something on Twitter about 3's ending last night and immediately closed my browser. Otherwise, I've successfully avoided spoilers so far.

Ben Horrow (Philadelphia): Domonic Brown, deserving to start for the Phillies in LF or better to give him a year in AAA?

Ben Lindbergh: He'll probably start the year in Triple-A, since he didn't exactly excel there last season, but I'd be shocked if he stayed there all season. I don't know whether the Phillies still see him as their future starter, but he's 24, so if he's ever going to take the next step, it'll have to be fairly soon. I think he could reestablish himself in the first half.

Jerome (T Hills): Do you ever see Mike Minor having a breakout season? Or is his leash short with all the pitching on the horizon?

Ben Lindbergh: Minor makes a lot of sense as a trade candidate. He's a young, cost-controlled starter who could be at least league average right now, which makes him very valuable, but he lacks the upside of some of the Braves' blue-chippers. I certainly wouldn't say Atlanta should shop him, but the right offer could come along. If it doesn't, they'll be happy with what they get out of him. I don't know about "breakout," but barring injury, I think he's going to be good for quite a while.

Mark68 (Mile High): Who is/are the odd man/men out in the Angels' 1B/LF/DH shuffle? Trout probably starts in AAA, Abreu wants PT, but probably won't get it. Can they find someone willing to take Abreu off their hands?

Ben Lindbergh: Much as I've enjoyed Abreu's career, I don't envision him being a whole lot better than the Damon/Matsui DH types who can't get jobs. The Yankees nibbled at him for a while, then decided the path of least resistance would be Raul Ibanez. I can't imagine Abreu drawing much interest a few months down the road, and I think he could get squeezed out in Anaheim as the season rolls on.

dianagram (VORGville): "Hacking Mass" coming back this season? Can "Predictatron" return too? Am I misremembering reading something about BP possibly hosting (in assoc. with some other entity) its own fantasy baseball game/league?

Ben Lindbergh: I haven't heard anything about Hacking Mass or Predictatron. We've been pulled in a bunch of different directions over the past few seasons, and on occasion that's led to some bumpier implementations than we would have liked. Until we figure out how to clone our tech team (we have top men working on it now), we want to make sure our core products are the best they can be before branching out into offerings that are of interest to a small percentage of our subscriber base.

A BP-branded fantasy league has been discussed, but nothing is imminent.

Alpha (Toronto): Will Vladimir Guerrero ever play again?

Ben Lindbergh: The odds are against it, but I hope so. I'll miss him when he's gone.

Abe Froman (Chicago): Perkins have any shot at closing for the Twins this year?

Ben Lindbergh: Nope, too many strikeouts. I'm only kind of kidding. Normally, I'd say that Perkins would be a good source of vulture saves, since Matt Capps is about as shaky as they come. But he did strike out over a batter per inning last season, and the Twins don't take too kindly to that sort of thing.

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Ben- just wondering about turnaround time with the site: what kind of deadlines do your writers face? And what time do you actually post most of the articles for the day? Thanks

Ben Lindbergh: Dan, we don't have a hard deadline, but we do ask our writers to submit their copy at a reasonable hour so that the editors can get some sleep. For the most part, they comply. We've been posting most of our content in the wee hours, but we've toyed with the idea of staggering our articles throughout the day. Which would you rather see?

giggles2525 (NY): Being the best baseball book on the market, bar none, the Prospectus always shocks me with wild claims on its front and back cover (using terms like "Deadly Accurate" and "correctly predicted" for things that cannot accurately be described as such). The inside of the book is, of course, impeccable. Does the publishing company write the jacket each year?

Ben Lindbergh: Typically, the publisher does take the lead on how the book looks on the outside, but I can assure you that "Deadly Accurate" is dead. You won't see that phrase on the cover of BP2013.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Are you buying what the White Sox are selling?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm not sure what the White Sox are selling. For me, the most memorable Kenny Williams quote of the winter was "Hopefully itís enough to remain competitive." I guess that's sort of an attempt at a sale, but how much can they charge?

Jeff (Internet Land): I'd much prefer all the articles all up front, i.e. as is.

Ben Lindbergh: Noted, though there is something to be said for giving people reasons to come back throughout the day.

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Personally, I'm blocked from the site while at work (off today) so I like getting the most content possible early.

Ben Lindbergh: Let's observe a moment of silence for those whose office browsers are blocked.

warthurton (Internet): What team is posed to have the most exciting (not necessarily best) season?

Ben Lindbergh: For a certain sort of fan (read: me), the Astros will be exciting. They should be worth keeping track of just to see how high the number in the loss column can climb. On a happier note, I'm looking forward to watch the young Royals come together, and watching Strasburg and Harper on the same team at some point this season should be fun. I'm also looking forward to finding out how much of last season's success the Diamondbacks can sustain.

mgaynor (Rhode Island): Thoughts on B. Belt? Does he make the team? If so how many ABs does he see this year?

Ben Lindbergh: I'll be writing about this, among other things, immediately after this chat. Stay tuned to the site tomorrow or Friday.

Ben Lindbergh: All, we're two hours in, and while I'd like to go longer, I have an article to write. I'll chat again before long, and remember to be back here for R.J.'s chat tomorrow at 12. Thanks for following along, asking questions, and subscribing to Baseball Prospectus.


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