Daniel Rathman, author of The BP First Take and resident precocious staff college student, stops by to take your questions in his inaugural BP chat.
Daniel Rathman: Coffee's on the table, textbooks are still collecting dust on the shelf, and there's beer in the fridge for later. Let's get this thing going!
(Also, please bear with me if things go awry, as this is my first-ever live chat.)
Smitty (boston): As a student/reporter at a D3 school with a quality program, do you think that the MLB as a whole has fallen too much in love with measurables instead of finding guys who can play the game when they look at prospects? For example, it seems plenty of guys can pitch in the MLB at 90 instead of 96 or at 6 feet tall instead of 6 foot 4
Daniel Rathman: I definitely think that there's talent at the D3 level that gets undersold, and that actually came up in a discussion with Bill James, who visited Tufts last week. James argued that the biggest inefficiency in talent evaluation right now is missing players at smaller schools who could compete at the D1 level, because while the gap between teams is sizable, the gap between players isn't necessarily as large. To the extent that measurables play a role in recruitment and where players go to college, I do think there's an inefficiency there.
Dan (Colorado): Rangers top prospect Martin Perez recently asked Yu Darvish how he fared in his first intra-squad scrimmage. Darvish told him he pitched "OK" and then instructed his translator to ask Perez how old he was.
Informed that Perez was 20, Darvish responded, "Tell him I already had a Cy Young by then."
So, that Darvish guy has confidence, what about Martin Perez? What should we expect out of the Venezuelean this year and beyond?
Daniel Rathman: For me, the biggest issue for Perez is just finding more consistency. When he's on, he's REALLY on, but as Kevin Goldstein mentioned in his writeup of the Rangers system, his velocity goes in and out, and that gets him frustrated. I think he'd benefit from another full year in the minors, both from a consistency standpoint and to learn how to keep his emotions from getting the best of him on days when he doesn't have his best stuff. If he can do that, I could see him either as an elite reliever or No. 2 starter down the road.
Brandon Belt (Fresno): What has to happen for me to see some significant time in San Francisco this year? What about my good pal Domonic in Philly?
Daniel Rathman: There are few things I'd love to see more as a Giants fan, but the way the offseason went, the deck seems to be stacked against Belt again. He certainly needs a strong spring, and ideally a poor one from Aubrey Huff or Nate Schierholtz, but an injury might be the only route to an everyday job unless Bochy's preference for veterans changes. I'm anxious to see what adjustments Belt has made to his two-strike approach, as well.
For Brown, I think a trade is his only sure route to significant playing time this year.
Hot Sauce Boss (Texas): Along the lines of underrated talent, what do you think Brandon Beachy will do this year? Scouting guys seem to predict a regression, but numbers guys seem to think he's legit.
Daniel Rathman: Every year I've got a couple of players who end up on virtually every fantasy team I draft, and Brandon Beachy -- for better or worse -- is likely to be one of them this year. The lack of a consistent third pitch worries me a bit, but the stuff he does have is vicious, and having Michael Bourn in center is a boon to his fly ball-heavy style. Put me down for a 3.50-3.70 ERA and 200 strikeouts.
Curtis Hall (Boston): What are your thoughts on Daniel Bard's transition to the rotation?
Daniel Rathman: It's somewhat awkward to have the building I'm currently sitting in asking me a question, but I suppose that means I'd better answer it.
I'm a bit skeptical considering that it's been years since Bard was successful as a starter. Ultimately, I think it'll come down to fastball command more than the offspeed pitches he can put out there. If Bard can hit his spots sitting 92-94, he should be a passable mid-rotation guy, especially given the Red Sox defense.
Ed (Foxboro): If you were forced to choose between the two, would you rather have Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum?
Daniel Rathman: I'm assuming you're asking which of the two, if one had to go, I'd want the Giants to sign to a long-term deal. The answer to that is Cain. I have a lot more faith in Cain's ability to provide value commensurate with his salaries over a 5-6 year deal than Lincecum's, and Cain's style is a perfect fit for AT&T. Plus, the country music fan in me would miss Cain's entrance songs, which are annually my favorite on the team.
Andrew Stoeten (drunkjaysfans.com): Brett Lawrie, Career MLB All-Star Appearances, 2.5, Over or Under?
Daniel Rathman: The smart money on these bets is almost always the under, but Lawrie is a rare exception for me. I think what he showed last year is very real, and assuming that he stays at third base, he has a chance to be one of the top three at the position in the American League for a long, long time.
Cody (Indianapolis): Do you see Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui finding jobs anytime soon?
Daniel Rathman: Their best bet is probably an injury somewhere during spring training. I found Jon Heyman's tweets tying Damon to the Orioles yesterday rather comical, and a possible indication that there is literally zero interest in his services right now. There's just no logical fit in Baltimore, and if that's where Heyman (and Boras) are currently pitching Damon, they're out of ideas.
Matt Moore (Tampa Bay): Am I the real deal already? Or am I still a year or two away?
Daniel Rathman: My boldest award prediction of the year: Matt Moore, AL Cy Young. I'll probably regret it, but I'm going all-in on him.
Dave (Pasadena): The MLB 2k12 hate is really bad this year. I know The Show is better, but geesch! Waaaay too much bile spewed at 2K. Opinion?
Daniel Rathman: I've always preferred The Show, and have only really played 2K12 once. Any game with Gary Thorne broadcasting ... I just can't get behind that.
Bobby (San Jose): Will you be getting the new iPad? How good is MLB.TV?
Daniel Rathman: Loyal MLB.TV customer here. Indispensable for me, being a Giants fan in Boston and craving Kruk and Kuip every night. And if y'all want to set up a fund to get me an iPad, I'm in!
Tim (scottsdale): Along those lines, do you think the stricter rules about draft bonuses and international money will lead to better evaluation of (more inexpensive) players at lower levels?
Daniel Rathman: It's definitely going to change the way teams approach the draft, and it'll be interesting to see the impact it has on the college level. I'm curious if D3 schools will see more talent, and thus more scouting, than they have in the past if the number of players signing out of high school drops. It'll probably take a few years for us to see the overall impact of the change.
Harry (Boise): Is signing McClutch long term the Buccos way of telling us those stud pitchers they got coming up thru the farm will be game changers?
Daniel Rathman: I don't think the two are necessarily related. Keeping McCutchen in Pittsburgh was probably the most significant think the Pirates could have done to keep fans interested. They certainly need those pitchers to come up and fill out the rotation in order to contend during McCutchen's prime, but getting McCutchen to commit his future to the franchise -- and lock-in his salaries for budgeting purposes -- was step one in a long process.
chiefsalsa (Utah): Hanley hit a HR today and had an E-5. Is this a season preview?
Daniel Rathman: It'll take Hanley some time to adjust to third base, but I don't think the errors will be as much of a problem come this summer. I do see a rebound offensively, and am estimating a 25 HR/30 SB upside when drafting him in fantasy leagues.
Joe Morgan (Unemployment): Is it possible Sunday Night Baseball can survive without me adding nothing to any broadcast?
Daniel Rathman: Things will be consistently better on a consistent basis. In all seriousness, I'm a big fan of the booth ESPN has now, as Dan Shulman is my favorite play-by-play broadcaster in the business.
Dennis Castro (NY, NY): What are your thoughts on Eduardo Nunez long-term?
Daniel Rathman: Get the hell outta my office!
Well, I suppose I'll answer your question first. I see Nunez as a better version of Mike Aviles long-term. I don't think he'll ever be an everyday player for the Yankees, but I could see him as a fill-in at multiple positions who mashes lefties and offers a useful power/speed combination off the bench.
chiefsalsa (Utah): Being an MLB.TV guy, who is your Top 3 broadcast teams? (Vin Scully don't count) Me: 1. Sutton and Grace (AZ) 2. Cohen, Darling, Keith (NYM)3. Breme and Blyleven (Min)
Daniel Rathman: 1. Kuiper and Krukow (Bias!)
2. I'm with you on Sutton and Grace (mostly for Daron Sutton)
3. Len Kasper and Bob Brenly (big fan of Kasper)
You'll probably notice based on my choices that I weigh the play-by-play man far more heavily than the color guy.
Hollandaise Honcho (LA): Is Buster Posey going to be a catcher long-term, or is the switch to 1B/OF inevitable?
Daniel Rathman: If I had my way, health would be the only thing that would move him away from catcher, and it'd have to be an issue that truly prevents him from catching. I'm open to him filling in at first base to rest his legs on occasion, but enough of his value is tied into catching that I wouldn't move him from there unless I really had to.
Bill Simmons (ESPN Headquarters at LA Live): Do the Red Sox have a chance at 95 wins this season?
Daniel Rathman: I've got them pegged at around 90-92, which means that 95 is possible without much of a leap. The pitching staff is a major question mark, but I think the collapse has led to people understating the quality of the Sox' offense. That said, they are most likely the third-best team in the AL East.
Marinara Magnate (Italy): Andres Torres: Legitimate CF for the Mets or a fourth outfielder? Everybody seems to off the bandwagon even though he was arguably an MVP candidate two years ago.
Daniel Rathman: I'm going to miss Torres a lot. His defense in center is enough for me to think that he's at least a second-division starter, particularly given the cavernous Citi Field outfield, but he's probably not the everyday answer for the Mets when they finally return to contention.
Ed (Foxboro): From your time in Boston, are you in the "Fenway is a treasure" camp or are you like me in the "its a dump with terrible sightlines and the seats are too small" tear it down camp?
Daniel Rathman: Love the atmosphere at Fenway and I don't know if you can reproduce that anywhere. That said, I'll take AT&T any day of the week. *DUCKS*
Seth (Boston): Which team is going to win the Stanley Cup this season?
Daniel Rathman: My devoted hockey fandom started and ended when I was little and endlessly intrigued by this guy named "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH" in goal for the Avalanche. I love the excitement of the playoffs, but can't pretend to have a clue about who's going to take the Cup.
Curtis Hall (Boston): What's that smell?
Daniel Rathman: You don't want to know.
Tim (San Francisco): Is this the year that Matt Cain overtakes Tim Lincecum as the Giants ace in the rotation?
Daniel Rathman: This is the year that Madison Bumgarner overtakes both of them.
Shawn (Carmichael Hall): Have you seen any pro prospects in your time covering the NESCAC? I know some Trinity guys have gotten drafted
Daniel Rathman: I've seen a couple of them play live, which was pretty cool. Jeremiah Bayer and Sean Killeen are the two I can name off the top of my head, though I can't see either of them as more than organizational filler.
K-19 (UM): Pick the AL central 2 to 5. I say KC, Chic, Cleve, Minne. KC wins 85 games this year.
Daniel Rathman: CLE, KC, CWS, MIN. I think the Royals are a year away from really jumping into the mix.
Daniel Rathman (Curtis Hall): What position would I play if I could have my choice?
Daniel Rathman: OK, now this is really getting creepy. I'm outta here. Thanks for stopping by, everyone!
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