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Chat: Sam Miller

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday March 26, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with Sam Miller.

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With Opening Day fast approaching, Sam Miller drops by to dispense information and say funny things.

Sam Miller: Good day, everybody. If you never adjusted your calendar for Leap Day and you're expecting the Paul DePodesta chat, you're a day early so we'll just have to make the best of it. We can talk about anything: The 2012 season, the fantasy draft you have scheduled for tonight, Paul DePodesta, Russell Branyan, my first day working here, whatever. Preference given to questions asking me to make extremely specific predictions for the coming season, because baseball is so predictable and I love to predict it.

dangor (New York): Who do you think will be the biggest bust this year, hitter and pitcher?

Sam Miller: Hard to top 2011 Jason Heyward for surprises, but I'll say Neftali Feliz as a pitcher. Jose Reyes as a hitter.

Erix (Toronto): What was your first reaction when you heard about the Vernon Wells trade?

Sam Miller: First reaction was that they would be getting something else back, like Kyle Drabek or $50 million or both, and it just hadn't been announced. Second reaction was that Vernon Wells and Juan Rivera were awfully close to the same player. Third was like that feeling you get when some drugged-out celebrity dies, that sorrowful realization that they finally reached that tragic end that we all worried about but watched happen without doing anything to stop it. They had traded Mike Napoli for nothing. For less than nothing. For, basically, a $50 million loss. That night was more exciting to me, in a way, than the morning the Angels signed Pujols and Wilson. Staring into the abyss and all that.

Big Al (Minnesota): Do you think way too many things will have to go right for the Twins to compete in their division this year?

Sam Miller: I just saw the betting lines in the Bellagio's sports book this weekend, and all the second-tier AL Central teams have had their odds get way better since the start of the offseason, which is odd because none of them did anything. Apparently, the money thinks that division is sort of open to a bad team. A lot of mediocre arms would need to allow .220 BABIPs this year for the Twins to have a shot, and I don't think the Twins' defense is good enough to support that. I have 'em finishing fourth, behind the Indians and Royals.

Jeff (Dallas): Angels/Rangers second best rivalry in baseball right now?

Sam Miller: I do think that rivalries get hot very fast now, because of the Twitter and the interaction between fan bases and the fact that every perceived insult is televised and talked about. So, even without a long history between them -- Nolan Ryan is really the only thing that links the rivalry to the past -- it has become a really good feud really quickly. On the other hand, they haven't really played a lot of super meaningful games against each other, because none of the division races have been very close over the past five years. They need a defining weekend series this September.

Eric (ON): What are your expectations for Brandon Belt this year, both in terms of how he's handled by the Giants and his production if he gets PT?

Sam Miller: I think he'll play. He only needs one of the four guys blocking him to have an awful April, and none of the four guys blocking him (Nate, Melky, Pagan, Huff) are without flaws. Production: .265/.365/.465, 16 HR

ian the vegan (Oakland): Actual baseball-related question: Have the Giants done irreparable damage to Brandon Belt's development already? People are already speculating he won't break camp with the big club. As young Jimmy said in "Prospects and You," "I have a crazy friend who says it's wrong to give playing time to promisign rookies. Is he crazy?"

Sam Miller: I don't like his plate discipline trends since they started jacking him around. I also think prospects are very rarely damaged by their teams the way that we imagine. Baseball's just sort of crazy and things go wrong with even the best.

Carlo (SF): Predictions (in terms of both performance and contract situations) for Matt Cain and Cole Hamels? Feel like either could be their team's best starter.

Sam Miller: Hamels better than Cain this year, neither his team's best starter or second-best starter this year, Hamels hits free agency but re-signs with the Phillies for the same basic deal Halladay has, Cain hits free agency and signs with St. Louis for 5/$85 million.

will.I.ain't (Holding pattern): Let's try something fantasy related. Who gets the better end of Pablo Sandoval for Bonafacio/Alexi Ramirez?

Sam Miller: Getting past the it-depends-on-the-league caveat, I'd take Sandoval and a roster spot in any league that's not absurdly deep.

Guillermo (Montevideo, Uruguay): Hi Sam! Over/Under on Joba's IP/GS for the rest of his career? I think hes just cursed. Maybe the Curse of the Bugs?

Sam Miller: That's a good one. I think he'll start 150 games or so, none with the Yankees. I like betting against curses.

Bryan (Chicago): How do you think Paul Goldschmidt will do this season?

Sam Miller: I'd take the under on the first two-thirds of PECOTA's .248/.324/.474. Trumbo's 2011 line isn't a bad guess for him.

J. Shepard (California): You have to chose to either save Russell Branyan or Mike Napoli from an old timey movie villain. And you have 30 seconds to decide. Go!

Sam Miller: I really need to see this visually to decide. Go!

Jon KK (Elkhart, Ind.): Predictions for where Cubs OFers Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd land with in-season trades?

Sam Miller: Byrd to the Giants, maybe Boston. Soriano still won't be movable.

j (Berkeley): Quick! Give me an amazing Barry Bonds fact.

Sam Miller: From 2001 to 2004, Barry Bonds slugged over .600 when he was behind in the count.

scareduck (Temporarily Tempe, AZ): How soon are the Angels going to regret that contract for Albert Pujols?

Sam Miller: There are two ways to read the question. One is how soon Albert Pujols will be overpaid, so how soon the Angels will wish they no longer had the contract. The answer to that is probably... year six, when I think he projects to drop below 4 wins, or year seven, when he drops under 3. But the other way is how soon they'll actually regret signing him, and I actually don't know that they will until at least year 9 or 10. He should be good enough that even if he ends up overpaid by the win, everybody around the club will at least be glad to have him in the lineup, and they're a team that can absorb a bad contract or two without feeling much pinch.

JJ (MPLS ): Prediction for Brandon Allen this year? Does he bust out?

Sam Miller: No. I bet he doesn't finish the season on Oakland's 40-man roster.

Joe H. (Washington, DC): If you're the Yankees, how panicked are you about Michael Pineda at this point?

Sam Miller: If I'm the Yankees, I know a lot more information so my answer would be better. But I don't think they need to feel much panic about this year -- the drop-off from Pineda to Garcia or Pettitte really isn't that big this year -- and I haven't seen anything that suggests he's got anything superduper serious going on. So no panic at all. Might even throw a party this afternoon, and invite all my friends. I'm the Yankees wooooohoooo!

Christopher (Tennessee): Number of Chipper PAs? 250?

Sam Miller: Over. Shoot, I'll say he makes the All-Star team and everything.

Prime (NY): Hosmer or Lawrie...who has better 2012 numbers and what do you project them to be?

Sam Miller: I'll take Hosmer raw numbers, Lawrie WARP and Lawrie for your fantasy team.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Tell us your favorite Jeff Mathis story.

Sam Miller: All of these details will be slightly off because I'm going from memory, but the basic facts are: In the 2009 ALCS, the Angels were playing the Yankees and Mathis doubles to lead off the tenth inning of a tie game. Scioscia sacrifices, so he's on third with one out. Doesn't pinch-run Willits for him. Instead, leaves him in, and Napoli on the bench. Next batter grounds to first, but it was a tough play, I think the first baseman had to dive, but Mathis was the runner and Mathis is slowish so Mathis doesn't score. I'm alllll up on the Internet being like "Man that move is going to define Mike Scioscia for 50 years" and stuff. Run doesn't score, game goes on, 20 minutes later I had to leave the park for another engagement, and as I'm walking out I hear a massive roar. No radio in my car. Call a friend, find out Mathis doubled home the winning run. Get to a computer 15 minutes later and everybody who has ever hated me has gone onto the blog post I'd written with some variation of "Wrong again, dumbskull." It was great.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Tell us your favorite Jeff Mathis story.

Sam Miller: All of these details will be slightly off because I'm going from memory, but the basic facts are: In the 2009 ALCS, the Angels were playing the Yankees and Mathis doubles to lead off the tenth inning of a tie game. Scioscia sacrifices, so he's on third with one out. Doesn't pinch-run Willits for him. Instead, leaves him in, and Napoli on the bench. Next batter grounds to first, but it was a tough play, I think the first baseman had to dive, but Mathis was the runner and Mathis is slowish so Mathis doesn't score. I'm alllll up on the Internet being like "Man that move is going to define Mike Scioscia for 50 years" and stuff. Run doesn't score, game goes on, 20 minutes later I had to leave the park for another engagement, and as I'm walking out I hear a massive roar. No radio in my car. Call a friend, find out Mathis doubled home the winning run. Get to a computer 15 minutes later and everybody who has ever hated me has gone onto the blog post I'd written with some variation of "Wrong again, dumbskull." It was great.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Tell us your favorite Jeff Mathis story.

Sam Miller: All of these details will be slightly off because I'm going from memory, but the basic facts are: In the 2009 ALCS, the Angels were playing the Yankees and Mathis doubles to lead off the tenth inning of a tie game. Scioscia sacrifices, so he's on third with one out. Doesn't pinch-run Willits for him. Instead, leaves him in, and Napoli on the bench. Next batter grounds to first, but it was a tough play, I think the first baseman had to dive, but Mathis was the runner and Mathis is slowish so Mathis doesn't score. I'm alllll up on the Internet being like "Man that move is going to define Mike Scioscia for 50 years" and stuff. Run doesn't score, game goes on, 20 minutes later I had to leave the park for another engagement, and as I'm walking out I hear a massive roar. No radio in my car. Call a friend, find out Mathis doubled home the winning run. Get to a computer 15 minutes later and everybody who has ever hated me has gone onto the blog post I'd written with some variation of "Wrong again, dumbskull." It was great.

Jquinton82 (NY): When do we see Bauer hit the bigs?

Sam Miller: Second favorite Jeff Mathis story is when I accidentally submitted that three times.

I hate to just assume this for every top prospect, but I assume he's up in late June like the rest of 'em. And Wade Miley gets the starts when Joe Saunders or Josh Collmenter goes down early.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): What's it like behind the chat curtain? I imagine lots of huge 1950's style computers with big multi-colored blinking lights and lots of "Beep! Boop!" and you have to sit strapped in to a huge chair with a colander on your head and wires running every which way. That about right?

Sam Miller: It's more like "Boop! Beep!" but you're close. The first two times I've done these I've been flooded with questions like "Brooklyn Decker or Kate Upton." Today, though, it's all baseball. My little boy's all growns up.

ivynora (Northern VA): Who has the worse season, the Mets or Dodgers? I mean on the field, not with the lawyers and such. Both are uninspiring with a small and declining number of entertaining players. Kershaw and Kemp >> Wright and Johan...does it ever get better for the Metropolitans?

Sam Miller: Boy. I'm really down on the Dodgers. But on the other hand I'm pretty bullish on the rest of the non-Met NL East. Eeeeeeeek I'll say the Dodgers have the worse season.

Dan the Man (Ann Arbor): Can you answer scareduck's question again, except insert "Tigers" instead of "Angels" and "Prince" instead of "Albert"?

Sam Miller: They'll start having second thoughts by 2013 and boondoggle by 2015. Count me as one of the Cabrera-at-third skeptics.

will.I.ain't (Holding pattern): NL only. Who has a better season Chad Billingsley, Kyle Lohse, Clayton Richard, Josh Collmenter? Looking to find a late round value.

Sam Miller: Billingsley, for upside and floor.

Johnny (San Diego): Number of games started by Aroldis Chapman in a Reds uniform this season? Ever?

Sam Miller: A dozen this year. 120 with the Reds forever.

chosen one (some pine, grabbed): When do we see Gary Brown, and will he get the jacking around treatment too.

Sam Miller: You might consider having to spend the last month of the last minor league season in the Cal League a little bit of a jack. Promotion seemed in order. I'll say no September call-up, big leagues around the All-Star break in 2013.

ian the vegan (Oakland): Do I really have a fantasy draft scheduled for tonight? There's nothing in my google calendar about it.

Sam Miller: You have a fantasy fantasy draft tonight. Just gonna chill out with some cold beers, go into a dark room and imagine all the value picks you're getting in your imaginary 11th round. Can't believe Greinke is still there for you!

ImranQ (newbury park): when will bobby abreu be released?

Sam Miller: Thought it was unthinkable a month ago, but it's getting ugly in a hurry. Uhhhhh maybe they unload him on the Marlins and eat $7 million? Is that doable? Can't recall Marlins' fourth OF. Rowand?

chiefsalsa (Utah): The streets of the Bronx are littlered with the bodies of pitchers who did not pan out. Why be excited for Pineada and Kuroda?

Sam Miller: I guess this is a philosophical question about whether a nice steak dinner is more enjoyable if you're poor and really need to food or if you're rich and have the luxury of knowing you can waste it because there's more coming tomorrow. I think it's like Rick Ross says: "Have you ever made love to the woman of your dreams in a room full of money out in London and she screamed?" Think about it. Think about it longer.

Wrapping up pretty soon here...

chet (omaha): cubs, 90 losses, why not?

Sam Miller: No reason why not. Awful. Their July trade deadline is going to be hopping.

Jerome (T Hills): Great chat, I am really enjoying all the chats on the website lately. I am drafting Thursday for a NL only league. My sleeper pitcher pick is Juan Nicasio. Good, bad, or other?

Sam Miller: Multiple Juan Nicasio questions. Good sleeper because your other fantasy league managers are going to get all excited and try to trade for him if he happens to start 6-0. Bad sleeper because everything needs to break right for sleepers to pay off, and you just add a lousy ballpark in as another variable against you. He's not great, though, if that's what you're asking, and you'll find just as good on the waiver wire.

Jon KK (Elkhart, Ind.): Brooklyn Dodgers or Justin Upton?

Sam Miller: This year, Upton.

Matt (Malone, NY): Dodgers - with Kershaw and Kemp and an easier divison - worse than the Mets?! Wow...the Mets wont win 70 games.

Sam Miller: Yeah, it's not hard to talk me into that position.

TWSS (TWSS): TWSS

Sam Miller: TWSS

Jon (New York): Other than Harper, are there any NL players that will start the year in the minors that you would draft? (10 team NL/non-keeper/two bench spots)

Sam Miller: Probably not. Rizzo will be worth owning but I doubt you need to stash him, and I'm guess Mesoraco starts in the majors. It's a weak year for NL rookies. The NL Rookie of the Year might not be as good as the fifth or sixth best in the AL.

Johnson (MN): Does Huston Street finish the year as the Padres CL? Who would take his spot should he get hurt?

Sam Miller: Yes. Cashner probably but look it up somewhere before you act on that.

Or Moyal (Dallas): Why the negative projection for Jose Reyes?

Sam Miller: Eh, it's not like I'm betting on his collapse. But unknown park, team switch, older legs, injury history, not all that good in 2009-2010 and coming off an extreme outlier season offensively.

Jordan (Great White North): Thinking of taking a late flier on Luis E. Heredia from the Pirates, do you like his upside at all?

Sam Miller: Sure, but how long are you planning to be in this league? The kid is two and a half years younger than Totally Krossed Out. You're talking about hanging onto him for five years before getting anything out of him. Do you really trust your league to be around in five or six years?

Look Closer (some where between Texas and San Fran): Who gets more saves this year? Mike Adams or Sergio Romo?

Sam Miller: Adams.

Frederick (roaming): With spring training news that the shoulder of Scott Rolen actually appears healthy, is he worth a role of the dice in Cincy's lineup? Seems like rbi's and average could be alright in a NL 4x4.

Sam Miller: He's not, but that means Frazier now isn't worth a roll of the dice, either.

ImranQ (newbury park Ca): Where is reggie willits?

Sam Miller: 90 percent sure he's still in the Angels system but not on the 40-man. So, Salt Lake.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): On a scale of 1-10, 1 being 'Dig My Own Grave And Jump On In' and 10 being 'OMG I Just Saw Justin Bieber!' as a Red Sox fan, how excited should I be about having Nick Punto in the Red Sox lineup?

Sam Miller: Not excited but almost every team in baseball has a worse position than the Red Sox' shortstop. Like, 27 or 28 teams do. The Giants might have three or four positions worse than the Red Sox' shortstop, and the Giants are my pick in the NL.

JP (Oakland): Jemile Weeks as a top 5 second baseman in 2012, agree or disagree?

Sam Miller: Disagree. Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler, Weeks, Phillips, Zobrist (if we're talking fantasy), Kendrick etc. He's more like in the Neil Walker tier.

Tango (Seattle): I am betting on Tim Hudson / Ted Lilly in my deep league (20*35) in CBS. Tell me something I can hope for in the 2nd half of season.

Sam Miller: Neither one will be on a team-imposed innings limit? Really, though, drafting Ted Lilly is a sign of a smart fantasy manager. Or an autodrafter, I guess.

antonsirius (Toronto): How many games does Giancarlo have to spot the rest of the NL field to give them a fighting chance at the home run crown?

Sam Miller: 35.

Guillermo (Montevideo, Uruguay): Thanks for the response Sam! This chat is going really smooth. Care for another prediction maybe? Strasburg's line this season: IP, H, BB, HR, ER... well, you get the idea. (Bonus points for predicting QS, no-hitters and the like)

Sam Miller: Nats in contention, Strasburg pitches until the end of September, 205 IP, 245 Ks, 2.57 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, Cy Young. Let's go crazy!

Dusty Baker (Cinncy): Speaking of Devin Mesoraco, I haven't decide who is calling the game yet. I actually think Ryan Hanigan deserves the time split, am I wrong?

Sam Miller: We probably don't know enough about what his pitchers are telling him, and how much those things matter. Hanigan's not a zero and a split wouldn't be Dusty's worst move.

chrisbarncard (Madison): Is Brandon Wood going to find a spot on the Rockies' roster? His walkess, K-filled spring seems ominous.

Sam Miller: Guessing he makes the roster, not guessing he does much with it.

Sam Miller: Sorry to leave some unanswered, but I'm calling it. See you guys next time.


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