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Chat: Bradley Ankrom

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday April 17, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with Bradley Ankrom.

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The author of "The Process" and the Research Mailbag stops by for his inaugural BP chat.

Bradley Ankrom: Hey everyone, thanks for joining me on this lovely Tuesday afternoon. Let's get started.

Doug (Michigan): Hey Bradley, Plugging away studying for finals, but wanted to quickly stop by and thank you for bestowing upon us the Top Prospect Stats pages. Truly an awesome tool.

Bradley Ankrom: Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad folks are finding those pages useful, and I've already lots of suggestions for how we can make them even more useful.

Beannation (Toronto): Tampa needs a long term catcher, Jays need a 200 innings starter, can they get over the intradivisional BS and work out a mutually beneficial trade.

Bradley Ankrom: Do any of Tampa Bay's available starters qualify as an innings eater? Outside of R.J. Anderson, I'm probably the biggest Jeff Niemann believer out there, but I don't know how comfortable I'd be predicting his body to hold up over the long haul. Davis, while durable, has regressed in each of the last two seasons. I think d'Arnaud's early struggles in Las Vegas relax any urgency to deal Arencibia that Toronto may have felt.

AznAlan (Toronto): Which guy that isn't a Top 50 prospect right now has the best chance to be a Top 20 by season's end, in your opinion?

Bradley Ankrom: Nick Castellanos is quickly usurping Matt Dominguez as my 3B mancrush du jour, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him ranked among the game's elite prospects after this year. He isn't likely to hit 25 home runs spending his summer in the Florida State League, but scouts I've talked to think he's starting to learn how to tap into his natural strength.

AznAlan (Toronto): Loving the Top 101 stats. Can you add K/BB in there? Seems hugely important for prospects, no?

Bradley Ankrom: It's in there for both hitters and pitchers under the SO/BB heading.

Geer (Birmingham, AL): Is there anyone out there who can ship the Orioles a glove-first 3B? Please? Seriously, what might be available for trade with the obvious defensive shortcomings the Birds are dealing with at third? And wouldn't a team with such young starters be better off having a strong defense to give them confidence (a la the early 90's Braves)?

Bradley Ankrom: Speaking of Dominguez, I've been an advocate of someone buying low on him and seeing if a change of scenery/instruction could make a difference in his bat. He's got the glove to handle third base in Baltimore (or anywhere) now, though. You mentioned the early-90s Braves as an example of young pitchers benefiting from a strong defense... how about the current Rays as another example?

ttt (Manhattan): The Top 101 and Top 11 tracker is awesome! Do you think you would be able to compile all of the Top 11s (well, 20s, as you've included it all) into one sheet for hitters and pitchers?

Bradley Ankrom: Sure: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/docs/ankrom/top_11_all.csv

drakeccampbell (Chicago): Has there ever been a study on how much more effective pitching from the windup is as opposed to pitching from the stretch? Why do some relievers exclusively pitch from the stretch?

Bradley Ankrom: I can't think of one off the top of my head, but let's see if any of our readers are familiar with such a study...

Paul (DC): In a Washington Post letter to the editor yesterday, a reader scoffed at Dave Johnson limiting Strasburg in his second start of the season to only 6 innings and 100 pitches. The reader brought up Don Newcombe's very amazing September 6, 1950 performance of pitching a complete game and then throwing another 7 innings to start the second game of a double header. The reader wondered what Newk would think about Strasburg. So what are the Process' current thoughts on pitch counts? And what would be a snappy response should I ever have the "Newk" card thrown at me in a baseball debate?

Bradley Ankrom: Piitch counts are useless without context, and I think they're a little overblown in the MSM (though not as much as innings totals). We all know that Roy Halladay throwing 120 pitches isn't the same as Max Scherzer throwing 120 pitches, but the reasons *why* they aren't equivalent can't be gleaned from simply looking at a box score.

jr (mass): Im wondering after all the "overhyped" red sox prospects am i foolish to get excited by will middlebrooks,xander bogaerts and brandon jacobs? Thoughts??

Bradley Ankrom: Who are these "overhyped" prospects of which you speak? A quick glance at Kevin's Top 11s shows that the 2007 list had Ellsbury, Pedroia, Bard,and Buchholz, 2008 had Ellsbury, Reddick, Masterson (and Middlebrooks), etc. I suppose Lars Anderson could qualify as a bust, but he's still only 24. What happened with Ryan Westmoreland couldn't have been predicted, so I'd be uncomfortable calling him overhyped. They dealt Rizzo and Kelly to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez, and those guys are still playing well. If I'm a Red Sox fan, I'm happy with the job they've done in developing players for their own roster as well as leveraging extra talent to acquire other pieces.

ian (Oakland): Why were you late for your 1st chat? Don't you know you only have once chance to make a first impression?

Bradley Ankrom: Productive Pouts strikes again!

AznAlan (Toronto): Yeah... disregard. I hadn't had my coffee yet when I was perusing the new page. My bad, nice work!

Bradley Ankrom: Excuses are lies we tell ourselves. A fortune cookie told me that. Wise dessert.

mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Hey Bradley. The first ten days of the Bobby Valentine Era in Boston haven't been the most smooth. Starting pitchers staying well past their due dates, calling out well-liked hard working players in the media, and lets not forget installing Nick Punto and Mike Aviles in the lead-off spot. Tell me it's going to get better.

Bradley Ankrom: At what point do we start blaming the players for some of the clubhouse chaos occurring in Boston? Yeah, I know My Bobby Valentine (if I keep saying it, it will catch on, yeah?) has made some, shall we say, "curious" decisions since the start of the season, but this is two highly-regarded and well-respected skippers they've turned against in less than a year. Who are the leaders in the Red Sox clubhouse?

myshkin (Santa Clara): The new prospect stat pages are so pretty... Is there a way to add easy context to the stat lines, perhaps via OPS+/ERA+ or something similar, to avoid needing to make mental adjustments for comparisons like High Desert/Cal League vs. Jupiter/FSL?

Bradley Ankrom: Yes. I'm glad you asked about this. We have to be mindful of those with narrower monitors, so horizontal real estate is somewhat limited, but employing some principles of flexible design could enable us to add deeper stats like OPS+, ERA+, FRA+, etc. for users with the space to accommodate the additional columns. Great suggestion.

chiefsalsa (Utah): I was thinking of giving up roto baseball for crack. Is this progression or regression?

Bradley Ankrom: That depends upon your history of crack usage.

Mark (Omaha): Do we see Matt Adams up this year? Is he the everyday 1st baseman next year?

Bradley Ankrom: I'm convinced he'll hit enough to warrant a promotion, but as long as Berkman is healthy(ish), Adams is better off getting regular at-bats in Memphis. Historically, at least during the TLR regime, St. Louis has been willing to let youngsters earn starting jobs, even unheralded guys like Freese, Greene, and Jay. If he hits, I think Adams will play.

Matt (Chicago): Outside of Rizzo and Jackson, do you see anyone in the CHC organization with potential to make the jump in the near term? Vitters? Castillo?

Bradley Ankrom: Rizzo and Jackson both have significant flaws that prevent me from being sold on them as productive major leaguers. I actually like Castillo the most out of the guys you mentioned, and wouldn't be terribly surprised if his development enables Chicago to flip Soto once his bat picks up (which it undoubtedly will, since this is an even-numbered year).

Tom (Reno): Lincecum is done. He can't hit 93 and you can read his breaking stuff. Sayonara!

Bradley Ankrom: I hope this means he's available for birthday parties.

jr (mass): To follow up with my last question i was talking about the stigma of " so-so is the next big thing and will be the savior". Ellsbury pedroia bucholz were great job by the scouting dept. Westmoreland u never saw it coming and am glad he is doing great. I mean look we overvalue our prospects more than any other team. I mean comparing sean coyle to pedroia is nuts!!!. Now they saying bogaerts comparable to machado...bogaerts might move positions. Am i wrong?,,

Bradley Ankrom: Eh, the (misguided) Pedroia comp on Coyle was inevitable considering his size and organization. As an intelligent fan, you know it's ridiculous, so it isn't worth getting worked up over on message boards. I wouldn't say the Red Sox overvalue their prospects -- they've clearly been willing to move talent to augment the major-league roster -- but you could make a case for their prospects being a bit overexposed. Which is always going to happen when you're in one of the most populous cities on the planet.

H (NY): who was your favorite players growing up and why?

Bradley Ankrom: I spent a bit of time living in Maryland, so I grew fond of Cal....vin Pickering.

I don't know if I ever had a de facto "favorite" player, but I certainly enjoyed watching Tony Gwynn hit and Randy Johnson pitch.

Andre (Houston): What player will Mike Trout most resemble (in terms of production) over the next 2-3 years? When will the Angels be forced to make him an everyday OF for the big club?

Bradley Ankrom: I am as optimistic as anyone about Trout's future, but how often have we seen guys come up and take longer to make adjustments than we had expected? Probably not the best example, but how many people called Matt Wieters a bust when he didn't hit .300/.400/.500 in 2010?

Bad Rankrom (NYC): help my fantasy season is failing after 10 days, what should i do?

Bradley Ankrom: Trade for Tim Lincecum.

chiefsalsa (Utah): But seriously, Freddie Galvis. Shut down Utley for the year and let this kid flourish. Opinion?

Bradley Ankrom: If Utley can play, you want him on the field. He'll never be 100% healthy again, so get the most out of him while you can. I like Galvis, but the Phillies need to score runs and the bulk of Galvis' value is tied to his defense, not his bat.

basicslop (Albuquerque): Ok, it's too early to be worried about a guy, is it too early to be excited about a player?

Bradley Ankrom: If a player is showing marked improvement in some fundamental aspect of his game -- like, if Delmon Young were suddenly drawing walks -- it's fair to be optimistic, sure. Citing a player's batting average or a pitcher's ERA in mid-April as the basis of an argument for player X "taking a step forward" is where you're likely to get into trouble.

Mike (Chicago): Talk me off a ledge here, you see flaws in brett jackson and anthony rizzo, fine so do I. Other teams are locking up good players past their free agent date leaving less talent available on that market. The current cub roster is pretty awful. MLB has capped draft and foreign free agent spending. How do the cubs get any better if there's no path to acquire even expensive talent?

Bradley Ankrom: The new restrictions on draft spending may force teams to be more creative, but there will still be plenty of talent available. Look at how much progress the Padres made in the year Hoyer and McLeod were there. That's an organization whose top prospects have historically skewed toward conservative, high-likelihood guys who lacked impact potential. Hoyer and McLeod added depth and upside, and I'm sure they'll find similar success in Chicago, in spite of the new draft rules.

Also, isn't it dangerous to be on a ledge in the Windy City?

Paul (DC): Which is a bigger logjam for Trout getting promoted to the bigs? Service time or plethora of aging overpriced OFers on the Angels roster?

Bradley Ankrom: The latter.

Geer (Bham): Is it possible to gush too much about Rick Ankiel? Better story than The Natural...and my God what an arm.

Bradley Ankrom: I don't know... it's nice to see Ankiel earning a living after his pitching days came to an end, but I think I'll always think about what could have been.

michaelmcduffe (ottawa): Is it credible to see Matt Carpenter finding ABs at 2B? He's blocked at the corners, and while they did stick him in the OF once presumably Craig will find ABs there when he returns. The guys playing 2B, Descalso and Greene, seem more like bench players being exposed by regular playing time. Why not find out if Carpenter can play 2B too?

Bradley Ankrom: It's fair to be optimistic about his bat, but I don't know if it's so good that you sacrifice right-side defense to get it into the lineup.

Geer (Birmingham, AL): Ron Darling had a pretty good rant the other day about pitch counts and babying pitchers and how Strasburg was handled delicately and still had TJ surgery...what are your thoughts on Darling's position in general, and whether teams are doing themselves a disservice by holding down the next Feller-Seaver-Gooden wunderkind (a generality to be sure, but hopefully you get the point)?

Bradley Ankrom: While I would love to see more Halladay and Verlander types out there, the game has evolved in such a way those kinds of workhorses aren't really necessary. The quality of the bullpen arms a manager has at his disposal has increased significantly over the last 30 years, meaning it's likely that a fresh reliever > 70% of your starting pitcher, which wasn't typically the case in Feller's prime.

Mike (Chicago): Ledges here are fine, the Windy City thing is about our politicians, who I have sent in a paycheck for a couple of them today, not our weather. Kinda ruins my whole day to write that check...so who makes the playoffs first, the astros, cubs, mets or orioles, and in what year?

Bradley Ankrom: Cubs, 2015.

Andy Mc (Toronto ): Anything on Jays prospect DeSclafani? Further, is the Lansing rotation over performing, this good, or is it too early to say?

Bradley Ankrom: I love the arms in Lansing, but I do suspect one of them will give up an earned run at some point. Out of DeSclafani, Nicolino, Sanchez, and Syndergaard, DeSclafani is the one most likely to wind up in the bullpen. I'm looking forward to seeing at least one or two of those guys in Dunedin later this summer.

Matt (Malone, NY): Are there any decent shortstops in the high minors that might be promoted soon to the bigs?

Bradley Ankrom: Does Tim Beckham qualify as decent? Most of the other guys playing in AA or above -- Profar, Machado, Lee, etc. -- are blocked to some degree.

Chris (KC): How is Hak-Ju Lee more blocked than Tim Beckham? They are in the same organization.

Bradley Ankrom: Lee is a level below Beckham in the org.

Chris (KC): Why should we gush about Rick Ankiel? Decent outfielder, great arm, but he can't hit his way out of a paper bag. Guys like that are a dime a dozen.

Bradley Ankrom: Human interest. It's a good story, but he'll never be a difference-maker on the field.

Bradley Ankrom: Ok, folks, my dog has been eyeballing me for an hour and it's about time I accede to his demands of a walk around the block. Thanks for all of the questions, we'll do this again soon.


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