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Chat: R.J. Anderson

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday May 07, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with R.J. Anderson.

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BP Transaction Analyst, "Painting the Black" author, and "Game of the Week" revivalist R.J. Anderson offers some Monday afternoon answers to your burning baseball questions.

R.J. Anderson: Hey everyone, let's get going.

William (Pensacola, FL): Early thoughts on Tyler Pastornicky and tha Braves ?

R.J. Anderson: I haven't seen Pastornicky yet, but the numbers aren't too awful. He's currently 12th in True Average amongst shortstops (with 50-plus plate appearances). As for Atlanta, I still think they win the division, even with Washington's start.

John Carter (Toronto - not Mars): Number of pitchers carried on the average 25 man roster of 2015: _____.

R.J. Anderson: Twelve seems like the safe answer. I'd love to say 11, but I wouldn't be surprised at 13. It seems like you see more 13-man staffs nowadays (hello, Kansas City) than 11-man staffs.

LoyalRoyal (Kansas): What kind of production do you see from Brian Dozier now that he's the starter and do you see him holding onto the job?

R.J. Anderson: From what I know about Dozier, he'll be a solid, if unspectacular player. I'm skeptical about his defense at shortstop--he's been described as someone without the arm or range for the position--and frankly, I think Jamey Carroll is better than what he's shown. Still, why not give Dozier a shot if you're Minnesota?

masonstillmatic (tampa): A lot of faith in Matt Moore (and the entire Rays management for that matter), even with his recent struggles. Should the Rays continue to ride him out if his next couple of starts are as rocky? or send him down to Triple-A to make a few more starts and maybe come back after the break?

R.J. Anderson: A demotion seems unlikely. Mooreís situation is akin to David Priceís in 2009. Both shot through the minors, neither seemed fazed by Octoberís bright lights, and both then realized that pitching in the majors fulltime requires adjustments. Even the numbers through six starts are similar:

Price (09): 30.1 IP, 30 H, 22 R, 20 BB, 33 SO, 6 HR, 4.45 ERA
Moore (12): 34.2 IP, 39 H, 23 R, 18 BB, 28 SO, 6 HR, 5.71 ERA

Once Moore makes his adjustments, and you have to trust that he will, everything will be fine. Iím not convinced a trip to the minors helps anyhow. His stuff is too good for minor-league hitters to handle, even if his fastball location is off at times.

Matt (Cherry Hill, NJ): Any thoughts on when Arenado might be called up in Colorado?

R.J. Anderson: Probably later in the year than what people anticipated heading into the season. He's barely 21 and hasn't dominated Double-A yet. Third base is a problem for the Rockies, but I think they might keep Arenado down and allow him to mature more before jumping him to the majors. Avoiding Super Two status would be a nice plus, too.

thomas (columbus): Adam Dunn.

R.J. Anderson: He's looking like his old self again.

LoyalRoyal (Kansas): Now that Pujols has finally hit a HR, do you see him relaxing and producing again? More importantly, if he regains some of his old form, will it help guys like Aybar, Wells, etc... produce better as well?

R.J. Anderson: I'm not too concerned about Pujols, even with the rough start. During the series I saw him, he hit a few line drives into good defensive positioning. Is Pujols likely to have an effect on those other guys? I think him being good again makes them look better by association.

Fred F. (Durham): Would you please write Fernando Rodney's Hall of Fame induction speech? We are happy to wait a few minutes ...

R.J. Anderson: There are some nights where I don't know how the guy ever gets hit. Great arm strength, sells the changeup--which has good fade--and the sinker gets good run. He hasn't missed the slider one bit. I'm not sure if the improved control is here to stay, but if so, he's going to be one of the league's better relievers should he stay healthy.

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): Many of the Daily Hit List teams given a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs have not yet accepted their fate. If all of the July trades need to come from the Cubs, Twins, Padres and Royals, it seems like there will be slim pickings for your transactions page. In chronological order, please list the next 5 teams you expect to awake from their silly dreams of greatness.

R.J. Anderson: Tough question. I'll offer my list in order of trade likelihood, with the top of the list consisting of teams that I wouldn't be shocked if they made a "sell" move today:

1. Cubs - Trading whatever veterans they can is a no brainer.
2. Padres - I don't still don't believe Carlos Quentin is there for the long haul.
3. Astros - I think they're going to ride this run of decency out jut a bit longer.
4. Athletics - What they'll trade is a more interesting question that if they'll trade.
5. Mariners - I wouldn't be shocked if Jason Vargas gets dealt before the deadline.

LoyalRoyal (Kansas): Will Jordan Walden regain the closer role with Scott Downs (and Hawkins) getting injured? Did Scioscia overreact in removing him the role to begin with?

R.J. Anderson: Walden will probably regain the job at some point, if only by default. I enjoyed Sam Miller's piece on Walden's removal. Keep in mind, the Angels liked Walden enough to throw him in the role to begin with. Maybe a few rotten outings changed their mind, but I think it was designed to be a temporary fix and a sign that no job is safe. That's sort of silly, of course, because they aren't going to bench Pujols or Aybar, but baseball teams do weird things for the sake of shaking things up all the time.

Hobart (Washington, DC): Miguel Cairo comes off the DL for the Reds today. Fans are pessimistically expecting them to send Todd Frazier down instead of DFAing Willie Harris. Cause for concern?

R.J. Anderson: Iíd buy it if the stat lines were reversed. As is, I think Frazier stays. Everyone can joke about Dusty Bakerís love of veterans, but heíll play young players if they produce, and Frazier is doing just that right now.

RMR (Chicago): Jay Bruce: Another hot month (see May 2011) or is the long-awaiting breakout finally here?

R.J. Anderson: Bruce isnít going to hit .300/.339/.630 all season. I could see him out-producing last seasonís line (.256/.341/.474), but I think itís unrealistic to expect any player to hold a 950-plus OPS all season when he hasnít shown that ability before.

Dave (NJ): Derek Jeter's been incredible - Comments?

R.J. Anderson: Whatís impressed me the most about Jeterís start is the power. Heís one home run away from tying last seasonís total and weíre in early May. Add in an improved walk-to-strikeout ratio and Jeterís first month has been spectacular, and thatís without mentioning his league-leading amount of hits. A special month from a special player.

LoyalRoyal (Kansas): The closer carousel has already begun. What current closers should be looking over their shoulders and who will they see?

R.J. Anderson: Iíll give you three names:

Most likely: Brett Myers Ė I think heíll be traded and that Fernando Rodriguez or Wilton Lopez take over.

Very likely: Grant Balfour Ė Again, traded. Ryan Cook is the next in line.

The wild card: Fernando Rodney. Kyle Farnsworth could be back in early-to-mid June. Maybe the Rays just slide Farnsworth into the eighth inning spot but I wouldnít be too surprised if they gave Farnsworth the job back and let Rodney go into a set-up role.

Jay (Madison): I'm curious as to your thoughts about the Red Sox/O's game last night. I thought it was really entertaining. Were you shocked that a position player could go 2 scoreless and look that good given he hasn't pitched in 6 years.

R.J. Anderson: Major-league hitters are terrific, so I never anticipate good results when a batter takes the mound. McDonald's outing is more along the lines of what I expect. But give Davis credit, he made up for a putrid day at the plate in the least expected way.

Geoffrey Jeffries (Albany): Who was a better prospect, Mike Stanton the pitcher or Mike Stanton the hitter?

R.J. Anderson: For my tastes? The hitter. Plus-plus raw power, athleticism, the works. Keep in mind that he won't turn 23 until November. He's a special talent.

Matt (Malone, NY): Aside from David Wright, do you think the Mets have any tradeable pieces? Their record is a mirage and they will fade soon enough.

R.J. Anderson: Their most tradable non-Wright assets are all in the bullpen. It wouldnít be too shocking if a contender grabs Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, or Frank Francisco for the stretch run; maybe not to fill late-inning roles, but as middle relievers.

pat (kc): over/under of when the royals cut bate with hochevar?

R.J. Anderson: Let's set the date at July 1, 2012.

The Jolly Roger (The deep, blue sea): What do you think of James McDonald's early success? Is it for real?

R.J. Anderson: McDonald is a guy I liked back during his Dodgers days. It seems like heís relying a little bit more on his breaking stuff this season, especially early in the count. Heíll out-pitch last season so long as he stays healthy, but I donít anticipate him being quite this good all year.

Bill (New Mexico): St. Louis is accumulating quite a pile of serviceable but mediocre second basemen (Greene, Descalso, Schumaker) who stand to get pipped if Kolten Wong continues his fast development. Who's the most tradeable of that crowd, and what could they get for him that would improve the team?

R.J. Anderson: If St. Louis had its druthers, I think theyíd trade Schumaker. Heís older than youíd think (turned 32 in February) and costs more than the other two combined. I'm not sure if any of those three bring back a player who impacts the current roster.

On a related note: I really like Wong. He makes hitting look easy.

William ((Portland)): Do you think Travis Snider and Domonic Brown would succeed if they were in new organizations, or are their problems intrinsic?

R.J. Anderson: Thatís the basis for change of scenery trades. Itís hard to say and dangerous to assume without knowing more about the Snider and Brown situations, though I think Snider would look better if he got away from the American League East entirely.

Matt (Chicago): Theo &Jed committed to improving Cubs D this offseason. Two lynchpins of that plan- Stewart & Barney , have been brutal offensively, with little evidence to suggest any sort of turnarounds. When do you start lookin at other options?

R.J. Anderson: Itís possible they already started looking. Stewart felt like a good buy-low candidate. A guy you plopped into Wrigley who would take advantage of the park. Heíll have the shorter leash given his past. Barney is a better hitter than heís showed this season, but heíll always be defined by his defense, baserunning, and hustle. All things considered, you can do worse at second base than Barney, but you can do better, too.

Jay (Madison): The Orioles -- purely a fluke that will be corrected over the course of the season or better than we thought and could be .500 (I realize there are more options).

R.J. Anderson: I talked about the Orioles earlier with Marc Normandin. (Heís writing a piece about the Orioles for tomorrow, so watch out for that.) Weíre at the point in the season where the Orioles just have to play like a 75-win team from here on out to reach 81 wins. That isnít unattainable. Realistically, I donít think Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold are going to continue to hit like this, and I donít think the starting rotation is quite this good. I could see them flirting with .500, but contention? Nah, not this season.

Of course, a month ago I wouldíve had them in last place now, so you never know with this game. Maybe the Orioles do the unthinkable.

Marc (The Internet): Does a big year from B.J. Upton in any way change the Rays plans for 2013 and beyond? He's not quite the Carl Crawford type, expected to pull in a huge deal, and the team that wanted him in center the most the last few seasons now has Bryce Harper in tow.

R.J. Anderson: If anything, a big year decreases his likelihood of returning. The Rays have tried extending Upton multiple times, dating back to his days in the minors. If it was going to happen, it wouldíve happened by now. If Upton does have a big year, I could see a team falling in love with him as the Mís did with Adrian Beltre back in the day. People have been predicting a breakout season for Upton long enough that it might only take one big year to convince someone heís made the leap.

As for the Rays outfield situation, Iíd still anticipate Brandon Guyer being the benefactor. That could and likely will change between now and next opening day, but thatís just how the depth chart is set up right now. There are some around the league who think Guyer could become an everyday player.

Abe Froman (Chicago): when will Glen Perkins start closing?

R.J. Anderson: As soon as the Twins create enough save opportunities for Matt Capps to implode two or three times in a two-week span.

Bill (New Mexico): Thanks for the Cards 2B answer, but to clarify, I was wondering about which player out of TG/DD/Schu would fetch the most in trade, not the one they'd be happiest to wash their hands of. Or are even the two younger ones destined for such mediocrity that the only possible answer is "none of the above"?

R.J. Anderson: I don't know that the return for any of the three is all that different, but admittedly I could be off base. If I had to guess, I'd say Descalso due to his age and St. Louis' preference for starting him.

Marc (The Internet): With so many top prospects already called up, who is it you're most looking forward to seeing make their big-league debut in 2012?

R.J. Anderson: Trevor Bauer.

Hio2Hops (Seattle): Has Heisey not demonstrated an ability to produce? Seems to me Dusty routinely holds out longer than necessary on giving "unproven players" a shot. It took way too long to get Stubbs in CF over Taveras, Cozart at SS over Janish et al last year, and he still has not fully committed to Chapman, who would be a great weapon in better hands. Ideally in the rotation rather than the pen, which in itself is another example. Ugh.

R.J. Anderson: I think Baker is risk-averse. Heíd rather minimize his downside than attempt to maximize his upside. That isnít always a bad plan, though it is less sexy, but sometimes it backfires, and when it backfires, it sticks in everyoneís head.

ackbar (trap, closet): How likely are the Rays to sign Chris Davis next season to serve as a power source/mop-up man combination 25th man after yesterday?

R.J. Anderson: Tommy Rancel (of ESPN Florida) joked during this past offseason about the Rays signing Micah Owings a their 25th man who could pitch in mop-up roles and pinch-hit. I hope it happens at some point. That would be a delightful roster mechanism.

Jack (Madison): Phil Humber sucks, huh?

R.J. Anderson: He's allowed more than a run per inning (including today) since his perfect game. How long until someone writes that he's hurt because of all the sliders he throws?

Jim (Mexico City): Following up on Ryan Cook: what will he be when his hits allowed normalize? Three in 14 2/3 innings isn't sustainable.

R.J. Anderson: Youíre right about the hit rateóheís not going to yield three hits for every 14-2/3 innings pitched. Still, heís a big guy with good arm strength and a sold slider. He might not be the ideal shutdown closer, but I think heís next in line for Oakland and could hold the job down until a better option shows up.

mattstupp (NYC): What's actually wrong with Ike Davis?

R.J. Anderson: Everything. His strikeout, walk, and extra-base hit rates are all going the wrong way. His strong, albeit brief 2011 season probably inflated his stock a bit too much, but heís a lot better than heís played so far. I hope he gets whatever it is straightened out, be it physical, mental, or a combination thereof.

Jack (Madison): Now he gave up a double to Casey Kotchman.

R.J. Anderson: Humber with whatever the opposite of a perfect game is today.

steve (Lincoln): What triple slash line does Eric Hosmer finish the year with?

R.J. Anderson: Hm. Hosmer is at .185/.261/.370 now, hit .293/.334/.465 last season, and has a PECOTA projection that calls for .285/.337/.446. Assuming he starts hitting now, that PECOTA projection might not be too far off.

Lew (Los Angeles): Are you rooting for Josh Willingham to finish the year with seven WARP and the next-best Twin to have just one? What's the floor for the Twins?

R.J. Anderson: Absolutely. Nothing against the Twins, but I like Willingham as a player and that kind of trivial accomplishment is always fun.

I think the floor is where they are now. It's hard to envision them playing much worse.

benrosenberg02 (boston): sorry, if this isn't the right place, but will the PFM be updated as the season progresses?

R.J. Anderson: It should be updating daily. If not, please use the contact form and let us know.

Bill (Amsterdam): I heard on an Astros podcast a few weeks ago that the team had Wilton Lopez throw pitches from the mound while blindfolded to try to get him to focus on his mechanics. Is this awesome or crazy? Best weird training/coaching story you've heard?

R.J. Anderson: A little of both.

No training story is popping to mind, but I do recall a Manny Ramirez preparation story. The legend goes like this: Ramirez's team was playing Roy Halladay. He told everyone that Halladay was going to throw him a curve, and when that happened, Manny was going to blast it. Two at-bats come and go, no curves, no hits. Third at-bat, Ramirez gets his curve and crushes it.

Tangibly related: Ken Ravizza had a ton of weird, funny little tricks he used with the Cal Fullerton baseball team. Read about those here.

Dolly (Tucson): Who is your favorite author of fiction? Favorite non-fiction, non-baseball writer?

R.J. Anderson: I dig Wodehouse's groovy tunes quite a bit. I'm not sure if he's my favorite, but he's up there. For non-fiction, I read almost everything Michael Lewis produces.

Marcus Higgins (Outerspace): Did you see this article today http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/120507tripleplay/jamie-moyer-vs-chipper-jones-best-division-race-baseball-mlb? Who do you think would win a fight: Chipper or Moyer?

R.J. Anderson: Has to be Chipper. When the Braves were deciding between Jones and Todd Van Poppel, Jones punched a kid who yakked at his pitcher. Jones broke his hand, but supposedly won over Bobby Cox's heart at that moment. I think Van Poppel's asking price helped spark that romance, too.

Michael Edward Brown (KC): Have you read the book "Scorecasting?" What did you think of it? Any big takeaways?

R.J. Anderson: I have not. It's on my list of non-fiction. I've heard good things.

D-Rose (Chicago): Love the new glossary, but why didn't you re-define words like single, double, etc.

R.J. Anderson: Aw, come on now.

Jake (Joliet): How many homers will Jim Thome hit for the White Sox next year as he continues his "once more with feeling" tour of major-league baseball?

R.J. Anderson: However many it takes to convince Jim and the league that he should keep playing for a few more years.

Kevin (Normal): More tilted hat: Juan Francisco or Fernando Rodney?

R.J. Anderson: Francisco. Jason Parks needs to start a #tilt movement.

Meathead (Chicago): Are you worried about Tommy Hanson's mechanics creating an injury? Do you think he'll be in Atlanta next year?

R.J. Anderson: I'm not a mechanics expert. He's changed his mechanics and he's been hurt before, so I think there's a chance he gets hurt again. Whether it's due to the mechanics or not well, I don't know. The second part is contingent on how he pitches the rest of the way.

Ryan Brian O'Ryan (Alabama): I have a final in an hour, but I need to eat something quickly. Any suggestions?

R.J. Anderson: Chick-fil-A?

Bill (Philly): What are your thoughts on Ryan Howard? Is he ever going to live up to the contract? What about this year? Is he going to be back to normal? Thanks in advance.

R.J. Anderson: He won't live up to the contract. That doesn't mean he's a bad player or a bad person, but it seems like the Phillies overvalued Howard or misjudged the first base market.

Rancel (Tampa): When are we bringing The Process Report back?

R.J. Anderson: Never say never.

Dr. James Andrews (Alabama): Why are all of the best players in the AL East getting injured? Do these injuries change your predictions for the division?

R.J. Anderson: The injury bug has an east coast bias. I believe I had Boston winning the division on the basis that I'd rather not look dumb than look smart. I'm definitely not looking smart, so that part of the plan is working.

Meathead (Chicago): How long do you expect Jair Jurrjens to stay in Triple-A Gwinnett? What kind of trade value does he have right now?

R.J. Anderson: He's lost velocity, makes more than $5 million, and just got demoted to the minors. I wouldn't count on him having much value right now.

Marcus Higgins (Outerspace): Lots of former BPro writers have gone on to work for Major League teams ... who do you think is the next big hire?

R.J. Anderson: I'd take Max Marchi or Jason Parks in an office pool.

Jason (Starbucks): Any stats that you use that you feel are undervalued, even among stats people?

R.J. Anderson: Yes--extra-base taken percentage. Baseball-Reference.com tracks it (XBT%). In the old days, we were all about offense, then the paradigm shifted to defense. I keep waiting on everyone to gravitate towards instinctive, heady baserunners, but it hasn't happened yet. Players who can go from first-to-third on a single or score from first on a double add value that I think can go unappreciated. Take Sean Rodriguez. He doesn't post great success rates on stolen bases, but you know that he gets baserunning if you've seen him during the run of play.

Jermaine (Cali): Tigers are 28th in new Sports Illustrated power rankings. Where are they in yours?

R.J. Anderson: A lot higher than 28th.

Matt (Milwaukee): Word just came out that Alex Gonzalez has a torn ACL. How do you feel the Brewers will try to replace him?

R.J. Anderson: Rough week for the Brewers. I'd be curious to see if they sniff around Jason Bartlett if he's released.

Matt (Madison): While we're on the topic, Alex Gonzalez (healthy) or Elliot Johnson?

R.J. Anderson: Gonzalez. Heck, Alex S. Gonzalez.

R.J. Anderson: Thanks for chatting, everyone. We'll have to do it again soon.


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