Larry drops by to answer your questions. If you're nice, he might explain what a wezen-ball is.
Larry Granillo: I've been pondering some questions the last couple of days. Who has most the intriguing home run total so far this year: Beltran (19), Dunn (23), Encarnacion (18), Pedro Alvarez (12)? Someone else? And why do people get so annoyed at people who enjoy cycles? But, most importantly, why haven't we seen an all-knuckler broadcast booth, with Niekro, Candiotti, Wakefield? That'd be the best.
On to the chat!
Cliff Lee (City of No Brotherly Love): I have not looked good lately have I? Are the lack of wins starting to get to me?
Larry Granillo: I'm not worrying about you, at least. Well... I'm not worrying about your talent or ability to get the job done. I am a little worried about what will happen if you somehow end the season without a tally in the Wins column. Will sportswriters' heads explode? How much of a mess will that cause?
Paul (DC): Where is Carlos Beltran's increased power production coming from? He can't possibly keep this up (because he's Carlos Beltran and will get injured at some point). And why are the Cardinal's occasionally throwing him into Center? Don't they know they risk angering the Injury Gods that way?
Larry Granillo: Beltran has always been a great player and has shown 40-HR power before. So it's not like he's coming out of the blue here. But there's no way we could have expected this from a 35 year old player.
Maybe it's what the Cardinals do. Last year, they risked the injury gods by playing Lance Berkman in the outfield everyday and were rewarded with his best season in ages. Maybe that's what they're doing with Beltran this year. If I were him, though, I'd be a bit worried about my health next season.
Alex (Anaheim): Melky Cabrera was never a bad player (I especially remember his 2009 playoffs being brilliant), but where did this season come from?
Larry Granillo: Another one of the early season surprises. I'm not sure what to say about Melky except that he's been playing regularly since he was 21 years old. It's easy to get disillusioned with someone after years of underperforming expectations, even if we keep reminding ourselves that "this kid is still 23 years old". Melky's 27 years old this year, which is perfectly in line with a career year, so we shouldn't be 100% shocked. The real question is will he be able to keep it up next year? Is this his real talent level, or just him overachieving for one glorious summer?
firemanx (ft lauderdale ): has there been any correlation between how well a team plays on the road & there road attendance?
Larry Granillo: I'm not certain. I feel like I've heard that question before, which makes me think someone wrote about it at least once. I don't recall, though.
If I were to guess, I'd say that the correlation would be very weak, at best. Baseball attendance is not quick changing. Even a great young team like the Nats (might be) will hardly see their in-season attendance jump when playing well or with future superstars like Strasburg and Harper. It's just not how fans buy tickets. The effect always comes a year or two behind, once season ticket sales can be accounted for and fans can know what to expect. There would have to be some kind of amazing draw for fans to come out to a road team beyond the typical reasons.
Craig (PA): Is Pedro Alvarez on a Rob Deer type career arc?
Larry Granillo: With what we know so far, I think Alvarez would have to be excited to get a Rob Deer career. Deer had 4500 PAs over an 11-year career. Alvarez is certainly giving us the all-or-nothing, three true outcomes type of at-bats, but we haven't seen enough to know if that's how his whole career will be. If those cold streaks last too long, he may not get a chance to show off his power.
The power surges this year have been nice, but they've been, what, once a month? You need to turn it on a little more often than that to hang around for 11 years.
thomas (columbus): Do you think Ike Davis is coming around and returning to form?
Larry Granillo: Well, the Mets broadcasters certainly thought so last night, emphatically stating that Ike was back after his grand slam. I'm as wary of small sample sizes as the next guy, so it's hard for me to get too excited about any two week stretch. But, wow, Davis was playing really terribly for those first two months of the season. But he's raised his average almost 35 points in only 9 games (all the way up to .196!), so that is definitely encouraging.
Davis is only 25 (like Alvarez), so there's still time for both to get back on board. I don't think either is a .200 hitter.
Paul (DC): I've read the occasional article or thread about the HOF chances of Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman, but not about their teammate, Matt Holliday. At age 32, how close is he to entering serious, reasonable discussions on a viable HOF candidacy?
Larry Granillo: The Beltran and Berkman HOF speculation makes sense. They're both well above average players who are near the end of their career. Holliday is still pretty young, but has certainly been around long enough to consider.
He's a great player. In 8+ seasons, Holliday already has 33.3 WARP. That's no slouch. If he can stay healthy well into his 30s (say 37 or 38) and put up steady numbers, he might have a case. But if he hits a steep decline at, say, 35, I'm not sure his career is long enough or with high enough peaks to be HOF-worthy.
Not that there's anything wrong with being a regular All-Star!
Aaron (Dallas): Which player does Jurickson Profar compare to in the big leagues? And is he the top hitter in the minors?
Larry Granillo: I wish I could give you a good answer but I am not very knowledgeable about the minors. It's just not my forte, sorry. You probably have a better idea than I do.
Todd (Westtown): It would appear that pitchers are taking advantage of Hosmer's youth -- he's driving the ball into the dirt at near-Ichiro levels. I'm exaggerating a bit (other peripherals look decent), so do need to be concerned that his swing needs some retooling or instead write his struggles off ("career" 105 OPS+) as simple growing pains?
Larry Granillo: For anyone facing major league pitching at 22 years old - especially one who managed a .799 OPS as a 21 year old - I'd write struggles off like that as growing pains. It's just really hard for someone that young to play in the bigs. Even great hitters like Ryan Braun were still in the minors at that age.
Alex (Anaheim): How well do you know Rob Neyer? I remember him linking to Wezen-Ball a lot a few years ago.
Larry Granillo: I know Rob through online reading and such, same as anyone. He was a terrific help to me at Wezen-Ball over the years, though. The exposure I got from him almost certainly helped me start writing over here. I have met him a couple of times, at the last couple of SABR conventions. There's always a bunch of smart baseball fans at those things. This year's convention is actually next weekend (June 28-July 1) in Minneapolis. If anyone can make it, you should definitely try. (Sadly, I'll be stuck in Cape Cod that weekend - oh what a terrible life!)
Matt (Chicago): Do you think that some of the Starlin Castro criticism has been overhyped? I think there remains significant upside to his game, particularly on offense.
Larry Granillo: Absolutely. Again, this kid is 22 years old (and is in a foreign country!). He's doing plenty well, even with his occasional struggles. It's only massive scrutiny and expectations that make us disappointed. We need to look past that.
mick (cali): Please rank these currently injured closers for Next year: Wilson, Soria, Madson. Thanks.
Larry Granillo: The best I can do is rank them how I might have before their injuries: Soria, Wilson, Madson. Whether they each will be able to come back in the same shape they were in before they went down is something we just can't answer.
Chris (work): Re Melky, remember when everybody thought LAST year was his career year, and nobody thought he could repeat it?
Larry Granillo: Good point.
The only thing I can think to add is that Melky's 2011 was a slightly pessimistic ceiling to place on him. Yes, it was much better than he'd been in the past, but it was still only a 2.7 WARP year. This year has already eclipsed that in only 65 games. If he keeps it up through September, it's a pretty high watermark, career year or not.
dianagram (VORGville): Picture this: Dickey deserves to make (and possibly start) the ASG. However, none of the presumed NL all-star catchers have experience catching a knuckler. Dickey lobbies to have Josh Thole added to roster as his "personal catcher". Request is turned down because now ... "the game counts" and Thole is not worthy of a spot on the roster.
Larry Granillo: Personally, I want Zack Greinke to start the All-Star Game just because it's in Kansas City. Others, like Dickey, are more likely candidates though.
As for the scenario, it's interesting. I can see it being a possibility, complete with Thole not making it. And I wouldn't be too saddened by it. Catchers may not be used to catching the knuckler, but I bet they can if necessary (especially for 2 innings). the more important consideration, though, is what La Russa thinks about catchers catching the knuckler. I bet he'd be happy to give Yadier Molina that chance. If Brian McCann is the starter though, he might think differently...
igoinsane67 (work): Is it likely that a Royal will be chosen for the HR derby this season being it's being played in Kansas City? If so, you would be the best option for Cano, Butler, Moustakas or Hosmer?
Larry Granillo: Are they doing the "team captain" thing they did last year? As big of a Prince Fielder fan as I am, I was really disappointed when he gave Rickie Weeks a spot on the roster instead of hometown hero (and very deserving) Justin Upton.
My guess is that whoever is in charge makes sure that a Royal is on the team. I would really want it to be Billy Butler. I just love watching him hit (and trot!).
Charlie (Bethesda): I don't know if its the most intriguing but Jed Lowrie's 13 HRs already is pretty surprising.
Larry Granillo: Lowrie was certainly someone I would have put in that question if I didn't feel like I was running out of room. Trumbo (16), Reddick (15), Plouffe (14), Willingham (13) and LaHair (13) all would have fit nicely too.
Chris (work): Melky's WAR is higher this year mostly because last year he played CF. He should be playing in a corner, where the Giants have him.
Larry Granillo: That could be. I was using it as shorthand, though. His numbers are better across the board right now, and keeping that up for the entire season would go along way to raising that highwater mark. Of course, BABIP and such are likely unsustainable (which explains why seasons like his are so hard to keep up for 162 games)
Paul (DC): Any thoughts on Clemens after his acquittal for perjury?
Larry Granillo: I tried my best not follow the case because it seemed ridiculous on 1,000 different levels. I'm not happy or sad about it - but I would hope that our federal government would be smarter about how they spend millions of dollars.
Matt (Philly): How long until Ruben Amaro is canned? There window has closed, the farm is poor and they're gonna lose Hamels.
Larry Granillo: From the outside looking in, I'm not sure how losing Hamels would really affect Amaro's position. Either Cole wants the money Philly can afford to give him or not. The other problems with the roster - too many aging, injured players - are more serious. But Halladay and Lee will buy him a lot of breathing room, I suspect.
Amaro will lose his job whenever people in Philly are finally ready to admit how big of a mistake the Howard extension was. Which means he could have that job for life.
Buddy Out West (Fresno, CA): Why are the Giants getting no respect? Also, how do you explain the Brewers being so terrible?
Larry Granillo: I think you'd have to define "no respect". If it's that the Dodgers are who everyone loves right now in the West, that might have something to do with their 4.5 game lead over the Giants even without their best player for a long period of time.
As for the Brewers, major injuries to 3 starting players and a starting pitcher have a lot to do with it. Not everything, of course, but a lot.
I think I only have time for 2 more questions, so these next two will have to be it...
Chris (work): HR Derby team captains are Robinson Cano and Matt Kemp. Cano has already said he's inviting Granderson.
Larry Granillo: Really? How did they decide that? And do they know that Kemp has only played in two games since May 13?
Granderson deserves to be on the team, but so do Adam Dunn, Josh Hamilton, Bautista, Encarnacion, Trumbo, etc. My guess is it's Cano, Granderson, Dunn, and Butler, unless one of those two decline the invitation. I'd say that'd be a pretty entertaining derby.
Paul (DC): How many years/decades till we see a comic book based movie where the super villain or super villain team is the main character of the plot?
Larry Granillo: Hmm... Good question. They're bound to try it one of these days. if they do, I bet they chicken out and make the bad guys fight with the good guys by the end of it. Like Blade 3 or Iron Eagle 2 or Red Heat.
If they do decide to go all out, I hope they go with someone obscure - like maybe, say, the Sportsmaster (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15702)...
Larry Granillo: Thanks for the questions, everyone. Enjoy this stretch run to the All-Star Game! And, hey, can we please start a lobby to get the Home Run Derby participants to start trotting after their dingers? Imagine the Tater Trot Tracker delightfulness if that happened!