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Chat: Daniel Rathman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday July 09, 2012 2:00 PM ET chat session with Daniel Rathman.

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The author of BP's daily "What You Need to Know" column drops by to tell you what you want to know.

Daniel Rathman: Good morning/afternoon, everyone! Let's get this going...

Alex (Anaheim): Is Ivan Nova just having a good run, or is stardom in his future?

Daniel Rathman: As is often the case, the answer to this is somewhere in between. I think Nova lasts as a quality, mid-rotation starter for the Yankees, which isn't exactly stardom but still makes him a very valuable player. One thing that was particularly impressive about his outing last night was his ability to pitch off the curveball. If he can continue to do that down the road and rein in his bloated home run rate, this is far more than just a good run.

Don't Jerk my Dickey (The City that never sleeps): Why is R.A. Dickey not starting the allstar game? He has the best #'s, the best story, come on Larussa... what is going on here???

Daniel Rathman: If La Russa is to be believed, it's wanting the catcher who works with Dickey to warm up with him. I think there's some merit to having Posey work with Cain and then bring in a new catcher with Dickey after working with him in the bullpen, even though it would have been very cool to see Dickey get the nod.

Alex (Anaheim): Who is going to stay with the big club, Dewayne Wise or Darnell McDonald?

Daniel Rathman: This probably depends at least somewhat on Brett Gardner's timetable. Wise is the better defender of the two, and McDonald's main skill -- hitting left-handed pitching -- is already covered by Andruw Jones, but McDonald may be less redundant with the other players on the roster. Now that I've talked myself in circles, my tentative guess is that McDonald hangs around.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): What are the chaces that Dale Thayer becomes the Padres' closer this season? Thanks

Daniel Rathman: If Huston Street is traded at or before the deadline, as expected, Thayer probably returns to that role. Luke Gregerson is a better pitcher, but his platoon splits against left-handed hitters (.413 OBP against this year) are a concern when you can't play matchups. Assuming Bud Black doesn't go to a committee, Thayer has a strong chance of seeing more save chances down the road.

I aint Quentin (Beutiful San Diego): Are my Padres ever going to make a run again, or was 2010 the closest we're going to get? What does the future of the Padres organization look like, what is the state of our minor league system?

Daniel Rathman: The Padres have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, and the key is whether that depth can overcome the lack of starpower. We've started to see some of the pieces of a future Padres contender already, with Yasmani Grandal and Yonder Alonso, and on the offensive side, Rymer Liriano should be coming sometime in 2013. Getting Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin from the Rangers for Mike Adams at last year's deadline was a very nice move, and the Padres should be able to acquire more talent this July for Street.

Yes We Cain (SF): Who is going to win the derby?

Daniel Rathman: I've never had much luck predicting this. My gut tells me Robinson Cano goes back-to-back, but if every instinct I've had is wrong, then the opposite must be right. Cano is a left-handed hitting AL infielder, so it's going to be a right-handed hitting NL outfielder. The pick: Andrew McCutchen.

Peter Olrich (Boston): Daniel, You're doing terrific work with BP, and it's great to get the chance to chat with you. As for our local 9 here in Boston, is there a point at which you simply acknowledge that some guys you've paid a lot of money to are dragging the team down, and deal them to get a fresh start? Theo's trade of Nomar back in 2004 actually breathed fresh air into that team. I'm not forecasting a series appearance, but would the Sox be wise to contemplate unloading Beckett and continuing to pursue more of a TEAM culture?

Daniel Rathman: Thanks for the kind words, Peter.

Lots of questions about what the Red Sox should do at the deadline and in the near future, so I'll try to pack it all into one answer. A couple of things to keep in mind for those saying the Sox should buy: 1) They have a bit of a 40-man roster crunch; 2) They don't have much money to work with, especially in relation to the luxury tax.

Now, regarding this question, I don't know if Ben Cherington can sell a "fresh start" to a fan base so used to being in contention, but I do think the team needs one. The trouble with those bad contracts is that you'd need someone to re-hire Tony Reagins for Cherington to be able to dump them. That said, if the Sox can do something with John Lackey similar to what the Yankees did with A.J. Burnett this past offseason, I don't think Cherington will mind admitting that the deal was a mistake. And if there's a mutually beneficial deal with Beckett -- something that actually helps the team in 2013 -- I think he'd consider that, too.

Paul (DC): What are the odds that every team in the AL East ends the season with a winning record?

Daniel Rathman: This is very unlikely, in my mind, for a couple of reasons. In general, I think at least two of the four non-Yankees teams will fade, most likely the Blue Jays and Orioles. But also, even though we are at the halfway point in the season, each of the AL East teams has played less than half of its intra-division schedule. Once the Jays and O's see more of the Yankees and Rays, I think you'll see the gap between the teams widen, and they won't dominate the West and Central enough to compensate and stay over .500.

Nick Johnson (Aviles): When do you expect Marte up for the Pirates? What can we expect of him this year?

Daniel Rathman: I think you'll see Marte up by early-August, but it'd be unwise to expect a ton right away. He should outperform the Pirates' current corner outfielders, but he does have 74 strikeouts in 331 at-bats in Triple-A, so it's unlikely that he'll thrive right away.

Marte's timetable also likely depends on whether the Pirates swing a deal for an outfielder at the deadline. They're rumored to be in on Carlos Quentin and Justin Upton, and adding either of those two might push Marte back a bit.

Cano don't ya know (NY): Going into the allstar break, which team do you see making a run to come from 2nd or worse in the division to make a run a the pennant

Daniel Rathman: The Angels are probably the trendy pick for this question, but I'll go with the Braves. Judging by the last four days, Brian McCann is back to hitting like Brian McCann, and I think Frank Wren will make a deal for a starting pitcher to shore up the rotation.

One more Braves note: Craig Kimbrel has recorded 33 strikeouts since he last issued a walk.

Dan the Man (Ann Arbor): The Tigers and Rays have roughly equivalent playoff odds right now. The difference is that most of the Rays' odds are their chance of winning a Wild Card. The Tigers' odds are mostly tied up in their chance of winning their division. How will/should that fact affect their respective decisions to go all in or not before the trade deadline?

Daniel Rathman: From a pure numbers perspective, the more spots you're competing for -- and in this case, the Tigers have one more possible spot than the Rays -- the better you'd consider your chances of reaching the postseason to be. I think you're more likely to see the Rays sell and the Tigers buy, though there are other reasons for both.

A lot of the Tigers' decision making could be affected by what happens in the next two weeks, and they may look to buy sooner rather than later. Detroit won't play a currently-under-.500 opponent until August 13, so this is their time to sink or swim.

Dan (Brooklyn): Which of these guys are for real (if any): Ruggiano, Nava, Berry, Moss, Gentry? Quite the year (month?) for AAAA sluggers.

Daniel Rathman: It really has been. I guess this depends on what you mean by "for real." I don't think any of these guys are ever going to make an All-Star team or sustain what they've done during the past month, but a few of them might carve out careers as quality reserves.

From that standpoint, I think Gentry might be the most useful, as a right-handed center field platoon partner with outstanding defense. Ruggiano could also be interesting as a platoon partner getting the short end of the lefty/righty matchups, and Nava's plate discipline makes him intriguing. I'd say Moss is the most likely of the group to be a fluke.

Josh Towers (Toronto): Looking to add a pitcher with a possible call-up upcoming... suggestions?

Daniel Rathman: Keep an eye on Jake Odorizzi, who started the Futures Game yesterday, if he's unowned in your league. He's done well in Triple-A, even though his fly-ball rate is a bit of a concern.

Paul (DC): Is it better to bunch the vast majority of a team's VORP/WAR in a core group of say 6 players or spread it fairly evenly out among the most used 12 to 15 players? Or perhaps to phrase it differently, what is the lowest VORP/WAR the best player on a team could have and still have that team make the playoffs?

Daniel Rathman: One thing to keep in mind here is that the smaller your core is, the greater the risk of your season going up in smoke because of an injury or two. We've seen the three-star approach go awry a bit for the Tigers this year, though I'd expect them to improve somewhat in the second half.

The lowest VORP/WARP for a best player on a contender might be an interesting study to look into. I'm not sure I can put a number on that off the top of my head, and obviously it's context-dependent with the quality of the division that year.

Milby (SF): Hi Daniel - I really could care less about Wins as a stat, but it's always struck me as odd & inconsistent that a starter won't get credit for a win unless he goes 5+ innings, but a reliever can go for any length and get the win. Additionally, a starter can be credited with a Loss after any length of innings, but not the Win...? That said, now I'll go punish myself for bringing up wins in the first place #SaberPurgatory

Daniel Rathman: Throw this in among the many other flaws with the win statistic. I think being able to saddle a starter with the loss regardless of innings pitched makes sense, since starters who give up five runs and don't record an out should not be immune. That said, I wouldn't have a problem crediting starters who, say, pitch four scoreless innings and leave with an injury, with a win.

Vic31 (San Fran): Daniel - I need to know about Troy Tulowitzki's rehab. We are almost at the half way point to the low-end of the 6-8wks and I've heard nothing good/bad on the rehab. Do you have an update? I need to know!

Daniel Rathman: If I recall correctly, Tulo had surgery on June 21, so he's about a week away from resuming baseball activities. I would not expect him back before mid-August.

Mikeleelop (Toronto): How long can the Jays stick with Davis in LF? He is below average defensively, and regressing to his normal below average offence

Daniel Rathman: This depends on whether the Jays believe they can contend this year; if they do, a move away from Davis probably happens in the very near future, possibly through a trade. If they don't, then it comes down to when the front office is ready to give Travis Snider another chance. Regardless, barring a major surge from Davis, I think you'll see someone else manning LF for the Jays by the end of the month.

Daniel Rathman: Thanks to everyone who stopped by! Enjoy the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game. The WYNTK will be back on Friday.


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