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Chat: Ben Lindbergh

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday July 25, 2012 1:30 PM ET chat session with Ben Lindbergh.

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Have questions or comments about BP or baseball? Ask the Managing Editor.

Ben Lindbergh: The week before the deadline is simultaneously the best and worst time to host a chat. On one hand, there's plenty to talk about. On the other hand, more news could could down at any moment, initiating a flurry of activity at BP Editor HQ. With any luck, GMs will have the courtesy to hold off on any further activity until we've finished here. Let's get started.

Dan the Man (Ann Arbor): Just want to say, love the daily podcast! Is there any chance that the other daily products (Hit List, Collateral Damage, What You Need to Know) could start coming out a little earlier in the day? I'd like to make them part of my-wake-up-and-read-over-breakfast thing (as the podcast is now my listen-to-as-I-walk-to-the-office thing), but they don't reliably come out early enough. Is it possible that BP plays to large a role in my morning?

Ben Lindbergh: Dan, I'm glad you're enjoying the new daily podcast, as well as the other daily features we've rolled out or refined this season. An easily digestible package of morning material is something I felt that we'd lacked in the past.

As for the timing: there have been exceptions to this rule, but Collateral Damage Daily and What You Need to Know usually go up first thing in the morning, when we publish most of the day's content (often around 5 AM ET). The Daily Hit List comes out a little later in the morning, and unfortunately, there's probably nothing we can do to put it up earlier. The Hit List rankings are automatically generated as soon as our Adjusted Standings and Playoff Odds reports run, and those can't start running until we receive our daily stat feed from MLB. All of that takes time and ties our hands a bit in terms of when we can publish.

smallflowers (live from the delino deshields sr. fanclub): Thanks for chatting, Ben! No talking fantasy here, but real life baseball: if you had to choose between Brett Lawrie and Mike Moustakas from now until the end of their respective careers, either as a hitter or complete package, which do you take?

Ben Lindbergh: I like Moustakas a little more as a player. Slightly higher draft pick, slightly better prospect, more than slightly better makeup (supposedly) and production this season. Then again, Lawrie is almost a year and a half younger. That difference in age might make up the difference in career production right there. Tough call, but I think I still give the edge to Moose.

snake (nutley NJ): can billy hamilton outrun the flash?

Ben Lindbergh: Home to first, on a dig? Yes. Especially when Hamilton is batting from the left side. Odds are the Flash is right-handed.

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): As a Nationals fan, I hope that Ryan Dempster's refusal to join the Braves is an omen for disappointments in Atlanta for the rest of the season. However, if I were a Braves fan, would you think that I should be upset or relieved that the trade of Randall Delgado didn't go through?

Ben Lindbergh: I analyzed the Dempster deal that now looks like it probably won't happen a couple days ago. My opinion was that Delgado wouldn't have been too high a price to pay, considering the stakes and Delgado's mid-rotation ceiling. That said, while a desire to keep Delgado might not have made sense as a reason not to pull the trigger, it certainly makes sense as a reason to be relieved that the deal didn't go through.

Alex (Anaheim): So let me get this straight: the Cardinals got a competitive balance draft pick?

Ben Lindbergh: No, I don't think so. The Cardinals were one of 14 teams eligible to receive an extra 2013 pick in the Competitive Balance Lottery, but they were also one of the two teams that didn't receive one. The ones who did receive picks were mostly the ones you'd expect: Royals, Pirates, Marlins, Padres, Brewers, etc. However, the Tigers did get a pick. So...that's interesting.

Goose (Morgantown): Does Jedd Gyorko not being on the 40 man hurt his chances of getting called up immediately if Chase Headley is traded?

Ben Lindbergh: San Diego's 40-man is full, and in a general sense, not being on the 40-man is always an additional hurdle in the way of a prospect who's hoping to get called up. In Gyorko's case, it might depend on the return the Padres get for Headley. If they get back prospects, Headley's departure would open up a spot. If they get back any big-league pieces, someone else would have to go for Gyorko to have a spot. But considering Kevin wrote "Not sure what the Padres are waiting for" in reference to Gyorko almost a month ago, and given that his numbers have only improved since then, I'm guessing Gyorko will get a shot if Headley gets traded.

jimcal (Not New York): Would you write an article about "Why I left Bloomberg?" just like "Why I left Google"? I am actually interested in seeing some of BP authors goes around industry, and wonder if we can have transaction analysis on those. Definitely thrive that you are fulltime on BP now.

Ben Lindbergh: For those who don't know, I recently left Bloomberg Sports (where I'd worked as a baseball analyst for two years while also at Baseball Prospectus) to focus on being E-in-C full time. Writing about the decision is an interesting idea, though there are some things I can't talk about, both in the NDA sense and in the sense that no one likes a tattletale. But without getting into any details, the decision had less to do with Bloomberg than it did with the fact that I love what I do at BP (as well as the problem that there are only so many hours in a day). Who wouldn't want to spend more time writing about baseball, editing articles about baseball, and helping to determine the direction of the site, all while wearing sweatpants? It's a great opportunity, and I'm very excited about it.

If you'd like, you can read about my evolution from someone who wanted to work in baseball to someone who wanted to write about baseball here.

billwiggins (Rockville, va): Why don't the White Sox draw more fans at home?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't know, but carping about U.S. Cellular aside, I'd guess that most of it has to do with the fact that the team hasn't made the playoffs since 2008. The year after they won the World Series, the White Sox had the third-highest attendance in the AL, right after the Yankees and Angels (and right ahead of the Red Sox). That championship honeymoon effect lingered a little, as the team ranked fifth in attendance for two years after that. But now those memories have faded, so maybe some casual fans have stopped coming. Playoff appearances pay off in attendance down the road, and if the White Sox get back to October, some of the fans will return.

Or maybe it's just that the Cubs are such a powerhouse.

Hanley Ramirez (Los Angeles): I've been worth 0.3 WARP over the past two years combined. How much does this matter?

Ben Lindbergh: A lot? Hanley's recent struggles certainly had an impact on what the Marlins got back for him, and they also affect our expectations for his future.

dianagram (VORGville): Mike Trout ... most fun player to watch in the majors right now? Most fun player to watch since ... Griffey, Bonds, Bo Jackson, other?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't know if Trout has the persona or charisma of those players, at least as a 20-year-old, so if that affects your enjoyment or appreciation of his play, maybe not. But as far as the actual production and skill set goes? Sure.

Justin Upton (Arizona (for now)): What kind of production do you expect for the rest of my season? Barring a trade to Texas is there any way my fantasy value doesn't go down if I'm traded?

Ben Lindbergh: Well, going purely by park effects, no, you wouldn't expect most Diamondbacks hitters to have better numbers outside of Arizona. In Upton's case, it depends on whether you believe that the proverbial "change of scenery" can help a player who has at times been unhappy with his team (you know, like the times when the team's managing partner publicly questions his performance, or the times when the manager benches him). I think there are times when it can. Regardless of what uniform he's wearing, I expect Upton to rebound. He's too good to be a league-average-ish hitter.

Sweet Lou (Singapore): Hi Ben, if Brother Justin is now unavailable, do the Bucs look to get the Other Brother (ie the real BJ) as a stretch-drive rental?

Ben Lindbergh: You'd think Upton might be more attractive to a team with a need (as opposed to a McCutchen) in center, but there are three outfield spots, and B.J. would certainly make the Bucs better. So, sure, they might look to get him. But whether they actually do get him depends on what the Rays want back, whether they expect Jose Tabata to contribute, whether they can afford to take on the rest of the money owed to Upton after adding Wandy, and a whole host of other factors I might not know any more about than you do.

dan11995 (Atlanta, GA): With the Dempster deal all but dead the Braves will almost certainly turn their attention to Greinke. As a Braves fan, I'm actually happy because I'd hate to lose Randall Delgado. Am I wrong to actually hope that Teheran gets traded away instead of Delgado or would the Brewers demand both pitchers in any Greinke deal?

Ben Lindbergh: Teheran remains the higher-ceiling pitcher, and even though he might have a lesser chance of reaching his ceiling than Delgado does, I think he's still the more valuable prospect. I don't know what the Brewers would demand, but I'd be surprised if the Braves would give up both of those arms for a rental after treating them both as untouchable in 2011.

Jake (chicagoland): Rays surprisingly making a move near the deadline, though for "Utility guy" Ryan Roberts. Do the Rays make some moves (Shields and Upton)at the deadline and realign their assets, while not giving up much ground in standings? Upton may not get huge return, but Rays have to offer 12.5 MIL just to net comp pick for him. Seems like easy decision to me.

Ben Lindbergh: Upton has been on the market before, and the Rays have held onto him. It could happen again. Obviously, their asking price for Upton must be considerably lower now than it was last season, since only a couple months of team control are left on his contract. But the Rays aren't out of it, so they're not going to give him away. I'm sure they're well aware that chasing the Wild Card is a less rewarding proposition than it used to be, thanks to the institution of the play-in game, so if the right offer comes along for Upton or Shields, they'll take it, but whether the right offer will come along is something I don't know. As we know, the Rays are under considerable pressure to economize and keep the cost-controlled talent flowing, so they certainly have some incentive to deal their expiring assets.

Ben (Canada): Do you think the Red Sox would trade Ellsbury seeing as its unlikely he'll resign after the 2013 season because of his agent. And what do you think is wrong with the Sox? They seem to have a lot of great pieces.

Ben Lindbergh: This time tomorrow, I'll be in Ben in Canada, as I'm about to make my semi-annual pilgrimage to BC. For now, though, I'm still Ben in Manhattan, so let me try to answer your question. I think the odds are against an Ellsbury trade. He might re-sign, and if he doesn't, he'll get them a comp pick in the 2014 draft. As my old pal Marc Normandin points out, the Sox are probably hoping that Jackie Bradley will be ready to replace him in center in the event that he leaves.

As for the Sox' struggles: some answers can be found on the disabled list, but it doesn't help that Josh Beckett and Jon Lester (one of the most consistently good starters in baseball over the past four seasons) have been unexpectedly bad. Whether you want to assign any blame to this season's various clubhouse flare-ups is a decision between you and your god.

You're right about the good pieces, though. Despite everything that's gone wrong, the Sox are still at .500 and technically in contention.

Hanley Ramirez (Los Angeles): OK but I was worth 7.8 WARP just four years ago. How much does THAT matter?

Ben Lindbergh: It matters--the fact that Hanley once had a 7.8 WARP season explains why you care that Hanley was traded, just as Ichiro's former stardom explains why you care about an ancient, replacement-level outfielder being traded from a team that's out of contention to a team that has a playoff spot all be secured. Our PECOTA projections take five years of past performance into account, because what a player did years ago tells us something about what he'll do years from now. But recent performance is more predictive.

richardkr34 (Saint Paul, MN): What kind of package, realistically, could the Twins expect for Willingham if they made him available?

Ben Lindbergh: Willingham is in high demand, as you'd expect given his performance this season. Some reports have said that the Twins aren't interested in trading him, while others have said that he is available but that they're asking too much. The concerns with Willingham are that he's never been this good before, he's 33, he's signed through his age-35 season, and he's not really an asset outside of the batter's box (though he's not a huge liability, either). He still has value, but less than his batting line would suggest.

dogtothedog (toronto): BC you going for the weed, or is there something else to do in that province

Ben Lindbergh: I wouldn't know from personal experience, but from what I hear, it's possible to buy such things without spending hundreds of dollars on airfare and taking a five-hour flight. There's a lot to do in BC. For one thing, I have family there. (I'm a dual citizen.) For another, it's very pretty and you can go fishing and skiing and stuff. Also, the air smells good, when you're not surrounded by clouds of weed smoke.

seanlahman (NY): What's your sense of Dusty Baker's performance in Cincinnati this year. The eam is in first place, has won 13 of 15 despite Joey Votto's absence, and yet there's a vocal contingent calling for his head. Are the Reds winning despite him or has he helped the team overcome some obvious holes in their roster? And in a broader sense, why do we have a much harder time quantifying a manager's performance than we do for individual players?

Ben Lindbergh: When I look up a player on Baseball-Reference, I find out how he did. When I look up a manager on Baseball-Reference, I find out how his team did. It's harder to quantify a manager's contribution because we don't know how to measure his leadership skills, and leadership skills make up a bigger percentage of a manager's job than a player's. We track some manager stats at BP, but it's not as easy to translate them into wins and losses as it is with the other stats we provide.

I'm sympathetic to the fan perspective that every questionable tactical move is a fireable offense (In fact, I've even sort of supported it), but the players like Dusty and appear to play hard for him, and that matters too.

Mason (Cincy): Reds are 57-40 and Dusty is without a contract next year. What should the Reds do?

Ben Lindbergh: I imagine they probably should and will extend him.

Dan Turkenkopf (NY): Ben, when you look up a player or manager on Baseball Prospectus, not on Baseball Reference.

Ben Lindbergh: My example was completely hypothetical and for illustrative purposes only, of course.

RMR (Chicago): Though Ludwick and Stubbs have both show signs of life, the Reds could really benefit from an OF who can get on base. If you were Jocketty, who you would be targeting. If I were him, I'd be trying to turn Billy Hamilton's popularity in to a real live MLB OFer. Victorino or Upton would look awfully nice.

Ben Lindbergh: Well, getting on base hasn't exactly been Upton's strength lately, and Hamilton would be a high price to pay for him. Willingham would look nicer. I don't think you're wrong about selling Hamilton potentially being smart in the abstract, though it would probably be disappointing for Reds fans.

Ben Lindbergh: We've been chatting for two hours, and I have some writing and editing ahead of me, so I'm going to stop this one here. As always, I'm grateful that you decided to spend a big chunk of your afternoon chatting at Baseball Prospectus. I should be able to do these things more regularly now that I'm here full time, so I'll talk to you again soon.


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