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Chat: Bill Parker

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday September 24, 2012 2:30 PM ET chat session with Bill Parker.

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Make BP history by asking Bill Parker a question in his inaugural chat.

Bill Parker: Internet Land! I am here to answer your baseball questions. Or other questions. Or sit here by myself and watch the Nationals beat the Brewers. Whatever.

Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): You have Jeff Luhnow's job. Jim Crane tells you that you can spend $40 million on the free agent market. Who are you going to target?

Bill Parker: Um...I probably go back to Jim Crane and ask if I can use it on something else -- bust the draft signing bonus cap, invest a chuck of it to spend even more a year or two down the line, whatever. Because there's no way to spend $40 million right now that makes a meaningful difference for the Astros. You ride the young guys, sign a really cheap veteran to fill spots where there ARE no young guys and you just need a body, and you hold on to your money until you've rebuilt from within and it makes the difference between 85 wins and 90, rather than between 55 wins and 60.

chopper (indy): where do you see skaggs and bradley fitting in the d-backs' rotation in the future? ETA for bradley in the desert? Thank you.

Bill Parker: It's easy to see Bauer, Skaggs and Bradley becoming the best 1-2-3 in baseball. But things never quite work out that way, do they? Skaggs looks like he's ready to be a #4 right now, and certainly has the potential for better if he can cut that walk rate (the bugaboo for all three of them, actually). On Bradley...this isn't really my area of expertise, but it has to be a couple years, doesn't it? He walked almost six per nine in A ball. He could be in the Majors at 23, three years or even four seasons from right now, and would still have a lot of time left to be something special.

Alex (Anaheim): Shutting down Strasburg: prudent, foolish, both?

Bill Parker: I think the Nationals were in the best position to judge, but that they did some bizarre things that it's totally fair to question. I tend to think that limiting him in some way was smart, but can't imagine for the life of me why they wouldn't limit him as they went along, and save some for the stretch drive (which didn't end up being a thing) and the postseason. Unless they've got some research that suggests that pitching six innings every five days is totally optimal usage for protecting his health or something, that's a hard one to explain away.

jlarsen (chicago): Any explanation on why Rays always to get hits on pick-ups and trades that don't seem great/good at on-set and turn into gems in long-run? Fernando Rodney and Jeff Keppinger are doing quite well in unexpected roles for them. It seems Rays always find gold in what now should be called "The Yearly Rays Reliever Reclamation Project"(Al Reyes, Juan Cruz, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Soriano, Kyle Farnsworth, Fernando Rodney)

Bill Parker: I think some of it is just great big-league scouting and statistical analysis, but a lot of it is trial and error, too. The Rays are set up in such a way that they HAVE to sign a bunch of those guys, and while a lot of them will work because the Rays are good at what they do, a lot will fail because they're inherently gambles. They haven't had a lot of luck with veteran catchers the last couple years, and there was that whole Pat Burrell thing.

Colin Wyers (Davenport, IA): Let's say you're on a game show, and behind one door is a car, and behind the other two doors are columns about how Lance Berkman looks like a steroid user. You are asked to pick a door at random, and you will win whatever's behind that door. After you pick the door, the host is required to open one of the doors you didn't pick and show you a column. You now can either stay with the door you picked initially or switch to the other unopened door. What do you do?

Bill Parker: Great question, random reader! I know that the odds say I'm supposed to switch, but I REALLY don't want to see that column, so I probably just jump out the window.

jlarsen (chicago): Winner of AL Central will likely finish with 7th best record in AL. Does that make any sense at all?

Bill Parker: Funny, I think there are a lot of totally reasonable and valid ways the league could be set up, and that the way they've got it is...well, not *invalid*, but one of the least sensible ways. You've got the leagues divided geographically (mostly), and they all play other teams in their division a whole bunch, which would seem to make the divisional races more legit...except then they're also all competing against teams *outside* their division for the wildcard(s), for which you get a huge advantage if you're playing in a weak division. The fact that the Tigers and White Sox are likely to end up 7th and 8th despite getting to pick on the Indians and Twins 38 times this year is just sad. That said, I'd probably balance the schedule and otherwise leave things as they are. Probably means the Central ends up looking even worse, but at least everybody has the same shot at the wildcard slots.

Albert (DC): What do you think of the 2012 Orioles?

Bill Parker: I'm in favor. Look, I know they probably aren't a great team, etc. In my mind, though, there's a difference between wanting a setup that makes it more likely that the best teams come out on top (which is kind of what my last answer was about) and actually wanting the best teams to always come out on top. If we've got a good, competitive system, and you're a mediocre team that somehow beats that system over a full 162-game schedule, good for you! I'd love to see an Orioles-Nats World Series, both because I spent a few years down there and it'd make me happy, and because I think it makes for the best story.

@jakelarsen (chicago): With all the complaining being done by fans and players of the NFL of bad officiating, can the MLB lock out their umpires too due to the idiotic "umpshow" shenanigans going on? Seems that umps like Joe West, CB Bucknor and others believe people are watching the games because of them.

Bill Parker: I agree that this is out of hand, though I don't know how much of it is an actual trend and how much is because the internet, MLB Network, etc. has made it much easier for us to pay attention. I'm a big replay guy, and at this point, anything that moves toward getting calls right and letting the play on the field decide things and away from #umpshow would be good with me. Well, within reason.

Mike Gianella (Bucks County Pennsylvania): Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera for MVP? Why or why not?

Bill Parker: Why, funny you should ask. I happen to have recently written something (not at BP, I'm afraid) about this!
It's getting closer every day...but to me, it's still not *that* close. I hope Cabrera gets the triple crown, because that'd be awesome. But Trout's been almost as awesome with the bat, and a lot better on the bases and in the field.

@jakelarsen (chicago): Did you see "Trouble with the Curve"? Hard to believe that a "soft-bodied" kid was touted as a 5-tool player or considered to be best talent in entire nation. Should Eastwood stop taking scripts and continue to talk to empty chairs?

Bill Parker: I did not, but yes. Grant Brisbee at SB Nation and Emma Span at Sports on Earth both had great takes on the film that convinced me it's not ever going to be worth any of my time. I like what Emma said about it, though -- in a way, the fact that a sabermetrics geek can be the villain in a major film melodrama is kind of a sign of how far we've come, isn't it?

rookie319s (Saint Louis): I am a fan of Joey Gallo. How much will position and contact issues affect his prospect status? Gotta love his power though. Thanks! Good luck at BP.

Bill Parker: I've never seen Gallo play, but I'd temper my expectations a bit. He's just so far away, and that contact issue is a big deal. The position probably isn't as important with a guy with his kind of power, except that his margin for error is pretty slim. But he's a lot like Miguel Sano, in that he's got so much power that if the offense comes together, there'll be a job (and probably a spot on several All-Star rosters) for him no matter where he ends up playing.

Bradley Ankrom (New York): Red Sox and Marlins should pull off a managerial swap: yay or nay?

Bill Parker: That's a phenomenally interesting idea. "You think you've got it bad? See how you like THIS guy!"
Honestly, I suspect (though there's so much we can never know about managers) that neither one really deserves a job anymore, with any team, for very different reasons. But not being a fan of either the Marlins or the Red Sox, I'd really love to see that.

Larry G. (Milwaukee): What is the greatest comic strip (ie, not comic book) ever? Why?

Bill Parker: You want me to say Peanuts, don't you? Okay, I'll say Peanuts. Because baseball.

@jakelarsen (chicago): Looking at the remaining schedule for Wild Card contenders and Division leaders, who do you see making playoffs when all the dust has cleared?

Bill Parker: I think the Yankees win the AL East, because they get to play the Twins now. I think the White Sox win the Central by default, because nobody wants it at all, and obviously the Rangers win the West. I don't see a compelling reason to go against the current WC leaders, Baltimore and Oakland.
In the NL, with the Brewers getting creamed as I type, it's all but set in stone: Washington, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Atlanta and St. Louis.

ERolfPleiss (Wisconsin ): You're bear hunting. You walk 10 miles south, then 10 miles east and find no bears. You walk 10 miles north back to camp. What color are the Bears, and why have the Pirates collapsed?

Bill Parker: Green? And...because there's only so far you can get on a one-man offense? I hated to see it happen, and they're certainly not as bad as they have been for the last month or so, but there's only so far you can get when you're basically scoring runs by wishing and hoping really hard.

jlarsen (chicago): I get that Vince Naimoli agreed for the Rays to be placed in the AL East for attendance reasons back in 1997, however the team has only put 2 MIL through the gates in its inagural season and fact of the matter is...Cleveland might be further east than St. Pete. Can they swap divisions and Rays become perennial AL Central powerhouses?

Bill Parker: Oh, I like that idea a lot (overlooking that I'm a Twins fan). But it won't solve their attendance problems. Only way to do that is to move them to a real baseball stadium, in Tampa proper.

Berman (Atlanta): What's the worst prediction you made before the 2012 season? Best?

Bill Parker: This is a fun one. I'll revisit them all when the smoke clears, but it looks like the worst was that I said the Red Sox would win 93 games and be the #1 wildcard. The best was probably that Andrew McCutchen would lead the NL in at least one of the three versions of WAR/WARP (he's currently got the lead in B-Ref's WAR and is very close in the others).

ERolfPleiss (Wisconsin ): Laffy Taffy or Now and Later? Also, tell us why the Charleston Chew just never really caught on, despite how good it is, especially frozen.

Bill Parker: Laffy Taffy. Charleston Chew is just so hard to eat, even frozen. Its real value, I suppose, is that if you're a parent of a noisy kid, giving him one of those (unfrozen) will keep him quiet for hours.

Bradley Ankrom (New York): Do you dream of doing ballet with Max Kepler?

Bill Parker: Only every night. Honestly, Kepler seems like a really, really interesting character, between the ballet and the Germanness, etc. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens now that he looks like he's finally ready to move out of the rookie league. Hard to believe he's still only 19.

Hoot Stromboli (Toronto (Tigers fan originally from the New York a): Welcome Bill. Allow me to argue that a balanced schedule would nullify one of the points of having geographical divisions - it reduces travel time and time zone hopping. Perhaps, all they need to do is balance the wild card race by disqualifying the inter-league games and the extra intra-division games from counting towards their W-L record of the wild card race.

Bill Parker: Fair points. I've never really liked the wildcard, so I'd have been in favor of going back to two divisions (or maybe going to four?), unbalanced schedule, division winner wins and that's it. But the genie's obviously never going back in that bottle.

Bradley Ankrom (New York): How much regression should we expect from Scott Diamond in 2013?

Bill Parker: Some, certainly. But some of it's already happening. With a decent defense behind him, I think he could put up ERAs in the very low 4s. Solid #3 or 4 pitcher on most teams, ace for the Twins.

Marlo (Baltimore): If you could only watch baseball movies, or only watch Clint Eastwood movies, for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Bill Parker: Clint Eastwood movies, because there are more good ones. Most baseball movies are terrible, and I'd just be watching Major League, Bull Durham and a couple more over and over and over. That'd get old pretty fast.

Ida (Chagrin Falls, OH): How do you explain what has happened to my Indians in 2012, especially the 2nd half?

Bill Parker: There's no explaining a .279 second-half winning percentage, but I think the main things are a total lack of pitching behind Justin Masterson (who hasn't been great either), and the total offensive black holes in the corners (Casey Kotchman, Jack Hannahan and Shelley Duncan/Johnny Damon).

Paul Sporer (Austin, TX): Paul here again... how logical is my burning hate for you simply due to your Twins allegiances and my Tigers allegiances? Rational, super-rational, or the most rational?

Bill Parker: The most rational. Hating others is the whole reason for sports, right? I would suggest, though, that for the time being we put that side and combine forces to focus all our hate on the White Sox and their fans.

Bradley Ankrom (New York): Is this the offseason in which Denard Span is dealt away from Minnesota?

Bill Parker: It seems that way. I don't get it. They've got him crazy-cheap for the next three years, and if they don't think they're going to compete at all in three years, fine, I get that, but then there's a whole laundry list of *other* stuff they should be doing that they haven't been. I guess the thinking is that he and Ben Revere should both be playing CF, but while I love Revere and certainly *can* see him turning into a very good player, I'm not at all convinced that that's what's going to happen, and with his terrible arm, I'm not sure he's not better off just being a really rangy LF. So yeah, I think they will trade him, but I don't really get it.

Matty the K (Portland, OR): What's your favorite thing you've ever written? Also, do you listen to music? And what's wrong with you?

Bill Parker: (a) my answer to this question, right now. (b) no, none. (c) I'm a little thirsty.

john (ct): Orioles-Nats would be great for baseball. As a lifelong O's fan- back to the days of Brooks Robinson, this season has been a very pleasnat surprise. And how about the Nats- no more "first in war, first in peace and last in the American League". Gonzalez just struck out 200. Walter Johnson was the Washington player to do that!

Bill Parker: Not a question, so I don't have an answer, I just love the excitement.

Paul Sporer... diehard Tigers fan (Austin, TX): Why is Jose Valverde?

Bill Parker: Because he's got true closer stuff. You know: big ol' gut, already possesses 273 career saves, has those excruciatingly obnoxious mannerisms closers tend to have. That type of stuff.

jlarsen (chicago): Current bench-player who you could see blossom into star, if he wasn't riding bench/blocked by superstar/wrongfully platooned and was non-tendered or given a "change of scenery"?

Bill Parker: This is a great question, and I've been thinking about this one for most of the last hour and a half, and I haven't been able to come up with a good answer. Does Brandon Belt still count? I think it's crazy that Belt hasn't just played all game for the Giants, every game. I think that's going to be the best I'm able to do. If you've got a better answer, please email or tweet at me (@Bill_TPA or billtpa on gmail). It's bugging me now.

Bill Parker: I think I'm going to end it there. This was fun, and I look forward to doing it again. Thanks for all the questions!


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