The man who knows what you need to know.
Daniel Rathman: It's hard to believe the regular season is already over, but that means it's time to look ahead. Let's get the ball rolling ...
Rockford (Treeline): Thanks for the chat. Should I be excited about either of these two young SP's heading into next year - Shelby Miller and Wily Peralta?
Daniel Rathman: You're welcome, Rockford, thanks for stopping by.
You should be excited about both of them. I'm a huge fan of Shelby Miller, and he showed last night that he's ready to do big things at the major-league level; he'll be among the favorites for Rookie of the Year honors. Peralta has a lower ceiling and is a bit less polished in terms of command and control, but as the Brewers shore up their pitching staff, he should have plenty of opportunities to contribute in 2013.
Alex (Anaheim): Who should the Yankees be hoping to play?
Daniel Rathman: I think the Yankees will be favored in the Division Series regardless of whether they play the Orioles or Rangers, especially with CC Sabathia seemingly back on track, so to me it doesn't really matter. That said, I do still think the Rangers are a markedly superior team to the Orioles, and starting the series with two games in Texas could be troublesome. So if you're a Yankees fan, you probably should be pulling for Baltimore tomorrow.
Randy M. (Shocked): My O's are going to start joe saunders in texas? it's like why bother. just pissing away this magical season in one disastrous move. talk me off the ledge, will you?
Daniel Rathman: I hear you, Randy, although if the regular season means anything, plenty of things we never thought possible have already happened.
The past is obviously ugly: As I wrote in the WYNTK this morning, Saunders is 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in his career in Arlington, and he's given up something like 13 homers in 31 innings. But the problem is that Steve Johnson may not be fully recovered from his late-season knee injury, and the only other option is really to go with Wei-Yin Chen on short rest, which seems to have been ruled out. It's sort of a pick-your-poison situation, and regardless of who gets the ball, I'm sure they will be on a short leash.
Ed W (Washington State): Mariners fire another hitting coach, does this acutally do anything or is it just a way of scapegoating another crappy season?
Daniel Rathman: It's scapegoating, mostly, but I think in this case the Mariners are also looking for a bit of a fresh start. As was reported several days ago, they are moving in the outfield walls at Safeco, which should both help the hitters already on their roster and perhaps attract more free agents to Seattle. But one thing getting a new hitting coach now does, is when hitters like Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager begin to post better overall numbers, the organization will be able to spin it as the new hitting coach making a difference.
john (chicago): So this was a pretty serious year for the pitcher, no? What was your favorite dominant pitching performance from the year? And do you think next season will be similar? (not in # of no-hitters, mind you, but in the relative success of defense over offense)
Daniel Rathman: We certainly saw a lot of remarkable pitching feats this year. I'm biased, as a Giants fan, but my two favorites were probably Matt Cain's perfect game on June 13 (which, by the way, I didn't see live because I was on a flight to Europe) and the duel between Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw on Aug. 20. Kris Medlen's outing against the Nationals a few weeks ago was also very fun to watch.
I don't think there are any obvious reasons to expect significant changes between 2012 and 2013, so I expect that we'll see a lot of the same things, especially as more and more teams adopt the aggressive defensive shifts pioneered by the Rays and Brewers.
Rockford (Treeline): With all the breakout seasons from several rookies this year, what rookies do you see potential big seasons from next year?
Daniel Rathman: You mentioned Shelby Miller and Wily Peralta earlier. Among pitchers, I think we'll see a much better showing from Tyler Skaggs and Casey Kelly in the National League, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing Dylan Bundy in the AL. At the plate, I'll go with Jurickson Profar, Wil Myers, and perhaps toward the end of the year, a cameo from Billy Hamilton.
MG67 (NYC): I know everyone's all excited about Houston's turnaround with KG in the front office now, but seriously, how long do you think it'll take to turn Houston around?
Daniel Rathman: They did a great job plucking high-upside talent in the draft last year, and I'm a big fan of the way Jeff Luhnow has handled things in his first year. The move to the AL probably sets the Astros back a bit, but I think you'll see things begin to come together for a wild-card run in 2015.
Jake (Springfield): So, Valentine is gone.
Most disastrous managerial hire in decades, or ultimately just a flukish year with his hiring/firing having little outcome on the past/present/future Sox?
Daniel Rathman: One reason that the Bobby Valentine hire came to be viewed so negatively is that we sort saw this coming. It seemed as though everyone recognized that besides the higher-ups in the Red Sox organization. And because of that, I think the adverse effect of having Valentine as skipper has been severely overblown. With all the injuries the Red Sox had and the pitching staff that was assembled, I don't think the second coming of John McGraw could have managed this team to the playoffs.
Aceathon (College): What even happened to the Texas Rangers? Is there a clubhouse issue? Are we overreacting to them getting BABIPed for 10 games straight? Will they go as far as the ALCS? Do the O's have a reasonable chance (outside of the notion that "anything could happen") Are the A's a serious world series threat?
Daniel Rathman: I think this is a bit of an overreaction, though if the Rangers don't beat the Orioles tomorrow, going from five games up with nine to play to falling short of the Division Series will be billed as a collapse. It's hard to call Josh Hamilton's error, which changed the complexion of yesterday's game, anything more than a fluke.
If the Rangers advance, I think they'll give the Yankees a run for their money, but I have concerns about both the rotation and the bullpen if Mike Adams is unable to return. I do not see the A's as a World Series threat, though it's getting increasingly difficult to doubt them. I have them edging past the Tigers in the ALDS, then getting bounced in the ALCS.
GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): 2 somewhat related questions:
On the season the Orioles have out-performed their run differential, but is the team they'll put on the field tomorrow demonstrably better than what their season run differential would otherwise suggest?
What are the A's prospects next year and beyond? Did they have too many players playing out of their minds this year? Will they have the payroll flexibility to replace or augment some of the players who shouldn't be expected to perform so well again?
In other words, how real are these two teams in the here and now? And can they be expected to be factors next year? Thanks.
Daniel Rathman: I believe Adam Sobsey wrote about the O's remarkable roster turnover throughout this season, so I do believe the team that will take the field tomorrow is demonstrably better than what they had at times this season. In the near term, I think both the A's and O's will fall back a bit, and that's partly because the teams in their divisions that finished behind them are likely to improve. But there is a lot of young talent on both rosters, from Machado and Bundy in BAL to Parker and Cespedes in OAK, so I'd caution against overlooking either of them in 2013.
myshkin (Santa Clara, CA): Jose Bautista had something of an odd season, what with the slow start, a hot streak that looked like a return to form, and then the injury. What do you expect from him next year?
Daniel Rathman: If Bautista is healthy, I think we'll see his counting stats move back toward where he was in 2010-2011, as he was on that track before the wrist injury. Assuming 150 games, I'll ballpark it at .265/.385/.600 with 45 home runs.
basilfawlty (San Jose): So next year we won't get a Mike Trout-type rookie performance (when will we ever?) but is there anyone you're looking forward to being basically an automatic mention in 2013's What You Need To Know?
Daniel Rathman: Trout is a once-in-a-generation talent, so it may be decades until we see someone approximate what he did this year. I've mentioned these names already, but guys like Miller, Bundy, and Profar will figure prominently in the WYNTK, if they land regular roles from the get-go.
Homer (Ontario): how would you rank Turner, Peralta, Kelly, Volquez, Corbin and Pomeranz for next year?
Daniel Rathman: I'll say Kelly, Turner, Volquez, Peralta, Pomeranz, Corbin.
rangerfans2 (Texas): Which Rangers prospect has the highest ceiling?
Brinson, Beras, Guzman, Mazara, Gallo?
Daniel Rathman: I don't know a huge amount about some of these guys, and Jason Parks is probably the man to answer this. But I'd go with Brinson, as a potential five-tool, all-around stud, and Guzman, as a potential all-league hitter, as the two with the most potential.
stewbies (Rochester): I can keep 4 guys for as long as I want in a 14 team 5 x 5 league. I already have Braun, Cano and McCutcheon. Teams rarely keep pitchers. Should I keep Pedroia, Cain, Bruce, Sale, Bumgarner, Hosmer or C. Santana?
Daniel Rathman: When it comes to fantasy, my strategy is always best-player-available, regardless of position. From that standpoint, I'd keep Pedroia and draft pitching. Bumgarner would top the list of pitchers, if you prefer to go in that direction.
Alex (Anaheim): Is Swisher leaving the Bronx in the offseason?
Daniel Rathman: This obviously will depend on the price tag, but given his strong finish, I think the Yankees will try to keep Swisher around. There are plenty of outfielders on the market, but each of them has certain warts, and Swisher may offer the safest bet for short-term production. If he doesn't demand an exorbitant five-year deal, I think he'll stay around.
john (chicago): Number of wins for the Orioles next season?
Daniel Rathman: Now that they've cracked the shell, I think Dan Duquette will make a few offseason moves to supplement what's already on the roster. I'll put the over/under at 87.
Adam (Rochester): Thoughts on these hitters for next year (for fantasy purposes) - Seagar, Gomez, Frazier, Mayberry, Snider and E. Cabrera?
Daniel Rathman: Bullish on Everth Cabrera, as kind of a poor man's Elvis Andrus who won't kill you anywhere but will help big-time with steals at SS. Also like Seager with the Safeco fences being moved in. Not crazy about either Snider or Mayberry, and the rest are somewhere in between.
Tommy (Btown): What do you make of Logan Morrison? He came up and hit well. Since he has dealt with the knee injuries, he has not hit well. With this recent knee surgery, will the hitting return next season?
Daniel Rathman: I still like Logan Morrison a lot, and expect him to come around if healthy. He'll be on my list of fantasy sleepers for 2013, and I think he'll at least return to his 2011 levels of production.
RMR (Chicago): The Reds managed a measly 2.9 R/G since September 1st (29 games). As a Reds fan, how worried should I be?
Daniel Rathman: As a Giants fan, I certainly hope it continues, but I wouldn't be exceedingly worried. I don't expect Joey Votto's home run drought to last much longer, and Ryan Ludwick should do better than the one he hit in September. This seems like sort of an ebb-and-flow of an offense that (in part because of its ballpark) relies on home runs, and as soon as those start to come again, there won't be any more reason to worry.
AJ35 (MN): Picks for the one game playoffs and the playoffs in general?
Daniel Rathman: I'll take the Braves and Rangers tomorrow, and the Nationals over the Yankees in the World Series.
Daniel Rathman: Thanks to everyone who stopped by. This was a lot of fun! I hope to see you in the BP Roundtable tomorrow (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18541), and we'll do this again soon.