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Chat: Ben Lindbergh

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday November 28, 2012 2:00 PM ET chat session with Ben Lindbergh.

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Chat with the editor-in-chief.

Ben Lindbergh: Let us begin.

Mikeleelop (Toronto): anything happening with Scutaro?

Ben Lindbergh: /licks finger, holds up to wind

Nope, the ol' index finger free agent test suggests that nothing's happening with Scutaro. Haven't read a rumor about him for several days, but maybe that's because all the rumor writers have already told us that it's just a matter of time until he ends up back in San Francisco on a two-year deal.

ndemause (Brooklyn, NY): If the Evan Longoria contract extension were a song from last night's Neil Young concert, which song would it be?

Ben Lindbergh: "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," with the black being the Rays' surplus value.

floydwicker (San Francisco): Who closes in Houston?

Ben Lindbergh: Boy. Wilton Lopez, maybe? So says Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts, who spends his days monitoring these things so the rest of us don't have to.

Steve G. (Athens, OH): Hey Ben, I'm not sure if you noticed but the Hall of Fame ballot this year includes names such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire. We hear a lot about should they be in the hall of fame or not, what do you think the writers will do?

Ben Lindbergh: They're going to vote Bonds and Clemens in eventually, I think--it's much harder to justify an argument that they wouldn't have been Hall of Famers without steroids than it is for Sosa and McGwire, and the Hall is going to have to have the best players ever in it if it wants people to pay to get in. But as that guy in Gladiator says, "Not yet...not yet."

jlarsen (chicago): Which reliever got overpaid, League or Broxton? Also, it seems Broxton's avg. fastball dipped by 3 mph from 2011 to 2012(from Marc Simon tweet). Was this reason for small improvement in control or is this a worrisome dip that could be due to injury?

Ben Lindbergh: Can't it be both? If I have to pick one, I'll go with League. According to Brooks Baseball, Broxton's average fastball velo rose from 2011 to 2012. Fell a few ticks from 2009 to 2010.

jlarsen (chicago): Ben, I think that the question-er was hinting at the pending deal between the Phillies and Astros that has Wilton Lopez being sent to Phillies for prospects. Most people, ok fine, some people are wondering who Astros have left in the bullpen to close if Lopez is indeed dealt.

Ben Lindbergh: Oh! Excuse my ignorance of recent rumors--today has been busy. In that case...man. Wesley Wright had one save last year. That makes him the incumbent!

FletchLives (Wisconsin): Hi Ben, If you could ask Commissioner Selig one question, what would it be?

Ben Lindbergh: "Is that the same grey suit and red tie you were wearing yesterday, or do you just have a whole huge closet of them?"

bradleyankrom (nyny): Who plays Andrew Brackman in 2008 YANKEES SYSTEM?

Ben Lindbergh: Manny Banuelos. Pretty sure 2008 was the one Brackman sat out while rehabbing from Tommy John. But I can also see an argument for Betances--starter with lousy control becomes bullpen guy.

Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): The guys at that other publication recently gave the Astros' farm system a fairly glowing review and said it's probably somewhere in the neighborhood of the 4th-7th best system in baseball right now. Where does it rank in your book?

Ben Lindbergh: My book's knowledge of prospects isn't comprehensive enough to put a number on it or get much more specific than "good." We'll have org rankings from the BP scouting staff once the Top 10 series is complete.

Nonats Stanton (Mieverywhere): Hi Ben, Thanks for chatting! I am fascinated by the leap that Cliff Lee took from scrap-heap to ace. Every ace has to take a leap forward in the majors, but the RJohnson/CLee paths of "finding control" are the most interesting to me. Has BP ever done any background on Lee's shift? Or do you know of any definitive work on it?

Ben Lindbergh: Marc Normandin, Eric Seidman, and Kevin Goldstein tag-teamed on a Player Profile of Lee in 2008 that might be of interest. And before he came to BP, Mike Fast wrote up the PITCHf/x perspective on Lee's turnaround in the 2009 Hardball Times Annual.

Mikeleelop (Toronto): Is the lack of free agent signings due to the relative weak class this year? You could argue that none of the top 10 have signed yet.

Ben Lindbergh: I don't really think so. Maybe it's a matter of players reading about all the TV money and looking for more money themselves. I'm sure we'll see plenty of activity in Nashville next week.

Bill (New Mexico): Any predictions as to players that Houston, Cubs, Twins and other bottom feeders might take a flyer on in the Rule V draft? From what I've seen, it doesn't look like a very appetizing bunch to choose from, but have I missed anything?

Ben Lindbergh: Seems like Josh Fields and Marc Krauss could be off the board early. I've read Randy Henry, Chris McGuiness...but temper your expectations, since there aren't impact players that often. It won't happen, but how fun would it be if some team selected Pat Venditte, the Yankees' ambidextrous reliever? So fun. That's how fun it would be. I believe he's eligible for the first time.

William (Pensacola, FL): Care to share some of your favorite Minor League Stadiums ?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm an only child--I never had to share growing up, and I'm not about to start now. To be honest, I don't get to minor-league games often, though I enjoy them when I do.

Chopper (Indy): Do you think Casey Janssen (assuming he recovers well from recent surgery) is a top 5-10 closer in 2013? What do you expect from Carl Crawford in LA? Thanks!

Ben Lindbergh: I probably wouldn't project him to be, but I wouldn't be surprised if he were. There are very few late-inning relievers whom I'd be surprised to hear turned into a top 5-10 closer in any given season. I'm cautiously optimistic that Crawford won't be dead weight. He's not old enough or far enough removed from being good for me to write him off.

Nick (South Dakota): Starlin Castro for Giancarlo Stanton straight up...who says no more emphatically?

Ben Lindbergh: The Marlins. Starlin Castro makes money.

floydwicker (California): Who closes in Houston?

Ben Lindbergh: Come on, I'm not falling for that again

Chris (between the keyboard and the chair): This business about the Royals trading Wil Myers is nonsense, isn't it? He's just the shiny new object that all of a sudden everybody has fixated on, so they think that he's attainable.

Ben Lindbergh: Yes, most likely. R.J. Anderson wrote a great article earlier this week about what it might mean if he were traded, but as Sam and I discussed on the podcast, this is probably just a matter of a team being willing to listen to offers because, well, why wouldn't you be?

Nils (Stamford): What's wrong with Mike Montgomery? Do you think he will ever be able to make it in the majors as a SP?

Ben Lindbergh: Well, we're talking about the team of Kyle Davies and Luke Hochevar here. You don't necessarily have to to be a good pitcher to be a Royals pitcher for a long time. So I'll say that he makes it in the sense that he is a major-league starter for a while, but not necessarily a good one. For that, you'll have to wait for the Royals prospect list, which will be out soon.

Since that wasn't a very satisfying answer, I'm just going to pretend you asked about Mark Montgomery instead. In which case: Nothing! Nothing is wrong with Mark Montgomery. (I really like Mark Montgomery, mostly because he reminds me of David Robertson.)

Adam (Rochester, NY): How about a BP event in Rochester in 2013?

Ben Lindbergh: This might not be a bad idea for BP (Rochester has the third-highest population of any city in NY state! Who knew!), but it might be a bad idea for me. My girlfriend's family is from Syracuse and would be insulted if we did a Rochester event without also doing a Syracuse event. And if we did a Syracuse event, we'd be on a slippery slope that leads to a BP event in every small hamlet in upstate New York.

jlarsen (chicago): Are "RBIs" as a contract-influencing and "Triple Crown" category stat a bit outdated? I believe that many of the writers here and others throughout the interwebs have proven that there's more precise stats that scale a player's significance to his team than a stat that is listed as an individual player's stat but are influenced by his team's ability to get baserunners, line-up placement and other factors(as luck, clutchness and situational hitting)?

Ben Lindbergh: Sure. It would be interesting to see if they actually are contract influencing any more--my guess is that if they have any effect on earnings, over and above other, more accurate measures of productivity, it's a small one. MVP vote influencing is another matter.

Josh (The lonesome, crowded west): Is Adrian Gonzalez going to get his power back?

Ben Lindbergh: Yes? Yes. I'm saying yes.

michaelgrace (Chicago): How do you think these colossal tv contracts will effect the future of free agency?

Ben Lindbergh: Man, more questions about TV contracts than anything else today. I think we might be approaching the point where people become more interested in TV contracts than any other aspect of baseball, so they stop watching the games to concentrate more closely on the TV contracts and then the ratings and the contracts go away.

More TV money means more money for free agents, as long as the TV money lasts. And maybe it means that more teams can compete for free agents, though it's possible that the richer teams will get the richer local contracts and only reinforce their financial advantage.

Jim (Seattle): Please tell loyal readers in Seattle that we don't need to summon sacrifices for BP events to happen here...I suggested that to Kevin Goldstein but he may travel on Houston 's budget now.

Ben Lindbergh: Now that the Mariners have released Chone Figgins, Seattle is safe for BP events again.

jlarsen (chicago): Here's a great question surrounding today's HOF decisions being made. If a HOF voter had ever voted a HOF-ballot player to win MVP or CY award when those players had PED-use suspicisions surrounding them...how can they say that PED-use is reason why this player cannot be in Hall of Fame? Seems to be hypocritical to allow a player to win an award despite suspicisions but not allow them to be considered a Hall-of-famer. Do we open up can of worms on current HOFers on suspected "Greenies" users or current minor leaguers using Adderall?

Ben Lindbergh: This question makes my head hurt. Let's just vote or not vote for the performance, people. Think about how much moralizing we can save ourselves.

jlarsen (chicago): Considering the Rays luck with "buy-low" types of guys, plus noted possible interest in Chone Figgins and Ryan Raburn, does either player have anything serviceable left in them to make them another possible future success story for the team? Chone's tenure in Seattle seems to say that he wasn't a great everyday starter, but definitely didn't deserve to get mothballed as he did(considering Seattle's lineup and Safeco's park factors). Also, which team sounds most likely to give Grady Sizemore or Jason Bay long enough looks to see if either can regain past statuses as star-level players?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't know--what about Figgins suggests that he has something left? It doesn't seem to me that he was unjustly marginalized in Seattle. I'd rather take a chance on Raburn.

I'd say the Indians would be a favorite for both Sizemore and Bay, though both players are probably "minor-league deal with invite to spring training" types at this point?

Geoff (Memphis): Why are you so enthralled with catcher framing?

Ben Lindbergh: How often does a discovery come along that can change your perception of a player as completely as catcher framing? I'd be enthralled with any stat that seemed to suggest that a player we previously thought of as replacement level was actually an extremely productive player all along.

ORWahoo (Tigard): Did you play "Ben" in the Pedro Almodóvar movie, "Talk to Me"?

Ben Lindbergh: I didn't, but the guy who did needs to get the hell out of my Google results. The other Ben Lindbergh has been coasting along on that one credit for a decade. He's had his time in the search-result sun, and now he needs to make some room for the rest of us.

cal guy (cal): If you were building a team which P, OF and IF would you choose from: Cole, Walker or Fernandez; Taveras, Myers or Castellanos; Bogaerts, Baez or Correa?

Ben Lindbergh: In my unenlightened prospect opinion: Cole, Taveras, and...Baez, I guess, because he's closer.

Jake (Springfield): When's the skype video chat recorded episode of Effectively Wild coming out? The people demand it!

Ben Lindbergh: No one has demanded this, and no one in their right mind ever would.

joseconsuervo (Ann Arbor): Why don't you have a wikipedia page?

Ben Lindbergh: I guess because the internet has collectively decided I don't deserve one. The internet is probably right.

jlarsen (chicago): Speaking of Ben Lindbergh's, have you ever googled your name and enjoyed seeing the results? Google picture results can also result in hilarity, as well.

Ben Lindbergh: I have certainly self-Googled, if my answer about the other Ben Lindbergh with an IMDB credit wasn't giveaway enough. My favorite result of self-Googling is probably the time that a blogger writing about a BP book tour event at Politics & Prose described me as "peach-fuzzed."

Josh (Chicago): Re: framing. How do you account for blatantly missed calls by the umpire? Or is this to be considered "skill"?

Ben Lindbergh: I'd consider it a skill if it's repeatable.

R.A. Wagman (Toronto): Marvin Miller set in motion a sequence of events that changed the face of the game, and ultimately, all of professional sports in the Western Hemisphere. Can you envision what the next context-changing catalyst will be? On-field or off.

Ben Lindbergh: Geez, Ryan, why not ask me a difficult question instead of lobbing a softball like this one? Off the top of my head, I'm going to say genetic modification.

Rob (Alaska): I'm trying to wrap my head around what the new TV money might mean. Care to look out over the horizon and predict some zany outcomes? I'm wondering, for example, if a new TV deal might not mitigate the Rays' problems with ballpark/attendance.

Ben Lindbergh: The Rays having a $100 million player is sort of a zany outcome, isn't it? I think you could be correct.

@DrTokuBall (Kansas City ): Shouldn't the question of a Royals-Rays trade be Wil Myers plus a throw-in for David Price?

Ben Lindbergh: As Sam said on our podcast the other day, in the unlikely event that a Myers trade happens, Tampa Bay would seem to make the most sense as a destination, though I don't think Price would be the likeliest pitcher to go back to KC.

Mikeleelop (Toronto): what work do the BlueJays have left? Everyday 2B, upgrade at 1b and another experienced starting pitcher? AA would be looking to the trade market for all this, rumour is that he told JPA that he was going to be with team in 2013. Isn't he one of their best trade chips right now?

Ben Lindbergh: In general, I wouldn't put too much stock in something a GM said if we're aware that he said it.

Jon V. (Derby,KS): Do you buy the Cardinals line that they are going to do nothing at SS and bank on Furcal's health and Kozma as the backup? Seems like a potential repeat of the Berkman issue last year, except Kozma (or Jackson for that matter) aren't Allen Craig.

Ben Lindbergh: I sort of buy it in that the market isn't exactly flush with shortstops. Would it be that easy to get an upgrade over Furcal?

BeplerP (New York): Ben: Proposed: The Mets are the "village that had to be destroyed to save it". While there are, and there are coming, good arms, a team on which Lucas Duda is regarded as any kind of key offensive element needs to be torn down. What do you suggest? And is a deal for David Wright a bad idea at this time?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't think it's definitely a bad idea in the abstract. It's only a bad idea if they overpay. It's not as if the Mets couldn't contend with a productive Wright making a reasonable amount of money. Then again, I don't know all the specifics of the Mets' financial situation, which is probably a good thing for my peace of mind.

jlarsen (chicago): What is going on with Ben Cherington? He's supposed to be "smart" and has smart guys around him, but Napoli/C.Ross/Swisher? What in the world? Going for an un-clutch All-Star lineup? Napoli is nearing end of peak years and swung at more pitches out of zone than Carlos Pena. Swisher plays decent in regular season, but he enters "Witness Protection Program" in postseason. Cody Ross is the only guy I'd keep, but that's only to make up for signing Gomes for more money than he was even asking for.

Ben Lindbergh: Swisher's postseason struggles are interesting, aren't they? Normally we sabermetric types are the first to defend fleeting un-clutchness, but in Swisher's case, the sample size is starting to get rather, well, not-small. But I don't think it would be not-small enough to dissuade me from signing him for what he does during the first six months of the season.

Ben Lindbergh: All, I'm going to have to wrap up here, but only so that I can go write other things that you'll be able to read. Thanks for making this fun.


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