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Chat: Paul Sporer

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday December 18, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with Paul Sporer.

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BP fantasy author and Towers of Power Podcast co-host Paul Sporer stops by to help you start planning your 2013 strategy.

Paul Sporer: Good afternoon, everybody! We'll get started soon.

ThatDude (Somewhere): Hey Paul, I was thinking about doing fantasy baseball again after not playing it for a while. The main issue I had was keeping my roster up to date and making sure my lineups were set, any suggestions or ideas to help combat that problem?

Paul Sporer: For the less avid players I know who worry about that same issue, they've obviously made sure they played a manageable number of leagues, usually no more than 2, and they also make sure their league site has a smartphone app so if they can't always get on the computer, they can still keep up with things. I know ESPN and CBS both have apps. I can't speak for Yahoo! for sure.

AJ (Glendale): This girl I've been seeing is great and we share the same views on politics, religion, and having kids... but she doesn't like baseball(!). Not only does she not understand fantasy baseball (which is "stupid'), she doesn't even know who Mike Trout is. I have to break up with her, don't I?

Paul Sporer: LOL. You don't *have* to, especially if she's awesome otherwise. In my experience, I have more fun with the girls who don't know much about/care much about baseball in the beginning yet begin to enjoy it through me. Not in any forced way, just via osmosis over time.

Francois (Toronto): In a dynasty league I'm looking to deal my Tyler Skaggs for Billy Hamilton. I need a CF (for next season), and I have plenty of SP depth. I should take this deal and squeal with joy, right?

Paul Sporer: Yes, even if you didn't have the pitching depth. Hitting over pitching when dealing with fantasy prospects is definitely the way to go as a rule of thumb, but then you have a situation where the fantasy value of Hamilton is much higher (potentially, of course) than Skaggs' even if Skaggs gets pretty close to his high ceiling.

Xolo (Sudamerica): Is Rick Porcello the breakout candidate that his upwardly trending peripherals suggest that he is? And is Detroit really willing to move him for an RP?

Paul Sporer: Yes and no. Or at least I desperately the latter is a no. I saw the Porcello/Hanrahan stuff being floated and never really bought it. The Porcello/Bourjos talk is much more viable (and as a Tigers fan, I'd LOVE it).

I'm a big fan of Porcello and think he has has star potential, though not with this infield defense behind him. It just doesn't suit his game so they might as well parlay him for a big return.

Jason A (Detroit): How far will your love of Allen Craig go?

Paul Sporer: I've already taken him in the top 35 of three leagues. Renaming my beagle The Wrench is the obvious next step.

Sara (Tacoma): What do you think of Trevor Bauer for his long-term career prospects? I've soured on him a bit, but the upside is still enticing. Would you buy, sell, or stand pat?

Paul Sporer: The ceiling remains sky-high, but it all hinges on his command. He butted heads with the organization in Arizona, but there should be no surprises for Cleveland. They know what they're buying, so if they don't like his style, they probably wouldn't have bought in. I'm buying in because the price is low and may never be this low again. The incredible potential is too much not to be enticed by.

Nick (Oakland): Trout in CF, Hamilton in LF, Trumbo in RF... correct? Swap Trout and Hamilton? A different variation?

Paul Sporer: Your first iteration is correct. If anything, I'd think maybe Hamilton and Trumbo could swap at times. Bourjos will get time, too, though he is obviously part of trade rumors. The Angels seem ripe for another move involving their OF depth and if they want something of substance, they'll trade Bourjos or Trumbo because no one is giving much for V.Wells even if they do pay a lot of the $42 billion he is due this year.

cal guy (cal): Please rank for a dynasty league: Cole, Walker, Fernandez and Bauer.

Paul Sporer: Cole, Bauer, Fernandez, Walker. I actually *like* Fernandez the most, but you want more certainty and Cole and Bauer have hit AAA & the majors, respectively, so they're more actualized than the other two. Prospecting with pitchers is a tough game so you have to take the edges in "certainty" when you can, especially since the talent disparity isn't huge betwixt these four.

Frank (Seattle): Who is closing for your TIgers this year: Bruce Rendon, Rafael Soriano, or the field? And if not Soriano, where does he close this year?

Paul Sporer: Gimme the field. Rondon is going to be given a shot according to the organization, but he's 21 with 8 Triple-A innings under his extremely stretched out belt (bc he's fat).

Tommy (Flowmont): Thanks for the chat today. After a poor showing last year is there hope for some value in Devin Mesoraco this season? Also do the Rockies still plan on that horrible idea of limiting starters to 75 pitches?

Paul Sporer: You're welcome, thank you for joining! Catching prospects are poor fantasy investments. Even the can't-missiest of can't misses Matt Wieters has been underwhelming from a fantasy perspective. There is so much to their development that isn't related to hitting that they often take a while to fully develop. There are exceptions like Wilin Rosario but that's because he plays in Coors and doesn't actually know how to catch. The rule is that prospect catchers aren't worth it *cough* D'Arnaud *cough*. Re: the Rockies, I'm not sure. Walt Weiss is a complete unknown at this point. If so, it really limits any upside guys like Chacin, de la Rosa or Nicasio might have.

Sean (Redwood): I'm joining a 20-team dynasty league (mixed) with auction draft next spring. The top 50 prospects or so will be available to draft followed by a 25-round prospect draft. 1) Who would your top ten MLB targets be? 2) General strategy for an auction like that?

Paul Sporer: That is awesome! MLB targets? In no order and off the top of my head I'd be wanting obvious guys like Trout, Stanton, Harper, Heyward, Longoria, Kemp, Votto and J-Up to build my team around. The strategy depends on whether you want to immediately or not (I always do). I wouldn't completely eschew prospects, but I certainly wouldn't favor them like most do in dynasty leagues.

jlarsen (chicago): Dumber Baseball Player with Anti-Gay Slur made public? Yunel Escobar "eye-black" incident or Noah Syndergaard's Croc-related tweet?

Paul Sporer: Yunel easy. Pre-mediated garbage. Syndergaard's was 20-year old idiocy. There's no reason for it and it needs to be stamped out, but it's not nearly as stupid as what Yunel did.

Jonah (Brooklyn): Seattle and KC don't have a closer who has his gig locked down. I'm betting on Carter Capps in Seattle and Kelvin Herrera in Kansas City (unless Ventura is moved to the bullpen down the road). Smart money, or should I invest in someone else?

Paul Sporer: What's wrong with incumbents Wilhelmsen and Holland? You can speculate on those others on the cheap, but I'd still bet on the 2012 guys.

Tyson (Chicago): Peter Bourjos for Nick Castellanos; who hangs up first?

Paul Sporer: I think it could be reasonably discussed, but ideally the Tigers would shift focus back to Porcello and look to play that angle.

cal guy (cal): Please rank these hitters for a dynasty league: Baez, Castellanos, Bogaerts, Machado.

Paul Sporer: Machado, Castellanos, Baez, Bogaerts

jlarsen (chicago): Barring an contract extension or unforeseen change in organizational approach, Wil Myers will start the year in AAA. With a call-up ranging anywhere from late-April to June, is Myers draftable in later rounds or do you try to sneak him as a waiver-claim in late April and hope that he gets an early call-up?

Paul Sporer: Definitely depends on league size and roster construction. If I have precious few reserve spots like ESPN where the default is three, then I'm passing in anything fewer than 14-15 tm mixers.

Jesse (CA): Which Angels players has the most trade value? Bourjos,Trumbo or Morales?

Paul Sporer: I think you've got the order right.

jerkstore (new york): who do you think you are?

Paul Sporer: Paul Sporer

Xolo (Sudamerica): Is Edwin Jackson a safe bet on a three or four year contract?

Paul Sporer: 20 year contract!!!!

Joking aside, yes I think he is a safe bet, especially if the SD rumors come to fruition. His skills continue and he is an ultra-talented arm.

Sean (Texas): Given the value the Mets got for Dickey, if Seattle ever decided to trade King Felix, what caliber prospect(s) would make it go down easier for fans?

Paul Sporer: A++ ones. Of course, it would depend when he is traded, too. Toronto got to negotiate an extension and KC got Shields for 2 years. So even though he is better than both, if it's a rental, the return will be good, not great.

Alex (Anaheim): I'm always in the final 4 in my fantasy league, but haven't won in some time. I fully realize some of this is due to bad luck, but is there a strategy or statistic I might be overlooking?

Paul Sporer: It'd be hard to know without a deeper-dive, but I find runs scored to be the most underrated fantasy statistic of standard 5x5 leagues. There isn't a huge skill component to the stat obviously, but it gets overlooked. If you're consistently finishing in the money, I'd keep the foundation you have in place for sure. Perhaps there is that key trade you're missing in the summer to address your weakest category/categories?

Jason A (Detroit): are our Tigers gonna trade Porcello? either way, is it a good idea?

Paul Sporer: Maybe is the only real answer, but yes it is a good idea if the returns are good enough. You can never have too much pitching so the notion that they HAVE to move he or Smyly is not only dumb, but incorrect (it's been floated out there by many). But they are right to listen to offers on two exciting starting pitchers when they can still better their team and finally secure the elusive title.

Lewis (Houston): Is Joey Gallo the next Mike Stanton?

Paul Sporer: We are a long way from that, but his power is undeniably awesome.

Jake (Philly): Paul, BA recently came out with their top 10 prospects for the Phillies and have Jesse Biddle at no. 1. What are your thoughts on him? What is his ceiling? No. 2? Thanks!

Paul Sporer: Probably closer to a 3 which is still quite good, but it isn't out of the realm to see a 2 develop, either.

DougieG20 (Work): I have Headley for $10. I have to keep him right? I have Longoria for $32 and feel like he will earn that easily too and we're in year 4 of a keeper league starting to see real inflation on hitters. I just don't see Headley repeating 2012 again, or even earning much more than the $10 price tag. I have to go against my gut on this and at least keep Headley if not both (and fill my UT spot w/ Longo) right?

Paul Sporer: You have to keep him or trade him, but you certainly can't throw him back. He had to be earning $10 in his full seasons prior to 2012, right? I understand the skepticism with the power surge, but this is a really good player, plus they moved the fences in. You know your league better, so if Longo would go upwards of $40 in the auction with the inflation, then he is worth holding at $32. Do you not a have CI spot for one of them?

Jason A (Detroit): On the podcast you talked about stolen bases, and how managers affect them. What players do you feel have the most potential for an increase in steals this year?

Paul Sporer: I would direct you attention here - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18990

Matt (Kansas City): Paul, thanks for the chat today! What is Miguel Sano's ceiling? Does he stick at 3B? Will his K rate hold him back?

Paul Sporer: You're quite welcome! It's extremely high with the bat, but there is a tooooon of swing-and-miss right now. It will hold back his batting average, but I don't think it will keep him from overall success. Likely to be on the other side of the diamond in first or right as a three true outcomes guy.

Tommy (Flowmont): I realize each team is probably making money, but... Do you see a time where the richer teams can just buy out prospects/players from lower income teams? By that I mean essentially offer nothing but money to the more cash strapped teams.

Paul Sporer: No because teams just aren't strapped for cash like they may've been back in the day decades ago. I believe I heard the number of $9 billion dollars in revenues coming into the game in the the next year or two and it's at $7-something right now. That isn't done by 4-5 teams hoarding all of the money, every single team is making money hand over fist.

Ernie (Colorado): Will Eric Young Jr. ever get a legitimate chance to start for a decent span of time to prove himself?

Paul Sporer: Probably not by choice. In other words, only injury would facilitate such a move. He is nothing without Coors: 764 home/569 road OPS

allangustafson (San Diego ): Will the power return for Gonzalez? Who would be a better keeper (value) in 12 team 12 keeper league, Napoli, Morse, or Chris Davis?

Paul Sporer: Yes, I think it will once he's truly 100% healthy. If they're all the same price, I'd rank Napoli tops because he's heading to Fenway (probably, that's still unsettled) with catcher eligibility and he's not going to catch so his playing time and health should rise. Then I'd go Morse and Davis.

Xolo (Sudamerica): What do you expect from Chase Headley in 2013?

Paul Sporer: .290-100-22-97-12

Caleb (St. Louis): Paul, what are your thoughts on Justin Maxwell in Houston? The guy had 18 homers in only 315 AB's last year. Is he a sleeper for next year? Thanks.

Paul Sporer: He gets mangled against righties (697 last year, 678 career) so he's on the wrong side of the platoon or at least he should be. He'd be overexposed in a full-time role. 13 of his HRs also came against righties and he had a 23% HR/FB so it's tough to see a repeat. His 2012 will likely overprice him in NL-only which is the only format in which I'd give him serious consideration.

Justin (Chicago, IL): Hi Paul! First I just want to mention I'm a new listener to the podcast and I really enjoy it! Anyway, what are your thoughts on Ian Desmond in a 20 team dynasty league. Was Desmond's season a fluke last year? Should I sell high?

Paul Sporer: Thank you, Justin. It's one of my favorite things to do. Jason and I have been friends for 11 years. I don't think Desmond is a fluke, but if you can sell high and get an amazing return then it's worth investigating. There is a difference between simply selling and selling high, though, so make sure you're getting a return worthy of one of the top fantasy shortstops. He could reasonably drive in and score 85-90 in that lineup hitting 6th.

John (Texas): Your thoughts on the Angels signing Josh Hamilton?

Paul Sporer: I don't like it for his fantasy value, that's for sure. I think settling on 5 years was good, though I'd have loved to see a team just up the AAV and get him to agree to 3 years. For more on my thoughts re: Hamilton, check out the latest ep of our podcast - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/blog/fantasy_hour/ and this piece at my personal site: http://paulsporer.com/2012/12/14/josh-hamilton-in-offensively-challenged-los-angeles/

Joel (Indianapolis): In 5 years which SS would you rather have on your team and your fantasty team Manny Machado or Jurickson Profar?

Paul Sporer: Hey Joel!! I'd lean Profar ever-so-slightly if only because I'm not sold on the idea that Machado ever goes back to short so the position advantage would go to Profar. Both look like future *superstars*.

jlarsen (chicago): Ben Cherington and Dayton Moore both walked into their 1st GM jobs with nice pedigrees, due to their putting time in as proteges of successful GMs. Moore has been full of fail and, to me, it seems that Cherington's "baseball genius" label is more myth than fact with questionable trades & signings. What's up with that?

Paul Sporer: Moore built one of the best farm systems ever. It's hard to say that's a full failure. His problem has been constructing the best 25 at the MLB level which is most important, so he deserves criticism, but probably less than he gets overall.

Saddling anyone with a genius tag is tough. Similarly, placing the entire heat or praise of moves on one guy is akin to giving quarterbacks wins and losses which actually worse than pitchers W-L.

jlarsen (chicago): Bigger Annoyance: Twitter GMs(Fans of teams who make up unrealistic & horribly one-sided trades to make their teams better) or Dumb Fantasy GMs(GMs who try to acquire huge talents for prospect/replacement-level players in Non-Dynasty Leagues)?

Paul Sporer: Probably the latter. The former is easy to tune out, whereas the latter can directly impact me if I'm trying to make trades with these types. It's also annoying when someone wants to give you a poo-poo platter for your stud.

Keith (Newport Beach): Do you think it was smart for Jerry Dipoto to sign Josh Hamilton instead of Zack Greinke? Jerry Dipoto said signing Josh allows him to create depth in outfield and allows him to trade for SP.

Paul Sporer: I really like DiPoto, but I think between the two I'd have preferred Greinke. It does look like he is going through with that plan with Trumbo and Bourjos being rumored almost daily.

Xolo (Sudamerica): Does Cameron Maybin's immense raw power ever translate into a 20+ home run season?

Paul Sporer: Probably high-teens at least. We'll see how the fence move helps SD players combined with Maybin's continued maturation. Currently he simply doesn't hit enough balls in the air.

Jim (Seattle): Would you hold on to John Lamb (at not cost but spot, deep keeper lg 20*35) and why?

Paul Sporer: If there is no real cost, then yes. Former blue chip prospect working his way back from injury still has potential and is just 22 years old.

Joel (Indianapolis ): The As moved quickly on to their backup plan after losing out on Stephen Drew, signing import Hiroyuki Nakajima to take over at shortstop. What do you know about him?

Paul Sporer: Only his stats from BRef, which is to say nothing. I'm sure our buddy Mr. McLeod would be the go-to there. I'm interested to learn more myself, but as it stands he's new to me.

chiroclimber (KC): How good of a prospect can Aldaberto Mondesi be for KC?

Paul Sporer: Elite-level for sure. At his age there is still a TON of work to be done and a lot can go wrong, but he's got tools for days and obviously incredible bloodlines.

Frederick (The Hills): Are you a believe in finish to the season for Carlos Gomez? With the organization planning on letting him play, it seems there could be some value there.

Paul Sporer: He's delivering on the promise that made him a top prospect and the centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade so I think it is believable. The batting average is perpetually at risk because of his strikeouts and lack of walks, but with playing time he is a power-speed combo worth targeting.

Paul (DC): Any projections on this year's new Pacific Rim imports: pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu with the Dodgers and infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima with the A's?

Paul Sporer: Great name first off, but secondly I do not know much of anything about either of these imports just yet. I've been spending almost all of my time working on the BP Annual (available for pre-order now! http://www.baseballprospectus.com/book/#1118459199) so I haven't really sought out info on either of them yet.

jlarsen (chicago): Better DH fit for Rays, Kendrys Morales or Lance Berkman and why?

Paul Sporer: Morales because there is more in the tank, but his cost will be higher so given their organization, Berkman is a more likely candidate.

Reggie (dancing): What can we expect from John Lannan if he does sign with Philly?

Paul Sporer: 5th-starter level goodness. Far better real-life player than fantasy. Elite groundball rate mitigates risk factor tied to Citizen's Bank's home runniness (new word, Merriam-Webster added it for sure... don't fact check that).

Rockford (Holding pattern): What do you think Todd Frazier's numbers will be? Good ballpark + good lineup = exceeding $10 value in a 4x4 NL only league?

Paul Sporer: Easily. I love Frazier.

Frederick (The Hills): Kolten Wong - do you expect him up this year? Long term is he going to have enough value?

Paul Sporer: I wouldn't be surprised at all if we see him this summer. I think he has really nice, sneaky value. Just a solid across the board contributor with his primary value driven by batting average. The dude can flat out hit. Big fan.

Henry (Fairport): Do you like Seagar in Seattle?

Paul Sporer: Not IN Seattle per se. 632 OPS at home; 835 on the road. I think he is actually helping the construction workers with the moving in of the fences. I really hope the move plays to his game because he can be a huge fantasy asset if he is delivering even average production at home.

John (Bronx, NY): What is the average salary of a Baseball Prospectus editor that churns out 200 articles a year? I am hoping to land a spot on the BP Fantasy editorial staff within the next year or two and am just wondering what a realistic salary expectation is.

Paul Sporer: Most baseball writers either have four or five gigs at various outlets if it is their full-time job or they write at a site for the fun/experience while holding down a full-time "real" job. Or they're me and unemployed whilst writing for BP.

Jon KK (Elkhart, IN): How would you rank Teixeira (33), Craig (29) and Goldschmidt (26) for 2013? (2013 in-season ages)

Paul Sporer: Craig, Trout, Jesus, Goldschmidt, Teix.

jlarsen (chicago): The Rays, this offseason, have been uncharacteristically active this offseason thus far and still have a few moves to make before ST starts. They could use another OFer(unless they go against their own grain and start Myers), but need a DH(possibly a platoon-mate for almost-batless Loney) and a 2nd Catcher. With options dwindling for DHs with 1B or C backgrounds, should the Rays: (A)push for a switch-hitter 1B like Berkman or Morales (B) Surprise people with a signing of AJ Pierzynski (C) Swoop in and sign Cody Ross (D) Option A with caveat of OF Ryan Sweeney added. (E) Shrug, say "You Can't Predict Friedman" and let him surprise us all.

Paul Sporer: Not B. C would give Jason Collette a coronary, he hates Ross. More likely D or E. They'll do something, though (he states obviously).

ChoppertoChipper (Edmonton): Is Evan Gattis worth a late-round flier in a silly deep scoresheet league?

Paul Sporer: Sure, they could feasibly bring him up this year given his advanced age relative to his level. Keep in mind that the same age that could get him a call is also a factor in his nice stats that we've seen. He could probably be your last pick, though I'm brand new to scoresheet and have yet to complete my first draft (we're midway through).

ChoppertoChipper (Edmonton): Really like the podcast, it's great. I think my favourite moment was when you were watching the Tigers and podcasting, and something bad happened in the game. You let the expletives fly and I listened to it twenty times at least as it made me laugh heartily. I have to go back and find it as a gift to myself for Christmas. In my Scoresheet league I have Simmons and Castro at short. Who to keep and who to trade?

Paul Sporer: Hahaha, thanks. Some don't like my mouth, but it's definitely me, it's not a show. I'd probably look to trade Castro because I think his value will be higher, though as I just mentioned I am new to scoresheet. I'm very excited to do my first league. I know D matters, but Castro is still the better value likely to earn you some serious returns.

Frederick (The Hills): "Not IN Seattle per se. 632 OPS at home; 835 on the road. I think he is actually helping the construction workers with the moving in of the fences. I really hope the move plays to his game because he can be a huge fantasy asset if he is delivering even average production at home." Love that comment on the construction workers.

Paul Sporer: *hat tip*

stewbies (Rochester, NY): Hey Paul, I'm in a 15 team mixed keeper 5 x 5 snake draft league - we can keep 4 guys for as long as we want. I have Cano, Braun and McCutcheon - who would you recommend as my 4th keeper - Pedroia, C. Santana, Bruce, Cain, Sale, Darvish, Bumgarner, Trumbo or Hosmer? Or try to deal one or two of these guys for Machado? Right now, I'm leaning to Pedroia or possibly Cain as my 4th keeper.

Paul Sporer: I think your leanings are correct as those are the two I'd consider. I don't usually look to keep SPs, but given your situation and incredible depth of hitters, an SP wouldn't be awful here and it doesn't get much more reliable than Cain. Option C of acquiring Machado or someone in that realm (Profar, Heyward, Stanton, etc...) is my FAVORITE option, but that may be tougher to pull off.

Adam (WNY): How would you rank the following in a 19 team 4 x 4 league: Cobb, Estrada, Griffin, McDonald? Do you like A. Soriano next year for $16 in the same league?

Paul Sporer: Griffin, Cobb, McDonald, Estrada. I love McDonald, but he still goes through spells of complete ineffectiveness and reverts back to his old problems of being a thrower instead of pitcher. Griffin and Cobb are still super young, but quite mature on the mound for their age (both 25).

Jon KK (Elkhart, IN): If the Cubs eat $26 of the $36 million owed A.Soriano for the next two seasons, he's a great get for someone isn't he? Atl, Phi, Sea.... Thoughts on a landing spot?

Paul Sporer: A pretty solid acquisition for $10 mil, yes. Well $10 mil and whatever asset they give up, so still not quite a GREAT get. The options you listed are pretty solid candidates in terms of need. Unfortunately only Phi of those parks is particularly friendly for hitters.

jlarsen (chicago): If/When Rays decide to deal Price, would the trade package for him likely be one of the biggest/most talented packages received for just one player? Also, if it does happen that way...is there any way that the Rays come out waaaay ahead in the deal?

Paul Sporer: Yes, it would likely be insane. The way the Rays come out waaaay ahead is to get a sick prospect package and have all of them pan out to their ceilings which is almost a certainty to NOT happen. Such is the way with prospects.

Paul Sporer: Alright folks, it looks like that will do it as far as questions. I want to thank everyone who submitted a question or simply joined for the reading entertainment. Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!!


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