Christina takes a break from the final push on Baseball Prospectus 2008 to break down the latest hot stove league action.
Christina Kahrl: So, no sooner do I finish today's TA that my copy of the Strat-O-Matic ratings book arrives... and instead I have to dive right into chatting. So while very, very tempted, hey, it's talking about baseball, so I'll try not to let my eye wander--Hal Richman did what to Kenji Johjima!--and instead settle in here with all of you...
david (KC): Why won't the Indians dial Jhonny P and Cabrera one position counterclockwise?
Christina Kahrl: Good question, and while it's something that people in the organization are pondering, handing down a decision from on high just like that might not be the best way to manage real people. While Cabrera is without doubt their best defensive middle infielder, it's an exchange that would have to be managed carefully, and with consideration for Peralta's experience.
Ted Hunter (Cane (NH)): So when does Oakland win its next division title? We've heard a lot about the individual moves, but overall this is gonna work right? Please say yes.
Christina Kahrl: Eh... maybe, and they certainly got a lot of highly-rated prospects who suddenly find themselves in the green and gold. But I'm still not wild about what they got for Swisher considering he's locked in for years to come. That grumping aside, 2011.
Tim (DC): Call me conspiracy minded, but I really question the timing of this extension. Didn't he say he was done at the end of this contract? Why the hell should Congress believe Selig?
Christina Kahrl: Because he's a friend of Senator Mitchell, who happens to be employed by somebody he helped acquire Red Sox, not to mention a member of that mighty Blue Ribbon Commission that was little more than a Brooks Brothers-brand sock puppet?
Having sat through a speech or two of Bud's, for the life of me I don't know why anyone would believe anything he has to say. That's not the same thing as saying he's been a lousy commissioner; it seems obvious the game's unprecedented growth is the true legacy of Czar Bud the Deathless, not titillating PED frippery and Capitol Hill drama.
Mark (Milwaukee): How much does Mike Cameron help the Brewers overall defense considering it gets Braun away from 3rd and Hall out of CF? Marginally? Leaps and bounds?
Christina Kahrl: Well, I sort of dealt with this a TA ago, but I really think there's a potential synergistic effect to be gained here. I can see Hall being a fine fix to their third base defensive hole, and Braun's a good enough athlete to be an asset in the outfield. And then there's having Cameron in center instead of an obviously uncomfortable Hall. It doesn't fix that still-ugly problem on the right side of the infield, nor does it breathe new life in Jason Kendall's ability to deter the running game, but it's a step in the right direction.
abernethyj (Chapel Hill, NC): Which player should the Braves be thinking about at short for the long term: Lillibridge, or Escobar?
Christina Kahrl: I've come around to the argument that Escobar's nifty rookie campaign isn't what we should expect from him year after year in the future, so I'd say Lillibridge.
Brian Gallagher (Evanston, IL): Is there any reason to be happy about having Jon Lieber vying for a spot in the Cubs rotation? Should I just be happy that the Cubs don't have to fret over saving the three million or so Lieber could earn this year? Cortisol leads to unsightly belly fat after all.
Christina Kahrl: I sort of touch on this in the TA that just went live--it'll still be there when we wrap up in a few hours ;) --but the nicest thing to say is that it gives them depth, and it might spare them from having to take the experiment of returning Ryan Dempster to a rotation all that far. My disappointment is that Lieber's upside is pretty minimal, and he's no more the right answer to that question over who starts a fourth game in a postseason than Marquis was (and is).
Otto (Halifax): Do Rolen and Glaus play 162 games combined in '08?
Christina Kahrl: Heehee... that might be a good place to peg the over-under on their combined total. I guess I'm just much more optimistic about Glaus going to grass than I am about Rolen playing on a third-place also-ran.
colintj (Chicago): Love your column. Could you give me an opinion on how you think Kenny Williams has done as the White Sox GM this past offseason, as well as on a whole for his tenure? And how exactly do you think the somewhat unique status in Chicago's market the Sox have impacts his approach? Since the WS victory, attendance has been markedly different to the point where pre-strike levels have finally been attained. Do they finally have a reliable fan base or will they be desperate for fans once again if they see another poor performance from the club?
Christina Kahrl: Thanks colintj, I appreciate the compliment. Overall, I think Kenny Williams has had a decent blend of luck and daring, and perhaps more bad moves than good. Consider the Swisher move--it's a better choice than giving Torii Hunter or Aaron Rowand the money they would have cost. That wasn't part of any master design, but it's going to work out really very nicely for the Sox. While he says some things that are easy to lampoon, and nobody's calling him the best GM, he's also not the worst GM, not by any stretch.
cjbuet (madison, wi): Will Ryan Garko make another step toward becoming a classic 30/100rbi 1b type this season?
Christina Kahrl: I really doubt it. Not that there's any shame in being a Moose Skowron type--a good complementary player in a lineup where there are legit stars like Sizemore and Victor Martinez.
Joe (Tewksbury, MA): Am I dreaming or does Coco Crisp for Taylor Teagarden or Max Ramirez fit into a reasonable proposal?
Christina Kahrl: It's certainly the sort of thing worthy of a few daydreams in Red Sox Nation, because Tek isn't getting any younger. However, there are questions about both when it comes to whether or not they'll be able to remain behind the plate.
Nathaniel (Madison): Have you started the Norman Macht book on Connie Mack?
Christina Kahrl: I have indeed, and I'm digging it.
Swan (New Jersey): Why don't the Twins just pick the best offer and run with it? Isn't any of the three offers given to them better than getting nothing in return next year?
Christina Kahrl: Well, it's only like the most important decision they're going to have to make in the last fiver years (in the past or future), and you want them to jut get to it on a move they have next to no incentive to make right now this instant, especially when any of the bidders might cave and up their offer, and when they've also got season tickets to sell? Better to hold and make the other guys sweat; to paraphrase an early episode of "Coupling" (the British original, not the NBC atrocity), the Twins have the advantage of knowing whether or not somebody's going to score here.
Ed (Houston, TX): Chris, what do you think of Ed Wade's shrewed moves this offseason? Do you believe his Astros will orbit into the playoffs next October? Thanks.
Christina Kahrl: I talk about this very topic quite a bit in this year's edition of the annual, and have also made a few generous observations of their winter in TA. I don't think they have a great shot--that rotation is still a disaster--but I can understand the motivation to risk all on this year, because their medium-term future's ghastly no matter what they do in the present.
ssimon (Pelham, NY): It should be noted that you've done a great job keeping up with TA this offseason. Thanks.
Christina Kahrl: You're very kind to notice, ssimon, many thanks. This was also the first offseason that I made Thanksgiving for Mom and Dad or managed to squeeze in celebrating Xmas. What can I say, except that it's just very, very good to be back in Chicago.
R.J. (Beyond the Boxscore): Will the Marlins win more than 55 next year?
Christina Kahrl: An interesting question, considering how terrible that rotation will be, and how they now have two, maybe three equally ugly situations in the lineup. On the other hand, around this time of year, some of us were wondering if the '07 Nats were going to give the '62 Mets a run for their money, and look where that kind of doubting got us? Still, I think 100 losses seems likely.
Roger (Pasadena): any thoughts on how Joe Torre handles the dodgers OF situation? Is he the kind of man who will let some stupid conseq. games streak stand in the way of doing what's right?
Christina Kahrl: I'm going to be really, really interested to see how this works out, because Torre has had the advantage of so much seeming stability with the Yankees in years past that I'm not sure he'll be able to adapt to a fluid situation where he'll have elective choices over who to play.
Timmy Lupus (seattle): how good is Adam Jones going to be and would you trade that promise for Erik Bedard today?
Christina Kahrl: Who can resist a Bad News Bears reference? Anyway, the answer is "very," and no, I wouldn't. I bash on Bill Bavasi a lot, but this is one non-decision I'm glad to see him hold to.
Matt (SF, CA): What will be the sleeper transaction of this offseason?
Christina Kahrl: Off the top of my head, I still really like the Orioles signing Guillermo Quiroz. Given some time, I'm sure there's something better; Quiroz is just one of those guys I haven't given up on long after everyone else has moved to some other flavor of Kool-Aid.
hrwest (Marina Del Rey): Great work as always Christina...Something that hasn't really been discussed with all the A's trades is: Can an org. really sift throgh all the prospects given the fact that most prospects need some time at the MLB level to settle in? IOW, the first slumps that CarGo or Gio experience isn't it easier to just bring up Cunningham or Eveland or whatever rather than let the "first" guys play through the rough.
Christina Kahrl: That's always the challenge, though, from an organizational management perspective--how do you create the circumstances for success for any one and all of your players? CarGo has the virtue of being one of the team's very few options in center; I suspect if somebody's going to bounce around, it'll be one of the pitchers. OTOH, I wouldn't necessarily put Eveland behind Gio Gonzalez--the hefty lefty's as ready as he'll ever be, while I'd like to see Gonzalez spend some time in Sacto showing that last season's gains in Double-A have stuck.
Jack ((Charleston, WV)): What do you think of the Cardinals offering Chris Duncan, Anthony Reyes and your choice of Wellemeyer, Thompson or Jiminez for Tom Gorzelany?
Christina Kahrl: As much as I really, really like Gorzelanny, that's too much to give up. But then I can't shake the anticipation I have of seeing the Cards line up a trio of lefty-hitting howitzers in their outfield at some point: Rick Ankiel, Duncan, and Colby Rasmus. That's just a fun bunch to have at your disposal.
BL (Bozeman): Hi Christina - Bill James (the analyst, not the former Miracle Braves stalwart) wrote eloquently in the 1980s about a team building itself to beat its divisional competition rather than to become a truly great, World Series-type team. Do you see NL teams falling into that trap, and doesn't it seems like Billy Beane is being very aggressive in avoiding that just-good-enough mindset?
Christina Kahrl: Absolutely, but it's defensible in the wild-card era, because look what that mindset has given us in the NL: the Astros and Rockies in the WS, not to mention a second Marlins championship. Where it's not at all defensible is when you operate out of that sensibility in a league where there are truly great teams--and that's effectively Terry Ryan's legacy in Minnesota, and perhaps also Doug Melvin's in Texas.
Nick (NYC): If you're the Yanks' front office, what would you do in connection to the Johan situation? And, by chance, do you have an opinion on who you think will end up with Mr. Santana?
Christina Kahrl: As tough as it might be to stomach, take a powder and let him wind up a Red Sock or Met. The Sox have better blue-chip talent to deal from, so if you can settle for playing cat's paw to make sure the Twins extort maximum value out of the Bostonians, that's the route I'd take.
Jorge (Oakland): Of all the Transactions you've covered this off season, which will have the most impact on the teams involved for the '08 season? Willis and Cabrera to the Tigers? Haren to the D-Backs? Tejada to the Astros? Swish to the White Sox? Lidge to the Phillies? 10,325 prospects to the Athletics?
Christina Kahrl: While the Willis/Cabrera deal is a great move in terms of solidifying the Kitties' bid to be one of the three non-Angels teams in the playoffs, I think getting Haren is the move that will make all the difference in Phoenix. The Snakes will successfully defend their division title, then have a rotation with the sort of star power to win a quick post-season series or two.
dianagramr (NYC): You actually have time for Strat during the season?
Any chance of some of the BP2008 book data being made available on-line (as a separate purchase)?
Christina Kahrl: Well, it's a surprising bit of getting back into it, only six months or so after I'd shipped Sheehan about 20 years worth of Strat seasons. Returning to Chicago got me back in touch with some of my former Chicago league mates, who'd landed in a different league, and I was invited in, and... well, how can you not enjoy playing?
As for the latter (important) question, Nate's working on the updated PECOTA cards that we publish every year, and those should be up and running before pitchers and catchers. Beyond that, the biggest-ever edition of BP will have to do.
ericmilburn (San Luis Obispo): Are Sabean/MacGowan being unfairly targeted in this Mitchel Probe? To me, singling them out as the ONLY front office with a shred of culpability is simply ridiculous. Singled out player is to Singled out Front Office as Barry Bonds is to Sabean/MacGowan??
Christina Kahrl: Was there anything about Tuesday's non-event on the Hill that wasn't ridiculous? Well, unless you were Miguel Tejada, I suppose, but let's face it, if preening was an Olympic sport, I'm pretty sure we saw some of the medalists in action.
There isn't a GM, manager, or owner who deserves a free pass on this issue. It was an industry-wide problem, and unlike the game's uneven (and unfair) responses to the cocaine issue in the '80s, it wasn't like anybody from the last 20 years was playing Whitey Herzog and publicly stating "clean up or play for somebody else." The responsibility is pretty obviously collective, as it is with amphetamines.
TGisriel (Baltimore): Any ETA on the book?
Christina Kahrl: It's at the printer, so we should have a mid-February ship date.
pete (boston): compared to what lidge/valverde got earlier in the offseason, what is a realisitic return for huston street?
Christina Kahrl: A better package than either. He's younger, succesful, and under control for a few years yet.
ChuckR (Addison, IL): Read Day of Battle yet? I thought Army at Dawn was top-notch. Shouldn't Kenny Williams be looking to add something to his starting pitching depth? I know the pickings are slim, and I hold out hope for Danks being useful at the end of the rotation, but I'm not drinking the Gavin Floyd kool-aid.
Christina Kahrl: Yeah, I knocked off Atkinson's latest a few months back. Good stuff, an Atkinson did a good job of treating the mystery of Mark Clark in sufficient depth.
Like you, I think the rotation isn't there to play a plausible dark horse. It's possible that Floyd or Danks deliver, but I just have a hard time believing that all of them will, on top of a comeback by Jose Contreras... it isn't like the Indians and Tigers have anything like the same obvious weaknesses.
Shaun P. (Medway, MA): Christina, speaking of the annual - any updates on how Steven Goldman is doing?
Christina Kahrl: No word yet, but I hope to hear soon. Everyone should wish the man well, and not just because I consider him an indispensable friend.
Drew W (Vienna VA): Who would you like to see replace Scutaro: Jack Hannahan, Donnie Murphy, or Kevin Melillo?
Christina Kahrl: If Melillo could handle short, that would be lovely considering he does a bit of damage against righties, but as a practical matter, I think it's Donnie Hill^H^H^H^H^H Murphy.
Adam (DC): Hi Christina, thanks for the chat. Here's my question--I've been surprised that Morgan Ensberg and Dallas McPherson were both a)non-tendered, and b)haven't been signed. Both of these look like valuable 3B to me, albeit neither in the immediate recent past. Should we expect to see them in someone's training camp in April, or are they really not worth signing?
Christina Kahrl: They'll both wind up with somebody; to a certain extent we're in that stretch of time where some players have to simply put up, shut up, and sign, before everyone goes in that dreaded "some other direction." There are still teams without a starting third baseman (the Phillies, Giants, and Marlins, for example), so I'm assuming either man's agent should be pestering those teams on a near-daily basis at this point.
Rich (Evanston, IL): Any tidbits about BP2008? Why is it so big? Any new things we should look forward to?
Christina Kahrl: Well, in part it's because we have a trio of tasty seamhead pieces in the back (two by Dan Fox, one by Clay), plus a new PECOTA leaderboards segment for your easy fantasy cheatsheet purposes, plus the essay portions of the team chapters are longer than in years past, plus we included more Lineouts, plus Derek Jacques really fleshed out the statistical introduction to anticipate and/or answer all sorts of questions.
Basically, we beached another whale. ;)
Ben (California): Thanks for all your awesome work!
In his last chat KG said the following in response to a question I asked: "I do think you find fewer at Triple-A, because so many teams these days use that level and insurance policy storage as opposed to prospect development."
It does seam that teams are bringing talented prospects up to the bigs directly from AA more often now. Is this just part of the ebb and flow of things or have teams learned something that supports this approach?
Christina Kahrl: I think teams have seen this born out by their actions, and it's also one of the benefits of better industry-wide appreciations of blending their evaluations of prospects, utilizing the best of what scouting and performance analysis has to offer. Teams flog the bushes more thoroughly than ever to find guys, so these days it's a bit harder to fill out a Ken Phelps All-Star team that isn't just Scott McClain and a bunch of tweeners in the outfield.
cseguin (CT): Thanks as always for the chat...following up on Ensberg and McPherson, do you think it would make any sense for the Yankees to bring in one or the other as a first base option?
Christina Kahrl: I'd like to see them bring in McPherson, because he'd be better suited to that park and for what they need than the Josh Phelpses of the world.
newsense (Dc): I love the BBC Coupling but the first NBC episode, as best I recall, was taken almost verbatim from the BBC version. What made it so terrible? The actors couldn't have been that bad.
Oh yes- baseball. What NL teams are most worth coming to see in the new Nationals park?
Christina Kahrl: The hired pretty people without any comedic ability, which is always a quick way to make something insipid and network-y.
Hrm... teams to see in Nationals Park... I'd make a point of seeing the Mets and Phillies because of some of the talents they employ in their infields, and the chance to see somebody like Pedro or Cole Hamels on the mound... the Brewers and Cubs and Cardinals will all be fun in their way, and the Rockies and Snakes both have young position players capable of doing some pretty amazing things on the field. Heck, even with the Marlins you'd get to see Hanley Ramirez, and probably a Nats win to boot.
TGisriel (Baltimore): What is scarier, Tike Redman in center, or moving Markakis to center and playing Gibbons in the outfield?
Christina Kahrl: Anything that involves 500 PA for Jay Payton is scarier than any of those things.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Hey, Christina:
How were your holidays?
I'm curious to hear your take on the Glaus v. Rolen for those of us who couldn't access your behind-the-veil analysis already.
When can I expect to pick up BP 2008 in a Canadian bookstore this year? Is it too early to be wondering that?
Christina Kahrl: Well, I did sort of deal with this in yesterday's TA, but I've actually already gotten a couple of questions from our long-suffering Canadian consumers, and brought them to our publisher in the hope that Plume can do what Workman and Brassey's couldn't, and somehow parachutes copies into the Great White North before Opening Day. When I get news from them, you can expect me to pass the good word (or news that it'll be the same ol' same ol') in Unfiltered.
Strat Weenie Lou (Cape Cod): In my strat league, I have Felix Pie and Carlos Quentin in reserve. Looking long term, if you had to move one of these 2, who would it be?
Christina Kahrl: Quentin, even if he's going to have the benefit of hitting to that short corner in left in the Cell. Just as in real life, it's always better to have a piece of Pie.
DetroitDale (Florida): no takers for Brandon Inge? I understand the locals overrate him because he's a nice buy but surely someone can spare a box of baseballs?
Christina Kahrl: Well, the Tigers shouldn't just give him away, but I honestly don't get why the Marlins didn't ask for and get him on top of the rest of that package. And the money to pay him, because let's face it, the Fish were robbed.
jesmont (Virginia): McPherson or Ensberg to 3rd, Casey Blake to right, Gutierrez, Michaels and Dellucci fight it out in left?
Christina Kahrl: The scary thing about this proposition is that Blake would be the defensive replacement at third for either one of those guys.
ElAngelo (Brooklyn, NY): The Mets have got to be kidding me that they're going into the season with this rotation, right? Or are they planning to exhume Terry Leach's corpse to round out the staff?
Christina Kahrl: I was expecting a Bruce Berenyi sighting, actually. It's definitely a pretty dodgy unit, because I don't think anybody should take the '07 seasons of Maine and Oliver Perez as proof that they'll be just fine going forward. That's why I think they need to be taken seriously in the Johan sweepstakes, although it would be pretty amusing if they wound up one Milledge short of being able to swing the deal, just because Omar Minaya was obsessed over the marginal differences between Brian Schneider and Johnny Estrada.
Joey Matschulat (Tyler, TX): Thoughts on the Rangers signing Jason Jennings to a one-year, $4 million deal?
Christina Kahrl: Might be a win-win for both, as Jennings takes his shot at delivering a year that really puts him in the winner's circle in the subsequent winter. Although I always hate to see a pitcher who can hit a little see that ability get wasted in the AL.
charles (nyc): X-tina,
Do you own a figurative Dingo or a literal one?
Christina Kahrl: She's a Malinois, actually. It's only when I see her out of the corner of my eye that I think "there is a sharp-toothed wild animal who can leap over my shoulder standing in the living room." Happily, like most Mallies, she's agreeable, playful, and intensely loyal.
eric (montreal): Wha do you see for BJ Upton this year? Make progress after last season, or maybe take a step back because of all the strikeouts? Thanks as always.
Christina Kahrl: Upton's one of the guys I see improving now that his position is settled, and also in light of the increasing seriousness with which to take that team and how it's being handled.
ashitaka (location, location, location): Are the A's serious about keeping Blanton? Seems like a PR move at this point. Or are the offers that bad?
Christina Kahrl: I think the offers will only get better once somebody has an injury and needs an instant workhorse fix; I don't think anybody thinks Blanton's the picture-perfect starting pitcher, but somebody will value durability and have a need. It's for that kind of deal that the A's are wise to hold out for.
Taylor (Toronto): You call the Jays 3rd place also rans but having the best defence and comparable pitching to Boston and NY has to count for something doesn't it? Is there offense that bad?
Christina Kahrl: The Blue Jays are one of those collections of famous guys who don't quite add up to being as good an actual baseball team; it's like the Orioles after they added Fred Lynn and Lee Lacy, or any edition of the Autry Angels. Nobody who's really good is reliable, and nobody who's reliable is really reliably good. The best hope that team has is that Marcum and McGowan continue to blossom, and that Jesse Litsch is better than a strike-throwing guy with no true out pitch.
mattymatty2000 (Philly Pa): Any idea why the Phils insist on settling for mediocrity at third base?
Christina Kahrl: The curse of Rick Schu? I really have no idea, but it would be maddening if I was a Phillies fan.
(In fairness to Rick Schu, IIRC Huckabay tells a story of playing against him in a semi-pro league after Schu's MLB days, and averred that Schu wasn't just the best player in the league, he was the best at everything. Anytime some smartass like me bashes on even the bad ballplayers, it's worth remembering that "bad" is compared to "best ballplayers on this or any planet.")
John (Cedar Falls): Do you foresee any way the Cubs can upgrade at SS over Theriot. Other than Cedeno finally taking the next step?
Christina Kahrl: I think that's it--it's up to Ronny Cedeno to just step in and win the job, because as fun a player as Theriot is, he's filler.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Is there an "irrational exhuberance" surrounding the '08 Rays among many right now? Isn't '09/'10 looking more realistic for the "Surge"? Or is .500 a likely stepping stone this year? Thank you!
Christina Kahrl: You're right to wonder, lemppi, and yes, I don't think it's reasonable to expect a .500 season from the Rays right now. This is sort of like the anticipation that the Brewers would make some noise--we can all see it coming, we're all smart enough to anticipate it, and we're all probably jumping the gun.
Brian Gallagher (Evanston, IL): Ooh, I can't pass up this important Coupling question: Could you still dig the show after Jeffrey's no longer appeared?
Christina Kahrl: No, Oliver really didn't work out adequately. He definitely had a negative VORC (Value Over Replacement Comic).
DetroitDale (Florida): any thoughts on Nate Robertson's deal? Any idea what it's gonna take to lock up Cabrera?
Christina Kahrl: I touched on this a bit in today's TA, but basically, that was a solid investment. Cabrera should be gunning for nine figures.
Rob (Newton, NJ): What outlook do you have for Anthony Reyes in 08? He still has a lot of talent in his arm, I just think he's been horribly managed in St. Louis. Where do you think he'll end up (rotation, pen, out of town)?
Christina Kahrl: It's a tough proposition, because TLR and Dunc have a much better track record fixing veterans they've just met than kids they don't always have the patience to sort out. Not that Reyes has anything like Jose Rijo's upside, but I wouldn't be surprised if he thrives after a move, very much as Rijo did.
MarkBillhorn (Boston): It's my first BP chat! Percent likelihood: The Tampa Bay Rays make the playoffs (ever) with Carl Crawford on the team?
Christina Kahrl: Welcome to the party Mark, there's a first time for everything. ;) I'm going to have to say "zero," not as a regular or something beyond a geezer on the bench there to frighten the kids with stories of the bad old Naimoli days. That's not his fault, or the Rays, just my expectation that even if the club picks up his 2009 and 2010 options, that's still not long enough for the Red Sox and Yankees to have collapsed.
MA (Athens, GA): Will the Pizza Feeds be picking back up after the shipping of The Book (and, if so, can we look forward to an Atlanta PF this year)?
Christina Kahrl: We can definitely add Atlanta to the list of places we'd love to do something at, and I'm hopeful that our new redistribution of BP authors (with Joe Sheehan back in NYC, for example), we'll be able to do a lot more of these in 2008. We're happy to work with teams in particular, because we're in the same business--promoting the greatest game and talking to people who have invested themselves fully in following it. This year's book tour will also have the benefit of adding Joe to the mix, and will also involve some Western locations (Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco), and probably a Tampa Bay/St. Pete appearance as well.
Tim (Portland, OR): C-K! Can I call you C-K? Enjoyed the latest TA, but the Kotsay move still confuses me. Do the Braves think they can contend in 2008 after downgrading from Andruw to Kotsay and Renteria to Yunel? Those both seem like pretty big gambles if you're banking on the playoffs to persuade Big Tex to stick around after his walk year. Especially when $$$ usually work just as well. Why not roll Brent Lillibridge out there in CF and see if it works?
Christina Kahrl: I think the expectation here is that the Mets and Phillies both aren't going to be 100-win teams, so the Braves have a shot on the perceived strength of their rotation, and the virtues of plugging in Tex at first base for a full season. Some of that's reasonable, even if the Glavine they've signed isn't the Glavine they last had. The thing about Lillibridge is that I still think he's their best long-term option at short, and with Jordan Schafer their center fielder of the very near future, they wanted a vet with some upside potential. While I think Kotsay's not really a great bet, there is at least some potential that he might have another 2005 season in him.
Of course you can call me CK; Sheehan's only been doing it for 12 years or so.
JP (Athens, GA): Don't you think the Brewers should have at least given Braun a chance to sort himself out at 3rd? A year from now, it will be loads easier to fill a hole in left rather than in center or at 3rd. (Not to mention that their top prospect is strictly a corner OF)
Christina Kahrl: In the abstract, yes, because Braun's not some slug, he's a good athlete with a strong arm. However, the Brewers play games that count in a division they could win and should have won. And Bill Hall wasn't a fix in center, he was part of the problem. The Brewers addressed *two* major defensive problems as a result of the Cameron deal, not just one. Credit scouts for also being skeptical that Braun could stick at third base for any length of time, going back to his college career; this certainly wasn't something that surprised the Brewers.
David (Winston Salem ): Marcus Thames: could the Tigers potentially move him for bullpen parts (hopefully a reliable set-up man), or should they?
Christina Kahrl: If they got something of value, sure, but I say that more in the hope that they'd use Ryan Raburn a whole bunch, and not as some sort of endorsement of their adding Jacque Jones.
Dennis (LA): Thanks for your great work. Do you think Stephen Drew can be a consistent .280/.370/.450 player over the next few years? And what is the best book on the Pacific War you've read? I know you talked about "Shattered Sword" last time. Any other recommendations? Thanks!
Christina Kahrl: It's plausible, but that's because the park would help, and I'm still a bit of a skeptic where Drew's concerned. Yes, his debut in '06 and his Cubs-wrecking October were impressive; it's just everything else about his career as a pro that's been a disappointment.
Hrm... I've pretty much always favored the ETO in my leisure reading, beyond reading the books that gave me any insight to my grandfather's service as a carrier pilot. Something that would cover China, Burma, New Guinea, the Japanese strategic decision-making... I've read a few, but not sure if there's the "one" that I could recommend.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Would you take Shields/Kazmir or Verlander/Bonderman if the choice were yours?
Christina Kahrl: The latter.
Dave (South Bend): Does Captain Kirk make it out of Spring Training with the A's?
Christina Kahrl: Let's be fair, Eveland's not just pudgy, he's taller than Bill Shatner, and wears his own hair.
Otto (Halifax): When you evaluate Ed Wade's decisions, aren't you really evaluating Drayton's decisions?
Christina Kahrl: Fair comment, although you left Astro eminence grise Tal Smith out of the mix, and you have to mention the franchise consigliere if you're going to go on about Houston's mysteries.
Nathaniel (Madison): I think on select baseball books BP should consider doing book reviews. Maybe you (corporately speaking) throw enough math at the problem to make it interesting? Author Above Replacement Level??? Maybe you fold the review into some other thought about baseball. I would be interested in reading your take (or anyone at BP's) take on the book).
Theres not really a question in there. Sorry.
Christina Kahrl: We've discussed ways of doing this in the past, but I would think that Unfiltered will make this easy/easier for us to do. Certainly, my intent is to start writing a few in that space, as I finish books up, but I wouldn't want to hoard that to myself.
ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi Christina- Thanks for taking my question. What do you see from Ervin Santana down the road? Will it click for him or does he need a change of scenery?
Christina Kahrl: I remain an optimist about Ervin Santana, and think he won't even require a change of scenery to get turned around. If the Angels don't deal him because they get unexpected pressure from the Mariners, he should be part of a good Angels rotation in the years to come.
Dan (Denver): Am I correct to be more than a little scared about the Rockies rotation? After Cook and Francis, I see some very talented youngsters who probably need more seasoning and are likely overrated for their great stretch at the end of 2007 (Morales and Jimenez).
Christina Kahrl: Put it this way: better to place your faith in Jimenez, Hirsh, and Morales than to have any confidence in Kip Wells or Mark Redman. You're right, this is definitely a problem area, one that figures to take the Rockies back out of the playoff picture if two of those three youngsters don't pan out.
Fred (Space City): Ms. Kahrl, any way the Astros can get a "do over" on the Tejada trade if he's indicted? Are there any shortstops available on the FA/trade market? Cody Ransom isn't a big leaguer and I imagine the pitchers would mutiny if stuck with a left side of Blum/Loretta and Wigginton.
Christina Kahrl: I'm glad you brought this up, Fred, because I think it's an important consideration. The Astros are truly screwed if Tejada's in the hoosegow, and given management's decision to live for today and damn the consequences, they would almost certainly have to do something to keep on believing. Given how the non-resolution of the Reds/Nats grievance is going, I wouldn't invest any hope in the commissioner's office providing some sort of satisfaction.
Manprin (Sacramento, CA): Todd Linden is no Jack Cust...or is he? Could he find a place in a not so-experienced-outfield with the A's?
Christina Kahrl: No, he's no Jack Cust. He's just another Fresno Grizzlie who fizzles outside of his den.
doog7642 (Blaine, MN): Wily Mo Pena or Elijah Dukes?
Christina Kahrl: Dukes, and not just because it's the sort of thing that makes people wonder why karma isn't a bitch in his case. He's simply younger and more talented, and I think the Nats are being proactive in helping him get straightened out and have a real career.
dianagramr (NYC): As a follow-up to the question regarding how many wins the Marlins might secure ... I think the mediocrity of the NL East might allow the re-tooled Nationals to contend this season (or at least play .500). Your thoughts?
Christina Kahrl: Well, .500 probably won't be enough to contend in the East, since 90 wins is plausible for a couple of those teams. It would take that proverbial perfect storm--equal parts disappointment in Philly, New York, and Atlanta, equally ineffective moves to fix those disappointments for all three, and then the best possible season from the Nats. It's a fun scenario, but not one I'd worry about for long.
rawagman (Work): Christina,
Reading the TA religiously (or so) I notice that the Giants have almost not been included at all this offseason, barring the Rowand signing. A quick bit of research tells me that inking Rowand is all they have done. Why haven't they done anything else? Lord knows they need changes.
Thanks for answering and keep up the great work!
Christina Kahrl: Many thanks, rawagman, and yes, the Giants have done a pretty good impression of Rip Van Winkle this winter, although they did get Omar Vizquel to stick around. The real question I have is what illicit substances must be in use to inform the suggestion that Kevin Frandsen could be their starting third baseman. It's really minor roster embroidery, but I'd rather they picked up somebody to help at the corners, so that at least they could play along as far as being a major league team.
Kevin (Fairfax VA): Other than Tyler Clippard, the Nationals have not added any starting pitchers this off-season. With an additional year on the youngsters, do you think the Nats starting pitchers will be better or worse than last year?
Christina Kahrl: I expect Tim Redding to take a beating with the reality stick, but if they get more than 40 starts combined out of John Patterson and Shawn Hill, this will definitely be a better unit than last year's.
Steve (Oakland): I do not understand the A's ownership. THey seem to have shot themselves in the foot with their Fremont deal. The Keebler Elf (Lewis Wolff) isn't even the majority owner and he's stated that the A's will not stay in Oakland. Why not? There are 8-12 spots the A's could build on within 5 miles of the Coliseum. And why not Sacramento?
Christina Kahrl: Well, as dodgy a proposition as an environmental impact study conducted in California might be, I think the gamble that they should be as close as possible to San Jose has a certain logic to it. But barring that, yes, it's back to considering everything. Dublin, Sacramento, Portland, who knows? And all because Peter Magowan's a sneak, and Bud Selig's an avid defender of sneaks' rights? That's the business side of baseball for you...
ChuckR (Addison, IL): Ever read any Balkoski? As to D-Day, Balkoski is Baseball Prospectus while Ryan and Ambrose are ESPN the Mag.
If the Twins trade Santana, is there any reason for them to hang onto Nathan? He's a luxury for a rebuilding project, and there is a tendency for teams to overpay for closers these days.
Christina Kahrl: Good point re: Nathan, Chuck, and frankly I'm surprised that they haven't been more aggressive in shopping him around.
As for Balkoski, yep, you'll find him on my bookshelf; IIRC, he was one of the dozen or so authors Ambrose may well have plagiarized, back before Ambrose had the good sense to take cover on the banks of the Charon before things got really sticky. I think Balkoski's also done some guide work for tours on the beaches of Normandy. In full disclosure, Balkoski's also a friend of a friend, so I'm a bit biased in his favor beyond the quality of his work.
Mike (NY): Who are your picks for Rookie or the year in both leagues?
Christina Kahrl: Daric Barton in the AL, and Fukudome in the NL.
Michael (Colorado): Christina, thanks for the chat. Is today the day you go for the Chat Record? That would be particularly impressive, and show amazing restraint, considering that you just received the Strat ratings.
Christina Kahrl: Sadly, I think the answer is no, and will probably be 'no' forever, in that the dingo would probably start eating my toes if I stayed at the monitor for more than four hours straight. But that Ratings Book is looking very, very tempting...
TGisriel (Baltimore): Everybody asks for picks of winners. Who are your picks for last place clubs in the AL?
Christina Kahrl: Sheesh, Tom, just cruising for bad news, are we? I think this is the year the Orioles burrow to the bottom, and beyond that, we'll see the White Sox (in a photo finish over the Royals), the A's (I'm resigned to it), the Marlins (another no-brainer), the Pirates (another non-surprise), and the Giants. Hmm, I'm beginning to see why this isn't such a fun exercise: at the very least, the NL's just too easy.
J (MA ): Why is BP scared of allowing users to post comments? Seems most other sports site allow for this.
Christina Kahrl: A great question, J, and one I hope we'll answer by adding a feature where subscribers will be able to comment on BP content during spring training.
rrentaurn (Boise): I'm a Braves fan. Could you please explain why you think Mark Kotsay, at $2Million a year, and some possible talent from the minors, is better than about a hundred different guys you could find in the minors for nothing? Kotsay's a lousy ballplayer, and your organization, in particular, shouldn't be shy about pointing that out.
Christina Kahrl: I don't think I was, but I try to also see things as Frank Wren does in terms of understanding the possible upside. And like you, I don't believe it. Not that I had any faith in Josh Anderson, but Gregor Blanco has some value.
BirdFan (Ocean City): Is there any hope at all for Orioles fans, before I graduate from law school in about six years?
Christina Kahrl: Depending on who's calling the shots, a lot can happen in six years.
Dave (South Bend): More likely to stick: Eveland or Meyer?
Christina Kahrl: I'll pick Eveland, because of the velocity and an inexplicable fondness for Tim "Big Bird" Birtsas.
MattBishoff (DRaysBay): What should I expect from Jason Bartlett this year? Any comparisons?
Christina Kahrl: I guess I sort of think of him as Greg Gagne with a little less power and a little more speed, but PECOTA names Ivan DeJesus (the original), Mike Bordick, and Alan Bannister as his top comparables in this year's book.
Basically, if you're watching Rays games, you'll get to see the best defensive shortstop in franchise history.
Richard (Santa Fe): Isn't the National League going to be more fun to follow this year, because of all the uncertainty? I could see the Rockies repeating, or finishing fourth. Isn't that uncertainty better for baseball than the situation in the AL where an orangutan could correctly predict 3 of the 4 playoff teams?
Christina Kahrl: That's exactly it--the NL is more fun, and for this very reason. It leads to decision-making like the Astros' this winter, which would be insane in most scenarios, but with something like at least ten teams in the playoff picture, it's understandable. Whereas yes, in the AL, you get baseball's old-school re-enactment of dull, duly executed dominance, and an equally classic A's rebuild.
Will (Iowa): You are named manager for a week, and given free reign to do any strat-ish roster/game management. What do you do? Tandem starters? Weird platoons?
Christina Kahrl: What do I do? I prove that I can learn faster than Ted Turner, and do the team a favor and resign. The guys in the dugout are there because they can command the respect of the players, and look how hard it was for guys as different as Earl Weaver and John Boles--Weaver *still* has to put up with Jim Palmer being an ignoramus. Also, as fun as all of that stuff is, I'd remind people to talk a look at either George Will's "Men at Work" or Buzz Bissinger's "Three Days in August," and remind yourself that in baseball as in real life, managing ends up involving way too many committee meetings.
BL (Bozeman): CK - Awesome marathon chat! Are there any (realistic) moves Dayton Moore can make to move KC forward between now and Opening Day?
Christina Kahrl: I'd love to see him flip Grudz and turn to Callaspo, but that can happen in August or April, and I'd be impressed either way.
bloodwedding (BK): Given the weirdness of the 3B market this offseason, do you see any takers for Chavez, and are the A's even in a position, organizational talent-wise, to shed their 3B?
Christina Kahrl: Well, sure, they *could*, but let's review all the things that would have to happen: you'd need Chavez to be healthy, you'd need the A's to be willing to eat a lot of his contract, and/or you'd have to have an interested trade partner. That's a lot to ask.
Pat Larkin (Chicago): Why is everyone down on Mark DeRosa? I haven't checked his fielding stats beyond I guess his RF was around 4.8 and his ZR was at .850 at 2nd that would have put him in the top three in ZR and top 10 or so in RF in all the MLB. Even though he didn't play 2nd exclusively, what is preventing him from being a good answer at shortstop if Roberts gets traded? He is very patient now, and has some gap power?
Christina Kahrl: Amen, Pat. I really don't get why the Cubs are so determined to achieve a modest upgrade on DeRosa by dealing away anything of near-term value for Roberts. I understand the desire to have depth, and that having DeRosa around as an alternate at third or the outfield corners might work, but as a shortstop, he'd just give Ryan Theriot too much of a fighting chance to remain a regular. I really don't think this is an area where the Cubs need to make a move; their masterstrokes have been to sign Fukudome and to commit to Soto, and I like the possibility of Cedeno taking the job at short from Theriot.
Christina Kahrl: With that, I know, it's only been four hours, but the dingo needs to eat, we need to run before the snow piles up too much higher, and I have to ponder going to the grocery store before I might have to dig out the car. Naturally, this has been all sorts of fun, and I look forward to the next time. To the few hundred questions I didn't get to, my apologies, but here's hoping we have something to talk about where Johan Santana's concerned next time out.