Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Steven Goldman: Hi, guys. Thanks for coming. Sorry about the late start, but my net connection is unusually balky today, much like Jason Giambi's swing. If I disappear after about half an answer, you know the reason why.
OMAR Murphy (Chapel Hill NC): I heard rumors of a Baseball Prospectus book about the Red Sox. Give me the scoop.
Steven Goldman: Thanks for the soft toss, Omar. The BP book about the Red Sox is the reason that I've been rather invisible here at BP.com over the winter. I've been entrusted with editing our look at the 2004 Red Sox and how they got smart enough to win a World Series after years of rather cloddish management and ownership. It's called "Mind Game," and it will be out this summer. In the near term, my commitment to "Mind Game" will be complete and "You Can Look It Up" will return to BP, if anyone is still interested.
Anthony (Long Island): You haven't shied away from criticizing the Yankees in the Pinstriped Bible. Does YES impose any restrictions on what you can and cannot write about the team--specifically in regards to broadcasters?
Steven Goldman: Okay - sorry about the long delay. My cable connection finally expired. I'm now coming to you from old fashioned dial up.
YES and I have had very few conflicts over what I've written - none in a very long time. Honesty is the best policy, they say. As far as the broadcasters go, I give them a certain amount of professional courtesy, but if they say something that I disagree with I have been known to point it out.
Steve (Nj): As a Yankee hater, I was hoping that Tony Womack would play 162 games this year and lead off in every one of them. I recently saw Joe say that he sees Womack batting ninth, and then he sited a bunch of reasons other than Tony's horrid OBP for putting him there (classic Joe.) Any truth to this? BTW, if Womack leads off, Bernie or Tino would bat 9th and Joe also might be trying to avoid that.
Steven Goldman: I hope after the long delay that some of you are still out there. Man, but that was bad timing. It's snowing here at the Fortress of Steveitude (can't believe I just typed that) and maybe that has something to do with my complete cable outage (no Gilligan's Island reruns for me!). Cable companies like to advertise themselves as providing reliable service. It's one of those lies that we live with because the government has screwed us out of being able to do anything about it.
When my service died I was answering a question about how I thought the White Sox would do. I'm more pessimistic about the White Sox than our most pessimistic PECOTA projections. I smell 90 losses. In trading power for speed, they got what they wanted and list what they had.
As to this question, I think we'll see Womack bat ninth unless someone gets hurt. At some point, Torre won't be able to resist leading him off, at least for a few games. Joe isn't the "Clueless Joe" of his 1996 hiring, just "Periodically Clueless Joe."
Steve (Glendale): Has any team in BB history given up ANYTHING like 2 players like Hudson & Mulder, top 10 pitchers both, healthy, no off-field or clubhouse problems, inexpensive and who (cumulatively) were signed for 3 more years? Isn't a (near) Cy Young bird worth, I dunno, 87 in the bush?
Steven Goldman: Well, you're proposing a rather limited scenario. The free agency era has made that kind of thing possible. Certainly the Yankees lost three quality pitchers at one stroke winter 2003, when Clemens, Pettitte, and Wells all hit the road. I haven't done a strict study, but I bet in terms of VORP there are few teams that took such a blow at once. Still, Beane did something very audacious.
tcfatone (New York): I'll tell you how the Sox got "smart enough"....they were smart enough to have Tony Clark's ball bounce into the rightfield stands for a ground rule double. Oh yeah...I went there....
Steven Goldman: That's not quite fair. They were smart enough to have tried Tony Clark and shined him on. They were smart enough to sign David Ortiz so they wouldn't need Tony Clark. They were smart enough to trade for the parts they needed during the season rather than live with Tony Clark. They didn't have Felix Heredia on their team either. They came up with Mike Myers when they needed an extra lefty rather than just live with Alan Embree. THEY WERE PROACTIVE, as proactive as the other team was complacent.
TThunder (Omaha, NE): Hey, Steve, since we're on the Yanks, how many games do you think Bernie will play in center? And will Glanville actually be the one to spot him when he's sore?
Thanks, another Yankee hater...
Steven Goldman: To finish my previous thought, the Red Sox "getting smart" isn't only about what they did during the season, but a process of turning their back on 80 years of racism, cronyism, and any other ism that put winning second. We get into every aspect of the construction of the team and the philosophical imperatives that dictated those choices.
Bernie, wow. Bernie will miss his usual 30 games. That much I can say for sure. The Yankees are going to have to live with him for the other 132 contests because any other option they have will quite literally knock them out of the race. Doug Glanville will sadly make the team as Bubba Crosby has an option left. Crosby ain't Tris Speaker, but he's better than Glanville by a country mile.
Jocelyn Jordan (Cape Cod): Hello Steven, you culture vulture. Highest career value: Pat "the bat" Burrell, Colonel Bat Guano, or gunslinger Bat Masterson?
Steven Goldman: I'm going with Bat Masterson, who you might know became a sportswriter when he hung up his guns. I like the idea of the gunslinging, bowler-wearing, sportswriter/adventurer. We sportswriters need that kind of role model to boost our shaky self-images.
This is a big year for Pat Burrell, natch. He's this close to being a legendary... well, not bust, but someone who will go down in history as having failed to live up to what people thought his skill set would allow him to do.
tcfatone (NYC): To give credit to the Sox for passing on Tony Clark is weak. The only reason the Yanks had Tony Clark in the game was Giambi's health, Lee's health, Olerud's health. Right? To act like the Yanks were foolish and the Sox smart because of Tony Clark decisions is revisionist history....
Steven Goldman: Nope, no revisionist history here, dad. The Yankees went into 2004 with an inadequate plan for 1B. They pretended Giambi was going to play defense every day, when they knew from the season before that he had physical problems and defensive shortcomings that were going to make that unlikely. Add in the manager's preference for gloves at first and it was 100% impossible that Giambi would play anything like a full year in the field. They then booked Travis Lee and Tony Clark to play first when Giambi wasn't going to be out there - which was proving to be all the time, even before his health quit.
dianagramr (Brooklyn): Worst FA signing of the off-season?
Steven Goldman: As far as over-compensation goes, probably Magglio Ordonez. In the misplaced expectations category, Jaret Wright would be my choice... Especially since right after that the Yankees suddenly found they could not afford Carlos Beltran.
Rob (New City, NY): Do you think Karsay will be able to contribute?
Steven Goldman: He hasn't looked good so far, has he? I have my doubts. I also think, rather cynically, that it might be better for the makeup of the Yankees bullpen if he didn't. They have too many righty relievers. They need two less righties, one more lefty. And not Buddy Groom. That's a complete sentence, by the way, Buddy Groom. Okay, so it needs a comma.
Anthony (Long Island): Have you yet determined how much your blood pressure rises at the mere mention of Tony Womack?
Steven Goldman: I'm sorry. I couldn't hear what you said over the sound of my heart pounding.
WaitTillNextYear (Boston): Can I have your comments on a couple of players? Laynce Nix, Erik Bedard and Juan Cruz. what are you expecting in '05
Steven Goldman: Nix needs more walks and protection from southpaws. I think he'll get at least half of that, with Sarge Jr. cutting into his playing time a bit. Isn't it neat, strange, unexpected, how he evolved into a useful player? Bedard is intruiging, but he needs a lot of things to go right, including increased durability, better control, better defense behind him. Juan Cruz I see consistency, though agumented by his new park.
Jim Clancy (Toronto, ON): The one internet sports writer (non-BP) whose work you always catch is ________________.
Steven Goldman: I never miss an Alex Belth interview over at Bronx Banter.
TThunder (Omaha, NE): Staying in the AL East, what is the future of Baltimore's pitching staff? How do you think it will look in 2006 and 2007? Bedard? Riley? DuBose? Ponson? Are these guys capable of taking this team somewhere?
Steven Goldman: Honestly, I don't think so. Do you see a #1 in that group? I don't. It's nice that the Orioles spend money sometimes, but they seem determined to apply it in places where it's not going to help much.
jrexing (sf, ca): that's 8 of 11 questions on either Sox or Yanks. You could say 9 of 11 since the FA question was heavily Yanks weighted. Remarkable. My question is...Hey Steve, doesn't Tony Womack really suck? And a follow up...Isn't the Sox management really smart?
Steven Goldman: Womack doesn't suck. The only difference between Womack and Rogers Hornsby is 150 points of batting average and 35 home runs a season. These are minor concerns, really... And Sox managment is completely idiotic. White Sox management that is.
Richard Fetter (Fort Lee, N.J.): Thanks for the chat, S.G.! Just because of the personality improvement alone, how many wins is the switch from red-faced Larry Bowa to sleepy Charlie Manuel worth for the Phightin' Phils? (I phigure anywhere phrom phive to phiphteen.)
Steven Goldman: I was asked this question just the other day... Not as many wins as you might think, certainly not as many as fifteen, and five might be a stretch too. Even the dumbest manager doesn't have that much of an effect. There's no real way of quantifying this, but I would think that, with rare exceptions, most managers probably swing their teams 2-5 games over the course of a season. That's something in a close race, but for most teams it doesn't matter.
If the Phillies really think Bowa (I actually typed "Womack") kept them from winning just because he was a red ass, they're just making excuses.
tcfatone (New York): Speaking of Womack, would Robinson Cano have been a better bet for 2005? Or is he still a year away?
Steven Goldman: I don't think Cano is any worse than non-2004 Womack right now. As you know, that doesn't necessarily mean he's a winning ballplayer at the moment. It would have been nice to let him challenge for the job and see if he could outplay Womack, but that's not the Yankee way. The Yankee way is that wealth = talent. There's a word for that kind of thinking, but I don't know what it is. Snobbery?
Anthony (Long Island): No Casey Stengel references yet...surprising. So when can we expect to get Forging Genius?
Steven Goldman: I mentioned You Could Look It Up, that's a Casey Stengel reference right there. Thanks for asking about Forging Genius. I think we're shipping at the end of the month. I have a preliminary copy here now which I'll be showing off at BP '05 signings if anyone is interested. The only think it's missing is a color cover and pictures.
This book has been so long in the making, I can't wait for it to come out. I'm excited, and terrified. Mostly I just want to have done right by the Old Man. He's opened a lot of doors for me. Is it strange to feel gratitude to someone you never met because he died when you were four?
tcfatone (NYC): I've just looked back on our earlier post to me. You gave credit to the Sox for being "smart enough to trade for the parts they needed during the season rather than live with Tony Clark". Didn't the Yanks do the same thing, when they grabbed Olerud? They recognized the situation had gotten worse and fixed it? Should the Yanks be blamed for Olerud going down in the ALCS??? Sorry to harp on this, but your not being completely honest here.
Steven Goldman: You're indefatigable, tcfatone. Olerud was a half-measure at best. He was finished, done, stick a fork in him. He just couldn't hit anymore, at least not like a first baseman.
tcfatone (NYC): Cano in 2005? With Womack being the 2 million dollar back-up infielder?
Steven Goldman: Hey, I didn't offer him $2 million.
dianagramr (Brooklyn): Does Joe Torre deserve to be in the Hall based on his tenure as Yankee manager (has it really been going on 10 years now)?
Steven Goldman: Since managers are now the province of the veteran's committee, he may never get there, but Torre is a Hall of Fame manager just by virtue of winning four titles, something just a few guys - Casey, McCarthy, and so on - have done. Despite some strategic flights of fancy in recent years, he didn't do a whole lot wrong in the 1996-2000 period, and that was good enough.
Larry Bowa (Florida): I will have the last laugh w/r/t the 2005 Phillies, won't I?
Steven Goldman: Nope. You're going to be sucking your thumb as they win the division and Manuel is proclaimed the perfect antitode to your peevishness.
Art Linkletter (Burbank, Ca.): Glad for the chat, Mr. Goldman. (Thought I was dead, didn't you? Go on, admit it.) I'm worried about the Angels. Won't Dallas McPherson's wooden glove and painfully high strikeout rate preclude anything more than a Dave Kingmanesque career? Even Adam Dunn whiffed a lot less--at a much younger age--in the upper minors than D-Mac. Thanks!
Steven Goldman: Not at all. I thought you were very much alive and shilling for conservative causes somewhere.
I want to mention one prospect that I have a new regard for thanks to BP '05, a sleeper who just slipped beneath my notice last year. Outfielder in the Indians system, Rocky Colavito.
...Actually, his name is Brad Snyder (p. 347). He was a bit old for his level but he looks to me like a good, broadbased talent with strong plate judgment.
bctowns (Chicago): Steve,
Do you meet/chat with many Yankees fans who are willing to admit their team makes mistakes?
Steven Goldman: Well, there's me. I believe that unless you can see where you're wrong you never learn anything.
tcfatone (NYC): My main point in this entire debate is this: When ou win, you are "smart" and when you lose you aren't. It's that simple. Yanks win game 4 or 5 and they'd still be smart and the Sox would still be a bunch of buffoons.
Steven Goldman: You're underestimating how far the Sox have come under current ownership. If they had lost the ALCS they would still have made tremendous strides, much in the same way that Oakland is praised for smarts despite not yet having grabbed a tropy.
This is actually tcfatone's chat. I'm just the moderator.
Charlie Manuel (Florida): Gee, shucks, thanks for yer support. Now what the heck should I do about this here Lofton feller? He seems ta think he's the best leadoff hitter in baseball.
Steven Goldman: To paraphrase Casey Stengel, tell him he'll have to qualify for his job, then duck.
Robert (Milwaukee): Speculation in Milwaukee is that Junior Spivey will be on the blocks after the All Star break, with the Yankees, of course, being the primary suitor. Realistically, what do the Yankees have to offer for prospects?
Steven Goldman: For a player of Spivey's middling qualities? Quite a bit, actually. As I'll be discussing in today's Pinstriped Bible over at Yesnetwork.com, the "dead" Yankees farm system is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Yankees have some interesting pitchers and a tiny handful of position players after Eric Duncan (who I would not deal for a Spivey, no way no how) who should prove to be role players if not a little more.
I bet Yankees farm hands can identify with "Lost."
"Bud" Selig (Ft. Knox): Hello, Steven. Am I the world's tallest lizard? The Guinness Book won't return my secretary's calls!
Steven Goldman: The Komodo Dragon is the world's largest land lizard...
...And if you can name that reference, I'll be impressed.
wallypip (Virginia): If Kevin Brown is healthy (insert your own BIG IF analogy here), where does he stand with the Yankees, particularly Joe Torre? Guys who are unpopular with the front office and Joe usually don't get many second chances. Will they try to move him at the first opportunity or hope he is healthy and relatively sane in October?
Steven Goldman: Speaking of the Pinstriped Bible, we're coming up on the 90 minute mark even with my technical difficulties, so I'm going to wrap up soon. I feel kind of bad going because though I've got nearly 30 answers up here, the questions keep piling up on the dock - for which I am grateful. A chat by one's self is like the sound of one hand clapping, or Harold Reynolds talking to himself. Still, if I'm to satisfy the Knights Who Say Yes I must shortly be on my way.
Kevin Brown is an interesting case. If there was a market for Brown, he'd have been gone already, so if he doesn't pitch well, he's staying. If he does pitch well, the Yankees won't need to trade him, so he'll stay in that scenario too.
How's that for logic?
Moose (Syracuse): Tino Martinez, or John Olerud?
Steven Goldman: Tino in a landslide. For their careers, I'll take Olerud.
Martin (New Haven): What do you see as Brad Wilkerson's career path over the next 3-5 years? I traded Hideki Matsui for him in my keeper league--was this a stupid trade?
Steven Goldman: I like Wilkerson a lot. I wish I knew how RFK was going to play this year, or the hypothetical Washington ballpark that's coming. Short term, I'm afraid Matsui is probably the better bet.
Bill W (Brooklyn): If the Mets come closer to 95 wins than 85, will it be due to the no-name bullpen's development, Wright becoming an All-Star and Reyes staying on the field?
(Bob & Ray, natch)
Steven Goldman: We have a winner! Bob & Ray it was indeed. The Mets are going to need big seasons from their two big free agents, a bounceback season from Piazza, production from Mientkiewicz, and the no-name bullpen to get organized... Expecting the Mets to do all these things right is like ordering the poached flounder at Bennigan's.
tcfatone (NYC): Tino Martinez, John Olerud or Tony Clark?
Steven Goldman: Lou Gehrig.
Evan (Vancouver): From your vantage point within the Fortress of Steveitude, can you look back through baseball history and find a less inspiring stadium name than Rogers Centre? And yes, I did ask this specifically because it doesn't involve the Red Sox or the Yankees.
Steven Goldman: Shibe Park... Sick's Stadium... the Dyckman Oval... Enron Field... Anything with juice in it, Minute Made, Tropicana, Orangina Stadium.
The Komodo Dragon Grounds.
youssef (NY): Are you saying the place for the O's to spend money is on pitching? Don't they really need to spend money on every part of their team, given their division?
Steven Goldman: I meant that the Orioles need to spend money on a whole bunch of things, pitching included. They haven't had an outfield for years (Sosa doesn't completely moot this point), first base production was gammahooched by the Segui and Palmiero acquisitions... They just need an all-around reassessment and they haven't been willing to make it or proceed in an organized fashion. Part of the problem is their gone dead farm, of course.
Gotta get to a Cubs question, of which I've had dozens, before I go.
Asinwreck (My father thinks Clark's an A student): I'd like to take the focus off of the Yankees' "Lost" prospects and ask what the hell are the Diamondbacks thinking blocking everyone from Scott Hairston to Conor Jackson? Shouldn't a team that bottomed out so spectacularly see if their talented (and seasoned) prospects can make the team better?
Steven Goldman: A new man in charge means the illusion of activity.
Anthony (Long Island): Gammahooched?
Steven Goldman: Word I picked up reading Victorian pornography as a teenager. You can guess what word it stands in for.
tcfatone (NYC): I'll let you in on a little secret...the TC in tcfatone stands for......you guessed it, Tony Clark.
Steven Goldman: Tony Clark was a nice guy to talk to. He made contact with questions better than he ever did with a baseball.
I thought TC stood for "Tertiary Concern."
lukejazz (Madison, Wisconsin): Do the Cubs have any hope of contending this year? I personally feel that Zambrano's arm will fall off from his overwork last year and this will counteract any good effects from having Wood and Prior back. Also, is Dusty Baker now the league leader in managerial stupidity now that Bowa is gone?
Steven Goldman: Of course they're going to contend. The division is between them and the Cards. Yes, Zambrano, Prior, and Wood are all strong candidates to appear in Will Carroll's column on a regular basis, but the level of competition is such that if they can keep two of the three healthy at any one time they're going to be in there.
And yeah, I don't trust Dusty to do much at all.
Steven Goldman: Friends, thanks for turning out in such numbers for a guy who has been BP's stealth writer for the past few months as I've worked behind the scenes to prepare "Mind Game" for publication. Again, YCLIU will ride again shortly. Anyone who wants to chat some more, I hope to see you later this week at any of the five appearances I'll be making at various bookstores in support of BP '05 (see the appearances links on the home page). Until then, I'll see you over at the Pinstriped Bible. Happy Baseball Season to you!