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Chat: Mike Gianella

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday September 12, 2013 6:00 PM ET chat session with Mike Gianella.


Time for a fantasy chat.

Mike Gianella: Hey everyone. Season's almost over, but whether you've got questions about the last 2 1/2 weeks or about your freeze list next year, I'm here to help. Let's get started.

oldjim4920 (Los Angeles): What's your take on Cody Asche...is he the Phillies' regular third baseman in 2014?

Mike Gianella: Hi oldjim.

There's a good chance that Asche is the Phillies starting 3B in 2014. The free agent crop at the position is weak, and while I suppose the Phillies could try make a move for someone like Chase Headley, given their already high payroll and the fact that their new TV deal doesn't kick in until 2015, the team is probably not going overpay a Michael Young again. From what I've seen, I like the bat so far. I think that the batting average might not be there, but a 15-20 HR season wouldn't surprise me. If Asche can hit .260, that's worth it for a standard mixed 3B; otherwise, he might be more of an injury replacement. In deeper leagues, he's definitely a worthy play at corner.

Alex (Anaheim): We just started round 1 of the playoffs, and my shortstop situation is dire. Who would you choose the rest of the season among Asdrubal Cabrera, Yunel Escobar, and Jose Iglesias?

Mike Gianella: Hi Alex. That's pretty dire.

This answer depends mostly on the rest of your roster. I think I'd stay away from Iglesias. He has already cooled off, and while he is in a strong line-up (which helps with the runs/RBI), I think he's the weakest choice of the three. That leaves Cabrera and Escobar. Escobar is the safer choice while Asdrual has the higher ceiling. If you need to play it safe, I'd go with Yunel. But the more I look at the two, I think I'd roll the dice on Cabrera. Cabrera's bad year is almost as good as Yunel's 2013. Assuming Cabrera's healthy, he should put up similar numbers. The only drawback with Cabrera is that he has been sitting at time for Mike Aviles. Still, I'd take the shot on Cabrera bouncing back this month.

Shertz (Miami): What are 3 absolutes you need to be an outstanding hitter?

Mike Gianella: Hi Shertz.

This is more of a scouting question than a fantasy question. In terms of fantasy, I look for hitters with a good batting eye. While I don't want a hitter who is too patient, I prefer hitters who swing at "their" pitch as opposed to hacking at anything. I also like seeing a hitter with a consistent approach/good mechanics. Obviously, some hitters have bad mechanics at the plate and succeed, but if you're playing in a dynasty/long term league and looking at minor leaguers, I prefer hitters with a good approach and a strong game plan at the plate. Finally, I really like hitters who don't put the ball on the ground too much. Unless you're talking about a stolen base king, I'm more likely to get better fantasy HR/RBI production out of a hitter if he isn't an extreme ground ball guy.

John (Oakland): What have scouts been saying about Rob Kaminsky? Thank you.

Mike Gianella: For my readers that don't know who Kaminsky is, he's a 19-year-old who was drafted by the Cardinals in the first round o this year's 2013 MLB Draft. I haven't heard much about his debut at rookie ball, but the scouting reports as you might imagine are glowing. Rather than pass off someone else's knowledge about Kaminsky's as my own, I'll provide you the link to our partner Perfect Game USA's scouting reports on him http://www.perfectgame.org/players/playerprofile.aspx?ID=227934 Jason Parks and his top notch scouting team are in the preliminary stages of putting together organizational Top 10 lists and I'm sure that Kaminsky will be in the discussion.

Cal Guy (Cali): Hi Mike, who would you rather keep for just 2014, Carpenter or Rendon, and where do you see each spending more time at, 2B or 3B?

Mike Gianella: Hi Cal Guy

I get this question a lot (maybe in fact you have asked it before). If you're just playing for 2014, I'd take the more certain commodity in Matt Carpenter. He has played a full season at a very high level. While I'm a little wary of investing too heavily in a hitter who provides so few HR/SB, Carpenter's bat is legitimate and another .300 season wouldn't surprise me. Rendon's power is impressive, and he could hit 20 HR. However, that seems like an if, not a definite. When looking at just one year irrespective of dollar value or draft slot, I'd take the surer thing.

Jim (Baltimore): Will Johnathan Schoop be the Orioles everyday 2B next year? Do you see him as an eventual top-10 fantasy guy at the position?

Mike Gianella: Hi Jim

I can't predict whether or not Schoop will be the Orioles 2B next year, but I do think that he'll get an opportunity in camp. Brian Roberts is a free agent, and Alexi Casilla and Ryan Flaherty shouldn't be viewed as road blocks. I suspect the Orioles will bring in a cheap veteran as a back-up plan in Spring Training and let them compete.

Will Jonathan Schoop be a Top 10 guy? That all depends on how his power develops. He probably will eventually be Top 10, but given his age and the minor league numbers he has put up to date, I don't see this happening until 2017-2018. These players play different positions, but I think you have to look at players like Brett Lawrie and Eric Hosmer as examples. Everyone got too enthusiastic about Lawrie/Hosmer and got burned the last couple of years. That doesn't mean these players aren't good and won't get better, but it's a long learning curve, particularly if you're not a made-to-order superstar like Mike Trout or Schoop's teammate, Manny Machado.

Tyler (Harrisburg): In some heated fantasy playoffs...dump CC and go with Joe Kelly ROS? CC has Boston on Saturday.

Mike Gianella: Hi Tyler.

That's a tough one. Joe Kelly's ERA has been much, much better, but their FIP and other peripheral numbers are extremely similar. As you point out, CC Sabathia has a tough match-up against Boston, although Kelly gets the Rockies in Coors next week. You could almost flip a coin on this, but since Kelly could blow up in Coors just as easily as CC could against Boston, I'm going with CC. He gets San Francisco and the struggling Rays in his next two games, so hopefully this offsets the Boston factor. This isn't an easy decision, and if you decided to go the other way, I would definitely understand why

ngpbnxvi (1): 1

Mike Gianella: It's the loneliest number that you'll ever do, although I hear that 2 is not much more fun. For the five of you that got this reference, let's meet up later at the library for some Werthers Originals. The Ensure supplemental liquid is on me.

Paul (DC): In a 20 team fantasy (rotisserie or table top) league having all the players from each of the 32 MLB teams available to be drafted, what is the bar for a replacement level player? A league average player at his position? A 1 WAR player? A 105 OPS+ hitter? A 0.5 Wins Above Average pitcher?

Mike Gianella: Hi Paul:

That's a good question, although I tend to look more at fantasy categories than things like WAR or WAA (not that these aren't useful tools for further analysis.

Assuming a 23 man pool of 14 hitters and 9 pitchers, this would leave you with 280 hitters selected (out of 390) and 180 pitchers (out of 360). While this sounds great on the pitching side, keep in mind that many of these pitchers are fungible middle relievers that you probably won't use. If you break the pitchers down by team, 180 pitchers is five starting pitchers and a closer from every Major League team. You are likely to use one or two middle relievers in this format, so your replacement level starting pitcher isn't quite going to be the worst of the worst. You probably want to look at a fourth starting pitcher as replacement level and the 30th best middle reliever as replacement level.

On the hitting side, there are 255 starting players in the Major Leagues (including the DH in the AL). This means that almost all of the players on your rosters will be Major League starters, although in a two catcher league 10 of your 25 back-ups will be backstops. Your replacement level at every non-catching position is going to be your worst regular or your best every day player. This is a pretty deep mixed format, but isn't quite as deep as an NL or AL only. If you combined an NL/AL only into a super mixed league, that would be a 24 or 25 team league. So the concept of replacement player does exist, but you're diving pretty deep here.

gfinny48 (Nevada): Does Danny Salazar strike you as a long term dominant starter?

Mike Gianella: Hi gfinny.

Salazar strikes me as someone who could be a long term dominant starter. He has been striking out hitters at an elite rate all year long, and that hasn't dropped even in the Majors. The concerns for me are whether or not he'll hold up over a full season and what his innings load is going to be next year. He has averaged a little over five innings a start in the Majors and has been on a very strict pitch count of 80 or less in his last five starts. What will a full season from Salazar look like? I don't know. I think the potential is there for Salazar, but it's hard to predict any pitcher's sustained success long term, let alone potential dominance.

AnthopoJays (TX): What kind of seasons might you expect out of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Alexander Guerrero next year? Have you come across any good comps?

Mike Gianella: It's next to impossible to devise a comp for Cuban players with their American counterparts since we have so little information about these players when they come to the United States. With japanese players, for example, we have more information on statistics in their leagues and how players do when they come here by comparison so that we can make an educated guess. This still isn't the case with Cuban players because their society isn't open. All we usually have to go on are scouting reports, and while the reports are put together by top notch professionals who know their stuff, I'm an analyst, not a scout. All I can do is take the scouts at their word. Yasiel Puig exceeded expectations this year because of this variability, but this more often than not cuts the other way. Gonzalez could be anything from a #3 starter to a Quad A guy based on what I've read. Guerrero could eventually be a starter, but how good he'll be is an open question. I wish I could offer you more help, but I'd rather be honest and give you broad answers like these than steer you in the wrong direction.

Joanah (Redwood): Some non-closer this year that are good bets to earn 20+ saves next year are _____?

Mike Gianella: Hi Joanah.

No non-closer is ever a good bet to earn 20+ saves. If you had Kevin Gregg with 30 saves this year, raise your hand. Not so fast, every single one of you.

But if you're asking for names, I like Cody Allen in Cleveland, Ryan Cook in Oakland, and Trevor Rosenthal in St. Louis if he stays in the bullpen. All three are risks, but that's the nature of a question like this; these are all guesses at this point. I think the Indians will non-tender Perez, but maybe they sign him for $9-10 million. Grant Balfour probably leaves for free agency, but maybe he doesn't. Edward Mujica probably leaves, but maybe the Cardinals keep him or maybe Jason Motte is healthy and gets the role back. I used to shy away from the skills over roles thing, but now I believe it. If you grabbed Rosenthal in your fantasy league this year, you probably were very satisfied with the overall numbers (and especially the strikeouts) even though he never wound up closing.

Pickles Dillhoefer (Early Grave): Should we be worried about Robertson for next year? the rest of this year?

Mike Gianella: I hope you survive, Pickles. We're all counting on you.

I'm going to assume that you're talking about David Robertson and not Tyler Robertson. David should be fine the rest of the way. His injury seemed minor, and he has already returned and had a good outing. A winter of rest should do him good, and while trying to predict the vagaries of relievers from year to year is extremely trickly, Robertson has been one of the best this year.

Cal Guy (Cali): Hi Mike, I have a chance to take a flyer on Mas Tanaka now. Or would it be better to pick up Gausman?

Mike Gianella: I'd probably take the shot with Masahiro Tanaka if you can acquire him now. Kevin Gausman's ceiling is great, but Tanaka is more polished and odds are good he winds up in a better ballpark than Gausman's Camden Yards. It's a risk to be sure, but so are most rookie/young pitchers. Sure, take the gamble on Tanaka, why not?

Scott (LA): Has the Shark's tanking the past few weeks changed your outlook for him next year or is just another small sample? These awful stretches seem to come twice a year for him.

Mike Gianella: I've never been a huge Jeff Samardzjia fan for the reason you cite (among other things). You're right, he goes through one or two of these stretches each year, and that's what tamps down his value. A few people watch him and think that he's a superstar in the making. Maybe I'll go back this off season and change my tune, but nothing in the numbers has changed my outlook. I see a guy with a 3.50-3.70 ERA with great whiff numbers. Anything past that is not something I'm willing to predict.

Dennis (LA): Thank you for the chat, Mike. If you're the Angels and you're looking to rebuild the pen, which free agent relievers would you target? Would Balfour or Mujica be potential targets, and which would you prefer?

Mike Gianella: Hi Dennis:

Thanks! Glad to hear it.

I'm not a fan of adding free agent relievers if it can be avoided, but if the Angels are going to go this route, I think I'd prefer Edward Mujica over Grant Balfour. He's a little younger, and the HR/FB risk is mitigated in that park. Balfour would probably be fine too, but I feel like he dodged more than a few bullets this year and might not be so lucky in 2013, especially since he'd have to face the A's now.

Mike Gianella: Thanks for joining everyone. Good luck the rest of the way to all of you trying to bring home a title.

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