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Chat: Matthew Kory

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday January 23, 2014 12:00 PM ET chat session with Matthew Kory.


Matt Chat.

Matthew Kory: Good morning, BP readers, from beautiful sunny Portland, Oregon. I'm here to talk some baseball on this beautiful sunny day. Did I mention it's beautiful and sunny here? Well it is! I'm sure you're all eager to discuss the Chone Figgins and Grady Sizemore signings in depth, so let's talk some ball!

OB1 (NYC): Is there an upside to David Lough in Baltimore?

Matthew Kory: You bet there is! If MLB changes their rules to allow only one person to use steroids and that one person is David Lough, then man, you're gonna see some stuff! Otherwise, maybe he can replicate his stats from last season (.311 OBP, .413 SLG). If he can do that without any rule changes he's a useful player.

John (Boston): Hey Matt,now that the Yankees Tanaka,do you think he'll do well or be a bust???? Thanks.....

Matthew Kory: Don't thank me yet. You haven't heard my answer.

I think Tanaka will do fine. He's been extensively scouted by the Yankees and every other MLB team, so I think teams have a good handle on him physically (stuff, body, etc). The transition from Japan to MLB isn't something to take lightly, but there's no reason to think he can't make the proper adjustments in time. The things that stand out to me are that we might not be talking about an ace, even though he's getting paid like one. This might be a number two or three guy. I'm contractually obligated to tell you that's no knock on Tanaka, and it isn't, but considering the hype, his salary, and the Yankees obvious expectations, it would be a minor disappointment. But you asked me a binary question (good/bad) so I'll take good. I think he'll be good. This is a statistics website!

Dustin (Tulsa): Will you let your sons play football?

Matthew Kory: I won't, but they're only five so it's hardly the time. That ducks the question though, and you won't catch me ducking questions (that I selected) here! So, no, I don't think I will. But we're in abstract land now. If they come to me in three years (or whatever) and beg me to play, I might relent. I'd certainly do more research in any case. What do you say, BPers? Would you let your kids play football?

fishersehorn31 (VA - The 540): 1B Dan Vogelbach (CHC) - where do you see him in 2015? DH in the AL? Also, do you really think .300 and 30HR is legit or will he struggle to hit for average against MLB pitching? Thank you!

Matthew Kory: No reason he can't be a first baseman. Well Anthony Rizzo is a reason, but Rizzo will have to hit more and better than he did last season before he can lay claim to the position long term (yes, I know about the contract). (And wow did the Cubs two young guys signed to long-term deals have lousy seasons last year, huh?)

In a previous chat, Jason Parks was asked about Vogelbach and he said, and I quote, "He can f'n hit!" only he didn't say f'n. So I don't know about .300, but 30 homers isn't out of the question.

hotstatrat (at my desk): Who should we be worried about from a health perspective this season?

Matthew Kory: Old people.

I'm really curious about Skinny CC Sabathia. Have you all seen that picture of him? He looks like a beanpole whereas he used to look like a life-sized Russian doll with two hundred slightly-smaller-than-the-next Russian dolls inside of him. Is he really that skinny? Was it just a weird picture? I hope he is that skinny because I would love to see what the effect would be on his pitching.

Sam (Bay Area): Imagine that there was something out there that was as effective at improving player performance as people *think* steroids are. Something like, if you listen to Lose Yourself just before a game, you become Barry Bonds in 2001. If you don't, you're just a regular old player. And this thing was 100 percent effective; it's an outside aid that makes players way better than they really are. Middle infielders hitting 45 homers again, Bryce Harper hitting 82 homers, records all fall, historical numbers all get skewed. And it's totally harmless. In other words, it's steroids but without the health effects or the legal issues. Would MLB outlaw it?

Matthew Kory: The problem with steroids so we've been told is that they're unhealthy. They shrink your balls and kill children and make you AAAAAAANGRY SMASH SMASH and all bad things. That's the justification for outlawing them, not the effect they have on the game (assuming there is an effect, which I think there is, though not a super huge one). So MLB would have to some sort of after-the-fact justification to outlaw this new harmless substance/song. I think they would is the answer I am giving, but it would be fun to watch them jump through and set on fire all the logical hoops they'd have to to do it.

Sean (FrozenTundaOfNJ): Hey Matt, thanks for the chat! Josh Reddick-what're the chances of him having a Granderson-esque season or career arc? (high HR, high K, great defense, some wheels)

Matthew Kory: There's a chance. Reddick has similar skills (though a much stronger arm in the outfield), but I don't think he has the pitch recognition that Granderson has. He'll pounce on mistakes (like Granderson) and he has legit power, but I don't see him as having the upside that Granderson displayed in his prime.

AJ (Phoenix): True or false: If Marcus Stroman was 6'3-6'4 instead of 5'9 (listed), he's be in contention for top arm in the minors (instead of currently being in 2nd or 3rd tier).

Matthew Kory: I think he's in contention for top arms anyway, but his projection is altered by his height for sure. It's not that Stroman can't start in the majors, it's that so few players of his size (i.e. short) have done it successfully for long. Making 30+ starts a year is tough on the body and being bigger and stronger helps. Think of an NFL lineman. It's not that a 5'9 guy couldn't be a lineman. If he was strong enough and smart enough he could do it physically, but his chances of breaking down would be much greater. That's the issue with Stroman. And has been noted before, one of the biggest precursors for injury is injury, so there's no need to push Stroman past his breaking point. That said, I think the Jays will try and start him, so we shall see.

Spirou (Montreal): Hey Matt.With the Tanaka sweepstake now over.Do you think either one of Price or Samardzija gets dealt before season starts ? If so,what destination ?

Matthew Kory: It sure feels like it, doesn't it? The Diamondbacks made a big play for Tanaka and it didn't happen, and so did the Cubs. I wonder if missing out on Tanaka makes the Cubs more or less likely to trade Samardzija. I imagine it'll come down to what they can get on the trade market. The Rays clearly have a price in mind (sorry) and if a team meets it, Price'll head on out the door. I think we're in for some more Price-to-Seattle rumors before spring training.

JT (Michigan): For a player like Sizemore, how much can or should we trust the medical evaluations that he's fully healthy finally? Has another player ever suffered a comparable injury and came back? What's the difference between him and say an MCL or ACL tear?

Matthew Kory: Even the Red Sox aren't saying he's fully healthy. He may not be ready for spring training when that begins. But I think Boston feels he can help them this season. The surprise to me was that he got a major league contract. That means they can't send him down to Triple-A.

Sizemore has had eight surgeries since 2002 on his wrist, back, and both knees. I can't speak to the difference between those surgeries and an ACL or MCL tear, but I know that the chances of Sizemore being what he was in Cleveland again are incredibly small. That doesn't mean he can't help a major league team though. Clearly the Red Sox evaluated him and agree.

Kevin (Penn): The Phillies signed Bobby Abreu. Is there a real reason this was done? What can he still bring, if anything? I'm a little dumbfounded.

Matthew Kory: Yeah, I join you in your dumfoundedness, Kevin. As Sam noted on Effectively Wild a few days back, the issue with Abreu isn't his hitting. I mean, you can question that, sure, but they only gave him a minor league deal so if he doesn't hit, fine, get rid of him, send him down, whatever. The issue is his defense which was bad when he played in MLB years ago. The Phillies don't have the benefit of the DH, so I'm failing to see the upside here. Maybe Abreu comes back and he's CC skinny and all of a sudden can run and field. Again, minor league deal, so no risk for the Phillies as long as they don't play him in the field, but I agree, it seems like another opportunity for the Phillies to shoot themselves in the foot.

Jonah (Santa Barbara): Please make four ultraspecific predictions about Grady Sizemore for 2014, at least two of which must include numbers

Matthew Kory: I know I just talked about Sizemore, but I like this question.

1. He'll get hurt at least twice
2. He'll get at least 10 hits this season
3. He'll have a smile that can light up a room
4. He'll get hurt a third time

darthack2661 (Jersey): Is Wilson ramos poised for a lucroy type breakout?

Matthew Kory: I'm not sure of Ramos's pitch framing numbers off-hand but offensively he's already there, right? I like Ramos a lot. He's had some unfortunate circumstances befall him and he's missed a bunch of time but he's a very good hitting catcher when he's in the lineup. I suppose that's the key though.

Alex (Anaheim): Will Toronto sign Ervin Santana?

Matthew Kory: They need to sign someone who can start. I'd rather have Ubaldo Jimenez myself, but Santana would be an upgrade for them as well. The Jays have a good roster (if healthy) and a shot at contention if they can find the starting pitching. Maybe Stroman steps up, but I wouldn't bet on it this season. Will Brandon Morrow be healthy? Yeah, they need to sign someone.

dianagram (VORGville): Mike Moustakas .... primed for an Alex Gordon-like emergence or more of the same frustration? Do you like Michael Choice in the Texas OF picture?

Matthew Kory: Moustakas was so so bad last season. How do you look at his stats and expect him to be an above average player? The Royals can't (and won't) give up on him yet, so that's a good thing in that we get to find out the answer to this novel, but wow yuck.

As for Choice, Texas is a great place to hit, but where's he going to play? Rios, Choo, and Martin in the outfield doesn't leave much room. He can't platoon with Rios because they're both right-handed and you don't give the money to Choo that the Rangers did and then platoon him. So, fourth outfielder? Depth is good though. It's a long season.

Tony (Work): Are you a believer in Josh Donaldson? What kind of numbers do you expect over the next few years?

Matthew Kory: I am. I'm not sure he'll be as good as he was last season, I'd expect a drop off on some level (lower OBP almost for sure) but he's a talented player. I don't think four wins a season is out of the question for the next few years at least.

tablack (Cleveland): Matty Matt! - Between Shaun Marcum, Jeff Francoeur and Nyjer Morgan, who has the best chance, if any of having a meaningful impact to the tribe this year?

Matthew Kory: That's a toughie. Betting on oft-injured pitchers isn't smart, and Jeff Francoeur is and has been done for a while now. So I guess that leaves Morgan who hit pretty well in Japan last season. I'll take him! And unless you're a big believer in David Murphy, Cleveland may need some outfield help this season. (Should've signed Grady Sizemore! joke)

scoresheetwiz (Toronto, O.): Hi, Matthew - Miggy, EE, and Pujols all finished the year hurt to some degree. Which of them are expected to be 100% healthy this spring?

Matthew Kory: Cabrera should be healthier this season if for no other reason he won't be forced to play third base. Victor Martinez is still hogging the DH spot, but at least it'll be easier for Cabrera to rotate there now that they've removed the wonderfully ironically named Fielder from the picture. Incidentally, how great a deal was that for Detroit? Great is the answer you're looking for.

Tony (Work): HanRam going to stay healthy enough this year to actually deliver some big numbers? He seems injury prone, but there's nothing too consistent about his injuries as far as a troublesome ankle, shoulder, etc.

Matthew Kory: I don't see reason to worry any more than usual. I'm sure he'll miss some time, and he did have hamstring issues last season so that could be something to worry about going forward. But he's good enough that you play him when he's healthy and hope the time missed isn't too much. He's 30 though so it's about the time that the injuries could start to add up. It will be interesting to see what the Dodgers do with him contract-wise.

Tony (Work): Follow up on Pujols: think he can be great again this season?

Matthew Kory: I think it partially depends on health. He was playing hurt something fierce last season. But there sure is a downward trend to his stats over the last four seasons. It's hard to look at them and think he can be that guy again. I guess it's possible, it's within the range of possibilities, but it's not anything I would bet on. I'll say 4.2 percent chance he's great again this year. Put it this way, there's a much greater chance he's horrible than great.

Michael (Chicago): When do Pecota projected standings come out?

Matthew Kory: Not sure. I'm endeavoring to get you an answer on that.

baseballjunkie (waiting for spring training): Hi Matt, Fangraphs did an article of building the perfect pitcher yesterday. Which minor league pitcher(s) come closest to being "perfect" based on the criteria?

Matthew Kory: I didn't see the article, and I can't comment on every pitcher in the minors, but basically I'd nominate Matt Barnes. He's 6'4, 200+ pounds with clean arm action and strong mechanics and an excellent fastball. How'd I do?

temple (madison): What are the chances that any of these players will make the major league team out of spring training: Miguel Sano,Arismendy Alcantara, Franicsco Lindor, Alex Meyer, Noah Syndergaard

Matthew Kory: I wouldn't be surprised if Sano got a decent amount of playing time with the Twins this season but I wouldn't expect he'd make the team out of ST for, if nothing else, service time reasons. The Cubs already have Castro at short so there's no reason to bring up Alcantara, same with Lindor and the Indians. I'd be surprised if any of them made the majors out of ST, but crazier things have happened for sure.

Jim (Tampa): Who starts at first base this year for Pittsburgh? Any rookies that have a chance/

Matthew Kory: Gabby Sanchez right now. Pittsburgh doesn't have much in the way of first base prospects (though I'm sure they could move someone there if they had to).

Tony (Work): Starling Marte going to be the Robin to Cutch's Batman? Or should we expect him to come back to earth this year?

Matthew Kory: The pepper to McCutchen's salt, the eggs to his ham, the Ernie to his Bert, the Hardy to his Laurel, the Naked Gun 2 1/2 to his Naked Gun, the

Jim (Tampa): Erik Johnson SP CWS what do we expect from him this year. Does he have the Ace in him for the White Sox's ?

Matthew Kory: I don't see ace, but a three isn't a bad thing and would help the White Sox a lot.

Tony (Work): I know a lot of Profar's value is in his glove, but what do you expect from him offensively over the next few seasons?

Matthew Kory: Do you know how old Jurickson Profar is? He's 20. He'll be 21 next season. Most 21 year old prospects are in Double-A. He's going to be starting his second season in MLB. I'm not sure what his slash line will be but the thing that makes Profar so exciting is that he can hit AND field. I wouldn't be shocked if he slugged .500 at some point, though (probably) not this year.

John Carter (home office): Any players come to mind that you expect a happy healthy return to his peak such as we enjoyed from Jacoby Ellsbury last year?

Matthew Kory: Jose Reyes didn't miss the whole season but I expect he'll be the same dynamic force he usually is. You didn't ask, but I'm expecting a big season out of Ellsbury too. The Yankees gave him a lot of money and years, but at least over the next few seasons I don't think they'll regret it. I think you'll see a power spike from Ellsbury this season. Maybe not 30 homers again, but 20 wouldn't surprise me at all.

Matthew Kory: I'm sorry to end after just an hour and a half, there are still a ton of great questions in the queue, so my apologies if I didn't answer yours, but the day is rapidly getting away from me and, like you, I have some things I have to take care of. Many thanks for spending part of your day with us here at BP and I look forward to chatting with you all again soon.

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