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Chat: Ben Lindbergh

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday January 30, 2014 2:00 PM ET chat session with Ben Lindbergh.


Ask BP's E-in-C.

Ben Lindbergh: I'm here. You're here. We might as well chat.

ssimon (Pelham, Ny): Did the Pirates make AJ Burnett a qualifying offer?

Ben Lindbergh: They did not. This one was easy! I hope they're all this easy.

Alex (Kansas City): How many daily hits does BP get?

Ben Lindbergh: More than Dan Uggla, almost as many as Miguel Cabrera.

John (Balltimore): How you can you apply to write a ProGUESTus article?

Ben Lindbergh: Email me at blindbergh@baseballprospectus.com. If I don't know you or you haven't written extensively elsewhere, your best shot would be to send me a completed piece.

jbirenbaum (Toronto): Hi Ben, Who receives more big-league PAs this year: Baez or Bryant?

Ben Lindbergh: Jason Parks lists 2014 ETAs for both on his Cubs top 10, so I'll say Bryant, based purely on the quality of the player(s) at his position at the big-league level.

Marky Mark (With the Funky Bunch): Sam and Waj did a great job on the annual.

Ben Lindbergh: The funny thing is that no one at BP has a hard copy of the annual yet--everyone else's copies shipped early, but our comp copies didn't. Based on what I've seen of the book, though, I'm inclined to agree. I'll pass on your compliments. Even better, leave an Amazon review. They'd probably appreciate that even more.

Dan (Boston): If Jay-Z offers to represent you for your upcoming contract extension, do you agree? I'm talking about your contract with BP, not your hypothetical contract with a major league team.

Ben Lindbergh: Depends on the percentage. Right now I represent myself, Sheffield-style. I might've hired him for a seat next to him at the Paul + Ringo Grammys, but that perk wouldn't be worth as much to me in the future.

Mark (Boston): If you were going to propose at a wresting pay-per-view which would you choose and why?

Ben Lindbergh: Probably one with a Hell in a Cell match, which seems like a simulation of some people's marriage experience.

Sam (Bay Area): Honestly, positive reviews on Amazon thrill me but even more thrilling is when people downvote the review by the guy who wrote, four days after the book was in people's hands, "please note that the book hasn't actually been issued yet, and typically misses the projected release date." That guy kills me.

Ben Lindbergh: Yeah. Wouldn't ever tell someone to downvote a negative review by someone who read and legitimately disliked the book (if such a thing is possible!), but a negative review by someone who admits he hasn't read it is frustrating.

David (Montreal): When do you and Sam record the podcast?

Ben Lindbergh: Typically 12 AM ET.

Scott (OC): What is your favorite early baseball video game? RBI Baseball, Baseball Stars, Ken Griffey Jr. Presents...?

Ben Lindbergh: RBI Baseball came out (in its original incarnation) the same month I did. So, while I had an NES, I didn't get one until much later, and I never owned any of those games. Don't think I actually owned a baseball game until Triple Play 2000 or something. Never been a big fan of sports games, even if I like the sports, and I think hockey and soccer translate better to the videogame medium. You all like me less now.

redsoxin2004 (Columbia): If you're Darvish, how cheated do you feel?

Ben Lindbergh: I probably just try to focus on how much money I'm going to make when I sign my next contract (very much money). Also, the fact that in 2011 I was the highest-paid player in NPB and made only $6 million.

Gerald (Sox Nation): I can't wait to see Bogaerts at SS everyday. Tell me we're out on Drew & that will be the case.

Ben Lindbergh: I think that would probably be the case most days even if Boston did bring back Drew. And as a fan, you'd probably be happy to have him around, ultimately. It's not your money.

Danny (Boston): You and Sam mentioned on the podcast that Evan Longoria's extension he signed immediately after his major league promotion did not count as a home town discount -- but what about his second contract extension? Max value $144.6 million over 11 years, $100 guaranteed.

Ben Lindbergh: Yes, good point.

TheGhostofReasonedArgument (DeRae S. Bay): Read this on a blog the other day " The point of the sabermetric revolution is that there's nothing (other than gross information imbalance) stopping us, in our mother's basement, from doing a better job than a GM in his office way up on a catwalk." Your take?

Ben Lindbergh: I think the line was clarified/walked back a bit on Twitter. That probably was the prevailing attitude in certain quarters (BP included, maybe) at one time. It may have even been true in some cases, depending on the GM and depending on the basement. It's not true today, but the idea that people in any position can contribute to our collective knowledge about baseball still applies.

Jim (Tampa): Dustin Ackley or Chris Owings which has the better upside at the plate.

Ben Lindbergh: I like Owings better, at least relative to the stands of his position.

doog7642 (Blaine, MN): Do the new PECOTAs have the update UPSIDE scores pitched last spring?

Ben Lindbergh: The weighted-means spreadsheet will be released before UPSIDE, but we do plan to offer UPSIDE this spring (spring as in baseball spring, not seasonal spring).

OB1 (NYC): Where do you see Marcus Semien rated at the end of a full year playing. Is his ceiling as a 2B/SS capable of being a top 10?

Ben Lindbergh: Probably not. His OFP in Jason's White Sox top 10 was "Low 5; second-division player." A guy like that could maybe have a fluky season where he's top 10 a some position, but he wouldn't be there consistently.

Jim (Boston): How would Boston play Bogaerts at SS "most days" if they bring Drew back? Are you saying Drew would be a backup in that scenario, or he'd play 3B, or?

Ben Lindbergh: Yeah, he'd move around, play some third, backup SS, give guys days off. I probably wouldn't want to do that if I were Drew, even on a one-year deal.

Alex (Anaheim): Would you shorten Spring Training if you were commissioner?

Ben Lindbergh: I'd probably be in favor of that. Then again, it probably wouldn't make sense to lengthen the regular season, so you'd just end up with less baseball. Wouldn't be the first item on my agenda.

David (Montreal): I've always been confused about the difference between an editor, editor in chief and managing editor. Of course it's not baseball related, but what's the difference? Thanks!

Ben Lindbergh: Generally the e-in-c is more of an overseer who establishes standards, does higher-level planning and managing, and takes the blame when things go wrong. The ME reports to the e-in-c and does more of the hands-on day-to-day stuff. An editor is a person who edits stuff. In BP's case, there isn't much of a difference between e-in-c and ME, since the site isn't really big enough to require both--I was technically ME for a while, and then my title was switched to e-in-c without any real change in workflow or responsibilities. We don't have an official ME at the moment.

Number27 (Milwaukee, WI): We're all hearing about power being a dying tool. Two questions for you: What's it going to take for power to return? Aside from those who've been there before (Chris Davis), who are the next 3 players to eclipse 50 HR?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't really believe that it's a dying tool. I think people probably think that because offense is down overall and they haven't adjusted their expectations/mental baselines. As for three players who haven't done it yet but have the best chance to do it at some point (which isn't to say that I think they WILL do it)...Miguel Cabrera, Harper, Sano.

Brett (Baltimore): Does Adam Jones' extension count as a hometown discount?

Ben Lindbergh: It looks pretty good now, given the rise in salaries since, but I don't remember thinking it was a significantly below-market deal when it was signed. I'll have to go back and read what I wrote.

mdickson (Baton Rouge): Can we get a pickle update?

Ben Lindbergh: Ashamed to admit that I've been buying half-sours off the rack. Making perfect pickles is hard. Going to try again, though.

Paul (Chicago): Do you see Matt Davidson as the every day 3b or in a platoon with Keppinger and Gillaspie ?

Ben Lindbergh: Honestly, you'd be better off asking someone who specializes in that particular team when it comes to specific playing time questions--often a manager or general manager or player will have said something that could give you a clue, and I won't be aware of it unless I'm writing something about it. For what it's worth, our internal depth charts have Davidson getting 60 percent of the playing time at third.

MetsFaithful5 (Syracuse): A question relating to the releasing of each teams top prospects: Will all the teams be out and available on the site before the end of February? Excited for the Mets set, but don't want to pay the month subscription and then have to do it again just to see the Mets set. I pay the monthly due when any mets related stuff (that I like) is released. Thanks

Ben Lindbergh: Well, this question kind of depresses me, since I'd like to think that we do things you might enjoy throughout the year. But yes, all of the top 10s should be done before the end of next month.

gweedoh565 (Ann Arbor): Do you have any pets?

Ben Lindbergh: I have a dachshund named Holly who turned 16 last Tuesday.

ekanenh (Capitol City): Do you ever have the opportunity to talk baseball with the writers who routinely write about what BP does with only disdain and condescension? Have you ever gotten one of them to start reading BP? If so, what's their feedback been like? (sorry for the 3-parter; you can envision run-on sentences and semicolons if you'd like).

Ben Lindbergh: Are there really that many of those? I've found that most of the writers I've interacted with hold BP in pretty high regard. That's a selective sample, obviously, but it doesn't seem like we have a whole lot of habitual MSM critics, aside from the occasional mother's basement swipe directed at the sabermetric mindset as a whole. As I recall, one or more of my predecessors offered to send Murray Chass some of our stuff or engage him in conversation about the things that bother him, and he wasn't interested. But he's more of an outlier than the norm in 2014.

Derp (South Side): Will Jose Dariel Abreu be considered a rookie? Are we getting another Ichiro ROY situation?

Ben Lindbergh: He'd be eligible for the award, yeah.

rzt101 (Queens): I just read an article by Dave Cameron's piece in the Hardball Time Annual. In it, he highlights MLB's intern program and how it is skewed towards attracting young white individuals who don't need to rely on its meager wages to get by. He goes on to say that a lot of these jobs are the entry way to working in baseball front offices, thereby creating a somewhat homogenous staff. I imagine a lot of people who apply to such jobs would tend to follow sites like BP or fangraphs. Based on your experience, do you agree with Cameron? Is there a diversity issue within the 'stat-head community'? It is interesting since outside of baseball, people raise alarm on how we have to import from the rest of the world to fill our science- and math-dominated jobs. I just want to connect this to your podcast about Verducci's State of the Union where he tried to come up ways to make baseball more popular. I would love to hear your take on this if possible. Thanks and apologize for the wordy question

Ben Lindbergh: Having been a baseball intern, I'd agree that most internships tend to exclude people of a certain socioeconomic status, just because it's hard to support yourself on intern pay in a big city. Obviously, plenty of smart people still end up working in baseball--teams are able to pay interns so little because supply outstrips the demand. (Though some teams have told me that they still find it hard to find interns who have all of the technical/statistical expertise they're looking for.) But they are limiting the potential talent pool (and the diversity of backgrounds) to an extent.

Shawn (Cubicle): Have you ever written anything about your experiences in scout school?

Ben Lindbergh: Yes, I did a four-part diary sort of series. Just Google my name + scout school and you'll see it.

rzt101 (NYC): If I am correct, as part of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, there is a separate hall for baseball writers. Wouldn't be great if writers get voted in by retired baseball players? I would love to see Jeff Bagwell et al debate the merits of Murray Chass et al.

Ben Lindbergh: That would be amusing, though it would also be bad for baseball writing. Writers who cover teams closely already have enough incentive not to ask interesting questions that players might not want to answer.

Mitchell (Baton Rouge): Do you ever get tired of recording Effectively Wild? It seems Sam does, but you keep it going.

Ben Lindbergh: There are nights when it's kind of inconvenient to do a podcast at a particular time (there was that time Sam called me from a stream in the middle of a forest, and another time when I tried to record while carrying my computer at the end of a dock with a weak wireless connection in the British Columbia wilderness), and other nights when nothing has happened and neither of us has all that much to say. So maybe I get tired of doing particular episodes, but I don't get tired of doing the show. It's a lot of fun to get questions and feedback from the listeners.

Jerry (Baltimore): There seems to be a lot of debate about the top SS prospects and who will turn out to be the best. Addison Russell looks like a keeper, but how much do you see his offensive and fantasy stats being affected by his eventual home ballpark? The other top SS prospects will have seemingly better offensive environments.

Ben Lindbergh: Bret Sayre and the rest of the fantasy staff are hard at work on their top 101 fantasy prospects list (seriously, the thread about it is over 60 emails long after a couple of days). That list will answer your question, or at least will offer an answer to your question. Baez seems like a good bet to be worth more in fantasy than guys like Lindor or Correa, who might be more valuable on defense.

Matt (BC, Canada): I'm sick of waiting for the Jays to do something and I'm getting depressed. Please tell me all the wonderful things they are going to do to make a playoff-calibre team.

Ben Lindbergh: Well, they might sign a starter, or they might sign Stephen Drew. Jon Heyman pointed out that because they have two protected picks, they may have made the strategic decision to wait out the market and try to sign someone saddled with a qualifying offer at a discount later in the winter.

Brett (Pennsylvania): Do you and Sam actually come in to the podcasts without letting each other know the topic ahead of time? Do you plan out how long you think the podcast will go? There's a pretty wide variance in duratation

Ben Lindbergh: Yeah, there is. We should probably try to standardize it more so that listeners will know what to expect, but some days we have more to talk about than others, and we wouldn't want to cut off the discussion while it's still going or try to prolong it after it's stopped just to hit a target time. We tell each other the topic ahead of time if it's something that would require the other to do some sort of research, or if we're having a guest on. Otherwise, we don't.

WizenedScribe (deskbound): Which if any baseball writers of the dead-tree era do you read daily?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm not sure I read any one writer daily. I have probably 100 or so baseball-related sites in an RSS reader, and I go through it every day (or multiple times per day) and read anything that looks like it might be of interest. The things that are of interest to me tend to be written by certain people more often than others, but I don't necessarily look up their stuff specifically.

treynay3 (Purdue): Who do you prefer in a dynasty league between George Springer and Yoenis Cespedes? I have Springer and have been offered Cespedes basically straight up for him. Can't decide whether or not to take it. Obviously Cespedes would be safer but Springer could be a monster even if he only hits .250. What do you think? Thanks!

Ben Lindbergh: In a keeper league that I thought would last a long time, I'd probably trade Cespedes for a top-20 prospect center fielder who's four years younger and almost major-league ready.

Austin (Quebec City): Who is the first GM fired in 2014?

Ben Lindbergh: Jack Z probably has the wobbliest chair. Maybe Dipoto, Amaro.

bulls2327 (btown): Im in a league using real time salaries, with a cap of 145mil. I currently own Chris Davis who still has one year left of ARB after this year in which he is making 10mil. without writing a noval of who i have and at what, is it a good idea to try and sell on davis now while the value is high?

Ben Lindbergh: Dan Duquette wishes he had a cap of $145 million. I think it would be worth seeing what's out there. Don't think Davis is a collapse candidate or anything, but his value will never be higher.

brian (naked on couch): Talk more about J.Baez please. I'm almost there.

Ben Lindbergh: "Baez might lack Buxton's overall athleticism or Bogaerts' polish, but the 21-year-old Puerto Rican might have the highest offensive ceiling of any player in the minors, a potential middle-of-the-order force capable of hitting for average and obnoxious game power...As Baez matures and adds more patience at the plate and more confidence in the field, he should develop into one of the game's elite players, a left-side infielder (short or third) with an offensive attack that some scouts project to achieve Miguel Cabrera-level heights."

Leave the money on the nightstand. Don't call me.

Mitchell (Baton Rouge): What rookie/prospect pitcher and hitter are you most excited to see debut this year?

Ben Lindbergh: I'm really looking forward to watching Billy Hamilton and Yordano Ventura, but they've both debuted. So probably Buxton and Bradley, because they're the best. Hedges, if he were to exceed expectations and make it up at the end of the year.

David (Montreal): What are your favorite books?

Ben Lindbergh: Whatever book contains the most material by P.G. Wodehouse must be the best. Whenever people ask me about my favorite authors--which is not what you did--I usually say something like Wodehouse, King, Clarke, Asimov, then feel terrible about the authors I didn't include.

David (Montreal): What about baseball books?

Ben Lindbergh: Veeck as in Wreck, Dollar Sign, BBTN, The Glory of Their Times, Roger Angell books, Pages from Baseball's Past.

Scott (OC): Do you find your writing influenced more by other baseball writers, or non-baseball writers?

Ben Lindbergh: Baseball writers. I don't know about stylistically, but certainly in the sense that they give me topic ideas and teach me things about baseball that I incorporate into my own articles.

Dan (Boston): Pick a top prospect that will: 1) Exceed expectations 2) Fail miserably

Ben Lindbergh: 1) Greg Bird 2) Gary Sanchez. (I was just looking at the Yankees top 10.) Actually, probably dumb to pick a position player for fail miserably.

giarraam (VA): Which prospect will have the best season in the bigs this year?

Ben Lindbergh: Does Bogaerts count? If it has to be someone who hasn't debuted, Oscar Taveras.

Tom (Eugene): What are your expectations for Bryan Price in Cincinnati? Surely he won't continue Dusty's asinine lineup construction habits - that's gotta be worth a win alone right?

Ben Lindbergh: I don't know if that alone would be worth a win. Maybe. If he's as good as Dusty at non-tactical stuff and at least average at tactical stuff, that might be good for an upgrade of a win or two.

GrinnellSteve (Iowa): Isn't Marcus Semien the sort of player who does a lot of things fairly well and nothing extraordinarily well? As such, isn't he the sort of player who tends to be shortchanged in prospect lists but ends up carving out a pretty successful career? As a Sox fan, I hope so. Any chance this is the new market inefficiency to exploit?

Ben Lindbergh: I think that type of player does tend to be underrated on prospect lists, and in general--the focus on tools probably does make us miss out on some productive players who don't stand out in any one area. I don't know enough about Semien to say whether he's one of them.

Ben Lindbergh: Have to end this here and move on to other baseball-related activities. Thanks for buying the annual, listening to the podcast, subscribing to the site, and so on. I'll do another one of these soon, but feel free to email or tweet me anytime.

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