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Chat: Sam Miller

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday July 18, 2014 2:00 PM ET chat session with Sam Miller.


Sam Miller is the editor-in-chief of Baseball Prospectus. He edited this paragraph. Isn't he something!

Sam Miller: Good day! Thanks for coming out to chat, on this, the second anniversary of Effectively Wild's first episode. I'll be a slightly slower chatter than usual for distractions-around-me reasons, and also for a struggling "a" key on my keyboard, but life's precious and awesome so it's good to slow down from time to time. Let's rock.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hail to the Chief! Sam, who would you rather have at 2B in 2015, La Stella or Profar? And beyond 2015? Thanks!

Sam Miller: I would rather have La Stella in 2015 and Profar beyond, mainly because the further out you go the less I can count on *anything* from *anyone* other than my mother's love and my wife's patience. So, since I'm setting expectations low, the terrifying negative possibilities of Profar spook me less.

Steve Roberts (Colorado): Just wanted to say thanks for the quality product. It's gotten better every year and is now my first baseball read in the morning.

Sam Miller: Thanks for that. It was always my first baseball read in the morning (get to work, print out all the articles before the office filled up, stash them somewhere out of sight, read on coffee and lunch breaks). It's incredible the amount of talent has come through here over the decades, each person improving in his/her own way, but Ben deserves special commendation. It's a much more expansive site now thanks to him, and he brought in an incredible staff. And his writing also broadened the way we all look at what a "BP" article can be.

Steve (Editing Question City): Oxford comma: yes, no, or maybe?

Sam Miller: Didn't use it until I got here; switched because it was house style; took about 16 seconds to get used to; and realized, in the switch, how little about me had changed. So don't really have a strong preference.

nottes (MD): I shouldn't be worried about Dylan Bundy's struggles in high A ball a year off his Tj surgery, right?

Sam Miller: I'm surprised that the prospect guys seem pretty sanguine about him. We ran an Eyewitness Account on him this week (it's still on the site's main page, so I'm not going to bother getting you the link right now) and it was bullish--even though velo is down a lot from pre-surgery. They seem to think he'll keep building his arm strength, and if that happens then everything's good. His pitchability remains excellent, his secondaries are mature, he's got all the physical characteristics that made him an outstanding prospect. I'd be worried as heck about that velo thing, but I worry about eeevvverything.

And, yeah, we expect too much from the first year back from TJ anyway.

drmorris (SF): If it becomes clear to both the Angels and Mariners that they can be reasonably certain of playing a one-game playoff against one another, is it possible for either to optimize on July 31 for that destiny game? Would it even be advisable...?

Sam Miller: The obvious thing anybody would think of is wanting to have that one Ace Guy who can shut down a playoff-caliber offense in a de facto Game 7. The Mariners have that. The Mariners even have that AND they have another Ace Guy (in my opinion) who can then pitch Game 1 in the division series without a big drop. The Angels don't. Richards is cool, and I like him a lot, but he's more like top-30 pitcher than top-10 pitcher.

But that's a very simplistic way of planning for one game two months away. After all, the rotation quite likely won't line up to allow even Richards (or Felix) to pitch. I guess you could start gaming the rotation to make sure it does happen now. But it's tricky. What else could you do? You'll have a very deep roster for one game, so you could plan on having an 80-runner for the bench -- but those are guys you find as minor-league free agents, not on the trade deadline. You could beef up the bullpen to be prepared for an ridiculous onslaught of one-inning, one-batter guys; but you wouldn't want to carry a dozen relievers around from July 31st on just for that possibility. You might add a lefty bat in anticipation of Felix, but a) again, two months in advance for one game and only a small benefit? and b) again, Felix might not even line up to pitch in the end. I guess you get David Price if you can, but duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I'm not sure there's anything you'd do that you wouldn't already want/think to do for a five-game series, or even for a 30-game September stretch run.

Jonn (NY): Is Adam Eaton a long term fantasy option in centerfield or can I do better.

Sam Miller: You can do better. For instance,

Mike B (CA): Better fantasy center fielder in an H2H dynasty league Adam Eaton or Kevin Kiermaier?

Sam Miller: ...Kiermaier. I believe in Eaton's bat a little bit more, but I believe there's a better chance Kiermaier develops into a steals weapon at this point than Eaton does.

Sweet Lou (Pittsburgh): Hi Sam, and congrats on your new role! Looking back on the Sox/Bucs trade of Sands/Pimental/Melancon/deJesus for Hanrahan/Holt, at the end of the day will the last man standing (best player) end up being Holt? or are we just experiencing a feel-good, SSS story here?

Sam Miller: I'm on team feel-good SSS story. If the team that gets the best player wins the trade, as they say, I'll give it to the Pirates on the strength of Melancon.

scott (az): What could you tell me about Teoscar Hendandez?

Sam Miller: I can tell you that two years ago Jason Parks said he was an on-the-rise prospect, which turned out to be correct, and that in the BP Annual this year his blurb was also a variation of the on-the-rise idea, and that he seems to be rising. As for his strengths, weaknesses, styles of play and outlook, I can point you to all the answers you desire, in this recent and detailed scouting report filed by Chris Rodriguez: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23529#hitreport82

John (Charlotte): Kevin Goldstein on Episode 500, right?

Sam Miller: He did promise he would, and I've been waiting a long time to make him fulfill that promise. Only thing is we *might* be able to get him to come onto episode 501 (I can't remember if his promise was specific to 500, or just that we had to wait *until* 500, which creates a loophole), in which case we could use the 500 luster to attract some other awesome guest who would otherwise just ignore us.

Also, and just thinking outside the box here, but we could just pull the plug after episode 499, right? That's an idea everybody else loves, right?

Shawn (Cubicle): Could you see a team like the Rangers being a darkhorse and make a run at David Price? They have the pieces and $ to sign to an extension after next year, and while they are out of it this year, they could be right back in it next year.

Sam Miller: I want to believe, but I have to imagine that there are teams that would pay more (like, 50 percent more!) to get more (50 percent more!) useful innings out of David Price. Indeed, 50 percent might undersell how much more he's worth to a team in contention now, considering how much more valuable postseason innings are to regular season innings. The Rangers would have to basically like Price WAY more than anybody else.

Dominic (Zion, IL): Have you ever attempted to record yourself speaking about baseball without a conversation partner? If yes, does it make you think guys like Mike Francessa and Colin Cowherd are even more insane than you'd previously imagined?

Sam Miller: I haven't. I have, once or twice, tried to rehearse something, like a speech or a monologue, and I can't even make it through 30 seconds. Feels slimy.

Mark83 (BP Chat): What would you put the odds at of Jarrod Parker coming back from his second TJ surgery the same pitcher he was? Do you think he eventually moves to the bullpen like other 2 time TJ pitchers?

Sam Miller: Hm. Not sure the odds, but I've been talking to a lot of people about TJs in the past couple months for a story, and they're scared to crud about second ones. They really, really don't trust 'em the same way we all trust the first. I'd expect Parker to return as a starter, though.

mmarsden (Chicago): Now that Ben has left, is it time for you to finally join the facebook group?

Sam Miller: Ben has not left the Facebook group, so that's a non sequitur. That's like saying "Now that Ben has left, is it time for you to finally move into his apartment?" No, it's not. His apartment is really nice, by the way. Unrealistically nice.

Steve from Scarbs (Scarbs): Does Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras net Giancarlo Stanton?

Sam Miller: Well first, let me ask you three questions:

1. Do you think Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras are better than Carlos Correa and George Springer?

2. Do you believe the Astros' trade conversation notes, the ones that Deadspin published, that had the Marlins essentially asking for that for Stanton?

3. Do you think that the Marlins were actually willing to make that move, or just blowing off the Astros by saying "that's what we'd start at", knowing the Astros wouldn't touch it?

Personal opinion is that I'd rather have the Correa/Springer package than the Taveras/Martinez package. I don't know the answers to no. 2 and no. 3. I guess my guess is that it wouldn't net Stanton. I'd do it if I were the Cardinals. I don't think the Marlins would.

Steve (Editing City): What's the baseball equivalent to dropping three semicolons into the same line?

Sam Miller: Semicolons are used for lists, particularly after a colon, so using three semicolons in the same line is pretty much non-event, like using three commas in a sentence. So, I guess the baseball equivalent is the 3-6-1 double play.

The Dude (Office): If Ben couldn't do it anymore and you had to pick a new co-host for Effectively Wild, who would it be?

Sam Miller: Wouldn't wish the grind of a daily podcast on my worst enemy, and wouldn't want to talk daily with my worst enemy, so I'm not sure there is a solution or an answer here.

Charles (Yucatan): If you worked for a team that insisted on having a Way, what would you want the Way to be?

Sam Miller: Man. I'm not ready to answer this question. Shouldn't have clicked on it.

I'd want my front office to be defined by collaboration and experimentation, like Brian Eno.
I'd want my rosters to be known for having the best 25th, 24th and 23rd men in the league, not the best 1st/2nd/3rd (though they'd be welcome, too).
And I'd want guys who throw hard.

justarobert (Santa Clara): Is there a formal BP style manual? How much of the SABR style guide have you committed to memory? (Congratulations on attaining the highest chair, hopefully not too wobbly.)

Sam Miller: BP house style is, in most cases, taken directly from the SABR style guide. We have some things that we make decisions on and try to be consistent with (like not having an extra S in a possessive when the surname ends in S) and that we sometimes reevaluate (like reinstating the S in a possessive when the surname ends in Z or X). Most of the decisions we have to make come with scouting terms that don't have style guide instructions, and hyphens. In baseball writing, and especially prospect writing, 85 percent of the work is adding or removing hyphens.

Here's the SABR style guide, by the way, if anybody is curious: http://sabr.org/about/sabr-style-guide
I believe that's Cecilia Tan's work, though I might be wrong.

R.J. (Phoenix): Baseball commentators always say "these things work themselves out" when talking about a team's farm system having more good players/prospects than positions available -- like the Cubs' current overloaded on one side farm system. That is kind of true -- but not always (e.g., the Nats' current "extra-player problem" was easy to see coming the minute they drafted Rendon). What I don't get is why team's choose to put themselves in a situation where the best case scenario is a problem. For example, the Cub's farm system is great, but how much better would it be if they had used that 4th overall pick to take a pitcher like Nola and traded the Shark/Hammel for the pitching prospect equivalent of Russell. You'll hear experts say they can always trade those position players for pitchers, but those deals are not easy to pull off. But more importantly, why choose to create that hassle if your players develop? I see hubris or at least extreme over-confidence by the Cubs' front office in their two signature moves in 2014.

Sam Miller: Well, when you say the best case scenario is a problem, you don't mean that; you mean the best case scenario becomes somewhat suboptimalized, but it's not a problem; a problem is having not enough good players. If you need to produce 100 widgets and you have a staff that is, when deployed efficiently, capable of producing 120, but in your somewhat inefficient system is only capable of producing 110, that's not a problem. When your staff is only capable of producing 90 widgets, and they're deployed perfectly and make every GD one of those 90 widgets, that's a problem. So I think the answer is these clubs see two players; they like one of them more; they know that, yes, these things do generally work out; and they'll kick themselves if they don't take the player they think better and that ends up being the problem.

I'm more surprised teams don't draft much more explicitly for their home ballparks, to be honest. I don't understand how a system that has incentives to put players in the positions where they are most likely to succeed would end up putting Phil Hughes in Yankee Stadium for so long. I just don't get that. I keep meaning to write about it, but as you can see I'm stuck on the relatively shallow "I don't get it" first stage.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Trade you most want to see happen by July 31st?

Sam Miller: I'd like to see Troy Tulowitzki on the Yankees, to be honest. I can't quite articulate why that would make me happy. I'm not usually in the habit of wishing the Yankees had more expensive players.

Matt (MN): Who do you like more over next few years Kyle Zimmer or Tyler Glasnow?

Sam Miller: Glasnow

scifi451 (MN): Who do you like more over next few years Kyle Zimmer or Tyler Glasnow?

Sam Miller: Zimmer. Wait, no. Glasnow. Glasnow.

justarobert (Santa Clara): I'd just like to note that I rewrote my question to remove hyphens. I feel as if I belong.

Sam Miller: Send resumes to jobs@baseballprospectus.com.

(By the way, to all: Seriously! We can't hire you if we don't know you exist or if we don't know you're interested.)

Ben (Vancouver): What's your favorite thing your predecessor wrote?

Sam Miller: I was delighting a couple days at his troll job on Jeter's retirement tour, particularly this amazing line:

"Jeter? More like ME-ter. And that goes for ME-riano, too."

The Me-riano line killed me. Such a perfect extra beat.

I thought this article (about covering a game instead of working for the Yankees) that he wrote two years ago was a big moment for Ben, when suddenly his writing went into crazy levels of wisdom and effort: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=16480

Finally, this one was a masterpiece, and should be reread for generations, as we slowly forget that the fake-to-third play even existed:


Graham (Richmond, VA): Do you think Prince Fielder will ever be the same dominant power hitter again? Neck injuries are scary!

Sam Miller: No, but didn't totally think he would be anyway. I bet he makes one more All-Star game and has one more season w/ down ballot MVP votes.

Randall (Mizzore): When does Trevor Rosenthal become a starter, and does he have enough of an arsenal to last 6-8 innings a game?

Sam Miller: Don't think imminently, though I think the arsenal is fine for a starting role. The control this year is crazy. I'll just go ahead and predict a TJ in the next 12 months, cause life sucks.

kimi (Brooklyn): Odds the Cubs start the season next season with most of those studs on the major league roster? Or are they gonna go one more year playing the super 2 game?

Sam Miller: I'd like to think the Cubs have saved enough money that they can afford to make a statement, and skipping the super 2 shenanigans would be a statement.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hey Chief, How would you rank Kluber, Frazier and Mesoraco among SP, 3B and C respectively for 2015. Thanks!

Sam Miller: I'm going to give you an answer off the top of my head. It won't be useful for this reason, but I want to go check later and see how close I came to the right answer (a right answer):

Kluber 22 (among SP)
Mesoraco 6
Frazier 8

Sam Miller: I'm sorry, there are other good questions but I have to go. I'll be doing a lot more of these, though, so we'll do another one soon.

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