Jeff Long: Let's wrap up the season and start talking offseason moves!
OB1 (Tampa): In what order who of the following will give the most MLB impact. Who would be the must haves Max Kepler Brett Phillips Luis Ortiz Nick Williams Josh Hader and Clayton Blackburn.
Jeff Long: So I'll start by saying that you should ask the prospect team this as well, but that's an interesting list of names. I'm not super high on any of the pitchers honestly, I think the position players are a cut above them here.
I really like Kepler, I think guys with good hit tools are routinely underrated if they don't have loud other tools. Williams will be a solid corner OF guy but the bar is so high offensively that I hope he'll hit enough to become a first division guy.
Brett Phillips is probably the top guy here, I think he has the potential to be a star down the road.
David (Winnipeg): You are starting a team tomorrow and have your choice among three CFs. Please rank them in order of preference: Delino Deshields, Joc Pederson and Odubal Herrera
Jeff Long: This one tough for me, because each guy is a rational choice. I think I'd go with Herrera, then Joc, then Delino Deshields, Jr. I fully expected to just pick Joc because his upside is a bit higher, but it's a long swing and that concerns me. It's kind of a toss up for me there.
Delino, I like the profile, but he just doesn't excite me. He probably has the highest floor of the three though.
Chris (Baltimore): Best case, highly obtainable, scenario for Buxton next year?
Jeff Long: PECOTA has him with a .273/.349/.422 (.285 TAv) line next season, and I think that's the most likely positive scenario. Best case though is if he's completely healthy that he hits something like .295/.360/.450. Combine that with the defense and I think he would be fulfilling that potential earlier than many though.
Just don't be surprised if he hits .250 next year and takes a little longer to get his feet under him at the MLB level though.
Luke (MI): How well (badly) is Mat Latos going to pitch next year? Seems like he's heading down the Justin Masterson path of already worse than average and declining further ...
Jeff Long: I'll admit that I didn't see this coming. If you go by DRA last season is a big outlier. From 2010 to 2015 he was: 3.22, 3.51, 3.60, 3.77, 3.62, 4.53. So it's not like there was a gradual decline, it was sort of just a cliff. That said, his velocity was down a few mph, so I don't think he'll fully bounce back unless he finds more velo. I just don't think we should 100% write him off just yet.
Mike (SoCal): I feel like Daniel Norris really didn't help Andrew Cashner with pitch framing this year. Is that on point?
Jeff Long: Derek Norris is actually a good framer according to our data, we have him saving over 12 runs with presentation this past season. Now, I'm not an expert in presentation (ask Harry Pavlidis!) but it's possible that Norris did better with a Kennedy or someone else, and less well with Cashner. I'm not sure about how framing varies by pitcher type, but it's conceivable that a guy who works around the zone and has less loud stuff might be easier for the catcher than someone like Cashner.
Chad (Westminster, MD): What do you expect the Orioles to do in free agency?
Jeff Long: The Orioles should have a lot of money to spend, and a lot of holes to fill. I think they'll probably target some middle of the pack starters (think Chen, Kazmir, Iwakuma) as long as they don't cost a draft pick. I suspect they'll be in the conversation on some corner OF names like Zobrist, Gordon, or Cespedes ... but I'm not sure they'll land one.
IF they're looking for a big splash I think Heyward makes a ton of sense for the team, though he'd require a record-setting commitment from the franchise.
Morgan (Baltimore): Better shortstop defensively - you or Andrelton Simmons?
Jeff Long: I don't have any platinum gloves, but I think over a full MLB season I could hit more than 4 HRs. I might hit .025 in the process, but I'd get a hold of a few!
btufts (NYC): Where does Bud Black land?
Why did the Nationals low ball him?
Jeff Long: This is a head-scratcher. It makes no sense to me why the Nationals would low-ball him like that. Baker is getting $2MM a year, and I'm not really sure if they didn't want to pay Black that or if they changed their minds mid-way, or if there was some sort of internal power struggle where decision makers changed, etc. The whole situation is odd.
Where does Black land? I think any team would be lucky to have him. I haven't the slightest idea where, but the team that does get him should be very happy the Nationals passed.
Rick (Texas): My friends didn't believe me when I said the Rangers needed outfield help - Am I off base?
Jeff Long: They're definitely thin in the OF. You have an injury-prone LF in Hamilton, a very young CF in Deshields, and then Choo in right. I think the Rangers would say Gallo is a backup in both corners, but I suspect you'd want someone who can help in CF. Not to mention that if Hamilton goes down, who becomes the backup corner OFer?
They probably don't need a Heyward or anything like that, but an Aoki, Rasmus, or Fowler might make sense. Just depends on how all-in they are for the 2016 playoffs.
Tom (DC): Victor Robles Potential?
Jeff Long: Remember what I said about guys with advanced hit tools? Robles is a guy who can play solid CF defense while hitting .290 at the MLB level. I think there's a chance for more in the bat too. He might be in the Ben Revere/Denard Span mold, but there's definitely a chance that he becomes a better version of those two players as well.
There's a recent scouting report on him that you should check out as well - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/eyewitness_bat.php?reportid=291
Dan Weigel (PA): What is the current trade value for Dylan Bundy? Upside is still there but injuries and now the exhaustion of all option years makes him a unique asset. If the O's don't think he is quite ready could you see a non-contender (which the O's might be, but anyway) paying anything significant to acquire him?
Jeff Long: Man, that's a tough question. Off the top of my head I can't think of any easy comps for Bundy right now... maybe Trevor Bauer when the Diamondbacks sold him for pennies on the dollar. I'm a big believer in Bundy, and he's looked good in the AFL. I don't love the idea of him being pushed to the bullpen, but he can't go back to AAA so the O's hands are tied.
Expect him to get the Gausman treatment, with starts coming around April/May. If he does well enough he'll either get flipped at the deadline, or be in the rotation for good.
kiper90 (Mother Russia): Hey Jeff. Are there any players you are higher on then others who you are more aggressive in putting higher on the Top 10 lists when they come out?
Jeff Long: That's hard to say because our prospect team does such a great, and exhaustive, job with those lists. In general I have types of players that I like who I generally bump up over similar players. For example, I love hit tool guys (Conforto comes to mind) and I think I'm higher on them than most, even if their other tools aren't that exciting. With pitching, I like guys who have advanced breaking balls, and also guys who lead with their changeup. To me, a team can refine mechanics and pitch selection and a dozen other things. If you don't have pitches that'll make you successful though, that's a lot harder to develop.
Peter (Albuquerque): Do you think players notice or care that the qualifying offer went up so little? As in, enough to do anything about it in the next CBA?
Jeff Long: Well it's designed to approximate the top of the market. So as more players receive massive contracts, the value of the QO goes up in kind. I think it's actually going up faster than I expected, but obviously not too fast for teams to find equilibrium in terms of players accepting it.
That said, I do think it'll be tweaked in the next CBA. This conundrum is so difficult to solve because MLB is trying to balance competitiveness with small market aspirations. The revenue draft pick lottery has similar problems, but it's less publicized so fewer people care about it.
I'm not sure there's a simple solution, but tweaks could perhaps improve the system they have today.
John (Trenton): Higher offensive upside, Piscotty or Bird?
Jeff Long: I think most scouts would say Bird, but I'm going to go with Piscotty (assuming we're correcting for position). Bird is a 1B/DH so he'd need to hit a good bit better than Piscotty (who is still a corner OF), and I'm just not sure that'll happen. Bird definitely has the power advantage though.
Bill (Trenton): David Peralta put up some big 2nd half numbers. His babip was obviously high, but hard hit % and exit velocity were also high. What do you expect from him in 2016? Thanks.
Jeff Long: Someone asked me who the most underrated player in baseball was right now and my answer was Peralta's OF-mate A.J. Pollock. Now, Peralta isn't likely to break out like Pollock did this year, but I think he has a nice skill set and will be a solid guy for a while. I'd love to see the K rate come down, but it seems like he's trading some Ks for hard contact, and it's worked so far. The tie between Exit Velo and BABIP is loose still, but I don't think he's due for a full-on regression to a replacement level guy. A couple win player, largely on offense, seems about right.
Maggie (Baltimore): Who do you think will make the biggest splash in the off-season? Who do you think will make the most impactful move in the off-season?
Jeff Long: I don't think we'll have another San Diego Padres type of offseason this year, but I could see some already loaded teams adding more firepower. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cardinals make an uncharacteristic acquisition (or retention in the case of Heyward). We could also see the Royals try to extend their window by replacing Gordon with a bigger name OR replacing Gordon with a similarly expensive pitcher.
I've been talking free agency with RJ Anderson and it's crazy how top heavy this year's crop is. Should be fun to see where the top 10 land, because every one of them could change a team's direction.
Jeff Long: Thanks for the chat everyone. We're working on some exciting stuff this offseason that I can't wait to share with you. So check back often!