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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday August 26, 2005 1:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.


Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Joe Sheehan: Joe is going to be a few minutes late. The chat will begin at 1:20 p.m. EDT.

Will (Iowa City): More hopeless franchise: Kansas City or Tampa?

Joe Sheehan: KC, and it's not close. The Royals are the worst franchise in baseball, on their way to being the worst in pro sports. They need a sale, badly.


I thought I put up a message saying the chat was delayed until 1:20, but it doesn't appear to have posted. Sorry about that. I'm here now, at least until Cubs/Marlins first pitch, so let's go...

Hunter Stickno (South): Year to year the player comments dont change much, that leads me to believe that the authors agree on almost any player, are there any players who some authors like and others don't? (not prospectsm but MLBers

Joe Sheehan: Many, many players...there's a perception that there's a BP "groupthink," and that could not be further from the truth. While we all tend to be committed to a performance-analysis approach, there's a lot of room for disagreements within that framework.

Read the Top 50 Prospects roundtables for a sense of the idea exchanges that go on internally.

Dan Okeefe (Hippie): How does Podsednik make the A.S. game? Better yet how did Podsednik make the ballot over Hafner?

Joe Sheehan: He was the fan-vote guy. [shrug] It'll be fun to look back in 20 years at this .260/.325/.315 OF who got 2600 MLB ABs and wonder how he made an All-Star team.

DrLivy (Charleston (WV)): What would Furcal do to the Yankee line-up? They already have one of the best OBP's in baseball for their lead-off position. But still I hear plenty of rumors.

Joe Sheehan: I'd rather have Furcal at second base than Cano, that's for sure. He's a better OBP guy, more power, better defense, much better on the bases.

I don't know that he's $8MM/year better, though, and that's about the difference between the two.

I think I'd rather have Furcal going forward than Renteria or Cabrera. It will be interesting to see how much money he gets this winter.

Phil (Osopher): Did the Sox really win a few four game series because they're smart? Or are they smart because they won?

Joe Sheehan: They were smart before the series were ever played. That they won just draws more attention to the design of the team and the organization, but doesn't change anything about it.

But I still disagree about the Nomar deal... :-)

beanpj (Washington, DC): Who will be the better NL second baseman for the next three years, Marcus Giles or Rickie Weeks? And, should we be talking about Weeks for NL Rookie of the Year this season?

Joe Sheehan: Great question...I'd go with Weeks because he's on the upslope, and because Giles' 21-HR 2003 is starting to look a little fluky.

Weeks is in the mix in a weak year for rookies. I think Francaeiour will pull a McCovey and win it from behind, but Weeks will certainly get votes. Both guys would benefit from the Pirates shutting down Zach Duke in September.

sanchez (London, UK): What team is most likely to suprise everyone by surging back into contention, like Houston last year? What team seemingly destined for the playoffs, will fall short, like the Cubs in '04?

Joe Sheehan: I think the Astros have already claimed that title. The A's and Indians have also made massive in-season turnarounds.

I've been thinking about this a lot, given how last year played out and the way this year has, and I keep coming around to the idea that it's just not possible to judge teams on even two months' worth of play. It certainly makes my job harder--or, you could argue--makes me irrelevant--but when you see swings like we've seen from the Indians, A's, Astros, Dodgers...you start to wonder if maybe baseball is just designed in a way that requires massive samples to gather meaningful information.

Sorry...got off on a philosophical tangent there...but the issue is real, and something we need to think about, even as the mainstream requires faster and faster analysis.

ssimon (Mount Vernon, NY): Joe, right now I'm taking the NY bar exam, so please wish me luck and answer my question: How do you see the Devil Rays managing their OF/DH situation next year? Does Jonny Gomes get to play? Will they put Rocco Baldelli back in CF? Will Delmon Young *ever* make the big club? Thanks.

Joe Sheehan: Good luck!

They'll trade Aubrey Huff this winter, and go with Crawford/Baldelli/Young across the OF with Gathright getting some PT and Gomes the DH.

Young could start the year at AAA, in which case Gathright--or maybe even Damon Hollins [shudder]--would benefit.

The Devil Rays have done a very good job accumulating talent, more or less in spite of themselves. I have serious doubts about their ability to turn that talent into a winning baseball team under the current administration.

helix123 (bay area): Many discussions about whether Ozzie is playing "smart ball" or "lucky ball". Three "doing good" teams are "doing great" in one-run games. (to 7/21) White Sox: 23-10 Angels: 21-13 Nationals: 24-14 The Nationals are back to earth after lose 6 straight one-run games. The interesting thing is the White Sox are 14-1, the Angels are 13-5 in one-run games against AL Center teams. They played just .500 one-run games against other divisions. It seems can't be explained by pure luck. Do you think there are somethings special between AL Center and these two teams?

Joe Sheehan: The lower the run environment, the greater the chance of one-run games. The AL Central has, what, three of the five worst offenses in the AL? Plus the Indians didn't score for six weeks at the start of the year. I think that explains it.

Whether you want to consider that "special"...

MarinerDan (SF, CA): Joe, what is your best prediction for the career path of Felix Hernandez? What's the upside and what is the downside?

Joe Sheehan: I think he'll be one of the five best pitchers in the AL for his next 50 starts or so, then miss some non-trivial amount of time to an arm injury. What happens after that is anyone's guess.

I think Hernandez is terrific right now. I just don't think there's reason to consider him an exception to what we know about young pitchers until he proves that he is.

TheRedsMan (Chicago): Hey Joe. It's pretty obvious that the Reds will be finally trading that extra OF. Which guy do you think they'll move (my guess is Wily Mo Pena) and what kind of return can they expect? Is a bonafide top pitching prospect on the level of a Duke, Greinke, Liriano, etc. out of the question?

Joe Sheehan: I think it'll be Dunn, who makes the most money of the three tradeable guys and wants out pretty badly. They should be able to a get a good package of arms for him, but choosing the *right* package will be the issue. Dan O'Brien hasn't exactly been Jack Quinn.

Personally, I'm starting to believe in Wily Mo Pena. Not that he's better than Dunn, but that he's not just a tools guy who can't play baseball, and that he's worth keeping given service time and money considerations.

Possessed Rebel (Detroit): As you know your "My Guys" article is very popular. Any additions to your guys as the season has progressed? Thank you.

Joe Sheehan: John Patterson (very bitter that I got off that bandwagon too soon), Carlos Silva (I love guys who work fast and throw strikes), Johnny Gomes and John Lackey.

misterjohnny (LA): How long until Colorado has a winning record? Do they have any hope with their prospects, or are all these young players just AAAA players who get to play at Coors Canaveral?

Joe Sheehan: Matt Holliday resembles that remark.

The funny thing about the Rockies is that the further away they get from the Blake Street Bombers, the less success they have. "Pitching and defense" has failed miserably; give up, get a whole bunch of guys who rake, and try and score 1200 runs so you can go 62-19 at home.

I can't see the Rockies winning until they move away from trying to build around pitching. It just can't be done in that park.

sheboygan (atlanta): Zack Greinke had one of the ravest reviews in his player comments in the 2005 Prospectus. Did anyone disagree on Zack Greinke? Is there anything positive from a performance analysis perspective his second year?

Joe Sheehan: Me.

I've had a lot of arguments with Rany about Greinke. My case was simply this: you can't be a flyball pitcher with a mediocre strikeout rate, no matter how smart you are.

If you're looking for upside, I guess you could look at his reduced home-run rate, but I think some of that is lost when you factor in league in park.

Eventually, Greinke is going to be pretty good, but the optimism that surrounded him from 8/04 to 5/05 was wildy misplaced.

Also, when was the last time the Royals developed a pitcher? Mark Gubicza?

Thaskins5 (CT): What should the Blue Jays due with their MI jam? Release Hinske? Trade O-Dog and put Hill/Adams at 2B? Can Hill hit enough to play 3B?

Joe Sheehan: Buy out Koskie's deal. As much as everyone thinks Hinske is such a HUGE disappointment, he's out-hitting Koskie and he's five years younger than the Great Canadian Mistake. I'd much rather have his next two seasons than Koskie's.

An infield of Hinske/Hudson/Adams/Hill is the best alignment they can have. They shouldn't re-sign Hillenbrand, who stands to be wildly overpaid, and they should move some pitching-prospect depth for an impact hitter.

My god, the Koskie signing was a disaster.

misterjohnny (Los Angeles): A sports talk host last night said he thought the Yankees would pass the Red Sox for first place by this time next week. As a Yankee fan, what is your opinion on the AL East race?

Joe Sheehan: Red Sox win, Yankees don't. The only thing that could change this would be the Yankees winning most of the head-to-head matchups down the stretch. My best estimate, though, is that the Sox will make the season-ending series irrelevant.

J-Rod Fan (St. Louis, MO): Is John Rodriguez for real? He had 17 homers in 34 games at AAA and has hit well in the MLB so far. It just seems strange for a 27 year old to come out of nowhere like that. Secondary Question: When Sanders returns from the DL, if J-Rod continues to produce, don't the Cardinals have to keep him and send down Taguchi. (Or will Larussa's preference for bench players that can't hit prevail)

Joe Sheehan: Taguchi isn't losing his roster spot, so given that John Mabry can stand around at third base, Scott Seabol seems more likely to lose his spot.

Rodriguez is your basic fluke, and unlikely to be discussed much after 2005.

xian (chicago): I'm not sure I understand Pythagorean W-L records. Isn't the idea that the White Sox Pythagorean W-L and record in one-run games is going to "catch-up with them" a gambler's fallacy? I've heard this many places including on BP, but it seems like while the Sox are likely to play more to their ability the rest of the way, they aren't likely to play .300 ball or drop a dozen one-run games in a role to "make-up" for unlikely past performances...

Joe Sheehan: Nope, and you've hit on one of the misconceptions w/r/t Pythag. There's no auto-correct mode; if you've outperformed your Pythag over N games, you don't "underperform" to balance it out. Those wins are banked.

There are strong regress-to-the-mean trends in baseball, for players and teams, but you can't just assume that good luck is going to be followed by bad luck. The Nationals' 13-game losing streak in one-run games was just as unlikely as their 12-game winning streak in those contests.

statham (Toronto): How best for Buddy Bell to allocate playing time at 2B in September between McEwing and Hocking?

Joe Sheehan: Question of the day. I think James Click needs to do 2,000 words on this issue.

Me, I'd get Tara Reid to take the job for a month.

coneway (austin): do you think jorge posada is just having a down year or is this the beginning of the end?

Joe Sheehan: He's getting up there for a catcher, and he logged a ton of innings through his prime. I'd like to think more time off would help him, maybe let him be Mickey Tettleton's back end, but the Yankees' logjam at 1B/DH doesn't really allow for that.

He's not going to have 2000-01 again.

misterjohnny (LA): What do the Phillies do in the offseason regarding their Thome/Howard dilemma?

Joe Sheehan: They don't really have a choice, do they? Thome has a bad back and three years left on a deal that pays him about 1.4 Ortiz per year. I don't think you can get anyone drunk enough to take that contract.

The Phillies have pretty much the entire lineup signed, so they'll look to deal Howard for the best available starter.

Rider11 (New York City): Pretend you have $40 million or so to buy a substantial (but not majority) share of any MLB team. Considering both your financial investment, quality of team management, farm system, and market size...where do you make an offer?

Joe Sheehan: If I can't get control, then I don't spend the money. If you're just asking me an ROI question, then probably the Cardinals (great baseball market, good media contracts, new park coming).

Bill Johnson (New Mexico): Maybe it's early to be looking to the post-season, but: BP has had nice things to say about Brooks Kieschnick-like experiments in the past. Would it make sense for Tony La Russa to do the same thing with Jason Marquis this year for the playoffs? He's hitting (.368/.385/.559) better than he's pitching (4.67 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) and you can't really see him as a post-season starter, but a shared pinch-hitting/mop-up pitching role might save the Cardinals some roster decisions. Do they have better options for the 25th spot?

Joe Sheehan: I don't think teams use good-hitting starting pitchers as pinch-hitters often enough. There's a fear that they'll get injured.

While the best-hitting pitchers aren't anything special in the big picture, they certainly can offer better PH possibilities than many backup middle infielders or defensive replacements. Plus, you save a roster spot.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Have you been watching Litte League games this month? See anyone or anything you want to recognise (or swat)?

Joe Sheehan: I don't know what they say anymore about 12-year-olds throwing curves, but it sure seems to me like a lot of these kids throw *mostly* breaking balls, and that can't be good.

I haven't watched a ton of games, but that stood out.

Oh, one other thing: isn't the expansion of the LLWS a bit exploitative? ESPN has essentially garnered a whole bunch of extra programming, and aside from more games--which if you're a 12-year-old kid, doesn't suck--there's no cost.

I know I'm going to hear it about this...

GBSimons (Seymour, IN): Joe, will you ever actually admit the White Sox are a good team? Even your capitulation column was dismissive of the team as basically lucky.

Joe Sheehan: They're good at run prevention, and horrible at run generation. I do think they've been lucky to win a lot of close games, and lucky to be in the division they're in, in an era of unbalanced schedules that gave them a relatively easy 162-game slate.

What I don't understand is why people insists on crediting their success to their offense, which is awful.

Chomsky (Brooklyn): AL Wild Card prediction?

Joe Sheehan: A's, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was the Indians.

Or the White Sox. [ducks]

Bill (Houston): If you were the GM of the Cubs, would you re-sign Nomar to another 1 year contract? If so, what would be your price cap?

Joe Sheehan: The maximum cut is 15%, so the Cubs can't realistically offer him arbitration or re-sign him without allowing him to test the market. There's no way you want him at $6.5MM.

Sammy Sosa and Nomar Garciaparra might combine to make $5MM next year. Wow.

beanpj (Washington, D.C.): Assume the following: Benitez, Bonds, Alou, and Schmidt are all healthy and playing to their PECOTAs, so to speak. Can Brian Sabean's last gasp attempt to win with these old hags be a World Series contender next year? As a corollary, how ugly will the Giants rebuilding project be when (if it hasn't already) the walls come crashing down?

Joe Sheehan: I don't know, but they certainly have to try. What else are you going to do with that roster and system?

In that division, with Bonds back and Alou, Vizquel, Snow, et al managing one more decent year, they could win 86 games and make the playoffs.

Lightning round...

calcar (boston): When will the Sox call up Pedroia? Thanks

Joe Sheehan: Once the IL season ends. Graffanino and Cora will still get the PT, though.

ssimon (Mount Vernon, NY): For the lightning round... Comeback player of the year: Griffey? Giambi? Somebody else?

Joe Sheehan: Giambi, but of course, he's now permanently ineligible for positive press.

Aaron Small?

Tim (DC): Who do you see winning the Wildcard battles?

Joe Sheehan: Mentioned the A's...the NL is such a mess, I'm going with the Mets, if they don't just win the division.

marlette (reno): Fun question; you get to pick one pitcher and one position player under twenty-four to build around: who do you choose and why (and how does "personal makeup" impact the why?)? Who doesn't quite make the cut?

Joe Sheehan: David Wright and ... I guess Felix Hernandez, but can I get him out of Seattle?

beanpj (Washington, D.C.): What mainstream misperception of baseball, or baseball analysis, annoys you the most?

Joe Sheehan: I have half a rant on this written, doubt it'll ever get published...

I hate, with a passion, the idea that guys who embrace performance analysis love numbers and not baseball. That somehow not buying into clutch, or understanding how an offense works, makes your love of the game less.

That's so much more arrogant than any position I, or anyone I know, has ever taken.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): If you were a GM would you sign Nomar and Sammy for $5m?

Joe Sheehan: I might if I were Dan O'Dowd.

shamah (DC): AL Cy Young? Is Santana the front runner now?

Joe Sheehan: Unless and until Roy Halladay pitches again, and then we can debate the issue.

I see a Bartolo Colon faction forming...

bsablan (Portland): Wright over Miguel Cabrera?

Joe Sheehan: Yes, for the defensive value, which will not be insignificant over a career.

Matt (Chicago): Peralta or Tejada over the next five years?

Joe Sheehan: Ooooh...good one.

Just on the field--no money considerations--I'll say Miggy. I like what Peralta's done, but the track record is still pretty short.

Man, this could be a column.

Two more...honestly, I could probably do "Chat Day" with the hundreds of leftover questions...

Bravoatoc (Oklahoma City): What happened to Andy Marte?

Joe Sheehan: He was pretty awful in his two-week tryout, and fair or no, contenders tend to move on to the next guy when that happens.

He'll be back. I'd still rather have him than Francaeiour.

Mat (Seattle): Who are your picks for best and worst manager in the AL?

Joe Sheehan: Scioscia vs. Showalter for best...I guess I can't say "Perlozzo" for worst, huh...

Buddy Bell, probably. It's actually not a bad pool.

Joe Sheehan: Thanks for all the great questions...enjoy the races down the stretch, and I'll check back in during the season's last week.

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