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Chat: Nicolas Stellini

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday May 17, 2016 2:00 PM ET chat session with Nicolas Stellini.


Nicolas is a news writer at Baseball Prospectus.

Nicolas Stellini: Hello, everyone! Welcome to the inaugural Stellini Chat. We'll get the show on the road in a few minutes. Grab yourselves a snack and strap in.

John (Burgh): What do you think of the Cervelli extension for the Pirates?

Nicolas Stellini: We'll start with a topical one. I've always been a huge Francisco Cervelli fan, and was absolutely thrilled when he kicked butt last year. He was going to be one of the better players in what's looking like a relatively weak free agent class. 3/31 is great for someone of his talent. He hasn't been hitting for the same power this year, but he's still got great on-base skills and is a plus behind the plate. Great deal for the Buccos.

McRatSandwich (chi): Tillman real deal or no deal?

Nicolas Stellini: So Chris Tillman has been doing a funny thing this year. He's throwing his fastball *way* less often. Go check out his BrooksBaseball page and look at the usage rates year-to-year. He's been way more of a junkball guy this year. We'll see if that keeps itself going, but it's not like there's been a sudden shift in the mood of the BABIP dragons or whatever. This is a different Tillman. Fun stuff.

Grant Prausee (California ): Have you ever been owned online? How did that make you feel?

Nicolas Stellini: Perish the thought.

Bob (Idaho): What the hell is wrong with Andrew McCutchen right now?

Nicolas Stellini: Cutch has been swinging and missing more often this year, and he hasn't been hitting the ball as hard when he is making contact. Now, he's Andrew McCutchen, and he did this slow start thing last year too. So the gut says that he'll look more like Andrew MuCutchen sooner rather than later.
Either way, though, buy stock in Gregory Polanco.

mattstupp (NYC): I've got Matt Moore, James Shields, Tyson Ross (currently on DL), JA Happ, Kevin Gausman, and Adam Wainwright (among other starting pitchers) at the back of my rotation/bench in my keeper league. I feel I need to drop one of them soon to balance my roster. Should it be Wainwright? His performance has been lackluster so far but I wonder how much hope I should hold onto that he turns a corner and pitches (mostly) like his old self.

Nicolas Stellini: I'm tempted to tell you to punt on Happ only because the regression fairy came for him in a big way last night. But yeah, Waino has been not great and he's getting up there in years. I'm hardly a fantasy expert, though, so about five grains of salt there. I'm not an authority on such matters.

Dandy the Long-Lost Yankees Mascot (The Depths of Your Dreams): Why don't you love me?

Nicolas Stellini: Because you had belt loops as part of your hideous furry body. Not natural, man. Not natural.

Sean Martin (Point Pleasant, NJ): What's been the biggest reason you've noticed in Mark Teixeira's struggles? I remember last year when everyone was remembering just how good he was when healthy - and now he's mostly healthy and is giving NY virtually no production. Maybe now that other guys in the Yankees lineup are stepping up he will see more good pitches to hit and turn himself around.

Nicolas Stellini: Tex is one of those slow start guys. He also was a little banged up already, and he's about a trillion years old in dog years. He'll still hit his dingers and will likely pick it up as the season moves along, but he's also old. So, this is all a long way of pointing you towards the shrug emoji. He's not this bad, but he's not that great anymore either.
The glove is still a thing, though! There aren't many people who make first base defense look fun. Teixeira is one of them.

taylor swift (milwaukee): if you forced the cubs and braves to swap records right now, would either team make the playoffs?

Nicolas Stellini: Happy you could join us today, T-Swift.
This is a really fun question. As of this moment, the Cubs are 27-9 and the Brewers are 16-22. So, let's flip the records.
The first thing that probably happens is that the Brewers are a bit less likely to move people like Jonathan Lucroy at the deadline, because holy moley, they've got one hell of a head start. However, their less than desirable depth and lack of pitching will catch up with them in a hurry. Meanwhile, the Cubs will still have the talent of the best team in baseball, despite the firestorm of hot takes that would be surrounding them. I'd say the Cubs still easily make the playoffs, while the Brewers probably end up looking like a worse version of last year's Twins.

Tom (San Francisco): Kendall Graveman is a frustratingly inconsistent pitcher. There are months where he'll look like a middle of the rotation starter, reeling off a half dozen quality starts. And then there are months where he looks completely lost, and his ERA approaches infinity. What gives?

Nicolas Stellini: That's what happens when you're a righty with middling at best stuff.

detlef schrempf (Zimbabwe): Is there a farm system that has as much depth and upside for pitchers than the Pirates? With Glasnow, Taillon, Kingham, Keller, Kuhl, Brault, Eppler, all are dominating or have legitimate shots to be main stays in a rotation.

Nicolas Stellini: So many Pirates questions!
The one org that you could consider is Tampa Bay. Blake Snell, Brent Honeywell, Taylor Guerrieri, Jacob Faria and co. are nothing to sneeze at. Love Pittsburgh's young arms though, they're pretty damn good.

hdruschel (Bahston): In how many seasons of the next 10 (2016–25) do the Yankees finish above .500?

Nicolas Stellini: They're gonna be teetering on the edge this year and next, most likely, but you have to imagine that once the ugly contracts start coming off the books that they'll start getting schwifty in free agency again.
(Note: this is not a Bryce Harper comment. But, you know, Bryce Harper. I eagerly anticipate you all getting angry at me on Twitter.)
Plus, they actually have real minor league talent now.

Bryan (Boston): The Red Sox need pitching. The Braves are willing to deal Julio Teheran. I didn't realize how long Teheran was under control and how cheap he is, relative to what pitchers are getting on the market now. What type of package would the Red Sox have to give up for him?

Nicolas Stellini: Note that I am *awful* at building fake trade packages.
That being said, I've also had Teheran in my head as someone that the Red Sox (and the Dodgers) could trade for. He's a good-but-not-great young arm with years of control, so he'll cost more than you think. Coppy and Hart will likely try to squeeze someone like Rafael Devers or Michael Kopech out of this deal. Whether or not Dombrowski balks at that is another matter.

BC (Urbandale): Saw potential talks between Cubs and Angles for Trout, i know the angles gm said absolutley not, but one trade projected trade i saw was Trout for : Schwarber, Baez, Soler, Vogelbach, Mckinney, Underwood and Torres. Too much? Too little? Would this be enough to land him and if so, would you do this if you were the Cubs while not losing Bryant, Russell, Contrearas or Happ?

Nicolas Stellini: The Cubs are one of maybe four teams that could acquire Mike Trout without turning into the Angels (one good player, no farm) themselves.
That being said, it's not happening. You're going to have to give up one of those four guys at the end to get Trout, and Schwarber as the "centerpiece" isn't gonna fly, because then you have to play Pujols in the field next year and a guy of his size having his knee fully nuked is scary as heck.
A general rule of thumb when imagining Mike Trout trade scenarios is to look at the package you've come up with, then imagine yourself as Billy Eppler, and try to decide how long you'd be able to contain your laughter.

Lemon Lyman (Jersey City): Which Yankee will be the biggest disappointment this year and which will be the biggest surprise?

Nicolas Stellini: I can order an OMB report on any Yankee player I please, Josh. So I'll tell you that I guess Luis Severino has already fallen into the first category, and 1. Kirby Yates has been sneaky great so far, and 2. I'm very curious to see what Ben Gamel could do with some real playing time at the big league level.

Kyle (Florida): Dynasty League fantasy draft, Byron Buxton or Brendan Rodgers?

Nicolas Stellini: I am legally required to tell you to draft the (theoretical) five-tool center fielder that's already been in the big leagues over the A-ball shortstop, as I'm pretty sure both Craig and Mike will murder me in my sleep if I don't. That's not to discredit Rogers, but Buxton is Buxton and it's far too early to press the big red button on him.

gaedel (encinitas): Hey Nicolas, thanks for taking the time. Do you have any insight into Domingo Acevedo's "lower body injury" and, while we're on the topic, what do you think of the pitcher?

Nicolas Stellini: I have no insight whatsoever into said injury. I wasn't even aware that Acevedo is hurt. I'm not a scout, folks.
In terms of Acevedo himself, I've only seen him once and I am very much #NotAScout and not a member of the esteemed prospect team here at BP. So what I can tell you about him (huge dude, huge fastball, no clue where the fastball is going) is pretty much the public book on him. Instinct says that he'll find his way into the bullpen at some point, but stranger things have happened.

Craig (LA): Is Joc Pederson going to be a platoon hitter for the next few years? His splits against lefties are terrible but he is oh so good against righties, makes him hard to own in a fantasy league right?

Nicolas Stellini: The cool thing about the lefty-hitting side of a platoon is that they get more PA's, which makes him more viable in a fantasy league. If you're in a league that sets a lineup every day instead of once per week, even better. In terms of his future, it might be too early to say, but the splits are indeed not ideal.

Nicolas Cage, Couples Counselor (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip): HELLO FELLOW NICOLAS. What do you think of the recently recalled Rob Refsnyder? Some Yankees fans think he's a TOP PROSPECT.

Nicolas Stellini: Rob Refsnyder is going to be a decent enough bench bat for a team at some point and it's not easy to see more than that. When you're without a real defensive home and have middling power, it's hard to be The Bat That Was Promised.

cracker73 (Florida): How good is Jackie Bradley? Is he now one of the top hitting outfielders in MLB?

Nicolas Stellini: Bradley has certainly been hitting the ball with much more authority. He's been striking out less often as well. But let's see him do this for a longer period of time before we start anointing him. It's certainly been one hell of a show.

Jen (California): Thoughts on Aaron Judge?

Nicolas Stellini: I'm one of the lower guys on Judge. I spent most of last summer watching him and the rest of Double-A Trenton play, and I think he's unquestionably a major league outfielder, but he gets beat very easily on breaking stuff on the outer half of the plate. The strikeout rate was really ugly at one point this year but it's been coming down, so that's a good sign. There's still some development to be done here but he's always going to have pretty substantial strikeout numbers in the bigs.

tomshipley75 (Chicago): So, uh, Joey Nathan, huh?

Nicolas Stellini: It always pays to be a #ProvenCloser. On a more serious note, it's a relatively risk-free move for the Cubs, so why not?

James (The Office): In a deep dynasty league which outfielder do you grab in hopes they reach their ceiling: Tyler O'Neill or Dylan Cozens?

Nicolas Stellini: I admittedly know little about O'Neill, but the improved on-base skills and bigger power is a great sign. People that I know in Seattle are getting excited about him. Cozens has some improvements this year are notable and noteworthy (Hi, Jarrett!). It's pretty much a coin flip, but go with O'Neill and yell at me when Cozens goes ballistic.

Ernie (Philly): Is Jason Heyward a good comp for Nick Williams ?

Nicolas Stellini: Williams is probably going to strike out more than Heyward, and it's tough to say anyone will be as impressive in the field as him. Williams is an absolute toolshed on offense though, so he's absolutely interesting as hell and may hit more dingers per year than Heyward. He's got the potential to do a lot of things, we'll just have to see which of them he actually does. I like him a lot.

Brian (Tehran): Is Xander Bogaerts the best shortstop in the AL? In baseball?

Nicolas Stellini: Oh boy. Well, are we counting Manny Machado? If we are, it's Machado. If we're mentally keeping Machado at third base, then it's between Xander, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor.
Hello there, Cardinals fans! Yes, Aledmys Diaz is going to come back down to Earth, and he's already wonky on defense. Please don't kill me.
Correa isn't as good on defense as you think, but there's clearly a small mountain of potential in his bat and he's already shown that he can wreck shop on offense. Lindor can do everything, and Boegarts is finally hitting like we all thought he could. It's reeeeally close between Lindor and Boegarts, with Correa just behind and likely moving to third base when Alex Bregman decides it's time to throw his hat into the ring. So if it isn't Boegarts, he's just a hair behind.
Unless it's Machado. Then it's Manny by a mile.

Me (Here): Deadline day.....Whats a realistic return for Cash Man to get for Chapman at the deadline? Russell or Baez too rich? Soler not enough? Another team out there that makes more sense?

Nicolas Stellini: You're not getting Addison Russell or Javy Baez for a few months of Arolids Chapman. Come on, man. Be realistic. As for other teams... cross-town trades are few and far between, but man he really makes sense for the Mets. Put Chapman on the Mets and they become an even scarier team in the playoffs.

Alright, that just about wraps it up, folks. It's been a lot of fun and I hope that I didn't bungle too many of your questions. Hopefully we can do this again soon!

Sung Min (NYC): Sup Nick. You're doing big things and I like it

Nicolas Stellini: You're very kind.

Nicolas Stellini: Have a good day, everyone!

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