Mike is our lead fantasy writer and evaluation guru. He also co-hosts our Flags Fly Forever podcast.
Mike Gianella: This
This is a
This is a baseball
This is a baseball chat.
Rocky (New York): Can you tell us a little about the New York Met's front office?
Mike Gianella: In a lot of ways, it's like any other office. Computers, printers, desks, ergonomically friendly chairs. But in other ways there are the little touches that make it like no other office in the world. Oh look, there's Mr. Met, collating the paperwork for Yoenis Cespedes' physical. It might sound weird to have a mascot doing office work, but Mr. Met is always here when there isn't a home game. He likes to feel useful, and even though it's a challenge getting him to fit through office doors with his irregularly-sized giant head, he doesn't mind. And look, there's Bobby Bonilla, working on a paper jam! He's getting paid for another 19 years, so the Mets worked out it so that he could come in and do odd jobs. He's going out later, on a coffee run. Do you want anything? Yes, a major league front office can seem pedestrian at first glance, but there are a lot of things happening that don't happen in any other office in the world. And now you know how a front office works...in the real world.
Cubbie Bear (Chi-Town): What are your thoughts on what type of player/hitter Nick Senzel becomes and how fast do you expect him through the minors?
Mike Gianella: I think he'll be...Senzationel... (sorry)
I agree with what my colleague Jeffrey Paternostro said in an earlier chat. The ceiling isn't tremendous but I see a solid hitter with a good batting average and more gap power than over-the-fence power. He could/should move pretty fast if he keeps hitting. A mid-2018 promotion is the best case if everything goes right, but 2019 is more realistic.
Richard (NY): Don't mean to be one of those fans with crazy hypothetical trades but I have one for you: Mets send Duda, Conforto, Matz/Wheeler/Gsellman, Dom Smith, and Gavin Cecchini to the Diamondbacks for Paul Goldschmidt? Hows that?
Mike Gianella: The volume is there, but I'd think that the Diamondbacks would want at least one "stud" prospect in a deal like that, and Smith isn't quite it. Duda's back is still a bit of a concern, Conforto's stock slipped last year, and Matz and Wheeler both have injury concerns. The Diamondbacks would likely want at least one major league ready player who is a 3-4 WARP guy with potential to grow into a 5-6 WARP guy. Even though I like Smith, I don't see that here.
Hank (NY): What's your take on the potential of Mets trading for McCutchen? Is Conforto enough?
Mike Gianella: The Mets have a logjam of outfielders and adding Cutch for Conforto just changes the configuration of the logjam. There are questions about if Cutch can play center anymore, and while he's an upgrade on Grandy defensively, that isn't saying much. I don't think Conforto is enough; the Pirates sound like they're looking for a package of three players and not just one player. Conforto is going to have to bounce back in 2017 before anyone trades a franchise player for him - even a former franchise player like Cutch - straight up. Even then, I don't see it.
The Colonel (LA): On a random baseball blog, someone commented: "With better defenses and hitters striking out at historic rates, HRs are probably more valuable than ever."
Mike Gianella: With so many hitters swatting home runs, it could be argued that each home run is worth a little less. Home runs - or any hit - are more valuable when the offensive context is suppressed. That's not where we are right now. Home runs were most valuable in 1968, when pitchers were throwing pellets off of a 15 foot high mound and the batting leader in the AL barely cracked .300.
Cubbie Bear (Chi-Town): What sort of player/ hitter do you expect Nick Senzel to become? What is his anticipated timeline getting to the majors?
Mike Gianella: I think I answered this question already. Bad pun surrounding the word sensational, decent hitter with high floor but not a ton of HR power, 2019 realistic timetable.
Jason (Boston): Does Blake Swihart have some all star caliber seasons in his bat?
Mike Gianella: Not for me. I see more of a mid-tier bat than an All-Star.
Terry (LA): Is Yasiel Puig just an average guy now or does he return to being an all star in the next year or two?
Mike Gianella: Somewhere in the middle. Still a very good talent but difficult to predict All Star status. I see him having a season in 2017 or 2018 where he's on the cusp of being an All-Star but doesn't quite get there.
Craig (SD): What can us fans expect out of Austin Hedges stat line? Top ten fantasy catcher?
Mike Gianella: 13-15 home runs, .260 batting average if he starts. That doesn't put him in the Top 10 for me.
Willy (Minnesota): What kind of stat line is Byron Buxton putting up in 2018?
Mike Gianella: In 2018? Let's be optimistic and give him 15 home runs, 40 steals and a .270 batting average!
Tom (Wyoming): Does Julio Urias really have Ace upside in fantasy?
Mike Gianella: He has the upside to be sure. But very few get there.
Hank (KC): Eric Hosmer? Fantasy gold or fools gold? Have we seen his best?
Mike Gianella: I was never that high on Hosmer so it's difficult for me to stick the pyrite label on him. He might have a season a little bit better than his best year, but hard to see him being all that much better. He's still a pretty solid player.
Greg (Canada): OBP fantasy dynasty league. Wilson Contreras or Gary Sanchez the best young fantasy catcher to own? Or is it someone else?
Mike Gianella: Sanchez for me. Even if/when the power slips somewhat, there's too much to pass up there. Contreras is a heck of a player, but I'm not sure if that's going to translate to 25+ homers in fantasy.
John (Nevada): Does R.Guzman or D.Fisher see time in the majors this year? Which do you like more of the two? Have owned both for a while, not sure if I should cut bait.
Mike Gianella: Both will/should be up at some point in the middle of the year. I prefer Fisher, although I can't say I'm an ardent proponent of either.
kvamlnk (out eating pizza): When you provide your top 300 draft order, would you consider omitting the glut of catchers at the back end? If you believe that it is really worth ranking the bottom catchers, you could do it as an appendix. The list is quite helpful.
Mike Gianella: I could do that. I've toyed with that idea in the past.
jervin (Ft. Worth, Texas): In a keeper league where you carryover 3 players (1 of the 3 must be a SP) and 1 prospect...who would you carry over between the following (you can keep these players forever and league is 8x8 with OBP, K's (for batters), Total bases, Loses (for pitchers), K/9, QS):
Arrieta, deGrom, Mazara, Polanco, Bradley Jr, and Schwarber for the 3 MLB carryovers and then between AJ Reed and Giolito for the prospect carryover, Giolito is the obvious choice, right? Thanks!
Mike Gianella: Arrieta, deGrom, Mazara and Giolito.
Jake (cali): in a keeper league who are your top 5 must stash prospects?
Mike Gianella: Rodgers, Robles, Crawford, Frazier, Meadows.
Dan (DC): Thoughts on the potential of Juan Soto?
Mike Gianella: He's potentially a 30 HR bat with a solid batting average. That's the ceiling, and given his age and lack of professional experience there are a lot of other outcomes that aren't that nice.
Peter peter pumpkin eater (Cincinnati ): Would a mccutchen trade give Austin meadows a shot to start the year? He ready?
Mike Gianella: It's possible, though at the age of 21 and given the Pirates propensity to save money, I foresee a late season call-up for Meadows. He'd be a capable starter if the Pirates did give him a chance on Opening Day.
Peter peter pumpkin eater (Toronto ): People seem to be losing faith in dan vogelbach-is he just going to be a platoon guy or can we expect more? Heard a lot of talk about him being the best hitter in the minors but this offseason seen a lot of ppl saying he's barely an mlber
Mike Gianella: You can expect a little more, but I suspect he'll always have some fairly dramatic splits. The top-tier projections were always overblown in my mind but he can hit and could survive as a mid-tier MLB DH for years if everything breaks right.
jgaztambide (Washington, DC): Thanks for the Chat, Mike! I have the #1 pick in a dynasty league and I'm trying to decide between Nick Senzel and Kyle Lewis. Scoring system is points based and roughly mirrors linear weights. Putting aside my team's position needs, do you have a strong feeling either way on Lewis vs Senzel?
Mike Gianella: I'd lean Senzel, but I don't have a strong feeling either way.
Mrgrutgers (NJ): What's the deal with Greg Allen? Any possibility he is called up this year? Possible starting outfielder long term?
Mike Gianella: Allen strikes me as a solid player who doesn't do any one thing spectacularly well but will find a role as an outfielder somewhere because of his all around ability. I see him up in 2018, though he's old enough that he could find a way. I'll say 50/50 chance he's a starter at some point.
Snowborne (Pittsburgh ): How would you rank these OF for fantasy purposes l Brinson c Frazier e Jimenez n Williams v Robles
Mike Gianella: Robles, Frazier, Jimenez, Williams, Brinson
Alex (Charm City): In a 16 team H2H dynasty league with a fairly old pitching staff. I have the opportunity to deal my Jon Gray, Joe Ross, and Carl Edwards for Justin Verlander and the 12th pick in our rookie draft. Too much to give up for the aging ace?
Mike Gianella: It's a little pricey for me but it's not crazy. You lose that trade if Gray eventually winds up somewhere besides Colorado, but you're trading a Coors starter, Ross - who has been OK - and a future reliever for Verlander and the pick. I'd try to squeeze a little more out of your opponent.
Nick Stellini (on line): How hilariously overdrafted is Gary Sanchez going to be, and where would you actually take him? Answer in the form of a sonnet.
Mike Gianella: Nick, on line. Wow. Hey guys, we got a real celebrity in our midsts tonight!
Depends on the league/format, obvioiusly, but I think you'll chuckle silently at where Sanchez is drafted as opposed to el oh el'ing. I'd take him somewhere in the fourth or fifth round of a 15 team mixer, and that won't cut it...he'll be long gone.
How about a limerick instead?
There once was a guy named Stellini
EDITOR'S NOTE: (we have redacted the rest of this limerick in the interests of good taste and decorum)
Jay M. (Allegan County, MI): Do you have any biggest bounce-back candidate or buy-low suggestions for us? Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.
Mike Gianella: Chris Archer seems obvious, although given the 200+ strikeouts it's not like he did nothing last year. I like Justin Upton as a buy low and on the pitching side I think Adam Wainwright has one more halfway decent season in him before he retires.
Jason (NY): Gary Sanchez puts up what kind of stat line in 2017? If he the best fantasy catcher by 2018? If not, then who?
Mike Gianella: 27 home runs, 87 RBI, one steal, .270 batting average. He's top 3. My money is going to be on Jonathan Lucroy in a full season in Arlington in that park/with that lineup/playing for a big contract.
steinergk (Chattanooga): Thanks for chatting Mike! How will you be valuing Carlos Carrasco for this upcoming year? Where does he fall in the SP tiers?
Mike Gianella: He's a borderline top tier starter, between 11-15 overall in mixed leagues. I'm already debating whether to put him in the five-star tier or at the top of the four-star.
Anthonyb (Ottawa): Standard 16 team mixed roto league, who do you prefer out of Naquin, Jorge Polanco, Kuhl or Lugo next season?
Mike Gianella: I'd take Tyler Naquin, but none of these names is inspiring.
steinergk (Chattanooga): How do you weigh older veterans like Adrian Beltre? Roster with confidence, hedge with a younger breakout potential player at the same position or pay up for someone you are less worried is a hot potato?
Mike Gianella: I use a scale...HA HA HA HA HA HA
Thanks for coming out tonight, folks. Don't forget to tip your servers!
The serious answer is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Roster him, but if you can find a stash in a deeper mixed league who can fill in capably for 150-200 plate appearances if Beltre does get hurt, do that. In a 15-team mixer, the 2017 verison of Martin Prado is what you're looking at.
Jay M. (Allegan County, Michigan): What do you think of Pint? He looks like a future ace to me, but his command/control and injury is too big a pill to swallow for most people. What do you project as a likely career path for him?
Mike Gianella: He could be a future ace. But he's so young and unless the Rockies move him he's going to have to pitch in Coors. A mid-tier starter is the safer guess...and it's my guess at the moment.
danfinn01 (NY): Who are you expecting more from thi syear, Paxton or Rodo. I can trade Mazara for either.
Mike Gianella: Rodon. Much higher ceiling. I prefer Mazar to both, but if you have the need, go for with Rodon.
SPG (LA): Which undervalued SP veterans would you aggressively be pursuing to help in 2017 only?
Mike Gianella: Jeremy Hellickson had a solid season and will still be undervalued in '17. My strategy in most leagues this year is going to be a star-and-scrubs with starting pitchers, so this is a tough question to answer. It's all about price points. I like Julio Teheran to break out, but he's hardly a sleeper in any league.
Jay M (Allegan County, MI): Which star player, either through trade or through free agency, do you foresee being most likely to join a new club during these winter meetings?
Mike Gianella: It looks like Andrew McCutchen right now. Chris Sale is the name who I don't necessarily think will move at the Winter Meetings, but who could move quickly if a bidding war suddenly coalesces.
username49 (Ohio): What can the Indians do to improve their production in CF? I'm not a believer in Naquin and Zimmer is going to need more time. Any trade candidates that make sense?
Mike Gianella: Signing Dexter Fowler would be the best move, but I don't see Cleveland investing $15-16MM AAV on him. Trade candidates look bad too, unless you believe the 36-year-old Curtis Granderson is an answer (he isn't). Best bet is to suck along with Naquin for half a season and hope Zimmer is ready mid-year.
Tim (Stompers HQ): Mike, is Reynaldo Lopez a starter or a closer in the end?
Mike Gianella: My gut is closer.
ssimon (Pelham, N.Y.): Will Austin Barnes have any value in 2017?
Mike Gianella: In NL-only.
Jay M (Allegan County, MI): Who is the best player available in the Rule 5 draft?
Mike Gianella: Tyler Heineman
Ralph Wiggum (Springfield): Thanks for the chat, Mike. Does it feel at all to you like the new CBA is slanted against clubs like the Dodgers, Cubs, Yanks and Red Sox? (1)Hard uniform cap on Int'l signings undercuts financial advantages for hoarding the under-25 guys. (2)The luxury tax threshold is increasing so minutely, so incrementally over the next five years that teams dipping heavily into free agency will be severely punished more than ever before. And (3)being a large market team that's ALSO over the luxury line will mean the draft pick punishments and compensations tied to FA signings will mean getting stung while coming and going. Thoughts, Mike?
Mike Gianella: I'm not the subject matter expert on this, but it does seem to hurt the large market teams a little bit more. From what I've seen, the Yankees do have a benefit in that the way they've structured the soft cap (Michael Baumann at The Ringer insists I call it that) penalizes the Yanks less than it did in the past.
Scrooge McDuck (Timbukfive): Do you know anything about the Cuban CF Randy Arozarena? At 21 he's leading the league in steals while hitting .330+ in Mexican Winter Ball (supposed to be roughly Double-A quality), after hitting .377 and leading the league in steals in the Mexican Northern League several months ago (basically Low-A equivalent). He's got precious little pop, but could he be a 40+ SB guy in MLB down the line? Thanks, Mike!
Mike Gianella: I know what you know, which is basically the stat line looks pretty and people are excited by the tools and speed.
AJ (Boston): Nick Williams over Brinson? Really? Assume this is because you don't believe in his hit tool?
Also, if you have a pick in the 3 to 5 range of a first year player draft, any thoughts on who to target?
Mike Gianella: They're both really good. It's not so much that I don't believe in his hit tool but that he's been all over the place. The ceiling is higher than Williams' is.
David (NY): Thoughts on James Kaprielian?
Mike Gianella: Big dude, lots of polish, could be a solid #3 for years if he stays healthy. Could wind up as a decent eighth inning guy if the durability is a long term concern.
Ted (Chicago): Are we starting to see the decline of Jake Arrieta or is he back to his dominant self in 2017?
Mike Gianella: I don't know if we're seeing a decline more than we're seeing him settling at his 2016 level. The stuff is still great but all of the command issues last year might be the new normal. If he fixes that, he could be elite again. If he doesn't, an ERA around 3.2 with about a strikeout an inning could be where he sits, which isn't bad at all. Just difficult to expect 2015 again, ever.
Chris Archer (Florida): Hey, Mike!
Isn't my 40% usage of sliders over the past two years a big red flag for health going forward? I mean, guys who throw 40% sliders *always* used to be sent to the bullpen, or asked to modify their repertoires...right?
Mike Gianella: It's a flag for any pitcher, although some guys pitch for a couple of years like that before modifying their repertoire. You should think about it at some point, though.
Cal guy (Cal): Hi Mike, What do you expect from Bundy in 2017? And is this the year Gausman finally breaks out?
Mike Gianella: I'd like to see the Orioles use Bundy as an elite reliever in the Betances mode. If that's not happening, I see some great outings as a starter but with some erratic ones mixed in and a couple of DL trips. I don't trust the durability. Gausman takes a step forward and pitches like a solid #2. Don't see an ace like breakout though.
Greg (Vancouver): Thanks for doing this. Wondering what you think of Erick Fedde and Eloy Jimenez long term? I know they are very different prospects, but two I am interested in.
Mike Gianella: Fedde is a mid-tier starter if he can stay healthy, but his size and delivery don't give me a lot of confidence that he will. I'm higher on Jimenez than many. The offensive potential is considerable, and the Cubs have a good recent track record with their prospects.
Darren (Edmonton): Who would you rank as the top 5 from the 2016 draft for fantasy purposes?
Mike Gianella: Senzel, Moniak (I like him more than many and like what Klentak has done so far), Ray, Kyle Lewis, and Puk.
Cal guy (cal): Hi Mike, Who should I keep for 2017, Gerrit Cole or Jerad Eickhoff? Cole has more upside but costs a lot more and has injury questions while Eickhoff has some potential to be solid for cheaper price.
Mike Gianella: Oy. If there's a price difference, I'd go Eickhoff. Hate to give up Cole, but the flags are crimson. Crimson!
Mike Gianella: Thanks for chatting with me. I'll see you in 2017.