Patrick Dubuque is an author of Baseball Prospectus and our foremost expert on Tuffy Gosewisch.
Patrick Dubuque: Hello, friends! It's time for a nice cold February baseball chat. I hope you enjoy it. However, please be aware of the following stipulations:
1. I do not care about prospects. If you ask a question about prospects, I will probably answer that question with a lie.
2. I may answer other questions with lies, especially if I get bored.
Grace (ohio): Is there a way to look at previous team projections? Like how many games were the Giants projected to win last year?
Patrick Dubuque: I have an answer for this. It may not be a good answer. The best way I've found for tracking previous projections is to own a copy of every year of the BP Annual, and looking at the team chapter in there. If you don't have a copy of every BP Annual, I suggest hitting some used bookstores.
LoyalRoyal (Favorite Pizza Place): The top 2 SP mentioned on the market currently appear to be Chris Archer and Jose Quintana. What kind of production do you project for these 2 currently? And, how do you feel this could change with relocation to a stronger team, NL team, and/or better park? (In other words, do all arrows point up if they are traded?) Cheers...
Patrick Dubuque: Archer had a rough start, but he's basically Chris Archer. He's pretty great. The thing is, and I know this is a dangerous thing for a Serious Baseball Intellectual to say... I kind of like the Rays. I know PECOTA is biased in their favor, but I look at the lineup and especially the rotation and I can actually see a winning season.
As for Jose Quintana, there is probably no easier pitcher in baseball to project. He will do exactly as well as he did last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Saying otherwise would be madness. Though given his recent flyball proclivities, and the current White Sox outfield defense, a move to any other team would probably be good for him.
Rick (San Diego): Do you see Reddick in a platoon this year and do you think Gattis will have trouble getting ABs even as a dh since Beltran is there? Thanks.
Patrick Dubuque: The funny thing about Reddick is that his star was born when the A's released him from platoon duties. That was when he was 25, though, and he's now 30, and those splits are still pretty stark. The question is, who do you partner him with?
That brings us to Gattis: PECOTA currently has him earning about 35% playing time, 25% as the backup catcher and 10% as the backup DH. That seems like a waste, but... we (as writers and as fans) tend to get hung up on Opening Day lineups, and forget that generally attrition lays waste to them all by the end of April. We've got Beltran projected for 500+ PAs, but he's older than me, and I know that's pretty old. So I'm guessing that Gattis will find his time somewhere. Just hopefully not in the outfield platooning with Reddick, if you're an Astros fan.
Thomas (LA): Is Gleyber Torres the most overhyped prospect in baseball right now?
Patrick Dubuque: Depends on how you choose to quantify over-hypeness. Are we talking a pure delta, (hype - talent)? Or are we looking at more of a percentage, like (hype / talent)? Because if it's the latter, there's no way Torres is more overhyped, relative to his own means, than Angels no. 2 prospect Matt Thaiss, who is probably both not a good baseball player and one of the main hopes for a large number of fans. So I'm going to say that we need to stop with all the Matt Thaiss hype.
Fred (NY): What do you think of Thomas Szapucki?
Patrick Dubuque: I refuse to have opinions about age-20 pitchers in the low minors. We have in each of us only so much capacity for love, and I distribute mine carefully.
Bryan G. (buried under lots of snow): Which MLB player other than Tuffy Gosewich is most like Tuffy Gosewich?
Patrick Dubuque: I'm afraid to say that Tuffy Gosewisch-ness is binary: one is either a Gosewisch, or one is not. To even attempt to extract the nature of a Gosewisch would, by the very act, destroy it.
Bronx Bomber (Philippines): What can we expect from Joey Gallo in 2017? Can he win the TEX 1B job out of ST or has his ship sailed after a miserable 2016?
Patrick Dubuque: Wily Mo Pena got a minor league contract in this, the year of Our Lord 2017, so rest assured that no ships ever sail. That said, PECOTA puts him at .216/.321/.470, which is just higher than Steamer and just lower than Popular Free Agent Chris Carter (though with better defense). I think he gets a shot; the question comes down to how he times his inevitable month-long cold streak. He should probably avoid having it in April if at all possible.
Bob E. (Chicago): How does one become such a schmuck?
Patrick Dubuque: One has to, above all else, believe in him or herself.
Bob (Illinois ): The Cubs have a surplus of infield prospects in double and triple A, with no where to play on the Major League level. Do You anticipate a big trade for Young starting pitcher this season?
Patrick Dubuque: The Cubs have more depth in the infield than in the rotation, so sure, the opportunity is there. But as I mentioned in the Gattis answer above, I think especially at this time of year fans actually kind of start to fear depth. They look at a roster and wonder how Player A is going to get enough playing time... but Player A always gets enough playing time. So does Player Q, who is terrible.
Rex (Chicago): Julio Urias or Steven Matz? 2017 and going forward
Patrick Dubuque: I actually made this exact trade in my dynasty league last year, selling Urias for Matz in order to make a push for 2016. (It worked, just barely.) There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding both, but I think as a team I think I take Matz in the short term, who's been more hurt but has also had more playing time in which to be hurt. In the long term, your guess is sadly as good as mine. The odds say they probably both get badly hurt. Sorry.
mattyjames1 (Canada): Have you read infinite jest? Do you recommend it?
My Annual is taking so long to get here I think I might have been able to finish the book before the other book arrives.
Patrick Dubuque: I'm ashamed to admit that I've bounced off Wallace twice now; I started Supposedly Fun Thing too early, and didn't get it, and started Infinite Jest too late after having kids, and couldn't withstand it. I had a plan at one point to write a review of every single page, which is still, I think, an excellent idea for someone as dumb as me but fifteen years younger.
Bryan G. (yup, still under all that snow): What was your favorite part about writing the comments for the San Francisco Giants in this year's Baseball Prospectus Annual? Did you learn or discover something that you'd consider terribly special or interesting?
Patrick Dubuque: My favorite part of writing for the annual is the jokes, obviously. I actually love the restriction of combining the necessary information about the player, and some flavor or a good joke, all in 150-200 words. Seriously, some of the best things I've ever written are annual comments, I think.
What I learned from researching the Giants is the strange depth of their system. The Giants are one of those teams that always seem to "get away with it" - no matter what terrible signing they make, or how badly they draft, they never sink completely into the swamp. What I learned is that the Giants are incredible at generating replacement-level players, fourth outfielders and four-pitch starters like Ty Blach that no one gets excited about, but who always seem to salvage things when the old overpaid starters go down. It's kind of impressive, really.
Sammy (Pittsburgh): Beyond Cody Bellinger, there doesn't seem to be any surefire 1B prospects. Josh Bell and Dominic Smith seemingly follow but neither seem to be sure things. What do you think of the 1B prospect pool behind Cody Bellinger?
Patrick Dubuque: As an outsider to the prospect world, I want to say that there's been a movement away from putting hopes in that most capricious of tools, the hit tool, and favoring "safer" athletic tools reflected in speed and defense. Those skills are also front-loaded into a player's career, so they're also more reliable sources of value for the team during those pre-arb years. Craig will probably tell me I'm wrong, but that's my sense of it. It could just be a one or two-year blip.
Joe's (Garage): Is Trevor Clifton being underrated? Over his last 7 starts in 2016: 43.2 IP, 0.82 ERA, 45K, 6 BB...feels like nobody noticed and he's still only being projected as a back-end guy. Empty stats? Or possible that the reports on him are now outdated?
Patrick Dubuque: I mean, by BP he's the no. 4 prospect in a talented farm system, so I'm not sure how much higher a rating he needs. He's still got work to do, but the read I'm getting is that back-end is now the floor, rather than the average, estimate.
Punchoutpappy (First In Flight): Can you provide some sort of rationale on why PECOTA is being so spiteful towards folk hero Tuffy Goswisch? A projection of about 60 PA's and only a single HR? Seems like the statistical analysis missed something? I would mark him for at least 2, maybe 3.
Patrick Dubuque: Look at the bright side! Sure, only one home run, but PECOTA also puts him at a .358 slugging percentage, which is nearly fifty points higher than his best season. Maybe Tuffy decides he's tired of being a one-dimensional player and decides to go the other way. Maybe Tuffy's too worried about advancing the runner with productive ground outs to the right side to worry about star stats like home runs and batting average. Maybe he's storing all his offensive ability up, charging it for a single moment in the World Series. That's how athleticism works, right?
Dandies3 (Pa): Given his multiple arm injuries last season, do you see Danny Salazar pitching more than 150 innings? Effect on his already marginal command and control?
Patrick Dubuque: I don't really see any pitchers under the age of 30 pitching more than 150 innings, really. But as far as having an effect on command, the trends aren't good. Salazar's been consistently near the bottom of the CSAA boards for three years now, and his O-Swing% has been trending the wrong way as well. Whether it's health or mechanics, he's going to need to start getting those pitches a little closer to the edge of the plate and be more alluring, and fast.
Nick (Tennessee): What do you think of the PECOTA projections for the Cardinals?
Patrick Dubuque: Usually what I do in these situations is drill down into the playing time field and look at who PECOTA is down on, and whether there's a trend (like the Royals and the Orioles). With the Cardinals, though, it just hates _everyone_. No pitchers throw more than a 150 innings, as previously stated, but I have to think Carlos Martinez is worth at least two wins even in three-quarters of a season, and when I go down the list there are more people I'm higher on than lower on. So my personal opinion is that they're probably an above-.500 team, and the second-best in the division.
fawkesmulder ((Zzyzx)): What do you make of Touki Toussaint? Command still seems to be an issue, but he finally took some big strides... 3.11 ERA in final 121.2 innings of 2016, 123 k/ 62 bb / .198 BAA
Patrick Dubuque: It's hard to answer these questions, because I promised myself I would answer them all with lies, and yet they're asked in such earnest. But in this case... I think Toussaint gives up baseball in May after pulling a hamstring covering first, and then devotes himself to a moderately successful career of abstract painting, with several gallery showings at the height of his powers. As he's seventy and his eyesight is fading, forcing him to put down his brush, he'll realize that unconsciously, he had worked a baseball inside each and every painting.
Bob E. (Chicago): Why are you such a schmuck?
Patrick Dubuque: I don't know, Bob. I didn't the chat to go this personal, but... something had to cause it, right? Was it in middle school, with the bullying, someone stealing my brand-new blue 1990 Seattle Mariners cap in a crowd, that caused me to put up all these walls? Was it a defense mechanism after striking out with Christy Thatcher in high school? You can live an entire life looking at the lives you didn't live, Bob. Maybe it's not too late. Maybe I can be a better person. But not today, Bob. Today I have to work, and then feed the toddler, and then watch Bubble Guppies and write about Vince Coleman and go to bed. Maybe tomorrow is the time to answer this question properly. Not today.
mattyjames1 (Canada): I am really excited for the WBC.
I'm almost more excited for it than the regular season (well... definitely spring training).
Am I crazy?
Also, who's your way too early pick to win? Dominican over Netherlands somehow is my guess
Patrick Dubuque: I don't think you're crazy at all. Real baseball, especially in this of all winters, is the ultimate panacea. But personally, I don't have any feelings about who to favor in the WBC. That's actually one of my favorite things about it, that we have these players that we know next to nothing about, and thus are capable of nearly anything. Still, that Netherlands infield, man.
Kaylee (Ohio): PECOTA has Jarrod Dyson stealing 60 bases. Do you agree?
Patrick Dubuque: I don't, but only because I can't envision 572 plate appearances. I think 450 PAs and 35-40 stolen bases seems reasonable, but I do wonder if he'll get the green light quite as often in Seattle.
Lt. Kaffee (Court Room): If you gave an order that Santiago wasn't to be touched, and your orders are always followed, then why would Santiago be in danger? Why would it be necessary to transfer him off the base?
Patrick Dubuque: Your honor, I'd like to ask for a recess!
Time for me to get back to work. I hope you folks enjoyed the infotainment. Have a good day, all.
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