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Chat: Aaron Gleeman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday May 13, 2019 4:00 PM ET chat session with Aaron Gleeman.


Aaron Gleeman is the Editor in Chief of Baseball Prospectus and has never actually seen a Twins game.

Aaron Gleeman: I'm here and I'm in need of a break from thinking about Game of Thrones, so let's chat it up!

dcfreema (Madison, WI): If you had the power to make it happen, what would you do in the area of service time manipulation? The spectrum I've seen discussed ranges from status quo all the way to eliminating the draft entirely and going with a pure free agency model. Do you have a grand solution you've been kicking about?

Aaron Gleeman: While prefacing anything by saying it's a very complicated issue and one that requires a creative solution, I think building something around age rather than around service time would be a step in the right direction. If, say, the Blue Jays controlled Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for X calendar years instead of X years of MLB service time, there would be no incentive to leave him in the minors for even one day past the point they thought he was ready to contribute positively. And that's how it should be. That's an entry-level solution to a problem that requires more than that, of course.

nope (nope): ESPN have Marwin Gonzalez in there latest power rankings as a free agent bust. Was wondering your thoughts.

Aaron Gleeman: Marwin Gonzalez has struggled overall, but he's hit well of late and has played well defensively in place of Miguel Sano. They signed him with the idea that he'd play 3-4 times per week in a super-utility role, and then that changed when Sano went on the injured list right away. Way too early to call anyone a bust and, really, if the alternative was the Twins not spending that money, Gonzalez beats the hell out of that either way.

Derek (MN): What would your walk up song be?

Aaron Gleeman: I was going to say something by Otis Redding or Al Green, but realistically I'd probably be very tempted to turn my walk-up music into a revolving door of dumb jokes that would annoy everyone.

Paul Assenmacher (Cleveland): Are the Indians cooked?

Aaron Gleeman: Definitely not cooked, but they're certainly very vulnerable. They spent most of the offseason trying to trim payroll, as opposed to actually making the team better. The assumption was that they could get away with it, in part because their star power was so valuable and in part because the rest of the division was so weak. Well, now the Twins have the best record in baseball and the Indians are down Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger. I think the AL Central is pretty close to a coin flip right now, but that assumes Jose Ramirez starts hitting soon and at least one of Kluber/Clevinger resumes being an front-line starter before the All-Star break.

JGallop (Minnesota): Will there be a BP event at Target Field this summer?

Aaron Gleeman: Maybe!

We just announced BP ballpark events at Citi Field in New York and Miller Park in Milwaukee. More to come, for sure.



Free agency (Offseason): Do you think Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are going to sit out the season?

Aaron Gleeman: I'd bet on them signing soon after the draft, at which point they'll no longer have draft pick compensation attached. The idea that potentially losing a third-round pick is keeping teams from signing All-Star players is absurd, of course, but here we are. Sitting out the entire season, while perhaps emotionally sensible, wouldn't really put them in better position next offseason. They'd be a year older and coming off a non-season. If they'd had awful 2018 campaigns, or were coming off major injuries, maybe it would make sense, but I'm not sure there's any reason to think their market would higher after sitting out a year.

Buff (Colorado): With Travis Shaw playing so badly over a quarter of the season now, why is Keston Hiura not up? Is it Hiura’s defense? Faith/hope that Shaw will rebound? What gives here?

Aaron Gleeman: I just checked Hiura's stats and ... well, holy shit. He's at .333/.406/.706 with 11 homers and 12 doubles in 36 games at Triple-A as a 22-year-old. I realize the juiced MLB ball has now inflated Triple-A power numbers to an extreme degree too, but that's an example of an elite prospect banging down the door to the majors.

Travis Shaw is struggling, like you mentioned. So is Jesus Aguilar at first base. My guess is that the Brewers will give them another month or so to get right, considering how valuable they've both been in the past, but I do think Hiura is going to get a chance soon-ish, perhaps in a part-time role initially. Milwaukee's defensive versatility could give them some good mix-and-match opportunities with him in the fold and, while I think calling up a top prospect for a non-everyday role is generally a bad idea, a team in the thick of the playoff race doing so makes more sense.

nope (nope): You liking this last season of game of thrones?

Aaron Gleeman: I ... don't love it. It's possible my expectations were simply too high, because of how much I loved the first 6-7 seasons, but I think this season has lost some of the things that made the show so great in favor of rapid plot development and technically impressive spectacle. It's still great, but it's not as great.

I promise not to turn this into a Game of Thrones chat. I co-host a Game of Thrones podcast, if for some reason you feel like hearing my expanded thoughts.


Matt (WI): Do you have a favorite place to sit at Target Field?

Aaron Gleeman: In recent years, I've mostly bought the cheapest possible tickets and then spent most of the game walking around. If you're there with a group of people, Minnie and Paul's in center field is my go-to spot. Nice vantage point, usually not crazy crowded, and you can get whiskey and pizza within five feet.

dcfreema (Madison, WI): As a Twins fan, it's been delightful to watch Willians Austudillo go from a minor league signing no fan cared about to "La Tortuga." Are there other players around the league that have similarly extreme profiles in skills besides Tortuga's crazy contact skills?

Aaron Gleeman: Not really, which is what makes Willians Astudillo such an interesting player/story/person. His contact skills aren't just extreme, they're the *most* extreme. I wrote about him last month, focusing on those extreme contact skills and the notion of him having to constantly "prove" to people that he's for real.


Jon (Rochester): Can you peel back the curtain a little bit and talk about your day-to-day as editor-in-chief at BP? Or, just kind of an overview of what an EIC does? I've always been curious.

Aaron Gleeman: My primary job is to keep Craig Goldstein from getting banned from Twitter. Beyond that, I coordinate/edit the feature articles on the site, work with our behind-the-scenes crew to keep things running smoothly, co-edit the BP Annual, write articles of my own, and occasionally just boss people around for fun.

Derek (Minnesota): What are the Twins' biggest needs?

Aaron Gleeman: Fifth starter and late-inning reliever, same as their biggest needs were on November 1, January 1, and April 1. The biggest question now might be whether the Twins will actually be aggressive in the trade market or whether their offseason explanation for a $10 million drop in payroll being due to uncertainty about their "window for winning" being open was just an excuse. That window is wide open now.

Awards Season (Everywhere): Who would your MVP picks be right now?

Aaron Gleeman: I'd go with Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger, with a hearty honorable mention to Christian Yelich.

The old professor (Heavens dugout): Is the “ new” Buxton for real?.. care to guess some numbers on a peak season for him?

Aaron Gleeman: I think Byron Buxton's improvements are for real, in the sense that he's healthy, he's made some mechanical swing changes, and his batted-ball profile has changed. But also I've thought Buxton's improvements were for real before, often with various reasons, so I wouldn't blame anyone for not viewing me as the most trustworthy source of Buxton's for-realness.

Mike (Saint Paul): Can you provide some explanation behind the decision to bat Marwin Gonzalez cleanup the other day? I know he's been hitting better the past 7-10 days, and a doubleheader was involved, but it still seems like there were several better candidates for that slot in the order.

Aaron Gleeman: Marwin Gonzalez hit cleanup yesterday against a left-handed pitcher. The hitters behind him in the Twins' lineup were C.J. Cron, Max Kepler, Ehire Adrianza, Jake Cave, and Byron Buxton. Kepler and Cave are lefties. Adrianza is a poor hitter. Buxton has hit ninth all year and has also often been a poor hitter. I suppose you could have flipped Gonzalez and Cron, but there's no real impact there.

stu (Los Angeles): Have you thought about how GATG's schedule would change if the Twins were in the postseason? Would you release an episode after each game?

Aaron Gleeman: I did a live postgame radio show on KFAN after the Wild Card game two years ago, so my guess is that we'd do something like that at the very least. If the Twins keep winning, there are all sorts of interesting things a Twins-centric show can do, which is a nice change of pace after a decade of talking about bad teams. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/gleeman-geek-unauthorized-minnesota-twins-podcast/id457946327

Justin (MN): Which teams have the best and most entertaining television broadcasts?

Aaron Gleeman: I find myself liking most of the West Coast teams' broadcasts, although it's possible my overall love of watching late-night West Coast games makes me biased. Off the top of my head, some broadcast crews I seek out consistently are the Cubs, Mariners, Padres, Mets, Giants, White Sox, and Yankees.

Also: I think Justin Morneau's addition to the Twins' broadcasts has been fantastic. He's a massive upgrade.

dcfreema (Madison): Bar food power rankings?

Aaron Gleeman: Tater tots are the most underrated bar food. Mini corn dogs are a personal favorite, although harder to find. Nachos have the biggest gap between good and bad, often based on whether they include queso/cheese sauce rather than crusty, dried up cheese.

The Cat (it my house now): Are you more likely to tune in to the Twins' TV broadcasts this year or you still fully hitting that mute button? If the former, what have you thought of Morneau? Kaat? Any others you'd like to see on?

Aaron Gleeman: Following up on my earlier comment: Justin Morneau has been great. LaTroy Hawkins was also good last year. Roy Smalley is always solid. Glen Perkins and Michael Cuddyer have a chance to be really good. Generally speaking, I'm in favor of younger players getting an opportunity. Not only can they speak about the modern game, and tell stories about competing against players still active, their overall enthusiasm level is higher and, in the Twins' case, they seem to put far more prep work into doing the job.

Twins Fan (DC): Should Twins fans be concerned with Rocco Baldelli's bullpen management so far this season? There have been at least four games this season where he brought in questionable relievers and arguably kept them in too long. Blue Jays (Mejia), Mets (Vasquez), Tigers twice (Hildenberger) come to mind. In almost all of those cases higher leverage guys were rested and available (Parker/Rogers). In their latest series with the Tigers, a struggling Hildenberger was used twice in close games while Rogers, who hadn't pitched since Tuesday, was never used. As a Twins fan, I am worried that Rocco is leaving too many wins on the table which will come back to bite them later this year.

Aaron Gleeman: I think the majority of any bullpen problems for the Twins stem from not having a good enough bullpen, which isn't on Rocco Baldelli. He's made some adjustments already, using low-leverage relievers for multiple innings at a time, which is smart and keeps the high-leverage guys fresher. Still some room to grow, but he's shown improvement after a month on the job. But there's only so much that can be managed with a bullpen that includes only 2-3 reliable late-inning arms.

Alex (Austin): When do you expect Alex Kiriloff to make it to the show? realistically could he be up for a playoff push?

Aaron Gleeman: There's no obvious place for him in the Twins' lineup currently, so my guess is a late-season cup of coffee this year followed by a for-good arrival around June next year.

dcfreema (Madison): Do you have any read on if the recent free agency freeze will cause real talks among players of striking when the CBA ends?

Aaron Gleeman: I absolutely think that, unless something substantial changes, the players will strike. And they'd be justified in doing so. Hopefully both sides can find a way to enact meaningful changes before then, but I'm skeptical that the MLB side is motivated to do it.

your mom (just kidding): i've been thinking a lot lately about pitchers' fielding and how it could/should be impacted by how often teams are shifting. it feels like pitchers should be coached to stay away from balls up the middle. how do you think teams are adjusting to that, and are pitchers keeping in mind on every pitch whether their team is shifting behind them and how severely?

Aaron Gleeman: I feel like, generally speaking, coaches have been trying to get pitchers to stop reaching for balls up the middle ... forever. I suppose you're correct that there's a defender directly behind the pitcher now more than ever before, but I'm not sure "don't reach for a ball hit near you" is something that can really be fully coached out of someone.

nope (nope): How many wins would the best line up in baseball typically win? By season I mean. With the best pitchers that year too obviously.

Aaron Gleeman: Hmm. I'm guessing 120-plus wins. There's an upper limit just in terms of "anything can happen on a random day" in baseball. Although maybe more if that also means removing those same best players from their current teams? Like, if this super team going to play a Mike Trout-less Angels and a Christian Yelich-less Brewers?

Aaron Gleeman: Thanks for hanging out and for asking good questions. We'll do it again soon. As always, feel free to ask me questions on Twitter until then. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman

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