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Chat: J.P. Breen

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday May 31, 2019 1:00 PM ET chat session with J.P. Breen.


J.P. Breen is a fantasy author at Baseball Prospectus and writes the Stash List every week.

J.P. Breen: Hey y'all. Thanks for the questions. Let's do this thing.

Pete (LA): If Joey Gallo hits .270, is he a first rounder?

J.P. Breen: He's probably a mid- to back-end pick in the first-round, if he hits .270. He'd be a lot like Nolan Arenado, who hit .277 with 38 homers and two stolen bases. Arenado was a consensus first rounder in 2019.

Alex (Austin): Is Kyle Tucker still going to be up by July? I'm competing and need an OF and am contemplating moving Wheeler for him.

J.P. Breen: He may get promoted to the majors, but I'm not convinced that he'll be an everyday guy by July. Houston not only promoted Derek Fisher before him, but Yordan Alvarez is almost certainly going to get everyday at-bats before Tucker. It has been great to see Tucker turn it around in May, though.

Sam (MN): I've noticed Craig has had some pretty iffy food takes lately. What's your most controversial stance on cuisine?

J.P. Breen: Craig doesn't just have iffy food takes, but the point is very well-taken. Although it's not controversial, per se, my biggest culinary faux pas is that I don't really care for cheese. I am from Wisconsin, too. They kicked me out, which is why I'm stuck in Indiana.

Peter E. (Durham, NC): Keibert Ruiz or Daulton Varsho in a Dynasty? Contention window is 2-3 years out.

J.P. Breen: Man, this is a difficult question. Varsho will have sneaky fantasy value because he might swipe double-digit bags, not unlike J.T. Realmuto. I'll probably side with Ruiz if you're not expecting to compete for a couple of years. Ruiz could be an elite all-around catcher. Varsho's skills with the bat are more actualized, which would be attractive to someone who has the dynasty squad to compete over the next couple of years.

Matt (desk): Do you have a favorite site to play on? ESPN is awful.

J.P. Breen: I mostly play in dynasty leagues these days. CBS is excellent for deep dynasty leagues. I've heard good things about FanTrax, too, but I've never played fantasy baseball there myself. FanTrax's advantages come from its insanely deep player pool. That helps avoid double profiles for minor leaguers.

treacy19 (Milwaukee): Just over here patiently waiting for it to be Monte Harrison szn. Does he get a call-up before September?

J.P. Breen: I think it'll be Monte Harrison SZN before September. He's hitting .288/.386/.472 with seven homers and 19 stolen bases. Fantasy owners should be cognizant of the fact that Harrison will likely require a lengthy adjustment period, due to his swing-and-miss issues. But those who remain patient could be rewarded with a 20/20 dude.

PJ Wessels (Des Moines, IA): Spurs by 1 or more than 1 tomorrow?

J.P. Breen: PJ, I was just in Des Moines this past week, doing research. If you would've asked this last week, we could've had words. We could've had WORDS, sir.

Kent Brockman (Channel 6, Springfield): In a dynasty league, what players would you consider trading Ronald Acuna for straight up?

J.P. Breen: Maybe two? Mike Trout and Mookie Betts.

sykklone (IA): Zac Gallen or Anthony Kay?? Both?? Neither?? Is it close??

J.P. Breen: Gallen, for me. He experienced a bit of a velocity uptick last year, and it appears the Marlins have a good pitching development team in place (see: Edward Cabrera, etc.). In the end, I'm more confident that Gallen can stick in the rotation long-term, while Kay might need to move to the bullpen.

Elton (Pacific Northwest): In the fourth year of my longest running dynasty league, where my peak achievement has been third in points three weeks into the season, I'm about to tank again. So I want to ask about my second dynasty league. This week, I traded Blake Snell for Nolan Gorman and Luis Robert. My goal is to compete by 2027. Do you think this trade was good?

J.P. Breen: Elton, my man, we gotta talk about your timeline here. We're gonna have to make it the BP Fantasy Team's mission to get you competing before 2027. Unfortunately, I think your return was a bit light on Snell -- unless, that is, you're ALL IN on Robert. I think you would've been better off building a trade around a higher-end prospect, or grabbing more guys than just Gorman and Robert. Depending on your situation, quantity may matter.

Wimpy (Oregon): Is Touki a drop in dynasty or should I hope he gets dealt?

J.P. Breen: You should definitely keep Touki Toussaint in your dynasty league. His development path has been a bit frustrating, but don't let a couple months of bullpen-shuttling cause you to throw in the towel.

Darius (White Hart Lane): How many goals are Tottenham going to win by tomorrow?

J.P. Breen: I blame David Wiers for all of these Spurs questions. A negative amount, Darius. They're going to win by a negative amount of goals.

Vic (Baltimore): I have a need for pitching and too many bench hitters who shouldn't be on the bench....ie Amed Rosario. I want to trade Ohtani for SP help. Can you please offer 5 targets? David Price? And who?

J.P. Breen: You'll need to add another piece, but Gerrit Cole should be a target. Walker Buehler. I'd be inquiring on Zack Wheeler and Eduardo Rodriguez. I'm also buying Frankie Montas's early-season breakout.

Dusty (Colorado): Thoughts on Wander Javier? Whats his upside?

J.P. Breen: Javier's upside is massive, as is his risk profile. We have very little data to go on, and his injury history is problematic. His frame and skill set, though, could see him push into the top-50 prospects by next season. I personally targeted him in dynasty trades all offseason, as I did with Alex Kirilloff last winter. I'm hoping it pays off similarly.

Homer (Springfield): I recently took over an abandoned Ottoneu team which should be rebuilding. I have high-priced Freeman, Betts, JDM and there's less than zero interest from competitive teams in trading for them. Do you have any interesting US History factoids to distract me from thinking about it? Thanks!

J.P. Breen: Ottoneu leagues are not my forte, but the way you describe your situation sounds brutal. Lemme see what I've got off the top of my head. I study a lot of depressing things, so I don't want to depress you even more. Well, just google "Lyndon B. Johnson orders pants," and either listen to the recording or read the whole transcript.

Jay (WI): How expensive is the trade market going to be for RP? A lot of contenders need some help at the back end of the bullpen.

J.P. Breen: I don't think the trade market for relievers will be too crazy expensive. Who are the high-end relievers that are going to be on the market? Will Smith? He won't fetch a massive price. The Padres could probably get a nice return for Kirby Yates, but will they want to? Ken Giles has, uh, some baggage. In theory, I think the relief market should be massive. We've just seen so many of the elite relievers move to competitive teams already.

pats1124 (Durham, NC): Hi JP. 2 questions: Any tips on under the radar SP in the high minors w/2/3 upside? Already have gallen. Second, what are your thoughts on Zach Plesac?

J.P. Breen: Not to be glib, but I'm not sure there are under-the-radar guys in the upper minors with that kinda upside. The internet community has gotten so much better at this stuff. Maybe a guy like Kyle Muller? Tony Santillan? I still don't think Brusdar Graterol or Ian Anderson get enough love. As far as Zach Plesac is concerned, he's interesting because the velocity ticked up significantly. I'm skeptical of his ability to stick in the rotation because he lacks a true breaking ball, and straight fastball/changeup guys don't have a great recent track record in the big leagues.

Kenny (London): Is Josiah Gray a top 100 prospect now?

J.P. Breen: He has a better chance of being a top-100 prospect in terms of real-life baseball than he does for fantasy baseball. I'd say no for both real-life and fantasy at the moment, but that probably changes if he's still putting up these kinds of numbers in August.

Jon (MN): Do you have any book recommendations, both baseball and non-baseball related?

J.P. Breen: Just finished "La Belle Sauvage" by Philip Pullman, which was great. I'm late to the party, but I had been busy with reading for exams. His Dark Materials is a phenomenal trilogy, and "La Belle Sauvage" was a worthy prequel. I'm looking forward to Ben Lindbergh's "The MVP Machine," and I enjoyed Jeff Passan's "The Arm." For the history buffs out there, I always recommend "Summer for the Gods" by Edward Larson. It's about the Scopes Trial and is a great read.

Teddy (Illinois): Is Alex Verdugo a set and forget OF 3 in a 16 team dynasty or do I need to tread lighter?

J.P. Breen: He's a set-and-forget guy for me, especially because it's difficult to find high-average hitters in today's game. Even considering the fact that we're dealing with small sample sizes, there are fewer than 30 qualified hitters in Major League Baseball who have a .300 batting average. Verdugo also benefits from playing in a high-octane offense. We'll see if the power develops, but he does have a .199 ISO, which is promising.

Nonnie (Calumet City): How much attention will Jasseel De La Cruz be getting at midseason?

J.P. Breen: Probably too much, to be honest. He's still a guy with significant control problems and a questionable changeup. He could be a very good high-leverage reliever. The cynic in me says Atlanta is pushing De La Cruz up the minor-league ladder to showcase him for a midseason trade.

Alex (The Valley): I'm looking to contend on 2020. What potential closers should I grab now in advance? I don't see many options.

J.P. Breen: Actually, Jasseel De La Cruz isn't a bad shout here. Andres Munoz (SDP) has been lighting up radar guns and racking up huge strikeout numbers. Nick Sandlin (CLE) and Ryley Gilliam (NYM) are also interesting as straight relief-types.

Johnny (Racita): Is Dylan Carlson a top 50 guy?

J.P. Breen: Carlson had tons of helium coming into the 2019 season, and it appears justified. He's hitting .292/.364/.531 with eight homers and nine stolen bases. Given his batting-average troubles earlier in his career, I'd like to see him sustain these numbers for another couple of months before I vault him that high. He's in the back end of my top-100 though.

cracker73 (Florida): What is the upside of Dylan Carlson? What is his best possible outcome?

J.P. Breen: He'll need to show more power before dynasty owners should get too excited, but I could see a Gregory Polanco, circa 2018, season as a reasonable upside shout. Polanco hit .254/.340/.499 with 23 homers and 12 stolen bases last season. If Carlson can hit .275 or higher, we're talking Tommy Pham type production. Pham was a top-75 player overall in 2018, so the best-possible outcome is very good.

Jim (Chicago): Since Liverpool and the Red Sox have a common owner, should the Ricketts buy a stake in the Spurs so we can get an October rematch?

J.P. Breen: I'll have to get back to you on this after Saturday's match. If things go poorly, I couldn't stomach the narrative. If things go well, yes, and they should play a montage of the 2018/19 Champions League campaign before first pitch.

Fernando (New Castle): Heliot Ramos is crushing it. Breakout or Cal League?

J.P. Breen: The framing of the question highlights the issues we have in talking about Ramos. I'm more interested in his improved plate discipline than I am his .351 ISO, but he's a giant shrug emoji for the moment. I'll tell you this: I'd be sniffing around Ramos in dynasty leagues to see if his price tag remains as low as it was six months ago.

Slappy (NC): In a salary cap, dynasty league and only have roster spots for 2 catchers. Zunino coming off the IL soon, and i have Tucker Barnhart & Bryan McCann on one team, and Barnhart & Jason Castro on another. Who would you drop on these 2 teams? thanks

J.P. Breen: I'd probably drop Barnhart in the first league, just because having two drags on the batting average would be tough. I'd drop Castro in the second league because he's not going to get enough playing time to be valauble. Barnhart's BABIP should improve to the point that he's hovering around a .230-.250 batting average going forward.

Ron (Grapeburry): What is making Kyle Freeland struggle so badly, and what's the biggest difference between this season and last? I know both seasons are outliers on his career numbers, but man, this is tough to watch.

J.P. Breen: I haven't looked into Freeland deeply enough to answer *what* has made him struggle, but the biggest difference seems to be the fact that opposing hitters are teeing off on his fastball. They're hitting .300 with a .633 slugging percentage against his four-seamer, as opposed to just .238 with a .356 slugging percentage a year ago. My guess is that he's dealing with some bad luck, but it probably has to do with sequencing and location, too.

Sheldon (MN): What are you doing with Jose Ramirez in a keep forever roto dynasty league with OPS, QS and SV+HDs? If you're looking to trade him, who are some players to target?

J.P. Breen: No question I'd be holding him. He's dealing with BABIP issues, but as long as he continues to steal bases, he's not doing too much damage to your squad. Plus, you wouldn't want to trade Ramirez unless you were getting a king's ransom back in return (because what if he rebounds in a month?)... and no one is paying that right now. Grin and bear it for the moment.

Alex (Austin): Would you drop Luis Garcia (WAS) for any of: Grayson Rodriguez, Abraham Toro, Logan Allen, Brady Singer, Jackson Kower, or Jordan Groshans?

J.P. Breen: It's important to remember that Garcia is a 19-year-old in Double-A. He should be allowed to struggle for a bit. I wouldn't drop him for any of those players that you mentioned. Groshans would be the one to watch, though.

Alex (Austin): Is Seth Beer closer to AJ Reed, or Pete Alonso?

J.P. Breen: He's probably closer to Dan Vogelbach, to be honest. On one hand, that's good. Vogelbach has hit 15 homers this year. On the other hand, Vogelbach didn't get regular big-league at-bats until he was 26 because he has significant defensive limitations. Beer has similar limitations and will need the stars to align (or for the NL to move to the DH) to be an everyday guy in the big leagues.

Nathaniel (WIsconsin): Brewers Prospect Drew Rasmussen moved from A ball after two innings, to A+ after 11 innings was moved to AA. Is this just re-evaluation? Or a quick riser? Or did they just ease him into competition this season?

J.P. Breen: Brewers question! The org eased Rasmussen into competition because he's still recovering from two Tommy John surgeries. Not only are they worried about workload, but he'd barely faced in-game hitters over the last few years. His stuff has been electric, though. The club seems to be developing him as a starter, but he seems to be a great fit for an impact multi-inning relief role.

sykklone (IA): Where does Heliot Ramos rank opening day next year?

J.P. Breen: If he hits 20-25 homers with a batting average that hovers around .300, he'll probably be a top-50 dynasty prospect -- especially if he puts up a double-digit walk rate. Dynasty owners love guys like Ramos if they can take a walk.

cracker73 (Florida): Do you think that Deivi Garcia will ultimately be a starter or a reliever? There seems to be a prejudice these days against starters who are small of stature. I'm an old fan who remembers lots of good "small" starters like Whitey Ford and Bobby Shantz. I think that would be a good subject for an article.

J.P. Breen: Starter for me. I'm not sure there's as much of a prejudice against shorter starters these days as there was a decade ago, mostly because starters aren't expected to work as deep into games as they once were. Guys like Marcus Stroman and Sonny Gray have helped dispel those stereotypes, too.

Abe (Elgin): What are the chances a guy like Plesac develops a breaking ball? Is it harder to develop spin later in a career than it is a changeup?

J.P. Breen: I wouldn't be able to put a percentage on it, but a guy like Kevin Gausman has tried for years to develop a spinner. Different guys take to pitches more easily than others. It could just be a matter of meeting the right pitching coach at the right time.

Nathaniel (WIsconsin): Thanks JP. I was kinda hoping you had the road map, cause at the rate he was moving I though he might be with the Brewers by July. I mean 18 IP in AA, what a slacker.

J.P. Breen: I don't think Rasmussen makes it to the big leagues this year, just because he'll be on a crazy-strict innings limit. If the Brewers' bullpen continues to be problematic and they don't grab an upgrade or two in July, there's an outside shot that he gets a midseason promotion. I just think they're most worried about his long-term development and keeping him healthy.

Hannidy (Florida): Is Manny Machado compromised in San Diego? .270 .330. 460 type now?

J.P. Breen: I don't think so. It's notable that Machado has an .853 OPS on the road and only a .713 OPS at Petco, but I think that's fluky. Petco had a 109 home-run factor for right-handed hitters a year ago. It remains one of the most home-run friendly place for righties this season, too.

J.P. Breen: Thanks y'all for the great chat. I'm gonna call it here. We pushed through for a couple of hours, and I appreciate all of the questions (even the Spurs-related ones. See y'all when we do this again soon!

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