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Chat: Ginny Searle

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday June 17, 2019 1:00 PM ET chat session with Ginny Searle.

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Ginny Searle is an author at Baseball Prospectus.

Ginny Searle: Hey, y'all! I've got some pringles (brain food), so let's talk baseball (or anything! literature, beer, cooking, you name it)

Buddy (Peoria, IL): Assuming Clevinger is healthy and looks like he did back in April, do you think the Indians will close the gap on the Twins by the trade deadline? If so, do you see them adding an OF?

Ginny Searle: By the trade deadline is... optimistic. They're ten games back! I think the Twins' 92.5% div odds on our playoff odds page seem roughly right. Even for Cleveland to overtake the Twins by the end of the season, it would probably take substantial regression beyond what our models have built in, and I have to imagine they'll be buyers as well. I do think Cleveland should add an outfielder, though their unwillingness to spend money means they might not get who fans would like. Maybe they'll be in on Renfroe!

Tim (Miami, FL): Who do you think the best pitchers available at the trade deadline will be? Most likely to be moved?

Ginny Searle: Best could be a lot of guys, but the Nats have to be taking a long look at exploring a Scherzer trade. The backloading on the contract makes it a strange one to assess in terms of trade value, but it's not often the best pitcher in baseball for the last five years becomes available, and the Nats' GM Rizzo even talking about the option means it's worth watching. One more thing is that Scherzer's 10-5 rights kick in next season, so the Nats can only trade him unilaterally through July. I don't think it's *likely* per se, but it's certainly not something we were thinking about two months ago. Bumgarner will be moved, I imagine.

Percy (DC): At what point do the Nats concede the season? Where would Rendon possibly get shipped and can his return imitate the haul Baltimore got for Machado?

Ginny Searle: Let's keep with the Nats theme for the moment. Concede is an interesting way of putting it, because I think that's just about right: 33-38 with playoff odds under 20% isn't enough to throw in the table, but if things look the same a month from now (except with further diminished playoff chances) I think they'll see the writing on the wall. Rendon would seem pretty likely to be moved and the Machado trade is an apt comparison although with the caveat that Machado's positional flexibility allowed a lot more teams to pursue him. Obviously everyone wants Rendon's bat, but with third base so stacked many teams would need to shuffle around their positioning. Now that I think about it, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Dodgers in on Rendon as well.

Somber (On The South Side): Ginny, can you fix the White Sox, please?

Ginny Searle: They're only two under .500! That's progress! In seriousness, though, I think they've made marked strides this year with the emergences of Giolito and Anderson as star-level players. I think one of the more difficult aspects of being a diehard fan of a rebuilding team is that you know intimately just how much distance separates your team from the ones at the top of the league. But at the very least this team does not appear actively terrible to watch, and there are glimmers of hope!

Drew (Rochester Ny): What are your thoughts on how Yordan Alvarez does with Houston for the rest of the season? Does he have ROY ability? Thanks for your thoughts...

Ginny Searle: Well, I'll hazard a guess he won't match his .952 OPS moving forward. A 126 DRC+ like he has now seems eminently possible, though, and that he has mashed so immediately suggests he was ready a while before the call-up. An .850-.900 OPS doesn't seem unreasonable, and I think he definitely has time for a line like that to put him in RoY contention. And thanks for your question!

CJ (BP): Who are the managers in the modern era who come closest to Billy Martin in terms of personality or overall approach? Is there even anyone?

Ginny Searle: What a great question! For anyone who hasn't seen it, I talk about Martin, the Twins' new manager in 1969, here: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/49530/the-summer-of-69-baseball-50-years-ago-may-6-1969/ (sorry for the self-promo). The short answer is maybe there's no one like Martin, but it depends what about his approach you mean - there's the deep loyalty, the excitable personality, and then the trust he put in his players. I think managers in the 60s were able to do a lot they couldn't now. Durocher, for instance, was a character (putting it lightly). Frankly our fascination with blow-out manager ejections, which we can't even hear, makes me think there's a longing for more character out of managers.

Dusty (Colorado): Thoughts on Wander Javier? What's his upside?

Ginny Searle: he's got a higher ceiling than a fifteenth-century basilica, but you already knew that, didn't you Dusty? :P

Wander Javier (SF): Thoughts on Dusty (Colorado)? What’s his upside?

Ginny Searle: consistent and repeatable delivery on the Wander Javier questions, though he may need to add a second question to the repertoire down the line if fascination with Javier's raw upside ceases to cut it!

Finn (Dallas, TX): How many wins do the Rangers need to bank before they seriously consider trading for reinforcements to combat the inevitable regression?

Ginny Searle: This is an interesting question and I wonder if the Rangers have any more certainty on it than we do. I think one thing we can say for sure is that they won't be an early mover regardless of their deadline position. The problem for the Rangers (and the A's and Angels, for that matter) is that most people assumed before the season there were four solid AL playoff locks - Boston, NY, Houston, and Cleveland. None of that looks wrong per se, but now that it seems unlikely Cleveland comes back in the division and the Twins are set for some sort of playoff berth barring a massive collapse... who are you knocking off? I think that all three of Texas, LAA, and Oakland probably have assessed their true talent as well below those other teams, and thus are unlikely to buy. Let's say if the Rangers win 20 of their next 30, they buy

Stef (Queens, NY): Do you think Paul Goldschmidt turns it around? How do you think that trade looks by the end of the year? 3 years?

Ginny Searle: The trade has definitely not gone to plan thus far, but I do think Goldschmidt turns it around. It's hard to change teams! He's probably no longer the guy who will put up 7 and 8-win seasons, but I think the birds knew that when they traded for and extended him. The bigger concern is how both Weaver (pre-injury) and Kelly have blossomed. Both of them have half a win or more on Goldy! Still, it's worth waiting out the season before assessing that trade (though the Cards' GM talking about their directionless trades might indicate he's already feeling burned)

Buddy (Peoria, IL): Playing D&D online and my character just found a "missile attracter" shield. Is that good?

Ginny Searle: roll a d6, if you get 5 or above it's good!

Old Timer (The Good Ol' Days): If you were God Empress of Major League Baseball, what would you do about the increasing trend toward Three True Outcomes baseball, if anything?

Ginny Searle: God Empress, I do like the sound of that... I think one of the frustrations I have with the TTO conversation is the implied idea there's a *best* TTO rate or that simply cutting down that rate will automatically make baseball better. People like home runs and strikeouts! I think what they don't like is when things feel manufactured, as they have with homers this year. That's an obvious intervention on the part of the league (regardless of intentionality). I think the league's lack of alarm about home run trends this year implies they think scoring would dip too low to sustain interest, should the ball not be juiced. I think a much simpler solution would be to make the strike zone smaller, but what do I know?

Roy (MN): I loved your article a couple weeks ago about Rod Carew stealing home so many times in 1969. Do you think there was something truly special about Carew that enabled him to do that, or do you think it's mostly circumstances (and defenses) changing that has kept other players from multiple steals of home in a season?

Ginny Searle: Thanks for the kind words! none of my contributions to the Summer of '69 series would be as good without Rob Mains' help. It's a good question, and I think the answer is a little of both! I doubt Carew was unusually fast compared to the players of today (it's overwhelmingly likely significantly faster players are now in the league) which tells me that Carew was the beneficiary of good strategy. Clearly, he had a great eye for such plays, but Carew's mass of attempts in '69 was also aided by a green light from Billy Martin. Was all that Carew had that other fast players didn't a green light and the derring-do to go for it? Maybe, but it's hard not to see it as a sort of superpower...

The Fonz (Milwaukee): Do you see the Brewers adding a SP? Also...Ayyyyyyy!

Ginny Searle: They definitely should! And I think they probably will, because it's not clear to me exactly how long a contention window the team has. MadBum would be a great one for them given his experience against the Dodgers. And, ayyyy!

Matt (Boston): Have you noticed the years by “ancient” players? Kendrick looks like one of the most valuable trade pieces given his 149 wRC+, his positional flexibility, and $3M salary. Choo actually looks like he is worth $20M. Hunter Pence’s 143 wRC+ is on a MINOR LEAGUE DEAL. Statcast backs all three up too!

Ginny Searle: Love that the formatting got screwed up on "ancient," making it look as antiquated as the mid-30s guys. I've not really thought about the three as a group, given that they've all had such different roads up to this point in the last few years. I think one of the problems, as we learned with Matt Kemp last year, is that these players could certainly drop off at any point (though I ardently want them to keep it up, when the league becomes young is being old a way of fighting the power?). Still, at least one of those guys will be moved.

Victor (Sante Fe, NM): What is your favorite thing about baseball that you don't currently cover/write about?

Ginny Searle: What a kind question! One of the strange thing about writing from an analytical bent (when I'm in that mode) these days is that it used to be about going against the conventional wisdom. Now, it is the conventional wisdom. What blind spots is that engendering, and how can we interrogate those without simply creating more blind spots or taking an anti-analytical approach!

I also desperately want to write about women in baseball, and I'm working on getting some writing in that mode out there.

Dominic (Harrisburg, PA): Is it possible that Jerry Dipoto just might not be that good at this? Trading a guy for Nick Rumbelow that he then re-acquired for Edwin Encarnacion doesn't seem...great.

Ginny Searle: this is a fair question, especially because the Dipoto tenure in Anaheim didn't exactly set the Angels up to succeed for the future. That said, E.E. likely didn't have a ton of trade value - an NL team probably wasn't in the cards without the DH, and a lot of teams need more flexibility, not less. Add in age and the sizable-ish money owed, and I think E.E. was never likely to net a large return. I see this as more of a money dump than anything else. Still, at some point you figure Dipoto will have to answer for the fact that none of his trades have helped him compile good, playoff-capable rosters.

Matt (Boston ): Side Note: Howie Kendrick would fit awfully well in Boston Or Cleveland. Both have gotten nothing out of 2B and Kendrick is on a expiring $3M deal both team can’t pretend they can’t afford. Playoff odds have either BOS or CLE winning a wild card too.

Ginny Searle: These are good destinations! The Cubs would probably be another one, depending on if Zobrist might be coming back.

laurenjj (DC): The stats for RvL batter splits seem to have disappeared. They were there a few days ago and now....not....Is there an problem with those one specifically?

Ginny Searle: I'll pass this on to our technical team and see what's going on! I'm guessing an update might have knocked them offline and no one noticed over the weekend, but we'll make sure to fix them soon! thanks for pointing this out.

Carl (Richmond, VA): Given the gap between the Astros and everyone else in the AL West so far this year, and the baseline they're working from talent-wise, when do you see the potential for a challenger in the division, a la the Twins taking over Cleveland's assumed top spot in the Central? Same goes for the Dodgers and the NL West.

Ginny Searle: The Astros and Dodgers definitely seem to be better set up for the future than almost anyone in baseball, despite the incredible baseline they've been working from for three seasons now. So I know what you mean. That said, one only need to look at Cleveland to remember things can change dramatically over the course of a season (though Houston seems more inclined to plug holes with cash). I can't imagine that MIke trout, a healthy Shohei Ohtani and maybe Jo Adell won't be able to get over the .500 gap next season, and the A's seem congenitally inclined to turn on a dime. The Padres, meanwhile, loom in the NL West. It's hard to not worry that this is just how things are in MLB now, with one or two serious division races all season, but I have to hope that's not the way of the future for the league.

Matt (Boston ): ‪Yasmany Tomas has 20 HR and is hitting .302/.342/.601 while making $15.5M in AAA‬ in 66 games. Any chance he ever gets another shot?

Ginny Searle: insert "that's not a name I've heard in a long time" meme here.

It doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility, but the problem is since AAA has the juiced balls, I think it's taking mind-blowing performances (like Yordan Alvarez) for players in those leagues to grab a team's attention, and I think all the downsides to Tomas (defense first and foremost) will keep him off the Snakes' radar unless they have some more injuries or he really forces the issue.

Patrick (MPLS): Hi Ginny, thanks for the chat. How do you think the single trade deadline will impact the number of teams either buying or selling? Will we see more holding if teams aren't sure they can make a run, but are still too close to throw in the towel?

Ginny Searle: You're welcome, Patrick, thanks for reading! I think this is one of the most interesting storylines of the season, albeit one that we won't really be able to assess until after the deadline, and you identify one way it could go. Another is that *more* teams go for it for the same reason you state. I think the most likely outcome is a mix, with some surprise buyers/sellers as well as some who stand pat that surprise us all.

Hank (St. Louis): Do you think we'll see parity return to the majors prior to the next CBA or will the gulf between the top and bottom teams continue to widen?

Ginny Searle: This is a big question, and I think parity is something both the PA and the owners should have a vested interest in (though the lack of action on that front suggests that perhaps we don't see that in action as much as I'd expect). One issue is that it's hard to see how working on parity can *directly* create more money for both sides, even if it makes absolute sense that it does in the long run. When both sides are focused on "winning" the financial aspect of CBA negotiations, I wonder if issues that the sides can work on together for the good of all are left in the dust...

Buddy (Peoria, IL): Maybe it's the Cub cynic in me, but I have this nagging feeling that Kimbrel might be Mel Rojas 2.0.

Ginny Searle: Kimbrel struggled last October, certainly, and were I betting woman I'd say that his best seasons are likely in the rearview. that said, Kimbrel has been incredibly, astonishingly good for the vast majority of his career, and despite wildness I think he retains stuff aplenty. I know Cubs anxiety is not something you can control, but your team has the best reliever of the decade! While he's not been that recently, I have full faith he will be a solidly above-average piece of the Chicago bullpen

justarobert (Santa Clara): I hope this doesn't come off as nitpicking unedited chat, but I love the concept of throwing in the table. Watch out for flying furniture when conceding a fight!

Ginny Searle: Ha! I don't even know what I was going for there, but I agree, 10/10 expression, will never throw in the table on it.

Gary (Chicago, IL): Cleveland has gotten some deserved flack but also suffered some major injuries and is sitting at 37-33. They're probably too far behind the Twins but is it possible they're not as bad off as we thought early on? And does that make their offseason look worse, in retrospect?

Ginny Searle: I'm not sure how many thought Cleveland was actively *bad* early on (though their lineup definitely was, their pitching kept them afloat). Rather, Cleveland's the prototypical example of how April and May wins matter. Cleveland probably finishes right around 90 wins, which is probably only a little below what many predicted. The problem is that is only a solid division win if one's division is bad. the AL Central is no longer that even with the Royals and Tigers dragging them down. Minnesota could have done *more*, but they did enough and Cleveland didn't. I think a lot about the following line, from Wolf Hall. "He thinks, I remembered you, Thomas More, but you didn't remember me. You never even saw me coming. Cleveland might not have remembered the Twins, but they should have seen them coming. So yes, I do think it makes their offseason look worse in retrospect.

Kkelly (Il): Is Jorge Polanco’s breakout for real? I can’t trade him because no one is buying in, but have had many offers for Tatis Jr and thinking about pulling the trigger. Thanks

Ginny Searle: It's definitely been a heck of a turnaround since the 2019 annual roundly panned him as a hitter, baserunner, and fielder. A 143 DRC+ is really something, suggesting he's more than earned his .952 OPS, with the most important step having been finding his "over the fence" power. Given that he made a concrete step we thought he couldn't, I think Polanco is at least partly for real. Maybe not 143 DRC+ real, but 125 seems viable.

Kkelly (Il): Is Jorge Polanco’s breakout for real? I can’t trade him because no one is buying in, but have had many offers for Tatis Jr and thinking about pulling the trigger. Thanks

Ginny Searle: It's definitely been a heck of a turnaround since the 2019 annual roundly panned him as a hitter, baserunner, and fielder. A 143 DRC+ is really something, suggesting he's more than earned his .952 OPS, with the most important step having been finding his "over the fence" power. Given that he made a concrete step we thought he couldn't, I think Polanco is at least partly for real. Maybe not 143 DRC+ real, but 125 seems viable.

Buddy (Peoria, IL): I think part of Carew's baserunning strategy was just to run like crazy, consequences be damned. He was only a 65 percent career base stealer, so he would have been better served by running less often.

Ginny Searle: He definitely believed in himself! But he was, despite his other baserunning flaws, an impeccable artist of stealing home! he was either 7/7 or 7/8 on home attempts in 1969, so I have to imagine there was something Carew figured out that others didn't that year.

Loria (milwaukee): Everyone in town wants the Crew to go after an arm. While I agree, and that would be great, what do the Brewers really have to offer without giving up Hiura? Can we really even be aggressive?

Ginny Searle: I doubt they would move Hiura for a rental, and the going prices in the few (Dipoto) trades we've seen suggests maybe the earlier deadline won't drive up returns. I think the Crew will be able to add someone (maybe not an ace, but still) without giving up too much of substance in return, especially if they take on some cash.

Jon Becker (Pennsylvania ): ginny why haven't you told everyone in this chat to follow me on twitter

Ginny Searle: "follow me on twitter"

Ginny Searle: and with 30 questions answered and the queue emptied, I bid you adieu! thanks for the great questions, all. I hope you enjoyed the chat as much as I did! Remember to be kind to one other!


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