Craig Goldstein is the editor-in-chief of Baseball Prospectus
Craig Goldstein: Hey the Mets just hired a new manager. I'm sure that'll go fine.
The Colonel (Pasadena, CA): Where does Francisco Mejia stand these days? Still a good hitting C or more just league average? Any signs of a breakout?
Craig Goldstein: There's still a bunch of upside there. Arbitrary endpoints and all, but .305/.355/.511 in the second half would be a sign to me.
KerryFam4 (Lecanto, FL): Does Oscar Mercado have additional upside or is 2019 (average offense with no carrying tool) the best we're likely to see? Same basic question for Harold Ramirez (whose offense was below average)?
Craig Goldstein: I wouldn't expect much more upside from Mercado (and frankly I didn't expect the power he showcased in 2019, although that might be the rocket ball in action). Fringy offense with nice defense seems right for Mercado to me. I'm a _little_ bit more optimistic on Ramirez just because I think there's a chance he could have a fluky batting average season that drives the profile even more but...I'd guess below-average offensively is right for Ramirez too, broadly speaking.
Vic (Baltimore): Odor or Wong? Which one would you keep for 2020 and beyond? 5 x 5.
Craig Goldstein: Man, I think I'd go Wong? I'm just not confident that Odor recovers at this point. Neither is an inspiring option.
sportsguy21792 (Madison): Are players all over baseball shitting a brick if the sign stealing witch hunt continues to dig into who was cheating and how sophisticated it became? It must be serious when you hear words like "lifetime ban".
Craig Goldstein: Well, okay I don't think we can call it a "witch hunt" when there was very obviously sign stealing happening. I don't know if players are concerned because none of the players were punished by the league. I'd guess they might have some embarrassment in terms of getting named or what have you, but embarrassment doesn't seem to go very far these days.
jrclark20 (Illinois): Hi Craig, just had a question about the Marlins Top 10 Under 25 section. Would Pablo Lopez and Elieser Hernandez fall just outside the top 10? Both seem like potential mid-rotation arms, especially Lopez. I really like his K/BB ratio as well. Is it just a case of a low ceiling?
Craig Goldstein: Hey. Reasonable question! I don't want to speak for Collin, but I think it's fair to put them towards the back end if that's what you want to do. I don't blame him for seeking upside in that case. I think they're both more back-end types, especially considering their big-league track records thus far.
Kkelly (Il): Keeper issue. I have the opportunity to keep the following players in the first 8 rounds of a 16 team league. I currently have two 8 round picks.
Y Alavarez, S Bieber, Vladdy, Tatis, and Hiura can be kept anywhere 1-8. Acuna and Soto have to be rounds 1-7, and Yelich has to be round 1-6. Every year they move up a round. Having a difficult time trying to figure out how to place them. Currently have Vladdy/ Tatis 8, Acuna 7, Soto 6, Bieber 5, Alavarez 4, Yelich 3, and Hiura 2 leaving my first pick open for another pitcher. Your thoughts would be helpful. Sorry for the long question. Thank you
Craig Goldstein: Just a heads up, it's Alvarez (you're throwing in an extra "a"). So the argument here would be that you're basically going to be giving Hiura up in two years, while relying on the other guys to hold their value a little bit better/longer? It makes sense to prioritize Acuna over Soto that way, he steals bases. I'd probably keep Yelich at 5, Alvarez at 4 and Bieber at 3 (pitchers just carry a lot of risk). Might even do Bieber at 2 and Hiura at 3, again, just because of pitchers being pitchers. Depends a bit on your scoring though.
Highly recommend subbing to our bat signal tier for this type of thing, btw. Our fantasy team is full of rock stars who would have great insight into this stuff.
Ron (Texarkana): Who has the better fantasy value for the next 3 seasons- Tim Anderson, or Jorge Polanco?
Craig Goldstein: I've yet to really figure out Polanco but I think I'd be more confident in him over the next 3.
BD (DC): Luis Garcia still a top prospect? Have any hope for Yusel Antuna?
Craig Goldstein: Garcia shouldn't be dinged too hard for struggling at a very high level given his age but I would say some shine is off the apple. Antuna barely played, so I'd like to know what he's looking like before giving up hope but it's not an ideal situation.
sportsguy21792 (Madison): How do you envision the whole Houston team being treated on the road in 2020?
Craig Goldstein: Rather rudely.
Brian Wilson (California): When you guys unveil the Pirates prospect list, could you use the opening lines from "God Only Knows"? It seems rather fitting
Craig Goldstein: Let's just say yes, and agree that you don't look at the Pirates list today and that way we're all happy.
Patrick (MN): The free agent OF market seems pretty tepid this offseason. Any thoughts as to why? I mean, I read one report that said Puig may not even get a major-league guarantee, which seems crazy to me.
Craig Goldstein: I hadn't seen that report but I'd struggle to believe it. He's more of a name than he is a great value but he's still a starter-quality outfielder. I am not sure why it's lagged there relative to other spots. I think some of the teams that clearly need some help are just unwilling to spend (Cubs, Castellanos, etc.). I was surprised at the terms of Ozuna's deal, and thought it was pretty light overall.
Vic (Baltimore): 12 months ago, Taylor Trammell was a borderline Top 10 prospect. Being I drafted him in 2018, I was feeling pretty smart. Now I can keep him for 2 more years. I am wondering should I drop him and redraft him for 2020-2023, or keep him and try and get value in 2020 and 2021 only. Is the drop/redraft strategy worth the risk?
Craig Goldstein: I guess it depends on the cost of what keeping him is. Is it a round you don't get a pick in? Is it someone else you're not keeping instead? I still like Trammell, but he's been a divisive guy who might end up in left (because of his arm) and didn't show everything at the plate we were looking for in Double-A. The raw tools are still there but the higher up the organizational chain a guy gets, the more we're looking for the ability to convert it into production rather than just flash.
Tino (NC): What is Fried actually going to be? Was 2019 his ceiling or can we expect that again?
Craig Goldstein: I think expecting a repeat of 2019 isn't unreasonable, it's just a question of how you view it. A 4.02 ERA isn't exactly sterling, but it was nice to see the strikeout stuff return. I don't think he's a future ace. Frustrating (in terms of varying from good to bad) mid-rotation arm feels right for him.
boatman44 (Liverpool): Craig do you think Bob Feller's 1946 season is the best pitching season of all time? to think he pitched 371.3 innings at a 2.18 ERA and 1.16 WHIP clip, giving up just 11 home runs and a healthy K/9 of 8.4, just a year removed from fighting in World War 2. Just the innings pitched makes the mind boggle today, what say you?
Craig Goldstein: I'm admittedly not a great historian, but I'd guess it's up there. I know we look at cross-generational stats a lot but it's hard to reconcile that kind of different work load with what we see today.
Flip (Maine): When Wheeler signed with the Phillies he emphasized that analytics were not a major part of his past history with the mets. He is quoted as saying that when Cole went from the Pirates to the Astros, they were able to identify areas of improvement, analytically, that took him to a new level. Wheeler also stated that he hopes to do the same thing. It is probably a pipe dream that he gets to Cole's level, but how do you feel about Wheeler going into next year? Do you believe he can improve upon last year even in a more difficult park?
Craig Goldstein: Cautiously optimistic? I'm really eager to see what Wheeler can do on a consistent basis when he doesn't have a manager who is leaving him in for 100-plus pitches for 5 IP. He got better at avoiding those outings (the 4 2/3, 103 pitches outing still sticks in my mind though), so maybe there's some hope for another gear in that respect. The raw stuff is a ton to dream on, but I'd guess there's more of a half-gear improvement than a full one.
Yuri (Israel): When is Jeff coming back?
Craig Goldstein: Literally tomorrow. It's on the homepage and everything.
RuFresh (MD): What do you think the ceiling is for Jackson Rutledge?
Craig Goldstein: Ceiling? I think a high no. 3 type, perhaps. I think there's a ton of reliever risk and that's assuming a lot works out with his command profile.
ironcityguys (daBurgh): Any chance Welington Castillo gets signed to a MLB contract by the start of the season?
Craig Goldstein: I'd have to think so, yeah.
boatman44 (Liverpool): Say something meaningful about Carlos Vargas, I dare you?
Craig Goldstein: 94-98 with the fastball, 88-91 with a potentially plus slider. Those seem meaningful to me.
JJBB (Gaithersburg, MD): How much regression can we expect from the obvious sign stealers like Altuve, Bregman, etc?
Craig Goldstein: Well, depends how much you think they were sign stealing in 2019, which MLB is saying didn't happen (and if it was, if they're gonna stop in 2020). I'm not about to predict anything significant.
CVD (CA): What is a realistic projection for Carter Kieboom this year?
Craig Goldstein: This got much harder after the nats signed every aging/veteran middle infielder to absorb at-bats from Kieboom's potential workload. Now, he has the talent to push them all off of a starting spot, but I do think there are still exploitable holes in his swing for MLB pitchers to take advantage of. If I'm putting a slash line on it, maybe .260/.330/.440? I'm not expecting a Juan Soto-style start to his career.
Evan M (St Louis): After working in a Supply Chain Management role for 5 years after college I am looking to get into my true baseball passion and get in with the front office. Where would I start?
Craig Goldstein: I'd probably start writing somewhere, whether it's a public site, a blog for yourself, or just a place to create a portfolio of work that you can show teams that you're applying to. You need to be able to walk into any interview and demonstrate the value you can bring to them. That can be through a proprietary metric or research projects or something else, but there needs to be something tangible for them to look at...they won't just take your word that what you can do will help.
Some of the more general ways to do this are coding/programming skills and speaking another language, on top of whatever other skills you might be able to bring to the table.
Craig Goldstein: Alright everyone, thanks for your time and the great questions! We'll be back at it again next week.