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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday February 03, 2006 12:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus and co-editor of the soon-to-be-released Baseball Prospectus 2006 annual book.

Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, apologies for the rescheduling, but it's entirely my fault, in that my priority on Wednesday was to type up the index of BP2K6, and that was a wee bit time-sensitive. So shame on me, and let's get this thing started...

Bob R. (Clearwater): Do you think there is any chance the Cubs would deal Kerry Wood? If so, what would they be looking for and what sort of value would he fetch? Do you think the Devil Rays, for example, have the talent to interest the Cubs in a deal for Wood?

Christina Kahrl: I think that there is absolutely no chance that the Cubs would deal Woody. Beyond questions of what reasonable return they'd expect (a lot), what he'd be worth because of his injury history (a lot less than that), his enthusiasm for being a Cub, his popularity in Wrigleyville... I just don't see dealing Wood as being remotely close to something that either Andy MacPhail or Jim Hendry would or could bring themselves to.

Brett (Elderon, WI): Christina - how should the Brewers handle Carlos Lee? He's not likely to be back after this season, so should they just move him now or during spring? Or play it by ear until the deadline to see if they're legit and bite the bullet at the end of the season?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Brett... I think the Lee situation is one that Doug Melvin will handle carefully. Even with Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz ready and waiting, Lee's value to the Brewers on the roster or in trade is enormous. His potential value in trade is something that Melvin will appropriately place a premium on. I like the scenario in which he waits for the right offer and deals Lee around the July deadline. The problem--a nice one--is that the Brewers are close to contending, and they might not work themselves up to the idea of dealing Lee when that's in the cards.

Greg P (China, Maine): Christina - are you going to be doing some catch-up transasction analyses since we haven't seen one in a while? I miss them!

Christina Kahrl: Hi Greg,

The fault is, again, mine, in that my focus in December and January is usually on getting the annual done. I was happy to actually keep up through early December, and I should be back in the saddle and caught up on TA next week.

russadams (St. Cloud): Do you think Willie Eyre would be a good fit in the Twins bullpen this year?

Christina Kahrl: It's going to be a wee bit crowded, because even after the Castillo trade, the Twins have big league-quality bullpen help coming out of their ears. Guys like Eyre and Pat Neshek are going to have to push for opportunities, especially when spill-over from the fight for the fifth slot in the rotation will probably crowd them out. But I do like Eyre, fwiw.

natjenki (cincinnati, oh): Christina: Somebody explain to me why Bill Hall keeps getting sent to the back of the bus by Brewers management? The guy has done everything they have ever asked (improve plate control, get better on 'D', play everywhere) and STILL Melvin bothers with the Koskies of the world? Wazzup?

Christina Kahrl: It's a worthwhile question, but keep in mind, Hall's turning out better than anybody expected. That said, Hardy's worth playing, and Weeks must. The rationale behind picking up Koskie is, I guess, that he provides them with the possibility of using Hall as a semi-regular at second, short, and third, while also being the team's utility infielder. That usage pattern might make it easier to carry a twelfth pitcher, a pinch-runner, a third catcher, or a pinch-hitter with some real sock. Plus, if Koskie, Weeks, or Hardy get hurt or falter, you're not playing Juan Castro or the like. My problem is that Koskie's pickup was gratuitous--they could have just held onto Russ Branyan, and split the playing time at third with Hall.

sjd0378 (Trumbull, CT): Where do you think Shapiro ranks amongst MLB's best GMs?

Christina Kahrl: My personal opinion is that he's just below the first rank, and moving up. Pushing your way in among the Beanes, Jockettys, Schuerholzes, etc., is rare air, but I think Shapiro will be counted among them in the next year or two.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Christina, a topic: Bret Boone can't possibly be worse than Kazuo Matsui in 2006. Please discuss. Thanks.

Christina Kahrl: You'd be surprised. Boone looks very done, to the point that the fork sticking out of him glows.

gerry (san diego): The Padres have made a whole lot of moves this winter, but seemingly without gaining much traction. The entire roster seems to be filled with guys who aren't among the league's top tier at their position and have no reasonable expectation of being there in the next five years (Jake Peavy notwithstanding). Aside from hoping Ryan Klesko's contract is insured and his leg mysteriously snaps, what sort of transaction should Kevin Towers be looking to make right now? Is there any simple way out of this mess?

Christina Kahrl: Much as I have no use for Vinny Castilla, I'm actually not as down on the Padres as you. Mike Cameron does all sorts of good things for this team. I like the Piazza pickup, and I'm positive on Josh Barfield's upside. The real question right now is whether the rotation can keep the ball within even Petco's confines, so if I'd want to see a move, it would be one to bring in somebody more promising than Shawn Estes or Seth Etherton.

PSIllini (Champaign): Christina, where is Trot Nixon going? He's a ggreat guy, and a nice hitter against right-handers, but this is his walk year and I can't see Theo giving him a big offer. Will he even finish the year in Boston?

Christina Kahrl: It depends on where the Red Sox are by the end of July, but given that they expect to contend, I guess I'm skeptical about Mr. Lucchino's willingness to sign off on a bold restructuring of the roster in-season. This team has already repudiated the idea of re-tooling, so I don't really believe they'll do a good job of changing gears in-season if it doesn't work out.

Mike (Baltimore): Hey Christina, who is more likely to hit 25 homeruns next year, Mike Piazza or Frank Thomas?

Christina Kahrl: Piazza, but that's picking on the big guy. I'm still getting used to the idea of seeing the Big Hurt in somebody else's uni, and nobody would mistake me for a Sox fan.

JimJim Vandalia (Minneapolis): Couple Cubs questions: 1. How do you see the 2B situation shaking out? 2. Are there any good candidates to platoon with Jones?

Christina Kahrl: Todd Walker's fine as is, but that's only half of a real platoon, forcing the question of who's going to play the other 40-50 games... gods above and below help them if it's Neifi. Maybe Ryan Theriot really gets a shot, but I'm not holding my breath; he's pretty far from 30, and that's about when Dusty starts remembering people's names.

As for Jones, with Mike Restovich in camp as a NRI, the Cubs might (stress on might) have a worthwhile platoon. Again, platooning isn't something Dusty does a lot of, but the potential is there.

rscully (Fairfax, VA): What do you make of Texas's moves? Is Kinsler ready to start? How much will Wilkerson contribute now that he's healthy and away from RFK? Have they assembled enough pitching to hang in with the As and Angels?

Christina Kahrl: I like Kinsler a lot, but I think the Rangers are being sensibly coy about whether the job is his. He will have to earn it, and with D'Angelo Jimenez in camp, it isn't like they're entirely without viable alternatives.

Wilkerson's going to have a very good year, between the difference in the parks and the happiness of getting away from the Nats. As a matter o' fact, I can say the Rangers chapter in this year's book does some very good work on this very subject. (Disclaimer: I didn't write the Rangers.)

As for the pitching... well, that's where it gets dodgy. Millwood and Eaton, okay, but Padilla's going to be pounded. I don't think the Rangers will keep up with Oakland, but if the Angels' offense tanks as badly as it might, second place seems quite possible.

ricko30 (Toronto): Hi Christina. What do you think of the Dodgers' re-signing of Hee Seop Choi? How will he be handled this year? His contract seems to be a pretty good value, so could he be dealt eventually? Or does he have to be content in waiting for Nomar's first (and second and third) injury before he sees any major league action?

Christina Kahrl: I really think his agent made a huge mistake by not holding out for arbitration and getting the better payday there, especially since this deal handicaps Choi's future earning potential before free agency. That said, he'll need to play to earn big money, and he won't get that in LA, hence that much more reason to have gone into arbitration. I know, giving advice about making yourself a bitter pill isn't playing nice, but Choi needs to get out of LA before the counterrevolution chews up his career.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Hi Chris: Do you care to handicap the O's outfield situation? I assume Gibbons is in right. After that it all seems up in the air. Will Patterson supplant Matos is center? What about Markakis and Majewski? Will Conine patrol left or will one of the center fielders move over, or one of the youngsters emerge?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Tom,

Always good to see one of my favorite longtime readers. On a theoretical level, I like the idea of the battle between Patterson and Matos. But while it doesn't look like Matos will really pan out, there's the question of whether or not Patterson will either. The danger is there for the Os to not make a strong commitment, fart around with one then the other, get nothing going with either, and wreck both.

As for what a team does with both Millar and Conine... ugh. Maybe they deal Javy Lopez, maybe they've hugely overcompensated for their DH issues, but like you, I'd like to see Markakis and Majewski up by season's end.

kerfeld (houston): how much worse can brad ausmus possibly get? we astros fans have two more years to find out!

Christina Kahrl: Physics has really sort of entered the realm of the theological, where some questions of suckitude have to be answered on faith. Yes, black holes suck, yet some particles escape their suckitude. The question is whether or not Ausmus may validate the concept of absolute suck, but his event horizon hides the really crushing depths of his performances to come.

Benton Quest (Oslo): Thanks for chatting, CK. With the return of Scott Rolen's thundering lumber neutralizing much if not all the offensive downgrade at the OF corners, is there any way the Cardinals win fewer than 91-93 games this year?

Christina Kahrl: Yes, and while it depends on a few things like Rolen remaining fragile, the rotation might not look so hot if Mulder declines, Anthony Reyes doesn't establish himself in the Morris slot, and Jason Marquis's high wire act finally goes down. I don't like some of the risks they're taking in the pen, and a few things go wrong with that staff, and you get a situation not unlike what happened on LaRussa and Duncan's watch in the early '90s in Oakland, situations where you go from hoping that a project like Sidney Ponson works out to one where he has to. That's never a good thing.

vince (New York): Christina - PECOTA is really hating on Carlos Beltran this year. Is he done being an elite player as far as his talent is concerned, or is Shea just sapping his slugging totals that much?

Christina Kahrl: It generally doesn't pay to disagree with PECOTA, but yes, between Shea, perhaps a general downturn in offense, his age, his really poor 2005, it's hard to see that he's going to be the MVP-caliber player of yesteryear. I do like the possibilities of a bust-out, but it's not the safe bet.

therocc99 (Manhattan): Christina, What's going on with the Devil Rays new front office? I thought now that Chuck "i'm not doing a deal unless its Kazmir for Zambrano" LaMar was gone that baseball's quietest trading team would open up a bit. Sure, they've moved Baez in no-brainer, but they sat on Lugo and Huff all offseason when a) the market was strong for both, B)they had capable in-house replacements C) they have no chance of competing this year, and D) really could've used some pitching. What gives?

Christina Kahrl: Sometimes it makes sense to see what shakes out in camp. I don't think this team is the team that takes the field on Opening Day, and I think the possibility of getting value for Huff or Lugo improves once potential bidders don't have the market to turn to. Expect a deal or two in March, and give the new crowd a break, they are cleaning up a superfund site after all.

Saul Rosenberg (Cleveland): I know the Crisp/Marte trade has been discussed here on BP, but I value your opinion... what do you think of the trade?

Christina Kahrl: It was a "must" deal for Boston, and they gave up their two best bargaining chips to get a CF. The question for Cleveland is now twofold: when do they plug Marte in at third, and what do they get for Shoppach. Marte's a building block for a championship ballclub, while Crisp is a "merely" solid contributor to a contender. A great deal for Shapiro, a distressed property sort of deal for Boston, and one which, will it does fix the problem, also leaves them that much less able to fix other problems now that they don't have Shoppach.

Azteca (Omaha): On Carlos Beltran: I think Pecota likes him plenty: .293 EqA, .283/.365/.479 batting line, 19sb/4cs. That's elite. In fact, his 41.0 vorp ranks him 28th among MLB hitters, and 2nd to Andruw Jones amond CFers. His ranking is generous, in my mind, in comparison to his struggles last year.

Christina Kahrl: Thank you, nicely done, and shame on me for not looking it up. Consider this a case of unreasonable expectations, I guess.

Mike (DC): Do you think Chris Denorfia is enough of a player for the Reds to consider trading Kearns for pitching (eg, to the Red Sox for Clement)?

Christina Kahrl: No, but I also have to wonder, to what end? Kearns is a player you want to see blossom on your watch, because he and Pena are your best bets in-house to be star players in the midst of your lineup. What does Clement do for you, help you finish .500? This team is a trainwreck right now, swapping for one veteran starter won't change that.

Jelly (Annapolis): When do we see BP 2006 in stores? I'm dying! Also, batting cleanup for Detroit, with half a year of health (and decent stats) under his belt, do you see a return to form for Magglio Ordonez?

Christina Kahrl: This year's book should be available for order in three weeks or so, and generally requires a week or two to be distributed to every store nationwide.

As for Maggs, I guess I'm a little skeptical, in that I see him as a player who will never be quite right. Happily, he'll get time at DH, but he won't go back to being the guy who drew that monster contract from the Tigers.

SamHughes (Deadline Hell, PA): Hey Christina, I want to like Pat Gillick, but I'm still feeling sour about his trading Vicente Padilla for yesterday's tuna sandwich and then blowing half the savings on a bulemic "innings-eater" like Ryan Franklin. I know the market for good SPs is awful, and I like moving Madson into the rotation, but ... I still can't shake the nagging feeling that Padilla's going to have a career year or three for Texas. Can you put a cheerier spin on this for me?

Christina Kahrl: Nothing like yesterday's tuna sandwich to encourage bulimia. How about this bit of schadenfreude: Texas is only a step below Colorado for places where you don't want to pitch. Add in that Padilla's a player who relies on results on balls in play, and even if Texas is fielding a better (read: Soriano-free) defense, it's a place where bad things happen on contact.

You won't miss Padilla, not that this should make anybody feel good about having a Franklin in Philly.

Gorman T. (ThreeTrueOutcomesville, ND): Derrick Turnbow: a one-year fluke? PECOTA seems to think so...

Christina Kahrl: Perhaps, but I guess I don't worry about that sort of thing. Closers are made, not born, and with Mike Adams and Capellan around, it isn't like the Brewers don't have relievers who will do good stuff, regardless of whether or not they're entrusted with save situations.

oskithebear (NYU): Does Leo Mazzone work his magic in Baltimore or do we find out that much of his success came from the quality of the Braves staff?

Christina Kahrl: That would be the $64,000 question, and heaven forfend Bill Shatner shows up to lend a helping hand in a search for the answer. I guess the pitcher I wonder about most is Benson. There's always been the nagging sense that Benson could really become something with the right handling, something that wasn't going to happen on Lloyd McClendon's watch in Pittsburgh, and didn't happen with Rick Peterson working with him in NY. If Benson jumps to the DH league and improves, I'd think we'd know then and there that it's the best possible short-term answer about what sort of magic Mazzone can work.

collins (greenville nc): Even with the pitch counts, there's a big risk of pitching injuries in the WBC. If some high profile pitchers get hurt, do you think that will doom future WBCs?

Christina Kahrl: I'm noisily against the WBC, in the same way that I'm noisily against similarly stupid publicity stunts like trashing history and opening the season in Mexico or Amsterdam or Katmandu in acts of pure and simple greed. The focus of the 30 franchises should be on their seasons and their players. That's the best way to market the game, not an exhibition for the benefit of the bewildered people of Belgium, or a "competition" where Cuba gets counted out because, well, they're the one Communist country we won't do business with. It's baloney of the most rancid variety, and not worth risking actual ballgames and actual teams to pursue the entirely notional benefits of such things.

pjfsks (New Jersey): The Mets and local media have hyped Jose Reyes as an emerging star & key piece of the franshise's future. I am one of the non-believers. Do you think the Mets should trade him while he still has this perceived potential or would it be too much of an admission of over publicity for management to swallow?

Christina Kahrl: It'll never happen. Consider this the Kool-Aid that's already been swallowed, and Reyes' limitations as one of the things the Mets are doomed to deal with. The context in which they would have to construct a deal of Reyes would almost certainly have to come after a year in which they fall short of the playoffs again, so the best hope I can hold out to you is that maybe something gets done next winter.

Beau Karch (Manhattan): I read a few articles on BP last year about the make-up of the Mets batting order and its impact on run scoring, i.e., batting Reyes and his low OBP first may not have been the best idea. How do you think things looks for the Mets this year with Delgado and LoDuca in the line-up? If they have to bat Reyes first, wouldn't it make a lot of sense to follow with Beltran, Wright, Delgado, Floyd in the 2 through 5 slots?

Christina Kahrl: Yes, it would, although generally, managers overthink their lineups when it comes to batting lefties consecutively, so Willie Randolph probably won't bat Delgado and Floyd one after the other.

One of these things is not like the other, however, in that LoDuca will not be an asset. It'll be interesting to see if Castro takes the job from him down the stretch, or if the Mets ride another one of LoDuca's consistent second half fades to its bottom.

macman (D.C.): I think my hometown Nat's are going to be scary-bad this year. The pitching, last year's strength, looks much worse and the offense is dependent on a healthy Johnson and Vidro, a not-in-Texas Soriano, and needs breakouts from Zimmerman and Church. Sounds like 70-92 to me. Your thoughts?

Christina Kahrl: Getting Lawrence wasn't all bad, and if the organization has to resolve the Soriano situation by probably dealing Vidro for less than they'd like, I guess I see a stronger team than 70 wins, perhaps more a 75-77 win team. The bullpen should be an asset, the rotation isn't desperately wounded by Loaiza's defection, and Zimmerman will be an improvement on Castilla. The problem is that Church might not get to play, as the organization diddles around with bad ideas like Brandon Watson or worthless vets like Michael Tucker and Marlon Anderson.

Jason (New York): How do you end up with projections like you do for Gagne, Bonds, and Randy Johnson, all of who seem like big question marks in 2006. It seems as though those projections reflect their upside, and don't factor in any real risk.

Christina Kahrl: A valid question, and one happily answered in this year's annual. PECOTA does a remarkable job of evaluating a player's range of possible ranges of performance, and in Nate Silver's latest enhancements to the system, explains the possibilities for a significant injury that might derail the basic projection.

russadams (St. Cloud, MN): Why don't the Mets just try Julio Franco at second base? It'd be pretty cool to see.

Christina Kahrl: Sort of in the same way it was fun to see Arci Cianfrocco clomping around at shortstop, but really, it's not something you'd want to do more than once in a blue moon. If you're a Mets fan hoping for somebody to save you from Matsui or Boone, better to place those hopes on Jeff Keppinger, Anderson Hernandez, or maybe Chase Lambin.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Have the Jays shot themselves in the foot by punting their defense, or were their offensive upgrades worth it?

Christina Kahrl: The Jays have shot off both feet by only reshuffling their offense, instead of improving it. Overbay isn't really an improvement, and Glaus is in the situation of having to remain healthy and ageless while coming out of the BOB.

Phil (Austin): Tony Clark ... if Arizona is really committed to Conor Jackson at 1B - and it makes sense that they are - wouldn't Clark be better as trade bait than PH/10-game per year DH when MLB is littered with starting 1B/DHs like Millar, Youkilis, Bernie (ok, no way he goes back to the Yanks), Hillenbrand, Mientkiewicz, and Niekro?

Christina Kahrl: Assuming Jackson convincingly wins the job in camp--which he does have to do--yes, it would very much make sense to deal Clark while he might be overvalued on the basis of 2005. Once the season starts, though, reality will start transmogrifying that value back into the pumpkin the Mets and Yankees both ditched.

bravoatoc (Edmond, OK): Will Andruw Jones be able to improve upon the career year that he put up last year? Will Wilson Betemit ever get a real chance to establish himself? Will I have to cover my eyes to keep from crying because Edgar Renteria is now the Braves shortstop?

Christina Kahrl: As much appropriate criticism as the Renteria pickup generated, what's done is done, and it's not unreasonable to expect some bounce-back from his miserable season in Fenway. The real problem is whether his defense will improve, because if it doesn't, that's the leakiest left side of an infield in baseball.

As for Andruw, while all sorts of things might be possible, I think we can all settle for something less than last year. And Betemit? Probably not in anything more than a role similar to Bill Hall's in Milwaukee, perhaps getting three starts per week total across second, short, and third.

normb11 (Wrigleyville): Regarding PECOTA, (I'm kind of new to it!) you said it doesn't pay to disagree with it, but not one pitcher with more than 16 wins??? Care to explain to a new-bie user why not to disagree when there isn't one pitcher with more than 16 wins?

Christina Kahrl: I'm not the best expert on the subject, far from it, but I'd hazard the educated guess that wins are a crapshoot in the projection business. You can't really predict run support, only how well a pitcher will pitch.

Azteca (Omaha): Your guess for the day the Halos trade Kennedy, and call up Kendrick? Howie's vorp, this year, by the way, is tops among 2Bmen.

Christina Kahrl: It's a nice problem to have, but unless someone knocks Bill Stoneman's socks off, I don't see it happening until late June or so, about when the Angels might start coming to terms with the fact that they aren't scoring runs.

oskithebear (NYU): You spend more time analyzing roster transactions than almost anyone. From your experiences, are GM abilities across-the-board or do they split among various categories? For example, are some GMs the best at trading from depth, while others are the best at assessing young talent?

Christina Kahrl: A great question, and one that reflects perhaps my greatest shortcoming as a writer. Well, besides my lifelong love affair with the dependent clause, but I digress. I'm generally not good at seeing the forest for the trees, and I think the time has come for me to more aggressively aggregate and classify actions and results to perhaps provide a better, more rigorous evaluation of front office behavior.

Basically, thank you, because I really should be doing something like this, and I take your question as more of a suggestion than one I can effectively answer.

Ali Nagib (Chicago): Forgetting the WBC in particular, do you believe that relevant international baseball competition is worth pursuing? I, for one, think that it would be great if there was a real team USA that would go out and compete with players we've actually heard of (like in soccer, basketball, and hockey). I agree that the interests of international competition may be at odds with the interests of MLB, but that's true of all those other sports too. Just because baseball doesn't have a long history of meaningful international competition doesn't mean that there shouldn't ever be.

Christina Kahrl: No, I don't, but I don't really care about the Olympics or international competition. Leave that to amateur ranks, and ditch the dream teams. I still think the NBA made a huge mistake in getting into the Olympics to cover for John Thompson's failure as a coach. As much as I do (perhaps perversely) like watching the World Cup in soccer, I see that as something singular, and prefer to leave the other clashes of titans to theory, especially when it conflicts with real seasons, real teams, and real results.

Devonshire Pudding-on-Thames, Mrs. (Bayonne, NJ): What's the best chapter in the 2006 book?

Christina Kahrl: Okay, there are a lot of questions about the book, but this one I could not resist. : )

There's some tremendous work in this year's book, but I'm particularly impressed by the analysis of the failures of Oakland's draft strategy in the A's chapter, the extended discussion of luck and its role in the White Sox victory, and a back of the book essay by Gary Huckabay on the perils of taking performance analysis too seriously.

bianchiveloce (Anderson, SC): If you were in charge of finding the new General Manager for the Cincinnati Reds, who would be the top three candidates for the job and what would separate them from the other possible candidates? Thanks.

Christina Kahrl: I'd have the guts to give Paul DePodesta a call, and screw what the troglodytes at the L.A. Times say about that. I'd see if Logan White has ambitions for higher office, and if he could be stolen away from the Dodgers, with the understanding that he'd be given five to eight years before we worried about results in transforming the farm system. But most basically, I'd give Brad Kullman every consideration, because he's going to make a good GM for somebody, and as his brief period in charge before the O'Brien disaster, he has the strength to make tough decisions.

yostfender (Naperville IL): Any chance Pittsburgh might turn in a season not unlike Milwaukee's 2005? I see a decent starting rotation and an improved offense in a weakened division. Your thoughts?

Christina Kahrl: The period in which a new manager moves in is always fascinating to watch, because anybody might get an opportunity to impress. Now, I know I'd be happier if it was Tom Gorzelanny and not Ryan Vogelsong, but you never know what sort of initial impressions Jim Tracy will have of his new charges. I know I wouldn't be happy if they decided to stick with Victor Santos, and a lineup that's depending on something more than mediocrity from Sean Casey or Joe Randa is a lineup bound to disappoint you.

The NL Central is going to be interesting, as we see if the Cubs finally get their act together, as the Brewers start making their move, and whether or not the Cardinals keep it together. I don't expect much from the Astros, but I was wrong about them last year.

Christina Kahrl: With that, I have to sign off, gang. Thanks for all of the questions, my profuse apologies to the 100 or so questions I didn't get to, and look forward to seeing a return of TA to the site next week. Have a great weekend, and even enjoy the Super Bowl if such is your bent. Pitchers and catchers are just around the corner, and so is this year's edition of the annual.

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