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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday November 24, 2003 12:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Christina Kahrl: Howdy gang, sorry I'm late, but as you probably know, late seems to be the name for my game. : )

Brett (Philadelphia): Quoting the Philadelphia Phillies section from Baseball Prospectus 2000: "It takes a certain type of skill to burn out both a rotation and a bullpen in the same season, but they managed the feat in 1999." The sabermetric-happy Red Sox aren't really going to hire Terry Francona, are they?

Christina Kahrl: Howdy Brett, you wouldn't think so, but apparently he does his interviews well. That's unfortunate, but it's a factor, and it helps explain why Jerry Manuel was hired, and now Ozzie Guillen. On the more positive side of things, you can hope a year's worth of osmosis in Oakland might have taught him a thing or two. I'm not optimistic.

Oliver (Tampa, FL): I'm a big fan of BP and Transaction Analysis in particular. I have several questions. First, when will BP 2004 be in bookstores? Second, could you explain the logic behind the D-Rays acquisition of Tino Martinez? And third, where do you stand on the ritual disembowelment of Mummenschanz?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Oliver, in no order whatsoever, "logic" and D-Rays are concepts that rarely seen in the same place at the same time, and there's no good that can come of a tepid ambition to be the dumping ground for other people's bad ideas. Chuck LaMar is still here, after all. As for Mummenschanz, I don't have a lot of use for cheesy postmodern kabuki, so sure, ritual disembowelments for everybody. And as always, BP will be available in the first week of February.

Peter (Washington DC): What's your take on the Giants acquisition of Pierzynski?

Christina Kahrl: A great pickup for the price, an upgrade on an aging/expensive Santiago, and one of three big questions, with answers to what will happen at first and in right field yet to be answered. Brian Sabean's nothing if not bold, so it'll be fun to see what he does next.

Andy (New York): What happens with Pat Burrell in 2004. Most people thought he could be a legitimate MVP candidate by now, but instead he's trying to avoid becoming Rob Deer. What's your prediction for him?

Christina Kahrl: In another organization, I think Burrell would be fixed, but it isn't going to happen through Larry Bowa's personal intervention. Beware of banjo-hitting middle infielders who claim they know something about the science of hitting.

Ray (Antioch, CA): I'm a lifelong Yankee fan and am having trouble making up my mind about whether to keep Soriano or trade him. It seems like after all these years, he still doesn't know the strike zone yet and may never. What are the chances Soriano will not turn into another Juan Samuel? I'm leaning towards the Yanks trading him for Beltran, signing Kaz Matsui for SS, move Jeter to 3rd and Boone to 2nd. Then they'd have strength up the middle, as I believe Matsui is the real deal. To me, that makes more sense than signing Sheffield. Also, I'd be totally crushed if the Yanks traded Nick Johnson. Thoughts?

Christina Kahrl: Howdy Ray, I don't know if I'd be crushed if they traded Johnson; much as I like him, he hasn't come along as well as we wished, with injuries obviously playing a major part. If they got value (or a center fielder), that wouldn't be all bad. The real problem, as you allude to, is fixing the interior defense, and while Soriano gets picked on, Jeter and Williams need to be identified as part of the problem, and they haven't been. Like a musical that's run too long, the Yankees seem determined to run the cast out there in the roles they wear like old shoes. They should move Jeter, and third or center would make sense. They won't do it. As for Soriano, he's a better player than Soriano, but he won't make the jump to the outfield. Like Pedro Guerrero, you just have to accept he won't handle any position you put him at. Leaving him at second makes sense, but on a team with a shortstop who can handle his position. Moving him to third would also be okay, although it would lead to some ugly E-5 Blowers flashbacks for some Yankees fans.

Peterb (Minnesota): What do you think of the Bobby Kielty trade?

Christina Kahrl: Good for both teams, the A's have plenty of options to fill in the back end of the rotation, and the Jays needed the help in theirs and have outfielders to spare. Next year's Syracuse outfield (Rios, Gross, Griffin) is looking pretty sweet, while the A's can give Justin Duchscherer a real shot for the fifth slot. Kielty gives the A's an outfielder who can handle the position, thump lefties, and with the A's, will be given more of an opportunity to grow. As is, he gives them some needed OBP. As for Lilly, again, with 32+ starts and the Jays offense, he might be an All-Star, but at the very least he'll be handy.

Josh (Illinois): Which is the worse contract - Brad Ausmus or Jose Vizcaino? I'd normally say Ausmus, but Vizcaino will likely take ABs away from the team so long as Jimy is managing, whereas Ausmus will hold back John Buck, who doesn't look like he can hit anyway.

Christina Kahrl: Wow, given the choice between a hot poker in my eye and swallowing steel shavings, I'm not sure there's a good choice, beyond rooting for the Cubs. It seems to me that the Astros have learned nothing from their failures. Both moves are wastes of money, roster space, and playing time. I think Ausmus at least has value as a backup, but he won't be in the role. Vizcaino doesn't have even that. Given the age and value of the players involved, I want a Craig Reynolds comeback.

spaceman (springfield IL): Chris, Any ideas on what the Braves might do this off-season?? With Sheffield apparently gone, who's in right??

Christina Kahrl: There's a huge number of outfielders in this year's free agent class, and most of them won't cost anything like Sheffield prices. I'd be impressed if they wound up with Jose Cruz Jr., and disappointed if they made the mistake of bringing in Raul Mondesi. It doesn't seem like John Schuerholz to spend less than he can, though.

Tom Gisriel (Baltimore): As the Orioles make their off-season plans, should they assume they have the following positions covered - or would it be wishful thinking based on what these players have shown thus far? 2B (Hairston or Roberts); LF (Bigbie); CF (Matos); 1B or RF (Gibbons); DH (Segui and Cust). Also, is Mora a good option for 3B, and can Roberts make the transition to SS?

Christina Kahrl: Howdy Tom, I don't think it's wishful thinking at all, and I'm definitely curious about what the Orioles want to do with Mora. But I don't think Roberts is going to make it at short--his arm just isn't accurate on the longer throws, especially from the hole. It'll be worthwhile to let Hairston and Roberts duke it out in camp, while shopping the loser to somebody who needs a fill-in. And man, I do hope they find a way to get Cust 400-500 PA, and given the success they had with youth last year, it might even happen.

Ben Oglivie Fan (JAX, FL): Who is the Ben Oglivie of the 21st Century?

Christina Kahrl: I'm always inclined to say Garret Anderson, although Anderson's the better athlete and outfielder.

aaron (delmar): why is it that people see the padres and orioles as surprise contenders next year, yet not the mets? considering the padres won less games than the mets last year, the orioles have the worst farm system in the minor leagues and play in what is now the hardest division, the braves and marlins may lose four key players from last year, and the mets have seen only a week of a lineup with piazza, floyd, and reyes. are the marlins pitching/phillies hitting too strong for the mets, or will the right additional of players (matsui, cameron, koch, etc) push them into at least .500 territory?

Christina Kahrl: I agree, aaron, I don't see the Orioles as contenders, and I think the Pads will be entertaining, but hard-pressed to win with an all-elephant lineup with no true center fielder and plenty of questions about durability. But don't forget the Cardinals when you bandy about a term like "worst farm system." The Mets have a chance, but that has to be in a scenario where it would take 85 wins to take the East, and everything breaks their way. I don't see it actually happening.

Will (Fredericton, NB): What's next for the Jays?

Christina Kahrl: I think they have to haul in another starting pitcher, and I expect they'll come up with something useful in the Rule 5 draft, probably another reliever. They don't miss out on other people's mistakes with their 40-man rosters.

Peter (Washington DC): Did you hear Bonds' comments about being willing to restructure/renegotiate his contract so the Giants can add a RF bat to protect him? Do you see the Giants slashing payroll or will they find a way to get a legitimate RF bat to protect Barry?

Christina Kahrl: Well, I sort of touched on this before, but in a market with Vlad Guerrero available, if you're Barry Bonds, of course you give that some thought. And why not? He should be financially secure, and whatever hacks like Rick Reilly or his ilk have to say, Bonds likes winning as much as the next guy. I don't see the Giants slash-and-burning.

Max (Hoboken): Thanks for the great TA. Name a team that you feel exemplifies great roster construction & management, and try to describe why...

Christina Kahrl: Howdy Max, you're far too kind, but thank you. : )Generally speaking, I like teams that put their bench to work, and have multiple parts for in-game manipulation. Bruce Bochy generally does a good job with that, as does Jack McKeon. The Jays did an outstanding job last year. David Ortiz vs. Doug Mientkiewicz snafu aside, the Twins do pretty well.

Thaskins (CT): In terms of marketing the game what 2-3 things would you suggest to increase its popularity. I know the NFL is popular but I see a league with more PES, less skillful players, a salary cap that screws most teams after they put together a solid team and more freaking commercial time than a infomercial. Has the anti-marketing of Selig done more damage than we realize?

Christina Kahrl: He has, but the moral bankruptcy of a commissioner who stands for nothing but craven, hamfisted attempts to be popular (the embarassment of the "greatest moments" campaign, or the Rose situation) is pretty damaging. Pete Uebberoth was a problematic commissioner in many ways, but he was probably the last one who understood the critical importance of defending, defining, and growing his product's identity.

Andy (New York): The Orioles seem to want to spend a lot of money. Does that mean that Jack Cust won't get a chance (again). I know he won't be a superstar, but he can certainly help a team during his cheap seasons.

Christina Kahrl: This was certainly a nice season for Cust, in that he finally got some at-bats, and justified a lot of the hope some statheads hold for him. The way I look at it, as long as David Segui's under contract and being counted on, there will be playing time that will end up going Cust's way.

macktheknife (Berkeley): Chris, The addition of Kotsay and Kielty will no doubt give the moribund A's offense some much needed help. However, I wonder why Billy Beane didn't dig deeper into the farm system considering that the A's minor league system have alot of good hitters. I'm not talking about Bobby Crosby or the Moneyball 2002 class of Nick Swisher and Jeremy Brown; I'm talking about guys like Jason Grabowski and Grahm Koonce whose offensive numbers are just off the charts. Why can't these guys be given an adequate shot to win a starting job? Keep up the good work at BP.

Christina Kahrl: A worhwhile point, mack, because it seems like it has been awhile since the A's came up with their next Matt Stairs or Geronimo Berroa. You could argue that Scott Hatteberg was that type of success story, but given the new expense, it's clear that kind of digging can produce unfortunate commitments. Billy McMillon is too old, but deserves to be here, of course, and Adam Melhuse has been a big league caliber hitter for years. I'd love to see Grabowski taken seriously, but questions about his position didn't help.

Casey (Baltimore): Do you predict the Expos' future (beyond 2004) will become any clearer in the next 6 months, or will Selig and Dupuy keep dragging this out until it's safe to bring up the 'C' word again?

Christina Kahrl: Until Selig and Dupuy stop threatening to hold their breaths till they turn blue if they don't get a stadium built with public money and a buyer willing to spend $300 million or more, we have to invest our hope that Selig's 28 co-conspirators in the Expos heist exercise some judgment and insist on a sale. DC will build a downtown stadium; the solution seems obvious. That's not to say I see them getting there.

matthewdpage@hotmail.com (Huntington Beach, CA): The Angels are not frustrated with Glaus yet. As a season ticket holder, we are confident that Glaus can rebound when he is healthy. I think he had some minor surgery after the 2002 season as well. MP

Christina Kahrl: I sort of hope so, even though I'm not an Angels fan. Glaus is one of those players who's worth the price of admission, and if the game marketed itself effectively, he'd get his props.

Andy (New York): For the Giants (or another team with limited dollars), might it be wiser for the GM to save his money until the season starts? That way, he can better react to the team's needs and he won't commit his resources to multi-year contracts most helpful free agents require? Basically, would the Giants be better off trading for Delgado and Jenkins in June, or signing Sheffield on December?

Christina Kahrl: The problem is that no team operates in a vacuum. You have to count on the Jays being out of it in June, and willing to take the PR hit. You have to hope Jenkins doesn't break down. You have to hope you don't start off too cold, or that the other guy isn't putting together a hell of a team. You have to put those deals together anticipating that the other guy's going to try to run interference. I think what you're suggesting makes sense in the abstract, but there are too many interdependent variables to risk it.

Hans (Stuttgart, Germany): I love Baseball! I love Baseball Prospectus! Who wins the American League MVP in 2004, or who are your top ten candidates? Thank you

Christina Kahrl: Danke sehr, Hans, you're too kind. AL MVP? Off the top of my head, I'll pick Roy Halladay, on the theory that he has a full excellent season, gets plenty of run support, and the AL electorate does something as funky as they're known to do.

A few quick questions for the next 10-15 minutes, folks? I'll stay late because I started late.

Will (Fredericton, NB): As a Jays fan, should I be concerned about the frequency with which JP and Beane make deals together?

Christina Kahrl: No, although it's amusing to note. They have a shared value system when it comes to player evaluation, so it's not unusual for them to know what the other wants, and sort out whether or not they have a match. It's not like dealing with a Jim Bowden, where you have to set aside the conceit and the initially insulting proposals.

jschmeagol (carlisle, pa): What is it going to take for the Yankees to move jeter from short and get a real shortstop? shouldnt' this be one of their major objectives this offseason. Or at least above signing an aging corner outfielder.

Christina Kahrl: You'd think so, but again, this is a situation where the Yankees are playing to mob thought in the 4th estate, instead of acting on what's visually apparent and statistically damning. And as long as you worry what people are writing about what you're doing, you're likely to become pretty risk-averse.

Q (Q-ville): Do you know who any possible Super Two's are regarding this year's arbitration class?

Christina Kahrl: Sounds like a great suggestion for a forthcoming article, Q, since I don't know the answer.

Thaskins (CT): As a Blue Jay fan I am trying to keep my feet on the ground. I love the Lilly trade and bringing in Hentgen as a 4th (not 3rd) starter is a solid move. Throw in the fact that the Sox had a career year from a large portion of their lineup and the fact the A's/Mariners aren't really that much better, will we be in the wild card hunt through the end of the year? (Can't comment on the Yank's yet, who the heck knows what they will/should do)

Christina Kahrl: A lot depends on how the rotation works out--remember how we thought Cory Lidle would be an asset last year?--but I definitely see the Jays as contenders in both the AL East and for the wildcard.

Vlad (Pittsburgh): How many players will the Pirates lose in the Rule V? Just Shelton, Brooks, and Thompson, or more as well?

Christina Kahrl: Probably more, although they'll get some portion offered back. The real question is if they're desperate enough to reject re-claiming players because they don't want to spend the $25K.

Andy (New York): Brandon Webb: all-star or fluke?

Christina Kahrl: He's a pitcher, so it's hard to say "all-star" and expect consistency, but he's no fluke.

David (Curacao): Is there a way the Red Sox can get A-Rod? Ship Manny to Texas maybe?

Christina Kahrl: I don't see it happening. Why alienate Nomah-di cultists?

Thaskins (CT): Do you see any correlations between the Expos situation and what happened in Houston with football a couple of year ago? Once the NFL committed to moving the Oilers/Titans fan support went down the drain. But, once the NFL made a commitment to bringing back football to the city the new Texans seem to be doing just fine. People (SportsCenter) like to make fun of the Expos and their lack of fan support, but let's be real. Why would they support a team when there has been rumors of them leaving for 6-7 years? I believe if MLB made a real commitment baseball would be just fine in MTL.

Christina Kahrl: Okay, Thaskins, you're asking some good questions, so I'll keep answering them. : )
I think Montreal is always going to have a problem because of the sense that it's a foreign city, and how that affects free agent decisions, but you raise a valid point: without a real owner (and no, I don't mean Claude Brochu), without a coherent marketing plan, and with no investment in selling baseball to an essentially alienated fan base, we don't know if Montreal can be rehabbed or not. I'd be willing to try if I wasn't compromised by my desire to see a NL team here in the DC area.

Ryan (MO): Call me crazy, but I think Jose Contreras could win the AL Cy Young next year. When he's on, he's incredible. What do you foresee for him?

Christina Kahrl: No Cy Young. From what I remember of last season, he seems to be coincidentally on when he's facing the Tigers. Can he grow up to be as useful as Danys Baez? Probably, but that's a lot less valuable than what it took to acquire him.

David G (Baltimore): Mike Hargrove was fired after leading the Orioles to 4 losing seasons. In one of those years, the O's collapsed at the end of the season going 4-32 (IIRC) to finish the campaign. Is presiding over such a collapse a sign of a good manager (he kept his group of lesser talented player in the race as long as he could), a bad manager (he didn't allocate his resources effectively as someone in BP argued by M's manager Bob Melvin last summer concerning his bullpen usage) or is it just one of those things? Thank you.

Christina Kahrl: Last question, but I think it's one of those things. I think Hargrove didn't fit in with the Flaneattie regime, and he wanted to go to a contender. I was surprised that the White Sox didn't hire him, since he'd probably have relished the chance to win the Central again, but instead Kenny Williams made a move that makes Hawk Harrelson's season as GM seem like a reasonable management decision. Happy news if you're the Twins, of course. Hargrove will be back, and while he's not the most nimble tactician, worse managers have been retreaded.

Christina Kahrl: As always, it's been fun, gang, thank you for being patient with me, and I hope everybody has a great Flightless Fowl Massacre in the company of friends and loved ones.

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