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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday February 17, 2004 12:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus.

Christina Kahrl: Howdy folks. Chris should be along at about 12:15 ET. Apologies for the delay, and thanks for being patient. --BP Admin

Thaskins (CT): What do you think are the chances the Sox try to pry Soriano away from the Rangers? Not to spite the Yanks but because he is a good hitter (noting the K's) with a ton of power and is still not that expensive.

Christina Kahrl: First, apologies to everyone for my late arrival, but we'll run beyond an hour anyway... : )

The odds of the Red Sox getting Soriano? Well, given that the Rangers are in self-immolation mode, and the general shortage of people in the Red Sox farm system that the Rangers could use, cynically I'd say sure, but frankly, I think this is Apple envy, and it won't happen.

Pierre (Torino, Italy): Well, we might as well get it over with now : your thoughts on the A-Rod deal?

Christina Kahrl: ... will be featured at length in today's TA, but basically, not getting a prospect worth mentioning, and getting a 2B-going-on-DH, no matter how young, just doesn't add up.

The good? The Yankees keep themselves in the running, because they have to. Bud Selig didn't pull a Kuhn on us. The bad? Jeter may stay at short, the Yankees don't fix their defensive problems, and the Rangers stake a claim on fourth for a few years. I'm an A's fan, so I'm not sure the latter point is all bad. : )

Thaskins (CT): How can MLB solve its marketing issue with regards to the salery cap? In the NFL you still have teams like the Redskins spending all this money on "established veterens." Stars still get cut as oposed to traded because they make too much. There are still really bad teams every year. Yet, everyone thinks a cap will fix baseball. I don't get it???

Christina Kahrl: Because 'cap' is a magic word, like 'tax cut,' or 'strategic defensive initiative,' or 'peace dividend.' It has meanings and connotations entirely divorced from the nitty-gritty of economic realities, and as we all know--this non-mathematician in particular--math is hard. Never mind that the NFL players are in a terrible spot, or that caps don't work. People want to believe in easy solutions.

Benjamin (University of Maryland, Baltimore County): Keepin' it short...How far has Jack Cust's stock fallen? Which 2B should the O's trade?

Christina Kahrl: I'd trade Hairston, because I don't see his upside being something you want to wait around for. Cust's stock is hampered by the Palmeiro signing, but not killed. He'll outhit Surhoff every day of every week, so he still has a chance to claim some at-bats.

Greg S (Cincinnati): Chris, what percentage of moves made by teams do you deem defensible and not deserving of your wrath in TA? Five, maybe ten percent?

Christina Kahrl: A fair criticism, but it's actually higher than that. I was much more petty and cranky in my wasted youth.

paul mocker (seattle): Can the field of sabermetrics predict the impact on career length from changing positions? The answer might help the question of whether to move Arod to 3b.

Christina Kahrl: It's a great question, and one I'm sure that Gary Huckabay, Nate Silver, and Keith Woolner, and probably a lot of others, can answer more thoroughly, but I think the answer is yes. Jon Bernstein (a Usenet thinker of some note, and a friend) used to bandy this about, and I think it's worth comprehensive study.

As for A-Rod moving to third, I'd wonder just as much about organizational idiocy or politics hurting his career.

Ian (Nashville): Are there any starting pitchers the Tigers might be able to acquire in the pre-season? Just about anyone would be an upgrade.

Christina Kahrl: They're better off sorting through who they have on hand, to see who's worth keeping, and who's a waste of a 40-man spot. There's nothing to be gained from mimicking the Reds, and hauling in every fifth starter wannabe for a new lease on life.

Rob in Wisconsin (Kenosha WI): Huge Cubs and BP fan, Chris, is this rumour of Maddux to the Yankees just another Boras attempt to drive up Greg's price? Which set of pinstripes do you see Maddux winning #300 in?

Christina Kahrl: I'm not a Cubs fan, but there's something visually wrong with envisioning Maddux in pinstripes belonging to someone besides the Cubs. I'd love to see him back in Wrigley, and I hope it's a ploy, but as I state in today's TA, the Yankees still need help.

Terence (L.A.): What should the Mets do with Leiter & Glavine? Spin them for prospects in July or hope they can stay effective for two more years?

Christina Kahrl: I'd spin Glavine to save the expense, but since Leiter's a local guy who sort of gave them a break to stay close to home, I can imagine keeping him for the duration. The Mets' larger question is sorting out what they need. A 3B? Wright's on the way, so no need to trade for one. A top-shelf power-hitting outfielder with a future would be nice, but would the Jays want Glavine for one of last year's Double-A outfield? I doubt it. It won't be easy to move him for something they can really use.

Pachoo (Atlanta): Just curious about the status of BP 2004. Has it been printed yet and when can we expect them to be mailed out?

Christina Kahrl: I got the news that my 'test order' from Barnes and Noble has shipped, so yes, it has been printed, and yes, they're shipping now. It's a source of tremendous relief, of course, since this year's book is bigger than ever.

Colon City Bomber (Colon, Panama): My wife and I were arguing over the best names for triplets if you wanted to keep a baseball theme. What do you think?

Christina Kahrl: Tinker, Evers, and Chance?
Tony, Rickey, and Dwayne? (A's fans will appreciate that one, I hope.)
On a crunchier, River Phoenix sort of note, Spahn, Sain, and Rain?

Scott (Seattle, WA): So the M's sign Ron Villone for a cool mil, with another mil in incentives. What could a lefty set-up man possibly do to earn $1 mil in incentives? Win the Cy Young? Invent a low-carb bread that tastes good? Eradicate the world of tuberculosis? Assure that no one will ever talk about Justin/Janet ever again? A camp invitee lefty would be as good as Villone, right?

Christina Kahrl: Hmmm, low-carb bread that tastes good... you know, I've been accused of holding things to an unrealistic standard, but c'mon, let's be practical.

Look at it if you're Villone: you've been an Opening Day starter, you've had your moments, you've had more comebacks than Travolta... why not lard up on demands?

Cris E (St Paul, MN): How good a GM do you think Paul DePodesta would make for, say, the Dodgers or As? I guess I'm heading towards something like Is it more important to BE a sharp analyst or HAVE a sharp analyst?

Christina Kahrl: I think it's important to know you don't know everything, and know who to ask. Paul's considerably more intelligent than I am, so I suspect he knows this, and will be everything that will sicken me as a lifelong Dodger hater. The NL West can be had, and DePo's the man who can make it happen.

Rob in Wisconsin (Kenosha WI): Chris Is having a lefthander in the rotation (seemingly a sore spot in the media RE: the Yankees and Cubs RHP Heavy rotations) overrated, when only the '91 Twins and '93 Blue Jays have won a World Series and NOT had a LHP in the starting rotation? Is this just a flukey stat?

Christina Kahrl: A lot depends on matchups. If your opponent doesn't have lefty hitting of much merit, and your best lefty starter was Shawn Estes, I don't think there's some timeless, immutable, graven-in-stone law that says you must start Estes to appease the baseball gods.

Greg Tamer (Indiana): I'm just looking for an explanation of why TA has become so scarce. It's a big part of the reason why I handed over my credit card a year ago and I've been disappointed that your promise wasn't kept. Quoting from your own site "Twice weekly, you'll receive Chris' complete, detailed analysis of every roster move in baseball. Who really won and who really lost in that trade or signing? Whose playing time got squeezed? Who's likely to be on the move next? Get Chris' unique perspective on all the moves with Baseball Prospectus Premium." Twice monthly seems more like it. Why?

Christina Kahrl: It's an extremely fair complaint, Greg, and one that I think has been resolved for this year. The twice-weekly schedule was targeted at spring training and in-season moves, and on that level, a promise was pretty much kept. Offseason, I'm usually mired in the book, not to mention this pesky day job, and this has been an unusually busy year for me personally. The unavailability of comprehensive, published lists of transactions makes for a lot of time-consuming searches through several resources. This year, by having an intern to help, not only will the twice-weekly schedule be easier to manage during spring training and in-season, it should be easier to take into the offseason.

Ben Oglivie Fan (JAX, FL): Complete this analogy: Ben Oglivie: Barry Bonds:: ___________: Willie Mays

Christina Kahrl: Gene Woodling? Nah, too many walks. How about Wes Covington?

Brian (Los Angeles): What's the best baseball book you've read that you suspect most of your readers are unfamiliar with?

Christina Kahrl: As a publisher, I'm biased, because my automatic answer would be Mark Armour and Dan Levitt's "Paths to Glory," which I published. In terms of books I had nothing to do with, I'm a big fan of Steve Fireovid's "The 26th Man," and George Castle's "The Million-to-One Team."

Sean (San Antonio, TX): I'm sure you have good intentions by not putting a young up-and-comer on the cover of BP this year, but have you considered the horrifying potential ramifications to the game of baseball itself if the cover curse continues?

Christina Kahrl: It was a marketing decision, and one we thought made sense, given that I used to call people, and they'd started suggesting other team's players. Given the presence of numbers in the background, it could just as easily mean the end of baseball analysis, with the Elias Sports Bureau running rampant and getting all these newfangled ideas out of our heads. Or not.

aaron (delmar): why are the yankees so evil? when is the gutting of the farm system and bloated payroll finally going to haunt them?

Christina Kahrl: Are the Yankees evil? I remember the Dave Collins Yankees, the snickerable Yankees, the Oscar Azocar follies, the hopeless hopes inspired by Kevin Maas or Chuck Cary, and I know Yankees fans who stuck with them through all of that. It isn't like they're the Reds these days. That's evil.

Anyway, they haven't really gutted the farm system to date, although they have given away people who are young.

Thaskins (CT): Why is the general public hammering the Red Sox for not getting A-rod while giving Texas a free pass? Boston established a budget and stuck to it. They stayed within their meanes. While Texas did not establish a budget and made the decision that they could now not afford A-Rod. I think Boston did the right thing

Christina Kahrl: I'm inclined to agree. Beyond the New York vs. Boston angle, I don't see why people haven't noticed that the Rangers really blew it. Soriano's a win now player, not a rising star, and they aren't going to win now. The prospect will not be someone of tremendous value. They've hurt themselves, and they're paying the Yankees for the privilege.

Will (Fredericton): Dear Lord. Chris, please give me one reason to watch baseball with the awesome lethality of its competitive imbalance.

Christina Kahrl: First, there's no competitive imbalance, except between the teams that get it or use their resources to maximum advantage (like the Yankees, A's, Braves, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Indians, all teams at different points, but all working to get better), and the ones who don't. The competitive environment is getting more competitive and more dynamic, and whatever shudders ripple through the game because the Boss is especially nervous in his giggling is more a sign of progress and desperation than of any deeper concern. The core product, baseball, is still tremendously fun to watch.

Rob in Wisconsin (Kenosha WI): Chris One last question, thanks for your time. Is Allan Selig and Co. allowing the State of Wisconsin to "audit" the Milwaukee Brewers' record books going to prove to be good, bad or indifferent for the game in the long run?

Christina Kahrl: I hadn't checked the latest news on this front, but it was my impression that the Seligs were trying to select who would review the books, and they've got the local pull to swing that. They were also fidgeting on related party transactions, reporting their own salaries, and all of the sort of dodges and perks that we'd love to know. While I'd love to see the books really opened, I doubt it'll happen to any tax-paying citizen's satisfaction, sort of like I seriously doubt that the team is up for sale.

dangor (New York): I know that you hold yourselves to a higher standard when writing the Prospectus but, with so many Fantasy enthusiasts buying your book, wouldn't it be useful to have a chapter devoted solely to that? Maybe discussing PECOTA's most likely breakouts or collapses and their fantasy implications?

Christina Kahrl: An excellent question, dangor, since we did once have a feature in the book, way back when, aimed at fantasy players. The good news for fantasy fans is that we'll be unveiling an online fantasy-oriented product shortly, and it involves most of the people I'd consider the brains of the operation, and not me. : )

Ryan Fiala (Normal, IL): Greg Maddux. How much? Where? What's the deciding factor? For which team would he be the best fit (out of all 30), based on park factors, defense around him, offensive support, pitching style, etc.?

Christina Kahrl: If I was Greg Maddux, my aim would be on getting to the World Series again, but apparently playing closer to home (in Nevada) was part of his wishlist. I'd think the Giants would make sense, or the D-backs, but if the Yankees offer $8M or more, that would be pretty tempting.

Ryan Fiala (Normal, IL): Greg Maddux. How much? Where? What's the deciding factor? For which team would he be the best fit (out of all 30), based on park factors, defense around him, offensive support, pitching style, etc.?

Christina Kahrl: If I was Greg Maddux, my aim would be on getting to the World Series again, but apparently playing closer to home (in Nevada) was part of his wishlist. I'd think the Giants would make sense, or the D-backs, but if the Yankees offer $8M or more, that would be pretty tempting.

Rob in Wisconsin (Kenosha WI): Chris The state put pressure on the team to allow them to appoint their own team to look over the books as well. 2 teams will look over certain information, with a Warren Commission type secrecy to the findings, unless something major is found. But i agree with your cynicism. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal hasn't been covering this as with the Dems in the area for the primary.

Christina Kahrl: Thanks, Rob, and I'd always be chary of trusting a near-monopoly news medium to really engage monied elites in a small burg, but that's in part because I'm an ex-Sacramentan with a bit too much dope on the Bee. : )

Thaskins (CT): I guess I should not be surprised but why the heck would the Twins tie up Doug Mientkiewicz for two years when they have Justin Morneau waiting at 1B?? If I'm running another team I drool over the possibility of getting him.

Christina Kahrl: I have to agree, there are bad ideas, epically bad ideas, and giving Minky lots of money-scale bad ideas. Maybe cost certainty in a swap, since there are teams (the Cardinals, for example) who could really use a first baseman, and fancy themselves contenders. That's the best case for Twins fans. Realistically, I think they'll let Morneau rot, like Cuddyer.

John Hall (Boston): Which managers get fired over the course of the season?

Christina Kahrl: I think there's plenty of danger for Bob Melvin, Larry Bowa, and Jimy Williams, because they're in spots where expectations are high. I would have thought Lloyd McClendon would have been on the list, but his extension seems to reflect an organization-wide fetal curl-up in Pittsburgh. Ozzie Guillen seems pretty combustible, although Kenny Williams can be stubborn about admitting a mistake. New GM/old manager combos can be combustible: I like Jim Tracy, but maybe he and DePo won't see eye-to-eye. It would be strange and unhappy, but being able to work together is key.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): What's the schedule for TA this spring and season? I would also like to see you taking some reader mail over the course of the season.

Christina Kahrl: Another fair criticism, Chris. There are some emails where I feel the need to respond personally, but not pass it along for a Mailbag, but generally speaking, last year was my worst at getting back to my readers, and I hope to do better this year.

Jonathan Adelman (Laramie, WY): At what point will there be a critical mass of saber-friendly GMs in the game, to the point where a team won't gain an extreme competitive advantage by adding one?

Christina Kahrl: A great question, to my mind, because it repeats a concern I raised in my last chat. Yes, I think there's a point where the competitive edge will be minimized, and I think we're not that far from that point. It'll make things that much more interesting, of course, and it'll keep arbitration on the periphery of roster and cost-management, but it'll be interesting.

Dave (Fresno): I am also an A's fan, and am excited that Depodesta gets a chance to further the sabremetric cause. Any moves you anticipate between the A's and Dodgers. Seems like an OBP guy would consider grabbing Esteban German to replace the sad state of affairs for Dodgers 2B spot, and Koonce is without a position for the A's but would look good at 1B for Dodgers.

Christina Kahrl: I think one thing you can count on is deals between Oakland and LA. This isn't something radical, but GMs deal with the people they understand and who understand them, which helps to create certain coteries or trading circles within the game. I'm not a big German fan--my affection for deutsche kunst und kultur aside--so if the boys in blue want him, in my book, they can have him. It'd be fun to see Koonce get a shot, certainly.

Dave (Dublin, Ireland): Hi, Chris. Which organization do you think will be the next to hire a GM in the general mould of Beane, Epstein, and DePodesta? And which organization do you think should be the next to hire such a GM? Thanks.

Christina Kahrl: Who should would be the Reds, if I had to pick, but that's years off, and they're busy running the franchise into the ground first. If not the Reds, then Tampa Bay, but it would have to be someone who can cater to Naimoli and the other Domers. Who will? Hmmmm, as a WAG, I'd say the Tigers, because I'm sure Dombrowski would eventually like to move back upstairs.

Jeff Brainard (Denver): Hi Chris, Love your transaction analysis, and it tears me up inside that there is nothing nice to say about my Rockies. With that, have you noticed (I have because I live here) that almost NONE of the moves this offseason come with a Dan O'Dowd remark or seal of approval? Clint Hurdle has had his stamp on every transaction and the local press leads one to believe he is actively recruiting and researching every move based on "character". O'Dowd made one weird comment that he simply is not qualified to evaluate that part of the game. Are the inmates running the asylum in Denver? Will Thad Levine get out alive? Thanks, as always.

Christina Kahrl: Thanks for the compliment Jeff. My sense is that the Rockies are about as adrift philosophically as a team can get. Having tried everything once for as long as days at a time, they seem to have given up on solving the Big Ballpark Issue, which is fine. As we've recommended for a couple of years, we'd like to see them just settle down into running a good organization, and worry about the park later on.

Scott (Olympia, WA): Will Billy Beane really sit tight with the lineup he has? Seems like a lot is riding on Dye making a comeback to protect Chavez in that lineup. And what about the evil, evil though of the Yanks adding Chavez next year, moving Jeter to 2nd?

Christina Kahrl: The Yankees would probably move Ozzie Smith if they got him. As for Billy, when has he ever sat tight? I expect changes in June, but not between now and Opening Day.

Christina Kahrl: Thanks for the questions, gang, and we'll do this again soon.

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