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Chat: David Laurila

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday February 04, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with David Laurila.


David Laurila interviews newsmakers past, present and future every Sunday in "Prospectus Q&A."

David Laurila: With pitchers and catchers reporting soon, welcome to another edition of BP chat. Before we start, congrats to all of you New York football Giants fans out there. I view Super Bowl 3 as having been a bigger upset, but last night was historically significant. So with Thurston Moore's latest CD on in the background, here we go.

Rich (Columbus,OH): Is anyone going to sign Julio Franco? He turns 50 in August, and his goal was to play until then.

David Laurila: My guess is that someone will give him that chance. Minnie Minoso was certainly a better player than Franco -- he had a lifetime 130 OPS+ -- but Franco was better after the age of 40. While Minoso's cameos came at ages 50 and 54, his "real" career ended at age 38.

Minoso trivia: His one base hit at age 50 or over came off Sid Monge.

Franco trivia: He has reached base all 4 times he has faced John Franco.

Franco trivia part 2: He went 1-for-7 in his career against Gaylord Perry, who is now 69 years old.

Chuck (Somerville, MA): Heard anything from Randy Newsom since Real Sports Investments returned investors' money?

David Laurila: I touched base with Randy yesterday, and BP readers can look forward to an update from him soon regarding RSI. Possibly as early as tonight in Unfiltered.

tycobb (ga): whats the eta on clayton kershaw reaching the majors

David Laurila: July 1, 2009. And all of baseball will be watching.

In Kevin Goldstein's recent profile of Kershaw, he notes that Kershaw went to the same high school as 1950s film star and playmate Jayne Mansfield. Those of you who like kitschy entertainment may want to check out her singing "That Makes It" on YouTube. And while he didn't play on that one, I believe that Jimi Hendrix played guitar on one her other singles.

anthonyjoseph (Chicago): Please rank in order of highest ceiling: Lincecum Buckholz Gallardo Chamberlain Bailey Fr. Morales

David Laurila: Questions like that are too subjective for me to answer with much conviction, but given the number of plus pitches in his repertoire, I'd go with Buchholz. That said, I think the most likely to reach his ceiling, and maintain it, might be Gallardo.

Of that group, does anyone else find it interesting that Lincecum has the only run-of-the-mill first name? Or that he was born the year the Replacements released their album "Let It Be" -- one year before they released "Tim"?

Meanwhile, yes, I know that Homer Bailey's name is actually David. I also know that Homer Smoot, who was among the NL leaders in home runs in 1902, was nicknamed "Doc." Given that some people have expressed health concerns regarding one or more pitchers on this list, perhaps that's ironic?

russadams (St. Cloud): I really enjoyed the interview with Glenn Williams. Getting that opportunity with the Twins a couple years back was fun to watch. I've heard he has a book coming out sometime. Any knowledge if this is true, and if so, any details?

David Laurila: Thanks. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

I recall reading that someone has the rights to his life story -- I forget where. So it wouldn't surprise me if a book is in the works.

Personally, I'm rooting for Glenn NOT to make it back to MLB. He has a record that may never be broken.

goiter6 (MN): So hypothetically, if halfway through halftime a flying saucer would have landed at midfield; then had Brittany Spears and Michael Jackson step out and sing Ebony and Ivory; then had them get back and take off - would the second half played out differently?

David Laurila: Come on G6, everybody knows that Paul McCartney did that duet with Michael. Or would McCartney have been driving the spaceship, making him the Michael Collins of the group?

Big Ben (Pittsburgh, PA): Do you like Pina Coladas??? Tell me that my commercial was one of the funniest ideas to ever come from Fox in awhile.

David Laurila: I hit the mute button every time a commercial came on, as I did for the halftime show. I watch sport for sport, not for what corporate marketing machines push. In other words, no idea.

tycobb (ga): if you could compare pedro alvarez to any current major leaguer,who would it be

David Laurila: Alex Gordon seems like the logical answer, and it makes sense to speculate whether the two might be teammates in a few years. While scouting directors primarily draft talent over need (the smart ones anyway), it's interesting that the teams at the top of this year's draft all have promising young third basemen: Evan Longoria, Neil Walker, and Gordon. Depending on your opinion of Billy Rowell, the team drafting 4th may have one themselves.

Just think what kind of draft the Red Sox would have had in 2005 had they been able to sign Alvarez after taking him in the 14th round. While they came away with Ellsbury, Buchholz, Hansen, Bowden, and Lowrie, not to mention a pair of unheralded kids in Mark Wagner and Reid Engel, the one thing the Red Sox don't in their talented farm system is a highly-regarded third base prospect.

DVGUST (chicago): Who will wind up closing for the cubs and how many saves do you predict for marmol, howry, wood, and/or dempster?

David Laurila: None of the above? Maybe Tim Lahey?

Looking at the NL Central, the Cubs certainly have a shot of going to the playoffs and maybe even......nah, better not say it. But if Bedard and Roberts somehow end up on the roster, and a dependable closer emerges, an awful lot is possible.

And no, I don't think Lahey will be the closer. He may well make the team, though. And he's a good story. A target for a Prospectus Q&A, actually.

jay (Madison): your thoughts on the near final O's/Mariners trade?

David Laurila: I see it as a win for both teams. Bedard was the best pitcher in the AL last year until getting hurt, and there's no reason he can't be again. He and a healthy King Felix would be a hell of a one-two punch.

The Orioles need an influx of young talent that can make an impact more than they need Bedard. Jones could regularly hit 40 in Camden Yards.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): Do you want to hear the funniest random fact of PECOTA's comparables? 2 of Carlos Pena's comparables are disturbingly ironic. 1 guy(Mike Epstein) was nicknamed "SuperJew"(per his wiki) and the other had a last name of Gentile(Jim Gentile).

David Laurila: BP readers are an interesting lot.

Or should that be interesting Lot?

Akiva (Teaneck, New Jersey): I'm a 17 year old kid with an unhealthy obsession with baseball statitistics. How would I begin to plan a career in the field?

David Laurila: Go to college, and while you're there look for an intern position with a minor league club. If Tufts (Randy Newsom's school, BTW), in the Boston area is an option, take Andy Andres's sabermetrics101 class.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): Do you believe that Carlos Pena's 2007 to be a fluke? Considering he hardly got any ABs in the 1st 2 months of last season before he put up the monsterous numbers.

David Laurila: Actually, going back to the previous question:

How do you define an "unhealthy" obsession with baseball statistics? Do you have a poster of Joe Sheehan on your bedroom wall? Or maybe Christina Kahrl? (hey, now there's a marketing idea!)

Carlos Pena was not a fluke last year; he simply paired more maturity with an opportunity.

TheRedsMan (Chicago): Outside of his height, why is Homer Bailey more highly regarded than Johhny Cueto. Cueto is striking out as many, walking fewer, and has thrown many more innings in a single season than Bailey. Obviously I'm happy to have both, but I can't help but think Bailey is still going to be trying to figure it out when Cueto is the Reds #3 starter.

David Laurila: Is it just height, or is it weight also? When it comes to pitchers, some would argue that size matters.

It wouldn't surprise me if Cueto is Cinci's number 3 starter this year. That said, it wouldn't shock me if Bailey is the number 2. Is it out of the question that the two could combine for 30 wins this season? Not in my opinion.

LindInMoskva (DC): Am I better off long term with 3 guys at the end of Kevin Goldstein's top 100 (Carter, Revere, etc) or with Ronnie Cedeno, Andy Marte, and Alexi Casilla?

David Laurila: Without double-checking, I believe that Kevin has Lars Anderson at #100, so yes. As in definitely yes.

Lars. Anderson. will. be. very. very. good.

Dennis (LA): Thanks for your great work. Your interview with Brian Bannister was one of the best things I read all year last year. Just wanted to ask you your opinion on two players: James Shields and Nick Swisher. What do you see in their futures and who do you think is the more valuable player?

David Laurila: Thanks, Dennis. Bannister makes any interviewer look good.

I recently had someone opine to me concern about Shields' mechanics, specifically that they haven't been consistent over the course of his career. Granted, that's not my opinion -- I'm only passing along what I heard -- but if true it poses a question.

Swisher can hit. Given a choice of the two, I'd take Swisher.

eric (oakland): once the bedard trade is done, does the market open up for blanton/street?? maybe to cubs, reds, red sox, etc?

David Laurila: Add Bedard and Street to the Cubs, and they are one of the teams to beat in the NL.

The Red Sox seem like a longshot for either. There's no such thing as too much pitching, but I'd be surprised if they gave up what it would take for either.

mark (chicago): a couple yrs down the line will A's regret trading swisher or will gio/dls/sweeney be that good??

David Laurila: I don't think they'll regret it unless there were better trade options they turned down. Kind of a simplistic answer, but rebuilding is rebuilding. I don't think they were going to win with Swisher in the short run.

george (seattle): best lower minor pitching staff in milb..Cahill/DLS/Anderson/Hrod/Leon/Italiano at high A stockton? any future top rotation guys there?

David Laurila: Paging Kevin Goldstein and Bryan Smith...

Seriously, this question is better saved for one of their chats. I could bluff an answer, but that's all it would be.

jay (boston): can lars anderson and chris carter (A's) jump into top 50-75 ranking for 09. better upside?

David Laurila: No question. I could see Lars jumping into the top 30, but for one thing: He's likely to spend this year in the hitter's paradise of high-A Lancaster, and will thusly get penalized for raking in a place you're supposed to rake. And given his age, a promotion to Double-A seems unlikely.

Yes, I'm on the Lars bandwagon.

murphy654321 (Waltham, MA): Random Trivia: who's more boring that you? A: No one.

David Laurila: BP readers are an interesting lot.

raygu1 (NJ): What are the chances Maybin begins the year in AAA?

David Laurila: It's certainy possible. If he doesn't look ready to contribute consistently in the bigs, the Marlins would be wise to give him more development time.

Stan (Chicago): Love the Q&As. What answer to a question you've asked surprised you the most?

David Laurila: I'm not sure that any one question stands out, but this is a good time to mention a few upcoming Q&As.

Following up on the Glenn Williams, another Australian player is on tap. He's currently pitching very well for NSW in the Claxton Shield tournament.

Doug Thorburn of the National Pitching Association is coming up. Doug specializes in motion analysis.

A member of the Cardinals front office has agreed to do an interview.

A professional scout in the Cubs organization is on my radar.

ichiro (seattle): is my crazy GM giving up more to the orioles than what was given up in the haren/santana deals?

David Laurila: I think it is mostly a matter of economics and circumstance. If I'm the Mariners, I want Bedard and will pay the price.

Zennith (Iowa City): When do you think Fernando Martinez will play his first major league game?

David Laurila: It would have been a lot sooner had he gone to the Twins instead of Gomez. One wonders how hard Minnesota tried to get him. Did they "settle" for Gomez, or actually prefer him? Hmmm...

john (vegas): rank the upside of these big time OF prospects recently traded. Gomez, Maybin, and Gonzalez?

David Laurila: Maybin, Gonzalez, Gomez.

dogtothedog (Toronto): Bret Cecil does he reach the majors in 08 do you like his future?

David Laurila: That would be a pretty big surprise, given that he's going into his first full season. My understanding is that he'll be starting, which makes Double-A a lot more feasible as his highest level in 2008.

rich harden (oakland): can i stay healthy for a season or am i another wood/prior? maybe i should be put in the BP and turn into a dominant closer. i'd throw harder than zumaya.

David Laurila: Paging Will Carroll....

I can't assess the injury issues, but I will say that moving him to the pen doesn't make much sense to me. Quality starters are more valuable than relievers, and is there a reason to believe he stays healthier as a short reliever?

Rob (Bloomington, IL): I am suffering from a horrific hangover after my Superbowl party got out of hand last night. Please give me some good news about the Cubs.

David Laurila: You'res till hungover in the afternoon? Man, that was some party. I at least hope that you were rooting for the Giants, which would make the pain more palatable.

Good news on the Cubs? Well, they're going into 2008 with a competitive team, they're in the middle of some tasty rumors (which are always fun), and pitchers and catchers report soon. That should tide you over, at least until you recover from last night.

raygu1 (NJ): What kind of numbers do you see Hermida and Kemp putting up this season? Can either or both do 25-90-.300?

David Laurila: If Hermida stays healthy, he can certainly do that -- probably more. Ditto Kemp.

eric chavez (oakland): get me to the dodgers, they are my childhood team. we all know colletti doesnt trust laroche, can we get this deal done by end of spring training?

David Laurila: Aren't you and Nomar both injury risks? I say Dave LaRoche's boy sees plenty of time at 3B this year and proves why he is a top prospect.

Does Torre trust LaRoche? That might be the more important question.

Tuber (The Underground): I'm in a sim keeper league. I have first pick in the draft. My offense is great but aging, my starting pitching is very thin. Who do you take: Braun J Upton Matsuzaka Gallardo Lincecum Chamberlain Buckholz Hughes

David Laurila: Matsuzaka is likely to win 20 games this year.

raygu1 (nj): speaking of the Cubs, who gets the call to close out game 1 for the Cubs in their season opener, and who gets the majority of save opps for the season?

David Laurila: Someone more or less asked this question earlier, and I think it's very much an unanswered question. If I'm the Cubs, I'm on the phone asking what it would take to get Street.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): I'm a Rays fan and I'm serious when I predict that the Rays are better put together than both Baltimore and Toronto. Am I psycho in stating that the Rays are no worse than a .500 team and will finish 3rd in the AL East?

David Laurila: Baltimore yes. Toronto no.

The Rays are getting closer, but they're not there yet. A year from now, I expect that I'll agree with you.

dogtothedog (Toronto): I hold the first pick in my mlb draft which is not a keeper league who do i take??

David Laurila: Are you allowed to trade down?

jlarsen (DRays Bay): Could Shields' changing mechanics be due to him regaining velocity and control post-surgeries(I think he's had one kind of reconstructive surgery already)?

David Laurila: This might be a good question for Doug Thorburn. I'll put it on the list, as it's better to get an expert opinion than my own.

murphy654321 (Waltham, MA): So... Bucholtz is the pitcher with the highest upside in baseball... big Lars fan... Dice-K going to win 20... You wouldn't be a sox fan would you?

David Laurila: Yes I am. But the correct spelling is Buchholz.

dogtothedog (Toronto): When looking at how the Oakland A's are rebuilding it looks to me like they are doing it the right way in trading away everything they have being terrible for a few years in exchange for a shot at a division tittle in a 3 or 4 years. Why don't more teams completly rebuild like this do we just not see this very often because few GM's have the job security that Bill Beane has? or what other reasons are there?

David Laurila: I'm sure that job security is part of it, as is public perception. Fans seem to want rebuilding to be tempered with some chance of competing in the near term. It's understandable, because losing is no fun, but that doesn't mean you can have it both ways.

Mike (Dallas): Are the Angels currently tying to deal an outfielder? Couldnt one of Rivera or Willits bring back a decent bullpen arm?

David Laurila: They could bring a useful arm, sure. Reliever results are often unpredictable and variable, so it's a matter of good scouting and a little luck to find the right ones.

Willits and Freel are similar, aren't they? I had never really pondered that until now.

Andrew (Boston): what's your favorite song of the replacements?

David Laurila: I don't have it handy to check the song titles, but it would be something on Let It Be.

doog7642 (Blaine, MN): Baseball's next star closers are...?

David Laurila: Joba Chamberlain.

dogtothedog (Toronto): no im not allowed to trade down.

David Laurila: I guess I'd go with Pujols or A-Rod.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): Do you see it possible or feesible that the Rays would take a chance and package a deal for Blanton, Harang or Street in a midseason trade? The Rays have the firepower in the farm system to package prospects together and not worry about killing the farm system, now the ownership has shown the willingness to take chances and spend money.

David Laurila: It would probably depend somewhat on the contract situations of the players in question. If you're making a deal that means finishing 6 games out of a playoff berth instead of 16, it doesn't make sense if it hurts you down the road. If it makes you stronger going into the following season(s) it's a different story.

Mike (Tampa): Doesnt Wakefield do considerably better against hitters in their first at bats compared to their second and third time around? Maybe the Sox should consider letting Wake start, get the first nine outs or so then bring in Buchholz and let him pitch four or five innings.

David Laurila: Interesting. I've heard similar ideas, although not specifically about Wakefield. If the Red Sox want to keep Buchholz's innings down, this idea has merit. Of course, Francona would face a lot of pressure having to decide if Wake gets pulled after pitching four or five scoreless innings.

Hal Incandenza (in here): hi please rank the following french novelists, long term: h-balz, dumas, g-flaub, v-hug, g-sand, and the prouster. thnaks!!

David Laurila: I prefer the Russians, and will go Dostoevsky and Nabokov one-two. Crime and Punishment & Laughter in the Dark are favorites.

raygu1 (nj): I am Joe Torre. You are Juan Pierre. Make a case for playing everyday over Andre Ethier.

David Laurila: I can't. It's not that Pierre can't be a valuable player, but not every day in left field. But you know that, and I think Ned Colletti does too.

murphy654321 (Waltham, MA): Can a ranking of Russian novelists that doesn't include Alexander Solzhenitsyn be considered valid?

David Laurila: You honestly think he's better than Dostoevsky and Nabokov?

Tommy (TheStatPack): Do you think David Price will be in the Rays rotation at seasons end?

David Laurila: Only if it's to get his feet wet in September. If they feel it would behoove him developmentally, which would include his innings this summer being relatively light, we may see it.

PSzucs (Toronto, Ontario): Really? You want Joba to close?

David Laurila: I think that's where he would be most dominant. If he starts this year, his innings will (or at least should) be a concern. Plus, as he's a power pitcher he'll likely reach a high pitch count by mid-game fairly often. What is more valuable, a five-inning pitcher or a guy getting big outs in the 8th and 9th inning?

Mike (NJ): Garza or Homer Bailey, '08 and longterm?

David Laurila: Boy, that's a tough one because I like both. Forced to choose, I'll take Garza. I think the Rays were wise in acquiring him.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): More likely to be a 30-30 player for the Rays next year: BJ Upton(30 HRs, 30 Stolen Bases) or Jason Bartlett(30 SBs, 30 Errors)?

David Laurila: BJ. He's a special player.

Rob (Bloomington, IL): Yeah, I was rooting for the Giants. That's what made everything get so crazy. Have you considered trying to track down Kosuke Fukudome for a Q&A? He seems like an ideal candidate, if you can get a translator.

David Laurila: I'd first ask around to see what his reputation is regarding interviews. I interviewed Okajima last summer (through a translator), and while he was perfectly pleasant, he really didn't have an awful lot to say.

Pete (Olney, MD): Here's a vote for "not boring". Please help me out with the rumored Roberts to the Cubs trade, reported to be centered around Pie or Colvin. The O's presumably just received a plus plus defender in CF, why acquire another and move one to LF where he would have far less value?

David Laurila: There are a number of questions about Cubs rumors, and I'm not sure I have great answers for many of them. I can really only speculate and think aloud about relative value, but my scope of knowledge is no better than many of you. If nothing else, BP has savvy readers.

That might be my lamest answer yet, but I get points for honesty...

mgibson (DC): Brothers Karamazov > Crime and Punishment Bend Sinister/Lolita > Laughter in the Dark And no, Solzhenitsyn isn't close. Don't forget: Dead Souls (Gogol) Moscow-Petushki (aka Moscow Circles; Venedikt Yerofeev) Tolstoy

David Laurila: Tansparent Things is also very good. A terribly underrated Nabokov novel.

Actually, now that this subject is being discussed, did Nabokov actually write in French?

Dave B. (Lowell, MA): Who are you hoping to pick in the fantasy draft over at Sox Prospects'? The catching options are getting insane and it is only the 2nd round.

David Laurila: People are actually back picking over there? Man, it's been a snail's pace.

murphy654321 (Waltham, MA): Wait a tick, you're a fellow Michigander? Where did you go to school? Say eh to the U.P.

David Laurila: You see, the hard line questions stop once they realize you're from the land of George Brunet, Dick Pole and Kevin Tapani.

collins (greenville nc): If murphy654321 (waltham, MA) were a baseball player, which one would he be?

David Laurila: Maybe he IS a baseball player?

mgibson (DC): If memory serves, Nabokov wrote his earlier works in Russian, his later ones in English (though he translated his own books in both directions, sometimes with the help of his son Dmitri). Because he was born into an elite St. Petersburg family, he learned English and French from a young age (the Nabokovs had English governesses). Don't believe any of his well-known works were originally written in French, though Lolita was first published in France.

David Laurila: Like I said earlier, BP readers are an interesting lot. Impressed I am.

Going back to French writers, John Berger's Into Their Labours trilogy was great. Reminds me that I don't read nearly enough these days.

TGisriel (Baltimore): If the Bedard trade is completed, what should the O's be looking for in a trade for Roberts? Or should the O's keep him as the "veteran presence"?

David Laurila: Going back to the Oakland rebuilding questions, does a veteran presence really mean that much if you're not contending? I mean, yes -- you want well-respected veterans to help the kids along, but a guy like Roberts has more value as a trade chip.

Ben (Ohio): Thoughts on the Curtis Granderson deal? 5 years, 30.25 million with a 6th year team option. Not bad for one of the top 4 CF in the league. Buys out his arby years plus 1-2 FA years.

David Laurila: I need to wrap up, as my daughter is now home from school. I'll close with this question, as Granderson might be my favorite player in the game.

Granderson is worth every penny of that. When you look at the money being thrown around to far inferior players, it's a no-brainer.

Thanks for stopping by to chat. Sorry for the questions I didn't get to, and sorry for the little side trips to Russian literature and music.

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