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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday February 07, 2008 2:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.


Joe Sheehan's Spring Training Previews are running this week at Baseball Prospectus.

Joe's chat has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. ET.

Joe Sheehan: Going to get off to a slow start here for a few minutes, but it'll pick up by 2:15 ET. Thanks for waiting.

tycobb (ga): any thoughts on nathan schierholtz?

Joe Sheehan: He's the new Lance Niekro. He never walks and he has, at best, middling power. I don't think he's worth putting on the roster, much less starting. If he gets time ahead of Fred Lewis...I mean, the Giants will be bad enough without thosekinds of mistakes.

deadmonkeyhead (eh): You said in your AL West spring training preview that the Angels were the 6th or 7th best team in the league. I'll give you Yanks, Sox, Tribe, and Tigers, but who are the other one or two?

Joe Sheehan: I think the Blue Jays are right there. That's a team that would be a favorite or co-favorite in three other divisions. Swapping Glaus for Rolen plays to their strength, a groundball-heavy pitching staff.

I don't think there's a case for the White Sox, Twins or Rays, so let's say the Angels are neck-and-neck for fifth.

Eusebio (Houston): Who would you give the Yankees first base job to?

Joe Sheehan: Jason Giambi. I'd at least start with that, rotate the three non-Melky OFs through the DH slot and see what happens. The on-campus candidates for first base are kind of a joke.

mwanders (Moscow, ID): Not a lot of news from the RedSox camp. It seems they are basically standing pat going into the '08 season. Apparently Theo is comfortable with the position players he has? Does he has something up his sleeve this spring? What are your thoughts about the recent aquisition of Sean Casey and is he a good fit? I am also curious about their situation at SS and their highly touted prospect Jed Lowrie? Is Lugo on the bubble?

Joe Sheehan: Casey isn't as bad an idea as I thought it was at first glance. He's a lousy regular, of course. His skill set--line drives--makes him a fairly good PH option against righties, and he can play first, with Youkilis moving to third, 20 times a year so Lowell gets a breather.

For whatever it's worth, people genuinely love the guy. Then again, Luis Gonzalez had that rep two years ago, too.

The Red Sox are making their changes from within...Buchholz, Ellsbury, eventually Lowrie, Masterson, Anderson...just a terrific organization right now.

WillMeier (Muskegon, MI): Bill James HOF book showed that about 10% of at bats have gone to hall of famers over the years other than the '20s and '30s, which were higher. This seems like a good barometer. It also seems the '80s & '90s will be lower than this. I think the bar has been raised too high, c.f. Alan Trammell and Tim Raines. Your thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: It does seem that the BBWAA has become more picky over the years--but then again, they've elected Tony Perez, Bruce Sutter and, next year, Jim Rice. Hard to say they're upholding a standard.

Remember that we're not dealing with complete information yet. Only players who ended their careers by 1988 have gone through a full ballot cycle. No one has been elected by the VC yet, and that system will change four more times before lunch.

chip (cleveland): So, you're really more worried about the indians lack of lineup depth than the tigers pitching depth?

Joe Sheehan: No, I'm more worried about the Indians' lineup than the Tigers' pitching depth. Blake/Gutierrez/leftfielder is really weak, and you also have a question as to what you'll get from second base.

Drew W (Vienna VA): At this point in his career, is it reasonable to expect a healthy Bobby Crosby to be league-average?

Joe Sheehan: He has about a .220 EqA in his last 750 or so PAs, and he's 28 years old. I think you can expect .245 and hope for .260. Unless his defense is great--it hasn't been--that's just a guy. He's someone to trade the second he picks up some trade value.

Chris (Hoboken): Any chance Juan Rivera gets 500 ABs for someone in 2008?

Joe Sheehan: Pretty clearly not the Angels. Keep in mind that his career high is 448, and at age 30, he's been a regular exactly three times. I wouldn't give him that much playing time.

Mike (Utica,NY): In your opinion, do you think Colby Rasmus can win the center field spot in spring training or does St. Louis send him to AAA and call him up in May when St.Louis is 10 games out of 1st.

Joe Sheehan: From a personnel management standpoint, there's no reason to bring him up before June 15 or so. The Cards aren't winning anything this year, so let him tear up Triple-A for 10 weeks, while you save money down the road.

Frank (Singapore): What's your take on the Buc's signing Freddy Sanchez to a 2+1 deal - to me it seems like a good move for both parties?

Joe Sheehan: I'm underwhelmed. He's 30, plays a position at which guys age poorly, and if he hits .285 he kills you. It's a pretty irrelevant move.

There's no way he triggers the 2010 option (635 PA in 2009, I believe), so you've saved two arb hearings.

AJ (Columbus): Do you think Frank Thomas hitting 4th could affect Toronto's offense more than the average batting order decision? I can't understand why they would want him clogging up the bases ("clogging" doesn't even do it justice really), especially if Rolen/Overbay are pounding out 40+ 2b's again.

Joe Sheehan: The Jays' lineup last year was as slow as could be imagined. Looking to this year, only Rios is fast, and four or five guys are just troglodytes. There's not much way to keep from having a slow guy in front of guys with pop.

Shaudenfreude (Germany): The 1st overall pick in the 2009 draft will be made by _______.

Joe Sheehan: the Pirates.

Pat (Indiana): What do you see in Lee Gronkiewicz to make him the NRI to watch?

Joe Sheehan: Purely a stat play. I saw one of his outing last year with the Jays, and can't tell you much from a scouting perspective. He's put up some terrific K/BB numbers in the minors, though, and his career minor-league performance marks him as someone who can contribute.

I think pitchers with great K/BB are my version of scouts' love of guys who can run.

Brecken (Chicago): How warped is GM thinking? I'm thinking about this with the Santana (and even Tejada) trades. I can't believe once the Twins decided they "had" to move him, that that's all they got. I agree with people who say - take Adam Jones straight up (other than maybe the psychological impact of making him the "1" to pair up for comparison). It seems like the Dodgers could have given them something better if they really wanted to switch leagues... It really feels like they just decided - "Hey, we can say we took the best of Team X's farm system. Combined with ours, we're in good shape." But it ignores the fact that Team X has a weak system. Do you think GMs show this kind of weakness?

Joe Sheehan: I suspect that no team wants to trade a star for one prospect, no matter how great he is. Most teams are trying to get the money from fans who know major leaguers, and while the top of the pyramid knows that there's a difference between Adam Jones and Carlos Gomez, the average fan doesn't. So getting four guys is a better sell.

To answer the actual question...no. Teams are savvy enough to evaluate prospects on their merits, and not in the context of a specific farm system. The Twins know what they traded for.

jchilds (philly): Can Brandon Jones start over Matt Diaz in LF for the Braves? If so, what kind of numbers do you expect?

Joe Sheehan: He's more fourth outfielder for me than starter. You could platoon the two, although Diaz doesn't have much of a split. I'm not sure why you'd want to replace Diaz, necessarily, although he does need a caddy on defense.

Orioles (Baltimore, MD): First overall pick in 2009? Don't forget about us! If Bedard/Roberts are traded our second best hitter is Luke Scott and our fourth starter is Brian Burres.

Joe Sheehan: Good point. This could be like the 1979 World Series again. Only the exact opposite.

Creepy Crawly (Los Angeles): Joe, shouldnt major league GM's require that their managerial candidates play in some simulation leagues in order to develop a better sense of the value of particular strategies? I'm serious.

Joe Sheehan: If baseball teams were run like businesses, sure. Bill James first suggested this two decades ago, and he was as right then as he is now.

This also goes back to my particular hobby horse, that the job of "baseball manager" requires such disparate skills that no one man will have them all. So why not have a front guy, a Dusty Baker or someone who's a leader of men and who the media loves, and then get coordinators for the other stuff?

I'll tell you right now that I couldn't be a major-league manager. But could I (or Bill Meinhardt, or Stan Suderman, or Nate Silver) run the game decisions better than some or even most of them? I'd take that bet. Even factoring in the knowledge sets the sims don't cover, which can be learned, sim managers simply understand the "engine of baseball" better than MLB managers, as a pool.

Bryan (Hyattsville): Thoughts on King Felix for this year?

Joe Sheehan: Love him. He's probably going to take a step forward in his command this season, lop off 20 walks or so. Throw in some regression in BABIP, and you've got a Cy Young contender.

Adam J. Morris (Houston, Texas): Kevin Goldstein recently said that makeup is a critical element in determining the success of a prospect. Would you agree or disagree with that?

Joe Sheehan: Sure.

Now, define "makeup." Because I've never seen a definition that wasn't circular.

Instead of "makeup," why not put real words to the concept? "Polite"..."hard worker"..."coachable"...or from the other side..."difficult"..."lazy"..."unwilling to learn."

Without specifics, "makeup" is a BS dump. The specifics are critical.

Dexter Fishmore (New York, NY): As a UCLA fan, I'm worried about tonight's game against Washington State. Mbah a Moute is out, the team had a difficult trip northward and arrived in Pullman late last night, and the Cougies are desperate to right their ship with a win. Do you predict a WSU upset?

Joe Sheehan: I was with you until the last word.

While I would not say "there are no upsets in college basketball when the home team wins," the truth is pretty damn close to that. So if Wazzu wins tonight--and they can--it's not remotely an upset.

It's tiring when "upset" is defined as "lower-ranked team winning" when the polls are nonsense and no attention is paid to location. The word loses all it's meaning.

discodan (sacto): Joe: Aren't we in danger of entering a new era of competitive imbalance preicsely because sabermetric approaches are invading front offices leaguewide, therefore somewhat cancelling each other out and leaving behind the revenue imbalances?

Joe Sheehan: Well, that's supposed to be happening. However, the Angels and Rockies, as nonprogressive as any organizations, picked up a quarter of the playoff spots last year. The Phillies aren't exactly run by Fox and Lichtman and they made it, too.

The only structural argument I might buy is the AL East, and even then, I'm not convinced. The Red Sox are run extremely well, and the Yankees...well, they have mostly been run well.

Let me put it this way: is competitive imbalance due to revenue gaps a worse situation than the fact that the NL Central is 50% larger than the AL West?

ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi Joe- With the Yanks 1st base situation, does that mean they win the Teixeira sweepstakes after the season?

Joe Sheehan: With central-fund revenues being what they are, I think we're learning that predicting who will be a free agent eight months out is a mistake. Remember how great this last class was supposed to be at one time?

No, the Braves aren't likely to sign Teixeira. However, they could trade him to a team that would. So I wouldn't bet on anything happening.

Peter (Boston): What do you expect from Fausto Carmona this year? His strikeout rate steadily improved over the course of the season...

Joe Sheehan: Very few pitchers are as good as Carmona was last year, so you can expect some fallback, maybe to an ERA in the mid-3.00s. You're correct that his K rate improved in-season, which it appeared to me at the time wasn't a fluke; he was figuring things out.

akachazz (DC): Joe, You did a great job on the Fantasy 411 last October. Do you think we can look forward to hearing you more regularly on the show this season?

Joe Sheehan: Hope so. Mike and Cory do a great show, and I'm proud to be a part of it when I can.

Greg (Iowa City): On the subject of college basketball, does duke really deserve to be ranked number 2? I know they beat Carolina, but that's a tough sell for me.

Joe Sheehan: There's just no way to talk about that game last night without bringing up the absence of Ty Lawson. With all due respect to Duke, they played a team with no point guards. They won, but the nagging question of what would have happened lingers in my mind.

They're #2 because the polls are silly. Kansas loses on the road to a top-15 team and falls four spots? Please. And that's before I make my point that the last people qualified to evaluate other teams in season are coaches obsessing over their own.

(For those of you wondering, I do occasional pieces for Basketball Prospectus, and am taking some questions for that today.)

Dan (Cincy): Joe, is there any excuse for not starting Jay Bruce on Opening Day? Is there anything left for him to learn in the minors?

Joe Sheehan: Packing. Unpacking. Cliches. Differentiating among nice girls, groupies and...others. Sleeping in Holiday Inns.

The difference between the Cards and Reds is that the Reds really could catch lightning in a bottle this year, so playing Bruce from the start makes sense. Why give away wins with Norris Hopper?

Hiroki (Seattle): What kind of avg/obp/slu line can we expect out of Fukudome?

Joe Sheehan: .285/.390/.440. I have him hitting for less power than most, but then again, almost all Japanese hitters have experienced that. Even Matsui didn't hit for much power as a rookie.

NBA Fans (Everywhere): A bit general, but what is the appeal in college basketball? Is it not incredibly disorganized and sloppy?

Joe Sheehan: As opposed to 2/3 of the teams running the same offense? I guess.

The intensity of college basketball dwarfs that of the NBA. I don't think you can expect NBA players, with the travel and the longer schedule, to mimic what college players bring in that regard.

I also think the greater variety of styles helps. This is one area in which the NBA has caught up in the last couple of seasons.

Put it this way. I see a lot of NBA games in which the average player is moving about as quickly as a PGA golfer walking up the fairway.

jcooney (NY): Does Crisp for Nathan make sense?

Joe Sheehan: No. The Twins have no reason to trade for a one-year CF.

Nathan for Lowrie, now...

Joe (Washington, DC): Hi Joe. In your opinion, what's the most surprising thing that's happened this offseason?

Joe Sheehan: The lack of brutal contracts. There were a couple of bad ones, but nothing like we've seen in the past few winters. And you still have a Kyle Lohse out there, a year too late, trying to get paid.

Collectively, the market was smarter this winter.

Mark (CT): I know this sounds like a football question, but the phenomenon of how sensitive perceptions can be to random events shows up in baseball all the time. If the Patriots stop the Giants on their final drive (and it almost happened, more than once) Tom Brady is the game MVP and everyone is talking about how he hung in there and came through in the clutch. Do you think postseason baseball is more random in this way than other sports?

Joe Sheehan: Or if the Pats pick up one of the two fumbles that were on the ground, or if they hold on to any of about six Eli Moments that various defenders had in their hands?

Even moreso than baseball, football is married to the whole "winners win because they're better people" meme. The separation between teams tends to be wider, but there's no question that the final score and the subjective quality of play, or the gap between "best" and "champion," can be just as wide in the NFL as in MLB.

Ameer (Bloomington, IN): How much more embarassing can the ongoing Clemens saga get? Am I the only one that thinks each new move in this legal battle makes things that much worse?

Joe Sheehan: I know I shouldn't admit this, but I'm not following this story at all. I don't understand why Congress is involved, I don't know what I'm supposed to be trying to learn, and I don't know how seven-year-old medical equipment is supposed to be proof of some kind?

When do pitchers and catchers report?

Peter Frampton (Suburbia): If youre Sabean who is your 5th starter, Correia, Sanchez, or Misch?

Joe Sheehan: Correia has the most now value, while Sanchez has the most upside. I'd like to see them spot Sanchez in favorable situations--bad teams in tough parks--12 times to develop him. Teams don't do enough of that stuff.

Honestly, baseball analysis may or may not be dead, but creativity within the game certainly is. Thirty teams, one approach. MLB managers make NFL coaches seem like risk-takers.

jmurph79 (DC): Boston papers reporting Schilling has a serious shoulder injury and might be out for the year. Your thoughts? (Hope this isn't a repeat- my browser crashed)

Joe Sheehan: Lots of questions in this vein. I don't know anything you don't know.

No team in baseball is better prepared for something like this. Buchholz is available, and Julian Tavarez is around for swing/injury work.

David (Los Angeles, CA): Why do people keep suggesting that the Red Sox obtain Nathan? We have a closer who's younger and cheaper already. What I want to know is, how do you feel about the rest of the Sox bullpen with the new additions?

Joe Sheehan: That's an awfully good question. The Sox are pretty set in the seventh through ninth innings. Getting Nathan would be gilding the lily.

The only new addition is Aardsma, who looks like the fourth-best righthander. Maybe. It's a deep bullpen, and an effective one.

James (BK): Articles are floating around that Johan's deal has altered the Sabathia situation... But does Johan really set the market? Isn't there industry consensus that the Giants wildly overpaid for Zito? Given the exceptional nature of the circumstances of Johan's contract, will that really form some sort of precedent for CC? Or should we look to Zambrano, Peavy, and Oswalt as true standard-bearers? Moreover, of the teams that could afford the 100m+ price tag (Boston/NY/Detroit/Angels/Dodgers/Giants/Cubs), I don't see, in any of these cases, reason to believe, given the respective stages of each of those franchises, they'd shell out for CC when the time comes. Do you?

Joe Sheehan: The X factor here is that Sabathia has to throw another 220 innings before reaching the market. How those innings go--and how many of them he pitches--will establish whether he's up near Santana or more like the guys you mention.

Remember, none of those four signed a deal on the open market. Zito did, which explains the difference.

And yes, I could see all of those teams willing to pay the price for Sabathia. I would, in fact, make the Dodgers a favorite to do so.

Martin (New Jersey): Now that Santana is out of the American League who do you see as the early favorite to win the Cy Young? Will Sabathia repeat or will someone step up and knock him off his perch?

Joe Sheehan: John Lackey and Felix Hernandez are atop my list. Justin Verlander, because of the run support.

Chief Nocahoma (Etowah, GA): If the Bedard trade ever goes through, will Adam Jones play SS or OF for the Orioles? If OF, would the Orioles deal for a real prospect SS who's currently blocked, like the Braves' Lillibridge?

Joe Sheehan: Given that the Orioles have neither a center fielder nor a shortstop, I suspect they'll leave Jones in the outfield.
Brent Lillibridge will be unblocked by July, I think. It's a good idea to go get him, but I fail to see a single Oriole (Bedard excepted, of course) the Braves would trade for.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Will PETA be outside Shea for each of Pedro's starts? Any on-field fallout from this?

Joe Sheehan: Seriously. We need pitchers and catchers. Can we hire some for the weekend?

kcboomer (Kansas City): To me the only way the Royals record improves this year is if Greinke, Gordon and Butler all step up. Any serious chance of that??

Joe Sheehan: Absolutely. I don't know if their record will improve, but I expect all three of those guys to be more valuable in 2007. Greinke is kind of Oswalt Lite, while Butler can just rake.

It's a nice core.

Mike (Chicago): Lou Piniella's lineup(as reported on cubs.com), soriano, theriot, lee, ramirez, fukudome, derosa, soto, pie. PECOTA's two lowest obps in the group= soriano and theriot. Why sign a left handed hitting guy to play RF and get on base if you are going to waste it this way?

Joe Sheehan: See earlier answer about "the engine of baseball" and whether managers really understand it.

Lineups supposedly don't matter than much, but I just can't see how the above doesn't just kill. If that's what Piniella is doing, it increases the Cubs' need for Roberts.

Ameer (Bloomington, IN): In Jay Jaffe's article today, I noticed that Carlos Zambrano was ranked as the 3rd most valuable pitcher in baseball (warp3) for the past 5 years. I'm a huge cubs fan and this still surprised me. Would you have guessed he was in this spot?

Joe Sheehan: He's been exceptionally durable and he gains a lot of value with his bat. I don't know that I would have guessed it, but I can't say I'm surprised by it.

Jeremy (St. Paul, Minnesota): Who do you think will have the better year, Evan Longoria or Alex Gordon?

Joe Sheehan: Evan Longoria, and I say that as someone who's still pretty enthused about Gordon. Longoria is a decent approximation of Edgar Martinez.

southpaw360 (Bellingham WA): Are the Mariners getting taken in the proposed Bedard trade? Jones, Sherill, Tillman, Butler and Mickolio seems like an awful lot of potential to give up for Bedard. Is this the best package of players that has changed teams this off-season?

Joe Sheehan: A's fans might disagree, but I'd say it is. (I really have no idea why the Orioles are after Sherrill, however.) Adam Jones is the best prospect to be traded this offseason, and the rest of that package, especially Tillman, is pretty valuable.

Are the Mariners getting taken? Well, I wouldn't make this deal, and I strongly suspect they're overrating their chances off of an inflated 88-74 2007 season. They weren't that good. They think they've made themselves a 92-win team, and it's actually more like turning 80 into 84.

ElAngelo (White Plains, NY): Which of these teams that are 100-1 or greater to win the World Series has the best shot at simply making the postseason: Rangers, A's, Giants, O's, Nats, Marlins, Rays, Pirates, Royals?

Joe Sheehan: Either the Rangers because it's a four-team division, or the Giants because maybe Cain and Lincecum go absolutely nuts on the league.

heavens to merkatroid (santa ana): Joe: make sure you're sitting down when you read this....Hank Smith won the Star World Championship for the 2nd year in a row. Give a shout out.

Joe Sheehan: Shout out given. Hank's a popular player and a tournament vet, and deserves kudos.

http://www.startournaments.com. Well-run events, check it out.

Louis (Akron, Oh): Do the Indians have the prospects to pull off an Adam Dunn deal? Doesn't that make absolute perfect sense? Is Shoppach for Dunn a pipe dream?

Joe Sheehan: He's not the type of player the Indians typically pursue. He would, however, be a good fit for them.

The Reds seem likely to keep Dunn until they know they can't win in 2008. When they do decide to deal him, I can't help but think they'd want to do it out of state.

Ben F (California): Does WARP really include offensive contributions for pitchers? I didn't realize that.

Joe Sheehan: Yup. WARP includes pitching, defense and hitting for everyone.

bigten (Milwaukee): Who wins the NL Central in 2008? Any chance two clubs punch a ticket to the post-season from this division?

Joe Sheehan: I like the Cubs to repeat, and the Brewers will be in the WC mix.

lmajersik (Ann Arbor): If Bonds signs a one year contract with a team tomorrow, how much do you think the contract would be worth? I would be exstatic if my Tigers signed him, ate Jacque Jones' contract, and rotated Bonds and Sheff through DH and LF.

Joe Sheehan: You're underestimating what Jones' range means in that park. He can still run a bit, and that's a tough left field. I wouldn't want to have to use Sheffield and Bonds out there regularly.
Barry Bonds can still help many teams. It's a shame that the circus surrounding him--to a small extent his own doing--has obscured that.

Jules (TheStatPack): Are you going to be at the Rays FanFest on the 23rd?

Joe Sheehan: I will not. I had hoped to go, but that's BracketBusters Saturday, so I'll be watching mid-majors collide. (Drake beats Butler.)

gregds80 (San Luis Obispo, CA): Did the Giants blow it by not taking flier on Dallas Mcpherson? Could Wilson Betemit become available? The Giants are a mess at the corner infield spots, any hope for a change?

Joe Sheehan: No.

uptick (st. louis): any thoughts on how Posada will do this year?

Joe Sheehan: More like his 2006 line, as the batting average retreats to normal levels. His walk rate and power should stay about the same.

oira61 (San Francisco): Joe: Why basketball prospectus? The sport defies the kind of statistical research that actually impacts the game -- but that's the kind of research that makes Baseball Prospectus interesting. Will you eventually do Hockey Prospectus and NASCAR Prospectus?

Joe Sheehan: Actually, as you read the work done by Ken Pomeroy, Kevin Pelton, Bradford Doolittle, or the pioneering research by a Dean Oliver, you see that it doesn't. You can break down basketball, if not as adroitly as you can baseball, certainly well enough to learn about the game.

We're always looking to expand on what we do, to bring performance analysis and good writing to other sports.

ThatRogue (USA): How do you see a couple of young, formerly highly touted outfield prospects (who've lost a slight bit of their luster) doing this season, considering the experience they got by playing last season? Specifically, I am inquiring about Lastings Milledge and Chris Young (AZ)? Thanks!

Joe Sheehan: Chris Young had 32 homers, 27 steals and played center field for a division titlist, so I'm not really seeing lost luster. He'll improve on his secondary skills, and perhaps his contact rate, becoming more valuable.
Lastings Milledge can play, and will be the everyday CF for the Nationals, hitting in the .280-.290 range with some walks, good power and speed.

uptick (st. louis): Should the Braves take a look at Lillibridge at SS, with either Escobar or K. Johnson playing at 2B?

Joe Sheehan: Absolutely. Lillibridge does everything better than Escobar, right now, and should be given a fair shot to win the shortstop job. Escobar is a reasonable utility infielder who is stretch as a starter, despite last year's high BA.

Into the lightning round...

dogtothedog (Toronto): Barry Bonds to Toronto? good fit?

Joe Sheehan: Good fit, even if it exacerbates a logjam at LF/DH. The Jays need the offensive help.

sndvl99 (Tarzana, CA): What are your thoughts on Adrian Gonzalez? It seems that all he really need to do to have a monster year is to increase his walk total.

Joe Sheehan: It's not like it'll bounce up too much, at least his UIBBs. The park holds down his numbers, and he derives a lot of value from his defense, both of which make him underrated. Good player without much growth left.

LindInMoskva (DC): If Cedeno goes to Baltimore will he play SS? Will he resemble something of major league quality?

Joe Sheehan: I think he's a average, slightly-above defender who'll hit .270/.330/.390. That can play. It looks like Honus Wagner compared to the available options.

erbacaine (Milwaukee): Eric Gagne over/under 35 saves

Joe Sheehan: Under, and I'll take out a loan to make that bet.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): Zimmerman will be a better player than Wright in '08?!! Where can I get some of whatever you're smoking!? (Care to explain that prediction?)

Joe Sheehan: Zimmerman might be two wins better on defense. He's just a vacuum over there. Throw in that he's 23 with 1200 PAs behind him, and there's offensive growth coming.

erbacaine (Milwaukee): rickie weeks over/under 30 Homeruns

Joe Sheehan: Under, parlayed with Gagne's saves.

mike (boston): where will street/blanton end up?? do they start season with A's?

Joe Sheehan: I'm inclined to think they do, and Beane sees the lay of the land in midseason to get a bidding war going. It's mildly risky, but there may be more upside that way.

raygu1 (nj): Maybin-AAA or starting CFer in Fla. to begin the 2008 season?

Joe Sheehan: Man, I hope the former. He's completely unready for the majors.

dogtothedog (Toronto): If Toronto got Bonds would there be a trade market for Reed Johnson or Lyle Overbay, and can Bonds play first?

Joe Sheehan: He's never, not once, played first base, and didn't like the idea of learning while in SF.

I can't emphasize this enough: Bonds can play left field. He's below-average out there with a bad arm, but far from the worst in baseball. He also played 120 games a year out there for the Giants. He doesn't have to DH full time; he can play left 60-70 times and DH the rest.

Corey (Milwaukee): Lincecum v. Hughes?

Joe Sheehan: Hughes, but man, that's a great question. He seems less likely to get hurt.

Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): T or F: The Giants will hit less than 100 HR's as a team in '08.

Joe Sheehan: Shockingly, T.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): When will Baltimore next finish above .500?

Joe Sheehan: 2011.

Joe Sheehan: Thanks so much for all the great questions, baseball and basketball. I'll be back after spring training games start to talk job battles and March Madness.

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