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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday February 28, 2008 2:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.


Christina Kahrl is the managing editor of Baseball Prospectus Premium, a co-editor of Baseball Prospectus 2008, and the creator of "Transaction Analysis."

Christina Kahrl: Howdy gang, sorry to run a few minutes late, but my effort to get the review of the NL East's NRIs up in time for the chat went for naught. You'll have to tune in later on today to see why I'm talking about the Nationals and Roy Scheider in the same breath.

Dusty (Not Chicago!!!): There was just a report that the Clemens case could last several years. I hate Clemens... well I dislike him, I think he's pompous and guilty and would like to never see him pitch again, but there's no way his case is worth the time. I don't think he even deserves a jail sentence, though it would make me chuckle. I'm sure there's something these guys could be doing that's more worthwhile. If I could fire the government, I would.

Christina Kahrl: Have you ever met Roger Clemens? Remember the filter--on and off of the field--that you're seeing most of his actions through, and remember that journalism is perhaps a fundamentally broken medium when it comes to objectivity.

Me, I think it's a lot of wheel-spinning, but I don't think there's any dudgeon to embark upon, high or low. We don't know if it helped his performance on the field, we don't know the guy, and we don't know the truth. I honestly don't know why people get worked up about this stuff; the "what about the children?" narrative is a crock until, as several of my colleagues have noted, Congress and perhaps MLB spend some better-spent time on other dangerous substances.

dwiest12 (Vienna VA): What are the odds Dan Johnson sticks with the A's out of ST?

Christina Kahrl: It would have to seem like a dodgy proposition, wouldn't it? Daric Barton's also a lefty, and also only plays first, and the roster's got a full-time DH in Jack Cust, which bites into any possibility of keeping two like players. Add in the fact that Johnson's out of options, and the stakes get higher still, because if he doesn't win the job, he's going to have to go through waivers.

Mike (Minnesota): Do you think Minnesota signs a veteran like Kenny Loften to platoon in CF and play lead off? Will Gomez start the year in AAA or will he beat out Jason Pridie and Denard Span?

Christina Kahrl: No, and they shouldn't bother. If you're going to be an also-ran, why sign Lofton (who can't really play center any more)? And to some extent, they already have one such guy, in that Darnell McDonald is on the 40-man, and he's actually pretty handy. I suspect this will be the big opportunity for guys like Pridie and Span to show something now, while Gomez polishes his game in Triple-A--which he definitely needs to do.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Do you have a personal favourite among the many NRIs?

Christina Kahrl: See, if I answer this question, I'm making a commitment, when in point of fact, when it comes to the guys on the edge, I'm a believer in free love.

dwiest12 (Vienna VA): Mark Ellis is overdue for a Gold Glove--is this the year he wins one?

Christina Kahrl: Man, was he jobbed last year or what? I certainly hope so, but if he's dealt to the National League, his chances diminish considerably. Even if he sticks around in Oakland, guys like Aaron Hill are starting to get some well-deserved recognition.

theguag (Louisville): Will Bonds play in the major leagues in 2008? What 3 teams would you say are the most likely to sign him?

Christina Kahrl: I have to think the answer to that is 'yes,' because as Joe rightly noted recently, the guy's an underrated defender as well as a premium hitter. My non-insider picks: the Rays, Padres, and... hrm, how about the White Sox? That'd knock the Cubs off of page one. ;)

That said, given that Bonds has always been a devoted father--funny how quote-mongers leave that sort of thing out of their narratives--I can't see him leaving the left coast.

ElAngelo (New York, NY): I'm setting the over/under at 3 1/2 for the number of players on the Pirates' Opening Day roster that will be on their 2011 Opening Day roster. Which side are you taking?

Christina Kahrl: I'll take the over, but that's because I think the organization is getting a Victor Martinez vibe from Ryan Doumit (about time, that), and that one position player plus three of the pitchers seems like a reasonable gamble.

ChuckR (Addison, IL): In 'The Book', some of the team chapters have quotes from authors (e.g. Heinlein) at the beginning. Is it safe to assume that these chapters are the product of one particular author, or is it several similarly inspired scribes?

Christina Kahrl: Heehee... yes, in our book (not "The Book" of Tango and Lichtman), some of us couldn't help ourselves in venting something gleaned from leisure reading we felt was relevant. My only hint will be that I'm not alone in this conceit.

sean (jacksonville): as a reds fan..how scared should i be of dusty baker?..he was quoted last week saying obp is over rated..likes hatteberg and hopper..seems like he has the skills to really screw that team up

Christina Kahrl: Very. Dusty's not a manager to spend a lot of time looking at players he's unfamiliar with, and doesn't really seem to get how offenses score runs. Add in his frequently pathetic attempts to manipulate the local media (when Darren Baker's on the podium, things are getting really bad), and you've got a guy who could put a dent in the organization's future, certainly.

Ben (Ohio): Miguel Cabrera or Gary Sheffield in Detroit's 3 spot? How much of a difference would it make having one in the 3 spot over the other assuming the other hits in the 5 spot?

Christina Kahrl: I'd rather have Cabrera up there, because I don't think you can let him get too many at-bats with which to positively smoke pitches.

Chris Ianetta (Colorado): Is it too early to start chanting for my freedom?

Christina Kahrl: Heehee... perhaps not, but to be fair, you're pretty far-removed from arbitration, so Yorvit Torrealba's contract might not be a stumbling block to your getting the playing time you deserve, and that would be poorly invested in him as a regular.

Henry (Chicago): WOOOOO Baseball! BP2k8 arrived on Tuesday. There's a full slate of spring games, including a start by Ryan Dempster. How Psyched are you for the new season?

Christina Kahrl: Very. In a lot of ways, this might be the bestest spring ever. There's a lot of internal sentiment that this might be our best edition of the annual yet, I expect that I'm going to see some Cactus League action, and I'm back in the best city in the country, the one we're both in. If the Sox are doing a Dog Day, I can't wait to take the dingo to a ballgame, although I can't say for certain if my favorite Cubs fan would set foot in New Comisk^H^H^H^Hthe Cell and come with.

DC (Tim): What do you see the Red Sox doing with their Crisp/Ellsbury conundrum? Is Crisp still on the team when they return from Japan? Besides Tex and Minn, other possible trade destinations?

Christina Kahrl: I really think Crisp will have been dealt before they go; I wonder if Homeland Security will raise a stink if the reserved seat is in somebody else's name for the guy who gets to go in Crisp's place. "You don't look like Coco Crisp," might elicit the start of a Snake Plisken-like "I get that a lot."

BMcG (NY): Christina, Love your Transaction Analysis... Speaking of transactions...do the dodgers keep A. LaRoche on the roster if they give the job to Nomar? Why would you give the job to Nomar? Short term? Who do you like better this year...Rick Ankiel, WMO Pena or S. Hairston? Also, down the road..M. LaPorta or I. Stewart or the kid in Atlanta - Schafner?

Christina Kahrl: Thank you, I'm always gratified by compliments.

I wouldn't waste LaRoche's time with a spot on the bench, should Ned and Joe elect to make that kind of mistake; as Earl Weaver might observe about backups in general, Las Vegas is only a phonecall and a short flight away.

As for the middle question, one of those things is not like the others, so let's take Hairston out of the equation right off. Between Ankiel and Wily Mo, I'd pick Ankiel, not despite his career path being so extraordinary, but perhaps because of it. I don't know if we know how good he can be yet. No slight of Wily Mo intended--he might turn out to be a totally solid everyday left fielder this season.

Finally, we have another broke-leg trio there, because Stewart doesn't belong in a comparison to LaPorta or Jordan Schafer. I'd take Schafer, which again isn't a slight of LaPorta's obvious gifts as a hitter, but because it's easier to find a guy who can hit and play left than a guy who might be a star in center field.

Mike (PA): Do you ever see a time when BP would consider opening up a comments section for subscriber responses to individual articles on BP.com?

Christina Kahrl: I do, but that's because it'll be this year, and we're probably talking several weeks and not several months in terms of implementation.

ChuckR (Addison, IL): Thursday, June 5, 7:11 - Kansas City Dog Day presented by Hill's Pet Nutrition From White Sox promotional schedule.

Christina Kahrl: Outstanding! Argentina and I are guaranteed to be there.

patsen29 (Toronto): There are a lot of veterans in the NRIs. Where do you see Julio Franco in his quest to play as a pentagenarian?

Christina Kahrl: Done. He might still be able to catch up to the odd offering from a lefty, but he's a pinch-hitter in a game that doesn't really reserve roster space for the type any more. He could do it if he popped into the wayback machine to the '80s, when guys like Steve Braun and le grand Orange and Greg Gross and Harry Spilman were on rosters, but then either he wouldn't be a pentagenarian any more, or he could run into himself and blow a hole in the space-time continuum or something.

squintsp34 (Chicago): CK, Will Howie Kendrick justify our love this year?

Christina Kahrl: Absolutely. I know it surprises some of my more scout-minded colleagues, but I just really like Kendrick's seemingly unique gifts at the plate.

Nik (Boston): One more quick question - do you see Mike Sweeney sticking with the A's, and if so, could he have an impact in the middle of the order as a potential platoon with Cust at DH?

Christina Kahrl: No, and no. The A's could barely get away with carrying a DH platoon for part of 1987, and Cey seemed less done then than Sweeney probably is now.

Ramon Castro (Shea Stadium): I'm not free yet! Free Ramon Castro, gosh darn it!

Christina Kahrl: It can be a "Ben Hur and the gang get off the galley" moment for the both of you.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): If Eric Chavez shows he's healthy, do you see Beane moving him at the deadline?

Christina Kahrl: Last A's question for a bit--only if Beane and management can find a way to accept swallowing a lot of salary, and I find that a pretty dubious proposition.

jphan44 (NY): how much of an impact is Ensberg going to have this year?

Christina Kahrl: I like the possibilities, and he certainly picked the right place--a team without a real first baseman, what with Giambi's spavined crab act at the cold corner, plus Giambi bats lefty, so Ensberg could plausibly be both a platoon partner and a defensive replacement.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Could you assemble a competitive team using only players who are at least 40 years old?

Christina Kahrl: Probably not; even with all of the advancements in conditioning, you'd be stretched at the skill positions up the middle, you might have to run more of a tag-team college-style pitching staff, and depth would be an issue. Catchers over 40 don't have a great track record for being able to handle really good stuff--Fisk at the end was especially brutal, costing Jack McDowell strikes because he couldn't really receive Black Jack's slider--but there again, you wouldn't really have a pitching staff with lots of guys with lots of good stuff, which sort of takes the steam out of a proposition over whether or not this team would be competitive.

Jim Bowden's Segway (Fairfax, VA): Christina -- The Nationals have four potential starting outfielders for four spots. As it stands, the club is saying Dukes will be the fourth OF with Wily Mo getting the starting job in left. Text messaging criminality aside, which player do you like more in the long run?

Christina Kahrl: Dukes, if the considerations are based on talent alone. I know, that's a cop-out comment that ranks with "He'll be an effective major league pitcher if he stays healthy," but with Dukes, it's a must-add.

collins (greenville nc): If you could go back in history and see one baseball game in person, which would it be?

Christina Kahrl: Part of the joy of going to a ballgame is that the outcome is in doubt, even in Marlins games. I think it would be fun to see Game Four of the 1929 World Series, because that was an amazing comeback win for the A's, but it wouldn't be quite so amazing knowing that it would happen.

In more pragmatic, realistic terms, I passed on a freebie the day Kerry Wood struck out 20. That's going to bug me to my dying day.

Shane (Saint John, New Brusnwick): Afternoon Christina, JP. Ricciardi? He's going into his seventh year as GM and organizational architect - what do you think? Is he constructing an organization that will compete with that of the one the Red Sox's are building going forward?

Christina Kahrl: No, he isn't, and that's part of the problem. I think this year's essay in the annual is appropriately savage about his moving the target all over the place without really delivering on anything. Disclaimer: I didn't write the essay, I just agree with it.

Matt Murton (Chicago): Any chance I get set free this spring?

Christina Kahrl: Maybe if you're on Chris Iannetta's trireme? Sadly, I think you're starting to run into the same problems Jason Dubois did--you can hit, but not a lot of teams build platoons, and righty-hitting corner men without massive power or something else going for them tend to lose out.

Eddy (Valerie's closet): Do you think Torre will rest Russell Martin more, or is there a chance his legs will fall off on September 16th? I am worried that his late season collapse will happen again if the Dodgers don't learn how to take care of him.

Christina Kahrl: I think Torre's experience in getting reliably good work from Jorge Posada over his career (not to mention his own past days with the tools of ignorance) will save Martin from anything like a Jim Sundberg-style wear-down.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Last off-season, we saw some $ thrown around, reflective of the enormous current revenues for MLB (i.e., Gil Meche rolling around on a pile of $100 bills). This off-season, you have guys like Shannon Stewart, Lohse, etc., practically begging for work. Was this an industry learning more? Or was it just a lack of "name" players?

Christina Kahrl: I think more the former than the latter. Take it from experience: you don't have to be a "VORPie" to share a mindset with one about player value.

Ricky (New York): With reports that Hughes is physically stronger at camp and is healthy, not to mention his stuff seem to be all the way back, what type of year will he have? Are you still fan of Hughes?

Christina Kahrl: Who isn't? I think he's prepped to deliver on exactly the sort of greatness we've anticipated all along.

Mankiel (Anchorage): Why does a minor leaguer have to be a pitcher OR a hitter? Why not have a guy like Ankiel or Owings begin his career as a pitcher and a DH? Isn't pigeon holing these guys a ridiculous waste of potential talents?

Christina Kahrl: I pester Kevin Goldstein now and again with exactly this kind of question, and he rightly slaps them down with a pragmatic observation that these guys are tasked with a ton of professional instruction, and multiplying that by two isn't really a great risk to take with a prospect. I know, real-life considerations can be a downer at times.

rawagman (work): Christina, love your work. Can we expect reports on the other five divisions for NRIs? Thanks for answering!

Christina Kahrl: Thank you--the schedule I'm hoping to keep to is the NL East today, NL Central tomorrow, AL Central and West on Sunday, and NL West on Monday. Although I won't stop writing while I'm on the road, I owe it to you to get the series wrapped up and move on to other considerations, no matter how much I invest time rooting for some of the game's scrubs.

John (Boston): Do you think Roberto Alomar gets into the Hall of Fame? He's a few hundred hits shy of the 3000 plateau, and although he dominated the gold glove scene for his position throughout the 90's, it doesn't seem like his "greatness" is really remembered too well even though he just retired a couple of years ago.

Christina Kahrl: He should be in the Hall of Fame, but keep in mind, I think Lou Whitaker should be in the Hall of Fame, and look how badly the voters screwed that up.

Rinalro (DC): Love your work on TA and the chats. My Nats question for this year: whither Felipe Lopez?

Christina Kahrl: Starting shortstop. I really don't think Cristian Guzman's back, or that he'll stay healthy.

goiter6 (MN): In a keeper strato league would perfer Adam Loewen or Scott Elbert?

Christina Kahrl: Double ouch, and I thought I had it rough trying to consider the merits of a stack of mediocre lefties for my bullpen. I'd take Elbert, if only because the track record for getting hurt is slightly shorter, and in part out of recognition that the Dodgers should do a good job getting him back in action.

Or (Dallas): Do you worry about rookies who struggle with plate discipline after a stellar minor league track record? Jarrod Saltalamacchia's impatience during his short major league stint has me wondering whether he's going to become the patient, walk-happy hitter people projected him to be.

Christina Kahrl: I wouldn't worry about it. Salty's got the broad base of hitting skills that I don't think we're talking about a slider-speed bat here. With the investment of time I think every major leaguer has to make, he'll learn the league, the zones of the umps, and perform in a way consistent with what we should expect from him on a projected career arc.

mattymatty2000 (Philly, PA): I'm completely in the tank for Clay Buchholz. What do you think he can do this season for Boston?

Christina Kahrl: Deliver, because he's ready. I don't think he'll make people forget Bartolo Colon, but that's because RSN is the kind of place where anybody who can conjure up fond memories of El Guapo might claim some small corner of somebody's attention.

Greg (Boulder, CO): The Rockies just extended closer Manny Corpas to the tune of $8M/4 years. There are also two club options totaling $15M-$17M covering his final arb and first free agent years. Wise move for team?

Christina Kahrl: I won't hazard a guess about the options--that far ahead, and a pitcher's likely to have gotten hurt, and after inflation I have no idea what that is in terms of 2008 dollars--but the first four of that deal are a matter of good business sense.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Who would best suit the label of "clown-prince of baseball". For extra difficulty, you can't pick any Red Sox.

Christina Kahrl: Did Roger McDowell get all serious on us now that he's a coach/authority figure? Probably, and more's the pity.

Mike ((NYC)): Christina: Great chat..Thanks!! Keeper league. I can only keep 2 out of CB Young, Granderson or Victorino. Who do you like.

Christina Kahrl: No problem Mike, happy to be here. Granderson and Young, in any kind of league, and it isn't close. I like Victorino, and that park's going to help keep his power numbers respectable, but Young's upside is outstanding, and as I've waxed poetic about Granderson's ability to beat expectations in the past, I don't think he's going to come down from last year nearly as much as others might.

costa24 (Montreal): Is "VORPies" now an official everyday part of our vernacular?

Christina Kahrl: I certainly hope not; it betrays a certain weakness in the creative skills department. It's predictably lame as insults go, and doesn't really come with a stigma that cuts, the way a proper insult should. If you want to get insulting, you should do it well; doing it badly only reflects a certain inability beyond the obvious pettiness of the exercise.

ElAngelo (New York, NY): Is Torre going to use Loney and Kemp sensibly (ie, 550+ PA's assuming health) or are the Dodgers getting screwed out of their best players actually playing?

Christina Kahrl: I do, but that's in part out of a simple faith that these sorts of things take care of themselves, and quality has a way of eventually winning out over camp-speak exercises, especially when the contrasts between the guys with talent and the guys with the contracts are this stark.

Brian Gallagher (Evanston): The sun is shining in Chicagoland, I avoided involuntary cryogenesis on my way to work for the first time in months, and Spring Training games have started. Here's my question: What one baseball work (post-1990) should I read to get super-spectacular-zany-amped-like-crazy for Opening Day? Assume I've read every Baseball Prospectus opus under the sun.

Christina Kahrl: Man, that's a good question, in part because the best possible answer probably far transcends my frame of experience to answer it (my non-annuals baseball books collection numbers only in hundreds, not thousands, as some collections do). For example, last night I was dropping off a stray dog at a no-kill shelter, and when the proprietor asked what I do, we got to talking about baseball, and she said that one of her neighbors is William Brashler. Now, that's really cool--except that to my great shame, I haven't yet read "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings."

Me, I think the book I love best is still Dan Okrent's "Nine Innings," perhaps because of its descriptive power, its intimacy, and a fondness for the Brewer and Orioles teams that are the key actors. Because it wanders off into so many tangents about the individual players or people associated with those two teams, it's the sort of exercise I'm prone to in my own work, but with the driving narrative of the game itself as a spine, like real life it keeps bringing you back out of wool-gathering mode.

John D. (Big Sky): Christina: BP has certainly been playing up the college baseball angle recently, re the front page. Are you a fan of the sport? Do you believe it will ever achieve wider popularity?

Christina Kahrl: I can't say that I'm a fan, because it's an area of personal ignorance. What I do know is that I like learning more and more about it, and the fact that I know who Brian Matusz is before he's drafted is proof I still have some capacity to learn as I enter a proper middle age. That's a credit to Bryan Smith, however, particularly because his breadth of knowledge and the enthusiasm for the subject that he brings to it. It's an area we've decided to add to our content mix, and despite the aluminum issue, it's baseball. And yes, I think there's room for it to grow in popularity.

abernethyj (Chapel Hill, NC): Do you see Matt Diaz being effective if given regular at-bats against LHPs and RHPs, or is all his value connected to only starting against southpaws? A connected question - who do you see receiving more major league at-bats this season, Brandon Jones or Josh Anderson?

Christina Kahrl: If the Braves want to win ballgames, Brandon Jones, with Diaz remaining in the role he's best suited for, picking the rookie up against the league's tougher southpaws.

Napoleon III (Sedan): Great chat, Christina, but I think you're off your game. I've been here for two hours and you haven't yet invoked the 30-years War to explain why it is that pitchers of Germanic decent may be more inclined to use PEDs given the decimation of the male genetic population of Deutschland in the 1650s.

Christina Kahrl: Bah, that's a short enough span to have beaten that, even without reference to 20th century eugenics or East German steroid programs. The French are far worse off; between the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, plum took the sap out of breed, which goes far to explain why there's a shortage of pitchers of French ancestry. Well, that, and that they're French.

Devin (Green Brook, NJ): It hasn't been officialy recognized by the HOF, but for the record Mike Veeck bestowed the "Crown Prince" title on Myron Noodleman a few years back.

Christina Kahrl: Like a lot of things about Mike Veeck, this would appear to be a bad idea.

Mike (chicago): I find myself really pulling for Nick Johnson. Even moreso if it makes Dmitri Young an outfielder now and again. I love watching bad outfield defense, as long as it's not my team. I mean Todd Hundley in left, Canseco anywhere, Glenallen Hill. That's fun to watch.

Christina Kahrl: Ah, butchers, they definitely help put meat in a boxscore. But how can we forget Fonzie Bichette? Or Kevin Reimer? Or Dutch Daulton's stint as an outfielder?

Nick the Stick's easy to root for, a player with a nice spread of offensive skills, and before the injury he'd done a good job of getting in better shape and delivering on the bases and in the field as well. If he's fully recovered, that won't help him play the outfield, though, and I have to think Comrade Dmitri's days playing any other of the four corners are long gone. It makes for an interesting problem, especially when there are teams that still don't have good first basemen out there.

Greg (Toronto): Christina, the thing I don't understand about teams like Toronto is why they're so reluctant to pay big money for draft prospects with signability issues, yet will needlessly waste money on fringe role players. They get stuck with a team that's unable to acquire elite talent (either through the draft or free agency) and freely allow some of that talent to be taken by their competitors on the relative cheap.

Christina Kahrl: But... you mean to say, giving John McDonald a shower of gold that would make Danae blush didn't inspire thousands upon thousands of season-ticket sales? I'm shocked.

costa24 (Montreal): Regail nostalgic ole' me with your mythical memory for minutest details and characters of baseball history... Tell me something fun about my favorite ever baseball teams, the 1993/4 Expos!

Christina Kahrl: Wasn't that the high point of Denis Boucher's career? I think that was the year somebody overdrafted Mike Lansing in my Strat league.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Hi Christina It seems that when you get to the end of spring training, one of the things that gets considered for that last man on the roster is whether a player has any options left. I find it difficult to determine who does and does not have options left. Is there a good place to get that information? Could you in TA include that information? Also, what are your thoughts on considering the likelihood of losing a player through waivers as a reason to keep him on the roster?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Tom, hope all's well back in my old neck of the woods. This sort of information isn't publicly available to my knowledge, although the reason why is another something I don't know. I have a list, which I think is accurate but that I don't think I can publish in full; I'm using it to discuss some of the considerations for various non-roster players.

As for the last, it depends on the player, and whether he's fungible, or more of a truffle in the fungi- kingdom.

byron e (utica, ny): Who's the bigger history geek between you and Goldman? You've got the Thirty Years War down and he's reading Stalin: The Court of The Red Tsar?

Christina Kahrl: I'd say me, but that's said not out of pride or disrespect, but because even in grad school, other classmates in the history program seemed to thing I was the biggest history geek they knew.

Tim (Portland, OR): Did you know Lastings Milledge's #1 comp is Rondell White, who was born in Milledgeville, Georgia? Marc Normandin would have Lastings a top 10 fantasy OF this year if he could be assured of 600 plate appearances. What does your crystal ball say?

Christina Kahrl: I think that from among the quartet of talented outfielders the Nats have to squeeze into three regular lineup slots, Milledge is the one I'd peg as the one most likely to have the most plate appearances. However, in saying that, I'm taking Austin Kearns' checkered injury history into account. I think it's safe to bet that Milledge gets at least 500 PA.

Mike (Chicago): Winters like this one test my Chicago love...Looking over pecota's projected standings, which team do you think is going to be much different? Seattle maybe?

Christina Kahrl: I think you hit the nail on the head--I think Seattle can beat the initial projection, but to be fair, there's a lot of area for easy improvement on that roster, and it remains to be seen if Bill Bavasi's the GM who can do that, or if he's the guy who, like the Sicilian, is left exclaiming "Inconceivable!" when his initial design doesn't pan out. He's been there before, with the Angels; he needs to prove that he learned from the experience.

costa24 (Montreal): Besides BP articles and books, are you published anywhere else? Ever think of writing a book (or have you already)?

Christina Kahrl: I'd put the stuff I've done for the New York Sun, or to go back a ways, for ESPN or Salon or Slate or Playboy under the general BP banner, since it's almost always current events in baseball. I've also written a little bit about football (most notably contributing to the ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia). I've been kicking around a couple of different potential sports-related solo projects--we all do--but also some fiction. That said, writing about the demimonde, martinis, the reign of Frederick William IV, and the genius of the Pogues really doesn't fit tidily into a single project.

SC (Philly): What kind of odds do you put on Girardi breaking at least one of the Hughes/Chamberlain/Kennedy trio?

Christina Kahrl: I think it's an unfair question to some extent, because for however much people point to the Josh Johnson rain-delay incident, the very nature of pitching demands that you allow for a certain number of casualties. It isn't like we're talking about Billy Martin-level usage patterns. I think the sheer odds of one of the three getting hurt are no different with Girardi skippering the club than they would be if Joe Torre was calling the shots, or most of the current crop of managers, for that matter.

GOYANKSGONJ (Las Vegas, NV): Is there a possibility we could get camp rosters (including NRI's) posted here at BP, or at least links to the like from MLB.com or another reputable source? I've tended to find MLB.com's transactions listings questionable, at best.

Christina Kahrl: Although MLB.com's transactions list misses a few now and again, to be fair, I think theirs is easily the best of the major media sites. For the camp rosters in general, I don't think they overlook anything. The quality of the coverage of essential facts such as these at MLB.com is really outstanding.

Tim (DC): The Orioles are starting to be slightly interesting again. What could be the realistic upside, prospect-wise, in trading Roberts to the Cubs?

Christina Kahrl: Given their shortage of shortstop prospects, they should definitely gun for getting Ronny Cedeno. Beyond that, I would expect pitching and more pitching, because everyone covets arms, and the Cubs have a pretty good track record for drafting and developing them.

theguag (Louisville): Do you think Brian Giles and Jim Edmonds fall off the cliff this year in San Diego?

Christina Kahrl: Aren't they already in the act of falling, if still short of hitting the bottom? I think the answer is generally yes.

Time to start winding down, so let's do a couple of quickies to wrap up.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Expect the Yankees to trade for Damaso Marte, or will they maybe give Traber a shot at the lefty specialist role? Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: I wouldn't bank on Traber, so I expect they'll invest some time shopping. I don't know if I'd elevate an appropriate level of interest in Marte all the way up to an expectation, but it would be worth exploring.

theguag (Louisville): If you were forced to pick one former 3B prospect to return to glory this year, would you take Andy Marte, Wilson Betemit, or Dallas McPherson?

Christina Kahrl: Betemit, albeit in a supersub role.

The Wag (clinton, ny): Any life suggestions for the soon to be history grad student / statistical analysis enthusiast crowd out there?

Christina Kahrl: If you feel the calling to go into academia, by all means pursue it. I still wonder what might have been, even if I have no regrets over my lot in sports. Do not bet that you'll catch a break with a team unless you have a solid background in quantitative analysis from a top school. Place happiness ahead of financial gain; I spend 45 minutes at dawn playing with the dog in the (frozen) park instead of sitting in traffic--you can't buy that kind of thing.

Mike (St.Louis): When should Rasmus be in St.Louis. He's looked good so far going 3-3 with a double and 3 walks.

Christina Kahrl: Aren't we at the point where the hitters are ahead of the pitchers? I guess I haven't kept up on my beat reporter early-spring training standbys. He's not far from the answer being "now," but I really wouldn't surprise me if we're forced to wait until May.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Should O's fans be excited about Adam Jones, or is he being oversold to us?

Christina Kahrl: Be excited, Tom. He's for real.

Jed (San Francisco): I'm sure this has been discussed in the past, but I'll re-hash... On this site you used to go by 'Chris', now it's Christina. Do you really go by Chris? Oh, and NO MORE BREAKS FROM A'S QUESTIONS! Esp. with the ridiculous amount of wang-ellsbury-bucholz-joba questions we've all had to endure, we should get our turn.

Christina Kahrl: Hi Jed,

It's just Christina, according to me and to the gumment, so that's what matters. And yes, like you, I think you can never talk too much about the A's, but there are innocent bystanders, even Royals fans, to consider, far beyond the usual NY/Boston axis of navel-gazing

GOYANKSGONJ (Las Vegas, NV): Can you recommend somewhere where I could find active players' (including free agents) current contract details?

Christina Kahrl: Go to Cot's Baseball Contracts online, it's a lovely resource, one I turn to with near-daily regularity.

ElAngelo (New York, NY): Christina, great work over the offseason, as always. My question is about roster construction, and specifically the hitter/pitcher divide. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were mocking the Rockies and/or Don Baylor for taking 12 pitchers, but at least it was mildly defensible on the grounds that they needed extra arms to throw in Coors Field. Now we're at a point where almost everyone is at a 13/12 divide. What the heck happened, and what do you think are the chances of some squad going back to 15/10 simply by employing 2 good long men in the pen at all times?

Christina Kahrl: Baylor's mistake was that he made that choice for a post-season roster. While I would like to see more teams invest the roster space in observing one of Earl Weaver's rules and put their young starters in long relief roles, and thereby save themselves multiple spots sunk on multiple situational playthings in the pen, you could also save roster space by effectively committing to a four-man rotation that exploits the fact that we're in a world that doesn't have doubleheaders and a schedule that features plenty of off-days to reduce the fifth slot to a sometime thing. That might mean shorter starts for the front four, and it might not, but I think we're at a point where the industry has probably overcorrected, costing us the next Jack Morris or Tom Seaver.

You could also expand your roster by not resorting to Eck-style closer usage patterns--make the money pitcher for the endgame something more than a sundae's cherry, and you'll get more quality innings. Condition them to be Eck-style closers, and you're investing a roster spot on a single-purpose single-inning reliever, forcing you to commit to 11 at the outset, and making 12 seems plausible.

Now, to be fair to major league managers, managing pitching staffs involves anticipating a lot of different scenarios, not all of them happy, and committing resources in the form of those roster spots. But it can also mean not giving lineups the same depth of consideration, because you know you'll have nine guys out there, and beyond someone who can play the corners, someone who can play the outfield, and someone who can catch, you figure you're covered. It's not the way I look at the problem of in-game tactics or in-season operations, but I was reading Earl Weaver's books at an impressionable age.

nickojohnson (City of Angeles): Dodgers or D'Backs in the West?

Christina Kahrl: Snakes.

costa24 (Montreal): Watched any of the Oscar finalist movies?

Christina Kahrl: I'm still in awe of "No Country For Old Men." I need to make the time to go see "There Will be Blood."

Jay (Flushing): The Mets need a good 5th starter. How about El Duque, Mike Pelfrey, Ruben Gotay, Marlon Anderson and Aaron Heilman for Ian Snell?

Christina Kahrl: That plus a ton of Famous Amos hot dogs still doesn't get you Snell, I suspect. Remember, it isn't Littlefield who's picking up the phone any more.

mbring (Saint Cloud, MN): You do realize there are at least a few dozen BP readers frantically trying to assemble an all 40+ roster in time to post it before you end the chat; and another few dozen wondering if they could.

Christina Kahrl: Skip rushing it, send it along, and I'll talk about it in an Unfiltered. It makes for an entertaining exercise.

Bertram Grover Weeks (Pasadena): PECOTA sees some real longevity for Chipper Jones. I just put a 3 year contract bid down for him in my free agency league and the other owners near passed out... Am I being snookered by a spreadsheet here? Is chipper really going to have OPSes like that in 2010?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think you're being snookered. Remember, the man's gifts were remarkable back at the very start of his career, and that he's preserved almost all of them exceptionally well, even after a number of injuries. Add in the virtue of modern training and medical techniques, and his obvious drive, and I think it becomes very plausible indeed, and not merely some algorithm on pop rocks.

jromero (Seattle): How about 3 N.L. sleepers for '08? You pick the position.

Christina Kahrl: Hrm... the problem with the exercise is that it depends on what kind of audience you're talking to. I don't think of Brandon Jones as a sleeper, but in a wider audience, I suspect he's seen as such. I've mentioned Doumit in Pittsburgh as a prospective catcher. If Chad Tracy's knee is sound, he's going to remind people he's a very useful hitter, and not just in that ballpark.

Clive Owen (A dark, shady place): Christina: Thanks for the chat, and for all the great work that you and your team did on BP08. The section on the Mets in BP08 is extremely dogmatic. It clobbers the reader over the head that the Mets were too old and that is why they collapsed. Well, the Mets were indeed an old team that collapsed, but they finished just one game out. You can also argue that they were too *young*, in that Jose Reyes destroyed them the last three weeks. Even a decent performance out of Reyes, and the Mets win the division. My point is that when you guys strive to explain things solely on the basis of one factor, it is easy to over simplify. Is that a fair statement?

Christina Kahrl: Absolutely, and you'll generally find me an opponent of reductionist commentary in almost every sphere. Take your point on Reyes--did he hurt them only at the plate, or on the bases and in the field as well? If he did, is that on him, or on his manager? Was he played into the ground? Because that's a point that's also there--that Randolph was relying on an old team *and* not managing around some of the basic challenges of operating a roster in a way that keeps everybody in full working order.

Gray (Chicago): Christina, I see above Bonds would knock the Cubs off page one? Have you spent much time in Chicago? That will never happen, I think the day after the Sox won the WS the frontpage was talking about the Cubs offseason moves already.

Christina Kahrl: Fair point, but the day of, I'm a-betting there wasn't an attack piece questioning Mark Prior's commitment on the front page. Bringing in Barry--and doing what you can to contend, which Kenny Williams is gunning for, given the Swisher deal--would help give the Mike Norths of the world something to rail about endlessly.

Hammer (next to Charlie O): Who's got the best bat going forward? Zimmerman, Kendrick or Rickie Weeks? Been disappointed by all three (fantasy wise) so far...

Christina Kahrl: Kendrick, especially in terms of fantasy production, but perhaps also in terms of his value to real teams.

Ben (Ohio): The Free Press ran an article suggesting Zach Miner as a guy with potential as a setup/closer down the road. Does he have the stuff? Is there a comparable guy who's done something similar?

Christina Kahrl: I don't really see it, but remember, it's February (just barely), and it must have been a slow day in camp. As much as I bang on the mainstream media, the job of a beatwriter is a tough, tough job.

BL (Bozeman): The notion of moving Joakim Soria to the rotation... do it now, do it never, or do it later?

Christina Kahrl: He's had some problems in the past, and when you're as good as he's been initially in a relief role, as Jonathan Papelbon demonstrates, it becomes very hard to move past the automatic instinct to not fix what isn't broken.

Sam (Anderson, SC): Is moving to a hitter's park from a pitcher's park going to hurt Dan Haren's production, even slightly?

Christina Kahrl: Some of the numbers might move around a bit (his HR/9, his ERA), but his value to Arizona won't in any significant degree.

Dirty Dave (WIsconsin): Why don't you indicate who wrote which pieces in the book? Someone wrote a very insightful essay on the Kansas City Royals.

Christina Kahrl: See, that's too easy for you to figure out, because the same person who almost always wrote the Royals essay wrote this year's Royals essay. He's also a really good, really insightful writer, and it's been my pleasure to work with him from day one in BP history.

theguag (Louisville): Correia got torched by the Cubs today - should he really be ahead of Jonathan Sanchez for the 5th starter job? Is keeping two LHP pitching back to back days really worth that much consideration when choosing your 5 best starters?

Christina Kahrl: I think Correia has value, but I'm probably with the scouts who value Sanchez for his really exceptional arm. I guess I kind of expect something like a Noah Lowry injury to make the question academic, but I'd rather see Sanchez put back into a starting role and left alone until he proves he can't. The chance that he becomes the quality young lefty to join Zito and balance out a rotation already gifted with Cain and Lincecum is just really very tasty.

jake1m (Gold Country, CA): Back of the rotation guys for this year John Danks, Micah Owings, or Dontrelle Willis? How about in the future? Possible keeper worthy?

Christina Kahrl: Wow, that's downright Pollock-like in its spread. I'm with the school of thought that Willis will profit from getting out from behind a lousy Marlins defense. I really, really like what Owings could turn into, but part of that is an understandable fascination with the man's hitting.

Nik (Boston): Hi Christina - Just picked up my copy of the Annual yesterday and I'm enthusiastically working my way through it - great job once again. I'm wondering how you choose the players you choose too highlight within the individual organizations. Is there a particular roster protocol, or is it strictly based on performance? Being an Oakland fan, I'm wondering, for instance, why a guy like Josh Horton isn't profiled, but Cliff Penington (who by most standards is barely considered a prospect anymore) is? Or the inclusion of Shane Komine (as much as we all love him) over say a guy like Andrew Carignan who is full of potential and could contribute in the next couple of years to the big league club? Thanks again for your excellent work and analysis!

Christina Kahrl: Many thanks, Nik. Selecting the players is always a bit of bear-wrestling, because there are competing rationales. We figure we have to comment on everyone who's on a 40-man roster around the time of the Winter Meetings, but if we're really going to provide a worthwhile snapshot of an organization, we also need to talk about the prospects at the lowest rungs of the system. But rather than talk about all of those low-level prospects with full-length player comments, if he barely played (say, he was a late signing) or has a few things to prove (as Horton does), we also anticipate that there's time to get to him in the next year. Certainly, the decision to go back to including the "Lineouts" section (we did so long ago, in the annual's earliest days) allows us to skip things like wasting page space on full player comment and a PECOTA for Alberto Castillo, for example, which in turn allows us to broaden the range and exploit Kevin Goldstein's ability to give you great info on as many low-level guys as we can squeeze in.

costa24 (Montreal): Paul Lukas is having a ball seeing all the Giants pitchers in stirrups. What uniform aspect of the baseball past would you like to see make a comeback?

Christina Kahrl: A lot less red; it's getting overused, and I'm still sad the Nationals chose to go that route. I liked when the Twins did those pinstriped unis in the '80s that were different, or when the Royals wore cornflower blue road unis, or when the Phillies used maroon instead of straight red (if not the uniforms themselves so much). The game should enjoy a broader range of color--perhaps not quite a dial-back to the '70s, but I'd like to see some more variety out there.

getalong tom (Willits): So everybody knows that Sabean is a bad GM... but here's my question. Very literally, what is he thinking (what's his perspective) when he brings back vizquel this year and goes and gets Rowand. Neither of these guys will be here the next time the Giants are in the play-offs (probably 2108). Is MacGowan giving him pressure to put butts in the seats?

Christina Kahrl: If he is, he's doing a bad job of it. I'm not sure anybody's making a discretionary leisure expense decision on the basis of a desire to see Aaron Rowand. Maybe it's a way to distract people from the really lousy Safeway-chain products--that has to be the worst salsa ever made.

Are there still biker rallies up in Willits? Man, just the name of the place takes me back a ways...

Anyway, the Giants are almost gearing up to make these next five years a never-ending re-enactment of the '85 demonstration of offensive ineptitude. Without the Gladden vs. Chili sparring matches, of course, because they're all such happy Giants these days.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): The Jays tried to go with a dark military grey for their road unis a few years ago and MLB stopped them.

Christina Kahrl: That Bob Watson, he certainly seems to have enough time on his hands. A pity the game's got a militant streak of fashion nazism.

Christina Kahrl: With that, there's a dingo to walk and a groceria to frequent, not to mention a TA to finish plus perhaps a Sheehan article we might get up tonight. (In the future, we're going to be doing more and more afternoon and evening content, as we move to more of a 24/7 level of coverage.) To everyone who popped in today, you have my thanks, and to everyone I'll get to meet on the book tour next week, I'm looking forward to it.

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