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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday March 06, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.


Jay Jaffe writes "Prospectus Hit List" and "Prospectus Hit and Run" for Baseball Prospectus.

Jay Jaffe: Hello everybody, and welcome to today's chat. Apologies for the minor technical difficulties thus far; we're hoping things flow smoothly from here so we can talk some baseball.

Brian H (Toledo): I notice you've written a couple of the Team Health Reports. Is this becoming part of your regular beat? (I'm a big fan of all your columns, so the more you do the better.)

Jay Jaffe: Hi Brian, thanks for the kind words. If you're in Toledo I hope you're catching my radio spots every Wednesday afternoon on WLQR with Norm Wamer and Matt Melzak. 3:10 Central.

I've picked up a couple of the THRs because Will can't do those specific teams due to his consulting interests. They're fun to do, and as somebody who has a biology background and was a pre-med back in the day, it's nice to call on a bit of that area of knowledge.

Peter (Staten Island): Can you address the Dodgers situation? Re-signing Nomar? Bringing in Andruw Jones to push Kemp even farther down the depth chart? Where does Delwyn Young play (if in the majors)? How about Hu? It seems like they have a MLB-ready prospect pushing up at every position.

Jay Jaffe: Hey Pete!

You're right in that the Dodger system is loaded. GM Ned Colletti seems to have a knack for finding a veteran stiff to throw in the way of every near-ready prospect.

That said, the Dodgers didn't hesitate to push Nomar off 1B when James Loney got hot for them last year, and it's clear they now think of Kemp as a RF rather than a CF. It's Andre Ethier who's likely feeling the biggest pinch in the outfield right now.

As for Delwyn Young, that's a good question. He was moved off 2B because he wasn't considered an adequate defender (-14 FRAA at Double-A in 2005), and while he may help there in a pinch, long term he's going to need an outfield spot. I don't think that will happen for him in LA barring a slew of injuries; the best he can hope for is that as a switch-hitter he becomes a staple of the team's bench.

Stars0ftheL1d (east flatbush, bkyln): can i have a ride to the signing tonight? i know you're on my side of the river. help a fellow brooklynite out.

Jay Jaffe: I'm not far from Flatbush myself. Alas, like many a New Yorker, I don't have a car - I actually moved here after mine had been stolen twice and broken into once. So I take the subway. Can't beat the Q train getting from Dekalb Avenue to Union Square in two stops.

For any of you other NYers here, I'll be at the Barnes and Noble on 18th St. and 5th Avenue with my BP colleagues from 6 PM on. Hope you can make it!

Dusty (Not Chicago!!!): With Miguel Tejada's decline the last year or so, is it safe to say now that while he's had a really good career, he won't be a HOFer? Starting with the Larkin era , who of the recent and present shortstops do you now think makes the HOF?

Jay Jaffe: Right now I'd say Tejada's biggest problem isn't the decline of his skills but his presence in the Mitchell Report and his possible role in the Rafael Palmeiro situation, including the subsequent perjury investigation. Until we see the BBWAA voters give even one steroid-connected player a pass, all bets are off for the lot of 'em.

As for recent and present shortstops who are Hallworthy, the line starts with Alan Trammell. I don't have my JAWS spreadsheet open (I'm working the laptop for the moment to surmount my tech difficulties) but I do believe Larkin has a decent case. More recently, A-Rod is an obvious choice, as is Derek Jeter. Beyond that, and then Tejada, I think there's a pretty big gap until you get to the younger playes like Reyes and Rollins who are only starting to assemble their credentials.

mattymatty (Surprise Land, USA): Hi Jay, Big fan. Everyone seems to be jumping on the Rays and Reds as the surprise teams this season. Are you with that, or do you disagree?

Jay Jaffe: I've been pointing to the Reds as my sleeper team in a few different media appearances. I'm no big fan of Dusty Baker, but the two jobs he's had previously saw the Giants jump from 72 to 103 wins and the Cubs from 67 to 88 wins. Obivously, talent was a big part of that, with Bonds coming over from Pittsburgh in the former case and Mark Prior hitting his stride in the latter. The Reds are loaded with blue chip talent, four of the top 41 prospects from our list (I htink), and if Dusty lets them play, it's a big upgrade.

As for the Rays, I've been a big fan of Kazmir and SHields for the past couple years, and they're just bursting with talent. I don' tknow if they crack 81 wins but they will be a super-fun team to watch.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): This one: 33 East 17th Street; New York, NY 10003? Did you guys post this? I left my book at home.

Jay Jaffe: No, it's 105 Fifth Avenue (at 18th Street). Hope you can make it!

huckyoda (NYC): Orlando Cabrera or Ryan Theriot?

Jay Jaffe: Cabrera, and it's not even close. Decent enough hitter who should be helped in the move from Anaheim to the Cell, and a waaaaay better fielder.

Or (Dallas ): Where would Jarrod Saltalamacchia rank as a prospect if he were eligible?

Jay Jaffe: I'm not a prospect guy, but it sounds to me like the Rangers are vastly disappointed in his defense so far. PECOTA hates it as well, projecting him for like about -13 runs a year. Given his height and that information, I think it's likely they move him off C sooner or later.

Gonna try moving back to the desktop machine. Fasten your seatbelts, kids...

ericturner29 (Chicago): Is the Tribe a good fit for Bonds? Their OF corners are dreadful, and could get away with playing him 5 out of 7 games to save his knees. Part2: Does anyone have any idea what his contract demands are?

Jay Jaffe: He's not a bad fit there given the corner outfielders (Michaels/Delluci in left and Gutierrez in right), but with Travis Hafner at DH, Bonds won't get much relief unless it's at Pronk's expense. That's less than ideal.

Last I heard via Buster Olney's column, I think he still was above $10 million.

BR (NYC): Fastened... ... are we there yet?

Jay Jaffe: Yup.

Nick Stone (East Village, New York City): Hey Jay, How much do the Mets's mounting injuries effect their status as NL east favorites? Who to blame for the spate of injuries? Luck? The front office of not making better contingency plans considering their fragile line up? Or the medical staff?

Jay Jaffe: Hey Nick!

Between the news about Delgado's hip, Beltran's knees, and Alou's hernia, I'd say that Mets fans should be very worried right now. New York doesn't have a ton of depth at the positions in question -- particularly at 1B -- they don't have prospects to deal anymore, and the NL East is looking to be a very competitive division, with the Phillies and Braves both capable of working their way past the Mets.

If you want to cast blame, it's on Minaya, who's assembled an aged lineup that's in win-now mode. I mean, signing Luis Castillo to a four-year deal is just a recipe for disaster.

mattymatty2000 (Ortiz Fanboy Land, USA): Hi Jay, Big fan. The Ortiz for the Hall campaign began in the Boston Globe this morning. What do you think his chances are?

Jay Jaffe: Oy. I'm not about to take anything away from Ortiz as a hitter; from 2003-2007 he's been one of the scariest in the game, and he's helped the Red Sox win two titles.

However, his value is severely limited by being a DH. He's never topped 10.0 WARP, and in that span his year by year numbers are 5.1, 7.5, 9.3, 8.7, 9.7. His JAWS peak score is just 45.7, less than seven wins a year. He's 31 years old, and not in great shape. I don't see how he's going to get there, even with his strong postseason credentials.

jedmonds15 (St. Louis): How good can Fukodome be this year? Where would he rank among all OFs?

Jay Jaffe: The line I've heard about Fukudome is that he's a J.D. Drew-type hitter, capable of .300/.400/.500. PECOTA has him at .289/.401/.504 with 30 VORP, which looks pretty good to me. That would have run 8th among MLB RFs last year - upper 25% basically.

matt (austin): What the insert expletive are the astros going to do about their pitching staff besides trying to run Roy Oswalt out for 300 innings? Does there even seem to be some semblance of a plan?

Jay Jaffe: They're going to put on rose-tinted glasses, hope that Wandy Rodriguez continues to develop (he lopped nearly 2 runs off his PERA last year, suggesting that his gains were real enough), hope that Felipe Paulino pitches like a guy who's one of the top two prospects in a system that's much stronger than Houston, hope that Brandon Backe's elbow continues to hold together, and that Woody Williams can pitch like it's 2003 and preserve the team's ball budget... are you detecting a trend here?

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): What % of the Dodger's prospect pipeline is credited to the DePodesta regime?

Jay Jaffe: It's not DePodesta who deserves the credit, it's Logan White, the team's assistant GM of Scouting. He's been in place since 2002 and has overseen the drafting of all of the young Dodger bucks since James Loney in that year, with drafts that are annually ranked among the best.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): I've seen some projections that suggest it's the A's who are in the best position to take advantage of a stumble from Anahiem than the Mariners are. First, how credible is that? And second, if that is credible, how much worse does that make Bavasi's win-now plan?

Jay Jaffe: I don't see this at all. The A's are in full-on rebuilding mode, and behind Joe Blanton they need a lot to hope that Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer, and Chad Gaudin are healthy. Add to that the need for sick-noters like Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby to bounce back and I think we're at the point where it's far more likely Blanton gets shipped out at the deadline than the A's contend.

I'm not about to defend Bavasi, but I don't see the M's overtaken by Oakland this year.

sndvl99 (Tarzana, CA): How long do you think it will take for the Pads to realize that Chase Headley should be their first baseman?

Jay Jaffe: Well, they've got Adrian Gonzalez, who was the only Padre hitter to meet his PECOTA projection last year. He's signed through 2010 and he's just 26, so I don't see him moving anywhere soon.

Ben (Ohio): If you were the Detroit Tigers, how would you deal with the Brandon Inge situation: trade him for whatever someone's willing to give you, hold out for something of value, keep him as a supersub, hold on to him and make him next year's catcher?

Jay Jaffe: Inge doesn't seem to want to catch, and at $6.2 million he'd make for a pricey utilityman. He's a capable fielder, but pretty valueless as a hitter except for providing pop off the bench, and he's unhappy to bood. I'm not sure the Tigers have many good options; I'd trade him for just about anything I could get.

Matt (San Francisco): Hi Jay. It seems with non-first ballot HOF inductees, the voting starts at some lower point, say 50%, and then increases till the player gets in. Why do you think in a situation like this that 25% of the voters change their mind at some point in the process? That seems like a lot of mind changing and/or odd logic.

Jay Jaffe: There's simply a lot of groupthink in the BBWAA voting process, whether we're talking about guys who have the magic milestones that make them first-ballot choices or guys who seem to be facing long uphill climbs. Momentum is a big part of it; voters tend to flock to guys as their vote totals rise above 50 percent.

I took a look at Hall voting patterns here:


mikedee (Philly): What do you think of the closer situation in Philly. Are we doomed with Lidge's knee injury?

Jay Jaffe: Lidge's knee injury is only part of the problem. Tom Gordon is the rest of it. He's an excellent relief pitcher when he's healthy, but he's as likely to break down as a $3 Rolex. Piling up more innings on him early on isn't a great recipe for keeping him healthy, and I don't like how thin the rests of that bullpen is.

JoshEngleman (Kutztown, PA): In your opinion, what are the chances that Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz enter the Hall together?

Jay Jaffe: I don't think they'll go in all at once. Glavine and Maddux perhaps, as both could be on their final seasons, but Smoltz looks to me like he's got a couple years left, and given that he's the one who's lacking the 300 wins, the longer he pitches, the more he helps his case. I do think he winds up there eventually, and I wouldn't disagree with it, particularly when you take his postseason credientials into consideration along with his excellent career.

jromero (seattle): Ronny Cedeno and Eric Patterson--are they in the Cubs' plans for '08? Should they be? If I may indulge one more, what do you expect from Franklin Morales in '08 and down the road? Thanks!

Jay Jaffe: At the moment it certainly doesn't seem like either is the Cub's first choice for a starting spot in the middle infield. Theriot would be pretty easy to displace at short, but Cedeno, as good as his minor-league numbers are, simply hasn't hit in his major-league opportunities.

As for Patterson, the Cubs are even deeper at 2B, with Mark De Rosa and Mike Fontenot, another Piniella favorite ahead of him. Patterson's got youth and more upside, but the other two were a pretty capable tandem last year, and PECOTA likes both of them - they're .360 OBPs and average-plus fielders, whereas Patterson's a .340 OBP type with below-average D.

Morales - as critical a part of the Rox run last year, I see him struggling a little bit. He's got to cut down the walks to succeed at Coors.

E Stanky (DC): Regarding Smoltz and the hall, remember that his years as a closer have impacted his win totals so if you consider his 154 saves in there I think that's more what will push him over rather than his post season success.

Jay Jaffe: I didn't forget the relief, but I didn't mention it either. It's worth noting that he's been rather dominant since moving back from the pen -- more dominant at this stage of his career than either of his 300-win teammates who overshadowed him for all those years.

Smoltz looks very good according to JAWS, with 122.8 career WARP, 58.5 peak, and a 90.7 overall JAWS. The average HOF pitcher is at 86.6. He may not have been the best pitcher on those Braves teams, but he'd be the best on about 25 others in many of those years.

mattymatty (Philly, PA): Hey Jay, Big fan. With the benefit of two years of hindsight, what do you make of Johnny Damon's contract with the Yankees?

Jay Jaffe: I think it's every bit the millstone that it looked like back when he signed. Certainly, there's something to be said for the fact that it hurt the Red Sox to lose him initially, and there's also something to be said for Melky Cabrera's rather surprising development into a solid major-leaguer during the time Damon's been in pinstripes. But given that Damon can't really play center field anymore, and will have a hard time staying in the lineup, this isn't pretty. He's owed $26 million for 2008-2009, and PECOTA thinks he'll be worth about $15 million. Blech.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Contrast David Ortiz with Edgar Martinez and you'll even have a better illustration of how far from the HoF Big Papi is. Maybe write that article when Ortiz retires.

Jay Jaffe: Very good point. Edgar Martinez comes in at 106.0/65.0/85.5 on the JAWS scale. The average HOF hitter comes in at 118.2/68.3/93.2, and the average HOF 3B (the position where he qualifies) is almost exactly the same. Ortiz is at 49.6/45.7/47.7 - he needs three 8-WARP seasons just to top Edgar on peak, and then about six more to reach him on career, and even then, he's still below average as far as JAWS is concerned.

Dan (Cincy): Dusty Baker - my guitar gently weeps. Talk me back from the ledge.

Jay Jaffe: Compared to what? Dusty or no Dusty, the Reds have a very nice bounty of prospects right now, and some solid building blocks in place around the diamond. Just be glad that the organization has any reason for optimism at all; you could always start rooting for the Pirates if it's the hope you can't stand.

Da Coach (Chicago): What's with all these New Yorkers... :) Who between Adam Jones and Delmon Young do you think will have the better career?

Jay Jaffe: I'd go with Jones for the following reasons:

1. he's still a center fielder

2. he'll be playing his pre-arb years in a much better hitters' park (at least until Monty Burns Stadium opens)

3. unless I've missed something, it doesn't appear he's got the makeup issues that Delmon has.

FWIW, PECOTA has him at a 241 upside over the next five years, Young at 190.8.

Or (Dallas): In that case, Jay, would you move Broussard to first base? I know his offense would be less valuable there and Chris Davis is imminent, but Taylor Teagarden is looming on the horizon as well-and that guy's as natural a catcher as we've had since Pudge.

Jay Jaffe: IANOPG - I am not our prospects guy, Kevin Goldstein is. But from where i sit, I'd say that since the Rangers aren't about to threaten to win anything this year, their best shot is letting the kids develop. Salty looks as though he needs another year in the minors based on last season's performance; might as well make sure he gets 1B down while he's down there. Teagarden, though he rates highly as a defender, needs to show he can make it through a full season behind the plate. Davis, who just completed Double-A, certainly looks like a monster on paper, but besides his power he's got only marginal plate discipline (150/35 K/BB last year) and is a bad defender.

In other words, if I'm the GM it's time to meet your new stopgap 1B, Ben Broussard.

JM (MD): Hey Jay, was hoping you'd weigh in on this. When we look back on the pitchers who pitched the majority of their games from the early 90's to today, how do you think we'll rank them in terms of a.) raw talent and b.) overall worth, from this group; Maddux, Clemens, Randy Johnson

Jay Jaffe: Right now this isn't a completely fair question with the steroid questions surrounding Clemens; they'll color the public perception of him for a long, long time. I think he'll be regarded as having the most natural talent of the three, since RJ is a freak show and Maddux a guy who's relied on guile and precision rather than power. As for value, from the JAWS standpoint Clemens has the edge in career (199.6/83.9/141.8), Maddux on peak (180.3/86.0/133.2), with the Unit (147.0/77.3/112.2) significantly behind in both measures.

Cory (Tampa Bay): Can Phil Hughes have a year like this W:15 L:7 IP: 165 K: 135 ERA: 3.65 Not crazy right?

Jay Jaffe: It's a bit optimistic. Looks a lot like his 75th percentile PECOTA projection with some better run support.

tddewan (Torrance, CA): What do the Mets do if Delgado/Alou are out for significant periods of time and/or under-produce? That line-up doesn't stretch out like it did two weeks ago...

Jay Jaffe: They enter a dogfight for the NL East, and make daily sacrifices to Jobu in the hopes that Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez can combine for at least 350 innings pitched.

havybeaks (Michigan): Is BP planning to add a medical glossary? I'd love to know what you and Will are talking about when you say things like "microfracture surgery", "subluxation", "shoulder laxity", "stress reaction", etc. Otherwise I have to visit Wikipedia every time I read a THR!

Jay Jaffe: I highly suggest telling that to Will via email. I'm sure he'd be amenable to a medical glossary on BP's site.

eli (Toronto): as a Jays fan I think the team's one weakness is offense, and that rests on the reovering shoulders of Rolen, Overbay and Wells. What are the chances these guys can produce career norms?

Jay Jaffe: In all of J.P. Ricciardi's years in Toronto, I've never been very impressed with his ability to assemble an offense. It always looks like a parade of guys with 770 OPSes - that's great for some positions and piss-poor for others. PECOTA has Overbay projected at .264/.339/.422, which is abysmal for a 1B. Wells is probably the most capable of bouncing back, while the combination of Rolen and turf just makes me sad.

Elsewhere you asked about an 800 runs scored/700 runs allowed projection for the Jays - I see them much closer to 750 on both sides of the ball, just another .500 team, give or take.

havybeaks (Michigan): I think it's unfair to label Randy Johnson a "freak show". Roger Clemens had a freakishly powerful and durable arm; Greg Maddux had a freakish ability to locate a pitch. To be that good one has to have some "freak" in their DNA.

Jay Jaffe: That wasn't meant to be derogatory at all. Most major leaguers are freak shows in that their skill sets are so incredibly rare that the average major leaguer is worth a couple million dollars a year, and the best of them are worth upwards of $20 million at their peak.

At those prices, i wish I could get my freak on.

Ok folks, I'm going to take one more question....

Otto (Halifax): John Heyman (si.com) thinks the Dodgers need a thirdbaseman and should bring in Inge for $19.1M over 3yrs. Not only that but he thinks LaRoche isn't good enough for no other reason than the Dodgers don't plan on giving him the job "LaRoche's press clippings have apparently outstripped reality," 1. What's he smoking? B. Who bases their opinion on what the Dodgers do with young players?

Jay Jaffe: That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard. Consider the source.

Fish, barrel, lock, load. One more...

gary (glenross): Where do you think VLad will fit in historically when his career is finished. After his first couple of years, I really expected him to keep improving, but he plateaued... yet what he actually has done is still pretty impressive.

Jay Jaffe: My impulse would be to say he'll fit onto a nice bronze plaque in Cooperstown, but I'm actually not so sure once I look at the JAWS numbers. Vlad's at 82.2/59.9/71.1, whereas the average HOF RF is at 125.0/68.7/96.8. Vlad's 32, he was a combined -19 FRAA, +9 FRAR over the past two years, meaning he's nearing the point of being DH-quality unless his body heals. I don't see him as more than a 7-8 WARP guy from here on out, and I think he's a bit far off to assume that's going to get him into the Hall.

Beyond the numbers, Vlad's certainly one of the most entertaining players of his day, a freakshow unto himself given his ability to hit bad balls.

Jay Jaffe: OK folks, that's all I have time for today. Hope you guys and gals can make it out to the book signing tonight, or to the one nearest you.

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