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Chat: Marc Normandin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday March 05, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Marc Normandin.


Marc Normandin is getting you ready for the fantasy season with his positional breakdowns on the BP Fantasy Beat.

Marc Normandin: Hello all, glad to be here, and thanks for stopping by. The focus of this chat is on the fantasy rankings that we've released so far, which can be found here and here. You know the drill by now; baseball questions, and whatever else tickles your fancy, from music to books to of course, video games. I'm currently listening to Moving Pictures by Rush and contemplating Dreamcast games to buy online. Let's get started.

kddean (Chicago): Is the only question with Matt Kemp his playing time? I don't even care if he hits 8th, just as long as he gets at bats, is my thinking skewed?

Marc Normandin: In my mind, that's the only question. Kemp can hit, and very well. The Dodgers would be foolish not to employ him somewhere in the lineup on a daily basis, especially since he can hit right now.

kmdarcy (Portland, Oregon): How do the Giants NOT lose 100 games? (And why does Brian Sabean still have a job?)

Marc Normandin: Aaron Rowand is going to have to tenaciously crash into a lot of walls for the Giants to not lose 100 games. Walls and opposing pitchers.

Let's ignore the fact that I forgot to close that link in the intro, shall we? That whole second blue part is one page of rankings.

Matt Murphy (Waltham, MA): Videogames! 2k8 or the Show?

Marc Normandin: The Show, hands down. MLB 07 The Show was my favorite baseball game ever, and I only traded it in because I'm going to get the 08 edition on my shiny new PS3.

The games are much more fun nowadays with the career modes, and The Show does that the best. 2K8 has a lot of issues from what I've read...I do miss having them around for other sports to compete with EA's monopoly on sports though. They pushed each other well I thought.

Ameer (Bloomington, IN): What's with players being angry when their contracts are renewed? Everyone has to put their time in at EVERY job before they start making money. I'm an engineer - I interned for $9/hr for 5 years doing the EXACT same work that engineers making $90-$100k/yr make before I graduated and got a pay raise. I understand the work it takes to make it to the majors, but putting in your time is the nature of any job. Why should it be any different for baseball players? Not to mention that they will be getting thousands of percent pay raises after they put in their 3 years.

Marc Normandin: They feel exploited, and with the union to back them when necessary, it's okay to grumble. Players see that a smaller subset of free agency receives the major payday they dream of, and they worry about things like career-ending injuries before they put in the time for the big contract.

I don't think every player who grumbles is a lock to leave, I just think that the home teams are going to have to try harder to keep them when it gets to that point.

Jimmy Ballgame (San Diego): Who will have a better year, Mauer or Martin? How good will Alex Rios be? (a 6'6 OF who can steal 20 can't have too many comparables...)

Marc Normandin: Russell Martin; you've got a solid line, you know the Dodgers will push him to play a ton of games, and he steals bases. Mauer's power is going to dip according to PECOTA, and that Twins lineup is awful.

I'm still not on speaking terms with PECOTA after seeing the projection it spit out for him this year. Let's revise RF right now and slot him in behind Hermida and ahead of the Kemp/Milledge pair where playing time might be an issue. What do you guys think, should we bump Abreu or Francouer to #11?

Sully (Los Angeles): Manny Ramirez - contract year rebound or continued decline? I have to believe that, if he has another year like last year, neither the Red Sox nor anyone else will give him $20 MM a year going forward.

Marc Normandin: I see it this way...if Manny does what he did last year, the Sox will probably be able to re-sign him for less money than he is making now after declining his option. If not, the Sox have to look elsewhere. As for whether he'll decline or not, I think we're done seeing the monster Manny campaigns, but he has spent a lot of time keeping in shape this winter in order to stave off the effects of aging. It would be interesting to see just how effective that can be, since normally he just works on his technique rather than physique.

I'm not sure he'll rebound, but I'll vote for stasis.

Max (Brooklyn): Hello Marc, I'm drafting in a league with 12 Pos. players and only 7 pitchers on each team. Should I be drafting pitchers high? Thanks

Marc Normandin: 7 pitchers eh? What's the SP/RP distribution?

jphan44 (medford,MA): are you a corey hart fan? and what do you see out of liriano this year?

Marc Normandin: I think we should start the Corey Hart Fan Club right now. Someone come up with a catchy title for the club please.

I'm a huge Corey Hart fan, hence my ranking him #3 amongst all outfielders for this year's draft. If you're including Braun as an outfielder, that makes him #4, but the Brewers have to be pretty pleased with their new outfield situation after putting up with Menchkins for a year plus.

Franky Liriano is tough, because you don't know how long it will take for his command to come back. He should do fine for himself, although I wouldn't expect 2006 to happen again immediately.

Steve (Detroit, MI): Where would Joey Votto rank on your first basemen list if he were given the starting job over Hatteberg? I assume that the uncertainty over his playing time has affected his fantasy projection pretty heavily.

Marc Normandin: Before I cursed about seeing Scott Hatteberg ahead of him on the depth chart, I was about to rank him either #9 or #10. The playing time was the problem, yes; keep an eye out for him this year, as Hatteberg may eventually lose the job.

Tim (Portland, OR): Very interested to hear more of your thoughts on Milledge as he's come available in my keeper league. Can you tell me what you see that makes you optimistic about him this year and going forward?

Marc Normandin: Milledge has played in pitcher's parks for a few years now, between his time in the minors and stints at Shea. According to the early reports, the new Nationals park is supposed to be neutral, which means we will see a "boost" to Milledge's numbers. Combine that with natural progression from age and experience plus PECOTA's optimism, and I start to pay a lot more attention to Milledge than I used to.

PECOTA and Nate Silver have been big fans for awhile, and that's enough to catch my attention before digging deeper.

tschiera (Brooklyn): Where would BJ Upton rank on your list of 2B today?

Marc Normandin: That's a good question, since he slots in nicely alongside Brandon Phillips (#3). Phillips probably has more power at present (I'm leaning towards his 75th-90th rather than his weighted mean, personally), but Upton will probably best him in average. Both of them are going to get you steals too, so it's a matter of team building preference.

Fred (Houston): Marc, you have the 2nd pick in a mixed league draft, who you taking and why?

Marc Normandin: A third baseman. If ARod goes first, I'm taking Wright, and vice versa. As I mentioned today, I'm not averse to picking up Pujols, but with the potential elbow problems lingering, I'd rather use my pick elsewhere and feel safer about it.

kingofstyle (New York): Thanks for the chat. I have Daric Barton and Alex Gordon as my first base combo in my league (not a keeper league). Will I get enough power out of either of them, or should I try to get something else? I'm pretty set everywhere else.

Marc Normandin: PECOTA thinks you could use a boost. Gordon's down for a .195 ISO, and Barton for a .152...if you're really set everywhere else, then you shouldn't be hurt too much holding on to them, especially with Gordon's potential, but you might want to start sending out feelers.

Mark (Milwaukee): Moving Pictures: Great Rush Album or Greatest Rush Album?

Marc Normandin: Greatest Rush Album. If someone thinks there is a better one, I'd love to hear your argument, if only so I can then enjoy that one.

dianagramr (NYC): re: Corey Hart fan club name .... easy "Sunglasses in Right" As for Moving Pictures .... best RUSH album ever! Fantasy question: Is there any scenario in which Johan goes first in a mixed league, non-keeper snake draft?

Marc Normandin: Sunglasses in Right, eh? Any others folks? I'm counting on you here. If Johan goes first, it's your job to make that fantasy owner pay for it the rest of the draft. We had someone pick Joe Mauer third last year overall, and he hasn't lived it down yet.

R.J. (Beyond the Boxscore): Wright over Hanley Ramirez? The position scarcity fairy weeps.

Marc Normandin: Hey there R.J., thanks for swinging by. Hanley may be the best shortstop, but it's arguable that Wright is the best player in the game right now, and he even has the stats to back it up in fantasy.

Plus, shouldn't you be asking me why I left Jason Bartlett off the list? ;-)

Rob (Bloomington, IL): Two part question. 1) Does this Brian Roberts to the Cubs trade ever happen. 2) How would this affect Roberts' fantasy value? Seems like he'd score a lot more, and maybe even add a few extra dingers.

Marc Normandin: I'm not sure how many homers he would add, but Roberts would probably start writing love letters to Jim Hendry as thanks for getting him into a real lineup. Getting Roberts would put the Cubs on par with the Mets I think.

Steve (Southfield, MI): What's the earliest you can justify taking your man crush Hart?

Marc Normandin: I'd say anytime after Matt Holliday is drafted is fine, assuming he goes where he belongs. You may be better off with Beltran or Sizemore, but probably not significantly so.

Tim (Portland, OR): Not a fantasy question as much as a player evaluation question: do you still believe in Andy Marte? If not, are there lessons to be learned from the universal love that was showered on him?

Marc Normandin: I've never been a huge fan really. I've spent more times wondering what's wrong with his splits the past few years than I have praising him, which probably isn't a good sign. That's something I keep meaning to look at, but I'm kind of waiting for him to be stuck in the majors before I stick a fork in him as a star. He's probably going to end up average, if anything.

Jack (LA): Do you think the demise of Michael Young has been overstated? Look at his numbers after a really tough start.

Marc Normandin: He hit .349/.399/.457 in the second half, which means he had an ISO of .108, not that good. Let's not forget he had a .410 BABIP (quick calculation, so correct me if I'm wrong) during that time span, and that sure won't hold up.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Is Geovanny Soto going to be steal of many drafts? In terms of '08 projection vs '07 stats, name recognition, position scarcity, etc. Anyone competitive with him overall?

Marc Normandin: Soto is one of the better steals out there. He ranks well in the PECOTA Leaderboards in the annual with the other rookies (cough cough) and PECOTA also gave him a pretty reassuring looking Beta score.

I don't think people are putting enough faith in Chris B. Young to turn it around at the plate this year. He really just needs to add some batting average to fix his line, and the walks can come later.

Speaking of the annual, for those of you in the area, Steven Goldman, Joe Sheehan and myself will be appearing in not one but two bookstores in Boston next Wednesday. If any of you still want to assault me for omitting Carl Crawford from higher rankings, that's your chance to strike!

Joe (NY): With Adam Jones ripping up Spring Training who do you think puts up better numbers this year, him or a scuffling Justin Upton?

Marc Normandin: Meh, pitchers don't really have it together at this time of year, and hitters have to get their swings in before they get going. I don't pay much attention to spring training stats, honestly.

Tommy (OPS,FL): David Wright best player in the game? I'd argue he isn't even the best third basemen in New York.

Marc Normandin: That's why I said it was arguable. A fair case can be made for a few players, and he's one of them.

dianagramr (NYC): Can you offer any general advice as to how one's overall drafting strategy should change based on the number of teams in the draft? (assume snake draft, anywhere from 9-14 teams)

Marc Normandin: If it's a snake draft, you might have to pick your guy instead of waiting on him if there are more teams. I oftentimes try to hold out on certain players as long as I can, and it works to varying degrees. The key in a larger league is to make sure you have a lot of backup plans ready, because if your plan backfires by a round you might be in for a long night of drafting.

Steve (Southfield, MI): PECOTA has a pretty conservative projection for Miggy Cabrera. How do you see him doing hitting 5th in that loaded lineup?

Marc Normandin: I think we'll see some boosts to his R and RBI totals, but the other stats should stay largely the same. Yes, he's leaving that vast park outside Miami, but the Tigers' park isn't exactly hitter friendly either, and he's losing out on visiting more of the extreme hitter parks.

He's still a potential first rounder, and that Tigers lineup makes him intriguing.

Sully (Los Angeles): What's your take on Melky Cabrera, both for this year and the next couple years? Trying to get a feel for his value in a keeper league.

Marc Normandin: I'd say he's not worth keeping yet. He may develop some power, but for now he's an on-base guy with some speed. More useful in real life than in the fantasy world, though that could change. Keep an eye on him, but there are better options than him in a keeper league, even a deep one.

pytheian (Brooklyn, NY): Bump Abreu. He was brutal against LHP last year. Shelley Duncan could take 10-20 games from him in platoon.

Marc Normandin: The people have spoken: Abreu is to be dumped. Someone notify his people immediately.

Steve (St. Louis): Pick one out of the three for next year. Ted Lilly, Oliver Perez, or Phil Hughes?

Marc Normandin: Ooh, that's such a tough question. I expect Perez to have the best starts, but probably also the worst ones. Ted Lilly should pick up a bunch of wins and strike out a lot of hitters, and Phil Hughes could be the most average or the most productive.

I'll get back to you.

Brecken (Chicago): Towles v Soto. Do you like Towles more because he can be spotted better? Or do you just see more production coming from him? Thanks

Marc Normandin: I like Soto more than Towles in the real world, but Towles is forecasted for double digits in steals, pretty valuable coming out of the catcher slot.

Erik (OPS): What do you think the best game for Dreamcast is? I say Gauntlet Legends.

Marc Normandin: Power Stone 2? Shenmu? Bangai-O? I do love me some Treasure shooters, after all. If it wasn't going for as much as it is on Amazon and Ebay, I'd own it.

I had a Dreamcast back in the day, until someone pulled a wire too hard and it cracked the innards when it fell. I miss it so, but luckily I have another one now, so I just need to get some games again. That system is Sega's crowning achievement, unless you want to count selling games based entirely on name recognition rather than quality as an accomplishment.

Erik (OPS,FL): Gonzalez ranked ahead of Pena? Explain yourself please.

Marc Normandin: According to PECOTA, you've got a better chance of securing AVG with Gonzalez, and they are pretty equal on power in their forecast, homers wise. I'm also more optimistic about the Padres lineup than PECOTA is, so that's where my opinion comes in. They're basically the same value wise honestly.

Steve (Houston): It seems like mocking an owner for taking Mauer third is a completely different story than mocking an owner for taking Santana first. Mauer can be had 3 or four rounds later. Santana likely won't be around when it gets back to you.

Marc Normandin: But that's a mistake I don't want to make. I want someone else in the league to make it, and then I want to viciously taunt him for it for the rest of the season.

Phil (S & S): Rush's seminal album, Moving Pictures? When did we raise the warning system from Blackwatch Plaid? Ha! Ha! Obscure non-mainstream pop culture reference...

Marc Normandin: Is Harvey Birdman non-mainstream?

Erik (OPS,FL): I'll sell you my Gauntlet Legends for $5.

Marc Normandin: Probably a better deal than some of the deals going down on ebay. People there are evil sometimes.

Does anyone have a copy of Xenogears still? If so, can we be friends?

DILLS (Chicago): Gauntlet Legends ROCKS! "Green Warrior... Needs food... NOW!" Gotta love that! If you were offered Shane Victorino for Stephen Drew and A McCutcheon in a 5x5 keeper league, what would you do? What about Ed Encarnacion instead of Victorino?

Marc Normandin: Gauntlet is coming out on Nintendo DS, and IGN's headline was something like, "DS Needs Food Badly!" What a great headline.

It depends on how thin the rest of your minor league roster is honestly. Do you have other players down there, or is he necessary for your team's future?

Tderrick17 (Virginia): Our league has a two-catcher rule, with daily changes. 10 teams, keeper league... would you agree that keeping two top 5 catchers would be a wise strategy? You might end up leaving some poor chump starting Sandy Alomar Jr out of necessity.

Marc Normandin: As funny as it would be to see that happen, you're probably better off keeping another position with more production after picking one catcher. I had some injury issues last year, and ended up just starting one of two catchers instead of hurting my rate stats.

BR (NYC): You haven't gotten to the starting pitchers in your Fantasy Beat lists, but they're the biggest question mark in my upcoming draft. The PFM keeps bringing Smoltz him at #3 on its list for my settings. I'm not sure he'll have the gas to go through the whole season. Can we get a quick preview of your thoughts?

Marc Normandin: I think he can, yes. PECOTA has him down for 202 innings, and he hit 205 last year. Dude's a beast, and his elbow seems to be better when he's a starter according to him.

max (Brooklyn): It's 2SP,2RP,3P.

Marc Normandin: I might take one starter kind of early to solidify my starters, but I still wouldn't go too crazy unless someone starts filling up their bench with starters to screw the rest of you.

theguag (Louisville): Bounce back year for Lyle Overbay or do you buy into PECOTA's depressing outlook for him?

Marc Normandin: I'm not sure if he'll be that awful at home, but the shine has come off for sure.

theguag (Louisville): PECOTA was bullish on Dioner Navarro last year and bearish this year. Does his late season surge have you interested in him at all this year?

Marc Normandin: I'll be keeping an eye on him, but I'm not particularly excited about him over other options. The late-season surge does help, but PECOTA does take that sort of thing into account.

patsen29 (Toronto): When do we see *the* great Wii baseball game?

Marc Normandin: I'm not sure really. It's so much harder to make licensed sports games these days with all of the long-term deals, and developers are more interested in putting shiny graphics on a sports game than they are recreating the motions. If EA still did baseball, then we'd have a motion-based baseball game.

BR (NYC): You've got a Util slot in your lineup - at what point in the draft do you consider taking Hafner, if at all?

Marc Normandin: Not until later. I'm with PECOTA on the stance that he isn't done, but he also isn't Hafner anymore. I'd save the Utility slot for the best leftover hitter at another position, or just be a jerk and pick up two awesome players from the same position.

Rob (Bloomington, IL): You can't mention the dreamcast and not look at Marvel vs. Capcom (1 or 2). My Ryu/Venom combo would absolutely destroy you.

Marc Normandin: Solid games, but I do get destroyed in thme. That's why I didn't say Soul Calibur either. I prefer Power Stone and Smash Bros. for fighters. By the way, did I mention I'm probably not leaving my house Sunday to do anything except pick up Smash?

Oh, and for anyone with a PS3, my ID is MJN328.

Phil (S & S): Nobody I've met outside of college seems to know what the heck it is. Maybe that's a reflection on me. Ha! Ha! Ection. On me.

Marc Normandin: Harvey Birdman is okay, but...

Buff (Austin TX): I was surprised that Jhonny Peralta wouldn't be one of the top 14 shortstops with his power potential: I mean, having the range of a houseplant doesn't factor into 5x5, right?

Marc Normandin: I'm not the person to ask for positive things to say about Peralta. He was disappointing again last year, and if you adjust for his BABIP, he comes out even worse. PECOTA isn't a huge fan either, and remember how much it loved him last season.

Jermaine (Colorado): PS3 Or 360?

Marc Normandin: PS3 has more games I'm into; I love FPS, but I can only take so many of them, and PS3 has/will have more of the Japanese niche stuff that I love. Also, having a blu-ray player and not having a massive failure rate is huge.

Tderrick17 (Virginia): The new name of the Corey Hart Fan club is Sunglasses Optional.

Marc Normandin: That's a good one. But...

Ben (Ohio): How about the "Never Surrender-ers"?

Marc Normandin: That's also good. I want to hear some votes for these.

Fantasy Manager (Scoresheet League): If you were going to take one 3B upside pick late in the draft, would it be Willy Aybar, Wilson Betemit, Morgan Ensberg, Dallas McPherson, or someone else altogether?

Marc Normandin: Third base is loaded this year, but it's also kind of cut and dry. I'm not particularly fond of anyone on that list, though taking a late, late flyer on Ensberg is tempting.

Buff (Austin TX): PECOTA still thinks Peralta should slot in at #7 ahead of Lopez.

Marc Normandin: Actually, PECOTA has Lopez ranked 8th in VORP at the position, and Peralta #11, Factor in the steals difference, and you see why I put Lopez there.

Tderrick17 (Virginia): Or the Hart Foundation, of course...

Marc Normandin: Uh oh, I think someone just tapped into my old-school love of wrestling.

slarkin712 (Saint Louis): McLouth vs. Bourn: Both will probably be part of a platoon, but how do you see things workin out for them. If McLouth beats out Morgan I see him being a nice sleeper, but I'm not sure what to expect from Bourn(apparently Ed Wade likes him).

Marc Normandin: I'm much more of a fan of McLouth than I am of Bourn fantasy wise. McLouth is one of my guys this year for later on in the draft. I shouldn't even bother hiding it anymore, since most of the people in my league read BP anyways. Sigh. Even in last year's role, McLouth has value, though he'll add more to his counting stats if he isn't in a platoon.

Doug (KC): I foresee a huge breakout season by Edwin Encarnacion...agree?

Marc Normandin: PECOTA likes the way you think. If Dusty Baker sees it like the three of us do, then yeah, he should breakout. I'm a fan personally.

tschiera (Brooklyn): I'd be interested to know where Pujols and Braun fit into your top 20 fantasy players...do you have a list you'd consider offering us readers?

Marc Normandin: I haven't put one together yet, but it could be something I post on Unfiltered sometime soon. The pitchers might take me a long time depending on how I structure it. How long a list would you guys and gals like? And remember, as much as I'd love to rank everyone, it's not in the cards.

jlebeck66 (WI): Thin air going to revive Marcus Giles at all, or is he done? Iannetta starting in COL by end of season?

Marc Normandin: Petco wasn't Giles only problem last year, so I'm not sure that playing in Colorado is going to fix much of anything for him outside of some home games. I think Iannetta starting has a lot to do with how the Rockies record looks later in the year. If they aren't in the race again (or look like they did pre-winning streak) then maybe we see them give him some more playing time.

Matt Murphy (Waltham, MA): Marc, who's the best person to pester with questions about the PFM?

Marc Normandin: One stop shopping with Ben Murphy, for all your PFM needs.

DILLS (Chicago): We can only keep 5 minor leaguers... I've got McCutch, Lillibridge and Carillo but I don't mind cleaning out the system every year. "Green Fantasy Team Needs Outfielders Badly!"

Marc Normandin: If you need the outfielders, and you don't mind risking the potential stud, then go for it. I'd try to get Encarnacion instead of Victorino though, even if you need the OF. Victorino is aiming sort of low, no?

I'm getting a lot of votes for the Hart Foundation in the queue. Going once...

Albert Pujols (FL): How many games will I spend on the DL this year? How many runs per game will the Cardinals score during the span in which both I and Glaus are on the DL?

Marc Normandin: If you get surgery, most of them. If you don't, you'll probably try to play in every single game, won't you?

I still think Toronto got the better end of that Rolen/Glaus deal. I'm amazed at how some people completely skip over park factors and H/R splits. Oh, and if they both go down, the Cardinals are in for some trouble. They don't look that good to begin with, and losing out on Pujols would hurt. Glaus isn't as big of a deal honestly. They'll smart about that one from Day 1 by not having Rolen.

Tommy (RaysAnatomy): Do you think Kazmir will top 200 innings this year?

Marc Normandin: PECOTA says about 190, and I think if his arm ends up being more trouble than we've heard that he'll miss out. They may be shooting for a much improved record, but they're too smart to mortgage away the future of their best pitcher like that.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): Marc, how do you approach players like Gallardo, Lidge, or Kelvim Escobar, who all have seemingly minor health issues before the season has even started? Is it a mistake to draft a player who is starting the season on the DL?

Marc Normandin: I'm cautious, though not overly so unless they have a history of injuries. I've drafted players who I know are starting on the DL if they are already listed as so, and then I just put them on my DL slot. That of course depends on how severe their injury is and if I have the depth to make up for playing a man short for awhile.

Ryan (Santa Barbara): Did you forget to rank Garret Atkins in your article today, or do you rank him outside of the top 10?

Marc Normandin: He just missed, but only because I have a lot of faith in Longoria beating out his weighted mean projection. If you don't think Encarnacion is going to get the PAs that PECOTA has forecasted, feel free to bump Longoria and Atkins up a spot a piece.

It was nothing against Atkins, it's just that third base is ridiculously stacked. Kouzy, LaRoche and Mark Reynolds aren't on it either, and they're better than some of the players on the back ends of other positions.

tommybones (brooklyn): What happened to Howie Kendrick in your 2B rankings? Not too keen on a big year, I guess?

Marc Normandin: PECOTA had too negative an outlook for me to move him up as much as was necessary. I'm a fan, but not enough to bump him that far. PECOTA has him down for .286/.320/.438 with 60 R, 63 RBI, 9 SB and 12 HR. I like Pedroia better than that, since he's in a more productive lineup.

I'm not sure if PECOTA has something specific it doesn't like about Kendrick this year, or if it's just not a fan of guys who depend on average as much as he does in general. That's the kind of thing I'll have to keep an eye on this season in order to improve upon next year's rankings.

ChuckR (Addison, IL): Do you play in any AL-only or NL-only leagues? How does the possible trade of, say, Joe Nathan between leagues effect your pre-season valuation of him?

Marc Normandin: I've wanted to play in an AL or NL only league for awhile, but I haven't done it yet. Something about scraping the bottom of the talent barrel is appealing to me though. It would really depend on which team he goes to, since Saves are such a team dependent thing. Edit: It seems I misunderstood the question, so to clear up any confusion, I've been putting together the rankings with standard rules, and I haven't considered AL/NL only options. That's where you want PFM to come in, as you can tweak that to your heart's content to figure out the specifics for your league.

Paulie (NJ): Luis Castillo, useless Met for fantasy or most useless Met for fantasy?

Marc Normandin: That was one of my least favorite signings of the entire winter. I don't want to know what Minaya was thinking.

Alf (work): re: wii baseball games. Check out MLB Power Pros... Looks like a complete kids game, but the gameplay is surprisingly awesome.

Marc Normandin: Already bought it when it came out, played through it and traded it in. I don't keep sports games very long, but it was a lot of fun while I had it. Hooray chibi baseball

stewbies (WNY): Does Eric Byrnes have one more good season left in him?

Marc Normandin: He might, but I'm not going to draft him to find out, unless I pick him up very late. I expect someone will overdraft him based on last year before that happens though.

The steals make him look like an attractive option, but he had a lot go right with splits that normally plague him that could come back to haunt him. He may have legitimately improved, but I'm not convinced enough about it to snag him.

Jessica (NYC): Which player do you think will be the biggest fantasy disappointment this year?

Marc Normandin: Albert Pujols if he ends up opting for surgery once the Cardinals realize they aren't going to compete in the Central.

I thought they were better than they ended up playing last year, but injuries and complete busts wiped them out too. I can't see Pujols playing through pain all year if surgery is going to make them a better team in 2009.

Steve (DC): Is it worth taking a flier on Nick Johnson, or will he be sharing time with Young until Bowden (who's known to be picky) finds the perfect deal for one of them?

Marc Normandin: That same question kept him off of my rankings this morning. From what I've heard, they are both playing for the job, but they will probably get some playing time split until one is dealt. Jim loves his trades.

It's worth grabbing him late if the rest of your league has the same indecision.

costa24 (Montreal): Games much more fun nowadays? Have you played "Ken Griffey Jr presents Major League Baseball" on the SNES?

Marc Normandin: I still own the cartridge, actually.

stewbies (WNY): Was Garko close to cracking the top 10?

Marc Normandin: I don't have a specific place for him, but ranked just by VORP, Garko is behind others such as Youkilis, Konerko, Barton, and Mike Jacobs before we even get into the top 10.

Tim (DC): Marc, general BP question: do all the writers contributors ever get together in one place? Or mainly conference calls and emails? Like have you met Rany, Clay, or Gary face-to-face?

Marc Normandin: I have met quite a few of the BP crew...and you can too, if you come to our book tour for Baseball Prospectus 2008! (shameless plug grin)

Remember, March 12, two dates in Boston. Be there for Joe Sheehan, Steven Goldman and myself, as we sign books with a fury that can't be described, only experienced.

jackalltogether (Boston): Three questions: Would I be crazy to take Ryan Braun third? For that matter, has a position reasonably up the defensive spectrum ever been this dominant offensively? Finally, why isn't next week's BP shindig in Boston anywhere with a liquor license? I think Game On would be thrilled to host such a classy bunch as we

Marc Normandin: You wouldn't be crazy. It all depends on how you plan on building the rest of your team from that point forward, and Braun does enough well that he's a worthwhile top 5 pick.

That second question would have to be directed to one of our more historically oriented BP'ers, who have either access to stats or more memory than I do.

As for the third, the bars would have to get themselves a stack of books for us to sign, since not everyone brings their own copy. That and to avoid fantasy baseball fist fights.

Ryan (Santa Barbara): Re: Viciously Taunting Fantasy Opponents If someone traded Eric Byrnes at $13 for Bob Wickman at $31 prior to the 2007 season in a 7-keeper NL Only League, that's grounds to make fun of him for the rest of his life, right?

Marc Normandin: He better have really needed saves, though to be fair, did anyone see Byrnes doing that last year? I think by taunting him, we justify Byrnes season, and I'm not ready to do that.

mikeduin (Seattle): Who is going to end up closing for the Cubs? The BP depth charts seem as clueless as I am...Wood? Marmol? Howry? Dempster?

Marc Normandin: I go to the depth charts for advice at this time of year, so the real answer is only in Lou Piniella's head. At least that's not as scary of a thought as what's going on inside Dusty's noggin. You might want to get your closer elsewhere if there is no clear-cut choice, and then use the Cubs situation as your midseason closer acquisition.

Justin (Milwaukee): Where do you suggest drafting Santana? PFM has him in the # 1 by my leagues specifics.

Marc Normandin: If PFM has him #1 for your leagues stat settings, then by all means, draft without fear of taunting. It's very pitcher heavy then?

Ben F (California): Any high upside SP you might suggest to think about around picks 200-250?

Marc Normandin: Are you in the middle of a draft? Who's left on the board?

Steve (St. Louis): Have you decided between Hughes, Lilly, and Perez?

Marc Normandin: I think I'd pick Lilly first, and then Hughes. Perez is a later guy for me since he's kind of inconsistent.

Joey (Chula Vista): I need a SS at the end of my draft. Is Hardy a no-brainer over Escobar?

Marc Normandin: I'd take Hardy for the power over Escobar.

Bill (New Mexico): A fantasy fantasy: Just suppose catchers got to add the numbers of guys they caught stealing to their own stolen-base numbers -- which seems reasonable from a valuation perspective. How would that affect your rankings? For starters, don't the Molinas, notably Yadier, begin to look highly attractive?

Marc Normandin: That would add a whole new element, especially in today's game where defense seems to be the game of catchers. I still don't think I could bring myself to draft Bengie, but Yadier sounds like he would fit that perfectly if you missed out on the offensive-oriented guys.

davelamb (san leandro): Note to Justin --- it all depends on the the dollars you allocate to pitching -- you get to decide with the PFM

Marc Normandin: Just a heads up from another reader.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): PFM loves Johan, much more than Peavy actually. You have to set your P $$$ very low to get a good roto ranking out of that. He's off the charts by most parameter sets.

Marc Normandin: There you go folks. It's all very dependent on the settings you plug in, but drafting Santana #1 isn't always a bad thing. Just in leagues where PFM doesn't think he should go first :-)

Tderrick17 (Virginia): Hart Foundation, Hart Foundation - Yes We Can

Marc Normandin: Still in the lead! Also folks, time for the lightning round. I've got to wrap this up soon.

Rob (Bloomington, IL): How big is your personal library of baseball books? I've got 50 or so, but something tells me you top that.

Marc Normandin: It's not that large actually. I have a lot of annuals and such, but not a ton of baseball literature. I love a good baseball book every now and then of course.

Jessica (NYC): Bonderman should go no earlier than the __ round.

Marc Normandin: There are 25 pitchers in front of him in the VORP projections, which means he's probably at the back-end of the top 25 starters. Depending on how your league drafts, the rounds are different, so keep in mind the context of his ranking.

Brian (Nashville): Do you see a bounceback season for Hafner, or is he already on the decline? Would you take him over Dunn in a standard 5x5 H2H?

Marc Normandin: Not a chance. He might bounce back some from last season, but I'm not sure that the old Hafner is coming back--unless of course, it really was injuries holding him back most of last season, and he's all healed up. You should be able to snag him later on due to other people's worries, so I'd take Dunn over him.

dootstev (MI): Soriano or Sizemore?

Marc Normandin: Sizemore. I expect his batting average and overall line to pick up soon, and he's a great power/speed combination as well.

Steve-o (Fort Myers): Jay Bruce or Joey Votto?

Marc Normandin: Jay Bruce.

Steve (Houston): If Santana puts up Randy Johnson 1999-2002 numbers over the next four years, we're going to viciously taunt you. 257IP, 354K, 2.48ERA, 1.04WHIP, 20-7W-L

Marc Normandin: Thankfully I don't think he's going to do that. Santana's a great pitcher, but that seems a little out of his reach. If he does though, feel free to taunt. And, of course, if your leagues specific settings say Santana is #1, I'm not going to tease. That's the beauty of the PFM system; I'm just ranking in general terms and with my own preferences.

randolph3030 (Jersey): Moving Pictures, the best? Maybe if you are poser Rush fan. Tom Sawyer sucks more than Rick Sawyer in 1977 with Padres. 1. Farewell to Kings 2. 2112 3. Permanent Waves 4. Signals 5. Moving Pictures. The last three songs on MP are practically throw aways. Right now my wish list has over half of the Brewers and half of the Braves lineups, what's the tipping point for too many guys from one team.

Marc Normandin: My favorite tracks on Moving Pictures are YYZ and Limelight, personally. I get nervous when I have 3 guys from the same team, and it usually ends poorly. Someone gets hurt, and it screws with everything down the line. That said, both of those teams look like they have tempting players...

stewbies (wny): do you agree that Santana is significantly better than Peavy? Do I go the extra $5 and get Santana?

Marc Normandin: When I was making the leaderboards, they switch back and forth a bit between the top spots for different categories. There's only 0.12 separating their peripheral ERAs, and both receive a boost from their home park. It's not a significant difference in real life, but depending on the context of your fantasy league, as has been mentioned, there can be a one. If you can get along without that $5 just fine elsewhere, you should splurge just in case Wins are the only real separation.

mikeduin (Seattle): You're the man -- that is all. Thanks for such a long chat.

Marc Normandin: Thanks, I appreciate that. Time to wrap this up though.

Marc Normandin: Thanks for stopping by again, and as always, feel free to e-mail me any questions I didn't get to, and send me your suggestions for the formatting of the pitcher rankings. Don't forget, those in the area: two Boston dates to get your copy of the BP annual signed by Steven Goldman, Joe Sheehan and myself. Enjoy spring training, and good luck in your drafts!

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