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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday March 25, 2008 2:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.


Teams are paring down rosters and making lineup decisions. No one evaluates those calls as well as Christina Kahrl, creator of Transaction Analysis, does.

Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, sorry to slip in late, but between getting the site lined up and still recovering slowly from the same sort of flu bug that's given us a little less of J.J. Hardy to love, I'm still putting things back together again, and duty comes first. So, with the now-standard ignominious cash-grab "Opening Day" exercise kicking off the season (before un-kicking it when the teams resume stateside exhibition play), let's kick off a good ol' fashioned BP chat...

dangor (New York): With the wealth of knowledge and websites like this out there, why would anybody in their right mind hire guys like Dusty Baker? But then again, why would anybody hire Isiah Thomas, but I digress.

Christina Kahrl: To be sure, I've been one of the most reliably consistent critics of Dusty as a manager, but the man has his virtues. He still manages to command considerable respect within the industry as a leader, and for better or for worse, studio miniondom among the Mousemen helps keep a guy's profile up.

I believe the virtues of his gifts have been greatly exaggerated, but that's not to decry the values of human leadership, personal charisma, and commanding the respect of your team. He's not much of a tactician, he's never really run an especially good lineup card, he's the goofy mancrush king at the sight of gray hair on a player, and he may, like Tony La Russa, have long outlasted any reasonable facsimile of the man originally reputed to be an effective communicator with the press.

Put that kind of manager in charge or a heavily veteran team with a pretty set lineup, and Dusty Baker would fit in rather nicely. Unfortunately, that team isn't the Reds. The Reds are instead a team where there are a lot of options, choices to make, and players to sort out as far as what they're for. Those aren't things Dusty's good at, and it shows.

Chomsky (Brooklyn): Christina, here's a chance to say something snarky about the Giants: go.

Christina Kahrl: This morning, I noted in conversation that they'll suck with aplomb, but to be fair, they won't be entirely dull. I don't know where their season ticket sales are, but I'd want to see what Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Jonathan Sanchez can do. The pity is that lineup, which will be bad enough to get people jonesing for Bob Brenly comeback.

lennyd (Portland OR): Hi Christina, Given the strength of the AL East and NL West will the Orioles and Giants be able to avoid 100 losses?

Christina Kahrl: Wow, a lot of Giants questions today... the two teams have opposite handicaps within what seems like a likely pair of hundred-loss seasons; the Giants won't score, and the Orioles won't have much of a rotation. I think the odds of both teams losing 100 games are good, but the Orioles are the stronger bet, in that the best teams in the AL East are going to be much better than the cream of the NL West.

mikeduin (Seattle): You knew this was coming: What sort of an impact do you see Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria, and Clay Buccholz making this season? Is Buchholz the Sox 5th starter right out of the gate?

Christina Kahrl: Even if this spring seems to have become one industry-wide case of Operation Prospect Wipeout, I think all three will get significant playing time this year. The Willy Aybar thing isn't going to last (Aybar might stick, but he's not enough of a bat to carry third base), Bruce cannot possibly get overlooked for too many months, while Buchholz will be an asset from here till September.

Johnny (Champaign, IL): How do you think Reed Johnson fits with the Cubs?

Christina Kahrl: For better or for worse, he's actually a better spare part to have in this particular outfield than Matt Murton, but that's because Murton's just not much of an outfielder, and is especially stretched for right, even if Murton has much more offensive up-side. That, plus Johnson's more of a contact hitter, and that tends to get treated with more respect in a reserve role than Murton's more broad-based offensive skills. So, it's a weird proposition, in that Murton's more valuable and someone you'd rather have in the abstract, but in terms of bench-building, Johnson is probably the better bit part.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): Happy Pseudopening Day. They're not going to do this crap again, are they?

Christina Kahrl: There's just too much money on the table for these things for the industry to say no. If I were Empress, I'd wish it away, but I'm not, and real-world considerations apply, even if it makes a mockery of the concept of Opening Day, and dispenses with the tradition of having the first game in Cincinnati, something I rather miss.

Sully (Los Angeles, CA): Only after drafting Ramon Hernandez did it strike me that, if he looks anything like he did in 2006, the O's could move him. What do you think?

Christina Kahrl: I'd say you're quite right, and it isn't like the difference between Hernandez and Guillermo Quiroz is going to make all the difference between 63 wins and 62.

jessehoffins (Philly): Bonds or Bruce? Whose going to have a better season, despite missing large amounts of it for strange reasons.

Christina Kahrl: I'm going to suggest something goofy, and take Bonds.

Arthur (Philadelphia): So here's the question I asked at the event in Philadelphia last week: What unlikely players, historically or currently, do you personally root for? Jay mentioned Saul Rivera, Steven followed Wayne Tolleson back in the day, for me it was Jacob Brumfield.

Christina Kahrl: I was a big, big fan of George Williams, beyond TTO considerations, it was more basically because I sat near his brother and nephews and nieces one game, and I sort of liked the plucky little group of cheeseheads and their happiness over their uncle making it to The Show.

Active, I've become a bit of a silly/irrational fan of Peter Moylan, since he's got the foreign/exotic angle on top of being a side-armer. And as an A's fan, I'm perhaps goofy in that my current favorite Athletic is Kurt Suzuki.

macman (DC): Big logjam in the middle infield for the Nats and it appears Trader Jim's having trouble finding a taker for Lopez. What do you think will happen?

Christina Kahrl: I'm not sure "big logjam" is the term I'd use, but "corpse-choked gully" would be too cruel. We're talking Ronnie Belliard and Cristian Guzman, and I wouldn't want to bank on either. The real problem is that Lopez really isn't much of a shortstop, so any proposition of using him again as the swing middle infielder to cover for whichever starter breaks first runs up against that. Teams looking for a shortstop (like the Orioles) shouldn't put too much value on Lopez, and haven't.

I guess I don't see the depth, in case they deal Lopez. Pete Orr? Willie Harris? We're talking second base types who can't really play short either. Aaron Boone can't really play third. It makes for a potentially oddly disjointed bench.

Steve (St. Louis): Do you like the wainwright deal?

Christina Kahrl: Absolutely.

tycobb (ga): any thoughts on dave bush?

Christina Kahrl: If there's a guy in this rotation who has a lot of potential to be packaged in a more ticky-tack kind of trade to make sure there's space for the team's best talents in its rotation, it's Bush and not Claudio Vargas. That's because Bush is actually desirable, where Vargas is an extra guy having a nice camp.

The real question is whether the Brewers will identify a need--like a starting catcher--that would merit trading from some of the pitching stock in May or June. They *should*, but then giving Kendall pretty big money is one of those things rational people might have trouble working around.

Michael (Detroit, MI): This is more of a rant than a quesiton, but please tell us again why the team and player comments in the annual Baseball Prospecutus book are not attributed to a specific author. Telling us who the authors are would enhance my enjoyment of the book. When I read the James Hoey comment, I wanted to know whose observations I was reading because knowing one's source is part of being a critical reader. When I read the Robb Quinlan comment, I though it was hilarious and wanted to know who wrote it. We know that each author has his or her own viewpoint and that there isn't a monolithic BP groupthink, so why not tell us? Sure, many of the pieces may be heavily edited, but if that was the whole reason for refusing to identify the authors, then why do many other collections identify their authors (such as It Ain't Over, if I recall correctly).

Christina Kahrl: It's almost a question of logistics, as well as a reflection of our team-focused identity, *especially* in this kind of product. A nice, normal book like "It Ain't Over" has pieces written by a single person, whose work gets edited by a single editor, and there's time for that single person to get to take some time to do significant revisions at the request of the editor.

In contrast, the annual is pure monkey-juggling. Some player comments have a single father, and some have contributions from five different people, and every set of player comments has stuff from the original author, Steven or I, Kevin Goldstein input on prospects... what, you want four or fives sets of initials with every individual player comment? That strikes me as ludicrously credit-hungry, and my teammates have historically tended to agree.

The people who worked on the book have their names on the title page, and we really enjoyed what we put together. If you want a set of footnotes on whether a specific joke was Joe's or whether I lived up to my rep as a bon motista or whatever, I guess the point is that it doesn't really matter; it's all in the book, and you should focus on the *content*, because the messenger has too many faces to single out just one.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): You can forget about Claudio Vargas on the Crew...they just released him.

Christina Kahrl: Now see, that's interesting, and a reflection of a team that understands that replacement-level starting pitching isn't necessarily an abstraction, you can find it in cleats.

mattymatty (phillly): Any opinions on the Joe Nathan extension which you'd care to share?

Christina Kahrl: It seems about right for what a contender TBNL might be willing to slot for an investment in a closer; if the Twins want to spend that money themselves, instead of converting Nathan into other people's prospects, they'll have made a poor exchange.

Chris (Ottawa): Keeper strat league. Lincecum or Gallardo?

Christina Kahrl: If you have that choice, you can't lose, but I'd probably pick Gallardo on the thinking that contention in the next few years might make for some extra Hal Richman pixie dust on the cards themselves.

Barb (NY): What can be expected of John Patterson this year? His velocity is way down..building up arm strength or done? Will C. Maybin start the year in the minors? Who do you think will be the best rookie pitcher NL this year?

Christina Kahrl: I don't have high expectations for Patterson this year; neither Texas as an organization or Ron Washington as a manager have track records that involve lots of successful retreadings of journeymen. Maybe it works, but Patterson's going from the NL and a park (RFK) that, when he was healthy, helped him, and he's going to the DH league, a spotty defense, and a tough park. These things tend to not work out so tidily.

Maybin's already down in Double-A, a move that's to the Marlins' credit.

Best rookie pitcher in the NL? Kuroda, if you count the imports.

ChuckR (Addison, IL): I'm all for the information age, although it was a bit wearisome during the Johan sweepstakes and so many non-stories at the trade deadline. That being said, I think we've hit a new low today when this is being reported by Rotoworld: 'Toby Hall has been called into manager Ozzie Guillen's office for two meetings on Tuesday, though he's rejoined his teammates after each.' Really? Twice?

Christina Kahrl: I hear you, Chuck, that's almost as tedious to read as it probably was to write. One of the things about the 24-hour news cycle is that it's like a bag of Fritos--it's there, it consumes space, and you can probably nibble on them constantly and not die, but there's no value, and the damned things don't even taste good to start off with.

jphan44 (boston): i have to start 3 out of swisher, victorino, c young, j upton, milledge and hermida who should it be

Christina Kahrl: Depends on the kind of league you're in, but Swisher should be a definitely; his swing--from both sides of the plate--is *perfect* for the Cell. Play wait-and-see with Upton and Milledge; ideally, you're in a keeper league, because Justin Upton's not going to have a breakout campaign.

BL (Bozeman): Trey Hillman is toying with playing his outfield a few steps closer than 'normal' (whatever that is) this year to take away some singles, even while sacrificing extra base hits. It seems to me like a tactic that should be dictated by personnel rather than philosophy, and maybe that's his motivation, but I like thinking outside the box. Your comments?

Christina Kahrl: It's about like the adaptation the Rockies made to their environment, gunning for outs to try and limit the damage that you can always count on coming from their environment. The Royals' park is already good for doubles and triples and average, and the best way to keep from being hurt by those things is to try to get three outs a little faster.

Czechjustin (Brno, Czech Republic): I was wondering what you thought about the Pirates sending Steve Pearce to the minors. Good move (increase development) or bad move (should be playing now)? Just FYI, this question is coming from where Napoleon's battle of Austerlitz (battle of the 3 emperors) took place. Anyways, thanks.

Christina Kahrl: How interesting, since I just finished up reading Goetz's thoughts on how to best estimate the size of the Allied army at Austerlitz, and have Kagan's book, "Napoleon and the End of the Old Order," to look forward to.

Equally interesting (and disappointing, if you were with the two losing emperors) is the decision to demote Pearce, because it's more than a little frustrating. Sure, he's going to be a bit rough in right, but the agenda right now should be about getting LaRoche into the uni of a team that's still short a first baseman (paging the Yankees), and just playing Pearce wherever you have to play him in the meantime. Getting worked up about preserving Xavier Nady's playing time should not be a key consideration for the Pirates.

David (Winston Salem): Is there anyone on waivers that Detroit can grab to bolster their pen?

Christina Kahrl: I have it on good authority Claudio Vargas is available. The best pickings have yet to drop, however, as their current owners are still sorting through whether or not they can keep them for themselves.

BrettG (Worthington, OH): If Eric Wedge is impressed with Andy Marte (it Marte looks like he will be on the Opening Day roster), why not move Casey Blake to an OF corner and play Marte at 3B. Blake could replace the Dellucci/Michaels platoon and I think Marte could be better than that platoon, which makes the move an improvement for the Indians.

Christina Kahrl: Blake's a pretty brutal outfielder, and not an especially strong bat for an outfield corner, and Marte may not be a defensive improvement on Blake at the hot corner in the first place. The real question is whether or not Marte's going to recapture some fraction of his former promise, and I wouldn't necessarily bet on that. He simply isn't as good as all of us--prospect mavens, scouts, statheads, you name it--projected him to be.

Wendy (DC): Any thoughts on Clayton Kershaw? Spring stats don't mean much, but he's looked good. Any chance he's the best pitching prospect at the end of the year?

Christina Kahrl: His spring performance has been strong enough to put him in the Dodgers' rotation picture *in April*, which would have seemed incredible just two months ago, but as you know, he is that talented. Add in being left-handed, and there's an argument right now that he's the best pitching prospect around right now, regardless of rookie status or eligibility or any of that. If his rookie status gets expended this year, that doesn't change, any more than it does for Joba Chamberlain or Clayton Buchholz; they're just an exceptional trio of talents any of us would wish to have on our favorite team for the next ten years.

ekanenh (NH): Why will Hughes-Chamberlain-Kennedy be different from Wilson-Pulsipher-Isringhausen?

Christina Kahrl: No Dallas Green sightings, and what that reflects in terms of where we're at today, as opposed to where we were then.

Paul (San Fran): Christina, when are you coming out to the city by bay??? How do you think the injuries to Frandsen, Durham and Vizquel will impact the lineup for the first month? Will we have the only team in MLB with a cleanup hitter, Molina, with less than 20hrs' and 80rbi's? Also, when you come, please bring us a major league lineup!

Christina Kahrl: Paul, I was just there as part of our book tour. On behalf of my partner in crime at our Alameda event two weeks back at Books Inc., I'd like to thank again the 50-plus people who showed. I speak for both of us when I say it was unfortunate we couldn't have kept it going for another hour or more.

As far as the injuries in the Giants infield, it's horrific. All the Rich Aurilia you can stand, Jose Castillo... Brian Bocock at short? It's the sort of infield Johnny LeMaster belongs in.

Matt (Chicago): Roberts, Lee, Soriano, Ramirez, Fukudome, Soto, Theriot, Pie = End of the 100-year drought?

Christina Kahrl: I don't know, that's an awful lot of Theriot for my taste.

Obviously, this is looking like a pretty good year, and the absence of a genuinely dominant team in the league won't hurt their chances any. I guess I wonder if Cubs fans are ready for a 1986-like experience, if they get there, and then get squashed by some AL titan, but I'm guessing Sox fans will be happy for schadenfreude in whatever shape and form they can get it.

bianchiveloce (Anderson, SC): Not a Rays fan, but I'm impressed how the organization has turned around it's focus and direction. Keeping in mind, of course, that the Rays are still a losing team at this point. What event or events brought along this change from a "doom and gloom" outlook to one of "hope and sunny weather" ahead? Ownership change, GM change, or some other change that other losing teams can emulate?

Christina Kahrl: A bit of all of the above, which is exactly what the franchise needed. Being run by a bunch of Domers who think Mike Veeck's an asset? I'll take "bad ideas from South Bend" for $200, Alex.

Billy (Oakland): Sign Street or deal at the deadline?

Christina Kahrl: Who says you can't do a bit of both? Signing Street doesn't just provide you with cost certainty, it does likewise for his prospective alternative employer, who might pay an extra premium for acquiring a player under contractual control. Certainly, that was one of the lessons from this past winter, and why Danny Haren brought more in bounty than Johan Santana.

Andrew (Overland Park, KS): Which is the more egregious demotion of a young 3b this spring, Josh Fields or Evan Longoria?

Christina Kahrl: I'll go with Longoria, even if I think it's silly to demote a player as already ready as Fields; at least Fields was demoted because of the existence of an established worthwhile veteran ballplayer. Longoria's being sent down *for Willy Aybar*. There was a point in time where I loved Willy Aybar, and I still think he has some upside--at second base--but there's no way I send Longoria back down.

sriramk1027 (Palo ALto): Christina: Travis Hafner, Kent Hrbek awaiting or just an injury plagued 07 and return to mashing? On the same note, who do you like the best this year of Manny Ramirez, Justin Morneau, or Travis Hafner? Thanks CK. Love your work.

Christina Kahrl: I'm not a Pronk believer, I'm sad to say. A short career arc for a guy who got a late start shouldn't have surprised everyone as much as it did.

From that trio, I'll pick Morneau, because I figure he'll regain ground lost last season while batting in the middle of a stronger overall Twins lineup.

Zach ((Mass.)): Christina, love your work. Come to the Boston-area book event next year! Joe and Steven were great, but the talk was suspiciously lacking obscure historical references. What do you think about the Cabrera deal for the Tigers? I'm thrilled, and I think it seals the trade as a win for Detroit, even if Miller/Maybin become All-Stars. What do you think?

Christina Kahrl: Zach, you're too kind; in such august company as that pair of gentlemen, I wouldn't have necessarily added anything, any more than a third wheel would have on the Raft of Tilsit. Well, maybe; put Queen Luise on the raft, and I wouldn't bet against the Corsican Ogre winding up in the water.

The Cabrera extension is one of a few something I hope to have the energy to write about tonight, but it's definitely a good thing, in that he's a foundation ballplayer that the Tigers won't just have around to win with this year, but for years, and who will be every bit as important to a bid to contend in 2011 or 2012 as he is now.

Richie (KC): I know this has been mentioned, but doesn't this whole "Faux-pening Day" in Japan just piss you off? It's supposedly the start of a brand new baseball season yet nobody seems to know about it and my team doesn't get to play a real game for another week, what gives? Money be damned, it's not as if MLB doesn't have enough already and is it really worth alienating millions of fans so that Carl Pohlad (and all the other owners) can buy another diamond encrusted 24 karat gold toilet plunger?

Christina Kahrl: Well, look, I hate it and you hate it, but there aren't millions of us who hate it, and even if there were, we don't hate it so much that it genuinely "alienates" all that many of us. Not from baseball--c'mon, it's *baseball*. And more importantly, it's easy to make that call when it isn't your millions of dollars. Do I wish they wouldn't reduce the spectacle and traditions of Opening Day to an overseas cash grab? Sure. I wish for a lot of things, though, and I don't get bent out of shape over the certain fact that I won't get many or any of them.

Peter (Boston): re: Pronk. Why is he that much different than Papi? Yes, Papi is better, but not by that much. So why is Pronk supposedly done while Papi keeps on chugging (and huffing and puffing)?

Christina Kahrl: I think the lesson there is that Papi's pretty remarkable and unusual.

jasonbradleymill (Tucson, AZ): Christina, will the power that James Loney flashed last year continue to develop? How is his glove compared to the rest of the league?

Christina Kahrl: For Loney, developing and retaining power is going to be key, because the "danger" is tht he becomes merely someone who fits into the Cecil Cooper/Chris Chambliss class of "Pretty good first basemen," and still a rung or two below the best at the position. It's not a bad thing if that's "all" he is, but given his youth and talent, it's hard to resist wishing for more. Afield, he's one of the better defenders in the NL, but keep in mind the league has a number of excellent-fielding first basemen (Adrian Gonzalez and Derrek Lee come to mind, and then there's that Pujols person).

kmdarcy (Portland, Oregon): Which is the worst franchise in MLB and why? (Giants?)

Christina Kahrl: It's a bit of an unfair question, because of the ambiguously-employed adjective and the unexplained standard for what constitutes "worst." If you wanted to define it as a matter of a team that's short on talent *and* has limited horizons *and* probably doesn't have the management team to repair either, I'd actually pick the Astros, although even there, I was pretty entertained by the decision to make a kamikaze run this year, rather than protect an already grim-looking picture.

RahulN (GA): I love Moyler too. (I think thats what Bobby Cox calls him - its his standard nickname for everybody). Speaking of Cox, do you think this is his last year as manager of the Braves and if so, who would be a good candidate to replace him?

Christina Kahrl: It keeps seeming as if Cox is sticking around for just this season or that, but his health seems reasonably sound, he still seems to be enjoying practicing his craft, and he's still an asset in the dugout. What else is he going to do, golf till he drops? I kind of hope he'll hold on for a while yet, but if he doesn't, I'd very much like to see Chris Chambliss finally catch a break and manage a team he's been associated with in the past.

TGisriel (Baltimore): If you were asked the question about the worst organization last season this time would the answer have been the Orioles? Do the hiring and the actions of MacPhail give the franchise a very different outlook?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Tom, hope all's well in Bal'mer... yes, last year, the short list would have been the Orioles and the Pirates, but both teams seem to have been aggressive in addressing their issues, and while I'm not yet sold that there's a difference between one Nutting or another as opposed to Kid McClatchy, and there's still the Angeloses owning the O's, both organizations went outside and brought in people who want to shake things up. Both will take years to fix, but neither is quite as horrifying a scenario as what the Astros potentially look like by 2010.

Roznowskij (Syr.): Christina- Thanks for the chat. Let's say that Furcal stays healthy and leads the Dodgers to the post season. He even gets some MVP consideration. If you were the Dodgers GM, would you be willing to let him walk at the end of the season, knowing you have Chin Lung Hu?

Christina Kahrl: Yes. You already spent the money on Furcal, and you will have gotten good ROI for having him. Plus you'll have another year's worth of performance from Hu to make that call; if Hu keeps hitting, your decision's been made for you. Offer Furcal arbitration and collect draft picks, and congratulate yourself on what could be a seamless transition.

ElAngelo (New York, NY): C'mon, the Astros are miles ahead of the Pirates. At least the Astros were competitive in the post-Fay Vincent world.

Christina Kahrl: Note the tense you used--were.

I wonder how many of us understand and accept that a "post-Fay Vincent world" was a very good thing to have happen for the industry.

chuckstein17 (Long Beach, NY): I don't put much stock in spring stats, but John Maine has looked dominant this spring. Is this something the Mets should be excited about?

Christina Kahrl: Well, it's something to feel good about, certainly. If Maine and Oliver Perez prove to be solid contributors behind Johan Santana, Pedro becomes gravy to some extent.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Already, the season's only technically started, and Rolen's down. Stewart (non-CF) is still a Jay; RJ isn't. Ryan's looking banged up, and we've lost a key set up guy for the year. What a downer for a Blue Jays fan!

Christina Kahrl: It's a downer sort of team, in the sense that it's devoted to a play-acting pursuit of the top teams in the division, and that's no way to really build a ballclub. I'd take the indignities of being a Rays fan and the possibilities their future holds any day over a pantomime playoff team.

Daniel (TX): What kind of playing time can we expect for Alexei Ramirez? Will he be a factor by the 2nd half of the season?

Christina Kahrl: I'd expect at least 400 PA, especially when Uribe hands back the starting job at second base, so he'll be a factor sooner than the second half.

Bearfrog (Dallas): The Royals are going to cut Justin Huber, a young power hitter, which is something they are desperately in need of, in favor of Ross Gload and Joey Gathright. Is there any hope for this organization?

Christina Kahrl: Well, I may be no big booster for Gload or Gathright, but if you want to scapegoat somebody, how about Ryan Shealy? I still don't get why people got all that worked up about Shealy. Similarly, I think my fellow statheads need to wrap their heads around the idea that Huber really isn't all that. He's not really that patient, he doesn't really have that much power, and physically, he really is only a first baseman. If you want to have him around instead of somebody else, pick on the older, just as right-handed first baseman who only ever mashed in Colorado Springs, and even that was off of thrice-cooked Triple-A lefty mound fodder.

ssimon (Pelham, NY): Christina, if you're going for a record, that's awesome. But please let me know if you'll be done soon so I know whether to print out the transcript before I go home :)

Christina Kahrl: I'm actually figuring on just another half-hour or so, if you're waiting. ;)

statham (Toronto): I agree that a kamikaze run seems to be the Astros' best play (outstanding essay in BP 2008 by the way) but it wouldn't it behoove them to try and do something about this bench: Erstad, Ausmus, Loretta, Blum, Tomas Perez. Ye Gods.

Christina Kahrl: Well, wait a few days, and you'll be able to upgrade on some of that, courtesy of the waiver wire. In the meantime, there's something appropriate about that group as a representative collection of desperadoes on a team whose future is now.

Thanks for the compliment on the Astros chapter, I'll pass along the sentiment to the team. ;)

Rob in WI (Madison): CK, I didn't realize the Cubs signed Reed Johnson until this chat... is it wrong that I'm somewhat giddy about that little piece of depth?

Christina Kahrl: No, it means you're probably a person after my own heart, and there's nothing wrong with that whatsoever. ;)

Hanley (Not Boston): You just made me think of something with the "post Fay Vincent" comment. How do we describe Bud Selig? At times he's moved at a maddenly slow pace, but many of the changes have been very progressive. He's got a bad reputation, but alot of good things have happened. Is he the Bill Clinton of baseball... half of the country hates him despite the good work?

Christina Kahrl: It's fair to say that no matter how well he's grown the industry, Czar Bud will never be loved. However, in comparison to a pretty modestly talented and in spots entirely lackluster group, Selig clearly ranks as one of the best commissioners in the history of the game, and there's a reasonable argument to be made that he's been the best.

I can't say I get the Clinton comp (there was good work?), but if you want to make a comparison, Metternich works better, since both men's achievements were the product of an ability to keep unwieldy groups of semi-feudal plutocrats on message and working for common cause. And like Bud, Metternich was despised for it.

theguag (Louisville): What do you expect out of Jody Gerut? Will he get much playing time when Edmonds is healthy?

Christina Kahrl: Not a lot, but more than any of us expected, certainly. I just don't have a lot of confidence about his ability to hold up and play a corner with any mobility in full-time play, but that takes nothing from the prospective achievement of his making it all the back to The Show.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Do you think the O's and the Cubs will complete a trade for Brian Roberts?

Christina Kahrl: It seems pretty dodgy to me, in part because I don't believe Roberts is an absolute necessity for the Cubs, whereas it's very much in the Orioles' interest to just get it done if it involves anything like the packages that have been discussed publicly.

dwiest12 (Vienna VA): Jack Hannahan seems like an adequate replacement for Chavez at the plate, but won't the A's pitchers miss his defense? C'mon--six gold gloves!

Christina Kahrl: Wow, there's a quadruple reversal of fortune... Hannahan's a decent enough defender, so it isn't like we just went from Brooks Robinson back to Carney Lansford impression of dry timber in high winds. The fact that anyone might see the offensive trade-off as even is what for me is so jarring; Chavez's offensive potential is what we've lost, but admittedly we started losing it years ago, and what we're missing still is that wishcasted maybe that Chavez's bat might yet represent.

Dan (NYC): Is Mike Sweeney really worth a roster spot for the A's? Is he just going to pinch hit and spell Cust, or do the A's think the defensive hit they take with Cust in LF is worth getting Sweeney's bat into the lineup? Platoon?

Christina Kahrl: A fragile platoon DH is pretty much the definition of a poorly-used roster spot, so I'm not a big fan of having yet another unretreadable Royal reject on the roster. I don't expect it to last; Sweeney's ability to self-delete is pretty steady.

rawagman (Work): Christina, Thanks for answering. In retrospect, how did your picks of NRA's work out? Also - I drafted both Maybin and Longoria this year in my main pool (non-keeper). When can I expect them to be up for good? Keep up the greatness!

Christina Kahrl: Well, I'm still upset about not finishing the series, but that's on me, even in the face of a hectic travel schedule, running the site all the while, and then losing more weight than J.J. Hardy has with the flu this past week. (I'm still not 100 percent yet.) It will certainly be interesting to review, but my focus for the immediate future is going to be on reviewing the major moves from the last couple of weeks, then evaluating the Opening Day rosters, and moving on to doing more of what I'm more interested in at the moment: player usage patterns, what managers create semi-stable roles for their players, in-game tactics, and some discussion of historical tactics and team-level operations.

Christina Kahrl: OK, with that, I should run. Thanks for everyone who submitted questions, and especially to everyone who bore with a number of slow-load issues that seemed to make getting the questions and answers up really difficult today. Ideally, conversations such as these should be like a fifth outfielder, quicksilver-fast with a few spiky slides. Happy Faux Opener to everyone, and here's looking forward to the Stateside Opening Day. As ever, thanks to everyone for their support, and I'll look forward to the next time around.

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