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Chat: Caleb Peiffer

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday May 23, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Caleb Peiffer.


Each day, Caleb Peiffer brings you the best of the best in "Prospectus Preview."

Caleb Peiffer: Hi, folks. As Steve Somers would say: Caleb Peiffer here, and you there. Eddie Skizeri on the other side of the glass... Man, I miss WFAN. Anyway, glad to be here to answer as best I can your questions. It's my first BP chat, so take it easy on me. And if you want to help me out by suggesting some angles for tomorrow's games, please do so!

jlarsen (DRays Bay): With the Rays and Boston being the only 2 teams in the AL East with positive differentials, when will the surprising Orioles fall on their faces and revert to the team that many predicted of them?

Caleb Peiffer: You know, I'm not sure the Orioles are going to collapse. I'm probably crazy, and yes, they probably will finish quite a few games below .500, but take a look at their defense: first in efficiency, converting 72.6 percent of balls in play into outs. DE is pretty strongly correlated with winning, I believe--last year, for instance, the top five teams in the stat and eight of the top 10 all finished above .500. The last time a team in the top two at converting contact into outs finished below .500 was in 2000, the Padres. And the last time a team finished first in DE yet had a losing record? Also the Orioles, in 1995, but they were a respectable 71-73.

I don't think anyone expected the O's defense to be this good, after they finished 18th in the majors last season. And I'm not sure they can keep it up. But if they do, they'll keep making Guthrie, Burres, and Cabrera look good, and could finish a lot better than everyone thought they would.

Ron (VA): Has Daniel Cabrera finally turned the corner and become the pitcher that the Orioles have been saying he would for such a long time? If so, does his performance thus far in the season merit any all-star game talk?

Caleb Peiffer: Cabrera really is pitching well--no walks in two straight starts, one in his past three, three in his past five. Most people (myself included) probably gave up hope for him ever putting it together last season. But he is 27 this year, the age at which most players experience their career years. I still think you've got to give it another month or so before talking about any corners. Back-to-back 100-walk seasons demand a larger sample to refute.

Looking at his pitch data (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1931&position=P), he's been throwing his fastball a lot more often: 88 percent of the time, as compared to 74 percent last year, and his slider a lot less: 9 percent, as compared with 23 percent last year. In 2005, he threw the fastball just 65 percent of the time and the slider 28 percent. It certainly looks like he's decided to just "trust his stuff," as the saying goes, and pound that sinking fastball into the strike zone repeatedly. That's a great sign, because on stuff alone there aren't many guys who can compete with Cabrera. Think about that: nine out of 10 pitches he throws are fastballs, and he's got a 3.48 RA in the majors. That's awesome ability.

As far as All-Stars go, I would say the O's will probably get just one, or maybe two, and Markakis will probably get a shot (although he hasn't hit very well lately). Sherrill and his 17 saves will also probably be picked over Cabrera.

jtrichey (Indianapolis): Hi Caleb, thanks for the chat. What do you think of Russell Martin moving from catcher in the next few years? I have been pushing for a move to second base to replace Kent next year. Would the Dodgers be crazy to do it or would he get a nice offensive boost?

Caleb Peiffer: I'm not sure you want to move Martin from behind the plate. For one thing, he's a good defensive catcher--career Range Factor of 7.86, compared with 7.28 average, career Fielding Runs Above Average of 21 (in just over two seasons--that's outstanding). He's been having trouble throwing out runners this year--just eight of 38--but in his first two years he caught about 1 in 3. Obviously, good fielding catchers who can hit as well as Martin are just about impossible to find, and hold tremendous value. From what I understand LA doesn't have a catching prospect behind Martin, either--not on the Top 11 prospects (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=7094). So I think they should keep him behind the plate.
Jay Jaffe brought up an interesting solution for second base next year: move Blake DeWitt to the position, making room for Andy LaRoche at third. Or heck, maybe you move LaRoche there, if DeWitt keeps hitting like he has (unlikely). I'm not sure either of them can play the position, and I don't think the Dodgers would do it even if they either can, but it's something to think about. At least you didn't give Luis Castillo a four year deal, right?

Did people know that Martin's full name, according to Baseball Reference, is Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin?

Mateo (Guaymas, Mexico): Hey, you've been doing great work. Love your column - how hard is it coming up with new insights into numerous games each day?

Caleb Peiffer: Thanks a lot, Mateo. Generating ideas is pretty tough at times. Sometimes one comes pretty quick, but quite often it's a struggle, that involves cruising through multiple statistical pages, reading team news, scouring box scores for any potentially exploitable oddities, looking at the leaderboards... Besides the BP stats pages and databases, Baseball Reference, with its Play Index and everything else, is a savior.

What do people like best, and least, about the previews? What are the angles that are most interesting to read about? Feel free to let me know via email (cpeiffer@baseballprospectus.com) so I can make these things more enjoyable.

Or (Dallas): Good afternoon, Caleb! Is Josh Hamilton a deity, or a mere Kryptonian? Seriously, I think I have a man-crush.

Caleb Peiffer: Man, he is something special, huh? As Will Carroll said the other day, I wouldn't be surprised if he could fly. He's in that class of players, along with a guy like Joakim Soria, where you just don't know what the limit is because they came out of nowhere and dominated at the highest level right away. But leading the AL in batting and slugging, and the majors in RBI? As of right now, the Hamilton/Volquez deal is looking like one of the best ever in terms of immediate value for both teams.

dangor (New York): Can you give me your opinion on Barry Bonds? Odds on playing this year and with whom?

Caleb Peiffer: I really don't know. It's looking less and less likely, I suppose, but teams might start dropping their show of superiority when the summer is in full swing. Given the state of slugging in the AL, and how terrible DHs in general have been, it's crazy a team like the Mariners hasn't given him a shot. At this point, and I know it's cliched to say it, but it seems like Beane is the one GM that might think about signing Bonds. But with the construction of the A's roster, with Cust and Mike Sweeney and Thomas, there really isn't any spot for Bonds. If injuries strike the A's again, though... And what about San Diego? Who do they have in left field now, Paul MacAnulty? I seem to recall Kevin Towers being more sympathetic than most GMs regarding Bonds. But that move would probably require the Padres getting back into it.

Jeff (Chicago): After what you've see in the first 45-50 games or so, do you think the White Sox are now the favorites in the AL Central? It seems that Cleveland's bullpen, in addition to its anemic offense, may hold them back.

Caleb Peiffer: Don't look now, but the Tigers have scored 30 runs in their last three games. Once Verlander gets going and the the rest of the starting pitchers pick it up, they're going to close ground in a hurry. And I think Cleveland's bullpen will get better, but that depends on Rafael Betancourt righting the ship. Joe Sheehan wrote about the White Sox yesterday, and said the bar in the AL Central has been lowered to about 88 or 89 wins, from 93 or so. It's definitely turned into a three team race, and the White Sox are looking like they'll be around all year. I still wouldn't call them the favorites, but I'm not sure I'd call the Indians or ChiSox the favorites, either.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Does Halladay get enough credit for his pitch efficiency? He's averaging 8 innings on only 107 pitches per start so far this season.

Caleb Peiffer: Halladay recently threw four straight complete games, which I believe is the first time that's happened in the majors since Halladay himself threw four in a row a while back. Of course, he lost three of those, because the Jays' offense is so bad. It's tough to call Halladay a complete workhorse, because he's been hurt a good deal, missing significant time in '04 and '05. But when he's healthy, the way he burns through lineups is awesome to watch.

President Bush was recently asked in an interview with Yahoo! which pitcher and which hitter he would pick to build a team around. The question really made him uncomfortable--you could tell he was really put on the spot by it. He chose Halladay and Utley. And you know, that's not such a bad answer if you were building a team for the next year or two, because of Halladay's ability to deliver a 260-inning season.

chris (Los Angeles): Blake Dewitt keeps hitting for the Dodgers and now it looks like they're letting him stay and keeping LaRoche down at AAA. Stupid idea? Yank him once he cools off? Any recent precents where a long-awaited rookie got his chance, then got injured in Spring Training and another unheralded kid stole the job and had a ROY-caliber year? Lucky injuries: Andruw Jones and Nomar? Or is no injury ever good?

Caleb Peiffer: Man, a tough call at this point. LaRoche is obviously the better prospect, and he's doing his typical thing at Triple-A so far--not hitting for a high average, but drawing a ton of walks (25/7 K/BB ratio), for a line of .246/.444/.459. But I think the Dodgers are right to keep him down there for now. Here's a good quote on the situation from Nate Silver's recent article on third base prospects:

"If you decide to bench the 22-year-old kid who's hitting .317, that's going to leave the kid wondering whether he's going to get a fair shake in your organization and may poison his development. So LaRoche is going to have to bide his time a little while longer, but make no mistake--he's the stronger prospect than DeWitt. DeWitt's 90th percentile batting line gives him a .273 EqA, roughly equal in value to LaRoche's 25th percentile batting line (.270 EqA)."

So I think you basically keep LaRoche in the minors until Dewitt cools off. I've been trying to think of another similar situation to the LaRoche-Dewitt, thing, and can't come up with anything, but I'm sure there have been other times.

As far as injuries: Nomar's was I think pretty fortunate, and it would probably help the Dodgers if he just retired right now, given the LaRoche/Dewitt situation and Nomar's dying bat. Andruw Jones' troubles are more problematic. Pierre has a .355 OBP but has still been well below average offensively, so the Dodgers really need Jones to get healthy and start hitting to keep center field from being a sinkhole.

TGisriel (Baltimore): To follow up on Daniel Cabrera: He has changed from throwing a 4 seam fastball, which he had trouble commanding and which was pretty straight, to a 2 seam fastball, which he commands better and which has a natural sink. It seems to have made a very big difference, and supports a belief that he has turned a corner.

Caleb Peiffer: Interesting. Adjustments like that are always good to know about, and definitely do support the idea that he's a changed pitcher.

HeAdFiRsT (Michigan): Hey Caleb, what is your opinion on Matt Antonelli, he's struggling. Do you see the Padres resigning Iguchi because of this?

Caleb Peiffer: I don't know a whole lot about Antonelli beyond what I've read from Kevin Goldstein and in the annual, but Iguchi... He hasn't been above-average since his rookie season, and hasn't shown much at all this year. I think he's on a serious downslope, and I'd be surprised if they resigned him. I guess it's possible if they need one more year of a stopgap, though.

Tre Dimick (Boston): Caleb, thanks for your always insightful analysis. Your opinion on Indiana Jones IV, please.

Caleb Peiffer: Tre lives! I was thoroughly entertained. Worth the $23 for admission, or whatever it is they're charging these days.

TGisriel (Baltimore): I know tht Markakis has shown,in previous seasons, a tendency to start slow and improve as the year goes on. How would one get information to compare his performance this year to date to previous years to late May?

Caleb Peiffer: You can find this information through the Baseball Reference play index. Go to Markakis's player page, click on "game logs," and then you can highlight two different dates and get his cumulative stats for that period, for every year of his career. You can also go to the split stats page and month-by-month breakdowns for each year.

Brock D (Shakopee, MN): What team do you think has been underachieving the most so far?

Caleb Peiffer: I still have to go with the Tigers here, despite their recent sweep of Seattle. Detroit has a lot more holes than people thought at the beginning of the year, but that offense is going to keep making noise. The Rockies are actually at -4 between their actual and third-order wins, so if you want to go strictly by the numbers then Colorado has the biggest underacheivement gap. A shout-out to the Blue Jays, as well.

Or (Dallas): With the Rangers having multiple catchers knocking on the door, What sort of return could Gerald Laird fetch from a team like San Diego?

Caleb Peiffer: I'm not sure the Padres are in the market for a catcher, because Michael Barrett is just about ready to return. Also, if they keep losing, they're not going to want to deal away any of their future for a few extra runs behind the plate. It doesn't look like there are that many contending teams in need of a catcher--maybe the Astros, if Towles continues to struggle?

Pat (Chicago): When people on baseball prospectus, ESPN, scouts inc, etc. have analyzed the cubs the last two years they haven't mentioned that the cubs Defensive Efficiency has been top notch. I think they ranked second last year and rank second this year as well. Is their defense really this good? And how do they make up for the gapping hole that Ryan Theriot leaves at shortstop defensively?

Caleb Peiffer: Interesting point. Derrek Lee is obviously a great first baseman, and Soriano has proven to be surprisingly strong in left, giving the team two strong corners with Fukudome in right. But center field is the issue--the Cubs defense is going to regress with Pie in Triple-A. Johnson is a marginal center fielder, and Edmonds has lost a good bit of range. I'm not sure about shortstop, but it's tough to pull Theriot out of the lineup as long as he has that .400 OBP, as far above his head as he's playing.

Jared (New York): THE Eddie Skizeri?

Caleb Peiffer: No, Eddie Money--who do you think we're talking? And now a 20-20 flash, and the update, and the whole thing...

Philly (PA): Should I be worried with Ryan Howard this year? He does have 12 home runs but his average is hovering around the .200 range.

Caleb Peiffer: No! You see the home run he hit into the second tier at Nationals Park the other day? First one hit in that range ever. He's got three home runs in the last two games, and he always starts heating up this time of year, and then has a huge second half. He'll be an MVP candidate.

Brock D (Shakopee, MN): Do you think the Minnesota Twins offense has a chance of getting better? it seems to me that they are really underachieving. or are they hitting how you think they should? If the O does heat up do you think they have a reasonable shot at the playoffs?

Caleb Peiffer: I forgot about the Twins in the earlier question about the AL Central. That division is wide open. The Twins offense hasn't really been underachieving--PECOTA pegged them for 713 runs this season, and they're on pace for 720. However, several players really are below expectations, like Young (who still hasn't homered) and Kubel and Cuddyer. But Gomez has really been a nice surprise so far, and Mauer and Morneau are doing their thing, so they probably won't get a whole lot better as a group. The Twins are an interesting team, but they are a notch below the Indians and White Sox still.

Brock D (Shakopee, MN): What division do you think is best at the moment?

Caleb Peiffer: Still have to go with the AL East here, with Tampa Bay coming on strong, Boston dominating, and the Yankees waiting to be woken up. The NL East is up there too, thanks to the Marlins' surprising play.

foodisgood (destitution city): Caleb--you're one of the younger writers at BP. I know the "how do I become a writer" question is overdone, so perhaps you could give us your story instead? How'd you break into sports writing? Are you writing anywhere else? How do I become...oops.

Caleb Peiffer: Food is indeed good--dare I even say great. I try to stay away from destitution city, but if I find myself there I'll stop by. I was lucky enough to get an internship with BP in my second year of college, and have stayed involved since, doing research and editorial stuff and now the writing. (I also wrote sports for my college paper, covering basketball.) I think the first BP annual I got was 2001, and was hooked right away.

If you want to get involved with BP, go check out the unfiltered post on the main page calling for interns, and email Will Carroll!

knuckleball (VA): what is wrong with the National's hitters? The team went out of it's way to get performance players in Milledge, Kearns, Dukes, and Pena and thus far i think the combined four of them have a grand total of 4 home runs. I know Kearns has been hurt, but it seems that for the last few year's he specifically hasn't come close to to his potential.

Caleb Peiffer: Yeah, this has to be really depressing if you're a Nationals fan. Kearns just has fallen off a cliff of late, and Wily Mo hasn't homered since September 12 of last year. Kearns is now on the DL, so maybe it really was an injury that was sapping his power. The team also rushed Wily Mo back from his oblique injury, and it looks like his bat is especially slow, perhaps because he's still dealing with that issue. The good news with Kearns now on the shelf is that the Nats can just plug in Dukes, Milledge, and Pena every day, and those guys don't have to worry about being the odd man out on a daily basis for the next couple of weeks, or so. They'll start to hit eventually, but I admit it is getting frustrating.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Historically, how odd is it that the top 3 teams in DER this season are all from the same division, the AL East? 1.Balt 2.Tor 3.TB

Caleb Peiffer: Not sure...it seems to be just coincidence, although it would make for a good research project.

bam022 (Chicago - South Side): Any thoughts on Andrew Miller? Is he finally turning it on or do you think he'll slide back into mediocrity as the season wears on?

Caleb Peiffer: I think it's going to be a really bumpy ride for Miller this year, although that line from last night's game absolutely shocked me. I thought that the D'backs righty bats would eat him up. After the last couple of games you have to be getting even more excited about his future potential if you're a Marlins fan, but I can't see him being this consistent start-to-start.

john (mpls): Nationals fans have nothing on Indians fans. The Indians have literally one player on their roster producing offensively (Grady) and even he is below his normal averages. The Indians' infield may be on pace to be the worst infield of the decade offensively.

Caleb Peiffer: Yeah, it's been brutal. Good point about the infield--I'll try to take a look at this and see just how bad it's been compared with other post-strike units. Cabrera has been especially dreadful. For the sanity of yourself and other Tribe fans, Cleveland might have to send him down and try somebody else, maybe even bring back Barfield even though he's not hitting that well, because it just ain't working right now.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): What's the natural range of career BABIP? Is there a strong relationship with GB&? Or does contact rate affect more?

Caleb Peiffer: You're talking about pitching BABIP? The average is right around .300. High ground-ball percentage generally leads to higher BABIP, because ground balls get through the infield for hits more often than fly balls fall for hits. So if you see a pitcher with a really high ground-ball percentage and a depressed BABIP, either he has a fantastic infield defense behind him or he's gotten lucky.

TJ (Glendale, CA): Is Jered Weaver having a disappointing year or is he just a disappointing player? What happened to the 06 Weaver?

Caleb Peiffer: Solid pitcher bound to disappoint after his flukishly-great debut in '06. He's definitely better than he's shown this year, and his ERA will come down soon enough.

Champ Kind (San Diaahgo): Broseph, I made two wagers in sin city pre-season. 12-1 on the Indians winning the WS and 12-1 on the DBacks winning the WS. How do I look 50ish games in?

Caleb Peiffer: Looking pretty good on the Dbacks, Champ. And the Indians' starting pitching is better than anybody's in the game right now, so they'd have a great shot in any playoff series.

Trieu (Cambridge, MA): I'm impressed by your deep knowledge of both MLB and NCAABB. That's some serious range! Do you have the same acumen in other areas (like the NBA or NFL)?

Caleb Peiffer: Thanks! although it's really not that deep. Not much acumen in the other areas: I'm ashamed to say that I haven't followed the NFL that closely since my Jets have fallen apart in recent years. Poor Chad Pennington.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Between Freddie Bynum, Alex Cintron and Luis Hernandez, do the Orioles have a player who can win the starting shortstop job, or should they be shopping?

Caleb Peiffer: Shopping: there are no answers in that group. Although what they should really be doing is scouting high school and college shortstops to pick one up in the draft, because none of their top 14 prospects (according to Kevin Goldstein) are middle infielders, either.

R.J. (BeyondtheBoxscore): Does Paul DePodesta becoming GM in Seattle make too much sense or do you see him simply being Kevin Towers' eventual heir?

Caleb Peiffer: Good question. I'm not sure how that Seattle job plays out, but I think Bavasi bought his way out of the job for good by giving Kenji Johjima a three year, $25 million extension in late April. Johjima's 32, he's down to .217/.259/.304, and now Jamie Burke is going to start catching for both Bedard and Washburn, presumably because of Johjima's struggles and because those pitchers would rather throw to Burke. In other news, Jeff Clement has homered in three straight down in Triple-A.

Marco (San Diego): Caleb, Great to see you have joined the chat sessions! For the readers to better gear their questions to you, do you follow minor league/college/high school guys, or, are you primarily focused on the majors? Thanks.

Caleb Peiffer: Whoops, should have answered this earlier. Primarily the majors. Kevin Goldstein is the guy to ask for all things minor leagues/draft related. Although I do have a soft spot in my heart for any current and former Tri-City ValleyCat.

lpiklor (Chicago): Re: Orioles at shortstop and them maybe drafting one. Should teams draft for "need" or draft the the "best available player"? I can understand filling holes in the later rounds...

Caleb Peiffer: Yes, it's an interesting debate. Again, Kevin Goldstein is the guy to talk to on this one. I would say that you should never set rules--always be flexible. A good guideline is probably to draft the best available, but if you have a young franchise star locked into one position for the next seven years or so, and a big hole at another spot, it probably makes sense to take somebody who plays in that hole even if he's a tad below the top overall talent available at your pick.

Trieu (Cambridge, MA): How do you pick which games to preview?

Caleb Peiffer: A lot of it is pitching matchups, and if I find any interesting stats or trends that I can apply to a particular team or game. Some of it is accounting--gotta get those poor Nats into the mix more often, come to think of it. Some of it is my MLB dartboard.

ericturner29 (Chicago): No one seems to mention Cleveland as a Bonds destination. Seems like a good fit to me. (he can't be worse than dellucci in LF) Thoughts?

Caleb Peiffer: Good one, but what about Hafner? Bonds is going to need time off from the field a lot of games, and it'd be hard to give it to him with Pronk on the roster. But what the heck, do it anyway.

John (Sterling): How does the Red Sox rotation get sorted out when Buccholz comes back? Who goes to the bullpen? Does Crisp get traded or maybe Timlin released?

Caleb Peiffer: From what I can tell, the Red Sox love having an outfield that runs four deep. I'm sure they'd trade Crisp if a really strong offer presented itself, but failing that I believe they view him as a real valuable piece of the team, especially with Drew being so injury-prone. Christina Kahrl addressed the rotation issue in her TA today, and suggested that they could move Colon into the bullpen and then potentially flip him to an NL contender at the deadline. Maybe for some middle relief help? Yikes.

DK (NYC): Another reason the O's might not crash and burn: their young pitching is doing very well. The under-30 pitchers on the Orioles have combined for 327 innings of 115 ERA+. The Rays young pitching, despite all the hype, has put up 329 innings of merely 107 ERA+.

Caleb Peiffer: Indeed. And good defense is driving the success of both.

lpiklor (Chicago): "... it probably makes sense to take somebody who plays in that hole even if he's a tad below the top overall talent available at your pick." But then you may pay top pick money to someone who's not top pick "quality", right? All that being said - Does Tim Beckham = Baltimore's next real SS?

Caleb Peiffer: Kevin Goldstein addressed this in his most recent chat. It looks like Beckham might go as high as No. 1, and the O's want a pitcher:

Chris (Baltimore, MD): Most mock drafts have the Orioles taking Brian Matusz with the 4th pick. What do you project him as? Any chance Pedro Alvarez falls to them?
Kevin Goldstein: Very good starter. No. 2 or 3. Alvarez will NOT get to them, and all indications are that Baltimore wants one of the college arms.

James (NJ): Hey Caleb, thanks for the chat. I think you have created an inaccurate memory of how great wfan is! You should hear these whiners. Anyway, I was wondering what your take on Aaron Laffey is. Great groundball guy, but he has shown great K/bb totals so far as well. Flukish or could he be a legit #3 type?

Caleb Peiffer: Impossible! 60,000 watts of clear-channel power, every Mets and Knicks game, Mike and the Maddog--man, that's all I listened to growing up. Can't speak for who's on now, though.

I'm real high on Laffey. Take a look at his PECOTA card (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/pecota/laffeaa01.php), and that pretty red bar above "GB/FB," and that not-quite-as-pretty-but-still-nice one over "ISO." 22 homers in 609 2/3 career minor league innings. The key is keeping those walks down--if he does so he can be a #3, I think.

Wendy (Madrid): Halladay has always been known for having some pretty good stuff as well as great control. He's kind of reminded me of Greg Maddux with a fastball. So his drop in strikeouts the past couple of years concerned me. Why have his strikeouts increased this year? What is he doing differently?

Caleb Peiffer: I'm not sure--probably just a random fluctuation. Unless you can divine something from his pitch data: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1303&position=P

TGisriel (Baltimore): Do you have any insight in where Teixeira will end up next year? I hear the Braves want to re-sign him, the Orioles are interested and so are the Yankees.

Caleb Peiffer: I've always heard that the O's are going to go after him really hard, to bring him back home. I'd imagine the Braves might be priced out by Boras. If the Orioles got him, that would give them two great hitters (with Markakis) who are extreme second-half performers. Maybe that'd stop some of their late season swoons of late.

nicopad (brooklyn): how bad must the rest of my nl fantasy team be when i've got furcal, chipper, and berkman but am in 7th place out of 8?

Caleb Peiffer: Jayson Nix-level bad.

Tommy (OPS, FL): Who's the better pitcher Edwin Jackson or Andy Sonnanstine?

Caleb Peiffer: Tough call, but I think Jackson has the higher upside.

MarinerDan (San Francisco): I'm a big fan of the Preview pieces -- they've become my first destination in the morning. Can you tell us a little about how you go about writing them?

Caleb Peiffer: Glad to hear you're enjoying them. It's a process of fighting writer's block through statistics--usually trawling through the box scores, the BP databases and sortable stats, and Baseball Reference's team pages, in trying to find interesting things to talk about. Good pitching matchups help with determining which games to pick, but I try not to always talk about the starting pitchers all the time if I can help it.

Tommy (OPS,FL): Is Dioner Navarro legit?

Caleb Peiffer: Joe Sheehan will tell you yes--Navarro is one of Joe's favorite players. He nicknamed him "Bandwagon" in the offseason because he figured everyone would be jumping on Navarro's in 2008.

johnny (mpls): The Indians go from taking Boston to 7 games in the LCS to getting swept by the Reds and White Sox on the road, not to mention the complete collapse of their offense (hitting .231/.311/.358 so far) and have their bullpen collapse to the worst in the majors, and they can't even sniff being one of the most disappointing teams? I'm already ready to give up on the year.

Caleb Peiffer: Don't give up yet--Cliff Lee, Sabathia, Carmona and Laffey could carry that team to the playoffs on their own. And who knows, maybe they'll sign Bonds!

Mike (Minn): Is Gomez's May #'s .318 .375 .545 a career month or a real trend into a really good player. What do you think Gomez's upside is?

Caleb Peiffer: What he's done so far at age 22 is pretty impressive. Let's see what the man himself has to say:

"Now I'm a leadoff hitter, but I'm 22. When I get to be 25, my body will be bigger and I'll be hitting home runs. I can be like an Andruw Jones or a Torii Hunter and hit third in a lineup. I don't think I'll be a leadoff hitter forever, no way."

You gotta love that confidence!

Caleb Peiffer: Alright folks, I gotta run. My apologies to anyone who had a question that I didn't get to. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for making my first chat a thoroughly enjoyable one! See you next time.

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