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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday August 15, 2008 3:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.


Christina Kahrl breaks down all the latest moves in the long-running Transaction Analysis.

Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, without further introduction, let's just jump right in...

Mike (Utica, NY): Is Jeff Francouer the next Marty Cordova?

Christina Kahrl: Ouch... I think it's an equally odd situation, certainly, and it's so hard to say what comes next for Frenchy that there's definitely a danger.

lpiklor (Chicago): Hiya Christina! Did you happen to see what Cyrt Schilling wrote in his blog today? "As I stated yesterday the pendulum is swinging very heavily in the direction of it just being over. Iíve never sat around and not gotten ready to head to Florida, well not in 23 or so years anyway, so to me that will likely be the last real test for me and whether or not I want to put the time and effort into getting after it one more time." Any thoughts? I've always kind of liked Schilling...

Christina Kahrl: Yeah, I think it would definitely be a shame to see Schilling leave the game this way, but what are the possible alternatives? Tom Glavine's going to go down fighting, but it doesn't look like that'll end well. Nobody should want to be the next Steve Carlton (for this reason, among others). While I don't think anyone could ever see eye to eye with Schilling on everything, it's always been easy for me to root for him because he's a fellow games geek/geekette; it's sort of like when Lenny Dykstra talked about Strat in '86, and how that felt for Strat-o players nationwide.

Rob (Brighton): The Charlie Zink fan club lives on! Even if it is an army of one...

Christina Kahrl: I know I can be a bit of a sourpuss on this subject, but it isn't an army of one. There are a few thousands of Wil E. Coyotes touting Zink in the race to be the person who says Craig Wright was right in "The Diamond Appraised" and that we need more Charlie Houghs; heck, I'm one of them, because Craig was right, and we do need more Charlie Houghs. My advice to everyone is that those things are not the same thing as nominating every single knuckleball pitcher for full mancrushery, because the outsized attention given to Zink, Haeger, and Dickey has far outstripped what they've actually managed to do.

Andrew (Nueva York): What's an appropriate protest if the Nats can't sign Crow?

Christina Kahrl: The front office has to eat squab?

lentzner (Fremont, CA): Christina, What is your assessment of the A's going forward 2009 and beyond. I know a lot of people are bullish, but I have my worries. Unlike the Rays who were stacked with four and five star players, the A's seem to be almost overloaded with three star types - They must be pushing 20 of these guys. How good of a team can you have with a plethora of useful roleplayers and platoon partners? Is a team with no weaknesses, but no real strengths either a playoff contender? Matt

Christina Kahrl: I don't know why people would be all that bullish. It's an interesting and deep organization, but you're exactly right, and this is why I was so down on the Harden deal. Near-adequate corner outfield types or somebody who might be a third starter if things break right, but who's more certainly a four and five... you don't hoard those guys, you bundle them to *get* good things.

I see plenty of weaknesses. The infield lacks a single reliable regular under 30. The outfield has Carlos Gonzalez and... well, maybe Travis Buck pans out, but you can just as easily say the same of Daric Barton. The pitching staff has all sorts of depth, but nobody's an obvious ace in the making. I guess I see a lot of adequacy and a shot at 80 wins if a lot of things go right.

wayne twitchell's twin brother (under a rock): Hi Christina, As always, thanks for the chat - reading your work is a pleasure. Do you think there's any chance the Orioles add Matt Wieters to the roster before the end of the season. He could "get his feet" for 2009, but is the arbitration clock more important?

Christina Kahrl: Wayne's twin, you are too kind... I suppose there's a chance, but I suspect between the arbitration clock and the importance attached to managing a debut of a blue-chip talent, so that when he's up he's up to stay, will combine to keep him in the minors.

Shane (Miami): Christina, have you been watching any USA baseball at the Olympics? What a performance by that Strasburg, if you are the Nats/Mariners/Padres, do you secretly hope to finish last? On that note, do you think MLB should move to a lottery format to avoid tanking? thanks!

Christina Kahrl: I have to admit, I haven't watched a single minute of this year's Olympics. I'm usually only interested in the equestrian events as is, and I'm instead thinking of diving into the copy of David Clay Large's book on the '36 Olympics to commemorate the odiousness of the occasion this time around.

Happily for baseball, the vagaries of the draft are such in terms of whether or not players pan out that I don't think there's any concern over whether or not we'll have anything like the situation in the early '80s in the NBA, when the Rockets gamed the system.

Paco (Orange County): Christina, worried about old friends. What do you make of Casey Kotchman's step back in the walks department? We Halo fans were hoping he'd be the next incarnation of Wally Joyner, but now Braves fans would have to be pretty happy if he even met that.

Christina Kahrl: Kotchman believers have always had to latch onto little bits of happiness, like when it seemed that he'd finally turned the corner after a stretch of minor league slugging in 2005, but he keeps tripping over himself, to the point that he's almost the latter-day Mickey Vernon or something. A poor man's Mickey Vernon. At this point, Kotchman's in danger of devolving into a patch, a placeholder, somebody you resort to, not somebody you plug in as a matter of choice. I was a pessimist at the time of the deal, and I'm more pessimistic still now.

ODo26132002 (MPLS): Is the Twins claim of Washburn a sign they are attempting to limit Liriano's innings or just completely baffling?

Christina Kahrl: The White Sox have a rotation to fill; I think it's as much a matter of making sure he didn't wind up hurting the Twins' bid by falling to one of the contenders as anything else. There doesn't appear to be any danger that the Mariners will say "fine, he's yours," because nobody seems to really be in charge, so claiming a guy and then "failing to work out a deal" could be nothing more than good gamesmanship.

Drew W (NoVa): Better catcher in five years: Kurt Suzuki or Jesus Flores?

Christina Kahrl: Oooh, I like this question, in no small part because I really like both of them, but where I see Suzuki as a guy who will always be one of the best second-rank catchers in the game (as in, a step behind the stars), Flores is someone I see with a chance to push his way into the first, even in a NL already gifted with McCann, Martin, and Soto.

uptick (st. louis, mo): Hi Christina, what do you think that the Snakes will do when Upton comes back? Try Reynolds at 2B and Dunn at 1B? That would sure increase Reynolds' fantasy value! thx

Christina Kahrl: Reynolds at second would be fun, in the same that seeing Arci Cianfrocco play short for the Padres in snatches during the '90s was fun. It is *not* something you'll find recommended in the owner's manual, however, and I can imagine it would only really work when you have someone like Randy Johnson starting, ie, a starter who isn't dependent on his infield D (like, say, Brandon Webb). As I took it apart earlier in the week, once Upton's back I really think the path of least resistance is also the best decision: bench Tracy, and move Dunn or Jackson to first.

collins (greenville nc): Of BP's three distinct ways of calculating playoff odds, is one of them better than the others? I love TA: I always read it first.

Christina Kahrl: Oh, see, that's mean, because they're all cool. Maybe I'm just way too vanilla, but I favor the elegant simplicity of the simple Odds Report. Nate's ELO is really very complicated and perhaps a bit too experimental for me, and I'm not exactly clear as to the extent that the PECOTA-flavored variant adapts to injuries and roster turnover. Besides, vanilla with some nice berries is really very tasty, but it's all a matter of taste.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Yankees news - Cabrera demoted, Sexson waived, Gardner and Ransom promoted. Meh.

Christina Kahrl: Which is funny in a way; Gardner/Cabrera no doubt deserved consideration earlier in the year, when it might have actually done Melky some good, but now we're almost out of Triple-A games to play. I don't know if Sexson's uselessness qualifies as news, but given that it took the Yankees far too long to notice that Andy Phillips isn't even the next Kevin Jordan, I think the Torre blind spot for sorting out what to put on a bench didn't leave the organization with the man himself.

Christopher (Indy): So with McCann, Martin and Soto in the first tier. What happens to Doumit?

Christina Kahrl: As much as I love Doumit and love the decision to really make him a catcher, and as much as I think everyone should be impressed by how much he really devoted himself to improving his craft behind the plate, until he shows us that he can stay healthy while catching regularly, he's not there yet, and that isn't something I'd necessarily bet on.

shamah (NYC): Do you think Ian Stewart maintains his success into next season? What does the move to 2b do to his value?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think we'll be seeing Stewart stick at second; the experiment was fun, but Atkins is a bad third baseman, and any questions of who plays where will almost certainly have to wait on how Todd Helton's back comes along. Which is to say I think Dan O'Dowd's in the unhappy position of having to wait this out over the winter, but if there's one source of solace, it's that Stewart's for real, and will keep doing what he's doing.

Ken (Kansas City): Is Ian Kennedy for David Dejesus a fair trade?

Christina Kahrl: Not at all, and heaven help the Royals if they did anything of the sort.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Has CC Sabathia indicated any preference for where he wants to play next year? A lot of folks seem to be assuming that the Yankees will be after him at all costs, but I was wondering if the playing field was level and who else might be on it.

Christina Kahrl: As far as I know, Sabathia hasn't said boo; everybody's cash is green after all, except for the Jays' I guess, and even then, they pay the players in greenbacks. There's been plenty of speculation that the California native will want to head home, and also plenty of speculation that wheel barrows of Yankee bucks will do the trick. At this point, I wouldn't rule out all sorts of possibilities, especially as he settles into enjoying the NL.

nstampe (Madison): Rickie Weeks: MLB, AAAA or Hey he's under 25, relax?

Christina Kahrl: I guess I never really got onto the Rickie Weeks bandwagon, because I keep thinking that his shortcomings as a second baseman are going to push him into the outfield sooner or later, and he doesn't hit well enough to cut it in a corner. If he could handle center, I can sign up for the third option, but if he can't hack it there, we start getting into whether or not he's an obstacle you have to overcome.

Doug (Chicago): Is there anybody in the minors that might help the Cubs come September? Their minor league system seems awfully bare.

Christina Kahrl: Not a lot, but they're a team that boasts all sorts of depth on the big-league roster. You'll Hoffpauir back to pinch-hit and make a few spot starts at first of left if somebody's got aches and pains, and Jose Ceda might get the call to help out in the pen if he gets hot at Double-A in the last couple of weeks.

fuzwoz (Pronkville?): Shouldn't the Indians kept Byrd for the draft pick...or was offering arb too risky?

Christina Kahrl: If anybody offers Byrd arbitration, he would probably accept with alacrity. I think the Tribe did what they had to do under the circumstances.

Frustrated (LA): If the Dodgers hadn't wasted so many PA's on veterans that are way past their usefulness what would their lead in the division be?

Christina Kahrl: Hrm, this deserves something more than an envelope, but off the cuff, I wouldn't say it would be double digits. There was no way to anticipate that Andruw would be *this* bad, just as there was no way to anticipate losing Furcal for the year. It's easy to bash on Colletti for so many bad choices, of course, but they did seem to sort out that Pierre shouldn't start once they'd added Manny in relatively short order, and that's really the only point at which it became obvious, given that Andruw's hit badly enough to make Pierre a better choice than somebody. I'm more annoyed over the LaRoche thing than anything, but there again, injuries were part of the picture, and it isn't like Blake DeWitt's a graybeard.

ac (nyc): Is Guthrie a pitcher that O's fans should be excited about or just enjoy while it lasts? The 350 innings he has pitched for the O's have been pretty good and he is still somewhat young.

Christina Kahrl: A bit of both... his career arc might have been affected to the better because of the time spent on Mormon missionary work, so who's to say he can't keep on keeping on for a few more years? He's not just the new Milacki.

Rick (Chicago): Jon Heyman at SI projects Dunn getting something in the neighborhood of 5 years and $70M in FA, far short of the $100M Bronson Arroyo suggests he anticipates. How does that strike you in terms of what Dunn is worth and what you think hes likely to get?

Christina Kahrl: Maybe, but I guess I'm a bit skeptical about that, given that it seems like more than a few teams were reticent about having any interest in him. I mean, sure, Eric Byrnes is making eight figures, so more than $10 million per seems a reasonable expectation, but I guess I don't see that many suitors for Dunn's agent to play off of one another.

CrisE (St Paul, MN): The Twins beat writer said they actually wanted Washburn to free up one of the other starters for a trip to the pen. How does that look like a better option than Bradford?

Christina Kahrl: Makes sense to me, because the Twins have a pretty crummy infield defense, and Bradford would get murdered by infield turf choppers Brendan Harris can't handle. Were they to have added Washburn, I'd rather push someone like Perkins to the pen and have a multi-inning reliever with some measure of success with the team than take my chances on Bradford. That's in this specific instance; different constellations of talent yield different outcomes and possible scenarios.

BL (Bozeman, MT): David C. Large is a history prof at Montana State University. Just thought you needed to know... how could/should David Moore address KCs middle infield situation going forward?

Christina Kahrl: Re: Large, I know, but that's just because I'm a fan, going back to "Between Two Fires." To move away from history groupiedom, I think leaving Aviles at short as long as he's playing adequately there makes sense; it's easier to scare up a playable second baseman, even among minor league free agents.

Gray (Chicago): Can you explain to me why the Angels have handled Brandon Wood the way they have? Calling him up to sit on the bench? Are you at all impressed by his recent lack of Ks?

Christina Kahrl: I think part of the problem is identifying what Wood is--there was a point when people could reasonable see the new Troy Glaus or something, when we might instead have the new Kelly Gruber or, if he stays at short, Jose Hernandez. That's a much different proposition, especially on a team that these days is far more easily impressed by the slappy aggression and basepaths violence of an Erick Aybar. A long swing is a terrible thing to have on the bench, though, since it's almost certain to go stale; if Wood's going to be up, he needs to play, and if avoiding strikeouts for some short stretch is the only way for him to get Mickey Hatcher's imprimatur, so be it.

Meddler (Brooklyn, NY): What'd you think of Jerry Manuel's threat to move a starter to the pen in Flushing? Was it a smoke and mirrors threat to get some blood flowing out beyond the Right Field fence at Shea? Or a legitimate consideration? If its the latter, is Jon Niese ready to fill in for the big league rotation? Does John Maine have the makeup of a late inning reliever or even an interim closer?

Christina Kahrl: It's a really bad idea from a former manager who was given to posturing and pronouncements during his time on the South Side. I'd hope for adult intervention, but there's no guarantee that Omar Minaya would sort this out before the damage was done.

David (Sonoma State University, CA): I have to do my senior thesis this semester (30 pages). I'm a history major, and the topic of the class is "The Mediterranean World." Any suggestions on a topic?

Christina Kahrl: The threat of Islamic seapower in the 15th and 16th centuries? There's been a lot of work done on Lepanto, the sieges of Rhodes of Malta, and the like. Mix in two shots of Braudel, see if trade followed the flag and explore if there were any economic components involved, and draw a contrast between these clashes and those that tended to stall around Vienna, which always seem to get greater play.

Meddler (Brooklyn, NY): Think you could come up with some crazy, creative scenario where the Mets were able to part ways with Luis Castillo without eating his whole contract? Is this even possible short of an act of God?

Christina Kahrl: Help get Bill Bavasi hired somewhere, and then swing the deal as a form of payback?

TGisriel (Baltimore): Hi Christina: The Baltimore Sun reports the O's have signed Matusz. Probably inevitable, but good news. what do you see in his future, and how long before he's pitching in Camden yards?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Tom, that would be good news for the Orioles, obviously; I expect he'll move up fast, since I think he's generally as having more upside than, say, Ross Detwiler did last year. But as Detwiler or Ricky Romero reflect, as much as these things make sense on draft day, reality has a way of being rude to some.

Alex (Decatur Where it's Greater, GA): Why do my Braves suck so hard? Does God hate me?

Christina Kahrl: Because they've been slowly declining for years, and that's as much on Schuerholz for decisions long since made than on anyone else's head; it'll be interesting to see how Wren and company build things back up again in the years to come. As for holy hate, I'd find that pretty ironic, since the Braves are one of the teams going out of their way to cultivate the faithful as a market.

Scott (Ann Arbor, MI): Is there any chance the Reds are considering/will consider making Micah Owings a position player? Would that be a good, mediocre, or miserable idea?

Christina Kahrl: I really doubt they're considering anything of the sort, nor should they. Owings can be a valuable part of a big-league rotation, but might only make a mediocre first baseman or corner outfielder. It's easier to find a Ben Broussard type than a third or fourth starter.

Aaron (YYZ): How crazy are the Mariners for pulling back Washburn because Minnesota was 'only' offering Boof Bonser?!

Christina Kahrl: You can take the Bavasi out of the ballclub, but not the Bavasi-ism, I guess. There's something sort of sad about a team that overvalues its mediocrities, but it also explains a lot about how they got there.

dianagramr (NYC): Good afternoon Christina ... The A's were celebrated in "Moneyball". BP sang the Red Sox praises in "Mind Game". When will the Angels get their props for organizational savvy? (ignoring the elephant in the room with a strong resemblance to Gary Matthews)

Christina Kahrl: Hi Diana, it's a valid question, and one that I asked last year in an article for the New York Sun, but I expect that the the A's failure to matter of late has really sort of taken the starch out of the invented "debate" between scouting and performance analysis, and without that kind of controversy, most publishers won't take notice of things like simple winning.

rawagman (Toronto): Christina - Do you grade transactions over the course of the year? It would be very cool (if also very daunting) to see an end-of-year scorecard of the moves teams made, both in terms of adjusting to the inevitable unpleasantnesses (injuries) and in how they were proactive (promotions, trades, etc.) Thanks for the great work!

Christina Kahrl: Thanks for the compliment... actually, I don't grade moves, and I guess I've never been tempted, because my concern would be that I'd be doing something dumb, like numericizing a studied opinion to give it math-y weight. Sort of like Win Shares, and just as useless.

Bill (White Rock, NM): Given where the Cardinals are now, in terms of standings and roster strengths/weaknesses, would you rather see Adam Wainwright come back as a starter or reliever if (when) he comes off the DL? Their pen is a mess, but above average starters don't come along every day.

Christina Kahrl: I'd definitely put Wainwright in the rotation. Why not give Chris Perez that many more chances to save games by having a starter able to keep squiggly numbers off of the scoreboard?

Dallas McPherson (NM): What does my future look like?

Christina Kahrl: There's a fortune to be made in the land of the rising sun, and having settled on Jorge Cantu, I think the Marlins would take the yen and run if they get a good-sized offer to make you a gaijin.

franklin (new york): in what direction do you think the A's will go regarding 2B next year. They could resign Ellis, go with Patterson, consider Cardenas and in a few years have Jemile Weeks?

Christina Kahrl: I'm not going to be surprised to see Ellis sign elsewhere, and it appears that the A's see Patterson as playable at second. Investing the time to see if that's so makes sense, with Cardenas perhaps having to prove the same thing in the minors before getting a shot at Patterson. Weeks may make the whole thing moot in 2011, but in the meantime, there's enough about Patterson and Cardenas that's worth exploring.

mymrbig (New Orleans): Am I the only person that is surprised that Aubrey Huff was not claimed on waivers? He is a solid hitter and it seems like some team in need of a bat down the stretch would at least make a play for him. Any thoughts?

Christina Kahrl: I'm not that surprised, because nobody's probably all that excited about taking on Huff's $9 million salary for next season.

Al (NYC): What's the matter with Jeremy Hermida? Please don't tell me he's the next Marty Cordova!

Christina Kahrl: I sense a trend, and here I am wondering if I'm not the only fan who's a-Grieve'd by Ben's shortcomings. But hey, if people want to make it all about Marty, it might make it easier for me to forget, and move on...

MItch (Penobscot, ME): Hi Christina - In light of rumors of catching prospect Teagarden moving to Boston, I started doing a little digging - and I liked what I found! What's your take on the young Texas catcher, will be be blocked by Salty and what tier do you project for him? Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: It's an interesting conundrum for the Rangers, because I probably like Teagarden more than Salty, but Salty's part of the Tex package from the Braves, and it isn't like either of them are bad prospects. I don't see either of them becoming stars in the same stratosphere as McCann, Martin, Mauer, Soto, but both could end up becoming outstanding regulars.

Christina Kahrl: With that, I'm cutting things short early this week, in part because I really want to finish up my next TA and get that up tonight. Here's to looking forward to the last couple of weeks of waiver deals and enjoying some already-great races. To everyone who will be at the University of Chicago Alumni/White Sox ballpark event on the 24th to see Nate, Kevin, and I, we look forward to seeing you all there, and if you're in Tampa/St.Pete, make a point of going to the Rays Ballpark event with Will and Andrew Friedman--you'll enjoy the time spent, cuz it's all about baseball. Until the next time...

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