Joe Sheehan writes Prospectus Today for Baseball Prospectus.
Joe Sheehan: I cannot believe there are just six weeks left in the season. It's depressing. Really.
Alex (Houston): Would Bonds be a good fit for the Stros the rest of this season?
Joe Sheehan: They're playing Ty Wigginton in left field, and Geoff Blum is getting the extra ABs. Forget any kind of warmup, sign Bonds, start him tonight, and he'd be better than those choices.
But winning doesn't matter as much as perpetuating the myth. Say, did anyone see that Paul Lo Duca is back in the majors?
ccarroll999 (Ridgefield, Ct.): Hi Joe,
Xavier Nady is demonstrating his desire to fulfill one of the corner outfield spots for the 2009 Yankees. Xavier was a highly touted 2nd rd. draft prospect for the S.D. Padres. Is his current stride one of a career year or his finally hitting his stride and a portent of finer things to come. Do you foresee the Yankees signing him to a long term deal or letting him go for the draft prospects?
Joe Sheehan: Nady's having a BABIP spike. Everything else about his season is pretty much refective of his career, and if you want to make a comparison, it'd be to Gary Matthews Jr.'s 2006 campaign, and we see what's happened since in that case. Nady is a useful fourth outfielder/platoon guy, worth a roster spot but not a multi-year deal.
g-mo (bumpus): Welcome back, Mr. Sheehan! I'm glad to see someone at BP tackle the question of the AL MVP. Are you doing a companion piece on the NL? While the quantitative answer will be clearer, factoring in voter prejudices makes that debate just as complicated and compelling.
Joe Sheehan: I was debating making it awards week, but the backlog of ideas created by my travel might take precedence. Tune in tomorrow...
Matt A (Raleigh): Bigger priority for the Atlanta Braves this off-season: Real bat for LF or front-line SP?
Joe Sheehan: The back end of the rotation is pretty bad right now, so I think a starting pitcher would have more marginal value to them than a bat would. Much depends on what they expect to get from Hudson and Smoltz in 2009. Given the strength of the division, the Braves might actually need to just retrench for 2010 and beyond, saving their money.
XchancedogX (NH): Hi Joe,
With John Lester being unbeliable this year and Clay Bucholz being terriable are you ready to change your mind on whom has the better career?
Joe Sheehan: No, although the development of Lester does make me think I underrated him, and didn't take his unique path enough into consideration. I still think Buchholz's raw stuff will give him an edge in the long term, but if I called Lester 75% of Cole Hamels in the offseason, I'd say he's 85-90% of Hamels now.
SeanRyan (NJ): Do you think Cole misled the Yankees?
Joe Sheehan: I was 18 once, too. I changed my mind constantly.
In general, I think we've become far too inclined to see malice where in fact there is indecision, when it comes to the process of drafting and signing amateur players. Given how severely the deck is stacked against the individuals in this process, I refuse to get too worked up when one doesn't sign.
J.P. (Hartford): If Wagner is done for the year, who do you think closes for the Mets? Or does Manuel just roll out closer by committee and cross his fingers?
Joe Sheehan: There's no one pitcher in that pen who's necessarily wired for the job, with many of the options either being contact or high-split pitchers. I think you have to play matchups as best you can. If it's going to be one guy, I'd say Feliciano, who doesn't give up homers and who has had success against righties in the past.
Jeffrey (CT): Quick prediction: Location and contract for Manny in 2009?
Joe Sheehan: Los Angeles, one year, $20 million, plus an option for 2010.
mattymatty (Philly): What do you think the Red Sox should do about Julio Lugo? OK, now what WILL they do about him?
Joe Sheehan: Re: Ramirez question--forgot about the options being eliminated. OK, I think he'll get four years and $22 million or more, and I lean towards the Yankees getting him and finding homes for Matsui and Damon.
Lugo has served as a utility guy before, and he has enough speed to be a viable bench player, so give him Alex Cora's job, with maybe a bit more playing time. He can also play a little third if you want. The Red Sox have a lot of flexibility.
Ted (Milwaukee): Does a baserunner ever have a good excuse for getting picked off?
Joe Sheehan: Oh, sure. I mean, getting picked off isn't much different from a caught stealing in many situations--a runner is trying to get an extra base, and doesn't make it. It's just a matter of who nails him. I do think being picked off in non-steal situations, whether because you're not a basestealer or the value of your being on base outweighs the possible out, is tough to swallow.
Drew (Chicago): Why are Astros fans under the false impression they are still in the playoff hunt...with or without this long winning streak?
Joe Sheehan: Because that's what the management team has been telling them for months, and that team went out and traded for Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins to reinforce that idea.
Connor (Chicago, IL): Do you think the Dodgers have any notion of moving Hong-Chih Kuo back to the rotation next year after after a full, healthy, and effective season in long relief?
Joe Sheehan: I hope so. The other alternative is making him a one-inning reliever, since the role he's currently filling doesn't really exist in most team's bullpens any longer, and has almost never existed in one of Joe Torre's. That Torre has used him this way could be evolution, but I think it's more likely a workaround.
I love Kuo though. Billngsley/Kershaw/Kuo versus Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez (or others) versus Webb/Haren/Scherzer is just a lot of fun out west.
Jay (Ohio): My major problem with your article last week is that as a fan in Cincy, I still haven't heard how I benefit from the draft going away. We simply can not compete with the Yankees and Red Sox on dollars spent. Is the draft perfect? Of course not, but it's a helluva lot better than just letting the Red Sox and Yankees compound their already considerable advantages.
Joe Sheehan: For your team, maybe, although you may recall that baseball existed for 80 years before the draft. Moreover, and I can't help but reiterated this, the draft doesn't exist so that the Reds can compete with the Yankees and Red Sox. It exists so that the Red Sox and Yankees DON'T HAVE TO COMPETE with them for talent, because that kind of collusion saves money.
The draft exists to prevent competition for amateur talent, and whatever secondary benefits may be derived, I don't think it's at all fair to the players being drafted. In any sport. It's anticompetitive behavior.
Drew W (NoVa): Any thoughts on instant replay?
Joe Sheehan: As much of it as is possible. The players should decide what happens, not some middle-management functionary. If a foot reaches a base before a tag is applied, that player is safe, and if it takes a couple of minutes to determine that, so be it.
Doug (Dallas): Which of the recent position playing draftees makes it to big leagues first and who will be the most successful?
Joe Sheehan: Yonder Alonso and Gordon Beckham seem closest to me, although the Astros may be under some pressure to rush Castro to the majors, especially if Smoak plays well. I like Beckham to have the best career.
scottziegler (Beaver Dam, WI): Joe, do you or have you ever collected baseball cards?
Joe Sheehan: I did for about three or four years, from 1979 to 1981 or 1982. When I started playing Strat, that took the place of baseball cards for me. I now have a ridiculous number of Strat cards.
tremont (Baltimore, MD): Should the Rangers make a run at Sabathia in the offseason? Do you think he'd be the perfect guy to anchor the rotation with Feliz, Holland, Main, etc coming up through the ranks?
Joe Sheehan: The working idea I took from my trip down there is that Sheets may be more signable due to his Texas roots and his status as second banana to Sabathia this winter. I think the length on either contract will make both difficult to swallow, and I wonder if this is the winter for the Rangers to make that investment. Next winter seems a better fit.
Bryan (Hyattsville): When is Argenis Reyes getting added to the BP player database? I'd like to see his DT card.
Joe Sheehan: You can always go through the team pages:
BL (Bozeman, MT): How can Dayton Moore get himself out of the regrettable Jose Guillen situation without just up and admitting it was a really bad idea?
Joe Sheehan: Say nothing, make sure Guillen plays every day for the rest of the season, and go to Las Vegas with a league-average outfielder on a two-year, $24-million contract available for trade. Be willing to take back a little bit less on the deal and spend a couple million to be done with this.
Afterwards, make better decisions.
airjakub2 (Brooklyn): Thoughts on Maddon IBBing Hamilton with the bases loaded last night?
Joe Sheehan: Bad idea jeans. Hamilton vs. Wheeler at 7-3 (assuming he would have made the move then) yields maybe a 12% shot at a tied game in that AB, and a 37% shot at some kind of baserunner. Byrd vs. Wheeler at 7-4 is a 10% chance of a tie, a 3% chance of a loss and a 33% shot at some kind of baserunner. You've introduced the chance of losing the game and gained virtually nothing.
Neal (Joliet): Joe, I think it was a bit too strong to say Quentin doesn't compare to ARod in MVP voting. Maybe Arod is deserving but when you slug .582 you are in the conversation
Joe Sheehan: Depends on the scope of the conversation, I guess. Rodriguez has outhit Quentin by 12 points of EqA, and that's the good news. Rodriguez has positional and defensive edges. He's ahead in the advanced rate stats, and comparable in counting ones despite the missed time due to injury. Quentin, by the way, isn't clearly the best player in his own outfield--Jermaine Dye has been essentially as valuable.
Will (Conshohocken (PA)): Joe, no Carlos Carrasco on your fast-rising prospects? He might be the best one of them all. He's better at AAA than AA, a great sign.
Joe Sheehan: I'm assuming this is a reference to the recent Sports Illustrated piece...Will, that addressed prospects on teams out of the race this season, so Carrasco didn't qualify. I do like him--caught his inning at the Futures Game and was impressed.
Steve (Baltimore): The Orioles are hitting .311/.372/.511 in the 30 games since the All-Star break and are now 3rd in the AL in runs behind Texas and Boston. Should they sign a few big pitchers next season and make a push, or is this season's offense just a collection of career years?
Joe Sheehan: The latter. There's some good players here--Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones (now hurt)--but the recent push is about guys like Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora, who have no future here.
JMan (TP): Is this the real Fukudome?
Joe Sheehan: I think the average is low, but the rest of the package seems about right: good walk rate, some doubles power and defense, not much in the way of homers. Power just doesn't translate from the Japanese Leagues, for whatever reason. Fukudome is a handful of singles from having pretty much the year he should have been expected to have.
mattymatty (Philly): How much of a blow to the Mets post-season hopes is losing Billy Wagner for the season (Will Carroll seems to think with his latest setback that he's potentially done for the year).
Joe Sheehan: It's significant because he was the one guy in that bullpen who would miss bats consistently, and the dropoff from him to Feliciano or Sanchez in high-leverage spots is steep. The thing is, it's relievers: over six weeks, it's really hard to know what any of them might do, so it's hard to quantify the loss.
Jay (Ohio): Again, you're avoiding the point. I know as well as you do that the draft exists to save owners a couple bucks. What you aren't acknowledging is that their interests are in line with my interests and the interests of about 20 other teams' fans.
Joe Sheehan: I don't believe that for a second. I think any convergence in the interests of owners as a whole and fans as a whole is purely coincidental.
We don't know what the universe would look like in a world without the draft. I tend to think the doomsday scenarios are overstated, and that even if some worst cases happened, well, I also don't think cities are entitled to winning baseball teams, or baseball teams at all, for that matter.
The only thing we know with CERTAINTY is that the draft shifts money from the top tier of players to teams by restricting the market for amateur talent. Everything else is speculation.
oira61 (San Francisco): Joe: Baseball existed for 80 years without the draft, but look at attendance increases since the draft. Perhaps the game wouldn't be large-market-dominated without a draft -- maybe a new Branch Rickey would develop some way of finding/signing great talent for a mid-market team. But it seems likely that the game would be more stratified into haves and have-nots than it is now. I'm just throwing that out there, though: I'd like to see you tackle the subject in depth -- a new baseball world without a draft, and what it would mean for competition, not just for the rights of the amateur players. Moreover: Competition drives attendance and ratings, which gives the teams more money to pay amateur players in the first place. If there were no draft, maybe Pedro Alvarez would get $20 million, but would the 65th best prospect still get $1 million?
Joe Sheehan: Attendance was flat in the years after the draft. It increased with the advent of free agency.
If you think MLB is stratified into haves and have-nots now, I can't help you. Stop confusing revenues and market sizes with success or the potential for success. The game is as loaded with parity as it's ever been, and if you need more than that, watch the Random Football League.
thorne (washington dc): Thoughts on the Nats/Crow debacle?
Joe Sheehan: I don't think a franchise with as many holes as the Nationals can go a year without signing its first-round pick, so perhaps the Nationals should have taken a somewhat lower-risk player. With that said, there seems to be a lot of he-said/they-said here, and I'm not sure which entity is to blame. I do know, however, that it wasn't Aaron Crow who said there had to be a window of just 10 weeks between draft and signing deadline, and it wasn't Aaron Crow who gets compensation for not being signed. That was someone else's idea, once again designed to maximize leverage.
Pirates fans, how's that Freddy Sanchez contract working out for you?
cj (SF): Can Lastings Milledge mature into a consistent plus with the bat?? He's shown some signs lately ...
Joe Sheehan: I'm a fan...I see him as a center fielder who hits .290/.360/.460 with good defense and +10 net steals a year. Others have seen more power in him, but I think he's an OBP/doubles player. You could argue that, with Zimmerman's injury and lost year, that he's the most valuable property in that organization.
Tony (Royalville): Is Adam Dunn a solution to the lack of power in KC this winter? And would it be a good signing?
Joe Sheehan: Good god, no. The Royals have a massive logjam on the corners as it is, and as much as they could use Dunn's offense, signing a player who adds to that is more problem than solution.
Lots of Royals questions today...
PSzucs (The Baseball Hub): "I like Beckham to have the best career."... Gordon or Tim?
Joe Sheehan: Gordon. I thought the question was about college draftees.
Tony (NY): Lars Anderson is killing the ball in AA, if he is ready by next year, what should the sox do with Lowell and Youk at the corners?
Joe Sheehan: Well, he won't be ready by next year, at least as far as the Red Sox are concerned. Even if Mike Lowell declines, there's enough of a defensive gap between Lowell/Youkilis and Youkilis/Anderson to make that kind of move questionable. The question comes after next year, with Lowell having a year left on his deal and all three of he, Youks and Ortiz possibly free agents after 2010.
Grasspike (NC): Which injuries floating around right now have the biggest chance to be season-ending? I know you're not Will Carroll, but who looks like they're gonna be out for the remainder of the year?
Joe Sheehan: Travis Hafner, for one. Chien-Ming Wang, perhaps.
Man, there are a lot of people willing to defend the draft in the name of competitive balance. Good job, MLB. Bad job, economics professors of America.
Brock D (Shakopee, MN): Can Jason Kubel be put in the same sentence as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau?
Joe Sheehan: "Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have never been in my kitchen."
Kubel's not that guy. He's a good fourth banana on a team missing a third. Now, anyway...I suspect he has some late kick in him that gets him to a .300/.380/.520 peak for a couple of years.
tremont (Baltimore, MD): Murphy/Evans platoon in LF viable for the Mets next season?
Joe Sheehan: Not really. The two teams don't trade much, but a trade with the Yankees for Matsui or Damon might make sense as a short-term patch. The Yankees will probably look to add a major bat and shop one or both of them.
Stephen (Louisville): Do you ever use clutch hitting to inform your MVP analysis? Like a stat such as WPA that factors that in? I know it has no predictive value, but WPA is at least a different way to measure a player's actual impact on winning games, right?
Joe Sheehan: Because a player has no ability to influence the situations in which he appears, and no players have the ability to modulate their performance based on the leverage of the situations in which they appear, I don't care to use WPA or its ilk in analysis. WPA figures seem to be the confluence of performance and coincidence, and while mildly interesting to look at, aren't much more meaningful than RBIs.
warclub (Strongsville, OH ): People in Cleveland are clamoring for Jhonny Peralta to move to 3B. Isn't he one of the best SS? Wouldn't the Tribe be better off signing a one year stop gap or giving Wes Hodges the gig in 2009?
Joe Sheehan: Asdrubal Cabrera is the best shortstop the Indians have, and should be playing there. Whether that means Peralta at second base, shortstop or another team is irrelevant.
Eric Wedge pinch-hit Jamey Carroll for Andy Marte the other day in a high-leverage situation. Why? What good is the rest of your season if not to find out if Andy Marte can be a major leaguer?
denny187 (WI): I think what people want you to address about the draft is the probability of the richest 3-5 teams signing the top 20-30 amatuer prospects every year.
Joe Sheehan: Oh, that's easy: it won't happen. It doesn't happen in the free-for-all of international signings, and it doesn't happen in MLB, so it won't happen for US amateurs.
The argument is IDENTICAL to what it was said would happen when MLB players got free agency. That seems to have worked out.
JROB4349 (jax,fl): you act like dunn isnt a valuable property..isnt adding a 40hr/100 walk guy worth a lot these days?
Joe Sheehan: He is. He's a good player now. However, he's a player with old players' skills, one who may not be able to play left field too far into his thirties. Being a good player now doesn't necessarily make you a good free-agent signing. I don't think I want a 33-year-old Adam Dunn at $18 million.
ac (nyc): Hey,
With the O's only seven games from tying their pre-season projected win total, would you consider this season a success and the beginning of some future "goodness," as Goldstein put it. Does this success help them gain enough credibility to sign one of the big free agents this offseason,i.e. Teixeira?
Joe Sheehan: The idea that teams need "credibility" to sign free agents has never made sense to me. When people talk about players, they talk about how they're all greedy SOBs out to make the last buck. So why would a team need "credibility" rather than cash. I think this year could be a blessing or a curse; if it creates some positivity within the organization, makes the young players feel like they're in a good system, that's a benefit. If it deludes the Orioles into making questionable investments this winter with an eye towards winning something in 2009, that's a mistake. We're not there yet.
Brock D (Shakopee, MN): What needs more help: The Twins Bullpen or the White Sox Rotation?
Joe Sheehan: The White Sox have enough depth to patch rotation issues--free Charlie Haeger! I'm not sure if the Twins can say the same about their bullpen, although persistent rumors that Pat Neshek might come back provide hope. It's interesting in that the Twins, for a few years, had these great no-name pens; now, they have Joe Nathan and dreams of Neshek.
Swingingbunts (NY): How does Justin Upton fit back into the Diamondbacks lineup (or does he?) when he comes off the DL?
Joe Sheehan: I don't think Chad Tracy has played so well that he keeps Upton out of the lineup, so a situation where Jackson moves back to first, Dunn to left and Upton to right, with Tracy getting 2-3 starts a week for everyone, seems most likely. Having to play between Jackson and Dunn has to be getting old for Chris Young.
Shaun P. (Medway, MA): Joe, I know its in CC's best interests to take whoever offers the most money for the most years, because you never know when a pitcher might break down - but Teixeira is better off taking a shorter deal for more cash, and going back on the market when he's 32, right? Isn't this why Boras had the opt-out clauses in A-Rod and JD Drew's old deals?
Joe Sheehan: Good call, Shaun. Opt-outs are the most player-friendly invention since the groupie, and the next owner to give one out will deserve every bit of opprobrium he gets. I wouldn't think an owner would give Teixeira one, but you never know. However, I'm pretty certain he wouldn't sign, say, a Mark Teixeira deal.
Boras may have been aware, with the Drew deal, that he was signing in a slack market that was due to explode. That's not the case this winter.
hagglett (MD): Why no interest in Huff by contenders? He's raking right now, and it doesn't seem to be too unrealistic that he will put up solid numbers next year for under 10 million, does it? What do you think would be a fair haul for him from a contender? Thanks
Joe Sheehan: Six weeks of a DH who didn't hit for the past two years? Not much.
g-mo (bumpus): So lately I've been thinking a lot about Livan Hernandez. I guess I wonder how history will remember him -- how will future generations of baseball historians conceive of a pitcher whose contribution was primarily his ability to pitch a ton of innings? I propose that his inning-eating ability will really stand out in retrospect. What do you think?
Joe Sheehan: I don't think history will remember Hernandez for that so much as for the 1997 Marlins, the 34-inch strike zone in Game Six against the Braves, and Charles Johnson still not believing that pitch was a strike.
AMan (IN): Is this the real Alexei Ramirez?
Joe Sheehan: Probably. He has tools and absolutely no idea what he's doing with them. He reminds me of Shawon Dunston, or the infield version of Jeff Francaeiour. There's almost no way to be a star walking twice a month.
oira61 (San Francisco): Joe: I said without a draft the game "would be more stratified into haves and have-nots than it is now." Please don't turn into a Fox TV commentator and fight a straw horse argument that I didn't make.
I'll put it as a yes or no: Do you believe the absence of a draft will damage competitive balance?
Joe Sheehan: No.
Matt (WI): Do you see Brandon McCarthy making any meaningful impact with Texas this year?
Joe Sheehan: No, and there's no reason to force the issue. Hopefully he shows up in February completely intact.
Jose Reyes (Queens, NY): If we win the NL East am I the MVP, or is there a bias against me for the way I played last Sept?
Joe Sheehan: There's a good case for you, and I have a bias towards up-the-middle guys. However, are you even the MVP of your infield?
GBSimons (Work (UGH!)): Welcome back, Joe! You certainly were missed. Sorry to hear about the effects of Fay and the limited access to baseball while you were gone.
So what, if anything, was the biggest baseball surprise you found out when you got back? Anything significant fly under your radar while you were incommunicado?
Joe Sheehan: The Rays and Twins looked about ready to collapse when I started traveling. Both are now in first place. I missed how that developed, for the most part.
JROB4349 (jax,fl): k..so without dunn..how do the reds go about having a major league outfield next year aside form bruce
Joe Sheehan: I hated using him to block Bruce, but Corey Patterson in a platoon with Ryan Freel in a corner is a nice little player. That's a start.
Razman (Brooklyn, NY): True or false: Sabathia will have been the best pitcher in baseball this year and won't have an award to show for it.
Joe Sheehan: Damn, there goes one column. True.
DK (NYC): 2008 Yankees: "End of an era" or "blip on the radar"?
Joe Sheehan: End of an era. They'll have success, but this is the year the franchise left the dynasty behind, I think.
Steve (ND): Any thoughts on how the Olympic team is doing so far and/or Matt LaPorta getting drilled in the head?
Joe Sheehan: I know they have Jayson Nix playing second base, which makes it hard for me to take the whole thing seriously.
Silv (NY, NY): So, Kershaw is pretty quietly making a run at NL rookie of the year, right? Likely Soto, but Kershaw is in the conversation?
Joe Sheehan: Again, what is "in the conversation"? People use that all the time, and it seems to mean, "I want to hear my favorite player's name, regardless of his shot at the award." The conversation should be about the guys who would be legitimate #1 choices. Kershaw isn't that guy, not in this field.
Mark Cuban (Dallas): Have my chances of buying the Cubs been increased in your eyes?
Joe Sheehan: No.
Corkedbat (Dallas): Any Foreseeable fix at SS for the Orioles?
Joe Sheehan: Not really. I'd get the absolute best glove I could find--a real one, like John McDonald or whoever the Triple-A version is--and play him for a year. Hernandez wasn't that guy. There was a real argument for taking Gordon Beckham instead of Matusz, at least in my eyes.
jklein (chicago): best Cubs team since....
Joe Sheehan: 1984
Joe Sheehan: Thanks, everyone. I'll be back in a few weeks.