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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday October 06, 2008 2:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.


Playoff baseball is upon us. Joe stops by to talk about it all.

Joe's chat has been pushed back to 2:00 p.m.

Joe Sheehan: Yankees miss postseason. Dow drops below 10,000. Coincidence?

Mets Fan (NJ): Hi, Joe. I live in central NJ and therefore in the listening radius of Sports Radio 660 WFAN. Since the Mets season has ended, a certain afternoon show host has been giving the most assinine, incomprehensibly wrong-headed reasons for their demise. Look, I know sports-talk radio is bad for me. I know I shouldn't listen. I know it's the single lowest form of sports media that exists. Why can't I stay away? Why do I drive home every day and let it fire me up? I have a theory that it's because so many people listen and actually agree (!) with what's said, that I view it as the opposing force to websites like this and I listen and get angry in a "know thy enemy" sort of way. I want to just turn the dial or pop in a CD and enjoy my commute home but I can't. Why? Help me, Joe.

Joe Sheehan: One of the biggest differences between when I was growing up in NY, and even when I was a twentysomething in LA, is that I never, ever listen to sports radio any more. I probably shouldn't say that, given that I enjoy being a guest, but the discussions just don't interest me all that much. They tend to be overly personality-driven, rather than about the sports themselves, and because of the structure of talk radio, which at least in NY has VERY short segments, you can't do all that much, especially during drive time.

There is some very, very good sports-radio content out there, and just in NY, I'll mention Max Kellerman's and Gordon Damer's shows as two examples. But for the most part, Mets Fan...you are going to be frustrated if you listen for cogent analysis.

Mike (Utica,NY): Is Lou Pinella the most overrated manager in baseball history.

Joe Sheehan: Not at all. If anything, he's probably underrated. If I had to finish first in a given season, I'd probably take Piniella over Torre, and maybe over La Russa.

Matt (SF, CA): What happened to the Rockies defense? Just got lucky last year?

Joe Sheehan: A mix of things...Tulowitzki's injury, a dropoff at second base, some regression in the outfield. Hard to know what any diddling with the baseballs might do to balls in play. I think it's possible that 2007 was as much about the baseballs as anything--a good defensive team, mind you, but not as good as our metrics indicated.

HeeSeop (Chicago): Are you prepared for the SmallBall lovefest we'll see with the winner of Angels-Rays playing the Dodgers? It's enough to make me a Phillies fan.

Joe Sheehan: Already drinking.

mharrop (toronto): joe, in his hit list season wrap yesterday, Jaffe called the Jays "perhaps the strongest fourth-place team in Wild Card-era history." your thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: The "perhaps" is unnecessary. The Jays had an amazing pitching-and-defense team this season. I might go so far as to say they were the strongest fourth-place team in the divisional era.

David (Boston): Writing this question a bit before Game 3, but do you expect any unwarranted shakeups in the Cubs FO?

Joe Sheehan: No, not at all. Hendry did a very good job.

Neal (Joliet, IL): Rickie Weeks has to be better than this right?

Joe Sheehan: I have no idea at this point. What I do know is that he's not a second baseman, so let's take that off of his plate, give him a shot in center field and see if that changes everything. B.J. Upton is the model here.

Ameer (Bloomington, IN): Yesterday Selig attributed the playoff appearances of the Brewers and Rays to revenue sharing. Maybe I'm confused, but I'm having trouble seeing the relationship between teams with tightwad owners and smart front offices to revenue sharing...

Joe Sheehan: Selig also attributed the greater competitive balance in MLB, increased industry revenues, last year's mild winter, the artistic successes of HBO and Showtime, the Tennessee Titans' 5-0 start, USA Basketball's gold medal and the continued existence of chocolate to revenue sharing.

Rob (Brighton): Which teams has the better chance to pull the upset, the Angels or the White Sox?

Joe Sheehan: White Sox. They're facing the lesser team, with Game Four at home, and instead of facing Jon Lester, they're facing Andrew Sonnanstine.

Ted (Milwaukee): The old practice of starting pitchers pacing themselves, saving their best stuff for key situations -- to what extent is it still around, given five-man rotations and seven- and eight-man bullpens?

Joe Sheehan: It's not, and what you describe is more an effect than a cause. Pitchers can't save their best stuff when every hitter they face is a threat to hit the ball out of the park. This is the single biggest reason why the never-ending comparisons to pitchers of the 1960s and 1970s are wildly invalid, and the point can't be made often enough or strongly enough. In those eras, teams had 2-4 guys in EVERY lineup who couldn't drive the ball. Now everyone can, so pitchers can't just downshift some of the time. That's why no one goes nine any longer--it takes the same amount of effort to go six or seven now as it did to go nine or more back then.

Jason Bartlett (Tampa, FL): How much should I pay that official scorer who didn't charge me with an error in the 9th inning the other night?

Joe Sheehan: Official scoring is a complete and total joke, from Opening Day through the last out of the World Series. You cannot take it seriously.

dpaton (Toronto): Let's hope LA fans enjoy the Manny they're getting right now, becuase history suggest it wont last. Right now he's "Manny being Manny looking for a big contract", as opposed to the "Manny being Manny who quit on his team, to go looking for a big contract" It's amazing how people get suckered in by a haircut a few high fives. Let's not forget how he got to be in LA in the first place. Now having said that, does LA re-sign the "grate one"?

Joe Sheehan: Klawbaiting is two doors down on the left.

Manny didn't quit. Look at his performance in June and July--playing time, stats, everything. This whole thing is a fiction. If Ramirez quit, then give me 25 quitters and an unlimited budget for rings.

Tony (Boston): Many sox fans are criticizing Francona's decision to go with Lopez last night instead of Byrd,i thought it was a good choice i know he is a loogy but at least he gets tons of groundballs and come on, Byrd is a home run waiting to happen, altough wakefield would have been the best choice. Joe would you have subtituted Ortiz for a pinch runner last night???? he walked twice latter in the game and couldn't score.

Joe Sheehan: Last first...I wouldn't have pinch-run. Ortiz runs fairly well for a man his size, always has, and the Sox don't really have anyone fast--not "faster than Ortiz," but fast--on the bench. They kind of need to save Cora to replace Lowell, as they did late in the game.

I didn't mind the choice of Lopez. I think you use your shorter guys before your long man, and Byrd presents tactical problems against lefties and in case a runner gets to third with less than two outs. Neither is that much better than the other.

warclub (Strongsville, OH ): Joe: What would you do if you were the Indians about a closer? Would you give the job to Jensen Lewis to start, or would you look at one of the retread closers?

Joe Sheehan: I'd try and re-create the bullpen that they had a couple years ago, with a whole mess of good pitchers, and not worry about who pitches to three batters every third day or so. Lots of people can do that job. What you need is three or four guys who can get outs, and some of those have to be low-split guys who miss bats. Worry about skills, not roles.

GrinnellSteve (Sox Country): Assuming Buehrle (not Vazquez) starts game 5, how do you see the Sox matching up against either Boston or LA? I still think the Sox are going to take this series.

Joe Sheehan: They will be a significant, even large, underdog to the Red Sox. They would be a lesser dog, but not a favorite, against the Angels.

It would be funny watching two smallball managers play with two softball teams.

Reed (Des Moines): Prior to the Ryan Howard era, which players in baseball were most overrated?

Joe Sheehan: Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, Garret Anderson.

james (BK): T or F: with so much cash coming off the books this year and next, the Yanks will sign CC AND Teixeira. Also do you agree with the logic of trading Cano at what is perhaps the low point of his value?

Joe Sheehan: I could see it. As long as they sign Teixeira, the offseason will be a success. I wouldn't sign Sabathia, and I would actively warn against it, but there's almost an inevitability to it. Who can leave $15-20 million on the table?

I would not trade Cano for exactly that reason. And if I'm the Orioles, I offer Brian Roberts for Cano and one of the close-to-ready armsm try and steal something.

Jon (SF): What would you offer Burrell as a free agent and where do you think he fits in? Should the Mets make him an offer?

Joe Sheehan: I guess I don't see that much difference between Burrell and Carlos Lee, but Burrell won't get 2/3 of the guaranteed money. He might be a better fit in the AL, just because he might need to be a DH in two years, but then again, he might not. I'd say a team isn't already too RH--not the Cubs or the Astros--could make a play at 3/39 or 3/42 and get its money worth.

Brian in Brooklyn, that's a great question and I'm sticking it in the offseason file. I want to think more about it.

lrgreen (NYC): Arredondo vs. K-Rod...who'll be a better closer in 2009? Has K-Rod's shelf life exhausted?

Joe Sheehan: Rodriguez will be better in 2009, I imagine, but not $14MM better. And it may be the last season in which he's better. Arredondo needs to work on his other pitches and his location, but he's going to be a good one.

Rob (Brighton): How do you see the AL Central playing out for the next couple years? I feel like that division could be as competitive as the East is now.

Joe Sheehan: And I feel like we've said that a few times in the last five years, only to have two of the teams take a dive every year. Until further notice, the AL East is the best division in sports.

Jake (DRays Bay): What's with the diss on Sonnanstine? He's 1-0 against the White Sox this year and Gavin Floyd kinda gives up HRs...

Joe Sheehan: Did you really just cite a 1-0 record against a team as evidence? Really? Because I could point out the 5.40 ERA against the White Sox this year. Then we'd both be ridiculous.

Sonnanstine gives up contact, which is suboptimal against a team with the Sox' power at the Cell. I'd rather have Floyd tonight. That isn't canon, just my take heading into the game.

Jon (DC): Do you think that the ridiculous MVP and Cy Young discussion the MSM gives KRod has caused a massive sabermetric backlash to the point that he is a little underrated by stat guys who it sometimes seems act like KRod is not a good pitcher?

Joe Sheehan: Who does this? I hear this a lot, but who out there is writing that Rodriguez is less than an above-average reliever having maybe the third-worse season of his career *outside of* being put into a lot of save situations. Who are these people acting like "KRod is not a good pitcher"? That's drawing inferences that aren't justified.

Brian (Ontario CA): Can MLB stretch this thing out any more? The LCS schedules show a day off between games 4 and 5 in addition to the usual travel days. We're used to the interminable first round by now but playing 7 games in 10 days in the LCS is getting ridiculous.

Joe Sheehan: I'm not a fan. It's all designed to maximize the number of prime-time games by minimizing two-game days. There's some notion that it's also to allow for weather problems--we did have an inordinate amount of bad weather from 2003-06--but I think it's mainly for TV.

Wait until next season, when the WS is *scheduled* for the first week in November. The MSM will flip.

You solve this problem with doubleheaders, but I guess that ship has sailed.

Jon (SF): What do you expect from Corey Hart going forward? Is he more first half, second half, or somewhere in between?

Joe Sheehan: More first half. I have to say that he's been disappointing, and from a distance I can't say exactly why. Seems like a place where there's some advantage to being closer to it. He has a lot of raw skills, but isn't really getting better.

Jon (SF): Joe, why did the Mets just pull a Jays and hire Manuel without a real search? Where was he going to go? Nowhere. They should have tried to poach Acta from the Nats or brought back Davey Johnson.

Joe Sheehan: That's my main criticism of the decision. I just don't get why teams wouldn't go through a full search process for such an important decision. You can search the site--use "Gibbons" as a keyword--for my stuff on this, but basically, keeping the interim manager is a disaster in virtually every case, and the hallmark of bad franchises.

Nick (Missouri): You mentioned Burrell... after him who do you see as the potential FA bargains this offseason? D-Lowe?

Joe Sheehan: If the Dodgers had missed the postseason, Lowe had a chance to be a bargain. I think the added attention kills that. He doesn't have the upside or sex appeal of the other names, but there's so little chance of implosion that he's a good investment. You get a #3 with #2 upside, rather than a potential #1/potential DL lifer.

Frank (NJ): King Kauffman said it best in a recent article but, how nice is it watching games on TBS instead of FOX? Can't the FOX people watch the games on TBS and realize it's such a better presentation? Why does FOX give us baseball in the matter in which they do? Don't people watch based on their interest in the series and not the telecast anyway?

Joe Sheehan: Well, that last question is the point. People who complain about the telecast are going to watch almost no matter what. And the people who would watch for the telecast might actually like the things the first group hates. Which do you care more about if you're a producer or an exec?

Everyone *except* us hardcore fans are actually acting rationally. And in the big picture of MLB, we don't count *at all*. Not a single decision in the last 65 years has been designed to make baseball better for the people who really love baseball.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Is there anything the Nats should be doing this offseason to prepare for next year? I can't imagine too many FA signings that would be worthwhile...

Joe Sheehan: Send everyone in the system to as many offseason leagues as possible, because injuries and poor performances killed their prospects, as a group, this year. I don't think it's a good system at all, but at least give everyone more reps, and your staff more evaluation time.

I wouldn't spend much money. Maybe a low-end innings guy, because the rotation could use the help. Maybe a lefty bat for first base, something in the Blalock class.

Kyle (Portland, Oregon): Joe, who do you see winning tonight?

Joe Sheehan: Articles of clothing.

Jordan (LA): seems like a lot of analysts have come around on the Giants longterm outlook after this season... not following them closely what are the reasons this doomed franchise now seems to have some legit upside?

Joe Sheehan: The potential for a ridiculous homegrown rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Alderson, Sanchez and Sosa in about 18 months. The franchise isn't much, but it has shown the ability to draft, and even develop, pitchers. That group is why you hear a lot of Matt Cain trade rumors.

Joe (Washington, DC): Hi Joe. Is your aversion to C.C. from a Yankee perspective a) health concerns, b) need or c) both?

Joe Sheehan: C. I don't like him in the medium- or long-term because of his body. I think even if his arm holds out, the rest of him will break down. There are actually a LOT of pitchers coming onto either the trade or FA markets behind Sabathia who are a lot more attractive to me, and I'd rather wait on them, save the money for Felix Hernandez or John Lackey or someone like that.

Jon (SF): Would you trade Cain? What team that is loaded with hitters but short on pitchers is a good fit?

Joe Sheehan: The Brewers, and I think Cain-for-Fielder was floated in a Buster Olney column a week ago. The Rangers have a lot of hitters and a need for pitching.

thomas (harrisburg): Can the tribe trade Kelly Shoppach for Ryan Howard? Does that deal make sense for both squads... And: If you're Towers do you take Cano and Hughes for Jake Peavy?

Joe Sheehan: Bret? Is that you?

Neither of these trades make sense. I'm as down on Ryan Howard as anyone, but I'm not dealing him for a marginal starting catcher coming off of a career half-season. Good god.

And no, I don't trade one of the best SPs in baseball for a slow 2B who never walks and doesn't play defense but who costs a lot of money. That trade offer might even get you laughed off of WFAN.

tommy (brooklyn): Wouldn't you deal Cain for Prince in a heartbeat, given what you said about Giants pitching? Here you have a what, 24-year-old who has slugged 50 homers in a season? That's worth Cain for sure, right?

Joe Sheehan: A bad-body 24-year-old who's had one good year and would be moving to a disastrous park. No, I don't do that if I'm the Giants, especially given I have Sandoval up and Villalona on the way. If they trade a starter, it should be for a comparable CF/RF. The Alex Rios deal rumored last year is the right type, albeit the wrong guy. You want to get...Adam Jones, or Matt Kemp, or Lastings Milledge...someone who will be your best player in two years.

Steve (Clearwater, FL): "Not a single decision in the last 65 years has been designed to make baseball better for the people who really love baseball." How about the establishment of MLBAM, with mlb.tv, pitchfx, etc.? The casual fan cares nothing about most of their products.

Joe Sheehan: I stand corrected. MLBAM is probably the best thing to happen to baseball fans since...what, cable? Integration?

rinewman1 (Boston): Hi Joe, I noticed your earlier reference to a BP alumns chats. Do you read other chatters? If so who?

Joe Sheehan: Keith Law and Rob Neyer, religiously. Ours here at BP, especially Christina. Joe Lunardi.

Brian (brooklyn): Given what the difference in salary will be, would you rather sign Manny Ramirez of Pat Burrell (if you were the Mets)?

Joe Sheehan: Probably Ramirez. It's close. I think I'd spend the marginal dollars for the extra 40 points of BA and the other stuff that comes with it, and the likelihood of a slower downslope.

Red (Mobile, AL): Did the Padres do anything "wrong" en route to this 99-loss season or is this actually an Oakland-like case of a pretty savvy organization just running out of chips and the timing not being right to compete. That said do you like the Padres going into the next 5 years, can they recover?

Joe Sheehan: They wasted time with Jim Edmonds, but really, nothing is fundamentally wrong with the organization right now. They are going to feel the effects of some bad drafts for a while--they had a three - or four-year stretch of nothing, so they can't really reload at the moment. 2009 won't be a success, but they should be better after that. Great, great front office.

Roger (Switzerland): What's the earliest season for which we have comprehensive (i.e., every team, every game) pitch-count data?

Joe Sheehan: Switzerland? Really. That's awesome if true. BP's worldwide.

1999, per Bil Burke, BP's database deity.

Reggie (New York): You are a cutthroat GM taking over the Yankees. What would be the best baseball decision re: Derek Jeter over the next 4 seasons? As in, where would you play him?

Joe Sheehan: Shortstop. The bat won't play anywhere but SS or 2B, and unless I have a very good shortstop ready to play, there's no point moving him.

He should have become a CF in 2004. He didn't, and that ship has sailed.

Ron Santo (Veterans Committee): Hey Joe . . . What made everyone think that the Cubs were so good? They didn't have a single guy in their line-up who is in the top five in the majors at his position, and their best two starters are brittle as paper. I know that the play-offs are a crapshoot, so their three and out is not really evidence, but I just don't see what everyone thought was so good.

Joe Sheehan: The 2008 Cubs look a little like the 2000-2003 Braves, teams that were really good in part because they were deep, solid from 1-25. That's the Cubs this year. In a short series, you play 1-15, and that closes the gap between them and other teams.

The Cubs *are* very good, and their 1-15 is very good. They had the best run differential in the league. They had no big weaknesses. Teams have three-game losing streaks, and we need to not go crazy over them.

Pete (Boston): Manny: first ballot hall of famer or UNANIMOUS first ballot hall of famer? Also, do you like Bill Simmons?

Joe Sheehan: No way, no how, will it be unanimous. Too many moralists married to the storylines. He should be first-ballot--my god, how many postseason records will he eventually hold?--but I really can't predict what the voting pool will so. It seems to be about everything and anything but how good you *really* were as a baseball player. C.f., Jim Rice.

ekanenh (Capitol City): Billy beane once said (or it was attributed to him) that his "s--t doesnt work in the playoffs. Is there a corollary for the Scioscia / Hatcher offensive brand. (no power + no patience + reckless baserunning)

Joe Sheehan: Look, the best people--Nate Silver, Dayn Perry--were able to find is that some very limited factors improve a team's chance of postseason success. Those factors: strikeout pitching, a strong closer, a good defense help, but aren't perfect. After all, the Cubs had the "Secret Sauce" recipe this year, and proceeded to spill the ingredients all over themselves for three days before being asked to leave the kitchen.

The Angels thing has been overstated for years, based largely on two series in which they exploited terrible Yankee defense and a 2002 in which they slugged .550 or so in the postseason, but all anyone talked about was Angelball.

Sorry for the delay.

Brian (brooklyn): Is Joe Torre a good manager? It seems like he is getting way too much credit for the Dodgers when their success is really tied to The Great One coming onboard

Joe Sheehan: Yes, he's a good manager. Yes, he's getting way too much credit for managing an 87-win team to 84 wins. And I again point out that no one was beatifying Torre when the Dodgers were completing an eight-game losing streak, including a sweep at the hands of the Nationals.

Nick (Chicago): Okay, to take Pete from Boston's question to the next level... will we ever have a unanimous first ballot hall of famer? I know there are some who refuse to vote for anyone from the steroid era... but that era has passed. So perhaps Evan Longoria? Madison Baumgarner?

Joe Sheehan: There are actually some who refuse to vote for any player who went on strike, so you need someone who's career started in 1995 or later. I don't think anyone has said they wouldn't vote for anyone from the steroid era, and in fact, I've heard more the opposite--we can't know who did what, so it's unfair to punish only a few.

Jeter is the obvious choice. Greg Maddux before him, I guess, will be a test.

Tim (DC): Joe, do the Rangers make a move with one of their catchers this off-season? If they wanted someone like Cain, what type of package? Laird + ???

Joe Sheehan: You can't start with Laird. You'd have to start with Ramirez or Salty, in that order, and I don't know if Salty has a ton of trade value at the moment given the Qs about his ability to catch.

The Rangers have something of a Yankees problem this winter, in that a team wanting to trade with them is going to want their best prospects, and those best prospects are fantastic. A team with less to offer can probably make a better deal because their "best prospects" aren't quite as good. I would compare this to the rumored deals the Yankees and Red Sox had last winter for Johan Santana, versus the package he was eventually dealt for. The Dodgers have gone through this to some extent as well.

In any case, it's a little more complicated for the Rangers.

Trey (Carslbad): Seems like no one's talking about Liriano anymore, but he had a good season and the trajectory of TJ-recovery seems to favor him getting even better. Should Liriano be considered one of the top commodities in baseball today?

Joe Sheehan: The biggest problem is service time. He's arb-eligible already, so he'll start getting expensive, and it won't be long before he's closing in on becoming an FA.

akachazz (DC): What's been your opinion of the strike zone this postseason? Last night's game seemed super-high, even during the times when it was consistent.

Joe Sheehan: Game Two of the Sox/Rays series was bad, and then the two AL games yesterday brought back the random strike zone to some extent. In general, I think we've seen big strike zones to the high and wide edges, with some egregiously bad calls (Ellsbury, IIRC, was called out on a pitch in extra innings last night that nearly hit me).

The use of PitchTrax is a joke. How often are called strikes shown to be balls? 80% of the time? 90%? You could base a drinking game on this.

Tim (Sonoma, CA): Would a Phil Hughes for Nate McClouth challenge trade much like the Hamilton/Volquez trade be a worthwhile idea or would prospects have to be involved?

Joe Sheehan: That...would not be a good idea for the Yankees. McLouth is a career fourth outfielder who had a big half. He's a decent third OF, can probably play center for two more years. No way you trade Hughes for that.

CranApple (Chicago): I don't think Liriano is eligible for arbitration yet. Are you sure about that?

Joe Sheehan: Now, I'm not. 2.031 coming in, approximately 75-85 days in the majors this year. I think he will miss the super-two cutoff. Good job, Bill Smith. Way to save that money. You didn't need an extra win at any point, did you?

Richie (Washington): Giving statheads a bad name on Manny "not quitting" because he continued to hit well. You can loaf on the basepaths, loaf in the field, you can QUIT!, while still continuing to try at the plate.

Joe Sheehan: If I have a team that hits 360/440/560 or whatever the heck Manny hit in June and July, they can "loaf on the basepaths, loaf in the field" all they want. I'll clinch by September 15.

There's more to life than what spoon-fed sportswriters who put access before everything else tell you.

Robert (DC): What will the clowns say when Rickey Henderson isn't voted in unanimously? He might be one of the 25 best EVER.

Joe Sheehan: They'll cite the holdout, the "selfishness," the two strikes. They'll cite the speech, pulling a single quote out of context. Probably some reference to his attitude. No mention of his love for baseball. None.
Rickey Henderson is right there with Stan Musial among the most underrated players in baseball history.

Brian (brooklyn): Which broadcasting teams are your favorite to listen to?

Joe Sheehan: Vin Scully. The Mets' trio. Len Kasper and, less so, Bob Brenly.

Tim (DC): Anymore playoff round tables coming up?

Joe Sheehan: Probably not until the LCSs start, but check the front page for updates. We won't keep them a secret. We also probably won't ever try to do a tripleheader again, however.

Brian (brooklyn): How do you think the current state of the US economy will impact the deals taht free agents get this offseason?

Joe Sheehan: It may provide cover for lowball offers, as well as the opportunity for teams to stay out of the market if they want. The industry is awash in money, so unless the downturn actually goes into mid-2009, baseball should be all right.

What I hope we don't see is teams using the economy as some kind of negotiating point, where they compare Joe Public's concerns to make Bob Ballplayer look like a bad guy for not accepting their offer. That would be a shame, and completely par for the course.

Brian (brooklyn): What contract would you offer Ben Sheets? Would he even be worth a short big money deal like Jason Schimdt got or is his health that risky?

Joe Sheehan: Do we even know if he can pitch next year? I would make him a Lieber/Carpenter offer, but certainly nothing more than that. He's out of the "FA pitcher" bin occupied by Dempster, Perez, et al.

drmboat (Bay Area, CA): Joe- I would suggest you stop calling people fourth outfielders unless you are doing this in a reverse psychology mode in order to acquire them the next year. Just about every guy you have termed a "fourth outfielder" becomes a very good player the next year (Byrnes, Victorino, Nady). They may not have great careers but a 3-year streach of above average goodness still counts for something. I am picking McLouth for my team next year based on your predictive abilities...

Joe Sheehan: Exactly one of your examples has ever been more than a fourth outfielder for more than 2/3 of a season, Victorino. Byrnes isn't very good, nor is Nady. Just because you play a lot for bad teams, or because you're employed by silly people, or you have crazy hair, doesn't make you more than what you are.

Short break, folks. Back in 15. Happy to keep going after that.

CharlieAdams (New York): Does Choo need a right-handed caddie? Does Franklin Guttierez'z extreme splits against LH pitching combined with well above-average defense make him a useful counterpart for Choo and the rest of the Tribe OF?

Joe Sheehan: I would give Choo the full-time job in April and one last shot to be an everyday player. I think there's a good chance he'll have to be platooned, but April and May are a good time to burn some outs in finding out for sure.

Brian (brooklyn): Why do some many members of the baseball "stat" communtiy also follow college basketball religiously? I am a fan of both but is there something in the DNA of someone who writes about baseball and stats that drives them to follow college hoops more than say the NFL?

Joe Sheehan: College basketball is just a great game, and people in the baseball "stat" community are smarter than most and recognize that fact.

In all seriousness, I have no idea. And if you think about it, there are people who read BP and Football Outsiders, or 82games.com, or what have you. I'm thrilled to work with all our staff at Basketball Prospectus, and I love that when I want info on my second-favorite sport--college hoops--I can get analysis from Ken Pomeroy and John Gasaway, as well as Joe Lunardi and Andy Glockner in other places.

I will also say this: Reading Kevin Pelton has made me more of an NBA fan.

Gray (Chicago): The Cubs are the odds on, clear favorite to win the NL Central in 2009...correct?

Joe Sheehan: I think it depends on what direction the Brewers and Cardinals take. I could see either of those teams making enough smart decisions this winter to turn the Central into a fight. And you know, it's not out of the question that the Cubs make some mistakes. Too early to say.

Jon (SF): Why do you think more teams don't go with strict planned platoons?

Joe Sheehan: They do. It's just that they do it with pitchers now instead of hitters. With only 13 hitting spots on most rosters, you can have at most one platoon, and maybe an additional one at catcher, before you run out of space.

MarinerFan (Milwaukee): What do you think of Seattle's interest in moving Jose Lopez to 1B?

Joe Sheehan: I think it's consistent with the caliber of thought we've seen from the Mariners over the past two years.

pete (texas): where do you see huston street this offseason? indians, detroit, mets?

Joe Sheehan: He's not a good fit for the Mets or Indians, who have Joe Smith and Jensen Lewis who do the exact same thing. The Tigers are an interesting spot, actually--they need *reliable* relievers, and Street is that.

Jon (LA): Facing the Phils, how ridiculous would it be for Torre to start Maddux over Kershaw in a game four? Kershaw pretty much eliminates Howard's effectiveness and mitigates Utley's, right? And Maddux's fastball has to look like BP to them at this point.

Joe Sheehan: Very, and it's just one reason I'm waiting before evaluating that series. I have no confidence that Torre will start guy-with-dozen-career-starts over guy-with-two-dozen-playoff-starts. Even though he absolutely should.

Rick (Ontario): Man, so is Sabean still dangling Lincecum for Rios?

Joe Sheehan: It was Cain, and as far as I know, no.

Dave (NYC): If you head to the AFL, could you send a report our way on how the Daniel Murphy at 2b Experiment is going?

Joe Sheehan: I will be out there after the World Series. You can go, too:


lrgreen (NYC): Please give me some hope regarding the Reds... Will they invest some of the Dunn/Griffey money in the market? Will they be a player in the off-season?

Joe Sheehan: I supposed that's another factor in the NL Central. I don't think the Reds are that far from being a factor, although the things they need--up the middle players--may be harder to come by in the market. They're a team that could accidentally find a bullpen in March and win 86 games.

Mike (LA): You're the GM of the Dodgers. Do you sign Manny to a ridiculous contract or use that money to try and bring back both Furcal and Lowe?

Joe Sheehan: Is that necessarily an "or." I think I'd sign Lowe and give the SS job to Hu. Ramirez...man, I just don't know. If you sign him, you literally have $25 million worth of crappy outfielders on the bench next year. Can any team do that?

Robert (LA): Please tell me that no team will offer Garret Anderson a full time job next season. He is platoon at best. Might not even be good enough as a right handed platoon.

Joe Sheehan: He's never had big platoon splits, and in fact, has often been backwards. I wouldn't mind him as a PH/extra OF, probably in the NL, but there's no way I give him even 300 PA. He actually has a PH skill set.

Frank (Seattle): Do you have a sense of who will be the top 5 prospects heading into next year? Some combination of Snider, Bumgarner, Heyward, Price, Wieters? Moustakos? Cahill? Feliz? I know this is nominall Kevin's territory but what's your opinion?

Joe Sheehan: Wieters is my clear #1, and Price and Feliz are 1 and 1A for pitchers. Of guys you didn't mention, I'll say I love Carlos Santana and Dexter Fowler.

Robert (DC): When will Bowden be fired? Why hasn't it happened already?

Joe Sheehan: Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes. That's a better year than a whole lot of people had.

Lightning round.

Robert (NYC): What would you do with 2b if you were Omar? Castillo is a sunk cost.

Joe Sheehan: I've been asked by the readers to scout David Murphy. I think you have to see how that transition goes before making Castillo go away. Problem with Castillo is that he can't even fake shortstop, so if he's not your everyday 2B, he's a waste of a roster spot.

Victor (Philly): Is Orlando Hudson a game-changer for any team? Mets (eating Castillo's deal)? Indians (shifting the IF to the left)? Yankees (trading Cano)? Marlins?

Joe Sheehan: No. He's a good player, but not an impact player, even with his glove. I suppose the Marlins would get the most bounce, with his OBP, switch-hitting, speed and defense, all things they lack.

Rob (Brighton): Who wins the AL Central next year? The NL Central?

Joe Sheehan: Twins. Cardinals.

Trevor (Anaheim): So then if Carlos Santana is *that* good, as in a potential top-10 prospect, did the Tribe not completely fleece the Dodgers in the Santana/Meloan for Blake deal? That seemed to go pretty under the radar.

Joe Sheehan: Really? I loved it for them at the time, just a fantastic trade. Nothing for a lot of something.

Mark (Portland): That may be $25mil worth of crappy OF's, but wouldn't them being on the bench be better than actually playing the crappy OF's? That has to be a sunk cost at this point, no?

Joe Sheehan: Yeah, but it's not my money. I don't know if McCourt and Colletti would do that. I just don't.

My bigger fear is that they sign Ramirez and trade one of Kemp or Ethier to make room for Pierre.

Philip (Madison): Is trading Hardy and committing to Escobar the right move for the Crew? Or a year too early?

Joe Sheehan: I'm higher on Escobar than many, and the Brewers are lousy with guys like Hardy--RH, power, so-so OBP--so I'd make a deal soon.

Edward E. Nigma (Gotham): Phil Hughes or Yovani Gallardo?

Joe Sheehan: Hughes.

Mike K (Athens, GA): Mention was made of the TBS broadcast, but how about the announcers? I've been yelling at the TV approximately 500% less than when Joe Morgan or any FOX announcer is on. Harold Reynolds focuses on the running game too much but he also has good points to make. Your thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: I like Reynolds a bunch. Not 100% of the time--he's had some howlers--but he's very good when focusing on game action. It's when they do analysis of players or teams or the game that they can be frustrating. But mechanics? Give me Reynolds and Hershiser and that's a pretty good start.

CharlieAdams (New York): 2009: LaPorta or Garko?

Joe Sheehan: LaPorta.

Joe Sheehan: I have to wrap this up, in all honesty, because my upstairs neighbor is, I think, playing a video game with an underlying bassline that's giving me a massive headache. We'll have some team chats later this week, and I'll be back next week for more.

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