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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday November 07, 2008 1:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.


The author of Prospectus Today checks in to take your questions after taking in some Arizona Fall League action.

Joe Sheehan: Yes, I'm still alive.

jtrichey (Indianapolis): Thanks for the chat Joe. I haven't seen any mention on the site of Aramis Ramirez winning the NL Hank Aaron award. Maybe it deserves no mention, but seeing that it was a fan vote, it can't help the movement to add more voters to the other awards voting pools.

Joe Sheehan: I snuck a mention into one of the extra bits I did for SI.com during the Series. Basically, if the award for the best/most productive/whatever hitter in the league lands on the 19th-best hitter in the league, it ends up looking like a joke. The fans had *a* vote, but I believe their vote was one of many. In any case, you don't build credibility by handing out an award this badly.

EnderCN (Milwaukee): Why is everyone ready to give up on Weeks at 2B when he finally showed improvement? Every defensive metric I can find shows him as roughly average last year. I watched the majority of the Brewer games and in the first half I would have said he was at least average defensively, he did slip a bit in the second half though. If Weeks can't handle 2B then there are at least 7 or 8 other full time 2B that should be moved as well. Durham was MUCH worse out there than Weeks, if the ball wasn't hit right to Durham he didn't get to it.

Joe Sheehan: Because his offense isn't developing, and there's a notion--one I can get behind--that he's stagnating as a player in part because of his inability to master second base. He seems to have the tools to play center field, the Brewers could use a CF*, and maybe the move would get his bat started again. The parallels to B.J. Upton are pretty clear.

*The Brewers exercised Mike Cameron's option. I still think you could run Weeks out to center and look for a trade with Cameron or Hart.

Frank (Vegas): Joe, your opinion on the Gold Glove awards, specifically wrt Nate McLouth. Stat sites rate his defense relatively low, but mgrs and coaches (who should know if a player is good defensively by sheer live-baseball knowledge) vote him a gold glove. Who is correct?

Joe Sheehan: If managers and coaches were *solely* focused, throughout the year, on evaluating the defensive ability (or performance, pick one) of the players they're watching, I might sign on to the idea that they "should know if a player is good defensively by sheer live-baseball knowledge." As it is, managers and coaches are a hell of a lot more concerned with their own charges, and the dozens of things they're doing to win baseball games, to pay much attention. The GG awards end up being about who you saw make edge-of-range plays against you, or who you voted for last year, or who Bob's voting for. Poor execution of a decent idea.

I might cut McLouth a little bit of slack in the metrics for the idea that he played behind a staff that may have given up more rockets than others, but there's no way he's an above-average center fielder, much less a great one. He won the GG with his bat, his ASG plays and some memorable dives.

Daniel Murphy (AZ): So I can't play 2B can I?

Joe Sheehan: Did not see you--I cut the trip short for a few reasons. Consensus is "no."

Corey (Baltimore): Joe, Were you able to catch Matt Wieters in action in Arizona? What were your thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: He looked like he didn't belong there. Some guys just look better than the league--Mark Teixeira was like that in my first year down there, 2002--and that's the impression he gave. I saw him twice, and the only thing I didn't see him display was speed.

I'll write up a bunch of guys for Sunday's PT, and mention this again, but let me say it here: I Am Not A Scout. Take everything I say with many grains of salt.

jdelavalle ((Pembroke Pines, FL)): Joe, This is off topic, but please... If you talk to Nate Silver please congratulate him for me. He predicted the popular vote for the presidential election and was wrong by just 0.1% Further proof of the brilliant minds that write for BP.

Joe Sheehan: Just braggin'. fivethirtyeight.com.

Steve (McQueens): If the Padres trade Peavy wouldn't it make sense to trade Adrian Gonzalez as well? What do you think they're likely to get for either or both of them?

Joe Sheehan: Yes, especially since Kyle Blanks is coming up hard on Gonzalez's flank. He's not quite as good as Gonzalez, but the raw power will play, even in that park. You have to trade Peavy first; once you do that, then it's clearly a rebuild.

For Peavy, I've said three guys: one top 25, one top 50, one top 100, at least two of whom can be on the field in August. For Gonzalez, less than that; the Padres could deal him and focus on some low-minors up-the-middle guys, as they've struggled mightily to fill those spots.

batpig (San Diego): Joe - which of the potential Peavy packages being tossed around do you like the best? An Escobar/Schaffer type deal from the braves (maybe with Hanson), a Kemp/Dejesus/Elbert type deal from the Dodgers, or a Hughes/Kennedy/Jackson type from the Yanks? Or something else?

Joe Sheehan: Looking at those, I'm reminded of the Santana packages that were bandied about a year ago, and how they paled compared to the deal that was made. I think any or all of those would look great to the Padres, but I suspect all are a bit high compared to what will end up happening.

I consider the Braves to be the favorites, but given that Peavy can effectively choose his own location, it's hard to say where this will end up.

smitty25039 (Charleston): The Reds need a young shortstop, what you do think it would take to get Erick Aybar from the Angels?

Joe Sheehan: I don't think much of Aybar. I'd rather see them play Keppinger for a year and see if Valaika can hold on as a shortstop. The consensus is that he can't, but look around the majors and consider the players holding down everyday jobs. I think he'd be average in that pool.

joe (NJ): Is Swisher a good fit for the Yankees? who would go in center, him or damon? Is gardner/melky, humberto sanchez, mark melancon/david robertson at all reasonable?

Joe Sheehan: The only prospect in that group is Melancon. Well, Sanchez if he's healthy. Swisher is tough to deal for because you want to trade for a .219 hitter, but I'm certain Kenny Williams knows that he's better than that. How you bridge that gap...well, I don't think you do.

The Yankees have really picked the wrong time to be without a center fielder. The FA market is empty, the trade market is shallow and expensive.

Parker (Chicago): The Cubs are rumored to be the front runners for Peavy. You mentioned it should take 3 top 100 prospects to get him, do the Cubs even have one outside of Vitters? I don't see how they take Felix Pie, Sean Marshall and Ronny Cedeno for Peavy, do you?

Joe Sheehan: No. The Cubs would have to include Vitters. Would Vitters, Pie and an arm do it? The Padres really need a center fielder. Would the Cubs even trade Vitters?

Auggie (Anaheim): Joe, which pitcher impressed you the most in Arizona?

Joe Sheehan: Tommy Hanson. No one else came close. Seeing him first ruined me.

Yatchisin (Santa Barbara): If you were Omar Minaya, what would you do this off-season? Or better question--what would you do if you were you and had Omar's job? What the real Minaya will do is probably Castillo-grade crazy...

Joe Sheehan: Avoid a massive commitment to any one reliever, and rebuild my bullpen by having my scouts and stat guys identify second- and third-tier FAs, minor-league FAs, Rule 5 guys and trade targets who can go 4-6 outs, face lefties and righties and miss bats.

I may be the only guy saying "play Castillo," but there's not much else out there. At least start the year with him.

Find a corner outfielder who can play 150 games. Re-sign Alou for the other 12. Kinda like Abreu here.

Theo ((Boston)): Does a Mike Lowell for Javier Vazquez swap makes sense? They have similiar contracts (2 years, 23-25 million left), the White Sox could use a 3B while the Red Sox get a 5th starter and can go after Teixiera like they want to.

Joe Sheehan: I think it makes sense for you. I think it's a ridiculous idea for the White Sox. Vazquez isn't a "fifth starter," he's a very reliable #3, and I don't know what you can expect from Mike Lowell over the next two seasons. Josh Fields isn't very good, but is there that much difference between him and Lowell that you'd trade Vazquez to get it?

DaveKavanagh (Dublin, Ireland): Thanks for the chat, Joe. Your CPA (comments per article) seems to be at the upper end for BP writers---any thoughts on why?

Joe Sheehan: I say really stupid things that warrant public admonishment.

Joe (Washington, DC): Hi Joe. If the Yanks sign Teixera, Sabathia and some other pitcher (either Burnett or Lowe), do you think this is now a playoff team? Is that the approach you'd take or would you try something different (and maybe try to fix their defensive efficiency)?

Joe Sheehan: Upgrading from Giambi to Teixeira would be a big defensive upgrade, which is one reason I advocate that signing ahead of Sabathia. Even with those moves, there's a pretty weak outfield and a logjam at LF/DH pending Posada's ability to catch. I also prefer Lowe to just about anyone else in this pool, but I'm notoriously conservative about superlong contracts for pitchers. I'd rather have Lowe for four years than Sabathia for seven.

metal1341 (STL): I'm not a huge believer in Ryan Ludwick having a repeat performance, but does it make much sense do you think to swap him for Holliday, outfielder for outfielder?

Joe Sheehan: That's a silly trade. Ludwick is a year older than Holliday. The Rockies aren't going to anything like that.

Henry (Princeton): Hey Joe, Keith Law in his chat yesterday declared Chase Utley to be the best player in baseball, better than Pujols. Considering Pujols out-VORPed Utley 96-62 this year and is a GG defender at first (screw what the vote says) is it safe to say that KLaw is off his rocker on this one?

Joe Sheehan: You also have to screw what the vote says on Utley, who according to at least one metric (+/-, by BIS), was the best defensive player in baseball this year. I disagree with Keith's conclusion, but you know, I think he's a lot closer to the truth than the mainstream opinion of Utley, which wouldn't have him anywhere near the discussion.

Reed (Des Moines): Are the jobs at the winter meetings in Las Vegas minor league only, or are there some MLB jobs? Do regular workers move up from the minors?

Joe Sheehan: I don't think MLB teams do any hiring at the job fair, and while you can be the guy handing out resumes to GMs on the lobby floor, know that you don't get a job that way. Or respect. Take internships, get a minor-league job, work your way up. The industry hires from within.

rogero (philly): You say no other pitcher in Ariz. came close to Hanson. Did you see Scherzer or Buccholz?

Joe Sheehan: Scherzer was gone, and I passed on Buchholz to see Medlen Monday. Second-best pitcher I saw...hmmm...good question.

Playwright22 (Baltimore): Andy MacPhail has been quoted as saying not to get"our expectations" too high in terms of the player to be named later in the Chad Bradford trade. Most of us in Baltimore are reading that as the guy will get will never see the light of day in the Majors. There's some saved salary here. But is it really worthwhile to save a couple million dollars at the cost of a very useful reliever, one who added a lot, in fact, to Tampa Bay's pennant drive?

Joe Sheehan: Absolutely. Bradford might be worth a win or two. Might. That doesn't matter. If you pick the right guy, maybe you get four or five wins over a period of years from a reliever, a bench guy, a spot starter. You always cash in the veteran chips when you're in the Orioles' shoes, even if you're getting back the 15th-best guy in another organization.

The extreme application of this is the Twins a couple years back, when they got back two zeroes for Luis Castillo.

Tony28 (San Fran): Your choice for AL/NL MVP and AL/NL Cy Young award winners?

Joe Sheehan: On the site somewhere...Lee and Pujols, Lee and Santana. Any of three or four guys have cases in the AL, and if you went with Lincecum ahead of Santana, I wouldn't argue. The actual results in all cases will be fascinating. Weird year.

laynef (Texas): Should the Dodgers re-sign Manny Ramirez?

Joe Sheehan: If they can get him to sign a two-year deal? Sure. Even 3/75 works for me. I don't know what you do with $27 million of fourth outfielder next year, but deal with the problem later. (If signing Ramirez is going to lead to a Kemp or Ethier trade, however, do NOT sign him. The combination of moves would be a net negative.)

Gray (Chicago): Aren't the Dodgers better off saving money and letting James McDonald round out their rotation?

Joe Sheehan: Kuroda/Billingsley/Kershaw/McDonald...I think there's definitely room for a signing. Doesn't need to be a high-upside guy so much as someone who will definitely make 32 starts.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): What should Zduriencik's first order of business be in Seattle? Having Carlos Silva deported?

Joe Sheehan: I wonder if they might be a team that gets down way low on their 40-man heading into the meetings, creating opportunities to pick up Rule 5 guys or offer major-league contracts to high-value minor-league FAs. I perceive a lot of dead weight on the current 40, and if Silva isn't necessarily going anywhere, surely they can slough off some of the lesser lights.

Hank (Elwood, IL): Do you think scouts and analysts would benefit from baseball game film similar to the "all-22" coaches' tape in football? With defense in the news this week I wonder if that would help in this regard.

Joe Sheehan: I'm almost certainly going to screw this up, but here goes...I want to say I once heard Gary Huckabay talk about film that isolated the player, and you either heard or saw an indication of contact, which enabled you to judge his reaction time. I'd love to see that. The thing that's almost impossible to judge is first step, and first step means so much on defense.

Then the question becomes: can you measure this?

Kyle (LA): Come on, ruffle some feathers, what is the worst MLB city to visit?

Joe Sheehan: I didn't stay in the nicest area of St. Petersburg two weeks ago. Almost any city is nice if you stay in a four-star hotel.

One of the things you learn in covering something like the World Series is just how little time the press has to appreciate a city. These guys are at the park 4-6 hours before the game, and 2-5 hours after. It's often hotel/park/hotel/park, and while it's a bit different during the season, it doesn't leave a ton of time for tourism.

There's a pretty good book--or maybe just a highly-readable blog--in a beat writer's experience with everything other than the actual work. Not that I have anyone in particular in mind to write it, but a familiarity with ACC football, Cuban food and beard trimming techniques would all come in handy.

Evan (Vancouver, BC): Is there a reasonable argument for ranking pitchers in different orders between the MVP and CY ballots? Say, giving the MVP to Lee but the CY to Halladay?

Joe Sheehan: I don't see one. I used to parse "Valuable," too, but I don't any longer. Value is marginal wins produced, with *some* consideration on the edges given to the value of those wins to a race.

SamHughes (Philly): After (presumably) seeing Jason Donald in the AFL, any thoughts on his future in Philly, especially at 3B?

Joe Sheehan: He yanked a ball out to left Monday, which shocked the heck out of me. I didn't think he had that kind of power. He probably doesn't--he hit the homer off of Kyle Ginley and his 88-mph heater. Donald's bat will only play up the middle, which means he's a trade chit for the Phillies. Given the state of shortstop around the league, it's a good chit to have.

Daniel Murphy (AZ): So I can't play 2B, does that make me a 4th outfielder?

Joe Sheehan: I think you need to play more than that. The problem is figuring out the Mets' outfield, with Beltran and a series of question marks.

See, I could get imaginative here, and play Murphy at 2B behind Santana and Perez (if he comes back), while using Castillo behind Pelfrey and Maine. Basically, platoon the 2Bs based on the likelihood of 2B defense being an issue in the game. Think Kevin Mitchell and Sid Fernandez.

Rob (Brighton): You're too hard on yourself, Joe. You simply inspire heated discussion--not a bad thing. And I think most of your readers admire your flair for incindiary rhetoric. How do you feel about Hughes and Kennedy heading into the year?

Joe Sheehan: I would love to see the BP comments pages end up like r.s.b was a decade ago, just great spots for baseball discussion. We'll see what happens.

I'm bullish on Hughes--I think I underestimate the difficulty of becoming a major-league pitcher, and tend to dismiss guys who don't hit the ground running. 190 IP, 3.80-4.20 RA seems likely. Kennedy...just make 30 starts and let them score for you. He's a back-rotation guy, but is there that much difference between him and, say, Andy Sonnanstine?

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): How effective would Lowe be pitching in front of the Yankees ineffective defense?

Joe Sheehan: About as effective as he was pitching in front of the Dodgers' ineffective defense. That was a *terrible* infield this year. DeWitt/Berroa/Kent? Blake/Nomar/DeWitt? Blech.

Put Lowe on the mound in Philly and he might win the 2009 NL Cy Young Award, go 22-5, 2.88 or something.

Andy (Kansas City): Lots of rumors floating around centering on a Ryan Ludwick or Matt Holiday or Kelly Johnson trade. Thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: I think if you can get Kelly Johnson for Ryan Ludwick, you do it. He's a wildly underrated player, and the Cardinals desperately need to lengthen their lineup. They do that by adding a 2B who can hit.

Shant3 (NYC): How serious do you think the Red Sox are about Tex? And how do they sort the resulting logjam of corner IF and OF? Also, what do you do about the C spot, assuming Tek wants too much?

Joe Sheehan: Well, you can't sign Teixeira unless you plan to punt Lowell or trade Youkilis. The former has minimal trade value, and the latter...that might not be a bad idea. Youkilis just had his peak season, which is a good time to move a guy. Can Youkilis bring back a catcher? Eyeballing the market, I doubt it, but he can bring back prospects to add depth to the system, which you can deal for catching.

With all that said, I don't think the Sox are serious about Teixeira.

Steve (NY): Hey Joe, I love your work, but throw away comments like this: "Because his offense isn't developing, and there's a notion--one I can get behind--that he's stagnating as a player in part because of his inability to master second base" cause me to scratch my head. What would lead you to believe that Weeks' inability to defend has a negative effect on his hitting, or that switching to an arguably harder position would increase his offensive production? Is there any evidence that supports players switching positions and then producing more at the plate?

Joe Sheehan: No studies. Scads of ancedotal evidence. B.J. Upton, Craig Biggio come immediately to mind. Paul Molitor, maybe. We know that Weeks hasn't hit as expected. We know that he's struggled to master second base. We know that he has tools that might translate to center field. There's risk, sure, but there's upside as well. I'd rather take a shot with the position change.

jimbeau (Left Coast): Hey, Joe! Did you see Hodges in AZ? Is his D really that bad? Worse than Braun? And who goes where eventually for the Tribe: LaPorta, Hodges, Mills, Weglarz?

Joe Sheehan: Oh, god, yes. There was a lot of bad defense on display out there, and Hodges showed no range the night I saw him at third. The Indians are going to have to make some deals, because all of those guys don't fit on the same field.

BRendan (bainbridge): Hey Joe, thanks for the chat. Is nick markakis the best RF in baseball?

Joe Sheehan: Yes.

Joe Sheehan: Thanks, everyone. I'll be back before the winter meetings to take more questions.

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