For his knowledge of the game's history or his engaging wit, time spent talking to Steven Goldman of "You Could Look It Up" is always a pleasure. For all your questions on the game's past and no doubt a few about the present, Steven will be answering as only he can.
Steven Goldman: Good afternoon, fellow seekers of wisdom and truth. Steven Goldman here to take you through what is an overcast Hot Stove Friday here in the central New Jersey portion of the East Coast. Anything is fair game, but with so much activity and chatter in the winter flesh market, I expect we'll have a bucketful of real baseball stuff to talk about. Me, I'm psyched about the Yankees' acquisition of Nick Swisher and a bit nervous that this means they're backing off on Mark Teixeira. Way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! On to your questions, my answers, your responses, and the rest of the vicious cycle.
Eric (Manorville): Should the Yankees trade for Swisher preclude them from going after Texiera? What's your opinion of Swisher?
Steven Goldman: Let's start here, since this is what's on my mind anyway. Well, that and the awful, hideous Wolfman Jack impersonator that is on Sirius/XM's 60s channel just now. I hated that guy before, and now he's on in the daytime. I like Swisher and his power/OBP approach and I think he's going to rebound nicely for the Yankees. As many (including myself over at YESnetwork.com) have pointed out, his BABIP numbers from last year argue loudly for a case of extreme bad luck this year. Now, I love Swisher as a roamer, a guy who can help you at both OF corners, 1B, and CF in a pinch. I DON'T like him as a reason not to get Mark Teixeira. A lot of commentators are assuming that is the case, that Swisher signals the Yankees are out of the Teixeira business. I'm not sure, and Brian Cashman sounded equivocal. Teixeira is a star 1B. Swisher isn't. What Swisher could be a star of is helping the team stay above replacement at four positions depending on injury, or a star of getting rid of Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, or Xavier Nady. Especially Nady. The Yankees are crazy focused on pitching right now, when they need to be looking at offense and defense. Teixeira would help with both... And he'll be valuable for many more years than Sabathia will. I'll stop now.
cmeindl (Madison, wi): Can you please comment on the Kevin Gregg for Jose Ceda trade? As a Cubs fan I hate it.
Steven Goldman: Wow... It seemed like a bit of a risk, in that the Cubs traded a real lively arm for a guy who is basically a generic middle reliever. Now, keep in mind that 90% of trades come to nothing, especially those for pitching prospects, but this one seems to have a higher percentage chance of being one that the Cubs come to regret.
Mike K (Athens, GA): Here, I'll write a plug for you. Marvelous post today on wholesomereading.com, Steven. BP chatters, if you enjoy fine writing and rational thought (and if not, what are you doing here?) go read it while you're waiting for the chat to update.
Steven Goldman: I appreciate that, Mike. I've had a lot of fun doing WR and the reaction has been great. I should say that my good friend and technical adviser Dr. Richard Mohring is doing some technical work for me, so you might experience some downtime when you go over there... It should be back momentarily.
Aaron (YYZ): Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard... any guesses for the next class Blizzard announces?
Steven Goldman: Lawyer? Indian Chief?
Why am I suddenly thinking of Betty Hutton? I'm told WR is back online now, a proposed upgrade having imploded. Wheee! In the meantime, Kevin has just about convinced me to try Fallout 3, but I've got to find time to goof off. I really need a clone.
YankeesFan ((NY,NY)): WHAT A DEAL FOR THE YANKS!!!!
Steven Goldman: A lot like this here in the chat queue. I think that is the one aspect of this that's pretty wonderful regardless of what happens with Teixeira. The Yankees gave up Jeff Marquez, who seems a good bet to never pitch in the big leagues, dealt a pitching prospect for another who looks even better who doesn't have to be put on the 40-man, and Wilson Betemit, who played his way off the team. What's not to love about that?
keef66 (spartanburg, sc): Although Longoria got ROY and Madden MOY, the Rays will have nobody close to the top tier of MVP or Cy Young candidates. Any idea of how rare it is for a pennant winner to fare so badly in these awards?
Steven Goldman: Check out the Yankees all throughout the Joe Torre run. It's pretty common.
Brandon (Charleston): How great would Eric Davis truly have been if not for the injuries?
Steven Goldman: Well, he was pretty great as it was. He probably wouldn't have been too different, with perhaps a couple more years around the level of that 1986-1989 peak. I don't know if it would have been enough to get him into the Hall of Fame, given that his first manager was Pete Rose, who was more focused on getting himself, Tony Perez, and other 40-something pals into the lineup than he was breaking in this kid with the great speed. Davis lost some playing time that way in what would have been the healthy, or healthier, part of his career. As it was, he was one of the most exciting players I ever saw, and my personal inspiration for one of our forthcoming projects.
mattymatty (Philly): Steve, you may have written this elsewhere, but if so I missed it. Who is your AL MVP this past season?
Steven Goldman: Derek Jeter. Just KIDDING! I got on the Pedroia bandwagon a little before the MSM did, but I've been a Pedroia fan from the get-go.
TLivingston (Sonoma, CA): As Marc mentioned in his article today, the A's need to go after Rafael Furcal hard. Let's say he does sign in the 3/30 range or so. The Angels lose both K-Rod and Tex and played way over their heads with run differential as it was. A's have a shot at pushing the Angels next year?
Steven Goldman: Kudos to Marc for another solid effort at BP.com. The thing I like about Marc, besides the nifty beard, which makes him look closer to 14 than his actual age of 13, is his cerebral approach. He's all about the evidence. Things are still too much in flux to make a ruling on the Angels--I don't think Arte Moreno takes his defections lying down and will spend some bucks to keep the team competitive... And little things like run differential have never troubled the Angels. It's easy to forget that the A's WERE pushing the Angels a bit this year before all the trades, but even with Furcal, I don't know if the offense will perk up enough -- there's just so much work to be done there, even with Holliday. I also don't know which Furcal you get. He's not the most consistent offensive player.
Mike (Washington, D.C.): SG - Your top five to play Captain America?
Steven Goldman: Awesome question. Man, I feel like I'm not hooked into the younger male actors (or female, or vegetable for that matter) to give a wise answer, but I will say this -- over the years, from the silver age on, Cap got played in the comics as this immense source of gravitas, the father figure of the Marvel Universe. Which is great, and he was great in that role, but I'm not sure that that works in a movie that is a WW II origin story. As much as Steve Rogers was supposed to be a convinced patriot before volunteering for the Army, he can't instantly become a stand-in for the flag. At least part of the character arc has to be the transformation of someone who gets a lot more than they bargained for by signing up (armor and a shield) and is at least a little bit scared at the outset before growing into his role as living symbol. That transformation would be interesting to see. If you're going to play him as a statue from the outset, the actor won't matter. Does that make sense?
Joe (Mich): Steve,
With Pierre , Andruw Jones, Furcal, Penny, Nomar, Saito, Kent accounting for 75%? of their salary and being benched injured 75% of the year shouldnt Torre have easily defeated Piniella for NL MGR of the year???Thanks
Steven Goldman: Torre certainly had some difficult circumstances to work with, but it seemed to me there was a lot of the usual Torre indecision, including his reactionary desire to get Pierre back in the lineup, again and again, until Kemp and Ethier hit well enough that he would have looked stupid to do so after Manny was acquired. Piniella also had his share of adversity. No Cub except Soto really had a great offensive year, Fukudome proved to be a massive disappointment, Soriano got hurt... I think he deserves some recognition for coping with those things.
jimbeau (Left Coast): Hi Steve. Discovered WR a couple weeks ago - ranks with Posnanski on my daily read list (different styles/equally great). Now..what is going on with these head-scratching trades? Is there some "GM brain fart" hot potato going around that, if you're holding it when the trade goes down you look like a fantasy league newbie? Was there something in the water at the GM meetings? I have never seen this many arguably lop-sided trades in such a short period of time.
Steven Goldman: Jimbeau, thanks for the kind words on Wholesome Reading. Anyone compares you with Posnanski they're paying you a great compliment... I don't really know how to judge Kenny Williams at this point (I assume that was the inspiration). At this point he's proven that he shouldn't be underestimated or dismissed out of hand. At the same time, the Swisher deal seems so imbalanced that it's hard to see the hidden upside. I just caught Ken Rosenthal on Charlie Steiner's show saying that it HAD to be a precursor to a bigger deal, but that doesn't seem possible, because there's nothing to spin off from here. It's possible that Williams was clearing payroll for something better, but that doesn't mean that Swisher had to be given away...
I also wonder what the economy is doing to the owners' tolerance for risk and high payrolls. Remember, these guys are way more invested in equities than most of us are. Maybe we're not going to play any violins for someone who just went from being worth a billion dollars to $500 million, but from his POV, his worth dropped by half, plenty scary even if you're not going to be out on the street.
Mike K (Athens, GA): Take Brandon's question and substitute Bo Jackson for Eric Davis.
Steven Goldman: It's a somewhat harder question because Bo knew a lot of things, but he didn't know the strike zone--though he was clearly getting to know it better at the point that it all fell apart. With a normal career arc, I suspect that he would have suffered a decline in bat speed somewhere that would have really curtailed his KILL THE BALL approach and left him without much to fall back on, but that's just speculation. What I'm trying to say is I don't think it would have been a long career either way, but obviously there would have been around three more years in the 1989-1990 zone. Would have been fun. He was always entertaining, even when striking out.
Kiley (Oakland): Thoughts on the A's deal for Holliday? As an A's fan should we worry about his production now that he's away from Coors?
Steven Goldman: There's a lot of controversy about that, and I guess we won't know until we know. I think it has to drop -- he's going from one extreme to another. The Coliseum likes its pitchers. I suspect he'll still be a pretty good contributor, especially compared to the A's of 2008, but the batting average will top out at .295, not .335. That still might be good enough for the A's to flip him at the deadline if things don't look good for them, and in any case, they didn't give up a great deal to get him.
Aaron (YYZ): Karl Urban for Captain America? or would he make a better Thor?
Steven Goldman: See, I had to think about that, because I don't know that I've seen Karl Urban in anything except his smallish part in the Lord of the Rings flicks. Correction: I saw the awful "Ghost Ship" on TV, but don't remember him in it. I doubt I'll see him in the Star Trek film either... I can't bring myself to care about Star Trek anymore, after being a kind of devoted fan (though somewhere short of the stereotyped fanaticism) during my youth and teenaged years.
ChuckR (Addison, IL): But there has to be some upside for the Sox on getting Betemit, right? There is at least some logic somewhere in the deal for Kenny Williams, right? Right?
Steven Goldman: It gives them another option besides Josh Fields, who they don't seem too sold on in any case, but to my mind not a great one. Betamax is not a great defender and is a switch-hitter in name only--do NOT play against lefties. Oh, and he has no plate judgment. That said, he probably has some platoon value at 3B and emergency value at SS.
BeplerP (New York City): Steve: Loved the book on Casey. There's nothing else like it. The Swisher trade is a great deal for which Cashman deserves a lot of credit-first of all in finding him, hadn't the Sox put him in the Witness Protection Program? But I digress. I do have the opinion that the Yankees must move on with Robinson Cano. While his trade value has been diminished, wait til you see what it is this time next year! Proposed replacements: (a) Available inexpensively: Mike Fontenot, who is a free agent. Available expensively: Jeff Kent (please NO!), Brian Roberts. Am I jumping the shark on Cano?
Steven Goldman: Thank you, BeplerP, for reading Forging Genius and for the kind words. The question isn't whether you've jumped the shark on Cano, but whether Cano himself has jumped the shark (I've never heard jumping the shark used to signify that one might be ahead of the shark). I don't think he has, given his age and post-April rates of .297/.326/.448. The problem with Cano is that he seems like he doesn't care half the time. He's locked in for a week, and then he goes 0-for-20 swinging at first pitches and starts making careless plays in the infield. This makes him immensely frustrating to watch, not least of all to the Yankees themselves. How do you keep this guy locked in? They don't know, so the temptation is to make him someone else's problem--and it wouldn't be the end of the world. You could get a 2B who has lower highs but also higher lows, or lower batting averages but is better at getting on base. In that case, the decision to make a change depends on who you can get--the Yankees really need to stay focused on offense. But if your question is, "Will he rebound and improve his value?" I think yes, he will.
jimbeau (Left Coast): Steve...speaking of 3B platoons, how would a Andy Marte/Russle Branyan pairing hold up for the Tribe - as opposed to trying to buy/trade for a 3B/2B?
Steven Goldman: I'm just not a Marte believer at this point at all. I've always liked Branyan as a four-corner backup with power, but health and defense would be a problem.
dianagramr (NYC): Greetings from Bronx Banter!
Gaze into your crystal ball and tell me when Jeter gets moved off of SS, and what position he moves to?
Steven Goldman: Hey, D. Congratulations on your move into the pro ranks (check out Diane's work at Bronx Banter's new home at SNY). I'm going to guess that, like Joe DiMaggio when he was faced with Mickey Mantle forcing him off of his historic perch in center field, Jeter will elect to make his next position... Mr. Coffee. So the date would be 2011. A bit of a flip answer, but I fully expect that Jeter's declining bat will make the point moot by the time his contract is up.
mattymatty (Philly): Steve, I know you must be busy with baseball all year long, but are you much of a football fan?
Steven Goldman: I'm a big football fan, but this year a few things have kept me away from it--I have a nice LCD TV going to waste just now--the annual; Wholesome Reading, which takes up a lot of time--when I post a "Things We Read Today" item, it means I sat there and read it, and several other things as well, as just one example; and several other writing projects. It's been awhile since Forging Genius now, and though I love my role here with BP with the annual and the other books, I have an increasing itch to record another solo album.
That said, I have long been a Jets fan, a singularly masochistic thing to be, and it's nice to see it paying off a little bit for a change. I just wish I was more involved so I could be feeling it more.
BTW... I did finally get a new You Could Look It Up in to BP today, in response to a reader request for more info on the late Preacher Roe (Herb Score will follow). I don't know when Christina will get it up -- no doubt I have to do some penance for treating deadlines the way some conservatives treat global warming.
RenalGland (Calumet City, IL): I've been looking everywhere for something, anything, on why the Cubs would not pursue Ichiro. I really don't know whether he's a free agent or not, but with the M's in rebuild mode, and Ichiro not getting any younger, as in 36-ish, where's the rub? He played for Lou in the past, he speaks Japanese, so he could be a help in the Kosuke Fukudome crusade, he's a lead-off guy who could give lessons in it, has WONDERFUL offensive numbers, a Howitzer from right field....wait, maybe that's what's wrong. Hendry isn't used to solving so many problems at the same time, never mind all with the same guy. Still, a nice package o' kids should get this done. What do you think?
Steven Goldman: RenalGlad? Maybe I should go by ThyroidGland. I worry, though, that eventually be answering questions from UndescendedTestile, so maybe we should leave that alone. So here's the thing about Ichiro. He's fun, but he's more fun than good in offensive terms. He's certainly not WONDERFUL. This year he had almost a Matty Alou year, all singles and little else. He doesn't walk much, and his power doesn't exist. He hasn't hit more than 30 doubles since his first year, hasn't hit ten HRs since 2005. The baserunning is great. The bat-handling is great. The defense is very good. To spend good prospects on that package, given that the feller is also going on 35, seems like a potential for huge, huge disappointment... And even if it could be done, even as the M's rebuild, I'd be surprised if they sold a guy who is so popular, such an easy marketing hook.
Rob (Cambridge): Why Pedroia and not Youkilis? Seems to me that the latter's defense (relative to his positions) and offensive is better.
Steven Goldman: It's close, I admit. I'm erring on the side of positional value.
Eric (Manorville): Hi Steve; Will Phil Coke be a starter or reliever in NY or Scranton? Will Brett Gardner really be the opening day starting centerfielder?
Steven Goldman: My own sense of Coke's development is that the bullpen would be a better fit, but the Yankees seem to be ambivalent at this point. I don't see the harm of giving him a year in the pen and putting off the decision for awhile (it worked for Kenny Rogers, sort of) either way. As for Gardner, my sense is they're looking for alternatives. It's actually a difficult choice, as success or failure on Gardner's part is a question of ten singles falling in or getting caught. I don't think he's an impact player either way, but he could certainly hold down the position for a bridge year or half a year until Austin Jackson shows he can be more of a producer in center.
Rob (Cambridge): Seriously, Professor, have you come around on Manny yet? Upgrade on Abreu (no worse defense), shorter, cheaper contract than Teixeira, and cover (on- and off-field) for the 3Bman, and lineup balance against lefties. Seems like three pricey years is better than 6 or 7.
Steven Goldman: How about the Yankees trade or bench Nady, sign Teixeira, and play Swisher in RF most of the time? I like that better on all kinds of levels.
ndubby (sfo): Strictly baseball today?
Steven Goldman: Nah... Stick out your tongue and say "Ah."
Mike (Washington, D.C.): For Cap, I think they're going Matt Damon. You can't go with a lesser name than Downey, Jr. or Norton. Well, you could, and it could work, but Marvel won't.
Batman 3 villains - I think we're looking at some amalgamation of Catwoman, Riddler, and my upset special, Hush. Your thoughts?
Steven Goldman: I just forwarded your question to a pal in the funny book industry who would be in a position to know and he said I gave a good answer, adding that you want someone like Tobey McGuire in the Spider-Man flicks, who would be credible as a skinny guy at the outset and as a beefier fellow later on. I don't know if either one of us knows who that is. I did think of Damon, but I don't think he has the post-transformation stature. No clue on Batman 3, and I don't know if THEY know yet, but I figure that they might let Catwoman ride for awhile after the Halle Berry debacle, Hush is too "inside," and the Riddler too silly-though I think Jim Carrey did a good job with him in an otherwise crappy movie back in "Batman Forever"- my favorite Riddler remains the late Frank Gorshin.
Aaron (YYZ): Urban has actually been very good in a number of less recognizable/lower profile action roles such has the opposing assassin (Kirill) in the second Bourne film, Reaper in Doom, and one of the major baddies in Chronicles of Riddick. The guy seems to have a knack for being in very solid films even if he isn't the headliner and he's never disappointed me with his performance.
Steven Goldman: I couldn't watch the Bourne films -- all the handicam stuff made me throw up in my 1924 Washington Senators baseball cap.
Tim (DC): Not one mention of the most shocking development of the off-season: Jim Bowden makes a good trade!?!? To quote Dr Peter Venkman: "Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria"
Steven Goldman: I have to admit, I roasted him for swapping Jon Rauch for Bonifacio, then he goes and turns Bonifacio into something(s) useful. I still worry that they're going to try to shock that fanbase out of its malaise by making a bunch of Chuck LaMar, Greg Vaughn-style signings, which will only make things worse in the end.
Evan (Vancouver, BC): Karl Urban did have a recurring role as Julius Caesar in Xena. Try not to think about the historical accuracy.
Steven Goldman: Never did watch even a single Xena. I think I saw half of one once, the one where they sing. You wonder if they started that show up today if they'd be more honest about the lesbian subtext. Probably not, given the economics of syndication.
MikeJordan23 (Brooklyn): If you're the Cardinals, what moves would you make for the rotation, second and SS? Randy Johnson a 1 year deal? Brad Penny? Orlando Hudson? With the Brewers losing their big starters, I think the Cardinals could win the wildcard if they make a couple of good moves...
Steven Goldman: They definitely need pitching, and renting Randy might pay off. He had a good year in the end. Penny scares me, and I've written a bunch of times about the team that signs Hudson is paying for good defense and a park effect (which is not to say that the Cards don't need help there). I just wonder how much they can count on the offense next year. Pujols should be Pujols and we should probably expect consistency from Glaus, but the whole OF is a question mark, esp. if they decide to sell high on Ludwick. Can they do better at shortstop? Can Ankiel stay healthy? It's possible they patch the pitching and they stop scoring...
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): When you go outside of your bailiwick into economics for Wholesome Reading, how do you prevent yourself from only reading sources that confirm your biases? Also, do we want CC for 7 years, Lowe for 4, or Pettitte for 1? Thanks!
Steven Goldman: Hey, Tony. Good question. I'm certainly no expert in economics. What I try to do with everything, even areas where I feel more confident about my own training and knowledge base, is to keep an open mind, cast a wide net for all kinds of information, and try to apply my judgment to each proposed course of action and see if it passes some fairly basic tests of rationality. As you've seen at WR, I'm a fan of the New Deal--but I did read Amity Shlaes book and try to get something out of it, even though I concluded in the end that it was a political agenda disguised as an analysis. You can't ever close your eyes in life, not to anyone, not to anything. Question everyone, everything. Doubt your friends, doubt your family, doubt your wife and girlfriend, and doubt yourself. Constantly test what you believe. Never stop thinking. That's my philosophy, and I'm hopeful in that way I avoid the trap of bias.
I think CC is worth the gamble. He just isn't the whole game.
Tim (DC): Steve, when (GM Meeting/Spring Training/Trading Deadline) do the following Orioles get traded: Huff, Mora, Roberts, Hernandez, Sherrill. I am not necessarily expecting a Bedard-like haul for each...but can we track Bavasi's where-abouts?
Steven Goldman: The one that jumps out at me is Huff, but if no one bit on him at this year's deadline, maybe no one bites ever, because he probably won't be quite so good next year. The guaranteed $8 mil was undoubtedly a disincentive. That won't be an issue at this year's deadline, but like I said, will he hit enough to be attractive? Anyway, in a rational world, only Roberts should bring anything like a substantial return.
Joe (Brooklyn): Hi, Steve. You've mentioned trading Nady several times in this chat. What are some of the more plausible trades that you see? Do you think the need for a backup catcher supersedes the Yankees getting mediocre pitching prospects in deal?
Steven Goldman: With Francisco Cervelli healthy, the Yankees don't seem too invested in acquiring another catcher, which is shortsighted, because there are no guarantees on Jorge Posada, Jose Molina killed them like an assassin in the night, and Cervelli won't hit. I don't know what the market for Nady is, but he should be at the height of his value right now. He'd be a heck of a reserve/250-350 at-bat guy if the Yankees could be disciplined about that, but maybe Nady can do more for them by bringing someone else in trade.
Josh (Chicago): Steve, there are several reasons Kenny Williams may have traded Nick Swisher that have nothing to do with money/talent. As it's been reported on the Chicago stations, Swisher shut out the coaching staff completely last year, blew off the hitting coach when he tried to help him, and simply withdrew into himself once he was put in a platoon. Additionally, Swisher's locker room clown act was beginning to wear thin (his partner in crime, Toby Hall, has also been shown the door). Just something to keep in mind before blasting Kenny Williams...
Steven Goldman: I wasn't necessarily blasting him, but the trade was uneven, even if his reasons are of the off-field variety. Whatever the issues with Swisher's personality and comportment, he's a guy with value, a four-position guy who has produced in the past and even in a miserable year took a whole bunch of walks and hit with power. Players are traded for all kinds of reasons, even the one you site--that they're too annoying to live with. That still doesn't mean that the team shouldn't get value for them. At first glance it doesn't appear Williams did that.
Brian (brooklyn): Aaron Heilman for Xavier Nady? Who says no?
Steven Goldman: Well, the Mets already had the pleasure of Nady's company once and moved him along--and the Yankees don't really need Heilman... after last year, I don't know if anyone needs Heilman. I guess he'll bounce back, maybe.
nmhesketh (Cambridge): The recent Ceda/Gregg trade reminds me of the first chapter of "Mind Game" where you discuss the Red Sox' failure by design. What possible plan do the Cubs have jumping ship on Ceda and getting into bed with Matt Mantei's ghost?
Steven Goldman: I think they saw correctly that Kerry Wood was not so great as a closer that he was worth investing a lot of money in as a closer--WXRL for 2008: 2.23 (and what the heck is the Cubs' financial sitch these days with the economy dying as they try to sell?). They also had alternatives in Carlos Marmot, but that triggered an attack of nerves about the rest of the bullpen chain. I'm not saying it was a good move, but I can see the way it developed. Thanks for the shout-out for Mind Game, a book that still has currency.
dianagramr (NYC): Nady to the Rangers for one of their catching prospects perhaps?
And speaking of the Rangers, Milton Bradley would look nice in the Mets or Yanks outfield, but I doubt he'd hit it off with the media.
Steven Goldman: You're not the only one to suggest Nady for a Texas catcher, but I figure the Rangers would say, "Big hat, no cattle." They're going to get better offers, even for Laird, who is a good defender but not much of a hitter (IE a pretty good dictionary picture of a reserve catcher). Again, the problem with Nady is that he's just a stopgap as a starter in an outfield corner... Milton Bradley was probably the best pure hitter in the AL this year. I have no idea where he'll go. I could really see Joe Girardi rubbing him the wrong way, alas.
Mike (Washington, D.C.): You're probably right about Hush, but I disagree about Catwoman/Riddler - Nolan's universe is practically begging for an anti-hero love interest, and a Zodiac style serial killer played by Daniel Day Lewis could be an interesting new take on the Riddler. But I'm afraid that no matter what they do, the best part in any Batman movie will always be when Adam West can't get rid of that bomb.
Steven Goldman: Agreed on that last! Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb. My only fault with that movie is the lack of Julie Newmar. I'm certain I've said that in a previous chat... Your conception of the Riddler is intriguing, but my guess is that it would just come off (and be criticized in the MSM) as rehashed Heath Ledger. I wish I could see DD Lewis taking on a part like that, but he's so selective. In a way, he kind of played the part already, as Bill the Butcher in "Gangs of New York." Not a great movie that, but I love him in it.
Brian (brooklyn): I could see Jerry Manuel working well with Bradley. The injury history would worry me though
Steven Goldman: Not being around the Mets much, I don't have a great sense of Manuel as a players' manager. Some have told me he is, some have said he isn't. Me confused.
RedSoxWoo77 (Plymouth, MA): This is completely random, but....
Am I wrong in thinking that Joe DiMaggio is one of the most inappropriately worshipped superstars from baseball history? Maybe I've only read one side of the story, but when I think of Joey D., I think of wife-beating, mob slush funds, and poor treatment of his teammates. Also, the numbers don't even support him being the best player during his career - that would be Ted Williams or Stan Musial. I don't know if I'm being unfairly biased as a Red Sox fan, so I'm curious what your opinion of the man is.
Steven Goldman: Obviously, not being 65 years old, I didn't see Joe D play. There's a very good book by Robert Creamer that has gone by a couple of names - I read it as "Baseball in '41," but it has another title now. The thesis, and this seems right to me, is that DiMaggio wasn't terribly popular when he first came up, especially because he was a frequently injured, regular holdout, but that the timing of The Streak, coming when it did with the world in a very tense spot, really did something to translate him in the public mind from just another selfish ballplayer into something mystical. As for specific comps to Musial and Williams, they were more selective hitters, but if you put them in the same park and give DiMag credit for being an excellent defensive CF when the other two were just so-so corner guys, I think the differences start to disappear.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Is there a WR Facebook group so that the idle can spread the word?
Steven Goldman: On my list of things to do, sir. It's going to be a very busy weekend. Thank you for caring enough to mention it.
GBSimons (Loganville, GA): What do you think of the Nats' 38th round pick in this year's draft? Future stud or Future Farmer of America? (You're the prospect guy, right?)
Steven Goldman: Tradition! If they picked Honus Wagner I think he's a coming star, and I can tell you a great deal about him, right down to precisely what he's going to hit in his age-27 season.
Mike K (Athens, GA): What would you do with Melky next year?
Steven Goldman: It depends on what Obama is going to do with the NASA budget. Right now, American manned space flight is looking like a dead letter.
...Cabrera is like Cano. He turns it on and off and doesn't seem to care which mode he's in.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Why are the Padres looking to deal Peavy again? Are they so far out of contention in the West that they invariably must cash in their biggest chip?
Is the economic downturn (something I understand less than Mark Cuban does entering the MLB ownership club) putting the pinch on some teams more than others (e.g., the Pads and Peavy, the Sox and Swisher)?
Steven Goldman: Or it's ownership's divorce proceedings, which are literally tearing the club in half. Right now they're trying to figure out who gets custody of Tony Gwynn.
roughcarrigan (Grafton, MA): New Deal fan, huh? That was apparently like having Jim Bowden run the country's economy. No one knew what the government's policy would be next month and so people with capital didn't do anything with it resulting in the depression lasting until re-armament. Have you ever tried reading Reason magazine for the libertarian point of view?
Steven Goldman: No, I haven't read Reason, but I disagree with your analysis, one that is not borne out by the stats. I'm open to exploring the libertarian take, but I've never understood the libertarian take on certain things, which seem to ignore all kinds of enlightenment reasoning that had already worked through and discarded a lot of the points that the philosophy embraces. But I'm no expert, in part because definitions and positions vary so much that it's hard for me to see it as a coherent movement.
dianagramr (NYC): I think there is enough of Tony Gwynn to be shared by both parties.
Steven Goldman: I was waiting for someone to give me that answer. The other part of it is, there isn't enough Peavy for both, and so away he goes.
The Dude (Lebowski Town): Nice marmot...man. You named him Carlos? The Dude abides.
Steven Goldman: I was waiting for that, too. Took awhile.
nmhesketh (Cambridge): What are the Red Sox plans at the catcher position. The more time that passes, the more I believe Varitek will make a push to re-sign with the Red Sox at a hometown discount. As frustrating as it was to watch him attempt to tread water at the dish, wouldn't it serve the Sox well if they could lock up Tek to provide tutelage to his successor? Is Kottaras a legitimate candidate or is it worth it to trade Bowden/Buchholz to aquire Teagarden/Salty?
Steven Goldman: Having watched Joe Girardi "tutor" Jorge Posada right out of his prime while hitting into a double play roughly every other at bat, I'm pretty down on the idea of tutelage. When in sports did anyone learn by watching? Let's let the coaches be coaches and the players be players. When the Yankees wanted to make Yogi Berra into a better catcher, they hired Bill Dickey to (as Yogi put it) "learn me everything he knows." They didn't play Dickey in front of him... I think the Sox will need Bowden and Buchholz too much to deal them off for catching help.
dianagramr (NYC): Save a tree and print the annual as a downloadable PDF file.
(Yes, I'm a tree-hugging dreamer, and I know your publisher won't go for it!)
Steven Goldman: We've actually talked about making it available for Kindle, but my understanding is the format of the annual makes that very difficult to achieve. Imagine pages of jumbled up numbers. Sounds like my self life. I don't know what I mean by that, so don't ask. And please don't ask my wife.
JOHN54 (Alabama): Yunel Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez, Charles Morton and a lefty reliever for Jake Peavy seems basicaly to me like giving Escobar for Peavy who is a very cheap superace for 4-5 years.
Is it a good or bad deal for the Braves?
Steven Goldman: I think you're being a little too harsh on Morton, and Gorkys, um... has a great name and could be, er, sort of a fourth OF. It's not a great return, you're right. It was a more exciting deal with Tommy Hanson as part of it. It's a good deal for the Braves. I've written elsewhere (tho' I'm not the only one) to suggest that Peavy's H/R splits suggest he is overvalued to some degree, and no doubt that figures in.
I'm so certain I typed "sex" in that last entry, but it came out "self." And you know what? Self-life is a really interesting concept that I like even better.
LHamilton (Dallas): Nats 38th round pick Ronnie Labrie went .324/.423/.446 in the Gulf Coast League after signing...I mean I can't be only person who acutally wondered about that...can I?
Steven Goldman: The benefit of having Kevin Goldstein's personal contact info: "Every system has one of those guys."
mattymatty (Philly): First, the very best of health to you, sir. I hope your various maladies are not plaguing you at present.
Second, I'm perplexed by the Mark Teixeira to the Red Sox rumors. Sure, Tex is a great player, but the Red Sox already possess two more years of both Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis. Now, neither is Teixeira (though Youkilis was this year), but neither is a slouch at the plate or in the field either. Looking beyond that, the Red Sox have Lars Anderson, who tore it up in A and AA and who projects to be ready for Boston by the time Lowell's contract expires. Taking all of this together, does it really make sense for Theo to spend $150+ Million of John Henry's money on what amounts to a slight up-grade?
Steven Goldman: The maladies are quiescent, thanks, and nothing troubling me at present except for some stitches in inconvenient places. I have turned down two TV opportunities this week because I look like someone punched me in the eye. Who knew I would be in demand the second week of November? I agree with your take, Matty.
clete6 (work): Couldn't agree more about Wolfman Jack. Can't stand Chickenman either. At least we now have the Underground Garage if we want to hear '60s-style music without all the non-music interludes.... Matty Alou -- brings back memories of the 1973 Yankees.
Steven Goldman: Do you WANT to have memories of the 1973 Yankees? It sounds like a John Updike novel. Crazy good year for Lindy McDaniel and Thurman Munson, I guess.
Steven Goldman: Friends, as always I've had a swell time, but as the work-week comes to an end I must be about other missions. The new You Could Look It Up is now online here at BP, and I'll have more Pinstriped Bible stuff at YES and some new entries at WholesomeReading.com shortly and throughout the weekend. No doubt I'll be back here throughout the winter as we work on the annual. As always, thank you for favoring me with your wisdom and for spending part of your day with me and Baseball Prospectus.