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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday December 05, 2008 2:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.


Jay stops in for more than just a hit and run to answer your questions about Hall of Fame candidacies, Dodger dealings, the Hit List, and more.

Jay Jaffe: Hello everybody, and welcome to this afternoon's chat. Powered by the Gang of Four's Entertainment! and my growing concern of a mustache, let's get to the questions.

Bill (New Mexico): The "GM for a Day" feature that you and Joe have been writing has been fun. Joe implies that you're not going to get to all the teams, so have you guys discussed getting readers or guest writers in to do the teams that you're not going to?

Jay Jaffe: Thank you, we're glad you enjoy them. If bringing on guest "GMs" been discussed, I haven't been privy to those discussions, but our preseason 2007 "Hope and Faith" series offers a positive precedent. I'll pass the suggestion on to our editors.

williamnyy (NYC): Everyone seems to think the Giambi contract was a bust, but so many are advocating a 10-year deal for Teixeira. Looking at Giambi's offensive performance, I don't know if Teixeira will be able to match it, which means his glove will have to be the deciding factor. Can a 1B's defense really have that much of an impact? How wise is it to invest $200mn in a position that can more easily be filled than most? Quite frankly, C.C. Sabathia seems like much more of a rare commodity that I don't understand the ground swell away from him toward Teixeira.

Jay Jaffe: The Giambi contract wasn't a total bust, but it wasn't a great deal either. Aside from 2002, he never had a season above 8.0 WARP, and was below 2.0 twice. A lack of defensive value was a problem, both in terms of the amount of time he spent as a DH - which has costs, such as the ability to rest a regular - and as a below-average first basemen. It's about 1-2 wins a year less than a Teixeira, plus I think it's likely that such a difference provides a tell as to the aging patterns that the two players can be expected to follow. A better defensive 1B is likely to age better than a guy who's already a part-time DH.

Note that I don't advocate going as high as $200 million on Tex, but you're right, cheaper solutions can be had because of its spot on the defensive spectrum.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): I believe Joe is writing a GM-for-a-day article on the Tigers.....but if you could fix the Tigers in a few easy steps how would you proceed? Thanks.

Jay Jaffe: I make a weekly radio appearance on a Toledo situation (WLQR Sports Radio 1470, The Front Row with Norm Wamer and Matt Melzak, 3:10 CT every Wednesday) and am often asked to talk about the Tigers. Quite frankly I don't have an easy fix in mind for them beyond "Make Better Decisions." I think they had some failures in 2008 because of their inability to honestly assess the defensive capabilities of Cabrera, Guillen, and Renteria, and they made a lot of noise as they declared a new plan every six weeks.

Brian (Brooklyn NY): Last year everything went wrong for the Yankees and they still won 89 games. Is a massive overhaul really necessary?

Jay Jaffe: The situation is far from dire, but they've shed several key players and they have an aging lineup with few prospects on the immediate horizon. The lineup is geared to win now (or Winn Now as I advocated) but the rotation is a couple years behind that. So there's work to be done.

Reed (Des Moines): If the Yankees offered arbitration to Andy Pettitte, then he retired, would they get compensation draft picks?

Jay Jaffe: No, compensation only kicks in if they offer him arb and he signs with another team.

wilk75 (houston): Biggio seems to be a near lock. Bagwell for the Hall?

Jay Jaffe: With 3000 hits, Biggio is a lock. As for Bagwell, I don't have updated JAWS numbers on him to quote today but when I analyzed him in the spring of 2006 here, he looked like a very strong candidate.

spencerja78 (Indy): When do will you start the HOF articles? Does Rock get anymore respect this year? Is this the year Blyleven gets in?

Jay Jaffe: Soon, hopefully very soon on the HOF series. Tim Raines is in for another tough year because of Rickey Henderson's presence on the ballot; 3000 hits and the runs and stolen bases records make him my Lock of the Week. Blyleven may get some love, but watch out for a surge from Jim Rice, who's in his final year on the ballot and barely missed last year. I strongly advocate against Rice, but the electorate seems to think otherwise.

metfanaaron2001 (Baltimore MD): Harold Baines fell short, so its mute, but shouldn't 3000 hits be an automatic in for the HOF? Even if you're just a "good" player, isn't it a "great" accomplish to play long enough to get that many hits?

Jay Jaffe: 3,000 hits is a very, very impressive accomplishment but as with 500 homers, the argument is the danger of rising offensive levels making it an easier one to reach. I personally don't think that it should be an automatic if the guy wasn't valuable enough according to a fuller assessment of his suite of accomplishments. They usually are, but Baines' DH work holds his value down significantly.

Brian (Brooklyn NY): Andruw Jones for Luis Castillo and some cash. Who says no?

Jay Jaffe: This Dodger fan, for starters.

Castillo has three years left on his deal, Jones one. Castillo has no place to go defensively. Jones is still an acceptable defensive CF, and is younger so therefore has greater odds of bouncing back.

Mike (Chicago): Ron Santo is going to get in this time, right? I feel for the guy, it actually matters to him. Rickey Henderson, shoo-in. Jim Rice, inevitable. Blyleven? possible. Is anyone else even anywhere near possible?

Jay Jaffe: Thank you for writing my entire JAWS series in a few sentences! The other guy who has a shot this yera is Andre Dawson, who polled 65.9 percent last year. Along with Rice and Blyleven, the only player not to get in after passing 50 percent is Hodges, so the odds are strong in favor of an eventual enshrinement.

Brandon (Charleston): Do you Reds fans finally have reason for optimism with a solid young core of Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Phillips, Chris Dickerson, Johnny Cueto, and Edinson Volquez?

Jay Jaffe: Absolutely, there's reason for optimism so long as Dusty Baker doesn't mangle those arms.

I had the Reds as my sleeper team last year and while they didn't get there, most of the guys you mentioned are fascinating, with a ton of upside. The series I watched most closely all year long was when the Reds came to Yankee Stadium in late June.

I don't see the Reds with a shot at the 2009 NL Central but I think third place is a possibility with the right moves this winter. One of which might be taking out a restraining order against Baker from coming to the ballpark.

Dan (Brooklyn): Hi Jay, Has Albert Belle fallen off the HOF ballot due to low vote totals in 2007? If not (or looking towards the future), what do you make of his candidacy?

Jay Jaffe: Belle lasted to his second year on the ballot, when he fell to 3.5 percent; poll below 5.0 percent and you're off.

I liked his candidacy at the time because of his very high peak, but I was in a very small minority. As the VC is constructed, I don't think he's likely to get much traction in the future.

Tripon (L.A.): Onley is trying to get a Cano for Kemp or Kershaw, or Billingsley rumor started again. Does anyone in New York seriously expect something like this to happen, or is it just a slow news day, and people have to make stuff up?

Jay Jaffe: I think Buster is just spitballing on a slow day, but there is quite obviously a source within the Dodger org that insists on fueling such rumors every so often as an effort to undermine Colletti and to put murder in the hearts of Dodger fans like me.

I have my ideas as to who that source is, but I can't discuss them here.

Frank (Vegas): Jay what's your take on the JWilson rumors? A few months ago I asked Christina what she thought of a JW for Hu deal, and she said the LAD would never do it! Now the rumors are Hu+Young+?; have the LAD soured on Hu, or just desperate for a SS?

Jay Jaffe: With Ivan DeJesus Jr.'s ascendancy, the Dodgers have soured on Hu a bit, though his problems at the plate last year apparently had something to do with recurrent blurred vision problems that he was loathe to confront (it's possible the language/cultural barrier figured in there somewhere).

I don't like the Wilson discussions at all, though. A career .240 EqA at his price tag does nothing for me even as a stopgap because he's just not great defensively.

Dennis (Chicago): Source = Joe Torre? Just blink twice for yes.

Jay Jaffe: No, because they predate his arrival.

ssteadman (St. Louis, MO): Do you think Santo finally gets in this year? Also, when will Joe Torre finally get recognized for his career in its entirety...why make him wait until he's on the ballot as a manager, when as of right now, his collective accomplishments are worthy when taken together?

Jay Jaffe: Sticking with Torre, if you're going to commission a bronze plaque, you want the numbers to be final.

oira61 (San Francisco): What's your position on Ichiro Suzuki for the Hall of Fame?

Jay Jaffe: I'm all for it, because his seven-year peak definitely holds up well next to the average HOFer and his shortened MLB career is a product of externalities that were not of his making. Plus I think he's been a tremendous ambassador for extending baseball's reach and creating new fans.

John (Des Plaines): Rafael Palmeiro is most likely going to fall short even with the magic 3000, albeit for other reasons. Do you think, eventually, most of these players (McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro) that are going to be PED excluded will eventually get in the VC way? Or will the writers come to their senses before the 15 years are up? Or are we going to be cursed with a HOF absent some top hitters?

Jay Jaffe: That's a tremendous question, and I don't really know the answer. It appears that the BBWAA writers are going to carry a grudge for quite some time on this matter, and it's wrapped up with their own culpability, and if you ask the players on the VC, "cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!" is about as nuanced as the argument gets.

Ask me again in 20 years.

Tommy (Tropicana Field): The Dodgers are looking to trade for a SS. A report came out this week the Rays would be willing to trade Bartlett and we know they would like a young corner outfielder. Bartlett + for one of the Dodgers OF'ers?

Jay Jaffe: Sure, if by young corner outfielder you mean Juan Pierre. Or Delwyn Young.

rawagman (Toronto): Thanks for chatting Jay - two part question. 1) Would the following be an equitable trade - Jays send Lyle Overbay and Russ Adams to the Mariners for Jarrod Washburn and some cash? 2) What possible excuse could JP Ricciardi put forth this year for not having Travis Snider in the opening day lineup?

Jay Jaffe: No, it's not enough going to the Mariners, as Adams is without value given his shortcomings on both sides of the ball.

As for Snider, he had a very nice cup of coffee last year and he's not far off, but he's got less than 150 AB above Double-A, and just 500 above A-ball, so I don't think there's harm in some seasoning at Triple-A. But I look forward to an obfuscation from J.P. nonetheless, as those are worth the price of admission.

Matt A (Raleigh): Thoughts on the Vazquez deal?

Jay Jaffe: At least in the short term, it appears to be a good deal for the Braves, as his low groundball rate means he's got much more value outside of the Cell, particularly in heading to the easier league. I don't have much knowledge of the prospects beyond what was in Christina's TA article, so I can't give you a fuller take on the trade, however.

Brandon (Charleston): What kind of numbers do you expect from Johnny Cueto in 2009?

Jay Jaffe: The first thing I do to start my winter work for BP and the Fantasy Baseball Index (where I write pitcher capsules) is create something I call the DIPSheet, which uses a variety of means to evaluate pitcher performance - DIPS, QERA and a couple of others. Cueto looks to me to have performed at about a league-average level last year, and I'm bullish that he can improve, but I'd like to see him develop a pitch to keep the ball on the ground and save a bit of wear and tear on his arm - like the cut fastball Chad Billingsley picked up a couple years ago.

Without an advance, I think he's in the 4.25 ERA range give or take a quarter, probably around 180 innings.

Hendo (Silver Spring, Md.): Frank "Hondo" Howard just parted ways with the Yankees. If the Nats want a PR boost (which they desperately need whether they want it or not), why shouldn't they scoop him right up?

Jay Jaffe: I'm all for it, particularly because he has an even better nickname: the Capitol Punisher.

We need better nicknames these days.

Dan (Newton, MA): Would Julio Lugo for Jarrod Washburn straight up be a workable trade?

Jay Jaffe: No, because Washburn's a league average inning muncher going into the final year of his deal while Lugo's a below average player with two years and perhaps three (if his option vests) on his deal.

MoJo Drew (LA): Billingsley/Kershaw vs Shields/Price Who do you got?

Jay Jaffe: I'm a Dodger fan so I'm content to stick with those two, but damn, I don't think you can go wrong with either pair.

jimoneill (CT): How much do teams factor in blocking top prospects when signing free agents? While Teixeira is a wonderful player, does blocking Anderson factor in for Theo?

Jay Jaffe: It depends on the team the extent to which it factors in; you have to assess the player's upside, his distance from the show, and his value as a tradable commodity in making your evaluation.

I honestly don't think the Red Sox are serious players for Texeira because I do think they think highy of Anderson and because it will be difficult to unload Mike Lowell's $25 million to accomodate it (moving Youkilis to third). I see their interest as a bluff designed to drive up Tex's price, but I don't know that for sure.

Tripon (L.A.): Barlett for Xavier Paul, or Kyle Russell. Probably closer in talent.

Jay Jaffe: Much more reasonable, yes.

In an IM last night, Kevin called Russell "The Texas Wind Machine" which had me falling out of my chair laughing.

mgibson (DC): A few years back Abreu looked like a sleeper HOF candidate if he aged well. Do you think he still has a shot?

Jay Jaffe: He's got 1954 hits through his Age 34 season, so he's got a non-zero shot via that route. Bill James pegs it at 16% in the new Handbook. Beyond that, he's got just two All-Star appearances and few other markers like that, which will make him a difficult sell to the BBWAA absent a milestone.

Johnny Bravo (Rome): Braves fans seem to think pretty highly of Kelly Johnson. What's his ceiling and soon will he get there?

Jay Jaffe: I think he's pretty much at his ceiling right now, a guy who's totaled 17.0 WARP over the last two years, with about a .350-375 OBP, .450-.475 SLG, and plus defense. Sign me up for a slice of that pie even without a bigger Age 27 season.

dcoonce (Bloomington Indiana): If Rickey doesn't get in this year, then it's time to blow the whole selection process up and start over from scratch, right?

Jay Jaffe: Rickey will get in this year. Aside from the obvious Hall of Fame credentials, a Rickey publicity tour and Hall of Fame induction speech is something that every elector with an 800 word column or two to fill has to be looking forward to.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Disagree on Yankees' degree of "direness". They were fringe competitors in terms of 2nd and 3rd order record. Only 2 or 3 guys are on the right side of the age curve. They have one positional prospect with an ETA before 2011. They're about 400 innings short of having a competitive starting staff. And now they have discovered caution in the arb and FA scene. 89 wins is no achievement for a team with their resources.

Jay Jaffe: The situation is far from dire because they have resources, smarts, and a decent core to build upon for the moment.

You want dire, I got a few GMs who you can talk to. They won't have any sympathy for the Yanks.

Dave (Chicago): How concerned should A's fans be about signing Rafael Furcal to something like a 4-year deal worth $48 million, or something like that? Besides the fact that he hasn't had a healthy and productive season since 2006, the A's would also be getting his age 31 through 34 seasons. Surely better than Bobby Crosby (and anything on the farm), but seems like this potential signing would have a lot of risk.

Jay Jaffe: Agree completely. Furcal is high-risk, high-reward, but when it comes to the first half of the equation, tThe A's have an awful track record in assessing risk when it comes to player health, and perhaps in their health department entirely. Crosby, Chavez, Harden, Mulder... if they bite on Furcal, it's got the potential to blow up in their faces several times over.

nghunter (Brooklyn): Hey Jay, Just wanted to say I really enjoy how thoroughly you "do" your pieces and, for that reason, I was disappointed that you weren't assigned the AL Central hot stove piece (Indians fan). The Yankees piece was great, and I enjoyed how you kept budget in mind, but shouldn't the Yankess be able to find a DH that doesn't bat 8th in their lineup?

Jay Jaffe: Thanks! The eighth spot isn't etched in stone at all, it should be based on who the DH is and how that fits in with the rest of the lineup.

I simply don't think the Yanks need to commit salary to a fulltime DH because of the Posada contingency, i.e, if he has further problems he can at least remain a part of the offensse.

Chris (Biloxi): Is Chipper Jones on a HOF track in your opinion? Scott Rolen? Any other active 3bman not named Alex?

Jay Jaffe: I think last year put Chipper over the top in the minds of some voters, because he has remained an incredible offensive force even as his own body has turned against him. He's got the MVP, the All-Stars, the ring... it's a robust candidacy.

Rolen I'm much less convinced. He's had one good year out of his last four, and while people underestimate how valuable his early career performance was, guys who stop being plus players in their early 30s tend not to fare well.

JKiersky (memphis): joe made the point that the mets have four hall of fame players in their prime. Obviously he's talking about beltran being the fourth. I certainly think he's hall worthy and, to me, kind of reminds me of kevin garnett in a baseball sense (sans personality)- does everything very well. Your thoughts on his hall chances?

Jay Jaffe: He's got three straight years of 10+ WARPs, and appears at a glance to have a HOF peak by JAWS standards. Now he's just got to hold up and play good baseball deep into his 30s, and a championship would help.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Do you guys have any theories about why you're so popular in Brooklyn?

Jay Jaffe: Maybe because I promote Nicky's Vietamese Sandwiches every time I do a chat? Or because the moms in Park Slope thing we're hotties?

I actually don't understand the question at all, but it's a chat day and I do like my banh mi.

birkem3 (Dayton): Does it make sense right now for the Braves to be playing for the short-term?

Jay Jaffe: Well, I don't entirely agree with the thinking but the rationale goes something like this:

The NL East title took only 92 wins. The Braves were a better team than their record would indicate, done in by a slew of injuries to the staff (season-enders for Smoltz, Hudson, Glavine, Soriano, Moylan) and a horrific record in one-run games. They've only got a short window of opportunity with Chipper at the center of their offense, so winning now is a priority.

That's the thinking, I think.

Jeff (Akron): What are the rules for players not offered arbitration and signing with their original team? Do they have to wait until like May or is there still a window to re-sign?

Jay Jaffe: That rule fell by the wayside a couple years ago so they can now re-sign without penalty.

rawagman (Toronto): Jay - I would say it's a given that Henderson and Rice be inducted by the BBWAA this year. I think Raines will eventually be enshrined by the same crew, but maybe not for another 3-5 years. What are the odds that either Blyleven or Dawson make it this year? What can you say off-the-cuff about the Veteran's Committee ballot? Thanks

Jay Jaffe: I'd put the odds of Blyleven and Dawson at about 1 in 4 this year simply because Rickey's a first-ballot no-brainer and Rice is on his last try. Voters tend to stage their votes to accommodate such things.

Re: the VC, I haven't commented on it yet, and probably won't at length this time around due to time pressures. I can only beat my head against the wall over Santo so many times; I really really really double super really think he should be in the Hall of Fame. Torre's got a case as a hitter but it's his managerial credentials that make him a slam dunk, Allen has a case if you think high peak, recognize that his candidacy was poisoned by some misinformation from Bill James years back and don't worry about him missing the "playing out the string" component of his career. Bill Dahlen has always been an intriguing candidate to me, and to the extent that I know relatively little about 19th century baseball, White's numbers have always stuck out.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): What do you think is the biggest gap between real and perceived HoF credentials going for an active player? I thought of Jeter, but even knocked back a few pegs from McCarver's love fest, he's a HoFer in most people's books. Maybe another way of putting it is who's the next Bert? The next Rice?

Jay Jaffe: The next Bert arrived last year. His name is Tim Raines. Mike Mussina will be the next Bert on the 2014 ballot.

The next Rice may well be Sammy Sosa, whose low OBP and dearth of accomplishment after Age 35 hamstring his case along with the very vague allegations of PED use. That's not a true parallel to Rice except in the "overrated feared slugger who wasn't valuable for all that long" department.

russadams (Minnesota): Has Ron Gardenhire screwed the Twins? He came out and said that his outfield is Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and Michael Cuddyer, and that there is no room for Delmon Young in it. That really improves the team's leverage in trade discussions. I'm also interested in your opinion on Young. In Minnesota, it seems like most people hate him (for example, when he didn't get angry about Gardenhire's comments, many are saying that he just doesn't care about anything), but how about an outsider's view?

Jay Jaffe: Ideally you'd certainly like your manager to shut his pie hole about such things, but if it's in the news it was probably being whispered somewhere anyway.

I honestly have no idea what to make of Young yet, beyond the fact that his plate discipline and power are a lot further off than originally thought, and that he's Blind Wily Mo Pena bad in the outfield. Still, he's going on 23 and has the raw tools that made him a top prospect, if perhaps a makeup that's something of a negative. I don't think he's worth dumping for the sake of dumping if I'm the Twins unless he's a truly noxious presence.

Two more and then I've got to run...

Dan (Brooklyn): Nicky's Vietnamese sandwiches? You should try Hanco's. What are the chances that the Mets actually have 5-6 HOFers right now: Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Johan... Delgado, Wagner?

Jay Jaffe: Thanks for the tip. No on Delgado or Wagner; the former doesn't have enough great seasons under his belt (just four 8.0+ WARP seasons), the latter's elbow issues plus the eventual comparisons to Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman will doom his candidacy.

treno (scottsdale, az): Is Stephen Drew ready to join the elite shortstops in the game right now. Would you rather Drew or Troy Tulowitzki?

Jay Jaffe: Tulo, because he's a much better defender and has fewer OBP issues.

I'll keep going for another couple.

bateman19 ( Boston): Jay, The Sox may be as usual, bluffing on Tex to drive up the price for the Yanks, but don't you think it makes too much sense? They can bid with anyone, including the Yanks, who are preoccupied with CC. Putting Tex at first moves Youk to 3rd, and gives them one of the better defenses in the league. He will bat cleanup and extend the lineup, moving Youk, JBay, and Drew to the 5-6-7 spots, respectively, allows them the kind of lineup to resign Tek and take his .220 offense, and im sure they could move Lowell to a team like the Twins for a decent pitching prospect. In conclusion, it makes too much sense to be ignored, don't you think?

Jay Jaffe: I'll dispute the notion that Youkilis-Teixeira is a significant enough defensive upgrade on Lowell-Youkilis, but their interest does make some sense because of the fact that it makes the team younger. The problem is that in order to get any value for Lowell in trade they will have to eat two tons of salary.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): I'd grown up watching Trammell in the 80s sticking it to the Blue Jays seemingly every chance he got, and I've always thought he was a HoFer. Now, his support is negligible, and I was actually surprised he got enough to remain on the ballot. As much as I want Santo, Bert, and Raines to get in, too, Trammell's exclusion causes me the most sadness, I think, for baseball from a now by-gone era.

Jay Jaffe: I second that emotion on Trammell. The guy was a fantastic player and his numbers hold up very well.

Jay Jaffe: OK folks, as always, thanks for stopping by to chat, it's been a lot of fun on this end! Hopefully I'll squeeze another one in soon to cover the Hall of Fame balloting.

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