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Chat: Marc Normandin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday June 18, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Marc Normandin.


With his fingers on the pulse of BP's "Fantasy Beat," there's no better man to ask questions on what to do with what you've got, or want to get.

Marc Normandin: Afternoon folks. Glad to be here to talk baseball, even if it's pouring rain outside of my place. Baseball is the obvious topic of choice, but venturing into the realm of video games, music, or whatever form of entertainment tickles your fancy is fine by me too.

ndubby (sfo): Hey Marc, you came up as a friend suggestion on facebook. I've been getting some weird suggestions lately. That is all.

Marc Normandin: "Hey Marc, you came up as a friend suggestion on facebook. I've been getting some awesome suggstions lately. That is all."


John (DC): Do we have any statistical analysis of whether pitchers' performance is improved by certain catchers calling the game? I know the Times recently ran a story where Burnett was questioning Posada's game-calling, and the Orioles media has gone hog-wild with crediting Wieters for Brad Bergesen's recent improvements. Is this actually proven?

Marc Normandin: It's one of those things where I feel like we don't have enough information to gauge it one way or the other. There are too many variables involved, and the stats we can use to figure it out just don't do it for me. I think if a pitcher is comfortable with a particular catcher, and therefore is a bit more relaxed or focused on the mound, then let the dude have his catcher. Assuming he doesn't hit like Brad Ausmus of course.

I would love to see someone come out with a mind blowing study that tells us one way or the other, but I'm not the guy to do it.

Guancous (Silver Spring, MD): Thanks for the chat, Marc. Who will be the better 3B option in a 10 team/20 keeper league: Pablo Sandoval or Andy LaRoche? What are the odds LaRoche hits 20 homers in 2010?

Marc Normandin: I like Sandoval a lot. I have faith in LaRoche to be a pretty good third baseman, but Sandoval is going to be a scary hitter in his own right. I would stick with Sandoval if I had to pick one (and I did, Sandoval is catching for me right now).

dantroy (davis): Is Haren straight up for Ryan Howard a fair deal? Or should Haren net more? Also, are you higher on Lester or Lackey for the rest of the year? Thanks!

Marc Normandin: I'm loathe to trade high quality pitchers for hitters. Haren is like a 3.5 category pitcher (4 if the D'backs win some games for once) and Howard is more like a 2.5/3 cat guy. If you've got more pitching and are desperate for a bat, maybe, but I personally wouldn't.

mattymatty (Philly): OK, Marc, time to earn your money. What should the Red Sox do with their glut of starting pitching? Thanks for the chat.

Marc Normandin: Sorry about the delay everyone. Maintenance guy is here to fix the ceiling tile in the kitchen.

Realistically: Trade Penny, keep Smoltz in the rotation. I would like them to take it a step further though and let Dice-K know they aren't going to put up with his inability to work a count anymore. His contract doesn't allow him to be sent to the minors, so maybe the bullpen could use him. I know it seems like a lot of wasted money, but keeping him in the rotation to blow games is worse. Call up Buchholz, and see if he knows how to pitch in the majors.

JFerg (MD): Matt Weiters Homerun! Here we go! Are you as psyched as I am?

Marc Normandin: Honestly, Wieters can't dominate fast enough. I want the Blue Jays to trade for a big bat and for the Orioles to improve, and for the AL East to be a five-team race. Make it happen, guys!

YD (Philly): Hiya Marc. Thoughts on Smoltzie's return? Oh, and if you play shooters at all, Red Faction: Guerrilla is so much fun it should be illegal.

Marc Normandin: Smoltz is one of my favorite players. Having him in a Sox uniform is a nice little childhood dream come true for me.

I'm very, very picky about multiplayer shooters. I'm so picky that I still play Perfect Dark and Timesplitters 2 locally with friends, and occasionally a few rounds of Horde in Gears of War 2. That being said, I'm already hooked on Red Faction: Guerilla. The destruction elements are amazing, and add a whole new dimension to battling online. If you want to play sometime (and have XBL) my gamertag is mjn328...that goes for any of you by the way. My PSN username is also mjn328.

qbroda (Regina): Jair Jurrjens has been so-so recently. Should I be unloading him?

Marc Normandin: Nope. About the only thing he's done wrong his last few starts is lose, which isn't entirely on him. I like his component stats a lot still, and he's still doing better than in April. You kept him then, so why not now?

Nowhere Man (Strawberry Fields Orphanage): Marc, what did you think of the trailer for the Beatles guitar hero game? I feel like the trailer was so evocative the game itself has to pale in comparison. Is this kind of post-trailer letdown becoming the same kind of problem for games as it is for movies?

Marc Normandin: I'm not a big Beatles fan or anything, but after the introductory trailer, with the highly stylized Beatles, I was kind of disappointed by the gameplay trailer. I think trailers are actually going in the other direction for many games. We're getting teasers for teasers, or announcements of future announcements. Everything is in such a small amount that we can't wait to get our hands on a game when it finally comes out because we're so curious.

jobathebeast (Beverly Hills): What's with A-Rods batting average this year? Is there anything to show that he should bounce back?

Marc Normandin: He'll be fine. His BABIP is under .200, but he's driving the ball and swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone too.

JFerg (MD): I told my league when we finished drafting that Ricky Nolasco was the steal of the draft. Well to say the least I have been made fun of quite a bit. Can he salvage his season and become close to the player I was expecting when I took him?

Marc Normandin: Nolasco's driving me nuts, because his peripherals are fine, but he can't strand a baserunner to save his life. I'm hoping things even out, because having this much bad luck for a full year would suck.

Rob (Brighton): "...is an over 30 second basemen who's stretched at shortstop and can't really hit well enough to justify starting at either position." This statement most accurately describes: Nick Green, Julio Lugo, or both.

Marc Normandin: Both, but I have much less anger stored up for Nick Green at present.

Jake (Seattle): Does your reluctance to trade pitching for hitting extend to keeper leagues? I'm in a rebuilding mode and I've been offered Iannetta for Broxton (I get the catcher). I'm tempted. What say ye?

Marc Normandin: I think in keeper leagues I'm more likely to make the deals. Given how much people overrate closers, I'm fine with dealing them for regulars. Especially ones with a .276 ISO.

Sidebar: I'm listening to Drive like Jehu. What's everyone else got on? I stopped playing Ghostbusters on Wii (review tomorrow, I think) to hang out with you guys. What's everyone else been playing? Excited for upcoming releases?

Bartolo Curry (Aquamantically Inclined): Marc, I'm in the mood for some sushi. As a member of Baseball Prospectus, what do you recommend?

Marc Normandin: Sushi isn't my thing. I have nothing against it, I'm just not any help with recommendations. Can anyone help our friend here?

Travis (San Diego): Where do you stand on the idea of the Pads moving Adrian Gonzalez to the highest bidder? I fought it for a while, but I believe that it needs to be done in order to add solid young talent. I went to the game last night, and the only one of the starting nine that's above replacement level is AG. As a lifelong fan, it's quite depressing.

Marc Normandin: I hate to see him go, given how nice his contract is to that front office, but if they can pull in a megaton prospect or two--something the Padres desperately need--then you may have to. I haven't seen as many Padres games as I would like--moving out of Boston knocked me away from bars with any game I wanted on TV--so my depression has been relegated to scoreboards.

jbuofm (peoria): Great call on Perfect Dark! I hope you mean the N64 version. Just got a PS3 and I am looking for an RPG. Any suggestions?

Marc Normandin: The Xbox 360 version doesn't exist, as far as I'm concerned. The spiritual successor to the N64 Perfect Dark was the Timesplitters series, which was developed by a lot of the former Rareware employees that made Perfect Dark/Goldeneye for N64.

Perfect Dark is coming to Xbox Live Arcade this winter though, with 1080p support and a locked 60 frames per second. I don't think I can express how excited this makes me via text.

As for a PS3 RPG, there isn't a lot to choose from right now. Valkyria Chronicles is a strategy RPG, but it's also a top five PS3 game, easily. Eternal Sonata is great. Tales of Vesperia should be coming out soon as well, as is White Knight Chronicles (Level 5, made Dragon Quest XIII and Rogue Galaxy on PS2) and Demon Souls, which looks amazing.

Goldeye99 (Winnipeg): Hey Marc, thks for the chat! Addicted to Cross Edge on PS3 atm. When will the Jays realize that Vernon Wells should not be the centerpiece of their offence?? Any clues as to what is causing all their pitching injuries? Just fluke?

Marc Normandin: I think the Jays know he's not the centerpiece of their offense, but they also know they owe him a ton of money that he's most definitely going to make them pay. That contract was a laugh, even when he was good.

I think I would enjoy Cross Edge more if I had played all of the series that were represented in it. I'm assuming it's packed with fan service?

Joe Lefko (NJ): Ah PD64. One of my most satisfying video gaming moments was complete Challenge 18 with a few buddies of mine. King of the hill against a team of Elvis-es. And the farsight is still the all time best video game gun.

Marc Normandin: My most satisfying PD moment was me alone against two four-bot teams on the Dark Bot difficulty. I was reacting faster than bots designed to react faster than people.

I, um, played a lot of Perfect Dark as a kid.

JFerg (MD): You'd think I'd know how to spell Wieters since I was so psyched about his homerun.

Marc Normandin: Hey, it's cool. Your excitement got the better of you. I wish I knew what having a great catching prospect was like.

joe lefko (nj): is corey hart going to start stealing bases at some point this year? any idea why he's not (especially since he's been walking more)?

Marc Normandin: I honestly have no idea. His line would be so much more acceptable (a lot like McLouth) if he would just steal 20 bases. He was caught stealing a few times early, and I think it slowed down his attempts rate. Maybe he'll do more in the second half since he cooled off for a bit.

Bartolo Curry (Aquamantically Inclined): I thought all BPers knew everything about everything.

Marc Normandin: I know a lot about a lot of things, but I know less about even more than that.

Ben F. (California): I'm looking to pick up a free agent starting pitcher and Blanton, Kazmir, Kawakami, Mazzaro, and Wolf are all available. Who would you suggest?

Marc Normandin: I've stashed Kazmir away on my disabled list after he ruined my stats for two months. He supposedly altered his delivery to help his fastball out, so I think I would go for him if I were you. A healthy and effective Kazmir would be a big help for the next three months.

cjbuet (madison, wi): Wieters doesn't remind you in the least of A. Gordon? I have not been impressed with his bat speed (his Hr last night barely cleared the fence) and he has a long loopy swing. I think he will be good, but like Gordon, he just doesn't look like a super stud hitter to me with a swing like that.

Marc Normandin: I haven't seen much of Wieters, so I can't make that call. I do know that he's about two months younger than I am though, so I'm willing to cut him some slack, especially with a little over one season of pro ball under his belt.

Jonathan (New York): You can't go more than two days without another Ben Zobrist homerun. I'm on board and enjoying the ride, but wondered how good you think he really is.

Marc Normandin: Z is the man. He's hit .280/.378/.586 with a homer every 14.31 at-bats over his last 372 ABs. His current ISO of .368 might be a bit much, but replicating last year's production seems possible.

zszalewski (madison, wi): The Wieters homer was left handed to the opposite field and it barely looked like he hit it. Easy power if I've ever seen it!

Marc Normandin: A new challenger is approaching! What say you,cjbuet from Madison?

Greg (Connecticut): Generalizing from the Haren-Howard question, how do you go about properly valuing pitcher-for-hitter swaps in a roto league? Is it based on the number of categories in which they'll contribute? And how do you account for the hitters playing everyday? Is there even an effective way to quantify it without doing elaborate simulations?

Marc Normandin: I tend to think of it in the context of my team. If I'm heavy on pitching (and it's a one-year league with only so much time to deal and reap benefits from it) I don't mind giving one up for a hitter that helps me in an equal number of categories. Basically, the less pitching I have, the stingier I will get about the category ratio. This is all rule of thumb stuff though; I haven't done the math.

ODB (Pittsburgh): B.J. Upton hit a 420+ foot homerun a few nights ago. Is the power coming back?

Marc Normandin: He's been a league average hitter the past month or so, which isn't exactly what we're looking for but is much better than what he was giving us when he started the year. Hopefully this is a step towards being as awesome as we know he can be. C'mon B.J., your brother is starting to pick it up. Put a poster of Billy Ripken up on your wall for motivation or something.

Jerry Trupiano (Wayyyy back....wayyyy back.....to the warning trac): What happened to Pedroia's power? He's being outslugged by Ellsbury for pete's sake. Likewise, what happened to Loney's power (and average)?

Marc Normandin: He's seeing a lot more changeups this year, whereas last year those pitches were sliders. He doesn't do too well on changeups from right-handers, whereas on sliders it doesn't matter what side of the plate they have come from. That would be my guess.

cjbuet (madison, wi): to elaborate....I don't care for the high leg kick, all of the moving parts for such a big guy with a loopy swing, to me, would indicate there are going to be a lot of slumps. You can dominate AA, but as Gordon found out, the pitchers at this level are a bit more sophisticated.

Marc Normandin: I'm sure a hitting coach will mess with him eventually, if things don't work out. I think they are probably afraid of messing up the swing that gave him that Double-A line though.

Remember, I was pretty laid back when it came to Wieters this offseason, so you don't have to do much to convince me he won't be amazing (this year, anyways). In the future though, I have high hopes.

dianagramr (Cubehenge): Recommendations for a host site for one's fantasy league? Is Yahoo really the bee's knees, or is there another site that not enough people know about? (and thanks for the chat!)

Marc Normandin: I use Yahoo for all of my baseball leagues. I like the layout and the features you can get with it.

Jason (NY): The Wieters homer barely got out -- Endy Chavez would've hauled it in, that's for sure.

Marc Normandin: My love for Endy's glove knows no bounds.

tosaboy (Milwaukee): What kind of stats do you see Dexter Fowler putting up in two years? Are they high enough to make him an upper-tier fantasy option (points league)?

Marc Normandin: I don't know if he has the build to start putting up serious power numbers. PECOTA sees him as a sub .200 ISO guy during his peak years, which seems right to me. If he can cut down on the strikeouts, he will be a much more valuable bat, even without the homer power.

Minneapolitan (Chicago): Is anybody else getting sick of Joe Mauer trying to selfishly distract us from talking about Matt Wieters or Bryce Harper? Give it up, dude. Hitting like Barry Bonds isn't impressing anybody.

Marc Normandin: Mauer is so 2004. Give it up, old man.

Seriously though, Mauer's season has been pretty amazing so far. I'm not talking much about it, because I don't want to be responsible for jinxing it.

ted (the cubicle): What the heck happened to Kelly Johnson this year?

Marc Normandin: His BABIP isn't up to snuff. His power is the same as it was last year, and he's actually whiffing less often than in the past. That BABIP dipped 100 points though, despite a solid liner rate. He should bounce back, with some time.

Clint (Chicago): Speaking of Gordon, what can we expect out of Beckham the rest of the way? It looks like the White Sox don't think he has anything left to learn in the minors and are willing to see what he does on the big club.

Marc Normandin: He didn't spend enough time in Triple-A for my liking, and though his Double-A stats are good, I don't think they are exactly dominating, so I'm as unsure as you as to how he's going to do in the majors. "Cautiously optimistic" probably works here.

dianagramr (Cubehenge): Pablo "Panda" Sandoval ... given his body type and his hitting prowess, are we seeing the next Puckett, Gwynn, or is there another comp you like better for him?

Marc Normandin: Shall we take our customary vote on the question, everyone?

tommybones (brooklyn): Is Mark Reynolds for real?

Marc Normandin: Considering he's striking out in about 40% of his at-bats, I have a hard time believing it will last all year. It's not like he hasn't gone insane with his homers before, so I want to see some more of it before I christen him as consistently useful.

ericmilburn (San Francisco): Marc, you're always very methodical, realistic, and fact based in your assesment of future player performance. How about making a bold, gut-based prediction - right here, right now?

Marc Normandin: Hey, I appreciate that a lot. So I hope that means no one holds this against me. Jon Lester will win the AL Cy Young this year.

Ameer (B-town): Thanks for the chat! Is the new ballpark affecting him that much, or is David Wright ever going to start hitting homeruns again?

Marc Normandin: I think he should start hitting homers on the road again, but I think he's very aware of the fences at Citi Field. It may be forcing him to change his approach a bit, as far as what kinds of hits he tries for. His line is going to come down a bit--his success rate on flyballs and grounders is otherwordly--so I hope he starts to pick it up outside of Citi.

zszalewski (madison wi): Tell me that my man Choo is for real. After all, I've already changed my team name to Big League Choo.

Marc Normandin: Why not? He's not even hitting as well as he did in more at-bats last year. He looks like a tweener who makes up for it with loads of patience.

Joe Lefko (NJ): I'm holding that against you.

Marc Normandin: That's fine. He asked for something on the spot, so I gave it as little thought as possible. If he pitches to his FIP the rest of the year, he'll drop his ERA considerably while racking up strikeouts, and being on a team as competitive as the Sox would leave him with plenty of opportunities for W's.

Minneapolitan (Chicago): That's all fine and good with regards to Choo, but can you answer the really, really important question and explain why he wears a helmet with both earflaps?

Marc Normandin: Safety first!

r.j. (Not Boston): "I wish I knew what having a great catching prospect was like." Oh, cry me a river. Hearing a Boston fan complain is like hearing Trump complain about pooping into too many gold toilets.

Marc Normandin: Dude, those toilets must get cold in the winter.

DrDave (DC burbs): The Sandoval comp has to be Hector Villanueva...

Marc Normandin: C'mon guys and gals, this is the only vote we have besides the initial ones.

Dioner Navarro (Closet): What happened to me? And what about Russ Martin?

Marc Normandin: Maybe Martin saw his games played totals for the past two seasons and decided to bomb it so he could stop getting run into the ground.

JFerg (MD): Lester? Seriously?! Come on now. Now we know why you are methodical and realistic. Gut was probably always wrong for ya.

Marc Normandin: The beauty of "gut" predictions is that you can always wave them off as not being properly researched, and then say things like, "This is why I never trust my instincts!" It's really just a good way to avoid taking any lumps for your analysis.

Trevor (Norfolk): Marc, What kind of power/avg. would you expect from Sandoval in his prime? He's fine as a catcher this year, but can he have enough fantasy value as a third baseman moving forward?

Marc Normandin: Nothing wrong with a guy who can post a .200 ISO at third, especially if he displays the plus contact skills that Sandoval has.

JFerg (BP): It's gotta be Puckett.

Marc Normandin: Here's a vote for Puckett.

Richard (Athens, GA): Marc, I haven't been impressed much with Nate McLouth since the trade. What kind of final line do you think he puts up?

Marc Normandin: Probably the line he is at. I like McLouth, but last year was probably his best effort.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): I don't mind Mark Grace as a Sandoval comp. Gwynn & Puckett are too durned good yet; he's gotta earn thossens. Thoughts on Wandy moving forward this year?

Marc Normandin: Nomination for Grace. He's got a 3.74 FIP, and I love his peripherals. Always been a Wandy fan, so I would hold on to him.

Trevor (Norfolk): follow-up, you didn't give a number (ie. 25hr's .300 avg.), what do you think his prime will look like?

Marc Normandin: I'll throw my comp in to the ring, as far as performance and skills at the plate go: Nomar Garciaparra. Hit anywhere from .310 to .360, with 20-25 homers a year.

Looking for a Catcher? (Dallas): Clay Bucholz will fetch you a nice catching prospect (Salty, Teagarden, or Ramirez).

Marc Normandin: You stay away from my pitching prospect.

jacko (camden): Just bought a Wii; only have Sports and Play. What are the next three games I should pick up?

Marc Normandin: Depends on what you like. Here's a list for you, and feel free to e-mail me for more info:

Super Mario Galaxy
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Mario Kart Wii
Zack & Wiki
House of the Dead: Overkill
de Blob
Boom Blox Bash Party
No More Heroes
Excitebots: Trick Racing
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

There's also a Metroid Prime trilogy coming out this August for $50, with remakes of the first two games and the one that still sells for $50 on Wii now by itself.

tommybones (brooklyn): Is Buchholz for real... again? Or do we need to see it in the bigs again? Gotta like what he's doing.

Marc Normandin: He's much better in Triple-A this time around than last time, so I'm hoping his progress sticks.

Very quick lightning round here folks, I have to scurry away to my other gig in a few minutes.

JFerg (MD): Come on Pucketts career line of .318/.360/.477 is perfect for Sandoval. They both can rake, do not walk all that often and you can't help but compare there body size. How can Puckett not be the perfect comp for Sandoval.

Marc Normandin: Puckett is pulling away here. Last minute votes, people!

strupp (Madison): Marc, Which is more likely to happen: Brewers/Cards/Red slip back, the Cubs start hitting, some combination of the above? Is the first team to make a deal this year going to win the division?

Marc Normandin: I think the Cubs have the personnel to start hitting, but they are going to have a hard time getting through all three of those clubs I think. I'm not sure the trade market is going to bear much fruit this year either.

Steve (Cedar Falls, Iowa): Marc, what kind of line would you expect from Wieters for the rest of this year only.

Marc Normandin: .270/.350/.440

JFerg (MD): Can I have my own chat?

Marc Normandin: Not until you grow up.

Joe Lefko (NJ): What's the gig?

Marc Normandin: My second life as a video game journalist. I'm the gaming editor at Blast Magazine, and I have a slew of reviews I need to get in before next week. The Conduit is coming out, and I need to spend a lot of time with that. Plus, I have a fantasy article due tomorrow, so I need to balance that.

Heath (New Liskard, ON): Does Manny pick back up where he left off, or do you think he's a sell high candidate?

Marc Normandin: I think he keeps on being Manny at the plate. That winter relaxing on the beach didn't seem to bother him too much.

Bill (Boston): What do you expect from Quentin when he returns? Sounds like the White Sox are being very cautious. Is this the kind of injury that just won't go away?

Marc Normandin: You would have to ask Will about the nature of the injury. I'm a little worried though.

tommybones (brooklyn): Puckett

Marc Normandin: Looks like Puckett wins. You heard it here everyone: Sandoval = Puckett.

Rick (Chicago): Sandoval = Bob Hamelin. Seriously, why do people only like to explore upside comps?

Marc Normandin: I don't know, people yell at me when I'm negative.

Joe Lefko (NJ): ...So pretty much your typical day involves tons of video games and fantasy baseball. Sigh... (*continues working office job*)

Marc Normandin: While true, I chose two highly competitive fields where you need to catch a big break to stick. They both have their pros and cons. Video game journalism is pretty much volunteer work until a big company asks you to come on board. Then again, I've played through maybe 5 or 6 games this month already, and paid for none of them.

Taylor (Chicago): What's the deal with Soriano, time to cut bait?

Marc Normandin: Tough call. He's not doing much differently, except his balls in play aren't finding holes. I'd expect him to bounce out of it eventually. He's still got a lot of pop, even without the average.

Pablo (Venezuela): c'mon guys, I've got Lenny Dykstra written all over me.

Marc Normandin: Based on things I've read about Dykstra recently, I don't think anyone deserves that comp.

Marc Normandin: Well everyone, it's been fun, but I have to get going. As always, it was great chatting with you, and if there was something I didn't get to, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I'll do my best to get back to you. Enjoy the day's games--the ones that don't get rained out, anyways.

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