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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday July 01, 2009 2:00 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.


Whether it's transactions to analyze or game reports to write up, BP's Christina Kahrl is sure to have her own take on what's happening in the game.

Christina Kahrl: Howdy folks, here we are, tipping over into July, and there's activity to follow on the wires as well as the field. How 'bout them busy Buccos? My TA on the topic just went live on the site, hence my late arrival, for which I'm immensely sorry. That said, let's talk some baseball...

Dave (Chicago): What do you think Adrian Cardenas's ultimate position will be with the A's? The A's seem to love Ellis's glove and then they have Jemile Weeks waiting in the wings. Can Cardenas be a passable shortstop or hit enough to play third?

Christina Kahrl: I really worry that Cardenas is sort of the infield variant on an outfield tweener; his bat won't play at third, he can't play shortstop well enough to stick there, and while he's an interesting enough second-base prospect as such things go, Weeks has much more upside, and Ellis is locked in through 2010 with an affordable option for 2011. Even if Cardenas starts hitting at Sacramento, there's reason to wonder if he even has a window of opportunity.

mattymatty (Philly): Hope everything is OK, Ms. Kahrl.

Christina Kahrl: Broke me a finger and a toe on Sunday, the right-side pinkies in each instance, and in separate incidents no less. Typing nine-fingered makes for interesting issues, not to mention a cascade issue with my right index finger getting sore. But onward and upward...

SC (Minneapolis): Up is down, black is white, there's a BP article titled "The Hundred Years War" and you didn't write it!? What's next, the Nats will win a series?

Christina Kahrl: I was recently reading some of the recent suggestions that winning Agincourt didn't really amount to much in the grand strategic picture. I don't know what's more amusing, the reminder that people shouldn't get their history from Shakespeare, or the expected blubbering from Anglophiles saying it ain't so.

Aaron (YYZ): CK, what is up with the Rangers' crazy love for Saltalamacchia and ruination of Taylor Teagarden's development and/or trade value? Does one of them finally get traded away this summer?

Christina Kahrl: I really think the valuation of Teagarden was radically overstated in the first place. Guys you can't project to get on base at much more than a .300 clip and who also won't slug .400 aren't the sorts of "prospects" anyone should go looking for hoops to jump through over.

Phil (Silver Spring, MD): Are the Nationals the worst run team in baseball?

Christina Kahrl: It's certainly starting to look like it, but that's where we get into the perils of failing to learn from history. I'm sure the Lerners are good at some things; mucking around in a baseball organization doesn't seem to be one of them. Stan Kasten and Mike Rizzo might eventually get things turned around, but I guess I'm reminded of the lot of Gene Michael and so many other sharp front-office types in the '80s when trying to work around The Boss, or the debilitating infighting in the Orioles' organization during Clan Angelos' more activist period. You can be as smart as you like, if the buck doesn't stop with you, it's hard to turn things around.

Eric (Denver): Your last TA, you mentioned putting Eric Patterson in centerfield. Can he play there? I thought he was supposed to be god-awful in the field or is he just better than Sweeney is in center?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think anybody thinks Patterson would be a good center fielder; I guess my standard is that, with no shot at winning the division anyway, why not see if he's Jerry Mumphrey-level playable? Because I think the motor gave out on the Ryan Sweeney carousel years ago, assuming it was ever really installed properly in the first place.

jromero (seattle): What one move would put an NL Central team in the driver's seat? Was De Rosa enough? I still hold out hope that the Reds are going to get a bat, but I suspect I'm kidding myself.

Christina Kahrl: I think the division is the Cardinals' to win, even with the twin wild cards of sorting out what they'll get from Troy Glaus and Khalil Greene this season. If the answer is 'nothing,' that's where I begin to wonder if the Brewers won't take a chance and add a starting pitcher. That said, if they entertain offers from Alcides Escobar, here's hoping that they get a hurler under contract through at least 2010.

Scott (Atlanta): Braves news today in the AJC that Prado is replacing Kelly Johnson in the starting lineup. What's your best guess as to who (if anyone) the Braves deal - Johnson, Francoeur, or someone else?

Christina Kahrl: I think it's a lot more likely that they get value for Johnson, because even if--aside from that final flurry to redeem his '08--he's shown us all he's got in terms of upside, people will want a lefty-batting second baseman with some pop a lot more than they'll want a complete clutterbuck of a former prospect.

Dougie4512 (Strongsville, OH): Piggybacking the NL Central question, would it be too radical to move JJ Hardy (assuming his long slump is over) for an arm and insert Escobar as the SS or is he not yet ready?

Christina Kahrl: That would be an exceptionally tough call to make, but in part that's because I haven't given up on Hardy, and while I like Escobar, I don't think he'll ever approach what Hardy's been able to do. That said, teams have won titles with rookies at shortstop, whatever the more sportswriterly canards on the subject might say. Either way, that's the best chit the Brewers have to bargain with, and in a marketplace where any premium prospect seems to be worth his weight in gold, it's one worth trying, because other than the Dodgers, the NL field looks vincible.

Jeff (Canada): The media in Toronto have suggested that the Jays may try to trade(give) away Rios or Wells inorder to free up money to re-sign Halladay, do you see any potential suitors? source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/baseball/jays-may-finally-act-on-slumping-stars/article1200104/

Christina Kahrl: The problem is how much money it might free up, because nobody's going to deal for either without the Jays paying a good percentage of their remaining salaries, and not that many teams would want to make that investment on any level.

Eli (Brooklyn): With Nady out and Matsui breaking down, how badly do you think the yankees need another bat, post-Hinske? And do you think with his durability issues, Hughes's future is in the pen?

Christina Kahrl: It would make sense for them to try and replace what Nady would have been good for, in that it seems to me this team could use some lefty-mashing slugger to pair off with Hinske in the DH slot, especially if Godzilla implodes entirely. As far as Hughes and the pen, it seems to me like a lovely fit for the time being. I don't think we can say anything compelling about his durability "issues" since we're talking about a fairly small number of starts. It seems to me that, staying in the pen or perhaps only spot-starting now and again if any of the front five break down again, he's going to wind up with somewhere around 100-120 IP between the majors and the minors. He just turned 23. I figure folks might want to settle down and take the long view as far as the kid's career.

dpv (tn): Christina: I can't post BP Idol suggestions since I am not a subscriber, but I think an interesting forum would be for each contestant to host a chat (just like this one). It would provide different information than another article would and is a skill that one would like to have (re: hosting a good chat) in a BP writer. Just my two cents...

Christina Kahrl: While we're squared away for topics, I do think this would be fun. The problem I have is that I think all of them are engaging writers and thinkers in the first place, so it wouldn't really set any one of them apart. It's a great group in what has been a tremendous field. I was more than a little sad to see Brian Oakchunas get voted off in this latest round, understanding that while somebody had to go, I've enjoyed so much of what I've read that I don't really enjoy the dynamic of excusing some of the competitors.

jbuofm (Peoria): Do you have any insight on who the PTBNL in the DeRosa deal could be? Also, why did they use a PTBNL at all?

Christina Kahrl: I think I trust the rumors that it'll be either Jess Todd or Francisco Samuel (relievers both), as John Perrotto related today. However, the Indians are currently at 39 on the 40-man, and they'll be re-adding Jake Westbrook from the 60-day DL sometime in the near future, which means they don't really have space to add Todd (who's already rostered) without then also having to subsequently cut someone once Westbrook gets reactivated. The options as far as who the PTBNL might be might also change, depending on the outcome of the Cardinals' season.

JB (Fulton County): Which injured Chicago player ends up with a better year end line, Aramis or The Carlos Quentin?

Christina Kahrl: Aramis.

Rob (Andover, CT): Said lefty-smasher would need to be appreciably better than Shelley Duncan for it to be worth the Yankees while to trade prospects and/or pay more money to get this player. Duncan isn't good, but one thing he can apparently do is hit some dingers off of LHP. If all we're talking about is a righty part of a part-time platoon spot, gosh... what do you really want to give up for that?

Christina Kahrl: Not much more than the nothing thrown at the Pirates to pry Hinske loose.

Aaron (YYZ): So wait, a strong walk rate and power, poor contact rate, gold glove caliber defense is NOT a valuable catching prospect?

Christina Kahrl: Most of that power was in the Cal League. We're talking about a guy who's more likely to wind up being Tom Prince than Ron Karkovice.

jake (vegas): i read the BP morning write up on Chris Carter comparing him to another jack cust, you agree?

Christina Kahrl: Maybe he falls into something on a team that's first baseman-less and mired in the bottom end of the Hit List, but unless he learns how to hit pitches that wiggle, I'm a bit dubious as far as his ultimate upside. Stranger players have gotten multi-year opportunities (Ken Harvey, anyone?), but first basemen who don't rip everything against everybody wind up having catch-as-catch-can careers.

Mike (Niles, IL): Not that the Cubs of Jays would do this, but who comes out better in a Vernon Wells for Alfonso Soriano trade?

Christina Kahrl: Toronto. They're both signed through 2014, so it basically boils down to which guy I'd rather have. I guess I'd have to pick Soriano, but the picking gets made a gunpoint.

eric (philly): Any confidence in gio gonzalez replacing the now tj surgery josh outman?

Christina Kahrl: Almost none whatsoever. Gonzalez still has promise, of course, but he's not going to have a nice run the way that Outman did. Essentially, the A's get to run kids under 25 out there like it was one of those old videos of baby turtles making a break for the sea after hatching. There's going to be a relatively high casualty rate, but the theory is that enough of them make it to the water that the A's have a future. Ideally one that involves something better than mere propagation.

Rick in Boise (uh...): Ages ago, I got to chat with Woody Hayes -he said military history was invaluable for sports but, BUT... there were "lessons" take away that were horribly wrong. So when you hear/read people trying to apply mil history to sports, what do folks get consistently wrong?

Christina Kahrl: They spend too much time getting worked up over the glory-hogging headliners, and not enough reading Martin Van Creveld to get a sense of how much the underlying logistic achievements that project success matter. I guess that's not really that different from how the sports media tend to function, come to think on it...

ChuckR (Addison, IL): Any truth to the rumor that your broken digits were the result of fist-fights in the stands at the Cubs-Sox games on Sunday? Nothing like a Cubs-Sox game brawl!

Christina Kahrl: The first involved my trying to get water for my dog at a parade, the second came from tripping over her later than evening. Now, since the dingo is the perfect canine, I have to put the blame on myself for these things, although come to think on it, she's also a party to the time I skewered my forearm on a shattering ceramic mug doing a face plant when she took my legs out from under me... I guess it's all fun and violence on the home front.

Tim (Wash DC): Yikes, Nats just sent Dukes down to AAA. They really might be the worst organization in baseball.

Christina Kahrl: Oh, man, that just hurts. And Austin Kearns gets to keep playing Gilligan to Dunn's Skipper? That's just wrong.

eric (sacramento): As an A's fan i'm tired of cabrera/crosby, they are horrible. I see cliff pennington in AAA doing well, any chance he can be a starting SS in the ryan theriot/pre 09 bartlett type till grant green is ready?

Christina Kahrl: I'd certainly rather see that, although admittedly is of a piece with my scientific curiosity as far as Eric Patterson's utility. If Pennington can play short well enough in the interim, that's better than winding up with the odd Cesar Izturis type, which at this point given Cabrera and Crosby's feckless performances, seems relatively like high-grade feck to me.

beta461 (SF): How real are the Giants?

Christina Kahrl: Very. It's easier to find offensive help than get a pitching staff you're comfortable with. I'm interested in seeing which direction they take this. See if Brandon Wood could be a latter-day Matt Williams? Get Elijah Dukes in time for Jeff Leonard Bat Day? Audition the most foul-mouthed first basemen who are active to get themselves a Will Clark flashback? Beats me, but they really need to do something and take that shot at the NL Wild Card seriously.

rawagman (Toronto): It's Canada Day - can we get some scoop for what might be in the works (besides the obvious and already stated) for BP Idol fallout?

Christina Kahrl: Canada Day? I'm thinking it's the 146th anniversary of the first day of Gettysburg.

mglick0718 (Oakland): Seems to me that under almost any injury-recovery circumstance that occurs, the Mets are better off with hold-and-pray rather than trying to deal for one or two starters to try to salvage the season. I suppose if 4 of their 6 key DL residents (Beltran, Reyes, Maine, Perez?) return right after the ASB and are effective they might wish they had reinforcements, but more likely a trade is an expensive fool's errand. Yes?

Christina Kahrl: I still think they're better off tying to find a starting pitcher who might help for the stretch run, because I don't think they can count on Livan Hernandez or John Maine, let alone Oliver Perez; that sounds like an October rotation that gets beat. So they can hold-and-pray, sure, but I'd rather they tried to do the most they might with their opportunity.

don (lansing): Man oh man, does any first place team have more problems than the tigers? Can they gut it out and win the central this year?

Christina Kahrl: Absolutely, but that's tallest-midget territory on the competition scale.

tommybones (brooklyn): Shameless fantasy question... does Nunez keep the closer role in Florida?

Christina Kahrl: It's certainly possible that he'll eventually wrest the job away from Matt Lindstrom during the latter's absence, but it's also not entirely in his control.

beta461 (SF): How likely is it Jonathan Sanchez is the new Oliver Perez?

Christina Kahrl: Matters do seem to be making that sort of turn, don't they? Even so, we might say the same about Andrew Miller after consecutive bad outings.

Tanner (Toronto): Christina, Will the BP writers ever come up this way? It's a beautiful city and you guys have quite a following here!

Christina Kahrl: I'd certainly relish the opportunity, because I hear no end of good things about Toronto, and having enjoyed Kingston and Quebec, I figure Canada + baseball has to equal good times. Of course, I'd probably say the same about Ulan Bator + baseball, but I expect we have a lot more fans in Toronto, and we shouldn't ignore you guys.

Tim (Toronto): Thriller or Off The Wall? I say Off The Wall.

Christina Kahrl: I guess it's a matter of taste, but I was so much more into New Wave than I ever gave a hoot about the gloved one.

Nick (Portland): With the injury to Beltre have you changed your mind about the Mariners' chances this year? Do you see anyone else on that roster besides Washburn and Bedard who'd be available and useful to a contender?

Christina Kahrl: Yep, I have to say that article's utility died within 15 or 20 seconds of that news as far as Beltre. Now I say burn, baby, burn, and see what you can grow from the ashes.

derek (los angeles): daric barton a bust or overrated? He's losing Abs to Giambi, Nomar, etc. any hope he can be a kotchman, loney type?

Christina Kahrl: Cue Colonel Kurtz, because if we're dreaming of a day when Barton's upside involves visions of Kotchmanesque utility, all I can mutter is, "the horra, the horra." I would hope there would be, but at that point, we're into talking just-another-guy guys at first base, the people who lose their jobs to the next guy up from Sacramento.

warclub (Strongsville, OH ): Do you think there is any market for Kelly Shoppach? Also, why won't the Tribe call up LaPorta and let him play?

Christina Kahrl: There should be, yes, although it won't be of the same range of value as it might have been during the offseason; not that he's Ed Hearn, but you weren't going to get a top prospect even then. As far as LaPorta, I'm at a loss.

mattymatty (Philly): First day of Gettysburg? I scoff! The third day is where it's at (where it was...?). What is the best account of Gettysburg you've read?

Christina Kahrl: Besides Coddington's still-valuable history of the entire campaign, you can't go wrong with any of Pfanz' volumes on the various elements of the battle.

Joe (LA): Maybe Barton can join Dan Johnson in Japan.

Christina Kahrl: I don't know if the Japanese would have him. Unless he goes back to wearing the mohawk and that engenders some sort of Brad Lesley-like fascination in Barton over there.

nstampe (Madison): The last Pirates trade got mixed review. They fair any better this time?

Christina Kahrl: Absolutely, but that's because I'm not part of the gaggle of folks who are making overly elaborate assertions about fielder's value as a reflection of over-developed man-crushery on defense. As I wrote today, taking a chance on Milledge's upside might not win any citizenship awards, but like the Tabata deal, it's an interesting and worthwhile risk to take when all you're giving up is a cookie-cutter speed guy.

don (lansing): Studio scrapped the moneyball movie: disappointed or relieved?

Christina Kahrl: Did they really? I guess I'm indifferent and amused that we live in a world where an out-and-out stunt like Jim Morris gets a baseball movie when there are so many other, better, worthwhile, genuine stories worth making a movie about.

Auggie (Anaheim): What's your take on Pablo Sandoval, is this what we can expect from him moving forward? Also, is there a better nickname for him than Kung Fu Panda?

Christina Kahrl: I don't think we should expect him to slug in the .550s indefinitely, but the guy can rake, yes. Hrm... "Human Flesh Hydrant" probably isn't flattering, but if we translate it into Japanese, that could be a lot cooler than "Kung Fu Panda."

shamah (NYC): Where does the Killer Angels rank on your Gettysburg book list?

Christina Kahrl: Low, but still enjoyable and worthwhile. It's fiction, gets a few major things about the battle wrong, and comes with a bit too much of reflexive R.E. Lee worship for me to really rate it any higher than that.

Sam (Boston): My co-worker keeps trying to convince me that Brett Gardner is the same player as Jacoby Ellsbury. He can't be right, can he?

Christina Kahrl: While at first blush that might sound like the sort of deliberately noxious proposition to put people off their feed, it's closer than you might think.

Rick in Boise (droptimism@yahoo.com): Movies- another great "Idol" topic. Or for a BP RoundTable? What are the truly great stories that YOU would make (if God gave you a studio)???

Christina Kahrl: The life of Billy Martin, for starters. Have Scorsese direct it or not, but that would just be the sort of viewing experience that--as long as it also did the baseball element well--would just be an epic tale of achievement and genius and failure and waste, with doses of sex, violence, and drinking.

pete (chicago): Give me the team and return for matt holliday by end of july? any brett wallace, yuni escobar type returns?

Christina Kahrl: I hope not Brett Wallace, he'd just add another body to the pile of first base-ish sort of hitter-y sorts of hitters who might be something, and more likely help Sacramento win another title than Oakland. I'd rather see what they might get flipping him for something with better upside from the Mets or Giants (hell, see if that gets you San Jose's territorial rights).

Jay (LA): Can we all get off Riccardi's case a little for picking Romero? He is having an outstanding year. Can he continue or is this a bit fluky?

Christina Kahrl: I think we're already off the case on that particular subject, for cause, although Romero's performance does seem to have the benefit of some nice breaks in terms of the quality of the opponents he's drawn.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Sending Dukes down now to try and get his swing back (he's hitting negative .150 the last month) isn't bad. After the trade deadline, when you realize Kearns is still on your team, cutting him loose and bringing Dukes back up is just what you have to commit yourself to do. But the act of sending Dukes who is lost down in July isn't a bad thing.

Christina Kahrl: The guy's really just had an execrable two weeks, and I don't see that as cause for getting sent down, not on this club, and not considering who gets to stay. I guess I worry and wonder about Dukes' range of possible responses to what is, in effect, an almost pointlessly punitive demotion.

Mike (Queens): Moe Berg would make a great movie.

Christina Kahrl: Absolutely. Or the AL pennant race of 1920. Or the 1986 postseason. Or the life and times of Casey Stengel.

Dennis (Monterey Park, CA): Hi Christina, thanks for the chat. Brad "The Animal" Lesley, now that name brings back memories... Just wanted to ask how you evaluate the potential of minor leaguers. Do you like looking at numbers or do you look more towards "tools"? If you were running an organization, would you like, say, college players with good OBPs or athletes who still need to learn baseball skills but with higher ceilings?

Christina Kahrl: I like to think I'm a little bit smarter than I was 10 or 15 years ago, in terms of accepting that it has to involve a blend of both; there is nothing more pointlessly artificial and uninformative "debate" than the media-generated "stats vs. scouts" divide. The industry has effectively moved over to employing both, and shouldn't favor one to the exclusion of the other. Having seen far too many "polished" players stay shiny in Triple-A, I guess I'm more intrigued by the proposition of gunning for the high-upside guys.

Bill (New Mexico): More on the DeRosa PTBNL: I realize this is more in Kevin's space than yours, but who's a "fair" PTBNL that leaves the trade looking more or less balanced? If the Cardinals part with Todd, I'd claim that they "lose" the deal; Samuel, maybe not so much.

Christina Kahrl: I don't really see that as a loss for the Cardinals either way; we're talking about a couple of relievers. Good relievers are nice things to have, certainly, but you can find those. If DeRosa helps the Cardinals deal with that infield's shortages in terms of talent and staffing, and they win the division, it was worth it, and given that's the proposition, I think it was worth it from the instant they made the move. If Jess Todd logs 300 saves, you can feel free to beat me around the head with that, of course. ;)

strupp (madison): CK, thanks for the chat. Going into the ASB, what do you think has been the the most underreported or underrated story in the MLB season so far?

Christina Kahrl: The skimming scandals? That's just vile, but others' mileage may vary.

buffum (Austin TX): Carl Pavano appears to have recovered from his "dead arm" period and is back to being a decent starter who can get you into (maybe through) the 7th: if a team traded for him, would they be on the hook for his innings-based incentives? How much would Cleveland have to kick in to get an asset for Pavano? (I am on a crusade: it worked with Mark DeRosa.)

Christina Kahrl: I hear what you're saying, Steve, but one good start in a row does not a decent starter make, and his previous three times out, he didn't get through six innings.

At any rate, I suspect it's the kind of complication that the Indians might have to add cash to for the right to make Pavano somebody else's problem.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): What do you think of the trio of Nats' AAA Syracuse starters who have been killing the last month - Colin Balester, J.D. Martin and Garrett Mock? Any of them have a real future in the majors?

Christina Kahrl: Balester's on a consecutive quality start streak of six, Mock's at three, and Martin's managed it in nine of 13 turns. That said, Mock and Martin both aren't all that durable and are more organizational types; I'd like to see Balester taken more seriously, but with guys like Stammen and Martis in the mix, the Nats make some strange choices in terms of who they favor.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Hi Christina: As I look around the O's it seems that Huff is the most attractive position player the O's should be willing to deal, and Sherrill the most attractive pitcher. Is there a market for them, and what would you expect them to bring in return?

Christina Kahrl: Howdy Tom, I'd have to say there's absolutely a market for both, but my hope is that the Orioles don't overvalue them. Sherrill's the sort of arb-eligible guy a team might think twice about as far as tendering him or not, while Huff's a depreciating asset whose value is best leveraged in the next 31 days. The organization's doing great in terms of cranking out pitching talent; let's see if they can bundle these kinds of veterans for a position player they can use.

JJ (Miami): Emilio Bonicacio plays because ______? He is the worst everyday player, no?

Christina Kahrl: I have to wonder at times if some teams watch themselves play. Bonifacio's a utility infielder if you're given to the Larry Lintz types, but he was miscast as an everyday player in January. Some teams need to shake off their off-season reveries.

dianagramr (NYC): Have you started working on your speech for the SABR Convention yet?

Christina Kahrl: Hi Diana, as a matter of fact I have. The topic's something I haven't really ever ventilated, but is one that I have always meant to.

Mike (Chicago): Is Randy Wells a flash in the pan, a nice story for a team in a down year, a permanent solution to a rotation spot, none of the above?

Christina Kahrl: If your definition of which rotation slot he solves is "fourth starter," I figure he can be all three at once.

Gunpuddy (Nashville, TN): Maybe you've covered this elsewhere, but what do you think of the Pirates' strategy of trading for quantity over quality? Does such a strategy make for a quality organization in the long run? Couldn't they have gotten better--but fewer--prospects for McLouth?

Christina Kahrl: I've written about this before, and I'm not really a fan of how this is working out. Not that I envy Neal Huntington and company any--whatever activity happens at the big-league level in terms of transactions, if they've got three unquestionably good players to show for these trades left to brag about in four years, that'll be quite the accomplishment. I have my doubts.

SC (Minneapolis): Tallest midget question: Given that anything can happen in short series, which AL Central contender do you think most likely to win the pennant?

Christina Kahrl: Wow, that would take so many predicates in terms of matchups to ponder, but I guess it would boil down to whether or not any of them could get insanely good work out of their first two starters. That might seem like a Royal-oriented answer because any proposition that starts with Greinke sounds good, but I guess I like the suggestion of the Tigers having Verlander plus Porcello or Jackson better than the Royals' Greinke/Meche or the White Sox' Buehrle... Danks? propositions.

Stephanie (DC): If I'm Andrew Friedman, I don't bother making a trade for a bullpen arm, feeling comfortable with the guys I've got and the depth of AAA. Do you agree/disagree, and why?

Christina Kahrl: I agree, because there's enough stuff here to win as is. It's interesting to speculate what might come from dangling Kazmir, but for the month to come I figure the Rays can afford to answer the phone instead of actively dialing it.

E (B): I haven't heard a lot of noise about what a great year Scott Rolen is having. Do you think this performance is sustainable while he's healthy, or is he just hit-lucky?

Christina Kahrl: It's not really all that noise-worthy, but it is interesting, sort of like Brook Jacoby's last good season, or Carney Lansford's willful transmogrification into a contact hitter. I don't see these things as obvious positives, just interesting. If hitting this way helps Rolen stay healthy enough to contribute, maybe he erases some of the frustrations with the challenge trade. Still, less is less, and what he's doing these days is less than he's been able to do in his career. Maybe it's an interesting suggestion that player aging patterns might revert to older, pre-PED forms.

jwillie (Mpls, MN): What is your guess on what happens with Holliday? The A's will deal him..won't they?

Christina Kahrl: I really think that they have to, yes.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Of the Orioles 11 top prospects, as picked by Kevin, 4 are already up and contributing (Wieters, Reimold, Hernandez, and Berken). Bergeson wasn't even listed, and he's pitching the best of the bunch. None of the big 3 pitching prospects (Tillman, Arrieta and Matusz) hae even made an apperance. When do we start seeing the cream of the pitching in Baltimore?

Christina Kahrl: Beyond a few September cameos, I really think the answer is next year.

Geoffrey (Boston, MA): I have been reading reports out of Chicago calling for the ousting of Big Z because of his attitude. This seems insane. Is this the dumbest non-story of the last 2 weeks? And maybe Lou is the real problem in Wrigleyville? But the media love him (yet he behaves similarly).

Christina Kahrl: It's one of the more dumb non-stories, yes, but that's what too many people in sports media prefer to glom onto--quote inflation. (And people complain about TMZ, tch tch.) You know, instead of writing about events and ballgames and such. Historical facts. Damnably dull, those things. Why, spinning, re-spinning, anti-spinning, and triple-axle yojimbo spinning is what's going to keep people buying newspapers for certain. Yesirreebob.

Uncle Rhett (Dayton, OH): If the Reds aren't going to go after anyone, so they instead become sellers, and if so, whom do they shop and what do they look for in return? Also, going to France this week--really just Paris and Normandy. Been to Les Invalides before, but what else would you recommend seeing? Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: Encarnacion's injury issues make it hard to flip him, but the questions over his ultimate upside and whether he should play third for anybody should encourage the shopping of him. They could probably peddle Bronson Arroyo to a starter-needy near-contender for something of value, and I'd be willing to bundle David Weathers and Arthur Lee Rhodes if they wanted to avoid making early-October plans.

As for France, if you want to see a hint at what Tolkien described as Mordor, and want a general freak-out between the creepy vibe (not just at the Ossuary), go to Verdun. Knocking around the Ardennes is interesting. I'd also make a trip to Brussels, because the lay of the land at Waterloo is quite instructive (even with the Lions' Mound ruining one side of it), and the various Royal Museums in town are excellent, especially the King's collection of Flemish masters.

JBB (NB): BP Idol has been a lot of fun. What aspects of BP Idol do you think could have been done better?

Christina Kahrl: Especially early on, we should have had someone in something of a Tim Gunn-like role (I know, I'm mixing my reality TV examples, so be it), to work with the writers in terms of expectations, helpful suggestions, and the like. The 10 contestants really have had to rough it, and they have all been impressive in their ability to muscle through and do interesting work. They deserve our respect and support in their future endeavors.

Christina Kahrl: With that, I really should call it a day. The dog needs to be taken out for a good play session, there's the NL West's moves to write up at long last, and plenty more to work on. I thank all of you for dropping by and for the questions, and hope you enjoy the games between now and the next time I'm in this space.

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