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Chat: Steven Goldman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday August 13, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Steven Goldman.


Whether you want to talk about the game's past or present, Steven Goldman's willing to look it up and provide you with the answer to any and every question.

Steven Goldman: Good Thursday to you, Pilgrims. Steven Goldman, BP Contributing Editor here to take you through what is a dark and stormy day here in the finest part of the Northeast, the Garden State. Got my Earl Grey for my daily bergamot fix, trying to figure out whether to listen to Big Star, the Pogues, or Handel (it's all handy), and the Yankees are in first place and with a loss this afternoon, the Royals will be on a pace for a 62-100 season, so all is right in the world. Let's begin.

Marcus (Silver Spring): Zimmerman finally seems to be getting it so who's better over the long run Evan Longoria or Ryan Zimmerman?

Steven Goldman: I think they're very different players,and before we conclude that Zimmerman has taken a step forward, I want to see if he's really going to hold on or if this is another of his hot streaks that has fooled us before. Given Longoria's advantage in age and greater power potential, I think it more likely that he'll pop 40 HRs and take 80 BBs at some point. I still don't know if Zim is going to get there... Putting aside the fact that he was associated with Hal Chase, who has had the highest peak value among the Zimmermans - Heinie or Ryan (Bob Dylan is not a valid answer)?

Bonds Fan (Bay Area): If Hal Chase were to play today would he be as celebrated for his defense at first base? Has the first base position changed a lot from the times of Hal Chase? It feels strange to read so much praise for a first baseman's defensive play. I'm probaly just bitter I couldn't find a publisher for my poem about Derrek Lee. Also, have you read the article about Ernie Lombardi in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract? One of the best articles I have ever read.

Steven Goldman: And with that mention of Hal Chase... Yes, the position has changed very dramatically in that the bunt is something that you have to worry about only rarely (in the AL) or a few times a game (in the NL). In Chase's day, the bunt was a possibility on every play, so the mobility of the first baseman was much more important. Keith Hernandez was deservedly celebrated for his defense in his day, as was Don Mattingly, and Doug Mientkiewicz has squeezed a few extra years out of his career out of being a gloveman, and I suppose Tony Muser could always get another job, so there's probably still room for a defensive star at the position... I have read the Lombardi essay, which was carried over from the original version of the book. I would love to know what Lom's line drive rates were.

Jake (St. Louis): All right, Steve, what is your forecast for the St. Louis Cardinals from here until their season ends, whenever that may be?

Steven Goldman: I think they're going to hold on and win the division, and their pitching is strong enough that they could surprise in the playoffs. I'm also fascinated by Matt Holliday's post-acquisition hot streak, which is now over 80 PAs, shades of Cesar Cedeno in 1985. I do worry about the pitch-to-contact propensities of everyone except Wainwright and Carpenter if forced to face a superior offense, and you'd like to see them heat up one more bat, but it doesn't seem like that's going to happen at this late date. Losing Glaus has really hurt - .222/.291/.376 from Cards' 3Bmen this year.

Yankee7777@hotmail.com (Florida): Hi Steve, Always enjoy your prospective on baseball matters. Here is an old question I have never figured out. In 1904 the yankees(highlanders)lost the pennant by 1.5 games but played 3 less games. If they made up those games and won all 3 then they would have tied for first. Any idea why the games were not played.

Steven Goldman: These kinds of basic ideas about fair play were still being worked out, and of course Baseball (cap intentional) has often been about doing what's expedient instead of what's fair. The same thing happened to the Red Sox in 1972, when they lost the AL East to the Tigers by half a game--there had been a labor conflict at the start of the season and it was decided that the games wouldn't be made up regardless of how it affected things. Brilliant.

Neil (NJ): If you're Ruben Amaro, what do you do with Mike Taylor next year?

Steven Goldman: The whole outfield is locked up (Ibanez through 2011, Werth through 2010, and Victorino under club control). Given that Taylor will only have had a short time at Triple-A by the end of the month, it seems to me that he goes back to the IronPigs and waits for the inevitable injury.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Do contending teams like the Yankees look forward with anticipation to playing struggling teams like the Orioles, or is there some sense of dread of embarrassment if they are not successful?

Steven Goldman: We seem to be short of a quorum today. I blame it on my choice of the Handel. I think I'm going to switch to Robyn Hitchcock. Let's have some chatter out there! Can we get a "Hey batter!" in memory of John Hughes?

"Look forward" may not the be the right term. The challenge for front-running teams is to not take any opponent for granted. Look at this week's Yankees-Mariners match-up. It's a mismatch on paper, because the Mariners can pitch some but can't hit at all, and yet they're 10-10 in the last 20 games based on seven one-run wins, several against good teams. The M's have a weapon in their pen -- even bad teams can hurt a good team if the situation is right, so you have to not play out of dread of losing, but with a knowledge that every game is its own challenge.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Now that ZimmermanN is out for a year plus, who do you think will be the third best pitcher on the Nats next year?

Steven Goldman: Does Strasburg sign? Seems like all else waits on that...

Tim (Tampa): Much has been made about the choices of contracts given to Blue Jays players since J.P. Ricciardi has become GM, yet he still has his job. Considering the Blue Jays change in ownership, what would stop the new owner from releasing him from his duties and allowing the Blue Jays to start over?

Steven Goldman: Perhaps JP represents himself well on the inside and has presented some exculpatory evidence, like blaming the previous ownership for some of those crazy contract calls. The other thing that's sort of an out is saying that he's been reacting to the failures of the farm system to present very much on offense until quite recently - Lind, Hill (who didn't look like this kind of hitter as a prospect), and perhaps Snider -- who should be up right now. It's an embarrassment having Joe Inglett in right field. I guess overall you should never underestimate inertia as a motivating (is that any oxymoronic usage there?) factor in large organizations.

Eli (Brooklyn): Is Sergio Mitre the pitching equivalent of Cody Ransom? Why won't the Yankees just switch Joba and Hughes, to maintain the innings limits on both?

Steven Goldman: Hi, Eli. As a 28-year-old sinker guy, Mitre actually has a lot more value than Ransom given that he's younger and these grounder guys seem to be better in their 30s than in their 20s. That said, it's clear that his time is not now, if it's ever going to come, and the Yankees are taking their postseason spot for granted by pitching him. The Joba/Hughes thing is more complicated, because there's just not that much time left in the season to stretch out Hughes. Remember how long it took before they were ready to start Chamberlain last year. It was endless. Hughes has also been so effective out of the pen that you risk messing with something that's really working right now.

Joe (Tewksbury, MA): no batter no batter suh-WING batter!!! What do you think of the idea that great pitchers (and I'm thinking of Smoltz here) need to be pushed violently to the curb before they accept that they're done? I've always felt that the ego needed to become a star is what keeps these guys around the game until they just have nothing left (Carlton being the best example).

Steven Goldman: Thanks for the Hughes shout-out, Joe. You might be right about ego, but these guys can only pitch as long as they have accomplices in teams willing to give them one more shot. Beyond that, most athletes have a hard time letting go -- I know if someone told me tomorrow that I could no longer do what I'm good at and what I love, I would struggle with finding a new identity for quite awhile... One of the great exceptions was Joe DiMaggio, who was prideful enough to stop almost the moment he slipped.

rawagman (Toronto): Steven, What would have to occur for the AL East hegemony of NYY/Bos to be broken up? Are there any historical parallels? Barring that, what's to stop Big Bud to add two more franchises to the league and move to a 4-division format? Thanks

Steven Goldman: Last thing first: the economy, followed by a dearth of slam-dunk hometowns, followed by a team or two like the Athletics, who might need to move before you start bringing in new organizations, followed by the concept that coming up with another 50 quality major leaguers a year might really (finally) demean the quality of play... In 1939, the AL passed a rule saying that no team could trade with the current pennant-winner. This was designed to hurt the Yankees, who had won for four straight years. It kind of missed the point that the Yankees were built internally. The Tigers then went out and won the 1940 pennant, and no one could trade with them, which wasn't the point at all, so the rule was quickly abolished... The Yankees and Red Sox have great resources, but as we have seen with both teams, all the division needs to pass them by is to be smarter at a point when those organizations don't have their thinking caps on.

Asinwreck (Chicago, IL): Which Hitchcock? Alex Rios's contract was the largest to ever go through a waiver claim, but I wonder how much it could compare to the selling off of players (most famously Ruth, but also the Connie Mack tear-downs) during periods of economic instability between the wars? Are those precedents in some way for what we saw this week?

Steven Goldman: All of the Hitchcock, actually. I have most of his catalog ripped to my computer and just clicked "play all." The current tune is "The Man With the Light Bulb Head," so I guess we're on "Fegmania!" Your parallels to the Rios sale are correct in part, but slightly different in that Frazee and Mack were saying, "These are really good players, worth the money, and I regret parting with them, but I just can't afford to pay them right now." The Rios sale was Ricciardi saying, "This guy ISN'T worth the money, I just thought he was at one point, so please take him away from me."

RHughes (nj): Was watching the Whitey Ford Yankeeography last night - what was Casey's reasoning behind NOT starting The Chairman of the Board in Game 1 of the 1960 World Series vs. the Pirates?

Steven Goldman: I don't think Casey ever explicated that reason, but I do think that the controversy is overblown and the subject of some revisionist history. Whitey had had arm problems in '60, and had been up and down in effectiveness. His September ERA that year was 4.40. Starting him in G1 was not the obvious call that it's treated as today... One thing I want to do, and should do, is see to what degree the decision was first-guessed back in 1960. I really wonder if a lot of the cavils came after Ford pitched well in the Series, not before.

Swingingbunts (NY): I know you said in one of your recent updates that the Braves have no intention of promoting Heyward into a pennant race. But has his production changed their minds?

Steven Goldman: That was GoldSTEIN! GoldSTEIN! I'm GoldBERG! Er, GoldBLATT! No, that's not right either... I'm so confused...

Dan (NYC): Speaking of Hughes, should we all prepare to go through the same nonsense ("he's too valuable in the 8th to make him a starter!") with him next year that we went through with Joba this year?

Steven Goldman: Almost certainly, alas. Perhaps by the end of the year, Dave Robertson will be so established, with his 13 strikeouts per nine, that folks will be able to accept that there's more than one way for the bullpen to work. Girardi has done a good job of working these problems out for two consecutive years.

Pete (Bronx): If you were Brian Cashman, what would you offer Johnny Damon to re-sign? 2 years for ?? million?

Steven Goldman: It seems like the assumption now is that Damon should be brought back. Given that the Yankees don't have great alternatives (Austin Jackson's MLE doesn't inspire confidence)and the free agent class is not bursting with possibilities, maybe it's a reasonable assumption. I do worry about Damon being a product of Friendly YS II (or III, really), with only .273/.346/.459 rates on the road and declining defense. Two years would be my upper limit... I really wonder if Damon is going to last long enough to get 3,000 hits and wind up as a totally unexpected HOFer. It could happen.

stan (chicago): I'd have got here sooner but jeff samardzija is throwing BP in my office, and it was tough getting through all the line drives, then there's the co-worker pouring coffee on me...Is there a larger waste of 7 bucks than pouring a perfectly average budweiser on an outfielder, that isn't government related?

Steven Goldman: We have this little discussion among BPers sometimes. It recurs almost literally, and it goes something like everyone but me saying, "I would rather watch a game from the stands than from the press box every time," and I am the Lone Ranger saying, "Nope, I'll take the press box every time, because I don't like being around violent inebriates." It really is embarrassing how some people can't handle their alcohol.

dianagramr (NYC): Hi Steven ... thanks for the chat. A moment of silence in memory of Les Paul perhaps? :-( Given the increase in (reported) cases of players going on the DL for stress/depression, how soon before every team brings a traveling psychologist with them not for "performance enhancement", but for real psychoanalysis?

Steven Goldman: Here's to Les Paul (hoists tea, because the guitar is not handy). I forget what the percentages are, but there was a recent news story of the percentage of Americans on antidepressants and it was a huge chunk of us. Ballplayers aren't any different than the rest of us, and they deal with some stresses that we don't (and vice-versa).

jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): Fittingly enough, since you're the history guy, that Dave Robertson link goes to the Giants and Cubs OF of the late 10's and early 20's.

Steven Goldman: He could hit a little, too, but with a slightly late start, an interruption for World War I service, and an early finish there wasn't much of a career there... Did you see that the last British vet of WWI died about a week ago? He was something like 111, and a pacifist... One of the books in my ever-widening on-deck circle is Martin Gilbert's book on the Somme...

Jeff P (NYC): Hi Steve, thanks for the chat. What are your thoughts on how Girardi handles the Yanks' pen? He seems to be excellent strategically (players know and are comfortable with their roles, no one's overworked, flexible in who has what role) but mediocre tactically (who to bring in to face which batters).

Steven Goldman: I think you've nailed it exactly. As I said earlier, in both of his seasons in New York, he's started with one bullpen and finished with another, and after more than a decade of Joe Torre's obsessive focus on one or two relievers, as well as blind loyalty to anyone who had been on the roster for more than 15 minutes, it's been quite refreshing. If Torre were here, we'd still be watching balls hit off of Edwar Ramirez fly over the moon... It's been so long since I've seen a manager who excelled at pen matchups on a regular basis. Who would you rate as tops at that? Scioscia? LaRussa?

Jay Mariotti (Chicago, IL): Wait a minute... no violent inebriates in the press box? I beg to differ...

Steven Goldman: They leave me alone, at any rate. Perhaps they fear the fat man and the burgeoning plates of food he hauls out of the Yankees press dining room. We have a saute bar now, and yet I still find it in myself to be critical. What an ungrateful bastard...

Rob (Princeton): Actually, related to Joe's comment about crusty old hurlers, what did you think of Pedro last night? The contingent of Phillies supporters around here seem to be unimpressed, though they may be sentimentally tied to Jamie Moyer.

Steven Goldman: It was a mixed bag, but we probably shouldn't have expected more than that. As for sentimentality, hey, I'm sentimental about Moyer too. As I said on XM with Mike Ferrin the other day, during Moyer's career I've gone from a seventh grader to a married man with two kids. Moyer keeps me young. He's the Pitcher of Dorian Gray. Thing is, as fans it's easy for us to be sentimental, but sentimentality kills teams. I've written many times that one of the toughest things baseball asks fans to do is choose between your affection for certain players and your desire to see the team win. Quite often those feelings are in direct opposition.

Frank (NJ): What happened to the young(er) Fred Wilpon that was creative enough to go with a Frank Cashen/Davey Johnson combo to reverse course in Flushing 30 years ago? It seems now all he does is hire whomever happens to be the assistant GM (or some other in-house option) when change is need and a manager with name recognition (Howe/Randolph/Manuel.) I'm never gonna get my Young New School Thinking GM/Manny Acta wish, am I?

Steven Goldman: I don't know Wilpon, but my feeling is that he was new to ownership then and more willing to defer to an experienced baseball hand like Cashen, whereas now he's been in the game forever and feels more knowledgeable, plus he's got a kid who grew up in the game and feels he can run the franchise.

wilk75 (houston): Your AL and NL MVP's and Cy Young winner predictions are ____?

Steven Goldman: Mauer and it's too early to say (does Greinke finish strong?); Pujols and Lincecum.

Matt A (Raleigh): So the Braves are hot right now, having taken 3 of 4 from the slumping Dodgers and short-swept the previously-streaking Nationals. Still, they're 4.5 back of the Phillies and their new-look rotation and 3 back in the WC. With the Phillies about to come into town for a weekend set and fewer than 50 games remaining, do the Braves need to sweep the Phils this weekend (Lee and Pedro aren't scheduled to pitch) to have a chance at the division? Or should they worry about winning the series and focus on the wild card?

Steven Goldman: Can't they do both? I really admire what the Braves have done this year in reshaping their team on the fly. Our postseason odds report doesn't rate them a huge chance, but I think they have a very good chance at still be on the stage come October. What do you say to one more Yankees-Braves World Series? That's getting quite a bit ahead of things, of course...

bflaff (Philadelphia, PA): Speaking of sentimentality, what to do about Brad Lidge?

Steven Goldman: You just can't have a closer giving up two home runs per nine innings. It could be a really heartbreaking postseason if the Phillies make it. Unfortunately, their alternatives aren't great. Madson, maybe? Saving him for the ninth would open up a pretty big hole in the middle.

sprechs (Brooklyn): If the Yankees resign Damon, what would you do about their DH situation next year? Re-sign Matsui, rush Montero, or keep the spot open to rotate through Posada/Damon/Jeter?

Steven Goldman: Probably the latter. Matsui has been good this year, but his day is ending and they can gain a lot more flexibility w/o him. We also need to see how Montero responds after he's healed up. He should be ready at some point next season, if not at the outset.

Stevis (Arlington, VA): "What do you say to one more Yankees-Braves World Series?" I'd say "Thank the gods I watch hockey as well."

Steven Goldman: That's the sport where everyone makes the playoffs regardless of record as a kind of welfare for marginal teams, right?

TGisriel (Baltimore): Despite the record, would you consider the Orioles season thus far to be a success in light of the number of rookies worked into the starting rotation and lineup? (Wieters, Reimold, Bergesen, Hernandez, Matusz and Tillman)

Steven Goldman: Yes, absolutely. If they had conjured up a shortstop possibility somewhere I would give them an A+ given that they have also acquired a potential Mora successor in Josh Bell.

David (NJ): The NY Post has two polls: 1) What to do with Wright, Reyes, and Beltran: Keep all three or trade some of them? 2) Who gets fired? Minaya? Manuel? Both? or No one? What say you?

Steven Goldman: As far the first half, the only sin Reyes and Wright have committed is getting hurt. Assuming they can be counted on for relative health next year, they should justify the remainder of their contracts, which run through 2011. Wright has had a weird year in terms of the home run production, not all of which can be blamed on Ebbets-Domino's Pizza-Logo Stadium, since he hasn't hit any on the road either. Yet, he's only 26 and has still been very productive, a top-ten hitter in the NL. Any fan-base that spits on .325/.415/.468 from its third baseman deserves what it gets. The Mets would be extremely unlikely to get enough talent in return for those players, even if all or any went in three-for-one or four-for-one deals, to justify the deals. I haven't been impressed by Manuel given his willingness to single out a useful player like Church, and Minaya has long since run out of ideas. Both should go.

TGisriel (Baltimore): After about 70 % of its first season, what do you think of the new Yankee stadium? Does the avalanche of home runes to right bother you?

Steven Goldman: Not at all. It just is what it is. At worst, it really requires the Yankees to re-embrace their traditional love of left-handed hitters and pitchers, something that had gotten lost with the various shrinkages of the left-side of Yankee Stadium over the years.

Shaun P. (Medway, Ma): Nothing to ask, really, but I wondered how hockey-fan Stevis felt about this: Last time same two MLB teams played in the last 2 World Series: 1978 Last time same two NHL teams played in the last 2 Stanley Cup Finals: 2009

Steven Goldman: I actually like hockey as a spectator sport. Don't watch any on TV, but I've liked going to the games and I'd like to find time to go to a few more.

Christopher (Nashville, TN): Also what kind of a claim to MVP does Hanley Ramirez get?

Steven Goldman: He would be a very reasonable choice were the season to end today. Do I think the voters select him over Pujols? No. Should they? Probably not, but it wouldn't be the worst mistake the MVP voters have ever made.

Dan (Boulder): Todd Helton -- Hall of Famer?

Steven Goldman: See Jay Jaffe's piece on this today. My personal perspective is that he is and probably should be. Here's my view of park effects: Does every player who goes into Coors Field turn into Todd Helton? Does every player who goes into Fenway become Jim Rice? Taking advantage of your home park is a skill. Sure, we should take this stuff into account, but we shouldn't be totally dismissive.

Matt A (Raleigh): Hockey, like international soccer, is best watched with intense fans of at least one of teams involved. Without this, I feel the enjoyment kinda craters.

Steven Goldman: And that brings us full circle to my comment about wanting to avoid violent inebriates.

www.scoresheetwiz.com (Toronto): Which teaches us more practical every day take home lessons in life: baseball history or war history?

Steven Goldman: Lessons are where you find them, and in both cases you can find many, many critical thinking exercises of great value -- "Evaluate these decisions by Branch Rickey!" "Evaluate these decisions by Douglas Haig!" However, for tales of courage (physical and moral) under fire I prefer the real danger of war to the exaggerated tension of the bottom of the ninth.

ShatnerFatBastard (New Jersey): I've read often about your dislike of Cito Gaston's managerial style. Considering that the Blue Jays' pitching has given them the opportunity to be competitive this year, would you think they might be in trouble next year if Gaston is retained for 2010. Also, if they: (i) don't trade Halladay; (ii) are healthy; and (iii) have their "bust" players return to ML-Average form, could they compete with NYY/Tampa/Boston next year?

Steven Goldman: I'm not a big Gaston fan, 'tis true, because he is, as Bill James once wrote, "tactically inert." That said, I don't think he really had the tools on offense this year, and he won't have them next year (Hey, Kevin: What the heck happened to J.P Arencibia's bat this year?) regardless of what happens with Halladay.

tonipeluso (Oakland): Hi Steven, this is a rather long and tortured question, but I recently went to Rickey's day at the Oakland Coliseum where the A's honored him and retired his number. Before the event I was sort of just browsing the internet and came across some surprising things on Rickey, there are some who rate him in the 10 most unlikeable athletes ever, make fun of his style of speech, sports writers who didn't vote for him because "they weren't a 'Rickey' guy" (whatever that means). But at his ceremony he was humble and grateful. Do you think Rickey gets a fair shake? Also, perhaps this is the homer in me, but how could Cal Ripkin get a higher HoF% then Rickey?

Steven Goldman: Being a teen at the time, I could only watch the Rickey stuff that happened with the Yankees from the outside, but I guess he wasn't the easiest guy to deal with, either for the press or management. He wasn't the most communicative guy when it came to stuff like injuries, and the idea that arose that he didn't always want to play was probably fair, ironic given how tightly he clung to his career in its final years. As for his recent humility, I guess he's learned something about public relations. I got a chance to observe him close up at Yankee Stadium about a year ago, and I can testify that he's definitely still eccentric and distracted offstage.

Rob (Princeton): Apropros of the Robyn Hitchcock comments, it's only a hop, skip, and jump via the Venus 3 to Scott McCaughey to "The Baseball Project". It's a fun listen. You must be aware of that, no?

Steven Goldman: Yup. I've seen McCaughey back up Hitchcock in concert on a couple of occasions. In fact, there's a concert documentary of a Hitchcock concert in Hoboken, NJ that floats about on cable, and if you watch carefully, you can spot me on the sidelines, along with a couple of pals of mine. I really enjoyed "The Baseball Project." The songs are songs first, not novelty tunes as so many baseball songs are. And many of them, such as the songs about Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, and Ted Williams are good works of biography, too.

Tim (DC): Did you have any opinion on Bronson Arroyo's declaration that he still intends to take OTC supplements not necessarily approved by MLB? Seems like he might be playing with fire here....

Steven Goldman: I (1) rapidly concluded that Arroyo is not very bright, (2) decided that Brian Cashman ducked a bullet by not dealing for him.

chris (bklyn): what current comics are getting you hyped up for wednesday mornings? i'm loving Matt Fraction's work on Uncanny X-Men, but that's really all i'm buying. any recommendations?

Steven Goldman: It's tough these days... Sometimes I wonder why I'm still dropping so much money on this stuff. I lost interest in the clear-as-mud mainstream continuity of the X-Men years and years ago, but enjoyed the Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon stuff (not so much the recent Warren Ellis run). I really enjoy "Fables" by Bill Willingham, "The Boys" by Garth Ennis, and select stuff by Ed Brubaker, Geoff Johns, Gail Simone, and Brian Michael Bendis.

Joe Lefko (nj): Worst contract, Soriano or Zito?

Steven Goldman: I bet one of us answers this question every chat. Is there really much to pick from there? I think the Zito contract was more defensible at the time of signing than the Soriano contract was. Joe Posnanski had a very good blog entry about this yesterday.

John Zirinsky (Washington, DC): Steven: I have two questions. 1) Will Jesus Montero get significant playing time for the Yankees next season? and 2) What are your thoughts on the Obama healthcare debate?

Steven Goldman: I think it's going to take an injury or two, but he might get some turns. They're going to have to get over the idea that DHing a young guy is wasting him. Waiting for a future that might never arrive is the real waste. Take advantage of what you have in the best way possible. I'd love to see them play with him some in the corners (1B/LF/RF) in winter ball and spring training. Maybe they can make him versatile if he's not going to master catching... As for the Obama health care debate, I'm all for reform, but I'm really not happy with some of the things he's done, like promising the drug industry they're only going to take so much of a hit. Real reform would mean allowing the importation of drugs and giving the gov't permission to negotiate bulk purchases. Not hitting those companies means too much emphasis on cutting Medicare spending, which I'm afraid means that seniors end up without needed care.

don (lansing): Man oh man, my tigers are flailing lately, and the white sox acquisitions have me awfully concerned. talk me down off the ledge please.

Steven Goldman: This year's Tigers are far from great, but they should hold off the White Sox and the Twins... I think.

Yatchisin (Tinsel Town): Tomorrow it will be 37 years that Oscar Levant passed away. Who in baseball might be considered a parallel to Levant? Jimmy Piersall? Mickey Rivers? Not that either played piano as far as I know.

Steven Goldman: This is my favorite question of the day. Golly, the closest comp to Levant probably couldn't play long enough for us to know who he was... Maybe Elmer Flick.

Mark (Albuquerque): Yankees-Braves? Personally, I think we're way overdue for a good Yankees-Dodgers series. As a side note, is there a worse year for a Dodgers fan to have started following baseball than 1982?

Steven Goldman: Yes -- 1931... I'm not sure how much "Joe Torre's Revenge/Redemption/Etc" storyline I could take in a Yankees-Dodgers confrontation. It would just be gigatons of that stuff.

Richie (Washington): So STOP ANSWERING! the stupid Soriano-Zito question every stinkin' chat. He'll keep on doing it so long as you clowns keep on answering it. And the rest of us are sick of the stupid question.

Steven Goldman: Is that question some sort of repeating chat meme I've failed to notice? If so, sorry 'bout that. At least he's not doing that tired Admiral Akbar riff.

Bonds Fan (Bay Area): Did you know that Alfonso Soriano is the member of the 40/40 club with the most home runs while acheiving this status and he is the only one who acheived this success without steroids?

Steven Goldman: How do you know?

strupp (Madison): Might I suggest Brubaker's Captain America and Peter David's X-Facter... basically the only two comics right now that get me into the comic shop on release day.

Steven Goldman: I like what Brubaker has done there, though I think there was some slack leading up to the current act. I've always liked Peter David and found him a decent fellow the couple of times I've talked with him, but I'm just not getting involved in all that X-stuff. Maybe I'll try a paperback at some point. There's just very little about that sector of Marvel that interests me.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Who should the Yankees be most concerned about in the playoffs?

Steven Goldman: The Angels, natch.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Can I get exhuberant about Jesus Montero yet? Any chance he hits 9 HRs in spring training and ends up being the DH?

Steven Goldman: As I said before, a few things have to happen first -- he has to show he's over his current injury, then he has to perform, then the Yankees have to decide that DHing him won't somehow hurt him. I remain skeptical.

Richie Hata (Winnipeg): Tell Richie to chill out. How are the Jays ever going to make the playoffs? I don't see them reaching them ever in that division. Like 2025+ forsure

Steven Goldman: Chill out, Richie. Be cool, like Fonzie. It's going to be tough for the Jays given the division competition and their farm system's eternal lightness on position players. It seems like the various ownerships have been a bit stingy when this was a club that used to draw three and four million a year. Post-1993, the Jays really haven't given their fans a real reason to come out in those numbers, so in some ways it seems like they've never put the 1994-95 Great Disaster behind them. They've still supported that club in decent numbers despite a bland product. The current economic climate aside, I wonder if a short-term loss could lead to long-term profit. Still, that's not going to be enough if the farm doesn't really perform.

ndubby (sfo): Hey Kevin! Better career: Wieters, Montero, Santana?

Steven Goldman: Actually, Kevin will have the best career. My vote would vary depending on how we're ranking things. For all-around play, it's more likely the other two guys than Montero, but Montero could come up at 20 and play 20 years, albeit in some kind of stick-him-wherever Pete Rose/Harmon Killebrew/Dick Allen kind of career.

amartin7889 (Sarasota): Is this the slump that sends Big Papi into oblivion? Also, how will Lowell's hip hold up playing 5 games in a row at 3B?

Steven Goldman: Oblivion is a problem given that he's signed through 2010 with a club option for 2011. A vast reduction in role? Sure. We're already seeing it happen a little bit. Man, he has been brutal.

Steven Goldman: Friends, it's been three hours and fifty-some responses and I must be on to other tasks. As always, I've had a great time chatting and I look forward to our next go-round. As always, thanks again for spending part of your day with Baseball Prospectus and yours truly.

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