Time for some Ken Funck-y stuff from the man who won BP Idol with his gift for changing speeds. Drop in on his first chat and put the question to him you've been waiting to ask.
Ken Funck: Goodbye Blue Monday! Welcome to my first BP Chat. Rest assured that Im wearing all the proper equipment, regardless of how uncomfortable it is or how dorky it makes me look, so feel free to pitch me anyway you want. Let's get to it!
Guillermo (Madrid, Spain): No question, just wanted to drop by and say Congrats for the BP Idol win. Too bad I got used to reading your posts unfiltered.
Ken Funck: Thanks Guillermo, much appreciated. Madrid, eh? One of the many weird and wonderful aspects of BP Idol was seeing where in the world it was being discussed, and reading things like "The Good Face" reviewed on an Italian baseball site.
dtrainmets (NY): Congrats!
Of the big 3 today, who's gonna sign?
Ken Funck: Shame on MLB for scheduling the signing deadline on my wedding anniversary I'll be eating Indonesian food and/or watching a Meryl Streep movie instead of hitting refresh on my keyboard all evening. That being said, it's Scott Boras' world -- we're just scratching our heads in it. But Jim Callis at BA says he'd be "stunned" if a deal for Strasburg doesn't get done, so I'll happily hitch my wagon to his opinion.
PSIllini (Champaign, IL): Care to weigh in on the Teixeira vs. Mauer debate that erupted over the weekend?
Ken Funck: Which is your favorite way to measure this? Mauer is a catcher with a .355 EqA, a 66.4 VORP and a 7.5 WARP. Teixeira is a first baseman with a .311 EqA, a 35.3 VORP and a 5.4 WARP.
I think the world of Mark Teixeira he was the first player I drafted in my current Strat league -- but the fact that there's a debate about this just amazes me. It's not Joe Mauer's fault that the Twins aren't able to leverage the most valuable commodity in the AL into a playoff berth.
paulbellows (Calgary): Any hope for BJ Upton left fo the year?
Ken Funck: Amazing, isn't it? I have no idea what to make of Bossman Junior at this point. His hot June made me think he had finally gotten healthy and turned the corner, but since the All-Star break he's hit a downright Bloomquistian .226/.268/.292, and hasn't had an XBH this month. He still has all the talent in the world, and he's turned things around in a hurry before (see: 2008 playoffs). But as Reilly Diefenbach said to Jerry Lundegaard: "My patience is at an end" - at least for this season.
Gray (Chicago): With the sudden emergence of Chris Coghlan, do you think Dan Uggla's days in Miami are numbered?
Ken Funck: In that Uggla is older and more expensive than Coghlan, sure, that's possible. But money aside, let's not let one smokin' hot month from Coghlan confuse which of them is the better player.
JasonC23 (Huntley, IL): Why did you decide to enter BP Idol? When did you have the feeling you were going to do quite well?
Ken Funck: Huntley -- isn't that the exit that doesn't have an on-ramp back onto westbound I-90?
I guess I entered BP Idol because I thought it would be fun and even though it was much, much more work than I at first anticipated, it really was a lot of fun. I almost didn't get in the contest, actually I was the first alternate, the guy that got in because Jeremy Greenhouse wasn't able to continue on.
I guess the first real inkling I had that I might do pretty well was when commenters starting defending some of my pieces against some of the judges comments (which were completely fair comments, by the way). It was pretty clear that there were a number of people in the competition that were definitely good enough to win, and a lot of it was going to hinge on personal taste. I'm glad to have won, but I certainly think guys like Brian and Tim and Matt (whose series on HFA is going to be great) were equally as deserving.
Steve (NJ): Nice peice on the man behing FOX's baseball production. When Pete Macheska mentioned that they basically let Tim McCarver dictate they're usage of stats during their broadcasts my head nearly exploded. Were you able to keep a straight face when he said that?
Ken Funck: Thanks. Could I keep a straight face? Sure. Pete Macheska (and Tim McCarver, for that matter) are very, very successful at what they do, and while I think I made it clear in the article I don't agree with some of their decisions, or their decision-making process, it's their broadcast -- they have every right to their opinions. Was I -surprised- by that response? At the time, absolutely, but in retrospect I probably shouldn't have been. My takeaway is that the gap between what I believe and what they believe is bigger than I expected it to be. Maybe I'm naive that way.
Tanner (Cedar Falls, Iowa): Ken, Congratulations! Now that we have you as part of the BP chat sessions, can you inform the readers which areas you specialize in (ie. selfishly, are you familiar with most prospects?)
Ken Funck: In my BP Idol bio I described myself as more of a generalist than a specialist. I follow prospects for the same reasons you probably do: (1) general baseball interest, and (2) scouting for fantasy/sim leagues. One of the things I told myself at the start was not to pretend to be something that I'm not, so the last thing I want to do as set myself up as the world's leading expert on any given topic. I know about a lot of prospects; KG knows more. I follow transactions; CK knows more. I like to work with and analyze statistics; I'm not Clay Davenport. But I love talking about baseball.
LindInMoskva (DC): Since you play strat: Who will have a "1" in cf this year in the AL? I think given Sizemore's injury and the talk about the improved Detroit defense, Granderson will get it.
Ken Funck: Grandy is a personal fave of mine, and he's got the defensive rep and a good bat, which often means more than anything else in Glen Head. A quick review of the leading defensive metrics leave a mixed impression, though -- Upton's been better, but his bat will drag him down, and Gutierrez has been better than both of them. But given how that's essentially meaningless when it comes to who wins the Gold Glove and who gets the "1", Grandy seems a likely choice.
Gary (Muncie, IN): Ken, What do you make of Neftali Feliz's debut thus far? Do you have him penciled in the rotation moving forward, or is it likely he'll settle in to the back end of the pen long-term?
Ken Funck: Wow. I mean, wow. Probably keep him in the pen this year, where he can make a Price-like impact should the Rangers make the playoffs. Long-term, given current usage patterns, if he can start he should start -- although I'll be curious to see how he's handled, given the Rangers' new pitching philosophy. Not sure how the Joba Rules would fly in Arlington.
Phil (Chicago): True or False, McCarver and Buck wear Pujols jerseys in the booth.
Ken Funck: Pujols is a big guy, and it's an actual game-worn jersey, which they both squeeze into.
But it's hard to fault anyone for saying nice things about Albert Pujols.
James (NJ): Hey Ken, congrats! I was wondering what you thought of once monster prospects Kelly Johnson and Howie Kendrick, and whether or not we should still have hope for them or see them as being "are what they are."
Ken Funck: They're both, what, 26? 27? A late peak for either of them isn't out of the question, and Johnson has been good before this year's crater, but I think dreams of superstardom for either of them are pretty much gone.
P Bu (St. Louis): Have you been able to figure out who did and who did not vote for you in BP Idol, and are you picking questions to answer accordingly?
Ken Funck: I'd answer this, but I can see you didn't vote for me.
Gray (Chicago): Let's not sell Coghlan short, he was an underrated prospect in the Marlins system. I think he is more than just one hot month...
Ken Funck: Oh sure, he's more than just that -- he can be a useful player. Maybe it's just my affection for power players, but it's hard for me to picture Coghlan having seasons as valuable as those Uggla has recently produced.
Aunt Jemima (Atlanta): So you're a redundency?
Ken Funck: I guess that's up to you to decide. If people enjoy what I write, I think I'll be able to keep writing.
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Rays or Red Sox: Who will eek out the AL Wild Card spot?
Ken Funck: Let's not forget the Rangers, although nobody's ever gone broke betting on the presence of two AL East teams in the playoffs. My money's still on Boston -- and rightnow the Playoff Odds Report agrees.
fjm(auel) (ny): Off the top of your head, can you recall a worse line-up than what the Mets are going to be putting out tonight?
Livan being backed by Francoeur, Sullivan, Sheffield, Tatis, Schneider, Murphy, Castillo, A.Hernandez?
That has to be the worst starting nine used in the last 5 years, correct?
Ken Funck: Ouch. Seems like Oakland ran out some pretty ugly lineups last year, with Barton/Hannahan/Crosby in the infield, but I can't vouch for a single one being worse. Sounds like a fun column idea.
buffum (Austin TX): Can you concoct an explanation of why it makes sense to use a combination of an injured Trevor Crowe, a talent-limited Chris Gimenez, and adorable-but-miniscule Jamey Carroll in corner outfield slots while Matt LaPorta (and others) wander around in the wilds of Columbus? My best shots involve YouTube threats and heavy metal ingestion.
Ken Funck: If this were the NFL, I'd say "improving your draft position". LaPorta didn't say that Shapiro "dresses like a pimp" or anything like that, did he? Otherwise, I can't explain it. LaPorta's continued presence in AAA ranks with casting Michael Caine in "Blame It On Rio" on the misallocation of resources scale.
Dan (Chicago): What are your thoughts on Dan Hudson?
Ken Funck: Well, I see the same things you do: those 240/50 K/BB in 204 career IPs speaks volumes. Kenny Williams always reminds me of that guy in your league who absolutely refuses to give up on any season, and the Tribune already is describing Hudson as the Sox' secret weapon. They're pretty smart on the south side, and if they're going to bring him up they must thing he's ready. They were right about 'Bacon'.
George (Charlotte): Ken, who do like in the AL Central?
Ken Funck: Well, not the Twins and their continuing March Of Indifference. I've been saying Detroit all along, but now I'm not so sure it's anything more than a coin flip between the Tigers and the Sox. As a Cubs fan, I have to admit it would be a lot more fun to be a Sox fan.
buffum (Austin TX): Kelly Shoppach to the Rangers? Rangers need a Salty replacement, and Shoppach will cost some arbitration bucks next season ...
Ken Funck: And the Rangers felt so secure in their catching depth not so long ago, didn't they. With Marson and Santana in the pipeline moving Shoppach might make sense for the Indians, but would he get through waivers?
Joe (NY): What are your long term aspirations? Front office?
Ken Funck: Not really. I have a grown-up job and a grown-up mortgage, and everyone tells me working in baseball is a labor of love.
Jerry Lundegaard (MN): Will you visit our new stadium next season? Are we crazy for playing outdoors this far north???
Ken Funck: They let you chat from jail, Jerry? Anything would be better than the dome, right? I'd trade a few snow-outs for a little atmosphere any day.
Dan (Denver): My 9-year-old son is interested in Strat or APBA, but there don't seem to be any kids he knows who play either. Which do you recommend for that age?
Ken Funck: Frankly I've never played ABPA, so I can't help you there. But even if the other kids in the neighborhood don't play strat, he can play strat with you, right? Or he can teach his friends. I can't say enough about how much playing sim baseball has taught me about real baseball (so long as you're aware of the difference).
Travis Snider (LV): Will I be up on August 20 after which I will no longer qualify as a Super 2?
Ken Funck: Is that the day? I'll take your word for it. You'll be up soon regardless.
Quentin (Detroit): Sizemore hurt is elbow, not his legs, why would he lose the 1? His range is unaffected. (I'm a strat nerd, too)
Ken Funck: True -- but then, it's not really about that, is it? If he weren't having a pedestrian year with the bat, I'd agree with you.
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): What's the over/under for Strasburg? $15 million?
Ken Funck: Personally, I'd take the over. There's a lot of pressure on the Nats to get this done.
Paul (Fort Worth, TX): Standard keeper league, who do you like better long-term, Derek Holland or Joba Chamberlain? Congrats on the new gig!
Ken Funck: Me personally, I'd go with Joba. But full disclosure: I have a much, much better track record picking hitters than pitchers.
don (lansing): Jason Beck reporting that the Tigers just acquired Aubrey Huff from the Os for a minor leaguer. What say you?
Ken Funck: I say I'm really digging the brinksmanship going on in the AL Central. And also, you can never have too many quality bats.
Lady Ga Ga (A night spot near you): Can you dance?
Ken Funck: With you? On my wedding anniversary? Fat chance.
Wendy (Madrid): Where among shortstops do you see Tulo ranking? Do you think he's good enough to be ranked 2nd behind Hanley Ramirez? Assuming he's healthy, Reyes or Tulo?
Ken Funck: All health questions aside I'd take Reyes over Tulo long-term. This season? Derek Jeter -- even though I know you're not supposed to say "intangibles" around these parts.
JasonC23 (Huntley, IL): That's it! The city has been negotiating with the state government about working together to pay for a full interchange for a long, long time. Shockingly, the state government, all fine, upstanding, noncorrupt public servants, never agreed to anything, and now all the money is gone.
Ken Funck: And I'm old enough to remember that those tollbooths were put there just to raise revenue to build the skyway (which, I can't help but notice, has been in existence for some time now).
iorg34 (Buckland): Will Nyjer Morgan keep up his Kenny Lofton impression next year?
Ken Funck: Not much of an impression even now. I love watching him play, actually, but he's really just a useful fourth outfielder.
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): I saw that Streep film last week in San Francisco. It was how I got my wife to see the Giants/Reds the previous Sunday. Not a bad film, especially if you like to cook. BTW, the Cha Cha bowl at AT&T Park is quite tasty!
What is your favorite Indonesian dish?
Ken Funck: I don't eat at our local place (Bandung) often enough to have a favorite. But it's a great place for vegan food (which fits my wife's diet well). Lots of good stir fry.
Guillermo (Madrid, Spain): What do you think Joe Mauerīs future looks like? [Will he eventually/when will he] move off Catcher to another less demanding position (like, which one?). And maybe, most important, where does he play after his current contract expires? And when does he get proper recognition, i.e. MVP?
Ken Funck: I'm hoping this is the year he gets proper recognition, although it's not being discussed like the slam-dunk I would think it is. I'm probably very much in the minority on this, but I think he's going to stay behind the plate for a long, long time. Whatever deep-pocketed team signs him (the usual suspects are certainly going to apply) will be smart to DH him as needed, and when he retires we'll all feel privileged for getting to watch one of the best catchers of all time.
Unless he gets hurt -- the BP Annual's comparison of Mauer/Kendall through their age-25 season is pretty freaky.
Eli (Brooklyn): Welcome to BP chats! Can you do your best Kevin Goldstein impression and make me feel happy about the Yankees going way over-slot for all their (mostly uninspiring) picks?
Ken Funck: If I were to do a KG impression, I'd tell you to listen to more Naked Raygun.
fjm(anuel) (NY): RE: Joba Rules and Arlington, there hasn't been a more babied pitcher in baseball than Martin Perez.
Ken Funck: Good point -- and bully for the Rangers' development staff. But let's see what happens in the heat of a pennant race. I'm hoping, for Neftali's sake, that caution flags will continue to fly for a few more laps. As a Cubs fan I've looked into the abyss, and had Dusty look back at me.
jromero (seattle): Believe it or not, it's also my wedding anniversary, and I think we'll be watching Maryl Streep as well. Clearly, neither of us picks the movies in our families!
What exactly do you think the reasoning behind Pete Rose's banishment from the HOF is? Is it meant as a warning to future players, a tiny fraction of whom will ever be up for HOF selection? Doesn't that seem to be a bit of a reach?
Regardless of what he did after his playing career, his candidacy should be based on what he did as a player, and I've yet to hear anyone challenge that his performance was somehow tainted. What kind of precedent do you feel this sets for the steroid era, during which actual, on-the-field player performance can at least be legitimately questioned?
Ken Funck: Ah yes, the radioactive question, guaranteed to get me flamed. I personally have no problem with Rose's absence from the Hall -- he's not there because when he was in uniform he violated what at the time was the one rule you absolutely, positively could not violate. What he did as a manager matters. As for the precedent it sets for steroid users, I think the voters themselves are trying to sort that out as we speak.
Joel (Chicago): So will Dusty Baker be remembered more for his years in San Friancisco or ruining Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Edinson Volquez, and Jonny Cueto?
Ken Funck: The latter, I think -- and personally, I'd say justifiably so. What happened to Prior and Woody (which hopefully won't be completely duplicated in Cinci) wasn't all Dusty's fault, so he shouldn't bear the entire responsibility. But at the same time his success in SF had a lot more to do with another controversial figure working in the Bay Area at the time than with Dusty himself.
Kung Fu Panda (San Francisco): I am the cutest 3B ever, right?
Ken Funck: Can't vouch for -ever- (I'm not THAT old), but in my lifetime you're definitely in the team picture.
Wait, what am I saying? Yes, you are!
(This reminds me of the time in 1990 when a poll of Green Bay Packer fans declared that the greatest head coach in Packer history was Lindy Infante)
Jay (Chicago): How disappointing is it that if Chicago wins the Olympics, there won't be baseball at Wrigley?
Ken Funck: Disappointment that's greatly mitigated by the fact that I can watch the Olympics without having to fly anywhere -- and since they're talking about running the bike races near Madison, even better. Best yet, since I'm not an Illinois resident, I won't have to foot any of the bill. Not a lot of downside for me.
ct tiger (connecticut): Does Texiera really deserve MVP consideration ahead of Miguel Cabrera? Their numbers look similar to me, and Miggy means a lot more to the bad Tigers O (agree this is Mauer's year).
Ken Funck: Probably not. And there's other hitters you could mention. Again, I like Teixeira, but he shouldn't be such a big part of the conversation.
Ken Funck: Folks, sorry for the quick ending (no lightning round), but I have to go. It's been a stone groove. Thanks for the questions, sorry for those I didn't get to, and I hope we get to do this again. In the meantime, enjoy the upcoming pennant races, and thanks for your continued support of Baseball Prospectus.