Talk about the baseball playoffs, roster moves, and the hot stove league with BP's managing editor, Christina Kahrl.
Christina Kahrl: Howdy gang, so, the LDS is done with, with some sweeps representing upsets, not to mention upsetting as far as viewing pleasure, giving us too much dead time before the LCS. So what better way to pass the time than chat a bit about baseball?
Tom (Fort Worth): When does voting for the IBAs start this year?
Christina Kahrl: Wow, this was easy--this has already started. There's a nice big spot on the page below the current day's articles, plus I mentioned it on Unfiltered. Get your vote on, and try not to take too much advice from a Chicagoan about how frequently.
William (Mobile, Alabama): Do you think there will ever be a time when MLB is more popular then the NFL ? Seems the MLB playoffs are the only time my co workers and friends pay attention to it.
Christina Kahrl: It's an interesting question, since there was a time when baseball was more popular than the NFL, and since the product itself as far as football isn't really very interesting to watch, not with the watered-down rules for blocking and pass defending and the interminable pauses. However, I think the fundamental difference--some would say advantage--that football has over baseball (or hoops or hockey, for that matter) is its different seasonal rhythm. One game, one week, lots of time devoted to between-game chatter and oft-pointless coverage ("The third-string tight end may or may not be active on Sunday, but we'll know more by Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, and we'll have every non-development reported in excruciating detail"), comparatively low-maintenance fantasy leagues, the ability to use that one game as the centerpiece of public/pub or home-based entertainment with friends and family... I say vive la difference, and prefer the long haul of baseball, but to each their own.
Bill (New Mexico): With the benefit of hindsight, and the usual caveats that the post season is basically a crapshoot, how do you think the Cardinals' decision to trade half of their farm system for possible rentals worked out? Did they get enough value from Holliday and DeRosa (we will not speak of Khalil Greene...) to justify the depletion of the farm?
Christina Kahrl: I think it's important not to overstate the penalty of what was a sensible aggressiveness in trying to win now. Chris Carpenter was healthy, after all, and how often does that happen? Then, to take the less-charitable view of what they dealt, what is it that they really gave up? If Brett Wallace winds up a first baseman, he was only a bargaining chip for them, and Mortensen and Peterson won't be franchise-breaking deletions from the nest. To get DeRosa, they gave up two live relief arms, yes, but relievers aren't exactly the most reliable commodities. I guess I'm just not quite sure why this is seen as a huge setback--there's a lot of doubt about Wallace's ability to play third, and the rest of the packages involved the kinds of guys good organizations have on hand to employ or trade, as needed.
uptick (St. Louis): Hey Christina -- you still owe us a trip to St. Louis sometime...so when are you coming? :)
Christina Kahrl: Man, do I ever, and I'm still looking forward to it. I expect to do more traveling next season, and you can bet that St. Louis is atop the list of desired destinations, both for the book tour and for regular-season fun.
Eli (Brooklyn): Hey Christina,
Thoughts on the Yankees' rotation and roster for the ALCS? Any predictions?
Christina Kahrl: I'm probably one of the most outspoken fans of Chad Gaudin there is, but no way does he wind up with a Game Four start. I like the decision to carry Cervelli, given that they're going to start Molina a couple of times out. If there's a bit of waffling, it's whether they might want a pinch-runner, but with Hairston and Gardner around, they're not exactly without one already, and with Gaudin in the pen, they're not wrecked during one of the rare back-to-back ballgames if a starting pitcher exits early in the first one.
rowenbell (Oak Park IL): Tidbit from an article on the Cubs' bankruptcy filing: "Luis Vizcaino, a pitcher who played briefly with the team in April, is listed as the fifth-biggest unsecured creditor, owed $500,000, according to the bankruptcy filing. The Cubs said other players are not listed as it is assumed their claims will remain with the team after ownership changes." Any idea why Vizcaino in particular would be an unsecured creditor?
Christina Kahrl: He's a released former employee, as opposed to a ballclub? I'm probably the last person to ask, since I'm somebody who has to pay somebody else to do my taxes.
Jetson (NC): what do you think about Pedro's usefulness to the Phils? Seems they had some real misadventures though surviving. I was thinking it might be cool to bring him in the 7th or 8th and see what he can do to close out games. But it doesn't look like that's on the agenda. Seems to me the rest of their bullpen is just bad enough to justify the roll of the dice.
Christina Kahrl: Like you, I'd rather see Pedro coming into relief gigs, especially given that pen, but also because in Lee, Hamels, and Happ, you've got a rotation that might give the Dodgers problems in at least five of the seven games.
Bill (Galveston): Why do the Astros need to interview10 prospective managers? Isn't this the same silliness that GM Ed Wade did in Philly?
Christina Kahrl: It strikes me as a little strange in terms of the sheer numbers, but on the other hand, it's an important decision, and I'd want every GM to be able to pick someone he feels he can work with. I know that I'd love to see Manny Acta get another chance, but I guess I find it amusing that Phil Garner's under consideration as well. What would that represent for Drayton McLane (and Tal Smith) and Scrap Iron, some sort of a soft-fried mellow echo of Billy and George from the '70s?
collins (greenville nc): The talk in MN is now about an extension for Mauer. Any idea about what would be a reasonable length and amount to offer?
Christina Kahrl: Mauer's one of the people you do turn a blind eye to market developments and price as if the economic downturn didn't happen. If Miguel Cabrera could get eight years and $150 million once upon a time, that doesn't seem like a bad place to ballpark the conversation.
Dan (Denver): Let's assume for arguments sake that O'Down lets Marquis walk, trades Hawpe for a prospect and non tenders Atkins. That would free up nearly $20MM for 2010. Where would you spend that money? I guess 2B is an obvious upgrade spot, but beyond that, I'm not sure O'Dowd could spend that amount money effectively in free agency. Maybe they could allocate it to the draft and Venezuala?
Christina Kahrl: It's never that simple. Betancourt's on the books for next season if they pick up his option, so that's a big chunk of change ($5+ million). Huston Street's arb-eligible, so is Jorge De La Rosa and Chris Iannetta and Ryan Spilborghs; all will get raises. Tulo's salary goes up a couple of million; so does Jeff Francis' and Manny Corpas'. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't go big-game hunting, beyond seeing what they might get out of a Hawpe deal, whether win-now help or a prospect with near-term value on the big-league team.
The Flying Bernard (Acton, MA): What's your favorite Flashman book?
Christina Kahrl: Maybe it's because I have a few too many books on the subject and loved the 1968 film on the subject, but Flashy's participation in the Charge of the Light Brigade (and his subsequent adventures in Central Asia) is still my fave. That said, I have a few more to go yet. ;-)
Is hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo overrated?
Christina Kahrl: Evaluating coaches and ascribing value to the unquestioned fact that they contribute is never going to be easy. Jaramillo's highly respected beyond mere place-holding compliments, and that has to count for something. I guess I ponder the futility of the exercise when asked this sort of question--the number of pitching coaches who have gone from geniusdom to ejectable problem in the minds of sportswriters and fans alike seems to represent almost 100 percent of the present population of big-league pitching coaches. As mealy-mouthed as it might sound, now that coaches generally aren't just Art Fowler-like posse members and drinking buddies for their skippers, I think we need to accept that, like the men the work for and work with, they all do some things well.
paulbellows (Calgary): There is a __% chance that Halladay is back with the Jays next April.
Christina Kahrl: Eighty percent. They may get to spend a lot of time haggling in December, but I expect a new GM isn't going to make his bones off the bat by trading away the team's top commodity quickly, and retention (however transient) means he can be part of the pitch made to season-ticket holders.
g-mo (West Bumpus): Aiyyo Xina. So Mr. Sheehan was SO GLIB AND SNARKY when I asked him via chat whether Miguel Cabrera had boozed his (Cabrera's) way off the MVP ballot. Please please tell him to rethink this, and please please tell me you agree that it's a serious question. Thanx, g-mo.
Christina Kahrl: Yo g-mo, whaddup? (I will now cease to be 'fresh,' or whatever it is the kids call it these days. I mean, really, I tell Charge of the Light Brigade anecdotes--does it get *less* cool or contemporary than that?)
My thought? Voters are human beings, and respond viscerally. I don't think Cabrera had all that great a shot in the first place, but I wouldn't rule out that this hurt him as far as some down-ballot inclusiveness.
TGisriel (Baltimore): Do you think Josh Bell is the Orioles' long term answer at 3B?
When will he be ready to play in the majors?
Christina Kahrl: Yes, and to be conservative, July.
faithdies (DE): A lot is said of hitter's going to Philly and getting better because of the park and potent lineup, but isn't that doing a disservice to Charlie and Milt. They have taken and converted more reclamation project hitters then any team I can think of.
Christina Kahrl: Indeed. Jayson Werth was a stathead fave for years, going back to his days behind the plate. Shane Victorino's someone they should feel good about as well. They found a way to use Greg Dobbs, which might be the first and last time that happens. Manuel's rep with hitters seems well deserved.
Candide (New York, NY): Should the Mets consider trading David Wright if they're not going to move the fences in (or lower)?
Christina Kahrl: No, they shouldn't. The other team has to play on the same field, and why wouldn't you want the advantage of employing Wright in your own lineup? Maybe it's my experiences as a young fan rooting for the A's and their power-laden lineups in a pitcher's park, but having power that yields runs in every environment is something you don't just give up because it doesn't get a boost from your home park.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): This question got kicked 'round a bit in the recent playoff round table, but I'd love to hear your answer. How much do you trust Ubaldo Jimenez's breakout year? How would he rank as a long-term commodity compared to younger, higher profile arms like B. Anderson, Hanson, Porcello, and the like?
Christina Kahrl: I'm optimistic abou Jimenez, even with the environment counting against his chances. (The club gets it as far as fielding a quality defense, so he'll have that going for him.) While I think everyone prefers Hanson over everybody at this point, I think Jimenez deserves consideration. As impressive as Porcello's late performance was, I guess I want to see the strikeout rate come up a bit before I go wild for him.
SC (Minneapolis): I asked Kevin and he demured, I'll try you: Rick Porcello or Tommy Hanson?
Christina Kahrl: Kevin's wise to demur; I'm not, so I'll go with Hanson, having already tipped my hand here.
The Flying Bernard (Acton, MA): How valuable do you think Matt Holliday is right now? I'm still not convinced he can be a star outside of Coors Field. Lots of people seem very high on him after his great numbers in 270 plate appearances with St. Louis, but he spent 400 plate appearances doing nothing special in Oakland.
Christina Kahrl: I'm with you, in that I'm a bit skittish about getting wild and paying out a five-year deal that might rate push towards the nine-digit range in total value. He peaked with an EqA in the .320 range at the expected time; now, heading into his thirties and perhaps more properly down around .300 from year to year, there's no way I get that crazy.
Charlie (Bethesda): ARod's basically cured until he doesn't hit, then he's all Mr. Unclutch again, correct?
Christina Kahrl: Yep. Some tropes are as unkillable as cockroaches, Freddy Kruger, and General Motors.
spf31 (Oak Park, IL): thoughts on Zobrist's breakout year? a one-year wonder or something that will last?
Christina Kahrl: Consider me among the doubters, given the second-half fade. He'll still be an incredibly valuable super-utility player, so it isn't like we're talking about Rex Hudler here, let alone Bill Almon.
buffum (Austin TX): I claim the Indians must add a league-average or better starter or 2010 will be a completely wasted season: what would it take to talk Capt. Walt out of Aaron Harang? Failing that, who could Cleveland reasonably target? A Westbrook, Laffey, Carmona, Huff, Sowers/Masterson rotation depends far too much on unrealistic hope.
Christina Kahrl: The Reds think they're in it next year, so I'd go elsewhere for your shopping needs. As is, I think you're already stuck with 'unrealistic hope' being the defining theme of this winter for the Indians. Not that they need to blast down to bedrock, but next year's more likely to be about seeing if you can sneak into third place ahead of whichever one of the Sox, Twins, and Tigers falls down.
ashitaka (long beach, ca): Is it time to non-tender Jack Cust and move on to Chris Carter? Is Ryan Sweeney really the solution in right? Can Daric Barton ever hit in months that don't start with "S"? It was nice to see the team play well down the stretch, but there are still a ton of question marks.
Christina Kahrl: Cust has been a fine placeholder at DH, but he needs to be seen as such. If he's game for a one-year deal, the A's can afford to buy the time and see if Barton fends off Carter initially. While slotting Cust in an outfield corner if both Carter and Barton earn their keep wouldn't be lovely, nobody's going places with an outfield trio of Sweeney/Rajai Davis/Scott Hairston.
Justin (Chicago): Was 2009 just a bad luck year for Curtis Granderson and/or a combo of bad-luck/regression in plate discipline?
Christina Kahrl: Some of it was regression, but a good part of the problem was seeing more left-handed pitching this year than in 2008 or 2007, both in terms of a proportion of his playing time and in sheer number of plate appearances. It's really gone beyond the point of argument--Granderson's a platoon player.
SC (Minneapolis): The Washington Nationals will be over .500 on the season's final day in 20__ (too optimistic? 2___)?
Christina Kahrl: 2012.
Trevor (Fort Worth, TX): What were your impressions of Derek Holland's rookie year?
Christina Kahrl: Uneven and very promising, but I guess I'm the sort of optimist who believes that if you hand Mike Maddux great raw material, you're going to get results.
Joel (GA): Should Yankees fans be encouraged or discouraged at the fact that 2/3 of their lineup did basically nothing for three games but ended up sweeping anyway?
Christina Kahrl: Not especially. They won't see the Twins on the schedule again. ;)
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Could you rate Dave Dombrowski's job performance since the day after the '08 season ended? Thanks.
Christina Kahrl: The cutoff favors him, since it avoids getting into so many multi-year mistakes as far as big conracts signed before then. Edwin Jackson proved to be a bit of a steal, kicking sand in the face of a stathead community that was falling all over itself to anoint Matt Joyce as the Anointed One. I also tend to be charitable when a GM is willing to reinforce a bid for the brass ring; yes, Washburn and Huff didn't deliver, but Washburn was a good choice. I would have rather seen the Tigers go after and get a quality offensive addition, but that's easier to say than to conjure up, especially when the farm system isn't replete with trade-worthy bits.
Tex Premium Lager (NJ): Can Strasburg deliver a Mark Prior 2002 year or is that asking way too much? Also, what's your take on the development of Wieters and his long-term outlook. I know BP took some crap about his projection this year in the annual, but it's easy to see that he's got a world of talent.
Christina Kahrl: Strasburg's apparently so far beyond any established standard that I think the fact that we can kick that question around provides answer enough. Is he guaranteed to be Prior-level '02 good? No, of course not, but it's possible, and that's extraordinary enough. I'm still sunny on Wieters; one of the problems with precedent-driven projections is that when you come across a player with few viable precedents, strangeness results. It'll be interesting to see what projections come next.
xxx (yyy): You were pretty critical of the decision to move Michael Young off of shortstop to make room for Elvis Andrus, arguing that Young's bat wouldn't play at third base. Young's bounceback year notwithstanding, do you think that the significant upgrade defensively at shortstop and third base made the switch worthwhile at the end of the day, or do you think the Rangers would have been better off living with Young's sub-par glove at short and dealing Andrus?
Christina Kahrl: I'm confident of the fact that, in this instance, history reflects that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Props to Jon Daniels and company, props to Young for making himself a quality third baseman, and props to Andrus and what looks like an interesting future. Even if you let a little bit (or a lot) of Texas-related inflation out of Andrus' numbers, you have to like the upside given his age.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): It seems like Kenny Williams and Billy Beane almost approach their teams like keeper league fantasy owners: building up for runs earlier in the year, being unafraid to sell off when it doesn't go well as the season progresses, and taking on value (i.e., getting stars like Holliday, Peavy, or Rios cheaply while also dealing for prospects like Quentin) whenever possible. They don't seem to follow the more rigid labels of "rebuilding" or "contending." Is this is a genuine trend I'm noticing, and does this flexbility serve their teams better than some sort of more consistent plan?
Christina Kahrl: Well, Kenny certainly seems like someone who keeps things in play. He keeps an eye out to add other people's blue-chip talent when other people get frustrated with it (Danks, Floyd, and Quentin, for example), Flowers is on the way as well, and yet he's also adding premium veterans. Rios might end up looking like a mistake in the long-term, but it was an understandable risk given they were playing Podzilla again, and needed a center fielder.
It's a superficial observation, but I guess I'm left with the notion that the repercussions of the Bobby Abreu trade of 2006 was the event that highlighted how silly it can be to talk about 'white flags' or talking about rebuilding/contending as opposites. Pat Gillick ran up the flag, and two weeks later he's in a playoff race. Doing both at once is the rule for more teams than there are in just one category or the other.
Dr. Wayne Pitcher (Castro Valley, CA): Christina, what can the Reed Sox do to improve on this year's result? Obviously they won plenty of regular-season games and they don't have many real deficiencies, but that playoff series left a bad taste in my mouth.
Christina Kahrl: A bad taste? Maybe it's my being an A's fan, but between the burgeoning promise of Texas, the Mariners' interesting volte-face, and the Angels' present reign, I very much liked seeing the AL West school an East beast and remind people that baseball is not merely about the same two teams the networks go gooey for. I think the Red Sox really do have to find an answer for left field, because the division's going to be too tight next year for them to be able to just settle for a placeholder or give Josh Reddick a developmental year. There are no good answers at shortstop as far as free agency, so it's either settle for what they have or talk to the Brewers about how to get J.J. Hardy.
Perry (Atlanta): What do you think the Braves should be doing this off-season? Thoughts on Jason Heyward being given the reins for CF, if he has a good ST?
Christina Kahrl: The speculation has been they'll shop a starter, which makes sense to me, given that they control Hudson for 2010 if they so choose, but Vazquez for only that long as well. Trading Lowe would be strange, having only just added him, but it might also yield the best value. The real question is what they go for--Heyward's going to be in right, not center, and they can always consider shunting McLouth to left if they trade for a center fielder. Dealing Vazquez for a one-year rental of a big-time bat for left field could work, with McLouth handling center and 2011's center-field chores going to Jordan Schafer after he regroups from a derailed 2009.
Jay Taylor (San Francisco): Could the Cubs have released Milton Bradley and any other bad contracts, and _then_ filed for bankruptcy? Seems like it would have been a good way to get rid of some dead weight!
Christina Kahrl: Even if it was doable--which seems highly unlikely to me--it might also be a great way to make sure that nobody wants to sign with you ever again.
ramjam36 (Fort Worth, TX): I was a huge supporter of Chris Davis coming into the year, but even though he still struck out a ton last season, he looked utterly helpless at the plate this year. Do you see any hope for a turn around?
Christina Kahrl: I'd rather not give up on Davis just yet. It isn't like we're talking Hank Blalock here--Davis has value on defense, still has tremendous power, and may have had the lessons stick from his in-season demotion. It doesn't cost anything to invest the time to wait and see, up until the point that Justin Smoak arrives and makes Davis a bit of a distressed property on the roster. That's going to be sooner rather than later, of course, but selling Davis now means selling low, and he's better and more valuable than that.
The Flying Bernard (Acton, MA): How do evaluate the Braves-Rangers Teixeira trade 2 years out? I often hear about how it was a steal for the Rangers, but I'm not sure I agree. Most of the prospects have gotten a lot of time in the Majors already, but Salty and Harrison have been below replacement level, and as amazing as Feliz has been he's only pitched 31 innings. I'll grant that Andrus is young and has a lot of upside, but his offense doesn't blow me away.
Christina Kahrl: I think the answer runs through the posits you've made here--Tex was only a Brave for parts of two seasons. Harrison and Salty still have plenty of time to develop into something, and if the Rangers "just" wind up with a quality starting pitcher and a start-worthy plus defender at short for Tex and the odd draft pick, that seems like a reasonable exchange given that finding a start-worthy hitter for first isn't quite so hard as finding those other two items. Considering how much service time the Rangers have under control going forward, and the contemporary standards for how hard it is to get premium young talent in a deal, it's still brag-worthy for the Rangers for a while yet before we start talking in terms of disappointments.
TimV (DC): Why all the BP love for Manny Acta? I know the Nats roster has been a disaster but his lineups and in-game moves were often suspect and he didn't appear to be a great motivator. He doesn't deserve a complete free pass for the last couple seasons.
Christina Kahrl: You're right, no he doesn't, but the experience combined with the tactical acumen does suggest that he's going to be an interesting candidate for giving another opportunity to. At the time Acta was fired, I brought up Terry Francona as an example of a skipper whose first-time failure didn't seem to suggest he'd be back either, but the man the Red Sox hired hadn't sat still from his days with the Phillies. People can learn from bad experiences as well as good.
Rob (Alaska): What do the Rays do about the catcher position? Are Doumit or Iannetta available for one reason or another?
Christina Kahrl: Doumit might be because of his fragility and his defensive limitations, and he'd be interesting to bring in, in the same way that I'm sure the Pirates would be interested in any number of prospects in the Rays' organization. I expect Iannetta's not available, barring a big mistake from Dan O'Dowd this winter.
asstarr1 (Madison): Any chance of a bp trip to Milwaukee? What kind of pitching can the Brewers reasonably expect to get for Hardy or Gamel?
Christina Kahrl: Every chance, at least by me, since Milwaukee's a fun town and nearby. I know Will's something of the in-house roadmaster, so he might be game, and you never know when Goldstein's going to decide there's some nearby Midwest League action he can't miss.
As far as Hardy, I think you should set your expectations appropriately high--bad year aside, their gaming his service time at a period when he ought to be at peak value should serve them well, and given the limited supply of quality options at short, the Brewers should be able to land a blue-chip, ready or almost-ready pitching prospect to plug into their rotation at some point in 2010. Gamel... I guess I'm not quite as enthusiastic, since we're talking about a guy who can't really play third, so he's a first baseman or perhaps a not-so-rangy left fielder, where the standards for offensive value are so high that you need to do a lot better than Gamel did for Nashville this season to be considered a top-tier prospect. He's worthwhile and interesting, but you could say that about any number of first-base types who didn't live up to the standard for the position.
buffum (Austin TX): FWIW, the Rays can have Kelly Shoppach for any pitcher whose arm is still attached.
Christina Kahrl: Be careful what you wish for, I expect Rick Behenna still has two arms.
amr2002 (philly): do you have any idea how the BP monte carlo report has the phillies winning the NLCS almost 2/3 of the time? that seems extremely strange.
Christina Kahrl: I expect the quality of Lee and Happ (and Hamels) compares rather well to the Dodgers' comparative mere adequacy in the rotation makes a big difference. It might also involve the effective deletion of Andre Ethier for the series as a result of not getting to see many right-handed pitching. That's just WAG, of course.
Dr. Wayne Pitcher (Castro Valley, CA): Would a Michael Bowden for J.J. Hardy deal work?
Christina Kahrl: It very well might, but if I were the Brewers, I'd ask for something extra.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Can you envision the Blue Jays being able to peddle some of their abundance for 4th/5th starters for help elsewhere? What sort of direction would you like the kid GM to take now that the parent corporation has tightened the purse strings?
Christina Kahrl: Unless you have a dance partner who seriously overrates one of them, and/or is very, very down on somebody with upside in his own organization, dealing from that sort of depth is more likely to yield ephemeral benefits.
Matt (Whippleville, NY): Who's your early pick for biggest surprise team of 2010?
Christina Kahrl: I suppose it depends on your definition of what's surprising. The Marlins will probably upset the concept of $ = results by again finishing around .500. The Rangers making a run at 95 wins wouldn't surprise me, but it might surprise some observers. The Reds topping .500 and contending with relative good health (and a whole lot less PT for Willy Taveras)? Seems possible to me. The Angels imploding next year, maybe? The Padres finishing .500? Again, I don't think this year delivered all that many surprises, beyond the Rays' underwhelming their expected record, but I might not have the same capacity for easy startling.
kcboomer (kc): Give us Royal fans a reason to live.
Christina Kahrl: One sunrise of five during the regular season involves a day in which Zack Greinke starts?
Christopher (Nashville): Matt Diaz kills left-handed pitching. Isn't it easier to find him a righty-masher platoon mate than to find a full-time left fielder?
Christina Kahrl: How many lefty platoon mashers are there, though? Not as many as you'd think, and many of them wind up employed as everyday players already, given the roster crunch that favors employment of fourth-tier relievers at the expense of tactical weapons on offense. They just tried it with Garret Anderson, after a fashion, and that flopped. Trying it again with Ryan Church or seeing if there's anything left with Brian Giles? The best best might be to get in on any offers for Brad Hawpe.
strupp (Madison): If they're on seperate teams next year, who's the "better" player overall, Hardy or Escobar?
Christina Kahrl: If we're talking just 2010 and not bringing up budgeting, I remain partial to Hardy.
Adam (Rochester): What's wrong with Rajai in CF? I think most teams would take him. Plus, why don't you think Sweeney will continue to improve?
Christina Kahrl: I like Rajai Davis. I also know Rajai Davis is 29, and that the chances he'll be the starting center fielder on the next A's contender are only slightly better than Billy North's. Especially if that club's employing a right fielder with an ISO that barely tops .100, and happens to have "Sweeney" on the back of his jersey. I know, Sweeney dialed that up to .160 or so in the last two months. Let's see it over a full year before anybody risks throwing out his or her back doing somersaults.
strupp (Madison): Fair to say that $$$ people in the Fox and ESPN offices are hoping for a Dodger-Yankees World Series? What is CK hoping for?
Christina Kahrl: The exact opposite, not just because I'm contrarian, but because I'd really like to see what the Phillies' wave of southpaws do against an Angels lineup that boasts a few lefty-killers past (Vladi) or present (Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter). Add in Scioscia vs. Manuel, and I think it would be a much more interesting series to watch than the interminable "What's Joe Torre thinking, is he pondering his past in pinstripes, blahblahblah."
russadams (Target (not field)): Had Delmon not hit some home runs during the last week of the season, the Blue Jays might have been able to get him for one of them pitchers.
Christina Kahrl: You might still, and if you have a magic unscrambulator that guarantees that's the Delmon Young you get, it might be worth putting up with the many negatives.
Matt (Whippleville, NY): Does this make sense for the Mets and Cubs? Cubs trade Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano to the Mets for Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and Fernando Martinez.
Christina Kahrl: It might work for the Mets, but there's no way it works for the Cubs. Perez is even more dubious as assets go than the Big Z, and Castillo's somebody only the Mets were willing to afford. Put Milton Bradley in Soriano's place, however, and maybe you make Jim Hendry fidget about personal wish fulfillment.
Rob (Alaska): CarGo seems to be one of the rising stars in the game after a few up and down seasons - any remaining reason for concern?
Christina Kahrl: Yes, he can be a hackmaster, but it's worth putting up with, especially if you're the Rockies, because your home park cuts into strikeouts and makes someone like Preston Wilson a star.
vegasbill (Las Vegas): UZR and BPro defense stats both have Sweeney as a pretty great defender. Combined with his average offense he's a valuable player.
Christina Kahrl: Average for what, all major league hitters? Certainly not for right fielders; a .261 EqA from a corner outfielder isn't valuable, it's something you have to overcome to score enough runs to contend.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Do you find it surprising that more Mets fans don't want Omar Minaya to get fired?
Christina Kahrl: It must be a symptom of the kinder, gentler, and infinitely more dull Big Apple.
Greg (DC): What's the worst Tim McCarver-ism you've heard?
Christina Kahrl: I believe I've graduated to that level of inner peace where my "do no harm" standard for announcers leaves me happily ignoring them most of the time, to focus on watching the actual ballgame. If you ever get a chance to see an older rebroadcast, it's amazing how much less announcers felt obligated to fill your room with sound, but I suspect, this, like the Fox'y swooshes, are the sorts of things network execs pretend generate interest, while not really getting that the post-season schedule they set up with so much dead time in it does a more thorough job of squelching it.
Frug (UIUC): Your thoughts on Jair Jurrjens' future please.
Christina Kahrl: There were some who thought his 2008 season would be his best; obviously, he chose to disagree. He suffers from some of the biases against "short" right-handers, and he isn't throwing any harder. Still, he outperformed Lowe (and Kawakami). It seems crazy that even before this season, two of his top comps were Greg Maddux and Dave Stieb, two of the best "short" right-handers of the past generation. It also suggests how extraordinary Jurrjens already is, which is where all the doubt comes from. Could he really be that good? I don't think we can say yes or no with anything like the same sort of authority as we can with more typical players. I'd take my chances with him, certainly.
Parker (San Fran): Best chat session ever, thanks Christina! If you are the Giants what are you looking to do this off-season? Also, presuming Molina's gone, where do you slot in Buster Posey into the offense?
Christina Kahrl: Fiddle, there's nary a mention of Ataturk or the invention of the stirrup's role at the Battle of Hastings, let alone any talk about the redemptive value of heavy metal. Now that'd be something, but I'll settle for baseball. ;)
They really should be in the market for a bat, because Ryan Garko's just a placeholder at first base--assuming they tender him. Perhaps they get in on Adrian Beltre or Chone Figgins, and move Sandoval to first; Figgins might be game for a move back to second, though, which would beat placing faith in Eugenio Velez. Posey and no more screwing around with not just leaving Fred Lewis be gives them enough runs and an improved defense. Spending high on the first basemen on the market isn't very attractive (Adam LaRoche) or comes with risk (Nick Johnson), so I guess I'd rather find ways to get Sandoval off of third base.
Bill (New Mexico): Thanks for the Holliday/DiRosa answer; now a followup. Will Khalil Greene ever be able to find major-league employment again? What kind of team might/should be willing to take a chance on him after this year?
Christina Kahrl: Historically, baseball hasn't been kind to the men who struggle with their own demons, whether we want to talk about Alex Johnson or Dontrelle Willis or Tony Horton. Will someone take a chance on Greene? Yes, somebody will; shortstops who hit for power don't grow on trees, and somebody's going to want to see if he can do one or both things ever again. But you can bet that whatever offers he gets this winter are going to be after a few interviews and evaluations, and will probably involve some unique provisions. My hope is that he beats this, and simply plays. Well or badly, I hope he simply gets to play, and leave on his own terms at some distant point in the future.
strupp (Madison): 5 months from now, we'll really be surprised by ______? (team move or player moving)
Christina Kahrl: Ed Wade's new master plan for ultimate world domination.
Charlie (Bethesda): What are your thoughts on Ian Desmond? Does his surprising September power help his case to start?
Christina Kahrl: I really like Desmond, and don't think his power spike's a transient phenomenon. Given that this ballclub just wasted more than two-thirds of a season's second-base starts on Andy Hernandez, Alberto Gonzalez, and Pete Orr, I think Desmond's bid for a middle-infield job should be on next year's list of "make it so."
TGisriel (Baltimore): Will anyone sign Melvin Mora this off-season, or is his career over?
Christina Kahrl: He'll get a NRI at the very least, but unless he has friends in one particular organization or another--not the Orioles--it seems dubious that he's going to be worth much as a utilityman, and certainly should be seen as lock to start at third base for anybody.
KRS (Chicago): Hi Christina- can Chone Figgins play SS? Wondering if the Cubs should try this, making Theriot a utility guy (assuming Baker is the everyday 2B). Thoughts?
Christina Kahrl: I think it's been far too long for Figgins to see him as a shortstop for anybody; I frankly don't know how well a move back to center would go, assuming they make Bradley go away and would be willing to put Fukudome back in right. From your comments, it seems as if Theriot's issue is his thorough adequacy, in a lineup that didn't get enough Aramis Ramirez and had to deal with Soto, Soriano, and Bradley delivering so much less than expected. That's not on Theriot, or at least it shouldn't be.
Yatchisin (Mastodon, Pleistocene): OK, how different would the game be if bats were made from molybdenum?
Christina Kahrl: Hrm. I suppose they might have to encase pitchers in protective foam (except for the arm parts, and assuming they were bolted in facing towards home) for protection. My first thought was plate armor, but that just means the unfortunate moundsman would be jellied by any direct hits.
Greg764 (Pittsburgh): Christina, Garret Jones was really impressive, and pretty consistent, after being given a full-time gig. Think he can put up a 30+ hr season next year, with his average coming back down to say .280?
Christina Kahrl: I know that Kevin Maas gets brought up with Jones, but I don't see it, given that Maas was very much more of a Cust-y type, while Jones' UIBB rate is less than 10 percent. I guess I'm still making my comparison to Paul Sorrento, in that I could see Jones being a useful power source for a couple of seasons in a best-case scenario.
CNB (San Francisco): Hi Christina! Can you finish this comparison for me? Genghis Khan:_______::_______:Ed Wade. Thanks!
Christina Kahrl: :Geronimo::Branch Rickey:
ElAngelo (New York, NY): The Twins are moving outdoors next year. Given that Minnesota in April and October should be, um, chilly, and they won't be playing on artificial turf, should they change their roster construction radically?
Christina Kahrl: That's assuming that guys beyond their lefty power hitters and the pitching have all that much value in the first place. Turf or grass, warm or cold, picking a polar bear over Matt Tolbert might at least score you a few more runs, but picking anybody over Matt Tolbert might score you a few more runs. The Twins need to get busy regardless of their environment. They can't afford to perpetually Punto away opportunities, and history doesn't cherish its post-season speed bumps.
Steve (Baltimore): I was really impressed by Nyjer Morgan's season, do you feel it was more fluke, or finally giving him some at-bats/playing time to showcase his skills?
Christina Kahrl: When you look at things like his line-drive rates, his BABIP, and all that, it doesn't seem all that unusual, given what he did in more limited playing time in his previous big-league spins. We may have our new Lance Johnson, and like Johnson, he could be much better in his 30s than he was in his 20s.
David (Delaware): Wouldn't that make it impossible to pick off runners?
Christina Kahrl: We just allowed molybdenum bats in baseball in a baseball chat; I think we can safely posit a few other things changing as long as we're at it. Outfield hoverboards, anybody?
Joe D. (Inland Empire): I think Eric Patterson has been royally screwed by the total lack of a clear opportunity presented to him: 267 major league PAs scattered over the last three years, when he was (arguably) deserving of a legit shot since well before then. Do you agree, or am I being blinded by my soft-spot for the guy? Can you think of an MI-needy org who should take a whack at him? The Nats? Pirates?
Christina Kahrl: There was talk about converting Patterson into the green 'n gold edition of Figgy, but when push comes to shove, they just didn't employ him in the role. It may not happen, or it may not happen here. As for the middle infield, the A's seem to be one of the few organizations that thinks he can play second at all, and even if they won't really try it for any length of time... He may be headed for some inter-organizational wanderjahre at this rate, no matter how well he hits in Triple-A.
TGisriel (Baltimore): Do you have any favorite baseball stadiums?
Christina Kahrl: I'm really partial to both parks here in Chicago, which goes partway towards explaining why I moved back to the Windy City. The renovations to the Cell have made it a fine place to catch a game, while Wrigley's incomparable.
Christina Kahrl: With that, I should scram, there's writing to be done, after all, and a few other things besides, but I'm happy so many of you took the time to check in and chat, and I'll look forward to the next time 'round. In the meantime, hope to see some of you at the next BP roundtable during the LCS.