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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday October 28, 2009 2:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.


Jay Jaffe may be mourning his Dodgers' second straight LCS wipeout, but he's turning to the World Series and happy to talk about it.

Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, ladies and and gents, and welcome to today's chat. Apologies for having to reschedule from Monday. Luckily, the questions that were in the queue were saved. The World Series opens tonight, weather permitting, and we've got much to discuss.

The Flying Bernard (Acton, MA): You picked Yankees over Phillies in your chat before the playoffs started. So far so good! Do you still think the Yankees will win?

Jay Jaffe: Thank you for noticing - I'd almost forgotten that in the wake of having gotten the NLCS call wrong.

I do think the Yankees will win; I picked them in six games in today's preview based upon the depth of their lineup, the experience of their rotation in working on three days' rest, the way their lefty starters match up with the Phillies' lefty hitters and vice versa, and the presence of Mariano Rivera.

Nick Stone (New York, NY): Jay, I assume the Yankees will start Sabathia twice on short rest in order to get him three starts; would the Yankees be wise to start Pettitte once of short rest (games 3+6) in order to get 5 lefty starts in a seven game series? Or is the platoon advantage vs. the Phillies not THAT important? Or do you think the Yankees will through in Gaudin and go with a 4 man rotation?

Jay Jaffe: Hey, Nick! I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out the two teams' rotation options on a game-by-game basis. Cutting and pasting from the preview, here's what I came up with:

Game 1: Sabathia (7) v. Lee (9)
Game 2: Burnett (6) v. Martinez (12)
Game 3: Pettitte (5) v. Hamels (9)
Game 4: Sabathia (3) or Gaudin (11) vs. Lee (3), Happ (10), or Blanton (12)
Game 5: Burnett (3), Sabathia (4, if Gaudin Game 4), or Gaudin (12) vs. Happ, Blanton or Lee (4)
Game 6: Pettitte (3) or Burnett (5, if Sabathia Game 4 and Gaudin Game 5) vs. Martinez (5), Hamels (3), Happ or Blanton
Game 7: Sabathia (3, if pitched Game 4) or Pettitte (4, if Sabathia Game 4) vs. Lee (3, if pitched Game 4) or Hamels (4)

While the Phillies hit lefties about as well as righties in the regular season, they haven't been all that successful doing so in the postseason, batting at a .194/.322/.444 clip, with a few big hits - Ryan Howard's two-run double off Clayton Kershaw, his homer off Randy Wolf, and Raul Ibanez's homer off George Sherrill - offsetting their woes. My read on Sabathia and Pettitte is that they're better than the Dodger southpaw starters at this point in time, so yes, I do think it makes sense to throw more lefties at them, particularly given that Gaudin doesn't match up well with them at all.

dianagramr (NYC): Hi Jay ... thanks for the chat! This is gonna be one interesting Series, and it may come down to which manager makes the fewer mistakes. So, which MANAGER do you take in a seven-game series, assuming they have had the exact same roster?

Jay Jaffe: Hey Diana! I give the edge to Charlie Manuel here. Over the course of the regular season, Joe Girardi showed considerable improvement relative to his first year at the helm of the Yankees, but he's made numerous mistakes this fall, overmanaging both his bench and his bullpen, getting too attached to small-ball tactics, and creating controversy by starting Jose Molina, who hits about as well as Girardi did with his legs tied together.

Though his unwillingness to separate Utley and Howard in the batting order drives me crazy, Manuel has done a great job of patching together his shaky bullpen in October, he's shown a quick hook when he needed to, and he's stayed out of his own way. Plus he's already got the ring from last year, so the burden of proof is on Girardi to prove he's the better pilot, and I simply don't see it.

shamah (NYC): Jay, it's raining like crazy here. If games are rained out, who does it benefit? CW says Phillies, because they have more starting pitching depth (with Happ and Blanton vs. Gaudin), but is that right? The drop off from Lee to Pedro/Hamels is much steeper than Sabathia to Pettitte/Burnett, so it seems that it's the Phillies who need three Lee starts more than the Yankees needing three Sabathia starts.

Jay Jaffe: The rain is supposedly supposed to let up by game time. If tonight is rained out it doesn't help or hurt either Game One starter more than the other, both will be on ample rest. However, it could open the door to the Yankees moving Pettitte up to throw Game Two on four days rest, then come back for Game Five on three. The Phillies don't have any real reason to shuffle their rotation, and yes, I think they need three from Lee more than the Yanks need three from Sabathia.

Lefty Gomez (Pasadena, CA): Why not start Lee & Hamels 1 & 2 in Yankee Stadium? Better to throw the Ls in NYC, right? Plus, it's not like Pedro has a good track record in Yankee Stadium and he'll most likely pitch games 2 and 6.

Jay Jaffe: Back up a bit, my southpawed friend.

Though his two posteason starts were not his finest hour, Pedro Martinez went 8-5 with a 3.33 ERA in Yankee Stadium II including his playoff appearances, which is a record that just about any other pitcher on earth would sign for.

Now, this isn't Yankee Stadium II, and this isn't that Pedro anymore, but neither, by the looks of what we've seen, is the Cole Hamels we've seen over the past month the same dominating hurler we saw last fall. Hamels' problems seem to be more mental than physical, and I think Manuel is trying to keep him in a comfort zone by pitching him at home, where he pitched better this year (3.76 ERA to 4.99) than on the road.

jschmeagol (hyattsville, md): How many HOFers do you see playing this week? Obviously ARod, Jeter, Rivera, and Pedro. I would say that Sabbathia and Utley will have good arguments (I like peak guys) while Pettite, Howard, Lee, Hamels, Posada, Damon, and maybe even Rollins or Teixiera could have HOF careers. Any thoughts? Did I forget anyone?

Jay Jaffe: With the exception of Posada, who's building a reasonable case, I think there's a huge gulf between the first four guys you mention and the rest of them.

When I look at an active player's Hall chances, in order to take them seriously, I have to see a peak JAWS score that's comparable to the average Hall of Famer at his position, based on his best seven WARP scores. The guys in question, for the most part, only have three or four great seasons under their belts thus far, so it's far too early to start shaping their arguments without indulging in complete speculation as to how the rest of their careers could play out.

I looked at Damon recently. His numbers don't really measure up but he's got a shot at 3,000 hits, which is virtually an automatic entry, so if I had to pick a guy from that second pack aside from Posada to break in, he's the one I'd actually dare place money on. The rest are just too far away.

Mike (Utica,NY): Do you think that the Dodgers need to go out an trade for a true number one starter. Would Toronto accept a Billingsley, Broxton, and Gordon package for Halladay?

Jay Jaffe: It's a tough call. I definitely think Kershaw and Billingsley both have the capability to be true number ones, but they're not there yet, and by the time they get there, the Dodgers' current nucleus may start to disperse. Given that Kerhsaw seems to have passed Billingsley on the track towards getting there and that there may be some concerns about the latter's conditioning, I could see building a deal around him, but adding Broxton and Gordon to that package is too much to bear.

I'd far rather see the Dodgers go after John Lackey as a free agent. No, he's not as good as Halladay, but throwing him 1-4-7 in a series is no shame, and all he costs is money and a draft pick.

David (Sonoma State University, CA): Thoughts on Colletti's extension?

Jay Jaffe: You know how some players have their best years right as they're about to become free agents? That's what happened with Colletti - he had a fantastic year. No new dumb contracts, great plays towards the end of the winter to get bargains on Randy Wolf, Orlando Hudson and Manny Ramirez (who exercised his player option and will return, according to the tweets I've received today), and smart in-season acquisitions that helped the team reach the NLCS at minimal future cost (though Josh Bell does make me wince a little). Hell, even Juan Pierre made him look good by playing well during Manny's absence.

The Dodgers have now made the postseason in three of Colletti's four years, and while that certainly owes something to his predecessor, Paul DePodesta, and his underlings, Logan White, Kim Ng and DeJon Watson, it's very tough to kick a guy out the door when he's at the helm of a team with that recent track record.

Which doesn't mean he doesn't scare the bejesus out of me as a Dodger fan at times, but I guess I'd rather hear him say he's not trading the Dodgers core youngsters for an ace (as he did last week) than floating the idea of trading a Kershaw or a Kemp (as he did last winter).

Matt (Chicago): Jay -- I know predicting how the BBWAA will vote on matters pertaining to PEDs is like reading tea leaves, but do you see McGwire's re-entry into the game as the likely first step in rehabilitating his HOF chances?

Jay Jaffe: It's a start, yes, because I think the impression that's set in during his post-Congressional life as a hermit is that he's a cheating cheater cheatypants who really could take or leave baseball once the cheering and the millions of dollars stopped.

I almost gagged the other day when a big-named writer said that McGwire needed to open up about the past in order to have any credibility. As if said writer had any credibility on the matter himself for under-reporting what was going on right in front of him for so many years while lionizing the McGwires.

collins (greenville nc): Nice series analysis. MN wants to extend Mauer this winter. What do you think they should offer? 7/180 or so?

Jay Jaffe: Thanks for the kind word. It's an honor to be tabbed to write any of the postseason previews for BP, and this is the first time I've gotten all the way to the World Series. I'm glad the effort I put into that lengthy beast was appreciated.

As for Mauer, how does the municipality of Minneapolis and naming rights on the new ballpark sound?

In all seriousness, 7/$180 sounds a little high - Teixeira got 8/$180 from the Yankees a year ago, the economy is still stagnant, and the Twins can't go dollar for dollar with the Yanks. Given Mauer's physical concerns, I'd go shorter on the contract at a higher annual rate and see if that gets anywhere, $4/100 or so, maybe with a big vesting option.

AlexBelth (Bronx): Jay, Is there any particular pitching match-up that you are looking forward to in the series? And, I assume that Cliff Lee will go after Alex Rodriguez tonight and challenge him. If Rodriguez has some decent at bats, do you think the Phillies pitchers stay away from him until Teixeira or Matsui start hitting?

Jay Jaffe: Yo Alex! The one I'm actually looking forward to the most is Sabathia versus Howard. Not only are those two very big and very likable dudes facing off, but given the prospect of CC going three times in the series and the questions surrounding Howard's ability to hit lefties, I think that matchup will tell us something about what's going to happen over the next four to seven games.

As for A-Rod, I think the Phillies pitchers will be careful around him. I can see them going after Tex and Godzilla until they start hitting.

Rohan (Bali): Worse World Series for the Mets (Phillies vs. Yankees), Indians (two former pitchers squaring off in Game 1), or Mike Mussina (got to the Yankees a year after a World Series and they get back the year he leaves)?

Jay Jaffe: Mets, Mets, Mets. I think Jon Stewart said it best on the Daily Show the other night:

"I hate the Yankes and the Phillies. I'm a Mets' fan, so for me, [Sunday] night was like coming home... and catching your wife ----ing the Yankees and the Phillies."

Christina Kahrl (BP Volcano Hideout): Does anyone ever talk about the ex-Dodgers factor the way Mike Royko would about the ex-Cub factor?

Jay Jaffe: Ah, Royko, my introduction to the Op-Ed page. I don't think anyone talks about the ex-Dodger factor *as a hazard* the way they do about ex-Cubs. Let's face it, the defending champs are living proof that there's no real curse there, as Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Davey Lopes all had ties to the Dodger org. This year Pedro Martinez and Chan Ho Park have been added to the equation.

Some painful memories for Dodger fans there, and I'm not talking about the NLCS, either.

dtwhite (Toronto): I know it's early, but how do Utley's HoF chances look so far?

Jay Jaffe: On the one hand, he's got five years towards a very solid peak score, he's got a ring and some All-Star appearances, and he's just finishing his Age 30 season.

On the other hand, the bar for second basemen in the Hall is unusually high - Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker can't even get in - and there's a Nate Silver study that showed that second basemen tend to peak earlier and have shorter careers than other position players. Utley's had injury concerns over the past few years, and I worry if that will take its toll down the road.

Which would be a damn shame, because he's one of my favorite players to watch.

Mike (Utica,NY): Broxton, everyone in LA wants him gone as he can't get a big save, Billingsley while good I don't think he's an ace. Gordon could hit .240 next year. Trade those three, sign back Sherrill, and add another pitcher.

Jay Jaffe: Which is why professionals are paid to run baseball teams instead of fans. You shouldn't make personnel decisions based up on what happens in the postseason. It's a small sample of games against the highest caliber of competition, and somebody's got to lose. When it happens, that's not an indictment of a player or an organization, it's a bad week.

Broxton was the NL's best reliever during the regular season, and if he didn't have one bad game, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Gordon is years away from the majors, so what he hits next year is immaterial.

askeys (Los Angeles): Given that the Angels payroll will likely only support re-siging of a portion of their free agents, would bringing Figgins back make sense in light of his multi year run of playoff collapses?

Jay Jaffe: Again, you don't make personnel decision based upon a small sample of postseason performances. There are reasons not to sign Figgins, who's coming of his Age 31 season, who's had trouble staying healthy (nearly 100 games missed in 2007-2008) and who's just had a career year based on a walk total that's light years beyond his previous showings.

Will that new-found plate discipline stick? Will the Halos be better off letting Brandon Wood finally have his day? Would they be better off spending the money for Figgins on retaining John Lackey? Those are questions the Angels have to answer.

gabbymatt (NYC): Does Manuel adjust his order and alternate left handed hitters and right handed hitters down to the 6 hole?

Jay Jaffe: If there's one thing I'm sure about, it's that if he didn't split Howard and Utley in last year's playoffs or in the first two rounds this year, he's not going to do it in this series.

David (Delaware): Worse hazard to the ears in Game 2: Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, or hearing 50,000 drunk New Yorkers chant "who's your daddy?" over and over for four hours?

Jay Jaffe: Well, there's a finite chance Pedro and the Phillies could win that game, so I'd say Buck and McCarver are the worse hazard.

Steve Phillips (Clinic): Can you believe what I did? I can't believe I offered David Wright to the Jays for Jose Cruz Jr. in 2002 and they declined. Will I ever be a GM in MLB again?

Jay Jaffe: Yes, I can believe you did it again. Like strikeout rate, plate discipline and health, the ability to operate one's zipper appropriately is a skill - adjusted for context, performance in that category correlates from one year to the next as opposed to fluctuating randomly. Let's just say your track record didn't offer much hope.

And let's face it: you're done in MLB. Younger and smarter GMs are coming along every day.

Dr. Wayne Pitcher (Castro Valley, CA): Does Derek Jeter get unanimous election to the Hall of Fame? It seems like he's the test case--great stats, all the intangibles, not implicated in the steroid witch-hunt, and wasn't part of the '94 strike (no, I don't think using PEDs or striking should be held against a player, I just know some curmudgeon voters do).

Jay Jaffe: Not unanimous, because there are assclowns out there who insist upon mailing back blank ballots to protest the potential election of anyone who played during the so-called "Steroid Era." Jeter could set a record for highest voting percentage, though.

Charlie (Bethesda): Why is every Phillies fan the saintly representation of all thing baseball and every Yankees fan a borderline criminal? Something in the NY water? Or do the rich capitalist oligarchs the run the Yankees pay their fans to be brutish?

Jay Jaffe: You'll never hear me nominate a Phillies fan for sainthood. After all, the city of Philadelphia greased the lampposts to protect against the possibility of a wild celebration if the Phils won the NLCS - they didn't have to do that here.

I don't know about Citizens Bank Park, but Veterans Stadium had a jail in the basement to handle all of the drunks. Again, nothing like that in the New York parks.

Sam (Philadelphia): Who has the bullpen advantage in this series if we take Lidge and Rivera out of the equation?

Jay Jaffe: I still like the Yankees' setup corps better, but it does seem like there are health and fatigue issues on both sides that cloud the picture, and I don't think much of the lefties in either bullpen.

Mo (Las Vegas): Now that Hoyer has been hired by SD, will he blink first or Theo on AGonzalez for Bucholz, Lowrie, Reddick and Kalish?

Jay Jaffe: I don't see the deal going down. While there are reasonable arguments to be made for trading Gonzalez at this point in time, it will be another major blow to the fan base if he's dealt anywhere, and if he sends him back to Boston it will be a PR disaster because of the appearance of impropriety. It just gets him off on the wrong foot in too many ways.

Eli (Brooklyn): The Yankees' can't be seriously considering going with Gaudin, right? With his career platoon splits, he'd be killed...do you think Girardi will do a better job in the WS, or will all his worst over managing tendencies come out with NL ball? I'm hoping that by not carrying Cervelli, the Jose Molina experiment is over, but that's probably wishful thinking...

Jay Jaffe: I don't know how seriously they're considering it, because I have to think a guy who knows the numbers the way Girardi knows the numbers will see what a bad idea that would be given Gaudin's platoon splits and his control woes.

As for Molina... I'm afraid it's beyond the experimental stage. It's the self-defeating part of Girardi's plan.

Roy Halladay (Florida): What are the chances I make the HoF?

Jay Jaffe: 50/50

mattymatty2000 (Phillly, PA): Do the Red Sox need any serious improvements over the winter or is this just a case of 'it didn't work this time but that doesn't mean it won't next season'?

Jay Jaffe: They've got to solve their shortstop problem given the fact that they finished 27th or so in Defensive Efficiency, they need a bat in left to replace Jason Bay assuming they don't re-sign him (and I wouldn't), and they need more rotation depth. None of those are unsolvable problems for a team with their resources and smarts.

Christina Kahrl (BP Volcano Hideout): So, is Brooklyn more for the Mets, or the Yankees, or whoever's in the playoffs that lets them ignore the Knicks and Nets this time of year?

Jay Jaffe: As a whole, I think Brooklyn's more for the Mets, but around my neighborhood off Fulton Street Mall I see more Yankees caps than Mets caps, and plenty of Knicks gear as well.

collins (greenville nc): There was talk a while back about a BP 80s book. I was excited about that, but haven't heard anything in a long time. Dead project?

Jay Jaffe: To the best of my knowledge (which ain't much), it's in limbo.

Ron (Vancouver): When can you declare a former top prospect a bust? Are Delmon Young, Alex Gordon, and Jay Bruce busts?

Jay Jaffe: I think a player's first year of arbitration eligibility is a good point of reckoning, because it's at that point where they start to cost real money instead of something closer to the major league minimum. Not that it's the final word, but it's certainly when a team has to start considering how much future investment a player is worth.

By that token, I'd call Young a bust. Gordon's at three years of service, too, but he gets a pass because of injury. Bruce has at least another year before that point is reached, because he's probably going to be short of where the Super Two line is in 2010.

SC (DC): Which PECOTAs are you most eager to see? I'm curious what it thinks of the next five years of Matt Wieters, him having not yet fulfilled his promise to bring peace in our time and put a chicken in every pot.

Jay Jaffe: I'm eager to see all of them, actually, because that means the fun is about to begin, whereas now, with only the World Series in front of us, the bleak days are drawing nearer.

Wieters is definitely one I'm looking forward to seeing. The more information input into the system, the more reliable its output, and I think Wieters' sky-high forecast was the result of reading too much into too small a sample. I still think he'll be a star, though - that's a pretty noncontroversial statement on which statheads and scouts have already agreed.

collins (greenville nc): People seem to think Greinke will win the Cy this year, which seems to indicate that the voters are getting more sophisticated. Do you think the same is happening with the HOF? (I wonder if 3000 hits will continue to be automatic HOF, if the writers get smarter.)

Jay Jaffe: Incrementally more sophisticated, and in Greinke's case I think it owes a lot to the work of Joe Posnanski, who for my money is the best sportswriter in America and one of the most widely read and respected. As a KC-based writer, he's covered Greinke during his entire career, and as somebody who does a very nice job of explaining the stathead side of things to a wide audience, he certainly did a great job of drawing attention to the facets of Greinke's great season even when the win total looked unimpressive.

Rob (Andover, CT): Do you think how a player performs in one post-season series has any predictive power re: what he will do in the next round? I don't, but it seems lots of people do. I remember during the Yankees dynasty run there would be series in which a guy like, say, Bernie would be flat AWFUL. Next series the dude his .500 with power. Making predictions based on how hot or cold a guy was in the LCS makes no sense to me.

Jay Jaffe: Keep resisting the dark side, Rob. There's no predictive power to take from a short series unless it affects player availability (injuries).

Frenk (Brooklyn): With Yorvit Torrealba now a free agent, will the Rockies finally hand the full-time starting duties to Chris Iannetta? Or are they going to sign some lesser veteran catcher (such as Torrealba) to eat away half of Iannetta's potential playing time again?

Jay Jaffe: If they don't make Iannetta their first-string catcher, then they're idiots. I can think of at least 25 teams who should trade for him if that's the case.

SC (DC): Bruce a bust?!?! His 162 game average (for the 209 games he's played thus far) are 33HR and .240/.309/.460. Not what you want from a 28 year old, but at 22 (where Young is 24 and Gordon 25) those are very impressive numbers.

Jay Jaffe: Read again - I may not have been entirely clear, and I'm not terribly impressed with his game (that plate discipline will be the death of him if it doesn't improve) but I didn't call him a bust.

Cleveland Sports Fan (Cleveland): I have money to spend, but give me 3 reasons why I should buy season tickets for the Indians next season?

Jay Jaffe: 1) The return of Grady Sizemore
2) The likelihood that the team couldn't possibly get off to a worse start than in three of the last four years.
3) The fact that they're unlikely to trade a Cy Young winner for a third straight year.

In all honesty, I think it's going to be a lean year, but I like what they did in hiring Manny Acta, and there are several young players, starting with Matt LaPorta, whose development is worth watching.

Christina Kahrl (BP Volcano Hideout): Don't forget to keep some of your powder pressed, dry, whatever, cuz we've got a roundtable tonight as the action kicks off. Can't speak for anyone else, but nothing beats Mexiyummies made at home from scratch.

Jay Jaffe: Indeed. I've got to take a radio hit in Toledo (see the home page for a link to a live stream - I always have fun on that one) in a few minutes. I'll be back to partake in the roundtable later on.

Jay Jaffe: Thanks for stopping by this afternoon's chat. I'm told that the weather over Yankee Stadium has improved to the point that the sun peeked out, the tarp was removed, and the grounds crew got to doing the voodoo that they do so well. I think we might just have some baseball ahead of us tonight. Check back for our roundtable come game time.

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