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Chat: Joe Sheehan

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday November 19, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Joe Sheehan.


With the hot stove a-burning, before giving thanks why not just talk turkey with BP.com's Joe Sheehan?

Joe Sheehan: I'm finishing up today's PT, and will start the chat once I file, which should be before 1:30 p.m. ET. Thanks.

ashitaka (long beach, ca): Hello Joe. What does a high and low percentage of runners left on base indicate for a pitcher?

Joe Sheehan: My understanding of strand rate is that it doesn't reflect a particular skill, but is rather a number, like BABIP or HR/FB, that tends to stabilize over time. So a one-year spike or trough in that number--I think J.A. Happ had a very low one this year--is likely to regress towards the mean, dragging an ERA with it.

Angel fan (Los Angeles): Do you think the Angels will land Paul Konerko this offseason?

Joe Sheehan: To what possible end? They are just getting done with an aging, immobile, expensive right-handed DH. This is that silly three-way rumor, right? The Angels need Konerko like I need a muscle shirt.

Kyle2099 (San Fran): Joe, Who wins today's NL Cy Young and is it the same person who'd receive your vote?

Joe Sheehan: I think Wainwright wins it in a strongly split vote. I went with Lincecum, but I can't emphasize this enough: there is no wrong answer among the top three candidates. They're in a virtual tie in VORP and SNWLAR.

Steve (DC): If you're the Orioles, when and how do you try to take the step from "talented young team" to actually competing for something?

Joe Sheehan: I think I am still waiting a year to do so, because the pitching isn't quite there and there are too many roster holes to fill at once. In this draft, I target a quick-to-the-majors bat, up the middle if it's there. I'm aggressive in the deep 2010 FA market, looking for a top-tier starter, and in the 2011 market as well. If the young pitching continues to develop, I want to use the depth to trade for a star, preferably in the infield, which is the org's weak spot.

raygu1 (burlington, nj): Joe-thanks for the chat. Are the Dodgers crazy to consider trading Chad Billingsley for Roy Halladay?

Joe Sheehan: Well, no, but that wouldn't be the trade. It's Billingsley and a bunch of other stuff and you have to sign Halladay to an extension. I like Billingsley a lot, and think that I'd rather hold onto him and the prospects rather than deal for Halladay. It's the Johan Santana situation all over again; you're trading for one year and a negotiating window.

Rex Little (Big Bear, CA): In a keeper Strat-O-Matic league, would you take Elvis Andrus or Gordon Beckham? Assume the team's other left-side infielder is someone like Brendan Harris, who can start at SS or 3B as needed.

Joe Sheehan: The difference in their ages and position--the White Sox appear to be committed to the Cuban Shawon Dunston at shortstop--mean I'd take Andrus. Keeper leagues are about long-term value. I like Beckham a lot, but a long-term 1 at short with a decent bat is what you build around.

Martin (Tucson): Who hangs up first on a Justin Upton for Bumgarner-and-Posey swap?

Joe Sheehan: The Diamondbacks, largely because Miguel Montero is pretty good.

Wilfredo (Santa Fe): What can the Rockies do to upgrade the top of their rotation and 2B?

Joe Sheehan: I don't think the top of their rotation is a problem, and even if it was, you can't do anything about it this year. Second base...dumpster-dive. There are dozens of $400,000 solutions out there, many of them better than Clint Barmes. They probably have to worry a bit more about defense than other teams, given the staff, which makes it even easier to find a passable solution.

Dan (Canada): Do you think Scutaro signs to be an everyday shortstop, or does a team return him to his super utility role? There's no way he matches his career year in 2009, right?

Joe Sheehan: I think he signs to be an everyday shortstop and is a super-utility player by the end of the contract. No, there's no way he matches his career year in 2009. I'd love to have him in a three-position, 400-PA role for $5 million a year.

deanmara (Vancouver): Joe, What's your prediction on how much Jeter asks for, what he ends up getting and the rationale behind the Yanks offering what they end up offering. I believe no team out there will pay Jeter more than 10-12 million per year for 3 years. But I suspect the Yanks will bid with themselves and end up offering a contract of about 18 million for 5-7 years. Thoughts?

Joe Sheehan: I don't know, but I do think the time to do this is now, even though the Yankees have never, ever operated this way. Better to sign Jeter now than spend last year with his impending free agency as THE story in New York..."Derek Jeter's last..." will replace "past a diving Jeter" as the running joke. Moreover, you don't want his position being an issue in the negotiation, because even an implicit guarantee that he gets to play shortstop through a deal would be a huge mistake. Sign him to an extension, four years, $80 million (above market, but reflective of specific value to specific franchise), and know that somewhere in there he'll be moving to left field without having to sweat it costing him money.

The actual market value of Derek Jeter? Man, I think we all underestimate how ridiculously popular he is, inside the game and out, and how great the legend is. I could easily see some team--the Orioles, the Cubs, the Angels--blowing out their budgets to land him in the hopes of making huge gains in their fan base.

brian (brooklyn): Do you still do the most valuable commodities in baseball article during the offseason? Was taht you who did it in the first place? Either way, wouldn't J Upton be #1?

Joe Sheehan: That was Nate Silver's piece, although it's an interesting concept we should resurrect. I think Hanley Ramirez, Joe Mauer and Felix Hernandez all challenge Upton.

gabbymatt (NYC): Can you see the Phillies going all in and trading it all for Halliday, possibly signing Billy Wagner and adding Adrian Beltre?

Joe Sheehan: If they didn't do so at the trade deadline, I don't see why they would now. As far as signing those players go, they're both pretty good fits for the Phillies, whose payroll is creeping up a bit.

dianagramr (NYC): The Mets starting 2B on Opening Day 2010 will be ...? In 2011????

Joe Sheehan: Luis Castillo. Ruben Tejada.

Jeff (Denver): Have you heard any rumblings of a possible deal for Atkins? Do the Rockies non-tender him if there are no deals out there?

Joe Sheehan: I think you have to non-tender him. He's been going straight downhill for three years, and he's barely rosterable at this point. He doesn't run or field, so if he's not hitting...well, he's me.

I Got Ripped in 4 Weeks (I'm Crazy Ripped): According to Nightengale's USA Today rumor column, the Yanks have been letting teams know that Swisher is available. Umm...call me crazy, but a contender probably does not sport a Jackson-Gardner-Cabrera outfield, right?

Joe Sheehan: It's trading high, to some extent, and it would free up cash for a FA signing. I haven't seen the Yankees as a player for Holliday or Bay--best players in a weak market is a place to avoid--but trading Swisher would almost mandate them getting one of them. Even signing Damon wouldn't be enough.

Phil S. (NJ): 2nd straight Cy for Lincecum, top 3 within 10 points of each other. Over/under 3.5 Cys for Lincecum in his career?

Joe Sheehan: Over is the way to bet, I guess. The legal trouble is a red flag, and I'm less addressing the named crime and more the judgment in even creating that situation for yourself.

Clancy (Springfield): Can't the Rockies just jettison Deermeat and go with Eric Young, Jr.?

Joe Sheehan: He's not very good defensively, and projects more as a valuable player off the bench than an everyday guy anywhere.

formersd (San Diego): It seems to me that the Padres should be focusing on trading either Kouzmanoff or Headley as opposed to Gonzalez. That's the real organizational logjam, especially with the guys stacking up behind them in the farm system. While they could play Blanks at 1b, he seemed to play well enough in the OF to leave him there until you can sort out other more pressing issues.

Joe Sheehan: Neither of those guys is going to bring back the core of a good team, and that's the kind of trade the Padres need to make. Kouzmanoff has always been a problem for them, forcing Headley out of position for a guy who simply isn't that good. The issues are separate: you trade Gonzalez because you won't be good while he's under contract and he can bring back a huge haul, but you trade Kouzmanoff 'cause he's not that good and in the way of your best alignment of talent.

Joel (GA): Is this year's Greinke the version you expected to see all those years ago when he came up? How good can this guy eventually be in a historical context if this season was a glimpse of years to come?

Joe Sheehan: This was a peak season in what will be a very strong career. Mike Mussina is a pretty good comp in about a million ways.

Elton (Smithtown, NY): So Joba, Montero, and a couple other prospects for Halladay, right? Having Doc and CC in a short series is too tempting to pass up.

Joe Sheehan: I'm not seeing this at all. You saw what Johan Santana eventually went for two years ago. When you're trading for one year and a negotiating window, for a player with a no-trade clause, you're simply not going to go nuts for that player when you have to pay market price for the next six years. It doesn't make any sense for a team to give up 18 years of value for that kind of deal. That's why the Twins got stuck with what they did (Santana didn't help matters by setting a deadline), and why the massive prospect deals proposed aren't going to happen. Getting one year of a player isn't worth all that.

Besides, the Yankees would be fine if they'd just let their five best starters START and leave them the hell alone. they need outfielders first, and if they really want to go nuts on a deal, should be targeting a Grady Sizemore or a Ryan Braun or someone like that.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being mildly complacent and 10 being Rorschach when he realizes what the dogs are chewing on, how mad will most Blue Jays fans including me feel if Halladay is in pinstripes in the spring: 9.7, 9.999, or 1000.45?

Joe Sheehan: What's the alternative, though? You need to build to a 95-win level, and I'm not sure you can do that without trading Halladay. Even if you sign him, which is a reasonable approach, can you put enough team around him to win while he's still good?

Garrett (Arizona): Is Tony Abreu really the solution for the D'backs at 2B? Are they not better off going the free agent route to fill the keystone corner?

Joe Sheehan: I'm not a big fan of Abreu, but again, you can fill second base with any number of options. I think they should have rostered Gotay, to be sure.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): With Boras laying the groundwork for a lot of collusion noise and populist demands for more payroll spending do you see a better year for free agents this winter? How would a second off-season like last year affect the upcoming CBA negotiations?

Joe Sheehan: Not sure if today's column is up yet, but I get into this a bit. I respect what Scott's trying to do, but this year's pool of free agents sucks, and you don't need to hide behind the economy to make a real good case for staying far away.

The industry IS getting smarter. They're recognizing that you don't have to pay for service time. It's not collusion, it's evolution, and it's going to cost the players below the very top tier money, but that money floats up towards the top and down towards the better players on the low end of the service-time continuum.

The industry's problem with elective low payrolls over a period of years can only reasonably be addressed through ownership change or a better revenue-sharing system that corrects for markets, not revenues, and properly incentivizes success. Neither side has been trying for that. Ever.

brian (Brooklyn NY): Who would say no to Carl Crawford for Buster Posey straight up?

Joe Sheehan: The Giants. One year versus six.

brian (brooklyn): Will this year's Butler team be the best mid major team since the Jameer Nelson St Joes squads?

Joe Sheehan: We have a definitional issue, in that I don't classify the Atlantic 14 as a "mid-major" conference. Thanks for the CBB question, though...not sure how much I'll be able to write that stuff this year.

russadams (Target Center): Bill Smith says he expects that Ron Gardenhire will keep Nick Punto in the lineup somewhere. This guy is supposed to be Gardenhire's boss. Can't he make him see sense? I'm tired of this cycle where Punto is handed an opening day job, fails miserably, gets replaced by even worse players, gets the job back for the last month, hits decently, and gets a job again the next year. And since it also seems that the Twins are considering bringing back Joe Crede at third or Orlando Cabrera at second (in order to keep Punto somewhere), which is the better alternative? Finally, wouldn't someone like Felipe Lopez be great for the Twins?

Joe Sheehan: I'm not sure Nick Punto is so much the problem as an inability to put real players at third base and left field is the problem. If Punto can bat ninth, hit what he hits and play plus defense, he's an acceptable solution on a team with seven or eight actual hitters. Punto is better, relative to his position, than Delmon Young or the collective nightmare at third base or what Alexi Casilla (who I like) did this year. Focusing on him and not those problems is a mistake.

Lopez is a good player who brings more offense than defense, and that's always been a good path to the bench in Minnesota.

raygu1 (burlington, NJ): How about those Rider Broncs taking care of Mississippi State last Friday on the road?

Joe Sheehan: And Niagara should have beaten Auburn. The MAAC has four pretty good teams this year, but needs to win almost all of a limited pool of good NC games to have a shot at two or three bids. They just don't seem able to get games.

lagronem (Newark, DE): Hi Joe, Thanks for the chat. Thinking about this questions today: what is the relationship between a high contact rate (90 plus) and walk rate? Is a high contact rate going to suppress walks?

Joe Sheehan: Absolutely. A high contact rate will limit the number of deep counts. The low walk rates of Ichiro Suzuki, Nomar Garciaparra, Don Mattingly...that's partly because when they swing they square the ball up.

TP Lager (NJ): Which player makes more sense for the Twins - Beltre or Figgins?

Joe Sheehan: Figgins. Twins could really use a second OBP guy in front of the beasts. Span/Figgins/Mauer/Morneau/Kubel...that's a little scary.

Coaxette (NY, NY): Jermaine Dye: worth a multi-year deal?

Joe Sheehan: I wouldn't touch him. The uptick in walks and loss of doubles scream a player who's losing his physical skills, and from watching him he really looks slow in the field and at the plate. Huge avoid.

wade (miami): If people won't pay a lot for halladay, why not just resign him in Toronto or let him walk for the picks? minnesota got nothing for johan. the two answers above don't seem to match.

Joe Sheehan: Well, this is the problem: there's no good solution. Signing him is probably the safest course of action, but will he sign, and can a team that needs to win 95 games tie up nearly half of its payroll in two players? Letting him walk...at best that's the 16th and 31st picks, and it could end up the 34th and 65th or something. That leaves trying to make the best trade possible.

It's a very tough spot.

Drungo (SoMd): Will any of the following players be on the Orioles in April: Bell, Snyder, Guthrie, Scott?

Joe Sheehan: Guthrie, who doesn't have much trade value but is a useful innings guy. Scott really needs to be traded while his value is high. I saw both Bell and Snyder in AFL...Bell won't play 150 games at third base in the majors. Snyder looks like he can be Paul Konerko without the peak.

Dennis (Monterey Park, CA): Where do you see Hideki Matsui ending up?

Joe Sheehan: I feel like the Tigers make sense, a contender that got nothing from its DHs this year. Maybe the Rangers. He has to go a team that won't ask him to play the outfield much.

brian (brooklyn): What minor league free agent most made you say Holy crap HE is still around? I remember watching a Mariner game in July at Yankee stadium and being floored when Mike Sweeney came to bat

Joe Sheehan: Mark Bellhorn got like 150 ABs in the Colorado system this year. That surprised me. Hell, Strickland, who I wrote about. I had no idea he was still around, and he's pretty good.

Mike (Chicago): There's alot of noise here about the Cubs trading for Curtis Granderson, but a team can't really play him and fukudome, with their platoon deficits and expect that to be an even average outfield, can they?

Joe Sheehan: Sure. It would give the Cubs a true CF for the first time in a while, and you deal with the platoon issues in March when you see how the roster will shake out. You probably platoon one of them and move the other down in the lineup. I don't think the Cubs can get Granderson--lots of teams have need and better prospects--but I wouldn't let this issue stand in the way.

Vern (Col. Springs): I figured Atkins is non-tendered, Stewarts at the hot corner, EYJR is at second, and barmes is utility play everywhere. Do you like that better then having Hudson or someone else come in at the keystone??

Joe Sheehan: A team with Jimenez and Cook is not going to get the results it wants by playing Eric Young Jr. at second base.

Aaron (Tulsa): How long until MLB adds two teams so we can have two leagues with four divisions each and more exciting Septembers?

Joe Sheehan: From the standpoint of industry health, there is a much, much stronger case for eliminating two teams than there is for adding two teams. Any two new teams will be small-market by definition, and adding more of those does the game absolutely no good.

Phil S. (NJ): Let's say a desperate GM is willing to take on the Wells contract in a Halladay deal at the cost of not giving up *any* serious prospects. What's the best course of action for Anthopoulos then?

Joe Sheehan: Call me and say thanks for the idea, since I proposed it in June or so. This is BY FAR the best trade the Jays could make, as there's no number of prospects they can realistically get for one year of no-trade-clause Halladay that would be worth more than moving $100 million off their books over the next five seasons.

I get that you can't do it, for PR purposes, but that's the move. Halladay and Wells for David Robertson. Halladay and Wells for Hong-Chih Kuo. Halladay and Wells for Jeff Francouer.

Phil S. (NJ): Hi, Joe. Jason Bay reportedly rejected the Sawx offer of 4 years, $60 mil. Good move or bad move by Bay's agent?

Joe Sheehan: That really seems like an upper bound for Bay. I can see wanting to wait out Holliday, but the one lesson from last winter is that teams have learned to quantify defense, and a guy like Bay gets eaten by the math.

robert (glen ellyn, il): Who is the favorite in the NL central next year?

Joe Sheehan: The Cardinals have the best front-end talent and should even be a little better around the rest of the roster.

MickeyRivers (Philadelphia): What are your thoughts on Alex Rios for 2010?

Joe Sheehan: Plus defensive center fielder who'll hit .275 with some power and not enough walks. He's more or less comparable to Aaron Rowand, I think.

And if it were my team, I'd STILL move Ramirez to CF. Grrr.

cjbuet (madison, wi): Joe, Do you think Fowler takes a big step next season, especially in the power department?

Joe Sheehan: Just from watching him, and IANAS, but I don't know that there's much power to come. He strikes me maybe as a .300 hitter with some doubles, but as few as 5-8 homers a year. He just didn't seem like he drives the ball. I think if he's a .300/.370/.425 guy he can play for me, any time.

strupp (Madison): Keith Law is attempting to justify his leaving Carpenter off his CYA ballot, and voted Vasquez 2nd. WTF?

Joe Sheehan: I guarantee you that Keith will have a reason, and it will be well thought out and reflect a cogent process. That puts him well ahead of the field.

Scott (Greenville, SC): Thoughts on Homer Bailey turning a corner at the end of the year?

Joe Sheehan: It was against a really weak group of opponents. He's been mishandled, and if left alone, you're looking at an erratic league-average starter.

Phil S. (NJ): Bigger free agent "fool's gold" - Bay or Lackey?

Joe Sheehan: Bay.

John (Trenton, NJ): What are your thoughts on Miguel Montero for 2010? Will he build on his strong 2nd half?

Joe Sheehan: I think I lost this answer...like him a lot, championship-caliber bat, .290/.365/.470, average defense, no speed.

CrisE (St Paul, MN): Will compensation picks be left in place in the next CBA? Can TOR sign Halladay and count on the picks after '11?

Joe Sheehan: That's not an option, since you won't be signing him to a one-year deal. As far as the larger question goes, we always hear that comp picks are going away, and they never do. I'll believe it when I see it. They do finally seem to be having their intended effect, by the way: diminishing the demand for free agents.

brian (brooklyn): How much can Lincecum now expect in arbitration? 15 million?

Joe Sheehan: Is he eligible? If so, whatever the 2+ record is, he'll break it. He'll have the greatest body of work of any 2+ player, at least in terms of what plays well in the room, like awards.

Dorn (DC): Do you think the Pirates will be a .500 team by 2011? 2012?

Joe Sheehan: 2012 sounds like a reasonable target.

Joe Sheehan: Thanks for all the questions (and your patience). Have a great Thanksgiving--my favorite holiday!--and I'll come back during the winter meetings.

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