With the winter shopping season kicking into high gear, you'll want to check the numbers with BP's Eric Seidman.
Eric Seidman: Alrighty everyone, back from work and ready to chat. Let's get to it.
jschmeagol (hyattsville, md): Would you rather have John Lackey or two from the high upside/injured grouping of Bedard, Harden, and Sheets, thinking that a one year, 8 mil plus option deal (or something similar) would work for them? I might lean toward the latter and would certainly choose the latter over Marquis, Pineiro, or Wolf.
Eric Seidman: It's funny you should ask because I have an article going up later today in which I break down 10 free agent SPs, separating them into groups based on their proneness to injury. I personally think it would be a more sound strategy do grab Bedard and Harden on 1-yr deals with options than to give Wolf, Pineiro or Marquis deals resembling that of Ollie Perez.
Robin (NJ): Does Jack Cust make any sense for the Mets? What would be Oakland's asking price, maybe Daniel Murphy in a straight swap?
Eric Seidman: I have no idea why the Mets would want Jack Cust. He can't play the outfield, the NL doesn't have a DH, and unless they were going to use him in a Matt Stairs with the Phillies type of role, it makes no sense. And even if they did want him to be their Stairs, there are plenty of freely available guys like Andy Tracy who could do the same thing without expensing much.
Rex Little (Big Bear, CA): Why wasn't Ben Zobrist a bigger story during the season? His numbers weren't historic in and of themselves, but has a utility player ever hit like that? And has any player ever hit like that at age 28 after putting up a .200/.228/.275 line in his age 25-26 seasons combined?
Eric Seidman: Zobrist excelled under the radar for a couple of reasons in my opinion, dealing with the Rays falling out of the race relatively early as well as Zobrist's utility status and prior track record. He didn't garner regular playing time until Iwamura went out and nothing was really expected of him to begin with, unlike teammate Carlos Pena whom everyone always saw as having star potential. Plus, the vast majority of fans thought his season was a fluke, and analysts may have become skeptical since so much of the WARP-type value comes from small samples of defense at several positions. While Zobrist legitimately had a fantastic season with the bat and the glove, it may take two more years of similar production before anyone really gives him credit. If the Rays rebound, however, in part thanks to his numbers, I doubt he'll really care.
dianagramr (NYC): Hi Eric .... thanks for the chat ...
There is no way the Mets blow up the team in '10 and build for '11 and beyond, right?
If they are out of it come the '10 ASB, could you see them dealing Beltran?
Eric Seidman: The Mets had one of the most unfortunate seasons in recent memory last year, but it's easy to forget that they were projected by many to win the division and easily have the talent to do so moving forward. I don't see them blowing anything up over the next couple of years, especially given the fact that they won't extract tremendous returns on injury-prone players.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Last week, Joe Sheehan scared me thoroughly with his accurate assessment of the bind the Blue Jays are in regarding Halladay. As much as I think he's right, could you please present the rosy picture for the team and make my day in the process? Thank you.
Eric Seidman: No, because I'm always a brutally honest person. There is nothing rosy about this picture. By publicly stating he will not re-sign and all of the hoopla surrounding last year's deadline, as well as the idea that teams will supposedly part with less because they won't have Doc for that extra half-year, and the very short list of teams with prospects and money to pull off such a deal, it is unlikely anyone will offer up multiple top-tier guys, forcing the Jays to sell low. Another question in this queue asked if the Yankees would part with Hughes/Montero/Jackson and I highly doubt they would even need to go that far.
Will (Fredericton): Let's not pull any punches here: the whole kerfuffle about the NL Cy Young voting has much more to do with who voted than whom he voted for, correct?
Eric Seidman: I think the "who" was much more of a coincidence and that the kerfuffle had more to do with the media constantly suggesting that only Lincecum/Carpenter/Wainwright is worthy of the award and anyone who disagrees doesn't understand baseball. This is of course ludicrous, but that the "rebels" were Keith Law and Will Carroll was more of adding fuel to their fire than igniting it.
fratboy96 (Boston, MA): Fantasy keepers: which one of Buchholz, Vazquez, or Kershaw do I hang on to?
Eric Seidman: If you're talking about performance next season, Vazquez. If it's someone you'll hold for the next several years, the Teen Wolf.
brian (brooklyn): I know he is an on base machine but can Nick Johnson survive as a first baseman with a 405 slugging %? Do you see his absence of power last year as a one time blip as he came back from an injury or his expected level of performance going forward due to all of his injuries?
Eric Seidman: He'll almost certainly hit for more power moving forward but my concern would be can he stay in the field? His range is dwindling and that does not help prevent injuries, so he might be best-suited for DH duty somewhere. Maybe a perfect fit for the Rangers as a DH to aid in their on base department.
Rob (Alaska): I'm interested in your thoughts about the shape of the offseason. It seemed like last year everybody was waiting for Manny to sign to begin the cascade of other signings. Who is the player who fits that role this year (if anyone) and, holy mackerel, is it possible that it's Chone Figgins? He seems to be on many teams' radar and is also central to whether the Angels pursue Lackey (they've said they can only sign one of the two), which begins the pitching cascade. If I'm crazy, please don't tell me.
Eric Seidman: I actually think the reverse is going to happen with Figgins. We'll see something like Detroit re-sign Polanco, the Phillies re-sign DeRosa, and Beltre go somewhere on a 2-20 with a 3rd yr option, meaning that Figgins won't get anywhere near the 5-50 his agent has been touting. Add in the lack of any superb pitchers aside from John Lackey and an eerily long list of injury prone starters and it might not be that teams are waiting for someone to set the market but rather taking much more time deciding to whom they should open their checkbooks.
Quentin (Chicago): I'm assuming that Kershaw's Teen Wolf? I saw him at a game in Milwaukee this summer. After the first couple of innings it seemed that he was really struggling, but he ended up giving up 2 hits a 2 walks with 9 strikeouts in 6 innigns. Sneaky good game.
Eric Seidman: Yep, Kershaw=Teen Wolf. I think I've made it abundantly clear in these chats just how high I am on his future. He might have just become able to legally drink and he might not be able to grow a full beard, but the dude can pitch.
Wendy (Madrid): Who are some of the top prospects you like for next year? I'm guessing Strasburg and Heyward are givens.
Eric Seidman: I'll be keeping my eye on Heyward, Posey, and Carlos Santana. Strasburg of course but it's unclear if he is a September callup or if he will be in uniform come June.
Christina Kahrl (BP Volcano Hideout): Your article is now live, and it'll cost a million dollars to read. Or a lot less than that.
Eric Seidman: Well, it's definitely worth it.
Greg (St. Louis ): What teams do you see lining up to trade for Miguel Cabrera?
Eric Seidman: I wonder if he would be the backup plan for the Red Sox if they cannot land Adrian Gonzalez. They could certainly stand to part with talent and absorb Cabrera's contract, and they are known to be seeking another bopper.
P (MPLS): Is it so wrong to hope the Twins will make even a modest free agent signing? Is it sad to wish for Adrian Beltre?
Eric Seidman: I can see them springing for Beltre upon realizing that Orlando Cabrera at 2B and Nick Punto at 3B is fairly absurd for a potential contender, and they might be in line to offer one of those incentive-laden deals to a Ben Sheets type of pitcher, but they are yet to be linked to any truly impactful move. Granted, bringing in JJ Hardy had the effect of signing a young and solid SS, so it hasn't been all bad for Minny thus far.
Mark (Milwaukee): Setting aside the very real question of whether he would even do it, does moving Sheets to the pen make any sense or is his an issue of how he's built rather than how often he is used? In other words, the risk of him breaking down is what it is so you might as well use him in as many innings as possible.
Eric Seidman: I feel like this is more of the former than the latter, though Will Carroll is the guy to ask regarding that. If you sign Sheets, it is to be a starter.
Rob (Alaska): Thanks for the answer. So if Lackey walks for big dollars, and the Angels re-sign Figgins on the cheap, do they package up Brandon Wood and others for a big Halladay push?
Eric Seidman: Yeah, I don't see why not. Wood just doesn't seem to have a future in LA and he would certainly provide utility to other teams while representing the type of quality player Anthopolous has expressed interest in acquiring for Doc.
Bill (New Mexico): Suppose you're Joel Pineiro and trying to decide which offer to grossly overpay you you're going to accept. If you're looking for another team with a pitching coach with the powers of a voodoo curse (let's face it, how else could Dave Duncan have done with Pineiro what he did?), which team, and which coach, do you find most appealing?
Eric Seidman: Pineiro is unlikely to sign somewhere because of a specific pitching coach. The Cards may have taken a chance on him given Duncan's super-powers, but I cannot foresee a situation in which he and his agent decide that Team X is the place to go because they have Pitching Coach Y, unless it involves the Cardinals being in the ballpark of other offers. This just has the feel of an eventual Mets overpay.
J. Clancy Wiggum (Exhibition Stadium): Cabrera's got to be big news; just unbelievable they'd turn 'round and trade him after Miller/Maybin et al and taking on Willis's scud missle of a deal and arm.
Pipe dream that a rebuilding team is better off grabbing that young guy now to build around, or is that just a bad way to deal with pre-arb years?
Eric Seidman: There is a big difference between putting someone on the trading block, a la Mike Lowell, and listening to offers. Right now it's unclear which bin Cabrera falls into, but I would tend to lean towards the latter. Actively shopping a player with a $152 million contract in the hopes of cutting costs is not necessarily the best strategy to extract a great return. They won't move Cabrera, likely a big key to their future success, unless Dombrowski is wow'd and can get more than he surrendered (Miller/Maybin).
Phil (NJ): Should the Dodgers cough up Billingsley-plus in a Halladay trade?
Eric Seidman: I'm admittedly torn here. I'm not very high on Billingsley in the sense that I cannot see him ever being more than a Matt Cain-type of pitcher, a #2 or so without command who can miss bats but issues too many walks. This doesn't make him a poor pitcher but I have a tough time seeing him become a concrete ace the way we view Halladay. Given the money and controllability, if you can extend Halladay and it doesn't hamstring the team moving forward, this is a deal you make. Otherwise, let Billingsley continue to develop and seek rotation improvement elsewhere.
Guancous (Silver Spring, MD): Wiser for the Cubs: Short-term deal for Marlon Byrd or trade blue chip prospects for Curtis Granderson?
Eric Seidman: Granderson is a legit starter, Byrd is a fourth outfielder with a power surge in Texas that masked his true abilities, who will cost much more than he merits. Go for Grandy.
brian (brooklyn): More ridiculous recipient of an MVP vote this year, Placido Polanco or Jeremy Affeldt?
Eric Seidman: More ridiculous is Chase Utley falling out of the top five.
jbuofm (Peoria): Do you think the Cardinals would be better off with Holliday or Beltre and a 2nd tier starting pitcher?
Eric Seidman: Seeing as they are more than capable of turning garbage into 2nd tier starting pitchers, Holliday, as he could provide some protection for Albert Pujols and potentially prevent pitch-arounds to get to a regressed Ryan Ludwick.
Maggie (DC): Don't the Yanks have to commit to putting Joba and Phil in the rotation next year, or just forget about turning them into starters? Time's awasting, and the return they can get for them as trade chips is decreasing.
Eric Seidman: In my eyes, yes, this is a "make or break" type of season as far as their rotation exploits go. Stop babying Chamberlain and just let the man pitch, as he was perfectly fine until they started enforcing these asinine Joba Rules. Yes, younger pitchers run the risk of physical injuries when extending themselves beyond previously established levels, but constantly modifying his role runs the risk of harming Chamberlain mentally. And given the fickle nature of relievers, if they have no intention of using Hughes as a starter, then unload him to get a surplus of value, potentially in the form of Roy Halladay.
Rob (Oakland): Assuming the Giants could even absorb the extra payroll, would Posey & Bumgarner be too much to give up for Cabrera?
Eric Seidman: Yes, especially given the cost, the surrendering of a top-tier catching prospect, and Cabrera's track record of, well, staying out of shape. It would seem to be more in their wheelhouse to revisit those Cain-Fielder discussions and see what comes from that. Given Posey's potential, the question becomes, would you rather have Bengie Molina and Miguel Cabrera or Buster Posey and either Nick Johnson or Russell Branyan? I'd spring for the latter.
raygu1 (burlington, NJ): Will Anthropolous get more in return for Halladay than the Indians got for Lee?
Eric Seidman: I expect him to get more and from a shorter supply of players, but given what the Phillies surrendered for Lee, that's really setting the bar low.
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Do you folks at BP realize that the "real" Pirates eason is about 6-8 weeks long: From the end of the next Penguins Stanley Cup run in May/June to the start of Steelers training camp in late July?
Eric Seidman: Well, at least the front office in place realizes that restocking != rebuilding, and is actively working to change the way they draft, acquire and develop players. If you were going to suffer through another several losing seasons that is at least one positive to extract.
Gregjitsu (Southern Cal): Two part question:
1. Can you speculate on the size of Lincecum's arbitration deal, should he and the Giants go that route?
2. Given that Timmy is going to get a lot of money whether he hits arbitration or not, will the Giants be able to add any offense this off-season? If you're the Giants GM, do you go trade/FA, and who do you target?
Eric Seidman: We had an internal discussion about this the other day and it's tough to speculate about Lincecum's arb deal because no pitcher won Cy Young Awards in his 2nd and 3rd seasons. His career has been unprecedented to date. Ryan Howard previously set the record for a player in a similar situation, after winning ROTY and MVP in his first two years. I could see Lincecum easily breaking that, so the Giants may want to work out an extension as opposed to going year to year. Regardless of their choice, they could still sign someone like Nick Johnson or get Josh Willingham.
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): If you're N. Huntington do you even bother signing a FA? Just bring up the kids from the farm and see how they do, right?
Eric Seidman: It would only make sense to sign a free agent if the goal was to extract a better return at the deadline or if they really felt he would still be around when they become competitive.
Rob (Alaska): Warning: blatant fantasy question. Better for 2010: Buchholz or Porcello?
Eric Seidman: Well, Porcello is more likely to pitch the full season and rack up them wins! I want to see Buchholz pitch a full season before blindly accepting his potential and the hype.
Rob (Alaska): Who are next year's Rays? Wait, who were this year's Rays?
Eric Seidman: Nobody and nobody. Turnarounds like the Rays do not happen every year and one of my biggest pet peeves is when people force stories like that. "The Royals could be this year's Rays!" Really? Really? Not every bad team becomes good and not every team that embraces sabermetrics will experience the type of turnaround of the Rays.
Aunt Jemima (Atlanta): Say you've just entered an 8 team strat league and said league is doing a total redraft. Assuming Hanley and Tulo are the first two shortstops to be drafted, which shortstop would go third? Obviously present and future value count.
Eric Seidman: The Shortstop from your location - Yunel Escobar.
Rick (Chicago): If the Reds were shopping Cordero, how much salary would they need to pick up to receive anything of value in return? It seems like he'd be a great fit in either bullpen in NY -- or possibly Philly.
Eric Seidman: Think of it this way - if Brandon Lyon, who has similar skills, could be had for $4.25 mil or so without costing major league talent in a trade, then the Reds would likely have to eat $8-9 mil to make a deal like that worthwhile. Of course, if Lyon-esque relievers are snagged and a desperate team needs bullpen help the Reds could always offer to pay 1/3 of his salary and get away with it. But the Phillies, currently paying Brad Lidge $12 mil/yr, are not likely to acquire another high-priced relief arm. And the Yankees have a great pen without much need for Cordero.
Gregjitsu (Still Southern Cal): I like Willingham a lot. It seems like the Nats do too, so what do you think the Giants would have to part with to get him?
Eric Seidman: Well, he won't be a free agent until 2012, so it will take more than it took to get Ryan Garko (which was Single A pitcher Scott Barnes, who was considered one of the team's better pitching prospects) but nothing along the lines of Bumgarner. Maybe someone like Henry Sosa.
Pro (Fessor): Which player who had his MLB debut in 2009 will have the best career? Wieters? Hanson? McCutchen? Anyone else?
Eric Seidman: Gut feeling - Hanson.
Guancous (Silver Spring, MD): How do you see the Milton Bradley saga getting resolved?
Eric Seidman: Bradley will be involved in a four-team trade in which the Royals get Carl Everett, the Cubs get Albert Belle, and the Rangers get Charles Johnson's wife.
Rob (Alaska): Do you see Dexter Fowler growing into some power? If so, how much? He seems like a late bloomer to me - he gained 15 pounds last offseason and then grew an inch this summer! It's like he's still 17.
Eric Seidman: I can see him becoming a consistent member of the 15/30 club.
Tex Premium Lager (Jersey): Even More Blatant Fantasy Keeper Question (tm): In no order, who are the 10 most valuable position players for the next few years? Most seem obvious (Pujols, Hanley, Utley, etc.) but I'd like your take on the matter. Maybe someone (you?) can take over Nate Silver's top 50 list, which was one of my favorite articles each year.
Eric Seidman: I'll list the guys that instantly came to mind as that likely says a lot about their attributes: Pujols, Mauer, Hanley, Utley, Tulowitzki, J Upton, Longoria, Zimmerman, Wright, Braun. Those aren't in order and there are definitely others to think about.
Sam (New York, NY): So the playoffs unfolded just like you predicted. Bittersweet?
Eric Seidman: For those reading this that don't already know - I'm a Phillies fan. That being said, I was strangely content with the result this year. I'm 23 and have been watching 155+ games each season since the age of 14 and managed to get a championship last year, one of the more rewarding feelings I can remember. They came close this year to a repeat, but while I was upset they didn't pull off that feat, I wasn't as disappointed as I anticipated. Maybe it was more of a worldy mindset in that not everyone gets to see a championship or that it was great to simply get back to the world series, but I thoroughly enjoyed this post-season. Sure, a little bittersweet, but definitely not bitter.
Carl (SoCal): Sure, Utley got mugged of his top-5 finish by the voters, but what about A.Gonzalez? Howard 213, Fielder 210, Gonzalez 30. I would really like to see them matching his numbers while playing for AA Padres in Petco Park.
Eric Seidman: Whether you agree with it or not, MVP votes are predominantly given to players on playoff teams or teams in the race for a while. A-Gonz had a great year and he is a valuable asset, but MVP to the voters != best players. Is he one of the best players in the NL? Sure, but was he really that valuable in the sense of how voters define the MVP? No, because the Padres would have stunk regardless. Not recognizing Utley's contributions to a division winner is far more egregious.
Rob (Alaska): As a Phillies guy, do you think Pat Burrell is as cooked as he looked this year? Good move for the Rays to deal him for Bradley as has been rumored?
Eric Seidman: No, not as cooked, but switching to the tougher league, changing his routine from being a LF to being a DH and suffering some injuries combined for the worst possible result, his -30th percentile. It would be a good move to get Bradley because Bradley is simply a better player, specifically for that role, but Burrell still has something left in the tank and his contract is certainly team-friendly.
Dennis (LA): Thank you for the chat and your great articles, Eric. What do you see the Angels doing this winter? Assuming they don't trade for Halladay, I'm guessing that they let Lackey and Figgins walk, pick up a high upside, high risk starter like Harden and a flawed (but reasonably priced) bat like Thome who could bat in the middle of the order, with Abreu as the new leadoff hitter. Arte Moreno has said they have about $12-13 million to improve the club. What should do they do?
Eric Seidman: Thanks for the compliment. I really feel like the Angels land Halladay. Not sure why but with most signs last year pointing towards the Phillies and right now towards the Red Sox or Yankees, I feel like the Angels are going to swoop in "out of nowhere" and pry him loose. Then maybe they trade for Pat Burrell, bring Doug Glanville out of retirement, and get Marlon Anderson to recreate the early 2000s Phillies with Abreu.
jbuofm (Peoria): Rank these young NL CF's by WAR for the next five years...McCutchen, Rasmus, Fowler, Maybin
Eric Seidman: I see literally nothing wrong with your order; remember, Rasmus is a great fielder.
Freddy (NYC): More blatant fantasy:
Over Reynolds, Aramis, A-Rod?
Eric Seidman: Well, the question was over the next few years. Full disclosure: I don't play fantasy baseball. If it's runs, RBI, etc then the result might change, but my list was comprised of my picks for the best overall position players in terms of MLB value. I'd have to imagine that correlates on some level to fantasy.
SamHughes (West Philly): Who's your choice for third base in red pinstripes? (I'm surprised Beltre's not getting a little more play....)
Eric Seidman: My choice was Juan Castro and Ruben Amaro Jr just rewarded me. Woo! Short of Castro, either Beltre or DeRosa, with the latter likely being more cost-effective and the former being, well, better.
Rob (Alaska): Is it possible we've seen the best of Adam Lind?
Eric Seidman: I don't see why he couldn't be a consistent .290/.360/.530 hitter for the next several seasons.
Franzeim (Wyoming): Are the Red Sox better off over paying for Bay or retooling the defense with players like Beltre and Cameron?
Eric Seidman: The latter. If they are going to "overpay" it should be in terms of talent to acquire the likes of Cabrera or A-Gonz, not with Bay. The Red Sox had the 3rd worst PADE this year and Beltre/Cameron would really improve that facet of their game.
Eric Seidman: Thanks for all the questions, everyone, I really enjoy these sessions. As always, feel free to e-mail me or get in touch on twitter @ericseidman.