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Chat: Shawn Hoffman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday February 11, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Shawn Hoffman.


From the biz beat to squawking about baseball, Shawn Hoffman wants to take your questions and offer his answers.

Shawn Hoffman: It is no longer snowing in NYC. With those happy thoughts in mind, let's get things started.

Matt (Whippleville, NY): Since taking over sole ownership of the Mets, Fred and Jeff Wilpon have presided over a front office and team wrought with miscommunication, poor performance and embarrasing side stories. Is it possible that the Wilpons could run the Mets right into the ground and out of existence?

Shawn Hoffman: Out of existence? That's a little extreme, considering they're probably still making tons of money.

Obviously though, they need to get their house in order. I don't think it's as bad as people are making it out to be -- probably just media piling on. But needless to say, it's been a pretty terrible year.

modofacid (snowy philly): Shawn, Did you check for a correlation from the date that forbes publishes the values to the date club is sold? i bet part of the reason for inconsistency is that year old market data is only so valuable.

Shawn Hoffman: I used the closest possible valuation (other than for the the latest Rangers sale, since we don't have the 2010 estimates yet). So if a team was sold in March, I used that year's data. If a team was sold in December, I used the following year's data.

Altogether, not such a great performance by Forbes, and I actually expected better going in. The original idea behind the article was to write about how overvalued the latest sales have been, and how that could be seen as a positive indicator for the rest of MLB's business.

Noah (Kalamazoo): Should Twin fans really make anything of Liriano's DWL numbers? It seems like the same hype surrounded Liriano last offseason. Is there legitimate reason for hope?

Shawn Hoffman: I wouldn't go crazy over it, but data is data, and you'd rather have him pitch well down there than not.

Remember something: Liriano's 2006 is just completely off the charts. Better than Felix, maybe even better than any stretch Tim Lincecum has had. If he can can even get halfway back there...

krissbeth (watertown, ma): I know you write about baseball, but do you have any observations on the labor negotiations in football? Any thoughts on what an uncapped year might bring?

Shawn Hoffman: It'll be incredibly interesting, and it's very, very relevant to baseball. The problem in the NFL right now is that the Cowboys, Giants, and Jets all have new stadiums, and they, along with the Redskins and a couple others, are seeing huge local revenue gains.

Now let's say you run a team in a smaller market. The economy's been terrible, so maybe your revenue is flat or even down. Because those bigger teams are seeing huge revenue increases, the payroll floor keeps going up. So even as your revenue is going down, your costs have to go up.

This is why the NFL owners were unanimously willing to take on an uncapped year. It's sort of a "let's see if the world explodes, and it doesn't we're in much better shape" type thing.

hotstatrat (mi-nj-CT-ny-fl-ma-ca-qc-ON): Brief us on your musical tastes, please, Shawn.

Shawn Hoffman: Bruce, Bob, Beatles. And that guy who does the "Pittsburgh's Goin to the Super Bowl" songs.

biglou115 (Arkansas): How much better would the Braves be with Damon in LF to start the year? Enough to justify paying him? Would holding back Heyward's arb clock for a year come back to make that deal worth while?

Shawn Hoffman: I guess they'd be better? $2 million seems about right to me. Damon/Diaz works, but Detroit seems like a better fit, since they don't have quite as much depth, and the guys they have on the corners now are injuries waiting to happen.

I don't think Heyward is going to stay down the entire year regardless -- the best thing would be to bring him up in June to get the "extra" year.

Jake (St. Louis): Shawn- What should the Cardinals do at 3B?

Shawn Hoffman: They're going with David Freese. He got a little BABIP-lucky in Memphis last year, but his projections are decent enough (a bit above average), which should be good enough. And you can't beat the price.

msloftus (NYC): Do we have any idea how much team owners make on their team per year? I would love to know how much the Steinbrenner's rake in each year.

Shawn Hoffman: Probably not as much as you think. Most owners aren't doing this as their primary business (although the Steinbrenners are an exception there), so maxing out every penny probably isn't as important as it would be in just about any other business they're in. I think most owners simply want their teams run rationally -- I doubt there are a lot of dividends being paid out, so most profits are reinvested into the team anyway.

caseyj15 (Medford, OR): How would you rate in order the following pitchers by overall (short and long term) value? Johan Santana, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Randy Wells, Derek Lowe and Josh Johnson.

Shawn Hoffman: Short term: Santana, Johnson, Beckett, Lester, Lowe, Wells

Long term: Santana, Johnson, Lester, Beckett, Wells, Lowe

Travis (San Diego): Which team do you see Adrian Gonzalez playing for on Opening Day 2011? I'm thinking the Pads move him at the trade deadline once they come to the realization that their 2010 team is not playoff bound.

Shawn Hoffman: The Red Sox are a pretty obvious fit, for a bunch of reasons (they have the cash to extend him, plenty of prospects, good relationship with Hoyer (obviously), Papi wearing down, etc).

On a somewhat related note, with the Yankees officially out of the 1B game for a long, long time, guys like Gonzalez are really gonna have to work hard to find alternative bidders. If only you could short 1B futures....

Randy Wells (Honored): Wow, it's nice that I even rated a mention in there, not bad for a guy that's probably going to regress to average at best the rest of the way...

Shawn Hoffman: Welcome to the party.

Dennis (LA): Thank you for the chat, Shawn. Do you play fantasy baseball? Who do you like better over the next few years: Ben Sheets or Daisuke Matsuzaka? Brandon Webb or Javier Vazquez?

Shawn Hoffman: Assuming all are healthy, Sheets and Webb, based purely on per-start quality. Especially with Vazquez moving into a stadium that really doesn't play into his strengths, and DiceK coming off an injury himself.

But the reality is that Sheets is never going to be healthy over a "next few years" type period, and I don't know if anybody has ever been healthier than Vazquez. If I'm betting on quantity, gotta take those two.

Tim (Tampa): Did the Giants waste the offseason? It seems that every move they made could have been replaced by cheaper free agent alternatives or better in-house solutions. I don't see them improving to the point where they scare the other NL West contenders.

Shawn Hoffman: Here's the thing about the Giants: that division might not be that good, and if everything works on the pitching side, they might (MIGHT) be able to make a run for it. But a lot has to go right. Barry Zito needs to be at least as unobjectionable as he was last year, and the other three (Sanchez, Lincecum, Cain) need to stay healthy.

Also keep in mind, Huff and DeRosa are replacing sinkholes, so they could actually make some progress on the offensive side just with those guys repeating last year's performances.

drmorris (SF): Is this "the new normal" for the free-agent auction market? Irrational exuberance replaced with rational non-exuberance?

Shawn Hoffman: No. It's only the new normal until the business really starts cranking up again. There's never been a time since free agency started (other than the collusion period) where MLB has seen massive revenue gains and the players haven't shared in it proportionately.

Paul (LA): The Cardinals gotta like David Freese's price? I hope they do...your 2013 St. Louis Cardinals - Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, and 23 guys making league minimum...like David Freese.

Shawn Hoffman: That'll only be a problem if the economy doesn't start growing again, or if MLB just doesn't grow over the next few years, for whatever reason. In fact, if I were them I'd be trying to get Albert signed right now, because it's entirely possible that the market will be in much better shape next winter.

Gray (Chicago): If Brandon Wood struggles in April, is it over for him in LA?

Shawn Hoffman: Doubtful. They're putting a lot of faith in him. Izturis is a decent enough guy to have around behind him, but they're really hoping Wood pans out.

I'm very skeptical. His K/BB numbers in the bigs have been out of control, and his AAA stats are padded by the league/park. If I'm remembering correctly, most projection systems have him at league average, or in some cases a lot worse. So I'll believe it when I see it.

Adam (WI): Should the Brewer's be taking the same approach towards signing Prince as you have advocated the Cardinals do with Pujols? Or is he a completely different bird with Boras in his corner?

Shawn Hoffman: I don't think it's about Boras, I think it's about quality of the player. Albert is Albert -- maybe you're a little nervous if you sign him at the top of the market, but the Cards have a chance to sign him at the bottom of the market two straight times. With this type of player, it's a no brainer.

But with Prince, I just don't think he's as good as most people think. if he wants Mark Teixeira money, I'm bailing.

sharkey (MPLS): So, the blip of chatter about a 10-year deal for Mauer seems to have been bunk. What do you think is a reasonable number of years if they do a deal within the next couple of weeks?

Shawn Hoffman: 10 years is a lot. But Mark Teixeira got eight, and I'd be stunned if Mauer didn't get at least as much money/as many years as Teixeira did. So maybe 8/200? I'm sure the Twins and Cards would both love it if the other got a deal done first (hoping for a hometown discount) so they can use it as their own benchmark.

Brock Dahlke (Shakopee, MN): Do you think it makes good business sense for the Twins to refuse to use deferred payment in the Mauer contract?

Shawn Hoffman: It depends. If you trust yourself to not reach your hand into that cookie jar too many times, deferred payments can be a pretty valuable tool. But a lot of teams have gone way overboard (think early '00s DBacks), and obviously the Twins would rather restrict themselves up front.

MarinerDan (SF): Where and when do you see John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez signing?

Shawn Hoffman: The Cardinals and Mets make a lot of sense for Smoltz. Seems like he may have been scared off by all the Mets' issues, but in a vacuum that's probably the most logical place for him.

As for Pedro, who knows -- I wouldn't expect to see him until midseason anyway. Wouldn't be surprised if he ends up back in Philly, especially if they have an injury or two.

MarinerDan (SF): Do you see the Mariners contending with a Felix/Lee/RRS/Snell/Vargas rotation? Or do they need Bedard to come back at something approaching 2006-2008 performance level?

Shawn Hoffman: I haven't been as high on the Mariners as some others, and the projected standings coming out now seem to back me up on that. Their defense is going to be incredible, but if anything happens to Felix or Lee, their rotation is really a mess. And there's still not a ton of offense either, especially if Bradley gets hurt.

MarinerDan (SF): Do you see MLB expanding or contracting over the next 10 years?

Shawn Hoffman: MarinerDan is on a roll. If you mean expanding or contracting TEAMS, then neither. If you mean by revenue, MLB will always expand in the long-term, as long as they handle the media site correctly (as I think they will) and not get their lunch eaten by the web.

Bob Smizik (Pittsburgh): Do you ever read my blog? I am the only guy in town who calls out Nutting/Huntington/Russell when they spew forth more nonsense.

Shawn Hoffman: I personally like the nonsense they spew. And if I'm not mistaken, you and Ron Cook spent a long, long time gushing over Littlefield, even as late as 2006. Fail.

Btw, if Bob Smizik ever actually read BP, his head would explode.

mattymatty2000 (Snowadelphia, PA): Can you possibly explain what in the *%$# the Phillies were doing trading Lee? I've heard a million explanations and I still don't get it. Thanks for the chat.

Shawn Hoffman: I don't get it either. Probably just a money thing. Anybody know if Eric Seidman is still holding a vigil outside CBP?

strupp (madison): Why won't MLB expand (ideally, once the economy turns for good). Do they not think there are viable markets? Do they not feel that balancing the leagues/divisions would lead to reduced expenses once the schedule balances (even slightly). Is it shortsightedness, or am I being to hopeful?

Shawn Hoffman: There are probably a couple viable markets, but this isn't even a realistic conversation until the A's and the Rays get new stadiums. After that, it's possible that expansion could be back on the table, but MLB likes having viable alternatives in case a team ever has to move, and I'm not sure there are SO SO many where they'd consider using two of them via expansion.

Maggie (DC): What is it about the EPL that causes fans to care whether their team finishes 9th or 13th? How do people remain interested? (Would it work in baseball?)

Shawn Hoffman: August/September attendance in the Wild Card era is proof that people really only care in the US if their team has a shot at a championship. I honestly can't explain why people in Europe care so much if their team finishes 9th instead of 13th.

Tim (DC): As a Bruce fan, don't you think "Darkness on the Edge of Town" would be an awesome song for a closer to enter the game? "Tonite I'll be on that hill, cuz I can't stop. I'll be on that hill, with every thing I've got. Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost..." etc.

Shawn Hoffman: If I ever end up closing for a Major League team.....

a5ehren (Atlanta): Staying on expansion, is there any good business reason that there isn't a 3rd team in NYC any more? I'm assuming it's just politics...

Shawn Hoffman: I've been on this bandwagon for years. Brooklyn could easily handle a Major League team.

It'll never happen, obviously, since the Mets and Yankees would have a never-ending conniption, but it's a great idea in theory.

MarinerDan (SF): Where is Rany Jazayerli? We miss him!

Shawn Hoffman: http://www.ranyontheroyals.com/

Also if you need a dermatologist in the greater Chicago area....

mattymatty2000 (Philly, PA): If Damon is going to sign for what the Tigers and Braves are supposedly offering him, why wouldn't he sign with the Yankees? Is Brian Cashman so stubborn that he wouldn't give a Damon $3 million one year deal? That would be the bargain of the off season, right? Or am I over estimating Damon?

Shawn Hoffman: I think that ship has sailed, with Johnson and Winn already in place. I'm sure if Damon could go back and take one of those offers from the Yankees in November, he would.

MarinerDan (SF): How can you NOT be "as high on the Mariners as some others" after this offseason? What's not to love in extending Felix, extending Franklin Gutierrez, "disappearing" Silva, adding Bradley, acquiring Cliff Lee, adding Figgins, etc.? It is a great time to be a Mariners' fan! Jump in, the water is fine!

Shawn Hoffman: I love all those moves, and it's pretty incredible that we're even talking about the Mariners contending this year, considering what Jack walked into. But as far as this year specifically, I don't think they're a 90+ win team.

I Got Ripped in 4 Weeks (Unconfirmed): Does getting the Jeter/Rivera extensions done now have any benefits to the Yankees whatsoever other than some cost certainty in their next 2,3,4 or (Good Lord) 5 annual budget sheets?

Shawn Hoffman: Less annoying questions to answer, I guess. Honestly, I don't think this is such a big deal. Neither of those guys will ever play for a different team, and both sides know that.

Tex Premium Lager (NJ): Shawn, how about adding a team in the greater Hartford area? Connecticut is divided into Yankee and Red Sox fans already. Now that The Whale is gone, that area needs its own pro team.

Shawn Hoffman: I'm not really buying it. Brooklyn is great because it's so easily accessible. Hartford, Long Island, and New Jersey are all relatively very difficult, and that's why the teams there haven't done very well financially.

strupp (Madison): Andrew McCutchen. 2010's great CF, or 2010's greatest CF in the history of the world since Mays. Or somewhere in between?

Shawn Hoffman: The greatest player to ever play for the 2009 Pirates.

Shawn Hoffman: I'm out guys. Thanks for all the questions. Go Pens.

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