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Chat: Tommy Bennett

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday June 02, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Tommy Bennett.


With the calendar flipping to June, expand your horizons by taking the time to chat with Tommy Bennett.

Tommy Bennett: Thanks for joining me today. We've got plenty of interesting baseball storylines these days, I've got Sleigh Bells on my iTunes, and we're ready to go.

quinnsdaddy (milwaukee): what can we really expect from john axford

Tommy Bennett: This is an interesting question, because high strikeout, high walk relievers are a dangerous bunch. I also think they are the most volatile, so some caution is warranted. He had good strikeout numbers in the minors but walks were always a problem. Once he starts giving up home runs, that could be a problem unless he gains better control. Relievers like this are essentially high-probability lottery tickets, and there are worse things you could have.

wilk75 (houston (yes, we have a problem)): What could the Astros hope to get out of the Angels if they sent both Roy O and Berkman out that way (and maybe Pedro Feliz?)? If the Stros picked up half the money on the remaining contracts, is Trout and Reckling out of the question?

Tommy Bennett: I doubt the Angels are going to trade away their top minor league talents even for both of Oswalt and Berkman. It hasn't really been their M.O. in the past, so I don't see why they would start now.

I do think the Astros should eat some of the money remaining on at least one of those contracts and get whatever they can for them. I think Berkman is the more valuable asset given their outstanding contracts, but really what the Astros system needs is quantity rather than quality. I'd like to see them trade both players to different teams in an attempt to restock the farm.

Matt (Chicago): Despite what looks like it will be a lackluster season, are you encouraged by the young talent( Castro,Cashner,Colvin)the Cubs are folding into the aging, overpaid group?

Tommy Bennett: I certainly think there will be some growing pains for all of these young players for the Cubs. It seems unlikely enough to me that they'll really compete this year, and their options at those positions are weak enough, that I don't think the risks of calling them up were particularly high.

I like Castro's contact skills, and I think letting Cashner mature in a set-up role is a great idea. Colvin will struggle with plate discipline at first, I think, so he might need a little more seasoning.

bctowns (Chicago, IL): Tommy, thanks for chatting. What's the funnier Tracy Morgan SNL sketch, Brian Fellows or Astronaut Jones? Because neither of those is as funny as my second and third round picks of Grady Sizemore and Kendry Morales earlier this season.

Tommy Bennett: Really important question. I think the ceiling on Fellows was always higher, but Astronaut Jones was more consistent.

Also, my condolences.

paulbellows (calgary): Don't things seem strange so far this year? Rolen and Bautista hitting dingers, guys like McClouth and Figgins falling on their faces.

Tommy Bennett: Rolen has always had the skill set that would allow him to age gracefully, and I think this is just a spike in what has otherwise been a relatively slow decline. Bautista, I agree, is a bit of a head-scratcher.

I gotta say, though, that we're really only about 200 PAs into the season, which is hardly enough for anything to become certain. McLouth and Figgins might have struggled so far (and that will be reflected in their season lines), but they are decent bets going forward, I think.

Matt (Chicago): What type of return can the Cubs get for Lilly this summer? I would think they'll move him as continue to languish in 3rd and he is an impending FA.

Tommy Bennett: Lilly is pretty much a league average pitcher who benefitted a great deal from a move to the National League. I'm not sure interest will be high outside the NL.

He's making $12 million, which is maybe a little high, so if the Cubs paid his salary they might get a major league ready backup in return. But that has to be balanced against the return they'd get in draft pick compensation. I bet they hang on to Lilly until the end of the season.

Dennis (LA): Is Carlos Lee through?

Tommy Bennett: I don't think he's through in the sense that he'll never be a useful player again. But he's definitely making more money than he can contribute, and I don't think he'll ever return to shouting distance of his early-2000s peak.

Going forward? .270/.320/.470?

Phil (NJ): Alex Gordon is destroying at the plate and performing capably in the OF at AAA Omaha. So...why not bring him up to the majors? It's not like they have so many good bats that he won't get playing time. Or is this just another step in the mysterious "process"??

Tommy Bennett: Just a complete puzzler. Alex Gordon is going to get saddled with the rep as maybe the last failure of the last Royals farm system, as it looks like the rest of their farm is really shaping up nicely this year--Moustakas, Hosmer, and now Danny Duffy's return.

Here's an off-the-cuff idea: putting him in the minors limits his service time, which could align his cheap years better with the rest of their system.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Do the Tigers have enough offense to rise back up from their current swoon or will they have to search for a bat (or two) this summer? Is it worth the cost to attempt to track down the Twins given that Twins seem like a superior team right now? Thank you.

Tommy Bennett: I think Ryan Raburn needs more playing time, but where they need the most help is up the middle. I think they still have a fine shot at catching the Twins, but it would really help if Scott Sizemore could contribute more offensively. He's been brutal.

bctowns (Chicago, IL): Thanks, Tommy. It's been an emotional couple of weeks. Regarding Cashner, any advice you can think of for the Cubs to prevent Cashner's talent as a SP from going the route of Neftali Feliz, or worse, Joba Chamberlain? Seems like teams are taking the first half of Earl Weaver's advice really well, and forgetting the second half.

Tommy Bennett: The last sentence here is exactly correct.

Tim (GA): Any doubts about Stanton becoming a star?

Tommy Bennett: It's pretty close to a lock. With two home runs last night, the guy has 20 already. A little seasoning in Triple-A will do him nicely, but it's hard to see that monster power tool going anywhere but the All-Star Game down the road.

Renyel Pinto (Florida): I strike guys out, I don't give up homeruns, but I walk alot of guys. Is that a valuable skillset?

Tommy Bennett: I'd feel better about it if the differential was a bit bigger. A career 5.9 BB/9 requires a pretty high strikeout rate to counteract. Better this recipe than lower rates in both departments, though, for sure.

David Vines (NYC): Is Scott Boras making a short-sided proclamation by encouraging teams to move Bryce Harper out from behind the plate? Assuming his bat develops into anything short of Albert Pujols (seems like a safe bet) wouldn't his value as a catcher earn him much more long-term than if he was a right fielder or third baseman?

Tommy Bennett: The situation isn't entirely dissimilar from Jesus Montero's. The deal is that they guy can flat rake, and the catching ability is more of a question mark. By moving him, teams can lock in the return earlier, which is a reasonable goal considering most GMs don't spend 10 years with the same team (long enough to see him mature as a catcher).

For Boras, it makes perfect sense to accelerate his development, because it would mean he'd reach free agency in his late 20s and make a gajillion dollars.

dianagramr (NYC): Hardest player's name for you to spell correctly?

Tommy Bennett: Good one. Jeurys Familia (Mets prospect), maybe. I can never remember the location of the vowels. I make it a point of personal pride to remember how players' names are spelled, so when someone like that gets called up I usually learn it pretty fast.

Matt (Chicago): What are your feelings on Fukudome's value as player? He seems to elicit pretty negative reaction from CHI fans but plays good D and posts consistently good OBPs.

Tommy Bennett: He's not a bad player, but he's not an exceptional player either. How someone could have particularly strong feelings about him is a little bit of a mystery to me. I guess part of it is his salary ($13 million), but that's guaranteed and there's no use crying about it now.

The OBP is nice, the defense is decent but not spectacular, but he plays a pretty easy position to fill.

Beard (T-Pain's chin): Your thoughts on Kanye West's new single?

Tommy Bennett: This is what happens when I don't trim it in a while, it gets to thinking it can ask chat questions.

"Power" is a monster jam, of course, and his album will probably be even better still, given the producers he's tapped for it.

Matt (Chicago): Do you see the Reds using Alonso as a chip at the deadline? Wha type of ceiling do you see him having?

Tommy Bennett: The power just hasn't materialized like it was supposed to. I'm not sure what they gain from trading him now, and I think the left field experiment is a good one. I'd say be patient and hope he can hit for better power with more experience in Triple-A.

Matt (Canada): What are your thoughts on Ricky Romero? Can he continue to strike out a batter per inning, or do you see him regressing? If so, what do you see his true talent level being?

Tommy Bennett: I'm not a real big believer, I'll be honest. If the K rate does tumble, he's going to give up plenty more runs because his BB rate is on the higher side. I'd say he's a decent #2-3 starter based on where he is right now, but there does exist a chance he can be a sort of #1A guy.

Richie (Washington): No such thing as a "high probability" lottery ticket. You mean "high volatility" regarding Axford, no?

Tommy Bennett: I guess you're right. But I did mean high probability--I think there's maybe a 50% chance he rounds out into a very useful major league reliever and a 50% chance he is the next Derrick Turnbow.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): I'm excited about Strasburg, but on my mind is the pleasant surprise of what Scott Olsen's done so far, despite his injury. What kind of pitcher do you think he can be, and how good is a rotation of Strasburg, Olsen, Zimmermann, Lannan and Livan/Marquis/Detwiler going to look in 2011?

Tommy Bennett: I think he's a below average major league starter who is better than replacement level. He benefits a lot from his home stadium, as his 6.5% HR/FB rate attests.

Strasburg-Zimmerman 1-2 will be pretty nifty though.

Mallory (Brooklyn): Which is more likely? The USMNT advancing to the quarterfinals of the World Cup or the Reds and Padres meeting in the playoffs?

Tommy Bennett: I'd say the odds that both the Reds and the Padres make the playoffs (but don't necessarily face each other) is slightly lower than the odds the USMNT makes it to the QFs.

Put it like this: the most recent postseason odds report has the Padres with a 62% chance of making the playoffs, which is probably worse than the odds USA makes it out of their group, but not by a lot. They'd probably be underdogs in their first matchup out of group, which is most likely to be against Germany--maybe 30% there. The Reds have a 44% chance of making the playoffs, which is why I think the odds are close--remember, some of those probabilities overlap, since both the Padres and the Reds can't win the Wild Card.

bctowns (Chicago, IL): Tommy, KG pointed out today that Stanton's striking out well above 25% of the time in Double-A, with that likely to worsen significantly when he hits the majors. Don't you think there's a huge potential for disappointment and stunted development if he doesn't learn to get that under control before hitting the majors?

Tommy Bennett: It is the biggest risk with Stanton, to be sure. I don't know if I'd call the potential "huge," but I do think it would be a mistake to skip him all the way to the majors right now. He needs a few months in Triple-A to work on his approach.

EJSeidman (Financial Statementville): Tommy, what teh heck is wrong wiff teh Phillies!?!?!

Tommy Bennett: That's a lovely town, EJS.

What's wrong with the Phillies is a combination of injuries (Rollins, Polanco) and coincident slumps from players who do not make much contact and so are heavily dependent on their BACON luck for success. It'll be fine eventually, but it's just brutal to watch right now.

Dennis (LA): Thank you for answering my earlier question. Brennan Boesch: are you a believer? Also, how good do you think Aroldis Chapman will be?

Tommy Bennett: I think Boesch is fine, but not nearly as good as he has been so far (perhaps obviously). If that sounds like hedging, it's because it is, but remember that Raburn is ready if Boesch stumbles. The last two years, though, Boesch seems to have found a good power stroke. As long has he can keep his batting average up, the lack of walks won't kill him. If not...look out.

Patrick (MPLS): I like what I've heard from Sleigh Bells, but what do you think about their career value going forward? Are they a flash in the pan, or do you see yourself still listening to them three or four years from now?


"Treats" goes up to 11 and is more consistent than I thought they could be after originally hearing "Crown on the Ground," so I'll just wait until they prove me wrong. Good live show, by the way.

dianagramr (NYC): Francisco Cervelli is a career .300 hitter in the majors. This won't last, right? Too bad the Yanks have so many aged key components, cause Posada would be a nice full-time DH and Frankie could be full-time C if he can sustain something close to .260/.320/.380, right?

Tommy Bennett: No, it won't last. But he's been better this year than he was last year, and that's clearly the right direction to go. He has a 16/12 K/BB ratio this year, which is pretty sensational, and so even if the batting average drops a little, I think he's a valuable player. He'll warm the seat nicely for Austin Romine.

By the way, my favorite description of Cervelli came from Joe Pawlikowski, who described him as having "wine bar eyes."

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Is there currently a better group of 3-4-5 hitters in the NL than Zimmerman, Dunn and Willingham? They're ranked #3, #13 and #6 in OPS in the National League!

Tommy Bennett: I'd still take Utley, Howard, and Werth, I think. But yeah, they're good at hitting. I've always been a big Hammer fan.

Sam ((NH)): Can you please tell me what is up with Tim Lincecum? Is it a hidden injury or just a minor regression? I'm reaching for a paper bag now.

Tommy Bennett: You mean the guy with the 83/30 K/BB in 71 2/3 IP? He'll be fine, high-walk games notwithstanding. Don't think he'll threepeat on the Cy Youngs, though.

Swingingbunts (NY, NY): Adam Jones came out of gate fast last year, but then got hurt and didn't do much in the 2nd half. Now he hasn't done much in the first half of this year. I know Kevin always spoke highly of him, but what gives? He hasn't done alot of anything in almost a year.

Tommy Bennett: Another head scratcher. The batting average has predictably begun to rebound since a brutal April, but the worry here is the lack of power. I'd say you have to downgrade your evaluation of his potential at least a little, but I still think he'll figure it out.

Phil (Broad & Wall): Is Max Ramirez a long term answer as catcher for the Rangers?

Tommy Bennett: All the other options have pretty much gone up in smoke (remember when they had "too many" catching prospects?), so I think the answer is yes more out of necessity than anything else. He'll be decent, though not spectacular.

Chillin' (Waiver Wire): Please rank the following in the order in which you think they will make their big league debuts: Mike Moustakas; Pedro Alvarez; Logan Morrison; Freddie Freeman; Madison Bumgarner; Jeremy Hellickson. Does anyone in this group make a significant fantasy impact in 2010?

Tommy Bennett: I'm not terribly good at this kind of thing, but what the heck:

Alvarez, Moustakas, Hellickson, Morrison, Bumgarner, Freeman

I think the first three will see at least a sprinkling of big league time this year. The others I'm not so sure about.

Sour Lou (Dark Bar in Chicago): What options do the Cubs have with Aramis Ramirez? Seems like too much historical production and cash left in that contract to sit or cut him?

Tommy Bennett: I see a few questions about Aramis, and the answer isn't very upbeat I'm afraid. I thought Patrick Sullivan's take this morning was pretty interesting, and he came to the conclusion that Ramirez really is a bit lost at the plate. His sub-.200 BABIP won't continue, but he hasn't traditionally been a .300 BABIP guy either. I'd be worried, Cubs fans.

Any Scout (Slippery Slope): David Price or Tommy Hanson for their careers? Who you got?

Tommy Bennett: Eh, Hanson I guess, if only because he's a year younger and has had better results so far. It's close, though.

Aaron (Georgia): Edwin Jackson: worth a bench spot on my fantasy team? He's been improving recently, but is it worth starting him and gambling with my total ERA ballooning up? Will he get back to what he was last season?

Tommy Bennett: Depends on how deep your fantasy league is. He plays in a home-run friendly park with a bad bullpen, which is not a good way to strand baserunners. I have never owned him in any of my leagues, for what that is worth.

SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): Can Jason Donald hit enough to be the Indians starting 2b down the road?

Tommy Bennett: Yeah, he can. The competition isn't exactly fierce at the moment, so I think he could pull it off before the end of this year. The worst case scenario for him is as a backup infielder, which is a good way to make a half million a year. Best case scenario is that he settles in nicely and posts good OBPs and bats down in the lineup.

Frank (Vegas): Hi Tommy, Is it better for Baseball (ie, the "good of the game" baseball, not necessarily MLB) to institute a worldwide draft, or to eliminate the draft altogether and have all amateurs available for signing at say 18yrs old?

Tommy Bennett: File the worldwide draft under "logistical nightmare." It just isn't really a serious possibility, at least not for a long time. Eliminating the draft altogether would be better overall, I think. Given the variability of talent that teams have in identifying and developing young players, I don't think eliminating the draft would do much violence to competitive balance, and smart teams would dedicate a lot of money to signing amateurs that way. It strikes me as a good system, really.

Rob (Alaska): So if you're downgrading Adam Jones a little, what do you make of Matt Wieters? I'm trying to figure out of this is the last moment to try and acquire him in a keeper league and, if so, how much to pay and what to expect. Thanks for the chat!

Tommy Bennett: I think you have to downgrade Wieters too. But he's only got about 600 major league PAs, and he's in his age 24 season. The question is always the price, and at this point I think you could get a decent bargain for him. The power will slowly develop and he'll become more valuable over time. His frame is still big and he can grow into the homers.

Hansford (Ft worth): Should we be worried about Jesus Montero at this point?

Tommy Bennett: That depends on what you mean by "worried." Are expectations for him lower now than they were last year? Sure. Is he still one of the top hitting prospects in the game? Absolutely. I wouldn't worry too much.

Susan (New York): Who would you rather have on your team for the next 3 seasons, Halladay, Strasburg, Lincecum, or Jimenez?

Tommy Bennett: Probably Lincecum, with Halladay and Strasburg close behind.

Stephen (Denton, Tx): What kind of ceiling does Jay Jackson of the cubs have? Will we have to wait till next year to see him?

Tommy Bennett: I think the ceiling is medium-high, but I can't say I've seen him pitch. I do know he was a philosophy major in college, which I endorse. I'd like to see the strikeouts be a little higher, but his control has been nifty at Triple-A this year, which is basically the opposite of his performance in the upper levels last season. I think the transition to the bullpen is working very nicely, and may accelerate his timetable.

Nico Toscani (Above the Law): Who is most likely to maintain his offensive gains this year in 2011: Kelly Johnson, David Freese or Travis Snider?

Tommy Bennett: "You guys think you're above the law... well you ain't above mine!" CLASSIC

Travis Snider.

Upset Astros Fan (Houstons): Give me one good reason why I should spend my hard earn money to watch the Astros play this season.

Tommy Bennett: Um, because you like going to the ballpark and keeping score? Bud Norris is kinda cool?

dtwhite (Toronto): What is the most important thing the Jays need to have happen to sneak into the playoffs?

Tommy Bennett: Adam Lind needs to raise his batting average, and Vernon Wells needs to keep being halfway decent. Fred Lewis was an inspired pick-up, and Jose Bautista is out of his mind right now.

But it's not gonna happen. Too many ifs, too few nahs, not enough heys.

Bobby (Philly): Any chance my Flyers come back from being down 2-0 to win the Stanley Cup?

Tommy Bennett: Do you want me to link you to the Rocky training montage?

Kenny Williams (Chicago): What do you think I can get for Konerko in a trade, particularly from a team like the Angels?

Tommy Bennett: Eat some salary and you can probably get a decent cheap reliever.

John (New York): Which person is more washed up, Jenna Jameson or Chipper Jones?

Tommy Bennett: Wait, I thought the joke was that Ms. Jameson wasn't washed--nevermind.

Chipper will definitely finish the year with a better line than the one he has now.

Bobby (KC): How many PA's do you need to see from a player before you declare the player a bust? Would you consider Alex Gordon already a bust?

Tommy Bennett: No way. He's been raking in Omaha. He's at .376/.515/.733 right now and playing the outfield. We're still in the first chapter of the Alex Gordon saga, and once you get past that it's a real page-turner.

Guillermo (Montevideo, Uruguay): So, what if come June 8th Strasburg is perfect through 7, throwing 110 pitches. Does he come out for the 8th? 9th? Are we daydreaming too much about him?

Tommy Bennett: No he doesn't. I'm not even sure he'll get to 110. I've heard the Nationals hope to keep him under 100 major league innings this year, which seems relatively prudent given the talent they have on their hands and the inevitable comparisons to Prior.

You don't need to daydream, really; just watch his starts at Triple-A. He throws a 100 MPH fastball and it's his second best pitch. 'Nuff said.

Thrilla Killa Klowns (Magical Mysteries): Max Scherzer: back on the track to stardom or just overpowering a lousy offensive team?

Tommy Bennett: He's gonna work it out. I'm still a believer. His stuff is electric.

SaberTJ (Cleveland, OH): How much of Will Jimenez keep of his current performance? It's awfully impressive so far.

Tommy Bennett: Depends which metrics you're talking about. He'll keep the ground ball rate, as well as the strikeouts and walks--probably improve on those, actually--and lose just about everything else. That's still a #1 starter, and he throws that 98 MPH two-seamer which is just unfair. But he's not THIS good.

Ryan V. (San Joce, CA): "Wine bar eyes..." Love it! Though I must admit, I haven't a clue what that means...

Tommy Bennett: Let me demonstrate:

Via Mike Ashmore.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Does Neil Walker remain as a starter the rest of the year and what kind of numbers do you expect from him? Thanks

Tommy Bennett: He'll hang on at the very least as a utility man, and I think he's good enough that with some breaks his way he can absolutely stay a starter. I'd expect about 10 home runs and not too many walks.

mafrth77 (Boston): Thoughts on Clay Buchholz? can he keep up performing like a #1 starter? Other than his GB/FB rate his peripherals aren't great.

Tommy Bennett: He's not ready to be a #1 yet. He might get there someday, but he hasn't got it now. I think you're right to favor the peripherals.

Matt (Whippleville, NY): Why hasn't Kyle Russell been promoted? He's old for High A anyway and the Dodgers need to challenge him.

Tommy Bennett: Repeat after me: the Cal League inflates offensive performance. The Cal League inflates offensive performance.

That said, I'd expect a promotion soon.

Mike (Oakland): Thoughts on the Halladay trade now for the 4 teams involved? It seems like all 3 prospects the Jays received have played well so far.

Tommy Bennett: Getting Wallace for Taylor looks smarter every day. Drabek has pitched well but I wonder what happened to the strikeouts. He looks more like a solid #2 than the ace he did last year. Overall, though, I think the Jays fared well.

The Phillies' return for Lee has been pretty much miserable. They're all frustrating because they have high ceilings and haven't come anywhere close to hitting them. I think it's time for Aumont to return to the pen. Ramirez and Gillies are just crapshoots and haven't paid out so far.

The Mariners look like they may have played for the win a season too early, but they'll still collect a decent return of draft picks when Lee walks this winter. He's fun to watch, and Mariners fans should enjoy it now.

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): Is it unheard of for a player to make it to the major leagues and stick at age 31? I am asking because of Chase Lambin, who is hitting very well at Syracuse, but has never made the bigs yet. I am not thinking about him being a starter somewhere or anything, but knowing that nobody is a prospect anymore at that age, would somebody like Lambin be playing to finally at least get the cup of coffee? Or is it realistic to maybe get that one big paycheck?

Tommy Bennett: The odds are not good. But if I'm Lambin, I'm channeling my inner Han Solo.

Jquinton82 (NY): Who takes over for Posada: Montero, Romine or Cervelli?

Tommy Bennett: Romine by way of Cervelli.

Billy Beane (Oakland): Have we reached the point where you can no longer consider me one of the 5 best GM's in the game?

Tommy Bennett: There are a lot of really good GMs in baseball. But the A's are tied for first place, and that's saying something given their lack of superstars.

Jquinton82 (NY): Any BABIP buy low candidates I can target in trades?

Tommy Bennett: Hitters or pitchers? For pitchers, I bow before the wisdom of Seidwartz.

For hitters, I'll say Adam Lind (.260, .307 career).

Jquinton82 (NY): Is Montero a trade chip, DH, or can he shift to RF?

Tommy Bennett: Okay, get those final questions in as I'm going to wrap this up soon.

I think he's a DH who occasionally plays the field, primarily at 1B.

Brian (Las Vegas): I've never understood why so many fans complain about how long it takes for a baseball game to be played. Do these same people complain about how long a concert is from their favorite singer/group? If you enjoy watching something, why would you want it to end sooner?

Tommy Bennett: It's the inverse of the Woody Allen joke from Annie Hall.

1. The games are fantastic.
2. Yeah, but such big portions!

Samantha (Colorado): Jimenez, 22.5 wins this season, Over or Under?

Tommy Bennett: Under. The last pitcher to win 23 games was in 2002 (tie between Zito and Randy Johnson).

Guillermo (Montevideo, Uruguay): It strikes me as odd that all those GMs have the time to read/participate in all BP chats...

Tommy Bennett: I know, right? Shouldn't they be making draft calls? Only five more shopping days until the draft!!

Tommy Bennett: Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. See you next time, and remember: keep your horizons expanded.

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