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Chat: Christina Kahrl

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday August 02, 2010 1:30 PM ET chat session with Christina Kahrl.


So, the dealing's done, but what were the impacts of the various moves, and what waiver trades might still be coming down the pike in the next run of transaction action?

Christina Kahrl: Hi gang, it was a long and interesting weekend's worth of moves, so let's kick off a non-marathon chat--time's short, and there's SABR's convention to pack for--about what's going on in the great game.

wilk75 (houston): Happ, Gose, and Villar? Not quite the haul we 'Stros fans were hoping for. Am I wrong to be this dissapointed?

Christina Kahrl: Not at all, although to be fair, it turned out to be Happ, Wallace, and Villar. If that boils down to a fourth starter, an average first baseman, and a wishcast-y flyer on an athletic up-the-middle type, that's not a lot to have added to just get a modest amount of salary relief.

Broadly, I put the Astro and Snake moves in the same category--blasting to the foundations to minimize payroll any way possible. Arizona will be left with a better base, though, and has a better farm system. But Pirates fans might take hope in barely brag-worthy bragging rights, in that their club's going to have more wins than a couple of teams next year.

SprungOnSports (Long Island): After seeing Dan Hudson pitch yesterday at Citi Field, I'm starting to wonder whether Ken Williams panicked or made a huge mistake in trading him for an average pitcher like Edwin Jackson. Your thoughts?

Christina Kahrl: The Sox definitely gave up better value than was involved in the Haren or Oswalt trades, although the relative salaries involved played some small part. The question is whether Williams was making what I'd call a fair offer in the abstract, when a very different market, the one that gave us such lop-sided acquisitions as the Haren or Oswalt deals, exists. On the other hand, I look at what the Rich Harden deal did for Oakland--and the exaggerated faith a few too many of my fellow statheads placed in Gallagher or Patterson or Murton--and wonder if we haven't been in this situation for several years now. The impact of money, being able to afford spending it, seems a lot more important than WARP- or MORP-driven exercises on actions.

Keith C (Naugatuck, CT): Its only tenuously linked to the trade deadline topic, but is it me or does the Mike Lowell situation seem kinda sad, with a player seemingly being stuck in limbo, not being released, not being traded, not allowed to play. Are there any other situations like this that have occurred in baseball in recent memory?

Christina Kahrl: I guess I always think back to Steve Kemp, when the Yankees were going out of their way not to have him around after giving him a multi-year deal, but that was in the '80s. I wonder if they won't just kick Lowell to a rehab gig once they're on the clock for that without having to reactivate him before roster expansion.

Scartore (The Q.C.): Is Jocketty being complacent in not getteing some relief help at the deadline? We'd at least like to see some evidence that someone in the organization notices how risky CoCo Cordero's high wire act has become.

Christina Kahrl: If the Cardinals made a mistake in overpaying for Jake Westbrook, I'd put the Reds' total inaction for picking up some relief depth just about right up there with it.

workermonkey (CT): 5 years from now, Joba = Kerry wood, true or false?

Christina Kahrl: I like the comparison, in that like Wood, I'd expect Joba's next five years to involve greatness, perhaps a major injury, and a whole lot of frustration. Much more true than false.

formersd (San Diego): Will the addition of Ludwick and Tejada giving the Padres some extra infield and outfield bats, is that enough to make them a favorite for a playoff spot?

Christina Kahrl: I know that Kevin and Jason were talking about this on the podcast, with Kevin not drinking the Kool-Aid IIRC, but I'm asking for seconds. The Giants, Rockies, and Dodgers all have their issues, so why not the Pads? I love that the Pads immediately let Tejada play short, defying some folks' fears that the deal would put Headley in left. As I wrote over the weekend, I love what the Ludwick deal does for Black's lineup cards and in-game machinations--with another pillar in the lineup, he can continue to play mix and match with an underrated collection of part-timers.

rowenbell (IL): CK -- How would you grade the job performance of the Jays' GM at this trade deadline, in light of (a) his decisions to retain players like Downs and Bautista, and (b) his decision to swap Wallace for Gose?

Christina Kahrl: I don't mind them that much... how was he going to get value for Bautista, when so many people don't know whether or not the alien inhabiting his body is going to stick around? Controlling him for another year isn't the worst predicament, because if he adds another two months of greatness, it probably helps his value as a trade target in December, and it wouldn't be the end of the world if the Jays have to mark time with him in 2011. Downs is more disappointing, because he isn't that expensive and is a free agent-to-be, but this was less of a seller's market for relief help than expected.

As for swapping Wallace for Gose, I see that as a case of rationally deciding you've had enough of the Overbay experience at first base. Whether that puts Encarnacion at first base next year or whatever, I'd take it as a worthwhile gamble on lower-odds upside, which makes sense given the Jays' near-term future in the East.

Jim (Iowa): What sort of attraction does Kyle Farnsworth hold for GMs and scouts? Is he nice to their mothers ... tell funny stories to their kids? I realize that he may have great stuff, and be able to throw a baseball through a wall, but at what point is the fact that he is unable to get major league batters out on a consistent basis going to sink in?

Christina Kahrl: Going back to what I said at the deadline, you can't help but feel a little sorry for Farnsworth, but here again, the Braves didn't give up that much to bring him and Ankiel in (Collins and crud), especially since Moylan and Saito are less than reliable commodities themselves.

Jay (Madison): The O's didn't deal Luke Scott or J. Guthrie when their value might be at their highest. On the other hand, the two possess the qualities for which they would presumably seek in return -- power (Scott) and innings gobbler (Guthrie). Without knowing the tasty (or not so) they could have had in return, please comment on the logic of holding in this situation.

Christina Kahrl: Perhaps in part to leave Buck Showalter with all of the club's better pieces still on the board, especially if there weren't any suitors making offers Andy MacPhail couldn't refuse. Change is inevitable, but giving time and direct experience with the players to a new skipper with as much experience as Showalter does in recasting a franchise doesn't seem like such a bad idea to me. If nobody was handing out primo goodies--and let's face it, if the best prospects moved at the deadline were Dan Hudson and Tim Collins, not many people were--standing pat with a pair of under-control veterans was defensible.

dianagramr (NYC): Hiya Christina . . . us SABRites will witness Tom Glavine having his number retired by the Braves Friday night. Will Glavine be the last 300-game winner in the majors?

Christina Kahrl: We will, won't we? At any rate, it's an interesting question. I predicted Randy Johnson would get there in '99 on a CLTV broadcast, but right now, there's nobody in the field who makes for an equally interesting prediction/projection. (That, or I understand I'm not going to be that lucky again.) Unless Andy Pettitte elects to try and pull a Moyer and gut it out for years to come as long as he's physically able (and attractive to big-scoring contenders), I think Sabathia's the only obvious best hope around today. Like the Big Unit and what I said 11 year ago, Sabathia's such an extraordinary, unique physical type that we can't really guess how he'll do as he gets older. If his knees start to go, would he be able to adapt? I don't know, but I guess I'm less confident about Sabathia's chances now than I was about Johnson's chances then.

Bbxpert (Kansas City): What is your opinion of Tim Collins, the pitcher recently acquired by the Royals?

Christina Kahrl: It's hard not to share the enthusiasm for the little lefty. I liked the Royals/Braves trade for both teams, in that Collins could be an excellent southpaw set-up man for Joakim Soria, where the Braves have other young lefty relief talent they can rely on, and they could end up needing Ankiel or Farnsworth.

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): Since I believe the Nats will sign Adam Dunn, I am more interested in the other 2 trades Mike Rizzo made: 1. You didn't seem terribly impressed with the Wilson Ramos trade, although you didn't pan it. Has Ramos taken a big hit to his reputation this year? 2. Folks seem a lot more impressed with Cristian Guzman than we in DC were, although he is a good enough guy. I know the Nats didn't get much for him, but I was surprised they got even 2 AA pitchers. Why the sudden love folks have for Guzman?

Christina Kahrl: I think Ramos took a hit because he's basically a batting average-dependent producer, but at his age, there's still some room for growth, and I guess I'm more depressed over what this meant for Flores' situation. It was a pretty decent flip, in that Ramos isn't going to be the next Wil Nieves, he could start and not be the worst regular catcher in baseball.

As for Guzman, LASIK may have helped his ability to hit singles more frequently, but it didn't seem to do him any favors in the field. He's an adequate middle infielder with no power, patience, or speed, so getting worked up over him is sort of silly. He's a decent veteran placeholder, but getting him is more of an insurance move for the Rangers than cause for jubilation.

lemppi (Ankeny, IA): Is the Boesch-Bash over? Is he a "4th OF" when its all done? Thanks.

Christina Kahrl: As you probably know, his splits are already weird--he's only slugging .423 against right-handers, and the last month's powerlessness doesn't produce that much joy from a few additional walks. The walks are interesting if it indicates a sustainable improved approach, but if he doesn't mash against right-handers, he's not a starting outfielder. The league's adjusted to him, but is he going to make his own adaptations? I'm not very optimistic that he isn't just a latter-day Larry Sheets, a comet that burns out fast with or without the benefit of the boom ball of '87.

mwball75 (Cincy, OH): The Reds didn't make any moves, but Jockety is known for his post deadline deals. It would be interesting to know about the ROI for post deadline deals vs. deadline deals. Perhaps you might be able to buy lower after the deadline.

Christina Kahrl: For the Reds' sake, I certainly hope so. A willingness to absorb expense instead of peddling talent would certainly help.

Linda Richman (Coffee Talk): The White Sox didn't get Adam Dunn, and I must admit that I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: The Disastros seemed to have actually helped themselves at this year's trade deadline. Discuss.

Christina Kahrl: I'm not buying it. At least they might have been able to sell a few tickets 2011 with the last big bits left from their mid-Aughties contenders. They're mid-pack at ~25,000 now, but who's going to buy a season ticket package to see a bad team whose highlights include hoping Brett Wallace can be the new Lyle Overbay? Their record might not be that much worse next year over this, but the deals didn't save Drayton McLane all that much money, the talent received isn't going to help them win, and the product went from bad and ex-famous to bad and boring.

Brent (Raleigh): What should the Braves do with Kenshin Kawakami? He's pitched 1 inning since June 26, yet he's still on the active roster.

Christina Kahrl: Having ditched the execrable Jesse Chavez, I don't see a problem with holding onto him as the token 12th pitcher, and insurance against an injury in the rotation. This thing isn't won yet, after all.

Christy Canyon (Brooklyn): Do the Dodgers realize how much older they got by trading away 7 players for older rentals? And there's no way their low playoffs odds justify this sort of decision-making, right? And couldn't those 7 players have brought back something better like a Dan Haren? I think the Dodgers were the biggest losers at the trade deadline.

Christina Kahrl: The deadline? I'd argue they were the biggest losers three weeks ago, when they should have acted, instead of dawdling until the deadline to make a group of semi-obvious moves that didn't cost them any of their main prospects. They weren't a great-looking contender then; they're now a procrastinating underdog of major proportions.

minima (oy vey): buyer's remorse for smoak vs montero?

Christina Kahrl: I'd certainly think so. At some point in a trade, it needs to be more about the value of the big components, not the fripperies on the edge of the plate. Complaining about the parsley was a mistake.

ChuckR (Addison, IL): Ozzie Guillen re: the 'privileges of Asian vs. Latio players. Just crazy Ozzie, or does he have a point?

Christina Kahrl: I can't help but wonder if what Ozzie says gets discounted because it's him saying it, but it's hard to look at some of the bells and whistles attached to some of the Japanese players' contracts and not think Ozzie's exactly right. That said, the vehicles for getting Japanese players stateside involve a considerably different negotiating process; it's not the fault of the Japanese for working the system.

rowenbell (IL): Must admit that I was rooting hard for the Jays to trade Downs at the deadline, so that I no longer was confronted with the abomination of somebody else wearing Dave Stieb's uniform number (37). It's well past time for the Jays to retire the uniform number of their all-time leading pitcher. (Roy Halladay, you say? Never heard of him.)

Christina Kahrl: Ah, Rowen, you know how to hit a person smack in their nostalgia lobe, don't you. I do miss Dave Stieb, but there again, you're talking to somebody whose favorite pitcher of all time was Dave Stewart, and the A's can't retire his number, because they subsequently retired it for Rollie Fingers.

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): The Nats could take on salary if a team tried simply to get rid of a contract. Is there any NL player that they could claim with their advantageous waiver position that might be worth paying a large part of an excessive contract? Off the top of my head, someone like Kosuke Fukudome for instance? Might be a bad choice, but you get my point, I hope.

Christina Kahrl: Actually, a year of Fukudome at the top of the Nats' order would be sort of fun. But generally speaking, there aren't a lot of guys who match up nicely with the Nats. Sure, someone like Carlos Zambrano or Carlos Lee might be out there, but I can't see that fitting all that neatly.

Andy (Chicago): Worse move (if the latter occurs): 1. Cardinals Westbrook/Ludwick trade 2. Cardinals keep a combination of Winn/Stavinoha/Miles on the roster to see significant playing time over Greene/Craig.

Christina Kahrl: The first. I can understand the desire to add a starting pitcher, but locking in on Westbrook to the exclusion of the alternatives, and winding up putting Ludwick on a potential October rival to boot? It didn't do much of anything to improve themselves vis-a-vis the Reds, while providing the Padres with a godsend.

rwphillipsstl (St. Louis): G. Soto's bat resurgence this year--for real? Has Ricky Weeks finally turned the corner?

Christina Kahrl: Definitely on both counts, although we could argue over whether Weeks had already turned it last year. The problem with Weeks is sorting out whether or not his playing second base is inimical to their contending.

JZirinsky (Washington, DC): Hi Christina! Hope the dingo is surviving the heat. Can you recommend a good (preferably recent) non-fiction book for my upcoming vacation? Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: The dingo and I had a good, long swim at Jarvis Beach yesterday afternoon, after I woke up from tick-tacking at the keyboard on a ton of ticky-tack deadline deals... not unlike the front offices themselves, that was a lot of effort for not a lot of significant results.

Non-fiction... I tore through the last two Stieg Larsson novels this spring, and enjoyed them a lot. I'm sort of going retro on fiction, in that I'm reading a pair of '80s books I'd never gotten to, Mary Gentle's Ancient Light (the sequel to The Golden Witchbreed, an excellent portrait of an alien civilization) and Le Carre's The Little Drummer Girl. Philip Kerr's A Quiet Flame is an excellent addition to the Bernie Gunther series of mysteries if you've already gotten into that. Charles Stross' Saturn's Children was fun, if you like sci-fi. I enjoyed Philip Kerr's Drood quite a bit.

joe (phoenix): the snakes are going down the vortex of hopelessness. will they finally come around and give montero every day at bats in the middle of the order? do you have a crystal ball on this?

Christina Kahrl: I certainly hope so. Montero playing every day and getting Dan Hudson are the only new reasons to still feel some sort of positive vibe about this team.

carlosrubi (México): Who did the Backup Catcher Society of America elect as this year's members?

Christina Kahrl: I'm beginning to wonder whether the only thing to be done about Drew Butera's presence on the Twins' roster is to nuke him from orbit--it's the only way to be sure. Otherwise, he must have been a fast-track inductee in International Brotherhood of Backup Backstops.

BillJ (New Mexico): The Ludwick-for-Westbrook trade only looks bad for St. Louis if they had a viable alternative. What's in their farm system that they could have packaged for Westbrook instead? Not much. And what more than Westbrook could Ludwick realistically have fetched for them?

Christina Kahrl: I understand where you're coming from, but I'd disagree with both halves of what you're saying here, Bill. If you're going to make the dance a three-way, why limit your third party to the Padres? And why trade Ludwick at all?

mschroeder14 (wi): What are your thoughts on Tyler Colvin? His power has been impressive, but he seems a little out of place leading off. Have you talked with KG recently about what his ceiling might be given this year's performance? He seems like more of a 5-hitter than a leadoff guy to me....Thanks!

Christina Kahrl: That's kind of my hope, with DeWitt added to the team, is that they slot him up front and move Colvin lower down again. But let's face it, as much of an interesting tools guy with potentially high upside as he might have, I find it hard to believe that Colvin is going to get homers on 18 percent of his fly balls forever. Cut that down several pegs, and you've got a guy a lot like a young Jacque Jones (with a better arm). Playable in a corner for several seasons, up until he gets expensive.

warclub (Strongsville, OH): Do you think the Indians can get back to contention in the AL Central as early as next year?

Christina Kahrl: Even if it is the Central, I doubt it, because they won't have the pitching. It's more interesting to ponder the Royals' chances, assuming they ever get a rotation put together, because at least they have Greinke as a starting point.

EG (A Remote, Undesirable Villa): After a loathsome couple of years, Corey Hart's power bounces back and the Brewers sign him to a three-year deal. Smart move for Milwaukee, or too soon to be sure Hart's resurgence is sustainable?

Christina Kahrl: It's a smart move if the Brewers are thinking in terms of peddling Hart while his value is high, so that they don't pay the back end of the deal. It might also be a smart move if they're anticipating moving Hart to first base after Prince Fielder waddles elsewhere. It makes for an interesting position as far as being able to move one or the other, and seeing which better matches a swap partner's needs--three years of Hart, or a year with Prince. As long as the Brewers are willing to entertain offers for both and trade one, they'll be in a position to open up a slot in the outfield for Weeks.

Michael (Detroit, MI): Interesting, but can we have a recommendation for a non-fiction book (or several)?

Christina Kahrl: I'm really enjoying Blom's The Vertigo Years, if you want to talk about the impact changes in media and technology made on civilization a century ago, and how it created a pervasive sense of hysteria. For baseball non-fiction, I'm enjoying Emma Span's 90% of the Game is Half-Mental and Mark Armour's superb biography of Joe Cronin.

achaik (Maine): Having finally finished law school and the bar exam, I can actually read for pleasure. What would you say is the best baseball biography out there? And has BP ever thought about creating a "Book Club" page where the staff could review new books and maybe catalogue old favorites?

Christina Kahrl: Actually, Steven Goldman and I have hobnobbed a little bit about doing book reviews here on BP.com; opening that up to become a feature where we write reviews, subscribers chime in with ratings, and there's a forum for discussion, you tell me, is that something you'd like? If so, write in to Steven or I, because nothing helps make for a winning argument more than popular clamor.

GeoffP (Annandale): So now that the Strasburg era is over, what was your favorite moment?

Christina Kahrl: Heehee... well, that's perhaps almost as hasty as some of the more effusive pronouncements over what his future would hold, but then again, premature euphoria happens to a lot of teams after a certain age.

carlosrubi (México): Joakim Soria is on pace to shatter the saves record by a mile. If he stays healthy, does he become the best closer the game has seen?

Christina Kahrl: As great as the Mexicutioner has been, he's got a long way to go from 118. Even if Trevor Hoffman doesn't make it to 600 (he's at 596 and counting), Mariano Rivera's at 548. Picking anybody to deliver 10 straight 43-save save seasons just to catch Mo seems like a bit of a dodgy proposition, because of the number of things (or injuries) that might happen in the intervening time.

Jerry (Milwaukee): The Cubs did well on the Theriot for DeWitt part of the trade, but did the two prospects make up for the loss of the compensation picks the Cubs lost with Lily

Christina Kahrl: I'm a little doubtful of it, because Kyle Wallach's the better of the two, and even he doesn't look like he's as interesting as some of what you might get with a late-first or sandwich pick. That said, Lilly's career is at a point where an arbitration offer might be a worthwhile thing for him to accept, because the market might be scared off from his drooping velocity.

DS (LA): Hi Christina, thanks for the chat. Aubrey Huff has been pretty ridiculous this year (.309/.397/.550) putting up numbers even better than his stellar 2008 (.304/.360/.552). However, it's hard to forget his putrid 2009 (.241/.310/.384). How do you think he will perform over the next couple of years? Do you think he re-signs with the Giants or go back to the AL this off-season?

Christina Kahrl: He might well welcome an invitation to come back, and certainly if he'd settle for an expensive one-year deal it wouldn't be so terrible for the Giants, because of his past history that would certainly be better than handing him a multi-year deal of anything but the lowest terms, say a one-and-option deal with compensation not much above what he's making now.

OK, a few quick-fire questions, and then I have to ditch...

Swingingbunts (NY): Why can't the A's retire Stewart's number just because it's the same as Fingers? The Yankees retired #8 twice. Once for Bill Dickey and then Yogi. #42 will be retired twice also whenever Mariano decides to hang it up.

Christina Kahrl: I suppose it depends on how Stewart and Fingers would feel about it. When Stewart came back at the very end of his career, he had to wear 35, but retiring that wouldn't seem right.

Matt (South Dakota): Back to Kawakami, any chance another team would have interest in Kawakami (or Lowe) for essentially free or maybe even with a little salary relief included?

Christina Kahrl: Nobody wants to take the balance of Lowe's deal, and frankly I don't think it's worth the Braves' while to go this route. As the Ankiel/Farnsworth deal reflects, it's about getting one last division/pennant/shot and then getting around to tomorrow.

ryan (boston): will kalish play every day in Boston?

Christina Kahrl: Until they bring Jacoby Ellsbury back, of course, but that's the obvious answer. The question is whether the Cameron mess festers, forcing a DL move. If Cameron lands on the DL while Ellsbury comes back up, leaving Kalish alone in left field in the meantime makes sense.

Silv (NY, NY): Re: Steve Kemp, in defense of the Yankees (I can't believe I just wrote that), Kemp suffered an eye injury (scar tissue on his retina when he was hit by a batted ball in batting practice) in 1983 that essentially spelled the end of him as a valuable player. His "limbo" was more justifiable than Lowell's

Christina Kahrl: Point take, but I'm not sure I agree as far as Lowell's having any value left. If he was a 1B or DH, he'd be a bad hitter for either slot, and nobody seems to think he can play 3B regularly any more.

Christina Kahrl: With that, time to call it a day. Thanks for all the questions, and if any of you will be in Atlanta for SABR's annual convention at the end of the week, see you there!

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