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Chat: Marc Normandin

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday September 21, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Marc Normandin.


He's not a pod person, but he's been a Pads believer, so naturally you might want to talk about that and so much more with BP's Marc Normandin.

Marc Normandin: Afternoon, all. Glad to be here as the regular season inches closer to its end. There's plenty of baseball to talk about, both of the real life and fantasy varieties, but as you know, video games, music and really whatever are also acceptable topics, and in fact are encouraged. Currently listening to: "Midnight Boom" by The Kills, not to be confused with The Killers, a band that is infinitely inferior to the one I'm hearing.

formersd (San Diego): Any concerns that Latos is out of gas? His last few starts have been terrible. Given the toughest schedule of the 3 NL West contenders, are you as worried about that as I am?

Marc Normandin: I listened to pitching coach Darren Balsly on the radio yesterday, and it seems as if Latos just kind of got down on himself after giving up some early runs. They had trouble keeping his emotions in check in 2009, and this year he hasn't had to deal with it much since he was pitching ahead 99% of the time. They've apparently talked to him about it and have him lined up for three more starts (including the season finale) so I'm not that concerned. If his velocity was off I would be worried, but it isn't--just needs to remember to stay focused and do what he does well if he gives up a few runs early.

e (lawrenceville): Braves still the favorite to make it out of the NL?

Marc Normandin: I'm starting to think the Wild Card is coming out of the NL West, but a lot of that depends on how the remaining Giants/Padres/Rockies matchups go. Everyone is talking about the Padres falling out of it, but the Braves have done their share of slipping in the standings as of late.

mkizner (Boston): Red Sox keep coming up in Jayson Werth rumors if they can't resign Beltre. How are the two connected? Don't Werth and Drew play the same position, and can the Red Sox really have Youkilis and Werth's beard in the same lineup?

Marc Normandin: I kind of wish Werth was a free agent the year Drew's contract ran out, because he would slot in basically as a replacement for him on a production level. I would prefer to sign Beltre though, honestly. I hope Youkilis and Werth becomes best friends and we get to see their beards in buddy comedy situations that they will air during rain delays on NESN.

Klochner (MN): Is the Twins pitching good enough to get them through the playoffs? They're numbers as a staff are great, but for some reason they make me nervous in a short series. Too many pitch-to-contact guys?

Marc Normandin: With that lineup, the pitching is definitely good enough. I'll be writing about this later in the week, actually.

herbertstencil (Jakarta): Twelve team mixed H2H keeper league. $80m salary cap. Four keepers plus a rookie. Questions: 1. Harper or Hellickson as the rookie? Harper is at least two seasons off, but could be that good. Hellickson will probably be pretty good too and is ready now, but is a pitcher and thus more risky. Which to keep? (Also have Walker and Wallace, but don't think they're in the conversation.) 2. Cano and Youkilis are currently pencilled in, and thinking Morales (cheap although deepest position) and Wieters (weak position, high upside). Would you drop one of these for the loser of Harper-Hellickson? Or substitute Pagan, Konerko (expensive and concerned about his age) or Victorino (power up, average down)? Thanks. Can't wait to see your season in review by position articles. Going to be some odd entries there...

Marc Normandin: Harper, Youkilis, Cano are must keeps. Not huge on keeping Morales if you already have Youkilis, and if you aren't keeping any pitchers, Hellickson becomes a bit less risky (though I do share your pessimism when it comes to pitcher keepers). Pagan is intriguing, but I think he might be more the 2009 version of himself--he's surprisingly old for a player who has just recently picked up regular playing time.

Ethan (Bloomington, IN): So just how screwed are the Twins (and fantasy championship finalists) if Mauer's injury is serious?

Marc Normandin: I'm in the semifinals right now in a head-to-head league, and I traded for Mauer at the deadline in order to shore up my lineup. I was freaking out Sunday night, but at least I was able to pick up a huge bat off of FAAB someone had cut in order to add a two-start pitcher. If not I would be weeping at the mention of this injury.

Mauer's MRI is today, and they don't expect anything serious to come of it. They're just being cautious with expanded rosters and the knowledge that they need him in the lineup if they want to stay alive in October. But if Morneau and Mauer are gone, then screwed is an apt description.

mkizner (Boston): With the release of Telephantasm and the obligatory tour to support it, can you think of another band from your youth you'd want to see reunite and play besides Soundgarden? Somewhere, The Pixies wait with baited breath.

Marc Normandin: I don't think I will ever forgive myself for being busy during the Faith No More reunion. I couldn't get out to NYC to see them, which is just going to eat at me until I get a chance to see them again. They are probably ahead of even Soundgarden for me on the need to see live scale, though Soundgarden is right after.

Mike (Chicago): I have Starlin Castro($3) and Elvis Andrus($9) in a keeper league and can only keep one, would you keep one over the other or neither?

Marc Normandin: Starlin Castro every day, Mike. I have a giant fantasy crush on Castro, and was psyched when someone dealt him to me on a team I am rebuilding. He's 20 years old and has shown a ton of ability at the plate--I expect some more growth out of him. Rob McQuown and I have had this conversation a lot, but he reminds us of Rafael Furcal in a lot of ways (except Castro is at this point actually as young as he says he is)

Kevin (Boston): Which Final Fantasy was your favorite?

Marc Normandin: Final Fantasy VI is the best, Final Fantasy IV is my favorite. If that makes any sense whatsoever.

Guancous (Silver Spring, MD): Better keeper next year: Andrew McCutchen or Choo? Are you anticipating any other fighting games more than Marvel vs. Capcom 3?

Marc Normandin: Depends on the price (or if there is a price at all). Going to guess McCutchen costs less in an auction format, so I would give him the nod based on that, but in a straight keeper league I like Choo a whole lot (especially if he can get out from under his military requirements!).

That's tops on my list at present, but only because Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is already out (and amazing). I bought an arcade stick for Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, which if you know anything about how I feel about fighting games, is a huge surprise.

Swingingbunts (NY): I'm 2 points out of 1st with a week to go in the season. Who should I pick up for the last week that's going to put me over the top? I need someone who will hit HR's, score and knock in runs.

Marc Normandin: I hear Albert Pujols is good.

Seriously though, who is available? I don't know who you can acquire.

Eric (Denver): True or false: This season, Derek Jeter is Cliff Pennington with a worse glove?

Marc Normandin: I just really, really wanted to see this in print.

JoshC77 (Columbus, OH): Is it me, or is Miguel Cabrera one of the perpetually underrated upper-tier players in the game? I know he plays what is a deep position at 1b, he doesn't swipe many bags, and he isn't a 40+ HR hitter. Yet here he is in his age-27 season, having his best season (in terms of WARP). Nonetheless, it feels like few people talk about him when discussing the best players in the game. Am I off-base here? How do you see him aging, will he add power at the expense of batting average or will he continue to be a .320/35 HR guy for the next few years?

Marc Normandin: I think people used to talk about him that way more a few years back when he still had the potential to do it, so now that he's here everyone is bored by it--it was expected in a way. I agree with you though, he's ridiculous, and deserves mention amongst the games very best active players.

dianagramr (NYC): True or false: This season, Derek Jeter is Cliff Pennington with a worse glove? ================== Should have read: This season, Derek Jeter is *Chad* Pennington with a better arm?

Marc Normandin: A winner is you.

dianagramr (NYC): Hi Marc ... thanks for the chat: 1) Derek Jeter will sign a ___ year contract with the Yanks for an AAV of ___. 2) (True or False) Albert Pujols will one of the two highest-paid players in Majors when he signs his next contract? 3) Worst facial hair in Majors: Jenks, Werth, Garza, other?

Marc Normandin: 1) Three-years, $30 million. 2) True. 3) Jenks, because he's also enormous and it looks even funnier on him.

Seth (Los Angeles): Is Danny Valencia legit or not? Don't recall hearing much about him before this season and he's 25. Seems like he had good numbers in the minors, but with not as much patience as he's had in the majors so far.

Marc Normandin: He has a .371 BABIP so I'm going to go with no, but that doesn't mean he can't be any good. Cut 30-40 points off of each of his slash stats and he's still plenty useful for the position--he always had high BABIP in the minors, so if he posts .320 and .330 BABIP consistently I wouldn't be shocked.

SprungOnSports (Long Island): Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki has made the NL MVP race the most compelling in quite some time. Who do you give the edge to and why?

Marc Normandin: It's still Votto for me, though if Tulowitzki continues to make up for the month he missed in a single month he's an intriguing candidate for me. I think of it this way--they have very similar lines, and while Tulowitzki is a shortstop and maybe should get some extra credit for that, Votto has played all season. If Tulowitzki hadn't missed a month I would think more of him, but again, it's really close for me even with that, and I'm giving Votto the edge based solely on playing time.

Christopher (Nashville): Whither Robinson Cano in the next two or three years? Off a cliff like Baerga and Edgardo Alfonzo, a useful puzzle piece, or something greater?

Marc Normandin: I think Cano is potentially great, but yes, the shelf-life for second basemen can be painfully short, even for the best of them. I'll go with "something greater" for now, but that doesn't mean I think he'll still be tearing it up when he's 33.

chewbalka (Kingston): Thanks for the chat Marc. Morneau has lost two years. Fluke, or should I be worried in a keeper pool?

Marc Normandin: I like Morneau's bat a lot, but I've always felt he was a tad overrated. The problem is that if you wanted to deal him you would be selling low most likely, given the injuries. Given the injury type, I might roll the dice with trying to reacquire him, but it depends on what other keeper options you have and if he is able to come back in 2010 and show us his head is okay.

Klochner (MN): Subjectively, Danny Valenciahits the ball hard. I don't see him getting a lot of cheap hits.

Marc Normandin: That's probably why his BABIP has managed to stay high throughout his professional career. Hard hit grounders and solid contact on line drives will do that for you. He does have a surprising number of fly balls for a guy with a BABIP like he has, but again, we're expecting some regression on that note as well per the previous comment.

Moneyball16 (Calgary): What kind of contract does Joaquin Benoit get in the off season? His situation seems so unique that I have little idea of what he gets, but I think he could be a nice bargain for a team looking for a closer.

Marc Normandin: Even after you look at his adjusted ERA rather than his actual, he's been lights out. The peripherals are just out of control, with over 11 K per nine and under two walks per nine. I would expect more walks out of him next year, but not so much that it keeps him from being super effective out there, but I don't see anyone handing him a huge contract right away either. He's still not a Proven Closer, after all /sarcasm

e (lawrenceville): Shouldn't a team that has sold out the entire season have at least tried to extend Jayson Werth for 2 years? This isn't Pat Burrell they're talking about letting go. Are the Phillies really going to let Werth go because they committed to Ibanez two years ago? That doesn't sound like a team that brought in Roy Oswalt.

Marc Normandin: Let's remember they brought in Roy Oswalt to cover up for the ridiculous Cliff Lee trade. Stealing a player from Houston isn't exactly something to be proud of, and when you have to resort to that because you screwed up first...

Jayson Werth hired Boras, so he's ready to get his Big Free Agent Deal. Two years isn't going to cut it. The Phillies should be making a play for him, but they decided to take care of Ryan Howard's extension first. Since it was so time sensitive, and all.

Tyler Colvin (ICU): At least we know for sure that I am not a vampire.

Marc Normandin: Man, that was a scary moment. I hate to think what would have happen if the bat shard hit him in the throat instead, especially since it pierced his uniform and chest with ease.

Matt (Chicago): What type of slash line do you see T Colvin putting up next yr? I like the kid but don't know if he can solve his OBP issues or if his power is sustainable.

Marc Normandin: I like his power a lot, but the OBP does frighten me. I know Colin Wyers is not enthused by him. For fantasy purposes (assuming you don't use OBP) he's a solid bet, but IRL, the OBP may hurt. That being said, he has a .280 TAv this year, and that's right around the average in right field, so it's not like it's killing him now.

Rummy (Fang Island): With H20 are the Phillies the odds-on favorites to win it all right now?

Marc Normandin: I think the NL is completely up in the air. The Reds can hit, can field, and their bullpen has improved, and their rotation may have had it easy in the regular season but that doesn't mean it isn't solid. Any of the three NL West teams can beat the Phillies in a short series too, thanks to their own ridiculous pitching staffs. There is no odds-on favorite to come out of the NL, as far as I'm concerned, and that's before we even get into whether the AL's clubs are better.

dianagramr (NYC): The Mets should really move their fences in about 10', right? Otherwise, that Jason Bay contract is REALLY gonna smell come 2012 or so.

Marc Normandin: Considering their inability to identify pitchers that can help them out, I would say the fences should be pushed even further back. David Wright can still draw a walk whether the fences are 400 or 500 feet back!

Moneyball16 (Calgary): What should the Padres do with Heath Bell in the off season? It seems like they could get some helpful salary relief and help in the way of a position player and/or prospects without taking to much of a hit in the bullpen considering the sick depth they have. Thanks for the chat, Marc.

Marc Normandin: They should keep him--they could use the draft picks if he ends up walking when his deal is done, and there's no way he accepts arbitration anyways. Bell is worth every penny, and isn't making that much money considering his production--plus the rest of the bullpen makes zilch, so it's not like there's a need to cut further. Heath Bell is one of a handful of closers I actively trust to do his job from year to year.

dianagramr (NYC): And the ex-Met Bell doesn't punch out relatives ....

Marc Normandin: I love Kevin Towers, I really do. And I want him to get another job as a general manager, because he deserves. The fact that the man who acquired Heath Bell and Royce Ring for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson may be a GM in the NL West, and not on the Padres, scares me big time. But as an analyst I love it, because the NL West should become even more ridiculous.

Todd (DC): Who should the A's target in free agency or trades to boost their lineup for next season? Adam Dunn?

Marc Normandin: I wonder if Dunn has so much pop that it doesn't matter too much if he ends up in a canyon of a park like Oakland. They do need to add to that lineup though--the defense is there, the pitching is there, but they are a big injury or two away from looking like the Mariners just like they are an impact player or two away from looking like the Rangers.

Gordon Freeman (City 17): I know you are a Padres fan and believer, but you have to admit you are worried now, right?

Marc Normandin: Gordon Freeman doesn't talk! Though I guess you didn't say this out loud, you just typed it.

Honestly? Not worried. Do I think there's a chance they miss the playoffs, sure. But a few things. They get to play the Dodgers, which the Giants and Rockies already did this month. They get the Cubs for a series, and get to face the Giants to end the year. The Giants and Rockies still have to face each other once, so one of them will probably get pushed out of things through that (or both will run in place). Ludwick is starting to hit, the team is finally healthy (outside of Jerry Hairston, though he's been replaced by Miguel Tejada and now Eckstein is back anyways).

Guancous (Silver Spring, MD): True or False: The Pirates will have an above average offense in 2011.

Marc Normandin: I think it's a possibility, but a lot of it depends on what they do this offseason. They have four quality hitters in the lineup and then Snyder/Doumit are also capable of doing some damage. I would almost rather they go all out on defense for the other slots.

chris (baltimore): Did you know that B-Ref's most similar pitcher to Papelbon is Bryan Harvey? Does this explain some of the disparaging remarks I've seen in different chats lately? His 2010 may be down a tick from previous years, but he doesn't seem that much different. What's your take?

Marc Normandin: I've calmed down a little from before regarding Papelbon, but that doesn't mean I've stopped counting down the days until his free agency. If he can make his splitter work for strikes, he's unhittable, but that's not the case often, and it happens less with time.

Todd (DC): How much of a return could Vin Mazzaro bring in for the A's as a centerpiece of a trade?

Marc Normandin: As a centerpiece? Probably not a whole lot. I feel like the teams that would be intrigued by Mazzaro are also too smart to give up too much to acquire him, knowing about Oakland's defense and the park effects.

formersd (San Diego): I'm also pretty frightened of the Towers to Arizona rumors. KT is a pretty good GM and his signature skill is building a cheap but effective bullpen and bench, exactly the things Arizona needs...

Marc Normandin: Exactly. I'm sure the scouting department would also see some improvement, and he would have more money to work with (though the deferred contracts are cutting into Arizona's salary).

Chris (cube farm): So Bell is a one of the few closers you trust from year to year. Other than Mariano, any others?

Marc Normandin: Mariano is an obvious one as you said. Brian Wilson is up there, too. It's a very, very short list for me. The pitchers I like for fantasy purposes normally (Broxton and Papelbon come to mind) are not necessarily the same pitchers I trust to close out everything.

Reej (Dell Warehouse): How much are you missing Mike Mussina right now? I feel like baseball needs more folks nicknamed "Moose", don't you?

Marc Normandin: The next ballplayer to come out of Canada will be nicknamed thus.

bctowns (Chicago, IL): Marc, Any idea on what Pedro Alvarez's value will be next year in a 14-team keeper league? I can keep him in the 17th round, but not sure I want to slot 3rd base to him quite yet. His year hasn't been THAT impressive has it? Thanks for chatting.

Marc Normandin: I like his potential as a hitter a lot, and I think he can slot in at first base sooner than later thanks to his bat. Keeping him in the 17th round could be a steal for you honestly, even if you aren't ready to start him at 3B in April.

tommybones (brooklyn): Wouldn't Mike Adams be just as solid closing for the Padres, which allows you to cash in on Bell before he falls off or leaves via free agency?

Marc Normandin: Mike Adams would be solid closing for the Padres, but considering the addition to next year's rotation is going to be Corey Luebke (a mid-rotation guy at best) I would like to keep as much bullpen depth as possible. I don't think Bell is going to drop off in 2011, either.

John (Seattle): With all of the different types of fantasy games out there (roto, sim, scoresheet), what's your favorite and why?

Marc Normandin: I'm a head-to-head guy, honestly. Roto is great, but I feel like I kind of set that on Sunday and leave it for the week (though I check to make upgrades and such, obviously). Head-to-head is so much more in the moment for me, since I can track it as it goes. This time of year is especially exciting--we had a playoff game in my league decided by Alexei Ramirez driving in a run or not on Sunday night baseball.

Colin Wyers (Davenport, IA): What's a Will Venable?

Marc Normandin: This will never get old.

Clark-El (Anchorage): How convinced are you that Jed Lowrie has blossomed as an impact player?

Marc Normandin: Not convinced at all. Lowrie is basically Bill Hall, with a few differences. Hall can field better, and Lowrie gets on base more. They are both at their best in a super-utility role and can provide a bat off of the bench as well.

Chris (cube farm): I think the next "Moose" will be Mike Moustakas...

Marc Normandin: You're probably right. It's too bad he isn't Canadian, eh?

Matt Bush (Prison?): But whose call was it to draft me first instead of Justin Verlander?

Marc Normandin: Matt Bush is a pitcher now! Also I think a lot of the people responsible for that were cleared out when Sandy Alderson came on board.

Definitely Not Chase (Definitely Not San Diego): Better game in 2010: Halo: Reach or Fallout: New Vegas?

Marc Normandin: Well you know I don't care much for Halo Not Chase, so I'll go with Fallout: New Vegas. Though if Obsidian rushed through it like they did KOTOR 2 I will not be pleased. Then again, that was kind of LucasArts doing for needing a sequel so badly.

dantroy (davis): Swisher + hype = Werth, roughly speaking.

Marc Normandin: Judges?

malmstorm (Austin TX): Keep 5 of 6 next year, who ya got? (OPS/QS league) Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward

Marc Normandin: Miggy, Felix, Lee, Heyward, Braun. I love Adrian Gonzalez, but Petco. Braun's numbers have a weird, one-year split I expect will disappear in 2011.

dantroy (Davis): Wasn't drafting Bush a last minute ownership call? Their budget limited them to a "signability" guy. Also, in fairness, while Verlander always threw hard, his college performance did not scream MLB ace.

Marc Normandin: I've tried to block that moment out of my mind, so if someone else can confirm please?

mkizner (Boston): What's your dream scenario for the divorce of Ellsbury and the Red Sox? In my world, we trick Crazy Neddie into parting with Matt Kemp, and convince him of the wonders of the National Treasure, Dice K.

Marc Normandin: The Dodgers won't need a starting pitcher I don't think. Plus Matsuzaka wasn't part of the World Champion Red Sox so Frank McCourt won't want him on his Los Angeles Faux Sox out west.

I hope they end up sending Ellsbury to the Mets and stealing a prospect and an outfielder for him.

Clark-El (Anchorage): Swisher has better grooming habits, though that might just be the Yankees' dress code. Either way, he's not a walking park effect, and Werth is, right?

Marc Normandin: Werth's H/R splits were pretty stable from 2007-2009, though this year they are much more severe in favor of his home park. I would have to look at it a lot more closely to see what it is that is causing the lack of production on the road.

Princess (Bowser's Castle): Are there any good DS games you suggest that I can play during 6-7 minute stints in between classes?

Marc Normandin: If you have a DSi I would suggest Pictobits, because it's addicting and a puzzler.

Castro Somal (Oakland): At what point can we start talking about Billy Beane as a seriously overrated GM? The scoreboard is starting to really show some unflattering performance on his part. Is he disengaged or distracted? How many Jason Kendalls, Cliff Penningtons, Andre Ethiers, Carlos Gonzalezes, and failed reclamation projects do we give a guy because he's tall and handsome?

Marc Normandin: I mean, Brad Pitt is playing him in a movie, so he can probably go a long way with that. But yes, I know what you mean. The problem is now we're going to delve into the territory where Beane is so overrated he becomes underrated, because he's still very good at his job. The problem is that there are more people who are also very good at their job in the game today as well, and a lot of them have better resources too.

Joakim Soria (KC): And wasn't it Towers' decision not to protect me when there were six open spots on the roster?

Marc Normandin: If we want to start a list of the good and bad things Kevin Towers has done as GM of the Padres, while there are definitely mistakes--like any GM, including the very best ones on the planet right now in Tampa Bay and Boston--there is much, much more in the way of good.

TheGrapist (Mass): How do you feel about Denny's new $2, $4, $6, $8 menu? What is your favorite item?

Marc Normandin: It's vying for idea of the century. How can you go wrong with $2 cheese fries?

Park Effects? (NYC): Re: Werth's road numbers -- Yeah, but wouldn't you *expect* to see Philadelphia hitters do worse on the road? I guess it depends on where you choose to get your numbers, but playing most of your road games in Citi Field, and DC, and Florida, etc, would depress your numbers, no?

Marc Normandin: A bit, yes, but the drop is more severe this year. Like I said I'm not exactly worried about it for Werth, especially given his lovely OBPs, but I would like to see what caused it.

JT (MKE): You are the GM of the Brewers, obviously you need pitching to go behind Gallardo and Wolf (who hasn't been bad the second half)...Who do you get? And I don't think you can get much for Fielder (may be 1 starter)...what do you do...Trade Gamel and Lawrie for more? Keep Fielder and just halfway upgrade? Trade Corey Hart?

Marc Normandin: I would rather trade Prince Fielder at this point. In the years when his power isn't all-world, his lack of defense cuts into his value big time. The optimism of the offseason will cause someone to give up what the Brewers need if they want to shop him, much more so than during the regular season when they were listening to teams.

Chris Narveson has looked pretty good as of late, though I'm not sure how sustainable it is. Getting Manny Parra out of the rotation is probably for the best. They may want to go for some league average guys who can strike out some batters, because that defense still isn't any good.

Carl Pavano (Minny): Is it just a matter of not being in the spotlight that makes me a better pitcher, or is it that I seem to perform really well in contract years only?

Marc Normandin: It's the mustache.

achaik (Maine): Let's talk dynasty leagues.... Long term, Gordon Beckham or Mike Moustakas, assuming I have nothing useful at either position going forward.

Marc Normandin: I'm not 100% on how good Moustakas is going to be, but I know with Beckham I have had to mull this over for one of my own teams. His second half has been excellent, and he worked on his swing midseason with the hitting coach and got immediate results, so it should be safe to keep him.

wangdaddy (SF): Hey Marc, what do you make of Uggla's season in terms of his improved numbers at the plate- supported and sustainable for 2011 or luck?

Marc Normandin: It's mostly just a higher batting average. His power is still lower like it was last year--notice his SLG isn't better than his 2008 numbers, despite a much higher batting average. I still like him a lot for 2011, but I would assume the average cuts back down to .260 or so.

RhubarbOrDeath (Portland): Did Rick Porcello's career effectively end as a potential ace last year when he was worked like a rented mule?

Marc Normandin: I think his decision to stick with this two-seamer is holding him back a lot more than that.

Phoebus (Mobile): Hi Marc Wanted to know whether you had some opinions as to *why* some of these players haven't developed as some of us had hoped: * BJ Upton * Matt LaPorta * Justin Masterson * Scott Sizemore * Matt Wieters Thanks.

Marc Normandin: Upton has just not been able to keep his BABIP and batting averages high enough, but he's had plenty of power when healthy and he's been great on the basepaths. He's also a fantastic defensive player. LaPorta is a curious case, as he was supposedly all better in terms of health and his swing mechanics, but hasn't been able to consistently produce. Masterson pitches in front of a horrible defense and can't get lefties out to save his life. He could deal with the LHB thing if the defense was better, but the combination of the two has just ruined him in 2010. Sizemore has just 143 plate appearances, so let's wait on calling him a disappointment. Wieters was over hyped and has actually performed well for his position and his age, but the power just isn't there yet consistently.

tommybones (brooklyn): What should we expect from Desmond Jennings next season? Is McCutchen too much to ask for?

Marc Normandin: That's asking a lot out of the gate. His season at Triple-A was really no better than Josh Reddick's, and though Jennings was a better prospect at the start of the season (five stars against four, via Kevin Goldstein) that's not exactly something to be excited about.

Greg (NYC): "I hate to think what would have happen if the bat shard hit him in the throat instead, especially since it pierced his uniform and chest with ease." ------- You're too young for Steve Yeager. Actually, I'm too young for Steve Yeager too...

Marc Normandin: Google isn't though! ...oh my.

davis (ny): I've never played RPGs seriously in my life (unless you count Zelda), but recently started working my way through Chrono Trigger, and I'm completely hooked. Where to go next? I have an SNES (which is where I'm playing Chrono), as well as a GameCube, Playstation 1, and Wii.

Marc Normandin: Sticking with the SNES, pick up Final Fantasy III (which is really 6, but not on the SNES). Kevin Goldstein would be able to help you out with PS1 RPGs more than I, though continuing with the Final Fantasy theme wouldn't hurt. As for GameCube, the options are a bit more limited, but Baten Kaitos (either of them), Skies of Arcadia and Tales of Symphonia are all very good-to-great RPGs.

Marky P. (SoCal): For fantasy purposes, anybody not getting saves this year that you could see getting saves in 2011?

Marc Normandin: If the aforementioned Joaquin Benoit gets a gig, there's one. If the Sox move Papelbon, Bard will be the closer. If the Padres move Heath Bell, that's going to be Mike Adam's job. No idea what the situation is with the Mets for next year, but between Parnell and Takahashi they may have some in-house options if they choose that route.

Bobby G (Helena): What do you make of the Cy Young argument in the American League?

Marc Normandin: I think it should be Felix Hernandez or Jon Lester, and it comes down to their last few starts. Lester seemed like he had fallen out of the race, but he has been nigh untouchable for about five starts now and propelled himself right back into it. I wrote something about it about a week ago, but then he went and shut the Jays down over the weekend as well. Here's a link!

Dave (Chicago): How would you improve the A's lineup this offseason?

Marc Normandin: I would probably start by getting most of the A's out of it and replacing them with better players. Honestly though, they aren't going to have a great offense if they are defense oriented, and I don't blame them for playing to the park's strengths. But they do need to upgrade somewhere--give up some defense at an offense heavy position if you have to, but add a big bat.

Random, but Rajai Davis is listed as the starting left and right fielder for the A's at MLB.com. He's got some range.

Toddles (San Francisco): Wieters has 1200 PA in the bigs that say he's a solid catcher but not a monster. That's worth a lot more than the what, 500 PA he had in the minors? There's just not that many catchers his size, and Baltimore hasn't shown much ability to actually grow and develop hitters.

Marc Normandin: I'm hopeful Buck Showalter can have some positive influence in that regard, as getting young teams to do what they are meant to seems to be his specialty, but as you said, it's not looking positive yet. Youth is on his side for now though.

Rob in WI (Madison): Happy Civ V Release Day. Is there worse feeling than knowing an awesome game is released (with updates) and not having the machine capable of running it?

Marc Normandin: I'm trying not to think about it. I'll just keep playing Civ IV and pretend until I can get a new machine.

I'll be heading out soon because I'm heading to the Red Sox game tonight and need to get ready, so it's lightning round time folks.

mafrth77 (Boston): Buchholz or Hughes in 2011?- Hughes fly ball rate scares me.

Marc Normandin: I prefer Clay Buchholz, and that's taking into account he's been enormously lucky in 2010 to have the defense he does behind him. I just think he's a better pitcher than Hughes, though they get to where they are differently.

formersd (San Diego): Yes, local consensus at the time was that the Padres drafted Bush to avoid the Boras clients (Weaver, Stephen Drew).

Marc Normandin: It's a good thing the Padres do well in the later rounds of the draft.

nickelback (SPL in the air): Damn fine music. Damn fine.

Marc Normandin: Obvious troll is obvious. I hope. No one really likes that band, do they?

Nickelback (Musical Olympus): Screw Zeppelin. Forget the Stones, AC/DC, even Radiohead, Oasis, Clapton, everyone. We are Nickelback. We. Are. Nickelback.

Marc Normandin: I feel like Matt Stairs is ashamed to be from the same country as Nickelback.

Hi/Lo (Waterloo): Brandon Morrow's 2011 ERA?

Marc Normandin: 3.65

Yatchisin (Santa Barbara): I thought I was all set for years to come with Matt Kemp and Justin Upton as two of my annual freezers. Can that still be true going forward, even without one getting a new head and the other a new shoulder?

Marc Normandin: Upton has been disappointingly average, but since he's still young I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I would hate to not have him if he returns to developing like he should. Kemp's 2010 is very worrisome, and it's something I'm going to look at in detail this offseason.

mattsaunders (seattle): What part of the 2007 World Series game 3 did Dice-K not win?

Marc Normandin: That's not the one McCourt loves. McCourt loves the 2004 team, because it's the one he should have been the owner of. I have this idea that McCourt lives out his fantasy of being Red Sox owner by acquiring important Red Sox from the era in which he would have purchased the club.

Daniel (Oakland): Gio Gonzalez's ERA if he were pitching in Baltimore?

Marc Normandin: I wrote this article earlier in the year about Gio Gonzalez and Charlie Morton, to say that in a lot of ways they were very, very similar, and context was the key to both of their seasons to that point. Morton went on the DL the next day though so it was scrapped, but I should revisit that this winter, yeah?

Gonzalez is a solid pitcher, but he has benefited big time from that park and the D in Oakland. I would say 4.30 maybe, in Baltimore? He's better than that, but maybe Baltimore isn't.

Rob in WI (Madison): Did any of the young Cubs pitchers show you anything in the 2nd half to think they're going to be worth something in 2011? Or do we go back after Theodore Roosevelt Lilly?

Marc Normandin: Cashner would be the one I would keep an eye on, but a lot of his value will be determined when the Cubs announce their plans for the 2011 pitching staff as well.

T. La Russa (Missouri, for now): So where am I at this time next year?

Marc Normandin: Probably writing Colby Rasmus into the lineup and pretending you don't mind.

Nickelback (Versatility, CA): "Well the shark...pointy teeth, babe... and he shows them... Pearly White!" We make ANYTHING sound good. And make any meat dresses look great. Lady Gaga's a dude.

Marc Normandin: I think this is as good of a place to end as any.

Marc Normandin: Thanks to all of you who showed up! It was a little on the short side coming in at just over two hours, but I'll make it up to you next time. I'm off to the Red Sox game tonight to watch Clay Buchholz and Brad Bergesen! Good luck to all of your teams these next two weeks, unless you live in Colorado or San Francisco. No hard feelings!

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