Care to check the numbers with Eric Seidman? He'll be chatting today, so fire away.
Eric Seidman: Alrighty everyone, we're going to kickstart this shindig a bit early. The Nats are currently beating the Braves 4-2 in a crucial game, and I am officially ready to field questions.
Matt (Chicago): I've been very frustrated by Randy Wells' inconsistency. Do you see anything in his peripherals that tells you I should lay off him a bit?
Eric Seidman: Without exaggeration, I get at least one Randy Wells question every time I have a chat. I am not sure what else I can say about the guy so I will repeat what I always write. I am not sure what people saw that made them think this was a future front of the rotation pitcher, but he isn't one. He is very similar to JA Happ, only without the deceptive delivery. Wells is about league average when it comes to strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed, though he is good at keeping the ball on the ground. If he fills out a rotation, that's great, as his run prevention skills likely lie somewhere between his rates of this year and last, but this is not a future ace, and inconsistency should be expected. I wouldn't say lay off of him, but rather lay off of your expectations of him. This is a #4 starter, not a #2.
David (CT): Is Jason Heyward deserving of a spot somewhere on an NL MVP ballot?
Eric Seidman: Certainly somewhere, though not anywhere near the point of actually contending for the award. Though I've thrown tantrums in the past when certain players don't show up second or third on an award ballot, with Heyward we are talking about maybe the seventh or eighth spot, over which I just cannot get worked up. I flip-flop between Heyward and Posey for Rookie of the Year everyday, but I don't think Heyward is a serious MVP candidate. Hitting .275/.405/.480 is phenomenal, especially for a rookie, but as I think of the candidates, my list goes: Votto, Pujols, CarGo, A-Gonz, Halladay, and then pick a name out of the hat for the rest, as they aren't potential winners. Add in that Martin Prado and Brian McCann have been incredibly valuable to the Braves and I have a hard time really suggesting that Heyward is the main reason the Braves are where they are right now. So, to sum this up, sure, he is probably deserving of a spot somewhere, but not deserving of serious consideration for the award.
Mountainhawk (Salem, MA): Musical chairs in the NL. Which of the 5 teams (PHI, ATL, COL, SD, SF) is left without a seat when the music stops in 2 1/2 weeks?
Eric Seidman: Phillies will win the division. Padres will win the division. Those two I feel strongly about. The rest gets a bit tricky because the Phillies and Braves play six more times this year, and the Phillies have aligned Hamels-Halladay-Oswalt to pitch in both series. While I doubt they will sweep both series, if they go 4-2 or 5-1 against the Braves and the Giants or Rockies can heat up one last time, it is definitely feasible that the Braves don't get into the playoffs at all. My gut tells me that the Phillies, Braves and Padres get in, but that's just due to a lack of confidence in the Giants, and my belief that the Rockies pitching staff is not strong enough to stay on par with that offense.
E (Indiana): From casual observation of AL East games it seems that Jose Bautista HR total is just hitting meatballs out of the park with high frequency. Is there a way to calculate bad pitch/HR ratios (maybe using Pitch F/X?)
Eric Seidman: Yes, certainly. When I used to write for Statistically Speaking, I wrote an article about Johan Santana and how he had surrendered an inordinate amount of home runs on these supposed meatball pitches. PITCHf/x data allows us to track results in specific parts of the zone. But one thing to keep in mind is that taking advantage of these meatballs doesn't necessarily detract from what Bautista has done at all. If we find that the league average HR/bad pitch is 25% and Bautista is at 50%, we don't really know if it means he will plummet next season or if he is just zoned in on those bad pitches. Bautista completely changed his swing and approach, and so 28-34 HR should probably be expected for the next few seasons, but your question is a good one worth exploring, so I will keep it in my queue for offseason research.
Jon KK (Elkhart, IN): If the Padres had pitched Mat Latos two-thirds of an inning less last year would he be the favorite for NL ROY? Is that he went over rookie eligibility indicative of anything more than just unawareness?
Eric Seidman: I'll be honest, the Rookie of the Year award is about as meaningless to me as the Manager of the Year award. Players shouldn't have their playing time dictated simply so they can qualify for some hardware. If Latos was currently a rookie, then he would be the frontrunner right now but what does that really mean? Perhaps without the experience he had last year he wouldn't have been as tremendous this season. It's not unawareness at all, but likely just apathy in the direction of a fairly useless award.
bill (fargo, north dakota): Hey Eric,
I drafted Adam Lind this year in my fantasy league. Coming off a 36 hr run year, I was expecting a top 15-of performance from him (so was ESPN). What happened? 22 hrs and a 229 avg is not what I had in mind when i laid down a high pick on him.
Eric Seidman: Well, for starters, his strikeout rate has increased substantially and he isn't walking as frequently. He isn't being as patient this year, and despite hitting more flyballs, his HR/FB has dropped off significantly. I don't know much about his batting mechanics, admittedly, but Lind's statistical line this season suggests to me that he is having problems seeing the ball, and is trying to compensate for it in the wrong ways. He isn't this bad but he probably isn't as good as he was last year. If he can be a bit more patient at the plate and cut back on swings out of the zone, he should be able to get into the .350 OBP/.480 SLG range, which is where expectations should stay moving forward.
Mountainhawk (Salem, MA): Speaking of Halladay-Hamels-Oswalt ... will they be the best 1-2-3 combo in the playoffs? Last 18 starts for those guys they are 13-3, 128.2 IP, 117 K, 2.10 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. That's going to be tough to deal with in a 5 or 7 game series.
Eric Seidman: Yes... and it isn't close. You're talking about 3 of the best 10-12 pitchers in the NL in the same rotation. Lincecum-Cain-Sanchez would be very good, but that threesome is still its ways away from the Phillies' H20. I don't believe the Rays have a threesome that good; the Yankees certainly don't; the Twins don't; and the Rangers don't. These teams have definitive aces, and maybe a second strong starter, but the Phillies biggest advantage should they make the playoffs is by far the best rotation.
Joe Lefkowitz (NJ): What type of player would you rather have on your team: +20 defense/-10 offense, -10 defense/+20 offense, +5 defense/+5 offense?
Eric Seidman: The answer to this is contingent upon the level of uncertainty associated with the numbers. The benefit of offensive numbers is that we know for sure they occurred. With defense, it's not as clear-cut. If I knew that with 100% certainty, a run saved defensively was equal to a run produced on offense, then the answer would boil down to whether or not I considered the defense to be consistent moving forward. I would go for the -10 defense/+20 offense player, hoping that the defense could improve.
dianagramr (NYC): What are you drinking? What are you wearing? Most importantly, does Ichiro have the best RF arm of active players, cause Greg Golson made one heck of a throw to end the Rays/Yanks game last night.
Eric Seidman: Drinking lots of water and wearing very tight under armor as I recover from the surgery I had on Monday. Greg Golson is a former Phillies nothing prospect who was shipped to Texas for fellow nothing prospect John Mayberry, Jr. When my father and I heard Golson's name mentioned on Quick Pitch this morning we instantly double-took (double-taked?) and stared in disbelief. Ichiro! still has a tremendous arm. Francouer, for all his faults, has a strong arm, too. I don't know who has the best, but I do know that Corey Hart and Hunter Pence have the strangest throws.
Brian Morgan (Chicago, ill.): I'm a big Hunter Pence fan. His line has been extremely consistent these last 3 years and I was wondering if there's any chance a big breakout year is in his future. Or is he destined to hit 280 with 25 hrs and 80 rbi's every year?
Eric Seidman: Pence has been consistent in the power and slugging department each of the last three seasons (SLG in the .460-.470 range) and his OBP seems secure in the .325-.330 range as I consider his 2009 walk rate to be more fluky than indicative. His RBI numbers may improve from a fantasy standpoint if players like Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson can be effective, but Pence sure seems like a lock for a .280/.330/.470 line with 25 HR, 80 RBI, and 15 SB.
Paul (DC): Mike Stanton - which standard bearer of the alter of the three true outcomes will his career most resemble?
Eric Seidman: Well, I need to see him develop patience at the plate before I anoint him a bearer of the three true outcomes. Right now he is a two true outcomes player, either striking out or mashing home runs. It would be a bit premature to compare him to anyone right now because we just don't know that much about him. He is still very raw, and he is still the type of player that you look forward to facing in a lineup if you have a competent pitcher on the mound. Ask me again next year and I'll have a better answer, because right now he isn't a TTO player.
ryan rakickas (kentucky): I'm convinced that J.A. Happ has the ability to potentially become a number 1 starter. Since joining the Astros he's only had 1 bad start (vrs. the Cardinals). Any merit to my thinking or am I way off base here?
Eric Seidman: You're off base here. I see no reason why Happ cannot be successful as a middle of the rotation pitcher, or even a low-end #2, but his walks and strikeouts are not impressive, and I find it highly unlikely that he can remain successful on perceived velocity and a deceptive delivery for years to come. Plus, he isn't a 22-year old youngster coming into his own, either. What makes answers to questions like this problematic is that he really hasn't "failed" yet in the majors, so it's a matter of what analysts like me foresee against a year and a half of solid run-prevention marks. I'm rooting for Happ, and hope he can have a great career, but I also think that anyone expecting him to develop into a top of the line lefty is in for disappointment.
dogtothedog (toronto): can the jays compete with a rotation of marcum cecil morrow romero drabek?
Eric Seidman: Pitching has never been the Jays problem. They have had putrid offenses almost every season, and so yes, they can compete with that quintet in the rotation, but only if they can put together an actual batting lineup.
Eric (Los Angeles): For the second time this season, the Giants lose 1-0 after allowing only one hit. The Giants have found ways to lose this year (CarGo's broken bat triple, natch) that seemingly rewire my brain -- they make my head hurt. And tonight they face Billingsley, a pitcher who has absolutely dominated them this year. No Torres for the rest of the regular season; the wheels could be coming off here. Should I just turn away now to avoid watching a catastrophe?
Eric Seidman: No, not just yet. Keep in mind, the Giants currently employ 72 outfielders on their major league roster, and so the downgrade isn't Torres to, say, Rowand, as Guillen and Ross are more than serviceable. Losing him is definitely significant, but as I stated earlier, a team like the Giants or Rockies might be able to make it to the playoffs based on what happens in the six games between the Phillies and Braves. I don't think they will make the playoffs, but it is still too early to throw in the towel as a fan.
dogtothedog (toronto): what would you do this off season to fix or start to fix the jays offense if you were running the show in toronto?
Eric Seidman: Signing Adam Dunn would be my first order of business, though a lot of the Jays future success is going to come from revamping the farm system. What they need to be careful of now is overspending at the major league level at the literal expense of their scouting and player development.
Cambridge (Cambridge): Dusty Baker has stubbornly kept his lowest OBP guys at the top of the lineup. How many more runs would the Reds have scored with the Hannigan-Hernandez combo leading off and either Rolen or Bruce hitting second, with Phillips moving into the middle of the order and Cabrera in the eight- or nine-hole?
Eric Seidman: I'm not sure the effect here is as large as it may seem, and that is because I don't truly know how Hannigan or Hernandez would perform that far up in the order. It is easy to assume that players and their numbers are locked and that moving them around keeps everything in place, but I don't know that to be true. For instance, there were Phillies blogs calling for Carlos Ruiz to leadoff or bat second because of his OBP ~ .400, but he also walks alot because he bats in front of the pitcher. It is likely that Hannigan would net more runs in the leadoff spot than Cabrera, but I don't know if the difference is 5 or 15 runs, and given that they are making the playoffs anyway, the answer is likely immaterial anyway.
JE (Ankeny, IA): The Tigers need a catcher to replace Laird (and share time w/Avila) and could use a little bit of power for next year. Marc/Kevin state today that the Pirates need some arms for next year.
Does Ryan Doumit for Armando Galarraga work as a fair deal? Would either side hang up right away? Does either side need to add another piece to make it work? Thanks.
Eric Seidman: If I were Dave Dombrowski, I would be more interested in Chris Snyder than Doumit, as the former has more actual catching skills than the latter. The Pirates don't necessarily need Galarraga and I'm not sure what he would do for the rotation aside from provide a warm body who can eat up innings. The Pirates shouldn't pursue deals like this, as Galarraga is not that great of a pitcher and the last thing the Buccos need is a poor-peripheraled starter entering his arbitration years.
Paul (Boston): Give me one good reason to watch a Yankee game before October 6th.
Eric Seidman: Well, my rule of thumb is that any game in which Austin Kearns could appear is a game worth watching.
Wendy (Chicago): A friend of mine used to be a stripper and frequently does nude chats on the internet. Would you ever do one?
Eric Seidman: Well, I don't workout 2 hrs a day to NOT do nude chats. Completely unrelated matter, but who is your friend and where are these chats?
ryanra1 (phila): Whats your take on josh hamilton being winning the triple crown next year if healthy? Also is he worth the number one pick in a draft as i would do because of his beastliness?
Eric Seidman: I'm not a big believer in his triple crown chances. I don't think he'll ever be totally healthy and I also don't see him approaching a .360 BA ever again. I hate having to shoot down every part of this question but I also wouldn't take him first overall in a fantasy draft next year either. For me, I want consistency in my first couple of picks in a draft. Hamilton is a high-reward player, but I would never spend the first pick on someone who has had a checkered injury history and whose numbers suddenly went off the charts this year.
Andrew (Toronto): The 2010 AL Cy Young award should go to ________, but will go to ________. Those blanks aren't going to fill themselves, can you help?
Eric Seidman: Felix, Sabathia. I think if Felix can go 3-0 or 4-0 and finish at 14-11 or 15-11, then he will have enough wins for the voters to not be able to look past all of his other numbers, even if Sabathia finished with 23 wins. However, I don't think that happens. I have a sneaking suspicion that Sabathia pitches lights out the rest of the year while Hernandez has a bad start... like a 5 IP-6 ER bad start... that seals Sabathia's victory in the minds of many. Realistically, though, both have been great this season.
Matt (Chicago): Any chance that Tyler Colvin can get his OBP in the .330-.340 range? I like the pop but he seems hopeless against decent breaking stuff.
Eric Seidman: His minor league walk rates were never that high, and I don't usually see players develop patience at the major league level. I'd say .330 would be his 80th percentile in a perfect world, but that we're looking at a .280/.315/.460 hitter worth keeping around pre-arbitration, but not after that.
Bob (Seattle): Is Hunter Pence Jeff Francouer on steroids (in a 2.0 version kind of way)? And does Michael Stanton remind you of Dave Kingman?
Eric Seidman: Not sure what you mean by 2.0 or steroids, but I don't think they are really comparable. Pence isn't a superstar, but he is consistent offensively and has actual value with the bat. .280/.330/.470 isn't lighting the world on fire but it's certainly better than the crap Francouer puts up each year. Plus, Pence has speed, steals bases, and looks to be a good fielder.
Manprin (Sacramento, CA): What are the A's going to do with their plethora of mediocre OF'ers? Sweeney, Davis, Jackson, Hermida, Buck, Carter, Taylor...Crisp's option is picked up, right?
Eric Seidman: Well, Crisp and Sweeney have value. Rajai Davis isn't worth keeping around, and Conor Jackson unfortunately embodies what has plagued the As offense lately in that the numbers are decent but underwhelming. Taylor and Carter should be given serious consideration and should play a lot in the Spring. I'd say goodbye to Davis, Hermida, Buck and Jackson, keep Crisp and Sweeney, and hope that Carter and Taylor can play well enough to merit starting duty.
Manprin (Sacramento, CA): Could you make an argument that the A's are purposefully trotting out a pathetic line-up to keep their record in check without really competing for a championship? Playing in a pitcher's park with a very good defense the A's can hover at .500 with invalids at the plate. With the ballpark drama playing out fielding a team that actually makes the playoffs would be a counter argument that they need a new balloak for revenue. Or am I drunk at the conspiracy wheel?
Eric Seidman: I doubt they are purposely doing trotting that lineup out there. I am just one of the few statistical analysts who will openly question what Billy Beane has been doing lately. Developing pitching and defensively-oriented players has been the As strong suit lately, but they have looked so inept offensively that I just cannot comprehend what they see in half of these players. You would think that after putting the Sweeneys, Davis'es, Buck's of the world out there so often that at least one would pan out, but none have. And going after players like Kouzmanoff and Conor Jackson to bolster a lineup is problematic as well. For some reason, everyone that is touted in their system form an offensive standpoint seems to fail at the major league level. It's gotta' be frustrating for As fans and I've never seen anything like it.
Angel Batista (Miami, Florida): Good morning hombre- I'm a big Marlins fan. What would you do in the offseason to put this team into the playoffs? I miss the glory days of 2003 and watching them play this year has been killer. I'm dying for another shot at a ring. Any thoughts to help appease my pain?
Eric Seidman: I'm bullish on the Marlins, Detective Batista. Anibal Sanchez has taken a big step forward. Clay Hensley and Leo Nunez have been great out of the bullpen. Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are great. They'll have a healthy Coghlan back. There is a lot to like. Starting Wes Helms more than once a year isn't really that wise, and it's time to give up on the Andrew Miller experiment, but there is no reason they couldn't go 87-75 next season and try to sneak into a playoff spot.
Bill (New Mexico): Got a snap post-mortem on what went so wrong with St. Louis in the last month? I understand small sample size regression to the mean, but why so many regressions all at once, and why were none of them for the better?
Eric Seidman: They are a stars and scrubs roster, and when the stars struggle even a little bit, it is very tough to compete. Pitching Jeff Suppan more than zero times hurt, and not playing Rasmus everyday made little sense. I can't get on La Russa for all of this either, as his roster is complete with players like Brendan Ryan, Skip Schumaker, Jon Jay, Felipe Lopez, etc. The Cardinals, like the Mariners this year, needed to have a lot go right for them to have a great season; while everything went wrong with the Mariners, the Cards had some go right, enough to keep them in contention, but not enough to push them into the playoffs.
ted (The Cubicle): ". For some reason, everyone that is touted in their system form an offensive standpoint seems to fail at the major league level"
I was about to say "Carlos Gonzalez says hello" until I looked at his road stats....
Eric Seidman: Perhaps I should have said, everyone touted in their system from an offensive standpoint, who they actually keep, seems to fail at the MLB level. Speaking of CarGo, look for a Seidnotes from me on Friday about his splits and H/R splits in general. Self-pimpage!
rdierkers (cincinnati): If Adam Dunn had played 1B for his entire career and played for, say the Phillies, would sportswriters have annointed him perrenial MVP and worth a mega contract versus lazy?
Eric Seidman: I don't think so. Dunn is one of my favorite players and he seems to have a good personality on the field, but he's a pretty boring guy. Ryan Howard is very colorful and is great with the media. I think if Dunn had been the Phillies 1B throughout this run, he would be viewed differently, but the same would be true of bigger media markets. I also think if he played 1B his whole career as opposed to going to the outfield and playing some of the worst defense ever, he wouldn't be viewed as a defensive joke and his stock would be higher.
Javier Vazquez (NY): (Scratches head and shruggs)... I don't know....
Eric Seidman: Me either, Javy, and it makes me sad. You're one of my favorite pitchers of all time and it pains me to see this happening. You've lost velocity and movement, aren't throwing your pitches for strikes as frequently, as Craig Brown pointed out this week, and as great as you pitched last year, you are currently a weak link in the Yankees pitching staff. I'm sure you'll rebound and have a great 2011 season but I have absolutely no answers right now, which drives me crazy.
garethbluejays2 (Newcastle,UK): Any sense to Toronto giving up one of highly regarded arms in a package to get an impact bat? (assuming they have enough other pieces to get it done.)
Eric Seidman: Yes, definitely. The Blue Jays have plenty of pitching. Pitching out the wazoo, in fact. The potential snag here is that the impact bats they seek might be deemed much more valuable than the arms they have, even if the gap between actual and perceived value is smaller than is believed. There is a lot to like moving forward. Bautista should be good for a few years. Yunel is a very good piece. Snider, Lind and Hill are good pieces for right now. What impact bat did you have in mind? I much prefer dealing with specifics than the abstract.
Rob in CT (email@example.com): The likely outcome for Dunn in Philly is something similar to Bobby Abreu, who, if memory serves, was blamed for the team's struggles even though he was one of their best players.
Unless, like Howard, he had a better supporting cast. Teams that are a player or two short of being real quality teams tend to end up blaming their best players for not being perfect.
Eric Seidman: This is a good call, Rob. Yes, Abreu was blamed for the struggles because he wasn't as hard-nosed of a player, even though he was fantastic. Abreu's Phillies teams consistently finished 1-3 games out of the playoffs, and that's how he was viewed -- good but not good enough.
Wendy (Chicago): As long as you're talking about Philly players & the media, what happened to Rolen when he was there? He seems like a great guy but it seemed that the Phillies & the Cardinals both couldn't wait to get rid of him. Is he too thoughtful and intelligent? Bowa was kind of a knuckle scraper so I understand that one, but isn't LaRussa intelligent?
Eric Seidman: Rolen's situation in Philly was similar to Schilling's -- he wanted to win and did not see the Phillies front office or ownership doing anything to indicate that winning seasons were around the corner. I mean, their rotations were headed by Robert Person and Omar Daal, and a right side of the infield of Travis Lee and Marlon Anderson doesn't strike fear into opponents. In actuality, Rolen's departure signaled a turning point for the Phillies, who went out and signed Thome and traded for Millwood, while coming close to signing Glavine in an attempt to take the next step.
Rob in CT (firstname.lastname@example.org): On Vazguez...
I've always said the that trade for Javy (the Nick Johnson+ deal) was a good idea that didn't work. I was therefore excited at Javy v2.0, based on the idea that surely this time things would even out. I didn't expect him to replicate 2009. I did, however, expect an ERA of roughly 4.
It's enough to make a man start to believe in fairy tales ("he just can't pitch in NY").
Eric Seidman: I'm right there with you, Rob. I don't know what is going on, but I do know that human beings are human beings. If Vazquez is led to believe he can't pitch in New York, and he can't figure out what is ailing him, maybe his psyche has been affected to the point that he believes it. Only time will tell. It is just very strange for a pitcher with such consistent peripherals and pitch data to look so flat out of nowhere.
garethbluejays2 (Newcastle, UK): I suppose Montero is out of the question?
Eric Seidman: Well the Jays have some solid catching prospects so I would question the need to send an arm or two for him, especially when D'Arnaud was a big key to the Halladay trade.
Eric Seidman: Had a blast today, folks, and look forward to chatting soon.