Tell the man to play that Funck-y music, because BP's own Ken Funck is ready to chat.
Ken Funck: Happy Non-Tender Thursday! (Is that an appropriate term now that the McRib is back?) I'm here to answer your questions and engage in good-natured baseball frippery, so considered your questions and opinions solicited.
mwball75 (Cincy, OH): Paul Janish at short is fine with me defensively, but offensively I hope they can do better. Do you think Jockety will stick with him or go in another direction. What would you do? It seems like their biggest weakness, and a big opportunity to improve, would you agree?
Ken Funck: Not sure what Jocketty will do, but if it were me I'd look for an upgrade over Janish. If the Twins non-tender Hardy I'd look there first, since his glove is still top-notch and I still believe he can produce more at the plate than he has the last two seasons. On the other hand, the Reds need some on-base at the top of the order (whether Dusty knows that or not). Maybe I could pry Scutaro loose from the Red Sox, since he at least gives the possibility of a reasonable on-base percentage and you don't take too big a hit in the field.
Matt (Chicago): Do you see Berkman as a nice fit in Wrigley?
Ken Funck: Yeah, I like that a lot, if the price isn't outrageous. He can still hit right-handers well enough, though he probably should sit against lefties. The rest of the infielders will need to remember that D-Lee isn't there to save their throws anymore, but I'm one of those that thinks Berkman still have a few good years with the stick left in him. The things I've read about him playing the outfield, though -- that seems a little far-fetched.
Kevin (Elk River): So, Zack Greinke isn't an ace? You wouldn't trade Scott Baker for him straight up? Seriously?
Ken Funck: Well, I think what I said was that Greinke didn't pitch like an ace last year, and I'm probably less excited about his future than many others are, and at the same time more of a believer in Baker than most. But obviously, Greinke is more likely to be great going forward. Not that it really matters, since the Royals apparently have said they won't trade Greinke within the division. As Matt Swartz has pointed out, that's a decision which doesn't really make sense – if the trade makes you stronger in the long run, and your opponent stronger in the short run but probably weaker in the long run, it's not only acceptable to trade within the division, it might even be preferable.
Matt (Chicago): What type of ceiling do you see for Starlin Castro?
Ken Funck: In a few years he'll be able to afford whatever type of ceiling he wants – tin, mahogany, mother-of-pearl, his choice. He's not going to develop Hanley-esque power, won't steal plenty of bases, and isn't a superlative shortstop. However, the kid can flat-out hit, and should maintain enough of an average to keep his OBP acceptable. In this day and age, when Cesar Izturis still has a job and Ryan Theriot is viewed as a SS upgrade by a contender, he's got a well-rounded skill-set that will soon be worth millions. Peak of Edgar Renteria, maybe?
TC (Camden): In honor of KG's non-award-winning Podcast, what are you drinking?
Ken Funck: Not the Chicago Bears kool-aid, not that you asked. Water, actually -- wanted to get some chai, but ran out of time.
Matt (Chicago): If you're Theo, do you re-sign Beltre or wait and go all in on AGON when he becomes available either by trade or through FA?
Ken Funck: I'd re-up Beltre. There's the fear that he won't produce at the plate if it's not his contract year, but his glove will always be there, and that's a pretty special hunk of leather. He's worth the risk.
lemppi (Ankeny, IA): If you were the Tigers' GM, would you now add starting pitching depth and a cheaper bat for RF.....or would you shoot high for someone like Werth and trust you have enough starting pitching on hand? (or do something else...) Thanks.
Ken Funck: I wouldn't spend money on free agent pitching – I almost always hate the idea of doing that if it's not completely necessary, or you're not signing a long-term star. Dombrowski already has two aces in Verlander and Scherzer, a supposed ace-to-be in Porcello (though I'm not yet drinking that kool-aid, either), Coke, Galarraga, maybe Oliver, and soon enough Jacob Turner will be on hand. I'd rather improve the outfield – Crawford would be great, Werth would be fine, though since V-Mart hasn't hit righties all that well lately, I'd rather see them get another lefty bat. Bringing Ordonez back is a reasonable idea, too, letting him DH when V-Mart is catching and spot in an outfield corner.
adambennett (Sauk County): Great Dane or Ale Asylum?
Ken Funck: Great question, and an easy one for me, since Ale Asylum not only brews some wicked stuff, but sponsors my volleyball team. Nothing against the Dane, though, and I'm excited to see that they're going to be opening up a place on the far east side closer to my digs. We're pretty spoiled here in Mad-Town, since excellent beer pretty much just floats around in the lakes, ready to be scooped up.
Keith7971 (Naugatuck): G'day, i might be reading too into it, but i think one particular reason that leaves the Victor Martinez signing as a mistake for the Tigers is the opportunity cost. Its common knowledge at this point that few beleive Martinez will be catching with any kind of effectiveness or useful regularity during the final two years of the deal. To avoid rehashing that, i thought it was underlooked that if the Tigers sought to get a useful 1B/DH bat(playing whichever pos Miggy isnt), they would have trouble finding anyone with upside, considering potential F/A would be wary of playing time lost to Martinez as he spends less time as a regular catcher. Time is opportunity and opportunity is money, and if nothing else, players understand that; so have the Tigers cost themselves both with this move?
Ken Funck: That's a good point. I think maybe the Tigers are being too cute by half with V-Mart. He's tremendously valuable if he catches every day, but I think Avila can be okay there for pennies on the dollar. I guess Dombrowski thinks he's killing two birds with one stone by using him as a DH and a part-time catcher, but the problem is, he isn't really much of a power lefty bat, at least in terms of a DH. I'd rather have Dunn myself, if you can convince him to spend the defensive half of innings spitting sunflower seeds rather than butchering ground balls. But as you say, now that you've committed to V-Mart at DH, you're really limiting your options. Not a terrible decision, but one I think doesn't help as much as they might think.
JT (MKE): How would you like Greinke with the brewers? Could you see a Fielder for Greinke trade, basically giving the Royals 2 draft picks?
Ken Funck: If I'm Doug Melvin, I'd trade Fielder for Greinke in a heartbeat -- but it's hard to picture the Royals doing that. They want big-league-ready players in return, not draft picks. Melvin's in a tough spot with Fielder, in that he probably won't get the sort of overwhelming offer for him that he may have gotten last off-season, and the two draft picks he'll get may wind up being worth more than any offers he gets now.
dianagramr (NYC): Shulman, Hershiser, Valentine on ESPN Sunday Night baseball .... infinitely more watchable than Miller/Morgan, but would still love to see Steve Stone get a(nother) chance. Opinions?
Ken Funck: Hi Diana! I think my Steve Stone man-crush is pretty well-known, so of course I'd like to see him get away from sharing a booth with Hawk. Believe it or not, I didn't mind Miller and Morgan as much as most folks seemed to -- Joe is what he is, and anyone that inspires a web-site as entertaining as Fire Joe Morgan was can't be half bad. But, that said, it's a definite upgrade.
frank (vegas): Ken,
so, Bucs may be considering Bartlett or Hardy for SS? Is there really any significant upgrade over Cedeno, or is this just window dressing?
Ken Funck: Cedeno is the kind of player that drives me nuts, in that you can see he can hit, but he'll never have an approach worthy of his obvious talent. I'm already on record as a Hardy boy, and Bartlett too is an upgrade. The Pirates at some point have to start winning games, so if the price isn't high, why not?
joe lefko (NJ): C'mon, their win over the Eagles completely legitimizes Chicago's season.
Ken Funck: Sure, sure. Here's the thing with the Bears (back to baseball in a minute). The way they play, with the bend-but-don't-break defense, bets that the opposing team is going to make a mistake before they can drive 80 yards. This is a strategy that works against mediocre teams -- and the NFC is more full than Mr. Creosote with mediocre teams this year, two of whom (Seattle and Washington) actually beat the Bears. Put them up against a very good team, though, and I see them falling behind, and then Cutler becoming a three-for-a-quarter interception vending mechine trying to come back. They may make the playoffs, but that's probably not going to end well.
frank (vegas): if the Pirates only go and get (say) Webb and Duescherer to potentially fill out some gaps in the rotation,is this a sound strategy given their current status? And will tehy be able to stand the resultant wrath of the fans?
Ken Funck: If I were a Pirates fan, personally I'd rather see them buy a lottery ticket like Webb and Duchscherer right now than overspend for league-average pitching. Small-market teams -- check that, almost all-market teams -- need to develop young, relatively inexpensive pitching themselves to remain competitive, or trade their young, inexpensive hitting talent for it. Signing someone like Hardy will be cheaper than signing, oh, I dunno, Carl Pavano. Maybe I just have an allergy to non-elite free agent starters. If anyone knows a cure, I'm all ears.
sweet lou (Pitt): Can Hurdle actually make an impact on the young Bucs? How many wins could rationally be allocated for just a change in mgr?
Ken Funck: This is a tough one to answer. Of the major sports, I've always thought baseball managers have the least impact on wins and losses -- but it's definitely non-zero, of course. The "leader of men" thing is probably more important than the "tactical genius" thing, anyway. Hurdle might do well with a young team, but on the other hand, he's prone to overmanaging. I guess that's the long-way-round to saying "I don't know." If he were Earl Weaver, or some other great manager, maybe he's worth, oh, five wins?
Charlie (Bethesda, MD): I am worried about the Nats keying in on Pena. Not only hasn't he really hit much in over a year, he's 33, and he hasn't fielded well in a couple years either. Isn't it likely that he's just done?
Ken Funck: You're probably right, although we were all wrong about him before, weren't we? His is a career that's been really hard to predict. Don't know what to say about his defense, since I haven't watched him play much lately and defensive metrics are so slippery that even their owners have become a little defensive, but if his glove has truly slipped you've lost a lot of what made him valuable.
frank (vegas): most interesting FA SP still out there for someone like Pitt, Nats, etc?
Ken Funck: A couple questions out there like this, and I have to apologize and say I don't really have a great answer. My default answer was Jason Frasor, but he accepted arbitration. I like Koji Uehara, and Jenks (if he's non-tendered -- haven't heard much about that lately, so Sox fans in the know feel free to inform me) is probably a good bet.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): For a year where there weren't any SS to be had, it sure appears like there are a lot of SS to be had. Bartlett, Hardy, Drew, Alexei Ramirez, Jeter!, OCab, then on through to Ian Desmond, Nishioka, Brendan Ryan, Ryan Theriot, and down to Punto, Tejada, Augie Ojada and anyone else. Was it a bad year for SS, or just for decent ones?
Ken Funck: Some of those names said to be available I just don't quite get -- not that you're wrong in naming them. Why wouldn't a team want to keep guys like Drew or Ramirez, given how rare any offensive production from a shortstop has become? There's a lot of guys out there, but not too many I like.
Going from Ryan to Theriot mystifies me, BTW, because Ryan's glove is a godsend behind all those groundball pitchers in Busch, and it's not like Theriot is Arky Vaughan or something. I can see trying to upgrade on offense, but I'm not convincd the possible improvement at the plate is worth the defensive hit.
Keith7971 (Naugatuck): Clutch FJM reference, i must say, these few years without FJM rival what lions fans mustve felt when barry sanders stopped playing.
Ken Funck: Sorry to let football back in for a second, but talking about sanders and FJM makes me want to say this: has there ever been a worse group for a national than the NFL Network guys? Matt Millen ranks somewhere between Rob and Fab on the credibility scale.
Michael (St. Louis): Theriot-->2B
Only way the acquisition makes sense, right? Of course the Cards front office isn't known for thinking straight of late...
Ken Funck: That makes a lot more sense for me, though that's not what Mozeliak said Theriot was for. And I'm not sure Theriot is that much better than Descalso right now to be worth the extra money anyway. Schumaker is a nice bench guy, though, and I don't blame TLR for the experiment. I will blame him, however, if he CONTINUES the experiment.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): Kenny Williams is always a fun guy to watch in the winter as he dazzles and surprises with blockbusters and head scratchers. Any guesses what he pulls from his touque this off season?
Ken Funck: If I knew that, I'd be an unhappy man, since I like the surprise. I'm not sayin' Kenny is the best GM out there (though he's definitely a good one). I'm just sayin' he's the most fun. Anyone that wants to posit a guess as to what he's got planned, fire away.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): So how long does Collins last in New York before he's in front of the team with his shirt off and the gauntlet down? Is there any way this doesn't end badly?
Ken Funck: Sure, it's possible it doesn't end badly. It's also possible the Mets will hire me to head their player development effort.
cdm, no worries, I got the message. Feel free to re-submit the question.
RMR (Chicago): Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, Mike Leake, Matt Maloney, Sam LeCure, Aroldis Chapman. That's 9 guys for 5 rotation spots in Cincinnati. How can Jocketty best capitalize on that depth?
Ken Funck: A few of the brighter bulbs 'round these parts (where there isn't much call for cheddar, by the way)have made a few suggestions. IIRC, SG recommended they trade Volquez, while CK opted for shipping out Maloney, I think. Me, I'd find out what sort of a market there is for Mike Leake -- maybe he's already at his peak trade value. It's really, really hard to predict trades that actually get made, because you almost always look like you're way over- or under-valuing someone in retrospect. That being said, sitting on all that pitching is like sitting on a pot of gold, and Jocketty is sure to be a very popular man next week.
JT (MKE): What would your strategy be if you were Doug Melvin, keep Fielder and Weeks, get Grienke for Gamel/Lawrie/Cain (if that is enough), and go for broke this year? Then next year hope that Rogers and Jeffress are ready and you don't need as much offense with a rotation of Grienke/Gallardo/Wolf/Rogers/Jeffress?
Ken Funck: I can see valid arguments every which way. If I could actually get Greinke for Gamel/Lawrie/Cain, I'd do it -- each one of them has questions about them, and since Brewers aren't about to graduate starters to the bigs, trading for it is the best option. I see Jeffress in the bullpen, actually, and as great as it was to see Rogers pitch in the bigs this year he's still an injury risk and walks too many guys. Maybe 2011 for him, but maybe never, and I don't bet my future on it. Guys like Odorizzi and Scarpetta aren't exactly right around the corner, either.
Even if you can't make that trade, if you don't get good offers for Fielder or Weeks, keep 'em, sign another free agent starter (yeccchhh), and take another shot. Escobar has to be better next year, right? And Cain has to be better than CarGoLight.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): Any good ideas on where the Twins could pick up a right handed bat? Right now it looks like Cuddyer, Young and Valencia will be about it and they haven't shown enough to cover for the other guys in the face of good left handed pitching. I'm thinking they could add a DH in the Thome slot if you can muster up a good platoon mate for Kubel.
Ken Funck: My first thought when I was prepping for the Twins GM For A Day piece was that Konerko would be a great fit -- play 1b if Morneau is still out, DH some, and let Gardy thumb his nose at Ozzie over another ex-White-Sock thriving in MSP. But that's not going to happen -- too expensive in both blood and treasure. Marcus Thames?
Matt (Chicago): Ken, I agree with you about middling, FA SPs. For example, why is Hendry looking at mid-level starters when he has guys like Wells or Gorz, who are at least as good and much cheaper?
Ken Funck: Agree -- although with the caveat that a one-year deal for a guy is fine. It's the 3-year, $10+M-per deals for average starters that wind up killing you. In Hendry's defense, though, he did pick the macaroon out of the cookie jar when he signed Ted Lilly, so maybe that's something he's good at.
Randy Wells (MLB Roster Near You): Just to be clear, I suck, right?
Ken Funck: Oh, I dunno. The number of better pitchers than you is a statistical insignificance when you consider the world's population. Even more so, you're a perfectly servicable fourth/fifth starter, espeically considering your salary, and your K-rate is trending in the right direction. Just try to get to bed a little earlier, and you'll be fine.
Casey Close (New York): Things are going swell now that I've shifted Cashman, and we're settling in right where we wanted to be all along. Derek is a little chapped at the media coverage, but I keep telling him to wait for the final number. $120m here we come!
Ken Funck: I was an English major, but I have to admit, CC, I'm baffled by your use of the word "baffled". Call me a hater, but I think the Yankees initial offer was already over-generous, at least in terms of contract length.
Andy (Chicago): The Ryan to Theriot move would mystify me too, but it's clear to any Cardinals fan that the Cardinals are now the LaRussa show, and what he wants he gets, and what he wants gone, gets sent away. ugh.
Ken Funck: Another interesting case this year will be their backup catcher, since Mozeliak is on record as saying he's looking for more offense there. If Bryan Anderson not only sticks but lets Yadi get a little much-needed rest, I'll say TLR is willing to listen. I'm hoping the ending of his career is more memorable for his brilliance than his stubbornness. We'll soon see.
kenneth biehl (mesa AZ): Given skipper Kurt Gibson's willingness to hand Juan Gutierrez the ball in save situations as interim manager last year, what role do you think Gutierrez will have in 2010 and how many save opportunities do you anticipate?
Ken Funck: Sorry if this seems like dodging (as opposed to dodgering, which would involve me tying up your question in an endless, paralyzing, though occasionally entertaining lawsuit), but your guess is as good as mine -- probably better than mine, in fact. Even though I wrote the Arizona GM For A Day, I couldn't bring myself stare too closely at the mangled remains of the D'backs bullpen. The one thing I do know, though, is that Kevin Towers has a great reputation for building bullpens on the cheap. So there's that.
Keith7971 (Naugatuck): Millen, even if he were to amass this unparalleled insight and intellect on these broadcasts,would still be a joke. His abject failures, and the amusing fondness of the Millen man marches just dissmiss him completely as an analyst; well unless it were explaining the majic he used to actually heep employed as long as he did. That telecast is like the first few moments of an old MadTV sketch, except more effective in its unintentional amusement.
Ken Funck: The problem being that I don't tune into an NFL broadcast for light comedy, any more than I watch Trailer Park Boys for gripping urban drama. NFL Network just pales in comparison to the MLB Network in just about every way imaginable.
WilliamWilde (Boston): How amazing is it that after getting overpaid by the Yanks Carl Pavano is about to reel in another multi-year free agent deal that will look bad from the outset?
Ken Funck: Though to his credit, he did the work to earn it. But that's the problem with free agency anyway, at least from management's perspective -- you usually wind up paying for what the guy's already done, not what he's about to do. (Cue Casey Close quote). I'd love to sign Carl Pavano for a year; I'd hate to sign him for three.
dianagramr (NYC): Who does the Veteran's Committee let into the Hall first ... Marvin Miller or George Steinbrenner?
Ken Funck: Probably The Boss, though Miller is definitely more deserving due to his incredible impact on the game. Why is Carl Pavano about to become overpaid yet again? Marvin Miller and his almost pathological understanding of how markets work.
Mike Quade (Sacrificial Lamb): I'm out the door with hendry in 2 years, right? I mean the roster gives very little chance to compete, eventually the fans are going to stop paying file mignon prices for ground chuck, and paying the debt service on 865 million to buy the team leaves less revenue for payroll going forward. This is going to get uglier before it gets better, right?
Ken Funck: Hard to say, actually. Wrigley's status as "destination" certainly gives the team a lot of leeway, since there's definitely a floor below which attendance is unlikely to drop. The farm system may be able to help out soon, with Castro and Cashner already up and guys like Archer, Carpenter, Jackson, Guyer, and Lee in the pipeline. I was happy with the Quade hire, since he deserved it, and I understand why fans are frustrated with Hendry's "write check, ask questions later" approach, but it might still work out. If in two years the future both on the field and in the ledgers is considerably brighter -- and that's certainly possible -- they may both stick around a while.
WilliamWilde (Boston): What do you see Desmond Jennings triple slashing in 2011? Is he more Carl Crawford or Darren Lewis?
Ken Funck: More Crawford than Lewis in the long run, but he's not Crawford. Jennings is 24 already, right? By that age, Crawford was already a 4-win player. I'll say .280/.350/.390, if I have to give an answer.
JayT (San Francsico): THat's funny...Lilly was the only guy I could think of when you asked for examples of middling FA starters doing well on their contracts.
Who do you think is a better fit for the Cubs, Carlos Pena, or Berkman? Or should they go big for Dunn? I would prefer a one year deal myself with all the first base talent becoming available next year.
Ken Funck: If Hendry expects to be a player in the Pujols/Fielder/Gonzalez market, by all means sign a one-year stopgap. If not, I'm a big Dunn fan (not to be confused with a big dumb fan, though I'm that, too). He's exactly what the Cubs haven't had since forever, and if you leave him at first base he only hurts you so much. I prefer Berkman to Pena myself, though I'm willing to entertain counter-arguments.
Razzies (in Baseball): Is the move of Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen the worst roster move any team made last year? If the Giants had missed by a game, maybe keeping Posey in AAA? What other candidates can you think of?
Ken Funck: The first one that comes to mind for me is the Cardinals trading for Pedro Feliz. It didn't cost them much, but really, why bother? They would have been better off calling up Matt Carpenter -- that would at least have had some chance of helping the team.
Cris E (St Paul, MN): So match up MIL and CIN: pitching for a LF? A younger 3b or C?
Ken Funck: Interesting. I wonder what the Reds would give up for Corey Hart? Hart might actually be able to earn his contract playing in the GAB, since the concern is that his home run power suddenly morphs back into flyball outs. Would they trade one of their better starters for that? Maybe. But like I say, I'm really bad at this game.
Keith7971 (Naugatuck): I must say, the MLB Network is improving fast, it was refreshing to see the fellow co-hosts deride Harold Reynolds for choosing CC as Cy Young for, "knowing how to win", suggesting that King Felix couldve done more to get more W's. I still pine for a Baseball Prospectus program of some wort, whether it be weekly segments or larger, itd be a great, comprehensive way to approach baseball from all levels of knowledge
Ken Funck: Of course I'd love to hear more stathead-slanted analysis over there, but I think they do a great job anyway. One example I have of the sort of thing I take as "progress" is when Reynolds was interviewing Andre Dawson after his induction. One of the first things Reynolds said, IIRC, was something like "of course, some people look at your low on-base percentage and say that's a big negative, but your job was to drive in runs, not get on base, right?" Which, of course, begs the question of how so many outfielders in The Hall managed to both get on base AND drive in runs, but that's not the point. The point is, Reynolds felt it necessary to at least address the issue. That's progress, right?
BTW, that's not to pick on Reynolds, who I enjoy despite some of the things he says, and Dawson, who I think belongs despite the low OBP.
Charlie (Bethesda): Will Ian Desmond mature into a decent hitting SS with a solid glove to complement his range?
Ken Funck: I actually wrote his comment in last year's annual, so let's see what Ken had to say last winter:
"If Desmond sticks he should provide double digits in homers and steals as well as adequate glove work. Last year's offensive breakout was a bit of a mirage produced by a BABIP north of .400, and his non-descript walk rate precludes any chance he'll become a valuable table-setter, but a broad-based tool set gives him a good chance to become more than just standard middle-infield filler."
I have to say, a year later, I still agree with me. I guess that means I'm saying "yes".
singledigit (San Diego): A half decade from today, who's had the better 5 seasons? Zach Greinke, or Rick Porcello?
Ken Funck: This is the sort of question that might very well come back to haunt someone, especially given the possibility of injury. Right now, though, I'd say Greinke, and it's not particularly close. I'm really worried about Porcello's inability to miss bats, and while the groundballs are nice, he needs to strike more guys out to be much more than a third starter. He struck out more after his stint in the minors last year, but not enough to allay my concerns unless it was the first step of a major trend.
goldgarf (Denver): What is your take on the Tulo signing? As a Rox fan, my heart says "great," but my head says, "maybe not." We;ve been down this road before in Denver with Helton and Hampton, and it doesn't end well.
Ken Funck: My first though was Helton as well. My second thought was, if I was a Rockies fan I'd be thrilled anyway. Tulo is a fantastic player in every facet of the game. Sure, this might very come back to bite them in a big way if he gets hurt, and the question "why now?" is a very valid one. Nonetheless, you can't win a bet if you don't put your money in the middle. Given the scarcity of shortstop talent, I don't really want to say it's a bad move. A premature move, sure, but not necessarily a bad one.
Matt (Chicago): Can you see Cincy putting together a package of some of their young talent for Grienke? He make a nice addition as a lockdown starter to that talented young team.
Ken Funck: You mean trading pitching quantity for pitching quality? Maybe, though the Royals are awash in pitching prospects. Not a bad fit, though.
Matt (Chicago): Do you see any remaining upside for Blake DeWitt or is he just a very marginal starter at 2B?
Ken Funck: The latter, I guess. The fact he's left-handed helps, but he's a placeholder until the Cubs sign somebody else, or Castro moves to second when Hak-Ju Lee is ready.
singledigit (San Diego): I can buy that response about Porcello/Greinke. I don't like it, but ya know how fans are. Same question but insert Max Scherzer? Who'll have the better next 5 seasons(as you say, sans injury.)
Ken Funck: I'd put my money on Scherzer, whose second half was fantastic and a sign of things to come. Verlander/Scherzer/Turner/Porcello/Oliver could be scary good, especially if I'm wrong about Porcello. I can understand others picking Greinke, though, given the longer track record.
Ken Funck (Pinch Hitting): Tossing this question out there for me to answer, since due to technical difficulties I don't want to even start explaining I can't just click on it and answer it:
Suppose the Tigers re-sign Ordonez. Basically they bring back the same team as last year with an offensive upgrade at catcher for 1/3 of the season. Sure, some of the young guys will improve, but Ordonez, Inge, and Miggy will all probably regress some. How do they beat the Twins? Also, where does Guillen play for the 30 seconds that he's healthy next season?
Ken Funck: They're also upgrading at DH (V-Mart over Damon), Peralta is better with the stick and probably a little better overall than what they ran out at shortstop much of last year (depending on his defense, of course), and they can't be worse at second base. Also, Scherzer and Porcello should be better overall than they were last year, Coke has to be an improvement on Bonderman, Benoit makes the Pen better ... and there still may be another free agent shoe to drop. I think the Twins are plenty impressed with the team Detroit can field.
As for Guillen, they're saying second base. Color me skeptical about his ability to stay healthy there.
Matt (Chicago): Given the Cubs' situation, I've been a strong advocate of moving Marmol. He is cost-controlled for two more years and will be rather expensive by the time the Cubs are seriously competitive again. Am I crazy?
Ken Funck: No, you're not crazy, though it obviously depends on what you can get for him. It's not unlike what Christina was advocating when she wrote about trading Marlon Byrd, which is not unlike what the Tigers did in trading Granderson and Jackson. EVERYONE on the roster should be available for the right price -- the key being "the right price" -- and cost-controlled young veterans should get you a reasonable return.
ncassino (NJ): Doesn't Cincy match up really well with Arizona in a possible Upton trade? Cincy has extra starting pitching, a good 1b prospect could even move a decent young OF back in the deal. Wouldn't something like Volquez/Maloney/Leake + Alonso + Heisey + decent prospect (Cozart, Francisco, Frazier, Valaika) for Upton make sense for both teams? How about a Cincy OF of Upton, Stubbs and Bruce? That would be pretty special defensively.
Ken Funck: There's a school of thought that says the team which gets the best player wins the trade, regardless of who else moves. I don't necessarily subscribe to that, but any trade involving Upton has a greater chance of being something you're ridiculed for five years later than most any player I can think of. That's a reasaonble package for him, though, depending on what you think of Volquez's health. It would take a lot of cojones to trade Upton -- which is why the guys that make those decisions get paid a lot more than I do.
Ken Funck: Folks, I have to run. Thanks for all the terrific questions, especially all the theoretical trades that make my brain hurt but are tremendously fun to talk about -- it's that time of year, after all -- and sorry about those I didn't get to. And as usual, thanks for your continuing support of Baseball Prospectus.