Sit down and kibitz with the Colonel, as Ben Lindbergh chats about Hot Stove action and more.
Ben Lindbergh: Good afternoon, good people of BP. Seeing as this is annual season, I was up until an extremely indecent hour, so questions such as "What do you see as the most likely destination for Ted Lilly?", "Would you care to speculate about the terms of Hiroki Kuroda's 2011 contract?", and "Do you see the Reds re-signing Ramon Hernandez?" would be most welcome (Get it? Because those questions have already been been answered!). Let's get rolling.
formersd (San Diego): Loving the Padres trade for Maybin. He's strikes me as a Mike Cameron type player, I'll take one of those for 2 middle relievers anytime.
Ben Lindbergh: Admit it--you're Marc Normandin. But yes, I agree. Amazing to see how far the stock of the two centerpieces of the Miguel Cabrera trade have fallen. But hey, there's always Burke Badenhop, right?
The Ineffable Chowder (Yellow Clubmarine): Any thoughts on the Beatles buying iTunes?
Ben Lindbergh: I'm all for anything that makes the Beatles more accessible to the masses. That said, I have trouble understanding the target market. I've already bought their entire output twice over on disc (you remember, those shiny round things)--is this release aimed at people who love the Beatles, but were too lazy to burn a CD all these years? If you've waited to download Beatles music from the internet until it was actually legally available online, you've made the RIAA one very happy music association. I'm probably over-simplifying the issue. Hey, even easier availability of Beatles music makes for a better world.
Cubfan (JamesonsMan): Nothing says get excited for next season like hiring a cheap manager and lowering the payroll! Had to switch from cheap beer to the hard stuff. 75 wins is the cubs ceiling next year, right? Or could you GM for a day and do better than that?
Ben Lindbergh: Not only could I, but I did! Quade seems like a good fit, so I wouldn't let his hiring get you down. And isn't fiscal responsibility just a teensy bit exciting, in its own humble way? I'll take the over on 75 wins. With a little creativity, I don't think contending would be entirely out of the question.
Marc Normandin (Dracut, MA): Hey now, that wasn't me with that Padre question. And Maybin could be Mike Cameron, but he could also be nothing. Which is less appealing.
It is two back-end relievers though--and two the Padres can replace with players they already have on hand--so you do that deal every time.
Ben Lindbergh: Rumor has it the Padres are pretty good at finding cheap, effective relievers. But what does this mean for the future of Thin Gwynn?
Miles Edgeworth (Cat's Corner): Do you consider The Beatles on iTunes as the puuuuurrrrfect Christmas gift?
Ben Lindbergh: Depends--does iTunes offer lossless downloads? I've managed to avoid the program entirely thus far. If not, I'd say an even better Christmas gift would be the remastered box set, ripped to one's digital audio player of choice in .FLAC format.
Will (Mactaquac): The cat from Pittsburgh whose name I refuse to learn on principle is just trying to make a name for himself, right? More a symptom of our failure to make people distinguish between fame and infamy than anything about baseball, right?
Ben Lindbergh: I wouldn't ascribe such base motives to Dejan Kovacevic, who seems to be quite good at the non-award-voting aspects of his job. I don't know if his much-maligned Rookie of the Year ballot was intended as a means of making a name for himself, so much as an attempt to make a name for a couple of young Pirates whom he watched succeed in relative obscurity all season. Either way, I appreciate his willingness to defend his selections, but doubt I'll ever be swayed to the Neil Walker/Jose Tabata line of thinking.
Cubfan (Jamesonsman): Sorry, I just wrote my check for my ticket package today, it's my annual lowpoint of being a cub fan. Fiscal responsibility is only exciting in the rare cases where my wife practices it. We're paying the highest ticket prices in baseball, I'd like to see that on the field consistently.
Ben Lindbergh: Hey now, don't you think Mrs. Cubfan deserves nice things once in a while?
Will (Mactaquac): Victor Martinez, Dan Uggla, Manny Ramirez, etc have all been linked to Toronto. What sort of delightful alternate reality have I slipped into unknowingly? Not since the days of Cone, Morris, Winfield, and Stewart have I been able to feel something other than dread or stark fear of the winter meetings as a Blue Jays fan. I could get used to this.
Ben Lindbergh: Exciting, isn't it? All of those guys would be in line for a power boost at Rogers Centre (who wouldn't, really), and if a couple of them end up there, the Jays would have some serious third-place buzz going, at the very least.
You know when you boil eggs for too long, lose track of time, and end up with milky egg white all over everything? That just happened to me. And yes, despite how this may sound, I'm actually talking about boiling eggs.
BillJ (New Mexico): Got any predictions for surprises coming out of the winter meetings? Or won't there be any?
Ben Lindbergh: Chances are there'll be some surprises, even if the meetings aren't as eventful as last year's. But if I could predict them weeks in advance, would they still qualify as surprises? Something to ponder on this Tuesday afternoon.
Alderson's Beer (Queens, NYC): Has the idea that Sandy will be bringing Monkeyball to the Mets been overstated?
Ben Lindbergh: Tim Marchman threw some cold water on Mets' fans hopes for their new front office in an article at SI recently, and maybe he was right to inject a more conservative viewpoint. That said, I don't see any reason why Alderson's hiring and subsequent call of "Sabermetric Front Office All-Stars, Assemble!" shouldn't give a fed-up fan base hope. Alderson may find it harder to identify and exploit inefficiencies than he did last time around, but while immediate brilliance may be a lot to ask, competence probably isn't.
Matt (Chicago): Which of the COL 2B surplus players would you try to poach if you were an opposing GM?
Ben Lindbergh: I suppose there's a surplus, but is it a surplus of good players? None of the names particularly excites me. Does Chris Iannetta count as a surplus 2B?
BillJ (New Mexico): Oh, come on, go out on a limb and predict SOME kind of surprise. We won't hold it against you if you're wrong. Really. Trust me.
For starters, will there be anything yet on the next Mets manager? (If it's Jose Oquendo, who all jumps ship from the Cardinals?)
Ben Lindbergh: I don't have any inside info on the Mets' managerial search, but I'd expect there to be some news by then, since teams prefer not to leave leadership questions unresolved into the heart of winter. Fine, you want a surprise? While holding court in the lobby of the Swan and Dolphin Resort, Scott Boras will demand less money for a client. You heard it here first.
Matt (Malone, NY): There's been talk of Jose Reyes getting traded. What's your take on Reyes and Beltran to Boston for Dice-K and Lowrie?
Ben Lindbergh: As far as I know, that talk was nothing more than talk, and not the first time it's cropped up in a speculative way with little basis for belief. As resident Red Sox Beacon blogger Marc Normandin observes, Matsuzaka might look good in Citi, but where would Beltran play in Boston?
Matt (Chicago): Who are the better values of the non- Konerko or Dunn corners of the FA 1B mkt?
Ben Lindbergh: There's a fair amount of depth there, which is why I've been comfortable recommending second-tier options in both of my GM for a Day articles to date. A bounce-back season from Carlos Pena would be worth buying in for, and plenty of teams could do worse than Russell Branyan. Some lucky buyer might yet get a healthy, resurgent season from Nick Johnson, but at this point, I'd no longer want to bet on it being mine.
Dennis (LA): Who do you see as a better fit for the Angels, Crawford or Beltre? Ideally, they could trade for a 3b (Reynolds? Uggla?) and sign Crawford, but if they can't, do you see 3b as a bigger hole than LF (I sure do)? Thanks!
Ben Lindbergh: I'm with you there--the Angels have more outfield options. Well, not necessarily "more," but "better," for sure. Unless Brandon Wood's .341/.385/.489 line in the AFL gets your juices flowing. He deserves another shot, right, Angels fans?
Steve (Clearwater, FL): Way to ignore that typo, Ben. I for one would love to see Sandy Alderson bring Monkeyball to the Mets. It would give the players something to do between at-bats.
Ben Lindbergh: I'm tired enough that I've lost the ability to discern typos from error-free prose. I'm fine with more monkeys, as long as we're not talking about the Rally Monkey. That needs to remain a localized phenomenon.
dianagramr (NYC): When are you going to be on the Up and In Podcast (cause we wanna know what you are drinking)
Ben Lindbergh: I was, briefly, during the playoff preview episode, though I wasn't drinking anything at the time. Yesterday I discovered an energy drink available at my office called "Code Blue." "Code Blue," of course, being the hospital code used to indicate a patient in immediate need of resuscitation, most often in cases of cardiac arrest. The idea being, I suppose, that the drink offers an immediate pick-me-up, but given the many unfortunate energy drink-related incidents I've seen on the news, I prefer to think of it as an instant heart attack in a can.
Charles (NYC): Is there a next "Rays", or is it the Rays?
Ben Lindbergh: The Reds aren't so different, in more than one way--they've had the defensive makeover, the superlative recent drafting record, the up-and-coming homegrown core, and, of late, at least, the fiscal responsibility. Genuine worst-to-first revivals like Tampa Bay's in 2008 don't come around very often, though, which has made some of the "next Rays" talk a little silly. Especially when your pick for "next Rays" is the Royals.
Will (Mactaquac): If you had to guess now, who do you think becomes the FA bargain of the offseason? My guess was Kuroda, but his deal was quick and relatively expensive. Dunn the other year was a great example of what I mean.....a good player sitting there at a bargain price for anyone to take later in the offseason.
Ben Lindbergh: I was with you on Kuroda. Maybe Magglio Ordonez, who hasn't seemed to generate a buzz commensurate with his offensive abilities. Javier Vazquez might make an NL team happy. The market for late-inning relievers is deep enough that someone like J.J. Putz or Grant Balfour could end up signing a below-market deal.
Liam (Whippleville, NY): You have $5 million to spend and you're Mets GM. Who do you get?
Ben Lindbergh: Jorge de la Rosa? Rid of Oliver Perez? $5 million would cover almost half of the sunk cost remaining on his deal. Hey, there must be some more former GMs on the market. Would $5 million be enough to entice Billy Beane to Queens? Might as well get the whole gang back there.
John (DC): Which team grossly over pays a free agent after missing out on Werth/Dunn/Crawford, and who is the luck fourth man?
Ben Lindbergh: Definitely Matt Stairs. Maybe Ordonez, though he could end up being a bargain.
Re: Beane, I meant to say "get the whole gang back TOGETHER," but I guess "there" was pretty close.
ferret (hawaii): Anything to the J Upton trade rumors? I think the Diamondbacks will move him to clear his contract ($38M+) in 2013-2015 and the "haul" will be less than anticipated. Similar situation to the Haren deal.
Ben Lindbergh: For the sake of Diamondbacks fans, let's hope it's not too similar to the Haren deal. Sounds like there's plenty of smoke, but not a lot of fire--more likely that this is just an example of teams doing their due diligence than a sign of impending transaction. I do think the haul would have to be quite hefty, prospect-wise.
Matt (Chicago): What type of value do you see a guy like Randy Wells- solid peripherals if unspectacular performance and the right price tag- having on the trade mkt?
Ben Lindbergh: Plenty, probably. Not that that 2009 ERA is still fooling anyone, most likely, but given that the free-agent market for starters falls off fairly precipitously after Cliff Lee, Wells might be worth dangling, and the Cubs do have their fair share of rotation depth.
Keith7971 (Naugatuck, CT): Not to knock Jorge de La Rosa, whose been an intriguing player over the last half decade, from his days hurling 96 mph fastballs god knows where with KC, to the more reformed product in COL; but am i the only one who thinks the Yankees might not need another enigmatic starter with tendencies related to wildness. We've seen the Burnett Jekyll and Hyde act far too often and unless this is either indicative of a Pettitte retirement, or a Lee negotiation tactic, im not sure if i get it. Would it not make more sense to take that broken RP/SP/Headcase and give him another shot?
Ben Lindbergh: You're certainly not the only one. In fact, I can name another who happens to write for this here website. who happens to write for this here website.
formersd (San Diego): I'm guessing Gwynn goes back to his correct role of 5th OF who provides a great glove and some speed off the bench. We are going to find out if the Padres reliever identification ability can go on without Towers and Depodesta (credited by some sources locally for Heath Bell). I suspect the park and focus on power pitchers will allow that to continue, but it's going to be a big deal going forward. Those cheap but great bullpens are going to be necessary under the Padres austerity.
Ben Lindbergh: The real question is, what happens to Marc Normandin in a world without regular doses of Thin Gwynn? Agreed, it should be interesting to see whether the Padres can sustain their reliever mill in the absence of Towers' bullpen whispering, though perhaps slightly less interesting than the answer to the question of how quickly Towers can repair a historically broken bullpen in Arizona.
Looks like I'm not much good at formatting links right now, but that above link to Jay's de la Rosa story does work, despite my unnecessary repetition.
Dennis (LA): Who do you like better in 2011, Benoit or Uehara? I'm thinking Uehara will be a relatively cheap and highly effective bullpen arm for an astute team next year.
Ben Lindbergh: On a purely performance basis, I'd probably take Benoit. In the $/win department, Uehara all the way.
Brian (Tinley): Ben -
If Konerko leaves the Sox, do see them going after A. Dunn or is a Viciedo/LaRoche platoon something worth looking into?
Ben Lindbergh: In my turn as White Sox GM for a Day, I cautiously advised letting Konerko walk and going with a platoon like the one you suggested. The Sox could really use a defensive upgrade, so if they do acquire Dunn, I'd prefer to see him retire his glove, for the most part.
Matt (Chicago): How does Brad Penny suit you and what do you think he fetches in this mkt?
Ben Lindbergh: He's not really my type, but in this market, Brad Penny fetches Karina Smirnoff, to judge by their recent engagement. And that was before he started getting into the best shape of his life.
Tim (Boston): Dom Brown for Justin Upton straight up. Who hangs up first?
Ben Lindbergh: Kevin Towers, unless Amaro quickly adds "and $50 million" and the D'backs are broke.
Matt (Chicago): Which of the COL 2B surplus players would you try to poach if you were an opposing GM?
Ben Lindbergh: I already addressed this one, but I'm sick of seeing it in the queue, and trying to pad my answered-question count. Congratulations, Matt. This question was so good, I answered it twice.
Randy K (Kansas): How would you rank these srikeout pitchers in terms of expected 2011 production?
J. Hellickson - rough division and less innings, but safest bet for low ERA.
G. Gonzalez - great home park with 180Ks nearly in the bank, but possibility to have some BABIP regression and ERA increase
B. Morrow - in contrast, is due for BABIP regression that would drastically lower the ERA but has never pitched more than 150 innings.
Ben Lindbergh: If you're asking about strikeout production, I'd go with Morrow, who led the majors (not just the DH league) in strikeout rate last season by over a full strikeout per nine innings. Actually, even if you're not referring solely to strikeouts, I'll still go with Morrow, followed closely by Hellickson and Gonzalez.
Lana Turner (Hollywood, CA): How would you evaluate Ned Colletti's performance over the years?
Ben Lindbergh: Lana, have I ever told you that I think you were quite the looker? Loved your, um, work, in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Colletti's work has been extremely uneven, tending toward the negative side. He coasted by on Paul DePodesta's legacy for a while, and has some strange ideas about the value of young, cost-controlled players, Outfielders Who Must Not Be Named, and the advisability of relating to players through the press. Not that Andy LaRoche has made him look bad in recent years. Ask Jay Jaffe in a chat sometime if you're looking for an earful.
Ben Lindbergh: Your questions have slowed to a trickle, and much like David Buckner on Glenn Beck, I'm passing out. Apologies for the shorter-than-usual chat, but I'll make up for it next time (and in BP2011, which you know, you should preorder). As I did once already a few hours ago, I wish you all a good afternoon.