Baseball Prospectus continues its new industry chat series as readers get a chance to interact with Cory Schwartz of MLB.com! Cory is the Director of Stats for MLBAM, overseeing year-round live stats for all Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, and winter league games, and runs the pioneering Pitch-f/x system, which provides real-time data on pitch speed, trajectory, location and type. He is also a co-host of the Fantasy 411 show, which airs daily on the MLB Network, and has been competing in fantasy baseball since 1989, including the high-stakes National Fantasy Baseball Championship and the industry experts competition Tout Wars.
Cory Schwartz: Hey folks, thanks to the BPro guys for inviting me. I figure I can stick around 'til about 4pm ET or whenever the good questions run out, whichever comes first. Fantasy baseball, Pitch-f/x, stats, whatever you like... so let's get started.
rodmalloy (San Francisco): With the uncertainties in the Rays bullpen, who is your darkhorse candidate to get the majority of save opportunities this year? JP Howell or Jake McGee?
Cory Schwartz: Neither. My money is on Joel Peralta, who became a dominant pitcher last season after adding a split-finger fastball to his repertoire, which enabled him to handle lefties much better than he had in the past. It's probably a three-way race between him, Farnsworth and McGee right now, but the Rays are a progressive organization and I think the right environment for him to win the job.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): In a NFBC 15 Team (Mixed) format how would you approach the limited SS position?
Cory Schwartz: Obviously getting Hanley or Tulo in the early going would be ideal, but I'm leery of the Reyes/Jeter/Rollins group this year for various reasons... too much uncertainty with all three. I'd rather wait a few more rounds and try for a Stephen Drew or Alexei Ramirez, or go a little deeper for Ian Desmond.
Mr. Chauvinist (toronto): Statistically speaking, is it true that Canadian born MLBers perform the best of any nationality, including Americans, Dominicans, etc.?
Cory Schwartz: Larry Walker would agree.
frank (Vegas): Hey Cory,
As a Bucs fan, should I be happy with a 70-win season (while watching the young core grow), or just bang my head against wall (otherwise known as moan/groan about a cheap Owner, bad trades, etc)?
Cory Schwartz: Offensively this could become a very good group very quickly, with a core of McCutchen, Alvarez, Tabata and Walker. Pitching wise they are much further behind though, although McDonald, Hanrahan and Meek are 3/11ths of a good pitching staff. They could lose a lot of 8-6 games this year.
deepblue64 (Scotland): How do you see Jason Heyward's season going? Is he a Top 72 player i.e. worth a 6th round pick or better?
Cory Schwartz: He clearly has the skills to make that worthwhile, but that might be a little on the high side for my tastes until we see it. My current rankings that I'm using to prep for my drafts are still overvaluing SP's (hey, I'm still working on it) but even with that fixed top 70 is a little marginal in my opinion.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): I am high on Will Venable as my 5th OF in mixed leagues. What do you think of him?
Cory Schwartz: I'm a fan. The tough home ballpark masks that he has decent power, but he'll have a green light again this year, especially if he leads off regularly, and should top 30 SB's with 15 or so homers. That's good stuff even if he only hits in the .250's.
E5 (Toronto): Why do you love me more than my own mother this season?
Cory Schwartz: Age 28 season with consistent and proven power; a track record of drawing walks, hitting for average and even stealing a few bases at times; great home ballpark and offensive environment; moving to 1B/DH should remove some defensive pressure. Once you get healthy for 150+ games you're going to make me look like a genius for touting you all these years!
Tom Hanrahan (Lexington Park MD): Crystal ball: It is 2020. Describe briefly state of whatever "f/x systems" will be in use. What data will be out there? Available to a) MLB teams and b) public (free, via SBAR, via pay-to-use, other)
Cory Schwartz: We've come a long way since the initial Pitch-f/x rollout in 2006, so I assume that by 2020 we'll have Hit-f/x and Field-f/x installed in all ballparks and generating data for all games. Clubs will be using the data to help drive their decision-making (as many are now), broadcasters will be regularly incorporating data and graphics into their game coverage, and fans will speak the language of "f/x" metrics as routinely as they do now with batting average and ERA. It'll be a lot of work to get there, but you're given me nine years so I like our chances!
Matt (Chicago): Do you see the Cubs offense struggling, due to lack of OBP skills?
Cory Schwartz: They should be average to somewhat above. This assumes that Soto and Aramis stay healthy, that Pena isn't a sinkhole due his awful averages (since he will help the OBP with his walks), and that Fukudome gets regular at-bats near the top of the lineup. Gotta admit though, Marlon Byrd in the #3 spot is not an encouraging sign.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): Brent Morel or Mark Teahan? Also who do you think ends up as fourth OF for White Sox? I am thinking Lastings Milledge might be a choice.
Cory Schwartz: Teahen will likely share time between 3B, RF (whenever Quentin is hurt) and DH, but he's a pretty ordinary player, so Morel should get a fair shot to win the 3B job outright. As far as Milledge goes, I've been a big fan for a long time, and I'm not convinced he can't do a reasonable Alex Rios impression one of these days, at least offensively. I mean that as a compliment... in other words, he'd be an excellent fourth OF.
Matt (Chicago): Is 2011 a breakout season for Starlin C?
Cory Schwartz: Define breakout? He showed a pretty good range of offensive skills last year, but unless he develops a lot more power and/or goes wild on the bases, it's hard to see him as an elite offensive player (at least from a fantasy standpoint). Of course, he's not even 21 yet, so let's give him some time.
Matt (philly): I have these prospects in my 12 team 40 player dynasty league...Do I have to wait long for these guys? What is the progression on Martin Perez, A Hechavarria and W Flores? Thanks
Cory Schwartz: I'm punting this one to Kevin Goldstein, this is his area of expertise, not mine!
Will (Kentucky): Hey Corey,
Which pitching and hitting players do you find to be the breakout player that no one has heard of?
Cory Schwartz: I'm pushing in my chips with Joel Peralta this year. On the hitting side, I could see Roger Bernadina surprising some people this year.
tribe24 (Cbus): Regular 5x5, but added hitter doubles, triples, and strikeouts (so 8x5). I need to keep 2 out of 4 of Mauer, ARod, Prince Fielder, and Lincecum. Already keeping Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez FWIW. Thoughts?
Cory Schwartz: The format favors power hitters so Lincecum has to go; I'd keep Mauer and A-Rod since you already have a pretty good 1B. That's not to say you can't or shouldn't keep TWO good 1B's, but there are other excellent options available so that makes it easier to let go of Prince.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): Do you think Aardsma will make it back as closer for Seattle or is the job League's to lose?
Cory Schwartz: When the good news on Aardsma is that he's able to walk -- not run, or pitch off a mound, but just simply walk -- you have to bump up League in your rankings. I'm surprised his K rate dropped last year, but in that ballpark he has a good chance to seize and keep the job if Aardsma doesn't come back quickly.
Derek (Foley's): I feel like I'm the only dude down on Adrian Gonzalez. Huge changes in park, pressure, new pitchers plus the shoulder injury. 2nd half I expect good things, but I think he struggles until ASB. What say you?
Cory Schwartz: You're not alone in being concerned about his transition to the AL, the health of his shoulder, and the downside of investing too heavily in him in a mixed fantasy league, when 1B also includes Pujols, Cabrera, Teixeira, Votto, Howard and Fielder, and that's just in the first 2-3 rounds. A-Gonz is a fine hitter who should put up big numbers, but I've seen him going as high as second overall in mock drafts and that's just insanity.
DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Cory, would love to hear who some of your picks for breakout players are for this year. Thanks, Dan
Cory Schwartz: Siano and I posted our overrated and underrated teams last week (http://bit.ly/dTTlhj), and we'll be talking about more breakout picks on the season preview show on MLB Network next Sunday (March 20) at 8pm ET. I know that's a shameless plug, but give us two hours and we should cover a lot of names!
Willie (Cincinnati): Many of the local Reds bloggers are infatuated with SS Paul Janish. Sure, he's following the Over the Hill Gang (O. Cabrera, A. Gonzalez, R. Clayton etc)but can his glove carry hit bat? What line to you project at the dish for Paulie?
Cory Schwartz: Offensively, he's a non-option outside of deep NL-only fantasy leagues. Whether or not his glove can overcome his bat in "real baseball" is up to Dusty Baker, and to be fair, they do have a good enough offensive core that they can probably live with him hitting 8th. I'd love to see Todd Frazier get a shot, though, before they just give in and accept Janish.
Jquinton82 (NY): Is there any correlation between a pitcher's IQ and how good the are based on career numbers? ...using football as an example, and given the money invested in pitchers by teams, how is there no wonderlic test equivalent being used?
Cory Schwartz: I would expect there is zero correlation. Otherwise guys like Einstein would've been pretty good ballplayers and I've never heard that said anywhere!
Rob (Alaska): Cory, thanks for chat. I guess it was Pitch-f/x that diagnosed what was wrong with Javy Vazquez last year. That said, he seems like an interesting gamble this year, particularly for us deep leaguers. But how can we get a good read on where his velocity is this spring sans Pitch-f/x? All anecdotal stuff out of spring seems very much in the vein of 'he looks great, best shape of his life,' etc. etc. Any help?
Cory Schwartz: Not sure "diagnosed" is the right word... a decline in velocity is a natural part of aging for any pitcher, and the good ones can overcome it. All other things being equal I'm sure the guy who throws 94 will have more success than the guy who throws 89, but all other things are not necessarily equal. Vazquez has a career ERA in the NL about 0.60 runs lower than the AL, plus he's going into a favorable pitchers' park in a division of almost entirely favorable pitchers' parks. He's a good bounceback candidate.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): Do you think Brandon Allen is worth drafting as a reserve outfielder/First Baseman in NFBC format or is Ryan Kalish a better option?
Cory Schwartz: The 1B/LF mix in Arizona bears watching. Branyan is a known mix of strengths and weaknesses, Miranda looks like a platooner, Parra is a 4th OF, and Nady is already having mobility issues. Allen is the only guy in that entire mix capable of winning and keeping an everyday job at either position, so he's probably worthy of a late reserve pick in NFBC. I like to use my bench on extra SP's and priority backups (C, MI) though, so his true draft-day value will be determined during spring training.
duncan (toronto): 12 team 5x5, 1st year as AL only. Starting pitching looks very scarce. should that effect the 'hitters first' draft strategy?
Cory Schwartz: Unmixed leagues do require more pitching depth than in mixed, and it's true that top-end SP's are in short supply in the AL. However, don't forget about the emergence of guys like Matusz, Morrow, Carrasco and Drabek, the strong 2nd half by Edwin Jackson, the growth of the young group in Oakland, and bargain-hunting on guys like Scott Baker. There are always value opportunities in any format.
maxfawcett (Edmonton, AB): Cory, you're confusing correlation and causation. And surely, given the tools that are available to them today, a gift for understanding numbers and patterns is as valuable as any advance scouting might have been a generation ago.
Cory Schwartz: Which question and answer are you referring to?
goiter6 (MN): Is there a decent app available for tracking specific players? Basic set of requirements would be the ability to track 40 players and pick stats to track (Split stats of versus R and L preferred). Basically like the team tracker on this website but in app form.
Cory Schwartz: The Bloomberg Sports Front Office tool is pretty impressive and allow integration with the big-name fantasy providers (CBS, Yahoo, ESPN)... check it out and see if it fits your needs? www.bloombergsports.com
bobbailey (Montreal): It seems like BABIP is a very sexy stat these days, and often considered to show how lucky or unlucky a hitter was in any given year. Have you used your Pitch-f/x system to shed any light on this? Seems to me a low BABIP is more likely to be because a hitter is swinging at bad pitches or trying to jack the ball.
Cory Schwartz: Perhaps, although I don't believe I've seen any such research... Mike Fast could probably address this better. However, I have wondered about this too... BABIP may indicate bad luck to some extent, but it also does reflect ability: my BABIP would most likely be zero, and that's not bad luck, that's lack of ability. Ultimately this particular metric is best used when looking at an individual player's year-over-year performance, rather than comparing one player to a larger population.
sean (TX): Hey Cory, is Travis Snider worth holding onto for $5 in a dynasty auction league (12 team mixed, standard rosters) for this year? He would be no more than my 4th or 5th OF. I like his upside but playing time and performance are concerns. What do you think?
Cory Schwartz: He's got some work to do against lefties and with making contact in general, but he's only 23 and has already established good power and the ability to steal a few bases. I like him for $5 as a 5th OF... let's not forget, he's still only 23.
stevenpsu78 (york pa): Who has the best fastball in the minors and who has the best off-speed offering? Thx
Cory Schwartz: Given the absence of Pitch-f/x data on the minor leagues, I'm going to defer this one to Kevin Goldstein also. Not ducking the question, but I'd rather let an expert address it and this is not my domain!
Mike P (NYC): Cory, good to catch up with you at Foley's and Bloomberg.
Can you imagine what'd happen if Peralta took that Rays job and ran with it? I'm not totally sold on Storen in Washington, and if they ended up non-tendering a guy who becomes a solid stopper for an AL East contender, that'd be a disaster.
Cory Schwartz: Hey Mike, we'll see you at Foley's next Friday, right? If Peralta takes the job and runs with it I'll feel pretty smart! Joking aside though, I think he's got the best skills and is in the right situation to win the job. As for Washington, Storen's struggles this spring may open the door for a Clippard/Burnett duo like we saw late last season after the Capps deal and before Storen got his September audition. Long-term though, I think he'll be fine.
evo34 (Brooklyn, NY): Can you highlight any pitcher velocity reports out of spring training that have caught your eye (guys throwing harder or slower than their norms)?
Cory Schwartz: I haven't but even if I did I wouldn't give it much thought unless it was accompanied by reports of an injury, or perhaps a new pitch. Guys ramp up at different paces and work on different things during the spring, so I generally tune out this type of information.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): What do you think of Alex (Alejandro) Sanabia (Pitcher - Marlins)?
Cory Schwartz: He was pretty impressive in his debut last year after making the jump from Double-A. He gave up more fly balls than he did in the minors, but didn't hurt himself with walks or homers, and even if he does end up as a clear-cut fly ball pitcher, he's in the right environment for that. It wouldn't surprise me if he starts the season in Triple-A but ends it in the big-league rotation.
PepeShady (STP): Some people have said Dan Cortes is in line to be closing in Seattle as soon as late 2011? You agree?
Cory Schwartz: Perhaps, but the road to 5th place is littered with closers of the future. I'd rather take my chances with League right now than worry about something that might happen four or five months from now.
PepeShady (StP): Which AL East youngster is the better bet for 2011: Brett Cecil or Brian Matusz?
Cory Schwartz: Gotta like both, but when the stats look similar I have to trust the scouts, who say that Matusz is the more likely ace among this pair. Cecil hasn't been able to duplicate his minor league ground ball and home run rates yet in the Majors, and he's in a home park where that can hurt...
TOny (albuquerque): I accidently mis-read "Einstein" as "Eckstein"
is there anything that could be encouraging for Dice-K this season?
Cory Schwartz: I'm sure The Eck is a pretty sharp guy too. :-)
There's lots to like about Dice-K if you squint close enough: a career 4.18 ERA in the AL East; career 8.3 K/9; he should get plenty of run support and bullpen support this year; he's only 30 and just topped 500 MLB IP last year, so he's not so far past his prime that you'd eliminate any possibility of him having good seasons. If he stays healthy, he could surprise... but given his track record, it'll probably be a pretty frustrating and uneven season.
modofacid (philly): where do you stand on jose bautista? how about jay bruce?
Cory Schwartz: I've always liked Bautista, honest, although of course I never expected him to hit 54 homers... he was a Rule 5 pick who basically lost two years of development early in his career, but always showed decent power. It wouldn't have shocked me if he'd hit 25 homers as an everyday player, and given the spike in his walk rate last year, which was accompanied by mechanical changes that contributed to greater power, it wouldn't shock me if he hit 30-35 again this year. Let's say he hits .260 with 35 homers this season, that's what, the 5th or 6th best 3B in mixed fantasy leagues?
reza (reza): you
Cory Schwartz: No, you!
Re. Jay Bruce, just consider these two facts... he's still only 23 years old, and he ranked 3rd in MLB last year in homers by lefty hitters off lefty pitchers. I think he's going to be a superstar (think Adam Dunn with fewer walks but a little more AVG and a few SB's, and decent defense), and maybe even this year.
mef (Brooklyn, NY): Regarding BABIP - are there hitters who always seem to have a high or low BABIP?
Cory Schwartz: Ichiro and Derek Jeter are two who quickly come to mind with high BABIP's. I believe ground ball rate correlates with BABIP, and of course fly ball rate with power.
PepeShady (StP): Which ballparks have you not been to that you'd like to see?
Cory Schwartz: Of the current ballparks, I'd most like to see GABP in Cincinnati, based on what I've heard about it, and Coors Field. My favorite non-Yankee Stadium venue though has to be PNC Park in Pittsburgh... beautiful field with a great setting and environment.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): What do you think of Ben Zobrist as a MIF option this year?
Cory Schwartz: I like him. His BABIP and line drive rates dropped last year, bringing down the AVG and power, but both rebounded somewhat in the second half. He still has a solid batting eye and can steal, so I'm figuring on something around .260 with 16-18 homers and 20 or so steals, very valuable in any league.
Will (Kentucky): Is Nishioka going to be worth a good hard look to be fantasy worthy?
Cory Schwartz: He's certainly worth a look but outside of Ichiro and (to a lesser extent Hideki Matsui) how many Japanese players have lived up to expectations? I'm sure it's an unfair comparison, but when I read about Nishioka and look at his stats, I can't help but be reminded of guys like Akinori Iwamura and Kaz Matsui. Both were decent for a short period of time, but neither came close to living up to their advance billing.
rodmalloy (San Francisco): Fun with top NL Rotations...
How do you rank the SF and PHI starters?
Perhaps this somewhat radical ranking?
Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Oswalt, Zito, Blanton
Cory Schwartz: 1-4 I take Philadelphia. Among the entire group I rank them Halladay, Lincecum, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, Cain, Bumgarner, Sanchez, Blanton, Zito. Can't rule out an NLCS rematch wtih those names all on the board!
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): Who will be playing 2B for the Mets this year?
Cory Schwartz: Head says Daniel Murphy, since they've seen him before and at least know his bat, although his glove may be suspect. Gut says Brad Emaus, because they have to keep him on the roster as a Rule 5 pick, he'll be superior defensively, and shouldn't be too much less than Murphy with the bat.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): From what I have seen of Dellin Betances (Pitcher-Yankees)I think he is destined to be Mariano's replacement. What do you think?
Cory Schwartz: Is he getting paid $35 million? Betances is ticketed for the rotation, and the better he pitches in the minors, the less likely he'll be to get any saves.
SLimShady (DET): Any hopes for Chase Headley this year?
Cory Schwartz: Wow, don't make it sound so dire! Headley is a very good hitter outside of PETCO Park, although he'll miss having Adrian Gonzalez around (as will that entire lineup). This is his age-27 season though, and SD is a running team so he could get 12-15 SB's again, bump up the power a tad, and end up as a useful CI/UT guy in mixed fantasy leagues.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): Will Pat Burrell keep the everyday OF position with San Fran or does he get bumped by Aubrey Huff when Brandon Belt gets called up?
Cory Schwartz: The Giants have a ton of OF options, few of them great, so it depends who hits... Burrell, Ross, Rowand, Torres, maybe Huff... they'll all have to battle for playing time. And don't forget that Mark DeRosa is trying to come back, too. It's a crowded picture.
Pete (Bronx): Do you think the move to the NL and to a more competitive environment (he was bored in KC) will result in 2009-ish numbers from Zack Greinke? Should we expect 200+ Ks and an ERA below 3.00?
Cory Schwartz: Here's what I don't buy about this whole line of thought that he didn't do well last year because the team was bad... last I recall the Royals were pretty bad in 2009 and he won the Cy Young Award that year. He wasn't bored then? Or maybe he was over his head in 2009, and last year it evened out, and the real Greinke is somewhere in between? Accept that, adjust for the switch to the NL, and add some offensive support, and I could see an ERA around 3.25-3.35 with 200 or so K's. He'll be part of an exceptional top three with Gallardo and Marcum, but I'm not putting him in the Cy Young race just yet.
OklahomaBrave (Baton Rouge): Expectations for Freddie Freeman this year? For beyond this year?
Cory Schwartz: Freeman is a big guy but not a big power hitter so I could see something in the .285, 16-18 HR range this year, eventually turning into a .900 OPS guy based on a high average, a lot of doubles, and 20-22 or so homers. Stats-wise I don't see a superstar, but like with Starlin Castro, let's not forget he's only 21 years old so there' still plenty of time for growth.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): I am thinking that Brad Hawpe is going to bounce back this year as OF/1B (once he qualifies. What do you think of him as a CIF.
Cory Schwartz: Health was clearly his biggest issue last year, as his skills appeared to remain mostly intact. He's done better at Coors than on the road throughout his career, but not so much so that he's a Castilla-type illusion, and he's done pretty well at PETCO in his previous experience there. If he hits .280 with 20 homers and 1B/OF eligibility, that's a worthwhile CI/5th OF/UT in any league.
Pete (Bronx): Do you think Dexter Fowler will hold onto a full-time OF job in Colorado? If so, should we expect 40+ steals and a decent average? He seemed to pick up his game last year in the second half after his demotion to the minors. However, Jim Tracy seems to be a bit fickle with his OFs and other than CarGo is always splitting time among a few guys.
Cory Schwartz: The big change is that Hawpe is gone now, leaving only four OF's for three spots, and Spilborghs seems to have pretty clearly played himself into the 4th OF/platoon role. 40 SB seems somewhat optimistic, but with a fast start (and the resultant job security), 30-35 seems a pretty solid expectation.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): As you said you would target MIF and Catchers for reserve rounds in NFBC. Would you take Will Rhymes over Brandon Allen?
Cory Schwartz: No. Rhymes has no offensive value. He's the AL version of Skip Schumaker.
PepeShady (StP): Sure looks like Kevin Slowey is in Gardy's doghouse, and could be on his way out of Minny via trade. What sort of return could they expect?
Cory Schwartz: He's an extreme fly-ball pitcher already playing in a great pitchers' park, so he should be nice to Gardy and get out of Chateau Bow-Wow! I'd be leery of him in a neutral or hitter-friendly park. As for what they'd get in return, I would imagine a mid-tier prospect or two, given his limitations and arbitration eligibility (which means he's going to start getting expensive).
Tony (albuquerque): Suppose Kila' does what PECOTA thinks he will do, Butler does his thing, and Hosmer kills it in Omaha, what do the Royals do then?
Cory Schwartz: Butler just got a 4-year contract, and Hosmer is their 1A/1B prospect along with Moustakas, so Kila has little room for error. Remember also that he turns 27 just before Opening Day, and just got his first shot last year, so that indicates that the organization doesn't exactly view him as a big future building block. If he gets off to a hot start I'd expect him to be trade bait, rather than someone who would block a top-shelf prospect.
Pete (Bronx): If the Yankees announced prior to Opening Day that Gardner will bat 1st or 2nd in the lineup, how much would those extra 100 ABs compel you to increase Gardner's fantasy value? Assuming similar production to 2010 but batting at the top of the lineup all year long, what round or dollar value would you put now Gardner at?
Cory Schwartz: The bump is significant... I've got him as a top-100 player right now, and that's with only ~500 at-bats and the understanding that my rankings (which are still in progress) are overvaluing SP's. I'm concerned about the health of his wrist, given how it effected him in the 2nd half last year, but if healthy and batting leadoff in that lineup he could be a fantasy star.
Jquinton82 (NY): Who makes the better closer: McGee or Walden?
Cory Schwartz: Well, I'm sticking with my belief that Peralta seizes the CL job this year in Tampa, while McGee works in a 100-IP middle/setup role before joining the rotation next year. So while Walden may not be the better pitcher, I think he's the more likely of the two to end up as a long-term closer.
Pete (Bronx): How would you rank the following catchers? Wieters/Napoli/M Montero/Soto/Iannetta
Cory Schwartz: For this year only, in 5x5 fantasy value: Soto, Napoli, Montero, Wieters, Iannetta. The top three are all very close and could shuffle in order based on health and playing time. I'm a big Iannetta fan, too, but you can only claim bad luck on BABIP so many times... this may be his last chance, with Wilin Rosario next in the pecking order.
Andy (Chicago): In my keeper league I kept 4 guys for $28 (Rasmus, Youklis, C. Lewis, C. Bucholz). I'm feeling so weirdly optimistic about that group I plan on splurging on Tulo and Halladay and filling it out w/ remaining cash from there. Decent plan?
Cory Schwartz: Assuming this is a $260 budget, that's a very nice bargain on that group. I always believe you should try to win now, so if you have the money to spend, getting Tulo and Halladay is of course optimal... but I also believe that you'll have a hard time building a winning TEAM (as opposed to just having a great core) unless you budget carefully. You can spend some of the savings on those four to help get Tulo and Doc, but don't blow up your entire budget or you'll find yourself with more scrubs than stars.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): Who will get the lion's share of Houston's Catching position. Quintero, Towles or someone else via trade?
Cory Schwartz: Both have demonstrated pretty clearly that the Astros should be in the trade market right now. They really, really, could use Ryan Doumit in that lineup, and I'm sure the Pirates would be happy to relocate him.
Andrew (Toronto): What are some common mistakes when interpreting Pitch-f/x data?
Cory Schwartz: Great question for Mike Fast, and he's written some great articles about this, though I don't have the links handy. In general though, be careful about making assumptions on one game of data, due to slight differences in camera calibrations from one park to the next and from game to game.
mef (Brooklyn, NY): As the flip to BABIP, Matt Cain always seems to do well with terrible secondary stats. Do you think he will eventually regress to where the stats say he will be or will he keep putting up a statistically-improbably low ERA?
Cory Schwartz: Very true, he's posted an ERA lower than his xERA every year he's been in the rotation, and by quite a bit over the past two seasons, so you have to accept at some point that there is some greater skill in play there. Looking at his rate stats and some of the defenses he's had behind him it's hard to see what that might be, but this is a great area of study for the Pitch-f/x world... between deception, pitch selection and sequencing, location, and perhaps other factors, the answer must be in there somewhere!
Curious (questionland): Th Phills "Big 3" are 33(halladay),33(oswalt),and 32(lee). Granted they have Cole who is only 28, but with there sacfriced offense how likely do you think it is one gets injured and they regret sacrificing offense for additional pitching. I'm partiucarly worried about Oswalt and Lee, in that order, as far as injuries go.
Cory Schwartz: How likely, I don't know, but the probably exists that at least one of them gets hurt at some point, because all SP's do eventually. Remember when we though Johan Santana was the model of health for SP's? I don't think they've sacrificed offense for pitching at all -- if healthy (BIG IF) they have a loaded offense at every position -- but clearly this is a team with growing age and health concerns.
Tony (Albuquerque): Re: Greinke's 2009.
The Royals started out really hot, were in first for a little bit. this kept Zack's interest up, and by the time the Royals decided to go all Royals, he was in serious Cy Young contention so he remained focus. IT's a theory...
Cory Schwartz: That is one theory, and of course there's no way of measuring the mental aspect of performance. OTOH, if you look at his 2009 season in the context of his entire career it screams outlier, and 2010 looks a lot more like his other seasons, so I'll stick by my previous guesstimation as to his performance this year.
Steve (Clearwater, FL): In an NL-only, would you nominate Johan Santana early, hoping to drain $8-10 (or more) out of the auction or hope he falls to the endgame where he can be had for $3-4?
Cory Schwartz: Well, I generally don't sweat the strategy when it comes to drafting pitchers who will miss half the season after major arm surgery... too many pitchers emerge over the course of the year to make me very interested in drafting someone like Johan in a re-draft league. And, draining even $10 out of the money pool represents less than one-half of one percent of the available budget for the entire league, so you're not really going to move the inflation needle. Bottom line is, I probably wouldn't be the one to name him for bidding, and doubt I'll be involved in the bidding once his name does come up.
bfitzge3 (Upstate NY): Jay Gibbons. Really?? What do you think are the chances that the Dodgers call up Trayvon Robinson or Jerry Sands around June?
Cory Schwartz: What, no love for Marcus Thames and Tony Gwynn? Gotta figure one of those two prospects ends up out there as soon as they prove they've conquered Triple-A (and once they lose future Super-2 status!).
Tony (Albuquerque): 2011 Will be better or worse than 2010 for Jonathan Sanchez?
Cory Schwartz: His ERA has dropped for four straight years, but his xERA has been essentially flat, as have his walk and ground ball rates. On the other hand, his BABIP has gone from unlucky to lucky in that time, so I'd expect the truth is somewhere in between: a lot of K's, a lot of walks, and an ERA in the upper 3's.
Cory Schwartz: OK folks that's it for today, thanks for all the great questions! Shameless plug #2: hope you'll check out the Fantasy 411 season preview on MLB Network at 8pm ET on Sunday, March 20, and then daily during the season. Thanks again for having me!