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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday August 04, 2011 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.


Join jocular Jay Jaffe on the baseball beat.

Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and apologies for the slight delay in getting rolling. Plenty of questions in the queue so away we go...

goodwine10 (New York, NY): Do you think A-Rod would be OK if he told Selig, "Hey, it's no big deal, at least I drove home drunk." Selig obviously wouldn't give a crap then.

Jay Jaffe: It exasperates me to no end that MLB is taking this rumored tip of an illegal poker game far more seriously than the ongoing problems of drunk driving and domestic abuse. As Newsday's Ken Davidoff - one of the finest writers in the biz, btw - put it, A-Rod has a greater chance of winning the World Series of Poker than he does of being suspended. We're light years away from this being something on the level of Pete Rose getting caught betting on his team; this is Bud Selig trying to score cheap points by bashing controversial player on a flimsy premise. Feh.

Greg (DC): Can Ivan Rodriguez's place in the International Brotherhood of Backup Catchers allow him to play long enough to reach 3,000 hits?

Jay Jaffe: I don't think so. Pudge has 2,842 hits at the moment, but he's got just 25 this season as a backup in Washington, and is hitting just .214/.276/.325 as a 39-year-old. His True Averages in the last three seasons have been in the .215-.225 range, a strong indication that he's done.

It would be remarkable if he were able to reach 3,000 as a catcher, but he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer even without the milestone.

The Bamboozler (NY): Realize your last name isn't Goldstein Jay, but who do you like better on upside Shebly Miller or Trevor Bauer?

Jay Jaffe: I'm not a prospect expert by any means, so take this with a grain of salt, but even when you're talking about the imagination and projection required to see a player's upside, the comparison between a 20-year-old who's whiffing 11.3 between High-A and Double-A (Miller) and a 20-year-old who just barely made his pro debut (Bauer) is no contest - I'm going to come down on the side of the guy who's shown us what he has. That said, the fact that Bauer was a #3 pick and Miller a #19 pick suggests that those smarter than me feel the opposite is true. We shall see.

Jquinton82 (NY): Is there anyway to findout how many batters a pitcher has faced in a given season or career totals? trying to come up with an equation to judge the production of pitchers in my league... total OCD, I know.

Jay Jaffe: Batters Faced is available in lots of places. Here we just refer to it as Plate Appearances (Against), and you can find it in our sortable reports: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1012605. At Baseball-Reference, it's abbreviated BF, and it's available on both the major and minor league player cards.

Nolan (Arlington): Does Pudge go into the HOF as a Rangers?

Jay Jaffe: Absolutely. He won a ring in Florida and a pennant in Detroit, but his MVP award was in Texas, and he played parts of 13 seasons there. I can't imagine the Hall putting any other cap on him, and the buck stops with them.

Jimmer (Utah): Why do people say the triple is the most exciting play in baseball? Their logic is typically that its the longest play - but wouldnt that mean the inside the park home run would be longer, and thus more exciting?

Jay Jaffe: Inside-the-park home runs are so rare that people making such lists often forget they exist. But you're right - they're more exciting, and they result in a run scored.

Sometimes I think it would be really cool if outfield fences were maybe 10 feet deeper so we had more of them - that would certainly bring an emphasis on speed back to a game from which it's been gradually fading.

Silv (NY, NY): Trayvon: just...wha....what the f**k, man? LA bred toolsy athlete OF coming up strong (albeit in a bandbox league) for one of the worst offensive MLB teams traded for a bucket of trash? What the HELL went on here?

Jay Jaffe: I concussed myself with repeated facepalms as I learned about the Trayvon trade, and wrote about it for Monday's Hit and Run. Still just absolutely astounded and appalled.

Basically, I think the Dodgers had their doubts about Robinson's ability to maintain the power he's shown at hitter friendly Albuquerque, and to be an above-average center fielder due to his subpar throwing. Time will tell if they're right on those fronts, but a team in such dire financial straits and a gap in their outfield certainly should have given him a shot before giving up six years of club control, and if they were going to trade him, they needed to get a prospect of roughly equivalent value, not a bucket of leftover crap from their unconsummated trade discussion regarding Hiroki Kuroda.

Stupid Flanders wins again. Grrrrr.

Tbirds (Seattle): Did the Astros trade Hunter for Pence on the pound sterling? Feel free to use that one. What one? (Simpsons reference)

Jay Jaffe: Joke and Simpsons reference aside, the Astros got a very nice return on Pence. Kevin Goldstein had both Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton among his top five prospects traded at the deadline, with Josh Zied among his potential sleepers. By comparison, the Astros got only one of the top 10 prospects dealt in the Michael Bourn deal (Brett Oberholtzer) plus one sleeper (Paul Clemens) AND they had to take on Jordan Schafer, who is the most obvious Astro in the history of obviousness.

Matt (Las Vegas): I gave you $500 to bet on who makes the World Series. But you can't pick Boston or Philly. Who ya got?

Jay Jaffe: In that case, I'd put my money on the Yankees and Braves without having to think too hard.

Paul (DC): Ichiro! Stick a fork in him? Been good to long to think he can't bounce back next year (at age 38)? Any doubts he gets into the HOF? Does his MLB career actually merit HOF selection? Should his seasons in Japan weigh in his HOF evaluation?

Jay Jaffe: It certainly seems possible that this is the beginning of the end for Ichiro, but Seattle's entire offense has been such a Vortex of Suck that I'm unwilling to discount the possibility that he's being affected by the overall negativity of the situation, and could rebound under different circumstances.

I have no doubt he'll reach the Hall of Fame, and as I wrote a couple of years ago (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9416), I'd have no problem with that. Despite his not coming stateside until his age-27 season, his peak is near the caliber of a HOF RF according to JAWS, he's been an exciting and dazzling player to watch, and an outstanding ambassador for the game of baseball on two continents. Bronze him.

Bad Teacher (Tardyville): Why do >>50% of BP chats begin with an opening remark something like, "Sorry I'm late, I had (lame excuse) going on..."

Jay Jaffe: In the words of the immortal David Lee Roth, I don't *feel* tardy. So please accept this awesome music video as a token of my apology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0XLKcMoXRE

Nick (San Francisco): Were the Yanks wise to stand pat this deadline? Would you have parted with a Betances/Montero/Nova package for Ubaldo?

Jay Jaffe: I think so, given that teams kept trying to pry their blue-chippers away for what amounted to incremental upgrades. I liked the Ubaldo deal for Cleveland, but there's no way they gave up anywhere near as much as what the Rockies were asking for from the Yankees.

hotstatrat (Toronto): I realize it would be extremely difficult to have an objective and comprehensive method of measuring the degree of positive non-playing attributes of a Hall of Fame candidate along with the negative ones. With so much history available on the internet, now, are you willing to consider incorporatting non-playing attributes in a new version of JAWS?

Jay Jaffe: JAWS is a tool based upon objective measures. My views of who should be in or out of the Hall stem from the use of that tool, but I've *always* acknowledged that there's more to a player's HOF case than just regular season production - there's postseason performance, awards, milestones, and historical context to consider as well. If I were only interested in the numbers and not the history, I wouldn't need to write 20,000 words on the topic every winter.

Mike (Chi-town): Am I crazy to have obtained Trout, Jennings, & Teheran for 2012 fantasy purposes expecting immediate production? And mix in Bryce Harper waiting on my bench. Yes, I have built my own "all-hype" team.

Jay Jaffe: I absolutely think you're expecting too much too soon from those guys. I'd be surprised if any of them besides Jennings spends the entire 2012 season in the majors, let alone starts delivering at the levels expected of their primes.

AJ Burnett (New York): How about I go to the bullpen where my electric stuff can be electric. Nova and Hughes are there to pick up the slack in the starting rotation.

Jay Jaffe: You're not the first person to suggest that, but short of an arm injury which forces him to work his way back, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

BeplerP (New York, NY): Jay, thanks for the chat. Serious underperformance by a team can be attributed to performance failure by selected players, but can also include injuries to key players, club management failing to find personnel to fill obvious roster holes, persistent field management functional errors (rotation or bullpen management, failure to use available personnel appropriately, or assess onfield personnel needs or usage reasonably). There are a number of clubs seriously underperforming this year for a variety of these reasons. My top candidates: CIN, STL, SDN, NYN, perhaps LAA. Your views?

Jay Jaffe: Cincinnati, I'll buy. St. Louis is in contention for a playoff spot, the Angels have stayed close in the AL West despite any one of a number of problems, and neither the Padres nor Mets were seriously expected to compete. I'd put the Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, Twins, White Sox and A's on my list of underachievers.

dan (Ann Arbor): Am I wrong, as a Tiger's fan, to be very happy about Cleveland's deals? Doubtless Ubaldo makes them more competitive this year, but it still leaves the Tigers as the odds on favorites. And while Ubaldo will be around for two more years, the prospects that Cleveland shipped out make the trade a wash or worse for them in '12 and '13 and certainly a net negative beyond that. For the past year I've been afraid that the wave of prospects working through the Cleveland and KC system combined with a very weak farm for the Tigers would mean that Detroit would have a very tough time competing after this year. Now I'm much less worried.

Jay Jaffe: I don't think the Ubaldo deal is an unambiguous win, but I don't think you can characterize it as "a wash or worse for them in '12 and '13 and certainly a net negative beyond that" because the only certainty about pitching prospects is that there is no certainty. I also think that if Jimenez helps the Indians get to the postseason during his time with the team, it's going to increase attendance, raise revenues, and help the team attract free agents and/or keep a stronger grip on its best players as they become more expensive. I'm far more worried about the future of the Tigers than I am the Indians.

dianagramr (NYC): Howdy Jay ... thanks for chatting. Your choices for best mustaches currently in MLB are? More seriously ... at a certain point, prospects lose their optimal value if something isn't done with them. Is Montero's value "past prime"? Should Cashman have dealt any of his stable for "something", even if the (perceived) talent exchange was negative for the Yanks?

Jay Jaffe: Hey Diana! John Axford has a pretty remarkable mustache. I haven't seen Dale Thayer lately and am not even sure he's on the Mets' 25-man roster, but he's got a fantastic mustache. I'm pretty sure Brendan Ryan's infield triple owes its entirety to the awesome power of the 'stache.

As for prospects, while I agree that they lose their optimal value at some point, I reject the notion that Montero's time has passed - he's 21 freakin' years old! I don't at all think there was any reason for Cashman to trade his blue chippers for "something" just to look busy. This isn't McDonalds, where if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean.

Fred Wilpon (NY): Mets - underperforming? That's harsh, Mr Bepler. I'd say with this front office we can return to the postseason in three years....what say you, Mr. Jaffe?

Jay Jaffe: I think it can be argued that the Mets are overachieving relative to expectations - they're a .500ish team that has actually had some compelling reasons to watch occasionally, particularly with regards to Jose Reyes and the now-departed Carlos Beltran. Three years seems like a reasonable timeline; I certainly wouldn't suggest they're likely to be back in the postseason before then given what I know about the upper reaches of their system.

Lespaul1 (Charlotte): Has there ever been such a drastic meltdown from such a reliably productive hitter like the one we've seen from Adam Dunn? He just looks completely overmatched.

Jay Jaffe: I'm afraid we're witnessing history when it comes to Dunn. I can't think of a batter who's fallen so far, so fast without going out a window. Watching him in this Yankees-White Sox series, he's defeated the moment he steps into the batter's box. Terrible body language. The appendectomy may have played a part but I think his problems are at least 90 percent mental (not 90% half-mental - that's Emma Span's book, which you should buy).

Plenty of pitchers have gone that route, though. David Cone comes to mind.

The Groovin' Mahoovin (Atlantic City, NJ): Your JAWS articles are one of my favorite parts of the site. Is Catfish Hunter the most underqualified member of the HOF in recent memory? The topic was brought up on a message board recently and the consensus was that I was an idiot for thinking Hunter isn't an obvious HOFer. I was surprised at how poorly Hunter measured via WARP. He seems to have benefited a lot via his home park, the pitching version of Jim Rice, if you will, and his career ERA+ is only 105, which puts him about on par with Tim Wakefield. Actually, my quick estimate of JAWS scores has Wakefield as only 2 points worse than Hunter.

Jay Jaffe: Thanks for the kind words. Hunter fares poorly on the JAWS scale because of his middling run prevention, and while he's slightly further from the standard at starting pitching than Rice is in left field, he's slightly closer in terms of peak - he was washed up at 33 years old due to injuries that may have had something to do with the problems that felled him later in life. Furthermore, he dusts Rice when it comes to the postseason, having won five World Series rings.

Beau (San Francisco): I'm convinced there's a non-zero chance that Ned or some McCourt minion puts Kemp or Kershaw on waivers. Looking forward to it.

Jay Jaffe: Not gonna happen. Just for suggesting that, I'm gonna tell you to go bob for Barry Bonds' balls in McCovey Cove.

timber (KC): Didn't Brendan Ryan cut off the 'stache before the infield triple? It was gone the last I saw him - I thought, anyway.

Jay Jaffe: It's been off and on. I only saw the replay via a tiny pixelated video, and it lacked a close-up. Still, never doubt his residual mustache power.

Nick (San Francisco): Given the state of their starting rotation-Buccholz down and maybe out beyond this season, Lackey sucking--would it surprise you if the Sox made a run at CC when he opts out this offseason?

Jay Jaffe: If I'm Theo Epstein, I'd make it my business to make a run at him because of the potential to cost the Yankees more money. That said, I'm not sure if the Sox payroll can withstand the addition of a $25+ million per year pitcher, nor do I think the discussions actually reach the point where this moves beyond the exclusive negotiating period. CC will be in pinstripes next year.

lemppi (Iowa): Do you care to expand on your worries over the Tigers' future....weak farm? Iffy everyday lineup? The rotation is locked up for a long while. Thank you.

Jay Jaffe: Weak farm; Kevin had them 27th in the organizational rankings this spring. They'll have some financial flexibility after this season, and while Mike Ilich isn't afraid to spend, they absolutely have to avoid the entanglements that produced so much dead salary over the past few years. Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Jeremy Bonderman - I can't think of a team that had so many contracts of $10 million per year blow up on them all at once.

Peter Q (Austin, TX): Your thoughts on all of the recent "unwritten rules" violations?

Jay Jaffe: Hey Pete, I didn't see the whole game but the Angels-Tigers thing appeared to have bad guys on both sides; I haven't seen that much childishness since I was a day camp counselor. As for the Cardinals-Brewers dustup, Tony La Russa is a self-important schmuck/s> genius, how could anybody question whether he was right?

Greg (Schenectady): Stetson Allie...Saw him last week and his velocity was lower than I expected, and he couldn't even get his warm up pitches over the plate. Was he always this bad or do you think he might need surgery?

Jay Jaffe: No idea. Just checking to see if I can unbust the HTML I just busted . Let's hope.

Mrs. Goldstein (BP HQ): I too realize your last name isn't Goldstein. But if you had to have the last name of another BPer, which one would you choose?

Jay Jaffe: I'm pretty happy with Jaffe, thanks. But I do think that Mike Fast has a cool last name. Jay Fast... hmmm.

DrManhattan (NYC, NY): Why do teams keep asking Yanks for their entire farm system in prospective trades, as if it's 1985 and/or George's ghost is going to emerge to force Cashman to agree? Yanks haven't done a deal like that since 2000 for Neagle, and even then the prospects they gave up turned into Bust, Buster & Busted.

Jay Jaffe: Teams try to extort the Yankees because they're working with an outdated paradigm of the way the organization functions. Which isn't to say it isn't without its dysfunctions, but the Yankees have moved a long ways from the days when they so willingly surrendered prospects that went on to flourish elsewhere. I looked at this years ago in one of my first BP articles, "The Claussen Pickle" - they've generally done a very good job of avoiding giving up on Jay Buhners. If these were the Madness of King George days, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain would have been in other uniforms for 3-4 years now.

ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi Jay, thank you for chatting. How do you feel the HOF voters will deal with the upcoming glut of high power/moderate-to-high walk first basemen? Bagwell is already on the ballot and eventually will be followed by F. Thomas, Thome, Giambi (obvious steroids issue as well), Berkman and Delgado?

Jay Jaffe: I think they're going to be very conservative when it comes to voting for those guys. Thomas will get in on the first ballot, and I think Bagwell will eventually get in, but the only other one from that group I see getting in is Thome. 400 home runs just isn't going to impress the gatekeepers anymore.

Greg (LA): If Arte Moreno was to call up one of the Steinbrenners and say "hey, you know that Arod guy, I'll take him off your hands if you take Vernon Wells off mine", who hangs up?

Jay Jaffe: The Yankees. Brian Cashman may be a lot of things, but he's not stupid.

dianagramr (NYC): Falling off a cliff batters: Carlos Baerga? Falling off a cliff pitchers: Steve Blass?

Jay Jaffe: Baerga went from great to replacement level seemingly overnight, but he wasn't worst-player-in-the-league awful. Blass... well, if they name a syndrome after you, don't you get a pass?

MJ (Madison, Wis.): What's scarier, today's stock market meltdown or Tim Wheeler's picture on MiLB.com?

Jay Jaffe: Aye caramba: http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?pos=LF&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=572254

Still not as bad as Bobby Jenks' pic at ESPN or here. Cripes what a terrible beard.

ted (the cubicle): What happened to David from Sonoma State? Did he graduate? I tell you, these kids grow up so quickly.....

Jay Jaffe: I'd guess taht he finally found the hot tub full of sorority sisters, but got dunked because he was still wearing his Dodgers cap. Higher education ain't what it used to be.

ekanenh (Capitol City): Are you excited (interested?) in Bill James's forthcoming book on crime? Gein vs. Bundy -- 12 team keeper league?

Jay Jaffe: I haven't been too interested in James' writings on any topic for the past 5 years or so, was even more lukewarm when it came to the crime book, and am considerably less motivated to read it after a friend came back with a rather negative review of it. Father of modern baseball analysis though he may be, he's hardly infallible.

dianagramr (NYC): You are given the keys to the 2012 Dodgers ... who do you appoint as manager and GM?

Jay Jaffe: GM: If I couldn't poach Kevin Towers from Arizona, I'd give Kim Ng a chance to test her mettle, though I'd be tempted to give Dan Evans another shot as well. He got a raw deal in L.A.

Manager: If I'm staying within the organization, I'd like to see what Tim Wallach can do. I might be tempted to see what Bobby Valentine could do in that job.

I'd also consider bringing back Jim Tracy... Just kidding. I'd blow up Dodger Stadium, salt the earth and move the team to Orange County before letting that happen.

Honus (Pittsburgh): Will Thome get to 600 this year?

Jay Jaffe: Yes. He has 597, and four homers since the end of June. Knock on wood, let's hope he stays healthy.

ted (the cubicle): I remember the Dodgers cap chat. I got to that chat too late to mention that Stomper, the A's mascot, once gave me a large pepperoni pizza at an A's/Giants game in Oakland. I was rooting for the Giants but not wearing a Giants cap because I was possibly meeting up with a lady-friend later that night..... so it pays to take off that cap at times.

Jay Jaffe: Glad somebody else remembers! That was a fun one. For those of you in the dark, we're referring to this chat: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/chat/chat.php?chatId=577

CardsfaninSF (SF of course): Cards OF past and present- Edmonds & Berkman- reasonable shot at HOF? And when do Bagwell, Biggio and others of that ilk become eligible? Thanks for the chat!

Jay Jaffe: Bagwell's eligible, but got just 41.7 percent in his first year of eligibility this past winter. Biggio will be on the 2013 ballot. Edmonds fares rather well on the JAWS scale, but the writers haven't elected a single player whose career took place in the expansion era (1961-onward) and who collected less than 2000 hits, so I'm skeptical he'll make it. Berkman's still got a ways to go to get to 2,000, and I think he's going to have a hard time unless he reaches 500 home runs, and that's asking a lot of a guy in his age 35 season.

Tbirds (Seattle): Should the Mariners give Wily Mo a fair chance to be their DH next year? His OPS at Reno was 1200. How much worse could it be at Safeco? .975?

Jay Jaffe: I think they should give him a shot at being their DH right now. If he shows them enough over the final two months, sure, he merits a look for next year, but he's got to actually do something before I'd even pencil his name into a lineup in a season that's not already a lost cause.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Hi Jay Is Bobby Parnell taking over the closer role for the Mets before the end of the season? Thanks

Jay Jaffe: What am I, a gypsy with a crystal ball?

I'd guess yes, if only because the odds are probably against Isringhausen holding up that long, and it makes sense to see how Parnell fares in the role.

Robert (New York): What's your best guess as to when Montero comes up? Personally, I think he should've been up three or four weeks ago, when the offense was sputtering after A-Rod got hurt. I know the need isn't there right now, but I want them to bring Montero up in the hopes that he'll hit so well all thoughts of trading him will disappear.

Jay Jaffe: My guess is August 9, when the Yankees get back from Boston.

CardsfaninSF (SF of course): Have you ever seen a comparison of GMs, something along the lines of $/win (relative to league), going back over a long period of time? Would be interested to know how some of the much pilloried names fare, though it may not be the fairest evaluation of their abilities.

Jay Jaffe: Shawn Hoffman tried something along those lines last year, though it was more historically based, and fairly complicated. See http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=10016

Nick Stone (Vacation, NY): Assuming the Yankees make the playoffs, how do you see the rotation? I assume A.J. "can't manage a twelve run lead" Burnett is the man on the outside looking in?

Jay Jaffe: Hey Nick! Sabathia obviously pitches game 1, and after that I'd guess Colon for Game 2, Hughes or Garcia for Game 3, and back to Sabathia for Game 4 unless they're up 2-0. If you extend the recent trendlines on Hughes and Burnett through September, I can't see the latter getting a posteason start - he's going to have to assert himself in a positive way.

KG (Dekalb): So Jay ... what are you drinking?

Jay Jaffe: Nothing but Coca Cola right now, though that Six Point Sweet Action in the fridge is calling to me. Tonight when I'm on the Over the Monster podcast with BP alum Marc Normandin, I'll crack open some kind of International Pale Ale in honor of IPA Day.

Jay Jaffe: And that's it for today. Despite my tardiness, you still got your 2.5 hours and 45 questions, which is about the most I can recall answering. Thanks for stopping by, everybody!

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