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Chat: Cory Schwartz

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday February 02, 2012 3:00 PM ET chat session with Cory Schwartz.


The VP of Stats for MLB.com and co-host of Fantasy 411 takes your questions on Pitch f/x, fantasy baseball, Hawaiian shirts, and heavy metal bands.

Cory Schwartz: Hey folks, I see a bunch of questions in the queue already, thanks. I'll get started around 3:00pm ET and go until 4:30 or 5:00 or so, or whenever all the questions run out. Almost time to get this party started!

thome679 (Chicago Illinois): Cory, Do what extent does MLB supply individual teams with a stats package? Thanks Patrick

Cory Schwartz: Hey, I posted a greeting but might've done it wrong, because I didn't see it show up, so let this suffice. I'll answer as many questions as I can until about 4:30pm ET or so and hopefully we can get to them all! So let's get started...

thome679 (Chicago Illinois): Cory, Do what extent does MLB supply individual teams with a stats package? Thanks Patrick

Cory Schwartz: To actually answer your question now, MLBAM provides all 30 MLB clubs with detailed minor league, MLB and Pitch-f/x data on a daily basis. Plus we provide access to a wide variety of pre-generated reports, for all MLB and minor league clubs. We support the analytic efforts of clubs as needed, to the fullest extent we can.

john (ct): Should Bill James be considered for the Hall of Fame? I mean just consider how he's changed the average fan's appreciation of the game not to mention how much revenue has been created by the world of fantasy baseball, most of which is directly attributable to his early annual publications.

Cory Schwartz: I do think so, absolutely. The Hall inducts "pioneers" and James must be considered among them, having done more to change the way front offices conduct their business, and how fans interpret the game, then anyone else in our lifetime. At least, in my lifetime.

rbpierce (Los Angeles): When do the 2012 Pecota predictions come out?

Cory Schwartz: Joe Hamrahi tweeted (https://twitter.com/#!/JHamrahi) that they will be released next Wednesday. I'm looking forward to it too!

Danny (NC): I need to choose between Dustin Ackley, Jason Kipnis and Jemile Weeks as a long-term option at 2B in my Strat-o-matic league. Which of these guys has the most long-term value? I'm worried about Kipnis and/or Ackley moving to the outfield down the road.

Cory Schwartz: I'd go with Ackley, he appears to be the most complete player of the three, and as best I can tell the Mariners seem committed to him at 2B. He's a much greater asset there than he would be in an outfield corner.

Rob (Alaska): I'm generally not a believer in the contract year phenomenon, but could you see that happening for B.J. Upton? One of the big criticisms has always been focus and effort, and if nothing else the lure of a big payday should keep his eye on the prize. A marginal factor for others, it could be bigger for him. Buying it?

Cory Schwartz: I've read enough research to believe that the contract year phenomenon is a myth, at least on a global basis. However, there are always guys who excel in their contract year, as much as there are some who tank. Which way Upton will go is anyone's guess... I don't think anyone's figured out the psychology of performance well enough to know if the promise of a big free agent payoff will make any difference in his performance.

Kristen W. (Canada): Who do you think has the best group of young (25 & under) starting pitchers including prospects: ATL (Beachy, Minor, Hanson, Teheran, Delgado, Vizcaino, Spruill, etc.), TB (Moore, Price, Hellickson, Davis, Torres, Colome, Archer, Cobb, etc.), or TEX (Darvish, Holland, Harrison, Feliz, Neil Ramirez, Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Cody Buckel, etc.)? Thanks.

Cory Schwartz: I'd take the Rays, given that they have the defending AL RoY and the guy who could win it this year, but Kevin Goldstein may disagree. That's no knock on the Rangers or Braves either... all three of these teams are in enviable positions in this regard.

Robb (CO): Without giving away your secret sauce, can you talk generally about your approach to NFBC drafting? Different from other 5x5 formats (e.g., starting pitchers earlier)? Any different advice for the 50 round draft and hold format? Thanks, Cory!

Cory Schwartz: There's no secret, my picks are out there on the NFBC site for all to see! In general though I discount SP just like I do in any mixed league draft, but not as much as I would in a 12-team daily league, and I try to draft more SP depth in the late and reserve rounds. Otherwise my basic playbook is the same: load up on offense early (balancing category and position scarcity as much as possible), get a strikeout-rich bullpen, and look for undervalued SP's throughout the draft. That doesn't pay off every year, and plenty of other folks have their own formula for success, but that's my approach.

mjk415 (ill): how would a Trumbo for either one of Atlanta's or Tampa's pitching prospects, work, would ir be a good deal for all involved?

Cory Schwartz: I don't think he's worth that much in trade, given his defensive liability and lack of plate discipline. The power is nice, but he had a .291 OBP last year and that is just unacceptable for an everyday player at any position.

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Cory- how viable of an option is Nunez, even if Jeter and/or A-Rod don't get hurt? Thanks.

Cory Schwartz: He has some skills and could make a decent everyday player on a mid-tier club, though I'd expect the Yankees would/will seek a better solution when the time comes that one of those guys is no longer available. He makes excellent contact, has speed, and will continue to develop pop. But, he's unpolished defensively, and his offensive upside is good-but-not-great.

Sara (Tacoma): When the dust settles and the moves have been made, what happens to the Angels. The outfield has Hunter, Abreu, Wells, Bourjos, and Trout. backing up Pujols at first are Morales and Trumbo. They also have no immediate answer for 3B. Long-term, who remains an Angel? What outfield position is Trout in?

Cory Schwartz: My guess is the basic lineup this year is Pujols at 1B, Morales at DH, Wells in LF, Bourjos in CF and Hunter in RF. Trumbo will get some PT at all four corners and DH, but I don't think he's going to see much time at 3B, since Callaspo is very capable there defensively and can get on base, which the Angels need now more than Trumbo's power. Abreu is in the most danger of being buried on the bench, as is Wells, if and when the club decides to eat his contract by benching him. As far as Trout, my guess is he breaks in at a corner (RF?) and eventually takes over CF from Bourjos, but there's no rush there, since Bourjos is said to be an outstanding defensive CF.

Joseph (Richmond): Brian Roberts: over/under 300 PA's?

Cory Schwartz: Sorry to say, I'd play the under. Between the concussion, his back problems and general age and decline, it's a bad bet that he'll be in the lineup more than that.

hotstatrat (Toronto): Do you have free projections? If so, I couldn't find them and wonder further if I could find out the credentials of the folks behind those projections as well as the basis of their methods.

Cory Schwartz: The MLB.com fantasy preview includes projections, but only in the basic 5x5 categories. We post "composite projections" on the Fantasy 411 blog (fantasy411.mlblogs.com), which average out the projections provided by several big-name providers, although I won't name them because some of them charge for their numbers. By averaging them out we get a "wisdom of the crowds" approach and eliminate some of the outliers in both the conservative and aggressive directions, resulting in a (hopefully) more realistic "likely outcome" projection. Look for those in the next two weeks or so on the blog.

Jake (Kalamazoo): I've played fantasy baseball for a long time but it just occurred to me the other day that I don't know the difference between a keeper league and a dynasty league. Is there a difference?

Cory Schwartz: A keeper league is generally specific to the MLB roster, whereas a dynasty league includes a deep minor league system and also more "real world" functions such as an annual amateur draft, rule five draft, free agent signing period, etc. I'm in one dynasty league and it's more work to keep up with than my other three leagues combined.

Rob (Alaska): Beachy or Holland?

Cory Schwartz: Oooh, tough choice. I'd take Beachy because he pitches in the easier league, in a much more favorable ballpark, and is right-handed. I think he has a little bit more variety to his stuff, too. But Holland had a huge second half last year and should get tons of offensive support (read: likely more wins); he's a big favorite of the Fantasy 411. Can I have both please?

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): As best I remember, John Lannan is a pitcher who has seemed to outperform his stats. As a stats guru, you might have a lower opinion of him, but I still wonder what you think the Nats might be able to get back for him in trade. +1/2St.

Cory Schwartz: Having now signed E-Jax, and having plenty of other rotation options, my guess is the Nats will deal him for a mid- or lower-tier prospect to any team that will take his salary. He's a serviceable innings eater, and there is value in that, but there's little upside here that any team would trade a real asset to acquire.

stewbies (Rochester, NY): Cory, in a 20 team 4 x 4 league, would you prefer Colby Lewis for $1 in final year or EJax for $7, with 2 years left, the first of which appears to be in Wash. Same format, please rank Revere, Valencia and Reimhold. Thanks.

Cory Schwartz: And on that note, I'd take Lewis for $1, because I'd rather commit fewer years and less dollars to #3 or #4 starters. As with Beachy over Holland, the "environment" favors E-Jax, but otherwise I think they're comparable pitchers so I'll take the value pick. And... Reimold, Revere, Valencia. I still think Reimold has some meaningful offensive upside if he can just stay healthy and get in the lineup regularly.

Ed (Cranford, NJ): Hi Cory. Could you please rank the following prospects in order: Anthony Rendon, Josh Bell, Rymer Liriano & Starling Marte. Thanks.

Cory Schwartz: Punting this one to local prospect guru Kevin Goldstein. I will say though that I don't think much of Josh Bell as a prospect, while people are already talking about moving Ryan Zimmerman to 1B to make room for Rendon, so that speaks pretty highly of Rendon.

Joseph (Richmond): Let's say I miss out on all of my 2B and 3B targets in my draft -- any late round saving graces come to mind?

Cory Schwartz: I'm still a big Jose Altuve fan. He struggled in his cup of coffee last year but he's still very young and has hit -- and I mean HIT -- everywhere, even when factoring in the favorable offensive environments in which he's played. I have every confidence he can be a ~.300 hitter and provide a useful amount of steals and runs this year. At 3B, see how low Moustakas goes... don't forget, it was just a year ago that he was considered the an equel -- or perhaps superior -- prospect to Eric Hosmer. Chase Headley is going very late in mock drafts too, but has solid value.

Alex (Anaheim): Cano or Pedroia for one-year fantasy?

Cory Schwartz: Do you like peanut butter in your chocolate, or chocolate with your peanut butter? They're both stars. I'd take Cano, but Pedroia's edge in speed makes them very close in value.

Tony Danza (Italy): Over/Under: Johan Santana 10 wins?

Cory Schwartz: When it comes to wins I always play the under. Will he be healthy? Will he be able to go deep enough into enough games to be in position for wins? Will their offense provide meaningful run support? Will the reconstructed bullpen nail down his leads? Mat Latos had a very strong season last year but only won nine games; Matt Garza won 10 exactly. I'll take the under on Johan.

Chet (Etown, KY): What kind of season do you see from J. Chacin?

Cory Schwartz: He was great in the first half last year but awful in the second, so that's a concern. Overall, he still walks too many, too. But he has big-time strikeout potential, and gets a ton of ground balls, and those are two plusses for any pitcher. Overall I'd expect something in line with his first two seasons, but I think his breakout is a year away... I like thinking about what he can do in 2013 with another year of experience and durability to build on.

Sid (Boston): T.Bauer vs. Cole - who would you rather have?

Cory Schwartz: I always punt prospect questions to Kevin Goldstein, and have to give some love to MiLB.com prospect guru Jonathan Mayo, too. I saw Cole in AFL last year and -- EXTREMELY small sample size caveats apply -- was not impressed. Throws hard but with no command or finesse. Young pitchers are always a roll of the dice.

dianagram (VORGville): Beer of choice? Beer of last resort?

Cory Schwartz: I always get some grief for this, but I love Sam Adams Summer Ale. I'm not a dark beer guy. Worst beer I've ever had has to be Black Label. I wouldn't even drink it in college, which is the time in your life you should drink anything you can get your hands on it. I think it was invented to help alcoholics kick booze... no sane person could ever choose to drink that beer.

Kristen W. (Canada): Backups don't seem to get any love. Who are the best OF and IF backups in MLB? I'm like TEX's David Murphy for the OF, and NYY's E. Nunez for the IF. Thanks.

Cory Schwartz: I keep waiting for the Reds to give Chris Heisey the everyday LF job and just leave him alone. He's a mini Mike Morse type in my mind; I hope he gets 500 AB's this year although we'll see what effect the signing of Ryan Ludwick has on his PT. As for infielders, I like Nunez (see comments earlier in this chat), but many IF's are glove-first guys so it's harder to get excited about the backups. Heck, I was into Brad Emaus and Josh Rodriguez last year, and that didn't turn out very well!

bateman19 (Boston): Stats! Howie Kendrick is generally discussed as a second baseman, but he is also OF eligible. With Pujols batting behind him is a 100/15/70/15/340obp a reasonable stat line? If so where would that place him in the OF discussion? Seems to be a very nice 3rd of type. Thanks

Cory Schwartz: I think those numbers are reasonable given his career path and the lineup the Angels should put around him, although the OBP may be slightly high. In any case he's worth more as a 2B than as an OF in fantasy.

Abe Froman (Chicago): Any room for Jermaine Mitchell to get 350 ABs in Oakland?

Cory Schwartz: Hey Abe, sorry you got left out of the new Ferris Bueller Super Bowl commercial. Life is so unfair.

Anyway, Mitchell has put up some pretty solid minor league numbers, but he's always been a bit old for his league and isn't exactly at prime prospect age anymore. Plus, the A's acquired a bunch of OF's this year and will give them all first dibs at the playing time: Crisp, Reddick, Cowgill, Smith, etc. Mitchell will have to wait his turn, so 350 AB's seems very unlikely barring a wave of injuries.

Henry (Fairport): Heyward or Jennings? Is it foolish to think Lilly can rebound?

Cory Schwartz: I'd go for Jennings, but of course if Heyward comes back fully healthy he's capable of big things too. Unfortunately though his injuries last year were so varied and lingered so long, that you have to look for a discount to acquire him. As for Lilly, rebound from what? He had a strong 2nd half and finished well within the ranges you'd expect his numbers to be, and at the age of 36 it's not likely he's suddenly going to get much better. He is what he is.

Bernie Fine (Syracuse): does Endy Chavez have 30 sbs left in him?

Cory Schwartz: Bernie, for shame...

Endy might steal 30 bags combined over the remainder of his MLB career, however long that may be, but it's hard to see a scenario where he gets that in a single season ever again. He hasn't had more than 12 in a year since 2004, y'know.

David (WA): If you're a beer guy, Chris Ray (remember him) has a brewery. He and a local brewery brewed a beer that was sold a Safeco last season -- very good. Check him out here http://cotubrewing.com/

Cory Schwartz: I will, thanks! I do like to try the local stuff whenever I travel so I'll keep this on my things-to-do-in-Seattle list. That is, I'll start such a list and put this on it.

On a semi-related note, I'll be in KC for All-Star this summer... where's the best BBQ?

faztradamus (Work): Do you like Willin Rosario as a keeper long-term?

Cory Schwartz: I do. He'll never hit for much average, but I believe the power is legit. My general rule of thumb is, if a guy reaches the majors by the age of 22, he's probably going to be pretty good at some point. Even Jose Guillen had a couple of huge seasons.

Joseph (Richmond): Does Wei-Yin Chen hold any value?

Cory Schwartz: His numbers in Japan were very strong, but not exactly Yu Darvish territory, and Japanese starters don't have a great track record of transitioning into MLB rotations. I'd take a flier on him in an AL-only league, but purely as a lottery ticket.

dacares (Chappapua, NY): Does my subscription include an app for iPhone?

Cory Schwartz: Sorry, no. MLB.TV must be purchased separately for your PC/Mac and your iPhone. Our entire 2012 product line will be announced very soon though, and I promise we have some very cool new stuff in the works for this year.

Hoot Sromboli (Fantasyland): What are the strengths of using your historical data as compared to Baseball-Reference's or Retrosheet's?

Cory Schwartz: Those are both great sites that I use very often myself, and Sean Forman and Dave Smith are both terrific guys. Personally I think our new (since early last season) interface is much easier to use than either of those two sites, and we've done a good job of incorporating things like All-Star and postseason stats. But, those sites have some historical data that we don't (older play-by-play, salary figures, etc.) In any case, we're continuing to add new and improved features and enhancements to our stats section and I expect it to get better and better.

Zack (KC): Arthur Bryants in downtown KC. Best BBQ on the planet.

Cory Schwartz: Great, thanks. Officially the first item on my to-do-in-KC list.

lemppi (IA): I never miss Arthur Bryant's BBQ when I head to KC to see the Tigers. The bonus is that it's right down the street from the Negro League Baseball Museum. LC's BBQ is good too....Gates' BBQ is solid but a little sweet for my tastes.

How do you see Doug Fister doing in a full season in Detroit?

Cory Schwartz: Second!

I've done a lot of research on Fister to try and figure out where the spike in his K-rate came from after the trade to Detroit. As best as I can tell, he threw more 4-seam fastballs, curves and changeups than before the trade, and fewer 2-seamers and sliders. He had a slight uptick in velocity, and may or may not have moved over on the rubber a little bit, although I'm trying to get confirmation on that. In any case, he appears to be materially the same pitcher as he was before the trade, but just getting better at his craft. Add that to the greater run support he'll undoubtedly get this year, and I think he's a very solid #3/4 SP in mixed leagues.

mattseward (Cardiff, UK): Cory, the list of 12 is up (http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/ for those not in the know... shame on you!)and perennial underperformer Brandon Morrow is up there. What's your opinion on guys that consistently underperform their xFIP? Is Ricky Nolasco an anonomly or is there some skill defecit we're missing?

Cory Schwartz: This is a good area where "scouting" and observation can complement stats and analytics. My guess is that guys like this struggle with runners on base, so even though they have good pure stuff (as shown in the K/BB rates), they're more susceptible to big innings. This is certainly true of Nolasco... take out his four worst starts last year and he has what, a 3.25 ERA? On the other hand, you have guys like Matt Cain who consistently outperform their xFIP, xERA, whatever... so after 5-6 years of that we must conclude there is some skill at work there that guys like Nolasco and Morrow haven't developed yet.

stewbies (Rochester, NY): for this year, please rank Encarnacion, Callapso, Betemit, Valencia, Polanco, Aviles, Chisenall,Alvarez, Vitters, McGahee, Stewart? Love/hate any of these guys?

Cory Schwartz: E5!!!! I'm a HUGE Encarnacion fan and still believe that he is due for a monster year. Did you know that after hitting his first homer of the year last year on May 29, he ranked 32nd in MLB in OPS? Or maybe 34th. Last season he started to wait back on pitches a little better and drive them more to the opposite field, trading a little power for contact. I like that maturity and development. Anyway, he has excellent offensive skills and if/when he puts it together in one season it should be beautiful... his career highs are .289 with 26 HR, 76 RBI and even 8 SB's. That's a top-10 3B if he does it all at once.

Ben (Delaware): Buying or selling? Rasmus Stubbs Bonifacio Adam Jones

Cory Schwartz: Sell on Rasmus and Bonifacio, hold on Stubbs, soft buy on Jones. I've never been a big Rasmus guy, and outside of 2 good months he hasn't done anything. I don't think Bonifacio will get as many AB's this year as he did last year, and with limited offensive skills other than the SB's, his value is tied to playing time. Stubbs has greater speed and good power, but obviously his upside is limited by 200 K's per season. As for Jones, the underlying metrics don't match up to his numbers from last year, but he's young enough to improve, and the scouting community still seems bullish on him.

Chris (Atlanta): Do you take Beachy and Holland both ahead of say, Beckett and Wainwright?

Cory Schwartz: Doubtful, but they're closer to that tier than most people realize.

dianagram (VORGville): Good afternoon Cory. Thanks for the chat. Do you have any say as to which statistical categories get listed on MLB.COM? When a sabermetric stat starts to gain some traction in the stathead community, do you feel some urge to get it into MLB.com's stat pages?

Cory Schwartz: Happy to be here!

I have a great deal of say over which stats go on MLB.com, but right now we're content to include more traditional stats, although we'll be adding more variety this season (as noted earlier). There are plenty of intriguing advanced metrics out there -- we just referenced xFIP and xERA, for instance -- but I don't see a lot of consensus among the sabermetric community as to which of those are "correct." Obviously I'm biased towards what BPro offers, being a long-time reader as well as a chat guest, but Fangraphs and other sites have worthwhile stuff too. We'll see how that shakes out.

Chip (LA): We've heard of the possibilities of Harper breaking camp with the Nats? If so, how long a leash does he have? Projections if he does break camp opening day?

Cory Schwartz: Davey Johnson is on record repeatedly as wanting Harper to go north with the club, but Mike Rizzo is more circumspect, so we'll have to see who wins there. Personally my guess is he'll go back to Triple-A to start the season, but if he does break camp with the club, I expect he'll have a very long leash. Otherwise, why have him there in the first place? Don't forget, he had some initial struggles at both the AA-Eastern League and the AFL, but came on strong, so if he's in the opening day lineup I think the club will be patient with him.

Steve N (Delaware): Folks keep saying that the Angels have a problem at 3b but Callaspo had a reasonably good season and is only 28 (almost 29). What do they see as wrong with this?

Cory Schwartz: Agreed; I'd rather see him out there than Trumbo (as mentioned earlier). The consensus seems to be that the club needs to find room for Trumbo's power in the lineup, but I don't share that opinion. We'll see what Mike Scioscia thinks.

Brett Lawrie (Toronto): Saw your tweet. Why do you love that weak-shouldered malcontent Hanley so much more than me? (Or is it really not that big of a gap and I shouldn't be feeling so wounded?) Love the 411 btw.

Cory Schwartz: Because Hanley has five seasons of elite-level performance under his belt and is still only 28 years old, while you have all of 171 big league plate appearances and didn't hit for much power before getting to Las Vegas last year? I'm bullish on both players this year, but to draft Lawrie over Hanley in pretty much any league, is just absurd.

karysingh (Key Largo): For Fantasy baseball 5x5 Roto: I have had a horrible time with WHIP/ERA. I am thinking I would rank starters this year by 3 year average 150+ K's and eliminate ERA's above 4. Is this a good plan?

Cory Schwartz: When it comes to SP's I'm always more concerned about protecting ERA/WHIP than anything else, but having a great bullpen helps offset that somewhat. But, don't eliminate pitchers at any ERA level without looking at the underlying indicators, because as discussed earlier WRT Morrow and Nolasco, a high ERA can sometimes mask better skills than the raw numbers would indicate. Don't forget James Shields and Trevor Cahill in 2010...

Hitters Hit (Hitsville): With the exodus of 1B bats, how would you strategize for the season in NL-only leagues? Pay big bucks at the draft for what's still left or scrounge spare parts until the ASB and empty the FAAB chamber when contending NL teams inevitably try to upgrade the position by dealing for AL surplus?

Cory Schwartz: Get Gaby Sanchez at a discount? He'll be undervalued after a terrible second half last year, but his overall season was comparable to (and slightly better in some ways) than 2010, he's still in his prime, and he'll presumably have full seasons of Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez ahead of him in the lineup, as well as Mike Stanton.

buddons42 (Detroit): Disappointing lack of metal band questions today. I'll try and rectify that and ask, what is your favorite regularly touring metal band to see in person?

Cory Schwartz: Great question.

Slayer, Mastodon, Red Fang. I'm a huge Metallica fan but a little burned out after seeing them 30-40 times over the past 25 years. Saw Lamb of God last week, and while I'm a big fan of them too, I don't think they're a great live band. On the other hand, I saw Dillinger Escape Plan a few months back and they were just brutal. Remind me to never do that again!

If any of you live in or around Bozeman, Montana, check out Abilena Valley... dirty, grungy, blues rock and damn good at it. You will not be disappointed.

Alex (Anaheim): What can we expect from a full season of Jesus Montero in Safeco?

Cory Schwartz: From what I've seen (and read), he has power to all fields, but of course Safeco is a very tough place for power hitters, so let's figure low 20's in homers. His K-BB ratio wasn't great during his debut last year, but it was better in the minors, so let's assume something in the .270's. Runs and RBI's of course will depend on the quality of the lineup around him. Assuming he plays enough to quality at catcher, he'll be top-10 at the position, maybe as high as top-5 if everything breaks right.

Jon KK (Elkhart, Ind.): I think Ed meant Josh Bell of the Pirates, not of the Orioles.

Cory Schwartz: And that's why I shouldn't take prospect questions!

Chris (KC): KC Barbecue: Oklahoma Joe's.

Cory Schwartz: Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check that out after Arthur Bryant's.

Richie (Washington): Full season of Jose Reyes. Good one, Cory! Who says Saber guys are humorless Clueless, sometimes.

Cory Schwartz: Well I did qualify it with "presumably"! Reyes averaged 158 games from 2005-2008 and is still only 28 years old, so it's not impossible he could play 150+ games this year.

Eric (Philadelphia): Can we expect much of you and Siano together on the 411 podcasts coming up? It seems like so far it's been mostly one or the other with Jeremy or Pete (which just isn't as special).

Cory Schwartz: Yep, we'll get the whole band back together once we get closer to opening day, along with Joe Sheehan and Nando DiFino. Might see a few new faces in the mix this year, too... stay tuned!

Chris (KC): Cory, Gate's and Bryant's are the cliches of KC barbecue. The places everybody from out of town goes because they've heard of it. Nothing wrong with either of them, but you can do better.

Cory Schwartz: I'll do a taste test between Bryant's and Oklahoma Joe's!

Donald (Oak Park): I'm drafting a in 20 team dynasty league where you maintain your entire roster (25 players (500 players as a league)) year-to-year without salary or contract/term lengths. We're doing an auction draft ($425 budget) and use LF/CF/RF instead of OF (no CI, MI, only one UT, 5 SP slots, 6 RP slots, 5 bench, 4 DL). Any suggestion for draft strategy? [For the record: I'm really interested at getting 2 or 3 from among A-Gonz, Kemp, Stanton, Weaver, Verlander, T. Hanson].

Cory Schwartz: Fill up-the-middle positions with quality players, especially because you need a "true" CF rather than just a bunch of random OF's.

Neil (London, England): Cory, Do you think there's fewer top tier closers this year. I drink the 411 Kool-Aid but I'm hoping to pick up 2 of the top 12 closers a little later than normal. Do you agree? And who do you think might have value as a #2 closer. Many thanks Neil

Cory Schwartz: It does seem that way. The top 5 this year is probably Kimbrel, Mariano, Papelbon, Axford and Wilson, or maybe Storen, but that doesn't seem as strong as two years ago when Bell was in that mix. I'm looking closely at Jason Motte for my targeted #2 this year; I picked him up several times last year in NFBC while their closer carousel was spinning, but of course by the time he actually got the job I was out of FAAB money! Figures.

Ron (Tampa): Michael Moore is a top ___ 5x5 mixed league starter this year.

Cory Schwartz: Um...

Ron (Tampa): I meant Matt Moore, Duh!

Cory Schwartz: OK now we're in business. The Rays rotations is obviously crowded this year, but I expect Moore to have a spot on opening day one way or another. The organization has managed his innings very carefully during his ascent, so let's assume he gets to 190 or so this year... at his expected level of performance, he should be at the end of the top 20, at minimum.

Lucy (West Ave): Greinke or Price? Lee or Hamels? How much more would you pay for Halladay over Lee and Hamels?

Cory Schwartz: Wow, another chocolate vs. peanut butter question! I'll take Greinke and Hamels, but won't argue if you prefer the opposite. I'd take Halladay over all of them, by a round or so over his lefty teammates and a couple of dollars in an auction.

Joseph (Richmond): How much does Cespedes's landing spot affect his value?

Cory Schwartz: I think quite a bit, in the short term. Based on what I've read he'll need some minor league seasoning, so how much of that gets depends on the team he signs with. Some teams can afford to be more patient.

lemppi (IA): Oh....and the BBQ at Kauffman Stadium in the right-field plaza isn't bad at all. The "Burnt Ends" were really good.

Cory Schwartz: Keep 'em coming folks, I will try 'em all. I love BBQ.

Cliff (Orlando): How much man love for Stanton this year (and as a likely future keper if drafted)?

Cory Schwartz: A great deal. His power plays anywhere, and the other parts of his game are improving as well, and he's only 22! Did you know he had a .396 OBP after the All-Star break last year? With Reyes (d'oh!) and Hanley in front of him he could drive in 120 runs this year.

buddons42 (Detroit): No Hawaiian shirt discussion either? Bunch of heathens in this chat I tell ya... Anyway, I feel the Aloha shirt is frequently overrated and with the exception of a few fantastic Alohas the Palaka style is a steadier, superior performer. Thoughts?

Cory Schwartz: About time!

I love aloha shirts... bought a bunch of authentics in a Honolulu flea market when I was out there for Hawaii Winter Baseball (remember that?) a few years back and wear them whenever possible, year 'round. I much prefer them to the Palaka style, no offense.

stewbies (Rochester, NY): if you're looking for heavy metal questions, you're at the wrong site!

Cory Schwartz: Oh, BPro guys can only talk indie music? There's no groupthink here.

Frank (Denver): I don't have a barbecue recommendation in KC except to say avoid Gates - well known, but disappointing both times I went there.

Cory Schwartz: Two strikes on Gates!

Adam (Bronx): Are there going to be transcripts of the 411 podcasts available for easy reading?

Cory Schwartz: We have not done written transcripts before... only podcasts and video clips. Easy viewing and listening.

Faztradamus (At a red light): Zack Cozart: Buy or Sell?

Cory Schwartz: Buy, at the right price. Decent combination of power and speed, and while the AVG won't be great, he should get a clear shot at everyday playing time this year. What would you pay for 12-15 homers, 15-20 or so steals and a .260 average?

Tom (Indiana): I'm inclined to believe that the Marlins will be either very good this year or hugely underachieving because the wheels are going to fall off, between injuries/volatility, etc. What is your gut?

Cory Schwartz: My gut is they will be very good, but they still have some holes to fill. I could see them winning 85-88 games, but there is some risk and uncertainty here. Of course, that could be said of a great number of teams in MLB, outside of the Yankees.

Mitch (DC): Stanton or Ellsbury?

Cory Schwartz: Ellsbury, but they are very different players. FYI, I don't think Ellsbury will hit 32 homers again, but I could see him settling in at the low 20's range for a few years. He's become a very smart hitter.

Rob (Alaska): I'm in a deep keeper league where I'm set up to contend this year. I could probably get Neftali Feliz in the first round of my draft, but I'm concerned about the transition year and the fact that he took a step back last season. How differently do you value him in annual vs. dynasty?

Cory Schwartz: Depends on who's available of course, but I'd value him as a #3 or #4 this year. He was successful in the minors as a starter, and has two plus pitches, so if his changeup becomes a useful weapon I think he'll be fine. Then it's just a matter of durability.

Jerry (Irvine): What kind of numbers do you expect from Brandon Belt if/when he gets a chance to play in the majors regularly? Is his future at 1B or OF?

Cory Schwartz: His minor league numbers are incredible, so he should hit for average and power -- and steal a few bags -- when he gets his chance. But, it's a very tough hitters park, a weak lineup on the whole, and he's battling for playing time (albeit with lesser players). He'll be their everyday 1B by next season but might have to share at-bats for a while this year. Much more valuable in a keeper league than redrafts this year.

Frank (Denver): Do be sure to go to the Negro League Museum when in KC . . .

Cory Schwartz: I shall, thanks.

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Standard 5x5 keeper league. Is David Freese a drastic overpay for Jason Motte? (Both players have the same salaries for this year, next year, etc.) I'm a Cardinal fan and I just don't see Freese healthy enough to play more than 100 games.

Cory Schwartz: Last one... and thanks to everyone for the great questions. My fingers hurt from typing!

At the same salary, I'd take Motte. As mentioned earlier I think he'll be a very solid #2 closer this year, with strong strikeout numbers and ratios, as he's developed his pitch repertoire a little bit over the years. Freese is a solid hitter, and while I'm not worried too much about the injuries, I just don't see enough power upside to make him untradable. Do the deal.

Tim (St Louis): Odds that Holliday will be back to his old productive self this year?

Cory Schwartz: OK, one more, why not... Holliday's groundball and strikeout rates spiked last year, but that might be attributable to all the injuries he battled throughout the season. Prior to last season he was ultra-consistent, so if healthy this year I expect production similar to his 2008-2010 seasons: low .300's, 25-28 homers, tons of doubles, and 8-10 steals. He's still a terrific hitter when healthy. The Cards will still score runs this year even without Pujols, as long as they can keep their lineup on the field.

Cory Schwartz: OK folks that's all for today... thanks for all the great questions and BBQ advice! Shameless plug time, enjoy the Fantasy 411 on MLB.com and MLB Network all season long, starting with our season preview show in late March and continuing daily during the regular season. Happy baseball!

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