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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday February 20, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.


BP's resident TV star takes time out of his busy schedule to give back to the fans.

Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. Pitchers and catchers have reported, and while the games are a ways away, there's much to discuss!

steele (Vermont): Why Ibanez over Posada?? I mean, come on..

Jay Jaffe: Well, for one thing, Posada decided he didn't have it in his heart to continue in a lesser role. It takes two to tango, you know. That said, there were better low-cost lefty-swinging DH options out there, such as Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. I wrote about them all here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15861

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Jay, How many members of the BWAA? How exactly does one become a member? Any chance their HOF voting becomes public? Thanks,Dan

Jay Jaffe: I think there are just shy of 700. I was #643 as a rookie last year, and am #599 this year. To be a member, you have to be a full-time baseball writer for one of the organizations that has been approved by the BBWAA, and you have to be put forth by that organization. BP had to pass a screening process for any of us to become members, in other words, and then they put me forward as a candidate after successfully doing so with others.

I think it's somewhat inevitable that the Hall of Fame voting becomes more transparent, but it won't happen overnight, because nothing in the BBWAA ever does.

caseyj15 (Medford, Oregon): Do you think Miguel Cabrera will play first base as well as 3rd during the 201 season or will he just stay at the "hot corner"?

Jay Jaffe: Even if the third base experiment takes to the point that Miggy can play regularly there, I imagine he will see some time at first base while Prince Fielder serves as DH. Particularly if a groundball pitcher such as Porcello or Fister is on the mound, it makes sense for the team to limit the defensive exposure of the big boys.

ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi Jay, thank you for chatting. Nomar Garciaparra had 6 great seasons and essentially nothing else in his career. Does JAWS see him as having a HOF-caliber peak? Where do you generally draw the line on high peak/short career players?

Jay Jaffe: I have Nomar 20th all-time among SS at 47.6/44.4/46.0 - nearly all of his value was at his peak - where the average HOF SS is at 60.6/40.3/50.5. So yes, I think you could argue that Garciaparra is Hallworthy based upon that peak, and if he were on the ballot, I would consider arguing for him.

That said, you won't get anywhere with the BBWAA making that argument, because of Garciaparra's short career. Nobody whose entire career took place in the post-1961 expansion era has been voted in with less than 2,000 hits (he has 1,747) or 8,000 PA (6,116). So he's got a real uphill battle ahead of him.

Corbin (Tampa, FL): What the best advice you can give someone who is starting to learn sabermetrics?

Jay Jaffe: My best advice is don't get too intimidated by the math - there are several key concepts whose truth has been vetted by many a number cruncher, but that one can understand qualitatively without worrying about the third decimal place. This is what Bill James is great for, so I highly recommend picking up some of his classic Abstract work.

Mark W (Alexandria, VA): Except Damon isn't low cost - doesn't h still want $5M?

Jay Jaffe: Unless you've been in on the phone call between Brian Cashman and Damon's agent, you probably don't know exactly what Damon would cost, so please don't pretend that you do, even if he has floated a number out there.

I think the bigger issue is that the Yankees don't see him as an everyday player, and Damon wants to play every day in order to mount a run at 3,000 hits.

Trey (Texas): Braves starting rotation on opening day looks like....

Jay Jaffe: Good question. Tim Hudson just said he's going to miss the first month, so my best guess is that Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor are all in there, with Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran, and perhaps Kris Medlen competing for the five spot. Wouldn't surprise me at all if the kids were to start the season in the minors because of the way that April off days limit fifth starters anyway.

mgaynor (Rhode Island): What do you think of this Fantasy Infield: SS - Tulowitzki 2B - K. Johnson MI - J. Kipnis

Jay Jaffe: I think you're in pretty good shape. You've got the best SS available in Tulo, and two guys who have some pop for second basemen. There's some risk as to which Johnson you get, and whether Kipnis can live up to last season's blazing start at the MLB level. One thing I like about the latter in the fantasy realm is that he stole 17 bases (12 minors, 5 majors) after never reaching double digits before.

Nick Stone (On vacation in western MA): Should I be concerned about Pineda showing overweight? I'm worried the yanks just traded the new Edgar, albeit with an earlier start to his career. Who disappoints more this season? Pineda or Ivan (Aldo) Nova?

Jay Jaffe: Hey, Nick! 6-foot-7 guys can gain or lose 10 pounds between brunch and lunch, so I wouldn't sweat this - it's when your beat reporter files a column saying that the player in question showed up with a third buttock that you've really got to worry.

Now, why so glum? You're really in a pessimistic mood if you're banking on both of them disappointing just two days after pitchers and catchers report, and a day after the A.J. Burnett trade became official. I think it may take Pineda a bit of adjustment in the new ballpark, but his upside is considerably higher than that of Nova.

Oh Snap (A Mountain): Either, Neither, or Both: B. Hawpe / C. Jackson make an impact for Rangers this year?

Jay Jaffe: Jackson has hit .232/.312/.323 over the past three seasons. Any impact he made will be classified as "dead cat bounce." Hawpe hit .239/.324/.389 over the past two seasons, but part of that was in Petco, and he always had more power than Jackson, but I'd be hard-pressed to call his potential contribution "impact" even if he does well, barring significant injuries to either Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli, or Michael Young that would bring him significant playing time.

Eli (Brooklyn): What does Ibaņez give that Branyan doesn't?

Jay Jaffe: More fame. That's all.

Kyle ((St. Paul, MN)): Who on their 2012 Opening Day 25-man roster will still be with the club the next time the Astros make the playoffs?

Jay Jaffe: The only player I'd even hazard a guess on is Jordan Lyles, and even then, it's quite possible he starts the year in the minors.

oira79 (San Francisco): Jay: Is there any way Manny Ramirez has anything left? I remember a piece from some years ago, I think by Bill James, that pointed out that truly great hitters often have a single rebound year in them after they appear cooked. Willie McCovey comes to mind; Cal Ripken hit .340 after he started taking days off. I don't understand the A's wanting Ramirez, and am hoping you or someone -- anyone -- can shed light on it.

Jay Jaffe: I think it's possible - let's not forget that the power drought at the end of Ramirez's 2010 season came after he'd served three DL stints for leg issues and needed sports hernia surgery. That said, his age, the layoff, and the miserable hitting environment of the Oakland Mausoleum are working against him, so don't expect too much.

As to what the A's see in it, that's not hard - he'll sell a few tickets, and if he gets hot, he'll hit his way out of town sometime between July 31 and August 31 while giving the A's some small return on their investment.

Dave (Kcmo): Jay do you think the royals are a legit sleeper this year.Thanks.

Jay Jaffe: Depends what we're talking about people sleeping upon. The offense could be a beast, but the starting pitching could be the division's worst unless guys like Hochevar and Sanchez and at least one of the youngsters takes a big step forward. A playoff team in 2012? I highly doubt it. A .500 team? Quite possibly.

Jape (Portland): How does Bobby Grich not get more notice regarding the HOF? Is he a candidate for reconsideration down the line, like by a Veterans Committee or something? And finally, is there a GM who would take Bill Mazeroski over Grich, given that hypothetical choice?

Jay Jaffe: I'm not sure why he hasn't even gotten on the Veterans Committee ballot - his career ended more than 21 years ago, so he shouldn't have any logistical obstacles.

As much as I love Grich, I'm sure there exist GMs who would have chosen Maz over Grich. For as good as the latter was, the former was a better defender according to both reputation and sabermetric consensus, and somebody wouldn't have bothered to consider that the offensive gap was greater.

Hip2Hops (Seattle): Any hope for Pedro Alvarez to resuscitate his career?

Jay Jaffe: Sure. The guy's 25 and has four functioning limbs and all of 648 MLB PA under his belt. He needs to make significant adjustments to his game, but that's not outside the realm of possibility at all.

GBSimons (Boise, ID): What do the Pirates gain by picking up Burnett at $13 million? If he's solid, they can deal him for something better than they gave up , but that's a significant investment on a high-risk outcome. Of course, this is the team that gave Clint Barmes over $5 million a year to fill their SS void...losing season No. 20 is coming up.

Jay Jaffe: The Pirates get a groundballer who averaged 195 innings a year in New York while striking out 7.9 per nine, somebody with postseason experience who is by most accounts a solid citizen in the clubhouse - for whatever the faction of shit-stirring sensationalists in the NY media might have written. He's got issues with regards to walk and home run rates and declining velocity, but it's hardly out of the question that he can adjust to the reality of his surroundings and his current level of stuff. With a good season, the Bucs can trade him for something more useful to their long-term needs. It's really not that difficult to understand.

chiefsalsa (Utah): I think the hype in Miami is based on smoke and mirrors. I think (lack of) discipline kills the Fish this year. Opinion?

Jay Jaffe: I don't think the fans are going to show up in droves the way Loria and Samson think they will after being abused for years by the team. I think that their shortcomings in getting on-base won't help their cause, but if Jose Reyes is right, and if Emilio Bonifacio can build on a very solid 2011, that's less of a problem than before.

Mark W (Alexandria, VA): OK, I wasn't on the phone with Cashman, and I'm going by the number that was floated out there. But you weren't on the phone either - and you tabbed Damon as "low cost" - why'd you jump on me for doing that same thing that you did?

Jay Jaffe: Wasn't specifically trying to jump on you, Mark, just to remind everyone of the information gap between front offices and fans - one that's especially worth remembering when it comes to Boras clients given the way the man can work the media.

By Yankee standards, and by Damon career standards, $5 million is still pretty low cost. Also, if that's indeed his sticker price, it's worth remembering there are a number of ways to get to that figure - options, incentives, deferred payments, and so on.

KelleyDawson (St. Louis, MO): Looking forward to "Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers from the Team at Baseball Prospectus", including three chapters by @jay_jaffe (available for pre-order now)!

Jay Jaffe: Thanks, Kelley! I'm very excited myself. So much hard work went into this book - I know I was particularly miserable when I was doing it, because I got a late jump and was stretching myself pretty thin to fit it into a demanding schedule - but I am looking forward to the payoff of a strong entry on the Prospectus bookshelf.

Jim Edmonds (Hollywood): I can haz hall of fame?

Jay Jaffe: The latests build of JAWS has you a little shy, Edmonds, 67.1/43.9/55.5 compared to 72.8/46.8/59.8 as the standard. Again, the far bigger problem is your short career. 1,949 hits, 7,980 PA, 393 HR are all just south of round numbers that can work against a guy relative to longer-lasting candidates.

eephus (Brooklyn): Mariano Rivera didn't flat-out tell reporters he was retiring after this season, but it sounds like that's his plan. As a Yankees fan, what is an appropriate reaction? Because I'm leaning towards setting myself on fire and running around the block while weeping/ rending my garmets. Thoughts?

Jay Jaffe: I think that's an appropriate response. I've always said that if Mo went down in-season, the appropriate action to be taken by Yankee fans would be to put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye. If he is indeed hanging 'em up after this season, they have the opportunity to plan accordingly.

Suzie (Iraq): Besides baseball, what other sports do you follow?

Jay Jaffe: Iraq, for real? I salute you.

I don't follow any of the annual sports closely, and really haven't since writing about baseball became a year-round pursuit circa winter 2001-2002. I'll check in on football during the playoffs but am really chilled by what we've learned about concussions and the NFL's slow response to a major problem. I'll check in on March Madness but am far less interested in the NBA than during the Stockton-to-Malone heyday. Might check in on the Stanley Cup finals.

The one nonbaseball sporting event that gets me absolutely glued to my television is the Winter Olympics. I grew up in Salt Lake City (home of the 2002 games, which I attended), so I have a great affinity for those sports, and will TiVo the hell out of every night's coverage to get to the stuff I want - just about anything racing on skis or skates, plus hockey, and even curling.

Marcus (Sweden): Who wins in a MMA match between Keith Law and Kevin Goldstein?

Jay Jaffe: Have you ever seen the two of them side by side? It's a physical mismatch in favor of Kevin. Put them in a kitchen, though, and all bets are off.

Zooey (LA): Is Ben Sheets retired? I haven't see him linked to any teams this off-season.

Jay Jaffe: Two winters have passed without him being linked anywhere, let alone signed, so I think it's safe to say that he has hung up his spikes. Which is a shame, because he was a very good pitcher who left Milwaukee too soon to reap the benefits of what he helped start.

Bobby (New York): Any chance Derek Jeter or Greg Maddux gets 100% of the HOF vote on his first try?

Jay Jaffe: No, because there still exists a small handful of clowns who insist upon sending back blank ballots in general protest of the steroid era. This is akin to a grown-ass man throwing himself down in the middle of the supermarket aisle to protest mommy not buying him sugar cereal when he was a kid.

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Are you a BWAA member for life once you get voted in? Do you see more of an evolved stats group of writers getting in now or are there still some "SACRED" guys who get in as well?

Jay Jaffe: No. If you leave a BBWAA-affiliated publication, you'll lose your spot, though I think there's a grace period (I am not a rules expert on the organization, just attended my first meeting this past winter). I definitely think that recent classes of BBWAA newcomers are more stats oriented than in the past, particularly with BP and Fangraphs now joining the ranks and replacing writers who may have moved on after 20-30 years in the org.

lukejackson10 (Baltimore ): Who would you rather have for 2012 -- Matt Wieters, Carlos Santana or Buster Posey?

Jay Jaffe: Assuming we're talking fantasy, I'd say Santana, who has demonstrated the most power as well as the versatility to stay in the lineup when he's not catching. I prefer Posey as a receiver if we're talking about real-world applications, though.

chiefsalsa (Shibe Park): The streets are littered with the bodies of pitchers who the Yanks signed to make them a WS team. Are Pineada and Kuroda really locks to make them better?

Jay Jaffe: No pitcher is a lock to make anyone better, but having watched Kuroda extensively with the Dodgers, I can tell you that he is unflappable and efficient, two traits that he should carry with him to New York. Pineda is essentially a blue-chip prospect with a year of solid-to-great MLB experience under his belt, so we know the stuff can play in the majors. He still has much to learn, but the upside is there, and relative to Burnett and even the resurgent Bartolo Colon, whom they essentially replace, I like their chances to help.

Keith (Arizona): Give me 1 good reason why Marvin Miller and Scott Boras aren't in the Hall Of Fame?

Jay Jaffe: There are exactly zero good reasons why Miller isn't in the Hall. Pettiness over the fact that you or your daddy was on the wrong side of the battle - which seems to be the case among the group of owner/execs on the VC panels that have voted him down - isn't a good reason. As for Boras, it will probably be a cold day in hell before anyone votes an agent into the Hall, but at the very least, we should wait until he retires in order to get a fuller perspective on his career.

dianagram (March Moniker Madness): Mo Rivera .... SHOULD be a first ballot HOFer. But .... will he be? Take a wild guess at what his first ballot percentage will be.

Jay Jaffe: Yes. He's got strong arguments both as the greatest closer of all-time - something the BBWAA rank and file values more than statheads - and the greatest postseason performer, not to mention a reputation as a first-class individual. I'd guess he goes in with at least 95 percent.

eephus (Brooklyn): I don't know how you can keep chatting so calmly when Mariano Rivera might be retiring this fall.

Jay Jaffe: I am rending garments between questions.

chiefsalsa (Mannywood): ken Rosenthal tweeted the Manny deal to be 500k, maybe pro-rated to kill some of the suspension. Billy Beane is off the reservation.

Jay Jaffe: If a win costs about $5 million in WARP terms, $500K needs to be about one run above replacement level to be a break-even proposition. So how is Billy Beane off the reservation again?

PepeShady (StPaul): Which set up man is most likely to assume closing duties in 2012? Scott Downs (Walden-shaky performance) Joel Peralta (Farny-shaky elbow) Joaquin Benoit (Valverde-shaky law of averages)

Jay Jaffe: I'd bank on Benoit, because he's one with the true closer stuff, and yeah, I don't trust Valverde.

yankeesbg13 (Indianapolis): Who do you think is going to have a better big league future: The monster that is Mike Stanton, or Eric Hosmer?

Jay Jaffe: Stanton, because of the defensive value, the 80 power, and proven production in an offensively barren environment at a younger age.

Johan (Cleveland): What happens first, the O's win the World Series or the Red Sox and Yankees finish below .500 in the same season?

Jay Jaffe: Probably the Orioles, but I'd bank on an asteroid wiping out earth before that happens.

Matt Quinlan (San Fran/Survivor): Are you going to vote for Manny to be inducted into the HOF?

Jay Jaffe: I would be torn. On the one hand, having studied the matter and thought about it a great deal (a whole lot of that is in Extra Innings) I don't get tremendously worked up about how much impact PEDs may have had on a given career. On the other hand, I think it's quite reasonable to distinguish between using PEDs during the time when baseball was not sanctioning players for doing so, and using when there were sanctions in place, and Ramirez has two violations in the books on the latter - even if they (or at least one) were for using HcG to combat the side effects of PEDs rather than a performance-enhancer in its own right.

By the time Ramirez is on the ballot, the BBWAA will have more firmly established a precedent with how it treats those who may have used. I doubt he ever gets in, but we'll have a clearer idea in a couple of years.

Neil Huntington (Pittsburgh): If I don't start producing results at the major league level in the next 24 months, should I be fired? My draft record is suspect and I have very little to show for Jason Bay.

Jay Jaffe: I'd have put you on notice already, so I think it's fair that your job is on the line over the next 2 years. It's also fair to point out that Kevin Goldstein puts you as having four five-star prospects, two of which (Cole and Taillon) are likely to arrive in the next couple of years. There's a lot of pressure on the pitching to develop, for sure.

PepeShady (StPaul): If Thornton comes up with the yips again this spring, does CHW go straight to Addison Reed or will Jesse Crain get a shot?

Jay Jaffe: I thought it was reasonably well established that what Thornton went through last year wasn't "the yips" but an unsuccessful attempt to establish his changeup.

If I'm a team in rebuilding mode, as the Sox should be (but can't truly be given the $82 million owed to Alex Rios and Adam Dunn), I'd probably churn closers if possible, as the Sox did by flipping Sergio Santos. Get the increasingly expensive Thornton to about 20 saves and flip him, then turn to Crain and do the same. By then, Reed will have more than gotten his feet wet in the majors and will be well-prepared to do the job.

Phil K (Baltimore): What exactly was Brian Matusz's problem and how likely is he to bounce back?

Jay Jaffe: Matusz suffered an intercostal strain early last year and struggled to repeat his delivery - if a pitcher can't do that, he is totally hosed until he is healthy/fixed. I certainly think it can happen - there's nowhere to go but up - but wonder if there are any residual mental issues at work as well.

Nick Stone (Vacationing in western MA): Am I missing something ? I know anything can happen, but the red sox sure look like the odd man out come October.

Jay Jaffe: Their offseason certainly hasn't been impressive, and they enter the year with some question marks, but if the guys they're paying the big money to do the jobs as they are supposed to, I think they'll be right in the hunt. And I suspect the money they didn't spend this winter will increase their flexibility to upgrade during the season. The team that goes into September could look at least somewhat different in LF, SS and the rotation by the time push comes to shove.

mike (michigan): im a huge tiger fan and i have the number 1 pick my heart tells me to take miggy with the first pick but my head says kemp. i feel like kemp gives you everything miggy does plus stolen bases which should i do?

Jay Jaffe: Cabrera is the better hitter but the right fantasy play is to go for Kemp, because of the steals and the positional scarcity.

jhardman (Apex, NC): Do the Rangers have no #1 type starters, one #1 starter, or two #1 starters by season's end?

Jay Jaffe: Between Feliz and Darvish? I'd guess that one of them is able to step into the role by season's end, but even if they both pitch to #2 capability, they should be in good shape.

Buck (LA): Do you also get a chuckle whenever you hear a fan say "I can do a better job than (insert GM here)"?

Jay Jaffe: I say it all the time with regards to Ned Colletti, because good lord is he behind the curve in some ways, but yes, I do get a chuckle nonetheless, because it's almost certainly true 99.9 percent of the time.

Wilson Betemit (Baltimore): Do you see me out-produce Ty Wigginton? How much is the difference between us and the lineup we are in?

Jay Jaffe: Yes. You're four years younger, playing in the more favorable ballpark (Citizens is tough on RH hitters, Camden is great for LH hitters, your strong side), and at least a slightly better defender. Plus you're probably not going to be trying to live up to 1B production, as Wigginton may be if he's the primary 1B in Howard's absence.

Steve N (Delaware): Will the Seattle ballpark kill Montero's hitting?

Jay Jaffe: It won't help him, that's for sure - it's particularly tough on righty hitters.

JaysBlueForever (Toronto): Brett Lawrie the real deal or what? You think he will get noticed south of the 49th? What do you envision his hitting stats be come year end?

Jay Jaffe: We're talking about him, right? So I'd say he's already been noticed. He's not going to live up to the .293/.373/.580 he hit last year, but I'll take the over on the initial PECOTA I've seen (.263/.312/.444).

Marissa (Vancouver): Is there any chance a MLB team will ever come to Vancouver?

Jay Jaffe: That's a very good question. I'd love to see it, but worry about the cold weather hamstringing the team, to say nothing of baseball's rough history in Canada. Probably a tough sell to the Powers That Be.

BD (DC): Davey Johnson told Rendon he will be used at "2b, 3b, and SS" this spring. Any chance he can handle 2B or SS??

Jay Jaffe: No idea, ask Kevin.

PepeShady (StPaul): Is Alfredo Aceves really gonna start the year in Boston's rotation?

Jay Jaffe: I'd wager that either he or Bard starts the year in the rotation but not both. Quite possible he starts in a long relief role and takes over once a couple of the palookas trying to resuscitate their careers (Aaron Cook, Ross Ohlendorf, etc.) have run their course.

Silv (NY, NY): Add Webster, Rubby, Lee, Gould, Eovaldi, Reed, Ames and Lindblom to a MLB pitching staff that boasts Kershaw, Billingsley, Guerra, Jansen and Elbert as a young core, mix in Kemp and anticipate that the new ownership structure will spend on offense. Am I being overly optimistic that the Dodgers could be an absolute monster franchise in a couple of years if handled correctly?

Jay Jaffe: They have a fair bit of pitching in the organization, but the chances of all those guys being healthy, effective, and affordable at any one time are pretty damn small. They need to move some of that organizational surplus via trade to fill other needs around the diamond instead of simply depending upon free agency being able to do so. Though I'd rather the next GM does that job than Colletti. Good gravy, the last thing they need are more Federowicz/Trayvon-type swaps.

Jake (St. Louis, MO): Jay- Over/Under on the number of innings Adam Wainwright provides the Cardinals in 2012?

Jay Jaffe: 185. Everything I've heard suggests he'll be fine, but just to temper expectations a bit, i'd think south of 200 innings.

Stevey (Seattle): Ichiro is easily a first ballot HoF right?

Jay Jaffe: Easily? No. But I think it's possible he goes in on the first ballot, and likely he goes in, period.

jhardman (Apex, NC): I was actually thinking of a possibility of Holland, Feliz and Darvish being potential, but it would be astronomical odds for a 3 of 3 scenario. To be more specific, can Holland become consistent, Feliz adapt to the rotation with an additional pitch, and Darvish be the ace many think he can be?

Jay Jaffe: Can they? I don't think that any one of those scenarios is unreasonable, but the odds of all three happening in a single season are long.

Joe (Montreal): Any memories about Gary Carter in his days in Montreal you care to share? Remember seeing him, Steve Rodgers and the boys as a kid in da Big O was an amazing place 40k fans.

Jay Jaffe: I certainly didn't get to see enough of him as an Expo given the limitations of TV and geography (I grew up in Salt Lake City, without a major league team) at the time. But I was aware he was a star, and if I had to pick one memory of him as an Expo that stands out, it would be putting the tag down on Downing after Dave Parker's monster throw in the 1979 All-Star game. See the video here. Holy bleepitybleep.

Tim (Reno): Do you think the Dodgers will be surprisingly competitive with Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, and a healthy Andre Ethier this year?

Jay Jaffe: I think they'll be better off than last year, in a division where nobody is going to run away.

Jay Jaffe: I'd love to stay and chat but I've got a bunch of things to get done this week due to travel and an appearance on Tuesday's Clubhouse Confidential, so I'll quit while I'm ahead. Thanks for stopping by today, and look for another chat soon!

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