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Chat: Jay Jaffe

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday April 13, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with Jay Jaffe.


Who's that mustachioed man? It's Jay Jaffe, Hall of Fame expert, frequent Clubhouse Confidential guest, and famed author of both BP articles and luxurious lip sweaters. Join Jay for an afternoon chat about the brand-new baseball season.

Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to today's chat. I've got the Yankees' home opener against the Angels on in the background, but we can talk about all 30 teams, and why I hate them.

Tom (State College): How do you think the NL East will play out this year? Phillies are still considered top in the division, but do you the Miam or Atlanta will come in at 2? And are the Nationals as good as they think they are?

Jay Jaffe: Particularly because of the impact of losing both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for considerable lengths of time - both absences are open-ended at this writing - I think the NL East is really up for grabs. It's not difficult to envision scenarios by which Braves, Marlins, and/or Nationals could challenge them. Personally, I think it's the Nats who will rise up out of the fray - I really like what they've done with their rotation, which is much deeper than that of the Marlins, who are up the creek if Josh Johnson isn't right. I'm not a huge fan of the Braves' offense, so I think they could underperform relative to the expectations of a team which just missed the playoffs last year.

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Tom (State College): How do you think the NL East will play out this year? Phillies are still considered top in the division, but do you the Miam or Atlanta will come in at 2? And are the Nationals as good as they think they are?

Jay Jaffe: Particularly because of the impact of losing both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for considerable lengths of time - both absences are open-ended at this writing - I think the NL East is really up for grabs. It's not difficult to envision scenarios by which Braves, Marlins, and/or Nationals could challenge them. Personally, I think it's the Nats who will rise up out of the fray - I really like what they've done with their rotation, which is much deeper than that of the Marlins, who are up the creek if Josh Johnson isn't right. I'm not a huge fan of the Braves' offense, so I think they could underperform relative to the expectations of a team which just missed the playoffs last year.

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SamLindauer (NY, NY): Posada throwing out first pitch today, has your consideration of his HoF credentials changed at all since he retired? How often do you change stances on a player?

Jay Jaffe: I wrote about Posada in January (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15819) and my stance hasn't significantly changed since then: he's a bit below the JAWS standard at catcher, (46.6/33.8/40.2 vs. 51.7/33.9/42.6), and his postseason credentials aren't uniformly great. On an emotional level, I'd love to see him in, but I can understand why he's a bit of a longshot.

Since our methodology underlying WARP is refined from time to time - raising the replacement level, revising our fielding metrics, updating our park factors, and so on - I do find that the JAWS take on certain players changes, and with them, my stance evolves. It's certainly not uncommon, and I think we should be open to new information that helps us analyze a player's career.

pieman1121 (China, Mane): Jay - I heard you on the Loose Cannons yesterday. I thought you did a nice job of not talking down to the hosts, who seem to know little to nothing about stats or baseball, for that matter. Do you find doing radio spots a hard job or do you enjoy it for the most part?

Jay Jaffe: I generally enjoy doing radio hits, particularly the recurring ones where it's clear the host(s) understand what it is I do, and what a sabermetric approach brings to the table. It's harder when talking to somebody who's got less exposure to the type of work we do at BP, but I've always felt that it's better to find some common ground, to show people that this stuff isn't that hard to understand, than it is to talk down to them. It takes patience, but it's the right way to go about it, and if I can bring a few more listeners to BP and to a sabermetric way of thinking, I feel I've done a good job.

BeplerP (New York, NY): OK, Derek Jeter is hitting .375, Hanley Ramirez is hitting .174, the Red Sox are 1-5, CC has two NDs in two games, and Ozzie is serving a five day suspension. Is this The Shape of Things to Come, or Small Sample Size Hell?

Jay Jaffe: Sure, Jeter's en route to a batting title, Hanley's going to wind up below the Mendoza Line, and the Red Sox will replace the 1962 Mets and 1899 Cleveland Spiders as the all-time laughingstocks of baseball history. C'mon, we're dealing with small sample sizes, and while it's fine to be entertained by their novelty, let's not overreact.

Sam (Columbia, SC): Which catcher would currently score a larger deal on an open market, Joe Mauer or Matt Wieters?

Jay Jaffe: Tough question. Mauer is the better hitter even if he never approaches his 2009 level - he's got 43 points of career True Average on Wieters (.305 to .260), but he's also three years older and already starting to break down physically. Meanwhile, Wieters has developed into a solid player but hardly the star many (BP as well as prospect mavens elsewhere) predicted he would be. I don't think either would get a bank-breaking Yadier-esque deal if they were suddenly free agents.

Guillermo (Montevideo, Uruguay): Hi Jay! I'll be having some very traditional Uruguayan lunch by the time of the chat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asado) but I wanted to drop by, say hi, and ask a very profound question: if I, being 10000 miles away, can see through at least half of the childish mental mistakes players/managers/GMs make daily, how come these still happen? Is the next market inefficiency to cut down on all those Caught Stealing third for the 3rd out / not using your best reliever in the highest leverage situations / keeping 'veterans' in the roster instead of giving promising young players a chance / etc.?

Jay Jaffe: Hey Guillermo! Always good to hear from Uruguay's number one BP fan, and man, I'm jealous with regards to lunch (Uruguay is a carnivore's paradise, for those who are unaware).

I think some of the mistakes you talk about (caught stealing for the third out) are ones that will always be with us, but the game does slowly evolve, and we've seen something of a movement where certain veterans have trouble finding jobs because of a general trend towards younger players - take the absence of Vlad Guerrero, Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon (though he finally signed with Cleveland) from rosters after competent but hardly stellar seasons.

Sooner or later, some team is going to get more daring with their reliever usage, though it's worth noting that in some places like Cleveland (Vinny Pestano), Detroit (Joaquin Benoit), Los Angeles (Kenley Jansen) and Washington (Tyler Clippard) teams already have their best relievers in non-closing situations that are often higher-leverage. It happens more often than you think.

cooldude (Mpls): Chances that both AL wild cards come out of the East? How long before KC has a legit shot in the Central?

Jay Jaffe: I think it's certainly possible, the Red Sox slow start notwithstanding. Even so, I wouldn't count the second place team in the AL West, either the Angels or the Rangers, out of the running at all. Both teams have a good deal of talent and depth.

As for the Royals, I'd guess that 2014 is realistic. Right now, I simply don't see the starting pitching they need to compete; at best maybe Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar (who took a step forward in the second half last year) are league average - where is the rest of that help going to come from? They'll need to sign outside free agents or make trades in order to fortify their starting five.

SamLindauer (NY,NY): Odds that the pitcher the yankees were luckiest to acquire in the Montero deal was Campos and not Pineda?

Jay Jaffe: Campos is far from the majors, but based upon the scouting reports I've heard, I do think there's a chance he turns out to be the better of the two pitchers. That said, he's in A-ball right now, and there's a whole lot that can happen between there and the bigs, so it's less than a 50/50 shot.

Tango (cornered by 29 other teams' RIOT): How do you tell people that Yankees are not evil? I love the attitude the ball club maintains, I like Brian Cashman is operating brilliantly when he is not overcast-ed by Tampa storm(s)...but other fans just hate you since you are winning. And I don't even have a convincing mustache to be convincing. How would you defend your love to pinstripe in a rational way?

Jay Jaffe: Not everybody loves the Yankees, it's true. But if you're a fan, you can always count on the team having the money to compete, and under the current Steinbrenner/Cashman regime, the smarts to put together a contender. That may not be quite as interesting as a ragtag bunch in Tampa Bay or elsewhere assembling teams on smaller budgets, but if you live in New York - a city that's vastly superior to wherever you are* - it's not that hard to enjoy them. Unless you have a streak of self-hatred that leads you to root for the Mets, of course.

*I kid, of course.

WisconsinRob (Madison): Hi Jay. How often does one trim & groom such a glorious mustache? Also, as a "fan" what is your opinion on Magic Johnson becoming an MLB owner?

Jay Jaffe: Hey Rob, this mustache requires maintenance on an almost-daily basis, a bit of trimming here and there to keep it neat and maintain its mojo. There's a learning curve to it, though - it's not like they hand you a pamphlet once you decide to grow one telling you what to do.

I'm keen on Magic, as I think he brings a tremendous amount of local and national credibility to the Dodgers even if he's not the moneybags in the deal. Magic is a guy who understands sports at the top level, has shown smarts as a businessman, and has found numerous ways to connect with the L.A. community. Having him involved might be the best possible outcome for Dodger fans relative to the McCourt era.

Nick Johnson (in surgery): So, it looks like Michael Morse might be down a while. My NL only team sure needs a bat now. Options are limited, where should I look - Brett Pill, Zavier Nady, Steve Lombardozzi, Matt Carpenter, or is help on the way?

Jay Jaffe: I'm not sure any of those guys are solutions to your problem - Pill and Nady are lefty-mashing role players at best, with considerable questions about their longer-term viability. Lombardozzi's a utilityman, Carpenter's a bench player. I'd look elsewhere for more than a stopgap.

HalfStreet (Fairfax VA): Roger Bernadina has a small but loyal fan base in DC, but "The Shark" seems headed for waivers at some point this season, because he is out of options. Is it most likely that 1) someone would trade for him, 2) he would be claimed off waivers for no return, or 3) he passes through waivers and plays in Syracuse? +1/2St.

Jay Jaffe: Every team has a Roger Bernadina or two in their system, so there's no real reason to trade for one. Maybe he gets claimed off waivers if a team has a pressing need for depth following an injury, but I think it's more likely he passes through waivers.

BR (A pub in NYC): Goose Island IPA. You?

Jay Jaffe: I'm at home doing this chat, and it's too early for me to start drinking, but that's a nice one if you like IPAs.

bumphadley (NJ): Jesus Montero has not walked yet. Can he be an elite hitter with a BB/PA rate around 7%?

Jay Jaffe: Montero has great tools in terms of his hitting and his power, but order to reach an elite level as a well-rounded hitter, he's going to have to do better than 7%. As he settles in, one would expect that he'll develop some "found" plate discipline - pitchers will pitch around him because of his dangerous power, but he's going to have to develop at least a bit of true discipline in order for that to happen.

Paul (DC): After an extremely disappointing 2011, what are the odds now that Jason Heyward will have a better career than Giancarlo Stanton?

Jay Jaffe: You're talking about two guys who are in their age 22 seasons. Heyward had a rough age 21 due to injuries, but he's certainly young enough to bounce back. Meanwhile, Stanton's collecting his share of injuries - he's got some persistent knee issues which could bother him all year. I'd bet that Stanton winds up with more career homers, but it's still about 50/50 as to which player will have the better career.

Mark68 (Mile High): Is there a way to come up with a BUDP (Broke Up Double Play) stat and whether breaking up a pitcher's best friend leads to a better chance of scoring?

Jay Jaffe: It certainly leads to a better chance of scoring, because one out is less than two. As to coming up with the stat, it's already in our baserunning stats, which quantify advancement on groundouts. If a guy's out, that costs him more than if he were safe.

Now, if you want to develop a stat that would actually count the number of times a runner knocks a middle infielder on his ass to prevent a double play, that's a different story, and it's something that would require stringers such as Baseball Info Systems or MLB Advanced Media to observe and record.

BR (A pub in NYC): Too early? It's the 2nd inning!

Jay Jaffe: I've never been much of a daytime drinker. I don't have a problem getting enough beer in my system after 9 PM if I so desire.

Nick Stone (New York, NY): Sabean and Bochy dealing with Belt, Dusty Baker with pitchers, Jim Tracy, with, well, baseball in general....Since hate is the theme of the day, which GM and/or manager makes your blood boil the most these days?

Jay Jaffe: Sabean's certainly high on the list, but because I care more about what the Dodgers do than what the Giants do, it's Ned Colletti who's more likely to drive me into a chair-throwing rage.

Bob (Seattle): If Tampa is using radical alignment shifts in their infield for a significant amount of time, wouldn't this skew their defensive UZR ratings? Since UZR is based on the % of time you make a play in a certain zone compared to the average % of plays made, if you shift a second baseman right behind second base, who then makes a routine play on the SS side of 2B, UZR will reward that player with a much higher run saved score than that player actually deserves based on the real difficulty. As a result, it seems like some of the high defensive scores might be really due to the managerial positioning, rather than actual defensive prowess. I guess what I'm saying is Ben Zobrist is overrated by Fangraphs.

Jay Jaffe: Here's a solution: look at other metrics besides UZR. Don't take any one fielding metric as gospel, particularly for less than a full season of data - ideally, look at three seasons worth if you can.

Silv (NY, NY): Dodgers 6-1, Kemp and Kershaw picking up right where they left off in 2011, Magic grinning like the Cheshire Cat at home games, new ownership, no more McCourts...if I ask nicely, will you promise not to wake me?

Jay Jaffe: Playing the Padres and Pirates certainly helps, but that doesn't mean there isn't reason for some optimism in Dodgerland. The one thing that has me most hopeful is the performance thus far of Chad Billingsley, particularly the 15/1 K/BB ratio in 14.1 innings. If he could rebound from an off 2011 to get back to where he was in 2008-2010, that would be a significant upgrade.

BD (DC): With Mike Morse on the shelf for 6-8 weeks, should the Nats consider accelerating Bryce Harper's timetable?

Jay Jaffe: I don't think they should push him forward too much. He's got a lot to learn about playing center field, and still has adjustments to make to upper-level pitching; let's not forget he hit just .256/.329/.395 after being promoted to Double-A last year, and he's just 6-for-27 with two walks at Triple-A thus far. When he starts mashing down there, it's worth revisiting the situation, but until then, I'd keep him down. It's not like the Nats are struggling yet.

Matt (Eau Claire, WI): Can the Brewers approach last year's 96 wins with three upgrades defensively on the infield and a stable bullpen? Health of the starting rotation has to be the biggest factor, doesn't it? They were incredibly healthy last season.

Jay Jaffe: Absolutely. They were middle of the pack defensively last year, though much improved over the year before - Ron Roenicke's willingness to shift (the Brewers did so more often than any other team) appears to have been a factor, and losing Yuniesky Betancourt shouldn't hurt.

The Brewers have one of the league's strongest rotations 1-5, but they don't have much organizational depth beyond that, so yes, it's important they stay healthy. If they do, I suspect they can contend again in the NL Central.

BD (DC): You OK with the Nats letting Strasburg throw 108 pitches in his 2nd start?

Jay Jaffe: Absolutely. He wasn't struggling, and it's not unreasonable to take the training wheels off and challenge him a little bit.

michaelmcduffe (ottawa): How is it that after jerking Brandon Belt around last season and announcing that this season he would get his chance the Giants have now discovered flaws in Belt's approach (after three whole games!) that have necessitated his removal to the bench in favour of Brett Pill? They told the kid the job is his...what has changed?

Jay Jaffe: in retrospect it seems clear that the Giants questioned his approach even last year - they're just more vocal about talking about it publicly now as a means of justifying their decisions. It doesn't mean they're wrong, either, but with that offense, I think you have to take the chance and find out with some on-the-job training whether he needs to evolve his approach significantly.

myshkin (Santa Clara): Could you tell us a bit about the people at BP who never have a byline?

Jay Jaffe: We couldn't do what we do at BP without a whole lot of people behind the scenes. Colin Wyers you know about, but elsewhere on our technical side, Rob McQuown has added some great tools for internal and external use, and folks like Dan Turkenkopf and Bradley Ankrom (who's now writing for us as well) have been particularly helpful as well. Plus we just added a whole new crop of interns who are about to introduce their talents to us and hopefully to you at some point as well.

Snakes (Philly): Any help on the horizon for the woeful Phillies' offense??

Jay Jaffe: Sure. Scott Podsednik has got this one.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): I actually thought Damon was a decent fit for the Morse-less Nats but they missed that boat. Any other hidden free agents out there that might bring more with the bat than DeRosa and Chad Tracy?

Jay Jaffe: On an NL club, Damon's defense would have been more exposed, but he's perhaps at least better out there than Vlad or Matsui, and I think he could have helped somewhat. I have to think there are better players floating around out there than DeRosa or Tracy - I bet Brandon Allen, who was just DFA'd, could help - but it's more likely that they're stashed on somebody else's Triple-A roster than free agents at the moment.

WisconsinRob (Madison): We're having a Twitter Debate: Josh Beckett's likely cause of death, when the day finally comes: Hot Chicken Grease or Blisters? Thoughts?

Jay Jaffe: I'm not a fan of Beckett's, but speculating on the cause of any player's death is too morbid for my tastes.

That said, I do think his soulpatch could get caught in a thresher someday, so he may want to reconsider his personal grooming options.

will.I.ain't (roaming): How much will the Rockies limit their pitchers this year? How will pitch in September? They have the young, Juan Nicasio, Drew Pomeranz, and Chacin. They have the old in Jamie Moyer.

Jay Jaffe: I'd bet that Pomeranz, who threw about 120 innings across four levels last year, will be capped around 150-160, and Nicasio maybe just a bit higher. I'd be surprised if Moyer makes it through the year, at least in the rotation, and I think it's important to remember that they have Jorge de la Rosa coming back from Tommy John surgery at some point this summer.

I don't think it's going to matter particularly how well they pitch in September, as they won't be contending. Their offense is mediocre even in a division that defines offensive mediocrity, and Jim Tracy is more hindrance than help when it comes to running a bullpen.

BR (NYC): Your prediction for Trout getting back into the Angels lineup? Who does he replace, when, & why?

Jay Jaffe: I'll say he's up by June 15 due to an injury, but that he's going to have to play his way into pushing somebody else out of a job once they're healthy. And I'm not 100 percent sure that person is Vernon Wells.

Greg (america): How about a manager-less ball club? let the players make group decisions or have a coaches troika?

Jay Jaffe: Why? I don't think that having no manager is better than having one - for better or worse, somebody has to be accountable to the players, the higher-ups and the public, and there's absolutely no evidence that decentralizing in this situation will gain any advantage. A coaches troika is going to be like a bullpen-by-committee, something which receives so much scrutiny it becomes more trouble than it's worth.

ParklandTrojan (Pennsylvania): As Omar Vizquel enters his 24th season, is he worthy of the HOF?

Jay Jaffe: Nope. He's such a below-average hitter (.244 True Average) that it eats into his overall value considerably, and despite the Gold Gloves we have him at just ~11 FRAA for his career. He's not Ozzie Smith, Part Deux by any stretch of the imagination any more than Juan Pierre is Rickey Henderson, Part Deux.

Bill Simmons (Grantland Office at LA Live): Is it too early for me to give up on the Red Sox? With the Bruins and Celtics in the playoffs, my free time is limited.

Jay Jaffe: I hear there are strippers in Vegas now, Bill. Might want to see how that works.

Patrick B. (New York): So, the Angels? I know, SSS. But I think people were way too quick to say their offense was solved with Pujols and Morales. And that bullpen, yeesh.

Jay Jaffe: Given a reasonable sample size, Pujols, Morales and eventually Mike Trout are going to provide a considerable upgrade on last year's offense, which was 10th in the AL in scoring. And while the bullpen may not look impressive, few managers have shown better skill at handling a bullpen year in and year out than Mike Scioscia. Don't count them out just yet.

Andrew Stoeten (drunkjaysfans.com): While most people say Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball, am I crazy to think he's only a borderline Hall Of Famer right now?

Jay Jaffe: Given that we've seen just one starter get into the Hall with less than 300 wins over the past 20 years, I don't think you're crazy to say that at all. Halladay's at 190, and I think he's going to have to push well into the 240-250 range to satisfy the traditionalists. It helps that there's going to be a whole wave of non-300 win pitchers coming along (Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling) who are pretty fair candidates in their own rights, with considerable hardware and postseason resumes of their own. I think he gets there, but he's not a lock.

Bill (New Mexico): Being one with an eye to history, you might remind Greg (america) of what happened about fifty years ago when the Cubs tried to do without a manager and rotate duties among the coaches. I enjoyed it immensely and found it highly entertaining. Then again, I'm a Cardinals fan.

Jay Jaffe: Excellent point, Bill. Beyond future Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo (man, do I love typing that), it didn't help that those Cubs teams weren't so talented; they went 61-90 and 59-103 in the two years they did it, 1961-1962. They did post an 82-80 record in 1963 once Bob Kennedy emerged as the "head coach," though it helped that Santo and Williams developed into stars, and their pitching took a step forward. Wikipedia has a lot to say about the situation, but I haven't vetted that info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_of_coaches

BD (DC): Please suggest a micro brew to drink tonight while watching Jordan Zimmerman and the Nats cruise. Not in a hoppy mood.

Jay Jaffe: Not sure if you can get Six Point (brewed in Brooklyn) where you are but their Sweet Action is a fantastic cream ale. Really enjoyed Harpoon's Dark the couple times I've had it in recent weeks. Find me on Untappd (jay_jaffe) for a ton of other recommendations - I tend towards dark beers, brown ales, porters and stouts there rather than IPAs.

tommybones (brooklyn): Watching the Yanks/Angels game and Arod just homered. Reminded me of the time he hit three homers in a game vs. the Angels and one Arod-hating Yankee fan ripped him because the 3rd homer came in a "blowout" and he needs to hit them in the clutch! Good to see the fanbase has lightened up a bit in regard to their 3rd baseman in recent years.

Jay Jaffe: I was at that three-homer game! The homers came off Bartolo Colon, who he completely owned. Wrote about it here: http://www.futilityinfielder.com/wordpress/2005/04/a-night-to-remember.shtml

As to the fanbase lightening up with regards to him, I still think he takes far more grief than is merited, but with a World Series ring, the pressure has lessened at least somewhat.

Drew (Vancouver): Any chance we see a MLB team in Vancouver in the next 20 years?

Jay Jaffe: A chance? Yes. A good chance? I'm not so sure. The fact that they couldn't hold onto an NBA team doesn't bode all that well.

Wendy (Chicago): Goose Island... great Chicago beer!!! Is NYC known for any brews?

Jay Jaffe: Brooklyn Brewery has been putting out a quality line of beers for a long time; their lager and Pennant Ale are quite popular. Six Point is a relative newcomer that just started selling retail (16 oz cans!) last year, with Sweet Action, Crisp Lager and Righteous Rye their best offerings. Kelso is another excellent Broolyn brewery; I love their Nut Brown Lager. Blue Point (from Long Island) has a Toasted Lager that's a great go-to. Captain Lawrence makes a good line, with Liquid Gold (pale ale) probably my favorite. Tons of other good NY breweries, too.

Christopher (Tennessee): In defense of Matt Wieters, what constitutes a "star," exactly? How many WARs is that? Because if Wieters plays this year just a tiny bit better than last year, that's another Brian McCann.

Jay Jaffe: Wieters has one good year as an above-average player under his belt; last year he was worth 3.4 WARP, via a .266 True Average and slightly above-average defense in his age 25 season. Brian McCann is 28 and has five seasons out of six of at least 3.5 WARP and a .266 TAv under his belt, with an average of 4.0 WARP. Year in and year out, he delivers that kind of value. THAT is a star. If Wieters can develop into a consistent 3-4 win player, we can call him that, too, but he's got to maintain that level.

Bootsy (Mexico): Who would win in a WWE Steel Cage Match between Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law?

Jay Jaffe: I don't understand why people are so obsessed over questions like this - they get asked all the time on Twitter and chats. Both are outstandingly knowledgeable prospect experts who are tremendously accessible and have great breadth beyond baseball, and both have helped a whole lot of people at BP and elsewhere in this industry, myself included.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD): Tell BD in DC that they certainly do sell Six Point in the area, as I've got one Righteous Ale left in the fridge earmarked for the first inning of the JZimm start. Ok, it's for batting practice.

Jay Jaffe: Duly noted. Glad to hear the Six Point empire is expanding its reach.

Jerome (T Hills): Good chat. Over the last 15 - 20 years, who are some of your favorite players to go to the ballpark and see play and why?

Jay Jaffe: Some of them are obvious - warts and all, I'm thrilled that I've gotten to see Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as often as I have over the years - both have provided some incredible moments. Mariano Rivera, of course. I'm lucky to have seen Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson relatively late in their careers. Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Randy Johnson were pretty special because the Mariners were a favorite before I came to New York, and a common point of reference for me and my brother. Manny Ramirez, when he was still an Indian, was a lot of fun. Jim Thome was a beast who seemed to homer every time he came to town.

Going further back, I'm thrilled I got to see Fernando Valenzuela pitch in person, even if it was only spring training. Likewise for seeing Reggie Jackson in spring training - both were huge parts of my childhood and adolesence. My first regular season major league game was Roger Clemens vs. Nolan Ryan in 1989 (read about it in today's column). That was incredibly special in retrospect because Ryan always meant a great deal to me.

I'm sure I've forgotten somebody, but that's a good start.

BD (DC): Charlie- I am a Kensington man, where do you suggest for the Six Point? Jay- Believing in Ian Desmond's hot start?

Jay Jaffe: I'm not a huge Desmond believer, don't think he can stick at the top of the order at least, as OBP has never been one of his skills.

Blake (SF): Do you think the Yankees' self-imposed budgetary austerity, by their own standards, survives the trading deadline?

Jay Jaffe: The austerity has to do with getting to $189 million for 2014 - they're not going to do much in the way of long-term deals besides extending Robinson Cano and perhaps Curtis Granderson before then. They have plenty of resources to take on big salaries for the remainder of the season if needs arise, though it's tough to envision exactly what that would entail right now.

Lighting round. Three more.

Aiden (Calgary): Jay, besides baseball, do you watch/follow any other sports?

Jay Jaffe: since I started writing about baseball year-round, not so much. The demise of the Utah Jazz as a powerhouse has diminished my enjoyment of basketball, the concussion stuff has sapped my enjoyment of baseball, and I can never find enough time for hockey. The one thing that keeps me glued to my set is the Winter Olympics - I love all the skiing events, short-track speed skating, snowboarding, hockey, etc.

Quentin (Montgomery): I'm a Mauer owner that's acquired Avila because... well you know why. Where does Avila stand amongst catchers? I understand the BABIP issues, but he's a real player, right?

Jay Jaffe: Absolutely. I don't think he's going to put up 6.5 WARP again, but if he's good for half of that, he's probably a top-five catcher.

cooldude (Mpls): Do you worry that mustaches have gotten trendy? Gotta zig when everybody else zags, right?

Jay Jaffe: Mustaches don't ever go out of style.

Jay Jaffe: Okay folks, thanks so much for spending some of your afternoon with me! Enjoy the start of the season, but don't take those small sample sizes too seriously.

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