Enjoy the platoon advantage in Jason's inaugural BP chat.
Jason Wojciechowski: Hello friend, foes, and small kittens. I have a few hours to spend with you, so let's get chatting.
Evan! (Africa!): Yoenis Cespedes, vampire hunter? Does your love take it even there?
Jason Wojciechowski: This is asking a lot. I love Yoenis Cespedes with most of my heart (I realize it's rather early for that), but he probably can't sing and Buffy's backup crew is a lot better than Cespedes's. (Except for Josh Reddick, who is Giles, obvs.)
Randy (Oakland): Are you as surprised as I am that Tyson Ross' arm is still attached to his body? He might be better though without it (he can't be worse than now)
Jason Wojciechowski: The human body is capable of many wonders, though apparently it's not capable of making Ross a good enough pitcher to stay in the big leagues. The A's optioned him to Sacramento today without even bothering to make a corresponding move. (Cespedes is apparently supposed to come off the D.L. for Friday's game.)
I don't have high hopes for Ross's career. When you don't throw strikes and the strikes you do throw aren't quality strikes, you're just asking for trouble.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): A question and a statement requiring a response: 1) Just how many cats do you have? 2) Equate each to a baseball player.
Jason Wojciechowski: I have three cats. The oldest is Joey From the Bronx. The middle one is Tami Taylor. The youngest is Archer. (Not named after the TV show, though I do love the TV show. Named after Lew Archer. Her unofficial first name is Louise.)
Joey is Manny Ramirez, who grew up for some time in Washington Heights (we were living in Inwood when we got Joey). He used to be really good at what he did (murdering creatures smaller than him), and he might have some things left in the tank, but he's mostly a mascot now.
Tami is Lance Berkman -- slow, round, and goofy, but a surprisingly effective cat for all of that.
Archer is Billy Hamilton, young, full of vigor and cockiness.
jimmy (New York): As an A's fan in New York, I still get nightmares about that stupid flip. Have you moved on yet?
Jason Wojciechowski: I have not and I never will. Mainly because Giambi was safe.
Jim (Oak town): How worried should I be about McCarthy? Injury guarantee every year?
Jason Wojciechowski: The unfortunate thing about McCarthy is that he thought some doctors had found what was wrong with his body that was causing his stress reactions (and then stress fractures) in his shoulder blade. (The pain from which he described as feeling like someone had put a knife in him. This is just one among the thousand reasons why I could not play professional sports.) That he came up with soreness in his shoulder this year could theoretically be a cascade issue or it could just be an indication that while he can throw pitches with the best players in the world, he can't throw very many of them.
Obviously there are no such things as guarantees. To make a basketball analogy, Zydrunas Ilgauskas managed six straight years of 73+ games. If that could happen, then anything can happen.
Hoot Sromboli (in your head): How do you pronounce "Wojciechowski"?
Jason Wojciechowski: I say something along the lines of voy-ch-kof'-skee
Which is not how you'll hear it said on TV in re: Gene or Steve or any number of other Wojciechowskis out there. Ignore them. Those people never asked a real live Polish person how they'd say my name. I did. (I'm probably butchering his version of it still, but my way at least SOUNDS way more authentic than "wo-juh-how-skee".)
edwardarthur (Illinois): Which one (or more) of the A's' non-hitters are closest to running out of chances?
Jason Wojciechowski: Daric Barton comes to mind. A's fans have been frustrated with him for years now, though some of that is his approach more than his actual performance. Turns out that not even followers of Team Moneyball appreciate guys who strike out because they take a lot of pitches. Me, I have a Jack Cust shirsey in my drawer, so I love the guy.
One wonders about the length of Kurt Suzuki's leash, too. He appears to be a good defensive catcher with the blocking of balls, and I don't recall him doing too badly by Mike Fast's pitch-framing studies, either, but a repeat of his 2010 year offensively might open the door for Derek Norris sooner rather than later.
Fred (LA): Favorite current baseball player and places to get donuts/burgers in LA?
Jason Wojciechowski: Right this very second, it's Josh Reddick. The power, the laser arm, the hair, the championship belt, his embrace of the fans in the right field bleachers. Can't get enough.
Donuts: Bob's at the Farmer's Market. Legendary.
Burgers: Umami Burger is sort of our staple (the Los Feliz one on Hollywood down the street from the Vista Theater is large, has beer, and is perfectly located), though I have a fondness for Pie 'n' Burger in Pasadena. Simple burger on a grilled bun, interior design that hasn't changed in 50 years. Just lovely. The pie is skippable, though.
Erica (Los Angeles): Are you married? I think you're funny on twitter.
Jason Wojciechowski: Try Josh Reddick. He's pretty good on Twitter, too.
hotstatrat (T.O.): Why has it almost always been lefty/righty platoons? Why aren't their more fastball hitter / junkball hitter platoons? or platoons based on who's pitching for their own team such as a more defensive infielder for groundball pitchers, etc. - or have there been many of those that we haven't noticed?
Jason Wojciechowski: To the extent it's not happening, it's hard to say why. BP authors have been calling for this kind of thing since before I started reading, and I'm old. It seems like an obvious thing to try.
Which makes me think, moving to the second half, that it is being done more than we realize. Of course, managers don't really platoon much at all, but when they're picking spots to give someone a rest day, there's a possibility that they're putting the bench infielder at short on the day when the junkballer is throwing and just not really mentioning it because the main reason the starter isn't starting is because it's a day off.
Not to go all-A's, but Bob Melvin did, on Opening Day Part One (the Japan version) start Eric Sogard at third base instead of theoretical starter Josh Donaldson. Felix Hernandez was on the mound, and Melvin reasoned that Sogard had more of a contact-oriented approach than Donaldson. He insisted that it was not a lefty/right issue.
JW (Winston-Salem): Are you related to the guy who played basketball for Duke? I hope not. Who are the "winners and losers", by team, with the new CBA/Draft spending caps?
Jason Wojciechowski: I am not. My go-to stat, by the way, is this, from Wikipedia: Wojciechowski "is the 15th most common surname in Poland (66,361 people) and also the third most common in Greater Poland (12,928)."
I'm hesitant to make any bold predictions about the new CBA. Teams will adjust to the new rules in different ways, and some of those ways will probably be smarter than other ways, but I don't know if I can predict who will be best at navigating those waters in the early-going.
Bill (New Mexico): Welcome to the major leagues of chat. Did you do any booking up ahead of time, to know who asks the power questions, who the pesky submitters (the ones that foul off half a dozen Qs before sneaking one through) are, and who are the easy outs? Or is a question a question and a submitter a submitter? Who was your chatting coach?
Jason Wojciechowski: There was a story today about Adrian Gonzalez mentoring Ryan Sweeney, where Sweeney talked about being the kind of hitter who doesn't really like to know much about the pitchers before he goes to bat. What they throw and where they throw it, but not more than that, like tendencies on particular counts and so forth. I'm perhaps the Ryan Sweeney of BP chats.
(If we extend the analogy, this means I'm going to give a lot of decent/adequate answers but never really hit a home-run. It also means I'm going to get hurt midway through.)
dianagram (VORGville): Do your cats share your passion for baseball? Does your wife?
Jason Wojciechowski: My cats aren't big on baseball. My wife and I do take a lot of trips to see minor-league games. We're fortunate in Southern California to have a lot of teams in relatively easy driving distance. Memorial Day weekend gave us an excuse to hit Fresno and Bakersfield, for instance. (If you've never been to Bakersfield to see the Blaze, you have to go. It has a real low-rent charm. There's almost literally not a good seat in the house, and I don't even want to imagine what the clubhouses are like, but I sort of love it.)
Romeo (Atlanta): Manny going to be called up soon? If so, will he make an impact? He's doing a whole lot of nothing in AAA.
Jason Wojciechowski: Latest word is that he won't be up Friday, and Susan Slusser, intrepid A's beat writer, thinks that means it's unlikely he'll be up this weekend at all.
Keith Law said on Baseball Today that Manny long ago lost his bat speed (I'm sure others have said the same thing, but I just listened to that podcast this morning), and that seems like a hard thing to get back at 40. It's always possible that Manny won't ever make it to Oakland at all. We must steel ourselves for this potential outcome.
Freddy (LA): Can you give us your thoughts on the Hall of Fame candidacy of a guy like McGwire? I personally think the Hall if a museum and should document the best of each era without judgment.
Jason Wojciechowski: I'm pretty well within what seems to be the internet/sabermetric/BP mainstream on the Hall. If McGwire's performance says he should be in (and he's not a slam-dunk guy, an inner-circle guy by, for instance, Jay Jaffe's JAWS method), then he should be in, and damn the steroidpedoes.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Not to make this an all A's chat, but in five years where will the A's be (both geographically and in the standings)?
Jason Wojciechowski: Oakland, and in first place by ten games.
I just don't know where they're going to move. Las Vegas? Portland? Oklahoma? I don't follow the issues as closely as the guys at http://newballpark.org/ though, so whatever I say, you should fact-check with them and where there's conflict, go with what they say.
Ron (A Purple Shade): How worried do you think I should genuinely be concerned about contraction/moving for the A's? This deal to move looks less and less likely with each passing year.
Jason Wojciechowski: I'm doubling up here, but it's intentional. I don't see contraction as a realistic possibility. The union won't like the loss of 25 jobs, for one thing. For another, the Astros just got moved into the AL West to balance out the divisions. (FINALLY.) Moving seems far more likely, and even then ... well, see above.
One (Basement): What players, when watching them, make you say, "Whoah!"
Jason Wojciechowski: This is possibly the best trolling question in the entire queue. (It's "whoa," for those wondering. The submitter knows this.)
I'll go a different way with this and say Prince Fielder. Between the swings and the fact that he is somehow not a horrifically bad athlete despite his size, he's pretty amazing.
ndb (pittsburgh): Despite the fact that he's not white, does Josh Harrison with the Pirates fit your definition of what you've called "the gritty white guy" (ie. a utility player who is rated higher than statistics would suggest based on the fact that media and fans love to root for him.) Or is he a legitimate major league starter if they find a place for him in the field?
Jason Wojciechowski: I just can't take seriously these guys with the naturally tiny strike zone (Harrison is 5'8") who don't work walks. How does this happen?
His upside is probably "useful player," though who knows if that's a question of him settling in or just a one of those dice-rolls -- you roll to save vs. crappiness and if you manage a natural 20, you get a 2-WARP player! Yay! (I have very likely mixed my D&D metaphors here. I'm sure someone will chime in to tell me.)
Robert (Santa Clara): Can you give any further comment on the state of Central Valley motels?
Jason Wojciechowski: The main thing I've learned is that you can mostly ignore internet reviews. People who leave comments on the internet are the type who tend to be bothered by prostitutes and drug dealers roaming the parking lot and motels wedged in between a highway, a park, and three cemeteries. I'm not really one of those people.
John Carter (Toronto): What are the state-of-the-art in game strategies this decade? What's new - besides the Jays shifting their thirdbaseman to shallow right instead of their second-baseman so as not to throw the middle infielders out of position against hard pulling LHB?
Jason Wojciechowski: One of the things we're seeing already that I like is the shift against RIGHT handed batters. Managers seemed to shy away from this for many years because of the first-baseman difficulties -- you can't put that guy 60 feet from the bag like you do your third baseman (or shortstop, in the Jays shift, as you mention). Teams have been going to this shift more, though.
Maybe it's just the annoyance for the OFs and/or the fact that the manager doesn't want to denigrate his players, but I've always wondered why LF and RF don't get flip-flopped depending on who is up, at least sometimes (depending on arm, etc.). How many balls in the gap have to be tracked down instead of let drop to make this worth it?
Hoot Sromboli (in pixels): "my way at least SOUNDS way more authentic than 'wo-juh-how-skee'" Agreed. When it is not obnoxious, I pronounce Paris, Rome, Milan, Venice, and Florence: "par-REE", "ROW-ma", "mee-LAN-oh", "ven-EET-see-uh", and "FEE-oh-REN-za". It sounds so much better the way it is naturally meant to be said rather than the way the first official English visitors decided it should be pronounced. Do you do that, too?
Jason Wojciechowski: The problem is that whenever I start to say a city or country like that, I feel like I'm being obnoxious, so I get self-conscious and stutter. I also don't want to discriminate and only say this for the languages I know how to pronounce things in. Saying "Pa-REE" while Americaning my way through "Gottingen" is unfair to my German friends. (Or maybe it's unfair to my French friends. That's probably it, actually.)
Paul (DC): In the Halls of BP Justice, how do groupies, err, your loyal public tell you and that other Jason (Parks) apart? Do you have call signs like Dinger, Juggs Gun, and Speed? Do you wear BP jerseys emblazoned with name and number? Or is it so obvious that by my having to even ask proves your [expletive delete] bouncers have never once let me in!
Jason Wojciechowski: We actually try to dress identically just to show how not alike we are. It's an amusing game. He's the cool customer, the guy who's been here before. The Koveian guy who does a podcast with Kevin Goldstein like it ain't no thang.
I'm the wide-eyed ingenue straight from the sticks. I'm constantly whispering things like "oh my god is that Colin Wyers, should I go say hi?" Matt Kory and I nudge each other a lot and try to discreetly point at the celebrities. "I heard that Ben Lindbergh worked for the Yankees."
I once fainted when Sam Miller nodded hello.
So yeah, we're easy to tell apart.
Tommy (Secret Volcano Lair): Favorite U.S. Supreme Court Justice–baseball player comp?
Jason Wojciechowski: I'm going with John Paul Stevens is Ian Kinsler. He was quietly the best all along while we were distracted by the flashier Hamilton/Scalia.
oira79 (San Francisco): Are you still a Billy Beane fan? I'm not anymore; the guy can't make good trades that don't involve Dan Haren. If not, do you see any way he doesn't outlive all of us as GM-for-life?
Jason Wojciechowski: I wish he'd quit shilling for ownership's desires to move to San Jose (the crying about how the A's can't compete in Oakland isn't really becoming of a man of his stature), but I'm not going to be calling for his head any time soon. Taking shots at contention hasn't worked out when he's gone for it, but I'd dispute this "good trades" point -- three years of Seth Smith for Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso is a steal, for instance.
George (New Orleans): Pusha T or Lil Wayne?
Jason Wojciechowski: R E U P
Robert (Santa Clara): On the topic of shifts, I was musing the other day on a more drastic strategy. For a hitter who tends to pull most balls to the OF, would it make sense to put your CF in his pull field? Alternately, put your LF and RF in the pull half of the outfield and have your rangy CF cover the other half?
Jason Wojciechowski: It's certainly possible that this would make sense. It would depend on the data the team has, of course, about how, exactly, the batter in question hits the balls to the various fields (angle and velocity, I mean). Arm questions are also relevant, as I alluded to before. Depending on the odds of a ball going toward the RF corner, maybe you don't want a noodle-armed guy playing right, even for one batter.
Unfortunately, it's not clear to me that we on the outside will ever have access to the kind of data that would make answering these questions for ourselves feasible.
Evan! (NYC!): Thoughts on why the love of my life, Chris Carter, isn't striking out/hitting tons of homers in the majors and when I will get to see him again in Oakland? Love your blog, you're just okay though.
Jason Wojciechowski: The existence of Quad-A players is in question, but Carter might just be that guy. His swing might just be so exploitable by major-league pitchers that his batting average, and consequently his on-base percentage, are so low as to make him unable to overcome the hurdles of being a bad defensive first baseman.
I'd love to see Carter in left field, but that's because I like hilarious things.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): Thoughts on Josh Reddick? Is he over his head? Should the A's extend him? Does his hair qualify as a mullet under international mullet specifications?
Jason Wojciechowski: The unfortunate thing about a player excelling from the moment he's traded to your team is that you haven't really paid attention to him before the trade. If Jermaine Mitchell came up from Sacramento to the big leagues and hit like Reddick has hit, I'd say "no, he's over his head" because I've followed his career a little bit for a few years. (Also because he's 27 and has a .258 TAv in AAA.) With Reddick, who knows. He has an amazing ability to foul off pitches that he has no business swinging at, which is certainly one way to go about having at-bats.
I refuse to issue a ruling on his hair because if he's got a mullet, then I'm awfully close.
dianagram (VORGville): Are you surprised at how vigorously the Giants/S.F. are opposing the A's desire to move?
Jason Wojciechowski: I'm not sure whether I'm surprised, though I probably shouldn't be -- people do a lot of things for the amount of money at stake here. If San Francisco were poised to minimize the loss of San Jose by taking over Oakland (theoretically), reaping some compensation, and also not having to subsidize the A's very existence via revenue sharing, then presumably they wouldn't be battling so hard.
Adam (Boston): How will A's fans in Oakland take it if the team does move to San Jose?
Jason Wojciechowski: I'm not sure. The closest I've ever lived to the Bay Area was two hours away, in the Monterey area, and I was a kid, so I don't know the people of Oakland and surrounding areas except via Twitter and reputation. I'm sure there'd be a sizable group who would abandon the team simply because they couldn't easily go to games anymore (traffic is a bear), but A's fans have real antipathy toward the Giants, so it's not like they'd easily switch allegiance.
Moses (Egypt): I have struck out more batters than Milone this year, but he's hanging around still with a decent ERA. Mirage or not?
Jason Wojciechowski: I'm a little concerned about the fact that he's allowing a .250 BABIP without any history in the minors of being able to suppress hits. My impression is that hitters aren't going for his nibbly stuff as much as he'd hope, and I can't imagine that will get better as the league sees more of him.
Pete (Cambell): Am i the most miserable person ever? I hate myself even
Jason Wojciechowski: My TV card is going to be taken away, but I don't actually watch Mad Men. I saw the first season on DVD a while back, but I think in my move to LA, I got off track and never picked it back up.
Pete married well, though.
Evan! (Couch!): Am I regretting trading Gio now given his success in the NL and/or what we received in return? Is this just an NL mirage? Make me feel better.
Jason Wojciechowski: Speaking of BABIP-suppression, Gio does actually have a history of this to some degree, but not to the point of the .239 mark he's got this year. Still, the strikeouts are up and the walks are down, so there's plenty of actual performance going on, too. The question is how much of that performance is a real step forward in talent. I could guess (19%) but if I had any confidence in that guess and any ability to consistently make that guess correctly, I'd have a lot fancier car than I do.
On the other side of the trade, am I a little worried about AJ Cole, who's already had to be demoted from the Cal League? NOT AT ALL WHY DO YOU ASK.
Ryan (East Jabip): Rooting for Josh Hamilton to win the Triple Crown instead of your A's love? He's pretty awesome to watch.
Jason Wojciechowski: I don't know. Rooting for RBI is weird. I don't dislike Josh Hamilton, but I wouldn't call myself a fan of his, either. It's neat to watch anyone destroy the ball the way he's done, but I'd be just as happy if he fell down and Ryan Braun or Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout or whoever you please went off for an insane month.
Evan! (Toilet!): If you had to watch one tv show before dying (assuming tv was your only option and not, say, donuts), what show/episode? Wire? FNL? BG?
Jason Wojciechowski: Either "The Body" or "Once More, With Feeling" from Buffy. The former because, hey, why not be morbid if I'm about to die anyway. The latter because duh.
mattymatty2000 (Portland, OR): I just read the following in Rob Bradford's piece at WEEI.com:
"According to BaseballAnalytics.org, the percentage of pitches called strikes that are out of the zone have risen from nine to 10 percent this season"
What do you make of that? Are you on the robot umpires bandwagon?
Jason Wojciechowski: I can't tell if "risen from nine to 10 percent" means "the rise is somewhere between nine and ten percent" or "last year it was nine percent and this year it's ten." I assume the former, because the latter seems like such a small uptick as to not even be worthy of comment.
"Out of the zone" also raises issues. Are more outside pitches being called at the expense of inside ones? That is, is this just a SHIFT in the zone rather than an actual expansion of it? This is where the Starship Troopers voice comes in with "would you like to know more?" and we all click "yes."
Oh, and no robots (yet), yes replay.
Kyle (Maine): What are the penalties for a team going over their draft pool this year?
Jason Wojciechowski: I think Wikipedia's statement of the penalties fits what I've read elsewhere https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Baseball_Draft#Bonus_pool
baseball (is not a contact sport): If Pierzynski had actually injured Zobrist the other day with a late slide-tackle into 2nd, could the refs had called him out? Thrown him out of the game? MLB suspend him after the game?
Jason Wojciechowski: I would like to think that baseball punishes actions, not outcomes, and thus differs from the nonsense that happens every year in the NBA where some large man hits a smaller large man in a way that causes them to fall funny and is thus thrown out of the game for a flagrant foul, only to see an identical hit in some other game results in no punishment because the victim happens to land on his feet.
Anthony (Long Island): If you owned Bryce Harper in a keeper league, would you ever deal him?
Jason Wojciechowski: Not for a million dollars.
Sandy (Texas): Non-baseball question. Watching the Spurs is like harmony, good old school basketball. I know you're a Lakers guy (shame on you), but you have to appreciate the beauty of their game, no? Spurs all the way this year?
Jason Wojciechowski: I certainly prefer the Spurs to all of the other options. Gregg Popovich combines being the best coach in the league with being the funniest (now that Stan Van Gundy has been fired, anyway -- if he comes back this year, Popovich slips to second-funniest), and how can you not love that? There's something about the Thunder that rubs me the wrong way, nobody likes LeBron, and I'm obviously never going to root for the Celtics.
Obnoxious (Mathlete): The rise from 9 to 10 percent from year to year is roughly an 11% increase. So, the difference between your two interpretations is so small as not to be worthy of comment [sic].
Jason Wojciechowski: Is it? A rise from 9% to 10% is very different from a rise from 40% to 43.6%, right?
Evan (New York): Continuing on the contact sport issue. There was a ton of press coverage last year after Posey went down on catchers and blocking the plate. Given some other catcher injuries this year and in past seasons, are you in favor or any kind of rule change? Or is hitting a catcher just part of the game?
Jason Wojciechowski: I don't like blocking home any more than I like fielders dropping a knee in front of second or third. I'd be completely fine with ordering fielders to stay out of the baseline, even if they're in the process of fielding the ball -- it should be incumbent on the thrower to make a throw that keeps the receiver out of the baseline, and on the receiver not to cross into the path of the runner in order to make a catch. If this results in more runs because the bags aren't blocked anymore, well, who ever complained about more runs?
oira79 (San Francisco): I grant you that Moscoso and the best-named pitcher ever have fallen apart in Colorado, but three years of Seth Smith doesn't seem worth having since the guy has a 98 OPS+ and if he ain't hitting, he ain't nothing.
Tell me what else Billy Beane has done for you lately.
Jason Wojciechowski: Alternatively, Smith has a .289 TAv, well above-average. I don't know if the difference between OPS+ and TAv in this case comes down entirely to a proper weighting of OBP vs. SLG (Smith is, admittedly, not hitting for any power so far) or if there are also disagreements about park factor and league between our numbers and Baseball-Reference. But I'd run with TAv.
I mean, even if Smith has been barely adequate this year, Beane still got a barely adequate player for two bad players. That's an upgrade.
Also: Josh Reddick for an injured closer. I'll take it.
Vito (Bronx): Where would you have drafted Correa in the 2011 draft?
Jason Wojciechowski: In not answering this question, because I have no idea what the answer is(and apologies to the three or four readers in the queue with similar questions), let me shout out how amazing Kevin Goldstein is. I'm all "I don't even know who this Correa is" and KG's all "I can answer this and questions about ten thousand other players before the rest of you have even eaten breakfast."
Noah (NY): Hey, Jason. I'm just wondering who, in your opinion, are the five scrappiest players in the majors today. Please use statistics to back up your assertions.
Jason Wojciechowski: Mark Ellis: almost died, definitely scrappy
Adam Rosales: runs real fast everywhere he goes, super scrappy
Josh Willingham: plays baseball despite having two-foot-long legs, mad scrappy
Jose Altuve: like 5'2", so scrappy
Munenori Kawasaki: has made a career out of being an Ichiro-stalker, hella scrappy
Stats are not scrappy.
Ben (California): Thanks for the chat. I think the A's should sign Moyer now that the Rockies released him. How much worse could he be than Graham God(awful)frey? And at least it would be fun, right?
Jason Wojciechowski: I am more for this than I realized I would be. I'd root pretty hard for Moyer, and it's not like it could hurt.
Jason Wojciechowski: Thanks for a great chat, friends and kittens. I have no foes left, except for that Evan! guy.