Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 1/11/17

12:01
CamdenWarehouse: How has the response to the Ad Free Membership been?

12:03
Dave Cameron: Really good. We continue to be really happy with how the community has responded, both to our basic membership and our ad-free option. We look forward to being around for a long time, and you guys are helping make that possible. A sincere thank you to everyone who has joined.

12:04
NatsFan: Two questions:

1) Are the Nats the best possible fit for Chris Coghlan? (Lefthanded insurance for Werth and Zimmerman while also being middle infield depth)

2) Is this the first time you’ve thought about Chris Coghlan this offseason?

12:04
Dave Cameron: I think Seth Smith was the best fit, but Brandon Moss would work too. Not sure you want Coghlan playing 2B much anymore.

12:04
Dave Cameron: And yes, I had forgotten he existed until 15 seconds ago.

12:04
The Average Sports Fan: If the Rockies are really a contender. Don’t they make the most sense for Archer? Missing bats seems like the best way to survive in Coors.

12:05
Dave Cameron: He throws a lot of breaking balls, and breaking balls don’t break as well at altitude.

12:05
Charlie: At this point, do you think the Mets picking up Jay Bruce’s option was a mistake?

12:05
Dave Cameron: Yes.

12:05
Dave Cameron: But, they didn’t know for a fact they were going to get Cespedes back when they had to make the choice. So, to be fair to them, we have new information that they didn’t have.

12:06
CamdenWarehouse: Do you think the BBWAA will take away Chass’s vote?

12:06
Dave Cameron: No, of course not.

12:06
Zach: If a team is using taxpayer money to fund a stadium, do you think they should be required to open the entirity of their financial records to the public?

12:06
Dave Cameron: I’d rather taxpayer’s just not fund stadiums.

12:07
Brendon: Do you have a HOF vote? If not, when will you get one?

12:07
Dave Cameron: I do not. I think I’m on year four of my BBWAA membership, so I would theoretically get one in six more years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rules for HOF voting were changed before I got a vote, though.

12:07
Ned Ghost: Does Greg Holland’s 2 yr with opt out make sense for any team?

12:08
Dave Cameron: Depends on the price. If he wants $10M per year or something, no; you’re betting $20 million on the hope you get one good year. If he’ll take $5 million for the first year and $8M for the second year or something, then okay, at least there’s upside there.

12:10
Harry: Agree or Disagree? Pirates should deal McCutcheon at the deadline to clear a spot for Meadows.

12:10
Dave Cameron: Depends entirely on variables unknown at this point. If they’re in the race, no way. If they’re not in the race, is Cutch actually playing well?

12:10
Ed in Iowa: Sportin’ my fancy new ad-free membership, woot-woot! Two questions, 1) Favorite Elephant and Piggie Book? I’ll go with, You Have A Bird On Your Head, and 2) If we add up all the WAR at the end of the year how close does it actually come to 990? And if it doesn’t does that mean you reassess what constitutes replacement level? Whoops, that was three questions.

12:12
Dave Cameron: We don’t have any Elephant and Piggie books; should I check them out? Our current favorite is How I Became a Pirate.

WAR is set at 1,000 WAR per 2,430 games, so in any full season, there will be 1,000 WAR. If there is a strike-shortened year or something, there will be fewer, but other than that, replacement level is fixed.

12:12
Harry: Does Nathan Karns have the ability to be a high leverage reliever?

12:12
Dave Cameron: It sure looks like it, but there are questions about whether he’s interesting in making the conversion.

12:13
Harry: Mariners have made a lot of moves this offseason, will they be better than the Stros and the Rangers?

12:13
Dave Cameron: They’re well behind Houston heading into the season, about even with Texas.

12:13
Q-Ball: Great article yesterday Dave on the slugger market! In that context, is the Monty for Vogelbach trade regrettable for Seattle? Assuming Smith could take Vogelbach’s role, wouldn’t a Monty/Smith combo be much better than Gallardo/Vogelbach?

12:13
Dave Cameron: I’m not sold on Montgomery as a starter.

12:14
Erik: Is the supposed collapse of the slugger market really just the collapse of the not-very-good-player market? It seems as though teams would rather try to find players internally who might put up 0-1 WAR while making the league minimum (and who have a chance to break out and be better than that) rather than pay someone even $5 million to put up 0-1 WAR.

12:15
Dave Cameron: Except lots of +0 to +1 WAR players have gotten exactly the kinds of contracts they’ve always gotten, because those useful role players aren’t nearly as easy to find as people think. The only guys who aren’t getting paid for being above replacement level are corner sluggers.

12:15
ryan: current WAR models use average, but is it possible to define replacement level defense at each position?

12:16
Dave Cameron: There’s no such thing as replacement level offense or replacement level defense. The amount of offense or defense required to meet replacement level depends on the amount of the other part of the game you’re contributing at.

12:16
Ned Yost: One of your arguments against the Astros trading Quintana was that someone like Bautista would be a bigger upgrade over Aoki than Quintana would be over Musgrove, which is understandable. Quintana is projected for 4.2 WAR currently, however, last year he played in front of a bottom 5 defense and pitch framing battery, and likely will do so again on the White Sox if he stays in Chicago. The Astros, on the other hand, feature what likely will be an excellent defense (2nd last year in DRS) and a veteran, effective framer and game manager with McCann. Couldn’t 4.2 WAR be underselling his potential with a change of scenery?

12:17
Dave Cameron: Because our WAR is based on FIP, the quality of the defenders behind him has no impact on that number. The change in catchers could help his numbers, but realistically, it’s the same boost that any other pitcher would get, and you shouldn’t give that credit to Quintana.

12:18
Jaysfan: Who says no Stroman for Cargo?

12:18
Dave Cameron: Well, considering that CarGo has basically no real trade value as an average-ish player making $20M on a one year deal, I’d think the Jays would say no even if they had to give up just a Stroman jersey without Stroman in it.

12:19
Erik: Should the Phillies’ inability to move Jeremy Hellickson cast any doubt on their ability to move Clay Buchholz, if he rebounds enough to be worth selling? It almost seems as though they might actually want Clay Buchholz, which is worrisome.

12:19
Dave Cameron: There are industry rumors that they had a deal for Hellickson that got scuttled at the last minute. That’s probably not the kind of thing that we should count on happening every year.

12:20
Zonk: I wanted to wait and see what other moves happened, but so far I don’t get the Rockies. Instead of Ian Desmond, why not spend $5 mil on Chris Carter for 1B, who would hit like 50 bombs in Coors, and spend the other $65 mil or so on some pitching? Help me out, Dave.

12:20
Dave Cameron: No one understands the Desmond signing.

12:21
Zonk: Is Jose Deleon a reasonable return for Brian Dozier? Are the Twins being too cute here?

12:21
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I think Minnesota is making a mistake. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-twins-should-take-jose-de-leon-while-they-can/

12:21
Q-Ball: The Giants are a contending team. They aren’t going to roll with Nunez at 3B, are they? Do they think he’s going to repeat his career year last year? Why not make a run at Todd Frazier?

12:22
Dave Cameron: Todd Frazier will still be available in May or June if he’s not hitting then.

12:23
JT: Which team is more screwed, the Twins or the A’s? The twins rebuild has gone so slowly and all of their prospects look like busts, they need to tear down again but this time they don’t have anything to sell. The A’s have a meh farm, a mediocre team, cheap ownership, no stadium, and they are losing their revenue sharing

12:24
Dave Cameron: I don’t agree that all the Twins prospects look like busts, or that they need to tear down. They aren’t ready to win yet, but there’s still some young talent there that could improve. The A’s definitely need some resolution on their stadium situation.

12:24
Doug: Would it make sense for the Red Sox to jump in on Bautista/Trumbo/Napoli if the market for those guys continues to tank?

12:24
Dave Cameron: I think they’re close to the luxury tax, and ownership doesn’t want to pay it.

12:24
mike: This offseason has been a huge letdown for BlueJay fans. I give mgmt. the benefit of the doubt based on their success in Cleveland and the performance of 2016 team, but what can they pull out of their hat to improve the everyday lineup?? Right now the OF is awful, bullpen is questionable….

12:25
Dave Cameron: Re-sign Bautista and everything is fine.

12:25
Bleh: Who’s your biggest “he’s gonna surprise a lot of people with how good he is” guy this year?

12:25
Dave Cameron: Mitch Haniger.

12:25
silvpak: JM Fernandez a legit fallback/alt option at 2b (be it him alone or with Kike) if the Dozier/DeLeon+ deal really doesn’t go through?

12:25
Dave Cameron: I asked Eric about him the other day, and the report was… not great.

12:26
Dave Cameron: If anyone in MLB thought he was a capable starting 2B in MLB, he would have gotten more than $200K.

12:26
Guest: Just found out about Ad-Free Membership from this chat. Something I’ve been asking about for a while. I read every day – but was a bit detached during the holidays and must have missed the announcement.

12:27
Dave Cameron: We’re going to be better about promoting this, so let’s take this opportunity to link to the announcement and encourage anyone who missed it over the weekend to sign up. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/introducing-ad-free-membership/

12:29
Dave Cameron: The interesting thing about ad-free membership is that it doesn’t just help ensure that we can be around for a while, but if we reach critical mass in ad-free members, it can actually improve the types of content we can provide. Right now, we’re still somewhat subject to writing about what’s popular, because traffic generates our revenues. If you’d like to see more in-depth deep dives on pieces that might not have as wide an appeal, but would be of specific interest to devoted baseball nerds, moving our revenue model to ad-free subscribers would allow us to do just that.

12:29
Dave Cameron: So, yeah, we’d love to get to the point where we had enough ad-free members that we didn’t have to worry about a piece’s wider popularity. And we think the site would simply be better for you guys as well.

12:30
Dave Cameron: So sign up, tell your friends to sign up, and help FanGraphs remain a place for interesting, insightful baseball commentary for a long time.

12:31
Craner: Toronto radio says that Vlad Jr was the start to a Cutch deal. Would you make that move?

12:31
Dave Cameron: The Pirates aren’t trading McCutchen for a guy who is six years from the big leagues.

12:31
Andrew Friedman: How do I get Profar? Bellinger or De Leon 1 for 1?

12:31
Dave Cameron: He isn’t worth anything close to that.

12:33
Sir Nerdlington: Why isn’t the arbitration process able to keep up with how value is created in the sport? Seems easy enough to just argue over the WAR components. Or even to automate the process. Seems like every year we hear some riff of ‘we can’t change bullpen usage (or other activity) because saves are what’s valued in arbitration.’

12:34
Dave Cameron: There’s not much incentive for the player’s side to agree to changes in the arbitration process. Teams are currently much better about using more modern data to value players than most agents are, and a switch to arguing about these kinds of numbers would likely lead to MLB teams winning a lot more cases until the representatives catch up.

12:34
Reptar: Early in the decade the Brewers were the epitome of a Stars ‘n Scrubs team. Now they have morphed into an Average At Every Position squad. Is this just a fun fact or part of a deliberate plan for Milwaukee to contend soon in a ’14-’15 Kansas City kind of way?

12:35
Dave Cameron: I think they’re mostly just accumulating value, and not caring particularly where it comes from right now. When they reach the point of being contenders, they’ll consolidate some of this depth into better players.

12:36
Erik: Why do I never hear about a team’s budget surplus carrying over into next year? For example, it’s more common to read that the Phillies should use their cash to take on bad contracts along with prospects. But is that really better than hiding it under the mattress and using it to run a higher payroll on their next good team?

12:37
Dave Cameron: MLB teams run their finances on a fiscal year basis, and don’t carryover balances from one year to the next.

12:37
Dave Cameron: It’s pretty easy to argue this is an inefficiency, and that teams should run multi-year budgets that fluctuate, but at this point, no ownership group is willing to give that kind of freedom to their baseball ops department.

12:38
asabin: Travis Sawchik is doing a baller job so far.

12:38
Dave Cameron: Yeah, Travis is great. We’re really excited about having him here, and think he’s going to do great things at FanGraphs.

12:39
JOE: I realize Jay Bruce isn’t very good. But, why not put him at 1B, where maybe “MAYBE” he could have some defensive value as opposed to none in the OF? He seems athletic enough to do it.

12:39
Dave Cameron: He’s not really any better of a hitter than Duda, and he’d be learning a new position.

12:40
afnj: I’ve been a Jays season ticket holder since 2008. This offseason is making me want to abandon ship through their poor decisions. Would you say it’s time for Jays fans to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?

12:41
Dave Cameron: I don’t love the Morales signing, but they actually got lucky that Encarnacion turned them down; that deal wasn’t going to turn out well.

12:41
Dave Cameron: If they end up with Bautista on a discount, they’ll be better off.

12:41
Dooduh: Let’s try this again…. why would Glasnow + Bell + 3rd prospect not be enough for the ChiSox to pull the trigger for Quintana? That is a strong package and there’s little reason to believe they are getting any more than that… and holding him accepts risk of poor performance impairing his value. They are not going to get Meadows by holding out any longer. This has to be just a matter of time, no..?

12:42
Dave Cameron: I think Pirates fans are a lot higher on Glasnow than non-Pirates fans. The command is terrible and the stuff isn’t that special. He’s not good enough to be the primary piece in a Quintana trade.

12:43
Terry H: The best pitcher not named Kershaw this year will be____

12:43
Dave Cameron: Syndergaard, assuming health.

12:44
Electric: Andrew McCutchen a smaller return than Eaton for the pair of pitching prospects that WAS sent to CHW?

12:44
Dave Cameron: Well, McCutchen is significantly less valuable than Eaton, so yes.

12:45
ryan: re: replacement level defense, your answer makes sense, thanks. it just seems like we should use some minimally-acceptable defense metric, and that’s almost certainly different from average defense (and it’s not necessarily less than average).

12:45
Dave Cameron: We’re not assuming any kind of defense in replacement level. Replacement level is a combination of offense and defense, and those move with each other.

12:45
Dave Cameron: It’s a sliding scale.

12:46
Sterling Malory Chris Archer: Can you drop any hints of awesome things FG plans on doing this year?

12:47
Dave Cameron: Well, if you’re an Effectively Wild listener, you’ve already heard the news that Jeff Sullivan is joining Ben Lindbergh as co-host on that podcast and it’s coming to FanGraphs. That’s pretty neat.

12:47
Dave Cameron: There’s also going to be some cool stuff relating to team pages that you’ll like.

12:47
ThePuck: For clarification, do you believe De Leon, by himself, is a reasonable return for two years of Dozier at his price?

12:47
Dave Cameron: Yes.

12:48
Dave Cameron: Think of it this way; if you were the Twins, and you already had De Leon, would you swap him for Dozier?

12:48
Dave Cameron: I think the answer is pretty clearly no.

12:48
The Shingo Method: if the dozier to the dodgers doesnt work out would they look to trade for frazier and move turner to 2b? i am hesitant because if they liked frazier they could have had him last offseason (although at that time there was no where to play him)

12:48
Dave Cameron: No, Turner’s time at 2B is over.

12:49
Chaps: Going back to your article about the Astros, do you think there’s some “critical price” that’s keeping the Astros from going after Bautista, or do you think that they feel that they’re content with their outfield options going forward?

12:50
Dave Cameron: Sounds like they’re still mostly focused on pitching.

12:51
A. Reitz: Explain to me please how Cargo has no trade value…would love to hear you back that up. Since 2010 he’s been one of the best offensive OF’s in baseball. Steamer projects another 30+ HR’s this year w/ a wOBA of 360. Putting him 6th among all OF’s. Go ahead…

12:52
Dave Cameron: Park effects are a thing. Gonzalez’s three year wRC+ numbers: 83, 114, 108. He’s not that much better of a hitter than Mark Trumbo at this point, and you can see how much interest Trumbo is generating as a free agent.

12:53
Jason: The fact that there isn’t much of a market for Trumbo is an indication of… A) greater focus on value of defense B) decline in value of HR due to overall HR output C) obviously some combination of the two

12:54
Dave Cameron: C, with draft pick compensation and a crowded slugger market thrown in.

12:54
Pie: Do y’all expect the ad-free membership to provide more revenue than the basic membership per user, or did you set the price point so that they’re basically even?

12:55
Dave Cameron: We set the price point for ad-free as close as we could to what we think will keep us revenue-neutral in terms of lost advertising revenue from people switching to ad-free.

12:56
Matt: Not a question but a suggestion: my favorite books to read to my kids are by Julia Donaldson. Popular titles include The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and The Snail and the Whale.

12:57
Dave Cameron: I’ll check those out. I’m definitely tiring of Elmo…

12:58
Justino: What about Montgomery being a starter, specifically, are you not sold on? Most of the numbers look decent, albeit small sample.

12:58
Dave Cameron: His command stinks.

12:59
Brian: Dave, a lot has been made of the uptick in home runs this past year but no one knows why. Is it possible that with new launch angle data, teams have found more optimal swing paths for their players, especially the lighter hitting players? Has anyone done a study on this yet?

12:59
Dave Cameron: Anything is possible, but keep in mind that teams have had HITF/x data for a long time now; we’re just now getting launch angle in the public realm due to Statcast, but this isn’t new information for teams.

1:00
Dave Cameron: There’s no real reason to think that players figured out they should elevate the baseball because the public got their hands on Statcast data.

1:00
The Hamburglar: Where should I vacation in The Outer Banks this year? First time ever going

1:01
Dave Cameron: Depends entirely on your age, group, and interests. We took our honeymoon in Ocracoke, and went to Duck twice, but we were always mostly interested in quiet/calm/relaxing trips, and for the trips to Duck, the ability to have the dog off leash on the beach year round was a big attraction. If you’re not taking a dog and you want some nightlife or more “things to do”, you’re probably better off in one of the bigger towns.

1:01
Bill G: Dave, I have 3′ of standing snow down in SE Bend. How much do you have?

1:02
Dave Cameron: We’re probably a little over 3 feet. Took the dog to our neighborhood field for some running, and It was thigh deep.

1:02
Dave Cameron: This is just so much snow.

1:03
jpg: Well how bad does defense have to be for it to be “replaceable”? Say -5 UZR? That seems bad but not horrifically so. A -10 UZR? I think that’s what he’s getting at?

1:03
Dave Cameron: Around -20 UZR is when teams start looking to move a guy an easier position.

1:03
Guest: Can you drop any hints of decidedly terrible things FG plans on doing this year?

1:03
Dave Cameron: We’re going to keep Carson on payroll.

1:03
Ron LeFlore: Did I miss something? I haven’t seen much stuff from Jeff Sullivan lately.

1:04
Dave Cameron: He’s on vacation, currently hiking Patagonia. Well, actually, I think he’s probably currently headed towards an airport, since he flies back home tomorrow. He’ll return for his chat on Friday, and then should resume normal writing next week.

1:04
Dave: Can you explain the difference between OPS+ and wRC+?

1:04
Dave Cameron: OPS (and OPS+) treat OBP and SLG as equals, when they aren’t: OBP is more valuable than SLG. wOBA (and wRC+) correct for this, and correctly weight OBP relative to SLG.

1:05
Okra: Love the site, just bought a membership. One ask – could you guys please add an “averages” option and info for the batted ball section of player pages? Would be very helpful. I have a hard time remembering what the league average is for things like Oppo%, Pull%, LD%, Hard%, etc. Thanks!

1:05
ThePuck: I don’t think it’s that simple.The Twins and the Dodgers are in much different places and in much different financial categories. The Twins are in rebuild mode, with a horrible roation so De Leon is more valuable to them than Dozier for two years. The Dodgers are in win now mode trying to get better than the Cubs and Nats. Dodgers already have with a strong rotation but a weak 2B option when trying to compete with Cubs. Dozier holds more value right now, for the Dodgers, than De Leon does for them.

1:06
Dave Cameron: Agreed, which is why the Dodgers should make that trade.

1:06
Dave Cameron: But I think the Twins are making a mistake holding Dozier for some mythical better offer, and I don’t think they’ll get more for him than De Leon at the deadline or next winter.

1:07
Dooduh: Well, Trumbo is a 1B/DH and draft pick attached. Cargo is an OF corner so that’s higher on the defensive scale plus some baserunning value…

1:07
Dave Cameron: Sure, CarGo is a little better than Trumbo. But he’s also making $20M next year. He’s simply not worth much more than that, if he’s worth that, and so you can’t trade him for someone who is worth a lot.

1:09
Andrew: Why is OBP more valuable than SLG?

1:09
Dave Cameron: Because outs are baseball’s currency, and the fewer of them you use, the more runs you’ll score.

1:10
Dave Cameron: Okay, off to do some writing. Thanks for hanging out everyone. As a reminder, Dan Szymborski’s chats are now on Monday at 2 pm eastern, so he’s going to start taking your questions in about 45 minutes.

1:11
Dave Cameron: See you next week.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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