FanGraphs Chat – 1/15/14

11:43
Dave Cameron: It’s a Wednesday, so we’re chatting. Go ahead and get your questions in now.
12:00
Comment From Oren
So, a team that really needs to contend this year team really looks like they’re going to go into 2014 with Ryan Goins as their second baseman. Thoughts?
12:00
Dave Cameron: I’ll believe it when I see it. The off-season isn’t over yet, and even if they go into spring training with Goins as the favorite, that still gives them a month of watching him hit to come to their senses.
12:01
Comment From _David_
I think the question on everyone’s mind is: What do you think of Jesus Sucre and how he compares to John Buck?
12:01
Dave Cameron: Sucre is a better defender, but can’t hit. Buck has some power, but that’s about it. They’re both scrubs.
12:02
Dave Cameron: One minute: dog just stole my shoe…

12:04
Dave Cameron: Shoe successfully retrieved, but she’s in trouble maker mode, so I can’t promise I won’t have to chase her again.
12:05
Comment From Grack Zeinke
It’s the yawn part of the hot stove season…. zzzzzzzzzzzzz
12:05
Dave Cameron: I’m pretty sure the stove is just off at this point.
12:05
Comment From Chris
The projections on Adam Eaton seem to be conservative thus far… Do you see a Chicago as a benefit to him? Can he steal 30+ bags there?
12:05
Dave Cameron: League average player seems about right to me.
12:06
Comment From Brian
Jason Vargas and Paul Maholm have very similar numbers the past 3 seasons. Vargas got 4/32 and Maholm is not expected to get anything close to that. What am I missing?
12:06
Dave Cameron: Maholm has big LH/RH splits, so some teams see him as a reliever.
12:06
Comment From Grack Zeinke
you at all surprised that there haven’t been an 2Bmen traded given that Phillips, Uggla, Weeks, Franklin, Callaspo, Murphy all possibly/probably available and teams like the Jays, Yanks, Dodgers, Rox, & O’s with possible openings at 2B…?
12:07
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I think that market will eventually break open.
12:07
Comment From _David_
Do pitchers “break out” to a greater extent? It seems like it’s easier to learn a new grip or even master command of the strike zone than to gain batspeed, gain power without the tradeoffs, or learn to move quicker.
12:07
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I think it’s pretty clearly easier to take a drastic step forward as a pitcher than as a hitter.
12:07
Comment From Guest
doesn’t it feel like the dodgers are bidding against themselves for kershaw?
12:08
Dave Cameron: That’s what you do when you have sole negotiating rights over a player. Wait until he hits free agency and they’ll be bidding against everyone else.
12:08
Comment From David
What happened to the MLBPA? They used to win absolutely everything, now it seems like the owners are pretty much dictating terms. Players’ salaries as a share of total revenues is down. PED suspensions exist at the whim of the Commissioner. The Qualifying Offer is destroying the marketability of the good-not-great Free Agent. Was Weiner in over his head? Is Clark now?
12:09
Dave Cameron: I’ve seen Jonah quote the salaries/revenue numbers, but I haven’t seen any studies that prove that definitively, and I’m suspicious of the claim. The qualifying offer would have been a boon to Cruz and Morales if they were smart enough to realize that they aren’t very good. And the players want PEDs out of the game too.
12:10
Comment From Nate
With teams all waiting on Tanaka, and some of them saying “We will not be outbid!”, what’s the absolute crazy ceiling on this upcoming contract? 8/200? Demand seems quite high, and Supply says there’s only 1 to go around…
12:10
Dave Cameron: I’ve heard guesses as high as 10/200, but I can’t see it getting past $175M, honestly. It’d be nearly impossible to justify Tanaka getting the same money as Felix/Verlander.
12:11
Comment From Mets Fan
DWright is confident the Mets are substantially better. Are they?
12:11
Dave Cameron: Sure. Young and Granderson are definite improvements.
12:12
Comment From Billy Beanepole
What’s the new, new market inefficiency?
12:12
Dave Cameron: Apparently having like 15 good relievers.
12:13
Comment From A. Lane
A bit of an ideological turning test, can you explain, or attempt to explain why some fans think front loading a contract is ever a good idea?
12:13
Dave Cameron: It makes sense in leagues with strict salary caps, so a rebuilding team could essentially lend itself money for when it expects to be competitive. It doesn’t make sense in MLB, though.
12:14
Comment From _David_
Shoot down this theory: All contracts are sunk costs, and shouldn’t impact budgeting for new talent. I.e., the Angels being cash strapped shouldn’t prevent them from expanding the budget to fit a Trout extension if it will bring greater return…shouldn’t market size and place on the win curve be solely determinant of budget, rather than current/ past expenditures?
12:15
Dave Cameron: You’re ignoring the revenue constraint. Yes, a team should want to make as many positive value moves as it can, but at some point, the owner just says “no thanks, I don’t want to go into the red.”
12:15
Comment From GSon
Does being placed on the “Restricted List” officially take the obligation for payment and subsequent salary off the Lux Tax.. thereby giving the NYY’s the breathing room they need to spend on Tanaka while remaining under the threshhold?
12:15
Dave Cameron: The Yankees are at roughly $185 million right now with A-Rod off the books. They could sign Tanaka’s brother and stay under, but not Tanaka himself.
12:17
Comment From _David_
Who ends up with more WAR, Felix or Mussina?
12:17
Dave Cameron: I don’t know that I’d expect any pitcher to put up another +50 WAR from this point forward.
12:17
Dave Cameron: So Mussina.
12:17
Comment From MSW
In the next CBA, should the MLBPA (assuming they still have any semblance of a spine) try to argue for separate hearings for guilt and sentencing? Because it seemed to me that the even if A-Rod stood in Selig’s office with a syringe in his butt, his sentence was in direct violation of the JDA and the MLBPA made no attempt to argue that.
12:18
Dave Cameron: I think this was an exceptional circumstance, in that everyone hates A-Rod and wants him out of baseball.
12:18
Comment From Robert
Would Tanaka to the Angels make them a playoff team in your eyes, or still a little short?
12:18
Dave Cameron: I think they’re pretty close to a playoff team right now.
12:18
Comment From Catoblepas
How far are the White Sox from contending? The projections today are pretty (really) bleak, but they seem to be laying an alright foundation.
12:18
Dave Cameron: They are probably a couple of years away, but going in the right direction.
12:18
Comment From Joe
Where does Garza sign and for how much?
12:19
Dave Cameron: Angels, 4/50.
12:19
Comment From Jon
Which pitcher do the Blue Jays sign?
12:19
Dave Cameron: Jimenez.
12:20
Comment From Baxter
Do minor league teams get run by major league GM’s, or the coaches, or what? For example, who decides when a player is promoted to another level versus demoted, and who takes the departing players spot? It seems like a lot of work for the major league GM to run all the team affiliates as well.
12:21
Dave Cameron: GMs delegate, and have a support staff. In most organizations, that role is called the Director of Player Development or Director of Minor League Operations.
12:21
Comment From Slumpbuster
Given the scarcity of high WAR players, why do we not see an exponential curve for $/WAR? Yes, yes, all wins are equal and a win is a win. But the supply of low win players is far greater and the likelihood of a low win player outperforming their projected WAR (on a % basis is far greater). So pairing a high WAR player with a low WAR player seems like a far more efficient way of gunning for upside that two middle WAR players. Thoughts?
12:23
Dave Cameron: Because gunning for upside is simply another way of saying that you’re taking extreme risks. If you have a stars and scrubs roster that is very heavily slanted towards a few expensive stars, you’re completely screwed if those stars get hurt/suspended/underperform. See the Brewers, 2013 version.
12:23
Dave Cameron: Value is a combination of risk and reward. Focusing solely on reward is a great way to come up with a wrong valuation.
12:24
Comment From Prich
Shoes are necessary for chats because..?
12:24
Dave Cameron: I was not wearing my shoes when she stole it. She’s now tall enough and clever enough to stand on her back legs, reach up onto the stairs, and steal them off the place we moved them to because she was stealing them at ground level.
12:25
Comment From Zack
Steamer and Oliver both expect Michael Bourn to return to 3+ WAR in 2014. Would you agree with that?
12:25
Dave Cameron: Sure.
12:25
Comment From Jared ("studying" in the Library)
Who has the better season? Bruce for the Reds? or Alvarez from the Pirates? Are the fans/teams counting on a big leap into superstar category wasting their time?
12:25
Dave Cameron: I think Bruce is the better player, but both strike out too much to be stars.
12:26
Comment From Baxter
Do you think A-rod is finished in MLB? And if you had a vote, would you put him in the HoF?
12:26
Dave Cameron: Yes, yes.
12:26
Comment From juan pierres mustache
not sure if you’re the guy to ask about this, but are the autoplay streaming video/audio ads here to stay?
12:27
Dave Cameron: If you have an auto playing ad with sound on the site, take a screenshot and use the contact form to report it.
12:28
Comment From Carl
Should MLB reconsider moving the non-waiver trade deadline (July 31) to some time in August in order to give teams more time to realize they’re in or out? Why WAS July 31 established as that deadline anyway?
12:28
Dave Cameron: I wrote about this over the summer. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/its-time-to-move-the-trade-deadline/
12:28
Comment From Magic
Kershaw signs for…
12:28
Dave Cameron: Writing about that today!
12:28
Comment From Bryan Robinson
Best value free agent still out there?
12:28
Dave Cameron: Chris Capuano.
12:29
Comment From Guest
If you’re Sandy Alderson, what would you do at shortstop? Roll with Tejada? Sign Drew? Go after cheap veteran insurance?
12:29
Dave Cameron: Try to trade for Didi Gregorius.
12:29
Comment From Mark
Also, any chance of you recording a podcast or writing an article that is tailored to educating Fangraphs novices on some of the features and advanced stats available?
12:30
Dave Cameron: Yeah, i was just thinking the other day that we should probably do a refresh of some basics.
12:30
Comment From Dave
Why do you like baseball? That is, why do you work in baseball and not football or hockey or basketball? What draws you to it?
12:31
Dave Cameron: Baseball has always been my favorite sport. I liked basketball a lot growing up as well, but it’s never been quite on the same level.
12:31
Comment From _David_
Do you think the Mariners think they are one Proven Closer and decent starter away from the wildcard?
12:31
Dave Cameron: Yep.
12:31
Comment From Michael
Would Paxton, Franklin and Hicks from the M’s get Kemp from the Dodgers?
12:31
Dave Cameron: That would be a terrible trade for the Mariners.
12:32
Comment From Matt
Could the Jays be sneaky good this year? The pitching is obviously an area of concern, but given the lineup I feel as if the could be a little under the radar in the AL East.
12:32
Dave Cameron: Not sure how sneaky it would be if a team that many thought was a contender last year contends this year.
12:33
Comment From Bryan Robinson
How do you see the Mariners’ outfield shaking out this year?
12:33
Dave Cameron: Poorly.
12:33
Comment From Trey
Is it realistic to say that if the Astros land tanaka and have 3 win seasons from Springer and Singleton that they can contend for a playoff spot?
12:33
Dave Cameron: No.
12:34
Comment From Bryan Robinson
Team most likely to lose 100 games this year? Most likely to win 100?
12:34
Dave Cameron: Marlins, Red Sox.
12:34
Comment From Bruce
Is there a FG gathering at Spring Training again this year?
12:34
Dave Cameron: Yeah, it’s an annual thing.
12:34
Comment From Loren
If the Yankees release A-Rod and no one signs him, is his suspension done after 2014? I know it worked that way for Manny, but it seems like MLB has some leeway to treat A-Rod differently.
12:35
Dave Cameron: Yes, he’s suspended for 2014 only. And when the suspension ends, NYY will release him, and he’ll never play in MLB again.
12:35
Comment From Neil
Doesn’t work this way, but shouldn’t the Yankees have to count A-Rod’s AAV against the Luxury Tax? Instead of $27.5 or whatever, it should just be $24 because his deal is now about 10/248 instead of 10/275. Kind of speaks to the moral hazard.
12:35
Dave Cameron: Well, if you’re going to not count the salary, you can’t count the year either, right? So it’s 9/248, not 10/248.
12:36
Comment From Bret
I still have trouble getting over this winter’s Doug Fister trade. If you were a GM and wanted to make offers for Fister and Price, how different would the two offers be?
12:36
Dave Cameron: Not that different.
12:37
Comment From Warren ChineseBuffet
If baseball teams were stocks, whose would you buy low on now, expecting to make a big profit at the end of 2014?
12:37
Dave Cameron: Probably the Angels.
12:37
Comment From Bruce
The white sox have improved, but most of the propects they picked up are lower level. Their farm system is still pretty bad, so I dont see how they can expect to compete anytime soon
12:38
Dave Cameron: Eaton and Davidson are “lower level” prospects?
12:39
Comment From Bryan Robinson
How far is the MLB from expanding to 32 teams? What barriers exist?
12:40
Dave Cameron: I’d say a decade. The biggest hurdles are the geographic rights areas that current MLB teams have, which means that the league has to pay off owners in order to put a team in a place like Brooklyn.
12:40
Comment From Jay
re: Tanaka, given what we know and don’t know about each team’s economic situation, isn’t it quite possible that for certain teams, Tanaka is still a justifiable investment at $200 million or higher?
12:41
Dave Cameron: No, not really. You could probably sign Jimenez, Santana, and Garza for $200 million. Good luck arguing that Tanaka is worth the same as all three put together.
12:41
Comment From Stephen
Not too many players follow the recent career arc of B.J. Upton. Projections are basically pegging him to rebound to somewhat below average in 2014. How likely do you think it is that they are missing some kind of catastrophic talent loss that will not get better?
12:41
Dave Cameron: I don’t really believe in catastrophic talent loss, short of career ending injury.
12:42
Comment From DTSS
Why are ZIPS released over a period of many weeks? Is it because it takes time to run all of the players or is it staggered to generate more traffic during the offseason?
12:42
Dave Cameron: This is how Dan has always done it.
12:42
Comment From TB
Should the Pirates give up a top pitching prospect for Ike Davis?
12:42
Dave Cameron: Certainly not.
12:43
Comment From Drew
Still think Nelson Cruz ends up as the biggest landmine of the offseason? With his market seemingly limited (of course not writing off the possibility someone still grossly overpays), I could see Granderson being a worse deal.
12:43
Dave Cameron: I think teams have managed to sidestep the Cruz landmine, for the most part. His deal won’t be the worst of the winter.
12:43
Comment From Bryan Robinson
What are the chances that Mike Trout has been very luckily in terms of BABIP the last two years? It has to be considered, right? I mean either way, he’s still the best in the game. Just maybe not a 10 WAR guy going forward?
12:43
Dave Cameron: I don’t think anyone believes he’s a true talent +10 WAR guy.
12:44
Comment From The Stranger
How much does the value of a win decrease at the high end of the win curve? I can see a team like the Astros or White Sox not getting much value from a 2-3 win FA, but for top-tier teams, isn’t there still a lot of value in terms of depth and better playoff rosters?
12:44
Dave Cameron: Yeah, there just aren’t many teams that approach the diminishing returns part of the win curve.
12:45
Comment From Prich
If the Ms truly can’t find fair value in a Franklin trade, and are smart enough to not give Cruz a contract, wouldn’t the ‘smart’ method then to be: Trade Smoak, platoon Hart/Morrison/RH bat at 1B/DH, and then put Franklin at SS, and Miller in CF? We’re talking a lot of ‘what ifs’ here, but, isn’t that what ‘we’ do?
12:45
Dave Cameron: Converting Miller to CF (which he might not be able to play) so that you can stick a 2B at SS is a bad idea.
12:46
Comment From Grack Zeinke
Follow up on Tanaka to the Angles: don’t they kinda have to sign Garza or Ubaldo if they lose out on Tanaka?
12:46
Dave Cameron: Garza seems the likely choice.
12:47
Comment From Chris
Are you surprised by the apparent lack of interest in Price? Teams looking for a front line starter seemed to have clearly prioritized Tanaka over him. I know Price will eventually get paid a lot of money, but it seems teams would prefer to over pay for a player rather than give up any prospects.
12:47
Dave Cameron: I think the Price market is going to develop after Tanaka signs.
12:47
Comment From Ray
Without giving details, how many GM/front office types do you speak with on a regular basis?
12:48
Dave Cameron: I have a few friends that I talk to regularly. But it’s not like I’m calling Billy Beane to hang out on the weekends.
12:49
Comment From Guest
Speaking of ads, was browsing on my phone last week and getting tons of annoying popup dialogs, Mobi games or some crap, and there was a different one.
12:49
Dave Cameron: The mobile ad redirects to the app store are not a FG thing, they’re an internet wide thing. It’s something Apple is going to have to block.
12:50
Comment From Paul
Here’s a fun (and, to me, reasonable) “who says no”: Jason Heyward for Nick Franklin and Taijuan Walker. Only 2 years before Heyward gets paid, making his long term future in Atlanta look less and less likely. But he’d look great on the M’s the next couple years. My gut says Seattle would have to kick in more. Just a little more, or way more?
12:50
Dave Cameron: Mariners wouldn’t do it.
12:50
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
Why so sure A-Rod will never play in the MLB again? If he’s a free agent surely some team will take a chance on him. And A-Rod might want to keep playing as long as possible to push his hall of fame clock ahead.
12:51
Dave Cameron: This is Barry Bonds 2.0.
12:51
Comment From Metsox
What happens to Matt Joyce between now and Opening Day?
12:51
Dave Cameron: Spring training.
12:52
Dave Cameron: More seriously, he’s in line to be the Rays regular DH, no? So nothing, I’d imagine.
12:52
Comment From Robert
Dave, I try to keep my expectations as low as possible, but you and Jeff are talking up the Angels so much I’m starting to get a little bullish. My question is, would someone like Capuano be worth signing for them if it knocked either Skaggs or Santiago to AAA?
12:52
Dave Cameron: Santiago is better off as a reliever anyway, so yes.
12:53
Comment From Robocles
A-Rod’s expulsion: scapegoat, good riddance, or both at the same time?
12:53
Dave Cameron: Definitely both.
12:54
Comment From Dave B
Given that there is already an MLB team based outside the US, and there is a massive population of highly talented players in the Caribbean and South America, why doesnt MLB have teams there?
12:54
Dave Cameron: You don’t go where the players are, you go where the money is.
12:54
Comment From Scott
Which will (be the worst of the winter) in your opinion?
12:54
Dave Cameron: Right now, I’d lean towards Choo.
12:55
Comment From Guest
Who takes a 1 yr deal Cruz, Morlaes or both?
12:55
Dave Cameron: Neither. I’d guess both sign for 3/30ish.
12:56
Comment From Bkgeneral
Marlins over Astros for 100 losses? Feldman and Fowler help that much?
12:56
Dave Cameron: The Astros actually have some decent pieces. The Marlins have Stanton, Fernandez, and 23 piles of suck.
12:57
Comment From DTSS
When will a team realize it can be more productive by having its players bunt against the shift? Why are teams not doing this?
12:57
Dave Cameron: Most players are terrible bunters.
12:58
Comment From Brandon
Would your trade value series be a better offseason exercise? I’d think so – less busy time and more data for players.
12:58
Dave Cameron: How would I have more data by doing it now versus doing it in July? I’d have different data, but it’s always going to be a snapshot.
12:58
Dave Cameron: And the series runs the week of the All-Star Break. I don’t think there’s a less busy time in baseball than that.
12:59
Comment From Dave B
Following up on the Front Office Friends question – how do journalists get their “sources” to divulge info, and why do they divulge it? Are there favors done by journalists, or is it simply networking and getting lucky?
12:59
Dave Cameron: It’s all quid pro quo. You do me a favor, I’ll do you a favor.
12:59
Comment From Barry B
Does Fangraphs have a Joint Drug Agreement? Has anyone ever violated it and been suspended?
12:59
Dave Cameron: Have you ever met Eno?
1:00
Dave Cameron: (note: that’s a joke, and Eno has never been suspended from FG)
1:00
Comment From JayT
You usay that you think A Rod is done in the MLB. Do you think the Yankees will just drop him with three years and $60 million left on his contract? And if they do that, you don’t think anyone will take a league minimum flyer on him?
1:00
Dave Cameron: Correct.
1:00
Comment From Prich
Butler and one of the Royals young arms for Price… who would/should say no?
1:00
Dave Cameron: The Rays.
1:01
Comment From Tom
Do you think MLB would ever expand to Mexico, say, Mexico City?
1:01
Dave Cameron: Ever, yes. Soon, no.
1:01
Comment From FS
Possibility of a Champions League sort of tournament for baseball? or is there too big a difference between MLB and rest of leagues? or too much money tied to MLB and their stars?
1:02
Dave Cameron: That’s kind of what the WBC is.
1:02
Comment From Guest
Frontloaded contracts in MLB can make sense in some situations. The Peralta contract comes to mind. Current and future payroll/budget combined with trade possibilities later seem to make this the perfect example.
1:03
Dave Cameron: There’s no benefit to future trade possibilities. If you sign a player for 4/100, and you go 10/30/30/30, he’s no less tradable than if you went 30/30/30/10. If you wanted to trade the backloaded guy, you’d just offer to pay $20 million of the remaining $30 million, and the result is the same.
1:04
Comment From chuckb
If MLB is so concerned about how the use of substances affects children, when will it ever do anything about the rampant use of tobacco by major leaguers?
1:04
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I think that’s probably a bigger health issue.
1:05
Comment From JC
Where besides Brooklyn could that 32nd team play in your opinion?
1:06
Dave Cameron: If we have to add two teams and can’t put one in Brooklyn, I’d probably go Charlotte and San Antonio.
1:07
Comment From Guest
Tobacco is not used by a huge number of players. Sunflower seeds are the source of the current mouthwad epidemic.
1:07
Dave Cameron: Go to a minor league game, sit behind the plate, and watch the spit cups get filled, then tell me that these guys are chewing seeds and not tobacco.
1:08
Comment From Grack Zeinke
A team in Portland balances out the travel better than another team in the East.
1:08
Dave Cameron: Not sure Portland could support a team.
1:09
Dave Cameron: Okay, lunch and a Kershaw extension post calls. I’m on vacation next week, but will be back the week after.


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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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