Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 6/18/14

11:45
Dave Cameron: So we’re going to try an experiment today; I’m at a local hangout while my car is getting fixed. I don’t know how great the wi-fi is, or how long it’s going to take to get the car working, so this chat might be abbreviated, or extra long. I guess we’ll find out!

11:45
Dave Cameron: The queue is now open.

12:00
Dave Cameron: Alright, let’s get this party started.

12:00
Comment From Darren
Is Lucroy the NL MVP as of today?

12:01
Dave Cameron: Tulo is probably still on top, but Lucroy is in the mix. McCutchen, Stanton, Puig if he catches fire again.

12:01
Comment From Ryan
Has Luis Valbuena actually developed into a useful piece going forward for the Cubs?

12:01
Dave Cameron: A useful trade chip, yes. He’s a great guy to sell high on.

12:02
Comment From Joey Whitemon
Expectation of Charlie Blackmon going forward? Replacement player? 2nd division starter? League average?

12:02
Dave Cameron: Average regular. Maybe a little above average if he can improve his plate discipline a bit.

12:03
Comment From john
Do you know about options? I read this on twitter: “Regarding d’Arnaud, if he remains in Vegas past June 28, he will be out of options beginning next season. Mets would prefer to keep option.” That can’t be right, can it? He was technically still a rookie coming into this season, he can’t possibly be out of options…

12:03
Dave Cameron: Options and rookie status have nothing to do with each other. Once a player is added to the 40 man roster, he has to be optioned to the minors at the start of the season, even if he never appears on the big league roster. So slow developing guys can run out of options early int heir careers.

12:03
Comment From Barney
Year/Model/Problem?

12:04
Dave Cameron: 2002 Mazda, there’s apparently a wounded animal living in my brakes.

12:04
Comment From Jeff in T.O.
Dave, thanks for doing this. Wouldn’t the Jays be ebtter off going for a Hammel or a Kennedy instead of a Samardzia?

12:04
Dave Cameron: Might be, yes. I think I’d probably be more interested in the short-term rentals than paying through the nose for Shark or Price.

12:05
Comment From Justin
If the Pirates solidify their playoff odds over the next month, could they become the most logical players for Price? With a healthy Taillon, I’d say “no way,” but without him their 2015 team needs some serious upside.

12:06
Dave Cameron: I don’t know that team with slim division odds will want to pay for Price. To give up what he’s going to cost, you need to know you’re going to play more than one postseason game.

12:06
Comment From STiVo
Pitchers keep throwing Trout down in the zone. And he keeps crushing them–two last night! Don’t these guys read your site?

12:07
Dave Cameron: There’s certainly a large number of pitchers who prefer to just pitch to their own strengths rather than a hitter’s weaknesses. If your Josh Tomlin, maybe you don’t have the stuff to pitch Trout up in the zone. But yeah, at least maybe start focusing more on down-and-away. Down-and-in doesn’t work.

12:07
Comment From Catoblepas
Lucroy’s dinger: great response to Braun being hit, or the best response?

12:08
Dave Cameron: Best response would have included him doing the Kirk Gibson arm pump as he rounded first base.

12:08
Comment From Ringtone Composer
Welp, it took Mookie Betts about 6 games to adjust to AAA. What do you expect the Sox to do with him moving forward?

12:08
Dave Cameron: I think he’ll take over as their center fielder in the second half of the year.

12:09
Comment From Daniel
Now that Mike is back on his throne, what do you think the chances are that the BBWAA finally gives him the MVP he deserves(d)?

12:09
Dave Cameron: Angels are good this year. As long as they stay in contention, he’s the easy favorite.

12:09
Comment From The Oriole Bird
Would you make J.J. Hardy a qualifying offer this upcoming offseason if you were in charge of the Orioles? (And do you think he’d accept?)

12:09
Dave Cameron: Yes, and yes.

12:10
Comment From Guest
As a Cubs fan, how excited should I be about Anthony Rizzo? Is this his true talent level?

12:10
Dave Cameron: He’s not this good, but yes, be excited. He’s a terrific young player.

12:10
Comment From Stanatee the Manatee
Can you see the Cardinals making a move before the trade deadline that clears a spot for Oscar?

12:11
Dave Cameron: Or maybe they just trade Oscar.

12:11
Comment From Bradley
Extra long chat please. Mills $1 trade. Why doesn’t Oak have a replacement player in their system and why would Mlw do the trade? Was it a favor in hopes Oak will help them out later when they are in a bind? And, is that collusion? Thanks.

12:13
Dave Cameron: Almost every veteran player in Triple-A has an opt-out if he’s offered a big league roster spot with another team. So, if the Brewers hadn’t traded him, he would just have opted out and signed with Oakland anyway. The Brewers get some goodwill with other future veteran minor league FAs, and the A’s get a pitcher that might do okay in their ballpark. The system is correctly designed so that teams can’t keep useful veterans in the minors when other teams want to give them big league jobs.

12:13
Comment From Notorious BAD
Is there any way–given current technology–to determine how many runs a player adds on the base paths by getting, say, a triple on a hit that would’ve been a double for the average player?

12:14
Dave Cameron: That’s exactly what our baserunning metric does. Look up UBR in the glossary.

12:14
Comment From Jared
Of the Brewers, A’s and Giants, who needs to make a serious move before the deadline to make sure they win the division?

12:14
Dave Cameron: Oakland. The A’s should go for broke this year. They’re probably not going to have a better shot at winning it all than they do this year.

12:15
Comment From Mark
Will Hultzen contribute in 2015 in a decent way, i.e. at least as a back-end starter?

12:15
Dave Cameron: Guys with shoulder problems, you should just assume you’ll never see them again and be pleasantly surprised if they ever come back.

12:16
Comment From Dewey
Please help remind me, is power one of the last skills to develop in hitting? I seem to recall a while back that hitting lots of doubles in AA-Ball was somewhat reliable in gauging future power. And if not, is there some type of non-HR hitting gauge that can surface int he minors that is indicative of MLB power?

12:17
Dave Cameron: Power and plate discipline are older player skills, yes. Minor league data is sketchy enough that we don’t have great ways of projecting which guys will turn their doubles into home runs, but it definitely happens.

12:17
Comment From person hscer
Most to least likely to win division: KCR, LAD, STL

12:17
Dave Cameron: STL, by a good margin.

12:17
Comment From -C
Is there a position more devoid of talent on contending teams than second base? Are we going to see a lot of 2B moving, or will teams settle for what they have?

12:18
Dave Cameron: I think we’ll see several 2Bs get moved.

12:18
Comment From Chris
Has Billy Hamilton done enough offensively yet to change the long-term forecast of him as a hitter?

12:18
Dave Cameron: It’s just a couple of months, so concern is still legitimate, but the power makes him a bit more interesting. Even if he only launches 10 home runs per year, that takes him out of the Ben Revere style of player.

12:19
Comment From Marconi
Use to be you auto shop bill was 30%-70% labor/cost. Now labor is like 60%

12:19
Dave Cameron: My parents own an auto repair shop. Margins are tiny and the business isn’t great. Don’t begrudge your local, honest mechanic. They deserve the money.

12:20
Dave Cameron: If you take your car to the dealer, stop it. Find a good local mechanic and help them while saving money.

12:21
Comment From Guest
What kind of replacement options does Dave have if his car requires an extended DL stint?

12:21
Dave Cameron: The wake up early and drive my wife to work option. I hate that option.

12:22
Comment From Dee Gordon
I have forgot how to hit again. Do I need to worry about my starting gig?

12:22
Dave Cameron: If Alex Guerrero hadn’t been Olivo’d, you’d maybe already be in danger. Miguel bought you another month or two.

12:22
Comment From Bob
Does the Nationals’ moving Zimmerman to LF signal that Denard Span could be on the trading block this year? Seems strange that Zim would learn an entirely new position for just a month of play

12:22
Dave Cameron: That move wasn’t just about 2014. If he’s okay in the OF, that makes him more valuable long term, and they own his rights for a while. It does make this year a little tricky, though.

12:24
Comment From Barney
You’ve mentioned before being in favor of eliminating the Rule 4 Draft. What changes do you think would occur if that happened? Increased sizes and budgets of scouting departments? Lower average age of players entering pro ball? Competitive balance?

12:25
Dave Cameron: My idea is more along the lines of combining amateur acquisitions into a non-draft form. Give teams a sliding scale allotment of money (based on market size) to invest in non-MLB player salaries, and that’s their pool for everything; foreign guys, domestic guys, scouts, player development salaries. Everything.

12:26
Comment From Mike and the Mechanics
Do you think the Nats are the best team in baseball?

12:26
Dave Cameron: They’re in the mix. Depends on Harper’s health, mostly.

12:27
Comment From Ronald
Hey Dave, where do you take your car to get it fixed?

12:27
Dave Cameron: West End Auto on first street. Ralph, the owner, is a good dude. Honest, trustworthy, reliable. Everyone should find their own Ralph.

12:27
Dave Cameron: Or if you live in Winston-Salem, use mine.

12:28
Comment From Eminor3rd
Will/should the White Sox shop Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham? They’re controllable pieces, but there’s lots of depth in the upper minors. If so, do you see any good trade partners?

12:28
Dave Cameron: Yeah, they’ll put both on the market.

12:29
Comment From Matt
Dave, your promotion of projections has seemingly gone overboard to me. When we see a significant difference in the difference between current stats and projections, we should dig deeper into more stats or do a bit of scouting to see if there is a true talent level change. Baseball is a game of adjustment.Guys can change there approach, their swing mechanics, or add a new pitch. I think scouting or even more advanced data is the needed when weighting projections/current performance. When taking about Marco Estrada, why wouldn’t you trust a scout over the projections? Don’t we have scouts to specifically evaluate players talent and changes in their talent in a small sample? Thanks.

12:30
Dave Cameron: Because human beings *suck* at not overreacting to what they see. Even talented scouts watching every game are going to find reasons to explain what they see just to satisfy human nature to avoid randomness as an explanation. There’s a reason most teams have moved their advance scouting away from scouts watching teams in person and gone to data/video.

12:31
Dave Cameron: Projections are not perfect, of course. But they’re better than allowing yourself to discard them whenever you don’t like their conclusions simply because you’ve invented a reason why this guy is the exception.

12:32
Comment From Bruce
Dave Sullivan for Jonah Keri. Who hangs up first?

12:32
Dave Cameron: I don’t know; what does Dave Sullivan do? Is he a good guy? Does he like poutine?

12:33
Comment From Barney
Did you know Richard Durrett? Fantastic reporter.

12:33
Dave Cameron: I had never met him, but I liked his work. Seems like the Texas area lost a very good one.

12:34
Comment From Kyle
I’ve noticed you and Keith Law have disagreed a lot over the last 6 months or so. Used to be you guys agreed on almost everything. What do you think changed?

12:34
Dave Cameron: I don’t think Keith and I have ever agreed on almost everything. We see things differently, which is totally fine. I like Keith and get along with him just fine. We don’t have to agree.

12:34
Comment From Diehard Cubs Fan
Now the Cubs are supposedly talking extension with Shark. Any chance he ends up staying?

12:35
Dave Cameron: Due diligence. You check in to find out the price so you can compare your options before trading him, and maybe give the acquiring team a heads up on his demands.

12:35
Comment From GSon
You’re car needs ___________________________ to make it run the way it was intended?

12:35
Dave Cameron: The way it sounds, an exorcism.

12:36
Comment From Michael
Question about Justin Smoak’s contract and cutting players during their arb years. Say the Mariners were to DFA Smoak today and no one claimed him. What are the Mariners’ fiscal responsibilities to Smoak? Do they only have to pay him for the rest of the year?

12:37
Dave Cameron: Yes, his 2014 salary is fully guaranteed.

12:37
Comment From Lonnie B Goode
are we going to see a national league all-stars article? I enjoyed the American League one.

12:37
Dave Cameron: Yep. Might get pushed to tomorrow though.

12:37
Comment From Rance Mulliniks
Why do people get so revved up about which players will be or won’t be selected for the all-star game? Does it really matter anymore? Isn’t the number of all-star appearances a player has becoming more irrelevant in Hall voting?

12:37
Dave Cameron: People want their favorite players/teams to “get respect”. ASG appearances are a proxy for that.

12:37
Comment From Guest
How long does Inside Edge fielding data take to update? I want to see if that Brock Holt catch qualified as “impossible.”

12:38
Dave Cameron: No catch ever made will ever be labeled impossible.

12:38
Comment From BBB
Please keep us in the loop on the unnecessary upsells the mechanic tries to foist on you.

12:38
Dave Cameron: This is why you find a good local mechanic you trust. My parents have been in business for 30 years and have never pulled that crap.

12:39
Comment From Guest
In general, if a hitter’s main objective is to not make an out, shouldn’t these defensive shifts help them? I refuse to believe a left handed hitter can’t keep his hands inside the ball and shoot it to left. Am I way off on this?

12:39
Dave Cameron: Yes. Hitting a ground ball to the opposite field is very difficult.

12:39
Comment From Professor Ross Eforp
Grady Sizemore…can you name some other players who were robbed of a legendary career in your lifetime?

12:39
Dave Cameron: Brandon Webb, maybe?

12:40
Comment From Guest
It seems like you’re pretty high on the Blue Jays. Do you think they’re a very good team? Or is it because of the lead they have already established in the AL East?

12:40
Dave Cameron: I think they’re a solid team. Not best in baseball, but best in that division.

12:40
Comment From Henry
For great defensive corner OFs (like Gordon, Heyward), does it make sense to try them in CF?

12:40
Dave Cameron: A lot of Gordon’s value comes from his arm, so moving him to CF probably isn’t going to help. Heyward, maybe.

12:41
Comment From Tweedle Dee
Verlander: Is the only problem the velocity drop? (Seems like it can’t be!)

12:41
Dave Cameron: Yeah, it’s not just velo. He just has to learn to pitch differently at this velo level, which can be done. He just hasn’t done that.

12:42
Comment From Clinton
Dave I will do anything for you to talk about Bryce Harper and his extension possibilities with the Nationals – your thoughts on it. I would even make you a sandwich.

12:42
Dave Cameron: The odds of you making me a sandwich and delivering it to Winston-Salem are higher than the odds of Harper signing a long term deal before free agency.

12:42
Comment From Guest
Why is such a big deal made out of saving the backup catcher and not using as a pinch hitter etc. Say a team uses the backup catcher late in a game, it is extremely unlikely that he gets hurt. Say 1%. If you need the PH isn’t it worth taking a small risk that you’ll be stuck with a position player letting passed balls through for a couple of innings, possibly costing you the game? Can’t cost more than 0.01 or 0.02 wins on average, can it?

12:43
Dave Cameron: That only needs to happen once for the owner to decide he doesn’t like to be embarrassed and demand someones head on a platter. No one wants to be on a blooper reel for 30 years, and no manager wants to do that to one of his position players.

12:44
Comment From Art Vandelay
Whoah! Twist! Who would the Cards target in an Taveras trade? Price?

12:44
Dave Cameron: I think the Cards acquiring Price has some merit.

12:45
Comment From Trades
Joc Pederson for David Price … which team wins?

12:45
Dave Cameron: The Dodgers. Price should cost more than one good prospect.

12:46
Comment From Dave in North Dakota
Most important thing you can teach a young hitter (12-15 years old) is….?

12:46
Dave Cameron: That baseball is fun, even if it never results in going to the pros.

12:47
Comment From Robbie
Re: the Jimmy Nelson discussion, are you willing to budge at all on his 4.49 ERA projection? It does seem like his adjustments are real.

12:47
Dave Cameron: What adjustments? He’s a two-pitch, bad command guy, and there’s zero evidence that his velocity has actually climbed.

12:48
Dave Cameron: This is the kind of prospects that scouts overrate all the time.

12:49
Comment From Reginald Denton III
Which player today most reminds you of Tony Gwynn? Anyone?

12:49
Dave Cameron: Ichiro was only thing close. There aren’t any young players with that skillset, really.

12:49
Comment From Sirras One
What’s wrong with taking the car to the dealer, outside of costing the local shops money?

12:50
Dave Cameron: They charge 50 to 100% more for the same service, and they generally employ lower quality mechanics. And you will get sold services you don’t need.

12:50
Dave Cameron: Taking your car to the dealer for repairs is the life equivalent of giving an aging closer a five year contract.

12:51
Comment From Interested
What’s the bottleneck for profitability for car mechanics? Is it number of cars that can be reviewed/fixed (a throughput problem)?

12:52
Dave Cameron: Shops require land (expensive) and tools (expensive), so overhead is very high. Car repairs are generally not quick, so you can’t fix a huge quantity.

12:53
Comment From Mike
I drove 6 hours to catch the Carolina/California League All Star Game last night. Why?

12:53
Dave Cameron: Lack of a social life, maybe?

12:53
Comment From person hscer
What’s the best way to describe a player worth 1 WAR in 600 PA? “Bad” doesn’t seem right since they were better than replacement level, but they obviously weren’t average or good.

12:54
Dave Cameron: Below average.

12:55
Comment From Sirras One
How can you tell if an auto mechanic is being honest with regards to work/cost estimates?

12:56
Dave Cameron: The key is to find one you can trust so you don’t have to double-check all of their estimates every time. Most mom-and-pop shops will be run by the owner, and if the owner is trustworthy, they’ll make sure the mechanics are too. Get to know the owner, and make a judgment based on how comfortable you are with them.

12:57
Comment From JWR
I’m not sure if I understood the recent apparent Twitter-tiff with KLaw. Was the issue simply how much weight we should give to the various projection systems?

12:58
Dave Cameron: Essentially, the disagreement boils down to how much you should weight recent performance. There’s a very large group of people who think that, when recent performance is drastically different than past track record, the projection becomes useless. I disagree.

12:59
Comment From Jeff in T.O.
You mean some people DON’T like poutine?

12:59
Dave Cameron: I would imagine it’s not probably not a favorite of gluten free vegans.

1:00
Comment From JWR
My personal opinion is that baseball games have gotten far too long and that MLB should do everything in its power to insist that pitchers are more Buehrle-like. Do you personally think that baseball games are too long?

1:00
Dave Cameron: No. I like baseball.

1:00
Comment From person hscer
How much bigger are your queues now than 4 years ago?

1:01
Dave Cameron: Even a year or two ago, I could get through a decent amount of the queue. No way now. For reference, this question came in at 12:37, and I’m just now getting to it.

1:01
Dave Cameron: So I’m running about 25 minutes behind…

1:01
Comment From Mike
Moving to Winston-Salem in August. I’ll probably become good friends with Ralph.

1:01
Dave Cameron: I think there’s enough of us now where we need to have some kind of meetup.

1:02
Comment From Brendan G.
Do your parents still live in Seattle? I need someone to look at my car…

1:02
Dave Cameron: They do, though they are an import only specialist, and primarily work on European cars. Their business is Auto Sport Imports, located on International Blvd in Seatac.

1:03
Comment From Spencer
Dave, THANK YOU for the auto shop sentiment. I work at a shop that my brother has managed since its opening, along with one of his longtime friends. We hear so many horror stories about the dealerships, and it’s sad how few people actually catch on to what they’re doing. The local shops NEED to be honest and thorough, because they’ll otherwise be pushed out of the industry. We’ve developed an almost cult-like following in our town outside Atlanta, just because we’re good people.

1:04
Dave Cameron: Yeah, the ones who do it right are extremely valuable. As parts ordering gets shifted online, that part of the business is going to go away, and the only way local auto mechanics will survive is if people pay a premium for good, honest repairs, since Walmart or whoever can’t ship that oversees.

1:05
Comment From BassmanUW
If the Cardinals pick up Price, is it a 1.5 years and gone scenario? I don’t see how they could pay both Wainwright’s current contract and Price long term unless they increase their payroll.

1:06
Dave Cameron: Yeah, it would be a rental.

1:07
Comment From Barney
HS coach applying sabermetrics at that level. Where do I start?

1:07
Dave Cameron: Depending on level of quality, maybe preach the value of not making outs. A HS team that stops bunting so darn much might have an advantage.

1:08
Comment From THE average sports fan
Dude…you are the semi breakout star of Clubhouse Confidential. Why are you driving a 2002 Mazda?

1:08
Dave Cameron: Do you really think the guy who talks non-stop about value and return on investment, and is the son of auto mechanics, is going to pay the depreciation involved in buying a new car?

1:09
Comment From slim
I’m kind of surprised that a mechanic’s kid and an econ nerd is driving a beat-up Mazda. No desire to optimize this ROI of your driving decision and end up with a Toyota or Honda?

1:09
Dave Cameron: Toyotas and Hondas are overpriced. Mazda/Nissan is where the value is in the used Japanese car market.

1:10
Comment From JNC
Why is a walk worth less than a base hit according to linear weights?

1:10
Dave Cameron: Base hits can advance runners multiple bases. Walks only ever advance them one.

1:11
Comment From canofcorn66
Has your Mazda been reliable thus far? Thinking about buying one, but have never really known anyone who’s owned one…

1:12
Dave Cameron: The big problem with my Mazda is the tires. They are odd-sized and only last a few years, so I’ve been through like four sets. But the rest of the car has been just fine. The Protege5 model has a history of rust, but since I live in the south, that hasn’t been an issue for me.

1:12
Comment From Dan M
You mentioned earlier that Jimmy Nelson is “Exactly the type of prospect that scouts overrate all the time”. Any other examples of guys in the high minors right now that you think are being touted too highly?

1:12
Dave Cameron: Archie Bradley.

1:13
Comment From Kevin
Why the f*** dont you answer any of my questions about players you cockhead?

1:13
Dave Cameron: This seems like a good one to end on.

1:13
Dave Cameron: Thanks for hanging out everyone.

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newest oldest most voted
John
Guest
John

You are Mozeliak and want David Price. What’s the most you are willing to give up for him? Thanks

Michael
Guest
Michael

The Royals should definitely be willing to part with Will Meye… aw, crap.

Bubber Jonnard
Guest
Bubber Jonnard

Mozeliak shouldn’t take David Price, even if Tampa is giving him away for nothing. Seriously. The potential upgrade he represents to that particular franchise is too small, relative to his current and expected salaries.

Price is making $14M this year, and after arbitration will make roughly $18M in 2015. Then free agency.

Depending on the value metric invoked, the Cardinals already have 6 starters (perhaps 7 with Carlos Martinez possibly switching from the bullpen to rotation soon) worth at least 2-2.5 WAR per year. And David Price since he became a full-time starter has been worth 4.4 fWAR and 4.3 bWAR per annum. So Price represents basically an upgrade of 1 thin win over the second half of this year and 2 wins next year, at a payroll increase of nearly $7M in 2014 and almost $18M in 2015. Not a wise investment.

(And for those Cardinal fans who envision Price in a playoff rotation, please check his history. Price hasn’t exactly draped himself in Bob Gibsonesque postseason glory when given the opportunity.)