August Fagerstrom FanGraphs Chat — 4/19/16

11:45
august fagerstrom: let us chat

11:45
august fagerstrom: (at noon)

11:46
august fagerstrom: chat soundtrack: Yo La Tengo — And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out

12:07
august fagerstrom: OK! The AT&T guy is now out of my apartment and I have *real* internet! No more phone tethering! Yay!

12:07
august fagerstrom: Let’s do this thing.

12:07
Texas Dolly: What happens with Nomar Mazara in Texas assuming Choo and Hamilton return in a month? Does he remain a starter somehow or end up back in the minors to get regular playing time?

12:08
august fagerstrom: Hamilton is a bench piece/pinch-hitter at this point. And they can’t send Mazara down. It’s a tough situation if Fielder can’t play the field because Moreland is the one who should lose ABs

12:09
august fagerstrom: Maybe Desmond gets time at 1B?

12:09
august fagerstrom: The Rangers are a contender, contenders need to have their best 25 guys on the rosters, and Mazara is one of the Rangers best 25 players

12:09
august fagerstrom: He’s got to play

12:09
JDogg: Kevin Pillar was demoted int he lineup, then went 6 for 7. Is he really a lead-off hitter?

12:09
august fagerstrom: No

12:10
august fagerstrom: His OBP will hover around .300. That’s not a leadoff hitter. Never was

12:11
Jobu: Rich Hill has been a fascinating study so far this year. One minute he looks awful, the next minute he’s mowing down every batter in front of him. Is that pretty much who he’ll be going forward?

12:12
august fagerstrom: I think as long as he stays off the DL he’s going to be really good

12:12
august fagerstrom: the stuff is legit

12:13
Ryan : Alex Bregman is doing great things in the minors, should the Astros try to fit him in somewhere now?

12:13
august fagerstrom: He’s got 50 plate appearances above A-ball and the Astros have the best middle infield in baseball

12:13
august fagerstrom: no

12:13
j6takish: Are the nationals ever going to play anyone besides the Braves and Marlins?

12:13
august fagerstrom: Nope. All year. They owe the schedule-makers a big favor

12:14
George is Curious: What happens with Swihart in the minors? Do we see him back up to the majors any time soon?

12:14
august fagerstrom: Man. I didn’t even know this happened. Been so out of the loop the last few days with my move and no internet.

12:14
august fagerstrom: What happens is he works on his defense

12:15
august fagerstrom: And they decide whether he’s actually a catcher or not

12:15
JDogg: RE: Freddie Freeman- do you think teams will just pitch around him all year? Or will they challenge him because there aint nothing else dangerous around him?

12:16
august fagerstrom: Freddie Freeman hasn’t been able to hit since his wrist got busted. No reason to pitch around him right now

12:17
Erik: With the hot start by Phillies pitching, do you think there’s a chance they are in wild card contention next year? Or does this presumed 2017-18 timeline still look more likely? With the prospects due to come up late this year, and the financial muscle to spend in the offseason, it doesn’t seem like a long shot.

12:17
august fagerstrom: It wouldn’t shock me. Get Crawford and Jake Thompson in the majors, sign a couple bats to fill out the lineup and that could be a pretty good team

12:18
august fagerstrom: 2018 probably still more likely — depends how aggressive they get with their spending — but they’ve only got $24M on the books next year

12:18
Pale Hose: Through 50 PAs Manny Machado has significantly increased his FB%, Pull%, and Hard%. Not a question, just a notice.

12:18
august fagerstrom: Noted.

12:18
Domingo Santana: I enjoyed your article yesterday

12:18
august fagerstrom: Thank you! I enjoy the way you play baseball

12:19
Big Joe Monferrant: Miller and Betances have struck out 27 of 41 batters this year, or 65.9%. How awesome will it be once Chapman shows up!

12:19
august fagerstrom: Now the Yankees rotation just needs to stop working them so hard

12:19
Zonk: April should not be time to panic, but for what team or player is it actually time to panic?

12:19
august fagerstrom: Carlos Gomez.

12:20
Erik: Why don’t we ever see teams swap their LF and RF to put the better defender on a hitter’s pull side?

12:20
august fagerstrom: Eno wrote about this a couple years ago: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/fg-on-fox-sam-fuld-on-in-game-corner-outfield-switching/

12:20
Mike S.: As of today, who are your top 3 picks for this year’s draft?

12:20
august fagerstrom: literally no idea

12:20
august fagerstrom: whoever the smart people say are the top 3 picks

12:20
august fagerstrom: I don’t follow the amateur draft really

12:20
JDogg: Bold prediction … Parnell will be closing games in Detroit by July 1. What say you?

12:20
august fagerstrom: I say that is indeed bold

12:20
Q-Ball: Hector Olivera, Yasmany Tomas, Rusney Castillo…how would you rank these 3 in terms of bust potential?

12:20
august fagerstrom: Tomas seems like he has the biggest bust potential

12:20
august fagerstrom: Castillo has the highest floor because of his defense

12:21
august fagerstrom: Guess that puts Olivera in the middle

12:21
The Resistance: Yordano just hit the wire. Worth owning? Drop C. Dickerson for him?

12:21
august fagerstrom: The Royals DFA’d Yordano Ventura?!?!

12:21
august fagerstrom: Odd choice

12:22
Cecil Fielder: Will you be at the boston fangraphs event?

12:22
august fagerstrom: I will not. Realllly wanna make it to one of these soon though

12:23
2-D: How come when a guy loses a routine ball in the sun (*cough* Rajai *cough* Gomes) he doesn’t get an error ? No one seems to get a break when they make a bad throw or fumble the ball when it’s freezing out.

12:23
Ned Yost: Wade Davis mentioned dealing with a dead arm a few weeks back, and while I know that doesn’t always mean trouble, are you at all concerned?

12:24
august fagerstrom: Cop-out answer, but depends how long it lasts. Pitchers deal with early-season dead arm spells all the time and it’s not a cause for concern. The velo is down, which supports his dead arm case. The longer it keeps up, the more concerning it becomes

12:24
august fagerstrom: I’m not sure exactly how long dead arm usually lasts

12:25
Argo: I know at least on of you guys really dislike fantasy related questions, so my apologies if it was you. I was just wondering who is likely to be the more impactful player returning from injury… Jung Ho Kang or Devon Travis?

12:25
august fagerstrom: Yeah, I don’t care to answer fantasy questions. I like Kang’s bat more though.

12:26
Robert: Hector Santiago is throwing everything harder and getting way more grounders, while also keeping his IFFB% intact. I’m starting to get excited…

12:26
august fagerstrom: Yeah, he’s doing the Carlos Carrasco

12:26
august fagerstrom: “Oh, I can just pitch like a reliever as a starter”

12:27
august fagerstrom: Throwing everything with max intent. I like it. Seems like Aaron Sanchez is doing it too. It’s probably better if starters are more effective for less innings anyway. Dominate, leave everything you’ve got on the mound and let those fresh bullpen arms come in early

12:28
Steve: Garrett Richards: does he have more to show or is this what we’re getting moving forward?

12:28
august fagerstrom: He’s been filthy this year

12:28
august fagerstrom: You’ve worded this like he’s been disappointing or something

12:28
Jake M: So the Sox have to add another bat if they want to be anything more than a team hovering around .500 don’t they? Who do you think they may target if anyone with Murphy off the market? Morse?

12:29
august fagerstrom: Morse probably hurts the Red Sox more than he helps them

12:29
august fagerstrom: Is a bat really what the Sox need?

12:29
august fagerstrom: Unless you’re referring to the White Sox?

12:29
august fagerstrom: Can’t just use “Sox”

12:29
august fagerstrom: White Sox is probably who you’re referring to. Meh. Morse just isn’t a good player

12:30
senpaisanto: hi august! – dig yer latest piece re: phillie’s curveball – any other pitches you can identify w/ clubs outside the NL east?

12:31
august fagerstrom: Jeff’s written about how the Rays throw their fastballs high in the zone and they’re doing it again this year. I recently wrote about how the Nationals started throwing their fastballs to extreme locations last year (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-nationals-changing-fastballs/)

12:32
Jim: Is trout slump to worry about?

12:32
august fagerstrom: yes cut him in all fantasy leagues

12:32
Josh: What do you find more impressive: a rookie coming up and dominating right away like Correa last year, or a 40+ year old vet having an above replacement-level season, like David Ortiz?

12:32
august fagerstrom: Ortiz and Beltre are so, so fascinating

12:32
august fagerstrom: Especially in this day and age when we can be (fairly?) certain that PEDs aren’t happening

12:33
august fagerstrom: What those guys are doing is more mind-bending than a really amazing young talent being really amazing

12:33
august fagerstrom: Correa and Lindor are better for the game. Ortiz and Beltre are more fun, to me, in the present

12:33
Zonk: Hot Cub bats were cooled off this weekend by the pitching of….the Rockies? They are 8-5, and atop NL West this morning! Can they keep this up?

12:33
august fagerstrom: Nope.

12:34
Buff: Do the Dodgers think Grandal can stay healthy — or is Barnes the catcher of the future?

12:34
august fagerstrom: Impossible to say what the Dodgers think of Grandal’s medicals, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the more valuable catchers in baseball. Barnes is one hell of a backup. At the very least, the Dodgers probably aren’t super concerned with their catching situation

12:34
august fagerstrom: They’ve got several viable starter

12:34
Erik: How and why would a team decide to have their pitchers all specialize in one pitch, like you noted in your Phillies article today? Is this actually a conscious decision by management or the coaching staff, or a narrative we throw on after the fact once we notice a similarity between a team’s pitchers?

12:35
august fagerstrom: It’s got to be an organizational philosophy. I’d guess it’s something MacPhail and Klentak brought with them. Perhaps they think they have some sort of competitive edge in developing curveballs because of someone/some group of people on the player development side? Maybe they see something in the league that hitters can be exploited with these high spin rate curves? The Astros got McHugh because they felt he was being undervalued

12:36
Kurt: As a Mets fan, should I be happy that wright is hitting, or really concerned about the huge strike out rate because he looks fine most of the time, but that strike out rate is really concerning

12:36
august fagerstrom: I’d be pleased if I were you. He’s getting the ball in the air, hitting it hard and still taking walks. You can live with the K’s

12:37
august fagerstrom: Any production from Wright before his injury this year should be welcomed. Don’t worry how it’s happening

12:37
The Dude of NY: NO JORGE POSADA ALERT!

12:37
august fagerstrom: rejoice!

12:39
Vamos Gigantes: As a Giants fan, how many of my 10 worry points should I allot to the bullpen?

12:39
august fagerstrom: every team should always have several worry points banked for the bullpen

12:40
august fagerstrom: I remember reading or hearing something about how the Giants have had the least turnover in the bullpen by far over the last few years

12:40
august fagerstrom: On one hand, that means everyone is doing their job

12:40
august fagerstrom: On the other hand, relievers have a pretty limited shelf life, and you’ve gotta think guys like Romo, Casilla, Kontos, etc. are reaching the end of their shelf life. And the injuries are certainly worrisome

12:40
Art Vandelay: How’s the new place? You still eating on boxes, or did you manage to get some furniture?

12:41
august fagerstrom: Most of the big furniture is set up. It’s getting the little things out of the boxes that I still need to do. Hoping to knock that out after this chat

12:41
Bob: Does Eickhoff have one of the best curves in the game? It looked real good against the Mets but then again its the Mets.

12:41
august fagerstrom: Based purely on movement and spin, yeah. The rest comes down to command, and we probably haven’t seen enough of it to tell

12:42
august fagerstrom: Also comes down to playing it off his other pitches, and the rest of his stuff isn’t elite

12:42
august fagerstrom: In a vacuum, yeah, it’s probably one of the better pure curves in the league. In the scope of his full repertoire, it’s probably not

12:42
Art Vandelay: Who, if anyone, will get sent down from the Twins OF? Those rumors have quieted over the last 4 games of course, but I have to think it wouldn’t take much to get them stirred up again.

12:43
august fagerstrom: It’s an interesting question. I’m not at all sold on Eddie Rosario being an MLB starter. So my first thought would be him. But then, you’ve also got to consider that if Buxton just isn’t ready, striking out in half his plate appearances probably isn’t going to help his development

12:44
Joe: Last year it took Odubel Herrera over 350 PA to get to 13 walks, he already has 13 walks in 60 pa leading the NL. IS this a change to believe in and when does walk rate stabilize more or lesS?

12:45
12:45
Z: RE: Pillar. Do you buy Saunders as the leadoff then? Or does Travis get the role when he is healthy?

12:45
august fagerstrom: I’m still not totally sure why they don’t have someone like Tulowitzki or Russell Martin up there.

12:45
august fagerstrom: Unless those guys just aren’t comfortable leading off

12:46
august fagerstrom: They’re giving more PAs to an unquestionably worse hitter by leading off Saunders

12:46
august fagerstrom: or Pillar/Travis/etc

12:46
Bret: August, excellent piece on the Phils today. Guy I’m most interested in is Eickhoff — we know Nola and Velasquez are highly touted guys. But Eickhoff was generally regarded as a throw-in to the Hamels trade. Now, it looks like he could end up being the headliner on his own merit. Peripherals look great… is this for real?

12:46
august fagerstrom: Think mid-rotation guy is real, yeah

12:47
august fagerstrom: Probably doesn’t have the type of ceiling Nola and Velasquez do, but if I were a Phillies fan, I’d be viewing him as part of the next good team

12:47
august fagerstrom: Next thing you look for is development of the change to help balance out the platoon splits a bit

12:48
Patrick: Does Vince Velasquez have legit Ace potential if he can continue to develop his change-up into a third average+ offering?

12:48
august fagerstrom: I think he has the highest upside of any Phillies starter

12:48
august fagerstrom: Depends on your definition of ace

12:49
august fagerstrom: He’s got absolutely filthy stuff

12:49
Eggel: So Zunino’s been mashing in Triple-A. Do you think he’ll make a triumphant return as a regular later this year? I mean, it wouldn’t take much to be better than half the AL catcher pool

12:49
august fagerstrom: Yeah, with his defensive ability, the bat doesn’t even need to be *that* good

12:49
august fagerstrom: It just needs to be playable

12:49
august fagerstrom: Zunino still has a future in Seattle

12:49
Shane Greene: Choo Choo! All aboard my hype train whose coming with?!

12:49
august fagerstrom: I’m on board

12:50
Whigley: Has Bregman surpassed AJ Reed as the best prospect in the Astros system?

12:50
august fagerstrom: He was ranked by many ahead of Reed before the season

12:50
august fagerstrom: They’re 1A and 1B

12:50
Josh: Are we past the point in which we can expect Jason Heyward to ever reach 20 HR again?

12:50
august fagerstrom: No. It’s definitely in there somewhere

12:51
Matt: Plenty of work has been done on the ball-off-the-bat aspect of Coors field. Do you know of any work that has been done on the actual pitches themselves coming in? I would think that thin air would affect breaking balls.

12:51
august fagerstrom: There has been work done on this too

12:51
Joe: If Noah Syndergaard stays healthy, with his stuff, can he get to the same level as or higher then Kershaw?

12:51
august fagerstrom: Unfair to put a Kershaw label on anyone

12:51
august fagerstrom: Kershaw is one of a kind

12:52
august fagerstrom: Can’t say someone can be Kershaw until they are Kershaw

12:52
august fagerstrom: That being said, Syndergaard absolutely has “unquestionable second-best starter in baseball” potential

12:52
august fagerstrom: And the only place to go from there is Kershaw

12:52
Guest: To piggyback on the Bregman question…what do you think we do with him? We have Colin Moran just about ready to go at 3B, Reed at 1B, White at DH…seems like he’s destined to be trade bait

12:52
august fagerstrom: He’s 22 and just started playing AA. No one has any idea what the Astros will look like in 2 years

12:52
august fagerstrom: You wait, develop him, and let things play out

12:52
Nick: What happens once Chisenhall and Brantley return soon (hopefully)? No more Cowgill and Random Reliever?

12:53
august fagerstrom: Makes the most sense

12:54
Jon Singleton: Regarding the Nomar Mazara conundrum, why don’t the Rangers just sit Desmond when the time comes? He hasn’t performed in years, he’s playing out of position, and he doesn’t make so much that benching him is crazy.

12:54
august fagerstrom: Yeah, a Moreland/Desmond platoon at 1B with a Mazara/DeShields/Choo OF and Fielder at DH with Hamilton on the bench makes a good deal of sense

12:55
august fagerstrom: Anyone can get off days when they need them to keep all parties fresh

12:56
Annoyed in Anaheim: I’ve got a 64 year old co-worker who has never learned how to use a tissue. He sits at his desk (five feet away from me) and sniffles like a four year old daily… he must have some type of nasal drip because when he’s not sniffling, he’s choking on his phlegm and constantly clearing his throat. And he’s a loud eater. And shuffles his feet when he walks. And taps his desk when he’s thinking/talking. My question is, is this reason enough to throw him through a window? Or should I simply hand him a box of kleenex and a spittoon and teach him how to use them? Help me August, you’re my only hope.

12:57
august fagerstrom: Not sure there’s much you can do about the eating and walking. Could probably hit him with a “Hey man, myself and some other co-workers have mentioned that your sniffling is distracting and is affecting work. Would you mind keeping a box of tissues on your desk”? could probably help resolve at least one of your issue

12:57
august fagerstrom: Though throwing him through a window doesn’t sound like a bad Plan B

12:57
august fagerstrom: Could also tell your boss about it and have him handle it

12:58
august fagerstrom: Might actually be a better option to have it come from above rather than a peer

12:58
Joe: Have their historically been any rotation in baseball that has reliably used the Curve Ball as heavily as the Phillies have and if so the results?

12:58
august fagerstrom: This is in my post. The 2012 Pirates (24%) are the only team that’s ever been close to what the Phillies have been doing

12:58
Cecil Fielder: Will ryan howard play another professional AB after this year?

12:59
august fagerstrom: Yeah I bet he gets some DH reps for an AL team for another year

12:59
Gucci: Which struggling ace are you most worried about: Kluber, Grienke, Harvey, DeGrom or Hernandez?

12:59
august fagerstrom: None of them really

12:59
Lars Krenshaw: Who’s the Phillies’ best SP by year’s end?

12:59
august fagerstrom: Velasquez

12:59
Kars Lenshaw: Who is the Blue Jays best SP by year’s end?

12:59
august fagerstrom: Stroman

12:59
Hubert: So, on the player pages, there is Pitch Type and Pitch f/x Pitch Type, Plate Discipline and Pitch f/x Plate Discipline, etc. What’s the best way to utilize those parallel data sets? Is one more reliable than the other for certain stats? If so which ones? *confused*

12:59
august fagerstrom: I side with PITCHf/x

1:00
Wallace Wrightwood: Julio Teheran is “ace” for ATL, but what is his role on a contender?

1:00
august fagerstrom: No. 3

1:00
august fagerstrom: 4 on a real good staff

1:00
Taveras’ Ghost: Thoughts on the Domingo Santana piece about his zone contact %?

1:00
august fagerstrom: I wrote it so I think it’s pretty good

1:01
Big Joe Monferrant: Is it crazy to think that Bryce Harper might top last years numbers?

1:01
august fagerstrom: Somehow, no, it’s not

1:01
mickee: August, do you play fantasy baseball, and if no, why not?

1:01
august fagerstrom: I do

1:01
Erik: What does spin rate tell you that movement doesn’t?

1:02
Steve: Is Lucas Duda a) average b) above average c) somewhere in between ?

1:02
august fagerstrom: b

1:02
neal: What inspired you to look at the phillies’ curveballs? liked the piece, just wondering what caused you to notice something like that

1:03
august fagerstrom: Just kind of happened upon it looking for something else in the leaderboards

1:03
Byron: Who was your favorite player growing up?

1:03
august fagerstrom: Omar Vizquel and Robbie Alomar

1:04
Dr. Frank Jobe: Isn’t “Oh, I can just pitch like a reliever as a starter” pretty much what Syndergaard is doing?

1:04
august fagerstrom: Yep

1:04
mtsw: Is there a path to Yovani Gallardo being okay despite his huge velocity loss? Or is he skating by on smoke and mirrors so far?

1:04
august fagerstrom: probably the latter

1:04
OnSight: Just how good could Domingo Santana be if his plate disciple sticks? 120+ wRC+?

1:04
august fagerstrom: Sounds about right

1:04
Big Joe Monferrant: How do you explain random velocity gains for pitchers that have been pitching in the majors for a couple years?

1:04
august fagerstrom: New offseason throwing program

1:04
august fagerstrom: AKA increased arm strength

1:05
august fagerstrom: Smoother mechanics

1:05
freddi: What’s your WS prediction?

1:05
august fagerstrom: Cubs>Astros

1:05
moka: After only stealing 18 bases last year, Rajai already has 5. Do you think last year was due more to injury or some other aberration and he still has 30 SB ability

1:06
august fagerstrom: I’ve been surprised by how freaking fast that guy still is. He can fly

1:06
JDogg: is there statistical evidence of guys outplaying their norms in contract years? Or do we just remember those that did, and not make note of those that didn’t

1:06
august fagerstrom: Prettttty sure it’s been disproven but I could be wront

1:06
august fagerstrom: wrong*

1:06
iron wolf: August: love that first name! Dan Z. said yesterday he doubts that the O’s will pony up the 300+ million necessary to keep Machado in town. Do you agree with that opinion? THX.

1:06
august fagerstrom: I do

1:06
Rob: How good is Jake Lamb? Could you see .280/.360/.450 with plus defense at the hot corner? He looks fantastic so far this season

1:07
august fagerstrom: I’m a Lamb fan. Reportedly re-tooled his swing in the offseason. I’m buying

1:07
Carlos Gomez: I’m always panicking. What’s unique about me in April that it is legitimately worth panicking about?

1:07
august fagerstrom: Literally almost everything. I might write about this soon. Worst exit velo in the majors, 0 walks, tons of strikeouts, getting nothing in the air

1:07
august fagerstrom: You couldn’t look more broken

1:08
august fagerstrom: Don’t think you’ve fully recovered from last year’s injuries

1:08
Connor: Beltre already a HOFer?

1:08
august fagerstrom: Yep

1:08
Joey: How do you view Pat Corbin’s future? #3 starter material?

1:08
august fagerstrom: Could be a No. 2

1:08
august fagerstrom: Already probably is a No. 2

1:09
august fagerstrom: Depending on your definition of “No. 2” and “No. 3”

1:09
Pat: There are only two players left in the league who have made contact on every pitch they swung at in the zone. Can you guess those two players?

1:09
august fagerstrom: man I was just looking at this the other day. Pretty sure one is Jean Segura

1:10
august fagerstrom: Martin Prado

1:10
august fagerstrom: ?

1:10
august fagerstrom: gotta look it up now

1:10
august fagerstrom: Brett Gardner!

1:10
august fagerstrom: wonder what happens first, one of those guys swings through a pitch in the zone, or Kevin Pillar takes a walk

1:10
august fagerstrom: oh. looks like Kevin Pillar has already taken a walk

1:11
august fagerstrom: That was an easy question. Replace Pillar with Andrelton Simmons, then

1:11
Rick: Castellanos sss improvements skill based or just better luck. Do you think he will be solid 3B long-term?

1:11
august fagerstrom: Not buying it

1:11
Mr. Wrestling IV: Why isn’t Carson doing NERD scores this year? Has his ascension to the French aristocracy made him too good for menial labor?

1:11
august fagerstrom: They’ll be back soon

1:12
senpaisanto:

1:12
august fagerstrom: This was actually one of the first things I did. Had to get some Sculpin in here for the move

1:13
august fagerstrom: ok! Thanks for chatting everyone

1:13
august fagerstrom: Same time same place next week

1:13
august fagerstrom: Sorry to the questions I couldn’t get to

1:13
august fagerstrom: Peace!

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August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.

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