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David Brown FanGraphs Chat – 1/9/15

Comment From mtsw
Who are you? Kiley too big to do these now that he’s the type of guy who gets named dropped in MLBtraderumors headlines?

Dave Brown: My name is Dave Brown. You might know me from the internet. Kiley is not too big to chat, or to fail, but today you have me!

Comment From Working hard or hardly working?
Would the White Sox be crazy to not platoon LaRoche and Connor Gillaspie?

Dave Brown: Man, I got long thoughts about Gillaspie being good enough to hit either hand of pitcher. LaRoche pretty much has to play daily, no? Unless you’re just dyin’ for Dayan to DH, which actually maybe wouldn’t be the worst?

Comment From Yoan Moncada
When am I most likely to debut in the majors? How good do you expect me to be?

Dave Brown: Why can’t you tell us, Yoan????

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Michael Ynoa Gets New Life With White Sox

By the time the Jeff Samardzija trade became official Tuesday at baseball’s winter meetings in San Diego, Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was fielding secondary questions about the chances of extending Samardzija’s contract beyond 2015. Most — if not all — of the questions reporters asked Hahn pertained (fairly) in some way to Samardzija, who gives the White Sox a formidable top of the rotation with left-handers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. It’s possible, however, that another player the White Sox received in the deal with the Oakland Athletics will get a chance to help his new team long after the coming season.

Billed in 2008 as a generational talent who had the signing bonus to prove it, 6-foot-7 right-hander Michael Ynoa is getting a fresh start with the White Sox after struggling with serious injuries, reaching bloated expectations and getting frustrating results since turning pro. In a secondary scrum with reporters that came after the TV cameras shut off, Hahn was excited to talk about Ynoa after trying to explain — for a third or fourth time or 20th time — that the matter of Samardzija’s contract wouldn’t be resolved that day.

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Dick Enberg Honored With the Ford C. Frick Award

It probably won’t happen this way, but when Dick Enberg is introduced at the Hall of Fame as the 39th winner of the Ford C. Frick Award, the deejay should replay Curt Gowdy’s opening line from the baseball portion of “The Naked Gun”:

“Hello! l’m Curt Gowdy, along with Jim Palmer, Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, Mel Allen, Dick Enberg and Dr. Joyce Brothers.”

After all, being part of a seven-person broadcast booth must have been one of the more challenging moments in Enberg’s career, which will be celebrated at Cooperstown on July 25. The 20-person panel of voters, which made its announcement at baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, probably didn’t take too seriously Enberg’s supporting role in “Naked Gun” into account. And that’s OK. Enberg also has spent nearly 20 seasons combined as a play-by-play lead for the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels, along with having an exhaustive career calling baseball (and football, and tennis, and golf) on network TV. Cooperstown will be Enberg’s fifth Hall of Fame.

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Q&A: Scooter Gennett on Ceramics, Lefties and Riding Scooters

Scooter Gennett of the Milwaukee Brewers is among those players participating in an innovative cancer charity drive that ends Thursday night and benefits LUNGevity, “the largest national lung cancer-focused nonprofit.” An online auction, coordinated by Major League Baseball media and public relations offices, is awarding scores of unusual prizes to winning bidders. Pitching lessons with CC Sabathia or Dwight Gooden, for example. Rather than a game-used jersey or an autographed baseball, Gennett is donating his time and his noteworthy skills with ceramics, giving a pottery lesson to the winner of his auction.

MLB took this initiative in part to celebrate the life of Monica Barlow, who died earlier this year at age 36 because of lung cancer. Like a majority of people who get lung cancer, Barlow did not smoke. Gennett has gotten involved in part because his father is a cancer survivor. He discussed all of that and more in a phone conversation with FanGraphs during baseball’s winter meetings. In addition to the charity work, he also discussed how he’s preparing for the upcoming season, and further explained how Ryan Joseph Gennett became — sometimes — “Scooter.”

David Brown: Were you into Play-Doh as a kid?

Scooter Gennett: Yeah, when I was younger, I liked those kind of toys where you’d make something. I wasn’t the type of kid to play with action figures. I guess I was a Play-Doh type of kid. But once I turned 8 years old, until high-school age, there really wasn’t much for me other than playing baseball. So I didn’t take many art classes, certainly ceramics, until high school. It was all baseball.

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Josh Willingham: Honoring the Hammer

Someday, an up-and-coming SABR scientist should try to measure the psychic effect that losing has on ballplayers. As everyone knows from watching “The Natural,” losing is a disease — as contagious as polio, syphilis and bubonic plague. Attacking one but infecting all, though some more than others. And no other major leaguer over the past decade, among hitters, lost as frequently as Josh Willingham did.

Willingham, 35, recently announced his retirement after playing nine full seasons and parts of two more. What a relief it must have been for him to finish as a part-timer with the Kansas City Royals, who made it to the seventh game of the World Series. Only once before had Willingham played significant time for winning team (with the Florida Marlins in 2008), and never had he played in the postseason. Cross it off the list, call it a career. And it was a good one, aside from all of the losing.

Overall, his teams went 503-644 in Willingham’s appearances, producing a .439 winning percentage, the worst among anyone who recorded at least 4,000 plate appearances since he broke into the majors in 2004. It usually wasn’t Willingham’s fault that his team lost; he was the best hitter on the Marlins as a rookie, after Miguel Cabrera, and he was better than Hanley Ramirez. He was the fourth-best hitter in ’07, the third-best in ’08 — and in ’09 and ’10 after being traded to the Washington Nationals. He was the best hitter on the Oakland Athletics in 2011, and the Minnesota Twins in 2012.  It’s just that Willingham’s teams lost anyway.

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