Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 1/13/20

2:00
Ben Clemens: Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s Astros disciplinary chat.

2:00
Ben Clemens: I imagine we’ll talk about that a lot, but let me throw in a few questions from the queue that caught my eye first.

2:00
Steven S: Hi Ben! The Rays have made a lot of interesting moves this offseason, and have acquired a number of players they believe can be impact players in 2020. Out of their acquisitions – Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Jose Martinez, Randy Arozarena, and Hunter Renfroe – who do you believe will make the most impact in 2020? And, do you think any of these players can compile a 3+ WAR in 2020?

2:01
Ben Clemens: Hey! Can? Absolutely yes. Any of the four of them could put up 3 WAR, though I think Martinez is least likely to, as he’ll be the skinny end of a platoon.

2:01
Ben Clemens: I’m really high on Arozarena, and have been for a while. He’s kind of my prospect white whale as a Cards fan.

2:01
Ben Clemens: So I’ll say he’s most likely.

2:02
VEB: Miss you.

2:02
Ben Clemens: <3

2:02
ranger: Thoughts on how an Arenado to Cardinals deal could work in terms of prospects/assets involved

2:02
Cito’s Mustache: I’m having a hard time believing the reported offer of Liberatore, CarMart, Hudson & O’Neill for Arenado considering he could opt-out in a couple years. Doesn’t that seem like a crazy steep price without assurances Arenado would stay in STL? And do you think it’s possible they negotiate/restructure and push the opt-out back a year or two?

2:03
Ben Clemens: Guess we’re starting on a Cardinals note. I don’t think that rumor is credible – it’s been batted around a lot, but it was basically a Chicago radio host talking off the cuff? It was followed by a trade idea where Arenado came to the Cubs while Kris Bryant played center field.

2:04
Ben Clemens: In terms of assets involved, I think they’d try to do something about the opt out, as in Arenado opts in pre-emptively and that sweetens the pot. I don’t think the opt out is particularly likely to come into play given the deal but it would be a really poor risk for any team to trade a lot of assets for someone who might vanish soon.

2:04
Ben Clemens: Also, even without the opt out, that package looks high to me. That’s a lot of good, controllable players.

2:04
Only STL in on Nolan?: I understand why LA has been shut out from Nolan trade talks, but shouldn’t their be other serious suitors?  Rangers? Nationals?  Braves?  Seems like there should be more smoke if nothing else to drive up the price for the Cards.  Please don’t point to those ridiculous Cubs scenarios.

2:06
Ben Clemens: I think there’s probably more going on than we think. Never say never when it comes to the Rockies front office, but the plan is probably to just call a lot of people? I don’t think the Nats are exactly a fit, because they don’t have deadweight contracts to send back in a reasonable way and seem very concerned about their tax hit.

2:06
Ben Clemens: Rangers, Braves – they should be in. Everyone should be in! Arenado is great.

2:08
Ben Clemens: Every team should be at least showing the Rockies something. They’re a very non-traditional front office; you never know when they’ll value your 40 FV depth piece as a premium guy.

2:08
Ben Clemens: That’s probably hyperbole, but I don’t know, the way they manage their depth chart…

2:08
2-D: I can’t think of a good question right now, but I must be apart of the first ever non-playoff Ben Clemens chat.

2:08
2-D: I guess I can ask what other non-baseball related topics you might enjoy discussing?

2:09
Ben Clemens: Welcome! In terms of non-baseball topics, the sky is the limit (other than politics, which meh). Economics? Board games? Card games? Dogs? Please dogs.

2:09
Ben Clemens: Living in NY/SF?

2:09
Astros got off easy…: They cheated their way to a WS title.  In a game where the difference between the worst team in the league and the best team in the league is ~30% (by win percentage), the smallest margins tip the scales.  Should have stripped them of the title.

2:11
Ben Clemens: What does stripping a title do? Meg and I discussed this a bit last week, but I just don’t think it matters. We’ll stlil know who won the World Series in 2017. Are you going to take the banner down in the stadium? I just think it’s meaningless. This penalty is basically salting the earth, and I like the way they punished ownership and management most.

2:11
Ben Clemens: I would shy away from coming down on the players too hard, and I’m glad MLB did. I would have preferred more fine and less draft pick loss, but apparently it’s the maximum allowed fine, so there you go.

2:12
jake: I live in NY!

2:13
Ben Clemens: I sadly don’t anymore; my wife and I moved to San Francisco last year. I loved living in New York, though, and the vast majority of my friends still live there. I feel like it gets a bad rap for being noisy and busy; that kind of fades away when you’re actually there, and if you want to it’s just, well, a city where you can get whatever you want.

2:13
Ben Clemens: Not cheap, though!

2:14
Ben Clemens: But jake, I have a confession. I only took this question to lead into your next one

2:14
jake: Analysts and FanGraphs writers need nicknames. Why do we get to call Javy Baez “El Mago” but we don’t get to use cool nicknames for you guys? I’m not saying that your normal names aren’t really cool, I mean, they are cool. But nicknames –> more fun!

2:15
Ben Clemens: This feels like it could have endless variations, but I’m brainstorming now.

2:15
Ben Clemens: My mind went here first:

2:15
Ben Clemens:

Along that vein, I gave Talk to Transformer a few baseball nicknames and prayed it would understand and make up some new ones.

The result was magical. I think my favorite is Tom Seaver, whose nickname, as we all know, was The Devil’s Prawn.

16 Oct 2019
2:16
Ben Clemens: A bumbling, bumbling boy is pretty excellent

2:17
Ben Clemens: More realistically, though, we don’t have nicknames because we aren’t all that interesting.

2:17
Ben Clemens: Javy Baez is el mago because he literally looks magical on the field.

2:17
Ben Clemens: Would Dan be ‘Big Models’?

2:17
Ben Clemens: Would I be el free agent analysis?

2:18
Ben Clemens: I don’t think there’s quite enough stuff going on here that isn’t just ‘here are some words about baseball’ to make for good nicknames

2:18
Average sports fan: What do I have to do to help my local sports team attain public funds?

2:18
Average sports fan: I’m willing to turn a blind eye on the increasing public funds “voted” towards paying for private baseball stadiums. I’m willing to ignore that teams don’t actually care whether I, an average sports fan with average means, can afford to show up to games or not. What’s taking it too far is these player salaries I have the right to know! Why am I just so fucking ungodly stupid?

2:18
Average sports fan: How can I help the owners shrink $/WAR? I hate my job and with some luck could have done what these guys do, no reason they should be making the kind of money they make

2:18
Ben Clemens: Hi, average sports fan. First time/long time?

2:19
Ben Clemens: Sarcasm aside, man, it’s a tough balance to strike!

2:19
Ben Clemens: Like you can say it’s dumb for fans to root for laundry, but the team is going to be there a long time.

2:19
Ben Clemens: I think that’s one of the key things that’s kept sports popular all these years as we have backlash against other rich-people-owned enterprises

2:24
Ben Clemens: Sorry guys!

2:24
Ben Clemens: Had a bit of a technical snafu th ere.

2:24
Ben Clemens: I wasn’t linked to the main FG chat account, so I ran out of juice fast.

2:24
Ben Clemens: We’re back now though.

2:25
Ben Clemens: In any case, I think that being pro-player is a reasonable take. But it’s complicated, because I’m not sure how much I care if Bryce Harper makes 330 million or 270 million

2:25
Ben Clemens: But I do super care how much minor leaguers and taxi squad-ers make

2:25
ke’bryan mays hayes: Were you surprised to see alex wood wind up back in LA? I see how it makes sense for them but I expected / wanted to see a mediocre team to gamble on his upside

2:25
Ben Clemens: So, I wrote about this earlier today:

2:26
Ben Clemens: I think the Dodgers are the perfect team to try for it. One of the big downsides of Wood is that he might suck

2:26
Ben Clemens: And the Dodgers don’t actually care if he sucks.

2:26
Ben Clemens: Because they’ll just toss him in the bulk reliever bin.

2:26
Ben Clemens: Whereas if you’re the White Sox, and you put all your eggs in the Alex Wood, starter basket and he’s bad.

2:26
Ben Clemens: Woof.

2:27
Ben Clemens: Think of Alex Wood as either nothing (85% of the time) or great (15% of the time) and you can see why most teams don’t like the shape of that production.

2:27
noname: congrats on being the chatter while the astros news dropped! how do you feel about MLB being able to effectively sweep the taubman suspension under the rug by bundling it with the rest of it?

2:28
Ben Clemens: I do not like that part of it. I’m broadly in favor of the punishments overall, and I think suspending Luhnow for a year really sends a message.

2:28
Ben Clemens: But I think they should have separately fined the Astros for the handling of the Taubman thing, and earmarked that money for charity.

2:29
Ben Clemens: It’s frustrating that making an example of a franchise for cheating somehow glosses over other bad things they did.

2:29
Stripping the title: For the history books, taking down the banner means something.  We also know Lance Armstrong crossed the finish line first…  I get that you can’t award a title to a runner up like you could in individual sports, but you could just declare there was “no winner” in 2017.  There were no WS winners prior to 1903, and no winner in 1994 and 1904.  It’s not like it is mandatory to have a winner every year.

2:29
Ben Clemens: Yeah I mean, they could have done that too!

2:29
Ben Clemens: But would you rather fine them $1 million or strip the title? I’d do the fine.

2:29
Taubman: Fine that they process it at the same time but make a statement regarding his behavior as well.  We don’t have the full run of show (run of train-wreck?) yet.

2:30
Ben Clemens: Yeah if the official statement comes out about this and it’s clear that they are two things, I’ll revise my judgment. But betting on baseball to be sensitive around handling issues of misogyny/domestic violence/general poor behavior towards women hasn’t been a good bet.

2:30
Morbo: Hey, the chat is finally working

2:31
Ben Clemens: Yes, as it turns out, I’m a dope, but Meg helped me fix it.

2:31
Johnnt5Alive: I was pretty excited about the mets moves earlier in the offseason, but then the nats went and did a bunch of shrewd signings and i remember that the braves are excellent and the phillies have money and it makes me sad.  Do the mets have the most variance of any team in the east? That is, I think they can easily do a 2015, but they could also easily do a 2017.  I don’t see as much variance around the outcomes of the other 3.

2:32
Ben Clemens: I don’t know what to make of the Mets. They’re built pretty well; if we didn’t know these were the Mets, you could say things like ‘they’ve made decent decisions to prioritize offense over defense given their pitching is so strikeout-heavy’

2:32
Ben Clemens: And ‘they do an incredible job developing mid-round picks into serviceable major leaguers’

2:32
Ben Clemens: Some of the criticism they come in for is unfair, because people like mocking the Mets.

2:33
Ben Clemens: That said, I’m kind of missing the point of your question and talking about how I like the Mets.

2:33
Ben Clemens: I don’t think they have particularly more variance than the other teams. The Nats have a lot of old dudes on their team, I’d maybe put them highest in variance.

2:34
Ben Clemens: The Mets feel more variable because they’ve been so hot and cold, but I don’t really think that’s predictive.

2:34
Morbo: I’m guessing the Red Sox aren’t happy right now. It also seems safe to assume that Alex Cora is going to be taking a year long vacation as well

2:34
Ben Clemens: Hopefully he likes fishing. I tend to agree.

2:34
Chris: Will haniger get traded before the season, at the deadline or not at all?

2:35
Ben Clemens: I think there’s very little chance he’s traded before the season. He didn’t play much last season, what with the horrifying injury and all.

2:36
Ben Clemens: So the Mariners would be selling into a depressed market. Not that you shouldn’t sell into a low market (it can always go lower), but if I’m the Mariners, I want to increase my variance at the moment. One way you can get good again faster is if Haniger recovers and you get a haul for him.

2:36
Ben Clemens: Whereas if you trade him now and teams are haircutting you for the risk, it’s not really moving the needle I don’ think.

2:36
Ben Clemens: So I’ll say deadline, but only because I think he’ll be good again.

2:37
Swanson: Why do so many of the article titles try to be “cute” or funny? Eventually they just come off as tacky.

2:37
Ben Clemens: Maybe we’re aiming to be tacky

2:37
Ben Clemens: Ever think of that?

2:38
Ben Clemens: I can only speak for myself, but I’m terrible at coming up with titles. After writing 1500 words or so, I’m not in the mood for being pithy usually. If you look through my archive, the articles I’ve written with the least editing tend to have the best titles, but I find titling an article to be very difficult.

2:38
E: Would someone like Khris Davis be the best defensive shortstop in my slow pitch softball league?

2:38
Ben Clemens: Yes.

2:38
Morbo: Have you heard any rumors of any other teams that might get caught up in the sign stealing scandal? Thought I heard the Yankees mentioned as one of the progenitors 5 or so years ago

2:38
Ben Clemens: Red Sox, Yankees, (very rumored) Brewers

2:38
Mo Money Molina: Who has higher career WAR, O’Neill, Bader or Arozarena?

2:39
Ben Clemens: Oh man. I think O’Neill/Arozarena is a good question.

2:39
Ben Clemens: But I think Bader is way ahead of them

2:40
Ben Clemens: So I’ll just say Bader. I think the Cardinals have mismanaged him, but he’s so good on defense that he should keep getting everyday starter PT for a long time, and he already has a big leg up.

2:40
Morbo: Whats the brewers roumor?

2:40
Ben Clemens: Eh, they have some Astros people in their front office, and Yu Darvish and Christian Yelich had a frankly adorable feud on Twitter about Yelich allegedly looking into the outfield while Darvish was on the mound.

2:40
Ben Clemens: That one’s thin.

2:41
Derek: Please help a Red Sox fan (for now?) rationalize why the **** they (one of the richest teams in the sport) appear to still be seriously considering trading Mookie Betts (a consensus top 5 player in baseball) instead of just giving him some damn money to remain a Red Sock/Red Sox for the forseeable future. It is literally mind-boggling. Thanks!

2:41
Ben Clemens: Sorry bud, I’ve got nothing for you. It’s a travesty that they’re not locking Mookie up for a long time.

2:41
Dogs, etc.: Rapid fire impressions: Pugs, Favorite Euro Board Game, Mitch Keller vs. Brendan McKay long-term value (as SP).

2:41
Ben Clemens: Oh now this is right up my alley. I’m fairly indifferent on pugs as a breed.

2:41
Ben Clemens: Ruby (my dog) is a retriever/pit mix of some type, she’s a rescue.

2:42
Ben Clemens: I tend to like big dogs, so pugs run a bit small for me.

2:42
Ben Clemens: Favorite Euro game: really depends on what you mean by Euro. My favorite board game of all time is probably Clank, which I highly recommend if you haven’t played it. We also picked up Just One over the holidays, and it’s a great party game.

2:42
Ben Clemens: And gimme Keller, though maybe not on the Pirates.

2:43
Brian CashGod: fwiw, assuming the Astros continue to win over the next couple of years, the value of two (late) first rounders and two second rounders is about $40M (per Craig Edwards), so the total economic penalty is ~$45M

2:43
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it would be cleaner if they could just fine them, but they’re going after the wallet. Smart move imo.

2:43
guest: As time passes, Red Sox dealing Price seems less and less likely.  Do you agree?  Chances less than maybe 1 in 3?

2:44
Ben Clemens: I think that’s true qualitatively, though I don’t know about 1 in 3.

2:44
Ben Clemens: I think that if some team really wanted him, we’d have seen a trade. That’s not to say there aren’t negotiations going on but there’s a conspicuous lack of smoke.

2:44
Jon: Trading Mookie makes perfect sense. He’s not signing anything long term regardless and they have major roster issues that could be addressed through trades. You wouldn’t do anything like the Goldschmidt deal if you were the Red Sox?

2:45
Ben Clemens: If the Diamondbacks offered Weaver, Young, Kelly, Comp B pick for Mookie, I think that trade would favor the DBacks

2:45
Ben Clemens: So, there’s some fair value for him, of course.

2:45
Ben Clemens: But it would almost necessarily require the team to get worse in 2020.

2:45
Ben Clemens: And that seems weird given their construction?

2:46
Settler X: I assume you’ve played Catan? We’re late to the craze but finally found some people willing to play. Know of any other similar games we may enjoy?

2:46
Ben Clemens: Yeah, Catan is really fun, though I think its age shows at times; it can feel a little politic-y and dice-roll-dependent for my tastes at times.

2:47
Ben Clemens: If you want a fun game to play with a small group, and are the kind of person who reads FanGraphs, I know I’ve loved Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

2:47
Ben Clemens: Every playthrough takes an hour or so, and is a case: it’s cooperative, and you try to look for clues to solve a mystery like Sherlock Holmes.

2:47
Ben Clemens: You can make an evening out of it and have a dinner party for four, or just play with two people, and my wife and I always have fun with it.

2:48
Stephan: Any thoughts I who is most likely to become this year’s Most valuable late rd.SP’s.? I.E. 2018 Bieber, Paddack, Giolito.

2:50
Ben Clemens: So, I’m not your go-to guy for fantasy most likely, because I haven’t played in a few years, though I’m going to pick it up again this year I think. But in terms of players I like to break out this year, I’m pretty interested in Adrian Houser. I have no idea if he’s cheap or not, but if the Brewers are going to give him 30 starts, I think there’s something there. Love the changeup, love the fastball, love getting to face NL central offenses.

2:50
Jon: “And that seems weird given their construction?”

2:51
Ben Clemens: As in, they’re built to win in 2020. They have aging players they should be trying to maximize now. The forever dynasty thing is tough to do, especially if you’re not signing Mookie Betts to a long-term contract, and taking a step back in a really tough division when you know that you have Chris Sale semi-healthy this year seems weird.

2:52
Ben Clemens: Like the way you become a forever dynasty is through smart drafting, but also through locking up stars. Don’t trade your stars if you’re trying to compete is my view.

2:52
Settler X: Ah yeah the trick is finding a game that both I and my non-fangraphs reading wife will enjoy. Catan has struck that balance for now but I’m sure we’ll be looking for another game shortly.

2:53
Ben Clemens: Makes sense. I will say that I think co-op games are underrated. Tons of fun to play together and getting the endorphins of winning without squabbling is nice.

2:53
Nick: Practically speaking, how does MLB suspend Luhnow from his GM duties?  Are they going to track his movements to ensure he doesn’t show up at the stadium?  Monitor his phone calls and text messages to ensure he’s not giving directions to staff?

2:54
Ben Clemens: Presumably yes? More likely they’ll monitor the team’s emails and stuff, but I doubt he’s allowed in the stadium, and so on so forth.

2:54
j: Shouldn’t every team cheat as much as possible if this is the punishment?  if it’s true that the draft picks are worth 40 million and the fine is 5.  What team couldn’t afford a one time 45 million dollar investment to get better?

2:55
Ben Clemens: I don’t think so. 45 million dollars is a lot. And I think it would be really hard to quantify how much gain the Astros got from the scandal, but I can’t imagine the ROI is higher than spending money in the international market or on player development.

2:55
Ben Clemens: Now, if you add in the fact that they almost didn’t get caught, maybe that makes it more reasonable if you’re totally amoral? But I’m skeptical any team is going to look at this and think ‘yes this is what I should do.’

2:56
Johnnt5Alive: Games that are fun for small groups – exploding kittens! But also there are a number of semi-RPG card games that are fun, like Bang! (a spaghetti western inspired game), Donner Dinner Party, etc.

2:56
Ben Clemens: Oh yes exploding kittens is great. Also Letter Jam if your small group likes crosswords/word games.

2:56
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: I hope the acting Astros GM trades for Mookie.

2:56
Ben Clemens: Oh yes please. That would be so fun.

2:56
Mookie follow up: But I completely get your point about not trading your stars in building a dynasty. In the Sox case, however, this would be a way out of their current mess with bad contracts and not much support coming from the minors.

2:57
Ben Clemens: Yeah if you think the Sox aren’t good this year, then maybe. I think they’re pretty good this year, and that they should try to win now, let Mookie leave (or preferably keep him) and go from there. If a return bowls you over that’s one thing, but if you’re getting, say, a borderline top 100 prospect for literally Mookie Betts, why?

2:57
Tito Landrum IV: Assuming that Arenado opts into the remainder of his deal, what sort of STL package brings him in?  Gorman/Liberatore/Fowler (or Carpenter)/Hudson?  Does 2 sinkerballers, a future 3b, and a current 3b makes it work?

2:57
Ben Clemens: This is like, soooooo far over the top.

2:57
Ben Clemens: If I were the Rockies, I would snap this deal off instantly

2:58
Ben Clemens: Like, I’d say no-take-back-sies

2:58
Ben Clemens: I’m gonna paste in someone else’s speculation:

2:58
JJ: I agree some of the trade talk with re: Arenado seem so far out there.  Do you feel like I do that Stanton is a similar trade and that the Rockies should be looking at a couple minor league pieces and maybe one MLB piece who isn’t crazy expensive?  The only way I see them getting someone like Liberatore is taking on Fowler or Carpenter right?  And wouldn’t STL be interested in 4 years of Donaldson at $10mil less if they couldn’t get rid of Carpenter.  It just doesn’t pass the smell test to me.

3:00
Ben Clemens: So yeah, this is what I’m thinking. Arenado is better than Stanton, but he isn’t cheap. Assuming he declines his opt out right away, you can ballpark him as something like 27.5 WAR for $227.5 million (these are extreme ballpark numbers using bad aging assumptions).

3:00
Ben Clemens: That’s great, and there’s value in having someone so awesome on your team.

3:01
Ben Clemens: But it’s not *that* great. Maybe you could do something like Fowler, Liberatore, TON, and a bulk prospect? That would seem reasonable to me, though I don’t think the Rockies would necessarily do it even if the numbers lined up.

3:02
Ben Clemens: But if you’re the Cardinals, why spend so much for Arenado when you’ve been complaining about financial constraints?

3:02
Ben Clemens: There’s something weird about it to me.

3:02
Morbo: If I’m STL I’d probably do the Arenado trade for Gorman, (Fowler or Carpenter), and Hudson

3:02
Ben Clemens: Yeah Hudson over TON/bulk prospect, sure

3:02
Mookie follow up: “If you’re getting, say, a borderline top 100 prospect for literally Mookie Betts, why?” – Wouldn’t you assume the return would be Goldy return +?

3:03
Ben Clemens: Well I thought the Cardinals overpaid by a lot in that, and I think I’d rather have a year of Mookie than that return; so if it’s more than Goldy, that’d be interesting. Less than or equal to, eh.

3:03
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: People, if you want to spend $45 milli to get better for a season, grab the top 1-2 FAs on one-year deals. The trash can system was of questionable value. That Cole pitcher, on the other hand, is a proven commodity. We’re better than this.

3:03
Ben Clemens: Yeah, wholeheartedly agree.

3:03
Ben Clemens: There are ways to use money to get better.

3:03
Ben Clemens: That’s a lot of what baseball is!

3:03
Ben Clemens: Spending it on fines to cheat? Eh

3:04
Guest: Odds of Cora lifetime ban?  3+ year ban?

3:04
Ben Clemens: Lifetime, I’m going to say <5%. I won’t put an exact number on it.

3:04
Ben Clemens: But I don’t think it’s likely

3:05
Ben Clemens: 3+ years? I’ll put it at 25%, 2 at 40%

3:05
John Olerud’s Helmet: Oh wise one Mr Ben!! Enlighten thee!! Will Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal finish 1&2 in the AL ROY this season?

3:05
Ben Clemens: I’m not going to give anything away, but I have about seven good article titles lined up for Madrigal, so I hope so.

3:05
Silver Lining: So, time to sign some free agents with attached qualifying offers, since the Astros will now be forfeiting lower-level draft picks?

3:06
Ben Clemens: I mean, that would be savvy if you thought the Astros weren’t most concerned, this offseason, with saving money. But given that they’ve talked about trading Correa and didn’t even play on Cole, I’m pretty sure they’re trying to save money.

3:07
Morbo: You think its likely Cora gets a larger ban than Hinch and Luhnow? Why?

3:07
Ben Clemens: So, this is definitely speculation, but:

3:07
Ben Clemens:

No players were disciplined by Major League Baseball in the Astros’ investigation. While Mets manager Carlos Beltran was part of it, he was a player at the time and thus was not suspended.

Discipline for Red Sox manager Alex Cora is coming. It is going to be harsh, per sources.

13 Jan 2020
3:07
Zach: Welp Lunhow and Hinsch just got fired.

3:07
Ben Clemens:

Jim Crane just fired Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch.
13 Jan 2020
3:07
Ben Clemens: That’s a long suspension!

3:07
Ben Clemens: A forever one

3:07
Proposal: Proposal: Make all sign stealing of every sort legal. Leave it to catchers/teams to hide signs.

3:07
Ben Clemens: Uh, pass. Pass so much

3:08
Ben Clemens: Why would you want this?

3:08
Ben Clemens: All this does is slow the game down more for no gain

3:08
Ben Clemens: No one wants to watch teams steal signs. I’m fine with players taking little edges but this seems crazy to me.

3:08
Guest: Yea what do you think QO penalty for HOU is now?

3:08
Ben Clemens: If I recall correctly, it’d be their highest pick, so third round pick?

3:09
Morbo: I’m actually shocked that the astros fired them. Luhnow more so than Hinch. Managers are more replaceable than a good GM/POBO

3:10
Ben Clemens: I’m more shocked by Luhnow than Hinch, but the Astros FO, at this point, might be causing more trouble for Crane than they’re worth. Advantages aren’t permanent, personnel changes, and it could be that he was employing the guys who were really valuable 5 years ago but are just average now, and in exchange getting alllllll this awful behavior for it.

3:11
Johnnt5Alive: I think the astros penalty regarding QO if I read correctly is that it will be 2 first rounders, so if they would lose one due to singing a free agent, that year doesn’t count and they would instead lose their next first round pick.

3:11
Ben Clemens: I need to read through this. That would be a very clever way to do it, and in fact makes sense. If that’s the case, then wow signing a free agent is very bad for them now.

3:11
Matt: Do you think Crane was aware of the punishments ahead of time and able to mull this decision, or do you think he got the info relatively real time and just reacted with the firings?

3:11
Ben Clemens: Oh 100%. I don’t know how far in advance, but they didn’t just tell the Astros on one line while someone called Jeff Passan on another line.

3:12
DJ Tanner: Why wouldn’t the Giants invite Heliot Ramos to Spring Training as non-roster invitee? He’s a top 3 prospect for them in AA, not far from the Show, wouldn’t it make sense to get his feet wet with the big boys?

3:12
Ben Clemens: I think they should! I think sending prospects to spring training should be done more often

3:13
Derek: Yeah, I think the firings read to me mostly as Crane just being fed up with everything. Obviously he has some level of tolerance for unsavory-leaning behavior, but there has to be a line somewhere!

3:13
Ben Clemens: I agree with this. Here are some things we can say with certainty

3:13
Ben Clemens: 5 years ago, the Astros front office was one of the very best in the game.

3:13
Ben Clemens: 3 years ago, the Astros front office was one of the very best in the game.

3:14
Ben Clemens: Currently, the Astros player development system seems amazing, though I’m not convinced they are playing 4d chess at the GM level.

3:14
Ben Clemens: Currently, the Astros front office is trying to do every scandal all at once.

3:14
Ben Clemens: So like…. maybe just fire Luhnow, keep the guys you still think offer some juice, and start over?

3:14
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Will Luhnow and Hinch work in baseball again?  This seems like a final nail type of deal.

3:14
Ben Clemens: I think Hinch yes Luhnow no

3:14
Ben Clemens: But I want to think about this more.

3:15
Jonesy: If you’re an aspiring baseball writer, how do you promote your writing without being too pushy or annoying?

3:15
Ben Clemens: Wonderful question. I’ll give you some stream of consciousness answers, but also drop me a DM on Twitter some time and let’s talk.

3:15
Ben Clemens: I think that it’s useful, as annoying as it is, to be associated with a brand.

3:16
Ben Clemens: So submit to THT. Submit to the community blog (which is awesome!).

3:16
Ben Clemens: Generally write a lot, and heck, if you don’t feel like writing for a place (I started at SB Nation, but there are several), just write your own stuff on blogspot or something.

3:17
Ben Clemens: One of my favorite people to read about the Cardinals literally just publishes his own articles on blogspot (https://onthecardinals.blogspot.com/)

3:17
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure how to go about building up a following, because I basically just wrote, a lot, and fell backwards into this job. But write. A lot.

3:18
Derek: Clerical question (been a while since I’ve caught a chat so this is the first of yours I’ve participated in): Are you officially in the chat rotation now and is this time set for each week or is it still up in the air?

3:18
Ben Clemens: This is my first chat! And I’m now in the rotation for good, every Monday 2pm ET

3:18
Don’t be a jerk?: How much of this is because they also taunted the other teams so much?

3:18
Ben Clemens: A lot! They cheated the most, but they were also the most jerkish about it.

3:19
Trent: Silver Lining’s loophole won’t work: “The Astros will also lose their first- and second-round picks in each of the next two seasons and be fined the maximum $5MM that is allowable under the league’s constitution. If the team does not have a first- or second-round selection in either draft — due to draft forfeitures for signing a free agent, for instance — they’ll lose that pick in the subsequent year’s draft.”

3:19
Ben Clemens: Thanks Trent. There you go.

3:19
Phil: Just bought Azul and love it.  Good thinking/strategy game that is easyish to explain and doesn’t take forever to play (also decent for kids/smart 8 yr olds and up)…Do you have any favorites in that vain?

3:20
Ben Clemens: Ooh Azul is amazing. I’ve only played Splendour a few times but people also like that a lot, and it’s a similarly abstract concept, though more of a deckbuilder than whatever you’d call Azul. Clank, which I suggested earlier, is also really fun, and I think kids 8+ would love the theme. Also, if you want a fast game, Sushi Go! is so so fun, and you can teach it in a few minutes.

3:21
Dogs, etc.: If like Azul, try Sagrada.

3:21
Bob: I can’t imagine Lunhow not working in baseball again based on his reputation, alone. I think a suffering franchise will take the gamble. He doesn’t deserve it based on how he runs his departments, but it would shock me to see him gone.

3:21
Ben Clemens: So this is interesting. I’m generally skeptical of the great man theory of baseball teams, and I wonder what owners think. One thing that I might think, if I were an owner, is “I care about my baseball team winning somewhat, but I care about losing $45 million worth of value somewhat more. This guy seems risky.”

3:22
Ben Clemens: I’d feel more certain about that if the punishment were all in fine,r ather than in draft picks.

3:22
Ben Clemens: But if we want to call owners jerks for not trying to win enough, we should acknowledge that they can be led by the wallet.

3:22
Ben Clemens: And hiring Luhnow seems financially risky. He’s a known cheating risk at this point. I imagine any hiring would have to come with extensive commitment on his part to be above-board.

3:23
Derek: Machi Koro is kinda different and I’ve generally had a great time with it!

3:23
Ben Clemens: Don’t buy the Harbor expansion, that ruined it for me. But great game, feels like playing craps at home!

3:23
Ben Clemens: (we have a lot of games)

3:23
Arkon: Hey Ben – thanks for your time and I loved your piece on Austin Hedges a few weeks ago. For someone who is interested in analytics and is working with Python currently, do you have any recommendations on resources/further reading?

3:24
Ben Clemens: I am probably worse at Python than you are. I have done a lot of learning on code academy, and I look up a ton of stuff on stackoverflow, but mainly what I’d say is come up with something that interests you and try to code it. And then you’ll fail, because things won’t work the way you think.

3:24
Ben Clemens: So do it a different way.

3:24
Ben Clemens: And that will probably fail too, but then you’ve learned two things that don’t work.

3:24
Ben Clemens: And so on.

3:25
Ben Clemens: When I write an article using Python, I’m often spending 5-6 hours failing to do what I want in the background before I write anything. It’s tough but satisfying.

3:25
Nate: Any thoughts on who the top GM candidates will be now to take over in Houston? Feels like Espada should be close to a slam dunk to take over as the new manager

3:25
Ben Clemens: I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea.

3:25
Ben Clemens: I don’t know a ton about the inner workings of their front office.

3:26
Ben Clemens: I think it will almost certainly stay in-house, though.

3:26
Ben Clemens: One thing I’ve learned from working at a variety of places is that when it seems like there’s one brilliant mind controlling somethin from the top

3:26
Ben Clemens: It means that the people working for them are great.

3:26
Ben Clemens: On the shoulders of giants, etc.

3:26
segiddins: What do you think are the odds we look back on this cheating scandal with the same rose-colored glasses we apply to other scandals that happened 50+ years ago?

3:27
Ben Clemens: Oh, quite high. And to be honest, I don’t think that we’ll ever be able to prove how much this benefited them. I think we will look back and say that the Astros got some advantage, and that they were punished by more than they gained.

3:28
Ben Clemens: I have no clue if that’s true, but to me the main (totally provable) victim in this is the viewer, who had to watch longer games.

3:28
Ben Clemens: And as victims go, that’s not so bad.

3:28
Ham: Ben, have you played Wingspan? Friends got it for the holidays, and we all had a blast with it the other night!

3:28
Ben Clemens: Ugh jealous. We aren’t buying new games at the moment because we have a backlog (getting a dog cuts into your gaming time)

3:28
Ben Clemens: But I’ve had my eye on Wingspan

3:28
Ben Clemens: I’m a sucker for pretty games

3:28
Ben Clemens: And it’s really pretty.

3:28
Matt: Its seems a little odd that the MLB wouldn’t wait with the findings on the Astros investigation to line up with the Red Sox, no? Could this mean that there is some larger information in the Sox case that might take quite some time longer?

3:30
Ben Clemens: Yes. I think that MLB wanted to get something done on the Astros, and they had more lead time there. There’s no compelling reason to sync up the punishments given that we’re not in-season; I’m sure the Red Sox would like to know ASAP, but if MLB is still investigating, they’re still investigating, and I’m guessing there’s a lot to dig through.

3:30
tom: i’ve basically taught myself excel vba based on stackoverflow and trial/error. it can be done!

3:31
Ben Clemens: Little inside baseball story that probably no one will enjoy: 14-ish years ago, in a college internship, my boss asked me to code something up in VBA. I said, absolutely, give me two weeks.

3:31
Ben Clemens: Then I bought a book on what VBA was, and spent four hours a night learning it.

3:31
Ben Clemens: FInished it just in time!

3:31
Ben Clemens: (it was a loop that tried to predict seasonal changes in natural gas prices based on weather, and it amounted to nothing)

3:32
HOF: Does this harm Beltran in the voting down the line? And Altuve someday with his case (if the MVP figures heavily)?

3:33
Ben Clemens: I’m curious to see what Jay thinks about this. My guess would be Beltran no, because it’s not as though his performance on the Astros is part of his candidacy. But Altuve yes if he’s a cuspy HOF’er, because his peak and accumulation stats were both potentially affected.

3:33
Cheating Expert: I’d say that Yu Darvish might have some opinions on who was actually hurt the most. Remember when he suddenly starting “tipping pitches” against the Astros?

3:33
Ben Clemens: Well he’s actually opined on this already. I can’t find the Twitter thread offhand, but he didn’t seem overly upset.

3:33
Ben Clemens: As a side note, if you don’t follow Darvish on Twitter (and you use Twitter), do it now.

3:34
Ben Clemens: He’s 100% undoubtedly the best active player to follow.

3:34
Ben Clemens: Ty Kelly is up there, but not active.

3:34
Ben Clemens: And also, Yu Darvish is an All Star while Ty Kelly is not. So Darvish wins the tiebreaker.

3:35
2-D: Do you think this punishment deters teams enough to in turn lessen the chances of MLB implementing the possible wacky anti-cheating measures they were discussing?

3:35
Ben Clemens: I do. This is a lot of dough. Owners care about money. MLB is going to be vigilant. My sense is that they are investigating MANY teams right now.

3:35
Matt: Regarding Beltran/HOF impact…not that I necessarily disagree with your argument, but how (if at all) would that argument be different from the “Barry Bonds was a HOF’er before he started taking roids” argument?

3:35
Ben Clemens: The difference is that Bonds played a lot of seasons where he was still great while allegedly using PED’s.

3:36
Ben Clemens: Beltran was on the Astros for a year and was worth -1.1 WAR

3:36
Ben Clemens: Stop Bonds’ career before 2000, and he’d be a lot worse. Stop Beltran’s career before 2017, and he’d be better.

3:36
James: Over/Under on 2.5 more teams facing punishments before all this is done?

3:37
Ben Clemens: Easy over.

3:37
Ben Clemens: Under 0.5 teams facing punishment approaching Astros severity

3:37
Ben Clemens: But I think they’ll want to do some small fines for small things to show that they’re serious.

3:37
Matt: Right, but if we could statistically put pre-roid Bonds in just on his pre-roid stats, then the roids negates him not due to impact but due to integrity. Thus wouldn’t the integrity aspect also disqualify Beltran? (Again, just playing Devil’s Advocate)

3:37
Ben Clemens: Yeah that’s fair. I mean, I can’t put myself in the shoes of those voters, because I’d vote for Bonds.

3:38
Ben Clemens: But also, my guess is that those voters don’t hate sign stealing as much as they hate PED’s? Sign stealing is as old as baseball, and Beltran is a baseballer’s baseballer.

3:38
Astros 2020: Is the team going to be humble for a year, finally? Like will they stop talking? Because that’s the thing that really needs to happen.

3:38
Ben Clemens: So, I’m not what you’d call an insider.

3:38
Ben Clemens: I don’t know anyone on the Astros, or much of anyone on any team really.

3:38
Ben Clemens: But I always got the sense that the whole ‘smartest guys in the room’ vibe started from the top.

3:39
Ben Clemens: And that it was a culture thing largely instilled at the highest levels

3:39
Ben Clemens: So maybe the people the next tier down are more chill

3:39
Ben Clemens: And humble.

3:39
Ben Clemens: We’ll see!

3:40
Ben Clemens: Alright, I’m going to wrap it up here, because I have forgotten to eat, and also I forgot to eat breakfast. But before I go, a quick award to my favorite username of the day:

3:40
Gerrit Cole’s Boras Corp Hat: (smiling)

3:40
Ben Clemens: Runners up: I liked Brian CashGod, and I liked BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins. And I can’t remember every name by a long shot

3:41
Ben Clemens: So come back next week, will you? We can talk cheating scandals, or computer programming and how I’m bad at it, or especially board games and sleeper pitchers

3:41
Ben Clemens: And heck, talk Mookie Betts while we’re at it.

3:41
Ben Clemens: Have a great day, everyone, and thanks for taking the time to chat!

We hoped you liked reading Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 1/13/20 by Ben Clemens!

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Ben is a contributor to FanGraphs. A lifelong Cardinals fan, he got his start writing for Viva El Birdos. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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MorboTheAnnihilator
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MorboTheAnnihilator

There appears to be something wrong with the chat

Metsox
Member
Member
Metsox

Couldn’t get past the velvet rope either