Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 11/28/22

2:03
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, welcome to the chat

2:06
Ben Clemens: Since it’s a slow news week so far, and was slow last week, and I’m still recovering from a wonderful trip to Mexico City, I’m going to take it slow on the chat today. There should be some fun topics to cover, though

2:06
JC: You’re the new Astros GM (after all, there’s a vacancy) and can sign any one free agent not named Aaron Judge. Who do you sign?

2:07
Ben Clemens: I think I’d probably sign Rodon. He just feels like a good fit for their window (endless) and pitching preference (powerful)

2:07
Chris: Is Jerry dipoto going to wait till the winter meetings before he cooks something up?

2:07
Ben Clemens: I sure hope so. I really love writing about trades at the winter meetings and DiPoto is our best chance for it

2:09
Ben Clemens: There will surely be SOME trades, don’t get me wrong

2:09
Ben Clemens: But the DiPoto ones are always really fun

2:09
Farhandrew Zaidman: Are you surprised that the final Clevinger deal is 1/$12 mil? Seems a little over the estimates, but the white sox are probably desperate for innings.

2:10
Ben Clemens: I’m definitely a bit surprised, but I think it supports one of the two theories I had about offseason deals

2:10
Ben Clemens: Namely, that everyone’s market is just a little stronger than I thought

2:11
Ben Clemens: Most of the deals that have gone through so far are above both my and the crowd’s estimates. It seems to me that teams are just spending a bit more in free agency this offseason

2:11
Dancing dan mcgraw: How about using IKF behind the plate as a way to get a bit more value out of him?

2:12
Ben Clemens: I don’t really get how this would add value. He was always miscast as a catcher — he’d tell you that. It’s nice to have him on a roster as an emergency catcher, I guess, but he wasn’t a great defensive catcher, and he’s not a great hitter

2:13
Ben Clemens: He’s better as a utility infielder, and I do think it’s cool that he lets you carry a bat-first catcher who you can DH/PH with and not worry about the whole ‘my guy gets injured and now i need an emergency catcher’ issue

2:13
Ben Clemens: Hey, he’s a good fit with Gary Sanchez!

2:13
Colin Robinson: Hey Pirates fans! I’ll be guest GMing your team through the end of the year. Hope you liked my latest signing of Carlos Santana. Not, I should note, the American guitarist who rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band Santana, but rather the fifth-best hitter for last year’s Kansas City Royals, depending on how you count qualifying plate appearances…

2:13
Ben Clemens: Delightful

2:14
Chris: Is there anything to the idea that a lineup should have a balance between sluggers and OBP-driven hitters? Or should teams just try to get whoever is the best available regardless of the source of their production?

2:14
Ben Clemens: There is not anything to it

2:14
Ben Clemens: In fact, you should go the other way

2:14
Ben Clemens: OBP is OBP’s best friend, which makes sense

2:14
Sean L.: I see stories from local media about the Cardinals interest in Trea Turner quite a bit.  It seems pretty clear from the past signings of the St. Louis front office that they will not be signing any big name free agents, and especially not to long term deals.   For example, Dexter Fowler and Mike Leake have been some of their “big” signings.  Do you see them changing their approach?  Or will they address the roster issues through trades?

2:15
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I don’t think they’re likely to be in on Turner given their general operating plan. They clearly like the exclusive negotiating window with stars and would prefer that to getting into open-market bidding wars. I’m not sure it gets them better deals on net, but they seem quite comfortable with it in any case

2:15
Ben Clemens: It also doesn’t fit in that I think upgrading at pitcher would pay more dividends for them. They have plenty of infielders they’re trying to juggle as it is

2:16
mikeschach: Given what Diaz cost the Mets, what could Hendriks bring the WhiteSox in a trade? A starting second baseman? A decent outfielder?

2:16
Ben Clemens: For some definitions of ‘starting’, sure

2:18
Ben Clemens: I mean, maybe Brandon Lowe is available somehow? I don’t think Hendriks would be enough but maybe he’d be part of the deal. If I were the Sox, though, I think I’d hang on to Hendriks, who is a true difference-making closer

2:18
Ben Clemens: I think that the market in trade for those guys is a lot better at mid-season, anyway, when the team trading for them knows it’s in contention

2:19
Dan: The Bryce Harper article said his injury would be season ending without a universal DH but wouldn’t his bat make him well above replacement level even if he had to toss the ball left handed to the center fielder when ever he fielded it?

2:20
Ben Clemens: The Cardinals tried this once with Randal Grichuk. It was really embarrassing for everyone involved, Grichuk and the other outfielders included. I do not think that a no-arm Harper would play the outfield. I also think turning every baserunner into Trea Turner (probably the easiest analog for this) on any ball hit to right would be a pretty big hit

2:20
Ben Clemens: Sounds like it might be fun to look into, really

2:20
comish4lif: If MLB tried to institute winter signing and non-signing periods, how would that work?

2:20
Ben Clemens: I think it’d be something like ‘no deals between the winter meetings and new years’

2:21
Ben Clemens: The NBA has an enforced dark period after the Finals, and I think it is a good guideline. There, deals basically get done quietly and then all announced as soon as the moratorium is over

2:21
baseballenjoyer: Astros GM by committee says, “Sorry Ben, we’re going Abreu.” Good signing imo.

2:21
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I haven’t seen the final terms yet but I’ll be writing up this deal

2:22
Ben Clemens: I like it! I also like Jose Abreu a lot. The Astros replace their Cuban-legend 1B with a Cuban-legend 1B with a cooler goatee

2:22
Chip: I’m seeing a lot of headlines (including at FG) about how Guy X will see improvements with the shift ban this year. But prior to the ban the talk was that shifting was not that helpful for defenses and therefore individual batters shouldn’t see a huge spike in production when it is banned. Is this just “Sam Hilliard to the Braves is not news unless we find an angle” or do analysts/teams think there will be significant production value found post-shift ban?

2:23
Ben Clemens: For my part, I’d think it’s more of an angle to write about than anything else. That said, I haven’t really dug into it too much – my general assumption mirrors yours. It’s also the case that it’ll affect some hitters more than others, though. I think Santana was among those most affected thanks to his lefty profile

2:23
Judge career: …if Judge puts up four more seasons like his worst full seasons, he probably makes the HOF. That’s pretty absurd considering the late start, but it’s a huge if. That said, pretty sure he’s surmounted “huge ifs” before.

2:23
Ben Clemens: I think you mean ‘huge OF’

2:23
Ben Clemens: He’s a huge outfielder

2:23
Ben Clemens: (yeah it’s crazy. I think he’s on a HoF trajectory now, it makes me very happy)

2:24
Rita: Has there been a faster start to this offseason than usual or does it just feel that way?

2:24
Derek: Why do you think the FA market has been so slow to develop this year?

2:24
Ben Clemens: My take: this is just the old-school November we’re used to

2:24
Ben Clemens: Last year was ultra-fast and I kinda thought this year would speed up as a result, but it hasn’

2:24
giraffe: If you were the guardians GM, who would you look to acquire in trade? /Would you consider Sean Murphy? It looks like there’s a glut of every day prospects w/o space to promote them.

2:26
Ben Clemens: This is an endless issue with the Guardians. They accumulate prospects by trading for quantity when they deal people, then have 40-man crunches. If I were them, I would be very interested in Murphy, and I actually think it’s a great fit b/c the A’s also love to acquire bulk when they trade for prospects. I am skeptical that the Guardians will do it, though. Their m.o. is to try to get more players than they trade back in almost every deal, and they are pretty smart, so they have some method behind their process

2:26
Marshall: Thanks for your Kung Pao Garbanzo recommendation last week. I think you should make a vegetarian recipe rec every chat. Anything for us today?

2:26
Ben Clemens: I’m glad you liked it!

2:26
Ben Clemens: I’ll give you one that we make a lot of the time, courtesy of a food blogger my wife really likes

2:27
Ben Clemens: Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall veggies, and really one of my favorite veggies overall. The sauce used on this (garlicky citrus dressing) is also a personal favorite of mine, and I’ve stolen the sauce recipe and put it on disparate food plenty of times

2:27
Johnny5Alive: I think last year was fast because they were all worried about a lockout and people wanted to get signed up. Without that threat this year, its a much more normal off-season pace, no?

2:27
Ben Clemens: That’s my take, I just thought that teams and players both might have enjoyed the mid-November certainty

2:27
Ben Clemens: Makes buying a house less stressful, for example, if you’re a player

2:27
Ben Clemens: Maybe it’ll just shift to December now

2:28
Dan: If I added up all the WAR from the team depth charts now and again at the start of the season would it be the same because it’s always benchmarked to the same number or higher because a lot of talent is not currently on any roster?

2:28
Ben Clemens: Higher, because of the talent reason

2:28
Ben Clemens: We don’t do any forced benchmarking beyond what the projection systems do themselves

2:28
Ben Clemens: They consider the entire universe of players, inclusive of free agents

2:29
2:29
Ben Clemens: You’ll see that ‘free agents’ are projected for 187 WAR

2:29
Ben Clemens: The total amount projected across everything will go down as we square up PT, but the amount on teams should increase

2:30
Anj: If you had to speculate who the Orioles’ biggest acquisition would be, either through FA or trade, who would you say?

2:30
McPontiff: Similar to the Redbirds, I don’t expect big FA moves by the Orange n’ Black Birds, but for months I’ve been eyeing the M’s as a great need-for-need trade match. I like Pablo Lopez (and/or Cabrera) for a package of prospects. What other potential good fits do you see for replenishing the pitching staff?

2:31
Ben Clemens: I think they’d be a good fit for Rodon. I would have loved to see them sign Tyler Anderson, that’s my favorite signing of the offseason so far. I think that Rodon is probably above their realistic price point, but this would be a great year to splurge on a player who can help you in the future.

2:32
Ben Clemens: I also wouldn’t hate them signing, say, Cueto and Quintana

2:32
Ben Clemens: If they’re not gonna go for a top ticket bat

2:32
Derek: Would baseball be better or worse if any given game had the potential to cause an international incident, a la the World Cup?

2:33
Ben Clemens: so…. if the WBC were like that, better

2:33
Ben Clemens: I think one of the best parts of the WC is that it’s only once every four years

2:33
Ben Clemens: As I mentioned in passing, I was in Mexico City last week, and the dancing in the streets after Ochoa saved a penalty was straight up amazing

2:34
Ben Clemens: Luckily I was flying back to Tijuana when the Argentina-Mexico game happened so I didn’t see the rending of garments after that one

2:34
Mark: Why’re people not talking about Seattle and one of the big-time free agents more? They’ve got a lot of payroll space, an exciting young core, and seem willing to spend money the last two years.

2:34
Ben Clemens: I think it’s largely just b/c there isn’t that much baseball news going on at the moment

2:35
Ben Clemens: I still think they make good sense for that, and before news slowed down I was hearing a fair amount of chatter about whether Crawford could move to second

2:35
Insert Witty Name Here: Hypothetical: Take two highly knowledgeable baseball people.  Person 1 only has access to all private and public data collected on a random team of 2022 but no video.  Person 2 has the privilege of watching (and rewatching) every play of every game of said team in 2022 but with no access of any data of any kind. Not even handwritten notes.  Who do you think would have more accurate 2023 projections, and how wide of a gap would it be?

2:35
Ben Clemens: Hmmmm

2:35
Ben Clemens: I think I’d favor the person who got data but no video

2:36
Ben Clemens: Actually yeah, I don’t think it’d be that close

2:37
Ben Clemens: Just, video only is so hard

2:37
Ben Clemens: You need some data

2:38
Dan’l: Do the Cards need to think about the 2024 rotation this offseason? A lot of 2023 starters could potentially be gone then…

2:38
Ben Clemens: In theory yes, but in practice they’re not gonna do some fantasy-style trades where they add while subtracting and whatnot

2:38
Kenob Rosengale: Hey Ben, any scoops you might have on who the Phillies will sign?

2:39
Ben Clemens: If you mean the real-life Phillies, I think they’ll go small and sign some pitching. If you mean the MEB Phillies, they’re still covering their eyes in embarrassment b/c their good-for-nothing GM didn’t protect Rule 5 players (oof)

2:39
Just Fowl: Has the Cherington era damaged the collective psyche of Red Sox fans as to the lack of patience with Bloom? There is an imminent surge from the pipeline, but

2:39
Ben Clemens: Yeah, this sounds right to me

2:40
Ben Clemens: My Red Sox fan friends are generally just over the prospect-building hype

2:40
Derek: What’s your favorite FA-Team combination still on the table? I think Turner to Baltimore, and the resulting lineup containing Turner+Mullins+Mateo, would be incredible. So many stolen bases, especially with the new pickoff rules.

2:41
Ben Clemens: Oh, that does sound fun. I’m not sure how they’d get both Mateo and Turner on the field, b/c I don’t think Mateo makes much sense unless he can play short and I don’t think Turner is gonna move for Jorge Mateo, but it would be really fun

2:41
Ben Clemens: I think Rodon Astros would just be really fun to me. Rodon feels like an Astros kind of pitcher and I think they’d really bring out the best in him. I also think it’d be great if they looked at his pitch mix and just went, oh, yeah, okay it was already optimized

2:42
Ben Clemens: I would also be a fan of Judge to the Giants, partially b/c it’s a fun fit of team to player that I could watch in person, partially because I’d love seeing him hit oppo shots into the cove

2:42
Ben Clemens: People would just gasp

2:42
Insert Witty Name Here: What niche of baseball writing would you like to see more of?

2:43
Ben Clemens: This is obviously self-serving, but I love articles that use data to enhance a narrative, but are generally narrative-driven

2:44
Ben Clemens: It’s not that there are none of these, but they’re my favorites so I’d like to see more of them

2:44
Ben Clemens: I think that stories too often veer to one extreme or the other

2:44
Ernie Banksy: What are the Brewers trying to do?  That Josh Hader trade seemed like a very cute attempt to save money AND get better that didn’t quite work….do you expect more gymnastics like that from the cash-strapped Brew Crew/

2:44
Ben Clemens: I think that was their general plan: get better now and also in the future via 4-D chess

2:45
Ben Clemens: I expect more of that, to be honest. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of Burnes or Woodruff leave town, which will clear up money to sign the other one plus Willy Adames to an extension

2:46
Ben Clemens: and then you go get a McCutchen-y bat and call it a day

2:46
Steve O.: Jorge Mateo had an 82 wRC+ last season. They should probably upgrade on his position.

2:46
Ben Clemens: Eh, they don’t HAVE to. He’s a really good defensive shortstop, which counts for a lot

2:47
Ben Clemens: Like, he was nearly a 3-WAR player, though he probably won’t grade out so highly on defense next year

2:48
Ben Clemens: It’s totally fine to play someone like that. He really is a spectacular defender

2:49
baseballenjoyer: Rodon should have been an Astro from the jump. The Aiken pick…

2:49
Ben Clemens: Hey, didn’t that turn into Kyle Tucker?

2:50
Ben Clemens: Nope it turned into Bregman and Tucker was their regular pick

2:50
Ben Clemens: Yeah, uh, I think they’re happy with how it went

2:50
Grant: Brewers follow-up: why are we hearing they’re so adamant (Adames-ant?) about not trading Adames? I get why a normal team would want to keep him, but given the way they operate, it seems like a weird line to draw.

2:50
Ben Clemens: I get the sense that they have correctly reasoned that his trade value lags behind his value to the team

2:50
Ben Clemens: or at least, his perceived trade value

2:51
Ben Clemens: and so are preemptively saying they won’t trade him because they know they won’t at current market perception, so they might as well get some goodwill out of it

2:51
Ben Clemens: Plus he seems great! They should keep him

2:52
Ben Clemens: Abreu is gonna be around 3/20 apparently, btw

2:52
Ben Clemens: Beat both my and the crowd’s estimates

2:53
Ben Clemens: In length and AAV

2:53
Ben Clemens: another datapoint in favor of higher deals across the baord

2:53
Daniel Bardo Pond: If TV broadcasts could incorporate one baseball metric more into the viewing experience, which one should it be in your estimation?

2:53
Ben Clemens: Ooh

2:53
Ben Clemens: This is a great question, I’m gonna ponder it really quickly

2:55
Ben Clemens: I think I’d like to see more data about pitch movement

2:55
Ben Clemens: Esoteric rate stats are just a hard sell

2:55
Ben Clemens: Explaining to people how much a ball moves relative to an ‘average’ fastball or whatnot is really cool

2:56
Ben Clemens: The 3-d pitch paths that show different pitches are consistent crowd pleasers. I think it’s a great combination of data (we stat nerds love it) and visceral coolness. Seeing, say, a Rodon fastball overlaid with a less-explosive 4-seamer, and then the broadcaster tells you he got his last strikeout because his falls 3 inches less and so the batter swung at where he thought it would go? So cool

2:56
comish4lif: If we assume that baseball teams are smart (I know, stay with me) and baseball teams were shifting more and more each year, then shifting is working. Right? And limiting the shift (in a smart way) has to help offense at least a little bit?

2:57
Ben Clemens: I think it’ll help a little. But I don’t think it’ll be a ton, and there’s pretty good data that the total improvement wasn’t huge, even as the BIP improvement was meaningful

2:57
Appa Yip Yip: Given the deals we’ve seen thus far, is Nimmo getting 150?

2:58
Ben Clemens: Hm, I think he’ll wind up slightly short of that. I’m actually curious to see the first big-ticket signing. It’s at least conceivable that the top of the market will be less buoyant than the mid-level guys we’ve seen so far. But 3/60 for Abreu is starting to put that to the test

2:58
James: Odds that Dusty still bats Pena 2nd with Abreu added to the mix?

2:59
Ben Clemens: I mean, probably high, he likes continuity. It’s really not that big of a deal either way

2:59
Ernie Banksy: Boras says that Bellinger is only taking a 1-year deal.  Given that, will the money matter much less than the situation for him?  Sounds like Cody wants to get right, then hit the market again for big payday

2:59
Ben Clemens: Yeah, 100%

3:00
Ben Clemens: An extra million is not meaningful in the context of his career earnings

3:00
Ben Clemens: But finding a good landing spot, playing every day, and rebuilding his value is

3:00
Insert Witty Name Here: Have you tried the NYT Umpire Game? One of my longstanding wishes was for somehow have this at the ballpark where fans could see how hard this is in real life. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/sports/baseball/umpire-pitch-…

3:00
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it’s great, highly recommend it if you haven’t played

3:01
Ben Clemens: Alright, I’m gonna go start writing about Abreu. Have a wonderful week everyone





Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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FunFella13member
2 months ago

Can we get the “classic” theme to have a matching chat color palette? It uses the same one as “light”, but “dark” has its own.

FunFella13member
2 months ago
Reply to  FunFella13

same with the comment section