Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 5/18/20

2:00
Ben Clemens: Hey guys, and welcome to the chat. I’m doing a bunch of OOTP trade research today, which will probably be an on and off topic, but there’s also a ton to talk about in real baseball news, so let’s try to cover as much as we can.

2:00
Szan Dymborski: I don’t understand the meaning of the little chat preview blurb… Please elaborate on the poorly written joke

2:01
Ben Clemens: I’ll refer you to a lovely piece that our Craig Edwards wrote:

2:02
Jeremy: What is the benefit of the proposed 14-team playoff (aside from being like the NFL)? A season where records feature more noise and are less based on true talent seems like the last time to give a big reward to the #1 seed.

2:02
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it doesn’t exactly sync up. I think that the idea is that with a shorter time where fans can be interested, give more fans the playoffs.

2:02
Ben Clemens: But heck, just do 16 then.

2:02
Lucas: Should NL teams be placing more value on the all-bat no field backup catcher? I’ve always thought the value of having another good pinch hitter outweighed the 30-35 games they would have to play defense.

2:02
Lucas: Follow up – are teams too reticent to pinch hit with their backup catcher? I feel like potential injury to a starter is the stated reason, but given the low rate that these injuries actually happen and the wealth of super athletic players on an MLB team (such that, anyone could play a good enough catcher for three innings) would suggest teams are too conservative

2:03
Ben Clemens: So these two questions kind of blend together

2:03
Ben Clemens: Teams are deffffffinitely too reticent to pinch hit with their backup catcher.

2:03
Ben Clemens: Not that pinch hitting with them is insanely valuable, but it’s not *not* valuable, if you know what i mean

2:03
Ben Clemens: Teams should do it more, is the point.

2:04
Ben Clemens: But with 26 man rosters a new thing, I think a lot of teams will carry 2.5 or 3 catchers

2:04
Ben Clemens: 2.5 being a guy who can get behind the plate if necessary

2:04
Ben Clemens: And that will kind of unlock pinch hitting with the catcher.

2:05
Ben Clemens: It’s also somewhat meaningless this year — teams are going to be 30 deep or whatever, so i’tll be fine.

2:05
Oakland_Fan2: What would it take for Josh Hader to be traded? He’s under a very team friendly contract, and is the best reliever in the game. Do you think that a top prospect (e.g. Dylan Carlson) would make the Brewers trade him? I was going to try this on OOTP later today.

2:05
Ben Clemens: It’s difficult to find the right value for him I think

2:05
Ben Clemens: Teams are just so reticent to give up a big piece for a reliever these days

2:06
Ben Clemens: I think Carlson is in the ballpark for Hader’s value — but I also think that both teams would have a lot of trouble agreeing to that deal.

2:06
Ben Clemens: It’s weird, relievers have somewhat capped value from year to year, so even if you’re getting a long string of team control, it’s not in the concentrated doses that teams crave.

2:07
Mountie Votto: Who do you think the Reds are more likely to keep (for next season only): Bauer or DeSclafani? Obviously would likely be a one-year deal for Bauer and potential multi-year deal for Disco

2:07
Ben Clemens: DeSclafani by a bit. I think Bauer is increasing in likelihood with the new Driveline tie-ins they’ve been doing but the cost doesn’t really feel up the Reds’ alley to me.

2:07
Ben Clemens: I’d like to see it, particularly if there’s no season this year or if they miss the playoffs, but I’m just not convinced they’d go for it.

2:09
Derek: After watching some Bundesliga this weekend, a thing I am very much looking forward to about baseball games being broadcast with no fans is being able to clearly hear what players are saying on the field (hopefully, assuming they don’t change microphone setups). If a multilingual person (I’m pretty sure I heard at least 3 languages, and probably more) was watching any of those soccer games, I’m sure there was some very interesting conversation to be heard!

2:09
Ben Clemens: Haha yeah I don’t understand Korean, but it’s clear that that will also happen in baseball if they don’t pipe in crowd noise.

2:09
Ben Clemens: It was quite cool to hear dugout chatter.

2:10
Ben Clemens: After a quick pitch I could completely understand the dugout razzing the opposing pitcher

2:10
Ben Clemens: Even without knowing the words.

2:10
Ben Clemens: Itw as awesome

2:10
The Stranger: Not having read MLB’s full protocol for reopening play, does it address the circumstances under which players who were in contact with a player who tests positive will also be isolated as a precaution? Or does it appear that as long as they test negative and have no symptoms they’ll be on the field?

2:10
Ben Clemens: The second is the case as far as I can tell from reading it, though I’ll add that they will all be tested as well

2:11
Ben Clemens: As soon as there’s a positive test.

2:11
Ben Clemens: There’ll be contact tracing that will allow that.

2:11
Ben Clemens: So I suppose it depends how quick the turnaround on the tests is, but theoretically if someone tests positive, then no one they were in contact with will be playing until they test negative.

2:11
Derek: Has the likelihood of a coming work stoppage materially increased in the last week or two, or does it just feel that way?

2:12
Ben Clemens: I think it just feels that way. It really does feel that way! But honestly, I think a lot of this tension has been there under the surface.

2:12
Ben Clemens: The owners didn’t really go against their recent type — they’re agitating for lower player salaries using the media, using Manfred, using their own actions, using the draft, whatever

2:13
Ben Clemens: If I told you in 2019 the owners would come up with some silly reason they’re ‘losing money’ and ‘can’t pay the players’ in 2020

2:13
Ben Clemens: You’d totally believe me

2:13
Ben Clemens: Not about the COVID part but about the rest.

2:13
Ben Clemens: So this just feels like an escalation of that.

2:13
Ben Clemens: Or perhaps a continuation.

2:13
Morbo: Hi Ben, how have you been doing with the quarantine?

2:13
Ben Clemens: Hello! I’ve been doing alright, to be honest.

2:15
Ben Clemens: It’s not easy, but I think that my setup is quite good as far as people affected by the lockdown go.

2:15
Ben Clemens: I’m already able to work from home, and I happen to really enjoy OOTP, which is giving me something to do with all of my time

2:15
Ben Clemens: Of course, it’s been stressful, but it’s been stressful for everyone.

2:15
Ben Clemens: I won’t compare my having to write about baseball without baseblal to people losing their jobs — theirs is worse!

2:16
Ben Clemens: And my wife has to work from home as well, but our apartment is of a size that makes it doable for us both to work here, which is another huge blessing.

2:16
Ben Clemens: I wish we had an extra room but hi! I’m a human! I wish I lived in a bigger living space without having to spend more money for it!

2:16
Sir Nerdlington: outside front office wages and debt obligations, what else is in “local expense?” 4.7B seems like an enormous ‘misc – just trust us’ line item.

2:17
Ben Clemens: Loads and loads of awkward local TV spots

2:17
Ben Clemens: More seriously, stadium upkeep is a real thing, those things don’t run themselves by a long shot.

2:17
Ben Clemens: I imagine that they could slash those pretty heavily when they were running an empty stadium

2:18
Ben Clemens: But it’s not free to run a giant building like that. Particularly when you need to keep it in peak-peak condition all the time.

2:18
Ben Clemens: I’m not really sure what else goes in there — it’s really a weird term that implies they’re trying to obfuscate what they’re spending on, which should raise some red flags.

2:18
Ben Clemens: But there are true local costs for sure.

2:18
Derek: I just got a card in OOTP Perfect Team for someone named Goose Goslin, which of course prompted me to go read his SABR bio… And man things were wild in the early 1900s.

2:19
Ben Clemens: The best part of Perfect Team is the old cards by far.

2:19
Ben Clemens: Incidentally, Perfect Team is incredible overall, and the tournaments are buckets of fun if you’re an RPG player.

2:19
Ben Clemens: Because the game really feels like a baseball RPG with some really fun deckbuilding elements

2:19
Ben Clemens: But reading about the old players is just phenomenal.

2:20
Ben Clemens: I built a tournament team that’s a bunch of old-school groundball pitchers and great infield defense, so you want really high-stamina guys, aka early 20th century pitchers

2:20
Ben Clemens: I have two guys with the respective nicknames of “The Goshen Schoolmaster” and “The Yiddish Curver”

2:20
Ben Clemens: Phenomenal!

2:20
Ben Clemens: My shortstop had 17 WS rings

2:20
Ben Clemens: How is that even possible!

2:20
Jeff: Speaking of backup catchers that hit…How low key real life good is that Contreras/Caratini duo in Chicago?

2:21
Ben Clemens: Yeah it’s excellent

2:21
Ben Clemens: Caratini might be as good as Contreras honestly

2:21
Ben Clemens: It’s really hard to know how much of Contreras’s poor framing numbers is noise and how much is real

2:21
Ben Clemens: But they’re both above average catchers, which feels very rare these days.

2:22
Ben Clemens: In our OOTP league the Cubs traded Caratini for pretty good value, and that made a lot of sense to me. He’s really overqualified as a backup.

2:22
Jeff: Will Derek Jeter’s Player Tribune ever take off or is it to American for 21st centry ‘Merica? I think it suffers the fatal flaw if trying to reach the masses of celebrating people rather than the machines they work

2:23
Ben Clemens: I’m honestly unsure.

2:23
Ben Clemens: I’m not really sure that hte problem is that it celebrates the players.

2:23
Ben Clemens: It does that, but in a both-teams-played-hard-and-I-love-baseball way that is really a common throughline in baseball stories over time.

2:24
Ben Clemens: Some of the problem is that it’s stuck in a weird place where it tends to get these stories that are a mix of human interest and nitty gritty

2:24
Ben Clemens: Which makes sense, because if you ask a player about his life, he’s an extreme nerd about the sport most likely but then also a person outside of that.

2:24
Ben Clemens: And if you give someone editorial control, they will probably want to talk about themselves, naturally.

2:26
Ben Clemens: I”m just not sure that that angle works. I like reading the baseball stories a lot though!

2:26
Sonny: I don’t believe owners want to play this season and the demands they’re placing on players are a bad faith maneuver to get out of the March agreement.

2:26
Ben Clemens: Eh, I don’t think this is the case at all.

2:26
Ben Clemens: That TV money is a big deal

2:26
Ben Clemens: .I think the idea of this is to trash the players in the court of public opinion

2:27
Ben Clemens: Hence all these bizarre ‘oh we’re willing to lose money ot play the game’ things

2:27
Ben Clemens: No you aren’t!

2:27
Ben Clemens: You’ve been ever so clear over the years about a complete unwillingness to lose a red cent.

2:27
Ben Clemens: They just know they won’t get punished by the media for it

2:28
Ben Clemens: So they lie and trash the players and hope the players cave

2:28
Ben Clemens: It’s smart, honestly, b/c fans love billionaires and teams

2:28
Ben Clemens: But I think that the owners badly want a season but also know they have the leverage to both make the players look bad and make them cave

2:28
Morbo: Re The teams loosing money: I can’t imagine that the Rays or the Marlins were really counting on their attendance of dozens of fans a game to be profitable. The claim that those teams will loose $91 million and $126 million respectively based on not having fans in the ball park is laughable. Additionally even if teams are allowed to have fans at 25% capacity both of those teams could experience 0 attendance loss since they don’t come close to filling their stadiums

2:28
Ben Clemens: Yeah the entire thing is comical

2:28
Ben Clemens: Comical!

2:29
Ben Clemens: They also claim, with a straight face, that they’ve never made any profits

2:29
Ben Clemens: While publicly reported revenue skyrockets far faster than player salaries

2:29
Ben Clemens: And at the same time huge market teams take below-market deals with wholly or mostly owned RSN’s

2:29
Ben Clemens: That are making insane bank

2:29
Ben Clemens: They just know that they don’t even have to try

2:30
Ben Clemens: They can say whatever the heck they want.

2:30
Ben Clemens: So they do!

2:30
Ben Clemens: If you knew that if you claim you aren’t making money, people would believe you

2:30
Ben Clemens: Why not do it!

2:30
Highway61: Do you think Blake Snell came across as reasonable, out of touch with society, or just a petulant child?

2:30
Ben Clemens: Honestly, a little of the first and a little of the second.

2:31
Ben Clemens: I get his overall point, but the Blake Snells of the world, while they are getting screwed over by the system, aren’t the ones I care most about

2:31
Ben Clemens: It’s the min salary guys and minor leaguers.

2:31
Ben Clemens: So his haha pay me thing

2:31
Ben Clemens: Yeah I mean, that’s true!

2:31
Ben Clemens: But the guys I feel worst for aren’t Blake Snell, and I wish he would have spoken to that more.

2:31
Ben Clemens: Doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s right, just that it didn’t come across as well as it could have.

2:31
Sir Nerdlington: Median player salary is 1.4M. At what salary level do players on the 40 man say, let’s broaden the tent and include minimum wages for those in the Minors? The stronger the floor the more leverage a union has to stop work.

2:31
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I truly don’t understand why this hasn’t happened

2:31
Ben Clemens: A la Snell comment above.

2:32
Ben Clemens: No idea whatsoever

2:32
Guest: Ben, what are the best board games to play over zoom?

2:32
Ben Clemens: Ooh! Okay so there are a few options

2:32
Ben Clemens: If you’re willing to play an online game, as in one that doesn’t use a physical board, there are two great options

2:32
Ben Clemens: Tabletop Simulator, which I haven’t used, and boardgamearena, which I have

2:33
Ben Clemens: Board Game Arena is actually really good if you don’t mind the interface, which I think is good.

2:33
Ben Clemens: And on there, my favorite games so far have been Sushi Go, Six Nimmt, and Can’t Stop

2:34
Ben Clemens: Seven Wonders is in my all-time pantheon of good group games as well

2:34
Ben Clemens: If you want to play games over Zoom, we’ve had a lot of success with Jackbox

2:34
Ben Clemens: You have the person who owns it share their screen, and everyone else just logs in via the website. It’s designed for everyone to play on their phones, so it works well.

2:34
Ben Clemens: If you’d rather have an everyone talk, no computer screens game, Mafia style games work pretty well

2:34
Ben Clemens: There are a trillion of those, I won’t single any out

2:35
Ben Clemens: We also have been playing Just One

2:35
Ben Clemens: Which is an everyone cooperative game

2:35
Ben Clemens: Only one person needs a set, everyone else just needs writing implements and paper.

2:36
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Been playing a lot of jackbox games over Zoom, lotta fun

2:36
Ben Clemens: Yeah I have four-ish recurring game hangouts.

2:36
Ben Clemens: Poker, euchre, and two rotating games

2:36
Ben Clemens: The rotating games end up being jackbox a lot

2:36
Ben Clemens: Oh, also I learned euchre!

2:36
Trent Hauser: I am here for your owner rants. Viva la revolución!

2:36
Ben Clemens: Haha yeah I might have gotten a little carried away.

2:36
Ben Clemens: So I’m making up for it by going into talking about board games.

2:37
Ben Clemens: So that hopefully the people who are annoyed by my ranting will get bored and leave 🙂

2:37
BASEBALL SZN: RE: games over Zoom – D&D works pretty well too!  My group uses Roll20 to play, keeps the dice rolling and character sheets all in one place.

2:37
Ben Clemens: I have heard this as well. I don’t play but a few of my friends/acquaintances do and they say it’s actually as good of an experience as live almost b/c of the scheduling.

2:38
Guest: When a veteran player sign a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, how much is that deal worth?

2:39
Ben Clemens: So, every deal is different in various specifics. But the way they generally work is that in the event that the player lands on the active roster, there’s an agreed-upon deal

2:39
Ben Clemens: And there’s either a gentleman’s agreement or a contractual obligation that if the player isn’t put on the active roster, he can opt out of the deal and find a place where he can make the majors

2:39
Ben Clemens: I believe Gio did this last year.

2:40
John: Anyone can say what they will about Scott Boras, but he hasn’t furloughed a single employee in his company. Yet MLB is cutting costs with 10+ year organizational employees who were drastically underpaid to begin with.

2:40
Ben Clemens: Yeah Boras isn’t a knight in shining armor but he’s come off looking pretty good in all of this.

2:40
Ben Clemens: The idea that these businesses are just so damn unwilling to ever lose a dollar is crazy to me.

2:41
Ben Clemens: They just sold MLBAM for 50 million dollars profit per owner

2:41
Ben Clemens: And that money went into a sweet new mansion, new Maserati SUV’s, a new sound system for the yacht, and PR, as far as I can tell

2:41
Ben Clemens: B/c it CERTAINLY didn’t go into player salaries or paying the low-salaried people who work for the team during a pandemic.

2:41
Jeff: I’m actually a fan of trading Contreras and keeping Caratini…Think the staff likes throwing to him more

2:42
Ben Clemens: I’d prefer they do this as well, but the Cubs just won’t do it.

2:42
Ben Clemens: I have a hard time making sure I’m being objective about Contreras, b/c he really just annoys me

2:42
Ben Clemens: I don’t think it’s a Cardinals fan thing, though

2:42
Ben Clemens: Like, I think Javy is a blast to watch

2:42
Ben Clemens: Yu Darvish is probably my favorite pitcher

2:43
Ben Clemens: Just, god, Contreras going out to the mound b/c he forgot the signs again

2:43
Ben Clemens: ughhhhhhhhh

2:43
the Electrician: One benefit of a fan-less environment could be more mic’d player banter. It could be a way for the league to build star power. Obviously there’s a lot of risk (Sam Darnold talking about ghosts) for guys to say regrettable things, but assuming its not a live feed, could we get some Hard Knocks like content?

2:43
Ben Clemens: Yes!

2:43
Quarantino Martinez: I wanted to root for the LG Twins, but am worried about them killing people in India. What say you?

2:43
Ben Clemens: Ughhhhh I say that global capitalism sucks and makes it impossible to ever have any fun.

2:43
Ben Clemens: I don’t want to spoil the good place, but, watch that?

2:44
Ben Clemens: I don’t know how to handle this ethical dilemma. There is a real argument that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, and I don’t know what the heck you’re supposed to do about that.

2:44
John: Yermin Mercedes hype train Y/N

2:44
Ben Clemens: I mean, try to imagine a worse team for him to be on.

2:44
Ben Clemens: I’ll wait.

2:45
Ben Clemens: But hell yeah! Love catchers who can hit

2:45
Ben Clemens: Maybe he’s just a DH, but again, the White Sox aren’t swimming in at-bats for that kind of guy

2:45
Ben Clemens: But he’ll work somewhere

2:46
Dave: David Dahl had his spleen removed in 2015.  That compromises his immune system and puts him in the high risk category for COVID-19.  Can you think of any other MLB players that might be high risk and for what reason?

2:46
Ben Clemens: Jon Lester battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

2:46
Ben Clemens: Trey Mancini is currently battling cancer.

2:47
Ben Clemens: I don’t know what all conditions people have but there are PLENTY of pre-existing health conditions players have that aren’t serious enough that we’ve heard about it

2:47
Realistic Pessimist: Multiple tests will need to be performed on players each time they are tested to try as best as possible to avoid any false positive/negative results.  One false negative and the entire team can go down on the QL.

2:47
Ben Clemens: A lot depends on the Type 1 and Type 2 errors of the tests.

2:47
Ben Clemens: Also on whether the errors are random or whether they are systematic biases

2:48
Ben Clemens: If they’re systematic, like if a given non-COVID antibody will always trigger a positive test even if the player doesn’t have COVID, two tests won’t work

2:48
Ben Clemens: I’m not a medical testing expert so this is a place where I’m willing to listen to them.

2:48
Hank: It seems that benefit of expanded rosters/more RP totally contradicts the 3 batter minimum rule.  Any chance they can get rid of that rule or is it a guaranteed done deal?  Do people really care now if the games are a little longer?

2:48
Ben Clemens: I think it’s a done deal. I actually like it; restrictions breed creativity

2:49
Ben Clemens: It’s not really strategy if you just fly your LOOGY out there every time a lefty is up

2:49
Ben Clemens: Give me some risk/reward

2:49
Ben Clemens: I used to be against the rule as being inelegant until I thought about it more.

2:49
Ben Clemens: But while I still think it’s inelegant, I love the idea that it’s forcing a manager to make a decision with real stakes.

2:50
Ben Clemens: If there’a an always-optimal play, even if that play requires more actions, it’s not actually an interesting decision

2:50
the Electrician: Could a portion of all player salaries be deferred down the road, where the players are still guaranteed to receive the amount they are contractually owed, but not until an agreed upon date (a year later, rolling, I dunno) where the industry gets a chance to start rolling again?

2:50
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think this is a very good idea for a compromise.

2:50
Ben Clemens: And it actually has some good economics to it as well.

2:51
Ben Clemens: Basically the players are likely to want to invest their money in some safe, risk-free way (I think)

2:51
Ben Clemens: While teams borrow money at a risky rate

2:51
Ben Clemens: Maybe BBB+ or something.

2:51
Ben Clemens: So there’s some rate where the players don’t care about deferrals and it saves the owners money.

2:51
Ben Clemens: It’s a clever little credit arb, too: the players are implicitly bearing credit risk from teams already.

2:52
Ben Clemens: So bearing more isn’t a huge deal, particularly if they can get a little compensated for it. Meanwhile, the team saves some money on its future obligations b/c it can offer the players, say, T-Bills +1% instead of something 100s of bps higher

2:53
Ben Clemens: I honestly don’t get why more teams don’t do some type of contract deferrals.

2:53
Ben Clemens: It’s a win/win as far as I’m concerned if you make the economics work

2:53
Derek: So after finishing up the Goslin SABR bio, I don’t know why this guy isn’t more famous. For starters, he won the 1935 World Series with a walk-off hit which he apparently predicted. He was blindly signed by the Senators after their owner found out the Orioles were going to sign someone, and then somehow (I want to know more about this) tricked someone he was golfing with into giving him Goslin’s name and info, and just offered him $1,000 more than the Orioles did without ever seeing him play. He spent a day during spring training throwing a shotput like a baseball which ruined his throwing arm. He dislocated a bystander’s shoulder by hitting them with a home run ball. He tried to get himself ejected after getting two strikes on him in an at-bat that would decide whether he won or lost the batting title, but the umpire told him nothing he could do would get him ejected and that he wouldn’t call a walk no matter what – he ended up getting a hit. He once tried to use a zebra-striped bat to distract the pitcher.

2:53
Derek: I think Goose Goslin is my new favorite player.

2:54
Ben Clemens: Opening a random early 20s SABR bio is likely to be great

2:54
Ben Clemens: Opening one of a good player is likely to be even better.

2:54
Ben Clemens: I recently opened a Bill Bevens card.

2:54
Ben Clemens: Bevens threw 8 2/3 no-hit innings in a world series game!

2:54
Ben Clemens: And blew out his arm *during* that game, and the first hit was a game-ending double (he’d walked 10 batters during the game whoooops)

2:55
Ben Clemens: But then the night before game 7 of that world series, his wife stayed up all night massaging his arm while he slept

2:55
Ben Clemens: And he pitched 2 2/3 innings in the deciding game and the Yankees won!

2:55
Ben Clemens: He never played in the majors again

2:55
Ben Clemens: Baseball was WILD

2:55
Joe: How much bullshit does MLB legitimately expect us to believe?

2:55
Ben Clemens: I don’t know, their target audience probably isn’t you if you’re asking me this

2:56
Ben Clemens: My sense is that they’re just choosing their audience wisely

2:56
Ben Clemens: They know that if they really hammer their big media contacts for good press

2:56
Ben Clemens: And get a few ‘the owners are trying their hardest’ stories

2:56
Ben Clemens: They can live with the fallout from skeptical media

2:57
The Bomb Yo: Ken Giles contract is up at the end of this year.  What is your prediction for what happens for him next….

2:57
Ben Clemens: I think he’ll sign something in the super-Pomeranz range

2:57
Ben Clemens: It doesn’t look like a fluke at this point, you know?

2:57
Ben Clemens: He’s had 5 good seasons out of 6

2:57
Ben Clemens: He’ll be 30, which limits the upside.

2:58
Ben Clemens: But Will Smith got 3/40 at 30

2:58
Ben Clemens: Maybe like 4/40 for Giles? Maybe 3/40

2:58
Ben Clemens: Who knows

2:58
Ben Clemens: I’d want him on my team

2:58
Derek: How did I not know there was a minor league team named after a slur against space raccoons from a Marvel movie!??

2:59
Ben Clemens: And it’s definitely not the only team with a raccoon mascot

2:59
Ben Clemens: I have a sweet Hudson Valley Renegades hat that makes it clear they are raccoons as well

2:59
Ben Clemens: (We’re talking about the rocket city trash pandas in case it wasn’t clear)

2:59
Guest: RE: OOTP. After getting the idea from an M’s blog, I’ve started simulating my own version of the 2001 Mariners to see if I can improve on their 116 wins. The other day, I simulated a game vs the Rays and since Brett Boone needed a rest, I figured I’d rest several regulars at the same time and just risk punting that game. I took out Ichiro, Boone, Mike Cameron and Dan Wilson. 

Naturally, the Mariners won 29-3.

2:59
Ben Clemens: Lol

2:59
Ben Clemens: Yeah

2:59
Ben Clemens: OOTP is great ufn

2:59
Ben Clemens: fun*

3:00
Ben Clemens: I am a big fan of the rest the whole squad at once thing

3:00
Ben Clemens: I don’t know why more teams don’t do it, I suppose I need to think about the math more

3:00
Ben Clemens: But I do it a lot in my sims

3:00
David: Ben, hope you are still following the KBO at least to what you can given the time difference. Any updated observations you’ve made about the play? Mine is the HR / power spike that has again occurred compared to last year. And man, some of these young kids (Lee Jung-Hoo of Kiwoom & Baek Kang-Ho of Kt wiz) have a real shot to becoming potential stars in MLB.

3:02
Ben Clemens: I have a few observations. One, I find it to be really incredible background viewing, but I’ve noticed I’m not doing as good of a job as I would hope payin attention to game-long narratives.

3:02
Ben Clemens: I think it’s because I’ve mainly been watching in Korean, and I think I rely on English language announcing to tell me ‘oh hey, pay attention, x is up’

3:03
Ben Clemens: Because otherwise I’m checking my phone or reading or cooking or whatnot

3:03
Ben Clemens: The vocal cue that I should watch is really good

3:03
Ben Clemens: Because I just don’t stare at the screen for the entirety of a baseball game

3:04
Ben Clemens: Second, Kang Baek-Ho (I’m still undecided on which way I’ll go in regards to ordering names) is the man

3:04
Ben Clemens: He looks good enough to play in the majors someday for sure

3:04
Ben Clemens: But my favorite KBO player is definitely Yang Eui-Ji

3:05
Ben Clemens: He’s Mike Piazza essentially

3:05
Ben Clemens: He had a 179 wRC+ last year as a catcher!

3:05
Ben Clemens: And it’s no joke, you watch him at the plate and he just crushes

3:05
Ben Clemens: Laser beams everywhere, never strikes out

3:05
The Stranger: Just wanted to say that you and Craig are spot on wrt the owners’ whining. Honestly, it’s getting hard to justify being a fan of this sport after being lied to so much

3:05
Ben Clemens: Thank you!

3:05
Ben Clemens: It’s a weird position.

3:05
Ben Clemens: Like, I just love baseball

3:06
Ben Clemens: That’s why I’m a baseball writer; it’s not for the sweet sweet glory of being a media member

3:06
Ben Clemens: Though I also love writing, don’t get me wrong

3:07
Ben Clemens: I think it’s acceptable to accept that the owners aren’t giving us the full truth

3:07
Ben Clemens: And still like baseball

3:07
Ben Clemens: You just have to think of it as PR posturing

3:07
Ben Clemens: They don’t believe this stuff any more than I do

3:07
Ben Clemens: They just think it gets them an edge in negotiations

3:07
Ben Clemens: And like, that sucks

3:07
Ben Clemens: But I still like baseball!

3:08
Ben Clemens: So I just say it sucks, and carry on liking it.

3:08
Ben Clemens: I dunno Maybe I’m just a coward, and I should have a stronger opinion.

3:08
Ben Clemens: But that’s how I think about it.

3:08
Jeff: Why don’t minor leaguers who wanted a min salary just go out and get a real job? It’s easy just pick yourself up by the boot straps, presentable, and speak the english good

3:08
Ben Clemens: Haha yeah right? Why don’t they just have some money saved away for a rainy day

3:08
Ben Clemens: Like responsible individuals and businesses do

3:09
Ben Clemens: Everyone should be able to handle a bump in the road without furloughing rent or meals

3:09
Ben Clemens: Wait

3:09
Ben Clemens: You can’t furlough your rent

3:09
Ben Clemens: Only employees

3:09
Ben Clemens: Wait am I mixing up individual responsibility (if you’re not rich it’s because it’s your fault) and team responsibility (don’t worry we have your back)?

3:09
Ben Clemens: It’s all so confusing these days

3:09
Derek: I recently started an OOTP game with the Angels, and I audibly celebrated when Albert Pujols decided to retire after 2020. That contract is… really not great. But hey, at least the Angels are one of the few teams willing to actually spend money!

3:10
Ben Clemens: Although of course, it’s confusing, because Arte Moreno is reportedly the owner most adamant that he won’t accept current salary levels

3:10
Ben Clemens: But yeah, that was not the best contract ever

3:10
Ben Clemens: I was quite sad when the Angels signed him away. And even then, as a far less baseball-savvy person, I thought woooooof, that contract looks sketch

3:10
Billy: Do you think part of the agreement involves no spitting and no snot rockets?

3:10
Ben Clemens: For sure!

3:10
Ben Clemens: Will it be followed? who knows

3:11
Jeff: What do you think of more and more athletes turning to PRP and stem cells before they even get to the point of talking surgery?

3:13
Ben Clemens: Honestly, I don’t really know the science of it. I feel like players should do what they think is best for htem.

3:13
Ben Clemens: I’m honestly tremendously unsure what that is.

3:14
Jeff: The future!

3:14
Ben Clemens: Heck yeah.

3:14
Ben Clemens: Eventually players might be able to just be holograms. That’d be sweet!

3:15
Marshall: My sense is that the owners actually have a lot more to lose from losing a season than the players. Total player salaries are something like 1.5B/year (I think), and much less after taxes. Wouldn’t the collective value of teams drop by much less than that due to losing fans from the layoff (people will lose interest, move on, etc.). How long after the ’94 strike before MLB’s popularity recovered?

3:16
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think that is probably the case, which is why owners are on the aggressive rather than waiting for players to come for them

3:16
Ben Clemens: come to th em*

3:16
Ben Clemens: But look I actually don’t have any idea, that’s just my speculation

3:16
Ben Clemens: I think the TV deals matter a lot too

3:16
Ben Clemens: They’re also proactively trying to move some of the blame towards players which implies that they’re aware it’s not great for them

3:16
Ben Clemens: In my opinion, at least

3:17
Billy’s mom: Will Spencer Howard be a starter for the Phillies this year?  And if so will he be elite…..very good….pretty good….or worse.

3:17
Ben Clemens: I think that the shortened season makes it a little less likely

3:17
Ben Clemens: Maybe a lot less likely

3:17
Ben Clemens: I’ll go with pretty good, though

3:17
Ben Clemens: That sounds about right

3:17
The Stranger: Odds that the MLB protocol is scrupulously followed for like a week and then players gradually revert to their unconscious rituals of spitting, finger-licking, and crotch-adjusting?

3:17
Ben Clemens: Yeah like, 60%? 80%?

3:18
Ben Clemens: I don’t think the crotch-adjusting will stop at any point lo

3:18
Ben Clemens: lol

3:18
the Electrician: What do you think of the idea of making certain PEDs part of the game, where drugs that could improve the human condition as a whole are tested on (willing) athletes openly as a study? I remember reading an old SI article about PEDs where there was an opinion that every human could benefit from HGH.. don’t quote me on veracity, but THE SPIRIT of the idea: Could sports have a higher purpose for the betterment of mankind?

3:19
Ben Clemens: Boy, I certainly don’t like the idea of any semi-voluntary use of drugs so that we can *study* people.

3:19
Ben Clemens: But then, I find the uproar over PED’s to be really a whole lot of eyewash too

3:19
Ben Clemens: I guess I need more time to think about my stance on this.

3:19
Ben Clemens: If you make HGH voluntary, it’s not really voluntary for players from poor families

3:19
Ben Clemens: b/c baseball is their out

3:20
Ben Clemens: So that feels kind of gross!

3:20
Ben Clemens: But the false moralizing about how players are these awful, immoral goons b/c they try to get better at their craft

3:20
Ben Clemens: Also very frustrating!

3:21
Ben Clemens: I guess generally I’m in favor of it. But I’d want a lot more actual clinical trials as well, rather than just all of us agreeing we’re doing an experiment on baseball players.

3:21
Ben Clemens: Or heck, if they can get paid for it, that’s probably okay as well?

3:21
Ben Clemens: I dunno I’m having trouble staking out a consistent position here. That’s the mark of an excellent question

3:22
Marshall: I really liked Craig’s pieces a few weeks back on best decades. I was actually a bit surprised Kershaw doesn’t stack up better historically, and it seems like a lot of that is due to the changing pitcher workloads across MLB. Any thoughts on how to adjust pitcher WAR to make it more comparable across eras? For example, maybe adjusting it based on IP/start?

3:22
Ben Clemens: The best decade stuff is fun

3:23
Ben Clemens: It’s an interesting question. You could do some kind of adjustment to peers, like to the average war per starter, or something

3:23
Ben Clemens: IP/start isn’t really right b/c it matters how durable you are relative to other pitchers of your era

3:24
Ben Clemens: But also, it’s entirely possible to say something like “Kershaw was more dominant per inning pitched than everyone from the 1920’s, but starters just earned more WAR then”

3:25
Marshall: Sorry, I meant league-wide IP/start (or maybe average IP for top 30 starters, or something). Related to that, how would you rank Kershaw in an all-time context? He’s still the career leader in ERA+ by a decent margin.

3:25
Ben Clemens: Yeah, this is the question

3:25
Ben Clemens: Is a pitcher with a 120 ERA+ who throws 8 innings a game (when every starter does) more valuable than a 140 ERA+ going 6?

3:25
Ben Clemens: when everyone goes 6?

3:26
Ben Clemens: I think that’s one of the great things about baseball. There’s not an easy comparison there even though the game is the same

3:26
Ben Clemens: I guess it’s similar to trying to come up with football comps across eras

3:26
Ben Clemens: With the game changing so much

3:26
Ben Clemens: Would Steph Curry be able to score 15 points a game in the 80s nba?

3:26
Ben Clemens: I assume so

3:27
Ben Clemens: Whoops that should say 90s

3:27
Ben Clemens: But that’s just part of the charm of sports.

3:27
See! You! Later!: How can the owners claim that the amount of money they won’t be able to make now is higher than what they claim they make normally?

3:27
Ben Clemens: Haha I don’t know, man. Because people are willing to print it, I guess?

3:28
Mike: Realistically, how long do the players/owners have to get something agreed and still provide enough spring training to kick off the season in early July?

3:28
Ben Clemens: Three weeks or so?

3:28
Ben Clemens: But they could, in theory, start spring training without the final details nailed down

3:28
Ben Clemens: Just, an agreement in principle with wiggle room on both sides

3:29
Ben Clemens: It doesn’t seem phenomenally likely, I know, but I’d say both sides are pretty motivated for there to be baseball

3:29
Burns’ Suit… Brighter: You seem to be missing golden opportunities for peak Simpsons references on future Corbin Burnes updates. Boo-urns!

3:29
Ben Clemens: I don’t know how I could have gone pun-heavier on today’s headline

3:29
Ben Clemens: But yeah, I’m sad he’s gone for the year in OOTP

3:30
Ben Clemens: I also just really like referencing corbin burnes

3:30
Ben Clemens: He’s a pitcher I was notably wrong about last year:

3:30
Ben Clemens: And learning about why I was wrong taught me some things about baseball I didn’t know before.

3:31
Ben Clemens: Namely, the cutter/fastball spin efficiency axis that can jam people up

3:31
Ben Clemens: And how wildly Burnes’ spin numbers varied from game to game

3:31
Ben Clemens: Or rather, his effective spin numbers

3:32
Jeff: In these totallydefinitely uncertain times for them will the owners allow something cool to happen, specifically the Tigers having Torkelson jump straigt to the majors? I imagine the time is ripe, would look great for both them and their fellow lizards who run the NCAA

3:32
Ben Clemens: That would be pretty awesome, but I don’t see it happening

3:32
Ben Clemens: As I understand the service time rules, your time this year gets pro-rated

3:33
Ben Clemens: So getting a few games in a busted year and paying a year of time for it just doesn’ feel like somethin a team would be willing to do

3:33
Mike: I guess as long as the players arrive with more advanced conditioning than they would in February, then 3 weeks makes sense.  But pitchers normally get, what, 6 weeks or so from start of spring training to the start of games?

3:33
Ben Clemens: Yeah, but as Greinke noted, pitchers don’t actually need all that time, at least not all of them

3:33
Ben Clemens: And they’ll also be in advanced conditioning

3:34
Ben Clemens: It wouldn’t shock me if guys are throwing shorter stints to start out but I think three weeks is workable. Having a 30 man roster helps out as well of course.

3:35
Hummingbird nipples: Speaking of Corbins…Does Corbin Martin ever become an effective starter?  And if so when?

3:35
Ben Clemens: The odds are probably against him, just b/c he’s already blown out his arm.

3:35
Ben Clemens: But if so, when? Next year

3:36
Ben Clemens: Alright, on that note, I am going to call it a chat. Thanks for hanging out todya, and for putting up with my diatribes against the owners.

3:36
Ben Clemens: It’s been a blast for me, and hopefully for you guys as well.

3:36
Ben Clemens: Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next week.

We hoped you liked reading Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 5/18/20 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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rwoody5
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rwoody5

I recently moved to Chattanooga. The local AA ball club, the Lookouts, are on the chopping block if MLB follows through with their plan to ax 25% of minor-league ball clubs. I’m interested as a Cardinals fan to watch some of the Reds up-and-coming talent in person. Is there any chance the list of teams disappearing will decrease after 2020?