Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 6/27/22

2:00
Ben Clemens: Hey everybody, welcome to the chat. Today I’m going to try to keep this to a tight one hour, but I’ll strive to keep it fast-paced as a result. Let’s get right into it.

2:00
Alex: What would a Cardinals trade package for Frankie Montas look like?

2:02
Ben Clemens: The A’s like volume in their returns, so the Cardinals actually feel like a good fit to me. Maybe something like Thompson, Burleson, and someone lower down but interesting, maybe Angel Rondon who seems to have major league capability

2:02
Ben Clemens: Probably add another name to that, but I think they’ll be looking for volume, and the Cardinals can absolutely provide volume

2:03
Ben Clemens: Or swap Rondon up for someone a bit more projectable, that kinda thing

2:03
Chase: Does it seem to you that trading Ohtani might be the best move for the angels considering their lack luster farm system and current onfield results?

2:03
Ben Clemens: No

2:03
Ben Clemens: What are they gonna get back for him? An excellent DH and a top 30 major league starting pitcher?

2:03
Ben Clemens: That’s literally what Ohtani already is

2:03
Ben Clemens: the whole ‘my team isn’t good so they should trade their best players’ thing is, uh, not particularly appealing to me

2:04
Bob: NL Central, how many teams make the playoffs?

2:04
Ben Clemens: Two, I’d say

2:04
Ben Clemens: It’s gonna be close

2:04
Inaccessible Rail: Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson quitting MLB mid-season for a college job seems like an incredibly rare thing to happen. Has anything like this ever happened before?

2:04
Ben Clemens: I definitely can’t point to anything

2:05
Ben Clemens: It’s wild to me that high-major pitching coaches make more than major league pitching coaches, but that’s apparently just true

2:05
Derek: Can we graduate the Orioles from the disaster-tier of MLB teams (Rockies, Reds, Pirates, etc.)? They have a respectable record in a hellish division and actually appear to have a solid foundation on which to build – and they’re pretty fun to watch to boot! Though the whole ownership family in-fighting thing happening right now probably doesn’t bode well…

2:05
Ben Clemens: For now! Let’s check in again at the end of the season

2:05
Cortez tha Killah: So is Alejandro Kirk the top fantasy catcher now?

2:06
Ben Clemens: If you offered me Realmuto or Smith for Kirk straight up….. mmmmm I think I’d probably deal Kirk for Smith but keep Realmuto?

2:06
Ben Clemens: Er sorry, keep him over Realmuto

2:06
Ben Clemens: I dunno, it’s close

2:06
Ben Clemens: He’s definitely top 2-3

2:07
Ben Clemens: Listen to last week’s sleeper and bust! I did a new segment we’re trying out, ‘Ben Clemens Investigates’, on Kirk

2:07
Ben Clemens: He’s great

2:07
NobleHelium: Instead of moving the mound back, what do you think of changing the rule such that pitchers have to have their entire foot on the rubber? It would effectively move the mound back without having to change thousands of mounds.

2:07
Ben Clemens: I don’t think that’s a good idea. Making pitchers re-learn how to throw on the fly just sounds like a recipe for disaster

2:08
The Real Ben Clemens: Do you think the team that eventually signs Judge would consider making him their starting CF if it was a better fit? He’s proven capable of handling it in a limited sample this year

2:08
Ben Clemens: I do. I don’t think it makes sense as a long-term solution, but he looks to me like at worst a fringe-acceptable CF so far this yera

2:09
Ben Clemens: And likely better than that

2:10
Ben Clemens: Limited sample is true, but he’s played 36 games in center this year. That’s quite a lot. It’s more innings of CF th an in his entire career before this year

2:10
9-4: Yankees went 9-4 in a really tough 13 game stretch. No-hitter was weird and obviously they know they have some holes, but that has to be considered encouraging.

2:10
Ben Clemens: ‘has to be considered encouraging’ they have a 53-20 record

2:10
Ben Clemens: uh, yes, the Yankees have had a good season so far

2:10
Nate: Is there any value to being more or less consistent if it “averages out”?  For example, would it be more valuable to have a pitcher who 1) gives up 2 runs in 6 IP every time or 2) gives up 0 runs twice (in 6 IP) and then gives up 6 runs (in 6 IP) the third time out?

2:11
Ben Clemens: This is a fun research topic that I’ve never really worked out the best way to tackle

2:11
Ben Clemens: My sense is that it’s useful at extremes, particularly in relievers, but that those extremes don’t really exist in real life

2:11
Angelus Novus: Might the O’s surprise some people in 2023?

2:11
Ben Clemens: I mean, they might. They might be the worst team in baseball again too

2:11
Vic: Are you impressed with the still 20 year old Gunnar Henderson with still more BBs than Ks on the season?

2:11
Teddy Conover: What’s the best-case scenario for the Orioles this year?

2:12
Ben Clemens: The best-case scenario is that Adley mashes, Henderson keeps improving (and he’s already looking excellent), Rodriguez recovers from injury with no further hiccups, and they get some interesting names back for their expiring contracts/relievers at the deadline

2:13
Ben Clemens: That would be really good. They have a wave of prospects theoretically coming, and Rutschman continuing his recent good form would make me more excited about next year

2:13
DEEG: Is Willson Contreras the best bat moved at the deadline?

2:13
Ben Clemens: Yes

2:13
Pat M: If the Phillies make the playoffs do they keep Rob Thomson?

2:13
Ben Clemens: I think they kind of have to

2:14
Bandon Brelt: What are your expectations for Vinnie P now that the Royals finally called him up? (breaking news!)

2:14
Wireless Joe Jackson: What do the Mariners want with Carlos Santana?

2:14
Ben Clemens: Let’s talk about this trade, which I find interesting

2:15
Ben Clemens: Ty France is hurt, which is a problem for the Mariners, because our depth chart had them playing literally Dylan Moore at first before this trade

2:15
Ben Clemens: They’re also DH’ing Justin Upton, which is uhhhh

2:15
Ben Clemens: Santana is not one of the best hitters in baseball, but he’s a competent lefty bat, and that’s something Seattle could use

2:16
Ben Clemens: stopgap starter at first and platoon DH seems like a perfectly fine role to me. I don’t have a strong view on Wyatt Mills either way, but I think the Mariners are right to be trying something

2:17
Ben Clemens: For the Royals, I love it; the team just couldn’t keep running Santana out there with Vinnie P and Nick Pratto both in the minors

2:17
Guest: Kirk is a great catcher for 2022, but in two years, he’s a Vogelbachian full-time DH.

2:18
Ben Clemens: That’s a strong claim without a ton of validity, in my opinion

2:18
Ben Clemens: That’s certainly a possible outcome, but Kirk is improving at catcher, not getting worse, at least by framing metrics

2:18
Ben Clemens: And that’s more of a catcher body type than a 1B body type anyway

2:18
Ben Clemens: I dunno if he’ll stick but it’s definitely an open question, not a foregone conclusion

2:18
Teddy Conover: Do you see a brighter future for the Pirates or Orioles?

2:18
Ben Clemens: The O’s

2:19
Ben Clemens: The Pirates are still in the ‘I don’t know what’s going on, let’s trade some guys’ phase and I don’t think their farm system is quite ready to start cranking out major leaguers yet

2:20
Ben Clemens: I do think that both are on the right path, though. I’m very displeased with the way the Pirates handled Oneil Cruz, and I’m sure Cruz himself has no love lost for the front office given that they’re basically taking money out of his pocket, but a single-minded obsession with never paying any money to anyone and getting multiple pieces in every trade is a great way to rebuild a farm system

2:20
Kip: Dodgers – Braves round 3 feels inevitable.  What roster additions do you see each team making between now and the trade deadline?

2:20
Ben Clemens: That’s a strong use of inevitable

2:21
Ben Clemens: I think that the Dodgers will be on the hunt for arms, any arms they can possibly find, be it relief or starting

2:21
Ben Clemens: I think they might be a surprise entrant in trade talks if any incredible bat other than Contreras (awkward fit with Smith in tow) is available

2:22
Ben Clemens: But mostly they should just look to add pitchers

2:22
Ben Clemens: The Braves are looking good with Michael Harris hitting, but same kinda deal,  they really need pitching

2:23
Ben Clemens: The bullpen is messy, I’m worried Morton is cooked, and at this poin I wouldn’t count on a ton from Soroka this year if I were them

2:23
Ben Clemens: I mean, I hope he’s great…. but I wouldn’t count on it

2:23
@RationalMLBfan: Ben, not really your department, but not sure who else to inform: the articles headers still refer to the 2020 offseason and Fangraphs’s goal to cover baseball in the 2021 season and beyond. I’m not trying to be pedantic; just want to be sure that new readers don’t ignore this, thinking it is an old message and that Fangraphs doesn’t need support.

2:24
Ben Clemens: That is definitely useful. I’ll run it up the flagpole, so to speak

2:25
Guest: I think Logan Gilbert may be a sell high.  What do you think and what sort of pitcher would be good return for him?

2:25
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure I get it

2:25
Ben Clemens: If you’re saying fantasy, yeah sure, but I would definitely not try to trade him if I were the M’s

2:27
Ben Clemens: In fantasy… I dunno, I like Gilbert. If people still think he has that shiny new car look and will overpay for him because he’s young, then I guess I’d look to trade him, but I think he’s a good ratio guy and at nearly six innings per start he can give you decent volume. I’m definitely not a fantasy expert, but I’d want to be overpaid to move him

2:27
x2R: Onei Cruz, how has been watching him?! Will he stick there?

2:28
Ben Clemens: It’s still far too early to say but I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen of Cruz’s defense

2:28
Ben Clemens: By the way, that whole ‘learn to play the outfield’ thing?

2:28
Ben Clemens: In a word, nope!

2:29
Ben Clemens: He played only 80 innings of LF in the minors this year, against 357 of short. The Pirates still believe that Cruz is a major league shortstop. They just also believe in service time manipulation. Don’t buy their story that he’s an outfielder

2:29
Run Flagstaff: is Cody Bellinger simply a good defensive outfielder with some occasional power at this point? Seems we have enough data suggesting he is about as likely to recapture his 2019 form as the dinosaurs are to walk the earth again

2:30
Ben Clemens: Yeah, that’s basically where I’m at with Bellinger. I do think he’ll cut down on strikeouts a bit from here, he’s shown that he has that in his toolkit, but I don’t think the prodigious power is going to return

2:31
Ben Clemens: I have him as a nice defensive outfielder, like you said. That’s a useful player, although not one who would get a contract like he currently has

2:31
DEEG: How can you not be pedantic about your favorite baseball website?

2:31
Ben Clemens: What a great EW segment, btw

2:31
Yordan Alvarez: Sure slashing .411/.494/.822 this month is fun, but the real question is this: am I a better left fielder than Juan Soto?

2:32
Ben Clemens: Nah, I think Soto is a better outfielder. I’m definitely enjoying seeing Yordan in the field and playable, though

2:32
Guest: Altuve having another sneaky good year. 159 wRC+. Is he solidifying a HoF case (assuming another ~5 “good” years, scandal notwithstanding)?

2:33
Ben Clemens: Yes. For me, Altuve is a Hall of Famer if he closes out his career with reasonable numbers

2:33
Ben Clemens: I don’t think this should actually be close. Give him a bit of a knock for the scandal if you’d like, but he’s got the peak, at only 32 he should comfortably clear the career contributions mark, and he’s also just an iconic player of the era

2:34
Ben Clemens: The Altuve/Judge MVP race was really fun, the 2015 Astros making the playoffs with a giant shortstop and tiny second baseman was a really cool ‘oh hey baseball takes all types’ moment, and I don’t see how you can tell the story of baseball since 2010 without Altuve

2:34
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Gut feeling: inconsistency, insofar as it compresses negative events, is valuable for players. The change in win probability from the first home run your reliever gives up is big. By the time they give up the fourth one, it’s not moving the needle. Similarly, you’d rather your hitters spread out their goodness instead of running up the score in a game they’ve already Scooter Gennett-ed.
WPA simulations for two artificial players who are high/no variance who reach the same WAR may or may not be practical, but you could look at historical data, bin people up by WAR, and then look at the relationship between consistency and WPA. That said, I don’t know how much it matters for most real people instead of the fake extreme ones we can make in the virtual baseball lab.

2:35
Ben Clemens: Yeah totally agreed. I just don’t think the real-life variation in inconsistency is big enough to matter

2:35
Matt: This is kinda of a crazy question…..but with him back in MVP form, is it possible Manny Machado opts out after 2023? He’ll still be in line for $190M

2:35
Ben Clemens: Oooooh!

2:36
Ben Clemens: So I think that if he is the MVP this year and has a 6-7 WAR season next year (this is a big if), my opt out model would say he should. But I think he’ll either not opt out or do the Kershaw thing where you negotiate an extra year in exchange for not using the opt out, because he seems to love playing on the Padres and especially love mentoring Tatis

2:36
A Jolly Good Oberkfellow: So what is your favorite farm fresh vegetable?

2:36
Ben Clemens: I went to an amazing farmstand yesterday in North Bay, and so this will be tough, but I think I’ll go with sweet corn

2:37
Ben Clemens: This place was incredible, though. We ran up a silly bill after initially planning on getting just some lettuce and brocolli (I’m making lettuce wraps later this week) because everything we ate was so dang good

2:38
Ben Clemens: Tomatoes are also a strong contender, though. I feel like a lot of people have only had store tomatoes, and fresh tomatoes taste quite a bit different

2:38
Adjustments: Given the steep learning curve for a lot of top prospects debuting the past couple of years, should noncontending teams try to promote guys in, say, August to let them work through hiccups this year? Thinking of Gunnar Henderson if he continues his AAA tear.

2:39
Ben Clemens: I think that would be a good decision if your goal was to maximize the chances of reaching the playoffs in the next 5 years

2:39
Ben Clemens: I think that ownership would look at you like you had 6 heads

2:39
Ben Clemens: Bring our prospects up when we definitely won’t be winning? And speed up their arbitration clocks? And pay them more money? And we aren’t winning? I imagine that’s something like what they would say

2:39
Ben Clemens: So I think it’s a good idea but the way the Orioles are run, I’m skeptical

2:40
Ben Clemens: They’re merciless about capturing financial edges. Why would they switch tracks right now?

2:40
Philadumpster Fire: If Harper is out for the better part of the year, that’s basically it for the Phils (already longshot) playoff odds right? No real prospect depth to deal from for replacements and nobody in the AAA/bench slots who look like they could actually contribute over any meaningful stretch.

2:40
Ben Clemens: It certainly doesn’t feel *good*, but I don’t think they’re done by any stretch of the imagination

2:41
Ben Clemens: If they go 5-0 in their next five games, that’s something like 2.5 extra wins (relative to their pace) right there

2:41
Ben Clemens: That’s not a ton less than you’d expect for Harper over the next two months

2:42
Ben Clemens: Stars matter in baseball, but with so many teams making the playoffs and with a half-ish season in the books, some random rookie catching fire could make up more of Harper’s contributions than you think. It still hurts their chances quite a bit… I’d estimate it makes them 3-4 wins worse the rest of the year in expectation — but I don’t think we’d be calling the Phillies out of it if we subtracted four wins and gave them Harper back, so we shouldn’ call them out of it now

2:42
DEEG: I’d stump for fresh zucchini

2:42
Ben Clemens: Another good one, and another one we bought yesterday!

2:43
Dan’l: Brendan Donovan or Edman?

2:43
Ben Clemens: Edman by a fair bit. I really like Donovan’s plate discipline, and think that he has a future as a utility guy, but I don’t think he’s a plus hitter long-term, he just doesn’t do enough damage on impact. And if he’s not, then give me the defender, which is Edman by a huge margin. Edman is an absolutely superlative defender and Donovan looks stretched to me. Edman’s bat might also just be better…

2:44
Potential ALCS: Did you have any takeaways from the weekend series between Yankees and Astros?

2:44
Ben Clemens: I have one major takeaway: boy is it fun to watch great teams play each other

2:44
Nicstone: Are teams figuring out Nestor Cortes Jr.’s cutter? He’s starting to give up Hr’s at an alarming pace.

2:45
Ben Clemens: If I were the Yankees, I’d be worried about that. I don’t think they expected him to pitch at a Cy Young clip all season, and I sitll think he’s going to give them valuable innings, but you have to be a little bit worried that the magical run is over and he’s back to just being an innings eater

2:45
planetdust: All the refrigeration really damages the flavor of store tomatoes

2:45
planetdust: If you are growing your own tomatoes, though, you can pick them when they have started to turn color and they will ripen just fine. This is worth doing IMO because it limits the stuff that can go wrong while they are out there growing on the fine (efffects of inconsistent water if it rains too much/too little, birds/squirrels eating them, etc)

2:46
Ben Clemens: See, this is the kind of breadth of expertise I love in FanGraphs readers. I don’t have space to grow my own tomatoes, but I have some friends who do, and they’re pretty good. If you live out in the burbs, though, watch out for deer. My mom had to give up growing tomatoes because deer kept eating them

2:46
Bat: What kind of contract do you see Nimmo getting in the offseason?  His agent is Boras.

2:48
Ben Clemens: Nimmo will be 30 next year. I think he’ll stay with the Mets for a nice but not unbelievable sum. Maybe something like the Chris Taylor deal, 4/60? I’m personally higher on Nimmo than that, but his skillset — fringey CF, gets a lot of his value from his eye, fringe power — doesn’t scream to me for a huge deal

2:48
Ben Clemens: I thikn he’s gonna keep getting on base a ton, but you have to at least be a little worried about the decline in walk rates this year. That said, maybe he’s a better defender than I give him credit for, and that’s definitely the place where I’m least sure of my evaluation

2:49
Joe: I had to build actual cages around my fruiting garden plants to keep them safe from raccoons and squirrels

2:49
M’s Fan: Thoughts on the “Brawl”?

2:49
Ben Clemens: I’d enjoy baseball more if there were fewer brawls, and also less time spent discussing them

2:49
Adam123566: Hey Ben! Berrios or Baz this week. Berrios has TB, Baz has MIL and TOR

2:49
Ben Clemens: Baz for me. Starting against hte Brewers is good for your ERA, and two starts is nice

2:50
chilly: 1-10 how worried should we be about giolito?   this recent stretch reminds me of his pre breakout days

2:52
Ben Clemens: I’m like a 5 out of 10 worried. The walk rate going up so much is scary, and both of his best secondaries have just been off this year. They’re mis-sequenced at times, the slider seems to have less bite (he’s made it sweepier but lost some velo, which seems like a bad trade to me), and anecdotally it feels like he’s hanging the changeup too much

2:53
Ben Clemens: On the other hand, he has a .360 BABIP, so clearly there’s some bad luck involved

2:54
Ben Clemens: He’s also giving up 20% HR/FB

2:54
Ben Clemens: Some of that is hanging those changeups and will be fixed but, yeah, get worried

2:54
Keeper: In a Keeper league, would you rather have a $14 Bichette or a $5 Witt? I’m going for it but also want to be mindful of future value as well

2:54
Ben Clemens: Witt for me

2:54
Remax: Where should Benintendi start apartment shopping?

2:54
Ben Clemens: Philly

2:55
chilly: re: giolito, i just took a look at his splits.  rh slugging 700 off him w a 465woba.  thats insane babip notwithstanding

2:55
Ben Clemens: He has at times been too in love with the right/right changeup

2:55
Game calling: Do you have a method of evaluating it?

2:55
Ben Clemens: Absolutely not. I wish I did, but it’s just not a puzzle I’ve gotten close to cracking

2:55
Sonny: How much does winning a world series after a brutal rebuild benefit a franchise owner? The Cubs winning in 2016 might have fundamentally altered the equation but for a team like Pittsburgh or Baltimore is there a significant enough long-term benefit to ‘maximizing our window?’ How much more money does Bob Nutting have if the Pirates win the 2026 WS?

2:55
Ben Clemens: It has way more to do with making money every year

2:56
Ben Clemens: The Pirates are raking it in. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did an excellent study of this that I’m going to link

2:56
Ben Clemens: Paywalled, I paid the 99c for it because it was so dang good

2:56
Ben Clemens: Basically, Pirates payroll mostly matches the money they make in attendance plus concessions

2:56
Ben Clemens: Turns out you get TV money and revenue sharing in baseball, too

2:56
Ben Clemens: So by keeping the payroll so low, what the hell does Nutting care if they win a World Series?

2:57
Judge: How many home runs do I end up with?

2:57
Ben Clemens: 54

2:57
Ben Clemens: (I dunno, not really my bag to predict stuff like this, but that’s a fun random number)

2:58
Bat: Mad Max will have another rehab start on Tues in Binghamton and Alvarez will presumably catch him – do the Mets ask Scherzer for his thoughts on a direct promotion from Bing to NYC for Alvarez and heed his advice if he provides an endorsement?

2:58
Ben Clemens: I’m sure he’ll offer it regardless, but I’m sure they’ll ask him

2:58
Ben Clemens: I don’t think that they should take Scherzer’s word as the final say one way or the other, but it’s definitely a valuable data point

2:58
DEEG: Rafael Ortega to Philly seems like a no brainer, right?

2:58
Ben Clemens: See, ‘outfielder of choice to Philly’ makes a ton of sense, but which outfielder is really up for debate. Benintendi, Ortega, Happ, Pham… the list goes on

2:59
Guest: Best shortstop currently excluding an injured Tatis?

2:59
Ben Clemens: Lindor!

2:59
Ben Clemens: Eh, that’s probalby not right, he’s my favorite to watch though

3:00
Ben Clemens: I think I’ll take Bogaerts, Turner, Lindor in that order. No disrespect to Dansby Swanson or Tommy Edman, just, I value track record

3:00
James: So Cristian Javier just had one of the best outings of the year against the best team in the league, but is he even in the Astros’ rotation when everyone is healthy?

3:01
Ben Clemens: I think he’s probably not. It’s really close. They have the luxury of using the rest of the year to figure out, but I really like Javier in a swing role

3:01
Some Guy: Apparently the answer of “which outfielder to Philly” is Oscar Mercado which… even as a depth option I wouldn’t like. He’s at least a good defender, I guess.

3:01
Ben Clemens: Yeah…. not into it

3:01
I like ike: What about Isaac paredes going forward. Definite pull power. Is there anything more besides that?

3:02
Ben Clemens: There’s good bat control and plate discipline, too. His minor league walk and strikeout numbers are excellent

3:02
Ben Clemens: and he can fake defense at a few positoin

3:02
Ben Clemens: positions, yikes

3:03
Ben Clemens: Overall I think utility guy with pop and a decent OBP thanks to walks is a really valuable player, even if he’s not going to show this much slug going forward

3:03
Ben Clemens: Alright, thanks everyone for your questions today, and sorry if I didn’t get to yours; there were a ton today and I was trying to go as fast as I could but I didn’t get to many

3:04
Ben Clemens: Let’s do this again next Tuesday, July 5

3:04
Ben Clemens: Have a great week.





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

8 Comments
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WARonEverything
1 month ago

Giolito, his velocity was down quite a bit last time out. Seems like something to watch.

MRDXolmember
1 month ago

He said in a recent interview w the Athletic that he’s working through some mechanical problems, and his bout with covid set him back noticeably in that regard. There’s more details in there but he’s not hurt, the current mechanical problems are compromising both the stuff’s quality and command of it at the moment.

Scotty Gmember
1 month ago
Reply to  MRDXol

It’s also worth noting that in his last six starts heading into Monday’s start in Anaheim, he had faced Boston, Toronto twice, and Houston. That certainly didn’t help matters.