Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 11/21/2019

Craig Edwards: Let’s get things rolling.

Craig Edwards: Have a lot of Astros questions in the queue that I will get to, but will first mention my piece on the subject.

Thanks: …for your Astros piece yesterday. I was worried FG was going to take a very dry “only what can be measured  and quantified matters” approach. Now, what do you think WILL happen to the Astros (and who/when)?

Sam: If the Astros are found to have cheated in the 2017 WS, what is the proper punishment?

Craig Edwards: I think the effect is interesting and worth exploring. It’s also very difficult to do given how little information we have. Ultimately, it’s not important because the cheating is the thing that’s important. Not, how much it helped them. As for a punishment, I think seven-figure fine, multiple high draft picks and suspensions for members of the F.O. and coaching staff. Not sure there will be a banning, but it will be really interesting to see how far Manfred goes in forcing the Astros to clean house.

Craig Edwards: As for the 2017 World Series, I don’t think there’s anything extra you can really do. Not having a 2017 WS champion would be really bizarre and giving it to the Dodgers would be really weird. Are they going to have a ring ceremony in 2020 for the 2017 championship? Will the Kershaw narrative end? Will Dave Roberts be deemed a better postseason manager. MLB needs to look mostly forward and not back.

Seamus Catuli: Is there some reason the Cubs can’t get a decent FA 2b? I mean didn’t Moustakas grade out as average as 2b defensively? I don’t hear about the Cubs going after anyone

Craig Edwards: Moustakas is 31 years old and only have 300 -some innings at second base. He was probably really helped by the Brewers aggressive shifting. I don’t think he’s a second baseman. And if Moustakas isn’t a second baseman, there’s not a lot out there.

Craig Edwards: Also, didn’t you hear? The Cubs are broke. Even if the Cubs were to spend, I think it would be better used on a starting pitcher and just see of Hoerner can stick in the majors.

Colin: Ground ball rate has fluctuated a bit over the past ten years, but has mostly remained about the same.  Is this odd in light of the new emphasis on launch angle?  What might be an explanation?

Craig Edwards: Even when players try to hit the ball in the air, they still hit a lot of grounders. That’s why the shift works. They roll over on tough pitches they are trying to hit in the air and end up as grounders.

Price: Who plays first base for the Nats next year?

Craig Edwards: Good question. Depends on how they fill out the rest of the roster. Wouldn’t be a big surprise to see a cheaper platoon out there with Smoak and Thames available from the left side. Guessing it is lower on their list of priorities at the moment.

The Cape Cod Kid: Talk to me about Grandal and the offensive and defensive impact he’ll have on the White Sox next year.

Craig Edwards: His defense is all about stealing strikes. I think that will be helpful to a younger rotation. Offensively, he’s been one of the better hitting catchers in the game the last few years. Getting that production from the catcher spot can really lengthen a lineup.

Craig Edwards: That said, the White Sox can’t stop there. They still need at least one starting pitcher and one good outfielder. McCann as DH isn’t what you want, either. Grandal is a really solid first step, or second, if you consider Abreu. They just have a few more to go.

Powell: With Grandal off the market, Didi Gregorious seems to be the remaining prime target for the Reds.  But if Cincy fails to land Didi, where should they look to upgrade?

Craig Edwards: Gregorious does seem like a really good fit for Cincinnati right now. Not sure what the market for him will be, but I don’t think it should get out of control enough that the Reds couldn’t have the highest offer. If they don’t get him, there really aren’t a ton of great fits out there in free agency. A Lindor trade would be wild and unlikely, but if they like their young outfielders, there’s not a lot of other areas to upgrade.

Hot Take: Joey Gallo seemed to make real strides in his plate discipline last season before his injury.  Do you think he keeps those?  O/U his Steamer projection of .362 wOBA?

Craig Edwards: He’s still striking out a ton, but obviously offset some by the big increase in walks. I’d be pretty confident in the over on the projection.

Jason: What value does Profar have on the trade market? Seems like the A’s would like to move in a different direction, even taking into account positive BABIP regression, given his unreliable defense.

Craig Edwards: Not much, probably. He’s coming off a below-average season and even his 2018 season wasn’t great or anything. If they want him gone, I’m sure they can make that happen, but he’s not going to bring much back.

Powell: With Grandal in the fold, the White Sox project as the ninth best team in the AL, per Fangraphs’ depth charts.  What more do they need to do to have a legitimate playoff shot?

Craig Edwards: If they add six more wins, three in the rotation, three in the outfield, they probably project to 85 wins and that’s enough to think you have a legitimate shot at contention.

Hot Take: Willie Calhoun had a 37-HR pace over 600 PA last year.  Plate discipline and Hard% trends look good.  Think his 110 wRC+ of 2019 is about his true talent right now?  Also, think they’ll give him every-day ABs all season?

Craig Edwards: They probably need to think he’s better than that to give him everyday ABs because Choo is at DH so he needs to be a good hitter to make up for his defense.

ebo: is the cleveland outfield as faulty as it looks, or will the bauers and franmil additions help cement a better outlook?

Craig Edwards: It’s as faulty as it looks and even Mercado isn’t a sure thing. Reyes is probably the DH. They need to get better in the outfield to avoid falling behind like they did last season where a strong finish couldn’t save them.

Dick Williams : What am I getting with De Leon?

Craig Edwards: Who knows? He’s obviously still missing bats, but he can’t walk as many players as he has to think he can compete for a rotation slot. Could be a really good reliever, though.

Guest: White Sox desperately need another OF, any FA targets you like for them?

Craig Edwards: I think Ozuna would be a really good fit, though Castellanos and Puig would be fine if Ozuna goes elsewhere.

Ted: Grandal, Smith, Martin – Are they overpays?  Or are we going to see much bigger contracts on average than expected by conventional wisdom?

Craig Edwards: Relievers are fairly scarce and almost always seem like overpays anyway. Grandal was the only good catcher out there with no real comparable trade target to wait on. After last winter, Grandal might have just forced teams to be aggressive and got a good offer. I don’t think that means much for the rest of the free agents, yet. Still too early to say.

Zack Collins: Do you think the White Sox trade a catcher or keep depth at this position now that Yasmani Grandal has joined the team?  Asking for a friend…

Craig Edwards: There are obviously differing opinions on the ability of Collins and McCann as catchers. McCann seems like a fine backup and not sure a team would trade for him as a starter. Collins is probably more of  DH anyway, assuming he can keep his strikeout rate below 30%. If not, he’s not really a guy who can help a team trying to contend.

Jason: Piscotty for JBJ straight up, who says no?

Craig Edwards: The A’s

Ben: What chances do you give the Red Sox pitching staff to be above average next year? The top four in their starting staff all have had above average to amazing performances in past seasons, and it seems like injuries were a big cause for their decline last year.

Craig Edwards: Above average? I’d say the chances are pretty good. There’s a pretty big dropoff after those top four, though so any injury would really hurt them if they don’t get some reinforcements.

Max: How do you see the Cardinals outfield playing out?  Bader, Dylan Carlson, Arozarena, O’Neill, Fowler?

Craig Edwards: Bader is the closest thing to average or better right now even with his bat, but Carlson can max out his potential if he sticks in center, so there’s some long-term friction there. Fowler probably plays a lot, and then O’Neill will probably get a shot for the first six weeks or so and if it isn’t working, Carlson takes his spot. We’ll see if all of them get to spring still with the Cardinals. They really just have a whole bunch of players who are fourth outfielders. Need to get a couple to step forward next season.

🙂: Is Trevor Story more of an extension or trade candidate?

Craig Edwards: I’m not sure he’s an extension candidate in the Blackmon/Arenado range. If the Rockies are trying to win, then just keeping him the next two years makes the most sense and then they can evaluate where they are.

Chris: What do the white Sox do next? Sign ozuna or trade for someone like haniger?

Craig Edwards: I don’t know why the White Sox would make a trade when they need their young players to compete and they have a ton of payroll room. It’s such an easy fix, too.

Ghabe Adultman: Hello Craig,
I hope all is well. Which of the following three options do you see as most likely for the Cardinals this winter:

A. No major moves, rely on depth and internal improvement
B. Sign a mid-tier FA starting pitcher
C. A major trade (actual prospect or 3ish win players changing teams)

Thank you for your time.

Craig Edwards: A

Value: Are the Astros likelier to lose several draft picks next year or one a year for a few years? And which would hurt more? (Probably the latter) Would that measurably make their farm ranking worse in 2022 and hamper their team’s success (until they find a new trashcan)?

Craig Edwards: I think over multiple years would be more likely.

michael rizzo: hi, if I want to set up the nats for the next ten years, and assuming the lerners dont want to spend more than $200MM/year or so, what should  i do: (a) sign strasburg, (b) sign someone like bumgarner or keuchel, (c) hope voth/ross can hold down the #4-5 spots in the rotation

Craig Edwards: just sign strasburg.

Fellr: The Diamondbacks have numerous rotation options, many of whom have significant upside because they’re highly regarded prospects or previously had success, and many of whom have serious downside because of past struggles or recent injuries.  Where do you think Arizona’s pitching ends up ranking among MLB teams, and whose performance might surprise us?

Craig Edwards: I know he’s barely pitched, but I’d love to see Taijuan Walker do something next year. Right now, I’d put the Diamondbacks around the middle of the pack. They have depth, but they don’t have anybody who is really better than a number three-type starter, which limits the upside.

Nolan: Re: the Reds: As you mention, there aren’t a lot of great IF options, so how about an OF upgrade instead.  Any chance they could trade for Betts and move Senzel back to the infield?

Craig Edwards: I could see them moving Senzel back to the infield. I doubt Betts makes sense, though. I’m not sure they would give up that much for just one year of Betts. I know they want to win, but they probably aren’t going to blow things up that much.

Nolan: The Indians, Reds, and Mets all have four very strong rotation candidates; which team has the best options for filling out the fifth spot?

Craig Edwards: Of any single candidate, Civale with Cleveland provides the safest bet.

Guest: Do you think CWS could sign Gardner by offering him an extra year?

Craig Edwards: They could. Gardner seems like a one-year deal type-player at his age, but going two I would imagine would get him there.

Chris: Where does Milwaukee and Cincinnati go now that grandal signed? Trade?

Craig Edwards: I think Cinci probably does nothing and waits for Stephenson. Milwaukee could go with Pina and just add Travis d’Arnaud or something like that.

Steve In Chicago: Contreras and what for Betts?

Craig Edwards: Rizzo.

Craig Edwards: I just don’t see a match between the two teams.

Bob Saget: It’s March 1st, what moves did the Yankees make in the offseason?

Craig Edwards: Cole or Strasburg, I think. Maybe bring back Gardner. They’ve got a pretty Full House on the infield right now so they could make a trade or just work with the depth they’ve got.

Dom Duttle: Mets media and fans are bashing them because the Braves have already signed 3 relievers (2 of them re-signs). Given how much the Mets have invested recently in relievers with little positive return (Diaz, Familia, Swarzak), how risky relievers are generally, and how early in the season it is, am I reasonable to suggest that they are being unreasonable?

Craig Edwards: Relievers are risky investments due to throwing so hard and not many innings. I don’t have a great read on the Mets’ possibilities at this point. They need to figure out something with Dom Smith.

Stephanie Tanner: If the Yanks were to trade Andujar, who could you see as suitors and what range of player would be a reasonable return? Saw an article that laughably listed Jo Adell as a potential return.

Craig Edwards: Have Mercy! His value is obviously not as high as it was a year ago. I don’t know the team has a need that screams for Andujar to be traded when he still has a ton of potential as a hitter. The Yankees might be better off just seeing what they have with him.

Craig Edwards: Okay. That’s going to do it for me today. Thanks for all the questions.  No chat next week as it is Thanksgiving.

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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