Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 5/21/2020


Craig Edwards: Let’s get things rolling.


Craig Edwards: First, we are now in round 5 of crowdsourcing this season and I could use some more responses.…


Craig Edwards: Second, Joey Votto is really good and Albert Pujols is incredibly great.…


Craig Edwards: And earlier this week, I examined the owners’ claims of massive losses.


Dirty Capitalist: Message to all fangraphs writers: can we stop using the word ‘profit’ as if it’s a bad thing?


Craig Edwards: I don’t think profit is necessarily a bad thing, but I think discussing the topic is fair game. In general, people like discussing good things as though they are worthy of praise, but we never heard a lot from owners about their profits over the last decade. Owners do everything they can to hide their profit from the public. When the owners want to talk about losses, it seems like a discussion about profit is necessary as well.


Jonathan: Alternative title to your article: After years of profit, players ask owners to subsidise losses.


Jonathan: I didn’t even dislike the article, but that headline immediately made me tentative


Craig Edwards: That’s in response to this piece:…


Craig Edwards: I just don’t understand that line of thinking, though. When we talk about profits and losses, generally with owners, we are generally talking about their ability to make or lose money based on mostly passive work. There are certainly decisions to be made that can create profits or losses. Both the owners and the players want to be paid for the player’s work. The players aren’t profiting so much as being the product and getting paid for that work. The owners are supposedly taking a risk of loss. They are trying to push that loss onto the players.


BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: I’ve really appreciated you sh*tting on the owners.  Never stop.


Craig Edwards: I would much rather be talking about what the players are doing on the field than discussing labor issues, but right now, those issues are important. We spend a lot of time on this site explaining what makes players good or bad, how they’ve improved or what they’ve done to get worse. We can’t have those discussions right now and a lot of people are looking for someone to blame that things are not going well between the players and the owners. It isn’t enough to say that a public fight is bad. It’s important to talk about what that fight is about, who is waging it and why.


Nike Mikey: Are we going to see uniforms covered in corporate logos like Nascar?


Craig Edwards: It’s possible. I’m not sure NASCAR is the relevant example,  but we are going to see a swoosh on jerseys this year. It’s hard to imagine a premier league type jersey with one big logo on the front, but that’s also something that could happen in the next couple decades.


Jeff jerez: Do you think the proposed measures put in place to prevent players/coaches/umpires from contact will call for umpires who lean in close to call pitches to stop, which will in turn result in worse calls, which will inevitably lead to ROBOT UMPIRES?


Craig Edwards: that certainly seems like a reasonable possibility.


Chris: Will Garrett Richards ever be healthy enough to be good?


Craig Edwards: 2014 and 2015 when he was good feel like such a long time ago. Four seasons later, he’s pitched a total under 150 innings. He’ll be 32 next week, but he was okay in 2018 in limited time, so it’s possible, a decent performance is still there. Just not something you would reasonably expect.


Dave: I keep seeing various takes that “the sport might never recover” if the season is canceled over money squabbles. But would it really? Lots of fans would be disappointed. Some would be furious at the players. But I imagine far, far more would simply shrug and go on trying to just get through this ordeal, and whenever Opening Day finally happens, everything would be fine. Agree or disagree?


Craig Edwards: The sport recovered from a strike shortened season in 1981 and no World Series in 1994 and a lockout in 1995. I don’t see any reason to think that the sport won’t recover from this even if they don’t play this year. When we are in this ugly battle, it’s hard to remember that a lot of people aren’t even paying attention to it and most will have forgotten it by the time they start playing again. The league certainly has some long-term issues to iron out regarding reaching new fans, but the sport can certainly handle a missed season in the middle of a pandemic when so many other things have postponed and cancelled and more than a hundred thousand people have died.


viceroy: Have the players and league reached an agreement on testing? I thought I saw something but wasn’t sure if that means the only hold up now is compensation and salary


Craig Edwards: I’m not sure. I know the league has proposed a pretty bi safety protocol, but haven’t seen whether everyone is ready to move to the financial part. That the league owners apparently approved a 50/50 proposal like 10 days ago and it hasn’t even been presented to the players makes me think the owners don’t really believe in it.


Chris Flexen: Chris Flexen’s KBO stats weren’t on his fangraphs page when I checked this morning.


Craig Edwards: I’ll pass that along.


Sonny: Was there no way for Nike to place the swoosh on the Yankee jersey a little more artfully? It looks terrible and seems like with their design dept they could have done better.


Craig Edwards: I’m sure there was, but there’s only so many ways you can just plant a logo on there. It was going to look awkward no matter what, particularly with the NY on the left breast and nothing on the right, previously.


Dave: I have not heard whether any problems are anticipated in getting players now in their home countries (e.g., Dominican Republic, Venezuela, etc.) back into the US in time for a startup in early July…..much less any “spring” training.  With border with Canada closed well into June, one has to wonder about trying to get into the country from some of the Latin countries who are only now experiencing surges in Covid-19 cases.  Will exceptions be made for MLB players?  Will they have to quarantine for 2 weeks?


Craig Edwards: I’m guessing exceptions will be made and they will figure everything out. Since spring training started way back in February, the documentation part of working, etc. should already be figured out. With potentially three weeks of spring training, that should provide some leeway as well.


Josiah D: We’ve talked plenty about a strange and unique season giving new teams a chance to make the playoffs. How about the flip side of that: which 2019 playoff team has the greatest chance of missing the playoffs this season?


Craig Edwards: One interesting one would be the defending champion nationals. They are still a top-heavy team lacking in depth and while that could play to their advantage in a shortened season, needing extra pitchers plus a key injury not to mention a difficult interleague schedule could make them vulnerable. There’s a lot more variability for everyone, though if you are playing just half a season. I think the Dodgers might be the only big surprise if they were to miss the playoffs. Everybody else, you could see something happening.


Laura: How likey do you think we’ll even have a season? Feeling pessimistic about that right now.


Craig Edwards: I’m still optimistic. There’s still time to hammer out a deal and the bottom line for owners is that they make more money playing games than they do missing an entire season. If all the health issues can be worked out, I think they’ll end up playing.


Sir Nerdlington: More divisive topic: universal DH, players v owner rights, bonds into HOF?


Craig Edwards: in terms of which side is least likely to move to the other side of the argument, I think it is the universal DH. It’s been around for nearly 50 years and many act like it is an affront to the sport to exist. The other issues are new enough that I could see movement from one side to the other depending on the circumstances. The universal DH, if it happens, is just something people will end up having to accept over time.


Sir Nerdlington: Players give owners what they want for this year and next but it’s on the back of a new ten year cba where the final 8 years address service time, minimum salary, revenue definition and grant a 60% rev guarantee with floors. Who refuses?


Craig Edwards: That sounds nice, but that’s honestly impossible to do in like two weeks. Addressing those issues would take months of understanding all the issues and potential ramifications and poring over revenues to get to those types of definitions. Plus, way too much can change in 10 years that both sides might need an opt out to reassess.


viceroy: also why does the MLBPA care so little about MILBPA? Is it that the majority of players in the MLB were highly paid prospects who had large enough signing bonuses to not have to worry about making ends meet on $100/week?


Craig Edwards: I’m not sure they don’t care so much as the logistics are incredibly difficult. There are way more minor leaguers than major leaguers and major leaguers produce way more revenue. Could they do more? Yes, but that would also involve a large group of current major leaguers making sacrifices of their own and it isn’t completely reasonable to expect them to do so, particularly when they already moved past the difficulties of the system in order to get the rewards in front of them. Imagine being a professional baseball player for 10 seasons to finally get a million dollar salary for the first time. Taking that away is a difficult ask, though reforming the MLB pay structure would be a good way to ease that difficult request.


Ryan: Judging by the comments on articles and tweets, it seems that the general public is mostly against the players and has deemed them greedy. Everyone seems too frustrated by the lack of baseball (and sports in general) to really think through the complexities. Is this reaction similar to what occured during the ’94 strike? Is there anyway for the players to change the narrative, especially before the looming CBA fight next year?


Craig Edwards: No. there’s not, and they arguably shouldn’t even try. The players are never going to win a PR battle. They should focus on solidarity with the same message in order to get the best deal possible and let the owners wage their PR battles in the press.


Maladjusted Loser Freak: Besides that the owners planted it in the media, why do people fault the MLBPA so much for amateurs and minor leaguers? It makes no sense AND would have turned out to be a trap since the owners just handed the NCAA the reins…G’dammit man


Craig Edwards: It’s one of those things where the MLBPA does negotiate the draft and international signings and they have given away some power for amateurs in exchange for a better deal for players in the majors. That’s actually happened. Perhaps what’s lost in that, and what you are getting at, is that owners have and will continue to do whatever they possibly can to save money, including asking for significant government intervention. Nobody faults them for that because they are a business, even when it means paying minor leaguers less than minimum wage. It’s an unfair standard, but that’s the way things are viewed.


BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Your first baseman article made me think that Jimmie Foxx is really underrated.  Nobody ever mentions that guy.


Craig Edwards: He’s very underrated in part because it is a really long time ago and he didn’t play for the Yankees, but also because his career flamed out so quickly. He was 32 years old when he hit his 500th homer. He only hit 34 more. If he had gotten to 600, he’d probably be viewed differently.


The original Mookie: Regarding the Mets DH, wouldn’t they be wise utilizing Marisnick’s defense in CF a lot considering their less than stellar defense up the middle?  They have enough offense elsewhere, no?


Craig Edwards: The problem is that he shouldn’t ever start against righties so he’s automatically limited to like a quarter to a third of games and you can’t play him any more than that because he doesn’t make up for his bat with his glove in that scenario.


LK: Would more nationally televised games increase team revenues dramatically or would it not have much of an impact?


Craig Edwards: National regular season games bring in about $1.1 billion in a full season. In a half season situation, providing 50% more games than normal could produce $275 million, or $9 M-$10 M per team. One figure I’ve seen for an extra round of playoffs is $250 million, another $8 M to $9 M per team.


Craig Edwards: That’s for this season. I’m not sure in future years adding more national games does much as the regular season is pretty well already covered by the current deals.


Sonny: Great article on 1B WAR. Truly astonishing to see multiple guys avg 7+ WAR over a decade at that position. Peak Pujols was special.


Craig Edwards: Thanks. Pujols was amazing. It’s hard to remember that his dropoff since isn’t some normal occurrence. His injuries really hurt his ability to play. With normal aging, he might still be a productive player.


Pat: Any thoughts on Brent Honeywell?


Craig Edwards: I hope he can get healthy at some point. Injuries and surgeries are really unfortunate, particularly for players who haven’t even gotten a real chance to prove themselves at the big league level.


Marshall: WAR is useful for comparing players across eras, but it seems less helpful for pitchers given the change in workload. Any adjustments you would suggest when comparing, say, Kershaw’s WAR to Bob Gibson’s?


Craig Edwards: I think it still does fine. Gibson pitches more innings in a season which is going to provide some advantage, but Kershaw gets to leave games early and potentially increase the gap compared to average starter numbers. I think WAR still accomplishes its goal. Consider that per 200 innings, Gibson was 4.3 WAR while Kershaw is at 5.7 WAR. Kershaw is likely to drop some as his career goes on, but the performance gap and the innings gap tend to even out.


justaguy: Continuing the discussion from elsewhere, who is the GOAT? Ruth, Bonds, or someone else?


Craig Edwards: I think it is Bonds. He’s just on another level from every other player in this generation. Ruth was truly remarkable, but this was 100 years ago, and it’s not like he was world’s better than Cobb. Since the end of Mays and Aaron, Bonds has 164 WAR. A-Rod is second with 114. That’s just a crazy gap.


Craig Edwards: Thanks for all the questions. That’s going to do it for today.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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