Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 5/30/2019


Craig Edwards: Hope everyone is doing well. Let’s get things rolling.


Craig Edwards: But first, here’s an article you might find interesting attempting to objectively rate the farm systems using some of my prior research.


John: Hey Craig, what’s your take on Cardinals management?  Specifically DeWitt and Mo?   I’m assuming this will be the 5th straight year of around 85 wins but missing the playoffs.  They refuse to spend on elite talent in FA while overpaying for average players(Fowler).  Am I wrong for thinking it might be time for Mo(who I’ve been a long time supporter) to go and get someone with a new philosophy?  Or will it be more of the same with DeWitt in charge?  I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I don’t have an answer.  Thanks


Craig Edwards: This one is a bit of a doozy. For the last 4ish years, the Cardinals have built 85-90 win teams who have won right around that amount but failed to make the playoffs. This offseason wasn’t any different despite FO proclamations about getting back to the playoffs. Dewitt is a good owner, Mozeliak is a good VP/GM, etc. The team has been conservative when it comes to free agency and trades and the failure to add more high-end talent as Pujols left and Molina and Holliday exited their primes has been their problem. That’s left them to sign average players and relief pitchers who haven’t helped. It’s a good team with a good future but they are going to need some more stars if they want to get back to the 90+ win mark regularly.


pelkey: i think pick off attempts are boring and stolen bases are fun. i want a very simple rule change that a pitcher may not make two pick off attempts in a row; there has to be at least one pitch between them. i think this would be a very fun rule as it would lead to alot more stolen bases (fun) and alot fewer pick off attempts (boring). what is the general feeling of the chat on this idea?


Craig Edwards: You would essentially eliminate pickoffs as not picking a player off once means a free pass to second on the next pitch. This seems a bit extreme. If you want more stolen bases, move all the fences back 40 feet. It would be harder to hit homers and make steals more valuable plus speedier players more likely to steal would be necessary in the outfield for defense.


Sanford: Do you think any of this year’s rookies could wind up in the MVP conversation by the end of the year? (A la Seager in ’16 or Judge in ’17?)


Craig Edwards: I doubt it. There are way too many established players with a huge head start.


John: Really great article on Rizzo.  It seems like a number of Cubs are going oppo more this season.  Can this be chalked up to randomness or is it more likely a shift in organizational approach?


Craig Edwards: The Cubs keep changing hitting coaches so maybe this is something Iapoce has stressed, but it is hard to glean an organizational philosophy with a new coach every year. It’s also possible that with the ball flying out, going oppo makes a bit more sense as the ball is going to travel a ways even without pull power. I do think it is hard to keep up that sort of thing all season long and the tendency to pull the ball is likely to get higher in the summer.


Craig Edwards: and thank you. Here’s that article on Rizzo:


Belli Flop: Thought experiment: WAR is a counting stat. If Joc Pederson played against lefties, whom he really cannot hit, would his WAR go down a lot even though he is playing more?  They would be very unproductive PAs


Craig Edwards: So Pederson adds say 6 replacement runs, loses 1 for defense, he would need to wRC+ about 80 for it not to impact his WAR. If he is closer to 60, it would cost him about 3 runs or so. Some impact, but not a ton.


Conor: How long do you think it will take post-draft for Keuchel and Kimbrel to be signed? Couple days, or weeks?


Craig Edwards: I would think within a week. Seems like at this point both teams and players are waiting. I don’t think we will see a huge bidding war for either player, but whatever is the best offer on a one-year deal at the time seems likely to get both players. Maybe one gets a player option, but this has gone on long enough.


Belli Flop: I agree with pelkey


Craig Edwards: I guess I don’t see pickoffs as that big of a deal, but others disagree.


THE George Lopez: If the Indians are sellers, what pieces do you think will be able to bring back some value, and who do you think they’ll look to hold onto at least through next year?


Craig Edwards: The problem with a stars and scrubs team is that the scrubs don’t get much return in trade and the stars are generally needed if you want to compete next season. I think everybody in the bullpen will be up for grabs, maybe Carlos Santana. Not sure a starting pitcher will get more now than then, but if Bauer pitches well, he’s the most likely guy to go who could fetch a big return.


Cito’s Mustache: Derek Dietrich has a top 10 wRC+ and a BABIP under .200. Safe to say the HR/FB ratio will regress, but can he actually finish the season as a top 25 hitter?


Craig Edwards: He wouldn’t be the first former Marlin to head to a hitter’s park and see his homers rise. Even if he only hits his projections, like 115 wRC+ the rest of the way, he ends up at 130 which is roughly top-25. Some of the bad BABIP is due to so many batted balls going out of the park. He still might have trouble qualifying for the batting title as he won’t play versus lefties, though that seems likely to help his hitting line overall.


Bring Back DeSpaniel Hair: What is keeping Jimmy Nelson out of the majors?


Craig Edwards: Maybe too many walks, but more likely just getting into the routine of pitching every five or so days and probably needs to pitch into the sixth inning a few times as well.


tom: Gloria!


Craig Edwards: We’ve got some Blues fans in the chat.


Matt: If Dakota Hudson shows some improved command, what are your thoughts on him? Sinker, Slider, Cutter pitchers are rare as starters, but his cutter shows curveball like movement(classified as a curve by statcast)


Craig Edwards: Even in this good stretch for Hudson, he isn’t striking out many hitters and walking too many for that amount of strikeouts. He’s been good of late because he’s only allowed a single homer this month. Even if he posts a 60% GB rate, he’s not going to keep that up and the free baserunners could cost him. He looks to be settling in as a solid fifth starter, but this month isn’t sustainable. He should be able to miss bats with his arsenal, but he just isn’t doing it, which has been the case throughout his pro career. Something could still flip, but he’s not going to be more than a backend starter until something changes.


JoeyBoomBats: Lots of chatter about Paddack being a NL ROY candidate, but Soroka is out-WARing him. Soroka get your vote over Paddack (assuming you can’t vote for Pete Alonso)?


Craig Edwards: Paddack’s FIP went up 60 points yesterday so this is a fairly recent development. Soroka has been good, but he’s only given up one home run and has a .218 BABIP. Neither of those things is going to continue going forward. I think Paddack has been the slightly more impressive pitcher so far, but if Paddack gives up a lot more homers, Soroka’s game will overtake Paddack at some point. I’m not there yet, though.


dave in slc: i dont understand waiting until after draft to sign kimbrel or kuechel. Whoever is drafted is not coming right to the team to help so how is it a factor?


Craig Edwards: At this point, you only get an extra week of Keuchel and Kimbrel and that week isn’t as valuable as a pick in the top 100. I think it is a fair argument for April, but we are past that point right now.


Broken Bat: Has Boyd of the kittens finally arrived?


Craig Edwards: I’m still a bit of a doubter on Boyd because of the pitch mix. He’s certainly been impressive since his poor start against the Astros, but hasn’t faced too much in the way of offense with Miami and Baltimore as his foes. I’m still waiting on Boyd.


Dellin’s Donuts: With all the NYY stars on the shelf, which player would you give team MVP too at the 1/3 mark of the season? German, Voit, LeMahieu, all come to mind as they’ve been there everyday, but Sanchez, Urshela, Ottavino have all been pretty integral pieces. My vote goes to German I think.


Craig Edwards: I think Tanaka and Torres are the two guys to choose from. Tanaka has pitched better than German with two extra starts and 10 more innings plus two really good games against the Rays. Torres has done a crazy amount of damage against the Orioles:… but he’s also been playing shortstop all year. I’m giving it to Tanaka right now.


dave in slc: so teams lose a pick if they sign someone before the draft?


Craig Edwards: correct. I wrote about it here.…


Steven Tobolowsky: Why am I your twitter pic?


Craig Edwards: I picked it a long time ago and I’ve just kept it. BING.


Hal: Over/under for Joey Votto’s end-of-year OPS is 800, what’re you taking?


Craig Edwards: He’s at like .700ish right now so he’d have to be like 850 the rest of the way. I’d take the under there though i think i would choose over if it was just rest of season.


David: Any thoughts on Jarred Kelenic’s promotion to A+?


Craig Edwards: That’s a good sign for him. He’s incredibly young and double-A next year puts him on track for the majors at 21 years old in 2021. Still a ways to go, but that’s a great start.


Joseph: Can we talk a little more about the Rays and how they seemingly under-the-radar have put together a top 3 farm system, a very competitive major league team all with an opening day salary of less than $65 million? How have they done it?


Craig Edwards: They weren’t particularly good from 2014-2017 so they spent that time accumulating a ton of good players without ever having to trade away prospects. It is an impressive organization regardless of payroll, which is maybe something we don’t talk about enough. The payroll always gets mentioned because it is low, but winning and player development are the more important things, and that’s what they’ve done well.


Josh R: I know Bryce Harper is on a better streak in the last week, but my theory is that his eyesight is just too poor now for him to be an elite hitter.  He should be thinking LASIK because contacts just do not make up for good eyesight enough.  What do you think?


Craig Edwards: that’s wild


Indians Fan: Is this the real Jorge Polanco or a balloon ready to bust?


Craig Edwards: I wrote about him earlier this week. I don’t think he’ll be in the MVP discussion at the end of the year, but he’s a good hitter who is turning on a lot of balls. A .366 BABIP and .248 ISO might not be sustainable, but a .320 BABIP and .200 ISO is still a really good player with his walk and strikeout rates and the fact that he can play shortstop.


John: What are your thoughts on the Cards implementing a version of The Opener this year?  There’s no way they can keep running out Wacha and Waino every 5th day.


Craig Edwards: They aren’t running Wacha out there anymore and after yesterday, it’s hard to see him regaining form this season. I think the Cardinals do have some arms that could make the opener work. Guys like Cabrera, Ponce De Leon, Gomber once off the DL, even Gant might not be ready or good enough to turn over a lineup, but going once through the order might make sense for them. They really need to hope Reyes can get back and that Martinez can build up innings to get back in the rotation. Even then, they still might need a Kuechel/Bumgarner/Stroman type to get back to the playoffs. They are a good team, but this May has put them behind teams they need to catch up to, and those teams are just as good as the Cardinals.


Duck season: You are appointed commissioner of baseball. What are 2 things you do to jumpstart popularity/attendance? (rule changes, structural changes, campaigns, etc…)


Craig Edwards: I would add six new teams and shrink the strike zone.


Craig Edwards: oh and here’s that Polanco article I mentioned.…


Desperate Royals Fan: So, a week or two ago there was chatter that the Royals front office was talking about what they needed to do to make the wild card THIS YEAR. I’ve never heard of a front office being so out of touch with reality. Any chance they all finally get fired when they lose 109 or so games this year?


Craig Edwards: This is the same front office who was around for back to World Series appearances and a championship. That was more improbably than the second wild card this year. As long as the front office isn’t telling ownership that the second wild card is an actual realistic goal, then they probably aren’t in danger of losing their jobs. Setting expectations is probably more important for them right now. Dreaming about a second wild card is fine as long you aren’t hurting your realistic long-term goals.


Chris Marotta: After hitting two Home Runs last night Pete Alonso has tied Mark McGwire’s rookie record of 19 before June 1.  How likely is it that we see Alonso break Aaron Judge rookie record of 52?


Craig Edwards: Given that one third of his fly balls have been homers and he needs to basically keep pace with what he’s done so far. I think 40 homers would be a pretty big accomplishment for him this season.


Dan: Do you think Josh Donaldson gets a qualifying offer? Seems justified based on his performance, but maybe the Braves want Riley at 3B next year?


Craig Edwards: If he’s healthy the rest of the year and is a 3-4 win player, I would think so. That talent on a one-year deal is too good to pass up. You figure out what to do with Riley later.


Craig Edwards: Okay, everybody. That will do it for me today. Thanks for all the questions.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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John Autin
John Autin

Alonso’s HR/FB is 3rd to Yelich and Pederson among qualifiers, and virtually equal to Gallo. It’s likely they all regress — but having seen all of Alonso’s at-bats, I’ll bet he stays right up with anyone; the ball just flies off his bat. And he could offset regression in HR/FB by raising his now-ordinary FB/GB ratio, or even by trimming his 29% K rate. (Maybe I’m dreaming on that one, but he IS just a rookie.)