Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 6/25/2020

2:03

Craig Edwards: Let’s get rolling.

2:03

Robert: Does the truncated season hurt contending or rebuilding clubs more?

2:05

Craig Edwards: It hurts rebuilding clubs more. No minor league season hurts a bunch. The calculus was a bit different when the loss of a season was much more likely, but since it looks like there will be a season (fingers crossed), contending teams still get to compete for a World Series.

2:06

Cautiously Optimistic: I am curious and even a little excited to see this hyper regional experiment. It does make me question how viable the leagues really are. I know they make getting to a WS winner easier but does AL vs. NL mean much when half the games are already played against your regional cohort?

2:09

Craig Edwards: It’s going to make the playoffs a little weird because you are going to have teams face off in the playoffs who have never played against each other in the regular season, which is more of an AL-NL thing. Interleague play generally  creates the possibility of a repeat matchup but the odds are only like 1 in 3 in a general season and even then it isn’t a big part of the season. The regional schedule will create more of an AL-NL feel at the start of the playoffs, but it will still be there in the World Series unless we get an East-East etc. matchup.

2:10

Craig Edwards: The real test is going to be expansion to see if things get switched back up, but I don’t think it is the DH that makes the league different, it’s simply the makeup of the group of teams that have traditionally been in each league.

2:12

Lorenzo: Teams will have to decide on a 40 man roster and then a 20 man taxi squad to begin the season.  Around how many total players/prospects are there in camps roughly?   In other words, how many will not be chosen?

2:12

Craig Edwards: If you take a look at Roster Resource’s Opening Day Tracker: https://www.fangraphs.com/roster-resource/opening-day-tracker/cardinal…

2:15

Craig Edwards: there’s around 60-70 players we were keeping track of heading into the season in the spring. This will be a bit different given that teams will have two camps relatively close to each other. A lot of the time a team’s better prospects get invites to srping training even if they won’t make the club and then get sent back to minor league camp fairly early on. This is going to be a mix of that with some of those guys going to camp to get work in for the rest of the year so they don’t lose a full year along with all the players who would be the veteran-type Triple-A players who normally get the call when injured players go down.

2:16

Ballsandgutters: Is there anyone beyond Puig who is a FA of interest?

2:16

Craig Edwards: This article from Tony Wolfe might be of interest. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mlb-is-back-and-someone-should-sign-these-…

2:16

Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: When will we start hearing about players opting out of the season?

2:18

Craig Edwards: Players report on July 1 so I would imagine that it will be pretty close to then for the players in the high-risk category. The other issue is the testing that players have been taking and will continue to take and how that might impact a player’s decision. COVID-19 affects everyone differently so there might be some pretty severe cases from the get-go that could give players pause.

2:18

TED: Since the balls will be removed from play after so many touches, does that also mean there will, or should not be ball boys or bat boys risking additional handling of balls, and equipment?… and who’s counting?

2:19

Craig Edwards: I don’t think there will be ball boy or girls. I would think the umpires would be counting, but don’t know for sure.

2:20

Dave: You had an earlier article this month about how much money teams were going to make or lose this year.  With the return to play finalized, have those numbers changed at all?

2:21

Craig Edwards: If some teams have fans, that’s going to make a difference. If some teams own or can negotiate different deals with their local RSNs, that could make an impact as well.

2:22

Curious: I read your article about the NL DH a while back, but didn’t realize until yesterday that you wrote an entire follow-up about the Mets DH situation- was that in response to Mets fans getting het up in the comments section of the first article? Also, are you the kind of person who is open to the idea that you might be wrong?

2:24

Craig Edwards: I’d like to think I’m open to new evidence or correcting myself if I get something wrong. That said, I noted in the NL DH article https://blogs.fangraphs.com/nl-teams-stand-to-lose-out-if-theres-a-uni…

2:25

Craig Edwards: that if I substituted Cespedes for Dominic Smith, the Mets would move up to the middle of the pack. The new Mets piece wasn’t really admitting that I was wrong, it was more of an explanation of how the situation might work. I mean, I called the article, “https://blogs.fangraphs.com/no-the-mets-do-not-have-a-good-designated-…

2:26

Frank: Any indication on what happens with the draft order for next season?  Just based on this season?  Or wait to see if we even get a full season to begin with?

2:26

Craig Edwards: I imagine it will be based on record this season, just like normal.

2:26

TKDC: Do you think any teams will actually sign free agents to decently large contracts (let’s say over $2 million) for 2020?

2:26

Craig Edwards: No. I don’t see that happening.

2:27

Bad at math: Matt Carpenter has a 1100 PA vest for last year and this year for an 18.5M option to kick in. He had 492 last year leaving 608. With this season being 37% long, how many PAs can I root for him not to get this year?

2:29

Craig Edwards: I have some news for you. Carpenter’s contract already covers the 2021 season. His vesting option is based on PAs in 2020 and 2021 and is for the 2022 season.

2:29

Sam: How good does it feel to have actual baseball to write about instead of labor issues?

2:30

Craig Edwards: I’m pretty excited about it. I think I’ve got one more labor thing I’m working on, and there might be some deal for expanded playoffs over the next month, but I’m hopeful that baseball is going to happen and I don’t have to worry for a while about disagreements between players and owners.

2:31

Overbearing Padre: What are some of the creative ways to maneuver the roster to win in a sixty-game season? Will it mostly just be managing the team with openers or like it’s a playoff game? Will taxi squads be used in a bizarre fashion?

2:34

Craig Edwards: That depends on your strengths as a team. Do you have an ace you can pitch every five days because one or two extra starts from your best pitcher could make a difference? Do you have some young relievers who can go 2-3 innings at a time? A lot will depend on how well starters can get going and how many good relievers you have. Opener-type situations probably can and should be pretty common.

2:34

Jon: Hey Craig. Curious your thoughts on the new extra innings rule. I’m seeing a lot of fan rage, but I mostly think it’s purists or people who don’t understand the point of the rule. I’ve been on the road with teams for three years now and those extras are grueling. Yes, they’re few and far between, but when you need to get on the bus at 6am to go from Maryland to South Carolina, you want to be at the hotel before 1 to get some sleep. I’m not saying it’s a perfect rule, but it works. Players don’t want to be there all night, and I think most fans want to call it a night after 4 or so hours. A bit long winded, sorry. But just curious. The rule to me last year was a godsend

2:36

Craig Edwards: I don’t really like the runner on second rule because I worry about starting every inning with a bunt attempt, which isn’t exactly enjoyable. If I were going to do it, I would do it for the home team only if they pitched the top of the inning without giving up a run. I also don’t really have a problem with ties for this season.

2:36

Isolated Thinker: Will minor league option rules apply for players sent to the taxi squad?  What’s stopping a team from sending a SP to the taxi squad while he waits for his next start?

2:38

Craig Edwards: I believe there are still normal roster moves and 40-man roster. You can’t just pull players back and forth as you see fit without injury. And a lot of guys, you can’t really option to begin with. The difference in pay is huge, plus service time. Players wouldn’t really go along with it.

2:39

David: Is the 3 batter rule for relievers still going to be in effect this year? I assume it is but I wondered if it will be killed for pitcher safety resasons

2:39

Craig Edwards: Yes, it still is.

2:39

Kershawshank: How soon do we see the first significant trade once the transaction freeze is lifted

2:41

Craig Edwards: I think it will end up being within a few days of the start of the season. Teams are going to trade for a big player or give up a big prospect if there isn’t some certainty that a season will happen and the players involved are healthy.

2:41

Dave C: What r the chances an expanded post season gets agreed to next month if the owners throw in 50+ mill guaranteed? Or us that likelier to wait for the next CBA?

2:43

Craig Edwards: I’m not sure on the chances, but MLB offered $58 M for two years of expanded postseason and giving up a grievance. That clearly wasn’t enough. If it is for this season only, I think that $50 M amount might be enough, though with teams all of a sudden talking about fans in the stands, players might already be thinking they will get some postseason shares that seemed impossible a week ago (and might still be impossible).

2:44

Los Lonely Boys: Not your area but is Rotographs actually back now?! More articles this week than the previous couple combined, seemed like we missed out on a ton of player profiles but seems like those guys are back at it now!

2:44

Craig Edwards: I’m not sure how much there was to write about over the last month or so, but if there’s a bunch of stuff up there now, it’s because the season is coming, we hope.

2:45

Dave C: Teams will be less likely to deal a high end prospect for a guy like Lindor who is a FA after next year right? Who knows what the season will look like in 21

2:47

Craig Edwards: It will be really interesting to see how teams look at budgeting over the next year. If teams are looking at reducing payroll, there might be some good deals out there without giving up a bunch of prospects. That might not be true for a player like Lindor, but if you could get someone close to his level without the prospects because you were willing to take on money, that might be a better option.

2:47

Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: The thought occurs that a shortened season means the probabilities of a TEAM CHAOS standings situation come playoff time increases significantly. Will FanGraphs be investigating/simulating?

2:47

Craig Edwards: That reminds me. Playoff Odds are now up: https://www.fangraphs.com/standings/playoff-odds

2:49

Craig Edwards: One of the options on that page looks at ties and you can see that right now the odds of a three-way tie in the NL Central is 1.1%, even 60 games out with the odds of a three-way tie for the second wild card is over 5% for both leagues. https://www.fangraphs.com/standings/playoff-odds/fg/tie-breaker

2:49

Craig Edwards: There could be some nutty standings situations heading into the last few weeks of the season.

2:50

Dave: The way I heard the components of the schedules for teams, it appeared that there would be a bunch of two game series.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to just play four games at one park and split it up on who is the home team?

2:52

Craig Edwards: With only 60 games, as level of a playing field as possible is a good idea. That said, a bunch of two-game series’ increases the travel for teams by quite a bit it would seem and that is something that should be avoided.

2:52

TED: Stats, Stats, Stats… I would assume that a batting title would be considered to those who’ve achieved at least 200 at bats for this sawed off season, and understanding that anyone batting over .400 will not threaten any ones records (as it should be) and pitchers could ultimately get 10 -12 starts for the season, but should a pitcher win a CY Young award for a 6-2 record? and with all the incidentals concerning play, are the stats primarily ignored, and awards not given?

2:55

Craig Edwards: I don’t think anyone is really going to be confused by a batter hitting over .400 or a pitcher having an ERA under 1. When we filter stats in the future to compare great seasons, we’ll probably just use 500 PA or 150 innings rather than “qualified”. As for awards, the players are going to go out and play a season, even if shortened. They deserve to win the awards no matter what they’re overall stats look like.

2:56

Lorenzo: Who do you think the Yankees and Cole will face on opening night?  Red Sox?  Rays?  Mets?  Nationals?

2:58

Craig Edwards: I would think Red Sox or Rays. If they start on on the 23rd, that’s a three-day runup to Sunday night baseball so it will give a bunch of good matchups national tv opportunities. Nats versus Mets or Braves. Astros-Dodgers, Cardinals-Cubs. There are a bunch to choose from, but I would expect them to mostly lean toward the division as opposed to interleague just due to the volume of games that need to be completed in division.

2:59

Smoking aces: What’s more likely this year – a qualified hitter hits .400, or a qualified pitcher has a sub 1.00 ERA?

2:59

Craig Edwards: That’s a good question, and a fun one. I would guess hitter, but don’t know for sure.

2:59

Dave C: What’s the % that any potential grievance discovery get negotiated out by the time a new CBA gets agreed upon? 90?

3:00

Craig Edwards: I doubt they agree to a new CBA with something like that still hanging over them.

3:00

Smoking aces: The Mariners were a terrible team last year that started on fire. Started 13-2, went 55-92 after that. They knew they weren’t that good so they didn’t make any moves despite the hot start. What does a team like that do this year if they find themselves in 1st place after 15 games? That’s a quarter of the season, banked wins.

3:04

Craig Edwards: Let’s say you think you need 33 wins to make the playoffs. That means the Mariners in this case would need to go 20-25 the rest of the way. If they thought they were a true talent .400 team, then they would project for 18 more wins. If they had some holes that might get patched up with a couple more wins, they should make those moves to get to the playoffs. That said, I think there will be a lot more money moves than prospect moves.

3:04

Tony: How does the taxi-squad work? Frankly I haven’t been able to find much on how rosters or service time or assignments will work this year. Does getting moved from the taxi squad to the mlb team or vice versa count like moving from AAA to mlb? If not what’s the difference

3:04

Craig Edwards: i believe the taxi squad works like the minors.

3:04

Dave: If the virus keeps going like it is right now, will baseball have to go through the same type of bargaining to play the 2021 season?

3:05

Craig Edwards: Depends on a vaccine, though potentially getting 162 games in makes a difference with tv money.

3:05

Cube Jockey: How much of a carrot is the NL DH to the players union?  In theory, shouldn’t the owners spend the same amount on payroll, whether it’s partially to an aging DH, versus spread around on the rest of the roster?

3:05

Craig Edwards: I looked at it a few years ago and found it wasn’t that big of a difference.

3:06

justaguy: Don’t listen to the naysayers, Craig. We all know you are often right.

3:06

Craig Edwards: Thank you. and with that, we’ll close things up for the day. Hopefully at this time next week, players will be in Spring Training. Again.

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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