Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat–6/27/2019


Craig Edwards: Let’s get things rolling.


Eel Ffilc: Why is it that every qualified starting pitcher has a positive WAR? Is it as simple as pitching enough innings is deemed above replacement?


Craig Edwards: It is really difficult for a team, no matter how bad to continually trot out a player every five days who is actually below replacement. Also keep in mind that to be qualified a starter pitching every fifth game has to pitch about five innings which raises the bar to appear on the leaderboard. Lower the innings minimum to 50 and like 15% of the pitchers are below replacement.…


connor: dennis lin said urias will be up before end of june.   doesn’t look like it will happen.  what is holding up the promotion?  padres just being cheap?  urias can energize the padres like riley did with the braves.


Craig Edwards: The Padres are in kind of a weird spot with Urias because you are going to want to play him everyday or nearly every day. Do you tell Ian Kinsler, who has a 112 wRC+ over the last month, he’s going to barely play at all. Do you tell Greg Garcia that even though he’s put up a 117 wRC+ the last month, he isn’t going to play at all. At least for the last month, Urias probably wasn’t going to be significantly better than the guys he’s replacing. It will happen at some point, but it will take some slumps from the current players with the job.


Clint the Wildling: Are you surprised the Yanks called up Tauchmann instead of Frazier? With Cashman saying Stanton won’t return until August, wouldn’t this be Clint’s time for some everyday ABs?


Craig Edwards: I think it is a sign that there aren’t going to be everyday ABs. DH is full and the three outfield spots are still generally claimed. It is probably better to keep him playing every day so that when or if they do need him, he’s not been stuck on the bench.


Bo: How is it that the Braves, whose rebuild centered around pitching, have some young stud hitters (Acuna, Albies, Riley) but still need pitching help?


Craig Edwards: Every team always needs pitching help. A club would have to have eight good starters at the beginning of the year not to need help and even then with injuries and inconsistency, they still might. That isn’t a reason not focus a ton of development and resources on pitching because it is very hard and expensive to get pitching from outside the organization unless Dallas Keuchel just falls into your lap.


Bo: The Athletic published an article about Folty’s struggles, which he admits is due in part to a mental block about throwing his slider following his injury. Do you buy it?


Craig Edwards: I think confidence in what a player is doing is very important so it wouldn’t surprise me if this were true.


Eben: How sorry should we feel for Mike Shildt?


Craig Edwards: We shouldn’t feel sorry for him. He’s got one of the very best jobs in the game in a good organization with a talented team. His comments yesterday were a fight against some perceptions people have about the club, but the complaints aren’t the real issue. Shildt can cite the improved baserunning and defense compared to his predecessor, and those are good things to trumpet because he’s done a good job transforming the team.


Craig Edwards: The problem is that fans aren’t actually upset about the style of play. They are upset about winning. Fans don’t miss Whiteyball as much as they miss playing in the playoffs. Fans don’t miss Albert Pujols as much as they miss the two World Series titles. When the team isn’t winning, and though they have a winning record and are 2.5 games out of first (mostly because the Cubs aren’t as good as they have been the last few years), this team’s production ultimately looks like the last few years when the team missed the playoffs.


Craig Edwards: That barely above .500 record might not be a huge deal normally, but after missing the playoffs, the Cardinals front office told everyone at the beginning of the offseason that this year was going to be different. They announced it when they traded for Paul Goldschmidt, and then they just sat on their hands the rest of the offseason and made their typical reliever move. Then, they handed out extensions to aging stars which has increased the scrutiny on Goldschmidt and Carpenter as they have struggled. The Cardinals were one big piece away this offseason before they lost Carlos Martinez in the rotation. WIthout that piece or Martinez, the club is roughly an 85 win team. That’s what the team has delivered, but the front office promised a lot more, and that’s where a lot of the frustration comes from.


Craig Edwards: Moving On…


Conner from AZ: I often feel like the Coors penalty applied to the wRC+ of Rockies’ players is a little harsh. Do you think there is any room for making an adjustment to that calculation and how one might go about doing it?


Craig Edwards: I don’t think so. It is appropriately harsh because Coors is a great park to hit in. I know that there might be a road penalty involved but I don’t think it negates how great it is to hit in Coors. Plus, any move to help the hitters’ wRC+ would mean a reduction in the benefit given to the pitchers and that just doesn’t seem fair to them.


john: Which contract will end up looking better for the team: Stanton and the yankees or harper and the phillies?


Craig Edwards: Well the Stanton one is going to look bad first, though the tax cost for Stanton is only $22 M per year so it is never going to get that bad for the team. Harper isn’t ever likely to provide value in those later years, but presumably, he’ll still be at a discount for a while. I think the Harper contract ends up being the better one.


john: I know people keep complaining about the lack of parity in the American league, but isn’t there more top end parity in the AL? The yankees, astros, and twins have all been really good, the rays have been good and the red sox are the defending champs, while in the NL, the dodgers sort of seem to be far and away ahead of the pack. It the top end parity better than the NL where there are a lot of good teams but only 1 great one?


Craig Edwards: I think that depends on how important the regular season is versus the playoffs. As someone who constantly follows baseball, a lot more interesting teams is better for me, and I think, the sport because there are a lot more fans engaged in the daily wins and losses of a team instead of just looking forward to the playoffs or 2020 and beyond.


Blake M: Do you think the Cardinals will stick with Carlos Martinez in the bullpen for the rest of the season?


Craig Edwards: That’s a lot more likely now than it was a week ago, which is sort of a shame. He has all the weapons necessary to be a good starter even if he could only throw 93 mph and most guys with higher velocity can’t say that. The Cardinals desperately need starters, but they aren’t likely to create another hole in the bullpen anytime soon.


Nick: The Angels spread their spending around this offseason on three relatively cheap pickups (Allen, Cahill, Harvey), none of whom has worked out.  Do you think next offseason they concentrate their spending instead, and target a single player like Gerrit Cole to finally add an impact pitcher to that rotation?


Craig Edwards: I think the Angels pitching philosophy over the winter was a good one for a rebuilding club or one that is on the verge of a rebuild but willing to see how things play out one more year. It’s sort of like what the Rangers have done. The Angels are a team that should have a lot of payroll flexibility (which is almost a joke-term at this point), which would put guys like Cole or Bumgarner in play as they try to get back into contention and not waste Mike Trout’s prime.


LenFuego: At home, the Rockies lead MLB in offensive OPS at .917, over the Dodgers (.868), Braves (.851), Astros (.824) and Brewers (.808) – yes, the 5th place team lags the Rockies by over 100 points.  On the road?  The Rockies are in dead last place at .660.  Yeah, I’d say a large wRC+ adjustment because of Coors is appropriate.


Craig Edwards: there’s some road penalty there because they move out of the thin air, but yes, the help they receive at Coors is tremendous.


Acunami: The Nats have a great near term schedule and have pounded the fish. Are they in playoff position in two weeks?


Craig Edwards: They are 2.5 out of the wild card now, but they also have a lot of teams between them and the wild card. I doubt they are in a playoff spot in two weeks, but they should be close and it shouldn’t be a surprise if they are.


Ryan: What are the chances the Mets will be sellers this deadline? If they sell is it likely Syndergaard or DeGrom could be moved?


Craig Edwards: There’s a very good chance the Mets will be sellers. deGrom isn’t going anywhere but Wheeler almost definitely will get moved and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Syndergaard go as well. They could get a haul of prospects, but it is hard to know without having any idea about what they plan to do for next season.


Crazi Sammi Meatballs: My syrup guzzling, ham eating, pot leaf on the flag brethren of NGNL to the north think Joey Votto is on track to a HOF career.  I think they’ve just not seen the sun for a long time.  What says you?


Craig Edwards: I think he’s on track, but he’s not there yet and he can’t keep playing like he has for half a season. He’ll need a few more productive years I think, but he’s got an MVP and has played his entire career with the Reds, which will help.




Craig Edwards: Not sure why a naming a team after a Teen Wolf character is so controversial, but that’s just me.


John: If the Cardinals fail to make the playoffs for a 4th consecutive year, what do you think they should do with the FO?  I was a huge Mo’ fan, but it’s getting harder and harder to support him.  Especially when there were 2 elite FA’s on the market this past year and he wasn’t even interested.


Morbo: Following up on the Mike Shildt question response. I think the Cardinals biggest problem this year has been poor roster construction, but Shildt can’t just come out and say that unless he wants to get traded to the Rays.


Craig Edwards: I think John Mozeliak probably had interest in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. He doesn’t set the budget. While he certainly has his flaws, like continually signing mediocre relievers and choosing the mostly sunk cost of Dexter Fowler over Tommy Pham, the team has continued to do relatively well in the standings without a rebuild and the organization has continued to produce good young players like Jack Flaherty, Paul DeJong, and Harrison Bader without having top picks. The organization as a whole is still strong and in good shape for the future, but failing to land a star player and failing to spend to get one is still preventing them from getting over the top.


Clint the Wildling: How much do you think Clint’s mini meltdown hurt his potential trade value, or will team’s look past that and see a 24 year old LFer with an MLB bat.


Craig Edwards: I don’t think it will hurt that much, but I think his value might be overstated. There are always decent-hitting, poor-fielding corner outfielders available and they generally don’t cost that much. Frazier has value, but I don’t see it as centerpiece for a star value.


Other Ryan: Hi Craig, thanks for the chat. Do you think there is anything to a team’s ability to “bounce back” after a loss? The Twins have won 21 of the 27 games they’ve played after a loss (winning percentage of .778). This would be the second highest winning percentage after a loss since the 2005 Cardinals, who went 49-13 following a loss.


Craig Edwards: I don’t know that there is necessarily any skill to it, but good teams probably have the ability just because they win a lot.


Bighen: Other than replacing owners what is the best path forward for the Mets?


Craig Edwards: You assume there is a path forward. The Mets need to increase their budget so they don’t have to trade away really good prospects to get the reliever they want. They aren’t that far off and might have contended this season with a little better luck. You can’t rely on your system to produce cheap stars and at the same time need that system to trade for players who will fit in the budget. The Diaz-Cano trade was cash neutral this season. Now they are going to have to make future sacrifices as those salaries grow. It isn’t a sustainable way to win so other than spending more, they don’t have a lot of options right now.


Richie: Goldschmidt absolutely counted as landing a star player. Just hasn’t worked out, is all. But sure counts as a totally honest attempt thereat.


Craig Edwards: Right. and more was expected of Goldschmidt this season, but 1) he was only under contract for one season 2) even if he signed an extension like he did, he wasn’t likely to be a star after this season anyway given he’ll turn 32 in September. It was obvious that the Cardinals needed to make one more big move to make themselves division favorites. They didn’t do so and this is the logical result.


Alan: A lot of Cardinal fans seem to be clamoring for a Bumgarner trade. But, with declining peripherals and a 4.21 ERA, he doesn’t look that much different than what St. Louis already has in the rotation. Is he really the answer to their pitching woes?


Craig Edwards: For the Cardinals, Bumgarner would be their best starter. His strikeout and walk rates are very good this season. For everyone else, he’s still a very good starter and it is just going to depend on cost compared to other players. He’s not as good as Stroman, who has an extra year of control while a player like Boyd has a ton of control.


John: What do you think it would take for the Cards to get Bauer?  Would Gorman be a must?  And if so, do you include him for probably a 2 year rental?


Craig Edwards: I don’t see the Cardinals trading Carlson, Gorman, or Knizner which would make Bauer a near impossibility. For them, that’s probably the right move.


ROBOCOP: White Sox just DFA Alonso… who do you think they call up to fill the empty roster spot?


Craig Edwards: Would be kind of fun to see Vaughn immediately called up though I wonder if the Sox will put Jimenez or their catchers at DH more and end up not seeing the callup make a difference. The move does come pretty close on the heels of Jay returning. Might not be a coincidence, though he might be gone soon, too.


Dan: I know Counsell had to say that Hiura remains in AAA because ABs need to go to Shaw and Aguilar in the hope that they heat up.  At what point do the Brewers have to pull the plug and hand 2B over to Hiura to inject some life into the offense beyond the 4 spot in the lineup?


Craig Edwards: Probably another month. Both of those guys were huge for them last season, and for this year, getting them back to normal is probably a higher upside play than Hiura the rest of the way.


Dan: Assuming mlb expands by 4 teams by definition that means 100 players not currently good enough to play in the majors now are. What does that do to our perception of good/bad players as fans?


Craig Edwards: I doubt we notice a real difference. I think one thing we are seeing this season is that there is a point where shifting innings from starters to the bullpen has some negative effect. We are basically at equilibrium now, but adding four more teams would push things back to starters being a little more valuable as the number of good, cheap relievers per team would diminish.


Ryan: Is Tommy La Stella for real or is this a 1 year thing?


Craig Edwards: He’s real in the fact that he’s probably an average regular now where we couldn’t say that before. We can’t expect 35 homers from him, though.


Nolan: Which will be higher: the number of at bats for Stanton the rest of the year, or the number of innings pitched for Severino the rest of the year?


Craig Edwards: The at bats for Stanton. He only needs to play a couple weeks to get 40-50 PA and that number could be tough for Severino.


Nick: Sale, Snell, Paxton: Which team should be most concerned about its ace?


Craig Edwards: I’m not overly concerned about any of them and Paxton had two decent starts before the last one, but with his injury history, the answer has to be him.


Tanaka: I’m the ace anyway.


Craig Edwards: Fair


DJ LeMahieu: I’m not THIS good, but this has to rank with the better signings, yes? Do I win the BA title? Do I break 5WAR?


Craig Edwards: I’ll say no to both, but Lemahieu has provided exactly what the Yankees have needed this season and has been a good value. I’m still not sure I wouldn’t rather have Machado.


Craig Edwards: I think that’s going to do it for me. If you are going to be in Cleveland on the Saturday before the All-Star Break, we’ve got an event with a couple great panels that you should check out.…


Craig Edwards: and because I forgot to plug anything else, I wrote about Pete Alonso today.


Craig Edwards: Jose Ramirez on Tuesday


Craig Edwards: I was on the latest Effectively Wild…


Craig Edwards: And one more thing, no chat next Thursday as it is the 4th of July. See you in two weeks, or maybe next weekend in Cleveland.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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