Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 7/2/2020


Derek: So far in the early goings of soccer’s return to action, “home field advantage” has mostly been nonexistent, which I think at least cursorily supports the theory that most of home field advantage comes from referees being influenced by hordes of screaming fans. Thoughts on whether we’ll see a similar effect in MLB’s return? (though there is also some slight structural advantage to being the home team in baseball that is not present in soccer).


Craig Edwards: Like you alluded to, batting last provides an advantage not seen in soccer. I also wonder if the travel is going to be more of an issue this year. Players getting to stay at home versus a very weird hotel/food situation could provide a little more comfort for the home team. Will umps not call a borderline pitch for the home team as often without fans? I have no idea, but I would think that effect would be very small.


J: Do you think the owners are happy with Manfred’s job or would they prefer a more PR friendly commissioner? I assume Manfred will remain the commissioner for the next CBA negotiations since that’s his core competency, but after those are completed could you see him being replaced?


Craig Edwards: I think Manfred’s body of work speaks for itself as far as owners go. I think owners will gladly take a PR hit if it is helpful for their bottom line. Manfred’s strength is making good deals on behalf of the owners. That’s going to be tested in the next 18 months. If there is a strike or lockout or what is perceived as an unfavorable deal, then I could see owners looking elsewhere. It’s also possible that Manfred’s time as Commissioner has run its course. He’s been there for a long time and it just might be time for someone new. I’m not sure who that might be, but Dan Halem probably didn’t do himself any favors with the email exchanges that have gone public over the last few months.


Quarantino Martinez: What’s with the 60 man player pools? That’s, like, only one player a game, dude.


Craig Edwards: If you included all of the minor leaguers as part of a player pool in past years, you probably come pretty close to 162 players so the numbers check out.


Craig Edwards: Oh, and here’s a thing I wrote on the player pools after they were sort of announced on Sunday.…


Craig Edwards: and since I’m plugging pieces, here’s me on the possibility of a player hitting .400.


Adam Dawson: Thoughts on Reynaldo Lopez from CWS? Also who gets saves in Philadelphia this season?


Craig Edwards: I think Lopez has turned himself from probable reliever to maybe starter. I think there’s still the issue of turning over a lineup multiple times, but he had that good run in the middle of last season where it looked like he was maybe putting things together. I still think reliever is more likely long-term, but he’s a back end of the rotation starter now and he has the potential to get better.


Craig Edwards: As for Phillies closer, that’s a little more difficult to say. It seems like they have some starter candidates like Pivetta, but I really have no idea at this point.


Tigers in 2020??: What team shockingly makes the playoffs that most likely would not if we were playing 162?


Craig Edwards: I guess I’ll plug one more thing. This is over at ESPN (with a paywall) and I picked four teams I thought had a shot this year.…


Craig Edwards: For one team ill-equipped to go the full 162, but potentially able to catch fire for a bit, I’ll say the Blue Jays.


Craig Edwards: Not the Tigers, though, sorry. It would be kind of fun to see Manning and Mize see what they can do, but even then, it would be a longshot.


Jimmy: How do you feel about the phrase “one of the better” relative to “one of the best”?


Craig Edwards: I’m fine with both. I think the latter implies a significantly higher status than the former. They aren’t necessarily interchangeable, I don’t think.


Tom: Do the Cardinals really not know what they have in Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas? Or is it that they really know what they have in Dylan Carlson?


Craig Edwards: I think it is possible, if not probably to think they don’t know what they have with Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas. The problem with that is, you don’t get the 40 or so games at the beginning of the season to find out this year. That’s 3/4 of the season that you might normally want to find out what you have instead of just 1/4. That’s risking a lot, particularly if you do know what you have in Dylan Carlson.


Craig Edwards: If the Cardinals make Matt Carpenter the DH most of the time, that means Edman is at third most of the time. That leaves three outfield spots for Bader, Fowler, Carlson, O’Neill and Thomas. The first four project pretty close as hitters with Bader getting a huge edge on defense. Thomas lags way behind.


Craig Edwards: I’m just not sure I buy the “need to see what they have” argument. You put Bader in CF 80% of the time, Carlson somewhere 80% of the time and if you need to see what you have, there’s 140% split between Fowler, O’Neill, and Thomas plus a few more at DH. If Carlson is one of the three-best outfielders, then he needs to play. If he’s not, then a lot of people have been misleading everyone about how good he is.


Tom: Can you please help me in making “the Gibson rule” a thing we say in honor of Bob Gibson when we talk about the Covid restriction on fraternizing with the opposing team?


Craig Edwards: that’s pretty good. campaign needs some sort of catchphrase and good marketing. “When an opponent tries to take you out to dinner, give him the ole brushback”


Guest: The $170 M (or whatever it was) advanced to the players has alrready been distributed, right? So players that opt out still get paid something?


Craig Edwards: Yes. I believe any amounts “owed” come out of the joint MLBPA/MLB fund.


Jimmy: And any other journalism writing quirks that irk you?


Craig Edwards: not sure it is a journalism writing quirk, but I always prefer “myriad” to “a myriad of”. I’m not a huge stickler when it comes to that sort of thing and I’m sure I do things all the time that would annoy a lot of people if I didn’t have a good editor.


Important Question: Will MLB.TV be super cheap?


Craig Edwards: That’s a good question. The monthly plan is usually like $25 so you would think it would be difficult to charge too much more than $50 for the season.


Bad Bill: Any ideas on good stuff to win fans back _during_ the games in this weird season?  Or is it “if you televise it, they will come”?


Craig Edwards: I think doing as much unique/unusual things as possible can help. I do think it is important to serve the audience that just wants to watch the game as it hopefully sells itself, but the cardboard cutouts of fans that some teams are doing is a neat idea. The most important thing to do is get through the season safely and that might not be in MLB’s control.


IndyMets: Any chance the Arizona Fall League could have more teams and prospects than usual?  If they play, it could be very exciting this year,


Craig Edwards: It’s possible, but right now it is hard to know what Arizona is going to look like in the Fall. There was talk of doing a Florida Fall league as well and that might serve to dilute the talent a little bit by splitting the teams and prospects up a bit. We’ll have to see how the bubbles work for MLS, NHL, NBA to see if doing something like the Fall League is feasible.


Dunning-Kruger on the right: How do you see middle relievers factoring into the game this year.  More important than usual?  Do any stand out that should excel in this format?


Craig Edwards: The middle reliever has gone through different iterations over the last few decades. It used to be a starter/swingman type who could handle several innings. Then, with more bullpen spots, there really wasn’t room for that guy because teams could just pitchers go an inning at a time and air things out. Last year, the middle reliever was just a pitcher who came in to get blown up in a game that was already won or lost.


Craig Edwards: This year, I think there is going to be a lot of space for the more traditional swingman type of middle reliever who can come into games and give multiple quality innings. Normally, teams would take a guy who just missed the rotation and put him down in Triple-A to stay fresh in case a starter was needed. With just 60 games and no minor leagues, it is probably more important to keep the pitcher going in game ready situations. With some pitchers perhaps not quite ready to go 5-6 innings off the bat, there should be opportunities there for a piggyback situation or just being ready to come in early in the game. Of course, the pitcher needs to be used because letting a guy go two weeks or something doesn’t help anybody. That means sometimes going in the 7th and 8th as opposed to the 4th and 5th or 5th and 6th.


Craig Edwards: Nobody in particular comes to mind, but it is one of the things that will separate managers this year. There’s going to be some inclination to play the best guys every day because you only have a couple months, but everybody needs to be ready to come in and contribute and it will be difficult to square those up.


Craig Edwards: Light queue today so I’m going to wrap a bit early. Stay safe over the weekend and have fun, if possible.

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