Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat–8/22/2019


Vik: How did the Mets outsmart the Astros (clearly, the superior organization when it comes to analytics) on the JD Davis trade?


Craig Edwards: The Astros are so talented and deep that they have to move JD Davis types sometimes. At the time, the price was viewed as steep for a 26-year-old who hadn’t really proven himself. There are guys on some of the better teams in baseball who might be worthy of starting on other teams, but don’t always get the chance. We should all be happy that Davis is no longer stuck in Houston and that he’s getting opportunities with the Mets.


Guest: Gio Urshela’s ZiPS preseason wOBA was .275, not it’s all the way up to .321, That’s got to be one of the better changes in baseball right?


Craig Edwards: I would imagine so. That sounds like a pretty good article for Dan. I’ll pass it along.


Trent: With more platooning and more relief pitching in the game today, should MLB change the requirements to qualify for the batting and ERA titles?


Craig Edwards: The ERA title I think makes more sense. Only 57 pitchers qualified last season, which is less than two per team and a 25% drop from a decade ago. It should be more representative of what it means to be a starting pitcher.


Alan: Any idea what’s going on with Matt Carpenter? It doesn’t make sense to me that one could go from MVP candidate to replacement level over the course of one season.


Craig Edwards: Combination of age, injury, and possibly approach have just about made this a lost season for Carpenter. The talent is probably still there for a turnaround, even this season, but he looks like he needs to reset himself a bit to get back closer to what he was last year.


Logan: The Nationals’ bullpen by WPA is the second-worst bullpen in the history of that stat’s availability.  Why have the Nats been unable to fix their ‘pen this year?


Craig Edwards: They didn’t take a terrible approach to their pen in the offseason, bringing in a bunch of new guys with the hope a few would work out, but it seems like nearly all of their adds blew up. They really need to get a better pipeline of pitchers generally so that they have more minor league starters and relievers that can help out and prevent this from happening.


Kw: Let’s suppose that Nick Castellanos continues his offensive production with the Cubs for the rest of the year. What do you think he makes in free agency? (Is the J.D. Martinez deal a reasonable comparison?)


Craig Edwards: It is not. Even if he hits a 200 wRC+ the rest of the way, he still ends the season at around 135. Martinez was at 167 coming off of 143, 136, and 154.  I know Castellanos is younger, but I would be surprised if he got a guarantee over $40 million.


Jason: Can the Cardinals move Carlos Martinez into the rotation in 2020 and maintain a high level without the addition of a free agent?


Craig Edwards: Considering their rotation operates at a below-average level now, swapping in Martinez for, I guess Wacha in this case, and assuming Wainwright and Hudson continue pitching at their current levels might get them to be an average rotation next season. Given the state of their roster and salary/position commitments, the teams’ only avenue to get better might be a big addition in the rotation.


3 in 5: Fangraphs really missed on the impact a change of scenery would have on Castellanos’ production. What explains what went so wrong for FG’s and so right for Casty?


Craig Edwards: He loves fastballs and maybe teams haven’t caught up to that yet? It’s a good run, but it is less than a 100 PA. We might want to pump the breaks a little.


TF Fredrik: Is baseball slowly moving towards a more fluid pitching structure? Meaning in 30 years, could we see pitchers in buckets of 1, 2-3, 4-6 inning pitchers and you have let’s say 3-4 guys in each bucket. Their usage would not be set and they could be combined at any point in games. Maybe they knew they would be used in the next game or two, but not exactly when. Obviously this would take a shift in development so large that it would take years maybe even decades, but would it be a more effective way to go about pitching?


Craig Edwards: I think that’s highly dependent on the talent available and the number of teams. It would take a lot of pitchers to pull something off like that so if the pool were diluted by expansion or there weren’t enough talented amateurs available, something like that wouldn’t be possible. If we have the same number of teams, the pipeline for talent remains plentiful, and a few extra roster spots are doled out, then something like that would be possible.


White Sox Fan: Just saw that the Astros called up a 22 year old from AAA who’s only had 16 games there.  Meanwhile, Luis Robert continues to demolish AAA and sits in Charlotte.  I get service time, but would much rather see him start to learn at MLB level while we suck,  Your thoughts?


Craig Edwards: Both Eloy Jimenez and Vlad, Jr. didn’t get called up last year and I wonder if not getting at least a little exposed to MLB pitching last year might have hurt them a bit. Robert does need to be challenged at a higher level in order to take the next step because he does have some swing and miss to his game that will need refining in Chicago, but I doubt the White Sox call him up for reasons.


Wildtsunami: Do you think Gerrit Cole will be good after he goes to another team next year…


Craig Edwards: I don’t think there’s a reverse-Astros situation that makes a pitcher worse once he leaves. Morton and Keuchel are doing well with their new teams. Whatever advantages the Astros have to give to Cole should mostly translate to his new team because he’s already learned a lot of what he needed to improve. Cole was also really, really good with the Pirates before he started getting hurt.


Kw: If Gerrit Cole continues his production, what do you think he could get in free agency? (More or less than Darvish?)


Craig Edwards: assuming he finished the season, healthy, 7/175 seems like a good target.


Verlander: Is there any possible justification for my request? (Setting aside it was absurd for it to be granted, he had to ask first.) Verlander says there’s a “side” to his story, but if there was, why wouldn’t he have said that?


Craig Edwards: Would he have said the same thing if the Astros had won the game? I  don’t know the whole story, but it doesn’t look good from his perspective.


Greg: Re: Your answer on Castellanos:  Will the phrase “pump the breaks” ever disappear from the lexicon, given that pumping the breaks is no longer necessary because of ABS?


Craig Edwards: Hold your horses on that one. I think break-pumping will be around for a while.


Jeff in T.O.: Why does MLB stick to a 25 man roster? If they were expand it by 1~2 players, we’d presumably end up with less position players pitching. I’d imagine the PA would be behind the move and I’d think that the addition of a couple players would have a marginal effect on overall team payroll.


Craig Edwards: MLB also doesn’t want so many breaks in games for reliever changes. There will be 26 on the roster next season, but they’ve limited the pitchers to 13 as well as tried to prevent so many position players pitching.


Bob Dobalina: There is no way that Amed Rosario can keep being graced by the BABIP gods to such an extent, but he’s also dropped his K% quite a lot over 150 PAs in the second half, and has been improved with the glove. Are you a believer that the profile is starting to emerge?


Craig Edwards: I think a league-average hitters is definitely possible if he Ks less than 20% of the time and takes the occasional walk. He might be able to carry a .330 BABIP and that should be good enough even if he only hits 10 or so homers per seasons.


Overbearing Padre: Do the Padres have too many holes to patch up to be WC contenders in 2020? They need bullpen help, starting help, and some more threats in the lineup.


Craig Edwards: I would imagine they will get that rotation help and that shold be enough to put them in wild card contention. The farm system is still so deep that they can fix any holes they have with an aggressive offseason. The bullpen should take care of itself if they can add a few arms to the rotation and take some of the pressure off their pitching prospects.


Ryan: The common narrative surrounding the Cardinals is how improved the baserunning and defense are. Last year they ranked 1st in the NL in BsR and 7th in Def. This year they’re at 3rd and 9th respectively.  Should we believe the metrics or the eye test/narrative?


Craig Edwards: I think some of the narrative has to do with the manager change last season. They were sixth in BsR in the first half last year and then first in the second half. This season is seen as a continuation from the second half of last season. Playing Kolten Wong everyday, a healthy DeJong, and Bader as everyday starting center fielder further solidified for the Cardinals. They took a step back this season at third base and playing Martinez in the outfield hurts, but I think the narrative is more based on the last few years of Matheny’s tenure and the general changes that have come rather than just comparing last year and this year. The team is good at defense and baserunning now and that’s not something that has been the case for the Cardinals in the recent past.


Tom C: Which starters appear to be most affected by the new baseball? It feels like many struggling starters are mentioning having difficulty making pitches with the new ball


Craig Edwards: It seems like pitches like the slider and maybe the split finger fastball have been affected but it probably varies from pitcher to pitcher. I think Syndergaard is the most prominent name mentioned, but it is hard to square the pitch-type stuff when so many balls are flying out of the yard due to less drag on the ball heading out.


Thank tink: The Mariners lucked out in finding Brody in a win-now mood.  How much did the Cano-Diaz/Kelenic-Dunn trade swing the fortune of the Mariners for 2021 and beyond?


Craig Edwards: It was a very good trade for the Mariners, but a lot of how much it benefits them will depend on what they do beyond Kelenic and Dunn. They’ve got a ton of money available to them, but only a fraction of that is what would’ve been owed to Cano. Kelenic and Dunn plus Cano money might push the Mariners over the top into contention at some point, but they still need a huge base for those moves to make a real difference.


Ron Effing Swanson: The second-best pitcher of this generation/last ~10 years is Scherzer, Verlander, or someone else (Greinke?)?


Craig Edwards: I think it is Scherzer. The Cy Youngs plus more consistency than Verlander probably put him over the top.


Riley: What can be expected of Oscar Mercado next year? Hitting in the meat part of a pretty good batting order is quite tempting.


Craig Edwards: I think being hopeful that he can repeat what he’s done so far (100 wRC+) is probably a good starting point. Realistically, he’s not going to be as good next season as he’s been this year. He doesn’t hit the ball all that hard so he needs those hits to drop to be really successful. A 2-3 win player seems like a pretty good outcome.


Hiura: After 266 MLB PA’s my K% still sits well above 30% – how worrisome is this continued trend from my AAA K% of 26.3% (over 246 PA)?


Craig Edwards: It is worrisome to the extent he’s probably going to be a high strikeout guy if he’s going to hit for this much power. He’ll be fine in the 25-30% range with average to above average power. If the league continues to find holes, he’s going to have to try and hit for more contact. Expecting the current stat line to continue isn’t realistic.


JupiterBrando: 7/175 for Cole seems really low. Corbin just got 6/140 (albeit with a bunch of deferred money), and Corbin was widely seen as a solid #2, not a top 10 pitcher in baseball. I’d be stunned if Cole doesn’t set a pitcher free agent record


Craig Edwards: It wouldn’t surprise me to see him get more, especially if the Yankees go in big on him, but I’m not going to assume that after the last few years.


Richie: Only way to prevent position players from pitching is to penalize it somehow.  Otherwise, it’s in the manager’s interest to not tire a real pitcher’s arm in a lost cause.


Craig Edwards: That’s why they are changing the rule next season to limit it.


Guest: Re your answer on break-pumping, from old man yelling at clouds: it’s BRAKE-pumping, for Pete’s sake!


SilverRings: Is Keibert Ruiz trade bait for the Dodgers? Sounds crazy to even think about losing such a polished young catcher but it also seems like the only way to extract full value from him/Smith is to ship one of them off


Craig Edwards: maybe, but they could just hold on to two young catchers for at least another year. Absent injury, the value isn’t likely to go down for a 21 year old.


Josh: Should we just pencil in Soto and Acuna to challenge for MVPs for the next decade or what? It’s getting kinda silly at this point


Craig Edwards: That would certainly be fun, though you never know who might pop up next.


JustCurious: Which NL East teams young position player core would you take? Based on under 27, good this year, and controllable for 2+ years it is (Braves: Acuna, Albies, Swanson. Nats: Soto, Turner, Robles. Phillies: Harper, Hoskins, Kingery. Mets: McNeil, Alonso, Conforto, Rosario, JD Davis).


Craig Edwards: That’s a fun question. I’d lean Braves because they have the best player. Phillies and Nats are right there together and Mets a step behind.


MVPs: Uh, why would we count out Bellinger for the next several years too? He’s not exactly old.


Craig Edwards: I don’t think that was the intent of the question. Acuna and Soto are going to be paired together because they were rookies last season. Bellinger can certainly contend for MVPs as well.


Jeff in T.O.: Wait, so Scherzer is only second best pitcher of the past decade? I’d say he’s a lot closer to Kershaw than to JV…


Craig Edwards: By WAR since 2010, Kershaw 59, Scherzer 54, Verlander 52, then Sale 44 and Greinke/Price at 40.


Acuna and Soto: Is this going to be a Trout/Harper deal where one of them hits a height above the other and sustains it and the other fluctuates?


Craig Edwards: Neither Acuna not Soto is Trout, so that makes it less likely. That Acuna gets more value on defense and baserunning and Soto with his bat should make for a very interesting comparison.


Nick: Suppose Ryu finishes with a 1.80 ERA and at least 170 innings.  What’s a reasonable contract: 3/75? 4/95? Would teams gamble on longer-term deals despite his injury history?


Craig Edwards: That’s really tough. He’s started around 40 games in the four seasons before this one. He’ll be 33 next season. It’s hard to come up with a comparison. An older Rich Hill got 3/48. Four and 95 seems really tough to get to. I’ll guess 3/65 but is tough to see how the market is going to take shape and if Strasburg is going to be in it.


Dodger Fan: what’s the true talent of jack flaherty? he’s pitching great in the second half, but a quick inspection reveals it’s mainly due to an unsustainably low BABIP and insanely high LOB%


Craig Edwards: Depends on what you are looking at. That low BABIP and high LOB% help get his ERA to 0.83 in the second half, but that obviously isn’t his true talent level. He’s got a 2.38 FIP, but hasn’t given up many homers. Projections right now say he’s a 3.5 WAR player. That seems reasonable, though he’s got the potential to do more if his homers stay close to league average along with his current walk and strikeout rates.


Jerek Deter: Why doesn’t Shane Bieber get more clout lately?  Does he have 80 control/command or what has he improved on?


Craig Edwards: I wrote about him in May.


Craig Edwards: Kiley put him at number 21 in the trade value rankings.


Hal Steinbrenner: Does how much I open my checkbook for Cole (or Stras or Ryu or whatever) depend on the likelihood an absurdly resilient high90s-low100 win position player team is foiled by a lack of SP depth? Do I stay cheap if we actually go far (say to, but not winning, WS)? Or will it be unrelated?


Craig Edwards: I would imagine that looking at all the things that broke right for the Yankees despite the injuries would have the team looking to improve at it’s weakest spot, and that’s starting pitching. If the Red Sox are more competitive and the Rays play well, the division isn’t going to be easy.


Nolan: 3/65 seems light for Ryu, if only because Arrieta got 3/75 coming off of a year in which he pitched only 168 innings with a 3.53/4.16 ERA/FIP.  But perhaps Arrieta is an outlier?  Or a cautionary note that Ryu *shouldn’t* get 3/75?


Craig Edwards: Arrieta was coming off a much better body of work including a Cy Young award and I think that’s why he got paid. His track record helped him land the deal in spite of a roughly average FA season.


Sale: Was that good news or bad news? Do I improve next year or does the shoulder and elbow combined really worry you?


Craig Edwards: Knowing he was already out for the year, it is good news, but this was the season where they were going to monitor him closely for a big push later in the year and then that never happened. No Tommy John is almost always better than Tommy John. Rest a while and hope that managing the innings plus more from the supporting cast can help him be a difference-make in October. It’s possible the Red Sox ended up wasting some potentially good Sale innings by having him back off that might have them in contention right now. Playoff baseball isn’t a given, even for a team as talented as the Red Sox.


JustCurious: Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to do this chat.


Craig Edwards: Thank you for all the good questions. That will do it for this week. Until next time.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

The allegations about the reporter aren’t pretty. If they’re true, I don’t think Verlander was being spiteful about a loss.

3 years ago
Reply to  bookbook

What are they?