Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 10/15/14

11:41
Dave Cameron: It’s potentially the final day of the ALCS. Let’s talk postseason, offseason, or just the seasons. The queue is now open.

12:01
Comment From Logan Davis
What can the Braves expect to get for Evan Gattis, should they choose to move him? Something similar to the Jaso package the A’s gave the Nats?

12:02
Dave Cameron: Gattis will command a lot more than Jaso. I’d imagine he’d cost a couple of solid prospects, or a decent big leaguer.

12:02
Comment From Logan Davis
So Friedman to LA probably means one of the expensive outfielders is heading out, right? Which one? Any guess as to where?

12:03
Dave Cameron: Ethier is basically untradeable, and Friedman seems a lot more likely to try and work through Puig’s personality to get his performance, so that leaves Crawford and Kemp. I’d guess that the Dodgers could clear more money by moving Kemp, especially given the league’s obsession with right-handed power at the moment, so if LAD is serious about cutting costs, he’s the one to go. If they’re okay running another $240 million payroll, maybe they just give Ethier away.

12:04
Comment From Matt K
Do you think Anthony Rendon or Bryce Harper will be ranked higher in next year’s trade value column?

12:04
Dave Cameron: Harper.

12:04
Comment From Guest
Dave! You’re amazing. But do you think baseball would expand to two more teams in the near future, giving each league an extra team and splitting the divisions into 4, making it so you have to win your division to get into the playoffs. I would find that more enjoyable than the wild card. What do you think?

12:05
Dave Cameron: Not any time soon, I would imagine. I think MLB likes the Wild Card format, and even if we had eight four team divisions, they’d modify the playoffs so that a wild card game could still occur.

12:05
Comment From Xolo
If the Royals win the World Series, does Moore take the Atlanta job? And if they don’t?

12:05
Dave Cameron: I don’t see any way he takes it either way.

12:05
Comment From Logan Davis
Which “ace” would you sign: Scherzer, Shields, or Lester?

12:06
Dave Cameron: Depends entirely on the cost. Scherzer is the best of the three, but he’s not $50 million better than Lester.

12:06
Comment From Xolo
How much of a difference can Friedman make on a team that won 92 and 94 games the past two years?

12:06
Dave Cameron: He can help them win on a lower payroll, which is likely why he was hired.

12:07
Dave Cameron: We can talk all we want about the Dodgers have unlimited resources, but if you offer a billionaire a chance to make the same amount of money for 75% of the cost, he’s going to take it.

12:07
Comment From Pale Hose
Dave – What is the contract status of a player who retired with money still on the table and later attempts to comeback? There has to be something stopping Lackey from retiring and pulling a Clemens-like mid-year comeback as a free agent. Right?

12:08
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I’m guessing that players who retire while under team control aren’t free agents if they unretire.

12:08
Comment From Logan Davis
What’s the Victor Martinez contract going to look like?

12:08
Dave Cameron: I’ll guess 4/80, and it turns out to be a disaster.

12:08
Comment From Guest
Which Yankees free agent do you think has the best chance of being resigned by NY, Headley, McCarthy or Robertson (hopefully Headley)?

12:08
Dave Cameron: Probably Robertson.

12:08
Comment From harmony
Could Seattle’s Brad Miller hit well enough to be a modern-day designated hitter, leaving the shortstop chores to Chris Taylor? The beauty of Miller at DH is that he might be versatile enough to occasionally swap roles with Robinson Cano or Kyle Seager to give the heavy hitters a break from playing in the field.

12:09
Dave Cameron: He projects as roughly a league average hitter, so that wouldn’t make him a very useful DH. My guess is the Mariners trade him instead.

12:09
Comment From Logan Davis
Which do you prefer, fall or spring?

12:09
Dave Cameron: In North Carolina, they’re pretty close to the same, though Spring lasts longer.

12:10
Comment From Eminor3rd
What do you see James Shields getting in FA? I’ve been thinking 5/100, but I saw somewhere that some writer guessed like 4/64 or something, so I wondered if I’m just way off.

12:11
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I don’t think he gets $100M. I’d guess 8/85 or something in that range.

12:11
Comment From Matt
Is having a bunch of mediocre hitters that are good defenders the new market inefficiency? Defense provides more consistency than offense and it also only becomes more valuable with bad pitching.

12:12
Dave Cameron: It’s been a market inefficiency for a while, but I think it’s lessening. Teams are paying more and more for defense — see J.J. Hardy’s recent deal — and athletic young players remain highly coveted. It’s not like the Royals were able to put this team together overnight.

12:13
Comment From JKC
What effect will the Royals’ postseason success have on the way GMs or scouts evaluate their teams going forward?

12:14
Dave Cameron: Minimal if any. The multiple-center-fielders trend has been a thing for a while now, and teams might be more accepting of that strategy going forward, but overall, the Royals aren’t doing anything too revolutionary here.

12:14
Comment From AA
Dark times ahead for the Rays?

12:14
Dave Cameron: Why would there be? Andrew Friedman wasn’t the only smart guy in Tampa.

12:15
Comment From Liberty
Really enjoyed reading the Jorge Mateo article, everything was direct and to the point, any chance we’ll have more from stuff that author?

12:15
Dave Cameron: We have another post by Zeke Fine going up today.

12:16
Comment From mtsw
Ryan Howard plus $20-$25M for Ubaldo Jimenez. Who says no? Could be the MLB version of the Gilbert Arenas/Rashard Lewis atrocious contract swap. Howard might actually have value in pull-lefty-friendly OPACY as a DH assuming O’s don’t retain Cruz.

12:16
Dave Cameron: Ryan Howard is a replacement level player. He’s worth $0. No one will take any significant part of that contract.

12:17
Comment From EinDC
Has anyone else tried to pry Friedman free of Tampa prior to LA?

12:17
Dave Cameron: The Angels and Astros both tried and failed.

12:18
Comment From Matt
Liked your piece today. Keith Law’s discussed using a similar strategy in regards to acclimating young pitchers into MLB – having them pitch long relief. It seems like a viable strategy to just have two young pitchers with inning restrictions tandem start as your ‘coupled’ 5th starter. It’s not like the 7th pitcher in the bullpen gets much work besides mop up duty anyway. Thoughts?

12:19
Dave Cameron: Baseball will eventually head this direction, with more pitchers throwing fewer innings at a time. We’ve already moved away from the single pitcher/complete game model. The problem is that dramatic change is difficult, because you can’t just do it at the big league level, and you have to be able to integrate other team’s players into your system. So, it will take time, and the league will have to move that direction as a whole, rather than one team doing it by themselves.

12:20
Comment From Guest
Not to be negative, but I’m finding it harder and harder to enjoy the post season. While I realize randomness is inextricably part of all sports and any baseball playoff system can be criticized as a crap shoot, I’m starting to feel that MLB has tipped the scale too far by adding the extra wild card. I now understand why my grandfather hated a four team playoff. Today, all you need is 88 wins and a dream. Am I alone in this? Am I really this old?

12:20
Dave Cameron: This is true of basically every tournament in sports. If you crown your champion with a postseason tournament, you’re asking for randomness.

12:20
Comment From Guest
Do you think the differences in front offices is becoming nominal? Knowledge and data are becoming more widespread and there is a massive supply of people that wanting to work in baseball provides a ton of intelligent people in the industry. Will there always be a Beane or Friedman that is significantly “ahead of the curve”?

12:21
Dave Cameron: The difference now isn’t in the collection of the data, but how it is implemented.

12:21
Dave Cameron: There’s still a pretty big difference in how data gets turned into decision making.

12:21
Comment From The Big Dipper
Where does Hanley end up?

12:22
Dave Cameron: I could see him in New York. Yankees aren’t afraid of bad-defense shortstops, and could even move him to third if need be.

12:22
Comment From Tom
I like the idea of piggybacking Shields today. What would the Royals’ plan be for Games 5-7 if for some reason it backfired and the Royals lost? Ventura-Duffy-Guthrie? Ventura-Duffy-Shields if Shields doesn’t exhaust that many pitches?

12:22
Dave Cameron: Ventura, Duffy/bullpen game, Shields/Vargas tandem.

12:23
Comment From Dave Camerons Puppy
I know there is a lot of evidence that over the season, runs are runs and it doesn’t matter how you score them. But it really seems that in small game samples, having players with contact skills rather than those that rely on HRs seems to be an advantage.

12:23
Dave Cameron: There’s zero evidence this is true.

12:24
Comment From Evan
Who of the following are still in St. Louis when the season opens next spring: Matheny, Jay, Bourjos, Taveras, Grichuk?

12:24
Dave Cameron: I’d guess all but Bourjos.

12:25
Comment From Tom
Should we anticipate offseason friction between the Cardinals’ front office and managing staff regarding differing opinions of Oscar Taveras?

12:25
Dave Cameron: Who says there is a difference of opinion?

12:25
Comment From Greg
What do you think the odds are that Headley signs with Detroit and Castellanos is jettisoned to the OF?

12:25
Dave Cameron: Zero.

12:26
Comment From Brick
Who pays Vmart?

12:26
Dave Cameron: I’d imagine the Mariners are going to make a run at him, for one.

12:27
Comment From Guest
Why is Ethier untradable? Do you think he’d be a good fit for a team like St. Louis that would want an experienced bat in their OF?

12:27
Dave Cameron: He’s bad and expensive. The Cardinals don’t need “an experienced bat”.

12:27
Comment From The Riddler
Where would you put two expansion teams in your ideal world? And where *will* they put two expansion teams, assuming your ideal world is more fun than market size numbers?

12:28
Dave Cameron: Brooklyn is the easy one, as the NY market could easily support a third team. Charlotte or Raleigh would be worth considering, given the gap in baseball teams between DC and Atlanta.

12:28
Comment From Seattle Slough
How did Friedman get to LA without compensation? It seems a bit odd that he could resign from Tampa, then get a new contract with a competing team in the next couple of days. Couldn’t Tampa have traded him to LA for some prospects, ala Epstein?

12:28
Dave Cameron: He wasn’t under contract with TB.

12:29
Comment From Guest
Puig for Lucroy, who says no? Sam Miller joked about it on Effectively Wild today, but it isn’t a terrible trade. 3 years of Lucroy for 4 years of Puig.

12:29
Dave Cameron: Doubt the Brewers would do it. Can you see Puig going over well in Milwaukee?

12:29
Comment From Jay
How should DD improve the O’s during the offseason assuming no significant bump in payroll?

12:29
Dave Cameron: They need better starting pitchers.

12:30
Comment From Serious question
I’m thinking about moving for work. North Carolina is an option. Would you recommend it?

12:31
Dave Cameron: Depends on what part and how much you hate humidity. The Asheville/Triangle areas are great. I can’t imagine living in Charlotte again. Winston-Salem is nice, but it’s not very convenient for frequent travelers.

12:32
Comment From Eric
I’d guess 8/85 or something in that range. — I’m assuming that’s a typo, right? No way Shields gets 8 years.

12:32
Dave Cameron: Right, that should have been 5/85.

12:32
Comment From Guest
Analytically speaking, is there something that we are all learning from the Royals success? I.e. new thoughts on outfield defense in a huge outfield, or contact-oriented hitting in a strikeout-prone era, or … ? Things we didn’t think of going into the season that now needs more research?

12:34
Dave Cameron: The funny thing about the Royals is that obviously they’re seen as super anti-sabermetrics and we’ve bashed a lot of their moves, but their position players — average hitters with great defense — are exactly the kind of players we’ve been saying are underrated for the last few years. I don’t know that they’re doing anything new, really. They’re proving that defense matters.

12:35
Comment From mtsw
Given persistent belief of MLB front offices that higher scoring leads to higher ratings and attendance, do you expect any teams to modify ballpark dimensions to compensate for lower run scoring?

12:35
Dave Cameron: I’m not sure I agree with your initial assumption.

12:35
Comment From CPT
If the motivation behind the expanded (expanding?) strike zone is for baseball to distance itself from the steroid era, why did they wait until ~2009 to start? Also, when will we start to see a normal zone again?

12:36
Dave Cameron: PITCHF/x wasn’t installed until 2007. The changes track the upgrade in technologically almost perfectly.

12:36
Comment From Suzanne
Thoughts on how Danny Duffy is (not) being used this postseason?

12:36
Dave Cameron: He threw eight terrible innings in September. Odds are decent that the Royals know something about his health.

12:37
Comment From Bret
I’ve seen estimates for Melky Cabrera in free agency all over the place. Dan suggested something like 2-years, $30-$35M, the guys at MLBTR said 5-years/$66M and the Toronto Star predicted something like 3-years, $40M. Where do you stand?

12:38
Dave Cameron: I’ll guess somewhere between 2-3 years and less than $15M apiece.

12:39
Comment From mtsw
(Ubaldo/Howard trade premised on idea that Jimenez is also a player with almost no value and represents a sunk cost contract.)

12:39
Dave Cameron: Ubaldo had a bad year, but he’s nowhere near Ryan Howard status.

12:39
Dave Cameron: Plenty of teams willing to bet real money on good arms who have bad seasons.

12:40
Comment From Breezy
After weeks of bashing defensive WAR, everyone is now stressing defense importance because of the teams who made it through. They can’t have both. Couldn’t someone argue there just as much chance that WAR underrates defense as it overrates defense?

12:41
Dave Cameron: Yep. I’ve made that argument, but people’s resistance to the defensive component in WAR is more about challenging their predispositions than it is about logical critiques of the model.

12:42
Comment From mtsw
Assume coupled starters become a thing and teams start running an 8-man 4×2 rotation, with each pitcher seeing the opposing lineup twice before a reliever is brought in. Would the optimal strategy to pair your two strongest pitchers on the same day, or pair the strongest with the weakest, or some other variant?

12:42
Dave Cameron: Probably want to split them by handedness and type. So maybe start a high velocity right-hander and then come in with a change-up specialist lefty.

12:42
Comment From Eric
Between Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, which would you keep if you had to trade one? Who looks better long term?

12:43
Dave Cameron: I like Miller more, but it’s pretty well established that I like Brad Miller more than just about everyone else.

12:43
Comment From David
Lots (most? all?) of clubs use tandem starters in the low minors. FA pitchers who want the big bucks will balk, but there’s no reason why a club couldn’t develop all of their young prospects with the expectation of tandem starts in the show.

12:43
Dave Cameron: Lots of clubs use tandem starters in A-ball. Very few use them at higher levels.

12:44
Comment From Bertrum
Is Grichuk playing Taveras into the 4th OF next year too? Or will Matheny give in?

12:44
Dave Cameron: Matheny needing to “give in” implies he’s doing something wrong. There’s also the possibility that Oscar Taveras just isn’t very good right now.

12:45
Comment From Eric
Which team that was below .500 this year is most likely to make the playoffs next year?

12:45
Dave Cameron: Boston.

12:46
Comment From Jon
If Kemp is the potential one to be traded – since his value is higher now than it was last offseason, could you see the Mariners making a serious run at him in a package that involves Miller? Considering of course that Hanley is leaving LA. Would it make sense for both teams?

12:46
Dave Cameron: I wouldn’t be surprised if that was something Friedman tried to get done. It would be a terrible idea for Seattle.

12:47
Comment From Beau
Who would be the most likely guy to next take a “retirement tour”, like Jeter and Rivera did?

12:47
Dave Cameron: David Ortiz.

12:48
Comment From CPT
What is it about Wade Davis or his stuff that makes him so much more valuable as a reliever than as a starter? Obviously, starters will play up when pitching in relief, but what makes certain cases like Davis such success stories?

12:49
Dave Cameron: Power pitchers generally tend to get more of a boost in relief than command guys.

12:49
Comment From Ed
Hey! What’s wrong with Charlotte? It’s awesome here, and we have a brand new AAA baseball stadium.

12:50
Dave Cameron: The traffic/sprawl is horrendous. There’s no real local culture, since no one is actually from Charlotte, so it’s just a bunch of people who moved there for work/cheap land. There’s no interesting history or architecture. They call downtown “uptown” just to be different.

12:51
Comment From Prich
If the Royals let Butler go, wouldn’t the cleared money of his and Shields contracts give them the money to resign Shields? Or is it years 4/5 of the 5/85 they’d be worried about?

12:51
Dave Cameron: You can’t just allocate all of Butler’s salary to Shields and call it a day. They have to pay the new DH something, and they have a ton of arbitration raises coming.

12:52
Comment From Oren
Do you see Andrew Friedman trying to move some of the expensive but still productive Dodgers – like Adrian Gonzalez – so that he can build more of “his own team” over the next few years?

12:52
Dave Cameron: If Kemp would agree to move to 1B, moving Gonzalez and taking away Kemp’s OF glove might be the best move for the team. But Kemp probably doesn’t go along with that.

12:53
Comment From Beau
Why is it that strikeouts are not necessarily bad for hitters, but still a great thing for pitchers? I understand that hitters have more control over their BABIP (and so a high K guy can still have a good AVG and OBP), but wouldn’t that also translate to higher BABIPs across the league?

12:54
Dave Cameron: Strikeouts are positively correlated for big league hitters, as guys who strike out and don’t hit for power don’t make the majors, generally. For pitchers, however, the same is not true; getting strikeouts does not equal giving up more home runs. So strikeouts are bad for hitters in a vacuum, but they’re the byproduct of an approach that is more good than bad. Pitchers can get strikeouts without making that same tradeoff.

12:54
Dave Cameron: “positively correlated with power”, that should say.

12:54
Comment From Robert
What do you see Seattle doing this offseason?

12:55
Dave Cameron: 1B/DHs, as usual.

12:56
Comment From Nik
People aren’t arguing the value of defense as part of WAR, simply the fact that the current defensive metrics leave a lot to be desired.

12:57
Dave Cameron: And their sole suggestion based on that belief is always to make defense a smaller part of the WAR calculation. His point was that no one ever uses that exact same argument to argue that maybe WAR should be a bigger part of the WAR calculation, because people don’t want to accept that defense matters more than they’ve believed previously.

12:58
Comment From Dylan
Speaking of defensive WAR, is Adam Jones a perfect example of the problems with it? Scouts have always loved his defense and UZR didn’t buy it. Now he is posting a 10.2 Def rating, his first positive mark since 2008. He is either very good or bad.

12:58
Dave Cameron: Or defensive performance fluctuates from season to season, just like everything else in baseball.

12:59
Comment From David
My point on tandem starters in the minors is not that a switch could flip tomorrow. It can’t. But a team using tandem starters in A-ball this year could keep the same process for those A-ball pitchers as they move up the ladder. They just have to make an organizational commitment to doing so.

1:00
Dave Cameron: But you’re not going to be able to build an entire pitching staff out of home grown players. Guys get hurt, and you need the flexibility to make trades or free agent signings to supplement the roster. If your system is so radically different from the rest of the league, acquiring outsiders becomes more difficult.

1:00
Comment From Guest
Can teams sign free agents right now, or is it just frowned upon while the playoffs are still going on?

1:00
Dave Cameron: Free agency doesn’t begin until five days after the World Series ends.

1:00
Comment From Brad
46 mins into chat and no questions on mookie betts.

1:01
Dave Cameron: There are lots of them in the queue. I’ve just skipped them all.

1:01
Comment From Tom
David Ortiz … HOFer?

1:01
Dave Cameron: Not for me.

1:02
Comment From Grey
Charlotte sounds a lot like Anaheim.

1:02
Dave Cameron: It’s more like Atlanta, just without the peaches.

1:03
Comment From mtsw
Is Brooklyn a serious candidate for an expansion team. Wouldn’t Mets/Yankees strenuously object to any new teams in their territory? As a Brooklyn resident, I would love it, but can’t imagine it actually happening.

1:03
Dave Cameron: Yes, the market rights deals that current team owners have are the biggest obstacle against expansion. I agree that the Mets and Yankees would fight tooth and nail against a team in Brooklyn.

1:04
Comment From john
Apple picking venues in NC? I live in wilmington, but would drive ~2 hours. Any thoughts?

1:04
Dave Cameron: The wife and I did this last weekend, actually. You want to go to Hendersonville, about a half hour south of Asheville. There are like 100 u-pick apple orchards there. We went to Sky Top, which is probably the busiest/most popular.

1:05
Comment From Sean
Why is there a 0.7 WAR difference between 2013 and 2014 for James Shields? 1 IP difference (228 – 227) and only a difference in 0.12 FIP (3.59 – 3.47).

1:06
Dave Cameron: Offensive environment declined again, so an equal FIP is less valuable in 2014 than in 2013.

1:07
Comment From Bill
Is Melky Cabrera a good match for Seattle? Different position but considering their holes…better or worse than VMart given what they need to pay?

1:07
Dave Cameron: If report is true that ownership won’t consider PED players, then it’s a non-starter.

1:07
Comment From FipStick
you advised me to go to Ashville when I visit the more Northern Carolina… Gging to stay there one night…any specific suggestions for the 1 day/night trip?

1:08
Dave Cameron: Have a meal at Curate. White Duck Taco is a fun/cheap lunch spot, and pretty delicious. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.

1:09
Comment From David
Agreed. You can’t build an entire pitching staff out of home grown players. But you also don’t have to use tandem starters for all five starting spots. Maybe you just use it for your 4th/5th spots to begin with. Only you shuffle that so it’s 1/3/5 full starter and 2/4 tandem, and you almost never have to worry about blowing out your bullpen. Also, MLB is full of marginal starters and long relievers who COULD be signed as veteran tandem-ready pitchers.

1:10
Dave Cameron: Okay, yeah, as a way to fill one spot and keep a couple of kids innings totals down, yeah, I could see that sooner than later. A whole team or rotation will take longer, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Cubs or Astros or someone used a tandem starter system to replace a traditional #5 starter.

1:11
Comment From BusterPujols
asheville: go to the Blackbird. awesome drinks and awsome food.

1:11
Dave Cameron: I haven’t been and don’t drink, but I have heard good things. Really, eat anywhere in Asheville. It’s all great.

1:12
Dave Cameron: Alright, off to get some lunch and do some work.

1:12
Dave Cameron: Thanks for hanging out today.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Avattoir
Member
Avattoir

Mister Cameron:

Does team morale matter in sports? Is it measurable?

I’m far from alone in thinking of Bruce Bochy as much the epitome of the old-timey manager type of pop fiction, like portrayed by Wilfred Brimley in The Natural, Vincent Gardenia in Bang The Drum Slowly, Jason Robards in All The President’s Men, Ed Asner in Lou Grant, etc. But, as unsupported (to say the least) as Bochy’s reliance on recency is (If it wasn’t already obvious, he talks about it all the time.), Bochy does appear to draw out a lot of player loyalty & commitment to the group effort.

As hackneyed and antithetical as is the reasoning underlying Bochy’s line-up choices & also his in-game strategies, to the tenets of FanGraphs & the realities in Tango’s Book, is there a way to adjust all that negative wave action to account for the possibility that it might be being substantially offset, if not overtaken, by affects from individual and team morale?

Costanza
Guest
Costanza

The only people whom I see discussing morale are sportswriters. Many players have said that winning causes chemistry.

It’s possible there’s a signal in there, of course, but right now it’s clearly buried by the noise.

It seems like the kind of situation where you’d almost have to do a case-controlled double-blind study (obviously impossible in MLB — you can’t clone players!). Even then, you’d have so much noise due to the variability of the opponents’ level of play that I can’t see how you could extract the information you’re looking for.

Maybe if we had *perfect* projections, we could compare actual to predicted… but (due to variability in human performance) we will never have a projection that accurate.

I’ve seen some analyists talk about using large numbers of player-year data for a manager to figure this out, but it’s been inconclusive.

And I’m OK with this — it gives the old sportswriters more to talk about, as they fade off into irrelevance.