Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 12/21/16

12:02
Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday, everyone. This is my final chat of 2016, as I’m traveling back east for Christmas, so let’s have a fun send off to a pretty lousy year.

12:03
Dave Cameron: But a lousy year that gave us a fun postseason, at least.

12:03
Brendon: How do player options work? Can a minor league player only be sent up and down so many times?

12:04
Dave Cameron: They really should just call them option years. A player can be optioned within a season as many times as the team wants, but they can only be optioned to the minors, without their consent, in three different years. There’s an exception that can get you a fourth option year, but it’s fairly rare.

12:04
Erik: What is the point of giving up any assets at all for Clay Bucholz? Does this indicate the Phillies don’t trust Thompson/Eflin/Appel? For a team at their stage of a rebuild, shouldn’t they be giving innings to prospects on the cusp on the big leagues, even if those prospects struggle?

12:06
Dave Cameron: MLB has mad it more difficult to turn current dollars into future value, so now large revenue teams like PHI can do that by taking on contracts that other teams don’t want, then hoping their value goes up and trading them for prospects later. If Buchholz has a decent half season in Philly, he’ll be traded to a contender in July, and the team will either have spent $7 million to acquire whatever prospects they can get for Buchholz then, or they can pay down the remainder of his contract and buy even better prospects for $10 million or whatever.

12:07
Dave Cameron: There’s no real value in rushing guys to the big leagues that aren’t ready.

12:07
Otis Redding: Are you a Keon Broxton fan? Can he cut down on his K%, and improve his .AVG?

12:07
Dave Cameron: Improving a K% is difficult, but I like Broxton even with the whiffs. He’s a legit center fielder with some power, so even with the strikeouts, there’s a chance for him to be a poor man’s Carlos Gomez.

12:08
Vicente: What kind of prospects Pirates have to offer to get Quintana?

12:08
Dave Cameron: Would imagine Chicago would want some kind of package built around two of Meadows, Bell, or Glasnow, with some other stuff involved.

12:08
Tom: Do the Indians make a trade or sign a bat? Napoli was strong through August but fell apart. It seems he took pressure off of Santana in the line-up. Or do they just hope for the best with what they have?

12:08
Dave Cameron: Have to think they’ll end up with one of the free agent RH 1B/DH types.

12:09
Elf on his lunch break: Hi Dave. I liked your article questioning whether or not the Astros really need Jose Quintana. I had a question about your conclusion that they’d be better off trying to find an every day left fielder. Where do you think they could find one? There don’t seem to be that many ‘good’ free agent left fielders on the market, so would they try to trade, or hope that their current left fielders work out until one of their minor league prospects (Derek Fisher, perhaps) gets called up?

12:09
Dave Cameron: The piece was running long so I didn’t get into speculation mode, but I had a few hundred words ready to go on why they should be the team to sign Jose Bautista. You can hide the arm problem in LF, and he’s still decent enough out there to play the field more than Beltran, though those two could share LF/DH to keep both healthy.

12:10
J: How much do you consider guys like Chapman and Jansen to be worth per year?

12:10
Dave Cameron: Right around where they got paid. They basically got slightly-above-average-regular contracts, which values them at +2 to +2.5 WAR.

12:11
Dave Cameron: When healthy, that’s what they’re worth, plus they have a ton of postseason value.

12:11
Wes: Who ends up playing 3B for the Red Sox? Does Jantzen Witte have a chance?

12:12
Dave Cameron: I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a trade for a RH guy to push Sandoval or potentially platoon with Moreland if Pablo takes the job and runs with it.

12:12
Mike: Is DeLeon and Calhoun enough for the Dodgers to get Dozier in a trade?

12:12
Dave Cameron: If I was the Twins, I would have said yes to that already.

12:13
Lurch: In last night’s chat, Paul said that he couldn’t see how you could pick the Rays to finish among the top three teams in their division, yet Fangraphs’ Steamer-based projections have the Rays finishing at 82-20, tied for third in the AL East. What am I missing? The Rays seem to have a pretty legitimate chance at a wildcard, don’t they?

12:13
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I think the Rays are basically just as good as the Blue Jays at this point.

12:13
Dave Cameron: I’d go BOS-gap-NYY-gap-TOR/TB/BAL as my AL East rankings at the moment.

12:13
Jay: Edwin Diaz and Dan Vogelbach for Gio Gonzalez. Who says no?

12:14
Dave Cameron: The Mariners wouldn’t even consider it.

12:14
baba booey to you all: Do you subscribe to the “prospects are overrated” view? In general, I don’t, but I’m in intrigued by the idea. Those big trades look great from ChiSox view, but can be justified by RedSox and Nats if you feel that unproven prospects are worth less than proven major leaguer. It certainly seems to be Dombrowski’s view, but I don’t think Rizzo buys into that.

12:15
Dave Cameron: I think the “prospects are overrated” mantra is based on a lack of willingness to admit that all players, including “proven big leaguers”, have a lot of risk when it comes to future performance.

12:15
Dave Cameron: The idea that Chris Sale is risk free is insane.

12:15
Monsignor Martinez: Do you think that there will be at least one close division race in 2017?

12:16
Dave Cameron: Yep. It won’t take more than a significant injury or two to change the course of what the forecasts currently see.

12:16
Toki: Thoughts on Tyson Ross’ destination? Sounds like 20 teams or so have at least checked in on him. What are your top 3 suitors for his services.

12:18
Dave Cameron: Cubs, Yankees, Royals. The Cubs make the most sense if he wants to win, the Royals could give him a lot of defensive support, and the Yankees have money to throw around.

12:18
Zach: Would you be worried about Quintana in Yankee Stadium? Fly ball pitchers are scary there, but he’s been fine with homers allowed in US Cellular, which is probably just as bad.

12:18
Dave Cameron: He’s not really a fly ball pitcher.

12:18
Pearced: The Mets are rumoured to be looking for a CFer. Couldn’t they just go with Conforto/Lagares and dump Bruce for free?

12:18
Dave Cameron: Conforto isn’t a CF.

12:19
PieTraynee: What do you make of the news that the Pirate’s have targeted Quintana? What sort of package do you think they should be willing to part with?

12:19
Dave Cameron: I would imagine it was more of a “hey, what’s the price these days” phone call.

12:19
Dan: If the Astros are firm on not trading the package of Musgrove, Martes, and Tucker what would a reasonable alternative package?

12:20
Dave Cameron: Take Musgrove out of the deal and I think it’s not far off. Martes, Tucker, and some stuff is a good package.

12:20
Tom: Does Fangraphs have any Kickstarter-type donation opportunities? I’m sure some readers would pay up to have a drink with Eno or discuss the fragility of life with Carson.

12:20
Dave Cameron: Stay tuned!

12:20
Kiner’s Disembodied Hands: Are the Sox shopping Rodon? If so, would the Pirates be better served trying to strike a deal for him instead of giving up a haul for Quintana?

12:21
Dave Cameron: They aren’t, and Rodon isn’t really all that great.

12:21
Dave Cameron: He’s not bad, obviously, but he’s more of a good pitcher than a great one .

12:21
Tom: If you could work for a current front office, which would you choose and why?

12:21
Dave Cameron: The Bend Elks. Because my wife signed a three year contract with the hospital when we moved here, so I’m not going anywhere any time soon.

12:22
Outta my way, Gyorkass: Say that Mike Trout suffers some freakish injury that saps his effectiveness to a point where he is able to complete the requisite ten years of service time to reach the HOF, but he plays exactly at replacement level from now until he hits that 10 year threshold, upon which he retires. Does he make the Hall of Fame?

12:22
Dave Cameron: I would vote for him.

12:22
Dave Cameron: But voters tend to like counting stats, and he wouldn’t have those.

12:23
Derek: If Strasburg’s 2016 proceeded exactly as it did – Cy Young caliber through the ASB, injury troubles for the remainder of the season, resuming throwing but not enough time to rehab fully before the Nats got eliminated – but did not sign his extension, what do you think he would have gotten on the free agent market?

12:23
Dave Cameron: Probably high AAV at fewer years. Maybe 3/$110M? 4/$130M?

12:24
Johnny5Alive: Lots of “rumors” about Mets and CF probably designed to just get folks to click on their links. While I agree they could use a true centerfielder, Sandy has historically shown that he doesnt put a high value on defense. We should fully expect grandy to be CF next season, no?

12:24
Dave Cameron: No, I think they’ll come to their senses and realize this OF alignment doesn’t work.

12:24
matt: With 2016 in the books, do you feel Alex Reyes or Julio Urias will have the better career?

12:25
Dave Cameron: Urias, but let’s be honest, it’s just whichever one stays healthier, and no one knows that.

12:26
Seven Costanza: Is it easier to run a high BABIP now than in the past? The all-time BABIP leaderboards are littered with current and post-2000 players. Or is it more of a “these guys haven’t had their decline phase” issue, as Szymborksi thought on Monday.

12:26
Dave Cameron: It’s probably a little of both, but I would bet today’s players hit the ball harder than players used to. Strength training and athleticism are clearly trending upwards over history, and I doubt there were any Giancarlo Stantons back in the 50s.

12:27
Hello: What kind of trade value does JDM have? What sort of contract do you see him signing next year?

12:27
Dave Cameron: He’s got some, but it’s one year of a good-not-great player, so it’s limited. Maybe he’s worth a $20 million prospect, if you think you can recoup some of that value from making him a QO next winter? That’s a back-end top 100 guy.

12:27
Chone: Are we seeing the slow demise of Jose Abreu?

12:28
Dave Cameron: Given that he was a monster in the second half of the year, I’d guess not.

12:28
Jose : Do you have a sense for how wide-ranging the player valuations systems and processes are across the league? Is that the most closely-held information among teams?

12:29
Dave Cameron: I think the valuation range has narrowed a lot, now that you don’t have teams just making things up anymore. Everyone has their own twists, but for the most part, everyone is kind of playing in the same lane now.

12:29
Electric: Can you run down the current market values of the various types of prospects in the game – e.g. 55+FV hitters, 45-50 FV pitchers, etc.?

12:30
Dave Cameron: We’ll have some pretty cool news on that next month.

12:30
Electric: What is the adjustment for high-leverage innings that should be given to reliever WARs?

12:30
Dave Cameron: Relievers already get credit for pitching high leverage innings in WAR.

12:30
Zonk: What sluggery FA do you think will end up most disappointed by their final contract? EE, Napoli, Trumbo, Joey Bats all available, and it doesn’t seem like there are that many slots for them.

12:31
Dave Cameron: Would imagine Bautista’s final contract will be a fraction of the 6/$150M he wanted in the spring.

12:31
Dave Cameron: Think 3/$50m might be more like it now.

12:31
Drew: When a player is traded for cash consideration, how much money is usually sent?

12:31
Dave Cameron: I think the standard is $50K

12:32
Dave Cameron: It could be $25K though.

12:32
Dave Cameron: It’s something like that.

12:32
Andrew: Were you ever into baseball cards?

12:33
Dave Cameron: That’s how I got into baseball. My parents would take me to their auto repair shop after school, and since it was boring, I would walk down the street to the 7-11 and buy a pack of baseball cards, then memorize the numbers.

12:33
Boo Radley: Do you see the current CBA causing long-term trouble between the Union and MLB? Seems the PU achieved their short term goals, but is there any way that owners don’t double down next time for a hard salary cap?

12:34
Dave Cameron: The idea that just because the PA agreed to a hard cap on international spending means that they now have to agree to a hard cap anywhere else is weird. It’s not like it was some big dam holding back an unrelenting river, and now that they’ve agreed to one hard cap, it’s hard caps everywhere.

12:34
Zonk: Does money you send out to facilitate a trade count against your salary amount for luxury tax purposes under the new CBA?I assume money for released players counts.

12:34
Dave Cameron: Yes, money you’re still paying for players not on your roster counts against you.

12:36
striker: Quintana and Jones for Glasnow, Meadows, Bell and Keller

12:36
Dave Cameron: Probably too rich for PIT, but interesting.

12:36
Dave Cameron: Jones is worth a lot, so maybe that’s not so far off.

12:36
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: If you could make it so that you never had to read another question about a specific player, what player would it be?

12:37
Dave Cameron: Jack Morris.

12:37
Snarfle: Matz is too good for two years of Blackmon, right? Blackmon fixes the Mets alignment, but 2017 value basically stays the same. Maybe Gsellman+?

12:37
Dave Cameron: Yeah, no way you give up Matz for Blackmon.

12:38
Mike: Jose Bautista to Boston 2/$40. Plays LF, RF, DH and maybe Butterfield can teach him a little 1B. Plenty of at bats, big bat for Sox, who says no?

12:38
Dave Cameron: Red Sox don’t really need an OF.

12:38
leprekhan: It has been said that you have been rather critical of the Braves’ rebuilding strategy and some of the moves they have made thus far towards that end? Do you think that is a fair assessment and if you were the Braves’ front office right now…in what direction would you go?

12:39
Dave Cameron: I would say I’m more skeptical of some of the pieces they’ve chosen to rebuild around than of the strategy in general. The Kemp/Markakis acquisitions weren’t my cup of tea, and I’m not as high on guys like Newcomb as they are.

12:40
Jason: How is it possible that teams are just yawning at Encarnacion?

12:40
Dave Cameron: 34 year old pull heavy DH? There’s real risk here.

12:40
Josh: Were you surprised by the non tender of tyson ross? I know he had a major injury, but he was a 4.5 win player in 2015.

12:41
Dave Cameron: I’m sure the Padres shopped him before they cut him. If no one else wanted to take him at $9M, then that probably says something about how teams view his medicals.

12:41
Brian: What do you think the Orioles should do? O’s fans see a cliff coming after 2018. Should they push in and try to strike gold these next two years or try to sell and get better down the road? The follow-up question, assuming you think they should sell: what is a real-world example of a team blowing up a team that, at the time, was still good (playoffs, 89 wins last season)? Seems like GMs/owners would not like to do that at all.

12:42
Dave Cameron: Yeah, it’s very hard to sell a rebuild coming off a winning season. I would imagine the Orioles will evaluate their chances in July, and if they aren’t in it then, they’ll be big sellers. The question will be if they can get Machado to sign an extension. If they can’t, and they think he’s going to leave, then you almost have to rebuild.

12:43
Dave Cameron: Because you can’t just let him walk.

12:43
Thomas: At least some part of RedSox trading Buchholz was payroll flexibility to be opportunistic in the free agent market, right? Related note: what kind of deal do you think EE lands?

12:44
Dave Cameron: It was about getting under the luxury tax. I would guess Encarnacion ends up somewhere we’re not expecting; maybe Texas?

12:44
Catfish Carl: The Cubs have ridden to victory on a loaded farm system that paid off. Can you think of any examples of teams with equally highly-regarded prospects not panning out en masse?

12:45
Dave Cameron: Yes, they drafted Bryant and Baez with top picks, but mostly, that’s just not a true statement. They got Rizzo/Fowler/Russell/Arrieta/Hendricks in trades, signed Zobrist/Lester/Lackey as free agents.

12:46
Dave Cameron: The idea that the Cubs tanked their way to a great team is an easy but incorrect narrative.

12:47
Dave Cameron: Obviously getting Bryant helped a lot, but had the Astros made a better call, they could have ended up with Mark Appel instead. And they still would have been good, just maybe not best-team-in-baseball good.

12:48
Von Schloss: I don’t think it is likely at all but could you see the Giants making a run at Harper when he becomes a FA?Envisioning him as Bonds 2.0 and the glory of all the McCovey Cove shots.

12:48
Dave Cameron: They can try, but I can’t see him taking less money than top dollar, and I don’t see them as the high bidders.

12:48
Cody: What would a Tyson Ross contract look like? And do you think Atlanta makes any sense?

12:49
Dave Cameron: I bet he gets like $7M guaranteed with incentives that push it to $15M if he maxes out.

12:49
Dave Cameron: So it could end up being a better deal for him if he stays healthy, but with a lower base than his arbitration reward would have been.

12:50
Shawn Coleman: Obviously team structure and make up for position varies from team to team, but is the standard team structuring goal still relevant? That being SS, 2b,C, CF (up the middle) are strong defenders, and lf, rf, 1b,3b provide the offense. Is that a sound philosophy in today’s statistically driven game, or too old school to succeed?

12:50
Dave Cameron: There’s no real reason to limit yourself to that kind of thinking. If you have a mediocre defensive SS who can really hit (Carlos Correa?), you don’t want to flip him for a weaker player just because that guy fields better.

12:51
Dave Cameron: It’s about overall production, not looking for certain types.

12:51
JWR: Who says no to a Bregman-Quintana (straight up) deal?

12:51
Dave Cameron: Astros

12:52
weezy: Quintana’s not a flyball pitcher? He seems to be in the top quarter to third of fly ball rates over his career, and the opposite for his ground ball rate. On a related note, what’s a rule of thumb for fly ball/ground ball pitcher?

12:52
Dave Cameron: His career GB% is 44%; league average is 45%.

12:53
20longyears: Following up on your answer above, If the Pirates want to keep both Bell and Meadows, would Kevin Newman+Glasnow be good enough to headline a package for Quintana?

12:53
Dave Cameron: Probably not.

12:53
JT: Re : Trout on HoF, isn’t that basically what happened to Andruw jones? He probably won’t get in

12:54
Dave Cameron: Andruw wasn’t as good as Trout is at his peak.

12:54
Doug: Would Conforto for JBJ be a fair trade?

12:54
Dave Cameron: Bradley is worth more.

12:55
Joe Don: Who should the Rangers keep between Odor and Profar?

12:55
Dave Cameron: Odor.

12:55
powder: Now that you’re in Oregon, have you grown a mustache to fit in?

12:55
Dave Cameron: I grow facial hair like Jared Weaver throws fastballs.

12:56
Sandy Kazmir: If Sale and Quintana have similar surplus value, and you think Martes+Tucker+stuff is enough for Quintana, then how much did the Red Sox overpay for Chris Sale?

12:56
Dave Cameron: I think Sale was worth more than Quintana, and I think the Red Sox overpaid a little.

12:56
Anthony: Isn’t the way to think about “prospects vs. proven players” to consider both player uncertainty and team uncertainty? Getting from 87 to 90 wins is a lot more valuable than getting from 80 to 83 wins. So, if I’m fairly confident I have a contending team next year, the guy I’m pretty sure is going to be good next year is more valuable to me than the guy I’m pretty sure is going to be good three years or four from now, since my whole team might have slid into mediocrity by then. And, if I’m fairly confident my team next year is going to be mediocre, the logic is reversed.

12:56
Dave Cameron: Yeah, you basically just described the win curve theory.

12:57
Matt: My weekly suggestion that FG either allow me to pay for ad-free, or find a new ad provider. I’m convinced they are the source of all freezing and focus moving from the text box people keep referring to.

12:57
Dave Cameron: Stay tuned!

12:58
jon: They told me my whole life that hell would freeze over if the Cubs won. Then 2016 happened.

12:58
Dave Cameron: Well it was pretty cold this weekend.

12:59
Lance: Is there any way for baseball writing and blogs to focus on player development in a similar way we focus on scouting? It seems like scouting is only half the battle, but public fandom focuses on it without paying any credence to development. I’m not exactly sure what this would look like, it just seems like a blind spot in the way myself and most people follow baseball at the moment.

12:59
Dave Cameron: Writing about player development is just harder.

12:59
Dave Cameron: Teams don’t let you attend their meetings, or let you watch as they tinker with mechanics or approaches.

12:59
Dave Cameron: That stuff happens out of the public view.

1:00
John: David Freese to the Red Sox seems like a good fit

1:00
Dave Cameron: He re-signed with PIT.

1:00
Boo Radley: Re: hard salary cap, it’s true that it’s a leap from the current CBA to that. But it’s a step in the direction of controlled spending at a time of (seemingly) ever-increasing revenues. Does that not foretell possible future difficulties in labor relations?

1:01
Dave Cameron: I don’t think the new international rules are controlled spending any more than the draft has been. No one violates the draft signing pools because the penalties are so onerous. The draft effectively works as a hard cap.

1:01
Dave Cameron: That was already in place, and didn’t set us up for problems.

1:02
Dave Cameron: I think the PA sees a huge difference between money going to non-union members and money going to union members, and they’ll fight for the latter much harder than the former.

1:02
Kosch: I think $20 is a fair price for the content of FG, but I have reservations about the auto-renew policy. Lots of companies have great intitial prices, but go up drastically in time. Is there a way to make single payments?

1:03
Dave Cameron: I can tell you that there has been zero discussion of any future price increases on FG Membership.

1:03
Dave Cameron: Our goal isn’t to trick you into subscribing, then steal all your money.

1:04
Electric: Was leverage folded into the reliever equation recently? I seem to recall much discussion about the widespread undervaluing of relievers.

1:04
Dave Cameron: It’s been in there for years.

1:04
Grumbleshoes: These days, it doesn’t seem like teams can be divided along the axis of whether or not they value sabermetrics. They almost all do. Is there any new “front line” along which front offices are philosophically divided?

1:04
Dave Cameron: Probably the biggest difference at this point is how freely the information flows up to the decision makers, and how heavily it is used.

1:05
Dave Cameron: Everyone has analytics departments now, but not every head of R+D has a seat at the table when it comes to making a big decision.

1:06
Bananastand: When news comes that a team has been working really hard to get a deal done, what does that mean? Is it that they are constantly negotiating?

1:06
Dave Cameron: It means the source that leaked the deal is confident that a deal is going to get done, but it’s not yet finalized

1:07
MeDeKe: Re: Catfish Carl’s Q. I think he may have been asking “how often does a loaded farm system not translate into a championship team?” The obvious answer might seem to be “a lot of the time” but the Royals parlayed their minor league juggernaut into a WS winning squad. Which teams didn’t have the same success, though? Thanks, Dave.

1:07
Dave Cameron: Well, everyone loved Texas’ farm system a few years back.

1:08
Dave Cameron: Arizona got hyped up as having one of the best farm systems in baseball not too long ago.

1:09
Grumbleshoes: Teams don’t let you in the scouting room for draft preparation either.

1:09
Dave Cameron: Sure, but it’s a lot easier for someone like Eric to go watch those guys play and come to conclusions himself.

1:09
Dave Cameron: We don’t have to report on a team’s draft information when what they are seeing is publicly available.

1:10
Matt: Your “stay tuned” answer to both my ad comment and the kickstarter type thing got me thinking – I’d totally pay a decent amount to be FG member is it gave me ad-free and included (for example) access to a FG event that was guaranteed at least 1 for each MLB city and had a few writers/contributers.

1:10
Dave Cameron: You’ll enjoy the announcement, then.

1:10
Craig in CHI: re: Fowler – he was a FA signing, not a trade. He will be missed, greatly, this season.

1:11
Dave Cameron: They originally acquired him for Luis Valbuena; he re-signed there on a bargain deal because he liked the organization. That doesn’t happen if they don’t trade for him.

1:11
Raindog: If relievers get a leverage bonus to WAR, do starters get a leverage anti-bonus?

1:11
Dave Cameron: No, because most SPs have an average LI of right around 1.0.

1:12
David: What this chat needs – less Dave more Liberty!

1:12
Dave Cameron: She’s sleeping.

1:12
Dave Cameron: Sorry.

1:13
Dave Cameron: And on that note, you’re about to get less Dave.

1:13
Dave Cameron: Thanks for hanging out all year. We’re looking forward to some fun stuff in 2017, and it should be a great year at FanGraphs. Have a great holiday season, and we’ll chat again after the New Year.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Pirates Hurdlesmember
5 years ago

To the guy asking about Top Farm System failures, take a look at the 1997 Pirates Farm, #1 at BA, 7 top 100 prospects, 4 of the top 26. Ugh!