Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat: 12/3/14 by Dave Cameron December 3, 2014 11:45 Dave Cameron: It’s Wednesday, so let’s chat. 11:46 Dave Cameron: To note: we know that CIL’s new design hasn’t been especially well received, and we’re open to trying to tweak things to make the interface more user friendly. To start out, I’m testing out a reverse chronological order for the chat. 11:46 Dave Cameron: We might experiment with some things during the chat today, so feedback is appreciated. 12:00 Comment From CecilFieldersButtPlugHey Dave. Just read your article about righ handed power. Want to note the part about the guys who throw righty and bat lefty. I myself am one of them, and i was never taught to hit lefty. I just naturally threw righty and hit lefty. might be something to think about… 12:01 Dave Cameron: Someone mentioned this on Twitter as well, so it’s worth noting. That said, if you’re a natural right-hander in everything else in life, and a natural right-handed thrower, my guess is you probably could hit right-handed, or at least could have at some point in your life. 12:02 Comment From BlueJay BirdieDexter Fowler – what kind of return could he net? 12:02 Dave Cameron: Probably not a ton. One year of control at $9 million salary for a good-not-great hitter with meh defense. He didn’t exactly bring back a large return when the Rockies traded him last year, and that was more control at a lower cost. 12:03 Comment From Marcus A.I know that you like and respect Jonah Keri quite a bit, he had Cole Hamels number 39 on his trade value list and Mookie number 40. Any insight as to why you and him have such differing evaluations of the two? 12:04 Dave Cameron: I haven’t asked Jonah about this, so I don’t want to speculate on his reasoning, but I do think that name players are traditionally overvalued, and the public assumes players on large contracts have more trade value than they actually do. 12:05 Dave Cameron: Hamels fits both criteria. 12:05 Comment From JoeHi Dave. Do you think there are any as-yet untapped in-game strategies (crazy new shifts, radical bullpen usage, etc.) that could pay big WE dividends, or do you think we’re looking at very tiny marginal strategic gains from here on out? 12:05 Dave Cameron: I think at some point in the next few decades, the pitching staff as we know it will go away, and the game will move towards a series of pitchers throwing a few innings at a time. 12:06 Comment From BrianDo you expect the Royals to trade Davis or Holland now that Luke Hochevar is under contract for two years? 12:07 Dave Cameron: Yeah, I would imagine the Hochevar signing means that one of the two is probably on the block. 12:07 Comment From MontyAre there any big name free agents that might not be signed until January? 12:07 Dave Cameron: Won’t be surprised at all if Scherzer takes that long. 12:08 Comment From BrianIt was reported the Dodgers have no interest in moving Van Slyke, but the Heisey deal seems to suggest otherwise. Have you heard anything about his availability? He would be a perfect fit for the Indians in RF. What would it take to land him? 12:09 Dave Cameron: I’d imagine Heisey gives them a platoon partner for Peterson in CF, where Van Slyke is probably more of a corner guy, so I don’t know that there’s a significant impact on him here. My guess is they move Kemp and one of Ethier/Crawford, and Van Slyke platoons with whatever lefty they don’t trade. 12:09 Comment From richdannaMatt Kemp to the Cubs. Why not? If they took on a substantial percentage of the salary, what would it take to get him in CF between Bryant and Soler? 12:10 Dave Cameron: Some kind of mind-altering drugs being force fed into the Chicago front office. Matt Kemp hasn’t been a center fielder for a while, and he should never play it again. 12:10 Comment From Vic RomanoWhere do you think Lester will end up….Cubs or Red Sox? 12:11 Dave Cameron: I’ll guess Boston. 12:11 Comment From guestBased off the details of Seager’s extension It appears pretty team friendly on the front end, and inflation may make it a break even on the back end. Your thoughts? 12:11 Dave Cameron: I think it’s fair for both sides. 12:12 Comment From JoelIs there a reasonable scenario where you are fine with Seattle trading away Taijuan Walker? 12:12 Dave Cameron: Plenty of them, but I’ve traditionally been lower on Walker than most people. 12:12 Comment From Chodear Dave, what do you think are the cardinals chances of retaining Heyward? I’ve read a couple of articles about more money being available for Mozeliak, but signing top free agents for mega contracts doesn’t seems like the “cardinal’s way”. 12:13 Dave Cameron: They gave Matt Holliday a bunch of money, and that deal is almost up. I think they’ll value his skillset more than just about anyone else. 12:14 Comment From DaveWith the Jays trading Lind, (potentially) Letting Melky walk and now non tendering Dirks and Smoak. What do the Jays have planned for 1B/DH & LF? 12:15 Dave Cameron: It was a little surprising to see them non-tender those guys. They had to pay a $200K buyout on Smoak’s 2015 option, so they basically threw cash away for nothing on that deal. 12:15 Comment From TimCan you come up with a team that has the need and resources available to justify signing Max Scherzer for 175M? 12:16 Dave Cameron: The Yankees? 12:16 Dave Cameron: Whichever of the Cubs and Red Sox don’t sign Scherzer. 12:17 Comment From parlayNow that Cruz is in Seattle, and Markakis looks likely to leave also, how would you choose to fill those holes for the Orioles at RF and DH/ 12:17 Dave Cameron: Michael Morse makes all kinds of sense for Baltimore as a DH. He’s probably better than Cruz going forward, or at least, not much worse, and will cost a lot less. And as Petriello wrote this morning, finding a guy as good as Markakis is not hard. Andy Dirks is basically the same thing, and was just non-tendered. 12:18 Comment From ACWhen do you think that the signing of Jon Lester will be finished? 12:18 Dave Cameron: I would assume he signs next week at the winter meetings. 12:19 Comment From TarikHey Dave. I’m a big fan of FanGraphs. I feel like I have a conceptual understanding of a lot of the metrics you use here (i.e what is replacement level or context neutral), but I’m not particularly statistically or mathematically inclined. What would be something easily digestible I could read to help me bridge that gap? Thanks! 12:19 Dave Cameron: Check out the FG Library, which is listed as “Glossary” in the header. It has all kinds of fun links that will help explain the nuts and bolts behind the site’s metrics. 12:20 Comment From Assistant GMHowie Kendrick for Mark Beuhrle. Who hangs up first? 12:20 Dave Cameron: Angels have zero interest in that. 12:21 Comment From GuestLot of complaints about the new chat interface, which we know you guys can’t do anything about. Is there somewhere we could more productively channel our complaints? Like to CIL itself? Or have you guys reached out to them to see if we can at least go back to top-bottom scrolling? 12:21 Dave Cameron: Letting CIL know that you don’t like the new format is better than letting us know, but it seems unlikely that they’ll revert back to the old format. We’re trying to see if we can do something about it on our end. 12:22 Comment From TJIsn’t $/WAR only a relative way to compare players? Isnt it likely that, say, Seattle owner may have a different ROI for a Cruz signing (attendance, advertising, team hype, etc), to add to the bottom line of the team balance sheet, that may not relate to $/WAR valuations? 12:23 Dave Cameron: There’s a difference between the price of a win and the value of a win. You’re talking about the latter, but price is determined by aggregate demand from the market as a whole. A rich guy doesn’t pay more for milk at the grocery store than a middle-class guy. 12:23 Dave Cameron: He might shop at a slightly nicer grocery store, of course, or buy organic milk or something. But the price of milk is still determined by the overall demand for the product, not the internal ROI of the buyer. 12:24 Comment From Andrew FriedmanWhat could the Dodgers look to get for Alex Guerrero. He’s entering his prime, mashed in AAA, doesn’t have a position, but RIGHT HANDED POWER. His deal looks cheap compared to Tomas/Abreu. 12:25 Dave Cameron: His deal includes a clause that makes him an FA the winter after he’s traded, so he has basically no trade value. 12:25 Comment From RyanIf your the Red Sox and you can trade Cespedes for Ian Kennedy or Rick Porcello, which deal would you take? 12:25 Dave Cameron: Porcello. 12:26 Comment From EricWhat do you predict will be the $/WAR estimate by the end of the offseason? 12:26 Dave Cameron: $7.5M 12:26 Comment From Kendrick DuckworthHow do you see the AL East playing out in ’15, given your best guesses of remaining free agents? 12:26 Dave Cameron: I’d imagine BOS/TOR fight for the top spot, BAL/NYY/TB fight for third. 12:27 Comment From XoloWhat team’s the ideal fit for Grandal (besides the Padres)? 12:27 Dave Cameron: Cubs. 12:28 Comment From PatDave, when you consider Starling Marte’s ability to produce well above average BABIPs (.363 and .373 in 2013 and 2014) and his 2014 increase in batted ball distance, could you buy him as a player that could take the next step? Putting together a 20HR, 30SB, 5.5/6 WAR season? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Possible, but I wouldn’t count on it. 12:28 Comment From LosJustin Smoak just screams Orioles in 2 years breakout a la Chris Davis and Steve Pearce. 12:28 Dave Cameron: Those guys have power. Smoak doesn’t. 12:29 Comment From GrantAs a Red Sox fan, I don’t like the Hanley deal because I hate the idea of giving $88 million to a guy at age 31 and then asking him to play a completely new position at which he’s never played an inning. Is this a justified fear or am I overreacting to uncertainty? 12:29 Dave Cameron: Converting to the OF just isn’t that hard. 12:29 Comment From TruSchoolSportsDbacks send Didi to the Athletics for Drew Pom. Any objections on either end? 12:29 Dave Cameron: D’Backs would need more. 12:29 Comment From GuestWhat are the advantages of using “replacement-level” instead of “average Major leaguer-level” ? 12:30 Dave Cameron: Average isn’t free. You have to pay to acquire average players, and you don’t know what average players are worth unless you know what league minimum players can provide. 12:30 Comment From AustenAre offensive levels always cyclical, or is there a factor in play that could dampen offense permanently? 12:31 Dave Cameron: The strike zone is huge now. That’s not a cyclical thing. Until MLB instructs its umpires to shrink the zone, offense won’t come back. 12:31 Comment From JoeAfter the Hunter signing last night, 12 of MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents had signed, 11 of them being hitters. The only pitcher was a 1 year deal for AJ Burnett. There has been almost no news on James Shields, Brandon McCarthy, Francisco Liriano, Ervin Santana etc. Is the incredibly slow developing pitching market waiting for Jon Lester to be signed, Cole Hamels to be traded or is there another reason that it’s moving so much slower than the hitters? 12:32 Dave Cameron: Lester is the domino to fall. None of the second tier guys are going to do anything until they know if BOS/CHC are going to pursue them after losing out on Lester. 12:32 Dave Cameron: Once he signs, lots of pitchers sign. 12:33 Comment From how many GMs read fangraphs you think?how many GMs read fangraphs you think? 12:33 Dave Cameron: Read it themselves? Maybe 10-15. Have someone on staff reading it? 30. 12:34 Comment From RowenLove FG. I’ve been using trailing ERA, WHIP, LOB, BABIP and KBB combined with ZiPS to try and develop a new stat for projecting pitching breakouts. Hutch was a goldmine last year. How receptive is FG to new stat developments from users? 12:34 Dave Cameron: If you can prove that it works and adds value, we’ll definitely look at it. The Community Blog is perfect for submitting evidence of new metrics. 12:35 Comment From Spence OlchinWhat’s a realistic projection/ceiling for Nick Franklln going forward? I keep reading positive reports on his baserunning and defense yet he’s posted negative values so far in the majors in slightly less than a full season in the majors. Can he contribute positive baserunning and defensive value with an average bat going forward? Maybe a 2-3 WAR player? 12:35 Dave Cameron: I’ve been calling him Kelly Johnson for a few years now. I’ll stick with that. 12:36 Comment From gumpwhy did offense peak (“steroid” era) before velocities rose? 12:37 Dave Cameron: The strike zone was tiny. People really underestimate the effect of the zone on the run environment. 12:37 Comment From KimballNot arguing that the Cruz contract isn’t a big overpay and the result is likely to be ugly, but: you’ve noted before that $/WAR appears fairly linear, but also that deadline deals often run a $/WAR about 2x offseason deals. If the Mariners truly believe themselves to be at the critical inflection point on the win curve, then doesn’t a valuation closer to a deadline deal make a (little) more sense? Obviously, they can’t really know that, and even if that’s true right now, they could well be wrong come July (or April, for that matter), but isn’t it slightly more justifiable that way? 12:38 Dave Cameron: Teams on the contention bubble can justify higher than average costs for player acquisition, but you can apply that same argument to every player they could have signed. So you still have to justify why Cruz was the best use of $58 million. He wasn’t. 12:38 Comment From GuestThis is probably a stupid question, but a fair one. We all seemingly know people that succeed or fail under pressure whether in business or life. We all know people that deal with stress more than others. Why isn’t there evidence of that occurring in baseball in regards to closer mentality or clutch hitting? Do players that can’t take the pressure just never make it? Or it is there, but just not uniformly? I mean if a coworker gets a big project on a deadline and does a good job, is that just a small sample size? 12:38 Dave Cameron: People who can’t handle pressure don’t get to the big leagues. 12:39 Dave Cameron: It’s like asking why the average height of a basketball player is so much higher than the average height of a regular human being. Being tall is a selection criteria for a basketball player. Being able to handle pressure is a selection criteria for a professional athlete. 12:39 Comment From DanWhat’s the explanation for the huge strike zone? Was it an actual decision, or just a gradual trend among umpires that MLB hasn’t tried to keep in check? What is the exact wording on what the strike zone is supposed to be? 12:40 Dave Cameron: The strike zone got bigger when PITCHF/x cameras were installed in all 30 ballparks, giving MLB teams better information about how to grade and instruct umpires on the calls they are making. The fact that they had an incentive to drive down run scoring to show that PED testing was working was nice timing. 12:41 Comment From BJPThe last 6 years, the economy has been poor, with very low inflation. So, why does the cost of a win keep going up? Is the game growing that much? 12:41 Dave Cameron: MLB isn’t the USA. Cable companies are betting their futures on keeping people from cord-cutting by doubling down on live sports, since no one watches those on DVR, and thus, ads for sports are more valuable than ads for regular programming. No one has more live sports per year to sell than MLB teams. 12:42 Comment From mtswIs there a limit for how much money a team can include for a player? Could, for example, the Red Sox trade Mookie Betts for $60M straight up? 12:43 Dave Cameron: Any deal involving more than $1M in cash has to be approved by the commissioner’s office. They approve deals with large payments accompanying contracts, but they don’t want teams to start selling players. 12:43 Comment From TruSchoolSportsRE: Didi and the As. Saw something that mentioned that if they wanted to, the Dbacks would have been a perfect suitor the Donaldson. They have a need at 3rd as well. Would Didi, Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury, and either Shipley or Blair gotten that done? 12:43 Dave Cameron: No. 12:44 Comment From TKDCOnce teams go to the pitching model you suggest, the run environment will be extremely low, right? What will baseball do to combat that? 12:44 Dave Cameron: Make the zone smaller and/or juice the ball. 12:45 Comment From RickOne fault in your milk analogy: A gallon of milk does not get to choose who buys it. There is significant evidence that Seattle must pay an above market price to attract it’s “Milk” 12:47 Dave Cameron: Only if you consider it an absolute necessity that they buy milk and not any other kind of food. Continuing the food example, avocados cost a lot more out here in North Carolina than they do in California. I have to pay $2-$3 per avocado, so I choose not to buy avocados that often, and I substitute into other products. I don’t justify paying more for the thing that is relatively expensive to me just because it costs more. I buy the thing that makes more sense for me, like sweet potatoes. 12:48 Dave Cameron: No team “needs” Nelson Cruz or Matt Kemp or Jon Lester. They need wins. Wins come in various packages, and various costs. 12:48 Comment From GuestI’m working on my J.D. Not because I want to be wealthy but because I simply enjoy it. How hard is it to find a job doing legal work for a team,agent, or the league? Is it easier than finding the average front office or scouting job people ask about? 12:49 Dave Cameron: Much easier. If you’re a practicing lawyer with an interest in baseball, you can probably find a job on the agency side of things far easier than anyone who wants to work for a team. 12:49 Comment From Eric WeinsteinJust judging by publicly available info it seems pretty clear the Cubs prefer Lester to Scherzer. Why do you think this is? 12:49 Dave Cameron: He 12:49 Dave Cameron: He costs less. 12:50 Comment From Hi ErixDo you think MLB will ever ease blackout restrictions? 12:51 Dave Cameron: Yeah, they’re moving that direction. It will take a while, but eventually MLB.tv will be the primary source of watching baseball content, and it will be available to everyone in every city. 12:52 Comment From PrichHave you read Rosenthal’s article about how much $$$ they’d have to eat to move their expensive OFers? Do you agree with his #s? 12:52 Dave Cameron: I think he’s a little high on Kemp, who I’d have around 5/$80, but I’m with him on Ethier and Crawford. 12:53 Comment From DanWhat teams/GMs, if any, are analytically minded enough right now that they might be the first to try your pitching staff model? 12:53 Dave Cameron: The problem is that no one team can do it themselves. It’s going to take a development pattern by many teams at the same time, and agreement from the players (in terms of restructuring how pitchers get paid) to move that needle. It will happen, but no team can just go it alone. 12:54 Comment From Brett WEvery winter someone thinks Boras oversold his hand, but he usually pulls out the deal he wants. Odds that Scherzer signs for less than $150 million? 12:54 Dave Cameron: 0%. 12:55 Dave Cameron: I mean, I guess there’s some chance that Scherzer gets hurt at some point during the offseason, and thus he can’t sign a mega deal because he blew out his knee walking down the steps or something. So whatever percent that is. 12:55 Comment From Rich GuyOne problem with your analogy, Dave: sweet potatoes are gross. 12:56 Dave Cameron: Wildly incorrect. I made sweet potato waffles last week, which were fantastic. You don’t have to just bake them and cover them in marshamllows. That is gross. 12:56 Comment From The StrangerI think the question that led to the milk analogy was whether a player like Cruz, with name recognition, has marginal value that isn’t captured by “wins.” If he has value to the team, such as selling season tickets, that’s not captured by WAR, couldn’t that lead to an overpay as measured by $/WAR, but still be a smart investment? If multiple teams see a player as having this “non-win” value, couldn’t that force the price above what $/WAR would indicate? Or do front offices primarily/only consider on-field value when they sign players, figuring that a winning team does its own marketing? 12:57 Dave Cameron: There’s basically no evidence that even the best players drive significant revenues beyond what they add on the field. Guys like Nelson Cruz just aren’t moving the needle in a substantial way. None of the front office people I know sign players hoping for economic benefits beyond what they get on the field. 12:57 Comment From MikeThoughts on the ridiculous number of “people with sources” who have popped up this winter on Twitter, seemingly throwing every bit of rumor they hear and sending it out as “done”? Seems to be leading to a lot of misinformation. 12:58 Dave Cameron: I know they’re around because I see people talking about them, but I don’t follow any of these kids, and no one I do follow is retweeting them, so I don’t see any of these fake rumors that people get so worked up about. Following ~75 fairly credible people works well for me, and seems to keep a lot of the Twitter crap out of my timeline. 12:59 Comment From mtswBoras seems dramatically better than other agents at getting big contracts for his clients? Why don’t more players sign with him? I don’t understand the upside of other agents. Do they charge significantly less of a commission or something? 12:59 Dave Cameron: A lot of players want personal attention from their agency. Boras can’t provide that; his agency just reps too many people. If you’re not the best player in the game, you might not ever talk to him. 12:59 Comment From GuestSweet potato fries are great. 1:00 Dave Cameron: Also truth. 1:00 Comment From are all mariners fans this retardedodds that cruz signing even breaks even? 1:00 Dave Cameron: 2.4% 1:00 Dave Cameron: Okay, off to get some lunch. Thanks for hanging out everyone.