Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 5/24/17

12:00
Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday, everyone.

12:00
Dave Cameron: We’re nearly two months into what is turning out to be a pretty interesting season.

12:01
Dave Cameron: So let’s talk about it.

12:01
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Chris Archer is on a team-friendly contract and central to a Rays team that would like to be competitive over the next few years. He is also second in the AL in WAR behind Sale. I see a lot of Cubs et al. fans talk about trading for Archer, but do you actually see anyone paying the price the Rays would demand to move their competitive window back? Quintana’s gotta go somewhere, and that’s a nifty consolation prize.

12:02
Dave Cameron: No, I don’t think the Rays trade Archer unless they fall apart in the next month. The Red Sox early struggles have made the AL East pretty winnable, and I’d imagine the Rays aren’t going to punt their next few years unless things go south.

12:02
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: You have suggested that teams may have better data models than other analysts which may cause them to evaluate players differently. Have you talked to August Fagerstrom about lines of research the amateur community could pursue to be more in-line with team research (without divulging proprietary data, of course)?

12:02
Dave Cameron: No, August’s boss, I haven’t asked him to say anything that would get him fired. Thanks for asking, though!

12:03
Dave Cameron: In terms of lines of research, I don’t think there are actually that many areas where teams are looking for something that the public isn’t, where the public could. Most of that kind of stuff is related to mental skills, vision, etc…, and we’re just never going to have access to players to get that kind of information.

12:04
Daniel: Is Kershaw back?? That 8th inning last night was masterful

12:04
Dave Cameron: I didn’t know he went anywhere.

12:04
Erik: The Twins’ playoff odds have inched up to 15%, which is still quite low for a team playing so well that has some legitimate young talent. Would you take the over on that 15%, or does that number feel right to you?

12:04
Dave Cameron: If anything, I’d take the under.

12:05
Dave Cameron: Sano is a really good hitter. Buxton can play center field really well. But this isn’t a playoff team unless they get really, really lucky.

12:05
Erik: According to the playoff odds, the NL Wild Card is a three team race between the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Cardinals. Who will be the odd one out?

12:06
Dave Cameron: The Rockies success is based heavily on their bullpen dominance to date, and that’s the kind of thing that can turn in a hurry.

12:06
Big Tuna: Does the Sam Travis call up suggest Moreland might be a platoon 1B now?

12:07
Dave Cameron: Plan was always for him to be a platoon guy, but Hanley can’t play 1B right now, so he played everyday for a while.

12:07
Paulie Walnuts: I think we still need to wait for another period of adjustment-readjustment before we can declare anything, but do you think Judge will be considered a top-15 position player by the end of the season?

12:09
Dave Cameron: Top 15? That’s tough, because there are so many good young players. Obviously you have the top tier of Trout, Harper, Machado, Lindor, Bryant, Correa, Donaldson, Betts, Posey, and Seager, and Judge isn’t going to pass any of those guys. So is he going to break into the Votto/Rizzo/Arenado/Goldschmidt/Rizzo group? I doubt it.

12:09
Dave Cameron: Top 25, maybe? I like Judge. But top 15 is tough.

12:10
Paulie Walnuts: If Headley’s June looks like Headley’s May, will we see Gleyber in July?

12:10
Dave Cameron: Headley is a perfectly useful big leaguer on a first place team. That’s not a recipe for benching a guy to play a 20 year old out of position.

12:11
JD15: What do you expect a team like the Twins to do at the deadline? Yesterday you mentioned the D-back possibly regretting not dealing Greinke while he is pitching like his contract suggests. Seems similar to Ervin Santana situation.

12:11
Dave Cameron: Well, Ervin’s contract is significantly smaller, so there’s less downside to keeping him. But yeah, I think the Twins will fade enough to move him this summer.

12:12
Ken: Who do you think finishes this season with the most MLB plate appearances out of Barreto, G. Torres & Devers?

12:12
Dave Cameron: Devers. The Red Sox 3Bs are much worse than NYY’s middle infielders, and Barreto probably doesn’t get to OAK until after they trade Lowrie.

12:13
DTH: Hey Dave, any thoughts on Ian Happ’s CF play so far? If he’s actually passable out there, it really changes the calculus for the Cubs on guys like Almora and Baez moving forward.

12:14
Dave Cameron: I haven’t seen him play CF, but I can’t think of any fringe-defensive 2Bs who successfully moved to CF. Usually the MI to OF conversion guys are good athletes with error problems. Feels like Happ is probably more likely to end up as a corner OF.

12:14
spookie: Are the Red Sox underperforming or is the situation starting to look legitimately bleak? That farm system is shockingly shallow after Devers.

12:15
Dave Cameron: They’ll be fine once they get Price healthy.

12:16
The Average Sports Fan: Will the Royals be big sellers, or will the return on guys like Moustakas and Hosmer be so disappointing it won’t be worth it?

12:16
Dave Cameron: I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept both of those guys and just made them a QO.

12:16
Dave Cameron: Cain will get traded, because he’s actually good, so other teams will want him.

12:17
JD15: Does Ian Happ change how the Cubs go into trade season? Initially I thought he would be big trade bait, but does his performance make it possible that they deal Schwarber or Baez?

12:18
Dave Cameron: Don’t think Happ and Baez have as much overlap as people think, since Happ can’t play short. And trading Schwarber is tough because they’d either be admitting they are selling low, or if he heats back up, trading a guy on an upswing.

12:18
Dave Cameron: Something I haven’t seen mentioned, but could be possible: trade Russell instead.

12:19
Dave Cameron: The idea of Addison Russell is still bigger than the reality of Addison Russell, and he’d probably bring back a big return even with his current struggles.

12:19
Chris: The Mariners look to be in a tough spot for the next couple years. What’s the likely plan of action? What’s the best one? Do they wait until the non-Cano/Seager contracts fall off (Cruz, Felix, etc), then start trading whatever’s left for whatever they can?

12:20
Dave Cameron: Just keep hoping for the best until the crash forces them to pivot.

12:21
Dave Cameron: It’s coming. The question is just when.

12:21
Zwak: How likely is Mike Trout to be the greatest player to play baseball while I’m alive? Feel free to assume whatever age you want for me.

12:21
Dave Cameron: Passing Ruth is going to be hard.

12:21
Dave Cameron: But he has a pretty decent chance to go down as the best player of all time who only pitched or hit.

12:22
Ben: What are the chances that a Rockies pitcher could beat out Cody Bellinger for Rookie of the Year?

12:22
Dave Cameron: Not that good.

12:23
Zwak: Who would win an all-Fangraphs staff version of Survivor?

12:23
Dave Cameron: Sullivan is the outdoorsiest of the bunch, so he’d the most likely to actually make it work in the wildnerness.

12:23
Robert: What would be the smart move for Seattle? Start going the way of a teardown or do they see what a healthy team can do the rest of the way and add some pieces in the offseason?

12:25
Dave Cameron: I honestly don’t know. The problem is that you can’t really tear it all down, because Felix’s contract is unmovable right now, and Cano’s you’d have to pay down a good amount. So then you’re selling Cruz, a DH-only guy at this point, and 1.5 years of Jean Segura? Not exactly the kinds of trades that turn your organization around.

12:25
Chris: How many years until the Yankees are projected as of game 1 of the season to be a 90+ win team?

12:25
Dave Cameron: I’d bet they’re there next year.

12:25
v2micca: So, I never bought the 2017 or the 2018 deadline for the Braves return to contention. But lately, I’m becoming increasingly bearish on the 2019 squad. Should I be lowering or raising my expectations for 2019?

12:25
Dave Cameron: 2019 is far enough away that we can’t really say.

12:25
Dave Cameron: But yeah, the Braves aren’t good, and they aren’t very close to being good.

12:26
Dave Cameron: Right now, the hope is that Albies, Acuna, and a few other guys who can’t drink come in and fill a bunch of holes, but it’s a lot of holes.

12:27
v2micca: This sounds ridiculous to ask, but is Trout having a break out season? I’ve never seen him maintain this much power over this long a period. Could we be seeing the beginning of an even more incredible Trout that starts slugging 45+ homers a year?

12:27
Dave Cameron: At this point, never say never with him. He’s so good.

12:27
Chris: What’s the likelihood of Trout putting up a 12+ WAR season over the next 5 years? If you were forced to guess, how many WAR does he have at the end of his career?

12:28
Dave Cameron: To get to 12 WAR he’d have run a 200 wRC+ and have a pretty solid UZR. I’d say ~5%.

12:28
Dave Cameron: In terms of career, he’s at ~50 now, so I’ll guess 143.

12:29
sabrtooth: Does Mike Hazen or Brian Cashman have a harder decision to make this summer?

12:29
Dave Cameron: Hazen, easily. The Yankees are clear buyers.

12:29
spencer: am i the only one crazy to think the yankees are setting torres up for a call up to 3B in June?

12:30
Dave Cameron: Torres projects for something like a .300 wOBA in the big leagues right now. That’s not a starting 3B on a contender.

12:30
Alex M: If you were a GM and had the choice to add one of these guys to your org, how would you rank: Benintendi, Judge, Conforto, T. Turner, Mazara

12:31
Dave Cameron: I’d probably go Turner, Conforto, Judge, Benintendi, Mazara.

12:31
Dave Cameron: But could be convinced to move the top three around.

12:33
The Future: Miguel Sano has had quite an interesting season so far. How good do you think he can be long-term?

12:34
Dave Cameron: I think he’s probably a +4 win player in his peak.

12:34
Dave Cameron: Not a lot of defense or baserunning value, but the bat is legit.

12:35
Steven Matz is on the Mets: Biagini – competent starter or bullpen guy?

12:35
Dave Cameron: I’d probably keep him in the pen.

12:35
silvpak: Argument: Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the history of baseball. Not saying that it is a winner, but we’re at the point where the argument can legitimately be made, no?

12:35
Dave Cameron: No,

12:36
Dave Cameron: He’s had a very good run, but he’s not up there yet.

12:37
Bruce Bocce: First you said Yulieski was overmatched, then he looked (with babip help) improved, then lousy again. Getting pitched out of the zone a lot, which some see as sign that pitchers fear him. You sticking with your assessment?

12:37
Dave Cameron: He’s not getting pitched out of the zone out of fear; he’s getting pitched out of the zone because his plate discipline sucks.

12:37
Dave Cameron: He’s not good.

12:37
Dave Cameron: It’s meh power and a bad approach.

12:37
Dave Cameron: His offensive profile would work if he was a good defensive 2B or something, but as a 1B on a winning team? No.

12:38
Sean: Could the Dbacks be the third or fourth best team in the NL?

12:38
Dave Cameron: Dodgers, Cubs, and Nationals clear top three.

12:38
Dave Cameron: So no, no chance of breaking that mix.

12:39
Paulie Walnuts: Not sure why you put Correa over Arenado, Votto and Goldy. All of those guys are better than him currently.

12:39
Dave Cameron: Correa is a 22 year old SS with a career 130 wRC+. He’s a monster.

12:40
Owen: Do the White Sox get what they’re asking and trade Quintana by the deadline? If so, which team agrees to trade away all the young talent needed to make the deal?

12:40
Dave Cameron: They won’t get what they wanted, but yeah, he’ll go this summer.

12:40
Pat: What does J.D. Martinez FA contract look like? Great hitter, but, D has gotten shaky..5 yrs, $120 million?

12:40
Dave Cameron: Depends on how he finishes the year. I’d bet something closer to 4/$100M.

12:41
JTT: Russell is actually good, baez is all based on potential. Why would they do that?

12:41
Dave Cameron: Addison Russell, career wRC+: 89
Javier Baez, career wRC+: 85

12:42
Crazy 8: How is “trading a guy on an upswing” different from “selling high”? You clearly believe in the virtue of the latter but your comment on Schwarber implies it’s not something a smart team could/would want to do.

12:42
Dave Cameron: The Cubs love Schwarber. It’s going to be hard for them to trade him if his recent performance is strong, because it will confirm their pre-existing belief that he’s a monster hitter.

12:42
Dave Cameron: But if his recent performance isn’t good, then they’d have to admit that they were selling low.

12:42
Dave Cameron: So it’s tough to imagine a scenario where they trade him.

12:43
Brendon: Fangraphs has suddenly closed and you now have 4 job options. Which would you choose: 1) Work in a front office 2) National baseball writer 3) Local baseball writer 4) Don’t work in baseball (what would you do)?

12:43
Dave Cameron: Well, I’d obviously need more information about the particulars, but if I could get another gig that let me stay in Bend, that would be idea. So probably 2 or 4.

12:44
Dave Cameron: I don’t think there’s much demand for Bend Elks coverage out there.

12:45
Matt: Do you buy Russell’s current struggles being a significant issue? Strikeout rate continues to come down and batted ball profile hasn’t changed much from last year.

12:46
Dave Cameron: He’s not a 63 wRC+ hitter, obviously. But he remains a below-average contact guy (even with small increase, still at 75%) with average-ish power. That’s a tough combination to be a top-tier hitter. With his D, can be a very nice player even without being a big hitter, but I think he’s more early career Brandon Crawford than late career Brandon Crawford right now.

12:46
Lars: As a follow-up to the Mariners question, I think the salient dilemma is whether to trade the aging core stars (Cruz, Cano, Felix, et al) at this trade deadline to be able to acquire greater return than if you wait another year or two and they’re older and even less effective.

12:47
Dave Cameron: Felix is unmovable. Will need to probably just wait that contract out.

12:47
Dave Cameron: And teams usually aren’t taking on Cano-sized contracts in the summer.

12:47
Dave Cameron: That’s more of a winter deal, most often.

12:47
Jones: I know we have WAR, but in your opinion, is a guy like Kershaw more valuable than a guy like trout because pitchers like Kershaw are more rare than players like trout?

12:47
Dave Cameron: Nope.

12:48
Dave Cameron: Kershaw is awesome, but we just had Randy Johnson not that long ago. The last Trout was Willie Mays.

12:48
Some guy in PA: How would you fix the Phillies? Fire the manager? Bench some regulars? Promote some of the AAA studs? Make a trade? All of the above? None of the above? Thanks!

12:48
Dave Cameron: The team isn’t good, by design. Why would you think they need fixing?

12:49
Dave Cameron: It’s part of the rebuild plan.

12:49
ChiSox: Regarding Seattle’s conundrum, do you think Boston could use Nelson Cruz and give back a decent piece?

12:49
Dave Cameron: They already have a DH.

12:50
Dave Cameron: This is the problem. Which AL contender needs a DH, really? You could argue the Astros, but that’s an in-division trade.

12:50
Dave Cameron: Cruz is good enough to have value, but the practicality of moving him for a big return isn’t there.

12:51
Baryolo Cologne: The Reds seem to have the offense that is competitive currently, but their pitching staff is obviously a major problem. Is it that out of the question for a team like the Reds to pick up an SP1 and SP2 and try competing in the nearer term than we all think?

12:51
Dave Cameron: Yeah, it’s out of the question. Barring Shohei Otani really liking Skyline Chili, there’s no mechanism in place for them to get those guys.

12:52
Pat: Who has the bleakest future? Tigers? Seattle? Toronto? Seems like all 3 are aging, with few assets to sell & poor farm teams.

12:52
Dave Cameron: The Royals. They aren’t good now, they have no farm system, their assets are all FAs this winter, and they’ve backloaded all their contracts.

12:52
Dave Cameron: When you’re dreaming about what jason Vargas might be able to bring back, things aren’t great.

12:53
TTO%: You win a Baseball analyst Make-A-Wish and can join any Front Office for a 24 hour period. What team do you choose and for which day of the baseball calendar?

12:53
Dave Cameron: Does this mean I have to have cancer again?

12:54
Dave Cameron: I’d probably want to hang out with A.J. Preller at the trade deadline just to see what he’s trying to do.

12:54
Dave Cameron: “Luis Perdomo AND Brad Hand gets me Trout, right?”

12:55
Kevin: What’s the next big thing coming at Fangraphs?

12:55
Dave Cameron: There’s a front-page re-design coming pretty darn soon. I think you’ll like it, once you get past the “change is evil” reaction.

12:55
A. Reitz: RE: Yankees = Contender…Define “Contender”. Because while the Yankees have a nice young nucleus we need to pump the breaks on contending for anything but 3rd place.

12:55
Dave Cameron: They’re going to win 88-95 games this year.

12:55
Dave Cameron: But okay.

12:56
Shuck Bowalter: Tell me again why the Diamondbacks released Welington Castillo?

12:56
Dave Cameron: Zack Greinke’s resurgence.

12:56
BDF: Peak Kershaw is not even the equal of peak Martinez. That’s not arguable, is it?

12:56
Dave Cameron: Nope.

12:56
Dave Cameron: Peak Pedro is the best pitcher we’ve ever seen.

12:57
Andy: Is Freddie Freeman included in that 2nd tier of top 10-15 guys you mentioned? Please, he’s all we Braves fans have left.

12:57
Dave Cameron: Yeah, he’s in there too.

12:58
A. Reitz: I’m not saying Yuli is good, but bad approach? 13%K rate is considered an elite contact skill. Sure, he doesn’t walk but. Also, he’s playing 1B because Bregman is at 3rd…

12:58
Dave Cameron: He doesn’t strike out because he swings at everything. That’s a bad approach for a guy who doesn’t do damage on contact.

12:59
Dave Cameron: He’s basically Yangervis Solarte.

12:59
Alex: Even though they most likely will be out of contention do you think the Pirates might still make a run at Quintana?

12:59
Dave Cameron: No, you don’t outbid contenders for a win-now piece if you’re not winning now.

1:00
Sammy: When healthy, who is better- Matz or Nola? Who has more trade value?

1:00
Dave Cameron: Nola, twice.

1:01
Erik: Are the Astros more okay with Gurriel at first because they get first baseman-level offense from Altuve and Correa up the middle? If Gurriel really does play very good D, they might feel like that’s more valuable to them than getting a traditional first basemen with more offense but no glove. Or should the identity of their second baseman and shortstop have no bearing on their decision at first base?

1:01
Dave Cameron: You just want as much value at each spot as you can get.

1:01
Dave Cameron: They’re okay with Gurriel because they are going to win the AL West with him either way.

1:01
ctw: you could start a site using analytics to cover the various goings-on around your municipality. BendGraphs has a ring to it.

1:02
Dave Cameron: “Housing still expensive. Town still very white. Check back tomorrow for more of the same.”

1:02
Shuck Bowalter: Dead ball era, Steroid era, etc…what name do you give the present?

1:02
Dave Cameron: Strikeout Era is obvious choice.

1:02
Erik: Why are large contracts more moveable in the offseason than in the summer? Rigid accounting practices?

1:03
Dave Cameron: It’s tougher to get owners to agree to a massive change in expected payroll in season.

1:03
Dave Cameron: That kind of sales pitch to take on a huge contract usually requires a lot of time, and summer trade deals move faster.

1:04
kevinthecomic: “the last Trout was Willie Mays” — no love for Barry Bonds?

1:04
Dave Cameron: Pre-PEDs Bonds wasn’t this good. PEDs Bonds was very different.

1:05
Shuck Bowalter: The Dave Cameron expansion team gets the first pick, and you can choose between 1) Mike Trout on a 3 year contract, 2) Clayton Kershaw on a 4 year contract, 3) Bryce Harper on a 5 year contract or 4)Manny Machado on a 5 year contract

1:05
Dave Cameron: Assuming same AAV, I’d take Harper.

1:06
Matt: In your opinion, is Otani actually coming over this offseason? If ‘yes’, then in theory, wouldn’t the fact that he’s already willing to take such a massive paycut not exclude any teams currently under per-player constraints due to overspending?

1:06
Dave Cameron: I don’t buy that Otani is actually going to leave $200+ million on the table.

1:06
Dave Cameron: But if he did, then the calculation becomes “where can I make the most money in non-baseball dollars”, and that’s not Cincinnati.

1:07
Dave Cameron: At that point, you just go to NY or LA and hit up every marketing guy you can find in those cities.

1:08
Danny Salazar’s Elbow: Dave I didn’t realize you had cancer,do you mind sharing what kind? Happy to hear you battled through it successfully

1:08
Dave Cameron: I got Acute Myeloid Leukemia back in 2011. 0/10, not recommended, don’t try it at home.

1:08
Dave Cameron: Happy to be in remission now though.

1:08
Grant: For a season in the major leagues, who has the highest wrc+ out of Fangraphs writers?

1:09
Dave Cameron: Eno, because there are probably more MLB pitchers who want to throw at him than anyone else on staff, so he’ll get that sweet HBP bump.

1:09
Matt: With the context of “everyone has better ideas than the guy they’re criticizing until that person is given the chance to try theirs out” is there a MLB team that you truly believe you could take over as GM tomorrow and have turned around within 3 years (well, 3.5)?

1:09
Dave Cameron: Nope. Every team has a GM better suited for that job than any one of us.

1:10
Dave Cameron: All the unqualified guys are gone.

1:10
Query: True or false: Even though the Braves starting 1B went down and they openly admitted that they were looking outside for a replacement, they still managed to play the Cardinals like a fiddle w/ the Adams trade?

1:10
Dave Cameron: False. Matt Adams is not very good and was available for little because of that.

1:11
Anthony: So, has the Rangers’ run since your Darvish article changed the calculus? They seem likely to hold or buy now right?

1:11
Dave Cameron: Yeah, winning 10 in a row is one way to dig out of a big early hole.

1:13
Paulie Walnuts: pre-PED bonds was at least as good as Trout.

1:13
Dave Cameron: Uh, no.

1:14
Dave Cameron: If you give him the benefit of the doubt that he was clean in PIT, so up through ’92, his career wRC+ to that point was 145, and he racked up +48 WAR in 4255 PAs. Mike Trout has a 170 wRC+ and +51 WAR in 3743 PAs. They’ll be close in career PAs at end of season, and Trout will have almost 10 WAR on him.

1:14
Eric: Re: Sano. A guy with 2.7 WAR in 41 games so far is worth 4 wins in a season. Got it.

1:14
Dave Cameron: Yes, because projections work by taking a player’s line through the first 50 games and extrapolating.

1:14
Dave Cameron: Did you know Alex Avila is the best hitting catcher ever?

1:15
JT: 3 years of Trout > 5 years of Harper

1:16
Dave Cameron: Maybe. I almost took Trout. It’s close.

1:16
Anon: Who is the objectively handsomest writer at FG?

1:16
Dave Cameron: Sullivan, and it’s not close.

1:17
Dave Cameron: Okay, off to write about the Brewers.

1:17
Dave Cameron: Get excited!

1:17
Dave Cameron: Thanks for hanging out today, everyone.

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