Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 10/11/18

Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, welcome to a postseason off-day edition of my chat. Frankly, Ii’m a little relieved not to have a baseball game  for the second night in a row because of how out-of-whack my sleep schedule and that of the rest of my household (baseball-editing wife and two-year-old toddler) is.

Jay Jaffe: I’ve got a big NLCS preview-ish type thing going up tomorrow morning that explores some of the contrasts between the Brewers and Dodgers. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it sure is long!

kderg: How much do you believe that the Yankees thought Monday night’s game started at 8? On the one hand, someone must have double checked. On the other hand Severino’s late warmup, Gary’s fingernails were unpainted in the first, Gardner wasn’t wearing metal cleats in the first.

Jay Jaffe: I don’t believe there was any mistake regarding the time. This is a non-story.

Jay Jaffe: Boone made plenty of mistakes during the ALDS, some of which he wasn’t very clear about explaining the thought process behind in pre- and postgame interviews. He has said that he had no issue with Severino’s warm-up time, and on that note, I have no reason to doubt him.

Bruce: What kind of a contract would Stanton get if he was a FA this year?

Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure he’d get 13 years and $300 million plus, but I wouldn’t  be at all surprised if he could go get something like 7/$220M (which is what my first-cut attempt at the FG contract estimator came up with) to $240M

Trixie: Do you believe the D-Backs will do a full-scale rebuild or only a partial rebuild?

Jay Jaffe: I think they’re so obsessed over payroll — and particularly with Greinke taking up 25% of it — that they’ll do some kind of rebuild, and but I’m not sure whether what they do will be drastic enough for them not to be of particular competitive concern in 2019. They’re losing Corbin and Pollock to free agency, and they have a lousy farm system, but they do still have some good pitchers, and it seems silly to break the core apart. Then again, it seems like they’re itching to blow it up, so…

Trixie: It’s almost a certainty that Corbin is going to the Yankees, right?

Jay Jaffe: I suspect the Yankees will be very interested but they’ll hardly be the only ones, and it’s not automatic for him to want to play in NY, and pitch in that ballpark.

Matt: I know that MLB will never, ever force the Wilpons to sell, but if the next GM does as poorly as the hiring process might indicate, would Manfred feel compelled to install another caretaker a la Alderson?

Jay Jaffe: I think it’s really easy to throw potshots at the Mets’ hiring process, and I do so quite frequently, but I highly doubt MLB will intercede in the process.

Trixie: Do Giants’ fans have anything to be optimistic about next year?

Jay Jaffe: They have a great ballpark and a future Hall of Famer in Buster Posey, but a lot of the rest is up in the air. Will they keep Bumgarner or trade him? Will Dereck Rodriguez continue developing? Will Longoria, Crawford, Panik and about 12 other underperformers bounce back? Will Brandon Belt stay healthy?

Like I said, it’s a great ballpark.

Marc: was there ever much of a narrative about what happened to Kahnle? If he was even 75% of what he was 16/17, would the yankees pen have been the best ever?

Jay Jaffe: His command was off and his velocity was way down, and so the Yankees stashed him in the minors (thereby clawing back some service time, I think). A fully functioning Kahnle would have strengthened the bullpen but the thing you have to remember is that it was always going to be a rarity to have so many hard-throwing relievers healthy and effective at the same time, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that at least one of them fell out of whack.

Jake Junis Priest: You need to come to the West Coast! Playoff games starting at 5 is life changing.

Jay Jaffe: It would be lovely to cover some postseason baseball on the west coast but it’s not in the cards for me this season (neither Emma nor I can really travel during the playoffs without placing an undue burden on the other one with regards to child care). The Yankees’ elimination means that I’ve probably visited my last press box for the year, but at least the commute to and from the couch and the home office is short.

Bjorn from Swedish Sex Dungeon: What percent chance the Royals misread their situation this offseason and spend on another round of mediocre veteran free agents?

Jay Jaffe: I don’t think what they did was a misreading so much as a refusal to go the drastic rebuild route. I’m sure they’ll stock up on mediocrity and remain in the 60-win range rather than the 50-win range.

A Tribe Called Kipnis: Do you expect a decent jump in votes for most HOF ballot holdovers with Rivera the only newcomer with a shot at immediate induction?  (Halladay looks destined to the Mussina zone)

Jay Jaffe: I think Halladay’s death strongly increases the likelihood that he’ll be elected, and quickly. Rivera is obviously the top candidate but new guys like Pettitte and Helton will pull votes as well. I expect we’ll see Edgar Martinez come close (if not over and PLEASE let it be OVER) to 75% and many of the compelling holdovers to gain ground, with Mussina probably the best positioned, Rolen probably the most in need in order to get his candidacy on path, and Walker with a late run that will help to position him for a better fate in front of the Today’s Game committee down the road.

Roger: Would you rather have Christian Yelich on his existing contract (controlled through 2022 for about 52 million) or Bryce Harper on a 10-year, 350 million dollar deal?

Jay Jaffe: that’s a pretty easy call for Yelich, a comparatively risk-free move if the only alternative is a megadeal for Harper.

Willie hears ya Willie dont care: What is the Dodgers’ contingency plan if they lose Kershaw?

Jay Jaffe: If Kersahw were to leave, I suspect Corbin and Keuchel would be their top targets via free agency, and reacquiring Greinke may be another option if the Dbacks are desperate enough to move him within the division. They’ve got plenty of depth with which to pursue other trades, as well.

Dan: I know you’re sticking with baseball-reference WAR for JAWS, and I’m completely fine with that, but have you ever considered writing a piece on the difference if you use fangraphs WAR? For instance, Andy Pettite has 60.2 career/34.1 peak using b-r, but is 68.9/36.4 on this site. Most players won’t have that big of a gap, but it seems potentially interesting.

Jay Jaffe: At some point, yes, I’ll probably take some kind of look at what the ramifications of fWAR, but I’m not porting JAWS over anytime soon. I just don’t think fWAR does great at handling low-K, low-HR periods when it comes to pitcher value.

Matt: I meant that comment re: Mets GM to mean more about the next Gm after the one to be hired this offseason. Say the Mets hire Larocque or somebody else over their heads and the situation devolves (which is something that can always happen with this franchise), would MLB then feel compelled to do something?

Jay Jaffe: You’re talking about two steps worth of hypotheticals, at which point you can make up all kinds of scenarios whose likelihoods are probably very slim.

Bobbb: Do the Dodgers resign Kershaw past 5 years? What AAV, $30M? Does a 5/150 deal get it done?

Jay Jaffe: Eh, I just don’t know. I think 5/$150M might be a bit high as far as a proper valuation goes, but I also think the Dodgers will be willing to overpay where few other teams will unless they’re trying to buy some credibility from their fans.

adambulldog: Graig Nettles for Hall of Fame? He is very close to the JAWS standard. Does his ALCS MVP award push him over the top for you? What about his salacious book, Balls?

Jay Jaffe: I’ve always thought highly of Nettles — his defensive wizardry, particularly in Game 3 of the 1978 World Series, left an indelible impression on my childhood. I think he got a raw deal from voters due to his low batting average and failure to end Brooks Robinson’s streak of 37 straight Gold Gloves. He’s basically right at the career/peak/JAWS standards for 3B but does poorly on the Hall of Fame Monitor; a single ALCS MVP doesn’t mean a whole lot in that context.

Maybe 15-20 years ago ,I picked up a copy of Balls and read maybe the  first 50 pages of it and enjoyed, but I left it at one East Village taqueria or another and never replaced it.

Acuña Matata: Edgar has to be a shoe-in for the Hall this time right?

Jay Jaffe: He got 70.4% last time around. I’d like to think he’s a sure thing but the crowded ballot always makes me nervous, and I’d take nothing for granted with regards to him finding the remaining votes (maybe 20?) he needs. It probably works out for him, but he needs a whip like Jonah Keri was for Tim Raines in order to be a shoe-in.

Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : Maybe I’m just a bitter Mets fan, but it seems to me that the Brewers got awfully lucky this year. They traded for Yelich and signed Cain, both of whom had MVP-type years. They signed Jhoulys Chacín, and he had the best year of his career. They traded a top prospect, Lewis Brinson, who kind of bombed. When the Mets trade away prospects, they turn into Nolan Ryans. When they sign free agents, they turn into Anthony Swarzack. When they trade for veterans, they turn into Jim Fregosi. Why do the baseball gods hate us so?

Jay Jaffe: Probably because of  your moral failings. Are you a lousy tipper at restaurants? Ever kill a bug for no reason? Pee with the seat down at a friend’s house? Drive 45 mph in a 20 mph zone? I think we can definitively trace all of the Mets’ problems to fans doing stuff like that.

Mike : Would the Yankees consider going for Machado and Harper, and using the opener strategy with Loaisiga, Sheffield, and German to go with Tanaka and Severino?

Jay Jaffe: Put down the bong, Mike. There’s absolutely no way they’re getting that crazy with the rotation, and they already have one of the sport’s biggest contracts in Stanton. With a crowded outfield even if they decline Gardner’s option, I’m skeptical that they pursue Harper; Machado seems more likely, as a 3B, which would open up a trade of Andujar.

Bottom line is they have a lot of options this winter but Sign Expensive Hitters and Neglect the Rotation seems pretty unlikely.

tokenpadre: What should the Yankees do with Andujar? Keep at third? Move to 1B/LF? Trade?

Jay Jaffe: I think it all depends upon whether Machado is willing to play 3B and interested in signing with the Yankees. If not, I think you give him another year to try improving at 3B. LF probably isn’t an option because the asymmetry of Yankee Stadium makes it almost a requirement to have a CF-type out there (like Gardner or eventually Frazier).

kderg: If you had a vote in 2011, would you have voted for Kevin Brown for HOF? Do you think he ever has a chance to get in?

Jay Jaffe: I wasn’t particularly gung-ho on him at the time (see https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/12611/prospectus-hit-a…) but he wasn’t that far off the mark using BP WAR (which I used for JAWS until the 2013 ballot). I think he looks a bit better in hindsight, but he wasn’t exactly loved universally AND he was in the Mitchell Report.  
Never is a long time but I don’t expect to see him in Cooperstown anytime soon.

Matt: How were Scientists?

Jay Jaffe: Oh man, that show was fantastic! I’m so glad I went.

For those who don’t know… the Scientists were an Australian band that I think could best be described as some unholy swamp punk amalgamation of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Stooges. They were active in the late ’70s and ’80s, introduced to my ears in the early ’80s thanks to a Sub Pop compilation (they were a big influence on Mudhoney, for one), and only this year reunited for their first ever US tour (they played a reunion one-off in 2010).

Jay Jaffe: I wanted to go from the moment their two shows in Brooklyn were announced but chose to wait on tickets until MLB revealed its postseason schedule, and in the meantime the show sold out. After failing to come up with a ticket, I went straight to the venue in hopes that somebody would have a spare, and sure enough, when I naively asked at the door despite a sign that said SHOW SOLD OUT. NO TICKETS AVAILABLE was told that a guy who was already in the venue had a spare and to ask at the back desk. Voila, I was in! and the show was outstanding.

Fat Matt: I don’t think Abreu is a hall of famer, but will he last more than a year on the ballot when he becomes eligible?

Jay Jaffe: I’d be surprised. At best he’d get Wagneresque support in the 10% range.

Jeff: Short of on the books bankruptcy or some kind of Donald Sterling-esque malfeasance, will there ever be anything that compels MLB to solve the Wilpon issue?

Jay Jaffe: Nope.

Trent: Sale, Machado, Harper, or Yelich: Which of the 2010 first round draft picks will end his career with the most WAR (for reference, Sale has a sizeable lead by bWAR, but the others obviously have youth on their side: https://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?year_ID=2010&draft_round=1&d…)

Jay Jaffe: My money is on Machado, who’s got the lead among the three position players and plays the toughest position even if he moves to 3B, which is to say that he’ll continue to accrue value more quickly than the others.

High Strikes Low Balls: Do you feel your stache carries on the legacy of Burt Reynolds?

Jay Jaffe: No one person’s stache can do that alone but I’d like to think mine helps. It certainly owes Burt a debt.

NatsFan: What does a Rendon extension look like?  That’s the move the Nats need to make this offseason IMO.

Jay Jaffe: Good question. I haven’t thought too hard about what kind of numbers would look like, but as he’s just a year from free agency, and as the Nationals are, how do you say, dysfunctional, i’m not sold on the idea he should pursue an extension there rather than testing the market.

Guest: Boston needs to target some relievers in the offseason right? I doubt the Barnes/Workman/ Brasier trio will function as well without Kimbrel at the back

Jay Jaffe: BREAKING: Every team needs to target some relievers in the offseason. And at the July 31 and August 31 deadlines.

We’ll see how October plays out, but of course if Kimbrel walks they’ll need to signficantly revamp the unit. While I think they’d love to keep Kimbrel, they ran a $233 million payroll this year, and don’t have a whole lot coming off the books.

Sad fan : I don’t see a logical landing spot for Harper.  Even DC doesn’t make sense.  Where does he end up?

Jay Jaffe: The Cubs make some sense to me (they could trade Schwarber) as do the Dodgers and Giants. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he stayed in Washington. Whatever deal he gets, I strongly suspect it will have an opt out to allow him to re-test the market in 2-3 years and hopefully hit it on the heels of a better walk year.

Hazeltine: What would a contract look like for Nolan Arenado if he were a FA? Would it be more appealing to trade for him and get him under contract or to pursue Manny Machado?

Jay Jaffe: It wouldn’t surprise me if Arenado got a six- or seven-year deal north of $200 million at all. I can’t see him not testing the free agent market, given that, so trading a big package for him only to let him walk in a year makes little sense. If you want that caliber of talent, you go after Machado now or you sit on your hands for a year.

Rockie Dangerfield: I’m seeing an alarming number of Rockies fans champing at the bit to trade Arenado this winter.  That seems premature to me.  He doesn’t have enough team control remaining to bring back a huge haul, and moving him would torpedo the team’s chances for next season.  What do you think?

Jay Jaffe: i sort of get the reasoning. Their lineup is so incredibly stars-and-scrubby (Arenado, Story and Blackmon were the only above-average hitters) that maybe they can hope they can upgrade multiple positions when dealing Arenado. To me, though, squandering this wealth of young pitching that they’ve quietly assembled is a mistake. I think being aggressive in the free agent market to try one more shot with Arenado — say, by signing Harper, who would hit 50 home runs while playing half his games at Coors — is a better play.

Andy: Is Ohtani going to play exclusively DH next year? Could he play 1B while recovering from TJ? Is it risky to throw a baseball at all in that situation, or only to throw it hard, many times?

Jay Jaffe: If the Angels didn’t use Ohtani in the field when he was healthy, what makes you think they would when he’s recovering? There’s no way they risk him playing the field next year, at an unfamiliar position, if they intend to keep him pitching.

Jay Jaffe: OK folks, I’ve got to go chase a 2-year-old around, and tonight hopefully catch up on Better Call Saul and Lodge 49. Thanks for stopping by, and get your arm in shape for the LCS, because we might need a few innings from you.

Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.

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Just to follow up on that last question: The reason the Angels didn’t play Ohtani in the field when he was healthy might have been partly because of concern of risk to his arm, but much of it was because it was just too much on his plate. Besides just playing games as a DH and a pitcher, he had to prepare for both. The workload was so much more than what a player normally faces that he had to sit out games to maintain it. In that situation, adding preparation as a 1B would have been too much.

Next year, though, he won’t be spending any time preparing to pitch. It will all be about hitting. So my original question remains: Does TJ surgery preclude the relatively little throwing that a 1B has to engage in? I’m sure Scioscia wouldn’t play Ohtani at first—this is a manager who rested Trout after he had missed most of August–but I’m not so sure whoever replaces Scioscia wouldn’t. Not saying Ohtani would play there often, but why not once in a while, if only in games that had already been pretty much decided?

One reason for doing so could be insurance. Suppose he returns from the surgery worse than before? He might still be a serviceable pitcher, but if he’s not elite at that position, given how well he’s proved so far to be at hitting, it might make sense for him to do that full-time. And if that’s the case, why waste his athleticism at DH?