Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 6/16/20

2:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of my Tuesday chat. It looks like we’re in a dark place today as far as the 2020 season is concerned, but I’m hearing a bit more optimism this morning (and afternoon) than I did last night, mainly because Manfred and the owners have put themselves in an untenable position and something has to give.

2:03
STT Fan: what do you think is the % chance we see MLB this year?

2:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I still think it’s above 50%. There’s just too much money for it not to happen, but man, getting a season off the ground has been and will continue to be ugly

2:04
Robert: Is Manfred somehow worse than selig?

2:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Been thinking about this a lot, and in some ways, it’s like trying to choose your least favorite child from among two failsons.

That’s the easy answer. The reality is that one has to remember that the commissioner isn’t an independent operator or neutral party. He serves as the representative of the owners, and so implicit in his actions is that he has the backing of three-quarters of them needed to stay in power.

For all of the dark places that Bud Selig took baseball, he was very skilled at marshaling a consensus among his fellow owners, satisfying their very disparate needs among big- and small-market owners, labor hawks and doves, et cetera, which is why he was able to stay in power so long and effect so much change.

Manfred doesn’t seem to have that knack, at least to the same degree, but it may also be true that he’s working with a worse set of owners — ones that realize they can take their teams into the tank without worrying about whether they’ll make a profit, and so on.

2:11
Guest: Jay, first off great job on Long Gone Summer. Second, who do we suspect are the 6 owners that don’t want to have a season are? OAK, CHC, LAA, PIT for sure, right? Who are the other two?

2:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Figuring out who the hardliners are — and Ken Rosenthal has said eight, which makes more sense than the six, because that’s enough to block a deal — should be easier than it is. I’ve heard that Arte Moreno is one of them, which is odd until you consider the massive contracts he’s got to pay out. The Cubs, based on all the Ricketts’ money comments over the past year, may be one of them. I’ve heard rumors about the Rockies, and it stands to reason the Mets are always looking for ways not to spend. The White Sox, given Jerry Reinsdorf’s long history of hardline stances towards labor, have to be among them. But I’m just spitballing here, going off rumors rather than hard reporting.

2:15
Bob: did Manfred f-up so badly that he gets canned? Or the PA demands and gets his resignation?

2:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pfft. He works for the owners, and this miserable cul de sac is apparently what enough of them want. The players asking for his resignation would only harden the owners’ resolve to keep him.

2:16
Guest: Thoughts on the Big Mac, Sosa docu?

2:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Mainly, while I have some minor nits to pick, I enjoyed the doc and was glad to have played a small part – we’ve gotten enough Steroid Era Was Bad lectures over the past two decades already. I see a number of people critical over how much less of Sosa there was than McGwire, which isn’t something I felt strongly about when I watched, but I wonder if I should have had a more critical eye on that balance.

2:20
Max: What is your sense on where the public is, siding with owners or players or still equally distributing blame?

2:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I see more support for the players than I expected, which I chalk up more to the anticharisma of Rob Manfred than the messaging of the union. But I still see too many fans blaming the players first, as though they don’t deserve workplace rights or fair compensation for their skills and — particularly important here — the risks they’re assuming by playing during a pandemic.

2:22
A Boy Named Yu: With the short season, which player has the best chances of hitting .400 for “the year”?

2:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If I had to guess, it’s probably somebody like DJ LeMahieu or Jeff McNeil, a high-average, low-strikeout hitter who got his AVG up to the .340s or .350s last year because of a particularly red-hot stretch.

2:26
Zonk: Heading out to Pleasant Point this year?  I hear alot of folks are staying away….Mac’s is open, but alot of places looking at a grim summer, especialy the galleries

2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I actually just arrived in Wellfleet yesterday. Not gonna be the same as our usual annual trips but just having more space and child care (in the form of my saintly mother-in-law) for the kiddo to roam, and some great seafood to eat, will be enough. Prior to the drive yesterday, it was over 3 months since I had been on anything with wheels — I’d been walking within about a 2.5-mile radius since the beginning of March.

2:28
Mike Ortman: It’s funny how once you’re invested in a player’s HOF chances how bad you want the season to continue just so they don’t lose a season.  Who do you think is more deserving at Catcher:  Yadi or Buster?

2:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m far more supportive of the idea that Posey — a former MVP, batting champ, and outstanding pitch framer — has a strong Hall case than Molina, who never had the offense to be in that class (but who has championships and pitch framing in common). I think the outage hurts the former more; the latter has less time remaining, but isn’t going to add much to a case that depends a whole lot on softer factors than Posey’s does.

I wrote about both, as well as several other active players with Hall candidacies on the horizon, here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/missed-time-and-the-hall-of-fame-part-2/ as part of a three-part series; you can change the last digit to get to the other two parts.

2:32
Quarantino Martinez: Even if owners do lose some money in 2020 (a big if, imo), surely it’s good for their longterm finances to have baseball thrive.

2:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes.

2:33
Jimmy: Do you think Rob Manfred is buying time (two weeks?) until he can enact a 50-game season without the players filing for grievance?

2:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That was a view put forth on Twitter by Trevor Bauer in this thread (and perhaps others elsewhere, but he did the “show your work” part), and it certainly makes some sense. There’s too much time on the calendar to impose 50 games while claiming you’ve also made a good faith effort to play as many games as possible  

So, Rob, explain to us how you can be 100% sure that there’s going to be baseball but not confident there will be baseball at the same time? hmmm. What changed between those statements 🤔🤔 Players told you to set the season, but it’s too early to set the season right now,
15 Jun 2020
2:37
bighen: Jay – I get the guys that have very little leverage taking underslot bonuses but what about the guy that just went #2 to the Orioles?  Why wouldn’t he basically say “you just used the #2 pick in the draft on me, I want the slot money for that pick.  If you want to waste that pick, good luck”.   I understand it’s more prestigious to go high etc.  but is it that the teams have already worked it out with the agents or ?  I just feel like that guy and guys like him have leverage, the team is unlikely to punt on the pick.  Maybe i’m missing something obvious

2:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK, i’m not the draft/prospect expert, but it seems to me that Heston Kjerstad, the player in question, would have even less leverage going back to school for his senior year and risking going through the draft again. I know he was considered a reach at number two so I imagine that there were predraft discussions with the of what his $ number would be, and that this isn’t going to turn into a bloody mess for both sides.

2:39
Derek: Is there any good baseball news right now?

2:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The KBO is a lot of fun!

2:40
Lorenzo: Do you think ROY eligibility will be prorated?  If so, rookies this season with around 45 AB or 20 IP will not qualify for the award in 2021.

2:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A friend asked me about this the other day and I just don’t know; it’s so far down on the list of pressing issues that I’m not sure it’s been discussed seriously in anything I’ve read. I suspect that the thresholds will remain untouched; if you have less than 50 IP/130 AB this year and haven’t gone over on the service time qualifier as well, you’re still eligible next year, and if that makes for a larger-than-usual crop of rookies, so be it.

2:43
John: Maybe I’m being naive when I ask this question, but I’d like to get a little clarification. MLB earns approximately $10,000,000,000 per year according to most sources. When they claim they will lose roughly $640,000 for every game played in an 81 game season do they expect us to believe they would finish the season in the red for $777,600,000 (that’s $640,000 x 81 games x 15 home teams) or will they just earn $10 Billion minus the $777.6 Million ?

2:43
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Craig Edwards is far more on top of the numbers than I am. See here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/parsing-mlbs-claim-of-a-4-billion-loss/ and check with him if you need clarification.

2:43
Max: There was talk of expanding the Arizona Fall League, but with a spike of cases in Arizona, will we even have an AFL?

2:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a damn good question and right now I suspect the answer is quite possibly no.

2:44
Bob Loblaw’s Knoblauch: Have you still been enjoying the KBO? Any recommendations for a player or team that has flown under the radar thus far that you’ve been entertained by?

2:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t had as much time to watch the KBO in the past two weeks as before, due to other work, but yes, I’m still enjoying it very much. As for under-the-radar guys, check out Jin-sung Kang, the NC Dinos’ first baseman who now has enough plate appearances to qualify in the batting race and is hitting .450. He wasn’t expected to be a starter, and he’s hardly the biggest star on a team that has Sung-Bum Na, Euiji Yang, and more, but wow.

2:46
Matthew Cleator: Afternoon Jay. Recently got a subscription to your site from the UK and loving it so far thank you 🙂 Let’s say we have a 50 ish game season… what would/could that mean draft wise? Is a lottery more likely? Go Tigers.

2:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: First, thanks for the support! it’s much appreciated by me and all of my colleagues.

I’m skeptical that they’d turn the draft into a lottery but you’re right that a 50ish-game season creates problems, so what I can imagine happening is some kind of weighting with the previous year’s record (s) incorporated. Mind you, I haven’t heard much in this area, and somebody like Eric Longenhagen, who’s our prospect expert, is likely to know more.

2:48
Zonk: If baseball does happen this year, what is free agency going to look like this offseason?

2:49
Avatar Jay Jaffe: exponentially worse than the past two winters, I fear. practically every team will claim they don’t have the money to make big signings, and the urge to punish the players for sticking together will be through the roof.

2:49
Jesse: Are there any great baseball books for toddlers? I’m just about Pout Pout Fished out.

2:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: oh my god i hate that book with a passion because of the read-aloud option on the Epic platform — my daughter has gone over that one dozens of times, and  whoever read that book needs to go to The Hague immediately.

2:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: We were gifted a very cute board book version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame that my daughter loves https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/239066/take-me-out-to-the-bal…

Dinosaur Bob was a huge hit with her https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/books/dinosaur-bob-and-his-adventu…
as was Bats at the Ballgame http://www.brianlies.com/bats-at-the-ballgame

2:54
Duck: If the Manfred-to-Yankees letter mentions Yankees’ 2015-2016 (2017?) sign stealing schemes, which have been detailed by the Athletic, and assuming the Yankees stopped such scheme after the league made clear that it was illegal, how big of a deal would it be that Manfred/the MLB knew about such schemes and intentionally hid that information in their public press release?

2:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, if that’s the case, it won’t be a PR win for Manfred or the Yankees, but I don’t think it ends up amounting to much because of which side of the September 2017 memo it landed on.

2:55
Jimmy Jazz: Hi Jay – Heading to Eastham in a couple of weeks – any favorite eating spots that you can recommend?

2:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes but with the caveat that I have no idea of their current status… Blackfish in Truro is our favorite special-occasion restaurant in this general vicinity. Mac’s Shack and Winslow Tavern are standbys for going upscale. Moby Dick’s and Arnold’s probably the best for the fried stuff.

2:58
Duck: I’ve been watching a lot of CPBL, and very little KBO. I might try to watch some NPB when that starts up. Do you think you’ll jump on NPB when it gets going, stick with KBO?

2:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I guess it depends on how easy NPB is to watch — the KBO has that ESPN deal, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s been the separator between that and the CPBL; I tried to subscribe to CPBL TV and never got the transaction to go through.

3:00
WinTwins0410: Jay, the Athletic’s Levi Weaver recently wrote a piece on Buddy Bell being snubbed — hard — for the Hall (he only got 1.7% in his only year on the ballot).  I admit I’d never considered Bell in that light until recently — high WAR, great fielder, but fell short on some other metrics.  Two questions: 1) What are your thoughts on Buddy’s suitability for the Hall?  And 2) Related but different question: How likely is it that Bell lands on a future vets committee ballot?

3:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As, I’m quoted multiple times within that piece, you’ve already gotten a good chunk of my thoughts. Bell, not Graig Nettles, inherited the annual AL 3B Gold Glove after Brooks Robinson’s time was done – he won six to Nettles’ 2 or 3, had a higher batting average but slightly lower OPS+ than Nettles, and nowhere near the platform given that he never played in (let alone dazzled in) a postseason. He wouldn’t be a bad choice for the Hall but it’s tough to make a case he should cut the line ahead of Rolen, Allen, Boyer, Nettles, or even Bando, all of whom are within a few points of the WAR/JAWS standards in either direction. Particularly given how much work his defense is doing within that ranking, I don’t see him as getting on a ballot anytime soon — his offense and general profile just don’t scream for a vote.

3:06
Nat: With your new focus on KBO, have you started to learn the Korean alphabet (Hangul)? I have been starting to piece it together during late night baby care sessions and I’m finding it extremely satisfying to sound out the players’ names on their jerseys.

3:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Alas, I’m nowhere on that front. Very intimidated, in fact.

3:07
Dave: Short of accepting less than 100% of their pro rated salary, is there any reasonable concession the players can offer that would make the owners sign off on a deal? I’d have thought the offer of expanded playoffs and all the accompanying TV money would get it done, but apparently not.

3:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I still think it’s the guarantee of an expanded postseason that will be the biggest factor in getting this done. It’s the biggest chip the players have, and particularly with a shorter season, a better way to ensure that the “right” teams at least get a chance to compete for the championship even with a slow start or finish to the wee season.

3:10
Gus-bert: So, what happens to players who were on one year contracts (Mookie Betts) for 2020 only.  They’re free agents and the traded players were had for nothing?

3:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes. A tough break but the Dodgers, in particular, will survive the loss of Verdugo, and if they want Betts baldly enough they can put on their big boy pants and bid on his services for 2021 and beyond, as I said last week.

3:12
stever20: how many guys will get QO’s this offseason?

3:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the QO may well be a bargaining chip in the negotiations — eliminating it as a small way to juice free agency next winter. So I wouldn’t think too hard yet about who might get one.

3:14
Duck: Thanks for the responses Jay! Good point on KBO/NPB. But re: CPBL, I think most of games are back to being freely streamed on Twitter. That’s one of the main reasons I’ve kept with it – it fits my morning nicely. Really appreciate the Asian baseball coverage from Fangraphs this year though.

3:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thank you! Hoping to keep up the beat at least a bit myself

3:15
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Recs for that part of Cape Cod:
Briar Lane Jams and Jellies in Wellfleet is fantastic, always stock up when I’m in the area.
The Knack in Orleans is a solid fast casual option and will be open this summer.
Sesuit Harbor Cafe’s seared tuna sandwich is to die for.
I’m not a lobster roll guy, but my family will vouch for Young’s.
Hot Chocolate Sparrow for all your silly coffee needs. Big fan of the frozen monkey (cold hot chocolate and banana).
Cottage Street Bakery. Get the dirt bombs.

3:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks

3:15
Guest: With the Kjerstad pick isn’t it that they agree to the deal before pick is made? Basically, we will pick you here if you agree to this much money. If you don’t you will get picked later and make less.

3:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s the general way those things go down; I must concede I haven’t been paying close enough attention to know the particulars on this one.

3:17
Quarantino Martinez: Re: baseball books for kids – Hector the Collector (by Emily Beeny), while not mostly about baseball, does bring up baseball card collecting (and is generally adorable).

3:17
Mike Ortman: As relations get worse between the owners and the players, too bad we won’t get to see Marvin Miller’s induction into the Hall this summer.  Any word so far on how that will look next summer?  Is someone speaking on his behalf, since the family has said no dice?

3:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I hadn’t heard much about how that might go before the whole shebang got postponed. I think there’s some thought that a Hall of Famer like Joe Torre, who was big in the union during Miller’s tenure, could be somebody who would speak

3:19
Mad Joe-Don: Right now there are 235 major-league players in the Hall of Fame (I’m not worrying about execs, Negro-Leaguers, etc.) Do you think that number is about right? If not, about how big should the hall be?

3:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Really tough to say. I can ID about 20 guys that I feel strongly about election, but i can also point to guys who shouldn’t be in, and with every year, the total number of how big it “should” be grows.

3:20
Curtis: Does a COVID Flag still fly forever?  Would it mean less to the Yankees and more to say the Mariners or Rangers?

3:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eh, possibly. I don’t think the Dodgers celebrate 1981 less than their other titles, though, so I’m not sure the Yankees would forget about winning this one.

3:22
Murph: What do you think Mookie Betts signs for in the off-season? There’s at least two teams (LAD + BOS) with strong incentives to sign him. No way he gets the $400+ million he was asking for, but is 300+ still attainable?

3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think we have to see if there’s a season before knowing whether $300M is attainable but my hunch is still yes.

3:24
Zonk: Friendly Fisherman on Route 6 in Eastham has the best Lobster Rolls….don’t take my word for it, Yankee Magazine sez so!

3:25
Soundwave: Is it just the boyish good looks that make Will Smith remind me of Buster Posey or is there something similar there in the skill-set?

3:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A better question for Longenhagen than myself but I think that despite the strong rookie showing, there are more questions about Smith’s hit tool given his high K rate than there were about Posey

3:28
Mike Ortman: Do you think the ASG in LA will just be postponed to next year?

3:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Next year is already scheduled for Atlanta, so my guess is that the Dodgers would get 2022 (if it’s not already spoken for internally) or ’23.

3:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, it’s my time to sign off. Thanks so much for showing up — biggest turnout in awhile! – and asking some great questions. We’ll do this again next week, and in the meantime, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the situation for 2020 MLB looks better at this time next week. Stay safe!

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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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