Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 7/7/20

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to my first chat of … summer camp? Spring training 2.0? The long-delayed preseason? I’m still working on what to call it. What’s in no dispute is that I’d like to start the chat with some entry music from the most badass soundtrack composer of all, Ennio Morricone:

Tacoby Bellsbury: Is the bungled start to testing grievable? If so, do you expect the players to pursue that as an Avenue? Should they?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a good question, and not being a lawyer myself, I don’t have a definitive answer. I do know that the discussion of grievances with  regards to the negotiations concerning the return to play centered around whether MLB was making a good-faith effort to schedule as many games as possible, so I would think that the union would have to prove something similar here, and I bet it would be harder given that they did in fact sign off on the health and safety protocol involving this testing regimen just a couple of weeks ago.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eugene Freedman, who often writes about labor relations, including for FanGraphs, would be a better person to ask on that score.

@RuthKapelus @NickFrancona @barrysvrluga I haven’t received/read the agreement on health and safety, so I don’t know the answer. Normally, the remedy for a dispute over implementation & interpretation of a negotiated agreement is the parties’ grievance procedure. But, in the case of imminent safety and health 1/
7 Jul 2020
TheBighen: First round of Mets bids are due 7/9 — whatever that means.  Think Jeff Wilpon gets to stay on as COO for 5 years for all buyers?  Seemed like a reasonable request last time. Cohen has to wind up with this team right?  He’s a lifelong Mets fan and has the most cash, I just can’t see him letting someone else buy the team.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have to admit my eyebrows did some funny things when I saw the report that Cohen is re-entering the fray. I’d assume that he’s the best capitalized of any potential buyer, and no, I don’t think Jeff Wilpon is going to get five years this time around because I don’t think the Wilpons have the kind of leverage that they believed they did a few months ago.

Chris: Should the braves trade for a left handed vet to replace markakis? Will trading for vets preseason be tougher because of the opt out possibility?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the answer might hinge upon how optimistic the Braves are regarding Freddie Freeman’s return from COVID-19, as he’s far more central to the lineup, where Markakis has been just a hair above replacement level in two seasons out of the past three.

That said, the fact that Ender Inciarte and Yonder Alonso are now anticipated to be the team’s top lefty-swinging options seems suboptimal, which ain’t great. I do think that any potential trades will be done with the understanding that the player(s) being exchanged aren’t planning to opt out.

Estevao: I know they made a lot of bad moves towards the end but isn’t it time to question Al Avila even a little bit?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: toward the end of what? I’m not sure anybody has stopped questioning Al Avila since he took over in late 2015, at least when it comes to assembling the big league roster, but he does have a pretty packed system right now.

Lorenzo: Isn’t there an insane risk trading for rental players this season considering the season could be scrapped at any given time?  Would the return for a guy like Lindor be less than normal because of this?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t know that the risk is *insane* but I do think it’s unlikely we’d see a Betts-level blockbuster for a high-profile pending free agent in this environment. I think trades are going to be difficult to pull off, though we will see some.

WinTwins0410: Jay, who is the Hall member whose enshrinement you favored the most, in spite of (weak) advanced stats? That is, who is perhaps a guy who had lousy WAR but deserved to be in, in your estimation, due to the “fame” side of the equation? (Possible example: Lou Brock, whose 3,000 hits and onetime SB record are belied by a 45 WAR.  Future possible example: Curt Flood, perhaps.). Who jumps out at you as a clear HoFer despite not having a good (or even a so-so) advanced-stats case?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Brock is a good example of a guy who fits that bill — WAR doesn’t love him but yes, he had the single-season and all-time SB records, plus some outstanding postseason performances and stuck around long enough to get 3,000 hits; there’s no way that guy belongs outside the Hall of Fame given all that context. Separately, I’m in favor of both the high-peak/short career Sandy Koufax and the long-career/lower-peak Don Sutton because of the weight of their accomplishments beyond WAR.

Yasiel puig: Do you think he’ll be signed?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes. I thought he was close to a deal with the Giants and would be signed as soon as the rosters were unfrozen. Not sure if that has fallen apart or what.

Joe Schmo: How can there possibly be a season? If NYS has a 14 day quarantine for people coming in from Florida and Georgia how can teams from those states play the Yankees and Mets? I’m sure other states have restrictions as well, I’m just familiar with the ones here in NY.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I believe that Cuomo and other governors are making high-profile exceptions for professional athletes by classifying them as “essential workers,” which is pretty awkward at best. But we all know the sway that pro teams have over local governments; this is just one more example, which isn’t to say that it’s right

Estevao: When I said they I meant Detroit under Dave at the end which left Avila in a tricky spot taking over but it seems like Detroit hasn’t been able to develop unexpected talent, Detroit hasn’t developed many assets in these last four years

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Dombrowski left the system in a pretty dire state; I have the Baseball America 2020 Prospect Handbook in front of me and the org rankings from 2016-18 go 30, 26, 25, 20, 14. I know we have them higher on THE BOARD (4th in total value) https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2020-in-season-prospect-… and see a whole lot of near-ready talent. I’m not sure having “unexpected” talent in the intermediate term would have been a huge help; they did get unlucky with Fulmer’s injury before they could trade him, but it’s not like he was a nobody beforehand.

Gord: Do you know if broadcasts are gonna have fake crowd noise? I just think the sound of everyone’s voice echoing is gonna be weird.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve seen it noted that some broadcasters are considering it. Haven’t thought too hard about it myself. Having watched enough crowdless KBO, I don’t think the broadcasts need it, but then again, what goes on at an NC Dinos game even now is different than what goes on in a more straightlaced Yankee Stadium

Mr. Metro: Aside from deGrom and Lugo, help me be optimistic about the rest of the Mets’ staff.  I’m skeptical about Stroman as a number 2 and I see nothing else but question marks.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Losing Syndergaard is a blow, no doubt. I look at the rest of the rotation — Stroman, Porcello, Matz, and Wacha — as notable more for high floors than for high ceilings; Stroman seems more like a reliable third starter than a true number two. FWIW, they’re 9th in our rotation depth chart, which ain’t too shabby when you’re down a man due to TJ.

Bullpen-wise, I like Diaz and Betances as a bounceback candidates and will note that our depth charts have them 4th there — they’re deep in name-brand option and should have fewer Quad-A types than years past.

Estevao: Have you been playing a lot of OOTP during this downtime?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Alas, no. I played it a bit in April but put it aside; these days, I don’t really have an abundance of time to explore it, or to do much besides work and parent. It took two weeks of semi-vacation for me to complete my first book since the pandemic started, and it was a 250-pager at that.

LAA: I’m a little disappointed in the schedule – I was hoping they would do 5 game series to reduce travel, and I like the idea of seeing a team 5 games in a row so you face their whole rotation. Do you think shorter series keeps up fan interest? Not sure else longer series weren’t considered.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: IIRC the major complaint with the 5-day series is that it can set up weekend days as travel days. I haven’t looked closely at the schedule but I know that the league likes to use Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays as potential off days, and I guess those 5-gamers don’t play nice in that context.

Estevao: Zack Greinke is a fascinating case. Can you think of a player that played for as many teams during the ‘prime” of his career? He isn’t the same as he once was but his move to the Astros wasn’t a journeyman move

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Greinke has played with 6 teams, but there are Hall of Famers with more. Via https://baseballhall.org/discover-more/stories/hall-of-famer-facts/hal…

Alomar, Roberto – 7
Brouthers, Dan – 11
Gossage, Goose – 9
Grimes, Burleigh – 7
Henderson, Rickey – 9
Hoyt, Waite – 7
Kelly, King – 7
O’Rourke, Jim – 8
Perry, Gaylord – 8
Simmons, Al – 7
Smith, Lee – 8
White, Deacon – 9
Wilhelm, Hoyt – 9

Many of those guys have one or two teams they’re most identified with (Henderson and the A’s, Smith and the Cubs, Simmons and the A’s, W. Hoyt and the Yankees, Alomar and the Blue Jays). Greinke has been more fluid even in his prime.

Ed: Do you know the reasoning behind not expanding the playoffs for this season? Not even one wild card?  I was surprised to see the same structure..

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The two sides of the negotiation couldn’t agree on the basics of dollars and games played, and the expanded postseason was a chip that was left on the table when both sides walked away. I’ve seen reports that he players are still open to discussing it but have a hard time imagining it will be implemented this year. As a cash grab for next year, though, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Trent Hauser: Any guess for the best player traded in 2020?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Throwing a dart, I’ll say Yoenis Cespedes, if he’s healthy, because there aren’t enough ABs to keep everybody on that roster satisfied and because there’s no love lost between player and team; that said, I think his full no-trade is applicable even after the restructuring of his contract.

Them: How guilty should I feel about hoping Freddie Freeman recovers completely but very, very, very slowly?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Guilty enough to be called out in a chat. Anything less than “I hope he recovers completely” is total horseshit.

TwinsFan: What do you think the Twins should do with their rotation? 5 or 6 men?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not a big believer in a six-man rotation, and have a hard time imagining there will be difficulty finding room for Pineda once his suspension is served given the presences of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey.

Hall of fame: if there is no season this year there be a year in the mid 2020s without any 1st year names on the ballot. Do you think that will help some guys get elected

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Generally, years with no good first-year candidates — such as this coming one — are good ones for holdovers to be considered. To what extent is a matter worthy of closer study, particularly given that this year’s crop may not have a single guy who gets more than 5% needed to stay on the ballot.

WinTwins0410: Jay, what are your thoughts on Jim Edmonds and the Hall?  Should he be in?  And do you think Edmonds will he eventually make his way onto a small committee ballot?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m open to Edmonds but feel less strongly than I do about him than about Beltran, Lofton, and Andruw Jones, given JAWS and other considerations (though I’m still mulling how much the sign-stealing stuff should weigh with regards to Beltran) https://www.si.com/mlb/2015/12/14/jaws-2016-hall-of-fame-ballot-jim-ed…

Estevao: What are your thoughts on Chase Utley as a Hall of Famer. By WAR he rates as a significantly more productive player than Craig Biggie but not nearly the compiler that the latter was

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I know it’s a typo but Craig Biggie cracks me up. I’m fully on board with Utley as a HOFer and intend to vote for him when he becomes eligible. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/retiring-mauer-and-utley-both-worthy-of-co…

Trent Hauser: What kind of player does a 60 game season after a multi month shutdown favor, if any?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Who can say? We’re in uncharted territory. I do think that most guys who were coming off injuries as of March/April are much better off now, but that’s not exactly an earth-shaking revelation

Mookie: What sort of deal do you think Cookie Betts will get?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: More cookies than he can eat in one sitting.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If he makes it through the season healthy I still think he’ll get more money and a higher AAV  than Harper and Machado but I don’t think he’ll set any records.

Nick Stone: The Utley/Edmonds/Andruw questions made me wonder. All else being equal, who has a better shot of getting in; guys who fall off a cliff prematurely, or guys who get a late start? Or does it not matter?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: While Jones is an example of a cautionary tale of the first category, I think that guys who get an early start are much better off from a HOF standpoint. it’s worth a closer look, though.

Them: OK, fine, I hope Freddie recovers in time to start the season and bats .400, but that cluster luck rewards the undercriticized dirtbags in the Braves ownership/organization with a 20 win season. Closer to reasonable?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t have a problem with anyone rooting for that outcome.

Harmon Ripkowski: Hi! Do you think there are any pre 2000 relief pitchers who may yet see the HOF? i.e. Hiller, Tekulve, Quis, etc…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Even as a huge fan of Teke and Quis, I suspect that the door is closed on those guys. Can’t really see what would bring them back into the conversation given how deep the 1970s-80s in particular are in terms of position player candidates.

SP jaws: The top of the list is filled with pre liveball era guys which makes sense since they pitched an insane amount of innings. Have you ever considered dividing it up into a pre 1920 list and a post one? Relievers already get considered separately

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve futzed around with some ideas, including basing peak on a capped number of innings, but nothing I’m ready to publish.

Mark: Do you think the decision to suspend the minor league season affects certain teams like Seattle and San Diego worse than others?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s probably a better question for Eric Longenhagen. I think that any team with a heavy investment in prospects is getting hosed because so many of those guys are losing developmental time, and if lower down, time before they need to be added to the 40-man roster. I don’t really have a great sense of which systems have more talent lower down rather than closer to ready.

AC/SD: Who are the top three contenders for Mookie, aside from the Dodgers?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thinking in terms of big-market teams that have less $ committed in 2021 based on Craig Edwards’ work https://blogs.fangraphs.com/projecting-team-payrolls-for-the-2021-seas…), the Rangers and Giants stand out. If the Mets are Wilpon-free by then, maybe they get involved, too, but that’s a VERY big if.

Chris: Kyle seager seems like a perfect fit for the braves.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, in Camargo and Riley they have multiple options at 3B, though both have played other positions, but from the standpoint of adding a lefty bat to the lineup, he makes sense, and lord knows the team has the pitching depth to strike a deal if that’s what the Mariners seek in return.

Beetlejuice: Over/Under games (per team) played in front of some fans this year? If it’s zero, does that give the owners some cover for not wanting to pay players pro-rata for more than 60 games?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: fewer than 100 with fans, total. Maybe even fewer than 50 games with fans, and I think that anything greater than zero is probably a bad idea, though maybe by September, my answer will be different.

Harmon Ripkowski: Speaking of the 70s, 80s stars, with Dewey getting 8 votes, Parker 7, Garvey and Whitaker 6, should those 4 be seen as the favorites in…22 or 23?  I like Evans and Whitaker, can’t see Garvey getting to 12, wonder if Parker’s support is more, how do I say, personal than statistical?  Or I may be really wrong, I dunno

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m more impressed by the level of support for the first-timers (Evans and Whitaker) than the 3rd- or 4th timers (Parker and Garvey), especially as the latter pair failed to generate much heat on the BBWAA ballots.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, it’s time for me to go. Thanks so much for stopping by today, and please stay safe.

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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