Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 3/31/17 by Jeff Sullivan March 31, 2017 9:05 Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends 9:05 Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat 9:05 Bork: Hello, friend! 9:05 Jeff Sullivan: Hello friend 9:05 Query: The chat will begin soon! 9:05 Jeff Sullivan: I have good(?) news! 9:06 JTT: Jeff, Brandon Guyer has basically kept his career afloat by learning that he is good at getting hit by baseballs on purpose. He was hit 31 times in only 345PA, basically 9% of his PA. How often would you be willing to get beaned to stay in the big leagues, keeping in mind your 0 years of service time would only earn you league minimum. I realize with no other skills you would need to get hit in essentially every plate appearance to justify a roster spot, but where would you personally draw the line? I would stick it out for 43 days for pension purposes and afterwards pray to god that I got hit hard enough to warrant a long DL stint then call it quits. 9:07 Jeff Sullivan: I have a great deal of interest in spending one year making half a million dollars. However I do not have a great deal of interest in going out there and embarrassing myself in front of so many people. And, presumably, I wouldn’t get hit in every plate appearance, and so in the other ones I would make automatic outs. That sucks! 9:07 Jeff Sullivan: Guyer’s figured it out for himself. He has real skill and real power, and when he gets drilled, it’s usually in the leg. That’s not so bad. I love that he exists 9:08 TF Fredrik: Do you think players have aged better or are starting to age better because of how seriously athletes have started paying attention to diet, year round work outs, mental health, less partying & just an overall healthy living mindset? That Sawchik article on Bautista got me thinking about it. I am sure we can or someone has looked into the data about war vs age and if its improving but I don’t think ive seen something like that. 9:09 Jeff Sullivan: It makes all the sense in the world to me that aging curves should drop off more gradually now. Not so much relative to the PED era, since, you know, PEDs, but relative to what’s naturally established. 9:09 Jeff Sullivan: However, while players might be aging better these days, those veterans are still expensive. Far more expensive, every single time, than a comparable player from the farm. So although aging should be more graceful, the trend toward younger employment isn’t going to stop until or unless more money gets shifted to the earlier parts of players’ careers 9:10 merlin: What do you make of Drew Smyly’s “soggy arm”? Do you think this is like a dead arm or something worse, and how much time do you think he will miss? 9:11 Jeff Sullivan: Shoulder/labrum problems in 2015. This isn’t coming out of nowhere. I can’t sit here and tell you exactly what the prognosis is, but at this point I’d count on closer to 20 starts than 30 9:11 Jeff Sullivan: It sucks, too, because the WBC got me pretty excited to watch Smyly in the regular season 9:12 TF Fredrik: For pitching prospects, is there an innings number that once they hit you mentally look at them as this is what they are? Or do you think pitchers skills are fluid enough that you always think someone could possibly have more or just bloom late? Pitchers career trajectories are always a fascinating topic for me. 9:13 Jeff Sullivan: I’m less like that for pitchers than for hitters. I’m kind of a pitcher optimist, but I believe in talent and I believe that small changes can have big effects. I think what I’d want to know more about is a given player’s dedication to his craft — someone more committed and creative would probably be more likely to have it all click at a non-traditional age 9:13 Zonk: I am sad that Muni Kawasaki is heading back to Japan. How awesome was he for baseball? Remember Jeff, a monkey never cramps! 9:14 Jeff Sullivan: A hundred years ago, a number of baseball teams kept what were basically human mascots. Kawasaki was kind of a modern-day human mascot. 9:15 Jeff Sullivan: He is, probably, the most likable baseball player of the decade 9:15 Steve: What type of numbers would it take for Machado to win the AL MVP this year? 9:16 Jeff Sullivan: A minimum of like a 140 wRC+, and the Orioles need to make the playoffs 9:16 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know which is less likely 9:17 TF Fredrik: If some teams really go with a 13 man pitching staff, isn’t this trying to take advantage of 3rd time thru penalty and general effectiveness of fresh relievers we see in post season and try to extract it over the course of a season? Having 13 pitchers seems to be making a choice you value this over flexibility & potential rest for position players by having the short bench. 9:18 Jeff Sullivan: I think the…Marlins…have been thinking about a 13-man pitching staff. Which makes sense for them, because their rotation is bad, and their lineup is a bunch of everyday players, with no platoons. Those position players still will need their rest, and their bench is no good, either, but that’s a pitching staff that will require creative use for optimal results 9:18 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t usually recommend a 13-man pitching staff, but the Marlins are exceptional 9:19 (not that) James: Are there any players for whom it wouldn’t make sense to try hitting with more of an uppercut? The easy answer would seem to be fast guys with no power, but I’m thinking players more like Dansby Swanson. He’s projected for maybe 15 HR per year during his peak. I’m wondering if most players like that could theoretically benefit from altering their swing to try and hit for more power. Like, do they all have untapped power? Is someone like Justin Turner a prime example, or is he one of a few genuine outliers in the game who maybe had untapped power and a swing change just helped them reach it? 9:19 Jeff Sullivan: I think that, generally, the majority of baseball players would be better if they swung with more of an uppercut. Exceptions would be the lightest hitters around, like Billy Hamilton, Jose Iglesias, Billy Burns, etc. Air balls do them no good. 9:20 Jeff Sullivan: Now, with major leaguers, you get into an issue of adaptability. These players have been swinging like they’ve swung forever, and some guys can’t change as easily as others. And so when you have, say, Giancarlo Stanton swinging flat and destroying every other pitch, there’s no reason to try to change that 9:21 Jeff Sullivan: I think Gregory Polanco said he has trouble when he tries to hit the ball in the air. Although, on the other hand, he just dramatically improved his fly-ball rate, so I don’t know what to do with that 9:21 Peter Griffin: Amir Garrett or Skaggs in a 12-team? Where are they in your OD pitcher rankings? 9:21 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t have OD pitcher rankings 9:21 Jeff Sullivan: I like all pitchers 9:22 Jeff Sullivan: I would trust Tyler Skaggs more because he has actually been a good pitcher in the major leagues 9:23 Glasnow Half Full: Am I the Pirates 5th starter? 9:23 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know if you’ll break camp as such, and there are some service-time issues as usual, but I like the 25% spring K-BB% 9:24 Jeff Sullivan: You’ll see plenty of action in the bigs this year 9:24 CaptainPeanutbutter: The braves are projected to be terrible. Why does the media and some people keep commenting about them being possible contenders? Do people really think they are much better than their projections and why? 9:25 Jeff Sullivan: They were a .500 team in the second half and they added a few recognizable veterans. But more importantly, the front office has been selling this Braves team as much improved, and a lot of people who do the coverage don’t bother to think any deeper than that 9:25 Wright: Are you concerned about Nola’s spring so far? 18 runs ins 19 innings is still alarming even in ST 9:25 Jeff Sullivan: I’m concerned about anyone coming off an arm injury and Nola will need to re-prove himself to me 9:26 Jeff Sullivan: Still love him, on ability, but I need to know he’s OK 9:26 Bork: I know this isn’t the case, but if an MLB team wanted to murder August they’ve pretty much set themselves up perfectly, haven’t they? Nobody knows where he is or hears from him, and we all just kind of accept it. OH GOD IS AUGUST OKAY 9:26 Jeff Sullivan: He texted me yesterday! 9:26 Jeff Sullivan: Or someone texted me yesterday using his phone 9:27 Jeff Sullivan: I guess I don’t know if he’s alive 9:27 ChiSox2020: Jose Quintana said he’s a huge fan of the Jimmy Fallon show. Does that explain why teams don’t want him in their clubhouse? 9:27 Jeff Sullivan: Baseball players have awful taste 9:27 Charlie: I just want to say that I appreciate the way you reply to every email sent to Effectively Wild. 9:28 Jeff Sullivan: It’s not every email. That would kill me. And if there are *more* emails, well, I’m about tapped out. So! 9:28 Ross: What is your current level of worry about Smyly and the M’s staff as a whole? 9:28 Jeff Sullivan: 7/10, 6/10 9:28 Jeff Sullivan: 3/10 for the bullpen 9:29 Mike sixel: Should I go try to see whales from the shore this afternoon, taste beer, hike near the city, or finish packing for my move this weekend? Re baseball: How long until the Twins get at least one playoff vote in staff predictions? 9:29 Jeff Sullivan: Go hike at Cape Lookout to search for whales at the end. Six years 9:30 Jack: Which managers get fired this year? 9:31 Jeff Sullivan: I’m guessing Ausmus is on top of the probability list 9:32 SunTrust: How do park-adjusted stats account for a brand-new park like Suntrust field? Assume it’s neutral until proven otherwise? Or make an estimate based on the park dimensions? 9:33 Jeff Sullivan: So, I don’t actually know, but what I *assume* is that they call everything neutral, and then the numbers are adjusted retroactively when we have a year+ of new data 9:33 Jeff Sullivan: You can see this with the Marlins: http://www.fangraphs.com/guts.aspx?type=pf&season=2015&teamid=20 9:34 Jeff Sullivan: There’s a shift in 2012, corresponding to the team moving into Marlins Park, but I don’t know when that shift worked its way into the numbers. I bet, in actual 2012, it was even 100s across the board 9:34 Jeff Sullivan: Too dangerous to assume park effects based on dimensions 9:34 merlin: Name one (or more than one) pitcher not thought of a true ace today that will possibly be thought of as a true ace heading into 2018 9:34 Jeff Sullivan: JAMES 9:34 Jeff Sullivan: PAXTONNNNNNNNNNNN 9:35 Glasnow Half Full: 6 months from now the Pirates have won the NL Central. How did it happen? 9:35 Jeff Sullivan: You threw strikes 9:35 Jeff Sullivan: McCutchen bounced most of the way back, the good players stayed healthy, Rivero became an elite reliever 9:35 Jeff Sullivan: One of the Cubs’ good starters got hurt early on 9:38 Maddux in a Row: Hey Jeff. I heard a less-than-serious proposal that teams should list a reliever as their starter for road games so they can pinch hit for him in the event they bat around in the first, and still not lose their “real” starter. Besides the sad loss of the W for the true starter, is this within the rules? 9:39 Jeff Sullivan: I can’t find, in a quick search, whether this violates any rules. I could see it either way. But it comes with the downside of burning that one pitcher. Granted, in theory, you could just list the previous day’s starter 9:39 Jeff Sullivan: Feels like the sort of thing that would’ve been tried if it were doable, but you’d talking about such a small potential impact, given the unlikelihood of a massive top of the first 9:40 Jeff Sullivan: And if you *have* such a massive top of the first, the leverage of that PH at-bat is low 9:40 Ted: With Bryant eligible for 4 years of arbitration starting next year, what might a 4 year extension look like? Or does Boras just laugh Theo off the phone when he calls… 9:42 Jeff Sullivan: Bryant already has a signing bonus of almost $7 million, plus his other income since. He’s not as incentivized as, say, Jose Ramirez to sign an extension at this point. I know the Nationals agreed to a small two-year extension a few years back with Bryce Harper, so that’s a data point 9:43 Jeff Sullivan: I guess you asked about four years, not five years or more. Can’t see why Bryant would want to give up free-agency years. 9:44 Jeff Sullivan: I could see something like four years and $55 – 60 million 9:45 Simon: I own Madson & Casilla as a dual closer threat. Would you dump Casilla for a better RP option, or hold steady to see how things shake out the first month. 9:45 Jeff Sullivan: The A’s have like five or six pretty good relievers who could close. Good luck 9:46 Tim: Who wins Sunday’s Opening Day games? On a related note, holy shit, real baseball starts in 49 hours 9:46 Jeff Sullivan: Rays, Giants, Cubs 9:47 Jeff Sullivan: Spring training feels longer and stupider every single year 9:47 Don: I saw you predicted 3 AL West teams to make the playoffs. Is that more because you think the AL will be bad or that they are really all that good? 9:48 Jeff Sullivan: Lots of teams in the mix for the AL wild card between the ALW and the ALE. I think the ALE is deeper so they’re going to beat up on one another. But I made that prediction before the Smyly news so you can bump the Mariners and and replace them with the Jays or something 9:50 Zonk: Do you think we’ve seen the last of the bad contracts for Cuban veterans? I am thinking of Rusney, Olivera, Arruebarrena, Tomas, that other Dodgers guy, probably others… 9:51 Jeff Sullivan: I never want to predict the last of something, but the exemption age was raised in the CBA from 23 to 25. International spending now has hard caps, so any Cuban player 24 or younger is going to be bound by those, and how many really talented Cubans will remain there until they’re 25 or older? 9:52 Nick: As someone whose job it is to write about baseball, are you especially excited for the season to begin so that you have new baseball to discuss? I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to come up with ideas for multiple quality articles a day 2.5 months after the baseball season has ended. 9:52 Jeff Sullivan: Yesterday I published articles about Aaron Altherr and Austin Pruitt 9:52 Jeff Sullivan: Don’t get me wrong, I like Aaron Altherr and Austin Pruitt, but those are tough subjects to sell. The season needs to begin a month and a half ago 9:53 njs: my friend’s son and (d’backs gm) mike hazen’s son are on the same little league team… how creepy is it for me to show up at games just to ask big mike questions (and, if you could ask him a question, what would it be)? 9:53 Jeff Sullivan: “How annoying would it be if I just asked you a bunch of baseball questions?” 9:55 Jeff Sullivan: If you want to *really* get in, pretend like you don’t know who he is, and try to befriend him via other methods. Don’t talk about baseball at all! Everybody tries to talk to him about baseball. Talk about grilling, or yardwork, or mortgate refinancing, or whatever nonsense it is adults like to discuss 9:56 Jeff Sullivan: And then when you’re actual real-life friends, *then* you begin to pry. Like a secret agent! 9:56 JRuby: It’s being reported that, in addition to the $49.5 million dollar value of the contract, the Texas Rangers are also giving Rougned Odor two horses. Roy Oswalt is said to have received a bulldozer from the Astros, and that same organization famously gave Charlie Kerfield his requested 37 boxes of orange Jello as part of his contract. What weird perk would you ask for in Jeff Sullivan contract negotiations? 9:57 Jeff Sullivan: I want to be able to spend time with the penguins and otters at the zoo 9:57 Jeff Sullivan: So, I would request special access at the zoo 9:57 Ben: How do trades happen? Is it two GMs calling each other and hashing it out over several hours? Is it just emails/texts back and forth? How real time is the offering and refusing/accepting different proposals of players? 9:58 Jeff Sullivan: They can go different ways, of course. Some trades happen in the blink of an eye. Some are kept on the backburner for literally months. Around the deadline, everything happens faster. Calls, texts, emails, everything. Everything gets used, and more people than just the general managers are involved 9:58 TotesMcGoats: Seeing a lot of opinions on Aaron Nola… The velocity is back up at 95 mpb, but he has been getting touched up this spring. What are your thoughts on him? Even if he bounces back, do you see an innings limit being implemented? 9:59 Jeff Sullivan: Healthy Aaron Nola is a borderline ace. If he is healthy, then the Phillies will be thrilled, as they gradually build up his arm strength 9:59 LarryA: What team is the furthest from reaching the playoffs? (My vote is Royals, Reds or Marlins) 9:59 Jeff Sullivan: I think it’s the Reds 9:59 Jeff Sullivan: A year from now, could easily be the Royals 10:00 Ross: What kind of record for the M’s first month of 26 games would give you confidence they have a good shot at the postseason? What would doom them? 10:00 Jeff Sullivan: 15-11, 8-18 10:00 Jeff Sullivan: Not going to be a lot of ground to give with the Rangers, Yankees, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Blue Jays, and everyone else in the same mix 10:01 Jimbo: Opinion on Hunter Renfroe? At what time will Manuel Margot come up for good? 10:01 Jeff Sullivan: Margot should spend most of the year in the majors. I don’t usually love players with Renfroe’s profile but I’m willing to see if his approach improves this first half 10:01 Jeff Sullivan: Jankowski and Dickerson are also interesting. Interesting four-man outfield! (When Dickerson is healthy) 10:02 Kimball: Why do you think the ALW is stronger than the ALE? 10:02 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t 10:03 Brandon Juice Geluso: Bird finishes this year as a top ____ offensive 1B (offensive WAR or wRC+, etc.). 10:03 Jeff Sullivan: 15, with a good shot at 10 10:04 Don: How soon before we see everyday rosters greater than 25 men? 10:04 Jeff Sullivan: I bet we could see 26 in the next CBA. Got fairly close to doing that this time around 10:05 Taco: Hi Jeff- do you think Glasnow is ready for the majors now or would he be better off spending time in AAA to work some more ? He was shaky last season in the majors 10:05 Jeff Sullivan: I’m usually in favor of letting these wild power arms straighten it out in Triple-A, but the Pirates know more about Glasnow’s new delivery than I do. I haven’t been watching him this spring with my own eyes 10:06 Sirras: As an accountant, I am contractually obligated to remind the US readers out there (most of us) that the tax deadline is coming soon and your accountant is already swamped. Get him/her/them your stuff! Or file your own return! 10:06 Jeff Sullivan: Do your taxes! 10:06 Jeff Sullivan: It’s the law! 10:06 The Average Sports Fan: I too am on the Aaron Altherr bandwagon. Is 100-120 games a realistic hope for him this year? 10:07 Jeff Sullivan: I think he’ll get into a bunch of games if only because he’s going to be used as a corner OF defensive replacement. Hoping for 400 PA, while 250-300 is more realistic for now 10:07 Q-Ball: What contending teams do you feel like have a limited contention window that is closing? Would you put WSN, BAL, TOR in that category? Who else? 10:07 Jeff Sullivan: Orioles, Jays, Rangers. That’s the top of my list 10:08 v2micca: I was supposed to file my taxes this weekend. With baseball back, there is in increasing chance that doesn’t happen. 10:08 Jeff Sullivan: Do your taxes! 10:09 Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Is there a sabermetric equivalent of the Mendoza line? 10:09 Jeff Sullivan: 0 WAR? 10:09 Jeff Sullivan: Makes it pretty easy, and it comes with obvious meaning 10:09 Maddux in a Row: Lucas Duda is the most polarizing player (Top 10 1B! Mets should just cut him!) no one really cares to talk about. Agree? 10:09 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know if those two can work together in the same statement 10:10 Jeff Sullivan: Can a player be both polarizing and un-discussed at the same time? 10:10 Jeff Sullivan: But I do agree that no one really *wants* to have a conversation about Lucas Duda, which is funny, considering how many people do want to have a conversation about Greg Bird 10:11 CubFan: You expecting much from Price if/when he comes back from injury? My concern is he’s pitching with a partial tear of his UCL. In an earlier interview he said he was told if he were younger he’d have the surgery? 10:11 Jeff Sullivan: My expectations for Price and, therefore, the Red Sox, have been reduced significantly 10:11 Steve: What’s your outlook on the Twins? They were certainly unlucky last season (BaseRuns had them at 71 wins), and there is some offensive potential. 10:11 Jeff Sullivan: There will be a lot of runs 10:11 Jeff Sullivan: A lot of runs are going to score in Twins games 10:12 Erik: Are Britton, Miller, and Chapman worse off for being left-handed? If you aren’t going to be a specialist, it’s better to have the platoon advantave more often, right? 10:13 Jeff Sullivan: I think they benefit some from possessing uncommon stuff that comes from an uncommon side. So I don’t think it’s much of a disadvantage overall 10:15 Jeff Sullivan: 2 minutes, phone call 10:17 Q-Ball: Is there anything we should look for in spring training as far as carryover to regular season? Not the stats, but what…velocity? Power surge? 10:17 Jeff Sullivan: Velocity is a good one. You can keep track of big changes in strikeout rates. While it would take some digging, you might be able to learn from changes in GB%, too 10:18 Jeff Sullivan: I think that, like, John Jaso has dramatically trimmed his grounder rate this spring? Which ties in to what the Pirates were saying about production coming in the air. So there’s something to think about 10:19 Carl: I was looking through the SP team projections and ranked them 1-30 and then I was looking at the SP WAR ranks from last year and ranked them 1-30 and the projections were higher for every single rank by an average of 2.5 wins (75 wins total). Do you think the SP WAR projections need to be recalibrated? I know injuries happen but that should be baked into the projection and it seems off to me that there is such a massive projection improvement. 10:20 Jeff Sullivan: One thing to consider is that in any given year there are only 1,000 WAR, but for some reason we’re currently projecting for like 1,050. That’s just an overshoot I can’t explain. 10:22 Jeff Sullivan: Right now, we’re projecting starters to be worth about 38% of all WAR. Over the past three actual seasons, starters have been worth about 34% of all WAR 10:23 Jeff Sullivan: That points to something being off. Maybe we’re too conservative when it comes to trying to fold in injury risk. Plans, as you know, go awry. What’s most important, though, is the order, the relative rankings of teams. Those should remain valid 10:23 Dustin: My son was born Wednesday. Will he grow to hate me for raising him a Braves fan? 10:23 Jeff Sullivan: He’ll grow to hate you for a whole bunch of reasons 10:24 Timbersnaps: do you enjoy laughter? 10:24 Jeff Sullivan: Yes 10:24 Ross: Rank the likeliness of a 5 WAR season: Cano, Seager, Paxton, Felix and Segura. 10:24 Jeff Sullivan: From greatest to least: Cano, Seager, Segura, Paxton, Felix 10:24 Jeff Sullivan: 🙁 10:25 John: On the subject of a long DL stints, you think a AAAA player has ever faked an injury when he thinks he’s getting sent down soon? Get an extra 15-60 days major league pay 10:25 Jeff Sullivan: That’s a good question. I assume in any given situation like that, the team would look at things extra closely. 10:25 Josh: What stories are you most interested tracking in the first month? HR rate continuing? KEON BROXTON contact rate? Anything you want to look at on May 1st to see what happened? 10:26 Jeff Sullivan: I’ll be watching the homer rate and the strike-zone size 10:26 Jeff Sullivan: Also will be looking for a continuation of the rumored fly-ball trend 10:26 Other Matt: Kinda of feel oddly optimistic about this Yankees team snagging a WC spot. Potentially very good offense, elite bullpen, and interesting rotation. Agree? 10:26 Jeff Sullivan: They are being very underrated by people who seem to write them off as a potential contender. They’re more good than bad! 10:29 Keith Hernandez: Jeff – Why wouldn’t the Mets try to bring Wheeler up later in the year so he could help during the playoff push/during the playoffs? Assuming he makes all his starts, they’ll have to shut him down around July with the innings limit. 10:30 Jeff Sullivan: What’s he going to do until then? What if the Mets need every win they can get right now? You don’t want to assume too much. Just give Wheeler some regular rest from the outset 10:30 Eldridge Cleaver: Hey Jeff, great post on the Diamondbacks new pitching approach. I’m wondering if this potential trend could have a broader impact this year since there have been less ‘low pitches’ across the league in ST. Are teams anticipating a rise in the lower part of the strikezone and adapting somewhat preemptively? Any way to posit hitters or pitchers who this may help/hurt? 10:30 Jeff Sullivan: This is something I’ll be watching for in April. Don’t want to arrive at any conclusions yet. But I’ve heard from some players that they feel like the zone is definitely smaller. 10:31 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think anything will be dramatic and, remember, the zone has been dropping every year for seven or eight seasons. So nothing is flipping overnight. More like just returning to where things were a few years ago. There’s no one who is only good because of the lower margin of the strike zone 10:31 Erik Guy: How much does Mike Trout playing on the West Coast hurt the MLB product? I have to think from a popularity, growth and overall economic standpoint, MLB would prefer to see him on the East Coast and broadcast on every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday night game. I know collusion is bad, but if it means more Trout, that’s good right? This needs to happen. 10:32 Jeff Sullivan: Here’s the good news: There are lots of really good baseball players. Mike Trout is only one of them 10:32 Jeff Sullivan: Go make the most of Manny Machado and Mookie Betts 10:32 Jeff Sullivan: And Giancarlo Stanton, just because 10:33 Erik: In terms of being able to project future performance, which position is worst? RP and C always seem fraught with peril when it comes to identifying players who will be good and then once they are good, they don’t implode quickly. 10:33 Jeff Sullivan: I think relievers are hard, because their sample sizes are always small, and a reliever can get good or bad almost overnight 10:33 Jeff Sullivan: Like, last year, Edwin Diaz went from off the radar to one of the five or ten best relievers in the world. What! 10:34 RABBINICAL COLLEGE GUY: Can you anticipate the Braves having better pitching at home than on the road for this season? 10:34 Jeff Sullivan: Teams pretty much always pitch better at home than on the road 10:34 Query: What’re your thoughts on the reported Yadi extension. The Cards are paying a lot for an aging, singles hitting, arm-weakening catcher, but only three years doesn’t sound burdensome at all. Is it going to stunt Carson Kelly’s development? Or does Kelly become trade bait? 10:35 Jeff Sullivan: The parallels to the late Jeter contract are appropriate, but I think Molina still has enough in there to mostly justify the cost. He seemingly remains at least an average hitter, and they’d argue his leadership and game management are second to none 10:36 Jeff Sullivan: Given that Carson Kelly is 22 years old, the transition here could and should be seamless 10:36 Ross: When we look back on the 2017 season who will be the M’s biggest overachiever? Biggest disappointment? 10:37 Jeff Sullivan: I’ll say Mitch Haniger and Hisashi Iwakuma, assuming Yovani Gallardo doesn’t count 10:37 Relsh: Happy Baseball, Jeff. Do you have any Opening Day traditions/rituals you take part in? 10:38 Jeff Sullivan: Nope. I basically just wake up a little happier. I won’t even be around for this Sunday’s opening day. Monday will be fun 10:38 Jake: Thoughts on Zack Wheeler making the Mets rotation? What are reasonable expectations? 10:38 Jeff Sullivan: Whatever your expectations are right now, lower them 10:39 Brendon: There’s been quite a bit written this year about how there’s no real division races and the big 6 teams are all being picked to win. Although, if you looking at the projected playoff odds, then chances of 6 winning their division is only 14.3% (assuming each division probability is an independent event which is not a true assumption but should be close). What are you’re thoughts that the fact that all 6 will win is highly unlikely? 10:39 Jeff Sullivan: I think the Red Sox seem most vulnerable, with Price hurting and Thornburg hurting. They’re still good, and probably the best team in the East, but it’s close now 10:40 Nate: 3 AL West teams in the playoffs? What makes you think that’s going to happen? 10:40 Jeff Sullivan: I think three AL West teams are good 10:41 Keeper? I hardly know her: What are your thoughts on pomeranz’s injury? Beginning of the end of the season? 10:41 Jeff Sullivan: I’m not so concerned about him since he’s still on track to make his scheduled first start. He’s a risk, but I don’t think right now he’s a heightened risk 10:42 Oops I Borked it Again: Do you see Yandy Diaz sticking with the Indians beyond when Kipnis returns? 10:42 Jeff Sullivan: It’s not hard to see. It’ll be a matter of how they want to manage his playing time, because when Kipnis is back, there are going to be a bunch of regulars playing all the time 10:43 DTH: Much has been made recently of hitters increasing swing plane to try to hit more fly balls and improve slugging. Do you think pitchers will adjust and throw higher in the zone this season, or will it take another year or two for pitchers/catchers/managers to adjust? 10:43 Jeff Sullivan: I’m sure it’s already starting. Just as there’s been more talk about hitting the ball in the air, there’s been more talk about high-rise fastballs in the upper half. Game plans can be customized for individual hitters, and I don’t know why that would stop 10:44 Mike: New evidence shows that Mike Hauschild did not in fact IBB Dustin Garneau to get to a relief pitcher in a spring training game, but walked him on 3 balls because probably the umpire forgot what was happening. Will you apologize for besmirching the good name of Jeff Bannister? 10:44 Jeff Sullivan: There’s definitely at least some kind of glitch. I’d need to see the evidence for myself 10:44 Mike: Is Greg Maddox the R.Kelly of baseball? 10:44 Jeff Sullivan: Greg Maddux is disgusting 10:44 Jeff Sullivan: So great, and disgusting 10:45 Sonny: Pick any player in the league and you can move one of his tool grades up 10 but reduce another by 10. Would this even matter for someone like Trout? 10:45 Jeff Sullivan: Stanton hit tool up 10, throwing arm down 10. Superstar! 10:45 soaktherich: Re: spying on Mike Hazen, I once sat next to Andie Macdowell on a transatlantic flight and used the same technique to talk to her (wasn’t interested in anything more than talk but it was interesting to talk to a bona fide movie star). Started with “So, what do you do for a living?” Had a nice chat. She owns a forest in Montana. It was amazingly awkward when the young stewardess fawned all over her. 10:45 Jeff Sullivan: Always go after the famous types by pretending you don’t know that they’re famous! 10:46 Josh R: Are you particularly surprised at any player that has been sent down for the start of the season? 10:46 Jeff Sullivan: Nothing so far has stopped me in my tracks, but I think that’s mostly because I’ve realized in the last few years that opening-day assignments don’t really matter. You can miss an opening-day roster and be up within a week and a half 10:47 Neel: How long would you expect smyly to be out? 10:47 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know anything about his injury but given the timing, even something fairly minor would require him to build his arm back up 10:48 Bert Campaneris: Loved the Pruitt article. I was aware of his pinpoint command based on my OOTP experience. Anyways, how soon until other teams begin adopting the trend? Tampa did it with Erasmo; Detroit did similar with Smyly, and so on but it’s never caught on. There are so many starters that should be developed just for that role, every org has one. What would be your timetable? AND what sort of attained success would push teams to heavily consider it? Thanks for chatting, Jeff. 10:49 Jeff Sullivan: I think it’s already underway. The Astros really have something enviable in Devenski/Feliz. The Marlins have Phelps, the Rays had Erasmo last year, the Pirates have Nicasio, and so on. Teams are going to need more innings from relievers and this is a really useful compromise between keeping a guy as a starter or moving him to one-inning bullpen use 10:49 Erik: Any idea why August’s current employer is unknown? The team thinks it would be a competitive disadvantage if competing teams went back an read his old articles or something? That’s pretty cool if that’s the reason, I guess. 10:50 Jeff Sullivan: There is a good reason, but from the sounds of things, you could expect official word fairly shortly 10:50 Dan: How would you view Steven Matz going forward? Is he a top 25 pitcher when healthy? 10:50 Jeff Sullivan: That feels too aggressive, given he’s been pitching in the NL East 10:50 Brandon: Not even one FanGraphs writer picked the A’s as a potential sneaky playoff candidate, and understandably so. But what would have to happen for the A’s to compete for a playoff spot with their current roster? 10:51 Jeff Sullivan: I’m actually really interested in the A’s and I think they’ll be a lot better than the community. Their pitching staff is a lot of fun. But I think they’re more like an 81-win team than an 88-win team 10:51 Jeff Sullivan: Give ’em a healthy Gray and Doolittle and they’re dangerous 10:51 Wright: Messi doesn’t do his taxes, do I have to? 10:51 Jeff Sullivan: Do your taxes! 10:52 Samwise: Is there any potential 70+ hit tool player with a raw/game power 70+ out there in the minors now? 10:52 Jeff Sullivan: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2017-top-100-prospects/ 10:53 Jeff Sullivan: Eric has Moncada at 60/60. Benintendi at 70/55…Meadows at 70/60…that about covers it 10:53 E: What are the odds that Shelby Miller’s new found velocity and k% continue in to the regular season and he puts a 5 WAR season? 10:53 Jeff Sullivan: Remarkably low 10:53 Jeff Sullivan: But he’s going to be one of those guys where you’ll want to keep a close eye on his first month 10:54 Jeff Sullivan: Ditto Kendall Graveman. There have been reports that he’s touched 97-98 this spring 10:54 Jeff Sullivan: I’ve been waiting to write an article about him 10:54 SpicyBoy: Why aren’t park factors calculated on a cumulative basis rather than year-by-year? barring significant park renovations, I can’t see any reason why a park would play differently offensively one year that it would the next. It seems to me that having park factors be cumulative would eliminate noise in the data by increasing the sample size we#re evaluating the park on. 10:54 Jeff Sullivan: FanGraphs park factors are calculated based on several years of information 10:55 Jeff Sullivan: Just because you can see park factors for every individual year doesn’t mean they’re actually different 10:55 Jeff Sullivan: Now, some other places *do* calculate single-season park factors, but they’re wrong 10:56 Wes: Max Fried is 23 years old and still hasn’t pitched above A ball. Is that something to worry about or do you believe the Braves will push him aggressively? 10:56 Jeff Sullivan: Before this past year, Dylan Bundy had hardly pitched against advanced competition. Injuries ruin traditional timelines 10:57 Jeff Sullivan: Fried will rise quickly if he’s worth it 10:57 DTH: what does a post-Harper Nationals team look like? can they still be perennial contenders with Turner as their star, or does the aging core drag them back to the middle of the pack for a few years? 10:58 Jeff Sullivan: In 2014, Harper was not very good, and the Nats won 96 games. Last year, Harper was just fine, and the Nats won 95 games. When Harper flipped out and had a season for the ages, the Nats won just 83 games! 10:58 Jeff Sullivan: This doesn’t say anything about the Nationals’ future, and they have some issues to watch out for, but they are so much more than just Bryce Harper. They can survive the loss of Bryce Harper 10:59 Fred, Man: Rating out 10 on Manfred’s rein so far? 10:59 Jeff Sullivan: 7 or 8? Don’t agree with everything but I appreciate his open-mindedness 11:00 Kimball: Do you think Manfred (or people he listens to) 1) read Brisbee’s piece, and 2) see past the humor to the truth of it? And/or, do you think they already knew it, despite all the other crap they talk about/mess with? 11:00 Jeff Sullivan: They know, better than anyone, why games are longer. They’ve done their research. And it’s inevitable that we’re going to see pitch clocks in the major leagues, because players have gotten progressively slower year after year after year, and that has to stop 11:01 Jeff Sullivan: Same with the strike zone. It sounds crazy to lift the lower boundary, but then, without any intervention, the zone keeps sinking and getting bigger. Something has to be done 11:01 Shaemus: What do we call the 0-war line? The Montero Line? 11:01 Jeff Sullivan: Bloomquist 11:01 Terry’s Sarape: If Buxton can go .270 20/20 for 10 years with excellent defense, shouldn’t he/we be excited about that? 11:01 Jeff Sullivan: Yes, of course 11:02 Corey: What are the odds Austin Hedges actually pans out into a top 15 catcher? 11:02 Jeff Sullivan: 30%? 11:02 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know. His defense is already super good 11:02 ernie: what do you think of the twins’ decision to send park to the minors, despite his big spring? 11:02 Jeff Sullivan: I don’t like it, but I’ve long been a Park supporter 11:02 Terry’s Sarape: Which team has the strongest bench? 11:02 Jeff Sullivan: My default answer is usually the Dodgers 11:03 Bert Campaneris: If you had to rank them, how would you rank these rotations+bullpen: Reds, Angels and Padres. Am I missing a team? Is it fair to group these 3 teams? 11:03 Jeff Sullivan: Padres, Angels, Reds? I like San Diego’s potential bullpen a lot. The Reds are really screwed without Bailey and DeSclafani 11:03 Jeff Sullivan: as much as I like Iglesias and Lorenzen 11:03 ctw: more likely to finish the season as pirates closer – hudson or rivero? 11:03 Jeff Sullivan: Rivero 11:04 Shel Silverstein: What’s the timeline on Dahl? DL to start the season? 11:04 Jeff Sullivan: Sure looks that way 11:04 Eli: James Hoyt didn’t make the Astro’s bullpen. How many teams could he start the year in the majors for? 11:04 Jeff Sullivan: Almost all of them. He’s good enough, but he has options 11:05 Hurricane: What is your opinion on McCullers? Loved Dave’s piece today. 11:05 Jeff Sullivan: I like him plenty because he’s impossible to hit, but I still need to see progress in health and efficiency 11:05 Kimball: Following up, if you think ALE >= ALW, is that new since the soggy arm? Or do you really believe that a strong division can “beat up on itself” enough to let two weaker teams from other divisions sneak into the wildcards? I’ve always assumed that’s a fallacy — do you know if anyone’s ever studied it? 11:06 Jeff Sullivan: Strength of schedule effects are real. Now, I don’t think the bottom of the AL West is *bad*, but I could see it being worse than the bottom of the AL East. The most important thing here is that I just see a huge clump of teams within a few games of one another for the wild card slots. I like the M’s and Rangers, but it would take almost zero convincing for me to switch one or even both of those 11:06 Jeff Sullivan: and the Smyly news hurts 11:06 Evil Goatee Jeff: When can we expect a new Fangraphs iPhone application? 11:06 Jeff Sullivan: Never? 11:07 Jordan: Do you ever think about reading the other chats so you don’t answer the same question that’s been answered 5 times already each week, or do you think it’s interesting enough to see the variety of answers different FG authors give to the same questions? 11:07 Jeff Sullivan: I’m not going to put in the time to read every chat we do just to avoid that situation 11:08 Steve: How often are the depth charts updated? 11:08 Jeff Sullivan: Basically every day 11:08 Khrush Davis: If you could compare Triggs to another major leaguer, in terms of trajectory and stuff, who would it be? 11:09 Jeff Sullivan: I can see him being Graveman-y 11:09 CarrotJuice: Is it time to panic about Hector Rondon? 11:09 Jeff Sullivan: Players coming off arm injuries need to prove themselves all over again 11:09 Patrick: Will the Brewers be the most exciting team to watch this season? 11:09 Jeff Sullivan: No 11:10 Jack: Jays fans seem to disagree quite strongly with FanGraphs only ranking their rotation 16th. Do you think it’s too low? 11:10 Jeff Sullivan: Yes, if only because of the Estrada thing. But they really could use some depth 11:10 Jeff Sullivan: All right, I need to get rolling 11:11 Jeff Sullivan: So thank you everybody for hanging out, and I’m sorry for what I didn’t or couldn’t address. We’ll do it again next week at the same time, and until then, be well and have great days. Great days full of meaningful baseball!