Kevin Goldstein Chat – 2/22/21

12:00
Kevin Goldstein: Hi everyone. I would make a Monday joke here, but who keeps track of days anymore? Lots of great stuff on the site today. Eric and I discuss how teams will prepare for this years draft, RJ on the Mather mess and the usual great transaction analysis from the team. Hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen this year and if you haven’t already, consider becoming a member. Also, I’m podcasting again and you can find Episode 1 of Chin Music with my guest co-host David Roth and Pedro Moura on Dodgers stuff, it was a lot of fun and happy to be talking again. But enough about me, let’s get to you.

12:01
Chase: Thoughts on SF Giants currently and outlook on future? Farhan has done a nice job IMO

12:02
Kevin Goldstein: Farhan has done a nice job IMO as well. I think he’s great. He also seems to have to patience of ownership which allows him to do things the right way and not act rashly, which is a rare luxury. I especially liked the Sanchez signing. High risk, but big upside as well.

12:02
RP: Favorite Houston restaurants? Do you like banh mi?

12:04
Kevin Goldstein: I never lived in Houston, but had some great meals there. Favorite place by the ballpark is Irma’s Southwest, a Tex Mex place run by a great family. Quick lunches were usually at this dumpling place called Doozo’s in this weird mall/food court setting that was about a ten minute walk away.

12:04
Andrew: I really hate being a Mariners fan.

12:06
Kevin Goldstein: Yeah I get it. You’re mad, and you SHOULD be mad, but in some ways Mather is just saying the quiet part loud. He’s certainly not the only member of an ownership group who thinks this way. Not excusing it at all. Maybe I’m just cynical from eight years in baseball. I saw it and said, “of course he thinks that.” To be fair, lots of front office folks do NOT think this way.

12:06
Jack: Who was the best prospect you saw yourself who went bust?

12:07
Kevin Goldstein: I thought David Paulino was going to be a really good major league pitcher.

12:07
A big dumb idiot: I’ve been really taken aback knowing that FG playoff odds use the same playing time estimate for every simulation which seems odd to me. Do teams’ simulations account for the differing possibilities of injury?

12:08
Kevin Goldstein: I don’t know about every team’s simulations/projections. What I will say is that after spending three weeks here and looking closely at ZIPS and talking to Dan about it, the product you are getting here is major league quality.

12:08
Vince L.: Do orgs feed sites such as FanGraphs, BP, BA and MLB, with an information asymmetry about prospect rankings? In other words, who FG ranks as No. 1 is actually No. 7, and the “real” No. 1 is actually an IFA who hasn’t hit the States yet?

12:08
Kevin Goldstein: Some do for sure, yes. That’s why on the outside you need to diversify your sources.

12:09
Kate: I’m seeing pretty varying grades on Nick Gonzales’ speed.  Eric for instance has him at a 40, but I’ve seen him at a 50 (or even above) in various other places.  What’s the disconnect here?  I know Eric uses hand-timed home-to-first times, do others use a different measure?  Thanks!

12:10
Kevin Goldstein: H21 times are important, but I’ve always been in favor of a separate baserunning grade to measure impact. There are 50 speed guys who can really swipe a big or have a knack for taking extra bases on hits, and there are 60 runners who can’t.

12:10
Harrison: Did you have a more general form of statistical method that ended up being useful in uncovering guys from tiny schools, or did you specifically fit your model to certain parameters to figure out how to measure those guys? Or was it unrelated to statistical methods entirely?

12:11
Kevin Goldstein: It’s a mix. You can have a statistical method to identify targets at tiny schools, but then you have to scout ’em up to see if there’s anything actually there.

12:11
Becker: How do you prepare your coffee? You seem like a French Press Guy.

12:12
Kevin Goldstein: I am a French press guy, or more accurately, my lovely wife is a French press gal. She makes the coffee in the morning, I just pour a glass, put it in the freezer for a bit and make iced lattes every day.

12:13
Aaron G.: What, if anything, should we take away from the GCL/DSL?

12:13
Kevin Goldstein: If you have pitch data and video it can be very valuable, but the raw stat lines need to be taken with a gargantuan grain of salt.

12:14
Guest: I understand working in a front office has long hours, weekends, high divorce rate, etc. Not to be glib, but has anyone tried…not doing that? Like if you were an analyst could you just say “hey I’m going home at 6, my kid has a teeball game?” Would the org actually fire you or is it more of an unwritten corporate culture that’s just never really been pushed back on/ tested?

12:15
Kevin Goldstein: I hear you, and most teams are happy to let the person go to the tee ball game, but some stuff is unavoidable. Every team plays on weekends, and pro teams are playing six or seven days a week. It just comes with the territory.

12:16
Kate: Can you think of any recent examples of guys like Pache (big speed, doesn’t know how to convert it to SBs) who improved their base stealing substantially at the MLB level?  Do you think he can turn into a true SB threat or will he always be a guy who uses his speed mostly on defense and just good baserunning (without steals)?

12:17
Kevin Goldstein: I’m always reminded of Erick Aybar. He was a pretty efficient base stealer in the big leagues for a few years. When he first came up, he really struggled with jumps. The Angels solved it by just forcing him to run all the time. He was caught a pretty remarkable 59 times in 2004-5 in the minors, but it helped him figure it out.

12:18
Guest: How far down the corporate ladder in an MLB front office do you have to go before 90% of the players don’t know you by face/name? Like I assume they all know the GM… do they know the Asst Directors? Scouting?

12:19
Kevin Goldstein: They all know the GM, and probably the AGM, and it gets dicey from there. I’d guess on a random Astros team from 2012-2019, maybe ten knew my name?

12:19
Rock Auto Parts: Hunter Brown is a guy I’ve been reading some good things about. Should we be buying a breakout from him?

12:19
Kevin Goldstein: And buying big.

12:19
JH: How open would you be to ranking teams’ front office analytics capability? Like who’s out in front and who’s still in the Stone Age.

12:20
Kevin Goldstein: Not open because I don’t think I’d do a good job at it. Some teams are well known, others are seen as backwards but are doing sneaky work in that regard. I’ve seen people count team analysts as some kind of measurement of investment and even that can be flawed as many teams use contractors in that area so they don’t show up in the count.

12:22
Cashman: is benintendi a satisfactory outcome for his draft position and prospect pedigree

12:22
Kevin Goldstein: If he retires tomorrow he’s already well above-average for a seventh overall pick. Might sound crazy, but it’s true.

12:22
Kate: What are your thoughts on Abraham Toro’s chances to carve out a role as an everyday starter at some point?  Eric’s tool grades on him on the 2020 graduates tab are pretty glowing.

12:23
Kevin Goldstein: Everything about the guy in terms of performance and data suggests he should hit in the big leagues, but he hasn’t yet. It’s a weird one.

12:23
Chris: So kevin mather is going to escape another scandal right?

12:23
Kevin Goldstein: Billionaires tend to fall up.

12:24
Kate: Do you think Bracho ends up stealing any bases at the MLB level?  Or does the speed taper off by the time he gets there?

12:24
Kevin Goldstein: Aaron Bracho can rake, but speed is not going to be a big part of his game.

12:25
Kate: Does Greg Jones eventually find an everyday role in TB?  Or is he destined for some kind of multi-position utility role?

12:25
Kevin Goldstein: It’s TBD. I think he’s every day at short or in center and I’d support having him concentrate on one and be good at that as opposed to just ok at both.

12:27
LB: When looking at college baseball, how would you say you tilt between eye test of skills (i.e. a pitcher’s stuff) vs. actual results, specifically for underclassmen? The genesis of this question was from watching Miami’s freshman RHP Alejandro Rosario on Saturday, where his stuff looked really good to me, but he got touched up a good bit.

12:28
Kevin Goldstein: It’s really important and also really challenging to separate the two, but you have to discount performance, especially on a one game look and think about what you saw.

12:28
Tim: Can Brendan Rodgers still end up being an impact MIF bat? Where do you see his playing long term? Could he end up at SS if Story is traded?

12:29
Kevin Goldstein: I don’t think defensively he’s a big league shortstop, and he’s been continually hampered by a downright bad approach.

12:29
Moose_Bolton: What are some of your favorite non-baseball related books?

12:30
Kevin Goldstein: Liz Phair: A Rant by Camden Joy; The Magus by John Fowles; White Noise by Don DeLillo; Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the RAF by Stefan Aust; I could go on . . .

12:31
Marver: With minor league players reporting to camp April 1, does that mean spring training games this year will feature more MLB-ready players than usual? I feel like in years past, once the game hits the 6th inning, you start seeing a bunch of guys who’ve never played above Low-A. If you only have MLB, AAA, and invites, have a much smaller player pool to field spring teams, resulting in more innings for regulars/AAAA guys. Am I wrong?

12:31
Kevin Goldstein: You are not wrong. There are no minor league camp guys to lean on, which is way you are going to see shorter games at times (up to five innings) and rolled innings.

12:32
RJ: Hey Kevin – honestly curious on your perspective as an ex-front officer member on this. If a member of ownership (or in this case a CEO) publicly trashes your organization’s past, present, and future….how do you react? Obviously Baseball Ops is separate, but if I’m in a front office, I feel like I’d want to call all those guys who were insulted the very next day and check in or talk about your support of them? Maybe it does nothing, but I feel like that’s the right thing to do. But, curious what you think the reaction should be internally when so many awful things were said by out-of-touch and egregiously racist “leaders”

12:33
Kevin Goldstein: I imagine it is exceptionally frustrating for many really good people in the Seattle front office today, and yes, some of them are likely working on damage control.

12:34
JUAN SOTO: Seems like I’ve read a lot about Kjerstad going too early, but not much about where he should have gone. I can’t tell if his pick was a bit of a stretch or an egregious overreach. What say you?

12:35
Kevin Goldstein: I mean, he was more likely to go 5-10 off talent, but the pick let the Orioles do some interesting things with later picks, so I get it. I don’t think it was a mistake.

12:37
Spleebs: Hi Kevin! I know you’ve gotten some negative comments regarding your presence here at Fangraphs, but I really wanted to say that it’s great to see you on the public side of baseball, sharing what you can about how FOs operate, their logic and rationale, etc.

With that being said, I wanted to know your general take on giving top prospects extensions similar to what SEA did with Evan White. We heard that the Players’ Union advised White not to agree to the terms, but he signed anyways. How bad are these deals for players in aggregate?

12:38
Kevin Goldstein: I appreciate the kind words. Certainly some negative comments, which is to be expected, but the overwhelming response has been really positive and I can thank those folks enough. It’s been a lot of fun.

12:39
Kevin Goldstein: In general, those deals are very team friendly, as it were, but in White’s case, I actually think he’s going to do quite well because I’m not a big believer in the player.

12:39
Jeff: Can you give any insight on what Chris Holt will be bringing as the Orioles big league pitching coach this year? I’m extremely optimistic after all the strides the minor league pitchers made in 2019 under him

12:40
Kevin Goldstein: I got to see Chris Holt’s work up close in Houston, and I think he’s absolutely remarkable. The arms there are in VERY GOOD hands.

12:40
Kevin Goldstein: Just a HEADS UP: I have a piece going up in 25 minutes in which I set odds on who will get the first $400 million contract.

12:43
Bubba: Thoughts on Ohtani’s ability to stay healthy and his skill set as a starter?  Thanks.

12:43
Kevin Goldstein: I’d just have him hit. [Ducks]

12:43
Luke: % chance that Max Meyer is a SP?

12:43
Kevin Goldstein: 57.3452%

12:43
Kevin: Thoughts on Nick Lodolo and possible ETA? Thanks

12:44
Kevin Goldstein: He’s really interesting. Kind of old school as a sinker guy in a world where up in the zone four seamers have become the norm. Command borders on special and I’m a believer in his as a valuable No. 3 starter.

12:44
Calico: As a Tigers fan, it’s nice seeing our farm be ranked so highly. It’s equally as frustrating to see us keep losing. I’ve seen some optimism from fans saying some of the young guns will be called up and make an impact, but I don’t see it happening until next year. What’s your take on the Motor City Kitties?

12:45
Kevin Goldstein: I’m optimistic. You can definitely see the scenarios where this team takes some steps forward, and A.J. is the perfect manager for them.

12:45
svan: separately: was the first week’s podcast intro song the elsewhere-mentioned steve albini one? in any case, does that song exist in a corporeal form somewhere?

12:46
Kevin Goldstein: That was Kowloon Walled City’s “The Pressure Keeps Me Alive” a song that helped me get through 2020. The electircal audio produced theme song debuts this week.

12:46
Thoughts about…: …Andre Scrubb? Some good reports about fitness and stuff coming out of Spring Training on him.  Early in the spring obviously, but do you think he can corral his control issues and be a top tier middle/set-up guy?

12:47
Kevin Goldstein: I think he can have some kind of reliever career with his super-vertical attack profile. I think command can improve, but doubt it will ever be a strong suit.

12:47
Will: Is this the most excited you’ve ever been for a Monday college baseball doubleheader?

12:48
Kevin Goldstein: It’s just fun to have games on, no?

12:49
Tim Livingston: Thoughts on Marc Normandin’s Retro XP project? Looks like he’s weighing JRPGs pretty highly.

12:49
Kevin Goldstein: I love what Marc does, and love the fact that he does it his way. We have plenty of private video game discussions and I always respect his thoughts on that subject as well as baseball.

12:50
Zirinsky: Does the FO ever solicit feedback from current players about players you’re considering acquiring?  If so, what do you ask them?

12:50
Kevin Goldstein: Absolutely, especially if they played with him. What’s this guy like? Do you like him? Does he work? Would he fit in here? etc.

12:51
Justin J.: In the future, do you see any growth of the minor leagues or amateur draft? Not saying we will go back to a 50 round draft, but surely teams will want to get more players into their systems and will find a way?

12:51
Kevin Goldstein: With the minor league reconstruction and org size limits, no. I don’t think you’ll ever see a draft more than 30 rounds again.

12:51
Taylor E.: Do you plan on traveling outside of the Chicago area to see live games?

12:52
Kevin Goldstein: Not until I get two shots in my arm.

12:52
Appa Yip Yip: If you put the french press with grounds and water in the fridge over night you have cold brew in the morning, then you don’t need the freezer part.

12:52
Kevin Goldstein: Sure, but wife wants it hot. I take the rest. It’s not an issue.

12:53
Kevin: What did you think of Austin Beck prior to the 17 draft? Is there hope that he may yet actualize his above average tools some day? Welcome back, Kevin.

12:55
Kevin Goldstein: I went and saw him that spring and was very impressed by the tools and worried about some swing and miss in his game. The adjustments just haven’t come….

12:55
Joe: Whose the kindest player you’ve come across in baseball that doesn’t get enough credit for being a good human being?

12:56
Kevin Goldstein: Joe Smith? But I think that’s pretty well known. Teoscar comes to mind as someone who might not be as well known.

12:56
Zirinsky: Do you have a PS5 yet?

12:57
Kevin Goldstein: I don’t. I also play games slowly, and tend to play long games (JRPGs). There’s not a reason to get a PS5 yet for me as there’s not a game on the platform I’m dying to play.

12:58
Nathan: If there were a guy that always had bad knees or something so that was always a DH and hit 30 home runs a year for 20 years but only had a career WAR of about 40, would you put him in the hall?

12:59
Kevin Goldstein: I’ll leave the hall questions to Jay Jaffe, as everyone else should. I’m not a big fan of the Hall nor the Hall process. I think it should be an actual Hall of FAME and one that measures the cultural impact as opposed to statistical performance.

12:59
SadAngelsFan: Any reason to be optimistic that Adell will have an impact at the ML level this year?

1:00
Kevin Goldstein: No. Not ruling out years after that, but 2021? Tough to see.

1:00
RJ: Almora probably signed expecting to be a big leaguer. Pillar signing probably puts him in AAA. Does something like that run the risk of alienating the player and do teams care about such things?

1:01
Kevin Goldstein: Really depends on what the player was told in negotiations. You’re coming in for depth, you’re coming in to be a bench piece, you’re coming in as an every day player, etc.

1:01
jamesdakrn: Should Friedman just bribe Jack Dorsey to get Bauer’s twitter acct suspended?

I like Bauer’s approach to the game
i can’t stand any of his edgy 13 year old 4channer bs

1:01
Kevin Goldstein: I’m sure the Dodgers have asked that he take it easy on Twitter. I’m sure other teams he played for have as well. I’m sure he hasn’t listened or cared.

1:01
Dee Arby: Have you thrown the speed pitch at the ballpark? What did you top out at?

1:02
Kevin Goldstein: About a decade ago, and with an OF-style crow hop, I hit 72. My shoulder hurt for a week.

1:02
Owen: Is Emerson Hancock a guy you could see rising quickly in the rankings if he comes out has the same stuff he had in 2019?

1:02
Kevin Goldstein: Yup.

1:03
Dee Arby: When Dave went to the Pads, it was well known that he hated (professionally, not personally) Hosmer.  Then the Pads signed Hosmer.  I know he wasn’t high on the ladder, but in your experience, has anyone ever gone beyond their pay grade to oppose a deal?

1:04
Kevin Goldstein: I don’t think pay grade enters into it. If you work for a team, you are getting paid for your opinion and you better damn well give it. There are plenty of times when I was for a deal and it didn’t happen or vice versa. As long as you feel listened to, it’s fine. You’re not the GM but the GM doesn’t want a bunch of yes-people running around. That doesn’t help anything.

1:04
Felix Pie: What are some of your more cherished memories from working in the international realm of baseball? Maybe specific memories from DR.

1:05
Kevin Goldstein: I could write a book about it. The DR has a piece of my heart. I’ll have pieces about it in the near future.

1:05
brendon: How did you feel about Alek Manoah heading into the 2019 draft?

1:05
Kevin Goldstein: I thought he was the best pitcher in the draft.

1:05
Appa Yip Yip: Teoscar is one of my favourite Jays because the dude literally sparkles with joy it just radiates outwards.

1:05
Kevin Goldstein: That dude LOVES playing baseball.

1:06
Chris: Why don’t you believe in evan white? He’s super athletic and hits the ball hard?

1:06
Kevin Goldstein: Bad approach, HUGE swing-and-miss issues and just not enough bat to provide value as a 1B, despite how great he is defensively.

1:07
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: I miss stolen bases.  We ever gonna get a 70 stolen base season again?

1:07
Kevin Goldstein: Let’s see what this new ball does to home runs.

1:07
Daron: Do park factors play any meaningful role in front office roster construction?

1:08
Kevin Goldstein: Meh. Good players are good players.

1:10
Kate: How does Jeter Downs continue to get ranked so high without any above average tools?  Is it just that the stat line gets hard to ignore after a while?

1:10
Kevin Goldstein: By being really good at baseball. Tools are great. Skills are great too.

1:10
Snid: What chances does  Brent Rooker  have for regular PT?

1:11
Kevin Goldstein: Not convinced you’ll ever got much average out of him, but I could see the BB/HR combo playing every day in a corner.

1:11
Kate: Eric has Veen and Hassell two years apart in terms of ETA.  Is Veen just that raw by comparison?

1:11
Kevin Goldstein: I think it says more about Hassell than Veen.

1:12
Nathaniel: Is there any correlation between a pitcher’s repertoire and injury risk?

1:13
Kevin Goldstein: I don’t think so. I think the only real conclusion we have on injuries is that guys who get hurt tend to get hurt and guys who stay healthy tend to stay healthy, and even with that, ‘tend’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

1:13
Russ: Thoughts on Bryan Abreu making any starts this year?

1:13
Kevin Goldstein: I personally always saw him as a pen arm.

1:15
Guest: Going into this offseason, if you were working for a contender that had a weakness in CF, who would you have pursued? Would you have been confident enough in Springer’s defense to see him as the solution there for at least a couple of years? Would you have seen JBJs defense as so elite that it makes up for inconsistency at the plate (and been willing to give him 3-4 years)? Would you have tried to trade for someone else?

1:16
Kevin Goldstein: I don’t know what JBJ is looking far, but on the surface I’m surprised he’s still out there. Obviously a great defender and there’s some real raw in there one could hope is unlockable with swing adjustments as he already makes good swing decisions.

1:16
Hire Loves Yoony: What made you guys want to trade for Blake Taylor?

1:17
Kevin Goldstein: Good stuff, misses bats, and the kind of good bat-missing stuff you find in the big leagues.

1:17
JoeD: Did the Dodgers screw up the Gavin Lux promotion or was that more 2020/covid related lost season?

1:18
Kevin Goldstein: It’s really hard to tell. You are talking about less than 70 plate appearances. It’s hard enough to figure out what went right or wrong for a player with just 200 to go on.

1:20
Nick S: As a guy currently working as a software engineer with 15 years writing math analysis tools, what are the chances such a job with an MLB team is something I could transition into without having to start at an entry level position making almost nothing?

1:20
Kevin Goldstein: Yes.

1:21
TJ: Do front offices view a college pitcher (or beyond) that has had TJ surgery as sort of a feature rather than a bug?

1:21
Kevin Goldstein: No. In general it’s a negative.

1:23
Josh: Am I too optimistic about Jordyn Adams? If this guy starts consistently hitting for power in-game then I feel like he becomes an elite prospect? The reports from the alt site were that he did that, grain of salt as they require. It just seems like his upside is skyyyy high.

1:24
Kevin Goldstein: It is sky hight. The tools are incredible, but there’s still a long way to go there. Be careful of alt site reports. I can think of 200 players who were reported to look great in alt camp, but no reports of guys really struggling. Lots of narrative out there.

1:25
Kevin Goldstein: Ok folks, thanks for all the great questions. Off to work on tomorrow’s piece. Thanks for all the great questions and I’ll see you again next week.





Kevin Goldstein is a National Writer at FanGraphs.

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