Kevin Goldstein FanGraphs Chat – 2/7/2022

12:01
Kevin Goldstein: Happy Monday everyone. It was my anniversary yesterday, and I’m still recovering from a very large dinner, and the first time my wife and I sat down in a restaurant together since the early fall before omicron. Let’s have some fun for 90 minutes or so.

12:01
D back fan: Daulton Varsho or Pavin Smith breakout?

12:01
Kevin Goldstein: Well, can I say I don’t like the question because it seems to assume that one of them will? Most likely is that neither will break out, but with that said, I like Varsho as a player far more than Smith.

12:02
Sharp: How do players feel about signing baseball cards for Topps? Think it’s cool? Indifferent/just a part of the job? or do not like it?

12:02
Kevin Goldstein: Players are very different from person to person. Some collected as a kid and get a real joy from seeing their own cards and have a blast with it, and others see it as a chore. Like most things, very player to player.

12:02
Keith: Who was your favorite team/players when you were growing up?

12:03
Kevin Goldstein: I grew up a Mets fan, and those mid-80s teams still have a special place in my heart.

12:03
Keith: Did you spend a lot of time in Houston when you worked for the Astros, or were you primarily working out of your house, or out and about scouting players?

12:05
Kevin Goldstein: I don’t know, it depends on how you define a lot of time. I usually went about once a month for three-to-five days, and usually around something important happening. So I’d show up in May for draft meetings, June for the draft itself (later held in West Palm), July for the trade deadline, September/October for some end-of-year type of stuff and then spend time with the group in Florida for spring training, in November for the GM Meetings and December for the Winter Meetings. Then there was all the travel to see players…

12:05
Berkman’s Twinkie: Lewis Brinson is in limbo right now since being DFA’d just prior to the lockout and the Astros wont have Meyers at the beginning of the season. Do you see them taking a flyer on him even with Siri and McCormick?

12:05
Kevin Goldstein: I think it’s hard to attached a minor league FA to any team. Brinson has the tools that are certainly going to get him a lot of chances.

12:05
Scrapper: Some say that the prospect world is an echo chamber, with the top prospect sites saying the same thing.  Is that a fair criticism?

12:06
Kevin Goldstein: At times, yes. Once of the things I heard about the Giants list that I worked on with Tess that made me really happy was someone who covers that system saying that we definitely did not show any herd mentality.

12:07
Keith: How would you compare/contrast Frankie Lindor and Brayan Rocchio when they were at the same age?

12:07
Kevin Goldstein: I wouldn’t. Rocchio is a good prospect, but Lindor was clearly special.

12:08
Miss Ya Hire: Do you think the Mets have what it takes to acquire a pitcher such as Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas, or Tyler Mahle without giving up Alvarez or Baty? I think acquiring another high quality pitcher to slot in behind deGrom and Scherzer is necessary and Mets think so too since they were trying to sign Gausman in addition to Scherzer. I saw someone float a Mauricio and McNeil package for Castillo, enough for Reds to consider?

12:08
Kevin Goldstein: Probably not. If you want to acquire a really good player, it’s going to come with some pain.

12:08
Guest: It feels like we’re headed towards another CBA that doesn’t really change anything & players get jobbed again. Maybe they’ll get some small moral victory at the onset, but in the long run it’ll be the same as we already had. Do you agree? What’s different this time?

12:10
Kevin Goldstein: I think you’ll see a few decent sized changes, but yeah, nothing profound. I think if anyone went into this expecting some sort of dramatic alterations that alter the very economic structures of the game, that was a foolish stance to begin with.

12:10
Kevin Goldstein: That’s not to say those changes aren’t needed and just, but expecting them? Nah.

12:11
Datt Mamon: Are you buying into Schwarber being able to repeat the season he had last year?

12:11
Kevin Goldstein: I think he’ll be good, but I don’t think he’ll be 900+ OPS good again….

12:11
Bill: When you were with the Astros were any trades completed on MiLB players soley off of video and data without getting an in-person look?

12:11
Kevin Goldstein: Absolutely.

12:12
JWR: If you were a bookmaker, what over/under date would you set for when the lockout ends?

12:12
Kevin Goldstein: March 8th.

12:12
Keith: When a new front office regime is introduced how much thought/planning goes into “winning the press conference?” Are there specific meetings between ownership/front office regarding how they want their org’s direction presented to the media/public, or is the front office just free to present that as they see most fit?

12:12
Kevin Goldstein: Yes, the PR team is pretty involved there.

12:12
Kevin Goldstein: Whether or not the GM takes their advice is team to team.

12:13
RH: Hi KG, why wasn’t Austin Wates able to make it?

12:13
Kevin Goldstein: Didn’t hit balls hard enough.

12:14
jack perconte: how good was Francis Martes?

12:14
Kevin Goldstein: Really good! High-leverage relief potential.

12:15
20longyears: Which would you take: a prospect with a lot of swing and miss but 80 grade tools to dream on (e.g. Oneil Cruz) or a prospect with a more even, less volatile profile?

12:15
Kevin Goldstein: Can’t answer that in a vacuum. Where is the big league club? What position? What else does the team have at that position?

12:16
Captain Moonlight: Congrats, you’ve been chosen to select MLB’s 4 man bobsled team for the Olympics. Who ya got

12:16
Kevin Goldstein: I have no idea! What make a good bobsled person? Does anyone not intimately involved in bobsled really know?

12:16
Martin: Are there many front office staff that are full time remote like you were, or is that the exception? Did you find it more challenging to work remotely, or was it largely a non-issue?

12:18
Kevin Goldstein: I found it largely a non-issue. It’s been interesting to see (not just in baseball) how companies have worked through the pandemic. I think the smart ones have realized that good people will work and that zoom/etc are perfectly good tools and that having everyone in an office when they just work on their computers anyway is a bit of antiquated thinking. I know plenty of people pretty high up in the pecking order who do not live in the city that bears their employer’s name.

12:18
Mike: What do you take of Lindor’s 2021? Awful first 2 months but a line of .252/.340/.482 after that. If anything, it looked like he was missing singles. Still bullish on him going forward?

12:18
Kevin Goldstein: Bullish.

12:19
Carl: Having worked (I presume) alongside David Stearns, what would you say his strengths are that have made him successful as a GM/PoBO?

12:20
Kevin Goldstein: Patience. A real desire for a diverse set of opinions going into decisions. There’s a level-headedness to him that I’ve always admired.

12:20
Broken Bat: Kevin, thanks for all the effort on these chats. FG got better with your return. I have a question that may or may not get too close to your past. I understand if you pass on this. Scenario: long time pitching coach with a good reputation and success announces his retirement. Within 10 days he announces he is new pitching coach for another MLB Team. Strange cadence. Thoughts?

12:21
Kevin Goldstein: You can just say Brent Strom. I don’t think this one is as weird or conspiracy laden as you might think. I don’t think he necessarily retired knowing he’d go to Arizona, but that’s where he lives and they approached him and that was that.

12:21
Matt: Now that we’ve seen teams begin to rapidly increase the size of their MLB coaching staff, when (if ever) do we similar changes at the MiLB level? It seems like teams have 5-6 coaches max at the MiLB level. One area of particular importance would seem to be having individual catching, infield, and outfield coaches as opposed to an all-encompassing “defensive coach.”

12:21
Kevin Goldstein: We’re already seeing it….

12:21
Bubba: You’ve expressed doubt on how good the publicly avaliable advanced defensive metrics are.  What do you think they are missing?

12:22
Kevin Goldstein: To be fair, I have doubt about private defensive metrics as well…

12:22
Moog Powell: Good morning Kevin –

12:22
Kevin Goldstein: Good morning Moog.

12:23
Trader Foe: If you were the Braves, wouldn’t long term, trading for Matt Olson be a better move than re-signing Freeman?

12:23
Kevin Goldstein: Maybe. That’s all one can really say. It depends on what Freeman’s contract is….

12:24
three: How thoroughly do FOs examine free agents? Is it looking at position groups as a whole and trying to identify values? Is it poring over each player individually?

12:24
Kevin Goldstein: It is pouring, and I mean POURING over each player individually.

12:24
Dylan Higgins: Which Kathleen Hanna band/album should I get into first?

12:24
Kevin Goldstein: Bikini Kill is really great, but Le Tigre is epic.

12:24
Guest: what did you order last night?

12:25
Kevin Goldstein: Ceasar salad, Orichette with sausage and peas in a tomato cream sauce, and we split a piece of tiramisu.

12:26
Nat: I know that teams & players/agents aren’t supposed to be in communication during the lockout, but do you think agents have been in contact with teams, even if its “under the radar”? What’s stopping the Yankees from calling up Scott Boras and saying “Hypothetically, if you were representing a top-5 shortstop, what kind of money would they be looking for?”

12:26
Kevin Goldstein: I get questions like this a lot, and my answer remains the same. I think I’d be a fool to say conversations like this aren’t happening at all, but I do think they’re quite rare.

12:27
Jughead: I’ve read that the dh is a done deal. Is that you’re understanding?what about expanded playoffs? That seems to be what the owners want most. Would hope the players would tell them to pound sand on that as they’ll constrain spending if they know more teams can get in

12:27
Kevin Goldstein: Expanded playoffs is the biggest chip the players have and they know it. When they give the owners that (and I think they ultimately will), you will know that we are close to done with lockout.

12:27
Sumo is Cool: Thoughts on Jeremy Barnes as Mets assistant hitting coach?

12:28
Kevin Goldstein: I think he’s a great hitting mind.

12:28
Spring training in AZ?: We’re taking our kid to AZ next month and are not sure spring training will happen. Will there still be public spring training activities in a lockout?

12:28
Kevin Goldstein: TBD. Minor League camps will be going on, and the back fields are fun as hell, but as to public availability, that’s up in the air.

12:28
Joe: I know your predicting 154 games, iirc. I’m sticking with 162 if for no other reason than shortening the season would require MLB and MLBPA to negotiate more (when to start spring training, how to reschedule, etc.), which you know would be awful for them. Haha. What do you think?

12:29
Kevin Goldstein: At a certain point, and we are rapidly approaching it, 162 just becomes impossible.

12:29
Appa Yip Yip: Favourite Pokemon?

12:29
Kevin Goldstein: Jigglypuff.

12:29
Wally Whitehurst: Did you feel like your career was limited at the Astros because you worked from home? Or did it not matter because you were scouting and on the road so much?

12:29
Kevin Goldstein: The latter.

12:29
Kevin Goldstein: I was also doing exactly what I wanted. My career was fine.

12:30
DJ: Jose Altuve made the jump from Double-A to MLB in 2011 despite not garnering much attention as a prospect entering the season. A decade later do you think a player like Altuve would be more highly regarded as a prospect today, or was it an anomaly that could happen just as easily now as it did then?

12:30
Kevin Goldstein: I think he would have been more highly regarded.

12:30
Guest: What is the industry opinion regarding the Draft League and Appalachian League?

12:31
Kevin Goldstein: That is wasn’t very good, but it was also just the first year for it and there’s a foundation there for something that becomes very good.

12:31
Inaccessible Rail: What went wrong with Brinson?

12:31
Kevin Goldstein: Can’t hit? Sometimes it’s not that complicated an answer.

12:32
David Myers: Do you feel that the owner’s will wait till after the quarterly owner’s meeting to resume cba negotiations?

12:32
Kevin Goldstein: Who knows? None of us do.

12:32
AZComplex: Am seeing via non-roster players’ social media posts that many prospects are at training facilities already. Are there rules against this/any benefits to having staff work exclusively with younger guys they don’t usually work with?

12:33
Kevin Goldstein: No hard and fast rules. MLB did send a memo saying not to change minor league schedules because of what’s going on, but stuff would be happening anyway.

12:33
J: I’ve had an entry level role in baseball for the past 5 years but I’ve never been considered for a promotion and I’ve gone through the interview circuit with every team. I don’t want to leave baseball, but I’m not sure I have an option. Sorry to whine, but I’m wondering if you have any advice?

12:33
Kevin Goldstein: Feel free to contact me privately. I feel like I have 3% of the info I need to offer any advice.

12:34
Alaska Tracy: Hypothetically speaking… What would a front office do, if after winning the world series, their superstar player refused to go to the White House and shake the president’s hand?

12:34
Kevin Goldstein: Nothing. It’s happened. More than once.

12:35
Jason: Cody Bellinger has had one of the weirder careers that we have seen.  It seems like all possibilities are in play at this point.  What do you expect for Cody going forward?

12:35
Kevin Goldstein: I’ll echo it back to you, and you won’t be happy. All possibilities are in play at this point.

12:35
Jack B: How often would you go scout an amateur player even though you were in pro scouting?

12:36
Kevin Goldstein: Tons. I spent most of my weekends from March through May seeing potential draft picks, and did a ton of international stuff as well.

12:36
Guest: I haven’t heard much about the international draft, do we still think this is gonna get implemented in the CBA?

12:37
Kevin Goldstein: I do. Likely starting in 2023. Somewhere around 15 rounds with set slots for each pick as opposed to a more fluid bonus pool.

12:37
AnnieV: Did you go somewhere nice for your anniversary? How long have you been married? Does V-Day get swept up into anniversary celebrations like those poor kids born on Christmas or are you going out again next week?

12:38
Kevin Goldstein: We’ve gone wacky in the past at a great restaurant in Chicago and a nice hotel but this was more subdued due to the world we live in. There’s a nice winery with an Italian restaurant about 20 minutes from here, so we did that. Will likely go out again in seven days….

12:38
Kevin Goldstein: This was our 3rd anniversary, but we’ve been together for approaching 23 years.

12:39
Dave: Do you look at other prospect lists like Baseball America or Keith Law’s when you are writing up your lists to see if you are missing on someone or maybe need to take a second look?

12:39
Kevin Goldstein: I do not.

12:39
Phil: Do teams have labor relations people, or do they leave that to the league?

12:39
Kevin Goldstein: Left to the league. In terms of teams, it really is the owners driving the bus here. I’ve spoken to multiple GMs who feel like they are in the dark on what’s going on.

12:40
asinwreck: One year in, what’s surprised you most about doing the podcast?

12:40
Kevin Goldstein: I was always shocked at how much a small section of people really loved my last show, and still feel that way about this one. I do love doing it.

12:40
Phil: Have you ever met Theo Epstein? Do you have a sense of what he might do long-term, or want to do? There still seems to be a low-level rumble in Boston about a run for office, but to me he seems like too much of an introvert for that.

12:41
Kevin Goldstein: Yes; Not really but I don’t think he wants to be MLB commissioner.

12:41
David: How goes the house hunt.

12:41
Kevin Goldstein: This market is a nightmare.

12:41
Josh R: Have you ever played Disco Elysium? I have a feeling it would be right up your alley.

12:41
Kevin Goldstein: It is!

12:41
Dave: I would love to see a prospect show on MLB Network with all the major prospect writers.  You and Eric, Keith Law, the MLB Pipeline guys, and Baseball America’s guys would be great television talking prospects and draft.

12:41
Kevin Goldstein: I agree! It’s never going to happen, but yeah, it would be great.

12:41
Jack B: What was the busiest time of the year for you when you were with Houston? During that time how many hours of sleep were you happy to get?

12:42
Kevin Goldstein: Trade deadline and Winter Meetings. Winter Meetings are when you don’t really sleep much.

12:42
Jack B: Do you eat lunch before, during or after these chats?

12:42
Kevin Goldstein: After. I’m Central Time, so it’s only 11:42 right now.

12:43
Jack B: Favorite non-baseball sport?

12:43
Kevin Goldstein: Sumo. I know the Bengals and Rams are playing in the super bowl, but I don’t think I can name a player on either team. I don’t do NHL or NBA either.

12:44
Jason: What would you say is the sustainable difference year in, year out, between a top 5 major league manager and a bottom 5 major league manager?

12:44
Kevin Goldstein: 4-5 wins is my gut answer.

12:44
Moog Powell: Would there be any possibility of them extending the season on the back end if there’s a delay on the front end, or would that be reserved for a significant delay?

12:44
Kevin Goldstein: I mean, how much can you push it back? November playoffs games are a bad idea.

12:45
Kevin Goldstein: You’d have to at least neutral site the World Series.

12:45
NotAA: I know you have said you aren’t a football guy but will you be watching the super bowl?

12:45
Kevin Goldstein: I’m making Cincinnati chili that day, because it’s delicious, but I’ll probably play Skyrim or watch a movie.

12:46
Jack B: Could the draft still happen if there is still a lockout? Relax, people, I’m not rooting for this just something I am wondering out of curiosity.

12:46
Kevin Goldstein: Yes, it would still happen.

12:46
Liam McPoyle: How would you “fix” Gary Sanchez?

12:46
Kevin Goldstein: By not having him catch.

12:47
Chamaco: If players not on the 40 man roster can play in the minors during a lockout, did that have any impact this offseason on players who were added to the 40 man or left off? Would a team leave a guy off the 40 man who might not be rule 5 eligible so he could play a full MiLB season/get more reps?

12:48
Kevin Goldstein: No decisions prior to the lockout were made with that in mind, as no team really expected a huge dent in the season.

12:48
Bob prince: Do you take it as a given that there’ll be an expanded playoffs? I.e. why is it that the players would have to give  something up? The values of the franchises are going up.

12:48
Kevin Goldstein: I think it’s going to happen.

12:49
Mitch: Do teams do any work to determine WHEN is the perfect time to offer a free agent a contract? Is there some sort of a “sweet spot” inn the negotiation tactics? This may only be applicable to minor signings

12:49
Kevin Goldstein: Not really. It’s very player to player (I say that a lot, but it’s true!). Some players want to know where they are going as soon as possible, and some players are going to wait as long as they can for the best deal.

12:51
Smoke: Why didn’t Justin Smoak hit?

12:52
Kevin Goldstein: Dude had a career 103 wRC+, and played in nearly 1300 games. He didn’t hit?

12:53
Kevin Goldstein: I think expectations are kinda crazy at times. Smoak had a very good career. If you line up all of the 11th overall picks, he’s near the 90th percentile, no?

12:53
DJ: Are minor league spring training games typically open to the public? If not, do you think that could change this year?

12:54
Kevin Goldstein: Generally yes, yes they are.

12:54
Mike B: How did the house hunting go? find anything you liked?

12:54
Kevin Goldstein: We did, but it was contingent within hours of us first seeing it.

12:54
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: What % of your time at the winter meetings was spent in the team war room, presentations/group meetings will all the teams, private meetings with other team’s representatives, private meetings with agents, and other?

12:54
Kevin Goldstein: 75% in the room. really just a few meetings (sometimes in suites, sometimes more formally in the lobby or a bar) with agents.

12:55
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: Did you visit other team’s offices?  Which team had the best setup (in terms of offices)?

12:55
Kevin Goldstein: I did not. I have seen very few teams physical offices.

12:55
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: If you were on the road at major league games, would the host team give you an office or work area if you needed one?

12:56
Kevin Goldstein: No. Hotels and stadium suites are fine.

12:56
JC: Could a team add a series of $1 million player options to a contract to lower the AAV for luxury tax purposes, knowing the options will be declined?

12:56
Kevin Goldstein: Nope.

12:56
JC: I hear all this hype of drafting a lefty pitcher. Why does it matter if a starter is lefty or righty?

12:57
Kevin Goldstein: It matters in a bad way, right? Lefties are cool, but more hitters are RH than LH, so lefties actually have a more consistent platoon disadvantage. This doesn’t get talked about enough, actually.

12:57
Dave: What would your preference be for the playoffs, no off days like in 2020 or the format in place now with multiple off days.  I really liked the pandemic playoff  format in that you had to use your whole pitching staff.

12:57
Kevin Goldstein: I really liked it as well, but don’t think we’re going to get a repeat of it.

12:58
Jeff: If a player not on the 40 man roster gets called up to the Major league team does he then need to be added?

12:58
Kevin Goldstein: Absolutely.

12:58
Mitch: Did the astros ever get a strong trade offer for one of their core players (when they were WS contenders) that really made the FO consider doing it? Even though it would have really stirred things up in the fanbase

12:58
Kevin Goldstein: Yup.

12:58
RFLMBillyFish: LHH vs RHP splits … when a guy really crushes MiLB lefties, what are the red flags that performance won’t translate against MLB lefties?

12:59
Kevin Goldstein: Honestly, when a guy really crushes MILB lefties, I’m more concerned with his inability to hit RHP.

12:59
Mitch: Did the Astros have certain “focuses” when it came to scouting that they believed would set them apart from other teams?

12:59
Kevin Goldstein: Sure, but every team does.

1:00
171: Did you or anyone you know ever see a front office member meeting with a player agent at the hotel bar and realize that a potential deal you were working on for a FA wasn’t going to happen?

1:00
Kevin Goldstein: I’ve seen them, but didn’t necessarily jump to conclusions. Small, side conversations with agents about players you are NEVER GOING TO SIGN happen all the time.

1:00
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: Opening day could get pushed back, what, 5-7 days and still get 162 games by rescheduling the first games through playing on a few scheduled off days, a couple planned doubleheaders, and pushing back the playoffs a few days (as no playoff schedule is set yet since we don’t know the format), right?

1:01
Kevin Goldstein: Right. But that’s feeling very optimistic on February 7th considering where we are.

1:01
Guest: Do prospects ranks (on the top 100) get altered based upon organizational circumstances outside of the prospect’s control? For instance….if a guy is a legit SS, but the major-league team has a great SS already in place that will bump the prospect to 3B, does that lower is rank?

1:01
Kevin Goldstein: It does not, and should not.

1:01
Farhandrew Zaidman: Thoughts on the so-called “Metaverse” and its potential impacts in professional baseball?

1:02
Kevin Goldstein: I try my best not to spend any mental energy on the Metaverse, web 3.0, NFTs, crypto, etc.

1:03
Martin: Over under on the number of people who are in front offices who know who Steve Albini is, now that you’re at Fangraphs?

1:03
Kevin Goldstein: 17.5?

1:03
Erik: If an international draft does get instituted, is there a good reason why it should remain separate from the domestic amateur draft?

1:04
Kevin Goldstein: Fair question, I think it’s just dramatically easier because every team’s international operations are separate and distinct from the amateur group. A world draft has been discussed, but it’s not in the cards.

1:04
Frank Thomas the Tank Engine: When the lockout ends, will spring training sites open immediately for players who want to voluntarily report even if official start dates aren’t for a little while?

1:05
Kevin Goldstein: TBD. People in the game I talked to think they’ll get a 7-to-10 day runway to get things going.

1:05
Mike B: I couldnt imagine having to decide on a house hours after seeing it, its like everyday is the trade deadline & you had no prior conversations with any of the teams

1:05
Kevin Goldstein: I feel seen.

1:05
Kevin Goldstein: We’ve seen houses online that we like and when we ask to see it, we’re declined. It’s crazy fast.

1:06
Moog Powell: What is it about handedness that makes batter-pitcher handedness splits a thing? In otherwords, physically, why is it that lefty pitchers generally have success against lefty batters and visa versa?

1:07
Kevin Goldstein: Stand in the box and imagine where the ball is starting from a LHP and then a RHP. You obviously get a much better look at the oppo side.

1:07
RFLMBillyFish: Please define “He can *really* hit.” Feels like it’s never said about guys with plus bat speed, for example.

1:07
Kevin Goldstein: Jose Altuve has tremendous bat speed and can really hit. There are plenty of them.

1:07
Erik: Can/should front office people serve as mediators between owners and players, since they theoretically have good relationships with both groups? Or is there just no route to do that effectively?

1:08
Kevin Goldstein: It’s tough. Lots of front office people are in a tough middle ground. The owners sign their checks, but they side with the players on many of the issues. There’s certainly no route to them getting involved. This is really between MLB/Owners and the union.

1:09
Jonathan: Mid 40s, I’ve never done any formal baseball research that’s been published, but I have a bunch of machine learning/A.I. IP and a track record of innovating those sorts of tools in a variety of disciplines (counter-terrorism, DNA analysis…).  I’m mainly a research scientist; am good at coding but not as good as a Ph.D. computer scientist who’s spent years in the trenches.  I’m thinking about a career change.  Would a baseball front office have any interest in someone like me, or is my background a bit too niche for that sort of jump?

1:09
Kevin Goldstein: I think there would be interest in the right position/need.

1:09
Mitch: How many people in a FO are truly involved in the decision on a fairly major trade/signing. In other words, how many people does a GM really trust when a big decision is on the table

1:09
Kevin Goldstein: I can only speak for the team I worked for. The inner circle on these things was 5-7 people, depending on the time and year.

1:10
Bret: Whenever the lockout ends and there’s a few weeks given to teams to make trades/signings/etc. – do teams as a whole go out and try to make a splash to get fan sentiment back, or just try to take care of business quickly and get on with things?

1:10
Kevin Goldstein: I think things will move VERY VERY quickly. It will be chaos and I’m worried for Meg’s mental health once it starts.

1:11
Quin y: If there’s a international draft what happens to the buscones?  Might they try and steer their prospects to Asia?

1:11
Kevin Goldstein: Nothing. I don’t think you’ll see some big steer to Asia.

1:11
Bob Mase: What percentage of players have their contract insured by their team any given year?

1:12
Kevin Goldstein: Very, very small.

1:13
Mac: Have you heard anything regarding the draft date and if it’s going to even happen?

1:13
Kevin Goldstein: It’s going to happen, but date hasn’t been set. I do think July might just become the new reality.

1:14
matt: How much of the difference between the players and owners is posturing? And has your opinion on this changed in the last month?

1:14
Kevin Goldstein: Posturing to what end?

1:15
Duchess: Have we moved on too quickly from Leody Taveras? Still super young, some solid skills

1:15
Kevin Goldstein: I think in general, fans move on from prospects way too quickly, as they’re always looking for the next shiny new thing. I don’t think Taveras is every going to hit much, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he had a decent career anyway.

1:16
Larry: Any thoughts to attending yesterdays chicago area super garage sale showcase?

1:16
Kevin Goldstein: It was my anniversary, so no. I’ve been to the super 60 before, and it’s a good way to eyeball a lot of players.

1:16
Scott: I hear Boras is taking a big role in  negotiations. True? and is there any way that’s a plus for getting a CBA deal?

1:16
Kevin Goldstein: True, and I don’t think it’s a big needle mover either way.

1:16
Guest: Will the R5 draft be hastily thrown together during spring training when the lockout ends, or will it skip this year?

1:16
Kevin Goldstein: It will happen.

1:19
Mac: Do you agree with Maury Brown when he tweeted Manfred has galvanized the players like never before?

1:19
Kevin Goldstein: I think he’s certainly galvanized the players. “Like never before” I’ll leave to the historians.

1:20
Kevin Bronzestein: Following up on the extra wins a top 5 manager adds, what specifics does he do that creates that extra value?

1:21
Kevin Goldstein: Plenty of things that are heard to measure or draw a one to one correlation to. A player might have a great season and people will talk about mechanical adjustments and other things, but sometimes a big piece is the manager creating the right environment for that player to succeed.

1:21
Didace: You know what drives me nuts (and probably shouldn’t)? Saying a team needs a #3 starter, or referring to a pitcher as a #4 starter. These aren’t really positions – they’re all just starters. I know it’s just shorthand for how good someone is or where they fit into a teams plans, but who would you rather have, the Dodgers #5 starter or the Orioles #1?

1:22
Kevin Goldstein: Well, the industry doesn’t really use the language like that, so don’t let it drive you nuts. It’s more of a talent measurement. There are plenty of No. 3 starters going on opening day.

1:22
Cynthia: Do teams try to get players to make adjustments if their surface-level stats (e.g. BA, ERA) looks good but their underlying stats say it’s unsustainable? I imagine that’d be a hard sell to the players?

1:22
Kevin Goldstein: It can be a hard sell to players. Some players really aren’t open to those kind of discussions until they start failing.

1:23
Kevin Goldstein: Entering the final minutes, so get those final questions in. You guys have come through big time today with a constant flurry of good ones.

1:24
matt: What’s one thing you believed about baseball ten years ago that you no longer do?

1:25
Kevin Goldstein: I stared at this for a while, and didn’t come up with anything. I consider myself very open-minded. I just want to get players right, so while how I look at players and the game has change dramatically over the last decade, I just think it’s a wider net as opposed to any elimination of things.

1:25
MTF: Do teams offer ownership slices to important baseball ops executives?  I remember Oakland did with Beane, and I wondered how common it is.

1:25
Kevin Goldstein: Quite UNcommon.

1:26
TJ: How much of a drop in quality is Low-A ball under the new minor league system?

1:26
Kevin Goldstein: It’s a drop and one that we have to adjust to, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.

1:26
Topher: Do you think Baseball Savant could make a new type of WAR based off a combination of stats and peripherals?

1:27
Kevin Goldstein: Do you need peripherals? WAR is what happened. If I guy has a 8 WAR year and is the most lucky player in the world, it still happened.

1:29
Skills: Would you be a good on-field baseball coach?

1:29
Kevin Goldstein: No.

1:30
Kevin Goldstein: Ok folks, I gotta clear out of here and get back to my busy day. Thanks so much for killing it on the questions this week and I’ll see you next Monday.





Kevin Goldstein is a National Writer at FanGraphs.

6 Comments
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Radhames Liz
9 months ago

Dude, Justin Smoak was a disappointment, and not because he was drafted 11th, but because he was a top-10 prospect. Or is Kevin gonna tell us that 5.5 WAR is a good career for a top-10 guy?

Jonathan Adelman
9 months ago
Reply to  Radhames Liz

It’s below-average outcome for a top 10 prospect, but absolutely within a standard deviation of the mean outcome.

Ryan Lovemember
9 months ago
Reply to  Radhames Liz

I also have to disagree with Kevin and say that “didn’t hit” is fair for a bat-first prospect like Justin Smoak–given that he wasn’t a shortstop or center fielder, a league average bat means he “didn’t hit enough,” and his career totals are boosted by having had one solidly above-average year. I also looked at #11 overalls for the last couple decades… a majority of position players drafted at 11 accumulated more WAR or seem on course to do so, and included Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, George Springer, Addison Russell, and Kyle Lewis (who is almost halfway to Smoak’s career WAR total in 112 games). A few busted and didn’t see the majors, which I’m sure is what Kevin meant and is fair, but still… A majority of the pithcers busted (shockingly), though there was also Tyler Stephenson and some guy named Maxwell Scherzer…

Ryan Lovemember
9 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Love

Had more time, and that run of strong #11 picks seems very random. Smoak outproduced every #12 position player of the last 20 years except Jay Bruce and Yasmani Grandal, with a majority producing no positive MLB WAR. It might or might not be true that Smoak was “90th percentile” for his draft position–I took only a very limited look–but the overall point Kevin was making definitely holds, regardless of whether an unusual quantity of #11 picks have been successful.

Radhames Liz
9 months ago
Reply to  Ryan Love

The draft position thing is a straw man. That was my problem with Kevin’s response. Again, the perception that Smoak disappointed isn’t because he was drafted 11th, but because of his prospect pedigree. Just like it would be silly to say in 10 years, if Wander Franco turns out to be just an average player, that he wasn’t a disappointment because he was better than most int’l teens who sign for X, it’s silly to say Smoak wasn’t a disappointment because he was better than most guys drafted 11th.