Kevin Goldstein FanGraphs Chat – 4/5/2021 by Kevin Goldstein April 5, 2021 12:02 Kevin Goldstein: Hey everyone. We have baseball! Real games! Stats! Data! Video! Fights! All sorts of fun stuff. Let’s get to the questions…. 12:05 Kevin Goldstein: It’s 2% of the season. No real conclusions to be made. Obviously Oakland had a horrendous weekend, but would you be shocked if they were over .500 in a couple of weeks? I wouldn’t. Some teams looked great like the Phillies and Astros, and some looked like dogcrap, like Oakland and Boston. Feel like it’s too early to get super excited or pessimistic until somewhere towards the end of the month. 12:05 Larry: Would Jud Fabian be better off opting out of the draft and going back to Florida for another year? 12:06 Kevin Goldstein: No. He’ll get picked and get paid, just not as much as he expected in say February. I wrote about his swing and miss issues in the first week of the season, and it hasn’t gone away. Last I looked he was the NCAA leader in whiffs. It’s a real concern, but he does have tools. 12:06 workermonkey: what’s it finally going to take to get rid of local market tv blackout restrictions for baseball? 12:07 Kevin Goldstein: RSNs generate an enormous chunk of revenue for teams, and as long as that’s the case, and it will be for quite some time, this isn’t going to change. 12:07 CoryMC: What were your thoughts on Trent Thornton? He’s not done much but has been decent for the Jays. 12:08 Kevin Goldstein: I though he had really good raw stuff and sub-50 command. Still feels accurate. 12:08 Peter: How much input to teams/front offices have in major MLB decisions like altering the length of the draft? 12:08 Kevin Goldstein: Not much. The five-round thing last year came out of the blue and really caught teams off guard. Everyone was expecting 20 rounds this time around. 12:09 Jeb: If you were the Pirates picking #1, who would you choose if the draft was tomorrow and why? 12:09 Kevin Goldstein: Today? Hard to say anyone but Jack, no? 12:09 Lucas: White Sox twitter is freaking out, due to the team’s freakout on-field. SHould I too be freaking out or is this the ultimate small sample size? 12:09 Kevin Goldstein: Remain calm! All is well! 12:09 steve: iu/ohio state was a fun game to watch this saturday. thoughts on mccade brown or seth lonsaway? 12:10 Kevin Goldstein: I wrote about Lonsway last month. What you saw over the weekend is what happens when he throws strikes. Unfortunately, those times are exceptionally rare. 12:10 Justin: Since the draft is supposed to be a tool to encourage parity in the league, I’m wondering about how much of an advantage a team picking, say, #5, would have over a team picking, say, 25th. Is the draft so much of a (for lack of a better word) crapshoot that the difference isn’t really as big a deal as fans may think it is? And what magnitude would any difference be? Maybe one extra decent eventual MLB piece? 12:11 Kevin Goldstein: It’s not a crap shoot. It is an extreme bell curve however. Top 10 picks are exceptionally valuable. 12:11 dmitry: I was looking through King Felix’s sad decline, then compared it to Scherzer’s dominance, and wondered which was Cole more likely to become. Was there anything about Felix’s or Max’s (or any other elite pitcher’s) profiles that could give us insights to Cole’s aging curve? 12:12 Kevin Goldstein: You are not going to like my answer, but here goes: At any point in time, it is my belief that there are somewhere between 5-10 pitchers who can just go 200 innings every year with no worries about effectiveness or wear and tear. Cole is one of them, Scherzer is one of them. Figuring out who they are is quite hard until they become one. 12:13 Ben Cherington: You said in the most recent Chin Music that you’re still not sure you see what direction I’m going in, but do you have anything to say about any of my hires? Drafting and development comes up around here as one of my predecessors problems and I’m trying to avoid that. 12:13 Kevin Goldstein: I think Ben is good at his job, and I think they have a good staff in place. No we will see how it goes, but it’s not going to go quickly. 12:13 Jeter: about what sample threshold do you “begin to worry about a guy”? 25 games? 12:14 Kevin Goldstein: I really depends on the underlying data more than the stats. One start and velo or spin/shape being down can be concerning, three starts more telling. Same with EVs and angles. 12:14 David (formerly Sonoma State): Generally speaking, how do orgs feel about Driveline? I feel like fans see it as some sort of a Godsend for players. Do orgs feel the same? 12:15 Kevin Goldstein: I think they generally do good work. 12:15 Shodai: Terunofuji: Greatest sports comeback in history? 12:17 Kevin Goldstein: How about it! An absolutely remarkable return to ozeki, even if the last win came against Takakeisho, who is my favorite rikishi. The March basho was a lot of fun with it being wide open because of all the injuries. This has been your KG Sumo Moment, and I hope Shodai shows up more! 12:17 Ml: What would wander Franco slash if he came up and played every day? 12:17 Kevin Goldstein: Higher than Willy Adames. 12:18 The B1G Guy: You love baseball and live in the Big Ten footprint, do you have any insight as to why the Big Ten seemingly views baseball as a nuisance? It’s so bizarre because there are multiple schools (Northwestern, Michigan, Wisconsin) that fit the profile of the types of places that have emerged as solid baseball schools (good academics in a P5 conference). That’s without even mentioning how Ohio State doesn’t seem to bother trying to land guys in a decently talented state (~38 active MLs this year). Are cold weather kids more likely to sign out of HS, or is the Big Ten just not offering as much in terms of scholarships as southern or western schools? 12:18 Kevin Goldstein: What they don’t offer is WARMTH. Best kids go where it’s warm. 12:19 Royal Flush: Morning Kevin! Alec Lewis of The Athletic reported Andrew Benintendi’s Z-Contact this morning: 2018: 83.9%2019: 78.7%2020: 76.7%2021: 70.6% Is this small sample size or cause for concern for us Royals fans? Anything from a scouting standpoint that jumps out to you in his swing opening weekend? 12:19 Kevin Goldstein: It’s concerning. He didn’t look good this spring either. 12:19 Guest: What is the difference between a Director of Player Personnel and Director of Player Procurement? Angels have both. 12:20 Kevin Goldstein: Who really knows? The title game in major league baseball is an exceptionally fun one. Plenty of people with the same titles doing completely different jobs on a day to day basis. 12:20 Jacques Pederson: Which is better/cooler/more impressive to you: big pull-side power or big opposite field power? Can a player have one more than the other, or is that an approach issue? 12:20 Kevin Goldstein: Power hitters can pull the ball, HITTERS WITH POWER can go oppo. Oppo always impresses me more. 12:21 Rob: Obviously encouraging start for the Astros. How was Chas McCormick viewed within the org while you were there? It’s very early but there seems to be enough in the bat to warrant average regular corner AB upside in the future. 12:21 Kevin Goldstein: Pretty mixed. Everyone thought he was a big leaguer at least. Some saw him with a chance to be an every day player, some saw him as more of a nice fourth outfielder. I’m in the latter category. 12:22 Together Royal: Is this offense this good or is this too small of a sample / Rangers are terrible? 12:22 Kevin Goldstein: Gonna be a long year in Dallas. 12:22 Mariners Mojo: Why won’t they allow all draft picks to be traded, like they do in other sports? Is there some underlying factor that affects it? 12:22 Kevin Goldstein: There isn’t, and I’ve always been a supported of allowing for the trading of picks through the first ten rounds. 12:23 Robert: Ohtani? Ohtani! Ohtani?! 12:24 Kevin Goldstein: It’s absolutely remarkable, but I still worry about his ability to do it for an entire season. 12:24 Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: You’ve opined that getting in bed with gambling is bad for the sport, right? The godawful Bally scorebug’s ticker was apparently designed so that we can bet on the games in real time. I’m don’t love the only TV broadcasts for many fans constantly telling people to gamble, to say nothing of the distraction and waste of vertical screen space.“We designed it that way with [betting] in mind so that we could eventually insert propositions or betting lines or predictive gaming [elements] easily.”https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/03/30/how-sinclair-pulled-off-the-gar… 12:24 Kevin Goldstein: I have not so opined, and I’m a bit of a contrarian on the issue. It doesn’t really bother me. 12:25 Eli: Do you think that it is more the Orioles are decent, or are the Red Sox going to be as bad as they were last year? 12:25 Kevin Goldstein: Neither? I don’t think the Red Sox will be a .500 team this year, and I don’t think Baltimore will lose 100. 12:25 TKDC: You highlighted Sean Hunley last week. How do you view Brannon Jordan of USC? Sits 90-92 but is just striking the hell out of batters. Supposedly has a crazy spin rate. 12:26 Kevin Goldstein: Don’t have an opinion at April 5th at 11:26 am CST, but you’ve inspired me to take a lookie loo at him. 12:27 Jeter: Are you personally for or against international player draft? 12:27 Kevin Goldstein: Against. 12:27 Jack M: Best arm in the draft not named Leiter or Rocker? 12:27 Kevin Goldstein: I’m a pretty big Ty Madden fan. 12:28 Chris: I don’t know if you’d know the answer to this or not, but does the league actually have any intention of cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances, or is it all talk and no action will be taken to back it up? 12:28 Kevin Goldstein: I don’t know the answer, but there was no sign of it during the opening weekend, when I saw plenty of arms going to the sticky stuff. 12:29 Matt: Did you see this coming for Merryweather? His stuff looks dominant… 12:29 Kevin Goldstein: I did not, and yes, his stuff looked insane. 12:29 Tarheel_23: Hey 12:29 Kevin Goldstein: Ho. 12:29 Tom: Better prospect..Spencer Torkelson or Julio Rodriquez? 12:30 Kevin Goldstein: We have a Top 100 list. It’s up. It’s an ordinal ranking. Answer is right there for you. 12:30 Bettsbellingercaruso: If you were the Rockies GM how would you try to turn Coors into your advantage? 12:30 Kevin Goldstein: I wouldn’t try. I would just try to build the best baseball team, regardless of park. 12:31 Eric: Michael A Taylor looked great in the opening series. and apparently made some swing changes, but being 30, there’s gotta be a slim chance that he’s due for a breakout, right? 12:31 Kevin Goldstein: He might be a good candidate actually. Swing changes are easy to see. Much easier and much more well connected beginning to the operation. 12:32 Heisenberg: Your Up and In podcast was phenomenal-I’m enjoying chin music but are there any plans to do to do a show that involves more prospect evaluations like up and in did? 12:32 Kevin Goldstein: Maybe! There will be more to talk about in that regard now that we have actual games. 12:33 BillOnTheShore: First off, the correct answer to “Hey” is “Yo.” Just ask Razor Ramon.Second, is there any chance the “Rio Ruiz, starting 2B” experiment actually works long-term (or at least for 2021) for the Orioles? 12:34 Kevin Goldstein: He has good hands . . . like I don’t think he’ll be good there, but I don’t think he’ll be a disaster either. Also, I had to google to find out who Razor Ramon was. That’s a helluva haircut. 12:35 Jeter: Do you agree baseball has a 3-true outcome problem? Is it driven by the obsession with efficiency? What would be your change or two to remedy. 12:35 Kevin Goldstein: Certainly less action, but I don’t have a fix for it that doesn’t break the game. 12:36 Bernie,: Can eathan Small be a big time starter? 😄 12:36 Kevin Goldstein: He can be A starter, but ‘big time’ feels like a bit much. 12:37 Dee Arby: If Mick Abel got 20 starts this year, what do you think his stat line would be? 12:37 Kevin Goldstein: Like . . . in the big leagues? I don’t know . . . six ERA. Major League baseball is insanely hard. 12:37 Get the shot!: Hey KG, I saw the Cardinals and Angels reached the 85% vaccine mark. Do you know if anyone is tracking which teams are above 85%? 12:39 Kevin Goldstein: Good question! I haven’t seen anyone tracking it, but I sure hope it happens for all 30 teams. I got my first shot on Wednesday and shot two coming on April 28. 12:39 Dee Arby: Ok if Kevin Goldstein got one start in the majors this year, would he make it out of the first inning? 12:39 Kevin Goldstein: Of course not. 12:39 Lucas: When should I get excited that the “collect all the slow control guys” experiment my Cub’s are doing is going to work? 12:39 Kevin Goldstein: When they get some power arms. 12:39 Guest: Who do you like better between Robert and Kirilloff long term? Both have some swing and miss…but lots of power. 12:40 Kevin Goldstein: Robert has more power, and also can do WAY more things to win a baseball game. Not even close, really, and I like Kirilloff. 12:40 Jack M: Thoughts on Mark Appel trying to make a comeback? Based on his time in the Astros system, do you think he could be successful, or just didn’t have big league stuff? 12:41 Kevin Goldstein: I mean . . . I just don’t know. I have no idea what he or his stuff looks like right now. Obviously odds should start off pretty long. 12:42 Chris: Assuming Correa leaves Houston, who do you like as a replacement for him? 12:42 Kevin Goldstein: Jeremy Pena is going to be a good player in the big leagues. Not sure if Opening Day 2022 is a fair timetable . . . 12:42 Guest: How do you feel about Patrick Sandoval? Is he actually a starter? 12:43 Kevin Goldstein: Could see him being a solid back-of-rotation type. 12:43 Logan: Do you think Mercedes’ bat against lefties can hold up well enough to justify a roster spot as a platoon DH? 12:43 Kevin Goldstein: I think “platoon DH” is a very limited position to assign a roster spot to. 12:45 David: With that long summer for the Rangers coming, do the Rangers trade Gallo or try to build around him? What would you do? 12:45 Kevin Goldstein: Definitely explore the trade market. He’s going to be a free agent before the team is good again. 12:45 Don: Leody taveras does he need more minor league time and.hia future? 12:46 Kevin Goldstein: I think he kind of is what he is — a phenomenal defensive centerfielder with a very light bat. 12:47 Kevin Goldstein: I mean, Taveras’ career minor league OPS is under 700, I never understood why anyone would think he’d hit in the big leagues. 12:47 John: We often hear about how strangely the Rockies are run. But what is it like to interact or deal with them from inside the industry? 12:48 Kevin Goldstein: I never dealt with them personally. We split negotiation amongst teams we had relationships with, so I didn’t get Colorado. 12:49 Bettsbellingercaruso: Who would you rather have if it were a 3, 5, 10 yr contracts: seager, correa or Story? 12:49 Kevin Goldstein: A. Seager B. Seager C. Seager 12:50 Guest: During the public stalemate between the Mets and Lindor last week, a lot of people (especially Mets fans, but at least one of your colleagues here) were suggesting that the Mets should give Lindor what he was asking for because Cohen has $15B and can afford it- basically, tying Cohen’s ability to pay to Lindor’s market value. As someone who has been part of player evaluation and negotiations on behalf of a team, how do you react to this argument? 12:50 Kevin Goldstein: I say it all of the time. The money is there. Either the owners get it or the players. Those are your two choices. 12:50 Oddball Herrera: Over/Under Pujols is shuffled off to a front office role so he doesn’t have to be benched, June 1? 12:50 Kevin Goldstein: 0% 12:52 Guest: Mariners are going to have to bench either Trammell or Fraley when Lewis comes back… what should they do? 12:52 Kevin Goldstein: Nothing wrong with creating a rotation and picking good spots for all three…. 12:53 Mitch: How likely is it within the next 5-10 years we see the mound moved back by x feet? Players are bigger, stronger and more talented than when the original diamond layout was constructed. 12:53 Kevin Goldstein: Highly unlikely. I understand your goal, but I think it would have an undesired outcome of WAY more walks. Like crazy more. 12:53 Dee Arby: How do you watch the games during the day? One at a time? Split screens? Flip between them all? 12:54 Kevin Goldstein: I see people posting screenshots of them watching like six games at once and I just don’t understand what someone gets out of that. I usually do one at a time, and never more than two. 12:54 Matty: Why do you like Madden as the top draft arm (leiter and rocker aside) 12:55 Kevin Goldstein: Like the frame, like the delivery, like the stuff. It all looks like an easy translation to pro ball. 12:55 yo-eleven: In various discussions of prospects here on the site, I’ve seen various mentions of data like minor league exit velocity. Is that something that’s publicly available here, or is that something non-public that your writers get because you have a source in the industry that provides it for you? 12:55 Kevin Goldstein: Unfortunately, more the latter. I wish that stuff was public. 12:55 Aaron: Before the 2019 season Hiura was given a 50 present-grade hit tool with a future 60. Now 2 years later a 30 grade might even seem generous. What’s going on with him? Was there something the scouting industry missed? 12:56 Kevin Goldstein: When I watch him, it’s really frustrating. I feel like the power surge has created some issues and he now goes up there as a slugger as opposed to a hitter. 12:56 Andrew: Best console for RPGs, all time? 12:56 Kevin Goldstein: Xenogears, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, Persona 4: Golden. 12:59 BillOnTheShore: Any way the Orioles can keep getting away with César Valdez as their closer? Not many MLB closers whose best pitch is a change-up, but the dead fish seems to work for him thus far. 12:59 Kevin Goldstein: Not a ton of options, and he’s fun to watch, but in terms of performance, he’ll be a below average closer. 1:01 Kevin Goldstein: I have a lot of questions about this player streaming or that player streaming and it seems like some kind of fantasy question and I’m sorry but I just don’t know what it is! I don’t think they’re on Twitch…. 1:01 nathan: Seattle a fit for Corey Seager this winter? If I am Dipoto I’d pick up Kyle’s option as a selling point 1:02 Kevin Goldstein: Tough to see them getting involved at that $$$ level. 1:02 Julius: In the NHL the players bargained for an explicit share of league revenues (they bargained for 50%, with payments from an escrow if the obligation is not met). Does the MLB have such an arranegement? Would something like that work in the MLB? 1:03 Kevin Goldstein: There is no such arrangement in MLB. I think it can sound good on paper, but would lead to extended arguments on what exactly defines revenue. Tons of teams own tons of property around their stadiums. That property generates a lot of revenue. That revenue is not counted by teams as baseball revenue is just one example. 1:03 bielak: thoughts on Brandon Bielak? Can he be a #4 type? thanks 1:04 Kevin Goldstein: He can be. I don’t have a ton of confidence in it, but he does have the best pitching coach in baseballl…. 1:05 Appa Yip Yip: This is Chrono Trigger erasure 1:05 Kevin Goldstein: It’s up there! Just not top three for me. 1:05 booyahachieved: would like to know your thoughts on a few college guys. Sal Frelik and Gunnar Hoglund 1:06 Kevin Goldstein: Good chance both go in the first half of the first round. 1:06 Jason: Last night, the White Sox started Billy Hamilton in LF with Robert in CF. Does that make sense, or should they move Robert to LF when Hamilton is in the game (which should almost always be as a defensive replacement)? 1:06 Kevin Goldstein: If I was starting both, I’d also put Robert in CF. 1:07 Jazz Chisholm: You missed on me big time. 1:07 Kevin Goldstein: Did I? 1:07 Andrew: Gush about Brent Strom for a sec – what do you think makes him the best? 1:08 Kevin Goldstein: Incredible communication, incredible understanding and application of data, while also questioning it at the right time. 1:09 Jeremy: Saw you mentioned Jacob Campbell of Illinois the other day. Is Branden Comia doing enough to get on or rise on draft boards? 1:09 Kevin Goldstein: He came into the year with a pretty solid reputation already. 1:09 Jj: How do front offices use public prospect lists? Are they referenced in trade negotiations? 1:10 Kevin Goldstein: They are. Some are weighed more than others. It’s valuable to see how the outside world sees your players. 1:11 Jeff: Anyone in the media going to eat crow once the Cubs own the NL Central and Kris Bryant is in the MVP hunt again? 1:12 Kevin Goldstein: Like . . this year? I mean, it’s the NL Central. Nobody is really good. It could happen. I just don’t get why you seen to attach some media-driven revenge into the narrative. 1:12 Guest: How do FOs relate breakouts? Do they see the in-house ones coming and they’re already high-fiving or do they need to see the results and THEN start high-fiving? (i.e. same time as fans.) We’re given Statcast and some stats, but I have to imagine a team has a head start on seeing their own players make a performance change. 1:13 Kevin Goldstein: Yeah sure, they absolutely correctly forecast some based on underlying metrics/data and input from coaches. 1:14 Jason: It seems like there’s always a team that arrives at contention a year earlier than expected; any thoughts on who that might be this year? 1:14 Kevin Goldstein: The Mariners? 1:15 Jeff: We’ve gone mad 1:15 Kevin Goldstein: It’s understandable. Global pandemics and all that. 1:15 WhiteSoxFan: If you could build a real MLB team for one year only and knew everyone’s WAR in advance, would there be any reason to not pick the highest WAR player at each position (assuming intangibles such as leadership, etc. were even)? 1:16 Kevin Goldstein: I could see making a couple of changes here and there to create different looks out of the pen, creating a better clubhouse, finding the right catcher…. 1:16 j: is it a good idea for aspiring analyst to take AP Stat in high school or is it better to wait till college to start studying? 1:17 Kevin Goldstein: Sure, take it. Important to note that I graduate high school with a 2.0 and have zero college credits. 1:17 Duchess: If this is who Burnes is now, he is a top 10 starter, no? 1:17 Kevin Goldstein: The potential is there. 1:18 Whereamidude20: Tigers don’t have any star power but they appear to be pretty deep with solid big leaguers. Could they surprise this year? 1:19 Kevin Goldstein: I think they’ve entered that first step in a rebuild where you at least have to take them seriously when you play them. 70-72 wins wouldn’t surprise me. 1:20 Jeb: Xenogears – what makes it great? Not questioning your view, just curious to hear what stands out in your mind. I remember it coming out, but I’ve never played it and thus have no opinion. 1:21 Kevin Goldstein: Insane story. King of the kill god in the end JRPG trope. 1:22 Depressed Orioles Fan: According to BA, an anonymous NL VP of scouting said “I know the Orioles are in rebuild mode, but come on. It’s embarrassing to the sport what they’re doing, or aren’t doing. They’re not even signing the better minor league free agents, in my opinion.” Is there something to this? I really don´t have the optimism many others do that this rebuild is going well. Outside of Adley and some good minor league pitching development, are the O´s setting themselves up to be a real contender? 1:23 Kevin Goldstein: I have no idea what signing the better minor league FAs really accomplishes for them. They’re slowly improving. The system is way better. It’s going to take a while, but I have no idea how it could be going quicker. 1:23 La parole et le chair: Why do teams release players and then resign them a day later? 1:24 Kevin Goldstein: Avoiding retention bonuses, and mostly freeing up roster spots by switching from a major league deal to a minor league one. 1:24 Guest: What went wrong for Mark Appel? Everyone seemed to agree on his ability for two years. Did he just burn out in college? 1:25 Kevin Goldstein: If teams were as advanced on pitch data as they were in Appel’s draft year, he wouldn’t have gone as high as he did. He still certainly would have been a high first-round pick however. He just didn’t develop and then he got hurt. 1:26 Chris: Do you think that the Angels are making a mistake by allowing Ohtani to be a two-way player? It’s exceptionally difficult to be an Ace or an impact position player. Wouldn’t it be better to have him focus exclusively on being GREAT at one or the other (as opposed to being GOOD at both)? 1:26 Kevin Goldstein: I agree with you, but it feels like we’re in the minority. 1:28 Kevin Goldstein: Ok, folks. Thanks for all the great questions, but I need to clear this space for the great Ben Clemens, who is hitting the chat room in 30 minutes. See you next week!