Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 1/13/2020

4:01
Meg Rowley: Hey pals, will get started here in a moment – just wrapping up a call!

4:08
Desperate for a chat: Hurry up, Meg

4:08
Scotty: Meg, hello

4:08
Meg Rowley: Hello am here!

4:09
Meg Rowley: Sorry about that, everyone. Had to chat with Appelman. Let us chat!

4:09
E.L.: If you’re the Giants would you rather have as little money committed to 2022 as possible or would you spend a little now so your lineup isn’t full of holes in a year?

4:14
Meg Rowley: I don’t think those are mutually exclusive options, though I imagine the club will hue somewhat closely to their very-under-the-luxury-tax-threshold number. I think if there are free agents who they view as can’t miss, the fact that they aren’t quite at the threshold of their next competitive threshold shouldn’t stop them. San Diego wasn’t quite ready when they signed Manny Machado, but you don’t get the chance to sign a Manny Machado every winter. Manny Machados are rare! And the Padres are sure glad to have him now. That said, I think the most important thing the Giants can do is see what they have in the still youngish guys on their roster. As we’ve seen, they’re willing to cycle guys through to try to unearth some valuable players. Keep doing that, keep developing, win and profit, etc etc.

4:14
Guest: So the NL Playoff teams for the next 2-3 yrs are LAD, SDP, NYM, ATL, and whichever team is least mediocre in the central? I’m not sure “parity” should be a goal, but are there are good reasons to believe that other teams can dislodge the frontrunners?

4:18
Meg Rowley: They aren’t in the same tier of farm system quality that San Diego was, but Miami has a lot of high upside, super high variance dudes in their system, which seems to be intentional, and also fairly savvy to me. If a few of those guys hit, you’re in good shape! Arizona will always be in a tough spot because of the Dodgers and now the Padres, and their system is a little less deep after 2020 graduations, but they could be a Wild Card contender too.

4:19
Meg Rowley: And if Cincinnati has a better revenue year, they’ve shown a desire to win, even if they are shedding payroll now.

4:19
Meg Rowley: It isn’t great, but there are a few options.

4:19
JJ: When do you think baseball went wrong in conflating cheap with smart?

4:22
Meg Rowley: This is a big question, and this answer won’t get to all of it, but a big part of it is when being cheap wasn’t as big a deal in being profitable or not. Clubs have a lot of non-baseball revenue streams now, and once you start decoupling profit from winning, you’re in a bad way. I don’t want to lend the impression that owners have always or even often been enthusiastic spenders, or that analytics, which has assisted in the optimization of rosters, didn’t play its role, but that’s part of it. When the Cubs are enthusiastic about real estate, something is amiss.

4:22
Myfanwy N.: Hi meg! Weird question: I read an article the other day about how people who grow up in SE Asia develop a “natural squat” due to the prevalence of squat toilets. Do you think a person with that kind of background who became a catcher would be less susceptible to knee injuries down the road? Would it give them a competitive advantage?

4:25
Meg Rowley: I don’t know the article you’re referencing, but I struggle to believe in the squattest of squatty pottys would prepare a person for the rigors of catching. Squatting assisted (what am I even talking about?!) is so different from unsupported squatting for three hours every day, and knees aren’t the only catcher issue. They just really get the shit kicked out of them back there.

4:25
Meg Rowley: Interesting idea though

4:26
toshi: When do you think will be the earliest to see Kelenic and J Rod in the same outfield for the Ms? And who is the most likely 3rd outfielder then? Lewis, Trammell, or somebody else?  Thanks.

4:30
Meg Rowley: 2022 — I think we see Kelenic in 2021, but J Rod isn’t ready just. Small sample, and I don’t know how much of it is the wrist, but his LIDOM stint wasn’t great, and it seemed like his breaking ball recognition could use some work. I think he’ll be good, but a full minor league season would be very helpful. And by then, Lewis and probably Trammel, though some of that answer depends on what the deal is with Haniger is and whether Lewis sustains and stays healthy. Pretty sure Trammel has to get added to the 40-man this year, so that’ll factor, too.

4:30
Concerned Citizen: Meg, it feels like your chats seem to overlap with political instability in the US. Any chance you move the chat to Thursday for a week to see if it is causal or just correlated? At this rate, your chats will coincide with Martian invasion.

4:30
Meg Rowley: Hey I had a really good track record before last week!

4:30
Derek: How many playoff teams will there be and also is there a universal DH for the season whose spring training starts in less than one month?

4:31
Meg Rowley: I’m going to say we revert to the prior Wild Card format and that we don’t have a DH.

4:31
Meg Rowley: Excited to be very wrong!

4:32
Pared Jorter: Do you think Kluber or Paxton will have a higher WAR in 2021?

4:32
Meg Rowley: Paxton – the velo isn’t what it was, at least not right now (he was up to 94 when he threw for teams a few weeks ago), but he has more wiggle room to work with.

4:32
Mike Rizzo: Do you like the Schwarber signing for the Nats?

4:34
Meg Rowley: You have to work really hard to pen a bad one-year deal, but yeah, I like this one. I think the bat is better than what he showed in 2020, the Nats need a boost to their outfield production away from Soto, and he’s a natural option if I’m wrong about the DH and they find themselves needing one.

4:35
Meg Rowley: Ben’s piece on this was good https://blogs.fangraphs.com/kyle-schwarber-is-the-newest-national/

4:35
Guest: Hello! I don’t have any questions. I just want to remind everyone that Francisco Lindor is now a New York Metropolitan.

4:35
Meg Rowley: I actually appreciate this reminder because what is time?

4:36
Meg Rowley: The Snell and Darvish deals? Those were just two weeks ago!

4:36
Cito’s Mustache: What’s your confidence level in the league pulling off a full 162 game season?

4:36
Meg Rowley: 50/50, but my confidence they play at least 120 is very high?

4:36
Tom: Looking to deal Lamet and willing to move down the SP rankings. Who are good options to target?

4:36
Meg Rowley: It would be a good option to target this question at one of our fantasy writers!

4:37
Meg Rowley: (good luck, though!)

4:37
Rodney: Do you think the Pacific Northwest could support more major league baseball? Portland seems obvious, but the Greater Vancouver Area has 2.5 million people and wildly supported it’s short-season team. Perhaps the jump to A-ball this year will help the case…

4:39
Meg Rowley: I assume the market research is pretty compelling or they wouldn’t have entertained it to the degree they did (it being Portland). I think they could support a team. I don’t know that they are the most starved for in-person access to baseball, so maybe that should sway things, but yeah, it would be a fun rivalry.

4:40
bighen: Better player over the next 5 years – Springer or Conforto ?  Basically if Mets need to allocate funds to one, which one should they prioritize ?  Don’t cop out and say they don’t need to allocate, they do.   Cohen is not going to set money on fire, he’s just not.

4:44
Meg Rowley: I’d extend Conforto if I had to pick one. A lot of the injury stuff seems fluky, I think his bat is probably a wash, and while he’s in left for a reason, he’s also younger, and you figure Springer will move outta center in the course of a deal anyhow.

4:45
Sharp: If MLB went like the NFL and brought in partnerships with kids shows, who would you want?

4:47
Meg Rowley: In the booth? I think there are a lot of really dynamic young players who would be great. Put two active players and a youngish announcer in there to keep it moving and see what you get. Communicating to kids is its own skill, but I bet they could do it.

4:47
Guest: Was interested, then went to your twitter to find out more about you. Unfortunately, cliche liberal that attacks conservatives and cheers for censorship.Never mind, will ignore you in future.

4:48
Meg Rowley: I’m sorry, I just don’t think we should do violent coups, here or elsewhere.

4:48
Meg Rowley: Anti-coup chat.

4:48
Blambino: Is the long ice age over with the Hendriks signing? Will we start to see free agency start speeding up, or are most teams still waiting on confirmation of the DH?

4:49
Meg Rowley: I think we at least see movement in the reliever market now.

4:49
Jon: Hello Meg, happy Meg Chat with Meg! Where do you fall on the “does Bauer deserve to beat Cole’s AAV” argument? I have a tough time seeing him beat it even if he only wanted two or three years

4:52
Meg Rowley: I don’t think he will – I know Cole really blossomed in Houston and I know the sticky stuff debate doesn’t uh, exclude him, but I think his performance is more reliable, the highs higher, the economic conditions were different, and the persona less irksome. That last one won’t carry the day, to be clear, but.

4:52
The Ghost of Wade Boggs: What are your favorite types of baseball questions to be asked? Team Specific, Big Picture, Things Related to Oddities, Rules and Rule Changes, Economics, etc . . .

4:53
Meg Rowley: I think a mix makes for a good chat – the “Player X for Player Y, which team says no” questions aren’t my favorite, but they are preferable to fantasy baseball questions, which, look, I just don’t know, friends.

4:53
Re: Nats: Hi Meg – can you clear up the differences between the ETAs for prospects on THE BOARD vs the RosterResource page? Do those reflect the assessments of different evaluators?

4:55
Meg Rowley: Much of what drives the ETAs on The Board is when a player has to be added to the 40-man in order to be protected from the Rule 5 draft, though there are exceptions to that. I think (I think!) that Jason is making more of a roster-need based determination.

4:56
Anthony: Trying not to get to excited over my hometown White Sox team chances in 2021. But Jeff Passan at ESPN mentioned them as the team to beat in the AL (although that too is admittedly shallow praise considering the two powers in the NL West). Should I let myself get excited or is this praise undo/premature?

4:58
Meg Rowley: Many free agents still to be signed, and the Depth Chart projections will change some when ZiPS gets folded in, but your excitement isn’t irrational – we have them second in the AL, narrowly behind the Yankees (though also only narrowly ahead of the Astros and Twins): https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=ALL&teamid=1

4:58
Jeff: Any thoughts on baseball fans’ current role in labor relations between players and owners? I think the owners act so confident because the fans are so extremely on their side

4:59
Meg Rowley: I have a more depressing answer for you – I don’t think the preferences of fans motivate ownership that much these days. That isn’t uniformly true, nor true to the same degree where it is, and here I am distinguishing between ownership and baseball ops (though there isn’t always daylight there!) but it’s less of a driver than it should be.

4:59
Kate: Any idea when ZiPS wil be folded into depth charts and available on the player pages?  Thanks!

5:00
Meg Rowley: Very soon – Dan is just ironing out the kinks now!

5:00
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: For those interested in regional variation in squatting, The Atlantic wrote about it a while back.
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/03/can-you-do-the-asia…
I’m skeptical it matters for catching because it’s not like squatting flat on your feet is a secret.

5:00
Adam: Would you say that with the current signings (and their dollar value), the “covid -> tough offseason for free agents” narrative has been proven wrong? Or is it still to early to tell?

5:02
Meg Rowley: Still too early to tell – think of how many guys are still unsigned! I think those who have signed have done better than expected, though since folks’ estimates, including ours, assume a shit market, it’s still worth asking if the deals are actually good.

5:02
Robert: Having trouble deciding if it’s even worth it to root for my Mariners this year. It’s nice to root for the kids, but there is also a glut of Flexen-type bodies, and ownership clearly isn’t interested in signing snyo

5:02
Robert: … anyone good. Thoughts?

5:03
Meg Rowley: Poor Chris Flexen! Flexen is interesting! His curve might work! It could be bad! But it is also different than it was!

5:05
Meg Rowley: I don’t say that to say you have to like the Mariners this season. They will probably be pretty bad at times. I say that to say, leave poor Chris Flexen out of it.

5:05
Meg Rowley: I think you’re very free to check in every now and again, see how it is going, and then check out.

5:05
Meg Rowley: It is ok to not tough out the rebuild. You aren’t a worse fan or a worse person. You’re just busy and only alive so long.

5:06
Fart Barfunkel: Do you think we’ll see some random surprise trades of arb eligible guys before Friday’s deadline?

5:06
Meg Rowley: Good question, Fart.

5:07
Meg Rowley: Not really, if only because the arb amounts aren’t often that surprising, and because once a contract value is locked in, it’s actually easier to trade.

5:07
David: When do you personally think you’ll feel comfortable attending a game in person this season?

5:08
Meg Rowley: Depends what in person means. In the press box? Right away. In the stands? After we’re all vaccinated.

5:09
Meg Rowley: Ok friends, I gotta get rolling.

5:09
Meg Rowley: Thanks for the questions, and I’m sorry for what I didn’t get to. Tune in next week for the alien invasion!





Meg is the managing editor of FanGraphs and the co-co-host of Effectively Wild. Prior to joining FanGraphs, her work appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside.

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