Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 1/29/19

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello, and welcome to the chat!

2:00
Well-Beered Englishman: If every team in the MLB offered you identical $300M contracts, which team/city would you choose, and why?

2:02
Meg Rowley: The following represents a list of places I personally would not mind living. It is not a list meant to denigrate any other city, or your preferences for them. But:

2:03
Meg Rowley: 1) Seattle 2) Denver 3) San Diego 4) Phoenix

2:03
Gaslamp Gary: How much of an upgrade at 3B would Moustaksa be compared to Machado? I  mean, either one would be an obvious upgrade. But is Mous THAT much worse, considering the price?

2:06
Meg Rowley: These projections are early (they don’t yet fold in ZiPS) but Machado is projected for 5.1 wins; Moustakas is projected for 2.7. Kiley’s estimated AAV for Machado was $31 million; Moustakas was $22. Granted, that deal would be much shorter, but you know who would be a really big help on a very good, young Padres team? Manny Machado.

2:07
James: Would you agree that the Angels will not be making the playoffs if they are counting on Pujols contributing anything significant this year (above 0 WAR)?

2:07
Meg Rowley: I feel less sure of their pitching. The Pujol situation is not good, but honestly, I don’t think that is the thing that does them in.

2:08
Jordan (South Dakota): I’m sitting here waiting for Bryce and Manny to sign. What’s more likely to happen first? Both sign, or the Twins add Wander Javier to the 40 man? The Twins can’t be lost forever wandering the frozen midwest here. The answer is in the system!

2:09
Meg Rowley: I think Machado goes before Harper, and I remain thoroughly indifferent to Wander Javier, though I wish him well as a human person.

2:09
thebearproofsuit: Does Roy Halladay’s first ballot election give any hope to Felix Hernandez’s HOF chances?  There’s still a chance, right?   I could imagine him getting in through a veterans committee.  Then again, I could see Todd Zeile getting in through a veterans committee….

2:11
Meg Rowley: I think we shouldn’t discount the very circumstances that surrounded Halladay’s election. Which isn’t to say that he isn’t worthy of the Hall. To get at the heart of your question, I think he is a really interesting test case for how the modern starter profile is and needs to evolve. Sadly, I also think he is an increasingly less useful comp to Felix, who really needs to regain some ground, shifting standards or no.

2:11
Corey Seager: How concerned are you about me offensively and defensively? Was 2016 my peak?

2:12
Meg Rowley: A little, but not in a way I expect will persist past spring, and a little, but mostly because I think you are likely to move off short at some point, though I think that more because of how your lateral quickness is likely to age than because I am concerned about the injuries lingering.

2:12
Meg Rowley: Corey is really good, and I expect him to be again.

2:12
Bigredlives: The M’s need another catcher right? Who is left? Do they get one through FA, or trade, or waivers?

2:14
Meg Rowley: I would not be comfortable going with Narváez and Freitas’ defense, but also, what does it really matter this year? I imagine they’ll be opportunistic (it is Jerry after all) but at least publicly, they’ve indicated another bullpen move is likely more forthcoming.

2:14
2-D: The Indians and Marlins have made two trades in the Marlins’ existence. Purely coincidental I’m sure but I want to believe it’s tied into Major League somehow.

2:15
Meg Rowley: This is one of those fun things that is impossible to prove and does no harm to believe, so run wild with it, I think.

2:15
AAR: Do you prefer 1 or 2 spaces after ending a sentence?  What about a colon?

2:16
Meg Rowley: There should be one space after either. We mostly don’t use monospaced fonts or typewriters anymore.

2:16
Meg Rowley: Sam Miller once said that every two-spacer will accidentally slip a three-spaced sentence into every draft, and like most things, he was absolutely write.

2:17
Junior: Do you think the Marlins are leaking trade details to the media as a negotiating tactic?  There seems to be much more rumor activity when the Marlins are involved.

2:17
Meg Rowley: I know there is some variation across front offices– there are orgs that really don’t leak much, but the Marlins don’t strike me as particularly aggressive on that score. I think it is likely mostly a function of them having this very good, intriguing player they’ve been trying to trade for an age.

2:18
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: The O’s top prospect is…a just-drafted prep lefty whose name is “DL”? Please tell Eric and Kiley that subtlety is important in humor.

2:18
Meg Rowley: Sometimes life gives us little presents.

2:18
Rox Fan: Daniel Murphy can’t actually be the lone move of the winter for the Rockies, can he…?

2:18
Meg Rowley: They remain just one of the most confusing organizations in baseball.

2:18
Meg Rowley: Truly confounding at times.

2:19
Gaslamp Gary: Meg, I live in Olympia, WA, in Mariners country but I am also a Padres fan (native San Diegan). Is there a way I can restart my baseball fandom? I think I did it wrong…

2:19
Meg Rowley: You are always free to root for whichever team brings you joy, however you define it. Life is too short to not enjoy things, although sometimes baseball offers us a low-stakes way to feel sad about stuff.

2:20
Curlin: Any idea when Kikuchi will be added to player pages, depth charts, etc?

2:20
Meg Rowley: It should be soon- there is a specific bit of info necessary from this process. We’re on it, and appreciate your patience.

2:21
Nicholas Strauss: In Cincinnati in the late 60s and early 70s players like Benc  and Rose insisted that money for pre-and post game shows be shared equally among all the players not just stars.  Players who are unlikely to appear on the show often if at all shared and the money awarded for appearing on the pre-and post game show.

Why don’t current players try to do something along the same lines for the minor-league players?

2:23
Meg Rowley: I think we are seeing more major leaguers come around on this issue, and give voice to the plight of minor leaguers. I think it’s also useful and important to distinguish between players as individuals with views and opinions and sympathies, and players as a bargaining unit. Minor leaguers aren’t in the union, but have at times been leveraged to secure benefits for union members. I think the union is likely (hopefully?) more clear eyed about how good (both strategically and morally) of a strategy that is.

2:24
Anthony: Minor-league pay is a travesty and a borderline human rights concern, so I completely understand the attention devoted to that. I don’t get why I should care how MLB players and owners distribute revenues, though, since everybody involved is extremely well-off. Why does it matter if it’s 56-44, 50-50, or 44-56?

2:28
Meg Rowley: For one thing, that split represents a tremendous amount of money. These are not trivial differences. For another, they are related concerns. Think about the avenues players have to make money now. There is a hard cap on international spending. Domestic players enter a draft, and are unable to have all 30 teams bid for their services. In the minors, most aren’t paid a living wage. Teams regularly employ tactics to maintain additional years of control. And when they promoted, their salaries are kept low for years, irrespective of their actual contributions on the field. And unless players hit the market quite early, teams are increasingly unwilling to balance out those suppressed earnings in free agency.

2:29
Meg Rowley: I don’t think anyone is wrong to say that there is a great moral urgency to the plight of minor leaguers, but I think it misunderstands the issue to decouple them from one another.

2:29
Meg Rowley: Join me, friends, in being mad about a bunch of stuff at once!

2:29
More than just a Gift Basket: Which is worse for baseball in your opinion- big/biggish market teams not making a push for Harper/Machado, or “smaller market” teams like Miami keeping payroll well under $90 million? Feels like we hear a lot more about the former, but the latter seems as bad or worse to me.

2:29
Meg Rowley: Join me, friends, in being mad about a bunch of stuff at once!

2:30
Meg Rowley: They are related issues, impossible to decouple, both of which fundamentally alter how we perceive the game.

2:30
Adan: With the Reds being rumored to land Realmuto, I’m really hoping they just Go For It and sign Harper, too. Golly, would that be a fun lineup to watch. Highly doubt this would happen though, right?

2:31
Meg Rowley: I both doubt it, and wonder whether it would be enough in a stacked Central but boy is it refreshing to see a baseball team… trying… to… win? Can’t be right.

2:31
Johnny5Alive: similar to gary’s q – the astros owner pointed out that analytics ruined free agent comments, since teams are more inclined to find value than to pay for actual wins.  Thoughts?

2:32
Meg Rowley: I think that teams have definitely gotten smarter but to cede the argument that that is all that is driving this, as opposed to it being the next phase in ownership getting precisely what it wants, is to absolve them of responsibility they absolutely should help shoulder.

2:32
Lunar verLander: Seattle, Denver, San Diego & Phoenix…are those the 4 most meteorologically diverse cities that have MLB teams? Is this just a fancy way to say that you’re a huge Mike Trout fan?

2:35
Meg Rowley: Seattle is my hometown and a wonderful place; Denver is a lot like Seattle but at a higher elevation and with more line dancing. San Diego is a great food city and has a beach. Phoenix has so much other baseball and so is appealing on those terms, plus I quite like the dessert even if the summer temps are terrifying.

2:36
ke’bryan mays hayes: Will Kyler Murray’s decision force MLB to consider the underpaid drudgery of minor league ball a long term threat to the talent pipeline?

2:37
Meg Rowley: I suspect that, as troubling as this development is, they are likely to view it as aberrant enough a case to not change much. That may be overly cynical, but I’m not sure why we’d be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

2:37
Captain ACAB: How about in the next CBA having the MLBPA be the ones to buy the two new expansion teams?  The owners still get their expansion fee bucks and the players get to divvy the revenue money from the new teams as they see fit.

2:38
Meg Rowley: To the extent this a solution, which I’m not convinced it is, it’s a pretty roundabout one.

2:39
Meg Rowley: Have players own teams is a really cool idea, but the next CBA likely needs more direct legislative solutions to the current labor situation.

2:39
Ham: Why hasn’t Mike Leake been traded to a team like the Brewers yet? Is he going to throw a pitch for the Mariners in 2019?

2:40
Meg Rowley: Leake has a full no-trade (I believe) so his market is a little funky; also we don’t know what is on the table right now. Could be traded before this chat is done! And someone has to throw innings for the Mariners.

2:41
Guest: Which team (Dodgers, Reds, Padres, etc.) can provide the best return for J.T. Realmuto?

2:42
Meg Rowley: Padres– system is very deep.

2:42
Pending a Physical: Comeback player of the year for 2019?

2:42
Meg Rowley: Corey Seager? One of The Many Tommy Felled John Pitchers?

2:43
Thomas: It seems like the accusations against Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners’ front office have mostly been forgotten on the media. Am I just not looking in the right spots, or are people waiting for more developments in the story, or has it really just completely fallen off the radar? It feels weird to keep talking about Dipoto as the oh-that-over-active-Jerry when there’s this much more serious story looming over his head

2:45
Meg Rowley: It was recently addressed (Uhhh imperfectly? I think imperfectly is the generous word?) at the recent Mariners media day. It is still part of the news cycle here in Seattle. But I think you’re right that there has been a lull. I think folks are waiting for the results of MLB’s investigation.

2:45
Meg Rowley: But yeah, it is very weird. Just a weird, bad offseason for them.

2:45
Tuesdays con Meg: Where you at right now

2:45
Meg Rowley: Not where you are.

2:46
Lou: The local media in LA, that has always had an undercurrent of being anti-analytics, are the most vocal of the Dodgers’ supposed offseason cheapness (even thought they doled out the biggest contract to a position player to date).  Is it bad that analytics is being associated with the lack of offsetting spending?  Is that fair?

2:48
Meg Rowley: I won’t claim a super in depth knowledge of all the players there, but I’m not sure it is surprising, though I would point out that a lot of analytically inclined writers are also beating this drum. Recall that one reading of the premise of Moneyball was that there were players who weren’t being paid what they were worth because their skills were misunderstood.

2:48
Cito’s Mustache: Which side is less incentivized to improve Minor League salaries – the owners or players – and why?

2:50
Meg Rowley: The owners. It sets a precedent for how they want to compensate labor. Major leaguers aren’t the ones pursuing legislative avenues to exempt minor leaguers from minimum wage laws in AZ.

2:50
Fred: Who is one player you will always stubbornly believe to be on the cusp of a breakout, regardless of what the projections and common sense tell you?

2:50
Meg Rowley: I will forever believe in Mike Zunino.

2:51
Bobby: Analytics has brought a paradigm shift for long term contracts in baseball.  Is it because of great players who are no longer great like Pujols and Miggy that makes owners less likely to give out 10 year 300+ or 400+ million to players?  Isn’t that just rational behavior for owners?  If I was an owner, why would I ever give out 10 years deals in baseball when a player can be very mediocre half way through a deal?

2:51
Meg Rowley: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are literally 26.

2:51
Tony: I think Anthony’s point, though, is that if you’re making more than a million a year you’re doing very well. That’s just rich people fighting over money. But the union does a very good job of privileging post-arb players, frequently making concessions that affect minor-league players (most of whom never earn the big bucks!). It’s precisely because the union has not represented minor-league players that the issues should be decoupled.

2:54
Meg Rowley: The gap between the “richness” of players and the “richness” of owners is profound,  and while you are right that the union has failed to prioritize the right things at times, I find it bizarre that are willing to ding them for the current state of things, but are unwilling to “credit” ownership for those same things. This stuff doesn’t get into the CBA on accident. It is negotiated for as much as again.

2:55
Meg Rowley: Mostly, I wish the rationality and efficiency of ownership side, which often beats the drum of the free market when presented with arguments about how labor and ownership ought to be compensated relative to one another, would decide if it means it. Because this isn’t a free market.

2:55
GSon: Meg.. it was pointed out in Dan Zymsksalikhfsdalkasaski’s latest chat that he was able to take nearly two times as many questions and make two times as many responses than you.. Is there a contest ongoing and where can a wager be placed?

2:56
Meg Rowley: Dan is both very good at chats and also, does not have to run FanGraphs dot com. That is not a knock on Dan, just an illustration of relevant differences.

2:56
Conner from AZ: Rockies and Arenado are going to arbitration over his proposed $30M vs. Rockies $24M. He has consistently stated he wants to compete for championships every year, and the Rockies lone move at the most critical point in their franchise history has been for Daniel Murphy. This is his last year in Denver, isn’t it?

2:57
Meg Rowley: I would think so, which is really too bad.

2:57
Mike: I don’t disagree with either side, but it seems like the writer’s consensus has switched from “big FA deals are terrible decisions” to “why won’t anyone give out big money deals” very quickly? Is this accurate or is it more about the value in Harper/Machado?

2:58
Meg Rowley: I think there is a philosophical argument about the overall split of revenue, and a particular argument about the generational talents that are these two particular players.

2:58
Kev-brrrrrr…: You’re in the bigs, and it’s Player’s Weekend. What nickname is on your uniform?

2:58
Meg Rowley: Meg is a nickname, but probably growler

2:59
Lou: Jason Heyward was 26

2:59
Meg Rowley: Jason Heyward was not as good.

2:59
Egregious Overreach : Which off-season move has the greatest risk of failure

2:59
Meg Rowley: Somehow the answer to this is still Eric Hosmer.

3:00
More than just a Gift Basket: Thanks for acknowledging my question, but I’m not certain I agree or fully understand your response; you say you can’t uncouple the issue of big market teams not going after Harper/Machado and small market teams having tiny payrolls. To me, it seems like the difference is, at a payroll of $160 million you’re paying a pretty decent amount to be competitive- it’s just that you could pay even more to try to dominate (like the Sox/Yankees). At $80 million, like the Marlins and others, you’re basically saying that the only way you can compete is with some combination of scouting, player development, careful attention to windows of success, and blind luck. The way the system is set up makes it almost impossible for a team like the Royals to be consistent winners the way the Yankees/Dodgers/Sox can pay to be. And it provides cover for teams like the Marlins to not even try.

3:02
Meg Rowley: While acknowledging there are differences between the Yankees and the Rays, I’m not sure why we wouldn’t push back on the assertion that this all they are capable of doing. We also might think critically about who gets to own a team.

3:02
Meg Rowley: I’d also note that they were, as group, pretty well unified in their approach to the last CBA negotiation.

3:02
BKJ: I think one reason there is pushback against the notion of free agents being underpaid is that the most unfairly compensated years in the big leagues are years 1-3, especially for (1) superstars and superstar adjacents and (2) breakout stars like Judge. Not that free agents shouldn’t be paid fairly, but no one seems to acknowledge that the entire 6-year rookie contract structure is built to give owners  what we now often understand are a player’s six most productive years at team friendly rates

3:03
Meg Rowley: I think we talk about that a lot, which is part of why most people agree that part of the solution here is getting money to players much, much earlier in their careers.

3:04
Guesto: You don’t have cats, don’t have a particular chili recipe, don’t have an opinion on what constitutes a sandwich, and you’re not a beer aficionado. How long can you get by on just baseball knowledge?

3:04
Meg Rowley: I do have a particular chili recipe and I am a beef aficionado. But for a good long while? I just a bunch of other stuff.

3:04
Baseball Fan: Do you think small market teams pride themselves on finding diamonds in the rough? Could that be a part of keeping spending limited for those teams?

3:05
Meg Rowley: I don’t think the set of choices is spend money or feel good about player development.

3:05
Go Rays: Which is your favorite small-market team

3:06
Meg Rowley: As much as I wish they would spend a lot more, I enjoy the Rays. Oakland, too. I like the creativity those teams show. I think they have good, smart sorts in their organizations. I don’t think they’d get less creative or less smart with a bigger budget.

3:07
Winter Sucks: If Meg is a nickname, what is your actual name?  (Please have the answer be something cool instead of Megan or Margaret. Thx!)

3:07
Meg Rowley: Megan, but blame my folks, I guess.

3:07
Meg Rowley: It was the 80s.

3:07
Meg Rowley: I could have been much worse.

3:07
2-D: Do the Nationals’ odds of bringing back Harper increase each day he doesn’t sign?

3:07
Meg Rowley: I think sure, but I still am skeptical.

3:07
No Cats?: I’m outta here

3:08
Meg Rowley: Landlord says no, and my roommate is allergic anyhow. I think I’d have a dog before a cat but don’t dislike cats.

3:08
r3b1: I’m coming around to the idea that NBA-style max salaries would be largely beneficial to the players, along with abandoning draft pick compensation. I think it’s a fair trade-off. Baseball’s middle class currently get killed as soon as their contracts expire, and I think owner uncertainty is harming the bidding on the top end. Sure, there is definitely collusion going on, but I think it’s really around owners not knowing how high salaries will go…

3:08
Meg Rowley: The NBA also has agreed upon split of revenue.

3:09
Chris: Are the Phillies still the favorite for Harper?

3:09
Meg Rowley: I think yes.

3:09
Rod Beck’s Handbar Moustache: Which is more likely to happen? Darvish >3.5 fWAR or Baez <3 fWAR

3:09
Meg Rowley: I’ll take the Darvish over. Call me an optimist.

3:09
Baseball Fan: Will the MLB expand in the next 10 years?

3:09
Meg Rowley: Yes, I think so.

3:10
Meg Rowley: Portland can support a team, though Tampa might not be able to, so there maybe a little movement, too, but yes, I expect so.

3:10
25 and still in High A: Breakout possibilities for 2019

3:10
Meg Rowley: Aren’t we all possible breakouts? Don’t limit yourself. It’s you!

3:11
Meg Rowley: Alright, friends, I have to get going. Thanks for all of the questions, and sorry for what I didn’t get to.

3:11
Meg Rowley: Be well and have a good week!

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Meg is the managing editor of FanGraphs, the host of FanGraphs Audio, and the co-co-host of Effectively Wild. Her work has appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside.

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There is a world(baseball) east of the Rocky Mountains. However, I don’t blame you for not liking humidity. That’s it, right?