Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 2/24/2021 by Meg Rowley February 24, 2021 4:01 Meg Rowley: Hi everyone, and welcome to the chat – thanks for hanging out and for tolerating my absence last week during Prospects Week. 4:01 Meg Rowley: Let’s get started. 4:01 LLW: You are given ten pills, each of which will increase the baseball talent of the person taking it by 1 win over the course of the 2021 season. Do you allocate all ten to Mike Trout so we get to watch the greatest offensive season of all time, spread them out among guys you like who are struggling, or something other strategy? 4:02 Meg Rowley: What if I gave one to Mike Trout and the remaining nine to the Angels rotation, so that we see both Even Better Trout and Even Better Trout in October. 4:02 Meg Rowley: My other answers involve Nolan Arenado and Francisco Lindor, but they are overly mean, so let’s stick with the thing everyone actually wants. 4:04 Jeremy: Thoughts on Kelenic’s open dissatisfaction? I think he has every right to be upset, but shouldn’t he have to prove it in Spring Training first before saying he belongs on the team? 4:06 Meg Rowley: I can’t begrudge him for saying that he thinks he belongs on the Opening Day roster when the team basically granted that premise and would have had him up if he had agreed to an extension that almost certainly would have been in the team’s favor. 4:07 Meg Rowley: The Mariners shifted the terms of this discussion, not Kelenic. 4:10 Meg Rowley: There are prospect folks who think he could use a little time. Others think he’s ready now (I’m of that same mind). Absent an admission of service time nonsense, that would have been the issue in question, and I think despite his obvious skill that Seattle could have gotten away with keeping him down for a bit. But Mather said both that he would be up in April and that he wouldn’t be up right away. That if the team had had a COVID outbreak that his clock wouldn’t have been started even though they lacked other players to fill in the gaps. That the team offered him an extension, but he turned it down to bet on himself. 4:10 Moose_Bolton: Hi Meg. I loved hearing Luis Scott-Vargas on Fangraphs Audio last week. Two of my favorite things in one podcast. I’m hoping to tell Eric as well on Friday how great that interview was. Can you give any insight into any other potential upcoming guests that might be a bit unexpected like LSV was for me? 4:11 Meg Rowley: I’m so glad you liked it! As someone who started learning to play MTG during quarantine (I’m just really deeply cool), I thought it was really great, too. No one quite like LSV comes to mind, but we’re always happy to hear suggestions for FG Audio if there’s someone listeners think we should be talking to. 4:11 Interested Reader: Has FanGraphs hired a FanGraphs writer from the January 27, 2021 job posting? 4:13 Meg Rowley: We aren’t quite done reviewing resumes. We really appreciate everyone’s patience as we’ve navigated a big server migration and Prospects Week. We’re hoping to update everyone on where they are in the process soon. 4:13 Benintendi: How do you feel about Fangraphs taking such a political left turn in recent years? 4:18 Meg Rowley: I don’t grant the premise of your question. If what you mean (in my experience, this is what folks mean when they level this charge) is that the site, like sports media more broadly is trying to grapple with where baseball and society overlap and influence one another, and that we’ve more critically engaged with the claims of ownership on the economic side, I think that’s true, though as you note, it’s not a new phenomena. Culturally, I think we’ve come to understand that that stuff isn’t distinct from the game; indeed, it is impossible to imagine the game without it. We famously live in a society! There’s plenty of bread and butter stats analysis on the site, and I’m really proud of the work we do there, just like I’m proud of the work that taking a more expansive view of what is baseball allows for. 4:18 Cherington: Could it be beneficial for the Mariners to swap some prospects after for a fresh start? What would it take for me to acquire a vexed Kelenic or Rodriguez? 4:20 Meg Rowley: What it normally would: a whole lot. Nothing about their value to the organization, or on the trade market, has changed. 4:20 BringBackDeSpanielHair: Please tell me I can survive till they start showing spring training games! 4:21 Meg Rowley: May I interest you in some college baseball? 4:22 Jarred Kelenic: If I’m not on the opening day roster, how good are my chances if I file a grievance against the Mariners? 4:25 Meg Rowley: This remains a difficult question. I have to think the candor with which Mather spoke, and the combination of his comments about the team’s top prospects not coming up regardless of the circumstances on the active roster with Kelenic’s refusal to take an extension that almost certainly would have cleared those issues up is pretty compelling. I’m still inclined to think he won’t prevail – not because he shouldn’t but because even Bryant didn’t, but this is the loudest an exec has said the quiet part, so maybe. 4:25 Bill: Does JBJ lower his demand to two years only, thereby perhaps getting some offers from Houston or Boston? Can’t see Astros sticking with Straw as their CF, can you? 4:27 Meg Rowley: I’d imagine he and his reps are waiting for a camp injury or two to move the market, or as you suggest, someone to really falter. I still can’t believe the Mets are satisfied with their outfield configuration. 4:29 Mather’s Mistake: Meg Rowley for Mariners CEO? 🤔 4:29 Meg Rowley: I am not qualified to do that job. 4:29 Bill: Are Addison Russel and Roberto Osuna effectively bring blackballed by MLB (to quote Seinfeld “not that there’s anything wrong with that”)? 4:33 Meg Rowley: I think Addison Russell wasn’t all that good in the KBO and has long had an underwhelming bat, so you’re banking on his defense to carry him, which is probably less appealing at 27 and a position that has better options. There are baseball reasons to go “eh” and that’s before you get to his history off the field. Osuna’s elbow caused him to be shut down in August and the initial recommendation was TJ, though I think there was a second opinion, and I’m not sure where he stands now. 4:34 Meg Rowley: Which is likely enough for teams who don’t want to bring him into their clubhouse to say no thanks. 4:34 resumeman: Any idea if/when we’ll get the usual fantasy summaries on player pages this year? And can you confirm if you’ll be hosting SaberSim again? Thanks for a great website 4:35 Meg Rowley: My understanding is no fantasy summaries, but that we’ll likely have SaberSim again (Appelman is confirming). Thanks for reading! 4:35 GenericDodgerFan: Meg! Hope you and Ben discuss the Mather sitch on Effectively Wild 4:35 Meg Rowley: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/effectively-wild-episode-1659-rotten-mathe… 4:35 Space Ghost: How upset are other owners/presidents/CEOs about what happened with Seattle? 4:36 Meg Rowley: I’d imagine very – not because they take such different approaches in their own orgs but because they’re gearing up for a contentious CBA negotiation and now there’s this out there. 4:36 matt: Are the Mariners upset about what Mathers said or the fact that people heard it? Did he really just say the quiet part loud? 4:37 Meg Rowley: It very much depends who you ask. I imagine the ownership group is mostly peeved he said the quiet part out loud. I think a lot of folks who work for the org and really want the team to win and its players to succeed and be treated with dignity view what he said as genuinely offensive and disheartening. 4:38 Lukas: What are the chances that the NL has a DH This year? 4:38 Meg Rowley: Well I assigned myself the DH blurbs for positional power rankings since there are only 15 of them, so at least 90% 4:38 Meg Rowley: (I don’t think they will) 4:39 Halo fan: It’s hard to believe the Callaway investigation is still ongoing. Seems very possible that it ruled in his favor, hence the silence. Is it just a matter of him either resigning or getting fired, or are the Angels in a tough spot if it did rule in his favor? 4:41 Meg Rowley: It is very strange that it is still ongoing, though I’d be very surprised if the team, which I believe is conducting the investigation in conjunction with MLB, were forced into keeping him if they want to get rid of him. But I agree that it is weird. Not sure what exculpatory evidence they could find here, and his reputation wasn’t exactly a secret, as The Athletic piece noted. 4:41 matt: When do you predict you’ll see a baseball game in person? 4:42 Meg Rowley: As media? Pretty soon. As a person in the stands? Not until I’m vaccinated. 4:43 Myfanwy N.: Hi Meg! Let’s hop on the magic school bus back to an alternate reality where the designated hitter is designed to replace catchers, not pitchers in the batter’s box. With no mandate to be two-way players, just how much better would catchers be league-wide? Would Jeff Mathis have a HOF career? 4:44 Meg Rowley: At catching, you mean? Some, but probably less that you think. The position already allows for some truly putrid bats to get good framers back there. 4:44 Lunar verLander: What’s your most “Am I out of touch? No, it’s the children that are wrong” opinion related to baseball? 4:44 Meg Rowley: Not keen on a robozone. 4:45 Meg Rowley: The good reason being that the tech isn’t there just yet. The less good reason being that I think framing is really cool and enjoy watching it. 4:47 Guest: Am I the only one who thinks Lindor is overrated? As a CLE fan, I wasn’t upset when Lindor left. His defense, while great, is declining and his offense has been empty stats for awhile now. 4:47 Meg Rowley: You are the only person who thinks this, but also, if thinking this eases his exit from Cleveland for you, I think it is fine to feel that way. 4:48 NF: How many years do you think it will take for a team that’s not the Dodgers or Padres to win the NL West? I see no chance in sight for the next few years at a minimum, but I’d be interested in your thoughts. 4:51 Meg Rowley: I think that Arizona’s farm system is very impressive, but their owner seems disinclined to spend. San Francisco might spend, but has further to go with their farm, though it isn’t bad. The Rockies exist! The thing with the Dodgers and Padres (also the Padres! what a delight to say!) is that they’re good at both. Hard to disrupt the perpetual motion machines. But also, five years is a long time in baseball! Let’s say six. I am not confident! 4:53 Fanhandrew Zaidman: Andrew Friedman has said a few times this off season that the Dodgers don’t analyze their yearly payroll in a vacuum, but rather in 2, 3, 4 year snapshots. Is that process industry standard, or is this the Dodgers zigging while the rest of the league zags? 4:56 Meg Rowley: Pretty standard. Because CBT penalties escalate based on how many years a team is over the various thresholds (and how much over they are), it’s pretty common for teams to think about when they want or need to go over and then try to dip under in the years leading up to that to minimize the penalties. 4:57 Kite: From a financial perspective from MLB and the MLBPA, isn’t league expansion the easiest way to increase revenue? More fans, new cities, etc. I assume both sides will agree like the DH and have trouble in the new CBA with this. Why? 4:57 Meg Rowley: A not small part of it is that the existing owners aren’t keen on making less: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/league-expansion-interest-rates-and-other-… 4:57 Meg Rowley: Wow Ben and I really gave that one an alluring name, didn’t we? 4:58 Eric the Red: One of the toughest parts of the Mather debate is that there is absolutely nothing that Rodriguez or Kelenic can do. They’re bound to the Mariners for at least 6 but most likely 7 years. What do you think is their best recourse to air their frustration? 4:59 Meg Rowley: Airing them, and then filing grievances where appropriate and hoping the terms of free agency change so as to alter this equation in the future. 5:00 Meg Rowley: In the case of Julio, where the issue is one of respect and dignity, he’s a walking counterpoint to Mather’s (excuse my swear) bullshit. 5:01 Meg Rowley: (Julio actually does need more time in the minors imo, so the grievance bit isn’t relevant there yet, just to be clear) 5:02 Meg Rowley: I talked about this on Effectively Wild but jeez, imagine getting the absolutely middle-middle pitch that is “Tell us about Julio Rodríguez” and going where Mather did. And with such speed! What an absolute moron. 5:05 Meg Rowley: What a cruel direction, too. If Rodríguez wanted to speak through an interpreter his whole career, that would be totally fine, but his fluency (and he is fluent!) with English is clearly very important to him. It’s a point of pride. It suggests that Mather doesn’t know the dude at all, but thought this was how you denigrate someone like him. So gross! Glad he’s gone. It doesn’t solve the broader issue, but hey, one less dude like this. 5:06 Bill G: Hi Meg. I think you mentioned that you play in a sim league. What software package do you use? I would like to see one of your authors do a comprehensive analysis of the various sim packages, like DMB and OOTP. Thanks! 5:07 Meg Rowley: I play in Diamond Mind and thank you for reminding me that I need to ready my profile this week! 5:07 Pumpsie Green: Kelenic has zero chance in a grievance. Determining a player’s readiness is a management right. Craig Edwards might have something to say about fixing a broken system, though! 5:09 Meg Rowley: I think this is an overly simplistic read – when Bryant lost his grievance, the arbitrator specifically said he wasn’t ruling on the broader legality of service time manipulation. The fact that management generally searches for excuses suggests there is line. And this was literally management saying he was ready (with the talk of the extension and that he would be up in April this year). Not saying he’ll win, but there’s both smoke and fire here. 5:10 James: Could you rank your top 3 or 4 grievances with everything Mather said? I’m kinda surprised to hear people so up in arms about him bashing Everett’s facilities and manipulating service time. These are things people already know, right? 5:15 Meg Rowley: Not sure how I would rank them but I will say on the service time point: In addition to all the ways it sucks for the players, the Mariners were what, two games out of a playoff spot last year? José Marmolejos played 35 games. Phillip Ervin started 20 something games? Jake Fraley started seven games I think? 5:15 Meg Rowley: Maybe you don’t think Kelenic is ready for full-time duty, but don’t you wanna see if he’s better than those guys? 5:18 Meg Rowley: Ok, pals, I have to get rolling. I’m sorry for what I didn’t get to this week. Thank you for the great questions. See you next week, and until then, be well!