Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 2/26/2019

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

2:00
Meg Rowley: Allow me to press “publish” on a post. A moment.

2:02
Meg Rowley: Ok, the moment has passed!

2:02
Meg Rowley: The button was pressed!

2:03
Meg Rowley: Let us chat.

2:03
Bread Gardner: Nobody seems to understand that the Yankees held off on signing Machado so they could sign Nolan Arenadohhhhhwaitasecondoops.  (But seriously, did anyone actually buy that?  And good for Nolan!)

2:04
Meg Rowley: I think that a reasonable case could be made that, in a vacuum, a club could prefer Arenado to Machado. That is absolutely a thing one could reasonably and credibly do. And of course, Machado gets to make his own decisions about where he goes in free agency, so clubs don’e have perfect control over these things.

2:05
Meg Rowley: But that said, Arenado’s arb settlement made this whole thing a lot more likely and happened well before Machado’s signing.

2:05
Meg Rowley: So while I could see a team wanting Arenado instead, it seems safe to say there was some squishiness to the sincerity of those public narratives.

2:06
Meg Rowley: If we wanted to be generous, we might say that those sincere clubs misjudged the risk of Arenado re-signing.

2:06
Meg Rowley: How generous do we feel? Could vary, I’d think.

2:07
Beetlejuice: T or F: Scott Boras has overplayed his hand with Harper and Keuchel – especially looking at both players’ platform years. Clearly the system isn’t working, but Boras might be one among many causes.

2:08
Meg Rowley: Hard to judge until we know what those deals actually look like. I think some of the shine is gone, certainly, but untangling what of that is Boras and what is this market being bad is tricky to do. I don’t think we can blame one agent, even one so powerful as Boras, for a market that is clearly the result of many other factors.

2:08
hooha: Does strickland close for the Mariners?

2:08
Meg Rowley: Yes.

2:09
2-D: Did you watch Kikuchi? First impressions?

2:11
Meg Rowley: I caught the second inning live, and the first on replay. I thought he looked good. Was encouraged by the velocity, and I guess I hadn’t realized how balanced he could look through the delivery even with the little hitch he has. He threw some very pretty curve balls.

2:11
Meg Rowley: Gonna be a bright spot on a weird and potentially pretty boring club.

2:11
Meg Rowley: Also, Shed Long looks real good. These have been my Early Spring Thoughts

2:11
NotGraphs Revivalist: Hooray! Arenado got a great contract!

2:12
Meg Rowley: Very. Good for him, good for Colorado, good for my 17-year-old cousin who is a Rockies fan and bought a jersey two years ago.

2:12
Meg Rowley: Love it when guys are Forever Players, and when they don’t have to take a discount to do it.

2:12
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: When will the Rays announce that they’ve acquired Willians Astudillo?

2:13
Meg Rowley: [extreme we are all joking here, this is a joke, here is joke voice] well presumably Jeff has to learn how to log in and fill out his HR paperwork first

2:14
Hakaida: Is there a minimum distance a AAA or AA affiliate can be in relation to their parent club? Las Vegas is building a new AAA ballpark, I’m worried this impacts our chances of getting a major league team.

2:14
Meg Rowley: Hold on– let me see if I can quickly find a thing.

2:15
Meg Rowley: Ok, so

2:16
Meg Rowley: In the Professional Baseball Rules, which is different from the Rulebook that governs play on the field, there is a section on Territorial Rights

2:17
Meg Rowley: It says, in Rule 52 (a)(4): (4) No Major or Minor League Club may play its home games within the home territory or within 15 miles from the boundary of the home territory of any other Minor League Club, and no Minor League Club may play its home games within the home territory or within 15 miles of the home territory of any Major League Club, except pursuant to a grant of protected territory or an exception obtained in accordance with Rule 52(d).

2:17
HIghway61: Any idea when Fangraphs the Game winners from last year will receive their add free membership?

2:17
Meg Rowley: I shall ask!

2:18
Jeff Passan: I hear Nolan Arenado and Rockies are close to finalizing an 8 year, $260 M extension (AAV $32.5 M) with an opt-out after year 3.  Do you think this affects Harper’s market?  Like, were there really teams sitting out Machado so they could try to sign Arenado next year?  Maybe more importantly, does it make Manny Machado feel sad that he won’t have the highest AAV?

2:19
Meg Rowley: Machado is likely the better comp, and that’s already settled. I’d be surprised if there were teams that were both sincerely hoping to save money for Arenado AND now will pivot to Harper, but it is possible.

2:19
Meg Rowley: Josh Donaldson has to be happy.

2:19
rR: why does Jeff not love us anymore? :'(

2:20
Meg Rowley: You can love things and also need to try new stuff out.

2:20
Meg Rowley: Regret is a terrible burden. It’s good in life to try to mitigate potential regret.

2:20
Meg Rowley: We will and do miss Jeff very much, but as his human friend, I’m glad he can cross a thing off the potential regrets list.

2:21
That person again: Dan S. posted a long thread on the Tweeter yesterday about the CBA and what incentivizes or disincentivizes team behavior. What do we have that would disincentivize a team from service time manipulation (besides guilt and shame)? To me, it’s easy to argue that it is often in the team’s best interest. The decision on whether or not to promote a player is inherently a judgment call, with lots of costs and benefits to weigh, so it’s virtually impossible to prove- saying that you can get away with something is not saying that it’s good. However, in an environment that is all about competition, why should an organization not take advantage of any opportunity that is legitimately within the rules? Years of watching Bill Belichick win too much has taught me that the concept of “fair” is for suckers.

2:22
Meg Rowley: Very strange how top prospects heralded by prospect analysts (including those who work for MLB) and clubs as the future suddenly require seasoning! Weird that it happens so reliably every year.

2:23
Meg Rowley: You have to design the rule so that it provides a powerful disincentive to goofing around.

2:23
Meg Rowley: A lot of people have proposed making it a function of which level a player spends the majority of league days at

2:24
Meg Rowley: So if you want to keep Vladito down, you can, but it’ll have to be for more than half a season. Doesn’t solve the problem, but would take care of some of it.

2:24
Meg Rowley: It’s also good to remember that there is a mechanism by which clubs can keep players past their 6th major league season. All it takes is writing a check.

2:25
Benny and the Mets: Meg. Happy Tuesday!

2:25
Meg Rowley: To you as well.

2:25
The Old Buccaneer: It seems wants to play out west, with LA or SF but they wont give him the years he wants. So, he’s using Philly’s offer to try and get the Giants or Dodgers to match, but they won’t. That’s why he hasn’t signed for Philly, yet. He doesn’t really want to play there. Is this a pretty fair assessment?

2:26
Meg Rowley: I have no idea. I don’t know him personally.

2:26
Guest: I love watching guys make silly mistakes in spring training that they hopefully won’t make when the season starts. Do you?

2:26
Meg Rowley: I wrote about a player pooping himself last year. Of course I like that.

2:27
Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : Right now the Mets are playing two games at the same time. I’m trying to follow both games at the same time while also participating in this chat while convincing my boss that I’m being productive. Spring training is hard.

2:27
Meg Rowley: Isn’t it nice to have good distractions back, though?

2:27
oldmannearthesea: Meg, any thoughts about the minor league salary situation?

2:28
Meg Rowley: People should be paid a living wage. There are a lot of issues with the baseball economic model, and I don’t want to say that free agency isn’t important — it is all connected and many things can be bad at once. But the greatest moral urgency exists at the minor league level. It’s a thing the sport should be ashamed of every single day.

2:29
Derek: Now that it’s been a few months, how have you enjoyed (or not?) your new role at FanGraphs?

2:31
Meg Rowley: I would like to sleep a little more than I do, which is tricky during the week because I am still helming THT for the next little bit. We are soooo excited about who is taking over THT, so excited we were willing to wait to make it happen. But in the meantime, I’m a little sleepy some times. But here’s the thing: my problems are baseball problems. Those are my work problems. And I work at a unicorn of a place with wonderful, smart, kind people. I will never feel like I deserve my job. Appelman hiring me is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

2:31
Karen Yost: When will the new hires be announced? Excited to see Fg’s new additions!

2:31
Meg Rowley: Soon! Very soon!

2:32
St. Pete : What does a player have to do performance wise in spring training to change your impression of them or increase/decrease your expectations for them going into the season?

2:33
Meg Rowley: Injury is the biggest thing. Velocity dips, though that can be tricksy.

2:33
PTBNL: what major league front office will you be joining next week? just kidding, very happy for jeff but so sad to see him go 🙁

2:34
Meg Rowley: Not going anywhere. I don’t want to work for a team. And while I am capable of the sort of work needed to do this job, I’m not really qualified based on most of the postings we put up.

2:35
Hello: Why did Arenado’s arb settlement make an extension more likely (I’ve seen this sentiment in several places)?

2:35
Meg Rowley: The size of the deal, and also, the sentiments expressed after signaled a willingness to pay him that hadn’t been there before.

2:36
PD: How much quicker does a “likeable” player sign compared to say… what we’ve seen for Machado and Harper? I’m guessing the front office feels more fan pressure on teams if they’re trying to extend/resign a fan favorite.

2:37
Meg Rowley: You know what fans like? They like parades. They like the playoffs. There might be some pressure to keep your guys, but honestly, I don’t think it does as much as you’d think.

2:38
Matt W: So I’m not really opposed to the pitch clock, but have they considered just banning (or severely restricting) time outs? You see it a lot where the pitcher is ready to go and the batter calls time so that he can dry swing a few times, probably just to annoy the pitcher. The only time it ever makes sense at all is if the pitcher & catcher can’t decide on a pitch, but even then you can just use a mound visit to discuss.

2:38
Meg Rowley: I don’t mind the pitch clock. You really don’t notice it after a while. But yeah, batters are a huge unaddressed part of the issue here.

2:39
Sour Grapes: Players are upset about the current state of MLB but isnt it possible that the people who are advising the owners are doing a better job than whomever is representing the players?

2:39
Meg Rowley: The union definitely made mistakes in the last CBA negotiation, but also, ownership got exactly what it wanted. This is the market they want! We should probably give them some credit (or blame, if you prefer) for that.

2:40
Curlin: Any idea when the full Zips preseason projections will be posted and folded into the Depth Charts?

2:40
Meg Rowley: Soon!

2:40
The Old Buccaneer: The Braves’s Triple A team in Gwinnett county is in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

2:41
Meg Rowley: They’re allowed to issue exceptions, and often do to their own affiliates.

2:41
Chaise: Any timeline for new writer announcements/articles?

2:42
Meg Rowley: Announcements will likely happen soonish (next weekish?). We’re in the process of communicating to all of our applicants, and want to complete that process first. We really appreciate folks taking the time to apply, and want them to hear from us directly.

2:42
Meg Rowley: As for posts, probably post the FG trip to Arizona.

2:43
Dan: Hicks, Arenado, Mikolas — looks like the 2019-20 free agents are flying off the board fast.  Is this a trend that’s going to continue over the next few weeks, or a strange coincidence (that three top 2019 FAs signed in two days)?

2:45
Meg Rowley: I think we’re likely to see a fair number of players who are disinterested in testing the market. I think this rush is a bit of coincidence, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more deals get done as the season progresses.

2:45
Derek: Is the current MLB free agent environment really that terrible? Two record deals were signed this offseason (Machado and Arenado) with a possibility that Harper breaks one or both of them. Things are certainly moving slowly – almost definitely slower than they should be – but on the flip side we have the NBA where things have gotten borderline farcical (players demanding trades w/ two years left on already short contracts, conspiring to team up in new cities years in advance, LeBron passive-aggressively attacking his teammates publicly every day after his machinations don’t pan out, etc.). There has to be some middle ground that exists somewhere that people way smarter than me can hopefully find someday, but for now, at least MLB players are getting paid once they do sign deals, and in my opinion it is currently much more enjoyable to root for MLB players/teams than NBA players/teams.

2:46
Meg Rowley: There was, for a long time, an understanding that the thing players exchanged for years of control on the front end of their careers was a chance at a big deal in free agency. Some guys are getting paid. So guys are taking deals that seem light when you consider what they’re projected to do.

2:46
Meg Rowley: The answer is to get money to players much, much earlier in their careers.

2:47
Meg Rowley: It also seems clear that, like the NBA, there is going to need to be some set share of revenue players receive.

2:47
North American Skin Flute: How excited are you that Julio Rodriguez could become the next Eloy Jimenez?

2:48
Meg Rowley: I’m excited to get to actually see him stateside this year. He’s very exciting. Exactly *how* exciting, we’re about to see.

2:48
That person again: Thanks, as always, for answering my question! I appreciate that you often do so, even if I am playing devil’s advocate for a cynical point of view. That said, I have to respond that it sounds kind of idealistic (not that that’s a bad thing) to say “All it takes is writing a check”, when there is a viable path to avoid doing that. We live in a world where people and organizations do do whatever benefits them the most and costs them the least.

2:49
Meg Rowley: We don’t have to be satisfied with that, nor accept service time manipulation as the only option.

2:50
Doug: Devils What’s the difference between minor leaguers and your typical “starving” artist? Should every musician playing in a coffee shop or open mic night be paid a living wage for providing a service that is easily replaceable?

2:50
Meg Rowley: You’re describing two wildly different kinds of jobs, with wildly different levels of expertise.

2:51
Meg Rowley: I would invite you to consider how silly a comp minor league baseball player to open mic night performer is for, well, all of the reasons.

2:52
The Electrician: It feels like players getting fair compensation for their prime years is how the system should be designed, rather than relatively lean paydays early and bloated reward contracts late. Free agency has a purpose of course, but isn’t (and never should have been) the goal for successful players, just recourse for players who couldn’t get a fair situation where they were.

2:53
Meg Rowley: There’s definitely a class of player that is unfortunately likely to just never get a pay day as a result of the historical accident of when they played. And I don’t mean to say that every contract is light, or necessarily the best entry point to a discussion of the market. But the sport has so much money in it, and a decreasing share going to players. That isn’t great for the health of the sport.

2:54
Aspergilius Fumigatus: Are you or any FG writers attending SABR Conference in Phoenix? Would love to meet up to chat

2:54
Meg Rowley: I sadly won’t be at the conference, and I’m not 100% sure of the status of all of my colleagues.

2:55
Meg Rowley: But, if you’re free to come to our meetup on Friday, we’d love to say hi.

2:55
Meg Rowley: It does not conflict with the SABR networking event, which is Saturday evening.

2:55
2:56
Name: Teams have years of control over players for the same reason inventions are patented. For every guy who makes it to the majors the clubs sink a lot of money into 5+ that don’t. Maybe it should be 5 years instead of 6, but I am not in favor of reducing the incentive to develop talent.

2:59
Meg Rowley: I don’t think the split between innate talent and the influence of player development is anywhere near as clean as that, nor as heavily tilted in player development’s favor,
nor does it reflect the economics of the minors, but and even if it were and did, shifting the money wouldn’t make teams less likely to develop talent.

2:59
Matt W: The real key could be, as I believe Sheryl has written about, is moving to a Restricted Free Agency model rather than forced arbitration. If after the entry level deal is up, players can freely negotiate with other teams (provided that team is willing to pay the penalties), they can get much closer to market rate on deals in their prime. It would give players the ability to hold out as well. Most fans wouldn’t like that, and owners would hate it, but it works.

3:00
Meg Rowley: I liked the piece Sheryl wrote, and think it’s a realistic solution, but I don’t know that it goes far enough.

3:01
waks : As a professional actor who has had employers cry poverty and not pay because “Exposure is awesome!” earlier in my career, I would a) ask people to rethink what work is and b) actually consider how replaceable workers are. And thank god for unions.

3:01
Meg Rowley: Yup!

3:01
Rey Diablo: Can Jeff do something to get the Rays to change their primary color to the light blue? Way too much navy in the team color palettes.

3:02
Meg Rowley: I regret to inform you that Jeff traded the light blue to Seattle for use in their Spring Training uniforms for a PTBNL. Very sad.

3:02
Meg Rowley: Very confusing on spring broadcasts.

3:02
Finance101: It’s been misrepresented here that teams got ” bucket of money …for doing nothing. ” in the sale of BAMTech.   This (and the related call to just spend it) seems to ignore that (a) those clubs funded operating losses for years (b) demonstrated real operating expertise to build a salable business and (c) are forfeiting all future earnings from said asset.   As Fangraphs thinks about new hires, would it be possible to bring on folks with a deeper understanding of finance (and the sports/media landscape broadly)?

3:03
Meg Rowley: I think we contextualize that $50 million pretty well. For instance, we talk about it in relation to increases in franchise value and new TV deals.

3:03
Name: Did some research on % of revenue going to players. It was 54.2% in 2018 down from 56.3% the prior year. The average this decade was 55.86% (https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2019/01/11/economic-data-shows…). Basketball sets the salary cap at 51% of revenue. Not an apples to apples comparison but seems MLB players get more than NBA players on a % basis (the big difference to me is that there are far more MLB players). NFL has the players share of revenue at 47%. In the NHL it is 50%.

3:03
Meg Rowley: We don’t know what is in team books.

3:03
kevinthecomic: “We’re in the process of communicating to all of our applicants, and want to complete that process first. We really appreciate folks taking the time to apply, and want them to hear from us directly” — Didn’t you just let the cat out of the bag re: new writers?  As in, if you haven’t received an offer and accepted it by now, you’re not getting hired?

3:04
Meg Rowley: Nope. We had over 500 applicants, and this stuff takes time.

3:05
Meg Rowley: We appreciate everyone’s patience. Turns out that when you have to keep a site running and hire and Jeff is leaving, it is busy! We know it’s no fun to wait, and are moving through this as quickly as we can.

3:06
PTBNL: i’m heading off to graduate school this summer to pursue a masters in analytics. is that a credential that would help someone get a job at fangraphs, or is the focus more on the journalism side of things?

3:06
Meg Rowley: We look for people who know baseball and baseball analytics well, can write, and can write with voice. There are a lot of ways to arrive at that profile.

3:07
Meg Rowley: Alright friends, I need to get rolling. Thanks for chatting, and sorry for what I didn’t get to. Same time next week!

3:08
Meg Rowley: Wait. Actually. Not same time next week. Same time next week, I will be traveling.

3:08
Meg Rowley: I might do a chat earlier in the day, but might also just need to skip a week.

3:08
Meg Rowley: Keep an eye on twitter dot com for updates.

3:08
Meg Rowley: Thanks!

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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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jlewyckyj
Member
Member
jlewyckyj

Hello, I didn’t write the comment posed by Finance101, but I noticed that your response didn’t answer the question. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts in the future (or another staff member’s if you didn’t understand his/her point).