Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 2/5/19

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello, friends.

2:00
Meg Rowley: Welcome to the chat!

2:01
Meg Rowley: Very little is happening in baseball. In Seattle, it is quite cold (for Seattle).

2:01
Bo: How much longer do you think the Harper and Machado sweepstakes last? Who signs first?

2:01
Meg Rowley: I still think Machado goes first.

2:02
Meg Rowley: In terms of when, I wonder if we’ll see them before the end of the month at this point.

2:02
Meg Rowley: I do think they will likely go fairly quickly once one of them signs.

2:03
Lunar verLander: Apparently, today is National Weatherperson’s Day. In honor of this, we should take a step back and appreciate that Mike Trout signed his extension when he did and isn’t a free agent this offseason…could you imagine if arguably the greatest baseball players of all time had to wait this long to sign a deal?

2:04
Meg Rowley: I’d like to think that Trout would ummm not have to wait. I appreciate that Harper and Machado really shouldn’t have to wait  either, but Trout is Trout.

2:05
Meg Rowley: Of course, I look forward to his market being slow just before the CBA gets renegotiated. I am sure that will go fine.

2:05
Skip: I’m an Florida guy and got roped into a Mt Hood wedding this summer. What is the one can’t miss baseball park in the Pacific Northwest where should I see a game? I’ve already been to Safeco/T-Mobile park…

2:06
Meg Rowley: If you’re open to northern California parks, the Giants’ ballpark is gorgeous if expensive.

2:07
Meg Rowley: I might suggest an Oregon minor league ballpark tour.

2:07
Chris: Are leake, EE and Bruce all going to be on the mariners opening day roster? If not which one is most likely to get traded?

2:08
Meg Rowley: It doesn’t seem like there is a ton of interest in Encarnacion or Bruce at the moment — I’d say Leake is the most likely to move, but at this point, I’m starting to expect him there on Opening Day.

2:10
Meg Rowley: I know they aren’t opposed to moving him (or at least haven’t been in the past), but the no-trade makes it tricky and someone does have to pitch in Seattle.

2:10
Meg Rowley: (apologies, was pinged on… several things!)

2:10
Q-Ball: Is this year’s FA period even slower and more confusing than last year’s?  Sure seems that way

2:11
Meg Rowley: It feels slower– I haven’t actually seen an update to Travis’ study from last year, but it seems slower. And yes, I would say weirder. I get it is a lot of money. I appreciate it is a lot of years. But Machado and Harper are generational talents. And even beyond them, there are good players who address real needs that don’t have homes.

2:11
Meg Rowley: It doesn’t feel great.

2:11
PD: Snow day!

2:12
Meg Rowley: The best part of working from home is getting to work from home. The worst part of working from home is that you don’t really have snow days.

2:12
Meg Rowley: Just days spent trying to fit shoveling snow in amongst other stuff, while sitting in a house with a broken furnace that won’t get fixed for a while.

2:12
TravisScottFell: Is there any chance of a work stoppage to mess up opening day?

2:13
Meg Rowley: This year, I don’t think so.

2:13
Meg Rowley: When this CBA concludes? Yes.

2:13
dvm: Harper….Phillies?  Padres?  White Sox?  Unknown team?  Your best guess

2:14
Meg Rowley: I think Phillies makes the most sense.

2:14
Reagan: What i think is silly is that Matt Chapman had a better year then Manny Machado (Defense, offense is pretty even, giving Chapman a slight lead) and Chapman is younger but chapman is Making league minimum and Machado will be making 30 mil+ all Machado did was get OK quicker.

2:14
Meg Rowley: We can be frustrated that players don’t get money earlier in their careers and also be frustrated that Machado is unsigned.

2:15
Meg Rowley: My ability to be dismayed by multiple things at once should not be underestimated. That’s an 80-grade tool.

2:15
Mandy Is Still 91% Fresh: You are Mike Trout.  The Angels make you a fair extension offer that your agent says is pretty much what you would get as a free agent.  Do you stay with the Angels or do you flee when you become a free agent?

2:16
Meg Rowley: I don’t know Trout, so I’m not sure how he would balance the desire to win a ring (for instance) or be closer to home (for another instance) with money.

2:16
Meg Rowley: It shouldn’t matter. Every team in baseball should be trying to woo him when the time comes. Every single team.

2:17
2-D: I’m going to resist making a joke about Tropicana going cashless and instead ask if you think this will be a wider trend and your thoughts on the decision?

2:18
Meg Rowley: I hope other teams think about the feedback Tampa received and go a different way. Cashless options tend to disadvantage those who don’t have bank accounts (which isn’t a small number of folks) or don’t have easy access to credit.

2:18
Meg Rowley: The best case scenario is that folks are annoyed on occasion (“Oh no, I forgot my card.”) The worst case scenario is you’re excluding fans.

2:19
Meg Rowley: That’s bad to do at a point in time when baseball generally, and the Rays in particular could use more of them. Not to mention, it is kinda icky.

2:21
Jason N: Hi Meg.  What do you consider a “living wage” for minor leaguers?  Quick math tell me a $40k raise equals about $250m/year charge to owners.  At that price, I can see why the MLB union hasn’t fought for it.  Feels like arguing for a transfer of wealth of that size to an audience that isn’t part of the union would be negligent.  Isn’t the answer for minor leaguers to form their own union?

2:22
Meg Rowley: Minor leaguers should be unionized, either as part of the MLBPA (unlikely) or a union of their own. I wish the MLBPA would take a longer view on this stuff, and we are starting to see their public stance shift. But as I mentioned last week, the league and the teams really ought to take most of the blame here. It’s their decision.

2:23
Padres458: Machado vs harper, who ages better?

2:24
Meg Rowley: I think they will both be very good for a while; I think I’d give Machado the edge.

2:24
Darragh: I want baseball to have Premier League-style relegation so that teams will be less inclined to fully tank. What are the reasons this won’t happen?

2:24
Meg Rowley: Tradition, the minors, ownership would have to sign off on it, and ownership wants the flexibility to engage in different amounts of winning or not winning.

2:25
CamdenWarehouse: Is your heat fixed?

2:25
Meg Rowley: Oh it sure is not. I am under three blankets. I have on a puffy vest. I have two space heaters going.

2:26
Meg Rowley: It is not good, but also, I am fine. I can always go sleep at my parents’ if it gets really bad. Hard not to think of Seattle’s homeless population, which does not have the luxury of any of those options. It is very cold here.

2:26
Stevil: Hey Meg, the free agent market for third basemen over the next couple of years is looking thin.  With talks of an Arenado extension heating up, along with Rendon and Washington looking to do the same, wouldn’t it be wise for a team like Seattle, with virtually no third base prospects in the upper-minors, to try to find an under-valued/hyped player relatively soon to eventually replace Seager? Josh Fuentes, David Bote, and Louis Guillorme are a few that come to mind. What do you think?

2:27
Meg Rowley: That they’ll grapple with that issue when they have to. Seager isn’t going anywhere until his value rebounds anyway.

2:27
Meg Rowley: Don’t worry– Jerry won’t hesitate to make a trade when the time comes.

2:27
Tom Brady Anderson: hey meg! If you had to describe why you love baseball in one sentence, what would it be?

2:28
Meg Rowley: It just lets you tell and see and appreciate so many different kinds of stories, stories that help us understand the world.

2:29
Meg Rowley: It’s the damnedest thing, and something I’ll never be able to sufficiently explain to my family, but it just makes me so happy.

2:31
Meg Rowley: I think it’s why I’ve been so frustrated this offseason. There is an obvious moral question at play with how players are treated and how we reward work, and those are really important and impact people’s lives, but really, I just get so much joy from this sport. And so many people in my life, people who mean a lot to me, are bound up in it, too. It has helped me find my way as an adult person. And it has never been peopled by more talented players than it is right now. Right now! That’s what MLB is working with. And they are messing it up.

2:31
Meg Rowley: That was more than a sentence.

2:31
Meg Rowley: But I once wrote 1500 words on Archie Bradley pooping himself, so honestly, who is surprised?

2:31
Tom Brady Anderson: your thoughts on the Reds pursuit of Realmuto? would he position them for a Brewers-esque playoff run, featuring a great lineup and mediocre starting pitching?

2:32
Meg Rowley: Think they’d need more to really make a run at that division this year, but god do I love that they are trying.

2:32
Meg Rowley: Like, am I a Reds fan now?

2:32
Meg Rowley: 2019 is so wild.

2:32
Sharp: I’ve taken my daughter, who is 4, to games previously, but being a 4 year old her attention span is limited and her favorite parts are the playground, the mascots, and the food.  For this upcoming season, when she’s 5, what do you think are things I could do to explain the game to her better and spark excitement?

2:33
Meg Rowley: I can only speak for what has worked some with my niece, but getting her excited about home runs might help? Now, she’ll cheer for either team hitting one. That’s something you have to accept.

2:33
Meg Rowley: But when we took my niece to a game last year, she was the most attentive to home runs, because they came with fire works.

2:33
R: Rank your preference: SOTU, Super Bowl half time show, watching Nightengale’s twitter on loop

2:34
Meg Rowley: What if I just stopped existing?

2:34
Kosch: 32 degrees is cold for Seattle?

2:34
Meg Rowley: It was into the teens overnight and was 20 until about an hour ago, and also, I have no heat, so.

2:35
Vlad Jr. : What would a Spring Training extension for me look like?

2:35
Meg Rowley: A non-starter.

2:35
ChickenOfTheSea: Srsly tho, is there any way whatsoever – whether it’s with the Reds, the Padres, the Dodgers, whoever – that the Realmuto deal doesn’t end up making the Marlins look even more Marlinsy?

2:35
Meg Rowley: I think they’re better positioned this offseason than they were last offseason to make smart moves. I do think we might feel a little let down by it because it has taken so long, though.

2:36
David: Mariners most likely to be traded? Encarnancion -> Leake -> Bruce?

2:36
Meg Rowley: Eh, maybe swap Leake and Encarnacion. I don’t think Jay Bruce has a particularly active market.

2:36
Gil: I know it’s just a sponsorship deal, but isn’t it kinda weird to see Safeco become T-Mobile and Miller Park become literally anything else? It feels like somehow those names fit so well.

2:36
Meg Rowley: Don’t forget AT&T becoming Oracle Field or whatever

2:37
Meg Rowley: It all just takes time.

2:37
Meg Rowley: When I graduated high school, I did so from Qwest field. It’s now Centurylink. We all got used to it.

2:37
Ted: Is it time for Harper and Machado just to take a short term deal?

2:37
Meg Rowley: What incentive is there for that? Why would their markets look better a year from now, when they’re a year older?

2:38
Ryan: We’ve seen players in the past complain that it can be hard to perform if they don’t have a full spring training to prepare for the season.  Do you think Harper and Machado feel any pressure to sign soon for that reason?

2:38
Meg Rowley: Probably not.

2:38
Meg Rowley: I am sure it has an effect but I’m not convinced it is a very big one, especially for guys who are 26.

2:39
Meg Rowley: Could be wrong but I don’t think it factors into their decision either way.

2:39
Roger: Setting aside geographical and climatic considerations, would you prefer to be the GM of the White Sox, the Padres, or the Rays?

2:39
Meg Rowley: Padres, Rays, White Sox

2:39
Bill: Would you wager to say that both Chicago and Philadelphia have probably offered acceptable deals to Harper and/or Machado, but the fact of the matter is neither location is really desirable to live in (south side for Chicago), neither locations seem to be a match for their lifestyles/personalities, and both players are (justifiably) disappointed there isn’t more interest from better locations? I can’t imagine either telling themselves “I can’t wait to play for the White Sox” after finally earning free agency status after being criminally underpaid for so long.

2:39
Meg Rowley: I would not wager to say.

2:40
Meg Rowley: Those lifestyle considerations matter, but this is their big shot to make big money.

2:40
Sid Bream: Acuna: Regress or impress?

2:40
Meg Rowley: Impress.

2:41
Meg Rowley: He’s a special player.

2:41
Meg Rowley: Hot Take: Meg Thinks Acuña Is Good, Shocks Nation

2:41
Ted: To be clear, Harper and Machado didn’t have to wait either.  Machado has known offers over $200m.  Harper turned down a huge deal from the Nats (which looks incredibly foolish right now).   They could have signed by now

2:43
Meg Rowley: We don’t really know what they were specifically offered. We know what was reportedly offered, but don’t know terms, the seriousness of the offer, etc. They don’t have to wait, but why would they rush to take a less good option.

2:43
Thanks for the Chat!: What are some crazy promotional ideas that teams should consider deploying late in the season when they are out of the playoff hunt? Like sign a fan to a one day contract and let them pitch hit or play center field (against other non playoff teams), play on a little league dimension field,…

2:43
Meg Rowley: Make games free for kids. Make games cheap for everyone else. Have value deals on food and drinks.

2:44
Mystery Chatter: Expecting more OF shifts this year?

2:44
Meg Rowley: Assuming they aren’t banned (I don’t think they will be), sure.

2:45
Cody: In your opinion, what is the likelihood that baseball implements a major league pitch clock along with bringing back the 15-day DL in 2019? Both feel like inevitabilities at this point, but I am curious about the timing and how the players’ union would initially react.

2:46
Meg Rowley: I think a pitch clock is very likely. I think the DL change depends a lot on how annoyed other teams are with the Dodgers, but I don’t think there is a huge constituency for it right now.

2:46
Meg Rowley: I know that the pitch clock change the league can just do.

2:46
Meg Rowley: I’d imagine the DL stuff would matter more between the two to the union.

2:46
Turp: Seems the best way to resolve the “cash-only” crowd would be to institute system that allows them to use cash to load a card somewhere in the stadium. It would keep the concession lines moving and not exclude them.

2:47
Meg Rowley: They are able to purchase gift cards for that purpose but it still feels like an unnecessary change.

2:47
Meg Rowley: Also, have you ever been to a sporting event where the card readers go down? I have. It isn’t the best.

2:48
Pie: It seems like every writer knows each other across platforms. How do y’all all meet? Is it just at games, or are there conferences, or is there a secret club we don’t know about?

2:49
Meg Rowley: I think it is mostly a testament to us all being very silly and sitting around on twitter too much. I know when I first started, twitter was how I met folks. Over time, as you travel for baseball stuff, you get to know people through industry events, or finding time to grab a drink or coffee at spring training or what have you.

2:50
Meg Rowley: It is really nice to get to meet people in person. Baseball twitter has been known to devolve into picayune squabbles between folks who mostly agree with each other. It’s nice to have the foundation of having met one another in person. I think it helps to remember there’s a real human at the other end of the twitter.

2:51
Meg Rowley: Plus, I’ve met great friends that way. My high school pals are a lot less willing to listen to me talk about James Paxton for an hour than say, Jeff is. And just try explaining Willians Astudillo, or why Mallex Smith being the return for Mike Zunino was so funny. Just try.

2:53
questioner: Meg, if we laid it out in terms of value, wouldnt a 300 million contract be difficult for either Harper or Machado to live up to?  And thats not even considering that in a ten year period, any team will have years of non contention, and so the added WAR will have little to no value to the team.

2:53
2:53
Big League Choo: What is your favorite slang for home runs?
Tater? Dong? Dinger? Other?

2:53
Meg Rowley: I like Dinger and Tater personally.

2:54
Meg Rowley: The baseball internet has proven it cannot be trusted with Dong. It’s very sad, but very true.

2:54
Mandy Is Still 91% Fresh: Maybe another way to ask this is to assume you were Trout and only baseball-related issues matter to you (not closer to home, or market size, or anything like that).  Do you have enough confidence in the Angels’ future and management to take the guaranteed money now rather than risk waiting for the same money in free agency?

2:55
Meg Rowley: If I were Mike Trout, I would be willing to risk another team paying me in free agency. If Mike Trout struggles in free agency, I … boy, we are not prepared for that winter on twitter.

2:55
NA: Have you considered living in a place other than Washington in order to avoid your current predicament?

2:55
Meg Rowley: Washington winters are generally pretty mild, and this wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t very poorly timed with the furnace being broken and the furnace repair guys being closed due to snow.

2:56
Meg Rowley: I have a lot of family and friends here, all of whom I like very much. But I’d think about it for a compelling reason. I like Denver very much. The baseball in the Phoenix area is rad. I don’t own a home, so I am delightfully unencumbered in that respect.

2:57
billsaints: Do you think Manny and Bryce are in contact with each other on a regular basis? I would if I was them.

2:58
Meg Rowley: I don’t know if they are pals or not, so maybe but I’d be surprised. They’re adverse parties too in a way. I’m sure their agents are aware of how they’re positioned relative to each other.

2:58
Bubble: What’s the minimum minor league salary that would have you saying they are compensated fairly?

2:59
Meg Rowley: Fairly? Or at a living wage? Because those aren’t the same. Probably $40k.

2:59
Meg Rowley: For a living wage.

2:59
Sammy Sooser: That $250 mil per year is ~2.4% of MLB revenues in 2018. The players thought that by limiting cash flow towards non-members of their union, that they were earmarking a larger share of the money for themselves. In actuality, they made their replacements so cheap to acquire and develop that teams have started up additional minor league teams in the DSL and complex ball. Not working to reverse this trend is negligent, imo. Also, I know a minor leaguer. Last season, he made $1.20 per hour, and he asked for grocery store gift cards for Christmas. Forgetting whether it’s the right fiscal move, it’s the decent human being move as well.

3:02
Meg Rowley: I don’t disagree that it is the right thing. It is obviously the right thing. And yes, the union did make moves in the last CBA negotiation that led to some of the issues we’re seeing here, though the wages in the minors precede this most recent negotiation. My point is, ownership is getting exactly what it wanted. The league is working to support legislation that exempts minor leaguers from the minimum wage in AZ. Let’s just be clear eyed about who did what here.

3:02
Meg Rowley: Hold please, my furnace guy is calling

3:03
Johnnie: Which upcoming minor league promotion are you looking forward to the most?

3:03
Meg Rowley: Give us Vladito. Give us Vladito now. Right now!

3:03
Chris: Should netting be mandatory at every mlb and minor league stadium? What about college?

3:04
Meg Rowley: I think so. It doesn’t interfere with your view of the game. The best seats are behind a net already!

3:04
Meg Rowley: And a woman died last summer. It’s just a no-brainer to me.

3:04
Ryan: The Tampa Bay Times suggested a 1-year, 35-million dollar deal for Harper.  Would that be (a) good for the team? or (b) good for Harper?

3:05
Meg Rowley: Good for the team, yes. Good for Harper? Unclear though I lean no. As I said, I’m not sure why would assume the market would be better, and he’s assuming the risk of injury.

3:06
Meg Rowley: For Machado, not only doe that all apply, but right now he doesn’t carry a QO. He almost certainly would next year. Now, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t get signed, but the QO has been used as justification for that.

3:06
PD: As cold as it is in Seattle, the Midwest was 40 degrees colder a week or so ago…

3:06
Meg Rowley: Sure, but I live here.

3:07
Gaslamp Gary: The Spring Training hat rankings came out. Thoughts on the Mariners one coming in at 29? Is it a worthy price to pay to end the curse of the trident?

3:07
Meg Rowley: I mostly only care about the good ones. The A’s hat is good. I like the D-backs hat.

3:08
DJ: I agree with how frustrating the offseason has been morally. I’ve been so disenfranchised and feel myself loving all of this just a little less. I know issues exist in every workplace – but the Russell story, Kapler, how players are paid, among other things has bummed me out. Do you believe any change is on the horizon, or if there’s anything actionable that can happen – or is this just something that’s always going to be prevalant

3:09
Meg Rowley: Fandom will always require negotiating with uncomfortable moral standards. There being actual baseball will help. It will help so much. Baseball is so wonderful. But these issues aren’t going anywhere. Soon, we’ll get more breaks from them because we’ll have baseball to focus on. But we have to keep thinking about them.

3:09
Ask your Gastrointerologist : Whats your personal favorite:  the Szymborski ZiPS projections or the Top Prospects Series

3:10
Meg Rowley: I shall not pick from amongst my children, but instead love them for what they each bring.

3:10
Meg Rowley: What wonderful baseball spirits they all are.

3:11
AJ: Sorry, but I can’t get mad about teams not wanting to pay $30m for the next 10 yrs to Harper or Machado.  Both players have obvious flaws, and those contracts are risky.  I’m much more upset about how minor leaguers are treated, and that some teams are not spending in general, and that a lot of guys in their 30s seem to be tossed aside for unproved players just to save money.  But upset about what’s happening to Harper and Machado?  Nah.

3:12
Meg Rowley: You are free to be upset about whatever you want. I would simply point out that you can also be mad about all of those things at once.

3:13
Meg Rowley: I agree that the situation minor leaguers face is the one with the greatest moral urgency, but getting them a living wage will not balance out the split of revenue players receive. There has to be spending, big spending on top of that. A team can sign a generational talent. Why not… just do that and win some baseball games?

3:13
Safety Stegosaurus: Have you changed your furnace filter? I hate to admit I needed a HVAC guy to tell me this.

3:13
Meg Rowley: Yes, I have.

3:14
Meg Rowley: Good suggestion though. It appears to be a wiring issue with the ignitor.

3:14
NA: How much do you consider your legacy when making editorial decisions? You seem like a live and let live type, but in order to take over from Dave or Carson as the GOAT fangraphs editor, you’re going to have to be willing to a ruffle a few feathers.

3:14
Meg Rowley: This suggests you haven’t read the comments on some of my written work.

3:15
Bernie Brewer: Free Dayn Perry

3:15
Meg Rowley: I assure you, Dayn will never be caged.

3:15
Sorry no Tortillas: 2018 MLB playoff team who misses the dance in 2019

3:15
Meg Rowley: Sorry Rockies, might be you 🙁

3:16
HD: Worst Seattle neighborhood to live in during a snow storm?

3:16
Meg Rowley: The top of Queen Anne hill, imo

3:16
Cactus League: Best complex in the league

3:17
Meg Rowley: Salt River Fields might be one of my favorite baseball venues period, not just in Spring Training.

3:19
The Amish: Maybe Mike Trout hitting free agency in 2 years is WHY the market is so slow for Machado and Harper

3:19
Meg Rowley: I think without substantiation, this is granting grace where we need not. Recall that Machado and Harper were similarly used as justification for last year’s slow winter.

3:20
Meg Rowley: There will always be another amazing player coming down the line. But there are these two amazing players now, and a lot of teams that are well away from the CBT threshold.

3:20
Meg Rowley: Alright friends, I need to depart and deal with this furnace issue.

3:20
Meg Rowley: Sorry for what I didn’t get to, and thanks for all the great questions– until next week!

We hoped you liked reading Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 2/5/19 by Meg Rowley!

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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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Jay Dee
Member
Jay Dee

Meg isnt there a chance that Manny/Harper are just over-asking? I may be wrong but your writing style leaves me to believe you think this is a zero percent possibility