Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 4/10/18

12:00
Meg Rowley: Hello! And welcome to the chat!

12:00
Alec Asher Wojciechowski: Hi Eric! Is there any prospect that is showing something new this year to elevate their status?

12:01
Meg Rowley: [extreme Janet from The Good Place voice] Not an Eric.

12:01
Wes: I’m confused by the chat time changes. Wasn’t the purpose of you moving to Tuesday to break up Kiley and Eric’s prospect chats? Instead they are Wed and Thur now. Still back-to-back. Not upset since all chats are great, just confused.

12:01
Meg Rowley: The issue was more that back-to-back days on the schedule that had (at the time) only one chat were prospect focused.

12:02
Meg Rowley: So if there was a non-prospect EMERGENCY that required chat coverage (uhhhh the Astros decide to all cobble shoes?) on a Tuesday, we theoretically might not get to it until Thursday.

12:03
Meg Rowley: Now it goes broad chat, prospect chat (Kiley), broad chat (Jay), prospect chat (Eric).

12:03
Mac: Over/under for longest stretch on Fangraphs this season without an Ohtani article? Not complaining (definitely not complaining), just saying.

12:04
Meg Rowley: Two days? Now, how many days will we go without a Mike Trout or Ohtani post? I suspect maybe zero days. No days at all.

12:04
Cha Seung Baek: Disappointed not to see my buddy Ichiro pitch yesterday after seeing Taylor Motter top out at 77.

12:05
Meg Rowley: Ichiro was DHing, and you can’t just *give up* your DH. That isn’t how you come back in a … 9-0 loss.

12:05
Meg Rowley: Weirder thing was them electing to use a position player at all, given that they are carrying nine relievers, all of whom were fresh.

12:05
The Toddfather: Odds that the Mets and Red Sox finish 161-1?

12:06
Meg Rowley: They play one another this year, don’t they?

12:06
Mac Gwire: When you watch Ohtani, what percent is enjoyment and what percent is disappointment that he’s doing it for the Angels instead of the Mariners?

12:07
Meg Rowley: I’ve been surprised at how little it has bothered me. I suppose it might feel different when he does what he did to the A’s to the Mariners, but so far he has been just too damn delightful to inspire that ache in me.

12:08
Meg Rowley: When Eric and I saw him in spring training, the fastball command was all out of sorts, but that splitter was incredible.

12:08
Meg Rowley: Now it is still incredible, *and* he is painting at 100 mph.

12:09
Meg Rowley: What a cool-ass thing. And after this crummy offseason, how nice to feel so excited about baseball.

12:09
Sleepless in St Louis: Why do we struggle to quantify the effect a manager has on a game?  Maybe not so easy as quantifying player impact, but a “manager index” does not seem such a farfetched idea, right? Please, help us… we need people to understand how bad Matheny is.

12:09
Meg Rowley: I think people understand his… limitations pretty well, don’t they?

12:11
Meg Rowley: I don’t think anyone is arguing his in-game decision making is flawless or even that good. I think when we talk about it being hard to quantify the effect of the manager, it is more a matter of so much of what the manager does happening away from our view.

12:11
The Toddfather: Which team will Machado be playing for in September 2018?

12:12
Meg Rowley: Is it cowardly to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if he is just still on the Orioles? Perhaps it is. Perhaps. But increasingly I expect he’ll finish the year in Baltimore.

12:13
Joey: Where’s Eric?  Why did Fangraphs mess around with the chat schedule?

12:13
Meg Rowley: Because we care about you, the people, and your wants and needs.

12:15
Trixie: Don’t the Marlins deserve some credit for not fudging their attendance numbers anymore?

12:16
Meg Rowley: What a week they’ve had! I am weirdly comforted by their brazenness. Normally this sort of behavior is accompanied by unconvincing dissembling. So I guess, good on them for being honest about deciding who they want to be is… this?

12:16
Keefths: How concerned should be with Colome ?

12:17
Meg Rowley: Not very yet– I will admit to not having watched his innings but he’s only thrown 3ish of them, and the velo isn’t down much.

12:18
Scott: Freddie Freeman is a top ____ player in baseball? I think it’s a super small number but I’m also incredibly biased.

12:18
Meg Rowley: One of the things I hope for most out of this year is a full, healthy season from him.

12:19
Meg Rowley: I’d probably say 15?

12:20
Meg Rowley: From 2011 to 2018, he’s 19th among qualified hitters in WAR, and missed bits due to injury. He’s real, real good.

12:20
Mike: Isn’t it a little surprising how little attention Gurriel’s non-suspension got? I know we understand teams are trying to win at all costs, but the Astros getting no pushback at all seems a bit cynical.

12:22
Meg Rowley: I wouldn’t say they’ve gotten no pushback. I think people are annoyed. It is interesting to think about though. Let’s say he’d started the year on the DL, done the 10 days, then was activated and served his five game suspension. Assuming he comes back on the 13th, he’ll have missed the same number of days (remember, they can’t back date his DL stint to include the suspension because he wasn’t on the active roster), but it does feel different.

12:23
Meg Rowley: I’m not trying to let the Astros off the hook, but I wonder if the original issue of the suspension not coming during the World Series meant there were just very limited ways for it to feel like it was being taken seriously, and then he got hurt.

12:23
Meg Rowley: He does seem sorry– hopefully it can be a learning moment for him and for MLB.

12:23
Moltar: Headline from the Worldwide Leader: “Scherzer steals base in 2-hit shutout”. Um… isn’t the stolen base the *least* interesting thing about his outing?

12:24
Meg Rowley: If we are feeling generous (and why wouldn’t we, we’re nice people!) it is the most novel thing about his outing.

12:25
Meg Rowley: But yes, it does seem to short change was a great performance he had, you know, throwing the baseball.

12:26
Jackson: Think Montreal will get the Rays in the near future? Building a new stadium is a waste of tax players money . Florida is not baseball country .

12:26
Meg Rowley: Building stadiums with taxpayer money is always a poor use of taxpayer dollars, but given that they have decided to do that, they’re unlikely to relocate anytime soon.

12:27
Meg Rowley: And there is so much baseball in Florida! Florida is lousy with baseball! Watching a team be bad will always dampen enthusiasm but as someone who still treks out to Safeco 20 times a year in a non-professional capacity, I can tell you the quality of the ballpark makes a big difference.

12:28
James: My astros are going to win 120 games right? This pitching staff makes me want to break into maniacal laughter.

12:29
Meg Rowley: Hey so first, congrats on acquiring the Astros! Big day! (I kid, I kid) Uh 120 is crazy. That’s so many wins! They are very, very good though. Pitching, hitting, fielding. So good! And I am happy they make you happy. They make me happy, too. Please don’t tell anyone in Seattle.

12:29
CubFan: Put a number on the chance that Marco Gonzalez stays in the rotation all season?

12:30
Meg Rowley: Woof.

12:31
Meg Rowley: Very high. 60%? 70%. I think he has been better, but I’m not a Marco believer. But I also can’t stress just how thin/not good/pretty bad the options are behind him.

12:32
spence: If you could redraft in fantasy, who would be the one player you would take a lot earlier than their ADP? (can’t be Ohtani)

12:33
Meg Rowley: To answer one fantasy question, I was the only person in a keeper league not to keep any keepers and then some owners dropped out and bing bang boom, I lucked into Mike Trout, so I am not monkeying with fate at the moment.

12:33
Scott: Rhys Hoskins! What? I was so ready to give Philly fans grief when he came back to Earth this year.

12:35
Meg Rowley: And doesn’t it say something that we all were? Like, about us as people? Now, I would note that he is currently the proud owner of a .500 BABIP (April!) so, you know, we should not be surprised if and when he slows a bit, but he has looked awfully good.

12:35
Zvazda: Who would you place your $$ today to win the AL East?

12:36
Meg Rowley: I do not bet on sports. I waste money in other ways, like buying weird cheeses at my local co-op. But I think I’d still give an oh-so-slight edge to the Yankees.

12:37
Meg Rowley: We have the Red Sox projected at 96, and the Yankees at 94 the rest of the way. And I could be quite wrong.

12:38
Sean: Early returns on the “new-age” managers (eg, Kapler, Boone)? Seems like they’re sweating a bit with the light shone on them

12:39
Meg Rowley: How many of us do really, really well when people scrutinize our work performance? It tends to be stressful, even if it doesn’t negatively impact our performance. That said, I still think we should reserve judgement for a while.

12:39
Llewelyn: With the success of ohtani will clubs incentivize talented two way draftees (McKay and Greene for example) to try playing both ways? Or is he just an extreme outlier?

12:41
Meg Rowley: I think anytime a thing that was thought to be highly improbable happens, it forces us to reevaluate, or at least it should. That said, we don’t know how this is going to work long term, and it is clear that if it does, it takes an incredibly special player for it to happen. I still think it will be a very rare rarity.

12:41
CamdenWarehouse: If the eagle had decided to destroy Paxton’s right arm, how much of an actual impact would that have on the team?  Zunino could roll the ball back to him, right?  The defense could plan for him to be unable to field anything but a real slow bunt…

12:42
Meg Rowley: Can we take a moment to marvel at the fact that this is a question that almost required a real answer?

12:42
Meg Rowley: I think if he is damaged by an eagle’s talons (WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING), but it was his non-pitching arm, they could have made it work depending on the severity.

12:43
Meg Rowley: What a weird-ass baseball team.

12:43
A Dub: Has there been any precedence like what happened between Yadi and Tory Lovullu?  Where a manager is cursing out a player than tries to just walk away?

12:44
Meg Rowley: I’m trying to recall a time an opposing manager got into it with a player, outside of a scrum already in progress.

12:45
Meg Rowley: I know that Yadi has been, at times, umm easy to rile up, but I can’t say I would respond well to being called a mother f’er.

12:46
Meg Rowley: These guys shouldn’t fight, but Lovullo was outta line, too.

12:46
Meg Rowley: Hold on one sec, let me find something.

12:47
Meg Rowley: Ok, so from Zach Buchanan’s piece in the Athletic: “I wish I could take back what I said,” Lovullo said. “But it wasn’t really directed at him. It was more a term of me saying I respect him on that level, that he’s getting special things because he’s that good.”

12:47
Meg Rowley: Sure buddy, that’s how I show affection and respect to my co-workers, too.

12:49
Jimmy Jammer: If  building a rotation today, would you rather have Syndergaard, Severino, or Ohtani as an ace? (Or some other sub 25 year old)

12:51
Meg Rowley: This question feels like a trap designed to get me to admit falling in love with Ohtani’s early returns, and I mighttttt be falling for it? Let’s build a case that isn’t based on two starts.

12:53
Meg Rowley: Ohtani had an impressive career in Japan, he’s younger than Syndergaard, and slightly younger than Severino, and while there was that kerfuffle immediately after his signing with the Angels with his UCL (remember that bad day on twitter?), he has, so far a cleaner injury history that Syndergaard.

12:53
Meg Rowley: That might be a thin case, but what cases in April aren’t?

12:54
Jeff P: So what’s the deal with the Mets, should we have seen this coming?

12:55
Meg Rowley: I think the best case scenario always involved them pitching well with  healthy guys and hitting a bit better than we thought a team purposely employing Adrian Gonzalez would.

12:56
Meg Rowley: So far, they’re third in the NL in team wRC+

12:56
Meg Rowley: And fourth in FIP.

12:56
Meg Rowley: That works!

12:56
The Toddfather: That’s 136 wRC+ Adrian Gonzalez, thank you!

12:57
Meg Rowley: What a time to be alive for nine games.

12:57
Andy: I watched a couple of Jake Junis’s starts this spring and his breaking ball looked incredible.  Especially from the behind the plate camera angle.  Pitch had a ton of movement on it.  Is he a legit breakout candidate or can we just chalk this up to “April”?

12:58
Meg Rowley: That breaking ball is pretty absurd.

12:59
Meg Rowley: He doesn’t always know where his pitches are going. I think he hit three or four Mariners yesterday, but he’s legitimately interesting.

12:59
Meg Rowley: Jeff’s piece on him is good: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/look-at-this-stupid-breaking-ball/

1:00
Cronsky: What is the solution for the Brewers? No Cain, no Yelich, no Knebel, no Nelson, Chacin is clearly in rough shape, and the Pirates are actually good. What can Milwaukee do?

1:00
Meg Rowley: The irritating real answer is probably wait, and hope the depth holds while they do.

1:01
JD: How can one justify the Angels not signing at least one free-agent SP? With their place on the win curve and lack of SP depth, it seemed like a no-brainer.

1:02
Meg Rowley: They felt really good about the one they did get, and felt they had to fill in holes other places? But yes, like many, many teams this offseason, they could have used another. Will be interesting to see how well the depth holds with yet another starter going down.

1:02
Bruce: So Aaron Judge is still good?

1:04
Meg Rowley: Dude’s got a 170 wRC+, has trimmed a bit off his K%, while still walking almost 19% of the time, and is able to stand still and rob home runs. So far, he’s swinging outside the zone less. Sure, the BABIP is high, but how much better do you want him to be?

1:05
Wes: FYI – if you click on the team names under “Standings” it defaults to 2017’s team page.

1:05
Meg Rowley: I’ll ask when that is going to change. In the meantime, if you click on https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=Standings

1:06
Meg Rowley: it’ll take you to the 2018 full MLB projections with divisions below

1:06
Omar: What has happened to Jason Kipnis? Do you see him returning to his 2015-2016 level of play?

1:07
Meg Rowley: He was pretty hurt last year, and only played in 90 games. And he was probably still dinged up during those 90. And they made him play the outfield. Jason Kipnis, famously a second baseman!

1:08
Meg Rowley: I would be surprised if he is 4.5-4.8 win Kipnis again, but I think he’s probably better than what we’ve seen in 42 PAs.

1:08
Meg Rowley: My answer isn’t differnt but a wRC+ of three? Oh Jason.

1:09
MARTin: Is Eaton for real this year?

1:09
Meg Rowley: If he stays healthy, I think so.

1:09
The Oberamtmann: When does Stanton get going? Chance it’s tonight?

1:10
Meg Rowley: Always a chance of that! He’ll be fine. Probably soon.

1:10
Ronnie: Cain: day to day. Yelich: 10 day DL. Knebel: 4-6 weeks. Nelson: possible midseasonish return. Chacin: actually better through his first three starts this year than he was last year when he turned out just fine. Brewers: 6-5. Are April overreactions even worse than no baseball at all?

1:10
Meg Rowley: In this observers opinion, nothing is worse than no baseball at all.

1:12
Meg Rowley: It isn’t a good thing for the Brewers. But to say it is insurmountable seems strong. I know you didn’t say that, but there seems to be some of that sentiment out that. Of course, they weren’t for-sure contenders, so having multiple dudes down at the same time isn’t great.

1:12
Colin: seems like kershaw’s reign as #1 has ended 🙁

1:13
Meg Rowley: Speaking of April overreactions.

1:13
Meg Rowley: Does Kershaw have a lot of good competition for best pitcher in the NL? Sure does. Might it overtake him? Of course. But let’s breathe deeply.

1:14
Sean: Are the Nationals vulnerable in the East? Mets seem to be closing the gap. At least in FanGraphs’ projected standings they are.

1:15
Meg Rowley: The Mets have, and possibly, but also remember how noisy that stuff is this time of year. Still, were I mets fan I would feel better than I did opening day and if I were a Nats fan, I might feel a little worse.

1:15
Meg Rowley: I am personally a Mariners fan so I often feel sad, and then feel anxious when I feel happy.

1:15
Matt: I mean, due to Clayton’s injury history over the last 2 years, isn’t it a fair non-April related question?

1:16
Meg Rowley: It is a totally fair question. I picked Scherzer for NL Cy Young this year based on the injury history. I’d just encourage us all to remember that having an answer to a fair question this time of year is often premature.

1:18
MARTin: Does King Felix have any gas left in his tank?

1:18
Meg Rowley: You hurt me badly.

1:18
Meg Rowley: I mean, his first start would indicate something. His second start might indicate, not a whole lot?

1:20
Meg Rowley: His first start was encouraging because it seemed like the blueprint for how he could be effective. Good location, movement. A bit of trickery. A bit of velo. The second start was a bummer because when that stuff doesn’t work great, he’s throwing 89 mph fastballs with no put away pitch.

1:20
Trader Joe: If you had to replace a baseball with an equivalently proportioned sphere of cheese, what type of cheese would provide the most similar result?

1:21
Meg Rowley: Like, for me personally? Like baseball, I enjoy a variety, though Swiss doesn’t do much for me.

1:21
Mark: Hi, do you know of site with a master list of ALL baseball contracts? Not just active ones, but every contract every given out?

1:22
Meg Rowley: In a consolidated place? Cots goes back a bit, though not that far. Beyond that, probably Baseball-Reference, though I don’t know if you can query all of them at once.

1:22
Mc: Will a MLB team ever again elect to go with a deeper bench to counteract an 8-9 man bullpen?

1:23
Meg Rowley: I’d think probably, and if Manfred’s recent comments portend anything, they might not have much of a choice.

1:23
Shawn L: Can you make sense of JBJ’s -2 DRS at this point in the season? I know the its extremely difficult to compute, but -2 (although just slightly below average) doesn’t match what I’m seeing.

1:24
Meg Rowley: I would encourage you to wait a while longer before looking at defensive metrics.

1:25
stever20: Why does baseball do such uneven schedules where you have Dodgers having D’Backs with 12 games by May 9, but Rockies with 0 games until May 20.  Wouldn’t it make more sense/be more fair for them to be relatively equal?

1:26
Meg Rowley: I think probably works out fine most of the time.

1:26
Gavin: Concern level for Kevin Gausman?

1:27
Meg Rowley: I wasn’t filled with confidence before, but I’d also point out it has only been what, nine innings, and the big difference has been home runs?

1:27
MARTin: Apologies about the King Felix question. Looks like Haniger and Cano may have good seasons though, amirite? ?

1:27
Meg Rowley: Hey look, friends again.

1:28
bleacherbeerbum: thoughts about the 4-man OF alignments employed by HOU. getting to cute, or sure to catch on as a reaction to FB-oriented hitting?

1:29
Meg Rowley: Don’t think we’ve seen evidence it is too cute so far. Seems like a reasonable reaction to a guy like Gallo, though we should always remember these things aren’t as novel as we think they are.

1:29
Meg Rowley: As with all shifts, there is a level that will be Too Much, though I wonder how much luck someone would have trying to convince Joey to bunt and not swing for power. He seems to like that a lot.

1:30
Sean: The Mariners look like they stumbled into a really good bullpen at least…

1:31
Meg Rowley: It has only been eight games, but they are currently 26th in bullpen FIP.

1:32
Meg Rowley: There is potential there, certainly. If you want to feel encouraged, check out how Nicasio’s velo improved in his last outing. But it hasn’t been a great time so far.

1:32
Vinbaka: Buying Bundy’s start?

1:32
Meg Rowley: I am intrigued by Bundy’s start. I also think I remember him starting strong last year before tailing off. But I am intrigued.

1:34
Meg Rowley: Ok, I have to get going. Thanks for all the great questions, and sorry for what I didn’t get to. Today we get Severino/Sale, so that should be fun. Have a good day!

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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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