Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 8/21/18 by Meg Rowley August 21, 2018 2:00 Meg Rowley: Hello, and welcome to the chat. 2:00 Meg Rowley: There is a lot of smoke in Seattle. It is a bummer. But, a chat! 2:00 Nick : Robinson Cano had a dramatic HR for the Mariners last night. Is this the Mariners keeping their heads above water for a little longer before they finally drown? Or is there a rescue boat nearby? 2:01 Meg Rowley: I think it might be best described as there is a lifeboat nearby, but the crew of the boat has dropped one of the oars in the water and also, the A’s are a giant shark whose fin we can see. 2:02 Meg Rowley: The AL West being a race is very exciting and winning is better than losing. And surely the A’s can’t win like this… forever? I think the division still probably goes to the Astros, but it is hardly a far gone conclusion, and the A’s still probably hold on to the second wild card, but the M’s aren’t dead yet. 2:02 Nick : Why is Luis Urias still not on the Padres? 2:03 Meg Rowley: Because teams will always prefer to retain extra control of players, even if they are good, especially when the team isn’t playing for anything. 2:03 Nick : Will Oakland ever stop winning? I’m getting annoyed. 2:03 Meg Rowley: They probably will stop winning sometime! If nothing else, they have to deal with Houston/Boston/New York in the playoffs. 2:04 Meg Rowley: They are a very fun team though. They have several of the good Matts. They have Fernando Rodney. They have a fan base that is small, but mighty! 2:04 Meg Rowley: You should feel however you want to, though. I’m not here to tell you how to feel. 2:04 White Sox Fan: Finally Kopech is on the way. Hope he’s a bit better than Gonzalves was last night for the Twins. Over/under on K’s at 6 – I’ll take the over… 2:05 Meg Rowley: The thing I’ll be interested in is walks (I know, I know, it has been better lately, I KNOW). 2:05 Guest: A.J. Hinch announced recently that Osuna “is going to get the majority of save opportunities”, which means that Hector Rondon is now 2-2 on getting replaced as a closer by someone with some pretty serious off-the-field issues…that’s gotta suck 2:06 Meg Rowley: I think that it is important that we continue to recognize that (and the Astros are far from the only team to do this) these are all choices. They might be choices that are logical in a baseball sense. They might be choices that are heavily incentivized. But they are choices, and Houston has to wear them. 2:06 Mike: On a scale of 1-10, 1 being not meaningful at all and 10 being very meaningful, how meaningful is this Red Sox/Indians series? On one hand, it would take a catastrophe for either team to miss the playoffs but on the other hand, if Cleveland plays well people should start taking them seriously. 2:07 Meg Rowley: I think people were taking Cleveland more seriously already, but the loss of Bauer is a big one. Winning against good teams is always a good thing. I would imagine it means more to the players than it necessarily Means, but yeah. 2:07 CamdenWarehouse: Has it always been a thing for baseball announcers to brag about being unaware of pop culture? I’ve noticed this a lot over the last few years. This weekend a Yankees broadcaster had to make sure everyone knew he had no idea what GoT was and it came off so…weird. It’s a very specific breed of baseball grump. 2:08 Meg Rowley: If I wanted to be generous I would say that there is a certain strain of contrarian that exists across all age groups that delights in being out of step with what is popular. If that’s new to the booth I’d think it’s mostly because announcers engage pop culture more than they used to. But yeah, it reads grumpy for sure. 2:09 Meg Rowley: I will say, and I mean this as someone who likes Game of Thrones and has read the books, ummmm kinda weird that MLB has embraced that show, no? 2:10 Meg Rowley: Like, fundamental to the plot of the show about a lot of people being murdered horribly in the pursuit of power are a bunch of closely related characters having sexy time with each other. Very family friendly. 2:10 seattlecougar: I hope tonight’s Women in Baseball night is a success! As excited as I’m sure you are for it, would you support the Mariners canceling games until this smoke clears? I tried to go to last night’s game and just sitting on my ass was killing me – I have no idea how the players survived physical exertion in that. 2:11 Meg Rowley: I will not pretend to know more than the advisories have said, but I’m not sure it is at that point yet? I do encourage people who have concerns to reach out to the team. I think (and I hope I’m not speaking out of turn here) I saw one of the team’s reps say they would offer refunds on the game generally. 2:11 Meg Rowley: Also the event will be on Facebook Live, so if you can’t make it because of smoke, you can still watch! 2:12 Meg Rowley: It is really bad. It made me wonder what the protocol is for cancelling games. Seems like an issue that will come up more. 2:12 Devil Ray Jay Johnson: Do the Rays have a path to contending next year? What if they spent an extra $20 million to find a decent starter and DH? 2:12 Meg Rowley: The Rays are almost contending now! A lot will depend on when pitchers come back and how healthy they are, but sure. 2:13 Meg Rowley: I like what the Rays do. I think it is smart and imaginative. I also wonder, huh, if you spent some money, then what could you do? 2:14 Meg Rowley: They’re always going to be nervous about how much $20 million is of total payroll. But it would be good to see them somewhat less cheap, even if they’ll never rival the Yankees and Dodgers. 2:14 Eddie: Has anyone accomplished more before getting their 1st AAA than Jose Altuve? 2:14 Meg Rowley: He is a great, delightful baseball spirit. And no. 2:14 Michael Anthony: Do you think superutility player fit Wil Myers better than lineup anchoring first baseman/corner outfield? 2:15 Meg Rowley: I don’t think we know what his best fit is because we don’t know what all the other Padres fits are, but he isn’t bad. Quite good sometimes! He’s better than some other first basemen on that roster for instance. 2:15 Ryan: So, the A’s, huh? 2:16 Meg Rowley: Just remarkable. 2:16 Meg Rowley: Their playoff odds on June 16 were… 2:16 Meg Rowley: 3.3% 2:16 Meg Rowley: They are now in the high 70s. 2:16 Nick : Better Sunday cream uniforms, Mariners, Phillies, or Braves? 2:17 Meg Rowley: I love those Phillies uniforms. They are sooo sharp. 2:17 Pad Squad: In a similar way that the Dodgers acquired Machado by relinquishing a handful of mediocre prospects, shouldn’t the Padres be using their immense prospect depth to acquire some star players? Pads have 43 viable prospects according to FanGraphs…throw a bunch of ’em in deals to get big ticket players, no? 2:17 Meg Rowley: Why do it now? I mean yes, I imagine some of those players will be used to acquire other talent, but what’s the rush. 2:18 Meg Rowley: I think they are a fringe contending team next year, real deal contenders the year after assuming stuff breaks right. 2:18 Pitch_Out: Your recent participation in the Women in Baseball panel had me thinking about Suzyn Waldman. I personally love listening to her and John Sterling on their broadcast but I know that opinion isn’t shared by all. Given some of the very negative things people say about their style, I was wondering what the general consensus of other women in the industry was on Suzyn. Universally beloved as a trailblazer or begrudging respect? 2:19 Meg Rowley: Well the event hasn’t happened just yet (tonight). I know that Suzyn endured a lot of nonsense early in her tenure, but I’ll admit that I don’t have a super strong feel on her as broadcaster, which is mostly a function of what she does now. 2:19 Meg Rowley: I’d also say that a group as broad as “women in the industry” probably don’t think one way about anything. 2:19 Billy Beane: Hi Meg, it’s me again! I presume you still think the Astros are the likely AL West winners at the moment. How many games ahead of them would my boys need to get in order to become favorites for the title in your eyes? 2:20 Meg Rowley: Five? Six? The Astros are a very good roster in a weird funk. The A’s have part of a good roster and a rotation that scares me whatever the bullpen is doing that is playing out of its mind. 2:21 Meg Rowley: I do still think it’ll be the Astros but I also think it is a lot closer than it was. 2:22 Meg Rowley: My dream scenario is the A’s win the division, the Yankees miss the wild card, and James Paxton and Edwin Diaz end the Astros season in the wild card because hey it is my dream, I get to like things I like. 2:22 Mexican Food Proprietor: What do you make of Matt Carpenter’s Dinger Salsa and it’s effects on the Cardinals’ playoff chances? 2:22 Meg Rowley: That it is a fun story and a great prank, and that it didn’t do anything to change their odds, but who cares 2:22 yojiveself: What the heck has happened to Dee Gordon? Is he this bad or is it a prolonged slump? 2:23 Meg Rowley: I don’t think he is this bad. I do think that he has a very limited way to be good, and when that isn’t working it can be a disaster. 2:23 Pad Squad: None of the Padres’ players have even 2 WAR this year. Should the organization use their minor league depth to acquire SEVERAL significant upgrades? 2:23 Meg Rowley: What if the prospects are the upgrades? The callups are coming from inside the house! 2:23 yojiveself: What would your at-bat song be? 2:24 Meg Rowley: These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, by Nancy Sinatra 2:24 AJ Hinch: Please can I ask an entirely hypothetical question. Imagine you’re the manager of the defending World Series champs and you have arguably the strongest roster in recent years at your disposal. Then you go and give up a 12-game lead in your division to the team who began the season with the league’s lowest payroll. If you go on and lose the division from here, could you end up out of a job over the winter? I’m, er, asking for a friend. 2:24 Meg Rowley: I would very, very surprised. 2:25 Will: We talk a lot about how grim the Royals and Orioles future is, but isn’t the Rangers also pretty grim? Their farm is fine, but they have very little young MLB talent, and are built around some aging players. 2:25 Meg Rowley: So many ways for the world to be bad. 2:25 Meg Rowley: I think the most dire of those is Baltimore just because they really have to change so much from an organizational perspective. 2:25 Bread Gardner: What would you say is the best type of M&M? There is a correct answer, and it definitely isn’t almond. 2:26 Meg Rowley: It is truly whatever you like best. Food fights, both literal and figurative, are dumb imo. Like what you like as long as it isn’t eating like, dolphins or people. 2:27 Dave’s Not Here: Cano or Justin Turner—who’ll be the west coast comeback player of the year? 2:27 Meg Rowley: Justin Turner, by virtue of him not coming back from his own poor decision making. 2:27 Bread Gardner: Didi just hit the DL. Judge is not close to swinging a bat. Why haven’t we traded for a hitter who is not Shane Robinson? 2:27 Meg Rowley: Maybe you’ve tried very hard but your phones are down. That is so lousy! 2:28 Meg Rowley: I expect they’ll do something before the Aug deadline. 2:29 Matt: What’s worse, the Mets for being the Mets, or the Phillies for losing to the Mets? 2:29 Meg Rowley: Being the Mets is almost always the worst thing. 2:29 Dan: Vlad Jr an immediate impact player when (if?) he comes up in September? 2:30 Meg Rowley: Are you asking me if I think the best prospect in baseball will have an immediate impact? I mean, I think so yes. His absence to date is purely service time ickiness. He’s ready. 2:30 Balks: How do we get more balks in baseball? There are far too few. 2:32 Meg Rowley: I’m beginning to wonder if they aren’t like holding penalties on offensive linemen. You could call one a lot of the time but… I don’t think it is quite that bad, but just no one knows the rule all that well. 2:32 Scottttttt: What do the Cubs want with a replacement level middle infielder like Murphy when they have Happ, Baez, and Russell? 2:33 Meg Rowley: Because at times he has been far, far better than that. At times this very year! Never hurts to have a bat like that, especially given how anemic their offense has been at times in the second half. 2:34 Nate: To follow up on your lifeboat analogies…if the A’s are a giant shark, and the Mariners are the drowning heroes here, does that make the Astros a giant Kraken that everyone is trying to eliminate? 2:34 Meg Rowley: We should all worry about the Astros and Krakens. Probably the Astros more immediately. 2:34 Bo: The Nationals reportedly placed their vets on waivers Friday (understandably a procedural move), but is there a chance any of them are dealt? Does the timing suggest they’re waving the white flag? 2:35 Meg Rowley: A lot of teams do it this time of year. The Nationals doing that isn’t the white flag. Them actually getting deals done… I dunno, Bo, they’re in a bad place. 2:35 Guest: Dbacks, Phillies, Braves Rockies Cardinals all projected for 87 wins (rounded) with Brewers at 88. Is this about to be the most exciting stretch since 2011? 2:35 Meg Rowley: And we all thought the playoff chase would be so lame and chaseless! 2:36 bighen: Mets had Frazier, Jackson, Bautista, Reyes and Rotterdam in the lineup last night. Are they just screwing with people at this point? What are they hoping to accomplish? 2:37 Meg Rowley: Maybe it is performance art or maybe there are some people who are less good at their jobs big-footing those who are better at their jobs. Some of these young dudes haven’t been amazing, but literally what do you gain by keeping them up but not playing them? 2:37 Mike: How many starts prior to the postseason would Bauer have to be back for to be considered “ready” for postseason baseball? He seems like a guy that would pitch out of a wheelchair if they’d let him, so I assume he’s doing something to try to keep himself ready. 2:38 Meg Rowley: After the weekend Michael Baumann had on twitter I will refrain from speculating on Bauer’s treatment plan, but I will say this is just terribly timed for him and for Cleveland. 2:38 Meg Rowley: At least it isn’t his arm? 2:38 Ellsbury’s Travel Agent: Could the AL West be considered a tougher division than the AL East now? 2:39 Meg Rowley: Depends on the perspective I suppose. I don’t think it is a harder division for other divisions to play. 2:40 Meg Rowley: I think the Yankees/Red Sox combo is rougher on both other divisions and teams within their division. 2:40 Meg Rowley: It is a tighter division weirdly though. 2:41 Rox: Do you see the Rox or Dbacks taking the division from the Dodgers this year? 2:42 Meg Rowley: I think the Dbacks are much more likely. I think the Dodgers are best pure team of the three, but this is getting very tight! 2:42 Lunar verLander: re. smoke in Seattle: I presume it’s not as simple as “close the stadium roof and turn on the AC to vent the smoke out”? 2:42 Meg Rowley: Sadly, that isn’t an option. The ballpark has a roof, but is open air. It isn’t like Houston, where the whole thing can be climate controlled. 2:42 Meg Rowley: The biggest issue is rain, not heat. 2:43 Rickey H: I do not remember any outrage when Cole Hamels obviously drilled rookie Bryce Harper when he was on a hot streak a few years ago. In fact, most off the commentary was of the “welcome to the Show, rook” type. Have attitudes really changed that much or do the personalities matter in these things? That is, is it because people like Acuna and Hamels and don’t like Urena and Harper? 2:44 Meg Rowley: There might be some of that, but I really do think we’ve taken a step forward in how this stuff is perceived. 2:44 Meg Rowley: I think a lot of that has to do with how hard on average guys are throwing now. 2:44 Ryan: I need some good business words to use around the office. Suggestions? 2:44 Meg Rowley: It is August so… vacation! 2:45 Dov : I guess I think the Rays are smart and imaginative and yet they make the game aesthetically worse and probably are anti-labor. They’ve made a fetish of fungibility because they’re always about cost savings. That’s not a good trend. 2:46 Meg Rowley: I agree that refusing to spend money is a bad trend. I think we can acknowledge that teams, even if the general level of spending goes up, will have different capacities, but teams should invest in players imo. 2:47 Meg Rowley: Now, that likely means shifting who the money goes to, because you aren’t going to convince front offices to spend money on aging players. 2:48 Zack: The Mets and Mariners are next to each other in run differential…can’t predict baseball? 2:48 Meg Rowley: Teams should try to score a lot of runs and allow fewer runs and it would go better for them. 2:48 Meg Rowley: As a Mariners fan allow me to say, thank god for Edwin Diaz. 2:48 STL Dave: So, the Cardinals, huh? 2:49 Meg Rowley: That whole race is a giant freaking mess and I love it more than some not nice members of my family. 2:49 Joseph: Did they remove Game Logs from player pages? I can’t seem to find it anymore. 2:49 Meg Rowley: hmmmmm hold please 2:49 Meg Rowley: No? 2:49 Meg Rowley: https://www.fangraphs.com/statsd.aspx?playerid=4316&position=2B&gds=&g… 2:50 Scott: Could Khris Davis be a good spokesperson for the league? Style of play is fun to watch, genuinely nice guy, and more representation from a smaller profile club. I know he’s shy as hell but still 2:51 Meg Rowley: I think so. I also think that not everyone is super comfortable with press. I won’t pretend I know him, so I’m not sure what the source of that shyness is. I wonder if he’s more comfortable now that they’re letting him just DH and he doesn’t have to deal with nasty questions about is defense. 2:52 Kole Calhoun: re. west coast comeback player of the year: me? 2:52 Meg Rowley: you won’t be in the playoffs 🙁 2:52 All Cats Are Beautiful : It still seems strange to me that the billionaire owner of the Ms personally pocketed around 10 million dollars because Cano used PEDs. I understand the suspension and can kinda understand tge loss of salary but tgere has to be a better place to put that penalized salary than the owner’s pocket. C’mon player’s union! 2:53 Meg Rowley: It got spent on Denard Span and Álex Colomé though 2:53 Meg Rowley: I take your point, but that also isn’t what really happened here. 2:53 CamdenWarehouse: What’s worse: being the Mets or being the Orioles? 2:53 Meg Rowley: How honest do you want me to be? 2:53 Matt: So Daniel Murphy is a Cub….thoughts? 2:54 Meg Rowley: I like it. 2:55 Meg Rowley: He’s a good player and a good bat and the Cubs could use both of those things. 2:55 Meg Rowley: Sorry, my internet is being a bit twitchy. 2:55 Ryan: Carson Cistulli – What’s his deal? 2:55 Meg Rowley: Great editor, better person, tremendous mustache. 2:56 john cale: rougned odor!! 2:56 Meg Rowley: I was presented with two options and picked between them, and you also will not be in the playoffs and that often matters in these things. 2:56 Trade Judge: Is it fair to say that the Rays were the best team at the trade deadline? It seems like they got a pretty good haul for Archer 2:56 Meg Rowley: They did very well for themselves. 2:57 CamdenWarehouse: How do the Rays make the game “aesthetically worse”? other than the Trop. 2:57 Meg Rowley: Some people (hi!) enjoy starting pitching. I think there is room for both things, and I think the Rays have said this is borne at least in part out of necessity, but I get folks not liking it. 2:58 Bo: How much stock do you put into run differential as predictor of future success? Do the outliers (Philly +8, Seattle -39, Washington +59) suggest luck at play, or something else? 2:59 Meg Rowley: It’s a somewhat crude instrument, but it’s definitely suggestive. It often tells us to keep looking to better understand. Why is Seattle still doing alright? Oh, sure, Edwin Diaz and clutch hitting. It isn’t the end of the analysis but it’s a useful start. 2:59 Mike: Which AL contender is losing the most on the DL right now? Boston with Sale/Devers/Pedroia, NY with Judge/Sanchez/Sabathia, Houston with Altuve/Devenski/McCullers/McCann, or Cleveland with Bauer/Encarnacion/Martin/Chisenhall? 3:00 Meg Rowley: I am inclined to say Houston right at this minute, with NY right behind. Boston is 10 games in front, and Cleveland’s competition is the AL Central. Those DL days matter a lot more for Houston and New York right now. 3:01 Rockie Dangerfield: In addition to the strike zone, I bet they could also automate fair/foul calls. Tennis already has the tech to do it down the lines, and I don’t think a laser fence to check fly balls over the foul poles would be that tough to do. 3:01 Meg Rowley: Foul and fair is much easier to do. It also isn’t wrong all that often. I am still not convinced the auto-zone technology is there. 3:02 N: A few years ago, Daniel Murphy said several times in an interview that he “disagrees with the homosexual lifestyle” (https://deadspin.com/daniel-murphy-disagrees-with-the-gay-lifestyle-16…) It doesn’t seem like he faced any negative repercussions from this via MLB or even in the public eye. What would it take for this (or Torii Hunter’s statements) to be seen as the equivalent to Yunel Escobar eye makeup debacle in the MLB? Does it not matter because it didn’t happen on the field? 3:04 Meg Rowley: I think he faced a fair amount of backlash for it publicly, as did Hunter. It definitely mattered, and it is something that I know still bothers LGBT fans. Escobar used a slur on the field. That’s always going to garner a greater response. I do like to think that this stuff is getting better, even if the progress is halting. 3:04 Dan: The nationals let Adams go for salary relief under $1m.. how could that be worth the bad press/fan goodwill/lowered chance to sign Harper that will result from rebuilding? 3:04 Meg Rowley: When you’ve already done a bunch of things to bug your fan base, I guess, what’s one more? 3:04 Jon: Are you afraid there are more players like Cano getting a little extra help this year? 3:05 Meg Rowley: I do not believe he is the only MLB player to use PEDs this year. 3:05 Rays: You’re going to remember this in a couple of years. The Rays have spent years building up the farm system into what it is now. The players that have come up this year will be the stars of the future. The Rays are getting the new TV deal in two years and a new stadium in a couple of seasons. That will give Tampa a lot of money to be able to spend on the young guys that are playing now. The core of this team will be together for many years. 3:06 Meg Rowley: Ok. I don’t think anyone is saying they will never spend. I think many people are pointing out that they haven’t really. 3:07 Meg Rowley: And don’t worry, I have limitless faith in the ability of MLB teams to convince municipalities to spend money on ballparks, even if they shouldn’t. 3:07 Mike: Most exciting duo to watch this year? NY – Judge/Stanton, Boston – JD/Mookie, LAA – Trout/Ohtani, Cleveland – Ramirez/Lindor, Oakland – Davis/Chapman, Houston – Bregman/Springer (or whatever combination you want), Cubs – Baez/Contreras, other… 3:08 Meg Rowley: Ramirez and Lindor has been just the greatest joy. 3:09 Meg Rowley: Alright friends, my internet keeps glitching out. Does smoke impact fiber optic cable? 3:09 Meg Rowley: I think I am going to call it there rather than make you wait for answers. 3:09 Meg Rowley: But, thanks for the questions, and apologies for what I didn’t get to. 3:10 Meg Rowley: If you’re at Safeco for Women in Baseball tonight, please say hi! 3:10 Meg Rowley: Until next week!