Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/10/19

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hi all, and welcome to the chat. Allow me a brief moment to refill my coffee, and we’ll get started.

2:03
Meg Rowley: Ok, am sufficiently caffeinated. Let us begin.

2:04
Spider Puig: Do you give Gray any chance at the Cy Young this year?

2:06
Meg Rowley: This year? No. The top is too good, he doesn’t edge anyone in ERA or FIP, doesn’t lead the second half. But if you’re the Reds you have to be thrilled with his season. Dude looks great.

2:06
JustCurious: Who wins the NL awards?

2:07
Meg Rowley: Yelich, Scherzer (though deGrom will keep it interesting), and Alonso imo.

2:08
Charlie Kelly, Esq.: What do you think happens with Mookie Betts this offseason? Big money extension, heartbreaking trade, or status quo wait and hope?

2:08
Meg Rowley: Jay just wrote a really good thing that went live mere minutes ago that I’d encourage everyone to read, which can be found here: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/red-sox-head-towards-a-crossroads-with-moo…

2:09
Meg Rowley: I imagine they’ll listen on trades, freak out all the fans, fail to get an offer that is sufficient, and hold pat, hoping for an extension or a deadline deal.

2:09
Dave B: So…Felix. Ready to write that “final” piece yet?

2:09
Meg Rowley: Not yet.

2:09
Meg Rowley: It just started raining regularly in Seattle. It’s close.

2:10
Blondie: Thanks for hosting these chats! Say you had the power to make one change to the game today and it would go into effect immediately, what would you choose to do? Back to old ball, shift rules, mound further back, DH, anything and everything on the table.

2:10
Meg Rowley: Pay minor leaguers a living wage.

2:11
Meg Rowley: I don’t love the current home run environment, because it is not my preferred baseball aesthetic, but I’d be nervous about changing the ball back being my second choice because 2014 wasn’t super fun either.

2:11
Quincy: Which team that is clearly not going to make the playoffs in 2019 do you think is best set-up to be a contender in 2020?

2:12
Meg Rowley: I know they’re technically close in 2019, but Arizona.

2:12
Guest: If Stanton can’t come back for postseason, do you think they add Frazier to the roster?

2:13
Meg Rowley: Depends on Tauchman’s situation I’d imagine.

2:14
nick Kaiser: Good afternoon! Of the three teams in the AL Wild Card race, which do you think misses out?

2:14
Meg Rowley: Cleveland, just based on what the A’s and Rays have gotten/are getting back.

2:15
Nick: Would you enjoy being the new GM in Boston?  On the one hand, the job comes with plenty of pressure, lots of payroll obligations, and not much of a farm system; on the other hand, it comes with a strong existing group of MLB players and plenty of financial resources to use once the existing financial obligations are paid off.

2:16
Meg Rowley: I don’t have GM aspirations, but if I did, can’t imagine it is easy to resist a franchise like the Red Sox, though as a fan of pluck, and an enemy of humidity, the Northeast teams might not be the ones for me.

2:16
All Star by Smash Mouth: In what year will I finally be able to watch the Tigers at least play nominally interesting baseball? 2022? Earlier? Later?

2:17
Meg Rowley: You will get nominally interesting players before 2022. But as a team? They have a lot of work to do.

2:18
John: I’m learning about Gas Works park in a class and I just wanted to say, Seattle seems like a great city!

2:18
Meg Rowley: It’s a neat place, with cool stuff. I just wish it weren’t so damn expensive these days.

2:19
Angels: At what point next season does Ausmus’ seat begin to get hot?

2:20
Meg Rowley: Eh. I know that managers get assigned blame for this stuff, but he’s not responsible for signing a competent pitching staff.

2:20
Dan: Tauchman’s out for 6 – 8 weeks.  He’s not going to be on the postseason roster.

2:21
Meg Rowley: (totally didn’t miss that at all, nope, nah, very on it)

2:21
Jeff: You know what? I’ll say it. I love the current home run environment. What was so great about slap hitting and small ball anyway?

2:22
Meg Rowley: I just like when there are a variety of playing styles at work at any given time. One of the coolest things about baseball is the range of bodies that can play it and play it incredibly. I like the diversity of styles.

2:24
Ryan: Meg, first, I’m sorry for what the Astro’s did to you your loved ones this weekend.  Second, what % chance would you give them to give way to the Yankees for home field? I’d say 20% as it stands, but I’m curious about your thoughts on that.

2:26
Meg Rowley: I missed much of carnage watching football, so it’s ok. And I think it could be higher than that — Yankees have a slightly easier remaining strength of schedule.

2:26
Roger: Arizona has a better shot at the 2020 post-season than Boston?  I know the Boston season has been disappointing, but that’s in large part only by comparison to last year’s historically good team.  And the only significant player Boston stands to lose to free agency is Porcello, which might actually be addition by subtraction.

2:28
Meg Rowley: Let’s call it AZ for the NL, and Boston for the AL.

2:29
Meg Rowley: My brain craves something with greater novelty, but I will concede to the greatness of Betts, even if I am more concerned about that staff that you seem to be.

2:29
stever20: You think Kapler gets a 3rd year with the Phillies if they don’t make the playoffs?

2:29
Meg Rowley: (Grimace emoji face)

2:30
Meg Rowley: I don’t say this with inside info but I’d be Worried if I were him. Perhaps not Very Worried — I imagine his fate is more closely tied to that of the front office than explicitly to the playoff race, though those are obviously related — but Worried.

2:30
stever20: What do you think about this being the last year with 40 man bloated rosters?   I used to like September baseball with some extra guys, but what the Red Sox have done with their 21 man bullpen have taken it way too far.  Plus I think the 26 man regular roster will be really good next year….

2:31
Meg Rowley: I’ll miss them. I like getting a look at young guys, and for some vets, it’s their big chance to see the bigs.

2:32
Meg Rowley: I wonder how many of the things we’re mad about we’d hate less if we just allowed ourselves to find out the outcome a game the next day.

2:32
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: I miss stolen bases.

2:32
Meg Rowley: Me too. They’re great fun.

2:32
Bring Back Jeff: Meg, save me from Law School class

2:32
Meg Rowley: Why did you go to law school?

2:33
Stuafoo: How about that Julio Rodriguez?!

2:33
Meg Rowley: Very excited to see him in Fall League. Very excited for Fall League generally.

2:33
Matt W: Does it behoove the baseball media at large to talk less about the aesthetic problems within baseball? I feel like a lot of people whose livelihood depends on a healthy sport that are more than happy to call baseball boring or rail on launch angle and the shift and such, and then turn around and wonder why casual fans aren’t interested.

2:34
Meg Rowley: I think you can talk about the sport’s issues honestly without being a Chicken Little about it. That some writers have elected to ask grumps about the aesthetics of the game doesn’t mean that conversation isn’t good to have — it just means you should have a better conversation with fewer grumps.

2:35
Meg Rowley: Some of these issues are overwrought but others are issues fans raise, too, and ignoring them isn’t good for the long-term health of the sport, either.

2:36
Will: Danny Hultzen made his debut this weekend, which was a very cool story. Obviously the benefits of doing away with the 40-man outweigh the downsides, but do you think the career minor leaguer getting a cup of coffee in September will go away completely?

2:36
Meg Rowley: No, but I do think it’ll become rarer.

2:36
dibidibidib: Do you have a favorite underrated or overlooked ball park (not necessarily MLB level)?

2:37
Meg Rowley: I really love Salt River. I like Salt River more than some major league parks. And for that matter, I like Chase! It’s a little like watching baseball in a Costco, but like, a really nice Costco.

2:38
Ben Dubose: Would this Justin Verlander season be considered the one of the greatest ever if the balls weren’t juiced? Dude has a .770 WHIP but sort of an artificially high 2.5 ERA because of those 30-something solo home runs he’s given up.

2:38
Meg Rowley: Craig had a nice mediation on this: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-mystery-of-justin-verlanders-home-runs…

2:39
ChrisSabo’sGoggles: Writers should focus more on the parts that they could potentially influence: earlier games (especially playoffs), less downtime in games, etc.

2:40
Meg Rowley: I don’t quite get why you think we have influence on those things but not the other things, but part of our job is to write about trends in the sport and its viability as an entertainment product.

2:41
Meg Rowley: I’m the wrong writer to say “hey lay off the aesthetics stuff” to. I love that stuff! That stuff is my stuff.

2:41
Greg: Why go to law school?  So you can actually realize your greatest ambitions, both for yourself and the country.  You, for instance, want minor leaguers to be paid a living wage?  It’s lawyers who can make that happen.  See, e.g., https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2019/08/16/court-ruling-allows…

2:42
Meg Rowley: Don’t fret, dude, my moms are attorneys, noble profession, etc etc, though they’re the ones who talked me out of law school, so the call is coming from inside the house in a few different ways.

2:43
PUCP: Arizona next year over the Mets? New York only loses Wheeler to FA and no way the bullpen is this level of bad next year.

2:43
Meg Rowley: Like what that Dbacks team is doing.

2:44
RageKage: Another thing that will be missed without expanded rosters is the few weeks of major league pay – which can really be helpful for the minor leaguers

2:44
Meg Rowley: Yerp.

2:44
Flatlander: Thinking about a move to Seattle but don’t have/need a car in my current city. How is life in Seattle with/ without a car?

2:45
Meg Rowley: So, I guess the question is, do you have a license, and where are you planning to work/live. The transit is uhhhh still evolving? If you live on the lightrail, it’s breezy. If you don’t, it’s much more irritating. And a lot of what’s great about living here is being able to get out into nature. But like many cities, Car 2 Go and services like that are plentiful if you need to drive somewhere, and there are lots of ride shares. So it’s doable, if not super convenient.

2:46
Meg Rowley: But also, I work from home and so don’t drive a ton. Just depends.

2:47
Jeff: I watched some Royals-Marlins this weekend because I’m bad at self care. Which team’s fanbase should be more optimistic/less despondent?

2:47
Meg Rowley: I guess Royals fans can try to get excited about new ownership, but I’d take Miami’s farm.

2:47
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: DK Metcalf: thoughts?

2:48
Meg Rowley: His debut was very good, and I look forward to him getting like, two targets a game because the universe decided to make me, Meg, the managing editor of FanGraphs a fan of one of the most analytically backward teams in football.

2:49
stever20: re expanded rosters and more pay- currently max would be 15 players for 28 days- 420 per team.  BUT 26 players for the regular season plus then 2 players for September is roughly 206 days(not to mention IL used more in Septmeber- thus more days).  And given not every team right now recalls to 40- a lot are at 32-33 right now- the difference isn’t going to be as much as you would think……

2:50
Meg Rowley: What if we just kept expanded rosters and added a 26th man?

2:50
Angels: Meg, you must not watch many Angels games. He challenged a first inning HR that was clearly fair. He also challenged a HBP on the first batter of a game. He has not idea how to set a line-up or manage a bullpen. There is no logical method as to how he uses an opener.

2:50
Meg Rowley: Think we’ve discussed this before. Not saying he’s amazing, and I thought the hire was weird at the time, but I also think he’s not the thing holding them back from being a playoff team.

2:51
Overbearing Padre: What’s Dave Cameron’s footprint with the Padres so far?

2:51
Meg Rowley: Imagine his feet are mostly the same size as they were before.

2:52
stever20: because folks have absolutely no interest in watching 20 man bullpen games like what Boston is doing this month.   Because September baseball should be gasp just about like March-August baseball.

2:52
Meg Rowley: I do mostly want to watch those guys, so when asked, that’s what I said.

2:52
Parth: Not sure if you’ve answered, but how do you think Zaidi will go after the Giants offseason? TOTAL rebuild? Or kind of piecing together chips?

2:53
Meg Rowley: I think they’ll start to rebuild in earnest. I think baseball ops wanted to at the deadline.

2:53
Minor Leaguer: what is a living wage? state by state cost of living is very different. Would the wage be based on the state my team is located, or where I live in the off season? Do I only make that wage during the season (like teachers) or do I get paid 12 months out of the year while I am under contract?

2:58
Meg Rowley: Whatever “doesn’t have to drive uber/be a substitute teacher/drive cattle in the offseason” money is. We can quibble over what that exact dollar amount is, but MLB lobbied to get out of paying minor leaguers minimum wage during spring training in Arizona. The minimums in A-ball are $1,300. That’s hard to live on anywhere even during the season, and then you’re pulling them away from baseball to make ends meet in the offseason.

2:59
Cespedes U Bum : Where do you stand on the Syndegaard – Ramos, personal catcher situation? The disparity is pretty large, and it doesn’t seem like too much of an effort to align Ramos’ off days with Noah’s stars

3:00
Meg Rowley: It doesn’t. I find litigating that stuff publicly to be kind of strange — imagine if you called your local paper when Kevin forgot to wash his dishes in the break room *again* — but at least by our metrics, Ramos is their worst framer by a not small margin.

3:01
KCCub: Do you expect Vogelbach to be starting for the Mariners in 2020? He’s taken a big step backwards since the All Star break so am wondering what his future looks like.

3:02
Meg Rowley: Starting, perhaps not. But honestly, what do they have to lose? They won’t be good next year.

3:02
Looch: Why not solve the September roster issue with hockey rules?  You can expand your roster but you can still only dress 25 for a game.  You want to carry 20 relievers on your roster, that’s great – you’ll have fresh arms – but you can still only dress 25 players for each game.  Rotate some rookies through, give them a little exposure, etc. and keep bullpen arms fresh at the end of the year without diluting the games that matter so much at the end of the season.

3:03
Meg Rowley: Yeah, I mentioned the NFL version of this as a possibility on EW. The bullpens are as much about modern usage as anything else — deal with that directly, imo.

3:03
Guest: Musing: self-care is good; the term “self-care” is bad.  Thoughts?

3:04
Meg Rowley: Overused, and used to broadly, but I don’t take issue with the term itself.

3:04
Guest: What sample size do we need to say with *some* confidence that a pitcher pitches better/worse to a certain catch than to others?

3:04
Meg Rowley: I mostly would just look at a catcher’s defensive production generally.

3:05
Nate: As a Texans fan, wish I could raise a beer right now to your thoughts on analytically backwards football teams. Haha

3:05
Meg Rowley: Hey, they let your mobile quarterback pass the ball. It’s something.

3:05
Meg Rowley: Ok all, I need to get rolling. Sorry for what I didn’t get to, and have a good week.

We hoped you liked reading Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/10/19 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 previously appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside.

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stever20
Member
Member
stever20

Sorry, but I just don’t see what teams like Boston is doing in September as being good for baseball at all… They have used 6.5 pitchers per game in September- in all 9 inning games. And sorry, the NHL like setting of 25 guys at the start of every game does absolutely NOTHING to prevent that at all. You have 1 starter and 12 releivers. Then next game different starter and 12 relievers. Thanks, but no thanks.

Leinhorn
Member
Member
Leinhorn

Meg suggested that it matters more if you’re watching, live, and trying to get the game in/on a clock, etc. than if you’re curious about player development, just hanging out at the park, the W/L outcome, etc, (if I understood correctly), which I think is a helpful way to think about it. What’s fun for one is not fun for all, and that cuts all ways. I don’t love watching outcome-unrelated pitching changes twice an inning, but I do love getting to see Hultzen pitch, or getting a look at Rich Hill in case he retires, etc.

Seems like the hockey suggestion was a good one–allow the club to travel with 40 but only dress 25 because you can’t just plow through a pen. But I, for one, am excited about all the matchups I’m going to see in the postseason specifically because it won’t just be the same 3 pitchers over and over.

Leinhorn
Member
Member
Leinhorn

I think about the different ways I enjoy games from when I was in my 20s/on my own/never tired to going to games with friends with small children, in which case pitching changes are often very welcome opportunities to manage issues. There’s got to be a way to appeal to everyone, right?

stever20
Member
Member
stever20

but if you have the only dressing 25, you can do exactly what the Red Sox are doing. You absolutely can plow thru a pen…. You’d have 1 starter and then 12 relievers.

What I hate about it is that September baseball is almost nothing like baseball is in any other month….. And that’s wrong.

Cheeknbut
Member
Cheeknbut

Don’t forget that next year there will be restrictions for pitching changes that will make that a pretty bad strategy

stever20
Member
Member
stever20

yeah that’s a good point. And that will help to some degree.