Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/17/19

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hi all — welcome to the chat!

2:01
Meg Rowley: Let’s get this bit of awfulness out of the way…

2:01
Vander: Vazquez… Just… *sigh*… Please say he’s going to be out of baseball for good… Please.

2:01
BlueJayMatt: If you were in charge of the Pirates what would you do with Vazquez?

2:01
Dr. Frank Jobe: So uhhh Felipe Velasquez eh?

2:01
awg: Felipe Vazquez 😬😬😬😬😬😬😬😬😬😬😬

2:01
Epic Mike Francesca: Will Vasquez every play again?

2:03
Meg Rowley: It’s an awful thing that hopefully (not sure that’s quite the right word but) won’t be in the Pirates hands at all, but yeah, this is one where the right thing to do seems pretty cut and dry. I hope that his victim is getting the support needed to move forward and recover.

2:03
Twinkie: This is the year the Twins finally vanquish the Yankees in the playoffs, right? ….Right?

2:06
Meg Rowley: In terms of their pythag and baseruns, they’re closer squads than you might expect even just looking at their records, and of course, anything can happen in a short series, but as New York will have home field if they get the Twins (and who knows, they could outpace the Astros) and the Twins have taken some hits, so they wouldn’t be my favorites going in.

2:06
Cubbie Blues: To what extent do you think players get in their own heads? I know major leaguers have been selected for performing under pressure, but it still feels like some players have more skill when it comes to mental control than others.

2:08
Meg Rowley: I would imagine that even within the major league player population, which probably shows advanced aptitude for that sort of thing, there’s a real range, and that individual players even exhibit range over the course of their careers or a single season. How much it manifests in on-field performance is harder to untangle.

2:09
Meg Rowley: Players who are struggling with the mental side probably struggled on the field first — in a lot of ways it’s just a rational response to stimulus. Maybe something is happening at home that lowers your baseline ability to bob and weave with that stuff.

2:10
Cubbie Blues: Who’s the player whose value as a person/moral value most outstrips their value on the field?

2:11
Meg Rowley: This is a really difficult question to answer because I don’t know these dudes — meaning there are hidden gems and also, some stinkers we don’t know about. I think if I could pick two dudes to be in a club house to help show their younger fellows how to be professionals and decent humans, Adam Jones and Hunter Pence are up there.

2:11
Dombrowski’s Ghsot: How do you foresee the Red Sox dealing with their front office situation this offseason?  Do you think they hire internally now that Hazen is locked up in Arizona?

2:12
Meg Rowley: I’m sure they’ll go through a search — no harm at all in potentially availing yourself of talent outside the org. I’m sure their internal quartet knew that would be part of this.

2:13
Matt: Should Marcus Semien at least get a few AL MVP votes? If you are one of there “where would the team be without him” people

2:13
Meg Rowley: He should definitely garner down ballot consideration, and I imagine that he will.

2:15
Meg Rowley: He’s had a great season. The size of it depends on the metric you’re using, but his defensive turnaround the last two years remains one of my favorite later career development stories.

2:16
Billy Beane: Hey Meg, if and when baseball expands to 32 teams, how would you prefer they divvy up the divisions? I think going east/west like basketball makes sense for scheduling in each league and then just doing a 1-5 ranking and ignoring divisons for postseason seeding. Then we would not get situations like last year where the Yankees and A’s are both vastly superior to every team in the Central, but still have to play a one game play-in while Cleveland gets a full series.

2:18
Meg Rowley: I don’t imagine ownership will be keen to give up on divisions (which isn’t a reason not to, just a substantial obstacle), but yes, a geographic realignment seems like something to consider. I think having a limited slate of interleague stuff is still good because it’s nice for fans of teams on the west coast to get to see east teams and vice versa, but yeah, some of this travel is pretty goofy.

2:18
BlueJayMatt: If you could create two new franchises, where would you put them?

2:19
Meg Rowley: I like the idea of Charlotte getting a team. There’s appetite for the game, it’s a good companion to other leagues in the area. So there and Montreal.

2:20
Wicho, Jr.: What’s the real benefit in going with an established manager over a new guy? What does Girardi get from his ten years of managing that a supposedly sharp baseball mind, like Espada or Ibañez (to name two), doesn’t have?

2:21
Meg Rowley: Managing people is a skill. It’s one that you have to practice at, like anything else, and while it’s the part of the job we see the least directly, it’s incredibly important. Now experience doesn’t always mean that goes well. But I think there’s value there.

2:22
Nolan: As a Reds fan, my experience with Chapman makes me think that the Pirates–having declined to trade Vasquez at the peak of his value–will now trade him at the absolute nadir of his value for nearly nothing in return; Vasquez will then reestablish his value as a dominant closer with his new team; and that new team will trade a half season of Vasquez for an all-star shortstop.  Is this plausible, or has being a Reds fan just left me bitter and cynical about trades?

2:24
Meg Rowley: I think that being cynical about how this stuff is generally a smart default position unfortunately, but at least from what we know so far (which, granted this is pretty new) the facts of this case may well take that option away from the Pirates. I don’t say that to diminish Chapman’s circumstances, but this case seems to be materially different.

2:24
Bring Back Jeff: Well, Meg. It’s been a week and I find myself in the same law class during your chat. You have failed to save me.

2:25
Meg Rowley: I invited you to save yourself. Sometimes all we need to be happy is permission granted by circumstance.

2:25
Nate: How about them Brewers? They’ve got the favorable schedule down the stretch, Cubs and Cardinals have 7 more games against each other yet too! Do you think they’ve got a reasonable chance?

2:27
Meg Rowley: A reasonable chance? Yes. We have them with 40ish% playoff odds, I believe, though much of that is Wild Card odds. I think the Cards still take that division, despite a harder schedule. But if they do so, it comes at the Cubs’ expense, so that’s good news for you.

2:27
ChrisSabo’sGoggles: Best record in 2022: Orioles, Tigers, Royals, or Marlins?

2:27
Meg Rowley: Marlins.

2:27
Meg Rowley: Mostly on the strength of the farm.

2:28
Guest: Trout still wins MVP you think?

2:30
Meg Rowley: Yes, I think so. Now, as Jay noted in his piece on this, we haven’t really had a player who has both been injured and played for a bad team (Betts last year was hurt but uhhh the Red Sox did fine), but I still think it goes to Trout.

2:30
Severino and Betances: We picked a good month to return.

2:30
Meg Rowley: Indeed.

2:30
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Are you ever looking at a MLB organization and thinking “yeah, like 60% MAGAheads here.”

2:31
Meg Rowley: It’s a very conservative group on the whole.

2:31
Meg Rowley: There’s some shifting around on that score, but only some.

2:32
Pat’s Bat: With all the knowledge you have about baseball it seems like you would enjoy fantasy.  Is it a lack of time or interest that keeps you playing?

2:33
Meg Rowley: Interest — it’s just not how I like to engage with the game. That’s not to knock those for whom it is great fun. I am so glad you are having great fun! But it’s not my favorite. I forget I have a team for long stretches. I thought I had been kicked out of my league last year (hi Thomas sorrrrryyyyyyyy) and was horrified to learn I hadn’t been.

2:33
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Sean Doolittle is a good guy, too

2:34
Meg Rowley: Indeed! That’s the other risk with a question like that — offering an arbitrarily small list naturally means leaving off a lot of good dudes.

2:34
Meg Rowley: And we need as many of those as we can get our hands on.

2:35
TomBruno23: What team takes 1st place in the NL Central this season, and why?

2:36
Meg Rowley: The Cards, despite the harder schedule, mostly because of the injuries to the Brewers and Cubs.

2:36
Meg Rowley: None of those teams is particularly amazing.

2:36
James Paxton: This October is going to be my national emergence, watch.

2:36
Guest: It’s fun that Paxton is great again and we don’t have to hear about another pitcher who “can’t make it in NY”

2:39
Meg Rowley: When Paxton’s stuff is all working he’s an actively fun pitcher to watch. The idea of him shoving for all the world to see is pretty rad.

2:39
Bo: Which (reasonably) possible WS matchup would be the most fun, in your own opinion? Braves-Twins ’91 rematch would have to be up there.

2:40
Meg Rowley: I’d still like to see the Yankees or Astros emerge from the AL because they’re so fun to watch — Dodgers/Braves is my NL preference. I think any combo thereof is good. I’m not big on historical rematches, honestly.

2:40
stever20: how lucky does Friedman feel today from the Dodgers re. Vazquez?

2:40
Meg Rowley: Will give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s not thinking about this awful human thing in those terms.

2:41
Billy Beane: Hey Meg, would you mind elaborating on why ownership would not want to give up on divisions? I’m not sure what you mean, but I’m interested in your perspective. Thanks for nswering!

2:41
Meg Rowley: I think the rivalries are appealing to them from a ticket sale perspective as is the guaranteed series if they win is all.

2:42
Norm: All this Brewers winning is making me even more sad about the Yelich injury.

2:43
Meg Rowley: Yeah, it’s a damn shame. Heck, I’m bummed we don’t have a loan system to get more good players on bad teams into the fray.

2:44
Marc: How rough is it writing elegies at the end of the season? On the one hand, I can’t imagine there’s much to write about close to the end of the season, but on the other hand you guys are going to have to pump out one a day pretty soon

2:44
Meg Rowley: Dan’s a machine — we’ll slow down a little with playoff stuff, but he does a very good job with it.

2:44
Guest: Do you play fantasy football?

2:44
Meg Rowley: Not anymore.

2:45
Dave: Which of the Cards/Cubs/Brewers/Nats do you think has the best chance to take down the Dodgers and Braves?

2:45
Meg Rowley: Nats, though I don’t expect that they will.

2:47
Sunny: In your opinion, who has been the most valuable A this year – Chapman, Olson or Semien?

2:47
Meg Rowley: Semien, though I continue to delight every single day in Olson’s batting stance yielding the sort of production that it does.

2:48
Stantons: Interesting discussion I had recently. Would you rather be someone like Mike Stanton, Just a Guy but many Ringsss and about 30m, or NotMike Stanton, AS games, HR derby, MVP, no rings, more than 300m, etc? Of course… he may yet get some rings, so maybe I should ask about someone like Votto, but the names are so similar.

2:49
Meg Rowley: I imagine he will get a chance at a ring or two, but Giancarlo. You have a life after baseball. $30 M is nice, but $300 M is nicer.

2:49
Meg Rowley: The rings impact your individual legacy obviously but I think the other stuff tends to matter more.

2:50
narvain: When you see media pumping up some players as good guys do you buy it?  I tend to think we don’t know these people at all and shouldn’t attempt to evaluate their morals.  Plus, I’m of the opinion beat reporters have a certain motivation to talk good about players they cover.

2:52
Meg Rowley: I don’t think the beat writer issue is as pervasive as you do, but yes, it’s an inherently tricky assessment. Heck, their own teammates and coaches are only getting one version of them. There are plenty of abusers who seem like great people at work and end up being monsters. It’s always necessary, sadly, to leave room for unfortunate surprises, but there are players who, as far as we know, are good friends, partners, and community members. As long as we accept new information when some of them prove not to be, I think it is ok to appreciate the good ones.

2:52
Chat Mapman: Why do some former front office guys end up being base coaches (Tim Bogar, Ruben Amaro)? Has to be a weird change for them, no?

2:53
Meg Rowley: I imagine yes, but also, if that’s the way you can stay in the game…

2:53
Concerned fan: Where do you put the Yankees’ chances against the Astros in the AL playoffs?

2:54
Meg Rowley: I expect the Astros to come out of the AL. The Yankees are a good team, but not as good a team, and even with the starters being better and pieces coming back, and what sounds like some fun, tricky bullpen management, I think that Houston team is pretty smothering.

2:55
Stuafoo: Do you still avail yourself of any of the work over at Lookout Landing?

2:56
Meg Rowley: Yup — try to read widely just anyhow, and especially as my focus has necessarily broadened, having a team site’s perspective is interesting, particularly to get a sense of how fans perceive the current regime.

2:57
Mike Trout: Will I ever have more playoff wins than MVPs? I certainly have a much higher chance of the latter this year… Like, at some point we have to win a series, but by then I might have 4 MVPs…

2:57
Meg Rowley: Oh god.

2:57
Nate: Opinions on the NL MVP race? Bellinger continues to struggle compared to his earlier performance, Yelich is out. Does Rendon take the MVP? Do the voters stick with Bellinger? Does Yelich steal the MVP title from the sidelines?

2:57
Meg Rowley: Ketel For MVP.

2:58
Meg Rowley: (it won’t be Ketel)

2:58
Meg Rowley: (but wouldn’t it be neat if it were?)

2:59
Meg Rowley: I think it’ll realistically be Bellinger or Yelich, and I think the games played thing will probably matter, and it’s a smaller gap than between Trout and Bregman.

2:59
Edwin Díaz: Will I get better? Please tell me

2:59
Meg Rowley: Assuming this isn’t an injury thing, seems like you almost have to.

3:00
Ben Dubose: How close do you think Bregman would have to get in WAR to be MVP?

3:00
Meg Rowley: half a win, though I imagine that those most open to his candidacy probably aren’t thinking about it like that

3:00
Meg Rowley: which, I don’t say that to diminish his season — Bregman has been great

3:00
Meg Rowley: Just not as great.

3:01
Meg Rowley: Ok pals, I need to get rolling. Thanks for all the questions, and I’m sorry for what I didn’t get to. Next week, I may not chat, as I’m Fall League bound and will try to pick up some instructional league games during the day, but I’ll post about that on twitter.

3:02
Meg Rowley: Until then, have a good week!

We hoped you liked reading Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/17/19 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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