Meg Rowley Inaugural FanGraphs Chat – 2/15/18 by Meg Rowley February 15, 2018 2:02 Meg Rowley: Hello! Welcome to my first FanGraphs chat. I’ve done a number of these over the years, and am excited to talk with you all. A few words of warning: these won’t be super heavy on fantasy or prospect talk. My fantasy claim to fame is losing consistently and *not* being the person in my league who drafted Mike Zunino in the first round in 2015. With that said, let’s begin! 2:04 BEN GAMEL GRADE 80 HAIR: Will the Mariners add any more SP’s via Free Agency or trade? The group after Paxton, Leake, and Felix (whats left) is not super encouraging for a team going for a Wildcard 2:07 Meg Rowley: Based on everything Dipoto has said, and their refusal to play in a very tepid market so far, I think this is what you’re getting. They really needed Ohtani. Now they really need James Paxton to be healthy and brilliant all year, and for Felix to return to something like form, and for Mike Leake to be good, and I guess for Ariel Miranda to stop giving up so many home runs, and and and. It is not, as you point out, super encouraging. 2:08 John Luther: best OF in baseball? 2:11 Meg Rowley: I was trying to think of a creative answer to this, but you know sometimes we get too cute. I’d say Yankees, Angels, and Red Sox in some order, with the Red Sox probably third. If I were trying to be cute about it, I might point out the Brewers as sneaky really good with lots of depth, though they’re not in quite the same tier as the three I’ve mentioned. 2:11 CamdenWarehouse: Can you describe your feelings about the Mariners Top Prospects (?) list? 2:13 Meg Rowley: Hurt. Confused. We Mariners fans talk a lot about how big a bummer the past has been, and how underwhelming the present can feel, but I think for reasons of self preservation we don’t turn our eyes to the future much. Eric did a nice job demonstrating why. 2:13 Dylan: Any expectations at all from Dan Vogelbach? 2:15 Meg Rowley: I expect him to remain underwhelming unless the in-game power starts to match the raw power. The funny thing about Healy going down is it doesn’t change a ton in terms of what I expect from 1B offensive production for the M’s, which is probably the bigger problem. 2:15 Philip : What is your take on pineapple on pizza? 2:16 Meg Rowley: That people should eat the stuff they like, and not worry about other people liking different stuff because honestly, what does it matter unless it’s a creature facing extinction or another human person. 2:17 Bork: How would you try to sneak into the free agent training camp? 2:19 Meg Rowley: Honestly, I don’t understand the desire to watch free agent camp. It isn’t as if one would show up and watch Jake Arrieta stretching and then remember, huh yeah, good at baseball. 2:19 Helga G Pataki: What do you think about Stroman throwing a fit over losing in Arbitration? 2:21 Meg Rowley: Would we describe that as a fit? This is one of the risks of arbitration. We don’t tend to react well as humans when we find out people appreciate us less than we think they should. He seems disappointed (understandable) and also eager to get back to work (professional). We all have feelings. 2:21 Ash Ketchum: With all the moves to hire young, unseasoned managers who do you think will be the biggest flop? I mean someone with 0% job experience is bound to fail right? 2:25 Meg Rowley: I have no reason to think Dave Martinez will be a flop. I mostly am still surprised when I remember that the Nats fired Dusty Baker. Like, I keep forgetting it is true. That isn’t an answer to your question, so much as me being surprised every time I have to answer the question, “Who is the Nats manager?” to myself. 2:26 Scott: So who caves in first, the front offices or the agents? 2:28 Meg Rowley: Agents, and by extension players. There could well be hold outs, but the stakes are so much higher for players. They have to make money, and the way they do that is playing baseball. At some point fear or stress or impatience will win out. 2:31 Estevao: Chris Archer is a month older than Masahiro Tanaka, 10 months older than MadBum. Think about that 2:31 Meg Rowley: (thinks about it) hmmm 2:32 Morbo: Also, I’m in search of a new Thursday baseball and beer chat, do you like beer? Can we ask you questions about beer? Are your drinking a beer right now? 2:33 Meg Rowley: I do drink beer. I am not currently drinking a beer because it is not even noon in Seattle and also, I am working at my job. You can ask about beer, though I would never pretend to be as knowledgable about beer as Eno was. 2:34 ol’ prospector: Welcome to the community! Who was your first “personal cheeseball” – ie. a player you loved that was not a top flight public opinion player? 2:35 Meg Rowley: The smartest take on this score I’ll ever have was being very high on Kyle Seager very early on. The most stubborn take I’ll ever have on this score is owning three different Mike Zunino jerseys, one of which I had made custom. Make of that what you will. 2:35 weezy: Where do you attribute some of the general public’s stance that billionaire owners selfish behaviors are more acceptable than millionaire player’s selfish behaviors? 2:38 Meg Rowley: As I wrote this week, I think a lot of it has to do with average fans not thinking much about ownership at all, or at least, not differentiating ownership from The Team. As fans we want to watch good, winning baseball. If we don’t see billionaires as part of the ecosystem and we perceive that players are greedy, it sets up the conflict as one between players and the teams that carry our hopes and dreams. That isn’t necessarily fair or accurate, but I think it is a big part of some of the fan reaction we see. 2:40 Billy Beane: It’s insane to think that Kyle Seager might be the worst 3B defender in the Al West. It probably goes Chapman, Beltre, Bregman, Cozart, Seager. And Seager is a deserving Gold Glove recipient. 2:43 Meg Rowley: I might quibble with your rankings a bit– I don’t think it is my fan bias speaking when I say that Seager’s defense is often overlooked and rated much better last year after a down 2016 (ok maybe it is a littttle fan bias) –but you’re right that is very deep defensive position. 2:44 Tugs: So you have gone on record for not being fantasy/prospect heavy. Should questions focus on ML rosters/trades/contracts? Or do you prefer Beer questions? Perhaps you’re a sandwich aficionado? 2:45 Meg Rowley: News! Rosters! Labor and social issues! Baseball weirdness! Sure beer! Sandwiches are kinda boring to me! Puns are cool. 2:45 Moltar: If you had the power to unilaterally change the CBA, how would you go about solving the current FA/player compensation problem? 2:47 Meg Rowley: I’m going to write about this in greater depth at some point here (we’re not burned out on this topic at all, no sir), but I think the biggest and most obvious change needed is to get money to guys earlier in their careers when they are providing the most value. 2:47 Scott: What’s the weirdest stat you can think of off the top of your head? 2:49 Meg Rowley: In 2014, Mike Zunino had the same number of walks as HBP (17). Those 17 HBP led the AL. What a weird player. 2:50 Jack: Tell me your feelings on Luis Gohara. 2:51 Meg Rowley: I think that trade always had the potential to look a bit bad and I’d say congrats to Gohara for making it (at least so far) look realll bad. 2:51 OlRock: As a Mariners fan, which Astro player are you most terrified of this year? 2:51 Meg Rowley: Yes 2:51 Davy: What non-baseball things should we ask questions about? Jeff has hiking and volcanoes. Dan has cats. Eno had beer and sandwiches. Meg’s thing(s)? 2:53 Meg Rowley: I read a great deal, so books? I watch more TV than is probably advisable. I also hike, though not with Jeff’s frequency or proficiency. I’m a political theorist by training, though I will understand if no one wants to ask about that. 2:53 CamdenWarehouse: The Orioles signed a pitcher! Does this mean the world is ending? 2:53 Meg Rowley: Only if he passes the physical. 2:54 Sox Fan: How much will the change in manager screw up the Yankees? 2:55 Meg Rowley: Who knows! Managers seem to matter, but who knows how much and also, the Yankees are pretty good at baseball. It is nice to have a boss you like and it is also possible to do good work even if you don’t like your boss, if it comes to that. 2:55 Scott: If you could change one baseball rule, what would it be? 2:58 Meg Rowley: That you can reach on an uncaught third strike. It is dumb and makes me furious ever single time. 2:59 RD: Meg, as a father of a 1 yr old baby girl how can I foster in her a love for baseball? note my wife hates sports, so I have that going against me. 3:01 Meg Rowley: I think take her to baseball games and see if she likes it. Play baseball with her and see if she likes it. Remind her that she is very free to like it! And keep her away from mascots in the early going. VERY high risk encounter. We all come to baseball in our own way, but I don’t expect the range of answers is wildly different for girls vs. boys. 3:01 Big Joe Mufferaw: I’m having a REALLY bad day. Car window was smashed and they stole my fishing and camping equipment (worth around 1000$). I need a pick me up, please help me! (I am a yankee fan) 3:01 Meg Rowley: You get to watch Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge send the ball to space all the time. Just like, so so so much of the time. 3:02 The Laser Show: Last 2 great books you read? 3:04 Meg Rowley: I finally finished the second GoT book after a long break due to the BP Annual. Zadie Smith’s Swing Time is lovely. The Underground Railroad by Colton Whitehead is amazing but gutting. I’m working my way through The Baseball Trust: A History of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption by Stuart Banner, which I highly recommend given our times. 3:05 Meg Rowley: That is more than two. The offseason is good time for reading. I do worse during the season. 3:05 Davoink Showerhandel: Let’s say the wheels (rudders?) fall off on the M’s. Paxton’s hurt, Cruz finally hits the old guy cliff, other bad things, etc. Do you think the team/ownership will be willing to rebuild? If so, what do they even have to sell? Seager would be hard with Donaldson, Machado also possibly available. Segura? Diaz? This seems like it could get ugly 3:10 Meg Rowley: I think they’d be willing to sell, but it’s not as clear how much good that does. Cruz if he’s good, Paxton if he’s good, though if they’re good (read: not hurt) the team is probably alrightish, and I think they’d be reluctant to part with Pax. I think you’d get something for Seager, though how much and whether it is enough to make fans feel good about it? Eh, who knows? Segura has full no-trade protection. Diaz sure. Other Bullpen Guys. Outside of that, you’re getting into the younger guys like Haniger that they probably want to keep. You know how the Tigers rebuild is going to be long and painful? Yup, same for the M’s. 3:10 Dee Gordon’s Mom: Is Dee Gordon actually going to be a good CF? Last April I loved the M’s OF. Last September, I was sad about the M’s OF. This year…. 3:12 Meg Rowley: He sure is fast. So fast! I think it is very worthwhile experiment, and with Cano aging, I like what it lets them do at second further down the line. Watching Dyson last season after years of bad following Guti’s good stretch sure was nice. It’ll be fun and weird if nothing else. I think we underrate how much better fun and weird makes the viewing experience. 3:13 Dillon: Think the Indians could sneak in and scoop Moustakas on a discount? They already tried to buy a discounted Cain and one more slugger in the middle of that lineup is needed. Move JRAM back to 2nd and Kipnis could help out in the OF. 3:16 Meg Rowley: Without knowing anything specific, I mean, sure anything is possible. Kipnis in the outfield doesn’t seem like a thing you try to do a lot if you can help it. We talk a lot about how having teams not trying to win right now means there are fewer teams out there with incentives to spend, but I’m not sure we talk enough about the chilling effect that could (could! maybe!) be having on winning teams. I think the Twins will be interesting, but incentive do the Indians really have to go get a guy? 3:17 Meg Rowley: Alright, I have to get going. I’m sorry for what I had to leave in the queue, and for disappointing several of you with my pineapple pizza take. Thanks for the questions. Same time next week!