Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat by Travis Sawchik April 24, 2017 12:01 Travis Sawchik: How you doing? 12:01 Travis Sawchik: We need to talk … about how they screwed up your team’s retro-park 12:01 Travis Sawchik: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-new-generation-of-ballparks-is-push… 12:02 Big Joe Mufferaw: More HR this year. Judge or Bautista? 12:02 Travis Sawchik: Man, it’s looking like Judge and it won’t be close 12:03 Travis Sawchik: Bautista might be wrong about his ability to beat aging models … It’s early, but that K% is troubling 12:03 mtsw: Piggybacking on your stadium article: should teams re-evaluate concession prices? I think everyone understands they can be charged a little more as a captive audience, but when beers are $12 and hot dogs are $10, it feels exploitative and makes going to a game both far more expensive and a bummer. Did teams cross a line on this where they valued profit maximization too highly and degraded the fan experience too much? 12:04 Travis Sawchik: That’s a good question. I’m sure there is a lot that goes into finding a price point … but perhaps there should be different price points in different parts of the park. I don’t think someone sitting in the front row will go to the third deck to save $2 on a beer if they were priced differently 12:05 Evil Goatee Travis: I don’t want to pretend to veil a fantasy baseball question, but would you rather have a guy like Yadier Molina who plays almost every day or take a flier on a guy like Jett Bandy or Austin Hedges who may be in a timeshare? 12:05 Travis Sawchik: I’d rather have Austin Hedges and, at this point, in real life too (if this was really a fantasy question) 12:05 Travis Sawchik: Did anyone notice what Hedge did last week? Looks like he might have learned how to hit last season 12:06 Big Joe Mufferaw: How sexy is Severino’s 32.9% K-BB%? and 0.80 Whip? 12:06 Travis Sawchik: I don’t know about everyone else, but I am into those rates … What’s up with a 4.01 ERA? lol 12:07 Not Dave Kaval: Travis – great piece on stadium architecture. Do you think the Oakland A’s are a good candidate to break the cookie-cutter mold that Camden set in 1991? 12:08 Travis Sawchik: Thanks! There was a comment on that post that suggested the A’s are thinking about breaking the mold with a much more intimate park – obstructed seating! – and wooden bleachers? I have to look into this. Sounds great, if true 12:08 Jack C.: Loved the article on ballpark design. I have not been to many across the country, but I definitely enjoyed Wrigley and Busch do to location. Lots of options around the stadium. I live in Milwaukee and Miller Park is far from anything exciting. The parked a “Fridays” restaurant in the stadium and that’s about it! Would’ve been much cooler if placed downtown – especially with all of the history, breweries, and dining options the city has to offer. I think they missed out big time there. 12:09 Travis Sawchik: I could not agree more, Jack. I always enjoyed visiting Milwaukee as a traveling beat writer. It baffled me that it was not placed downtown. Seems so obvious. … But, hey, you’ve got wall flair at Fridays, right? 12:10 Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: How long until head hunting gets you a long and automatic suspension? Throwing at the head is potentially lethal. And dishonorable mention to the NESN announcers for spending the entire event complaining that the HBP call was wrong and the ball hit the bat. 12:11 Travis Sawchik: Yeah, there’s no place in the game for it and I’m all for tougher penalties… There’s part of me that would love to play Judge Mountain Landis and create some deterrence 12:11 Paul H.: Which of the three underperforming hitters are you most concerned about: Hosmer, Victor Martinez, Roughned Odor. 12:12 Travis Sawchik: Hosmer. I’m not sure he’s a very good baseball player. Neither is my boss: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-leaderboard-of-interest-to-potential-… 12:12 Paul H.: Which of the three underperforming pitchers are you most concerned about: Maeda, Lackey, Shoemaker 12:12 Travis Sawchik: Shoemaker has shown some life. I’m still believing in that second half 12:13 Sterling Mallory Chris Archer: How good can Bundy really be ROS? He shut down the Red Sox his last turn, what can he do against the lesser teams? 12:13 Travis Sawchik: Pretty darn good. He can fit near the top of a rotation. He’s a different guy with the cutter/slider back 12:14 Travis Sawchik: Let Bundy perhaps be a lesson to teams to let pitchers throw their best pitches. We really have no idea what pitch types most stress arms … Henry Ford Hospital study found that fastball usage is actually most connected to TJ 12:15 Ryan: Are better days ahead for Giants starting pitchers? Besides the Bumgarner injury, Moore and Samardjiza have really struggled. What’s going on there? 12:16 Travis Sawchik: Moore and Samadjiza aren’t special even when they’re right. Giants are in some trouble 12:17 Blasphemy: What do we make of Jason Heyward’s strong start? Sustainable? Or blip on the screen? 12:18 Travis Sawchik: The rebuild might have worked … And the Cubs also got Schwarber in a great place for the World Series after missing most of the year. Cubs’ hitting staff might be able to do some major value-add 12:18 Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Loved the piece on ballpark construction. Isn’t there an argument to be made in favor of a more vertical perspective though? I sat in the front row of the top level at New Yankew Stadium and found the views great. Sure, it’s not behind the dugout, but it was $35 for an intra division Yankee game. 12:19 Travis Sawchik: Thank you, handsome. As opposed to horizontal?… I’m not sure. I do know I want to be as close to the field as possible. 12:20 Sam: So how much regression are you expecting from Kyle Hendricks this year. Mike P seems to think that is ability to generate soft contact may be sustainable. What are your thoughts on this and where do you think his end of season ERA may end up around? 12:20 Travis Sawchik: Well, if I knew he was going to throw an 85 mph fastball I would expect a lot! 12:21 Zonk: Leonys Martin…..Pirates and Tigers should be interested, no? 12:21 Travis Sawchik: Absolutely 12:22 Zonk: April is supposed to be early, but late is coming early for TOR and SFG, isn’t it? 12:22 Travis Sawchik: It certainly feels that way. I do believe you can lose a season in April, like losing a top 5 SP to injury 12:22 Thorne: Your take on the whole Machado/Pedroia/unwritten rules situation? 12:23 Travis Sawchik: I think too much was made of Machado’s slide … certainly did not warrant a pitch to the head 12:23 HP: Just read your article about ballparks — great stuff! Just curious, what’re your feelings about Great American Ballpark? Often hear it compared to PNC 12:24 Travis Sawchik: I’m kind of ‘meh’ on GABP. The Riverboat in CF is noticeably contrived. And it has more decks than PNC, and a less dramatic backdrop, that being Kentucky 12:25 Travis Sawchik: (And I am a fan of Convington, Kentucky … but the sister bridges in Pittsburgh are iconic) 12:25 Travis Sawchik: I wish the GABP faced the Roebling Bridge 12:25 Travis Sawchik: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Roebling_Suspension_Bridge 12:26 Travis Sawchik: I stayed in the Convington, KY Marriotts as a beat writer and walked across the bridge to the park. It would be a great backdrop 12:26 David: Just traded Greinke and Cespedes for Verlander and Donaldson. How did I do? 12:26 Travis Sawchik: I think you did well since Greinke appears to have lost a tick that isn’t coming back 12:27 John: Who’s the most likely to hit .300 every year for the next 10 years 12:27 Travis Sawchik: I will take the guy with a 4.2% K rate — Mookie Betts 12:28 Travis Sawchik: Though Altuve is in the conversation, and maybe Francisco Lindor, who has done it 2x and is 23 12:28 Erik: How much do you believe in Eric Thames? What established slugger’s stat line will his most resemble at the end of the year? 12:29 Travis Sawchik: I thought he was going to be a 30HR+ 800 OPS guy …. And he looks like he could top those numbers …So I believe quite a bit. He’s not going to do this all year. But he’ll hit 30+ and OPS better than 800 12:30 Gavin: Over/Under 3.5 teams that weren’t in the playoffs last year that make it this year? 12:31 Travis Sawchik: Under. I still think the division winners are still going to play out largely as expected with a lot of repeat teams….Rockies, though 12:31 Travis Sawchik: That would be fun 12:31 Travis Sawchik: SF and TOR are in trouble …. I think you have the 3.5 betting line pretty close 12:32 Bill: Thoughts on Joey Gallo so far? Results encouraging or about as expected? Realistically, what average does he need to maintain to be an above average hitter? 12:32 Travis Sawchik: 40HRs, and a 12% BB rate will allow him to be an above-average hitter even with the .210 batting average. He needs to play 12:33 Maxamuz: If you can send some good ju-ju to Brandon McCarthy so he can stay healthy and dominate this year – that’d be great. Thanks. 12:33 Travis Sawchik: Done 12:33 Matt: Any chance Judge can take ROY over media-favorite Benintendi? 12:34 Travis Sawchik: A chance? Sure. But Benintendi is still the favorite. I worry less about him going into a prolonged slump 12:34 Zonk: Amen on your stadium article….we said exactly that on Guaranteed Rate. Total missed opportunity. The contrast between that place and Wrigley couldn’t be more stark….. 12:34 Travis Sawchik: It’s amazing how awful New Comiskey is …. I want White Sox Nation to have a new stadium 12:35 GSon: Travis.. as you know, Progressive Field under Mark Shapiro’s stewardship (president) lowered concession prices and found the prices had no effect on attendance.. promotions on weekends and winning made and still make the difference.. 12:36 Travis Sawchik: Cleveland went through a really weird attendance thing …. I’d like to see a larger study of more clubs…. There wasn’t a ton of winning done in that era either 12:36 Hoser: Concessions lineups are very long right now even with the high prices. People eat more crappy food than they used to. 12:37 Travis Sawchik: True, and not true … of all people. We were a Whole 30 house for a month this year. I cheated a little bit but my wife was impressively carb-free for a month 12:38 Stompering Grounds: Not sure how much noise this had made outside of the East Bay, but the new Oakland team prez has dropped beer prices and brought in food trucks to supplement in stadium concession options. These food trucks charge very little markup (got garlic fries for $3!). Are there other examples of these sorts of initiatives across the majors that aren’t getting widespread attention? 12:38 Travis Sawchik: Interesting! How hipster of the A’s 12:38 Dave: Is there any hope for the Pirates this year? S 12:39 Travis Sawchik: It’s looking pretty bleak, but rotation — and SF’s ugliness — gives Pirates a shot 12:39 Colin: I’m curious, does Fangraphs encourage you and other writers to use AP Style? Or is it just each writer does what they’re comfortable with? 12:39 Travis Sawchik: We do have a style guide … but it’s also a blog, so it’s relaxed to a degree 12:40 Question: Do you think teams may push for an extra bench spot so they could have an extra arm or be able to comfortably play a platoon? 12:40 Travis Sawchik: I think all parties except a key one – owners – would be OK with a 26th man 12:40 Lightning: Conforto or Pedersen in OBP league? Both in rather strange situations. Is one bat necessarily better than the other? 12:41 Travis Sawchik: Conforto is the better hitter and at some point he’s going to force his way into everyday at-bats 12:41 Jim: Rank the following young catchers: Gary Sanchez, Wilson Contreras, Austin Hedges. Thanks. 12:41 Travis Sawchik: It’s tighter than most thought entering the season. 12:42 Travis Sawchik: Let’s see if Hedges can keep this up. All three look like quality regulars 12:42 Roman: What is going on with the Velazquez and Nola? Slow starts or something bigger? 12:43 Travis Sawchik: Nola’s swinging strike rate is way up … VV is missing bats … I’m starting Nola in a league, so I ‘m not too worried about him 12:44 HappyFunBall: The stadium discussion is pretty neat, Travis, but I think you glossed over the impact of multimedia game viewing. It’s SO easy to watch baseball these days. People don’t have to go to the ballpark to follow their favorite teams anymore, and there just isn’t the same drive to attend more than a few games in person per season. With that in mind there IS value in making physically attending a game more of a luxury good. 12:44 Travis Sawchik: Well, I did try to touch on the digital/TV experience of the modern era … But it makes having a better ballpark experience more important 12:45 JK: When Duda comes back off the DL, how should the Mets get Conforto regular at bats? Sit Granderson in favor of him? 12:45 Travis Sawchik: Conforto and Cespedes should be be every day OFs and figure the rest out, day-to-day, from there 12:46 CubFan: Bird doesn’t seem to be the word these days. What’s your expectation ROS? Does he get sent down to iron out his mechanics? 12:46 Travis Sawchik: Long term, I like him. Not sure what his short-term future is, but Yankees should give him more time, imo 12:46 Ken M: Is Trey Mancini more valuable than Eric Hosmer? 12:48 Travis Sawchik: Are we factoring Hosmer’s next contract? I wouldn’t want any part of it … unless he can change his batted-ball profile 12:48 Porcho Villa: Thanks for the insightful stadium piece. A comment: the Field at Shea Bridge (or Citi Field, if we must) may be sprawling, but the wide open concourse setup makes taking a walk during the game far more enjoyable and compares favorably to the crosstown alternative, the mausoleum-like new Yankee Stadium. 12:49 Travis Sawchik: Don’t get me wrong — there are a lot of great features in retro-parks and they are clear upgrades to the multi-use cookie cutters …. but the Mets could have done so much better 12:50 Travis Sawchik: And we haven’t even gotten to the outfield fences that have been moved three times already… Give me a retro-Ebbets Field somewhere on Long Island (preferably Brooklyn) 12:50 Max: What do you make of Michael Confortos hot start? Also, check out his batted ball profile–really interesting ! 12:50 Travis Sawchik: Star-level bat 12:51 Dave: Is Mitch Haniger legit? 12:51 Travis Sawchik: There were a lot of believers before the year … looks like he’s a keeper 12:51 Bucky: Which is more real; Bundy’s dominance, or Guasman’s struggles? 12:51 Travis Sawchik: Bundy … at least Bundy being much improved … Not only the cutter but he has the elite spin to pitch up in the zone. 12:52 Dann: Last year on Fangraphs: all Cubs, all the time 12:52 Travis Sawchik: Cubs were quite a story last year, no? 12:55 Cam’ron: Travis, I live in Bridgeport (the neighborhood surrounding where the White Sox play) and whenever I read the words “Armour Park” I feel a pain in my side that reminds me of appendicitis. What a wasted opportunity by my beloved team. That is all. 12:55 Travis Sawchik: http://whitesoxinteractive.com/FixComiskey/Bess/Conversation1.htm 12:55 Travis Sawchik: 🙁 12:55 Travis Sawchik: The good news is the White Sox will eventually play in a new stadium 12:55 Travis Sawchik: I think 12:56 cat: can you please rank conforto, judge, bird, or souza over the next 10 years by likely wOBA? 12:56 Travis Sawchik: Conforto, Judge, Souza, Bird 12:57 Jay: being a longtime White Sox fan…the location of New Comiskey isnt exactly ideal, but the tailgaiting in parking lots, Food in the park, and beer selections, i believe to be second to none. modelo beer cave, Craft beer Bar in the bullpen? What more could you ask for to watch a rebuilding team. I would say MOST sox fans agree with me, that the amenities and experience at the ballpark is great…its the product on the field that lacks. 12:58 Travis Sawchik: I think most stadiums have similar selections these days…you can also drink beer with your friends on a couch/patio …there needs to be more incentive to watch events live and and in person …. New Comiskey’s upper deck would not compel me to travel to the park unless it’s a postseason event 1:00 Pedro Is The Future: Re: Joey Gallo, I doubt that half his hits continue to go for HR. Hard to imagine a guy w/ 37% K rate being successful 1:00 Travis Sawchik: He’s not most guys … 28.9 % HR/FB 0.60 GB/FB for career … He can be a positive contributor batting .200 1:00 Travis Sawchik: And what if he trims 5-7% from K rate? 1:01 cj: sorry haven’t read the article yet, but whats your views on Suntrust? 1:01 Travis Sawchik: An upgrade over Turner … I’m sure it’s a nice place … But it should not be a model to follow (too many decks, built in a generic retail park, etc) 1:02 John: Wacha or Severino ROS? 1:02 Travis Sawchik: Severino 1:03 Josh: A baseball stadium in downtown Milwaukee, as great as that would be, will never happen due to the tailgating culture. It’s an experience that requires huge plots of land for parking lots. 1:03 Travis Sawchik: A baseball stadium surrounded by parking lots is always a bad idea …change the culture. Support a local business before the game 1:03 Relsh: What’s wrong with Danny Salazar? 1:03 Travis Sawchik: Nothing. 2.00 FIP 1:04 Royce: What’s a star level bat? Something like 120 wRC+? 1:04 Travis Sawchik: Low-end of star spectrum perhaps 1:04 Brandon M: I thought Coors Field was in a great neighborhood when I went over the summer 1:05 Travis Sawchik: Not every ballpark has the same issues, Coors is in a cool spot in Denver…. It’s third deck is the problem 1:05 Justin: are the dbacks a dark horse in the west now, and going forward? Or are they just last years white sox? Maybe im crazy but their roster looks pretty decent 1:06 Travis Sawchik: Yeah, they are a darkhorse. I like the Rockies a little more…but NL wild card race should be pretty fascinating 1:06 Paul: I’ve been to a couple Braves games at the new park, and I have to say it is a lot more intimate than Turner Field. Maybe I’m just used to that sprawling 53k seat stadium, but the Upper Deck really feels right on top of the field. And the pre/post-game experience is pretty awesome compared to non-existent at Turner. Sure, it would’ve been better if they’d found a way to do it closer to the city – but downtown Atlanta is not a place many people want to spend much time in the first place. The stadium is only 7 miles from the heart of Buckhead. Just my thoughts. 1:07 Travis Sawchik: To be fair to Atlanta, difficult there to find an ideal site, I imagine 1:10 Alby: Just finished your piece on ballpark design. Fantastic job of illustrating how far from the action upper-deck denizens are these days, and a great read too. Thanks. 1:10 Travis Sawchik: Thanks, man 1:10 Dooduh: Re 26th man debate, to alleviate fear that teams will just add another arm, can just make rule that roster can be no more than half comprised of arms. But suspect that the compromise point is what we’ll see – taxi squads for each game. 1:10 Travis Sawchik: Expanded taxi usage could be a hybrid solution 1:10 Travis Sawchik: The last man in the bullpen will never be able to unpack his bags 1:11 Josh: Is Jose Ramirez the most underrated player in baseball? 1:11 Travis Sawchik: He’s pretty damn good and I’m not sure how many people know that. So he might be 1:11 Thriller: I personally just don’t find any upper deck worth it. The time it takes to drive to the stadium, pay for parking, sit in bad seats, buy concessions, time to drive home. Good seats or bust. 1:12 Travis Sawchik: I totally agree with you. I’d have to have lower-bowl seats to consider attending a regular season game in most parks 1:13 Vance Law: Life-long White Sox fan – once went to a game with my grandfather and cousin at New Comiskey and sat in the upper deck. My grandfather looks around and then said, “Holy crap – the birds are flying beneath us. Even they are too scared to come up here.” 1:13 Travis Sawchik: If you’re in the top of row of some of the new ballparks you are still above the apex of an Aaron Judge home run 1:13 seth: what do you think is Meadows ETA? how do you handle the graceful exit of a superstar like McCutcheon in ‘win-now’ baseball? 1:13 Travis Sawchik: I think the Pirates would like to hold it off until 2018 1:14 Dann: Taxi usage also would incentivize teams to keep around a lot of younger players on minimum contracts so that they have the options necessary to function. I highly doubt the players association would approve any kind of structure that would hurt the bargaining power of fringe veterans looking for a $2m/year deal. 1:14 Travis Sawchik: Perhaps. Though, most teams are trying to pay 25th man the minimum as is 1:14 Guest: Chances Anthony Rizzo accumulates 10 games at the 2b position, making him eligible in some fantasy leagues as a 1b/2b? He has 2 already 1:15 Travis Sawchik: It seems unnecessary to play Rizzo at second base if you’re the Cubs 1:15 Mike: I just want to say as a Royals fan I love our stadium. It’s nowhere near downtown, but a good tailgate is part of the culture due to ample parking. The stadium has character, the prices are reasonable, and Ken Harvey once got hit in the back by a relay throw. 1:16 Travis Sawchik: Everyone loves about the park …but it would be better in the city center. Better to have a healthy relationship between city-and-ballpark than a tailgate culture, imo. 1:16 Padres: Petco seems to be getting better and better as it ages. Also did wonders for the downtown area. Potential model to follow or unicorn? 1:17 Travis Sawchik: I love Petco. It’s a top-three retro there with PNC, AT&T, for me 1:17 kevinthecomic: as i recall, when they were building the new atlanta ballpark, the main rationale for its location was that something like 80% of the team’s customers lived in the ‘burbs — does proximity to the ballpark increase the incentive to visit it? 1:18 Travis Sawchik: That’s true, and you would think so. Atlanta is kind of a sprawling mess so it is tougher to create ideal ballpark situation. Fewer excuses in a place like Chicago 1:18 Ian: Nola to the DL with a back strain. 🙁 1:18 Travis Sawchik: NO! 1:19 Tanner Tenore: SONNY GRAY 1:20 Travis Sawchik: Soon … HE will add to an intriguing staff 1:21 Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, thanks for hanging around and talking ballparks. If you don’t care about ballparks, next week will be different, I promise. Be good and do good.