Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat – 7/16/18

12:02
Travis Sawchik: Happy All-Star Break, folks

12:02
Travis Sawchik: And more important, happy Trade Value Series Week

12:03
Travis Sawchik: I know who is ranked No. 1 but I can’t tell you

12:03
Mookie Betts: I have to be one of the favourites/if not the favourite for AL MVP? Right?

12:04
Travis Sawchik: You’re in the discussion but you’re actually behind Trout AND Jose Ramirez in fWAR and Lindor is not far behind you

12:04
Travis Sawchik: The AL MVP race (and Cy Young race) are shaping up to be more interesting than the actual AL postseason races, since they don’t really exist outside of the AL East

12:04
Sandy Ravage: Would a deal for Choo (Tex retains salary), Diekman and Kela make sense for Cleveland? What would Texas be able to get out of a deal like that?

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Choo would make sense … if he wasn’t owed $40 million. If Texas was willing to pick up the majority of those dollars, perhaps Cleveland would be willing to flip a significant prospect. I suspect Cleveland’s focus is on controllable bullpen help

12:06
HappyFunBall: Is it wrong that I’m more excited for the trade value series than I am for anything related to the All Star Game?

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Totally normal. In fact, I’d be concerned if the reverse was true

12:07
Travis Sawchik: My dream is to one day have a trade value ranking, and projected surplus value total, for every player in professional baseball. (Sorry, Kiley)

12:07
Bo: Do you tune in to any of the All Star festivities? I can’t seem to watch the HR Derby for more than a round…

12:10
Travis Sawchik: I’m not as interested in the ASG as I once was, for sure. … I think the format could probably change. US vs. The World would be interesting, I think. This is a topic for another day, perhaps, but I think baseball would benefit from going to more geographic-based alignment and killing interleague play

12:11
Travis Sawchik: With modern cable/digital broadcasts and highlights we see all the stars every night, if we choose to tune in. What would add interest to World Series and All-Star Game is if neither league met during the regular season

12:11
Sleepy: “…the actual AL postseason races, since they don’t really exist outside of the AL East.”

[checks standings]

Uh, Travis, the A’s are 1.5 games closer to the M’s than the Yanks are to the Sox.

12:13
Travis Sawchik: The A’s are making things interesting for second wild card, that’s the other item of interest, for sure. But larger point is we have four AL teams with 98% playoff odds or greater and its July 16. That’s probably not great for baseball interest

12:13
Can’t read good: What are some good competitions to add to HR Derby/ASG festivities to make it more on par with NBA? Pitching to targets? Hitting to targets? Dizzy bat race?

12:13
Travis Sawchik: Spin-rate contest? Perhaps with and without pine tar?

12:14
AT: What does the change in manager mean for underachieving cards hitters?  Particularly Fowler, Wong and Pham.

12:17
Travis Sawchik: I don’t know that it will have much if any impact on overall productive. But I suspect we’ll see better communication and in-game decision making and planning in StL

12:17
Scott: Why isn’t cracking down on pine tar included as a way to increase offense? It wouldn’t need any input from the players (I think).

12:17
Travis Sawchik: I think it would be really difficult to enforce

12:18
Travis Sawchik: Can you red flag spin-rate gainers?

12:18
E: I don’t even know how my Dad would react if he turned on the TV and there a was spin-rate contest going on

12:18
Travis Sawchik: It would be good theatre, I promise

12:19
Travis Sawchik: More seriously, I’d actually like to see the Futures Game moved to Monday. It think it gets lost a bit on Sunday with regular game action going on

12:19
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: #1 has to be Ohtani, right? I cannot fathom how any player could be more valuable given talent and control, even with the injury issue.

12:20
Travis Sawchik: I am forbidden to reveal rankings. Stay tuned!

12:20
brood550: What would a hypothetical Cubs trade to get Degrom look like?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Having Gleyber and/or Eloy in the system would have helped entertain such a hypothetical

12:21
Dan: Is there one deal out there that lets the Yankees catch the Red Sox in the east?  Does Machado/Moustakas move the needle?  Their need is starting pitching but idk about any of the guys being thrown around ie Happ, Hamels

12:22
Travis Sawchik: We have the Yankees finishing four games back of the Red Sox, and only seven players added in the last five years have produced 2+WAR in the second half for their new clubs after the deadline … so probably not one deal

12:24
Travis Sawchik: But a lot can happen. An ace, would help the cause, of course. But so would  Sanchez going on a tear, Bird staying healthy. There are some internal upside options for Yankees in the second half

12:24
Jorge: I guess for the next 4 days, I can finally focus on work!!

12:25
Travis Sawchik: Expect praise from your supervisor in the coming days. The danger is you’re going to raise productivity expectations during the ASG

12:26
Jorge: Who cares about the A’s or the M’s, they’re 1 and done if you consider the wildcard a playoff game

12:27
Travis Sawchik: While any postseason chase is interesting, we haven’t seen teams willing to make huge bets on the Wild Card in the two Wild Card era

12:27
Travis Sawchik: And for good reason as it’s a coin flip

12:29
Desperate, Confused Marlins Fan: are you trading Andujar and Sheffield for Degrom?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: For 2-plus year of control of a legit ace, that’s a reasonable start, I think

12:30
Rocco: If the current ownership construct remains in tact, it seems the Mets either have to burn the team to the ground and trade all chips OR significantly increase their budget — correct?   Any other move would be a half measure

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I think the Mets are at a fork in the road and they have to choose one of those paths

12:31
Raymond: WAR/600: Lindor – 7.2, Trout – 9.25, Ramirez – 9.31, Betts – 10.65. I know WAR/PA isn’t something typically analyzed in the MVP race, but considering that Betts is also very close in total WAR as well, I think it should be considered.

12:32
Travis Sawchik: Per plate appearances, Betts has been the best hitter/player in the AL, for sure. But in an MVP race, staying on the field matters, too

12:32
Rockie Dangerfield: According to the Denver Post, Trevor Story sought out his high school hitting coach to fix his swing last winter.  Which begs the question, why haven’t the Rockies fired their useless hitting coach yet?

12:34
Travis Sawchik: I don’t know enough about Rockies’ hitting instruction to comment on the efficacy of the approach and teaching … But I do know, more and more ML hitting coaches are seeing their hitters work with outside voices

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Could the overall level of ML coaching be better? Yeah, I think so. But it’s also unfair to expect one coach to be the perfect voice and instructor for every player on a roster

12:35
Travis Sawchik: So teams need to be open-minded about this

12:35
Travis Sawchik: If Justin Turner only listened to coaches employed by his ML clubs, for instance, he never becomes Justin Turner the Star

12:35
LegalEagle: Why are the Nationals still part of the conversation about playoff contenders? Not to be a Negative Nancy, but they have a mountain to climb to get into the playoffs…

12:36
Travis Sawchik: They are in real trouble, yes. But I think the climb is doable, though perhaps not likely

12:37
Curious Minds: What topic/player do you get asked about most incessantly – so for the last 30 day?  Machado trade?  Soto?  Vlad?  Something else?  Or is it always Mike Trout?

12:38
Travis Sawchik: Probably Machado and Trout if I was searched for most common names

12:38
Travis Sawchik: What about Scooter Gennett folks? 138 wRC+ … 3.3 WAR. Scooter is legit and under control through 2019

12:40
Brett: Who cares about the M’s or A’s?  The A’s have played very well against Boston, New York, and Cleveland this season.  And they just took 3 of 4 from the Astros in Houston.  They wouldn’t be favored, but the A’s could definitely beat Sale or Severino.

12:41
Travis Sawchik: It’s tough to get too excited about a team’s October hopes when facing a one game play-in just to get in … but the Yankees did almost get to the WS last year through the Play-In so it can happen

12:43
Bo: What will hurt Bryce Harper’s offseason contract discussions more, his poor 2018 or his consistent inability to stay healthy?

12:43
Travis Sawchik: We know what peak Harper looks like, but, yeah, there’s more and more reason not to guarantee him $400 million plus

12:44
Travis Sawchik: That’s going to be fascinating negotiation if he doesn’t have a big second half

12:44
Josh: Just FYI, I have read that hitters are totally fine with the pine tar because they don’t want the pitchers unable to control 98 mph pitches on a regular basis

12:44
Travis Sawchik: Some hitters do believe that. That answer is to just make it legal

12:44
Bo: Forget about the Nats’ road ahead, is there reason to believe they’re going to be any better in the second half? Maybe Harper will improve, but they’ve gotten what they need out of their pitching staff.

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Harper regression to the mean, Strasburg returns, Murphy regains timing …. I think the Nats are going to be better in second half but they have a hole to climb out of

12:45
All Cats Are Beautiful : Which Fangraphs writer (yourself excluded) is objectively the handsomest?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Jeff Sullivan without a doubt

12:46
Moltar: Yeah, I was dismayed to come home sunday afternoon and find out I had missed nearly all of the Futures game. Why not have it on one of the two baseball-free days after the ASG?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, it’s a cool event and it deserves a primetime weekday time slot

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Honestly, I’d rather watch the Futures Game than the ASG

12:47
Jason N: Do you think AJ Preller’s reputation/behavior affects his ability to sell of Ross, Hand, Yates, etc. this month?  This is the 2nd year in the row with reports about the Red Sox needing a back-of-the-bullpen guy but almost zero buzz about Brad Hand.  Is this because of the Pomerantz thing?  Have you heard any buzz about other clubs that don’t want to work with Preller?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think it has much or any impact. I think the issue last year was Preller wouldn’t budge on his high ask for Hand. And this year, he has more relief assets to sell  in Yates and Cimber in addition to Hand

12:49
Mac: Where do you see deGrom playing after the trade deadline?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Mets

12:50
Luke: In addition to your response on the story question about hitting coaches, I’d imagine this is a tough aspect to evaluate. There’s so much that goes into hitting. I think the best approach for teams would be to be more open with players and hitting coaches at different levels

12:50
Travis Sawchik: I agree that more openness is better and there can no longer be one-size-fits-all team hitting philosophies or approaches

12:51
Moltar: Is there any sense that the Mets would be willing to hire a true President of Operations to oversee the team? Somebody like a Dombrowski or Friedman. While ownership in Queens has been poor, the biggest problem seems to be the judgement of their current COO, Jeff Wilpon. The organization needs accountability from the top down.

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Good question, I have no idea if that’s on the table

12:52
Ichiro for CEO: If you were Bryce Harper, given the down year he’s having, would you be willing to take a 1+1 deal with a player option to give yourself a chance at another “contract year”? Or does Boras not settle for less than a long-term deal?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Trevor Bauer has publicly said he’s going to bet on himself on one-year deals. It makes even more sense for a position playe r

12:53
Travis Sawchik: If Harper wants to maximize potential earnings he ought to go to shorter-term contracts

12:54
April: Why don’t teams play 5-6 game series during the regular season instead of 3-4? It would dramatically reduce travel, and let teams see each SP for the other team in a series.

12:54
Travis Sawchik: BECAUSE THAT’S THE WAY IT’S ALWAYS BEEN DONE

12:55
Travis Sawchik: A five-game series might complicate schedule road travel and balancing schedules

12:56
Travis Sawchik: But it would certainly be more fair to have to face an entire rotation each series

12:56
Brett: Billy Beane is at his best when he’s buying at a deadline.  Who would be his craziest realistic acquisition before July 31?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: deGrom

12:56
LegalEagle: Would you support/reject MLB expanding its playoff field to mirror the NFL – 6 teams total, top 2 get byes. The 4 teams in the “Wild Card Series” would get to play a 5 game series and give each fan base a taste of playoff baseball at home.

12:57
Travis Sawchik: Once MLB goes to 32 teams, I suspect we’ll have something similar

12:57
leefoo: Do the Bucs become sellers now? Or do they wait to see after their jaunt thru Ohio commencing Friday? Besides, what can they realistically get for ANY of their players, other than salary relief, right?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Hi Lee! The Pirates are effectively out of it with 7.1% playoff odds. I don’t know that they have a ton of meaningful assets to sell. Cervelli if he’s healthy? They control a lot of their roster but is the core good enough  going forward to contend? I think there’s a case for a deeper rebuild and spinning off players controlled for multiple years

1:00
Justin: If you are the Yankees, and what seems likely occurs (win about 100 games, but second place), that is a giant improvement from 91 wins last year, but considering how last October went, do you consider it a step back if they don’t go as far? Or do you relax and consider they are likely to stay good for a bit here?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Yankees can still with the division. If they win 100 games and finish second, I think you still have to be pleased with the process and the amount of young talent that’s under control with coming payroll flexibility

1:01
stever20: I don’t see how you could have a 5 game wild card series with 2 byes.  Top 2 teams with a week off would be at a huge disadvantage quite frankly.  Just don’t think byes work.

1:01
Travis Sawchik: I’m all for a best-of-three with a doubleheader or the KBO-style best of two format

1:01
Ryan: Boston has concluded the cupcake portion of their schedule and still has two series with the Indians, one with Houston, while the Yankees have finished playing both.

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Valid point

1:02
Bo: How much input does a GM have regarding in-game decisions? Surely AA can’t be thrilled to see Snit continue to bat Inciarte and his 79 wRC+ leadoff.

1:03
Travis Sawchik: There’s a lot of communication before and after games but in game it’s the manager’s show.

1:03
Matt : Do Cubs rub risk of flushing a good opportunity down the toilet if they don’t make an aggressive SP acquisition- given Darvish medical uncertainty?

1:04
Travis Sawchik: Cubs have been super aggressive in adding quality SP the last several years. I guess you could argue their targets, but they haven’t undervalued the role

1:04
stever20: Do you think Chris Sale figures out the 2nd half this season?

1:04
Travis Sawchik: He’s been on a tear. The AL Cy Young race is going to be great. Bauer a 5-win pitcher at the break

1:05
TB: Any guess as to how long Choo’s on-base streak will go for?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: It will end only when the Sun grows to red giant status and engulfs the inner solar system

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Joe Buck will be on the call

1:06
TB: The Angels are a frustratingly decent team. Do you think at this point they should make moves to win in the next few seasons or set their sights on rebuilding? And if you think they should start rebuilding do you think that means dealing Trout?

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Angels are close but I’d turn an eye to 2019 and beyond

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, my 3-year-old has asked that I stop chatting so I will oblige

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Enjoy the ASG break. Let’s reconvene next Monday. Until then, be good and do good





A Cleveland native, FanGraphs writer Travis Sawchik is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Big Data Baseball. He also contributes to The Athletic Cleveland, and has written for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Sawchik.

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Leemember
4 years ago

Good stuff as always, Travis! And, as usual I agree with your reply to me. It is scary tho to see someone as young as you agreeing with this old guy…..:)