Stick to baseball, 9/24/16.

I named Houston’s Alex Bregman as our 2016 Prospect of the Year, and listed a bunch of other worthy candidates and the 2016 draftees who had the top debuts as well, all for Insiders. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the cute, fast-playing game New Bedford, where players build the town and send ships out on whaling expeditions to rack up points. I really loved everything about that game – it looks great, the play is simple, Within that review is a paragraph on its two-player spinoff, Nantucket.

You can pre-order my book, Smart Baseball, on amazon already; it’s due out in April. Also, sign up for my email newsletter to stay up to date on all the stuff I write in various places.

And now, the links…

Way Station.

Clifford Simak’s Way Station was an early Hugo winner, a mixture of the soft science fiction with some more technical details than most of its contemporaries would include, but still focusing primarily on the core story and grand themes of cultural and racial understanding. It probably felt more progressive at the time that Simak published it, and today appears a product of its era (published in 1963) even if some of its themes of tolerance are timeless.

Way Station‘s protagonist is Enoch Wallace, a Civil War veteran who now operates an interstellar way station in the backwoods of Wisconsin, where alien races from across the galaxy pass through en route to other destinations outside of our solar system. Wallace is the only human aware of these other races’ existence, and he does not age while he’s inside the station, so he’s well over 100 years old at the time of the story even though he appears to be about 30. While this has elicited some gossip from his few neighbors, he’s reclusive and far enough away from any kind of town that he’s been able to exist merely on the fringes of civilization, instead spending much of his time reading science journals and occasionally communing with some of the aliens who pass through his station.

That alone would likely have made for a solid novel, a sort of slice of galactic life where Wallace meets a cast of eccentrics and tells a few tall tales to keep the neighbors from denouncing him as some spawn of Satan and burning down his house. (As it turns out, they couldn’t do so if they tried.) Simak instead creates a pair of crises – one from the human world, one from the alien – while also exploring what Wallace has had to give up to take on this life and responsibility, including the entirely fictional friends he’s created using a software tool given him by one of the travelers. (Apparently, when passing through an interstellar way station, it’s polite to bring a gift.) The world is teetering on the brink of catastrophic war in this novel as it was in Simak’s life, while the treaty that holds the galaxy’s various races in peaceful coexistence is also on the verge of breaking down, and one reason is something that happened on earth that Wallace finds himself forced to try to fix.

The narrative jumps around a bit, especially early in the book, which made it a slow title to grab my attention; it starts with a government agent, presumably CIA, who’s caught wind of Wallace’s strange existence and wants to investigate it further, whatever it might mean. Simak then shifts perspective to Wallace’s present and some of his past, mixing accounts of his quotidian duties as station manager with flashbacks to how he got the gig in the first place. These threads come together by mid-book as Simak crafts the twin-crisis plot that drives the finish – with one of the most obvious plot twists you’ll ever see – which ties up all of the various strands with a bit more hope for the future of our species than I can usually muster.

I think Simak was going for some pretty grand themes here, from racial tolerance to man’s alienation from the world, but gets a little sidetracked by some of the details, including the imaginary friends Wallace cooks up with the help of one of the gifts he’s received. The strongest part wasn’t the big stuff, but Wallace’s friendship with Ulysses, the alien who first appeared to Wallace and offered him the post as station master, a bridging of an impossible gap made possible through small gestures and handfuls of words. I found that kind of hope, that any two individuals can find some common ground or kinship, much easier to believe.

Next up: I’m nearly through Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz’s TV: The Book, where they incorrectly rank the top 100 shows in TV history.

Klawchat, 9/22/16.

You can pre-order my book, Smart Baseball on amazon already; it’s due out in April. Also, sign up for my email newsletter to stay up to date on all the stuff I write in various places.

Klaw: What do we have for entertainment? Klawchat.

Chris: Terry Collins brought in Smoker for Reed in 8th last night to face Freeman. He rationalized it postgame saying that Freeman is 2-4 career off Reed. Also, Smoker did induce weak contact. That said, when a manager quotes a SSS of 4 ABs to back up a decision, shouldn’t he immediately be fired? The game has passed him by.
Klaw: I saw a lot of howling about the decision last night when it happened, but I don’t have any problem with bringing in a lefty to face Freeman. That part is fine. The logic afterwards, well, it’s a stretch to call it logic because only a fucking idiot thinks four at bats is a meaningful sample.

Chris: Can Conforto play RF long-term? I think CF is a definitely “Hell No” and 1B is also pretty much off the table, but knowing Cespedes will probably only want to play LF, it seems RF would the one spot to get Conforto in lineup regularly.
Klaw: I think he can play right or left, but agree CF is a no go.

BB: It was a while ago this guy was a prospect, but do you have any thoughts about Mike Montgomery re-joining the Cubs/an MLB rotation moving forward? Or do you think he’s better suited as a BP arm?
Klaw: Never had the command or breaking ball to last as a starter. Certainly had plenty of opportunities.

Jake: What’s the ceiling for Jharel Cotton? Middle of the rotation guy?
Klaw: Probably less. I guess if you’re talking top 5% type of outcome, then okay, I’ll say middle of the rotation guy, but it’s not likely.

Father Tim: My son is 5 months old now and we’ve started to introduce some solids mixed with breast milk. Did you make your own baby food or use “safe” store bought brands like Nature’s Choice?
Klaw: Never made our own. Great idea. Too much work.

Ceej: Some think Moncada will play a ton next year because Shaw and company aren’t that good and others think he’ll spend most of the year in the minors. Which side are you on?
Klaw: Minors. Swing and miss is a legit issue here.

bobby: It’s barely possible that Gary Sanchez won’t be the best catcher in the history of the game. If that is the case, what do you foresee for him? Annual All Star? Occasional All Star? Solid performer? Kevin Maas? Thanks for the great work…
Klaw: The Kevin Maas comps are unfair (I know you’re not making one) because Sanchez has been better AND has actual value beyond the power AND there was a little more cause for optimism on Sanchez coming out of the minors. I think he’s a frequent All-Star, and could have an MVP type season or two, because he’s a catcher who will probably hit like a good first baseman.

bobby: The Yankees did a good job of rebuilding their farm system with some impact trades at the deadline. Clearly they need pitching to compete. If you were Cashman, would you deal from your prospects for a frontline starter, sign a Rich Hill, or wait a year and hope a Sheffield or Kaprielian works out and if not sign someone after 2017? Thanks, as always, for your great work.
Klaw: Probably would wait a year and see how some of the arms in the system fare next year, since several were hurt all or part of this year.

buck farmer: who would you pick for AL Cy Young?
Klaw: Kluber or Sale.

Jeff: Have you met Vin Scully? Any good stories?
Klaw: Once. He was a delight. Every bit as nice as he appears to be.

Anthony: I expect you to be flooded with this question. But what the are chances Sanchez can win RoY?
Klaw: I think pretty good, because he’s one of the 2-3 best candidates on performance and has a strong narrative behind him. Plus voters can be like sheep – one guy floats some stupid idea, like Cespedes for NL MVP last year, and next thing you know a lot of voters are baaaing along with it. Also it helps Sanchez that there’s a historical bias against pitchers winning ROY and the next-best candidate, Fulmer, is a pitcher.

Bradley: As someone who teaches high school Econ in a district that requires it for graduation, I appreciate your support of more kids taking the class. Would you be on board with all states requiring at least an intro class to graduate?
Klaw: Absolutely. I think it’s more essential than art or music, which I had to take in HS as well, or shop classes, which I had to take in junior high.

Fuzzy Dunlop: I’m already planning on getting the v60 pourover that you recommended the other day. What about a good grinder? I don’t like the one I have now, can you recommend one?
Klaw: I have a Baratza Virtuoso. It was recommended by my friend at Intelligentsia and it’s been great, as was the customer service when the first one I got proved defective.

Mike K: Any thoughts on Tommy Joseph? Is he a viable starter at first base moving forward?
Klaw: I don’t think so, but I don’t have a problem with them giving him half a season there to start 2017 and see while Hoskins goes to AAA.

Jeff: This is a bit of an odd question where your answers will probably more of an educated guess than it is a concrete answer, but you seem like the guy to ask it to! When you look at some of the MLBs official rules, rookie eligibility being a good example, why is it that at bats is the benchmark for determining status and not plate appearances? As a whole, it just seems like the MLB, at least in an official capacity, highly favors using it over plate appearances. I’ve always been a bit befuddled by that.
Klaw: PA matter for batting average title determination. It’s probably a function of convenience – at bats are listed everywhere, PA are not.

Dan: Adam Frazier appears to have an excellent hit tool, but with zero power. Any chance he can stick at an everyday player or is his ceiling a solid utility guy, if that?
Klaw: Utility guy for me.

Darren: Teabow hit an instructional league batting practice home run! I can’t wait to hear his speech at Cooperstown.
Klaw: Better get me a bucket, I’m gonna throw up.

Brett: Jason McCleod seems like the perfect candidate for the Twins job. Do you think he’s as interested as they are?
Klaw: He interviewed, so I can only assume so. I’ve touted him a bit here and on ESPN over the last few years because I think he blends scouting, player development, and analytical understanding in a way that would allow him to run a modern organization. Hiring strictly analytics guys to be GMs isn’t any better than hiring strictly scouting types, or than hiring a mediocre agent who’s never held a meaningful front office job in his life to be GM.

Clay: Do you think the Twins need to reset the rebuilding process after they hire a new GM, or are the pieces there that they could trade for some pitching?
Klaw: I think they need to focus on developing pitching for a change, and finding out why some decent pitching prospects they’ve had in the minors haven’t worked out as starters.

Dana: What’s Michael Pineda’s deal? Obviously, he has swing and miss stuff, yet the results are lacking.
Klaw: I think it’s a fairly hittable fastball when he misses his spots, which is often.

Reeve: Would Hunter Greene be your choice for #1 pick as of right now? What are some other names with #1 potential?
Klaw: No, he wouldn’t be 1 over Jeren Kendall. Kyle Wright is a possibility for 1, as is Alex Faedo. I think our top 30 is due to go up next week?

Rube Waddell: Does Trea Turner’s production fall off next year or can he keep up his all star level of performance?
Klaw: There’s no way he maintains this level of production. He’d be Honus Wagner if he did.

Missing Macphail: Keith, what do you do if you are Baltimore? You have three-fifths of a rotation and a solid bullpen, an offense built around inconsistent power with poor OBP and little speed, two very good players in Schoop and Machado, a great manager but a farm system that’s been gutted by short sighted trades? Weiters and Trumbo are probably gone after the season as well. Would it be better to blow it up and start over? I’m not sure how you could do so when the only parts other teams would want are the players you would like to build around. What’s your take?
Klaw: I don’t think Buck would have any patience for a rebuild, and what Buck says goes, so that’s the end of that conversation. I think the situation’s worse than you say – they have 2/5 of a rotation and whatever becomes of Bundy, who hasn’t been very good since they stretched him out and is a shell of what he was in high school. So they have to find two more starters on the market unless they can salvage something from Gallardo or Ubaldo, and they don’t have a ton to trade from full-season ball. It’s a serious challenge in and of itself, made worse by the constraints of the organization.

Jack: Is Franklyn Kilome a potential number 2? or backend?
Klaw: As with Cotton, if you’re talking absolute best-case scenario, #2 is reasonable. If you’re talking realistic ceiling, then it’s lower than that, with high probability that he’s a very good reliever.

Rube Waddell: Marcus Semien — Can he get better on both sides of the ball in 2017?
Klaw: No. I think this is it. I’m even surprised he’s gotten to this point.

Gordon Lightfoot: In 200 plate appearances since the beginning of August, McCutchen has put up a line of .288/.388/.494. Is it safe to say that the Cutch we saw pre trade deadline was driven more by things like health and not as much natural decline?
Klaw: It’s a small sample there, but I have said all year I thought it was health more than age. He’s a little young to be in that kind of age-related decline already.

Daniel: What can you tell us about Shohei Otani? Where/when will he play in mlb?
Klaw: He’s a pitcher, no matter what HR highlights you saw. I don’t think there’s any debate over this. As for when, I bet he comes over after 2017.

Mike: I know you were down on Yulieski Gurriel based on seeing him years ago. Granted it’s a sss but from what you’ve seen so far are you surprised by his performance?
Klaw: Remember that when I saw him he was also out of shape. It’s not fair to judge him on that look and that’s why I never really put it out there when the Astros signed him.

Mike: You can bash Jill Stein on Twitter all you want, but I find both Trump and Clinton to be deplorable with absolutely no honor and integrity. As a result, I will not cast my vote for either of them despite the fact I’ve always voted Democrat. Now, here’s a question for you – why should I vote Democrat after the DNC leak proved beyond a reason of doubt that the DNC leadership did everything it could to help Clinton win the primary and even aggressively targeted Sanders in a negative way? Why should I bow down to the establishment that cheated and proved it didn’t care what the voters actually wanted?
Klaw: Because this is a binary election. If you don’t vote for Clinton, you are effectively voting for Trump. You can convince yourself otherwise all you want, but if you wake up on November 9th and the President-elect is a dog-whistling white supremacist, then it’s on you and every other potential Clinton voter who decided this was the year to hold your breath until you get what you want.

Jaysfan: Donaldson has to be injured, if you had that information would you share it?
Klaw: He had an MRI on his hip a week ago. That’s not secret.

Casey: What is the ceiling for Magneuris Sierra? I assume with the lack of power he has to be able to stay in center in order to be an average regular?
Klaw: Yes but everything I’ve heard says he stays in CF.

Rick: Keith, In addition to the great work you do on baseball, I really like the insight you provide on other important issues. I have no question for you, just a thank you.
Klaw: You’re welcome, and thank you for reading them. I don’t pretend to have lots of answers but I do like to talk about these issues as part of the learning process.

Joe D: Keith, how can the public have faith in scientific studies when articles like the one you linked to last week show that results can be bought? On the advice of a former statistics professor, when I hear or read that a study was performed I always try to find out who paid for it.
Klaw: Those results were bought in 1965. The level of scrutiny today is much higher, and the opportunities for other researchers to replicate (or fail to replicate) results are greater.

Avi: Taillon has looked a little shaky recently. I sort of sense it might be fatigue for a guy who’s thrown 150+ innings that had not pitched since 2013. Thoughts? If the Pirates weren’t hanging on to WC hopes by a thread I would prefer to have him shutdown.
Klaw: I think that’s a reasonable position on all fronts. I don’t know if he’s feeling fatigue, but that’s a lot of innings for a guy who as you said basically missed two years.

Oren: Gregory Polanco has struggled a bit with breaking stuff this year and its clearly one of the last adjustments he needs to make. How confident do you feel that he can make those adjustments? He’s always struck me as a guy who takes a little longer than most to make them, but he gets there.
Klaw: I think that’s very fair. I believe he can make those adjustments because 1) he’s never been a hacker or somehow hopeless on offspeed stuff and 2) as you’ve said we’ve seen him make other adjustments before. The guys who scare me are the ones who’ve never hit breaking stuff at any level, or the ones who just don’t make adjustments well. I’ve never been a Grichuk guy because he’s struggled with breaking stuff since high school.

William Bradley: Can Hunter Renfroe hold down a MLB job next year, or was he simply out-performing this year in a hitter friendly league as an older player? Also, what are your projections next year for Tommy Joseph?
Klaw: Very hitter-friendly league and poor K/BB rates too, for a guy who already had swing and miss concerns and doesn’t recognize breaking stuff that well either.

Tim: I keep hearing that baseball needs to appeal to a younger audience. Do you buy this? I’ll be honest: the argument seems fallacious on its face, so I’ve never bothered to read further. Am I making a grave error?
Klaw: No, I don’t buy it.

Rob: You were a little hard on the Reds for the return they got for Todd Frazier but that Schebler and Peraza boy turned out to have nice seasons and are young. Have your thoughts evolved at all on that trade?
Klaw: No, it remains a huge loss of value for them. Schebler’s been replacement level for them, and he’s 25. Peraza didn’t hit well in AAA, hasn’t walked or shown any power in the majors, but at least the Reds have given him some reps at shortstop which would give him a substantial boost to his value. Still they could have done so much better for Frazier than they did.

Pete: Jordan Luplow and Connor Joe had solid 2nd halves in the FSL. Do you see either as future major leaguers?
Klaw: Not of any consequence, although I expect both to get to the majors.

sam: Hey, Keith… since you’ve stated in the past that your concept of the rookie-of-the-year vote is to vote for whom you thought would have the best career (I remember when you thought Matusz was the best choice one year), would you vote for Sanchez or Fullmer this year?
Klaw: That’s overstating it a bit – I think that this should be a factor, since we’re typically looking at very unequal opportunities (playing time) when comparing ROY candidates. If I had a vote today, I’d probably give it to Sanchez, although Fulmer is worthy and if you wanted to put him first I wouldn’t disagree.

JC: I’ve been concerned all year about the way the Braves have used Aaron Blair. He has been up and and down 4 times and pitched poorly until his last ML start. Should the way the Braves have used him have long term effects?
Klaw: His fastball’s been off a bit and given that I was hoping he’d get a stint in relief to get some confidence back and also maybe let him regain some strength.

Bob: Good afternoon, Keith. I have read up on how WAR is calculated but one thing escapes me. Are park effects factored in? If not, then is that something that the evaluator has to do to interpret the data?
Klaw: Yes, all versions of WAR I know, including the ones teams use internally, include a park adjustment.

Morris: On Twitter I notice you frequently get labeled as a liberal. But when you tear Jill Stein a new one or defend Ronald Reagan’s presidency or rip some naturopaths on vaccine science I don’t see complaints about how conservative you are. I guess that’s not a question.
Klaw: People who call me or anyone else a “liberal” as a sort of insult don’t seem to know what the word means. I am more of a classical liberal than a modern liberal, but you’re not going to see that distinction on social media.

Casey: What is the best way to cook asparagus without having a grill?
Klaw: Roast at 500 degrees about ten minutes. Just toss with a little olive oil and salt beforehand.

Carly Simon: Tebow, Tebow, Tebow… seriously though…. I keep reading Tebow would have been a “high” pick coming out of HS yet I don’t recall ever hearing his name pre-draft. Do you have any recollection/opinion of his status as a 17-18 year old player? Is this just more Tebow hype or was he a legit “top 10 round” HS prospect?
Klaw: You don’t recall that because this is utter bullshit, and you should call out any reporter who claims it. He didn’t even play his senior year of HS.

Justin: Your obligatory, stick to baseball question. As an economist, what do you think we should do with interest rates?
Klaw: I wish I had even a reasonable answer to that (and I’m not an economist).

JC: First, second, short ,LF and CF seem set for the Braves. What positions would you focus on improving during the offseason?
Klaw: They need power bats, somewhere.

J: Totally agree with Sabbath as top 5 most important/influential band of all time. Other 4? I’m thinking Stooges, Velvet Underground, Ramones. Beatles. Not best of course but influential
Klaw: Clash would be one of my five, along with the Beatles, of course. I feel like Zeppelin, even though they’re not that critically adored, influenced two generations of rock musicians. This is one question where popularity may matter more than artistic merit (and I like Zeppelin quite a bit). So VU may get the critical nod, but they were and are far enough outside the mainstream that I’d probably exclude them.

BB: Cubs are still short on upper level minors SP’ing. Trevor Clifton had a nice year in high-A. He someone that has MOR kind of potential?
Klaw: Yep, he’s taken a nice step forward. There’s pitching in their system but not top-end pitching.

Frank: What would Atlanta have to surrender from the farm to acquire Chris Archer?
Klaw: Why would they want to do that? Pitching they’ve got.

Andy: You have NL ROY right? Do you wish that you could vote in an award that’s likely to be closer? Or is it just an honor to vote?
Klaw: Yes, and yes it would be nice to have a tougher decision – I think 1-2 are pretty obvious – but it is an honor and a responsibility to vote, and I will not complain about it.

Ian: Allard looked great this year after he came back from the back injury/rehab. Assuming the back issues are behind him, is he the best pitching prospect in the Braves system and most likely to reach their ceiling? Think he starts at A+ next year, or repeat at Rome? Really excited to watch the progress of that rotation at Rome. Thanks!
Klaw: I had him as their top pitching prospect prior to the season, I think, and I’d stick with that. I wish he was more physical, but he’s loose and athletic and I think he’ll be fine even without the size.

Tom: Do you think Patrick Corbin’s struggles this year (although he’s done better in the bullpen recently) stem from his recovery from TJ surgery? Do you think he’s a good candidate for a rebound next season after he’s fully healthy?
Klaw: Remember when I suggested last December that they put Corbin in the bullpen for part of 2016, and got pilloried for it? Or how TweedleDave said they were expecting a full season out of Corbin as a starter this year? That all worked out well. And by the way, yes, I am expecting/hoping for a rebound; he’s very athletic and had two legit weapons when healthy.

Pat D: Nice to see you, Mr. Creosote. Where would you start Rutherford next season? I think it has to be Charleston, but is that possibly pushing it?
Klaw: Charleston. He’ll turn 20 in May, so he has to start in low-A IMO. The goal should be Trenton by end of 2018. I think he’s got enough hit tool right now to do it.

JR: Do you think Gsellman and Lugo are legitimate MLB SPs going forward, or are they both having nice SSS stretches against mostly weaker competition? If so, would the Mets be smart to look to sell high this offseason and look to trade either or both?
Klaw: Gsellman yes, Lugo I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t try to sell either. That is their starting pitching depth right there. Without those guys they would have been screwed this year.

Evan: What do you make of Eric Hosmer’s consistently terrible defensive metrics? Is this due to poor positioning or a lack of ability? Are we getting to the point where he should DH?
Klaw: I think defensive metrics do a poor job with 1b because they measure range but not the receiving aspects of the job.

Jon: Even though it’s a meaningless feat, do you think if Trout reaches 30-30 HR/SB, that helps his MVP case?
Klaw: I think voters baaaa have already decided that they’re not baaaaa voting for him baaacause he’s on a losing team.

Bill: Matt Boyd reportedly changed his arm angle during the middle part of the season and has pitched extremely well since his return, with increased velocity and a higher strikeout rate. Can such an adjustment really have that kind of immediate effect?
Klaw: Yes. Arm angle/slot shifts are dangerous (I think) but the effect can be pretty dramatic for fastball life, breaking ball tilt, or just plain deception.

Nick: TJ Rivera has hit everywhere he has played, including his recent time with the Mets. I know he is already 27 so he isn’t exactly a kid, but what do you think his ultimate ceiling is as a MLBer?
Klaw: Up and down guy. He’s hit everywhere but he’s been old for everywhere too.

Spx: Not to derail the chat to vax stuff, but is it possible some truth in not ALL vaccines are always safe? Could be possible for one recent, limited tested vac out of the 200 causing problems?
Klaw: When there was the slightest hint that the first rotavirus vaccine caused bowel obstructions, it was yanked from the market immediately, even though the number of actual cases was minuscule. So, yes, it’s possible there could be a minor issue with a vaccine, but it would be evident immediately. There aren’t larger problems because vaccination itself is safe; your child will get more pathogens from a few hours at school or day care than from all the weakened or dead-virus vaccines s/he will get in his/her lifetime.

Linus: How much do you think Statcast and other “on the field” measurements revolutionized front offices? How much time will it take to change fans’ perspective of the game?
Klaw: I’m writing about this now for my book, and yes, it’s changing things very rapidly within the industry, but the gap between what they know and what we know is increasing as a result.

Michael: Hi Klaw- Thanks as always for the chats. You remain the sole reason for me being an ESPN Insider. I became a huge fan of Ticket to ride and Carcassonne in large part due to your reviews. However I have had the Le Havre app on my iPad for months and been unable to get over the hump of what seems like overly complicated game play. Any suggestions on an easy way to learn to play?
Klaw: That’s because it is complicated; I traded my copy of the physical game away because we hadn’t played it in years. It takes too long to set up and gameplay is very involved, even compared to Agricola. But if you’ve played Agricola at all, then Le Havre becomse a little more straightforward.

ritchie vanian: Keith- It appears you are no fan of Terry Collins, but can you give him credit for keeping such an injured team in contention? Only one starter has not been on the DL this year, and his best pitcher has been the 975 year old Big Sexy.
Klaw: Why is that to Collins’ credit, though? What has he done specifically to make the team play better? Is it tactical? Motivational? (I doubt this exists, but you could at least make the argument.) Something else?

Brett: I think the Rabbit books by Updike are great (they get better with time). I know you find the main character to be an ass, but isn’t that kinda the point?
Klaw: It is the point. I just don’t like that kind of novel.

Bevan: If Manuel Margot doesn’t start in CF for the Padres tonight, I’m going to lose my mind.
Klaw: Understandable.

Mike: What’s your fave boardgame to play with a 7 y.o? Ludo is crushing my soul.
Klaw: We have played regular games with my daughter since at least that age. Ticket to Ride is a great starter game, because everything is colors and arithmetic.

Bob: Speaking of Grichuk reminds me of other similar players like Trumbo. Not making outs is the #1 goal of a hitter but power has value too. What does a team do with low-OBP, high-SLG guys like that? Only use them to pinch-hit? Have no more than one or two on a team and bat them sixth or seventh? Frustrate yourself trying to teach them how to take a walk?
Klaw: The problem I see with those guys is that it takes a tiny bit of lost luck or lost power (or the wrong ballpark) to make them one-win players or worse. You’re relying entirely on a skill that is still a bit volatile.

Andy: Baseball does need to work on appealing to a younger audience. They need to do that by making it much more cost and time effective to play baseball as a kid. My 6 year old doesn’t need 6 hours of practice a week. 8 year olds (and their families) could use a weekend off instead of traveling all over the area playing. That’s how you appeal to a younger audience, having every kid be able to play as long as they have the talent to.
Klaw: That’s all fair and reasonable. I also have told many parents that their kid doesn’t need to play year-round, and that travel teams aren’t often worth the money. But I worry about kids for whom the expense of a glove and a bat is too much; basketball has a much lower cost of entry, requires fewer kids, and only requires a hoop. Making baseball more accessible to every kid would be a better use of marketing dollars than … well, I take it back. It would be a more noble use. It might not be a better ROI.

Kenny: I’ve always liked that you will admit when wrong. The O’s clearly have holes, but have contended for four straight years. What is allowing them to do that despite their flaws? It can’t be SSS anymore.
Klaw: Good bullpens, very good tactical manager, some luck here and there with guys having career years. I don’t think Britton should be a CY candidate but he’s having an outstanding year, and he was an outstanding prospect for whom the Orioles found a role even when he didn’t work out as a starter.

Brett: We know you live in DE, but where would you live if you had no obligations (yes, I realize that’s a poor way to describe a family and job)
Klaw: Italy.

Lee: Can we quit with the false equivalence between Clinton and Trump? I’m tired of people suggesting that they can’t vote for Clinton because they are both equally awful candidates. Trump is an actual threat to our country like we’ve never seen. Clinton just seems like more of the same which in comparison seem pretty OK with me for the time being.
Klaw: This is more or less how I see it. I do think HRC has real policy proposals that we can debate, some of which I like and some of which I don’t. Drumpf doesn’t even have that.

Ryan: Do you project Gonsalves as a #2 in the majors?
Klaw: Not without an average breaking ball.

Nathan: Does America have any hope of survival if Clown Hitler wins the presidency and the GOP retains control of the House and Senate?
Klaw: It’s a terrifying possibility. Hence, Italy.

Marques: I’m biracial. We can talk about bias all we want in the minority community and people lake us add giving excuses instead of explaining a reality. So, when a white guy with credibility says implicit bias is real, it helps mentally if nothing else. How can we improve if we don’t acknowledge the obvious? Thank you for your empathy.
Klaw: You’re welcome. To be honest, I feel like the worst white guy to talk about this stuff. I grew up in as white an area as you could possibly find in the country. My wife (we graduated from HS together) and I think we had fewer than 5 African-American students in our graduating class of about 375, maybe a dozen Asian-American students, and I don’t think we had anyone who would have specifically identified at the time as anything else. I’ve seen racism elsewhere, later in life, including in my time in baseball, but I’ve only been a passive observer and I didn’t even grow up with that around me. The worst bias I saw growing up was the casual anti-Semitism of the Catholic suburbs.

Spx: So basically you are ripping Jill Stein because Trump has lose, correct?
Klaw: No, I’ve ripped her for pandering to the tin-foil hat conspiracy theory nuts.

Brett: Did you collect baseball cards as a kid? I suspect I’m about your age, and I wonder if some of us “investing” in cards 1986-89 has driven the interest in stats
Klaw: Yep, tons. Probably still have them somewhere.

Steve: Where do you see Mitch Keller in terms of prospect ranking after his breakout year?
Klaw: He’s a top 50 prospect, but I hesitate to get more specific until I do some real work on that list.

Gregg: Any advice for someone who hates the idea of everything about cooking (time, cleanup, prep, etc.), but also sees the importance and possible enjoyments of it?
Klaw: Do things that require less of what you hate. Grilling minimizes cleanup. One-pot dishes do the same. Slow cookers are great for cooking multiple nights of food in one shot. I don’t cook a full meal every night every week; I often cook enough meat in one shot to cover three dinners for the family and then build meals around whatever else we’re eating, typically the vegetable dish.

Henry: Keith, your book seems to be tailored for novices attempting to understand the overrated statistics of the game. (Yeah, I’m kind of judging it from its title). Can you share if your current readers will get something out of it. P.S. Amazon is listing it as a #1 new release in Business Facility Management, whatever that is.
Klaw: I hope current readers will enjoy it, and there will be a section at the end (mentioned above) on Statcast and the future of the game, but there will be parts where you’re thinking, yep, I know saves are stupid. There is, however, nothing in the book on facility management. That’ll be the sequel.

Tom: Heh, how can you talk about influence and not mention Pink Floyd, shine on you crazy diamond.
Klaw: I love Pink Floyd but I don’t think they’re that influential. What bands or subgenres really derive from their work?

Chris: Has Max Fried gotten back to the level you expected after missing so much time, or does staying in the Sally League hurt his case?
Klaw: He’s back, and I don’t worry quite so much about age relative to level for pitchers as I do for hitters. With pitchers, results do matter, but stuff and projection matter too.

Ron: Are you going to watch Pitch? The reviews, including Sepinwall, have been outstanding at least for the pilot.
Klaw: I am not.

Rob: Do you manage to get in a lot of board game time during the season, or is that mostly an offseason hobby?
Klaw: My wife and I play something 3-4 nights a week, and we play something with our daughter maybe 2-3 afternoons a week. I’m pretty adamant about getting that quality time in with the family when I’m not traveling or at a local game. I was home more this summer due to the book and a family matter, so I’ve played more games this year.

Susan: What watch do you wear? I realize it’s a silly question, but still curious if you care?
Klaw: I haven’t worn a wristwatch in more than ten years.

Chris: I’m with you, I see no reason for the Yanks to undo the restocking of the system by trading it all for Sale or something. Rather see them consolidate for a year (in fact I’d like to see them keep going and trading Gardner, McCann, and selling high on Castro’s superficial numbers), but I’m worried the powers that be (not Cash) will get antsy and worry about empty luxury seats w/o “name” stars on the field.
Klaw: They’re going to be decent and very fun to watch next year, and I think Sanchez might already be enough of a name guy to help draw fans.

Amy: I’m sure ESPN will make you put this in a prediction post, but who you got for WS? I feel like everyone will pick the hot Sox, but it rarely seems to work out that the hottest pre playoff team wins.
Klaw: I’ll make a prediction because people want one, not because I think I have some special woo or anything. I’m likely to go Cubs because I think they’re the best all-around team, built well for the playoffs, especially in run prevention.

Sam: How much will Jorge Mateo’s bad final 4 months of the season knock him down in top 100 prospect rankings?
Klaw: I’ve said this previously, but I’m less concerned with his performance than with the apparent lack of hard contact. He could be hitting the ball hard and not getting results, and I’d still be high on him. But he’s not even doing that. And then there’s whatever got him suspended in July on top of everything else.

Scrapper: Who will have the better career: Carlos Rodon or Kevin Gausman
Klaw: I’ll take Gausman, believe it or not. He’s got the third pitch and I think he’s more likely to end up with above-average command.

Ryan: Keith – thanks for the chats and for not being afraid of stepping outside the foul lines. I have a 4.5 year old daughter and my wife and I want to step past infant books for her. What chapter books worked for you and your daughter around that age?
Klaw: We did the Winnie the Pooh books and the first two Mary Poppins books and my daughter loved them. Eventually you’ll run into Rainbow Magic, and I wish you godspeed when that happens.

Grant: Has the perceived value of any contract flipped further this year than Rick Porcello’s? He went from being called a bottom 10 MLB contract to a Cy Young candidate.
Klaw: Too bad the GM who signed him got fired for his troubles.

Scrapper: Is exit velocity something that you look at now or is this a “limited utility” statistic for you?
Klaw: I believe there is value in it, but we are still learning what that value is.

Zac: If you were going to have the perfect breakfast, lunch, dinner combo in Nashville, where would you be eating?
Klaw: Breakfast at Pinewood Social, lunch at Mas Tacos Por Favor, dinner at Husk or City House or 404 Kitchen or Two Ten Jack…

Ramon: I’m certainly no scientist, but I’ve heard theories that while vaccinations are themselves bad, that possibly over vaccinating (getting too many all at one time) may be a bad idea. What do studies say?
Klaw: They say this is absolute nonsense. My daughter, at age one or maybe just short of it, was at a playgym of some sort, and my wife saw her lick the floor. She ingested more pathogens in that one act than in every vaccine she got that whole year. Our immune systems are way stronger than the deniers claim.

JWR: Do you set aside a specific time to write your book or is it pretty much just write when time permits?
Klaw: When time permits. And when I’m not distracted by things.

Chris: Has Kodi Medeiros shown enough to stay as a starter long term, or is he for sure destined to the pen?
Klaw: Bullpen guy.

Chris: Preller should have been fired, right?
Klaw: I don’t agree.

Brett: Is David Ortiz an easy choice HOF’er? It seems like he is being treated as such. The WAR is surprisingly low (and if Bagwell is out for steroid suspicion, isn’t Ortiz in the same boat?)
Klaw: He’s not a HoFer for me. Edgar is the better DH candidate, and that bar has been set too high for Ortiz to get in.

Stacy: Ok, what do you think of tattoos? Obviously, they are big with millennials. Would you be good with you daughter sleeving the arm?
Klaw: I don’t have any, but it’s her body and when she’s old enough it’ll be her choice.

Jim: Response to the cooking cleanup question: They made liners for crock pots so there’s no cleanup involved with that.
Klaw: Also true.

spx: Inciate’s catch – first step was -.7. How is that possible?
Klaw: I actually don’t understand what that’s saying. He started before the ball was hit?

Tom: Sorry, my Pink Floyd joke sounded better in my mind, the operative word was “influence”, the lunatic is in my head…
Klaw: Careful with that axe, Tom.

Frank: Making my first trip to the AFL and looking for any recommendations on food stops..Also long term who will end up having a better career Bellinger or Verdugo th
Klaw: Check my Arizona dining guide for the first part. I’ll bet on Verdugo although I had both guys as top 100 prospects before the season.

Henry: The Smiths were highly influential, and Johnny Marr’s guitar playing is highly underrated. They wouldn’t be on a “top-five” list but their influence is still very evident with the British music scene.
Klaw: Absolutely, but it’s only within the British scene, I think.

Chris: Do you think Chase Vallot can stick behind the plate, and if not, will that bat play good enough elsewhere?
Klaw: No, and I don’t think so.

Scherzer’s Blue Eye: Would you put Giolito as the centerpiece in a deal for Sale? Given the year that Giolito has had?
Klaw: I’d hate to sell a little low – especially when some of it was the Nats’ own tinkering with his delivery – but if it gets you a CY caliber guy like Sale you consider it.

Joe: Do you think third party votes are always bad, or does Trump’s incompetence make this year a special case? I’ve voted third party before and would probably be giving Johnson my vote this year if someone like Kasich had been nominated. But I just can’t do it with Trump on the ballot.
Klaw: I’ve voted third party before too. I don’t agree that they’re always bad. But this time, there’s a dangerous man at the gates of the White House, so bar the doors.

Marshall MN: If you could go back to college and do it all over again (under the assumption you couldn’t follow your current work track), would you directly pursue a writing career or would your obvious interest in science point you toward a hard science field?
Klaw: If I could do it over again, I’d major in applied math and use all my electives on foreign languages. Those are all things I love, and as it turns out, they’re all quite useful in many careers, including the one I’m in. But I started college at 17 and it was a small miracle I could do my own laundry, let alone pick what classes to take.

Klaw: That’s all for this week – sorry the pace was off a bit but I stayed overtime to try to make up for it. Thank you as always for all of your questions; I’ll be back next Thursday for another chat.

Stick to baseball, 9/17/16.

For Insiders this week I wrote about eight top 100 prospects who had down years in 2016; that’s not all prospects who had off years, just eight I chose to discuss. I held my usual Klawchat on Thursday. For Paste I reviewed the fun, family boardgame Saloon Tycoon, where players build across their boards and also add up to three levels as they build upward.

You can pre-order my book, Smart Baseball, ahead of its scheduled release on April 25, 2017. I promise I’ll have it written by then.

Several people I know have new books out recently, and while I haven’t read them yet, I wanted to highlight the titles here:
• Jessica Luther’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape
• Alan Sepinwall’s TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time (with Matt Zoller Seitz)
• Geoff Schwartz’s Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family, and Faith (with his brother Mitch)

I’ve been sending out a weekly email newsletter with links to all of my content and some additional notes or thoughts that don’t fit anywhere else; you can sign up here if you just don’t have enough Klaw in your life.

And now, the links…

  • Scientific American asked the four remaining Presidential candidates to answer twenty questions on major topics in science and has published the answers of the three who responded. (Gary Johnson hasn’t deigned to reply.) My takeaway: Trump remains a terrifying anti-science candidate, particularly in his denial of climate change (note the scare quotes), while Stein comes off as a serious person here as opposed to the pandering crackpot she’s been playing on Twitter.
  • VICE’s Noisey site has an outstanding piece on the history and music of Homestar Runner, one of my favorite cartoons from any medium.
  • BuzzFeed is capable of some great investigative journalism (when they’re not stealing other people’s content on the Tasty or for their videos), like this piece on police departments “closing” rape cases without investigating them. They focus on Baltimore County, Maryland, where even men convicted of previous assaults were getting away with rapes because the cops couldn’t be bothered.
  • More great investigative journalism, this time from the Houston Chronicle: The backwater known as Texas has been denying special education services to special needs kids because they arbitrarily capped the rate of kids eliglible to receive those services at 8.5%.
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stands accused of, but not charged with, taking cash for favors from large donors, according to court documents obtained by the Guardian despite a court’s irregular order that the documents be destroyed.
  • Mother Jones writers about the dwindling numbers of black teachers in urban areas and the potential impact on black students.
  • How did a young power couple in Afghanistan, including the youngest woman in that country’s nascent Parliament, end up in Nebraska? The Omaha World-Herald has their harrowing story, from death threats in their home country to entry-level jobs at McDonald’s and Home Depot as refugees here.
  • Experts on hate groups say white supremacists see Donald Trump as their “last stand.” Well, when he’s bragging about the 88 military advisors helping him, how could they think otherwise?
  • I don’t even know what to make of the story that Peter Thiel says Trump will nominate him to the Supreme Court if elected. Thiel is the billionaire who funded the lawsuits that took down Gawker and Nick Denton; perhaps he believes that, but as much as I find Trump as President a horrifying prospect, this seems like Thiel’s own fantasy.
  • Speaking of Gawker, Univision, the new owner of Gawker Media, chose to delete a handful of posts related to ongoing lawsuits (some baseless); the chief news officer at Univision agreed to a long conversation with Gizmodo about these decisions. It’s long and meandering but there’s a lot of meat in here, and while the deletions don’t look good at a glance, I think Univision is also offering some strong support for its writers going forward, too.
  • The Scientific Parent explains why the “too much, too soon” anti-vaxxer argument is wrong. It’s ignorant of basic science: Your kid is ingesting more pathogens in a typical day than s/he’ll get in all the vaccines s/he ever receives, and the metals that vaccine deniers freak out over are present in food, water, even breast milk.
  • Dr. Bob Sears, who’s been accused of ‘selling’ medical exemptions to California’s new mandatory schoolkid vaccination law, may lose his license for medical negligence instead. Whatever gets these charlatans out of the medical business is fine with me.
  • Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 New Jersey schoolkids skipped vaccinations this year. If you live there, call your state legislator and ask him or her to sponsor a bill eliminating non-medical exemptions.
  • Trump’s campaign claims he’s given “tens of millions of dollars” to charity but the Washington Post found no proof.
  • A writer for the National Review claims that the left is “weaponizing” sports, citing the NCAA’s decision to pull championship events from North Carolina as a result of that state passing Hate Bill 2. He drops the ball (!) in sentence two, however, since HB2’s biggest effect is that it local governments from making sexual orientation a protected status in any anti-discrimination ordinances. It’s not about bathrooms; it’s about saying you can’t be fired just because you’re gay.
  • The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is chaired by an anti-science Republican and Christian Scientist, Lamar Smith (TX). Physicist Lawrence Krauss writes that Smith’s been politicizing scientific research, including that related to climate change and ocean acidification, in his little reign of terror, which will likely continue as long as Republicans control the House. And don’t be fooled by the religion’s name – Christian Science is about as anti-science as any cult can get, eschewing medicine and claiming that sickness is caused by an absence of “right thinking.”
  • Media Matters writes about ongoing criticism of the NY Times‘ perceived bias against Hillary Clinton. I’ve always thought of the Times as a clear, left-leaning publication, so their coverage of HRC’s campaign has surprised me this year.
  • Somalia is a failed state and has been without a real central government for a quarter century now. The northern section of the country calls itself Somaliland, and is seeking internal recognition of its independence. There are some recent examples in east Africa that argue against it, as Eritrea and South Sudan have been plagued by fighting and corruption since their secessions from Ethiopia and Sudan, respectively. Somaliland isn’t leaving a real country, however; there is no competing authority to their own bootstrapped government.
  • The U.S. ended sanctions on Myanmar, but it’s not clear Myanmar (ex-Burma) has actually earned this economic reward. Aung San Suu Kyi’s acquiescence has left many observers puzzled, and the linked piece from the BBC tries to explain it.
  • Author Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin)’s address to the Brisbane Writers Festival on cultural appropriation caused a substantial backlash against her claims that the term is the result of “runaway political correctness.”
  • The Washington Post‘s editorial board wrote that the Hillary Clinton email story is “out of control” relative to its actual importance. I agree; she made a mistake, a significant one, but one that pales in comparison to those of her opponent in this election, such as Trump calling again for Hillary’s assassination.
  • U.S. colleges continue to protect athlete rapists because sports. At UNC a rape victim went public to force the school and the county to stop delaying their investigation. Two women at the University of Richmond did the same, one revealing that a school administrator said the rapist had a right to “finish.”
  • New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose stands accused of gang-raping a woman, and Julie DiCaro writes for Fansided about the civil suit that’s going on right now – including his lawyers’ strange choice not to try to settle the case.
  • Mental Floss shows six math concepts demonstrated via crochet, with the first two (the hyperbolic plane and the Lorenz manifold) the most interesting.
  • Apple’s been getting killed – rightly so – for the iPhone 7’s lack of an analog headphone jack, but VICE’s Motherboard points out the iPhone 6+ has its own very serious engineering flaw.
  • Back in the 1960s, the sugar industry paid Harvard researchers for favorable results, part of a decades-long nutritional con that had us afraid of fat but thinking sugar was mostly harmless.
  • Colin Kaepernick’s protest is working, writes Josh Levin at Slate. Given the widespread conversation he started, I’d have to agree: He used a non-violent, non-disruptive act to make his point, and we’ve spent several weeks talking about all aspects of it, from race in America to the purpose of jingoistic displays at sporting events where many of the players aren’t even from the U.S.
  • Bayer’s pending acquisition of Monsanto has raised questions about Monsanto’s GM seeds business as some farmers find the returns don’t justify the higher costs. This piece from the WSJ is remarkably balanced, avoiding “frankenfoods!” hysteria and discussing pros and cons of genetically modified seeds. One point of note: Weeds that are or have evolved to become resistant to glyphosate have already started invading farms with GM seeds.
  • You’ve probably heard a lot about the Native Americans’ opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will cross much of their land, but before this NPR piece I hadn’t heard much from the pipeline company’s side. For example, I didn’t know that this pipeline will cover the same route as an existing natural gas pipeline installed in 1982, or that the areas the tribes affected say are sacred may not be so.
  • Why did the Governor of Kentucky speak before a hate group and threaten armed sedition if Clinton wins? Why does nobody care about an elected official doing this?
  • Radiolab had a great podcast describing the ordeal of a girl who turned 18 without any documentation to prove she exists. It has taken her over a year just to acquire some of the things we take for granted, and she’s still fighting for a social security number.
  • A man in nearby Smyrna, Delaware, reports that this relaxing tea better fucking work, according to The Onion.


My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the 3D building game Saloon Tycoon, and I wrote a piece for Insiders yesterday on some top 100 prospects who had down years. I also held a Klawchat here on Thursday.

Laurent Binet’s historical novel HHhH won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, an award given to the best debut novel in French literature, in 2010, and has since become a bestseller in multiple languages and even spawned a film version due out in 2017. But it’s far from a typical historical novel; while the novel’s core is the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the “Blond Beast” of Hitler’s regime and a primary architect of the Holocaust, Binet has wrapped that story up in his own metafictional account of the author’s difficulty in writing a novel about the past where the participants are dead.

The Heydrich storyline is fairly simple, and Binet – or, I suppose, the narrator-author within the book – tells it with sufficient detail to inform the reader and keep the plot moving. Heydrich was born into privilege but was dogged by rumors as a youth that he was part Jewish; as a teenager, he joined a volunteer paramilitary unit and an anti-Semitic organization that was a major forerunner of the Nazi Party. He joined the Germany Navy in 1922 and was rapidly promoted through the ranks; he later married a woman who was already an ardent Nazi, but the affair cost him his officer status and he was briefly unemployed. A bit of good fortune put him in front of Heinrich Himmler, who named him head of the newly created intelligence service within the SS, a post that led to another surge up the ranks for Heydrich, culminating in his roles as director of the Gestapo and as Acting Protector of the occupied area now known as Czechia. It was there that Heydrich became the lone high-ranking Nazi official to be assassinated by resistance forces, the result of a courageous and clumsy operation called Anthropoid that resulted in Heydrich’s death, a showdown where the assassins were trapped in a Prague church after a lengthy manhunt, and the Nazi destruction of the towns of Lidice and Ležáky, with over 1300 civilians murdered.

Binet’s approach in HHhH – the title stands for “Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich,” which means “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich” – is to tell the story of the assassination while also telling the story of telling the story. He presents himself through this narrator surrogate as a writer somewhat obsessed with the historical facts, dwelling over the difficulty of recreating events through secondhand materials of questionable veracity, and often presenting a scene complete with dialogue only to tell us in the next section that he made it up.

On the one hand, Binet examines some real questions seldom asked of historical fiction and even non-fiction, not the least of which is how the author could possibly know what was said in the dialogue s/he presents. Eyewitness testimony is unreliable, as are our memories in general, so even asking participants who said what won’t produce accurate answers. On the other hand, it’s distracting as hell to get rolled up in the assassination storyline, only to have Binet’s narrator burst through the door with a “hold up, that’s not really what happened!” tangent that breaks the spell of the narrative. To be fair, that’s more prevalent in the first half of the book; once the story gets cooking, such as the scene when the assassins bumble the actual attempt (which, sorry for the spoiler, killed Heydrich anyway), the interruptions are fewer, and Binet saves some of his final thoughts on the author’s dilemma for the last few pages – a peroration that is as effective as any other passage in conveying his state of mind as an author who became invested in his story and frustrated by his inability to ever get it truly “right.” HHhH thus is more like two nested stories, the outer one of which is about the inner story, with differing styles and levels of interest in both of them, working well together but carrying some of the frustrating hallmarks of all postmodern literature.

Next up: I’m halfway through Clifford Simak’s Hugo winner Way Station.

Gödel’s Proof.

My latest Insider post covers eight top 100 prospects who took a step back this year. I’ll also hold a Klawchat here at 1 pm ET.

I read Rebecca Goldstein’s biography of Kurt Gödel, Incompleteness, last summer, and I believe it was within her book that I read about James Newman and Ernest Nagel’s book Gödel’s Proof that attempts to explain the Austrian logician’s groundbreaking findings. The 114-page volume does a great job of building up to the final proof, but I have to concede that the 19-page section near the end that reveals the fatal blow Gödel delivered to Bertrand Russell, David Hilbert, and others who believed in the essential completeness of mathematical systems lost me in its nested language and ornate symbols. (The newest edition includes a foreword by Douglas Hofstadter, who wrote about the proof in Gödel, Escher, Bach, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction.)

Gödel was himself a fascinating figure, a philosopher, mathematician, and logician who wrote a paper with two theorems at age 25 that stunned the world of mathematics in their method and conclusions, proving that any axiomatic system of arithmetic that is consistent cannot be complete. Completeness here means that every true formula that can be expressed within the system can be proven within the system. Gödel’s trick was to create an entire system of expressing logical formulas via what is now called Gödel numbering, and then to craft a formula that says itself that it is unprovable within the system. His proof further stated that even if you could add an axiom to this system of mathematics to cover this new exception, the formula could always be rephrased to pose a new exception, and thus the system is essentially incomplete.

Nagel and Newman do a great job of getting the reader – or at least in getting this reader – to the edge of understanding by building up the history of the question, giving a lay explanation of Gödel’s basic method of numbering and delineating what a simple axiomatic system like that of Russell’s Principia Mathematica (the system Gödel targeted in his proof) would look like. Russell and other logicians of the time were convinced that systems of mathematics were complete – that we could define any such system in terms of a finite number of axioms that would cover all possible formulas we could craft within that system. Any formula that could be proven true at all could then be proven true using only the axioms of that system. Gödel’s proof to the contrary was scarcely noticed at first, but when it spread and others in the field realized it might be true, it blew apart a fundamental assumption of number theory and of logic, while also making Gödel’s name as a major figure in the history of mathematics and logic.

All of which is to say that I just couldn’t follow the nested statements that constitute Nagel and Newman’s explanation of Gödel’s proof. I haven’t read Gödel’s original paper, because it is a truth universally acknowledged that you’ve got to have some serious math background to understand it, so I will accept the claim that Nagel and Newman made it much easier to grasp … but I still only get this at a superficial level. When the authors compare this to Richard’s Paradox, an earlier device that Gödel cited in his paper, I could understand it; these are all descendants of the “This statement is false” type of logical trick that causes an inherent contradiction. Gödel appears to have done the same thing for arithmetic. I just couldn’t quite get to the mental finish line on this one. I guess you could say my understanding of the topic remains ….


Next up: I finished and will review Laurent Binet’s HHhH, and have begun Clifford Simak’s Hugo-winning novel Way Station.

Klawchat 9/15/16.

You can pre-order my book, Smart Baseball, on amazon or iTunes. It’s due out in April.

Klaw: I’m not a trader, if what you got is greater I’ll trade. Klawchat.

Zack: Better pick-up for rest of season, PPR: C. Beasley or J. McKinnon? Current RBs: J.Stew, Rawls/Michael.
Klaw: I mean, I was used to people wandering into the wrong chat over at the four-letter, but here?

Joe: Now that it looks like Aaron Judge will retain his prospect eligibility for next year, how do you think you will handle his major struggles in the bigs this year when trying to evaluate him?
Klaw: He’s run into plate coverage issues before, and made adjustments to reduce his weakness there. I believe he’ll continue to do so, enough to be a productive, above-average offensive player, one who still strikes out 150 times a year.

Marshall: Is Touki a potential ace? Stuff is crazy and control/command seems to be coming around
Klaw: Yes, I’ve always thought he had that upside, but as you imply his command was a long way away from that. Great athlete, good arm action, smart kid, so all the elements you’d want in a teenaged arm to project him for that kind of ceiling.

Jacob: When do you see Victor Robles being the #1 prospect?
Klaw: That’s rather presumptuous of you.

Marshall: Have you ever seen a rotation like Romes? Touki, Freid, Allard, Soroka… Who has the highest upside?
Klaw: Unfortunately we have seen rotations like that and they don’t always work out as we hope.

Brian: Do you think Addison Russell will be able to add a bit more contact down the line without sacrificing the power he’s added this year?
Klaw: I do. I think his hands are so strong and quick that his strikeout rate will get under 20% within the next two years. He’s still just 22 and his 2015 season should have been spent in the minors.

David: Would the Pirates be smart to try to extend Andrew McCutchen this off-season at a possible reduced rate, hoping his down year is a fluke and not the new normal, or is the risk too high?
Klaw: Risk is too high and with Meadows in AAA they have an internal replacement at the minimum salary coming soon. They are not in a financial situation to pay McCutchen the market rate.

Minty: If Moncada doesn’t improve at 3B in the AFL, how long do they give him to improve before they try the OF?
Klaw: That’s not enough time. AFL is just six weeks and they don’t play every day anyway.

Mark: There will likely be 3 White Sox players from the June draft on your next 100, right?
Klaw: Wrong.

Anthony: Keith, what is your take on vitamins and other supplements?
Klaw: Most of them are just a waste of your money. The research on multivitamins for healthy people shows no benefit.

Ben: So renowned drunk driver Tony La Russa is questioning Colin Kaepernick’s “sincerity” and implying that CK is protesting to further his career. Does this turn your stomach, or is it just me?
Klaw: I don’t think his DUI makes TLR’s point less worthy. I think the intellectual bankruptcy of his entire worldview makes his point less worthy.

Nate: Keith, I was wondering if you have had any interaction with Nick Hostetler. What is your opinion of him as a scout? Do you foresee better scouting/drafting with Nick and Rick in charge of the operation for the White Sox?
Klaw: I have and I think his first draft went extremely well. I thought I saw some subtle shifts in philosophy that already seem to be paying off.

Adam Trask: What’s your take on win probability added (WPA)? Does it tell us anything we don’t already know or is it just RBI with more math?
Klaw: It’s still an entirely context-dependent stat, so it has no predictive value, and it tells you more about the player’s situations than about the player himself, but if you are looking for something that explains how the player’s contributions affected the team’s chances of winning – which RBI purports to do, sort of, but doens’t – then it’s the best stat of its kind.

Tyler: Is Francis Martes still a frontline starter in your opinion? He seemed to turn it around in the 2nd half.
Klaw: Yep, still has that upside. Hoping he doesn’t get pulled from the AFL as Paulino was.

Kim: Obviously Taijuan Walker can’t be expected to throw three hit shutouts from here on out, but are you more bullish on him after his new mechanical tweaks? Assuming he doesn’t revert back, that is.
Klaw: I mentioned it on the BBTN podcast this morning – the guy has had so many mechanical tweaks over the last four years that I’m quite skeptical of each new story about them. And his problems were more than just mechanical, but how the mechanical changes he made in the past took away his breaking ball. Let’s see him do it for more than a couple of starts.

RK: I know you weren’t a believer in Segura at the time of the trade. Has this year changed that? I don’tknow what to make of him. How do you see him moving forward?
Klaw: It’s been very fluky – career-high BABIP, power spike mostly park-driven (and Rockies-pitching-driven). I could see an average regular there going forward, if you think some of the BABIP jump is real, but I think they’d do well to shop him this winter as his value’s unlikely to rise in the two years left before he reaches free agency.

Nick: Any thoughts on 2017 college bats other than Kendall? IIRC, you aren’t too high on JJ Schwarz. Pretty weak crop this year it seems barring a breakout or too this spring.
Klaw: I am high on Schwarz; we just need to see him catch at some point. It’s a weak college bat crop and it’s weak all over at shortstop.

Vance: Name one thing that you like that is widely popular, is American, and is not a burger.
Klaw: Disney.

Nick: Nick Williams walked in 3.6% of his PAs this year. Good for an .287 OBP. This is all while hitting .258 with a .325 BABIP and only a .169 ISO. Is my concern justified?
Klaw: He was in my list of prospects who disappointed this year for this very reason. Remember how people claimed he’d figured it out last May when he drew 16 walks in 136 PA? Since then: 32 BB in 825 PA, 3.8%.

Mike: Which, if either, of DJ or Dustin Peterson gets called up first. Do you project either to be more than replacement level?
Klaw: Dustin’s quite a bit more than replacement level.

The Pirate Parrot: A couple of years ago, after the Pirates took Mark Appel and didn’t sign him, they selected Austin Meadows with the comp pick. Rumor was, they would have taken David Dahl if they didn’t take Appel. At this point, who would you rather have: Appel, Dahl, or Meadows?
Klaw: Dahl’s value today is the highest of the three. I’d say him. Meadows might have more offensive upside, since he’s more patient than Dahl, but Dahl’s advantage is that he’s at least a solid year of development ahead of Meadows.

Owen: Felipe Rivero had been a starter in the minors with inconsistent results, but from everything I can tell, his changeup didn’t breakthrough as a plus pitch until he became a reliever. In fact, it didn’t even seem part of his repertoire. Now it’s arguably his best pitch to compliment a strong fastball and an effective slider. Knowing that he now has three pitches to work from, do you think the Pirates should experiment with him as a starter this spring?
Klaw: No, I’d probably just leave him where he is, given the success he’s had in that role. I don’t think he ever had close to the command needed to start.

Jason: Hey Keith. If you’re Joe Maddon, how do you line up your October rotation? Hendricks is going to lead MLB in ERA — but would you pitch him ahead of Lester, Arrieta or even Lackey in a five- or seven-game series?
Klaw: Arrieta would still be the first choice if I want a RHP.

Fickey: What are your thoughts on Luis Urias? His name has been sprouting out more and more often with some giving him the star label. Is his bat that good
Klaw: Great player, bat is legit, little guy though. Going to have to get stronger to maintain this hit tool.

Spruce: Hey Keith a magic Javalina just gave me the chance to run the Dbacks org for a day. I’m gonna fire the TLR & Stewart duo, hire Mike Bell and Alex Cora as GM and manager respectively, and maybe actually hire some qualified cantidates to head up the analytics dept. Am I on the right track?
Klaw: That’s a real good start. Best of luck.

Jason: The upcoming free agent class is so dreadful that we could see Rich Hill – a late-30s starter with a sketchy track record who is barely a year removed from Indy ball – get, what, $15M per for three years? More?
Klaw: Yep, I think that’s well within reason. This class is the worst I’ve covered since I got to ESPN because the best candidates all signed long-term deals.

Chris J.: I listened to your conversation on the podcast with Buster about the Adam Jones statements. While I agree about the presence and impact of institutional racism in MLB front offices, I wanted to also comment that the demographics of MLB attendance are heavily white. And though that alone doesn’t mean ‘racist’ of course, with the percentage of people currently backing a racist like Trump, then it isnt much of a stretch to believe that some of the same attitudes are present in the outfield bleachers. I guess what Im getting at is that if Jones or any other minority player committed acts of perceived “disrespect” towards the national anthem, I’m sure there are quite a few ‘fans’ in some ballparks who wouldn’t hesitate to express themselves over it. And that those percentages are likely higher than they are in NFL or NBA. So, I guess not really a question, more of a statement expressing my own feelings about what what Jones’ words presented and why I support his stance.
Klaw: I may have misunderstood what he said, then. I thought he was specifically referring to team executives sanctioning a player who chose to make a gesture like Kaepernick did – executives like La Russa, who apparently forgot to turn on the filter between his brain and his mouth yesterday before talking to Dan Le Batard. I agree that Trump’s a racist, though.

Kyle: What has been the biggest difference with Gausman lately? Pitching like a #1 as of late.
Klaw: From what I’ve seen it looks like he’s been locating the fastball more effectively to the top and bottom of the zone. Nice to see since I’ve been boosting him for years – he was on my 2015 breakout list.

Todd Boss: (We talked about this on twitter DM but i’ll tee it up here for you to answer if you wish): When do we get the return of Keith Law-hosted podcasts to the airways?
Klaw: As much as I’d like to do this, it depends on a lot of things outside of my control and one thing that is: I have to finish my book before I take on another significant project of any sort.

Regis: It seems like the Pirates have gotten pretty good at finding these raw high school arms and turning them into breakout prospects (Glasnow, Kingham, and Keller, as examples). Do you see any potential candidates to make that leap in their low minors? Braeden Ogle and Gage Hinsz are the two names that come to mind, but I would love to hear your thoughts!
Klaw: Hinsz for sure. Ogle we’ll see more in a year, but I liked the pick. I’ll be curious to see about MacGregor – he was a reach at pick 68 compared to the general interest in him, and I understand the Pirates took him because he rated particularly well in metrics like spin rate and extension when he worked out for the team pre-draft.

Jon: It looks like Rougned Odor grew up exclusively watching Alphonso Soriano control a strike zone. If you are a manager where do you bat a guy with 31 HRs, 17 walks, and a sub .300 obp?
Klaw: Sixth or seventh. Still value there, but yeah, it’d be nice if he’d walk even once a week.

Ryan: Hi Keith, thanks for the chat. I am hoping to get your thoughts about the Ben Cherington hire, and about him as a baseball mind in general.
Klaw: Big fan of Ben’s, think he deserves some credit for the success Boston has had the last 15 years in developing talent. Sounds like he’ll oversee player development in Toronto, Lacava will oversee scouting, and Atkins will oversee everything. That’s a lot of brainpower and experience in one spot – and also a lot of just very good human beings, too.

Lyle: Is Andrew Moore a #3/4 starter eventually? 4/5? Worse? Better?
Klaw: I think a 4/5. Command guy without stuff.

Jon: Since 2017 will be another rebuilding year in Philly, should they prioritize getting Alfaro experience against MLB pitching or more development time in the minors (and preserving service time)?
Klaw: Already on the 40-man, so he’s not staying in the minors that much longer. I think having him catch major-league pitching and work with major-league coaches has real developmental value and would probably aim to have him spend at least half of 2017 doing that.

Archie: What has more probability of being successful: Drafting a big due who brings it in the upper 90s, but has no clue how to pitch and teaching him how to pitch, or….Drafting a guy who can pitch but lacks elite velocity and working with him to build the strength to develop the necessary velocity?
Klaw: If Player #2 has the frame and athleticism to add that velocity – it’s really not just about strength – then that’s my pick.

Marshall: Klaw there have been some rumors out of the Twin Cities that “multiple people” have taken themselves out of consideration for our PoBo job. That seems a bit odd doesn’t it, there are a finite number of these jobs in existence and maybe 2 or 3 open up every year. Would it be the ownership group that is driving away candidates, maybe the supposed mandate that Molitar is brought back as manager?
Klaw: I commented on this on Twitter: I think that was way overblown. Plenty of good candidates are in the process, like McLeod and Picollo. There isn’t anything driving candidates away.

Joey JoJo: A landlord taking a student-athlete tenant to dinner with his family is a “major NCAA violation.” On a scale from 1 to drug cartel, where does the NCAA fall?
Klaw: They are a cartel, and they need to be broken up by the federal government. This is a market failure that results in the exploitation of labor. If you’re a fan of free markets, as I am, then you should want to see the NCAA dissolved.

Justin: A few years back you predicted Tyler Thornburg would end up in bullpen despite solid numbers as a starter. After a few up and down seasons, he has had one of the better reliever seasons in all of baseball. What led you to believe that he was destined to be a late inning reliever?
Klaw: His delivery first and foremost. His arm action said reliever, and his slot along with his short stature pointed to a flat, homer-ready fastball. Very glad to see him find success in this role because he always had talent. When I say I think a guy is a reliever it’s not an insult.

Drew: If I recall correctly, you’ve been reasonably high on AJ Cole. Has he performed at about the level you had expected in his limited starts for the Nats?
Klaw: Yep, always liked him. He’s had a problem with the long ball, but on a batter-by-batter basis has been about what I expected. I think this is a lot of fastball command, which has always been his weakness. I still see the potential for mid-rotation starter there but that would require him halving his HR rate.

Bob: Lots of Phils fans anxious about the MLB team’s lack of power are a little disappointed in the HR potential of Cornelius Randolph and Mickey Moniak. Do you think either could project in the 20-25 HR range or more in the 15-18 range? That’s fine for Moniak if he’s a CF, but doesn’t do much for Randolph as a LF.
Klaw: Don’t think Randolph’s a 20+ HR guy but he does have great bat speed and maybe he ends up surprising me because he makes harder contact. He has no physical projection, though, and that concerns me since he didn’t show power this year either.

Jack: Terry Collins 3 weeks ago “You hit,You play”. Terry Collins last night ” We need to give Jay Bruce time to work out of his slump” Do you see Sandy making a change regardless of a wild card spot. #FreeConforto
Klaw: I haven’t heard anything about them making a change but my God do they need to.

Rob: I’ll give you two wheat for three sheep
Klaw: Throw in an ore and you have a deal.

Jax: How would Shohei Otani fare in MLB? Pitcher or hitter?
Klaw: Pitcher, by all accounts. But probably a pitcher who’s not a total zero at the plate.

Drew: With the way they’ve been pitching lately, do you think Tillman-Gausman-Bundy+bullpenning could carry the Os in the post-season?
Klaw: I don’t. I’m really concerned about Bundy – he doesn’t hold his velocity well into starts and since they stretched him out in those two great starts at the beginning of August (the first time all year he’d pitched into the 7th), he has a 5.45 ERA in 34 IP, 31 K, 23 BB, 7 HR. I think he’s not right, but they’re going to keep pitching him because they have nobody else.

Franco: As an Italian, how do you pronounce Porcello? I’m torn between respecting the way he prefers to pronounce it and saying it correctly.
Klaw: Don’t get me started on the Cecchini brothers.

Jerry: How do you factor competitiveness into your evaluations of players? Can a hyper competitive streak make average players great and above average players stars? Two names that come to mind are Pedroia and Bumgarner, who don’t jump out at you for their raw tools, but seem to treat every pitch like a struggle for their lives.
Klaw: Um, Bumgarner doesn’t jump out at you for his raw tools? Are you dead?

Jon: Any thoughts on Roman Quinn’s performance thus far? Does he look any different or is it just due to a small sample size.
Klaw: It’s four games. FOUR. GAMES.

Jesse: Does Alec Hansen have a ceiling of a # 1?
Klaw: I think a #2. I didn’t think any college arm in this draft had #1 potential.

jay_b: At what point in the scrambled-egg making process do you prefer to salt them?
Klaw: When I scramble them, I add salt immediately, before they ever hit the pan.

Matt: Coppy mentioned Patrick Weigel as the biggest riser for the Braves. Thoughts on him? Can he harness the command to be an effective workhorse starter? He looks to have the frame…
Klaw: Yep, mid-rotation upside.

Ben: Every try any of the Bayless restaurants while in Chgo?
Klaw: Frontera and Tortas are both excellent.

Adam Trask: Speaking of Mark Appel, what are the chances he become a 1-WAR big leaguer or better? Why did the industry miss on him?
Klaw: I still think a very good chance – it’s not the industry’s fault that he’s hurt now, or that the Astros sped up his delivery with disastrous results.

Ben: Do exclusively homegrown models like the Pirates and Twins really work? It seems a team like the Astros, that had mostly homegrown talent but is willing to go get a star when needed, is the best way to succeed. Can teams like the Twins and Pirates succeed long-term without having to hit on a ridiculously high percentage of prospects?
Klaw: The Twins’ ownership has spent money on players, but their outside investments mostly fared very poorly. I don’t think there was a refusal to go outside the org. You’d have to be very fortunate to build an entire playoff-caliber roster from within.

Chris: I agree the Yanks seem to have soured on Mateo, and have played him I think one game at SS since Torres came over, but isnt this a terrible time to trade him?
Klaw: It’s a terrible time if you think he’s going to be better in 2017. It’s a good time if you think this is it for him.

Gabe: Jose Berrios has been beyond terrible in his three stints with the Twins this year. I know you were never the high man on him to begin with. How concerned should the Twins be?
Klaw: He’s not this bad. I’d be more concerned with the major-league coaching staff’s inability to help him – not to the point of blame, but, hey, this is your job, and this is our best ML-ready pitching prospect, you should be getting results.

Steve: Dumb theoretical, but what happens if/when a guy comes along who exceeds the 20-80 scale? Say an Usain Bolt-like phenomenon comes by and is markedly faster than Billy Hamilton, pushing the edges of what we thought was humanly possible. Do future Hamiltons get bumped to 75 to accomodate for the new standard, or do we make this new guy an 80 too and call it a fluke?
Klaw: Hamilton already exceeded the scale, and he’s still an 80. If you really need to distinguish between Hamilton’s speed and, say, Buxton’s speed, well, good luck?

Unk: Favorite science fiction writer? Favorite science fiction book?
Klaw: I might do a ranking of SF books at some point when I get through more of the Hugo winners and some classics I’ve missed. I still haven’t read Stranger in a Strange Land, for example. I love Connie Willis, Philip K. Dick, and although I haven’t read anything by him in 20+ years I have read more Asimov novels than those by any other SF author.

Ben: It seems like the latest prospect fetish out there is Isan Diaz of the Brewers. What’s your take on him?
Klaw: Fetish is an … interesting word for it. He’s a future star, though. Segura trade looked bad the day the Dbacks made it, and it looks bad now even with Segura’s good season.

Ben: Meadows will miss the AFL with a strained oblique. How much of a concern is his durability? He previously had orbital and hamstring issues this year alone.
Klaw: It’s a real concern for him, for Roman Quinn, for any player who seems to struggle to get through 140 games without injury. They need that development time, and of course they won’t hold ML jobs if they can’t stay on the field.

Marshall MN: Is there ever a point where a guy like Aaron Hicks should at least consider making a change to P at this point in his career? Given his failures as a hitter it seems like he is going to have trouble staying in the bigs once his cost control years are up.
Klaw: He was good in 2015, and he seemed to finally start to hit again in August after Beltran was traded only to get hurt at the end of the month. I don’t think he’s anywhere close to this point.

Scarlet: Please rank these young pups: isan diaz- juan soto – ronald acuna…offensive potential only
Klaw: Diaz, Acuna, Soto.

Jeb: Any interest in restaurants like Alinea or do you think that they aren’t worth the price?
Klaw: In theory I’d love to try it. But I have a hard time justifying the price and the time together.

Anonymous: What happened to Dillon Tate this year? Looking back, what did you think of trading him for a rental piece this year?
Klaw: Velocity dropped off after the DL stint in April and never really came back. I don’t blame the Rangers for trading him. They nearly took Trent Clark with that pick until Tate agreed to sign, and in hindsight that would have been the better pick.

Mike: how close is 17 year old Jay prospect Vlad Guerarro Jr. to your top 100? Who has been your youngest prospect to crack your top100 list?
Klaw: Sano was on it at 16.

BG: What are your thoughts on Snitker? He seems to be gaining support as a legit candidate on a full-time basis.
Klaw: Good minor league manager/org soldier, not the kind of advanced thinker or tactician they should hire. The odds of the best possible replacement being someone already in your system are just not very high.

Anonymous: Keith – what are your thoughts on the Brewers Lucas Erceg? I’m excited to see him progress and eventually take over at 3B in their rebuild
Klaw: Big tools with an idea of how to hit, may be more of a RF than a 3B, and of course he needs to stay out of trouble off the field.

Chris: So, there is suddenly talk in DC about Reynaldo Lopez potentially a lights out dominant reliever………………
Klaw: Huh. I feel like I’ve heard that before.

Steve: Do you get to see instructs at all? When will you start getting reports on the recently signed international crop?
Klaw: I went to some instructs stuff when I lived in Arizona and realized scouting – “scouting” – it was a total waste of time. They’re not playing real games. Everyone is working on something. And of course the players are exhausted, the numbers are wrong half the time or the rosters are out of date, it’s 100 degrees … they serve some purpose for player development but scouting them is not for me.

Marshall MN: Klaw, I enjoyed the article you posted today, will you be writing another one that mentions players that surprised you and took a step forward?
Klaw: Klaw 43 minutes ago

Dan: There were character concerns about Dylan Cozens when he was in high school. From what you know, has that changed at all?
Klaw: The Phillies people haven’t reported any problems at all. The character concerns were significant: he was kicked off his first HS team for telling the coach to fuck off midgame and shoving him to the ground. He only got to Chaparral because the state athletics board just so happened to waive their transfer rule after he was booted.

Troy: Keith – Still high on Brewers Corey Ray even after kind of a down pro debut?
Klaw: Yes. I thought the assignment to high-A was too aggressive. Granted, I wish he’d performed better, and the swing-and-miss issue was a concern this spring too.

Chad: Maybe it’s just a small sample and the Cal League, but Kyle Tucker’s numbers with Lancaster are pretty eye-popping. Is his arrow pointing up going into the offseason?
Klaw: I like Tucker’s bat, both hit and power, but Lancaster’s a joke of an environment and I wouldn’t read anything into stats from there. Plus it was just a few games. He hit .276/.348/.402 as a 19-year-old in low-A and I think that’s 1) really good and 2) more indicative of his current talent level.

Aaron C.: I think the A’s should actively shop Khris Davis this offseason. Am I correct or, like, REALLY correct?
Klaw: You are absolutely correct.

Daniel H: Hey Keith, did you ever see this Jose Ramirez outburst coming? He was already a high contact hitter in the minors but his last couple of tours in the majors were very unsuccessful. He is hitting pretty much the same statistically as Michael Brantley. I was an intern with the Akron RubberDucks in 2014 and Jose Ramirez was the Assistant GMs favorite player in the organization. Any chance he can keep up this production in future seasons, or is this a one year spike? Thanks for the chat Klaw!!
Klaw: I think he can hit like this, in terms of average, contact, OBP, going forward. He’s always been a high-contact guy, but got to the majors very young without enough experience in the minors. Power, I don’t know; it’s possible this is the ceiling but given his age I don’t want to just assume this is it.

Chris: Hi Keith – I’m a new father-to-be (about 7 weeks away now) – any thoughts / recommendations on establishing proper eat / sleep routines? Any other words of advice?
Klaw: Congratulations. You’re not going to sleep enough, if that wasn’t already obvious, and you can’t do anything to set the baby’s schedule, so it’s about finding a way to get what you need around the baby’s needs. The one thing we found after a few months was that it was better to alternate nights – I’d feed our daughter both times in one night, then the next night my wife would handle both – than to alternate feedings each night. This way every night one of us got more or less a full night of sleep.

Darryl: If you can pick one team to have a better 5 to 7 year run who would it be and why….The cubs, red sox, astros, or Yankees
Klaw: I think the Red Sox right now have the strongest core of young major-league ready talent of anyone.

Zach: I noticed you didn’t have Glasnow in your article today about prospects who took a step back, despite going through serious control issues. What drives your belief that he’ll ultimately be fine?
Klaw: I didn’t say that I believe he’ll ultimately be fine. I think he can improve in that area as an athletic kid with a delivery that works. But you’re inferring something that wasn’t there – I only mentioned a handful of players, not every single top 100 guy who had a disappointing 2016.

Mike: Hi Keith, regarding Ryon Healy, I realize he was never considered legit prospect but at what point do we need to rethink his potential? One more solid type year?
Klaw: He’s not going to hit .300/.340/.500 next year.

Peter: You think Gary Sanchez can get the role of the year if he gets say 20 home runs and the Yankees get a wild card spot?
Klaw: Rookie of the Year? Yes but the Yankees making the playoffs is totally irrelevant.

Jefe: Whose future do you prefer: Yusniel Diaz or Ronald Acuna?
Klaw: I feel more sure about Acuna but I think Diaz has a higher offensive ceiling.

Jason: Now that we have hindsight in our favor, why did the cash-strapped A’s splurge on Billy Butler in the first place? That seemed like a bad contract before the ink even had dried.
Klaw: Dunno. Never understood that deal. Lot of money to commit to a player with an average upside and no positional flexibility. It seems like a more classic Oakland move would be to find a player who could hit but had no position, like a Vogelbach, and acquire him on the cheap because his current club had no place to play him.

Dabo: As a Pirates fan, how worried should I be that Josh Bell won’t ever be able to play even replacement level defense at first?
Klaw: R-level defense at first is a low bar. You should worry he won’t get to average. That’s a reasonable concern given where he is now.

Elton: Based on your recommendation I picked up Patchwork and got my wife to play it with me (a rarity) and we enjoyed it. Thanks for that. I’ll pick up Jaipur to try next.
Klaw: That’s great to hear. I’ll have reviews in the next few weeks of two more great two-player games: 7 Ronin and Agamemnon.

Brad: Is it me, or does the political discourse in this country get dumber by the day? Large portions of the citizenry are up in arms over non-issues while ignoring ones that will impact the next twenty years of their lives. Is the system redeemable or is it time to hitch up the wagon and leave?
Klaw: It is depressing. I feel like the issues get harder – things like addressing climate change – and the voting public and the media are less capable of understanding them or less willing to make the effort. The decline of print journalism isn’t helping matters either.

Alex: Any chance Mitch Keller is in your next top 25?
Klaw: No, because I can only put 25 players in there.

marty: What’s your favorite Wire album?
Klaw: Probably Chairs Missing. Although A Bell is a Cup is a great title.

Urban: Severino is only 22. The Yankees should go into 2017 with him as a starter. Or do you think he should stay in the pen?
Klaw: I have always thought he’d struggle as a starter due to his delivery and would be more successful in the pen. So I’d leave him there.

Isaac: Jahmai Jones!! Top 50 prospect POTENTIAL or is he just an Angel so he looks like a star compared to the rest?
Klaw: He’s their only position player prospect whom I’d project as an above-average regular. That doesn’t make him any less of a guy but when you’re starving everything looks like a meal.

Pete: Pirates seem to think Will Craig can stick at 3rd if he improves his quickness and conditioning via offseason training. Is there something particular about Craig that would make them think this or just a general scouting axiom that improving athleticism improves defense? Can you think of examples when this actually happened?
Klaw: I’d characterize that as an experiment worth trying, but with a low chance of success. We heard that a lot about Ryan Braun when he was at third. That didn’t work out.

Elton: If Trump wasn’t such a bizarre person a lot of this year’s election would boil down to how you feel about immigrants. How do you feel about them?
Klaw: My grandfather was one. Four of my great-grandparents were also immigrants. So you might guess how I feel from that. Also, the “debate” over immigrants tends to focus on a small subset of the immigrant population, ignoring how many immigrants come to this country and make substantial economic or cultural contributions. Closing our borders would hinder or stop economic growth. It’s bad policy, before we even discuss moral aspects.

Eugene: The Cubs shift the least in all of baseball but I think lead in DRS. If you have great individual defenders you don’t need to shift, or is this just contextual based on opponents? Maddon shifted a lot in Tampa, Cubs front office are known for being analytical, so it’s peculiar.
Klaw: I also think they’re positioning guys without getting classified as fully shifting. Shift is not a binary variable.

David: As much as I appreciate your sports writing, particularly the focus on baseball prospects, I’m so glad you have this personal web site to post game and book reviews. I particularly like your SF reviews. My family has bought a number of your recommended games and I currently have Doomsday on my bedside table. You have a great track record. Thanks.
Klaw: Thanks! I’m always writing with the hope that someone’s reading. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it.

BD: Is T Turner better than you expected? Power, bat control of insider corner, etc? Long term SS or CF
Klaw: Power, yes. That part I’m not so sure about long-term. Oh, fun with numbers – Turner’s at 2.9 rWAR this year in 50 games, playing CF and 2B rather than SS. That number, unadjusted for position, would be the sixth-highest in Rays history for any shortstop … and sixth-highest in Padres history. Those two franchises combined have had exactly three seasons where a shortstop posted 4+ WAR. Ever.

Elton: Have you played any of the Cthulhu-themed board games? I have Arkham Horror and every time I open it to try a solo game I am daunted by the setup alone.
Klaw: Only Elder Sign, which we like quite a bit.

Tom: I’m surprised Mondesi didn’t make you list of prospects with bad years. With a .176/.222/.261 line over 132 plate appearances, is it safe to say he is the most rushed to the majors prospect of the last five years? Has his long-term prospects been diminished by this year?
Klaw: He didn’t belong in the majors but the 80-game suspension didn’t help matters either.

Tom: Perhaps this is over-simplifying things, but doesn’t the fact that our country is choosing between Hillary Clinton and DONALD F’ING TRUMP for our nation’s highest office a good sign that “Hey maybe America ISN’T great anymore?”
Klaw: Clinton was basically anointed four years ago as one candidate, and Trump won by dog-whistling white supremacist nonsense for six months. So I’d say the process is pretty flawed all around. John Oliver’s piece on what utter bullshit the selection processes are for both parties was fairly stark evidence that there are some things we will never be able to change because too many people derive too much benefit from the way they currently are.

Tim: What’s the deal with Ryan Schimpf? Will he be a MLB regular going forward?
Klaw: Nope. Nice story, but a fluke.

Tom: Should I be happy that you were right about CJ Cron having a bit of a breakout season this year, or sad that he’s 3rd on the team in WAR for field players despite missing time this year?
Klaw: I’m happy! My breakout picks were Lamb, Myers, Odor, Cron, Schoop, Hicks, Ray, Joe Ross, Ketel Marte. Hicks and Marte are the only duds, I think. Ross had a great half-season and everyone else on the list at least showed significant improvement.

Urban: Re: Elton’s question on immigrants. That’s not the question. It’s about illegal immigrants. Why does that get lost in the discussion?
Klaw: I think that is the question, though: how many immigrants should we allow to enter the country legally, and what should we do with those who enter illegally but are leading productive lives here? FWIW, at least one of my ancestors came here illegally and I’m not even sure about some of the rest.

Rob: Can a player’s defensive metrics be affected by his teammate – meaning can an adjacent fielder who covers a lot of ground take balls that his teammate could’ve fielded?
Klaw: Advanced metrics take this into account. Teams’ internal metrics are well beyond what we see publicly too.

Mark: Was Keon Barnum much of a prospect heading into his draft year? Wth happened to this guy??
Klaw: He was not a top 100 prospect for me. I saw a poor 1b with no plan at the plate.

Anonymous: Thandi for the chats, you rock. You were right about Yoan Moncado not being ready for a meaningful stint in the show, given his propensity for striking out. Do you think he can/will make the adjustments needs to reduce his strike outs to a level needed to be succesful at the mlb level?
Klaw: I’d give him more than an even chance to do that but have tried to argue – perhaps poorly – all year that he’s got a higher failure risk than Benintendi or Devers.

Scott Upham: Surprised that Clint Frazier didn’t show up in the article as well. It seems like the promotion to AAA and trade to NY stalled his progress a bit. .228 average, .278 OBP, 30-7 K/BB, low power numbers in 122 at bats just 3 homers.
Klaw: Really young for AAA though. And he was great in AA so no reason to call his season a disappointment.

Ben: Yes or No: Citizens United should be overturned? America is an oligarchy? Republican party will still exist 50 years from now?
Klaw: Yes, sort of, and definitely.

Chris: I’m somewhat surprised to see that shortstop has three times the positional adjustment as center field, per the Fangraphs formulas (7.5 vs 2.5.) Do you concur with those numbers, give or take? I guess I always assumed that CF was positionially more or less equal to SS.
Klaw: Shortstop and catcher have historically been the hardest to fill so those players get the biggest adjustments (benefits) for their positions.

Joe: If you were managing the Cubs, who would you prefer to be in your 2 hole?
Klaw: That’s just not an appropriate question, Joe.

Tom: At what point can we start to assess what kind of difference Billy Eppler is making?
Klaw: Going to be a few years, I think.

Brandon: Who’s the Dodgers best position prospect not name Bellinger, Verdugo, or Calhoun?
Klaw: Probably Diaz for me. Unless I’m forgetting someone? Been a long chat already.

addoeh: Need to try Xoco in Chicago as another Bayless restaurant. Really good.
Klaw: I’ve heard this and yes I do.

Sriram: Vis a vis the Jones stuff – did the trend towards MBA-Ivy League driven front offices negatively impact minority hiring at the baseball ops level … shifting away from the “ex-baseball guy” …
Klaw: I wonder this too. There are plenty of people of color at Ivy League schools – diversity was already a huge buzzword when I was in school 25 years ago. But it cut off the path you described, where a player who didn’t make it would retire and go into scouting or coaching.

Rick: Saw that Walker Buehler’ velocity is up after TJ, is that normal? And where would you rank him in the Dodgers pitching prospects?
Klaw: Not up, just back to pre-injury levels. Skinny kid with a good slider and, when not hurt, average command. Chance for a third starter if he holds up.

Colin: Any quick takes on the Padres medical info sharing (or lack thereof)?
Klaw: I really don’t have enough info to comment either way.

Pat: The main issue with the Presidential selection system is that the primary’s cater to the extremes of both parties. The idealogues are the one’s the pay the most attention & vote in the primarys, while middle-of-the-road people either don’t or don’t in very large #’s. I almost wonder if it was better back in the days of the parties picking candidates in smoke filled rooms.
Klaw: I agree that the moderates get drowned out in this process, and unfortunately neither third party on the ballot now has produced a credible centrist alternative. Jill Stein’s pandering to conspiracy theorists and nut jobs has been particularly disappointing; if nothing else I’d expect the Green Party to stand firmly with science, but I guess science doesn’t bring in the votes.

Klaw: That’s all for this week’s chat – thank you as always for joining me. I’ll be back next week to do it all over again.

Stick to baseball, 9/10/16.

No Insider content this week, as I was working on my book – including an interview with an executive the other day that ran over two hours and took forever to transcribe – but I did hold a Klawchat because I’m such a nice guy.

My latest game review for Paste covers the five-minute card game 3 Wishes, a very fast-moving with a deck of just 18 cards in a similar vein to Love Letter or Coup.

And now, the links…

Doomsday Book.

Connie Willis is one of the most decorated science fiction writers ever, with eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards, as well as induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Her 1998 novel To Say Nothing of the Dog, a Hugo winner, is one of my favorite sci-fi novels, a tight mash-up of a comedy of manners and a time travel story along with a send-up of a classic Brit Lit novel. That book was set in the same universe as her 1992 novel Doomsday Book, which won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards for best sci-fi novel, and explores much darker subject matter: how we respond to unthinkable disaster and human suffering.

Willis has crafted rules around her fictional time travel that manage to give it sufficient plausibility so that suspending your disbelief isn’t really an issue. Her time travelers are historians heading into the past for research purposes (usually), and do so under tightly controlled conditions. Heading into the past to alter history isn’t permitted by spacetime itself; anyone heading through to create such a paradox simply won’t be allowed to enter the “net” of time travel. And there’s “slippage” in time, the difference between when you arrive and when you were trying to arrive, which the researchers attribute to spacetime’s attempts to avoid even minor incidents like having you appear out of nowhere in the middle of a crowd of people who’d think you were an alien or a witch.

In Doomsday Book, a young woman in Oxford’s history department named Kivrin is heading back to 1320 England to examine village life of the time and as a prelude to a future research trip back to the Black Death, which began in England in 1348. Unfortunately, as soon as she steps through the net into the past, the main technician who organized the drop, Badri, falls horribly ill with a new strain of influenza, touching off an epidemic in modern-day Oxford … with Kivrin unfortunately falling sick as she arrives in the past. Something has gone wrong with the drop, but Badri is near death and unable to tell anyone why or to explain how they will retrieve Kivrin at the scheduled rendezvous time and place. Kivrin, meanwhile, ends up involved in a separate epidemic, as the plague arrives in the village where she’s staying, and since she’s been vaccinated she is the only person there with immunity to the disease. Her response, as the only person in her time and place who understands the nature of the plague, and the responses of those in the modern time are the real focus of the book, from those thinking first and foremost about the victims to those stuck in the mindset of adhering to policy or those unable to give up their own goals even when it puts others at grave risk.

Willis is an outstanding writer in every aspect of the term, from plot to pacing to character development, but two things particularly stand out in Doomsday Book. One is her ability to still weave humor into a story that is incredibly dark and full of tragedy, with many deaths of named characters in both timelines. William Gaddson, an undergraduate who is rather successful with the young ladies but whose overbearing mother thinks he’s a fragile, innocent boy who studies too hard, provides regular comic relief and even plays a real role in the plot. The American bell choir stuck inside the quarantine zone is almost absurd in its zeal to put on a show regardless of conditions. The assistant Finch’s obsession with “lavatory paper” is similar in its “oh my God is he still on about that” nature.

One of the first symptoms of this influenza strain is mental confusion, and Willis manages to impart that to the reader without actually confusing the reader about what’s happening. That is, when the character at the center of the action gets sick and begins to suffer the confusion, Willis gets that across in ways that don’t cause the reader to lose understanding of what’s happening. I found I realized some things weren’t making sense, so the character’s confusion was tangible, but I also could follow what was happening as an observer (since it’s written entirely in the third person) rather than just getting lost myself. That balance is a neat trick and takes a skilled writer to pull off.

Doomsday Book touches on some significant themes, notably some of the characters’ difficulty in reconciling their belief in God with the horrors of the epidemics before them and the deaths of friends and family members. Some fall to disbelief, others to superstition or belief that it’s God’s vengeance. Those who remain after the epidemics have ended, however, seem to all have come to some appreciation of the kindness and mercy of others, even those facing their own deaths, in the face of unimaginable fear and difficulty. Kivrin’s final encounter with a dying plague victim provides the most moving, insightful scene of the book, even though both characters see the situation from almost perfectly opposed perspectives.

As with To Say Nothing of the Dog and Willis’ shorter novel Bellwether, which I read in June and loved but never had time to review, I couldn’t put Doomsday Book down, reading its nearly 600 pages in just over a week. I’ll have to get to her most recent novel in the Oxford universe, the 2010 two-part novel Blackout/All Clear, which also swept the major awards and runs over 1,000 pages in total.

Next up: I read Philip José Farmer’s Hugo winner To Your Scattered Bodies Go this week and hated just about everything about it. I’m about to start Laurent Binet’s World War II novel HHhH today, which has to be better.

Klawchat 9/8/16.

You can pre-order my book, Smart Baseball, on amazon already. It’s due out April 27th.

Klaw: It’s enough to make you stop believing when the tears come fast and furious in Klawchat.

Owen: Lets say you’re scouting a high school kid who’s not even touching 90 yet. What things do you look for as indicators that he has the upside to grow into more velocity and just a better pitcher overall?
Klaw: Physical projection is the biggest thing, and it includes room for the player to fill out, adding upper and lower body strength, which tends to favor taller pitchers but shouldn’t exclude shorter ones entirely. I also prefer guys whose deliveries work reasonably well, as opposed to pitchers with deliveries that are “max” or high effort (where are you going to get more velocity from?) or that otherwise seem likely to impede command or health. One other thing I’ll note is that I am more open to HS arms throwing in the upper 80s today than I was ten years ago, because of what we have learned about velocity/effort and pitcher health.

Jonathan Orr: You’ve said you’re not high on Luke Weaver, what don’t you like?
Klaw: Undersized righty without plane or a decent breaking ball.

Sandy A.: Asking for a friend, what do the Mets have to lose by signing Tebow? I mean other than respect and time developing real prospects
Klaw: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Oh, I guess also the distraction of having him around. And will the washed-up QB actually be that much of a draw for a minor league affiliate? He’s basically a sports Kardashian. He’s famous for being famous, not for being good at anything.

ssimo02: Would you care to expand on your distaste for xFIP? My understanding is that, like FIP, it looks at a pitcher’s walks and strikeouts, but unlike FIP, it replaces the pitcher’s HR rate with the league average HR rate, on the assumption that almost all pitchers regress to that mean over time. According to Fangraphs, xFIP has a very high correlation with future pitching performance. As a quick-and-dirty projection tool, what’s not to like?
Klaw: The assumption you cite is the problem.

Lars: Being reported that it’s “likely Walker will lengthen his stride” – this is something you’ve advocated for, right? Can you explain why he might have gone to a shorter stride and what a longer stride can help with?
Klaw: I assume this is Taijuan? Then yes. I oppose pitchers with short strides because they nearly all end up either getting hurt or losing something on their pitches, either velocity on their fastballs or quality of the breaking ball. Aaron Sanchez is the only real short-striding starter I see in the majors now. ASMI has some real research showing that short striders have these problems due to the higher release point and abrupt finish. Arizona shortened Tyler Skaggs’ stride and he lost about 3 mph and blew out. Walker lost his curveball and hasn’t ever really had command since he shortened his stride. The stride length is my one big concern on Alex Reyes, whose stuff is otherwise unbelievable.

Kim: What kind of numbers are available to teams that aren’t to the general public through BR/Fangraphs/PITCHf/x, etc.?
Klaw: A lot. MLB’s Statcast product is providing a torrent of data that we don’t get to see.

Hattie B: Thoughts on (Nashville) hot chicken?
Klaw: I’ve never had it. I don’t love very spicy food (and it loves me even less).

Jill: When are you going to let your daughter get Snapchat?
Klaw: Probably never.

Republican: Any reason why people shouldn’t consider voting for Gary Johnson? He seems to be the most sane.
Klaw: It would be nice if he knew what Aleppo was (or if the US media spent more time covering the human disaster of Syria). He’s also done his share of pandering to the anti-vax nut jobs, and his site refers to government efforts to fight climate change as “a political agenda,” a sort of backdoor form of denial (yeah, man is causing climate change, but the government shouldn’t do anything to stop it) that I can’t support.

John: Buxton has been on a tear since he was called up again. Is this just small sample size or did he alter his approach or mechanics?
Klaw: I know of no change in approach or mechanics, and it’s just seven games, but I’m happy to see it.

Brett: Why do you think the Twins didn’t call up ABW or Garver when they’re giving consistent ABs to Schafer and Centeno?
Klaw: Walker has 202 strikeouts this season. Those are good reasons.

Nelson: Do AFL performances have any bearing on your preseason top 100 rankings?
Klaw: Performances do not, but I will go scout players there and talk to other scouts who’ll cover the league, so how players look at that time will have a definite bearing.

Bruce: Maybe Im having some selction bias, but rookie hitters doing so much better than rookie pitchers this year. Even looking at the distibution in top prospect lists, are we in a down cycle for pitching prospects?
Klaw: I’ve mentioned this before but I think differences between the minor and major league baseballs are the root cause.

Tye: How historically impressive has Brian Dozier been since the AS break? It seems like you don’t even hear anything about him.
Klaw: Playing for a non-contender doesn’t help. I wrote in June that he should be in the All-Star Game over Nunez as the Twins’ rep and was told by a couple of Twins fans that this was dumb because Dozier was having a bad season.

Chris: Please rank in terms of ceiling: Gsellman, Montero, Lugo
Klaw: None of those guys are especially high ceiling but I think Gsellman is the most likely to be a quality major-league starter. Lugo’s great spin rates are fun to discuss but if he doesn’t miss bats or generate weaker contact, then I’m not sure this emphasis is properly placed.

Marshall: Klaw, how did the idea for a book come about, was it your idea, was it suggested to you by your agent or a publisher?
Klaw: It was my idea, but it was also your idea. I am asked at least once a week to recommend a book like the one I’m writing, and I didn’t have a book to recommend, so I decided to write it. I have had publishers approach me before, but when they had concrete ideas they were dumb ones – someone just wanted to put my name on a book and hope it would sell because I have an audience. I didn’t want to write a book I wouldn’t want to read.

Clay: Does Buxton have potential to be as good defensively in center as Kiermaier?
Klaw: That’s a very high bar but I think Buxton’s speed and arm could make him a top 3 CF in baseball.

Nick: Javy Baez is the best tagger I’ve ever seen, recording multiple outs with lightening quick tags it seems like nobody else has the ability to make. Is this something that scouts discuss and factor into their glove grading, or is it more of a cherry on top?
Klaw: Never heard anyone cite it for Baez or any other player, but it’s pretty clearly a way he delivers value and is also fucking awesome to watch.

Michael: Are minor league players exposed to scouting reports? I almost never see shifts or catchers moving in and out, for example. Is there ever a fear that a player will struggle to process all the new information available in the big leagues?
Klaw: Yes. The Astros shift at all levels of their minors, to pick one example.

Jon: Hey Keith it feels like every year there are players in the PCL and in particular Las Vegas that have huge statistical outputs (Nimmo this year) but we are always told to ignore these due to the ball park. Is it that teams are comfortable with their in house scouting that the numbers don’t matter or is Las Vegas the last place teams want their affiliate due to ballpark? If this truley is the worst spot to have your affiliate why not bump them down to AA and have another city with a proper stadium take over a AAA team? I’m sensing that this is all about money but I’d like to know your thoughts.
Klaw: Nobody wants their affiliate in Vegas or Albuquerque or Lancaster or High Desert (RIP) for that matter. But the problem with the AAA clubs is that there aren’t just cities sitting around with seven-figure populations and AAA-ready stadiums. At least with the Cal League teams that are folding, MILB had a handful of moderate-sized towns in NC (and I think in VA if they wanted to go that route) that could support A-ball clubs.

T: TINSTAAPP and all but is Dylan Cease a legit TOR prospect? His last 5 games for Eugene are crazy: 21 IP, 39 Ks, 7 hits, 1 ER
Klaw: Yes, that’s why he was on my top 100 in the winter. Just gotta stay healthy.

James: Any chance Tim Tebow goes from instructs to the Fall League this year? Can you imagine?
Klaw: The guy struggled to turn around 88 in his workout. I clocked three guys at 100 mph last AFL and there was at least one more. That’ll be fun.

James: Know anything about the rift between Mike Bell and DeJon Watson in AZ? I assume you would probably side with Watson? He was the only guy I was somewhat happy with when the Dbacks signed the front office trio..
Klaw: I don’t know anything about it, but “siding” with someone is a weird way to put it. But I’ll stick up for Mike Bell here – he’s a star and should be getting attention for VP-type roles or even GM openings in the near future.

Chris: Based on your strong scientific beliefs, why aren’t you vegan?
Klaw: One, because the science behind veganism as a more healthful diet is nowhere near what you imply it is. Two, because I like meat.

Mitchell: Thoughts on Michael Gettys? Big progress or no?
Klaw: No progress at all. Repeated low-A with still awful plate discipline, moved to a hitter’s park, continued awful plate discipline. Great athlete, big tools, but that swing and approach right now are not going to produce an average hit tool.

Harrisburg Hal: When he played the position, was Josh Bell and average outfielder?
Klaw: I thought he was at least an average LF, but they have some well above-average defensive OFs in Pittsburgh.

Jake: Do you always stay in hotels when you travel? Ever Airbnb or friends or anything else?
Klaw: Never, unless I’m visiting family.

Frank: I read a piece recently which said that Devon Travis was overlooked as a prospect, because he does many things well, but nothing spectacularly. The argument was that it takes several viewings to realize that he is really quite good, but a single viewing will not show his whole game. Does the logic of the argument make sense to you as a scout, and what could you do to mitigate that type of problem?
Klaw: I saw that piece; it grafted a narrative on to the story after the fact. No one is really just seeing a prospect once. I might see a player once myself, but then I talk to multiple scouts who’ve probably seen a player 3-6 games apiece, more if it’s an area guy seeing a top draft prospect.

Archie: Will a pitcher who spends the majority of his career with the Rockies ever put up the numbers necessary to get into the Hall of Fame, no matter how good he might be?
Klaw: Don’t think so. Hitters are having a hard time too because we (myself included, yes) find it hard to cope with their stats.

Chris: What did you think of De Leon’s debut?
Klaw: Looked good, glad to see him throw strikes, but that Padres’ lineup is pretty awful.

Some guy: I had a really good question but I forgot what it was. What’s the answer anyway?
Klaw: The answer is 42.

Avi: Pirates fan located in Israel! Huge fan of your work! Any possibility that Barrett Barnes is beginning to show the tools that made him a supplemental first? He’s been injured for large chunks of his career, but he really seems to be putting together in AA. Is this a product of him being a bit older for that level or is there some upside remaining?
Klaw: Fourth outfielder. Thought he was a bit of a reach as a supplemental first guy. Real problem now is he’s limited to LF and doesn’t have the power to profile there.

Drew: Assuming the worst about Strasburg, is it fair to pin this on Dusty?
Klaw: I’ve seen that going around today and I don’t understand why. What did Baker do wrong? What could he possibly have done better?

Roberto: True or false: Josh Bell puts up an .800+ OPS next season?
Klaw: I’ll go with True. I’m a believer.

Hugo Z: So are you going to watch this new show about the first female pitcher? The actress looks like she couldn’t throw her way out of a wet paper bag.
Klaw: I’m not, mostly because I find baseball in fiction is often excruciating to watch or read. I haven’t seen her try to throw, though.

Wade: haven’t seen anything on the meadow about seattle. ever been? any good food recs for a non-coffee drinker?
Klaw: Horrible to say but I haven’t been to the Pacific Northwest in 15 years. There’s just never a good reason to go for work and it’s a PITA to get there from here.

Tim: Get your hands on TV (The Book) yet? (mine just arrived). I’m not sure I agree with their #1. Thoughts?
Klaw: I have a copy on my shelf but haven’t cracked it yet.

Albert: Keith, I feel like Mike Trout has separated himself from the pack in the MVP race the last few weeks. Do you think he has any reasonable chance of winning it?
Klaw: I think he has zero chance because derp-playoffs-derp.

Gavin: My wife loves easier-to-learn boardgames like Machi Koro, Takenoko, and Mysterium. I just bought Camel Up (thanks for your review), but do you have any recommendations for easier-to-learn games that are still complex enough to be fun for people who like a little more strategy?
Klaw: Check out my rankings from last November, which also has a separate ranking of top games for two players. Splendor is definitely your speed. Dominion’s quick to learn with lots of complexity. Jaipur’s a great little two-player game that never really gets old for us. Agamemnon is a new title I played at GenCon that has that Jaipur feel – very simple rules, lots of thinking going on.

David: Keith, which(if any) of Oscar De La Cruz, Dylan Cease, Trevor Clifton, and Jeimer Candelario have a chance to make your top 100?
Klaw: Cease was on it last year. Can’t say about any of the others as I won’t even think about those rankings until December.

Pete: Do you start Wainwright or Martinez in the Wild Card game assuming both are available and Cards make it?
Klaw: I would start Martinez, but I would bet my house they’ll start Wainwright.

Mike: Did you say, recently, that you’ll have a top prospects for the 2017 draft coming soon ?
Klaw: I did, but our editors pushed it back a little. Chris Crawford took the lead on assembling the list (he saw team USA, area codes, and the PG All-American Classic) and I helped tweak it and gather more info.

David: Keith, Ryan Kellogg seems to check off a decent amount of boxes. Size, durability, control, seems hard to hit. But is his velo ever going to jump or is he an 87-88 type of guy with back end of the rotation being his absolute upside?
Klaw: Don’t think his velo will ever exceed that and I don’t project him as a starter.

Casey: Moncada’s platinum (?) sombrero, with 7 straight Ks over two games, is frightening. Do you think that calling him up so soon is likely to harm his development, or are these struggles and adjustments that he’d need to make sooner or later?
Klaw: Don’t think it’ll harm him – that’s a small risk, but a real one – but it comes back to what I wrote last week, that I don’t see how he really solves any particular need for them.

Marshall: Has Gonsalves performance this year raised his profile at all in your opinion?
Klaw: Not really. Two-pitch starter struggles with the breaking ball. Walked a lot of guys in double-A but was young for the level (turned 22 on July 8th). Back end starter?

Cole: Is Kendall Graveman becoming a serviceable back of the rotation starter?
Klaw: In Oakland, sure. Anywhere else, I doubt it.

Mike: True or false … Bo Bichette had the best first pro season of any player drafted in 2016.
Klaw: I don’t know, and I’m a big believer in Bo’s bat, but his brother may have had the best first pro season of any player drafted in 2011 and how’d that work out for him?

Chris: Should the Nats bring Reynaldo Lopez on their postseason roster as an extra bullpen guy?
Klaw: I would. I think he’d be dynamite in short relief, and could go 2-3 innings if need be.

jay: do you still recommend that Artaste cleaver, or do you have a new recommendation?
Klaw: It’s what I own and I doubt I’ll need another one for a few decades.

Marcus: The Giants broadcast crew, during last night’s game against the Rockies, mentioned that Nolan Arenado’s brother Jonah had been named MVP of the Giant’s Single-A team in San Jose. It looks like he has some power, but doesn’t walk much and Ks a lot. Can he develop into a major league talent?
Klaw: I liked his swing when I saw him in 2013 but a 21-year-old can’t put up a .286 OBP in A-ball and be any sort of prospect.

Marshall: Doesn’t the justified uproar over the price gouging by Mylan (epi-pen) and Turing Pharma (daraphrim) show the inherent failures of the free market as it relates to the healthcare industry? Health care is an inelastic good, and actual life and death is on the line in these cases.
Klaw: I’ve had the same thought, but am nothing more than a spectator when it comes to the economics of health care. The proper functioning of a free market depends on a lot of things being in place, like low barriers to entry, perfect information, elastic supply and demand, and so on. Most of these fall apart in the market for health care, unfortunately.

section 34: Peter Angelos fires Duquette and hires you, and President Trump orders you to take the job (or some other such scenario where you can’t say no.) How do you proceed? (No fair saying “move to Macau.”)
Klaw: Depends on what Angelos wants, doesn’t it? If the mandate is “win now,” then you go out and find pitching any way you can, which to me would mean making the entire system other than Sisco (who might be the catcher by June 1) available in trade. And you’d have to find a way to work with Buck, who wields as much power as any manager outside of Scioscia.

Tom: Are you seeing Giolito making any improvements or adjustments? Are you still as high on him as the sample size is growing?
Klaw: The sample size remains minuscule. My outlook for him has not changed.

Lucas Giolito: Will I ever hit 99 or 100 again?
Klaw: You haven’t done that since high school, pre-TJ, when you were pitching once a week.

A’s Brand Merlot: Thank you for dissing xFIP. As an ordinary fan I hate the strident way that stat is yielded by other fans, and I also dislike the stat because it doesn’t describe what happened in reality. What other stats do you think are being misused right now? Is FIP itself of value? Should we be using Runs Average instead of ERA?
Klaw: FIP has value and flaws, but I think it’s a viable shorthand for the pitching peripherals we want to look at, reducing some of the noise of ERA at the cost of throwing out some signal too. I always look at RA as well as ERA. I think exit velocity and spin rate are cited too frequently given the paucity of research on their predictive value. (They may have a ton of predictive value. I suspect they will, somehow. I just don’t see any evidence on the subject either way.)

CD: Matt Chapman…power is exciting and obviously legit, but the Ks are a huge problem. He takes his walks, so we know it’s mostly a contact issue. Is there anything the team can do to help him out, or is this just who he’s always gonna be?
Klaw: I think this is who he is. If I told you you could have a player with a 4 bat, 7 power, 7 glove (maybe 8?), 8 arm at third base, you’d take that, right? Useful player if ugly to watch at the plate sometimes?

Tom: It seems like pitchers who come to the D-Backs via signing or trade are significantly worse while pitching here and then generally improve once they move on to another team. Is this park effects, something the organization is doing? Something else?
Klaw: I think they’re having some real issues developing pitchers, especially in working with mechanics. It’s funny to see because they got Robbie Ray and lengthened his stride out so he could finish better over his front side; his velo ticked up and his breaking stuff got way better. Then they’ve screwed up a bunch of other guys, especially Miller, who did at least look much more like his 2015 self in his first start back from his free-agency-delaying trip to Reno.

Jim: No question, just a random fact unrelated to anything in the news: the Mets own their FL St League affiliate in PSL.
Klaw: Thank you – I had this question in my head this morning. I believe they own the Cyclones too.

Cole: During the spring, you wrote about being impressed by Daniel Gossett and he has backed it up with a solid year? Do you see him as a future big league starter? Is he in consideration for a spot in the Top 100?
Klaw: I do think he’s a starter. As I said above, I do not have much of an idea of who’ll be in the back of the top 100.

Drew: I’m looking forward to your book! Given the fact that I have a daughter who’s about to turn two, I do much more listening to audiobooks than actual reading in the traditional sense these days. Will there be an audio version of Smart Baseball, and do you think you may narrate it?
Klaw: I’ve been asked a few questions like that – will there be an audiobook, will I do a book tour, will there be a Spanish version – but unfortunately I don’t know any of these answers. They’re mostly up to Harper Collins. As I know anything more, I’ll be sure to let everyone know on the dish and via my email newsletter.

EC: Are O’s making the right call with Bundy? You’ve said he is what he is at this point, and with his shoulder is likely to not stick around too long, so worth using what you have while you can?
Klaw: I don’t know for sure that he is what he is at this point – I fear that’s the case – but he hasn’t looked great the last 4-5 times out there and I worry that he’s now pitching fatigued, which, given his history, is not what I would recommend.

Phil: Not sure how many Jays games you watch. Bautista does not seem like the same player. Do you think his bat speed has slowed down this year? It sure seems like he can’t hit a fastball anymore.
Klaw: I said just this on TSN 1050 this morning. I think age has cost him some bat speed and the foot injury may have cost him some power.

dca: Why don’t teams convert failed prospects to pitcher more frequently, a la Mychael Givens? Is Givens that much of an outlier?
Klaw: Givens was a pitching prospect in HS. I think I ranked him as a pitcher in his draft, not as a shortstop, because I didn’t think he could hit.

Sebastian: Touki Toussaint had a relief appearance and struck out 3 in an inning. While the Braves will keep him as a starter as long as they can, do you think he ultimately ends up in the pen? And, if so, what’s his ceiling there?
Klaw: I think he’s a starter. Athletic, loose, shows three pitches, smart kid, just raw. Gotta be patient with the baby Braves.

Marshall: The power that Dozier has developed over the last few years seems really out of character in comparison to his early scouting reports and minor league numbers, can you think of any other players that had something similar happen to them when they made the bigs?
Klaw: Matt Duffy’s 2015 season comes to mind.

Rob: Bryan Mitchell has a good arm, but has never K’d many batters. He does seem to have a good sinking fastball. What’s his upside?
Klaw: Middle reliever.

Gus: Thanks for talking about your anxiety. It’s helped to review your past comments as I’ve been dealing with my latest bought. Any recommendations for meditating (apps, books, youtube)?
Klaw: Fully Present is the book I always recommend. InsightLA’s website has some good free downloads for meditation too.

Tom: Is a player’s service time affected by time on a postseason roster, or is it only regular-season games that matter?
Klaw: Only regular season games.

Doug: I saw where you were planning to do one board game review per week on Paste. What are some of your upcoming reviews?
Klaw: My 3 Wishes review just went up today. I’ve already filed reviews of Saloon Tycoon and New Bedford, and need to write up 7 Ronin this week. I think I have eight unreviewed games in the house already and more coming.

Scrapper: Would K Hendricks be top five in NL Cy Young voting on your ballot? If not, why?
Klaw: Probably not because that would be giving him too much credit for what his defense has done for him.

Mikey: Any concern over Cubs’ lack of hitting with RISP? Could be a problem in the playoffs.
Klaw: No because that is still, as ever, not a separate skill from “hitting.”

Albert: I was a bit confused by your book review this week. Do you not believe there is any science behind the power of positive thinking? I highly recommend The Happiness Advantage. Changed my life.
Klaw: There’s quite a bit of science on the harm of “positive thinking” approaches, especially those that preach against allowing any negative thoughts. Burkeman discusses some of that as well. But if you’ve found something that works for you, go for it. I wouldn’t tell you to scrap that and do something else.

JG: AA is rumored to be a candidate for the prez of baseball operations for the Twins. Would he be a good hire?
Klaw: He’d be an outstanding hire. He really fits what they have said they’re looking for.

Bruce: Brandon Woodruff has had a nice season at Brevard County and Biloxi. Does he have a future as a starting pitcher?
Klaw: Yes, definitely.

Ron: You once had Starlin Castro as high as #12 on your top 100 prospects. What do you think happened with him? He’s still surprisingly young, so is there any hope that he can even remotely live up to the promise he once showed?
Klaw: Lot of things, inability to learn/make adjustments foremost among them.

Jeff: Severino looks like a completely different pitcher in the pen. Do you think it makes sense to keep him there as a potentially dominant innings eater in high leverage situations?
Klaw: I have always believed he was more likely to be a reliever than a starter, and the way he was used last night was perfect. I killed Joe G for using Betances in a third straight game on Tuesday but I have to praise him for getting Severino in that long relief spot yesterday.

JB: Mr. Law, Odor is arguably the best player on the best team in the AL, but I haven’t seen any MVP hype for him. Thoughts?
Klaw: He’s 15th in the AL in OBP. From the bottom.

Dave: Has Josh Hader done enough this year to change your opinion on him being a starting pitcher?
Klaw: The delivery hasn’t changed, nor has the stuff, so no.

Marshall: If the Twins called would you answer, or is your current gig just too good (work/life balance, time with your daughter, seemingly good editorial freedom) for you to entertain a change at this juncture in your life?
Klaw: If the Twins called, I would recommend three candidates who are more qualified than I am.

Stomper: Richie Martin hit .230 in the Cal League this year. I know he was a 20 y/o draft pick and young for the league, but that is still wildly disappointing for a first round pick out of the SEC. Do you think the A’s can get him back to his good Cape League swing, or is that a pipe dream considering his struggles his draft year too?
Klaw: I was very disappointed with what I saw from him that spring, so I’m not totally shocked … okay, a little shocked that he struggled like that, slugging .312 even with all those road games in hitters’ parks. Still just 21, but that’s a terrible first year out for an SEC product and first rounder.

Rob: Your thoughts on Heinlein. I was surprised to see there’s been some backlash towards him based on perceived political opinions.
Klaw: Only read a couple of his books and have yet to read the big two titles but I enjoy his work. He was adamant that his fiction did not express political views, though.

Stomper: IIRC, Heath Filmeyer was a two way player in HS and didn’t pitch full time until JC. Given his age, lack of experience, and performance to date, what type of floor/ceiling does he have?
Klaw: Yep, that’s correct. I think he could end up an average starter and is at least a major league bullpen guy. I had him ranked as a top 100 guy, about third round, and still don’t understand why he fell to the fifth when he was totally signable and was not a secret name (there were a dozen guys there the day I saw him). Athletic, arm works, had two pitches already.

Matt: I know you’ve long been a Mike Foltynewicz fan, and he’s shown some flashes of brilliance this year, but has also been incredibly inconsistent. Is there anything you’ve seen or heard to make you think it could all still come together for him? He’s still just 24.
Klaw: I would take his year overall as a positive step. His control, which was awful at times last year, has been the best of his pro career, both in walks and generally in throwing strikes. I’m very optimistic on his future as a starter.

Sriram: If there is a game 163, what are the roster rules? 25-man, 40-man … is it treated like a fresh playoff round (postseason eligibility and whatnot)?
Klaw: It’s a regular season game (I think). I know the game counts towards regular-season stats.

TJ: JaCoby Jones likely outcome- minor leaguer/bench MLBer, solid MLB utility guy, or a MLB position player? If the latter, where would you put him?
Klaw: 4A player. Good athlete, not enough ability to hit.

section 34: I hope you’ll forgive me, you say about so many MiLB catchers “he can’t stick at catcher” that I lose track, but … I thought you said that previously about Chance Sisco. He’s an MLB catcher? Good news for starving O’s fans if so.
Klaw: Don’t know if I ever said that, but he was not very good receiving his first year in pro ball … which was also his second year as a full-time catcher. He keeps improving with experience and I don’t doubt at all that he’ll be a catcher in the majors now.

Doug: Any chance you could offer a “sneak peek” of your Saloon Tycoon review? Thumbs Up?
Klaw: Yes. My daughter really liked it. She never asked what the Brothel tile meant, though.

BD: The 40 man roster in September basically feels like an entirely different game. What is your opinion on it (I am not a fan)
Klaw: I’m not a fan of the infinite bullpens.

j: Are Chance Adams’ size and arm action reasons why he may not stick as a starter?
Klaw: Yep, especially the size issue.

Julius: Late to the chat….in regard to one of your earlier answers, where you said you factor in future growth that could lead to increased velocity in HS pitchers….Say a HS kid tops out at 87-88, yet you are positive that his room to grow and gain strength will lead to increased velocity and a chance to be a front line pitcher….what is the highest you would be able to draft this kid, knowing organizations are going to hedge toward the safety of the present velocity?
Klaw: I think you can find those guys later in the draft, so I wouldn’t rush to take one on day one. Those are good names to target for day two, even if you might have to overpay a little, negotiating with them the night between the second and third rounds.

Tana: Is there really someone who is much more qualified than you to run the player acquisition side of things? Isn’t it more about creating and following a strategy that makes sense? Sure you’ve had your share of misses, but your hits list is good too. In other words, is it a bit like picking stocks?
Klaw: I’m very flattered that you say so, but there are many people in front offices who are not well known to the public but who can do everything I can do, but better, and do more things too. They just can’t chat like I do.

Klaw: Thanks for all of the questions this week. I’ll be back next Thursday for more of the same.