Stick to baseball, 10/22/16.

My second dispatch from the AFL covers Michael Kopech, Francis Martes, Dillon Tate, and more. I also wrote a column on the Dbacks’ hire of Mike Hazen and the lack of diversity in front offices. Both pieces are for Insiders, and neither mentions Tim Tebow. I also held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the pirate-themed Islebound, a gorgeous game that plays slow and dry.

You can also preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

O.J.: Made in America.

My latest Insider column discusses Mike Hazen and diversity in baseball, and my latest boardgame review for Paste covers the pirate-themed Islebound, which looks great but plays too slowly.

My employer’s eight-hour documentary O.J.: Made in America is a real tour de force of nonfiction storytelling, combining two separate, strong narratives to give us the rise and fall of one of the most beloved celebrities of the last fifty years within the context of American race relations, particularly between white police and government authorities and African-American civilians. It paints pictures of two O.J.’s: the sports star who crossed over to become an icon to black and white audiences, and the manipulative wife-beater who eventually killed Nicole Brown and innocent bystander Ronald Goldman, only to be acquitted in a ‘trial of the century.’ Aired in five separate parts, the film casts an incredibly wide net and manages to inform the viewers not just on the facts but on the landscape in which those facts took place. (The film is streaming via the WatchESPN app and can be purchased on amazon or iTunes).

The documentary starts more or less with Simpson in community college, although it dips back into his childhood to introduce us to many of the figures who appear in the documentary on camera or in the action itself, as he’s about to head to USC, where the nation first became aware of his superlative talent on the field. The Buffalo Bills drafted Simpson, but their system didn’t make good use of his abilities for the first few years of his career and he appeared to be a disappointment until new head coach Lou Saban built the team’s offense around him in 1972. Simpson took off from there, becoming the first back to rush for 2000 yards (back in the 14-game schedule), breaking Jim Brown’s single-season rushing record, winning the league MVP and several rushing titles, and eventually retiring with the second-most rushing yards in NFL history.

Simpson started to convert his football prowess into commercial success early in his career, and began acting in films shortly after becoming a football star. Although the documentary focuses more on his comic work – he was Nordberg in the three Naked Gun films, probably the role for which he’s most remembered now as an actor – he also appeared in dramatic works, including an episode of Roots, only the greatest miniseries of all time (per Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz). By the time Simpson hung up his cleats, he was a cross-platform star, a bankable celebrity whom the film credits with ushering in the era of the sports star endorsement that we can blame for those awful Peyton Manning Nationwide commercials.

That story takes up the first two hours or so of the film, and it’s exhilirating to watch: there’s plenty of game footage, but we also get to watch the development of a national icon, turning from a charming but very unpolished athlete into a confident, ambitious actor and pitchman. In an era where endorsements were limited to white stars, Simpson broke the mold. That he did so by avoiding any emphasis on his race, such as commenting on political matters or protests, did not seem remarkable at the time; it was the path of least resistance for someone who wanted the fame and income that came from celebrity, not the power or the podium.

This part of the documentary is interspersed with the backdrop of rising racial animus in California, including the Watts riots, the police shooting of Eulia Love, the murder of Latasha Harkins by a Korean grocer (convicted but sentenced only to probation), and the Rodney King beating and acquittal. In a sense, it’s all prologue for the murder trial of Simpson, where the context of a city where many black citizens were convinced that they were being unfairly targeted by the police and treated differently by the courts informed a trial that included a cop, Mark Fuhrman, with a history of racist statements, and the defense accusation of planted evidence. The physical evidence, including DNA, should have made this a slam-dunk for the prosecution, but the defense created plenty of reasonable doubt, including prosecutor Chris Darden’s own inexplicable decision to ask Simpson to try on one of the gloves with his DNA on it, as well as by playing the race card to gain Simpson a fast acquittal.

I remember being disgusted to see people celebrating the verdict at the time, and the images still repulse me today: the fact that a black man could beat the system should not be more important than the fact that an abused wife and a total stranger were brutally murdered. But O.J.: Made in America doesn’t pass judgment itself; the film gives us both contemporary footage from the trial and reaction along with commentary today from so many participants, including two jurors (both black women) and the practically made-for-television civil rights lawyer Carl Douglas. Although a few key people are missing from these confessional interviews – Al Cowlings, Marguerite Simpson, and Darden stand out among the missing – the sheer number of people who did talk, and talked at length, is the production’s greatest strength. Furhman’s here. So are several of the cops who arrested Simpson, including those involved in the absurd white Bronco debacle. Many of O.J.’s longtime friends appear, including a childhood friend, Joe Bell, who comes as close as anyone here to defending the subject.

From there, we get the ugly post-trial life of Simpson up to his 2007 arrest and 2008 conviction on kidnapping and burglary charges that the film strongly implies was all payback for the 1994 acquittal. Simpson believed, according to his friends, that after the original verdict, he’d return to his old life as if nothing had happened, only to find his endorsements evaporating and many of his friends distancing themselves from him. The narrative gets a bit flimsy at this point, but the story is one of a man who relocates to Florida (to avoid the civil judgment against him), starts hanging out with less and less savory characters, and eventually adopts a “gangster” (their word, not mine) image along with his increasingly erratic behavior and poor judgment. Of course, the worst people Simpson was hanging with were collectibles dealers, and you can interpret that as you wish.

What the documentary doesn’t do, unfortunately, is even explore the question of why. Domestic violence itself is worthy of that kind of discussion – are abusers born, or are they made? If the latter, how do we interrupt the cycle that creates them? – but in Simpson’s case, the program itself gives us portraits of two extremely different men. The Simpson of the 1960s and 1970s that we see in episodes 1 and 2, married to his high school sweetheart Marguerite and out of any sort of trouble, is completely different from the controlling, obsessed Simpson who abused and eventually killed Nicole Brown. This dichotomy all but requires explanation: Was Simpson always a potential abuser, but didn’t become one until his second marriage? (Marguerite has steadfastly said that Simpson never abused her, and there is no record of any violence during their relationship.) Did his football career have anything to do with him becoming abusive or aspects of his personality that changed? The directors seem to hint at O.J.’s troubled relationship with his father, who was gay and later became a well-known drag performer, as a cause, but that’s hardly a justification for violence against women and the subject is barely discussed. It appears the directors didn’t ask any of the many longtime friends and business associates of Simpson the question: was this really who Simpson was all along?

The documentary itself is riveting; I don’t remember any single-story work of this length that held my attention as long as this one did. The pacing is brisk, and the first-person commentaries from folks as diverse as Marcia Clark, Hertz CEO Frank Olson, and Simpson’s friend Ron Shipp, a retired LAPD officer who testified against Simpson at the murder trial, are invaluable for framing (no pun intended) the story. The directors delivered even more on their “in America” part, showing how the racial and cultural context first made O.J. into a star and then helped him avoid a conviction for the two murders, even more than they tell us how O.J. was “made” into a domestic abuser and killer. ESPN released the film to theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a week so it would be eligible for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and I find it hard to imagine any two-hour challenger could come close to topping it.

Klawchat, 10/20/16.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the pretty but boring Islebound.

You can also preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

Klaw: I like your poetry, but I hate your poems. Klawchat.

Mike: Did Greg Bird have a shot to stick at catcher prior to his earlier injuries, or was he always destined for DH/1B?
Klaw: No shot. I think the Yanks moved him to 1B right away, and he’s never even gotten to average there.

Joe C.: How far away are we from teams having only pitchers who pitch 2-3 innings each?
Klaw: I think the twice through the order starter is a real thing that’s likely to become much more common in the next year or two. That will mean a lot of starters who go 4 innings and are taken out even if they’ve pitched well, which further fucks with the win stat and will cause a lot of “but he was dealing!” comments that ignore the penalties of going through the order several times and of pitching while fatigued.

Tom: Why do you always lose site of the big picture by focusing 99% of your energy on the presidential election? How exactly are the Democrats going to retake the House and hold the Senate with a terrible president like Clinton? I’m assuming Dems have 50+ seats this time. Obama won in 2008 with House and Senate but lost House in 2010 and Senate in 2014. If I want the Republicans out then why wouldn’t I hope Trump wins and turns out to be a disaster, thus losing the House in 2018 and leads to an easy Elizabeth Warren victory in 2020?
Klaw: Because I think the consequences of a Trump presidency – including, but not limited to, who he’d put on the Supreme Court and in charge of agencies that are supposed to set environmental policy – are worse than you realize. Plus I’d hate for President Warren to try to move into the White House in January, 2021, only to discover that Trump has taken out second and third mortgages on it.

addoeh: I’m going to a Saturday Night Live themed Halloween party. My character will be Gene the Anal Retentive Chef. What would your character/costume choice be?
Klaw: Phil Hartman’s Sinatra from The Sinatra Group. UNCLE FESTER!

A Bad Yogi: I’m slow on the uptake sometimes. I read your Joe Black/Matt Moore tweet yesterday and didn’t get it. I was trying to figure out if Death Incarnate is better than a guy and worse than A GUY or better than A GUY. About an hour later, in the middle of yoga, I started laughing because I finally got it.
Klaw: Sometimes I rhyme slow.

Jon: You’ve just been appointed as the blue Jays GM today, congrats!!! Now what do you do this offseason?
Klaw: Impossible. I’ve never worked for Cleveland.

David: Have you seen anything in Heyward’s swing that has made him completely impotent this year and do you think it is fixable in the offseason?
Klaw: The swing is as problematic as it was in 2013 and thereabouts. But now he seems to be mentally lost. He’s cutting through average fastballs in the zone, which he didn’t do even in his down years with Atlanta before the trade and mild resurgence in 2015. I’d like to see him start his hands lower and a little back, but that’s not going to solve it if he no longer sees the ball well or thinks he can pitch up an offspeed pitch.

Casey: What are your thoughts on Carson Kelly…is he the catcher of the future for the Cardinals or is destined to be a career back-up?
Klaw: I think he’s their catcher of the future. I’m higher on him than most scouts I’ve asked; I see a tremendous athlete with ++ makeup, a plus arm, good contact skills, and sneaky power. He may be just fair in his early 20s and turn into Lucroy after several years in the majors, since Kelly wasn’t a catcher until his age 19 season.

Matt: Coppy might have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night. Why do people think Folty for McCann is reasonable? Folty’s value should be fairly high, I’d think…..
Klaw: Ridiculous. NY media/fan wishing there.

Junipero Serra: I’m a depressed Padre fan. When can I start having hope for a contending team?
Klaw: System is absolutely loaded. It’ll just take 3-4 years to get there.

Erich: Did you notice anything that could explain Harper’s lack of power this year? Do you expect more seasons that look like 2015 or 2016 for him in the future?
Klaw: Guy’s shoulder was clearly killing him. He’ll be fine once that’s healed up.

Elton: Francona’s bullpen usage this postseason should be required study for every postseason manager, right? Even if you don’t have an Andrew Miller I believe you need to be more aggressive with your best relievers than most managers are in the postseason.
Klaw: Yes, the approach of getting fresh, high-strikeout arms in there earlier, seizing platoon advantages in leveraged situations even in the 5th inning, is the optimal one given the talent distribution in pitching right now.

Mike Q: Do you think, at this point, Trump is even trying to win the election? In the last two debates he seemed to be signaling to extreme right conspiracy theorists as much as looking like a viable President. As a left-leaning person who thinks we need honest debate on serious issues to remain a healthy political system, the last two months has been terrifying, whatever you think of the candidates.
Klaw: I agree that he’s pivoted to “I’m going to lose, so let’s burn it all down” talk, but your second point is the bigger one for me. I have voted Republican, Democrat, and independent in my life, for local and national offices, but this time around I feel like I had zero choice. I wouldn’t even vote Republican for a minor office, because the party supported Trump, and continues to do so, rather than presenting us with one of the very credible choices they had in their primary process. (I saw Lindsey Graham’s comments about how Trump’s claims that the election is ‘rigged’ are wrong and harmful, and shed a tear for his stillborn campaign.) I’d rather see a real race between two qualified candidates where the one I’m voting for doesn’t win than this travesty.

John: Where are you on A.J. Cole? He seems a candidate for a multi-inning RP with some upside to me more than an SP at this point. Thanks.
Klaw: I could see success there or in the rotation for him. Perhaps the relief role makes sense because they have too many starters?

Elton: Regarding the intentional walk in NLCS game 1 which brought up Chapman’s spot in the order: do you feel like that was a worthwhile risk to force him out of the game?
Klaw: No. I would never push the winning run from second to third base like that.

Bruce: What do you expect from Willson Contreras as a hitter in the future? He looks like he has the tools to be a strong defensive catcher with more experience. Do you see him as a future plus defender at catcher?
Klaw: His framing history isn’t very good, but I don’t think he has bad hands, and he’s got everything else you could ask for – athleticism, quick twitch actions, arm strength, power, an idea at the plate.

Bruce: Jean Segura had a remarkable turn around at the plate this year, his power numbers in particular. Was this season at the plate an anomaly or do you expect him to continue to be strong at the plate?
Klaw: BABIP is clearly not sustainable but I’d buy him as an average regular the next few years given the swing tweaks and the full year of strong performance even outside of the BABIP.

Nate: Keith, if I am Rick Hahn, am I way off base for asking for Benintendi, Devers, Swihart, and Eduardo Rodriguez for Sale?
Klaw: Not off base at all. Just don’t expect them to say ‘yes.’

Adam: Of the Padres J2 players you’ve witnessed, who has been the most impressive. Who has the highest ceiling?
Klaw: I haven’t seen any yet and won’t until at least the spring. Most of them have little to no real game experience yet.

Adam: In Hunter Renfroe’s big league call up, his defense seemed… Fine? What is his value for sped and defense and will it be enough to keep him in a lineup if he doesn’t make a lot of contact?
Klaw: Less concerned about contact than probable sub-.300 OBPs.

Lee D, LA: KLaw — Debating with Dodger fans about pitching Jensen in the 9th in Game Three, after Dodgers expanded lead to 6 – 0. While last night’s blow out made it moot, your thoughts?
Klaw: Would have pulled him. He’s been worked hard this month; if your remaining relievers can’t get three outs without giving up six runs, you’ve got bigger problems.

Adam: Fernando Tatis Jr seems to be getting solid reviews since being traded to the Padres. Is he a sleeper prospect for the 2017 season?
Klaw: Yes. Potential star. I was told he’d be a first-rounder if he were in this upcoming draft, for one opinion.

Todd: If Yanks had the choice of either Torres or Jimenez in the Chapman deal, did they make the correct one?
Klaw: I’ll put it this way: Neither was an incorrect choice. I like Torres a little more because he can play up the middle.

Todd: So far you’ve been correct on Luis Severino and Steven Matz. Severino hasnt shown he ca effectively start and Matz is never healthy. What do you feel is Severinos eventual role?
Klaw: If Betances takes over the 9th inning for the Yankees, I’d put Severino in Betances’ old role. I never, ever disliked Severino’s stuff. It was all about the delivery for me.

David: So what is the point of replay if they still get the call wrong?
Klaw: The point is they get more calls right this way. They will never get all calls right. That’s like saying “we’re going to end world hunger!” Yeah, let me know when that happens. In the meantime, I’ll see about getting one family fed.

Elton: I trust Joe Maddon a lot but I am perplexed that Heyward is starting so much against lefties. Do you think his strong defense makes starting him worthwhile? I guess the lineup alternatives (Coghlan, Ross, Montero, Almora, Soler) don’t make it a no-brainer to sit Heyward but a platoon with Soler sounds very reasonable to me.
Klaw: I had this thought last night – it would have been a good night to use Soler, IMO.

Ted: Who has the higher ceiling of Julio Urias or Anderson Espinoza? thanks for doing these chats
Klaw: Urias. But it’s close.

Jeff: Mike Matuella is throwing again. Is he someone to watch heading into 2017, or a total wildcard at this point?
Klaw: Both, right? Great stuff when healthy. Never healthy.

Dale: I think you are one of the few starting the year that thought Frankin Barreto could make it as a major league short stop. Do you still think that?
Klaw: The AFL is a tough look at young players because they’re often tired by that point. Bearing that in mind, he looked bad on defense.

Tom: I agreed with everything in your article on Tebow especially the parts about the Mets/MLB counting cash. It is an embarrassment and he clearly did not belong on the field. But do you see a little of the point of the other side that it may have gone a little past Tebow’s baseball skills and was somewhat personal? At first read to me it did seem a little harsh on Tebow the person. Which I am not even saying you shouldn’t have done but I can at least see some people’s arguments of that being over the top. Especially the “washed-up Quarterback” line. Not the lunatics trying to bring Religion into it of course. That was just insane.
Klaw: None of it was personal. That’s exactly what he is: a failed NFL quarterback, never any good there, who’s now trying to fail in another sport. I’ve said this before: if Jake Locker called up the Angels (who still have his rights, I believe) tomorrow and asked to come try to make a club in March, they would say yes in a heartbeat because Locker could actually play baseball. He was a first-round talent in HS, and would have been one in college if he’d played just that one spring before the draft. (He played one summer and was great despite two years away from the game.) Tebow never had any of that. This is a joke, for him, for the Mets, and for the league.

Al: On Dillon Tate, one of the NY papers published an article saying he was a good guy, but with a somewhat limited future since he was “too stubborn.” Have you heard anything like that and what does that even mean? Thanks.
Klaw: Oh they can fuck right off with that dog-whistling garbage. And for the record, Tate looked good in Arizona – the velocity was back, the slider was back, and while the fastball remains too straight I think the Yankees did well.

Jack: I think you envisioned Sean Manaea topping out as #3?starter. Now the season have you heard any scouting updates that might up your ceiling.
Klaw: Nope, that’s what I think he is.

Brian (DC): How is Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature any different from a poet winning the award? That has happened many times before and his output is prodigious.
Klaw: I am not a big fan of poets winning the award either. Also, do poets have the kind of mediocre output that we see from even great rock lyricists like Dylan? I mean, “Lay Lady Lay” is one of my favorite Dylan songs, but as lyrics go, it’s practically Dr. Seuss.

Barry: My guess is that next years St Lucie rotation will include Marcos Molina, Thomas Szapucki and Justin Dunn. How would you rank them in terms of upside? Gotta beone of the most exciting possible rotations in the lower minors, right?
Klaw: Dunn, Szapucki, (gap), Molina. Szapucki’s the most advanced, but Dunn has bigger upside.

David: UPDATE – I asked my HR manager what would happen if I ever called a female employee a “nasty woman.” He said without hesitation, “I’d fire you.”
Klaw: Of course he would.

James: Keith, huge fan! Is it just me or do you not post about food very much anymore? Don’t think you posted once about where you ate while back in AZ… No food blog either from your trip? Was really hoping you would hit up Bianco’s new place Tratto! Also what are your thoughts on the trovulla guy I’ve heard rumored as a managerial candidate for AZ because of Hazen?
Klaw: I reviewed Tratto in May.

Peter: Are you a Christian?
Klaw: Ma’am I aaaaaam tonight.

Bill: The solution you bring for baseball’s FO diversity problem does in fact seem to be the long view that is needed (hiring more diversity candidates for lower level jobs who can move their way into prominent positions). However, I don’t really see how it can be fixed at the current momemt even if baseball wants to. At the end of the day there arent enough diversity candidates in the pipeline or in top spots and it’s not like teams are egregiously hiring incompetent losers instead of good ones. If guys like Hazen are indeed the right hires, and there arent many diversity candidates in the wings, is there anything baseball can do other than take the appropriate long view?
Klaw: The Falvey hiring really broke the dam in terms of people talking to me about the issue, because while Derek is very sharp and highly regarded by Cleveland folks, his resume was quite scant for a jump all the way to the President of Baseball Ops position, and I could point to many candidates of color with stronger resumes than he had. The sense that others in the industry have that Korn Ferry pushed him on the Twins – again, to be clear, I have heard nothing bad about Derek here, and feel bad that he’s even at the center of this mini-controversy – drove folks to say to me, in essence, that the deck is stacked against minority candidates. Cleveland’s pro scouting director, Paul Gillispie, is African-American. Why have we seen all of these Cleveland guys’ names in candidate mixes, but not his?

Drew: Rumors that a trade involving Z. Cozart would have landed Luis Gohara ? Seems like a good trade for the Reds. What can you tell us about Gohara ?
Klaw: Would have done that in a heartbeat – I wrote Gohara up in Saturday’s post – but the sense I got in July was that it was discussed but never close to completion.

Bob: Jose Peraza playing a lot of SS for Reds at end of year. You’ve mentioned only way you see him as average regular is a move to SS. What reports do you have regarding his defense ? Also, do you see him being able to maintain his OBP around .340? Thanks
Klaw: Was an average to slightly above-average defender prior to the two-year layoff. I think that’s an optimistic OBP forecast because he has no power and his speed isn’t as helpful in adding hits since he’s a RHB. If I were coming up with a plan of attack against him, I’d pound him with velocity inside and let him ground out to third base. But he could get stronger, and if he’s more like a 60 defender at short the bar is very low for him to become an average regular.

JP: Do you think there’s any chance Andrew Miller could return to starting?
Klaw: I think zero. He never could command that slider enough to start.

Marshall MN: KLaw I know you are just counting down the minutes to your first Tebow question, but this isn’t one. In regard to Gonsalves, do you think that his height presents the opportunity any more projectability in regard to fastball velocity? As a Twins fan I just keep hoping one of our young pitchers ends up becoming a #1 level pitcher, but it sounds like he won’t be one.
Klaw: Height helps but isn’t the sole determining factor of projectability, which is a nebulous, subjective concept anyway. You need the right physical frame too, and he doesn’t really have it. He’s slender like a Conner Greene, but Greene is already up to 98 and I think he’s the same age.

Chris: How do you evaluate guys with big first half/second half splits? I’m specifically thinking of Ian Desmond and how his second half will affect his free agency.
Klaw: Depends. I’d rather look at a whole year than half-year splits, but in Desmond’s case, he was heading down offensively in 2014, awful in 2015, and then pretty bad in the second half of 2016. It’s enough to at least make me wonder if the first half of 2016 is the outlier.

Gerry: IF the Rockies can’t get Arenado signed this offseason, any chance he can be dealt, much like Donaldson was 2 years ago?
Klaw: I think that’d be the best way to rebuild the team, but I understand it would be a dagger to the fans’ hearts too.

Marshall MN: KLaw what is your personal opinion on the cause of the “3rd time through the roster” phenomenon? Is it pitcher fatigue (my personal belief), batters getting a better “feel” for the pitcher, something else?
Klaw: I think it’s both. Fatigue matters, for sure. Hitters at least believe that the more pitches they see from a guy, the better they can pick the ball up. I don’t see how you can mitigate either factor, though, so I haven’t worried about the cause so much as the remedy.

James: Election Question – for those in Utah, do you believe it is a wasted vote if the vote is for McMullin? He has a good chance to win the state.
Klaw: I don’t think so. One, I think it actually might send the message you want it to send. Two, as a map geek, I love seeing the third color appear on the electoral map.

Sean: What are your thoughts on the international draft? I get that the current signing situation is terrible, but will this fix anything or just exacerbate the problem?
Klaw: A draft will fix the problems in the current situation. The current situation was created by MLB, though, so I suppose the conspiracy theorist would say MLB made up this godawful system so that four years later they could say, “See! What a shitshow! Let’s put in a draft instead.” And it worked!

Tom: Every April you get questions from readers overreacting to hot starts/SSS (Chris Shelton is for real, yo!!). However, I think it’s worse in the postseason (at least it has been so far this year). CLE goes up 3-0 (Toronto’s toast!). Tor wins game 4 – look at the pitching matchups – CLE could be in series trouble!! Cubs win game one 8-3 – Cubs gonna steamroll!! Cubs get shut out next two games (against great pitchers) Cubs bats are dead – they are in trouble!! Cubs win game 4, score ten runs – bats are back!! Dodgers in trouble!! Pretty funny to see all the hot takes and overreactions.
Klaw: It’s why I don’t like to write about postseason series as they’re going on. No one wants to hear the underreaction take.

Adam D.: If you are Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean, do you let Mac Williamson play himself out of the left field job and focus on adding bullpen pieces this winter. Or should finding a left fielder be a priority for the Giants?
Klaw: I think they need a little better. I like Williamson but don’t think he’ll hit enough to be an average everyday LF. Very good role player.

Jeremy T.: So I mentioned Greg Maddux on Twitter yesterday when referencing Merritt’s performance and I wasn’t trying to jump the gun with comparison to a HOFer. To follow-up, though 1) What is Merritt’s upside in the MLB and 2) Was it just me or did the CLE bullpen attack TOR’s hitters differently after Merritt exited? Appeared to use fastballs much more than they did in previous games.
Klaw: No worries, I didn’t think you were doing that, and I’m sorry if I dumped a bunch of stuff into your feed. It was more a comment on how Maddux is remembered for the end of his career (when he really would be 82-85) than for the bulk of his career (when he’d sit 88-90 and touch 94). I think Merritt is a 6th starter type, and I thought using him once through the order and then going batter by batter was smart. I did not notice that change, if any, in how Cleveland’s relievers pitched, though.

James: Is it possible legally for MiLB players to form their own union? If so why haven’t they? It would seem to benefit them greatly over the representation or lack thereof they receive from the current players union.
Klaw: I think it’s possible but difficult given how many players there are and how many of those are essentially replaceable. You get guys on short-season and even a few A-ball rosters who’ll play a year and a half and get released for someone just like them right out of college.

Patrick: Keith, you have mentioned in past Klawchats–love ’em all!–that most front offices have access to more data than the common fan. Are they all using the same software, or do most have their own proprietary systems?
Klaw: MLB Statcast is available to all teams in an enormous stream of data. They then build their own software to handle it.

Jack: Do you mind sticking to baseball talk? The politics etc. turns off a lot of people.
Klaw: The door is on your left. This is my site and I’ll talk about whatever the hell I want to.

jeff: Why is this website named meadowparty? What’s the significance?
Klaw: Don’t blame me. I voted for Bill and Opus.

Paul: I think the Red Sox have done a disservice to Swihart (and his trade value) by trying to convert him to outfield. If you’re the GM, how are you sorting out Leone, Vasquez and Swihart going into next season?
Klaw: I do too and I think Swihart is their best option for the long term behind the plate. Leon was a fluke, and Vasquez doesn’t have Swihart’s offensive upside. Let Blake catch every day, even if he has to learn some on the job, because he really should develop into a star.

Biff: 2017 brewers have a ___% chance to make the playoffs. Yeah they are young, but sooooo much talent is starting to pan out.
Klaw: I mean, have you looked at the division? 1%?

Bruce: Do you own a smoker at home?
Klaw: No. I smoke meats on my Weber kettle grill using fire bricks to create two zones. It’s a little extra work but then I don’t need two devices.

Patrick: Do you think James Kaprielian will make your preseason top 100?
Klaw: He was on the top 100 this past February, and his stuff is better today than it was coming out of last season.

David: Can Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell and Chad Green be reliable and good starters?
Klaw: Cessa I wouldn’t rule out but I’m no on the other two.

Mike: With the success that we’ve seen from relievers both during the season and especially this postseason, could an all reliever pitching staff ever work for an entire season, or am I an idiot for even thinking that this could potentially be feasible?
Klaw: I just don’t think teams have enough roster spots to pull this off.

Brian: Do you know anything about Joe Jimenez from the Mudhens. I haven’t heard anything about him but the Sports stations around Metro Detroit are raving? Simple homerism or is there something substantial there? Thanks KLAW!
Klaw: Throws hard with poor command.

Zach: Encouraged by you blurb on Nick Gordon, is there anything you can expand on regarding what looked good to you? Any chance we’ll see him in MN in 2018?
Klaw: That’s probably the absolute earliest, but I’d bet 2019. He’s a good player who just really knows the game – his instincts everywhere are readily apparent. I don’t think he will ever be flashy like Dee, but he’s a better all-around player for me.

Mike: Is Lindor the best shortstop in the American League the next 15 years?
Klaw: That’s not outrageous, but Correa and Bogaerts are stars too and I don’t think I’d pick just one of them to beat the others. Plus Gleyber will show up in the next 15 years and did you really say 15 years?

Matt: Any Intel on Chris Getz’ accomplishments with KC or potential? Hoping this isn’t typical White Sox former player bs move.
Klaw: I know nothing about him, which isn’t to say he’s done nothing, just that no one has mentioned him or his work to me.

Michael Fozard: Keith, what would you put the % of Edwin re-signing in Toronto? If low, are you on board with the Red Sox being his most likely destination?
Klaw: I can’t imagine they choose to re-sign him or Bautista given their ages and likely costs on a market that is light on bats (and arms, and everything else). No idea where he might head – that’s not something I ever look into.

Jeannine: At the peak of Hamels’ season (August), you mentioned his low ERA but high WHIP could be sustainable to the extent pitching with runners on base is a skill (as opposed to luck). Why would pitching with runners on be a skill but hitting with runners be luck?
Klaw: Because with runners on, a pitcher changes his delivery.

Greg: Any early returns on Maitan in instructs?
Klaw: I heard he looked great. Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a guy looking terrible in instructs. It’s glorified practice.

MetsFan: How soon will Dom Smith and Amed Rosario make their ML debut?
Klaw: I bet both appear at some point in 2017, but neither becomes a full-time player until 2018.

Brian (DC): What issue do you think the president has the most impact on (e.g. foreign policy, economy)? It seems like we talk about the issues, and rightly so, but never about the power of the president to impact these issues.
Klaw: Foreign policy for sure. SCOTUS picks, not a policy or issue per se but maybe the most impactful thing a President can do. And also the choices of department heads. If you agree with me, that climate change is a major economic and existential issue for our country (and planet), then having a President who first of all accepts the reality of climate change and views it as a policy priority is critical. I think Graham was the only GOP candidate who thought this way, although IIRC Kasich accepts climate change but doesn’t view it as a policy priority. (I hope that’s right. Kasich would have been a fascinating candidate had he won the nomination.)

Larry: Seeing the Baez breakout reminded me, as a Braves fan, of Cubs writers reporting that a Baez for Shelby Miller deal was close this offseason. Should I be happy that deal didn’t happen and the Braves got the Arizona package instead?
Klaw: The deal was never close. I don’t think it ever existed at all.

Doug: Hey Keith, I know you play lots of board games with your daughter. I can’t wait to play board games when my little girl (6 months old) is older. My question to you is, how often do you let your daughter win?
Klaw: She’s ten now, and we never let her win, but we don’t play cutthroat. I try to play near her level, and then sometimes she wins, and sometimes she loses, and once in a while one of us (my wife or I) wins in a rout. She needs to learn how to lose, and how to take a loss and learn from it to play better the next time. We’ve seen her do that more in the last year than she ever had before. Some is cognitive development, of course, but I think all the games we play help her understand, too, that sometimes you’ll make a mistake and you just get over it.

Seth: If Cubs didn’t have Russell, is Baez capable of being an everyday ss?
Klaw: Yes. I always thought he could play the position. I questioned the contact rate.

JJ: Will you be moving to Massachusetts to support your ex-colleague Curt Schilling in his 2018 Senate run?
Klaw: Oh, I support his decision to run.

Adam: Does Newcomb, Acuna and Anderson get a conversation started for Sale?
Klaw: No. I think they could get much more. And would be better off just keeping him.

Frank: The Cubs have so much young talent on the roster which works now when they are cheap. In a few years these guys are all going to get paid and it would seem even the Cubs will not be able to afford all of them. How would you rank the order of your comfort level of paying them long term? Thanks
Klaw: They won’t? I think the Cubs could afford them all but may just choose not to. They’ll also have some internal replacements coming – Eloy and Happ are both strong prospects and will force their way into the lineup at some point.

JR: Don’t the Mets have a reputation for having a pretty smart front office? There’s no way they would’ve signed Tebow unless the Wilpons told them to for marketing/$$ purposes right?
Klaw: One rumor is that Jeff Wilpon loved Tebow and wanted him in the organization. And they are getting paid in that whole jersey deal where MLB exempted them from the regular merchandise revenue-sharing rules.

Par: If the GOP would have nominated a “standard” nominee (say Mitt Romney) would you have been more likely to vote that way?
Klaw: I would have had a real decision to make. I voted for Romney in 1996 (Senate) and Governor (2002) but not in 2012, when he seemed to walk back a lot of his policy positions from when he was in Massachusetts.

Jonah: Eric Longenhagen was saying on Fangraphs Audio that Riley Pint was flashing extremely impressive, advanced stuff (hitting 100+) when he saw him a few weeks ago — so much so that he says he now has him at the top of this past draft’s prospect list. (Eric didn’t actually say that. – KL) How often do you see a guy show something in the first few months after the draft that really shifts your perspective on him?
Klaw: Pint hit 100 for me in April too, so I don’t think his stuff has changed at all. It is rare but not impossible for what you described to happen; sometimes guys get healthy post-draft and look better (Quantrill), sometimes they get into pro ball and make some small change that clicks. I try to stay aware of these things without getting too wrapped up in short term blips in performance.

JJ: Six weeks of Benintendi was enough to make me fall in love. Can he be good enough defensively in CF to make JBJ trade bait? I feel like I just watched Bradley’s peak season.
Klaw: He’s a stud and you’re not off base with any of this.

Chris: Did you happen to hear all of the new Opeth cd? If so, what did you think?
Klaw: I did. I liked it, like I liked their last album, but I also found that after a full listen not much of it stayed with me, which was also true of their last album.

Patrick: Keith, if a front office puts a player in the AFL, do they try to discourage them from also playing in the WBC? Too limited an off season for them?
Klaw: I haven’t heard of this but it’s a good question.

Joe: I read 1984 (George Orwell) a little while back… Personally I felt it was a great book. Have you ever read it? If so, your thoughts?
Klaw: Yes, great book, grows more horrifying as I get older and see technology changing to catch up to the book (even as the world as a whole is becoming more free).

Nate: Other than Collins, do the White Sox have a top 100 guy?
Klaw: Hansen’s a candidate. Of course if they trade Sale or Quintana they’ll get a few more.

Doug: Have you heard anything about the reasons for Mike Dee’a termination? I hear in the local media that sources are saying he did something very bad but no one will go on record.
Klaw: I heard prior to his firing that ownership held him responsible for some of the medical information sharing scandal. Also, I’m mad that I didn’t think to tweet, “Mike Dee! With your bad self no longer running things!”

alex: If the O’s traded Britton, given the control, and the Chapman/Miller/Kimbrel trades– what would be a fair return?
Klaw: Kimbrel and Miller each returned two legit top 100 prospects plus Stuff. I’d start there.

Joe: Did you have any reports on Baltimore prospects from Arizona?
Klaw: They didn’t send much. Tanner Scott was 96-99 with a flat 89-91 mph slider and 40 control, 30 command. Marin looked awful. Stewart is still too heavy, reminds me of Brett Wallace with less hit tool.

alex: Are Os draftees Sedlock, Dietz and Akin all starters– or do you think Dietz and Akin are bullpen guys?
Klaw: Sedlock’s a starter. Dietz and Akin more TBD for me.

Michael: Safe to say Swanson is #1 in your top 100 come January with him still having rookie eligibility for next year?? I know SSS, but he certainly handled himself well like you said and looks like a stud going forward
Klaw: No, that is not safe to say.

Amelon: Hi KLaw, my wife and I are going up to NYC for the weekend in early December (from Philly). I’d like to take her to a really nice restaurant as it is also her birthday. Do you have any recent NYC recommendations? I checked your archive but didn’t find much that was timely and not pizza (not her fav).
Klaw: Narcissa is probably my favorite in NYC right now. The Untitled at the Whitney is also pretty great.

Ben: Jordon Adell – potential guy, GUY, or superstar?
Klaw: Tools guy. Potential star.

Chris: Do you think Berrios will ever be a #1 stud? Or just be a middle of the road starter?
Klaw: Never thought he’d be an ace. Mid-rotation guy, sure.

Jim: Tebow may not be a future big leaguer, but isn’t it more important that he saved a man’s life?
Klaw: I know you’re (probably) joking, but two people cited that story to me as if it were true and I had to explain 1) that’s not what happened and 2) “faith healing” is woo.

Elton: Which drought-stricken team are you pulling for if it ends up being Cubs vs Indians?
Klaw: I couldn’t root against either but would love the matchup where someone’s drought ends.

Ryan: Every October we get caught in the ‘narrative’ that ‘Team X’ is “changing the game” with their roster/decisions. Have any of these champions over the last decade actually forced real, tangible change?
Klaw: Royals did, I think, causing more teams to look for high-contact hitters in the draft and in trades.

David: Klaw, what do you foresee in the next five years for Kepler and Benintendi? Thanks
Klaw: Kepler above-average regular. Benintendi star.

David: You busting out #AndYouKnowIt did not go unnoticed.
Klaw: Thought I was subtle but I really was blatant.

JR: I’ve never understood the “stick to baseball” argument you get? Do the individuals that tell you this only stick to one topic in the various people they interact with in person and social media? It makes no sense to me. Please keep sticking to whatever the fuck you feel like discussing.
Klaw: Thank you. I will. And I don’t get it either. Especially here – this is my site. The only baseball content here is in these chats; all my other baseball content belongs on Here be nonsense.

Elton: If you’re like me you’ve watched a lot of Pixar and Studio Ghibli movies with your kid. Do you have a preference?
Klaw: Pixar just does better stories. But Ghibli’s stuff has a sweetness to it that we love.

Jimbo: Does Bofa have a chance to make your next top 100?
Klaw: He’ll be right after DN.

Jason (Milwaukee): Is Brett Phillips going to hit enough to be in the majors every day? Low BA this year in AA
Klaw: I think he’s a low BA guy with acceptable OBP, some power, outstanding defense and baserunning value.

Brandon: The electoral college takes away the “meaning” of every vote matters. I live in a southern state that will always vote republican, so how does my vote matter when Trump will get the full state votes no matter what?
Klaw: Then why vote? No state has ever been decided by one vote. I vote because I want to, and because I want the totals for my candidate to be as high as possible, because those numbers matter too – such as which candidates choose to run again, or which races the state and national parties might target in two, four, or six years.

John: Keith, do you have any concerns over the strikeout rate for Aaron Judge? We’ve seen him take some adjustment periods to each new level he’s reached, but the big leagues are a different animal. Will these pitchers eat him alive or do you seem him becoming a capable hitter with monster power?
Klaw: Yes, I’ve voiced those concerns many times. But I have also seen him make a lot of adjustments from low-A up to triple-A and believe he will continue to do so.

Matt in Portland: You mentioned to me on twitter that the data showing the Cubs shift fewer than other teams was flawed. Why is that? Minor positioning movements that don’t count as a “shift”?
Klaw: Correct. People who use that data, claiming the Cubs don’t shift, are either looking at the wrong data (binary “shift or no shift”) or are misinterpreting it.

Dave: I live in a state that says has over a 95% chance of going to Trump. Do I have your permission to vote third-party and help one of them hit the 5% mark?
Klaw: You don’t need my permission, but your question about the 5% mark is relevant too because that triggers some federal funding, right?

Craig: Jacon Nottingham had a rough season in AA this year. From what you have seen in AZ, is he due for a bounce back year?
Klaw: Going only on AFL, no. He looked awful.

Corey: Going back for a second to smoking meats in your Weber, you create two zones on either side and leave the middle open for cooking on indirect heat or is it configured in some other way ? Do you have the meat directly over heat at any point ?
Klaw: No, wood on one side, meat over a drip pan on the other, holes aligned so air comes in the bottom on to the wood and exits above the meat.

Stanley: Last chat you alluded to hating your career track after college; any advice for someone who feels the same, trying to find something they love to do and monetize it?
Klaw: Well, not to be too obvious, but figure out what you love to do first, and then see if there is a way to monetize it. That part isn’t so easy. Lots of fun things are hard to do for a career.

Gregory: Connor Joe playing in the AFL; what’d you see?
Klaw: Can hit a little, not enough for a guy with no clear position.

Franklin: My daughter is two years old, and I am thinking about getting get vaccinated for a number of things. I am pro-vaccine and was vaccinated as a child, but my wife is anti-vaccine, so we are at odds on this issue. In this split debate, we have come to let our daughter decide whether she wants them or not. We have each given her our opinion; however, I am concerned that the needles will scare her into choosing no, much to my dismay. Do you have any suggestion as to how to handle this?
Klaw: Really? She’s two. She can’t decide. You’re the responsible adult here, and you need to get her vaccinated. This was a dealbreaker for me – my wife is pro-vaccine also, but perhaps not as, um, fervent as I am, and I think it’s fair to say that we would have gotten a divorce if she had refused to vaccinate our daughter at any point. You’re screwing with your daughter’s health here.

Nate: Does Shohei Otani get posted and what position would he play in the MLB?
Klaw: He’s a pitcher, period.

DTH: Oh Ghibli questions, excellent. What are your top 3? Mononoke has always been my favorite and I understand I’m in the minority, but I’m a sucker for a good fantasy epic and San is so so cool
Klaw: Totoro is a big sentimental favorite for us. Spirited Away is probably the best film start to finish though.

Steve: For the “why vote if my state is solidly Republican” guy, President isn’t the only thing on the ballot. You’re voting for congressmen, state legislators, mayors, county commissioners, referenda, state constitution amendments, etc. Many if not most of these things will have a greater impact on your day-to-day life than voting for US President. It drives me crazy how some people see the presidential race as the be-all and end-all of electoral politics.
Klaw: It’s possible that those other races are kind of determined too. I doubt much is up for grabs here in the People’s Republic of Delaware.

Tom 2: If you stuck to baseball how would I know about all the great restaurants that I’ve sampled over the years based on your recs? (Also, why do people take it upon themselves to speak for me?)
Klaw: Books, music, movies, boardgames. I’ll be damned if I stick to anything.

Donald Trump: I’m not sure I’m prepared to accept the results of this chat. I shall let you know when it’s over.
Klaw: Oh it’s over all right. You’ll have to accept it. I’ll be back next week.

Stick to baseball, 10/15/16.

I have written two posts on the Arizona Fall League so far, one on real prospects and one on Tim Tebow. (These were originally one article, but the baseball editors chose to split it up.) There will be another post coming soon covering everything else I saw while in Arizona. I wrote a piece earlier in the week discussing the use of instant replay on slides, which has come up several times already this postseason. I held my usual
Klawchat on Thursday as well.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the abstract two-player game Agamemnon, which I think is just fantastic. It’s quick to learn and play, offers some simple variations to increase the replay value, and has just the right amounts of competition and randomness for a great two-player title.

You can also preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

  • One of the Central Park Five – five men arrested and convicted of a brutal rape, only to be exonerated when the actual rapist confessed over a decade later – wrote an emotional editorial on how Donald Trump continues to harm him with the candidate’s continued insistence that the men were guilty. (Trump ran a full-page ad at the time of the crime, calling for New York to reinstate the death penalty for these five kids.)
  • Trump’s comments about “rigged” elections pose an existential threat to our democracy, and Professor Rick Hasen’s post calls on other Republican leaders to disavow these statements, as we already see Trump supporters talking about taking up arms if he loses the election. Of course, this isn’t new for Trump; he is also threatening to jail his opponent if he wins.
  • Adults who weren’t vaccinated and caught vaccine-preventabble diseases cost the U.S. $7.1 billion in 2015 in medical costs and lost productivity, in case you’re wondering why you should care about morons who don’t get vaccinated.
  • Yet another study has found no link between thimerosal or mercury-containing vaccines and autism.
  • Creationism is on the rise in Europe, even though Europe as a whole is more secular than the U.S. and has been more accepting of the reality of evolution.
  • The Guardian has a great longread on the insanity of the bottled water industry. In the developed world, where tap water is safe to drink, it is absolutely criminal to consume bottled water at the rate we do, from the environmental costs of shipping it to the wastes of plastic involved in packaging it.
  • World leaders meeting in Rwanda this week are trying to ban another set of greenhouse gases. Banning hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) requires amending the Montreal Protocol, but these gases are more than 1000 times more potent in contributing to warming than carbon dioxide is.
  • A Chinese mining firm has received approval to destroy a koala habitat in Australia so they can build a coal mine. There’s a lot wrong here, since burning coal itself is a contributor to climate change.
  • There’s a state of emergency in Ethiopia, where two ethnic groups, the Oromo and the Amhara, have protested rule by the minority Tigreans, the same sort of sectarian divisions that led to Eritrea’s secession and ongoing skirmishes between the two countries.
  • A reader sent along this story on the ‘biryani wars’ in India, where the iconic dish has become subject to accusations of tainted food and government inspections.
  • The Trump/sexual assault storyline has been well-covered everywhere, so I’m not linking to any of those hundreds of stories. But one thing I want to highlight that’s tangentially related is writer Kelly Oxford’s call for women to share their stories of sexual assault on Twitter, which produced a deluge of replies. The Washington Post and the Guardian had two of the best summaries of Oxford’s efforts and the conversations it has launched.
  • Meanwhile, Mike Pence’s own policy positions have skated a bit under the radar, which I think is a mistake given the instability of his running mate. This is the first time I’ve linked to Cosmopolitan, but their summary of Pence’s anti-abortion policies is worthwhile. He tried to pass a law that would have required women who had abortions or miscarriages to hold funerals for the dead fetuses. Not mentioned is that he also tried to allocate state funds to “gay conversion” therapy, which doesn’t work and is opposed by the American Psychiatric Association.
  • The NY Times found the one 19-year-old black man who’s skewing the USC/LA Times poll. The reasons are a bit technical, but I think they provide some good insight on how polling works.
  • The President of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women resigned her post and wrote a long explanation of why, calling it an “unhealthy relationship” when the party she supports is backing a candidate who has a history of sexual assault and of bragging about it.
  • Three men were arrested in Kansas this week for plotting terrorist acts. The men were white and appear to claim to be Christian, and their targets were Muslims. I doubt they realize how incredibly un-Christian such actions would be.
  • Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes dropped some truth on his Twitter feed about the NCAA and its institutions profiting off the unpaid labor of athletes:

    Emma Baccelleri wrote more about Hayes’ commentary in a strong post on Deadspin.

Klawchat, 10/13/16.

Klaw: In a world of steel-eyed death, there’s Klawchat.

Jonathan: Do you put Reyes in the rotation to start 2017?
Klaw: I assume this means Alex; I don’t, for two reasons. One is that I don’t think I would count on him for 180+ innings in 2017, given his low workloads the last two years. The other is that I don’t think his command is there yet, or his curveball, for him to be more than an inconsistent, sometimes great, sometimes awful starter right now. Long relief would be great to start the year with the goal of moving him to the rotation by June or so.

Jeremy: What do you make of Taijuan Walker’s 2016? Do you have any confidence that will be a top 40 starter next year?
Klaw: I think the probability of him working out as a starter has dropped to below 50% at this point.

Seth: What are the benefits, if any, to a GM not stating their intent to buy or sell in an offseason?
Klaw: None that I know of. Some signaling has value; this does not.

Mets Daddy: Better career: Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo?
Klaw: I’d bet on Gsellman at this point. Lugo’s high spin rate hasn’t translated into production yet.

Jon: Oh, thank goodness. I was worried I would have to go a whole week without knowing the answer…given his performance in the AFL so far, has your opinion of Tebow changed? 🙂
Klaw: Saw him last night. He doesn’t belong here. It’s a bad joke.

TK: May Even Year Magic rot in hell, never to be seen again.
Klaw: I was getting tired of the woo arguments for the Giants and for Bumgarner. He’s a great pitcher; let’s stop conferring preternatural abilities on him.

Jack: What are that odds that Yadier Alvarez gets called up at some point next season? 7 Ronin came in the mail yesterday. I am looking forward to breaking it out.
Klaw: Great arm, but he made 9 starts in full-season ball this year. I don’t see any chance of that. 7 Ronin is great – hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Colin: How can the USA, and the republican party recover from the toxicity of Donald Trump
Klaw: My hope all year has been that he would lose badly enough that the GOP would lose at least one chamber of commerce, and the resulting upheaval inside the party would force out some of his enablers (like Reince) and restore the more classical conservatives to power. Until the Republicans catch up to 2016 on some basic social issues, we’re not going to have two viable choices for major offices in most of the country. You can’t keep fighting marriage equality, pushing ‘gay conversion therapy,’ or passing these so-called ‘bathroom bills’ (that really forbid local authorities from providing LGBT with protection from discrimination), in a nation that is increasingly more tolerant on social matters but where conservative positions on economic or foreign policies remain popular.

Sam: What is Michael Kopech’s ceiling?
Klaw: I’ll see him Saturday and will have an updated answer then. I can tell you though that he has some plus-plus hair. He’s going for the Syndergaard look.

@OutfieldGrass24: Hey Keith, big thanks for your time as always. Who are a couple of lower level D-backs that are future big leaguers for you. I’m fully prepared for you to respond with “none,” but my blind, very stupid, optimism wins every time.
Klaw: Jasrado Chisholm is the big name from the lower levels; he might have the highest upside of any realistic prospect in the system.

Evan: Klaw, haven’t seen much written about Giants rhp prospect Sam Coonrod. Has had fantastic 2-full season so far. He a dude?
Klaw: Reliever only. Good relief prospect but that’s it.

Jay: With the Jays pulling in insane attendance and TV numbers the last 2 years, can they justify being outbid for Edwin?
Klaw: Yes, because of his age and likely projections for his performance going forward. He may be a poor investment even if he’s still a good player.

Kevin G.: Hi Keith. Big fan of your work. You have been consistently down on Marco Estrada. Have you changed your opinion of him at all, or do you still think his BABIP suppression and relatively low homer rate (for an extreme fly ball guy) is kind of fluky? Interested to hear your analysis. Thanks!
Klaw: Still think it’s very fluky. He’s around a .225 BABIP with the Jays the last two years, something like 70-80 points below league-average and still 30+ points below his own career BABIP.

Steve: Dexter Fowler likely leaves in FA. Hopefully Schwarber is healthy and can play some LF. Would you have Heyward play CF for Cubs and Soler in RF or would you look to move Soler (value has to be pretty low)? Or just hang on to everyone and figure injuries will sort out playing time?
Klaw: Play Soler. Getting him regular PT next year should be a priority; he’s shown flashes of the ability when healthy, especially at the end of this season, although I’ve been disappointed in his reads on defense. Heyward in CF would make sense, but I’m not sure about Schwarber in LF off the knee injury. (Previous to that I thought he’d be capable out there.)

Jeremy: Thoughts on Dylan winning the nobel prize for literature? I’m a fan of Dylan’s and his lyrics can be amazing and thoughtful, but it seems like a warping of the award, and I highly doubt there weren’t qualified authors to pick from.
Klaw: This is my thought as well. I think he is the greatest lyricist in music history, but I don’t think that compares to the output of great novelists or short story writers. Ngugi wa’Thiongo was considered a favorite to win, and both of his novels that I’ve read are spectacular works of fiction.

Stephen: Where does cubs rhp Trevor Clifton factor into the future rotation equation?
Klaw: Mid-rotation starter.

Chad: How does Preller get trust and credibility back? Is firing Dee, and hiring someone to specifically oversee medical records, enough? Also, who would be your pick for the new Padres CEO?
Klaw: That CEO job is a business job, not a President of Baseball Ops job. Preller has to be scrupulously honest in all dealings, even to the point of going overboard in revealing information. That’s the only way to rebuild trust. Also, people have asked about him getting fired post-suspension; that would be incredibly stupid for the Padres, given how late we are in the baseball calendar now. If you were going to fire him, do it rather than suspending him.

Jer: Predictions on any changes to the CBA after the World Series?
Klaw: I think the international FA system (July 2) is a top priority. The draft is high up on the list for teams, who feel like they’re spending more money in the draft on secondary talents. The MLB minimum salary is likely to go up substantially. I think players want to continue to limit required media access before/after games. September roster rules will probably come up. I personally hope the loss of a draft pick to sign a free agent ends this time around.

Mike: Is there anything anyone can do to move the pace of game in the playoffs? Love it, it’s great theater, but throw the ball already?
Klaw: Well, how long did the top of the 9th take in the Giants-Cubs game 4? Every pitching change is about three minutes of dead time, if not four. That would be my main target; it sucked a lot of drama out of an incredible finish.

Hugo Z: How much credence do you give to studies that indicate line-up protection is a myth?
Klaw: It is definitely a myth, at least as it is understood to mean that a hitter becomes more productive with a better hitter behind him. I’ve said here before I think it’s a myth in MLB, but in an environment like college or HS, where you might see a gap between a team’s best hitter and the guy behind him larger than anything we’ll see in MLB, it may very well exist.

Matt: Can we turn 2016 off, and then turn it back on again? Maybe that will fix it.
Klaw: We should roll back the BIOS to the last clean install.

Keith Too: been a serious issue, but over the last few months of the season it seems that Staumont might have finally bought in that the rose goes in front. IWhat are your thoughts?
Klaw: Saw him Tuesday. Same guy as before – good delivery, great pure stuff, 40 command tops. Let him start as long as you can, because the pure upside is enormous, maybe even #1, but it’s hard to see how he ever gets there when there is no physical or mechanical obstacle to him commanding the fastball.

Jack C.: How does one get into the sports representation business (i.e. agent/advisor)? What can an advisor do with high school and NCAA athletes that an agent can’t do? There seems to be such a grey area when it comes to answers (no surprising due to many NCAA rules and regulations).
Klaw: They’re all lawyers, I think, so that’s the first step. An advisor is an agent who isn’t formally getting paid; once the player signs his first contract, he pays a commission to the advisor, who then becomes an agent. So it’s all semantics and vocabulary there.

Frankie: Did the Mets make the right choice when the traded Dickie to the Jays? Syndergaard or Sanchez?
Klaw: They made the right choice; I had Sanchez rated higher at the time, and perhaps Sanchez would have developed faster in the Mets’ system, but given what we know the Mets did well to take Thor, who I thought was going to win the NL Cy this year for most of the season.

Tim: My wife is pregnant and we are considering the Dr. Sears alternative vaccine schedule. Not sure if you are familiar with it, but the child gets all vaccines, just on a slightly delayed schedule. Our primary reason for doing this is so we can isolate each vaccine in case of some kind of allergic reaction. Are you familiar with Dr. Sears alternate schedule and if so, how do you feel about it?
Klaw: I am familiar with it. It’s total bullshit and he’s a quack. If your child (congratulations, by the way) has an egg allergy, then one vaccine won’t be any better than four. Otherwise there is no reason to use this pseudoscientific ‘alternative’ schedule.

Tim: Cody Reed, Amir Garrett or Robert Stephenson for 5th spot in Reds rotation? Any of them bullpen bound in your opinion?
Klaw: All have starter potential and bullpen floor. Reed seems the most likely to start to me. Stephenson has the highest upside.

Nick: What is Gleyber Torres’ power ceiling? 20-25 Hr’s a year at his peak or is that too high?
Klaw: I’d buy that.

Chris: Two-part question: Is Chase Utley a Hall of Famer? Will Chase Utley get into the Hall of Fame?
Klaw: He is, and I think he will after several years on the ballot. Would have helped if he’d won one of the MVPs he deserved rather than, say, his DP partner winning.

J: Given that 5 (Woodfork, Bell, Montgomery, Minniti, Rizzo) of Arizona’s public targets are or were in their FO at one point, is it fair to say they feel regret about going so far outside of the org last time? Do you think being internal candidates right now helps Bell/Minniti?
Klaw: From what I’ve heard, that list of public is not accurate. I don’t believe Bell is getting an interview, for example, although he’s really highly regarded around MLB.

Erik: Could Clint Frazier hypothetically play CF?
Klaw: No shot.

Eddy: Juan Soto — what type of ceiling does he have? What type of numbers can he post at his peak?
Klaw: He’s 17; I wouldn’t even pretend to project numbers on that. I think he has at least above-average regular upside, a corner guy with power and it appears some OBP potential too.

Jordan: How important is the AFL for a prospect like Dustin Peterson
Klaw: It’s not important; it’s useful, or valuable, but not important in any way.

Air: Thoughts on the new Fox TV show “Pitch” ?
Klaw: Have not watched.

ck: My wife is really into board games, but me, not so much. Part of the problem is that I get very bored waiting for my turn to come back around (as my wife won’t see this, I might mention that her lack of speed in moving is part of the problem). Do you ever have this issue, and if so, how do you get around it?
Klaw: Yes. Gotta pick games that don’t have that feature. Co-op games like Pandemic might be more your speed.

Adam: If I am planning on spatchcocking my turkey for Thanksgiving, should I brine it also, or does the fast cooking time of a spatchcocked turkey make brining redundant?
Klaw: I didn’t brine last year, I just “dry-brined,” which means salting it a little ahead of time to dry out the skin and allow some salt to work its way into the meat via osmosis. Check Serious Eats for more on that.

Joel: Tyler O’Neill, what’s the ceiling there in your opinion?
Klaw: Average regular in RF.

Jaime: Does the surplus of Dodger left-handed hitting prospects (Bellinger, Verdugo, Calhoun, Rios) combined w their big league left-handedness, be a concern?
Klaw: No. I don’t think you can ever have too much of a valuable asset type.

Cory: Why should my Twins take Hunter Greene #1 in the draft, over Wright/Faedo or a position player
Klaw: I’m not sure they should do that, as good as Greene is. There’s certainly risk there, HS pitcher risk as well as questions about how good the breaking ball is going to be down the road.

MikeM: Did you get to see James Kaprielian pitch last night? His velocity was reportedly back to where it was before his injury. After the lost year of development do you think he can still be a mid rotation starter?
Klaw: Yep. I think he can be more than a mid-rotation starter. He looked ridiculous last night.

Greg: Are there any Atlanta prospects going under the radar that you are higher on than most?
Klaw: Is Ronald Acuna still under the radar? I think he might be too well-known for that, but I think he’s a star.

Kevin: Which TV show would you have loved to have a cameo on?
Klaw: I kept telling Schur I was ready for a Parks & Rec cameo as “Corpse #2” but he told me it wasn’t that kind of show.

Tom: At some point doesn’t Bochy have to give one of those FIVE relievers a shot at two batters?
Klaw: Will Smith in particular. Or my son Derek, who shouldn’t have started the inning if there was even a chance in Bochy’s mind that Lopez would face Rizzo.

Dusty: Thinking of going to see the AFL for the first time this year. I know you have several posts on where to eat in the area and we will make good use of those. I was wondering if you had any good advice on actually going to the games.
Klaw: Nothing to advise really – they’re not well attended at all, so just show up and enjoy.

Ryan: Is it more of an insult to yours and all the scouts at the AFL’s intelligence that Tebow is on the field with baseball players that have a *real* future?
Klaw: I think it’s the biggest insult to the player who didn’t get that roster spot, or whoever’s losing playing time to this stunt.

Paul: Hey Keith, Just to say that the Giants- Cubs was GREAT! I enjoyed it very much even as a Giants fan. No managers mistakes, just players playing at their best, close plays all the time. You just can’t beat it
Klaw: I agree and I think the criticism of Bochy for pulling Moore was totally off base. His one mistake was letting Romo face a LHB (after some reshuffling), which is a real tactical error. But otherwise it ain’t his fault none of his relievers could hit a spot.

JJ: Lost year for Blake Swihart. Is he still a catcher in 2017, or do the Red Sox move forward with their conversion to the outfield? If it’s the latter, then he must be trade bait, right? I don’t see him overtaking any of the Benintendi-Bradley-Betts trio.
Klaw: He needs to catch. He’s more than capable.

Brett: Doesn’t it feel like Atlanta is afraid to hire from the outside? This Snitker hire just feels weird when there’s a guy like Black out there wanting the job.
Klaw: I was disappointed with the lack of imagination in the candidate pool. These were pretty standard names.

Max: Thoughts on Tanner Houck? How high could he realistically go next June?
Klaw: Potential top five pick … but I think he’s likely a reliever in the long run and doubt I’ll rank him that high.

JR: Whoever ends up winning the world series will be breaking a championship drought of 20+ years (Toronto in 1993 the most recent champion). #fuckyeahbaseball
Klaw: Yep, this is exactly the type of postseason outcome I root for. Let’s give some long-suffering fan base a championship. Cubs-Cleveland would be incredible no matter who wins.

Steve: Taking my 8 year old to games 1-2 of NLCS. He has some social anxiety in big crowds. He is fine during the game, but gets nervous while leaving. I know it will be nuts at Wrigley. With the exception of leaving early, would you advise just hanging back and let the crowd filter out? We will be staying downtown and taking the train/cab/uber.
Klaw: I’d hang back till after. The mad rush postgame for the subway would be intimidating. Worse because so many people will be drunk.

Chris: I know that Matt Moore is post-TJ and at 120 pitches, but he had retired 9 straight and struck out two of three in 8th. Lose and go home. Why not keep him in with the worst bullpen in the playoffs?
Klaw: Well, that’s a bit of recency bias. There’s really no evidence that a pitcher who’s done what he did is therefore more likely to continue to pitch above his abilities. There is evidence, however, that pitchers pitch worse the fourth time through a lineup (he was at 28 batters, so would have faced Bryant-Rizzo-Zobrist for the fourth time), and that they pitch worse when fatigued, of which 120 pitches is a weak proxy.

darren stains: Hey Keith. Do you have any opinions regarding the Harvard Extension School? I’m 33 trying to finish my bachelors. I’m going the online route and HES is a little cheaper than many of the “reputable” online programs. I’ve seen mixed reviews about HES. Waste of money? Quality education? No idea?
Klaw: I have very limited experience with it, but my understanding is that it’s more like high-quality adult education than like the classes you’d take as an undergraduate. I don’t know anything about its accreditation for your purposes, though.

J.O.: Is there a chance Heyward has been hurt all season and that is causing his hitting problems/mechanics issues?
Klaw: Sure. I think it’s ultimately mechanical, though.

JAred: Why is Espinosa still starting when they have Turner?
Klaw: I have no idea. Then again, I was pilloried for suggesting Turner should have been up to start the year, at least when Espinosa had that one good month.

Brett: Keith, I’m a Braves fan mad about their late hot streak. If one of their late wins turned into a loss, they’d be picking second next year instead of fifth. Am I insane?
Klaw: Not at all. Costs them a higher pick and probably $2.5-3 million in pool money under the current system.

Brian: Aren’t the people shaming Trump’s alleged sexual harassment victims for not coming out earlier more or less enabling him? The reason they didn’t was because they were afraid of negative consequences and not being believed.
Klaw: Yes. And they’re engaging in what they have previously accused HRC of doing to the women who accused Bill of harassment or assault. (Which is also not OK.)

ck: Do you foresee baseball modifying the rules regarding reviews to avoid these stupid reversals when a sliding runner leaves a bag by a half-inch for a millisecond, or will it devolve to “these pampered players need to learn how to slide like the old-timers did” with no change made?
Klaw: I haven’t heard anything from within the industry about it, which wasn’t true of the transfer rule debacle, so I doubt there’s a change – but I wrote the other day why I hope there will be a change because the status quo is a step backwards and may lead to more injuries on slides.

Nick: Could Blake Rutherford stay in CF?
Klaw: No shot.

John: To the guy thinking about the Sears quackery, the first time your kid drops a pacifier on the ground, picks it up, and pops it back into their mouth they will be exposed to more pathogens than any appointment on the typical vaccination schedule.
Klaw: Exactly. I believe I’ve told the story before of my daughter, as a baby, licking the play gym floor. That’s more pathogens than she got in all vaccines combined. The same is true of one tablespoon of soil – there’s something like a million organisms in it of hundreds of species. So people who listen to Sears are falling for junk science.

Hugo Z: For a mid-payroll team, do you like the Mets model of supplementing young starters with one or two relatively inexpensive veterans, and saving your big money spending for position players?
Klaw: Yes, very much. Of course, i don’t think they should be a mid-payroll team…

Jared: I am a HS baseball coach and like you look out for my pitchers. Last year, we were up 1-0 in the 5th inning in the Regional Final when I pulled him because he had thrown 85 pitches. We ended up losing 2-1 and I heard it from parents and others that I wasn’t looking out for the team. This kid probably will play Division 3, but has an outside shot at a D2 scholarship. What are your thoughts on what I should have told these parents?
Klaw: That your goal is developing these kids as players and people, and that your job is to be the adult in the room and take the long view even if it’s to the detriment of the team in one particular game.

Andy: Bounce back for Kolten Wong in ’17?
Klaw: I’ll put it this way: I never thought he’d be more than an average regular, but I think he’s much better than what we saw this year.

Andy: Do you have any additional insight into the Epinoza/Pomeranz re-trade. Was it actually a, we’ll give the prospect back if you give us the pitcher? If it was, why didn’t the Red Sox take them up on it?
Klaw: I think that was it, and the Red Sox must have decided a fragile Pomeranz was still worth more to them this year and next than the long-term value of Espinoza.

Geregg: What is Anderson Espinoza’s floor?
Klaw: Floor would be a high-value reliever, one of these 2 WAR, 12 K per 9 type of guys.

Preston: Do you have a recommendation for a quick (5-15 minutes) board/card game, preferably fairly easy to learn? Ideally for 5 or 6 people, though I could work with fewer.
Klaw: The card games Love Letter, Coup, and 3 Wishes all fit what you’re looking for and play 3-4, but not more. Ticket to Ride takes almost no time to learn, plays up to 5, but takes more time than that to play. Carcassonne plays up to 5 or 6, takes a little more time to learn because of the scoring of farms, but has no setup time and can play in a half hour or so once you know the rules.

Ryan V.: Really enjoyed your review of The Lobster. Even more, I enjoyed the quiz that identifies which of three animals you could be in that world. My day was brightened immeasurably when I learned that I should be a water bear…
Klaw: I’m still thinking about the movie a lot, which is a good sign. I didn’t buy some of the plot contrivances in the second half, but the dystopian details were both clever and I thought perfectly satirized some of our modern obsessions with relationships and ‘matching.’

Tim: Any other names moving up your list for ’17 that could unseat Kendall or Greene? Seems like those guys are almost sure bets to go top 2 or 3.
Klaw: Those are the clear top 2 for me. Wright is right up there. Adell has the tool set to make a big run up the board, but he’s not going to face great competition in the spring and I think some teams will consider him too risky for a pick that high.

Troy: Is Luke Weaver a reliable starter in the bigs someday?
Klaw: I don’t think he has the breaking ball for that.

Logan: Between Muller and Wentz, who has the high ceiling, and who is the safest?
Klaw: Wentz on both for me.

Jay: I found it ridiculous that the Rangers and their fans equated Odor punching Bautista to the Bat Flip homer as their signature moment. The irony was too sweet that he blew the final play.
Klaw: I don’t love celebrating a punch in that manner anyway. Go watch MMA if that’s your style.

Jeff: Are there any Rule 5 guys that could end up with regular roles in 2017? How early do teams start planning for this?
Klaw: The rosters won’t be set until around November 20th, and the safest answer to your first question is “no,” because I think we’ve had maybe zero or one in each of the last five years of drafts.

Darth Vader Ginsburg: Have a best mac and cheese recipe?
Klaw: I do, right here on the dish.

Stephen: Has the apparent mechanical change (his stance looks different since his recall from the minors) from Puig rebuilt his value in your estimation? Or are you still noticing that he is not turning on inside fastballs?
Klaw: It was never a mechanical issue.

Scott: What are you thoughts on Eloy Jimenez? 19 y/o. but seems he advanced well this year. Seen him live?
Klaw: Couple of times. Superstar.

Anonymous: What did you do after you graduated Harvard? What advice would you give to a senior that is not really sure what to do immediately after?
Klaw: Worked in consulting, got an MBA, worked at some startups, never liked any of it.

Erskine: Have you heard of the new deckbuilding/dungeon-crawling game Clank! that released today? Interested in your thoughts on this new style of game.
Klaw: No, but I’ll check it out.

Brian Woytek: Should I go see Opeth on Saturday or watch the NLCS?
Klaw: Go see Opeth. You can always record the game and watch it later. I had to watch the 9th inning of Cubs-Giants afterwards because I was at a game here.

Anthony: Would you try to move Gallo and Profar for a SP? What value to each of them have given the struggles of both?
Klaw: Profar struggled? He missed two years and came back to be a useful bench piece. Your standards are too high.

Tim (KC): Hey Keith… do you have any book recs for baseball analytics?
Klaw: Yes. I’m writing one.

Tim: I always reflect your science-based approach to issues. Do you have any thoughts or reading recommendation on chiropractic care, particularly pediatric chiro or “subluxation”?
Klaw: Any chiropractic claims beyond dealing with musculoskeletal injuries or pain are pseudoscience.

Bryan: What is going on with DJ Stewart? Seems to do better vs higher competition
Klaw: Bench guy, maybe. Bad body, poor approach, no position.

Josephina: Thoughts on cutting out sugar from your diet when it makes everything taste so good?
Klaw: I’ve never cut it out completely so I wouldn’t know what to advise, especially if you have a medical reason to avoid it. Maybe just try to use more of the other things that satisfy us, like acid or umami?

Alex: Ty Black.. Anything more than a 5th starter option for the Giants?
Klaw: I think he’s a reliever, but I’d accept fifth starter as an answer too.

Deniro: Thought the concern with vaccines were chemicals and heavy metals in vaccines?
Klaw: The concern with vaccines is that a lot of people don’t understand basic science and refuse to accept overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe.

Tim (KC): Is it a mistake that teams are not letting some of their top end prospects play this postseason? (Thinking Urias, Moncada, Swihart, Giolito)
Klaw: I don’t think it’s a mistake – Moncada isn’t ready to contribute, for example. Urias would be the exception, as he can help at least in a long relief role.

Randy: I know you are high on Junior Fernandez. Looks like he had a nice year. Ceiling?
Klaw: High-end starter.

Josephina: How rare is Rich Hill? Majors to independent ball to starting the biggest game of the year for the Dodgers?
Klaw: Incredibly so and I think it’s fantastic. Probably helped that he had pitched in the majors before, but still, most guys in his situation would be done.

Buddy: I think the whole situation with Buck waiting for a save situation is a perfect example of how in sports managers would rather lose conventionally than win unconventionally, which is of course twisted. The most underrated aspect of the analytics movement is that more people are starting to realize the flaw in that thinking, which may lead to actual change on the field; given the number of people criticizing the conventional failure by Buck, it seems more likely another manager will feel confident making the right move in the future, even if it fails
Klaw: Yes, it’s the “no one ever got fired for buying from IBM” mentality. If you buy from the new vendor, and it doesn’t work out, you will be second-guessed to death by people saying “why didn’t you just buy from IBM?” If Buck used Britton, extended the game, and then lost when someone else blew the save situation, he would have been criticized for using his closer “too soon,” by writers and fans who can’t see that using Britton allowed the save situation to happen. Of course, failing to use Britton at all created a new set of questions, so I don’t think Buck escaped it entirely, but he definitely hewed too closely to a conservative idea of reliever usage.

Klaw: That’s all for this week – thank you as always for your questions and for reading.

The Lobster.

I watched The Lobster (amazoniTunes) because Tim Grierson and Will Leitch told me to. More specifically, they each named it one of their top six movies of the first half of 2016, and they raved about it on their indispensable podcast, and then my draft-blog colleague Chris Crawford told me he liked it, so I watched it. It is absolutely weird, one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen to actually star people I’ve heard of before, and in some ways it’s totally brilliant, even if the plot has holes and there are definitely moments that don’t quite come together.

The Lobster is a dystopian comic psychological horror-film romance, and sometimes manages to be a few of those things at the same time. Colin Farrell plays Dave, a somewhat hapless man whose wife is leaving him in the movie’s second scene – the first scene is too ridiculous to spoil – and who asks, in a bit of foreshadowing, if her new lover wears contacts. It turns out that Dave lives in a world where single people are sent to the Hotel, where, if they fail to find mates within 45 days, they’re turned into animals of their choosing. Dave chooses a lobster, and is congratulated for not choosing a dog, which most people choose, which is why there are so many dogs in the world. (The exact process by which this transformation takes place is, fortunately, not explained in the film.) Residents may add days to that spell if they help catch Loners, refugees from this mad state who live in the woods because they wish to be single, which apparently is seen as a sort of insanity in this alternate world. Dave eventually joins the Loners, then falls for a woman (Rachel Weisz) in their group, thus violating the Loners’ code and making them outcasts from both ends of this society.

Matches in this world occur on the basis of some shared flaw or issue; one girl (Jessica Barden), never identified by name, suffers from frequent nosebleeds, so another resident of the Hotel (Ben Whishaw) fakes nosebleeds to pair off with her. (Barden is adorable in her brief role and seems destined to appear in an Austen or Brontë adaptation.) Dave, thus, is looking for someone nearsighted like he is, although at one point he fakes being a sociopath to couple up with the woman in the Hotel who feels no emotions whatsoever and is the most efficient Loner catcher in the colony.

The whole endeavor is really nuts, and it’s made even more so by the absurd, robotic dialogue emanating from every character, as if they’re reading from a clinical or technical textbook. It takes social awkwardness to another level; these aren’t people who just can’t capture the rhythm of modern conversation, but can’t figure out what to talk about, ever.

Once Dave escapes the Hotel and joins the Loners, the humor fades, replaced by a claustrophobic sense once it becomes clear that the Loners’ lives are just as strictly regulated as those in the Hotel. (The humor isn’t gone, though; the Loners stage a raid on the Hotel at one point, and the way they torture the couples is brilliantly twisted.) Writers Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou spend the first half of the script appearing to decry our couples-obsessed civilization, right down to the idea of ‘matching’ by shared flaws or idiosyncracies, only to turn around and offer a take nearly as dark on remaining single. The entire film eschews any simple answers to the question of whether happiness comes through relationships, through self-reliance, or through any single prescription – even parenthood gets a sideswipe in the film’s funniest line.

Then there is The Lobster‘s ending, deliberately ambiguous, befitting the film’s overall theme, but one that I could see sparking debates for years. Does Dave return to the table? Does he complete the act we see him starting in the bathroom? Was Weisz’s unnamed character only pretending? What possible future could these two people have in a society where being single is essentially illegal, but where they lack the marriage certificate that the police ask for like identity papers?

Farrell is a revelation in this role, a sad-sack with an unfashionable hairdo and dated mustache who refuses to give up on life or the possibility of happiness; his is the one fully-realized character in the film, and you could interpret the whole exercise through his eyes alone, with the others all props in his quest for meaning. Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color) makes quite a bit of her role as the leader of the Loners, by turns compassionate and diabolical. Whishaw, John C. Reilly, and Broadchurch‘s Olivia Colman all add value in bit parts, but none of their characters have any depth to work with.

By the end, The Lobster reminded me tremendously of the films of Charlie Kaufman, a screenwriter who has some of the best ideas in film writing, but who struggles to see them through to a full plot. The first half of The Lobster sings as you explore its dystopian world, and the second half still has some of those moments, but the pacing becomes erratic as the movie progresses, and the plot begins to fray, especially in how the Leader finds out about Dave and his paramour, to try to add some narrative tension. But it’s a clever, insightful vision, thought-provoking on the hard subject of happiness without falling into easy answers, and the movie’s refusal to package everything neatly for us at the end feels like the only appropriate resolution for this kind of story. In the spirit of Grierson & Leitch’s show, I give it a solid B.

Stick to baseball, 10/8/16.

I wrote short preview pieces for all four Division Series:
Red Sox/Cleveland
Blue Jays/Rangers

My predictions are all terrible. But I did hold a Klawchat on Thursday.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the game Aquarium, which I found unbalanced and rather spiteful.

You can also preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

Klawchat, 10/6/16.

My Boston/Cleveland and Texas/Toronto ALDS previews are now up for Insiders.

Klaw: If I could buy my reasoning, I’d pay to lose. Klawchat.

Dave: Mariano Rivera pitched 3 innings in game 7 in 2003. I’m just sayin’.
Klaw: That idea, stretching out a normally one-inning reliever for nine outs, is so anathema to managers today I would be floored if anybody tried it. (Dave’s referring to the ALCS.) Maddon would be the only guy I could see doing that, since Chapman’s definitely capable of going more than three outs and is a free agent anyway so who cares.

Frank: Do you think what was referred to as “Catcher’s ERA” 10-20 years ago was an imperfect precursor to what we have more recently come to understand as the ways catchers impact results?
Klaw: It just had too much noise in it to be useful. But framing had to appear in there somewhere, right? If framing is real, it would mean pitchers’ ERAs by catcher would differ, and the problem with C-ERA is that the real effects were obscured by randomness.

Lyle: Given the current state of the Mariners COFs, it seems likely that Tyler O’Neill could be up as soon as the All-Star Break. Is there any reason to think that he could (or even should) break camp with the team, though? Muddle through in RF with some combo of Gamel/Smith/Heredia until then?
Klaw: No reason. I think he’d struggle with contact out of the gate anyway. He’s a solid prospect, but not a superstar.

MK: Mike Schur wrote a great piece on Mike Trout yesterday. Do you ever just shake your head at the people that are watching some Mantle/Griffey/Mays hybrid monster and not consider him to be the MVP? The guys career WAR is already higher than several hall of famers and hes only 25…Its a shame that i dont have the luxury to watch him more frequently.
Klaw: I work in an industry with a very mixed group of people – referring to the writers here – including a large subset of folks who just don’t want to change their thinking. Voting for Trout would invalidate years of believing it was one way, when it’s the other way.

Josh: Where does Bumgarner rank for you in the hypothetical “Pitcher (past and present) I would want starting for my team in a win or go home game.” ? Who would you place above him?
Klaw: Quite a few guys. I don’t think he’s any different in October than he is April-September. He’s great all the time, but he doesn’t have any special ability to pitch well in the postseason.

Tom V.: Thoughts on Ausmus being brought back for another year?
Klaw: A clear mistake. His misuse of young pitchers has been horrifying to watch. He’s just not good at the visible aspects of his job, and it’s hard to see how he can be so good at the invisible aspects that we could ignore the time he had Daniel Norris throw 50+ pitches in an inning.

Kevin W: What do you say to climate change deniers that sat stupid shit like it’s just weather? Any go to sites you use?
Klaw: You’re fighting way uphill with those twits. You could point out that if they don’t understand the difference between climate and weather, then they certainly shouldn’t be commenting on climate change.

ML: With the Falvey announcement made official on Monday, do you expect a complete overhaul of the scouting staff?
Klaw: My guess is player development gets overhauled, not amateur scouting. They also have no real dedicated pro scouting staff and I can only assume they establish one.

Carty: There’s been a lot of cooling on the idea of Eduardo Rodriguez becoming a 1/2 (which was the buzz for a while). What do you ultimately see for him going forward?
Klaw: I still think he gets there. He’s young, talented, a bit raw, raced through the minors and lost a lot of reps to injury (including pitching when he probably shouldn’t have). I’m very optimistic on him long-term.

Marty: No sketch comedy in the TV Book. What would you add if you could? Mr. Show for me all the way.
Klaw: The Muppet Show.

Dan: Am I stupid for being excited for the Wold Baseball Classic?
Klaw: Not at all. I enjoy parts of it. But I also don’t care if the U.S. wins; I’d kind of prefer that we don’t (hasn’t been a problem in the past!) because I think its purpose is more to grow the game globally than to promote it here. That said, stacking Team Israel or Italy with a bunch of Americans is silly. It’s not going to get the media coverage in the represented country if it’s not predominantly made up of players from there.

Frank: I believe you said a few weeks ago that you would not consider Happ for the Cy. Why not? Also, does Aaron Sanchez warrant a mention in the discussion?
Klaw: I wouldn’t consider Happ because he hasn’t been good enough.

Matt: Keith, I know this question deals with a lot of speculation, but if Atlanta can add a couple of starting pitchers either via FA or trade, is it plausible to think a winning record could happen next season? Thanks for answering.
Klaw: It does not seem plausible to me.

Santos: In a previous chat, you mentioned you take Escitalopram for anxiety/depression (and that it makes a significant difference), was that prescribed by a general practitioner? Did you bring up Escitalopram or did the doctor? I’d like to approach this subject with a medical professional but I don’t know where to start.
Klaw: Prescribed first by a GP. I’ve seen psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and other GPs since then and had scripts from each of them. I went in and discussed symptoms, and then the GP chose this drug and gave me a small xanax prescription because my anxiety was so bad I was having trouble sleeping. (This was shortly after my one huge panic attack in 2012, while driving on Staten Island … insert joke here.)

Archie: One thing that stands out about Bumgarner is how he is one of the most fierce competitors in our galaxy. As a scout, do you pay attention to the willingness of a kid to compete and the desire to win, or is that something that is hard to detect and shows up when the competition gets consistently better at the pro level?
Klaw: Nearly all MLB players are incredibly fierce competitors. It’s nonsense to say that Bumgarner is somehow different in that regard. If you’re not competitive, you don’t get this far without otherworldly talent, and most MLBers don’t quite have that latter thing.

Andrew: Read your Cleveland / Boston write-up. Couldn’t help but notice that the Red Sox were always referred to as the “Red Sox” and the Indians were always referred to as “Cleveland”. Thank you for doing that.
Klaw: Not an accident. I have not actually used Cleveland’s team nickname in my own writing in probably nine years. My editors have been very good about helping with that.

ML: The Twins are now on the clock! Everyone knows the Twins have had a difficult time developing pitchers. Do you have any idea what Twins fans should expect upcoming drafts to look like?
Klaw: No, not really. I can guess they’ll use the same Trackman/statcast-style data that other front offices have begun to use, including Cleveland’s. But I think until Falvey has more people in place below him I’m really just throwing ideas out there without any sound basis for them.

Tom: Last night an awful hitter was intentionally walked so the Giants could face the opposing pitcher instead. Remind me why the DH is bad again?
Klaw: You didn’t enjoy that bit of strategery?

James: Not sure how to word this. How do you feel about the Arizona management shake up? Your article probably did not alert the ownership of the problem unless they were hiding in a hole somewhere. However it was a very public way of outing bad decision making. I expect you feel bad for the guys but they made their choice of how to run the organization.
Klaw: It’s never personal; it was a legitimately newsworthy subject, that an MLB franchise was being run by people who were incapable of handling some fundamental aspects of their job, to the point that other MLB execs were commenting to me on how abysmal the situation was. They’re in a hole now that it will take them some time and creativity to get out of, from one of the game’s worst farm systems – I can’t see a top 100 prospect there anywhere – to a payroll that is nearly half committed to a good starter and a DH on a National League club. As for feeling bad, I’ve said before, I didn’t make any of those mistakes; I just organized them.

Harold: Do you like the Renteria choice by the White Sox?
Klaw: I wished he’d gotten more of a chance in his first gig, although obviously they went for the upgrade. But he also had some things he could have done better the first time around that he’ll have to improve now with this second chance. Everyone likes him as a person and a communicator, but on-field tactics, including stuff like defensive positioning and integrating the better info that comes from analytics, will be the key for him to be better the second time around.

Frank: Doesn’t the MVP question vis-a-vis Trout have to include a definition of what MVP means? Is Trout the best player alive? Yes. Did he have such a large impact on his team? Well, they still finished 2nd last in their division, so how much value could he have added? Was he valuable to MLB as a whole? Somewhat, although he would be more so in New York or Chicago, but should geography play into that? To me, an MVP has to be on a team that had a somewhat successful season, because then he provided value by lifting the team to a level it otherwise would not have achieved.
Klaw: He added a ton of value; they would have been unwatchable without him, probably the second-worst team in baseball, near 100 losses. Just because you don’t think there’s value in losing 88 games instead of 98 doesn’t mean that there isn’t.

John (Raleigh): Do you think it is possible for MiLB players to ever obtain collective bargaining rights? Separate or MLBPA offshoot. I know there are structural barriers to such a union, but my blood boils at the wage suppression tactics of MLB and it’s owners.
Klaw: Better question for someone who knows a little about labor law.

CB: Why do HOF voters say that they are waiting for the HoF to make a decision about steroid users? Clearly, they already have. When Pete Rose gambled, he was quickly banned for life by the HoF. Now, with steroids, no ban has been announced or even hinted at. De facto, the HoF has made clear that (1) Steroids are not as problematic as gambling, and (2) Steroids are not a disqualifier.
Klaw: And given Manfred’s comments on Ortiz, it’s pretty fucking clear that Bonds and Clemens belong in. We will forgive what we want to forgive.

Mark: When is the ’17 draft rankings coming?
Klaw: Soon, but I have other content I have to finish first (the NLDS stuff today) as well as some work on the book.

Mark: Do you have a budget at ESPN, as in if you want to hire someone do you have that freedom?
Klaw: No, and I’m not sure I want the responsibility of being a full-time manager on top of everything else I have to do.

Steve: “Hey let’s not give Trout the MVP award he deserves because Arte Moreno signed Pujols and Josh Hamilton! Makes sense! Mookie gets MVP for his crucial role in developing David Ortiz and acquiring Porcello and Price!”
Klaw: Exactly. The whole thing is stupid – it is a fabricated, selective definition of “value” that supports a preconceived notion.

James: To the 9% nationally who say you are voting for Gary Johnson – he doesn’t know who the leader of North Korea is or what is happening in Syria. Vote for someone with a chance to win.
Klaw: Or, take a look at the man’s actual platform, such as his plans for taxation, regulation, or dealing with climate change. Then if you still think he’s the right person for you, vote for him. But at least understand the man’s views, because in terms of economic and environmental policies he’s a lot closer to Trump’s platform than Clinton’s.

Bobby: Is there any grouping of words you hate more than “I know its a small sample size BUT…”? Shouldn’t everybody know by now that a SSS by definition is not indicative of a significant change?
Klaw: It’s not proof of a significant change – if the sample is too small we can’t tell if the change is significant or not. Over the years I’ve started to ignore more of these questions. I got at least a half-dozen on Sandy Fucking Leon this summer. Really?

J.P.: Per Nick Cafardo – “Bryan Minniti, Mike Bell, Ray Montgomery, Peter Woodfork and Kim Ng all in the running for D’Backs GM job” – who would you pick?
Klaw: Those are legitimately good names, and I know four of them well and one of them a little bit. I’m not going to go any farther than that until they make a hire.

Andy: Ubaldo Jimenez has been in the top 10 in his league in walks every year in the last 9. He also has been known to just lose a ball like in a wild pitch or HBP. Please explain to people that IBB Encarnacion is a bad idea.
Klaw: And the guy on deck, Jose Bautista, is good for 100 walks every full season. It was a terrible idea.

addoeh: Charleston, SC good choice for Top Chef? With so many good food towns, I would have preferred a road trip through the South, like last year in California.
Klaw: Yes, it’s a great food town, but I have to think they’ll branch out a little given the number of episodes.

Mark: Would you rather have Buddy Reed or Bryan Reynolds in your system?
Klaw: I rated Reynolds about forty spots higher on draft day and I wouldn’t change that at all. Reed can’t hit.

Harrisburg Hal: Do you have a go-to carrot soup recipe? I have a newfound affinity for it. I’ve tried about 4 different recipes with each being really different. Latest one was the ginger carrot soup from Boma at WDW.
Klaw: The one in Hugh Acheson’s The Broad Fork.

Alex: What is your opinion of starting rotations having RHP and LHP? Does it matter? Do you think the braves need to add a LH starter?
Klaw: I think it matters more in the postseason than the regular season.

Tom: Kris Bryant had a 7.7 WAR. The Cubs finished 17.5 games in first place. Obviously, the Cubs didn’t need Bryant to finish in first place. (I tried to make this sound as dumb as possible)
Klaw: Yep. When you create artificial rules around what constitutes value, you end up with these paradoxes.

Cody: I’ve always argued this with people from the devil’s advocate standpoint, but would love to hear your opinion. I constantly hear fans across baseball complain about how their ownership is “cheap” and doesn’t want to spend the money necessary to win. I’ve heard for years as a Pirates fan, and from other fanbases. I’ve always been skeptical of those kinds of statements because in reality, none of these people truly know what the books look like. I happen to think that for some of these owners, their teams are not the profit centers people paint them to be and are more doing it because it’s cool and as a way of civic pride. Where do you stand on this? Do you think that teams are actually not making the margins people imagine or the other way around?
Klaw: I think most teams are swimming in cash, but it’s their right to turn a profit. I don’t like when owners cry poverty and ask for government handouts, but I haven’t criticized any owners for choosing to take home profits rather than spending it on the payroll. (I would criticize owners for spending too little on scouts’ salaries, or not paying interns, or for the joke wages all teams pay minor leaguers, though. Those are drops in the bucket.)

Charlie: Thoughts on Cody Bellinger? Would you comp him to say, a Brandon Belt?
Klaw: I don’t like comps, but I will say on Bellinger that his year in 2016 was unexpected and kind of remarkable: He cut his strikeouts without losing all his power. That’s a huge adjustment for any kid, especially one on the young side, and I think players who make adjustments like that at young ages are marked for stardom.

JJ: How many ABs for a hitter against a specific pitcher before it’s no longer SSS, and actually significant?
Klaw: There is no such number. Just ignore them. Players change and by the time you got the hundred or more ABs you might need they wouldn’t be the same players anymore.

Joe: Could Trey Mancini have an impact for the Orioles next year? He looked okay in the few at bats he had this year.
Klaw: Don’t see it. Bench guy for me.

Ryan: Say tomorrow that baseball loses their anti-trust exemption… would there really be any negative setback for the sport?
Klaw: No but you would see some large structural changes. Probably first would be Oakland and/or Tampa Bay ownership looking at moving. I think – could be wrong on this – that territorial rights would go away in such a scenario so the A’s could just move to San Jose.

Bryan: (1/2) Klaw, long time reader. Was hoping you might have some helpful resources you can direct me to, just to cope with a situation that has recently thrown our whole family for a loop. Long story short: my wife (mid-30’s) recently revealed that she was abused as a child, by her sister’s husband (currently mid-40’s). No one knew it, not even me. She held it in for nearly 25 years. Of course, the man denies it and her sister has chosen to stay with him. We have very good reason to believe he is physically abusive (she has called the police on him before). As a result of all this, her sister has basically been isolated from the rest of our family, as her decision to stay with him is being seen as a tacit approval of his behavior. But I think the true reason she stays is because she is afraid of him, and for good reason. I feel like there is nothing we can do to this man, practically speaking.
Klaw: Part one… stay with me …

Bryan: (2/2) And part of me feels bad for shunning my sister in-law, knowing she is in a bad situation. But what else are we to do? We are seeking counseling, but other than that I can’t see of any other way to proceed, other than keeping our distance from her (we have children too, FWIW).
Klaw: I would suggest you contact RAINN, or perhaps call the national sexual assault hotline 800-656-4673, to ask for advice. I would shun your sister-in-law too if she can’t accept that her husband is abusive and won’t try to leave the marriage. I hope your wife is getting help through therapy; abuse survivors are at high risk for PTSD too.

John: Thoughts on Taylor Trammell and Mickey Moniak? Do they seem pretty similar to you in terms of value and/or potential?
Klaw: Totally different. Moniak’s a polished kid who can already hit quite a bit but doesn’t have a huge ceiling because he probably won’t get past 50-55 power. Trammell is less polished – not crude by any means – but has more upside as a power/speed type with more athleticism. IIRC he was a pretty high-contact guy in HS, though, so don’t classify him as just one another Georgia prep tools goof.

Ben: The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa is one of my favorite novels, but one of only a few Italian novels I’ve read. Any suggestions for similar writers/novels?
Klaw: I liked the two books I read by Alessandro Piperno – Persecution and the Worst Intentions.

JC: Looking forward, but if Heyward was a FA this year & signed an identical contract to what he has remaining, would you be OK with it?
Klaw: It would be excessive; he probably wouldn’t get that on the open market.

Joe: Could you ask your wife to update her blog (linked at the top). Her writing is good, but it hasn’t been updated in three years.
Klaw: Will do. Can’t promise anything though. She’s had a rough year.

JL: Having a good friend over for the weekend and want to make them a really nice dinner. I’ve drastically improved my cooking the past few years but said friend is vegetarian where the staple of most of my tried and true dishes are meat-based. Anything you’d recommend for a vegetarian based meal? Thanks!
Klaw: If dairy is OK, that’s what I would probably think of as the center of the meal – a souffle, a baked pasta dish, a frittata (egg and cheese). And lots of vegetables; that’s how I’m trying to cook now anyway, vegetables first, protein second.

Darryl: Will Senzel be the full time 3B at some point next season?
Klaw: Maybe by August? That’s not a crazy thought, given how fast Schwarber, Conforto, Bregman, and Benintendi all got there. He’s not quite as high-ceiling as those guys but I think he’s in their class as a hitter.

Andrew: If writers aren’t going to put Trout on the top of their MVP ballots because he’s not on a playoff team, by that logic shouldn’t they leave him off altogether? I mean, if they aren’t going to vote him #1, why would they vote him #2 ahead of Donaldson?
Klaw: To quote a certain gerbil, they don’t have the balls.

Jim: Hi Keith, do you like the 1 game Wild Card? I feel as if a three game series would be better and more fair. 1 game just seems so un baseball, even though I do love the instant drama.
Klaw: I prefer that to a three-game series where other teams are off for a week … and if you want three games, why not five? or seven? We’re going to have to accept some unfairness in any playoff system. Let’s at least get the fun aspect of instant elimination and all of us on twitter talking about the same game.

Frank: “I have better things to do.” Dumbest answer to an exit interview ever, a true indication he wasn’t qualified for the job or both?
Klaw: I’ll go with both. The man was simply overmatched by the requirements of the job. He had no relevant experience, had been out of the team side for 14 years, and was not forward-thinking in the least. But at least the Dbacks managed to employ a bunch of his – er, his wife’s – clients, so he’s still going to get paid by them!

Ryan: I know you hate this topic, but Tim Tebow is going to the AFL… on a scale of ‘vastly overmatched’ to ‘why is this dude even here?!’ how will he do?
Klaw: We know why he’s there, but I expect him to be vastly overmatched.

JJ: So, if the Diamondbacks are in that big a hole (and I agree with that assessment), should they actively try to deal Goldschmidt this off-season to speed up the rebuilding? He’s already 29 years old, but I could definitely see an AL team like the Red Sox or Yankees being very interested in him as a 1B/DH, and they would have the minor leaguers to deal.
Klaw: That would be the smartest strategy for speeding up a rebuild, but I would imagine ownership objecting to the team trading its best and I think most popular player.

Nick: With Moniak having limited power potential, who would you have chosen #1 in the draft Rutherford or Moniak? They seem to be similar players with Rutherford having a higher power ceiling.
Klaw: I think I ended up with Moniak one slot above Rutherford on my rankings, but I liked both guys a ton and either would have been a good choice. I thought both were top five talents in the class.

Scooter: The “I have better things to do” comment was taken massively out of context… everyone go read the transcript or watch the video please
Klaw: I did. And it wasn’t. He was relieved that the job was over, and said he had better things to do.

Mike: Re: Shunning – I think you want to shun because it seems like she’s protecting an abuser, but not because she can’t accept that he’s an abuser or won’t leave the marriage. At some point, she may need help getting out of that relationship. And the original poster and OP’s wife may want to be available to support that.
Klaw: I agree with that; I think the shunning is self-protection, too. The victim likely wants no contact with her abuser, and since Bryan has mentioned having kids, they shouldn’t want those kids anywhere near the abuser either. But to your point, we all have an obligation to help someone escape an abusive relationship if we are asked.

Anonymous: Highly recommend John O’Hara “Stories”that just came out. Fitzgerald & John O’Hara are up there on my favorite authors, can you suggest anyone stylistically like them?
Klaw: Thanks, I do love Appointment in Samarra. Some Graham Greene novels (not the Catholic ones) remind me of those two. Hangover Square is a bit in that vein, but darker. No one can really touch FSF for prose style in my view, though.

Henry: Keith, if you were named the MLB commissioner today, what are the first two or three things you would do to improve the game/system?
Klaw: The whole july 2 free agent system is broken and needs an overhaul. I’d sever free agency from the draft, at least so that you don’t lose a pick by signing a free agent. I’d pay minor leaguers a reasonable wage in exchange for an agreement not to sue. I’d resolve the Oakland stadium situation any way possible – probably by relocation, but whatever it is, they need a new home. And I think Manfred is already doing this, but I’d try to normalize MLB’s relations with Cuban baseball as the US normalizes relations with the Cuban government, so we can smooth the flow of players from Cuba to MLB and perhaps allow US players to go play there as well.

Alex: Manfred said he was open to changing the September call up rule. Can this happen for next season and what do you think is a reasonable fix to the current situation?
Klaw: Limiting the number of active players for any specific game would be a good start. The goal should be to make September baseball look like July baseball, not to constrain it to the point where it becomes a problem for, say, a 15-inning game.

JR: Is TJ Riveria an everyday MLB player? If you were the Mets, would you pencil him in as your everyday 2B next year, or look to upgrade (i.e., re-sign Walker?)
Klaw: No, barely a bench option. I might try to re-sign Walker for a year, because I’m not sure about Cecchini’s bat being good enough for 2b right now (and his throwing problems got worse this year, to the point where I don’t think he’s a shortstop).

Levi: If no Goldschmidt trade, perhaps Pollock?
Klaw: It would make sense. I also think Drury could start for someone, but not Arizona if Goldy is still there. They have pieces. They just need a different mind in charge. It’s just not that bad a roster.

Lucas: have you ever been to an “after hours” event at Magic Kingdom, i.e. Christmas party or Halloween Party. Im taking my 11 year old and 8 year old in November and wondering if it worth the extra $$
Klaw: I haven’t, because they’re expensive and being a cast member doesn’t get me any special privileges for those parties.

Andrew: Why did Eppler deal Santiago for Nolasco/Meyer? If I recall correctly, Santiago’s a free agent next year and they could’ve easily had gotten a comp pick out of him which has to have higher value than Alex Meyer at this point.
Klaw: They must believe that Meyer has untapped potential, although I think he’s far more likely to end up a reliever given his age and lack of progress.

Nick: If the gap between Moniak and Rutherford is so close, why were they drafted 17 spots away from each other? All signability concerns?
Klaw: All signability concerns. Rutherford was seen as a tough sign because he would have been sophomore-eligible out of college (2018 draft).

Nick: In regards to the Magic Kingdom question it is very much worth it.
Klaw: There you go. Thanks for the help.

Klaw: That’s all for this week – I have more writing to do and some errands that have to happen before my daughter gets home from school. Thank you all as always for your questions and for reading.

The Doxing of Elena Ferrante.

It was a bad weekend for American journalism, by which I mean it was kind of an atrocious weekend because the standard is already fairly low, with a TIME Inc. division firing its editor-in-chief for, apparently, hiring an adult film actress to write about sports, creating a fake columnist to argue with her, and then lying about the whole thing; and now a New York Post columnist saying Derrick Rose has made a bad first impression on Knicks fans with the “noise of a rape trial.” But all of that is sort of par for the course, especially in our little corner of the journalism world.

The real atrocity, however, was the soi-disant “premier literary-intellectual magazine in the English language,” the New York Review of Books, choosing to out pseudonymous author Elena Ferrante (whose best-selling novel My Brilliant Friend I reviewed this summer) by, among other things, combing through financial and real estate records. It was a malicious, tawdry exercise in placing money over integrity, the sort of yellow journalism we might expect from the Drudge Report or an alt-right site, doxing a woman who’d make it clear she wanted to remain out of the public eye.

The column, written by an Italian journalist, claims that Ferrante, by writing a quartet of bestselling novels, “has in a way relinquished her right to disappear,” while making no actual argument to support this claim, probably because the author – and the NYRB editors who must have died on the way to work that morning, given their abdication of their responsibilities by letting the piece run – can’t do so. There was simply no public need to know at work here. Ferrante is not a public figure, not a politician, not a businessperson seeking tax breaks or handouts, not claiming to be anything at all that she’s not. She’s a successful author who sought to speak through her writing, and to barely speak at all through any other medium.

Outing an author who sought anonymity for its own sake would be bad enough, but here a male reporter has chosen to reveal the identity of a female author who may have (or have had, I suppose) motivations for her secrecy that should, if nothing else, have kept this article from seeing the light of day. What if Ferrante is a victim of domestic abuse, hiding from her former partner? Or a rape or sexual assault victim doing the same? Whatever her reason(s) for choosing to write and remain behind a pseudonym, it is not for any of us to choose to unmask her, to decide that this reason isn’t good enough to maintain the veil … but a woman may choose to hide her identity out of fear of physical harm. This muckraker, with the help of a periodical that aspires to intellectual superiority, has put this woman on blast for no discernible benefit to anyone but the writer and the publication, with no apparent concern whatsoever for whatever physical or emotional consequences Ferrante herself might suffer. Ferrante appears to have been simply too successful for this man or the New York Review of Books to allow her to succeed in peace.

(As of 11 am on Monday, I haven’t heard any response, via email or Twitter, from NYRB. I will update if one appears.)

UPDATE: The woman outed as Ferrante has confirmed the account (in Italian), and has opened a Twitter account (same) to say she will never speak about Ferrante’s books and to call the revelation a “vulgar and dangerous … violation of privacy and norms.”

Music update, September 2016.

Just a not-very-subtle reminder that you can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter, the latest issue of which went out yesterday.

September turned out to be a huge month for new tracks, from some of my favorite alternative acts to some major names in metal, and I struggled to pare this playlist to twenty songs. It’s good to get to be selective, though. Spotify users can link to the playlist directly.

Everything Everything – I Believe It Now. A one-off single from the group, who placed two songs very high on my top 100 of 2013 and whose third album, Get to Heaven, finally appeared in the U.S. earlier this year. Their music doesn’t really sound like anybody else’s, although in this case they’ve toned down some of the lyrical insanity of their prior singles.

Wild Beasts – Big Cat. Another English band that, like Everything Everything and alt-J, makes artful, unexpected music that’s definitely rock(ish) but defies many conventions of structure and sound within the genre. Wild Beasts’ album Boy King is one of the best albums of 2016, more melodic than their previous album, 2014’s acclaimed Present Tense. This track is one of among my favorites, not least for the line “big cat top of the food chain” in the chorus.

Van William – Revolution (feat. First Aid Kit). Friend of the dish Van Pierszalowski – no relation to A.J. Pierzynski – has released his second single under the Van William moniker, separate from his main work with WATERS, and it’s a very strong, hooky folk-rock track very much in the vein of the previous single “Fourth of July.”

Grimes – Medieval Warfare. This track from the Suicide Squad soundtrack, written from the perspective of character Harley Quinn, isn’t quite up to the caliber of Art Angels, especially since she sings so much of it in that little-girl voice that killed “Oblivion” for me.

Mt. Si – Oh. That’s Sarah Chernoff of Superhumanoids on vocals for her new project, named after a mountain in Washington state. It’s more ethereal – even spacey – than her work with Superhumanoids, but her voice carries the day whatever the music. Mt. Si’s debut EP, Limits, dropped back in February.

D.A.R.K. – The Moon. Featuring the Cranberries’ lead singer and the Smiths’ bassist, D.A.R.K. released their first album, Science Agrees, last month, an understated, bass-heavy record of gothic-electronic tracks like this one, which I thought had the best hook on the record.

Dagny – Ultraviolet. This Norwegian pop singer’s “Backbeat” made my top 100 last year and has been a steady favorite of my daughter’s since the song came out; I haven’t loved Dagny’s singles this year to that extent but she definitely has a ‘sound’ that I think deserves a wider audience here than it’s gotten so far.

The Radio Dept. – Swedish Guns. Sometimes I’m putting together these lists and come across a song by an act I’ve never heard of, so I assume they’re relatively new, only to find out that, as in the case of the Swedish duo The Radio Dept., they’ve been recording for over a decade. Their fourth album, Running Out of Love, comes out later this month, and this lead single is sort of a stoner/electronic track, like dream-pop without much pop.

Little Green Cars – The Song They Play Every Night. This Irish quintet had my favorite song of 2013, “Harper Lee,” but the rest of their debut album lacked the soaring hooks of that Mamas-and-Papas-inflected track. This song, from their March album Ephemera, is subtler but no less beautiful for its understatement, while still harkening back to the earliest days of folk music from the ’60s.

Preoccupations – Stimulation. The band formerly known as Viet Cong is back under a new, less-controversial name, although they still sound a lot like early Interpol and the early ’80s post-punks who influenced that band. Preoccupations is an intense, unsettling record where there’s almost too much going on to grasp it all at once – but I think, given the band’s and album’s name, that may have been their intent.

Nick Murphy – Fear Less. Another name-changer, as Murphy previously recorded under the (stupid) name Chet Faker. The slow build here from ambient electronica to drum-and-bass chaos is made more potent by the lack of a real resolution, a la Mercury Rev’s “Hercules” from All is Dream.

Lucius – Pulling Teeth. Lucius’s sophomore album Good Grief came out in March, with a pair of strong singles in “Born Again Teen” and “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain,” but the Brooklyn band is releasing a two-song, 10″ single with two songs that didn’t make the cut, including this track about the writer’s block they encountered while writing the album.

La Sera – Queens. The main project from Katy Goodman, the former bassist of the Vivian Girls, La Sera put out an album in March that didn’t feature any standout songs for me, but this title track from their new five-song EP is one of their best … as is the EP’s closer, a bass-heavy cover of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

Mona – In the Middle. This Ohio band hasn’t released anything since 2013’s “Goons (Baby I Need It All),” but this title track from a forthcoming EP sounds like they’re aiming for more mainstream airplay without losing that slightly grating edge that’s always populated their music.

Opeth – Sorceress. These guys used to be a metal band, I swear. I know their post-metal dive into prog-rock is incredibly divisive, but they’ve produced some brilliant moments across their last two albums with nary a trace of their extreme-metal roots. This song, though, goes even further back than their ’70s progressive roots, to late ’60s/early ’70s psychelic rock, married with Sabbath-esque doom metal riffing and drum work.

Ghost B.C – Square Hammer. The best track among the five new songs on the deluxe edition of their 2015 album Meliora, featuring the Grammy-winning “Cirice,” which I mention mostly because a black-metal band won a Grammy and its singer accepted the award in corpse paint.

Alcest – Je suis d’ailleurs. I wasn’t familiar with Alcest before this record, probably because their 2013 album Shelter saw them abandon metal for straight shoegaze, where prior to that they’d been dubbed a ‘blackgaze’ band that merged black metal with shoegaze, much as the critically acclaimed (and unlistenable) Deafheaven have since done. This song finds Alcest returning to their previous blend of post-rock walls of sound and heavy but not too extreme metal, sort of like My Bloody Valentine as a post-metal act.

Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake. In a fourteen-month span from September 2015 to November 2016, the five biggest thrash bands ever (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Testament) will release new albums, making me wonder if I’ve slipped into a wormhole back to high school. Unlike those other bands, though, Testament never broke through the way the Big Four did; they had the chops, but not the hooks. Today, though, they might be the best of the five, because their sound has evolved, incorporating heavier sounds like black metal and the regrettably-named “groove metal” into their traditional thrash, which gives Chuck Billy & company more shot at creating memorable hooks. I’m cautiously optimistic.

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate, Pt. 4. I really liked this Finnish melodic death metal band’s 2014 album Shadows of a Dying Sun, but their newest album, Winter’s Gate, is a single 40-minute track that I found a little hard to get my head around. On Spotify the track is broken into more digestible chunks, and this particular one stands out as something akin to a single. Insomnium mixes clean and growled vocals well, and aren’t afraid to use some less metal instrumentation, all of which is in evidence here.

Dark Tranquillity – The Pitiless. One of the forefathers of the melodic death metal movement and its Gothenburg scene, DT will release their eleventh album, Atoma, on November 4th, their first without founding bass player Martin Henriksson. Where fellow Gothenburg acts have disappeared for two decades (At the Gates), devolved into hackneyed thrash/death territory (Arch Enemy), or just plain suck (In Flames), Dark Tranquility have expanded their sound as much as the limits of melodic death metal might allow, evident here on this very heavy track, which is highlighted by some pedal-point guitar riffing between the growled verses.