Klawchat 4/6/17.

Questions go in the frame below, not the comments!

We’re also just 19 days from the release of Smart Baseball, which you can preorder now via Harper Collins’ official page for the book.

Keith Law: Getting what you want can be dangerous. Klawchat.

addoeh: How big of a gap is there between the value of J. Baez and I. Happ? If included in otherwise similar packages, is it the difference getting a #1/2 starter and a #2/3 starter?
Keith Law: I think Happ’s probably about as valuable as Baez is, given Baez’s known flaws and additional year of service. I’m not sure either headlines a deal for an ace – Eloy probably has to be in such a trade either way.

EricVA: What ever happened to Jesus Montero? Was he just overhyped? Did the Mariners make an adjustment that ruined him? Was he just a spectacular bust?
Keith Law: PED guy with what turned out to be very questionable makeup.

Gabriel: Hey KLAW, when is your first mock draft coming out?
Keith Law: Mid-May. I don’t think mocks this early have any value to readers. They’re just wild-assed guesses.

Dan: I know you are not a hitting coach but how would a long swing turn into a short swing (i.e Jason Heyward)?
Keith Law: When a player has a shoulder injury and changes the swing to prevent pain.

Woland: Hey Keith, any thoughts on Brandon Finnegan for this year? SSS obviously but he looked great in his start. Is he a potential top of rotation guy, or more middle of the road? thanks!
Keith Law: I think he ends up in the bullpen.

Josh Meyer: Do you see the Twins drafting Hunter Greene with the top pick?
Keith Law: No, I think it’s more likely they take a college guy like McKay there. But I would probably take Greene myself, given what I know now. I’m supposed to see him pitch tomorrow.

S.S. Size: Wow, can you believe it!? Mad-Bum is on pace to hit 60+ home runs!
Keith Law: Go away. I don’t want to hear from you until at least Memorial Day.

David: Steven Matz ever pitch a full season?
Keith Law: Maybe once. Cashner and Ross both did it, and both came in with injury and/or delivery concerns.

Travis: What are your thoughts on Adam Haseley?
Keith Law: First rounder. CF who never strikes out. I was skeptical of the power but he’s hitting the ball harder this year.

Dan from Cincy: When do you start hearing who specific teams seem to be targeting in the draft? Have you heard anything yet on the Reds at #2?
Keith Law: For most teams, not until May. However, the Reds are high enough in the draft and clear enough in their actions so far that I would say it’s 90% that they take Greene or McKay.

Darren: Hello Keith,
I have a friend with a son that is starting to experience issues with anxiety. I recommended she have her son read your work as you speak out about your personal issues. What would you recommend for a young boy first trying to come to understand and deal with this illness. Thanks for all you do.

Darren
Keith Law: Therapy is key, because he will need someone to help him understand what emotions/feelings are normal and what are the anxiety taking over. I also always counsel folks to consider medication, and to look at meditation, exercise, and possibly adjusting their diet (especially if the anxiety is affecting his stomach) too.

Ryan: Complete Cards homer so I admit bias but I would like to respectfully disagree with your opinion that Yadi does not belong in the HOF. He is currently sitting around 33 WAR which is pretty low by HOF standards. My issue is that Yadi’s best skill set is probably the one thing WAR is the worst at quantifying. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Yadi has had as good if not better defensive career than Omar Vizquel who is currently 7 dWAR ahead of him.
Keith Law: 33 WAR is absurdly low by HoF standards, even if we just look at catchers, and if you’re gifting Yadi a bunch of wins for catcher woo, you have to gift some to every catcher already in the Hall for a fair comparison.

Kyle KS: Preordered the book, excited for it! Speaking of baseball books, do you ever get into biographies like Ankiel’s upcoming one?
Keith Law: No interest in that.

J: So, the endless fattening of pitching staff calf is starting to get comedic. While I love the Bethancourting of rosters, it’s frustrating and boring to have a three-man bench. After the Indians postseason bullpen usage, and the Reds claiming they will have multi-inning relievers abounding, do you think there’s a chance of a team making the move back to an 11-man staff, leaving room for an actual 5-6 man bench? The team that does it and succeeds…. all the base with belong to them.
Keith Law: I think it’ll be a while before any team tries that (the smaller staff) because everyone is so terrified of overworking pitchers. (Except the Orioles, I guess, who ran Bundy out there for the seventh when he was throwing 88-90 last night.) First we’ll have to see managers develop a new model for using multi-inning relievers, and then you might see a team willing to back off the eight-man bullpen, which I agree is utter insanity.

Zeon: Did you ever play any baseball simulation video games, like Micro League, Tony LaRussa or OOTP? If so, which was your favorite(s)?
Keith Law: I played some Micro League and Earl Weaver Baseball as a kid.

Dana: Suzyn Waldman is the latest media member to take a shot at Clint Frazier. Are there character issues with Frazier or is this just a guy who rubs some people the wrong way because he dares to have fun playing baseball?
Keith Law: Apparently she made the whole story up, for which she should be suspended. I wouldn’t say much for her bona fides as a journalist, but she is a member of the press, and fabrication is a cardinal sin.

John from Northern Virginia: I know medication can help keep depression and anxiety in check when the insanity of the word comes crashing in around one’s rational view. Do you have any favorite strategies for coping when the meds just aren’t enough? (other than starting to drink heavily, of course). Thanks again.
Keith Law: Yeah, I don’t recommend booze as a long-term strategy. But you’ve probably noticed I’m taking in more movies and haven’t slowed up at all on my reading. A little escapism helps as long as you don’t lose contact with reality.

Chris: I’m interested in getting your take on the Cards extension of Molina (3 yr /$60M.) As a Cards fan, I don’t mind overpaying a little for fan sentiment as long as it doesn’t seriously hamper the teams ability to compete down the road. Does this deal seam to find that balance?
Keith Law: I think that deal may also include the price of him mentoring Carson Kelly for a transitional year or two. I hope so, actually, because I think it’s a good use of Molina’s skills and because I think it can turn Kelly from a potentially above-average regular into a star.

Andy: Now that the season has started, we can definitively say that the Giants haven’t figured out their bullpen, Cleveland will be carried by their hitting, and that Seattle and Texas won’t attain last year’s heights. We know all this so why watch anymore baseball this year? Things are decided.
Keith Law: You forgot that the Blue Jays are doomed.

Nelson: What do scouts mean when they said ” that player doesn’t have a good make up”?. What is make up ?
Keith Law: Character. Personality. Work ethic, aptitude, perseverance, ability to work with others. It can also include off-field stuff, so “bad makeup” might also mean he drinks too much or has had problems with the law.

Brady: Coming out of HS, were there character questions with Clint Frazier in his scouting report?
Keith Law: Not at all. Cocky kid who could back it up. I’m pissed that Waldman decided to sandbag the kid like that.

Andy: So Ian Kahaloa cost himself probably much needed development time. Is that a 20 mental makeup? I mean, I don’t want to yell at a cloud here, but it seems like posting a video of you doing illegal drugs is more than just a youthful mistake.
Keith Law: It sounds like addiction rather than just stupidity. He needs help and I hope he’s getting it.

Nick: Yo that Earl St. Clair from your playlist is smackin’!
Keith Law: Contrary to what he says, he’s got it like that.

Erich: Watched the Orioles game last night and Bundy’s stuff looked as good as I have ever seen. IF (big IF) he remains healthy, how high is his ceiling?
Keith Law: Except it wasn’t. His fastball was down from last year, and way down by the end of his start.

Nick: Do you watch Archer? Some of the best comedy writing I’ve seen.
Keith Law: I used to but dropped off around season 4 when they tried that Vice storyline that kind of ruined the show.

Derek: Scouting report on Trea Turner’s defense at SS? My recollection is that you thought he’d have enough arm to stick there. So far he looks good – seems to have good range to his right and his arm is solid and accurate (if not a cannon). One would expect his athleticism to play there…
Keith Law: Arm was there, footwork was fine, worried about his slight frame holding up under the work of a middle infielder but I think he’s filled out better than i expected.

Jeff: What does Michael Gettys’ hit tool need to be to be an average or better major leaguer? Likelihood he gets there?
Keith Law: He’s not getting there. I don’t think it’s even a 10% chance. He can’t find a swing that works, and he’s been through quite a few already.

Robert: Twins opening day broadcast, Dan Gladden comments how it’s such a great day for sons and fathers. Sent my wife through the roof. She also loathes every ‘women, wine, and baseball’ type of event. It’s this kind of passive sexism that needs to be changed if MLB wants to grow. Women can enjoy sports just like men, without having to wear pink jerseys, drink wine, and told that it’s worth going to see Kris Bryant in tight pants.
Keith Law: When people complain about hearing women (like my friend and colleague Jess Mendoza) on sports broadcasts, I’d like to send them this comment and see if they are similarly bothered by 19th century sexism too.

Burns: Higher ceiling, Franklin Perez or Forrest Whitley? Which is more likely to reach it?
Keith Law: Whitley definitely has the higher ceiling for me.

Brett : How many of Buxton, Sano, Kepler, Rosario and Polanco will become above average everyday regulars?
Keith Law: Yes, yes, yes, no, maybe.

Poppy: What are some good coffee places in San Diego? As a coffee novice espresso seems a bit strong what would be some of your recommendations for trying to get into it?
Keith Law: Love Bird Rock there. James and Copa Vida are solid. Espresso doesn’t have to be strong, but you might start by asking for a gibraltar (or a cortado), a drink that has some milk in it but not enough to drown the coffee out like a latte would.

Jeff: I’m a huge fan of your work. Have you ever considered writing a book? I bet it would be great.
Keith Law: I have indeed considered that.

Moltar: So Lugo and Matz are down and Montero looked Monterrible in long relief yesterday. After Three Children In An Overcoat (aka Sean GilMartin), I have to imagine an off the board guy will make some meaningful starts for the Mets. The guy I’ve pegged is Chris Flexen. He’s had some injuries, but with some Warthen tutelage I think he can be this year’s Gsellman. What say you Klaw?
Keith Law: Flexen could be that 12th man type who helps, but what Gsellman did last year (adding a full grade of fastball) is kind of nuts and I wouldn’t predict that for anyone.

Dante: When a pitcher is coming off a major injury (shoulder, elbow), how much do they usually work on fixing mechanics, or changing pitch mix (i.e., changing what likely got them injured in the first place)? It seems most pitchers go right back to what they were doing before, which likely leads to the injuries coming back.
Keith Law: Depends on the organization. Some teams will use that opportunity to rework a delivery. Marcos Molina’s stuff is down, but post-TJ he’s got his arm slot back up close to where it was when he first signed.

Nelson: Can you help me out: Is it incorrect to say “a high rate of speed” when refering to something going fast? I always thought that was wrong but then I saw it in a NYTimes piece so maybe Im the dummy
Keith Law: I thought the word for that was velocity.

Marcus: In your opinion, when is the right time to call up Cody Bellinger? By all accounts (aside from his ST batting average) he looks every bit a big leaguer right now. I’m sure they feel like Toles has earned a spot, but would a Bellinger/Joc/Puig OF be better?
Keith Law: They may want him to come up as a 1b, in which case there’s an immovable object that will slow his timetable.

Matt : Who do you think is second on padres board (after Greene of course)
Keith Law: I’ve heard Austin Beck for them and the Rays, which was why I raced down there on Monday (and saw him do squat).

Wood: Do you think Andruw Jones belongs in the HOF?
Keith Law: Probably not, but he has a better case than Yadi. I just think Jones’ career was too short; how many HoFers were done at age 31 other than guys who died young like Addie Joss?

Matt : Going to have new draft rankings coming out soon?
Keith Law: Later this month – we’ve pushed some things back because the draft is late (June 12) and so I can do a top pro prospects update next week, by which point #1 and #2 will have graduated along with Josh Bell.

Dmitry : My patient, who is a Murray Chass old school kinda guy bet me a dinner at Rao’s (he has a table) that Beltre will not make the HOF within his first 2 years of eligibility. I say he does. Do you agree or is too much of his value tied to underappreciated SABR metrics?
Keith Law: I think he does because of two factors. One, the electorate is slowly changing. Two, the old school is going to recognize his milestones – he’ll get to 3000 hits this year and probably retires with 500 homers – and will simply consider his defense and clubhouse effects as additional positives.

Darren: Hi Keith, What are you thoughts on Braden Shipley. Can he recover from the mismanagement of the previous regime. Did you happen to see him? What is his ceiling now? Thanks.
Keith Law: I’ve heard the new regime is trying to work on his delivery to restore some of the lost power but I haven’t seen it myself. I didn’t put him on my breakouts list, despite past faith in his offspeed stuff, because I heard in spring training that it’s still a lot of average.

No Pepper On The Grass: My team can’t score a touchdown, so I’m going to invoke the nuclear option and change the length of the football field to 80 yards.
Keith Law: That seems fair.

LA Baseball Fan: Hi Keith. Love the chats. Do you think Hunter Green is a first round talent as a SS? If so why? Is his arm at that position enough?
Keith Law: Yes. He has a 70 arm at short. top ten pick as a SS.

Harrisburg Hal: At what Eastern League parks are you most likely to be seen? Reading? Trenton? Would love to catch you in Harrisburg.
Keith Law: Reading and Trenton most likely. I’ve been to one game in Harrisburg and two in Bowie since I moved here.

Niklas: Why is there a rule 5 draft? It just seems like a lot of times it actually hurts the players that are drafted. Tyler Goeddel sat on the bench on a bad team for a whole year when he really needed at bats. How does that help the development of these players?
Keith Law: Its purpose was to help players from becoming trapped in loaded farm systems when they could help a major-league club. The rule change about ten years ago undid a lot of that, so now eligible players are often too far away to handle the jump. Goeddel should have played more in the second half last year, though. I don’t understand the Phillies taking him, keeping him all year and all winter, not playing him enough for a real look, and then dumping him this week.

Tim (NJ): Finnegan’s start last night for the Reds got a lot of buzz in Cincinnati – up to 94-96, vastly improved changeup. Know you were on him as reliever a while ago – anything change since then?
Keith Law: Answered above, but I’ve seen him hit 97 before.

Erik: Did you get a chance to listen to any audiobooks during all your driving? If so, any new recommendations? You’ve been 2 for 2 for me so far with Ballad of the Whiskey Robber and Undeniable.
Keith Law: I listened to Delusions of Gender (interesting but dry) and I Contain Multitudes (a strong 70 for me). I’m now listening to S-Town like all the cool kids.

John: If you were the Astros, would you include Martes and Tucker in a deal for Quintana?
Keith Law: Yes, I would, but I don’t think that reported deal was ever on the table.

RobertM: Congrats on your new, and I gather first book. That’s has to be exciting. I know this has been asked previously, but will there be any bookstore signings, or perhaps at other types of locations?
Keith Law: Thank you, it is indeed my first but I hope not my last. I know I’ll be at the Georgia Center for the Book on May 16th, and have been invited to one or more Pitch Talks events, including one in Toronto on June 26th. I’ve talked to Changing Hands in AZ about doing one in October too. Interested bookstores or other venues should contact Danielle Bartlett at Harper Collins; if I can accommodate something in my regular travels, I’m happy to do these.

Greg P: Are the Royals stunting the development of Raul Mondesi by having him start at the major league level? Would he be better off getting some time in AAA?
Keith Law: I think so. But I also didn’t agree with how they developed him in the minors, such as asking him to bunt for hits when he hadn’t figured out how to work the count effectively.

Hinkie: Is Pavin Smith the best hitter in this year’s draft? Also, will he be there at 1-8 for the Phillies?
Keith Law: Not the best hitter, or in the top five. He’ll be there at 8 and I bet he’ll be there at 9 too.

RobertM: Just saw the news on James Kaprielian. Hopefully rest cures what ills him, but doesn’t look encouraging. If you had to guess, is the rise in TJS all velocity related? And related, did you ever see the film Fastball and your thoughts.
Keith Law: I think year-round pitching is one major reason, higher velocity a minor one. Jeff Passan’s book The Arm is the must-read on this subject. Never seen that movie.

Justin: Do you see Adam Frazier ever becoming anything more than a decent bench player?
Keith Law: I do not.

CB: Remember all the people who said that voting for Clinton and voting for Trump were one and the same? I wonder what happened to all of those people?
Keith Law: Actually I ran into a few online who called me a few names and said I was just falling for the corporate whatever it was I stopped listening.

Doug: Do you think Miguel Diaz is a potential starter for the Padres? He’s looked nasty against the Dodgers so far this season.
Keith Law: Because he’s throwing one inning at a time. Last year was the closest thing he’s ever had to a healthy season, and he didn’t reach 100 innings or pitch above low-A. I think he could be a really good reliever.

Chris: Any insight into Szapucki’s arm issues? I’ve heard something is up.
Keith Law: He has a shoulder impingement. That’s public info.

Chris: Soooooo the Mets are definitely ruining Conforto right?
Keith Law: They’re ruining their lineup.

Wade: How much do you pay attention to college seniors?
Keith Law: Only if they’re tabbed as prospects, like Wil Crowe (technically a redshirt junior, but he’s going to be 23 in september).

Chris: First in the queue for the book at Portland PL! Does it make me a bad person for not buying it? (I do pay for Insider mostly for your work fwiw)
Keith Law: Read it and tell the world it’s wonderful and I’ll forgive you.

Andy: Will Shohei Otani be able to hit and pitch in MLB?
Keith Law: No. His bat is way overhyped.

Scott: Braves were really aggressive by promoting Allard and Soroka to AA. Seems like they?re rushing them a bit, no?
Keith Law: It’s aggressive. I think Allard can handle it, might even need it so he’s not just getting by on that curveball. Soroka surprised me more, but they have so many starters they needed to bump someone up to make room.

Josh: Cedric Mullins: is he a prospect worth watching, and what are your thoughts on the Orioles starting him in Bowie? Seems uncharacteristically aggressive.
Keith Law: He’s a good little player, made the end of my O’s org report based primarily on one good scouting report on him. I saw him homer in a big league game last week – good athlete, can run, little dude but strong hands.

Nelson: How’s your dog doing?
Keith Law: She’s insane. Although right now she’s sleeping because I ran her ragged earlier.

Snitker: Will Ronald Acuna be in AAA by the end of the year?
Keith Law: I don’t understand why Atlanta fans all want to rush Acuna. Look at how little he’s played anywhere above short-season.

forever it: How much does MLB bloodlines factor into prospect evaluations? For instance, every item I read on Vlad Jr. mentions his dad’s approach and body type, but I’ve never once seen someone note a guy’s non-MLB dad is, say, morbidly obese or something and say he may have weight concerns later on. Do teams overvalue this, dreaming on a Bonds or Griffey, even though they’re more likely to get a Gwynn Jr.?
Keith Law: Non-MLB dads and even moms can be considerations in the draft. I remember seeing one first-rounder’s parents, who probably combined to weigh about seven bills, and factored that into where I ranked him. (He didn’t pan out, but I don’t want to shame the kid’s parents here.) Scouts absolutely look at that stuff.

Matt: Huge fan of yours. I wondered if you ever read books along the lines of “I’m just reading this to learn something” as opposed to fiction/nonfiction books. They’re not the greatest examples, but the first that come to mind; books like Blink or Tipping Point. If so, do you have recommendations for any books that aren’t novels that will open windows into some new learning views?
Keith Law: Yes – if you search the dish you’ll find reviews for books like Thinking Fast and Slow, The Invisible Gorilla, Predictably Irrational, and Superforecasting, which would all fit what you’re looking for.

Jeff: A NYT story this week suggested the showcase circuit has destroyed fundamentals, down to the ability for college prospects to play catch. Is this an actual thing?
Keith Law: That’s a histrionic take on a real issue. Kids are absolutely taught to show off for the scouts at those events rather than to play real games and thus develop greater feel.

Tu PAC : The buzz at the back fields in Surprise for the Rangers was Leody Taveras, which was to be expected, but also Cole Ragans. Did you get a chance to see Ragans this spring, and is he someone who could shoot up the prospect lists this summer?
Keith Law: I didn’t, because they only played one game while I was there (I think). I have heard good things, mostly because he has uncommon feel for pitching for his age. It’s not a huge fastball.

Jack: Which Phillies prospect are you most interested in seeing?
Keith Law: The whole Lakewood rotation, really.

Kendall: As someone who suffers from anxiety, I second Keith’s comments. Therapy, once I finally went, helped me understand what was happening, and was immensely helpful.
Keith Law: Just passing this along.

Tevin: If you?re the Twins, how do you pass on Hunter Greene? 102 at 17 y/o? Lord. They need pitching, but he gives you two potential players in one to bank on. Also, Falvey known for developing pitchers in CLE ? great match. Kid seems like he ?gets it? too.
Keith Law: I think you take him, you send him out this summer as a shortstop, with the plan to pitch him in 2018. Maybe he does something either way as a hitter in the GCL to change your mind or reinforce it.

Jeffrey: Any plans to go to the Pacific NW and check out the #1 rated Oregon St. team?
Keith Law: No. Good college team doesn’t necessarily mean good draft prospects.

T: Kaprielian headed for an MRI. On a 1-10 how despondent should I be?
Keith Law: Start at 4, but keep your hand on the dial. Soon as you hear it, pump up the volume.

TJ: Saw former Tiger prospect Kevin Ziomwek retired after not being able to come back from thoracic outlet surgery. What sort of prospect did you see him as?
Keith Law: Probably a reliever in the long run. I guess the stuff never came back.

Jim: Travis Blankenhorn look like the future 3B of the Twins?
Keith Law: You know, I saw him last week in Fort Myers, and 1) oh my god is he huge and 2) he actually wasn’t that bad at third for a guy his size. Maybe he’s a 2b instead, but he can scorch the ball.

Rod: Does Hader get called up before Martes?
Keith Law: Hoy es jueves, entonces creo que no los vemos antes de martes.

Scott: Hi Keith. What would your best advice be to a father of 10-year-old daughter who wants to know why she only has the option of playing softball while boys get to play baseball (which is what she wants to play, although not with boys)
Keith Law: Ah, that’s a tough one. She should be allowed to play with boys (except in Iowa or Arkansas, where they have yet to turn the clocks to 1950 yet). But your question is a tougher one, the kind of thing that book Delusions of Gender gets at – girls do less because we condition them to do less, not because there’s anything different about their brains.

Sterling Mallory Chris Archer: So I’ve been reading your chats every week since you started on ESPN, but I’m curious, what more would you like to accomplish professionally?
Keith Law: Another book, not about baseball. Then we’ll see.

Skippy: Currently watching the Cardinals game and cubs abnouncer is making a big deal about Matt Carpenter being a coaches child and about how important that can be. I’m sure it has its positives if your dads a good coach but does it really make THAT much difference like so many announcers seem to believe? I hear it pretty often about certain players. It kinda feels like the same thing as when we refer to small framed white players as “scrappy” to me
Keith Law: I think that can go both ways. I’ve met players who were sons of big leaguers and showed shockingly little feel for the game. A couple were even to the point where I’d call them entitled.

Chris: What are you expecting from Zach Wheeler this year?
Keith Law: Maybe 100 good innings as a starter and long reliever.

Scott: Who has the best slider in baseball? Saw Sale from behind home last night, and I would be impressed if there’s one better.
Keith Law: Kershaw? I agree that Sale’s is up there. I’ve told the story before, but he didn’t have that pitch in college. I remember talking to a scout after Sale pitched against Lipscomb and the scout called Sale’s breaking ball that day a 3 (or 30).

Keith Law Disciple: Do you have any insight on what happened to Javy Guerra last year? Overhyped to begin with, injury, new team, other? Thanks!
Keith Law: A medical issue that I think has been mostly resolved, at least enough for him to resume his career.

Justin: Any chance Piscotty just cost himself a LOT of money with that extension? I get the security aspect, but even if he improves marginally from last year that is a steal for the team
Keith Law: I agree it’s a potential steal for the team but that’s a lot of security too. I will never criticize a player for taking the money, whether it’s choosing the higher offer in free agency or choosing security with an early long-term deal. Good for him.

Dan: I found Jayson Stark’s column on how no current MLB players are among America’s top 50 favorite pro athletes.I think attitudes of the Ian Kinslers of the world are contributing. While his commentary had a healthy dose of “we aren’t like THOSE people” referring to Latin players, there are surely plenty of American born players with personality and passion, who would love to express it without the risk of retaliation. I mean, Jose Bautista celebrates a huge postseason homerun and the next season the Rangers were still out for revenge. For celebrating the biggest hit of his career.
Keith Law: I think there’s something to this; we should be encouraging players who have some flair or personality to show it. But even the local media ran Bryce Harper down for being an enthusiastic, emotional player, and he posted one of the best seasons in MLB history two years ago.

RobertM: I’m nor sure if Waldman fabricated it, but she took someone’s word on it, and never verified it, and then spread it on a radio show. That’s even worse.
Keith Law: Yes, I would put that in the same bucket, and there has to be a consequence for that.

Gerald: I read your brief update on Matt Manning…did your or your sources see anything wrong with his delivery? Is he working on stuff that may lead to a loss of command? Is he destined to be a reliever long term? As a Tiger fan who sees the need for new blood on the horizon, your report really made me worry.
Keith Law: You probably should worry a little bit – he took a step backwards.

JB: Any thoughts on Kyle Wright’s less than stellar season thus far? Could he be this year’s Alec Hansen?
Keith Law: Don’t think he falls anywhere near that far, but he’s definitely hurt himself with his lackluster showing. There are more guys in this draft going down than going up.

Rob: Does Franklin Perez have ace ceiling?
Keith Law: I don’t think so; I think more mid-rotation towards back-end.

David: What could the Yankees get for Betances in July? Robles from the Nats?
Keith Law: If you based it off the Miller and Chapman deals, yes, that’s a fair starting point, although the Nats may not see it that way.

Ted: Did you see the ESPN mag piece on Yoan Moncada? Seemed to imply there were maturity issues – does behind scenes chatter indicate something like this may impact his development? Or just typical young kid with money (i.e. no big deal)?
Keith Law: I didn’t read it, but there are maturity issues, for sure.

Andy: What do you think of Gorsuch as a Supreme Court candidate?
Keith Law: I think he’s an excessively strict constructionist, which foretells a rollback in civil rights.

Danny: Do you make anything of Chance Adams starting at AA instead of AAA? If he has to work on pitch sequencing or any individual pitch, wouldn’t he better served doing it in AAA after dominating AA?
Keith Law: Or the Yanks just don’t think he’s that great a prospect?

Bill: My real question – is there any way that the WBC could become worthy of your time? Is any World Cup style/Olympic system automatically less compelling because its an exhibition?
Keith Law: Doing it midseason with greater participation would help tremendously. I don’t find exhibitions automatically less compelling. I do think the US winning was a terrible outcome for MLB, though. The league gets much more value from another country winning, especially if it’s a team that hasn’t won before.

Jeff: Rosario is going to tear it up in Vegas, right
Keith Law: Yes, but it’s Vegas, so it shouldn’t make us overrate him.

Erich: Why do you think Stroman struggled so much at the beginning of last year? Bad luck? Overuse of sinker? Stuff translates to better results id think.
Keith Law: I thought bad luck. Will never forget seeing some jays blogger saying in June that the team should send Stroman to AAA. It was like message-board level overreaction.

Aaron: Over the last couple years, Anderson Espinoza’s star seems to have fallen slightly. Is there any concern from your end? Probability of reaching ace ceiling taken a modest or huge hit?
Keith Law: I don’t think it’s fallen at all, actually.

Brandon: I wish more athletes realized this is an entertainment sport. As Cam Newton says if you don’t like me celebrating, don’t let me score. It’s that simple. You can celebrate without being dick pretty easily but not faux outraged has entered into sports. More enthusiasm is good for the game.
Keith Law: In baseball, if you’re not actively trying to hurt someone, it’s probably OK. Just don’t throw at anyone’s head or slide in spikes-up.

John: What is different about the spiked curveball that a lot of pitchers (e.g. Kluber) are throwing these days? I think I get how the grip is different, but what about the action?
Keith Law: Harder break, sharper to the eye, but more difficult to command.

Erich: You dont seem like the kind of person who would work at a large corporation like espn (with them becoming more and more of a hot take machine.). Have you ever considered branching off and doing something on your own?
Keith Law: They have never asked me to do hot takes and when the new baseball editor took over last summer I told her specifically I didn’t want to do that. She agreed completely and it hasn’t changed one bit. As long as they treat me well, I don’t feel like I need to go out on my own.

Marshall MN: Do you have any plans to stop by the Twins Chattanooga AA team this year, because selfishly I would love to hear an updated scouting report on pitching staff? Both the rotation (Gonsalves, Stewart Romero, Jorge) and the bullpen (Burdi, Jay, others) are loaded with guys to watch.
Keith Law: No, I don’t fly to see minor league stuff, only draft guys. Minors I’ll do what I can around here (which is a lot), then Futures Game and AFL.

CKS: Heard a few reports that labelled Braves 3B Rio Ruiz as the ‘most improved player’ in spring training this year. Does he have the ability to be an everyday guy or is that wishful thinking?
Keith Law: ‘most improved player’ = (wanking motion)

Scherzer’s Blue Eye: Beyond Soto and Robles, who is the Nats prospect you’re most intrigued by?
Keith Law: Luzardo when he’s back. Also drawing a blank on their big Latin American signing.

EricVA: About to have my first kid and everybody tells me to freeze a bunch of food for after. However, I cook for us every night and find it therapeutic. I firmly believe I’ll still want to cook dinner every night while my wife watches our baby. Am I insane?
Keith Law: I kept cooking after my daughter was born. But I will suggest you keep it simple, because you’ll be too damn tired to do much cleanup.

Bob: Ok, his bat is overhyped but will Otani be a top 20 pitcher in MLB? Top X?
Keith Law: Top ten. Maybe top 5.

Alex: Top 10 for Kopech seems high considering (iirc) you saying he has a legitimate chance to be a reliever. Is the upside just so enormous that that outweighs the risk?
Keith Law: Correct. It’s potentially a top 5 starter in baseball.
Keith Law: He’s, not it’s.

Dan: Good luck with the release of your book! Can’t wait to read it. I enjoyed your write-up about the day you went to Cardinals camp to see the minor leaguers. Was your overall impression better or worse than you expected? As in, could that group in the lower minors lead the charge to a top five ranked system in a couple years? Thank you!
Keith Law: Hicks was the big surprise – I’d heard about the 101 mph, but 92-97 with plus sink is even better than a straight 101. And he’s got two other weapons, and the delivery works. The other guys I saw were all close to expectations; I might say Junior Fernandez looked more relieverish than I’d hoped.

Steve: Ryon Healy. Potential 30 Hr and 300 average guy?
Keith Law: No, I’d bet the under, a lot.

Kvothe: Thoughts on every pitcher’s velocity being higher because of Trackman tracking velocity right when the ball is released from pitcher’s hand?
Keith Law: Nothing to say. As long as we all know that, we’re good.

JJ: I think most Red Sox fans are down on the Kimbrel and Pomeranz trades and the resulting dings to our minor league system, but the Sale for Moncada/Kopech was probably a win-win for all Sox involved, right?
Keith Law: I thought so at the time. I thought they overpaid for Kimbrel but it was in line with what Miller and Chapman fetched.

Erich: Do you ever voice displeasure with other espn analysts for hot takes? Its very frusterating to see guts say things just for attention.
Keith Law: If it’s a baseball take, I will.

Virat: Do you think Conforto could handle CF on a daily basis? and is his bat worth playing him there?
Keith Law: I don’t think he’s a major league caliber CF.

Steve: Does Brendon Rodgers have the ability to stick at shortstop or is Trevor Story there for a bit
Keith Law: Definitely a shortstop, but not soon enough to worry about Story. That will work itself out somehow.

Tommy: It seems to me that both political parties look to appeal to the largest group they can get votes from, which usually means people who are less than educated, to put it mildly. How about setting up the voting machines to give a quick 3 question quiz to root out all of the people who haven’t the mental capacity to vote on important issues? Everyone can feel like they voted, but only those who can pass a simple quiz will have their votes count.
Keith Law: I assume your question is well-intentioned, but that’s basically a literacy test, which has been illegal in US elections since 1970.

JJG: Is Matt Chapman similar to Mike Olt in tools, or just statline?
Keith Law: Much better fielder. More similar to Matt Dominguez in that respect.

Craig: Bruce Rondon a future dominant closer or just another hard throwing middle reliever?
Keith Law: I’d bet on Joe Jimenez becoming a big league closer rather than Rondon.

Adam: It’s interesting, the game is the best it has ever been in its history. Saying that, who playing now would you consider to be Hall of Famers? I agree Molina is not yet close, but I am wondering who you would think we will be seeing in Cooperstown in twenty years?
Keith Law: Anyone at all? Pujols, Beltre, Kershaw, Trout, Beltran, Miggy, Cano, Ichiro. Among younger guys, Machado, Harper, Bryant, Lindor all are off to that kind of start. And while it’s early for a pitcher, Chris Sale is about 40% of the way there.

Steve: Does Jameson Tallion become a number two for Pittsburgh or does he have number one potential
Keith Law: Probably a good two when it’s all said and done. He’s another guy who got hurt and cleaned up his delivery while recovering.

Devon from DC: Any plans to come to DC for a book signing?
Keith Law: Not at the moment, but again, it has to come from the venue – Harper Collins is setting up a ton of media hits but not a book tour.

matt: Hey Keith, any idea why Buster Olney no longer does his daily links roundup? It was a valuable resource and (along with your work) the main reason I pay for Insider. I deeply miss it.
Keith Law: I don’t know, sorry.

JJG: Read many times when he was coming up that Olt was a future Gold Glover (fwiw). Was Olt overrated as a fielder or is Chapman just a special defender (or both)?
Keith Law: Yeah, he had that reputation, but I never saw it live – I’m sure he was good, but I couldn’t vouch for how good. He was an awful defensive SS as an amateur, though. Funny how a guy can be a 3 at short and become a 6 or better at third or second.
Keith Law: OK, I went long this week but I have to go to the bus stop to get my daughter. Thank you all as always for all of the questions. Nineteen days till Smart Baseball!

Comments

  1. Keith Law: ‘most improved player’ = (wanking motion)

    Just gonna let that sit.

  2. re Stark’s article: I’m sure there are many factors contributing to the lack of MLB player recognition. If asked to point to one, I might mention how emblematic it was that the first mention of baseball on Pardon The Interruption this past Tuesday (the day after Opening Day for most teams) came with two (2) seconds remaining on the show. My immediate reaction to the Stark article was to ask why a sports network that fails to adequately cover a sport would bother to wonder whatever happened to it….

    • Of the 50 athletes on the list, 30 are active (and two may or may not compete again in Phelps and Tiger). By far the most popular league, the NFL, had 15 active players. The league that does the best at marketing it’s players, the NBA, had 6. From there, two soccer players, two tennis players, one hockey player, one track and field runner, one NASCAR driver, and one MMA fighter. MLB needs to market it’s players better, simple as that. Unfortunately, the best player plays on the wrong coast, and, if we’re being honest, probably the wrong team in LA. Trout would certainly have more publicity from casual fans if he were a Dodger. Maybe Bryant and Rizzo become those recognizable stars MLB needs as they play for a champion, in a big city, and both have good, fan friendly personalities. With PTI on Tuesday, I bet there was a lot of talk about the UNC-Gonzaga game, some NBA playoff/MVP discussion, and maybe some Masters talk before they get to baseball.

    • Lead story was Tony Romo retirement, ahead of the NCAA championship game. A reasonably accomplished non-HOF football player retires, and it leads ahead of actual sporting events. Marketing players better sounds good, but if the broadcast platforms of the dominant sports media outlet routinely downplay the sport on one of its marquee days in favor of Tony freaking Romo in April, you’re playing against a stacked deck.

    • Chicken-or-egg question, though – Jeter, Manny, Bonds, etc. were on SportsCenter plenty. If MLB did a better job of marketing its young stars, ESPN would have the incentive to give MLB more segments. I consider myself a pretty well-informed baseball fan, but I don’t know that I’d be able to correctly identify more than 30 or so players by face (not including current or former Phillies). I’d imagine the average baseball fan is lower than that, and your standard ESPN viewer probably can’t recognize anyone beyond Trout, Harper, and Kershaw. Even if that’s not entirely MLB’s fault, it’s still something the league needs to consider.

    • If it was Palmer or Rivers retiring, I’d completely agree. But given the popularity, and hatred, of the team that Romo played for, and how most football fans have strong opinions on Romo with many hot takes on both sides of the debate, and you have a perfect storm debate topic. Add in that Romo is now going into sports media, and sports media types like to talk about sports media, and it was only natural. Romo may be the only player like this. Just look at the Molina debate. He’s only getting this at the end of his career. With Romo, it’s been this way for probably 10-12 years.

    • Well, I can’t make ESPN stand for “football fans with hot takes”, but that’s essentially what it is. They created the situation where we know more about 40 or so NFL quarterbacks than we know about any baseball player, so the Romo thing is self-fulfilling.

    • If you have 31 (MLB and each team’s) well-funded marketing laboratories, staffed with intelligent and motivated professionals, and nobody can break through, you have a gatekeeper problem. The Romo thing is just the most recent example. The writing on baseball at ESPN.com remains top-notch, but individual athlete Q-ratings are driven by the broadcast media.

    • Just because people are putting time, energy, and money into something doesn’t mean they’re doing a good or effective job of it. McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Jeter, A-Rod, Manny – when baseball has had superstars that are known national celebrities, ESPN has been more than happy to give them screen time. The steps that MLB is taking to make the game more viewer-friendly, combined with better marketing of individual players and their personalities, can get some guys to the level where they’re talked about on ESPN during the off-season.

  3. While the Archer Vice season was subpar, I think they did an excellent job rebounding from that season. Didn’t ruin it at all.

    • Increasingly I feel like I’m in a minority in that I loved Archer Vice. That said, as much as I love the original Archer-as-secret-agent seasons, the way the show has shaken things up from season to season has helped keep it fresh. At least to my mind. Already loving Archer Dreamland.

      (Full disclosure: I’m completely in the bag for the show, so I can’t claim to be objective.)

  4. Regarding Andruw Jones…I know WAR isn’t the end-all be-all, but why does his career being mostly done at 31 matter? He’s put up roughly the same value as Chase Utley who some “peak value” supporters seem anxious to put in the HOF, yet Jones doesn’t qualify because his peak came at an earlier age than Utley’s? Why does that matter? That smacks of Randy Moss Syndrome…guy was incredibly talented physically and WAS great, but still didn’t get enough out of his talent.

    • A Salty Scientist

      I agree about the “wasted talent” hot take. I also think the perception of being a “contract bust” hurts players that drop off dramatically in their early-to-mid 30’s. We are seeing this a bit with Albert Pujols, where I would guess that many people would argue that Miguel Cabrera will have had a better career when all is said and done. It is a reason why I think Joe Mauer will have a large uphill HOF battle, despite being far more worthy than Yadier Molina.

      Incidentally, I find Adrian Beltre’s career to be fascinating because of his strange career arc in the opposite direction. He was a solid player until a career year at the age of 25, which led to a huge contract with Seattle that was largely (and somewhat unfairly) labeled a bust. He could have easily receded into obscurity if he simply had a “normal” gradual decline into his 30’s after averaging 4.5 WAR during his prime Seattle years. Instead, he maintains great defense into his late 30’s, reverses a decade of negative park-effect karma, and averages 6.5 WAR/year from the ages of 31-37. He now has an outside shot at the 3B WAR leaderboard, which would have seemed absurd 5 years ago.

  5. Re: Dan regarding the face of baseball…one thing that really bothered me was how much people within baseball seemed bothered by Trout not wanting to accept the mantle of MLB’s Rock Star Frontman. They seemed to really shuffle aside the possibility that there’s a good chance he’s just not comfortable with that and JUST wants to play baseball and leave it at that. Why is he being seen as someone who is obligated to be some sort of point person when it seems very clear he doesn’t want to be? It’s incredibly stupid when people within the game act like stars are always obligated to give more than they do. They’re not slaves to your sport.
    The other problem with Stark’s article, is that…the actual game of baseball is not dependent on one player forcing the action constantly, like LeBron in basketball. If you add a guy like LeBron to a team that went 20-62, that team will probably win close to twice as many games with just adding LeBron. One player has that much difference. If you add Trout to the Reds, they’ll win 72 games instead of 62. The impact, though it’s HUGE in relation to other players within the game, will be lost to the casual observer.

  6. Keith–I recommended Delusions of Gender in a previous comment on a links post. I know you regularly take suggestions from readers, but the subject matter in this case was more sensitive and complex, and the book was drier (at least, for those who aren’t gender studies nerds like me), so I’m grateful and impressed that you took the time to seek it out, give it your time, and influence your thinking. Thank you so much! I’m still looking for a good book that marries Cordelia Fine’s scientific skepticism about innate sex differences with more engaging stories and writing.

  7. Keith, a nitpicky point, but it’s probably more accurate to call Gorsuch a textualist rather than a strict constructionist. A strict constructionist reads the text of a statute literally. A textualist gives a reasonable meaning to the plain text of a statute. I doubt, for example, that Gorsuch believes that Congress cannot pass any law restricting freedom of speech.

  8. Fathers and sons play catch on the order of — let’s say — 100x more than fathers and daughters. Generally, sons are more likely than daughters (including, sadly, my own) to want to go to a ballgame. And, need it be said, baseball a sport played only by men. So it is OK, people, to notice differences between genders. It is OK, Robert’s wife, that Dan Gladden makes a throwaway comment about Opening Day being a great day for fathers and sons. It doesn’t insult you or your daughter. It means nothing and affects no one. The problem isn’t some latent sexism but such absurd oversensitivity. Robert, your wife needs to chill out; Keith, you need to stop making this a thing. You’re the boy who cried wolf when it comes to finding offense. And the irony is rich — my right to say anything ends where someone else’s FEELINGS begin. I suggest you keep your powder dry for stuff that actually matters.

  9. I had to miss the chat for work (boo), but isn’t the spike curve what used to be called a knuckle-curve?

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