Klawchat, 5/4/17.

Keith Law: Am I coming out of left field? Klawchat.

Jake: Is the Mets season over?
Keith Law: That seems a little dramatic, but I don’t like their situation at all. They came into the year with no pitching depth, and now they’re in a situation where they need pitching depth to stay afloat.

Mike: Could the Mets have not meted out some sort of discipline for Thor after refusing an MRI?
Keith Law: Absolutely not.

Clowning Not Waving: Bellinger gonna stay up?
Keith Law: He should stay up, whether at 1b or in LF. Whether he will or not, I don’t know. They’re a better team with him in the lineup every day. You’d like to think that would win the day.

Mike: 0% chance Adam Jones is telling the truth, correct?
Keith Law: I think your question was truncated by the software. I’m sure you meant 100% chance he’s telling the truth. Unless you’re some sort of white power nut.

Anthony: Not to offend the #StickToSports crowd, but this latest attempt to repeal the ACA appears to be especially monstrous even for the GOP.
Keith Law: A bill many reps haven’t even read! But hey, it gives the top 2% billions in tax cuts. We tried that around 15 years ago, and it didn’t stimulate the economy the way supply-side economists predicted. Maybe let’s not try that again.

John: Can’t thank you enough for your book. Loving every page of it.
Keith Law: Glad you’re enjoying it. My thanks to all of you who’ve purchased it already.

Bret: Barring some miraculous season turn around, how should the Jays handle Josh Donaldson? Look to trade him at the deadline? The offseason? Try to extend him? Give it a go next year and risk losing him in free agency?
Keith Law: I think he’s their best trade piece, and they should be ready and willing to do that this summer. Their hole is bigger than the Mets’, given the division in which they play and their rotation woes.

tim: any buzz on what the Dodgers might do? Prep bat?
Keith Law: I’ve heard they like Bubba Thompson a lot, but I don’t think they are focusing on prep bats as a class – it’ll be BPA.

Slint: Your thoughts on Giolito’s continued struggles? I know you were (are) a big fan of him
Keith Law: Still am. White Sox continue to try to unravel the delivery changes the Nats made. I don’t know about yesterday but I know two starts ago his velo was mid-90s again. Just be patient.

Jonah: Thoughts on Kevin Kramer? Future starter?
Keith Law: Future utility guy.

Bosa: What kind of ceiling do you see with Jordan Hicks?
Keith Law: Potential #1-#2 starter.

RSO: How many homers does Aaron Judge end up with by season’s end?
Keith Law: I’ll say 41.

Chris: Are you a buyer that future WAR for the Cubs has Bryant and Russell as 1-2?
Keith Law: You’ve asked this twice but I don’t understand the question.

Bob: If for some reason Greene and McKay are gone – would you go with Beck at 3, what I have read, high upside – and use the savings to get a guy at top of second
Keith Law: Nope. Would take Wright there. Not sold that there will be enough quality prep prospects at the top of the second to justify taking a lesser player at pick 3 (or 4 or 5).

Ron: Hi Keith-Maybe Buxton is starting to find it a little more at the plate? Walking more and not hacking so much at stuff off of the plate. Man, is he fun to watch in the field and running the bases. The power is legit, if he gets it together, watch out.
Keith Law: As with Giolito … patience.

Greg: If you were GM of the Jays, do you wait another month (SMS) or do you start to make some changes (and which ones)?
Keith Law: Nothing you can do now. It’s not like we see an active trade market in May every year. You get ready, make sure you’re scouting the right orgs, and signal to other teams that you’re willing to deal when the time is right.

Dan: Can plate discipline be taught?
Keith Law: Not really. It can be improved, but whether that’s by teaching or by player initiative, no one really knows. We’ve seen lots of players supposedly “taught” plate discipline who couldn’t learn or hold on to the gains.

Joe: Can the Royals get a top prospect for Hosmer?
Keith Law: I don’t see it.

Taylor: What are the chances of Taylor Hearn remaining a starter?
Keith Law: Close to zero.

Concerned Friend: Keith, my buddy is a huge Red Sox fan & even bigger Keith Law fan. He’s been telling me that David Price’s injury would be worth 10 wins (!) to the Red Sox. Please help me talk some sense into him.
Keith Law: Maybe he’s arguing that Price will be replaced by a pitcher who’s three wins below replacement level.

The Sequel: Smart Cooking possible sequel to Smart Baseball?
Keith Law: I think that’s basically The Food Lab.

Mike: Going back to last season, Austin Meadows is hitting about .200 in 60 or so games at AAA. Any concern?
Keith Law: Zero concern. He’s really young for the level and didn’t have a ton of experience before reaching AAA. Also, 60 games isn’t much of a sample anyway.

Samuel: Which braves pitching prospect has the best chance to be a true number one?
Keith Law: Probably getting ahead of myself but I wonder if Ian Anderson will be that guy.

Tomas: Loved The Fifth Season – thanks for the recommendation. Just bought the sequel – have you read it?
Keith Law: Not yet. Will probably pick it up this summer.

Bob: Did you by chance, read the latest SI cover story on Hunter Greene by Lee Jenkins? Nice young man – good for him. Doing more OFF the field than on it.
Keith Law: I thought the piece was … um … excessively favorable to its subject.

Tom: I know I can’t trust the Vegas numbers, but are Rosario and Smith ready? Mets need an infusion of offensive talent immediately.
Keith Law: Your instincts on the numbers are right, but I think there’s a good case to be made that even a not-ready Rosario is better than the Mets’ current 3b or SS options.

Wave Riders: Kyle Freeland’s command is an obvious issue, but do you feel he has the stuff to stay up? Is he even ready to stay up for the whole season?
Keith Law: Stuff yes, but hasn’t really had any durability – he had medical questions in the draft, keeps getting hurt in pro ball.

John: Tyler Mahle has some pretty impressive numbers in AA this year and some reports have had him touching 99. What kind of upside is there?
Keith Law: I don’t buy him touching 99 but he just missed my top 100 and I think he’s a definite starter, maybe a solid 3. When I asked around about him last winter I got a lot of teams saying he was a reliever, but I disagree with that.

Jimmy: Without specific numbers is the book selling better or worse then you thought it would. Great read by the way!
Keith Law: HarperCollins says better. I have no real means for comparison – I didn’t have any idea how many copies it would sell.

Josh Nelson: I noticed you don’t have Jordon Adell in your Top 50 Draft prospects. Any reason why?
Keith Law: Because he was struggling horribly to make any contact earlier in the season, and was throwing like he was hurt – one scout said “he has a 30 arm right now.” I did hear just yesterday that he’s been hitting better, and teams are rushing back in to get new looks, but there were always hit tool questions with him and I don’t think a couple of good weeks would erase that.

Rob from Beloit: Are we impressed with Jake Gatewood yet? When can I be impressed?
Keith Law: You can be impressed.

RSO: Why did most scouts not have an 80 grade on Aaron Judge’s power tool when he was a prospect?
Keith Law: You’ve talked to all scouts so you can say most didn’t have that? Wow. Even I haven’t talked to that many.

Trav: Quick appeal to your readers for last second calls to reps offices. Even if this comically villainous bill passes, they need to hear it from their constituents.
Keith Law: Agreed. Also, bear in mind the GOP wanted the vote today before any Reps go home tomorrow and face the angry public.

Joe: Keith, do you see Kevin Smith and Marty Costes of Maryland being drafted somewhere in the first few rounds this year?
Keith Law: Neither will be on my top 100. They could be drafted there, but I would bet against it.

Oilver: What do yo make of Jordan Montgomery? Seems like you have been down on him in the past .
Keith Law: Down compared to what you wanted me to say? I never really understand that sort of comment. He’s working with pretty ordinary stuff and his fastball gets hit. I don’t think he’s going to be a long-term starter.

Brett: Can Brandon Woodruff becoming a legit MLB starter?
Keith Law: Yes, I think this year.

Tracy: Keith, I enjoyed your book and it certainly enlightened me on the way to look at the game beyond simple (and outdated) metrics. It also opened my eyes to the sweeping mobilization organizations took to grasp and parse this advanced data while the social arena has been very slow to adapt and, in many corners, stubbornly cling to such outlandish horse-and-buggy rhetoric (The Will to Win!). Unfortunately, I think the only way we ever get up to speed is to let the old guard fade away. It reminds me of Max Planck’s claim that might be fitting here: “Science advances one funeral at a time.”
Keith Law: Planck’s quote is particularly apposite to Hall of Fame voting.

Henry: Devers is tearing it up. What kind of numbers do you expect from him in the majors?
Keith Law: Across the board production – high average, OBP, slugging, 25-30 homer type with everything else. I’ve had him top 10 in baseball two winters running.

Charles: Rhys Hoskins keeps hitting after Reading….is it real?
Keith Law: Yeah. I’m buying it. I wrote about him when he was in low-A that he reminded me of Goldschmidt (I think I said he might be “Goldschmidt Lite”) and I’d probably stick to that now. Nothing super flashy, but quiet approach, good eye, more power than you’d think because the swing works really well. But to be completely candid I was concerned the Reading line was a little inflated too. (At least he hit on the road last year, unlike Cozens.)

Chandler: How much longer until Luis Urias gets on a top 100 list? The youngest player in the Texas League and a .347/439/.551 slash line isn’t enough?
Keith Law: Have you ever seen him play? Or even seen him walk around?

Samuel: I remember in a previous Klawchat you discussed Alex Jackson and how he looked awful at the plate. Any news on that?
Keith Law: Tommy Rancel, who does some fantasy writing for us, just saw him the other day and sent me a little video – it looked like Jackson’s getting that lead elbow down so he’s not pulling off everything. That’s good. Three walks in 100+ PA … that’s bad.

Tyler: Do you do any player rankings? You talk a lot how to accurately value players but it seems most of your work is with prospects. I think giving a top 5/10 at each position with a brief explanation would be very interesting.
Keith Law: I will do a top 25 MLB players under 25 in a few weeks. I don’t rank MLB players overall and frankly don’t find that interesting enough to write.

Patty O’Furniture: Should the Braves go after Mackenzie Gore if he’s still there at 5?
Keith Law: That’s about right.

Brett: Noticed you have Calvin Mitchell as a 1B. Why can’t he handle a corner OF spot?
Keith Law: I have yet to find a single scout who thinks he’s anything but a 1b in pro ball.

Johnny O: Is the ability to make adjustments a skill? You never got off the bandwagon because he has that ability, but what exactly is it? Something mental? Do you need elite athleticism to have 80 Adjustment Tool (ok i made that up).
Keith Law: I think the ability to make adjustments is a combination of mental acumen, athleticism and/or flexibility, and confidence. It’s hard to spot unless you either 1) see a player a lot or 2) get some very fortunate looks.

Johnny : When will your first mock go up?
Keith Law: I think two weeks.

Chris: How do you see the Diamondbacks closer situation playing out? Could Archie Bradley work there?
Keith Law: I’m hoping they leave Archie in relief all year and let him have more success rather than running him into the rotation to replace Miller.

Ron: When Sano connects, things go boom. Will have to live with the strikeouts, but it isn’t that he doesn’t have a good eye, just seems to swing through some good pitches. 35-40 HRS, 260/375/550 seem out of line for the next few years? Thanks
Keith Law: That’s probably a little high on the AVG component but the rest seems reasonable. Dude’s a star.

Chris: I know it’s a sss for this year, but perhaps not over the last 12 months or so. And Jake Arrieta demanding so many years on a new deal last year at this time and the Cubs opting to forgo talks should be a cautionary tale against such long-term deals for 30yo+ power-armed pitchers, no? Yet presumably some team will still venture down the rabbit hole.
Keith Law: I think we’re past SSS for Arrieta not looking like the Cy version. He’s lost something. Maybe 2015 was just the outlier.

Jeremy: Yanks off to a hot start and assuming they maintain this level of play, I’d rather them stay put and keep their prospects, rather than go out and trade for a “proven” starter, like Quintana. Obviously it depends on what’d it’d cost to give up, but what would be your philosophy if you were running the team?
Keith Law: If I could get a single high-impact, multi-year guy like Quintana, I would be willing to part with prospects. I wouldn’t even entertain any rentals if I had to trade even a top 20 prospect from my own system.

Andrew: Hey Keith, I love these chats as I have them marked in my phone for every Thursday. I have a question about public speaking. As a guy that has battled anxiety, how do you public speak and is it something you were always able to do? If not, what did you do to combat the fear/anxiety?
Keith Law: I’m much better speaking to a crowd than walking into a party of strangers. Go figure.

Jett: Thoughts on Eduardo Rodriguez’s start? Is he a #2 this year in that division?
Keith Law: Could be. Is not a #2 right now. Gotta stop walking guys, and there are still outings where the SL is just a fringe offering.

Danny: Keith, I know its only been 3 weeks in the minor league season but Jorge Mateo, statistically, has been awful for about a year now- has the quality of his contact changed from last year?
Keith Law: He’s never made quality contact. That was always an issue.

Chris: Are you happier if 1M people buy the Kindle version or the hardcover – environment aside?
Keith Law: One million people? I’d be too happy to worry about how you bought it.

Clement Davies: Is there anything in the collective bargaining agreement to prohibit a team such as the Phillies from frontloading a contract to a Harper or Machado in the first few seasons of a deal when they will likely have relatively low payroll otherwise? Thank You.
Keith Law: Nothing in CBA but agents tend to dislike such deals. Historically, they would screw with post-contract arb offers, which would be based on the final year’s salary rather than the AAV.

Oren: It’s obviously early, but are there any particularly strong draft team/player connections you’re hearing?
Keith Law: If I had to do a mock today, I’d go McKay, Greene, Lewis, Wright, Gore 1-5. Have heard Baz a lot to Phils at 8. I think the Padres would try almost anything to get Greene to them, but right now i don’t think he gets by two teams.

Tristan Beck: Do I have a deal with a team or am I coming back to school as an old junior?
Keith Law: Heard the former rumor too, but I don’t really know either way. Sometimes that’s true but we don’t know until after the draft.

Larry: I’ve read that Royce Lewis is having a down spring. Any truth to it and where could he fall to?
Keith Law: He hasn’t performed that well, but he’s probably still going top 10, likely top 5. I saw him Tuesday night – smoked the first pitch he saw, ran well, body is good, bat speed is real. It’s a little weird to say but his body language wasn’t very good – I should have liked what I was seeing more than I did, and I think the body language is the reason I didn’t.

Tom: Not a question, just a comment. I finished Smart Baseball and gave it to a co-worker who still thinks batting average and RBI matter. He’s just started reading but so far he’s enjoying it. I’d say that’s mission accomplished, Keith.
Keith Law: Excellent! Thanks for spreading the gospel.

Chris: Is B. Rooker a real prospect or just a corner guy with some power? He seems like someone who could make his way to the sandwich round maybe even higher if he keep this up. What do you think about him?
Keith Law: I’m told he’s a DH with power, and while he might go that high the vast majority of people I’ve asked have him nowhere near there – nobody told me he belonged on my top 50, for example. He’s 22.5 and most of the pitchers he’s facing are younger than he is, some as much as 3+ years younger.

Drew: Bought the book for my dad who loves baseball and can’t wait to talk about it with him.
Keith Law: Thanks!

Chris: Have you heard the new(er) War on Drugs single they just released for Record Store Day and, if so, are you encouraged for their follow-up to Lost in a Dream?
Keith Law: It came on the radio the other day when I was in the car. I went inside, had a four-course meal, and when I came out it was just finishing.

Johnny : thoughts on Buehler’s start to the year? Stuff sounds ridiculous
Keith Law: I saw him in March and wrote about the ridiculous stuff.

Michael Conforto: Man, if only the Mets could find a spot for me huh 😉
Keith Law: The excuses they made last year (and some Met fans still make for the team) are so much more embarrassing now. They wasted a year of his career dicking around with inferior options.

RSO: Would you prefer a prospect who is guaranteed to be a league average regular but nothing more, or one who has the potential to be a superstar but a high chance of being a bust?
Keith Law: Depends on what I’m giving up to get such a player. For example, if I’m drafting in the top 5, I want to roll the dice on the superstar prospect.

Chris Williams: Ever think of putting together a list for future scouting directors? Who are some of the top national scouts in the industry?
Keith Law: No. That’s not something that would attract much of an audience and it’s a good way to burn some of my relationships.

Taylor C: Do you still see Severino as a future reliever?
Keith Law: Yes.

Chris J: Keith, you can’t tell me that the Red Sox ownership or at least front office wasn’t already aware that fans in Fenway had a propensity for this kind of racist behavior. They obviously just didn’t care enough until it became a big PR issue.
Keith Law: You can’t exactly stop it before it happens. If a fan screams something racist at a game, you throw him out. I don’t know what more they could do.

Drew: Ryan Zimmerman. Obviously his current pace isn’t sustainable, but given how hard he has hit the ball the last year and change, do you see him having a good year simply by working to change his launch angle? He seems like a very interesting case study for exit velocity and launch angle given how terrible he was last year. Thanks Keith!
Keith Law: Also health. He might be fully healthy for the first time in several years. And maybe being healthy means better exit velocity (he can swing hard again) and a more consistent launch angle (his swing isn’t restricted by shoulder pain)?

Johnny O: Klaw thanks for the chats as always.
You are pretty active on Twitter but also seem to get a lot done in all aspects of life. Do you just glance at Twitter throughout the day or allot specific time to it and ignore most of the day?
Keith Law: I just glance here and there. It’s always open in a tab on my desktop, and I’ll scan it a bunch every day to stay up to speed on news.

Ron k: Favorite baseball movie?
Keith Law: If you consider it a baseball movie, Everybody Wants Some!! If not, Sugar might do the best job of getting the baseball right and telling a good story.

Sean: As I notice that Werth is hitting second today and Murphy fifth, I have to wonder how many wins can a team expect to gain from perfect lineup construction?
Keith Law: All the research I’ve seen says maybe one win as measured by RAR/WAR (Tom Tango did a lot on this in the public space). But I have a feeling that you could get more as measured via WPA if you’re getting the right guys up in the 9th inning more often – which is only partly in your control.

Mose Allison Brie Larson: Just wanted to say a sincere thanks to you for speaking about your issues with anxiety. As a father of two daughters (13 and 10) this Obamacare repeal has me terrified that the psych care they’ve needed will no longer be covered because of their “pre-existing condition”.
Keith Law: You’re welcome, and yes, I worry about that too, just in general. We are terrible at treating mental illness, and there’s a massive cost to society as a result.

Danny: Your Hicks breakout pick turned out true a year late- assuming the Yankees can’t trade Ellsbury, who do you like more for LF/CF by the end of this year- Hicks or Frazier?
Keith Law: I have a habit of being a year early on some of those picks. I’d play Hicks every day and give Frazier the year in AAA. Clint’s plenty young for that and I think facing some ex-MLB pitchers will help him work on cutting down on the swing and miss.

J.O.: In watching my son’s little league team – and maybe I’m overthinking this – but the umpires are instructed to call pitches two balls outside and one ball inside a strike (or else it would just be a walk fest). I understand for the LL game, but (a) are we teaching bad plate discipline and (b) why not just NOT have the kids pitch until like 12 or 13 since they probably can screw up their arms anyway?
Keith Law: I think if umps didn’t call those pitches strikes you’d have pitchers hitting their pitch limits in the second inning. It’s a problem without an easy solution.

Brett: Michael Mercado from San Diego has had a strong season. Have you heard anything on him?
Keith Law: Yes, heard maybe second round but also maybe not signable there.

Phil: Shipley is coming up to start for the Dbacks…is he effectively a non-prospect at this point, or is there still some potential he could develop into a mid-rotation guy?
Keith Law: Depends on his velocity. Somehow he lost a few mph off his fastball, as did several other AZ prospects the last two years. Bradley got his back in the bullpen. Let’s see where Shipley is now.

Robert: I saw someone recently say they thought there was a good chance Dane Dunning might be the jewel of the Adam Eaton trade, rather than Lucas Giolito. Is this opinion putting too much emphasis on early season results, while ignoring age for level?
Keith Law: That’s not crazy – Dunning was a legit first round talent last spring.

Chris Williams: Thoughts?
Keith Law: Sorry, I don’t have those. They’re going to be illegal under this fall’s 2017 Alien & Sedition Acts.

Matt: Do you see Carl Edwards Jr as future starter?
Keith Law: No, too small, doesn’t have the third pitch.

Mike: Your thoughts on the Nats sending Joe Ross down (apparently to work on change-up) and using Jacob Turner in the rotation?
Keith Law: I’m OK with that. Surprised Ross’ changeup has been a problem; it was his best offspeed pitch in HS.

AJ: I’m excited about Christian Arroyo. Seems like he’s holding his own in the big leagues. Would you say the lack of walks is a concern? What are realistic expectations for him? What’s his ceiling?
Keith Law: Doesn’t walk, has no power (or projection for it), can’t play SS. Think he needed more time in AAA.

Steve: keep hearing Arkansas Soph P Blaine Knight’s name as an early round guy. Familiar with him, Keith?
Keith Law: He was on my top 50 last week.

Dave: What’s your read on JP Crawford? Rough month but up in August?
Keith Law: Worse than a rough month. He’s too talented to perform this badly.
Keith Law: OK, I have to run to a radio hit in studio out here in LA, and then do a few things this afternoon before seeing Griffin Canning this evening at USC. Thank you all for all of your questions and for all the kind words about Smart Baseball!

Comments

  1. Hey Keith,
    I got to the chat late and hoping you might see this here. I asked my local Chicago bookstore to try to bring you out and gave them Danielle Bartlett’s name. Wondering if there is anything else I can do to get this to happen.
    Thanks!

    • Anthony – you’ve done it. If they reach out to Danielle, she should be able to help set it up. I’m supposed to be in Chicago for the Under Armour game in July so perhaps we could do it then. Thanks!

  2. Hi Keith–Just bought the book, halfway thru…really great. Mucho thanx! Do I pass it on to my traditional BB friends or tell them to buy it? Will go with your suggestion.

    • Of course it helps me more if they buy it, but I have no problem whatsoever with you lending it out.

  3. Re: your answer “Depends on what I’m giving up to get such a player.”

    Why does it depend on that?

    I can see why it might depend on how good the rest of the team is, or maybe the market, but if you think that Possible Superstar is generally worth more to you than Guaranteed Regular, I don’t understand why the asset you’re using/trading to acquire the player would impact that.

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