Klawchat, 7/27/17.

I’ll be in Chicago this weekend, speaking over lunch at the Standard Club (a ticketed event) and then signing books that evening at Volumes Book Cafe.

Keith Law: I’m on track, like a Long Island train. Klawchat.

Sean: With the Sonny Gray situation do you think the A’s should take the best offer now or wait until the offseason hoping a better market develops?
Keith Law: I don’t think they HAVE to take the best offer now; if they feel like they’re not getting sufficient return, they can and should wait. But I think they will get an offer they like.

Dodgers catchers: Do you like Keibert Ruiz or Will Smith more? Do you think both make it as catchers?
Keith Law: Ruiz has a lot more offensive upside than Smith, but lower probability. Smith is more advanced on defense right now; I think Ruiz is more bat-first.

Jack: JP Crawford has gotta be a september callup this year right?
Keith Law: Depends. A month ago, he hadn’t done anything to justify a callup. If he keeps hitting AND playing hard AND shows better defense, then yes.

Noah: Is Turang your early favorite to go 1-1 next year?
Keith Law: He’s a possible candidate for 1-1, not an early favorite. Don’t think there is a favorite in this class.

International: One thing that’s always intrigued be is that despite the fact that the Dominican Republic and Haiti are the same island we see so few players come from Haiti, do you have any insight into why that is? Are they truly that different from a socioeconomic standpoint?
Keith Law: Same island, different countries, cultures, and languages. They play baseball as kids in the DR everywhere on the island, but don’t in Haiti. Players with Haitian ancestry have all grown up in the DR (I think).

brian snitker: is Dansby’s demotion too early or too late?
Keith Law: It is short-sighted and unnecessary. When you’re building, you don’t demote your long-term shortstop in favor of short-term assets (Phillips, Adams) or flashes in the pan (Camargo). It’s really out of character for Atlanta, who’ve done almost everything for the long term.

Nick: What’re your thoughts on the Neshek trade?
Keith Law: Phillies got three useful pieces, none elite prospects, nobody in the Rockies’ top 15 or so. Requena is the most intriguing because it sounds like he can stay a starter and he’s pitched well in a horrible home environment (Asheville). Hammer is a one-pitch reliever with a high spin rate on the FB. Gomez is probably a good utility infielder; if he got on base more, I’d like him as a potential regular at 2b.

Nick: As a Phillies fan, I’m really frustrated by managements commitment to Tommy Joseph. Why won’t they just bench him and play Hoskins???
Keith Law: I think they were hoping they’d get something for Joseph in trade. That seems unlikely now.

Ed: What do you do to keep your knives sharp? Steel, steel + something else, send them out every once in a while.
Keith Law: I have a small knife sharpener recommended by Michael Ruhlman (et al) that I use maybe twice a year.

Johnny Lee: In your opinion, what Blue jays should do before this 7/31?
Keith Law: Sell anyone unlikely to be part of the 2019 Jays. Wouldn’t sell Stroman, which I’ve seen suggested on the interwebs, in what appears to be a buyer’s market.

Jon: Giolito with another strong outing, of course on the heels of a few lesser ones. How much longer until we see him in the CHW rotation in a lost year?
Keith Law: I expect he’ll be up in September. Reports I’ve gotten have generally been positive on the stuff but varied start to start on his delivery. I would love to see him in the majors working with Don Cooper regularly, once they feel like they can trust his delivery enough that he’ll come up and be around the zone.

Sour beer: Yadier Alvarez or Mitch White?
Keith Law: Alvarez by a small and decreasing margin.

David: Duane Underwood Jr has the lively arm and athleticism, but has never put it together. Do you try him as a reliever or let him continue to eat up a 40 man spot and try and make it happen as a starter?
Keith Law: I’d try him as a reliever, with the possibility of returning him to the rotation one day if he ever fulfills his physical projection. But you’re right – it’s not happening yet.

Justen: Pirates had a triple SS promotion last week with Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker and Stephen Alemais all moving up a level. Know you’ve been bullish on Newman and he seems to be hitting better of late. Do they have anything with the other two guys?
Keith Law: I like Tucker – missed a year with shoulder surgery, bit slow coming back, great kid, very good athlete, still young for AA and probably spends most of 2018 there.

Terrence (Atlanta): KLaw, what’s the report on this kid Flexen starting for the Mets tonight?
Keith Law: I had a note on him here: http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0681316008736069655-4

Toby: Josh Naylor seems to be acclimateing well to AA, has he put his maturity issues behind him?
Keith Law: I haven’t heard anything about that, but his body is getting somewhat worse. I think he’s going to have to work to avoid becoming a DH.

Bob: How excited should we be in Padre-land about Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon? Which are you higher on?
Keith Law: Morejon is a 3-pitch guy right now, and LH, but Baez has size and hasn’t had Morejon’s injury scare this year. I prefer Morejon.

James : In April you wrote that Amed Rosario has “so much bat speed and strength … that he should eventually hit 15-20 homers.” Assuming he ever gets called up, is that still your expectation for him? Which young SS is he most comparable to (Lindor, Correa, Bogaerts, Seager)?
Keith Law: Yes, I think he’ll peak in that power range. I don’t like player comps; he’s his own guy.

Kyle KS: Is Bader a CF long term or destined for a corner? I thought it was odd that he was starting there over Pham who has performed well in CF in a small sample.
Keith Law: Bader looks much better than expected in CF, but I think the standard for CF defense is so high right now that he’ll eventually end up bumped by someone better (like Sierra).

Greg: Hey Keith, I was wondering what your general outlook was on the Pirates’ current state. On one hand, they have a good, young, controllable core in place (Polanco, Marte, Bell, Taillon, Rivero, etc). On the other hand, they still seem to be a few pieces away from being legitimate contenders. If you were Neal Huntington, would you aggressively pursue trades for Cole/McCutchen/Harrison now or in the winter, or would you stay the course, hope for better luck and try to win within next 2 years? Thanks!
Keith Law: I would aggressively pursue trades for those guys, targeting players in or near to the majors rather than more total talent that’s further away. I don’t think they need to consider a total rebuild.

Jesse: Who is the greatest prospect you have ever seen in person that did not make it in the majors?
Keith Law: I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone like a Brien Taylor, who is pretty clearly the biggest prospect ‘bust’ of all time – he was as good a pitching prospect as scouts of that generation had seen, and of course was derailed by an injury suffered in a bar fight (and I think is now in jail?). I saw Wade Townsend once as an amateur and his shit was ridiculous, but we know what happened there. Delmon Young was a pretty big disappointment too, but, in hindsight, I think his advantage was that he was so physically mature at 18.
Keith Law: Sorry, that answer required a little research.

addoeh: Baseball seems to be slowly turning into a situation where most at bats end with either a HR, K, or BB. It was frustrating trying to watch Tuesday’s Cubs-White Sox game because of it (even with Hawk Harrelson getting angry). Is there a solution?
Keith Law: I think it’s a problem, and I would say raise the bottom of the strike zone.

Randy: Walker Buehler rebounded nicely last night, first game just a fluke? Should the Dodgers bring him up for help out of the pen in the playoffs?
Keith Law: I believe that is their plan. I wasn’t at either game; I assume the first outing (where he couldn’t retire a batter) was a fluke.

Twflan: To what do you attribute to Kris Bryant’s relative inability to hit well with RISP this year? I know RBI’s are a silly stat these days and very situational based on your teammates getting on base, but KB has not done as well as expected in those situations…
Keith Law: Typical random fluctuation. Player performance is not uniform.

Collin Jones: The returns for the early trades have been quite underwhelming? Is that a sense of what the market is this year, or am I undervaluing the prospects involved?
Keith Law: Multiple execs have told me it’s a buyer’s market, so the returns are all coming back light.

Rachel Failla: Do you think, in our lifetimes, we’ll see a trans professional baseball player? It seems we’ve just started making progress into openly gay athletes in pro. sports, but Trump’s comments yesterday frighten me into believing trans tolerance/understanding isn’t being improved, rather taking a step backwards.
Keith Law: I think we’ll see an openly gay player in the next five years. I don’t know about a trans player, primarily because I think societal acceptance of transgender rights (or transgenderism as an inborn condition, rather than a mental illness) is so far behind acceptance even of gay & lesbian rights.

Adam: Kumar Rocker or Ethan Hankins?
Keith Law: No idea. It’s way too early for that.

Adam: I’m not sure if I missed it, but did you do a writeup on the Royals, Padres trade? Or were there not enough prospects involved for your coverage?
Keith Law: Not significant enough of a trade. Couple of spare parts for the Royals, future starter for the Padres (Strahm) and a nice lottery-ticket bat with a good swing (Ruiz).

Nate: Keith, is there a non-zero chance Casey Gillaspie turns into an average major leaguer?
Keith Law: Non-zero, but low, under 20%. I thought he was a 2nd/3rd round talent in the draft – below average athlete, first base only, strong kid but didn’t use his legs at all in his swing, making the power suspect.

Jay: Over the past few weeks Cornelius Randolph has brought his line up to .255/.350, with a little more power. (10 HR Now) I know he’s stuck in a corner OF spot, do you believe he might be throwing off the title of “failed prospect”?
Keith Law: I dislike using the past tense on a player who hasn’t clearly ‘failed,’ either through release or many years of non-performance. You could call Randolph a failing prospect, or a disappointing prospect. I don’t think anything he’s done the last few weeks changes the outlook for him; the last two scouts I asked about him came back with similarly negative views, a position-less guy without the elite hit and/or power tools he’d need. (I do or at least did like his swing last year. Really surprised he hasn’t at least hit for some average.)

@RationalMLBfan: Just read Smart Baseball very thoroughly–good book! Questions about Stolen Bases chapter. (1) Is there a database that separates out normal caught stealing with hit-and-run? (2) From a sabermetrics perspective, is the hit-and-run play a good play or does it put artificial pressure on the hitter to make contact (and possibly reduce the quality of batted ball contact), which negates any benefit of distorting the defense moving to cover the SB attempt?
Keith Law: I don’t think so on 1, because someone would have to identify those manually (subjectively) and code them as such. That means any answer to 2 won’t be derived from data, but I know Earl Weaver, among others, disdained the hit-and-run for the reason you cited – you’re forcing a swing on the hitter rather than leaving swing/no-swing decision to him to make based on the pitch.

ECinDC: Erick Fedde is getting called up to start for an injured Stras. What can we expect?
Keith Law: I think he’s more likely a reliever in the long run. Everything he throws is hard, so there’s a fringy changeup and he’s had trouble separating the breaking balls. It’s reliever feel.

Lee D, LA: Keith, two weeks ago you answered my question about “upgrading Chris Taylor” by suggesting they replace him with Verdugo. Taylor is now at .320/.388/.541 in almost 300 ABs, and only 26 years old. Still think this is a SSS phenomenon?
Keith Law: Yes, I do. His BABIP is .427. That would be the third-best BABIP for a hitter who qualified for the batting title in MLB history, behind Ty Cobb in 1911 and Joe Jackson in … oh, 1911, there you go. (In fact, no one has topped .410 since 1924, but Taylor and Ben Gamel are both over that mark right now.

Brian: What is Ronald Guzman’s ceiling in your opinion? Everyday regular?
Keith Law: Ceiling is above-average regular. Feel pretty good about him being an everyday guy.

Mac: Hi Keith. How do you justify eating meat to aggressive vegans? I never feel like my responses counter their concerns about animals. I’m not changing, but I’d just love to have a good argument. Thanks!
Keith Law: I don’t. I don’t think I need to justify my food choices to anyone but myself – and arguing meat-eating with “aggressive vegans” would be like talking religion to an atheist or atheism to a devout person. It’s just not worth the time.

Frankur: When you went to the SFG game with google, were the google employees fighting each other to see who would get to sit next to you?
Keith Law: They rotated seats. It was all quite civil. Now, if they’d been Bing people, that might have been a different story.

Mark: What is wrong with Steven Matz? Traditional numbers and peripherals are both terrible.
Keith Law: Don’t think he’s fully healthy. That’s been his story his entire pro career, unfortunately.

TJ: Is there something to this idea that Chance Adams can’t make it through the batting order three times? He’s had success at every level.
Keith Law: I haven’t heard that about him. He’s pretty good, better than I had him coming out of last year. What I get back on him that’s negative is generally about his height and lack of FB plane – but he’s a Yankee, so he’ll come up and throw a ton of offspeed stuff, mitigating any concerns (if they’re real) about the FB.

Dorn: You’re obviously down on Austin Meadows, but lets assume he comes back and finishes the year strong and healthy. Does that put him back to where you had him preseason?
Keith Law: I’m not down on him; he’s been hurt on and off this year and hasn’t performed at all. Everyone (team sources) who saw my top 50 before I published it indicated he didn’t belong.

Brett: Atlanta promoted Luiz Gohara to AAA today. Are you a fan of the move? What do you think his ceiling could be?
Keith Law: #2 starter. I guess you could argue it’s ace stuff and size but he’s never indicated that he’ll have that kind of command/control.

Nate: Thoughts on Jordan Luplow?
Keith Law: Good kid with some power and a bit of length to his swing.

James: Matt Strahm – starter or reliever for the Friars?
Keith Law: Starter once he’s healthy again. He’ll be in the ideal ballpark for developing as a starter.

Joe: Keith, it is unrealistic for the Orioles to land a Chapman/Miller package for Britton?
Keith Law: If they put him out there they should demand a package like that.

Manu: Is it possible to see Acuña in ATL this year?
Keith Law: I bet he and Gohara come up in September.

JR: Conforto on pace to hit 30 HRs (and that is with a stint on the DL and the Mets dinking around with his playing time early season). Would you be surprised if he had some 40 HR seasons (assuming he gets his name in the lineup almost every day)?
Keith Law: I would definitely be surprised – and I’ve always been a Conforto guy. Thought he’d hit .300/.400 AVG/OBP but didn’t foresee 30+ HR power.

David: Who is the worst prospect you have seen that became a star in the majors?
Keith Law: I don’t think anyone who’s been a ‘terrible’ prospect has been a star; I can think of guys I didn’t rate highly who became stars, and guys like Kinsler (whom I never saw as a prospect) who were late picks and always old for the levels but turned into stars.

Peet: So how does next year’s draft class compare to others, overall? Thanks!
Keith Law: It looks stronger, especially on the HS side.

David: Did you expect Hunter Renfroe to look this bad in the majors? Is he really just Jeff Francouer without the speed and defense?
Keith Law: He has always had two issues – bat speed is just fair, and he does not see breaking stuff well. So I’m not shocked at the struggles. I’m more shocked by Margot’s numbers.
Keith Law: Sorry, just found out a cousin of mine passed away yesterday, in her 70s I think – very sweet person who helped me reconnect with a branch of the family we’d lost contact with years ago. What a bummer.

Mike: Are the Orioles *trying to injure DylanBundy?
Keith Law: I have not liked or understood their handling of him going back to last spring. They knew he had calcification in his shoulder, they knew his injury history, and the moment he started hitting 95 in relief, they put him back in the rotation and had him going 100 pitches an outing – and did it again this year. It’s a shame. He would be on my very short list of the best HS pitchers I’ve ever seen live.

Otto: Who do you like better for the next 10 years. Manuel Margot or Andrew Benitendi? Thanks
Keith Law: Benintendi.

Mark: Blake Rutherford – second division regular or 4th OF?
Keith Law: I’m not willing to downgrade him that much just yet. It’s not the year we expected from him, but the swing is still really good and he has a solid approach.

Jay: Given Bo Bichette’s numbers, have we ever seen a prospect ever come in and hold batting averages as high as he has since being drafted?
Keith Law: I’m sure we have. Look at what his brother did that first summer. Kinsler hit like .420 or so in low-A.

Tim F: Can you critique Paul DeJong of the Cards – is his current play an outlier or can he be a solid professional shortstop? Thanks.
Keith Law: Of course his current play is an outlier (2% walk rate, 31% K rate, .300+ ISO) – but he’s definitely a big leaguer of some sort, maybe not an everyday shortstop but either a regular at 2b/3b or a multi-position regular.

John: If you had to hitch your horse to a tall Yankee pitching prospect — is Domingo Acevedo or Frecier Perez the guy to bet on?
Keith Law: Perez. Acevedo’s delivery is really rough. He can’t repeat it.

Zirinsky: Keith: What’s going on with Mateo? SSS or did the (undeserved) promotion cause something to click?
Keith Law: He looked pretty good the other day – bat speed was good, hit that HR I tweeted about, made one really great play at short, then didn’t run out a grounder and half-assed a throw on a routine play that the 1b had to scoop. I do not know this firsthand, but I have a feeling he was moping in high-A and started to play harder after the promotion. The player I saw on Wednesday should not have hit .240/.280/.whatever in high-A.

Carlin: Been reading rumors about the A’s coveting a CF prospect for Gray and scouting Florial heavily. Even speaking as a Yankees fan, isn’t Florial a really underwhelming centerpiece for the a top-of-the-roto guy?
Keith Law: He should be the second piece, not the first. 30% K rate and just generally raw. He’s like a Cameron Maybin sort of prospect – enormous upside due to his physical gifts, but a long way to go as a player.

HugoZ: Why should we be so exercised about Swanson’s demotion if he’s likely to be brought back on Sept. 1?
Keith Law: Because of the philosophy behind it – it seems to be entirely driven by recency bias and an emphasis on winning, what, one or two extra games this year?

Gene Mullett: Have you ever been really excited to try a restaurant or something by a celebrity chef & been disappointed? Care to share?
Keith Law: Spotted Pig in NYC. I have her cookbook and liked a few recipes from it. Meal was disappointing start to finish.

Keith Law: I’m throwing a post-chat bonus answer here, because I saw a few tweets asking about this but didn’t see a question in the chat queue (I never even get to see them all because you guys ask so many, and thanks for that). People are asking if I think Luis Severino is a starter now, because he’s having an amazing season as a starter. My concern on him was always delivery-related; pitchers who don’t rely on their lower halves tend to break down and/or have trouble with command. Severino’s delivery was all arm – like Reynaldo Lopez’s, like JB Bukauskas’s, two other guys with starter stuff and track records but reliever-ish mechanics. Severino is bigger now, and throwing a ton of sliders, a pitch that is much better than it was when I saw him as a prospect (and better than I projected it to become). So yes, he’s a damn good starter right now, even though I don’t know if he’s changed the way he uses his legs at all. I hope he is using his lower half more so that he can pitch like this for a long time.

Keith Law: Gotta wrap this up for a phone call – sorry to cut it a bit short this week. I will be in Bristol on Monday for our BBTN trade deadline show that afternoon, and will probably not chat now for two weeks. Thank you as always for all of your questions. I hope to meet many of you this weekend in Chicago!

Comments

  1. Sorry for your loss

  2. Speaking of Wade Townsend, whatever happened to that libel lawsuit he threatened against you because of what you said about his injury history and Wayne Graham’s workload of pitchers? I’m going to guess it went nowhere.

    • His lawyer sent a sternly worded letter to Bristol. As far as I know, that was the end of it.

  3. you called his bluff

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