Los Angeles eats, 2017 edition.

This isn’t ideal, writing up food from a trip I finished two weeks ago, but given everything that happened between the end of that trip and today, it’s the best I can offer. Fortunately I ate some memorable stuff.

The best meal I ate was at P.Y.T., a new ‘vegetable-forward’ restaurant right in downtown Los Angeles, not entirely vegetarian but mostly so, with only two real meat-centric dishes and plenty of options that were vegetarian or even vegan. I am not a vegetarian, as regular readers know, but I have curtailed a lot of my consumption of red meat for health reasons (because I don’t metabolize the amino acid leucine properly and because my cholesterol is the highest it’s ever been) and I actively seek out vegetables when eating on the road. I ate a completely vegetarian meal at P.Y.T. and was totally satisfied and still full afterwards, because the dishes managed to be decadent without being heavy.

I had three plates at P.Y.T., which does mostly smaller plates but without going to tiny portions. The baby beets salad with mandarin segments, arugula, pumpkin seeds, and coconut labneh (like Greek yogurt, but Lebanese) was light and offered an unusual combination of flavors that worked well even if I didn’t get everything into each bite; the citrus + beets combo is pretty classic, but the arugula leaves were too mature and kind of tough. I’ll definitely try to replicate that coconut labneh at home at some point. The hand-torn pasta with green garlic cream, shishito peppers, cilantro, and mint was the most unique pasta dish I’ve ever tried, very green (obviously) but bringing together flavors I’ve never had with pasta; it was intermittently spicy, and I suspect there may have been a little jalapeno in there, and it was properly sauced (not drowning in it, not dry). If there was heavy cream in the dish, it was scant, which is a positive – too much and suddenly you’re at Olive Garden (and not even family). The dessert was a peanut butter mousse by another name, with chocolate wafers crumbled on top of alternating layers of whipped cream and the mousse. If that had had just one little layer of dark chocolate it would have been an 80.

I went to Son of a Gun for lunch, and tweeted the picture of their enormous fried chicken sandwich, which I split with a friend. It’s right up there with the Crack Shack (San Diego/Encinitas) and nocawich (Tempe) for fried chicken sandwiches, and it might have had the crispiest shell around the meat of any I’ve ever had. We also got the lobster rolls, which are basically two bites big, and the garlic fries, of which I ate way too much, and I seem to remember a salad of apples and cheese that I thought was just fair. The chicken sandwich, though … I still think it’s a two people per sandwich choice, but it’s double-plus.

The Son of a Gun team – owners of Animal and Jon & Vinny’s – co-own Petit Trois, an offshoot of their fine-dining place Trois Mec, but this one is run by chef Ludo Lefebvre, who was actually in the restaurant in his chef’s whites the night I ate there. It’s lighter fare, still Parisian French but more like French bar food than classic French gastronomy. The best item I had was their English pea tartine, which had English peas over honeyed chevre spread on a thick, grilled slice of crusty bread. The peas just made the dish, of course, since they were at peak sweetness. I also had butter-poached shrimp served in avocado, which was fine but probably fussier than it needed to be; and the “beignet,” which I would just call a donut but what do I know.

Both Petit Trois and Sqirl showed up on Eater’s list of the best 38 restaurants in America for 2017 – I’ve been to ten, plus Publican’s offshoot PQM – and while I totally get Petit Trois’ place, Sqirl … I think it’s more about a novel concept than anything else. It’s a breakfast and lunch spot with mostly non-traditional fare, including their specialty rice bowls, with sorrel pesto, sliced radishes, feta cheese, and a poached egg, with the option to add other meats. It’s filling, certainly, although I find rice for breakfast, a staple for maybe half the world’s population, a jolt to my palate. I thought the food was good, but nothing spectacular; the rice/pesto mix is made in huge batches anyway, and there was nothing I ate that I couldn’t easily replicate at home. They used good inputs, but what came after was just fair. The place is Full Hipster, if that sort of thing matters to you.

I also went back to Square One for breakfast a different day; it’s one of my absolute favorite breakfast spots in the country, and there’s bonus value in watching the zombies walk around the Scientology complex across the street. I always get the same thing – the house-cured salmon benedict, which is served over a hash brown pancake of sorts rather than bread. I don’t even look at the menu any more. And it’s a lot more chill than Sqirl.

In San Diego I just went with my standbys, The Crack Shack (where a reader of mine works, and we discovered later that he’d made the matzoh ball posole I ate for lunch) and Juniper & Ivy (menu always changing, and everything so good). I don’t mess with perfection.

Stick to baseball, 5/20/17.

My one baseball post this past week was the annual ranking of the Top 25 MLB players under 25, which causes more “read the intro” violations than anything else I write every year. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday while in Minneapolis; I will do a quick eats post from there soon, but I’m about six topics behind here due to travel and lack of sleep.

For Paste, I reviewed the new puzzle game Shahrazad, which has a solo version and a two-player mode, both pretty clever with fantastic artwork and very few rules to learn.

My book, Smart Baseball, came out on April 25th from HarperCollins in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats. I traveled to Atlanta and the Twin Cities for readings/signings this past week, and am very grateful to all of you who came out to buy the book, have yours signed, or just say hello; we had 50+ folks at each event and Moon Palace Books sold out of the book Thursday night. Smart Baseball also got a very positive review from an unexpected source, the political site The Federalist.

I’m still sending out my email newsletter when I can, and the last edition, about some recent troubles I’ve had with my anxiety disorder and the medication I take for it, got the strongest response yet – so many replies and comments, in fact, that I haven’t been able to respond to the majority of them. I did see them all, though, and I really appreciate all the kind words.

And now, the links…

Klawchat 5/18/17.

My annual ranking of the top 25 players under 25 is now up for Insiders.

Also, just your regular reminder to go buy my book Smart Baseball, out now from HarperCollins!

Keith Law: Klawchat, top of the food chain.

Phil: What is your quick, reasoned, non-hyperbolic assessment of Jeter’s career?
Keith Law: Great player, Hall of Famer, not the Second Coming.

Bertil: What should Atlanta do with Swanson?
Keith Law: Play him every day. I assume this was a question about sending him down or something, but that would be pointless and possibly harmful. Just play him every day this year and be patient.

Tim: Castro and Hicks. Mirages or is there something real going on with both that should give the Yankees long term hope? Castro has fooled us all before after all..
Keith Law: I’m a little more bullish on Hicks, since he’s shown flashes of all of this before, just never for long enough to matter – and he’s getting consistent playing time for the first time in a while.

Squire: Are the Phillies connected to anyone else at #8 other than Shane Baz?
Keith Law: Trevor Rogers. Other HS arms, but I’ve also heard that they’re not specifically focused on that category.

Ben: Does Padres AAA reliever Phil Maton have a future in a big league bullpen?
Keith Law: Yes. Very high spin-rate fastball.

Kieth’s Friend: Any tips on cooking an omelette? I bet if you saw mine you would run away
Keith Law: Without knowing what you’re doing, I’ll blindly suggest lowering the heat.

John: Leading up to draft day, Hunter Greene was a consensus 1/2. No win some mocks I’m seeing him slip down to the Padres at 3. Whats the cause of this and what are the odds it actually happens?
Keith Law: Nah, he was never consensus 1 or 2. He’s the consensus number one talent. There was always a chance that he’d go below that, just like Jason Groome was (IMO) the #2 talent last year and went 12th. Well, not just like that, because Groome slid on some makeup concerns, while Greene, if he goes 3, hasn’t exactly “slid” and also would buck history if he goes 1 overall because no HS RHP has ever gone there.

Tim: Any thoughts on the Dodgers thought process with Bellinger? Seems like with Gonzalez out, playing him at 1st would improve the defense pretty significantly over him in left with Utley at first. Have seen several misplayed balls over at 1st by Utley/Van Slyke.
Keith Law: I think they’re temporarily prioritizing contract (AG is signed through next year for too much money) over the best alignment of players (Bellinger at 1b, AG on the bench). If they get everyone healthy and play AG at first and Bellinger in left, then I think you’d have cause for complaint.

Michael: Proper punishment for Pillar?
Keith Law: Five game suspension, roughly.

Justin: What your take on German Marquez?
Keith Law: Two-pitch guy. Can’t see him staying a starter like that. Speaking of which, he’s pitching like a mile away from me at the moment.

Tim: What do you make of TJ Rivera?
Keith Law: Just a bench guy, if that.

Brandon Johnson : Thinking long term, do Alex Verdugo and Willie Calhoun have more value to the Dodgers in LA or as trade bait?
Keith Law: I don’t see where Calhoun ever plays for them because he has no position. Verdugo has a very good chance to be a star or at least an above average regular, so I wouldn’t rush to put him in a deal, but Calhoun has more value in trade than he can ever have for the Dodgers.

Dane: Will Devers be in Boston before Sept callups?
Keith Law: I would have said no shot in March, but now it seems like that might happen.

Michael: Any thoughts on what the issue is with JP Crawford? SSS? Or do you think there is real concern regarding his ability to play against real competition?
Keith Law: I’ve had on and off but very trivial concerns about his effort level in the past, like he was coasting on ability but was so much better than everyone else that it didn’t matter. And I’ve heard he’s not playing hard all the time now, either. So is that it? Or is he actually overmatched? I find the latter hard to believe.

Tommy Wright: Luis Robert – how high will he be in your top 100 and do my Padres have a shot at him?
Keith Law: I don’t know if he’ll be on it at all. Every team has a shot at him unless they’re locked out of the international market for this period.

Ben: Headed to Nashville next weekend…going to Catbird Seat. Any other suggestions?
Keith Law: Husk, City House, Two Ten Jack, 404 Kitchen, Rolf & Daughters, Mas Tacos, the Pharmacy, Pinewood Social.

John: How do you feel about strawberry-rhubarb pie?
Keith Law: Done right, it’s an 80.

ExExpos: Any 2018 draft guys that we should keep an eye on next year? Like Seth Beer? Or way too early?
Keith Law: Beer’s on the list, definitely, but I think it’s worth remembering that no one is truly bearing down on 2018 kids right now. They all look better from a distance; once this year’s draft is over, they’ll get more than a cursory look.

Sean: Is Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo on your to be read list? I’m halfway through it and find it a very interesting and quick read.
Keith Law: It’s a maybe. Reviews are great, I liked Saunders’ short stories, not sure how much the subject appeals.

Ralph: Most likely to be used by Cubs in a trade for a SP- Schwarber, Baez, Happ?
Keith Law: I’m sure they’d prefer to use Baez, but teams will start the ask with Eloy and Happ.

Mike: How late do you think you’ll be at Moon Palace Books tonight?
Keith Law: I think the talk is an hour or so (it’s me and two other authors), and then I’ll sign and chat. The event in Atlanta ran about two hours, so I’d bank on that. I don’t know when Moon Palace closes.

Roger: Will there ever come a day where an SP throws 275-300 innings again?
Keith Law: I don’t think so. And I say that with 99% confidence.

Jack: Thoughts on Marcus Wilson slaughtering the Midwest League?
Keith Law: Great to see, and I think it’s fair to say he’s reestablished some value already, but he also played a month there last year so while he’s not truly repeating the level, I’m at least trying not to get too far ahead of myself. I think this is probably a real step forward, but let’s see him carry it longer.

Steve: Vladdy Jr. is turning heads, but Bo Bichette is ripping the ball too. Any chance BB sticks at short in the majors? What’s his offensive ceiling?
Keith Law: Zero chance he sticks at short, but I loved his bat in the draft (and the pick) and I think he’s at least a 55 overall at 2b. Good thing for the Jays, too, since JB Woodman has been a disaster.

Cory: Please tell me the Twins will take Wright #1. And, as a Minnesotan, any chance at all that Sam Carlson falls to their pick at #35? I have my doubts.
Keith Law: Nonzero chance of Carlson falling, just because there are too many HS arms for them all to go in the first round, and then I think Carlson gets an overslot deal in the sandwich. Couldn’t tell you who they will take; I think it’s Wright, McKay, or Greene.

PhillyJake: Why is Alen Hanson still on the Pirates roster?
Keith Law: Because he’s out of options.

Seany: Any Rumblings on who the A’s may be high on for the draft?
Keith Law: Nothing new on that since my last mock.

Joe: What’s your opinion on Mueller being appointed to the special counsel
Keith Law: People who know about these things seem unanimous in their praise of him and the move, I have nothing I could possibly add to that.

Johnny O: What’s the last non-fiction book you read? I know you did a NF top 100 years ago but you haven’t posted a review of a NF book in forever.
Keith Law: I posted a review of The End of Ownership last week, and reviewed the excellent I Contain Multitudes a few weeks before that.

crawdaddy: Do you think Aaron Judge can be the Yankees long-term answer in RF.
Keith Law: I don’t think there’s any question he is.

Jason in Detroit: Keith, Beau Burrows is having a nice season. Too soon to say or is he sort of back on track?
Keith Law: I don’t think he was off track, but the main concern from last year, the lack of a good third pitch to get LHB out, remains (I just checked his platoon splits, and, yep, still a wide gap).

Jack: Who would perform best in MLB right now if Yankees needed another OF, Fowler or Frazier?
Keith Law: I’d call up Fowler over Frazier today.

Justin: Thanks for the chats. Assuming the Pirates continue to be “meh,” or worse, what would be the best path forward? Deal Cole for a trade deadline premium price, and then spend on new pitching in the offseason? stand mostly pat (while dealing… say… Watson)? I don’t feel like they need a full rebuild.
Keith Law: Don’t see them spending on new pitching – free agent pitching has largely gotten out of the reach of the lowest-payroll teams – but trading Watson makes sense for sure, and trading Cole if healthy and likely to get a huge return would be smart for the long term even if painful for 2017.

Tracy: Any Dickens’ recommendations?
Keith Law: I loved The Pickwick Papers, and liked Bleak House although its length may scare some folks off.

Michael: Any concerns about Trea Turner or still a SSS
Keith Law: Nah, he’ll be fine.

Sloth: Does David Peterson sneak into the first round? What’s his ceiling?
Keith Law: I think I had him going 15th or 16th in the mock, and I’ve heard him as high as Miami’s pick at 14. Ceiling is a 3, reasonable ceiling a 4.

Tom: Walker Buehler. 1.4 FIP so far in A+/AA seems good. Any chance we see a peak out of the bullpen this year, or will his innings cap prevent it?
Keith Law: They could manage him in a way that gets him to the majors this year, but they’d have to decide that sooner rather than later.

Jim: What have you heard about Matt Tabor? Potential 2nd rounder?
Keith Law: Up to 95 with bad delivery. Was told not a top 100 guy.

Ben: Thoughts on Sierra after seeing him for a stint with the Cards?
Keith Law: Nothing new. Plus run, plus field, will eventually be above average hitter with below average power. I wouldn’t judge him differently on performance in 30 at bats.

Gregory: With Freddie Freeman now out, and the season about to be lost, should the Braves start the parade of prospects to MLB?
Keith Law: Didn’t they already start that? Guys will come up when they’re ready, but I don’t think you’ll see any elite guys like Fried (or Acuna, if at all) till after the ASB.

Justin: Hearing anything new on the Luis Robert front?
Keith Law: I do not follow that market at all.

Steve: Have you heard anything about Duplantier this season? Couldn’t ask for better results thus far and he’s been healthy. Does he have a chance to be a top 100 guy come the end of the season?
Keith Law: Heard in spring training he looked great and felt completely healthy again; I thought he was the one pick they made last year that could really explode for them this season, because he might have been a first rounder if he had a clean medical and weren’t at Rice. Teams really do discount Rice pitchers given their injury history, as they should. Until Wayne Graham is gone, that should be the draft room norm.

Jim: Tristen Lutz and Jacob Pearson, both top 100 proepects?
Keith Law: Pearson was on my draft top 50, no? Lutz I don’t think so but I haven’t done a full 100 yet.

Wendy: Any interest in being a teams GM?
Keith Law: I’ve never been offered that job, so this is an academic question, but I don’t think I’d take such a drastic change in my work/life balance. I wouldn’t like it, and it would be cruel to do that to my family.

Andy: Enjoying Smart Baseball on Kindle. I’m curious, have all MLB scouting departments fully embraced Sabermetrics or do any still rely on the traditional baseball card statistics and metrics?
Keith Law: Thank you! All 30 MLB teams have full-fledged analytics departments; they vary in how much they integrate that work into other areas.

Matt: In your “just missed” column, you described Zimmer as a possible 20/20 guy. Do you think he has the speed to steal 30+ in the bigs like he has in the minors each year?
Keith Law: Gotta get on base at a decent clip for that, and he has really never hit LHP (aside from a tiny sample this year in AAA), which may mean he’s a platoon guy.

Marco: Is Clarke Thomas a Dodger profile for the first round? They selected Buehler two years ago, I don’t see that so unlikely.
Keith Law: Schmidt? I think that’s very unlikely. Buehler was a way better prospect pre-injury than Schmidt.

Steve: Erick Fedde was moved to the pen. Is he a future starter or reliever to you?
Keith Law: I thought he was maybe 60/40 reliever. Saw him last week, still lacks an average changeup. Great arm, definite big leaguer, maybe he could still fake it enough to start because the fastball and slider both flash plus. But I feel extremely confident he’ll be a good reliever.

Gerard: Favorite Melvins’ recording?
Keith Law: Stoner Witch. Is there another answer?

Zihuatenejo: Any advice on finding time to read? I was a voracious reader in my teens and twenties, but as a busy adult I can’t seem to find the time to settle down with a book anymore.
Keith Law: Two suggestions. One is finding hidden moments where you’re otherwise not doing anything – or screwing around on your phone – like waiting in line at stores or waiting for appointments or riding the bus or subway. I read a ton in those places. The other is choosing to dedicate some time every night to reading, even if it’s just 20 minutes. I find that it’s extremely calming, in addition to the pure pleasure I derive from reading.

Parker: Who surprised you more about their stardom from where they were in the minor leagues. AJ Pollock or Paul Goldschmidt?
Keith Law: Goldschmidt. Pollock was a first rounder. Goldschmidt was a lower round pick whom pro scouts weren’t even that high on – I have notes from when he was in the minors from pro scouts who saw him and called him an “up and down guy” or a “platoon 1b.”

Brian: What’s Christin Stewart’s MLB potential?
Keith Law: Solid average everyday LF with plus power and minus defense.

Jean: Are you still a big fan of Jordan Hicks? He has an underwhelming strikeout per 9 right now for a guy that hits 100 mph. Is he more stuff then results right now because of his age?
Keith Law: Yes, still a big fan. Stuff is there, but he’s not just young but inexperienced.
Keith Law: Also, it’s 35 innings.

Theo: Delvin Perez for Brad Hand who says “no”?
Keith Law: The Cardinals are not giving up last year’s first rounder for a guy who was just waived a few months ago.

Parker: how did Nolan Arenado go from a bad defender to pure amazing?
Keith Law: I’ve never delved into the full story but the hints I’ve gotten over the years are that the kid worked his ass off and the Rockies coaches did an amazing job with his footwork and reads. He was a legit 45 defender (or below) in the AFL, and a year later he’s a Gold Glover.

Elliott: Do you sear your meatballs or drop them in the sauce with a covered lid?
Keith Law: Sear and then braise in the sauce.

Andy: Assuming Sandy finally gets it and lets him play everyday, can Conforto maintain this level of production, or do you expect some natural regression ahead?
Keith Law: I think Conforto is a star. He has a .393 OBP, which I think is entirely sustainable for him, but is on pace for 45 HR with a .638 SLG, which I think is not.

Keith: Will Albert Abreu eventually be moved to pen or can he stick in rotation?
Keith Law: More likely to the pen, but absolutely let him start for now and the near future. He could become a starter.

Chad: A question I wanted to ask you in Atlanta on Tuesday: With the caveat that it’s seven weeks in, most of the Braves top 20 prospects have met or exceeded expectations despite being aggressively promoted. Plus, Demeritte’s and Jackson’s flaws look legitimately improved. Credit to Clark and Bridges’ scouts, player development, luck? All of the above? After Freddie’s injury, my focus is now pretty one-directional.
Keith Law: Also pro scouts, and the front office’s aggressiveness. It has been a tremendous year so far on their farm.
Keith Law: Credit everyone there except Kiley. We know he’s just there for the food.

Danny: Would you deal Tommy Joseph to a contender at the deadline and call up Hoskins? He seems legit, no?
Keith Law: I think Hoskins is legit, but what would a contender do with Joseph?

Jose: Is Josh Ockimey improving his outlook at all? I am hoping he can be a power hitting 1b in the next 3-4 years.
Keith Law: Yes – remember he was on fire till about mid-July last year and then absolutely stunk afterwards. I asked, and was told he wasn’t hurt, but he ran out of steam. So I guess I believe this is real but he has to show he can hit all season, not for half a year.

Seath: Could you see Tyler Jay working the bullpen in the Majors and transition to the rotation eventually (2-3 years)? Or do you think the move is permanent?
Keith Law: I got the sense this was a permanent move but I believed he could develop as a starter and would love to see them keep the door open for him.

John: If the Twins keep this up through the All Star break should they stand pat or flip Dozier and Santana for younger pieces to put around the young core?
Keith Law: I do not believe they’re going to keep this up till the ASB and they’d be remiss in failing to get value for their older players.

Theo: if the MLB players association were the Beatles what would the NFL players association be? My guess would be a tone deaf rabbit trying to play the banjo.
Keith Law: The NFLPA can’t comment because they’re currently fetching Goodell’s dry cleaning.

Marcus: You mention Fried as an elite guy, no concerns over him scuffling a bit so far?
Keith Law: Obviously not.

Ben: What are the cubs doing with Jose Albertos? Is he hurt? Why hasn’t he started in the minors? Still see him with front of the line potential?
Keith Law: They claimed a minor injury last year, and of course he’s got no innings under his belt, so it’s not like he can go out and pitch a full year.

Mark: Jacob Gatewood has already walked more this year at a higher level than all of last year. Is this a legit change or are we still in SSS territory?
Keith Law: He got LASIK, no? The story – not that I could dispute this in any way – is that he can see the ball properly for the first time in years. Works for me.

Jesse: How soon before Rosario is up? With the season lost, might the Mets be better off keeping him at triple-A all season?
Keith Law: How would that make them better off, exactly?

Carter: What to make of Carson Fulmers AAA numbers he doesn’t seem to be missing bats anymore.
Keith Law: I’ve said since he was a college sophomore that he’s a reliever. He can’t command his fastball well enough with that delivery, and he got college hitters out too often on breaking stuff out of the zone.

Kevin: Kyle Funkhouser just got a promotion to high A. Think he has a future of 2-3 or is that too bullish?
Keith Law: I’ll buy that. He dominated low-A on stuff, and he was way too old/experienced for the level. Now he gets a real test.

Mike: Thanks, Keith. Hopefully my stats class gets out early. Moon Palace closes at 8 according to their website – for others who might want to know.
Keith Law: Thank you. It starts at 6:30, and I’ll certainly try to stay to accommodate everyone. I signed the books of everyone who stayed on Tuesday.

Tyler: I admit I overreacted when I saw Judge wasn’t on your 25 under 25 list. Had his birthday not been 3 weeks ago, roughly what range would he have fallen in? (Also, Judge’s age makes you realize how everyone has different time tables of developing their talent.)
Keith Law: I didn’t consider anyone who didn’t qualify – once I include one guy who’s 25, I’d have to include or at least consider them all, and then the whole list is kaput. But yes, he did develop on a different path, and credit the Yankees for how they handled him.

Chris: Will Kyle Tucker be a top 10 prospect at years end he is killing it. Has he changed anything or just a body maturing
Keith Law: Great hitter. Not likely to be a top 10 prospect as a corner OF.

JD: is the political chaos as bad for your mental health as it is for us in DC, or does it not take up a big part of your mindspace?
Keith Law: It’s impossible to avoid this stuff if you’re online as much as I am. I’m happy with chaos if it slows the implementation of dangerous policies. This administration hasn’t given me any reason to think they have pro-growth economic policies coming.

Theo: Renfroe has suddenly started walking, did someone say “you shouldn’t swing at balls”? What would go into getting him to make this adjustment?
Keith Law: It’s been a week. That’s not necessarily an adjustment; guys who rarely walk can still have a seven-game stretch where they draw seven walks without any material change in their games.

Bob: The thing that boggles my mind is that though every team has an analytic department and most teams seem to use it in picking players, there are still so many managers that don’t seem to be on the same page.
Keith Law: Same. How guys like Scioscia and Collins have infinite job security – thanks to their owners – in the face of industry upheaval just boggles my mind. For everyone else, it’s evolve or die.

Larry David: How important is it for Triston McKenzie to pack on like, 50 pounds and how much can that mess with a guys mechanics?
Keith Law: Doubt he’s got room for 50 pounds, but he could gain 20 naturally over the next few years. He doesn’t really need velocity, but the prevailing belief is that size equals durability and if that’s true (I don’t know that it is) then it would be very important because he has to walk around storm grates.

John: Are you excited about Daniel Brito at all? He is small, but seems to have a useful tool set. Any chance he is better than a utility player down the line?
Keith Law: Oh I think he’s got a good chance to be a lot better than a UT. He’s so young his range of outcomes is high but he has star potential.

Jason: Heard of the band Temples? You should check em out.
Keith Law: Yep, at least two of their songs have made my monthly playlists, and one was on an annual top 100.

Ruth Bader: Any thoughts on the Cornell passing? Were you a fan of any of his music or appreciative of his versatile voice tool?
Keith Law: Loved, loved, loved Soundgarden, especially Louder than Love and Badmotorfinger. I remember an early interview with Cornell, maybe around 1991, where he cited Kafka, Camus, and Celine as influences on his lyrics. And while they were called grunge because they were Seattle-based and contemporaries of grunge acts, their music was quite progressive until Down on the Upside. I know their best output was behind them, but what a huge loss nonetheless. If you’re in the US and you need help, the national suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and someone is there 24 hours a day.

addoeh: Any chance in the future that Statcast is used to determine errors in place of some dude in the press box? If say a fielder had a high percentage chance (say 90%) to make a play and doesn’t, they’d get an error.
Keith Law: We can only hope. Or just kill the error completely.

Jon : I know you’ve questioned the process behind the Craig Counsell hiring. But he’s also the only Brewer manager who has never had me pulling my hair out with stupid decision making. Can we say the process was flawed but result was good?
Keith Law: That can certainly happen.

Jason: Would Sixto Sanchez be a top 100 prospect for you if the rankings were redone?
Keith Law: No.

Tracy: Thanks a lot for sharing your story about your recent struggles with anxiety and dealing with medication. Like any other disorder, it has to be dealt with regularly and it never completely goes away. Hopefully, for those who also struggle with anxiety, they were able to take some measure of solace from your story. Thanks, Keith.
Keith Law: I’ve gotten a lot of responses from readers to that newsletter edition, more than anything else I’ve sent out, and I apologize for not getting back to everyone yet. But I saw all your notes and am thankful for everyone’s concern and well wishes, and glad I could do some good for those of you facing the same kind of mental illness issues.

Nate: Do you have any advice for a current college student who has aspirations to work in a baseball operations department from the analytics side? Thanks
Keith Law: Learn to code. Study topics relevant to big data, like machine learning and signal processing.

Nick: Mark Appel had one of the worst innings I’ve ever seen today. Struggled all year. Org guy or is there still hope for some value?
Keith Law: Stuff is still good, results are atrocious. Can’t pitch from the stretch at all. I think you have to move him to the bullpen to try to hit reset, but guys in the bullpen pitch with runners on base too. Hate to give up on a healthy arm with stuff, but at some point he has to show he can miss more bats and find a way to pitch with men on.

Moltar: Going to Philly for a long weekend, any eat/drinks recommendations?
Keith Law: High St on Market, Dizengoff, Barbuzzo, High Street on Market, Pizzeria Vetri, Pizzeria Stella, Osteria. There are some great high-end places like Vernick and Zahav but it can be extremely difficult to get a table there – I tried to get into Zahav for my anniversary, which is in mid-June, and they had nothing even though I called over a month ahead.

Troy: Keith, what is going on with Lucas Erceg? He was hitting just .211 the other day but less than a 20% strikeout rate. Just bad luck or something more? Also, Corey Ray starting to hit more!
Keith Law: It’s mid-May, and the minors have played a lot fewer games than the majors have. Don’t get too worried about players we knew were good, who were good last year, but haven’t performed yet.

Nate (Seattle): For players under suspension (such as Brickford or S Marte), what kind of contact can they have with their team? Do they get sent to Arz/Florida for extended spring training type workouts?
Keith Law: I believe they can work out in extended, but TBH I’m not really sure what the restrictions are.

Zach: I’m disappointed I can’t make it to Moon Palace tonight, I’m sure you’ll have a good turnout. Peace Coffee around the corner will help get you through, too. What places will you be dining at while in town?
Keith Law: Thank you – I’m excited to meet everyone. I’ll probably just have one dinner with my friend Evon, who lives in the area, but I’m not sure what the plan is. And then tomorrow I’ll get breakfast and go to Dogwood for coffee.

Ken: Just wanted to say thanks for your newsletter. I’m stable on medication for OCD and anxiety, and have been for a few years, but I always want to be careful not to take it for granted, or think I can’t have a rebound.
Keith Law: You’re welcome. I took it for granted.

Chris: Is health and stature the knock on Cease? Does he have the durability to be a true ace
Keith Law: Stuff isn’t quite what it was in HS, and I think the FB plays down. I do like him, just maybe not what we thought he’d be.

Bob: In general, should guys who project to be very good relief pitchers start to specialize in the minor leagues or should they start to get in the innings? After all, their development is a higher priority than wins at that level.
Keith Law: I’m fine with starting those guys so they work on developing secondary stuff and pitch on a regular schedule.

Brett: Did you make it to Staplehouse while in Atlanta?
Keith Law: No, I ate at Cakes & Ale in Decatur, within walking distance of the venue. And the meal was spectacular.

Eric: Khalil Lee doesn’t have a great average in the minors, but his OB%, homeruns and SB look really encouraging. Have you hear anything about him?
Keith Law: He’s young for low-A, so it is encouraging, but he’s striking out a ton and the majority of scouts I know who saw him in HS had questions about the hit tool.

Santos: By career wRC+ Votto has the 7th best mark in baseball history, and is 14th on the list (lots of ties). It could be argued that he is a top 14 hitter in all of baseball history. Remember when people wanted him to change his approach a few years ago? RBIs are a hell of a drug.
Keith Law: By people, you mean Marty Brennaman, right?

Jeremy: Also Tim Tebow on cover of baseball america. They should know better over there right?
Keith Law: Gotta sell papers! The Tebow scouting piece I wrote in Arizona got huge traffic numbers. I wouldn’t revisit that topic because then I’d be pandering, but the reality is that sometimes a washed-up non-prospect moves the needle.

Mary: Will Flaherty be close to top 100 by midseason?
Keith Law: He was on my top 100 this past offseason, and of course would still be on it.

Brett: Keith, when ranking prospects how much do you factor in the ability to make adjustments? A lot has been made of Aaron Judge’s ability to improve once he gets comfortable with a level and he’s certainly made positive changes on his stance and laying off pitches he swung at when he was first called up last year.
Keith Law: That’s always in there and I cited it specifically when writing about Judge.

Mickey: Will you be going to Changing Hands in Phoenix or Tempe anytime soon for a signing?
Keith Law: I think I’ll do one there in October when I’m out for fall league – I’ve discussed it with Changing Hands and they’re game, but we haven’t fixed a date yet.

Jack Law: I thought Allen Cordoba would log a few dozen PA and be terrible. Is he doing better than you thought?
Keith Law: Absolutely.

John: Too bad you can’t find time to stop by the Twins broadcast booth. They seem to spend half their time talking about errors, batting average, and the virtue of sacrificing runners over.
Keith Law: In Smart Baseball I mention the irony of Bert Blyleven, who is only a Hall of Famer because of sabermetrics and the lobbying of people in the sabermetrics community, hating sabermetrics.

Mike: Of the HS outfielders potentially at the top of the draft – Royce Lewis, Austin Beck, Jordon Adell – who do you think has the best hit tool now and hit tool potential?
Keith Law: Lewis now & potential. Adell probably has the highest overall ceiling, though; I think he’s the best athlete of the three by a long shot.

Pop: Love the book! Is there anything I/We here in Austin could do to get you down here for a signing?
Keith Law: I’ll end with this even though there a lot of great questions in the queue – I have to get a move on here. If you want me to do a signing in your city, it has to come from a venue there (usually an independent bookstore) that asks HarperCollins. If I can work it into my schedule – I’m in MSP for ESPN, and doubling up with the signing – we’ll work to make it happen. But the inquiry has to come from the store or, as with Atlanta, a venue where I can do a talk or Q&A or whatever. I’m definitely doing signings in Toronto (6/26), Miami (7/8), and Harrisburg (7/15), tentatively in Brooklyn, Indianapolis (GenCon), Phoenix (October/AFL), and Philly (November, PAX Unplugged). I’m happy to do more; Tuesday night was fun, and while I admit to some raised anxiety, it went great and the readers were all great to talk to afterwards. And I didn’t even share the best story of all – maybe in the next newsletter.
Keith Law: Thank you all for all of your questions, for reading, and for al the kind words on the book and on my last newsletter. I am planning to go to Louisville next week for the ACC tournament and may have to move or skip the chat, so please stay tuned.

Stick to baseball, 5/13/17.

My one Insider post this week was my first ‘mock’ draft for 2017, although it’s really too early for that sort of exercise. And I held a Klawchat on Thursday.

Smart Baseball is out now in the U.S. and Canada; you can order it here or get it at any local bookstore. We are working on getting an ebook version out in some international markets, but I can’t promise anything there yet.

I have two signings/talks this week, for which I’m very excited (and a little anxious, to be honest). The first is in Decatur, Georgia (Atlanta area), at the Georgia Center for the Book on Tuesday at 7 pm, and the AJC was kind enough to lead their book events page with a note about my appearance. The second is in Minneapolis at Moon Palace Books on Thursday at 6:30 pm. I hope to meet many of you at these events, both of which are free to attend.

I’ve been asked by many of you about organizing other events. If a bookstore reaches out to Harper Collins to invite me, and I can work it into my schedule, I’m certainly open to doing more. I do have further events scheduled for Toronto, Miami (July 8th), and Berkeley (July 19th), plus am hoping to do signings at GenCon and PAX Unplugged later this year.

I spoke with SUNY-Oswego Professor of Digital Media Brian Moritz about the book, analytics in sports, and being a writer. I joined The Young Turks’ video show to discuss the book and media resistance to advanced stats. I also spoke with ESPN Radio in Dallas, with ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati, and with SI Now about the book & Mike Mussina’s Hall of Fame case.

And now, the links…

Klawchat, 5/11/17.

Chat starts at 1 pm ET; questions go in the frame below, not in the comments!

My first first-round projection for this year’s draft is now up for Insiders. And you can buy Smart Baseball, my first book, online or in any bookstore now.

Keith Law: Twisting like a cat on a hot tin shine. It’s Klawchat.

Greg: Hey Keith, is it bad that I’m disappointed in your projected Atlanta pick being a guy with an average fastball? Is that really the best pick at 5, or does he make up for it in other ways?
Keith Law: By all accounts Gore has great secondaries for a HS arm and an advanced feel to pitch. The ball also comes out of his hand really well – I wouldn’t be surprised if his release point was especially far towards the batter and if his fastball plays above its velo. I think it’s a strong consensus that he’s the second best prep arm in the class.

Frank: What was your reaction to Ronald Acuna being promoted to Double A so quickly?
Keith Law: I think it’s strange. I love the player, but he hadn’t dominated high-A – he had two great weeks and still struck out a lot.

kimchidad: Do you have any interest in doing live scouting in South Korea or Japan to get a better idea of the level of play in those leagues?
Keith Law: I mean, if you’re paying, sure.

Andrew: Thoughts on Tatis Jr so far this year?
Keith Law: None. He’s 18, in low-A, and it’s been a month. Unless he was totally overmatched (he’s not) or dominating (he’s not), there’s nothing here to change my preseason opinion of him.

Burns: Who has a better chance of becoming more than a backend starter, Beede or Honeywell?
Keith Law: Beede.

Wayne: In your top-five scenario, what other player(s) do you think Atlanta would be considering besides Gore?
Keith Law: I believe they’d kill for Greene or Lewis, but I don’t see either of those happening. Bear in mind that last year they weren’t really linked to Anderson by anyone until maybe two weeks before the draft.

Wayne: Through 126 PAs in Double A, Travis Demeritte is walking 11% and striking out 22%. When is it alright to put stock in the decreased K%?
Keith Law: I think it’s probably meaningful now. He had 150 AB after the trade last year, all in high-A, with a 33% K rate. So he moved up and is already making more contact. And bear in mind I think he might be a 7 defender at second.

Scott: American Gods – Impressed? Disappointed? I think they’ve been pretty true to the book so far. I’ve enjoyed the first 2 episodes.
Keith Law: I haven’t watched E2 yet. I thought E1 was compelling and McShane was great but the gore was stupid and undermined the episode.

Paco: Imagine prime Maddux was a prospect now. Would he be difficult to evaluate? Is it hard to project command/movement guys? I can’t imagine there’s too many rhp throwing high 80’s that are getting much hype.
Keith Law: Maddux could get into the low 90s, up to 94, in his peak, and he could really sink it with 80 command and a good changeup. He would probably be underrated, because everyone would question his ceiling, but he’d be considered a solid prospect for sure.

Danny: I’m a big fan of Chase Vallot. Think despite the strikeout issues, he pairs that with being able to walk (career 12% BB% in the minors – 16% this year in Wilmington). Of course the sticking point with him is if he can stay at catcher? Thoughts there? He also clearly has SOME idea of the strikezone given his walk rate, but why are the K’s so high?
Keith Law: Just saw him the other night; don’t think he’s a catcher, don’t agree that he’s got much plate discipline either.

Danny P: Evan White might fit in with the Cubs philosophy of the best college bat, though Rizzo would still be blocking him in a few years, can he be a decent Corner OFer. They also seem to love USA baseball guys. Is it a fit?
Keith Law: I’d be quite surprised if they took a 1b (who could definitely play the OF) with a career college walk rate of under 8%.

Eli: Where would Seth Romero rank on talent alone? How far do you see off-field concerns dropping him?
Keith Law: He would have gone in the first, I would have ranked him more towards the second (it’s not a good delivery), and I think he now goes second or third with a significant discount. Getting in a fight with a teammate on top of a mountain of previous incidents tells me either he’s got a real mental illness or he’s totally irresponsible.

GS (Minneapolis): My heart loves Miguel Sano while my head loved Max Kepler. Kepler seems so well-rounded to me and I think his net value is under appreciated by Twins fans. Well he develop 30 hr power?
Keith Law: Kepler? I’d say 20+, 30 is not impossible but not likely.

Greg: How much of the rumored desire of Hunter Greene to avoid Cincinnati, should Reds fans be concerned about?
Keith Law: I’d call that bullshit.

Ryan Philip: What’s your guess on how DD handles Devers down the stretch given their obvious need at 3b and the disaster Moncada was last year? At what point is it ok for them to throw Devers in the fire without sacrificing his development?
Keith Law: Buster said on the podcast this morning that he’s heard they might call Devers up; I said I thought that was aggressive, but that I also think Devers could handle the big jump without getting derailed. He’s a special talent at the plate.

David: Hi Keith,

When you see two-way players with the abilities of McKay and Greene would you push them, by default, to being either a hitter or a pitcher? I understand the need for pitchers, but with the injury risk there might be better value in being a hitter. I’m assuming it is all a case-by-case situation based on the player, but was just curious if you had any thoughts. As a Pirate fan I’m always reminded of John Van Benschoten when I hear about two-way players and wonder if there is an industry consensus on the way to go.
Keith Law: Case by case for me. I’d put Greene on the mound for sure. McKay I prefer on the mound but there’s a better case for him to hit than there is for Greene.

Chris: I always love your take on books, Keith, and was wondering if you’ve read The Sellout, by Paul Beatty, which won the Man Booker. I finished it a week or two ago and have never been more conflicted, in a good way, by a novel, especially a comic one. I left it having enjoyed it and its thematic point but feeling totally insecure and out of place, which might’ve been part of the point. Anyway I was wondering your thoughts. Thanks for all your great work.
Keith Law: Yep, I read it last July (my review). Very good, but also made me pretty uncomfortable. Only a black author with a confident voice could have written that book.

guren: A few weeks ago, SI ran an article where anonymous “scouts” provided comments for each team. A “scout” said that Eric Hosmer is “MVP caliber, a Triple Crown candidate.” On a scale of 1 to Tim Tebow playing baseball, how ridiculous is that scout’s statement? Also, what is it about Eric Hosmer that causes some scouts to over-rate him?
Keith Law: Although I occasionally quote scouts anonymously, I vet the quotes myself first. That writer did not. Or the scout isn’t real.

guren: Do you happen to know HarperCollins’ break-even point in terms of unit sales of your book? If so, is that something that you can share? I am just curious about the economics of the publishing industry.
Keith Law: I will only share this – the royalty structure in my contract is not linear. The rate for hardcover books is a step function, but it’s a straight line for ebooks.

Cedric: How many names are the Reds truly considering at #2? Anyone beyond Greene or McKay?
Keith Law: Maybe Wright. But I think he’s 3rd in a two-car race, so to speak.

Dana: Has Aaron Hicks finally figured it all out?
Keith Law: I want this to be true. It’s just too small a sample to say, but boy does it look like he’s rewarding my faith in him.

guren: Keith, I have noticed that you always use the phrase “begging the question” correctly (unfortunately you are in the minority), plus you rarely if ever have typos. I would surmise that proper grammar and spelling are important to you. Do you have any grammar or usage pet peeves?
Keith Law: Yeah, although I don’t trot them out in public because it’s mostly just pedantry (and can come off as classism). I’ll give you one, though: “is comprised of.” The word “comprise” means “contains,” in the sense that a group comprises its members (and the members constitute the group).

Andy: Knowing that you think he’s the #1 talent, would you pick Greene #1 if you were the Twins GM? While there’s risk no matter who you pick, a HS RHP with huge velocity has more red flags than other categories.
Keith Law: No, I think a college 1b without another position has more red flags. The history of that profile is god-awful. I’d take Greene.

Henry : Keith, sorry, accidentally posted this on comment box. Have any of your broadcast/journalist colleagues changed their view/reporting as a result of your book?
Keith Law: You’d have to ask them, sorry.

Kevin: Why did Gausman struggle in April? Do some pitchers not like pitching in cold weather or cold weather affects their pitches?
Keith Law: He’s from Colorado. I think he’s pitched in the cold before.

Mike: When do you think Leodys Taveras of Texas plays in the MLB? (Yes I know he is 18)
Keith Law: In 2019.

Nick: Buxton has been putting together some pretty solid ABs lately. It’s a low bar, but how long do you think it takes before he gets his AVG into the .220s and OBP in the .320s?
Keith Law: Aaron Gleeman’s been … um … gleefully tweeted about Buxton’s rise. After the first 50 or so AB, Buxton’s been on fire with more BB and fewer K. I would bet on him keeping it up.

msubin26: what is your take on the Matt Harvey situation now and historically?
Keith Law: No take. I don’t know the truth behind it all, and any take I offer would be like a cream puff right out of the oven: Hot on the outside, totally empty on the inside.

Kyle KS: How difficult was it to resist the urge of putting a picture of yourself holding a bat or leaning on a bat on the cover of your book? Seems like the go-to for baseball books.
Keith Law: HC never suggested that, but I would have gone to court to stop it if they had.

Rob: Do you foresee any of Senzatela, Freeland or Marquez becoming long-term rotation options for the Rockies? Freeland & Senzatela aren’t striking anybody out, so I’m planning on some major regression soon, but could one (or more!) of them stick around for the long haul?
Keith Law: Freeland is most likely for me. Marquez needs a third pitch. Senzatela does too, and lacks the velocity or any sort of swing and miss option to be a starter.

Erich: Showalter seems to be running starters out at pretty high pitch counts, including Bundy. Bundy has started the 7th/8th inning this year a couple of times over 100 pitches. Ubaldo was at 91 going out for the 8th and didn’t get pulled until 115 pitches and 3 runs given up. Gausman started the 6th or 7th last week at over 100 pitches. With the bullpen being their strength, this seems counter intuitive, especially with Bundy in his first healthy season and the data showing his velocity decreasing later in games.
Keith Law: I think his usage of Bundy has been criminal. I know the kid’s results have been good, but he’s showing clear signs of fatigue within starts and he’s compensating for the average (or worse) fastball by throwing a ton of sliders. I know the bullpen is nicked up with Britton out for a while and Brach returning to normal, but this isn’t the solution.

Rob: Other than a couple of gems (Kreator, Gone is Gone, Pallbearer), it’s been a pretty mediocre year for metal. Any records you can recommend that I might have missed?
Keith Law: The Mastodon album, for sure. I liked the new Sepultura album although I know some folks refuse to listen to anything post-Max from them. I need to listen to the whole Memoriam album too – I liked the first song I heard, “Memoriam.”

Dave: I know the long standing best practice is draft what you consider best player available regardless of team needs. However I can’t think of anything else I’d buy using that strict rule. I think stocks might be one but the conventional wisdom for investments is diversification. If marginal difference why not draft what you need?
Keith Law: Because you’re selecting players you won’t use for anywhere from one to five years. Are you that good at forecasting your needs five years out?

Fuzzy Dunlop: Next is a food/coffee question. Im going to be in Atlanta next month to watch my Braves play my best friend’s Mets in a contest of which team can be more dysfunctional. Im vaguely familiar with good places to eat, but what food and coffee places can you recommend?
Keith Law: Spiller Park for coffee (I’ll be there on Tuesday morning!). Food, man, it’s a great town. Empire State South, The Lawrence, Cakes & Ale, the Luminary, Gunshow (I didn’t love it, most people do), Staplehouse (haven’t been), The Optimist (haven’t been). Feels like I’m forgetting a couple of spots too.

Xolo: At what position do you see Royce Lewis ending up?
Keith Law: Centerfield.

Mike: The Mets are planning to continue to use Jose Reyes at third. At what point should they call up Rosario?
Keith Law: Yesterday.

Greg: I just finished reading your book (very enjoyable). I have a question about whether there has been any recent work done on pitch sequencing or the complementarity of certain pitches with one another (i.e. having two pitches with opposite breaks). I hear a fair bit about this during broadcasts, but haven’t ever read anything concrete to back up the intuition.
Keith Law: Thank you. I believe BP wrote something on the subject last year but don’t have the link handy.

Jack: If I recall you considered Brent Graves as good value for A’s 3rd pick in 2014. Up until this year he’s basically been a total bust. Certainly SSS his strikeout to walk ratio has improved drastically. Is it a case of 24 year old pitching in High A ball or have you heard anything to suggest he has a future as a decent major league starter.
Keith Law: I wouldn’t buy into 26 innings for a guy repeating the level; last time I saw him was March 2016.

Jeff: Andrew Toles is now out for the year, but what’s his ultimate ceiling going forward? I see a 4th OF, but many fans think he’s much more than that. Can you please provide a final verdict?
Keith Law: Never thought he was more than that.

Brian: Dave Cameron at Fangraphs had a chat yesterday and commented about Lucas Giolito, “the stuff is down, the results are bad, and he’s been overrated for a while now.” Everyone would agree the results are bad. Is the stuff really down, though? And if so, how down?
Keith Law: The stuff was down for maybe two starts. There’s a lot of 94-95, still, but the delivery isn’t back to where it was through the end of 2015.

Billy: Outside of Faedo, where do you project the rest of the Gators going in the draft?
Keith Law: Guthrie in the second or third, I would say third but college infielders tend to go high. Schwarz to me is undraftable – he has no position and doesn’t hit enough to take as a bad 1b/dh.

Stanyon Turtze: Congrats on the book sales. I’m sorry your joy has to be tempered by the fact that your son is playing for the worst team in baseball. At least he (barely) picked up a save yesterday. You must be so proud! BTW, I think you called him your 6’5 son in a chat last year. ESPN lists him as 6’2. BAD DAD! 🙂
Keith Law: Oh, like THEY would know.

Sam: If Sean Spicer had a sense of humor, he’d go on SNL and play Melissa McCarthy in a spoof of one of her movies or Mike & Molly.
Keith Law: Well, it sounds like he’ll have some free time on his hands soon.

Carlos: How does Gore compare to Allard coming out of high school? Both seems to have similar profiles based on your synopsis. Thanks!!!
Keith Law: Allard had a better CB (but a back injury). Gore I think has a bit more projection.

Rick: Despite no homers in AAA, Tapia is crushing to the tune of a 1.031 OPS. When does he get the call?
Keith Law: He’s in Albuquerque, perhaps the best hitting environment in any full-season league. No homers there is kind of … not good. (And I like Tapia a lot as a prospect. I’m just saying a 1.031 OPS there doesn’t tell us anything.)

mike sixel: No Sam Carlson in your mock, unless I missed it. You don’t think he’s one of the top players, or he’s not tied to any teams?
Keith Law: I ranked him in the top 20. I just don’t think he’s that likely to go in the first. He might be a sandwich/second-round overpay to buy him out of a good college (Florida) commitment, like Joey Wentz or Kevin Gowdy last year.

Gabriel: Hey Klaw! thanks for the mock draft, i read the other day that some scouts think gore is a better prospect than greene.. is this possible?
Keith Law: Is it possible that one scout said that? Sure. But I don’t agree.

JimLindeman15: The Cardinals have ten successful sacrifice bunts, and all ten have dropped their win expectancy.
Keith Law: Maybe they should cut that out. Also, Matheny IBB’d the tying run last night in the 9th inning.

Andrew: Any 70/75/80 tool guys in this year’s draft besides Hunter Greene’s infield arm and Kendall and Thompson probably being 80 runners? I remember you being spot on with AJ Reed having 70-80 raw power as an amateur when most people had him pegged at lower.
Keith Law: Greene’s fastball too. Baz has reached 98, so you might claim it’s a 70 fastball, although I don’t think he’ll pitch there.

Kevin: Who is the first big leaguer from the 2017 draft class? Thanks for your time. Enjoyed your book!
Keith Law: I think McKay could appear this year as a LHS if someone wanted to move him fast.

ritchie vanian: I am currently reading “The Master and Margarita” -thanks for the tip. My wife is waiting for me to finish so she can start it.
Keith Law: You’re welcome. Such a great, imaginative read.

Bryan: Thomas Pannone has a scoreless streak of 51 innings. Is he legit? A future ML starter? Career minor leaguer?
Keith Law: To be clear, he gave up a run, but it was unearned, which I mention because I talk about the worthlessness of the earned/unearned run distinction in Smart Baseball. Also, I don’t think he’s a prospect unless something changed in the last few weeks.

Vin: Looks like Collins can no longer hold Conforto back (hopefully)…what can we expect his end of season numbers to look like?
Keith Law: Don’t doubt Terry’s ability to screw with young players – and to do so with impunity, since it seems like nothing will get him fired. I think Conforto’s a 400 OBP guy with 20+ HR.

George: Is Pavin Smith too high for Oakland at #6?
Keith Law: Smith’s performance this year is unimpeachable. I even ranked him in my top 10. But gah, a college 1b with a single-digit pick?

Jim: I need to open a new bank account, and I wanted to get your advice. Do you have any thoughts on BofA?
Keith Law: Make sure you ask them for their Updog promotion.

Jon: I get San Diego what is trying to do with the Rule 5 picks. But aren’t they doing a disservice to a guy like Luis Torrens, who isn’t going to play the entire year, and then next year is going to get sent down to A ball again. This is a guy who didn’t play much the past few years because of injury. Does his career survive this?
Keith Law: He gets a year of service and major-league pay, which isn’t nothing. But I agree that it can screw up some guys’ careers and I don’t think it’s that likely to work out for the team either.

Mike: Have you heard anything about how Ryan McMahon has looked defensively at 2B at Hartford, and do you think playing 2B significantly affects his path to the majors and/or future value?
Keith Law: It sounds like he’s ultimately going to end up at first.

Bill: Anthony Banda has been pretty wild overall this year, but much better the last couple of starts. Do you think the Miller injury gives him a shot sometime this summer? Chance at a #3 or more back end for you?
Keith Law: Chance at a #3 is about right.

Ryan: Luiz Gohara appears to be a steal for the Braves. Are there any red flags that i’m not aware of that lead to Seattle giving him away for nothing?
Keith Law: Off-field stuff, including issues with drinking.

Adam: Not writing him off or anything, but has some of the sheen worn off of Fernando Tatis Jr as he strikes out at a high rate in Single A? Especially as the similarly aged Vlad Guerrero Jr dominates his level?
Keith Law: Answered above – he’s 18. He’s younger than Conner Uselton. It’s really ridiculous to think he’s lost any “sheen.”

Ken T: I just wanted to say Thank You for Smart Baseball. I’ve been waiting a long time for a book that wasn’t written for stat geeks to help me understand a lot of the sabermetric stats in use by MLB today. It’s also helped me articulate to my friends WHY the stats they still cling to are useless – although I’ve never had trouble arguing why the save should be sbot at sunrise. Any chance you might do a book signing in the Boston area?
Keith Law: If I end up there over the summer, I’ll try to set something up – or if a bookstore asks, I can try to work a trip around their schedule.

Buck: You were weirdly dismissive of Luis Urias last week (“Have you…even seen him walk around?”). He won Hi-A MVP at 18, and is now putting up a .944 OPS as the youngest player in the Texas League. He’s got more walks than strikeouts for his career, and is said to be a soid defensive 2b. What is it that keeps a guy like this off all the prospect lists?
Keith Law: I was dismissive of the question, which was merely scouting the stat line. As for Urias, he’s not an everyday SS and he’s quite small for a regular. And yet I still ranked him in the top 10 for the Padres, who have a top 3 system in all of baseball.

Hugh: Really enjoying the book. It was the first one I’d preordered since The Deathly Hallows. My only complaint was the lack of a strong female character. Please address in the sequel.
Keith Law: My book utterly failed the Bechdel test.

HT from Tokyo: Have you been to Japan to scout players or for vacation? I’m a huge fan of yours and would love to know your reactions and experience in my country!
Keith Law: Never been. My lone trip to Asia was to Taiwan in 2004.

Mattey: I’m sure I won’t be the only Phillies fan asking for your thoughts on Altherr today..
Keith Law: It’s 85 PA and he has a .413 BABIP with power like he’s never shown before at any level. I’m a bit skeptical that he’ll keep this up.

Josh: Outside of one bad start, Dinelson Lamet has been dominant in a hitter-friendly environment. Has the changeup improved enough for him to remain a starter, or is he just relying on the fastball/slider combo still and destined for the pen? Thanks
Keith Law: LHB still killing him.

JR: Do you think you will ever read all the books on you list to the point your only options are basically reading new books and/or re-reading favorites?
Keith Law: Nah, there are way more good books out there than I’ll ever get to.

Jean Lazure: Hi Keith – reading your book, really enjoying it. I just get sad when I go through my old baseball books and see a good many examples of players who didn’t cut it under yesterday’s stats – BA, RBI, etc. – yet mastered the then-unappreciated skill of getting on base through walks, and thus never got a proper and deserved shot at MLB. Any such favourites you can recall?
Keith Law: Roberto Petagine had a little fan club among us online statheads back in the 1990s.

Matt in the Bronx: Keith have you heard anything if the Mets like Brooklyn product Nick storz or Queens product Quentin Holmes? We are very excited around here see if we can get some more hometown guys on the team.
Keith Law: Neither has been very good this year.

Josh: So this Cody Bellinger kid is decent, huh?
Keith Law: I ranked him 6th on my top 100, and actually moved him down after sending my list around to a bunch of scouts/FO guys. He was originally 2nd. Maybe I should have stuck to my guns?

JR: In your opinion, would there be any downside to holding the MLB draft over All Star break? There is literally no other sporting events going on, so it would be a good way to get the draft more attention. Would pushing it back a month be detrimental in any way?
Keith Law: It would hurt short-season leagues, which isn’t nothing but shouldn’t be the primary consideration for MLB. It would mean every player is done playing, though, and could attend the draft.

Sage: Fav player growing up? I’m guessing you were a Don Mattingly guy
Keith Law: Willie Randolph.

Josh: Given the strong start to the season, how long would you wait to move Cal Quantrill up to AA?
Keith Law: Not long. If he’s on a low innings cap, might as well have him throw them somewhere where hitters will challenge him more.

Carl: IIRC Bubba Starling was considered a great pick for the Royals. What went wrong?
Keith Law: Never really hit in pro ball. He had lots of tools but the hit tool was questionable, and his competition in HS was atrocious. They wanted one of the four pitchers taken ahead of him and those guys went 1-2-3-4.

Alex : Who do you think Robert signs with? Think he will have an unofficial deal in place before 20th?
Keith Law: I’ve heard Cardinals, and I’ve heard Astros, but I really don’t have any inside info.

NYTT: Weigel moved up to AAA. What have you heard on him and is he a long-term starter?
Keith Law: Definitely a long-term starter for me.

Chris: Jay Bruce has been solid but when Cespedes returns would you consider trading him so Conforto can play full-time NOT in CF? I would.
Keith Law: I would too. Or benching him. Conforto is one of their top 2 outfield bats; therefore, he must play.

Jon: Keith, I’m thinking of taking a job with the DE Courts system. Having not eaten at Cocina Lolo, should it’s presence play a part in my decision making? Thanks.
Keith Law: Yes, it’s good enough to push you to “yes.”

Josh: Is Calvin Mitchell a possibility at the end of the 1st, or do you see him sliding into the 2nd/3rd because he’s 1B only?
Keith Law: 1B only and hasn’t hit very well this spring, so I think he slides to the second.

Matt: Maikel Franco’s advanced numbers look pretty different this year, especially in terms of patience. I think you’ve liked his hands but not his approach in the past, has that changed at all?
Keith Law: Way too small of a sample to draw any conclusions on his patience changing.

Matt: From what I understand, the Cape Cod league is the premier Summer league for collegiate players. I live near a field that hosts a team playing in the Northwoods League. Is there a steep drop in talent between the two leagues? Am I watching any future big leaguers when I attend these games?
Keith Law: Big drop, yes, but the NWL still produces lots of big leaguers.

NYTT: I’m surprised that the Braves would be in on Kyle Wright. He’s been that good the past couple of months? What is his outlook like if he can be consistent with what he’s shown lately?
Keith Law: He’s been so good he shouldn’t get to their pick. (BTW, I don’t think I said anywhere they’d be on him.)

Danny: Does Sixto Sanchez have more potential than anyone in the Phillies organization? What is that potential?
Keith Law: It’s a 70 fastball with control, but secondary stuff isn’t there now. I know some folks would say a guy with that kind of velocity and a good delivery has a #1 ceiling but I would take less velo and a better breaking ball or changeup.

Chris: Any comment on this Kapler/Francona/Dodgers drama? The fact Francona rejected a $150K settlement has to give one pause.
Keith Law: Again, I know nothing about it, and thus can’t offer an opinion.

MikeM: Can Greg Bird’s struggles at the plate be explained by his bone bruise on his front ankle? I am not an expert on hitting mechanics but that kind of injury would seem to disrupt mechanics and timing.
Keith Law: Or maybe his shoulder isn’t at 100% strength? Either would explain it. I’m fine with them taking it slow with him if they feel like sending him to AAA for a few weeks to rake would help.

Matt : Is there anything different in Serevino’s approach this year to make you think he says in the rotation? His walks are down significantly….just SSS?
Keith Law: Slider has gotten much better and he’s more physical up top than he was. I haven’t seen the delivery except the centerfield view which isn’t great for looking at a guy’s lower half.

JL: Just finished reading your book – very well done! Are you going to hate me since I borrowed a copy from a library instead of buying one?
Keith Law: Nope. I like libraries. I use the one down the street from us quite a bit.

Ridley Kemp: I just finished the book, and as someone who worked in the shallow end of the baseball analysis pool for a few years…man, I wish I had been able to explain what I was trying to do as well as you did. No question to ask, I just wanted to say that yours is the best baseball book I’ve read this century, and the most enjoyable to read.
Keith Law: Wow, thank you so much.

Evan: Do you think that the MLB should allow all draft picks to be traded? If so, how do you think it would change the trade market?
Keith Law: Yes, perhaps with the caveat that a team can only trade up to $X million, or up to Y% of its bonus pool total. It’ll help create more trades and make the draft more interesting too.

Matt : Thoughts on the Comey firing? Really trending to Watergate territory here….
Keith Law: I think you’d have to make a strong argument why this isn’t the same thing as Nixon firing the special prosecutor.

JJ: During the run-up to the Oscars, you were pretty vocal about your distaste for Mel Gibson, for his past anti-Semitic comments. Do you feel the same way about Roman Polanski over his past actions? How do you separate the art from the artist?
Keith Law: I do. I’ve seen the Pianist, before I really knew anything about RP, but that’s it. I won’t watch films by him, Gibson, or Woody Allen. I don’t really feel the loss. And I’m not a professional critic who has to watch any movies s/he doesn’t want to watch.

Andrew Stevenson…: 4th OF or MLB regular?
Keith Law: MLB regular.

JP: Michael Ruhlman speaking at Powells Books on Wednesday. Maybe he can have his store contact call your people to set up an event?
Keith Law: I think my publicist said they’re not big on baseball books. Could be wrong.

Jon: Were you/are you a fan of Faith No More?
Keith Law: Yes, those two big albums, then I thought they fell off fast after Angel Dust.

Sam: By the way, in additional to my needy NY/BOS themed questions I really appreciate how vocal you are about vaccinations as a dad to a 17 month old. You seem to not mind the trolls, I’m just sorry that it’s necessary.
Keith Law: But it is necessary, and I think I have some obligation to use my podium for good purposes.

Dave: Loved your appearance on MLB Now, hopefully there will be more in the future. Any chance that Jeren Kendell moves up into the top ten or has his season this spring been to damaging?
Keith Law: It was really fun to do – Brian & co were great, and the staff behind the scenes couldn’t have been friendlier. As for Kendall, it’s probably too late for that.

Jon: What’s Updog?
Keith Law: Not much, dog, but the chat’s over. Thank you all for all of your questions and your patience with me this week. I will be in Atlanta next Tuesday evening for a signing at the Georgia Center for the Book and Minneapolis on Thursday for a signing at Moon Palace Books. I’ll try to squeeze in a chat next week as well. And, finally, thank you again to everyone who’s bought and read Smart Baseball!

The End of Ownership.

Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz’s book The End of Ownership gives a surprisingly strong argument that our rights as consumers are rapidly being eroded by changes both in the law and in technology, so that we no longer own many things we might believe we do. In the era of digital goods from books and music and movies to software, we are still paying for the same content, but when once we purchased, now we merely “license” – even though most consumers probably aren’t even aware of the change.

For most of the history of commerce, if you bought a good, you got the good, and that was essentially that. If you bought a book, you owned that copy of the book. You were free to do with that copy as you wished, so long as you didn’t make unauthorized copies of it. You could lend it to someone, or you could sell it outright. The owner of the copyright on that book could not stop you from doing any of those things, nor could s/he repossess the book from you for any reason. The same is true of a patented good: if you buy a widget, you can resell the widget, even if the widget itself is covered by a patent. This is known as the “exhaustion principle” or the “first sale doctrine.” (I’m sticking with U.S. domestic laws on intellectual property here; the rules laws on international exhaustion are often less clear.) I own a special green-vinyl edition of A Tribe Called Quest’s single “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo;” I still own that record, but I could lend, sell, or donate it as I please, without the group’s permission, and without affecting ATCQ’s copyright to the underlying work.

In the digital realm, however, this principle has been superseded by licensing agreements – those things you’re given when you download a digital good or install a software update, which you don’t read but you click “Agree” anyway because let’s get on with this already. Those licenses say you don’t own the goods you’re paying for, even though you probably clicked on something that said the word “buy,” which strongly implies a purchase, not a license. Those agreements, known as end-user licensing agreements or EULAs, curtail the consumer’s rights in ways that the consumer may not understand or expect, resulting in an imbalance of information between buyer and seller where the former probably believes he’s acquiring more rights than he actually is, including the rights to make copies of the good for his personal use, and the right to retain the product in perpetuity.

Law professors Perzanowski and Schultz argue that this is a three-pronged problem. One, consumers believe they’re getting something they’re not. Two, companies are unilaterally abrogating rights afforded to consumers by federal and state laws. And three, Congress and federal courts have totally dropped the ball on the entire issue, passing laws that favor content creators at the expense of both consumers and the public good, or issuing contradictory rulings that reduce our rights in ways that consumers don’t understand and that help take away any semblance of ”ownership.”

The authors give copious examples, some of which were truly non-obvious to me. As the so-called “Internet of Things” expands to include more devices that don’t obviously need an internet connection but have one anyway – like the microwave in that Conway twit’s kitchen – then our rights of ownership are also affected. You might own the physical parts of the refrigerator, but you’re only licensing the software on it, so you can’t sell the fridge because you don’t own the whole thing. You may not be able to sell your smartphone for the same reason – the manufacturers can argue that you are only licensing the software on it, which means you own the device but not the entire unit to be able to sell it.

Why is this OK? The authors give the example of a hat that is only licensed to the purchaser, not sold, so the purchaser can’t transfer ownership of the hat via any method to anyone else. Would you buy that hat? Would you even understand the legalese that accompanies it? In another example, the authors pose the hypothetical of “single-use” car tires, which your tire license would prohibit you from repairing once they were damaged or worn out. Consumers have a specific expectation when they purchase something, but when you ‘purchase’ a digital good, those expectations exceed the reality, yet for some reason we accept this loss of purchaser rights in the digital realm without any real pushback.

What about libraries in the digital world? Some publishers, including HarperCollins (mine), have created programs for libraries to buy digital books, but with heavy restrictions on how libraries may lend them out; HarperCollins only allows one ‘copy’ of the book to be on loan at any time, and after a fixed number of borrowings (I think it’s 24), the library’s license to the book must be renewed. The publishers argue that such restrictions are necessary to avoid cannibalizing the market for book sales, and that the restrictions mirror the physical decay of books that are repeatedly handled and borrowed. I can understand the former, but the latter doesn’t hold water for me, since I recently borrowed a book, Martin Flavin’s Pulitzer-winning novel Journey in the Dark, from my local library, and the edition – worn, but intact – dated back to the late 1940s.

The authors do an excellent job of translating thorny legal questions into accessible language, and offer some very specific solutions that Congress could enact to solve many of these problems – and if Congress had ever shown an iota of interest in protecting consumer interests over those of copyright holders, well, I might have some hope. The legislative history of copyright law in the U.S. is essentially all anti-consumer, with copyright terms becoming longer and such laws on digital goods reducing consumer rights even further. The mere concept of copyright was to ensure content creators were sufficiently rewarded so that they’d continue to create – if you can’t make money off your creations, you’ll have to do something else to pay the bills. The concept was not intended to provide such legal protections for two human lifetimes, but that’s about where it stands now, because there are some very big companies out there who depend on long-term copyright protections, and they can spend to ensure that works don’t fall into the public domain when they were originally scheduled to do so. The parade of degradations of consumer rights seem unlikely to cease any time soon, and the end of that path could be the end of ownership.

Next up: Upton Sinclair’s novel Dragon’s Teeth, winner of the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Stick to baseball, 5/6/17.

Smart Baseball is out! Buy it here or at any local bookstore. It’s available in the US and Canada, in print, ebook, and audiobook forms. I have inquired about distribution elsewhere in the world but I can only report that we’re looking into it and nothing is imminent.

My one piece for Insiders this week covered the very limited market for Eric Hosmer this upcoming winter, given his lack of production and how few teams have openings at first or DH. I held a Klawchat, a bit shorter than normal, on Thursday.

I did an interview with the folks behind the Pocket bookmarketing app, and appeared on the public radio program AirTalk, both to talk about Smart Baseball. I also spoke with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on his radio show The Sporting Life.

* Anti-vaxxers have targeted Somali immigrants in Minnesota and caused a measles outbreak there. While I understand that we try not to criminalize speech here, how is this – claiming vaccines cause autism, a bad hypothesis fully debunked by science – any different than shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, causing needless panic and great public harm? (And yes, the Holmes quote is itself problematic, and he started walking it back almost immediately.) And why do we permit Wakefield to operate in the U.S.? We could easily deny him entry; he’s a greater threat to the broader population than suspected Islamic militants.

* George Will dropped two strong columns this past week for the Washington Post. The one you might have seen says the President has “a dangerous disability” and calls him unfit for office. The one you might have missed argues for repealing the mortgage interest tax deduction, which costs the US government about $100 billion annually in foregone revenues. This is an unpopular and controversial proposal; passing it would cause a one-time hit to housing prices and put many people underwater on their loans. But the exemption amounts to a regressive tax, and at the very least we should limit such deductions to primary residences (not second or third houses).

* Will’s column about the President came a few days after the vulgar talking yam was inconsistent and even incoherent after a long day of interviews. Remember when he questioned whether Hillary Clinton would have the stamina to be President? That was fun.

* Dion Walters of the Miami Heat wrote a hilarious and poignant piece for the Players Tribune at the end of April, which I missed because it went up the day Smart Baseball was released.

* NPR wrote about northerners flying the Confederate flag while openly denying that it is a racist symbol that stood for and will always stand for slavery. If one of my neighbors put one up outside his house and refused to remove it, I’d take it down by force. It’s no better than flying a flag with a swastika.

* While driving around southern California this week, I spent a lot of time listening to the indispensable NPR One app, which brought me some great stories and several episodes of a new podcast, The Grift, which I highly recommend. Two stories I liked enough to share: how the autocratic state government in Texas is destroying local government powers, and on the development of the Cosmic Crisp apple in Washington, which might be the next big hit apple with consumers.

* An epidemiologist explains why science is never perfect – that studies nearly always have some sort of flaws or biases, but that those don’t invalidate the results or make the studies worthless (a common claim of deniers like anti-vaxxers).

* How’s this for a bad headline. Something called the “Washington Free Beacon” wrote that a Democratic Congressional candidate in Montana said climate change deniers should kill themselves. What he actually said: “If any those of you that feel like this is not a problem, I challenge you to go into your car in your garage, start your car, and see what happens there.” This is obviously a ham-handed and scientifically weak attempt to point out the effects of burning fossil fuels on our atmosphere. But hey, gotta get dem clicks.

* ThinkProgress’ Lindsay Gibbs weighs in on the myth that ESPN is “liberal” simply because we argue against domestic violence or discrimination.

* Speaking of which, those liberal firebrands at Consumer Reports write that the Affordable Care Act led to a decline in personal bankruptcies.

* Someone in Russia is blinding Putin’s opponents with chemical attacks. It can’t happen here, though, right?

* You’ve probably seen the outrage among scientists that the New York Times hired a climate-change denier, Bret Stephens, in the name of “balance.” Did you also catch their publication of a bogus story on “alternative” medicine? Remember: There is no “alternative” medicine. If it works, it’s medicine. Otherwise, it’s bullshit.

* The passage of the AHCA, with many Congresspersons voting for it against the wishes of their constituents, has led to some direct financial results already:

* The Washington Post explains why that organic milk you bought might not be organic. The USDA’s organic labeling program has been a total failure, one of many examples where that agency has raised costs and wasted taxpayer money with no benefit to consumers. FWIW, I do buy organic milk because I want to support antibiotic-free husbandry, and “organic” is a fair proxy for that, but I don’t think the claimed health benefits of milk from grass-fed cows are proven.

* The James Beard Restaurant/Chef Awards are out! The winners include former Top Chef contestant Sarah Grueneberg, who won Best Chef: Great Lakes; her restaurant, Monteverde, provided one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten when I visited last July.

* This piece exhorting us to stop using public wifi networks makes sense, but is not terribly practical. Mobile data remains expensive and can’t match wifi speeds. The solution would seem to lie in making such networks more secure for most uses – although logging into your bank or credit card accounts on those networks will always be a bad idea.

* A new bill in Hawai’i’s legislature is essentially a sweetheart giveaway of state land rights to private tenants.

* Author/writer/Twitter wit Kelly Oxford discusses coming to terms with her panic disorder in an excerpt from her new book, When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments.

* The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf argues that smugness isn’t a liberal characteristic, but a universal one. People at either extreme can veer into condescension of those with opposing views. Of course, the targets of condescension may have earned such disdain if they’re spouting conspiracy theories or outright falsehoods; treating cranks with respect isn’t going to accomplish anything either.

* If you live in Florida and believe convicted felons who have completed their jail terms should regain their rights to vote – as they would in 40 other states – there is a petition you can sign and group you can join to try to help make that a reality.

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!

Toni Erdmann.

My first book, Smart Baseball, is out now!

The German film Toni Erdmann (amazoniTunes) was critically acclaimed all over Europe and here when it first appeared last year, winning the German equivalent of the Oscar for Best Picture and earning a nomination here for Best Foreign Language Film (which it lost to The Salesman). The 165-minute movie has been widely described as a comedy, but it is anything but. It is a truly unpleasant movie to watch, an extended, pointless exercise in misanthropy and the humiliation of its characters.

Winifred is a divorced and apparently retired German man, probably around 70, who appears to be unable to stop himself from playing juvenile pranks on people, most of which involve the use of a set of false teeth. His daughter, Ines, is an ambitious, hard-working management consultant who is working in Bucharest on a difficult project involving a Romanian oil company. Winifred tries to connect with her for some quality time, showing up in Bucharest unannounced for a weekend, but the effort fails as she prioritizes work over her father. As a result, he decides to play a huge prank, posing as Toni Erdmann, a life coach to the oil company’s CEO, with an utterly ridiculous shaggy wig of black hair and those same false teeth. Every plot description says he’s doing this to spend time near his daughter, but I think he does it because he’s a giant asshole who doesn’t care what damage he does to anyone else as long as he gets a laugh.

I said as long as he gets a laugh, because we don’t. This movie isn’t funny, and I don’t think the script was trying to be funny most of the time. I suppose the brunch scene at the end may have been intended as humor, but it is so unrealistic that it doesn’t even get the cringe comic effect of the excruciatingly awkward. If Toni Erdmann had some charisma – say, as a platitude-spouting new age thinker, or a parody of the consultant who borrows your watch to tell you the time – he could have been hilarious. Instead, he’s just constantly in the way, and the script is totally unable to achieve the comic effect of the bumbler or the walking satire.

It doesn’t help that neither Winifred (outside of Toni) nor Ines is a particularly sympathetic character. We’re almost forced to believe that Winifred misses his daughter, but without any context for their past relationship, it’s hard to imagine why she’d suddenly want to be closer to him when he’s still unapproachable. Ines’ character is written as the woman who has to work twice as hard as the men around her to get the same respect, and has the awful habit of deferring to men in meetings even when they’ve disagreed with her or even undercut her points, but the script gives us nothing to hang on to in support of her character – no evidence of inner strength, or even something to explain her sheer competence, some reason to root for her against the dimwits and chauvinists around her.

(I also felt that the look of Ines, played by Sandra Hüller, didn’t work. Here’s a character who, again, we’re supposed to accept as a strong, hard-working, sharp woman in a male-dominated workplace. Yet she’s almost sickly looking at times – her hair, makeup, even her clothing all work against the character, and Hüller being so pale unfortunately plays into it as well. It was a chance to reveal something more about Ines by exaggerating her physical appearance. Perhaps this is a woman unconcerned with her appearance, but that would contradict a scene near the end where she seems overly concerned with it instead.)

So much of this movie just does not work on screen, in ways it’s hard to fathom would have worked on the page. What begins as an unconvincing sex scene between Ines and the coworker she’s sleeping with turns into an utterly gross non-joke, as if she’s playing a bizarre prank on her partner (who may have had it coming – but I liked almost no one in this movie anyway). Somehow Ines and Winifred end up at a Romanian family’s Easter dinner, where Winifred volunteers Ines to sing a song, which she does, and then runs off, after which the whole event is simply forgotten by all participants. At one point, a few of the characters, including Ines, do lines of coke, which seems completely out of character for her given everything that came before. And the brunch scene … well, without spoiling it, I’ll just say the whole thing was so preposterous I couldn’t buy into any aspect of it.

I tend to think that English-language remakes of foreign films always lose something from the original. But with word coming that there’s an American version of Toni Erdmann in the works starring Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig, I wonder if it could be any worse than the German film; if nothing else, it will at least be shorter, as there’s no way they could expect American audiences to endure nearly three hours of this. And Wiig is truly too funny for the original script. I can only hope they rework it from scratch and see if there’s actually something good to be found in this premise.

Music update, April 2017.

I wrote a book, Smart Baseball. You should buy it.

This month’s playlist has 24 songs, and started out over 30 before I started cutting back; I have usually tried to keep them under 20 songs or under 90 minutes but I reached a point where I didn’t have anything left I felt good about removing. A few songs are here because of who’s singing, but most are here just because they’re good songs (Brent … I need to stop using that line). If the embedded widget below doesn’t work you can access the Spotify playlist here.

Royal Blood – Lights Out. This British duo had my #1 song of 2014 with “Out of the Black,” and this new single from their upcoming sophomore album does not disappoint – it’s heavy, dark, and menacing, just like their biggest hit.

DJ Shadow, Nas – Systematic. Nas sounds as good as ever here on this track from the soundtrack to the HBO series Silicon Valley. I particularly like the part where Nas gives us a recipe, complete with directions on how long to cook the cranberries.

The Afghan Whigs – Demon in Profile. Afghan Whigs’ comeback album in 2014? didn’t do as much for me as their upcoming record In Spades, which I heard early thanks to the band’s publicist. Gregg Dulli still sounds great for 52 (!) and the album brings a strong mix of hard rockers and more midtempo tracks like this one.

Ride – All I Want. Another big comeback, as Ride’s first new album in 21 years, Weather Diaries, comes out on June 16th. I believe this is the third single from the new album and they all sound like classic Ride, who were among the most important bands in the first shoegaze era.

Anteros – Cherry Drop. This London quartet sound straight out of the 1979 London new wave/post-punk scene; you can hear Debbie Harry’s influence in the vocals.

Tigers Jaw – June. This punk-pop act from Scranton has apparently had some drama in the last few years over whether they’d actually broken up. This single from their album spin, due out May 19th, marries sweet, high-register vocals with distorted guitar work that sounds like math-rock acts (such as Polvo) for a power-pop result.

The Night Game – The Outfield. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, or some trick of the mind, but this song reminds me strongly of the band The Outfield, both in the style of music and lead singer’s voice. Anyway, this is a strong pop track with background vocals from Gotye. And I’m not the only one to notice the similarity to the band behind perennial walkup song “Your Love.”

The Aces – Physical. The Aces, an all-girl quartet from Utah who made my top 100 last year with their single “Stuck,” return with their second release, “Physical,” another solid pop song that just doesn’t quite have the same hook as their first track.

Splashh – Closer. This Australian indie-rock act’s second album, Waiting a Lifetime, came out on April 14th, more evidence of that country’s tremendous music scene right now, producing great rock and electronic music. The production has a real shoegaze quality, with the vocals mixed somewhat towards the back (but not incomprehensible like on My Bloody Valentine’s work).

WATERS – Molly Is A Babe. Van Pierzalowski’s main band will release its new album, Something More, on May 19th, with this track the second single and “Stand By You,” which just appeared in the last few days, the third. Good luck getting this song’s whining guitar lick out of your head any time soon.

Panama – Hope For Something. Here’s another Aussie act, one I first found with their single “Always,” which I put at #51 on my 2013 year-end list. “Hope for Something” is more layered, with ornate instrumentation and a slower build to the hook, but it’s still a big one.

Feist – Century (feat. Jarvis Cocker). I have mixed feelings on this song, but Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker makes an appearance, so here you go.

Joseph of Mercury – Find You Inside. This was the first song I’d heard by Joseph of Mercury, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter who debuted in 2015 with the song “Lips.” This song, his second single this year, combines a less-poppy sort of ’80s new wave with brooding baritone vocals, enunciated like Morrissey does. The result feels soulful without any evident R&B influences.

Sundara Karma – She Said. This may not be new to Sirius XM listeners, as Alt Nation has it in heavy rotation because Sundara Karma is on some XM-sponsored tour.

Black Asteroid – Howl (feat. Zola Jesus). I’m not a big Zola Jesus fan – her incredibly pretentious stage name doesn’t help matters – but her voice’s hollow quality and the stark production here perfectly match the sci-fi horror feel of the electronic music.

Foster The People – S.H.C. Foster the People just put out a three-song teaser EP ahead of their third album, which they’re promising for June or July. “S.H.C.” is the most recognizably FTP of the three songs, with a ’70s guitar riff and vague Latin influences in the percussion.

Portugal. The Man – Number One (feat. Richie Havens & Son Little). Their first single from their upcoming album, “Feel It Still,” might be my favorite song of 2017 so far. This song, though … I don’t even know what I think of it and I’ve listened to it at least a half a dozen times. It’s way out there even for P.TM, with samples from the late folk singer Richie Havens’ song “Freedom” and a collaboration from singer Son Little. The new album, Woodstock, is out June 16th, and they have my full attention.

Pond – Paint Me Silver. Spacey psychedelic rock from Australia. Recommended if you like Tame Impala. Recommended even if you think Tame Impala could stand to keep their songs under four minutes.

Sylvan Esso – The Glow. I am truly not a fan of Sylvan Esso, neither their music nor Amelia Meath’s overly precious vocal style, so it says something about this track that I included it anyway. Saying I think it’s the best thing they’ve done doesn’t tell you much, but there’s a great chorus here if you can get past the track’s opening sound of a digital file skipping.

Miami Horror – Sign of the Times. This Aussie trio has a little bit of a Foster the People vibe, mixing electronic and funk, but more decidedly out of the mainstream, especially with the spoken-word section towards the end of the track. Their latest EP, The Shapes, just came out last week.

Sepultura – Iceberg Dances. I understand people have strong feelings on post-Max Sepultura, but their newest album, Machine Messiah, features some progressive and technically impressive fretwork, most notable for me on this instrumental track.

SikTh – Vivid. I’ve read in a few places how important or influential SikTh have been since their 2003 debut album, but I find it hard to believe given how little I’ve come across their music or how infrequently they’ve recorded anything. Their forthcoming The Future in Whose Eyes? will be just their third album in fifteen years. This frenetic track seems to veer in style from progressive death metal to aggro groove metal and back again.

DragonForce – Judgement Day. DragonForce cracks me up, although I don’t know that this is intended to be funny. They’re just such an unrepetant throwback to the earliest days of thrash, where soaring vocals reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson were common, and fantasy and mythology themes were king. If you remember vintage Helloween with Kai Hansen, that gives you some idea of what DragonForce is about, maybe with a few shakes of Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force.

Memoriam – Memoriam. This is some heavy, sludgy, old-school death metal, with the band and song a tribute to a deceased member of the seminal ’90s British death metal band Bolt Thrower.