Music update, January 2018.

My AL Central org reports and top tens went up this morning for Insiders.

January was a huge month for new music, especially the latter half, with new albums and singles coming out in a deluge from about January 19th on. As usual, I’ve pushed the heavier material to the end, although I’m starting the list with one of the most important bands in metal history. If you can’t see the widget you can access the Spotify playlist directly.

Judas Priest – Lightning Strike. Three of the current members of these New Wave of British Heavy Metal stalwarts are age 66 or older; Glenn Tipton, their lead guitarist, turned 70 in October. And this song, from their forthcoming album Firepower (their 18th), absolutely rocks.

Turbowolf, Mike Kerr – Domino. This lead single from Turbowolf’s upcoming album features Royal Blood bassist/vocalist Kerr, with a hard-driving, psychedelic, bass-heavy rhythm line that hooked me on first listen.

Black Space Riders – Another Sort of Homecoming. This song was my introduction to this German stoner-rock act, with a keyboard-driven but still moderately heavy sound that should appeal to fans of QotSA or Kyuss.

The Wombats – Cheetah Tongue. The Wombats really can’t miss with me; this is the third single from Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, their fourth album, due out on February 9th.

INHEAVEN – Sweet Dreams Baby. INHEAVEN’s debut album made my top 10 for 2017, and even though it came out in September, they’ve already produced this new single which is more of the same good stuff.

Public Access T.V. – Lost in the Game. This quartet is from New York but sounds almost comically British in their channeling of ’80s New Wave on this track.

whenyoung – Silverchair. An Irish trio that reminds me tremendously of London-based trio Daughter with their acoustic-punk, ethereal sound on this, their second single after October’s “Actor.”

Belle & Sebastian – Show Me The Sun. The songs from the first two EPs these Scottish icons have released under the How to Solve Our Human Problems moniker have been all over the place in style and tempo; this song would fit more with their 2015 album Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, which had a more electronic, pop-oriented sound that I loved but many longtime B&S fans disliked.

Van William – Cosmic Sign. Van Pierszalowski’s solo debut, Countries, dropped on January 19th, featuring this country-leaning track, “Revolution,” “Fourth of July,” and “The Country.”

Ride – Catch You Dreaming (Shorter). Ride went away for 21 years, came out with a new album last year, and since then have already released two more new singles, this track and “Pulsar,” which will appear on the EP Tomorrow’s Shore, due out 2/16.

Sunflower Bean – Crisis Fest. The New York indie darlings will finally release their second album, Twentytwo in Blue, on March 23rd, featuring this driving, politically-themed track.

Car Seat Headrest – Nervous Young Inhumans (Single Edit). Car Seat Headrest, which is really just Will Toledo’s project, has re-recorded their sixth album, 2011’s Twin Fantasy, in its entirety, with this as the lead single. The new version, retitled Twin Fantasy (Face to Face), drops on the 16th.

Cœur De Pirate – Prémonition. This Quebecois singer-songwriter sings in both French and English, with “Carry On,” from her 2015 album Roses, my favorite song to date from her; this French-language track is a bit less immediate but still has a great poppy hook.

The Crab Apples – Open Your Mind. This Catalonian quartet’s sound reminds me musically of the Cranberries – as does their name, of course – although the vocal style is very different. Their second album, A Drastic Mistake, came out last month.

Hinds – New For You. Another act from Spain, Hinds comprises four women who all look and sound like kids and produce a unique, guileless sound that doesn’t always work – sometimes it sounds amateurish, but sometimes it just hits the right balance of polish and rawness as it does here.

Preoccupations – Espionage. Formerly known as Viet Cong, this Canadian act, born of the ashes of art-rock band Women, will release an album of new material called New Material on March 23rd.

Porches – Goodbye. Aaron Maine’s third album as Porches, called The House, dropped on January 19th; this song starts slowly, but hang with it, as it picks up about a minute in.

Desperate Journalist – It Gets Better. Another band new to me, Desperate Journalist is already working on a five-song EP that will come out on March 30th, barely a year after their second album came out. The sound here reminds me of the edgier, more rock-influenced side of Britpop, similar to acts like Echobelly and Sleeper.

Pond – Fire In The Water. This new song appears as a bonus track on the psych-rockers’ 2017 album Weather; they’re inextricably linked to Tame Impala and a band you’ll probably like if you like Kevin Parker’s work.

Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs. I’m lukewarm on this track, which doesn’t completely come together, but there’s enough here to make me curious about the Baltimore duo’s upcoming album of the same name, due out April 6th.

Radkey – Not Smart. This punk/post-hardcore trio of brothers just got a big boost from Mastercard, who helped fund the video for the single after this one, “Can’t Judge a Book” featuring SZA.

Dream Wife – Hey Heartbreaker. A London-based punk trio with an Icelandic lead singer, Dream Wife’s self-titled debut dropped last month; it’s uneven, but there are some great Sløtface-like punk/pop tracks like this one.

Lady Bird – Spoons. It seems like a great time to launch a band named Lady Bird, even though this group is British – very, very British – and are the first act to appear on Girl Fight Records, the new label founded by the British punk duo Slaves.

Wooden Shjips – Staring At The Sun. This experimental/art-rock band made my top albums of 2013 list with Back to Land; this seven-minute epic offers more of the same spacey, meandering, often mesmerizing music.

of Montreal – Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia. I believe this is actually two songs smushed together, which produces a 7-minute track that is typical of Montreal weirdness.

King Buffalo – Centurion. Stoner/psychedelic rockers from upstate New York, King Buffalo just put out a new EP, Repeater, which leads with this track.

Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe. This stoner/punk act from southern California’s twelfth album, also called Clone of the Universe, comes out on February 9th.

Weedpecker – Molecule. Stoner rockers from Poland with one of the greatest band names ever. It’s also the third seven-minute song on my playlist, and it sounds like a marriage between Sleep and late Opeth.

Cynic – Humanoid. Cynic’s Focus was a seminal record in the subgenre of progressive or technical death metal, but the 1993 album was their only official release until 2008’s Traced in Air. “Humanoid” is their first new track since 2014 and the first since founding drummer Sean Reinert left the band.

Tribulation – The World. These Swedish melodic death metallers have a very specific, classic rock vibe with death growls rather than clean vocals, increasingly eschewing other trappings of death metal like blast beats as they’ve matured. Their latest album, Down Below, feels utterly mainstream for any act that still accepts the death-metal label, with tremendous guitar riffs and lots of nods back to 1970s and 1980s metal pioneers. I’ll need a few more listens but I’m guessing it’ll end the year as one of the top three metal albums of 2018.

The Post.

The Post is about Some Very Important Things, and the writers, Liz Hannah and John Singer, really want you to know that This is All Very Important, and they hope you leave the theater understanding the Importance of all of this Important Stuff. While it has its entertaining moments and two excellent performances, The Post hits you over the head with its heavyhanded delivery so often that I left my seat with a mild concussion.

This is the story of the Pentagon Papers, told from the perspective of Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee, and the reporters on the Washington Post who picked up the story after the New York Times was hit with a federal injunction. The Papers comprised 47 volumes and 7000 pages, the result of a lengthy study undertaken by a task force set up by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in 1967 to evaluate the state of the U.S. war effort in Vietnam. Among other notable findings, the task force concluded that the war was unwinnable, and that the continued effort in southeastern Asia was more about saving American face than fighting communism. One of the men who worked on the papers, Daniel Ellsburg, leaked them to the Times and later to the Post, because he believed the war was unjust and that multiple Administrations had lied to the American people.

This film starts in Vietnam, with a war scene and a scene on a plane where Ellsberg tells McNamara and President Johnson that the war isn’t progressing, after which we’re whisked into the world of the newspaper, where we learn that the Washington Post is about to sell shares to the public for the first time. Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) owns the company in the wake of her husband’s suicide. (Philip Graham did kill himself, but it was in 1963; the film implies that his death was much more recent.) Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), the editor in chief, is less interested in the business than in turning the paper into an important, national voice on the news. When the paper gets scooped by the Times with the publication of the first of the Pentagon Papers, Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk), an assistant editor, tracks down the Times‘ source, gets the Papers, and the film finally kicks into gear in a sequence that lands the group in court and leads to a lot of white men mansplaining to Graham why she shouldn’t do any of this.

Graham was a hero of her time for making a difficult decision that incurred substantial risk to her person, including the loss of her company and possibly her freedom. We tend to take Streep’s acting prowess – and the inevitability of her receiving a Best Actress nomination, which she did for The Post, her 21st Oscar nod – for granted, but she is superb as Graham, a woman who senses the need to be a strong leader, yet faces internal doubts about her ability and external pressure from the old white men who constitute her board and advisors, led by Bradley Whitford at his most annoying (by design). The story of how a woman altered the course of an industry and possibly a country is, by itself, sufficient fodder for an entire film, but The Post seems to downplay it in stages, only to have it surge back to the surface at the end, including in an artificial scene near the end where she exits the courthouse and walks through a gauntlet of admiring women.

Odenkirk is the real revelation in the film, giving Bagdikian the perfect blend of nervous energy and dogged seriousness required for the reporter who breaks the story and almost can’t believe his own good fortune. I’ve seen little of Odenkirk’s work before but primarily knew of him as a comedian; here he seems like a seasoned character actor, completely credible as the determined, world-weary reporter who gets the scoop on gut instinct and some very old-fashioned hard work. I would have given him a Best Supporting Actor nomination over Woody Harrelson, easily, because The Post doesn’t work unless the actor in this role does his job.

Hanks, on the other hand, feels too much like he’s giving us an impersonation of Bradlee than a performance. There’s a clenched-teeth affect to his speech, and the way he’s written, he’s the too-perfect boss for a reporter, valuing the story over all else, without even desultory regard for the legal and financial consequences of losing the lawsuit over publishing the Papers.

The Post entertains, and on some superficial level, it educates, but this was written as an Important film for the masses, one that lays on a thick layer of simple lessons rather than challenging the audience in any way. To compensate for what might seem like the slow pacing of reporting out a story, the film has numerous jarring edits that almost cut characters off mid-sentence, and some of the tonal shifts between the hunt for the Papers and Graham dealing with men who think she’s a silly little woman are just as incongruent. The movie wants you to feel something, and I did – if you want to be proud to be an American, the First Amendment is about as good a reason as you’ll find, and the publication of the Papers and court case that followed were very much about the role of a free press in enforcing accountability of the highest officials in the federal government. Everything is just a bit too pat, too tidy to do that subject or Katherine Graham sufficient justice.

I still have The Darkest Hour to review and then need to see The Phantom Thread, at which point I’ll have all 9 Best Picture nominees and can at least start a discussion of how to rank them.

Klawchat 1/31/18.

My National League org reports and top tens are all up now for Insiders, by division: West, Central, and East.

Keith Law: High on diesel gasoline … it’s Klawchat.

Mike: May have missed it, but haven’t seen your thoughts on Greene/Leone for Grichuk.
Keith Law: Didn’t write it up, too minor, discussed in last week’s chat. Greene is now in the Cardinals’ org report, which went up yesterday. Grichuk has been sunk by OBP problems dating back to when he was drafted.

Troy: Thoughts on what the Brewers have done? Will they add another SP and should they?
Keith Law: I don’t think they’re serious division contenders unless they add a real SP. And I don’t understand making those two big moves without addressing the rotation.

Deke: 15 years down the road, how will we look at the 2017-18 offseason? A blip, a new normal, or an impetus for systemic change?
Keith Law: I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a blip that led to a change in players’ attitudes towards CBA negotiations, after a round where they fought for quality of life improvements and ceded ground on more substantial issues.

Marshall MN: Klaw, last week you gave a pretty quick reply to a question about whether Stephen Gonsalves was considered as a Top 100 prospect. I realize that I am scouting the stat line some (that is all I CAN do afterall), but what did you hear this year as compared to last year when he did make the Top 100? Also…thank you!
Keith Law: Same guy he was a year ago, still doesn’t have the average breaking ball to make him more than a back end starter.

Jon Weisman: How many Padres prospects would be good enough to be in the Giants top 10?
Keith Law: If I combined the two lists, it would start with 7 Padres, then Ramos, then 2 more Padres.

Tom Hendry: I read somewhere that the Orioles consider Cameron Bishop off limits in trades. Has he really catapulted from being selected in the 27th or so round to being a top end prospect in the organization? Do you have thoughts on him?
Keith Law: I haven’t heard that he’s off limits, just that other teams have asked for him.
Keith Law: He’s in the O’s top ten, which will be up tomorrow.

WarBiscuit: Thoughts on the federal prosecution dropping all charges on Senator Menendez? Also thoughts on the Memo release?
Keith Law: I haven’t followed the Menendez case very closely, but I don’t care what party a politician is from – if he’s corrupt, he’s corrupt, get him out of there. As for the “Memo,” nothing the current Republican party surprises me any more.

Mike: With the current baseball economic system, can small market teams successfully stay competitive continually (like the Pirates ‘quick reload’ trades) or is it smarter to fully tank for a few years, take advantage of draft picks and the international system and then really go for it for a few years.
Keith Law: I think it depends on what your goal is. Are you trying to make money, to be competitive, to win a World Series? If the goal is a championship, then you probably need to sell off your older/more expensive major-league players for high-end prospects. You can’t really stock a system strictly through the draft; the Cubs landed Arrieta and Hendricks in dump trades, and the Astros did even more.

Chuck: Any idea why the A’s wanted Buchter? Is it his fly-ball proclivity and Oakland’s big park?
Keith Law: That’s a philosophy the A’s have followed for years.

Dana: Should the Yankees just go with Gleyber and Andujar at 2B/3B or bring in a veteran or two?
Keith Law: I’d definitely let Andujar start the year at 3b, but Gleyber hasn’t hit since June and may need some AAA time before he comes to the majors.

Josh: Looking forward with graduations, Do you see the top 3 after this season being Vlad Jr, Bo, and Tatis Jr?
Keith Law: Give me one guess as to your favorite team.

Robert: Do you think Soroka or Allard will debut with Atlanta this year? Also, who has the higher ceiling in your opinion?
Keith Law: Soroka more likely. Neither is a high-ceiling guy; Allard’s curveball is the best pitcher either guy has.

Dave: Is it too soon to assess how good the top of the draft is this year? If not, what type of player are the Tigers likely to get at 1-1– generational talent/All Star/solid regular/tall righty with a fastball?
Keith Law: There is no generational talent in this class but a lot of players who look like above-average regulars. It’s a good draft.

Zirinsky: Hi Keith. Will you be watching the super bowl and, if so, what will you be cooking?
Keith Law: The Super Bowl may be on the television, but I won’t really be watching it. I just don’t care.

Charlie: If you were the Nats, what prospects would you be willing to give up to get Realmuto? Robles? Soto?
Keith Law: Soto & Kieboom would be a great return for Miami, but I also think that’s fair given Realmuto’s age, cost, and production.

Jared: Going back to your Brewers answer, do you think getting a top of rotation pitcher is realistic for Milwaukee?
Keith Law: Who? Darvish isn’t that. Arrieta isn’t that. Not sure who they could get.

Guest: Have you tried out Gloomhaven, are you a fan of big 4X boardgames like it?
Keith Law: No. That’s not a board game. It’s an RPG in a board game box. Given its length, physical weight (20 lbs!), and cost ($120, I think), that’s just not a board game by my definition.

dan: do you agree with the blue jays prospects being ranked 7th?
Keith Law: I ranked them 17th.

Matt: Manny Machado to shortstop. Big deal?
Keith Law: I think he can still play it, and it certainly helps his value this winter.

Cleveland Kyle: Is Lazarito the next import to go from raw tools to top perspectice ala Robles?
Keith Law: I highly doubt it. He’s not a “raw tools” guy; he’s already in LF because he can’t throw well enough for anywhere else and doesn’t run enough for CF.

DJ: Does Taylor Hearn have enough secondary stuff to make it as a starter if control improves?
Keith Law: Very unlikely.

Rich: #BellLetsTalk. Let’s get the word out, Keith. No one should be ashamed to ask for help!
Keith Law: I’m not participating; that program has lacked oversight in the past, funneling money for a few years to a clinic that tried to talk trans kids out of being transgender. Hard pass.

Big Time Timmy Jim: hey klaw, thanks for all the hard work for the prospect rollout. I’m concerned Jose Siri is just the next Aquino – loud tools but an approach that just wont cut it in upper levels. Are my concerns valid or is Siri better equipped w/ his approach because he can play CF?
Keith Law: No, your concerns are valid. He swings and misses a ton, and he wasn’t young for low-A. He has to improve his approach AND move up two levels this year to be even a consideration for the top 100.

Jim Nantz: Is Brandon Nimmo worth holding onto for the Mets? Lots of trade buzz surrounding him. I think last year you thought of him as more of a 4th OF.
Keith Law: That’s almost certainly all he is. Between knee issues and platoon splits, he doesn’t seem like a starter.

Josh: Odds after this season Tatis Jr is seen unanimously as the superior SS prospect over Gleyber?
Keith Law: Not good, because Gleyber is absolutely a SS, while Tatis still may outgrow the position.

Freddy: If Alex Jackson can’t stick behind the plate, is the bat enough to be an every day corner OF?
Keith Law: Not yet, but the bat already improved a ton since Atlanta acquired him, so perhaps there is more improvement to come.

Don-key-ho-tay: Hey Keith. Can the Reds contend (or at least flirt w/ .5000) with the pitchers they’re throwing out there this year? (Castillo, Bailey, Disco, Romano, Mahle) or does too much have to go right with that group for that to happen?
Keith Law: I don’t believe they can or should. They’re no better than fourth in the division right now. They need to let the kids pitch and see who emerges as a clear starter – you omitted other guys who should be on the roster like Stephenson, Reed, Garrett – so they’re better set up for 2019 and beyond.

Aaron: Hey Keith, thanks for the lengthy write-up today on the Padres. I was surprised at how many more prospects you discussed than even the Braves # 1 system!
Keith Law: Padres have more guys, but a ton were in the AZL or even DSL, so they’re farther away & less valuable right now than some of Atlanta’s guys.

Brian: Why is Yadier Alvarez ranked substantially higher than Touki Toussaint? It seems like the plus stuff is similar, and Touki’s command and control is at least marginally better
Keith Law: Stuff isn’t that similar, Alvarez is more physical, Touki more athletic, neither throws enough strikes. More sentiment from pro scouts that Alvarez starts than Touki, although I bumped Touki up a bit because I believe he’s so athletic he’s going to find enough command to be a starter.

AJ: Hi KLaw. Am I crazy for thinking that a rebuilding team with payroll space (Phil, ChiSox) should be willing to take Ellsbury if they get Frazier and maybe Tate as well? Then flip him (keeping most of the salary) to a team out West (AZ, SF, etc.) For possibly a mid level prospect? Thanks.
Keith Law: I think Ellsbury is toast.

EL: Keen on any of the young guys signed out of the Bahamas? Do that country have a shot at becoming a minor baseball power like the Netherlands?
Keith Law: They’re all coming out of one program, I believe, and several of them are legit prospects – Chisholm and Robinson in particular, both with Arizona.

Tom Hendry: The Orioles are barely present on the international market. If they put in an average effort how many places higher would they be? What kind of a detriment is effectively ignoring that market?
Keith Law: Not sure you can ever have a top 10 system while ignoring the July 2nd market the way they do.

Arnold: What is the reason for the Giants’ poor farm system? Poor scouting? Emphasis on wrong type of player? Trading away their best prospects? Something else?
Keith Law: Lot of trades, rarely picking higher than they did last year (19th), terrible results internationally.

RSO: You have Justus Sheffield higher on your prospect list than most publications. When do you see him becoming a full time member of the Yankees rotation?
Keith Law: By year-end, pending opportunity, of course.

Don-key-ho-tay: A recent piece on pace of play brought some really interesting points (I think Scherzer had some great points) is a 20 second clock really too difficult to implement at highest level? At very least, conditioning minor leaguers to clock might see the pace quicken just based on churn, right?
Keith Law: Pitch clocks are going to increase pitcher injuries because they have less time for muscle recovery between pitches. God forbid we cut the fucking commercial breaks every time a team changes pitchers. We know why games are longer, but MLB keeps addressing non-factors.

RSO: What’s the deal with Blake Rutherford? He seemed like a stud while with the Yankees, and now he’s not being talked about at all.
Keith Law: Look at his year – he hit for no power at all and didn’t even hit for average like he should have. Hard to justify the year he had at age 20.

Derek: Are your prospects rankings based on prospect’s potential ceiling or what you expect from their career going forward
Keith Law: Those are factors as well as a prospect’s probability of having any positive value in the majors.

John: What do you think is holding up the free agent market this year?
Keith Law: It’s turtles all the way down.

NH: Matt Festa of the Mariners organization. What, if anything have you heard on him? Showed a strong propensity to miss bats last year, could he be a quick-rising relief prospect in their upper-minors?
Keith Law: Yes. He’s in their org report, which is … concise.

Patrick: You are obviously not as high on Florial as others. If you were running the Yankees and could make him a headliner for a Fulmer deal, how much more would you be comfortable giving up? Could it be done without Gleyber and Sheffield if Florial were on the table?
Keith Law: If the market thinks Florial is a top 100 prospect – which I’m not sure about, because I talked to a lot of people who saw what I saw, and execs who share my concerns – then he would be someone who could lead a Fulmer deal, maybe with a second top 100 guy thrown in. I do not know what Detroit wants, though.

John: As a Phillies fan, I am not quite sure how to feel right now about the franchise. They have been methodical in their rebuild, but unlike the Astros/Cubs, they dont have a few superstar core pieces to build around. Nola looks good, but has already had arm trouble. Their prospects, while looking like solid regulars, dont seem to have very high 70th percentile outcomes, and they’ve whiffed (it looks like) on a number of high picks in the last 5 years. Are they set to spin their wheels and be average over the next 5 years?
Keith Law: Don’t think it’s that dire; they have money to spend on free agents, and they look like they’ll have the prospect depth to swing a big deal or two. But the whiffs atop the draft are a real concern; they’ve been better with later picks, which is great, but you do have to hit more than half the time when you pick high.

Dutch: You think A.J. Reed could get some ABs as DH? Gattis has been very subpar the past few years.
Keith Law: I would love to see Reed get some of those ABs. Think he’ll swing and miss too much but get on base much more than Gattis does, and Reed has just as much power.

Chris: Hi Keith, I was surprised that Dustin May was ranked outside the top 10 for LAD. Do you see some reliever risk if the changeup doesn’t develop?
Keith Law: Yes, some violence in the delivery too.

Jay: Keith, what is your general opinion of Wagyu beef?
Keith Law: I don’t eat beef any more, but when I did, I didn’t understand paying extra for wagyu when it isn’t really a thing – Kobe beef is something very specific, but Wagyu is more of a marketing term. In theory, it’s better for the cows, the environment, and for the consumer because the meat has a better profile of fats, but you can’t guarantee what you’re getting.

RSO: Will the Yankees regret giving up Mateo, Kaprelian and Fowler for Sonny Gray?
Keith Law: Maybe, although since two were injured at the time, it was hard to argue with it – or with a deal that landed Gray but didn’t give up Torres or Sheffield.

John: Question: if MLB still wants to compensate teams for losing free agents, why not just give them compensation picks between rounds 1 and 2 instead of taking picks away from teams that sign free agents? It seems like that would be the best of both worlds scenario. Players could still sign wherever and get paid, teams would not be punished for signing free agents, and the teams losing players would still collect compensation picks to try and rebuild.
Keith Law: Because the point of compensation picks was never compensation: it’s punishment. MLB wanted to drag down free agent salaries and it worked.

ssimon: Hey Klaw, we know you are higher on Dom Smith than the Mets seem to be. Do you think the team is unfairly holding his 183 MLB PAs or the high-offense Las Vegas environment against him? (It can’t be Terry’s fault anymore.)
Keith Law: Yes, I do. He’s also started slow at several stops before. They shouldn’t act like this is a surprise.

Brian: Question about your observation that the Phillies system has depth but no superstars. With as much depth as they have, isn’t it likely that a few guys dramatically exceed expectations?
Keith Law: I don’t agree with that. It is likely that a few guys dramatically fall short of expectations, but the curve is not symmetrical about the mean.

leprekhan: How would you compare the interest level in the draft and prospects in general to say 5 years ago? Obviously it will vary from fans of different organizations, but overall it feels a bit like there is more interest than ever.
Keith Law: I agree. And I am fortunate that this is so.

Anton Chiguhr: Do you think Dombrowski moves on from JDM & seeks a trade or a Bautista/Cargo type reclamation?
Keith Law: I think Martinez ends up in Boston … but you could flip a coin.

John: I worry that the Brewers are getting a little ahead of themselves this offseason–their 86 win season was built on several out-of-character seasons from their players that aren’t that likely to be repeated. Seems like they’ve locked in to getting the end of Cain’s peak before they’re truly competitive with the Cubs and Cardinals, and then they’ll be stuck with some dead money in 2020-22. Do you agree?
Keith Law: I agree they may be over-estimating their odds of replicating 2017 performances, but I don’t think any of this money will be dead in 2020.

Troy: Luke Weaver a future 1or2 or more likely 4or5?
Keith Law: Way more likely 4 or 5.

Marissa: What are your thoughts on TJ Zeuch in the Blue Jays org?
Keith Law: Back-end starter. Jays report goes up tomorrow.

Dan: Carter Kieboom and E Fedde for Realmuto. Who says no?
Keith Law: Marlins.

jake: are you buying desmond lindsey’s issues being related to his vision (and now fixed)?
Keith Law: I wrote that.

John: You recommended Flavor Bible. Thank you so much! What a great tool! What do you think of their “what to drink with what you’re eating” book?
Keith Law: I’m not a wine drinker, so I haven’t read it.

Marshall MN: Is pitch recognition the key trait that ends up determining if a hitter can make it in the big leagues? Is it a teachable skill in your opinion?
Keith Law: It is a key trait but not the only one. It can improve, but it depends on the individual.

Reid: I always look forward to your work and as a Padres fan, it was great to read detailed info on so many of their prospects. While much of the talent is in the lower levels of the minors do you foresee an issue down the road with not enough room on the 40 man roster when they become Rule 5 eligible around the same time?
Keith Law: That’s possible, but would be an impetus for trades. I also think a few of those teenagers just won’t hit enough in pro ball to be rule 5 bait.

Jay: Assuming health, the likely top 4 starters for Houston are Verlander, Keuchel, Cole, McCullers. Who do you think should get the most starts as the 5th?
Keith Law: Morton would be 4th. McCullers still hasn’t shown he can stay healthy for a full season.

Rick: Do you think Brendan Mckay will try to play both ways in the minors or will the Rays make him pick a position?
Keith Law: I believe he’ll do both this year, and they may reevaluate after that. My #1 concern now for him is fatigue.

Dave: What’s your favorite dish to make using a sous vide device?
Keith Law: Chicken thighs. Whole Foods had 2-pound packages on sale this week, so I bought one (9 thighs), cooked them 4.5 hours at 165 degrees, chilled them, and then seared off a few each night for dinner.

Steve: What are the odds Cole Ragans hits your midseason top 50?
Keith Law: You tell me: does he throw more strikes? The walks are perplexing because he’s not truly wild and he repeats his delivery well.

Michael K : Hi Keith. I’m a big fan of your chat. I’m a lifelong Giants fan. With the #2 pick in the upcoming draft who do you think they should select?
Keith Law: Too soon. I’ll do a draft ranking in a few weeks, but even that will be on the early side, subject to a lot of change. I will say that there seems to be an early consensus that Ethan Hankins, Georgia prep RHP, is the top talent, but no HS RHP has ever gone 1-1.

Ted: Is the Red Sox farm system heading in the right direction after the 2017 draft and IFA signings? The 2 big trades and system grads left it bare, understandably.
Keith Law: Yes, the arrow is pointing up, but a lot of those new players’ values are still based on amateur looks.

Allan: Is a spike in velocity a warning sign for TJS, like in Joe Palumbo’s case.
Keith Law: I have never seen a study that attempted to prove/disprove the thesis, but I believe a sudden velocity spike increases the risk of a ligament tear. Perhaps the arm speeds up and the ligament can’t handle it?

Jared: Do you consider Archer top of rotation? I personally do not, but most Brewer fans do. His stats just don’t match up with his peripherals. Just wanted to get an expert’s opinion.
Keith Law: Potential top of rotation, hasn’t quite had those results.

Tom Hendry: The Astros made a lot of noise by reducing their minor league scouts. Didn’t the Orioles do this back in 2012? How many minor league scouts do they have vs. what is normal? Are few scouts a bad thing?
Keith Law: Not aware of the Orioles having fewer scouts; I think few scouts is a bad thing, yes. There is information you glean from watching players that won’t show up even in advanced data like Trackman provides. The latter is critical too, but why not supplement with in-person observation?

Chris: Do you see major changes ahead in the next CBA, as far as shifting more money toward players’ prime years (24 to 30) instead of teams signing guys to ten-year deals through age 40? It seems as though teams are beginning to realize the error of their ways, but the union’s not just going to give the owners that money.
Keith Law: It’s a few years down the road, but I would imagine players would fight more for earlier free agency next time.

Nate: Will you a preseason draft list or does it carry so little value at the end of the day, it isnt worth producing?
Keith Law: I do every year.
Keith Law: It’ll be up in a few weeks.

Stephen: What makes you higher on Justus Sheffield than most?
Keith Law: Don’t know. Ask Most why he’s so low on Sheffield.

Jeff: Lolo Sanchez and Luplow were absent from your Pirates writeup. Any quick thoughts/explanation on those guys?
Keith Law: Sanchez is on the Pirates’ writeup now; I screwed up and never transferred his blurb from my notes to the file I sent to ESPN. Luplow is an up-and-down guy at bst.

BRIAN: I know Cliff Frazier was not eligible for your prospect rankings – but he is really only a prospect with less than 150 ab last year… IF he was in the rankings — would he be top 50? Top 20? Is he a legit prospect or NY hype?
Keith Law: Would not be top 50. I understand the frustration about guys like him not making prospect lists, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

Nate: I see a lot of other reports on Matt Manning that are much more glowing than yours. What do you see his chances of developing the command and secondary stuff necessary to become more than a big armed bullpen guy?
Keith Law: People wishcast on players all the time; I can’t help that. He’s athletic enough to find the command and secondary stuff, but i can’t help but think he’ll need to scrap the CB for a slider and to get less robotic in his delivery first.

Aaron C.: Since 2002, the A’s have had spurts of MLB success, but it seems their minor league system has needed heavy supplementing from trades to actually bring talent into the pipeline. Why have the A’s struggled so much in the draft over the past 15 years?
Keith Law: I think where they’ve gone astray, it’s usually been on college performers whose tools didn’t/wouldn’t translate. I think they’ve drafted much better the last few years, though, even with Beck struggling in his first summer.

mike: Keith – Brewers question. Yelich was a great pickup, Cain a fair one. Let’s say they ARE in on Yu, and get him. Is a rotation of Yu, Nelson, Davies, Anderson and Chacin (with their above average bullpen) competing for an NL crown? It doesn’t pass the smell test.
Keith Law: I don’t think so.

Scott: Any thoughts on Top Chef this season?
Keith Law: Haven’t watched.

Matthew: Thoughts on Senzel moving forward… quick player comp and how the Reds find him playing time. Or does he stay down until May 2019?
Keith Law: 2019? God I hope not. He’s ready or very close to it.

Mike D: I am nervous about Gabe Kapler, I do not want to see a couple of wasted years and start again. Does he have the managerial skills? Can he move this club forward ( if he gets pitching)?
Keith Law: I’m a big fan and I think he’ll be just what that roster needs, too.

Evan: Nolan Martinez doesn’t get a lot of press in a crowded Yankees system. What’s his upside long term?
Keith Law: Hurt all last year. Back-of-rotation upside if healthy.

Mike: Two OF questions – 1) are you still a believer in Dahl, IF he can stay healthy? 2) what do you make of Verdugo and his chance to be a key member of Dodgers’ OF plans?
Keith Law: I believe Dahl will be an above-average regular if healthy but don’t know if he’ll ever be healthy. That back injury is a bad one. Verdugo was in my top 50, above-average regular if/when he sticks.

ck: Just curious. When do you use a 6 arm for scouting vs 60 arm?
Keith Law: Same thing.

Marshall MN: Klaw which of your annual projects (top free agents, top amateur prospects, top draft prospects) do you most enjoy? Each seems like quite a lot of work, and I thoroughly enjoy reading each of them.
Keith Law: I hate the free agent stuff. The classes have been so bad the last few years that I end up talking about players I don’t think are very good.

Dan: Ellsbury was worth 1.8 WAR last yr
Keith Law: Thanks, Dr. Google. About 80% of that is the value he got for standing in centerfield. If he can’t move enough to truly play that, then he has no value.

Andy: Everyone would love for the Bahamas to become a baseball powerhouse. Talk about a fun place to scout players in.
Keith Law: Amen.

Ryan: saw you’re playing Charterstone. worthwhile with just 2, or would it benefit from a higher player count?
Keith Law: We’re playing with three; four might be nice, just because there would be more interaction. The empty areas on the board will eventually be filled in, though, so you’ll have more options, just less active agency interfering with your plans.

JR: Did you watch SOTU? I elected to get a work out in instead. Zero regrets.
Keith Law: Nope, don’t think I’ve ever actually watched a SOTU. It’s basically a political rally.

mike sixel: Why don’t you eat beef anymore? Any other meat restrictions?
Keith Law: My daughter and I share an inborn error of metabolism that led us to give it up.

Damon: How many years have to pass before we can say that the Padres did not properly capitalize on their 2016 Draft bonanza? Whitely, Bichette, Trammell, all available at for the teams first three picks and they selected none of them
Keith Law: That is pure hindsight.

Harry: Whatever happened to Hak Ju Lee??
Keith Law: Blew out his ankle in triple-A; when he came back, his speed was mostly gone.

Beau: Noticed no write-up on Vladimir Gutierrez: has he fallen off completely, still have potential? What’s he need to do? Thanks.
Keith Law: Back-end at best, likely middle reliever.

Chris: How did Corey Seager fall to the 18th pick in his draft?
Keith Law: Demanded an over slot bonus.

section 34: Klaw, I’m not one of those “stick to baseball” people. I like reading your opinions on other topics, whether or not I agree. But I am curious: on Twitter, you’re all about women’s issues lately. Why?
Keith Law: I’m pretty sure the world is all about women’s issues lately. It’s kind of in the news.

Bill: The write up on Lolo Sanchez in your NL Central guide seemed much more positive than the ranking. Is it just distance from majors keeping him out of the top 10?
Keith Law: Distance from majors and distance from reaching even a reasonable projection.

Craig: Ross Atkins said with the information teams have now, Nate Pearson would have gone 1-1.

Just an exec talking up a first round pick? Or does Pearson have that kind of talent?
Keith Law: Exec talking up a player. There is no chance that would happen, even now.

Dan: Hey Keith, I apologize if this is too personal, but when did you (or have you) had you start talking to your daughter about sex and related topics? I have a six and a three year old; I want to have age-appropriate conversations where I can tell them things in ways that they can understand without feeling overwhelmed or scared. Did you follow any recommended guideline or just use your judgment and answer questions as they came up? Thanks.
Keith Law: We had The Talk when she was 10, because we wanted to do that before she hit puberty and because it was clear she was starting to get hints from TV and from friends at school. It ended with her sitting under the table going “ew, ew, ew,” so I think we did a good job.
Keith Law: That’s all for this week; thank you as always for reading and for your questions. AL org reports begin tomorrow with the East, then Central Friday, West Saturday. And I’ll actually start blogging here again now that the prospect stuff is done. Thanks again!

Stick to baseball, 1/27/18.

My annual prospects package began this week, with about half of it running already and the rest to come next week:

• The top 100 prospects in baseball, split into two parts: numbers 1 through 50 and numbers 51 through 100
• A list of ten guys who just missed the top 100
• My ranking of all 30 farm systems (prior to the Yelich trade)
• My thoughts on the Christian Yelich trade, focusing on the prospects the Marlins got back

I also held a prospect-focused Klawchat on Thursday, answering about 150 questions. The team-by-team org reports will start to run on Monday, beginning with the NL East.

Over at Paste I reviewed Wasteland Express Delivery Service, which made my top ten games of 2017 list but hadn’t gotten the full breakdown.

And now, the links…

Klawchat 1/25/18.

My top 100 prospects rankings have been going up for Insiders this week, with 100 through 51, 50 through 1, and ten who just missed all up as of Thursday afternoon. The farm system rankings go up on Friday, and team by team reports start running on Monday.

Keith Law: You are a witness to the movement. Klawchat.

Frank: Why did Harrison Bader miss your rankings? He’s raked at every level, can run, has pop and can play a good CF. What contributed to his missing out?
Keith Law: Let me start with my annual disclaimer: There are many prospects who didn’t make the top 100 who still project as big-leaguers, or have above-average upside, or who I otherwise like as prospects. Bader is one of them – I think he’s a solid-average regular as a CF, maybe below that in a corner because he doesn’t project to get on base at an average rate or have above-average power.

Bill G: Thanks as always for the top prospect lists. Max Kepler and Nomar Mazara. Is there still upside or what we see is what we get. Thanks!
Keith Law: Still upside on both. I’m in.

Minnie: Virtu Honest Craft or Citizen Public House for an anniversary dinner? We’re more fun than fancy.
Keith Law: CPH is more fun, Virtu has better food but a shorter menu. CPH has a great cocktail menu too. They make my favorite negroni.

Tim: Any Jays pitching prospects worth talking about after Pearson? Also recommend “Samurai Spirit” board game.
Keith Law: All 30 org reports will run next week, one division a day, Monday through Saturday, I believe starting with the NL East. I had Borucki and Pardinho as the next two pitchers in the Jays’ system.

Kevin S.: Re: your Estevan Florial write-up – what are the chances you see him having an Alfonso Soriano-type career, where he has just enough plate recognition that his immense raw skills make him a good player, but is always frustrationg because it feels like he could be a superstar if he laid off a slider in the dirt?
Keith Law: Soriano was a hacker too, but I don’t think Florial is even that advanced in terms of approach, pitch recognition, or overall instincts. Plus Soriano did play the middle infield for a while, not well, but that gave him some extra value. Again, Florial isn’t a bad prospect by any means; he just has a long way to go.

Jon: Finally the top 100+. Thank you. Look forward to it every year. I always ask (as does everyone) for a couple of lower minors breakouts. I have Larry Ernesto as one, and Kristian Robinson. Would you mind adding a couple of your own? Thanks again for the lists.
Keith Law: I do a sleeper prospect for every team, and those will run in the org reports. Robinson > Ernesto, as much as we can say something like that on 16-year-olds.

Johnny: Alec Hansen had a 3.2 BB/9 last year which is not great, obviously. Where do you think it needs to be for you and scouts to believe in his #2 upside?
Keith Law: Think he can succeed with 45 control because he could have two swing and miss pitches. I’m also bullish because the White Sox have done so much to clean him up and get him to this point from where he was at Oklahoma, falling out of the first round completely after being a top 5 possibility to start the spring.

Nick: What’s your definition of a scout? I know you’ve said before that you didn’t consider yourself one.
Keith Law: I am not a scout. A scout is employed by an MLB team to cover an area for the draft (area scouts), to cover the top tier of guys in a region or country for the draft (supervisors and crosscheckers), to cover specific minor leagues or organizations from the majors down to A-ball (pro scouts), to cover the international amateur market (int’l scouts), or to cover a little of everything as needed (special assignment scouts). I am a writer who knows a little about how to scout. That’s very different. Nobody is using my reports to decide whether to acquire a player or how much to pay one.

TC: Did Jesse Winkler’s lack of power production in the minors along with his defensive limitations keep him from top 100 consideration?
Keith Law: He’s not rookie eligible, and thus not eligible for the rankings.

Nate (Seattle): Hey Keith, wondering where Amed Rosario would rank if he was still eligible?
Keith Law: I don’t rank guys who’ve exhausted their eligibility; we have major-league data on these guys that we don’t on most other prospects, making the comparison a bit unfair.

Pirate Boi: You ranked Mitch Keller 18th overall which is great, but the blurb about him being a 4th starter at the moment may have some Pirates fans worried. Where do you think he eventually falls and does Ray Searage’s ability to get the most out of pitchers factor in at all?
Keith Law: Lots of guys are top prospects without being at their ceilings right now; I have all these teenagers atop the list who probably wouldn’t hit much or hit for any power if you put them right in the majors. Keller is a top prospect with a high ceiling, but he has to find a better third pitch to get there.
Keith Law: Also, I say in the intro that all rankings are team agnostic. Keller could be traded tomorrow, so I don’t consider his org at all.

Joe: Triston McKenzie — how likely is it that he adds velocity since he still has so much projection? What does 2 MPH added mean for his ceiling?
Keith Law: His ranking assumes he’ll at least get to 90-94. He could get more than that; he’s projectable, but I don’t think he has a huge frame to end up at 240-250.

Brian: Keith, a random TV question for you. I know you are a big fan of the Wire. I was curious if you watched Treme and what your thoughts were on it. Thanks.
Keith Law: I did not. I watch almost no TV at this point because of time limitations. I read, I play games, I see movies, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of other time.

Tim: Corbin Burnes made the top 25 which was a pleasant surprise. If you were the Brewers, would you get him reps at AA this season and then skip the AAA call up all together?
Keith Law: Yes. I wouldn’t send any pitching prospects to Colorado Springs unless I wanted them to get high.

Mason: What are your thoughts on Kyle Lewis? I predicted he’d fall out of the top 100.
Keith Law: Didn’t appear to be 100% recovered from the knee injury. We’ll check in again in March and see how he’s moving.

DCS Foyle: A humble request for a random book to read. (It can’t be The Eyre Affair, which I loved and am grateful to you for!)
Keith Law: Best book I read in 2017, any genre, was either I Contain Multitudes or Evicted (Pulitzer winner for non-fiction).

twins fan: Could you give us some thoughts on Brusdar Graterol and Akill Badoo?
Keith Law: In the Twins report next week. I believe both are in their top ten (I haven’t written the AL Central yet).

Grant: If you managed the Cardinals, how would you handle playing time at catcher? It doesn’t seem like Molina is too keen on taking more days off, but they have to get Kelly playing time if he is to be the heir apparent behind the plate.
Keith Law: Yes; I understand the desire to keep Molina happy, and Kelly does have to work on getting the ball in the air more, but ideally you’re getting close to a 50/50 split and have Yadi working with Carson on the stuff he’s supposed to do so well, like handling pitchers. You can also make Yadi the late-game replacement when it’s close and Kelly started.

One Klawwy Boi: Which player in the 51-100 range do you give the best chance at being an absolute superstar?
Keith Law: Adell. Also has a fair chance of not panning out, but I think he has the most upside of anyone in the latter half.

Garrett: I was worried I was scouting stat lines when I saw Logan Allen so I was happy to see him make your list. Separately, what do you think of Chris Paddack even though he is hurt currently?
Keith Law: Fourth starter potential if healthy, probably will just get a brief mention in that loaded Padres system’s writeup.

Lucas: How many players on your top 100 have you not seen play in person?
Keith Law: I think 20 or fewer. Don’t think it’s any more than that. I’ll go into spring training with that list in hand to try to check as many off as I can.

Q Ball: Kolby Allard fell out of the top 100 but I was actually very fond of his 2017. He showed 150 innings of health pitching in the same league all year where batters saw him over and over again. And he was only 19 for the majority of the season. What am I missing?
Keith Law: You didn’t see him, I guess. He was working with a 45 fastball much of the year, and he always had durability questions because he’s on the smaller side. He’s a very different guy at 90-93 and touching a little more than at 87-88.

John: How close was Stephen Gonsalves to making the top 100?
Keith Law: Not close.

Marvin: If more teams follow the Astros and fire their scouts will that make it harder for you to get second opinions when compiling future top 100 lists?
Keith Law: I don’t think any teams are rushing to do that any time soon. But I don’t just talk to scouts, either.

Ethan: Should the Brewers give Keon Broxton more time, or trade him for pitching to make room for Brinson?
Keith Law: Trade Broxton, if he even has trade value. He was close to r-level last year.

Kelly: When you contact your Representatives do you call their office or email? I really want to voice my dissent but get anxious when talking on the phone
Keith Law: I call. It might help you to have 2-3 sentences written down and just read them off when you get someone on the phone. They’re used to it. If you’re polite, you’ll already be well above the median for calls they’ve gotten that day.

Patrick: Keith, as someone who cannot see your prospects list (my espn log-in isn’t working), a question rather on past rankings. Do you ever go back and see where you succeeded, where you didn’t, in forecasts? Does this reflection help you going forward?
Keith Law: It’s a constant process. I know where I got guys wrong – where it was on me, and where circumstances (like injury) I couldn’t predict were the cause. But you can’t do this job without keeping your mistakes somewhere in your mind so you don’t repeat them.

Erix: You were quite high on Logan Warmoth going into the draft. Has your opinion changed at all since?
Keith Law: No.

JR: Is Tatis Jr and Urias the best double play combo in the minors?
Keith Law: No, because I don’t think they’ll even play together to start the year.

Andrew: What does it look like when makeup derails a prospect’s career? Does he not work hard enough and perform poorly on the field, or is it off-the-field?
Keith Law: Those can all happen. It can be drugs or drinking; lack of conditioning, even just slacking on basic stuff like the rotator cuff strengthening pitchers do.

Ryan: Is there someone in the Mets system you could see making a big jump this year, like Anthony Kay, Lindsay or Nido? If not them, anyone else you have your eye on?
Keith Law: Kay, Lindsay (who was much better after he could see again), Gimenez, Mauricio, Vientos. I like their system even though it has become shallower due to trades & promotions.

Twinzies: Given the recent Kohl Stewart football rumors, I thought now would be a good time to ask what happened to him? I know he had injuries, but he didn’t seem to perform well when healthy. I’ve also heard about makeup/attitude issues from Twins beat writers and also wanted to know if you can expand on those makeup/attitude issues.
Keith Law: Stuff backed up, arm isn’t as quick as it was in HS. He denied the rumors, BTW. Never, ever heard a bad word about his makeup.

Rick: What do you make of the Amed Rosario and Dom Smith debuts?
Keith Law: Nothing. Tiny samples, first time around the majors. Mike Trout wasn’t very good his first callup either, so reacting one way or the other to any two-month stint would be folly.

Jason: What kept Adonis Medina off the list? Your report last year with him was glowing
Keith Law: It was glowing, and I like him, but he wasn’t really even close because other teams have great A-ball prospects too.

Patrick: Keith, thanks for the time feeding the baseball beast!
Do you have a ranking of music you are looking forward to this year, too?
Keith Law: Nah, I take it as it comes.

Ed: I’m a meat-eater looking to cut back and implement more vegetarian dishes in my diet – any cookbook recommendations for vegetarian dishes? I didn’t see one on your recommended cookbooks list.
Keith Law: I have several veg-focused books on that list, like Plenty and Tender and Broad Fork, that aren’t strictly vegetarian. You will find plenty in there to work with, though. I also recently got Jeremy Fox’s On Vegetables, which has some great ideas, although the recipes are not well written for the home chef.

Richard: Tomorrow will you be releasing the list of players who just missed the just missed the top 100 list?
Keith Law: That went up this morning and the link is right above this chat window.

WarBiscuits: I know you were against Hoffman’s induction, but honestly I’m glad it opens up a spot for the Rolen/A. Jones types who get way too little mention. It’s annoying how Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen, who are considered one of the best defensive players for their position, like Vizquel(by peers, not stats), but both had a much better bat than Vizquel. For me Rolen/Jones should have been prioritized over Vizquel.
Keith Law: Agreed especially on Rolen. Both he and Andruw were clearly better than Vizquel, whose support seems to be entirely from writers who say “you just had to see him play.” (I did. He wasn’t Ozzie, and he wasn’t Andrelton.)

Sonny: Is your issue with the HOF the voting process or the voters?
Keith Law: Some of both, really. The limit should not be 10, players shouldn’t fall off unless they get 0 votes, and writers really need to let go of the bullshit stats that defined so much of the game’s first hundred years. They don’t work, teams don’t so much as look at them, so stop pretending saves and RBIz and pitcher wins mean anything at all.

WDE: Are you considering making a visit to one of the SEC colleges like Auburn, Florida or MSU this spring? It seems like this college baseball season will be fun.
Keith Law: I’ll see the top guys but not sure where. Very unlikely to go to MSU, just because of time/cost to get there when I can see them on the road, like at Vanderbilt … which is in Nashville … which has such great food.

Tim: Was there a guy that you just couldn’t quite put on the 100 yet, that you are afraid may come back to haunt you?
Keith Law: Sure. Florial and Mountcastle were guys I wrestled with a lot. Hill just wasn’t back and healthy enough for me to push him on, even though I’ve always liked him.

Drew: Hey Keith, I love your work and content. Quick question on Chance Adams…It seems to be a consensus that hes not a top 100 prospect, but how would you value his upside and likelihood of reaching his potential?
Keith Law: Fourth/fifth starter ceiling, likely reliever.

David: I would not vote for Hoffman, but given how hard the baseball HOF is to get in, who are we to say he is undeserving?
Keith Law: Someone has to say it.

Jim (Chicago): Thanks for the hard work, Keith. I imagine Luis Robert must be difficult to rank due to his limited time in the US, but I was curious if he moved up or down for you after you spoke to those at the White Sox hitting camp last week? Did you hear any new information on him after that camp?
Keith Law: Extremely difficult, but that hitting camp doesn’t give us any new info. That’s just practice, nothing from which we can glean any useful insight.

Rick C: I understand that the lists are non-sequential, but the inclusion of Allard in the top 50 (#26 IIRC) at midseason and then being totally off the top 100 a few months later really does not make sense to me. How can someone go from being that highly regarded to being off the list entirely in such a short time? And if he’s really not a top 100 prospect now, that to me indicates a flaw in the process of developing the previous list.
Keith Law: The midseason top 50 list is a single file, developed in less than a week, with a sentence or two on each player. The top 100 is a two-month process that runs about 30,000 words that run over two weeks with long capsules on every top 100 guy. This really isn’t hard to understand.

Jeff: Keith, I believe you had LAD’s Mitch White on your mid season top 50, but not in the top 100 just released. Can you explain what caused the drop & what you see as his likely outcome? Thanks as always for the prospect package. Only reason I keep paying for Insider.
Keith Law: He got hurt and wasn’t good in the second half. Lot more on him in the Dodgers’ writeup (which is actually done already … 16 teams written so far).

Carl: As a Tigers fan, with the #1 pick in the draft is there much to get excited about?
Keith Law: Yes. Good draft, deep too, so good for a team with high picks and lots of bonus $.

Larry: Surprised you had Luis Robert in your rankings without having played a game on US soil. Were the reports from the DSL so strong that you couldn’t leave him off?
Keith Law: Plenty of precedent for that. Maitan and Sano made my lists in previous years before they played. I’ve ranked some drafted players who sat out the summer too.

J.P.: Where would Ohtani have ranked on your list, had he been eligible?
Keith Law: This is why he’s not eligible. How do you compare a player with years of NPB data and success to players here who haven’t faced that level of competition?

Henry: What is the Keith Law diagnosis for the frozen MLB market?
Keith Law: I’m thrilled. More time for me to work on the prospects.

Harold: Will Hoffman be the last sub 30 WAR guy to make the HOF?
Keith Law: We can only hope so. If you add Vizquel’s WAR to Hoffman’s, you get less than half of Barry Bonds’.

Timmy: I understand that a few spots in the rankings is virtually meaningless. That said, how do you determine who to rank higher b/t top players at the same position, like Buehler, Whitley, Kopech, for example?
Keith Law: I do a lot of pairwise comparisons to get to the final list, especially at the top. I’m comparing total packages and individual attributes.

JR: Did any team not have at least one player on the Top 100? As a Mets fan, was bummed to only see one guy in Top 100, I know they’ve promoted a bunch of top guys the past couple years, but still disappointing to see they haven’t been able to replenish the farm like other teams (cough, yankees, cough) have.
Keith Law: Mariners and Royals were shut out. Giants had one at 95 and that’s it. Rangers and Marlins each had one as well.
Keith Law: And the Mets have not done well in trades to acquire prospects from other teams, and they haven’t gone over slot in the draft like most teams have to acquire extra high-ceiling guys.

Jake: How surprised would you be if Tatis became a better offensive player than Acuna?
Keith Law: Not surprised, but Acuna stays in the middle of the field and Tatis is maybe 50/50 to move to third or elsewhere.

Robbie: The angels actually have prospects on your top 100 list and I couldn’t be more excited. Have you noticed any development method changes with the organization or did they simply make better picks?
Keith Law: Better picks. No more strip-mining in trades. International signings starting to bubble up to the list too.

Baltimore Joe: You’ve just been named the GM of the Orioles. Name your first five moves.
Keith Law: This is largely about whether the owner wants to compete or rebuild. I think it’s a rebuild situation – trade Machado for everything you can get, trade Britton if/when he’s healthy, hope to pick high for a few years, actually spend something internationally.

Rick: I don’t recall you ever mentioning how much animal agriculture is contributing to global warming. Do you have any thoughts on ways to reduce this problem?
Keith Law: It’s come up many times in my Saturday links posts. Developed societies tend to eat too much protein in general, more than we need, and the idea of the meat-centric meal is probably outdated. Dan Barber’s book The Third Plate looks into this at great length and without preconceived notions.

JP4424: Read Adlers book, it’ll let you know the diary isn’t a joke.
Keith Law: That’s kind of horrifying that anyone can write that pretentiously without a hint of irony or humor.

Greg: You seem to travel quite a bit within the states, but haven’t heard much of your international treks, if any. Do you have a favorite int’l destination? What’s on your bucket list?
Keith Law: I haven’t left North America since my daughter was born except for a family trip to Hawai’i when we lived in Arizona. I am hoping to get to Italy in the next year to see my cousins there, and then maybe do something else while in Europe. Extreme bucket list … Chile, Buenos Aires, Morocco, Tokyo/Kyoto, the Maldives, Botswana, Costa Rica … I could go on …

Sean: Interested to see your writeup on Keller and concerns about fastball command. His low WHIP and walk rates seemed impressive compared to other similarly rated prospects, especially in the high minors. Is this a case of it would be exposed better by major league hitters and isnt as visible in a minor league stat line? Also, do you think his K rates will translate or will he need more development of the changeup to get strikeouts at the major league level? P.S. Thanks for all the great work on the top 100 and beyond…always something to look forward to every winter!
Keith Law: WHIP sucks, don’t use it for evaluating players. Command and control aren’t the same – control is really just throwing strikes and not walking guys, but command is about location, even within the zone (or outside of it, as needed). Because his fastball can be pretty straight, he needs to be more precise when throwing it than a guy with plus life on the pitch might have to be. Velocity does mitigate some command issues but big league hitters can still turn on 100 mph if it’s straight and gets too much of the plate.

Pat: Tigers pitchers- How close were Burrows, Manning & Faedo to the top 100? What would each need to do in 2018 to make the leap on to the list next year?
Keith Law: Burrows the best of those three. Manning just was not good in 2017 – stuff was down, breaking ball still isn’t there, and he had major control issues in the spring and in extended.

Bort: A trade of Manny Machado to the Indians for Danny Salazar + Greg Allen/Tyler Naquin/Yandy Diaz makes too much sense not to happen, right? If the O’s take the OFer as the second piece they could then sign Moustakas, who should do well in that park/league.
Keith Law: That’s a weak return for Baltimore. Also, why would Moustakas do well in that park?

US Citizens : Give me some hope that our country survives the next three years. We survived World War II so I guess we can survive anything.
Keith Law: We will survive, but we will never be the same.

Colin: So no Tyler O’Neill in the Top 110 after a decent 2017… was he close? Concerned about his ability to make contact or just doesnt off much beyond the power?
Keith Law: Not close, and a .321 OBP for a corner OF is not “decent.”

Todd: The Mets’ ridiculous signings of Jay Bruce and A-Gon make it obvious they hate Dominic Smith. Would now be a good time for a team to swoop in and buy low on him or do you share some of the Mets’ concerns?
Keith Law: I don’t even know what their concerns are. I would certainly be trying to acquire him.

Adam Trask: Which was a worse HOF selection, Hoffman or Morris?
Keith Law: I actually think Morris was worse, even though Hoffman had less value and is also clearly unworthy, because Morris’ case was based completely on bullshit revisionism, while Hoffman’s was based on belief in a bad stat.

Joe: Klaw – making my first trip to Phoenix in the spring. Is Pizzeria Blanca somewhere I can just show up and get a table – or possibly wait 30 mins for a table? Just need a general sense of what level of planning should go into my birthday dinner.
Keith Law: Yes, at the Town & Country location off US 51.

Dr. Bob: If you’re not a scout, are you then an analyst, in that you use other people’s data to make ratings and projections?
Keith Law: I’m just a writer. Anything more than that is unnecessary to me.

Dave: Is Mark Appel a non prospect? Reclamation project?
Keith Law: Ended the year on the shelf with a sore shoulder, obviously wasn’t great before that, so I’d say reclamation project but with the clock ticking.

John: Would Jose Siri be somewhere in the next 100?
Keith Law: I guess, but he was 21 in low-A and swings and misses a ton.

Mitchell: What do you expect from Kevin Maitan at this point? Is he looking like a complete bust, or could he still become a great player? Or somewhere in-between?
Keith Law: Only 18 this year. Still plenty of time to turn it around, but he will have to start to work harder on his body and his swing than he did last year.

Dave: last year you had Corey Ray(34), Isan Diaz(41), Trent Grisham(67), and Luis Ortiz(71) for the Brewers. Did the Brewers get more talented players to have these drop from the list or was it case of just a decline in performance that dropped them from the list?
Keith Law: If those guys still belonged, they would still be on the list, regardless of who else the Brewers acquired.

Tom: Bryan Mata seems to be fairly advanced for his age, albeit without overpowering stuff. Do you project him as much more than a mid-rotation pitcher if he fills out his frame?
Keith Law: Not overpowering stuff, but better than Ronny Raudes, their low-A stats guy from last year, so I’m more bullish. And Mata has some projection left. Mid-rotation is within reach.

Carlo: What would Austin Beck need to show you this year to bump him into the top 100?
Keith Law: He has to hit.

Matt: It’s kinda funny how the more unpopular Jeter becomes, the more popular A-Rod becomes. Who said God doesn’t have a sense of humor?
Keith Law: Martin Gore said He had one, just that it was sick.

Arnold: Thoughts on this new OF the Giants have constructed, Pence in LF, Jackson in CF, McCutchen in RF. It strikes me as a lot of age and likely injuries out there.
Keith Law: And possibly a lot more base hits falling in this year.

Nic: Hey Keith, loved the top 100 as always. Just a few questions: why the big difference in opinion between you and the general consensus on prospects like perez(you are on the high side), and adams(you dont even have him top 100)?Is it you saw them on days when they were either really good or bad, you get different reports from different scouts than everyone else, or you value certain abilities higher when compiling a ranking, or something else?Thanks again for the chat, love your work.
Keith Law: No idea about the “consensus.” I talk to scouts, execs, etc. This isn’t just what I saw.

Matt Malone: Do you believe any changes in organizational philosophy will occur in Atlanta after it got hit with sanctions?
Keith Law: Yes. I believe they won’t break the rules.

Nick: Can you see any pitcher make a jump like Whitley did in 2017? Maybe Jesus Luzardo?
Keith Law: I do think Luzardo could fly up the list now that he’s healthy, if he shows that stuff for an extended period.

Tom: Do the D-backs still have the worst farm system this year?
Keith Law: Rankings tomorrow. They are not 30th.

Pat D: I had The Florida Project #3 on my list for the year, but I’m not too surprised it was snubbed, because I’m guessing it wasn’t seen by enough people. How many of the nominees have you seen, and what would you pick?
Keith Law: I’ve seen 7 of 9, needing Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread. Shape of Water would be #1 for me of the 7 I’ve seen, followed by Dunkirk.

Jon: Keith, based on defense only, how would you order the following: Edmonds, Rolen, Vizquel?
Keith Law: Rolen, Edmonds, Vizquel.

Amy: You can also call reps after hours and leave a voicemail!
Keith Law: That works too.

Nick: Justin Dunn obviously had a pretty poor 2017. I’m guessing he should start 2018 back at Hi-A. Are you still bullish on him going forward as a SP prospect?
Keith Law: Stuff was fine, but he was way more raw as a pitcher than anyone seemed to think before the draft. Still 93-95 even on bad days, still athletic, but I think the Mets have a lot of development work to do with him and they haven’t had a guy like him in a while. I’d still take him in a trade in a heartbeat.

Ethan: Can you give us any kind of picture on what has to be your vast amount of notes look like? Spreadsheets, Word Docs, notebooks, how many?
Keith Law: One Word doc per org. One Word doc per scout/source. A spreadsheet to track all the top tens and the 100. And my scouting notebook.

Dr. Bob: You steadfastly refuse to comment on why you rank players differently than on other lists, which is fine. However, has a player ever that you didn’t care for show up on someone else’s list, making you at least go back and review your notes to see if you might have missed something?
Keith Law: Don’t think so, just because I’m running through so many players to get to my 100.

Joe: Keith, I was a bit surprised to see Acevedo get so close to the list. Is the stuff that good even though he is a pure relief prospect?
Keith Law: Stuff and control. Still think he’s a reliever, but he has started with some success throughout the minors.

Scott: Were you a fan of the Brit band “The Fall”?
Keith Law: Not really. Have known about them and heard some of their stuff going back to high school, but Smith’s stuff was always just a bit too weird, too anti-melodic, too non-musical for me. RIP.

Corey: Could Chavis be on track as the Sox 1B in ’20 with Moreland keeping the seat warm until then ?
Keith Law: Yes.

Nick: Mark Vientos had a nice start to his professional baseball career. Where would you start him in 2018 and what position do you see him playing going forward?
Keith Law: Low-A. I think he goes to third. If Gimenez returns to low-A (he’ll be just 19, Vientos 18), then move Vientos to the hot corner when Gimenez is at short.

JJ: Mike Mussina and your former colleague Curt Schilling have always seemed like a tandem in the HOF voting, but Mussina pulled significantly ahead on the ballots this year. It looks like he might actually get in over the next couple of years. Do you think, if he shuts off his internet for a year or two, that Schilling will join him?
Keith Law: I think Curt’s political and other comments have hurt him enough in the voting that he will probably plateau in the 50-60 range while Moose gets in.

Jeff: I know you don’t consider or worry about other rankings when you make your top 100, but what concerns you about Chance Adams, who appears to consistently be among the top 100 prospects on other rankings?
Keith Law: Yeah, that’s a better question for other rankings – why a short RHP without a plus pitch or much fastball plane/life is a top 100 guy.

JD: any oscar disappointments or pleasant surprises for you?
Keith Law: Really disappointed that Florida Project didn’t get a nomination for Best Picture when there was a damn spot open. This was not going to happen, but I would have loved to see Kogonada get a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Columbus.

Bill: I wish the Mets shared your feelings about two-month debuts. Adrian Gonzales? Really? What the fuck?
Keith Law: I guess the Mets felt they really needed a clubhouse lawyer.

JD: 10 HOF votes for Johan Santana, same as Jamie Moyer. Obviously he’s not a HOFer, but did he deserve better, given that he was the best pitcher in baseball for ~5 years?
Keith Law: Yes, he did. And having him off the ballot doesn’t really serve any greater purpose.

Rob: Thanks for the lists as always. Glad to see the Phils fairly well represented. If we could just fast forward til when those pitchers are ready. Do you have a favorite Stephen Starr place in Philadelphia?
Keith Law: Pizzeria Stella. And go spend some time in Reading, Lehigh, Lakewood this year. They’ll all be pretty fun.

john wick: I understand your decision to not rank Ohtani. Would you rather have him or Acuna for the next six years to start a franchise with?
Keith Law: I think you have to take Ohtani because he’s major-league ready – and not ready in the sense of “won’t be bad,” but in the sense of “probably awesome right away.”

Bret: What percentage chance would you give Bo Bichette to stick at shortstop? Is he a plus second baseman if he moves there?
Keith Law: I know he works his ass off but I don’t think he is a shortstop long term. He plays fast and hard, and I don’t think he’ll be consistent enough or have steady enough footwork for short.

Ike: Would candelario have been in the top 100 if he were still eligible?
Keith Law: No. Not enough glove or power.

JD: Reports say Manfred will impose (1) a firm 20-second pitch clock with a one-ball penalty and (2) only one mound visit per pitcher per inning *by anybody*, player or coach. Thoughts?
Keith Law: I oppose 1, I’m fine with 2.

Rick C: So you’re saying we shouldn’t pay much attention to your midseason rankings?
Keith Law: I’m saying you should not place equal weight on the two, or harp on the idea that a player’s ranking changed dramatically between the two. I start every top 100 from scratch, not by writing down the midseason top 50 and moving guys around.

Martin: My wife is 12 weeks pregnant, any book recommendations on parenting etc would be highly appreciated!
Keith Law: Congratulations! Happiest Baby on the Block.

Brett: Does Yordan Alvarez’s move to the OF hurt his prospect stock?
Keith Law: Don’t see why it would hurt his stock, but I can’t imagine he’ll be OK out there either.

Adam: If you’re the Marlins, with that system, how seriously would you consider making “lottery ticket” trades with Yelich and Realmuto? I feel like getting 7-8 high risk/reward prospects for them has potential to be more rewarding than 2-3 guys in the Top 100 right now.
Keith Law: Absolutely. Go big. You may not get this chance again.

Chad: KLaw – Any chance you want to take pity on me re: the top few of your 2018 draft, like I asked on twitter? I dont want to step on content but i need to draaaaaaaaaaaaft lol.
Keith Law: I won’t even think about this until February. I don’t like answering questions when I haven’t done the work to give thoughtful answers.

Joe: Did Blake Rutherford get any consideration?
Keith Law: No. He and Moniak were both far worse than they should have been, different reasons but same outcome.

Anthony : Was Willie Calhoun not considered due to the lack of defensive position? Where do you see his upside and at what position?
Keith Law: Lack of defensive position is kind of a problem, yes. Not a 2b at all. Probably not a good LF. Not many 5’6″ power hitters in today’s game either.

JD: Have the Coppolella ban and the Braves’ other punishments affected the upcoming J2 process?
Keith Law: No, they were in the penalty box anyway for going over their limits in 2016-17.

Richard: You missed my joke. I meant an additional list “the just missed the just missed the top 100”.
Keith Law: My apologies. Sometimes I read too fast.

Josh: Nine movies being nominated for best picture seems a bit much, no?
Keith Law: To me the extra 5 slots are justified by the boost lesser-known films get from such nominations. I’m pretty sure the nomination just got Darkest Hour another week at my local theater. People will go seek out movies that earned nominations, so if there’s a good indie film that was worthy anyway, why not give it that last slot?

Steve: I could be misremembering weren’t you against the O’s stopping Arrieta from throwing across his body but it’s now not a good approach for Harvey?
Keith Law: Pitcher mechanics are not one size fits all. Arrieta had success throwing across his body and never got hurt. Harvey started throwing across his body in pro ball and almost immediately blew out.

Matt: Hawaii isn’t part of N America?
Keith Law: Um … Hawai’i is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2500 miles away from California. It’s on the Pacific Plate, not the North American Plate. Are you new?

Chris: I’m sure this has been asked a bunch but why doesnt dot com run your lists 51-1, etc as titled? i think this came up last year too.
Keith Law: Not my decision.

Eric: Why should Hall of Fame voters care what teams use to judge players? Teams are trying to predict future performance, and Hall of Fame voters are trying to measure past performance.
Keith Law: Teams also measure past performance. They do it a lot better than dingbats who use W SV RBI AVG DERP.

Paul: Has your opinion on whether Royce Lewis can stay at shortstop changed or is it just the Twins who are optimistic about it?
Keith Law: Twins are optimistic. I try to reset judgments on players when they get into pro ball because they get help from new coaches and of course the entire game is different – wood bats, play every day, faster pace, etc.

Dr. Bob: If a pitcher’s job is to get outs, then why are you so dismissive of WHIP? Too broad?
Keith Law: I explain more in Smart Baseball, but in short, pitchers don’t really control hits on balls in play enough for WHIP to be meaningful, and WHIP itself is bad math (measured in batters on top, innings on the bottom). I don’t look at BB/9, but at BB/PA — really (BB-IBB)/(PA-IBB).
Keith Law: Sorry, for a pitcher PA in that denominator would be TBF, and you’d take out SH if it’s included too.

Kevin: How many people asking questions in the queue throw fake names at you. Like, how did Chauncey Gardiner not make the top 100? That guy walks on water.
Keith Law: You reminded me of the fake Coachella poster going around that has band names created by a machine-learning program that took in hundreds of real band names as inputs. It was something else.

Mike: Where would you rank your player evaluation knowledge with someone like Theo or anyone else who is running a team? Is there a high ceiling where some people are really much better than others or is it many ways a skill that doesn’t allow one person to be much better than anyone else who knows what to look for?
Keith Law: I do not put my skills or knowledge up against those who do this for teams. They have more information, they need to base major decisions on their evaluations, and they aren’t trying to entertain anybody.

nelson: Did you see Good Time? Thought it was one of the best movies I saw this year, for what it’s worth.
Keith Law: I did. Pattinson was good, but I hated just about everything else about it:
Keith Law: Score was good, though.

Mark: I’m a big music fan and I can’t name one Fall song. Any recommendations?
Keith Law: Hit the North and Mountain Energy are two of their more accessible singles.

Ben: Keith, enjoying top 100 and having fun diving into Smart (sp!) Baseball. Faintly remembering you favorably comparing Jordan Hicks v Sandy Alcantara this past year. SA made the list, JH didn’t, so just curious – anything change to adjust your opinion on JH, or is it a reflection of SA’s proximity to majors? Thanks again!
Keith Law: Alcantara is closer, little further along as a pitcher, where Hicks has more pure stuff. Hicks has had some little hiccups along the way that Alcantara hasn’t.

Brian: Do you get a Hall vote next year?
Keith Law: I do. I’ll clearly have Bonds, Clemens, Edgar, Moose, Rolen, Schilling, Walker, and Mo, leaving two spots for a decent group of borderline guys, including Halladay, Manny, Sheffield, etc.

Baldy Rob: Is there a decent chance Loaisiga and/or Tate make next year’s list if they continue building on what they showed in the second half of last season?
Keith Law: A chance, yes.

Adam Doctolero: In response to Minnie, I would go with Virtu. I’ve eaten there three times and each time it was the highlight of the trip I was on. Keith is right, the menu is shorter, but for me that’s a good thing. It’s a great vibe with great service and fantastic food and drinks.
Keith Law: Never had a bad meal at either place, really.

JR: Why do you think people have such strong opinions about the HOF? Why not just be happy for the players that get in?
Keith Law: Dunno. People also really seemed to think I would be upset that Hoffman got it. I could not care less about this – having opinions on these matters is my job, and if I can mine humor from it, great.

KS: If Jazz Chisholm stays healthy this season do you expect him to be a candidate for the 2019 top 100 list?
Keith Law: If you asked me last year, I would have predicted he’d make this year’s list. Then he got hurt and had no chance to show any progress. So … I hope so.

Todd: Marcus Stroman is successful, hes short, why cant Chance Adams be?
Keith Law: Yes, all short pitchers are Marcus Stroman. Exactly.
Keith Law: Willie Calhoun is my height. I would suggest you draft him for your fantasy team and not me.

Tom: Do you have any loose rule about how many opinions you want on a player before being comfortable forming a full opinion? Is it different if it is a scout and an exec vs two scouts or just your own eval and nothing else?
Keith Law: Never just me. That’s the one big rule. I think the minimum I need to feel good about a player is three – mine and two others, scouts or execs. After that, more opinions are good (pretty sure I talked to 3 guys who saw Manning and more than 4 on Florial), but there tend to be diminishing returns beyond that.

Joe: Keith, I am moving to the Tampa area for work. Are people allowed to watch GCL games? Not looking for a high level of play, but just a way to kill a few hours here and there.
Keith Law: Yes, usually can just walk in.

Dr. Bob: You once commented that a college player should be in high-A very quickly after signing. Wouldn’t a good high-school signee have advanced that far or farther by age 22? If so, what does that say about how well a player will develop in college vs. how well he will develop at Rookie and low-A?
Keith Law: Depends. Some kids at 18 aren’t physically developed enough to handle the rigors of pro ball, but get there by 21.

Witt Jr.: Where would you rank Witt Jr. and any comps?
Keith Law: He’s 2019 draft. He might as well be a fictional character for me at this point. No, I care more about fictional characters than guys for future drafts.

Rick C: FTR, that was not me that asked if we shouldn’t pay attention to your midseason rankings. Someone took my name, oddly.
Keith Law: That person has gotten progressively nastier, too.

Tom C: Especially because of all the pitching changes in every game, why didn’t Manfred propose “relief pitchers get 2 warm up pitches when they enter the game?
Keith Law: This is one I don’t understand, although of course I’ve never pitched, but can we shift more of the warmup to the bullpen? Require pitchers to be more ready when they come in? My suspicion has long been that we can, but it would cut into commercial time. If you killed mid-inning commercial breaks, games would feel MUCH faster.

qq: Were you surprised by MLBAM/Bob Bowman story?
Keith Law: Nothing and nobody surprises me any more.

Jeff: I know you consider Ohtani a #1 ML SP and don’t buy him as an everyday bat, but would you do anything at all with him as a hitter or just forget it and have him concentrate 100% on pitching?
Keith Law: If he wants to hit, you probably have to find a way to make it work. Plus their current DH might be the worst player in baseball.

Jon: What are your feelings on stumping for or against HOF candidates? Do you think Jonah Keri or Joe Morgan impacted the voting for Raines, Bonds/Clemens?
Keith Law: I’ve always been vocal about whether I would or wouldn’t vote for players – I came out for Raines right away, and wrote about how I thought the all-white electorate was being harder on him than it was on white candidates with similar drug use histories. Whether it affects anything, I don’t know, but I’m not trying to sway voters so much as talk to all of you.

Kevin: Blasphemous Rumors! Nice Pull. Have you played any of the Ticket to Ride Expansion boards? Do you have a favorite?
Keith Law: Europe is great. I have the England and PA boards for the app and haven’t tested them out yet. Also my daughter and I played the France map at PAX Unplugged and it’s very different, I think in a good way.

Brett: If I said Ronald Acuna to your wife, would she have any clue who that was?
Keith Law: I just said it to her, and she said, “Is that like Hakuna Matata? It’s a wonderful phrase.” So that’s a no.

Logan: Thoughts on the Grichuk deal? Thanks, really liked your book.
Keith Law: Grichuk has long been a 4th OF for me, sunk by poor plate discipline, esp recognition of breaking stuff. Greene throws hard, up to 99, trouble repeating, may have to go to the bullpen. Leone is a solid middle reliever when he’s healthy.

Drew: Is Seth Romero’s makeup is main achilles heel or are there other reasons for Nats fans to be skeptical of him?
Keith Law: Not a great delivery either. But you can’t ignore the stuff.

Tom C: It’s funny to me people who complain that players should vote for HoF, MVP, etc because “they played the game”; like it hasn’t been proven 1) they’re just as bad at it as anyone, 2) they have their own personal biases and 3) oh BTW, people will still be mad when the players don’t vote in their own favorite guy.
Keith Law: Aren’t player votes for the All Star Game often worse? Like, they just look at fantasy stats for the current season?

Sparhawk: For a big guy like Joey Wentz his FB velocity seems on the light side. Do you expect he’ll get the FB to mid 90’s consistently?
Keith Law: Velocity is great, but when you have deception and great extension you can do well at solid average. If Allard had that stuff, I’d feel better about him right now than I do.

Jeremy: Where would a healthy Anderson Espinoza rank? Surprised to not see him on there when guys who also missed 2017 due to injury are on the list.
Keith Law: Missed all of 2017, likely to miss most of 2018, never got above A-ball before injury or showed great performance. How many guys who missed 2017 are on the top 100? Reyes, but he was literally in the majors. Kaprielian was a lot more advanced as a pitcher than Espinoza. I think that’s it.

Nick: I don’t drink coffee, but I would like to try to start making/preparing high quality cups of coffee for my wife. Suggestions on where to start?
Keith Law: I’m a pour-over fan myself. I own this $16 Hario V60 dripper and use paper cone filters. And buy good coffee – just find a good local roaster. Tell me in the comments where you live and I’ll see if I know one.

Nic: Help me out?I am so conflicted.I think schilling is 100% a hof’er AND i think he is, and hispersonal views are, disgusting.What do i do?I want to advocate for him but i feel he doesnt derseve it because of his personal life.
Keith Law: HoF should be mostly if not completely about the player, not the person. And the political stuff was largely after his career anyway. I won’t argue against anyone who declines to vote for him, because he’s said some truly awful things, but I would vote for him myself.

Brian in Ahwatukee : Re AJ Puk- you mentioned him as a #2 but also a top LHP. What is the difference? I figure by rarity one a top LHP would be a 1.
Keith Law: He could still be a 1, but I would not say the top LHP in the minors is a future 1 by default. Has to earn it, so to speak, with stuff and command and feel.

Rick C: Sorry to hear that. I still think there’s a flaw in this ranking process, but I’m not going to personally attack you over it.
Keith Law: I’ll put it this way: If I had my druthers, I’d only do the offseason top 100s. I have an extensive process that produces results with which I am comfortable. They’re never perfect, and I could always have done something more, but I know they are well-researched and that I give solid evidence for every ranking decision. Nothing I do in-season can match that. I just don’t have the time when I’m also traveling to games, mixing in amateur stuff with the pro, and writing about major-league topics as they occur.

Kevin: Wow, this KLAW has been long and meaty today……….
Keith Law: I think you all deserved a long chat, since I had only done one in the previous five weeks, and gave you all this content earlier in the week that I know led to lots of questions. And I’m happy to answer them.
Keith Law: Thank you all for reading this week, for showing up here, and for making all of this possible with your support and readership. The org reports will start on Monday, farm rankings tomorrow, and I will try to chat somewhere next week (but perhaps not Thursday, as I have to go to Bristol that day). Twitter’s been a mess of HoF stuff, so if you have questions as we go, my Facebook page is going to be a better place to interact – just leave comments under the articles as I post the links each day. Thanks again!

Stick to baseball, 1/19/18.

I only wrote three things this week that you can see anywhere right now: Two posts for Insiders on the Andrew McCutchen trade and the Gerrit Cole trade; and a review of the movie Call Me By Your Name.

Everything else I wrote will go up next week as part of the top 100 prospects package. The top 100 itself is scheduled to run on Monday and Tuesday – I’m still working on the order – followed by the “just missed” column on Thursday and one page ranking all 30 farm systems on Friday, which means that last writeup will be more concise than last year’s. The org reports will run the week after. If you’re curious, I haven’t written anything besides the top 100 capsules yet. So, yeah, things are just great.

And now, the links…

Call Me By Your Name.

Call Me By Your Name has been consistently lauded since the Toronto film festival in September as one of the best films of 2017, powered by a great lead performance from Timothee Chalamet and a gorgeous setting in northern Italy. It is a very different sort of film from anything to which you might compare it, and while it suffers at the top from languid pacing, the script delivers a powerhouse speech at the end that ties everything together in a way that gives the story its deeper meaning.

Adapted from a 2007 novel by Egyptian/Italian writer André Aciman (who has a brief cameo in the film as a flamboyantly gay friend of the main family), Call Me By Your Name tells the story of a summer romance between two young men, Elio (Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer), when the latter comes to stay at the northern Italian summer house of Elio’s family. Set in 1983, Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg, looking very much like Good Will Hunting-era Robin Williams) is an archaeology professor who invites graduate students to stay with him each summer and help him with filing and other administrative tasks. Elio is dating a beautiful local girl, Marzia (Esther Garrel), but it becomes clear quite early that he’s attracted to Oliver, who seems more interested in chasing local women until Elio implies his feelings to Oliver while the two are running an errand in town. The romance between them blossoms late in the summer, and Oliver in particular seems aware of its ephemeral nature, especially in an era where homosexuality was still decades away from mainstream acceptance. Eventually, Oliver must return home to the United States, and Elio is left to cope with his grief and his new understanding of who he is.

The beginning of the film is … well, it’s romantic and unhurried if you like it, I suppose, but about 20 minutes into the movie, I was seriously questioning my commitment. The pacing is slow to the point of soporific. It isn’t just that so little happens, but that James Ivory’s script takes too much time setting the scene, which director Luca Guadagnino is more than happy to oblige by giving us beautiful shots of the country house, the pools, the river, the unnamed town, and so on. If you clipped the first half of Call Me By Your Name, you could turn it into a very compelling video for the Lombardy board of tourism.

The inflection point for the script comes when Elio hints to Oliver that he’s gay and attracted to his friend, to which Oliver’s immediate response is that they can’t discuss or act on these feelings, which he obviously reciprocates. Then the real story begins, including Elio’s awkward attempts to make Oliver jealous, in a stop-and-start pattern before they finally begin their clandestine affair. (Or what they think is clandestine; Elio’s parents are both highly educated, intelligent people, and there’s never any indication that they’re ignorant of what’s happening.)

Stuhlbarg’s performance for much of the film feels a bit too familiar as he does the socially awkward, highly intelligent professor act, but as the script approaches its end, his character emerges as a more complex, thoughtful, compassionate person than you might have had any reason to expect. The talk he gives to comfort Elio after Oliver has left Italy is beautiful and concise, accentuated by Stuhlbarg’s note-perfect delivery. Chalamet is outstanding as the conflicted, teenaged Elio, the most important and demanding role in the film, but he’s not matched by Hammer, who – in addition to sounding almost exactly like Jon Hamm – never quite fills out the role of Oliver, seeming more dismissive than aloof early in the film, then coming off as patronizing to Elio in moments where they’re supposed to be at their most intimate.

Call Me By Your Name has also received some unwanted and unwarranted attention for the nature of the central romance, which occurs between two men aged 24 and 17. The legal argument, that the age of consent in Italy is 14, never held much water for me, and reading about the film I thought how I might feel if my daughter were 17 and I had a 24-year-old houseguest strike up a romance with her. (Answer: Not great, Bob.) The script answers the question in two ways, however, by making it clear that the relationship is in no way predatory, but also because of the time and place in which the story occurs. Life as a gay man in 1983, even before the scourge of HIV, included few guarantees of happiness, so for Elio and Oliver to fail to seize the day when this one chance for a transcendent romance arrives would be its own tragedy. That point was still unclear to me until Stuhlbarg’s soliloquy, which rounded out the story without sermonizing.

The score features some lovely selections of classical songs for the piano – I particularly loved the use of “Une barque sur l’ocean,” a piece by Maurice Ravel – but the intrusion of the vocals from Sufjan Stevens’ contributions during the film itself was unfortunate, as was the decision to boost the volume of his first song, a reworking of “Futile Devices” from his The Age of Adz. The film makes much better use of one of Stevens’ new songs, “Visions of Gideon,” which plays over the final scene along with the credits and adds to the haunting melancholy of the film’s conclusion. (Also, the Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way,” a favorite of mine from the new wave era, plays a small role in the plot.)

All of the predictions I’ve seen so far have Call Me By Your Name snagging a Best Picture nomination, with nods also for Guadagnino (Best Director), Chalamet (Best Actor), and one of Hammer or Stuhlbarg (Best Supporting Actor). I wouldn’t be surprised to see nominations as well for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography, although perhaps I’m misplacing credit due to the Italian countryside. Garrel isn’t in the film enough to merit a nod for Best Supporting Actress, but I thought she was superb in a limited role. The soundtrack is ineligible for Best Original Score, unfortunately. I have no vote on the Oscars, of course, but Chalamet is the only candidate I’ve listed for whom I might vote … and I haven’t seen Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour.

Stick to baseball, 1/13/18.

No new Insider content this week, as MLB appears to still be asleep and I was working on the top 100 prospects package, which is scheduled to start running on January 22nd. I did hold a Klawchat on Thursday.

My latest board game review for Paste covers Pandemic: Rising Tide, a standalone spinoff of the original Pandemic, this time pitting players against rising waters threatening to flood the Netherlands, so players must build dikes and pumps while trying to complete four hydraulic stations to win the game. We liked it, as it gives a new twist to the now-familiar cooperative mechanics of Matt Leacock’s various games.

Feel free to sign up for my email newsletter, which costs you nothing and totters somewhere between occasional and infrequent. And, of course, thanks to everyone who bought Smart Baseball for themselves or as a Christmas gift, or as a Christmas gift for themselves.

And now, the links…


Andersonville was the nickname given to a Confederate prison in Georgia that held roughly 45,000 Union prisoners in an enclosure that had no shelter from the elements, no supply of clean water, and was designed to hold a fraction of that number. Nearly 13,000 Union soldiers died at Andersonville, mostly of scurvy, diarrhea, dysentery, starvation, and exposure. So of course there’s a monument on the site … dedicated to the prison’s commander.

Mackinlay Kantor spent nearly two decades researching the prison, reading first- and second-hand accounts of life there, before publishing his book Andersonville, which won the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. (I think it’s the second-longest winner, behind The Executioner’s Song.) The novel opens with the construction of the prison, or the animal pen that posed as a prison, and ends at the conclusion of the Civil War, with prisoners freed, slaves emancipated, and Wirz arrested. Kantor’s attention to detail and attempts to accurately portray real people as characters in his book is a marvel, and a great example for anyone looking to write historical fiction around real events and personas. It’s also a slog to read, far too detailed both in the horrors of life in the prison and on the back stories of the fictional Union soldiers Kantor created, to the point where yet another death from scorbutic diarrhea loses its impact on the reader.

Kantor frames the book with the narrative of a local family, the Claffeys, who live very close to the prison, and whose family friend comes to stay with them while working at the prison’s makeshift hospital. The Claffeys are ridiculously idealized white southerners, the mythical kind slave owner who treats the human beings he owned as if they were voluntary employees working for housing and food. It does put Ira Claffey, the father, in direct contrast to the evils of the prison, as does the fact that he has lost three sons to the war and yet does not share the antipathy towards Union soldiers that Wirz and his boss, General John Winder (also a real person), did.

Interspersed with the Claffey story are two threads revolving around the prison itself, one from the perspective of the prisoners themselves, one from the perspective of Wirz, who comes across as somewhat helpless to ameliorate conditions at Andersonville but also has no compassion for the starving, suffering men in his charge. The stories of the prisoners appear to be here to give names and faces to the individuals; humans have an easier time understanding the suffering of one person than the suffering of thousands, so perhaps fleshing out their histories increases the reader’s appreciation of the human tragedy of the prison. Some of these back stories are interesting on their own, but very few have any bearing on the main plot around the prison beyond pointing out the utter pointlessness of war, and the irony that men who survived threats before the war and then avoided death on the battlefield would waste away in a prison or, in one case, die because one of the prison guards got trigger-happy.

The scenes in the prison vary in their potency and ability to stir the reader’s interest, with the subplot, apparently based on real events, of the prisoners policing themselves when a gang called the Raiders start to rule the camp through violence and intimidation. The Regulators, as the good guys called themselves, restored a semblance of order in the chaos of the prison, and the story Kantor crafted around the group coming together and defeating the Raiders is the best subplot in the book for the way he draws the characters themselves and how the Regulators form themselves into a functioning team. (Wikipedia has an article on the Raiders that gives more credit to Wirz in encouraging the Regulators than Kantor does.)

Although books of this length and level of detail still appear today, Andersonville feels dated even if we give him a pass for the portrayal of the slaveowner or the casual racism within the book. It’s bloated with the back stories of the prisoners, and there isn’t a through line to connect those stories, Wirz, and the Claffeys beyond the existence of the prison. The story ends because the war ends. Maybe that was Kantor’s point – that there’s no closure or resolution. Some men survived, many didn’t, and there isn’t a good reason for any of it.

As I mentioned on Instagram yesterday, this completes my reading of all 90 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel/Fiction winners.

Next up: Roger Zelazny’s Hugo-winning novel This Immortal.

Klawchat 1/11/18.

My latest board game review for Paste covers Pandemic: Rising Tide, a standalone spinoff of the original Pandemic, this time pitting players against rising waters threatening to flood the Netherlands, so players must build dikes and pumps while trying to complete four hydraulic stations to win the game.

Keith Law: My mind’s diseased, even my vision is impaired … it must be Klawchat.

RyderGreen: What’s your take these days on Kyle Lewis? are you bullish on his ability to return and be something close to a GUY?
Keith Law: Bearish until we see him on the field for any consistent length of time. He was not 100% at all last summer or fall.

Roger: If you are the Astros, do you trade Tucker and Fisher and Moran for Gerrit Cole, or just wait for Whitley to make his way through the minors?
Keith Law: You could do both; given their depth, Tucker is the only one of those three I think they’d miss. But I wouldn’t give up Whitley at all. He’s in my top 10 overall prospects.

Devin: Do you think Duggar can handle Centerfield at AT&T, or should the Giants sign someone like Jarrod Dyson?
Keith Law: If they don’t want to sign Lorenzo Cain because of the draft pick, which I understand, sort of, then I’d give Duggar a shot. He’s a really good athlete with more than enough speed for center.

Marvin: If the Cubs sign Darvish would you still have Quintana as your #1 starter?
Keith Law: I think that’s more of an academic debate, but yes, I probably would.

Forrest Boy: Hey Keith, are scouts properly adjusting guys like Forrest Whitley and Walker Buehler’s rate stats? Their K and BB rates are tremendous, but they also never go through the order a 3rd time and average around 4 innings pitched, sometimes they have their pitch count capped. Knowing that, I’m sure their stuff plays up when they can go 100% on every pitch. What should be gathered from that when comparing those guys to Keller, McKenzie, and Kopech who are averaging around 5.5 IP or better while still maintaining good K/BB numbers?
Keith Law: Scouts aren’t adjusting the stats; scouts are scouting. I wouldn’t compare those two guys, either – Buehler’s older, coming off TJ, while Whitley is just 19 and being held back strictly for precautionary reasons. I also do not agree that a pitcher can go 100% on every pitch when facing 18 batters, which Whitley did 8 times last year.

Paul (San Francisco): Requesting your considered opinion on the respective ceilings and likelihood of reaching them for Giolito and L.Castillo. Thank you!
Keith Law: Giolito has top of the rotation potential, although given the performance the last two years and the trouble he had throwing his curveball with the major league baseball last year, I’d probably say more of a #2 starter. I’m expecting some regression from Castillo this year given his total lack of a breaking ball.

Jim: When do you plan to start rolling out the Org. Rankings, Top 100 and Team Top 10’s? Thanks!
Keith Law: January 22nd is the current start date for the package; it’ll roll out over two weeks this year, rather than three.

TR: If you are the White Sox, what do you with A Garcia? What could they reasonably expect to get for him? Appears to be a likely regression candidate.
Keith Law: Yes, he is, given his BABIP, and I would certainly shop him … but there are so many free agent corner guys this year that it may be the wrong time.

Josh: What were your favorite books you read in 2017?
Keith Law: In no particular order: The Fifth Season, The Erstwhile, Betaball, The Underground Railroad, Mister Monkey, Blackout/All Clear, The Last Days of Night, Not a Scientist, The Cooperstown Casebook, Everybody Lies, Lab Girl, Wise Children, Smoke, On Immunity, The Chimes, and Hi, Anxiety!

Jim: Is Gohara, Wright, Allard and Pache enough to get Yelich from the Marlins?
Keith Law: Heh. I’d say yeah, that’s more than enough.

Lucas: Besides Greene, do the Reds have any intriguing pitchers in their farm system that should give me hope that they could win the division in 2020? Or do you think they ultimately have to trade/sign an ace? Thanks
Keith Law: I think they can still hope for someone like Robert Stephenson to take that leap, but you are correct that other than Greene, who is still a long way off, they have a bunch of depth starters but nobody likely to post a 5-WAR season or show up on Cy Young ballots. Mahle’s their best upper-level pitching prospect and I think he has a very high probability of being at least an average starter, but almost no chance of being even a soft #1.

Chloe: Hi Keith. Big fan of your work. Do you think the A’s have the necessary high end prospects to warrant the top-5 farm system ranking that some analysts have bestowed on them?
Keith Law: No. I can’t imagine them in the top five.

Moe Mentum: Which phrase best describes Maikel Franco – “breakout candidate,” “change of scenery guy,” or “not as good at baseball as we thought”?
Keith Law: I’m not expecting a breakout, so one of the others. His pitch selection is why I was concerned about him as a prospect, and unfortunately, it hasn’t improved.

Moe Mentum: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Risky Business?
Keith Law: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Risky Business, so FBDO by default.

Nelson: If you were blindfolded and plopped down in the stands of a minor league stadium and given no context, just watching the gameplay would you be able to determine the level?
Keith Law: I doubt it unless I could extrapolate from the players’ apparent ages and sizes.

john wick: I’ve heard positive things about Logan Allen without much detail. What’s his realistic ceiling?
Keith Law: Mid-rotation starter.

Joseph G: Keith, I’ve missed these chats, hope you had a wonderful holiday. Does Luis Urias have an 80 hit tool? I’ve heard some prospect evaluators at least entertaining that grade.
Keith Law: That’s not accurate at all. Anyone tossing that around is more likely trying to get your attention.

Bruce: What are your thoughts on Braden Shipley? He struggled in a few brief call ups last season. Is he a future major league starter?
Keith Law: I would try him in relief in the short term to see if his velocity bounces back at all. His fastball has been down since maybe a year out of college, although his secondary stuff is still intact.

James: I’ve read a few professional prospect evaluators that have Fernando Tatis, Jr and Mackenzie Gore rated similar in their FV, with some placing Gore ahead Tatis, Jr. Is he a top 10 prospect for you? Or is the hype inflated at this point?
Keith Law: This is not the Bad Takes Klawchat. You want the room down the hall.

Dan: Are there any no-go zones in Pandemic: Rising Tide? Or is that just fake news?
Keith Law: (Uncomfortable silence).

Jon : Did you watch the TV Show Homicide: Life on the Streets? Wondering your thoughts compared to The Wire.
Keith Law: Loved it. At the time, I’d never seen anything like it. But Simon’s choice of themes and subjects works better when his dialogue mirrors the way people actually talk.

Robbie: Do you think the angels should splurge for Yu? I don’t think spending huge money on a starting pitcher with an injury history and on the wrong side of 30 is especially smart, but if it helps keep Mike around…
Keith Law: Mike isn’t going anywhere.

Jacos: If Russell or Baez have to be traded who do you trade?
Keith Law: I think Russell has upside remaining while Baez may be topped out, so I’d trade Baez.

Brian: What are your thoughts of Jake Burger? Can he stick at 3B?
Keith Law: Very hard contact but not a 3b.

Mark: You seem to be a fan of Top Chef and baking, but I never see you reference any Great British Bake Off. Are you not a fan of nice even bakes?
Keith Law: Never watched it. Haven’t even watched Top Chef this season.

Baddoo: What grade would you put on Akil Baddoo? Is he a 50 and does he have the chance to be something more? Are we looking at a top 100 prospect possibly?
Keith Law: I don’t put grades like that on prospects; people then focus too much on the single number (the anchoring effect) and not enough on the description. As for top 100, you’ll see in about two weeks.

Chris : How does Jay Bruce deal affect Lorenzo Cain market? What do you think he ends up getting years/$$?
Keith Law: I don’t think the signing of a bad defensive RF with platoon issues affects the market for a good defensive CF without them.

Max: I feel like you addressed this somewhere already (another chat?), but did you decide to take a pass on Top Chef this season due to the John Besh episode? It sounds like they were able to completely remove him, and it’s been a strong season IMO with a really fun group of chefs.
Keith Law: That was one reason – they balked at removing him, then reversed course. Then I heard they let that clown Logan Paul on the show. And given how lukewarm I felt on the last two seasons – Brooke’s victory march, and that guy I can’t even remember who made quite a few sexist comments along the way – I decided to pass.
Keith Law: And the time required for the writeups. Those took forever.

Bryce Harper: How bad is the Bruce deal? The terms seem okay but he doesn’t really fit and it feels like a Wilpons move.
Keith Law: It’s a bad fit and I think it ends up costing Dom Smith playing time. Alderson giving up this fast on Smith seems very un-Sandy-like.

Juan: How much weight do you put into Mateo’s showing at AA Midland and AA Trenton after a lackluster showing in A+? How much, if at all, did he raise his stock? Thanks!
Keith Law: I saw him in Trenton – he looked like a different player, playing harder, making better contact (although I still doubt the power). He gave himself some real value for the Yankees and just the right time.

jay_B: Keith, Buster had Bryant listed as his #4 3B. Curious if you would rank him there as well, or who you’d have in front of him?
Keith Law: I would have ranked him higher.

Dan: Is there a difference between the success Cody Reed (AZ) had in the low minors with average velo, but deception and control (and later struggles at high minors) and Cole Ragans?
Keith Law: Yes, quite a lot of difference.

Seth: Do you think the Rockies decision to give large contracts to their entire bullpen is going to hinder their chances of signing Arenado, Blackmon and/or Lemahieu long term? This seems like a risk considering the volatility of relievers and the ballpark they pitch in.
Keith Law: It might, depending on ownership’s willingness to spend, although I don’t think LeMahieu is someone they need to lock up long term – they can find a 1.5-2.0 win 2b, maybe in their own system.

Brandon: Hi klaw: (a) should the Rockies move Hoffman and/or Tapia; (b) do either/both have material trade value?
Keith Law: Tapia depends a bit on what they plan to do with Blackmon; I would try Hoffman in relief before I shipped him out. He is, however, a poor fit for pitching at altitude.

Cards: What should we make of Delvin Perez at this point?
Keith Law: Very little other than that he’s so young and underdeveloped physically that he still has time to recover.

Jshep12: You buyin’ Bitcoin?
Keith Law: I sold all my bitcoins to buy South Seas stock.

Sal: Brusdar Graterol — Twins think he has four pitches and plan to start him. Is this delaying his is inevitable bullpen career or are their SP beliefs warranted?
Keith Law: I’m not sure why you say that’s what the Twins think. I would continue to start him to see if the breaking ball and changeup continue to improve, as it’s probably an 80 fastball.

Craig: Is Royce Lewis growing on you? Who do you like more between him and Florial?
Keith Law: That’s not close for me. Even if I’m right that Lewis will move off shortstop, he’s a much better hitter than Florial.

JR: The only way the Jay Bruce signing makes sense is if they have some serious concerns about the extent of Conforto’s injury, right? The one spot they are set at is corner OFs, so to use their “limited” resources on a position that is already set makes no sense to me? I realize Conforto won’t be ready on opening day, but I’m sure between Nimmo/journeyman on a 1 year deal, they would’ve been OK in short term.
Keith Law: That could explain it. Or they figure Cespedes is going to miss a chunk of time again. Or they’re done with Smith and Nimmo.

DJoe: Cubs are without a top 100 prospect for the first time in a long time. Being uncharted territory for a cubs fan, is this normal after pieces have been traded for a championship level team, or are they in trouble?
Keith Law: Interesting that you say they’re without a top 100 prospect when I haven’t posted my top 100 (and expect there to be a Cub on it).

Quisenberry’s Sinker: What do Braves do with Surplus of MLB Ready Pitching Prospects once Allard, Soroka are MLB Ready. Do you see them up by July if AAA progress continues?
Keith Law: Someone will get hurt, someone will struggle in AAA … they have tremendous pitching depth, but the odds of them ending up with a surplus for the ML rotation are slim. And even then they could tandem-start two guys to limit innings totals for the season – neither Allard nor Soroka is a huge guy.

Mike: Eric Thames had a couple great months and a couple stinkers last year, and basically no period during which he hit like his overall season numbers. Do you think this year he’ll settle into the middle of that range or toward one of the extremes?
Keith Law: He was awful after April. I think the league figured out fairly quickly how to get him out.

Lyle: Is Eric Filia anything more than an org guy?
Keith Law: Yes. Maybe just an up and down type, but not an org guy.

Joe: Which pospect has the best hit tool in the minors currently? Urias? Hiura?
Keith Law: I think that list has to start with Acuna and Vlad Jr.

Frankelly: I personally think Heliot Ramos is getting way too much hype from his pro debut where people only see the results rather than the underlying struggles and issues. Is he a top 100 guy yet?
Keith Law: I would agree that he’s getting a bit overhyped because his superficial AZL stats were good, and because he’s the #1 prospect in their system.

Matt: I understand the need/want for Yelich in ATL but does it make sense to include more prospects for JT as well? Flowers and Kurt were sold last year and they have some decent prospects in the minors (Cumberland, Jackson, etc.)
Keith Law: I’d understand a prospect trade for Realmuto more than a trade for Yelich. Cumberland looks like a backup, Jackson’s catching wasn’t good in AFL, Herbert hasn’t developed.

addoeh: So A-Rod is now a popular broadcaster and Jeter is an unpopular owner. Wow, things can change quickly.
Keith Law: Life comes at you fast.

Stu J.: There are rumors the Reds will look to move Senzel to 2B (or OF or even SS) and leave Suarez at 3B. What would you do with the IF?
Keith Law: I would leave Senzel at third, because he’s made himself an above-average defender, and build around him. He’s their best prospect, probably a top 10 overall guy, and they should move other players to accommodate him.

ECinDC: Ever read Mason & Dixie by Pynchon? If so, thoughts? Thinking of putting it on the ‘to read’ list
Keith Law: Nope. Loved Inherent Vice, hated Gravity’s Rainbow, didn’t really get Lot 49.

Ed: The lack of dollars being spent on free agents is caused by: A) Teams being smarter / more frugal on what they spend their resources on, B) Teams not committing dollars this off season in preparation for next off season, C) Collusion
Keith Law: First one for sure. I have had agents suggest collusion, but no one has any evidence of that.

Evan White: What to make of this guy? Reports have a 70 on the glove but his bat doesn’t play at 1B. Would you move him to the outfield?
Keith Law: His bat doesn’t play at first?

Brian: How does Gabriel Arias project to you? Will he be the real Padres SS of the future instead of Tatis? Seems to be some buzz around him this offseason during his winter play.
Keith Law: He’s still just 17 and really hasn’t hit anywhere (even in Australia he has just a .310 OBP). I do like Arias’ long-term potential, but it’s entirely potential, and while he can stay at shortstop he’s not the best defender of that whole cluster of Latin American shortstops they have from low-A down.

Dr. Bob: I know you hate the giving of grades to off-season moves, but has any team impressed you with what they’ve done so far?
Keith Law: Not really. Has anyone done enough to warrant it? I feel like no.

HH: Keith, you’ve been one of the better voices speaking out against signing players found guilty of domestic violence. I’m curious where you’d draw the line on employing such people – I wouldn’t want to sign someone like Aroldis Chapman to my team, but I also wouldn’t want to hire him to run my Subway franchise. What happens if everyone felt this way? Economic death penalty, for lack of a better term?
Keith Law: I don’t think that’s really our problem, right? I would rather worry about the victims, who likely need significant financial, medical, and psychiatric assistance, than whether abusers can find jobs.

Brett: Is JP Crawford a better prospect than Scott Kingery at this point, or would you put Kingery about him?
Keith Law: Crawford is their top prospect.

Marshall MN: What do you make of the talk from experts about the so-called inevitability of the Red Sox signing Martinez? It seems odd to me, as there are other ways to address their lack of power without committing to a guy for 7 years.
Keith Law: I get the sense they won’t commit to him for 7 years, but would for 4.

Chris : Marcos Molina a bit of a sleeper this year in Mets system? Would like Mets to put him in bullpen as a multi-inning guy.
Keith Law: Always thought he had to go to the bullpen; his stuff ticked down after TJ, so that seems more inevitable than before.

Tyler: Assuming the Yankees get under the luxury tax this offseason, how aggressive do you think they will be with next years class? Do you think they will absorb the tax penalties to sign 2 mega stars?
Keith Law: They could also try to clear a bad contract or two to sign those 2 stars. That seems like the most likely outcome.

Kevin: What exactly are the Orioles doing? Slow moving for a team with three holes in their rotation.
Keith Law: Likely waiting for the second and third tiers of starters to sign, which means after the first tier signs.

Brett: Assuming a healthier 2018, where do you envision Juan Soto finishing the year? AA?
Keith Law: High-A. Barely played in low-A last year.

Don: I think Andujar will be respectable overall if he is given a fair chance, your opinion?
Keith Law: I do. The rare unheralded Yankees prospect.

Frank: Hey Keith, what are your thoughts on Allard? I’m confused why the industry seems to like him so much. Isn’t he just 88-91? What’s the realistic upside with him?
Keith Law: Some pretty good big league pitchers are “just 88-91,” and he has a knockout curveball.

Stanley: Rumors of a reboot of “The Office” are swirling, with many using the successful return of “Will & Grace” as inspiration. That show kept the same cast, whereas Michael Scott ain’t walking through that door. Do you agree that bringing the show back with supporting players from the first run and other new cast members is likely a mistake?
Keith Law: If they’re not reassembling the cast & the writers from a show’s peak, then a reboot is likely to fail.

Mike: Do you prefer Darvish or Arrietta for the same money/term?
Keith Law: Darvish.

Patty O’Furniture: Thoughts on Johan Camargo?
Keith Law: Utility infielder. Doesn’t have the bat to start.

Steve: Good afternoon Keith, I think I read somewhere you mentioned a family vacation to Aruba…What were your thoughts of the island?
Keith Law: Loved it. The fact that we could walk from our hotel into a little commercial area with shops, restaurants, and of course a Starbucks made it better and less costly (because we weren’t captives of hotel food).

Mark: You’ve said Johan Santana comes up short for you. Santana’s 2003-2010 peak of 1670 IP and 67 ERA- is pretty close to Koufax’s 1961-66 peak of 1632 IP and 63 ERA-. Koufax did more outside that, but was ultimately only a league average pitcher in his first six years. Is that really the difference between going in and not?
Keith Law: Yes. And Koufax is a bit of a special case, too; he doesn’t have a typical Hall career.

Jesus: Do people ever spam you with the same question in hopes that you’ll answer it? What do you do with those people/questions?
Keith Law: Yes. I usually ignore it; that’s not necessary for readers in this chat software and just makes my job harder.

Jake: Since you’re giving out spoilers (i.e., Whitley), is Tatis a top 10 guy?
Keith Law: That wasn’t a spoiler on Whitley – I’ve said it before – and I said in August Tatis was a top 10 prospect.

Paul: Is Ohtani eligible for your lists?
Keith Law: No. I exclude players with NPB and KBO experience; those are major leagues, regardless of MLB’s interest in holding down their salaries. However, if I have an AL ROY vote this year, I would absolutely consider Ohtani, since he’s eligible.

Mike: What’s your opinion on how cold the off season has been? Are teams avoiding long-term deals to not be handicapped by the next free agent season? Should Bob Mueller investigate if there is collusion among the teams?
Keith Law: I feel like he has bigger fish to fry. An orange huffy, specifically.

Dr. Bob: Some love to rail against “tanking” in the style of what Houston and Chicago did. I think this is mislabeled. Neither organization tried to purposely lose a bunch of games to get a top pick. Rather they traded big contract guys who were not going to help the team win to get assets. Maybe they lost 105 games instead of 95 because of that strategy, but it was sound. They should be more concerned about what Miami is doing–unloading good players to make more money.
Keith Law: Agreed. Houston and the Cubs had a strategy to improve in the long term by avoiding that 70-80 win purgatory, trading players who wouldn’t be there 4-5 years down the road for longer-term assets, then filling the gap with short-term signs and/or fringe guys from their own system to sort those players out and possibly flipping some of those guys for prospects too. Dallas Keuchel wasn’t a top prospect, and the kind of pitcher he is now is not reflective of what he was in the minors, but because the Astros were bad, they gave him a shot in the major-league rotation. Maybe he doesn’t get that chance if they’re trying to win a few extra meaningless games in 2014.

Chris: I’m a little weirded out by all the Oprah and The Rock for President stuff. Don’t we need to go back to someone who is actually, you know, qualified for the job?
Keith Law: Yes. And I was surprised how many people took my “Oprah/Portman 2020” joke seriously.

Dan: You were super high on Addison Russell when he was a prospect, why do you think he hasn’t “broken” out yet?
Keith Law: Some is pitch selection, some is the nagging shoulder injury that bothered him most of 2017.

Dr. Bob: What hasn’t Cain been signed yet. Surely there are more than a few teams who could use a guy who could potentially give you a few 5 WAR seasons, even if he is 31.
Keith Law: I think the draft pick is a big impediment; teams are more reluctant than ever to give up a top pick because it wrecks your bonus pool.

Harry: You mention Giolito’s issues “with the major league baseball” is that specifically last year’s juiced ball, or the MLB ball in general as compared to the minors?
Keith Law: The major league and minor league baseballs are different.

Alex: What is your approach for reading a cookbook like The Food Lab? Cover to cover, or reference page/topics as needed?
Keith Law: I look for recipes that interest me and try them. Cookbooks aren’t written to be read cover to cover, and a book of that length and scope is going to include stuff that doesn’t interest or apply to you.

Chris: Thoughts on the band Local Natives? I’ve never seen you mention one of their songs of albums.
Keith Law: Not a huge fan although “Happy Feet” made my top 100 a few years ago.

Brett: Is this as good as Taijuan Walker and Danny Salazar are going to be? Or do you think either will improve?
Keith Law: Both have untapped potential, Salazar needs to get healthy, Walker may just forever be inconsistent.

tvators: Don’t think it makes some sense for Mets to have plan B for injury to Smith or 2 month flop/return trip to AAA rather than just full time Flores/scrap heap Loney type??
Keith Law: A plan B doesn’t cost you 3 years and $39 million. And Smith has hit everywhere in the minors after slow starts at most levels. Assuming his 2017 major-league line – coming from Vegas to the majors – is predictive but his minor league performance isn’t is foolish.

Chris : Thought the Padres return for Solarte was a little light. Thoughts?
Keith Law: Disagree.

TR: As you look at draftees, what do you expect in terms of progress for a first round pick over the first 1-3 years? Pitcher vs position player? HS draftee vs college?
Keith Law: A college player in the first round should be able to start his first full year in high-A, and I’d expect a promotion to double-A before the year ends. A high school player in the first round might be ready for full-season ball, but I don’t assume that such a player who stays in extended and goes to an advanced short-season team is a bust; some high school players need more time, or aren’t ready for the Midwest League.

Larry: Does Alec Hansen profile as a starter for you? He was old for his leagues last year and I was told he loses his release point. He won’t get away with that against more advanced competition.
Keith Law: He does, and I don’t worry about age relative to level much for pitchers, especially not with his kind of stuff.

JJ: Your ESPN colleague Bradford Doolittle wrote that, if he were elected to the HOF, Trevor Hoffmann would immediately be the best reliever enshrined. Do you believe that’s true?
Keith Law: He would be incorrect. Hoyt Wilhelm is already in the Hall, with 19 more WAR than Hoffman and double Hoffman’s innings total.

Mike: just curious why you seem so sure Trout will stay with the Angels? Shouldn’t they be worried about the Phillies, Yankees or Dodgers offering insane money to him in a few years?
Keith Law: He’s under contract through 2020. Signing Darvish now isn’t going to do anything to sway his choice in 2021.

Jim : Would you start Hader of use him as a multi inning reliever? I think it’s a waste to have him as a 1 inning guy.
Keith Law: Reliever. Never bought into him as a starter due to arm action. Filthy stuff though.

DJ: Do you like Estrada as a good utility guy?
Keith Law: Thairo? That’s about right.

Doug: Chances of Alzolay developing an average changeup, and remaining a starter?
Keith Law: I do believe he’s a starter long term.

Brian: What do you think is the Padres logic regarding Hosmer interest? Do it hold water?
Keith Law: It makes no sense whatsoever. I wonder if this is a phantom offer to try to get the Royals to bid against themselves; it would be the worst possible move for the Padres right now.
Keith Law: I have to run to get back on the phone; I may not chat next week but will definitely chat on the 25th, by which point the entire top 100 should be posted, so maybe I should go start writing. Thanks as always for all of your questions.