For the Relief of Unbearable Urges.

My friend Samantha has been touting the work of Nathan Englander for a while now, and I finally cracked open his first collection of short stories, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, last week. Even though the subject matter couldn’t be more foreign to me – many of the stories revolve around Hasidim, adherents of an ultra-orthodox sect of Judaism – Englander’s prose and his insight into human emotions are uncanny, especially given his age when he wrote many of these stories. He deftly blends humor into stories that get at serious questions like spirituality, gender equality, and finding hope in the hopeless.

The nine stories within the collection all encompass Jewish themes or characters, but range from World War II to a modern Hasidic community in New York and the aftermath of a bombing in Tel Aviv. The first story, “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” evokes the Night of the Murdered Poets with a story of the roundup of 27 Jewish writers in the postwar Soviet Union, a number that should have been 26 but mistakenly includes a shut-in writer whose work has never seen the light of day. “The Tumblers” reads like a fable, telling of the Jewish residents of a European city’s ghetto who are deported to a concentration camp but manage, however briefly, to stave off their fates by pretending to be a traveling circus of acrobats, a tragicomic story because you know it can’t really end well, but the individual moments are light even in extreme darkness.

My personal favorite in the collection, “The Gilgul of Park Avenue,” takes the concept of the gilgul, a belief of Jewish mysticism of the transmigration of a Jewish soul from one body to another, and turns it into a story that is by turns a slapstick comedy and a serious look at what happens in a marriage when the two partners have divergent spiritual beliefs. A nonbelieving Christian experiences an epiphany while riding in the back of a taxi in Manhattan: He realizes, or perhaps it just hits him, that he’s Jewish. And it’s not just a lark, as he rather quickly becomes orthodox, keeping kosher, adopting various rituals, seeking the advice of a sort of iconoclast rabbi who also believes in this doctrine of transmigration. The wife, however, is not having it, and tries to get her husband’s psychiatrist to talk sense into him, culminating in a painful, awkward dinner with the four of them (eating kosher) where Englander refuses to give us a true resolution, because there isn’t one: when two people disagree on such a fundamental issue, one that in this case would pervade most of their mundane lives as well as their spiritual ones, there’s no easy answer.

“Reb Kringle” is just what you’d expect – a Jewish man who bears a strong resemblance to Santa Claus reluctantly plays the part every December, until he meets the child who causes his hidden self to rebel against the subterfuge … and yet his overreaction doesn’t negate the truth of the injustice the child faces. The closing story, “In This Way We Are Wise,” goes in the other direction, ditching the comedy of the earlier stories to look at how ordinary people can survive living in an environment where terror is banal, ten brief pages that walk one survivor through the immediate aftermath of yet another cafe bombing in Israel.

Englander’s great gift is the intense realism of his dialogue – the spoken words, and the interior thoughts – of each of these characters, who seem so very normal because Englander can paint them quickly with broad strokes that hit the canvas with precise edges. The mentally ill Jewish father of “Reunion” could be a clown, or a nut, but in fact is a very regular guy with some sort of mania that is destroying his family. The central character in “Gilgul” is also run-of-the-mill, but even when what he says – like announcing to the taxi driver, “Jewish, right here in your cab” – is absurd, the voice, the scene, the specific words make it plausible. Englander’s fiction reads like fact because he writes people as people are.

Next up: More short stories, this time Edith Pearlman’s Honeydew.

Stick to baseball, 5/28/16.

My Mock Draft 2.0 Is now up for Insiders. You can also see my post from Tuesday ranking the top 25 prospects in pro ball. I’ll expand that list to 50 after the Futures Game in July.

I also held my usual Klawchat, this time on Friday morning on a flight from Birmingham to Baltimore.

And now, the links…

Klawchat 5/27/16.

Starting a little after 11 am. Questions go in the frame below, not in the comments.

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Klaw: The in-crowd say it’s cool to dig this chatting thing. Klawchat.

Alex: Where do you expect Kyle Lewis to go? I still wonder if the Mercer part of things might make some of the teams at the top hesitant as the draft gets closer.
Klaw: I still think he goes 1 or 2, but I tend to agree with your point of view. We haven’t seen him face good pitching all spring and he still swings and misses a bit. But he also hit a monster homer at the Greenville Drive’s stadium over the batter’s eye the other day, so if you want to roll the dice on big power he’s your guy.

Brian: Any new buzz on Atlanta at 3?
Klaw: Nothing new on the top 3-4 teams. About the only really new thing is that it seems like Corey Ray is without a clear landing spot right now.

Philip: Does Matt Manning have huge bonus demands? Could he slip to Padres at 24-25 for way overslot?
Klaw: Bonus demands tend to be just rumors – they’re almost impossible to verify – but I have heard his asking price will be quite high. He has the two-sport commitment to LMU, but you know what I’m going to say about any HS pitcher who is already in the mid-90s: Take the money.

Dustin: Atlanta just essentially paid $3 million for a second-round pick. I think it’s a great move for the Braves, but I’ve seen detractors play the “draft picks are lottery tickets and the players Atlanta traded had good numbers” game. I myself don’t need convincing, but what is your quick rebuttal for those naysayers?
Klaw: People who’ve said that – and I got a few of those types on twitter – don’t understand the draft system. An additional pick means more money in your pool and more flexibility to sign better players. Since the draft is already the best investment any team can make, getting more of these things is a no-brainer. There’s no better place to put your money if you’re trying to build.

Dave M: Clearly you’re a fan of Wire. What other post-punk luminaries do you favor? The Fall, Joy Division, PIL?
Klaw: The Fall are a little out there for me. Joy Division of course, PIL here and there, Gang of Four.

Cephus: Assuming Puk has locked up 1-1. Do you get the sense that Braves would take Senzel over Lewis, if both are available? Also, if Lewis and Pint/Groome are on the board, do you believe Braves would opt for the bat or would they prefer the upside of the prep arms?
Klaw: Puk has not locked up 1-1. Nobody has. I still think Atlanta would take Groome over anyone, and I think Ray is strongly in their mix too.

Ed: Does it still sound like Perez is falling to 8? Are the Padres in on Perez, Wentz and Manning at that spot?
Klaw: Perez could go 5 too. I wouldn’t say “falling;” I have him ranked higher than that but that doesn’t mean I’m right. I haven’t heard them with Wentz at all.

Jon: Thank you for these chats Keith. Are you getting more of a sense of who will fall due to signability? Manning, Wentz, I.Anderson and B.Garrett seem to be names I’ve heard
Klaw: I’d add Kevin Gowdy. Manning has hoops, Wentz is a UVA commit, Anderson and Garrett are Vanderbilt. Lawson is also falling but that’s because his velocity was down, and I expect him to end up at ASU.

Michael: Wondering if you read Mike Wilbon’s drivel on African Americans and analytics. I’m almost certain that his thoughts are not true, but could this be a reason why there aren’t a lot of minorities in high-ranking sports positions?
Klaw: I started it and found the premise absurd.

Gabriel: when is your second mock draft coming?
Klaw: Saturday. Which is tomorrow. HOLY SHIT I HAVE A MOCK DRAFT DUE TONIGHT

John: Do you think Alec Hansen’s issues are mostly mental or is there an injury not being reported? He seems like someone who could be a great deal for a team taking a risk on him from 24 and later.
Klaw: I would bet it’s injury-related. He was shut down in the fall with forearm soreness and I believe he has a screw in his elbow from a prior injury.

@RationalMLBfan: Why would the Braves DFA Brian Matusz? It’s not like they have any bullpen prospects they want to use–wouldn’t it have been worth hanging on to a young, recently good LHP in hoes of trading him for *anything*?
Klaw: I agree. I thought they’d try to clean him up a little and see if they could create enough value to trade him in two months.

Ben: would there be any notable changes if you were to re-rank the farm systems
Klaw: Not really. Might slide the Rays up a little with the strong starts of some of the AA bats, especially Gillaspie, although Guerrieri’s velo has been down and so have his results.

Eric: You have the Mets picking Will Craig in your mock – how would you compare him to Dom Smith and if they pick him who would you consider the Mets “1B of the future”?
Klaw: Craig would be a bit of a reach for me at 19 – he’s got power, not sold on the hit tool against better pitching after a poor Cape, while Smith is a much better pure hitter and fielder and I think he’s actually younger than Craig.

Dave from Boston: Keith, Are the Redsox lowering Swihart’s value as a potential trade chip by playing him in left field? Shouldn’t he be honing his catching skills in Pawtucket for new?
Klaw: Yes, but perhaps they think he’ll have a future with the club if he’s a full-time left fielder. I think he has more value to them as a catcher either way.

Nationals Review: Why are teams so concerned with service time when calling up top prospects? It seems that most elite young players get extended well before they would hit free agency, so that extra year of club control never served as more than leverage. However, if a team needs the wins now, it seems like they wouldn’t lose much by calling up the player. Do I have this completely wrong?
Klaw: I agree with you and think the emphasis on delaying callups, especially for arbitration, is silly. If you’re contending, the difference between a division title and a wild-card spot, or between making and missing the playoffs, could easily be one game. Having the right guy up in the order, the right arm in the rotation, in a specific game may end up the margin of success. When the difference is slight, it’s not a big deal, but Trea Turner is so much better than Danny Espinosa’s balsa-wood bat that the Nats’ decision to skimp on Turner makes no sense to me. And even for pushing off free agency, in many cases, you’re relying on the assumption that everything goes well with the player – look at Carlos Gomez right now. Sometimes the player’s best years are now, not years six and seven and beyond.

Andrew: Klaw, after Puk who do you view as the top SEC prospect?
Klaw: Dakota Hudson. I have an entire ranking of the top 100 prospects in the draft.

DPF: Is there something that you’ve seen or not seen in Austin Meadows to make him drop on your prospect list? Or is it just a case of guys jumping him?
Klaw: He needs to start making better quality contact.

Nick: How much do you think bonus demands are going to factor into who goes at #1 and #2 overall? Given that there aren’t any consensus players at #1 and #2, do you expect that the Phillies and Reds are going to look to go more underslot than you’d typically see with the #1 and #2 overall picks in a generic draft?
Klaw: I’m almost positive that the Phillies are going to make offers to multiple players at 1 and take the player who will accept the best deal – the numbers may be different for each player, but regardless of who they sign they’d be in position to grab a top talent (Manning?) who falls to their pick at 42.

Rick: Any reports on Alex Jackson? 7:6 BB:K so far with 2 homers
Klaw: Interesting that you omitted the part where he’s 3 for 23. Don’t think any of it means much. I didn’t get good reports on him from extended.

Jobu: What can we expect out of Senzel?
Klaw: I think your floor is an average player. Average or fringe-average defense at third, plus hit tool, maybe 8-10 homers a year. He shows huge raw in BP, doesn’t bring it over to games. If that translates, then you’re looking at a potential star.

Justin: So…is Joey Gallo going to get any playing time or is he just there to help the clubhouse?
Klaw: Their fealty to Fielder befuddles me. Just release him. He’s toast.

Rick: Michael Gettys is starting off strong according to the stat line. .822 OPS and 20 steals. Good reports?
Klaw: No. Also, he’s repeating the level and still strikes out a lot.

Jonathan: Can Atlanta’s front office keep Swanson and Albies in minors all season (and bring them up April 14, 2017 to extend club control through 2023) or will Braves give in to mounting media noise calling for PR feel good move that brings those two up to MLB team this season?
Klaw: It’s not like the team has given in to any other media noise about PR feel good moves.

Greg: Have you heard anything or do you have any opinion on what Atlanta will do with the money from that extra pick? Pour it into 40 and 44, take a senior at 76?
Klaw: I think whatever fits. It will depend on which kids who want big bonuses slide to 40 and 44 – and that’s tougher to determine now than it was under the old system. But I happen to think they’ll get someone well over slot at 40.

Mike: What did you think of the dust up between LaRussa and Brown (Pirates PBP guy)? Seemed immature on both fronts to me…
Klaw: No issues with Brown. LaRussa was totally out of line to barge in on a broadcast like that.

Jason VT: Will Funkhauser go in the first three rounds?
Klaw: My guess is he’ll either go to the Nats or to whatever team takes Senzel.

John: You once mentioned that Hector Olivera does not look like a regular. Do you think he will play for the braves again or ever in the big league?
Klaw: Probably, but I don’t think he’ll ever be good.

Nick: Are you still hearing the Mets are looking at college bats with their 1st pick?
Klaw: Yes. Second pick, no.

Aaron: Thoughts on the new Radiohead or still waiting for it to hit Spotify?
Klaw: Other than “Burn the Witch” it was dull.

Jennifer: How much upside is there in Benson, Lowe, N.Jones, Mendoza and other bats that are projected around the back of the first round? Do you have any favorites?
Klaw: Jones, who I think will go higher than that unless he puts out a huge number, is my favorite by far. I’m not sure Benson or Mendoza are good bets to hit, period. Lowe could go anywhere from as high as 5 to the early 20s. Some guys are all in on the bat, others are not, two even used the word “fraud” to describe him as a prospect (I won’t go that far).

Brian: Odubal Herrera has dramatically increased his patience at the plate. Why don’t more guys place an emphasis on that and/or is it just too difficult to do for most guys?
Klaw: You notice how rare it is – that’s because it’s really hard.

John: Braves have had Teheran, Wisler, Folty, and Blair in the rotation at times this year. Of those 4 + the 4-5 guys at AAA and AA (Jenkins, Sims, Newcomb, Ellis, etc) who do you think is actually a starter long term for them?
Klaw: Blair no doubt. Folty and Wisler probably the next two most likely. Newcomb has starter stuff but not command or control. Jenkins has starter stuff but for some reason doesn’t miss bats. Ellis is a fifth starter or long guy. Sims is a reliever.

Jonas: I’m currently in the planning process for a kitchen remodel. I recall that mentioning one you did in a previous chat. Any advice you can share from that experience?
Klaw: Set aside more money than you think you’ll need, and then do it down to the studs. You never know what nonsense is lurking in your walls. For us it was flying splices, narrow pipes, and some subfloor issues.

Jason Reynolds: Keep fighting the good fight on amateur pitch counts. No one else is
Klaw: It’s really bizarre. And I have yet to have any coach I’ve called out say, “yep, he’s right, I pitched that kid too much.” Even the pitchers themselves are saying they feel fine and I don’t know how tough they are; one said he just had to “sack up” for the long outing, as if, say, Jarrod Parker just needed some more sack.

Jason Reynolds: How quick could Connor Jones see the bigs? Next year possible?
Klaw: I’m skeptical. UVA pitchers haven’t fared well in their transitions to pro ball and I don’t see an out pitch from him that would make him successful even in AA.

Justin: Does the fact that Clint Frazier has been able to significantly (would you call it that?) cut his K% at the Double-A level lead you to believe he’ll be able to compete near his ceiling projections? Indians probably wont do it – but COULD he help them this year? Thanks for all your work. Never miss a post/chat.
Klaw: He’s a real breakout guy right now – as in, I think it’s a real breakout. More likely to help this year than Zimmer, but I’d also like to see Frazier head up to AAA for a few months of facing pitchers who’ve been in the big leagues before.

BD: Does Shawryn having 16ks move the needle for scouts, or is it just another game, averaged into the whole season? I bet there is some recency bias no?
Klaw: Just another game. Delivery still is what it is, either a reliever or a patient.

Cale: Bogaerts is beginning to show signs of power to go along with what looks like a plus hit tool. You always seemed to project power but did you expect him to be such a high average guy? Plus his defense looks like he can stay at short for a long time. What do you think his peak looks like? Looks like a MVP caliber player.
Klaw: I had him as the #2 prospect in baseball one year, so yes, I thought he’d be a star all around, a shortstop who got on base and hit for power. Superstar makeup too. 25 HR peak plus all the stuff he’s already doing.

Nick: Follow-up: Do you expect the Reds to adopt a similar approach (i.e. taking the best deal) at #2 in order to be able to go over slot at #35?
Klaw: Yes, but I think they’re focused on fewer players (3?) than the Phillies (5).

Ian: Does Senzel qualify as a “high upside” guy that the Braves say they are after? Huge Braves fan, and wouldn’t be overly excited about that pick.
Klaw: No and I don’t think they’re likely to take him.

Dan: Any idea what’s going on with Harvey? His mechanics look terrible, he looks exhausted early in games and I don’t know how the Mets can just just keep throwing him out there. Would a minor league assignment help get him back on track?
Klaw: I answered this, sort of, on Twitter: I know his velocity’s down by a significant margin (not just random), and his mechanics look “off,” but I can’t give you more than that. I would need to see him live to even start to talk about the delivery in specific terms, and if he’s actually hurt, we probably won’t know until he hits the DL. It’s real, though, not just a random blip. He’s not ‘right.’ But to say more than that would be to pretend to knowledge I don’t have.

Canada: What are you all gonna do about Trump?
Klaw: Close your borders, stat.

Alan: You called Austin Riley a mediocre bat speed guy, and the numbers so far certainly look like that’s the case. I’m curious if there’s anything he can do? How often do guys get past that to reach their potential, and is there anything they can do other than simply get stronger?
Klaw: Stronger won’t speed up your bat. I don’t know of any way to improve bat speed in a player who’s already over 18.

Matt: Profar coming to the bigs this weekend. Still a star for you long term if he stays healthy?
Klaw: Yes, I’m still all in.

Finn: Do you like the Dodgers saying that Urias will be going back down at some point? Seems odd if he pitches well not to keep him at the big league level even with the innings limit
Klaw: I think they need to manage expectations as well as his innings. If he pitches really well, they can always reverse course.

Alex Remington: Could Blake Rutherford possibly fall to 40 due to outrageous bonus demands?
Klaw: I had a scout broach that possibility to me yesterday. It’s an interesting one, because he was seen coming into the year as a potential top 5 guy and is almost certainly not going up there. I could also see the Phils cutting a deal with him at 1, then trying to pay someone $5 million at 42. There are a lot of possibilities right now with the lack of clarity up top and all these high school kids with upside but no price tags yet.

Elton: How old was your daughter when she was able to play interesting board games and what was the first one you played with at least a bit of strategery?
Klaw: She was four when she started playing Carcassonne via the app. By the time she was 7-8 she could really play games like that or Splendor or Ticket to Ride with us.

J: Do you see Zack Burdi as a guy who could be a Brandon Finnegan (as in get to majors in draft year?). Where would you take him?
Klaw: I do. He has the stuff to do that, perhaps not the command. Would consider him in the 30s/40s, think he’ll go higher.

Ray A.: Will you be at the Futures Game in San Diego this year? Any prospects I can look forward to watching? I’m guessing Moncada will be there.
Klaw: Yes, I will, and will try to set aside some time pregame to meet with fans as usual. I thought Urias might start the game, but that’s not happening.

Gregory: Lucas Sims as a reliever? That’s harsh. He’s dominating right now.
Klaw: Lucas Sims is dominating right now? He has a 5 ERA and 21 BB in 34 IP.

Belvin2: You mentioned Giolito had his delivery altered. Any insight as to why and what was wrong with his old one?
Klaw: Nothing was wrong with it. I can only assume this was some pitching coach wanting to put his stamp on the kid. If I were Mike Rizzo I would have fire coming out of my eyes at this point.

addoeh: If Baylor isn’t lack of institutional control, I don’t know what is. Still, NCAA is more worried about the players getting paid then what a few of the players do off the field.
Klaw: Meanwhile, UCLA signed a quarter billion dollar deal with Under Armour but can’t find a few bucks to pay the players.

Tom: Do you believe new CBA agreement should set a strict rule to prevent tanking?
Klaw: No. But maybe they could craft rules that don’t actively encourage it?

Matt: cody reed jumped from the 50s to 24 in your recent prospect update. Change in his upside to you or just more confident he’ll be an above average SP soon?
Klaw: Higher upside, showing even better command, Reds people are ecstatic over his progress.

Jay_B: What skill/tool in MLB is most unique (sorry to use a modifier on “unique”)? The one thing where you are like “wow, no one else can do that”
Klaw: Never seen any player run like Billy Hamilton or murder a baseball like Joey Gallo – no, not even Stanton – or throw a 95 mph slider like Thor.

Dan: Thought on Tyler O’Neill so far this season. I believe preseason you said you saw signs of life.
Klaw: Yep, I’m in, especially since now he’s doing it outside the Cal League.

Matt: Kyle Zimmer -> we’ve gotta be talking about a reliever soon right? seems pretty clear his shoulder isnt gonna hold up to a starter’s workload.
Klaw: If that. Hard to peg him as a reliever unless he can throw on back-to-back days. He might be one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever seen – guy had three legit plus pitches and may never make a major league start.

Jeb: Do you find the draft more enjoyable to cover now that teams have to be more creative with deals and who they pick where or was it more fun when there were fewer restrictions….or has it really not changed that much?
Klaw: The draft is fun to cover when the players are good. The system itself doesn’t affect my job other than doing mocks.

John: Is there anything you particularly like about Trump’s inclusion in politics? I have heard a lot of people say they hate Trump and what he stands for, but they enjoy seeing an “outsider” enter the fray and just disrupt everything. I liked it, too……at first. Not so crazy that the maniac actually has a shot at winning.
Klaw: I was thinking about this the other day after seeing 538’s piece on Gary Johnson’s shot at polling north of 5%. Do people underrate how much we have benefited from having one of the world’s most stable democracies, which in itself is a function of having two dominant (if sometimes wholly dissatisfying) parties? Regardless of who’s been in charge, there’s never been a real threat to the republic, so to speak.

Curt: Perez going 5 to Milwaukee a sure bet?
Klaw: There are no sure bets in this draft. Really.

Cody: What changed with Martes? He does not look good right now
Klaw: Martes, Lopez … I don’t know if these guys are hurt or what. That’s always my first assumption when a good pitcher either stops throwing strikes or loses velocity.

Ed: Are the Padres in a better position than say the Reds or Phils for an underslot deal at 8 then overslot for a manning or anderson at 24,25?
Klaw: Yes, easier to manipulate it when your second pick comes before anyone else’s second pick.

Ray: Alex Verdugo is hitting for more power on AA. Is he a future 20 home run bat? Estimated ETA?
Klaw: He’s got power for sure. Did as an amateur too. Might make it to the majors next year.

Jay: Worried about my Rays. They seem to be taking a step backwards under Silverman. Can you talk me off the ledge?
Klaw: You’d have to give me something more specific than that. I don’t see what’s gone backwards. Thought their draft last year was their most promising in a while.

Brendan: Why Nats on K Funkhauser?
Klaw: Who’s his adviser again?

Brian: Keith, why don’t teams front load long term contracts when they realize the value is in the front and they’ll regret the end? It would make it much easier not to play, cut or trade the struggling player and not handicap the club. Is it basically just because the Union wouldn’t allow it or do the clubs want to delay the spending? Thanks
Klaw: Union discourages it, and yes, clubs love to borrow from tomorrow (and maybe the next GM) to pay for today.

John: Do you see any sense in a Freeman for Gallo + deal? I feel like Freddie should be traded and Texas could use the 1B production
Klaw: At that point Texas should just play Gallo at first base.

Ryan: Can Carter Keiboom stick at shortstop? Is it a 20-homer bat potential?
Klaw: Not a shortstop. Maybe 15-18 homers.

Andy: There’s also a huge difference between keeping Bryant in the minors for two to three weeks to delay free agency a year and avoiding paying money for a Super 2. In one case you hold the player’s rights for an extra year, in the other you just have to spend more money.
Klaw: I agree and I hope I made that distinction clear. That said, are we really good enough to know what a player might be worth in six years – especially a pitcher?

Loser in Minneapolis: I’m a Twins fan and need something to smile about. Any superstar talents in the 2017 draft?
Klaw: Yes. Might be a 2011 draft class. Wright, Faedo, Houck, Kendall, Greene, Schmidt … and that’s just what I’m thinking of now, while sleep-deprived, at 35,000 feet.

Matt: Was jose Berrios eligible for the updated top 25? Does his struggles this year change his long-term outlook for you?
Klaw: He was eligible and did not make the cut. Tiny sample in the majors, but you can see why I had voiced concerns about his height and flat fastball in the past.

Dan: Does Josh Hader make a debut in Beer Town before Sept or do Stearns/Counsell wait for Sept call ups. Dominating in the Southern League.
Klaw: I think he debuts this year. He actually is dominating, unlike Sims, but I don’t think that’s perfectly predictive of what he’ll be in the majors either.

Matt: Thanks for all the answers today. Not sure i’ve see you comment on this: what do you think of the Fantex contracts guys like Franco and Duffey have signed? seems like a good way for players to cash in on part of their value before arb without getting locked into a bad deal. Good for players. mlb?
Klaw: Good for players for sure. Not sure what MLB’s view on it will be – I don’t really see how it’s bad for them.

Doug: Will there be a player coming out of nowhere (like Benintendi last year) going in the top 10/
Klaw: Benintendi won the Golden Spikes Award as a centerfielder in the SEC, so I don’t think he was really out of nowhere. Justin Dunn is the most out of nowhere guy who’ll go high in the draft, maybe up to #11.

Mike: Some say catchers can take more time to develop at the plate, and I know he is still young, but should there be concern over Reese McGuire’s lack of pop?
Klaw: This is what he is and has always been. He can catch and throw but doesn’t have any power.

Gregory: Okay, Sims had a bad three-start run adjusting to AAA but the stuff is there. Right?
Klaw: No, not right.

Rick: Is Dylan Cozens power spike just a result a playing in hitter friendly Reading?
Klaw: He has huge raw power. I think the performance overall is affected by playing in Reading.

Chris: With all the (correct) bashing of the coaches/programs that ruin young pitchers arms, which one’s do you think are more likely to think of the player first and winning the game second?
Klaw: Vanderbilt, Florida, LSU all take pretty good care of their arms. And I’ve run into some less-known programs where the coaches get it – Radford, for example, even though they don’t have a lot of pro prospects. Unfortunately they are still in the minority.

Klaw: That’s all for this week as I’ll be landing soon. Thanks for all of the questions. Look for my next mock draft tomorrow morning.

The Crack Shack (San Diego).

I have a new top 25 pro prospects ranking up for Insiders.

When in San Diego briefly last week, I had the pleasure of visiting The Crack Shack, the new fried chicken-all-the-damn-time place from the same creative team (including Top Chef winner Richard Blais) behind its Little Italy neighbor, Juniper & Ivy, right before I popped in to see potential #1 overall pick Mickey Moniak. The Crack Shack’s executive chef, Jonathan Sloan, is also a huge baseball fan, so he had the kitchen send out a few extra items for me and a friend to sample while we were there, so (1) I tried a LOT of food and (2) bear in mind some of this was compliments of the chef.

The short version is that if you like fried chicken – and I love me some fried chicken – you are going to love the Crack Shack, because it’s fried chicken every which way and it’s all really good. Chef Sloan described their sourcing – they’re getting some of the best, freshest chickens available, locally raised Jidori chickens, a trademarked breed known for better flavor than your typical mass-market bird. The chickens are also raised cage-free and, most importantly in my view, without antibiotics. Just about everything else on the menu is sourced locally too, as at Juniper & Ivy, but the chicken is at the center of almost every dish.

My “main” lunch – the item I actually ordered – was the Señor Croque, a sandwich of fried chicken, bacon, a fried egg, miso-maple butter, cheddar (I left this off because I despise it), all served on a fresh brioche bun. I would fly across the country to eat this again. It has ruined nearly all other fried chicken sandwiches for me. (The exception would be the Fried Chicken Sando at Tempe’s nocawich, also found at the Phoenix airport.) The chicken is breaded, dipped in buttermilk, breaded again, and chilled so the breading really sets on the meat (and doesn’t fall off), and there’s something so decadent about the whole thing that makes it hard to believe you’re eating a $12 sandwich and not, say, a $30 steak.

Of everything else that came out, my favorite item was the chicken oysters – the oyster is a small piece of dark meat attached to the tip of the thigh that is the most tender meat on the entire bird – which are pickle-brined and fried, served with meyer lemon and mustard tartar sauce. The term oyster refers to its shape more than its texture; again I’d compare this to a good steak or any highly fatty meat in texture, because it’s almost melt-in-your-mouth soft, which gives a good contrast to the crispy crust. You absolutely need that acidity from the lemon too.

The chicken ‘lollipops’ are at the opposite end of the spectrum if you want something you can really dig your teeth into – drumsticks slightly reshaped into lollipops, and they’re subtly spicy, seasoned with togarashi, a Japanese spice mix of chili pepper, seaweed, sesame seeds, and sometimes orange peel and ginger too. We also tried some of their straight-up fried chicken, which had outstanding texture inside and out with a custom spice blend in the breading, but we ended up passing some of that over for the oysters and the lollipops.. We also sampled the Mexican poutine, a big mess of fries fried in chicken fat (schmaltz), topped with pollo asado and jalapeño cheese wiz. You can also get the fries plain, and they’re as crispy as you’d expect (frying in saturated fats makes a huge difference in flavor and texture).

The Crack Shack has a few non-fried items and a few non-chicken items, as well as a breakfast sandwich of chicken sausage, egg, and smoked cheddar on an English muffin. They offer six side sauces for any of your items, and you can order either of two slaws or two salad options (I got the baby kale Caesar, which was a necessary plant item in the middle of the sea of meat). They also have biscuits served with miso-maple butter, which I’m sure I’d adore but did not dare order because that might have ended my day then and there.

The Crack Shack has a full bar and its own cocktail menu, although since it was the middle of the day I did not partake. Without booze, you could get a substantial meal here for about $20 that is more than reasonable for ingredients of this quality, which are on par with what you’d get at very high-end restaurants but available in fried form. I drove back by the restaurant that evening, a Tuesday, and there was a line out the door around 7 pm, so plan your trip accordingly.

I’ve written about Juniper & Ivy at length and briefly here, so I won’t go overboard in writing about my light dinner there, which comprised a lot of plants and no meat other than the raw yellowtail in one item. But I do want to mention the BBQ carrots, which might be the best vegan dish I have ever eaten in my life. They’re grilled, even lightly charred, skin-on, and served over chimichurri with smoked peanuts and dollops of pickled apricot puree. I’ve never had anything like this – it was a giant bomb of sweet and sour – and it’s possible I’ve got some apricots pickling in my fridge right now to recreate this. J&I’s menu changes often but if you get there soon I can’t recommend this dish highly enough.

Stick to baseball, 5/21/16.

My first attempt to project this year’s first-round picks went up on Wednesday; I’ll do this again three times before the draft, with the next one coming after Memorial Day. Earlier in the week, I did my annual ten-year lookback pieces, one on redrafting the 2006 first round and the other on the first-rounders from that year who didn’t work out.

I held my regular Klawchat on Thursday, and have a new game review up at Paste on the light family-friendly card game Zany Penguins.

Thanks to all of you who’ve signed up for my newsletter. I send a note more or less whenever I post new content somewhere, and usually add a little story or extra content too.

And now, the links…

  • A longtime reader of mine, Travis, has an unfortunate story that he shared with me: His newborn daughter is already in hospice care after a bout of meningitis that hit after she was born at 27 weeks. The full story is on their GoFundMe page; I donated and encourage you to do the same.
  • Amazing longread from the Atlantic on the false certainty we get from DNA results in criminal cases.
  • Great blog post on the challenges of fighting vaccine-denial propaganda. I guess the good news is that the film Vaxxed has gained no traction outside of its core, cult-like audience.
  • This piece on dating from a woman who does not want children has one really infuriating passage, about men who tried to impregnate her against her wishes. In the UK, that’s considered rape, but in the U.S. I don’t believe it is.
  • As yet another sports … uh, figure? … used the term “pansy” this week to describe baseball without broken limbs and bloody faces, I thought I’d link to The Pansy Project, in which a gay artist plants a single pansy at the sites of homophobic comments or attacks, joining with the recipient in a sort of show of strength. “Pansy,” by the way, has referred to either a gay man or an overly effeminate one for over a hundred years.
  • The Washington Post‘s oral history of the making of Run-DMC’s “Walk This Way” is a must read for anyone who remembers the impact that song had on the musical culture of the day. It’s surprising and disturbing for me to hear cries of racism at MTV; I grew up in about as white a town as you’ll find on the eastern seaboard, and when MTV aired anything by black artists that wasn’t adult contemporary crap, I devoured it. Rap, Prince and his various protegées, Living Colour, it didn’t matter. If it was novel, I was interested.
  • Also from WaPo, from March, the story of a violin prodigy who stole a Stradivarius.
  • An ethics professor at Yale and major figure in the social justice movement in academia stands credibly accused of sexual harassment. And Yale hasn’t done much to stop him.
  • The New Yorker takes a serious look at the buffoon James O’Keefe, and what his brand of negative campaigning means for both sides in the 2016 Presidential election. (Hint: Nothing good for democracy.)
  • Yes, it’s about a colleague, but I still enjoyed Josh Levin’s piece on why Zach Lowe is the best sportswriter in America.
  • A rare bit of positive news in the fight against antibiotic resistance, thanks to a five-year experiment in building such molecules from scratch rather than modifying existing ones.

Klawchat 5/19/16.

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Klaw: Got a loaded imagination being fired by Klawchat.

Alan: With Fredi Gonzalez being fired we all know that there are no longer any Latino managers. BUT can you at least acknowledge the narrative that exists by simply saying: X Latino players and 0 Latino managers = discrimination. In order to properly determine this you must look to the number of qualified candidates and analyze the population pool, etc. (I agree that qualified Latino candidates exist but the number of Latino players is not the proper measurement.)
Klaw: But it is absolutely the right way to look at it, because white ex-players with no managerial experience are hired all the time, so every Latino ex-player is automatically qualified for the job of manager too.

Joe C.: Hi Keith. I have a friend who may or may not be drafted this year out of HS. He is in talks with a couple teams about bonus ideas, and I am just looking for your take on the situation. I know you’ve been outspoken about if drafted out of HS, a player is better served signing, as opposed to going to college, esp. pitchers. My friend is a position player and has a commitment to a good D1 school, and also in my opinion and in his family’s could be well-served maturity wise to go to school and live a college life while playing ball for a few years. Whereas if he signed we’d worry he’d be a bit lost as an individual on his own, not with thousands of other freshmen undergrads in a similar situation. If just curious of your thoughts and wonder if the “if drafted out of HS, the best baseball career path choice is to sign” isn’t a one-size-fits-all theory.
Klaw: Truly depends on how much he’s being offered, whether he’s going high enough in the draft that reaching the majors is somewhat realistic, and what the school and scholarship in question are. If teams are offering him $100K, and he’s got a commitment to a good academic school with at least a half scholarship, then signing may not make much sense for him. It’s hard for me to give specific advice without specifics. The theory you mention is just my general advice for the majority of good HS players but not for all.

Woodsy: Hi Keith! I’m curious why, in your Mock Draft 1.0, that you have the Red Sox taking Nolan Jones, when they could pick the seemingly more talented and higher-ceiling player in Delvin Perez. Thanks for your great work!
Klaw: Because the mock draft is based on what my sources indicate to me that teams will actually do. If the Red Sox believe Jones is the better prospect, they’ll take him over Perez. That seems to be the case.

Henry: When I was an undergrad philosophy major, the quality of class discussions was directly related to the professor’s willingness to call people on their bullshit. All that to say, thanks for using your public persona to insist people use *gasp* facts and logic.
Klaw: You’re welcome. Lot of strawmen and ad hominems thrown at me on Twitter this morning over Baylor and this Washington NFL team name poll.

Greg: What are the chances Kyle Lewis falls to Atlanta at 3? Do you think they’d take him if he did?
Klaw: 40-50% chance, think they’d take him if Groome is gone.

Dan: International prospect question. For a team like Atlanta that we know is going to blow past their signing pool, are they allowed to deal their pool money to other teams? It seems like another way to acquire assets since they’re going to blow past the pool anyway.
Klaw: The Dodgers did this last year.

Chris: Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria were Top 10 prospects coming up through the minors who had star-level seasons in their early 20’s and now look like they are done while only being in the early 30’s. What happened?
Klaw: I don’t have a great answer to that but both guys had a lot of injuries in their 20s. Maybe that’s the reason?

Lucas: Anything Chad Kuhl can do to change your opinion on him being a reliever? Outstanding stats so far
Klaw: The stats aren’t really the issue. I got this a lot with Tyler Thornburg and Brad Peacock, with lots of Brewers/Nats fans getting Mad Online when I said both still projected as relievers despite great minor league numbers as starters. Deliveries and stuff matter too.

Austin: Is there anything more disingenuous in baseball than the excuses GMs give to justify holding prospects down when we all know it’s the Super Two? If Jameson Taillon tossed a no-hitter today and K’d 17 in the process, I’m fairly confident Neal Huntington would say something like “we’re obviously pleased with the results, but we really want to see him work on inducing more weak contact.” It’s to a point where something has to happen in the next CBA, right?
Klaw: I don’t know how to legislate it better, though.

John: What is your take on Fredi Gonzalez firing?
Klaw: They should have done it in November and hired the right long-term guy then and there.

Andy: Looking ahead to next year, how should the Cubs handle their catching situation? Contreras, Montero, and even Schwarber?
Klaw: Schwarber can’t catch. i didn’t like him as a catcher before the knee injury. Now it seems like it’s completely off the table. I’m assuming they ease Contreras in later this year given how he’s started in AAA.

Shane (Erie, PA): Keith, have you ever gotten feedback (negative or positive) in person from a player after assessing their talent level, play, etc. in a column?
Klaw: Yes. Most of the time it’s very friendly. Occasionally I get a player who doesn’t understand that the evaluations are not personal and that this is my job. They’re getting evaluated by scouts all the time, but those reports aren’t public, so perhaps it’s awkward for them to hear an objective (if possibly incorrect) evaluation or projection of their abilities. But most players get it – look at Stroman trolling me for thinking he might be too short to start because he lacked fastball plane. I thought that was great.

Jim: Tyler Goeddel is heating up. Can he be another Rule 5 steal for the Phillies?
Klaw: Well if you get any value in the rule 5 draft it’s a steal, so yes. I don’t think he’s a star, but I think he’s a useful big leaguer.

Andy: Fun stat. There are 5 Mets pitchers who have a higher ISO than Texas D”H” Prince Fielder. The answer to what the Rangers do when Choo comes back is pretty clear. Heck, putting Profar at SS and moving Andrus to DH would also improve their hitting.
Klaw: Yep. I hope they’re not too blind to the salary to realize benching Fielder is the right move. That front office is pretty sharp.

Ryan in MKE: I know you’re a firm believer in taking “best player available” but does it make sense for teams to either seek or avoid riskier prospects with more upside based on what they already have in their system? Seems like Milwaukee could stand some more risk at 5 in pursuit of a superstar because of the current depth they posses. Thoughts?
Klaw: That’s fair. I’d also be willing to consider arguments like, “hey, we’re really terrible at developing high school pitchers, so maybe we shouldn’t take them until we fix that.”

Steeeeve: It doesn’t seem that the Astros are considering moving Correa to 3b and Bregman at SS. I know that Bregman may not be the best at 3b but would he be adequate? Could Bregman play LF?
Klaw: I’d rather see Correa at 3b, where I think he’ll be excellent, and Bregman at ss, where I think he’ll be no worse than Correa (who appears to be below-average there). That’s a better alignment than Correa at ss and Bregman at 3b, where I think both guys would be below-average because Bregman doesn’t have the arm for third.

Jim in Chicago: Have you heard anything linking the White Sox to Wisconsin prep SS Gavin Lux? Will he be around at #26?
Klaw: I mean, that’s what I said in my mock draft.

Rob: It looks like Jorge Mateo’s not so much switching to 2B as preparing to play 2B-SS at AA this year. Is this the right approach for his development? Do you think he moves to 2B eventually?
Klaw: I had a limited look at him last year but didn’t love his hands at short. That said, I don’t believe in moving a young player off a position like that unless you’re absolutely sure he can’t play it. I didn’t think the Yanks were at that point with Mateo.

Jim: Do you think there is any hypocrisy in beating the drum for Fredi’s firing (over the top imo) and then complaining about the lack of diversity in managers after he is fired?
Klaw: Nothing’s stopping Atlanta from simply hiring a better tactical manager who is also a person of color. So, Mr. Coppolella, allow me to introduce you to my friend Alex Cora…

Ray A.: Hi Keith. Had a chance to see Mickey Moniak play this week. Had 3 more hits. I think the only tool missing is power, but power was missing from Trout too, then he developed it in the minors. How high is Moniak’s ceiling? He was a treat too watch live.
Klaw: Were you there on Tuesday? I was, and he had three singles, a HBP, and a popup to left field. He needs a lot of work to develop power, IMO. He’s got a narrow stance, no stride, and a very flat swing plane. His hands are quick and he keeps the bat in the zone a long time, but you’re talking a number of significant mechanical changes and then hoping he has the hand and wrist strength to drive the ball. I like him a lot for what he is but don’t see him developing Trout’s power. Trout had more power than Moniak as a senior and Trout was younger too.

Larry: I know this is probably a shot in the dark, but have you heard any names connected to Atlanta at 40 and 44 overall?
Klaw: Yes, I’ve mentioned a bunch in my writeups so far and have also heard them on Matthias Dietz at Logan JC.

Larry: Are we to the point where you have any feel for guys with signability issues, or is it still too early?
Klaw: Getting there. Manning, Ian Anderson, possibly Wentz. Garrett won’t be cheap as a Vanderbilt commit. Some others, like Drake Fellows, Zeferjahn, Linginfelter all appear to be unlikely to sign. I hate saying unsignable because few players are although Noah Murdock and Tyler Baum appear to have zero interest in pro ball right now.

Binnin: Who is one player in this draft who you are higher on in the draft than others? A player you are lower on?
Klaw: Probably higher on Bo Bichette and lower on Buddy Reed. Reed’s a good athlete and might be a 6 defender in center but he can’t hit with his current swing.

Bob (N Wilmington): Two Stones or Ulysses?
Klaw: Two Stones. Better food, to say nothing of the beer selection.

Anonymous: Mitch Keller looks like he’s finally starting to show some of the potential that made him such an attractive prospect out of HS. Could you see him as a guy who could emerge in your top 100 sometime this year – either mid season or preseason next year?
Klaw: Yes, no question.

Kyler: Given you stance on vaccination are you against circumcision for minors? It’s a religious thing more than and not, and freely choose by the child.
Klaw: We had decided before my wife got pregnant that we would have circumsized the baby had it been a boy.

Steve: If Lewis is gone before pick 3, you believe that Braves would take Groome. Do you prefer Groome to Pint? Why? Others have said Braves would lean more toward Pint.
Klaw: I don’t know who “others” are or why they’d say that because I don’t think that’s true at all. Groome’s the better prospect and Atlanta prefers him.

Jason: Glasnow seems to be alternating between dominance and struggling with command either other start at Triple-A. Do you foresee him struggling to throw strikes constantly at the big league level this year?
Klaw: This sounds like box-score scouting. That said, his command has always lagged his stuff and I wouldn’t be surprised if he came up and was an effective five-inning starter who gets pulled frequently due to high pitch counts.

Emily: Thoughts on the Wash Post poll today?
Klaw: Extrapolated over the entire Native American population, it’s saying that roughly 540,000 Native Americans are offended by the team’s nickname, perhaps as many as 800K (the survey had N=504 and thus a wide error bar). That’s a lot of people. Others are trying to attack the survey’s methodology, but I don’t quite see that objection. How about just accepting that that is a lot of people to offend with a team name that seeks federal trademark protection and for an organization that wants a big public subsidy?

Rob: Interesting that many college arms are rising up in the mock drafts despite that market being thin. Doesn’t it make more sense to go after a high school arm, such as Ian Anderson, who has upside?
Klaw: Maybe it does, but there is the same flight to safety every year in the draft. We talk all spring about the great high-ceiling prep arms, and when it’s nut-cutting time, teams flock to the security of the college player.

It’s a game, dammit!: Klaw, I just don’t see the point of all the finger-wagging and clutching of pearls by some players and broadcasters at walk-off celebrations. Loved the Khris Davis jump shot, e.g. Considering that we’re all just trying to wring as much joy from this weary life as possible before the galaxies collide, why is a bit of fun and entertainment so decried?
Klaw: I’ve got no issue with Davis’ jump shot or Bautista’s bat flip. Celebrations are great. You start taunting other players, throwing punches, going in spikes-up – that’s another story. But celebrating the positives is to be encouraged.

Brian: Would you ever take a HS arm at 1-1?
Klaw: Yes. I would have taken Brady Aiken there, since at the time none of us knew he had an issue with his left elbow UCL.

Jeff: Klaw – have you ever met Bomani Jones in your time at ESPN? You are two of my favorite follows at ESPN, and I would pay to watch/listen to the two of you discuss current events/economics. It’d be like the anti-PTI.
Klaw: I have not but I enjoy much of his content and willingness to take principled stands.

Dan: Jake Fraley wasn’t included in your top 100 draft prospects, but does he have the tools to project as a MLB regular? Thanks.
Klaw: I think he’s more of an extra OF, but I’ll see him in Hoover next week and get a fresh look.

Alan: Every current Latino player is NOT qualified. Most don’t speak English, do not have a college education (I think 2 managers currently do not) or adequate high school education. All things are not equal here.
Klaw: Why is a college education required to be a major league manager? And plenty of current managers don’t speak Spanish, so I don’t see your language objection.

Greg: Trying to think of a comp for Nick Senzel. How does he compare to a draft prospect like Stephen Piscotty? Does Senzel have a chance to play 2B?
Klaw: The guy whose name keeps coming to my mind is Bill Mueller: Solid at third but unspectacular, best attribute was ability to hit. Senzel has more raw power than Mueller ever did, but has yet to show it in games. If you take Senzel 6th, as I have him in my latest mock, and get Bill Mueller (24 WAR, 11 year career), you actually did fairly well but I’m sure you wanted more. Senzel seems to offer the chance of more, though, if the power ever translates into games.

wickethewok: I’m surprised the Pirates are highest on Zack Burdi. Can see Huntington actually taking him in the first round in order to bolster the 2016 bullpen? As a fan, I’d be nervous about the second coming of Daniel Moskos.
Klaw: Fair concern but Burdi’s a lot better – 98-101 right now with a slider at something like 88-91. He could probably miss bats right away, although I don’t think the command is there yet.

BRB: Do you ever pull your punches because you know the guy on the receiving end is a real-life human being?
Klaw: I’m pretty careful about how I phrase criticisms of young players, especially high school kids. A friend told me about nine years ago that he thought I was too critical in my writeups of some teenagers and I worked to tone it down and focus at least as much on what the player can do than on what he can’t.

Zorak: So Eric Longerhagen is now switching teams over to fangraphs. Did you negotiate for anything in return? A promise to stop having Eno’s chat directly compete with yours? Really though, I’ve been impressed with his coverage as a compliment to yours, and wish him all the best.
Klaw: Eric did great work for me and I’m happy he’ll get a chance to do this stuff full-time. I’ve been very lucky over the years to have some great people working with me on the draft blog.

Anthony: What are your thoughts on Pomeranz to start the year? Looks like he’s throwing offspeed stuff much more frequently and added a cutter to his repertoire. Is this success sustainable?
Klaw: I think so. Not a sub-2 ERA guy, of course, but say 3-3.50 the rest of the way (factoring in the friendliness of Petco)? I’d accept that.

Michael: How do you generally respond to fallacies in person, not on Twitter? Someone yesterday equated my lack of skepticism over the NBA lottery being fixed (there’s no evidence) with me not supporting science and math because they are built on skepticism…
Klaw: Same way. Someone throws a fallacious argument at me, I point it out. The alternatives are to try to reason with it (terrible idea) or ignore it and walk away (I’ve done that too).

Or: What’s your read of Ryan Cordell’s start? Is the improvement real?
Klaw: He’s 24 in AA and had half a season there last year too. Tough to get much of a read on him given that.

Eric: Aaron Nola was widely projected to be a good mid-rotation guy, but he’s performed like an ace this season. Do you think his currently level of production is sustainable?
Klaw: Curveball is much improved since the start of 2015. Definitely think he’s a better pitcher now than anyone, myself included, believed he’d be.

Joe: Do you know what the Orioles see in Rickard? I see a below average hitter and fielder. I can’t understand why he plays everyday and bats leadoff.
Klaw: I don’t either. Maybe he plays the game the right way.

Dan: Parenting/Baseball advice needed. My 8 year old son is finishing up his baseball season. He is one of the better players on the team, if not the best – or at least he was. He started the season really strong and was having tons of fun. Now, he has been in a bad slump at the plate and it’s taken a lot of the fun out of it for him. Any tips/advice on how to help him out?
Klaw: I wish I did, but all I could suggest is giving him some time away from the game this summer.

Neudell: How often does a guy you have literally never heard of get drafted within the first few rounds? What is the highest one of these guys has been drafted since you’ve been covering the draft like this?
Klaw: Rangers did it in 2011 with Kevin Matthews at the very end of the first round. He was maybe a fifth-round talent, and walked almost a man an inning in his pro career around TJ surgery, eventually getting released last year after 132 pro innings. I had no notes on him at all when he was picked because none of the scouts I knew down there thought he was worth mentioning.

Mitch: Chris Tillman has notably increased his strikeout rate through 50+ IP this year (and also somewhat flukishly reduced his HR rate). Has he changed something to make the improvement sustainable?
Klaw: The lower HR rate is totally unsustainable and why I’m not buying into the breakout that much.

Jeff: Sup with all this “should the Angels trade Trout?” talk – it ain’t happening.
Klaw: It’s definitely not happening (although I think the idea has merit) and it’s probably time to move on.

DH: You have the Pirates considering Thaiss at 22. Do you think they view him as an option to stay at catcher? If not, does he have enough pop to play a corner?
Klaw: I don’t think he’s a catcher long term. I think he can hit, though.

Neudell: I read an article about a movement afoot to forbid universities from getting athletes to commit until the middle of their junior years. It seems like it will be good for both sides of the equation….kids won’t be trying to decide where to spend their college years when they are 13 or 14; and, schools won’t be racing to land kids who may regress in relation to their peers over the last 2 or 3 years of high school. What are your thoughts?
Klaw: I’m all for that. I’d also like to see the end of the rule that requires players to sit out a year after transferring.

James: Best pop up prospect this year’s draft?
Klaw: Justin Dunn. Jeff Belge. Maybe Taylor Trammell.

Philip: Done is unfair to Longoria, as he still is a strong defender and above average hitter
Klaw: Yes, sorry, in his case I think it’s more a question of how he went from being a 7-WAR player at 23 to half that at 29.

Brian: We all know Dan Vogelbach is a DH. And stats from the PCL aren’t to be trusted. But is Dan Vogelbach worth anything in a trade? Can he be a secondary piece in any kind of meaningful move?
Klaw: Yes, I think he can.

Anonymous: Reading about AJ Puk, how likely do you think his delivery issues will mean he’s a reliever? Scouting the stat line and just a couple of other people’s reports, he looks kind of like Andrew Miller.
Klaw: I’ve heard the Drew Pomeranz comp on him too, another big SEC lefty with some delivery issues. I don’t see Puk as a reliever, but I don’t think he’ll have average command or downhill plane with his current delivery.

Erik: Or how about telling this 540,000 people to grow up. If you don’t like the name, ignore them or root for them to lose. The nickname a football team has zero actual impact on anyone’s life unless they let it bother them
Klaw: Yet there has to be some point at which you’d join the 540,000, right? Would you accept a team with a nickname like the n-word? or a comparable slur against Jews or Asian-Americans or gays? My stance, whether you agree or not, is internally consistent: No slurs as team names.

Nick: What’s your favorite restaurant in Disney World?
Klaw: Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Elton: Aren’t you writing a book or something? Give us some intel please (and other ways to fund you … maybe design a board game?)
Klaw: I am writing a book, due out in April. I believe Harper Collins will announce it when we settle on a title.

Robert: What happens if more people are offended by the team being forced to change its name? I don’t agree with that thinking, but your response indicates the level of people offended by something should be a factor. Someone will argue that works both ways.
Klaw: The idea of “offense” at the removal of an ethnic slur is highly comical.

Ernie Camacho: How much should Bradley Zimmer’s 30% K rate in Akron worry me?
Klaw: It’s keeping him off my top 25 prospects update for next week.

Drew: Biggest concern with K. Lewis ? Like his upside for the Reds but feel that I like Senzel more with his all around game. How strong do you think Reds interest in Delvin Perez ? Thanks
Klaw: I think the Reds are out on Delvin. Lewis’ biggest issue is lack of at bats against good competition. He swings and misses a bit too much and is in a mid-major-at-best conference. I also wish he ran better but that might be a quibble.

Jeff R: Thank you for not sticking to baseball.
Klaw: I couldn’t if I tried.

Ryan: How many players do teams in the late first round truly consider? If they pick 25th, do they just make a list of 25 guys?
Klaw: You have to. Every year I hear of a team that has that happen – they list 25 guys for the 25th pick and 24 of them are taken in picks 1 through 24. In fact, I believe that happened to Cleveland last year, and the only name left was Aiken.

Bo: For someone who finds an awful lot of things to be offended by, and in some situations goes out of his way to be offended by things, you must understand that some people will absolutely take exception to bat flips such as Bautista’s, as they genuinely do consider it taunting. Might not be intended that way, but sometimes it comes across that way.
Klaw: Sure, I absolutely understand that. I personally don’t see it that way. Although your claim that I go out of my way to be offended is really fucking stupid.

Jason: Peter O’Brian anymore than a fourth outfielder?
Klaw: Don’t think so. Bad defender with a below-average hit tool. I don’t have to tell you about the power, though.

RobM: I know you’ve argued that a high school pitcher drafted should sign with a MLB team, but what happens if the pitcher drops due to a non-career-threatening injury, or because weather prevented them from getting properly scouted? Can the argument be made they should then head to college?
Klaw: Yes, that’s also reasonable. If Ian Anderson goes to Vanderbilt he might be 1-1 in three years.

Dave: Have a mail-order coffee roaster recommendation? For bonus points – favorite variety?
Klaw: Too many to name, but I’ll mention Intelligentsia (any time they have Gesha, also loved the Aqua Preta Ltd as an espresso and the current Zambian offering), Four Barrel (Rwanda Musabiymana), or anything from Cartel or Heart.

Drew: One time a few years ago you torched me pretty good in one of your chats. What I did, since I’m a goddamned grown up, is went on with my life because whatever, a guy on the internet said something that stung.
Klaw: Literal LOL at this. Thanks for that – and for still being here despite whatever I did.

Jeff: I’ve heard that before his injury, Cal Quantrill was a potential 1-1 guy in this years draft. Assuming he comes back fine, how high is his ceiling and what makes him exceptional?
Klaw: We think so, but really, who knows if he would have been 1-1? He didn’t pitch so he couldn’t disprove the assertion. Alec Hanson was 1-1 good last spring, and now he’s out of the first round.

Philip: Any thoughts on Jacob Nix from scouts? He’s done well statistically, but obviously can’t just scout statline and he isn’t getting extended beyond 75 pitches
Klaw: Have heard very good things – FB and CB both still there, CH improving.

Erik: Why do you care about a player’s off-field behavior? When I buy tickets I want to see the possible product on the field. As long as they are available on game day, I couldn’t care less what a player may have been accused of. That goes for all fields. If you are among the very best at what you do, we should all want that person doing that job.
Klaw: I care about it if it affects his ability to do that job, may affect his teammates’ ability to do that job, may land him in jail, or may result in harm to another person. I don’t care if he’s just a jerk or a brony or whatever.

JB: I know the chances of Bundy ever returning to starting are slim, but what are the chances he can end up a high leverage reliever?
Klaw: I don’t know what the odds are he becomes something better than what he is now. He looks like a shell of his pre-injury self.

steve: I know you said at the begining of the season Folty might profile as a reliever. Seems impressive the past 3 games. Think he can stick in the rotation. I know you were high on him before.
Klaw: Tiny sample but promising. Same for Jonathan Gray, although there I’m buying a little earlier because this is really what he looked like before the Rockies’ PD folks tinkered with his delivery. (They need to stop doing that.)

Collin: The thing I’m most intrigued about in this draft are the character concerns regarding Delvin Perez. Are they as easily explainable as “he’s so much better than the competition in Puerto Rico he doesn’t have to work as hard as he should,” or is it, “if we give this kid some money he will cash his checks and phone it in?”
Klaw: It’s more that he doesn’t always seem to work hard or take responsibilities seriously, and he’s acted out on the field in ways that aren’t appropriate for a high school senior (like taunting opponents or jawing at an opposing coach). I also think it can all improve with age and getting him with the right coach or teammates. It’s not like he’s a budding sociopath.

AH: Klaw you’re a smart guy and far and away my favorite baseball writer. But How do you manage to attract the Twitter cesspool? Better yet, how does it not drive you insane?
Klaw: Klaw 21 minutes ago

Karla: Not an a question just sharing an essay you might find interesting.
Klaw: Thank you – this looks very interesting.

John: Kevin Newman has struck out 7 times in 143 PA and has a .418 OBP this year. Is it time for him to get called up to AA?
Klaw: I think that’s fair. I’d like to see him hit for some more doubles power, though.

Jay: Have you seen much of Tyler Beede this year? Do you see him potentially being called up later this year? What do you view as his ceiling?
Klaw: I haven’t seen any pro stuff in about a month because it’s all draft all the time right now. I’ll resume seeing pro guys after June 11th. I don’t have Beede as more than an average starter because of the poor fastball command.

addoeh: The theory of trading someone like Trout is worth discussing, like the Gretzky trade or Walker trade. But the practice of actually trading him now isn’t worth discussing. Is that fair?
Klaw: A good summary of the situation. Did the Gretzky trade work out for Edmonton? I can’t recall. The Walker deal worked out for Dallas, I’d say.

Ben: Is there any chance that JB Woodman sneaks into the top 3 Rounds? He’s been on a tear against SEC pitching this year (.340/.434/.640 in conference games), although he did miss Florida and Vandy.
Klaw: And struck out in literally half his at bats on the Cape. He’s not a top three rounds guy.

Brian: Keith, can you explain to me the investigation MLB seems to be making on the Red Sox pooling of international money. I understand the basics, but most of what I read says it’s a fairly common practice and not even against the rules. So why do they even investigate it?
Klaw: Oh it’s against the rules all right. It’s also a common practice but something here triggered an investigation. You can’t circumvent the bonus pool limits by spreading the money across multiple players who then redistribute it after the fact. If that’s what happened, the team will be penalized. The players will not be disciplined, however.

Chris (Chicago): Did you hear any of the new Wolf Parade EP? If so, any thoughts? It’s great that they’re back after their hiatus.
Klaw: Yep, got a track from that on my playlist for the end of this month.

JD: Are you planning to try Pandemic Legacy? Hard to see how you’d fit it in your schedule, but we’re a couple sessions in and it’s phenomenal.
Klaw: I have no interest in a game that requires that many sessions to play. We change up what we play often and I always have more games to review.

Scott: Were you ever a basketball fan growing up?
Klaw: It was my least favorite sport to watch. I preferred soccer to hoops.

Andrew: Thanks for being so outspoken about your anxiety Keith. I actually suffer from bipolar disorder. When your “manic” you can pretty much do anything. My motivation to do things wasn’t always there but it was for the time when the manic episode went away and now I’m back to square one where I lack motivation. Any advice on what I can do to help motivate myself again? The only thing I can think of is possibly getting a girlfriend who I’d want to be my best self for.
Klaw: I’m not a therapist but I think a therapist would say that you have to be able to do this for yourself rather than relying on another person to be your motivation. Exercise and perhaps medication (which you may already be on) seem like two safe bets.

Elton: “Ticket To Slide: My Year of Playing Board Games with Baseball’s Top Prospects in America’s Top Restaurants”. You won’t get a more compelling book title than that.
Klaw: Step 3: Profit.

Chris (Chicago): I have a 6yo daughter that is severely allergic to peanuts. She loves baseball, but we can’t take her to games because our local team has no designated, nut-free section. Her allergy isn’t that uncommon, but baseball doesn’t seem very accommodating yet. How much longer until they get up to speed? My kid feels different enough when she has to sit at the “peanut-free” table at school or can’t eat cake at parties. It just really sucks.
Klaw: I feel like I’ve heard of other teams doing this. Also, have you looked into the microdose treatments for peanut allergies? If my daughter had developed that allergy we were going to pursue the treatment, because of just what you describe. You must be afraid for her all the time.

Scott: As a huge fan of your writing, I look forward to seeing a new article, post and chat both here and other outlets. But I was curious as to your thoughts on the value of your time in writing the revisionist draft history pieces. Is this something you are assigned or something you see as worth examining because it has value to how teams make decisions presently?
Klaw: I find them incredibly fun to revisit. Readers like them and folks within MLB mention enjoying them too. Plus I love some of the old draft stories like the area guy who pounded the table for Chris Archer in Cleveland. (Also, “Cleveland Archer” was the Westchester County DA in the Nero Wolfe stories. I just wanted to mention that.)

Dan: JP Crawford has been walking a ton this year; he’s at 18% BB rate so far. Do you know if this is a concerted effort to walk more this season? Is that a long-term part of his hit tool?
Klaw: He has always had outstanding plate discipline. I’ve been talking that up since he was first in pro ball.

RobM: Don’t let the forces of evil and stupid on Twitter cause you to leave. Most people who follow you are silent but love the content. Remember the good.
Klaw: Thank you. I couldn’t leave. I guess I could tweet less, but I worry I’d miss the good stuff.

Jon: At what point do the Mets give Dom Smith a chance now that his power seems to be coming around? Or is 1B still Duda’s for the foreseeable future?
Klaw: I think next year we see Smith at some point.

Dave: Thanks for the chats. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but you seem to really enjoy the give and take. Anyway, I don’t expect Jackie Bradly Jr.’s to maintain this pace all year. But what do you expect is the new normal for JBJ’s offence and what is he doing different. Thanks
Klaw: I do absolutely enjoy the give and take until someone gets personal (why would I go out of my way to take offense? I just say what I think, nothing more). As for JBJ, it seems like he’s much more aggressive earlier in the count. He’s not the player I thought he’d be – I thought he’d be good, but not this shape of production, more patient with higher contact rather than this less patient more powerful version.

Chris: Seen a couple “Kershaw might be the best pitcher ever” stories of late. Who is the best pitcher of the “modern era” in your opinion?
Klaw: Pedro. But Kershaw’s creepin’.

Vinnie: Would a guy with below average velocity, but excellent movement and command ever get drafted inside the top 10 rounds? i.e., would amateur Greg Maddux be a 30th round pick because of his lack of velo?
Klaw: Maddux threw low 90s as an amateur. But Thomas Eshelman is what you’re talking about and he was a second rounder last year I believe.

Andrew: Would you ever consider working for an MLB team ever again?
Klaw: The career advice I give to people who ask – don’t rule anything out, because you don’t want to close doors on any opportunities you might not expect – applies to me to. I don’t plan on it, but I wouldn’t tell you “no.”

Chris (Chicago): Are Oreos still your kryptonite? I just ate half a sleeve and now feel so much shame.
Klaw: Yeah. Just can’t have them in the house.

Klaw: That’s all for this week – thank you all for reading and for all of your questions. I’ll be at the SEC tournament next week so the chat day may change. If you’re attending Wednesday or Thursday, I’d love to meet you in person. Enjoy your weekends.

Stick to baseball, 5/14/16.

My first Big Board for the 2016 draft (assembled with an assist from Eric Longenhagen) went up for Insiders this week. I’ll have my 2006 redraft piece up Monday, and then my first mock (as in, an actual first-round projection) on Wednesday.

I also wrote a free news item on MLB’s investigation of the Red Sox’s July 2nd signings, and held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

Klawchat 5/12/16.

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Klaw: This is a low-flying panic attack. Klawchat.

Nick: As a Phillies fan, a lot was made of Nick Williams “improved” plate discipline but since joining the Phillies’ org he’s walked in 3.4% of his PAs. I tried to tell people he had a random spike in May 2015 but they wouldn’t listen… It also got me thinking about Domonic Brown and those two months in 2013. How do you approach these sometimes lengthy statistical spikes in evaluating a player?
Klaw: Now at 18 walks since June 1st of last year in over 400 PA. He can hit and has power, but there’s scant evidence he has any semblance of plate discipline. In his case, I felt somewhat comfortable dismissing or at least downplaying the walk spike because he had three months of playing time after that May bump where his walk rate returned to previously established levels. It’s harder to distinguish when the spike comes in August, or after the All-Star Break, and then it becomes in my mind a question for the scouts: Did the player actually change? Were his mechanics different, or his approach within at bats?

Kevin: I see on your top 100 you have wentz ahead of pint. I have seen both twice this year and agree with you but from what I’ve seen it seems like the industry likes pint more. Do you believe you’re in minority on having wentz above pint? And if so what do you think causes teams to see it this way is it just a pure arm strength bet?
Klaw: I don’t think there’s a strong consensus on this one but it might be 60/40 in favor of Pint, because he throws 100 and you’re not getting fired for taking the guy who throws 100 because if he flops you can always say “but he threw 100!”

Nick: Who are your top sleepers for the draft this year?
Klaw: I don’t know that I have sleepers, but I ranked the top 100 guys with Eric’s help and you might see players higher than you expected on our list. Someone like Ryan Rolison, for example, who I think is an ideal second-pick overpay for a team with lots of money – a polished HS arm with some projection, not a top-10 or top-15 talent by any means but comfortably in the next tier for about half the price of a Pint or Groome.

Paul: I’m a Braves fan. I want Corey Ray. A friend of mine read your Lankford comp and thus is unexcited by him. I presented to him the top 25 position players, by fWAR, from ’95-’98: Bonds, Griffey, Piazza, Bagwell, Biggio, McGwire, Edgar, Knoblauch, Thome, Big Hurt, Vaughn, Lankford, Larkin, Belle, Pudge, ARod, Sosa, Palmeiro, Bernie, Walker, Chipper, Valentin, Lofton, Edmonds, Manny. Seems to me that someone whose 4yr peack performance was right smack dab in the middle of a bunch of HOF’ers, and with a chance to be that for more than 4 years, is something to drool over, and certainly worthy of the 3rd (or 1st) overall pick.
Klaw: I have him ranked 1 right now, and you’ve reasonably well explained my logic. If he’s an above-average regular for five years, that’s a successful outcome. His floor seems pretty high – I’d argue he and Senzel have the highest realistic floors (think pessimistic forecast, but not so pessimistic that you’re thinking he gets hurt or forgets how to play) in the class. Ray has solid upside, maybe fringe star potential, and you’re almost certainly getting an everyday player. Senzel doesn’t seem to have star potential – I think he could be peak Bill Mueller, who was a pretty damn good player but probably never a star – while I think the industry as a whole is most certain of his hit tool out of all bats in the class.

Bryan: Any recent buzz about who the Braves are connected to at 3?
Klaw: All of this stuff is in my top 100 from yesterday – I took all the decent or reliable dope I had and put it in the comments. I’ll do a full mock of the first round next Wednesday. My guess right now is Puk, Senzel, Ray, Groome, Perez for the top five. The Phillies seem to be on Puk, Lewis, Ray, perhaps Senzel, and maybe Moniak but I think that’s more “we really like him, just not at 1.”

Yolo-potato: Out of Moniak, Pint or Groome who is most likely to slip to the Padres at 8? Who do you think is the best out of those 3?
Klaw: Pint most likely. Ranking yesterday has the answer to your second question. I also think they’d jump at Perez if he’s there, or Matt Manning.

Jake: Is Machado now the best player in baseball?
Klaw: No. That player is a National and was just suspended for one game.

Patrick: Do you see josh Ockimey making it to prospect status or just a guy putting up good numbers in Low-A for Red Sox?
Klaw: He’s a prospect. Two Red Sox guys told me in March he was primed for a breakout season, and I saw he’d changed his body quite a bit (in a good way).

Matt: Thoughts on Rio2016 after the Harvard Health report? MLB moved the PR game, but this is a massive difference.
Klaw: They should move the Olympics. No question. Rio was already a disaster before Zika; this should just be the issue that pushes it past the inflection point.

Ryan: I know the swing and miss is the biggest reason you’re more down on Kyle Lewis than most. From what you’ve seen of his swing, is it fixable? Are there things a pro team could do to help him make more contact?
Klaw: It’s not a swing issue.

Steve: In 19 games at AA, Alex Bregman is at .314/.422/.671, with 7 HRs. Could he be in Houston soon? Where would they play him?
Klaw: I think he could play in the big leagues right now. I have no idea where they’d put him; his arm is going to be light for third base, but where else is there room?

Kevin: What is your opinion on Thomas Pnychon? I found Gravity’s Rainbow a slog to get through, but Mason & Dixon was a joy. Irrelevant, funny and fantastical.
Klaw: I loved Inherent Vice, loathed Gravity’s Rainbow, and just did not understand Lot 49.

Lyle: Dalton Kelly – 38th round pick out of UCSB for Seattle has a line of 355/442/464 in the MWL. (The MWL!) Anything of interest here? Or is he Just A Guy who’s had a hot month?
Klaw: You have got to look at the ages on these guys. He’s a 21-nearly-22-year-old college product in low A.

Jeff: Do you think a pitchers stats at the plate should be weighed when voting for Cy Young?
Klaw: No, of course not.

Jeff: Obviously Tyler Wilson isn’t this good and his BABIP and ERA will go up soon. What do you think his future is?
Klaw: Fifth starter. Below league-average. Doesn’t hurt that a third of his innings this year have come against the Twins.

Brian: Hello Keith, thanks for answering our questions. If you are Brian Cashman, which option would you choose to deal with Severino at this time. It is still early and it may or may not be a SSS but.. do you send him down to work on mechanics. ? Or do you leave him up here and try long relief or just keep the status quo and hope for the best ?
Klaw: Do they have a rotation replacement for him? If long relief were an option, I’d rather see that than send him down to dominate AAA hitters again. He’s already done that. Put him somewhere where he’ll be challenged and, if you trust your big league coaching staff, he can work with those coaches on whatever’s ailing him. I don’t have an easy answer; I can see his stuff is flat and up a lot, but is that mechanical? His delivery is the same (I’ve never liked it) as last year, right?

Raymond Gotha II: Klaw, my first time making it over to the new format!! Has your outlook on the Softball O’s changed?
Klaw: I think they’re a .500 team, which is about what they’ve been after the winning streak ended. The pitching is just too light. Gausman’s been better, although he should still miss a lot more bats with his stuff. Tillman’s not going to give up a homer every 40 innings all year.

Ben: What was your impression of Brandon Waddell coming out of Virginia? And have his first 40 IP this year made him worth watching going forward?
Klaw: Just a guy. Throws strikes, fringy stuff.

Jon: Glasnow and Taillon have been getting all the attention, but Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault have been putting up excellent numbers for Indianapolis this season. Do the Pirates have anything coming with those guys as well?
Klaw: Kuhl’s a prospect as a two-pitch reliever. Brault maybe less. Glasnow and Taillon get the attention because they profile as starters, and I’d bet one or both are up by this time next month.

AA Battery: Still SSS this year, but adding last year is it time to think that Puig won’t be able to really figure it out? Just can’t seem to stop swinging and missing…
Klaw: Can’t seem to hit a good fastball any more. Is it conditioning? Approach? Hard to believe he’s no longer the player he was in his first two seasons but you can absolutely pitch to him now.

Al: Do you think Oakland could go with a HS player like Moniak, Manning, Rutherford at #6?
Klaw: I have only heard them with college bats.

Bruce: You dont really talk about craft beer as much as food. Are you just not much of a beer drinker?
Klaw: I love beer. It doesn’t love me back.

Brian: Curious if you read jim bowden’s article up today about mlb execs and proposals for the new CBA. specifically related to the draft eligible players some GMs think players should have to “opt-in” so teams don’t lose picks when they decide to go back to school instead of signing. the other was to assign a set $ to each pick in the draft as opposed to a sliding pool. Pretty obvious both those proposals clearly benefit one side while screwing over the other. What are your thoughts?
Klaw: You lost me in your first seven words.

Kyle S: Can an MLB team legitimately tank? The players are playing hard because they want future jobs, the coaches and manager are in the same boat. Top picks aren’t guaranteed to be a future success so isn’t it at best a very risky proposal?
Klaw: I agree. It’s not “tanking” in the sense that the Sixers have been tanking since before I moved here. It’s actually the correct strategy for a non-contender given the current CBA in baseball.

darius: What is your view on Jameson Taillon, and has it changed with his strong AAA start? Strong 2? Potential 1 as a starter?
Klaw: A two. Never saw the command or changeup for an ace. Has size, velocity, potential out pitch in the slider. Kid’s a worker too. Really pulling for him this year after the disappointment of 2015.

Bret: What are your thoughts on the election going on in the States?
Klaw: I haven’t heard about this.

Eric: Keith, what do you know about Brent Honeywell besides having a sweet name it seems he also has a sweet screwball. He is dominating in advanced A Ball right now, do you know of any other top 100 prospects over the last few years that featured a screwball as his top secondary pitch? How would you rate his potential possible #2 starter?
Klaw: The Rays have deemphasized his screwball, so he’s more than just a novelty guy (he was that in college, though, so you’re not off base). I don’t think he rates quite that high; all the scouts I asked about him in the offseason had him as somewhere around a 4th starter.

Chris: The Mets seem to move their young hitters slowly through minors. Conforto spent some extra time in Brooklyn, Smith did a full year in High-A, and Rosario currently sticking around Port St. Lucie. Is this reflective of an organizational approach? Do you think it’s productive to let young guys get to the point of killing competition before being promoted?
Klaw: Conforto was a total cock-up. They’re just lucky he’s as good as he is because they mishandled him from day one. Smith is still very young for AA, and while Rosario should be in Binghamton now, he won’t be old for that level either. I don’t have a problem with how either of those guys have been handled.

K Welzein: I know the results are SSS, but is there anything you have seen in Almedys Diaz mechanically or in his approach at the plate that suggests he can be a regular to slightly above-average regular offensively for the Cardinals?
Klaw: Actually I’d just argue that anyone who can put the ball in play this often and play a competent middle infield is a regular. Even at a league-average BABIP, which would be much more in line with his time in the minors, he’d be that.

Matias: How is it possible that Bradley Jr went from being “trash”, talked about a potential trade for a mediocre Mariners reliever, to this exciting player that is putting great numbers, with some pop? Between the last months of last season and this start, we cant say its small sample size, right?
Klaw: Well, he was never trash, right? People buried him based on what was still a small sample but didn’t look like one. The part that’s surprising to me is that he’s hitting for average AND power. I thought he could do one or the other. I still kind of think with his low contact rate, he’s going to see the average drop, and he kind of has to sell out a little bit to get to this power. I’d rather see him cut down on the swing a little to improve his contact rate, but that’s kind of a stupid criticism when the guy is hitting .322 and slugging .610.

Ants: Given his start, is Tyler O’Neill now the #1 Mariners prospect? Would he crack in to the top 100 if re-evaulated today?
Klaw: I’ll accept the case for him as their top guy, given who else is/was ahead of him. His power is legit; it was the one thing I saw from him on the positive side in Fall League. But we’re still firmly in SSS territory and I’d like to see him maintain this better plate discipline for a full year, especially since he is right field only and has to hit to be an impact guy. (That sounds too negative. He’s definitely a prospect.)

Joey Butts: You’re an MLB GM. You’re interested in a potential draft pick that had previously been accused (but not convicted) of a serious domestic violence crime. What would the player have to say or do wherein you would feel okay in drafting him?
Klaw: Nothing. I’m out. Men who do that, or who sexually assault women, are not fixable.

Guesto: Any noteworthy prospects out of the state of Louisiana on your radar? LSU, Tulane, UNO are pretty good programs this season.
Klaw: Not for this draft. Good programs, yes, but not draft prospects.

Anonymous: Do you think Byron Buxton will pain out?
Klaw: I think he’ll pan out. He may cause Twins fans some pain until he does.

Kevin: Are Delvin Perez’s makeup concerns about maturity or are they of the Matt Bush variety?
Klaw: Maturity. Bush’s makeup turned out to be so much worse than I’d ever heard before he was drafted.

Marshall: Klaw great work by you and Longenhagen getting the top 100 together. You have (I think you have at least) characterized the draft a little weak at the top as compared to other years. What if any, are the strengths of this draft as compared to years past?
Klaw: Klaw about an hour ago

Paille: Can’t remember you ever wavering on J Bradley Jr as a starting major league center fielder
Klaw: Thank you, I don’t think I did. Weird thing is that I think UZR has his defense below average so far this year (very SSS). I thought he was a 7 defender out there, easy like Sunday morning.

addoeh: Are the number of years the biggest holdup for a Arrieta deal with the Cubs? I figure Cubs looking at 4-5 years with Arrieta 6-7 years.
Klaw: Seems like Arrieta wants free agent money/length which would be 6-8 years and there is no shot IMO the cubs do that.

wrburgess: Do you still see Amir Garrett and Daniel Mengden as bullpen guys? Is the SSS still too small to change the perspective?
Klaw: Did I? I thought I gave both guys a chance to start. Mengden is more command than stuff; Garrett more stuff than command or feel.

Mark: Dylan Cozens showing impressive power and decent walks rates but still striking out a little too much. Is he doing enough to warrant discussion as the Phillies RF of the future?
Klaw: No. And he’s basically doing it all at Reading, which is a good HR park.

Garrett: Having seemingly learn from the Peraza mistake, it looks like the Braves are letting Albies and Swanson each play SS until they are forced to make a decision. In there anything besides positional scarcity and future financials that makes it truly matter where either ends up?
Klaw: Not really. I think both could handle it.

Kay: Gsellman & Ynoa – useful pieces, despite very low K #s? Or just no place to make use of them on a crowded staff – they don’t strike me as ideal relievers.
Klaw: Useful pieces. Maybe as trade bait. Gsellman’s picked up a little velo now and it’s easier to buy him as a starter in the low 90s.

Matt: How often do players actually give a “hometown discount” to a team that happened to draft them- in reference to some criticism Arrieta seems to be taking over his refusal to offer such discounting?
Klaw: Very rare, and honestly, fuck off with demanding someone else take less money from a billionaire owner just to make some guy a happy fan.

BD: Brian Goodwin is at .330/.393/.500 at AAA. 25 yrs old. Back to being a prospect to you?
Klaw: No, not at that age and after three full years of failure, including a failed stint in AAA in 2014 and a demotion last year. I’d need more than 119 AB to buy back in.

Ben: Is it wrong to assume that Oakland favors college players? They’ve drafted HS players high in the past.
Klaw: I’m not assuming anything. That’s not how I do this. I talk to lots of sources to find out which teams are on which players.

Aaron: Kyle Zimmer. I know there is a lot of swing and miss there. But isn’t he better than anything else Cleveland is running out there?
Klaw: That would be Brad and he’s not ready for major league pitching.

Anonymous: Does Moncada make his debut in the majors this year and have a chance to compete for a full time job next year or should I add a year to both those?
Klaw: Add at least a year.

Fritz: How do you feel about A Moon Shaped Pool? Best since In Rainbows? Dismissed for lack of hyphens in the title?
Klaw: No idea. It’s not on Spotify and I don’t subscribe to those other services.

Kevin: Casey Gillaspie hitting .312 /.458/.570 in AA… hot start or something real?
Klaw: This might be something real. He’s doing everything that scouts who liked him in college (I did not, full disclosure) expected him to do, and he’s controlling the strike zone extremely well. Definitely bears watching.

Adam: How low would Groome have to get drafted to wind up at Vanderbilt?
Klaw: Not happening. Ignore the local media – some of those writers have been talking out of their asses this spring. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Justin R: Do you have any interest in murder mysteries/potboilers or not your genre?
Klaw: Yep, love Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, etc. Got two Lord Wimsey mysteries on my Kindle app now.

Anonymous: As a Phillies fan, I’m all aboard the Corey Ray Train. Do think they could get him for under slot and use the extra money in the later rounds?
Klaw: No one is getting full slot at 1-1. It’s a question for the Phillies of who’ll save them the most money relative to their valuation of the player – would you rather have Ray at $6 million or Senzel at $7 million or Puk at $5 million? (I made those numbers up, BTW.)

Steve: Zika is going to be in many places in the US this summer. Should they cancel the MLB season?
Klaw: I’ve spoken to a few experts about this one. Yes, Zika is coming. But we have much better mosquito-fighting programs here, and – here’s where I learned something – we have air conditioning, which drastically curtails the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses.

Aaron: How long do you leave Buxton at AAA? Is this a skill issue or confidence issue?
Klaw: I think it was a confidence issue. Don’t rush him back up. The major-league team isn’t going anywhere. But I wish they’d kept Kepler up to get those at bats.

John: Any chance Dylan Carlson sneaks into supp round?
Klaw: Yes but I think that’s a reach for a power-before-bat 1b-only guy. I had him at 100 on the list.

Scrapper: This stuff about Trea Turner needing to work on stuff is just “blah, blah, blah” shorthand for service time considerations, right? Why am I feeling differently about this than Kris Bryant’s 9 days last year?
Klaw: Yes. And because two months of Turner is a lot bigger deal than nine days of Bryant. If the Mets edge the Nats by a game for the division title, Nats fans will have reason to look at this decision with rage.

Anthony: Keith, rhp Luca Dalatri threw last night in the NJ championship game. He picking up any steam for the draft? A lot of scouts there.
Klaw: No, he’s a college guy.

J Shep: Do you think Nyquist wins the Preakness? If not, got a sleeper?
Klaw: I am not concerned with the Preakness, and the Preakness will not be concerned with me.

Brian: To offer us some context on this draft class, would the guys in the discussion for the top couple picks have been in the top 5 or top 10 in previous drafts?
Klaw: Yes. But I don’t think the guys in the mix for 1-1 would have been in the mix for that spot in any draft since 2006’s.

Guesto: What’s Trevor May’s outlook going forward? Pitching only out of the bullpen for the Twins, but he’s 26 and was valued at roughly 2 WAR in 2015 (when he made 16 starts). He’s a good bullpen arm, but feels like wasted talent by not starting.
Klaw: I think he’s a reliever. Has never shown the command to start.

Nick: Does Zack Collins to the Indians make sense? I know you don’t draft on need, but based on the few write-ups I have read he seems like someone who could move to a position like 1B rather quickly, and could help out a team like Cleveland that needs bats.
Klaw: It makes sense, they like him, but I don’t think he gets to them.

Jack: Does AJ Puk have a chance to be a number 1 in your opinion?
Klaw: No. However, I’m going to Gainesville Friday and Saturday and will see at least part of Puk’s start on Saturday before my flight back.

Josh: You were one of the first well-known baseball writers to get on the Schoop train. Still a believer, and is he a potential multi GG winner at 2B?
Klaw: Still a believer. Not sure about Gold Gloves though. He’s got to hit enough to win one of those.

Matthias: Do you have a go-to technique for duck breasts? I can get a result that is decent, and certainly better than chicken breasts, but not as good as the price would warrant. Related: made my first duck stock with carcass/bones from butchering a whole duck and holy crap! I did not realize that stock could be solid at room temperature.
Klaw: Best stock you’ll ever make. I sear duck breasts. I want to try to sous vide them some time, because getting them perfect in the center while searing them enough to get the skin crispy is a pain in the ass.

James: Keith, do you believe it should fall on the NFHS and NCAA to take better precautions to protect young pitchers from irreparable harm? I realize that kids are still going to blow out their arms, but isn’t it time for better regulations to at least limit the occurrences?
Klaw: Yes, it is. States are moving in this direction and I’d like to see the NCAA follow suit.

Kevin: Christian Stewart has had big power so far in Lakeland for the Tigers high A. Will he hit enough to be an everyday regular at a corner spot or is he more 4th OF type?
Klaw: I think he’s an everyday player. Power over hit, but enough hit to get there.

Josh: Do any of the international signings have a chance to be within the top 100 after signing in July?
Klaw: Unlikely. Maitan, maybe, but scouts I’ve talked to who’ve seen him say he’s the best prospect in VZ/DR this year but don’t speak of him the way they spoke of Sano in his signing year.

Dan-NJ: There is plenty awritten about the velocity of Benintendi moving through the ranks. He’s obviously overmatching A. Same w/ Rodgers – COL, but you don’t hear the same. Is it all about age/experience (SEC v. HS)? IMO, I would move both at the same speed if their results warranted.
Klaw: Well, one plays for Boston, and the other plays for … um … wait, I know this one …

Sean: KLAW – Ketel Marte has sure been a pleasant surprise for us Mariner fans that are used to all prospects going bust. He looks decent with the stick and able to play SS decently to my untrained eyes – what say you, Klaw?
Klaw: Breakout pick for me this year. I was too light on him as a prospect – he can really play short.

Sean: KLAW – SSS of course, but Zunino is hitting again! Is there still a player there?
Klaw: I think so. Rushed to the majors, got really worn down by catching. Good for the M’s for hanging on to him rather than giving up.

Bobby Evans: Should I be excited about my upcoming farm arm in rhp Sam Coonrod?
Klaw: Good reliever.

Alex: Why don’t big money teams go over the draft bonus pool like some do in the J2 signing? Losing a first round the next year and the 100% tax isn’t that tough when you have money to blow. Plus teams know more about draft prospects than the international prospects.
Klaw: I’ve asked this and been asked this and don’t have a great answer. I wonder if any team would call an audible, so to speak, before day two if an elite talent were just sitting there unpicked after day one, and decide to take him even if it meant punting on the following draft.

Matt: On Bregman, I don’t know anything about his defensive abilities, but the numbers say that Correa has not been a great defensive SS in the Majors. Any chance they could move Correa to 3B and have Bregman play SS?
Klaw: I’m defaulting to my old assessment of Correa’s future, which was that he’d be better off at third base. He did work his tail off to stay at short, but he might be elite at third. Worked out OK for Machado, at least.

Jeremy: Played 7 Wonders for the first time and was thoroughly confused by the instructions. Being a person who games a lot, do you have a go-to method for figuring out confusing rules?
Klaw: That game might have the most complicated written instructions for a game that’s actually quite simple and plays in under an hour. Usually we play once, screw up, and then go to Boardgamegeek to look at the Rules threads on the game.

KJ: Do you have a problem with Bryce Harper using naughty words?
Klaw: No. But I have a problem with him seeking out an ump postgame and saying what he said to that ump in full view of a camera.

Benny: Have you or Eric personally seen everyone on the top 100, or do you rely on the evaluations of your peers in the scouting community to rank the guys near the bottom of the list?
Klaw: Definitely haven’t seen everyone – impossible to see some of the pop-up guys lower down the list – but between last summer and this spring I think the only top 25 guy neither of us will see is Quantrill, who hasn’t pitched at all after TJ. Ian Anderson is the top guy I won’t see personally, I think, because he’s made just one official appearance around weather and his bout of pneumonia.

Marshall: At what point in your mind does SSS stop being a sample and simply becoming true reality …more than 150 at bats?
Klaw: Oh yeah. Double that and we can talk.

Sterling: Is Archie Bradley a AAAA pitcher, or do you still have faith? He can’t seem to get big league hitters to whiff.
Klaw: Put him in the 7th inning and tell him to air it out, fastball/curveball.

Raymond Gotha II: Did you ever see this type of potential out of Machado? I’m from B-More and I myself only saw something more like 300/350/475 with like 25 hr or so. I guess I was less dubious that the line drive and doubles power was gonna turn into 40hr power
Klaw: Loved him as an amateur – I ranked him 2nd in the class after Harper, over Taillon. Called him A-Rod Lite.

Ben: Reaction to Edwin Diaz’s conversion to RP?
Klaw: Expected. Think he could be very good there.

Travis: Is it still likely that Xander turns in to a 20 HR guy?
Klaw: I believe he will.

Bill: Have you heard any recent news on Kevin Maitan and the Braves? Are they still likely to sign him? Thanks.
Klaw: This has been locked in for a year already.

Jake: Where would Seth Beer have ranked?
Klaw: Impossible to say. If he were eligible, he’d be a nearly 20-year-old HS player and we’d all be downgrading him for that.

Alex: Re Louisiana prospects: Jake Rogers and Stephan Alemais at Tulane seems to be getting a fair share of love draft wise. You don’t see them as draft prospects?
Klaw: No, not in the top three rounds certainly.

Kevin: What college has the best baseball facilities that you have visited?
Klaw: LSU’s are ridiculous. They’re better than some MLB spring training facilities.

Hogie: Drew Ward at .301/.388/.549 . Still only 21. Back to being a prospect for you? If no- whats he gotta do?
Klaw: No. Repeating the level. Still needs to go to 1b.

Kay: Did I see you post something about Dylan Bundy throwing ~300 pitches as an amateur? How does that happen? I get that not every kid is gonna be a pro – but there are definitely going to be a few who never make it because of stupidity like this.
Klaw: Over the course of a 3-4 day tournament, yes. His dad would often brag about how Dylan had built up for this workload. Now the kid has calcification in his shoulder and can’t miss a bat. Orioles need to try to pass him through optional waivers so he can go to AAA.

Brad: Any chance Atlanta could get two of Will Benson, Lowe and Keiboom at 40 and 44?
Klaw: I think that’s very unlikely.

Michael: When a player like Kevin Pillar gets drafted so late and is never labeled a top prospect, do you consider that a scouting failure or just the randomness of the job?
Klaw: Just the randomness of the job. He’s got a .305 career OBP in the majors; he has to be an elite defensive CF to be anything at all.

Mike: Anything new on Cal Quantrill?
Klaw: Yes, in the top 100 post. You should read that. I spent a lot of time on it.

Tom: Already this season, Archer has reference “Of Mice and Men” and “Encyclopedia Brown.” If they feature “Animal Farm” and “The Great Brain” before season’s end, I might spontaneously combust.
Klaw: I gave up on the show with the Vice season.

Mike: Your description of Dylan Carlson sounds a lot like your feelings on Rowdy Tellez, who came out of the same high school. Do you see them as comparable players?
Klaw: No. Tellez was awful. DH only with power and no bat speed.

Tom: Level of 1 to PANIC how should I feel about Matz having forearm issues and missing his next start?
Klaw: It’s never good when a guy who’s had trouble staying healthy has another arm issue.

Jay: Did you hear that smelling farts can cure cancer?
Klaw: One study showed that reading Klawchat every week can make you last 30% longer in bed. Science is never wrong!

Ants: Have you read Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy? Thoughts?
Klaw: I thought Ancillary Justice was OK and haven’t read the rest.

Michael: The guys on the radio are saying Xander has to hit 20 home runs to be really good. What should I do with my radio?
Klaw: I don’t even own a radio.

Dave: You were high on Alec Hansen last November and have moved him down in your rankings after a lousy spring. How hard is it to know what you are going from him?
Klaw: You don’t until someone gets to check him out physically and see if there’s an injury behind the awful performance.

MTM: Gonsalves is slaying people in high A. Projections for him?
Klaw: Unchanged. Back-end starter. FB-CH, below avg breaking ball.

Greg: Does Ian Anderson fall in the draft because of his lack of pitching this spring? I wonder how much his short season will affect his stock, since his health woes weren’t related to his mechanics at all
Klaw: I have heard he could still go very high, because he was so good last summer, but yeah, it’s hard to go to your owner and say you want to give a kid $3 million based on ten innings of scouting.

Ridley Kemp: Have you ever been so repulsed by a book you just couldn’t finish it? That was Henry and June for me.
Klaw: Running With Scissors. Not so much that it was graphic, but that it was pandering. I finished Naked Lunch and Tropic of Cancer but didn’t like either of them.

forever it: Alex Verdugo killing it in AA as a 19-year-old. Has his ceiling risen for you since the start of the year?
Klaw: Nope. Because … wait for it … SSS.

Klaw: And that’s all for this week. Thanks as always for the questions. I’ll have the 2006 redraft column up on Monday, my first “mock” first-round projection on Wednesday, and another chat next Thursday. Hope to see a few of you in Gainesville this weekend.

Phoenix and Sacramento eats.

I was treated to dinner at opening night for Chris Bianco’s newest restaurant in Phoenix, Tratto, a place with – gasp – no pizza, just house-made pastas and other dishes inspired largely by regional Italian cuisine, especially the peasant foods that are near and dear to Bianco’s heart. While he’s made his name as both one of the country’s most prominent pizzaiolo’s and the king of Phoenix’s under-the-radar food scene, Bianco’s passion extends to all foods, and Tratto’s menu allows him to pursue that further by working with more local vendors and incorporating ingredients you’d never see on his pizzerias’ menus.

The menu at Tratto, which is next door to the Pizzeria Bianco location in the Town & Country shopping center at 20th and Highland, is going to change frequently, but the format is simple – a couple of starters, a couple of pasta dishes, a couple of mains, and a couple of desserts, two of each on the day I was there. I took Chris’s recommendations and ordered the beets, the tonnarelli, and the “piccolo” chicken, after which there was no room for anything else.

Opening night at the new pasta place from @pizzeriabianco

A photo posted by Keith Law (@mrkeithlaw) on

The tonnarelli was the star of the night, a dish of maybe five ingredients that showcased the pasta (also known as spaghetti alla chitarra, referring to the guitar-like device used to cut it) by coating it with a luxurious sauce without much else on the plate. Tonnarelli are thicker than most hand-cut pastas, like spaghetti but square in cross-section rather than round, so they have a substantial tooth to them and take longer to cook than flat shapes. Pasta alla gricia is cooked with guanciale, a type of cured meat like bacon but made from the pig’s jowls, that is rendered and tossed with the starchy pasta water to make a thick, salty sauce that’s finished with Pecorino Romano, itself a pungent, salty cheese of sheep’s milk. It’s like pasta alla carbonara without eggs. Tratto’s was perfect because the pasta was perfect, and the guanciale and cheese combine for a fatty, salty, umami-rich sauce that go particularly well with the various forms of alcohol available (Tratto has a well-stocked liquor bar, including an impressive collection of amaros).

Tonnarolli alla gricia – house made pasta with guanciale and pecorino Romano, also at Tratto

A photo posted by Keith Law (@mrkeithlaw) on

The “piccolo” chicken is not your ordinary four-pound broiler-fryer, but a local, uncaged variety that’s closer to pasture-raised in texture, bigger than a Cornish game hen but small enough that you could have that and a starter or side vegetable and call it a meal. Tratto splits the bird, roasts it, and finishes it under the salamander, and the bird is seasoned only with salt, pepper, lemon, and bay leaves. I rarely order chicken in restaurants, especially not anything with the white meat (which has no taste if we’re talking about a normal bird), but Chris said to me it’s both the best and the most expensive chicken he’s ever had in one of his restaurants, and it showed through in how much flavor the chicken had with minimal seasoning. I would have used the amazing bread to sop up the liquid on the plate but I’d already done that with the pasta.

The whole wood-roasted "piccolo chicken" at Tratto

A photo posted by Keith Law (@mrkeithlaw) on

The beets were the one dish I didn’t love – they were roasted perfectly, fork-tender, but as much as I love beets I think they need more acidity than the dish included, and the gorgonzola-based sauce didn’t quite get there. The breads, made over at Pane Bianco (which I’ve mentioned before, but has since been expanded and is now the central baking operation for the Bianco group, as well as an amazing sandwich shop with daily pizza al taglio specials), are spectacular, and the bar program at Tratto is also very impressive. I sat at the bar and got to admire the selection of high-end spirits and chat up the knowledgeable bartender as well, who fixed a “turmeric mule” for me with Ford’s Gin. They also have Amaro Montenegro, which is my favorite drinking bitters and I think a requirement for any real Italian place.

I had one meal in Sacramento, for which I solicited suggestions from my Twitter audience (including several dozen would-be comedians suggesting chains or fast-food places, which was rather unoriginal). Many of your best suggestions were closed on Monday night, my only evening there, but I did have a wonderful meal at Magpie, which one of you suggested with the hook that they have homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert. The highest praise I can offer this place is that I still enjoyed the meal despite having a painful migraine for most of it.

Magpie’s menu also changes frequently, but the two dishes I had prior to the main event both appear to be regular items. The crispy pork belly starter included several large cubes of perfectly-cooked belly, crispy on the exterior but tender on the interior, served with slivers of apricot, coriander honey, pickled onions, and frisee. Pork belly pairs well with anything sweet, but needs some tartness to cut that sweetness and the fattiness of the meat itself, which here came from both the sweet-tart apricots and the pickled onions. The duck confit salad was really two dishes in one bowl: A confit duck leg, served hot over roasted potatoes, served in the center of a salad of spring vegetables, including snap peas and English peas, as well as Brooks cherries and a cherry vinaigrette. I think if I ate this again, I’d ask for a separate plate so I could cut or shred the duck and then toss the meat into the salad, as it was hard to get all of the flavors into one bite. Duck and tart fruits pair so well together but I rarely got that combination, although the duck itself was nicely cooked and the potatoes had soaked up some flavor from sitting under the leg.

The ice cream sandwich, though, man … that’s good stuff. I don’t even love star anise, but the soft graham-like wafers had just a hint of star anise flavor around the central block of smooth vanilla ice cream. Whatever, I’m not going to do this dessert justice. It was big enough for two people to share and I nearly ate the whole thing despite the fact that I could barely hold my head up at this point. I’d like to go back there some time when I’m feeling okay and perhaps try one of their house cocktails too.

Stick to baseball, 5/5/16.

My one Insider piece this week was a draft blog post on Matt Manning, Nolan Jones, Blake Rutherford, and more, with all three of those guys possibly going in the top ten picks next month. Eric and I will post a top 100 ranking on Wednesday and my first mock will go up the following week. I also held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

I’ve signed up for Tinyletter and you can subscribe to my newsletter – which I think will be mostly links to my work – via that link.

And now, the links…

  • Thomas Friedman isn’t always my bag but his piece on the potential self-immolation of the Republican Party is measured and compelling, parceling out some blame to the other side as well.
  • OZY has a profile of geneticist Eric Vilain, who studies the relationship between our genes and our sexual orientations and identities. His conclusions are controversial and not always in line with the modern/progressive conventional wisdom, such as the claim that “while some gender-nonconforming boys later identify as trans women, the vast majority — more than 80 percent — outgrow their gender dysphoria by puberty, identifying as gay men.”
  • This is disturbing: A representative of the American Family Association, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that they’re sending men into women’s restrooms at Target to “test” the store’s transfriendly bathroom policy, but the AFA issued a curiously-worded denial. It seems like they’re saying they’re not “encouraging men” to do this, but the statement doesn’t deny they’ve sent members into women’s bathrooms, right?
  • My friend and colleague John Buccigross was the subject of a NY Times profile that focuses on his #bucciovertimechallenge idea, which has already raised six figures for hockey-related charities. John also has excellent taste in music, by the way.
  • I’m actually not a fan of James Baldwin’s signature work, Go Tell It On the Mountain, but I still recommend this profile of the influential gay African-American writer and poet from the New York Review of Books.
  • Five things you can do to help your brain “stay young,” or at least to try to keep it plastic as you age.
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal has become a farce of a newspaper, as the recent dismissal of Stephanie Grimes indicates.
  • I linked to this on Twitter in the aftermath of the Chiefs drafting Tyreek Hill, who beat and choked his pregnant girlfriend while at Oklahoma State, but it’s worth reposting: Women who’ve been strangled by their abusive partners are seven times more likely to end up homicide victims. Strangulation is not a felony crime in twelve states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania; if you’re in one of those states, contact your local legislator and see if you can help get the law changed.
  • Meanwhile, two hosts at WHB 610 in Kansas City, including Danny Parkins (on whose show I’ve appeared many times), set up a fundraising page for a local domestic violence shelter that has already raised over $12K.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation is starting a program to try to help communities isolated or left behind by infrastructure improvements in their areas. When communities aren’t adequately served by transportation systems, their local economies suffer.
  • This is fun for geography junkies: an interactive map of world regimes by type from 1816 to 2011. The good news is that the global trend toward greater democracy is still going strong. And if you look at the red (least free) countries, you’ll find several of the worst economies on earth, and maybe you’ll wonder why the fuck we’re sending $43 million a year in aid to Swaziland, especially since that country’s highly corrupt dictatorship has sold donated food for cash before.
  • A quality longread from the NY Times on whether prostitution should be a crime. It’s a difficult question even if you get beyond the morality of it, since prostitution is often less than consensual, but one thing that I think is clear is that the sex workers should not be charged with crimes for their actions, as they’re very often victims themselves.