Scarlet Sister Mary.

Julia Peterkin’s Scarlet Sister Mary won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1929, an award that apparently engendered some controversy, as the jury’s chairperson recommended a different book (John Rathbone Oliver’s Victim and Victor) and resigned in protest when Peterkin won. The historical record on this is spotty, and it’s unclear if Burton resigned because he disagreed with the choice, because he was embarrassed after he’d made public statements indicating Oliver’s book was going to win, or for other reasons. Of course, history has had its say on both titles, as Oliver’s book is long out of print and Peterkin’s is barely in it; neither has achieved any sort of lasting critical or popular acclaim. In the case of Peterkin’s novel, I think it’s easy to see why, because the book is so horribly out of date in its portrayal of Gullah people – African-Americans in the low country of South Carolina and Georgia, descended from slaves, with a creole unique to the region – as written by a white woman.

Scarlet Sister Mary profiles the title character, a Gullah woman who marries a ne’er-do-well in her community after he gets her pregnant – in and of itself a scandal in their church – and then abandons her. Rather than settle for a life of solitude, Mary chooses “pleasure” over fidelity to an absent husband, bearing many more children – even as her eldest son abandons her too – and constantly fighting the scorn and opprobrium of her peers and elders, two of whom serve as surrogate parents, within their church-centered village. Mary’s faith is largely secondary within the story to her desire to be a member in good standing of the church, and Peterkin doesn’t condemn her for her sexual liberation; the minister and his haughty wife are unsympathetic characters whose piety is merely a cloak for their sense of superiority over Mary and others outside of the flock.

Peterkin tries to replicate the creole of the Gullah in the dialogue in the book, but coming from the pen of a white author, the language is painful to read because it seems so much like caricature – even if, at the time, the author intended for it to be faithful rather than mocking. The ultimate effect of this rendition makes the characters seem like yokels, not just uneducated but primitive, which I doubt was Peterkin’s goal but is hard to avoid through the lenses of a reader nearly 90 years after the book’s publication.

That broaches the main question around Scarlet Sister Mary: How on earth did this trifling, unimpressive book manage to win a prestigious literary prize that, at the time, was almost exclusively given to novels by and about white people? Was the book seen at the time as a sympathetic portrait of poor African-Americans? Or as a feminist work because of its depiction of a woman who lives independently and ignores societal mores about women’s roles and sexuality? Or was it that the panel didn’t like Oliver’s book, which depicts a priest defrocked because of his drinking – similar to Oliver’s own experiences as a priest who left the clergy because he was gay – and thus chose Peterkin’s book because it was handy?

If you didn’t already get that I don’t recommend wasting your time on Scarlet Sister Mary, the only adaptation the book seems to have received was a stage show in 1930 starring Ethel Barrymore in blackface. History has consigned Peterkin’s book to the dustbin and I’m not surprised.

Next up: Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise.

Broadchurch, season 3.

I’ve mentioned my love of the British TV series Broadchurch a few times – writing about season one and season two – particularly my admiration for the dialogue, which is some of the best I’ve ever seen on any show, incorporating enough realism to set the show well apart from the police procedurals that have poisoned the airwaves for the last few decades while still giving viewers enough insight into the characters to build emotional attachments. The show was originally written to be a one-and-done, eight-episode story, but returned for two more seasons, the third of which just aired this summer (and which everyone involved says is definitely the end of the show). If this is truly it, the writers and actors gave us more than a mere victory lap, but managed to incorporate an entirely new story and set of characters into the tapestry they created in a small seaside town already reeling from the child murder that started off the series. It’s on amazon as well as iTunes.

Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) are back, now working together as partners instead of the adversarial relationship that drove the first season (mostly Alec’s doing, as he had some Greg House-like qualities), investigating a new crime: the rape of Trish, a woman in her late 40s, recently separated from her husband, who was attacked at a friend’s 50th birthday party. Trish was drunk and then knocked unconscious, so she couldn’t identify the rapist, and the list of suspects is long, including her former husband, her friend’s husband, a taxi driver with a criminal past, and Trish’s boss. The case is immediately complicated by other factors that also drive wedges between friends and motivate different witnesses to come forward – and, as you might expect, other women emerge with similar stories of rape in the same area over previous years.

The writers spent months working with rape counselors and investigators, learning about such cases and how they’re handled by authorities, giving the writing of season 3 an intense, often uncomfortable (by design) realism throughout the eight episodes. Trish’s reactions, unwillingness to discuss details, guilt and self-loathing, and the varied reactions of other victims all give Broadchurch a level of pathos absent from the SVU style of storytelling – 44 minutes to rush through a story, requiring every victim to be reduced to two dimensions so we can get back to the chase – and depict the complexities of investigating cases like this.

The big surprise of the season is Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker, also known as the next Dr. Who), who spent the first two seasons as a mousy, thin character paralyzed by grief and shock, appearing as a rape counselor who is assigned to Trish. Beth’s strength only appeared in flashes in the previous season, but she takes on a much more central role in season 3, both for her work advising and counseling Trish and also as a now-divorced other of two, still grieving her son’s death, and trying to cope with an ex-husband who can’t move on with his own life. I might have had doubts about Whittaker as the lead character on the long-running sci-fi series had I not seen the breadth of her abilities in the final season of this show, as the writing this year and her involvement in two major storylines allowed her to show off a range of emotions, notably the harder edge on display in scenes with her ex-husband or her resolve in dealing with the police when she’s asked to violate the ethical rules of her new job.

The central mystery of season 3 is somewhat less compelling than that of season 1, primarily because the identity of the rapist becomes subordinate to the web of relationships and deceptions uncovered during the investigation. Watching Hardy and Miller work, and now to truly work together as partners with complementary skills who have developed strong respect for each other, is easily the season’s biggest highlight – the very unromantic chemistry between these two, and Miller’s unflagging attempts to draw Hardy’s emotional core out, allow two tremendous actors to show their stuff while also giving the viewer an atypical male/female partnership. Hardy is less House-like this year, as his relationship with his daughter becomes more central and less afterthought, and the writing makes him more socially inept than absent. If season 1 Hardy was just misanthropic, season 3 Hardy is more clueless. He can’t pick up some simple social cues and doesn’t take compliments well or give them any more easily, but now it leads to amusement rather than Ellie wanting to throttle him – often justifiably, given how badly he treated her when they first worked together.

If there’s a hiccup anywhere in this final season of Broadchurch, it’s that they worked a little too hard to make all of the suspects in the rape case a little too creepy. Toxic masculinity plays a role here, and the writers did well to separate out its various aspects and spread them across multiple characters, but there are also at least three men who are called into the station who look or act too … well, too suspect. It’s as if the writers and actors were trying to throw viewers off the scent by making everybody seem guilty. And if you remember the twist in season one, you might see the twist in season three coming too.

If you haven’t started from the beginning, I don’t think you’ll appreciate the full impact of season 3 given how much screen time is devoted to the aftershocks from the first murder, so I would recommend starting with season 1 and watching all 24 episodes in order. It’s some of the finest TV writing I have ever seen, never sacrificing story for dialogue but instead using realistic, thorough dialogue to help give the story more depth than you’ll find in most other television series.

Stick to baseball, 9/9/17.

I wrote two Insider pieces this week, naming ESPN’s 2017 Prospect of the Year (hint: it’s Vlad Jr.) and covering and on the strange saga of Juan Nicasio over the last ten days. I held a Klawchat on Thursday.

Last week, I wrote about the major Game of Thrones-themed boardgames for Vulture. My next boardgame review for Paste will come this week.

My book, Smart Baseball, is out and still selling well (or so I’m told); thanks to all of you who’ve already picked up a copy. And please sign up for my free email newsletter, which is back to more or less weekly at this point now that I’m not traveling for a bit.

And now, the links…

Boardgame news will return next week; I know of two significant Kickstarters to launch on Tuesday, but at least one of them is currently covered by an embargo so I can’t talk about it just yet.


Biologist E.O. Wilson has won two Pulitzer Prizes for Non-Fiction, including one for, of all things, a textbook on ants, along with numerous other awards for his lengthy bibliography of popular and scholarly works on evolution, sociobiology, ecology, and conservationism. His 2016 book Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life falls into the last category while drawing on multiple fields of expertise to make his case that we should preserve half of the area of the planet for conservation to maintain biodiversity and fight climate change, but for a work by a great scholar and professor, Half-Earth feels half-hearted, as if Wilson knows what he wants to argue but couldn’t be bothered to support his side sufficiently to sway the unconvinced.

The idea of preserving half of the planet, land and sea, for conservation isn’t new nor is it Wilson’s; he credits Tony Hiss with coining the term “half-earth” to describe the concept in a Smithsonian magazine article in 2014. And there’s little doubt that man’s impact on the planet – its environment and the millions of other species on it – has been a net negative for everyone but man, with the pace of change only accelerating as we continue to alter the compositions of the planet’s atmosphere, soil, and water supply. Wilson does well when describing what we might lose or have already lost as a result of our mere presence or our industrial activities, talking about habitats we’ve razed or species we’ve driven to extinction deliberately, through the introductions of invasive species, or through other changes to the environment. But he assumes that the reader will see these losses as significant, or even see them as losses, without sufficiently detailing why it matters that, say, we’re wiping out the world’s rhinoceros population, or various island birds and rodents have been exterminated by the introduction of non-native snakes.

What’s missing even more from the work, however, is a consideration of the costs of an endeavor like the one Wilson is proposing. Man is fairly well distributed across the planet, and setting aside 50% of its land mass for conservation would require resettling hundreds of thousands of people, possibly millions, many of them members of indigenous populations who live in the least-altered environments on the planet. Crowding the planet’s seven billion people (and rising) into less of the space will trade some environmental problems for others, as various forms pollution rise with population density, and many large urban areas already struggle under the weight of their people, with third-world megacities paralyzed by traffic and its attendant problems. Relocating people is expensive, difficult, and traumatic. There’s also the very real question of feeding those seven billion people and supplying them with fresh water, which we’re already struggling to do; if you reserve half of the world’s land and half of its oceans for conservation, those tasks become more difficult and likely more expensive – a cost few people will be willing to bear directly. It might be necessary, but Wilson glosses over the practical problems his solution would create.

There is, however, one good reason to read Half-Earth right now, at least in the United States, where the current federal administration is rolling back environmental protections left and right, including cutting funds for wildlife area acquisition and management. But I thought Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer-winning book The Sixth Extinction made the same general case more powerfully and thoroughly, describing the current, anthropogenic mass extinction that could rival the K-Pg event for sheer number of species exterminated if we don’t do anything about it. Kolbert goes into greater depth with more concrete examples of how man’s activity has altered the planet and moved species around to extinguish some species and threaten others, including a lengthy discussion of chytrid fungus, a thus-far incurable ailment that is killing off tropical frog species with alarming speed.

I think Wilson also fell into the trap that William Easterley (among others) has identified in charitable and other “good intentions” efforts – aiming impossibly high, so that you can never meet your stated goal. You want to end world hunger? That sounds great, but it’ll never happen, and the only outcome will be the creation of a giant organization that absorbs donations without ever accomplishing much of anything. Micro-efforts yield more tangible results, and increase accountability for workers and donors alike. So while saying “let’s reserve half the planet to save it” is an admirable goal, and may even be the right strategy for the long term, it ain’t happening, and talking about it doesn’t get us any closer to solutions. If you want to help save the planet, work towards small, achievable goals. And right now, that probably means working for change in Washington.

Next up: Nina George’s 2013 novel The Little Paris Bookshop.

Klawchat 9/7/17.

My latest Insider column named Vlad Guerrero, Jr., our Prospect of the Year for 2017. I also have recent boardgame content on the various Game of Thrones boardgames (at Vulture) and the best of GenCon 2017 (Paste).

Keith Law: Things were good when we were young. Klawchat.

Chris : I’m IN on Plawecki. Is that nuts? Low K rate and better D than d’Arnaud make me a believer.
Keith Law: Not nuts; I’ve liked him in the past, too, before Teflon Terry decided it was smart to trash his own young player to the press.

Connor: Corey Ray, Isan Diaz, Lucas Erceg, Trent Clark, Marcos Diplan all had down years at Carolina. Coincidence or organizational issue?
Keith Law: Doubt it’s a coincidence when that many hitters all scuffle at one level. Clark hadn’t really hit well last year either, so I might take him out of the equation, but the others all came in with track record and/or pedigree and fell totally flat. That said, Gatewood and Harrison both had breakout years for the same club – but both had been handled very conservatively and given lots of time to fail and adjust.

Todd: Where would you assign AJ Puk to start next season, and what is his ceiling and the probability of him getting close to it?
Keith Law: Probably back in AA. Maybe a #2 ceiling, but low probability of getting the command and control required to reach it.

Chris : You see anything promising from Jhoan Urena or David Thompson?
Keith Law: I do not.

EricVA: My wife and I have lived in the DC area for a long time. We love the culture and culinary options that come with DC but hate the high cost of living. Now we pay child care that’s equal to the cost of our mortgage. We’ve always been looking to relocate. Recently I was looking at the Wilmington area as an option. Is there enough going on that we wouldn’t be bored? Is Philly the closest option for entertainment?
Keith Law: Philly is the closest option for much of anything. Delaware’s cost of living is low, and the state’s politics generally align well with my own, but you aren’t moving here for the food or entertainment scenes. I’m 35 minutes from downtown Philly, though, so I have access to it.

Josh : The Orioles just called up Austin Hays. He has performed tremendously at both high-A and AA this year (in scarily identical fashion). What do you expect him to become long-term?
Keith Law: I like Austin Hays and think he’s a regular, but you can’t call a 4.5% walk rate for a corner outfielder performing “tremendously.” He’s going to have to tame the aggressiveness – he’s not a hacker, but MLB pitchers aren’t going to give him as many pitches to drive early in the count.

Steve: Of the many paperbacks/hardcovers you read, which do you keep, and how do you organize them in the bookshelves in your home?
Keith Law: I keep maybe a quarter of them – books I absolutely loved, books by certain authors (Wodehouse, Greene, Waugh, Chandler), books I think my wife or daughter might want to read. I sell or donate the rest. I so rarely re-read anything that it doesn’t make sense to keep a book just because it looks nice on the shelf.

Erix: Thoughts on Nate Pearson’s start yesterday?
Keith Law: I wasn’t there.

Raphael: Why does age matter more for hitting prospects than pitchers?
Keith Law: The short answer is that past studies have shown it matters much more for hitters – that performing when young for a level is a huge positive indicator, and being old for a level is a strong negative – than for pitchers. I think a longer scouting answer would include the possibility that a younger pitcher already has major-league quality stuff whereas very young hitters are still developing their approaches even if they’re physically mature.

Dodger fans: Oh, so that’s what regression to the mean is.
Keith Law: Like Cheryl C told Tastee-Taste, it’s a motherfucker.

Marc: Thoughts on Flaherty’s first few starts? Why will he eventually be better than Weaver, who’s been impressive in small sample?
Keith Law: Don’t like judging anyone on two starts – or one, as I saw with Gohara yesterday on my internets – but I think Flaherty has several advantages over Weaver, the biggest of which is an above-average to plus breaking ball. I think he’s a 2 or 3, whereas Weaver is a 4.

Josh: Do you sleep? I highly appreciate all the wide ranging content you generate, but I have no idea how I could be that efficient. I have only read 5 and listened to 8 books so far this year, for example.
Keith Law: I read fast, I don’t watch a lot of TV, and I rarely do ‘nothing.’ I can’t even mow the lawn without a podcast (Grierson & Leitch – one episode almost exactly gets me through the whole half acre) or an audiobook going.

Dr. Bob: Indulge me a moment regarding a Mike Trout trade. Why couldn’t a team like, say, St. Louis put together a package. The Angels have no farm system and not enough talent at the major league level. The Cardinals (and other teams might fit as well) have tremendous depth, though no real standout players and in need of a shakeup. Why couldn’t they put together a package of 8-10 players that would help re-stock both the Angels’ big club and the minor leagues? They would still have core players to add to Trout to build a competitive team.
Keith Law: The obstacle has always been the Angels’ owner, who doesn’t want to trade his Mickey Mantle. With the team on the edge of a playoff berth this year, I doubt he’ll change his mind any time soon.

Dan: Did the Phillies break an unwritten rule in flipping Nicasio to the Cards when Huntington pretty much said he wouldn’t deal to them because they lowballed him? Does this affect their ability to do deals with teams?
Keith Law: I’m not a fan of unwritten rules, but I don’t think the Phils broke one here anyway.

CR: In the wake of some fans’ response to the Michael Bennett incident, and to Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who take action, and as I watch guys like Jose Reyes and Aroldis Chapman not only awarded the privilege of professional athletics but touted by teams’ social media depts., based on your front office experience, is their anything the average fan can do to force teams in all leagues to be more actively socially responsible? I’ve long since given up on the NFL, but my kids still like it and I don’t want to completely eliminate all sports from my life, but I’m feeling like no other option exists but to tune out. Thanks for the chats and for tackling tough issues like this and others.
Keith Law: Sports teams and leagues recognize one language, that of the dollar. If people stop watching and stop attending, the entities will change their policies.

Jack: Overall, what do you think of the pitching in the Phillies system?
Keith Law: Ton of depth in arms who might be starters. Good chance there’s no one there who’s more than an above-average starter. You can dream a little on Sixto with the 80 fastball.

Terrence: After that exchange with Avisail Garcia, Bauer seemed to pitch better while angry. Fangraphs had an interesting article about that, and how normally people want their pitchers to be calm on the mound. Are there some guys you just let them be as mad, weird, crazy as they want as long as it helps?
Keith Law: I saw Johan Oviedo (STL) pitch for State College the other night, and he was really disappointing – 89-91, overusing the CB, not much of a CH – but did touch 93 once. I asked around, and was told sometimes he’ll show that 93-95 after giving up a homer or other big hit. So if it’s in there, and what he’s showing most of the time isn’t good enough (it’s not), maybe he’d be better if he were just regularly pissed off.

addoeh: Where should the “blame” go for Yankees-Red Sox stealing signs fiasco? Is the line drawn where modern technology shouldn’t be used, but all else is more or less fair game? Should teams do a better job of changing up their signals?
Keith Law: Boston’s biggest mistake was getting caught.

Adam: Do you have more faith in Jo Adell or Heliot Ramos long term?
Keith Law: That sounds like a question of probability, so I’d say Ramos. Adell has a much higher ceiling.

Lee D, LA: Keith — I know about SSS and all, but would the D-Backs be favored over the Dodgers in a 7 game series right now?
Keith Law: No. Remember in 2007 when the Yankees swept all six games from Cleveland in the regular season, and then Cleveland won the ALDS from the Yanks 3 games to 1? Regular-season matchup results mean nothing for October.

Rebuilding is terrible: If my memory serves me right, you were the first one who recognized Ozzie Albies when he was in the rookie ball. Do you think he will surpass Dansby Swanson next year?
Keith Law: I doubt I was first but I appreciate the credit. I think Swanson will still end up a very good player, with Albies also producing well as soon as next year. Also, whenever he homers, we need to get #OzzieDuzIt trending.

Brett: Cannot argue with your choice of Vlad Jr. as Prospect of the Year. How close was Acuna? Any others on your short list?
Keith Law: That list was in rough order, so Acuna was second.

Philip: Ultimately does Madrigal’s size prevent him from going top 5? And at this way too early point which range would you be comfortable on taking him?
Keith Law: Don’t think he’s a top 5 guy even if he were average size. First rounder for sure.

Matt: Do you think Vlad Jr stays at 3B long term or has to move off the position?
Keith Law: I told Scott Mackenzie on TSN 1050 yesterday that I thought it was 50/50.

Nate: What do you expect from Raul Mondesi going forward? I know he’s not technically a prospect anymore but he’s still very young.
Keith Law: Very young with no history of performance, largely because he was rushed up the ladder. 19 UIBB this year in 394 PA. Since his breakout 2014 season, he has 60 UIBB in 1677 PA. He’s very fast, and has bat speed, but he’s never really learned to hit – and the Royals have had him bunting a LOT, which I think is counterproductive when a kid has a poor approach to begin with.

Matt: Has pint had such a disappointing first year that he’s no longer a top 100 prospect?
Keith Law: I don’t think he was on my top 100 last January, so it’s not as if this season would elevate him. The Rockies can’t be surprised – we knew he had huge stuff and control problems, plus asheville is a big hitter’s park.

Mark: Klaw,
As the Diamondbacks continue to roll, how much credit for the team’s success does the Stewart-La Russa-Watson group deserve due to the moves they made: a lot, some, none and why?
Keith Law: I’ll credit them for Robbie Ray. That’s it.

Matt Walsh: Saves cradle and protect Wins. RBIs enable and protect both. This is how it ought to be, despite what smart baseball says.
Keith Law: Took me a second, but then I saw the name. Well done.

Mike: Very sorry to hear about the passing of Gene Michael today. Do you think that he receives due credit as an excellent executive from baseball people outside of NY?
Keith Law: Within the game, yes. Very highly respected as an evaluator and a person.

Max: Alex Bregman is having a 4+ WAR (BR) season. Is this what you expect from him going forward, with maybe one or two 5-7 WAR seasons in there as a peak, until he hits his decline phase?
Keith Law: I think there might be another grade of hit in there.

Utilm: Is it just me or is Yankees farm full of hard throwing guys that are probably pen guys long term? Abreu, Acevado, Guzman, Perez
Keith Law: Lot of hard-throwing guys who are probably pen guys … but if you give me five such pitchers, there’s a good enough chance that one of them starts that I’d be happy with the portfolio. Severino looked (still looks, really) like a big breakdown risk who’ll end up in the pen, but he gave them one good year of starting already. If Abreu, who I think has the best chance to start of the group, does that, it’s found money.

tom: What do you think Ian Happ’s potential is? Thanks
Keith Law: Above-average regular, fringe star. High OBP, high K guy with power. Adequate D at second, can fake a lot of positions.

Tim: Which tools are hardest to improve in the Majors? Think we all get caught up in thinking a guy’s AA or AAA stats will dictate exactly who the guy is at the next level.
Keith Law: If a guy doesn’t hit in AA, the odds of him learning to hit in the majors are low – not zero, but low. You can teach a lot of things, though. Guys do occasionally improve their plate discipline, or learn a new pitch, or find command.

Dallas: What do you think happens to Khris Davis this winter? He’s going over $11.0 million as a 4+ in arbitration. Will he be non-tendered? Chris Carter is the comparison but I think Khris Davis has been better than Carter as a hitter however there defensive value is similar (though I wonder what happened this year to Davis’ range in LF; it’s always been good but this year it’s negative). Do the A’s tender him? Trade him? Would he have more value after the tender date because teams will try to steal him thinking he will be non-tendered? Thanks as always for your time and consideration.
Keith Law: Buster asked me about this on the podcast today. I think the A’s try to trade him, but there’s a real chance he gets non-tendered because he’ll take 40+ homers into arb and get something like $10 million. The market wouldn’t pay him that.

Jesse: How much have you read about AI? Are you concerned it could be an existential threat to humans?
Keith Law: No, this isn’t really something taking up much of my mindshare right now.

Jon V : Am I wrong to be incredibly excited about Triston McKenzie? Can he be an ace or more like a really good 2/3?
Keith Law: He can grow into an ace, but he’s not there yet. It’s the expectation that he will add velocity as he fills out, as he still has a very slight teenager’s build.

Peggy Sue: Greetings. Hate crime legislation: Good, or thoughtcrime in disguise?
Keith Law: I think it’s both. I think it serves a useful societal function … but it criminalizes intent in a way that few if any other laws do.

Ron: Hi Keith I see E. Rosario is at 286/326/490 with an 816 OPS. The biggest thing is his OBP which is higher than his career of 304. Is this a SSS or has he done a better job of not swinging at everything? Has some pop and seems like he slowly has improved since April.
Keith Law: He’s gone from “degenerate hacker” to “uncomfortably aggressive.” But he’s always been a bat-speed/high-contact sort of guy so I think it can work for him. He’ll never be a star, IMO, but could hang in as a regular for a while.

Jon V : If you were running the Indians would you look to move Kipnis this offseason and make Ramirez an everyday 2B and play Diaz at 3rd?
Keith Law: Yes.

JR: Theory: the Thursday Next world Jasper Fforde writes about is real. We had a stupidity surplus. The government decided to use the surplus to get Trump elected. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
Keith Law: In that case I think they overspent.

Michael: Hi Keith – wondering if there is any use in today’s day and age for batting average? Or does OBP (and other stats) completely supplant it? Wouldn’t the newpaper and the local tv feed be better off showing OBP than Avg. as they currently do?
Keith Law: I’d much rather see OBP there, but if the audience expects AVG, you can’t just eliminate it without working to educate them on why you’re making the switch.

Chris: Hey Keith, looking at the AFL rosters, some teams have sent upper tier prospects, while others have sent middling ones. What is the overall intent of the AFL, extra reps or putting the best against the best?
Keith Law: Extra reps or letting other teams scout guys you might want to trade. Or for a few franchises it’s just a nuisance so you send a bunch of NPs.

Marco: Heliot Ramos had a great season in the AZL, but didn’t show up on your list of best performances for 2017 draftees. Does he strike out too much, or do you not see him developing like the Giants desperately need him to?
Keith Law: Struck out too much for that list.

B: What are your thoughts on Bo Bichette? Is he a guy that could ultimately be a top 20 prospect?
Keith Law: Love the bat. Don’t think he’s a SS long term.

Alex: As a Giants fan the only thing I have left to cheer for this season is next years number 1 pick. Are there any franchise changing players available at the top of next years class?
Keith Law: At the moment, it doesn’t look like it. Good top tier of HS players, no Harper types.

Garrett: In your prospect write up yesterday you mentioned Acuna as Atlanta’s CF of the (near) future, so I just wanted to see if you would move Inciarte to RF or move Acuna to RF instead? Do you think Acuna has a defensive upside greater than Inciarte?
Keith Law: I’d trade Inciarte. He becomes surplus when Acuna arrives.

B: As an Astros guy, why should I believe in Yordan Alvarez and his success after being completely disappointed with AJ Reed? I know players are different, but what does Alvarez have now that Reed didn’t have when he was raking in the minors?
Keith Law: Reed had (has) questions about his bat speed that proved to be a problem in the majors. Alvarez doesn’t have that.

Joe: Would you try Chad Green as a starter again? If I recall, you were never a big fan of him starting.
Keith Law: No, I’d let him be the new Adam Warren, which is a valuable role.

Evan: Red Sox. Apple. Discuss.
Keith Law: I got her numbah.

Seath: Favorite “Cheap” Beer?
Keith Law: Water.

Nancy: Why not just get books from the library? At least while there still are libraries.
Keith Law: I do that too. I go through ~100 a year, so I’m getting them all over the place – used bookstores, new bookstores, e-books, libraries, and occasionally borrowing from friends.

Brett: I’ve always been curious, and without asking too much personal information, what is performance based on at work in your type of position? Quality of your written work? Quality of the analysis?
Keith Law: People read my work and they pay to read my work. That is what keeps me employed.

Tate: Serious question here….we have had about a decade long drought of major storms bashing the gulf and east coasts. Is this hurricane season a major sign of drastic change, or just a SSS and an outlier while we see a more gradual change in climate over the next few decades?
Keith Law: Better question for climate scientists.

Greg: What have you seen/heard on Ke’Bryan Hayes’ season? Do Hayes or Cole Tucker have a shot at being in your next top 50 or top 100? Thanks!
Keith Law: Tucker no. Just saw him and wrote him up ( Hayes was on my top 100 last year, will still be this winter. High-contact hitter with ++ defense at third. Can grow into some power.

Sean: Obligatory Giolito question: do you see noticeable improvements to delivery/stuff relative to where he was a year ago?
Keith Law: Absolutely. This is a lot more like what he looked like in the Sally League when he raced up all our lists. And I thought his changeup on Sunday was as good as I’ve ever seen it. Still doesn’t quite have the CB feel back, but he’s compensating with some power sliders in CB counts.

Mark: Question from a parent with a young high school position player. Is it better to workout and be in your best physical shape and perform at a high level in high school/summer, or is it better to be in “good” shape and perform at a high level in high school/summer, which leaves some room for “projection” of your body/maturity?
Keith Law: Projection isn’t about in or out of shape, but how a young body may look when the player is 22 or 23. So get in good shape and play well. The rest is out of your hands.

Mike: Keith I was hoping you could help with something for my 10 year old son. He is and has been the best player in his little league since he was about 5. He loves the game and always wants to play. He is a natural righty but has swung a bat left handed even as young as 2 years old. All of his coaches want him to try and switch hit but I am of the mindset that he should learn to do one thing well so there is no need to switch hit now. I also think to try and teach a kid that young 2 swings is crazy but they saying teach him now when he is young as it will be easier than when he gets older. Am I right or are they? If I am at what age is teaching him to switch hit appropriate? Thanks.
Keith Law: The only thing you didn’t mention would be my first question: What does your son want to do? If he doesn’t want to switch hit, that should end the discussion.

Joe: Keith, is there any way that Judge doesn’t win ROY? I have seen crazy people on Twitter say that Benintendi or even Mancini deserves it more because of consistency.
Keith Law: That’s just stupid. Judge has this on lockdown. Benintendi would be #2 if I had that ballot (I have NL ROY again).

John: I was puzzled by your comment last week about Harvey being caused/exacerbated by climate change. It was a slow moving Cat-4; that’s happened plenty before, right? Just bad luck when it hits the country’s fourth biggest city. (No fair referring to Irma in your response — I’m looking for what your thinking was last week. Thanks.)
Keith Law: The frequency of strong hurricanes (cat 3+) is increasing as the climate warms, and they will carry more water and thus dump more rain because of the warming temps. So, no, “it’s happened before” isn’t the right answer. These major storms are gradually becoming stronger and more common.

JR: As a another example to the 2007 Cle/NYY series, in 2015 the Cubs swept the Mets in regular season. Mets swept NLCS in 4.
Keith Law: If anyone – anyone – tries to cite in-season results to predict a postseason series, especially someone who ostensibly covers this sport for a living, they are completely full of shit and you should call them out on it. This is so obvious, and we have so many examples showing it’s obvious, that for anyone to still peddle this crap is insulting to all of our intelligences.

Steve: Has Trey Mancini performed about as you expected based on his minor league numbers?
Keith Law: I’d say he outperformed based on my overall expectations, which includes what I saw of him and what scouts told me they thought of him.

PD: Can the Lighthouse be a viable starting pitcher walking 5 per 9?
Keith Law: No, but he can work from there to something like 4 per 9 and be viable at that level.

Harrisburg Hal: Philly sandwich preference – hot roast pork or cheesesteak?
Keith Law: Roast pork. That other thing isn’t even worth discussing.

Danny: What’s the outlook on Miguel Andujar? Is he a guy who makes an all-star team or two, or more a guy who makes a starting line-up or two?
Keith Law: Guy who makes a lot more than two starting lineups but maybe never makes the AS team.

Adam: Thoughts on Touki’s year? Really had a good 2nd half and the looney toon breaking ball is there. Still 2 years out?
Keith Law: Yeah, two years sounds reasonable, or a guy who’s up in a year in a long relief role or up-and-down role while he continues to develop. I still love the athleticism, arm strength, and CB.

ElanC: Is it time to get worried about the Dodgers?
Keith Law: No.

Brett: What flavor of WAR do you prefer and why?
Keith Law: Chocolate.
Keith Law: Because the answer is *always* chocolate.

Chris W: Have you come by any great noir novels published in the last decade or so? As an avid fan of the genre who has knocked out all the classics, it’s getting harder and harder to pick what to read next.
Keith Law: Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union has a lot of noir elements.

Archie: Would you encourage anyone to throw a screwball?
Keith Law: Yes. If it’s “learn a screwball” or “get released,” then yeah, learn the screwball.

ScottyD: Jurickson Profar – Where does he fit positionally based upon his skill set and do you still see him as anything better than a major league regular (assuming he escapes Arlington this off-season via trade)?
Keith Law: Shortstop. Needs to go somewhere where he can play every day even if he struggles. That’s not Texas.

Brett: Juan Soto’s injuries. Unfortunate series of isolated incidents or real reason to question his ability to stay on the field long term?
Keith Law: Two flukes.

Mike: Keith I recently got the Anova based on your review and the price drop on amazon. Thanks. So far I have made steak and pork chops. All have been good. Do have any recommendations or good places to find recipes that you have enjoyed?
Keith Law: Anova themselves publish a bunch and so does J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on Serious Eats.

Gary: Thoughts on Taylor Trammell? Possibly a top 25 prospect heading into next season?
Keith Law: Not close to a top 25 prospect heading into next season. Still a lot of untapped potential.

Tim: With “It” coming out today, was wondering, ever read any Stephen King?
Keith Law: Not a word.

Mike: Pablo Sandoval, is he finished or is there anything serviceable left?
Keith Law: Finished.

Randy: If a pitcher needed to learn a new offspeed pitch, which one would you try to teach, knowing it would be the easiest for them to command?
Keith Law: Coaches have always indicated to me that the changeup is the easiest to teach, and curveball is the hardest (either you can spin it or you can’t).

Ben: Keith, really love when you’re on the Baseball Tonight podcast. Have you ever thought about revisiting that type of medium? Baseball Today was a staple in my media consumption, and have missed it since. Not saying I don’t enjoy your writing, it’s just harder to consumer while on a jog, as the pod was one of my constant companions. Don’t mean to rehash, but are you at liberty of saying why that ended?
Keith Law: I can say ESPN wanted to brand the show to match the TV program.

Ben: Of the Braves’ rookie pitchers (Sims, Fried, Gohara, Newcomb), which ones do you think stick in the rotation long term?
Keith Law: Fried and Gohara are starters for me. Newcomb could go either way, but the command/control issues point towards relief. Sims I think is a reliever or a meh 5.

Ben: Re: recent noir novels. Pynchon’s Inherent Vice is real fun kind of noir on drugs novel….
Keith Law: Yes, great rec – one of the funniest novels I’ve ever read, too.

Dan: Any fantasy book series recommendations?
Keith Law: Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

Todd: If healthy, Yanks going to egret trading Kaprielian?
Keith Law: He’ll be good but they got a good player back in the deal.

ScottyD: Michael Kopech – future starter or power bullpen arm?
Keith Law: Starter for me. Three pitches with size and a solid delivery.

Todd: Tim Tebow the GOP nominee circa 2035?
Keith Law: Please, the Tebags were insufferable enough this year on the rare days when he did something at the plate. Don’t encourage them.

Marshall MN: Keith, the Twins have had a nice bounceback after the trade deadline but the last WC spot is still tight. Are you surprised that they haven’t called up Stephen Gonsalves to give him a run as starter?
Keith Law: I’m not surprised, especially if they feel like he was wearing down at the end of his season (last 3 starts included a 3-homer outing and one where he couldn’t get out of the first).

John: Ever read any Robert Stone? He’s occasionally a little melodramatic, but I’ve loved some of his books.
Keith Law: Read Dog Soldiers but I barely even remember it.

mike: Pearson w Vancouver 4IP 74p 47strikes, 1h, 4BB, 10K Oruns. That stat line is impressive, but the BB indicate the big concern for him is the control/command right?
Keith Law: Without either being there or talking to someone who was, I’m loath to draw a conclusion from the stat line.

ScottyD: Is Chance Sisco a regular, above average or All-Star caliber player at peak?
Keith Law: Above-average peak. Although it’s hard to know when Buck is going to take a shine to a rookie and when he’s going to bury him.

David: Profar a good fit for the Padres?
Keith Law: Good fit for a lot of teams, and I’m sure Preller would take his boy back.

Ethan: Where do you stand on win now moves versus weighing present and future? I think I heard you discussing this with Karabell on pod recently, and don’t know if you gave your opinion.
Keith Law: Flags fly forever. When you’ve got a real shot to win – not just getting into the WC, but making a deep playoff run – you should probably go for it.

Jarred: Klaw thanks for all your insight. 2 quick questions, 1. Over or under on the Braves having 7 guys in this off-seasons top 100? Also, Fried struggled between AA/AAA this year, but was outstanding in shorter starts 4-5 innings and then pulled. Is this a cause for concern long term, or just a pitcher still stretching out/ recovering form from TJ a few years ago?
Keith Law: I think 7’s about right. Not worried about Fried, just developing a little slower due, I think, to all the time off, and lagging fastball command, which leads to some elevated pitch counts.

Matt V: Which of the prospects the White Sox acquired this year do you think have a legit chance to be solid major leaguers?
Keith Law: Eloy and Cease for sure. Rutherford was even worse post-trade, but I wouldn’t give up on him entirely just yet.

Steve: Back to the screwball…almost nobody throws it anymore. Could a pitcher who gains some mastery of it have at least some short term success simply because it would be a pitch nobody else throws?
Keith Law: I have always maintained that this would be the case. You’d have to throw a good one, I guess, although the hitters would tell you quickly if that was true.

mike: is Max Pentecost still a guy or has his injuries since being drafted too much to overcome?
Keith Law: Injuries and non-performance.

Chris : Corey Oswalt have back-end starter ceiling?
Keith Law: If that. Probably a 5/6 type.

Joe: What is your opinion on Carter Kieboom?
Keith Law: Wish I’d seen him this year but he was hurt when I caught Hagerstown. Think he’s an above-average regular in the long run. Wasn’t sure about his ultimate position when he was drafted.

Gary: Which father/son combo finishes with more lifetime WAR: the Griffeys or Vlad and Vlad, Jr.?
Keith Law: Wow. The Griffeys combined for 118 WAR, and Vlad Sr had 59, so do I think Vlad Jr gets to 60 WAR? The honest answer is no – how many players in A-ball would you ever realistically forecast to get to that mark? And in Vlad Jr.’s case, he’s a corner guy who may not stay at third, so he’s not getting the positional and defensive bump Ken Jr. got. But, you know, saying I would bet under 60 WAR on a prospect’s career isn’t exactly an insult.

Matt V: Moncada was rated the #1 MLB prospect by some, but struggled last year in his brief stint with Boston and again this year with Chicago. As a White Sox fan, should I be worried about him?
Keith Law: Never rated there or in the top ten by me. Swing and recognition issues.

Kevin : How often do you use the vacuum sealer? Just for sous-vide, or for other storage? I want to try sous-vide and the sealer seems important but also wasteful with the single use plastic.
Keith Law: I use for both sous-vide and storage. But yes, it does waste some plastic. I might otherwise be storing things in the freezer in zip-top bags, so this at least allows me to cut bags to size and be more efficient in how much plastic I waste.

Todd: Matz and Wheeler ever amount to anything? Or just hype?
Keith Law: That’s not fair – both kids have had a litany of injuries, and in Wheeler’s case there wasn’t even any indication he’d have this trouble. It’s not “just hype” when a player who has ability is highly touted or valued but is derailed by physical problems. Both were prospects, Wheeler more so than Matz (who flashed stuff but never showed any durability), so dismissing them as “just hype” is inaccurate.
Keith Law: OK, that’s all for this week’s chat. Thank you all, as always, for all of your questions. I should be back next Thursday to do this all over again.

Chameleon and Cobra Paw.

My latest post for Insiders is my annual Prospect of the Year award column; this year’s winner is Toronto’s Vlad Guerrero, Jr. I name several runners-up as well as the top-performing draftees from 2017.

I don’t really play many party games – they’re fine, just not my bag, and most of the time I’m playing games it’s with my wife and/or daughter rather than a large group – but I do get them from publishers on occasion. Two of those titles, both from Bananagrams/Big Potato, actually made it to our table recently: Chameleon, a party game for adults and older kids, and Cobra Paw, a matching game probably more suited to kids than adults.

Chameleon is a social deduction game where one player has to pretend to know what’s going on – but if s/he’s caught, which is pretty often, then that player gets one chance to win by guessing the clue everyone else had but s/he didn’t. In Chameleon, the dealer plays a topic card to the table to start a round, rolls two dice, and all players but one get a code card that indicates which of 16 words on the topic card is the clue for that round. One player gets a card that looks like the code cards from the back but only says “you are the Chameleon” on the front. The players then go around the table, starting with the dealer, and must each say one word that relates to the specific word on the topic card for that round. That means the Chameleon will have to throw a word out without knowing which word on the topic card other players are talking about. After each player has said one word, everyone has to decide who the Chameleon is, which is decided by a vote. If the Chameleon is not identified, s/he wins the round. If the Chameleon is identified, however, s/he gets one guess at which word on the topic card was the keyword for the round; a correct guess gives the Chameleon the win anyway.

You can probably see the one problem with this mechanic. If the Chameleon isn’t the first person to say a clue word, then s/he gets some useful information from every player to go before him/her to help narrow down which word on the topic card is the round’s keyword. But if the Chameleon goes first, the only options are to say a word that’s incredibly vague and could apply to almost anything on the topic card or to say something specific to some of the words on the card and hope that the guess is correct. It’s only marginally better if the Chameleon goes second. If the Chameleon goes third or later, the game works well, and the subterfuge and subsequent witch hunt are fun. The game suggests 3 to 8 players; I’d say you need at least 4 to make it worthwhile. Each round only takes five minutes or so. The game was previously published as Gooseberry, with a different theme but the same core mechanic.

Cobra Paw is much more for kids, a simple matching and dexterity game for two to six players. The Cobra Paw box contains two six-sided dice with various symbols on their sides and 36 dominoes with all potential combinations of those symbols. In each round, someone rolls the two dice, and then all players must find the matching domino on the table. The first person to grab the domino gets it – and yes, you can swipe one from another player’s play area – and keeps it until it’s stolen or the game ends. When one player collects six dominoes, s/he wins. There’s a definite advantage for adults between their chance to remember where certain tiles are and quicker reflexes, although I think the proper counterstrategy for kids is to smack the dominoes as hard as they can as a form of intimidation against faster-moving grown-up hands. My daughter enjoyed this one a lot more than I did, and I think it’ll get a lot more play when she has friends over than it will when we play as a family.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven.

Chris Cleave has written several global bestsellers, notably the 2008 novel Little Bee, but his 2016 book Everyone Brave is Forgiven was his first foray into historical fiction. This quick-moving novel of four young people caught up in World War II is heavy on both action and emotion, but the character development lags behind the pace of the text, and it can’t help but suffer in comparison to a contemporary novel that does so much more with the same setting.

The quartet of characters at the heart of the book are Mary, Tom, Alistair, and Hilda, although Hilda is secondary to the main trio and bizarre love triangle that occupies the first half of the book. Mary and Tom are a quick item, meeting by chance at the start of the war when the manor-born Mary signs up and runs into Tom at the war office. Alistair, Tom’s more worldly, witty roommate, meets Mary later and the attraction is instant and mutual – but she and Tom are already engaged by this point and Alistair is heading back off to war after his first stint ended in the evacuation at Dunkirk. Mary is beautiful, so of course Hilda, her best friend, must be ugly, in what I believe is the 4th or 5th law of popular fiction (I get the order wrong sometimes), and attempts to set Hilda up with Alistair go nowhere.

Cleave can really write – the pace is brisk but never skimps on evocative imagery, especially the scenes of Blitz-plagued London or the privations Alistair suffers while stationed in Malta. The section where Mary, Tom, and Mary’s little class of non-evacuated students are caught in a bombing is the most memorable passage in the book, especially in how Cleave communicates the characters’ confusion in the shock of the attack – everything was fine, and now it’s not. His rendition puts the reader in the fog right next to his characters, so you feel the disorientation and the revelations seem to come in reverse, as if time has rewound and played back at half-speed.

He adds to the sense of disorientation, however, through the way he reveals big twists, such as the death early in the book of a side character whom Alistair has just befriended. The nonchalant description of the death, in the final sentence of a chapter, feels manipulative, although Cleave uses the aftermath to explore more of Alistair’s character in the first real window the reader gets into his emotions. But the regular use of jarring reveals wears thin very quickly and gives the novel a pulpy feel that doesn’t marry well with the subject matter.

Alistair is easy the most interesting character of the four, as Tom is a blank page and Mary’s appeal must lie in her looks rather than anything about her personality. Cleave builds the characters and then puts them through the ringer, but they come out on the other side relatively unchanged, just older and short a limb or with a visible scar. This is the real disappointment of Everyone Brave is Forgiven: Cleave set a novel during the Blitz, put real thought and energy into depicting the city in ruins, and then had his characters drift through the setting without sufficient growth or development.

This book appeared just one year and one day after Anthony Doerr won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with his own WWII novel, All the Light We Cannot See, one of the best contemporary works of fiction I’ve read. Doerr crafted a more complex, meticulous plot, and in the soldier Werne gave readers a memorable, thoroughly-developed character who faces real moral challenges, without falling into the sentiment that traps Cleave. Doerr doesn’t skimp on the narrative greed – his novel moved faster and worked with higher stakes than Cleave’s, but along the way we get much more insight into Werne, and even Marie-Laure, who bears a few marks of the stock character, is better developed than Mary or Hilda. I find it hard to judge the latter novel without considering Doerr’s work, given their settings and how close the release dates were, but even on its own Cleave’s book is more a well-written page-turner than a work of good literature.

Next up: Still reading T.S. Stribling’s The Store, which has managed to pile a dash of anti-Semitism on top of its pervasive racism.

Stick to baseball, 9/2/17.

For Insiders this week, I wrote four pieces. I broke down the Astros’ trade for Justin Verlander and the Angels’ trade for Justin Upton. I put up scouting notes on prospects from the Yankees, Phillies, Jays, and Rangers. And I looked at five potential prospect callups for September. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday.

At Vulture this week, I looked at five major Game of Thrones-themed boardgames, not just reskinned games but several original titles like the excellent GoT Card Game. For Paste, I reviewed the Tour de France-themed boardgame La Flamme Rouge, which is light and good for family play. And here on the dish I reviewed the strong app version of the two-player game Jaipur, a steal at $5.

I’m trying something new this week, and if you find it useful I’d appreciate your feedback. I get a lot of press releases on boardgames from publishers, so I’m including the best of those at the end of this run of links along with boardgame-related news items. These will include Kickstarter announcements that look interesting to me, and if I’ve seen a game at all I’ll indicate it in the blurb.

This is your regular reminder that my book Smart Baseball is available everywhere now in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook formats. Also, please sign up for my free email newsletter, as my subscriber count is down one after I removed that one guy who complained about the most recent edition and called me a “tool.”

And now, the links…


I have two new Insider posts on the Verlander trade and the Justin Upton trade.

Princeton sociology professor and ethnographer Matthew Desmond won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, a stunning work of first-person research that examines a major socioeconomic problem from the ground level, rather than the top-down, data-driven approach I expected from a book in his genre. Desmond spent several months living among the inner-city underclass in several neighborhoods in Milwaukee in 2008 and 2009, shadowing tenants and landlords, witnessing evictions and forced moves, accompanying residents to rehab, AA meetings, even to court, recording what amounted to over 5000 pages of transcribed notes and conversations, to produce this devastating and utterly human portrait of people who simply do not exist to the house-secure classes.

Desmond’s aim here is clear: eviction is more than just a temporary loss of shelter, but a massive disruption to the economic and psychological well-being of entire families, a process that can lead to job loss, substance abuse, and crime, and a scarlet letter on a person’s record that can make it harder to obtain future housing and employment. The vulnerable class of the working or semi-working poor are victimized repeatedly by a system that takes the majority of their income, often over 75% of it, to cover rent for substandard housing, then punishes them if they fall behind and are evicted in a process that overwhelmingly favors the landlords. Tenants are often afraid to assert their rights, if they have any, or to report building code or maintenance violations for fear of retaliation. Once evicted, families may end up having to pay exorbitant fees to place their limited possessions in storage, with no access to their things, until the almost inevitable time when they can’t afford the monthly cost and lose what little they had.

Desmond accompanies several single residents and entire families on their journey through multiple evictions and the Lodge, a homeless shelter readers will know all too well before the book is complete. The access these people gave him is remarkable, as he captures their words at some of their most vulnerable and depressed moments, often witnessing their stuff being carted out to the curb in trash bags by Eagle Movers, who apparently maintain a truck (or two?) just for the purpose of serving landlords who are evicting residents. He also relates a firsthand account of housing discrimination – and explains in an afterword how the Fair Housing Authority did nothing with his formal complaint. (And that was under a Democratic administration; I doubt it’s any better today.) He also spends significant time with two slumlords – although he refuses to refer to either as such – to give their perspective, usually in their own words, even explaining how one, Sherrena, was “proud” of her landlord status and her collection of properties, even though Desmond makes it very clear that she is a nightmare landlord whose failure to maintain safe conditions in her buildings should probably have landed her in court.

By spending so much time with poor residents, Desmond also makes it clear what critical needs are not addressed when most of someone’s income – often income from disability payments – goes to cover the rent. Going without food, or without enough food, is an obvious outcome. But such tenants often have no heat or hot water, or sometimes can’t cover the gas or electric bills. Medical care is often entirely out of the question. Buying a new pair of shoes for a child, a mundane event for even middle-class families, is an enormous achievement. One of the few success stories in the book, Scott, a former nurse who lost everything when he became addicted to painkillers, has to borrow from his parents to cover the cost to get into a rehab program and begin taking methadone. Many other people Desmond follows don’t have even that bare safety net of a parent or relative to help cover a payment – or, in the case of one single mother, her safety net repeatedly refuses to help.

Desmond saves his prescriptions and recommendations for the epilogue, choosing instead to let the individual narratives tell the reader the overarching story of a system that traps these American untouchables in a cycle of poverty from which it is very difficult to escape. It’s easy to say, as so many politicians like to do, that the solution to poverty is to make poor adults go to work. That facile, elitist answer ignores the realities of work for the underclass: Available jobs barely pay enough to cover the rent, evictions and other related actions (police are often involved, with Milwaukee employing sheriffs specifically for this purpose) can count against someone on a job application, and missing time to try to find new living space can cost such a person his/her job. Affordable – or “affordable” – housing is often located far from work, with poor public transit options in many or most cities. We get repeated examples of people evicted because of the actions of someone else. One woman is evicted because the police were called to her apartment by a neighbor because her partner was beating her. Another loses what sounds like a perfect apartment because her young son got in a fight and her babysitter asked neighbors if they had any weed. And landlords get away with this because tenants don’t fight back, enforcement of what few rights they have is scarce, and there’s a line of people waiting to get into every apartment the evicted vacate.

In that epilogue, Desmond offers ideas and potential solutions, including universal housing vouchers that can be used anywhere, without discrimination, the way that recipients use food stamps. He speaks of reasonable housing as a fundamental human right, which is how western European governments and societies view it, arguing that “the pursuit of happiness” is impossible without adequate shelter. Desmond also pushes solutions that are, at best, antithetical to the capitalist underpinnings of our society, including broader rent control, without sufficient consideration of the economic consequences of such policies (rent control programs can stifle construction and push landlords to convert rental properties to non-rental ones). He seems to advocate for more public housing, but doesn’t discuss how we can expand the housing stock without repeating the problems of previous housing projects, many of which became unsafe and were razed within 20 years of their construction. His proposed solutions should spark discussion of how to solve the American housing crisis – or, at least, a discussion that there is a housing crisis at all – but seem like they will trade current problems for new ones rather than creating comprehensive solutions that at least consider how the market will react to major policy shifts. That’s a minor issue in a remarkable work that is dedicated more to exposing these problems to the wider audience, to bringing people in distress out of the shadows and into the public consciousness, because without that there won’t even be a conversation about how best to help them in an economy that still places a high value on the rights of private property owners.

I listened to the audio version of Evicted, which is narrated by actor Dion Graham, whose voice will be familiar to fans of The Wire. Graham does a masterful job of bringing the various characters to life with just subtle changes in tone – and treats these people, who are largely less educated and less articulate than, say, Graham himself is, with respect. It would be easy to caricature these underprivileged tenants, but Graham’s renditions infuse them with the quiet dignity they deserve, so that the listener may feel sorrow or pity for them, but not scorn.

Next up: Thomas Stribling’s Pulitzer-winning novel The Store. I’m about 60 pages in, and while the story is moving along, the casual racism in the writing – Stribling was from Alabama, set the novel in Florence, and has it taking place shortly after the Civil War – is appalling.

Klawchat 8/31/17.

Recent content: looking at five potential September callups of note (Insider), my monthly new music playlist, reviewing the Tour de France-themed boardgame La Flamme Rouge, and reviewing the Jaipur boardgame app.

Keith Law: I know you love the way it’s going down. Klawchat.

Sourman: So… Austin Hays. He can hit it hard and make a lot of contact. He’s a really good prospect, right?
Keith Law: He’s a prospect. He doesn’t work the count much and he’s a corner outfielder. He does have power even the other way and I think he can hit, but perhaps not with much OBP.

Tyler: I am under no delusion that Ian Happ will be able to hit HRs at his current pace (almost 40 homer pace), but what kind of return do you think he could command in the offseason. I have to assume the Cubs will try to shop him, Russell, or Baez – who has the most value of the three?
Keith Law: Russell might have the least given the injury, the domestic violence accusation, and the nonperformance before he got hurt. I think Happ has more offensive potential than Baez because he has a much better approach, so that would imply Baez – who has a .291 OBP without those 13 IBB – would be the one to market.

Sean: In your September call up article you talked about Chance Adams, do you think if he converted to being a reliever full time he would be able to be above average? Or is he just someone who’s destined to be average regardless of role?
Keith Law: I think he’d be above-average in relief and below if he starts.

Andrew: Have you seen or heard anything about Pete Alonso? What are your thoughts on him? Thank you.
Keith Law: Heard he got way too big.

Dog: Given his success in the upper minors this season, will Miguel Andujar get some consideration for being a top 50 prospect?
Keith Law: Nope.

Adam: It’s not fair to say teams “missed” on a player who went 17th overall in the draft, but what was missing from Forrest Whitley’s profile as an amateur that had him ranked lower than other pitching prospects in his class?
Keith Law: He missed over a month at the start of that spring with a thumb injury; I was supposed to go see him but he got hurt and I never got back to texas.

Tracy: Could you explain how the Az Fall League is organized? How are the groupings of the teams are arranged?
Keith Law: I can’t explain it because I don’t know of any explanation.

Eric: Really enjoyed listening to your talk in Berkeley, I’m glad you were able to make it out this far. During that session, one person asked about how teams are using data to position fielders. (Or something to that effect) My follow-up question to that would be the Game Theory approach to that information: If you as a hitter (and your coaches) know that the defense is going to shift for you, don’t you try and adjust your approach to hit against the shift? Why don’t we see more guys laying down bunts or trying to drive the ball the other way?
Keith Law: Of course they should; I’m sure some guys can’t execute it, but there are more guys who can do it and aren’t.

Adam: Scouts are reportedly concerned with how quickly Kevin Maitan has matured physically. Is it really that worrisome considering the successes of huskier prospects like Devers and Vlad Jr, or does the concern have more to do with his conditioning?
Keith Law: I haven’t heard that from any actual scouts, and I think it’s funny that everyone comped him to Miggy when he was 14 and now they’re upset that he (allegedly) has a mature body … like Miggy did even when fairly young.
Keith Law: There’s some weird shit going around with people taking oblique shots at Atlanta and I don’t get it.

Adam: Hudson Potts has had a strong second half to the season. Has his projection changed for you at all?
Keith Law: Nope. But I also wasn’t declaring him a non-prospect when he struggled this spring at 18 in low-A.

Josh Meyer: Think Royce Lewis will have a better MLB career than Buxton?
Keith Law: I don’t, but I also think Buxton is a star.

Dog: Given that his peripherals make him roughly equivalent to Mike Leake (looking at FIP and DRA), wouldn’t the Cardinals (or any other team in free agency) be crazy to give Lance Lynn a long term contract in the $20m/year range?
Keith Law: That would be crazy money, yes. Maybe if he had never been hurt, but it’s not like he brings 200 automatic innings a year.

Adam: Can Bryse Wilson be added to the list of great Braves pitching prospects or is his ceiling lower than a lot of the other guys in that system?
Keith Law: I think I said last week (?) that he’s ahead of Wentz for me.

Sourman: Is Dustin May already a top 100 prospect?
Keith Law: Nope.

Nic AZ: Hey Keith, what do you make of the season Joey Lucchesi is having? Stat line looks good, have you heard much about him?
Keith Law: Yeah, better than a senior sign when they drafted him, but more of a deception guy than stuff with a funky delivery.

Adam: Do you read graphic novels? Not necessarily the superhero stuff, but other stories told through that medium?
Keith Law: No, I dislike the medium entirely.

Rahn: Hi Keith, the Nicasio release/waivers deal is just the latest in deflating, $-grubbing moves by the Nutting-owned Pirates. Stood next to the Penguins and Steelers (who obviously work within the league salary cap), the Pirates are seen rightfully as nickel-and-dimers that never make the commitment to winning the others do. What has been your perspective on the Pirates franchise?
Keith Law: Don’t think that’s remotely fair to the club.

Michael: Hi Klaw- Do you have any go-to cookbooks, sites, or recipes for quick (under 30 mins prep/cook time) dinners for family that actually taste decent?
Keith Law: I don’t per se, but any decent cookbook for beginners (I always start with Joy of Cooking) should indicate total time – and remember to add a little bit if it’s your first time doing a recipe.

Roger: What do you think the Reds do with Senzel and Suarez? Senzel looks like a future star while Suarez just turned 26 and has worked himself into a very good hitter and solid fielder. Move one to second? Outfield?
Keith Law: Suarez to 2b, Senzel stays at 3b.

Otanimania: If you were a GM who was told by Otani’s agent that allowing him to hit was a mandatory part of signing him would you do it? I imagine given the IFA restrictions his decision will probably come down to something like that
Keith Law: If we’re doing handshake deals I’d rather do one that says, hey, we’ll tear this up in a year and give you $20MM a year than hamstring myself like that given the probability that he’s not even an adequate MLB hitter.

Rob K: Terry keeps pinch hitting for Dom Smith against lefties. Jose Reyes is on pace to lead the Mets in plate appearances. Sandy had to prioritize dumping payroll over restocking a now-empty farm system. The only treatment for Matz’s clearly swollen elbow (before season-ending surgery) was weeks of injecting painkillers. No question, I am just sad.
Keith Law: No answer other than that Teflon Terry needed to be gone a year ago.

Your Honor: How worried should the Yankees be about Aaron Judge’s post all star break? Have you seen anything in his swing that would indicate he’s hurt or is it just something wrong mechanically? It just seems very odd that his hard hit ball% would fall off a cliff so suddenly.
Keith Law: He is hurt, right? I’m pretty sure the shoulder is a problem.

chito: Why is Allard ranked higher in most prospect rankings than Soroka? Thanks!
Keith Law: LHP with plus CB vs low-slot RHP without.

Jake Lewis: Can you talk for a little bit about Miguel Castro? The Kids been filthy ever since he got called up in Baltimore. Thoughts on his long term as a SP?
Keith Law: More likely a reliever but an electric arm.

ExExpos: Taylor Ward, Matt Thaiss and Jahmai Jones have been doing well after their recent promotions. Do any have a shot at being in your top 100? And do you think Thaiss could develop more power?
Keith Law: Jones was already there. Ward has no shot – why would you just ignore how awful he was in a larger sample before the promotion? I don’t think Thaiss will develop more than average power, if that; he’s a high hit tool/low power type.

Derek: If you squint, Robles’s 2017 numbers don’t look all that different from Acuna’s. Numbers wise, Robles was better in High-A and not quite as good in AA. Robles has high BABIPs, though not completely insane for a fast guy who makes good contact. Acuna’s numbers are clearly inflated – though surely just somewhat – by his pushing .400 BABIP. If Acuna merits a call-up in September, doesn’t Robles? Yes, the Nats aren’t going to do this, but should they? They need OF help in the short term with Harper out and maybe Robles is lightning in a bottle. Why not give him a look?
Keith Law: There are service-time/40-man reasons not to promote a guy before he’s needed, especially if he’s not likely to be on the OD roster the next year. Not least is that if he gets hurt, now or in March, you’re going to have to carry him on the major-league DL, pay him a ML salary, and give him service time while he’s out. Bigger risk for pitchers, obviously.

Advanced: Do you view statcast stuff like spinrate, exit velocity, launch angle, perceived velocity, etc as a way to put a number on things scouts pick up on?
Keith Law: Some. I discuss this at length in the last few chapters of Smart Baseball.

addoeh: I know rosters expanding to 40 in September gives some guys a chance to play in the majors and some young players experience. But shouldn’t we still keep a 25 man roster for the games? That 25 man roster can change every day if managers want to, giving players opportunities to play. But it seems better solution than each team having 15-20 pitchers in the bullpen and countless pitching changes. These games still have meaning and it seems silly to play 80% of the year with one set of rules and 20% with another set. Agree?
Keith Law: I’d be fine with 28-man rosters, a nod to the need to maybe ease up on some pitchers and rotate some hitters out but still let them get 2 AB for themselves or for the fans (like in spring training). 40 is bonkers.

jay_B: Over/under two 3-WAR seasons for Kyle Schwarber in his career? BABIP in the 230s is going to make it tough.
Keith Law: I do not believe he’s a .230 BABIP guy. I’ll say over.

AD: How do you think society can get to a point where things like anxiety, depression, and substance addiction are widely viewed/treated as the diseases that they are instead of a state of mind or a defect?
Keith Law: Eh, we’re a long way from that. We can’t even seem to accept that a trans person is an actual person.

Chris: Thanks for another chat, Keith. I’m a Mets fan and readily and freely admit many Mets fans are panicky clowns. Many are already having the vapors over Dom Smith’s weight/lack of immediate production. What do I tell my friends who are ready to move Smith in favor of Peter Alonso, who is older than Smith but only now in AA and off to a good start there? I’ll just go on ignoring all together the ones wanting to bring back Jay Bruce to play 1b.
Keith Law: You need better friends.

Derek: Assuming Eaton is healthy in 2018, do you think the Nats should (a) put Eaton in CF and pursue a corner guy in a trade/FA; or (b) platoon Michael A. Taylor and Brian Goodwin and invest resources elsewhere? Put another way, is a MAT/Goodwin platoon good enough for a club that has WS aspirations in 2018?
Keith Law: Harper’s last year means you go all in.

Satya: Hi Keith, is it too early to get excited by Austin Riley’s better numbers at AA than he had at A+? And has he made swing adjustments to help overcome his slow bat speed?
Keith Law: He’s striking out at a much higher rate in AA. And a good rule of thumb is that if a guy stunk at high-A and then has 100 good AB in AA, the first part is real.

Benny: I saw your tweet about Greg Allen’s call-up. Think he can be a starter or more of a 4OF type?
Keith Law: 4OF. Zero power, and not a super-disciplined guy for high OBPs. Plus I can’t see pitchers pitching around him much.

J: Vlad the Impaler with Impaling Discipline is doing more than fine at High-A at age 18 (33/26 BB/K). Start 2018 at AA? Or do they slow him down a bit and return to Dunedin?
Keith Law: I bet he starts in Dunedin and gets to AA around May 1st when the snow melts.

Rob: What are your overall impressions of Villains? I feel like the album starts out and closes very strong, but really falls flat in the middle. Thanks.
Keith Law: Two great tracks, a lot of solid album tracks. Planning to listen to it again on my drive to Reading tonight.

Nate: Keith, My observation of Moncada has been his high k-rates have been a lot about a passive approach. Has this always been the case?
Keith Law: No, he has trouble getting the bat head to the zone in time especially on stuff in on his hands.

Jason: What do you see as a realistic outcome for Scott Kingery’s career? I’ve seen on other chats that you’ve compared him to Altuve but do you see that as his ceiling? Or is he a star?
Keith Law: If he develops some patience – he really just goes after the first pitch he can hit, and so far, he’s hit most of them – he could turn into an Altuve type, but that’s a top 5% kind of outcome. Very few players go from this sort of approach to Altuve’s level of patience.

Sean: When will you admit that you were wrong about Dylan Bundy?
Keith Law: Maybe when I’m wrong about him. Pro tip: “When will you admit…” is a grade 20 approach.

Andrew, NY: i didnt read the article about the TEX/HOU swap, but did see some of your back and forth on twitter. if the idea was to just swap the home games how is Tex negatively effected? would the cost be that high to accommodate the switch?
Keith Law: Those home games are not equal. Houston lost those three home games to the hurricane. Those games and the associated revenue were gone. Houston wanted to be able to move those dates to the future, to games Texas already had on their calendar, for which they had sold tickets and likely set up promotions, games Texas might need for their wild card chances (unlikely, but nonzero), to recoup the lost revenue at Texas’s expense. There’s no reason on earth the Rangers should take that deal, because it’s a pure loss for them and gain for Houston. Instead, the Rangers offered to host the games, let Houston be the home team, and give Houston all the revenue. That was so much clearly better than 1) status quo for Houston or 2) playing in the St. Petersburg mausoleum that the Astros declining the offer left them without a nose.

Stanley: Hi! Percentage odds Tatis Jr. stays at short?
Keith Law: Better than even.

Chris: With Acuna’s streak, he’s obviously a hot topic in Braves country. He’s not Mike Trout (no one is), but is Jim Edmonds a reasonable expectation?
Keith Law: Edmonds hit 393 homers in his career and topped 40 twice. I would not bet on Acuna doing that.

Brian: What exactly IS Tommy Pham? A guy enjoying a temporary spike in performance? Or someone who’s achieved a newfound level of health (mostly on account of corrective eye surgery) who can be a solid everyday player going forward?
Keith Law: Both. Some of this is clearly flukish, and he’s 29, so it’s not like we’ve got a long window here, but he’s had some history of hitting (and has some tools too) around his nonstop injuries.

David: Loved the book! Surprised you didn’t take the opportunity to vent about the double whammy of a guy blowing the save and then getting credit for the win when his team bails him out later. There’s a special level of hell in the scorebook for that one. Pickings too easy there, or just got left on the editing room floor?
Keith Law: Too big a tangent.

Adam D.: As it’s impossible to know who will be best player available come June, who is the better fit for the Giants right now, Brady Singer or Seth Beer and why in your opinion?
Keith Law: Neither. Singer has big reliever risk – reminds me a bit of Jonathan Crawford – and Beer is at the far end of the defensive spectrum.

Brian: In the preseason you said that Jack Flaherty had great command, good-but-not-great stuff, and projects as a mid-rotation starter. Is that still how you see him? Or has his stuff improved over the past year?
Keith Law: Yep, still that guy. Excited to see him tomorrow.
Keith Law: on TV, that is. I won’t be there.

Aaron: In Houston. Thanks for the chat Klaw. Much needed after all the devistation. It’s the little things. When will climate change be taken seriously by our govt.
Keith Law: You are already seeing alt-right voices rushing to say this has nothing to do with climate change, and the basket of gullibles who follow them will eat it right up.

Hunter Harvey: What are your current thoughts on Hunter Harvey now that he is back throwing successfully for the first time in a long time?
Keith Law: Stuff is great but still very cross-body, the way the O’s changed him before he got hurt … not many guys stay healthy throwing like that.

Jake: So…Rafael Montero has actually been okay the last month. Is he a GUY?
Keith Law: Yes. I think he’s more than OK but has had some horrible luck/non-support from defense.

Mike: Lord knows I’ve tried, but somewhere in the rubble of the late 70s/early 80s there’s a “Saturday Night Fever” ripoff that starred Adrian Zmed and only played on Cinemax. The new Arcade Fire is the soundtrack for that movie.
Keith Law: That’s frighteningly accurate. The shame is that “Everything Now” is one of the five best songs I’ve heard this year. The middle of the album is a pretentious mess.

J: Do you think WIllie Calhoun gets a cup of coffee next week, or gets held off til next April? Bat seems ready…
Keith Law: See the answer above about premature callups. They have some disincentive due to the CBA, which is unfortunate for players and fans.

Hank: The Braves obviously have a lot of arms in the minor league system, but I’m still nervous about it. I don’t scout these guys, so please give me your thoughts. I just don’t see anyone with front line upside besides Wright and maybe Gohara. Looks like a bunch of mid rotation guys, no?
Keith Law: Anderson and Wilson would be in that group too.

Steve: Any books post- Lush Life to be added soon to KLaw Top 100?
Keith Law: I do need to update that this winter. All the Light We Cannot See and In the Light of What We Know would both make it. Infinite Jest would. The Orphan Master’s Son and The Sense of an Ending would both require some thought. I finished the Bloomsbury Must-Read Novels list after I posted that last 100, I think, so something like Middlemarch or Bleak House might belong.

Jeremiah: Before the season, you were tauting Daniel Norris as a potential #1/#2 starter, but he has been terrible. (He currently has a 10.50 ERA after five rehab starts in Triple A.) Has his stuff regressed? Has he lost command? Has he been hurt all year? What’s going on here?
Keith Law: Hasn’t been healthy all year.

Danny: Hoping to hear your take on Nick Solak and Kyle Holder with the Yankees. Do they profile as MLB regulars to you after the seasons they’ve had?
Keith Law: Holder is a backup for me – all glove no bat. Solak might be a second-division regular, I think, but I’d like to see him more.

Tim: Was hoping for a Strand or other NYC book store signing this summer. Any chance of that still happening over the off-season?
Keith Law: Nothing worked out. If you have a local store that does signings and they want to try to set something up, let me know or have them contact Danielle Bartlett at HarperCollins.

Angelo: Is it to early to ask which players are worth watching in the AFL?
Keith Law: Yes only because I’m not going to spend time on the rosters until we get closer to October. Some guys won’t be there when AFL Opening Day rolls around.

Jeremiah: Jordan Hicks has been great since his promotion to Palm Beach (1.00 ERA, 32 Ks/6 BBs in 27 innings.) Has he turned a corner? What can we expect from him? Front-end starter?
Keith Law: Front-end starter stuff, but command isn’t there yet.

Jack: Think the Phillies can pencil Hoskins into their 3 hole for the next 5 years?
Keith Law: I think he’s their first baseman for the next 5 years. I don’t want to overreact to a crazy first 20 games.

Chris : Who would you like Mets to look at to replace TC?
Keith Law: There’s a potted plant in my office that would make a nice upgrade.

Larry: I’m an Atlanta fan terrified about rebuilding around pitching. Why is the next group of pitchers different from Blair, Wisler, Newcomb, Sims?
Keith Law: The next wave is better across the board – better stuff, better athletes, more command.

Jon Orr: Have you/are you doing a write up on the Leake trade?
Keith Law: Nope. I don’t bother with salary dumps.

romorr: Keegan Akin, did his season go as you expected, anything he did better or worse? Going forward, what could he work on to improve on his 2017 season?
Keith Law: I wasn’t a big fan, so I guess as expected? Also he’s hurt and I heard he wasn’t good his last few outings.

Jim: So, I’m not trying to name names….but, it sure sounds like that Rosenthal article had the Wren family(Frank or Jeff) written all over it. Okay – so there are some names.
Keith Law: That was my immediate assumption too. Atlanta promoted and reassigned a bunch of people, like every team does every fall. The rest sounded like bullshit.

Chris: Was a bit disappointing to hear your take on Adams, but it seems the Yanks themselves may be not all in on him as a SP. BTW, what did you think of Yard Goats’ field never heard?
Keith Law: Both Hartford and Scranton have beautiful parks. Really impressed by both. Love that Hartford’s park is in a ‘bad’ area of town, too, since that might actually spur a little growth – never enough to justify the public expense, but at least it might help.

Jack: So apparently Buxton has a hamate bone injury. They don’t know if it’s broke yet or not. Is the Twins season over if it is?
Keith Law: No, but if he broke his hamate I don’t want to see him play again until March. Players who’ve had that talk about how long it takes to regain full strength in the hand.

Strohm: Best version of Ticket to Ride?
My vacation rental house had the USA version and my nephew was really into it. Want to get him one for upcoming bday.
Keith Law: USA with the 1910 expansion and Europe are still my favorites. France map (coming soon) will drastically change the game, maybe making it better but also more complex.

Kris: The phillies rebuild is an unmitigated disaster right? Having guys like Joseph and Galvis block top prospects makes zero sense. No imminent pitching help. Most of their prospects not named Sixto having disappointing seasons. MacPhail needs to go.
Keith Law: Well, that honeymoon ended quickly.

TJ: What do you make of billy McKinneys good statistical season? Do you think he can be an every day caliber player in MLB?
Keith Law: Saw him. Probably not a regular, but there’s a chance. Still a lot of swing and miss there for a guy with such a pretty swing.

JR: Have you made any donations to charity to help Houston? I’ve read too much bad stuff on red cross to consider donation to them, but want to help. Any thoughts on most worthwhile places to donate too to help?
Keith Law: I don’t give to the Red Cross, ever. I had just written a check to a local food bank last week, so all I’ve done so far is bought about $50 in supplies for that law firm (Merritt) in Dallas that’s loading up trucks with essentials to ship down to Houston.

Michael Devon : Thanks, Keith. Logan Allen and Freddy Peralta. Curious what scouts are saying. Thanks!
Keith Law: Discussed Allen last week. Peralta is a short RHP who’s 88-92. Not sure why I’ve been asked about him a few times this week on twitter. He’s just a guy.

A: Hi Keith, thanks for chatting. What would you expect to see out of Cornelius Randolph in the AFL?
Keith Law: I’d like to actually see him hit; he’s been pretty disappointing at the plate, and that’s his entire game.

Ben, the NYC: Have you seen Ronaldo Hernandez?
Keith Law: I have never been to an Appy League game in my life.

Dallas: Have you heard anything on Gabriel Arias the 2016 July 1st signing moved up to Lo-A for the Padres?
Keith Law: Saw him in March, he’s pretty young for low-A but they have so many young SS that someone had to move up to get everyone playing time. I liked what I saw in spring training but he seemed a long way away, like most of their 17-year-old kids. Tatis was there, and even one year older made him look like the grown-up in the group.

TG: If you are the Nationals and are concerned you can’t sign Harper, would you try to get Stanton and his comparatively friendly deal compared to what it might take to sign Harper.
Keith Law: Stanton’s deal is the opposite of friendly, IMO, but I could very much see the Nats acquiring him if they believe Harper is as good as gone. They also need to figure out how much they’ll pay Rendon, who is quietly having an MVP type of season.

J: What do you think about Cleveland’s C prospect Mejia playing 3rd base now? Defense stalled at C? Or just trying to get him on the roster?
Keith Law: I have a feeling it’s to get him on the roster and/or give him some time off from behind the plate. I don’t think his defense has stalled or that he needs a new position.

Tom: 538 had a column confirming what we pretty much knew: Albert Pujols is the worst everyday player in MLB (despite the RBIs). But… in your opinion, what can the Angels really do with him at this point?
Keith Law: Nothing. I don’t see them releasing him so they have to wear it.

Jesse B: Does Adbert Alzolay have the size to pitch 200+ innings, or is he more reliever? What’s his ceiling?
Keith Law: I haven’t seen him myself, but others tell me he’s a clear starter with a chance to be a very good one, a two or better.

Layton Sheets: Do you see Alex Jackson as a future star in the Major Leagues ?
Keith Law: No, but unlike a year ago, he looks like a big leaguer.

TG: Do you support nuclear power as a way to combat climate change? It really is the only carbon neutral technology that is capable of powering our grids in the near future.
Keith Law: I do but I fear Fukushima may have ended our hope of a nuclear power renaissance.

Jim: So Anderson and Wilson have higher upsides than Allard and Soroka?
Keith Law: Yes, that’s accurate.

Chris: i read somewhere the upside comp for Billy McKinney is Seth Smith. Fair?
Keith Law: I can’t go that far.

Bro: Who are your top 5 pitching prospects at the end of the year? Based on previous chats and media, I was thinking your top 5 would be (in no particular order) Whitley, Kopech, Keller, Buehler, and I don’t really know who the 5th would be. Quantrill maybe?
Keith Law: Those are the top four, clearly, and then there’s a big black line between that group and the next tier. The next group of high-upside guys are all kids a long way off – Sixto, Groome, Ian Anderson – too far to put them in the top tier.

Josh Gilbert: What do you think about old guys collecting baseball players autographs ?
Keith Law: Whatever finds your lost remote.

Terpitude: Hunter Greene reportedly 100-102 in one short inning of work. Having just turned 18, could this be a guy who pitches at around 105 with command when his body fills out? That would be unprecedented as a starter. Thanks.
Keith Law: No, I don’t expect him to add any velocity. His arm ain’t getting faster. Nor would I want that.

Joe: Did you do a write-up on your trip to SWB? I want to see your thoughts on Andujar and McKinney.
Keith Law: Not yet; if I had you would certainly be sick of me posting the link. I post writeups every few games, so that the individual posts aren’t too short or too specific to one team.

Drew: Any cause for concern with Erick Fedde’s rough start, especially with diminished velocity in his last outing? I know us Nats fans were spoiled by Strasburg’s debut but Fedde isn’t separating pod from sock right now…
Keith Law: Yes, big concern. He looks awful.

Keith: Do you view the rising K rate of hitters as a problem that MLB needs to solve? If so, how? 4 strikes and you’re out?
Keith Law: Raise the bottom of the strike zone.

Dr. Bob: I have the 30-minute cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. Good stuff in there.
Keith Law: Their stuff is pretty solid overall, too, although I find Kimball’s writing a little cloying.

David: Knowing what you know of Urias’ injury, do you see he or Buehler with the higher upside (in 3 years) to be the Dodgers’ #2 starter?
Keith Law: Urias’ career might be over. I would assign him a value near zero at this point because of the probability that he’s done or comes back greatly reduced.

MJ: Verdugo getting called up. Has hit .252 in last two months. Is it smart to start his service time now?
Keith Law: I don’t care what his average was in the last two months if I’m deciding whether to call a player up.

Dave : Hey Keith, anything to read into with Mason Martin destroying GCL? Probably not, right?
Keith Law: Not really. He hit 7 homers in the first 12 games (I think) then 3 in the next 40 or so. Weird stuff happens in short season. At least, that’s what Mitch Einertson and Dante Bichette, Jr., told me.

Rahn: So if that is not fair to the Pirates, what is fair comment or consideration, Keith?
Keith Law: Nicasio had limited trade value; I know they shopped him in July, asked for a lot, and didn’t get an offer they liked. It’s two months of a rental reliever who is very good now but has only been good for a year and a half. I had an AGM with another club speculate to me that the team that claimed Nicasio on trade waivers – which he was, by an NL team – offered the Pirates bupkis, so rather than do that they chose to just let him go and figure he’d at least get to go pitch for a playoff team in the AL. I can’t confirm that, but it makes sense, and it doesn’t make the Pirates “cheap.”

Tom: Is Grayson Long a legitimate mid-rotation starter?
Keith Law: No, back-end at best.

ML: Twins just announced it’s a bone contusion for Buxton. Not a hamate
Keith Law: Hamate is a bone, though.

Gerry: I know he’s better on DL twice but is Aaron Altherr for real from what you’ve seen?
Keith Law: He’s intriguing – athlete who never really put it together at the plate, suddenly does so in the majors, so the track record isn’t there but the physical tools are. That’s an “I’m not sure.”

Jesse B: Why isn’t Honeywell in the top 5?
Keith Law: Why would he be? Doesn’t have the stuff of those guys.

Mick: Will you be following the U18 Thunder Bay Canada tournament? Any prospects from non traditional baseball countries that you’re excited about?
Keith Law: I wanted to go see team USA in Minneapolis but the forecast was for rain all weekend. I wouldn’t follow any team but ours there.

Connor: Another injury for Meadows. Do his repeated injuries now effect his prospect ranking for you at all?
Keith Law: Injuries are why I omitted him from my top 50 at midyear.

B: What happens if Albert Pujols retires? I mean, if he continues to struggle and doesn’t want to “tarnish” his legacy, could the Angels quietly offer him a buyout to retire?
Keith Law: I don’t know the man but I wonder if he’s conscious of some upcoming milestones. He’s 61 hits from 3000, and 18 homers from tying Griffey. Junior limped through the last decade or so of his career and still sailed into the Hall.

Bradley: What are your thoughts on Mickey Moniak’s struggles this year? Young for that league…struggles with hitting LHP? Do you imagine he will right the ship from what you’ve seen?
Keith Law: Didn’t like what I saw this year but he’s still just 19. Recognition of breaking stuff was awful.

Jon, WI: How do you like Orlando Arcia’s first full year of performance? What’s his ceiling hitting wise?
Keith Law: Was hoping for a little more but I am pleased with his progress. Still a lot more upside in the bat especially as the approach improves.

Jon: Just looking at your tags and found that the last time you used “sushi” was in 2014. Have you stopped eating sushi?
Keith Law: I’m glad someone uses the tags on these posts – I tag everything and put a lot of thought into them. I do eat sushi but not frequently because I’m really picky about it (it’s raw fish, I think it’s fair to be picky).

ML: Touche. Just meant they’re saying it’s not broken and he’s available for defense and on the bases today
Keith Law: That’s good news. But I’d be fine if they said they’re giving him the weekend off or something.

Jared: Jimmie Nelson seems to have had a breakout year (5th in Fangraphs WAR). Is this who he is or is he still more of a 3/4?
Keith Law: This is probably a peak but I’d be fine with a forecast of a run of seasons that range from league-average to comfortably above-average.

Patrick : Medina, Suarez, Kilome, Dominguez, Romero…all legit prospects after Sixto? Thanks Klaw
Keith Law: Yes, no idea, seeing tonight, probably, yes. I’m assuming those are Luis Suarez and Seranthony Dominguez.

romorr: Mancini is putting up some nice numbers, HRs seem right, but with his lack of patience, hes bound to lose some average. Just curious if that was what you saw, or is there a better eye as he matures.
Keith Law: Suprised by the power, but I guess everyone hits 20+ homers now. Agree that the average seems likely to come down.

Grover: is it really a foregone conclusion that the Nats won’t resign Harper? They aren’t exactly a small market, and aren’t averse to spending. Just seems like everyone has been expecting them to part ways for years.
Keith Law: Not a conclusion but a likelihood. I see no chance he or Machado signs for less than the best offer. With the number of likely bidders for both guys, how likely are you as one team to have the best offer on either? You have to plan like he’s gone.

Adam F.: What are some games that would scale well as a four player game, with two ten year olds, an eight year and a six year old? They have played Ticket to Ride and King of Tokyo, but not much else outside of your basic generic board games. Thanks!
Keith Law: I’d give Splendor a shot. Takenoko is very cute and might work if you help the six-year-old a little. I also reviewed Kingdomino here last week and think it would work for that group:
Keith Law: OK, that’s all for this week. I’ll be in Reading tonight and hope to hit a couple more minor league games next week before the season wraps up. I should be back for another chat next Thursday. Thank you all as always for reading and for all of your questions!