Arizona eats, October 2015 edition.

My second and final Arizona Fall League post for this year is up for Insiders, covering Dom Smith, Clint Frazier, Jake Reed, Jason Garcia, and more.

The biggest news in Phoenix food has been the arrival of the Noble Bread Company, crafted artisan loaves of classic European breads, so good that every restaurant I tried all week that served bread bought it from Noble. (One such restaurant: the estimable FnB, still outstanding and one of the best bets in town if you want to eat a lot of vegetables and still feel like you had a real meal.) Noble now has a second spot, the Noble Eatery on McDowell, where the menu changes daily and includes two or three sandwiches, a flatbread option, and a salad. I went with their open-faced tuna salad sandwich, made with olive oil rather than mayo and including chickpeas and potatoes, served on a dark, crusty peasant loaf; with three slices and a huge portion of the tuna it was more than a meal for me, closer to two. The bread is just to die for – this ranks among the best breads I’ve ever tasted, with the texture expert bread bakers describe as “creamy” inside a crackling crust.

nocawich reopened in a new location in Tempe on College Avenue, right in the heart of ASU’s campus, this summer, with their justifiably renowned fried chicken sandwich still on the menu, as well as a giant patty melt served on good rye sandwich bread and triple-fried French fries that are out of another world entirely. On this trip I tried their breakfast, getting an oversized egg and chorizo sandwich with arugula, avocado, tomato, mayo (not much), and cheese on a sesame bagel from H&H in New York City. Everything Elliott creates there is amazing, and if I wasn’t behaving myself a little bit this week I would have grabbed one of the incredible pastries available – he has a pastry chef fly in from Portland to make them weekly. Other than nocawich I stuck to morning favorites on this trip: crêpe bar, the Hillside Spot, Matt’s Big Breakfast, Cartel Coffee Lab, and Giant Coffee.

My frequent dining partner-in-crime Nick Piecoro introduced me to a new taco/burger place in Arcadia called the Stand, where the menu is very simple: a burger, three types of tacos, hand-cut fries, and shakes. I tried all three tacos, for research purposes of course, and would recommend the short rib and chicken tacos but not the vegetable taco, which couldn’t hold the fillings in and was decidedly flat in flavor, with a lot in it (mostly quinoa and some sort of winter squash) but nothing that really popped in flavor. It needed something with umami to bring it together.

Speaking of that fifth taste, Umami in Tempe (very close to nocawich, at 7th and Mill) does ramen, and a few other things, but mostly ramen, customizable to order with five choices of broths and about a dozen or so toppings or add-ons, including chicken, roast pork, and pork belly. I went with the pork and chicken bone broth, roast pork, and a soft-cooked egg, all of which came out perfectly – the broth itself was a little salty but full of body and depth of flavor. They could probably stand to use better noodles, though; these tasted like they came right out of the package, even though more hip ramen joints in other towns have gone with fresh ramen noodles instead. The ramen, a small seaweed salad, and an iced tea ran about $13 before tip, and it was plenty of food for one.

La Piazza al Forno isn’t new – it’s been open since around the time I first moved to Arizona in 2010 – but its location in downtown Glendale, next to Cuff (one of my favorite spots on the west side), isn’t that convenient to any of the ballparks, so I hadn’t tried it till this week. Their specialty is Neapolitan-style pizzas, and they have the VPN certification that is supposed to go only to places that correctly follow the standards of Neapolitan pizza … although in my experience the VPN designation means virtually practically nothing. La Piazza’s pizzas are thin and they use top-quality ingredients, including San Marzano tomatoes and the option of using mozzarella di bufala, but the pies’ centers aren’t wet as they should be in Neapolitan pizza, and they put the basil on before baking the pizzas so it comes out very dark and loses its bright, faintly sweet flavor. Still, if you’re looking for pizza on the west side of Phoenix it’s this and Grimaldi’s and nothing else I’d recommend.

My one real disaster meal of the week was at a new modern Italian restaurant in Old Town called Evo, where the focus is on handmade pastas but not on service or even execution. The concepts for the dishes are sound, but neither item I ordered was well-constructed, and one of them came out wrong (spinach, which I can’t eat, instead of the promised escarole, an essential ingredient in the dish). The white-bean hummus with the roasted cauliflower was too thin and coarse, and didn’t add anything to the cauliflower itself, which was beautifully caramelized. The house-made orecchiette in the main course were shaped incorrectly – more like thimbles, so that the individual pieces couldn’t pick up any portions of the sauce or the other items in the dish. Even the fennel sausage in the dish was off, cut into inch-long rectangular blocks rather than broken up into smaller pieces when cooked. My meal also took forever; I don’t think my main course was fired until I reminded my server about it, a half hour after I ordered, despite the fact that the restaurant was almost empty. I would guess that EVO will be gone before I get back in March given the food and the rent at that location.

Still good: FnB, especially their socca with pickled butternut squash and cultured butter, and their salad of persimmons, pecans, pomegranates, and shaved Parmesan with mixed greens; and Welcome Chicken and Donuts, although I think the next time I go there I’ll try the chicken without any sauce at all. I tried a chocolate-glazed donut with pistachios and what I think were rose petal-flavored marshmallows; it was good but the donut tasted a little past its peak. Crêpe Bar in Tempe (Elliott and Rural) appears to be expanding, and they still bring out all kinds of little bites that the kitchen has thrown together. I can also verify that Citizen Public House still makes a mean negroni. The Revival in Tempe has closed; however, former executive chef Kelly Fletcher is now at Phoenix landmark El Chorro as chef de cuisine.

Saturday five, 10/24/15.

I had one Insider post this past week, covering Arizona Fall League prospects, and will have another one up this weekend now that my trip to the Valley is done. I also held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

I’m taking vacation this upcoming week, so I’ll be off social media for a bit and won’t have any Insider posts after the second AFL dispatch goes up. I may still chat Thursday, however, now that those are mine and a bit more loose and fun.

And now, the links…

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

My first AFL dispatch for Insiders covers Jurickson Profar, Alex Reyes, Ian Clarkin, and more.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is Philip K. Dick at his paranoid, mind-bending best, the kind of fiction he was doing long before it became somewhat mainstream with films like Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to play with layers of reality and imagination. There’s a mystical component here that also presages the outright religious overtones of his later work (notably V.A.L.I.S.), but with a more questioning and slightly cynical note to it, along with an absolutely bleak view of the near future of our species.

In the novel, PKD gives us an Earth so ravaged by environmental destruction that it is too hot for anyone to go outside unless they’re in one of the resort towns of Antarctica, while overpopulation has led the UN to undertake forcible migration via a draft lottery to various colonies scattered throughout the solar system, all of which involve living in underground “hovels” with only occasional glimpses of the surface. There’s also been interstellar travel to the (fictional) planet Prox, presumably around Proxima Centauri, from which the industrialist Palmer Eldritch has returned after a ten-year voyage, crash-landing on Pluto with a suspicious, unknown bit of cargo with him.

The colonists are all hooked on a drug called Can-D (say it out loud) that allows them to engage in a sort of group hallucination where they can inhabit, almost Being John Malkovich-style, two fictional characters, Perky Pat and her boyfriend Walter, whose environments within the hallucinations are determined by what layouts and miniatures the colonists have purchased. To put it another way, you buy the dolls, the dollhouse, the doll furniture and doll cars and doll whatevers, and then you chew the drug that lets you be the dolls. It’s big business, including the folks who sell the goods that get “minned” to be sold to colonists for their layouts.

Eldritch has brought back a new drug, called Chew-Z, that requires no layouts and is even more potent in the dream-states it provides to the users – but with an apparent cost in lost liberty, although exactly how that works isn’t revealed until later in the novel. But suddenly the users no longer control their hallucinations, and who exactly is controlling them and what the nature of that being is become the critical questions for the protagonists of the novel, none of whom is exactly operating with clean hands.

PKD touches on three of his most frequent and successful themes in The Three Stigmata: perception, paranoia, and mortality. What’s real is never clear in the book; we get layers of unreality, characters emerging from altered states unsure whether they’ve left the alteration or merely entered new ones, and the aforementioned questions of control of their perceptions. That plays into PKD’s paranoid themes, which also appear in the book’s greater structure – Earth in a sort of environmental ruin, the UN exercising a tyrannical hold on the world’s population, a free (or sort-of-free) market that enslaves its workers through their materialistic demands. As for the theme of our mortality, saying too much would spoil the book’s conclusion, but this book presages the exploration of the same theme in Ubik and also hints at the mystical conversion he underwent after what he believed to be a religious experience in the early 1970s.

PKD avoids the taut ending the reader might demand but that the story obviates – you can’t tie all of this up cleanly because the story is, by design, so messy. But it also fits the difficulty of addressing all of the metaphysical questions he asks in this book and in most of his works, about the nature of reality as we perceive it, about how much we cede our privacy and liberty to governing bodies, and of course about life and death and whether there is something beyond the latter. The Three Stigmata asks this sort of uncomfortable, unanswerable questions, just as PKD does in most of his best works.

Next up: Another Hugo winner, Robert Sawyer’s Hominids.

Klawchat 10/22/15.

Klaw: Time to eat all your words, swallow your pride … Klawchat.

Noah: If you were the Phillies, who would you pick first overall in the 2016 draft?
Klaw: I don’t believe there’s a clear 1-1 candidate in this draft yet. I think if the draft were today it’d be Alec Hanson of Oklahoma, but this isn’t a Harper or Strasburg situation, and even Gerrit Cole, who I thought was the clear 1-1 in his class, didn’t emerge as that until March or so of his junior year.

Darren D.: Not to overreact, but would you give Marco Estrada a QO if you were Anthopoulos? Assuming Price and Buehrle are gone, the ’16 rotation right now is Stroman, presumably Dickey, Hutchison and I guess Sanchez?
Klaw: I probably would not, because I think regression for him is almost inevitable, but I wouldn’t say that it was the wrong choice if they did so. Same for Daniel Murphy – not going to be worth the QO, but I can’t tell you it’s a bad move, just not what I would do.

Mark: How good is Willson Contreras defensively?
Klaw: I’ve heard more than just playable or average. So far I’ve only seen him hit here – two doubles and a homer yesterday – and I love what I see at the plate.

Andrew: Do you ever see Ray Black becoming anything more than an interesting arm in the minors? The BB/9 issues are Crick-esque, and he’s a 25 year old in A+ ball, which makes me think he won’t be much in the majors, despite the great velocity
Klaw: He needs a viable second pitch and then I think they really have something. I’m not concerned about his age because I don’t think it matters for relievers and because he has a good reason (missed 2.5 years with injuries).

Mike in Nashville: THE METS KEITH THE METS! What’s the over/under on Mets World Series appearances the next 5 years?
Klaw: Two? I do not believe this is their last one in this run – they’re only getting better.

Chris Plouffe: Does Jacoby Jones have enough at the plate to be considered even a major league utility player?
Klaw: I don’t think so. Great athlete, could still figure it out.

Jay: Keith, can i get your thoughts on Alex Reyes’ first AFL start of the year and his outlook moving ahead?
Klaw: You can’t, because I wasn’t in Arizona yet, but I will see him in about three hours!

Bob: Did your wife also go to Harvard — or some other highly thought of institution?
Klaw: Nope.

JR: The full Kyle Schwarber was on display in the NLCS: great hitting, not so great defense. Is it something the Cubs keep living with and hope the defense improves, or do they look to trade him to an AL team for pitching?
Klaw: I think he ends up an average or fringe-average defender in LF. I doubt they trade him – the front office believes very, very strongly in his makeup.

Kraig: You have talked several times about players you have missed on, one way or another. Have you adjusted your evaluations based on any of thoses misses, for example did you find yourself over or undervaluing certain attributes? Or is it more than baseball is very hard and things just don’t always turn out like you expect?
Klaw: Both, no question. I pay a bit more attention to certain stats, to certain skills (e.g. questions around hand-eye coordination), worry less about body types, etc. You have to adjust, but you’ll also never get everything right in this business and IMO you can’t try to change your approach for every failure either.

Bob: In the past, someone would have grossly overpaid for Daniel Murphy, a decent regular 2B, based on October. Have GMs gotten smart enough that this is no longer the case?
Klaw: I think it’s much less likely now but not impossible, and there are always owners who want to make the big splash by saying “we signed the World Series hero!”

Julio: What level would you expect Eddy Julio Martinez to be at to start next season (assuming not some EXST for extra ABs, obviously)
Klaw: Probably low-A to see what his approach is like, because I don’t think anyone knows how advanced or raw he is in that regard.

SB: Thoughts on Dan Dakich calling you “lil” Keith in your exchange last night? Not sure what your size has to do with anything.
Klaw: That ended the conversation for me. I am short and slight and I don’t think I need to apologize for either.

TC: I’m excited you say the Mets are only getting better, but how do you see them reloading on offense in the offseason assuming Murphy/Cespedes are gone and the only other bat in the lineup headed for his prime is Conforto?
Klaw: Smith is coming reasonably quickly, Herrera should be a real asset on offense, Cecchini may be as well, Rosario is still a potential all-star. They’ll probably need to add one bat this winter to bridge the gap to those kids.

Logan: Was anybody else in on Dickey when the Mets looked to trade him? d’Arnaud I’m okay with, but including Thor really hurts.
Klaw: We have to give the Mets credit – I think every major trade Alderson and company have made has worked out near the top end of the possible outcomes, like a 90% outcome on just about every deal. I’m sure there’s some good fortune there but credit their pro scouts and analysts too.

alex: Trey Mancini– is he a potential regular, or a 4A guy?
Klaw: I think he’s a 4A guy.

Tim B: Regarding Estrada – isn’t he in line for one of the mid-rotation 4-$50 million contracts now? I think the QO is an easy decision in that case.
Klaw: Woof, I wouldn’t give him that. Maybe someone will and if Toronto thinks so then yes, they should absolutely offer it.

Chris, Larchmont: Thoughts on d’Arnaud defensively? He seemed to steal quite a few strikes with his pitch “presentation” skills in Cubs series.
Klaw: I’ve always believed in his defense – pitchers loved throwing to him, his receiving always looked great, and his throwing was always good. My main concerns on him have been the ability to stay healthy and the ability to get on base.

Bob: Speaking of Harvard, do you think that its reputation was an asset to you in job searching? Do you think that the education was actually better there?
Klaw: Reputation yes. Education, probably not.

Brian: Keith, if the Mets decide Matt Harvey is too much of a headache and decide to trade him. Could the Red Sox put together a package that doesnt include Betts or Bogaerts that could get him? Should they? Thanks!
Klaw: If I were Alderson I’d hold firm on one of those two kids, because I don’t think getting someone farther away like Devers makes quite as much sense for a team that is already a legitimate contender, but in the abstract, Devers and a second prospect of note would be reasonable for Harvey if you agree with me that Devers is a monster in waiting.

Jordan: Have you seen Lucas Sims yet in AFL? What’s the outlook for him moving forward? Completely confused as to his career projections after such a weird year/year-and-a-half.
Klaw: Going to miss him unfortunately – he’s pitching today in the other afternoon game, and I’m going to see Reyes instead.

EC: Have you been to Enrique Olivera’s new restaurant, Cosme, in NYC? Went to Pujol earlier this year and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Klaw: Yes, went there with Harold Dieterle and had the duck carnitas and the blue corn pavolva … both absolutely mind-blowing dishes.

Andy: Which would be the better job, Dodgers or Nationals? You could easily see both of them in the playoffs next season.
Klaw: Depends on what you want to do as manager. If you want more autonomy, Washington. If you want more input from the front office on moves, tactics, lineups, then LA. I’d actually prefer the latter myself – I want to be more armed with info so I can do a better job.

fats: why did every prospect writer basically miss on pillars defense?
Klaw: He wasn’t anywhere near this good in the minors.

Addoeh: Can a player add a clause to their contract that a team cannot give them a QO?
Klaw: Yes. Most free agents from NPB have no-arbitration clauses that gives them unrestricted free agency when their deals expire, even if it’s before six years of service. Some Cuban FAs have done the same. No reason a US-born player couldn’t do the same.

Jon: Keith, in the baseball cards with your “game used” clothing, what was it that was used? Tie? Shirt?
Klaw: Shirt. Didn’t fit and it was kind of loud so I thought it would still ‘pop’ a bit on the card. I wear too much monochromatic stuff and I didn’t think anything plain would look good on the card.

Dan: Do you believe that players can be on a hot streak? When someone like Murphy is on a hot streak like he is, do you attribute that to small sample size (i.e., he’s just getting luck and bunching his hits together) or do you think he’s actually seeing the ball and swinging the bat appreciably better?
Klaw: A player can be on a “hot streak” in the sense that he’s performed appreciably better than his norm or true talent level in a short stretch, but it has no predictive value. It has narrative value though!

Joe: Do you see Arrietta staying this good? I mean he’s 29 years old already and just finally had his first 30 start season.
Klaw: I see no reason to argue that he won’t.

Mike: Can outfielders be taught to run better routes to the ball?
Klaw: Yes, and I think some fielders can learn better reads – I know I’ve seen players improve in that regard – but neither is easy. You can’t just wave your hand and say “he’ll get better.” It takes the right coach(es) and the right player makeup too.

j: Your thoughts on Domingo Acevedo? Know he throws really hard, but from just watching his delivery (front side opens, max effort) is he destined for the bullpen long-term?
Klaw: Haven’t seen yet – he’s out here – but it does sound from what scouts have told me like he’s a power reliever with big upside in that role.

Young: What do you think of Braxton Davidson so far? Seems to have very impressive discipline.
Klaw: Yes and there’s power in there too. Probably 1B only in the long run so the standard is high for his offense but I do like his chances – thought it was a very good pick where they got him last year.

Dave: Do the Dodgers sign one of the top FA starters?
Klaw: I think so – I think they have to do so even if they retain Greinke. What’s their rotation otherwise? Kershaw, Wood, and, uh, I mean, well, McCarthy will be back at some point…

Jordan: No question here, just follow-up: don’t blame you at all for going to see Reyes. Also, thanks for doing this! It’s great to experience a little piece of your job/interaction with fanboys like us.
Klaw: You’re welcome and thanks for the question. I’m bummed that I won’t see Sims, for myself and because I know Atlanta fans wanted me to see him, but rain on Tuesday killed his game (but not the one on the other side of town, so I raced across Phoenix and got eight innings of the alternative) and he ended up pushed back to Thursday.

Rob: Do you think Jameson Taillon can put it back together and recover enough to become a top starting prospect again?
Klaw: Yes, I do. He’s had some rotten luck but nothing that would prevent him from coming back and eventually working as a starter. Look at how much time Matz missed … he’s still a viable mid-rotation starter.

Bob: IS the philly Cornelius Randolph love justified? he doesn’t seem to have one loud tool
Klaw: That boy can hit. I don’t know where he plays but the hit tool is “loud.”

Andy: On your ESPN page, there used to be a wonderful spot where it linked to your preseason prospect lists, your midseason list, and other various useful prospecty things. As far as I can tell that is no longer there. Can you please let the people who re-did (ruined) the site know that there may be times in October where that sort of information would be nice to be able to access quickly?
Klaw: Unfortunately the redesign did not play well with the formatting of lists. I was told a while back that they’d be doing some retrofitting to restore those, but I know everyone is already rather well taxed by ‘current’ work and I would never expect that to be a top priority. The people you don’t know at ESPN work very hard so that people like me can just do what we do and not have to worry about getting stuff formatted and posted and linked.

Sarah: Have you ever seen a pitching staff with as much stuff as this Mets one?
Klaw: Not off the top of my head. People sometimes complain on the twitters when I post a remarkable velocity number for a pitcher, saying velo isn’t everything … well, no, it’s not everything, but it’s still pretty fucking nice to have.

Bob: Most prognosticators believed that KC would suffer enough regression this year to probably miss the playoffs. Now they’re one game away from the WS which qualifies as a successful season. What’s your take on why they were able to exceed expectations.
Klaw: Development of their young bats, especially Hosmer and Moustakas.

Jake: Wanted to thank you for the Samurai review – it’s now one of our favorites. We’ve played 7 Worlds with 3 people but usually it’s just my wife and I. Worth trying out the 2-player version, or should we stick with the usual 2-person fare (Splendor, Dominion, TTR, Lost Cities, The Camel Game)?
Klaw: There’s a two-player standalone game called 7 Wonders: Duels coming soon. I’m working on getting a review copy.

Ed: Can Duffy keep up a similar level of play at 3rd for the Giants?
Klaw: Probably – the power is a bit surprising, but I spoke to the area scout who signed him for SF who talked a bit about why Duffy showed no power as an amateur (injuries and of course the terrible home park at Long Beach were major reasons) so maybe he can be a 10-12 HR guy going forward.

Andy G: Have you ever read A prayer for Owen Meany?
Klaw: I have not – never read any Irving.

Patrick: Do you see Teheran bouncing back to his 2013-14 type seasons? Regardless he’s a horse who goes out there every 5th day. Three seasons in a row averaging 30+ starts/200+ innings.
Klaw: I don’t have a good explanation for what went wrong this year, and I think I’d need that to answer your question fairly.

JG: Have you gotten to see any of the Twins prospects in the AFL?
Klaw: I’ve seen all six teams already, about half the starting pitchers and maybe a little more than half the relievers, so yes – but it will help me if you have a question on a specific player because I don’t have my notes or rosters in front of me as I do this. (I do have a crepe with pork belly and maple bacon in front of me, though.)

Matthew Sciannella: Currently at the hospital while my wife is in labor. Suggestions?
Klaw: Uh … put the phone down?

Robert: Can you understand why the heck Ausmus is returning to the Tigers? While his team didn’t have enough talent, he seemed to make things worse.
Klaw: I can’t. After he left Norris (best wishes to him in his fight against cancer) out there for nearly 60 pitches in that one inning, he should have been fired on the spot. Like, you don’t even get to use our showers. Just pack your knives and go.

Rob: It is my understanding that clauses to prevent a QO are not allowed. This is from page 90 of the CBA on MLB’s website: ” A Club and Player (or their designated representatives) shall not enter into any agreement, understanding or contract, or make
Klaw: Ah, my mistake. That would not proscribe such clauses for NPB/KBO/Cuban free agents, because those are not “qualifying offer” clauses but disallow offers of arbitration. Thank you for the correction.

Jesse: Any new places to eat you have enjoyed Phoenix during your AFL trip?
Klaw: Welcome Chicken (second visit but still great), Noble Eatery, La Piazza al Forno all great. EVO was kind of a disaster.

Dan: So many Mets fans, and reporters, are giving Omar Minaya all the credit for the Mets this year but completely ignore the collapsing teams he was responsible for in 2007 and 2008 and the horrible teams in 2009-2014. Also left the farm system in ruins, which Sandy has done a great job replenishing. Do you know why people are trying to give Omar credit and was he actually a good GM and I’m just missing something? I get he drafted Harvey and deGrom and Matz but he didn’t develop any of those guys.
Klaw: You can give an old GM or regime some credit while acknowledging mistakes too. I think Omar and his people deserve just that – some credit, but not the bulk of it. Sandy didn’t inherit a winner, but there were assets already in the system around which he (and his group) built a winner. I said on Buster’s podcast this morning that this is actually a good baseball story: they weren’t built with money, like you might expect a large-market team to be, but through good scouting and player development.

Sage: What offseason moves do you see the Cubs making?
Klaw: Add a starter, maybe two (one higher-end, one for depth), use some of that infield logjam to acquire pitching help.

Matt: Hi Keith. I’ve gotten some good board game recommendations from you, thanks. I’m wondering if you grew up playing video games, or if board games were always your thing. Take care.
Klaw: I liked boardgames as a kid but there weren’t really many good ones – it was Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble, and other games that I just don’t like now. I played some video games but was never that hardcore about it – I didn’t have a Nintendo or Playstation or anything.

TedT: Since the Red Sox have pipeline of major and minor league centerfielders (Bradley, Betts, Margo, Benintendi), who do you think the Sox should keep and to trade to get some pitching?
Klaw: I’d work to use JBJ in a trade because of those four he has the lowest upside, yet his trade value should be reasonably high because he’s ready right now. There’s significant value in the ability to say to another GM “I’m giving you a capable centerfielder who’ll earn just $1.5 million over the next three years for you.”

John: What do you do if you’re the Rockies? Trade Cargo and Nolan? Just completely blow it up, grab as many power arms as possible and hope a few make it? They are many seasons away from competing no matter what they do.
Klaw: Trade CarGo for sure. Arenado … god, there’d be a riot in Denver, wouldn’t they? But you’re right in that they’re unlikely to be, say, a 95-win team while he’s still there.

Ryan: Do you think Atlanta’s Maricio Cabrera will ever find enough command and control to be a solid reliever in the bigs? He’s been clocked as high as 102 mph.
Klaw: Yes, I do, and BTW I was one of the folks who got the 102 reading yesterday (twice). He gave up two hits in his inning, both on offspeed pitches. He should just throw the fastball, which has some sink on it, until hitters show they can catch up to it.

Andy: Assuming Greinke is the most sought after starter on the market, who’s #2?
Klaw: Price. Or Price is 1 and Greinke is 2. Take your pick – both are bona fide aces.

Ridley Kemp: Do you think Jacob Nottingham can stay behind the plate, and if not, does hit hit enough to play anywhere else? P.S. Thank you for continuing to sow the seeds of love and do these chats on your site. You’re the highlight of most of my work weeks.
Klaw: I do think he can stay behind the plate, never great but certainly playable there.

Rory: Word on the playground is the Marlins waited on their managerial search to see what Mattingly’s fate would be. Given the history of that position, is it fair to assume a likely highly-sought guy like Mattingly would take ANY job other than that one?
Klaw: Two reasons he might take that job. One, I’m not sure a better offer materializes this winter for Donnie, and he may just choose to take the bird in the hand. Two, the Marlins have a reputation within the industry for paying staffers extremely well, and it’s hard to turn down big money even if you know you might not love the working conditions. I couldn’t do it, but I would never tell you you’re wrong to do so.

Andrew: who’s closer to cooperstown for you? Greinke or Price?
Klaw: Trick question: Neither, because Cooperstown actually isn’t close to anything.

Robert: At what point does Price’s sky high postseason ERA over 7 starts enter a GM’s analysis especially when this post season it’s actually been worse?
Klaw: Any GM who considers that is stupid and will get what he deserves, which in this case is not having David Price.

Kyle: What do the Twins do with Sano going into next year? Dh again, move plouffe and plug him at 3b, or (the unlikely) do something with mauer and put him where he belongs at 1b?
Klaw: I say DH him. Mauer’s not going anywhere, and I think Sano would be below average enough at 3b that they’d end up looking for another solution anyway. Their surfeit of centerfielders has to generate some trade conversations this winter, right? Use one of them to get a better starting pitcher, or maybe to acquire a third baseman who provides more defense and settles Sano in at DH.

Leo: Do you get more or less questions through this form of chat as opposed to the old ESPN model?
Klaw: I think fewer in total but of a much higher quality.

Maple Bacon: Can a pitcher ever develop better control, as in can Nick Burdi learn to throw the ball over the plate?
Klaw: Yes, but it involves a number of variables, from learning to repeat a delivery to developing the mental skills required to execute something consistently and to learn to maintain an approach even when, say, you throw that ‘perfect’ pitch and the hitter still makes good contact.

Bob: Am I right in thinking that AFL includes players who have already been on the Major League team, players who are just about ready to get there, and players who are a couple of years away? All there for different reasons? If so, then it must be challenging trying to scout the player while ignoring the competition.
Klaw: Yes, you are correct, so the focus here is more on tools/skills. I usually note the pitch type when writing down what a hitter did, good or bad, so later I remember, “yes, he hit that homer, but it was a hanging slider” or I can see, “hey, I have him swinging and missing on four fastballs up from same-side pitchers.”

Drew: Do you think Matt Williams has any future as a hitting coach?
Klaw: I promise I’m not picking on the guy, but do we have any idea what he actually does well?

Mark: How soon can Wilson Contreras get a look in Chicago? Montero’s second half and playoffs worries me greatly.
Klaw: I think he can be part of the catching solution there next year, not right away but over the course of the whole season.

John: I have a 9 year-old son who loves baseball and wouldn’t hesitate to play it year-round. I’m inclined to work other sports into the mix for the sake of diversity of muscle movements. Any thoughts or advice?
Klaw: The new consensus among sports medicine folks is that mixing up sports and activities is better for kids’ long-term health than early, year-round specialization.

Andy: Is it weird that I saw a tweet about Adam Miller and thought it was the ex-Indians prospect and I was glad he got his stuff back?
Klaw: Nope, I did the same thing earlier this year when I first heard that he was bumping 100 mph.

Aubrey: Do the Astros have both DH and 1B answered for 2016 with White/Reed (or at least give them legitimate chances to fail)? They should be much better than Gattis/Carter, right?
Klaw: I believe so, and that’s an org that isn’t afraid to play the rookie over the veteran. Maybe Reed starts in AAA but both guys should get significant playing time in Houston in 2016, because that will make the club better.

Brian: Local media in Chicago is already speculating that Kris Bryant will be moved to the outfield next year. But if he can handle 3rd, which the limited data we have on him says he probably can, isn’t there where he would provide the most value? It’s easy to shore up an OF spot than a 3rd base spot, right?
Klaw: Buster asked me this on the podcast too – I think he can play third. Good arm, good hands, range might be a bit limited, but he has instincts and is another great kid with a good work ethic. He’ll never be worse than “adequate” there. FWIW, I like his chances to stay there more than Gallo’s.

Shawn: I think Gabe Kapler and Alex Cora would be good managers
Klaw: I agree on both. Kapler got unbelievable raves when he managed a year in Boston’s system, and you all know I’m a fan of Cora’s. Cora may get a job before LA gets a chance to talk to him, though. LA should also interview Dave Martinez, since Andrew has the relationship with him, and, having coached under Maddon, Martinez should be familiar with the front office-heavy model they’d like to employ.

Aubrey: Did Correa show more power as a rookie than you’d anticipated? How long would you say he should stay at SS?
Klaw: If you’d asked me when he was called up, I would have guessed a lower HR total than he put up, but I knew he had power potential. I’d give him 3-4 years at short, although it’s possible they’ll end up with a better defensive option who pushes him to third even though he’d still be average or better at shortstop.

Andy: Would the Cubs push for a vote on the NL adding a DH in this year’s winter meetings? Between Schwarber, Baez, and Vogelbach they would be able to exploit it better than most teams.
Klaw: That’s a CBA matter and MLB doesn’t want it because it’ll raise player costs.

Frank: Which side of the pitching rubber would you suggest for a guy with good sink and run? I think being on the far glove side would create better angles to hit the outside corner against oppo sided hitters and gives you more of the plate to work with against same sided hitters. My buddy thinks you should be on the arm side, because you can get inside on same sided hitters much easier. What say you?
Klaw: No clear answer. I prefer if guys don’t throw across their bodies, primarily for health reasons but also because it’s hard to locate to your glove side like that, but if the pitcher is more comfortable there and can indeed locate to the other side, then let him stand on the arm side. It has to be individualized and you only make a change when one is required. This is why I’ve been after Showalter for moving Gausman to the other side of the rubber – there was NO GOOD REASON to make that change, and the results have been negative.

Bill: Does the fact that the Mets made the WS change your opinion at all about the deadline moves they made? I know you weren’t a fan of the clippard/ces deals at the time…but while process is important results have to count for something too. Thoughts?
Klaw: No, it doesn’t. One, the Mets couldn’t know at the time of the deals that they would make the WS – they could consider it as a possibility, but the odds of such an outcome were quite low on July 31st. Two, they clearly overpaid for Clippard, and I think they overpaid for Cespedes based on his market at that time – and they couldn’t have known that he’d turn into Barry Bonds for a month. However, is that even if they don’t win the World Series, I don’t think anyone there is going to look back and regret the trades even if Fulmer becomes a number two starter – the process wasn’t great, but the outcome was. It renders what I’m saying a bit academic – fans shouldn’t really care about that while they’re celebrating, should they?

Camden: Does whichever pro scout recommended Sam Dyson to target in trade for the Rangers deserve a raise?
Klaw: Yes, but then again, all scouts deserve raises. Those positions don’t pay very well relative to what they ask scouts to do in terms of giving their time to their jobs. Speaking of time, I’m out of it if I want to get to BP up at Scottsdale. Thank you all, as always, for all of your questions and for reading. I’ll write something up on the AFL as soon as I get another chunk of free time, and I’ll try to work in another chat next Thursday. And happy Alex Reyes Day!

Inherent Vice.

I was oh for two with Thomas Pynchon books and figured that was enough to assume I just didn’t like his writing style, but two strong recommendations from friends for his 2009 novel Inherent Vice: A Novel, and seeing it available for $6 at a local B&N, were enough for me to give it a short. As much as I disliked Gravity’s Rainbow and just didn’t get The Crying of Lot 49, I loved Inherent Vice, which is a laugh-out-loud funny detective story and homage to/sendup of noir fiction, replete with the cultural allusions that mark all of Pynchon’s work, but in this case in a package that you can actually read, understand, and enjoy.

Doc Sportello is the detective, a private investigator in LA in the early 1970s, working out of the standard shabby office with the standard fetching secretary out front, but replacing the alcohol usage of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade with pot – and a lot of it, to the point where reality and hallucination start to blend for Doc and for the reader. The case walks in off the street, a woman who thinks her dead husband may not be dead after all, and as is par for the course in classic detective fiction, the superficial case opens the door to a broader conspiracy that involves crooked cops, organized crime, and a lot more pot. (That last part may not be standard for the genre.) Doc ends up knocked unconscious, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, in trouble with three or four different groups, and making a lot of wisecracks when his head is clear enough to permit it.

Nobody in Doc’s circle of friends and associates is remotely normal except perhaps his sort-of girlfriend Penny, who works in the local DA’s office and isn’t shy about using him as a chip to get something she wants from the feds. Doc’s attorney, Sauncho, is actually a marine lawyer whose comprehension of criminal law is about as clear as the marine layer, and who is obsessed with a ship of unclear provenance, the Golden Fang, that turns out to be significant in Doc’s case. His friend Denis – you pronounce it to rhyme with “penis” – is so THC- and other drug-addled that he provides some of the book’s funniest moments, one involving a waterbed, one involving a lost slice of pizza, and the other involving a television set. There’s a crazy former client, Doc’s ex-girlfriend (who is also tied up in the main case), the “masseuses,” the ridiculously-named feds (Flatweed and Borderline, or F&B like food and beverage?) …

…and the cop-antagonist, “Bigfoot” Bjornsen, who simultaneously bows to and blows up the stereotypical cop from all hard-boiled detective fiction, the thickheaded guy who gets in the way, hates the PI, always tries to arrest the PI for something, and ends up getting the collar thanks to the PI’s hard work. Bigfoot is big and thickheaded and doesn’t particularly care for Doc, but he’s far from the dumb or useless cop we typically get in the genre – he’s a character of some complexity, more so than any other character but Doc.

While the crimes at the center of the book are involved and take some time for Doc to sort out, to the extent that he does actually sort much of it out, Pynchon chose not to employ the labyrinthine prose and highly allusive style that made Gravity’s Rainbow, for me, an unreadable mess. You may not entirely follow Doc’s thinking or his actions, but that’s only when he can’t, because he’s stoned. That much mind-alteration can make users paranoid, and Doc is paranoid … but they’re really after him, too, and his paranoia tends to serve him pretty well. Pynchon does nothing to clearly distinguish the hallucinatory sequences from reality, but it’s also not that hard to tell when the haze has set in, and Doc gets some time on the page to sort these out himself in case you’re still confused.

Inherent Vice speaks to me because I love the genre that Pynchon is both satirizing and honoring; Doc is hard-boiled to an extent, except that he’s walking around in huarache sandals and, for reasons I can’t begin to explain, gives his hair a sort of perm at the start of the book that takes much of any hard edge off the character. But more than anything else, Pynchon has finally taken the humor that his adherents have long found in his books and put it in a format that the rest of us can appreciate. The book is flat-out funny in multiple ways – situational humor, clever banter, the absurdity of most of what Denis does, and even comedy around sex that comes off as, if not exactly highbrow, less lowbrow than most attempts at sexual humor too. Stoner humor doesn’t always hit the mark because much of it just makes the stoner out to be stupid, but stupid alone isn’t funny. It has to be a certain kind of stupid – in the stoner’s case an absurd twist on it, much in the way that Andy on Parks & Recreation was funny because his lack of intelligence manifested itself in these wildly illogical paths in his mind. Marijuana use isn’t funny, kids; it’s hilarious.

Making the book so readable means that the things Pynchon has always done well, like cultural references, are suddenly accessible to the rest of us. Pynchon loves to make up names – silly character names (Japonica Fenway, Puck Beaverton, Trillium Fortnight, the loan shark Adrian Prussia who happens to have the initials that stand for Accounts Payable), but also band names (Spotted Dick), radio stations, songs, movies (Godzilligan’s Island), and so on, and they get sillier as the novel goes on. Many names refer to plants (trillium, flatweed, japonica, charlock, smilax), although if there’s a broader significance to that than that marijuana is also a plant, I missed it. Doc is obsessed with the actor John Garfield, who played hard-boiled characters and refused to name names when called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which also comes up when Dalton Trumbo’s name is broached; the whole post-McCarthy era looms large as then-President Nixon was trying again to crack down on “subversive” elements, which is a small part of the novel’s main plot line. We even get Doc’s parents, which you never get in a detective novel, worrying about their son’s career and bachelorhood and providing one last bit of comic relief before the novel closes.

I’ve since seen some contemporary reviews of the book that were disappointed that it wasn’t vintage Pynchon, and one that cited a lack of suspense (that reviewer had to be unfamiliar with the tropes of hard-boiled detective fiction), but I haven’t read a novel in some time that hit on this many cylinders for me. It’s phenomenally funny, very smart, and yet at its core is a very well-crafted detective story. Maybe I will have to try some more Pynchon after all.

Next up: Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

House Made of Dawn.

N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969, making him (I believe) the first Native American author to win the award. Momaday, a Kiowa member who was already at that time on the faculty at UC Santa Barbara, is now credited by critics and other Native American authors with spawning a renaissance in literature by Native Americans, even though reviews at the time were somewhat mixed because of the inherently foggy nature of most of the narrative in the book. I’m inclined toward the latter, but with the recognition that there is something in the experiences described in House Made of Dawn that are so utterly foreign to me as a white American of entirely European descent that the fog will not apply equally to all readers.

The subject of Momaday’s first novel is named Abel, a young Native American adult who grew up on the reservation but was drafted and served in Vietnam, only to run into the common difficulties experienced by soldiers returning from that conflict. He returns to the reservation in New Mexico, yet, scarred by the conflict and returning with a drinking problem, he’s unable to resume his previous life and ends up stabbing a man he claims is a witch to death. After serving a term in prison, he’s paroled to Los Angeles, where he finds himself unable to assimilate into society, drinking to excess, losing any job he gets, sabotaging his only relationships, and eventually returning to the reservation after nearly dying from his own inability to manage his rage.

Part of the difficulty contemporary reviews had with House Made of Dawn was the hazy way Momaday narrates three of the novel’s four main sections, telling mundane stories of Abel’s life in the manner of myths passed down via oral traditions, speaking in metaphors or losing himself (and the reader) in lengthy descriptions of natural elements of the scenes. I found it hard to follow the narratives in the first two sections, and I can’t tell you whether it was the ambiguous writing of the active elements or the fact that I got so bored with the Dickensian details of the environment. This style of writing may draw on a literary history with which I’m unfamiliar, but I found it worse than distracting and actually offputting.

I have no Native American blood and close to zero knowledge of the cultures of the various tribes that exist or have existed within the borders of the current United States, so I was at an insurmountable cultural disadvantage in trying to read and understand House Made of Dawn. That said, I’m a white guy who enjoys much African-American literature that engages in similar techniques of metaphorical writing and magical realism, works that draw on experiences I haven’t had and probably can never fully grasp. Those authors, the Toni Morrisons and the Alice Walkers and the Zora Neale Thurstons and so on, manage to translate those experiences in ways that readers without them can appreciate, even if we can’t connect with them on the same fundamental level. That to me is Momaday’s failure here: I could barely tell what Abel was doing, and I never had the chance to relate to the emotional side of his character. We know he came back from the war a damaged person, but never get the details of why; suddenly he’s knifed a guy for no apparent reason other than that he was drunk. I know there’s more to it than that, but it wasn’t on the pages and that prevented me from getting anything close to what the Pulitzer committee must have seen in the book.

Next review: Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.

Lord of Light.

I’m en route to Arizona to cover the Fall League this week, so I’ll be at games Monday to Friday and hope to see many of you out there. That also means I won’t be commenting as much on the LCS till I get back home.

I have a vague recollection of someone telling me while we were both in college that he loved Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, winner of the 1969? Hugo Award for Best Novel, because it was so funny. Perhaps the memory is off, because the book is intensely clever and sardonic but only rarely funny. It’s also a bit inscrutable and, while very intelligent, it didn’t seem to have a clear point to me – if its intent was metaphorical, which I can only assume it was, I had a hard time relating its players to forces in the modern world.

The book is set in the distant future in a world other than Earth that has been populated – or, really, invaded – by humans, the first of whom are now known as the First and who have used advanced technologies to achieve a sort of immortality, where they can transplant their personae, including their memories, knowledge, and even some special abilities that I have to think inspired Gary Gygax at some point, into new bodies when their old ones are injured or wear out. These humans have taken on the identities of Hindu gods, and have used their powers to subdue the native species of the planet and deny the humans and other denizens, the rights to any advanced technologies, even the printing press, that might lead to a popular revolt against their powers.

Into this comes the Lord of Light, the reincarnation (so to speak) of the one we know as the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, Mahasamatman, or, as he prefers to be called, “Sam.” Having been divested of his mortal coil by the gods in a previous era, Sam returns to the physical realm, brought back by Yama, the “deathgod,” to challenge the status quo and perhaps return power to the people. (Deathgod is the name of my new black-metal project with members of Puig Destroyer.) This leads to a series of intrigues and bloody battles, not to mention numerous body switches, as Sam’s return leads to the revival of Buddhism, albeit with a lot of killing that the real-life Buddha would not have liked one bit.

Some of the repartee between Sam and his various Hindu-pantheon antagonists is indeed humorous, but I sensed more satire or even farce in that and in the cartoonish violence of the numerous clashes between Sam and whoever’s fighting on his side in that particular melée and the main “gods” on the other side who will stop at nothing to maintain their grip on power. Was Zelazny, a lapsed Catholic, mocking the religion-fueled wars that define so much of human history? Or merely taking aim at tyranny and the increasingly brutal steps any dictatorship must take to maintain its hold on power, especially once technologies take hold in the populace and allow for the faster spread of information? (Witness how closed North Korea must remain to keep its people in the most abject state-mandated poverty.) Is he calling into question the historicity of key religious figures, like Gautama or Jesus? Or is there nothing more to this than a giant free-for-all that features power-hungry people playing with weapons that no single person should possess?

I think I got more from Lord of Light as an obvious influence on the work of Neil Gaiman, who’s quoted on the cover of the book, than as a story in its own right. It’s impossible to read this work and not immediately think of what Gaiman did in American Gods, and did far more successfully, not just stealing names but repurposing myths and then writing his own legends, an exponential improvement on Zelazny’s work but one that may have needed Zelazny to come first and open the door.

Evaluated on its own, however, Lord of Light seemed rather soulless, no pun intended. (Okay, pun intended.) Although the reader is obviously supposed to side with Sam, he comes across as a disinterested revolutionary, one driven neither by self-interest nor selflessness, only pushed by the desire to topple the gods themselves. None of the characters earns much development or depth, which is disappointing in cases like Tak, the ape with an apparently human brain and personality, who deserves a back story here as much as any more central character. The gods want power because they want power. They desire their immortality (as opposed to the “real death”) because, hey, immortality – but allowing the proletariat to reincarnate themselves via mind transfer won’t end that practice. Without fleshing out his characters, Zelazny presented us with a work of great ingenuity that ultimately isn’t much less cold than hard science fiction works like Rendezvous with Rama that focus so much on the technical details that the authors forget the need to craft characters with whom the reader can identify or at least to whom they can relate.

Next up: My posts are a bit behind my reading but I’m currently about ¾ of the way through Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, which I already like more than I liked either of the other two Pynchon novels I read, including the impenetrable Gravity’s Rainbow.

Saturday five, 10/17/15.

No new Insider content this week as I was writing up free agent capsules for the annual top 50 ranking, which will appear after the World Series at some point. I did review the Game of Thrones card game, which is surprisingly good (I hated the first GoT book), for Paste, and held a Klawchat on Thursday.

  • President Obama interviewed one of my favorite American novelists, Marilynne Robinson. She’s best known for the trio of novels, beginning with the Pulitzer winner Gilead, revolving around a family in Iowa, but her 1980 debut novel Housekeeping is the one on my top 100.
  • “Reporters don’t just find facts; they look for narratives.” Isn’t this a big problem? And, hey, what do we really know about the death of Osama bin Laden? Mark Bowden, one of the writers whose recounting of that story is questioned in the Times piece, responded in Vanity Fair.
  • ON a related note, the BBC’s Assignment radio program looks at the U.S.’s use of torture to fight terror, with some horrifying details of what we did in the name of security (with dubious benefits). The host, Hilary Andersson, undergoes some of those techniques, while an American operative is (voluntarily) waterboarded during the program as well.
  • The Guardian ran a very open, honest essay on how quickly others expect us to stop grieving, in this case after the writer lost her mother to cancer.
  • Van Pierszalowski, lead singer/founder of WATERS and a diehard Dodgers fan, spoke to MLB about their season and the direction under the new front office, although this was before they lost game 5 to the Mets.
  • J. Kenji Lopez-Alt makes the list again this week with his ten commandments of eggs. I’m glad to see someone agree that salting eggs before you scramble them is the right move. I always did so for better flavor distribution but it turns out there’s good science behind it too.
  • Vanity Fair ran a piece on the “ermahgerd” girl, an unusually neutral, non-hysterical piece on how a woman became part of a very popular meme without her consent and what effect it had on her life (spoiler: it’s not actually that bad).
  • A short celebration of the short fiction of John Cheever, whose collected short stories won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1979. I haven’t read that yet, but it’s on my short-term to-do list; I did read and loved Falconer, but was a little less wowed by The Wapshot Chronicle.
  • The Guardian also ran a great piece explaining this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded to several scientists who discovered that neutrinos emitted from the sun could change “flavors” en route toward (and through) earth, which answered the question of where all those solar neutrinos had gone. (They were there, but not in the flavors we’d been looking for.) The footnotes are rather spectacular, too. I read and reviewed a book last March called The Neutrino Hunters that described the experiment that earned these scientists the Novel.

Day of the Oprichnik.

I held my weekly Klawchat earlier this afternoon.

I stumbled on Vladimir Sorokin’s 2006 satirical novel Day of the Oprichnik (on sale for $7.50 in hardcover right now) while wandering through Tempe’s wonderful bookstore Changing Hands, picking it up because the cover grabbed me, buying it because I enjoy satirical novels, dystopian settings, and Russian literature. The book delivered all of those things, but was sadly light on story, and several passages of the novel were graphic to the edge of offensiveness without any evident point to it all.

Depicting a Russia ruled by an unnamed Putin-like dictator in the year 2028, Day of the Oprichnik shows a day in the life of a government secret-police agent whose responsibilities range from killing noblemen and raping their wives to greasing the wheels of corrupt trade practices to consuming sizable quantities of alcohol and one of the strangest intravenous drugs you’ll ever encounter. The state combines the cult of personality that Putin himself has fostered with an evangelical form of the Russian Orthodox religion, where no one’s life, liberty, or property are ever safe under any circumstances. A small change in favor can mean a nobleman living in an opulent, heavily fortified compound can find himself under siege by the oprichniks, hanging from the gallows, with his children shipped off to an orphanage and his wife gang-raped by the attackers.

That’s just the most stark example of the pointlessly graphic nature of the novel; rape scenes require strong justification in any novel, and here, not only does the violation do nothing for the plot or the satire itself, it’s presented in stomach-churning detail that can only serve to shock. There are other graphic scenes – multiple murders and an orgy – also put in front of the reader for reasons I can’t begin to comprehend. It’s over the top in the way that Naked Lunch and Tropic of Cancer are, and while those are lauded as great works of postmodern literature, I rather thought both were unreadable shit. Oprichnik is at least easier to get through, because the writing isn’t so deliberately obtuse, but the ratio of shock material to actual heft is too high.

Of course, the book was written in 2006 and inadvertently foreshadowed some of the increasing authoritarianism witnessed in Russia over the past nine years, including the modern blend of jingoism and greed that drives the government apparatus for clamping down on the Russian people. The tyrant atop the machine, who has retaken the imperial title of tsar, is never named, but his resemblance in ego and grip on power are rather clear. Sorokin wished to lampoon the then 54-year-old Russian President’s increasing tendency toward totalitarian policies, only to have Putin himself outdo the expectations. Russia today may not be as overtly violent or as hostile to women as Sorokin imagined, but it’s at least as corrupt, as reliant on external economic powers, and as dangerous to its own citizens as the 2028 version in Day of the Oprichnik appears.

Next up: N. Scott Momaday’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction-winning novel House Made of Dawn.

Klawchat 10/15/15.

Klaw:Started with a pow, and I’m gonna end it with a bang. Klawchat.

Ray Michael: As a Giants Fan this Eddy Julio Martinez thing is just so strange. What is the latest you are hearing? Who has the edge the Cubs or the Giants?
Klaw: He has an agreement with the Cubs that should be binding, as he didn’t sign the term sheet with the Giants … and I know there’s a disagreement over whether the Giants’ term sheet reflected their initial financial offer to the player.

A Canadian: Have you ever seen anything less Canadian (or generally unedifying) than Toronto fans raining debris and abuse onto the field?
Klaw: Idiots are idiots regardless of nationality, unfortunately.

Jim (on the ledge): Okay, Keith. Washington’s first managerial interview is with Dusty Baker. I’m hoping it’s just a “courtesy” interview, although saying he’s “better than Williams” doesn’t reassure me. Granted the Prior/Wood issues were over 10 years ago, and lineup construction can be overrated, but still, how worried should I be?
Klaw: He’s absolutely not worth hiring. It would be a dumb PR-oriented move that would be more likely to set the franchise back rather than forward, and with the Mets ascendant and only likely to improve from here – it’s pretty easy to forecast them as a 95-win team in 2016 with only marginal changes – the Nats would be shooting themselves in the face by hiring someone so regressive.

Nick: Hi Keith…was Matt Arnold a good choice as Asst. GM for the Brewers? Does his background and/or strengths and weaknesses compliment David Stearns’ in your opinion?
Klaw: Nice guy, extremely well-regarded by his colleagues and the scouts who worked for him in Tampa, but the last part of your question does address one of my questions too – are they too similar in background and philosophy?

Will: Now that Corey Seager has graduated, is JP Crawford the best prospect in baseball?
Klaw: Seager has not graduated; I use rookie eligibility on my lists, so players like Seager and I believe Steven Matz remain eligible despite having some major-league service.

George: Which player would you say most inexplicably barrels-up baseballs (hits the ball hard), in spite of poor plate discipline and/or swing mechanics?
Klaw: Have you seen Hunter Pence hit?

Johnny (Billerica, MA): Would you say that Anderson Espinoza is the most highly touted pitching prospect after Urias?
Klaw: Highly touted is a subjective term; he’s certainly receiving tremendous praise and publicity for a 17-year-old, but neither of those guys is the top pitching prospect in the minors right now.

Derek: What’s your favorite wintertime braise?
Klaw: Favorite is short ribs with red wine and dried figs, but that’s a once or twice a winter thing because they are so unhealthful (and I need to at least pay attention to that stuff).

Derek: True or False: Trea Turner should be on the Nats opening day 25 man roster.
Klaw: True.

Kingpin: I know you wrote an Insider piece on Eddy Julio Martinez, but I don’t have Insider access. (I’m a single dad with 3 teenage sons, so I have incredibly limited disposable income. Thanks for continuing the chats for those of us who can’t afford Insider but really love your work.) Any way, how refined is Eddy Julio’s game? What is his MLB ETA?
Klaw: I appreciate your honesty … I’ve had folks come to me at games and openly mock Insider, saying they could pay for it but refuse to on philosophical grounds, which strikes me as a rather bizarre place to make an ethical stand. Anyway, I don’t have any idea of his plate discipline, but I love his swing, body, and athleticism, and would probably start him in low-A with an eye toward a quick promotion if he shows his approach is advanced.

Dana: Should the Yankees go all in on Jason Heyward even though they have Gardner/Ellsbury/Beltran in the OF next year?
Klaw: Beltran can barely move in RF; you could argue they have Judge almost ready for that spot, but of course you’d rather have Heyward out there. I think it depends more on what they intend to do with Ellsbury; if he’s really this bad a player now, does he become a contract to dump, in which case they could put Gardner in CF and Judge in LF?

Robert: Was Matheny ignoring Siegrist’s reverse splits against lefties the worst managing decision of the Divisional Round?
Klaw: This has been such a huge debate – whether there’s such a thing as a LHP with a reverse split – but from a scouting POV it’s pretty evident that a lefty who has a good changeup/split and almost never throws breaking balls is going to have a reverse or neutral split. Matheny treating him like a lefty specialist is the mistake, because all available evidence, statistical and scouting, says that Siegrest is NOT that.

Jock Thompson: Glad you’re over here and restriction-free on your opinions. And thanks for reminding us of these chats and transcripts over on Facebook. Though we don’t always agree, yours is one of the more valuable on-line voices in informing my baseball opinions.
Klaw: I wouldn’t expect anyone to “always agree” with me, but if readers think I make good arguments then I’m happy.

Christopher: What is the greatest threat to the future of humanity? Climate change, or bat flips?
Klaw: Democrats say … nope, wait, not going there.

John: Why do you so easily want to give away your second amendment right? There are already thousands of gun laws. It’s a slippery slope when citizens give away rights.
Klaw: The slippery slope fallacy is a fun one. Anyway, your bigger error is assuming that your interpretation of that right mirrors mine or everyone else’s. Haven’t we all spent 200 years arguing over what exactly that right entails – whether the “well-regulated militia” part matters, and whether it proscribes any restrictions on the types of guns citizens may own?

Dan: Do the Cubs have another step forward ahead of them? As a Pirates fan I’m afraid they are going to get squeezed between some good (and somewhat lucky) Cards teams and a potential dynasty Cubs.
Klaw: Yes, I think they do. I think they’ll go after a top starting pitcher FA this winter, and there are still a few prospects on the farm who haven’t reached the point where they’re widely known yet.

Alan: Three of four series go to game five. Homeruns that still haven’t landed. Awesome pitchers being awesome. Yet, i haven’t heard a “fyeahbaseball” in forever. C’mon Keith! it’s for the children! (Provided the children are 35 year old men who absolutely should be paying more attention in this meeting they’re in right now)
Klaw: To be honest, and I know this won’t be a terribly popular opinion, I thought the Jays/Rangers’ game sucked. The Rangers took the lead on a freak play – correctly adjudicated by the umps, by the way – that led to idiot fans throwing garbage. Then the Jays tie the game on three errors before Bautista does that thing he does so well. The whole inning took something like 40 minutes and it wasn’t 40 minutes of baseball, but like 15 minutes of talking and arguing and cleaning up. It’s just an aesthetic opinion, but that’s not the kind of game I’m hoping to see in the playoffs.

Adam: Question the world has been debating, unless you are party-killer Sam Dyson: Better bat flip – Yo or Joey Bats?
Klaw: Bautista. There was some serious fuck-you in that flip.

Brint: What is the likelihood that Aaron Altherr becomes an above average regular in OF? Is his defense athleticism enough to overcome his potential shortcomings as a hitter?
Klaw: Very low.

J: Hey now! Do you think Arcia and Crawford break camp with the Brewers and Phils? Or start @ AAA?
Klaw: Both AAA. No reason for either team to promote those players too soon.

Michael: Would you say that fouling off a tough pitch rather than putting it in play softly is a skill or just luck?
Klaw: It’s a skill, IMO.

aaron, houston texas: With astros bullpen being terrible, does that change your thinking on “pay for relievers”?
Klaw: No – they paid for two of those key guys, Neshek and Gregerson. The problem was that they didn’t get guys who miss bats, not in the free agents nor from their own system. They need to figure out which of the hard-throwing prospects is better suited to the bullpen – Feliz, Velazquez, McCullers, etc.

Donnie: Who do you have winning the LAD-NYM series. Your response in last week’s chat conflicted with your ESPN article. Thanks.

Nicholas: Thoughts on the Jerry Dipoto hire?
Klaw: Strong choice. Surprised he hasn’t made more changes below him, though.

Kent: Was rangers 7th inning collapse in your opinion the biggest “choke” in post season history?
Klaw: One, no, and two, I hate using that word for the way it implies some kind of character failure. It’s baseball. One team will lose and there will probably be a mistake or two along the way.

KC: Can you explain why you were ok with the bunt in the Toronto game?
Klaw: I’m not exactly sure which bunt you mean. Didn’t Goins bunt vs a LHP at some point? He’s an automatic out vs lefties anyway.

Jim Boden: Hi keith. Khris davis for Aiken and Bobby bradley. Fair enough for both brewers and indians? Indians need a cheap right-handed slugger(empty DH slot) and brewers need high ceiling prospecrs. What do you think?
Klaw: Good grief that’s a stupid trade for Cleveland.

JR: I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m still shocked at the lack of urgency managers will show in important playoff games. For example, it was obvious Mchugh didn’t have his best stuff last night. No way he should’ve started the 5th (and bringing in Fiers to start the 5th would’ve probably been much more comfortable for him). Same thing in Cubs/Cards game 3. It was obvious Wacha was ineffective. Matheny had the opportunity to pinch hit for him in 4th and turn it over to bullpen but sent him out to hit and he got hit hard in the 5th.
Klaw: The Wacha situation was worse because of that AB and because that game was still very much in reach. Had Hinch pulled McHugh after 4 for Walter Johnson they would still have lost that game.

Chris G.: I know you work for a cable network, but it seems really stupid to me that I can’t stream the play-offs live online because I don’t have cable and blackout rules apply in my area. Why won’t the MLB take my money?
Klaw: I agree completely. MLB has to adjust to the increasing number of households who are ditching cable/satellite. I may be joining that number this winter.

Corey: Boston seems to have a group of almost-but-not-quite players who are blocked at AAA – Cecchini, Brentz, Coyle, Marrero, Brian Johnson, etc Do you retain as taxi squad insurance or do any of them have any trade value?
Klaw: I think you shop all of those guys who have value – that’s Marrero, Cecchini, Johnson (if healthy), Holt, JBJ – particularly targeting high-end arms.

Ben: Between the Mets and Dodgers, which team would you say the Cubs have a better shot against?
Klaw: Probably Dodgers. BTW, I didn’t clarify my answer above – when I actually sat down to write my real predictions (which aren’t worth much anyway), I thought the matchup favored the Mets much more than it did at first glance, which is why I picked them to win the series in four. Those odds change a bit now with Greinke pitching again and the game in LA, but I’d still give a very slight edge to NY.

Ethan: RE: last night’s freak play – time to revisit the rules around live balls now that the batter can’t leave the batter’s box? Doesn’t it seem like a return ball hitting the batter will happen a lot more now?
Klaw: I think we’d need to see it happening a lot, or batters trying to sneak the bat out there a little bit to make something like this happen, before we change the rules. It was weird, but it is extremely rare, and the umps got the call right. I do wish Dale Scott hadn’t confused the issue by calling time, but oh well.

Cody: Do you think Javy Baez has raised his stock enough that he can return something interesting this off-season or would the Cubs still be selling low? More likely Baez or Castro is moved or neither?
Klaw: I don’t have a great sense for the market for Castro, but I think I’d rather move him and roll the dice on Baez pulling a Chris Davis. I doubt Castro becomes a star, but he’s very valuable because of his contract. Baez has a higher bust probability but he could become a star much more easily.

Hugo Z: Why DFA Gattis if you can find a trade partner in the AL?
Klaw: What kind of trade value would he have? There wasn’t much of a market last winter, and now it’s even more evident how limited a player he is. I think I said this elsewhere, but he would have been valued more highly and more valuable in fact twenty years ago, when teams had larger benches (and didn’t care about OBP).

TJ: Looking at the number of effective relievers in the majors who failed as starters (both setup guys and closers like Britton, Andrew Miller, etc), is investing in failed starters as bullpen arms be a better strategy than paying big money for “proven” relievers? Any help my beloved Detroit Tigers can get in building a decent bullpen would be appreciated…
Klaw: No question. How many guys drafted and developed as relievers turn out to be great relievers in the majors, at least as a percentage of the guys who were drafted and developed as relievers? The failure rate there is incredibly high, I think in large part because those guys were already relievers (in college, usually) for a really good (that is, bad) reason.

Corey: Do you not trust in JBJ to be a starter compensating for dry spells with an A+ glove or Boston has enough OF options that he’s expendable ?
Klaw: More that they have so many other options.

Gavin: Would you give a QO to Span or Wieters? I assume both teams would hope that neither would accept, regardless, correct?
Klaw: Span, if our medicals said he was OK, then yes. Wieters, probably yes because I doubt Boras would want him to take it, but also a healthy 2016 from him is probably worth something close to that $15.8 million anyway.

KC: Would you take Schwarber 1-1 in hindsight or still too early to tell?
Klaw: Way too early to even suggest that.

ds: RE: Relievers – Which is why the Twins strategy of drafting RP’s and trying to turn them in SP’s makes me cringe.
Klaw: Well it just hasn’t worked. They took Nick Burdi, who legitimately throws 100 mph, last June, and he stunk this year. They took another guy who threw 100 with awful mechanics (Cederoth) and are trying to make him a starter. Then a round or two later they took a more unheralded college reliever in Jake Reed and he’s the best of the lot.

Sal: Keith – thoughts on the mets turning degrom and thor into 3-4 inning pitchers for this game? Let them go all out for those 3-4 innings each and only have them face the lineup 1-2 times through. Both of them threw a lot of pitches in their first start and a shorter outing could maximize their effectiveness…
Klaw: Oh I’m all in on that. Yes, I understand it will cost you one start from Thor in the NLCS, but 1) you have to get there first and 2) it’s not like Matz is Derek Holland. He’s a hell of a fourth option.

JQ: What is your overall strategy for camel acquisition/dealing in Jaipur? Beyond clearing the market when my opponent has a full hand so that they cannot steal all the high-value goods, I am not sure I know when to go after them. For dealing them, is it worth a turn/resources to exchange them for multiple low-value goods or do you stick to dealing them only for silver/gold/diamonds? Thanks K-Law
Klaw: I love that game but I don’t know that I have a clear strategy for that. I try to focus more on the three higher-value goods, both acquiring them and preventing my opponent from doing so.

Chris: If you’re the Dodgers, do you resign Kendrick this offseason or give the job to Peraza? I assume they’re keeping Seager at SS and Turner at 3B.
Klaw: Peraza is the best SS of the group, but doing that would probably require Turner to go back to 2b, where he wasn’t very good in limited MLB time. I’d like to at least see what that looks like before committing to Seager at SS, as I don’t think he’s an average defender there in the long run.

Justin (DC): May I make a plug for Acquire? It has become our go to game for new gamers, and its been very popular. I don’t know if it is because everyone we introduce it to has (fake) fond memories of monopoly or we’re all lawyers (and thus megalomaniacs), but its been a popular go to for us.
Klaw: One of the only classics that holds up well. It’s been on my annual game rankings every year.

Justin (DC): What are your thoughts on the valuation of draft picks and international money? For example, at what price point does a trade or free agent become worth the lost draft pick/international slot?
Klaw: Two thoughts. One, if MLB tries to combine these two, or even create an international draft, they’re going to have a hellish PR issue on the gap between the values of drafted kids (US/Canada/PR) and Latin American kids from everywhere but PR. Two, it depends on two factors that prevent a generalization here – where that lost pick is (pick 11 is worth a lot more than pick 25 in expected return) and where that team is in the success cycle (win now vs still building). In conclusion, don’t give up a pick for Michael Cuddyer.

nb: Keith – I’ll be in Phoenix the weekend of the AFL All Star Game. Will you be there?
Klaw: Nope, going Monday the 19th through Friday the 23rd.

Mike: It appears we are seeing a lot more starters who throw 95+ for 100+ pitches than ever before. What is this attributable to? Is it possible to teach velocity?
Klaw: Pitchers have been getting bigger and stronger for a while now, and I think we select them for velocity and then develop them to do just what you said. The results may include the spike in elbow injuries, of course.

John: Thought on Bogar as favorite for M’s job
Klaw: I don’t know if he’s the favorite – there really isn’t a favorite in these things, right? Someone gets the job and there’s no second place – but I like that he has substantial managerial experience in the minors. We’re seeing more candidates with that experience now – him, Nevin, and Alex Cora, whom I know well and recommend highly.

Fredo in Tahoe: Hi Keith, an ambitious three questions. 1. Any insight into the Dodgers jettisoning Engle and the International Staff? Thought they were well regarded. 2. Have you ever read Metropole by Kermode? 3. Pour over coffee? Aeropress?
Klaw: 1. Yes, limited insight, but I’ve heard they felt they were paying too much for international talent and not getting anywhere near the return outside of Puig and Urias. 2. No, sorry. 3. Pour-over although I’m still an espress guy at heart.

Nicholas: DIpoto has made it clear that the M’s need to get more athletic (which is obvious). The biggest need that I see is CF. Who can you see them targeting to fill CF? JBJ?
Klaw: He’d fit, although I think his defensive ability is more routes and reads rather than athleticism – he’s not a plus runner or anything. By the way, you know why they need to get more athletic? Because they haven’t drafted athletes in years. It’s been more polished, lower-upside guys, which can certainly work out but has not been at all fruitful for them. They need a new draft strategy.

Noah: Who is your guy to go first overall in the draft?
Klaw: Nobody has separated himself for 2016 yet. There are a half-dozen guys who could do so in the spring, and I’m sure we’ll get one or two names out of nowhere the way Jonathan Gray burst on the scene in February of 2013.

Geoff: Who is Kiley McDaniel and why are Braves fans so excited that he’s been hired to their front office?
Klaw: Used to work for me before moving on to other sites, including leading Fangraphs’ prospect coverage this past year. I’m a big believer in his evaluation skills. (Fans are excited because they know who he is, as opposed to someone less well-known like, say, Matt Arnold.)

Corey: Clay Buchholz – pick up the option and trade or keep and consider Owens/Wright as his replacement when he gets hurt ?
Klaw: Pick it up and keep him.

mike: 2-3-2 format in CS, favours Toronto doesn’t it? Steal one of two in KC then you can close out at home.
Klaw: Sure, if you assume you’re never going to lose a home game, even though you lost two of three in the last round.

Steve: After his season will Acevedo end up on your nyy list or are cheching his AFL results before?
Klaw: He’s in their top ten for sure.

Alex in Austin: Any reason why former Cavaliers Papi and Howard struggled in their debuts?
Klaw: Papi was coming off a hand injury and was a zero for two months before playing better (but not as well as he should have) after that. I thought Howard starting was a mistake; I don’t know if that was at all related to his complete loss of control even after he returned to the bullpen. Guys who put up lines like that are often hurt.

Ben: Despite his rather lackluster season, is Raul Mondesi still KC’s top prospect in your opinion?
Klaw: I don’t know. He’s super young and has the most ability of any of their prospects, but they’ve promoted him too quickly, and having him work so much on bunting has retarded his growth as a hitter. It’s probably still him but this isn’t the future I envisioned for him two years ago.

Bret: There is been some speculation in the Toronto media that the Jays feel David Price is “gassed” and/or tipping pitches. Have you seen anything scouting-wise that would indicate that?
Klaw: Doesn’t look gassed. I couldn’t tell you if he was tipping unless I was watching him from behind the plate (and even then I might not catch it). If he were gassed, using him in relief in game 4 would have been an even worse idea.

KC: I wish all kids could sign for whatever they can get, but what is the argument for not putting Latin American kids in the draft? I don’t get why everyone doesn’t have the same rules.
Klaw: Two different scouting staffs, operating on two very different calendars, evaluating 18- to 22-year-old players for the draft and 15- and 16-year-old players for July 2nd. I saw some 14-year-olds take BP in Santo Domingo last week. They were impressive, but I kept thinking, “what the hell am I even looking at?” I’ve seen exactly one U.S.-born prospect that young before – Bryce Harper at 15, who was already Superman – and this is a totally different world of evaluation.

Mike: Of all the possible FA pitchers this offseason, assuming Grienke opts out, who would you be most comfortable giving a long term big money deal to?
Klaw: Greinke and Price. I’m still a big fan of Price’s and I think his skill set will age pretty well.

Wally: Would Rendon and maybe a prospect for Carrasco and Frazier be roughly comparable value? Would that make sense for Nats to supplement the lack of any upper level OF prospects (and a statue in LF)
Klaw: That seems to create one hole to maybe fill another. Even if you rate Frazier more highly than I do, you’re making the 2016-17 Nats worse while you wait for him.

Jim Boden: How about Khris davis and Will smith for Aiken and Bobby bradley? Gattis for Folty and Ruiz. Tumbo for Skaggs and Eaton(Arizona gave two for Trumbo). Are those two trades also stupid?
Klaw: Those trades were stupid, yes, and I said so at the time.

Pat: The difference between the cheapest cable package that includes ESPN and the biggest one that doesn’t include ESPN is $25. Therefore, ESPN costs me $25 per month, regardless of what ESPN charges the cable company. That’s a lot of money.
Klaw: I assume that gets you ESPN plus our other channels plus some others, but yes, I hear you. We watch fewer than a dozen channels frequently. Why are we paying so much for them? More channels with substantial archives need to go the HBO route. If the BBC created an app with their entire archive of video plus new shows, is that not a huge value at $10/month?

JF: Other than AJ Reed, what other prospects in the Astros system could help their offense as early as next year?
Klaw: Don’t sleep on Tyler White. Bad body but ridiculous track record of performance.

Pat: How was the coffee in the Dominican?
Klaw: I didn’t get to explore at all, which was probably for the best as I was an anxious wreck for two days before the trip and much of the time I was there.

Jim: Keith, could you clarify Cora’s experience? My understanding was he has the GM position in the winter league, and can’t find any reference to him working as a manager anywhere (which may be me). Thanks!
Klaw: He manages Caguas.

Mike: Should the Mets give Murphy a QO for $16mm, or let him walk given cheaper and probably better internal options (Flores, Herrera)?
Klaw: Let him walk. Despite the 2 HR this series I don’t think you want him to take that offer at all.

John: I think the Braves did the right thing by getting the rookies into the rotation this season, but the results were less-than-ideal. Should they just keep the same guys next year and bank on improvement, or would they benefit from signing a mid-tier FA starter for some stability? Looking toward 2017, obviously?
Klaw: You can’t bank on improvement but you should have learned something about each of those kids, who’s learned something from the experience, who’s working well with coaches, who might be destined for the bullpen. None of that is a reason to stay out of free agency this winter, though – there’s value in adding a guy who can give you 200 innings and avoid blowing out what is already a not that good bullpen.

KC: Some of these kids get 100k, spend it all in the States, get injured or don’t make it and then go home with nothing. That’s not a service.
Klaw: Better that they stay desperately poor? It’s not like they’re going to school there. They might even learn English in a few years in the US, which is an actual skill.

Anonymous: Speaking of relievers who were starters, is Joe Kelly destined to be a closer? he seems to have the right stuff for the gig
Klaw: I think so. Tough to repeat that arm action 100 times a game enough for fastball command.

TJ: Stephen Piscotti in the playoffs- SSS or a glimpse of what we might see in the future power-wise?
Klaw: Obvious SSS but he can really hit and will hit for more power in the majors than the consensus was for him out of the draft or in the minors.

Ridley: I’m gutted to see my Rangers out of the playoffs, but the future looks pretty bright. Darvish is back next year, and Joey Gallo is going to be fun to watch. How would you work Gallo in to the team? Are there any other youngsters likely to make it to Arlington?
Klaw: Gallo should start in AAA to continue to work on making contact in the zone, and I haven’t given up on him as a 3b long-term. You’ll see Mazara in the majors at some point too.

KC: By that logic, poor kids in the US should also be able to get drafted/sign at 16.
Klaw: Poverty in the DR is a whole different kind of poverty than what we consider poor in the US.

Dan: Do front offices ever reach out to local media to run interference for (give cover to) non-mainstream managerial decisions? I’m imagining Alderson reaching out to Francesca and other NY-area loudmouths prior to tonight’s game to preemptively defend Terry if he decides to piggyback deGrom and Syndergaard (irrespective of how well deGrom is pitching).
Klaw: Don’t know. I haven’t run into that before the fact, but I do hear from folks afterwards to discuss questionable decisions, which I find helpful because often there’s a variable I didn’t know (e.g., Joey Bagodonuts woke up with a sore shoulder and wasn’t available) or consider (e.g., something in batted-ball data that we don’t have) before.

Chris: Assuming the Dodgers get past the Mets (big assumption) and they don’t use Kershaw on three days’ rest again, would you start Brett Anderson or Alex Wood in Game 1 of the NLCS?
Klaw: Anderson. But maybe get Ellis behind the plate because Grandal’s pitch-calling has left a bit to be desired so far.

Dave: Love the questions about SP moving to RP — the Reds have about 4000 young-ish guys who are nominally SPs. If you are the Reds, who do you abandon as SPs?
Klaw: I think Lorenzen and Finnegan are relievers for sure. Howard is already in the pen. Give Garrett, Mella, and Travieso more time to start; Mella may end up in the pen too. Reed can start.

Chris: Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Clarkin, Austin, and Sanchez after your visit to the AFL. All have something to prove. Clarkin unspecified injury, Austin generally disintegrating and Sanchez supposedly improving behind the plate.
Klaw: Saw Austin (no bueno) and Sanchez (same maddening combination of skills and disinterest) this year. Sanchez just isn’t that much better behind the plate, but I also never thought he was as bad as reported online either. He came out of the womb a better receiver than Montero.

Alex (CA): Who is more likely to reach his ceiling, Hedges, Sanchez, or Alfaro?
Klaw: Hedges … if they ever let him play.

Ridley Kemp: I’m gutted to see my Rangers out of the playoffs, but the future looks pretty bright. Darvish is back next year, and Joey Gallo is going to be fun to watch. How would you work Gallo in to the team? First base? DH? Third base? Left field? Are there any other youngsters likely to make it to Arlington?
Klaw: Gallo should start in AAA to continue to work on making contact in the zone, and I haven’t given up on him as a 3b long-term. You’ll see Mazara in the majors at some point too.

Klaw: That’s all for the chat this week – thank you all for joining me, as always. I’ll be in Arizona next week, where I hope to see many of you in person. I’ll try to do a chat one morning local time near the end of the week once I’ve seen everyone take BP. Keep an eye on Twitter and my Facebook page for details.