Klawchat 3/17/16.

Klaw: In my backyard, sounds turn around, down fall apart, in Klawchat.

Brett: I know it’s way too early to talk about players and teams in the draft, but if Atlanta were to take Kyle Lewis, would you consider that a reach?
Klaw: Yes, I would. Think there will be too much swing and miss there. He’s faced some awful pitching so far.

Craig: I’m experimenting with curing and smoking my own bacon. Have you done it and do you have tips/spice recipes?
Klaw: Yep, I’ve used the recipe in Ruhlman’s 20 several times. Very easy to do yourself, and it destroys anything you’re going to buy in any grocery store.

Philip: When are you going to come out with initial draft rankings? Thanks
Klaw: We did, in November. I don’t know offhand when the next update will be.

Chris: When are you posting breakout player column. You do realize we are all scared to tell you it is the lynchpin of our fantasy draft strategy…..
Klaw: Next week.

Jeff Chisholm: Are kids invited to this chat?
Klaw: Yes but they can’t stay the whole time.

Ryan: What would be the more optimal solution: Moncada 3B Devers 1B, or Moncada RF Devers 3B?
Klaw: Moncada is at 2b now. If he can’t stay there, he’s going to the outfield.

Yasiel’s Pug: You had SS Garrett Hampson listed as a top-100 guy coming out of Reno High School but he opted to go to college. After three years at Long Beach, he’s draft eligible again. Has he helped his stock at all? What round do you see him going in this year?
Klaw: No, he’s failed to develop physically or offensively. He’s a 2b without any punch. I’d say 5th round or later.

Timbo: Dylan Cease is already drawing raves for a back field performance. What kind of upside does he have and how would he compare to some of the high school arms in last years draft…Allard and Russell?
Klaw: He was on my top 100 and I’ll refer you there for more. He’s not doing anything different this spring.

JayMac: Trayce Thompson has always struck me as one of those guys who ends up having more success in the bigs than in the minors. You think he has a real shot at being a regular out in center?
Klaw: I don’t see why that would specifically be the case for him, but he has gradually improved over the last two years to the point where I could see him becoming a low-OBP, 20-HR regular with plus-plus defense in center. If you’re the Dodgers, that’s probably better than what you can expect from Joc, right?

dutch: Alex Bregman eventually has to be traded, right? Only open spot for him is at 3B and you say he lacks the arm for it.
Klaw: I think he ends up trade bait, given how good Altuve’s contract is for the team.

Joe: What’s the guide for eating at Okra in Phoenix?
Klaw: Everything? It was all good but I particularly liked the pork bites with collard greens, the fried chicken with cornbread, and the warm donut with salted caramel.

Evan: Hi, can we send you something for your autograph? If so where?
Klaw: To ESPN in Bristol.

CubFanBudMan: Is there much of a chance of Espinoza being the top pitching prospect a year from now? Will he see AA this year?
Klaw: Can’t imagine they push him like that – I think it’s unreasonable to expect an 18-year-old to get to AA, especially when he’s on some kind of innings limit. It is reasonable to think he will be the top pitching prospect a year from now; assuming Giolito, Glasnow, and Urias all graduate, I think Espinoza might be the favorite.

Steve: My wife doesn’t understand why you went to Harvard to become a baseball writer / scouting professional. Maybe you can better explain how you ended up where you did on your journey and why you went to Harvard? I bet there is a good story there
Klaw: Your wife thinks I went to Harvard at 17 to become a baseball writer at 33? She seems a little confused.

Bill: Do you think Edwin Diaz has mid-rotation upside and a chance to contribute in Sea during the second half?
Klaw: No, I think he’s probably a reliever in the long run, although I would leave him as a starter for now to see if he exceeds expectations. I had three separate scouts who saw him in Jackson last year tell me they put him in as a future reliever.

Martin: Is Sam Travis good enough to play the big leagues?
Klaw: I assume you’re asking now rather than “ever,” since clearly the latter is true. Travis is a pretty advanced hitter, and wasn’t that far behind his teammate at IU, Kyle Schwarber, at the time of the draft. I don’t think it’s crazy to think Travis could hit in the majors right now.

Justin: Hey Keith. Is Peter O Brien a guy? Or just a guy who puts up good box score #’s? Anything more than an average player?
Klaw: Not even an average player. 80 raw power, below-average everything else, with no position.

Gabe: As a Reds fan, I am dumbfounded by the Simon signing. The team made a morality move in moving Chapman at all costs before the season began (which I supported), but now doesn’t mind having Simon back?
Klaw: Selective memories, I guess. I hope Reds fans voice their displeasure.

Bret: How would you advise the Jays handle Aaron Sanchez? He’s obviously a safer bet in the bullpen, but certainly still has upside as a starter, which is his preference. Even beyond pure performance, though, he probably couldn’t pitch enough innings as a starter to last through the whole year even if he succeeded.
Klaw: If he wants to start, he needs to change his delivery, and until that happens, they should leave him in relief where he has had and should continue to have success.

Michael Scarn: Xander Bogaerts had a 4.3 WAR year in 2015 but didn’t show nearly the power people expected, should he attempt to change his swing/approach for more power in 2016, or if he’s already a 4 WAR player is changing his approach not a risk worth taking?
Klaw: He’ll come into power in time. He was only 22; I think the added attention everyone pays to prospects now, plus the huge debuts of guys like Trout and Harper, have skewed expectations of what prospects will do right out of the gate.

Jamie: Do you think Rymer Liriano still has a chance to be a quality player?
Klaw: I do not.

Adam: Corey Ray — real deal or role player at the big league level?
Klaw: I think he’s an average to above-average regular. Top player in the draft class now, although to some extent that’s by default.

Tim: Why would Ken Williams ban LaRoche’s son?
Klaw: I really don’t care one iota about this story. It feels like it’s none of our business.

Vin: I’ve read a lot about the Giants transitioning Christian Arroyo to the outfield because of Joe Panik already being at 2B. Do you think he could handle a corner outfield spot?
Klaw: I think that’s a terrible idea, because Arroyo’s bat isn’t going to profile as well in LF/RF, because big leaguers get hurt all the time, and because Panik is not a franchise player who’d force you to move your best prospect to another position.

Zarms22: Thoughts on/potential of Candelario? Seems to be the flavor du hour in this years Cubs camp…
Klaw: Been on the radar for at least four years now – can definitely hit, not good at 3b.

addoeh: Enjoying a Guinness during the chat?
Klaw: Heh, I’m not even wearing green, and tonight I’m making an Asian steak salad for dinner.

Drew: Do you think any stats / performance during Spring Training are noteworth? As a Nats fan, it’s hard to disregard Espinosa’s awful start at the plate and Michael Taylor increased contact rate. Is it too early to draw any conclusions from these?
Klaw: I don’t look at spring training stats at all. All noise, no signal. Good for crappy articles and blog posts and terrible front office decisions.

Aubrey: Do you think I can expect the Astros to be a better team this year than last (more like a 90+ win team)? Full year from Correa, improved bullpen, hopefully some of the young guys can improve the 1B/DH production.
Klaw: Plexiglass Principle says no. Keuchel probably won’t repeat, McCullers is hurt, McHugh looks like a good bet to regress, lineup may not/likely won’t be as healthy, etc.

Aubrey: I know the Astros are saying it’s no big deal, but shoulder stuff is always scary in a young guy like McCullers, right?
Klaw: Especially with the long arm action.

David: Barring injuries, of course, do you think Max Kepler and Sean Manaea stick with the big clubs this year? And when do you think each will be called up? Thanks
Klaw: My guess is both guys spend about 2/3 of the season in the majors. Manaea looked ready to me in my brief ST look, but given his injury history starting him slow in the minors isn’t a bad idea.

Jaron: I wouldn’t want Simon on my favorite team nor Chapman. That said, if a criminal or accused criminal is eligible to work, why are you OK with them being a janitor, but not a ball player? What makes pro athlete job any more special?
Klaw: Where did I say I was OK with them being a janitor? If you’re going to show up to argue, then skip the straw men.

Dave: How are you not fat?
Klaw: People ask this all the time. It’s not like I’m eating 3000 calories a day.

Oren: Will Ketel Marte establish himself as a solid big-league shortstop?
Klaw: I’m very curious on this one. Even the M’s own people seemed to think he’d end up at second base, which presented a problem, of course, with Cano there. But if he’s really an average defender at short, which he appeared to be in his brief MLB time last year, he’s probably a four-win player at his peak.

Mike: I see that TJ Zeuch hasn’t pitched at all for U of Pitt this season. Do you know if he’s hurt ?
Klaw: Yes, I’d heard he was hurt before the season. I don’t remember why.

Adam: 75 wins for Atlanta — too optimistic?
Klaw: I’d say so.

Dave: Spring Training stats aren’t all noise. They’re mostly noise. But things like velocity and swing rate stabilize fairly quickly
Klaw: First of all, those aren’t stats. Second, stabilization doesn’t quite mean what fans take it to mean. It’s not saying that’s the player’s true talent level, for one important thing.

Drew: Your take on the worthlessness ST stats makes sense to me. That said, is it reasonable to be excited by Giolito’s composture / comfort level taking on major league hitters? What about his baking skills?
Klaw: I’d be concerned if a kid came into a MLB game, even an exhibition, and lost the strike zone … which I’ve seen a few times. Anecdotally speaking, it doesn’t generally end well. Also, Marzipan told me that Lucas’s baking has really improved lately.

Rob: The Mets cutting Tejada makes no sense to me if plan A at SS is an injured Asdrubal. Not a big deal, but it was nice to finally have some depth. What’s the rationale? Still pinching pennies? Faith in Reynolds as a backup? They’re just stuck in a roster jam after the terrible De Aza signing?
Klaw: Wonder if they felt he was hobbled by the aftereffects of the attempted murder by Chase Utley.

Wilson: How far will Alec Hansen fall in the draft?
Klaw: Going to depend on his medicals, I think, which we’ll likely hear nothing about. Even if he continues to have a lousy spring, at some point, maybe in the sandwich round, a team will take a shot at him if they think he’s at all fixable or if it’s an elbow issue they believe can be treated.

AJ: Hey Keith I’ve been intrigued by Sam Coonrod. Small sample size, but his stuff looked really good this spring and he had a good year in A ball. What are your thoughts on him from what you’ve seen? Projection?
Klaw: Reliever. Good stuff, reliever delivery and command.

Dave: Does the organization a prospect is in change your scouting report? For instance a guy might be a fringy defender at a position but he’s a Cardinals farm hand, so you give him the benefit of the doubt that they’ll coach him up?
Klaw: No, never, for the very simple reason that any player can be traded at any time.

Josh: The Padres are starting Margot in AAA. Is that a little aggressive?
Klaw: He’s a fairly advanced hitter. I don’t think it’s aggressive and it sets him up to see the majors midyear.

Dave: KLAW: Thanks for the chat. Your Braves Farm Team report on Swanson and Albies seemed to imply that both had mediocre arms. Which of the two is more likely to be defensively effective at short.
Klaw: I wouldn’t say mediocre, just not plus. I’d leave them both at short and let one or the other play himself off it. Swanson is probably the eventual winner but I think it’s something like 60/40.

Bucky: JD seems quite confident that Ian Desmond will be a plus OF. Have you any thoughts one way or another?
Klaw: Defensively? I truly have no idea. Plus, right out of the chute, would be surprising but not unprecedented. I’m more concerned about his bat, and about what his presence means for Profar, Gallo, Mazara, and Brinson.

Edmund: Is it too early to be encouraged by what we’ve seen from Taillon post-layoff?
Klaw: Not at all. It’s encouraging to have him healthy and on a mound, period.

Chris: Why would the Jays simply ignore Sanchez’s need to lengthen his stride to be a successful SP? You have made this point in the past and I’m wondering what could be preventing the club from addressing it.
Klaw: Perhaps the player doesn’t want to change.

Mike: Have you heard anything on where Lazaro Armentaros may end up ?
Klaw: Nothing. He’s been so overhyped anyway that I’m much more interested in other names.

Dave: Considering that Anthony Alford performed so well despite taking significant time off, do you think he’s a candidate to be moved aggressively and challenged, or does he need substantial seasoning to make up for the missed reps?
Klaw: I wouldn’t consider his history so much as his present performance. If they send him back to high-A, and he rakes, they should be prepared to move him up to AA quickly. Let his bat tell you where he needs to play. Don’t hold him back somewhere just because he’s inexperienced.

Paul: Will I ever see a two way player in my life time? As we understand better how our bodies work, as athletes know more about nutrition and preparation, I would think that a franchise would give it a try no? Thanks
Klaw: As baseball becomes increasingly specialized and players become better, the baseline skill level to do any one thing at a major-league level keeps getting higher. That’s why we won’t see two-way players. It’s why pitchers shouldn’t hit (and people who say pitchers who don’t hit are only playing half the game are complete idiots). It’s also why we’re unlikely to see another .400 hitter, or see other records smashed aside from the one-time effect of expansion years.

Dave: That’s a rather odd way to put things – Velocity and Swing Rate aren’t statistics. And while many people misunderstand the meaning of various statistical terms, the fact remains that Spring Training stats aren’t all noise. There is some amount of signal there and parsing it out leads to better understanding of player performance.
Klaw: This is not a “fact.” You’re dealing with fewer than 30 games of performance, much of it against competition that is well below what the same players would face in April through September. You’re wasting your time looking for signal when 20% of the player’s at bats might have come against double-A arms.

KC: Friend of mine has a son who is a junior in high school. Tops out at 88, but is 6’5′, 250. He’s already been scouted by pro scouts who told his Dad that he has a future and was offered numerous D1 full rides before his first varsity game. Is that normal because he’s projectable?
Klaw: Is he projectable? At 6’5″, 250, “projecting” would mean that he ends up weighing, what, 280?

J: Friedman’s downplaying it, but should LA be concerned about Kazmir’s diminished velocity?
Klaw: I’d be concerned if he’s still throwing like that in the last week of March. I think I remember that John Lackey was always a slow starter for spring velocity.

Dave: Is the league ever going to have a pre-draft workout similar to the NFL combine just so they can get medical reports on the top prospects?
Klaw: I know there’s movement in that direction on all sides, but the league and the union will have to agree on specifics in the next CBA negotiation and get the NCAA to agree to let HS players attend too.

Josh: In your prospect write-up of Hunter Renfroe, I believe you said he had a 4A bat to go with plus tools everywhere else. Does that equal a regular or just a 4th OF?
Klaw: I felt like it puts him on the fence (and thus me too). He might hit just enough to be a regular, and he might fall just short and be a 4th OF. He’s right at that inflection point for me, although if forced to choose I’d say 4th OF.

Rob: Any updates on Nick Howard or Jonathan Crawford for the Reds? Have not seen or heard their names once this spring.
Klaw: Nick Howard had the yips last year and I would probably forget about him for now.

Dave: Is there any reason to think Tyler Duffey’s last 9 starts was more than just a good run?
Klaw: Glass half full says his much-improved K% was the result of a better CB than he’d ever had before, I think. Glass half empty (like ZiPS) says he’s probably the same guy he was all through his minor league career. I tend toward the latter.

Clarence: I know you’re high on E Rodriguez and the Baws Joe Ross – any other non-prospect pitchers you think could make the leap to legit #2(ish) this year?
Klaw: That’ll be in the breakout column. I am indeed high on both of those guys. Ross is legit – bet on the athletes.

A: Hi! A few weeks ago you seemed adamant the Phillies wouldn’t take Groome at 1.1- is this a talent thing, a high school pitcher thing, or something else?
Klaw: All of the above. Particularly do not think they’ll take a HS pitcher at 1-1, though. It goes against draft history and the specific philosophies of the new regime. If we were talking Brady Aiken – who was historically good at the time of the draft – that might be different, but there is no Aiken in this draft, much less a Harper or Strasburg.

Tim: Chris Colabello’s bat: fluke or legit?
Klaw: Fluke.

Bucky: Should Rangers trade Lew Brinson (and lesser pieces) for Derek Norris + Tyson Ross?
Klaw: No. Brinson’s upside is too big, Ross’s injury risk and command problems are too big, and Norris isn’t a very good defensive catcher anyway.

Adam: Will Buddy Reed fall to #20 in the draft?
Klaw: Possible but unlikely given interest in him and paucity of good college bats. I am out on that one – I don’t think he can hit.

Michael Scarn: How many teams in the AL do you think have at least a 10% chance at making the playoffs?
Klaw: Is twelve too many? I don’t think Oakland and Baltimore do. Having a hard time giving the White Sox much of a shot in that division, even though I don’t think they’re a bad team at all – just that I don’t think (top of my head) they finish first or second. Joe Sheehan had a good piece on the Angels being fool’s gold this year. Can you really scratch anyone else, if you can even scratch all of those teams?

Kent: Do you think a player would develop the same regardless of when they sign? Would Karston Whitson still have been a bust if he signed with Padres? On the other hand would the Padres have developed Connor Jones to the same level he is currently at?
Klaw: No, I don’t think they would develop the same. Tyler Matzek would have had a different (and I think better) career had he gone to a club that didn’t rework his delivery, for one example. Kevin Gausman would be an established big league starter today had he not gone to a club that decided to dick around with his place on the rubber. (Pun not intended.) But Whitson or Dylan Bundy may have been destined for injury no matter what; Bundy was worked too hard in high school and perhaps the Orioles couldn’t have prevented what’s happened since 2012.

Tim A.: Worst FA signing of the off season?
Klaw: 1. Chris Davis. 2. Ian Kennedy. 3. Wei-Yin Chen.

Dan: Brandon Belt have 25-HR potential? Or is he going to continue to hover around 20?
Klaw: Feel like he’s going to hover around 20 but with solid avg/obp/2b. Strong enough for more power, but I’m afraid if he tries to pull the ball more he may give up too much contact.

R,: Should Marc Brakeman be developed as a artered or let him blow through the system as a reliever?
Klaw: Reliever. Assuming he doesn’t blow up like most Stanford pitchers do. But it’s OK – Coach Marquess says pitchers always come back from TJ surgery, sometimes better than before!

Astros410: Who do you think has a better 2016: Derek Holland or Trevor Bauer?
Klaw: Bauer. Never going to be the pitcher the UCLA stat line might have indicated, still plenty of elements there for an above-average major-league starter.

Derek Harvey: What’s one piece of advice you wish you got on day one of your scouting career?
Klaw: Slow it down. Easy to try to draw conclusions from the first thing you see in a player, but the more you see (and, in my case, the more you talk to others), the more refined your evaluation gets.

Mike: Have you seen Nolan Jones yet? Thoughts?
Klaw: I’ll see the local kids in April. Saw him last summer and loved him, but the schools around here are just getting started.

Scott: Can Aledmis Diaz help the Cards at SS for even a little while?
Klaw: Unlikely but not impossible.

Ian: Re: Blue Jays. Is Kevin Pillar actually a 4 WAR player, and if not, where will his value decrease?
Klaw: I have a hard time with players whose total value is that wrapped up in defensive metrics that we know lack the precision of offensive metrics. I don’t think Kevin Kiermaier is actually a top ten player in the AL either.

Josh: What are your thoughts on AJ Preller after a year-plus on the job? Safe to say that with a lot of early draft picks and ownership go-ahead to spend big internationally, this is a big summer for him?
Klaw: I think this is the year where he gets to do it his way, not ownership’s way. I’m very eager to see what he does now.

Ed: Why do most high school (and even college) players not have very good change ups. Seems like an essential pitch that someone would start working on even before trying to throw a breaking ball. I always find it odd how many pitchers need to develop it in the minors after they are drafted.
Klaw: Wild guess – because a slider will miss more bats at those levels. I don’t coach, but when friends have asked me to talk to their kids who pitch, the first thing I always do is ask if they throw a changeup, and then show them a basic grip. Little League pitchers shouldn’t throw anything but fastballs and changeups, and the latter is relatively easy to teach.

Todd: How likely do you think Brett Phillips is to get called up sometime in 2016?
Klaw: Extremely likely, but not till midyear or so.

Scott of Lincolnshire: Ever do one of those DNA tests to see what your genetic makeup is?
Klaw: No although I’d be very curious. I can’t trace my lineage very far back – three generations ago, almost everyone’s still in Europe, 75% of them in Italy and the rest in the UK/Ireland, I think. Beyond that, I have no idea.

Adam: Mike Foltynewicz — starter / long reliever / setup / closer?
Klaw: Reliever for now. Also better for helping him return from the injury (thoracic outlet syndrome?).

Brian Holland: Excited or not about return of Belly?
Klaw: Eh. Liked them during their brief peak, but I can’t say I’m running out to buy tickets to see them. How many good songs did they really have? FOur?

Scrapper: Is Maikel Franco a likely star?
Klaw: Think he’s a good player, not a likely star. He’s improved a lot over the last year, though.

Ian: RE: Pillar. My question was more in regards to whether or not he’s actually capable of a .310-.320 OBP going forward. Seems to me that that OBP will more than suffice, considering his glove.
Klaw: I think he can do that again, but I’m saying that the glove may not be as valuable as the advanced metrics indicate.

Roman: You think Drew Hutchison needs a change of scenery? Stuff still looks pretty good. Just needs to get out of the AL East?
Klaw: Needs his slider back. Otherwise he’s just a fifth starter.

Dave: Is Domingo Santana likely to make enough contact to be a solid regular?
Klaw: I don’t think so. He reminds me of a lot of players who had huge tools but either never had the OBPs or contact rates to be regulars, or didn’t get there till later in their careers. Doesn’t hurt Milwaukee to try him out, though. He’s better than Liriano.

Andy: How valuable is Profar if he shows himself to be healthy?
Klaw: I think valuable enough to be an above-average regular if he got the chance this year. His bat speed is intact. His eye is still good. He’s having no trouble making contact. And it sounds like he’s even fielding and throwing fine. Free Jurickson.

Klaw: And that’s all for this week. I’ll be at UVA Friday afternoon, then in Florida for the last week and a half or so of spring training. Next week’s chat may be on a different day to work around my travel. Thanks as always for all of your questions and for bearing with me on the time change!

Top Chef, S13E14.

Amar is the winner of Last Chance Kitchen, so Carl, who I thought was a clear top 3 coming down the stretch, is out. No Kwame, no Carl, and possibly no Marjorie in the finals? Is this a good thing? Is it fair to think that we might not get the best chefs in the finals when we haven’t tasted any of the food?

* The winner of this first challenge goes right to the finale. The chefs each get a pantry at random and must create a dish inspired by the limited pantry you’re dealt. Marjorie gets the royalty pantry, so she can choose from all four pantries, not just her own. Amar gets only the peasants’ pantry, so he can’t use any pantry but his. This sounds like a new worker-placement game, and like most games of that ilk, this challenge will take three hours.

* They’re serving 150 people in just three hours from the start of the challenge, but they do get help from the last four eliminated chefs. Marjorie takes Karen, Isaac takes Carl, Jeremy takes Kwame, so Amar gets Phillip. Jeremy can’t believe the first two chefs passed on Kwame. I still can’t believe Kwame didn’t make it to the finals.

* Is it just me or does the top of Padma’s red dress here look like lingerie?

* Marjorie has salmon and dry-aged steak available to her. I’d hope she’ll be judged along a higher standard given the inputs she’s getting. I do want to know how she was trimming that salmon – she sliced something off the top of the fillet, which I haven’t seen before.

* Amar’s protein choices are chicken livers and beef tongue. He’s downplaying the livers, but liver cooked properly can be delicious. It needs other flavors, but I’ve really grown to like it.

* Isaac is trying to cook his fish to order for 150 people, which seems very difficult to do, especially given what’s on the line this episode.

* The judges go to Amar’s station first for his sauteed liver and onions with root vegetable puree and crispy leeks. The judges all seem to like it, but whatever other flavors were in there, we didn’t hear about them. Liver and onions does not excite me but he apparently did something novel with it.

* Jeremy made butter-poached chicken with togarashi, zucchini puree, chicken cracklings, and pickled sweet and hot grapes. Gail loves the grapes, and of course everyone loves the cracklings. Crispy chicken skin has been ‘in’ for a couple of years now – I’ve even seen it in vinaigrettes – but I don’t think it’s just a fad, because it’s very satisfying to eat (thanks to the crunch) and because it fits in the new philosophy of using as much of the animal as possible. I nearly always save mine and cook them separately if I’m not cooking them with the meat.

* Isaac made seared black cod with caramelized fennel, eggplant, and red wine vinegar. He served it with toasted slices of bread, but they were too dry to soak up the sauce. I grew up Italian, so to me, one of bread’s primary functions is as the sponge you use to clean your plate before sending it to the sink.

* Marjorie made seared salmon in vadouvan beurre monté with a Meyer lemon purée and shaved vegetable salad. Meyer lemons and yuzu are two of the most overused ingredients on Top Chef. At least I can get Meyer lemons in Whole Foods – yes, they’re good, but 95% of the time regular lemons would work just fine – while I’m not sure I’ve ever seen yuzu in any form.

* Padma’s super cheerful this time. Tom likes that they’re not eliminating someone this challenge. I think he’s happy because he has a restaurant in Vegas and every time he goes there he remembers how much money he makes from it.

* Rick Moonen loves the comfort food aspect of Amar’s dish, while Tom likes the ingenuity and simplicity. They loved the Meyer lemon puree in Marjorie’s dish. Tom praises Jeremy’s poached chicken despite the natural blandness of poached chicken, crediting the grapes in particular. Butter-poached chicken isn’t any poached chicken, though.

* The winner is Jeremy, who goes to the finals and gets a $25,000 prize. Two of the three remaining chefs will end up going home. Padma makes a “Leaving Las Vegas” joke for which she should have to pack her knives and go.

* Illusionist David Copperfield is there. Can he make Donald Trump disappear?

* The second challenge is to make a dish that “leaves the judges spellbound.” I don’t like how this sounds. Is this Top Chef, or Top Showman?

* Jeremy sounds gracious in victory, saying of the double elimination here, “I’m sure it’s in the back of each one of their minds, it’s the end of the road. It sucks.” For a guy who cops a bit of a bro attitude, he’s come across as way more mature and thoughtful the more he speaks in the confessionals.

* I wonder how often the chefs just make a dish they make all the time at their restaurants and cook up a narrative for the judges or the cameras.

* Amar is making a cauliflower white chocolate ganache. This sounds … terrible, really. White chocolate is sugar and fat. It has no cocoa solids, so it has no chocolate flavor. If you wouldn’t add sugar to a savory dish, don’t add white chocolate. I hate white chocolate, by the way.

* Marjorie is using liquid nitrogen for the first time, which is a very bad idea. She tastes something she made with it, and “burns” her tongue, so she can barely taste her food. LN is around –196 degrees Celsius – that is, nearly 200 degrees below the freezing point of water – and can freeze human tissue on contact. This is not a toy.

* She plates first, trying to put on a show, talking as she goes … which has Tom looking totally bemused. They did tell the chefs they had to entertain, right? She’s nervous as hell, but she’s powering through it.

* Marjorie says she’s never used liquid nitrogen before and it makes her nervous, to which Padma says, “it’s making me nervous.” You’re twenty feet away, Padma. Simmer down.

* The dish is roasted duck breast a l’orange with braised endive, orange cells, caramelized romanesco, fennel puree. The screen said “romesco,” which is a sauce, but I think the item was actually romanesco, a close relative of the cauliflower with a bright green color and fractal form to its pointed florets. The endives are good, but the dish didn’t have enough orange flavor, perhaps because she was struggling with the LN.

* Isaac is up next, making his “chicken-fried steak” with crispy chicken skin attached to the steaks. He’s not talking to the judges, which shouldn’t matter but might, although he finishes with a cute if silly magic trick. The actual dish: dry aged ribeye with chicken skin, “quadruple” fennel puree, and yuzu hollandaise. The flavors are great but the puree wasn’t smooth enough.

* This seems like the perfect challenge for molecular gastronomy, or even just a Jacques Derrida approach. I had a dish at ink. last week that would have fit the challenge: a deconstructed apple pie that looked like a bit of a mess, but when eaten all together had all the flavors of a real apple pie. It included a “burnt wood” semifreddo and bits of apple gelée. Richard Blais’s restaurants often have dishes like this too, where your eyes tell you to expect one thing but your palate gets something totally different. That’s the kind of illusion I expected given the challenge.

* Amar serves his dishes under a glass cloche with smoke in it. The dish is roasted squab with the aforementioned ganache, whipped balsamic, and potato rings with onion flavors in the breading. He also had dabs of LN-frozen squab sauce with mole flavors in them.

* Judges’ table: Tom says Marjorie’s story was good, the duck and endive were great, it needed more orange flavor but was otherwise “terrific.” She had the most showmanship, I think. Amar’s plate “looked like a terrarium” (Tom) but worked, although the praise is about the flavors, and we don’t get any real breakdown of the various techniques he used. I also really wanted to hear something about that ganache, which sounded vile to me. Isaac tried the magic trick, which gets him some points. He needed more skin on the filet, but gets some points for going well out of his comfort zone.

* Padma boosts Marjorie for the performance. Amar’s dish had the best elements of surprise, the most technically difficult, but didn’t have her showmanship. Isaac’s concept was good, and Tom says it was better than real chicken fried steak.

* The winner of this challenge is Amar, so we have Amar and Jeremy in the finals. It does seem like he did the best on this challenge, but to have Marjorie gone is very disappointing given how well she did all season and how much more versatile she was than anyone else this season.

* Amar gets very choked up afterwards, having just lost his first ever boss, Gerry Hayden, and remembering his father, who died of brain cancer when Amar was a teenager.

* Jeremy’s reaction to Amar walking in is priceless: “I was hoping it wasn’t you, motherfucker!” Jeremy has done so well on the more sophisticated, fine-dining sort of challenges, but was so uninspiring in some of the earlier challenges that were either more basic or that let him do one crudo after another. I think I’m pulling for Amar at this point, as long as he doesn’t sous vide another chicken breast in the finale.

Stick to baseball, 3/12/16.

Couple of Insider blog posts this week from Arizona, one on Kenta Maeda, Jose De Leon, and Sean Manaea, and on Cody Ponce, Casey Meisner, Daniel Gossett, and Trent Clark. I also held my weekly Klawchat from the Cartel Coffee Lab location in Tempe. Many thanks to the barista with purple hair.

I appeared on Tor.com’s Rocket Talk podcast, discussing science fiction, the Hugo Award, and a little baseball.

My most recent boardgame review for Paste covers the fast-moving deckbuilder Xenon Profiteer.

And now, the links…

  • A vaccine-denier couple in Canada let their baby die of meningitis rather than get him medical attention, choosing instead to give him natural treatments like maple syrup. They’re now facing criminal charges, as they should, but they’re claiming they’re being persecuted for being anti-vaccine morons. Adults who contract viral meningitis usually recover on their own, but infants are at serious risk and require medical intervention and sometimes must be hospitalized. The article doesn’t specify how their child ended up with meningitis, but it can be caused by a number of viruses, some of which – like measles, mumps, and influenza – are vaccine-preventable.
  • The BBC asks if Starbucks can succeed in Italy, where espresso is ingrained in the culture. The answer is of course they can, because Starbucks doesn’t really sell coffee: They sell highly caloric coffee-flavored drinks, food, wifi, clean bathrooms, but coffee is just a tiny part of the business. And what they’re selling more than any of that is a brand that has global cachet despite the poor quality of their products.
  • Also from the BBC, feeding young children peanuts reduces the risk of peanut allergies. So that naturalist vaccine-denier cousin of yours who didn’t give her baby peanuts till he was six probably increased the chances he’ll end up with a serious peanut allergy. Whomp, whomp.
  • Guardian sportswriter Marina Hyde with some highly intelligent fire-dropping on Maria Sharapova and why we shouldn’t believe her story.
  • Nancy Reagan died this week at age 94; her legacy includes the failed “Just Say No” campaign and associated war on drugs, as well as her part in encouraging her husband to cut funding for AIDS research as the disease was spreading fast in the U.S. Buzzfeed ran a piece from last year on how she turned down Rock Hudson’s plea for help just a few weeks before he died. The Guardian also recounts the Reagans’ refusal to commit resources to fighting the disease.
  • The New York Times with an excellent piece on the debunking of a fake CIA analyst who appeared on Fox News. While the fraudster himself, Wayne Simmons, is fascinating, the bigger question is how Fox let this guy go on air so often, saying so many inflammatory things, without anyone suspecting that his resume was inflated. We’re all susceptible to believing people who tell us what we want to hear.
  • The lawyer who controls Harper Lee’s estate – and has been accused in recent years of manipulating the author to her own benefit – has informed the publisher of To Kill a Mockinbird that the estate will no longer permit the publisher to produce the mass market paperback version. That’s the cheapest version of the novel, the one most schools and schoolkids bought. Does anyone else think Harper Lee would never, ever have permitted this? Yet I see no legal recourse, unfortunately.
  • Lot of Downton Abbey recaps, remembrances, and thinkpieces this week; this piece on Lady Mary as the series’ strongest and most central character was my favorite.
  • I did not care for this Sports Illustrated feature story on Blackhawks star and accused rapist Patrick Kane, but I will post the link here for you to judge for yourselves. I thought that it underplayed the seriousness of the accusations, and the fact that the lack of charges was due to procedural issues and the difficulty of proving rape cases rather than exonerating evidence, and didn’t sufficiently debunk the ‘theory’ it broaches about the connection between the incident and his career year.

Klawchat 3/10/16.

Klaw: You gave up being good when you declared a state of war. It’s Klawchat.

Paul: How many people who were upset that EA got $55M in her suit are just fine with Hulk Hogan’s $100M suit against Gawker?
Klaw: Probably a lot, but as I tweeted the other day, the $ figure isn’t the point in EA’s suit – or I guess in Bollea’s suit either. In Andrews’ case, it’s a clear message to hoteliers that this shit will not fly. She could have been raped or killed by the same stalker without any additional help from those same idiot hotel employees that put him in an adjacent room. In the Gawker case, though, I think the message at stake is freedom of the press, so even though I’m not entirely sure that what Gawker did is specifically necessary for or covered by the first amendment, I’d much rather see them win and preserve those rights than see Bollea win and potentially reduce them.

Tom: What has to happen for this D-backs offseason to be considered a success?
Klaw: I think they’d say a playoff appearance. But if they win 85 games and miss the playoffs, didn’t they get more or less what they paid for?

Alex in Austin: What happened to Erin Andrews was wrong. But I’m not sure how this is the fault of the hotel. Isn’t liability solely on the one or two employees who made bad decisions?
Klaw: Who trained those employees – or failed to train them?

Josh: Have you seen a team turn a player from first rounder to non-prospect faster than the Orioles did with DJ Stewart?
Klaw: I don’t want to give up on him entirely, but I had some doubts about him going into the draft, rating him as more of a second rounder because of the body and lack of defensive value. It doesn’t look good right now, though.

Bryce the Destroyer: What do you think of Bryce Harper’s comments about baseball being “tired?”
Klaw: If you read his entire comments, then I’m in complete agreement. I love players with energy and personality. McCutchen’s another one – I wish we had a hundred more guys like him and Harper and Fernandez.

Brian: What’s your opinion on whether or not the Tigers can win the Central? Is there any validity to the lineup being too right handed and is the rotation banking on too many what ifs? I love my team but I can only really see a maybe shot a wild card…
Klaw: I don’t think the “too right-handed” thing is a big issue – it’s easier to be too left-handed because of what it means late in games when opponents can hit you with LH relievers – but the lack of rotation depth looks like a potential problem. They have two, maybe three starters who seem really unlikely to get through a full season unscathed and other than Fulmer they don’t have adequate replacements available.

Carlos: Does Jacob Nottingham have enough bat to be a big leaguer even if he moves off catcher? If so, what kind of player might he look like? Thank you!
Klaw: I think so, but I also don’t think it’s at all a given he moves off catcher. I don’t think he’ll ever be more than barely average on defense at catcher, but with his bat that’d be enough. The power should play anywhere and he has more than enough feel to hit to get to it.

Pete: Hey Keith, does Addison Russell’s strike out percentage last year worry you or do you think he was called up before his bat was ready? Thanks!
Klaw: I thought he’d spend all of last year in the minors, so, no, I’m not worried about it.

K. C.: Does Sam Travis hit his way to a regular gig in Fenway?
Klaw: Somewhere, yes, not sure if it’ll be Fenway given the presence of Hanley and Pablo and their unmoveable contracts.

Ricky: Why aren’t more MLB players coming out against Trump?
Klaw: Given their tax brackets, most MLB players probably vote Republican, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if many supported Trump.

Michael D: No real question — just a huge thank you. Spent the last 5 days in Phoenix. Tacked on a weekend of ballgames before a few days of work. Relied on your AZ spring training eats guide and it didn’t let me down. Hit Culinary Dropout (twice), Cartel Coffee (thrice!), Hillside Spot, Four Peaks Brewery, Ground Control, and Pizzeria Bianco. Everything was awesome and I couldn’t have come up with anything like that on my own. Thanks for the tips!
Klaw: You’re welcome. I’m chatting from a Cartel right now, and they’re playing the entire Grimes album Art Angels, so I’m feeling pretty good.

kd: Do you think Cano has a bounce back year (after the hernia) or was 2015 as good as it gets for him?
Klaw: I’ll bet on the bounceback.

Joe S: I was reading the sad story of the Rangers’ prospect Cody Buckel, who can no longer find the strike zone and am wondering: Can you recall a pitcher who got “the yips” and was able to fix the problem and go on to a good career?
Klaw: Not really. Mark Wohlers had it and sort of came back but was never as good after as he was before. The problem is that no one really knows what causes the yips so no one can agree on a potential remedy.

Casey: I consider myself a feminist and have marched in support of Take Back The Night. That said, why do you vilify Kane when you don’t know any of the facts other than that there was an accusation by someone who isn’t cooperating? Maybe he is a piece of shit, maybe it was a money grab, maybe the girl isn’t even sure. This isn’t Chapman or Ben Roethlisberger. Short of the Duke case, what does a potential defendant have to do in your eyes once they are accused to not be vilified?
Klaw: I haven’t vilified Kane, although he probably deserves it, given unpublished details I’ve heard. I’ve vilified SI for making the guy the subject of a feature and cover story that whitewashes the allegations and even paints them as a positive for him. That’s a failure of ethics.

Kyle: Who do you think makes more of an impact this season Berrios or Giolito?
Klaw: Berrios will probably get twice the opportunity, so I’d say him.

Bob Pollard: What do you make of David Dahl at this point? Star/just a guy?
Klaw: Star potential, approach is more JAG right now. Tools will play somehow, but he won’t get close to his upside unless he gets more selective at the plate.

Corbin: Sean Newcomb’s first 2 outings have exposed his walk issues. I know it’s his first ST but is there any concern?
Klaw: Same concern there was last year: There isn’t a clear reason why he doesn’t throw more strikes or how to improve his control because his arm action is so easy. You can’t just say you’ll clean up his delivery or get him to work on repeating it, because it deosn’t get any cleaner.

Luke: How do your split your time between watching MLB and scouting college and/or players in the minors?
Klaw: I spend much more time watching prospects. MLB is fun but I’m not learning anything watching Harper or Trout hit.

Chris: Do you see Dodgers sending Joc Pederson down if he continues to struggle? What about Trace Thompson in CF?
Klaw: Yes, I’ve written a few times I think Thompson’s going to get a shot if Pederson doesn’t come out of the gate strongly – I think they acquired Thompson with the idea that Pederson might need to return to AAA.

Michael: I believe you have said you are against taking probiotics. My girlfriend raves about them and constantly encourages me to start taking them. However, they are expensive and I worry that it’s all in her head. Could you elaborate on your feelings?
Klaw: There’s no scientific evidence that they work or even stay in your system. If you want to improve the health of your gut, you need to eat better so that the population of flora can increase. And while I don’t take probiotics I do like fermented foods, such as yogurt (which I eat almost every day) or kimchi, and they’re definitely good for you.

Eric: Am i crazy for thinking Thor might be a legitimate Cy candidate this yr?
Klaw: I don’t think that’s crazy even if it’s a bit of a longshot. It’s not like he’s lacking anything you’d want to see in a CYA candidate.

Jesse: Mets had their wave of high end pitching prospects end last year. With Rosario, Smith ect. coming within the next 4 or 5 years do you forsee heavy pitching drafts the next 2/3 years for them. to creat a smiliar pitching prospect wave when those young hitters get to their primes?
Klaw: No, I think they’ll continue to draft best player available. Limiting yourself to just one thing – pitchers only, college players only, whatever – is a good way to have some really shitty drafts.

Danny: Have you heard of any interesting “developments” with minor league camps opening, i.e. X looks like he added velocity, or came back from the winter with a better curve?
Klaw: No, and to be honest, even if I had I’d probably say we need to see it in some games first anyway. Otherwise it’s just more “best shape of his life” nonsense.

Scott: Reports seem to be that Naquin’s glove is plenty good for him to be the Indians opening day CF. How ready is the bat?
Klaw: Probably not quite ready but close enough that I’d let him learn on the job. They’re much better off on defense with him.

Colin: What are your thoughts on the Kolten Wong extension?
Klaw: Seemed like a no-brainer for the Cards. I think he’s going to end up an average regular and if that happens it’s a screaming bargain for the club.

Jered Weaver’s Fastball: Sorry … this is taking a little longer than I thought … almost there
Klaw: Take your time. We’ve got another half hour at least.

james: Who would be your choice to play short for the Cardinals? How would project diaz bat? Do you think he can hit for avg?
Klaw: Not a huge Diaz fan – saw him in AFL, thought he was a utility guy. Don’t think there’s an average bat there, and when I saw him on defense I didn’t think he’d be an above-average defender (although bear in mind a lot of players are gassed by then and don’t look as good on defense as they might in June).

Ryan: What are the big differences between Jose Peraza and Albies? Thanks!
Klaw: Albies is definitely a shortstop; Peraza hasn’t played it in two-plus years. Albies is much stronger and will end up with more extra-base power. I think Albies’ approach is better. Peraza’s a better runner.

Thor: How do you compare the arms of Urias and De Leon? The new prospect fellow over at FanGraphs says De Leon actually has the higher ceiling with Urias having the higher floor. That was the first I’ve heard of that. Urias’ ceiling is an ace, so how good could De Leon be?
Klaw: That’s backwards – if you look at my top 100, you’ll see more on these players, but DeLeon is a low-ceiling, high-probability starter, a command/deception guy with a plus change but lacking an average breaking ball. Urias has three above-average to plus pitches, still growing, lacking DeLeon’s command right now. If they need a starter today, I’d take DeLeon, although I’d rather see both guys get more time in the minors, DeLeon to work on the breaking ball and on keeping the fastball down in the zone, Urias to work on consistency of delivery and command.

Michael-Chicago: Who do you like better Raisel Igleasis or Joe Ross?
Klaw: Ross. Big Joey Rozay fan.

Mike: Do you see Jonathan Schoop having a breakout season? I’m not sure about the walks, but I think his power really blossoms this year.
Klaw: I wish he walked more, although they did rush him to the majors. I’ve always loved the swing and power potential, and I think his defense would be excellent at second or third (occupied). I don’t know if he’ll be on my breakout column but he’s a strong consideration.

Randy: Is Bernie missing an opportunity by neglecting to mention Clinton’s arms sales as Secretary of State during recent debates?
Klaw: Do you think voters would care? I kind of don’t. It just doesn’t seem like an issue that will score any points. Secret email servers, though – that’s where it’s at.

Danny: Forgetting about his stats, do you think Judge’s changes to his approach (leg kick) has/will remedy his deficiencies in AAA?
Klaw: Dunno, seems a bit wishful thinking – I never thought it was mechanical, but more about decision-making, and recognizing locations a little earlier. He has to attack pitches inside and outside rather differently because his arms are so long. I do believe he can do it, but I’m not sure how a leg kick would change that.

Lindsay: Could you explain how you would identify a fundamental right? Are you in favor of some sort of an oligarchy to determine those things? I am pro same-sex marriage, but how do you determine that is a fundamental right and not the right to guns, the right to suicide, the right to vote, etc.?
Klaw: An oligarchy? You must be confusing me with Vladimir Putin. (I get that a lot.) We have many fundamental rights clearly delineated in the Constitution, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all of them – why do we all need the right to own a gun? – they’re there, and the process to change that document requires substantial majorities, not the decision of a chosen few. I’m good with that process.

Doc: You mentioned in a radio interview a few weeks ago that a top HS draft prospect who has had problems with marijuana. How is that likely to affect his standing on draft boards?
Klaw: If it doesn’t affect his performance on the field or behavior off of it (e.g., missing practices or something) this spring, then I’d say not at all. I personally do not care if a player smokes weed as long as he shows up for work and does what’s asked of him.

Jack: Is the best player in this draft, better than the best player in last years draft?
Klaw: Right now, I don’t think so.

Dave: If Amed Rosario actually plays “well” offensively this season as opposed to just “good for his age” how high do you think he can rise in the prospect rankings?
Klaw: I ranked him somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios because I anticipate a boost in his performance this year. He’s a potential top 20-25 guy if he blows up in AA this year. It’s explosive bat speed.

Jamie: Good for Fredi G to bench Mallex for trying another bunt? Is Mallex getting overrated because of his hot start?
Klaw: Yes, he’s getting way overrated. But there’s some value in his speed and contact.

Doc: How do you think the Phils should fill in for Altherr while he is out? Give Goeddel the AB’s?
Klaw: As good a solution as any. I don’t understand why people are acting like Altherr is a big loss. He was probably a below-average regular anyway.

Alex: If possible, can you briefly describe how we know WAR is a reliable stat? How do we trust the the formula really means Player A is worth 2 more wins than Player B?
Klaw: I think it’s directionally correct, but I don’t know if it has the precision that’s often imputed to it. If you want to answer that question, you should examine the components: the batting runs, the fielding, the baserunning, and satisfy yourself that those are at least directionally correct. I think the biggest problem with WAR is the R (replacement level, not Rakim Allah), which may not be the right baseline, and is not calculated the same way by everyone.

Pat: Have you played Dead of Winter?
Klaw: no, I have to live through that shit every year, why would i play it

Pat: If you were to write a book what would it be about?
Klaw: I am writing a book. It’s about baseball. More details to follow.

JWR: Youngest child is about to decide on a college. Would you rather have your child take on debt to go to an elite private school or would you prefer a flagship state college that might be less prestigious but much more affordable?
Klaw: I don’t think the ROI is typically there for the private schools. It does depend a bit on the student’s major and career plans – but those can change anyway. I think I got the ROI from my alma mater, but that’s because Harvard has an enormous alumni network and a good global brand. Lots of very good private schools don’t have those two things, so you’re getting a great education (as good as what I got) but not those fringe benefits. I certainly won’t push my daughter to go to a private school just because of prestige.

Wil: Anthony Alford, Derek Fischer, and Victor Robles all seem like similar prospects; who do you think actually achieve the most upside, despite the hype?
Klaw: Fisher’s not like the other two, who are both more electric and are better at translating their tools into performance. Alford’s still got untapped power; Robles could grow into power, but hasn’t developed it yet. Also, those guys can play center, while Fisher is still not that good in a corner despite 70 speed.

Isaac: Who are your top arms in the upcoming mlb draft?
Klaw: Not in any order. College: Hansen, Puk, Connor Jones, Jeffries, Tyler, Dunning, Sheffield. I’m forgetting 1-2 guys there. HS: Groome, Whitley, Pint, Velez, Anderson, Lawson, Manning, maybe Speas.

Scott: Tyler White going to get a legit shot at 1B in Hou? If no does he have any path to at bats short of a trade?
Klaw: Guy just hits everywhere he’s played. They’d be fools not to give him a shot, and they are not fools in Houston.

Scott: Is Andrew Lambo a candidate for successful reclamation project, or should I not get my hopes up?
Klaw: I’m not buying that one at all. He was never that good a prospect even when he was a prospect.

Robert: Do you like Michael Fulmer?
Klaw: Well I’ve never met the kid, but he seems like a pretty good pitcher.

Scott: I realize he was JUST drafted, but what are your early thoughts on Bickford’s potential? If I remember, you were a little underwhelmed by him? Didn’t mean to put words in your mouth if that wasn’t your opinion!
Klaw: Majority of scouts I talked to said “reliever,” and that’s even before you get into the medical questions – he has some kind of shoulder issue, and had a back problem before the draft. Big fastball, very inconsistent slider that would be plus one week and barely average the next, low slot, no real changeup. Healthy for two years since he didn’t sign with Toronto, though, and holds his stuff deep into games. I could see the argument that he’s got #2 starter upside, but I see more red flags too.

RSF: I saw a prospect analyst mention that Nick Plummer’s high-ish strikeout rate last year was partially due to the fact that he had a better since of the zone than most of the umps in the Gulf Coast League (i.e. he kept striking out looking at balls). Have you heard of anything like that before? And is that actually the case with Plummer?
Klaw: I’ve heard that before and it’s mostly BS. Plenty of prospects have good plate discipline. They don’t all struggle like he did. That doesn’t mean he’s a bust or anything, but I think the jump from a Michigan HS prep conference to the GCL was a huge one.

Jason: I personally believe that the discrepancies between the various WAR formula are a negative to most followers because the numbers can sometimes differ a substantial amount. Which WAR formula do you trust more?
Klaw: I look at both. If they disagree substantially, I’ll spend time on the components to understand why. If they’re close, I feel pretty confident using those values or their average as a good estimate of the player’s value. Again, I wouldn’t tell anyone to treat them as precise to the tenths digit.

Lindsay: But a right to SSM is clearly not in the Constitution. So leave it to the states. It’s as if you love the result so much that you ignore the process. You can be pro-SSM and take Scalia’s side in that case.
Klaw: Actually, the right to same sex marriage is in the 14th amendment, and you can’t leave it to the states because marriage is a part of so many federal laws, including the tax code and social security. Scalia’s argument was a copout to try to support his bigoted views.

Casey: What did you want SI to say? When has enough time passed that it doesn’t have to be mentioned?
Klaw: I wanted them to pick a player who wasn’t just accused of rape a few months ago.

Steve: Coppy had an interesting answer in a recent twitter Q&A about seeking a college bat with their 1st round pick. How is the crop of college bats this class?
Klaw: Terrible. I know that’s what they want, but if Corey Ray is gone – and in a lot of drafts he wouldn’t be a clear top 3 pick – then I don’t see a college bat worth that spot.

Drew: I saw dansby play twice at Buena vista last week. Am I crazy to compare him to jeter ? His hit tool was amazingly impressive. Not much to dislike about his game
Klaw: I’ve heard him compared to Jeter before. Don’t think Jeter swung and missed that much, but Swanson’s a better glove. I think dansby just has that look, though … if you’re not scouting, just watching, he has that star quality, so your eyes are always on him.

Matt: To chime in on JWR’s question, as someone who turned down a full scholarship from a state school to attend an expensive (non-Harvard) private university, I would agree that the ROI was not really there. I got a great education, sure, but I ultimately had to go into a lot of debt when I decided to go to grad school, and I’m not sure that the school I attended gave me much of a leg up in the job market or in getting into grad school over what the state school would’ve given me.
Klaw: Yep. This is the great college scam – grad schools too, in some cases – where they have everyone convinced that the ROI is automatically there, when it’s not for most schools.

Michael: Guys like Weaver and Sabathia presumably wouldn’t make their teams if they were 24 and making $500k. Is it fair to ask then, why don’t those teams just realize the sunk cost and release them?
Klaw: In Weaver’s case they might have to do that – how can you let him start if Carlos Perez could just catch Weaver’s fastball with his teeth?

Adam: Would you start Swanson in AAA and Albies in AA?
Klaw: No. Swanson in AA, Albies in high-A. SEC to AAA is a huge jump.

Matt: Ever seen Tetsuto Yamada or Yuki Yangita play (current NPB MVPs)? think either or both have the tools to be impact players in MLB if the ever came over?
Klaw: Don’t think I have, or at least not in too long to matter.

Ed: Hi Keith, Saw a Gooden comp for Cease’s curveball. Fair?
Klaw: No, not fair.

Andy: Patrick Kane’s Wikipedia page no longer mentions the Sexual Assault Investigation.
Klaw: Wikipedia is never wrong, you know.

Lindsay: Where in the 14th Amendment? Does equal protection apply to felons who want to vote? To people who want to marry their daughter?
Klaw: Ah yes, the incest argument, a favorite of SSM opponents (which I know you said you’re not). The government has a clear, compelling interest to prevent procreation by people that closely related due to the genetic consequences. This supersedes the 14A rights you’re claiming. As for felons voting … has this been tested? Perhaps such bans aren’t constitutional. I don’t know.

Jamie: So if Mike Trout gets accused of sexual assault with no charges and then has the triple crown locked up in September we should ignore him? I’m sure you’d do that.
Klaw: If the claim is like the one against Kane, then yes, we should cover him less, or, if we must cover him at all, in a way that doesn’t shame the victim or cast the allegations as a positive for the player. Your straw men are really tiring.

Jason: What is Eduardo Rodriguez ceiling?
Klaw: Number one starter.

Scrapper: Better pitcher over the next 3 years: Stroman or Gausman?
Klaw: Stroman.

John: Do you consider 4 seam/2 seam/Curve a 2 or 3 pitch mix? I’ve seen comments both ways on Tyler Duffy with one side arguing its not enough to succeed long term as a starter.
Klaw: I’d call that a two-pitch mix.

Jason: Do you tweet out when you are having a chat? I feel like every week you don’t I end up checking your blog like ten times
Klaw: Yes. This week I didn’t have time to set up the chat room in advance, though, because I was on the move. Family is out here in AZ with me.

Corey: Deven Marrero a good fit for STL ? Would the Sox move him and what would be a proper return if so ?
Klaw: Now that’s a move I’d like for them. One good pitching prospect in return.

Jeff: You like Corey Ray more than Buddy Reed?
Klaw: Oh God yes, not even close. I don’t think Reed will hit. Bad swing from both sides. Just looks real good in the uniform.

Jason: Where does Eddy Julio Martinez start out at?
Klaw: I’m guessing low-A, but I haven’t even asked any clubs stuff like this lately because I know they won’t make those decisions till the last week or so of March.

Rob: Putting aside pitchers, the “injury prone” label for certain batters seems a little lazy. There’s always going to be a sample size issue. Where are we at on this? Health is a skill? Or more complicated?
Klaw: Health is a “skill” in the sense that some players clearly have it more than others. I guess you can learn or improve a skill, whereas health may just be inborn.

Tom: Is an easy prediction for this year that Trout will be the best player in the AL again and finish second in the MVP voting because the Angels miss the playoffs and he doesn’t lead the league in RBI?
Klaw: Yep, Vegas won’t even take your action on that one.

Jason: Chances that Corey Seager’s career surpasses his brother Kyle?
Klaw: Better than even. I’ve always said Corey was the better brother. Kyle has peaked higher than I expected, but I’d be very surprised if Corey didn’t have several 6+ win seasons.

Scrapper: Will Kevin Maitan immediately be a top 10 prospect when he signs with a team?
Klaw: No, not at all. Getting way too far ahead of yourself on a player who’ll be just 16 when that happens.

Adam: Thoughts on Dakota Hudson at Miss State?
Klaw: I’ll refer you to Longenhagen’s last draft blog post on that one.

Craig: The Brewers’s competition for CF features more players than the cast of Too Many Cooks. Can Keon Broxton break through and be a good stopgap until Brett Phillips is ready?
Klaw: Michael Reed is better.

Lindsay: Thanks for taking my questions and answering them politely! We can agree to disagree, but I appreciate it.
Klaw: You’re welcome. I should probably qualify every answer with “i’m not a lawyer” but if you’re here you probably knew that. I’m just a guy with lots of opinions.

Mike: How good is Cal Quantril and Is there any chance he could fall to the Phillies at 2.1 this June ?
Klaw: If he does, it would probably be a Daz Cameron type deal where they’ve worked it out for him to fall. It’s not legal but I’m fine with it – the system basically forces teams to do it, and it means elite players get paid.

Sean: Is Jose Quintana the most underrated pitcher in majors?
Klaw: I don’t know how you’d measure that but yeah, he’s very underrated.

J: Hey Harvard nerd, Rich Gossage says you don’t know shitt
Klaw: Best part is how many “nerds” pushed to get his Luddite ass into the Hall of Fame.

Will in Vero: Tanner Roark — ready to be a solid starter again?
Klaw: I say yes.

John: With you’re earlier answer on pitch mix, you would agree with Tyler Duffy not succeeding long term as a starter? I assume with his curve his floor is above average bullpen arm?
Klaw: What he did in 2015 was way above any expectations I had for him, and also well above what he did in the minors, so yes, I’m expecting regression … or for him to make my annual “guys I was wrong about” list in September.

Klaw: That’s all for this week’s chat – I need to get lunch and head to a ballpark! I’ll definitely chat again next week between my spring trips.

San Francisco and Los Angeles eats.

The San Francisco pizzeria del Popolo is run by Jon Darsky, who worked for a little while in player development and scouting for Cleveland and another MLB org … I forgot which one because we need to talk about how good the food was. The pizza was outstanding, both the dough – thin, not quite Neapolitan thin but close to it, with just the right bit of chew too it – and the homemade sausage that they use as a topping. The menu is simple, with about a half-dozen starters and a half-dozen or so pizza options, nothing more, which is more than enough when the pizza is this good. Jon, whom I didn’t know before that visit, sent out their Brussels sprouts starter, charred but still firm and bright green, with salva cremasco, shaved turnips, and hazelnuts; as well as the ridiculously luscious coconut-lime sorbet, since I was with Ian Miller (the bassist for Puig Destroyer and Kowloon Walled City), who is vegan. Del Popolo was on that Food & Wine pizzeria list I’ve mentioned several times and have been slowly eating my way through, and it’s one of the best I’ve hit.

Also on that list is the very highly-regarded flour + water in the Mission district, although I get the sense their pastas are better than their pizzas. I went with the margherita, feeling a bit uninspired by the other options, and what I got was just sort of average – the tomato sauce was pureed too evenly, the crust didn’t have much char or good chew, and the whole thing was a little bland. It’s a good pizza relative to most, but compared to the other places on that F&W list – Bianco, Keste, even Roberta’s which somehow missed that list – it’s just okay. The salad I got, however, was outstanding: curly endive with Meyer lemon vinaigrette, artichokes, cardoons, taggiasca olives, & fried capers. It was a big reminder that California produce is often the best produce of all.

I was famished when I got into San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon after appearing on a panel at the Stanford GSB sports analytics conference, so I went to Cotogna for a big meal rather than trying to eat light and hold on for dinner. Cotogna is fairly new and I found it on that Eater list of the 38 “most essential” (whatever) restaurants in the U.S. for 2016, a list I’ll mention a few times in this post. Cotogna does “rustic” Italian cuisine, but it’s not peasant food by any stretch – the restaurant includes a giant cast-iron, wood-fired hearth for spit-roasting meats, and a pizza oven where I presume they’re also baking their ridiculous focaccia ($4 for a giant strip of it). Their broccoli starter, which is so new it’s not on their online menu, was an out-of-this-world homage to my favorite brassica: the florets are cooked two ways and are tossed with neonata (a southern Italian condiment of small fish preserved in vinegar with garlic and chilis), then are served on a layer of bright green broccoli and parsley puree, seasoned with espelette, and topped with shaved bottarga and fried kale leaves. The chef de cuisine, Chris Marcino, was kind enough to explain the dish to me – also, he’s a Phillies fan – and said they pan-fry some of the florets and broccoli leaves, and then cook other florets and small stems in a cast-iron skillet in their pizza oven to get some caramelization. It’s ornate, but it’s like a monument to broccoli.

For the main course, I went with what I think is Cotogna’s signature pasta dish, agnolotti del plin, a classic Piemontese dish of small pockets of pasta around a filling of mixed pork, veal, and often turkey or chicken. Cotogna roasts the meats before grinding them into the filling for the paper-thing pasta, and then uses the juices from the meats to make the sauce (sugo d’arrosto, the “sauce of the roasting”) for the dish. The dish probably originated as a way to use meat scraps that weren’t enough for a full meal, but this is a plate I’d fly across the country to eat. I’m not treating Eater’s list as gospel, but they absolutely nailed it on Cotogna.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the coffee I had in San Francisco, where you can’t swing a cat around by its tail without hitting three hipsters discussing their favorite artisan roaster. I finally got to a Four Barrel location, even though I’ve been drinking their coffee on and off for years – it’s served at Giant Coffee in Phoenix, and I’ve bought beans from them online. It’s … well, it’s great coffee, really. I happen to really like their Friendo Blendo espresso mix, which varies seasonally but is usually half an East African bean (Ethiopian this time) and half a Central American (Guatemalan). I also stopped by a Sightglass shop for a cup of their Ethiopian coffee, which I found a little underwhelming just because I expected more brightness and fruit. I liked the fact that their space, right down the street from flour + water, is so bright.

Moving south to the LA area, I chased Guerrilla Tacos (also on that Eater 38 list) for two days before I finally caught them for a lunch that was absolutely worth the effort. The truck typically parks in front of some local coffee shops – Cognoscenti and Blacktop appear to be the current favorites, although they’ve been near a Blue Bottle location befroe – and are only open 10-2 on days they’re out. The menu changes daily, with four taco options and an agua fresca each day. The day I went the menu featured a breakfast taco with scrambled eggs, pancetta, pinto beans, and queso fresco; an ahi poke tostada with uni and scallions; and a sweet potato taco with feta, scallions, and almonds. The breakfast taco was my favorite of the three, in no small part because the flour tortilla was so good (made with lard, perhaps?), and the sweet potato taco was also superb, even though I’d never have thought to put feta with sweet potatoes. The eggs really benefited from the salt and spice in the pancetta and beans; I do love eggs in most forms but plain scrambled eggs are a little too boring. The tuna poke was more like sashimi and should have been sliced more thinly so it was easier to eat, although the quality of the fish itself was obviously very high.

Blacktop Coffee sometimes uses beans from Sightglass, but the day I was there they were using some local private roaster; their menu couldn’t be simpler as you order your espresso “black” for $3 or “white” (whatever milk-based drink you want) for $4. The coffee was good, well-balanced with good body, but should have been a little hotter. They also have a toast program, because of course they do.

I mentioned on Twitter that I had a serendipitous encounter at ink., the main restaurant of Top Chef Season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio; I was sitting at the chef’s counter when Voltaggio came out to speak to the diner next to me, which turned out to be season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga, whose namesake Philly restaurant I visited (and loved) in January. Anyway, I’ve been dying to get to ink. for a few years now, and just barely sneaked it in this trip – I was so tired I didn’t want to make the nearly hourlong drive from my hotel, but I figured I’d regret not going. I had four dishes, and three were just out of sight, stuff I couldn’t make at home and that was unlike most restaurant dishes I’ve had elsewhere. Their twist on cacio e pepe involved paper-thin vermicelli made of celery root, served over shima aji (striped jack or cocinero) sashimi with a truffle coulis, taking an Italian concept and making it over as a Japanese dish, pasta without pasta, lighter than a wheat-centric dish but more satisfying than raw fish would be by itself. Their octopus with “ink. shells” (a play on words, since the pasta is made with ink), shaved fennel, and paprika was a little more traditional but still exceptional because the octopus itself was well-cooked, meaty just up to the edge of toughness without crossing over, as masticably satisfying as red meat but lighter and almost sweet thanks to the browning on the exterior. And the dessert … the deconstructed apple pie dessert, with crumbled shortbread, apple gelee, apples, and “burnt wood” semifreddo (it had a slightly smoky flavor but if you hadn’t told me I would have said it was fior di latte) was just unreal. If you got everything in one bite, it was apple pie a la mode, but with new textures and a brighter flavor. I had one dish I didn’t care for; the radishes with togarashi-miso butter were not at all what I expected, just plain, whole radishes, served with shiso leaves to wrap them and dip them in the butter. We grow radishes in the backyard every year, so this was nothing I couldn’t do at home; I expected some kind of preparation of the radishes, at least, but the server noticed I didn’t eat much of the dish and took it off the bill without a word from me. I also had one of their house cocktails, a rye drink with cardamaro bitters, burnt orange, maple, and toasted pecan bitters that gave the whole drink the aroma of brown butter. I could drink this every night very happily.

I tried another spot on that Eater list, the Thai restaurant Night + Market Song, and was … confused, I guess. I don’t know authentic Thai food that well; I know Americanized Thai, and I think I know when something is more or less Americanized, but this menu mostly comprised foods that were new to me (not a bad thing), and somehow I ended up ordering a lot of meat. The “boxing chicken” is gai yang, a street food authentic to Bangkok that is coated in a wet rub of cilantro, sugar, garlic, pepper, and fish sauce, and then grilled until the skin is crispy. Night + Market Song’s version is all thigh meat, which is the best part of the bird anyway, and comes with papaya salad (medium or hot; medium was plenty hot for me) and sticky rice, which was served in plastic wrap and came out in a slab. You’re supposed to use your hands (fine) to roll pieces into a ball, but this slab was so tough I couldn’t make that happen. I also thought the knife work on the papaya salad was really rough – some vegetables weren’t even cut through. The pork toro, grilled fatty pig neck served with a chile-soy dip, was a good starter, salty like bacon but chewier like jowl meat, although it merely added to the sense that I was just eating way too much meat.

Jon & Vinny’s is an Italian restaurant and pizzeria, located across from their famous meatery Animal, in Fairfax, with a focus on southern Italian fare and a lot of dishes that showcase great produce. I went with a friend of mine who lives in the area, and he ordered the LA Woman pizza, essentially a margherita with burrata in lieu of the mozzarella, with a dough I’d put in between those of del Popolo and flour + water for overall taste and texture. It was the other stuff that set J&V’s apart, though: their meatballs are huge yet evenly cooked, rich but not too dense, served with enormous slabs of garlic bread in a garlicky tomato sauce with a pile of ricotta on the side of the plate. That could easily be a meal on its own, but we kept going. The salad of shaved zucchini with arugula, fennel, hazelnuts, meyer lemon vinaigrette, and a blizzard of shaved pecorino pepato, a sheep’s milk cheese with peppercorns in it, was a big pile of spring – very bright flavors, vibrant green colors, tangy and sharp with a hint of sweetness from the fennel and the nuts. The bruschetta was really about the bread; the tomatoes were certainly good, but the bread was a sponge of olive oil by the time I arrived and I was debating whether to eat it or exfoliate my face with it. (I ate it.) The fried scallions were amazing and stayed crunchy even as they cooled because of the cornmeal coating, although we overordered and didn’t expect the giant pile that arrived at the table. For dessert, because we are pigs, I got the Italian flag (rainbow) cookies, which were sublime thanks to the dark chocolate on top, although I didn’t get any real almond flavor from the sponge cake layers, while Jay got the cream-filled donut which was a tad better than your local Krispy Kreme’s version.

I also want to give props to Jason Kang over at Seoulmate, right next to Blair Field in Long Beach with a new location out in Fullerton; this wasn’t my first meal there but I don’t go to Long Beach without eating there. Seoulmate is fast-casual Korean food, both traditional dishes like bulgogi (Jason’s mentioned some of the recipes are based on family versions) and Korean tacos and burritos. Everything is top-notch, but it’s the preparation of the meats that separates Seoulmate from other Asian taco places I’ve hit; I had the pork bulgogi this time, pork belly heavily marinated in a spicy soy and ginger mixture that starts to inundate the rice underneath, served with kimchi (also spicy) and a small salad. I’ve also had the tacos, the beef bulgogi, and the bibimbap on previous visits, and can vouch that they’re all excellent, with the two bulgogis my favorites. Jason’s a reader, but I promise I wouldn’t recommend his place if I didn’t genuinely like the food.

Downton Abbey, season six.

I have a new draft blog post for Insiders on several LA-area high school prospects, and I appeared on Tor.com’s Rocket Talk podcast, talking about my interest in science fiction.

Two important things to know about my feelings on Downton Abbey’s sixth and final season:

* The season as a whole was a bit of a sapfest, a victory lap for the series that gave just about every character a happy ending of one sort or another; and

* I thought the final two episodes were two of their best, even with the surfeit of sentiment, and smiled through just about all of the last episode.

After the negative reactions to the deaths of two major characters in season three – both tied to the actors’ decisions to leave the series rather than sign new contracts – it was obvious we weren’t going to see any great tragedies in this sixth season, and if you were still uncertain about that, the quick resolution of a potential scandal for Lady Mary in the first episode should have made it plain. No one of consequence was going to get any lasting trouble, and creator Julian Fellowes – who, to borrow a phrase from the finale, had written himself into a corner – wasn’t going to incur the wratch of the masses by, say, screwing with Lady Edith’s happy ending.

That said, he didn’t have to go quite as far as he did in making everybody feel good about the conclusion of the series. Lady Edith didn’t just get a happy marriage; she got rich, and married into a title and a palatial estate. Fellowes at least upped the drama around this story in the last few episodes, but did you doubt for a second how it was going to end? It seemed as if he was determined to pair off every character he could, even if the couples were just implied in the last few scenes of the series, and it got a bit ridiculous; this isn’t Jane Austen’s England where you married whoever was close at hand.

Even the development of Thomas Barrow’s character over the last two seasons of the show, which was the most interesting facet of the show as it became increasingly focused on getting everyone married and settled, was a mixed blessing. The six seasons saw characters age and change directions, but few if any were truly different people by the end of season six from what they were in season one; Barrow did in dramatic ways, both discovering things about himself (including a tacit acceptance of who he is after self-loathing nearly killed him twice) and revealing unexpected aspects to his character. He’s still got the hint of spite in him, as when he tries to spoil Gwen’s return for her, but this time around there’s a sense of remorse, and the sadness that drives his behavior too. Jim Carter, who portrayed Carson, earned four Emmy nominations for his performance, but I’d argue Robert James-Collier, who played Barrow, had the more difficult task and was the more compelling character.

(By the way, I only just discovered that Carter played Déjà Vu in Top Secret, which was my favorite movie when I was a kid. I had a vague, unsettling feeling I’d seen him somewhere before.)

But the softening of Barrow meant that the downstairs portion of the show lost its main antagonist, and even Barrow’s former adversaries became increasingly invested in helping him over the course of the sixth season. Fellowes seems to have tried to replace Thomas’ (and, previously, O’Brien’s) bit of villainy with Denker’s shenanigans over at Lady Violet’s house, but that was pure slapstick in comparison. And, as the show’s only gay character, Barrow ended up without a romantic aspect to his character except as a plot point, as with his attempts to forge a platonic friendship with Andy or his pursuit of a quack therapy to “cure” his homosexuality.

The best aspect of the sixth season itself was the return of Lady Mary’s vicious side; she was always the show’s most central character, and her complexity and her desire to be an independent woman in an era that did not reward or even tolerate such thinking gave the show the sort of difficult protagonist it needed to avoid becoming total fluff. She had that love-to-hate quality that makes a great character, but season six gave us a little more insight into her personality, thanks to some help from Lady Violet, who was increasingly reduced to quip machine this last season (although Maggie Smith can still deliver a barb with the best of them). I had some hope Fellowes would leave her unmarried as the series ended, because she’d spent so much time insisting and acting as if she didn’t need a husband – and she didn’t, not in practical terms – so watching her turn into a big mush in the Christmas special was a bit of a disappointment, although we did get one last glimpse of her strength of character when she turned all business (instead of going to pieces as you might expect a badly written female character of the era to do) when Anna’s water broke.

Fellowes wrote himself into this spot because he made us like so many of the characters, even the flawed ones, over the previous six seasons, and because he created a house where everyone, upstairs and down, was part of an extended family of sorts. The relationship between Lord Grantham and the servants was probably highly unusual, if not outright unrealistic, for the time, and the camaraderie among the servants wasn’t balanced enough by the sort of petty squabbles and jealousies that arise in any group of people living and working in such close quarters. But you’d be a cold viewer to root for an unhappy ending for Daisy or Moseley or Lady Edith – those last two in particular were so downtrodden before season six that it was cathartic to see them finally fall into something good. That makes for a satisfying ending for the viewer, but the show never quite recaptured the dramatic spell Fellowes managed to cast in seasons one and two.

Other stray thoughts:

* It’s emblematic of the victory-lap nature of the season that three older male characters this season ran into what appeared to be serious health problems, but none of those turned out to matter much in the end. Lord Grantham and Lord Merton are fine, and Carson’s “palsy” was a mere plot contrivance that won’t prevent him from living happily ever after. (The man just faced the loss of his main purpose in life, but he was just sort of waved off screen.)

* Carson’s palsy may have been essential tremor, which I only bring up because Fellowes has the condition and is the honorary president of England’s National Tremor Foundation. The disorder is hereditary, and is eight times more common than Parkinson’s, so the few details we did get on Carson seem to fit.

* I knew Lord Merton wasn’t going to buy it, but I fully expected his pernicious anemia to be cured by the treatment that, at the time of the show’s setting (1925), had only recently been discovered by the American scientist George Whipple and was just about to become widespread. Fellowes would have been bending the timeline slightly, but having Lord Merton’s condition cured in the nick of time by a new discovery would have been both more realistic than the misdiagnosis resolution and a nice hat-tip to science.

* Amelia Grey, Lord Merton’s witchy daughter-in-law, had so much potential as a new troublemaking antagonist had the series continued, but instead she was left a one-note gold-digger in a subplot that was left uncooked the whole season.

* What exactly do all these boys see in Daisy? Aside from the fact that she looks about 14, as Mrs. Patmore said in the finale, she’s only nice to the ones who aren’t interested. Also, the subplot about Daisy standing up for Mr. Mason was a big waste of time; once it was resolved, in typically fairy-tale fashion, it was as if her outbursts to her employers had never occurred.

* Lady Rose returns, but left her newborn at home in America because … her nanny wouldn’t allow her to bring the child? I’m not surprised her milquetoast husband allowed this, but when did Rose allow people to start pushing her around?

* When all the servants were giggling and rushing upstairs, I assumed they were going to see Anna and the baby, not to say goodbye to Edith and Bertie.

* I was at least glad to see that Carson was still Carson, imperious as ever, still blissfully unaware of how the others view his shipshape-and-Bristol-fashion sensibility. That doesn’t make him the bad guy, but at least one character escaped the finale’s sugarcoating.

* Lady Violet had to have the last line of the series, and she did, ending it on a bit of a bittersweet note with her response’s to Isobel’s comment that we are moving forward toward the future rather than back into the past, saying, “as if we had a choice.” Perhaps Fellowes was giving us one small sign that he knew that the best moments were already behind us, and he was just putting a bow on what, despite its flaws, remains one of the most successful dramatic series in TV history.

Top Chef, S13E13.

We start with Isaac just heaping praise on Kwame as a super-talented, very promising chef. Again, Isaac is just the freaking best. Maybe he could do video blogs next season.

* Quickfire: Traci des Jardins, who always looks pained even when she’s smiling, is the guest. The challenge is to make artisanal toast. Artisanal toast is very San Francisco, in that it’s pretty good, wildly overpriced, and borderline annoying about itself. Also, Italians have been doing this forever and calling it bruschetta (among other names), so shut the fuck up already about your “toast program.”

* Oh, joy, a sudden death quickfire – the bottom two chefs are up for elimination and will face each other, with the loser going home. Let’s definitely eliminate one of the best chefs of the season because of something my daughter eats for breakfast before school.

* Marjorie is making hers the way I make lots of “toast” dishes – rubbing olive oil with her fingers on sliced country bread. This is the ideal way to make grilled or broiled toast to as part of fett’unta con fagioli, which is the Italian version of beans on toast, usually white beans cooked with rosemary and garlic. It’s highly flavorful and very filling even as a main course, although it’s traditionally a starter.

* The dishes – er, the toasts: Jeremy did chicken liver mousse, pickled cherries, white raspberries, jalapeño, and arugula on ciabatta … Marjorie used a sourdough baguette and made dungeness crab salad with a pancetta fennel marmalade … Amar made a duck breast with foie gras, fig marmalde, crispy prosciutto, and a balsamic and truffle reduction on sourdough … Carl did grilled sourdough with burrata, blistered cherry tomatoes, and shrimp … Isaac made a butter-fried ciabbata, percorino, prosciutto, red pepper spread like romesco.

* Winner is Jeremy, and he gets a Rational oven as a prize. Carl and Amar have to face off; Amar’s was “heavy-handed,” while Carl ended up on the bottom because he put fish and cheese together – and I agree that those things do not go together, ever. In Italian Catholicism, it’s taught that you’ll go to hell for that.

* For the elimination, Tom is there as a third judge – as he should be – and the two chefs have 30 minutes to cook anything they want.

* Amar says, “I do not wanna make a crudo, I came here to cook!” I respect this. Crudo – the Italian word just means “raw,” although now it primarily refers to raw fish – has become such a Top Chef crutch that it’s gotten ridiculous, but as some of you have pointed out, it’s become a crutch because the judges keep rewarding it.

* Just from how he speaks, I think Amar snores.

* Amar did a pan-roasted sea bream, watermelon radish cooked in dashi, pickled mushrooms, plums, and brown butter. Carl made a salad of raw thai snapper, corn, nectarines, and chiles. Padma sneers, “Another crudo, huh?” but then votes for him. Tom votes for Amar, but Amar is eliminated when Traci votes for Carl.

* Elimination challenge: Hubert Keller cooks dinner for the final four. He hosted the first ever quickfire – and did anyone else notice how young Gail looked in that clip? Or Harold, who ended up winning the season, getting the boot? The actual challenge is to make a tribute dish to Fleur de Lys, Keller’s just-closed restaurant in SF. Keller cooks them an Alsatian stew called a bacheofe, with pork, lamb, and beef marinated overnight, with a rope of dough used to seal the lid to the pot.

* Carl wants to make a torchon of foie gras, a process that requires three days, when he only has three hours. The foie gras must be dry-cured or marinated so that it doesn’t have the texture of putty, and the fat used has to be melted and then given time to set up. Marjorie points out the folly of this idea.

* Tom can’t get over the risks Isaac and Carl are taking, making dishes that should require much more time than the chefs have for prep and cooking.

* Where do these chefs get the foie they always seem to use on the show? I don’t think Whole Foods sells it but we never see them buying it anywhere else.

* Isaac serves first. He made a duck ballotine (a type of terrine) with chicken liver forcemeat, lentils with porcini, figs, cherry and aged balsamic gastrique. Padma says, “That’ll be all,” as if he should return to the servants’ quarters.

* The flavors in Isaac’s were good, but the dish needed more sauce. He also cooked it too fast at too high a temperature, so the duck meat was overcooked and the skin wasn’t crispy. We’re off to a roaring start.

* Marjorie made roasted lamb saddle with artichoke puree, artichoke barigoules (braised in a wine/water broth), squash, tomatoes, and niçoise olives. She cooked the lamb boneless, and Tom seems very unimpressed by this decision.

* Keller said she nailed the flavors of Provençal cuisine. But the artichokes were underseasoned and the lamb was improperly cooked, so it sounds like her dish wasn’t really any better than Isaac’s.

* Jeremy made branzino (filet de loup) with potato puree, heirloom tomato, vin blanc, and pommes souffles. This was the only dish of the four that the judges actually seemed to like. He also shaved truffle over the potatoes, because of course he did. The dish tasted good and was technically strong.

* Carl’s foie gras torchon en gelée with black pepper, strawberries, and fines herbes. He confited the foie first, then wrapped it as a torchon. It … did not work.

* Keller says Carl set himself up to fail. Harold says it’s not doable in three hours. The center was almost raw, which makes it pretty clear where we’re going from here.

* Keller and Tom both think the chefs all tried too hard to impress because it was the last-ever meal to be served at the site of Fleur de Lys. I doubt the setting was what intimidated them so much as the part about not getting eliminated from the show.

* Judges’ table: The winner was Jeremy, of course. No one else made anything even edible, if we read between the lines of the judges’ comments.

* The other three chefs all have to wear it in front of the judges. Gail’s comment afterwards, that she’d rather eat overcooked duck than undercooked foie gras, seems like the tell on the elimination – and I have to agree, especially since I don’t care for any meat cooked only to rare. Raw liver sounds all kinds of disgusting.

* Padma does that cruel thing where she says someone’s name – Marjorie – and then announces that that chef is going to the finals, not going home. I would always assume this was at the producers’ direction, but maybe Padma just enjoys putting the chefs through a little emotional torture.

* Carl is eliminated. It’s kind of a shocker to have him and Kwame get bounced before the finals.

* LCK: First, the three chefs have to make one sourdough dish in 30 minutes. Carl makes apple and tomatillo gazpacho with shrimp, only using the ready-made bread; Amar makes beef wellington, starting with the raw bread dough, enough to impress Tom given the time constraints; Jason makes smoked salmon bruschetta with lots of stuff on top, which leads Tom to criticize the lack of seasoning on the turnips and radishes. Tom keeps praising Amar for a “ballsy move” in trying to make something so complex in a half hour. His favorite was Carl’s; second was Amar, so Jason’s big winning streak comes to naught. His eggs were a little overdone, apparently.

* Second, Tom implies it’s a raw challenge. Carl has a good line, saying his foie gras was “sort of a crudo.” The chefs have 12 minutes to prepare a fish dish, starting from a whole fish. Amar grabs the loup de mer because he’s familiar with it, while Carl grabs the snapper because it looks the freshest. Amar decides to make an onion soubise – like a béchamel with onion purée – to which Tom says “good luck with that!” I thought that took about half an hour to make sure you don’t brown the onions. Amar made a crispy loup de mer with onion soubise and yuzu caper brown butter. Carl made grilled red snapper with apricot and ginger marmalade. The real message here is that when the chefs have only 12 minutes to cook but all manner of ingredients, they make dishes you’d eat – food that sounds great, but that you might make at home or order at a restaurant that isn’t $100 a head.

* Rankings: Marjorie, Carl, Isaac, Amar, Jeremy. Obviously one of Carl/Amar won’t be there, but regardless of who comes out of LCK, I think this should be Marjorie’s to lose.

Stick to baseball, 3/5/16.

My one Insider piece this week covered the Ian Desmond deal with Texas. I also held my regular Klawchat.

I have two pieces up on Paste this week too: my review of the cool, quick-playing deckbuilder Xenon Profiteer, plus a recap of games I saw at Toyfair. The price has varied a bit, but Xenon Profiteer is $26.49 right now on amazon.

And now, the links…

Klawchat 3/4/16.

Klaw: If they’re out of hand, I’m a give ’em handles. Klawchat.

Tim: What’s your opinion of Andy Green?
Klaw: I really know nothing of him as a tactical manager, but I like that the Padres actually considered managerial experience in the minors as if it has value (it absolutely does, in my opinion), and I have heard great things about his work with young players. I’m cautiously optimistic.

Stevie: Does Tom Murphy start at C for Col in ’16?
Klaw: If healthy? Might be a bit of a leap now, but possible later in the season.

Brian: The Braves seem to have a decent number of minor leaguers that should be able to hit, but there aren’t many with big power projection. Do you view this as a problem?
Klaw: I don’t know that I think that’s true – Davidson certainly projects for power – and power is a relatively scarce commodity. But I think this qualifies as looking for something to worry about: they have lots of pitching and players up the middle, so if they do have to trade for a power bat at a corner at some point they should have the pieces to do so.

Daniel: Back on the old ESPN chat days, you characterized and had concerns about Manaea being “all deception” in regards to his stuff and potential output. Have things changed given your current ranking of him?
Klaw: I don’t think that’s an accurate summary of my views on him at any point. It’s not like he was throwing 85 and getting guys out. He wasn’t throwing 96 like he did on the Cape, but I’ve seen him multiple times as a pro and he’s generally been at least 88-93, more often 90-94, with an above-average slider. Deception is why he puts up huge K rates despite stuff that’s more grade 55-60 than grade 65-70.

chris: what games did you go to yesterday
Klaw: I saw Nolan Martinez, Chris Murphy, and Nick Lodolo. I’m going to see Mickey Moniak today and probably Reggie Lawson tomorrow. The weather is screwing up my trip – I would have had the chance to see Lawson and Kevin Gowdy, but their games are now at the same time.

Jacob: Do you think the Braves should be encouraged by the standout performances (and surprising power)of Mallex Smith and Ozhaino Albies and does it bode well for their seasons?
Klaw: No, I think spring training stats are totally meaningless and trying to draw any conclusions from three days of games would only qualify you to participate in last night’s GOP debate.

John Uskglass: How confident are you in J. Profar still being an above average player?
Klaw: One hundred percent. If he’s healthy, he’ll be above average.

Andrew: What are your thoughts on Chris Lee’s progression since coming over to the O’s system from Houston? Could Baltimore actually be successfully developing talent for once?
Klaw: You’ll have to be more specific; I saw Lee’s last start of 2015 and saw more or less what he’s been before.

Matt: Is Ahmed Rosario more than just a glove?
Klaw: Yes. Someone asked Jonathan Mayo that same question on Twitter and I was dumbfounded. That’s a bad fake-scouting report going around if people think that’s what he is.

Philip: Padres supposedly have secret deals with Jorge Ona and Adrian Morejon I know you answered a question few weeks ago on Morejon and seem high on him. What about Ona?
Klaw: I’ve heard better on Morejon, but still good things on Ona. Still haven’t seen either. Once they’re locked up in deals, they turn into phantasms.

BD: Mike Shawaryn a worthy late first rounder?
Klaw: Will see him in April but area guys were telling me more like second round coming into the spring.

Mike P.: Who will be more known at the end of the season in Milwaukee: Hank or Arcia?
Klaw: I have no idea how this Hank story became a thing. Maybe Michigan’s Gov. Snyder should concoct a fake-dog story because it certainly seemed to generate more reader interest than poisoning kids in Flint has.

G: Do you listen to much Hip Hop? Any opinion on Kanye’s “The Life of Pablo” or Kendrick’s new release?
Klaw: Oh, I like hip hop, but please don’t lump Kanye into that genre. I thought untitled unmastered was much more interesting and streamlined than TPAB, and while he could have used some editing (track 7 anyone?), there are some real highlights that brought me back to the brief peak of jazz-rap, particularly track 8 and track 3.

Cole: Where does Alex Bregman fit with the Astros? Wouldn’t think he is the guy defensively to make Correa move to third and Jose Altuve i still at second. Is his arm strong enough for third base? Is a move to the outfield inevitable?
Klaw: It’s a 50 arm if you like it, 45 if you don’t. Second base is his ideal position. I wonder if the Astros figured he was the best player available at 2 in their minds, so if there isn’t an opportunity (with Altuve signed through 2019 including options, there probably isn’t one), Bregman would be the centerpiece in any trade for a big leaguer in July.

Andrew: You’ve mentioned the Rockies shortened Gray’s delivery. I seem to remember something similar being said about their handling of Matzek coming up. Is this a common practice in their development process and potentially problematic a la the Orioles?
Klaw: They really altered Matzek’s delivery, but aside from those two guys i’m not sure what other examples we have there. Often it’s these kids going to coaches in their offseasons, like Taijuan Walker and Aaron Sanchez apparently did, rather than getting it from coaches.

Zach: Promise it’s not driven by a hot spring start. How good is Mazara’s hit tool?
Klaw: Now, probably a 40 or 45. Future, jeez, if you wanted to push me to say 60 I wouldn’t argue too hard. He’s always had an approach well beyond his age.

Jonny B: I always get overexcited about spring training performances, despite understanding that it is foolish to do so. However, I am curious if you think there is anything about spring training that might be predictive or informative (particularly relating to prospects)?
Klaw: If a kid shows up looking different physically or mechanically, that might mean something significant. I heard secondhand that David Rollins was throwing harder with a better slider than before – now that’s a guy I would want to watch. But you can take the spring training stats sheet into the bathroom with you in case the stall is out of toilet paper.

Craig: You mentioned that you find minor league experience very useful for evaluating possible MLB managers? Because a minor league manager’s job is primarily about developing talent (a team would be thrilled with a manager who routinely finished last in his league, but consistently developed players), what traits/experiences from the minors are useful? I’m genuinely curious.
Klaw: I disagree that that’s all there is to a minor league manager’s job. No team would be thrilled with a manager who routinely finished last, because the affiliate (if it’s not owned by the MLB team) would be seriously pissed off and would seek a new affiliation – and no MLB team wants to end up in High Desert. The actual experience of running a club, handling tactical situations in-game, and balancing developmental needs with trying to win is valuable and can’t be replicated through any means other than experience.

Thomas I. Shollar: Yo Bro, trying to up my home brew game….not a home espresso drinker more of a pour over homie…Baratza Encore get it done for a grinder or is that still JV?
Klaw: I think it would. I own their Virtuoso but it’s because I needed a consistent, finer grind for espresso.

Jay: Your comment on Mac Wiliamson’s bat speed being a tad slow…is that based on what you saw pre or post surgery?
Klaw: Post. Saw him in AFL.

Bartolo4ever: I read your review of Spotlight. Just out of curiosity, which was the scene that “rang a little false” for you?
Klaw: Ruffalo’s character blowing up at Keaton. Not sure if it actually happened or not, but it seemed very made-for-commercial.

Andrew: Re: Chris Lee–> when in Houston never made it past A ball, fb sat at 89 and command shaky. Since coming to baltimore got to AA, fb 93-96, stronger and seems to have better command this spring
Klaw: He’s not 93-96 as a starter. Might do that in relief – I heard he did in instructs in short stints – but that’s not really a change when you take a guy from starting to relief and see his velocity increase.

Greg T.: Is Daulton Jefferies a first rounder?
Klaw: Yes. Although I’m not totally sure he’s there on merit.

Ed: If you’re the cubs, do you approach this draft differently? Like, would you utilize your available scouting resources to spend more time scouting the lower ranked or diamond in the rough types? Or do you approach it same as always?
Klaw: Well they have so little money to spend relative to other teams that I’d probably avoid many of the HS kids who are expected to go first round and wouldn’t be signable for less than first-round money. Can still find value later in the draft; perhaps there’s a way to scout those guys more efficiently when you’re not spending resources scouting Corey Ray or Jason Groome.

Dusty: Do you see any scenario where Desmond plays SS for the Rangers?
Klaw: If Andrus gets hurt or hits even worse than he did in 2015, don’t they have to try it?

Jake: Any industry rumors around who the Phillies will take at number 1?
Klaw: No. And if there were, they’d be bogus. It’s three months from the draft and there’s no Bryce Harper type to make this an easy question.

Kyle: I always admire your stances on twitter and speaking up on things like Baylor and Tennessee. In light of that, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the Erin Andrews news and how you feel to be working for the same company that would make her live through that on TV
Klaw: I was not happy to see that at all, and I won’t say a word to defend ESPN’s actions, but I also have no idea who those executives might have been or if they’re still with the company. I can only hope that if they are still around that they are being made to answer for their actions. Erin deserved so much better.

Andrew: Pick one: Pandemic or Catan
Klaw: Pandemic.

Chris P: Are you looking to make any spring games, or is it all HS/college at this point?
Klaw: I have gone to spring training every year since joining ESPN. This year is no different.

Mike: If once of the Cardinals current starting five went down tomorrow, would you put Reyes on the 40 Man?
Klaw: I would have done it anyway just to make it clear that I think suspensions for weed are stupid. I have real optimism that the union is going to try to get that eliminated in the next CBA. I’m in California now and I could probably be legally high right now (I’m not, just to make that clear). There’s no justification for MLB being this far behind the times.

Anonymous: Do you think the Pirates treatment of Gerrit Cole is an example of an exploited inefficiency on PIT’s part? Figure a pitcher isn’t likely to be healthy or affordable by the time he is a FA, the player will take advantage of arbitration, why give a raise now?
Klaw: I wouldn’t have tried or threatened to cut him, but as I said on the BBTN podcast, there is no benefit to paying these guys more before they’re arb-eligible. I just wouldn’t go out of my way to antagonize them.

wrburgess: Who would you bet on being the 2016 version of Conforto, such as a 2015 draft pick that, given the chance, makes a late-season impact in the majors?
Klaw: I think Benintendi could do that. Hell, Bregman could do it if Altuve or Correa had some serious injury.

Nik: Which team will make the playoffs first, the Phillies or the Braves?
Klaw: Hm. I think Atlanta is more motivated to go spend some money to improve the team quickly in 2017-18, but the Phillies’ prospects are a bit closer to helping the big-league club.

Michael: Do you call out your colleagues when they refer to RBIs, OPS, “clutch,” or other stats/concepts you disagree with, like you do with people on Twitter? Is that uncomfortable?
Klaw: I have done so on Twitter and on air. I’ve called out colleagues for supporting anti-science and pseudoscience too. So this seems like a very silly question.

Amit: Check out any eats while you were in the bay?
Klaw: Cotogna, del Popolo, flour + water, Four Barrel, Sightglass.

Clay: Have you ever tried curing your own meat? Would love to try but I worry about getting it wrong and making people sick.
Klaw: I’ve cured and smoked bacon. I haven’t done anything to be eaten uncooked like prosciutto.

Ryan: Out of all of the Braves pitching prospects who’s most likely to reach/come close to expectations?
Klaw: Aaron Blair, because he’s just about there already.

Scott: With Archie Bradley and Jon Gray both reportedly showing increased velocity on their first spring turns, seems like both of their local media are hoping for the best and forgetting it was two inning stints after a long stretch off. How much of their problems the last two years can be tied directly to the lost ticks on their fastball?
Klaw: A lot. Although Bradley also had issues with his shoulder, and both guys have struggled to develop a good third pitch.

Ciscoskid: Any prospects that are top 2 rounds worthy out of Northern CA?
Klaw: Jefferies and Matt Manning are the two definites, although Manning is playing hoops and won’t make his first start until April 11th.

Colin: what disgusted you most about the GOP debate last night?
Klaw: I actually didn’t watch it; I’ve only read recaps and reactions, which of course are going to highlight the most ridiculous moments.

William: re: Spotlight….that Ruffalo weird accent/cadence he was going for didn’t annoy the living hell out of you?
Klaw: No – actually, I thought it enhanced the performance because it made him fall into character more. Plus I don’t know what Rezendes actually sounds like; I read an interview with Sascha Pfeifer which one of you sent to me where she said the actors all worked to adopt the real reporters’ accents and gestures.

Kevin: Thoughts on fantasy baseball (not daily). Good for the game or a hindrance?
Klaw: Good for the game. Daily fantasy, not so much.

Kevin: Best rapper ever?
Klaw: Rakim. I’ll entertain an argument for 2Pac, but Rakim is known by a single letter for a reason.

Guy Bissonnette: H ramirez end the season as the Sox 1B?
Klaw: Yes. I think he’s going to hit better than expected. He was OK before he slammed into the wall last year.

Michael: You made it seem like it was completely wrong to be in the minority on the gay marriage cases last week on Twitter. While you may not agree with originalism, it’s a legitimate way to interpret the Constitution. The ratifiers of the 14th Amendment never thought they were giving people the right to marry a person of the same sex. Leave it to the legislature.
Klaw: There are two problems with this. The ratifiers of the 14th amendment promised due process under the law to all, with no exceptions or conditions. Indeed, the authors or ratifiers of the Constitution or any amendment could not have imagined the world in which we live today, and saying that if they didn’t anticipate modern technology, biology, knowledge of genetics (of which they had none), and so on that the documents don’t apply renders them useless. As for Scalia’s argument that marriage equality should have been left to state legislatures, that’s an outright failure because so many federal laws and policies – including the favorable tax treatment of married couples and survivors’ benefits in social security – rely on marital status that it is undeniably a federal issues. Scalia was smart enough to know this, but let his own opposition to gay marriage inform his opinion instead.

Dan: Periscopes coming back soon?
Klaw: Tough to do those when I’m on a plane or in a car all the time.

Chris: Agree with the 30 games for Aroldis? I thought it was light, to be honest.
Klaw: I thought it was reasonable for a negotiated settlement (no appeal) in a case where the victim recanted, so whatever additional evidence MLB may have gathered that we don’t have, their case against Chapman was likely weaker than they’d wanted.

Steve: What kind of line would you expect from Park in Minnesota this year?
Klaw: .250ish with 75 walks and 20-25 homers? I don’t know him that well as a player, just some video.

Michael: I meant, do you do it in person? Doing it behind the comfort of a computer screen is a lot easier.
Klaw: Really? I would never say anything online or in a text that I wouldn’t repeat in person. You seem ignorant of what my job actually entails. When I say the Angels have the worst farm system I’ve ever seen, I still talk to many people in their organization and must be willing to stand up and answer for what I’ve said.

Fitzy: Does the White Sox initial aggressive assignment of Courtney Hawkins explain why he’s never really developed?
Klaw: It’s a strong hypothesis, and in my opinion, a good one that’s probably incomplete. He was fairly crude to begin with and there was always a chance he’d never hit.

Adam Trask: The underrated 9th amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Klaw: No, we’re only picking and choosing amendments that fit our preconceived notions here. Please don’t confuse us.

Ronald: Do you have a feeling that, behind the scenes, Aroldis and his reps said, “we’ll settle with you if you agree to leave his free agency alone?”
Klaw: Absolutely. Not a bad strategy for them. I actually have no real problem with leaving his free agency alone while keeping him off the field for a month. MLB’s problem is not about these guys getting paid, but having them on the field at all. I would hope every opposing announcer would bring it up whenever Chapman’s in the game.

Kevin: If you have to eat at a chain which one is it?
Klaw: Shake Shack is excellent for a chain. Chipotle and Panera are solid choices when I’m in chain-world. I used to hate Panera and there are still things there I won’t touch, but often when I’m traveling I don’t want really heavy foods.

Dan: I’m pretty sure the ratifiers of the 2nd Amendment never thought they were giving people the right to carry semi-automatic weapons to kill…
Klaw: Key & Peele did a great sketch on this – maybe the framers would have loved semi-automatic weapons.

AJ: I know Andrew Suarez didnt make your top ten list for the Giants. What are your thoughts on him?
Klaw: Health history is a real concern. Could be a 4th starter if healthy but has had so many problems already I can’t forecast durability.

Nelson: Braves better off with Swanson or Simmons at shortstop?
Klaw: Simmons’ defense is irreplaceable but Swanson will provide far more offense than Simmons ever could. Probably a slight downgrade because Simmons’ glove was so good, but I still think Swanson makes a bunch of All-Star teams.

Owen (London): Did everyone else get the Robert Louis Stevenson/lighthouse reference a few weeks ago ? Fuckin’ A, bubba. This is why we love this game.
Klaw: Only a couple of people did, but that’s OK. My rule of thumb is that if one person gets one of my ridiculous references, I’m happy. Otherwise I’d lose my damn mind.

Michael: Originalists don’t agree with substantive due process. It’s completely made up to someone like Scalia. Moreover, the federal government could easily change those benefits if they wanted to. Vote people in who do if you don’t like it. I happen to be in favor of gay marriage; I just wanted it done the right way, not by nine unelected judges.
Klaw: I find the idea of leaving questions of fundamental rights up to elected officials, and thus the people who elected them, rather scary, or haven’t you noticed that the leading candidate for the GOP nomination wants to restrict the rights of Muslims?

Theo: Obviously A Espinoza looks great now. Being as small as he is and and young as he is, what are the percentages that 1) he actually makes it to the big leagues and 2) he develops reasonably well (#2/3)? Is he a lottery ticket at this point, or are the chances better?
Klaw: I was trying to think of the last guy like him – and there have been very few – who didn’t turn into anything at all. Brien Taylor? Felix did. Pedro did. Who else has there been?

BD: Any tricks to get a young child (2 in my case) to eat vegtables?
Klaw: I’m not the best one to talk, as my daughter is a great eater but still doesn’t love vegetables, but I have found that roasting them till caramelized helps bring out the sugars naturally present in the vegetables. I would often get my daughter to eat broccoli cooked like that and tossed with grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.

Mike: The Brewers outfield is stocked full of intriguing prospects, big fan of Michael Reed, how does he fit in there?
Klaw: I think he should be their everyday CF by year-end.

Michael D: Unlike the Rangers’ strategy to sign Desmond rather than going with an in-house platoon/rookie option, should Cleveland stick Naquin in CF as opposed to potentially overpaying for a guy like Austin Jackson? Not like Abraham Almonte was Kenny Lofton …
Klaw: I would. Even if Naquin hits .230/.290/.350 he’ll probably still help the club with his defense. And while they need a bat or three, Jackson probably isn’t the solution.

addoeh: What one regional or national chain restaurant, that isn’t close to your house, do you wish was near by?
Klaw: I’m glad Shake Shack isn’t nearby or I’d eat there too often. We do miss Grimaldi’s from Arizona as it was a favorite of my daughter’s and I happened to like their salads as well as their pizzas.

Kevin: Next to you is buster the hardest working guy in the business?
Klaw: True fact: Buster actually hasn’t slept in six years.

Marshall: How much time do teams spend evaluating an average draft pick? How much time in the farm system before the team has enough new information to make the draft position meaningless (i.e., not a factor in promotion decisions)?
Klaw: Come on, you saw Trouble with the Curve. Teams don’t see the player until a week before the draft, and then they only have the area guy see him even if he might be the first or second overall pick.

Drew: What was your impression of Connor Jones last week? And did you eat at Mas again or try somewhere new?
Klaw: I didn’t make the trip – I’m shooting for March 18th to try again.

Michael: Discrimination exists and is legal in this country. Other than rights specifically mentioned in the Constitution, legislatures decide the rest. People who love weed get incredibly discriminated in this country. Does due process and equal protection apply to them?
Klaw: Yeah, that’s not discrimination.

Lyle: I like popular music, restaurants, etc…but I want to seem super unique to people when I describe my tastes. What is wrong with me?
Klaw: Why? You like what you like. You certainly shouldn’t try to be something you’re just not.

Kevin: ever seen breaking bad and if so thoughts?
Klaw: I watched S1 and two eps of S2 and bailed. Just did not grab me.

Ed: Do you see Giolito starting the season in DC?
Klaw: No, and I’m guessing we don’t see him till late in the season given their other SP options.

Corey: Your prediction about whether or not JBJ, Castillo and Sandoval produce where the Sox expect/need them to ?
Klaw: I’ll say JBJ does, Castillo doesn’t, and Sandoval is OK but short of expectations.

Johnny: Do you think Rio Ruiz can take Atlanta’s 3rd base job by 2017? Or do you see him only being a bench guy?
Klaw: Bench guy.

Eric: Does it bother you when someone (who is hiding behind a computer screen) accuses you of hiding behind a computer screen when you criticize someone?
Klaw: You kind of just described Twitter.

Corey: Think Joe Kelly sticks as the 5th starter or ends up in ‘pen? and is Owens or Johnson (or Elias) the better replacement ?
Klaw: I think Kelly has to be in the bullpen but they seem committed to trying him as a starter again.

Jeff Chisholm: What anti science faction do you hate more: the “global warming is a myth” contingent or the “vaccines are dangerous” group?
Klaw: Do I have to choose? If you deny one part of science you might as well be denying all of it. We don’t get to pick what facts to believe. Well, we do, but if we don’t believe them all then we might as well go extinct.

Kevin: I keep hearing that the Trea Turner/Joe Ross for Wil Myers trade is a disaster for the Padres. Do you think there is a good chance Wil Myers breaks out and makes it a great deal for the Padres?
Klaw: I still have hope for Myers, but that trade will never look good for them because of how much they gave up.

John: berrios has to start in the Twins rotation right? Who else do they have….. How did they win that many game last year with that rotation
Klaw: I think he’s ready.

Klaw: I need to get rolling and figure out my plan for today as the game I was supposed to see (Moniak) was cancelled. Thanks as always for all of the questions – I’ll chat again at some point next week!

Forbidden Desert app.

The iPad app version of Forbidden Desert is absolutely stellar, one of the best adaptations of any physical boardgame i’ve seen to date, and I can verify that the game is highly addictive – in some ways even more so than the strong app version of Pandemic. Forbidden Desert just could use a little more fine-tuning to help it run more quickly, but the app is stable, the graphics are bright and clear, and the game – which I gave a fairly positive review when it first came out – showed itself to be more difficult than I’d realized after a couple of plays of the physical game.

Forbidden Desert is from Pandemic designer Matt Leacock, and the mechanics are similar to those of Pandemic and Forbidden Island. Two to four players, each with a specific role and power, play team members stranded in a desert that’s represented by a 5×5 grid of 24 tiles plus a central dust storm. On each turn, one player takes four actions, which can include moving to an adjacent tile, flipping a tile over to reveal what’s underneath, or clearing one sand token from atop the tile. You can only flip a tile once there’s no sand on top, and you can’t occupy a tile with more than one sand token on it; if you’re on a tile that ends up with two or more sand tokens on top of it, the tokens are also on top of you and you must clear all but one before you can move. After each player’s turn, the team draws two to six cards representing the progress of the storm, which may move the central storm and add sand tokens, increase the number of cards drawn each turn, or show the sun beating down on players, reducing their water supplies. The goal of the game is to find the four pieces of the escape vehicle and get all players to the launching pad before any of the various loss conditions occurs: one player dies of thirst, the supply of sand tokens is exhausted, or the storm level reaches the end of the track.

The app plays beautifully: Everything is clear, there’s a great undo function (although you can’t undo a tile flip or a storm card), and the app makes it immediately evident what you’re allowed to do. Cooperative apps are easier to develop than competitive ones because you don’t need to create AI opponents; the opponent here is the clock, so to speak, but the developers did hit just about everything else you’d want to see. I did have two minor complaints with the app. First is that some indicators end up covering others temporarily, such as the location of a vehicle piece covering up the indicator that a tile contains a tunnel, in which players can hide from the effects of the sun beating down. The second is that flipping a Storm Picks Up card causes a needless delay to show the board shaking, an effect that players should be allowed to turn off. They’re both pretty minor, really.

Indeed, any issues I have with the app are really issues with the game, like the need for a few more role choices to give more diverse options for replay. The game comes with six, and while I did beat the app without the Water Carrier, the challenge is more reasonable when you’ve got a Water Carrier (who can retrieve more water during the game than other players and can pass water to other players more easily) among your team. Even just adding a role similar to Pandemic’s Generalist, who has no special powers but gets a fifth action each turn, would help boost replay value. I probably played the app 40 times on the normal setting and only beat it four games, way below my typical rate on Pandemic, so I have to think this game is much more challenging than I originally thought.

Two other apps of note: Reiner Knizia’s The Confrontation originally had a Lord of the Rings theme in the physical version but has been rethemed (sort of like The Shinning) for the app version, which treats the two-player game to a hybrid board/videogame treatment. It’s an unbalanced two-player game where the victory conditions differ for the two players, and conflicts between pieces are resolved in a separate screen that adds animations to the battles. I thought it was well-done and the hard AI was appropriately hard but not unbeatable, but I own an iPad 2, which is below their recommended hardware levels, and the app does run too slowly on my device for me to play it often. When I eventually upgrade, I’ll likely play it a lot more, since I think I like the game and generally enjoy Knizia’s products.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path is a very simple boardgame for two to eight players where the goal is to build a path that keeps your token on the board the longest. On each turn, you place one of three tiles in your hand, mostly trying to keep yourself on the board, but also trying to limit your opponents’ options late in the game and occasionally even getting the chance to run an opponent’s token off the board or, most fun, making two opponents smash together, eliminating both at once. It’s a basic game and there is a lot of luck involved as well as a disadvantage for the first player – if everyone manages to stay on the board till the end, the first player to play will be the first eliminated.