Klawchat 1/11/18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Klawchat 12/7/17.

Content: Insider posts on Maitan, Mikolas, and Minor; and on Castillo, Aledmys, and Boxberger. A look at the VR version of the Catan boardgame for Ars Technica. I should also have another boardgame review up for Paste shortly.

Keith Law: Freak what you heard. Klawchat.

Seth: What’s more drawn out, the Stanton sweepstakes or Kurt Vile’s last album?
Keith Law: I have never liked Vile’s work – mostly his singing style. But the Stanton thing is stupid: It’s all about him, and the team is pretending it isn’t.

Jay: As a Clevelander and a baseball fan, how do writers lose their HOF ballots. Asking for a friend…
Keith Law: The only time I know of a writer losing his ballot while eligible is Le Batard. They won’t revoke anyone’s ballot for sheer incompetence or the mere appearance of impropriety (e.g., voting out of spite, voting only for players the writer knows personally).

Jay: Have you see Murder on the Orient Express, any thoughts on how it matches to the book?
Keith Law: Haven’t seen it; I love Branagh, but the reviews have been tepid and the trailer makes his Poirot look so over the top, which isn’t true to the character. Poirot is a pompous little Belgian, but he’s not PT Barnum.

GS: Thoughts on players the Twins received in bonus pool trades? Think they handled the money well?
Keith Law: Meh.

Reese: Aaron Boone… leaves me scratching my head . Seems like great guy !! But no managerial experience.
Keith Law: I like Aaron personally and enjoyed working with him, but I have been pretty clear over the last ten years that I don’t think hiring a major-league manager with zero managerial experience at any level is a good idea, and the results of such hires have been very poor.

GS: Top Chef is back! Can’t wait for you recaps. Any cities you’d like them to go to in the future? Minneapolis would be fun…
Keith Law: I announced in my newsletter this week that I am not doing recaps this season.

Crazy Eddie: With the Tigers in a rebuild, would they listen to offers on Michael Fulmer? Any rumors that he is available?
Keith Law: There were rumors to that effect last summer but he ended the year on the DL and this is the wrong time to deal him.

Dog: Is this chat protected by attorney-client privilege?
Keith Law: Well, neither of us is an attorney, so that’s a yes.

Brian: Do you think AJ Preller has done enough to justify his 3 year extension? Do you think the Padres rebuilding plan is working under his leadership?
Keith Law: I do – I think the system is very, very strong.

Matt: O’s beat reporters keep mentioning the possibility of Hunter Harvey pitching in the majors next summer. That would be madness, right?
Keith Law: Yes. That sounds like someone in the org trying to push an idea on people above him.

Robbie: What do you think of the job Eppler has done for the Angels? He seems to really be making solid moves without mortgaging the future. The simmons trade has to be one of the most underrated in some time.
Keith Law: Simmons trade was great, the farm system is massively improved since he took over, and I like the way he’s added around the margins given how handcuffed he has been by the poor system he inherited and major financial commitments to just a few players.

RSO: How much can the Orioles expect to receive for 1 year of Manny Machado?
Keith Law: I don’t think he’s going to be traded, but I would ask for two significant prospects. One year of Machado is huge value for a contender. Might add 5-6 wins, maybe more.

cnp: Would you ever consider running for public office?
Keith Law: I wouldn’t rule anything out – I’ve always believed in keeping all doors open. It’s better to have an opportunity come to you and then have the choice to decline than to never have the opportunity at all.

Jimmy: If you were a GM would you give $350 Mil to Harper or Machado?
Keith Law: Yes, either.

Guest: Any thoughts on Kazuo Ishiguro winning the Nobel Prize in Literature?
Keith Law: I’m a fan. Loved Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go – both are top 100 all time novels for me.

Dave: What’s your gut feeling about Matt Olson? Potential franchise player, platoon guy that got hot, somewhere in between?
Keith Law: Below average regular is most likely outcome. Juiced ball may have helped him a lot.

Shaun: Love the things you post on. For your pour over coffee, do you use a gooseneck kettle, and/or is a standard kettle good enough to get by.
Keith Law: I use a regular kettle. The gooseneck thing is about 10% substance and 90% style for me.

Anthony: Which Braves prospects would be on your Do Not Trade list?
Keith Law: If the Angels called and offered Trout, but you had to trade Acuna, would you do it? I would. So I’d say none of them.

JP: Thoughts on Bitcoin?
Keith Law: It feels like every other bubble I’ve ever lived through or read about.

Steph: Happy Holidays klaw and thanks for the annual guides! I heard yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of the Chris Sale trade. 2 part question: how would you rate the White Sox transaction over this past year and what should be their goals for this offseason? Has Moncada taken a step backwards in his development or is he performing as expected?
Keith Law: Happy holidays to you as well. I think Hahn has done a great job overall in restocking the system, maximizing the value of most of his tradeable assets. I think the trade with the Yankees is the one least likely to work out. Moncada for me is the same player he was a year ago, same upside, same real concerns about his bat.

John: Why do people still get so upset with Hall of Fame ballots? The institution is meaningless at this point–it no longer honors the best players. It’s just nostalgia porn for old men.
Keith Law: The part that bothers me is that these writers with horrendous ballots, like Livingston, are assigned to cover the sport, yet show with their ballots that they don’t know the first thing about the sport. If you can’t realize that Chipper Jones is a Hall of Famer, then you shouldn’t be paid to cover baseball. There are lots of people out there who could do the job and also understand something about the sport.

JP: Giving up JBJ for Abreu would be a terrible deal for the Red Sox, right?
Keith Law: I think that’s an overpayment.

Randy: Thoughts on Joe McCarthy (Rays) after his solid 2017 at Double-A. Any chance he develops into a big league regular?
Keith Law: Yes, I’d agree with that. Potential first-rounder before a serious back injury killed his junior year at UVA, mostly because everyone believed he could hit. Now it seems that’s coming true. He was a tick old for AA, though, and obviously needs more power as a corner guy, but I think 15 HR is within the realm of possibility (before we discuss the MLB ball).

Joe: Do you have any thoughts about Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in the next Fantastic Beasts movie? Even if one can manage to put abuse allegations aside, it still seems like a miscast for the role.
Keith Law: Yes, totally miscast. What Depp does well – and I do think he’s a very good actor – is wrong for that role.

Nick: True or false: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”
Keith Law: I’d say true.

Ben: Thoughts on Jerusalem decision? Seems like many advisors told Trump not to do it, but being the 5 year old that he is, he did it. It’s almost like he’s hoping to cause as much chaos anywhere and everywhere.
Keith Law: This administration has consistently pandered to the extremist Christian right. It fits the pattern.

BD in DC: Gerrit Cole for B. Goodwin, E Fedde, and L Garcia… who says no?
Keith Law: That’s a terrible deal for Pittsburgh.

Troy: Hey Keith – Thoughts on Monte Harrison? Is he for real if he can stay healthy?
Keith Law: I think he has a chance to be an above-average regular, with a fairly high bust probability still because of plate discipline/pitch recognition questions. I like the athleticism and hand strength.

Bobby Evans: I want to give up all or most of the top prospects in my already thin farm system for Stanton’s big contract. That’s not a bad idea, right?
Keith Law: It’s not a bad idea if you aren’t paying so much of the deal that you choke the franchise for the next decade. The discussed package of players isn’t my concern; they can float the losses of those guys.

Clay: Is Brazil turning into a legitimate baseball country? A handful have found their way to the bigs, at least a couple prospects (Gohara, Pardinho) are highly touted.
Keith Law: My limited knowledge of baseball in Brazil – boosted by that great multi-part series Pedro Moura did about it maybe a year ago – is that it’s popular where Japanese emigres settled, but unknown in other parts of the country.

Jesse B: Ohtani, Gore, Baez, and Quantrill to go with Myers, Hosmer, Margot and Tatis, is that enough to make the Padres relevant again?
Keith Law: The Padres signing Hosmer would be, by far, the dumbest fucking thing they could do.

Tyler: Thinking of quitting Facebook/Twitter as a New Year’s resolution. Any suggestions as to other time-killing websites that won’t sink me further into depression?
Keith Law: The dish? Wait, scratch that, those Saturday posts are pretty depressing.

Daniel: What fallout do you anticipate from Braves scandal? Will other organizations have to clean up the way they do things?
Keith Law: I believe the bundling practice will stop – it was definitely illegal, but the system encouraged teams to do it, and the argument was that the players still ended up getting paid so the harm was somewhat limited. But MLB has made it clear they’re done with looking the other way on much of that stuff.

Justin: Who is a better plan B for the Cardinals if/when Stanton opts for the west coast – Donaldson or Yelich?
Keith Law: Donaldson if the goal is win now, which I think it is. Yelich is the better long-term asset, but should cost you more in prospects.

Jake: If you’re the Cardinals, which young pitchers are you least willing to deal for a bat. Reyes and Hicks?
Keith Law: I’d trade any of them. Reyes is still coming back from TJ, and I said well before his injury I thought the short stride made him an injury risk (and made his breaking ball worse too), so there are enough knocks that I wouldn’t make him untouchable even though he has the best stuff of all their young arms.

Justin R: As someone who takes anxiety medication, do the studies that such medication increase risk of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease worry you? I stopped taking Celexa a few years back because of this but am thinking of jumping back in and wanted to weigh the risks.
Keith Law: The etiological connection between these drugs and eventual dementia is not well established, and the risk even in patients who start SSRIs before age 65 remains low, just higher than it is for those who never take them. You have to consider the benefit – do I want to live with anxiety, and the associated lower quality of life, to avoid this higher risk that is not completely understood? I’ve been on the medication, off, back on … yeah, I don’t think I want to live unmedicated. I was miserable and it affected people around me too.

Sterling Malory Chris Archer: What is it about Ohtani’s swing that you think he won’t be successful in MLB?
Keith Law: I answered that at length in my article about him: http://klaw.me/2khlBb0

Joe: Does Austin Hays have 60h 60p tools?
Keith Law: No.

Wally: If you were a GM, would you do more prospect challenge trades than we see generally? Mejia for Robles seems like one that might make sense, given the roster composition of CLE and WAS. Would that be fair, or would one side need to top it up a little?
Keith Law: Both top ten overall prospects, reasonable from a value sense, but Cleveland could also move Mejia to another position rather than trade him.

Steve: Your music playlists featurelots of obscure artists, maybe u hear them on sat radio, but What’s your music “wheelhouse”, if you can describe.
Keith Law: I do have Sirius XM but they tend to be late to bring new artists on air. I like music that’s interesting, that boasts something like strong melodies, intelligent lyrics, technical proficiency, new sounds or textures. I’ve listened to so much music in my life that I get a lot of “I’ve heard this before” feelings from mainstream radio.

Chris: Any idea why Ohtani and/or his agents would make 23 teams go through a useless exercise of filling out the dog and pony forms?
Keith Law: Maybe they had a purpose that didn’t make it useless. Maybe they didn’t want to show such disrespect to teams as to say “Ohtani is so unwilling to play for you that nothing you can say would change his mind.”

EC: For closers and the HOF, even if – and that is a big if – we wanted to put them in, don’t we have to wait until we have a larger crop to judge who were the best (Mariano excluded)? There seems to be an arguments that Hoffman is the second best, but there are some that seem obviously better (Nathan) or could be considerably more valuable by the end of their career (Kimbrel, Jansen). What’s the rush to get Hoffman in?
Keith Law: Every writer who lists Hoffman on his/her ballot is telling you that s/he still values saves, even though we know the stat is meaningless for discussing individual value. If Hoffman pitched exactly the same way, the same 1089 innings, the same 2.87 ERA, but had zero saves, this isn’t a discussion. He would have fallen off the ballot two years ago. He did less in his career than Brandon Webb, for crying out loud. But these voters will not let go of their precious saves, even as the teams they cover have made it very clear that they see no utility in the statistic.

Ted: Are you planning on updating your kitchen gifts and cookbook recommendations for this year? I have found them to be very helpful around the holidays the past few years?
Keith Law: The gift guide went up yesterday (http://klaw.me/2AwOlma) and the cookbook guide will go up after the chat.

Jason S: Have you had Philz coffee? If so, thoughts on it, have you had better?
Keith Law: I have had it. I’ve had a lot that’s better.

Andrew: Hi klaw, greetings from the UK, something of a baseball noob here and have adopted the Rays. My first season of regular viewing was last season. Was just wondering your general view on the strength (or otherwise) of their farm system..
Keith Law: I think it’s below the median, but I’ll do a detailed ranking & explanation in January when I post the prospect rankings package.

Jay: With Del Rosario, Negret, and possibly 5 1st round/comp A picks, do you think the Royals can turn around the farm system quickly?
Keith Law: I don’t. You might – I don’t want to infer too much here – be overrating the impact of the two former Atlanta prospects. I will say this: they probably need to approach this draft differently than the last few. Their recent emphasis on high school pitching hasn’t panned out so far, and with the extra picks and the money they bring, they can be more creative than they’ve been since the new system went into place.

Jack: How concerned should phillies fans be about mickey moniak? Should he start in low a again?
Keith Law: I’m pretty concerned. He looked like he’d never seen a slider before every time I saw him, and I believe the Phillies are considering moving him to a corner, having played him there in instructs too.

JC: Are there any long term internal options the Braves have at 3B? Let’s include college options to be drafted at #8 (assuming, of course, they are BPA while drafted). If not, should they sit out this year for external options in a potential buyers market?
Keith Law: I’m not a Riley fan, but he is their best 3b prospect and I know internally they rank him more highly than I do.

Chris: You talk a lot on these chats about abuse and assault from athletes and other entertainers (and thank you for that), especially how ridiculous it can be that people then target the victim as a liar. However, I wanted to know what your opinion was around rehabilitation and what needs to happen before you would accept those accused getting back into the spotlight.
Keith Law: Those people can certainly go through counseling, although its effect is far from certain (especially for those abusers who are themselves trauma victims). But we don’t have to let them be famous again. I don’t need to see Josh Lueke in a major league uniform again – there are plenty of guys who throw hard and have never raped a woman.

Eddy: I’m having trouble nailing down the HR and SB totals for Gleyber Torres in a typical season. What is a reasonable expectation? Seen everything from 15 HR to 25+ and single-digit SB to 20.
Keith Law: He’s not a runner. I could see 20+ homers, definitely, but if he steals 20 it’ll be on instincts rather than speed.

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: I apologize if you have answered this before, but it is December so it is Hall of Fame season. Is Pete Rose a Hall of Famer? Not a Hall of Fame talent…a Hall of Famer.
Keith Law: I think he has to be, as much as it disgusts me. I can’t argue for any player who is a ‘known’ PED user under the argument that the Hall needs to show the best players, period, and then argue against Rose.

TJ: The common refrain around the Red Sox is that they need power, but wouldn’t a consistent hitter at 1B be just as valuable? So many times to break a game open they just need a base hit while Hanley would swing out of his shoes to hit the long ball. (anecdotal but still). Is there a point at which upgrading the power is being pursued too much to the detriment of a better offense?
Keith Law: They really do need power. They have plenty of guys who can hit. The lack of power sank the offense last year.

Chris : Any chance Mickey Jannis gets scooped up in Rule 5?
Keith Law: Doubt it.

Enquiring Mind: Better upside and/or chance of reaching it: Kingery or Bo Bichette? I’ll hang up and listen. Thanks as always for the chats.
Keith Law: Bichette better upside. Kingery is a big leaguer right now, though.

Jeff: Is the talent in this year’s Rule 5 better than normal, or are there just more recognizable names that haven’t panned out?
Keith Law: Couple of more recognizable names – Nick Burdi’s name has come up a few times, I think he’ll go off the board – but not necessarily better ones.

Luke: Should we all just quit caring about the Hall? I fail to understand how Vizquel is getting so much support while Edmonds got booted off the ballot in his first year, Edgar and Walker can’t get elected, the roiders sit on the ballot every year taking up votes and keeping deserving players out…nothing about it makes sense. And then there are writers like Livingston that you commented about on Twitter today that make a mockery of the whole process. Rant over. I guess my question is how do they fix the process for election?
Keith Law: The electorate for the Hall will change more slowly than the electorate for postseason awards, because the former includes a lot of people who haven’t covered the game for 5+ years, and a lot of people who still cover it but haven’t bothered to keep up with the seismic shifts in how baseball players are valued by the industry itself. But it will change.

Evan: Atkins said that they are going to exhaust Connor Greene as a SP “until he has no choice.” (Smart decision.) Do you think Greene is destined for the bullpen, and if so, could he be a top end high-leverage RP?
Keith Law: I would still try him out as a starter. I don’t think it’s foreordained that he’s a reliever.

Evan: I heard a rumor the Braves are trying to open up a corner OF spot for Acuna this season. If he plays the bulk of the year in the majors, what type of production do you think he would have?
Keith Law: I can’t imagine he’s there Opening Day, for service time reasons; that would be silly. But I’d release Matt Kemp for him, definitely. Think he’d hit .280-.290, low .300s OBP, 30+ steals … I want to say 10-12 homers, but the juiced ball has really thrown me off the last year or two. He hit 21 across A+-AA-AAA last year with the minor league ball, so is it absurd to say he could really hit 20 homers if you gave him 600 PA in the majors?

Brian: Not a question, but fwiw, my grievance with insane HoF ballots is exactly the same as yours. In fact, I’ve noticed this is usually what makes me upset about things in general: when people are in charge of things for no reason, and yet it is very hard to do anything about it …
Keith Law: It feels like you’re talking about something more than just sports here.

Dan: Heliot Ramos appeared to have a good debut this summer, but have you heard anything from scouts (or scouted yourself) to change your pre-draft opinion of him? Is there star upside there? Or more average regular?
Keith Law: Nothing new, just a great debut, which I don’t read a ton into other than that he didn’t fail right away, which worries the hell out of me when a player does that in his first pro (wood bat) experience. Some guys get around it – Nolan Jones was much better in 2017 than in his debut – but most don’t.

Tom: I believe on Twitter (or maybe it was a chat) that you said if the SF Giants took on all of Stanton’s contract, it would cripple the franchise. But earlier in this chat, you said you’d give $350m to Machado or Harper. Does it have to do more with the players receiving the contract, or what teams are positioned to hand out a contract of that size?
Keith Law: I don’t recall saying that, but I’d be way more comfortable giving that money to Harper or Machado, who are three years younger than Stanton; both better, higher-impact players, with more defensive value; and don’t have Stanton’s injury history.

James: Any inkling of where you think Otani will land?
Keith Law: Nope. I haven’t even asked anyone about it. It’s all BS until he signs, and then it matters.

Steve: I know you’ll probably have a write-up on it but what are you’re initial thoughts on Chatwood to the Cubs?
Keith Law: That’s WAY more money than I thought he’d get. I had him as a potential bargain (heh) because getting him out of Denver might help him rediscover his curveball.

Pat D: Franken and Conyers are rightfully resigning. Yet there sit Roy Moore and Donald Trump with people like Janet Porter getting airtime to defend them. At what point is it right to give up faith in the people of this country to do the right thing?
Keith Law: Oh, I passed that point a long time ago.

Tim: any truth to the rumors that ESPN is hiring Ohtani as your scouting intern because it represents a pay raise for Ohtani over what he will receive in this absolute garbage MLB international system?
Keith Law: It’s really cool that they all negotiated to raise the amount Ohtani’s team would get without regard to what the player himself – the one fans are paying to come to see – will get.

RSO: I know the Astros won the World Series last year, but how good does the Brian McCann trade look for them right now with Abreu, and Guzman both doing very well? Both have risen into the top 10 in their system according to some publications
Keith Law: I think the Astros are very happy with it.

Dutch: Lucroy should bounce back in 2018, no? IIRC he hit .300 with an OBP over .400 once he got out of Texas. Would imagine that Coors played a role in that 2nd half improvement too.
Keith Law: I think he’ll be better this year – no real reason to believe he just forgot how to hit and frame, or was somehow physically incapable of doing so.

Mike: Do you think it’s finally the year where a HS RHP goes 1-1?
Keith Law: I do not. I don’t see who that guy would be.

Dutch: Moving Myers back to the outfield would be incredibly stupid, no? Seems like Preller and San Diego have forgotten why they moved him to 1B.
Keith Law: Incredibly stupid.

Tony: Do you still write for ESPN or is all your work behind a paywall?
Keith Law: I’m having a hard time with the structure of this question.

Dennis: My project for 2018 is to read Don Quixote or Ulysses. Which do you recommend? Which will take longer to read?
Keith Law: Read Don Quixote. It’s just long. Ulysses is complicated, and it’s really not a book to be read like a novel.

Dennis: Do you like Henry James? If so, any recommendations?
Keith Law: I only liked Portrait of a Lady.

Charlie: Curious about your thoughts on the Martinez hire. Bench coach for a decade worthwhile preparation for the role, or just another flavor of “no managerial experience”? Do you see a distinction?
Keith Law: I would at least distinguish him from someone without any coaching experience. I have heard mixed things on Martinez over the years, but enough people whom I trust seem to like or recommend him that I want to give him the benefit of the doubt going into year one.

Dennis: Any interest in reading The Tale Of Genji?
Keith Law: I got 100 pages into it and bailed. Too slow. I’m not a huge poetry reader either, which didn’t help.

Tony: Given the numbers Cesar Hernandez has put up the past three years, how much better can the Phillies expect Kingery to be compared to that baseline? It seems like they have similar skillsets
Keith Law: Kingery’s a 70 defender at 2b with much more power, but I don’t think he’s going to post a .373 OBP any time soon. Makes Hernandez tradeable, but not necessarily someone who has to be traded today to make room because Kingery would be markedly better in 2018 (it could be a push now, Kingery better in the future due to power).

Chris: MLB.com just ranked Singer as their #1 draft prospect, but I know you’ve said he has reliever written all over him going forward. In your mind, what percentage chance does he have to stick as a starter?
Keith Law: Maybe 25%? I don’t think I’m doing a draft ranking until February now, but he won’t be top ten. Arm slot and action worry me. Dude was 90-91 the night I saw him face Kyle Wright.

Nelson: Whats a reasonable price to pay for 12oz bag of top notch coffee beans?
Keith Law: That’s going to run you $13-16, most likely.

Chuck: Do you expect Puk to be up in ’18?
Keith Law: Yes, before year-end.

Dennis: How do you carve out the time to read each day? I’m guessing you always have a book with you and you avoid internet browsing and social media.
Keith Law: I dedicate certain time to it in the morning, and I sit with my daughter every evening I’m home because she has to do 30 minutes of reading a night for homework.

Oden: No longer a prospect, but door you think Devers sticks at 3rd? Should Boston sign say Moose, move Devers across field?
Keith Law: Yes, he’s a 3b, chance to be a good one.

Adam Doctolero: If Hankins is there for the Giants at #2, he’s has to be the pick, right? Who else would you say is in that mix for a top-2 pick?
Keith Law: No I don’t think he has to be the pick at 2. He’s very good, but I wouldn’t separate him right away from the pack. Heck, Rocker is a different type of pitcher, but he could be above Hankins on some boards, and I haven’t even left Georgia yet.

Henry: Check out the new Noel Gallagher LP. It’s very good!
Keith Law: I have, but it didn’t hold my attention at all. Liam’s isn’t really setting the world on fire either. They’re better together, obviously.

John: Hot take: Billy Wagner is more deserving of the Hall of Fame than Trevor Hoffman. Better pitcher, shorter career. The only reason Wagner isn’t getting the support is that he retired at 39 and didn’t compile another 100+ saves like Hoffman did. (Neither are actually deserving, by the way…Wagner’s just closer)
Keith Law: I agree. Wagner was better than Hoffman when they actually pitched. I wouldn’t put either on my ballot.

Jim Nantz: Are the relatively low salaries paid to managers (I saw that Callaway won’t even clear $1M this year) a sign that teams don’t believe managers add much value?
Keith Law: I think that’s fair to assume.

Chris: You wisely are more bearish on Ohtani’s ability to be an impact player as both a pitcher and a hitter. Do you see a player ever filling both of those roles with the specialization of today’s game given how difficult it is to be a true two-way player?
Keith Law: I don’t. The hype around him has been ridiculous.

Andy: Don’t most teams rate their prospects more highly than you? I mean that even if they take an even handed approach, most teams are going to focus on positives of their guys, while minimizing the negatives.
Keith Law: Your job as a GM or farm director or VP is to try to evaluate your players objectively so you can make better decisions around trades, promotions, and adjustments. So if a team rates all or most of its prospects more highly than I do, then they’re probably doing themselves a disservice.

JJ: A writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shared his HOF ballot. He voted for Clemens but not Bonds, for obvious (?) reasons. He also declined to vote for Chipper Jones, citing Joe Morgan’s plea for character to matter, specifically Jones’ “Sandy Hook was a hoax” tweet. Should Jones’ post-playing career dumbassery have any impact on his HOF candidacy?
Keith Law: If you read the one sentence in the voting guidelines, it seems fairly clear that we’re discussing character while a player. I think hoaxers should all be sent to live on the surface of Venus, but this was a single comment that he walked back fairly quickly. If you’re downgrading him for “character,” the lengthy extramarital affair he had while in the peak of his career should weigh more than a single post-career tweet. (If you want to argue none of this should matter, I’m fine with that too.)

Doug: You have a take on the John Oliver/Dustin Hoffman incident? Big fan of Oliver but it seemed a tad extreme in his part.
Keith Law: It is exactly what we needed, and I hope more people take a cue from Oliver and call the accused out in public when they’re getting a free pass.
Keith Law: That’s all for this week. Thank you as always for reading and for all of your questions. Because of my travel schedule around the winter meetings next week, the next chat will probably be on December 21st (or thereabouts). Have a great weekend.

Klawchat 11/30/17.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the mid-weight train game Whistle Stop, which is one of my favorite new games of 2017.

Keith Law: A loaf of bread, a quart of milk, a stick of butter, and Klawchat.

Scherzer’s Blue Eye: Can you do something to at least warm up this Ice Cold Stove season?
Keith Law: One agent speculated to me that teams were waiting till December 1st to try to cool off prices for early signings. I have no idea if that’s true, but I’m at least hoping that tomorrow we’ll see something.

Drew: What would you rather, vote for Curt Schilling into the HOF or eat an entire Fruit Cake
Keith Law: I’d vote for Schilling, although I think at the moment he might not make my top 10 (it’s at least debatable). There are maybe 15 guys on the ballot I’d put in, so I’ve had to leave candidates toward the bottom of the list off – I’ve said, for example, that because Manny Ramirez failed two PED tests, I wouldn’t put him in my top 10 right now. If the logjam is ever cleared, he’d eventually get on the ballot.

Lilith: Taylor Trammell or Jesus Sanchez? Who do you prefer and why?
Keith Law: Trammell’s the better all-around player. Sanchez has more hit tool, which of course is the one that trumps them all, but I think I’d rather gamble on Trammell’s total upside.

Kevin: Learn anything new from your Thanksgiving cooking this year? Loved the periscope chat btw, first time I’ve logged on for that.
Keith Law: I went mostly with dishes I’d made before. Smaller gathering this year, and I just wasn’t up for my usual extravaganza.

Jim: Hi Keith, I’ve seen you talk in the past about Ohtani not being a major league regular level hitter, but I’m wondering what specifically is the issue. Is it the hit tool? Or is the power not what it appears to be?
Keith Law: It’s the very long swing and poor contact rates. Then he’s going to come here and play 40% of the time, or less. People who think he’s going to be a legit two-way player are wishcasting, or just pushing clickbait.

Jerome: What do you think of the Dbacks trade for Boxberger?
Keith Law: Fine reliever. Taylor’s a prospect, though, no-brainer for the Rays for two years of control.

Kevin: Do you expect Michael Baez to appear in your Top 100 next year?
Keith Law: I haven’t done any sort of preliminary rankings yet.

Paul: Does Baez have more upside than Gore at this point?
Keith Law: I don’t think so.

leisurefriar: Where is Ohtani going to end up?
Keith Law: I have no idea. Really, no idea at all. When it happens, we’ll discuss it, but I have only asked people what they think of him as a player, not where they think he’ll land.

Daniel: Do you see Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield making the majors in 2018? Could you provide some detail if yes.
Keith Law: Adams finished in AAA; there is no doubt he’ll see the majors this year if he’s healthy at all. Sheffield is the better prospect by quite a bit, though, and if they need a real starter, he’s the one to recall.

Chris: Your thoughts on collecting baseball cards and other baseball memorabilia? Also, do you have any special pieces of memorabilia from your career working in baseball?
Keith Law: Haven’t collected cards when I was a kid. Not a memorabilia guy at all.

derek: If the Giants trade for Stanton, what’s a realistic return for the Marlins? And as a Giants fan, should I be terrified?
Keith Law: One rumor had the Giants taking the entire contract. That should terrify you. It could hamstring their team for a decade.

CJ: Is there any reason a team shouldn’t do it’s due diligence on Ohtani, filling out the questionnaire, etc.?
Keith Law: No reason, but I know several teams have chosen not to participate.

Alex P: Hey Keith, thanks for the chat. How far do you see the Phillies form being a playoff team? And how would you balance their spending on FA’s vs allowing for development?
Keith Law: Two to three years. They should definitely be targeting FA this winter – and Ohtani, while a longshot since they’re NL, would be a perfect fit. They have nothing like him (as a pitcher) in the system, and he’s the same age as much of their roster anyway.

Dutch: Ketel Marte’s mini-breakout last year legitimate? Had great ABs in the playoffs. Kinda backed up his strong walk and K rates.
Keith Law: I’m in.

Mike Fichera: Is Dom Smith better on defense and with the bat than he’s shown? weight concerns aside.
Keith Law: Yes. Tiny sample. Obviously needs to maintain conditioning.

Sam: Some of the stove being so cold has to be because teams are waiting to see on Otani, right?
Keith Law: MLB sources indicated to me that they don’t believe that is true.

Josh in DC: I read something about Matt Lauer’s last contract renewal — that he cashed in on the fact that viewers of morning shows don’t like change. Is there any reason to believe that *sports* fans are more interested in watching the same guys year after year, that (separate from winning and losing) attendance and TV ratings might be correlated with roster continuity?
Keith Law: It’s been a while since I saw fresh research on this, but my understanding is that attendance, ratings, and revenues correlate with winning, often with a one-year lag, and nothing else.

Mike: Seeing a lot of talk on twitter about Ohtani’s speed. Some people are saying it’s somewhere between 70-80. How insane would that be for a pitcher or even a DH?
Keith Law: I had some idiots – and I mean that in the not-nicest possible way – saying it was wrong, or impossible, on Twitter last night. Multiple scouts have told me they personally clocked him under 4 seconds, one under 3.9 and the rest just above that, and that includes a time in August when he was, in theory, hobbled by the ankle/quad and still got down the line in under 4. He’s an 80 runner. Anyone who tells you otherwise should be dismissed.

Tyler: If you’re Alex Anthopoulos, do you make a splashy trade or signing this offseason to get the focus back on the team instead of the cheating scandal?
Keith Law: That’s a really terrible way to run a team.

Fred: What advice would you give to a mid 30s person looking into changing professions and starting from scratch?
Keith Law: Acquire a critical skill that should directly lead to employment.

Ricky H. : Ronnie Dawson had a big 2nd half in the Astros system. Back on track as a future regular?
Keith Law: Was he ever on track to be a regular? He was too old for low-A and spent the whole year there save 13 games.

Andy: Do you see the White Sox ultimately trading Jose Abreu this offseason? Your opinion on what teams are the best fit/have the pieces to make sense for the White Sox?
Keith Law: They should but the market might be thin, given all the 1b/dh types in free agency & also in the trade market.

Chuck: Would you vote for Edgar if you had a ballot?
Keith Law: I tweeted this on November 20th: “I don’t get one till next winter, but if I had a vote: Mussina, Bonds, Clemens, Vlad, Edgar, Chipper, Thome, Rolen, Schilling, Walker.”

Anthony: I recall you saying you had family (parents perhaps?) that lived in the ashburn va area…having just moved to ashburn, do you know of any good restaurants or food spots in the area? it doesnt seem like a big foodie town.
Keith Law: Voltaggio’s new place at One Loudoun is supposed to be pretty good – i went when it was Family Meal, but he’s since switched the concept. Also some good spots in Leesburg, including King Street Coffee & Doner Bistro.

Dutch: I can’t figure out for the life of me why Daniels would rather let Profar rot on the bench or in the minors than cash him in. They have to trade him right?
Keith Law: They might not be getting reasonable offers.

Jock: As a long time A’s fan, I remain somewhat puzzled by their selection of Austin Beck in that he seems the opposite of the kind of player that they usually target in the 1st round. What do you think of him as a player and do you see his selection as a sign that the A’s are shifting to an emphasis on more athletic/higher upside players. Thanks!
Keith Law: They are never getting a player like Beck – huge tools, athleticism, raw but with star upside – in free agency, and even in trade that’s hard to get. You have to have something huge to deal, and right now I don’t think they have anyone who’d get a return like him, or like a Gleyber or an Eloy or a Sheffield/Frazier package. So shooting for the moon made sense, even with the huge risk; I might not have done it because Beck’s hit tool really concerned me, but that’s strictly a subjective matter.

Zo: How important is having managerial experience. Do you think Boone or Beltran would hurt the yankees in the short run?
Keith Law: MLB managers without any managerial experience at any level have fared very poorly as a group. It’s a bad strategy, and we all know it, and teams keep doing it anyway.

Willie G: Rangers fans are growing impatient with Nomar Mazara, who has been below average the past two years and has seemed to have stagnated. Is he someone you think can be a core piece for a team going forward, or is his long-term role as a platoon or role player?
Keith Law: This is truly an ex post criticism, but I wonder now if promoting him so quickly in 2016 has hurt his development at the plate. Now the situation reminds me of Jose Guillen, who went pretty much from A-ball to the majors, and ended up a fine player, but never developed his approach at all and didn’t reach his ceiling. Again, I didn’t say so at the time, so this is strictly hindsight.

Josh in DC: I’m sure you’ve answered this before, but what you would do with Ohtani (if he actually can hit and pitch at a very level, that is)? How much would you worry about the injury risks from various baseball activities?
Keith Law: I have a long column on him running on Saturday. He’s a starting pitcher who can swing it a little. He is not going to be a starting pitcher and a regular position player on his days “off.”

Patty O’Furniture: Would a Matt Adams for Mike Fiers deal make sense?
Keith Law: I think Atlanta has plenty of guys who can deliver what Fiers would deliver but for the minimum salary.

Dutch: Fair to say Snell has #2 upside? FB and CB look sick. Even saw him get some whiffs on his changeup.
Keith Law: Yes, that’s fair.

Matt: Now that Tillerson and his surprising competence looks to be on the way out, are we in for a very long 11 months until change can actually be voted in?
Keith Law: It’s kind of appalling how mercurial these cabinet decisions have been. Pruitt’s reign of error might be the worst of all, with many Republicans weighing in on how disastrous his decisions have been, but if they won’t vote Democrat or just stay home, it’s not going to change until 2018 or more likely 2020.

Daniel: Will Mike Mussina make the Hall of Fame?
Keith Law: Eventually yes. Not this year.

Stan: Albertos or De la Cruz? (Or neither…)
Keith Law: Albertos. Alzolay is their best pitching prospect. De la Cruz has no track record of health.

Henry: Is this the year Xander Bogaerts hits 30 homers?
Keith Law: Let’s get his hands healthy again and say 20 homers.

Sam: One of the interesting points from Rany Jazayerli’s piece on the Bill James/WAR debacle was about how FIP fails to capture that some pitchers are worse out of the stretch, making hit clustering more a function of skill rather than luck. Is there any truth to that?
Keith Law: Most pitchers are slightly worse out of the stretch. Pitchers who are drastically worse out of the stretch tend to be either relievers or 4A guys. If you can’t pitch with men on base, it’s a tough road. So while FIP-based WAR does have issues, that’s not a significant one.

Scherzer’s Blue Eye: Jim Bowden said Ohtani is going to hit .300 with 30 HRs and win 15 games…
Keith Law: Yeah.

Jim: Kind of amazing that the Braves made out with AA here. What do you think he’ll do as first order of business there? He keeps saying the defense is his biggest concern and that seems to me that Kemp AND Markakis are goners.
Keith Law: I think he’ll focus on using the prospect inventory – still good, just not what it was, not #1 overall any more – to upgrade the major league roster. He’s of the mindset that you keep the absolute best prospects and trade the rest. That’s what they need now anyway. That could mean a top-line starter, a good corner outfielder (or two), or a real third baseman.

Ukulele Sue: Elvis Andrus is due $58M over four years after 2018. Yes, he’s had two good years in a row, but wouldn’t it be a mistake for him to opt out after 2018 and try to get more money, given how loaded the free agent class will be?
Keith Law: FA class will be loaded, but not loaded with shortstops. I think he’d be smart to opt out.

James: How close are Santana and A. Jones to getting your vote? Do you think they’ll at least hang around for a couple of years?
Keith Law: No on Johan. Andruw is probably a no, but near the border for me. Guy was basically finished at 30, and if you consider character at all, he loses a lot of points there too.

Bob: Matt Carpenter is a way better hitter than Eric Hosmer, right?
Keith Law: Yes.

Ben: I sous vide a brisket for Thanksgiving using Kenji Lopez’s recipe. Wow, was it good.
Keith Law: Sous vide is a game-changer. I didn’t use it this holiday, but that was mostly because I didn’t cook meat besides the turkey itself, which I spatchcocked and roasted.

Jim Nantz: Quick thoughts on the Doug Fister signing?
Keith Law: Yawn.

Arnold: Juiced baseballs aside, is MLB concerned about hgh? Versions now get out of your system in 72 hours. Take it after a Thursday night, clean by Monday…
Keith Law: Available research found no benefit to using HGH in men under age 50. It’s not magic.

RSO: Manny Machado for Gleyber Torres who says no?
Keith Law: I’m assuming the Orioles would, but that’s actually not a bad deal for them. Six years of a plus regular at short for one year of Machado? You ask for more, but it’s not a crazy deal.
Keith Law: Assuming Gleyber’s elbow is fine, and it should be.

Chris J: Any new (to you) boardgames you discovered and enjoyed at PAX Unplugged?
Keith Law: Majesty, Istanbul dice game, Ticket to Ride France, Ex Libris (review coming), Evolution app/video game, Seikatsu.

Jshep12: Is it Ohtani or Otani or O’tani?
Keith Law: Ohtani.

Jeff: Do you see the things Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose were accused of happening at ESPN?
Keith Law: We are prohibited from discussing internal company matters. I say this all the time, and people still ask.

Birddog: Highest probability of success: Chance Sisco, Austin Hays or Anthony Satander?
Keith Law: Sisco. Big positional advantage.

PHM: Better bat: Bregman or Devers? Thanks!
Keith Law: Hit only? Bregman.

Rahn: Presented for your comment: Huntington said last night the Pirates are hoping to show Otani that the team is a great option for him.
Keith Law: Good for them. Won’t happen, but still, good for them.

Raphael: Legitimate question: is it really so wrong to disqualify known PED users from the HOF (either by positive tests or other evidence like the Biogenesis case)? The media and generic public may exaggerate the effects of them, but they’re strictly against the rules and have a known profound effect on being able to recover from injuries and work outs quicker. (Though I’m definitely not advocating the amphetamines users be treated any differently, just that I don’t get the outrage over disqualifying known rule breakers)
Keith Law: So take Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, and Babe Ruth out. Also, amphetamines are PEDs. Saying otherwise is a false dichotomy.

Jackie: What went wrong with Mark Appel? Is he still salvageable?
Keith Law: Finished the year hurt. Hasn’t been the same since the half-year in Lancaster and changes Houston made to speed him up to the plate. There’s a causation question – did delivery changes wreck his command? lead to injury? or all separate? – but those are factors.

Brian: Trade: Padres trade Hand, Quantrill, Arias, De Los Santos To NYY for Gleybar. Who says no?
Keith Law: Yankee fan, eh?

Joe: Made no sense to protect Loaisiga, right? Only chance he has to make the majors is as a reliever now since he will run out of options if he continues to develop as a starter.
Keith Law: He would have been taken.

Chris: Am I insane to argue that categorizing pitchers as “closers” is ridiculous? People treat a pitcher that “closes” a game almost as a separate position, and teams not only sign players accordingly, but play them as such. If you’re the best pitcher coming out of the bullpen, you should be pitching in the highest-leveraged situations regardless of inning. It’s what a little-league coach does, so why should MLB be any different? I hear this non-stop in Chicago about replacing Wade Davis as a “closer” and it drives me crazy. [end of rant]
Keith Law: Relievers are just failed starters. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true: If you can throw even 150 major-league average innings, you’re going to start. You can have a hierarchy in your bullpen, but this elevation of the Proven Closer is how we end up with stupidity like Trevor Hoffman’s 28 WAR likely entering the Hall of Fame.

JPro06: When is/are you doing your top prospect lists next? End of the year or just before the season next year?
Keith Law: Late January. Same every year.

Rob: Do you think Robert Stephenson could stick in the Reds rotation this year and be successful? You were one of the first writers to say that he was a bullpen guy.
Keith Law: Don’t think I said that. Has three pitches to start, longtime trouble with command/control.

Giants Fan: How much credence do you give to the theory that stitching on the balls made WS pitching so ineffective?
Keith Law: Don’t believe it. The balls were not manufactured separately for the World Series (or the playoffs).

John: Why are voters and fans so eager to get behind closers for the HOF, but are so reluctant to get behind DHs? Someone like Edgar provides almost 100% of the value of a HOF position player, but Hoffman provides 50% of the value of a fringe HOF starting pitcher.
Keith Law: Because SAVEZ.

Chris: grimes vs. chvrches? who do you draft first?
Keith Law: Grimes has more upside. CHVRCHES higher floor. I’ll take Grimes.

Wally: It feels to me that the players, while paid well on a societal scale, don’t get enough of the total revenue pie in MLB. Do you think that’s right, and if yes and you had the ability to run the MLBPA, what would you do to address it?
Keith Law: Push for higher minimum salary, fight for protections for players from service-time manipulation to delay free agency or arbitration.

Andy: Where do you stand on the Bill James WAR argument about taking actual wins into account? I’m worried that it goes down a GWRBI rabbit hole pretty quickly.
Keith Law: That’s a hard no for me. Win Shares are dead. Leave them in the ground.

EL: Can Jose Miguel Fernandez help a team? I was surprised the Dodgers released him.
Keith Law: It was put him on the 40-man or release him. He should get a solid deal somewhere, probably a major league contract from somebody. Just no room on LAD’s roster, I guess.

Josh L: How hard will it be for the Braves to move Matt Kemp? Similar to the Upton/Kimbrel move a few years back? Does he have any value in the NL any longer?
Keith Law: Kemp has no value, period. I would release him.

Rob: Would you trade Raisel Iglesias if you were running the Reds at this stage of the rebuild? He should be able to net a nice return but they do not have many good bullpen options.
Keith Law: Yes. Unnecessary for rebuilding team to have a good ‘closer.’

Chris: Do I need to spend $1000 on a new, super-automatic espresso machine? i’m ok at the $500 mark, but I don’t want to sacrifice too much in taste or other things (ease of use, cleaning, etc.). It’s just for 2 people too.
Keith Law: I would not, and I love espresso and the machine I own.

Scott: What do you suggest to get away from the depressing crush of the news cycle? I enjoy using Twitter, but it also gives a lot of anxiety.
Keith Law: Get out of the house. Seriously – it’s easier to ignore the world, especially the online world, if you’re out doing stuff.

Drew: As the son of a lifelong foreign service officer, I can tell you that Tillerson has been far from competent. The State Department is in the worst shape I’ve seen it in 35 years, and officers current and retired are despondent with what Tillerson and Trump have done.
Keith Law: Thanks. So State is just like every other department, then. Yay us. Oh, and we’ve alienated most of our strongest allies, including the UK just this week over some retweets of fake news.

Marc: Will Xander’s lack of exit velocity mean he won’t get to 20 HRs?
Keith Law: This is exit velocity obsession. If your hands are injured, your exit velocity will be down.

Eric: Mussina not in the hall is my go to complaint about hall voters? is there another player that deserves or deserved enshrinement that voters didn’t get behind?
Keith Law: He is the best non-Bonds/Clemens player on the ballot. And those two guys have their baggage; he doesn’t.

Jason: Re: Ohteni, what if he insisted on being given 300 PA as a DH or position player? Even though you might not want to use him as a two-way player, he may still choose his team based on that criteria.
Keith Law: Are you willing to lie? Tell him he’ll get 500 AB, then change your mind in March? Such agreements are unenforceable.

Rahn: GM hat time: Should the Pirates deal Cole and/or McCutchen before the season begins to maximize value and recognize they’re in a phase of rebuild?
Keith Law: I would, and included both in my ‘trade market overview’ piece last month.

Andrew: Any thoughts on PAX Unplugged? How was the experience?
Keith Law: Had a blast. Brought my daughter to Kids’ Day on Sunday, and she didn’t want to leave (the show was closing, so we had no choice). Absolutely planning to attend again next year.

Matt: So what are the Yankees doing? It seems like they canned Girardi for the sake of canning him w/o giving nary a thought to whom the new manager will be.
Keith Law: I would agree with that outside assessment.

Mike (Toronto): Were/are you a fan of R.E.M.? With Automatic for the People’s 25th anniversary this month, I just wondered. I think they’re among the most important American bands ever (not that I’m trying to sway you).
Keith Law: Peak REM, yes, up to and including that album. Falloff from there was quick. Their 1980s output, which didn’t sell quite as well, was tremendous and I think remains influential today.

Brett: Are you of the opinion that sports gambling should be legal in all 50 states?
Keith Law: I don’t have a yes/no answer to that. I think such activities should generally be legal – gambling, prostitution, marijuana – but that they create externalities that require regulation. Gambling, especially casinos, leads to rises in bankruptcies, domestic violence, and other crimes. Who pays those costs?

Joe : Can the royals contend next year?
Keith Law: I can’t see how.

Ed: Love all of your work Keith. Is Hudson Potts being overlooked as a prospect ? At 18 he had the best fielding % in the MWL and clearly was able to make adjustments at the plate in the second half. What should we look for in High A this year as the numbers will be inflated in the Cal league? Increased patience at the plate?
Keith Law: Solid prospect but fielding percentage is beyond worthless for minor leaguers.

Todd: Was at the Braves season ticket deal today where McGuirk talked about a “Rogue Employee in the Dominican” today. I asked to be sure I heard it right but that’s what I heard. Thoughts ?
Keith Law: Someone needs to ask McGuirk what he knew and when he knew it.

Ryan: Would you recommend Ex Libris for fans of heavier games?
Keith Law: It’s medium-weight. I like it quite a bit.

Justin R: Wouldn’t the best Red Sox move be to find a low-cost 1B with some power and assume Benitendi/Betts/Boegaarts hit for more power in 2018?
Keith Law: Hosmer is a terrible fit for Boston; they need power and he has never slugged .500.

JR: I know there’s still a month left (which means 20 more books for you to read), but what were the 3-5 most enjoyable books you read this year?
Keith Law: I Contain Multitudes. Evicted. Betaball. The Erstwhile (part 2 of The Vorrh trilogy). The Fifth Season. Mister Monkey. The Underground Railroad. Not a Scientist. The Last Days of Night. The Cooperstown Casebook.

Justin R: What would be your ideal tax plan for the US?
Keith Law: I would prefer to see tax reform that simplifies the tax code, reducing the government’s cost to collect it and society’s cost to calculate and file it, rather than this current bill that is a giant sop to corporate and wealthy donors and that ignores the recent history of such tax cuts. (The GOP is tweeting how the JFK tax cut boosted the economy. They’re full of shit: The top marginal rate was 91% before that tax cut. It’s 39.6% today. That makes all the difference.)

Matt: What about cortisone shots? Players take them all the time yet no one says anything. It’s a steroid.
Keith Law: Of course. It’s a legal steroid. Is LASIK a PED? (PEP?) We draw arbitrary lines to suit our purposes.

Jshep12: Adderall is the most often prescribed amphetamine. 10% of MLB players are using it because it is prescribed for their ADHD. Only 4-6% of the population is prescribed this drug. Is this a problem? Is this a problem MLB can do anything about?
Keith Law: If you can go to Dr. Nick Riviera and get a diagnosis, and MLB grants you a therapeutic use exemption, you’re clear. They could crack down on TUEs, but I doubt they’d do so, or that the union would stand idly by.

Craig: Does Nate Pearson have a chance to make your next top 100 prospects?
Keith Law: No.

Jshep12: So, based on what you said about Hoffman, does Rivera deserve to be in the HOF?
Keith Law: These two are not comparable, and people who ask me this sort of question are guilty of not doing even the most basic homework. Rivera threw 194 more innings and gave up 32 fewer ER, despite pitching in the AL East. Hoffman spent his entire Padres’ career in pitchers’ parks, often with park factors at -10%. They’re not the same. If you think they’re the same or even close, then wake up – the saves fairy is just something your parents made up so you’d feel better about the 9th inning.

Rahn: Do you see the Pirates’ prospect pool thinning? And can you give me someone to keep my eye on this year that you will be monitoring as well?
Keith Law: The system as a whole had a down year; other than Keller, all their major guys stagnated or took steps backward. Still a lot of ability in the system, but they have numerous guys who’ll need a strong 2018 to maintain prospect value or stay on track for the majors.

Gorman: Why do you need three pitches to start, but only 2 to relieve?
Keith Law: Oversimplifying a little, but relievers don’t face batters twice in a game, and can generally survive with platoon splits where starters can’t. If you’re a starter and can’t get opposite-side hitters out consistently, well, you’re not a starter.

Phil: What is Gohara’s ultimate upside? He’s the best Braves pitching prospect I’ve seen during rebuild to-date IMO and by fairly large margin
Keith Law: #2 starter upside. And 350 pound upside too. Gotta worry about the long-term health there.
Keith Law: I love Gohara as a prospect though. That’s just pointing out the obvious downside.

Heather: Cardinals are planning on going with at least two rookies in their rotation (choose from among Flaherty, Reyes, and Weaver). Can you have two rookies pitching that much, and still consider yourself a true playoff contender?
Keith Law: Sure. Why not? Better question might be if those rookies are good enough, but I don’t see rookies as automatically worse than veterans.

Gorman: Not trying to be flippant on Kemp, but doesn’t he at least profile as a slightly above average player on offense?
Keith Law: I have his Fangraphs page open now. 0.0 Batting Runs, which is league average, but doesn’t account for position. For a corner outfielder, that’s below average. It’s below average for a DH too.

Adam Trask: Speaking of pitchers and running, I heard that Aroldis Chapman used to beat Billy Hamilton in spring training sprints. Could that be true?
Keith Law: I’ve heard that too. Also was told way back when that Clay Buchholz beat Jacoby Ellsbury in sprints in instructs.

Chris: Can we expect a year-end list for music this year? I miss your album reviews.
Keith Law: I do them every December after the winter meetings, because there’s still new music coming every Friday.

KEvin Bo: Hey Keith, how in the world does it make sense for the supposed cash strapped Mets to be thinking about allocating their “minimal” resources to a 1B. Why not let Smith play it out as a cheap homegrown option.
Keith Law: I wonder if that was meant to motivate Smith to work on conditioning, or if someone took a quote out of context. You’re right that it’s foolish, and also, the best thing they could do for all their young players is already done: They fired the manager.

Brett: Keith, I’ve always admired your intelligence, but your above comment to Drew has me shaking my head. Some person named “Drew” says the State Department is the worst it has been in 35 years, without citing any evidence to prove this claim, and you buy into it? Dangerous.
Keith Law: I ‘buy into it?’ Overreact much? This is a chat, not a fucking grand jury hearing.

Steve: Should Franken step down?
Keith Law: Yes. Conyers too. I don’t care how you’ll vote; if you assault, harass, or abuse women, you’re out.
Keith Law: And it’s never just one victim. We see this again and again – after the first Franken story, after the first Moore story – oh, it’s just one woman, she’s lying, it happened the one time so many years ago, but then other women feel empowered enough to come forward with their own stories of assaults.

Adam Trask: Do you have your best San Diego restaurant recommendations in one place?
Keith Law: I do indeed: http://klaw.me/29EChkJ I haven’t gotten to Herb & Wood yet but hear it’s wonderful. I’d also put a hard ‘no’ on Marea coffee.

Dallas: Yovani Gallardo threw a very good curveball when he was the Brewers best starter. He got cutter happy in Texas and went away from the curve. In 2017, he brought the curve back a little bit and it rated fairly well via FG pitch values (3.3). His fastball ticked up 1 MPH this year. If he went Rich Hill, curveball/fastball do you think this would work for him?
Keith Law: Maybe if he also moved to the extreme end of the rubber like Hill did? But for Hill it made him deadly vs LHB, who tend to have bigger platoon splits. Not sure it’d have the same benefit for a RHP.

AJ: Just wondering if you read baseball novels and if so, which ones do you recommend. I am a great fan of Roth’s “Great American Novel” (if you can get past the misogyny). Have heard very good things about “The Celebrant.”
Keith Law: Don’t care for baseball in fiction. I read very little sports content for leisure; that is work, and I don’t like work to come into my hobbies.

Justin R: Have you seen “A Handmaid’s Tale”? Any interest?
Keith Law: Loved the book (and cringed through it). Not sure I would enjoy a long series of that.

Rahn: Top Chef is coming up. Still excited, even though recent seasons have played up the cheftestants squabbles and irritating behavior more than the food? And I saw that John Besh is still on the season description. I guess you can’t drop him from an episode of reality contest TV after it’s been shot. Will be interesting to see how they handle that gross guy’s presence.
Keith Law: I didn’t love the last season, and I’m just not going to watch a Besh episode at all.

Keith Law: If only there were some way to change that …

Drew: As a response to Brett: I speak from anecdotal evidence, and know a large number of Foreign Service Officers who have worked under various administrations, serving their country regardless of which party was in office. They are feeling incredibly downtrodden right now, in large part because the President has no understanding of, or interest in learning about global affairs. Add to that the number of positions open and career public servants being pushed out of their positions, and it’s bleak.
Kim Last: My dad works for the State Dept and he said morale is much better than the last 8 years and things are going great.
Keith Law: So, I’m not vetting comments for authenticity. Do with these what you will.

Chris: What’s one band/singer that is no longer together/alive that you never saw live that you wish you could have?
Keith Law: Soul Coughing.

Jerome: No one actually paid a 91% tax rate in the 50s, so well done with the red herring
Keith Law: Politifact disagrees with you: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/15/bernie-… Also, the point is not the specific 91%, but that the benefit of cutting the top marginal rate is intrinsically connected to the actual top marginal rate before the cut.

Andre: What’s your take on the criticism of those who are saying women have taken too long to come out with accusations of sexual assault? I held my tongue at some Thanksgiving gatherings–and got upset at others–but I find it abhorrent that anyone would suggest that any amount of time is too long to be credible.
Keith Law: A woman I went to HS with was defending Matt Lauer (after the first accusation … see above for how that works) by saying she had it in for him by coming forward now. I might have lost my shit. Victims are traumatized. They may fear retaliation. They may feel shame or blame themselves. They may wish to just move on with their lives. IT IS NOT UP TO US TO SAY WHEN A VIC TIM IS ALLOWED TO COME FORWARD. Praise the women who do, but support the ones who don’t.

Ethan: I opened Matt Kemp’s same FanGraphs page because I love actual examples to try and understand these advanced ideas, so can you help explain this–why does Kemp have such large negative values across the line (Batting, Fielding, Base Running, etc.), but “only” a -.5 WAR. It doesn’t add up to me.
Keith Law: I believe those double-count the positional adjustment.
Keith Law: Also, those Runs figures are averages, WAR is vs replacement level.

Chris: So you’re a grad assistant receiving a stipend for tuition, and under the new tax bill the amount of tuition (which can hit $80,000/yr) will now be taxed. Just lovely.
Keith Law: Yep. Because the last thing we would want as a country is a more educated populace.
Keith Law: That seems like the right way to end this chat. Look for the Ohtani column on Saturday and a Lady Bird review here later today. I should be back to chat next week before the winter meetings, likely on Thursday.
Keith Law: Thanks as always for reading and for all of your questions. Have a safe weekend!

Klawchat 11/16/17.

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Keith Law: Take one for the team; you’re a cog in the machine. It’s Klawchat.

Dr. Bob: Hey there, Keith. The NL ROY was obvious. I was curious about your second and third place votes since they went against the grain of other voters. Not a complaint. Can you educate us as to your reasons?
Keith Law: I was floored to see all the votes for Josh Bell – a fine player, but worth under a win because 1) he’s a first baseman and 2) he’s a *terrible* first baseman. It’s 2017; we know position matters and we know defense matters. I’m not saying my ballot was ‘right,’ but Margot was clearly worth more than Bell, thanks to defense/position, and he’s over a year younger to boot. Hoskins was worth more than Bell too, and there you’ve got the direct positional comparison. There was a clear #1, and there wasn’t really anyone in the NL who was a clear #2, or someone you’d say “well, if Bellinger hadn’t won, this guy would have probably won it.” But the downballot totals didn’t make much sense to me.

Nick: Turkey question: How would you approach seasoning a turkey that’s been dry brined and spatchcocked? I’m thinking unsalted herb butter during the cooking process?
Keith Law: I cook it at high temp with nothing else on it (just put water in the roasting pan so it doesn’t smoke), then leave seasoning to the gravy. At 425-450 I’d be concerned about burning any butter on or in the bird.

Casey: Do the Cardinals go with Paul DeJong as their opening day starter at SS? If so what are the chances he’s an average regular there?
Keith Law: I’m fairly sure they will; I’d probably say 33% chance.

Nick: Do you podcast often? If so, what are you’re favorites (I’m big on Radiolab)?
Keith Law: Grierson & Leitch’s movie podcast; The Hidden Brain; Joe Sheehan’s podcast. That’s it right now. I always listen while doing something else – driving, mowing, cooking/cleaning.

Casey: Which Cardinals SP prospect has the highest ceiling…Hicks or Alcantara?
Keith Law: Hicks.

Adam: Thoughts on the Anthoupolos hire in ATL? Did you work with him in Toronto?
Keith Law: I did, for 2+ years, and remain a huge fan. I think it was a perfect hire, someone with a great track record, lots of respect around the industry, and a philosophy that should dovetail well with their existing amateur scouting practices. They made the best of a terrible situation.

Eric: By Monday, we’ll find out if Tony Clark wants to toss a monkeywrench into Ohtani’s plans or not. Predict for us – will a posting agreement be reached?
Keith Law: I’ll predict yes, but if this deal doesn’t pay Ohtani fairly, I’d rather the answer be no. Why let the Yankees (for example) pay $5 million for a player worth $25 million-plus a year when they can clearly afford it.

Ben: Thoughts on Vieira going to the Sox?
Keith Law: Seen him 3x. 98-102 with well below average command and no average second pitch. Have seen a CB (awful) and slider (below average). Big arm strength guy. Fine pickup for international money, but high chance he never produces any value in the majors given the command issues.

Adam: So what’s the story on Andres Munoz? Are we looking at a guy with potential to be a high-leverage reliever/ future “closer?”
Keith Law: The Padres’ teenager? Yes, that’s the most likely outcome. Very hard to see him ever becoming a starter.

Dan: Will it be Stanton/Altuve tonight?
Keith Law: That’s my expectation.

Dana: Looks like Gleyber will compete for 3B and Didi won’t be traded. Time for the Yanks to extend Didi?
Keith Law: I’ve said before I think this wastes Gleyber’s defensive value.

Adam: How many picks have to work out for a draft class to be a success? Or is it more about nailing 1 superstar than a handful of role players?
Keith Law: If you get a superstar, it’s hard for anyone to argue it was a bad class … but I think any class should be judged in the context of both the picks a team had and the caliber of the class overall. So the Rays’ 2011 class, with 7 picks in the first ~80 or so, would be judged against a higher standard than a draft where a team didn’t pick until round 2 or 3.

Adam: If you ever get a Manager of the Year vote, what basis would you use to decide who you’ll vote for?
Keith Law: I had one once. I called a bunch of GMs and other front office folks in the league and asked what they thought. I don’t think there are valid, objective criteria for that award. “They won more games than we thought they would” is a terrible proxy.

Jim: Which of the Cardinals 7 or so outfielders do you see most likely to get dealt?
Keith Law: Feels like Grichuk, Mercado, O’Neill could all be available. Wonder if they’d sell low on Piscotty; I wouldn’t. I’ve always believed he could hit.

Alex: Do you believe Stanton will actually get traded? If so, who would you guess it would be to?
Keith Law: I have said for months I think it’s unlikely – that is an enormous contract with huge risk given his injury history.

Jack: Ohtani have ace potential? 3-4 plus pitches?
Keith Law: He’s a #1 starter here.

Perry: If you’re not doing a write-up, can you give us your thoughts on the Ryon Healy trade?
Keith Law: (yawn)

Juwan: How do you view the Robles v Acuna debate (and by debate I mean petty squabbling between their respective fan bases)? They both look like future stars, do you view one more highly than the other?
Keith Law: I’ll have to put one over the other when I rank prospects in January. There are no ties.

Carlo: What role do you think Luiz Gohara ultimately fills? Thanks!
Keith Law: Starter.

Nelson: What do you hope to acheive by responding to tweets like Aubrey Huff’s? You know that theres no chance youll make any impression on him, right?
Keith Law: I had no intention or expectation of changing his mind. I want to provide a factual rejoinder for any other readers who might see his tweets. If you don’t fight ignorance or falsehoods, they spread.

Alex A: So there are rumors that the Braves are going to lose prospects. I personally don’t believe Maitan will be one of them but what do you think? If you had to put a percentage chance on it, what would it be?
Keith Law: From what I heard this summer, losing Maitan wouldn’t be the devastating blow it might have seemed a year ago. As for what will happen, it really depends on what the infractions were, and I really have no idea what gossip to believe any more. Earlier this week, I had one source tell me he heard the infractions were deep on the draft side as well as amateur … and an hour later, someone else called and said he heard the amateur side wasn’t involved at all.

John: When a high level exec is hired out of a big time analytics operation like LA, how much of the organizational “secret sauce” can they feasibly or legally bring with them? I’d imagine any actual models are proprietary, but it’s not like he can just forget player valuations or concepts, right?
Keith Law: I believe that’s part of what gets people hired from other orgs – you’re brought on because of who you are and because of what you know.

Mike: Do you think there is any chance the Rockies turn first base over to McMahon next year? Bonus question: odds Helton is one-and-done in hall of fame balloting on a crowded ballot?
Keith Law: They should, and I don’t think he’ll be one and done but I don’t think he’ll get in either.

Jake: What would the Padres signing Hosmer accomplish? They already have Myers (you can debate who’s better but I’d argue that the difference isn’t worth what Hosmer would cost) and I feel like they would be smarter to go after positions of need (SP, SS). Besides, if you’re willing to spend that much, just go for Ohtani IMO. Thanks.
Keith Law: Makes zero sense. Terrible use of limited funds for them.

Meadow Party: Thoughts on Austin Meadows? I think he can rebound from injuries. Would an offensive profile similar to prime Hunter Pence be realistic? More/less?
Keith Law: Can’t project him to Pence’s power until he starts driving the ball more consistently.

Jon: Sandy Alderson on Dom Smith: “He didn’t win it [Starting 1B job] in September, let’s put it that way.” Will go into ST competing for the gig….what to even make of this?
Keith Law: My hope is that this is a motivational tactic; I know there were questions about his work ethic in the big leagues, and of course he has to keep an eye on the scale as well. My fear is that they’re overreacting to two mediocre months and ignoring the previous body of work (and his age).

Steve: Does one WS title validate trading of Torres, Jimenez, Candelario?
Keith Law: Yes. Is this even a question?

Nils: Hi Keith, loved your book. It got me thinking about prospect evaluation. We always hear about a “5 tool prospect”, where hitting is always one of the important tools. But if a .230 hitter (with poor hit tool) can get on base at a .330 clip, and a .300 hitter (with a great hit tool) also gets on base at .330, then shouldn’t plate discipline be a 6th tool? Or is it viewed less important with a prospect with the idea it can be learned?
Keith Law: Plate discipline is seen as a skill rather than a physical tool, but at this point, it’s on many scouting report forms anyway and the five-tool rubric is a bit of an anachronism.

Justin: Did the A’s get enough for Healy? I know he is a liability in the field, but a relief pitcher doesn’t seem like a great return for a competent bat under team control
Keith Law: Liability in the field and poor OBP skills.

Joseph P: Are there any prospects from the 2017 Draft that have surprised you or is the sample size too small to mean anything?
Keith Law: Too small for most guys. I will say I was pleased to see the Twins push Brent Rooker, who turned 23 two weeks ago, to high-A out of the draft, and to see Rooker respond with very strong results in 160 or so AB there.

Jeff: Brandon Woodruff a solid mid-rotation guy? Chance to be more?
Keith Law: That’s about right.

Jibraun: Every team seemingly now has a “Quality Control Coach,” but none of them can seem to give a clear delineation of the job duties. Can you clear it up?
Keith Law: I don’t know of any standardized description of that role.

Nate: Do you have (or know people in the industry that have) any concerns about Michael Fulmer for next season? Looked to be pitching hurt his final handful of starts. Rest all that is/was needed?
Keith Law: He was hurt. Elbow injury. Supposed to be fine for spring training.

KLawGod: I’ve heard a lot of people blaming the MLBPA during this whole Otani situation. As someone who is not familiar with their role, why are they at fault here in the situation? I thought the MLBPA is advocating for Otani so why are they catching flack?
Keith Law: The MLBPA was involved in the CBA negotiations, and didn’t fight to carve out any sort of protection for Ohtani or players like him, probably because he’s not a union member and any money spent on him would, in theory, not be spent on union members. However, the clearest beneficiary of the cap is the team that signs him, and you would like to think the union would recognize that even if Ohtani isn’t currently a member, the moment he signs a contract here he will be one, and the more he’s paid the more it bumps up the top end of the starting pitcher salary scale.

Eric: Griffin Conine or Seth Beer?
Keith Law: Leaning Conine, but that’s based more on secondhand reports.

Xavier: When you were in college, what did you envision yourself doing for the rest of your life?Did you ever consider becoming an investment banker or entering the finance industry in any way?
Keith Law: I did not. Many classmates did. I heard the hours those people were working and I was very not interested.

Greg: True or False: The Red Sox Opening Day 1B will be Sam Travis
Keith Law: False.

Aaron Boone: Do you have any particular opinion on Aaron Boone’s potential as a manager?
Keith Law: He’s never managed, right? So we just don’t know.

Gene Mullett: Kershaw, Kluber, Scherzer, & Sale really seem to be the elite of MLB arms & have been for a while now. With the exception of Strasburg’s health & Verlander’s hit-or-miss seasons, which SP do you think is most capable of joining them?
Keith Law: Archer has the potential – the stuff, the athleticism, the intelligence – to join them, but has never had the consistent command for it. Carlos Carrasco might be the next tier, but he’s quietly been excellent for a few years now.

Seath: ok last question. If Maitan is one of the prospects that is forfeited by the Braves how would his FA work (or any lost prospect for that matter)? Would teams need to use their International pool money or is it a free for all?
Keith Law: Precedent says it’ll be IFA money, under the cap. But he’d keep his previous bonus, so he’s protected.

Stanton: Given that Stanton was a 7.5 win player last year and is essentially payed at or under market value aren’t the Marlins right to ask for the moon in return?
Keith Law: They can ask for whatever they want, but he was a 2-win player in 2016, and I don’t believe he’d get 10 years and $290 million in free agency this winter. Not a chance.

Gene Mullett: What album(s) is/are on your household heavy rotation lately?
Keith Law: Beck, INHEAVEN, Hundred Waters, Portugal. The Man, Death from Above.

Mike Mott: I’m cooking turkey for the first time for my Friendsgiving. Any advice? I’ve been told brining is a must.
Keith Law: I’ve brined with success, but the last three years I’ve spatchcocked the bird and “dry brined” (really, salted) instead.

Jeremy: I think it is safe to say there are waaaaaay more powerful people, particularly in politics, who are serial abusers, than we can even imagine. What ticks me off the most, is that Congress has a special fund, made up entirely of taxpayer dollars, that is specifically to take care of settlements in legal complaints against our representatives. Aren’t these guys all rich enough to take care of their own business?
Keith Law: Yes, and they’re powerful enough to make us take care of their business. I agree, there are WAY more of these cases coming, in politics (both parties, so please, stop the partisan whining), entertainment, business, and sports.

Ryan: Thoughts on Urias? There seems to be a wide spectrum. With his bat I can see the ceiling as an above average 2B competing for batting titles year in and year out.
Keith Law: I’m a fan. I don’t really care about batting average titles, but Urias can hit.

John: I know conventional wisdom is not to trade within your division, but if you were Jeter, would it make sense to find a partner for Stanton in the Braves/Mets/Phillies? If he’s good, he probably opts out before you’re competitive and if he’s not, it’s a long term hamstring for whoever ends up with him.
Keith Law: That conventional wisdom is stupid. Of course they should explore in-division trades … but the Mets aren’t touching a contract like that.

Drew: With his second consecutive, and third overall, Cy Young, do you think Scherzer is a Hall of Famer? I admittedly can be a bit of a Nats homer, but was surprised that Boswell wrote that “Cooperstown talk is a long way off because Max was a bit of a late bloomer who became good in 2010, then great by ’13 as he added a curveball to his repertoire.” Your thoughts?
Keith Law: Ask me this after Mussina is elected.

David: Hi Keith, You mentioned on Twitter that Beltran should make the Hall of Fame. I agree. He was a tremendous player with a great career. I noticed his career WAR and JAWS totals were similar to Kenny Lofton (about a 1 WAR difference on B-R over their careers and peak). Why do you think Lofton never got a push? Was it simply a lack of power in a power-heavy era?
Keith Law: Yes, and that Lofton moved around a lot so he didn’t have a fan base or local writers stumping for him.

David: What do you see as the future for Jordan Luplow? Everyday player? 4th OF? More? Less?
Keith Law: Fourth OF.

Mattey: You’re aware of the beautiful baseball stadium slated for demolition in Camden. I think it’s obvious that an affiliated minor league team would have much better there than the independent league that was there, but is that right? How much would having an affiliated team there hurt Phillies ticket sales?
Keith Law: Don’t think it’d hurt at all. Might even help, as fans would have a better chance to see prospects on their way up.

Russ: Define projectability. We have a 13yo outfielder/2nd baseman who is already 5’9 and 163. He’ll naturally add height and mass as he gets older, but does he want to leave room for “projectability” or get as strong / athletic as possible……….
Keith Law: I am not a fan of kids that young doing heavy weight training to get bigger. I doubt we know the consequences of that over the long term. Just stay in shape and have fun.

Michael Izen: Hi Keith, which team do you think will land Otani, and how much of an impact will he make on that team?
Keith Law: No idea who’ll land him.

Richard: Do you still think Ohtani’s hitting is being way overhyped?
Keith Law: Absolutely. But facts don’t matter much any more, do they?

DHugh: If Ohtani comes to the MLB this off-season, would it be permissible for a team to promise that they’d release him to free agency after a year or two?
Keith Law: MLB has made it clear they’d consider that a violation of the rules. After the Atlanta imbroglio I doubt anyone would flaunt the Commissioner’s authority so brazenly.

tom: My eleven year old granddaughter has become fanatical about baseball. When asked what she wants to do when she grows up she answers,”I am going to Yale to study economics so I can train to be a GM”. Can you recommend any books that will provide her a better understanding of the dynamics of a baseball game as well as the construction of a team. While very bright, she is just eleven years old with the expected math skills for that age. Thanks. Tom PS – she chooses Yale over Harvard, because her dad is an alum.
Keith Law: I don’t know of many books on the topic – if you’re here, then you probably know about my book – but I’d certainly suggest Moneyball too, even with its flaws. Also, tell her she should study whatever subject she loves. Economics isn’t necessary or even that useful for this sport.

Jason: Given the statistics on how rare false accusations are (and how many victims stay silent), what would it take for you not to believe an accuser of sexual violence/harassment?
Keith Law: That’s a good question without an easy answer. Certainly, if the accused can produce evidence that, say, he wasn’t in that place at that time, or something else that’s clearly disproof, that would settle it. But you’re right about how rare false claims are.

Pat D: Hate to ask this, but what’s your guess on how many people use the Franken story to justify/excuse/outright ignore the Roy Moore story?
Keith Law: I don’t follow any alt-right nitwits on Twitter, but that stuff shows up in my feed anyway, and I’m seeing a lot of that nonsense. Here’s a real hot take: Franken should resign immediately. Maybe we should just go with a Senate of 100 women instead.

Greg: What’s your outlook on Gregory Polanco? Was he just constantly hurt last year? Or has he maybe taken a step backward?
Keith Law: Seems to be a lot going wrong – not healthy, but not as selective as he was, and not making hard enough contact either. The disconnect between his physical ability and his major league performance is huge. I can’t give up on that talent, but perhaps the Pirates need to find a different coach to work with him.

Dennis: Best choice for Angels to fill the chasm at second? Sign Neil Walker? Trade for Kinsler or Gordon? Convince Cozart to switch to second?
Keith Law: Lots of 2b available now – Gordon would be the best fit if they can afford him (in prospects).

Justin Y: Rumors were flying around of a Melancon/Heyward swap. Worth the risk for the Giants? Play him in CF.
Keith Law: Andy Baggarly said it was nonsense.

Jim: How long will it take AA to make a move or two in Atlanta? At some point, they have to start trading prospects for ML talent, right?
Keith Law: Knowing Alex, I’m kind of stunned he didn’t make three trades before leaving Orlando.

Jim: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food to cook that doesn’t contain any dead animals?
Keith Law: Dead animals can be delicious. But my Thanksgiving menu is typically turkey, two stuffings (one with chicken stock, one with andouille sausage), and then a LOT of vegetables. I roast 2-3 pounds of Brussels sprouts at high temp and toss them in a sweet and sour sauce; that’s often a big hit and it scales well for the crowd.

Adam Trask: Does Al Franken’s apology matter, or should we throw him out, too?
Keith Law: I thought the apology was weak – but does an apology unring the bell? Does it un-violate the victim? There are plenty of candidates out there who didn’t grope anyone. Step aside for one of them instead.

JR: At my kids 10u game last Friday, the pitcher for the opposing team threw 99!! pitches over 5 innings. It was the second game of a double header and after the fact we found out he had thrown an inning in their first game, so between in game and warm up pitches, etc, he probably threw around 150 pitches that day. Our team was literally in shock that they had him throw so many pitches. Crazy what adults will do too young kids to win game. Sadly, the tournament has an innings limit for each kid, but not a pitch count, so they didn’t break any rules.
Keith Law: You should approach the tournament directors and push for a rule change, then.

Dr. Rob: Which player from the 70’s or 80’s do you think should be in the HOF that would surprise the most people? For me it’s Bobby Grich.
Keith Law: Whitaker is my main guy, but I agree on Grich and also Trammell.

Andrew Vargha: How much stock do you put into 1st time through the order stats when projecting how a starter could be as a reliever?
Keith Law: Not a ton because we expect a pitcher’s stuff to tick up in a relief role. It’s more that a pitcher who struggles the 2nd/3rd time through is probably not going to work out as a starter.

Alex: After seeing/hearing about Austin Riley – don’t you think 3rd base should be what AA targets this offseason?
Keith Law: I would explore it, but you can only acquire what’s available, and I don’t think 3b is that strong (not like 2b, which is deep).

Foster: In the Verlander trade, the Tigers had to pay a reported $8 mil. a year of his salary to get Perez, Cameron, and Rogers. At the deadline, if the Yankees paid all of Verlander’s salary, but insisted on sending back Ellsbury, how much of Ellsbury’s salary and what prospects would the Yankees have had to send to complete the deal? Thanks.
Keith Law: I really can’t answer that at all. I’d just be making shit up. But I should point out that any team below Houston in the standings could have just claimed Verlander on trade waivers, even to block him, but didn’t. That alone may have been the difference between Houston winning the World Series and them losing in any of the three rounds of the playoffs, especially the last two.

Doug: I read an article last week that the Sox are thinking about trying Chavis at 2B. Does he had enough range to be passable there?
Keith Law: Worth a try. Don’t think it’ll work, but it’s a good experiment.

Brad: I’m a college student that loves board games but I don’t find video games enjoyable. One of my other three roommates have the same view as I do, but the other two won’t even give them a chance. Is there anything I can do to convince them?
Keith Law: Boardgames inspired by videogames? X-COM is out. Fallout is coming. Seeing more of these as we go along.

BrandonW: Part of me is like “good on the Twins for being transparent about an issue with Marte that can be tested and proven” and another part is “are they allowed to disclose this? Are there HIPAA issues at play?” Thoughts?
Keith Law: He’s not a citizen – does that matter? I don’t know any specifics of HIPAA. Maybe it would have gotten out anyway.

Brad: Can you explain the new tax law they’re trying to pass? I had a professor come in my class and said that it was very good for America, and that it would help all of us college students with finding a job, because more jobs would be created. I just don’t understand it and everyone seems to have an agenda these days.
Keith Law: I doubt I could do a bill that complex justice here, but that professor seems to have given you a very one-sided view that isn’t supported by the history of such tax cuts. Trickle-down economics hasn’t worked; the top marginal rate in the US and the effective corporate tax rate are low enough by global standards that cutting them hasn’t led to the sort of growth proponents have promised.

John: Long term- Kevin Maitan or Vlad Jr.?
Keith Law: Vlad Jr. Not even close. Maitan might not be a top 100 prospect any more; Vlad is top 10.

Leroy: Now that Alex Cora is a manager, who will be your new top recommendation for manager jobs?
Keith Law: That should be my new offseason project – finding the next Alex Coras out there.

KJohn: Just curious how much time you spend on baseball-related matters? A 40 hour week would be about 2,000 hours/year, with intermittent peaks and valleys. How does your time investment compare?
Keith Law: Dunno. My days are so unstructured that it would be hard to count it. I’m certainly not working 9-5 on baseball each day.

Elton: Hello Keith. I think you were the first source from which I heard about the allegations about Louis CK. You must have seen Michael Schur’s apology regarding this. I’m very conflicted and ashamed myself as a (former) big fan of CK who was hoping the stories were somehow not true. Do you think this extraordinary cultural moment where men are being held more accountable will spread to athletes, when so many of them have seemed to continue unscathed after allegations of serious sexual misconduct?
Keith Law: I really hope so. Because you KNOW this is happening across sports. But the handful of times that women have come forward, they’ve had their lives torn apart. Look at Jameis Winston’s accusers – and, by the way, he skated on everything. In the time you asked that question, Jerry Jones signed three more players with histories of violence.

Bobby: Keith – First, as always, thanks so much. I look forward to these chats every week. I don’t want the Yanks to sell low on Betances – particularly if they are at least going to try Green in the rotation – but it is hard to have someone who, while generally dominant, has 2-3 periods during a season where he just loses his mechanics. What would you do w him if you’re Cash?
Keith Law: I’d consider moving him because the bullpen is such a strength for them and he’s superfluous – and could be a closer option for a team that doesn’t want to spend on a Wade Davis. Related: I don’t like moving Chad Green back to the rotation.

Jacob: Should Roy Moore win the special election, and there is a strong chance he will, will you publicly blast Alabamans for sticking behind an obvious pervert….or will you admit that there are many Democrat policies that are so unappealing to many people that they would rather vote for a pedophile than a Democrat?
Keith Law: What policies would those be? I’m genuinely curious. Incidentally, if I had a comparable choice here, I’d simply abstain. I wouldn’t vote for someone who did what Moore has done even if I agreed with all of his policy plans.

Bobby: Again, love the chats. Thanks. Best side dish for Thanksgiving? Also, do you think a sous vide machine is a good purchase or not necessary? If so, which one do you recommend? Finally, Yanks next manager – guess as to who?
Keith Law: Definitely not necessary but very fun to have. Anova is what I own and the only one I’ve used. Best side dish … depends on what you like. I have a mac & cheese recipe here on the site. I mentioned the Brussels sprouts. I really try to jazz up the vegetable sides, because people say they want turkey and starches, but you can only shove so much of that into your stomach before you want to curl up and die.

Andy: Isn’t there a concern with the Braves about their position player prospects? There aren’t many after Acuna and they are about to take away Maitan, Gutierrez, Severino potentially.
Keith Law: Hi, I’m Keith Law, President of the Cristian Pache Fan Club. Can I come in and show you some literature on this fine young centerfielder? I promise it’ll only take two to three hours.

G: Being a Pirates fan, after watching Pelotero, I was no longer comfortable rooting for their acquisition methods in Latin America. The dismissal of Rene Gayo seems like a move in the right direction, but ultimately, is there a way to compete for LA talent while still playing fair, or is the problem systemic?
Keith Law: If MLB enforces its rules, we might see a real sea change in practices down there – but they must keep in mind that impoverished players have nothing to lose by breaking the rules. You police the teams, not the players.

Another Cody: Cody Carrol has gotten hype from the AFL – is he a future big leaguer?
Keith Law: Great arm. Definite big league reliever for me.

James: Given how few free agents actually live up to their contracts why are teams so willing to give out long term contracts? In your opinion did capping the draft and international free agents actually hurt small market teams because it limited the talent they could bring in and develop?
Keith Law: It’s a constrained market: Teams have lots of money to spend and strong incentive to spend it to win now, but the pool of players on which they can spend freely is always limited. The players who’d be the best investments rarely reach free agency. And yes, those caps hurt low-revenue/low-payroll teams the most.

Patty O’Furniture: Nice use of imbroglio
Keith Law: My sesquipedalian proclivity comes in handy at times.

Drew: Follow up to my Scherzer question: I *completely* agree with you about Mussina. Do you think he makes it there eventually?
Keith Law: I do. He’s going to be the next cause celebre for those of us who pick causes celebres for the Hall.

Joe: Can you explain how position affects the defensive side of WAR? I’ve tried reading about it but don’t completely understand. Is it bumped up or down depending on what position one plays?
Keith Law: Think of it this way: All MLB first baseman, in aggregate, hit .265/.347/.487 in 2017. All MLB shortstops hit .264/.319/.416. Therefore, to be an above-average hitter for a first baseman, you must hit above that mark … which would make you a superstar hitter for a shortstop. An above-average hitter at shortstop could still be a below-average hitter at first base. Positional adjustments take this into account: The standard varies by position.

JR: Thoughts on Bitcoin? Do you own or staying away?
Keith Law: Don’t own any.

Dr. Bob: If every powerful male who abused women loses his job, there’s going to be a lot turnover in politics, top levels of business, sports, etc.
Keith Law: I’m good with that.

Sal: Sorry if this is too personal, but could you talk about your daily routine a little? For example do you read eary in the morning? I’m trying to increase my productivity.
Keith Law: My routine varies more than it should, depending on how much sleep I get. But I do like writing first thing, after I drop my daughter off, because it seems to get my brain going.

Johnny O: If you’re hiring a new manager with a team that is young and at least 50% Hispanic, how much importance would you place on finding a candidate who speaks Spanish? Or is that a factor if you have two equally qualified candidates but one of them is bilingual?
Keith Law: I’d consider Spanish skills a requirement for a managing job at any level of the system, from complex leagues on up.

Chris J: What do you expect from Julio Urias going forward?
Keith Law: I’d be surprised if he pitches again.

Steve: That should be *flouts* the commissioner’s authority. Flaunting it would be the opposite.
Keith Law: You are correct; they’d be flaunting their flouting, so to speak.

Frankie: Francis Martes — does he still have a future as a starter?
Keith Law: Not impossible; more likely a reliever for me, but far from certain.

Tom: I have a product I spent a lot of money on but now I don’t like the company. So I’m going to smash said product to smithereens even though the company already has my money cause that’ll learn em. That’s how this works, right?
Keith Law: I was so torn, because Keurigs are awful for the environment, and they make terrible coffee (the grounds are stale by the time you brew that cup), but my God was it funny to see the reactions. And, by the way, no one seemed to want to admit that Hannity claimed on air that a 14-year-old could consent to sexual contact, which is false.

Carl: Did you know Ingenious is no longer available for purchase on the App Store? That game got me through several long plane trips!
Keith Law: I didn’t – that’s a bummer. Maybe I can talk to some industry contacts about bringing it back. I think the company that did Caylus went under too.

Jay: Garvey Murphy Trammel Morris Whitaker Bill Madlock all 80s guys that got so little respect from HOF
Keith Law: Well, Garvey, Morris, and Madlock are all well below the line. Dale Murphy is a tougher one: he had a Hall of Fame peak without the longevity.

Buck: I keep seeing good reports on Austin Riley in the AFL. SSS, or could there be a little bit of a breakout here?
Keith Law: I saw him. Same guy at the plate. AFL stats aren’t useful, given the small sample, good hitting environment, and highly variable levels of competition. He has improved defensively since 2016, though – I saw it, and I have heard the same from scouts who saw him this year too.

sk: Will Hunter Renfroe ever hit for average in the majors?
Keith Law: Gotta hit or lay off the slider away for that to happen.

Sam: Are the critical reports on Maitan accurate? or a little over the top being that he’s a 17 year old playing just one season over here. Also how much time does Blake Rutherford have before people start to grumble that he could be a bust?
Keith Law: I’ve heard a lot of reports about his body that I think were over the top, but his swing looks awful now. Rutherford is probably at that point now. Another bad year and he’ll get written off. (Not without reason, given his age.)

Brian: Will you do a Periscope this year as you prep your bird?
Keith Law: Absolutely. I get requests for this every November.

addoeh: People always bring up Duke lacrosse as a counterpoint to any sexual assault claim. But in addition to a single accuser who made it up, there was also a DA, Mike Nifong, who made many serious prosecutorial errors that weren’t uncovered until later. If Nifong had done his job, we probably never hear about it.
Keith Law: Agreed. Or an ethical DA (I think Nifong was disbarred for his actions?) might have uncovered lesser crimes that didn’t become a national news story.

Jesse: Mastodon’s Emperor of Sand a candidate for your top 10 albums this year?
Keith Law: I liked it, doubt it makes my top 10 offhand.

Brian: Pressure cooker or slow cooker?
Keith Law: Pressure cooker.

Jim: How do you come up with your opening statement for Klawchat?
Keith Law: Tends to be from a song I heard in the last week.

Dennis: Funner read: Don Quixote or The Count of Monte Cristo?
Keith Law: Monte Cristo by far. It’s a hell of an adventure.

Jason: What’s Pache’s ETA? And assuming the Braves move Inciarte before he’s ready, who is the better defensive CF between Pache and Acuna?
Keith Law: Three years away. Pache might be a 70 defender now.

Bryce Harper: Keith Hernandez: Hall of Famer?
Keith Law: Not for me.

Brent: If you’re the White Sox, it’s a smart move to trade your intl cash for Vieira? That arm and Cooper, it’s not crazy to hope for another Kahnle type, no?
Keith Law: Sure. I don’t mind the trade. But I don’t think he’s a great prospect. He might not be top 20 in that system now.

Lance: Were you classmates of Radhika Jones? Know her?
Keith Law: Don’t know her. I think she was ’95.

Ham Bone: With all the allegations of sexual assault, how is Peyton Manning not brought up again. He is still the face of State Farm and Papa John’s.
Keith Law: Because no one believes women who accuse athletes.

Jackie: Dwight Evans was much better at baseball than Jim Rice. And Dewey didn’t snub my autograph request when I was eleven …
Keith Law: Evans had a legit HoF case but didn’t have any hack writers stumping for him.

Vince: Mixed feelings about the situation in Zimbabwe. Mugabe was a tyrant, but military rule is almost never the answer. Thoughts?
Keith Law: Same. Mugabe’s reign of terror has impoverished the country, though. Unless they fall into anarchy like Somalia, it’s hard to fathom anything being worse.

JP: can Profar still be an above-average regular with a change of scenery?
Keith Law: I think so. Would love to see him get the chance.

Ty: Hi Keith! Shouldn’t baseball make teams at minimum ask teams to bid draft picks for Ohtani? Seems insane that they are letting a player send $100M-$200M in surplus value to one lucky team. Obviously, the better solution is to declare him a free agent which would take care of the surplus value question.
Keith Law: That’s an interesting idea. Detroit picks first; what if MLB said hey, you can take him, today, and pay him #1 pick slot, but give up that pick? If they pass, go to the next team. That’s crazy and impossible and I kind of love it.

Iowa Cowtipper: I’m glad that the many sexual assaulters are finally being exposed and agree that most accused are guilty. Still, I’m troubled by the rush to judgement that follows accusations today. I fear a new Macarthyism of sorts.
Keith Law: The accusations we’ve seen so far have either been supported by concrete evidence or been exceptionally well sourced by the journalists who’ve brought them forward. I can think of one recent allegation that didn’t fit that – George Takei – and that has, for the moment, failed to gain traction as a result. (Which is not to say it’s false.) I’d love to say we’re at or approaching some equilibrium, where every assaulter/harasser is called out and faces the consequences of his actions, but there are no false accusations out there. That’s an impossible goal, and right now, I don’t think we’re anywhere close to it.

mike : being ifa can keep previous bonus, whats stopping them from lying during interviews to get paid twice?
Keith Law: If a player lies about his age or name or something similar, he won’t get to keep the money. IFAs have no incentive to balk at illegal deals, though; in fact, the system probably discourages them from balking at them. But I think the solution is to crack down on teams offering such deals, as Boston did and apparently Atlanta did too.

Steve: Has the beer industry gone too IPA happy?
Keith Law: You mean too hoppy?

Kilgore Trout: If a male engaged in any of this boorish or offensive behavior as a minor, but later grew up and realized the errors of his ways, should there be consequences?
Keith Law: Consequences like disqualification from public office? Sure. But that’s separate from any judicial process.

Bill: A lot of people are writing off Gardenhire as an old school manager, but he seems to have embraced the analytics training he got with the Diamondbacks, an idea backed up recently by comments from Torey Lovullo. Old dog/new tricks?
Keith Law: This will only be borne out by his actions on the job. He can say the right things now, but it’s all just words until we see a real change in his style.
Keith Law: OK, that’s all for this week, and with the holiday next week I will not chat again until the 30th. I will do a Periscope video chat while I’m prepping for the big meal, though, so I hope some of you will join me there. Thank you as always for reading and for all of your questions!

Klawchat 11/9/17.

I’ve been busy! I have a new boardgame review at Paste, covering the card-drafting game Skyward. I also had two Insider posts go up earlier this week, one previewing some potential offseason trade targets, the other ranking the top 50 free agents this winter.

I’ll also send out the next edition of my free email newsletter either this evening or tomorrow.

Keith Law: It’s the school exam and the kids have run away. Klawchat.

Erix: Why is it that pitchers go in the top 10 in the draft but are seldom top 10 intl prospects?
Keith Law: Is that true? I assume you mean pitchers are seldom among the top 10 bonuses in IFA. I would guess that the reason is that predicting arm health for 15- or 14-year-old pitchers is rather difficult.

Ronald Acuna: What type of package could Ender Inciarte return? Could he be a centerpiece of a top-of-rotation arm?
Keith Law: I would think so – or a middle-of-the-order bat at a position of need (third?). If you don’t get something like that, you don’t trade him.

Wally: What would you do if you were Mike Rizzo? All in for 2018 then let harper, Murphy maybe Stras leave and do a total rebuild? Or, do you think there is enough room between them and 2nd place in the NL East to make some changes now (trade one or more of Murphy/Gio/Roark/heaven forbid Harper?) to extend the window while still giving them a good (albeit lesser) chance to win the East in 2018
Keith Law: All in for 2018 while you have this group. Hard to forecast assembling another roster with 2 real MVP candidates, 2 real CYA candidates, and so much additional talent. Have to go for it.

Bored Lawyer, Esq. : Forrest Whitley had rather high BABIPs throughout his stops in the minors. Is that a blip? What could it mean relative to his stuff?
Keith Law: Wouldn’t take anything away from it. Research on BABIPs has focused on the majors, not minors.

ssimon: Your Stick to Baseball links from last weekend included the L.A. Times’ investigation of Disney’s tax breaks in Anaheim. Are you as opposed to these subsidies for corporations as you are for owners of baseball teams?
Keith Law: No, because there’s at least some economic benefit from such subsidies or tax breaks. Financing a sports stadium doesn’t bring economic benefits; any jobs created are unskilled and temporary, and “new” spending is generally shifted from other (local) outlets. A city or state can subsidize the construction of, say, an Intel fab or a Toyota factory, and thus create skilled jobs that will generate new tax revenues and increase local consumption. That said, there has to be an actual cost/benefit analysis there, and the LAT article claimed that Anaheim isn’t getting what it pays for.

Dan: A thought on the home run spike. Obviously the ball is juiced and that is clear as day. But isn’t interesting that the spike seemed to affect the lower-middle power guys? The players who’d normally hit 10-15 were hitting 20-25 instead. But the top end guys maybe didn’t that big of a spike? Everyone thought Stanton could do this if healthy, this might be Judge’s peak but it wasn’t out of nowhere, and bellinger is also a freak.
Keith Law: I disagree. Stanton, Judge, Bellinger all benefited, clearly. Khris Davis hit 43. Justin Smoak nearly doubled his career high to 38, putting him top 10 in the majors. It seemed to affect everyone.

Same question different day: Given the new bal environment, is it at all possible to project potential power output from minors to majors?
Keith Law: It’s probably doable but I would guess a large adjustment is required to any model – and of course it could become irrelevant if the ball gets un-juiced.

Jay: I think I’ve asked you before but am curious if you think teams are much closer to wanting more studys or medical access to this – How much do you think deteriorating eye sight for hitters as they get older factors into rising strikeout rates compared to just the physical decline component?
Keith Law: My guess, again just off the top of my head, is very little. I believe it’s mostly loss of quickness & reaction time.

Jack: What do you make of the Giants reported interest in Heyward? Is it even legitimate to think that such a trade is possible?
Keith Law: Baggarly said it’s not true. I’ll go with him on anything Giants, other than Omar Vizquel’s legacy.

Patrick: Good day Keith! As a favored source of baseball knowledge, I instead want to tap your knowledge of European metal music.
My hockey playing friends are clamoring for more of that type music, and I don’t know where to start. Recommendations that won’t scare off the rest of the on-ice skaters?
Keith Law: Maybe go for some classic German thrash like Destruction, more contemporary thrash like Hammerfall, Viking metal acts like Tyr, or, if they can handle it, something a little more experimental like Gojira.

Adam D.: I am struggling to see a realistic way for the Giants to contend before 2020. Given what they have now, would you advocate for an Astros-style tear down and who would you make untouchable? I’ll be honest, I am leaning that way and would probably only keep Bumgarner and Posey.
Keith Law: If you’re doing that, you don’t keep anybody. You trade Posey now, because a 30-year-old catcher with 3 years left on his deal and 800 games behind the plate isn’t going to gain value.

Harrisburg Hal: With your math and science interests, did you consider engineering?
Keith Law: My dad was an EE, and he liked his job, but he didn’t encourage that as a career path for me, primarily because he saw how much the job tended to change with each new generation of technology. I did enjoy programming, but I’m not sure it would have worked for a career for me, given my desire to express myself creatively too.

Stupid hypo guy: If their defensive values were the same, Vlad Jr is well above Acuna, right?
Keith Law: That’s true.

Derek: Others (maybe you too?) have said Acuna is by far the best player in the AFL. Is he really much better than Robles? 2017 minor league hitting stats look awfully similar (of course noting that Acuna is half a hear younger, and spent time in AAA and Robles did not). Does Acuna’s defense profile better in CF? It’s hard to believe Acuna has more speed.
Keith Law: I didn’t say that, because I only saw one Acuna AB (and then a HBP). Robles wasn’t there yet, but he might be the better prospect anyway.

ssimon: Based on your estimation of what the QO free agents will receive, which among Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland, and Carlos Santana, would you encourage a competitive team to sign?
Keith Law: I might consider giving up a pick for Arrieta, Cain, and maaaaaybe Santana. That’s it.

Jeff: What are the best mobile boardgames that you would recommend?
Keith Law: One of my offseason projects will be a new ranking of all the iOS/mobile boardgames I’ve played, which has to be over 40 by now. Carcassonne is still the best. Agricola is great. Caylus is too, if it’s still supported. All the Days of Wonder titles are good. 7 Wonders comes next week…

John: How much is Otani actually losing? If he is as good as advertised (an ace and a top five DH in the AL) what kind of money could he get in arbitration?
Keith Law: He won’t get to arbitration until he has three years of service. He’s leaving well over $100 million on the table by coming now.

Dale Cooper: Most murder investigations don’t take as long as MLB’s Braves investig……..wait…..did…..did the Braves……murder someone?
Keith Law: This and the weird leaks have me wondering what on earth is going on over on Park Ave.

Ryan: Enjoying the annual freakout over early offseason Boras asking prices? You’d think people who watch the same movie year after year would get wise to the plot, but apparently not.
Keith Law: And then we had the freakout over the freakout, which was really hard to fathom. I’m in favor of players asking for and getting every dollar they can, but if I think a team overpays a player, darn right I’m going to laugh at them.

Kevin: Out of the HOF veterans committee nominees, who do you think gets elected and who do you think should get elected?
Keith Law: They should elect Trammell and Miller and then fire the entire institution into the sun.

Jason: I find it odd that Corey Ray has fallen down the charts so much? Are his struggles that bad or can he turn it around?
Keith Law: I detailed his swing/stance change in my AFL post. He has to restore his old toe-tap and stride.

Ben: Sooo……Roy Moore is a pedophile. Who knew? Does it sink him? Nah. Theocratic pedophiles are all the rage now. And America’s decline continues.
Keith Law: I am morbidly curious to see how many of his supporters, who must by and large be evangelicals, stand by him by either attacking/doubting his victims or by saying it doesn’t matter. Because … yeah, it matters. Those are felonies.

Jack: thoughts on the college basketball/shoe company scandal?
Keith Law: I have no idea what this means.

Rob: Such sad news regarding Roy Halladay. A great pitcher and from everything you hear, a great person too. As trivial as this may seem right now, is he a HOF’er for you?
Keith Law: I’ve been asked this repeatedly in the last 48 hours and have declined to answer it, because it feels both trivial and a bit macabre to discuss him in such terms.

Chris : I think there’s a lot of value on the “lower end” of this year’s FA market. Guys like Joe Smith, Luke Gregerson, Jeremy Hellickson, Yunel Escobar and Chris Tillman all strike me as solid buy-low guys. Do you have any favorite one-year deal guys that could be this year’s Brandon Morrow or Alex Avila?
Keith Law: I had a few on the back of the 50, and I think I’m doing another piece on that soon? Hellickson made my list. I don’t see Escobar, who seems to have lost any defensive value, in that light, and Tillman’s stuff and results have both been awful since the mid-2016 shoulder injury and heavy use after he returned.

Bobby: Otani. I believe you think he will be a legit SP but the bat won’t play (or not enough to stop him from pitching). Think he comes over as a #2? Better/worse? Thanks, as always…
Keith Law: I think he’s a #1 starter, and opposing pitchers will tell us rather quickly if he’s anything with the bat.

Fatherz: Who are the pitchers in the Padres system that have the highest ceilings? Do Gore or Baez have #1 stuff?
Keith Law: Those are probably the top two ceilings, but I don’t think either has pure #1 stuff.

Bobby: Keith – thanks for these chats. Love them. Now that Tanaka has opted not to become a FA what do you think the Yanks should do re their pitching moving forward? Presumably their BP is more or less set…I know they would get Otani if they can…sign Sabathia maybe – anything else? What do they need to do to make it to the WS next year?
Keith Law: Bulk innings. Offense is great, bullpen is great, you don’t need to go sign Arrieta. You need some league-average quantity from your rotation, especially as insurance – Tanaka’s elbow, Montgomery’s fade in the 2nd half, any pitcher can get hurt.

Bobbo: happy Klawchat day and thanks again for answering questions. liked your positive review of Cave vs Cave; i’m intrigued. any chance it surpasses Jaipur as your fave 2p game? if not, why?
Keith Law: Jaipur is so much more elegant. I’d still have that at 1, and 7 Wonders Duel has really moved up my list from last year.

JQ: Was it ever publicly reported that Daniel Flores was battling with cancer? I do no recall ever hearing about this until the sad news yesterday.
Keith Law: I was totally unaware of this. Heartbreaking news.

Mike: I was thinking about doing a spatchcock turkey this year. Do you need to prep the turkey in anyway like a brine (either dry or wet) or just put salt and pepper on it before cooking?
Keith Law: Spatchcock and salt. Check serious eats for the exact timing but I think I salted the morning of cooking.

AC: If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing about baseball, what would it be? (Anything from the actual game to contracts, to manager’s outfits)
Keith Law: Gosh. I would probably spike the antitrust exemption, as I think that’s led to many other problems in terms of franchise ownership/locations and labor relations.
Keith Law: Although they did carve out an exemption to the exemption for CBA talks.

Morris Buttermaker: KLaw, I have seen you refer to a pitcher’s mechanics or a batter’s swing when evaluating their chances at further success. Where did you learn this? Years of observation? Learning at the foot of older co workers?
Keith Law: Both.

Gabriel: I’m curious as to what the recent death of Daniel Flores will mean to the Red Sox’s international class this year. Would mlb be scared at the prospect of them blowing past any caps for Otani after the death of Flores and their international signing scandal? Thanks keith. Love your work
Keith Law: You can’t blow past the caps any more. These are hard limits. I don’t know if MLB would grant them additional cap space in light of Flores’ passing, though. It seems only fair to the team, no? The Flores family would still have his bonus – and yes, I understand that is no consolation for them – so they would not be further affected.

Ron: I think Mauer was a better choice for a Gold Glove than Hosmer. Course, he didn’t hit 25 homers. Maybe Dozier wasn’t as good a choice as Pedroia or Altuve? What are your thoughts?
Keith Law: Oh, were the Gold Gloves announced this week? I was all out of fucks to give, sorry.

B: Jake McGee had some odd splits last season and was much better against RHB rather than LHB (SSS WARNING). Do you think he could be a sneaky good sign for a team in need of a LH reliever?
Keith Law: I think he’s a full-inning reliever, not just a LH specialist, given his whole history and his pitches. But one-year splits are probably not reliable.

addoeh: The new Marlins ownership group has already said they want to reduce payroll. They now may be looking to trade their potential MVP winner and only real marketable star. They expect little, if anything, in return and may end up trading him to the team that is willing to pick up the greatest amount of what remains on Stanton’s contract, not on what prospects the other team could give. Does this new group have some short term financing deals that could become onerous if not paid off quickly? It doesn’t make a lot of sense otherwise.
Keith Law: This is my concern – that they trade Stanton to clear the money, but don’t get baseball talent in return – because that farm system is awful right now. Eyeballing it, I’d guess it’s #30.

Augustus: Blayne Enlow looks impressive. Could he start in the future or do you think he’s more suited for back of the bullpen?
Keith Law: I think he’s a starter … he’s also 18.

Logic: There has been much discussion about the timing of pitching changes during the world series. The manager is typically given credit or blame. Do you think that front office may actually make some of these calls once the game has started? I understand a lot of decisions are scripted with some organizations, but I am thinking about when things start to go south. Do you think the front office should intervene during the games? Thanks for continuing the chats, they are appreciated.
Keith Law: I don’t think the FO does this, or should do it. You hire the manager who is an extension of your approach, but you empower him to make these decisions in-game.

Tiberius: Do you think Trent Clark ever reaches the majors at this point?
Keith Law: I do.

Devon : Hey, Keith! Thank you as always for the chats. I was wondering who you prefer offensively in terms of overall future value: Eloy or Acuna?
Keith Law: Eloy.

Caligula: Jesus Luzardo: Is he a GUY or just a guy?
Keith Law: I hear he’s a GUY, unlike your proposed consul.

Jon (Philadelphia): I recently became a vegetarian. So far, the most challenging aspect has been finding decent options when I don’t have time to cook for myself, which is not infrequent as I basically live in the hospital as a surgical resident. In response, I have tried to cook in bulk for the week whenever I have time but am new to this cooking approach. Do you have any practical advice on how to optimize this process while ensuring that I do not compromise on flavor/nutritional content? Thanks Keith
Keith Law: Veg dishes are tricky to do in bulk because most veg don’t survive reheating well. When I have a lot of leftover cooked vegetables, I try to repurpose them. A batch of leftover roasted broccoli goes into the blender with some stock and maybe a little cream to make soup. Leftover aromatics can become the sauce or accompaniment to whatever your main protein is, or added to a cooked bean dish when served.

Joe-Nathan: Is Alex Speas Stetson Allie 2.0?
Keith Law: He’s better than that. But still might never have the control he’ll need to pitch in the majors.

Rick: You’ve said before that you don’t think that Chris Taylor hasn’t turned into anything and that it’s a SSS. Do you still feel that way even after the season and the postseason he had?
Keith Law: Only a fool would change his opinion of a player based on a postseason performance. It’s not just a small sample, it’s a skewed one.

Galba: Jahmai Jones or Jo Adell?
Keith Law: Jones for me.

Adam: In the broadest scope possible, how many WAR is required to even warrant consideration for the HOF?
Keith Law: I do not favor this approach, sorry. WAR is not precise enough to discuss thresholds, only comparisons.

Onomatopoeia: Kepler and Thorpe too much/too little for Chris Archer?
Keith Law: Too little. Archer’s contract is extremely club friendly.

Zirinsky: Hi Keith. I’m curious: is there any way to structure a pitching staff so that a team could have someone only pitching once per week (I’m thinking of the Yankees/Tanaka but this could apply to others)?
Keith Law: Yes, teams used to do it with “Sunday starters” in the four-man era. No reason you can’t do it today with the use of swingmen/long relievers.

Devon: For the first time in months we have an actual policy (tax reform) being debated in Congress, but it is already devolving into the typical echo-chamber politicization of the issues in the same way every other issue has in the last two-plus years. Is society ever going to go back to a point where people actually research issues and develop their own opinions or are we in a “new normal” where people only do what their political parties tell them to do without questioning?
Keith Law: I don’t see that happening in the next twenty years.

Vespasian: Does Carson Kelly have a future in St Louis? They seem to be pretty dead set on Yadi as a starter. Given the typical lifespan of a catcher, wouldn’t it make more sense for the Cards to flip Kelly for someone who plays a position of need?
Keith Law: Probably, if they don’t see Kelly starting in the next two seasons. But I think he’s a starter, maybe an above-average one if he can get some of the raw power he’ll show in BP into his game swing.

Jim Nantz: In your free agent piece, you named the Rangers as potential players in the 2B market, which I get since Odor was terrible last year. However, he’s still young and I know you rated him highly as a prospect. Any chance he keeps developing and bounces back, or is he simply a high HR/low OBP guy now?
Keith Law: He’s gotten worse for two straight years, and UZR even killed his defense last year (dRS didn’t, so we have a real discrepancy there). Can he improve? Yes. There are very few positive historical comparables, however. And if they want to win in 2018, getting a certain upgrade makes more sense than rolling him out there and hoping he isn’t sub-replacement level again.

Titus: Is Zack Granite just a 4th outfielder or could he be more?
Keith Law: Fourth outfielder most likely.

Joe-Nathan: I remember that you wrote a few posts about Reggie Lawson when he was in HS, and that you liked him but his stuff backed up in his senior year. No one seems to talk about him in the padres system, so I can only scout the stat line. K’s are there, so should people be talking about him?
Keith Law: My understanding is that the stuff isn’t really as good as it was his junior year. I saw him briefly in the spring and it hadn’t gotten that much better. Still a good athlete with some arm strength.

Tony: Is it outrageous to think brad hand could fetch a top 30 prospect
Keith Law: If that’s the ask, then we know why he hasn’t been traded.

Matt: Has Tatis passed Robles/Senzel as a prospect?
Keith Law: He’s clearly above Senzel. Robles … I’ll leave that till the rankings.

Dr. Bob: J.D. Martinez looks to me to be a sucker bet, especially for a National League team. In 2016 his defense was so bad that even though he had a 4.0 oWAR, his overall WAR was 1.8. He’ll be 30 with some injury history. At, say, 5 years, $150 million, you would be looking for an average of 4.0 WAR per year on the wrong side of 30. I’d talk, but probably stay away. What say you?
Keith Law: I agree – I saw that he’s looking for $200 million and thought that I wouldn’t give him half that. He seems like the type of player who could decline in a big hurry.

Jesse: What is it about Carcassonne that makes it so unique of an experience for you to consistently rank it so highly? I love the game too, but find with all the recent new games that have come out in the past five years or so, that it often gets forgotten come game nights.
Keith Law: It’s simple, elegant, extensible, and easy to teach newcomers without a loss of complexity for regulars. I also try not to succumb to recency bias on my rankings. The iOS implementation is considered the best app version of any boardgame, not just by me, but I believe by many in the industry too.

Roy Moore: How sadly unsurprised are you by the latest news about him?
Keith Law: Those who rail against immorality are often compensating for their own immoral desires.

Buck Dancer: The Cardinals appear to be the favorite to acquire Stanton. In your eyes, what is a fair package for them to send to Miami? What would acquiring Stanton do to the Cardinals chances of overtaking the Cubs and holding off the Brewers?
Keith Law: Why are they the favorite? I missed that entirely.

Mark: What prompted you to get into board games? I’m constantly mocked by my family, friends, and even strangers that I’m grown man who is engrossed in board games. How should I respond to these people?
Keith Law: There were 65,000 people at GenCon this year, mostly adults. Some were even … women. Also, if someone mocks your hobby, then they’re not your friends. Unless you’re a brony. Those people are weird.

Daniel : I have great respect for your musical tastes, so I’m interested in your insights on this simply query: Mellencamp or Springsteen?
Keith Law: Pass.

Nerva: Understanding that every prospect is unique, there seems to be a sentiment that some systems are more prone to failing in a type of player’s development (e.g. Orioles with pitchers or the Jack Z. Mariners with hitters). With that in mind, do you factor in organizational structure when rating and ranking prospects? If you have two identical pitchers and one is drafted by the Orioles while the other is drafted by the Dodgers, would you rank the latter above the former?
Keith Law: I don’t. My rankings are team-agnostic because prospects can change orgs at any time.

Charlie: If the Red Sox don’t sign a 1B, what are the odds Michael Chavis gets the most PAs there next year?
Keith Law: Travis will get a long look there if they don’t acquire one from outside (I think they will, someone with power).

Josh: Could Luis Urias be a +10 DRS guy at 2B or is that too rich?
Keith Law: Seems high, but he’s also never played there full-time, has he? He’s played a good bit of short and is competent there.

Rick: Thoughts on barstool ? I think some of the gimmicks are funny but they ripped Cortea for getting married so young and not hooking up with a bunch of different like Jeter ? #cringeworthy
Keith Law: I thought that Correa thing was some movie reference (Anchorman?) I didn’t get.

Jay: You mentioned the Giants as a possible destination for Donaldson in a trade. Would the Jays really trade him in offseason rather than the trade deadline in ’18 (assuming they are not in contention)?
Keith Law: Why not? In the offseason, far more teams think they’re contenders, and budgets are much more flexible.

Cassidy : What restaraunts did you dine at while at AFL ? The usual ? (Bianco, Matt’s, etc.?) anything new ?
Keith Law: The only new spots were Casa de Falafel in Peoria (Iraqi food, in a gas station, really great) and Forno 301 downtown. Otherwise it was Keith’s greatest hits – Hillside, Cartel, Giant, Matt’s, crepe bar, Republica Empanada, Pane Bianco, FnB, etc.

Daniel Morton: Tirso Ornelas stick in a corner or have to move to 1B
Keith Law: Corner OF.

Brandon: Would it not be a good idea for both the Rockies and CarGo to reach a one-year deal, with some playing time at 1B?
Keith Law: He didn’t hit enough to be a regular in the OF last year. Not sure why you’d want him at 1b.

Rex: A FG writer recently said that he thinks it’ll be a while before a team other than the Yankees, Indians, Astros, Red Sox, Dodgers, Nationals or Cubs is in the WS. What do you think about that?
Keith Law: I would take the other side of that bet.

Cassidy : So a GOP candidate is being accused of sexual assault (awful, if true) but do you think an accusation should merit being pulled from running for office ? One person could come forward lying and your life is ruined …?! Just doesn’t seem fair (although I do believe most accusations are true)
Keith Law: It’s one accusation of assault and several of enticement of a minor, plus other accounts of untoward behavior.

Chase: Percent chance that Ohtani will be in an MLB uniform on Opening Day?
Keith Law: I’d go up to 40% now from about 20% before he hired CAA and we heard that the parties have been negotiating or at least discussing. MLB has really, colossally screwed this up. Just waive the cap for him and forget about it.

Jason: Do you prefer dominick smith to greg bird, (Birds health issues aside?)
Keith Law: Smith is a much better hitter with less power and much more defense, so yes.

John C.: I know he’s not great by any stretch, but Ryon Healy would be a huge upgrade at 3B over Garcia and Ruiz for the Braves. Given his youth and contract, which young starter would you be willing to trade to acquire him from Oakland?
Keith Law: He can’t play third.

Jason: Would you care if your daughter smoked weed, but was still productive ? Struggling with my daughter wether to allow it or not
Keith Law: I would not.

Jerry: What are the chances Ohtani already has a deal in place with a team?
Keith Law: Zero. Unless some GM wants to get fired.

Moe Mentum: Rank and defend these decades-old parody movies that end with exclamation points: Airplane! Hot Shots! Top Secret!
Keith Law: Top Secret, Airplane, I never even finished Hot Shots.

David Stearns: Help! I can’t tell if 2016 Jonathan Villar is the mirage or if 2017 Jonathan Villar is the fluke…which one is right?
Keith Law: 2016 seemed way out of line with the rest of his career.

Sterling Malory Chris Archer: So I started reading The Master and Margarita based on the fact it’s your number one book. Any suggestions on what to pay attention to while reading?
Keith Law: Remember that Bulgakov wrote it as an anti-communist fable while he was writing as a state playwright for the Soviet government.

Dan: I know that injuries kinda derailed Isan Diaz’s 2017 but is he still a top 100 caliber prospect for you?
Keith Law: I think so, since the hamate probably wrecked his year.

Tom: I realize I run the risk of being struck by a lightning bolt, especially where I live, but when I heard Vin Scully’s national anthem comments, all I could think of was “89 year old white grandpa misses the point completely.” (Ducking)
Keith Law: Yep. I felt the same. Met Vin once, as nice a man as you’ll come across, but that was quite ignorant given the players he covered in his career.

Dan: Is a line of .280/.350/.400 a pretty accurate projection for Kevin Newman?
Keith Law: A year ago I would have said yes. Given how little power he showed in AAA, just in terms of hard contact, I’m thinking less now.

PD: Really sad story about Daniel Flores. I was looking at video of his release and swing and he looked really good. Where would he had ranked for you?
Keith Law: As with Halladay/HoF, I would simply prefer not to discuss the recently departed in those terms. I’m sorry.

Andy: The last two WS winners have largely done it with home grown hitters carrying the bulk of the load. If you want to throw the Dodgers and Indians into the mix, they also did it with more homegrown hitters (with Kershaw being an exception.) Do you think that the additional certainty with a hitter could make teams value bats above pitching in the top of drafts?
Keith Law: Some teams, notably the Cubs, have argued that you want bats in the top 10-15 picks, then go pitching later. They’ve drafted that way quite a bit. I think the Dodgers have too. There’s more predictability in their performance and lower attrition rates.

Nick: What’s the ideal path for the oriole’s at this point? I say Trade Manny and Brach now, and Britton mid season hoping he stays healthy the first half, sign a couple bounce back candidate starting pitchers to high AAV short term deals and hope to flip them as well? Don’t see a path to winning next year so maybe try to rebuild on the fly without completely tearing it down?
Keith Law: Trade Britton and/or Brach now. If they intend to compete this year, then they keep Machado and ride it out. If they intend to rebuild, then trade everyone now.

Sage: Everyone mentions the ball is juiced, but I’ve heard the seams are not raised like they used to be, causing a decline on effective pitching, and spike in distance a ball does. Are these same thing, or am I misinterpreting ?
Keith Law: Two different things. The coefficient of restitution has changed too (the ball is bouncier).

Chris: interesting trade idea on RAB today: Yelich for Acevedo, Adams, Solak, and Frazier. I know youre not super high on the first two, but what do you think? Obv Denbo knows their system well.
Keith Law: Supposedly they don’t want to deal Yelich at all. That seems like a bunch of quantity over quality.

Andrew: Would a solution like Toastmasters help me with a problem with my public speaking?
Keith Law: I know people who swear by them, but I’ve never participated in it (or done anything for public speaking).

JJ: Keith, weird question, but with as health conscious as players/teams are today, are there players who are major smokers (similar to Leyland)? I know smokeless tobacco is still popular among players and isn’t healthy but was curious how much of that is hidden from public image.
Keith Law: The answer depends completely on what leaf we are discussing.

Joe: Do the minor league use the same balls as the major leaguers?
Keith Law: They do not.

Nick: Greatest mankind accomplishment of all time? Moon landing? Building of Pyramids? Internet? Something else?
Keith Law: Eradicating smallpox.

Andrew: I know you mentioned in one of these chats or your twitter that the interview process isn’t a good way to evaluating a potential hire (Dave Martinez). What is a good way of seeing if someone is a good hire?
Keith Law: Resume and references.

Nick: Who is the most surprising top 10 draft pick you’ve seen since covering the draft?
Keith Law: Hm. Most surprising first rounder was Hayden Simpson, but I think he was 15th or 16th overall. DeShields Jr at 8 to Houston in 2010 was a surprise, just that he went that high, although I think I had him projected to them at pick 19 (they took Foltynewicz there). Hobgood in 2009 and Townsend the second time around to Tampa Bay in 2005 come to mind too.

Jock: Austin Beck – do you think he was a reach at #6 last year or do you think that he represents a good departure for the A’s as they aim to develop more “toolsy” and “high reward” players in hopes of landing a new stadium in a few years? Thanks, Keith.
Keith Law: Not a reach, but huge risk huge reward type of guy.

JJ: Care to make an early prediction on the 2018 ROYs?
Keith Law: I do not, thanks.

Ed: There’s no way Davis doesn’t accept the QO, right?
Keith Law: If he thinks he can get multiple years elsewhere, then he would decline it.

Nathan: Keith! Love your work … I need some help. I’m trying to acquire the taste for straight black coffee. Can you give me some tips on what roast or brand I should start with? Much appreciated…
Keith Law: I never drank my coffee black until I tried Intelligentsia, and from there branched out to other “third wave” roasters (very light roasts, usually from single estates or small regions). Adding dairy to coffee introduces fats that block the bitter receptors on your tongue, but really good coffee that is properly roasted has very little to no bitterness.

yankees fan: I know you have been impressed by sheffield recently. Has he considerably improved since last years trade? If yes, in what way?
Keith Law: He has. He’s throwing harder and has switched to a slider.

Tim: Cooking question. Is it safe to feed a toddler food cooked with wine (braised, risotto, etc.)? I see so much conflicting information online.
Keith Law: Yes. Most of the alcohol will cook out – it evaporates at about 173 F. And a batch of risotto should use 1/2 cup of wine, which works out to about 14 ml of alcohol. Even if your toddler ate the entire batch, well, he’d get sick from all that rice first.
Keith Law: I need to wrap this up to pick up my car from the mechanic’s. Thank you for all of your questions and for reading all the content I’ve put together this week. I should be back next Thursday for a chat, and there will be a video chat as usual when I spatchcock the turkey before Thanksgiving. Have a safe weekend, everyone.

Klawchat 11/2/17.

While you’re here, check out my free email newsletter, sent weekly or just whenever I feel like it, but not more than weekly, really.

Keith Law: I was dumbfounded by truth. Klawchat.

Jake: Seems like Dodgers fans are looking to pin the blame on someone. Is it supposed to be Darvish?
Keith Law: Never a fan of putting the blame for the loss of an entire series on one player, or even just on a manager. Darvish hurt them, probably more than any other individual player, but he was far from alone. Roberts had a bad series, especially Game 5. The Dodgers’ LHB had some atrocious at bats in high-leverage spots last night. Bellinger’s error in the 1st was critical. And yet they still came within a game of winning.

J.P.: What do you make of this new complication between the Ham Fighters and the MLBPA with regards to Ohtani?
Keith Law: I actually think it’s a positive sign that everyone is trying to find a workaround. Maybe he will come over after all.

Tim: Shane baz? is it true he has plus fastball, plus slider plus cutter and average to above curveball and average change?
Keith Law: No.

Eric: After the Vegas shooting, Trump is suspiciously quiet. After the NYC attack he tweets immediately – to blame someone else. Your thoughts?
Keith Law: I think he’s playing to his base and they eat it up like soylent.

Chris : What would your offseason plan look like if your mets? Other than pray for health of Conforto, Wheeler, Matz, Harvey, Thor, Familia, and Cespedes, I’m kind of puzzled on how this team improves that much this offseason. Their health alone is what separates them from 70 and 90 wins, no?
Keith Law: I think that’s fair – their health is a bigger source of potential gains than any offseason acquisitions would be. I also would guess that would make them reluctant to spend this winter, assuming they had any money to spend, because they could spend well and still fall flat.

Pat: Hi Keith, thank you for your prospect coverage. Why is Sandy Alcantara not missing more bats? Is it lack of elite secondary stuff, little deception, is his fastball too straight? I would just think a guy that throws 100 would strike out more batters. Thanks Keith.
Keith Law: Fastball is pretty true, just hard, but velocity alone doesn’t miss bats. You need deception, movement, or spin. He will show you above-average secondary stuff but it’s not consistent. He’s also pretty young, so I’m not terribly worried.

Ed M.: Hi, Keith. I just finished reading Smart Baseball and loved every page. I’m a 36-year-old lifetime baseball fan and I love learning as much as I can about the analytical aspect of the game. One question for you: the phrase “reach/reached base safely” often comes up in your book. This isn’t meant to be a smartass question, but when does one NOT reach base safely? Aren’t all batters/runners who reach base also safe?
Keith Law: We tend to exclude reaching on an error from calculations of times on base.

Harold : Now that teams that blatantly tanked have won the the WS two years in a row, should MLB change the draft rules to eliminate Tanking?
Keith Law: They did condense the slot values of the top picks in the most recent CBA, which I think would discourage deliberately losing … but I don’t think Houston deliberately lost so much as they realized it was stupid to spend money on mediocre veterans. Buster & I discussed this on the podcast today.

Peter : Is Bobby Witt Jr closest thing we’ve seen to Harper in terms of pure talent coming out of high school? Not saying he’s just as good or that type of generational prospect.
Keith Law: No, he’s not in Harper’s class.

Lark11: Defensive shifting makes logical and intuitive sense; places fielders where hitters have higher probability of hitting the ball. That said, I’m somewhat struggling with its effectiveness. MLB BABIP by Year: 2013: .297; 2014: .299; 2015: .299; 2016: .300; and 2017: .300.
Keith Law: BABIP includes home runs, which have increased over that time period, but aren’t affected by defensive shifts. Also, aren’t exit velocities and launch angles increasing? Those should affect BABIP, or at least expected BABIP.

Eric: Thoughts on J-Up’s 5-year deal with the Halos?
Keith Law: Love it for the Angels. Yes, he’s risky, lot of volatility in his performance, but he’s a potential 5-win player and still in his peak years. He was my #1 free agent going into the winter.

Ralph: Would you rather have Pence or Trump as president?
Keith Law: I would absolutely take Hunter Pence as President over the current occupant.

Junkyard Dog: Who do you like more between Justus Sheffield and Max Fried? Who has the higher ceiling?
Keith Law: Sheffield.

Ben: We have officially arrived in an alternate reality, where fossil fuels can prevent sexual assaults and the air is TOO clean. Children need to breath dirty air to build up immunity for Christ’s sake! …..I weep for humanity.
Keith Law: The reality is that these anti-science “scientists” can say whatever they want, and their followers will just accept it.

Adam: The Braves and Coppolella drama has me thinking; Is it an open secret within your industry which GMs are despised by their peers, and what role does the media have in skewing the public perception of these men?
Keith Law: I tend to hear if people don’t like dealing with a certain GM or agent, or even a scouting director, but I think what you hear through the media lens is distorted.

Keith Law: Some food no one cares about is really good and your favorite player is awful.
Keith Law: Wrong. Everyone cares about good food.

Microsoft Excel: So do all the computers and spreadsheets in Houston get WS rings? Asking for a friend
Keith Law: Yes, one ring per vacuum tube.

Rick: Loved your newsletter, but I couldn’t help thinking how much your decision might have changed baseball history. If you had gone to the Astros, they surely would have drafted Kris Bryant, and the Cubs never would have won the World Series.
Keith Law: You’re very kind, but you failed to consider the possibility that I’d have given terrible advice and the Astros would never have sniffed the playoffs.

Hey there: Do you have a favorite/least favorite kind of player to scout (other than assholes like Chapman, or guys that can’t play)?
Keith Law: I love athletes. Granted, I can’t stand it when they have physical tools and no instincts or feel, but there’s absolutely something electric about seeing players who can do things with their bodies that even an average professional athlete can’t do.

Mike: I was wading way too deep into this with my wife last night, but now that it’s complete, where do you think this World Series ranks among those since 2000?
Keith Law: The blah game 7 hurts; I’d put this behind last year’s and 2011 for sure, probably 2001 as well. I could argue for 2002 and 2014 in there somewhere.

Roger: Should the Astros add Whitley and Tucker to their 25 man roster to start the 2018 season, or let them work in the minors for a few more months than bring them up mid-season?
Keith Law: That’s very premature.

Jim Nantz: I’m worried Conforto’s shoulder injury is going to sap his power for next year? Do you share this concern?
Keith Law: I don’t think we have any evidence either way on this.

Dr. Bob: As a Dodgers fan, I’m bummed at the end result, but I’m hopeful looking to the future. Friedman has built the right kind of organization. The team’s deep pockets has allowed it to eat dead money without hampering its ability to sign other players. We’ll see if the process adjusts the “book” that Dave Roberts seemed to be working from.
Keith Law: I wonder if Roberts is the right guy going forward, which I know sounds weird given the season they just had, but it does appear that he’s not a very good tactical manager, and I don’t know that he’s a good developmental manager, at least with young pitching. I don’t think firing him is some panacea or even a good idea, but the more I see him, the more I think they can do better. And, building off that, they’re going to have to develop young pitching soon, so they don’t have to go trade for a Darvish each July.

Roger: Do you ever really get an offseason since minor league ball is essentially now year round?
Keith Law: I’m done. The minors ended in mid-September, and I’ve already gone to the AFL.

David: Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has said an impact bat is most likely going to have to come via trade. There’s speculation the Cards will be in on Christian Yelich and Josh Donaldson, maybe even acquiring both players. Cards fans are worried two such acquisitions will deplete the farm system. Do the Cards have enough surplus prospects to make a couple of deals and not be barren? Who in this system is untouchable in your eyes? Thanks.
Keith Law: Not sure anyone could trade for both those guys and still have depth – maybe Atlanta, but even they’d have to pay with quantity – but the Cards do have a lot of prospects with value to other clubs and I don’t think they have anyone untouchable right now.

Andy: Did I miss it, or was the atrocious strike zone in the Series glossed over?
Keith Law: Nope, it came up, and I know the teams had a lot to say about it. It was game to game, though. Bill Miller’s was by far the worst. Last night was no picnic either.

Daniel: This is obviously not a small ‘if’ but if Kaprielian returns to form and stays healthy, could you see him becoming the top pitching prospect in baseball? Seemed to have that profile before he went down. Just hadn’t pitched enough yet.
Keith Law: He has #1 upside if he’s healthy. He hasn’t been healthy for a full season in pro ball, which would probably eliminate him from consideration for #1 overall.

Josh: Besides Ticket to Ride, any game recommendations for a newly-reading kid? Shorter play times would be preferred.
Keith Law: Depends on age, but I get the sense you’re talking 4 or 5, and there are now kids’ versions of TtR, Carcassonne, and Catan.

Ridley Kemp: Howdy Keith,

I have a long-ish Charlie Morton question. I’ve always been a fan of his because of his extreme ground ball rates and his ability to avoid the long ball. He’s definitely become a different pitcher this year, working up in the zone, getting more strikeouts at the expense of allowing more home runs. My question is: Is he really a better pitcher now? His ERA and FiP this year is about the same as what they were in most of his healthier years (2011,2013, and 2014). He certainly LOOKS better, but are the results that different?
Keith Law: He did just post the lowest FIP of his career, and that’s not adjusted for league/year … his ERA- was a career best, and it was just his second ERA+ over 100 (which is average) in any season over 20 IP. So yeah, I think he’s better.

Chris: Can I get an FYEAHBASEBALL!
Keith Law: Fuck yeah, you can.

Tracy: Hi Keith, I usually ask you questions related to books or current events but I actually have a baseball question—an odd one, but here goes: If you were able to go back in time and survey a particular baseball era, not just scouting players but also observing the way the game is played at that time, which would it be? For me, it would be going back to the height of the old Negro Leagues and seeing what we really missed out on.
Keith Law: Oh, 100% on that. There’s so much myth around those guys and so little facts that I’d love to see what it really looked like.

Ben: GOP tax bill apparently allows churches to endorse political candidates. Unless they plan on taxing churches, that should be illegal, no?
Keith Law: Of course it should, but nobody cares – and good luck getting anyone to agree we should tax churches. (Reminder that the Church of Scientology harassed its way into tax-exempt status.)

Jim Nantz: When will your top FA list comeout?
Keith Law: Monday.

Michael: Hi Klaw – thoughts on the Gabe Kapler hire? While I was initially in the Wathan camp, the more I have read the more I like this move.
Keith Law: I’ve known him a few years and I’m a big fan. Ideal hire for a club that will be full of young players for the next few years. Brings energy & new ideas. And he’s actually managed a year in the minors, which puts him ahead of a lot of recent managerial hires.

Bobby: Keith – thanks in advance. Love these chats. I have always thought that managers in baseball don’t move the needle much. Clearly, Cashman thinks otherwise as he is taking a risk moving on from a very good manager in the hope of finding a great one. What do you think in general re manager importance and specifically re the risk Cash is taking and the commitment he is showing (to the concept that a manager is very important).
Keith Law: I’m not clear that this was Cashman. Couldn’t it have been ownership? It feels too impetuous to be Cash.

Archie: Do you think the game is trending too much toward the 3 true outcome model? If so, what would you do to “fix” things?
Keith Law: Tighten the manufacturing specs on the ball, and raise the bottom of the strike zone (which already happened a little this year).

Casey: On a scale of doesn’t matter to existential dread, how much consternation should Dombrowski’s hiring of LaRussa give Sox fans?
Keith Law: Doesn’t matter. Doubt he has any influence.

Zach: What do you make of hearing that Darvish was tipping his pitches (according to Beltran on postgame show)? After he was traded to Dodgers, they apparently “fixed” that issue.
Keith Law: Eduardo Perez said the same for us last night – he specifically saw a hand movement. If that’s true, then the question would be why no Dodger coach picked it up after the first inning.

Michael: Hey Klaw – What do you think is the actual deal with all of the anti-sabermetrics comments across the board. These people are so angry, you’d think someone kidnapped their kids. Do you think it’s just a matter of: this is what I know, this is what I am used to, math is hard, I’m not getting younger, get off my lawn, and waaaaaa, waaaaaa – ?
Keith Law: I think many people view technology as an existential threat. And they’re not entirely wrong – Houston is replacing pro scouting with video work and analytics. Automation is affecting all industries. Beat writer jobs are disappearing because of technological changes. So I get it. But it’s evolve or die. You can’t just will away analytics because they bother you.

Mika: Do you believe it’s likely we’re living in a computer simulation? On a scale of 1-100, how full of crap is Elon Musk?
Keith Law: I think the ratio of media attention Musk receives to the quality of his commentary is too high and increasing exponentially. (And yet he’s doing some legitimately good work, like Tesla getting a hospital in Puerto Rico back online with solar panels.)

Podcast: It’s kind of funny how Game 7 pretty much turned on exactly what you said to Buster on the podcast about Hinch being more flexible than Roberts
Keith Law: I thought Hinch managed a great game last night and a great series in general, whereas Roberts didn’t seem to have a clear plan if Darvish was out that early.

Bobby: Where would you rank the Tiger’s farm system right now? Middle of the pack? Who else is likely to be dealt this winter? Thanks!
Keith Law: I haven’t started any prospect work at all, but eyeballing it, I’d say below middle of the pack.

E: Have you seen Trumps’s quote on the tax cut? Every time his words are written down and read, it reinforces just how little he knows about, well everything.
Keith Law: If this issue matters to any of you, I would suggest ignoring what the President says and focusing on what the actual tax cut/reform proposal says – and what experts say it will do. For example, they’re proposing cutting the mortgage interest deduction dramatically. The way it’s shaped, it will adversely affect homeowners who financed very expensive houses … and homeowners in very expensive real estate markets, which almost all happen to be in blue states. And that, in the longer term, would likely slow the acceleration of house prices as the real cost of buying & financing houses above the threshold increases because you lose some of the tax break. That’s one tiny bit of the proposal and already its effect is complicated.

Todd: Domingo Acevedo the next Betances or is he a legit starter?
Keith Law: Reliever for me. Out of control delivery.

Drew: First of all, thank you for all of the work you do throughout the season. I particularly appreciate your appearances on the BBTN podcast, and wanted to ask you something about that. While I agree that Darvish’s two world-class clunkers in the WS shouldn’t costs him tens of millions of dollars, do you think it makes a reunion with The Dodgers unlikely? As analytically savvy as the front office is, do you think they’re keeping fan blowback in mind?
Keith Law: No, I don’t think that would affect them, but if having him for three months told them something about him – his psyche, his preparation, whatever – that they didn’t like, that would affect their decision beyond what the data suggest.

Walt: How difficult would it be for a team to go 11-0 and break the 2005 White Sox record?
Keith Law: Entirely doable. If we had another 200 postseasons before the end of the world, which seems unlikely, some team would do it.

Andrew: Any books you can suggest on how to manage time?
Keith Law: I’ve seen books on the subject but have never read any. My advice to people who ask about my own time management is probably not great, but it’s to look at how much time you use on unproductive things each day. If you watch 2 hours of TV each night, that’s obviously your choice … but it’s 2 hours you’re not doing something that might be more productive, whether it’s work, learning, reading, being with family, whatever you value. And maybe you value TV time. Maybe you’re Alan Sepinwall and TV time is work. It’s all about what you want to accomplish during the day.

Willy: I’ve read that Eloy is a protypical RF, and I’ve read that he’s barely a LF who may and up at 1B. What do you think?
Keith Law: He’s a good RF. Anyone who said he’s barely a LF hasn’t seen him.

Joe: How easy are in-game adjustments to make for a player? I’m thinking specifically of Bellinger laying off the breaking ball down and in but am asking if that is something we should expect from players?
Keith Law: I think in-game adjustments are tough. Maybe half of MLB hitters can do that. Probably less than that.

CapePorpoise: Any opinion on the meal delivery services HelloFresh and their ilk? For couples like my wife and I with limited menu imagination, It is kind of fun to be working with fresh tarragon and dill and rosemary in these meals, and we’re definitely getting the kind of variety we’d otherwise never experience.
Keith Law: Never tried them, but I also work from home, so i have the time to go shop for food, and I actually enjoy it.

ck: Not necessarily my opinion, but if Kershaw was available for 4 IP, why not start him?
Keith Law: It’s an excellent question. I might argue that the Dodgers had 3 options to start, and they chose the worst one. (That’s a bit of a conceit – I don’t know that they knew that beforehand or that we did, and Alex Wood hasn’t really been the same guy since the last DL stint.)

Todd: Am I wrong in saying that last off season the Yankees were under rated, but now next season they’ll be way over rated? See it all the time in sports, an upstart team has a big season ahead of schedule and everyone inflated expectations.
Keith Law: Yes, that’s the typical pattern, but they could alter their fortunes depending on what they do in free agency, especially for pitching.

Andy: If you’re Cleveland, what decision are you making about Bruce, Santana, and Brantley?
Keith Law: Brantley has an option that I assume they’ll decline. The other two are just free agents, so the decision is made.

Lark11: Any early thoughts on Griffin Conine and where he’ll go in the 2018 draft? First rounder? Top half of the first round? Thanks!
Keith Law: I have been told first rounder, not top 10 type, although the college crop is weak enough that some guys will be pushed up into that tier. The UVA hitters weren’t supposed to be top 10 prospects coming into spring 2017 and ended up going 7 and 8.

Chris: Book question: I have To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis next on my to-read list. Having read your review, do you think you missed a lot by not reading Three Men in a Boat first?
Keith Law: I read Three Men in a Boat right afterward, but the other way around would have helped. It’s a quick read and in the public domain if you have a Kindle or iBooks.

CKS: Given the blatant disregard for the international free agency rules by most teams, is there any push to finally fix the problem? Or will this continue to be an issue for years to come?
Keith Law: The lesson of the Atlanta scandal is, as always, don’t get caught.

Hinkie: I know it’s very early … but … could you give us a top of the draft mock (shot in the dark guess): 1 Tigers _______ , 2 Giants ________ , 3 Phillies ________
Keith Law: Nope. It would be pure bullshit.

Kris : Should the Braves go young in rotation or trade for a pitcher?
Keith Law: If they trade, it should be for a power bat. The system has a ton of pitching but little to nothing at the corners or with power.

Alan: Favorite movie of 2017?
Keith Law: So far, Dunkirk, but I’ve only seen 12 movies so far.

Philip: If you were in charge of the A’s, would Bruce Maxwell still be in the organization?
Keith Law: If he’s guilty of threatening someone with a gun, then no, I would cut him loose.

Jeffrey: Orioles should move Machado in the offseason or mid-season? And how can they justify bringing back their whole coaching staff?
Keith Law: Should move him and Britton this winter, don’t get the sense they plan to do either (yet).

Jason: Keith, I have never had anxiety until a couple weeks ago an intruder attempted to enter our home a few weeks back. Now I feel very nervous and anxoius going to sleep. Any advice?
Keith Law: Wow, I’m sorry that happened to you. That’s a discussion to have with a doctor; when I had my worst anxiety/panic, I took Xanax to help me sleep for about a week until I could get used to a regular sleep pattern.

CapePorpoise: Have you read much John Fowles? Granted, I was much younger, but French Lieutenant
Keith Law: Only read that one. Didn’t love the unique ending.

Derek: Thoughts on Dave Martinez as the Nats new manager?
Keith Law: I’ve only heard good things about him, other than that he doesn’t interview well, which as I’ve said before is a terrible way to evaluate a manager hire anyway.

Hinkie: What do hear about Gabe Kapler, both as a new manager and as a person ?
Keith Law: O AN HE SEXY

JJ: I’m guessing this was Carlos Beltran’s last ride. If so, is he a HOFer?
Keith Law: I think he’s a borderline guy by historical standards. I’d probably vote for him.

Cindy: Austin Riley has had some great results in the AFL. I’ve read a scouting report here or there that says that he has cut down on his swing, lost some weight, and is now able to catch up with high velocity fastballs….something he couldn’t do before on a regular basis. Have you heard anything about this? How far away is he from the majors?
Keith Law: Saw him. That’s just not true – I saw velocity blow him up again, as his bat is still slow. He’s gotten better at third base, though; that was true during the season as well.

Craig: Thanks for the chat Keith, really enjoy your work. Any feeling on if Tanaka opts out or not? Would you if you were him?
Keith Law: It depends on the health of his elbow, and I doubt anyone has a great read on that other than him and the team doctors.

JJ: Three playoff managers got the axe after their post-season was done: Baker, Farrell, and Girardi. Are any of those three “game changers” that should hired elsewhere immediately?
Keith Law: No, but all three did fine jobs and none deserved to be fired based on team performance or the jobs they did on the field. (We often don’t know off field factors.)

Todd: Better in 2 years? Bregman or Moncada?
Keith Law: Bregman.

Bobby: Would anyone in their right mind actually make a play to deal for Miguel Cabrera? I’ll never say never after seeing Prince Fielder dealt but this seems impossible
Keith Law: That would be bonkers.

Josh: Thanks for answering the kid game question. I’m actually talking about a 1st grader who can handle Ticket to Ride but isn’t quite where she can read and comprehend quickly enough to make competitive decisions in real time. And our lifestyle is such that long play time like TtR is too much.
Keith Law: Splendor might be pushing it a little … but maybe not. It’s largely a color-matching game and the graphics & tokens are kid-friendly.

Corey: Also, Americans are increasingly terrible dealing with gray area or nuance. Everything in the US including obviously our politics has grown either/or, zero-sum, us vs them. People can’t accept that analytics is one tool among many. That somehow, you can only run a team with “the nerds” or the “baseball guys” but not both.
Keith Law: This would apply to many issues in our society outside of sports. But yes, the idea that using analytics means you hate scouts or coaches or humans is wrong.

Bobbo: The blurb you did for Farlight in your Paste – Best of GenCon 2017 enticed me. Also the one for Echo. did you play/obtain them? any chance of full reviews for either? thanks for the chatting!
Keith Law: I haven’t seen Farlight beyond that demo, but I hope to catch them again at PAX Unplugged. I don’t know which game you mean by Echo, sorry.

Karl in Utah: Was this year from Whit Merrifield an anomaly or do you think it is sustainable (assuming the juiced ball stays in place)?
Keith Law: I do not think it’s sustainable.

Eric Reiners: I’ve read reports that eliminating the mortgage interest deduction entirely would be one of the easiest ways for the government to boost revenues while keeping the effect on the middle/lower class as light as possible. Real estate values would initially take a hit across the board, but it’d be an effective way of tackling the deficit. I’m surprised they even took this step, to be honest, as it mostly affects rich white people. But on the other hand…they had tax cuts to rich white people to fund.
Keith Law: It would affect the middle classes more. US tax policy has encouraged home ownership for decades. Pulling that deduction entirely would amount to a regressive tax that hits the lowest-income homeowners more than the highest-income ones.

Ryan: Has Randolph progressed at all for the Phillies? For someone drafted for his pure hitting ability, he has struggled.
Keith Law: Not really. It is disappointing.

Drew: My daughter just turned three today. Any book recommendations from when yours was that age?
Keith Law: I believe that’s when I read her the first two Mary Poppins books and the first two Winnie-the-Pooh books.

Jason: It appears Keaton Huira played the field without any issues with his elbow. Assuming that continues would he skyrocket up your Top 100 lists? How high?
Keith Law: Skyrocket? He’ll be on the top 100. Let’s leave it there for now.

Harold: Sounds like you don’t want to pay your fair share.
Keith Law: On the contrary, I have no complaints at all with what I pay in taxes; if anything, I think our local/state taxes here in Delaware are too low. But I don’t see the economic benefit to reducing my taxes while raising those on lower-income households, or of giving me more of a reduction than the lower-income households get.
Keith Law: Thanks as always for all of your questions. The top 50 free agent rankings post will go up on Monday for Insiders, and I’ll be around at some point next week to chat about it. Enjoy your (sadly baseball-free) weekends.

Klawchat 10/26/17.

Starting at 1 pm ET. Questions go in the frame below, NOT in the comments!

Keith Law: You can do it your own way – if it’s done just how I say. Klawchat.

Keith: How important a role does a particular team’s development capability and track record play in your rankings? It strikes me that the abilities of individual teams to develop talent varies widely and often is underrated when assessing a prospects progress. What teams do you think are better in this area? Does it vary by positions? Any prospects you think we harmed because they were drafted by the wrong team?
Keith Law: I don’t consider it at all. The rankings of players are team agnostic because a player can change orgs at any time.

Deacon Phillipe : What’s your reaction to the Girardi firing?
Keith Law: Confusion. But I know there may be details we don’t know.

Guy F.: Am I correct to profile you as an index fund guy? Do you own individual stocks outside what you might get from Disney as part of your comp package?
Keith Law: I am an index funds guy, period.

Deacon Phillipe : I’ve been rooting against the Astros because I hate seeing their blatant tanking rewarded. I know they were playing by the rules of the game, but they basically made a mockery of 3 seasons worth of games to get higher picks. Even the Cubs never sunk so low when they tanked. (I rooted against them last year).
Keith Law: I disagree. One, what they did wasn’t just legal, it was smart – the rules gave them every incentive to do this. Two, asking teams that aren’t going to win anyway to throw away cash on veterans just to win a few more regular-season games does nothing for me. I’d rather see prospects and fringe players get those opportunities. Maybe you’ll find a JD Martinez or a Chris Taylor or a Marwin Gonzalez in there.

Chris: Pax Unplugged will be my first gaming convention. I’m only able to go for one day (Friday) and was wondering if you had any tips for how to approach it? I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the options and going solo so my schedule is whatever I make it.
Keith Law: They can be pretty overwhelming. I’d say leave yourself lots of time to wander the floor and just explore all the new stuff on display, and if you have certain games you love, look for their tournaments or for any free-play sessions. I’ll be at PAX Unplugged all 3 days, and on the Saturday (Nov 18) I’ll be signing copies of Smart Baseball if you bring yours along.

Jimmy Z: Keith, (sorry, screwed up and hit enter before asking question): Joe Girardi. 2014 – Yanks have a -31 run differential, yet win 84. 2016 – Yanks have a -22 run differential, yet win 84. 2017 – Yanks are picked by no one to make the playoffs, and in their “2nd rebuilding year” Joe takes them to Game 7 of the ALCS. Am I missing something here?
Keith Law: I can’t believe that this was about Joe’s on-field results. I also don’t think he can be blamed in any way for their ALCS loss. He made some mistakes, and had some weak spots, but they were legitimately beaten by a better team.

Angel: Hey keith do you see Albert abreu in the top 100 at some point next season?
Keith Law: Possible but not likely. Secondary stuff isn’t that advanced right now.

Joe: As someone who spent so much time in recent years scouting many of the guys killing it in the World Series this year, how cool is it personally to see them all come together like this on the biggest stage?
Keith Law: It’s very rewarding to watch these guys reach the pinnacle.

edward: thanks, keith – thoughts on who the phillies should be looking at for their next manager?
Keith Law: Someone with a strong developmental track record. Gabe Kapler is on their list, and I know him fairly well, enough to recommend him. (The reports that they’d chosen Dusty Wathan already were not accurate. I don’t know where that came from.)

gus johnson: Do you think a player’s salary should be considered in the MVP Voting? To measure the true value of a player, shouldn’t we consider both the results AND the cost? For example, Stanton’s 6.9 WAR isn’t as valuable as Rendon’s 6.9 WAR from a cost perspective.
Keith Law: No. No. Also no.

Chris J: How do you see the Red Sox setting their lineup with Pedroia out around 2 months? Mookie at 2B? Chavis at 2B? Brock Holt?
Keith Law: Probably Holt. Chavis is pretty questionable at third, no reason to think he’ll be able to go right to 2nd and handle it.

Jimmy Hillman: Thanks for the chat! Of the two Pirate prospects that were exalted by many in 2015-2016 but had a rough 2017 – Glasnow or Meadows – which one do you think has the better chance to bounce back in 2018 and reclaim some (all?) of that shine?
Keith Law: Meadows. Health will go a long way for him.

Lyle: The last several Mariners GMs have generally failed to develop and keep position player prospects (essentially Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino are it for the last dozen years). Everyone else either busts (Ackley, e.g.) or is traded away for pennies (Adam Jones, Chris Taylor, etc.) How do the Mariners go about changing that culture in their system before Kyle Lewis and Evan White arrive?
Keith Law: They already changed GMs since all that. But also ownership has to say they’re willing to take a few years of losing to rebuild it – I think the mandate now is for DiPoto to try to win, and that may mean trading someone like Lewis for major-league help.

Mike: Bote has been crushing in the AFL but I’ll give that to a SSS and the Arizona climate. A story came out that he has changed his swing over the last couple of years. He is already 24, but do you think he has a chance as a starter?
Keith Law: Probably a bench guy. Think he can hit some, maybe not enough bat + defense to be more than a second-tier regular at 2nd base, but likely a real utility guy you can plug in at four or five positions.

Brian: Keith what is your take on Nicky Lopez in the Royals system? Looks to be good defensively at short and has a good approach at the plate. Utility infielder or potential starter? Thanks.
Keith Law: Outside chance to start. Can hit, can play short. Power is light, approach isn’t actually that great. Good instincts, though. Stands out in a weak system.

Evan: What are your thoughts on the Mets new manager Mickey Callaway?
Keith Law: He’s never managed, so we just don’t know. I’m not a fan of hiring managers with zero managerial experience at any level.

jp: Does the huge number of cord cutters mean clubs are gonna struggle with future TV deals? Seems like a bubble that could burst, but then again, plenty of fans are still gonna want to watch the games.
Keith Law: It depends on where and whether cord-cutters go for their baseball content. If MLB.tv ends up with a local team option, then that might balance out the revenues – but also provides another chance for MLB to smooth out the revenue gaps between the largest and smallest markets. If 100% of TV revenue came from MLB.tv, for instance, then they could simply divide it equally among all teams. Then the revenue gap would be from attendance and corporate sponsorships, so large market teams would still have an advantage, but much less of one, and maybe revenue-sharing could even go away.

Moltar: If the Mets don’t add Guillorme to the 40 man, he’ll definitely get rule-V’d, no? I feel like the glove would play off the bench at the minimum.
Keith Law: I’m not sure – I wouldn’t say it’s definite. It might be an 8 glove and a 3 bat. That’s not easy to carry.

Dan: Albert Almora Jr. improved mightily against RHP in the second half (123 wRC+). With his above average defense and ability to crush LHP seems like he’s turning into an above average regular.
Keith Law: I do think he’s a regular.

Ben: Have you gotten a chance to see much of Andrew Knizner at AFL? How would you compare to Carson Kelly?
Keith Law: Not even close to Kelly for me. Kelly’s the same seasonal age and already has succeeded in AAA, with good receiving skills and more bat. Knizner has to catch or he’s not a prospect, and I don’t think the glove is a sure thing.

John S: Houston makes the world series. Its rebuild has been marvelous even if not perfect (Aiken, Appel). And… they fire their scouts. What gives? I read that the org wants to focus even more on analytics. Fine and well, but it’s not like there is some cap on what can be spent on scouting. Is it an issue of too much information dilutes useful information?
Keith Law: They believe pro scouting is becoming obsolete. I disagree, of course, but it is their philosophy that trackman data and video ‘scouting’ can replace it.

Stuxnet: Its been a disappointing few years for the Texas Rangers, and they look like they have a mediocre major league team with a bad farm system, putting them in a bad spot for the future. Is it time for them to get a new g.m. in place, since it appears the rest of the league has passed Jon Daniels by?
Keith Law: They won the AL West in 2016, Van Winkle.

Moltar: Consensus seems to be that Calloway is a good hire, but what kind of impact can we expect to see him make on the Mets’ pitchers in the upcoming season?
Keith Law: I would guess very little, now that he’s the manager and not the pitching coach. The latter will be the name that matters to your question.

Amy: Cora got his gig! What will you do with all this free time? Also, thoughts on how Sox get some power in there?
Keith Law: I’m thrilled for him. It’s a good situation given the solid young core on that roster … and potentially difficult given some of the personalities among the veterans. Devers has power, Betts showed more power in 2016 than 2017, Bogaerts has power when his hand isn’t hurt, I think Benintendi will be a 25-30 homer guy. What they could really use is a power hitter at 1b, but the four big 1b free agents (Hosmer, Santana, Morrison, Alonso) aren’t really power bats. I like Sam Travis a lot as a prospect, but I think he’s more a hitter for average than for power.

Craig: I keep thinking back to Brett Gardner’s amazing at bat in Game 7 of the ALDS. I was rooting for the Indians, but by about pitch 10, I just wanted the at-bat to be over. If I felt that way watching it, I can’t imagine how Cody Allen felt trying to pitch to him.

Is being able to continually foul-off pitches a skill that can be taught? If so, how?
Keith Law: I think it’s a function of hand-eye coordination above all else. That is the biggest thing I didn’t see with Pedroia as a rookie (well, that and he was out of shape in September 2006) – he was exceptional at fouling off pitches he couldn’t hit, which is how he made that really unconventional swing work.

Jake: How has Tyler Jay looked in AFL?
Keith Law: What I saw was great, but I talked to Eric Longenhagen last week and he saw about 2 mph less on the fastball than I did.

Dennis: Which are your favorite Agatha Christie novels?
Keith Law: Murder of Roger Ackroyd always stands out for me. I’m nervous about this movie … the ending of Murder on the Orient Express is so iconic that they can’t change it, and I think a lot of people know it, so how will they craft a compelling story where a decent portion of the audience knows the culprit?

Warren for Pres 2020!: Do you think that whenever Trump’s reign of terror is over, we’ll see a cascade of books from various current/former WH staff, such as Sean “Puffy” Spicer and Sarah Huckabee “Don’t Call Me Colonel” Sanders, detailing their true feelings about the human bottle of Ipecac they’re forced to defend and rationalize on a daily basis?
Keith Law: No question. Once it’s safe, there will be dozens of books, documentaries, even some “Game Change” style TV series about it.

Alex: Keith what do you make of all the coaching/front office changes the Giants have made? From the outside the coaches seem like the least of their problems.
Keith Law: I’d heard they felt like the clubhouse had gotten stale. Whether that’s true, or at all relevant to the on-field performance, is another matter.

RSO: Is Brett Gardner criminally underrated? He has the 47th best WAR all-time for a left fielder, and was second this year in WAR (ahead of Gary Sanchez) on the Yankees.
Keith Law: He’s spent about 1/3 of his games in CF, which probably skewed those rankings, and I’ve noticed some centerfielders who play left end up with crazy defensive numbers there because the average at that position is pulled down by the Matt Kemps of the world (hey, we can’t play this guy anywhere, so put him in left). His WAR puts him right with Jeff Heath, a player from the 1940s who played in a roughly similar number of games, and whom I’d never heard of till just now.

Dennis: Are Jahmai Jones and Brandon Marsh of the Angels top 100 prospects? If not, are they close?
Keith Law: Jones was on my top 100 already.

Bort: Hey Keith, thanks as always for your writing and for the chat. If Luis Castillo’s changeup continues to be effective against lefties (21% whiff rate, .110 ISO this year) but his fringy slider doesn’t improve, do you think he will still be an above-average starter? Do you think he’ll be better than Dinelson Lamet, who seems to have a fringy changeup but an effective slider?
Keith Law: I think I’d rather have the FB/CH guy than the FB/SL guy. You can still get same-side hitters with the CH but it’s really hard to get other-side hitters out with a breaking ball (as a starter – lots of relievers do this).

Ron: HI Keith- Any thoughts on the Twins hiring of John Manuel? Good, bad or not any impact? Do you think Molitor is going to embrace more analytics or still old school? Thanks!
Keith Law: Very happy for John. I wouldn’t say the hiring of any area scout, no matter how good, would have an impact the average fan would see. That’s no slight on John, whom I expect to do excellent work for the Twins.

Darryl: Starting a MLB team from scratch today…who’s your 1st pick? Trout? Harper? Correa? Seager?
Keith Law: Still Trout. All great choices. Machado belongs in the discussion set, though.

Amy: Do you think Mookie could still play 2b? Is he capable?
Keith Law: I do, he was very good there, but you’d lose a lot of defense in the OF from doing so.

Matt: The Cards have put together a pretty nice, cost-controlled rotation ( Weaver, CMart, Reyes, Flaherty). Knowing that young SP can be fickle, how do you think this sets them up for the next few years?
Keith Law: I don’t think that’s enough in bulk innings or starter certainty. They can certainly supplement from outside – and you didn’t include Hudson or Alcantara, both reasonably close – but that’s only a beginning, not a complete solution.

Sam: Considering the success Altuve is having do you see scouts being more open to not rule someone out because of size or other traditional measures or is he just so far of an outlier that it will have no impact?
Keith Law: Bregman was the #2 pick in the draft, and wasn’t going much later than that anyway, and he’s maybe 5’8″. Benintendi’s no giant. Stroman might be 5’9″, Sonny Gray 5’8″. Nick Allen is 5’6″ and got $2 million (I think) in the draft last year. So teams are open to it. It’s just one factor among many – if you’re small, but strong, with a sound swing, and play a skill position, you’ll still get lots of consideration. Altuve was just so small at 15 that he couldn’t even get the Astros to sign him – they cut him the first time from their scout team in VZ and he had to come back the next day with his dad to beg for another chance.

Jesse: Have you tried Century: Spice Road yet? I think you and your family might really enjoy it. It’s similar to Slendor with maybe a little more strategy.
Keith Law: I played it at GenCon and agree it’s very similar to Splendor, with maybe a little more variation in how you can approach the game. But I didn’t think it was novel – it felt familiar to me.

Evan: Was Avi Garcia’s season a BABIP driven mirage, or is he actually good now?
Keith Law: Can it be both?

Chris: Do you have more info on Jhailyn Ortiz, stats looking good and as a Phillies fan never heard of him
Keith Law: Very interesting power bat with feel to hit, better athlete than expected given his size. They gave him a lot of money as an amateur, and I know some scouts were down on him because they thought he’d get fat, but so far he’s looked great.

Matt: I haven’t seen this mentioned, but the way the Dodgers managed the game last night was…odd. Using 9 relief pitchers in a game vs Verlander?
Keith Law: Hill was wobbly early, no problem with going to Maeda. Really, I can’t blame Roberts for anything. Hinch pressed the “HIT DINGERS” button and that was that.

Eddie Gaedel: If Kong is allowed to return in 2018, do you have the same moral aversion to him as you do to domestic abusers? After all, he risked people’s lives by driving drunk, and he was a serial offender. Can baseball allow him to return on a probationary period, and should they?
Keith Law: I would have no problem with MLB banning him, or even the government saying he can’t get a work visa now. He’s dangerous.

Jimmy: How much do teams factor in Coors for free agents leaving Colorado? I’m mostly wondering if teams will overlook some of Jake McGee’s struggles and treat like he’s the same guy he was with the Rays.
Keith Law: Statcast data will help players in extreme environments, I think. I’m a big McGee fan and will have him fairly high for a reliever on my FA rankings, which I believe go up 11/6.

Matt: What is your degree of confidence that any of De La Cruz, Albertos, Clifton, or Alzolay will be able to help Cub rotation at some point in ’18 or ’19?
Keith Law: 2018, very low. 2019, Alzolay or maybe Clifton. De la Cruz can’t stay healthy and Albertos, while very talented, has barely pitched.

RSO: I know in the past you said Gleyber Torres is best suited for SS, but with Didi Gregorious in tow, what position would you rather play him at 2B or 3B?
Keith Law: Moving Torres off shortstop wastes a good portion of his value.

Ed: I spatchcocked my Turkey last year, and am already getting request this year for it despite not even hosting TG. There is no going back
Keith Law: Really is a game changer. Plus it cooks faster.

Evan: Do the Braves have a hidden gem at catcher in Alex Jackson or is he still too big of a liability behind the plate?
Keith Law: You need to read my AFL posts. He was the lead item in the second one.

Harrisburg Hal: Thanks for posting about the board game apps last week – after feeling like I’d mastered Splendor, I purchased Jaipur and got repeatedly pummeled by the AI.
Keith Law: The Jaipur app’s medium AI kicks my ass. I am not good at that game.

Pete: Last night’s game was fun to watch, but to me, the best play was Hernandez’s tying single that scored Forsythe, which was more fun than watching solo home run after solo home run. If baseball keeps the same ball, combined with the length of games, this isn’t a good long-term outlook for the enjoyment of the sport. Thoughts?
Keith Law: Agree – the last three innings were exciting, but I’d much rather see more balls in play and fewer HR/K. It also felt like we were just waiting for the next homer. It’s aesthetic, though – it was still a great game.

Kelly : How does being on the disabled list affect the Rule 5 draft? (For example, Sam Coonrood in the Giants system was Rule 5 eligible but is on the DL for Tommy John’s.)
Keith Law: There is no offseason DL. All those players must be activated and assigned to a roster.

Steven: Last night Smoltz implied the analytics were to take Hill out after 4 but that seemed to hurt them later when they were very low on bullpen depth when it mattered. Seems like this was a case of over analysis rather than a manager observing that he had a guy who was pitching well with a decent pitch count. Had the been able to get another inning or two out of him it may have made a big difference in the 8-11 innings.
Keith Law: Maybe, but I didn’t think Hill looked sharp, and you really can’t manage inning 5 around innings 10 and 11.

BigPapaChuck: Do you think the Braves already know their fate but have to keep silent until MLB announces it after the WS? They have to have a lot of contingency plans in place, no?
Keith Law: I don’t think that is the case.

Pat D: The word is that the Yankees will look for someone with a mind to analytics. So obviously Dusty isn’t a candidate, right? Is there anyone you know of who might fit that bill who’s ready?
Keith Law: I never heard that Girardi was anti-analytics, so maybe they just want someone even more in favor of using it? It’s a little strange to me. I also don’t know if they’d consider a rookie manager again, or if they want someone who’s managed MLB teams before. Manny Acta is one of the latter who I know is very open to analytics, since I worked with him on BBTN.

JP: % chance Stanton is traded this offseason? And best guess where to?
Keith Law: Low. 20%.

Tom: In the post game last night, Frank Thomas said he didn’t like bringing guys in for a 6 out save essentially because they haven’t been in those situations all season, and hence haven’t practiced it. Granted this was on the heels of Jansen and Giles both blowing leads, but do you find merit in this logic?
Keith Law: I don’t, and I don’t think it was the reason they blew those leads. Jansen threw one bad pitch to Marwin. Is that because he wasn’t used to facing five batters in an outing?

Chris : Who’s going to shell out years and dollars to this year’s starting pitcher FA class? It seems like all clubs realize second contracts for SPs dont make sense unless your name is Scherzer or something.
Keith Law: Except that they’ll all get to the GM meetings, look at their depth charts, and realize they need pitching, and this market is all they have. Guys will still get paid, at least on a per-year basis.

Daniel: Shipley is now old for a prospect but is he still a SP for you? Stillhas two solid secondaries and is a great athlete despite the dip in velocity.
Keith Law: Still a starter, but he needs his old fastball back to be more than a five.

Dr. Bob: You go to the AFL every year. If it is a lot of SSS and guys working on things, what are you and other scouts hoping to see there?
Keith Law: It’s not really guys working on things – that’s instructional league – just guys getting more reps. So it’s a good way to look at swings, deliveries, BP, guys facing better competition than they saw during the year, plus a lot of players on the 40-man bubble (like Guillorme) on whom you might want one more scouting report.

Chris : Would you move Wheeler or Matz to the bullpen? Does it even matter, bc more likely than not they’ll both just get hurt anyway?
Keith Law: I’d consider it depending on what the doctors say. Relief work isn’t a panacea for arm trouble; some guys would get hurt with all the back-to-back usage too.

Daniel: I read that you had Houser 92-95 with a good CB in the AFL. If he can remain healthy he’s a SP, yes?
Keith Law: He’s a starter.

Martha Stewart: Are there any cooking shows you watch besides Iron Chef? Do you have a favorite ‘ethnic food’?
Keith Law: I don’t watch Iron Chef, just Top Chef. Isn’t pretty much all food ethnic?

Jimmy: I’ve read a few times that the Yankees’ player development people have great success helping their pitching prospects throw harder. It always comes up in profiles about Chance Adams. Do you know if there’s any evidence that they’re actually better at it than other teams? Or is this just an anecdote someone noticed and a bunch of other people grabbed?
Keith Law: It’s anecdotal evidence across a pretty long list of players, so I’m inclined to believe it. I know I’ve seen a lot of these guys in Trenton the last few years. Adams isn’t even the best example, with a slightly above average fastball. They got Tate’s fastball back. Sheffield throws harder than ever now. And they keep finding these relievers, like Cody Carroll, late in the draft who get into the system and suddenly start bumping 98.

Craig: How do you feel about Trump’s tax plan announcement?
Keith Law: I think the evidence does not support their claim that tax cuts for the highest income levels will boost economic growth. That may have been true in the 1960s, when the top marginal rates were over 50%, but it appears to be untrue today, when even the top rates are moderate for a developed country. I do think tax cuts can stimulate the economy, but need to go to people who’ll increase consumption as well as investment, and I think no one wants to talk about the benefit of radical tax reform because both parties love to regulate behavior through taxation. (But please, tell me why anyone should be able to deduct mortgage interest – up to $1 million of it! – on a *second* home.)

Timothy : How much stock do you put into the AFL? (Ex: Alex Jackson)
Keith Law: AFL performance is close to meaningless. It’s too small of a sample, in a very hitter-friendly environment. Joey Terdoslavich led the league in homers one year and Atlanta fans went nuts when I said he wasn’t really a prospect.

Patrick: What do you think of Thario? Can he be marketed as a starting infielder and used as trade bait, or is he better served in a utility/depth role? Do you like him or Wade better?
Keith Law: Thairo is a second division starter for me, or a good utility guy. Might have more value in trade in a package given their depth chart.

Clyde: Did Michael Gettys make any progress this year? 191 whiffs certainly suggest not, but he did up his walk rate, I believe.
Keith Law: He was repeating high-A. No.

Nick: Does Justus Sheffield have #1 stuff?
Keith Law: Sure looked like it in the AFL. We’ll see if he can pitch with that stuff for a full season, but it’s very promising.

Brian: Can we please kill the K Zone, now also appearing on Fox? I would like to see the pitch with my own eyes. If it’s a debatable call, show me the K Zone on replay. Am I wrong?
Keith Law: Not a huge fan either. I have Gameday for that stuff. I tend to watch games both ways.

Antonio: What is it about Chance Adams that doesn’t really get him prospect list love? Supposedly throws hard and the numbers are obviously there. I don’t get it.
Keith Law: Doesn’t throw that hard, doesn’t have a real out pitch, undersized without great fastball plane.

Patty O’Furniture: Giancarlo’s not really going to the Giants, is he?
Keith Law: It makes no sense for either club. The Giants’ system is weak at the moment, so the Marlins wouldn’t get much of a return. And the Giants would be taking on an albatross contract for a player who doesn’t make them a contender right away.

Sean: Keith, having just finished your book and reading about the Astros use of high-speed cameras and such in their pro scouting, I have a question about player development. How much is this stuff being used in the minor leagues?
Keith Law: It’s all over the place. You can’t go to a minor league game without seeing the cameras the parent clubs have set up to record their own guys and the visitors.

Daniel: Is it just injuries that have derailed Gilbert Lara so far? Or is he not that good?
Keith Law: I think he’s just not that good, but he’ll turn 20 on Monday and I don’t want to entirely write him off.

Pete: Isn’t a stale clubhouse what you get when all your players are old?
Keith Law: You might say that, yes.

Ridley Kemp: Are you aware of any benefits that Major League Baseball is involved with for Puerto Rico? I’ve been poking around and can’t find anything, which surprises me given the league’s ties to the island.
Keith Law: They gave $1 million in the wake of the hurricane, and individual teams have done more as well (I think the Pirates in particular have).

Patty O’Furniture: Would a bad contract swap of Matt Kemp for Jacoby Ellsbury be beneficial for either team? Or is that just kicking the can down the road?
Keith Law: I’d rather have Ellsbury. I don’t think Kemp has any value at all.

addoeh: I assume you have started your free agent list. How difficult is it to get to 50?
Keith Law: Getting to 50 isn’t hard, but the quality drops off right around 30. Beyond that, my capsules will be much shorter.

Ryan: What are your thoughts on the direction the Pirates are heading? They obviously had a fantastic 3 year run, but are now coming off of back to back losing seasons and the young reinforcements that were supposed to be arriving to bolster those playoff rosters have not lived up to expectations aside from Bell and maybe Taillon. I’m concerned the window already shut without them ever even getting out of the NLDS.
Keith Law: Might be time to churn the roster a bit – not a full rebuild, but to trade away some guys approaching free agency before they leave. They also had disappointing years from four of their top five prospects, and that has to turn around, obviously.

Dennis: As an Angels fan, I’m glad that Mike Scioscia’s ridiculous 10 year deal is up after next season. Do you agree that they should hire a new manager?
Keith Law: Yes. If they won’t just fire him, they should tell him beforehand this is it, and if he wants to stay and manage, they’ll honor him at season-end with some big celebration or whatever. I don’t care. They just need new thinking in the dugout and he’s not providing it.

Matt: I’ve heard you mention often that the Orioles aggressively revamp their young pitchers’ deliveries. Zach Davies also mentioned this briefly in a Fangraphs interview. Could you give us some specifics? What are they doing? Is this a Dan Duquette thing? Or a Buck thing? Or just a long-standing Orioles thing?
Keith Law: My understanding is that it’s been Buck and also some of their pitching coaches, not Duquette. I personally don’t like it – I would never change a pitcher’s delivery unless he was having injury or effectiveness problems. You’re asking for trouble.

Alex: Have you heard any scouts discuss Kolby Allard’s year? Was his velocity as down as reports say – 88-92. I know you had him in your Top 50.
Keith Law: He was 88-93 the last time I saw him in HS, and generally is 90-93 anyway, so I don’t know how this is “down” enough to worry about, especially for a young guy who doubled his workload this year.

Sage: Thoughts on Chili Davis new cubs hitting coach.
Keith Law: Who knows? I really don’t think we know much about the values of most coaches, unless they have several big successes or several big failures.

Max: What kind of return do you think the yankees would get if they traded Didi this offseason?
Keith Law: I wouldn’t deal him for less than a mid-rotation starter. And you might get more, if one was available. With Torres coming off TJ, though, there’s no urgency for a deal.

Ghost of Randy Smith : Do you think the Red Sox would take Miguel Cabrera?
Keith Law: They’d be foolish to do so.

CL : I saw on Baseball America that Max Fried was comped to James Paxton, would you agree with this assessment?
Keith Law: I would not. They’re so different from delivery to stuff to health history.

Matt: Pete is wrong. The best play was clearly the 2nd Base Ump getting drilled in the nads.
Keith Law: It worked on so many levels!
Keith Law: I just realized we’re way past 2 pm, so I’ll wrap this up now. Thank you all as always for reading and for all of your questions. I should be back as usual next Thursday to do this again. Enjoy the rest of the Series! #fyeahbaseball

Klawchat 10/19/17.

My two Arizona Fall League roundup posts are both up for Insiders – part one and part two.

Keith Law: Most of all you’ve got to hide it from the kids. Klawchat.

Tom Flannery: What every day position players do you see the Cubs possibly shopping this offseason for a pitcher to replace Arrieta, assuming they definitely do not re-sign him? Also, are there any free agent bullpen arms you can see them going after?
Keith Law: I feel like they already did that with the trade for Quintana. He’s the Arrieta replacement. The FA class is fairly weak overall but I will have full rankings as usual after the World Series.

Tanaka: If Tanaka opts out (which he probably will $67 mil shouldn’t be hard to beat) what would you be willing to offer him?
Keith Law: I don’t know if he’ll opt out given the known issue with his elbow. The weak class works in his favor, but I’m not sure about teams offering him much more given that he’s seen as more of a risk for a season-ending injury than your average starter.

Greg: A couple Alex Jackson questions: 1) are the issues you saw fixable ones behind the plate? 2) if he has to move back to the outfield, what were the reports on his defense in a corner when he was with Seattle? 3) is the bat enough to profile as a corner OF in the big leagues? Thanks for the chat.
Keith Law: I don’t think they are fixable, he’s playable in the outfield but not average, the bat may still profile.

Brian: I’ve become frustrated with the Cubs starting Jon Jay in now 7 straight playoff games. Jon Jay is fine, but I refuse to beleieve Jon Jay should be starting 7 straight playoff games. Am I right to be frustrated…or is it just that Heyward has lost himself and Schwarber can’t hit lefties, etc.?
Keith Law: I don’t see the great alternative here, especially with Schwarber essentially a platoon guy at the moment.

Chris : Marcos Molina and Peter Alonso for Dee Gordon with Mets taking on all of his solid contract, who says no? (I think Marlins would probably want more but asking as a delusional Mets fan)
Keith Law: Delusional indeed.

Peter: Assuming Cora gets hired by the Red Sox, do you have any views on the managerial qualities of any of the remaining candidates for the Mets already interviewed (Callaway, Long, Acta and McEwing)?
Keith Law: I know Acta, having worked with him a few years at ESPN, and think he brings a strong mix of analytical and traditional thinking to the table, and the ability to work with a lot of different sorts of players. Also bilingual, which I think is a huge advantage. I’d absolutely recommend him. I don’t know the others personally, but have heard nothing but praise for Callaway as a pitching coach (which is a very different role than manager).

Frank: North Korea’s rhetoric is really beginning to scare me. Will we still be around in a year’s time?
Keith Law: I’m more scared of our guy than their guy. They have everything to lose by launching a real attack – their economy is only propped up by imports and foreign aid, or else there’d be famine.

Bob: I think you have mentioned it somewhere in a chat before, but do you have any book recommendations for a first time expecting father?
Keith Law: The Happiest Baby on the Block.

Jay: If you could pick one show that’s been cancelled to come back for one more season, what would it be?
Keith Law: I’d take as much Broadchurch as I could get. Others: Pushing Daisies, Atlantis, Firefly.

Rahn: How does Shane Baz slot in the Pirates’ rankings for you? Does he have Mitch Keller kind of upside? And how do you feel about Ke’Bryan Hayes with his stops and starts due to injury?
Keith Law: I haven’t even looked at org top 10s or 20s yet. I think Baz has a bigger arm than Keller, but is a different kind of pitcher, more power, less command/breaking ball.

Ryan: Has Corey Ray’s swing changed dramatically from when you saw him in the spring of 2016 and if so, is it fixable?
Keith Law: I detailed the changes in his setup in my first AFL post (linked above). Fixable, but why hasn’t anyone done it yet?

Eddy: Learned about a couple of power bats in the twins system, Brent Rooker and Lewin Diaz. Anything of note with them?
Keith Law: Couple of power bats. Rooker has been old for almost everywhere he’s played, and you’re hoping he can work in left field. Diaz is younger, maybe more hit tool right now, but also might not have a position.

Matt: Last night Tim Kurkjian said the Yankees best hitter was Sanchez and not Judge. Do you agree?
Keith Law: I do not. I think it’s Judge.

Mac: Do you think an amateur pitcher can learn to throw strikes or is strike throwing an innate skill?
Keith Law: I think pitchers can improve control and command, but there are other variables that make it easier or harder, like athleticism or repeatability of a delivery.

EricVA: Greg Bird has looked great…when healthy. Do you think his true level is what we saw in 2015 or is that too optimistic?
Keith Law: Probably a little below 2015, but more than good enough to write him into the 2017 Opening Day lineup. This is part of why I’ve never bought them as a Hosmer destination – they have Bird, and they love him as a player. If they believe he’s healthy, going outside for a 1b makes little sense.

David: If you were named GM of the Braves, what moves would you look to make for this upcoming season? Would you just go with the kids, or try and acquire a guy like Stanton?
Keith Law: Would explore the market for hitters, especially at spots where the farm is weaker (3b comes to mind), and see if some of the upper level pitching depth could be packaged in such a deal.

Jshep12: Most interesting Arizona Fall League team??
Keith Law: Eh, they’re all interesting, but I wish I’d seen Peoria another time or two.

Cora: So from what it sounds like right now Alex Cora is going to have his pick of managerial openings which opening would you say is most attractive?
Keith Law: Depends on what he wants. Boston is a win-now situation with a tremendous and talented young core, but comes with high expectations and a couple of strong personalities to deal with. Philadelphia might be more interesting to someone who’s focused on development, given the wave of young hitters who’ve already arrived or are on their way.

Dana: Putting career length aside for the moment, is Didi Gregorious a better player than Derek Jeter? More power, better defense for sure.
Keith Law: Does he have more power, or is he playing with a juiced ball?

RSO: Is Gleyber Torres better suited to play 2nd base or 3rd base?
Keith Law: He’s best suited to play shortstop.

Dr. Bob: Though the paradigm established by the use of Andrew Miller and others last postseason did not really carry into the regular season, it has broken out in a huge and unexpected way this postseason. Few starters going beyond the 4th inning, 4-6 relief pitchers most nights and 4 -hour games. Is this an anomaly or a trend?
Keith Law: I think it’s a trend, but as others have pointed out, it might be a bit overused too. The rational argument behind it is largely the “times through the order” issue. That doesn’t necessarily support the “let’s empty the bullpen” strategy we seem to see.

RSO: After his performance so far in the playoffs would you resign Masahiro Tanaka if he opts out if you were the Yankees?
Keith Law: Yes, in that they know more about his health than any other team. If they’re not interested, that would be a tremendous negative signal.

Angel: What you think the Yankees should do with Torres/Andújar situation? It seem like one of the two don’t have a spot on the team for next year.. same goes for Clint Frazier if they can’t get rid of ellsbury
Keith Law: Does Andujar have to make the team next year? Seems like both guys would benefit from starting in AAA again, Torres to make up for lost reps, Andujar to continue to work on recognition and defense.

Moe Mentum: If I get accepted at an Ivy League college, should I go? There’s a “next-tier” school that I might like a little better, but that’s a pretty big opportunity I’d be declining.
Keith Law: I think going to an Ivy confers two tangible benefits: the value of the name on your resume, and the value of the alumni network. They’re not all equal in those regards, though. On the other hand, they can be prohibitively expensive, and I wouldn’t advocate them if you have a much more affordable “next-tier” option available, especially if the latter school is strong in your desired area of study.

Daniel: You think Fried’s most realistic outcome is an underachieving 3/4?
Keith Law: No, I think his most realistic outcome is a solid 3 with a chance of a 2-plus. Will probably need to work more with his offspeed and less with his four-seamer.

Daniel: Tapia should take over for CarGo, right?
Keith Law: Yes. CarGo very quietly had an atrocious season this year – under replacement level by FG.

Gene Mullett: Thanks for heads up on Twitter. Are you a fan of that site? I find it a necessary evil. Hate going there, but it’s where all my favorite baseball & hockey writers are now.
Keith Law: Yep. There’s value there, but they remain underequipped (or insufficiently motivated) to deal with the real problems of harassment, hate speech, and fake accounts. Oh, by the way, I just got a notification on my phone suggesting I watch the Periscope feed of a neo-Nazi speaking at some school in Florida. Not helping, Twitter.

Daniel: Tanner Scott the best RP prospect in the minors?
Keith Law: No.

Daniel: Julian Merryweather seems to have a 4/5 profile to me. That sound right to you? Or is he more of a long-man?
Keith Law: Sounds right to me.

DH: How much do you suppose Austin Hays will hit? is he a .280 hitter with 29 hr’s at his peak?
Keith Law: The HR projections all depend on what the baseball is like, no? Just about every regular hit 5+ homers more than I would have projected or, I think, most projection systems would have had for them a few years back. I think he can hit for average and power, yes, with moderate to low OBPs.

Christian: Hello, big fan of you work and thank you for all of the quality content. I was wondering if you can explain why minor league teams are not in Canada anymore? I remember minor league teams in Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, etc. Now if I do not believe any minor league team plays in Canada, just wanted to know if this was an MLB decision or individual teams? Thank you in advance.
Keith Law: I believe low attendance & expense of travel to/from those places (Edmonton is just this side of Yellowknife) were the two drivers.
Keith Law: Vancouver has a short-season team, BTW.

Danny: Do you know why Dillon Tate wasn’t sent to the AFL? Concerned about another injury?
Keith Law: Don’t know, players are pulled all the time for trivial reasons, and he pitched quite a bit down the stretch as Trenton made the playoffs.

addoeh: Why would Houston fire all of its scouts?
Keith Law: They believe pro scouting is becoming obsolete thanks to trackman data becoming available at nearly every minor league park and the prevalence of minor league video. I don’t agree, but it’s a take.

Mike: Do teams get access to prospects’ medical reports prior to the draft ? Didn’t Brady Singer go unsigned as a 2nd round pick out of HS after Toronto found something iffy on an MRI ? How will that affect his 2018 draft status ?
Keith Law: Teams only get the medical reports players submit, and if a player hasn’t had an MRI before the draft, there’s nothing for him to send to teams. I won’t comment on an amateur player’s medicals unless they’re already public.

Adam D.: Do you think Duggar can take over as the starting CF in San Francisco by June?
Keith Law: He looked off his game last week; I think the lost season has really held him back.

Gary: The Stanton to the Giants rumor persists….would simply taking on his contract while adding a low grade prospect or two be enough? Because, the Giants really have nothing but lower grade prospects to offer.
Keith Law: Who’s pushing that rumor? It doesn’t make much sense to me.

Adam D.: If the Giants are intent on getting Chris Shaw on the field, would you have him try to fake LF or send Belt out there?
Keith Law: Shaw can’t play LF. That’s not an option.

EricVA: Is the characterization of Tanaka being more injury-prone a fair one? I hear this a lot, but it’s been years and he hasn’t had an issue.
Keith Law: He’s not injury-prone. He has a known issue, but he’s pitched with it for years.

RSO: What’s your take on Jordan Montgomery going forward? What is his upside?
Keith Law: This is it, or perhaps less. He already did more than I expected given his stuff, but was worse in the second half as teams saw him more.

James: Bo Bichette, smoke and mirrors or the real deal?
Keith Law: He was on my midseason top 50 prospects update.

Hinkie: Cesar Hernandez for Tyler Skaggs and Brandon Marsh. Who says “no” ?
Keith Law: Angels would say no, with obscenities.

Tom: While watching Granderson strike out twice in the same at bat, I couldn’t help but notice that if he had just bunted against the shift, he could have downed an Old Style before trotting to first base. Why don’t more players take advantage of this?
Keith Law: Pride? Discomfort? Lack of experience bunting? I don’t know, since it’s an easy hit if it’s executed right, and you don’t have to execute it every time for it to be a net positive for the team.

Patty O’Furniture: Will the Braves lose draft picks in addition to IFA fines (and possible, but less likely, loss of prospects)?
Keith Law: It’s possible but unknown. From reading some of the media coverage around it, there’s a lot of covering of asses going on right now.

Dennis: Have you read any of Knausgaard’s “My Struggle” books? Any interest if you haven’t?
Keith Law: No interest.

Andy: Is there an org with a bleaker future than the Royals’? Bad contracts, no help coming, Twins rising, Indians dominant, White Sox to emerge.
Keith Law: Their near-term could be ugly, but if they stockpile draft picks from the impending FA losses – and then draft well – they could get back on track pretty quickly.

Dennis: Have you read Proust? If so, would you recommend?
Keith Law: I read Swann’s Way and the first part of book two. It’s a grind. The man couldn’t complete a sentence to save his life. It’s pathological.

Andrew: I’m growing increasingly frustrated with my psychiatrist because I feel he feels I’m too stable which is a good thing but deep down, I struggle to finish my own sentences and I’m still depressed. I suffer from bipolar disorder and I’ve brought up things like Wellbutrin/Adderall and he tells me that he feels the medication I”m on is ok and there’s no need to switch out of fear that I may end up back at the hospital with a manic episode. This guy’s such a nice man but Is it best I find a new psychiatrist? Man that’ll be one tough conversation.
Keith Law: If you’re not getting the results you want, then you should find a new doctor. There are so many medication options, individually and in combination, and the results seem to be so personal that I think it’s foolish to advise a patient to just accept the status quo even when he’s not satisfied with it. Good luck.

Carl: The O’s tossed out the idea of putting Hunter Harvey in the ML bullpen in 2018. Am I right in thinking that’s nuts?
Keith Law: Bonkers.

Dennis: If Justin Upton opts out, should the Angels try to bring him back? Would a 5 year, $110 million deal be reasonable or potentially another Hamiltonian disaster?
Keith Law: I think he’s in line for a big deal like that if he opts out; Hamilton was such an exception AND was seen as a bad deal at the time, whereas Upton lacks his off-field or physical problems.

Jason: If expansion happened (big if, I know), would the introduction of 25 or additional bullpen slots and diffusion of talent reduce the number of strikeouts, or are there more guys available who can throw hard and get Ks in short stints?
Keith Law: I think we’d see the shortage of starters exacerbated, at least in the short term. If MLB ever expands, which I do believe will happen eventually (just not imminently), I would hope it would come along with increased investment by the league in developing talent outside of the U.S.

Sven: Do you give any credence to the Hillary/Russia/Uranium story that appears to be gaining legitimacy? If it actually happened, she and everyone who knew about the deals being cut should all be in jail, or worse.
Keith Law: Please take your fake-news bullshit back to Stormfront. Thanks.

Eric: Keith did you ever listen to any Tragically Hip stuff, either during your time with the Jays or otherwise? We’re hurting up here.
Keith Law: I did, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Josef: Any reason why a pro pitcher can’t throw a strike on 3-0 when they know the hitter is taking and they throw a fastball? I’d think that location wouldn’t be that hard.
Keith Law: Two things. One, you don’t want to throw a perfect, down-the-middle strike 100% of the time on 3-0, because the batter might swing. Two, pitching is hard.

Chris: Who do you see being the more impact starter for the Tigers, Burrows or Faedo?
Keith Law: Burrows is much more likely to be a starter; I think the odds on Faedo are more likely that he’s a reliever.

TJ: Do you buy this idea that the Yankees are going to sell low on Betances this offseason? They don’t need the money so it doesn’t make sense. Addition by subtraction makes no sense either as they are still rolling right now even with him sour
Keith Law: I don’t think it makes sense, not given his struggles of late and low salary. He’s superfluous to that loaded bullpen, but they’d be selling for maybe 85 cents on the dollar.

Marcus Wilson: When will I get some recognition?
Keith Law: Define recognition. You had a great season, but it was your fourth year in pro ball.

Alex: Have you heard anything from Braves instructs? Eric Longenhagen was saying the big names have disappointed and I could only assume that means Maitan.
Keith Law: I did, and of course I spent a lot of time with Eric last week too. I saw some video of Maitan (did I say this last week?) and his swing was ugly, esp from the L side.

Ken: Would this hypothetical MLB expansion be the nightmare it seems to be on paper?
Keith Law: I think so, especially if, as the unsourced speculation says, they expand to two cities that will likely end up revenue-sharing recipients in the long term. It makes no sense to move to small markets. If you believe Montreal will support a team with a different stadium, which I think is unclear, then that is the largest market in US/Canada without a team. I have argued for a while that Austin and San Antonio would be one market for MLB purposes (they are two MSAs, and two markets in radio’s definition), which would encompass nearly 4.5 million people currently served only by triple-A teams.

Eric Rodriguez: What is the ceiling of Heliot Ramos?
Keith Law: Above-average everyday RF.

Erwin: Edmonton is 900 miles south of Yellowknife! And has a great ball park and had a terrific run in PCL for 24 years.
Keith Law: It’s really far from other PCL teams, and the weather isn’t great for baseball.

Worldwide Leader: Any changes on the horizon for you professionally? Seems like you’re one of the few ESPN Insiders still publishing…
Keith Law: Insider decisions are made above my paygrade. I’m still under contract for a while.

Drew: Any thoughts on the Nationals’ complete lack of post-season success? Bad luck? Poor managing? All of the above?
Keith Law: Bad luck more than anything. Dusty didn’t help this year, what with batting a sub-replacement level player 2nd in the lineup, but I can’t pin the loss on him.

Elton: Did you ever read “The Magicians” trilogy? I have been enjoying it immensely as a send-up of Potter/Narnia but also as a really enjoyable fantasy story in its own right.
Keith Law: Yep, loved it, reviews here on the site (books one, two, and three).

TJ: Fair to assume that the Marlins will be filled with known Jeter loyalists like Posada and Pettite in key roles?
Keith Law: Doesn’t it seem that way? It’s not as if he did an exhaustive search before hiring Denbo.

Colin : If a player is diagnosed with ADHD and is prescribed adderall are they allowed to take it or will they get suspended for banned substances.
Keith Law: They can apply for a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption). Something like 1 in 7 MLB players has a TUE for an ADHD drug, which means that more than 10% of the league is using speed, legally.

JR: Half way through book 12 of A Dance to the Music of Time and it’s been an enjoyable journey. Did you read all 12 books straight through or break it up by reading other books in between? I had to break it up to make the length not feel so overwhelming.
Keith Law: I broke it up, reading about one a month.

Justin Y: Super impressed by Albies down the stretch. Does he have 20 hr a season power in his prime?
Keith Law: With this ball, absolutely. With a regular ball, I might have said 15.

Terry: Have you seen the story about the Long Beach restaurant serving reheated Popeyes?
Keith Law: No, but that is fantastic.

Ozzie: Anything new on the situation in Atlanta? Do you think they lose players (Maitan) or receive significant penalties?
Keith Law: I haven’t heard anything I think I could print. There is a lot of unsourced speculation out there, including claims of criminal activity (which I believe team execs denied when they forced Coppolella and Blakely out), and I’m inclined to doubt everything until MLB weighs in.

Ed: Your liberal social stance sucks
Keith Law: Yes, I’m truly a terrible person for believing in science and supporting equal rights for everyone.

yo knows: Is there enough of a track record for the type of injury Urias had to have an idea of whether he’s going to be back where he was?
Keith Law: The limited number of players who’ve had that surgery should make you very pessimistic. He may be done. In fact, I think it’s at least even money that he is. And that, Ed, is something that actually sucks.

Moltar: There was a Fangraphs Community article recently that said a pitch at the corners was %25 more likely to be called a strike in a 3-0 count than an 0-2 count. That’s infuriating! Pace of play is a huge issue, why are we needlessly extending at bats? Robot umpires now!
Keith Law: That was in the book Scorecasting, published maybe five years ago. And yes, it’s ridiculous.

Blue Jay Way: Ryan Borucki good enough to make Toronto rotation next year? Top 100 consideration?
Keith Law: He is a prospect, but I don’t think he’s ready and he’s not a top 100 guy now.

Gene Mullett: Cleveland has drafted a lot better over the past few seasons, but the results they’ve had in trades (Santana, Kluber, Carrasco, & Bauer for example) are pretty remarkable. Is there an org that you think excels in asset management?
Keith Law: I think the Astros have done a remarkable job both in the draft and in finding low-level talent in trades, although the scout responsible for several of those finds (including Martes) just left for the Diamondbacks.

Luke: Best Dominion expansion outside of Intrigue?
Keith Law: Seaside really changes the game for the better, IMO.

Dischord40: Hi Keith, Are you planning on playing Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 and what is your opinion of legacy games in general?
Keith Law: My daughter and I are still on April of season one. It’s just hard for me, since I have to play so many new games to review, to play one game 12+ times, but the concept is great – really, anything that gets more people into the hobby is fine with me.

Matt: Keith, playing devil’s advocate here, I know you’ve advocated the Yankees trading Didi away to make room for Torres, but wouldn’t that be insanely risky for a contender to do? Didi’s not a star, but he’s a 3-4 win SS, and as good as Torres might look, he’s played just 55 games above High A. It seems like, at best, there’s a decent chance he never becomes the player Didi is right now, and that move would certainly make the Yankees worse-off in the short run (depending on the return for Didi, I guess).
Keith Law: I disagree that “there’s a decent chance he never becomes” a 3-4 WAR player. Very few shortstop prospects his age with his track record and favorable scouting reports have whiffed entirely like that. How often has the industry completely missed on a player who was a top prospect at 15 and then performed right out of the chute?

Moltar: Re: expansion, I have always been confused at how Atlanta is the only team in the South (excluding Florida). North Carolina, New Orleans and Tennessee support other big-4 franchises, yet never seem to be considered for Major League expansion.
Keith Law: Other sports don’t require the attendance or local population (for TV revenues) MLB does. I believe New Orleans’ MSA would be the smallest in MLB. Nashville’s would be in the bottom five.

Jim: And again, why are so many high on the Braves when their 2016 J2 class has underwhelmed and they have no other bats aside from Acuna and Pache.
Keith Law: Answered last week. They have a tremendous amount of pitching, and there are other J2 guys from 2016 beyond Maitan who have promise.

Bruce: Jorge Alfaro had some success in limited playing time this season though his walk rate continues to be horrendous. What are your expectations for him going forward offensively and defensively?
Keith Law: Can’t forecast him ever posting acceptable OBPs given his allergy to walks. He can really throw, he has 80 raw power, and I think he can put the bat on the ball enough to be a regular. The one deficit he can improve upon is his receiving – that can improve with work, and he has to commit to that to be their everyday guy next year.

Xandyfixit?: MrKeithLaw, what’s the future for Bogaerts? In the first half, before injuries, he seemed to be focusing on contact and not power. That’s great if he’s getting on base a substantial clip, but it wasn’t happening. Then the hits to the hands/injuries derailed everything and he seemed lost. Should he just sell out for power (as if that’s easy to do)?
Keith Law: Nice pull there. I think there’s more than average power there if he’s healthy, but couldn’t make hard enough contact once the hand injuries came. I’m still all in, and I wouldn’t advise him to change his approach at all.

Andrew: Was Keon Barnum much of a prospect coming out of high school?
Keith Law: I did not think so.

Chris: Did you see Calgary re-elected their mayor after the NHL essentially tried to interfere to get someone that would give more public money to the Flames? This is a small victory against giving public money to make rich people richer.
Keith Law: Let’s hope the people of Columbus, Ohio, do the same thing as their soccer team tries to extort money from the town.

Chris: Your liberal social stance doesn’t suck. Politics should be about arguing what to do with taxes…not fighting over equality and equity for all.
Keith Law: Agreed. And I don’t think my views on taxation would be characterized as “liberal.” (Probably not truly conservative either.)

Biscuit: Where are we at with Isan Diaz? Is the swing and miss too much to overcome, or does he end up having a few big power years in the majors?
Keith Law: Hamate injury this year. Check back in after a few months of 2018.

Marshall MN: What are your thoughts on Akil Baddoo as a prospect for the Twins, he broke out big time this year but its was low level A ball and its hard to know if those numbers will translate to anything.
Keith Law: Cautiously optimistic. Did get some very good reports on him this summer too.

Biscuit: Recently read Lonesome Dove. Loved every minute of it, and (unexpectedly) found myself laughing out loud at some of the verbal exchanges between McRea and Call. Having not seen the TV Series (which everyone seems to agree is legendary), I of course was excited to see this excellent book brought to life. Watched the first two episodes and….it’s garbage? I mean, books are generally better than movies but- man these two are not even close. No real question here, but thanks for yet another great book recommendation.
Keith Law: I never bothered with the series, given its length and age, but I’m glad to hear I made the right call.

Tex: What happens to the league when the tv bubble inevitably bursts?
Keith Law: I think MLB is already repositioning itself to sell more directly to consumers – which, by the way, could help smooth out revenue gaps between teams.

Dennis: Do you underline or write margin notes when you read fiction?
Keith Law: No, that’s heresy. But I’ll highlight on the Kindle when I read there.

Greyson: Is there any evidence of pitchers newer to pitching having a lower injury risk because they have more “tread on the tires?” When I hear that I always think of Hunter Harvey.
Keith Law: No, I think conversion guys get hurt at at least the same rate if not higher.

Science is Faith in NASA: Did you know that there are 0 pictures of earth? Even NASA’s Robert Simmon says that everything is photoshopped. Is that because the earth is geocentric and the sun and moon rotate around the earth like hands on a clock? Why does NASA need green screens and VR for live broadcasts?
Keith Law: I assume this is a joke, but there are pictures of earth (the last full photo of earth from above low orbit was taken in 1972) and Simmon (the “Blue Marble” image guy) said no such thing.

Matt: Apparently a school in Mississippi is changing it’s name from Jefferson Davis to Obama. Oh the racists are gonna be mad!
Keith Law: My wife and I enjoyed envisioning that reaction.

Andrew: Man, I know it’s early but the Brewers appear to have had a monster 2017 draft! Thoughts?
Keith Law: I think Ray Montgomery has drafted very well for years, going back to his time with Arizona, but I don’t think their 2017 class is a “monster.” They did well, and if Hiura never has to have surgery (as many teams believed predraft that he would) then so much the better.

Corey: Could Michael Chavis do a Devers and be ready for some MLB at-bats late next season ?
Keith Law: Could be ready, but not over Devers.

jp: Favorite Carcassone expansion/edition?
Keith Law: Traders and Builders is still the best, IMO. I haven’t played some of the latest ones – I feel like every game reaches a saturation point with expansions after maybe three or four.
Keith Law: That’s all for this week – thanks as always for all of the questions and for reading. Free agent rankings will be my next big Insider project, appearing whenever the World Series ends. I’ll be back some time next week for another chat.

Klawchat 10/13/17.

My first AFL roundup post is now up for Insiders, with notes on Yankees, Cards, Cubs, Twins, Brewers, Orioles, Rockies, and Padres prospects.

Paul: Have you had a chance to see Alex Jackson catch in Arizona? Or heard from anyone who did?
Keith Law: I saw him. It’s not good. I do like his swing more, but the catching has been bad.

Patty O’Furniture: Can you please provide a ray of hope about these “unprecedented” rule violations by the Braves? Still think Maitan gets to stay in the system?
Keith Law: MLB declined to comment at all, so I don’t know where these rumors are coming from. I do know that there’s no way there were “unprecedented rule violations” without the knowledge of Hart, Schuerholz, and McGuirk. I’m not sure any GM in baseball has that kind of power.

Guest: thoughts on replay/sliding decisions? acceptable unintended consequences, or something that needs to be changed
Keith Law: The call was correct, but I think we’re totally changing the intent of the game here. Are we really trying to determine if, what, a few molecules of air were between the base and some part of the player’s body?

Smikey Pineder: any thoughts on albert abreu of the yankees, #2 upside?
Keith Law: He’s in the Insider post that went up today. I’d probably go below #2.

Greg: What’s your view on Austin Riley?
Keith Law: Same problem as before – doesn’t have the bat speed to get around on good velocity. Homered on a breaking ball yesterday, was behind two fastballs he put in play.

DMan: Florial at double-A next year? How long do you should it take for his pitch recognition to improve?
Keith Law: There’s no way I’d send him to double-A given where his pitch recognition is. He’d get eaten alive.

John: What is Soroka’s ceiling/floor? Although it seems like you aren’t as high on his ceiling as you are the other Braves prospects, do you think he has a higher floor than most if not all of them?
Keith Law: I do not; I think his floor is the bullpen.

Stinkbug Jones: There seems to be a lot of buzz about Hans Crouse, the Rangers’ 2nd rounder from this year — do you think he’s getting overhyped right now, or did the Rangers potentially get a steal at the end of the second round?
Keith Law: They got him in the right spot. Good arm with some delivery and starter/reliever questions.

B: Could we see Nick Gordon in Minnesota EARLY next season, or is he more a September call up candidate?
Keith Law: They’re probably going to play service-time games with him, but I think he’ll be ready sooner rather than later in 2018.

Jon Orr: How would you handle Alex Reyes when he’s healthy next year?
Keith Law: Probably ease him into the rotation in June/July after some rehab outings. Goal should be to get him back to regular work by year-end, which may mean soft-pedaling his workload early in the season.

Joe: Given the Giants’ unconventional approach to previous drafts (picking players who fit their preferred skill sets), do you think they’ll have a similar Big Board compared to the rest of the league now that they have a top pick?
Keith Law: I do. When they’ve picked high, they’ve taken guys in that range. They’ve picked in the top ten four times since I came to ESPN. They took Lincecum in 2006, and he was a stud with stuff and performance but durability concerns. They took Bumgarner in 2007, high-ceiling HS arm with velocity. They took Posey at 5 in 2008, and he was #2 on my board that year. And they took Wheeler at 6 in 2009, which is around where I ranked him too.

Seth: Shouldn’t it be a prerequisite that you must know to bat Anthony Rendon higher than sixth to be qualified to manage in the big leagues?
Keith Law: There’s so much talk about Baker’s handling of the pitching staff, but I don’t think he really did anything wrong on that front. I argued that he should have had a quicker hook with Gio yesterday, but he did eventually get to Scherzer and then someone fired up the improbability drive on him. That wasn’t on Dusty. His biggest mistake to me, and one that may have swung the series (given how close the whole thing was), was hitting Werth 2nd and Rendon 6th. Werth probably belonged on the bench, period, but if you must play him, you can’t bat him before Harper AND rob Rendon of probably 2-3 PA over the course of the series.

Tyler: Just read round up post. Mechanically anything change with Sheffield or just new team new environment? Is he up next year?
Keith Law: It looks like the Yanks have had him ditch the curveball to go to the slider full time. He should be up next year if healthy.

Mike-OB: Do you agree with Kurkjan that the replay overturn on the pick off last night is not in the spirit of the replay rule (I agree with him)?
Keith Law: I agree too, but this is the rule right now. If we don’t like it, we need to change the rule.

RSO: Who wins the ALCS?
Keith Law: I will guess Houston in 6 and the Dodgers in 6.

AES: Klaw–thoughts on Farrell’s dismissal and the allegations of bad clubhouse culture? Leaving starters in far too long/misunderstanding the impact of 3rd+ time through the order is bad. The rest seems like post-facto poppycock.
Keith Law: Baseball as an industry has an unfortunate habit of smearing people as they walk out the door. Boston has done it to Theo, Francona, and now Farrell. Yeah, Farrell was not a great tactical manager, but maybe bad clubhouse culture is on the players?

Peter: He’s older/facing younger competition in the AFL, but did you get a chance to see Eric Filia and did he make an impression?
Keith Law: Saw one game. Can swing it a little. Probably not much ceiling but can at least hit a good fastball.

Jim: Some good reports on Jo Adell. Your thoughts based on what you’re hearing?
Keith Law: Hearing that he’s a good athlete and still can’t throw. Nothing we didn’t know in the spring.

Ben: It looked like Josh Naylor gained some significant weight throughout the season. Does he look bigger now than he did during spring training?
Keith Law: He’s very big, yes.

B: I don’t think Eric Hosmer is very good, but I’m convinced that Dave Dombrowski is going to sign Eric Hosmer to a terrible contract to play 1B for the Red Sox.
Keith Law: I think he goes back to KC for way too much money. The market for him is really limited – very few teams with money need a 1b – and his huge 2017 season is out of line with his career. He’d produced 10 WAR (B-R) over 6 seasons, then 4 WAR this year. There is a small chance this is really who he is going forward, but you can’t pay a player based on his platform year while ignoring what came before. That’s how Garry Matthews Jr. got overpaid.

Ford : Heard Acuña took a fastball of his wrist yesterday anything to worry about?
Keith Law: I tweeted about it. He left the game, probably won’t play today.

Scott: Thoughts on Brandon Waddell? Seems to keep flying under the radar anything there for the Pirates?
Keith Law: Lefty with deception but fringy stuff. I wrote about him in late August, might sneak in as a back-end starter.

Josh: Keith, I know you expressed support for Jemele Hill in a previous chat. Now she is suspended. I am not well versed in the nuances of ESPN’s social media guidelines for employees, I am just saying as a business decision, it makes sense that they would do this. She loosely implied that people should harm ESPN business partners, right?
Keith Law: I still support Jemele. I also don’t know what went on between my employer and her (and her agent) after the initial brouhaha, so I can’t offer any informed opinion on the latest issue, even if I felt like I could.

Marc: Does Alec Hansen stick as a starter? #2 ceiling?
Keith Law: Starter, yes. Ceiling might be a 2 or even a tick higher, but low probability given past control and delivery issues.

Jerry: Let’s say a guy like Franklin Perez becomes a true #4 SP and the other prospects in that deal fail. Is that a win for Detroit considering the money owed to Verlander?
Keith Law: I think it is, given what a starter is worth and what Perez would be paid early in his career.

jeff: What would be the purpose of offering contracts to any of the Royals FA? They are a .500 team with these players. Would the best course of action be just to tag them and fire sell everyone else?
Keith Law: I think the Royals should make QOs to try to collect a bunch of picks, and if someone accepts, it’s a one-year deal and you trade the guy as soon as the rules permit. Re-signing any of them to be expensive players on sub-.500 teams isn’t smart. And they don’t have the pitching, now or in the high minors, to make this team a contender in 2018-19.

BOOKS: I am reading the Master and Margarita for the first time and so far I am really enjoying it. Anything else in this vein you would recommend?
Keith Law: I read that book in college in a class called Comedy & the Novel. The reading list was M&M, Don Quixote, Joseph Andrews, The Charterhouse of Parma, Jacques the Fatalist, If on a winter’s night a traveler, Dead Souls, and Huckleberry Finn. The professor said he would have included At Swim-Two-Birds if he’d been able to squeeze in one more book. Of those, I recommend M&M, If on a winter’s night, and At Swim-Two-Birds the most.

Josh: The Reds outfield seems a little crowded with Schebler, Duvall, Winker, and Hamilton, so what will they do next year? Also, do you think the Reds try to resign Cozart? Finally, do you think Senzel will get a shot to start the year in the majors out of Spring Training?
Keith Law: Senzel probably makes it up in June or so – service time stuff. Really don’t think Schebler is someone you plan around – he’s a fourth outfielder, tops – and Duvall is only marginally better. They need guys who get on base, and neither of those two does that well at all.

Britt: Your thoughts on Adbert Alzolay? Seems to have some helium. Is he a starter long term?
Keith Law: Starter if there’s a third pitch I didn’t see in his relief outing.

Dan: Were there any particularly egrigous (cough Hendricks batting in the 4th cough cough) that happened last night that were not talked about enough, if at all?
Keith Law: Going to Albers in the fourth would qualify. And also the Werth batting order thing I mentioned above.

John : Is Max Fried a potential 2/3 still?
Keith Law: Stuff is there. That stuff should miss more bats than it has, and I think command is one big reason.

Evan: So why are you so high on the Braves system? Seems like a lot of pitching and Acuna. What other position player prospects are even worth paying attention to?
Keith Law: I think Pache is going to be an above-average regular, possibly a star. But you are correct that it is mostly pitching.

Chris: With Austin Barnes proving his worth and some solid catching prospects in the minors, should the Dodgers trade Yasmani Grandal this offseason?
Keith Law: I think so. I was too light on Barnes when he was a prospect – he’s an above-average regular back there.

Justin R: You’ve mentioned Alex Cora as a strong candidate for any head coaching job. What specifically makes him such a strong candidate?
Keith Law: Intelligent, critical thinker, likes to work with analytics department, strong player development mindset, bilingual, has coaching and managerial experience already.

TestaDuda: Did you get a look at Chavis? Is that swing set-up and execution really fixed? Still only 21 years old, I think.
Keith Law: “Fixed” is too strong a word. His hand is healthy, which helped. And the contact he’s making is hard. He can still get pretty uphill and he’s not that disciplined a hitter.

Derek: Jorge Mateo profile better at SS or CF for you? First division starter upside at either position?
Keith Law: Never seen him in CF. Think he’s fine at short.

John: If you were running the Phillies, how would you approach this winter? They have an obvious need for starting pitching and too many middle infielders. Would you go with Hoskins/Kingery/Crawford/Franco in the INF and trade Hernandez/Galvis? Would you try and acquire one of the big ticket FA starters (Arrieta) or go for the next tier down?
Keith Law: I’d explore trades for Hernandez and especially Galvis, as JPC has to play short. As much money as they have to spend, I don’t know that I’d blow it out on this year’s FA starters, who all have real question marks as long-term assets.

Steve: Cole Ragans struck a ton of people out this year, could he be a 2?
Keith Law: I have yet to see him, but I get glowing reports across the board. Sounds like a guy with mid-rotation stuff who pitches above that.

Jay: Terry Francona seems to be receiving a lot of criticism over Cleveland’s loss. They were up 2-0 despite a ton of issues. The only thing I can find fault in is having Michael Brantley playing what was basically spring training for him again and then maybe thinking Corey Kluber’s back problem was better than it was? Am I crazy to think he’s getting too much heat?
Keith Law: They didn’t hit and Kluber struggled in two starts. How can you pin that on the manager? If Brantley didn’t belong on the roster, that’s an organizational decision, not the manager’s. The one mistake I saw from Tito, which Joe Sheehan has pointed out a few times, was putting Kipnis in center, which he just cannot play.

Greg: Compared to the other long list of SP prospects in Atlanta’s system, Joey Wentz is _________?
Keith Law: One of them?

Thomas: It feels like the Tigers farm system is finally starting to trend up (albeit, simultaneous to the team collapsing). Once they add the #1 pick in next year’s draft to the fold, could they finally crack the teens in your rankings?
Keith Law: Going to take more than that. A good draft class plus a few more trades.

Justin R: I’m so confused how the same people irate that Weinstein was a big Democrat donor also voted for Trump, who was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault.
Keith Law: As am I. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape are not partisan issues. We should be as irate over the President doing these things as we are over Weinstein, and as we should be over anyone else of any profession or party who does it. My hope here is that more women come forward to call out other rapists and harassers, because you know these men are everywhere in every business.

M: Is there a better pitching prospect mix than the Padres? The depth is quite impressive. Gore, Quantrill, Nix, Baez, Morejon, Lucchesi, Lauer, Allen, Lawson all seem to have big league starter potential. Maybe not a No. 1 in the mix, but an impressive group.
Keith Law: Atlanta can match that.

Gene Mullett: Since you’ve been scouting & tracking players as a trade, who’s the worst/most underachieving top 3 pick you can remember?
Keith Law: Probably Tim Beckham, given industry consensus, predraft tools, and of course where he was taken.

Mickey: What happened to Manny Banuelos?
Keith Law: Multiple arm problems. Came back with reduced stuff.

Bored Lawyer, Esq. : I saw a couple Mitch Keller starts. I know it’s hard to tell from box scores, but he has command and control, right? I don’t recall seeing a young AA pitcher withcthst ability in some time.
Keith Law: Control more than command to me. Also needs to refine the changeup, which is really a BP fastball right now.

Bananas: Touki have a shot at your top 100?
Keith Law: He’s been on it at least once before.

Dan: Does the proliferation of scout lingo among in-group fans irk you at all? If you could remove one or two terms from the baseball commentariat lexicon, what would they be?
Keith Law: It’s not going to make me take you more seriously if you try to use jargon. I find fans in general tend to push toward extreme judgments – your system is not full of guys with 70 and 80 tools.

Moltar: The Mets have to make a roster spot for Guillorme, no? He’d most certainly make another team happy as a rule 5 selection if not.
Keith Law: On the 40-man yes. Not sure there’s enough bat there to make him a good ML bench guy even as a 70 or better defender.

Dylan: Do managers need to stop throwing starters out of the bullpen on short rest in the playoffs? It seems like it doesn’t work much more often than it does work.
Keith Law: I feel like it’s become a crutch of sorts without regard to whether such starters are actually the best options to get the next 1 or 3 or 6 outs. We just assume they’re better than any relievers, and over the course of a season that would be true, but in one shot, working on irregular rest, out of their routines, that may not be the case.

B: Do the Astros have anything with Arementeros? Is he just a 4/5 innings eater guy or is there more there?
Keith Law: A 4/5 innings eater guy for what they gave him ($30K, I think?) would be an outright steal. And I think he’s that.

HH: I know you hate comps but Tristan MacKenzie reminds me very much of Carl Edwards Jr. How likely is it that T-Mac can stick as a starter, given his body type?
Keith Law: Taller, longer release, better spin on his FB than Edwards.

Average Joe: regarding replay: I’ve seen several cases this year where there was less than perfect evidence a players foot/hand came off the bag and yet replay overturned a call, does NY see more than they show on TV?
Keith Law: Yes.

Dylan: Going back to the call on the slide at first base last night – science tells us we’re truly never touching anything. This could be a gamechanger for baseball. Everyone is out, all the time.
Keith Law: Exactly. Also, the universe is just a hologram and matter is
not real.

Scott: Yordan Alvarez’s ceiling is a .300 hitter with 20-25 bombs? Or too optimistic?
Keith Law: Probably right. I feel like, despite his size, he’s more of a hitter for average than big power. It’s not a lofty swing. And yes, I know everyone hits 20 HR right now.

Moltar: Should the Mets plan for 2018 be Smith as the full time 1B? Should the be looking for a higher-end backup/platoon partner?
Keith Law: Need to let him play full time, even if that means living through adjustments or struggles. Platooning young players is generally the worst thing for their development.

Greg: What are the chances that Lourdes Gurriel hits enough to be a regular player in the bigs? If he doesn’t, will he still likely profile as a big league utility player?
Keith Law: I don’t see it. Hasn’t looked good at the plate any time I’ve seen him – really slow actions everywhere.

Brent: Keith, is there a group of draft prospects that have separated from the pack to be considered 1-1 candidates? I realize games haven’t been played yet, but do you have a ballpark figure on who the likely top draft pick would be?
Keith Law: There’s a group of 1-1 guys but nobody who’s clearly above the rest. I hear Turang’s name a bit, but nobody is sold (yet) on the bat. Rocker and Hankins are the best HS arms, but no prep RHP has ever gone first overall. I don’t know if there’s a college guy even likely to get into that tier. It seems like a good college crop for the 11-30 range, but not for the top ten.

88 Keys: Are you surprised by the amount of traction Democratic Socialism appears to be getting among millennials? I’ve wondered if it isn’t just a small, loud online group, but there appears to be a decent sized faction out there who seem truly committed to the notion that centrism and neoliberalism are pejorative terms.
Keith Law: I’ve assumed some of what I’ve seen is an echo chamber effect – I know a few people into that movement, and thus I see/hear more about it. Socialism has been such an abject failure around the world that I can’t support any movement that even leans in that direction.

Gene Mullett: Did you ever see any of this coming out of Jose Rameriez? Sure, he had a lousy ALDS, but he’s been an absolute monster the last 2 seasons.

Also, how many questions are in your queue or scolling by?
Keith Law: Thought he had a chance to be a good player, never forecasted top 10 in the league, not even as a best case scenario ceiling. He was nearly always young for his levels, too, so he never performed up to his raw ability (but was always solid in context of his age).

Keith: What is your POV on how teams should best use the AFL? Some teams have sent top guys there; others (like White Sox) sent none of their top guys. How do the developmental pro/cons break out in your mind?
Keith Law: Send guys who need to face better pitching to develop. Send anyone who missed time during the year due to injury and needs to make up the AB/IP they lost. Send borderline 40-man candidates so you can evaluate them – and so can other teams, so maybe you can trade them in November.

Joe: Gary Denbo a good hire for the Marlins?
Keith Law: I don’t have an opinion on him specifically for that role, but overseeing player development AND the amateur draft is ridiculous – and worse when the person has no experience on the amateur side. Those are both departments that require one full-time head.

Dan: Sadly, there are still probably plenty of other “Harvey Weinsteins” in Hollywood and many other industries that have acted similarly. Hopefully, all these monsters can be rooted out.
Keith Law: I bet they’re all over sports too. I would imagine a woman working for a professional sports team would feel the same way many of these young actresses say they felt when Weinstein attacked them – no one will believe them, it’s a male-dominated industry, they’re alone/without support. If you’re a woman in MLB and have been harassed in any way by a male supervisor or co-worker, I’d love to hear your story.

JP: Over/Under 3 years, $30 million for Cozart?
Keith Law: I think well over on the dollars.

Tracy: Hi Keith, I’m a book imbiber just like you, but more so on the non-fiction side, particularly presidential bios, so I am looking forward to reading the new Ron Chernow book on Grant. Do you have any interest in this subject?
Keith Law: Never been huge on American history as a book topic. I go more for history of science books when I go non-fiction.

Marc: White Sox still have to go BPA at 4 even if it’s another SP right? People already seem to be itchy to start ‘filling holes’ 12 months into a rebuild.
Keith Law: Always go BPA.

Nick: Think Almora is a can be an average everyday hitter? And how good can “elite” defense really be in center field when speed is average at best?
Keith Law: Andruw was still an elite defender even when he was no longer any kind of runner. Vernon Wells never ran average but had a few years of great defense in center. I think Almora’s an elite defender and doesn’t have to hit much to be an average regular.

David Dahl: Do you think I’ll ever stay healthy enough to be an All-Star caliber player? Or just a “nice” #3 OF?
Keith Law: All-Star if healthy. Health is a big unknown here. He had a serious injury that can alter a career, but I don’t know any specifics about his case.

Mike: But I am in the camp that believes starting Bauer in game 1 was just an excuse to give Kluber’s back an extra day to recover.
Keith Law: We just don’t know, right? Maybe Kluber still wasn’t 100%. Maybe Scherzer could have started games 1 and then 4 and been fine, but the Nats didn’t want to risk it. I don’t always succeed but I try to limit criticisms of managers to stuff we know – like, hey, Jayson Werth, not so good with the bat now.

Grant: What purpose does exit velocity serve?
Keith Law: Harder contact is good, no? Increases likelihood of hits, likelihood of extra bases. No power without hard contact either.

Nick: Have you read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? I really enjoyed it as a quick one with excellent, funny dialogue.
Keith Law: Yep, enjoyed it, read the first sequel, thought it was repetitive.

Mickey: Hammett or Chandler?
Keith Law: Hammett

CL: Hypothetically Hart is forced to resign. Who would be a good replacement for him? Who would be a good replacement for Coppy?
Keith Law: I think it depends on who’s actually calling the shots there. You can’t bring in someone who won’t be able to work with Schuerholz, for example. If you need a president and a GM, do you hire someone who’s had success as a GM elsewhere and promote him to the President role that Hart currently fills? I threw some names out last week, but it really depends on who’s still there in Atlanta when the dust settles on the investigation.

Adam: In the Nationals situation, down two games in a five game series, was there a strategic advantage for Strasburg pitching game 4 instead of game 5? I was having trouble following what the problem would be moving him back a day if he were sick.
Keith Law: The idea of losing the series without Strasburg pitching again.

Jim: Braves J2 prospects from 2016 were high profile guys with big dollars – Maitan, Gutierrez, Severino – wouldn’t that open up the flood gates for other J2 prospects to leak tampering?
Keith Law: Every J2 player who signs on July 2nd had an illegal predraft deal in place. Could any of them come forward and demand free agency because the signing team broke the rules? Does MLB want to open that door, and thus find itself lying on the ground with a giant door on top of it? This metaphor isn’t quite working out for me, but yes, when the whole system is corrupt, then it could all collapse given the incentive the players have to take the money and then cry foul.

Clark: I don’t think I’ve ever seen you post anything about soccer, but do you have an opinion on the humiliating loss this week that saw the USMNT miss the World Cup? It’s not like American soccer was every going to challenge baseball or the other top sports, but it still has to be a huge blow to the sport’s rise here, right?
Keith Law: I assume so, but I really don’t know or follow soccer. I’ll typically watch a little World Cup, but that’s it.

Bobby: You said in your post you saw Albert Abreu ” turn the changeup over at release”. For we noobs that are just getting into this stuff, what exactly is “turning over a changeup” and how did you, as the evaluator, recognize it.
Keith Law: It’s a literal description of how the pitcher’s hand moves at release. I can see him turn it over – rotating his wrist at release. When a pitcher does it on one pitch but not the others, it’s a signal to an observant hitter what the pitch is.

Jay: Tommy Pham one year wonder or sustained success for next few years?
Keith Law: Skills are there, has to stay healthy. He really had no track record of health coming into the year.

Ted: So you’re saying the White Sox should have sent Robert to the AFL. He seems to fit the “should face better pitching to help with further development” bucket.
Keith Law: I don’t think he has a work visa yet. I was told he’s not in instructs either.

B: I like Xander Bogaerts, but where the hell is the power?
Keith Law: Played with two hand injuries this year. Can’t hit for power if you can’t grip the bat.

Corey: Speaking of the AFL, did you see Henry Owens’ start ? 5 BBs, 2 hits, 4 runs, 1 IP. Is he ever going to be anything beyond a AAA walk machine ? Seems like his height is in the way of his mechanics and nobody can figure out how to fix it
Keith Law: I was there and tweeted about it. He’s a sidearmer now and it’s ugly.

Billy: Why is young pitching in the draft still seemingly valued higher than young hitting? We’ve seen countless high profile pitchers flame out or get injured constantly whereas proven college bats seem to have a higher rate of success. For example (not necessarily the best one) the in 2015 MLB draft, top 10 picks Benintendi and Bregman are starting everyday for playoff teams whereas Dillon Tate is in AA and has been already dealt for a veteran bat rental
Keith Law: Because you might get a Clayton Kershaw (#7 overall in 2006) or a Jose Fernandez (#14 overall in 2011), and no one wants to miss on a guy like that.

Rich: A very bright friend of mine is, for some reason, a chronic conspiracy theorist. Days after the Vegas incident, he was predictably sending me all of the damning evidence that this was a false flag operation. Do you have any theories why otherwise intelligent people are so gullible when it comes to these events?
Keith Law: I would truly un-friend this person, forever. You can’t talk to someone like that.

Raphael: Is Teoscar a future regular?
Keith Law: I think so.

Sam: Should Braves fans want Dayton Moore? Seems like the “he won a WS” argument is nice, but I’m not sure I’m excited about him as an option. Their farm is a wasteland.
Keith Law: He built a good system, won two pennants and a WS, and would leave the farm in pretty bad shape. Is that an acceptable outcome for most teams? I think it is. Most fans would take one WS win and a second flag even if it means a rebuild afterwards.

Dennis: Who do you enjoy more, Henry Green or Anthony Powell? I haven’t read either, thinking of starting with Green….
Keith Law: Powell. I loved A Dance to the Music of Time.

Sam: Based on what is public knowledge or whatever is private knowledge, what do you think actually happens to the Braves through this MLB investigation?
Keith Law: Definitely big fines coming. If they find evidence the team did something wrong in the draft beyond the usual (everyone strikes predraft deals – the system more or less forces you to do so), they could strip picks. Beyond that, I truly don’t know.

Chris: I know its a few months late, but are you going to do your re-draft article 10 years after the 2007 draft? I’m sure it’s because you were finishing your book, but I always enjoyed those ones.
Keith Law: No, my editors didn’t want it this year.

Mark: Was wondering if you have ever read Dune by Frank Herbert and if so what you thought of it ?
Keith Law: Dune is great, but do not read any sequels.

Stan: Lots of talk about Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers being the greatest American band in history. Does employing a British drummer for 23 of the bands 40 tears disqualify them for the title?
Keith Law: I liked Petty’s work – although it irked me that their first “greatest hits” record omitted “Woman in Love” – but yeah, greatest American band is probably a stretch, regardless of where the drummer was born.

Dennis: Tristram Shandy worth reading?
Keith Law: It’s funny but the language is so different that I found it slow going.

Dave: Lots of great new albums out today…have you had a chance to listen? ST. Vincent, Beck, Wu-Tang, Courtney Barnett/Kurt Vile
Keith Law: Wu-Tang is surprisingly good – in the sense that it sounds a lot like vintage WTC. Hated the Barnett/Vile singles (mostly because I can’t stand how he sings) and have never liked St. Vincent at all.

Dave: What was the last concert you went to?
Keith Law: Saw Less Art in Philly a month ago.

Dave: Do you think Girardi will be back?
Keith Law: Definitely.

Ben: With the way Gregorious played this year, do you start Torres at 2b or 3b to begin his career or do you explore moving Didi while his value is at its peak?
Keith Law: My argument has been to move Didi while his value is high – once Torres is back and healthy – because I think you could get a king’s ransom for him, perhaps filling two roles with such a deal, while moving either him or Torres to another position wastes someone’s defensive value, as both can really play short.

James: Does Victor Robles open 2018 with a full time job or does he need more seasoning?
Keith Law: He really hasn’t played much above A-ball. I expect him to spend most of the year in the minors.
Keith Law: OK, I’m off to a game shortly here – thanks for joining me for the impromptu chat today. I should be back on schedule next week. Also, I will be at Changing Hands here in Phoenix at 2 pm on Saturday (tomorrow) to discuss and sign copies of my book, Smart Baseball. Hope to see some of you there!

Klawchat 10/5/17.

Keith Law: If it’s all right with you, I’ll rip this here joint apart. Klawchat.

Tyler: Given what we know as of now, do you think the Braves will lose Kevin Maitan? Do you think that would be a fair punishment for what seems like a league wide practice?
Keith Law: Given what we know to be true, I don’t think so, but MLB confirmed to me that their investigation is still ongoing. If this is merely about verbal agreements with players before they turn 16 and “hiding” them from other clubs, everyone does it, and I’ve argued for a while that the CBA provides compelling incentive for everyone to do it. If they want to root out the corruption in the July 2nd market, they need to stop trying so hard to prevent teams from paying money for talent.

Gabriel: Seems hard to believe that the johns werent involved in this whole coppy mess right?
Keith Law: I find it hard to believe they weren’t aware of these industry standard practices.

Jack: How would you go about fixing the Giants? Full rebuild necessary?
Keith Law: The system isn’t going to produce enough starting pitching in the near term to make them a contender; if Cueto and Shark turn around and have big bounceback years in 2018, they might contend, but that’s their hope for near-term success. The problem I see with a full rebuild is a lack of tradeable assets on the ML roster other than Posey, and I can’t imagine them dealing him – I’m not sure I could even advocate that.

Joe: Will all the teams that have agreements with international players for July of 2019 be told they can not sign those players or do you think the Braves will be the only team that doesn’t sign the player that they had a deal with?
Keith Law: July of 2018 … and 2019 … and 2020. MLB is very good at pretending this isn’t happening all over the place. In the draft too – I’d estimate 75% of players taken in the top 5 rounds have predraft deals in place.

Jeremy: If a team goes 86-76, are they 10 games over .500 or 5 games over .500?
Keith Law: I would rather engage in a two-hour debate over whether a hot dog is a sandwich (it is) than get involved in this semantics argument.

John: Feels like Nolan Jones is semi forgotten about. But he’s put up great numbers in A-. Does he skyrocket in 2018?
Keith Law: Don’t think he’s forgotten about, any more than a typical non-first-round HS prospect. Big progress this year, definitely a guy on the radar again, probably on the outside of my top 100 (although I haven’t even started that process yet).

Bill: Is Kris Bryant under rated or over rated? I hear both.
Keith Law: (wanking motion)

Eric: Should the Diamondbacks put Archie Bradley back in the rotation next spring or is he a bullpen-only guy from here on out?
Keith Law: I’d like to see him get a shot to start, but when a pitcher who struggled as a starter finds this kind of success in relief, he and the club may both want to leave well enough alone and I don’t argue with it. I only have an issue with teams leaving ex-starters in the pen when the pitcher still wants to start and the scouting indicators were in favor of him starting.

Bauer: Do you buy Cleveland’s reasoning for starting Bauer over Kluber in game 1? It sounds to me they’re managing for games they’re not guaranteed
Keith Law: That was my take – this was an October-long strategy rather than a win the ALDS strategy.

Scouting: I really enjoyed your scouting articles on the Phillies young hitters and Darvish and was wondering what, for you at least, are the biggest differences in scouting MLB vs MILB players? Are there different things you’re looking for?
Keith Law: As you move up the ladder, physical tools and projection become less important, approach and feel for the game become more important. You can be strong as hell, or have a beautiful swing, but if you can’t distinguish balls from strikes or fastballs from breaking balls, it’s not going to matter.

Snap into a Slim Jim: A. Cam Newton is dumb; B. Of Course he should apologize; C. We don’t need 40 articles written about it though, do we?
Keith Law: We’re going to get at least that many. If he had just apologized after the fact – the reporter said he didn’t, he actually made it all worse – then maybe we could have gotten around this. Now it’s going to go on for days and days.

Ethan: Hi Keith – love the chats and feedback, as I have learned a lot from you and your book! My question is around Dinelson Lamet. I completely understand the need for three pitches. However, is there a situation and/or example of a SP that thrived with just two elite pitches? And what level would those need to be? 60? 70? And do you think Lamet’s fastball/slider combo can reach those levels to lessen the need for an average third pitch?
Keith Law: You’re sort of begging the question here. If your two pitches leave you with a massive platoon split, then it doesn’t matter. And that’s Lamet’s problem: Neither of his two current average or better pitches gets LHB out, and his changeup is ineffective.

Coppolella : If you were running a team would you be looking to add Coppolella or Blakeley to your front office given that they’re by reputation quite smart and seemingly got caught doing something that everyone does?
Keith Law: If MLB clears one or both of serious wrongdoing, yes, but I think every team has to wait for the outcome of that. And let’s not pretend that MLB never blackballs anyone, players (coughBondscough) or execs.

RaysBiscuit: Why are defensive oriented catchers picked highly in the draft? I’m sorry for any recency bias, but whenever I see Reese McGuire, Taylor Ward, Justin O’Conner, Nick Ciuffo, Mike Zunino… I wonder why they were picked that high and it seems catchers don’t turn out to be worth the selection compared to the others though hindsight is 20/20. I’ll give Zunino a pass as he was bullet rushed but is every team hoping for a Posey type catcher when one picks a catcher in the first round?
Keith Law: Teams overdraft catchers because of positional scarcity, not just in the majors but within the draft. There are so few decent catchers in any class that they tend to get elevated on draft boards because the scarcity makes them seem more valuable – or because there’s a fear of having a draft where you don’t get any catching at all. (Solution: Draft one or two guys every year who are possible conversion candidates.)

Frankur: Yankees making a mistake by not pitching Severino in game 2?
Keith Law: If there is no physical impediment to him pitching game 2, then it’s an odd choice. But maybe he doesn’t feel right and that’s part of why he was so off in the wild card game

LDS: Which series do you think represents the biggest mismatch of the LDS and which series is the tightest to you?
Keith Law: No real mismatches to me. I’m not doing a preview piece, but I’ll at least give you some picks here: Astros, Cleveland, Nats, Dodgers.

Anti-Intellectualism: What do you think is the best way to combat the rampant anti-intellectualism that’s seemingly on the rise in our country?
Keith Law: I wish I had a good answer. I do think that the more intellectuals – really, subject matter experts – who speak up, the better chance we have for facts to win out over myths, but humans have a rather strong tendency to believe whatever they want.

Dana: Do you think football’s brain injury problems will lead to more African-Americans in baseball down the road?
Keith Law: I think that’s already happening – although it’s less “in baseball” and more “in alternatives to football.”

Jeff: I have a coworker that checked himself in to the hospital a couple of weeks ago because he thought he may commit suicide. Our boss has verbally displayed his displeasure about him missing all the work he has and has openly talked about demoting him and even firing him. Is he allowed to do that? I have great respect for my coworker for being able to reach out for help, but I hate that it could cost him his job. That just doesn’t seem right to me.
Keith Law: Don’t think that’s legal, but I’m not a lawyer. Of course, what was illegal for employers a few months ago may become legal any day now…

delatopia: Everyone in the Bay Area raves about the A’s youth but I basically see Chapman and maybe Barreto and then a bunch of second division starters and bench guys, at least among position players at the MLB level. Is there more there that I’m not seeing?
Keith Law: I agree with you – I don’t know if there’s a core player in the bunch. Lot of 2-WAR types. Nice, cheap guys to fill out a roster, but lacks the couple of 5+ WAR guys you need to build a contender.

Jim: MLB starting investigating Coppy because of a Draft Room incident? Have you heard of what went on? Hearing of plates being thrown at people…..
Keith Law: I was told that story is false. (In one version it’s a plate; in another it’s an ashtray. Good sign the story might not be quite accurate.)

Pat: How would you grade Tim Beckham defensively at SS? The metrics seem to like him, but my eyes tell me he kind of sucks.
Keith Law: I haven’t seen him there much myself in a couple of years; I thought he had the physical ability to be an above-average defender there, but didn’t have the consistency you want, more in his hands than anything else.

Dan(NJ): Do you see much difference in how the Yankees approached the WC game and a true “bullpen” game? If the goal to “bullpenning” a game is to use your 4/5/6 best pitchers, then surely Severino fits that mold. I think there were some people disappointed that a team with the staff resources like the Yankees didn’t start Green or something, but I think that in how it was played and how Girardi managed, it was a true bullpen game.
Keith Law: It ended up a bullpen game, but I don’t think Girardi planned that in any way. He did a nice job responding to the crisis, but it’s a bit different than going into a game with the expectation that your starter will only throw, say, 40-50 pitches.

Bob Villar: How close are you to believing in the Alec Hanson hype?
Keith Law: I always take the advice of Harry Allen in these situations.

Hinkie: If you were forced to predict the team Shohei Otani plays for next season, who would you pick ?
Keith Law: If I can only pick one team, I’d pick the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Jim: Are you concerned that all these pitching changes, particularly in the first couple innings, is affecting the overall product? I love baseball and having 8 innings of relievers diminished my interest. I understand the strategy but there’s no flow to the game.
Keith Law: It lengthens the game needlessly. The long innings are fine when there’s lots of action – baserunners, homers, what have you – but not when it’s commercials and mound visits.

Jeff: You called Rosenthal’s article about the Braves in-fighting a “non-story”. What’s your take now?
Keith Law: Same. Monday’s debacle was about the MLB investigation, not in-fighting.

RunawaYEM: Please confirm whether Luiz Gohara is a guy, or a full-on GUY
Keith Law: I believe he’s a GUY, but I worry that he looks more like a guy and a half.

addoeh: When would you start being interested in reports on international players that won’t be officially signed until 2019 or 2020?
Keith Law: A few days before those signing dates. There’s so much nonsense around them that I find it hard to parse, and the reality is when you verbally commit to sign a player when he’s 14, you may get a very different product when the player actually signs at 16.

Richie: Do you watch October baseball with the sound on or off?
Keith Law: Off more than on.

Andy: If Maitan is declared a free agent, what kind of deal/bidding do you think he gets? Has his “unexpected thickness” affected the market for him?
Keith Law: I’d guess north of $10 million. And you know MLB would REALLY rather not make a top prospect a free agent because it would underline just how severely underpaid amateur players are.

Aaron: The Padres had by far the worst run differential but still won 71 games (just 7th worst) in baseball. Keith, would you attribute this to randomness, or give props to Andy Green’s management ability? Thanks.
Keith Law: I think Green’s a very good manager, both in game and in development.

Luke: What’s the best new board game that both you and your daughter enjoyed most?
Keith Law: Azul, which comes out later this month, has been a big hit here. She liked the Cities of Splendor expansions a lot too.

Dave: The Yanks have gap year coming up at 3B before Machado hits FA. Is it ok to just pencil in Andujar, or does he need more work?
Keith Law: Pencil but not pen would work for me. You have to be able to live with a lot of variance in your forecasts for him in 2018 – I think he’s a legit prospect for the long term, but I couldn’t tell you that he’s definitely going to hit in his rookie season.

Ryan: Do Tatis and Gore have a chance to both be top 10 prospects by the summer of 2018.
Keith Law: Tatis already is. That’s a lot to ask of Gore and I don’t think so.

Chris: I’m guessing you have same take re starting again as to Chad Green?
Keith Law: yes, maybe even more so (leaving Green in relief) because he’s a totally different guy in this role.

Michael: Is Jake Junis with the Royals for real, or just a small sample size?
Keith Law: He could be a fifth starter.

EricVA: Did you hear something about Severino not feeling right or was that just a guess?
Keith Law: I’m just saying that would be a valid reason for pushing him back. I haven’t heard anything to this effect.

Chris: Speaking of catcher’s defense, broadcasters got all over Sanchez for the one ball he missed that Robertson slingshot into the other batters box and not the countless pitches he blocked (or took in the marbles). This is a very tough staff to catch imo, and that narrative about him is ridiculous. Thoughts?
Keith Law: I think he’s a below-average receiver but more than makes up for it with his bat. Catcher defense is a favorite topic of broadcasters, though, probably because it is so visible.

Jeff: So was Coppy well-liked in the industry? Passan’s article painted a rough picture of him.
Keith Law: My sense is that there was a mixed view of him. I had a major agent call me out of the blue on Tuesday to talk about that whole story, and he said – unprompted – how much he liked Coppolella and enjoyed negotiating with (or against) him. I’ve heard more positive comments on him than negative since Monday. But this industry loves to smear people on their way out the door – look at what happened when Francona left Boston.

Kevin: After Reyes, which arms in the Cards system do you find most intriguing?
Keith Law: It’s probably Alcantara, even with the up-and-down year.

Alan: What’s your feelings on Dayton Moore to Atlanta?
Keith Law: I understand that the job will be his if he wants it. He’d fit their system, and he has worked there before, which I think all works in his favor. He’s highly regarded as a person within the industry, too. A mutual friend suggested Tony Lacava — full disclosure, I worked with Tony in Toronto and consider him a mentor – as someone who’s worked under Hart and Schuerholz, has scouting & PD experience (as does Moore), and comes with a pristine reputation. If you just forced out your GM over ethical violations, you want your next hire to be squeaky clean.

Steve: In light of the Coppella investigation, do you think the O’s concern over participating in the international market because of shady practices of buscones is warranted? It’s possible to participate in the Latin America market “ethically” right?
Keith Law: You can participate ethically but you will likely be shut out of the top end of the market.

Dennis: Your favorite Ishiguro novel? Which would be the best to start with?
Keith Law: Remains of the Day is an absolute masterpiece of English fiction. Never Let Me Go is #2. Avoid The Unconsoled – I think it’s an outright failure of a novel.

Salty: Keith – Eric Longenhagen mentioned in his chat the potential value someone like Gose could have as a LOOGY/pinch runner. If he entered a game as a PR, could he stay in the game and pitch, and if so, would he then slot into the DH spot, with the defensive replacement slotting in to the spot vacated by the guy who was pinch-ran for?
Keith Law: You can’t switch your DH spot in the lineup like that. BTW, Gose got hurt after a few innings, and I’m not very optimistic about him even if he stays healthy.

Craig: Is Adbert Alzolay the Cubs top prospect? Can he scratch his way onto the big league team as early as next summer?
Keith Law: Top pitching prospect and yes.

Andy: Dillon Maples had this breakout season. Does he regress, keep improving, or what? How does one predict this?
Keith Law: You don’t. You just enjoy it. And I think this is very legit – the stuff matches up with the numbers.

Dennis: Do you think Jo Adell might end up in your Top 100?
Keith Law: Not this year.

Joe: Keith, what do you make of Blake Rutherford? I know to not write him off, but it is mind-boggling that a kid of his talent and pedigree put up the kind of line in low-A.
Keith Law: Same. And the swing is fine. But the ball just didn’t come off his bat well this year – poor exit velo, no power, didn’t even sound that great (I saw him the day before he was traded).

Aaron: Keith, can you explain why there’s often so much change in a prospect’s ranking between the time of the draft & the end of the season? Do we really learn that much from a month or two of professional competition? Because otherwise, this screams Small Smaple Size, and you are one of the biggest anti-SSS-ites out there. …maybe I’ve just answered my own question there…
Keith Law: I don’t think there is, not in my rankings. If you compare my final predraft rankings to where those prospects appear on my top 100 the following winter, the order is generally very similar. Any changes would be more because post-draft more scouts & execs are willing to talk about players than they are pre-draft (“I really liked that guy, we were going to take him if they didn’t”).

Joe: Fair to say that the worst thing Coppy did was send the 2000 word text messages? Honestly who does that?
Keith Law: I don’t think I’ve ever even read a text message that took more than one screen.

Dan: Are you at all encouraged by Paul Ryan’s comments on bump stocks? (I suppose I was, somewhere around 2% encouraged)
Keith Law: I wish I was but I’ve been burned by optimism before.

Oren: If you were the Jays GM, how seriously are you shopping Josh Donaldson this winter?
Keith Law: Very seriously. I generally don’t say you *have* to trade a player, but you want to make it clear you’re going to take the best offer if anything meets your standard.

MJ: Just finished your book and loved it. My question to you is do you think there is any chance at a big industry breakthrough regarding player health in the near or medium term future? Something with biometric data perhaps?
Keith Law: Having just read Erik Malinowski’s Betaball, on the Golden State Warriors, which mentions a few technologies that team used to improve player health, I’m even more convinced now than I was before that baseball teams will invest heavily in such technologies (and probably already are, we just don’t know about it) to try to reduce injuries.

Tim: Thoughts on Hader to the rotation in 2018? Or does his stuff/approach play better in the pen?
Keith Law: Better in the pen, but I wouldn’t blame the Brewers for at least giving him a chance to start and see if it works. He was great as a starter until he got to Colorado Springs, and that’s not a fair test.

Boots Poffenberger: How good is Nick Neidert?
Keith Law: Very polished, not a big upside. Maybe a league-average starter?

Dennis: Who are some writers that you would like to see win the Nobel Prize for Literature?
Keith Law: I don’t know that I could name one – I believe the honoree has to be still living, which eliminates the top 8 authors I’ve read (by # of titles), and as much as I enjoy the works of Jasper Fforde and J.K. Rowling I don’t know that either is really a serious contender for the award.

Snit: With Coppy gone, how do you think this changes the Braves’ plans for this offseason? Do you think they only kept Snitker because of scandal?
Keith Law: That’s my sense – Snitker probably would have been replaced had this not happened. I expect this will change their modus operandi more than it changes specific plans – trades like the Gohara move are much less likely now.

HugoZ: Which team is more modern-metrics friendly–Royals or Blue Jays?
Keith Law: Both are pretty forward in that department; I get the sense the Blue Jays use it more, but that may just be that they’re more open about it.

addoeh: The NRA has second highest membership of any group after AARP. And like the AARP, they vote. Until their members start leaving it because of how their leadership resistance to any sort of changes in the law, there will never be any changes.
Keith Law: They vote AND they pay dues that are then funneled to politicians.

Boots Poffenberger: What happened to Jeff Hoffman this year? Will he ever achieve his ceiling?
Keith Law: I don’t love the fit of his very flat fastball and Coors Field. Great arm, great athlete, but not a very finished product as a pitcher.

Jack: Johan Camargo…..bench piece or could he be a starter somewhere?
Keith Law: Bench piece to me.

JP: the Yankees carrying 12 pitchers in a 5-game series seems like overkill (even with Green/Robertson being unavailable today), no?. If Ellsbury pinch-runs, there isn’t a backup OF on the bench…
Keith Law: I’d never carry 12 P in a 5 game series. Hamstrings your bench too badly.

Chris: BTW for that guy who said the Yanks have a gap year til ’19, Headley is still under contract, Gleyber could be a factor, and I wouldn’t be so sure theyre gonna throw 350m at Machado.
Keith Law: All fair. I assumed he meant they weren’t going to let Headley be the everyday player next year, though.

Mike: Is there a manager more overrated than Buck Showalter?
Keith Law: There’s some competition there, yes. But I think Buck manages to skate on a lot of things that at the very least should be called into question.
Keith Law: Pitcher usage at the top of the list.

Dan: Do you have particular non-fiction interests: eras, settings, subjects, etc? (and I apologize if you’ve already made this common knowledge; I appreciate your time)
Keith Law: Particularly interested in books on science (especially physics), math, or food.

BD: For the postseason would you go with an uber talented but green guy like V Robles, or a boring but veteran backup OF ?
Keith Law: Robles. More ways he can impact the game in a small sample.

Jason: Would it make more sense for Atlanta to start 2018 with 2 of Fried/Gohara/Newcomb in the rotation, or should they get another vet (2 if Dickey retires) to fill out the rotation?
Keith Law: Would get a veteran to provide some bulk innings. You have to assume those guys might not pitch well enough to average 5 innings a start.

DBACK BACK BACK BACK’s: What’s JD’s contract look like this winter?
Keith Law: Wouldn’t shock me if he got 5 years and over $20 million a year … but he’ll play at 30 next year and has negative defensive value. Ton of downside risk.

Mark: Would you rather break the bank for Harper or Machado next year?
Keith Law: Either. Going to depend more on health than anything as both guys have had some injury issues.

BigPapaChuck: Does Coppy ever get a job in baseball again?
Keith Law: As of today, I think it’s unlikely, but it will depend a lot on what MLB finds and what they tell clubs privately.

Hinkie: With Scott Kingery knocking on the door, and the market likely to be flooded with second basemen (Daniel Murphy, DJ LeMahieu, Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler, Logan Forsythe, and Jed Lowrie) next winter, don’t the Phillies need to trade Cesar Hernandez this off-season ?
Keith Law: I think they need to trade one of him or Galvis, maybe both, and let Kingery and Crawford be the DP combo for the next six years (we hope).

Bobbo: In the beginning of the season, my friends and I wondered who was to blame for Conforto making the big-league team but mostly riding pine. i reasoned that it was on Alderson, since TC is gonna do what the GM says. it never occurred to me that TC was operating on his own with the owner’s protection. did it occur to you?
Keith Law: I have called him Teflon Terry for a reason.

Bobby T: Do you own one baseball card?
Keith Law: I still have a few lying around. Loved them as a kid.

Dog: If you could go back in time and see one player live that you never got a chance to see, who would it be?
Keith Law: I’d go to a Negro Leagues game.

PhillyJake: Eating a Biscotti from Enrico’s in Pittsburgh. I haven’t lived in Pittsburgh for over 11 years now, but when friends from there come to visit, they always bring me one. Ever had the pleasure?
Keith Law: Yep. Best thing on the Strip when I lived there.

Steve: The Gerrymandering case before the Supreme Court is the most impactful in the past _____ years? Could argue since Roe v. Wade, right?
Keith Law: Or Brown v Board of Education.

Andy: With how good Ozzie Albies looked this season and how Dansby Swanson had lapses in the field at times, I’ve heard people suggest they switch places in the field. Do you see an advantage to that?
Keith Law: I would hate to see the team overreact to one season, but bear in mind Albies primarily moved off shortstop because of Swanson, not because of his own deficiencies.

Ridley Kemp: Any thoughts on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations (other than “I struggle to think of a more irrelevant institution”)? I’m pulling for The Zombies this to get in this year just because they’re so much better than The Doors.
Keith Law: Yeah, they make our HoF look rational.

ML: Should MN trade Gordon or Sano for a proven starter this off-season? Both being mentioned as options in MSP.
Keith Law: I would not. Both look like potential core players.

Jerry: Which White Sox prospects will reach the majors in 2018? Is Kopech, Collins, Hansen and Eloy a decent guess?
Keith Law: Kopech very likely. The others are all less so. Collins in particular is going to have to show more ability to hit (despite the big hitch in his swing).

JP: would a perfect postseason for you be all series going to Game 7’s (Game 5’s in DS)?
Keith Law: Yes – and it’s the perfect outcome for MLB, too. Ratings go up when series go to the limit.

Cool Hand Luke: If you were Sandy Alderson, who would you target as the next Mets manager?
Keith Law: I’ve recommended my former ESPN colleague Alex Cora a few times now. I believe I dropped some other names in chat last week.

Drew: There’s no validity to the concern that a team like the Nats clenched too early and haven’t played meaningful games in a month, is there? They looked a bit flat towards the end of the season, but it seems bogus to think that’ll carry over to the postseason.
Keith Law: There’s no evidence that this supposed effect – it’s momentum, really – is true. There are plenty of counterexamples of teams who all but backed into the postseason and still advanced or even won it all.

Ben: Hey Keith, not sure how much you pay attention to portions coaching staffs outside of manager, but did it surprise you STL is parting ways with Lilliquist? Have seen nothing but positive words about him over the years. It eems to me that pitching, itself, has not been as big a problem for the Cardinals since Matheny has taken over, as much as, oh I don’t know… Matheny has been?
Keith Law: It did surprise me, but I also don’t know the inner workings there. Was more surprised to see the Rays let Jim Hickey go.

Tom: If it were entirely up to you….how would you fit the MLB draft and international signings highly visible problems?
Keith Law: The more MLB tries to prevent teams, which are absolutely flush with cash, from spending money to acquire talent, the more avenues MLB opens for rule bending and rule breaking. It’s analogous to corruption in developing countries, especially non-democratic ones: You can’t get rid of corruption by outlawing it. You have to address the incentives that enable or even encourage it. In baseball’s case, that’s going to mean going in the opposite direction from recent CBAs, allowing teams to spend more on international talent rather than less.

Pace of Play: Dumb question, maybe, but why do pitchers coming out of the pen need more than, say, three warmup pitches from the mound? Isn’t warming up what the bullpen’s for? Or do they get all those warmups to fill commercial breaks?
Keith Law: I think warmups extend to fill the time allotted by commercials.

Ben: Randomly saw you recommending Ballplayer: Pelotero on twitter. I went ahead and watched it last night; I always figured that world would be sort of slimy…
Keith Law: It’s worse than you think it is.

Mac: When evaluating a hitter what is the most important thing you look for?
Keith Law: It depends entirely on his age and level. For a younger hitter, it’s more about tools, physical ability, swing mechanics. Older hitter, I care more about approach, ability to adjust, frequency and quality of contact.

CB: Scioscia is going into the last year of his contract. Is there any argument at all in favor of extending him?
Keith Law: I think it’s best for the Angels to move on from him – to let Eppler hire his own manager, and ensure that the team doesn’t fall any farther behind the curve in terms of managerial use of analytics. It’s a handicap right now, and that’s only going to get worse going forward.

Jon: Stupid hypothetical: do you think Votto wins NL MVP if Cincy wins 85 games? Despite being the worst baserunner in the history of MLB, he was unbelievable this year.
Keith Law: If they’d made the playoffs, maybe. Otherwise, I don’t think so. He did have a tremendous year.

Josef: Only 22% of Americans own guns and many NRA members are not opposed to banning high capacity weapons or requiring licensing or training. Will we ever have common sense laws on guns?
Keith Law: Not until money stops talking.
Keith Law: That’s all for this week. Thank you all for reading and for all of your questions. If you’re in Arizona, I’ll be at Changing Hands in Phoenix on October 14th at 2 pm to talk and sign copies of Smart Baseball. Hope to see you many of you there!