Chat with Rob Neyer
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Rob Neyer (12:08 PM)
Reporting for duty, sirs!
I know that Swisher's defense in center is supposedly not very good, but when I look at his RZR for the innings he played in center, he seems at least middle of the road. Ditto if I extrapolate his OOZ stats to reflect a full time centerfielder. I realize it is a small sample size and no metric is perfect, but is there something else I am misinterpreting here? What am piece of information am I missing or using incorrectly?
Rob Neyer (12:09 PM)
I think Swisher suffers from not *looking* much like a center fielder. I'm not saying he's a Gold Glover out there, and I'd rather have him in the corner if there's a good CF around. But he's not bad.
Rob, have you actually heard or seen Boras make any of the claims he is credited with making? You have mentioned Varitek wanting Posada money, Perez as a top pitcher and Lowe wanting $16 million a year in various blogs/articles. Ken Rosenthal has already said the Varitek wanting Posada money is not true. Where do all these rumors start? Are any true? Have you actually heard Boras say any of this stuff? Most of it seems like a fabrication of the media, based on an unnamed source that may or may not be credible.
Rob Neyer (12:10 PM)
Tim, you're not looking hard enough. Boras is quoted all the time, saying stuff like that. And I can assure that he talks to reporters all the time, and gives them stuff, even if not for direct attribution. He knows how to play the media.
Matt (Boston, MA)
Peter Gammons is reporting that the Red Sox have offered Varitek a 1 yr deal for less than what he makes now ($10 mil a year). Is that just an opening offer or a sign that they are not seriously interesting in bringing back Varitek at his current asking price?
Rob Neyer (12:11 PM)
I think he'll wind up getting a one-year offer for roughly what he's been making, if only because the organization loves the guy.
Patrick (City of Angels and Smog)
Rob, as an A's fan, I know we are traditionally frugal, but wouldn't signing Rafael Furcal to a 4/$48 million contract look pretty good compared to what Dempster got? We are seemingly getting the better player for less money, right?
Rob Neyer (12:12 PM)
It's all about his back. If his back injury is exceptionally unlikely to recur, Furcal's worth $12 million a year (or close to it).
Outside of empirical evidence, is there anything to suggest that Varitek is an above-average game-caller? Or that certain catchers are significantly better than their peers in this regard?
Rob Neyer (12:13 PM)
No, and no. But the Red Sox believe it, every last man in the organization from the guy who cleans the toilets to the one who signs the paychecks.
Hey Rob, I really appreciate the chats and the blog. Can you give me an insight on what will happen with Teahen and other possible Royals moves? Also what is your projected Royals lineup for 2009?
Rob Neyer (12:16 PM)
It's pretty clear that either Teahen or DeJesus will be dealt, since the Royals seem to be stuck with Jose Guillen. As both are dispensable, I would assume they'll trade whoever gets them the better package. Not sure why all the supposed interest in Teahen...
Love your chats and columns, Rob. Thanks. Can you settle an argument for me? Who are the top 5 starters in baseball today? I have them (in order)as Johan, CC, Halladay, Peavy and Lincecum, but a friend keeps insisting that Webb and Oswalt are also somewhere in there...
Rob Neyer (12:18 PM)
I might have Webb in and Peavy out, but obviously the answer depends on exactly how you frame the question.
Rod (Chicago, IL)
Reading Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lucas and there is a passage about Walter Johnson playing for a team in Idaho in 1907 before the Senators signed him. Are there any records of this?
Rob Neyer (12:21 PM)
I don't believe we have any statistical records, but yes there are reports in newspapers of the time, about him pitching for local teams out west. There's a wonderful book about Johnson, written by Henry Thomas (Johnson's grandson).
What are some of the statistics you look at to see if a player is posting fluke numbers? BABIP?
Rob Neyer (12:22 PM)
Sure, that's a good one. More often, I just look at his previous performance. I believe the last three years are a better predictor than this year.
Matt (Huntington Beach)
If the A's lose out on Furcal, what direction do they go in? Stick with Crosby? Sign a lesser FA? What would Crosby's likely destination be (Dodgers, Orioles)?
Rob Neyer (12:24 PM)
I'm not sure the A's can win with Crosby at shortstop, as he's become a liability whether hitting or fielding. Edgar Renteria's still out there, right? I think they have to replace Crosby if they're serious about winning.
Aldrich looked pretty good last night. Thoughts on the upcoming season?
Rob Neyer (12:26 PM)
I completely forgot about the game, and haven't seen the Jayhawks play this year. I suppose I'll re-find my passion once the Big 12 season starts. But the championship seems to have quelled something deep within me...
Chris (Richmond, VA)
I read that the Phillies are unsure of whether to offer arbitration to Pat Burrell based on the fear that he might accept and they'd be stuck with a large one year contract. The Phillies only want him for the short term and can likely bank on increased $ thanks to the championship. I think they have to offer arbitration to get the two draft picks in case he goes elsewhere. Thoughts?
Rob Neyer (12:27 PM)
I think a one-year deal wouldn't be a terrible thing. I'd be real cautious about a long-term contract because Burrell's defense is terrible and he's not the sort of player likely to age well. But offer him arbitration? Sure.
Any thoughts on Seattle's new manager?
Rob Neyer (12:32 PM)
All I know about Wakamatsu is what I read in the papers, but I was impressed with the thoroughness of the Mariners' process. That's really all you can ask of them.
Charlie (New York)
Is it better for the Indians to move Peralta to 3B and Cabrera to SS (gaining defensively) but losing Peralta's bat at SS and slotting in a 2B bat, or leave them like they are and go out to get a 3B who adds some offense?
Rob Neyer (12:35 PM)
My guess is that there's a marginal difference when you figure the defensive trade-off, so it comes down to available personnel. If they can find a second baseman, great: move Peralta. If they can find a third baseman, fine: leave everybody else alone.
Do you think Mussina is likely to be regarded much like Bert Blyleven when it comes to HoF votes? Great pitchers who are underrated by their conventional stats; no Cy Youngs; no great singular moments for voters to wax nostalgic about.
Rob Neyer (12:37 PM)
At the moment, Mussina seems to be getting more love from the voters than Blyleven ever has, but of course passions may cool between now and 2014. I do believe that both men will eventually be elected, and all this silliness will be mostly forgotten.
Regarding Mussina's "memorable moments" section of his HOF resume, as a Red Sox fan, his perfect game through 7 in the 2004 ALCS was pretty darn memorable.
Rob Neyer (12:41 PM)
Sure. But he's no Jack Morris!
The Sox were 73-44 last year when Captain Tek got at least 3 plate appearances as catcher and just 22-23 when he didn't. Over the last 5 years, they're 349-224 with him and 121-116 without. Is that just dumb luck or does it imply some ability to "call a game"?
Rob Neyer (12:42 PM)
I don't know, Muzzy. But I'd wanted to see a weighted look at his "Catcher ERA" before I even began to think about drawing a conclusion.
If Mussina and Blyleven eventually get in, do you see Curt Schilling getting in, too? And would you vote for him?
Rob Neyer (12:44 PM)
I've softened some on Schilling. The guy's postseason record is phenomenal -- MUCH better than Jack Morris's -- and I think that puts him over the top. Or should, probably. Those games do count.
Tony, A lot of talk about the Red Sox trading for Jarrod Saltiamacchia, any other MLB player ever marry his HS gym teacher?
Rob Neyer (12:46 PM)
I don't think so, but Babe Ruth married his physics professor.
Mike (Rutland, VT)
Hi Rob, Any thoughts on the two kids from India that the Pirates just signed? Thanks for your time. Happy Thanksgiving!!
Rob Neyer (12:49 PM)
I think it'll be the biggest miracle in sports history if we ever see one of them pitching in a real game on TV.
Owen (Windy City)
Any wacky predictions for the offseason or '9 that you care to toss out? Giants division champs? Blue Jays or Orioles an inspiration to their fans?
Rob Neyer (12:49 PM)
Reds make a big push in Central?
Tyler Old, NJ
Hey Rob, love your chats. It's my 21st Birthday Monday, can you answer this as my present? Is Melky Cabrera really a bad defensive centerfielder?
Rob Neyer (12:52 PM)
His numbers were actually pretty good this year, but terrible last year. So I don't know what to make of him. Fielding *or* hitting. If I were running a poor team I'd give him a year or two, see what happens. But the Yankees can't do that.
Nick (Allston, MA)
Disregarding their contract status, would you trade the next five years of Johan for Jon Lester?
Rob Neyer (12:54 PM)
I would not. Lester hasn't yet proved that he can throw 200 innings, season after season after season.
Hey Rob, is there any evidence that OBP is a "learnable" skill? In other words, any chance that Ken Macha can teach Braun and Hart to take an occasional walk?
Rob Neyer (12:56 PM)
I don't know that it's "learnable" so much as "maturable". Players typically improve their plate discipline just as they improve their batting average and their power (though not necessarily at the same time). By the way, did you see what Hanley Ramirez did this year?
Hey Rob. I've been having some trouble at work, not really accomplishing intended tasks and botching up things all over the place. Plus, I call out sick - alot. But I went and talked to my employer and promised I would do better and that they shouldn't replace me with someone who would be alot better at my job in all aspects and alot more dependable. Oh wait...no...I would get fired!!! Does Luis Castillo start at 2nd this year?
Rob Neyer (12:57 PM)
Yeah, but I'll bet you don't have a four-year contract!!! Castillo opens the season with the everyday job.
Does "everyone" in the Sox org. include Bill James?
Rob Neyer (12:57 PM)
Last I checked.
Is Peavy out (and Webb in) of your top 5 because of durability / health issues? Thanks.
Rob Neyer (12:59 PM)
Yeah, plus Peavy gets a tiny asterisk for pitching half his games in Petco (and yes, I know that his road stats have been outstanding as well).
Roddy (San Fran)
Will we look back at Pedroia as one of the worst players to win an MVP award? Not for this one season, but the course of his entire career.
Rob Neyer (1:03 PM)
Oh no, not at all. Remember Zoilo Versalles? Jeff Burroughs? Ken Caminiti and George Bell? Pedroia's made a great start toward a Hall of Fame-ish career.
Did you see Tracy Ringolsby's article on the meaning of MVP? In essence he said that the reason people criticize the MVP voting so much is because people want it to be based on formula fed into a computer which spits out the award winners. Surprising?
Rob Neyer (1:04 PM)
I've not yet met anyone who wants a computer-generated MVP. That's just Tracy being Tracy. He's the best!
What do you do during the offseason?
Rob Neyer (1:05 PM)
The same things I do during the season, but a little bit less. I also try to read some books and watch the first four seasons of The West Wing yet again.
Heidi Varitek - Wolcott, CT
Can someone please point out to the guy that showed Varitek's W/L record, when he's not catching, that usually it's Wakefield how is pitching (when Varitek isn't catching). Wakefield is a .500 pitcher, hence, "other catchers" will have a .500 winning %.
Rob Neyer (1:05 PM)
Steve (Pelham, NY)
I think Luis Castillo is getting raw deal. Last year for Mets in 298 AB: 43 runs scored; .355 OBP; 17 SB/caught 2; and 50 walks with only 35 K's. (Only guy on team with more BB"s than K's). Plus a patient guy to hit behind Reyes. What's wrong with that?
Rob Neyer (1:06 PM)
He drew his share of walks, but had no pop at all and his defense continues to decline. Basically, if he's not hitting around .300 he's not good enough to play every day.
Rob, in your opinion how much does wearing a red sox or yankees uniform enhance a players HOF chances? For example, if Mussina stayed w/ Baltimore his whole career and put up exactly the same stats (or even better regular season stats to compensate for not being on a playoff team) are we even having this HOF discussion?
Rob Neyer (1:08 PM)
Well, he wouldn't have won quite as many games over these last six or seven years, that's for (almost) sure. But there's no discernible team bias in the Hall of Fame voting. Not by the BBWAA, at least. Look at how poorly Guidry and Mattingly have fared.
Jim (Rockville MD)
Rob, see that Sports Nite just came out on DVD? West Wing before West Wing.
Rob Neyer (1:10 PM)
Maybe there's a new edition, but I've had Sports Night on DVD for a long time. Great show. It's not nearly flawless -- as WW was -- but it's always interesting and funny.
I saw your asssertion that Kirk Gibson was a valid MVP choice in '88. How so?
Rob Neyer (1:11 PM)
It's all about the math, and the dreaded little things. He had a good year with the bat, a good year on the bases, a good year in the outfield . . . I believe he led the NL in Win Shares that season, or came very close.
Terry Pendleton won a friggin MVP, didn't he? That's AWFUL.
Rob Neyer (1:12 PM)
cf. Gibson in '88 . . . Pendleton was outstanding in 1991 (and then again in '92). I'd like to know how Schuerholz figured that one out...
Ben (Sacramento, CA.)
If we're talking about shows Rob, PLEASE tell me you watch The Shield. Just as good of writing and acting as WW. HUGE series finale tonight.
Rob Neyer (1:13 PM)
I do watch, and it's a fine program. But I can't imagine that I'll ever want to watch again.
Your take on Season 5 of the Office so far? I think its better than 4, but not quite at the level of Season 2.
Rob Neyer (1:14 PM)
The best of Season 5 has been as good as anything they've done, but I've detected a bit of inconsistency. Still the best show running...
Chris, Boston Massachusetts
Hey Rob...you're brian cashman. What do you do about Hughes and Kennedy? Commit, or pull the rip cord? I think Hughes is still very promising and people have rushed to judgment but I feel Kennedy is over-hyped under-talented.
Rob Neyer (1:15 PM)
I believe that one of them will win 14-16 games in 2008. I have no idea which one.
Rob, gotta disagree with your assessment that Burroughs was one of weakest MVP candidates. He won his award at age 24, then followed it up with two top-20 finishes in the next three years. According to your defense of Pedroia, one can also argue that Burroughs was on a similar Hall of Famish career path at a similar age. (It's just that we're from the future and we already know what happened to J.B.'s career).
Rob Neyer (1:17 PM)
Sure, but Burroughs was a big slow guy whose best position was the batter's box. Pedroia does everything well.
Brendan (Rathmines, Ireland)
Has Jim Bowden ever built a winning franchise? Ever?
Rob Neyer (1:18 PM)
He put together some good teams in Cincinnati, yeah? When McKeon was managing? He must be impressive, up close...
Who are the top candidates for the Hall of Fame this year? Who gets in? Anyone from Veteran's Committee?
Rob Neyer (1:25 PM)
Ron Santo and Gil Hodges both have legitimate shots, via the Vets. And the BBWAA is almost certainly going to elect Jim Rice, alone. Thanks for all the questions. Until next time, don't forget: res ipsa loquitur.
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