Chat with Rob Neyer
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Buzzmaster (12:50 PM)
Rob will be here at 1 p.m. ET to chat about ESPN.com's lastest project - Battle of the Budgets. Check here for rounds 6-10 - http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3869246
Rob Neyer (1:03 PM)
Okay, let 'er loose...
Baker before Shields? Brave man, Mr. Neyer. Where do you see David Price and Matt LaPorta going?
Rob Neyer (1:04 PM)
With Price, the problem is trying to figure out what the simulation will do with him, as his performance last year was good but not great, in terms of translating to the majors. I certainly don't think you can count on him for seven innings per postseason start.
Why wasn't Keith Law invited into this draft? I'm thinking that you had something to do with it so that you'd be the clear favorite. Something smells fishy.
Rob Neyer (1:06 PM)
Yes, I definitely have that sort of pull in Bristol . . . [long, Borat-ish pause] . . . NOT.
Duffy (Queens, NY)
If the Dodgers now walk away from Manny, his shenanigans to get out from under the Red Sox options will likely end up costing him money (I can't see anyone else ponying up $20 million or more) AND enriching Boras at the same time (who will take his cut of whatever contract Manny does end up signing). Poetic justice? The beginning of the end of Boras' credibility with his clients?
Rob Neyer (1:08 PM)
The first time someone said this about Boras was, when? When Varitek didn't sign with the Twins? Boras takes a lot of gambles, and sometimes he loses one. He'll probably be the biggest agent in the game until he gets tired and retires.
Rob, why aren't you trash talking with Olney, Stark and Phillips? Too cool for school?
Rob Neyer (1:12 PM)
Not at all. When we drafted -- I hope I'm allowed to mention that we actually finished the draft a week ago -- I was engaged in a family thing, so between flying and driving and hospital visits, it was all I could do just to make my picks in reasonable time. Didn't leave much room for between-picks banter, unfortunately. I hope to do better next year.
Bill Smith, Twin Cities
I have another young pitcher you should consider who is paid cheaply this year- Francisco Liriano. How is it he hasn't been drafted yet?
Rob Neyer (1:12 PM)
Trust me, he will be. And fairly soon, if memory serves.
Brett (Kansas City, MO)
After looking at your draft picks I've noticed a few of our Royals on there.(Grienke and Gordon) Curious as to your thought on the moves that Dayton Moore has made. Is this a breakout year for the Royals in terms of their division? We seemed to lose so many close games last year and were very streaky. Also, do you think Mark Teahen is a permanent player in the line-up? He is very talented but hasn't lived up to the hype from 2006.
Rob Neyer (1:14 PM)
Teahen's a JAG: just another guy. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But his star potential is somewhere between 1 and 6 percent (at best). As for Greinke and Gordon, they were the highest-ranking on my board, at their positions, when I made those picks. I'm happy to have them, but I didn't take them because they're Royals.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD)
How does nobody have Felix Hernandez yet? Tell me you are picking him next. He is a top 5 pitcher and he's getting less than $4 M a year?
Rob Neyer (1:14 PM)
Again, I'm really, really sure he'll be selected. And maybe by one of your all-time favorite baseball writers.
Chris (Charleston, SC)
Are you allowed to draft Matt Weiters?
Rob Neyer (1:15 PM)
Yes. Literally anyone in professional baseball is eligible for the draft, as the simulation can project anyone in the majors or minors.
Love the battle of the budgets idea, but I think it misses one of the main problems with MLBs huge payroll disparity. It's not so much that you can't build a good team on a budget by making solid decisions... obviously you can, even though it's much harder. The problem is that if/when a low budget team makes a few poor decisions it can badly hamper the team for years. The Yankees, on the other hand, can sign a dozen Hideki Irabu's and easily recover. Basically, it's not how hard it is to win that's a problem, it's how easy it is to lose.
Rob Neyer (1:17 PM)
Well, sure. But are the other sports really so different? The ones with salary caps, I mean? In a perfect world, everyone would have the same chance and everything would be determined by decision-making (and luck, of course). But we've never lived in that world, and we never will.
Guillermo (Madrid, Spain)
Hi Rob! Tell me something, what do you think of Grant Balfour going in round 9? I mean, apart from the fact that he is a reliever, he's only had ONE good season, plus he is 31 years old. On a "fantasy" level, did you have him pegged as a possible selection? On a "real-life" level, can he repeat? My last memories of him are those of a guy who couldn't hold a lead in the postseason, but I have to admit I missed much of last regular season.
Rob Neyer (1:18 PM)
I was disappointed when he went before I could draft him. Balfour may not be a great pitcher, but he did have a great year and gets a ton of K's. I wish I had him.
Have you noticed Buster went the draft all my pitchers first route and has only 2 position players? What do you think his strategy is?
Rob Neyer (1:22 PM)
I think his strategy was to lock up his rotation early, and I think that might work quite well. Lincecum might have been a better first pick than Pedroia (mine), but I was a little leery about National League pitchers. When you see my whole roster, you'll notice that it's mostly American Leaguers. Now I just have to hope the simulation accounts for the AL's big edge over the NL...
Scott (Vienna, VA)
What salary do current FA (Manny, Dunn, Sheets, etc.) get counted for in this draft? Any of these players could take a severe paycut from last year when he finally signs- how is that measured in your draft?
Rob Neyer (1:24 PM)
That's a judgment call by the officials, but is probably moot because none of those guys are really viable, given our budget constraints.
Charles (San Jose)
How did Steve Phillips get Adrian Gonzalez at half his 2008 salary?
Rob Neyer (1:27 PM)
He did? Let me check that . . . Hrmm, maybe that's just a typo. Should have been $3 million for this year, based on four-year deal he signed in April '07.
Tyler (Wooster, OH)
What do you think of the Indians this year? Legitimate sleeper?
Rob Neyer (1:28 PM)
Sure. Just look at how well they played in the last two months even without Sabathia, and they figure to get more from Hafner and Victor Martinez this year. I don't know if they're the favorites, but they're definitely contenders.
Mike - Chicago
Why can't Stark believe that Saunders was still on the board in round 8, wasn't last year kind of an illusion?
Rob Neyer (1:30 PM)
I can't speak for Jayson, but he might have been looking at Saunders' record and ERA rather than his strikeouts.
Rob, did you assume your team is playing in a offense neutral park or otherwise? Seems like your OF team will be strong on defense so just wondering how that's figured in to the simulator?
Rob Neyer (1:32 PM)
Throughout, I assumed that the simulation is sophisticated enough to accurately measure and weight defense. Essentially I was trying to draft a real baseball team.
Rumor out there today is Abreu to the ChiSox. If it is true, does he bat leadoff? Does it make the Sox the favorite in the Central?
Rob Neyer (1:33 PM)
Don't they still have Dye, Konerko, and Thome? I'm just trying to figure out where Abreu fits. But yeah, he makes them a game or two better.
you just said simulation and accurate with regards to fielding? DORK. how can some number generated Monte Carlo simulation really ever be accurate? You should go work on Wall Street. Bunch of Nerds
Rob Neyer (1:34 PM)
You mean like the guys who run the Rays? I'll pass along your wisdom to them. I'm sure they'll be grateful. I know I am.
Isnt it (very) likely that any of the 4 teams drafted will be favored over the Yankees in the finals? I know this is a payroll exercise, but it might be more interesting to see how you'd fare against the 4 teams from the LCS from '08.
Rob Neyer (1:36 PM)
I'm not sure about the Yankees, Vinny. But probably just about any other team out there, yeah. And if we don't do it this time around, next time we may have the winner of the tournament go against the Bombers for the true championship.
Rob, Carl Crawford or Alex Rios over the next three years? Thanks in advance.
Rob Neyer (1:39 PM)
Oh, that's a tough one. But I'm going with Rios because is defense is good enough and he's potentially a great hitter (also because the numbers say he's better).
cliff lee, that early seems a little high for the price you have to pay and considering it was only one good year? better buster than you right?
Rob Neyer (1:40 PM)
Well, that's what I thought. But again, we're all sort of guessing what the sim will do with a guy like Lee.
Kemp or Sizemore next 3 years??
Rob Neyer (1:41 PM)
Sizemore, by a lot. He might be the most valuable player in the majors over the next three seasons. Certainly one of the top five. And Kemp's just not there yet.
Paplepon is one of the top 3 closers in the game today if not the best. His Salary I believe is around $775,000 and yet he is still available through the first 10 rounds which to me is surprising. Does he go soon?
Rob Neyer (1:42 PM)
I believe he might be drafted, but you're WAY off on his compensation; he recently signed a one-year deal for $6.25 million.
The beauty of the exercise is that you could always play anyone's team against the Yankees, because you are virtually assured that no Yankees will be drafted. Most of them make $30-40M by themselves.
Rob Neyer (1:43 PM)
Yeah, that's right. I believe Joba Chamberlain might be the only guy who would be on both teams.
Is the simulation based solely on each player's 2008 stats or some other basis?
Rob Neyer (1:44 PM)
The sim will employ projections for every player, which could mean anything but usually means the previous season, the season before that, etc. With the more distant seasons weighted less, of course.
How are incentives factored in? Pettitte looks pretty good at 5.5 mil, but not so much at 12 mil.
Rob Neyer (1:46 PM)
Again, that's a judgment call by our referee. But I don't think he looks good even at $5.5 million. Not when your budget is $40 million.
Rob - I know it's kind of implied that a lot of young players are being drafted, but what about a guy like Okajima? Reasonably priced at 1.5M or so, and had 2 good seasons to his credit, playing in the AL East in a hitters park. Granted he doesn't have the arm Balfour does, but the sim should be generous with his output.
Rob Neyer (1:48 PM)
Yeah, I think that's right. But he does make $1.75 million, and lefty set-up man is the one spot you probably have to save for the minimum-salary guy (or guys).
In your blog, you often will say such and such player was worth $x last year. Is that a straight conversion per win share? per WARP? VORP? Does it depend on the position?
Rob Neyer (1:49 PM)
I've been grabbing those values from FanGraphs, Adam. Sometimes I throw the link in, but sometimes I don't. And other people come up with different values. But I trust their work as much as anyone's.
What do you think about the Orioles Chances of breaking the .500 barrier this year with all the signings and trades they've made this year? Also, which new player they've gained as of late, including Rich Hill and soon to be signed Ty Wigginton, do you believe will show the most impact this year and for years to come?
Rob Neyer (1:51 PM)
Wigginton's a JAG and Hill now looks like a Serious Project. Plus the O's play in the toughest division. So no, I don't think 82 wins is in their near future. Sorry.
How is Markakis only making $3 million next year when he just signed a new 6 year contract.
Rob Neyer (1:52 PM)
Like most long-term deals for young players, the serious dough doesn't kick in until a few years down the road.
I have to say that I'm a little confused at Longoria slipping to the 5th pick. I would argue that he's the most valuable player in the league over the next 3 years due to his salary and ridonculous talent. Explain your Pedroia pick please.
Rob Neyer (1:53 PM)
Well, gee. In his first two seasons, Pedroia's been the Rookie of the Year and the MVP. He hits, he fields, and he runs. I'm not saying he was the best pick I could have made. But I feel pretty good about him (not to mention Sizemore, too).
How are you dealing with the prospect of injuries and the way that might affect player projections? As an example, if your five starting pitchers are projected to pitch only 25 games apiece, who picks up the slack?
Rob Neyer (1:55 PM)
I think that's going to be a small (or nonexistent) factor, Greg. Initially we were going to play a 162-game schedule prior to our tournament, and if we'd done that, durability would presumably have been a real concern. But we discarded the long season and I doubt if injuries will have any impact now.
Craig (Dayton, OH)
You and Sheehan are chatting at the same time. He just called Ryan Howard the most overrated player in baseball. Who do you think is the most overrated player?
Rob Neyer (1:58 PM)
He's right. It's Howard. People are unhealthily obsessed with home runs and (especially) RBIs. Other candidates include Morneau and Ichiro!
Tom (Chicago, IL)
"Then, on Thursday, Feb. 12, our ultimate general manager will pit his budget-conscious team against the deep-pocketed New York Yankees in a seven-game series." - Looks like the winner will be taking on the Bombers.
Rob Neyer (1:58 PM)
Oh, we are doing it this year. Cool. I just hope I'm still involved on the 12th.
Who's idea was it to start the Battle of the Budgets. Its a really good idea.
Rob Neyer (2:00 PM)
I'm not sure, Chris. But an editor named Nick Pietruszkiewicz ran the draft, came up with salaries, etc. We have a lot of creative people doing the actual work in Bristol while I noodle around with my figures and such.
Billy Beane (Oakland)
You should have played a 162 game season. This tournament is a crap shoot.
Rob Neyer (2:01 PM)
That'll be my excuse when I lose. Thanks for playing the home game with us, and please stay tuned for more updates. Until then, don't take no jive from no Western Union messengers.
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