Chat with Rob Neyer
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com MLB Insider Rob Neyer will drop by to chat some baseball.
Neyer's book, "Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends," can be ordered now!
Send your questions now and join Neyer on Tuesday at noon ET!
Bobby (Syracuse, NY)
Hey Rob, you mentioned a couple weeks ago that you were actually doing some research related to Syracuse? Any further info you can pass along on this?
Rob Neyer (12:05 PM)
I mentioned that? Well, yes. I was doing some research for a friend, trying to track down details of a postseason exhibition that featured Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. The good people in the Syracuse library were incredibly gracious.
Gus (New City, NY)
Rob, As a Yankees fan I could not be more thrilled for the Twins that they've locked up Mauer. Now we don't have to hear a summer of stories how it's not fair that the Twins could not sign him before the season so they are going to have to trade him to either of the big bad AL East teams. Does this make you feel as good as I do? Thanks
Rob Neyer (12:06 PM)
Maybe even a little better. Leaving aside the Twins, it makes baseball more interesting when the richest teams can't simply purchase the best players.
John (Sioux Falls, SD)
According to fangraphs Mauer has had an average value of about 22 mil a year over the last 5 years. Is valuing him at 23 mil over the next 8 (which includes most of his peak) really that far off? Granted injury could change all that, but isn't he the kind of player on which you gamble? At least the Twins are rolling the dice on a superstar, not simply another good player.
Rob Neyer (12:06 PM)
Sure. If I'm running the Twins I make the deal. That doesn't mean we can't point out the potential pitfalls.
Thoughts on Sean Rodriguez? This years Zobrist as an upside?
Rob Neyer (12:08 PM)
Do you mean last year's Zobrist? Because we don't know much about Zorilla 2010 yet. Last year's version is a lofty goal, considering that he might have been one of the five best players in the league. If Rodriguez is one of the 50 best this year, the Rays will throw a parade.
Stanley (Duluth, MN)
Rob--who's your pick in the AL Central? I think that people are selling the Twins pitching short. Baker, Blackburn, Slowey, and Pavano, plus Liriano/Duensing, are good enough with that lineup. And it's not like our bullpen is all of a sudden horrible with Nathan out. Thoughts?
Rob Neyer (12:10 PM)
No, not horrible ... Still, they just lost 20-30 runs, right? Now think about how close the Central has been in recent seasons ... I think the Twins have been knocked back to roughly 85 wins, and co-favorites with White Sox.
Josh Sands (Philly)
Based upon your blog post, what do you think the Phillies best option is for a 5th starter. I think Kendrick gets the job, but Moyer works a long man, and can start if needed.
Rob Neyer (12:12 PM)
Josh, I don't have any idea, but then again that's sort of the point: Neither does anyone else, so it's foolish to focus on trying to figure out THE ONE GUY who's going to serve as No. 5 starter. Managers used to actually THINK about who's going to start tomorrow; now they just punt those decisions in March.
Any thoughts on the Tribe this season? While I don't necessarily expect them to win the AL Central, they've looked good in Spring Training.
Rob Neyer (12:21 PM)
so much depends upon / those five young starters / who knows what they'll do / against those tough Americans?
Hafner looks good so far this spring. Think he's back? why/not?
Rob Neyer (12:22 PM)
I think the ability to hit lies still within him, but I worry about the exoskeleton.
Jeff (Princeton, NJ)
When do we start talking about Chase Utley as a future HOF? The man has been the best player at his position for 5 years and he has 7 career HR in the World Series. He's a cartoon character.
Rob Neyer (12:23 PM)
You know I think the world of Utley, but because of his late start he's still a few years away from becoming a serious candidate.
Is there any continued talk about Howard for Albert?
Rob Neyer (12:23 PM)
Not that anyone will admit to.
In reference to the comments on the article from Tangotiger, do you agree with his complete and utter dismissal of ERA because of the inexplicable use of unearned runs? If so, what "should" ERA be replaced with? FIP?
Rob Neyer (12:24 PM)
ERA should not be used by people who do what Tango does, as he has the luxury of a tiny audience. For the rest of us, ERA is still a useful tool.
Seems to me the notion of a long reliever has been lost for the past dozen or so years, maybe longer. Does it seem that most organizations follow the same blue print? How crazy is that?
Rob Neyer (12:27 PM)
We have to at least acknowledge the possibility that the current system has evolved because it works better than what existed before. That said, it's not true that evolution leads inexorable to improvement. I believe it's time to rethink the assigned pitching roles. What does Billy Beane say ... When everyone thinks alike, no one is thinking?
Rob, is Dontrelle Willis really going to be back in the rotation...pardon my pessemistic thought but i cant imagine him keeping this up for 162 games. your thoughts?
Rob Neyer (12:28 PM)
I mentioned this in the blog yesterday ... Lynn Henning, who covers the Tigers, thinks Willis is more likely to earn his release than a slot in the rotation. I happen to agree.
Re: utley and the hall. I think an underrated factor in the phillies' run has been waiting to bring guys into the majors until they are in their mid to late 20s (i guess, really, i mean Utley and Howard). But doing that just saves you SO MUCH money for the rest of your team, and by the time their arbitration is up (and whatever few years you have extended them), their prime is over and they are going to be overpaid by some other team.
Rob Neyer (12:32 PM)
If they were doing that on purpose, it was sort of brilliant. I'm just not sure they were. Howard got his chance when he deserved it, considering he was blocked at first base by Thome. Utley did spend about 150 games more in Triple-A than he should have; first he was blocked by Marlon Anderson, then (sort of) David Bell. It's true that there's no reason to bring up a young player before he's ready to help you.
I don't know that I agree with you on ERA. I mean, I see how it's important to use stats that everyone recognizes and understands. But you have a pretty big audience. Considering that, and your background, wouldn't you say you have a really good platform to give "more correct" (or reliable, or informative) stats (like FIP) a wider appeal? Reading you for all these years is part of why I dug into metrics.
Rob Neyer (12:34 PM)
I use the newer metrics all the time, Rob. When discussing Cy Young candidates last fall, I wasn't relying on ERA (or at least I hope I wasn't). But ... (I was just reading Bill James on this subject this morning ) ... no statistic is perfect. Usually a pitcher with a 5.94 ERA didn't pitch well, and so usually I would rather just say 5.94 rather than something that 25% of the readers might not recognize.
Dave (Thousand Oaks, CA)
Rob, what do you suppose the odds are that the A's end up moving out of the Bay Area completely, given the current fiasco?
Rob Neyer (12:37 PM)
I think there are too many moving parts -- in the East Bay and San Jose; in San Antonio and Las Vegas and Portland; in Milwaukee and Manhattan and many points in between -- for anyone to reasonably guess where the A's will be in 10 years. If they're not viable in Oakland, I'd like to see them in San Jose or Portland, but of course I don't have a vote.
Rob (Cambridge, MA)
Why is a Pedroia considered a perennial MVP candidate when he hits .750 OPS outside of Fenway? Is he going to get the Rice red carpet into the HOF too?
Rob Neyer (12:41 PM)
Well, leaving aside the fact that park effects are tricky in relation to player evaluation, a Gold Glove-quality second baseman with a 750 OPS is a pretty valuable player.
Glenn (Fresno, CA)
Rob, It looks like the Cubs will have a nice young and talented team if they choose within a couple of years. Will that work in Chicago?
Rob Neyer (12:42 PM)
We'll see if the new owner has the stomach for a few years of rebuilding...
Is detroit really going to send C. Thomas down? the guy was worth 1.8 WAR inn 300 PA last year 7 months removed from T.J. surgery... and he's killing the ball this spring.. seems like the kind of guy you should be building your club around.. not optioning to the minors
Rob Neyer (12:43 PM)
I don't know if they're really going to send him down, but the big contracts held by Guillen and Ordonez leave the manager in a sticky spot.
Did Bill Self not press Northern Iowa out of arrogance? Obviously Kansas should be able to out talent a team like NIU and beat them straight up but anyone who saw NIU vs UNLV would have seen their total inability to handle the press
Rob Neyer (12:50 PM)
Kansas wasn't a pressing team all season, and Self's excuse was that he had some guys in early foul trouble. Maybe a great game coach figures out a way to win, but there aren't many of those. They just didn't play well enough, just like they didn't play well enough against Tennessee or Oklahoma State, and almost didn't play well enough against Cornell and Colorado. It happens.
Cosmo (Jersey City)
Are park effects an accurate way to evaluate an MVP candidate? While the player may have been artificially successful due to his park, he still played 1/2 of his games there and provided exactly the value of his numbers.
Rob Neyer (12:51 PM)
Park effects are useful when looking at a player, but rigorous analysis demands more than a cursory look at home/road splits.
What is your opinion on whether or not the Nationals will draft Bryce Harper? And if they do not, who is the next best player in the draft?
Rob Neyer (12:57 PM)
I think they'll take him, if only because he's the only draft-eligible player I've heard of (I'll know more of them later this spring, but I really don't pay a great deal of attention to amateur baseball, have a hard enough time keeping track of the pros).
Do you follow Roger Ebert on Twitter? The man is some kind of brilliant.
Rob Neyer (12:58 PM)
I do. Leaving aside his brilliance (or not, and I go back and forth on that), I admire his will and his work habits.
Ryan (Colombia, MO)
Is there any chance the Royals cut bait on Jose Guillen? Any at all? Please?
Rob Neyer (12:59 PM)
Nah, probably not this soon. Maybe in June or July if he's still a nuisance.
who are in your opinion some of the better college basketball "game" coaches. Izzo has to be towards the top of this list I would think. Maybe Matta too?
Rob Neyer (1:00 PM)
I have no idea, Justin. I just don't follow the game closely enough, except for Kansas, to have the first idea about who can coach (in game) and who can't. Has anyone ever done any sort of rigorous analysis of college coaching?
Jeff (Ann Arbor)
The Royals have an impressive collection of minor league arms. How far away are they from making the playoffs again?
Rob Neyer (1:02 PM)
They do? Well, sort of. There aren't any Grade A prospects in the bunch, but there are some interesting Grade B guys. I won't mention that the Royals have developed one good young starter in the last 10 years...
Rob, Keith Law said major league players don't give up ABs. I said there is no way a hitter would approach a 9th inning AB with 4 run game vs a 1 run game the same way. He says they do. I think its only natural that a players concentration in those 2 instances would be considerably different (unless its a bench player who's just happy to be in a game). Do you agree with his assertion? Are there any stats that disregard ABs in blowouts?
Rob Neyer (1:06 PM)
Keith knows more about this than I do ... That said, I wouldn't try to argue there's ZERO difference ... but I suspect that if there's a difference, it's much smaller than you think. When you're standing there and a large man is throwing a small, hard object at you as hard as he can, you tend to stay pretty alert.
Sorry about the game Saturday. To Brian in Brooklyn, it's UNI not NIU. University of Northern Iowa. Northern Illinois University is NIU. Not that I'd expect anyone to really care or notice.Go Panthers!
Rob Neyer (1:06 PM)
Duly noted, thanks.
People always say the Twins will struggle outdoors, because their hitters won't luck out so much. But surely it works both ways, and their pitchers will get more out of outdoor baseball?
Rob Neyer (1:08 PM)
Gosh, I don't know about that ... The Twins have enjoyed a big home-field edge in the 'dome. They're going to lose that, and will have compensate by playing better on the road.Thanks for all the questions. 'til next time, remember: "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."