Chat with Keith Law
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, MLB Insider Keith Law will be here to take your questions on anything baseball related.
Law is the senior baseball analyst for Scouts Inc. Before joining ESPN, Law served as special assistant to the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays and was a writer for Baseball Prospectus.
Send your questions now and join Law Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Klaw (1:02 PM)
I'm listening to the new My Bloody Valentine record right now because I read that listening to music that annoys you can make you more creative. I might be Pablo Picasso before this chat is over.
Most unexpected storyline of the first week so far?
Klaw (1:03 PM)
I'm shocked that people are overreacting to two- and three-game samples. Totally blown away by this. Humans are normally so rational about tiny samples.
I may have missed it, but what are your thoughts on the Posey extension? Thanks.
Klaw (1:04 PM)
Like most of these long deals, there's a substantial bet on health involved. I also don't think this deal is great for the Giants if Posey eventually becomes a part-time or occasional catcher. But as long as he's healthy and primarily catching, it's a fair deal for them, and of course a great deal for him given the risks of the position.
Stewie Griffin (Quahog)
Has Dylan Covey regressed that much or is this more of his diabetic issue? Has he fallen out of the top 100?
Klaw (1:05 PM)
Not a top 100 draft prospect, because the stuff hasn't been that good and, more importantly, he's shown poor command. He and Whitson should have signed. I understand Covey's concern about finding out he had diabetes, but MLB teams have access to pretty good medical care.
Did the Diamondbacks do the right thing in extending Goldschmidt? It seems a bargain compared to the other two extensions that day.
Klaw (1:07 PM)
If you believe he's a full-time player, sure, but he's shown a pretty significant platoon split so far and I think it's likely to continue. I'm not really a fan of locking up complementary players to long-term deals, which I think describes Goldschmidt. You lock up your stars, and go year-to-year with your other players. That's part of where Cleveland went astray in the '90s when they pioneered long-term deals with arb-eligible and pre-arb guys - they started handing them out to EVERYONE instead of being selective.
Don't you think it's cheap you use "small sample size" as an excuse for everything?
Klaw (1:07 PM)
It's not cheap. It's free.
verlander making 28 mil in the back end of his 30's. what do you make of the deal?
Klaw (1:08 PM)
That one scares me. Even with no injury history, it seems very risky - look at Halladay right now.
Wasn't the point of not letting Bundy throw his cutter to avoid the arm troubles that he is having now?
Klaw (1:08 PM)
So I've heard.
Lincecum walked 7, took 91 pitches to get through 5 innings, and his avg. fastball velo was 90mph. Early season aside he has been rough now for over a year, how long before the Giants move him full time to the bullpen?
Klaw (1:09 PM)
I think he gets at least two months. They don't have an ideal replacement in the wings, and he's so established as a starter there ... maybe that's too long, now that I say it, but I don't expect them to move him to the pen as a knee-jerk reaction to a bad 2-3 starts.
At what point is it reasonble to conclude that Kozma's major league performance is not a fluke or SSS and represents a change from his mediocre minor league results? If his stat line is 290/340/510 at the end of the year, can we conclude that maybe he made some adjustments? It does occassionally happen, right?
Klaw (1:10 PM)
I have no answer for this. I just admire the power of your imagination.
Mike The Tiger (Baton Rouge)
Klaw! The Box is waiting for you my friend. I know Eades, Jones, and Bregman may have your eye, but what about the work of Mason Katz? Leading NCAA in RBI and homers earlier this week. Chances he sees the bigs? Where does he go in the draft?
Klaw (1:12 PM)
I'll be there, probably in May. Looking forward to it. Katz was draft-eligible last year but wasn't selected. That tells us quite a bit about how teams perceive him - I think he's an org player, a $1000 senior sign type. Jones is fascinating - great tools, great athlete, hitting .188 right now after a bad sophomore year. At some point, you still have to roll the dice on the athlete, but not in the top two rounds, at least.
Andrew (Centereach, NY)
i tried to ask you this on twitter, but i couldnt get it to fit. but isnt it funny how coaches preach to pitchers to throw a bunting batter a strike because he is giving you an out. yet in the next half inning they they do the same thing and give up an out.
Klaw (1:13 PM)
And they see no contradiction there.
If Grey/Appel are both gone by #4, would Bryant make sense for the Twins?
Klaw (1:14 PM)
Two of Appel, Gray, Manaea, Anderson, and Shipley will be there, by definition. I'd be surprised if they didn't take one of those guys.
Adam Warren looked decent in relief last night. Think he should move there permanently?
Klaw (1:14 PM)
This is not meant to be sarcastic. If you (or any scout) make a projection on a prospect and he begins his career significantly better or worse than you thought, how long before you wouldn't say "he'll come back to the mean" or "small sample size?" When do you change your assessment?
Klaw (1:15 PM)
The answer is that is complicated. It depends on how the performance varies from the reports/projections, and whether the tools/skills/pitches have changed. A kid who loses 2-3 mph moving into pro ball will see his projections change immediately (and sometimes, like with Bumgarner, the projections will change again when the velo returns).
Ryan (Hanover, PA)
True or False...Kevin Gausman is currently the Orioles best prospect?
Klaw (1:16 PM)
This depends on whether Bundy is out for a few days or if the elbow injury is serious.
Keith,How much more in signing bonues money do you think Appel needs to get to make returing to Stanford "worth" it? Do you think he'll get it?
Klaw (1:18 PM)
If he ends up with $5 million, which is about 30% more than he turned down last year, how is that not a win? And if he gets it from Houston, a city where he has family ties, or the Cubs, an organization with a larger fan base and more resources than the Pirates have, isn't that an even bigger one? I don't think he gets past the Cubs. He's the best player in this draft - which he wasn't last year - and one of those two teams has to work something out with him.
Hahn (Sioux Falls)
Do you ever get sick of watching baseball? What do you do to relax?
Klaw (1:20 PM)
I spend time with my daughter, I read, I cook, I play boardgames, I listen to music, I do a little gardening (mostly weeding right now, though), I exercise, I go to movies ... I have some options. Baseball is wonderful, but when it is your job, you need non-baseball activities to give your life some balance.
Andy (Lynchburg, VA)
Do MLB scouts think Mashiro Tanaka has the same potential as Darvish? I've seen where writers seem to think so but was wondering what scouts think about it..
Klaw (1:21 PM)
No. Not really close.
Is it feasible the Braves could lead the league in both home runs and strikeouts this year? That looks like a very big feast or famine lineup.
Klaw (1:22 PM)
They'll be among the league leaders in both, at least.
Jason (Seattle, WA)
Do you think the Brewers need to hire a team hypnotist so that John Axford always thinks they're up 1 in the bottom of the 9th? Also, if he could cluck like a chicken while he pitches it would be pretty cool.
Klaw (1:22 PM)
Have you ever actually seen a chicken?
Gibbons used his potentially 5 best relievers (Delabar 7th, Oliver 8th, Rogers 9th, Janssen 10th, Santos 11th) last night in situations where they were down by a run or tied. Great move or Greatest move
Klaw (1:22 PM)
Greatest move. I thought rehiring Gibby was great.
Hey Keith- Boardgame question: Ever play the game Axis & Allies? My 13 year old son is lobbying for us to get this one. Any thoughts?
Klaw (1:22 PM)
I hate that game. Takes forever to set up, winner is more or less determined after the first full turn.
Jerry (Rapid City)
Matt Harvey. Pretty, pretty, pretty good, huh?
Klaw (1:23 PM)
Another guy where the projection changed quickly - the plus-plus slider just showed up in the mail one day, and suddenly he went from a 2-3 to an ace.
I?m bothered by what seems to be the generally accepted sabermetric assumption that a win above replacement is worth about $5 million, and that free agent contracts can be evaluated based on this valuation. Isn?t this one of the worst conclusions sabermetricians have come up with? First, it assumes the monetary value of a win is linear (it?s clearly not?paying $5 million per WAR for a 1-2 win player is far too much, for example). And even if it was an entirely accurate valuation, the free agent market inherently is inefficient. So paying $5 million per WAR would not mean the contract was a good signing for the team?it would just mean that the team was league average in its inefficient spending.
Klaw (1:24 PM)
And the value of a marginal win varies for each team depending on their market size, their market's utility curve (how elastic the demand for tickets is relative to the team's quality or record), and the rest of the roster. It's why I don't like to write up analyses of contract extensions and why I tend to focus far more on years in deals than dollars.
Sean (Los Angeles)
Hey KLAW,Something about Smoak looks different now... shorter swing and not flailing at offspeed pitches. Do you see anything different... could the dream still be alive?
Klaw (1:25 PM)
Stop teasing me.
Do players who see you at games ever get nervous when they see you coming? Particularly if you're holding a big radar gun?
Klaw (1:25 PM)
I'm usually the shortest guy in the scouts' section. It's tough to spot me from the mound.
Re your Twins answer above, has Stanek fallen to the point that he's not even one of the top 5 college arms?
Klaw (1:26 PM)
I'd say he's not clearly among them, but I could see a team choosing him over a Shipley or an Anderson given track records and Arkansas's pitch-calling, which has him throwing too many sliders.
Do you agree with Rob Neyer that baseball needs to do something to move away from the rise in "three true outcomes" across the sport?
Klaw (1:27 PM)
I didn't see that argument, but I have felt the same to some extent - I'm not sure that the rise in strikeouts to current levels is a positive thing. But I'm also not sure what baseball might do about it.
Ho do you feel about the alleged Andrus extension?
Klaw (1:27 PM)
Given the state of shortstop in the majors, his age, and his skill set and production to date, I thought it was a very good deal for Texas.
I have read that Jonathan Gray throws 4 pitches. Do you know what they are and if anything other than his FB are above average?
Klaw (1:28 PM)
I saw him and wrote about him in February. The slider is the out pitch.
Detroit GM (Desparateville)
We have resigned Jose Valverde. Our closers problems are solved.
Klaw (1:28 PM)
All joking aside, wasn't Valverde showing 40 command of an average fastball at the end of last year?
Victor( iIndy) [via mobile]
Personally I think the Rangers are fine. Your thoughts?
Klaw (1:29 PM)
JP (Columbus, OH)
Ludwick down for 3 months. If this isn't Heisey's chance to prove you right, then I don't know what is.
Klaw (1:30 PM)
Agreed. Of course, if Dusty keeps having him bunt, it still won't matter.
I still cannot believe your projected win total for the Rockies...it literally blows my mind. Your assumption is that the pitchers and Tulo/Cargo's health will go South, or is there more to it?
Klaw (1:35 PM)
I'm glad someone asked about this, as it's been misunderstood around the interwebs and spawned some ridiculous comments about me hating the Rockies (as well as the usual name-calling nonsense). The main reason, in my mind, is that they are running out a rotation that's barely above replacement-level and that isn't likely to produce a lot of innings either, the kind of rotation that can lead to early overuse of a bullpen. (Not that the bullpen is a huge strength, either.) The offense should be better, but I couldn't forecast Tulo to play more than 110-120 games given his age and health history, and they're not likely to get much offense from second, third, first, or right. I recognize it's an outlier prediction, but if you asked me what team I thought had the greatest potential for a season that spiraled out of control, way under expectations, it would be the Rockies, for that reason (pitching) I cited above.
Do you have any thoughts on paying college players? Not sure how it would help/hurt college baseball and/or minor league baseball. I know most people disagree, but the current NCAA system just seems wrong. The L'ville bball player really shows the depth of the unfairness, and now Adidas is selling a shirt "Ri5e to the Occassion," for $25. Isn't this getting to the point of disgusting exploitation?
Klaw (1:36 PM)
Yes. Pay college players. Absolutely pay them. They generate revenues far in excess of what they receive in education. The NCAA is a legally accepted cartel.
Great recommendation on using bacon grease for pancakes. I tried it last weekend and the family agreed that they were the best I've ever made. Thanks! As far as sac bunting, how poor would a batter have to be before you'd consider sac bunting? Only worth it with most pitchers?
Klaw (1:37 PM)
Yes, a position player who hits like a pitcher - looking at you, Mr. Iglesias - would fit.
Derek (work) [via mobile]
So ummmm....North Korea.... You scared?
Klaw (1:39 PM)
This is basically Kim Jong Un's suicide note, right? If he does something stupid, the west could wipe him off the planet in a few hours, or days. I'm more disturbed by how much the US/UK seem to be overreacting to it, both because we're giving the guy the attention he wants, and because I worry what policy changes it'll be used to justify.
Ken (Palo Alto)
As a university professor, rather than having universities and colleges turn into professional explicit sports franchises, I would much rather see them get out of the business of running de facto minor leagues for professional sports altogether. Big time sports as business is nothing but a corrupting influence on colleges and universities.
Klaw (1:41 PM)
Would the sports be more or less corrupting if athletes were paid and these various transfers of money to and within the university were all transparent?
For Rockies fans: if you want to see what happens when a team fields a rotation full of guys who shouldn't be in the majors, take a look at the Cubs' post-deadline numbers last year. On days Samardzija or Travis Wood didn't start, it was pretty much 120 loss pace.
Klaw (1:42 PM)
This is what I fear. Nicasio and Garland are not good. De la Rosa's workload is unknown, probably low, and I heard from scouts he wasn't as sharp this spring as he was pre-surgery. Chacin I really like, but he's a bad fit for the ballpark and has had his own injury troubles. You could catch Jeff Francis' fastball with your teeth. All five of those guys have red flags. You only need two, maybe three of them to fail to meet expectations for things to go south very fast.
Klaw (1:43 PM)
By the way, I hope it's clear to everyone that I am not rooting for the Rockies to lose 109 games, or even 100 games. It's a prediction, not a wish.
"They generate revenues far in excess of what they receive in education."That is ridiculous. This chat probably generates more revenue than you get paid to do it. And I know you shouldn't be paid more for it.
Klaw (1:44 PM)
Chats don't generate much if any direct revenues. My compensation from ESPN is to some extent tied to the revenue I generate, though.
Ken (Palo Alto)
Not paying college athletes (in sports that generate revenue or serve as entry points into professional sports) is untenable, I agree. But marrying what is essentially a minor league system to what pretends to be an educational system is also morally untenable. Something has to give. I don't think, though, that turning student athletes into explicit professionals is the way to go.
Klaw (1:45 PM)
I appreciate the perspective. I don't think there is an easy answer to this. My personal ire is in seeing the enrichment of the NCAA and its institutions off the work of 18- to 21-year-old athletes who are effectively uncompensated.
Rutgers tolerated a coach that kicked players and used slurs to mock them. Coaching is supposed to be form of teaching, right?
Klaw (1:46 PM)
It sounds like the AD there may go down as well, which is good. You can't use that kind of language or engage in physical abuse of your charges at any level. And shame on Chipper Jones for defending that kind of behavior (which he did on Twitter yesterday). Was he unaware of the use of the bundle-of-sticks epithet? Is there EVER a situation where that word is acceptable? (Hint: No.)
Not sure if I ever heard your opinion on the miniscule raise that Trout got this year. Yes, the Angels were in their rights, but do you think they should have shown good will or do you think the starts get compensated enough later on that teams should take advantage of the "bargain" years where they have the control?
Klaw (1:47 PM)
That good will is worth nothing. He'll get his money in arbitration. Teams that have paid more to pre-arb players have not seen a return on that investment down the road.
Thoughts on Mark Cuban saying he'd give Brittany Griner a shot to make the Mavs?
Klaw (1:49 PM)
Did he say that? Good for him. I don't know basketball at all, so I can't say whether she'd be good enough, but there's no downside for Cuban in this.
Jason (St Louis)
The first year Albert Pujols was eligible the Cardinals gave him 900k in arbitration. The good will earned was zero.
Klaw (1:49 PM)
MLB used that example for years to tell other clubs not to do this.
What do you make of Yasiel Puig's torrid spring. Is he a Top 100 prospect in your eyes now?
Klaw (1:50 PM)
No player moved into the top 100 or out of it based just on spring training performances.
What were your thoughts on Ryu's start?
Klaw (1:51 PM)
Looked like the Giants were on his fastball and made a lot of hard contact. It's a plus changeup, and if that curveball ever shows up he can hang in there by pitching backwards and staying off the fastball more. But if he just lives and dies by the changeup and is working at 89-90 he's going to have a hard time turning lineups over three times.
One more thing about college sports, if you are proposing a free market system where athletes are free to negotiate and sign contracts with the school of their choosing, then fine. However, we should all recognize that this type of system would not come without a cost. Kevin Durant may be worth 10mil a year to UT. Most scholarship athletes, particularly in non revenue sports, are worth close to $0. Under the current system Durant subsidizes the $200k education that is given to those players.
Klaw (1:51 PM)
How is that fair to Durant?
who would you rather have: andrelton or xander?
Klaw (1:51 PM)
Xander. Far more bat.
As of right now, any chance Jonathon Gray falls to the Red Sox at #7?
Klaw (1:52 PM)
I don't think so. Not today, at least.
Kirk (Las Vegas)
What is the ceiling for Braden Shipley and what is the most reasonable expectation for him?
Klaw (1:53 PM)
Great athlete, chance for three plus pitches. If that's not a potential ace, it's pretty close. He doesn't have the command or the present breaking ball to be that, but that's his best-case scenario outlook.
As someone who is about to graduate college with in excess of $40,000 in student loans, I hardly think college athletes are "effectively uncompensated," when their education is fully paid for.
Klaw (1:53 PM)
Few of them get free rides - I think baseball has 11.7 scholarships per team, unless that's changed - and as another reader mentioned, a premier football or basketball player earns a lot more than $40K in revenues for his school.
Shame on Chipper? You can't shame someone for having an opinion formed from their own experience as a player. He never said he approved the epithet, he said he was dragged around a field by his facemask and he turned out alright. I'm not defending the Rutgers coach, as it was out of line, but it's refreshing to see players (like Chipper) actually have an opinion on something rather than be muzzled by their PR department for the same cliche interviews, tweets, quotes, etc. all the time. Chipper is far from perfect, but he is one of the most open in sports, so I do not believe shame is in order for expressing an opinion.
Klaw (1:54 PM)
The shame is not that he expressed the opinion. The shame is that the opinion itself was so atavistic.
What are your thoughts on the board game Power Grid?
Klaw (1:55 PM)
Love it. Wife says it's too depressing. Hayhurst and I are supposed to play it the next time we're in the same city.
What is behind your thought process behind which questions you use?
Klaw (1:56 PM)
I try to grab questions I can answer without a lot of research, and also to make sure I hit anything that's been a frequent question from readers on Twitter/Facebook/etc. (like the Rockies prediction). I generally don't grab overlong questions because it takes too long to read them and answer them.
John T (Eagan, MN)
No question, just a comment: one of my favorite things about this time of year is how some people (not you) will rightly note the small sample size when talking about surprises, but then disregard that same small sample size to confirm a bias or predection. Detroit blowing a save yesterday tells me as much about their bullpen as Kevin Correa only giving up two runs tells me about how he's going to picth for the rest of the year.
Klaw (1:56 PM)
Yes, although I did find it odd that Leyland used Coke there. I think Leyland thinks Coke is something he isn't.
Marc (SF Giants Fan)
How important is a catcher receiving and framing pitches? I use Hector Sanchez catching Lincecum as an example. Grantly, I'm not making an excure for Tim's 7 walks, but I feel like Sanchez lose a few strike calls for Tim because Sanchez is a poor framier of pitches. I've always maintained that with as wild of a pitcher as Lincecum has become that Posey should be catching him to better frame his pitches and hopefully steal some strikes on the corners. Thoughts??
Klaw (1:57 PM)
Research seems to indicate it's worth a lot, a few dozen runs a year for the best framers. I admit to personal incredulity at that, but then again, we've all seen the guys who stab and slap at the ball back there - and we know how awful umpires are at calling balls and strikes.
Short and sweet. Thoughts on Jose Fernandez?
Klaw (1:58 PM)
I don't think he's going to be a disaster - he's not ready, but he can do more than just survive with two plus pitches, and the body is mature. This isn't like Tyler Skaggs at 19-20 when he was still filling out.
Michael (Ft. Worth)
Been reading your writing for three years now, and today was the first time I had to reach for a thesaurus (atavistic). Turns out it's a perfectly cromulent word.
Klaw (1:58 PM)
I'm glad I could embiggen your vocabulary.
Arrested Development May 26!!, what's your objective outlook?
Klaw (1:58 PM)
I'm already stockpiling bananas.
Keith, have you heard anything about Gattis' defense (From a non Braves affiliated person) that would lead you to believe he could catch more now than you previously believed?
Klaw (1:59 PM)
I have not. Even scouts who liked him told me they thought he was a LF/DH type.
curious your take on MLB managers. Who do you rate the best?/worst? Also, favorite restaurant in Boston? For myself it's Coppa in the south end. If your ever in town give it a try.
Klaw (2:00 PM)
LOVE Coppa. Best meatball dish I have ever had. (Although the one at the Spence the other night, with squid-ink pasta, was a close second.) Best managers include Maddon, Johnson, Showalter, Francona. Worst ... Ron Washington might do less with more than any other manager in the game. He drives me up the wall. I also think Hurdle is near the bottom.
Amir Garrett says he's leaving St. John's and is going to focus on baseball for now. Is his future brighter on the mound or on the court?
Klaw (2:01 PM)
Mound. I understand he wasn't really an NBA prospect. At least a good reliever with a quick arm, saw him up to 94 last summer, great athlete of course.
not having any knowledge of prospects, what type of player are the red sox expected to land, with the #7 pick this year? any comparable players that you can relate to that pick? Thanks.
Klaw (2:02 PM)
Just looking at the crop, you've got 5-6 good college starters, the two outfield prospects in Georgia (Meadows over Frazier, for me), Kris Bryant (San Diego 3b, big power, might end up in RF), and Kohl Stewart (HS RHP). I don't think they'd pop Stewart at 7, but that's eight other guys they could potentially take up there, not counting guys I don't rate that highly who might go in that range, like Colin Moran.
Granted, but what kind of message is being sent to students (from an educational institution), when one is worth $10 million and another 0.
Klaw (2:03 PM)
That sounds like a message from the real world to me.
Out of curiosity...would you rank draft prospects and do mock drafts as part of your work for ESPN if you didn't have to? Do actual MLB teams do their own mock drafts? I've heard a number of different baseball writers who write about prospects who've different takes on it - some that it's useful, others that they wouldn't do it if they weren't asked to for whomever they're writing for. Just curious as to your take - not implying mock drafts and prospect rankings are good or bad.
Klaw (2:04 PM)
I rank things, as those of you who read my other blog, the dish, know. It's almost compulsive. The mocks are a ton of work, and if I were on my own I'd probably do fewer of them, but I recognize that that is something readers value very highly and that it's an essential part of the job.
I keep reading that Soler has below average batspeed, any truth to this?
Klaw (2:04 PM)
What on earth are you reading? Is it upside down?
Eduardo Nunez a league average regular?
Klaw (2:05 PM)
I don't see this at all, not at any position.
You meant Davey Johnson?
Klaw (2:05 PM)
In your opinion, do the Rays have good defensive talent or is their reputation of being a good defensive team based (mostly) on their shifting?
Klaw (2:06 PM)
They have a lot of defensive talent, and they shift well.
what did you not like in David Price as a draft prospect?
Klaw (2:06 PM)
I think I ranked him second in that draft, behind Wieters. That seems like a lot of "like" to me.
I think you may be underestimating the fact that Appel basically shorten his major league career by a year while also putting himself at risk of injury. The college season is just starting.
Klaw (2:07 PM)
That's just wrong. First of all, the college season entering its 8th weekend, I believe, so it's not "just starting." And I think this extra year of school just replaces a year, or maybe half a year, he would have spent in the minors. Whoever takes him in June could easily have him in their big league rotation in September.
Bill Simmons signed my book "I'm funnier than Law". How do you feel about that?
Klaw (2:08 PM)
I'd be honored by the comparison.
Klaw (2:09 PM)
That's all for this week - thanks for all the questions. I'll be at Irvine on Friday night and LMU on Saturday afternoon, scouting Andrew Thurman and Kris Bryant. I'll be back next Thursday.
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