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February 27, 11:59 AM ET
Chat with Scouts Inc.'s Keith Law

Keith Law
  (1:03 PM)

So, if Jim Bowden can be lousy at his job and blame the media, can I be lousy at my job and blame the GMs?

Norm, Lake Katrine, NY

I've been told that there are some owners for whom a lot of highly qualified GMs will refuse to work. Is that the situation in Washington?

Keith Law
  (1:05 PM)

I haven't heard that specifically about Washington. I've heard it about McLane in Houston, and it was true about Angelos at one point (although the dynamic between him and MacPhail appears to be hugely improved). I wonder if the Lerners understand to what degree their "friend" Bowden has created a reputation for them, at least among fans, as meddling owners.

Jon (DC)

Keith, if Jeter is a regular starter over Rollins at SS in the WBC, does it lose any credibility (if it had any)?

Keith Law
  (1:06 PM)

The WBC is a marketing event. Credibility was never a factor. And that's from someone who is very much in favor of the WBC - it's a good way to market the game outside of North America.

Drew (Ashburn, VA)

Keith, I'm glad to see Bowden finally out of DC. Who was worse him or Dave Littlefield?

Keith Law
  (1:07 PM)

Littlefield had a worse run as GM, but always handled himself professionally. Of course, if we're talking bad GMs, I can only say Randy Smith, FTW.

Tommy Hanson (Braves Rotation)

22nd round? Are you kidding me? More scouts and gms whiffed on me than "top" AFL hitters did on my tailing, mid-nineties fastball this winter. How did this happen?

Keith Law
  (1:08 PM)

Hindsight is awesome, isn't it? Guess what? First-year junior college right-handers with average fastballs don't go in the top few rounds. How about giving some credit to Tom Battista, the Atlanta scout who spotted him, and to the club for ponying up for him as a draft-and-follow when Hanson's velocity started creeping up the following spring? Or would that ruin your narrative?

Deann Milwaukee, WI

Keith, Does Lawrie's switch from catching to 2nd base affect the Brewer's plan with Hardy and Escobar? There were some rumblings about Escobar moving to 2nd and keeping Hardy at SS. Now, barring a trade does a infield of Hardy 3b, Escobar SS and Lawrie 2b seem almost certain?

Keith Law
  (1:10 PM)

Even if Lawrie can play 2b - and he wasn't good there as an amateur - he's far enough away that Hardy would likely be gone as a FA before Lawrie arrives. Plus Escobar isn't exactly a slam-dunk - he's got some serious personal issues.

jsm (dallas)

You must have seen Millwood yesterday. Did he look better than he has the last couple years? What do you expect from him this year?

Keith Law
  (1:10 PM)

No, he didn't look good at all. I wouldn't predict any improvement.

jsm (dallas)

Are you staying in Surprise to see Neftali Feliz? Will we see him in Arlington this year? Should we?

Keith Law
  (1:11 PM)

I'm going to see Leake tonight at ASU. I'll see Feliz later in the spring. I'd say it's better than 50% that he makes his debut at some point this year.

Philip Roth (Newark, NJ)

Keith, you know that I am the greatest American writer of the last 50 years, right.

Keith Law
  (1:12 PM)

Toni Morrison scoffs in your general direction.

Jeff (Los Altos, CA)

I believe you had Tim Lincecum pegged as a reliever. What changed (from your perspective) that allowed him to be successful as a starter?

Keith Law
  (1:14 PM)

He really struggled as an amateur to keep his delivery together and his fastball down deep into games. For the first 3-5 innings he'd be unbelievable, and then he'd gradually - very gradually - come apart. But the stuff was so good that his college performances would still be great. I don't know what changed for him personally - it's not like he suddenly muscled up - but he's better at keeping it all together past 70-80 pitches. Adding the third pitch (changeup) probably helped as well.

Stephen (East Greenbush, NY)

Man, it's good to have you back. Question: the NY Times had an article about a catching prospect on the Mets named Josh Thole. How does he look to you?

Keith Law
  (1:14 PM)

Very solid backup catcher. Not sold on him as a starter yet.

Graden (Seattle) [via mobile]

Hey KLaw! If you are drafting for the Mariners at 2, who do you take, assuming Strasburg is gone?

Keith Law
  (1:15 PM)

Right now I'd lean towards Alex White, but it's pretty early.

Ernie (Narragansett, RI)

I know I'm probably going to remember as soon as you answer it but, who was Randy Smith the GM of? What were some of the poor moves he made?

Keith Law
  (1:16 PM)

He wrecked two franchises - the Padres and the Tigers. That 2003 Detroit debacle - I'd say it's the worst team since 1900, and I doubt I'll ever see a worse big-league team - was largely his doing.

Dan (Buffalo, NY)

Klaw, here's a bit of shocking news...Adam Miller is hurt...again. When will the Indians cut the cord?

Keith Law
  (1:17 PM)

Why exactly would they "cut the cord" on him? I'm struggling to come up with an analogy that explains how dumb that would be. He's got a little inflammation in the finger on which he had surgery last year. Let's release him!

Shawn (Cleveland)

I'm sure you're bombarded with these, but who plays 3rd for the Yanks? Can Ransom do it, do they trade for someone? Jeter slide over?

Keith Law
  (1:18 PM)

I'm getting bombarded with them and I'm studiously ignoring them. The identity of a 30-game fill-in player is just not that interesting to me.

Tim (Durban South Africa)

What's your take on why Strasburg wasn't drafted out of high school? Any other comps for guys who have risen so quickly and prominently on a draft board in college?

Keith Law
  (1:20 PM)

He weighed something like 50-60 pounds more than he does now and there were serious questions about his maturity on the mound. And he wasn't exactly throwing 97+. David Price was a 17th-round pick out of high school - that was partly a function of signability, of course.

Joe (Miami, FL)

According to your prospect rankings, Brett Wallace is a better hitter than Justin Smoak, yet you have Wallace ranked lower. Is Wallace being penalized because he's trying to play 3B, which he'll probably play poorly? Since there are less difficult positions on the field to play than 3B, would you actually rank him higher if he was, say, stuck at 1B right now where he probably belongs?

Keith Law
  (1:22 PM)

I know where Smoak plays (1b) and how he plays it (very, very well). I don't know where Wallace will end up - if he's at first, how will he be defensively? We don't really know - and I've always downgraded players with major positional questions. That I ranked Wallace where I did is indicative of just how much I like his bat.

JW(nh)

Um, how about this analogy...dropping Miller now would be like holding stock in GM for the past 8 months, but today it went down 1% so you panic sold it.

Keith Law
  (1:23 PM)

That works, except I'm more optimistic about Miller's future than GM's.

Pat (Mesa, Az)

Well it's all over, why even bother play a single game let alone 162 games? Especially if you are in the NL west, after all the Dodgers are so much better than the rest. Please, is the gap between the Dodgers, the D-backs, and the Giants that big?

Keith Law
  (1:27 PM)

No, it's not that big. The idea that this bought the Dodgers the division is overblown and ignores Arizona's potential to have a real breakout offense this year. I'd say the Dodgers are the favorites, but by two or three games, which has to be within the margin of error.

Jeremy (NY)

So you're getting bombarded by a question and you refuse to answer it because it's of little interest to you? What about your readers?

Keith Law
  (1:28 PM)

I've been writing here for almost three years, and Jeremy (NY) still thinks I care about my readers. Innocence is so cute.

Mike (St. Louis)

Keith- Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the WBC all about getting the sport back into the Olympics?

Keith Law
  (1:27 PM)

I don't agree with that at all - it's about having an Olympic-like tournament where MLB has substantially more control and you don't end up with a situation like 2004 where the eight-team pool includes three teams from Europe and no U.S. Baseball's attempts to get back into the Olympics have been characterized as half-hearted - Shysterball wrote something on this last night, I think, where he linked to an article about softball's full-court press to get back in for 2016.

Nick (Boston)

Keith, is there anyone's opinion in baseball who you especially take into consideration? Like, if there any one person who, when he disagrees with you, you realize you might be wrong?

Keith Law
  (1:27 PM)

Many, many people. Evaluators, executives, etc.

Dan (Nutley, NJ)

Win total over/unders just came out. The Yankees is set at 97. Too high, right?

Keith Law
  (1:27 PM)

Yes.

bart (Boston, MA)

Anthony Rizzo (red sox) seems to be recovering from a bout with cancer. Is he a good major league prospect? If so, what is his upside and expected ML arrival time frame?

Keith Law
  (1:29 PM)

Yes, he's a good prospect, but I wouldn't read too much into any struggles he has this year. The first season back from cancer is often a disappointing one because the player is still suffering from fatigue. I wouldn't expect to see him in the majors before 2012.

Kevin (St. Paul, MN)

How do you see the Chinese baseball program progressing? Could they be a major power in baseball in 15-20 years?

Keith Law
  (1:30 PM)

I doubt it. There are several other non-traditional baseball countries that I think will be better sources of talent in 2020 than China.

Duffy (Queens, NY)

Seriously, Jeremy, KLaw is the House, M.D. of ESPN chatters: he abuses us and we love him for it. Now then, Keith, what's your recommendation to teams that have a stud signed long-term at a key defensive position (C, 2B, SS, CF), who suddenly find themselves with an apparent stud-to-be playing the same position in A ball? (Reyes/Flores on the Mets being an example.) Do you make the kid change position or say, "The future's the future," and leave everything be?

Keith Law
  (1:31 PM)

You leave everything be until you're forced to make a decision. For example, Flores is going to end up at third base, and the Mets are kind of set there as well, so you wait until Flores is closer to the majors; if at that point Wright is still one of the best players in the majors, you use Flores as trade bait.

Yossarian (Somewhere that there's war)

After reading about it on the Klaw chats (I think), I bought Catch-22. I'm excited to read it - haven't checked it out since my senior year in high school (8 years ago). Also, is it Klaw, KLaw, or K-Law?

Keith Law
  (1:32 PM)

It's always been "Klaw."

jsm (dallas)

Sounds like Holland was a bit spotty yesterday from your blog entry. How far away from MLB is he in your opinion? What's his ceiling?

Keith Law
  (1:33 PM)

That's about right. He could debut this year, but if his command isn't as good as it was in the past, 2010 would be more realistic.

Matt (Cleveland, O.)

I was looking through Facebook groups the other day. What happened in Lexington, KY?

Keith Law
  (1:33 PM)

That's Ben Revere's high school - I identified him as the worst pick in the '07 first round (not that I was alone - he got by far the smallest bonus in that round).

Ben (Tempe, AZ)

What are Escobar's personal problems? I haven't heard anything about this!

Keith Law
  (1:35 PM)

He has abandoned his wife and infant daughter, gotten another woman in Venezuela pregnant, gotten in a car accident in Venezuela this winter (he was driving, his mistress was in the car), and so on. The Brewers have refused to comment, saying that it's a personal matter for the player (true), so bear in mind that what I'm getting is largely coming from Escobar's wife.

Keith Law
  (1:36 PM)

(Corrected - the "other woman" is in Venezuela.)

Donal: Waltham, Ma

I know your local. Russo's fan?

Keith Law
  (1:36 PM)

Great produce selection, great prices, inconsistent quality.

Jeff (Los Angeles)

According to Baseball Prospectus the Dodgers were picked to win 85 games before Manny, while the Diamondbacks were at 90-91 wins. With Manny, the Dodgers are now 89 wins and the D'backs dropped down to 88. Sound about right to you? Manny increases the Dodgers by 4 games and it costs the D'backs a game or two.

Keith Law
  (1:37 PM)

And they're one apart. Sure, I buy that.

bill (san diego)

KLaw, This is not a $5 question... Would there have been any advantage $$ wise or free agent/abitration yr wise to the Giants if they had limited Sandoval's AB to less than his 145 or The Mets w/ Murphy 131?? What are your predictions for both? Thanks!

Keith Law
  (1:38 PM)

No advantage at all. Murphy looks like a very good platoon player in an outfield corner, but if he shows he can hit LHP he'll be an above-average regular because of his eye. Sandoval can really hit, but he's almost certainly going to end up at first base.

Chris (Philly, PA)

Hi Keith, With all the injuries at the position is there any chance that Wallace could win the Cards 3B job out of camp? If so what kind of numbers could he be expected to put up?

Keith Law
  (1:40 PM)

I've been told he has a legitimate chance to win it. If they're looking at Mather, they're willing to consider negative defensive value, and at that point Wallace makes sense.

J (NYC)

Wasn't Klaw the bad guy on Inspector Gadget?

Keith Law
  (1:40 PM)

That was Dr. Klaw. Distant relative.

Ian (Keyser, WI)

Can Escobar hit enough to be a regular anyway? Seems to have 0 power and is allergic to a walk. Can he really ever develop into any kind of hitter?

Keith Law
  (1:40 PM)

Defense is good enough that he'll be a regular. High-contact, low-power guy, can run, should hit for average.

Ryan (Pittsburgh)

Klaw it seems like every year more teams switch spring training to Arizona. Why is that? And do you think eventually everyone might switch? After all, at some point the Florida teams won't have enough opponents to play if too many go to Arizona.

Keith Law
  (1:43 PM)

Teams that lose money on spring training move; those that rake it in, like the Yanks, Red Sox, and Phillies, won't move until someone threatens to turn out the lights. Arizona also offers much shorter travel times between games, which is good for players and execs but not really a great reason to move. I'd guess that Houston, Toronto, and Washington would all be candidates to move eventually - but we'll probably see a lull in moves because the appetite for publicly-funded stadia in Arizona is gone, for now.

Mike (st. Louis)

For Ian- That?s really unfair to him,? said La Russa. ?He doesn?t have a chance to make our club. He never had a chance to make our club as a third baseman.? Wallace has 0% chance of making the Cards.

Keith Law
  (1:44 PM)

Sorry, not what I've heard at all.

Sam (Pelham)

What would you say is the worst contract in baseball right now?

Keith Law
  (1:44 PM)

Jose Guillen?

Dan (buffalo, NY)

I forgot about Miller's unbelievable track record when it comes to staying healthy. What was I thinking? Keep paying the man to do nothing but play 1/3 of the minor league season before being shelved for the season.

Keith Law
  (1:45 PM)

The Phillies paid Cole Hamels to "do nothing but play 1/3 of the minor league season before being shelved" in 2004 and 2005. That worked out OK.

Chris (Milwaukee)

What type of free agent was Cruz? Was it worth it for the Royals to give up a pick to get him for 2 years?

Keith Law
  (1:46 PM)

Type A. They gave up their second-round pick ... I wouldn't have done it. What's Cruz worth to them - a win? Maybe it would have made sense if they were already an 85-win team on paper, but not now.

Daniel (San Diego)

Have you had a chance to see any of the young players in camp with the Padres? (Latos, Blanks, Huffman, Cabrera)

Keith Law
  (1:46 PM)

I've actually been in Arizona for about 36 hours and have only been to the game I wrote about yesterday.

Jay (LA)

Has to be Barry Zito. Carlos Silva.

Keith Law
  (1:47 PM)

Yep, both good calls. Guillen combines uselessness with idiocy, though. That's superspecial.

John, Maryland Heights MO

Keith, If they redid the Hall of Fame from scratch, who would you say should be the first 10 inductees?

Keith Law
  (1:49 PM)

Top of my head? Ruth, Williams, Dimaggio, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Lefty Grove, Mantle, Hornsby, Rickey ... wow, ran out of spots quickly. Probably Spahn, although it kills me to leave out Mathewson.

Bryan- MA

What would be the all-time worst contract? Dreifort

Keith Law
  (1:49 PM)

Yes, absolutely.

Jack (Toronto)

Klaw, how do you think Jesse Litsch will do taking over the #2 spot behind Doc? Continue to progress and get the benefit from the additional starts or has he pretty much reached his potential?

Keith Law
  (1:49 PM)

Huge regression candidate.

Dan (Simsbury, Ct)

"Keep paying the man to do nothing but play 1/3 of the minor league season" - I don't think Adam Miller's salary (is it > $150k?) is going to force the Indians ownership to rethink the giveaways at Fan Appreciation Day anytime soon. Seems like a no-brainer, low-cost, high-potential investment to me.

Keith Law
  (1:50 PM)

Especially for a power arm. Guys like that always have value - Kyle Farnsworth keeps getting work, doesn't he?

Dave, Petaluma, CA

You've probably already caught the omission, but I don't think you can leave out Ty Cobb.

Keith Law
  (1:51 PM)

Have to leave some guys out if the limit is 10, right? I had him, then deleted him.

Brendan-Boston

How does Pedroia consistently hit baseballs so hard with that swing? Is his hand/eye coordination that much better that other major leaguers who, one would think, also have elite hand/eye coordination. His swing looks like my fourth grade whiffle ball swing.

Keith Law
  (1:52 PM)

Tremendous hand-eye coordination which leads to a knack for fouling off pitches he can't hit. But yeah, I wasn't on Pedroia at all when he was a prospect, and I wouldn't be on a similar guy coming out of college now. He's a freak.

DanC (Madison)

Does Gamel have any hope of playing any position half way decent ever?

Keith Law
  (1:52 PM)

Maybe first base. Not third, though.

matt (cleveland)

No Honus in your top 10? Off the top of your head or not.....

Keith Law
  (1:54 PM)

Actually, of all the omissions people are writing (Mays, Musial, Gehrig), that's the one that bothers me. I'd have him in there over Dimaggio. Wagner was probably the best player of the racist era.

Nick

M. Wieters, Justin Upton, or Jay Bruce?

Keith Law
  (1:54 PM)

Upton, Wieters, Bruce.

Eric (NY,NY)

Hey Keith, I am heading to the MIT sports business conference this weekend and was wondering if you'll be there. Either way, I'm pretty sure you've been before so I wanted to know what you think of it. Thanks!

Keith Law
  (1:54 PM)

Will not be there and have never attended.

Rob (Toronto)

What do you think of the idea of moving Wells to LF and playing Rios in CF and Snider in RF. Lind being the DH.

Keith Law
  (1:55 PM)

I just suggested that to someone last week in Texas. It's a better defensive alignment, since Wells has slipped, and it gives Wells a better chance to keep his legs healthy.

Lungfish (Edison, NJ)

Have you read "Odd Man Out" by former Angel's farmhand, Matt McCarthy?

Keith Law
  (1:56 PM)

I'm going to wait for the edited, fact-checked version, which I imagine will run between 15 and 20 pages.

Charlie (Bethesda, MD)

Great question - you could easily make an argument for 10 more guys that belong over MOST of the players you named, other than Ruth. How about Cobb, Honus Wagner, Gehrig, Musial, Keeler, Greenberg, Robinson, Feller, Ford, and Mays. That was fun, let's start it over!

Keith Law
  (1:56 PM)

If you asked me again in three months I would probably give you five of the same names and five new ones.

Kevin (Evanston, IL)

Wagner > Ruth? Really?

Keith Law
  (1:57 PM)

Craig Wright had an essay on this in The Diamond Appraised. Made a good case.

Wil (buffalo)

As a beer lover, do you try to pair your beer with the food you're eating or do you drink whatever you like best on hand?

Keith Law
  (1:57 PM)

The latter. Good beer goes with all food.

Drew (Atlanta)

Seems like Wieters has a higher ceiling than Upton since he is a catcher, but Upton has a higher probability since he's shown ability in the majors? Do you have any rule of thumb for weighting ceiling versus probability?

Keith Law
  (1:58 PM)

Upton is 15 months younger and already performing in the majors. There's something to that.

James (Baltimore)

It seems like the really fun task would be figuring out the smallest of the small Halls. How many would you have in it? 30?

Keith Law
  (1:58 PM)

You might be able to do it in 25. I'm pretty sure anything under that would be absurd.

Jeff (Los Angeles, CA)

Keith, do you think the current Pirates regime is doing a better job than Littlefield? I still see a team that didn't sign its 2nd round draft pick and had issues with its 1st round pick. A GM (and Coonelly) handing out multi-year contracts to players after career years (McLouth, Maholm), very similar to the problems inherited with Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson. Finally an organization that is obviously nowhere near contention, but is handing starting positions to players like Craig Monroe and Jason Michaels instead of just letting younger players like Brandon Moss and Steven Pearce play.

Keith Law
  (2:00 PM)

The 2nd-round pick last year was a potential top-10 pick who got hurt, and when they worked him out in August he wasn't healthy enough to give him the money he wanted. I don't worry about that. I do worry that Alvarez was a statement signing - I said at the time that I liked Smoak and Hosmer better, and the subsequent silliness around Alvarez does justify that a little. The multi-year deals for McLouth and Maholm aren't awful, but they don't push the franchise forward. You want better players than those guys at the heart of your roster.

Adam (Spokane, WA)

Hello Keith! I'm curious as to your thoughts on Greg Halman's upside. If he can show real improvement in plate discipline this season, does he move into Top-30 territory as a prospect?

Keith Law
  (2:01 PM)

It's not plate discipline - it's lack of recognition of breaking balls. That's a bigger problem. He has top-30 ability, but then again, so does Engel Beltre.

Dan (Simsbury, Ct)

I know he's not eligible yet, but assuming that he was, Bonds makes your initial 10, right? (Cue the agitated masses.)

Keith Law
  (2:02 PM)

Bonds and Maddux would both at least get consideration for the first ten, Maddux more likely than Bonds. Both would be in a top 20 for certain.

Mike (Chicago)

Thoughts on Jordan Zimmerman?

Keith Law
  (2:05 PM)

Talked to an exec who saw him this spring and said he was electric. It sounds like in short stints his stuff is really playing up. Why not put him in the Opening Day rotation? His command and feel are already good, and I'd rather watch him than Odalis Per ... oh, never mind.

Jeff (KCMO) [via mobile]

Klaw, if Hochevar had been #15 overall, would his warts look less dramatic? Deric Ladnier was fired becuase of choices like this.

Keith Law
  (2:04 PM)

Yes, I think his status as a #1 overall pick has colored the perception of him. He's more of a sandwich/second round talent now (looking backward) than a top-10 guy.

Chris (Dallas, TX)

Worst contract in baseball = Dontrelle Willis. No debate.

Keith Law
  (2:07 PM)

That's a good point. He got that extension after the bottom had dropped out; he just hadn't quite realized it yet, like Looney Tunes characters who are standing on air after walking off the edge of a cliff but haven't fallen yet.

Brett (NZ)

So it safe to say that Toni Morrison is your favorite American writer of the past 50 years? Who else makes the list?

Keith Law
  (2:07 PM)

McCarthy, Russo, Vonnegut, Bradbury, and honorable mentions for one-hit wonders Lee and Toole.

Keith Law
  (2:09 PM)

OK, I'm off - not sure when the next chat will be but I'll make the usual round of announcements when we schedule one. Thanks!