Hi, everyone. I'll take a one-hour respite from writing about draft-eligible sophomores for Baseball America to take any questions you want to throw my way . . .
Assuming that Milton Bradley gets hurt sometime this season, can Micah Hoffpauir hit enough to hold down the fort?
I think Hoffpauir could hold his own with the bat and maybe even surprise some people. But playing him in right field would be a disaster defensively.
Is there anything to expect from Yankee relievers Johnathan Alabaldejo and Dave Robertson, or are they simply "4A" guys who just had a nice spring? Also any thoughts on Christian Garcia, his numbers suggest he could be a power bullpen arm with strikeout stuff?
I like Robertson a little more than that, but he's likely a seventh-inning guy at best. If Garcia can stay healthy, which he hasn't been able to, I bet he emerges as one of the best prospects in the Yankees system.
Does Daric Barton have a bright future ahead of him?
I've never been a big fan, though I thought he'd be better than he was as a rookie. He has a fine batting eye, but he's going to have to make hard contact more consistently and develop a lot more power to have a bright future.
Jim, several Yankee beat writers have commented on opposing scouts coming away impressed by SS's Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez. Both seem to have a superior glove but will either hit enough to play regularly in the majors?
Writers have to churn out a lot of stories in spring training, and often they make prospects sound, um, a lot better than they may actually be. Pena is the best defensive infielder in the Yankees system and Nunez is also a slick fielder, but both would have to show a lot more with the bat than they have so far to become regulars. I think it's fair to say they're being at least a little overhyped.
What's going on with Texas A&M? Still national title contenders?
Sure. The rotation of Brooks Raley, Barret Loux and Alex Wilson is still going to be very tough to beat in the NCAA playoffs, and the lineup should get better. They're 19-9, 6-3 in the Big 12, and that's not too shabby.
5.) After Stephen Strasburg, I think that there is a growing debate as to who is the next top college pitcher who is draft eligible. Most are going with Alex White, but do you see any chance at all that a guy like Kyle Gibson comes in and is the second college pitcher drafted?
Sure, Gibson could do that. A lot of it could come down to signability, too.
Jim, could I get your comments on Rick Porcello getting the nod as Detroit's #5 starter? I worry about this decision, as I'm currently getting Maybin flashbacks. He was their #1 prospect at the time of his callup as well, and you saw how that turned out. Would his self-esteem take a big hit if he got rocked in the show? Thanks.
I don't think Maybin was irreparably harmed, and I don't think Porcello will be either. If he gets knocked around, you send him down. Would I promote him? No, I'd send him to Double-A for at least a month. But a lot of jobs are on the line in Detroit, and Porcello is one of their five best starting pitching options, and they're trying to win, so I can understand it.
What is your take on Emilio Bonifacio? The Fish seem to like him a lot based on what they gave up in the trade and in demoting Gaby and dumping Dallas.
I'm not a big fan at all. He can run, but he has zero power and the Marlins will be giving up a lot of offense at the hot corner. Let's just say he's not going to provide a huge obstacle to Matt Dominguez down the road.
So, with Morrow closing... so much for Josh Fields being the "future closer" for the M's?
Well, no . . . just because Morrow is the closer now doesn't mean he'll be the closer for the next 10 years. I like Morrow more than Fields, but I bet Fields is closing games for the Mariners at some point. That rotation still looks very thin to me after Felix Hernandez, so who's to say they won't explore making Morrow a starter again at some point?
Brewers/Yankees trade, who says no? Mike Cameron for Ian Kennedy (and Brewers move Weeks to center)
Really? I have to take another silly Yankees trade question? Why would the Brewers give up a quality center fielder for a pitcher who has yet to show he can hack it in the majors?
Do you think Smoak with be a better offensive player over the course of his career than Chris Davis?
Yes, I do. And I like Chris Davis.
Spill it, Jimbo: Who's winning it all?
Red Sox over Cubs.
Does the acquisition of Koshansky alter the Rangers' plan for Smoak?
Not at all. That's more of a depth pick. I like Koshansky some, but he has looked bad in brief big league exposure. He's not as good as Smoak or Davis or Max Ramirez.
How rapidly does Logan Morrison rise through the Marlins system? Any chance we see him the the Big League team before September?
Probably not, with Jorge Cantu coming off a 29-homer season and Gaby Sanchez waiting in Triple-A. But Morrison will be clearly the best player of the three in the long run.
How would you rank the following prospects, based ONLY on hitting ability: like better as a hitter: Pedro Alvarez, Brett Wallace, Buster Posey, Mike Stanton, or Logan Morrison?
On hitting ability only (I assume we're talking about hitting for average AND power): Alvarez, Morrison, Wallace, Stanton, Posey.
When all's said and done, is it likely we've already seen the last pitch from Dontrelle Willis? I'm not happy that that's possibly true, but I'm thinking we have.
He'll pitch again. But I think it's likely we've already seen the last pitch from Dontrelle Willis as an effective pitcher.
Jim, do you see Strasburg's demands forcing him past the Nationals? Would he then make it past the Mariners?
I really don't. Scott Boras could ask for $50 million and make Sidd Finch comparisons, but I don't see how it would make sense for Strasburg to turn down a $15 million major league contract on Aug. 15. He'll break the record for a guarantee to a drafted player, but he won't quintuple it. The Nationals should just draft him and hold firm somewhere between $15 million and $20 million.
I hope Jeff Moorad can work some sort of illegal deal to steer Strasburg to San Diego at #3.
I wouldn't hold out hope. The Padres aren't exactly the richest franchise, and Moorad and Boras were never best friends.
What would stop a team like the Yankees or Mets from telling boras (we'll pay you $50 mil for Strasburg) and Boras telling everyone (I've got a $50 million guarantee from a team already)? If Strasburg was a free agent, he'd get that in a second.
I don't disagree that if Strasburg were a free agent, the bidding could go that high. But if I'm the Nationals, it doesn't matter if some other club promises Strasburg $50 million. If I pick him, I'm the only team he can negotiate with.
If Washington (or Seattle) holds the line and won't offer more than, say, $11-12 million to Strasburg, do you think he would remain in college for his senior season?
No. Too risky. I think at that point he'd go to independent ball, but even there it's a lot of risk. I can't see turning down $15 million. It also would delay his future big league free agency.
So, who are the best draft-eligible sophomores?
Thanks for paying attention . . . Tennessee OF Kentrail Davis, Louisiana State SS D.J. LeMahieu, Texas A&M LHP/OF Brooks Raley and South Carolina RHP Sam Dyson all could go in the first round under the right circumstances.
Do you think Mat Gamel can stick at 3rd, or will his defense be too bad? And if he can't stick, is he athletic enough to man a corner outfield spot, or is he stuck at 1st? Thanks.
I don't think he can stick at 3B. I bet he winds up in LF.
Where do you think Jay Cutler will end up?
It's hard not to love his arm or covet him if your team needs a QB. (As a Steelers fan, I'm not in that group). But man, he really comes off as a whiny baby to me. I have to question the makeup, not that the Broncos handled everything perfectly. I kind of hope they deal him to an awful team, but my guess (and it's uninformed) is the Jets.
Strasburg should have moved to a Latin American country last year, played a little pro ball, and then pounced on a truly free agent deal like Inoa, etc. What stops people from doing this? In Strasburg's case, we are talking a $30MM difference in money.
Well, he'd have to start by renouncing his American citizenship. You just can't decide you're Dominican overnight.
I've read multiple differing opinions with regard to Johnathan Sanchez. Some say he is a potential ace, while others think he should be a long reliever. Where do you stand?
Can I split the difference and say No. 3 starter?
Jim, I see a lot of columnists mention delaying free agency as the reason to sign quickly out of the draft. Isn't the whole point to getting the largest possible bonus out of the draft that most player, even the top picks, don't ever reach free agency. You get the guaranteed money when you can.
I disagree. If you're Stephen Strasburg, are you going into the negotiation from the perspective that you're not going to make it to big league free agency? Also, the point people seem to miss is that it's not like Strasburg becomes a free agent in 2010 if he doesn't sign this year. He'd just re-enter the draft.
What do you expect from Fukudome in CF in terms of defense? Also, at what point will you take a "show me" attitude towards this Cubs team and playoff baseball?
Average defense at best and a shaky bat. So I'm not buying him as the answer in center field. I haven't liked much of what the Cubs have done during the offseason, but they still look like the best team in the NL to me.
Considering strength of schedule, is Cal State Fullerton off to the best start you've seen in a long time in college baseball? They have already played currently ranked BA teams TCU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, San Diego State and ASU. The worst team on the schedule so far is easily Stanford.
I ran this by our college guru, Aaron Fitt, and this was his response:<br><br>Short answer: yes. Given the quality of competition and the fact they've won on the road, their start is extremely impressive. According to Boyd's World, Fullerton has the highest ISR of any team this late in the season, and the gap from 1-2 is higher than it's ever been.
Shaky bat? Haven't you heard? The 4 singles I got in the WBC helped my confidence. Count'em 4 singles....
And I didn't seem to see you get off the bench in the championship game . . .
Brett Gardner won the CF job in NY. My question is what type of player will he be? Are you familar with him at all? What kind of 'tools' does he have?
Gardner will help the Yankees' defense, because he has more center-field range than anyone else they have. He can run but I'm not sure he can hit enough to remain a regular on a good club. He has next to no power and pitchers have no reason not to challenge him.
What is Wieters' upside statistically? Is he a high average guy or a power guy?
Both. If he reaches his ceiling, he's Mike Piazza with better defense.
I doubt Bonafacio stays at 3B that long, I'm sure he takes over for Uggla next year. That being said, who's the Marlins' 2B in 3 years Bonafacio or Coughlan?
Coghlan, if Dan Uggla moves elsewhere.
Jim, to continue on the delaying free agency concept. I think Matt Bush, Bryan Bullington, Matt Anderson, Brien Taylor, etc. all thought they would reach free agency as well. I'm not saying they are at the same level as Strasburg, but don't you think all of these #1 overall picks wish they got the most possible money they could out of the draft since they never hit a big Major League pay day? At least I don't think any of them did in the majors.
They all did get the most money they could. Taylor tripled the bonus record, for instance. The draft limits a player's leverage, which is obvious. Holding out for $50 million and deciding not to sign for $15 million at the end would make no sense.
What do the Red Sox do with a guy like Bucholz? Let's say he's dominating at AAA and the Boston rotation stays healthy (and they get Smoltz back)...ok maybe it's unlikely that ALL those things would happen, but what would you do at that point? What would Theo do?
I think he'd move Tim Wakefield out of a spot in that scenario.
How do you follow college baseball so well? It's not as if you can watch 10 games on TV over a weekend.
I don't, at least not as much as I did when I was BA's college writer (among many other hats I wore) from 1989-97. The internet helps, as does being able to pick Aaron Fitt's brain, as does talking to scouts.
What would have happened if Strasburg dropped out of school before the year and played Independent League? Would have been subject to the draft or could he be a free agent?
Subject to the draft.
Better 2009 season....Beckett, Lester or Dice-k?
Tough one. My gut says Lester, though he has to deal with a big innings increase from 2007 to 2008.
Why are people whining about Strasburg not getting free agent market value? You see... there's this thing in place called a CBA. It's agreed upon by owners AND the players union and it's kinda important. What is it w/ people thinking that the rules shouldn't apply to everyone??? Drives me crazy!
I'm not sure a lot of people are whining about it. But FYI, the union never agreed to a draft, and it's not covered in the CBA. Baseball instituted a draft before the union existed.
How big of a concern is Aaron Crow's layoff? Who's a better fit at #2 him or Alex White?
Not a concern, really. He wouldn't have pitched much if at all last August, so he'll miss two months of minor league seasoning. He's still move fast and should be able to tune up just fine in indy ball before the draft. As mentioned earlier, there's no lock No. 2 pitcher behind Strasburg--Crow very well could go ahead of Alex White.
Is it safe to assume MLB has all these asinine ways for Strasburg to avoid the draft pretty much covered?
Let's put it this way. I'm sure MLB is trying to make sure that's the case. And I'm sure that Scott Boras feels that it's not the case.
Given Boras' contract demands, and the ridiculous uncertainty attached to drafting pitchers ... doesn't this situation absolutely SCREAM for changing the rules to allow teams to trade draft picks?
Well, no. If the rules allowed teams to trade draft picks, the team that drafted Strasburg would lose leverage. He could simply insist that he wanted to go to the rich team(s) of his choice.
D.J. LeMahieu > Grant Green?
No. I really like D.J. LeMahieu, but no.
Can you give me one good reason not to trade Salty for Bowden (if that could get it done)? A starting catcher is harder to field than a #1 pitcher.
Not sure the Rangers would do that. The Red Sox might.
More strikeouts in 2009, Meche or Greinke? Royals for real in 2009?
Greinke. And not quite yet. I seem to have forgotten about the lightning round during the barrage of Strasburg questions, so let's head there.
Will Wilmer Flores end up in the outfield?
It's not like Strasburg would have the option of turning down $15 million this year and then get his $50 million next year; he would be turning down $15 million this year to maybe get an extra million the next year, all while delaying his free agency (not to mention arbitration years) by a year. I think Boras cost Varitek millions of dollars by holding him out, as not only did he reach free agency a year later, he reached his second crack at free agency a year later too, which certainly hurt him this past offseason. The smart move for Strasburg is to negotiate hard, but eventually sign for the best deal he can get (similar to what Boras did for Dice-K).
Right now is Chipper Jones a Hall of Famer?
Who would you pick between Alex White and Aaron Crow?
I go back and forth on this one. Probably Crow.
Have you heard of a reason why Ryan Harvey wasn't tried as a pitcher before the Cubs released him?
He didn't want to pitch.
The Braves are picking uncharacteristically high in the draft. Which way do you think they go with that pick?
I bet they'd love Donavan Tate but he may not quite fall to them.
I hate to interrupt with a non-Strasbug, NY or BOS question, but... good move or bad: Dexter Fowler starting the season with the Rockies.
It's fine. He played well in Double-A and is their best option.
What happens to Chris Davis when Smoak takes over first base later this year or next season?
Better season 2009. Jordan Zimmerman, Rick Porcella or Luke Hochevar?
Bigger asset to the Jays this season - Snider or Lind? Cecil or Romero?
Which is higher for Sidney Ponson this season: Losses or LBS gained?
ETA of Holland? ETA of Feliz?
2009 for both.
I have to go grab some lunch and ponder some more draft-eligible sophomores. Treat Jerry Crasnick kindly . . .