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August 18, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Keith Law

Keith Law
  (3:02 PM)

Strasburg signed. Sun rose in east. How many electrons and how much ink was wasted arguing that he wasn't going to sign, that talks weren't going well, that his demands were outrageous ... seriously, next year, can you all help me tell the world to put a sock in it when Bryce Harper hasn't signed by June 23rd? Thanks. I appreciate it.

Mike (Minnesota)

Be honest with the chatters: how annoying is it to do these promos on TV and radio when people don't know what they're talking about and said to you all the time "it looks like Strasburg isn't going to sign", despite what you were saying to those same people the last three months?

Keith Law
  (3:03 PM)

By the end of the signing season, those questions annoyed my face off.

Ryan (SLC)

Couldn't the Nationals have just traded the rights to Strasburg? Picked up a bunch of prospects and maybe an impact player?

Keith Law
  (3:03 PM)

No, they couldn't have, seeing how this is baseball and you can't trade draft picks or the rights to players you picked.

Blue Jays scouting department (The Ledge, CN Tower)

Would you suggest resignation, seppuku, or drinking ourselves to death? And would you describe yesterday's failing to sign three top picks a fiasco or an unmitigated disaster?

Keith Law
  (3:04 PM)

Hold on, I'm not ready for that line of questioning yet ...

Joe (NJ)

Will the Nats have Strasburg pitch at any level this season?

Keith Law
  (3:05 PM)

Based just on what I read this morning, I don't think so. I'm not sure why the sudden aversion to throwing him a little at season's end. I'm sure the non-baseball departments in Washington are begging for it. Don't you think Strasburg's debut would sell the place out? That's real money, which can then be used to sign real players.

James (Milwaukee)

Kenshin Kawakami got 3 years 23 million last off season Strasburg gets 15.1 how fair is that?

Keith Law
  (3:06 PM)

It's incredibly unfair to Strasburg. I doubt there's a team in baseball that would rather have Kawakami over the next three years than Strasburg.

Steven (California)

Are you surprised that the Dodgers were able to sign Garrett Gould? They might have gotten a steal by getting him in the second round.

Keith Law
  (3:07 PM)

Steal would be a stretch. Good pick, kind of a favorite of mine since last summer, but he wasn't a first-round talent for me.

Chris (Alabama)

With Heyward's dominance of AA and his age and the fact that a hitter's future is somewhat more reliable than a pitcher's, would you go against the grain and pick Heyward as the better prospect over Strasburg?

Keith Law
  (3:07 PM)

Yes. Is that really against the grain? Ceteris paribus I'd go hitter over pitcher anyway.

Tom (Mill Valley, CA)

Isn't the hype on Strasburger becoming just a bit over the top? "Most coveted prospect in the history of the amateur draft"? And isn't the immediate comparison--Mark Prior--a real warning about how likely it is that this deal really translates into a WS victory in our nation's capital?

Keith Law
  (3:09 PM)

He was probably the best pitching prospect in the history of the draft. And there is no comparison between him and Prior - Strasburg throws harder and had much better results in college. I didn't realize the standard for judging the signing of a single amateur player was whether or not it led to a World Series victory, though.

Keith Law
  (3:11 PM)

By the way, before we depart from NatsChat, the guy who got away from them is Miguel Pena.

mike (Chicago)

Klaw is this whole chat gonna be about Strasburger or can we get to some of the others?

Keith Law
  (3:11 PM)

I'm waiting until you leave. Then I'll talk about others.

Bill (Toronto)

Real money? Like the kind the Jays bragged about saving in the Rios move and assured everyone would be reinvested? I'm really at my wits end with this team.

Keith Law
  (3:12 PM)

We're getting there ... just building up a head of steam here...

Rytor (CT)

How much of a loss is it for Tampa Bay being unable to sign their first-round pick Washington?

Keith Law
  (3:13 PM)

I'd say the bigger loss is the opportunity cost of the pick (they could have taken someone better who would have signed) than the loss of not having Levon Washington, whose shoulder injury/surgery is still reason for concern and justifiably depressed what Tampa Bay was willing to offer. Not signing your first-rounder is never good, but my complaint is more with the pick than with the non-signing.

Dan (Tampa)

The O's had us convinced on Mychal Givens...good move for $800k?

Keith Law
  (3:14 PM)

Apparently he came back to the table after the O's thought it was over ... good signing, although I still see him as a RHP instead of a hitter.

Alex (Missouri)

Can the Cardinals Shelby Miller actually be a 1-2 starter? There was a lot of discussion here that he would never be signed anyways

Keith Law
  (3:15 PM)

Potential #1 starter, yes.

Lenny (Villanova, PA)

Damien Magnifico did not sign with the Mets. Any great loss or was he asking for too much?

Keith Law
  (3:15 PM)

He needed to go to college. Not a fan of that pick (5th round) - too high for someone so raw.

ben (boston)

Keith, Does Washingon retain rights over Strasburg after the 4 years are up? Do they have arbitration rights?

Keith Law
  (3:16 PM)

Yes, I'm going to get this question a million times this week. The four-year deal just means that his salary is determined for 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. It doesn't affect his service time and thus doesn't affect when he reaches free agency. If he spends 2010-12 in the majors, his deal will expire and he'll be eligible for arbitration.

Dave (Colorado Springs)

Klaw,What is the advantage/disadvantage to a major league deal? Strasburg major league, Matzek not.

Keith Law
  (3:18 PM)

A major league deal puts a player on the 40-man roster. For the club, it means that they've got one less roster spot to play with each year, and the player may run out of options after his fourth (or fifth) year in pro ball. This is a much bigger problem for a high school player than it is for a polished college player. Matzek was the best HS prospect in this draft, but if he needs 4-5 years in the minors, would it be a shock? Strasburg, on the other hand, is major-league ready now, and if the Nats even have to use two options on him I'd be surprised.

John T (Eagan, MN)

Of the college pitchers, No. 8 pick Leake signed for $2.27, no. 10 pick Storen signed for $1.6, No. 15 pick White for $2.25 - how much does No. 12 Aaron Crow still think he's going to get?

Keith Law
  (3:20 PM)

If I'm Kansas City there is no way on God's green earth I offer him more than $2 million. Anything over that is money down a toilet. I had Crow ranked a little ahead of those guys because he was closer to the majors, but given his layoff this year, I'm not sure he's closer than Leake is, and Crow's leverage keeps diminishing. Those negotiations have been very poorly handled. Heck, Jim Bowden's reputation is actually getting a boost!

Zach (Brookeville, MD)

Thoughts on the Orioles Draft? Wouldn't it have been better to reallocate the money they spent on later round talent (Berry and Coffey) and instead chosen and signed Matzek over Hobgood?

Keith Law
  (3:21 PM)

I would have done that, certainly. I understand the Orioles had makeup concerns on Matzek.

Ryan (Pittsburgh)

You know what I like about baseball? No Brett Favre.

Keith Law
  (3:23 PM)

Agreed. Do the Vikings play the Eagles? Attention (Harlot) vs Dog Killer. Could we arrange it so both teams lose that game?

Kim (Easton, MD)

Do people in the business fear that MLBPA will sell out the rights of amateurs and give the MLB a hard cap in the draft by pool or pick? I think they might if it could be turned around into loosening super 2 classification or cutting restricted ownership from 6 to 5 years.

Keith Law
  (3:24 PM)

There's some concern on the agents' side, but I think it stems more from uncertainty. No one knows right now what the union's stance would be. I agree with you that the union is unlikely to give in to draft slotting unless they are getting a major concession in return.

Paul H. (Chelmsford, MA)

Since I'm a Sox fan, I'm greedy. What are they missing out on by not signing Branden Kline? Were they ever close?

Keith Law
  (3:25 PM)

Never close. He said all spring he was going to UVA. How good is that program right now? Full of prospects and tough to sign kids away from.

Mike (NYC)

Do you think there is a significant chance Gordon Beckham is moved to 2nd base? It seems like his bat profiles better there than at 3rd.

Keith Law
  (3:25 PM)

He has to end up in the middle infield. I still want to see him at shortstop in the majors.

Mike (San Diego)

Am I allowed to be encouraged as a Padres fan? They now seem to have the makings of a legit outfield in their system, plus Gonzalez, Latos and Cabrera.

Keith Law
  (3:26 PM)

It was a good day for them, although I don't rate Tate/Williams as highly as they do.

mymrbig (New Orleans)

As much as people seem to think baseball amateurs make in the draft, has anyone looked at what the top college football players are making? Lots of Strasburg's running around in that sport.

Keith Law
  (3:27 PM)

Media/fan outrage over draft bonuses in baseball, compared to their lack of outrage over the same in football, mirrors media/fan outrage over steroid usage in baseball, compared to their lack of outrage over the same in football.

Eric (Denver)

What do you think of Max Stassi? Can he stay behind the plate? Does he have the bat to play elsewhere?

Keith Law
  (3:27 PM)

Very high on him. Yes. Probably, but it's not certain.

Toronto Fan (Toronto)

Hey Keith, Im a late sleeper and just woke up. I haven't had a chance to see which of our draft picks we signed. Im sure since we dumped Rios' salary we signed all of our picks, but I will go check anyway, be right back..........What the *

Keith Law
  (3:27 PM)

Almost ...

mike (brookline)

Can Mat Purke opt to not attend any college and continue to negotiate with the Rangers?

Keith Law
  (3:28 PM)

No. He's done for this year. He could attend a JC and re-enter next year's draft, but he'll be draft-eligible as a sophomore because of his age (he's actually 44) in 2011. The Rangers get a compensatory pick next year immediately after the 14th pick.

Randy (Colorado)

Does Bryce Harper get a deal close to Strasburg's?

Keith Law
  (3:29 PM)

Good question, but I'm guessing no. I think Harper's benchmark is Tate's deal - he has to get comfortably above Tate's the way Strasburg got comfortably above Prior's.

Scott (AR)

Lets talk next year's draft... What do you think of Zack Cox?

Keith Law
  (3:31 PM)

Best prospect on the Cape this summer for me. He is, however, sophomore-eligible, so he does have a little extra leverage, and has to show better plate discipline in the spring to establish himself as a top-ten guy.

Keith Law
  (3:34 PM)

(The question here was: "Bleakest story? "The Road" by McCarthy or the Blue Jays by Ricciardi?") Winner! I don't think it's controversial to say they had the worst draft this year. They didn't sign three of their top five picks and I don't see where they made up for it afterwards. (Yes, they spent a little on Webb and Hutchison, but Webb was awful this spring, I had a cross-checker threaten bodily harm if he ever saw Webb on a top 100 list of mine for this draft.) They never made a serious run at Barrett and they didn't sign Eliopoulos over a fairly trivial (in my opinion) amount of money. I still have plenty of friends in that organization and I'm sure I'll catch hell from them now, but I can't justify their strategy in this draft.

Bill (Toronto)

While we're looking forward to next year, the Jays should have 4 first round or sandwich picks after they let Scutaro walk to go along with other 3-5 picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. How many of those picks won't they sign?

Keith Law
  (3:34 PM)

Keep 'em coming...

Andy (Fairless Hills)

Any truth to the rumor that Levon Washington is academically ineligible to attend college? If so what a horrible mistake not to sign with the Rays.....

Keith Law
  (3:35 PM)

Yes, that appears to be true. He'll go to a JC and re-enter the draft next year; if he can show his shoulder is recovered he does have a chance to go in the first round again, but as you said, there's some downside risk there too. With him, Pena, maybe Eliopoulos, and Harper, we might have a bumper crop of JC guys for day one.

Jason (St Louis)

Who is coming in the 2011 draft that makes is so desirable? If those players are so good how come more didn't sign out of high school?

Keith Law
  (3:36 PM)

Many turned down multi-million dollar offers, like Sonny Gray and Alex Meyer, or just million-dollar offers like Danny Hultzen. Jack Armstrong just flat-out got better - Vandy's coaching staff worked wonders with him in one year. And so on. Why question it? Look forward to it. It should be a fun one.

Karl (Pittsboro, NY)

Strong recommendation to read "Darkness At Noon" by Arthur Koestler. MUCH better than I thought it would be. Ever read?

Keith Law
  (3:37 PM)

Last March. Didn't really care for it.

John (CT)

Maybe besides the Jays, did the Braves have the worst draft? Minor is a bleh pick at 7, no 2nd rounder, Hale from the 3rd seems to be a reliever at best. Reassure me and say it wasn't the 2nd worst.

Keith Law
  (3:38 PM)

I haven't sat down to really think through a five best and any worsts besides Toronto, but top of my head I'd probably put Texas and the Mets (and the Jays) below the Braves. The Mets ... did they hold a bake sale to fund their draft this year? Maybe I should have sent some cupcakes.

Kyle (Austin)

So by not signing Purke did the Rangers blow their draft? Why would a pitcher want to attend Rice anyway if they want a MLB career?

Keith Law
  (3:40 PM)

Purke's going to TCU. Jameson Taillon, the best HS pitcher in the 2010 class, is going to Rice, so his choice will be pro ball or a good education while he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Eric (KC)

KLaw, did you throw out a Tripods reference in your last chat!?!?!?

Keith Law
  (3:40 PM)

I did. I was kind of disappointed no one caught it. We read those books in English class in sixth grade.

Matt (Chicago)

Without time to analyze, what's your knee-jerk opinion on the team that had the best draft, and why?

Keith Law
  (3:44 PM)

Teams whose drafts I really liked, now that we saw who signed: Detroit, Boston, the Dodgers (considering the lack of a first-round pick), Arizona, Colorado (basically the first 4-5 picks), Oakland ... I may have forgotten someone.

Aron (STL)

Klaw thanks for your time! So is Shelby Miller now vaulted up to the number 1 on the Cardinal's Depleted Prospect list?

Keith Law
  (3:45 PM)

Not over Daryl Jones.

Steve (Cleveland)

Since Grant took over as director of amatuer scouting the Idians have drafted Chisenhall and White in the first round, and I can't believe I'm about to ask this but, are the Indians starting to draft well?Also does Hell now need snowplows?

Keith Law
  (3:46 PM)

I didn't love the Chisenhall pick at the time, but I saw him this spring, and I was way off on him. He's going to hit. White concerns me a little with the heavily reliance on the splitter and lack of a good breaking ball.

mymrbig (New Orleans)

Since you have some insider perspective, how fungible is a team's draft budget? Can the front office shift money from one area to another, particularly if they shed some major league salary after the draft, but before the signing deadline? Do they need ownwership approval for that sort of thing?

Keith Law
  (3:48 PM)

Money is money. The idea that a team has a fixed "draft budget" is absurd ... honestly, if I was a GM, and ownership tried to micromanage my budget, I'd write my letter of resignation. Give me my annual budget for player salaries and bonuses and trust me and my staff to parcel out it in the most efficient manner. The one thing that typically does need ownership approval is ignoring the Commissioner's Office's recommended bonus figures.

Brian (NJ)

Who is your prediction to be the 2nd fastest guy to make it to the Majors (after Strausberg).

Keith Law
  (3:48 PM)

Storen's got a head start on everyone.

micah (detroit)

How solid a prospect is Daniel Fields for the Tigers... is he top 5? top 10 organizationally now?

Keith Law
  (3:49 PM)

He's interesting, probably would have been in the next 20-25 guys if I'd ranked more than 100, and if he can stay at shortstop then he should have been in my top 100. Good bat speed, pretty short to the ball, some power potential, good arm made faster by really quick transfers. Raw baseball skills, probably because of where he's from.

JZirinsky (Washington, DC)

Keith: How did the Yankees do in this year's draft?

Keith Law
  (3:51 PM)

Solid. I do think most of the value of the draft is in Heathcott/Murphy. Cotham's interesting, heard very mixed reports on him all spring before he hurt his knee, but too many scouts told me "generic college starter" for me to get excited just yet.

Peter (Jupiter)

What MLB pitchers make you take a step back from your duties as a scout and just smile in the face of their awesomeness?

Keith Law
  (3:52 PM)

Verlander comes to mind, since I just saw him. Matusz is extremely fun to watch. I always loved watching Maddux up until his last year or two. I like all kinds - power guys, extreme command guys, guys with great offspeed pitches, etc.

Wayne (MA)

Whose your top 5 picks for 2010?

Keith Law
  (3:58 PM)

First tier is Harper, Ranaudo, Taillon, Josh Sale, Brentz Castellanos ... next tier is probably Paxton, Bryant, Cox, Gibbs, O'Conner, Workman, Parker, Whitson, AJ Cole. Maybe Grandal there, although he hasn't quite played up to expectations this summer. Grimm

jeff (boston, ma)

so what exactly is your problem with redbones? And if you're not going to get BBQ in the greater boston area there where do you go?

Keith Law
  (3:59 PM)

It's just not great Q. Everything I've had there is overcooked (oversmoked). There is no great Q in Boston.

Alan (St. Pete)

Has Tim Beckham fallen down your prospect list? He's having a pretty mediocre season; any reason for concern?

Keith Law
  (4:00 PM)

Talked to a scout two days ago who saw T-Beckham this month and crushed him, said there were probably 20 better guys in the '08 draft than him. (This is a scout who does amateur and pro stuff.) And yes, the performance hasn't met expectations, but given his age I'd give him at least another full year of slack.

Randall (Houston, TX)

I guess the draft isn't "broken." The worst 3 teams got the 3 best players (assuming SD thought Tate was 3rd best... obviously not a signability pick). How about fewer articles from your co-workers about the draft being broken and more about it constraining values.

Keith Law
  (4:02 PM)

I don't get the calls to "fix the draft." How is it broken? $10 million is a top-end draft budget ... every team in MLB can afford to spend that in the draft. They don't have to do so to have a good draft, but the top end of the range is relatively low.

Pico (Boston)

Well we're not in the south or anything but Blue Ribbon is very tasty

Keith Law
  (4:02 PM)

We've done this before. Their sauce is horrible and they don't trim their meat anywhere near enough.

Flemming (California)

What are your thoughts on Giants' 6th round pick Matthew Graham? What type of pitcher does he project to be?

Keith Law
  (4:03 PM)

I have some hope he can work out as a mid- to back-end starter, but I think the majority opinion is that he's a power bullpen arm.

Craig (Chicago)

When teams sign players to 4 or 5-year major league deals, are they potentially buying out arbitration years?

Keith Law
  (4:03 PM)

Yes, for a player who reaches the majors quickly.

Tony (Clifton, NJ)

How do you like the Yankees' draft haul and - as ugly as his arm-action may be - do you believe it was a mistake to let Chad Thompson go to ASU?

Keith Law
  (4:05 PM)

Tommy John guy, no? I don't believe that's a mistake.

John (Morristown, NJ)

On Renaudo: Great build, proven commodity.. how does his pure stuff stack up with other top of round 1 college pitchers?

Keith Law
  (4:05 PM)

It kind of doesn't. He's not the hardest thrower in the class, but he's very aggressive and has good deception. Hitters - well, college hitters - take some awkward, weak hacks at his stuff.

John (Phoenix)

With Spence coming back to AZ St, does he improve his draft status next year? Or just coming back to do the college thing?

Keith Law
  (4:05 PM)

I don't think any player made a worse decision by not signing than Spence. Epic draft fail.

Tim Lincecum (San Francisco, CA)

Speaking of arbitration, I'm headed for a record deal, no?

Keith Law
  (4:06 PM)

I believe so, especially if you win the Cy again.

Scott (StL)

Bostonians trying to talk about great BBQ is like Kansas City residents trying to talk about winning baseball.

Keith Law
  (4:07 PM)

I don't disagree. I'm going to try my hand at pulled pork again tomorrow - figure if I want decent Q I might have to do it myself.

matt (sacramento, ca)

how do you explain to someone they're wrong when they say "scott boras ruins baseball?" im stumped and frustrated.

Keith Law
  (4:08 PM)

Ask them what's been ruined. Boras clients this year went to Washington, Seattle, San Diego, Detroit, and Milwaukee, off the top of my head. Pittsburgh got one last year. Baltimore the year before. So it's not that low-revenue teams can't sign his amateur players.

Steve (Arlington, Va)

Keith, isn't the draft "broken" in the sense of slotting and inability to trade draft picks. Look at the Pirates they were obviously willing to spend (and ignore slotting) but they were forced to take a player they liked and pay him more than what he was worth (though less than what any other player would have cost there). The Pirates would have been much better served if they could have traded that 4 pick back, pick up a few extra draft choices and still get Sanchez at the bottom of the 1st round. Don't you think that 'fixing' the no trading rule would benefit both teams and draftees?

Keith Law
  (4:09 PM)

They weren't forced to do anything. But yes, trading picks would do wonders for the draft, both in terms of giving teams more flexibility to pursue what they believe to be optimal strategies, and in making it a little more interesting and relevant to the casual fan.

Chris (Alabama)

You've said you're not a big Tate fan? Could you explain why?

Keith Law
  (4:10 PM)

Swings and misses a lot, even with metal. Real soft front side in his swing. Not sure that can be fixed - maybe mitigated.

Rob (Baltimore)

I think there is a lefty from ole miss that you left out of your 2010 top 5

Keith Law
  (4:11 PM)

Pomeranz? No. Not top 5.

Danny (Las Vegas )

Keith,Zack Britton (126 1/3 IP 114k/50BB, 3.20 GO/AO) @ Single A. Is his ceiling a 2/3 perhaps? Supposedly he has gained velocity on his fastball and now sits 92-94.BTW- Firefly's is awesome! I cant get enough of the Steak

Keith Law
  (4:11 PM)

That sounds about right although I have heard he's more 89-93. Maybe a #3 with upside to be a 2. Semantics ... I must be tired.

Patrick (Boston)

So the Rangers did not sign Purke. He obviously had signability issues, which is why he was available at 15. He would have been a huge boost to an already stacked farm system, and it seems like the Rangers pushed really hard to sign him. But it didn't happen. How do the Rangers fill the void of not having a first round draft pick enter their system this year? The compensation pick next season won't bring back another compensation pick if he doesn't sign, so Daniels probably won't target another prospect with great potential and signability issues. Do they take some more chances with later draft picks, get aggressive in Latin America, or simply do nothing because such is life when you draft players like Purke?

Keith Law
  (4:13 PM)

They just didn't spend much money at all, which makes me wonder if they didn't have it to spend. I wouldn't take a high-price-tag kid in the first round unless I knew I could sign him; obviously I'd rather just spend the money on the best player, but option #2 would be to take the best player I can afford, and option

Tyler Matzek (Mission Viejo)

Is Scott Kazmir a fair comp? I probably throw harder than him, but whats mu upside?

Keith Law
  (4:13 PM)

You throw harder and much easier.

Steve (Illinois)

I think you have to accept that the purpose of the draft is to maintain competitive balance by giving the worst teams a chance at the best players if you want to understand why 90% of baseball fans think the draft is broken.

Keith Law
  (4:14 PM)

The purpose of the draft is to hold down signing bonuses for players. I think you may be the one with acceptance issues.

Blackoutyears (Cincinnati)

Does the failure to sign Paxton improve his position (young for his class senior has shot to improve draft position) or worsen it (the 2010 college arms provide more competition than the 2009s)? And am I the only one who feels like a cash-strapped TEX dodged a bullet with Purke?

Keith Law
  (4:15 PM)

Paxton finished with a bad start and Kentucky missed the SEC tournament, so he didn't get to redeem himself in front of a slew of scouts in Birmingham. I think there's a better-than-even chance that he has a stronger, more consistent spring in 2010 and ends up in the first round.

Steve (NYC)

Do you have a smoker Keith? If not, crock pot pulled pork is tasty, though you obviously don't have the smoke. Bone in shoulder, cover it in root beer, real beer, garlic and scallions and cook it for a day.

Keith Law
  (4:15 PM)

I'll smoke it on a cast-iron grill. The smoke is the whole point.

Grant (Winnipeg)

Great chat Klaw, one of your best! (I realize it hasn't started yet, but some people seem to like the token flattery.) Noted that a lot of the higher picked unsigneds were clustered in Tampa, Toronto and Texas. Coincidence, or a reflection of financial deterioration in those organizations?

Keith Law
  (4:17 PM)

The Commissioner's Office runs its central information system on a Timex Sinclair 1000 with a broken "T" key. So they assigned all of these contracts to Ampa, Orono, and Exas, leaving those three teams holding the bag (and a small town in Maine very, very confused).

Keith Law
  (4:17 PM)

Thanks for the questions - I'll be back next week!