I love how the Boston weather report refers to a day like today as "summer-like." It's maybe 65 degrees out. That's not "summer-like" unless your seasonal identification ability has been retarded by a lifetime spent in the tundra of New England. It's cold and I'm wearing a sweater.
I know this happened before you made it to Toronto, but I wanted to ask you about the Blue Jays decision to move Jayson Werth to the OF to make room for Josh Phelps at C. I know at the time Phelps had little chance of sticking at C, could Werth have? I remember that he was the better of the two, but considered a better athlete and he'd make a better transition to OF. Could Werth have stuck at C? His production there would have been amazing.
Actually it was one of the first decisions JP made after I got there. I pointed out that players as tall as Werth did not last, health-wise as catchers, and that Werth's speed made him a good candidate to move to CF. We also discovered that he already had damage in one of his knees and that he might not be able to last the season behind the plate. So while you're right about Werth's production, I don't think catching was ever in the cards for him. His knees blew out even thought we moved him.
What is wrong with Jason Heyward? I have not seen him in the AFL box scores the last week.
Minor leg injury - hamstring, I think.
Does Ruben Tejada eventually play as a starter in the majors? It seems like the Mets have pushed him very far, very fast.
I could see the defense + contact ability making him a solid starter at ss. He's not a star.
I saw that Matt Dominguez impressed you with his defense what kind of ceiling who you give him? Were you a Matt Dominguez guy or Michael Moustakas?
Dominguez, then and now. Moustakas was bad at 3b last week. Next stop, right field, I guess.
From a fan standpoint, Arizona Fall League > Arizona Spring Training?
Oh yeah, absolutely.
From what you saw of Mejia in AFL does he project as a starter or reliever? What is the timeline for him to make it to New York?
Starter. Probably two full years away.
What is your take on Jonathan Lucroy do you think he would be ready to take over the Brewers catcher spot by June?
They've got an interesting dilemma with him and Salome. Neither one looks like a star; Lucroy is definitely a catcher, probably a 50 (solid average regular), while Salome has more bat potential but may not be able to catch. I'd probably let Salome start 2010 in the majors and send Lucroy to AAA. (By the way, how awful was that Trevor Hoffman extension? Extremely fluky HR rate gets you $8 million? 10% or more of the team's payroll for a one-inning closer, and not a good one? Wow.)
Do you put much faith in the AFL? It seems like a lot of guys are doing the cool thing and saying it doesn't really matter.
I don't put much stock in the stats, but it's great for evaluators. You get a lot of good pitcher/hitter matchups, more than you'd get in a typical minor-league game.
Is Ike Davis a MLB starter? All-Star?
Starter. I'm not calling him more than that till I see him hit a breaking ball.
Bret Lawrie question. Is he an impact bat in MLB? Ive heard he's playing 2B, is this Big News for his value, if true?How is he progressing? 2011 callup?
He really has no position. Good bat, potentially a special bat, but he might end up in LF.
Keith, ryan howard added another trophy to his impressive collection last night, if you still think adrian gonzalez is a better player then him, you must be on crack
I suppose Philly residents would be experts on crack...
KLaw, Theo has gone on both Boston sports radio stations in the past month, going off on a tangent about how BA and RBI are overrated. Do you think Dayton Moore is going to challenge him to a duel at the winter meetings?
Those Theo comments have been priceless. He's more or less pointed out that fans - and, although I don't think he made it explicit, writers - who still rely on idiot stats like BA, RBI, W, SV aren't even capable of arguing their points.
How hard is it going to be for you to come up with a top fifty free agent list for this horrible class on free agents?
I've already started ... and it thins out around 30 or 35. I can rank them, but coming up with 50 worth writing about?
Klaw - love the write-ups from the AFL. What is the eta for Castro to be playing ss with the Cubs?
2011. He might be able to handle it in the middle of next year, Andrus-style, but I'd like to see where he is after a half-year in AA.
Montero (NYY) seems to be a top level prospect. Exposito performed very well at AA at the same position. How do they compare and why is Montero more highly regarded?
I can't even compare the two. Exposito isn't close to Montero offensively.
KLAW- What is your opinion on Scott Sizemore? Is he ready to be a big-leaguer next season? Who is he comparable to (skill set-wise?)
Yes, I see no reason for them to pay for Polanco when Sizemore can handle 2b for the minimum salary. They'll probably lose 5-10 runs on defense, but Polanco's glove is declining anyway.
Keith, have you seen Drew Storen pitch in the AFL yet? I've heard great things about him, but is the talk of him as a starter just overblown hype? He's profiles as a reliever right?
I know he has a changeup but I've only seen him go FB-SL in games. Both are plus as is his command, so I could see converting him to starter (which he was in HS, just two years ago) if he's got the third pitch.
Do you like Desme in the Oakland system? The numbers in the AFL look poor, and that's generally reported as a hitters' league. Did you see stuff/approach/tools to like this fall?
I don't. Saw him swing through way too many average (or better) fastballs. I know his stat line was great thi syear, but he wasn't young for his league.
Did you see Brandon Crawford play in any AFL games? Any change of opinion re his abilities?
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Are Phillies phans the most sensitive? I read a lot of analysis and the comments that follow, and it seems that the Phillies fans take major offense to predicting anything less than a 100-win season, a sweep of all 3 playoff rounds, and Chase Utley marrying Megan Fox in the offseason. Would you pass it on to all the Phillies fans you know that EVERYone knows they're a good team, even if everyone doesn't expect them to win every game ever? Hopefully they'll lighten up if they win it all again. (Not that I think they will).
They're pretty funny. One guy in the chat seems to think they won the World Series last night. I hate to break his heart by pointing out there's another round to go.
You tweeted that John Gaub hit 95. Should he be in the Cubs pen at the start of 2010? How useful can he be?
Not till he throws strikes. Good arm, 40 command at best.
Is Aroldis Chapman included in your Top 50 free agents? And if so, can you give us a hint at where he might be ranked?
He'll be there, top 10, not #1. Too many questions.
There is a very simple explanation as to why ARod is now having success in the playoffs..............
That's the best question of the chat.
Where would you rank Ackley ? Top 50 ? 20 ? 10?
Top 20, yes. Top 10, I'm not sure yet, but last year I think I had four or five June draftees in my offseason top 20.
Hey Keith, speaking of Montero, I asked you this in your last AFL blog, so I hope you can answer it here. Does he have any realistic chance of being a viable catcher at the major league level? If not, what exactly is holding him back?
No, I don't think he does. Can't play it physically - too big and slow.
Any of the Padre's prospects show you anything?
Not really. They rivaled Toronto for "worst set of AFL prospects." Hunter in particular disappointed. Zawadzki's swing is good but I have no idea where he plays.
With Jed Hoyer (apparently) taking the SD job, why does Kim Ng continue to get passed over for the top spot? Or is it a case of her being a high profile candidate due to her gender that all of her interviews gather more attention than other multiple interviewees?
Let me answer that with another question: Why should Kim Ng get a GM job? The qualifications of GM candidates are almost completely unknown to even serious fans. Yes, you've heard of certain candidates, because they're touted by friends in the media. Ng gets even more publicity because of her gender; Ken Ng wouldn't get half the same press, even if he was precisely as qualified as Kim Ng is. The only GM candidates fans can adequately assess are former GMs, because on the rest, you don't have enough information. In many cases, I don't even have enough information.
Following pu on the Hoyer question, is an Adrian Gonzalez trade to the Sox now more likely? What kind of package would they have to send to the rebuilding Padres?
I hate that entire line of thinking.
What can you tell me about Mitchell Moreland? His numbers are real good, but I have not really heard any hype about the guy. Thanks Klaw.
Liked the swing, fluid, repeats it, good approach, above average raw power. Better prospect than I thought he was before the trip.
Klaw is Daryl Jones really a 5 tool guy i see no power at all slug/ OPS .378/739. those are Juan Pierre numbers! I don't see that playing in a corner OF
Good thing a half season of AA stats isn't definitive then, isn't it?
I've heard that Sabean says Posey needs another year in the minors. If true, is that actionable as negligence? Also, is there any chance another team could sweep in and deal for Buster?
I haven't seen or heard that from Sabean. I do not agree with it, either.
Should Kenji Jojhima be awarded the Mariners team MVP for the next two seasons?
Who says no: Fielder for Kemp?
Dodgers. With howls of derisive laughter.
early consensus prediction for all of the national baseball "experts" - Yankees in 5...right?
There is no way I'd pick the Yanks in 5. My actual prediction depends a little on how long the ALCS goes (and who wins, of course).
While fat jokes are always fun, what are some realistic longterm expectations for Viciedo? Heir apparent to Konerko at 1st base? What kind of production do you see in his future?
Honestly, his fat issue isn't a joke. I'm not sure where he plays. His body is terrible for his (alleged) age.
Please... pick against the Phillies. Everyone has been the past 2 seasons and they've done quite well for themselves. Actually, could you predict a sweep of the Phils?
Didn't know North Carolina was a whine-producing state. Oh, and I picked the Phillies to win in the NLDS and NLCS this year.
What was Steve Phillips thinking? Almost trading a 19 year old David Wright for Jose Cruz Jr.? Ridiculous.
I've been asked about that trade rumor for three years but never answered while Ricciardi was still GM. The offer was made, though; I was there when the call came in. It was the first time I'd heard of Wright, since I wasn't with Toronto in 2001 nor had I followed the draft when Wright was in it. JP's reaction was, "I'm not trading a major league player for some guy in the Sally League." And that was pretty much that. We had a chance to trade Cruz after that for Rafael Soriano, but JP refused to do it unless Seattle included Clint Nageotte, who, at the time, was a pretty hot prospect. It's weird; I can't remember some things that happened last week but I remember those conversations (over seven years ago now) like they just took place.
And, by the way, actual questions about Phillips are off limits. I can't even post them, let alone answer them, so please, stop.
My personal favorite is that by predicting a certain team to lose a playoff series, that team's fans take it to mean you hate them, their team, their entire farm system, and the players mothers.
Welcome to my world.
I saw in your AFL report you had a pretty glowing review of Starlin Castro. Realistically about how good could he be? .300/.360/.440 and plus defense? Less than that? More than that?
I think there's more power potential there. He's just 19 and the ball comes off his bat really well. I hate the Soriano comp, because so much of it is physical and Castro makes more contact, but when you see the ball come off Castro's bat Soriano has to come to mind.
If the Yankees clinch tonight there will be 6 days off for both teams until the World Series starts. This follows the Yankees and Angles both waiting 4 days to start the ALCS after their sweeps. Is there any way that MLB will see this and not have next year's playoff schedule set in stone?
Colin asked me about this on the Herd yesterday. MLB's view is that the dates have to be fixed for logistical reasons - the huge # of hotel rooms they have to book, conference spaces, etc. Moving the dates around makes booking all of that ancillary stuff difficult.
What would you would recommend as a fan experience: spring training or AFL? The AFL games sound like the greatest thing ever
AFL. You'll be one of maybe 100 fans at a day game, and maybe 300-400 at a typical night game. In any one game you'll see at least a half-dozen guys who project as above-average major leaguers or more. Getting around is easy. Unlike spring training you can duck out of an AFL stadium after BP, grab a bite to eat, and be back for first pitch (you'll miss infield practice but they don't take it every day). And if you go in the first week they play, you'll see me, which is absolutely worth the trip.
Read "The White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga. That is all.
I just got it via Swaptree this week.
MSM sentiment seems to be that the Dodgers weren't "tough enough" to beat the Phillies. I say having to start Vincente Padilla in an LCS elimination game is more likely the problem.
I'm with you. And how much money did Padilla cost himself by returning to form in last night's game? That whole "he's a new man" meme just took a bullet to the heart when he walked off the field.
Hey Klaw. Can you give your scouting report on Jaime Garcia of the Cards? What's his ETA? Thanks!
Didn't see him this year. He was just coming back from TJ surgery.
Did you seen any of the Orioles "prospects" at the AFL? If so, aside from Bell, do you see any of the others as +average MLB players?
I like Snyder's swing a lot, just not sold on the power being enough for 1b.
Did Richie Lenz hit the mascot with a pitch when you were out in AZ?
No, but he was mostly 90-92 also, and I think I actually liked him better when he was 94-96 and one step shy of Jason Neighborgall in command.
What are your thoughts on Chris Heisey and his future with the Reds?
I don't like the swing - big hitch at the start, specifically - but man, he squared everything up last week. I can ignore my instincts on those mechanics if the guy clearly has the hand-eye and bat speed to hit.
Is Scheppers a starter or a reliever? We all know about the FB, but how does his secondary stuff grade out?
Starter. Breaking ball is an out pitch.
Keith..you are funny!! Now you are saying Coughlan will win the NL ROY but he shouldn't?? Voters aren't scouts you say....so basically you're saying you know more than most and that you are right and if they vote Couglan NL ROY....well, they are wrong!!Great work Keith!!
Thanks! Only took you a month to figure that out. By the way, Todd Hollandsworth, Bob Hamelin, and Pat Listach all send their regards.
Can you think of any free agent to be players who will get hampered by being tagged Type A like Juan Cruz last year?
Does ESPN make you collect receipts and fill out a travel reimbursement form or do you just get a per diem? I'm trying to get my company to switch to per diem and this would help a ton. Maybe.
Per diem. It does make life on the road much easier.
How did Cale Iorg look while you were there? I haven't been following the AFL closely, but I believe the Tigers sent him...
They did. Good athlete, don't project him to hit.
you often claim that team A would laugh at team B, if team B offered player X for player Y (like with the Fielder Kemp scenerio above). Of course that's not a balanced trade when you figure talent and pay projections. Regardless, my question is, in your experience with MLB clubs have you ever ACTUALLY laughed at a proposal or heard someone laugh at a proposal made by your club? Seriously, do things that intentionally demeaning really happen among teams?
I know of some trade proposals that didn't go over well, including at least one hang-up. It does happen. Some is unintentional, but there have been some GMs who didn't handle the negotiating side of things that well.
Suppose the Orioles offered the Marlins Adam Jones and Brandon Erbe for Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla? Who says no?
Marlins. Even if they want to save the money, they could do a lot better for Johnson.
So you don't see Iorg taking the shortstop spot anytime in 2010?
Keith, I've heard contrasting things about Dustin Ackley's power. Based on what you've seen what is Ackley's ceiling in terms of HR/year? 20? 25? I have frequently seen a bunch of comparisons with Chase Utley, who came out of UCLA with the same slim build as Ackley but matured into a consistent 30 HR/year guy. What are the chances Ackley develops Utley's power?
I could see 20-25. I wouldn't project 30+. Utley's physical development was kind of a best-case scenario, or at least a right-tail scenario. I'd say Ackley's chance for 30 HR power is 20%.
Brad Holt: Reliever or starter, and why?
Reliever. One pitch guy.
On your AFL trip did any Blue Jays impress? What did you think of Jimenez, the 19 yo catcher?
Good catch/throw guy, totally overmatched at the plate. Very long swing.
Keith. I read that the Phillies are the only team in baseball that do not employ a stat guru. Is this something that will catch up with them in the long run, or do they have a good enough management team in place to sustain their success without going "statistical" newschool?
I'm about 98% sure they have guys in their FO who are stat-savvy. Employing a specific guy to be the "stat guru" isn't that important. Having several people in key positions in the FO who understand not just sabermetrics but basic baseball economics as well, and incorporating those ideas into the overall baseball operations philosophy, are key.
Really...How bad of a tactical manager is Torre? I knew he was terrible, and was against his hiring from the beginning- but Game 1 was an absolute disaster, and his decisions on Starting Pitchers was a farce. One thing I will never understand is why when Kuo blows hitters away in the 7th, he has to switch to Sherrill in the 8th. Is Kuo's fragility the basis on that switch or is he a manager who just follows a pattern?
I didn't get that either. It's October. If you blow Kuo out and win the World Series ... I love Kuo, but he's probably going to blow out anyway, whether it's pitching or signing an autograph. The one thing for which Torre has been criticized unfairly, in my opinion, was starting Kershaw in game one. He has the best stuff of anyone on their staff and his command has been improving for a year now. Who was the alternative? Padilla?
How are the Philly prospects fairing in the AFL? Any bright future and/or near future contributors?
I do still really like Domonic Brown, but as I wrote last week, he's a lot less polished than I expected.
Can you put out this announcement, when making trade proposals, the team that you are not rooting for is the team that is going to say no. With the Jones/Johnson one (State = MD)...it was Florida. With the Kemp/Fielder one (State = WI)...it was the Dodgers. Just seems like a good rule of thumb.
Can't argue with that.
Kuo is strictly a 1 inning pitcher after coming back from his injury .. he can't pitch any part of an inning, sit, and come back out
According to ... ? Yes, I understand, as part of his regular-season program, he's limited, but nearly all of those rules go out the window in October. Alternative: Use Sherrill in the 7th, save Kuo for the 8th when/if Sherrill gets into trouble.
You and I rarely agree, but I'm thinking we agree about how pathetic it is that Padilla and Smoltz pitched in the same game of the NLDS after both being released by AL teams.
Yes, yes we do. Part of why I picked the Phillies to win the NL was that they have an AL-caliber lineup. I'm actuallly surprised they let Padilla off the hook the first time.
Opened up Ironweed the other day, and thought that Kennedy wrote one of the most poignant and true opening lines of a book: "Riding up the winding road of St. Agnes Cemetery in the back of the rattling old truck, Francis Phelan became aware that the dead, even more than the living, settled down in neighborhoods." What's your favorite opening line of a novel? And secondly, who will be the 'Stros next manager?
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I'm assuming it will be the wrong guy.
You are much nicer on TV and radio than on here!
I'll go warm your bottle for you.
I like KLAW's chat but he reminds me of being a Jim Rome clone. Has either of them every been wrong about anything?
I'm wrong all the time. I missed two of the four Division Series winners. I thought Billingsley would contend for the Cy this year. I had the Phillies missing the playoffs. I thought the A's offense would, well, not suck. All. The. Time.
Why do you post the complainers?
Just to break up the monotony.
Grant Desme is hitting .419 with 5hr and 10rbi in 7 games. That's hitting bad?
I'm not talking about performance.
Nice Tolstoy quote. Least known AFL prospect that impressed?
Brian Peterson, Marlins.
KLaw, does the front office makeup of Anthopoulos-LaCava-Brown bode well for an improved Blue Jays organization? And not necessarily by on-field success in 2010, but beyond? Or are Jays fans doomed to life in the middle (or bottom) of the AL East?....
Yes, it does bode well. I think Dana's in a great spot. He's a hell of an evaluator, an instinctive kind - think Gladwell's "Blink."
I am not a complainer, I never miss a KLAW chat, they are by far the best on ESPN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What was your opinion of The Road and will you go see the movie?
Incredibly hard to read. Absolutely brilliant. Worthy of the Pulitzer. No chance in hell I see that movie.
Hi Keith, I was wondering what your opinion is on Mike Minor, along with what you've heard other people say about him. Still bummed the Braves took him 7th overall. Thanks!
Wrote about him last week too - back-end starter.
Waht does Austin Romine project to be as a major league catcher? Starter? Back-up? (btw, Mather '92. You?)
Right now, backup, but he's young, and I hate to over-weight AFL looks at catchers, since they are likely really tired by then. (Posey, for instance, looked awful.) Eliot '94.
Have you seen Ryan Westmoreland play? All I have heard about him is his extremely high ceiling. Waht are your thoughs on hinm? Would he be a top 50 prospect this year?
Between the shoulder and the broken collarbone, he isn't in condition for me to run him up the list that high. Liked him a lot in high school, and if he has a full, healthy 2010, and can throw close to how he did in HS, he's a definite top 100 guy.
Don't forget Angel Berroa. However, do remember it is Rookie of the Year, not Prospect with Best Potential. Otherwise, Delmon Young and Corey patterson may have awards.
I think the guys I named were all bad choices at the time, though. Berroa, IIRC, was probably a top 3 rookie that year anyway. Matsui was #1, I think.
I read the road a few weeks ago, then caught Mad Max on late night. I'm wondering why we even care about the World Series, shouldn't we be stocking up on bottled water? Who do you think should manage the Nats in 2010? Riggleman scares me, I think he's going to break the pitchers.
I would have zero interest in Riggleman. Track record of failure.
What specifically did you see unpolished about Brown? Other than his ability to spell his name consistently?
A lot, actually. Swing is a little long and inconsistent. His reads in RF weren't good. And he throws strangely - like no one has ever really taught him proper throwing mechanics. And yet he's still a pretty good player. Says a lot about his talent.
Keith, what do you think is the "best" way to read? I work long hours and rarely have time to take in a whole novel at once. As a result, I read during lunch breaks and travel time. Should I give the artist my proper attention and only read on the weekends?
I read all ways. I'll read three pages while in line at a store, and I'll read three hours on a plane.
In general, which do you enjoy more, the Playoffs or AFL?
The AFL. There's no evaluating to be done in the playoffs.
Since JP's not the GM anymore, can you tell us any behind the scenes steroid stories from Toronto?
Sure, except there weren't any. I don't believe we had a single major-leaguer test positive or get caught with the stuff while I was there.
Hope there aren't too many questions accusing you of sub-proper respect for the Phillies since you had them in the Series (although your preseason ranking did have them a little light on wins). Why do you think Hamels is getting knocked around and do you think it's something that's possibly correctable before the World Series?
I wish I had an answer. I suppose I could question his toughness, argue that he needs to be more consistent, and say he's tipping his pitches ... but really, the only thing I've noticed is that he's leaving the ball up (especially the curve) more often than in the past. And that could be nothing, or just my perception from watching at the TV angle instead of in the ballpark.
Hamels is missing the 95 mph fastball that would come after a few change ups...It's now 91 mph at best and gets hit or fouled off to continue the at bat
There's a Phillie fan's answer. I saw Hamels up to 93 or 94 last month.
Santana is nailed on for the Indians #1, but who do you think is #2 right now?? Rondon, Hagadone or maybe an outsider like Chisenhall?
Chisenhall, probably, but you could argue Rondon and I wouldn't fight you.
Funniest novel that can be considered literature? My vote: Confederacy of Dunces. BTW just finished Wind-up Bird - great recomendation - thanks.
Good choice. Waugh's Scoop, too.
Any Pirates doing anything at the AFL?
Tabata can still hit and still can't be bothered to do much else.
You're right, a few times he'll hit 93 or 94, but it's not a consistent thing anymore, which means more foul balls and pitches per batter and eventually you just lose the battle. The Andre Ethier at bat last night in the first inning is the prime example.
That would be a pretty strong explanation. Fatigue/hangover from 2008?
Did you ever read White Teeth? I thought it was pretty incredible for a girl that age to have such a worldview.
Agreed. I thought the novel was kind of a brilliant mess. So much cleverness and perspective, but it was disjointed and a little sloppy. Worth reading, though - very much so.
there's no evaluating of baseball players to be done while they play the most important games of their lives?
What exactly am I going to learn from watching Ryan Howard in the playoffs that I don't already know?
Which player cost themselves more money this postseason: Figgins with his consistently poor PAs or Holliday with his attempted penis catch?
Figgins. Someone is still going to make a huge mistake on him.
What is meant by 'leak' when looking at a hitter?
It means he's getting his weight on his front foot too early.
Hi Keith, will you take a quick Carcassonne question from a recent convert? I'm puzzled why the failure to complete a feature once you've claimed it isn't "punished" more severely. A nearly-but-not-entirely enclosed cloister, for example, should yield no points rather than 8 of 9. As it is, failed planning is rewarded rather than punished. What do you say?
I've had the same thought, and my conclusion is that the penalty is the loss of that piece (meeple) for the rest of the game because you can't close the feature.
Keith, I know it's not settled yet, but Lidge v. Anywhere in the Yankees order is going to be good TV.
I agree. And I think Kendry Moralez wouldn't mind a few hacks off Lidge himself.
Thanks for all the questions. I'll be back next week!