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October 21, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Baseball America's Jim Callis

Jim Callis
  (2:02 PM)

Hi, everyone. The 2011 Prospect Handbook is officially underway, due to go to the printer before Christmas and be available in January. In fact, I'm taking a break from editing our Mets Top 30 to answer your questions. Let's get to them.

Logan (Philly)

What is the main difference between Jason Heyward & Domonic Brown?

Jim Callis
  (2:02 PM)

Brown is a better athlete, but Heyward is more of a pure hitter. I think he gets it done easier at the plate.

Dan (CT)

Hi Jim, what is with the awful umpiring all post season. It almost seams like they are trying to force instant replay to happen.

Jim Callis
  (2:04 PM)

I don't think there's any explanation. Those calls last night were so inexplicably bad, and like the blown call on Joe Mauer's non-double, the umps were in position to make the right call and just blew it. It seems to me during the time that a manager is out arguing with the umps, replay could be checked. I don't buy the "human factor" argument. Let's get the calls right and not take too long to do it.

Joe P. (Las Vegas, NV)

Starlin Castro for the Cubs has been getting a lot of positive hype lately. Would you say he has surpassed Vitters as the Cubs #1 prospect now?

Jim Callis
  (2:07 PM)

Yes, yes I would. I've begun my prep for the Cubs Top 30 this week, and right now I would put Castro at No. 1 and Brett Jackson at No. 2, with Vitters at No. 3.

Bill (Madison WI)

Tanner Scheppers // Aaron Crow. Who has the highest ceiling? When will each one debut in the majors?

Jim Callis
  (2:08 PM)

Scheppers has a higher ceiling because he has legit power stuff, but I'd still take Crow because I feel much better about his health. I think Crow could be in Kansas City before the end of next year, and Scheppers could be in Texas in 2011.

Chris (Newport Beach, CA)

Jim, love the chats! Would it take a lights out Arizona Fall League and Spring Training for Strasburg to make the majors to start the 2010 season?

Jim Callis
  (2:10 PM)

Even then, the Nationals have too much incentive not to have him on their Opening Day roster. By delaying his arrival, they can delay his arbitration eligibility and his free agency by a year. They're not going to contend in 2010 in any case. It's a cynical move, but I'd keep him down for at least a couple of weeks and essentially gain another season of Strasburg before he can become a free agent.

Tim (Durban South Africa)

Could Nationals go with Taillon or Ranaudo over Harper?

Jim Callis
  (2:12 PM)

Sure they could. I'll do a column on this at some point, but I don't think it's far-fetched to conceive of Bryce Harper falling out of the first round. It's going to be almost impossible to live up to the hype, and if he falls short and is looking for big money--is Strasburg's contract a starting point--he may scare off clubs, who know he can re-enter the 2011 and 2012 drafts and still have lots of leverage. It's also possible that after spending $15.1 million on Strasburg, the Nationals don't want to spend huge money on another No. 1 overall pick.

Jeff (Dayton)

What can we expect from Michael Saunders next year? He only hit 221/257/278 in 122 Major League ABs this year. Can the Mariners count on him in an outfield position? 3B? Is he still a top-20 prospect?

Jim Callis
  (2:13 PM)

I wouldn't read too much into the big league numbers, because so many guys struggle in their first callups. He's had three good minor league seasons in a row, young for his league every time. I think he'll be at least a solid regular outfielder, not quite a Top 20 overall prospect for me.

skinnyjh (Greenville, SC)

For the next 5 years, Desmond Jennings or Cameron Maybin? And how close it is?

Jim Callis
  (2:14 PM)

It's close. I'm going to take Jennings because I'm still worried about Maybin's strikeouts.

Nathaniel (Pittsburgh)

Donald Veal has been spectacular in his first two starts for Scottsdale. What is his upside? Can he be an ace with improved command?

Jim Callis
  (2:18 PM)

He has a better arm than most lefties, and if you want to dream, you could see him as a No. 2 starter. But I don't think he's ever going to figure his command out, even if he had a couple of good AFL starts. I think he's a lefty reliever at best.

Wilton (Douglas)

Fantasy wise, who would you rather own: Bumgarner or Posey? Posey's lack of power seemingly knocks him down a few pegs, but Bumgarner's velo drops this year are also worrying. Is Posey the type of player who should very well be worth more in real life than fantasy?

Jim Callis
  (2:19 PM)

Posey will be worth more in real life because his defense won't translate to fantasy. But I think he'll hit for a high average with solid power, and might even steal a few bases. He'll be better offensively than most catchers.

Nelly (GA)

Dee Gordon or Eric Young, Jr.? I'm curious to hear whether you say they're the same guy more or less and that you'd just take the SS (Both as an indictment of Young's PT and power and as a measure of Gordon at SS).

Jim Callis
  (2:19 PM)

I would take Gordon because I'm not convinced Young can stay in the infield. Gordon isn't a lock to stay at shortstop but I think he'll figure it out.

Brandon (Dakoda)

Do teams ever focus on finding and bringing along their own future MLB role players (5th starters, long relievers, backup Cs, etc) instead of just taking the "failed" prospects and slotting them there?In other words, as much as they clubs need high ceilinged talent, do they ever have room and time to look for cheap in house talent--safer, higher floor type guys at the same time? Or would that just be a huge waster when these guys are fungible and not terribly expensive at the MLB level.Thanks for wading through this.

Jim Callis
  (2:20 PM)

Sure they do, it's a good way to save money. But I'd submit that a prospect isn't really a failure if he winds up in that roles. A first-round pick may not become a frontline starter or everyday player, but he might fit nicely as a quality reserve or a key reliever.

Christina (King of Prussia, PA)

Regarding the bad calls in postseason games, in the games I had seen I do not believe they changed the outcome of the game in any way. Having said that, I think that instant replay should come into play for at the very least postseason games. Perhaps a team of two or three officials could be situated in a special viewing room and when a call is in question the field officials could refer to them to make the right call.

Jim Callis
  (2:22 PM)

Both valid points I mostly agree with, though the Twins might have won that extra-inning game if Mauer had been given the double he deserved.

Minaya (NY, NY)

Jim, whats the deal with Ike Davis, am I crazy or will he be ready for next year

Jim Callis
  (2:23 PM)

I think next year is pushing it a bit, but Davis got back on track after a weak pro debut. Maybe he'll be ready by midseason, but I think 2011 is more likely. You could make a case that he's New York's No. 1 prospect.

Kevin (San Diego)

Hey Jim, if forced to take a guess, who will be the next Padres GM? Have you heard Logan White at all?

Jim Callis
  (2:27 PM)

I'm just guessing, but I had someone close to the situation say that he still think it will be Jerry DiPoto (or maybe A.J. Hinch) despite Jeff Moorad's pledge not to take someone from the Diamondbacks. This source said he just couldn't see Arizona standing in the way or someone's opportunity to become GM. I haven't heard White's name, which is surprising. He'd be on my short list of GM candidates I'd want to hire.

Rob (Oakland)

Which team says no to a BJ Upton/Buster Posey trade?

Jim Callis
  (2:27 PM)

The Giants. It's hard to find good catchers.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

You mean there are actually 30 Mets worth talking about?

Jim Callis
  (2:28 PM)

They don't have a lot of prospects in the upper levels of their system, but their overall depth isn't bad. And we can find 30 guys to write up in any system!

James (Waterbury, CT)

Speaking of the Mets, I'm guessing their top 5 is: Martinez, Mejia, Flores, Davis, Holt.... close?

Jim Callis
  (2:29 PM)

Right names, wrong order. I will say no more about where they rank--you'll have to wait for our NL East Top 10 issue!

James (Waterbury, CT)

I got into an argument the other day with a friend over Josh Thole. I said he didn't have enough power or defensive ability to be a long-term starter in the majors, my friend argued that his eye and contact would translate and make him an above average hitting catcher.... who do you agree with?

Jim Callis
  (2:29 PM)

I think you're probably closer to the truth.

Jason (Birmingham)

Hi Jim. Where do you think Jacob Turner begins in the Tigers organization next year?

Jim Callis
  (2:30 PM)

Low Class A. I know they started Porcello in high Class A, but I don't think Turner is quite that good and it's easier to move a guy up than down.

Doug (NYC)

If you were running the Yankees, would you keep Montero at catcher for SWB or would you change his position to something like LF so his bat can get to the bigs faster?

Jim Callis
  (2:31 PM)

I'd try to make catching work going into 2010. But if he's not making progress there, I'd start thinking about LF so he could help the big league club in 2011.

Dustin (Bend, OR)

If the ALCS and NLCS hold to form, who do you give the edge to in the World Series, Phils or Yankees?

Jim Callis
  (2:32 PM)

The Yankees. Their lineup is better and their bullpen is much better.

Boutros (NYC)

JC - first time/long time... given this year's results, who is the better GM in your mind - Epstein or Cashman?

Jim Callis
  (2:36 PM)

Let me ask you this . . . If Epstein had the unlimited payroll to add Sabathia and Teixeira and Burnett, wouldn't the Red Sox be headed to the World Series right now? The Red Sox and other teams spend money, no question, but shouldn't a team that consistently has a payroll 50 percent higher than any other club have the best team in baseball? Not to knock Cashman, but in that situation, how can we accurately assess how good or bad he is when he has many more financial resources to work with. Kudos to the Yankees for putting their profits back into their club, which some small-revenue teams might want to look at doing.

Jack (Toronto)

How was Jayson Werth's defence as a catcher? I remember when the Jays converted him to the OF to make room for Josh Phelps way back when. Werth's current production coming from a catcher would be amazing. This seems to be a pretty big gaff.

Jim Callis
  (2:38 PM)

He was an average defender at best behind the plate before he moved. He was exceptionally tall for a catcher and his arm was just decent back there. Hard to argue with how his career turned out after it looked like it might stall in the minors.

JD (DC)

Jim, since when does Epstein have limits on his payroll? Every big-ticket player the Yankees have gone for the Red Sox went for as well. And it's not like the Sox were outbid by 50% on all of them. He tries to play it smart by going for value over quantity. That's a strategy, not a limitation. And it didn't work this time.

Jim Callis
  (2:40 PM)

Epstein has more resources than most GMs, no question. But no one spends close to the Yankees, and that's a huge advantage. Give any GM $200 million, and they should be able to build a tremendous team. I don't think there's much skill in that.

nathan (nyc)

As a yankee fan i will never argue the fact that Yanks have a solid revenue stream.. but most owners are billionares who dont care... the Twins are owned by Pohlad who is as rich as the Boss... is it accurate to describe that the Steinbrenners are willing to invest more in the team... i bet most franchises are only operating at 75% of their capacity to bag profits...

Jim Callis
  (2:41 PM)

I agree, Nathan, and I tried to make this point. The Yankees deserve a lot of credit for maximizing their profits and plowing that money back into the team (as well as into other clubs via revenue sharing and luxury taxes). They've earned the right to spend what they want.

Fred (Burnaby)

Same question you answered about Thole, only this time Avila. Both seem more "right place, right time" guys than legitimate catching prospects, but Avila's numbers were quite impressive all year.

Jim Callis
  (2:42 PM)

I feel the same way about Avila. He's relatively new to catching and I'm not sure he'd be good enough defensively to be a regular. But wow, he did blow away expectations this year.

Rob (Charlotte)

Which former Cleveland Indian has the biggest impact on the World Series? I dare you to pick Jim Thome.

Jim Callis
  (2:42 PM)

I'll say Ben Francisco.

Jim Callis
  (2:43 PM)

Just joking, of course. C.C. Sabathia.

Boutros (NYC)

So, given your view on Cashman's disproportionate resources, when will MLB do something to better ensure league parity? The NFL has a hard salary cap. Or, does Lord Selig truely believe that baseball is better off with the Yankee's so dominant?

Jim Callis
  (2:45 PM)

I don't think we'll ever see a hard salary cap in MLB. The owners would love one, but baseball is so profitable, why would the players agree to it? To have any chance of getting one, I think you'd never an even more severe economic downturn and the owners would have to completely open their books to the players.

Andy In Sunny Daytona (Florida)

...so you are saying that Theo did a better job than Cashman?

Jim Callis
  (2:50 PM)

I'm not saying that, more saying that I don't think you can compare Cashman's job to that of other GMs. Sure, he did a better job than Omar Minaya and Jim Hendry, who spent a lot of money and came up empty. But no other team had the money to pay Sabathia and Teixeira and Burnett (not to mention A-Rod, Jeter and Co.). So Cashman should get a gold star for signing those guys? Pick whoever you want as the worst GM in baseball, and I bet that guy could identify Sabathia and Teixeira as studs . . . I hope I'm not sounding like I disrespect the Yankees. They run a tremendous business model and do what it takes to win. They have good people in baseball operations and always are helpful in their dealings with me, so there's no axe to grind. I just don't think anyone can evaluate how good Cashman is as a GM because his advantages are so great. Imagine being in a rotisserie league with a $400 budget rather than the $260. If you win, are you a better GM than your competitors?

Jim Callis
  (2:50 PM)

Let's head to the lightning round.

Alex (Philadelphia)

Jim, who says no first: Jayson Werth for Josh Vitters

Jim Callis
  (2:51 PM)

Phillies.

Eric (Milwaukee)

Salome or Lucroy?

Jim Callis
  (2:51 PM)

Lucroy.

James (Waterbury, CT)

Ackley or any other CF prospect?

Jim Callis
  (2:51 PM)

Ackley.

Rob (Oakland)

Re: Werth as a catcher question, what about Garko as a catcher? Any chance he could still do it?

Jim Callis
  (2:51 PM)

Nope. He was always shaky back there.

Larry (nyc)

Who says no... Cano + Kennedy Cash for Matt Cain

Jim Callis
  (2:52 PM)

That would be interesting, I could see something like that happening.

mj (ny)

over/under on games played at catcher in the majors for Montero: 150

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

Under.

Steve (NY)

The Yankees starting LF in 2010 is __________.

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

Johnny Damon, if the Yankees want to keep it warm for Montero or Austin Jackson. If not, Matt Holliday.

Joe (RI)

If MLB goes with a salary Cap, kansas city, oakland, Florida, Tampa, etc. will have to fold, because they will lose the Yankees revenue sharing money and a Salary floor of around $85 Mil would have to be imposed by definition. Its not happening because it can't.

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

I don't want a salary cap either and don't think we'll ever see one.

Jim (KC)

Moose or Hosmer?

Jim Callis
  (2:53 PM)

Moustakas.

Tommy C (NYC)

Long term potential - Westmoreland or Heyward

Jim Callis
  (2:54 PM)

Potential is similar but Heyward has proven himself a lot more to this point.

Joe (Detroit)

Odds of Jim Callis answering a Royals Question?

Jim Callis
  (2:54 PM)

I already answered questions about Aaron Crow and Mike Moustakas vs. Eric Hosmer!

Rory (NYC)

Ike Davis and Jennry Mejia for Prince Fielder. Who says no first?

Jim Callis
  (2:55 PM)

Brewers. I'd want a comparable big league pitcher, not a pitching prospect.

Eric (Milwaukee)

Cody Scarpetta or Wily Peralta?

Jim Callis
  (2:55 PM)

Scarpetta.

Keith Kowalski (MO)

Surprised that Posey is struggling through the first few AFL games?

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

No. I've said many times that I don't put much credence in AFL stats.

Ryan (Ottawa)

Percentage of Royals questions Jim Callis gets?

Jim Callis
  (2:56 PM)

Probably about 1-2 percent.

Steve (Kansas)

Ubaldo Jimenez a Cy Young contender for years to come or flash in the pan?

Jim Callis
  (2:57 PM)

He's legit.

fjm(anuel) (ny)

Austin Jackson hit .300 this year... with a .392 BABIP (.765 OPS). There's no way he can hit enough to play LF.

Jim Callis
  (2:57 PM)

I'm not convinced he will either. That was a strange year.

brad (detroit)

Vitters for Granderson. Who says no first? Lot of rumors around here that Grandy is on the block.

Jim Callis
  (2:58 PM)

I could see something like that happening if the Cubs can dump Milton Bradley. The Cubs want to get more lefthanded and need a CF, and the Tigers need to save money somewhere.

nathan (nyc)

Are you surprised by David-K-Robertson... can he eventually become an 8th inning guy

Jim Callis
  (2:59 PM)

Not really. Always liked his arm when he was at Alabama and in the Cape League, and I know we touted his signing in our 2006 Draft Report Cards. I could see him becoming an eighth-inning guy.

Andrew (Philly)

Phils win it tonight?

Jim Callis
  (2:59 PM)

Yes.

Dan (CT)

Over under on Nationals losses next season: 93.5

Jim Callis
  (3:00 PM)

Over.

Mark (NYC)

Percentage of Yankees questions? Mets questions? Red Sox questions?

Jim Callis
  (3:01 PM)

I get more Yankees and Red Sox questions than for any other club. I bet 15-20 percent of my team-related questions deal with those clubs. Mets are on the second tier, along with the Cubs.

marc (long island)

in retrospect, cc and hughes and kennedy or johan santana?

Jim Callis
  (3:02 PM)

C.C. and Co. It always makes sense to keep your prospects and sign a comparable free agent, rather than give up what it takes to get a stud in trade and have to pay him too.

Chris (Alabama)

Hosmer or Freddie Freeman?

Jim Callis
  (3:02 PM)

Freeman, easy. And now I have to run, see you next week.