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January 12, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Rob Neyer

Rob Neyer
  (12:05 PM)

Hey. Too bad nothing interesting's happened lately. We'll try to muddle through anyway ...

Biggy (Washington, NC)

With my Cubs signing Jaramillo as hitting coach, I"m curious as to how much an effect he may have. What difference can a hitting coach actually make on guys like Soriano and Soto, who badly need to rebound?

Rob Neyer
  (12:06 PM)

Biggy, I've never seen any data suggesting that hitting coaches make a measurable difference. Which doesn't mean they don't.

Shane (Knoxville)

I think we have a new idea for the Mythbusters to work on: "do steroids really improve baseball production?"

Rob Neyer
  (12:08 PM)

I think that might strain the talents of Adam and Jamie, and maybe even Kari. I've seen a study, but the trick is pinning down the data. To this point, nobody's done that convincingly enough to really stand out.

DJ (Cuse)

Will Frank Wren go down as one of the worst GM's in history? this guy is a bumbling idiot. What are your thoughts?

Rob Neyer
  (12:09 PM)

He's not even in the running yet, DJ. Granted, this hasn't been a great winter for the Braves. But let's see what happens over the next nine months before we start calling for someone's head.

David (Chicago)

Is the same true of pitching coaches? That there is no data to suggest their ability to improve pitching?

Rob Neyer
  (12:12 PM)

Nope, we've got some pretty good data on them. And there have been a few who really do stand out. Particularly Leo Mazzone when he was in Atlanta (since then, though? not so much). I would love to see someone compile the data for all pitching coaches, because I think we could then begin to consider coaches as prospective Hall of Famers.

Jason (Madison, WI)

How does one adequately factor in the ability to have more productive years late in players careers due to modern training methods when comparing career stats to those of the earlier eras?

Rob Neyer
  (12:15 PM)

Good question, Jason. I should have explicitly mentioned -- in my blog post today about Pujols -- Mitchel Lichtman's recent take on the aging curve, and how it's flattened some since the 1980s. Essentially, players simply haven't been declining as quickly as they once did.

Joe (Orlando, FL)

I have come with some arbitrary WAR numbers for measurement: 6 single season WAR or more = MVP type season. 55 career WAR is absolute minimum for a Hall of Fame discussion. Thoughts?

Rob Neyer
  (12:18 PM)

I don't believe in arbitrary cutoffs ... but, yeah: 55 is a pretty good one for modern players. Andre Dawson just clears that line. Then again, so do Robin Ventura and John Olerud. Hmmm.

Bill Self (Lawrence)

I noticed you talk a lot about KU. Did you go there? What year did you graduate? Rock Chalk!

Rob Neyer
  (12:19 PM)

Went there for a while, didn't graduate. Didn't come close to graduating. Don't even know what that would feel like. As for when, check the bio in my blog.

Matt (DC)

Rob - do you think Joe Mauer will take $18M per from the Twins, or $25M from the Yanks/Red Sox?

Rob Neyer
  (12:20 PM)

I think everything will work out, even if they have to deed him the ground under the new ballpark.

Muzzy (Leicester)

Devil's advocate here: Most of the minor leaguers who've tested positive for steroids have been pitchers. That makes sense-the primary benefit of steroids is that it helps you recover more quickly. There is some reason to believe that pitchers benefit more than hitters. Ergo: The hitters of this era should actually get EXTRA credit for facing pitchers who are juicing.

Rob Neyer
  (12:22 PM)

Yes, except if you were to study hitters vs. pitchers, you probably would find that more hitters have had anomalous seasons. That's the general perception, anyway.

Mike (San Diego)

Did you know that the Hall of Fame now has a member whose OBP is lower than Yadier Molina's? Whoopsadaisee.

Rob Neyer
  (12:26 PM)

Hey, I'm surprised to see how good Yadier Molina has become! Seriously, there's more than one Hall of Famer with an OBP lower than Molina's. Rabbit Maranville, Joe Tinker, Bill Mazeroski ... Our newest Hall of Famer does have the lowest OBP among outfielders, by a lot.

Lincoln (Bethany, MO)

What do you expect from Albert Pujols next season after coming off that off-season elbow surgery?

Rob Neyer
  (12:30 PM)

Considering how well he played before the surgery, I'm expecting good things.

Rob Neyer
  (12:33 PM)

Lighten up, Steve. Nobody said anything about OBP being the only thing that matters. Let me ask you this, though ... If there was an outfielder with a .220 batting average but a .350 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage, would you vote for him? Would anyone? I notice that a lot of voters come up with their own ideas of which stats matter.

Nora (St. Louis)

Hey! Don't drag Yadi's name in the mud. His .366 OBP was third among MLB catchers last year (behind Mauer and Martinez). Yes, his career OBP is still low due to his early years, but since his awful 2006, he's been very good, and getting better each year.

Rob Neyer
  (12:33 PM)

Yes. That's what I was saying.

Pat (Belfast, PA)

Rob, you sounded bearish on Bagwell's chances for HOF induction next year. What are you expecting him to get, between 50-60% or so? Also, do you think he'll suffer from the sanctimonious steroid speculators out there in BBWAA-land?

Rob Neyer
  (12:35 PM)

He'll suffer some, but not a lot because he's never been explicitly linked to the stuff. And yes, I would say 50-60% is a good estiguess, with both him and Larkin coming close (at least) in 2012.

E.J. (Hollywood, CA)

I am surprised that Greg Maddux decided to become an assistant to the Cubs GM. He would have made a very good pitching coach. So how come he didn't go that route?

Rob Neyer
  (12:40 PM)

I don't know Greg Maddux, but I suspect he'd rather do something else for seven months. An ex-superstar who's assistant to the GM has a pretty great job.

Brian (NJ)

A .700 OBP?!? You would definitely be a HOF player. The reason being that you would have been awesome at baseball.

Rob Neyer
  (12:42 PM)

Of course. I think our friend Steve meant to say a .400 OBP. Let's cut him some slack, if only because it's the brotherly thing.

Corey (Boston)

Not really a question, or maybe it is, or maybe it is just rhetorical. I'm confused so I'll just ask away...Is Voting for Dawson similiar to someone voting for Andy Pettite for the HOF? Very nice careers, shiny voting totals (HR's for the former, Ws for the latter), good longevity, but not exactly HOF worthy.

Rob Neyer
  (12:44 PM)

Dawson was better than Pettitte. But if Pettitte can pitch well for another three or four years, you (and he) might have something.

Matt (Sarasota, FL)

If Ricky never played baseball would Rock Raines have been a first ballot HOFer?

Rob Neyer
  (12:45 PM)

No, I don't think so. I think playing in Henderson's shadow has hurt Raines' chances, but not *that* much.

Daniel (St. Louis)

Jim Emounds, is he a HOF in your mind? and do you think he has a chance of getting in?

Rob Neyer
  (12:46 PM)

I think he deserves a long look, but won't get one.

Jimbo (Brooklyn)

Hey Rob, curious if you buy into Theo's strategy of bolstering the defense over fixing their anemic offense? Gotta say as a NYY fan, I ain't too scared of that lineup, or, particularly, that D.

Rob Neyer
  (12:47 PM)

You should be afraid, Jimbo. Very afraid. Well, not you. But the Rays should be. Because the Red Sox are probably taking their playoff spot.

Matt (Turlock,CA)

Will Vizquel be a first ballot hall of famer or will it take a while?

Rob Neyer
  (12:49 PM)

If it happens, it will take a while. But first they should put in Ron Cey and Minnie Minoso and Norm Cash and Jimmy Sheckard and Vada Pinson and a few dozen others.

Andre (GA)

Andy Pettitte = Jack Morris. YAY or NAY?

Rob Neyer
  (12:51 PM)

Qualitatively, Pettitte's better. Quantitatively, he'll catch Morris in a couple of years.

Alex (Los Angeles)

Where do you stand on Mussina and the hall of fame. Ive havent seen much deep sabermetric analysis on his career and Im curious to see where he falls after the choice to not chase 300 wins...

Rob Neyer
  (12:51 PM)

He's in, or should be. Blyleven is sort of a test case, and he's going to make it (finally) next year.

Dan (Lil' Rhody)

I've heard analysts/fans/writers say that if Pujols continues his dominance he should be considered the greatest hitter, if not the greatest player of all time. Where do you stand on this, and what does he have to do (plateaus etc.) to gain recognition as exactly that?

Rob Neyer
  (12:53 PM)

You're kidding, right? I was up until 3 in the morning trying to answer that question, Dan. Please check out my blog if you haven't already. Please.

Matt (Turlock, CA)

With Todd Helton's shrinking numbers and the fact he plays in Denver, is he a HoF in your mind?

Rob Neyer
  (12:56 PM)

I've really come around on Helton lately. During and after his injury-marred 2008, I was down on his contract and his Hall worthiness. But he came back nicely in '09, and that .427 career OBP looks pretty awesome to me. He could help himself with another couple of big RBI seasons...

Mike (San Diego)

What is your whole opinion on a person being a "first ballot" guy or not? I feel that if a guy is a hall of famer, that shouldn't change depending on his years of eligibility. Does it say on Tom Seaver's plaque that he got in on the first ballot?

Rob Neyer
  (12:57 PM)

It does not. The distinction strikes me as a way for voters to convince themselves how smart they are.

Mike (San Diego)

Rob, I don't think Dan is kidding. I know for one I am having trouble finding your blog on the McGwire AKA MLB page.

Rob Neyer
  (12:59 PM)

Really? Just below the top story area, on the left, are the big SWEET SPOT letters, and below that are my latest blog entries. It's been there every day for the last two or three years.

Jake (Chicago)

St. Louis made an awful decision giving Matt Holliday $120M...agreed?

Rob Neyer
  (1:00 PM)

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is Evan Longoria's contract and 10 is Barry Zito's, I would say Holliday's is a 6 or 7. Just too many years for an older left fielder, I think.

Dan (Lil' Rhody)

...haha, I wasn't kidding, Rob. I could feel the exasperated sigh through the computer! But I found it, and read it, and agreed with a commenter - in terms of "player," do those statistics calculate a players contributions to defense/baserunning? Are DEF/Base just not important enough in the eyes of analysts to determine whether a player is excellent or legendary?

Rob Neyer
  (1:01 PM)

Yes, both Win Shares and WAR consider defense and running (though with different methods and arguable accuracy).

Jeff (Bloomington, IN)

I think you have to add Dave Duncan in the pitching coaches who make a difference category. Too many pitchers got better after arriving and worse after leaving. I would have never picked up Smoltz is fantasy last if he had not signed with the Cards and I'm betting Brad Penny has a big year.

Rob Neyer
  (1:02 PM)

Duncan is Exhibit A in the "pitching coaches belong in the Hall of Fame" argument. Well, Exhibit A or B or C ... Mazzone and Johnny Sain are in there somewhere, too.

Eric (Chicago)

Rob, Mussina was NEVER the dominant pitcher of the decade or the last 15 years. Moose isn't a Hof'er to me. Just sayin'! One 20-win season, is that all you're basing it off of? 270 career wins or something like that and many of those for middle of the road Baltimore teams...he doesn't scare me or anyone else! Next!

Rob Neyer
  (1:05 PM)

Was Early Wynn ever the dominant pitcher over 10 or 15 years? Was Don Sutton, or Red Ruffing, or Juan Marichal? That's never been the standard for the Hall of Fame, Eric. Much as you might with it were. Thanks for all the questions, but that blog nobody can seem to find is calling my name. Until next time don't forget, "Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."