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January 23, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Keith Law

Klaw
  (1:03 PM)

The gift of gab is the gift that I have. Klawchat.

Joe (Tampa)

Abreu. Ruben never fails to provide unintentional laughs.

Klaw
  (1:04 PM)

I don't mind that signing in a vacuum. It's just that their entire offseason has been one questionable (or bad) move after another. It's a bad club, even if healthy, and has the chance to be disastrous. How much has to go right for them to win 90 games this year?

Jason (NJ)

anyone notice the Torres trade? Am I the only one who feels like the Rays gave up the clear best player here and didnt get much back? What do you think?

Klaw
  (1:05 PM)

I think they gave up the two best players in the deal. Hahn has a ridiculous arm; he just can't stay healthy and I don't project him as a starter for that reason.

Klaw
  (1:05 PM)

What they got back was a reliever, two fifth starter prospects, and an org guy who might be more than that if the conversion to catcher works out.

Johnny (Toronto)

Do you agree with the Blue Jays stance of limiting free-agent pitchers to a 5 year deal? I understand it as a general guideline, but the Jays are using it as a hard and fast rule, specifically in regards to Tanaka. Could it be an excuse from ownership to not spend money? "

Klaw
  (1:06 PM)

I agree with it. But it will mean they won't get any top-tier starter free agents.

Steve (Brooklyn)

The O/U for games Sizemore will play this year is what, like 15?

Klaw
  (1:06 PM)

I have no idea why the Red Sox gave him a 40-man spot. Granted, they can clear it on March 15th by putting him on the 60-day DL, but even so there's the principle of burning the spot.

Sheets (Nesconset, NY)

I feel like I say this every year, but this year I mean it... I've never seen contracts so out of hand. Seems like everyone is getting about double what I thought they deserve. Did you notice the same thing, or do you think this is typical?

Klaw
  (1:08 PM)

The problem there is what you thought they deserved. Revenues are up across the game and that money should flow to the players, because the product is their labor.

Phil (Kenosha)

Just curious - do you look at other prospect rankings or do you try to avoid?

Klaw
  (1:09 PM)

Mostly avoid. Sometimes a source will bring up BA's top ten for their team, so I'll look at it then, but in general I don't want to run the risk of having something like that influence my own rankings - and as a rule I don't comment on others' rankings, even if I have seen them.

Chris (NYC)

I'm a little annoyed at Mets drafting positional HS players consistently early in recent drafts (Nimmo, Cecchini, Smith). Isn't there a higher miss rate on taking HS players early than college? Why not mix it up?

Klaw
  (1:10 PM)

Is there? I don't think that's true any more, not enough to matter.

Jimmy (Parts Unknown)

You're exclusively a baseball fan. Don't seem to really care about any other sports. That seems strange in a vacuum, since most fans are fans of several different sports. Do you think people who work in a particular sport are more likely to be a sport monogamist like you are? Is that a factor?

Klaw
  (1:11 PM)

No idea. I don't follow other sports so if people I know are rabid fans of the Hand-egg Concussion League, they're not going to talk about it with me.

? (?)

I ponder, what does it feel like to be in a vacuum?

Klaw
  (1:12 PM)

It su... never mind.

Tim (AZ)

Is Freddie Freeman for real. Is he closer to the 259 avg, 2012 number or the 320 avg, 2013 number?

Klaw
  (1:13 PM)

AVG doesn't tell much of a story. If you're asking where I think his 2014 batting average ends up, I'll set the over/under line at .300.

Jesse (MN)

Like Timmy K, are you concerned about the growing gap between the haves-and-have-nots in baseball?

Klaw
  (1:15 PM)

I think it could become a problem down the road, but the system in place right now, where players often don't become free agents until most of their peak years are behind them, does quite a bit to level out the playing field. I do think the new draft and international rules are kind of stupid, though. They punish low-revenue teams for playing well.

Klaw
  (1:18 PM)

"Well compensated" is not the same as fairly compensated. If you were, say, a singer, and you wrote and recorded an album that sold 10 million copies ($100 million in gross revenues), but you only received $1 million of that, you'd be well compensated ... and probably pretty ticked off.

Kevin (Orlando)

Rays teased a big announcement for a press event this afternoon and as a fan my imagination ran wild with good news. It's leaking now that its the signing of Grant Balfour for 2 years $12M. Seem like more than the Rays would normally spend on a reliever, but isn't it the most Rays thing to tease a big announcement as signing a reliever?

Klaw
  (1:18 PM)

By their standards, that's kind of a big signing.

Matt (Boston)

General thoughts on Sizemore as a player before the injuries hit?

Klaw
  (1:18 PM)

At one point, he was the best player in the AL or damn close to it.

Jay (San Diego)

Overdone story obviously and not baseball, but you seem to have interest in cultural issues: any #hottake on Richard Sherman? My annoyance is the Stanford thing is portrayed as the excuse that a black man screaming at the TV isn't a thug. What if he didn't go to Stanford? Would that by definition make him a thug? And for the record, I do think he was being a jerk. Black, white, purple, doesn't matter. His "he went to Stanford, you're all racist" defenders and the truly racist Twitter instigators are both off-base.

Klaw
  (1:21 PM)

It's complicated because he's African-American and is also a football player, and there's cultural biases against both groups of people. It's possible a lot of the vitriol aimed at him and his next-day responses were much more about people assuming the worst of an NFL player and not about his race.

Joe (Green Bay)

Outside of Yovanni Gallardo, the Brewers have not produced a major league caliber starting pitcher for some time. Is this the result of poor drafting, poor development, or poor organizational philosophy? It seems like they're a lot slower to bring guys along guys than most teams and it ends up hurting the players in the long-run.

Klaw
  (1:22 PM)

They haven't drafted well when taking pitchers, but their development of pitchers is among the worst in the game.

Scott (Boston)

I'm surprised that you would label a top 20-25 pitcher as "elite." Or did someone else write the headline?

Klaw
  (1:22 PM)

Writers don't write their own headlines. I am no exception.

Steve (Brooklyn)

Garza gets 4/52 from the Brewers. Not bad.

Klaw
  (1:23 PM)

Great for him. Disaster for them. Of course, with that money, he can replace the screw in his elbow with one made of solid gold.

Matt (Hicksville,NY)

If I let you run a draft for my team for 10 years and you could only choose one of these four to pick with every pick for those 10 years. Prep Bat, Prep Arm, College Bat, or College Arm? What do you think would produce the best results?

Klaw
  (1:24 PM)

Prep bat, probably.

Frank (chicago)

Is there a rule about a team allocating $100 million to its compensation and then paying it out at the end of the year based on performance? Seems like the teams would like it, veteran players not so much.

Klaw
  (1:24 PM)

There's this thing called a collective bargaining agreement, or CBA, that you might want to look at.

Scott (Lincolnshire)

Just want to say my annual insider subscription comes up due this time every year. And every year I say to myself, "Well, the prospect lists are coming up next week, I better renew." As a cubs fan, this is all I have: Hope. Keep up the solid work kiddo.

Klaw
  (1:24 PM)

Thanks. Org rankings Tuesday, top 100 Wednesday, AL top tens Thursday, NL top tends Friday. Still writing, of course.

James (Dallas)

Hey Keith what's your opinion on teams using their pitching prospects as relievers in the MLB? Do you think it's good for the prospects to face MLB hitters, or is it better to keep them in say AAA ball to work on their stuff?

Klaw
  (1:25 PM)

As long relievers, yes, absolutely - this was Earl Weaver's philosophy and I think teams that have done it correctly have benefited. As short relievers, God no.

Mike (SF)

I think you have addressed this before, but is there any evidence that paying players more during the controllable years leads them to stay with the team long term.

Klaw
  (1:25 PM)

Zero. It's as bogus as the so-called "Verducci effect."

Julio Hughes (South Lebanon, OH)

Klaw, do you think Yorman Rodriguez is going to be an everyday starter in the majors some day? Been hearing about him for years, it's easy to forget he's still very young.

Klaw
  (1:26 PM)

I think he has the ability to be an above-average regular, but the odds of him just being a regular are not that high - he's a boom-or-bust type. Either he hits enough to be really good, or he doesn't hit at all and ends up in Japan.

Jon (Minnesota)

Have you heard anything about Sano's elbow?

Klaw
  (1:27 PM)

According to sources, it's between his forearm and his biceps.

Rob (Frankfort, IL)

Thoughts on George Springer making the opening day roster? The Astros outfield is pretty bare.

Klaw
  (1:28 PM)

I don't think 2014 is the driving consideration. Even holding him back till May 1st would push off free agency by a year, and for Houston that's a smart move as they're not contenders now or in 2015, but by 2020 that extra year of control will probably matter quite a bit to them.

Jon (NYC)

I understand the Mets aren't likely to contend and signing Drew wouldn't alone bring them much closer. But, given that his market is bottoming out and the Mets' 1st rounder is protected this year, shouldn't they sign him to a multi-year deal anyway? The FA SS class is stronger next season but all those FAs are likely to cost more than Drew in $$ and picks.

Klaw
  (1:31 PM)

That depends on what he's looking for, but I could see an argument for signing him because in a year or two he'd be an attractive asset in trade - essentially a buy-low opportunity.

Eric (Chicago)

So Balfour looks like he's going to the Rays. What did the Orioles see that they didn't like? I heard it was more wrist/knee than shoulder. How come the Rays aren't scared off by this?

Klaw
  (1:32 PM)

Rays have one of the best training staffs in the game, and they've had him before so they probably know his medical situation well.

Joe (Chicago)

You said this about Garza in your free agent rankings: "He's a three-year deal candidate in the $12 million to $14 million a year range." Has something changed since then or is the extra year that bad?

Klaw
  (1:34 PM)

That doesn't mean that figure would be a good deal for every club. The Brewers are a low-revenue team, likely to be under .500 for several years to come, and the financial benefit to them from Garza's on-field value isn't what it would be to teams in contention. Also, I've mentioned several times that I've heard clubs that looked at his medicals this winter weren't optimistic based on what they saw.

bill (Beertown)

Now That You're back East...Will the bosses let you do a top 50 under 25 Again?

Klaw
  (1:34 PM)

Top 25, I think, due in April.

JB (Chicago)

Even though Kris Bryant looks to be a solid prospect, did the Cubs miss calculate their ability to add top end SP (through FA or Trade) when they could have drafted Jonathan Grey?

Klaw
  (1:35 PM)

Bryant was hard to pass on - I would have taken him too, given what we knew on draft day.

Juan (Costa Rica)

What do you see in Cody Asche's future? Also is Todd Frazier closer to 2012 or 2013?

Klaw
  (1:37 PM)

Asche is a fringe regular for me. Frazier closer to 2013. There was a reader who kept showing up here and via email in 2012, harassing me because I was never a big Frazier fan. I haven't heard from him in like a year now. I hope he's OK.

Jim (philly)

Comcast clearly gained some say into Phillies decision making under the new TV deal (see announcers). Do you think this will potentially make it harder for current or new GM to undertake a rebuilding process at the expense of a tv ratings hit?

Klaw
  (1:37 PM)

I doubt it. That would be a bigger disaster for the team than the Ryan Howard contract. You can't let the broadcasters tell you how to build the roster.

Evan (DC)

Heard anything on Giolito's recovery recently? Also, I know you were WAY down on Matt Purke. Still feeling that way?

Klaw
  (1:38 PM)

Yes, and yes.

Eric (CA)

If money is not an issue, is either Skaggs or Santiago a better option than Garza?

Klaw
  (1:39 PM)

Money is a pretty big factor there. I'd take Garza over either guy if the cost were the same and health wasn't a factor, but I'd much rather have Skaggs in 2014 than Garza looking at all variables.

Paul (Atlanta)

I asked a friend who lives in Chicago and doesn't watch Top Chef to go try Mexique for me. He got the pork belly that Carlos made last week. His report: plus-plus.

Klaw
  (1:40 PM)

Everyone raves about that restaurant. I imagine Carlos has boosted business there quite a bit with the publicity from being on the show.

G (NYC)

"As short relievers, God no." - Is that where the Yanks screwed up with Joba?

Klaw
  (1:41 PM)

There's a list of ways they screwed that up, but I'd put most of it under the heading of failing to just decide on his role and stick with it. No pitcher who's jerked back and forth like that ever seems to work out.

WTF Pancakes (Cincinnati)

Thanks for providing the link to the chat-there was nothing on the ESPN MLB page. Does it make any sense for the Mariners to hang on to Nick Franklin now that Cano is in the fold? I've heard some folks suggesting that he could be a utility player for them, but that strikes me as a dreadful use of resources. Of course, that seems to be par for the course for the Mariners these days...

Klaw
  (1:42 PM)

I'd look at using him to fill another hole via trade, which I think is what you're implying. If they could use him to get a starter (part of a package of course), that would make sense, but is he that kind of prospect who could headline such a deal? I doubt it.

Joe (Philadelphia)

Will Matt Moore take a step forward this year?

Klaw
  (1:42 PM)

I thought he was taking it right when he got hurt last year, so I guess it would be consistent to say yes, I think he'll do so this year.

Kevin (Chicago)

The Cubs are taking quite a PR hit after losing out on Tanaka. How much would he have helped them when you consider their overall plan, the fact they can contend in 2016 at the earliest and that he wanted the opt-out?

Klaw
  (1:46 PM)

That's stupid. Who's driving that narrative? They were outbid by a team with more money and a greater need for Tanaka in 2014. Of course they didn't get him.

Duck (DelMarVa)

Why do former Orioles like Brian Roberts gush on and on about the Yankees when they sign with them? Doesn't he understand how the Orioles fan base feels disrespected?

Klaw
  (1:47 PM)

Disrespected? I'll send you some tissues.

Bill (Seattle)

When do you expect DJ Peterson to make his appearance in the mlb? And also what position will he be playing?

Klaw
  (1:47 PM)

Late 2015, first base.

Dan (New York)

Tanaka supposedly has one of the best splitters in the world, and in your writeup on the signing you gave it a 60 on the 20-80 scale. Could you please give me a little more insight into how the scale works--what is an example of an 80? I read a 60 as being significantly above average, but not best in the world elite.

Klaw
  (1:48 PM)

He doesn't have "one of the best splitters in the world." It's a plus pitch. I talked to a number of international scouts, some of whom liked Tanaka more than I did, but no one called his splitter an 80 or a 70.

Michael (Toronto)

Abreu will finish with UNDER or OVER 33 home runs?

Klaw
  (1:48 PM)

Wow, I liked Bobby as a player, but he's never had THAT kind of power.

Gus (Boston)

If the MLBPA is one of the most powerful union in the country, why have they not tried to do anything about their members being hurt by the draft pick compensation? The NFL has the franchise tag which acts in almost the same manner, yet many players will accept the tag with language in their contract stating that the team can not franchise them again the following year. Is it against the CBA for someone like, Stephen Drew, from signing a 1 year deal with the Sox and saying that they can not tender him a contract and assign draft pick comp the following season?

Klaw
  (1:50 PM)

They actually did try to do that in the last (current) CBA, which cut down on that compensation significantly. I would guess the next CBA would cut it further or just wipe it out. If we want to work the draft for the benefit of teams that can't afford to (choose not to) retain departing stars, tie it to team revenues and leave the players out of it.

Kevin (Chicago)

Some columnists are firing on the Cubs (Haugh/Rosenbloom of the Trib, Wittenmeyer of the Sun Times. Tenor of the fans' comments is generally that of disgust as well.

Klaw
  (1:51 PM)

So ignore them. They're out of their depth on this one.

Dennis (Peoria)

What are your thoughts on Jorge Alfaro?

Klaw
  (1:51 PM)

The prospect package comes out next week.

Gus (Boston)

"No pitcher who's jerked back and forth like that ever seems to work out." Jenry Mejia another one of these guys?

Klaw
  (1:52 PM)

Yep. He looked really good last year, so there's hope, but history says he'll be a reliever if anything because of how he was mishandled.

Bob (Detroit)

Klaw, the big fear I'm hearing about Tanaka is the # of innings he's pitched in Japan. What's your opinion of pitch count limits? I realize there could be a PED angle here, but it seems that players are in better shape now than in the past which seems to be a solid argument against limits.

Klaw
  (1:53 PM)

He hasn't thrown an absurd number of innings. He's had some very high pitch counts, and he missed a month in 2012 with a sore shoulder. Those are legitimate concerns.

Corey (NYC)

What should the Sox do with Mookie Betts assuming he continues his current trajectory? make him a Zobrist-like superutility, change positions, trade bait?

Klaw
  (1:53 PM)

I'd at least let him perform like that for another year before doing anything rash. He's pretty special, and you don't want to just trade him because you think you're all set at positions he can play in the majors.

Gene Mullett (Columbus, OH)

At what minor league level do you see the most games? Do you evaluate everyone even if a game only has a couple of prospects & the teams are mostly comprised of org depth?

Klaw
  (1:54 PM)

It varies by year, but with the Carolina League (high-A) right here I'll probably see that league the most. I don't waste time evaluating org guys - you don't want to hear about them and I'd rather bear down on the guys you do care about.

Bill (Bill's Place)

The only thing dumber than caring about the Olympics is caring about the Hall of Fame. And the only thing dumber than those two is the early sacrifice bunt. How did Managers get the idea that giving up one of the 27 outs outweighs the chance to maybe drive in a guy from second?

Klaw
  (1:55 PM)

I care about the Olympics because I hope every gay athlete in the world decides to go and flout Russia's homophobic laws as openly as possible.

Bryan (SLC)

Keith, do you believe Jonathan Gray and/or Eddie Butler can make an impact with the Rockies THIS year? It's a rotation that lacks any sort of strikeout pitcher, so they could certainly use guys with their skill set, but would it be at any sort of developmental cost?

Klaw
  (1:56 PM)

I do, Butler more likely, but Gray isn't that far off either. For both guys, the stuff is there, it's more about command, setting hitters up, finer points rather than waiting for velocity or physical development or mechanical changes.

Tom (Philly)

I'm heading to Barbuzzo for the first time next week. Have you been there...any recommendations?

Klaw
  (1:56 PM)

Yes, the roasted beet salad and the salted caramel budino were amazing.

Matt (IL)

Why can't I be upset with Cubs owners and front office? Heaven forbid these high paid individuals be held accountable for a terrible on field product and no plan to contend in the short term.

Klaw
  (1:57 PM)

You can be as upset as you want. You'd be nuts, but I doubt that will stop you.

Bob (Detroit)

To follow up, what's your opinion of pitch count limits? I know guys like Nolan Ryan are adamently opposed to it. Criticism from a freak of nature or legit point?

Klaw
  (1:58 PM)

Opposition to pitch counts makes no sense - surely there is a number, say, 150, we can all agree is just too much. I oppose the use of strict pitch counts as a replacement for watching the damn game to see, hey, our guy has lost 2 mph, he's not locating his fastball, his delivery is coming apart, maybe we should get someone up in the pen? You know, that's what minor league managers are paid to do.

Andres (GA)

Any recommendations for eating out in Orlando? Heading there next week.

Klaw
  (1:59 PM)

4 Rivers BBQ, Ravenous Pig.

Joe (NYC)

Your thoughts on the Grantland situation and the Kahrl and Simmons response?

Klaw
  (2:01 PM)

I thought Bill's was excellent in how he owned the error, described the process failure, and named names. But Christina's piece was the must-read, and focused on the two main problems with the original piece (which I don't believe should ever have been greenlighted once the focus changed): A subject's sexual orientation or gender identity is none of our business, and outing the subject to an investor was an enormous ethical violation, not to mention just a really lousy thing to do to another human being. The silver lining is that the controversy got such a wide airing outside of the sports media world that if a situation comparable to this one arises in another sphere, it is unthinkable that the writer and his/her editors won't be familiar with the issue and will handle it more appropriately.

Steve (Chicago)

Do you invalidate Micah Johnson's big 2013 because he wasn't at an age appropriate level in low A?

Klaw
  (2:02 PM)

Invalidate is too strong a word. I discount the numbers of players who are old for their leagues, and would lean more heavily on scouting reports than stat lines.

Brian (NYC)

agree we got the top three in the Top Chef finale? (Though I would have liked Stephanie as the 4th).

Klaw
  (2:02 PM)

Yep. Recap going up shortly after the chat ends.

Scott (Westminster, CO)

Any examples of anyone that did have a 70 or 80 splitter?

Klaw
  (2:02 PM)

Mike Scott. (cough)

Keanan (Eugene)

SSS but James Paxton looked pretty good as a starter for the M's. What is the determining factor on whether he stays in the rotation or becomes a late-inning reliever?

Klaw
  (2:03 PM)

Fastball command more than anything else.

Jason (Cleveland)

Syndergaard>Walker?

Klaw
  (2:04 PM)

The prospect rankings will be up next week.

Tom (Chicago)

Is Josh Vitters a non prospect right now? He is about the same age as Olt, and actually performed better at AAA when healthy.

Klaw
  (2:04 PM)

Vitters is a non-prospect. Olt is a who the hell knows prospect.

CC (Atlanta)

What was your projection for Kei Igawa back in '06-'07?

Klaw
  (2:05 PM)

Thought he might be OK in a big NL park but was a terrible signing for the Yankees. Flyball guy with fringy stuff.

Kelvin (AZ)

Favorite version of Ticket to Ride?

Klaw
  (2:05 PM)

Europe.

Jim (Westerville, OH)

According to Forbes, the Cubs are the 4th most valuable team in baseball and the most profitable (for 2012 at least). That is why Cubs fans are not content with the lack of resources dedicated to the big league club. A Tampa Bay/Oakland type rebuild just doesn't fly in a big market.

Klaw
  (2:05 PM)

If it works, the fans won't complain. Some crowds just aren't that wise.

Eddy (Miami)

How do I break someone's argument of saying elite pitchers aren't worth big money because they play 1/5 of their teams games?

Klaw
  (2:06 PM)

You could point out that the person arguing that is obviously not a baseball fan. If so, he would realize that the elite pitcher is involved in about 30 at bats per game he starts, while an elite position player would be lucky to get 25 at bats in that same five-game span.

Corey (NYC)

Vazquez next season as the starter and Swihart in '16? and if you have the personnel, would you do a C platoon or try and stick with a starter and backup ?

Klaw
  (2:07 PM)

Catcher platoons are great ideas if the pitchers don't balk at throwing to someone different each time out. Vazquez could catch in the majors right now if defense was all that mattered. Swihart probably needs a good two more years of development, so your plan makes some sense.

Tony (Chicago)

Keith. Is Soler a top 50 prospect still, with the rough season he had last year?

Klaw
  (2:08 PM)

He didn't have a rough season. He got hurt. Not the same thing.

Klaw
  (2:09 PM)

Time to get back to writing. Thanks for all the questions. The next chat will be Wednesday at 1 pm, the day the top 100 is released. If that changes I'll announce it on Twitter and my Facebook page.