Coming sliding down the Internet like butter drippin' off a hot biscuit ... it's Klawchat.
What do you think of the Simmons deal?
Really like it. Seems like good value even if he never improves, but the low BABIP and very high contact rate give at least some reason to believe he'll hit for more average going forward. My only question was the lack of an escalator clause for 2015 - if he misses the super two cutoff, he still gets the full $3 million.
Reactions to the Ben Wetzler story?
All we know is what Aaron Fitt reported for BA (great job there, by the way). The Phillies turned in two players to the NCAA and claimed that those players violated the rule that prohibits players from using agents to handle negotiations with professional teams. We don't know if the claims are true, why the Phillies took the highly unusual step of reporting this, or why the NCAA has sat around with its thumb up ... I mean, with the investigation on its desk for three months without ruling on Wetzler.
What we do know, for sure, is this: Reporting players to the NCAA is not in the best business interests of the Philadelphia Phillies. As an employee of any entity you have a responsibility to act in the best fiduciary interests of your employer. The Phillies gain nothing from this - no savings, no leverage - and potentially damaged relationships with players, agents, and schools as a result. The move could prove extremely damaging. And Amaro referring questions to Wolever isn't much better. You're the GM, and the buck stops with you.
Are you a believer that Machado's doubles will turn into HRs?
Well, probably not all of them.
Not understanding the part about agents not being allowed to handle negotiations with the pro teams. Isn't that what they're supposed to do?
If your agent talks to the team, instead of advising you and having you talk to the team, then you are in violation of one of the stupidest, most anti-player, anti-capitalist NCAA rules and can lose your eligibility or be suspended.
Is the part of the story saying "every draft pick has an advisor/agent" even though it is not allowed true?
Very true. Other than college seniors pretty much every kid who gets drafted has some kind of agent or adviser.
Devon Travis.......This is the widest spread I have seen in years between the prospect rankings. You seem to be extremely negative on him.....what are his shortcomings?
I'm not negative on him. I see an older player who beat up younger competition, has a bad swing, and doesn't have power or speed. If I saw all of that, and called him a prospect, you could say I was being positive or optimistic, but how would that make any sense?
Re Wetzler -I don't know all of the rules regarding the draft, but I know that Seniors without eligibility are not bound by the same sign as date as those who can go back to school. If Wetzler is ruled ineligible, would the Philles then retain his rights longer?
No, that ship sailed when he returned to school. What he may have to do is go play in an independent league, as it's probably too late to switch to an NAIA school.
Speaking of which, the NAIA should welcome every kid with an NCAA violation hanging over his head. As long as you didn't commit a violent crime, come on over.
Totally understand your Paxton concerns, but you have to admit he was pretty impressive in his 4 starts last year. Included starts at Detroit and St. Louis. Can you at least admit there's potential there to be a solid 3?
Four starts is an aborted sneeze. Blink and you'll miss them.
Do Diamondbacks fans have reason to be excited about Justin Williams? The numbers/tools look like they could be really special.
Has huge power, no position, and a long way to go to learn to hit. The "tools" you speak of - I'm not even sure where you saw them - but there's basically one that matters here, the power.
What do you think of the Cuban SS/2B Diaz? Odd that the Cardinals are after him?
I don't know much, other than hearing from a few people that he might be a utility guy not a starter.
Kyle Zimmer has yet to start his throwing program and experience discomfort in his shoulder during his offseason workouts. What's the deal there?
My understanding is that they pushed back his return date and now won't shut him down due to an innings cap in August or so. It's not ideal, but they keep checking out the shoulder and there's no structural damage.
Ok so Paxton should just hang em up I take it. You could throw in some analysis instead of focusing on one aspect of a question and ridiculing it.
I have written about Paxton many, many times, and you still choose to ignore that and say that I "have to admit" that he was "pretty impressive" in four starts. So it's quite clear to me that you are not interested in my opinion on the matter, because you want to hear something else.
If your Ben Wetzler, don't you just sue the NCAA for interfering with your right to counsel? Andy Oliver won on those grounds a few years back, though the NCAA just bought him out so they could keep ensuring players do have access to advocates when they bargain with multi-billion dollar corporations...
Yes, but that requires money. Notice that the NCAA doesn't go after players from wealthy families. That's not a coincidence.
Assume that Dominic Smith reaches the upper end of his projection and is a complete success. Is it conceivable that he has a great Power/Patience ceiling (like Carlos Delgado, for instance), or would he top out in the John Olerud range with a good OBP, maybe 25 HR, plenty of doubles?
Well, Olerud never hit 25 HR in a season, and played during a high-offense era too, so that's not exactly a good comp. I think Smith has easy plus power and could end up with grade-70 power, 25-30 bombs in peak years.
A lot of prospect evaluators are very pessimistic about Smith's power. What do you see that they don't?
Do you think any of Mason Williams, Nick Williams, and Tyler Naquin will become MLB regulars?
Probably, maybe, and probably not.
Kudos to you for referencing a Primus song.
Well, it was that or Wynona's Big Brown Klawchat, and I didn't think that was very flattering.
Is Jacob Gatewood going to be a SS in your opinion?
Early reports from the Mets camp are that they will look to keep Eric Young's speed in the lineup even if it means sliding Chris Young to Center and displacing Juan Lagares. On a scale of one to investing with Bernie Madoff how dumb is that idea?
It's approaching "vaccines cause autism" dumb.
With a highly regarded pitching coach in Mickey Callaway who reworked both Kazmir and Jimenez, couldn't Bauer benefit from extended time with him and reach the ceiling he once was projected to have? I'm cautiously optimistic.
You'd like to think so. Cleveland may have a gem there in Callaway, someone who allows them to go sign or trade for out-of-favor pitchers who need delivery cleanup.
With all these pre-arb signings by the Braves it relly looks like Heyward wont be part of this team in three years if he blossoms. If his numbers stay the same what is he worth on the open market at 25 yrs old?
I think he'll end up a $20MM/year guy. That assumes he stays healthy until then, but I think the market will pay him for his age and potential even if he hasn't put it all together by then.
What is the NCAAs justification for not allowing players to seek professional advice? This seems absolutely ridiculous and morally wrong given the fact that many of these players are making career and life-altering decisions. Seems like an indefensible policy.
They answer to no one. When you're dealing with a large, corrupt, monopolistic entity, the only way to rein them in is to call upon a larger, equally corrupt, monopolistic entity: The federal government. The NCAA should lose its nonprofit status and be forced to break up a la Standard Oil. This will never happen, by the way.
Do you think Maikel Franco will end up being a 3rd baseman or a 1st baseman?
I think he'd require a lot of work at third, but it sounds like the Phillies believe he's going to end up at first.
You're obviously still high on Heyward. At what point do we just acknowledge that he is what he is now... an above average player that gets hurt a lot? He was hyped as an MVP talent but has never shown it at this level. Entering year 4, what makes you think he still has that? I do not.
He's 24 years old and put up a 6-fWAR season in 2012. Believing he'll never improve is a contrarian view, one that doesn't seem strongly based in an objective look at his body and skill set.
Id appreciate thoughts on the homer bailey extension. I haven't seen a write up from you on it yet.
Meh. More likely to work out for the player than the team.
I see what youre saying about the Simmons deal, but why the rush? Why not let him play another year or 2 and show it again or improvement? Even if you end up paying him more, youre saving 7ish mil the next 1 or 2 years
I'm not sure I follow that logic. The money you might save this year and next will just be given to him down the road - and the team might prefer to spend some of that money now to avoid an exploding payroll in 2019 that they can't absorb. (I'm just speculating on that.)
Danny Hultzen is throwing from 90 feet 3x per week and is moving to 120 feet soon. Is this aggressive since he just had surgery at the end of last year on his shoulder?
That's a question for Stephania Bell. I am not qualified to address it - I don't even know exactly what was in his shoulder.
And if he doesn't develop a curve, which he hasn't yet despite years or trying? He's got a plus-plus change, but the fastball is just above-average - it plays up because he commands it so well. If you want to pretend he has all of these pitches and skills he doesn't currently have, then yes, you can claim he'll be the RH Kershaw, but I try to live a little more in the real world.
Is there any optimism to Chris Owings developing patience at the plate? It's obvious SSS (9.8% BB%), but I watched nearly every one of his ABs and he really didn't look like much of a "free swinger" to me. Should I proceed with cautious optimism or just accept SSS noise?
He's not a "free swinger" in the sense of the guy who can't lay off pitches way out of the zone, or flails hopelessly at the slider low and away. He's a free swinger in the sense of a guy who doesn't run deep counts, who attacks a lot of pitches he can hit but can't always drive, and may be better off trying to get himself into better counts while taking the occasional walk.
Thoughts on Mitch Nay - seeing him on some top-10 Jays prospect lists.
I don't think he can stay at third base, and in that case, he'll have to exceed projections for his bat to be an above-average regular.
How are you able to scout effectively here in Delaware? This area stinks for baseball talent.
I have a car. And there's an airport 20 minutes away.
Always appreciate your insight. I know you've been high on Gray and Butler, but do they really have a chance to succeed in CO? I'm having a hard time convincing myself.
If they can't succeed there, I don't think anyone can.
I know you're not a big fan of multi-year deals for relievers. Do you feel any differently about Kimbrel's deal?
I do not. The history of relievers not named "Mariano" is pretty dismal. Very few relievers in the modern usage paradigm have managed to have even five good, healthy years in their careers. Atlanta has essentially bet that Kimbrel will have six of them in his first seven. As good as he's been, I wouldn't lock him up for four years. B.J. Ryan was worth nearly 9 fWAR in the three years before his first blowout.
I'm down with KlawChat!
Thank you, Mr. Xander Bogaerts.
Keith, as a Yankees fan, I'm looking at our farm system, and despite the fact that we're ranked at 20 by you (accurate in my opinion), I feel like we have a lot of potential in the system, with guys who could have some bounce-back years like Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez and Manny Banuelos, along with some possible breakout prospects like Judge and Torrens. Is it just me, or could the Yankees very easily be a top 10 farm system next year if things go more right than wrong?
How about top 15 next year? I can't imagine everything goes right - all the injured players get healthy again and play well at once.
Do you recall a team like the Braves that have been so fiscally tight going bonkers out of nowhere? We're used to dealing away all our top guys before they get expensive. Another reason to love the stadium move.
The Marlins. That didn't last, though.
Gray and Butler "lack developed secondary pitches?" OK, Sparky. This chat might be a little beyond you.
Can you adequately scout a player from looking at video? What does being there do for your analysis?
Couple of answers. One, if I were with a team, there's no way I'd rely just on video for anything. If we're taking a guy who isn't a senior sign or a similar, late-round/low-bonus guy, we're seeing him live, a few times, preferably more than one evaluator.. Two, in my current job, I can do a lot with video, but will always talk to multiple scouts who've seen the player to make sure I've got a more accurate picture to give you guys. The video can help me describe the player, and I might see things I do/don't like, but video alone is not sufficient.
Delaware is too small for you, Mr. Klaw. I think Texas suits you!
I have a daughter. No way I'd move to Texas.
For all your readers who do not understand SSS, I present young Mr. Albers with the Twins last year. He was fantastic at the start; now he is no longer even with the team.
Remember Zach Duke's first half-season in the majors? That worked out well.
What do you think of eating paleo?
You can have my carbohydrates when you pry them out of my cold, dead, chocolate-covered hands.
Didn't Johan survive on mostly a just-above-average fastball and a plus-plus change? I know he throws a slider too, but that was always a third offering at best.
His peak years were built around a better FB and CH than Wacha (or almost anyone in MLB right now) had. That's among the best changeups I have ever seen, maybe the best ever from a LHP. It was fun trying to scout him and playing the "can I pick up the changeup even a quarter of the time" game.
Do you think Skaggs is closer to what he was scouted at in 2012 or what we saw last year? Will we see it this year?
Watch his delivery this spring (I hope to see him next month, although with just two weeks in AZ I'll have to pick my spots). If he's getting good extension again, striding longer toward the plate, finishing over his front side, then buy. That's what he was like in 2012.
Who won the Nats/Rays trade? thanks.
Neither side "won." There was value going both ways.
Do you think Brandon Maurer eer figures out how to pitch to left handers? He's awfully young still but last year was brutal for him as a starter. What's his ceiling if he does?
Had four pitches the year before in the minors, but was reduced to two in the big leagues. Some was command, some was the change being way less effective against MLB hitters. I think it's possible he finds that third pitch to narrow the platoon gap, with a fourth starter ceiling.
Mr. Law. In your "Top 10 Prospects" for the Mets, you opined that "Syndergaard will likely see significant time in the majors" in 2014, and (as you know) you ranked him 24 on your Top 100 prospects list. Then, he was not mentioned at all in your "Top 20 Impact Prospects," even as a "player to watch." Why did not make an appearance in the "Impact" article? Did something change, either with him or the Mets' situation? Or was everyone else in the "impact" article just more likely to have a 2014, um, impact? Thanks for the article and chat. Say baby? Say baby?
Between the Mets' rotation being fairly full at the moment and the word that he'll have his innings capped at something like 140, I don't see him getting significant time in the majors after all.
Re Wacha and his secondary offerings: in your experiences, does having a veteran pitcher/pitching coach who throws a plus-plus pitch translate to teaching that pitch to other guys in the organization? i.e. Wainwright throws one of the best righthanded CB in the majors, based on similar body type, shouldn't it be easier for him to teach a curve to Wacha?
I believe the curveball is in the wrist. You're born with it or you're not. Body type is irrelevant here - any breaking ball comes from the wrist and the arm slot, not the size of a guy's torso or legs.
Is the durability issue for relievers directly related to their usage? 3 games in a row, even in gimme save situations. What would your ideal usage pattern for relievers be? Hardly any back to backs? 2 inning "saves"? (though I hate the save stat) I think its lead to this terrible usage pattern. No team should bring in their best reliever to face a teams worst 3 hitters with a 3 run lead, but since relievers are comp'ed on it, no manager wouldn't.
My ideal usage would be about 40 appearances a year, never back to back, multiple innings where possible, so 100 or so a year. You can't just put every guy into that structure and hold him to those limits, but you can at least aim to use your best relievers that way, with a long man or two on staff, and a few other relievers you treat as more "disposable."
Amaro Jr says Phillies owe it to their fans to not rebuild but continue to try to contend. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being genius) how do you rate this approach / philosophy?
Well, ticking off all the amateurs in the draft will ensure they don't rebuild, I guess.
Did the Pirates make the right decision this off-season by being quiet? Was it smart to likely take a step back to keep the prospects and money? Or should they have pushed it a bit more?
I'd rather see this than drunken-sailor spending based on one year of success. They could have addressed first base more, but giving any of the good FA starters four years and coughing up a pick would have been insane.
You've mentioned that Yordano Ventura might have trouble in a starting role because his fastball is straight. Do you think throwing a fastball that is "less straight" is a learnable skill?
Fastball life usually comes from grip or arm slot. You can also get plane from being on top of the ball at release and from a higher starting point (i.e., being tall). If I could pitch, even if I had a high 3/4 slot, I'd very likely be flyball- and homer-prone because I'm only 5'6". That said, a pitcher can be 6'10" and lack plane because he doesn't get on top of the ball enough, or his slot is too low.
Do you like Jimenez for the O's? Good deal?
I like the salary, not sold on giving him four years, hate giving up the pick, really like the fit of the player on that team if we forget the cost.
Keith, have kicked this around w/ a few friends, wanted your thoughts. Is there anything to stop a amateur player, say carlos rodon, from signing with NPB, under the understanding that he'd be posted after the season, basically putting him on the open market and yielding several times what his draft bonus will be?
Yes, there's an agreement between the two leagues not to poach each other's amateur players. Also, I'm not certain such a player could even avoid the draft without ceding his citizenship.
Are there any out of the closet minor league players that you know of, that the media hasn't reported on simply because they aren't likely to be stars or even major leaguers?
No. That day will come soon, though. If I knew of such a player, I might tell you I knew, but would never tell anyone who it was.
I am the minors guru of my league. To me Dan Vogelboch is a top 20 hitting prospect. He has light tower power. Why no love for him?
Well, guru, he's not that kind of hitter. Hitting and hitting for power are two different things. There's also the part about him being a DH, which drastically limits his value on the field and as a trade asset for his NL employer.
Keith, who are you most looking forward to laying eyes on who you haven't seen in person yet? (This question only relates to MLB players and prospects.)
More second looks, or longer looks, than first looks this spring, I think. I want to stop by Rockies camp a bit, hopefully to see Butler and Dahl some more - haven't really seen enough of either guy - as well as Tapia. I'll definitely go to White Sox camp early to see Abreu. Never seen Urias, all I've got there is every scout who's seen him telling me if anything I had him too low on my list, so I'd like to get him as well.
Do the A's need to overhaul their scouting and drafting approach? Looking at their 25 and 40 Man Roster they don't draft and develop the talent at rate that seems sustainable. Most of their young talent was acquired via trade
I think they already did that - last two drafts have looked very different, and the early results are more promising too.
Sox rotation, who do you think takes Peavy's spot next season - Barnes, Owens, Webster, Ranaudo, someone else?
Do you think there will be any negative impact on the Phillies from yesterday's story?
I do. See above.
Klaw, just to clarify. If the player was out of the closet, but it simply wasn't national news, you would tell us who it was, right? I mean, if he is out of the closet its not really a secret.
If the player was OK with it, I would reveal it. Otherwise, no way. It's not our business unless he wants it to be. I'm not interested in making news at the expense of a player.
Any thoughts of stopping by Twins camp at all this spring to see Buxton and Sano amongst the big boys?
I'll see them in the Eastern League this spring.
If a player in the minors is cut from a team and signs for a different team, what happens in regards to service time? Does the new team still control him for years?
Sort of. A player who's released and signs a second contract would have to be added to the 40-man after that season for the team to retain his rights. Then the normal stuff applies - option years, service time, etc.
I have a daughter under 1 yr old, meaning she can't get the measles vaccine yet, and we live near Berkely and occasionally take BART. If my daughter gets measles, is it OK if I track that guy down and slug him?
I can't condone violence. But I won't turn you in to the CDC either.
Drew Ward getting rave reviews... prospect for you yet?
Getting rave reviews ... from his own coaching staff. Get used to that. Happens a lot this time of year.
You planning to check out the upgrades made to the Mariners' Peoria complex? They sound pretty sweet...
Probably. I'll go out there with a rough to-do list, but I'll mostly make plans no more than a day in advance, looking for good matchups or days where I can be more productive. I wish I had the whole month out there, but family first...
Folks around here are talking about Henry Owens as a young Randy Johnson. You're high on him, but not ~that~ high. What's a more realistic best-case comp? Mark Mulder? (Terrible news about him today, btw.)
I really dislike comps, not in the least because some idiot can say "Henry Owens is Randy Johnson/Clayton Kershaw/Sandy Koufax!" and then it sticks to the kid like epoxy. I like Owens a lot. Comping him to a guy who regularly threw 100 mph, or a guy with a screaming yellow hammer of a curveball, isn't helping anyone. Owens looks to me like he's got a good chance to develop into a number 2.
Keith I ate a second portion of pasta at the buffet last night. How absurd is it that I need to report this to the NCAA?
The thought police are the food police. Don't make any phone calls while in front of your television.
I'm checking out Stephanie Cmar's pop-up donut shop this weekend and will report back. Did you hear both she and Kristen left their positions at Lynch's restaurants?
I did. Not surprised on Kristen - with the money she won, she could easily open her own place.
When are you going to rate Gray as a better prospect than Appel? Since the beginning of the college season in 2013 Gray has blown Appel away in all stats and obvious stuff. Your refusal to change despite the obvious is a disservice to the readers of your column expecting an independent expert analysis.
I had Appel 11 and Gray 12. If you're that worked up about it, just switch them in your mind. The gap between any two players in adjacent spots on my list is too small to argue about.
Read something the other day saying Giolito had this on his scouting report: 80 FB, 80 CB, 70 CH.. Is that accurate?
No. That would be probably the best pitcher in MLB history. It's a real misuse of the scale.
Going back to Zimmer and pushing him back to avoid shutting him down in August - when would you say he's in the Royals rotation?
Assuming the shoulder thing doesn't become even more serious? I'd say mid-August or so. But all bets are off until he's back on a mound.
I hated, speaking somewhat flippantly here, putting a guy with a shoulder issue that high on my rankings. All reports from KC were that he was fine in instructs and expected to be ready to go in March, and the quality of the stuff was way too good for me not to put him high. It's an ace's repertoire, and he's a great athlete who should be able to continue to make small improvements.
Regarding Kurt's question --- sounds like Pedro Martinez in his prime?
No. Pedro didn't have that kind of CB and didn't pitch with an 80 FB.
Come on klaw please answer so if you had to give me a top 5 draft picks for this June draft how would it go? Thanks
I'll give you Rodon 1, and I might say Kolek 2 right now. After that, who knows? Way too early to say. I've even said too much already.
That's all for this week. Thank you as always for all of the questions. If you're in Charlottesville, I'll be at the UVA games Friday and Saturday, and am still planning to be at Vanderbilt the same two days next weekend. Hope to see some of you at those games.