Chat with Rob Neyer
Neyer began his chat with little notion of breaking ESPN.com's all-time chat record. However, as the chat went along he felt good, and the hours just kept moving along. As Jeremy Green's five-hour, eight-minute record approached, it was clear that something special was brewing. In the end, Rob easily reached the record and then smashed right through it, finally finishing with 6:37 in the books.
Who's next? Stay tuned...
Neyer's latest book, Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders, is now available in your better bookstores.
Rob Neyer (12:04 PM)
Big doings in D.C. today, but all we care about is the game with the sticks and the medium-sized, non-dimpled, leather-covered spheres. So let's get ramblin', ramblers, and I'll be here as long as you are.
Derek (Ann Arbor)
Hey Rob, good afternoon. My question is why Andrew Miller is not getting some of the same recognition as the other elite pitching prospects? He is still a year a two away but with the Randy Johnson like delivery he is a top of the line pitcher who gets no respect.
Rob Neyer (12:05 PM)
Didn't you know, Derek? There is no such thing as a pitching prospect. Shortens to TINSTAAPP, and you'll hear a lot more about it if you stick around for the next few months.
Mark (Bangor, PA)
Rob, is there any statistical evidence of players players performing better in contract years? So if Westbrook doesn't get a spring deal this might be a 20 win season?
Rob Neyer (12:07 PM)
I just read a study last week, suggesting that marquee pitchers do perform better in that last year of a contract . . . but not a lot better. This effect has, I suspect, been significantly overblown.
best pitching performance you ever watched?
Rob Neyer (12:08 PM)
In person? I saw Jose Jimenez throw a no-hitter in Phoenix eight years ago, but I think I'd have to go with Roger Clemens' one-hitter in the playoffs against Seattle.
Hey Rob! What's for lunch? I'm hungry!
Rob Neyer (12:09 PM)
Sorry buddy, but I'm still thinking about breakfast. And it'll have to be some sort of "bar" because I don't have time to pour cereal and milk while trying to be "infotaining".
What do you think of Howard's raise? Did philly give him what he deserved, all things considered?
Rob Neyer (12:10 PM)
I don't think players "deserve" any more than is contractually owed them. The Phillies gave Howard roughly 550K more than they had to, which is fine. We'll see if Howard is as generous when he's got the hammer.
Among all the other things I need to worry about as a Cubs fan, do I need to worry about Prior's low velocity yesterday? Or will this improve with more work?
Rob Neyer (12:13 PM)
Obviously I'm pulling for him, as I pull for all players who aren't obviously bad guys. But I'll be surprised if Prior wins 50 more games in his career.
Bill (Lawrence, Kansas)
Did you read Murray Chass' recent article in the NY Times essentially blaming you and similar folks like you (smart, well read, don't believe in magic or unicorns) for ruining baseball for the rest of us?
Rob Neyer (12:13 PM)
I did. Shortly afterward, I flayed myself with a cat 'o' nine tails. Then I took a hot shower and haven't thought about Murray Chass since.
Max (Glenview, Illinois)
Given the heat Kenny Williams took in the offseason, is there a chance the White Sox can return to competitive form with the talent they will be adding to the bullpen and with a rebound from their four returning starters?
Rob Neyer (12:14 PM)
We can't consider the Freddy Garcia-less White Sox favorites or even co-favorites, but it's not at all hard to imagine them winning 90 games. I think the best story of the season will be the AL Central race.
Everyone knows the Giants overpaid for Zito, but it is the length of the deal that is criticized, not the amount. In seven years, this deal may look terrible, but after this years market, if Zito performs to his career average the next 4 seasons, it looks like a good deal at that point, right?
Rob Neyer (12:16 PM)
Sure. The problem with your supposition is the notion that he's at all *likely* to do that. In two of Zito's last three seasons, he'd been just a bit better than average, and he's not been excellent since 2002.
So if the white sox are not co-favorites, who do you see as the favorites in the central? Detroit repeat (or were they the wild card)? Unless Garza is Liriano and Bonser is Radke (and Silva and Ponson eat each other)?
Rob Neyer (12:20 PM)
Ah, a fat joke. You know exactly how to tickle my fance, jon. Anyway, my co-favorites are the Tigers and Indians, with the Twins and Sox right behind. If you want to discuss these teams further, we've got all day...
Enjoy your work. Wish you could stop using the word "objective" for why numbers show why one player is "better" than another though. As you know, "better" is a subjective term that could easily be replaced by "better at...." "Objective," much like stainless steel, waterproof motorcycle gloves, and platonic solids is nice in theory but doesn't really exist any more than unicorns do.
Rob Neyer (12:21 PM)
l have no idea what you're saying, Ted. But I like the way you say it.
Taz (San Jose, CA)
Hey Rob, how much stock should one put in, in 1.1 innings that Hughes pitched in his first ST outing?
Rob Neyer (12:22 PM)
I don't put stock in anything that happens in March. Until a manager actually announces that somebody's got a job, and most of those questions aren't answered until the last weekend.
Alf (Cambridge, MA)
Robby- Are you as excited about the Alex Gordon era as I am? Not even the Royals can screw this up, right? Right?!?!
Rob Neyer (12:23 PM)
I think it's too early to measure him for his Hall of Fame plaque, but I'll be surprised if he's not an excellent player at some point soon.
Rob, True or False? Ryan Braun will be the Brewers everyday 3rd baseman by the All-Star break?
Rob Neyer (12:24 PM)
The All-Star break? How about Memorial Day? Opening Day? If Braun's healthy, he might as well take over right now.
How do the Indians get to be co-favorites with the Tigers in the AL Central? The Tigers clearly have the better pitching staff and have a pretty good lineup as well. The Indians might have a slightly better lineup but it doesn't seem to be as much of a difference as the advantage the Tigers have in pitching
Rob Neyer (12:29 PM)
Does Bonderman take things up yet another notch? Does Verlander add a few dozen strikeouts? Maybe, and probably. I like the Tigers. But last season just about everybody on the roster -- all the way down to Vance Wilson and Jamie Walker -- performed at or above, or *well* above -- their established performance levels.
don't forget the indians have no bullpen. Many of the AL central games come down to the 7th 8th and 9th innings, due to the power in the White Sox, tigers, indians, and twins lineups, and the indians have the worst bullpen out of all them
Rob Neyer (12:32 PM)
Dave, I'll bet you shiny nickel that the Indians do *not* finish the season with the worst bullpen among those four clubs. Yes, they were bad last year, but 1) the year before they were excellent, and c) anyway, they revamped the pen this winter. The rotation is the bigger question mark.
So, if the AL Central has 4 solid teams that could potentially win the division, will the 5th team (Royals), playing nearly half of their games against the other 4, possibly be on the way to more than 110 losses?
Rob Neyer (12:33 PM)
Nah. Those four solid teams aren't that much better, collectively, than they were a year ago. Might even be just a tad worse. The Royals won't lose 110 games, or even 100. Not this year.
Rob, upon examining the White Sox it seems to me that they're simply not very good. Their offense is bound to regress (especially Dye and Thome, and to some extent Konerko, Pierzynski, and Crede), and this won't be negated by whatever "improvement" they get in LF and CF. Similarly, their "top 4" pitchers PECOTA ERAs are 4.83, 4.96, 4.50, and 4.77 for B, C, V, and G respectively. This team seems more likely to win under 81 games than over 90...
Rob Neyer (12:35 PM)
Hard to argue with you, Peter. I like Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen, which I think colors my analysis of the club's future. A fundamental question we might ask is, "Which key member of the roster is likely to play *better* in 2007?" And with the possible exceptions of Buehrle and Uribe, it's hard to come up with names.
I love your chats! We really have learned a lot about the AL CENTRAL?
Rob Neyer (12:38 PM)
I feel your love, Mike, and it only makes me stronger. We've hardly even mentioned the Twins, but fortunately we've got plenty of time...
Xander (Los Angeles)
Is it true - if you include their respective posting fees- that the Red Sox are actually spending more money than the Yankees this year? Me and some buddies have been doing the math and it seems that way...
Rob Neyer (12:41 PM)
I'd love to see your math, X-Man. But it woudln't surprise me. How instructive is this, though? Because the posting fees are one-time expenses, which means next year the Sox will presumably be well below the Yanks again.
About those Twins...can't you say something similar as to the White Sox? Who, besides Jason Kubel, will play better? Things don't look good, ESPECIALLY if Ponson, Ortiz, and Silva all begin the year in the rotation. There's no Liriano to come to this rescue this year.
Rob Neyer (12:44 PM)
Better in 2007: Kubel, Silva, White, Bonser, Garza . . . Yes, it's a fairly short list, which is why I do have the Twins a tick behind the Tigers and Indians. I promise you, Peter, there is an underlying logic here. Usually.
If you can't answer this question Rob, maybe Peter (Cleveland) can...if there is an expected regression from Mauer and Morneau, shouldn't there also be anexpected regression from Sizemore and Hafner?
Rob Neyer (12:47 PM)
Big differences, Brian. Sizemore is still quite young (and not a catcher), and Hafner actually missed last September with an injury. Here's a guarantee (absent serious injury): both Sizemore and Hafner will be viable MVP candidates, and neither Mauer nor Morneau will be.
How about a little NL West love? That division is going to be as tight as the AL central, no?
Rob Neyer (12:49 PM)
I don't have any sort of feel for the NL West yet. I suppose I favor the Dodgers and Padres (again), but the surprise would be the Rockies doing well. As usual.
True or False. The Mets will win the NL East in 2007.
Rob Neyer (12:50 PM)
True. But by just a smidge!
Darrell McLellan (Halifax)
I agree Rob you can count on Hafner, and Sizemore to produce MVP caliber seasons, and the rotation is a question mark, but I do like Lee and CC. But what can we Indian fans expect from Barfield and Marte?
Rob Neyer (12:52 PM)
Barfield is what he is, a decent player with limited upside (though of course he still has room for growth). Marte's been so up and down the last couple of years that I don't know what to expect. But there's still a real chance he becomes a star.
Love the chats..... Josh Hamilton is tearing the cover off of the ball, can he do that in the regular season for the Reds? In that ballpark he could put up some serious numbers.
Rob Neyer (12:55 PM)
I think it's a lot to expect from a guy who's played the grand total of 23 games above Class A in his career. If Hamilton plays triple-A ball this year and does well, it'll be a huge accomplishment.
Rudy (San Diego, Ca)
Why don't you have a feel for the NL West?
Rob Neyer (1:02 PM)
That's a good question, Rudy. Long-standing cranial activity, maybe? I grew up watching the teams in the middle of the country, and later I had had to concentrate on the Eastern teams, and then the American League West. Never the NL West, though. Maybe it's time...
I am genuinely excited to hear Jon Miller's voice again, especially when he pronounces latin names, for some reason. Which play-by-play guy are you most looking forward to hearing call a game?
Rob Neyer (1:06 PM)
We have to consider every new season with Vin Scully a true blessing. So many baseball figures of his generation are gone now, yet Scully broadcast many, many of Jackie Robinson's games. And he's still a damn good broadcaster.
I just have to say how awesome it is to have baseball back, seems like everything is how it should be once again.
Rob Neyer (1:08 PM)
I have to say, I enjoy spring training more than I used to, because so much of it's on TV. But that feeling you're talking about, I really don't get it until Opening Day. Maybe because I'm so into college basketball in March.
More wins this year? North Side or South Side of Chicago?
Rob Neyer (1:09 PM)
Good question! Cubs will be better than last year, White Sox probably a tad worse. I sure wish they still played a City Series after the season.
Cosmo (Farmington, CT)
Any reason why the baseball world has seemingly overlooked what could easily be one of the best teams in the NL, the Milwaukee Brewers? With a healthy Sheets, no doubt they make the playoffs.
Rob Neyer (1:10 PM)
Oh, I don't think the baseball world's done anything of the sort, Cosmo. So many people are high on the Brewers that I hardly even mention them any more, because there's little new to say. Of course there's *doubt* about them making the playoffs, even with a healthy Ben Sheets. But should we be surprised if they do? Not really so much.
don't you think curt flood should be in the HOF?
Rob Neyer (1:11 PM)
Umm, no. Fine player and brave soul, but I believe his impact on the labor issues has been generally overstated. Though I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.
John Hartford, CT
I know you don't have a great feel for the NL West but can the Padres really contend with 2 40's starters and an older closer?
Rob Neyer (1:13 PM)
Considering what we've seen from Maddux, Wells, Johnson, Clemens, Glavine, Moyer, and whoever I'm forgetting about, I think we need to rethink our rules about "old" pitchers, who in a practical sense might not be so old after all.
Stephen (East Greenbush, NY)
What about Bernie Williams for the HOF? I'm assuming he falls short . . .
Rob Neyer (1:15 PM)
He does fall short, which isn't to say he wasn't an excellent player for a long time. Just not quite long enough.
Who do you think will be the first player into the HOF as a Marlin?
Rob Neyer (1:19 PM)
That's an easy one, Albert: Miguel Cabrera. If Grady Sizemore is -- or was, until very recently -- the greatest unknown player in the American League, Cabrera takes that title in the National.
You said your concern would be Cleveland's rotation - is that based on injury probability? Westbrook, CC, Sowers and Lee is actually a solid rotation. I'd be concerned about Blowrowski as my closer.
Rob Neyer (1:20 PM)
Rotation should be good enough. Byrd's a question mark, and Sowers has to stay healthy and miss a lot more bats than he did last year.
Is there any chance, assuming health across the board, that the Devil Rays sneak into 3rd in the AL East this year? That offense has some serious fire power to it, and it's not even all potential anymore. Obviously they need some surprisingly good innings from E. Jackson (who's still very young and not to be given up on) and Niemann, not to mention health from Kazmir. I feel like they're right on the verge of breaking out as contenders.
Rob Neyer (1:23 PM)
Nick, I'll be surprised (though not quite shocked) if they sneak into fourth. As I've written before, I'm quite bullish on the Devil Rays, but they're at least two seasons away from making any real noise. It'll take that long to sort out all their young hitters, and build a decent rotation.
Jeff (Eagle Mountain, UT)
Buster Olney says 75-80 percent of major awards since 1988 have been won by juicers. Even giving no one the benefit of the doubt, I can't get past about 50% without including guys like Greg Maddux, Orel Hershiser, and Frank Viola. Do you think Buster really has inside info, or do you think it's easy to spout numbers as long as you don't have to back them up?
Rob Neyer (1:25 PM)
I'm absolutely sure that Buster has *some* inside info -- that's what he does -- and I'm also absolutely sure that many, many players you wouldn't suspect actually have used, at least briefly, drugs that are now banned.
Andrew (New York)
With so much mediocrity in the division, it seems lots of writers lack the requisite fortitude to venture a firm NL Central pick. Shall we count you among their number?
Rob Neyer (1:27 PM)
Dude, my middle name is fortitude. Robert Fortitude Neyer, Junior. Here's my firm pick: Cardinals. Or Brewers. But watch out for the Astros.
Reyen (Dallas, TX)
How about some love for the Rangers? New Mgr, intriguing (questionable) starters, and possibly the best infield and one of the best bullpens in the AL. Plus After Buck leaves a team they go to the Series! Hope springs eternal in Surprise, AZ
Rob Neyer (1:27 PM)
I like the Rangers. I like them a lot. Haven't run numbers yet, but I suspect the Rangers will come out on top of my projected standings.
Is the chat over?
Rob Neyer (1:30 PM)
Perish the thought!
Usually when a question like this gets posted it means the chat is over, but I have to know: How long are we going today?
Rob Neyer (1:31 PM)
Until either my fingers or my hindquarters are too fatigued to continue, Jake. Why? Do you have something to do?
Kristy (Chicago) that was the greatest thing a woman can say, will you marry me??
Jim, Ashburn, VA
Back to the Curt Flood question for a second. Shouldn't there at least be a section for those who have affected baseball, either good or bad? It is a "museum" after all isn't it. Hiding the bad stuff is like ignoring the Holocaust. Guys like Canseco and Pete Rose could be mentioned in that section, along w/ Shoeless Joe, Curt Flood, Marvin Miller...
Rob Neyer (1:33 PM)
Jim, have you been to Cooperstown? I assure you, there's ample evidence there of all these figures, with the possible exception of Canseco (who is, in the long run, little more than a footnote). Remember, it's the Hall of Fame *and* Museum, and the Museum's the place for figures of historical importances.
Jeff (Ann Arbor)
When you say "run the numbers" what is it that you do? Or is that a trade secret?
Rob Neyer (1:33 PM)
Not a secret. A SUPER-SECRET.
Jerry (Portland, OR)
Rob, just got my 2007 BP. Thanks for the chat and the insightful information in this years BP. See you at the book signing on St. Patrick's Day.
Rob Neyer (1:36 PM)
Thanks for the note, Jerry. I did write, with help from the editors, the A's chapter in the new Baseball Prospectus. And for those of you lucky enough to live in Portland, Oregon -- No. 1 city in America -- I'll be doing a thing at Annie Bloom's on March 17 at 1pm.
Jonathan (Cambridge, MA)
There's been a distinct lack of Red Sox talk (though I'm as intrigued as you are by the AL Central). What do you see from Josh Beckett this season? Are the home runs here to stay, and is he really as stupid/stubborn as the media alleges?
Rob Neyer (1:39 PM)
I get a bunch of Josh Beckett questions every week, and I probabyl answer one of them every *other* week. Since I skipped last week, here goes . . . I believe that Beckett's issues are related to blisters, and at this point I'm becoming skeptical about his ability to ever solve those issues completely. Most humans just aren't designed to do what he does with his fingers for eight months every year.
Okay, since you're such an expert on the A's, what with the chapter in BP and all, what's the deal with Shannon Stewart, who hasn't been both reasonably healthy and effective in the same season since his, ahem, MVP year of 2003, essentially being handed a starting job by Bob Geren?
Rob Neyer (1:41 PM)
It's a reasonable gamble, given the small financial risk. If Stewart's healthy enough to actually win a starting job, he should be a decent player. But I'll be surprised if that happens.
Matt (Auburn, AL)
Who is the best team that no one is talking about in the AL?
Rob Neyer (1:43 PM)
I have no idea, Matt, as we've already talked about all the decent teams in the AL. Well, except the Yankees and the Blue Jays, but I think everybody else has talked about them. Oh, and the Angels should be decent again.
Do you think we are at a time yet when a current MLB player can "come out" as a homosexual?
Rob Neyer (1:45 PM)
You know, everybody always answers this question, in whatever sport, the same way: "No." Which is precisely true until exactly the moment it happens. Which could be tomorrow, or ten years from tomorrow. There's not going to be an identifiable evolution, no warning signs. It will just happen, it will be a huge story, and then we'll move on with our lives. Finally.
Alright Rob, riddle me this: why do GM's love "veterans?" I think B. Beane is a great GM, but I just don't understand the S. Stewart thing. Is someone like Stewart really any better than Travis Buck? Is it fear based upon the fact that young players are somewhat unknown quantities? It seems if a team has a player that they intend to commit to long-term, you might as well push that player a little, especially position players. I mean, look at the Brewers, the fact that they're even considering Koskie over Braun, I mean, really?
Rob Neyer (1:48 PM)
Yes, general managers generally have irrational affections for (apparently) washed-up veterans. But when you talk about a prospect like Travis Buck, there is a legitimate concern that if you move him to the majors now -- he's played just half a season above Class A -- you might actually be hindering his development. We just don't much about that jump, and I think caution is in order with a player that young and inexperienced.
The *signing* of Stewart is a reasonable risk, though a left-handed hitter would've suited the roster better, but Geren semi-declared that Stewart would be a starter, turning the slated-to-be-more-productive Kielty-Johnson platoon into the Kielty-Johnson pinch-hitting tandem.
Rob Neyer (1:49 PM)
Dan Johnson should be ahead of Stewart on the depth chart. No question. Unless Stewart's *really* healthy.
Bill (Jersey City)
Rob - A serious question. Gary Matthews may have used perfromance enhancing drugs and MLB (and its policies) are thrown under the bus again by the media/fans. Meanwhile, the Steelers physician ordered $150k worth of perfomance enhancing drugs on his personal credit card and the NFL just plugs along as if nothing happened as the media/fans focus on trades/the draft. What gives?
Rob Neyer (1:50 PM)
As I've written many times, Baseball is held to a higher standard. And I'm perfectly fine with that.
Why should baseball be held to a higher standard? Cheating is cheating...wherever it occurs. And why are you "perfectly fine" with it? I don't know why, but your response to this question really burns my onions.
Rob Neyer (1:53 PM)
Sorry, Buck; didn't mean to burn, fry, broil, otherwise damage your onions, which I'm sure are important to you and (if you're lucky) somebody close to you. Yes, it would be a good thing if the NFL was held to a higher standard. But I think a lot of people would instead like to see the standards for MLB lowered. Which is a dangerous path.
Ben, Minneapolis, MN
Which of the following pitchers will be in the MN Twins' rotation on July 4: Sidney Ponson, Carlos Silva, Matt Garza, Glenn Perkins, Kevin Slowey?
Rob Neyer (1:54 PM)
Silva and Garza. And I'm going throw Scott Baker into the mix. I love Slowey, but he's probably more of an August/September guy.
Should the Rays trade Baldelli or one of the younger guys like Dukes or Upton for pitching?
Rob Neyer (1:56 PM)
Absolutely. Right now. I don't know that Dukes or Upton has a lot of value, for all the obvious reasons. Baldelli does, and the Rays need to stop fooling around and make a deal. Oh, and they also need to stop fooling around and teach Upton to play center field.
Nick (Dayton, Ohio)
I am pretty sure you have no idea who Josh Hamilton is becuase your answer to his question makes no sense. He can't play AAA for the Reds because he is a Rule 5 draft pick. Just be honest you had no idea who he was right?
Rob Neyer (2:01 PM)
Ouch. I do know who Josh Hamilton is. I wrote a long note about him in my last book. I did forget, for the moment, that he was a Rule 5 pick. But that doesn't preclude him playing in triple-A this season. Not at all. If the Reds decide they can't carry him on the 25-man roster, he could go to the minors with his old team, or the Reds could offer him back and then trade for him. It's a big wide world out there, Nick.
How amazing is Ryan Howard? How many career HR do you project him for? Will there ever be another 70-HR season?
Rob Neyer (2:03 PM)
You have to love the guy. But his best comps, according to Baseball Prospectus, are Mo Vaughn, Travis Hafner, Mike Epstein, and Boog Powell. Will there ever be another 70-homer season? My Magic 8 Ball says . . . "Sooner than you think."
Matt (Kent, WA)
How did Ripken get more HOF votes than Gwynn? Gwynn was amazing. Ripken just played for a long time. If you look at Cal's averages - he is Aubrey Huff. What is hall worthy about that?
Rob Neyer (2:04 PM)
Matt, I know they grow a lot of smart people in your neck of Ecotopia. But that's crazy talk. If Aubrey Huff was a Gold Glove-winning shortstop, he'd be a superstar. And future Hall of Famer.
Rob, how can you say that the Indians revamped their bullpen? Last year they had the young guys along with retreads like Mota, Graves, Karsay and Wickman closing, now Wickman is gone and they replaced the three retreads with brand new retreads (Fultz, Roberto Hernandez, Joe Borowski). How in the name of Gary Matthews does this represent any sort of upgrade?
Rob Neyer (2:06 PM)
I didn't say upgraded. I said revamped. The bullpen would have been better this season if management hadn't lifted a finger. But management is supposed to do things, so things were done.
Nick (Jackson, MI)
If you could change one thing about the game, what would it be?
Rob Neyer (2:07 PM)
All the pitching changes. Every pitcher, absent injury, should have to face at least two hitters. Or something. You get the gist.
What can Wang do to improve his strikeout rate? It seems to be assumed that he can't keep forcing batters to drive the ball into the dirt forever.
Rob Neyer (2:09 PM)
I wouldn't assume that. Not at all. Maybe he's just a freak. I do think that last season represents the upper limits of his performance, given his strikeout rate. But if he turns into Derek Lowe or Jake Westbrook, that's okay.
Bryan (Ankeny, IA)
Rob, is there any chance that the Royals can go .500 this year?
Rob Neyer (2:10 PM)
Sure. There's always a chance. If you play the 2007 season a thousand times, they'll go .500 a few times.
Jeff (Eagle Mountain, UT)
Can you think of any good reason why the Dodgers signed Luis Gonzalez, when they have Matt Kemp and James Loney both ready to play in the majors? And remember, I said a GOOD reason.
Rob Neyer (2:11 PM)
Dumb dumb dumb dumb. Ned Colletti's infatuation with grizzled veterans, which apparently he inherited from Brian Sabean, is perhaps the best reason to pick the Padres.
Should Ron Santo have made it on veterans HOF ballots?
Rob Neyer (2:13 PM)
Of course. And I feel bad for him. But I feel worse for the deserving candidates on the other ballot, particularly Doug Harvey.
kevin kremer (dayton, OH)
Best GM is baeball, is it really Billy beane, sometime i feel he is overrated for his coining of tthe term money ball and the popular book, but i think thatJocketty along with Cashman are two of the best
Rob Neyer (2:14 PM)
Beane didn't coin the term; that was author Michael Lewis. It seems to me that the two best GM's in the game are Beane and Terry Ryan, who have done more with less for a number of years now. Jocketty and Cashman are of course in the mix, too.
Did you see Crasnick's article about Harang's Cy Young calibre season last year? Were his stats (led league in wins and Ks) indicative of him being really, really good, or just a fluke?
Rob Neyer (2:16 PM)
Harang's a good pitcher, and the A's shouldn't have let him get away. That said, both he and Arroyo are likely to decline, and with them the Reds, too.
What should the Marlins be willing to part with for Baldelli? And would Beinfest be included on a short list in your opinion?
Rob Neyer (2:17 PM)
I don't know if that's a good fit, trade-wise. Devil Rays need young pitching, and the cash-poor Marlins aren't necessarily in position to trade young pitching. Beinfest? Yeah, he's done good work.
That was a Stark article (Sam of NY). Which ESPN columnist wins a footrace? Where do you rank Rob?
Rob Neyer (2:20 PM)
I'm not the best reporter, or the best writer, or the best-looking among us. But we all got together for a 60-yard dash in Florida last spring, and I won by five yards. Olney was second, Gammons right behind him.
Jesse (Los Angeles, CA)
Cashman..one of the best GM's? Let me ask you this, would he be a top GM if he wasn't with the Yanks? I think Kevin Malone would be a top GM if he was the Yankee GM.
Rob Neyer (2:21 PM)
One of my great regrets, as an occasional student of the game, is that we don't *know* what Cashman would do with a $80 million payroll. But my *guess* is that he would do quite well.
Mark (Seattle, WA)
Once Bavasi is finally given the boot when the M's are 10+ games under .500 come July how long will it take for the organziation to be turned around assuming they make a solid hire for the next gm?
Rob Neyer (2:24 PM)
The Mariners are in a big market with a shiny ballpark, solid TV revenues, and deep-pocketed owner. There's no reason they can't be perennial contenders. My guess is that Bavasi -- one of the old breed -- will be replaced by one of the new breed. And the M's are back in the mix in 2009.
Again no love for Philly? Gillick is turning this team around. Sure Utley, Howard and Hamels were here before him but he got rid of the dull leaders in the clubhouse, brought in some energy in Rowand and finally let Rollins step up.
Rob Neyer (2:25 PM)
What do you mean, again? I like what Gillick's done, particularly the acquisition of Freddy Garcia, which could pay enormous short-term dividends. If Mets slip, Phillies are in position to take the division.
You talk about a great Gm, but none of them have ever built a championship team. BB has gone to the playoffs and faded. Dombrowski has built 3 championship teams in Florida and Detroit. Best GM by far!
Rob Neyer (2:27 PM)
You're right, Tim. Dombrowski's a candidate, and I do unfairly forget him when this subject comes up. I think the "problem" is that his intelligence manifests itself in ways not immediately obvious to my particular way of thinking. But of course that's not his fault.
It seems the PECOTA projections in the new BP are rather low across the Board. Is that the nature of these projections and we should only use them for comparative purposes or do the yreally expect Pujols to finish with 38 HRs?
Rob Neyer (2:29 PM)
Oh, I don't know if the PECOTAs are generally low, but yes 38 homers does seem a bit low for Pujols. All projections do essentially assume some small regression to the mean, and Pujols' performance last season was nearly off the charts. I'd guess he hits 40-45 homers.
Speaking of GMs, will Jim Hendry ever sign anyone that has a decent on base percentage? Cubs are likely to lead the majors in solo home runs this year...
Rob Neyer (2:31 PM)
Haven't you heard? The Cubs don't believe in OBP unless the guy getting OB can also steal second, third, and home. Oh wait, that was Dusty Baker. Not sure about Piniella. Seriously, Hendry's not a dumb guy, but he sure does a lot of dumb things.
John D, Northville, MI
Do you think GM Littlefield is doing a good job overall in Pittsburgh considering it's a small market city that will never be able to pay the big $$$ ?
Rob Neyer (2:32 PM)
I think this year is when we come to a conclusion about Littlefield. He scores big points for getting Jason Bay, but if the Pirates' many young and apparently talented pitchers don't show up in '07, probably it's time for a new direction.
OK, I see the theme. Is this the year that Stoneman trades some prospects? The three best postional prospects for the Angels are all shortstops.
Rob Neyer (2:35 PM)
Not really. Wood's already been shifted to third base, and Sean Rodriguez might wind up just about anywhere *except* shortstop. But yes, the Angels would be better off if Stoneman weren't so shy about trading young players.
Phil (Syracuse, NY)
I'm thinking Danny Haren is going to have a better year than most people realize, he has some great stuff, your thoughts?
Rob Neyer (2:39 PM)
I'm a big Haren fan -- he saved my Scoresheet Baseball team last year -- but his performances were so similar in '05 and '6 were so similar that I think it's premature to expect more in '7. If he can shave ten homers off his line he's a secondary Cy Young candidate, though of course that's a lot easier said than done..
Jonathan (NY, NY)
Maybe you only talk about baseball books in the dead of winter, but have you ever read the Great American Novel by Roth? Too mocking?
Rob Neyer (2:42 PM)
Read it twice, referenced it many times. For anybody out there who doesn't know what we're talking about, The Great American Novel probably isn't one of Philip Roth's best books, but it's a fantastical take on, among other things, baseball in the 1930s and '40s.
Just wondering why you think Morneau will regress - Mauer makes sense, but Morneau didn't put up huge numbers on the whole by any means.
Rob Neyer (2:45 PM)
He didn't put up huge numbers? If you're right, then I'd say a fair number of MVP voters have a lot of 'splainin' to do. Actually, you're right: he was *not* huge. But I'll bet his batting average drops by 25-35 points, which means everything else goes down some, too.
Who's yout favorite American Idol contestant this season...and don't act like you don't watch the show.
Rob Neyer (2:46 PM)
It's literally true that I've never seen a single minute. Which means, I know, that I'm not a Truly True American. I'll just have to live with myself.
Matt (San Marcos, Tx)
For those looking for Roth's best book, I'd recommend American Pastoral. Rob, what's the best new baseball book we should check out?
Rob Neyer (2:48 PM)
I really haven't seen much of this year's crop yet, Matt, as the baseball book season's just starting to heat up. I do have this new book about Babe Ruth's home runs on my desk, but haven't started it yet.
Joe (Las Vegas)
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Rob Neyer (2:50 PM)
Sitting in this same chair and trying to break my old chat record. Which isn't pathetic, at all.
Steve (Cedar Rapids)
Rob, Late last year, everyone was ripping Freddy Garcia because his velocity was way down. He had to pitch a couple of shut outs at the end of the year just to get his ERA under 5.00. I would argue that his 17 wins were in spite of him, rather than because of him. Why has everyone changed their tune from Garcia being washed up, to a huge loss? Also when comparing the AL Central, I have tried to compare each team at each position. In that scenario, the Sox appear to be in pretty good shape.
Rob Neyer (2:53 PM)
Gee, Steve, last time I checked those shutouts at the end of the year counted, too. Garcia's 4.54 ERA was roughly league average, he pitched half his games in a hitter's park, and he pitched 216 innings. That means today he's worth $14 million on the open market. The Sox will indeed miss him. Which isn't to say I don't like the deal.
Do you have no life?
Rob Neyer (2:55 PM)
This is it, my brother. Talking about baseball with the best fans on the Internets? You have a better idea?
Steve (Cedar Rapids)
Rob, You can't tell me Charlie Haeger can't finish the year with at least a 4.54 ERA, maybe better...
Rob Neyer (2:56 PM)
Oh, I think he can. But I don't think the White Sox agree with us. Again, I'm not saying that I would give Garcia $14 million. I'm saying that's what he would get.
Mark (Seattle, WA)
Who are the names that should be considered for a New School GM whenever the M's do make a change?
Rob Neyer (2:59 PM)
I'm going to leave somebody out and for that I apologize, but David Forst and Chris Antonetti are obvious candidates, both of them young assistant GM's w/successful organizations. I think both would bristle about being described as "New School," though. Let's just say they're young and talented and smart, and forget about the capital letters and the attendant box.
Have you ever read the blog at firejoemorgan.com? If not you should check it out, its an entertaining blog that rips apart bad sportswriting.
Rob Neyer (3:02 PM)
I think FJM represents what's best about the InterWeb. No, there's not room here at ESPN for unadorned scorn and occasional subversion. Which is okay, because you can always find that stuff if you're willing to look around a bit.
Rob, have you looked back on your favorite player from when you were a kid, and now look at his stats and think, "Geez, why did I like this guy? He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn?"
Rob Neyer (3:04 PM)
Sure. Well, not my favorite player. My favorite player was George Brett. But yeah, when you're a kid you think all of them are good, and of course unless you're a Yankees fan, or grew up loving the Big Red Machine, that simply can't be true. I will say this: when I was a kid, I didn't have any idea about Frank White's OBP.
Rob -- Which is greater evidence of a lack of life -- typing answers to questions on the internet or reading the answers typed in, to questions asked by strangers?
Rob Neyer (3:04 PM)
I would answer your question, Jason, but that would be at least one too many metas for my noggin.
David (Los Angeles)
I think you're going to kill Simmons record... timewise at least.
Rob Neyer (3:06 PM)
Who is this "Simmons" of whom you speak? I always thought Ted would be in the Hall of Fame if he'd lasted a few years longer as a catcher.
Watching Durant on Saturday you were a. blown away b. yelling at the inability of the JAyhawks to stop him
Rob Neyer (3:08 PM)
I'm not a hoops expert, at all; I leave that to guys like John Hollinger and Henry Abbott. I don't know who's going to be better in the NBA, Durant or Oden. I will say this, though: I've been watching a lot of college basketball for about 25 years, and I've never seen a player who can do what Durant does.
Jake (San Diego)
Does it do me any good to resubmit questions? Why is the distribution of good teams skewed towards the AL? Is it just a money issue?
Rob Neyer (3:08 PM)
I think it's mostly money, and I also think the owners and general managers in the American League are maybe just a bit smarter, generally.
Matt (Kansas City)
If you were running a team, and your only two choices to play shortstop were Angel Berroa and Neifi Perez, who would you pick? Mike Sweeney?
Rob Neyer (3:09 PM)
Oh, Perez. Easily. At least he can actually play the position. Berroa might be the worst player in the majors, as he doesn't do *anything* well. Just an absolute disaster.
Steve O, NYC
Do you think Kim Ng would be a possibility if/when Bavasi is fired?
Rob Neyer (3:10 PM)
I don't know if she's a candidate for that job, but it does make sense and she probably will, at some point, become the first female GM in major pro sports. Which would be pretty cool.
Keith (EB, NJ)
Was Berroa winning Rookie of the Year over Hideki Matsui one of the greatest injustices of all time?
Rob Neyer (3:11 PM)
No. I would have voted for Matsui, who was discriminated against. But Berroa was a solid candidate.
when will Marvin Miller get in the HOF?
Rob Neyer (3:14 PM)
The rules for that ballot will be liberalized and Miller will be elected in 2009. I'm not a huge fan of his work, but I do hope he's still around to enjoy the honor.
Matt (Madison, WI)
I saw where the Phillies signed Ryan Howard for $900,000, or something like that. He's obviously worth more. My question is how do contract negotiations take place for players not eligible for free agency?
Rob Neyer (3:16 PM)
The player generally has little leverage, but when a guy hits 58 homers and wins the MVP Award, you have to listen to his agent for at least a couple of hours. If the Phillies would have offered Howard the minimum, he'd have held out and the organization would have been skewered by the media and the fans. So they essentially gave him a nice bonus.
Any interest in doing a daily podcast? Your late, lamented "audio chats" with Schoenfeld were fantastic.
Rob Neyer (3:18 PM)
I appreciate the kind words about the audio chats with Schoenfield, and I do miss him (he's over on Page 2 these days). But did you miss my podcasts with Alan Schwarz last season? We did them once or twice a week for most of the summer and fall, and I'll be doing them again this season. Big fun, except for getting up at 4:45 in the morning to record them...
How much do genetics come into play when dealing with velocity? If I teach my son -- if i had one -- proper mechanics, etc at an safe early age, would he be throwing 90+ at 17-18 or is Brandon Erbe just a lucky human?
Rob Neyer (3:20 PM)
I would say that almost anybody, given a bit of practice at an early age, can eventually throw 70. A bit more practice and a bit of genetic luck: 80. If you're really lucky you can throw 90. And Joel Zumaya? Freak of nature.
Alex, New York
If I told you that Liverpool is playing Barcelona in the Champions League right now, your reply would be: a) I know and the score is 0-0 after 30 minutes. b) Damn, I forgot the last two champions are playing each other right now. c) I didn't know cricket is played this early in the day. d) I'm an American so all I care about is baseball and football.
Rob Neyer (3:22 PM)
My answer is e) there are currently two different European games available on my TV, but unfortunately this isn't one of them.
randy (cape cod)
joe morgan has no problem answering questions about race. sometime in the next ten years while sitting in that comfy chair,maybe you might want to take a good look in the mirror.
Rob Neyer (3:25 PM)
Is there a question in there somewhere? Over the years I've answered many questions about race (which is, for the most part, a social construct, but we'll leave that discussion for another day). I think such questions can be worthwhile, but I also think too often the subject does little but reinforce our differences -- real and supposed -- instead of our obvious similarities. Which is to say, it's one thing to talk about "race," but quite another to actually advance the discussion.
Chris (San Jose, CA)
Hi Rob - Any word on progress of the Cubs signing Zambrano long term? Do you think it will top 5y/90M? If so, in total years or total $$?
Rob Neyer (3:26 PM)
Haven't heard anything, but if Zambrano doesn't eventually top Zito's deal then his agent's not doing his job. Or all the teams suddenly wise up. Which doesn't seem likely.
Craig (Peterborough, England)
The chat record is not Simmons' it's actually Jeremy Green's and it's FIVE HOURS so good luck Rob!! The Champions League is the best tournament in the world. Multi-national competition showcasing the best players in the biggest sport on earth. Does it bother you at all that America's sport's can never truly embrace foreign countries and cultures in competitive activity?
Rob Neyer (3:29 PM)
Oh, I don't know. We certainly are capable of myopia and jingoism. But have you ever read much about European history? Americans haven't cornered the market on those categories, even though it might seem so lately. And soccer -- or futbol, if you prefer -- really is making inroads here, finally.
Mario (St. Louis, MO):
How many questions out of 10 go unanswered and who not named Pujols or A-Rod would be your first Fantasy pick?
Rob Neyer (3:31 PM)
I don't the answer to your first question, but there are 3,800 questions in the queue, so if you count the number I've answered you can figure that for yourself. About your second question, I think the obvious answer is Sizemore if you're in a keeper league, and probably Sizemore even if you're not. Well, or Santana. He went first in my Scoresheet draft.
What's more important, a 2nd round KU tournament game (I know, I'm getting ahead of myself), or my girlfriend's birthday? What would Alex Gordon do?
Rob Neyer (3:32 PM)
I don't know WAGWD, but can't you squeeze in both? The Jayhawks take only two hours, which leaves 22 for everything else.
Sounds like Bill James is frustrated that he can't publish (since he works for Boston and his research/work is considered IP that Boston 'owns'). Do you think that he'll stop consulting so that he can write more?
Rob Neyer (3:34 PM)
Oh, I don't know if he's frustrated that he can't publish. I don't have his exact words handy, but I think he thinks (rightly) that sabermetrics is a science, and that science thrives under the light of peer review and public scrutiny. But when you're competing, as the Red Sox are, you can't just throw everything out into the world and hope none of the other teams notice.
Rob, What's the billing code for the last 3.5 hours? Have you ever seen a better pitcher than '99-'00 Pedro?
Rob Neyer (3:35 PM)
Well, there's him. And Maddux in '94 and '95. And Clemens with the Blue Jays. I'm not sure how to figure out which of those three was the best sustained performance. Oh, and there was this Randy Johnson guy...
Ever listen to the XM baseball channel's daily fantasy chat with Jeff Erickson from Rotowire? It's a great show. He had Peter King on a few days ago and they were talking about a scoresheet league they're in that sounded really interesting. Where would you go to find a scoresheet league to join?
Rob Neyer (3:37 PM)
I'm in the same league. Erickson's in it, too. Everything is sent to me, so I don't know where one actually goes to find a league to join. It's a fun simulation, though; worth your effort to find out.
Did you know that you answer in 4 of the last 6 questions started with 'I don't know'?
Rob Neyer (3:39 PM)
I did not know that. Fortunately, I have the power to go back and edit all of them to make me look like a better writer than I am. It's almost like being God, except if the power goes out I'm sunk.
Rob - Who is the most important off-field historical figure in baseball history? Branch Rickey, Landis, Veeck, Marvin Miller, Bill James, someone else?
Rob Neyer (3:40 PM)
I would go like this: Rickey, Miller, James, Landis, Veeck. And O'Malley probably belongs in there somewheres.
Jake (San Diego)
Do you watch any non-sports TV? What did you think of Heroes last night?
Rob Neyer (3:43 PM)
While acknowledging that nobody really cares what I watch, I will say that I have never seen Heroes, and that aside from sports and C-SPAN I watch only three shows: The Office, 30 Rock, and Galactica (and I'm getting bored with Galactica).
Kevin (Billerica, MA)
Rob, Thanks for the extra long chat. My friends bet my $5 I couldn't get you to say three words to me. Help me out here.
Rob Neyer (3:43 PM)
Rich (Blacksburg, VA)
Rob, You don't watch 24 anymore?
Rob Neyer (3:47 PM)
Never watched it regularly, couldn't commit to the hour every week. Also -- and I know this will offend some of you -- I find the positive use of torture somewhat . . . well, not disturbing. I'm not that easily disturbed. But it's just not something with which I care to associate myself. I will reluctantly defend the producers' right to routinely depict torture in a positive light. But that doesn't mean I have to sit on my couch and enjoy it.
Rich (Blacksburg, VA)
Rob, My brother just brought up the point that you can't consider Angel Berroa to be the worst player in the majors as long as Christian Guzman is on an MLB roster. Would you concur?
Rob Neyer (3:49 PM)
Hey, at least Guzman can run. That's my point about Berroa: he doesn't bring *anything* to the table. Can't hit, can't field, can't run, can't walk. Doesn't even keep a toothpick in his mouth when he's playing. At least that would be *something*.
Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock or Steve Carrell in the Office for best tv character (Jack or Michael) in the past 5 years?
Rob Neyer (3:52 PM)
Dead tie, as characters. But Carrell is asked to do a lot more than Baldwin, who of course is simply brilliant. Brings up an interesting subject, which I shouldn't bring up here but hey nobody's watching except you and me anyway, right? I think comic acting is a bit like relief pitching. Just as a good starter (Billy Wagner, Mariano Rivera) can be a great reliever, maybe a good actor (Alec Baldwin, Christopher Walken) can be a great comic actor. Crackpot theory? You decide...
A few NL West questions and no mention of the Dbacks? Bias aside, I think they are currently the most talented team in the division, and if their rotation is more than solid. Last years CY Young winner, a healthy Big Unit and 2 innings eaters will prove to be too much for the division. PECOTA really likes Chris B. Young eh?
Rob Neyer (3:54 PM)
I mentioned the Diamondbacks obliquely when I said only the Rockies would be a surprise contender in that division. I like the D'backs, but worry that their young players might need another year or so. Long-term, though? First place in 2009.
Rob, if this chat does in fact go down as the longest ESPN chat ever, I would like to say I was a part of it. With that said, boxers or briefs?
Rob Neyer (3:56 PM)
I don't believe in the Man's rules, man. Boxers, briefs, commando . . . depends on the weather and the activity. And sometimes you just wear whatever's on top of the basket.
Nick (Bensalem, PA)
Thanks for the extended chat. Can you comment on the state of the Cardinals rotation as they head into the season to defend the world championship. I'm not too optimistic.
Rob Neyer (3:58 PM)
I know this, Nick: if you run projections for the projected starters -- and I know projections for pitchers are tough, but please bear with me -- you'll find that the Cards do just fine. And remember, it's not like Ponson and Marquis and Mulder were pitching a lot of gems last season. I would argue that when people criticize the Cardinals for what they haven't added this winter, they should instead focus on what the Cardinals didn't bring back.
Still here, huh? Since you started this chat, I have been to two classes and read a paper on formulary apportionment in the EU. Maybe I should have picked journalism over law school.... Anyway, how 'bout the Dodger's rotation?
Rob Neyer (4:05 PM)
I read the same paper, between answering questions! Small world . . . Dodgers rotation: Usually I'd say any rotation with Jason Schmidt and Brad Penny slated as Nos. 3 and 4 must be pretty good, but of course Schmidt and Penny might actually be the Dodgers' two best starters. I like Lowe, too, and there's nothing wrong with Wolf and Kuo. Looks like the best in the division to me.
You may be the fastest ESPN baseball writer, but could you beat Mike Lavalliere or John Olerud in races?
Rob Neyer (4:07 PM)
Yes, and also Edgar Martinez, Frank Thomas, and Matthew LeCroy.
Marc (alexandria, va)
What did you make of Igawa start yesterday. Was it nerves, or will Hughes be up earlier then expected?
Rob Neyer (4:08 PM)
Honestly, I don't pay attention to anything other than injuries in early March. Let alone unseen pitcher outings.
What does Boston see in Julio Lugo that I don't? Good range, but lots of errors (3rd most I think), okay-to-good OBP, doesn't slug much, 2-to-1 K/BB ratio. I don't think much of him--what am I not seeing?
Rob Neyer (4:10 PM)
These things might all be true, but you have to compare him to something, in this case Alex Gonzalez. Lugo's a better hitter than Gonzalez, obviously, but not as good with the glove (though Gonzalez was overrated in that regard).
Here's a scary question: Who will represent the Nationals in the All-Star game? Can they just say Nick Johnson now so that someone can replace him since he's hurt?
Rob Neyer (4:13 PM)
Austin Kearns is pretty good, though of course the ballpark will . . . Wait a minute, aren't we forgetting somebody? Zimmerman's a fine player, and should play in a lot of All-Star Games before he's done.
Chris (Oxford, UK)
Of interest to few of your readers, I'm sure, but do you see MLB making an appearance in Europe any time soon, especially after the announcement of plans to play NFL and NHL games in London this year?
Rob Neyer (4:14 PM)
There will be an MLB game in Europe, probably in London, within the next three or four years. There, and China.
Rob, regarding Kim Ng, a friend of mine who works in the Dodger's clubhouse claims she's responsible for the awesome crop of good youngsters in their system lately (either still in minors or the ones that just got to the majors). I think she'd be a hell of a gm
Rob Neyer (4:17 PM)
I met Ng many years ago, when I was working for STATS, Inc. and she was working for the White Sox (I met Kenny Williams the same day). I was truly impressed with her (and Williams). But that was a long time ago. I did speak briefly to her again a few years ago, but she was working for the Yankees and wouldn't really talk to me (touchy subject, I think). I don't have any idea if she has the leadership skills necessary for the job, but as I said earlier, I hope she gets a shot. Tha would do a lot more for the sport than the ridiculous election of Effa Manley to the Hall of Fame.
If he never switched to being an outfielder, would Babe Ruth have been a Hall of Fame pitcher?
Rob Neyer (4:19 PM)
I don't think so. Admittedly I have not given the question a great deal of study, but Ruth's numbers were trending downward when he made transition from pitching to hitting. Whether that was lack of interest or lack of arm strength or something else, I don't know.
How can you be inside for so long on such a beautiful day?
Rob Neyer (4:20 PM)
Ain't easy, Dolly. But I'll have some time left for the outdoors, after we wrap this up. Whenever that might be.
The White Sox and Javier Vazquez have agreed to a three-year, $34.5 million contract, according to Comcast Sportsnet. Good move?
Rob Neyer (4:22 PM)
Really? Another feather in Kenny Williams' cap, if you ask me. Vazquez's wins and losses don't show it, but over the last two seasons he's been just as good as Freddy Garcia. But because of those wins and losses, he comes a few ticks cheaper. Good news for Sox fans.
Is the 30 Rock beeper joke (I'm expecting a call from 1983) the best joke on TV this year?
Rob Neyer (4:24 PM)
That was a good one, but there are more funny lines in one episode than you'll find in a whole season of According to Jim. Oh wait, is that an ABC show? I mean, than you'll find in a whole season of The War at Home...
When you woke up this morning, did you know this was going to be a marathon chat or did this come about organically? Either way, thanks for making work a lot easier for many of us today!
Rob Neyer (4:25 PM)
I sort of guessed, but there's a backstory I'll bore you with someday over hummus and microbrew.
robert salem NC
You ever read Scouts honor? the book that says the braves draft on makeup and the writer still to this day says its all about makeup and who cares what a hitters OBP is. I find that odd since furcal had a few DUI arrests and bobby cox had a domestic violence charge against him
Rob Neyer (4:27 PM)
As an occasional book author, I take little pleasure in raking others. But that book -- or at least the first few chapters, which was all I could stomach -- was bereft of intellect and replete with insupportable venom.
What is your take on Marcus Thames? Looking at how he produced last season in the opportunities he got, why couldn't he be at least (a cheaper version of) Craig Monroe?
Rob Neyer (4:29 PM)
Finally: a Marcus Thames question. There should be at least one per week, because one of the single biggest projected mistakes of 2007 is the Tigers' relegation of Thames to the bench. You have an extra first baseman but need an outfielder or DH? Trade your first baseman for Marcus Thames!
Robinson Cano has had a solid year and a half in the majors so far. Do you predict a downturn this year, or can he compete for a batting title?
Rob Neyer (4:32 PM)
I don't see any reason to predict a meaningful downturn. Does he almost win the batting title again? Probably not. Is he a .300 hitter with mid-range power? You bet. Nobody cares, I know, but the most interesting thing about the current Yankees is not the Hall of Famers on the left side of the infield. It's the development of Cano and Wang. They're why the Yankees won last year, and are the favorites this year.
Danny (San Antonio)
Only about a half hour longer til the 5 hour mark and the chat record.
Rob Neyer (4:34 PM)
Five hours? Feh. Five hours is for pansies and violets. Barring a severe thunderstorm -- and the skies here in Portland are azure today -- we'll clear five hours without even having to take a bathroom break. Except I have been drinking a lot of fruity tea...
Stack (Princeton, NJ)
When are they going to pull your plug?!?
Rob Neyer (4:34 PM)
They can't. It's like a filibuster. As long as I keep typing and don't log out of the chat page, I cannot be stopped.
How quickly do you see Alex Gordon becoming an All-Star caliber player?
Rob Neyer (4:36 PM)
All-Star caliber? Or All-Star? Given the requirement of one Royal per All-Star team, he's got a real shot this year. I think he probably won't deserve that status until next year.
mike - ca
top 5 non sport books
Rob Neyer (4:38 PM)
We're too far into this thing for me to think that hard, Mike. So let me give you just one, and I do expect all of you to pump up the Amazon figures this afternoon: Great Plains, by Ian Frazier. It's a gem.
Harping back to a topic of a few hours ago in the chat, if the Brewers are able to make the playoffs this year, would Doug Melvin be a new candidate for one of the best GMs in the league? He took over a mess from Dean Taylor and has a deep farm system and a competitive team with a pretty limited payroll.
Rob Neyer (4:39 PM)
Absolutely. I did leave out some deserving candidates, and Melvin's one of them.
Jason (Fairfax, VA)
If you had a choice, would you prefer to watch a national or a local broadcast of the same game? or would you flip back and forth?
Rob Neyer (4:41 PM)
Completely depends on the broadcasters. I've got little patience for ex-players who are in the booth despite little apparent talent for actually, you know, saying interesting things about the game we're watching.
TJ (Eagan, MN)
Thanks for the Monster Chat. Would reinstating Pete Rose be good for baseball?
Rob Neyer (4:42 PM)
Reevaluating the rules that resulted in the expulsion of Pete Rose would be good for baseball. If that leads to his reinstatement, it's okay with me. But don't make a particular exception specifically for this particular crook.
Who are your top color men in baseball? Is Steve Stone the best in the biz?
Rob Neyer (4:44 PM)
Steve Stone is outstanding. Which isn't to say I think he's always right. But the man has an active cortex.
Alex Bruchac (Birmingham AL)
Do you see the Braves improving at all seeing as how they no longer have LaRoche and Giles (two high strikeout guys) and improved the depth of their bullpen. And since Andruw is in a contract year?
Rob Neyer (4:46 PM)
I think the Braves have a real chance to be better this season. I think they'll miss LaRoche and Giles, but their replacements are decent players and a lot of other things could go well. That said, they seemed to miss Mazzone last year and I don't see that changing.
Cha Seung Baek and Jake Woods are much better options then Batista and Weaver...don't you think?
Rob Neyer (4:47 PM)
I do. Especially considering the $$$. But then it's things like this that are going to cost Bill Bavasi his job before Halloween.
Do you feel the need to continue with this obscenely long chat because you have a huge ego and want to impart your knowledge on us common folk? Or do you really like to answer our questions?
Rob Neyer (4:47 PM)
Are those mutually exclusive? I'm just asking...
Jesse G. (Bourne, MA)
True or false, best ex-player who is now a color man Orel Hersheiser? I say true.
Rob Neyer (4:50 PM)
Steve Stone's an ex-player, and you already know how I feel about him. But yes, Hershiser's good. You know who else I like? And was surprised to like? I know he doesn't do many games, but Tony Gwynn's a lot of fun. Oh, and Al Leiter. He can be a star if he doesn't decide to get involved in the devil's work.
How much longer do you think the free agent salaries can keep going up like it has been? I mean 100 million dollar contracts? Gil Meche gets like 8 mil a year. It's getting way too ridiculous.
Rob Neyer (4:51 PM)
Gil Meche gets 11 mill a year. THAT is ridiculous, but I don't know that IT is ridiculous. The players are getting it because the owners have it. Will the owners continue to have it? In the short term, they almost certainly will. And beyond that? Nobody can know.
Paul D. (Baltimore, MD)
How would you re-build the Orioles into a contender?
Rob Neyer (4:54 PM)
I would fire the owner. Can I do that?
Brent R. (Half Moon Bay, CA)
What are your thoughts on the World Baseball Classic? Any chances of it becoming an every 2 year event or is it going to be sabotaged by GM's who don't want their players getting worn out? Will the US ever be able to play together enough to not get embarressed by Canada and Mexico? we need to know.
Rob Neyer (5:00 PM)
Every two years is a stretch, at least for now. I think everybody likes the every-four-years setup, because it's a headache but a headache worth the pain. As for playing together, this isn't basketball; the US lost partly because they weren't serious about winning, but mostly because they just weren't real lucky.
What current (or recent) player would you be most surprised to hear took performance enhancing drugs?
Rob Neyer (5:04 PM)
As I type, I'm running through names . . . and honestly can't think of a name that would surprise me. See, we get into the habit of thinking this is a moral issue, and for us maybe it is. But for the great majority of the players it's not. So you might think some player is a good guy, and maybe he *is* a good guy. That doesn't mean he doesn't use PEDs.
Josh (San Diego)
The Padres and the local media have been saying that Termell Sledge is healthy for the first time in three years and will be a solid starter. All spin by an organization without a leadoff hitter or LF? What kind of numbers can Sledge put up?
Rob Neyer (5:06 PM)
Okay, I've been ignoring all the Terrmel Sledge questions for five hours and three minutes, might as well answer one now. . . I like Sledge. He's not a great player and the park won't help him. But he's certainly good enough to hold down a regular job. He's 30 and won't last long. But he'll do just fine for a season or two.
Jeff W.( Vienna Va.)
What is the easiest way to find the next sleeper like uggla was for Fla. last year?
Rob Neyer (5:09 PM)
There's no easy way, but you might want to start by looking for players in their mid-20s with impressive Class AAA stats who are finally get a chance to play in the majors. That said, you're not going to see an Uggla every season.
If the Brewers start Hart in RF, who will they start in LF?
Rob Neyer (5:11 PM)
Right now they're talking about platooning Mench and Jenkins, the only problem being that neither Mench nor Jenkins are interested in being platooned. They'll figure it out.
If you're done ignoring Sledge questions, how about taking a Kerry Wood one. Will he get a shot to close?
Rob Neyer (5:12 PM)
I think it's nearly inevitable.
Rob, I have been following all day and submitting the same question over and over again. Care to throw me a bone? Do you see Edwin Encarnacion producing at the level of David Wright at anytime in the future. Last year i bet my friend (a mets fan) that edwin could outproduce wright but then he got injured and the deal was off (probably to my advantage) but what do you think?
Rob Neyer (5:15 PM)
If he's healthy he's very good with the bat, though not quite as good as Wright (especially if we consider the ballparks). And with the glove he's just a bit short of a disaster, and probably will get moved from third base at some point within the next couple of years.
jessica (New Orleans)
I love you Rob! What time are you shooting for?
Rob Neyer (5:17 PM)
I don't know, jess. I like things to end either specifically or organically, and I don't see any specific or organic reason to end at any particular time. I'd come up with a trivia question, but thanks to the Googles that's too easy.
Wouldn't it be pretty safe to say a finesse pitcher like Maddux hasn't taken 'roids?
Rob Neyer (5:20 PM)
You're kidding, right? You don't think drugs can help a finesse pitcher? Or a banjo-hitting shortstop? Nate, my friend, if there's one common misconception among American sports fans, it's that drugs help only brawny sluggers and hulking power pitchers.
Fran (Helsinki, Finland)
What is the next great frontier in baseball for sabermetrics? Is it still some aspect of defense or are there other parts of the game that still remain bigger mysteries?
Rob Neyer (5:24 PM)
Defense is not yet hitting or pitching, but it's getting close, and might be very close inside a few organizations. I define sabermetrics broadly, so I would say the next great frontier is keeping pitchers healthy, especially young pitchers. Really, though, the next big thing is simply taking all this stuff and getting it on the field. That's what's going to separate organizations a decade from now, when every GM grew up with Moneyball and there are no secret defensive metrics.
Sean (New York)
I'm just wondering, I'm really big on Anthony Reyes, do you think he'll have the breakout season many writers are predicting him to have or just be mediocre?
Rob Neyer (5:25 PM)
I've been a fan since I saw him pitch for Memphis two years ago. I'm guardedly optimistic, but if he's healthy he'll make people forget about Suppan and Weaver.
So you think David Eckstein's done steroids?
Rob Neyer (5:28 PM)
I have no reason to think that he has. But why not? Because he's short? Because he plays shortstop? Because he's scrappy? Those do not seem to me good reasons.
R.J. (Washington, DC)
Winstrol strips a lot of the fat off your body. There's a reason guys like Alex Sanchez use PEDs. There is a PED for each type of player.
Rob Neyer (5:29 PM)
Exactly. Multiple PEDs for each type of player in every sport.
True or False: Doug Mientkiewicz will be the Yanks starting 1st Baseman?
Rob Neyer (5:30 PM)
You have a better plan? He won't play every day, but he'll start against righties until/unless he proves he can't hit .280, at which point the Yanks will decide to find somebody who can put a few runs on the board.
I've been trying for about 3 hours... 3 Questions, all imperative (and utterly boring at this point): 1) Does Bonds get indicted before breaking Aaron's record? 2) Does Congress get involved (again)? 3) Who does Clemens come back with? (and he will be back)
Rob Neyer (5:33 PM)
No (the wheels of justice turn slowly), No (they made their point, as clumsy as it might have been), and Yankees (because this is the summer that bad things happen to their rotation). Good enough?
Mark (Elgin, IL)
Rob, is WARP as simple as this: If Eric Patterson's WARP is 5.2 and De Rosa's is 3.2, the cubs win two more games with Patterson in the lineup than they would with De Rosa in the lineup?
Rob Neyer (5:34 PM)
Yes, it's that simple. The complexity's in the figuring, not the explaining.
Rob, I don't understand all this squawking about steriods. There was no testing for it, no rules against it, so FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, how can we now hold it against anyone, even Bonds. THEY BROKE NO RULES, PEOPLE!!
Rob Neyer (5:35 PM)
Ah, another misconception. There was no testing, and it's true that a rule that's unenforced is unenforceable. But there certainly *was* a rule against the use of illegally prescribed/obtained performance-enhancing drugs. That's a fact, Russ, like it or not.
Vin (Bethesda, MD)
This chat is never-ending! Are you a Cylon?
Rob Neyer (5:36 PM)
Kill me, and find out.
jim (Santa Cruz)
this is awesome, i read the first hour of your chat, went to the gym, had lunch, and i still have time to ask a question! so, what's the most likely postion the red sox will be looking to upgrade come the trade deadline?
Rob Neyer (5:38 PM)
Center field, if Cereal Man doesn't bounce back. Or right field if Drew breaks again. And of course the bullpen, but that's true of every contender to some degree.
Joshua (Ontario, Ca)
I know its a non-baseball question, but hear me out: I have been mulling over moving to either Flagstaff, AZ or Portland, OR. I was wanting to know if you could give me a small list of reasons why Portland is a good city to live in.
Rob Neyer (5:39 PM)
Oh, you wouldn't like Portland. We already have way, way too many people. Unless you're cool. In which case we'll find room for you.
Any chance we ever get a ball club here in Portland?
Rob Neyer (5:40 PM)
I've said this before, but here goes: in the absence of some general economic crisis in this country, Portland will have a major league team within the next eight or ten years. The demographics demand it.
Rob, last time I'll ask: does ERA have any value in a BB discussion?
Rob Neyer (5:42 PM)
Sure. I don't have a problem with ERA. Is it perfect? No. But it's not a dinosaur like batting average. Usually the guys with the best ERAs were roughly the best pitchers.
Have we really made it this far without a Matsuzaka question? (and your line for his season) P.S. THANK YOU!!!
Rob Neyer (5:44 PM)
I avoided all the popular topics for the first four hours, but just couldn't hold out forever . . . I'm a bit more optimistic than PECOTA, which has him at 12-9 with a 3.99 ERA. The ERA seems about right, but I would expect 14-16 wins, given reasonable health.
TZig (Fort Worth, TX)
My annual knuckleballer question... Who's out there besides Haeger who has caught your eye?
Rob Neyer (5:46 PM)
He's it. Three years ago I made a big to-do about Charlie Zink, and wound up looking foolish. Zink's still young for a knuckleballer, but last year in AAA he walked more than he struck out, so apparently still has work to do. I think we'll see him in the majors, but I have no idea when.
Portland? WE need to get rid of a few teams before we expand. I can understand moving the Royals or the Marlins before we expand. On that note what do you think about contraction? Get rid of 4 teams and play would get better right?
Rob Neyer (5:49 PM)
Contraction's a non-starter. Yes, there are some markets that cannot reasonably support a team: Kansas City, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, maybe another. But all those cities have recently spent many, many millions of dollars on their ballparks, so the teams aren't going anywhere. If we want emerging markets to have teams, expansion's practically the only option.
Which A's prospect do you like better - Daric Barton or Travis Buck?
Rob Neyer (5:51 PM)
I like Barton, because he's younger (even though it seems like he's been around forever now). Both have been hurt a lot, and both have very little defensive value. With luck, one of them is a long-term solution at DH or 1B.
What would you do about the Iran nuclear issue?
Rob Neyer (5:52 PM)
I'd put Sandy Alderson on the case.
You've said a lot, so how about you say something positive about the M's going into this year? And I hope Portland does get a team and call it the Pioneers...
Rob Neyer (5:53 PM)
Sure! There's a decent chance that Felix Hernandez becomes the second-best pitcher in the league this season.
Butler is hitting over .600 this spring. I know you don't put much stock into spring numbers but what are the chances he gets called up before September?
Rob Neyer (5:56 PM)
Not that good. The Royals are fairly deep in the outfield, and for some reason the GM seems committed to letting Butler make a fool of himself in the garden for at least a few months. They should just turn him into a DH and be done with it, and maybe Mike Sweeney's next visit to the orthopedist will carry the day.
Will (Panama City)
Is this the year BJ Upton finally lives up to the hype, or is he just another bust waiting to happen?
Rob Neyer (5:57 PM)
At the moment he doesn't even have an everyday job, which would make it hard for him to live up to anything. When he finally does get a job, he'll be good. I promise.
Neil (Forest Hills, NY)
Do you read Hollinger's NBA work? Any comment on how applicable SABasketballR type work is to that more team oriented sport?
Rob Neyer (5:59 PM)
Big fan of Hollinger, and also Dean Oliver (who's written books and now works for the Nuggets). I don't know that much of their work is directly applicable to baseball; more the way of thinking about the game, and all the relationships between events. I do believe that if you can analyze one sport, you can learn to analyze another, though it's certainly helpful to have the background knowledge that comes with being Hollinger or Oliver. And by the way, some NBA teams are doing some truly interesting work.
Rob, is Superman faster than the Flash? Just wondering. Thanks
Rob Neyer (6:02 PM)
Depends on which issue of Justice League of America you happen to be reading. My money's on Superman, though, as he obviously can travel faster than light.
MC (San Francisco)
Are you going to watch Shaq's new reality show about fighting childhood obesity? How about the Geico-inspired Caveman show on sister network ABC?
Rob Neyer (6:03 PM)
No to the first one, maybe to the second one. Here's something you wouldn't know unless you've looked at the Wikipedia entry for my high school; one of my classmates is one of the original Geico cavemen. Seriously!
Norm (Lake Katrine, NY)
New GMs -- what about Jed Hoyer?
Rob Neyer (6:05 PM)
Umm, you're taking us back a couple of hours . . . but yes, Jed Hoyer certainly goes in that group with Forst and Antonetti. Within three years they'll all be running teams, which will make my job a lot harder. I mean, mistakes will still be made. Just not nearly as many.
The trifecta is in play. I can't believe nobody has asked : who's going to the 2007 World Series, and who's winning it all? P.S. Thank you, thank you very much.
Rob Neyer (6:07 PM)
Indians top Padres in the Alderson-Hart Classic.
Who does the best projections each season?
Rob Neyer (6:08 PM)
I'm not going to give you a definitive answer because most of the people who do those projections are friends of mine. According to the *last* analysis I read, Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA was the most accurate system for both hitters and pitchers . . . BUT it depends on how you measure accuracy, and I will not declare a clear winner.
How could you even suggest getting rid of the Reds? I'm actually a Cardinals fan who lives in Cincinnati, but the Reds are the original team. No matter how low Cincinnati's population gets, removing the Reds would be insulting baseball's tradition.
Rob Neyer (6:10 PM)
I'm not suggesting that at all, Josh. What I'm saying is that the Cincinnati market is not, objectively, appropriate in the 21st century for an MLB team. At least not compared, demographically, to Portland or a few others. Especially if we look a decade or so into the future. Personally, I hope Kansas City and Cincinnati have their teams forever. But the fans have to show up.
Over/Under: 13 wins for Harden, 25 HR's for Piazza?
Rob Neyer (6:11 PM)
Under and under. I'm not real optimistic about the A's in general, see them in the 82-88 range for wins rather than 86-92.
The Dish, Elgin, IL
I'm having Stouffer's French Bread Pizza for dinner. Thoughts?
Rob Neyer (6:12 PM)
Sure. I've had it. Too much bread, not enough pizza. But hey, that's just me.
Ed (Cleveland, OH)
I paid over $200 for Police tickets. Am I an idiot? Keep in mind it kept me from buying tickets to multiple Indians games.
Rob Neyer (6:15 PM)
It's your money, friend. But I saw them do all the same songs during the Synchronicity tour -- what? 24 years ago? -- not sure why I'd want to spend that kind of dough to hear them again. I'll take new Shins songs any time.
How do we know this is Rob Neyer and not just some guy pretending to be Rob Neyer in the record chat?
Rob Neyer (6:17 PM)
Homer, are you suggesting that anybody else in the world could duplicate my particular brand of edutainment? You it's easy to make up words and conclude sentences with question marks? After having skipped lunch and subsisted entirely on Trader Joe's energy bars? I'm amazed and/or hurt...
Which old ballpark do you miss most? For me, it's Tiger Stadium.
Rob Neyer (6:19 PM)
I was there only twice so can claim no particular attachment. But of the ballparks I've visited, Tiger Stadium was easily my favorite. It could today be Detroit's version of Fenway or Wrigley, if only somebody pulling the levers had some imagination and heart.
I wonder what RoboKeith and Jim Callis will have to say about this record, since both of them have promised in recent chats to sit down one day and just destroy the record. Do you think they can still beat you?
Rob Neyer (6:23 PM)
The record won't last long. The baseball page is like a cage where the sharks are *inside*. I will say this, though: an inside source in Bristol tells me that both RoboKeith and RoboCallis have ill-paid assistants who type their answers, and sometimes take over completely for a few minutes when real work intrudes. So whatever happens, I'll always consider myself the record-holder.
Sam (Worcester, MA)
Would just like you to know that your wikipedia page has already been updated to declare you the alltime chat record holder.
Rob Neyer (6:25 PM)
Really? Wikipedia's the best thing about the GooglesNet. I mean, after ESPN.com. And that other website I mentioned but probably shouldn't have (hey, I forgot the literal meaning of the name!).
Dave B. (Tigard, OR)
Rob, Wow! Baseball Prospectus, with its blend of PECOTA and playing time projections, has the Cubs finishing atop the division with the Brewers (albeit at 84 wins). What's your take?
Rob Neyer (6:28 PM)
Really? I didn't know BP had posted their projections yet. I think 84 wins is reasonable, but I also think it's not likely that 84 wins is good enough for first place this season. Which isn't to say the Cubs' chance of topping 84 is worse than the other teams'. Just seems like a lot to ask from a team that won 66 just a year ago.
About Prior's horrible velocity yesterday (84-86mph). Does that come with time in spring training esp. for someone coming off of injuries like he has? Do you see him getting his velocity back to mid 90s anytime soon? Thanks.
Rob Neyer (6:30 PM)
I think these stories would be sort of funny if they weren't sad. If Prior weren't a former phenom, the Cubs would have released him a long time ago. I'd love to see him pitching well again, but isn't it clear that he's just not the same pitcher, and hasn't been for a long time?
Jeff (Ann Arbor)
I asked something close to this a couple of hours ago and since you're still here I'll ask again - what do you think of how Bud Selig is handling the DirecTV controversy? From what I read he seemed almost confrontational. Is baseball actually at risk of congressional intervention?
Rob Neyer (6:32 PM)
I think Congress ought to keep their grubby paws out of this. I'm not saying it's right, or fair, or any of that neat stuff. But I'm always reading about how our Congressmen don't have time to actually read the bills on which they vote . . . and they might have time for this?
If Simmons is allowed to say he hates Joe Morgan directly in his columns, you should be allowed to imply it in your chats.
Rob Neyer (6:34 PM)
I don't hate Joe Morgan. Not even close. I just think he's got a blind spot or two, especially when it comes to post-1980 baseball analysis and pre-1980 Cincinnati Reds. He's great w/Jon Miller on ESPN. As for Simmons, he's a wonderful writer and the rules for him are a bit different than for yours truly. Popularity has its perks. But you knew that already.
Can you explain how MLB benefits from an exclusive deal with DirecTV, instead of using all providers?
Rob Neyer (6:36 PM)
Umm, sure: MLB's going to get a big pile of cash, in exchange for exclusivity. Also, DirecTV apparently has guaranteed cooperation with the proposed MLB Channel, which I think is a good thing for all of us.
Tim (St.Paul, MN)
You like Sizemore better than Mauer long term? Care to explain why?
Rob Neyer (6:38 PM)
Sizemore's skills are a bit more broad than Mauer's, plus I think it's true that catchers don't age as well as centerfielders. For the next three or four years, though? Can't go wrong with either of them.
Rob Neyer (6:41 PM)
Okay, time to wrap things up. Thanks for sticking around, and a Gold Star if you were here for all six hours and thirty-seven minutes. Until next time, remember, "He who praises everybody, praises nobody."