Chat with Baseball America's John Manuel
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Baseball America Archives: Chats
John Manuel (1:59 PM)
Hey, John Manuel here pinch-hitting for Jim. I've got WBC fever and the only cure is more chat questions. Send 'em in, Jerome.
who is the best basball player do you think?
John Manuel (2:00 PM)
Nice, open-ended question. Sometimes when I'm watching the WBC, I think it might be Frederich Cepeda, he's so money and he doesn't even know it. He's probably Cuba's best player though he's not Cuba's best prospect. Albert Pujols probably is the best answer to this question, even though he plays first base. In the past I might have said A-Rod, but I won't say that anymore.
I noticed Zimmermann is in place as the Nationals fifth starter on the depth chart this week. What kind of year could he have?
John Manuel (2:03 PM)
He's probably ready. I haven't caught him this spring yet, but I did our Eastern League prospects list last year and he was the NO. 2 pitcher in that league, behind only Chris Tillman. He's athletic, he has good size, arm strength, gaining experience. He has a higher ceiling than any pitcher the Nats have, major or minor league side. That said, I wonder how good that team will be; doesn't seem like it's even average in any capacity, especially defensively. Hard to see Zimmermann having a great rookie year under those circumstances.
Brett (Albany NY)
DO THE GIANTS HAVE A SHOT THIS YEAR IN THE WEST ?
John Manuel (2:05 PM)
Any team that starts its rotation with Lincecum, Cain, J. Sanchez and Randy Johnson has a chance. That's four power arms, balance of left and right, upside potential, a good veteran to take a chance on . . . yes, the Giants have a shot. A lot has to come together for them offensively and defensively in the field, like a dead-cat-bounce year from Edgar Renteria, and a big quasi-rookie season from Pablo Sandoval.
Is Travis Snider a great all-around player?
John Manuel (2:05 PM)
No. But he's going to be a great power hitter, I could see him leading Toronto in home runs this year if he gets regular playing time.
Danny (Yonkers, NY) [via mobile]
Do you see Brad Holt being able to refine his offspeed pitches enough to be a starter or is he destined for the bullpen?
John Manuel (2:07 PM)
Love Brad Holt. (a) He pitches off the fastball. (b) He commands the fastball and has plus velocity on it. (c) That makes his other pitches play up; they don't have to be as good, because hitters almost always have to look dead red. (d) His breaking ball has shown plus potential; it's not like he can't spin it, and he has the hand speed scouts look for that is required to spin a breaking ball. I'm a believer; I actually think he's a better, less-hyped, less-expensive version of Mike Pelfrey.
NPS (Nashville, TN)
How long do you anticipate it taking for Strasburg to sign? (I'm in a dynasty baseball league and am considering not using the waiver wire at all this season to get the top spot in order to grab Strasburg when he hits the wire. But if he doesn't sign during the season, that strategy is worthless.) Thanks for the scoop!
John Manuel (2:12 PM)
Not trying to tell you how to run your fantasy team -- I'm just not good at fantasy sports. But holding out for Strasburg doesn't seem wise. He's going to be outstanding; I think we can say that. Here's a long answer: College baseball's current era began in 1999, when (a) the 64-team field began and (b) the bats went from -5 bats to -3 bats. In that decade, Mark Prior and Jered Weaver have put up the best seasons by college pitchers. Prior was a stud before Dusty Baker and Larry Rothschild beat the life out of his shoulder. Weaver, a very different pitcher, has been a productive big leaguer nonetheless, though he has not been as dominant as Prior was at his big league peak. Strasburg is better than both of them, and JIm Callis has a great column coming in the next BA about why the online frenzy about Strasburg's mechanics is overblown and frankly ridiculous. Expect him to be a true No. 1 starter, as Prior was before his injury. Seems like he's a bit better than even Prior was. From a fantasy standpoint, I guess the question is will he be so much better than every other pitcher so as to forego every other player, I am guessing the answer to that question is no.
Will Chad Reineke ever be a starter in the majors?
John Manuel (2:13 PM)
No, maybe a middle guy, that's the ceiling for me. (Wanted to counter my previous long answer with some shorter ones.)
Does Lance Broadway have good stuff?
John Manuel (2:13 PM)
Compared to me, yes. Compared to major league starters, he's fringy, though his command is good enough to make it work. He's in the wrong organization; Ozzie G. liked his power arms. I do think Broadway can be a reliable No. 5 starter for a good team, just not for Ozzie Guillen.
How much longer can the Angels ignore Brandon Wood's performance this spring? Sciosa just said that he doesn't plan to keep Wood at short, even though he's defensively capable and much better offensively than both Izturis or Aybar. Wood is hurt by the perception of him as a bust as a prospect when in fact, he's developed very well over the last few years, bettering himself in all facets of his game.
John Manuel (2:17 PM)
The perception of him by fans has nothing to do with Scioscia's perception of him. I'm not sure what Scioscia's issue with him is, but he's around him every day and also knows what he wants. Aybar is a pretty good player, and both of those guys are better defenders than Wood. That said, I wish Brandon Wood were, say, a Twin, where he'd fit perfectly in the lineup, but who knows if Gardenhire would play him at SS either? My guess is he wouldn't, he'd slide Wood to 3b. If Wood were a Giant, I'd pick SF to win the West. Give that guy 500 ABs, and I'd peg him for a .260/.320/.480 season with 20-25 homers, and average defense at short. I think that's a realistic expectation of Brandon Wood. But Mike Scioscia is better at his job than you or I at ours.
Dean, Madison WI
How much is Rice's Ryan Perry climbing up the rankings? He is having a fabulous start to the season. THANKS.
John Manuel (2:18 PM)
Aaron Fitt, our national writer for college baseball, and I have talked a lot about Berry this year. He has one bad start at Cal Poly and three Strasburg-esque starts, three straight CGs, no earned runs in any of 'em. He's pitched his way into the first round, it appears. Very impressive for a guy that frankly I have knocked repeatedly in our college podcasts.
Thanks John for the chat. Do you have a scouting report handy for Arodys Vizcaino? I've heard a plethora of reports and that he can sit 92-94, touch 96, and has a power curveball that projects to be plus. I know he's just 17 but who is there a reasonable comp. for his stuff?
John Manuel (2:19 PM)
I wrote him up in our Prospect Handbook, he's the Yankees' No. 18 prospect. I went a little older on the Yanks' list this year, and Vizcaino certainly could rank higher on pure ceiling. He has an electric arm, your report is accurate, command and coming up with a third pitch are two challenges he, like most teenage pitchers, faces. He's 18 and probably headed to full-season ball this year, very exciting prospect to watch.
Is Angel Villalona going to be a great third baseman for years to come?
John Manuel (2:20 PM)
No. He's a 1B; he's pretty comparable, actually, to Travis Snider -- bad body, big, big bat.
Dave (DC) [via mobile]
With a good (great except for one start) had RS SO Sam Dyson from South Carolina improved his draft stock?
John Manuel (2:21 PM)
He's helping his cause, but now he's into SEC play and his first start didn't go well. Aaron Fitt will be in Columbia this weekend and will have a report on Dyson's second start, against LSU, on Monday in BA's college blog.
Matthew (Watertown, MA)
I know he's still young and has owned the minor leagues, but will Ian Kennedy ever become an effective major league starter?
John Manuel (2:22 PM)
I go back and forth on old Ian K. His '07 year is hard to deny, but he was a reach at 21 in the draft, I think it's fair to say he was not a consensus first-round pick. He just has to be so fine; I don't think there's much difference between him and, say, Jeff Manship of the Twins. Kennedy's a 4/5 guy at best; he most likely will have to be in a different organization to fulfill his ceiling.
adrian santa ana ca [via mobile]
can team usa win the world baseball classic?
John Manuel (2:27 PM)
Well, only five teams are left, and the U.S. is one of them, so the short answer is yes. The long answer also is yes, but someone other than Roy Oswalt has to pitch well. By the way, Oswalt is rivaling Ben Sheets as the best pitcher in USA Baseball's pro history for me. He was a stud in 2000, pitching in two wins against Korea (no small feat), and he's anchored the '09 rotation. He needs one signature start though, like Sheets had in Sydney. Maybe he turns it in in LA this weekend. I still think South Korea has to be considered the favorite now, though -- they went undefeated in Beijing and they are playing amazing baseball right now. I'm just so impressed.
Craig (St. Louis, Mo.)
Love the chats, so thanks. Where would Carlos Gonzales have landed on the Colorado prospect list had he qualified?
John Manuel (2:29 PM)
Either No. 2 or No. 3; I've never seen Gonzales as a future star, more as a solid-average guy, maybe an Andre Ethier at this stage is his ceiling. I tend to think Jhouylis Chacin is more of a workhorse than a future ace, so I'd say No. 2, but behind Dexter Fowler.
jumpin' Atlanta Ga
Is the Phillies' Jason Donald more valuable as a trading chip (lots of people need middle infielders) or the 3rd baseman of your 2010 Philadelphia Phillies?
John Manuel (2:31 PM)
More as the 3b, because the consensus of scouts outside the organization is that he's a below-average SS. Everybody has a below-average SS in their system. I like the bat, and so do the Phillies; I've said it before, he's a better version of David Bell for me.
Jake [via mobile]
Who is the yankees most promising prospect.
John Manuel (2:33 PM)
Austin Jackson has a high ceiling and is close to reaching it. Jesus Montero has a higher ceiling but has a mature body that could go downhill fast, and probably won't remain a C. You could choose either as their most promising; I picked Jackson, managers in the Eastern League raved about his intangibles more than I've heard about any player in some time. If he played football, he'd be considered a "playmaker." Don't hear that too often in baseball circles.
Gavin (Berkshire County)
Looking at the Pirates outfield (slumping Morgan & injured Moss) do you see McCutchen making the leap? He has been improving at the plate and playing terrific defense for them this spring.
John Manuel (2:35 PM)
N. Morgan should not be a factor; he's just not a regular. McCutchen makes an awful lot of sense for them in CF, with McLouth moving to a corner. Don't see a lot of downside for the Pirates there.
Bren, Pearl River, NY
In terms of coverage, would you prefer that Baseball adopt an international draft, or is the current system better? Which would be better from a scouting perspective?
John Manuel (2:37 PM)
Don't see how an int'l draft would work, don't see how it's feasible. From a scouting perspective, I think the current system is better; it generally rewards teams that work harder and make a commitment to scouting in an area.
KO (Pittsfield, MA)
Chris Davis or Matt LaPorta for strictly offense and both having an equal number of plate appearances?
John Manuel (2:38 PM)
Davis, but it's close. We almost seem to forget about LaPorta from time to time. He's pretty stout, but Davis has done it in the major leagues. He's less selective but has more raw power and has shown an ability in the past to adjust and make more consistent contact while maintaining his power.
T. Miller (Las Vegas)
Is Ted Lilly under-rated? In his two years with the Cubs, he is 32-17 in 68 starts. He pitched over 200 innings both years and has an ERA right around 4.00. Do the Cubs re-sign him when his contract is up in two years?
John Manuel (2:39 PM)
He's rated just fine. Did you see him pitch last night for Team USA? He's not pitch efficient and never will be. Nothing against Ted Lilly, but he was not the guy I would think Team USA hoped to have on the mound with its WBC future on the line.
Ethan (County Court)
Do you think Carlos Gomez is going to improve his hitting approach dramatically or is he basically just a speed/defense guy?
John Manuel (2:42 PM)
I think he will be a better hitter than he was as a rookie. I doubt his approach will change much; he'll always be an aggressive hitter. I believe in his tools, bat speed, raw power potential and athleticism; he will have some years where he's an average or above-average offensive player, but I don't see him being a consistent offensive force unless he DOES drastically refine his hitting approach. If he's an average offensive player in terms of BA/OBP/SLG, he's an all-star, because he'd steal 50-70 bases and be a Gold Glove defender. I personally love watching him play.
Blake (San Francisco)
Hi John, what non-major leaguers have you seen in the WBC that should prosper in the show?
John Manuel (2:46 PM)
Just about every Korean infielder, they can all pick it; Yu Darvish was very impressive last night in defeat, he was wild in the first and just locked it down after that; Hyun-jin Ryu for South Korea and Albertin Chapman of Cuba would be in my personal Top 10 prospects in all the minors if they were in affiliated ball, Ryu for his plus pitchability and solid stuff, Chapman for sheer stuff, he throws harder than any LHP I've seen; Cuba's entire OF could play for me, same with Olivera at 2b and of course Yulieski Gourriel; and Korea's closer from last night, Lim, was legit. It would be fascinating to talk to scouts about this, but Korea, Japan and Cuba, if you put all three teams in a 162-game setting, they all seem like 90-100 win teams for me, with Cuba probably the best team in the long haul because of its power bats, which Korea and Japan seem to be lacking a bit. I have to imagine Cuba would figure out the pitching but right now, Cuba's hitters are way ahead of their pitchers, they've never really replaced Jose Contreras at the front of the rotation. That pool is some of the best baseball I've ever seen, very sad to not be there in person.
Darryl, Vancouver, B.C.
Is Daniel Murphy the real deal?
John Manuel (2:47 PM)
His bat is very much for real; similar production to Ryan Church at his best, I think that's reasonable. He can flat hit--great job by the Mets to nab him late, there were some medical issues (knee injury) and defensive questions that Murphy has answered emphatically, but that's why he fell in the draft, and the Mets have benefitted.
JaSoN San Diego
I realize Madison Bumgarner is young, but with the exception of MLB Network's 30/30 spot on the Gigantes, why have I not heard more national mention of him?? 141 innings pitched, 168 k's and only 21 w's with a 1.something ERA!! wow I mean Timmy (Lincecum) didn't even have that efficient of a campaign starting out. Am I just being impatient?
John Manuel (2:52 PM)
You're being a bit ignorant, really; we've been writing about MadBum for several years. He was one of the first posts when our Draft Blog debuted in spring 2007; he was a first-round pick that year; he was the best pitcher in the minor leagues last year. Glad you noticed. He's not Lincecum, won't be that kind of guy, doesn't have Lincecum's breaking stuff and never will. He's gotten some John Smiley comps from scouts that I've talked to, and at his peak Smiley was quite good, 20-game winner. Bumgarner will be an excellent complement to Cain & Lincecum in the Giants rotation, I'd say sometime in 2010.
Tommie (San Diego)
The handbook named Simon Castro as the Padres breakout prospect. Any chance you can elaborate on him?
John Manuel (2:56 PM)
Probably the second-best power arm in the system after Matt Latos; better makeup than Latos, but that's like saying Ty Lawson is better than Bobby Frasor. He's got command issues, big body, still getting used to it, should have enough fastball to be the best Tin Caps pitcher this coming season. (That's Fort Wayne Tin Caps.)
If Aroldis Chapman were eligible for June's draft, he would go in the __ - __ range
John Manuel (2:56 PM)
No. 2 or No. 3 overall.
Larry weinstein Rivervale N.J>
Would you trade Daniel Murphy for Delmon Young ?
John Manuel (2:58 PM)
No if I'm the Twins, because I don't think Murphy defends well enough at 3b for what that org expects. Yes if I'm the Mets, because I still believe Delmon will figure it out and be a star down the line.
Louis (Lincoln Park)
So Delmon has had a great spring - certainly the best of all those in a crowded MN outfield, and apparently this is b/c of Gardy lighting a fire, and some swing tweaks. So, there's no way that they cant play him everyday is there? I mean, his cieling is way higher than anyone else on the mix, and he is younger too. I baffled by this even being a question.
John Manuel (3:03 PM)
I think he's got to play, but . . . Cuddyer has a huge contract; they are invested in Gomez, having dealt Santana for him; Kubel at DH is a stud; and Span had a great year last year. That Cuddyer contract is looking pretty unfortunate for the Twins right now. It certainly would help if Delmon's defense improved; I haven't seen him this spring but he can be extremely tentative out there, doesn't take good routes, should be a better defender than he is. That's been said about him for several years now.
Chris Carter = Ryan Howard?
John Manuel (3:06 PM)
Probably not; I mean, do you know how good Ryan Howard is? He's already got a Black Ink rating of 17, HOF avg. is 27 (thanks, B-Ref). He's led the NL in HR per AB three straight years. Carter is an exciting prospect, but it's hard to imagine him having as good of a career as Howard has had. Still like him a lot, but Ryan Howard is probably the best pure power guy in baseball right now.
Kevin (San Jose)
Its so hard to get an accurate reading Pablo Sandoval. He raked in 08, but wasnt even BA's Top 10 list going into the year. Bill James projects .320/.357/.500, w/ 17hr and 103 rbi. Some say his low BB rate cant sustain that success, while others say he hits it hard and has great contact. So...what is the real scoop and can he really be a superstar with the stick?
John Manuel (3:08 PM)
I'm with Bill James; if you've read any of our writing on Sandoval, you'll know (a) he ranked on our Top 30s previously, '05 and '06; (b) he's a unique prospect, the kind scouts have a hard time assessing; (c) the Giants don't know hitters. The Giants missed on their own player as much as anyone did. They didn't believe in Sandoval as an everyday guy. Some guys don't have to walk to be productive, he's one of the guy I think can do that.
Wes (San Francisco, CA)
Say Posey, Gillaspie and Villalona all reach the bigs - where does that leave Pablo Sandoval?
John Manuel (3:10 PM)
Good question. I honestly don't know the answer. If Sandoval is the established, productive 4 or 5-hole hitter, he'll either be good trade bait or will force a trade of Big V. I don't think he's going to be an everyday C or 3B in the majors, I think he'll work out best at 1B.
Mike (San Diego)
Word out of San Diego is that Kyle Blanks is going to start taking fly balls in Left Field before minor league games. Can a guy that big be an average defensive outfielder?
John Manuel (3:13 PM)
He runs quite well for a big man; average speed. I think he could be average on a different ballpark/team. In Petco, it's hard to imagine him not being a liability, there's just more ground to cover out there. It's not like they have Garry Maddox or Torii Hunter or Jacoby Ellsbury in CF, either.
Timmy L., San Francisco, CA
Long-term career -- Freddie Freeman, Mike Stanton or Logan Morrison?
John Manuel (3:14 PM)
Nick, San Carlos, CA
Have the Giants vault in farm system rankings earned Brian Sabean another contract regardless of their MLB record this year? If not, what has to happen for him to keep his job.
John Manuel (3:15 PM)
He's still capable of some rough MLB contracts (Rowand, Zito, Renteria this offseason), but if the Zito contract didn't cost him his job, what will?
Timmy L., San Francisco, CA
How are Grant Green's struggles affecting his draft stock? Is my dream of Green taking shortstop on opening day 2011 for the Giants realistic with the 6th pick?
John Manuel (3:17 PM)
Reports we've gotten say the tools are all still there, but he's pressing. Tulowitzki fell to 7 in 2005, when most considered him the No. 3-5 range. So it could happen, but signs point to no.
What is your take on David Price possibly starting the season in the minor leagues?
John Manuel (3:17 PM)
Love it, would get to see him in Durham vs. Matt Wieters & Norfolk early in the season. Bully for me!
what is your take on the WBC...do you think they are extending pitchers a little more then they should...(i.e. 85 pitches as compared to 60)
John Manuel (3:19 PM)
They're doing the best they can with all the different constituencies they have to satisfy. If you've watched, the quality of play has been quite high, pitch limits or not. Tweaks I'd make: (a) start later in spring training, (b) play games in shorter span of time, (c) play first two rounds (about where we are now) in spring, (d) bring final four teams to all-star week, play semifinals and finals in lieu of All-Star Game, two days, three games in mid-July. That would kick some serious tail.
Would anyone be talking about Austin Jackson if he was in Pittsburgh's system? The overblown attention reminds me of the great Eric Duncan.
John Manuel (3:20 PM)
Eric Duncan was overblown; Jackson has actually accomplished something above A-ball, and he's more athletic. If he was in Pittsburgh, he'd be called Andrew McCutchen. I consider them very similar players.
Derek (St. Paul)
Brian Duensing--better option than Perkins for the 5th starter spot in the Twins rotation? How good is his stuff?
John Manuel (3:21 PM)
Not as good as Perkins'. Jeff Manship's a better in-house option, as is Kevin Mulvey; maybe even Phil Humber. Duensing's a better bullpen fit, for me.
Joe from San Fransisco, CA
If Tate and Ackley are both available at #6, who would the Giants choose?
John Manuel (3:22 PM)
I'd take Ackley, b/c I believe so much in the bat, and he probably will not cost as much as Tate, either. Tate's ceiling might be a shade higher; it would be an easier decision if Ackley had just played some CF. But he hasn't. Tough call but I think Ackley could have batting titles in his future.
I saw that Brandon Crawford didn't even register as a top 30 prospect for the Giants. Shouldn't his above average tools alone put him in there?
John Manuel (3:23 PM)
No, he has to show he can hit, and he really hasn't done that yet.
Rich (Evanston, IL)
Isn't your answer to the Chris Carter- Ryan Howard comparison a bit misleading? It seems you are comparing Carter's potential with what Howard has already done in the majors. No mior leaguer could stand up to that. In fact Carter's minor league stats are almost identical to what Howard's were. Isn't that a better barometer?
John Manuel (3:26 PM)
I think the question was misleading; I don't think it's fair to Carter to compare him to the best HR hitter in the major leagues. In fact, I think the comparison was made because both are black. There are many difference -- Carter is more athletic, can play other defensive positions and is younger than Howard was in the minors. That said, I think Howard's hit tool is always under-rated, and his pure hit tool is better by a grade, maybe 1.5 grades, compared to Carter's. Howard > Carter was my main point, but also Howard and Carter are quite different. Thanks for the opportunity to follow-up in more depth.
Whats the difference between Rick Porcello and Tim Alderson?
John Manuel (3:27 PM)
Porcello throws harder more consistently and has a better slider.
John, I seem to be one of the few who think the Rockies can replace Holliday between Spillborghs, Smith, Stewart, and Murton. Crazy?
John Manuel (3:28 PM)
I think you are a bit unbalanced on that, yes, I don't think that group will make up for Holliday's loss.
John Manuel (3:29 PM)
That's going to have to be it for me. Thanks for the time and interest.