Chat with Keith Law
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, MLB Insider Keith Law will be here to take your questions on anything baseball related.
Law is the senior baseball analyst for Scouts Inc. Before joining ESPN, Law served as special assistant to the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays and was a writer for Baseball Prospectus.
Send your questions now and join Law Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Klaw (1:01 PM)
A current or former NFL player has been accused of doing something bad. This is news?
Small sample I know, but Josh Vitters has finally started walking. Assuming this keeps up, and hopefully improves, how much does it help his stock as a prospect?
Klaw (1:02 PM)
It's the missing piece to make him a star offensively. But, like you said, it's early. Let's see him do it for a full year.
Hunter Morris and Jarret Parker, who didnt make your top 100, have been heating up lately. Can either of these guys play their way in? If you thought Parker could play CF would he be top 100? Thanks
Klaw (1:02 PM)
Morris more likely than Parker. I can't see Parker hitting with wood. Morris has raw power, but he's a below-average first baseman and not likely to get better from here.
Hate to bring it up again, but how long ago do you think Howard's deal would've been near-universally praised? 5, 10, 15 years?
Klaw (1:03 PM)
Five years ago the only critics would have been BP, BTF ... was Hardball Times alive then? and a few blogs. And 98% of the mainstream media wouldn't have noticed. Ten years ago, that's 100%.
Whats your feel on Tyrell Jenkins? Does he get drafted high enough to sign?
Klaw (1:05 PM)
I think he signs - he's not falling to the 15th round, given all the heat that's gone in to see him. And don't be shocked if he goes in the first round to a team that highly values athleticism in drafting for upside, like the Yankees did with Heathcott last year.
With Cleveland having the number 5 pick in the draft, and needing good power arms in the farm system, which pitcher do you think will be available for them, and what route do you think they go out of those guys?
Klaw (1:06 PM)
If Pomeranz is there, I think they'd take him. If not, it's a mixed bag. Ranaudo's not right. Taillon will be gone. Whitson would be a good choice, but they don't seem to do prep arms in the first round, and I imagine they'll be even more conservative at 5. I'm not sure who would be there who'd fit what you want and yet be someone they'd be likely to take, given their history.
JP (Columbus, OH)
Keith, a promising month of ball from Devin Mesoraco. Have you seen him lately? Word is he is in much better shape.
Klaw (1:07 PM)
Saw him in the spring - body looked better, couldn't do anything at the plate. Just one game, though.
I know it's old news, but explain to me how the Phils made one of the worst contracts with Ryan Howard. He's a given 40 HR, 140 RBIs in each of his 4 full years. He's led the team to 2 World Series and he is one of the (if not THE) most dominant Post All Star Break players (when it really counts)...
Klaw (1:08 PM)
Well ... RBI are useless as a measure of individual performance. The HR are fantastic, but doesn't consider what happened in the other ~650 PA. He didn't "lead" the team to any World Series - he wasn't even the best player on the roster - and unless they've changed the way the season works, a win in April is worth exactly as much as a win in September. Better?
What's wrong with Javier Vazquez? Is his struggles simply because hitting in the AL is that much better than in the NL?
Klaw (1:09 PM)
His velocity's down as well. Wouldn't shock me if he was hurt. If not, then that is some serious AL-East-anxiety at work.
Please mock the top 3 selections in the draft
Klaw (1:10 PM)
Seriously, that's the best they could do? My three-year-old could draft better than that. I've seen higher ceilings in a dollhouse.
Darryl (Oakland, CA)
If Max Stassi were in this draft and GMs knew he was going to play professionally, would he have been a first round pick as opposed to a fourth rounder?
Klaw (1:10 PM)
I think so. But I thought so last year, too.
So what's your expert take on Papi? Every time you think he's done, he hits another HR.
Klaw (1:13 PM)
A guy who's "done" isn't a 0-HR guy. (Well, unless it's Eric Byrnes, Professional Fourth Outfielder.) He can still hit a mistake, and even big league pitchers will hang a breaking ball or mis-locate a fastball. (And misremember doing it.) Ortiz is pretty close to done - the bat speed seems to be gone and I'm not sure why it would come back.
Any idea what KC is doing with Gordon? At this point what would it take for a team like Toronto, with a hole at 3B, to acquire him?
Klaw (1:14 PM)
The demotion/position switch is a pretty good sign that the Royals have no interest in turning him around. I imagine Dayton has gotten or will get a few calls on him. No idea what he'd want but I'm guessing you could get the guy for 60 cents on the dollar.
The biggest misperception about all this Ryan Howard contract criticism is that people are removing all context from it. If I may speak on your behalf, Keith is not saying that Ryan Howard is a bad player or that he wouldn't want him on his team. He's just saying that compared to what other superior players are being paid, the extension given to Howard does not make a ton of sense.
Klaw (1:15 PM)
Of course. And 99% of you already get that.
Mr. SKIA (MrSportsKnowItAll.com)
Any thoughts on the tasing? I can tolerate the excessive force argument, but if I hear one more person say "In a ballpark full of children," I'm going to lose it.
Klaw (1:16 PM)
I'm in favor. You have to assume the worst, like that he's carrying a weapon. Remember the fan that jumped on Bill Spiers' back? What if he'd had a knife? What's worse for the children - seeing a guy fall down from a taser hit, or watching a favorite player bleed out on the field?
With pick 3 do you see the O's going pitcher maybe somebody like Pomeraz or Taillon or position player maybe somebody like Machado?
Klaw (1:16 PM)
Taillon. That's about as strong a rumor as I've heard on any team other than Harper to the Nats.
the "will bryce harper sign" question is already annoying and he hasn't even been drafted yet.
Klaw (1:18 PM)
And he'll sign. Remember the article ESPN ran last July about how Strasburg wasn't going to sign? Harper's situation is a little different - he's four years younger and doesn't have to worry as much about a catastrophic injury - but his value right now is extremely high and we all know he wants to play pro ball. He'll get his money, and he'll sign, and he'll go mash in the instructional league for two weeks.
Brett Lawrie or Austin Romine?
Klaw (1:18 PM)
Hey Keith - in your last chat, you mentioned that the Jays being connected to Michael Choice didn't make much sense to you as his athleticism falls along the Lind/Snider lines. In reading scouting reports on Choice, it seems his athleticism is up for debate, as some reports agreed with you, while others said he could stick at CF and that he had great speed. Would you agree that Choice's athleticism is at least debatable, or would you probably tend to think those optimistic scouting reports were just wrong?
Klaw (1:19 PM)
I don't see it as debatable. He's not athletic or fast. By the way, those of you who (like Bret) want me to respond to someone else's article or report, please tell me whose report you're citing. It helps for a variety of reasons.
With the demotion of Alex Gordon and his new designation as a LF/1B, does that mean KC is opening the door for Mostakas who seems to be hitting quite well this year in Double A, 4 homeruns, slg% 860--although in only 43 at bats since he was hurt to begin the season. What happens to Gordon, a trade or utility role?
Klaw (1:21 PM)
Two issues with Moustakas: One, small sample, you mentioned. Two, hard to see him sticking at 3b. He and Gordon could still be connected since Moustakas might move to a position where Gordon might otherwise play. All that said, I think Gordon ends up traded and Moustakas sees AAA by year-end.
John (Sioux Falls, SD)
So if a cop pulls you over should he "assume the worst" and tase you? That just isn't how our society works. Cops assuming the worst and acting upon it, instead of simply preparing for it, would be a horrible thing.
Klaw (1:22 PM)
If a cop pulls me over for driving around like a maniac on, say, Warren Buffett's private estate? Yeah, I think my rights in that situation are somewhat limited.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA)
Klaw - I'm a Cardinals fan and I don't have a problem with your Cy Young vote last year, it's your vote and you had a valid reason for voting as you did. Anyway, can/will Pete Kozma be able to play SS in the majors? He has made a ton of errors, but that keeps getting down played due to MiLB field conditions, lack of talent around him, etc.
Klaw (1:23 PM)
I don't see him as an everyday player, didn't at the time of that draft (which made me a Cardinals-hater). He could still make it as a bench guy; the Cards have done pretty well getting some very fringy prospects to become useful bench players.
Adam J. Morris (Houston, Texas)
If you are the Rangers, what do you do with Chris Davis, who is once again mashing (.386/.426/.568) in AAA after struggling in the majors? Deal him later this summer or the offseason? Bring him up later on as a part-time player? Look at him as a DH/1B with Justin Smoak in 2011?
Klaw (1:24 PM)
Hey, lonestarball.com for the win. My belief is that you meet the developmental needs of the superior player/prospect (Smoak) first and deal with the second player after that. Smoak needs to play every day and man 1b. If DH is open, they could give Davis another shot. If not, he's got some trade value - not a ton, but he could be the 2nd or 3rd guy in a deal.
Klaw, are you getting any sense for the type of stategy the Blue Jays will employ with 9 picks in the first three rounds? I saw recently that Sickles' mock draft had them going with 'safe' college guys through the sandwich round. AA has aid they will be more risk tolerant - but i'm not sure how directly that statement applies to the draft.
Klaw (1:25 PM)
They're looking for ceiling. I expect a mix of prep and college guys, but I've heard them looking hard at guys like Aaron Sanchez at 11, and I bet they'd take Whitson if he falls there.
Loved your Ernie Harwell story on Allnight the other day. What are your thoughts on Daniel Fields moving to CF from SS? Good move? Also, what are your thoughts on them starting his career off in high A Lakeland as a 19-year-old?
Klaw (1:26 PM)
I've got limited looks at Fields, but if they felt he was never going to work out at SS (he was really rough there), then it's a smart move. I did think Lakeland was really aggressive - a month in low-A isn't going to hurt him.
jeff (new orleans)
Kevin Gausman seems to be shooting up the charts, what are your thoughts on him?
Klaw (1:27 PM)
Like the arm strength and delivery. But he gets hit, hard, by high school hitters. That concerns me.
Keith, I'm a Yankees fan and I do have a problem with your Cy Young vote last year, because every time Vazquez gets rocked I get to enjoy everyone from the Yankees announcers to the Baseball Tonight Crew to my Uncle Mike point out that he came in 4th in NL Cy Young voting last year. So thank you.
Klaw (1:28 PM)
Saying that Vazquez finished 4th in the NL CY voting is as misleading as the old story about the Soviet Union/US two-car race, where Pravda reported that the Soviets finished second while the US finished second-to-last.
Sam (Brooklyn, OH)
Is Brett Gardner for real or is this a mirage?
Klaw (1:29 PM)
More mirage than real.
Todd (Brewster, MA)
In light of recent developments, will you be redirecting your Spring Training adventures to the Sunshine State?
Klaw (1:30 PM)
No. I don't like the law or its implications - I'm the grandson of an illegal immigrant - but I am not stupid enough to subject myself to Grapefruit League drives and weather just to make a pointless point.
Mike (Rutland, Vt)
Keith,Have you heard anything yet on the draft strategy the Pirates might use this year? Similar to last year?
Klaw (1:31 PM)
At a general level, yes, similar to last year. The difference is that last year, they saw two can't-miss guys, but picked 4th, and both were gone. Now there's one guy in another league, then a group of 3-5 guys who are all in the mix to be called the second-best guy in the draft, and I believe the Pirates are considering all of them but the prep arms. (They'll take prep arms in later rounds, like last year.) I wrote a few weeks ago that if you don't take Matzek at 4 you're not likely to take Taillon at 2, and I think that's still valid.
Jamie (spartanburg SC [via mobile]
Have you heard about the pitcher from the Citadel? Asher Woj?
Klaw (1:32 PM)
Just wrote him up - I filed my first 25 player capsules for the draft today. Back of the first round; a team that believes he can start (+ velo, potential curve, big workhorse body) would probably pop him there, but some teams will say reliever (no change, iffy arm action, below avg command) and let him go.
Opryland Hotel (.)
Mr. Klaw, we would like to offer you a free 2 night stay in our hotel.
Klaw (1:33 PM)
I'll bring my snorkel.
I know he doesn't please the SABR slant, but where do you feel a player like Gary Brown ends up? The speed is an clear 8, and he shows a feel for the stick. Are we looking at a Juan Pierre type? Thanks.
Klaw (1:34 PM)
I think he's going to be a better defensive CF than Pierre. Brown's not my kind of player, but there's quite a bit of value there. You can't walk away from a guy who might be worth 10 runs above average with the glove and who should at least hit for average, albeit without many walks.
Yes I was in Greenland, but thankfully the Air Force only keeps us there a year at a time. What kind of sample size will Boston need to decide whether to bring up Lars Anderson?
Klaw (1:35 PM)
I don't think that'll even be on the table till mid-June. I know they never gave up on him - not a Royals/Gordon situation - but if I'm Theo or Cherington, my brain is still reminding me of how bad he was in '09 and trying to keep my own expectations down.
Jeremy (New York, NY)
On one of your recent lists you had Robbie Aviles at #85, however I'm hearing that he could be a mid 2d rd pick. Has he been moving up, or is this all talk?
Klaw (1:36 PM)
He could go there, but I wouldn't take him quite that high. I saw him shortly after filing that list, and I think I had him in the right spot. He's really projectable but the now stuff isn't good enough for me to slide him up much.
Stewie Griffin (Quahog)
KLaw, who are some LHP options that could go late first to early second. Outside of Britton it seems like the Red Sox dont have any. Could the other Harper be an option? Thanks.
Klaw (1:38 PM)
James Paxton is the only other LHP I've got in the mix for late first or sandwich right now. The next LHP on my list, Griffin Murphy, has slipped a little, not a sandwich pick at least, and no other LHP has jumped into that spot.
Can you recall a guy having as much luck as Austin Jackson a week into May?
Klaw (1:39 PM)
Seems like it happens every year, to a few guys. Forgive me if I'm not buying AJax' hot start or Zito's turnaround after 3 bad-to-miserable years based on a handful of games. Occasionally a hot April is a harbinger of a great year to come; the majority of the time, the player reverts to his old form or sees his luck run out.
ThatGuy (Saint Paul)
Obvious small sample size a side, Wilson Ramos appears to be a legit catching prospect that could play in the Majors regularly soon, likely within the next year. The twins have some guy, I can't remember who, there for a bit so what do they do with him?
Klaw (1:40 PM)
With what should be great draft in 2011, will teams be more inclined to sell this year in hopes of dropping. Also Will teams be more reluctant to sign type a FA next year?
Klaw (1:41 PM)
No to the first, probably to the second. A late first-round (16-30) pick in 2011 might be worth more than a pick in the 6-15 range this year.
cjb (madison, wi)
Hosmer and Trout top 25 prospects for next year? Both look to be off to great starts.
Klaw (1:41 PM)
If they continue, yes. Trout might be top 10.
Do you think Paxton made a mistake not signing with the jays?
Klaw (1:42 PM)
I don't know that it's going to work out for him financially, but how could he have foreseen the NCAA's witch hunt? They'd just been told by one local judge that they were full of it, but they tried their luck again. I hope more players fight back the way Paxton did, because the NCAA clearly doesn't believe they answer to anyone.
John Saunders (Port Republic, VA)
Although I actually care more about baseball, I feel compelled to ask if you've ever read Italo Calvino's If On A Winter's Night A Traveller and if so what you thought of it. (No need to worry about offending me, though it's one of my favorite books, as my father described it as "an intellectual enema" after I gave it to him to read.)
Klaw (1:43 PM)
Yes, one of my favorite books, better than "Invisible Cities," hwich is supposed to be Calvino's masterpiece but which made less than no sense to me.
Keith, I know it's too early to give up on Clayton Kershaw, but what is going on with him? He has taken a major step back this year and Tuesday night was a disaster, what's the next step?
Klaw (1:44 PM)
He's gone backwards. Billingsley's gone farther backwards. When one guy takes a step back, you look at him. When the two aces you were counting on to lead your rotation regress ... don't you look at the coaching staff?
Shannon (Huntsville, AL)
Seems like MLB is trying to make the draft an event on par with the NFL draft, but it's much harder for fans to enjoy "most of these guys will wash out in AA" than "this guy will be playing in months," and MLB's draft is kind of sprawling. Any ideas for improvements in the draft process?
Klaw (1:46 PM)
They're doing some small things to help, but it's going to be a gradual process. You can't turn it into a major event overnight. Having the first round and sandwich on TV again this year will help, and I think putting it in prime time is big, even if scouts don't love it. And I would like to think that what Jason and I do here helps as well - covering it like ESPN covers other drafts gives it credibility and informs readers so that you can have a stake in who your team takes.
Seems like most draft commentary I've seen has the O's preferring Taillon to Machado. But given their abundance of pitching and big hole at SS, shouldn't they at least be giving Machado a hard look?
Klaw (1:48 PM)
I don't think they've failed to do their due diligence on Machado, but I know several scouts and at least two directors who think Taillon is a special case, an advanced prep arm with present plus stuff who should be treated more like a college guy.
What 3-4 pitch types would your ideal starter employ?
Klaw (1:49 PM)
The basic template is fastball, breaking ball, change or split. But what matters is having the weapons to miss bats and get hitters on both sides of the plate out. If you can do that with a two-seamer and a cutter, go for it.
I never watch college baseball, but I caught some of the Texas game the other day. I was shocked that the pitch counts these guys were racking up - kids throwing 120 or 130 pitches. I know Texas' coach gained some notoriety for that, but is it pervasive throughout college baseball?
Klaw (1:50 PM)
He's one of the worst offenders, but yes, it's endemic. There's no accountability at all. The BC coach is another one who seems to think he can pitch these guys until they die on the mound.
What's the latest on AJ Cole and his projectability. Where is his velocity at these days and is he still a top half of the first round guy?
Klaw (1:51 PM)
Heard he threw up some 96s and 97s the other day. I don't know if he goes top 15 - haven't heard a team up there linked to him - but he was 19th on my last board and I doubt I'll move him up more than a spot or two.
Would you say batting average with RISP is more useful measure of individual performance than RBI? To me RBIs are all about opportunity. A #9 hitter could have the same number of hits and homers than a #4 hitter, but with fewer men on base when he got those hits, he'd have fewer RBI. Agree?
Klaw (1:52 PM)
Except that BA (or a more advanced stat) w/RISP is just going to track that same stat in all situations. Hitting with men on isn't a skill - there's a boost for all hitters that comes from getting the pitcher to work from the stretch, and that's it.
How about eliminating the draft and simply making them all Free Agents?
Klaw (1:53 PM)
I have suggested that. Or a modified draft where teams get a right of first refusal on players they take, rather than getting the monopsonist's right to dictate terms.
Keith, I was wondering about HS 3B/OF Josh Sale... how good is his offensive ceiling? Could he be the best non-Harper hitter this draft?
Klaw (1:54 PM)
Bat only? Maybe. He'd be in that discussion. But because he's more OF than 3B I'd take Machado over him.
Where is Yordy Cabrera (Lakeland H.S., Fla) project in the draft right now and do you see him as a future SS?
Klaw (1:54 PM)
He's not a shortstop. Maybe 3b. Know of a team or two that would put him on the mound.
Doesn't Wayne Graham deserve a mention for as a destroyer of young arms?
Klaw (1:56 PM)
He's in the Hall of Arm-Shredding Fame. You should have seen the induction ceremony - Townsend, Humber, Berry, St. Clair, Baugh, and Savery all came to praise Graham's efforts in shortening their careers.
As a Mariners fan, I have been waiting for Carlos Triunfel to advance through the minors and be a decent major league player. I knows he only 19-20, but is it time to give up on him?
Klaw (1:58 PM)
Too soon to give up on him. He'd be a college sophomore.
Chris Jones (Lorton, VA)
For what its worth, I disagree about the monopsonist-nature of the draft. Players always have the option of not signing. When they signed up for the draft, they agreed to 'play by the rules'. And yes, I had to look the word up.
Klaw (2:00 PM)
They don't sign up for the MLB Draft. And the "option of not signing" is - what? The alternative is to not play professional baseball. That's not an option.
Kyle Parker - Hits well, strong arm, leadership ability but not a great outfielder. Should teams draft him with the thought of trying him behind the plate? 1B/Dh if that doesn't work?
Klaw (2:01 PM)
Mistake hitter. Not a strong baseball arm. Who cares about "leadership ability." 1b/dh/LF. I know we typically grade a football guy up in the MLB draft, but this isn't Jared Mitchell.
Aaron (Long Island)
Curious, what's your ratio of questions submitted to questions answered?
Klaw (2:01 PM)
I have 1066 questions in the queue (many repeats, of course). You do the rest.
aaron (new york)
When is Chapman going to be called up? Is service time not an issue because he was signed as a free agent?
Klaw (2:02 PM)
Service time works the same for him.
Keith- can you rank the following Cubs minor league pitchers- Jay Jackson, Andrew Cashner, and Chris Carpenter?
Klaw (2:02 PM)
Just like that, 1, 2, 3.
Klaw (2:02 PM)
Matt from Chicago: Email me with that. I'd like to answer but not in the chat.
Daniel (Kansas City)
When does the revision of your top 100 draft prospects hit espn.com?
Klaw (2:03 PM)
That's up to my editors but I'm thinking next week.
What happened to David Cooper? Safe to label him a bust?
Klaw (2:03 PM)
David (Chicago, IL)
Do you believe Milton Bradly is sincere or does he just realize he is at the end of his rope.
Klaw (2:04 PM)
Maybe both. The criticism of Bradley from fans and media has always struck me as sad. If you're sitting at a computer, chatting here, tweeting, commenting on a message board, right there the odds are pretty good that you had an easier and better childhood than Bradley did.
Spencer (Washington DC)
Would an MLB combine be of any assistance to talent evaluators?
Klaw (2:05 PM)
Yes, that's what the Compton workout in February is, on a smaller scale. And there were at least 150 scouts there.
Klaw (2:07 PM)
OK, I'm wrapping this up - going to pick up my daughter from school and take her shopping for a Mother's Day gift. Thanks for the questions - I'll be back next week.