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Monday, November 24, 2003
rob neyer was a big part of my path towards understanding baseball (i'm still on it.) it was he who led me to the importance of on-base percentage, he who showed me the wisdom of bill james.
rob's too busy writing books these days to produce good columns, but i thought it'd be fun to run some commentary on a recent chat.
Rob Neyer: Welcome to the Internet, Citizens! Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies!
the contrapositive, of course, is "if i tell you a lie, then you asked a question."
Anthony (Long Island, NY): Who will Nick Johnson be posting a .440 OBA for next season?
Rob Neyer: Perhaps I'm naive, but I don't think Steinbrenner's so rash that he'll order Brian Cashman to trade Johnson, who's got a chance to become an impact hitter.
steinbrenner is definitely that rash. he ruined the yanks in the eighties, and he'll ruin them again. in the 80's, he screwed the farm system with big free-agent signs. sound familiar? if you have no farm system, then you cannot have any of the best players in the game, because players peak at 28, and they're usually not free yet. also you have no bench, and no insurance against injuries. cf: enrique wilson. next year, the red sox win the division. then they start fighting the blue jays.
that said, cashman will not trade johnson unless it's a blockbuster.
he shouldn't trade him at all, though, because nick johnson will be one of the best five hitters in the game over the next five years. if you doubt, let's talk in 2008.
i don't know what rob means by "impact hitter", but either there are only a few or we're far apart in our evaluation of nj.
the only danger, and it is significant, is injury. nick's had wrist issues, which is scary.
stan from baltimore: How soon, if ever, do you see the O's pulling off a trade for Derrek Lee or Richie Sexson and which one do you think is a better fit for the O's? Also, a lot of people have called the O's the favorites to land Vlad Guerrero. Truthfully, how likely are we to land him?
Rob Neyer: I think either Lee or Sexson would be a fine addition for the Orioles, though Sexson's talents might play slightly better in Oriole Park, which is a pretty good place for a right-handed power hitters. And I do think Guerrero might end up in Baltimore, him or Tejada.
wrong again, rob. the orioles do not need to sign free agents, and they do not need to trade for expensive players who are past their prime. this is not the al central we are talking about. they are in a division with the yankees and the red sox. the only way to beat those guys is to get good young players, players who are improving. signing a player at his peak results in years of overpayment, with threefold missed opportunity: (1) you could have spent the money elsewhere. (2) if he's a free agent, you lose picks; the farm suffers. if it's a trade, obviously you lost talent, and it was probably young. (3) the only way to go is down, not up.
Gus ( Pasadena): Who are the front-runners for Tejada ? If he switches to the NL ...do you think he will still put up the same type of numbers?
Rob Neyer: Yeah, he'll put up the same numbers in either league. Tejada obviously played a bit over his head in 2002, but he was damn good in 2003 and that's the player that he really is. Tejada's bargaining position is somewhat limited because the Yankees and Red Sox already have shortstops they like quite a lot. I can see him signing with the Angels, the Dodgers, or the Orioles.
i have no idea who'll sign tejada, but rob is pretty correct on this one. his 2002 avg was clearly luck, but 2003 had a horrid start, so i would say he's somewhere in between. tejada, by the way, is an underrated defender, as are all a's. even eric chavez. people think he's the best in the game, but he's one of the best of all time.
it's not the pitchers; it's the defense. who knew that was the best way to find marginal value? waitaminnit, i think we have our answer. . . .
Tim (San Jose, CA): Billy Bean has now traded away the last two AL Rookies of the Year (Berroa, Hinske). Why does it seem like he still can only make trades with his friends (Riccardi, Towers)? He clearly has a history of trading talented players, can other GMs be ignoring good trades just because they don't like him?
Rob Neyer: First, I'm not at all sure that a significant number of GM's are "ignoring good trades" because they don't like Billy Beane. He's a likeable guy. Your basic point is a good one, though . . . For all the talk about the A's fleecing other clubs, they've traded away some pretty good playeres.
no, it's not a good point. let's look at those trades . . . hinske was traded for billy koch, who filled a need (closer), and was turned into keith foulke, who is a killer, plus mark johnson and joe valentine. johnson is a useful catcher and valentine is a live arm that went to the reds as part of the jose guillen trade. we've gone on a bit of a tangent, but that is a retarded series of upgrades.
plus, where was hinske gonna play?
berroa was part of a nine-player deal that also included the tampa bay devil rays. the a's lost aj hinch and ben grieve (another rookie of the year). but they got johnny damon and mark ellis. just damon would have been worth it. he's an incredible fielder. oh yeah they got corey lidle too.
it's not fair.
the a's trade good players because they have good players. loads of 'em.
Ivan Drago (Russia): Favorite all-time name for a MLB player? Mine would have to be Razor Shines.
Rob Neyer: Two that come to mind: Biff Schlitzer and Squiz Pillion.
rob wins this one. all i can think of are piano legs hickman and old hoss radbourne.
Andy, Farmington Hills, MI: Rob, In some of your columns, you have eluded that your upcoming book is about knuckleball pitchers. The title seems to imply that the book is about any/all pitchers. So what is it about?
Rob Neyer: I've never said I was writing a book about knuckleball pitchers (though it's certainly true that for years I've fantasized about writing that book). The new book is about pitches, pitchers, and pitching. If you want to know who invented the forkball, or the difference between a cut fastball and a slider, or what was Biff Schlitzer's best pitch, the new book (out next spring) will be able to help.
apparently it's co-written with bill james. i'm psyched.
Happy Jack Chesbro (New York): If you had to start your team with one current player, who would it be and why?
Rob Neyer: Honestly, I can't imagine making a decent case for anybody but Alex Rodriguez. Albert Pujols is young and he's great, but in two or three years he's going to be a slow first baseman. And he's easily the No. 2 candidate behind Rodriguez.
come on, rob, have a little imagination! how 'bout eric chavez? or nick johnson? or hank blalock? all of these players will have more value from now than a-rod or pujols.
i would take mark prior, personally. although the workload he's gotten scares me a little.
other possibilities: marcus giles, rafael furcal, josh beckett. i would actually take nomar garciaparra before a-rod. contact hitters last longer.
Jay (Saskatoon, Sask): I think Carlos Delgado should have been MVP. I think his stats were better and he at least played for an above .500 team.
Rob Neyer: His stats were better and he did play for a better team . . . but he also played first base. Delgado would have been a fine choice for MVP, but I rate him and Rodriguez as dead even.
delgado was better, but it's close.
Steve(Oakland): Ok, If you had to pick one pitcher, who would it be?
Rob Neyer: Well, this one's as easy as the other one, isn't it? Looking at a combination of performance and age, Mark Prior blows everybody away. This does ignore the inherent injury risk, and if there was a 27-year-old pitcher with obvious Hall of Fame talent and a record of great performance, he might ace out Prior. But I don't see that pitcher anywhere.
kerry wood has obvious hall of fame talent and a record of great performance, and he's 26, but prior is better.
Dan (Minnepolis): What do you think of the Twins trade of Pierzynski and who else if anybody, do you see them dealing?
Rob Neyer: Good trade for both teams. The Twins had three catchers (Pierzynski, LeCroy, Mayer) who could start for most teams, and the Giants had pitching to spare. As for who the Twins might still trade, they've still got two or three more outfielders than they can use.
the twins probably win this one, because they cut a lot of salary. but pierzinski's a hell of a player.
Dan (los angeles): ROB! WHAT IS BILLY BEANE DOING? TELL ME HE HAS A PLAN! (I like dumping T. Long and think Ramon had a fluky year, but Lilly for Kielty??!!)
Rob Neyer: I'm sure Billy has a plan, but I'm not sure (yet) if it's a good plan. I'm actually writing about this in my column today, and could use another piece of information . . . Does anybody out there know the details of Hernandez's contract, from now through its conclusion?
looks like rob got the details, but it's apparently not certain now that the trade will go through. we'll see. anyway, the value here is in dumping long.
the kielty/lilly trade is also a money-saver. plus kielty is a quality defender.
beane wins both.
Ron, Israel: Hi Rob, I'm a big Bonds fan, but I simply cannot understand how he won the MVP almost unanimously.It surprised me that almost no one paid attention to his extremely low AB and Plate Appearances totals (I havn't checked, but it might have been the lowest ever for an MVP). His absence from the lineup (due to injuries and his father's situation) obviously hurt his team (as can be seen by his low RBI totals). How can a guy who plaid only 80% of the time (130 games) be MVP?
Rob Neyer: I would have voted for Bonds, but the argument for Pujols, based on playing time, is certainly valid. For that reason, I too was surprised by the landslide in the MVP balloting.
bonds produced more value over replacement than pujols. but the reason he won is he played for a winner.
Kenric, St. Paul, MN: Rob, don't get me wrong, I think Ibanez is a good player, but I'm afraid that his signing means the M's aren't even entering the Guerrero sweepstakes. Why are they passing up on the great hitting outfielder who would seem to like the smaller-town atmosphere of a Seattle over a city like New York?
Rob Neyer: Not only that, but the Mariners are probably going to wind up re-signing Ichiro for somewhere between $10 million and $15 million per season. So let me ask you, what makes more sense . . . spending $15 million on Ibanez and Ichiro, or spending $15 million on Guerrero alone?
I'd rather have Guerrero, and find somebody cheap for left field.
the ibanez signing is a big mistake. he's a free-agent past his prime. but the mariners are fighting for second place anyway, so who cares.
Ted (Strang, NE): As another disappointed Royals fan, can you tell me what you think about next year? Will Beltran be traded? Will Ken Harvey be banished to AAA Omaha (finally)? Who can we expect to fill out the starting rotation? Thanks for all the good articles.
Rob Neyer: It will be a couple of weeks until we know about the rotation, because the Royals don't yet know the prices of Brian Anderson and a few other veterans they wouldn't mind bringing back. Harvey will get a chance to prove that he's not as terrible as he actually is, but by June he'll probably be allowed to play only against left-handed pitchers. And I expect Beltran to remain with the Royals until they fall hopelessly out of the running, at which point he'll be traded for a couple of Grade C prospects.
the royals got lucky this year, but they could get lucky again, and it's a pitiful division. of course it's just as likely that allard baird will deal them back to the basement.
what the hell kind of name is "allard", anyway?
Zack (Laredo, Texas): Any idea of Kim's future in the Red Sox? I mean, I've heard rumours about the Red Sox pursuing a closer, like Guardado and Foulke. Does this mean that the Red Sox will use him as a setup man (although Timlin consolidated himself as an 8th inning specialist) or will they add him to the rotation, or is he gonna be a trading chip for future negotiations?
Rob Neyer: I think they're going to seriously explore the notion of shifting back to the rotation, because they're worried about what late-innings blow-ups (especially against the Yankees) will do to his psyche. Basically, I think Kim's in the wrong division.
wrong division??? bh kim is gonna be just fine. he would be a good starter, but his strikeout rate doubles as a reliever. i think they should use him like the a's use chad bradford. ie, whenever there is serious trouble.
Jim (Stuart, FL): What kind of a year do you forsee for Josh Beckett? Was the WS a fluke?
Rob Neyer: I don't think it was a fluke; Beckett's got an immense amount of talent. But as a friend recently reminded me, six years ago people were saying the same sorts of things about Jaret Wright. Pitchers are unpredictable, and Beckett's spent a lot of time on the Disabled List.
the marlins have a lot of young talent, but they're gonna ruin their future by spending money on pudge or lee or lowell. what they should do is offer arbitration to all of them, and wait. ed: lee is not a free agent. whoever goes away will bring compensation picks; whoever stays will provide value on the field.
they're not gonna do these things, because it would piss off the fans. remember the fire sale of 1998? what's funny is the 2003 title is a result of that. but the fans don't listen to reason. what you have to do is forget about pandering and just win. but there's only one team that does that. (you guessed it---oakland.)
Rob Neyer: Thanks for the questions, everybody. Unfortunately, a couple of nincompoops have basically hijacked the process with the same two questions (neither of which I care to answer) over and over again, so I'm exiting, stage left. Which is probably good, because I still have to finish today's column. Happy Thanksgiving, and I'll see you in December.
happy thanksgiving to you, rob!
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