Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat–4/4/19

2:01

scuffy mcgee : Has Yoan Moncada made some real changes?

2:03

Craig Edwards: I’m optimistic about Moncada. It’s good to remember that he wasn’t putting up 30% k-rates because he was a free-swinger. He was putting them up because he was so patient, which is probably better if you are looking to improve. In the early going he’s been more aggressive in the strike zone which means he is attacking more hittable pitches so that he can unleash the power he already has. Things are looking up.

2:03

BenZ: What is your favorite wacky short sample size stat so far? Mine are Madison Bumgarner currently leading the Giants in position-player WAR and Nick Burdi having a 16.20 ERA despite a -1.27 FIP.

2:03

Craig Edwards: Not sure about favorite, but Trevor Rosenthal’s infinity ERA is up there.

2:04

scuffy mcgee : What has been the biggest surprise for you both good and bad thus far?

2:06

Craig Edwards: The Cubs are the answer to both questions. Absent that, Moncada and Carlos Rodon pitching well, Kolten Wong’s bat have all been good. Yankees offense/health is disappointing but probably won’t last.

2:06

Bring Back Jeff: Thanks so much for the chat, Craig! Talk about Sale’s velocity for a minute. My fellow Sox fans and I are running around with our hair on fire. But the team seems calm (as does Jay in his chat!). Is 88mph really part of the plan?

2:08

Craig Edwards: The real question if this is a choice, is how often they are going to run the subpar Sale out there compared to the Sale that we’ve grown accustomed to. I think the short spring and not going full out are good reasons for the lack of velocity, but how many games do you do that for? It should be a close division and a game or two could matter. If they had any starting depth this would be less of an issue.

2:09

Anonymous: Were everything else unchanged, would the game of baseball change more with flat bats or cube-balls?

2:09

Craig Edwards: replacing the balls with cubes.

2:10

Lava: I once made a bet that Kolten Wong would never clear the following triple slash line: .300/.360/.440 across 400+ PA’s in a single season. I won’t say what I bet, but I have a lot riding on this. He’s off to a really good start this year; am I in trouble? Was Mike Matheny holding him back?

2:13

Craig Edwards: I think it is fair to think Matheny held him back some given his playing time early on when Wong was developing. As to the bet, I think the average is going to be the most difficult bar, though I should note that if Wong combined his BABIP from 2017 with his walks and power numbers from last year, he would basically meet that mark. You probably shouldn’t make these kind of bets with a lot riding on them. Hope that advice serves you well.

2:14

thecul: Why do you think the players are so apprehensive of the new CBA and are extending before it comes into effect?

2:15

Craig Edwards: I’m not sure a lot of these extensions are about apprehension and it could just be owners have a lot of money so they are offering enough to get players to stick around. Most of the extensions have been for fairly large amounts.

2:16

Monsignor Martinez: Is it just me, or do the Indians look like they’re going to be really bad this year?

2:18

Craig Edwards: Cleveland has a stars and scrubs team and they need their stars to play like it. They are currently down one of their stars. They need Lindor back, but assuming no major injuries and the pitching goes as planned, the team should still be good enough to win the division.

2:19

Pat G: What are we making of Soto’s K rate. I know so much of 20 PA is noise, but swinging strike rate over 20%, and 9 Ks in 16 AB is startling for someone who has been heralded as a plate discipline prodigy.

2:19

Craig Edwards: We aren’t making anything of it. Way too early.

2:20

Monsignor Martinez: How does Rosenthal’s 0.0 IP translate to a 63.00 ERA on Fangraphs?

2:21

Craig Edwards: Not sure, but 999 ERA- is pretty nutty.

2:21

jobin: On the site, is there a set point in the season where if you click on a team from the standings heading, it will take you to 2019 stats rather than 2018? Or is it just an oversight that should go into effect soon?

2:22

Craig Edwards: Guessing that will change soon though if you go from the team dropdown, it already goes to 2019 stats.

2:22

Joe: Julio Urias stuff looks even better in his return from injury, should we consider him a budding ace along the lines of Walker Buehler?

2:23

Craig Edwards: Probably want to be patient given the layoff and injuries, but it isn’t like he didn’t have that potential before. Just a concern regarding how long he can keep going.

2:23

mike sixel: CLE OF looks as bad as we thought…..how close is MN to them, do you think? Thanks

2:25

Craig Edwards: I think Cleveland is still ahead by a bit, and we don’t want to make too much of the early season, but in a close race, the two games the Twins have early help get things closer. I think there is still a disparity but one major injury to one of about half a dozen Cleveland players would make the division a tossup.

2:25

chet: houston offense appears to be struggling. Why not give tyler white more steady ABs?

2:27

Craig Edwards: Too soon. If you completely change your playing time strategy one week into the season, it means that you are admitting that your strategy was a bad one from the start. Most starters should get about six weeks or so before we see too many changes unless there’s something obviously wrong.

2:27

Josh: I really enjoyed your article about Acuna’s new contract.

2:28

BenZ: If first base and third base switched places, would that be a benefit for either right-handed hitters or left-handed hitters?

2:29

Craig Edwards: Huge benefit to left-handed hitters. How many lefty-throwing third baseman do you know? A whole bunch of guys who couldn’t play third now can and a bunch of right-handed hitting third basemen would have to move positions.

2:29

Greg: How do you think the closer situation is STL plays out with Hicks, Miller, Reyes and C-Mart?

2:30

Craig Edwards: I think Hicks has the job for now and seems fairly likely to keep it, though if Martinez does wind up in the bullpen, the ninth inning would seem pretty likely for him.

2:30

BK: Are the Rays going to win the AL East?

2:31

Craig Edwards: Probably not. The Yankees and Red Sox are both really good so that automatically stacks the odds against them.

2:31

Matt: Double-no-hitter alert in Queens

2:32

Craig Edwards: That would be something, though we certainly have the matchup today that might make that possible.

2:32

Sir Nerdlington: Ricketts family buys into Sam Zell’s financial shenanigans, fails to set aside World Series windfall to buy the final 5% of the Cubs due in Jan 2019, claims poverty to the extent they can barely sign AAAA relievers, sees the bullpen implode in the first five games.  How many more meltdowns until they realize they need to invest in the team?  #kimbrel

2:34

Craig Edwards: Lot of distress about the Cubs at the moment. The Cubs are certainly investing in the team given the size of the payroll, but it is clear that the team had some potential holes that they failed to address in the offseason despite massive revenues. There will certainly be a lot of blame to go around if the Cubs fail to make the playoffs, but it does seem that the potential bad season could have been easily avoided with a relatively small increase in payroll over current levels.

2:34

andy: re Rosenthal’s 63.00 ERA, i assume it’s just crediting him with 1 out by default in order to avoid a divided-by-zero error. at any rate, that’s what you get when you assign a guy 7 ER and 0.1 IP.

2:35

Alex: At what point do small sample sizes stop becoming small?

2:35

Craig Edwards: Never. Is that a trick question?

2:37

Josh: Does the concept of holding prospects back for an extra year of control make as much sense when teams are buying out arb years anyway? I’m not sure how to think about it.

2:38

Craig Edwards: It absolutely does make sense from the team perspective because it matters in contract negotiations. Buying out free agent seasons is, or at least should be, expensive, so when a player can become a free agent is a major factor in those extensions.

2:40

glwilson: Is Marcell Ozuna a feature or a bug for STL? Seems like he’s being passive aggressive against his team.

2:43

Craig Edwards: I don’t know about passive-aggressive but the team certainly hasn’t seemed pleased with him, though the problems seem to stem from a recurring shoulder issue that has hurt his throwing arm and sapped his power. He had a great run last year when he got a shot in the arm and maybe all he really needs is a shot in the arm, though the effects are only temporary and are lessened the more times it is done.

2:43

bruwin blue: Who is the most unconventional player you are bullish upon, contrary to general industry consensus?

2:44

Craig Edwards: I’ve always liked Maikel Franco. Guys with power who don’t strike out a lot are fascinating to me, so it is nice to see him get off to a good start.

2:44

Greg: Are you panicing on any pitcher due to decreased velo?  (Sale, Carrasco, Darvish all come to mind)

2:46

Craig Edwards: We have to keep in mind that April velocity is often down from averages from the year before, so some of the lower levels are going to go up as the year goes on, but I think there is some concern with Sale and a lot with Darvish depending on how the blister issue is affecting him. We’ve seen Darvish overcome that same issue and have no problems, but it has caused bigger issues for others and could do the same for Darvish.

2:46

Yu’ll Never Walk Alone: Please tell me Darvish will be OK this year and return to old form.  How do yu think he’ll do in Atlanta today?  Time to worry?

2:47

Craig Edwards: No. Not well. Yes.

2:47

JoeyBoomBats: Everyone (including Jay Jaffe) doesn’t seem alarmed about Sale’s velo, claiming some kind of plan. I don’t buy it. Watch his start in OAK. There was a lot of loud contact early in that start, before he abandoned the FB and went 80+% offspeed. If it was in the tank, he’d have reached for it when hitters were squaring him up. Pitch pace way down, too.

2:48

Craig Edwards: I’m concerned about it, though not really for that issue. It isn’t really uncommon to just go with more offspeed stuff if the fastball isn’t working. I think perhaps we underrate sometimes just how big of a difference a few MPH are for a pitcher. It’s a really big deal.

2:49

Matt: Does Syndergaard ever find that next gear? He can look so dominant at times but just hasn’t put it all together.

2:51

Craig Edwards: He was a four-win player in 150 innings last season. That’s pretty well put together. If you’re talking about a Cy Young season, he was pretty close back in 2016. Injuries have slowed him and his innings totals down, but if you are expecting more from him than what we’ve seen, prepare to be disappointed.

2:51

Time to blow it up?: If Darvish is cooked then the Cubs are done, right?

2:52

Craig Edwards: No. Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent, and teams get by with a bad fifth starter all the time. I think the Cubs are going to do about as well as Bryant can take them this year.

2:52

HappyFunBall: Double no-hitter alert in Queens update: busted

2:53

Craig Edwards: Double One-hitter alert still in play.

2:54

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Victor Robles really likes hitting dingers off of Noah Syndergaard.

2:54

Craig Edwards: Who doesn’t? Just most of us can’t.

2:55

Oliver: Carlos Rodon, Corbin Burnes, Joe Musgrove and Matt Straham. Pick 2.

2:55

Craig Edwards: I’ll take the first two.

2:55

Junior Soprano: Thoughts Pete Alonso, Craig?

2:56

Craig Edwards: He’s a good hitter who will continue to hit well, though playing first base means he has to hit really well to be a star, which might not be reasonable.

2:57

BK: If Ozzie Albies signed the exact same deal as Roñald tomorrow, how should we feel about it? Still a ridiculous discount, right?

2:59

Craig Edwards: Yes, and more so because Albies is/was a year closer to free agency. To give up four or five years of free agency, the guarantee should be astronomical. Deals like that arguably shouldn’t even be possible because the risk/reward for both sides shouldn’t match up. That’s whay we almost always see two years of FA with sometimes on, sometimes three, that far from FA.

3:00

Josh: What do you think the Yankees’ front office should do with their current situation? Trade or hold & mend?

3:01

Craig Edwards: I think you have to wait and see on Andujar’s injury. If it doesn’t require surgery, you can probably get by, and you might be able to anyway if Didi progresses, so hold for now.

3:03

Caleb: As a Braves fan, I’m having trouble fine-tuning my strategy of who to cheer for when the Phils, Nats, and Mets play each other. Have any advice? Always cheer for worst record to win?

3:03

Craig Edwards: Extra innings.

3:03

IsBrittonInYet: Would it be worth it for the Jays to buy out all of Vlad Jr’s arb years to get a single extra year of control at a reasonable rate? (Something like 7 yrs/$56M with a club option for $20M to buy out his first FA year)

3:05

Craig Edwards: That’s light. Eloy just got $43 guaranteed, $60 million before buying out a free agent year. I think given his superior prospect status and potential earnings, not to mention he doesn’t need the money, it would be hard for the two parties to come to terms.

3:05

Anonymous: I hate the argument “well he’s set for life now anyway” when players leave money on the table. By that logic, every baseball player regardless of quality should just happily sign 15 year contacts for $50M because we’re all human beings.

3:06

Craig Edwards: There are a lot of different ways to be set for life when you are a baseball player, and I agree, that shouldn’t end any inquiries into what other options were available.

3:07

Craig Edwards: Going to have to call it a day today. Hope everyone had fun. I think a project I spent a lot of time on will be going up tomorrow, so be sure to check it out.

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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