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Surveying the Chat Landscape

Of all the wonderful things that the Internet has brought us, perhaps the most interesting are the online chats that are available all over the Internet. ESPN.com's SportsNation is the proprietor of most of these, but Prospectus does one a week and that always is a good read.

So, while coming the chat landscape, I found five questions worth repeating and offering a few quick thoughts on the questions and answers. I'm not trying to correct the fine writers who responded to questions if I disagree with them, but I really just want to get a few debatable points out there, and see what the community can do with them.

1. Noodelman (Alaska): But hey in NBA total 16 teams make to the playoffs, why not allow few more teams in baseball, it would force even the mediocre teams to update their staff and try to win every year.

Christina Kahrl: They're already doing that with the wild-card. Buyers have outnumbered sellers at the deadline the last two seasons. I see no reason to make the season's long march as irrelevant as basketball's 82 games, not when you have everyone but perhaps the worst half-dozen teams in the game still harboring delusions or thoughtful visions of grandeur at the end of July.


I consider myself a sports fan, across the board. I watch basketball and hockey, occassionally, but I tend to only watch them during their playoffs (for basketball, I watch March Madness, and for hockey, I watch the playoffs, sporadically). The problem is, for me, the hockey and basketball seasons are far too meaningless to waste time with... mediocre and below average teams make the playoffs on a yearly basis. In baseball, that's the exception, rather than the rule. Football is pretty much the same way, except for the fact that there's so much variation from game to game in football anyway.

Bottom line is that the limited playoffs make for a playoff-like intensity to the last month of the season. Let's keep it that way.

2. Raymond Borone (Long Island): Chris, am i correct to assume that after the changes to the draft that MLB is planning to do teams will be able to trade draft picks?

Christina Kahrl: I know that it's constantly being kicked around, and I certainly think it's much more likely than internationalizing the draft, but as with other things, progress on this front in the industry comes slowly, if at all.


This one is just worth posting because it's a topic that gets thrown around once a year or so. I haven't quite formulated an opinion on it, yet... I like the compensation system for losing free agents, but that could use work, too. I don't know if signing a free agent should cost a team a first rounder in general. Theoretically, that would / could drive down the demand for free agents, and the player's union shouldn't like that, right? At least, that's what Economics 101 tells me.

I'll plead the fifth on this and take some time to meditate, on a later date.

3. Tom: How bad is the situation in Detroit? Is Mag's "We Stink" comment a personal frustration or a sign of a Tiger overhaul?

Joe Morgan: I actually didn't read the exact comment, but if Mag said that, he was out of line b/c part of the reason the Tigers didn't play well was because he was out for a long time, and they paid him a lot of money to come there. I'm sure it was frustrating for him, but the other players who were actually in the lineup have reason to be MORE frustrated. I don't like it when players voice negative opinions. It doesn't to any good to tell the world 'we stink.'' That is more self-serving than anything else. If you are frustrated, talk about it in the lockerroom or in a team meeting, behind closed doors.


Morgan makes a good point, here... sometimes, it's probably better not to say anything at all like "we stink."

Here's the quote, though:

"I think we stink," he said after Thursday's 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians. "We should feel embarrassed, the way we are playing and the way we are hitting. We suck."

Mags is a bit wrong... the Tigers don't completely suck. They have a team EqA of .259, which is just slightly below average. Their team defense is right in the middle of the pack, in terms of DER. They've given up more runs than the league average, though, and they play in what is deemed a pitcher's park. So maybe Magglio would have been better suited to have said,

"Well, our 4.91 road ERA reflects the pitching pretty well; it ranks 22nd in the majors. Our OPS on the road, though, is just above league average, and Clay Davenport's EqA puts us just one one thousandth of a point below average. I think it's a safe conclusion to say that we're average. Defensively, we're right in the middle of the pack in terms of DER, and our pitchers' FIP, according to the Hardball Times, is actually slightly worse than our team's ERA. So the defense is a bit better than average, from that questionable metric. I think our team is just a bit below average."

4. Vic (Philadelphia): hey Buster. Quick question. It's April 2006 in Philadelphia: Thome or Howard?

Buster Olney: Vic: One of the great questions of baseball now and for the next couple of years to come. The Phillies want it to be Howard, but Thome is untradeable, with that enormous contract. I have no idea how in the heck they're going to resolve this problem, short of eating a whole, whole, whole lot of cash and moving Thome out of there. That's a tough eat, though...


The Thome-Howard question is, to me, a non-issue. Ryan Howard has to be traded in the offseason for usable parts. Not a couple of setup men and overrated closers (can anyone see Danys Baez somehow working his way over to Philly in some sort of deal?). Thome's contract is not movable, at this point... I would be shocked if anyone picked it up, especially after the reports about the Cleveland doctors being skeptical about Thome's back three years ago.

If Thome's back holds up next year and produces a reasonable .250/.360/.530 (those are all much lower than his career averages) and the Phils get some useful players for Howard, I see no reason why the Phils wouldn't be considered the wild card frontrunner, at least. One more disappointing season, though, and it might be time to tear this one down and start again with just a couple of players.

However necessary the Thome signing was at the time, though, this one could sting in Philly for a few years, especially if Howard blossoms into a consistent .286/.352/.536 hitter.

One more of these, and the last one is the one that I thought was the best question of any chat I read in the last two days...

5. Nora (St. Louis): If Chris Carpenter and Roger Clemens' numbers were switched this season would there be any doubt the Roger would win the Cy Young?

Gary Gillette: That's a good point, and there is NO doubt that Carpenter wouldn't win it if he weren't with STL. But that's not his fault, and that kind of voting is part of the BBWAA package.


You have to ask yourself, how many of the people who are supporting the Clemens-for-Cy Young bid were opposed to Randy Johnson winning it last season for an inferior W/L record. I'll be honest... I supported Randy Johnson over Clemens last year mainly to defy the conventional wisdom... but he also had the innings advantage and peripherals advantage over Clemens. Carpenter, at this point, has many things going for his candidacy and pretty much dominates all non-ERA stats over Clemens.

What Clemens has done is amazing, but if you were to switch Roger Clemens' stats with Carpenter's, I think that Clemens would be getting a lot more of the support than Carpenter's getting now.

Personally, I think that it's close enough that I could justify either pick, but it's just a question of a dangerous double standard, that, in some ways, I'm perpetuating by not picking Clemens in either year. It's a good thing I don't have a vote.