Chatter and Patter

Some choice cuts from my chat earlier today at Baseball Prospectus:

Nick Stone (New York, NY): How do you see the Marcus Thames/Randy Winn/Jamie Hoffman situation shaking out? Do Thames and Winn have anything left in the tank, given last season’s fades? I would have though Thames would pinch hit and Winn would then take over to avoid exposing Thames’ glove (or lack thereof). Does this mean Hoffman will be returned to the Dodgers shortly?

JJ: First, I think this probably means Hoffman is going back to the Dodgers’ organization. I like the natural fit between Thames (a lefty-masher) and Winn (a switch hitter whose bat died vs. lefties last year) or Granderson (who’s struggled vs. southpaws lately as well), but it’s worth remembering you’re talking about fourth and fifth outfielders here, since Brett Gardner is projected to start somewhere, too.

The other good thing about Thames is that he can spot for Nick Johnson at DH against tough lefties, though the Stick has had at least some success against southpaws as well.

Jquinton82 (NY): A pair of Yankees questions for you Jay: 1) Who do you think is a better bet for the 5th spot in the rotation Hughes or Chamberlain? 2) When do you see Jesus Montero breaking in and will it be behind the plate or somewhere else?

JJ: Right now I think Hughes is the better bet, and I’d love to see how well his arsenal plays out multiple times through the order given the addition of that cut fastball. I think [moving back to the bullpen is] a waste of Chamberlain’s talents, though, and I’d rather both were taking their turn every fifth day.

With Posada signed through next year, the Yanks have plenty of time to figure out whether Montero can actually catch at a big league level. At best perhaps he gets a September callup. If he can’t cut it this year behind the plate, I think you start working on the idea that he’s a corner outfielder/DH. But as somebody who’s not a prospect guy…

Scott (DC): If the Reds find a huge pile of money under the mattress and add Johnny Damon, do they instantly become favorites for the Wild Card?

JJ: Man, if the Reds understood anything about the marginal win curve, they’d already have signed Damon. He’d be a nice fit in that park, and they really could use his bat atop that lineup.

Then again, that they haven’t signed him suggests that maybe they know too much about the conditions of some of those young arms. Say a prayer for Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez tonight.

tommybones (brooklyn): Do you think Carl Crawford gets dealt before the deadline this year, paving the way for Jennings? Or do you see an outfield of Crawford, Jennings and Upton heading into August?

JJ: I think it all depends upon where the Rays are in the standings. Crawford is obviously more likely to get dealt if they’re out of it.

That said, it’s going to be *very* interesting to see what happens, because there’s a line of thinking that says they keep Crawford and trade Upton at the point when his value is on the rise again. Remember, they’ve also got to figure out where Ben Zobrist fits, and Matt Joyce… suffice it to say that they’ve got an enviable amount of depth and flexibility.

garethbluejays1 (Newcastle, UK): Are there any free agents left unsigned who could be useful to contending teams?

JJ: I realize it’s a well-kept secret that Johnny Damon is still looking for work. Beyond him, Russell Branyan, Rocco Baldelli, Joe Beimel, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Pedro Martinez, Chan Ho Park, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield and Jarrod Washburn all strike me as players who could help somebody win. Not necessarily by getting 500 PA worth of playing time, mind you, and maybe not getting enough playing time to satisfy their own estimations of their talent. Park can pitch out of my bullpen, but if he wants to start, fuggedaboutit.

mattymatty2000 (Philly, PA): Jay – I know you don’t write the headlines, so I’m purely asking for your opinion here. Two years ago one of the pictures on the cover of BP ’08 was of Clay Buchholz, with the caption reading “Better Than Joba”. My question: was it true then, and is it true now? Thanks for the chat.

JJ: It’s pretty subjective any way you slice it. Both pitchers have had flashes of brilliance in the majors, and both have taken their lumps to the point where a lot of people wondered if they’d be better off traded.

Joba’s got a clear edge in terms of the big league numbers he’s put up overall (3.61 in ~280 innings vs. 4.91 ERA in ~180 innings), but Buchholz is riding the stronger trend in terms of making the necessary adjustments to survive in the majors. FWIW, PECOTA sees both at coming in with ERAs around 3.80 this year.

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