World Series Chat With Alan Schwarz



Moderator: Alan Schwarz will stop by at 3:30 p.m. ET to chat about the World Series; his recent story comparing the rookie classes of 1982, 2005 and 2006; and Baseball America's selection of Johan Santana as the Player of the Year. This is not a prospect chat, so please hold off on your questions about teams' farm systems.

Moderator: Hey everyone....I've Visened the champagne out of my eyes from last night's Cardinals clubhouse celebration....let's get chatting!

 Q:  Matt from Houston asks:
The last three years - when healthy - Carlos Guillen has been every bit the player Derek Jeter has been. Why don't people realize this?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: I think people who know baseball realize how good Carlos Guillen has been. You ask people, "Who's the Tigers' MVP?", and they'll say either Justin Verlander, which is debatable because he's a pitcher, or Carlos Guillen. Certainly Jeter gets pumped up by the New York press, but he's also done it for 11 years, remember.

 Q:  Craig from Pinehuest NC asks:
It's been fun watching all the great rookies this year. Who's going to be the R.O.Y.'s and when are the announced? Thanks
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: I don't see how Justin Verlander won't be the AL ROY -- 17 wins as basically the No. 1 starter for a playoff team. As for NL, unfortunately I don't think the voters quite appreciate the amazing all-around year that Hanley Ramirez had; they were too taken with Dan Uggla. I'm pretty sure Ryan Zimmerman will win based on the 110 RBIs.

Moderator: Hey everyone, please remember that I am Baseball America's MAJOR LEAGUE correspondent; questions should concern the World Series, Rookies, Johan Santana, etc. Prospect questions are best saved for Jim Callis, John Manuel and the cornucopia of prospect experts in our employ. Thanks!

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
Alan, as a fan with no rooting interest last night, I have to say Game 7 of the NLCS was one of the best pure baseball games I have seen in a long, long time. I've been trying to recall a better defensive play with bigger stakes than Endy Chavez's catch, and the only one I can come up with that's even close is Dwight Evans' catch at the low wall in Fenway against the Reds in Game 6 of the 75 World Series. Can you think of a better defensive play in a championship game?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Chavez's catch was twice Evans's, I'm sorry. Much more of an athletic move -- more jump, more timing, more sheer, "OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THAT?" Dave Anderson of the New York Times, sitting behind me in the press box, immediately realized that Sandy Amoros's great catch for Brooklyn against Yogi Berra in 1955 was also a 7-6-3 double play. I would say that if the Mets had won that game, Chavez would be our generation's Willie Mays. Instead he won't quite go down as legendary.

 Q:  Andy from Baltimore asks:
Rookie NL pitcher and AL batter of the year?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Cool question, given all the AL pitchers and NL batters this year....Josh Johnson (12-7, 3.10) would get my vote for NL SP; Matt Cain wasn't consistent enough and just didn't have the overall numbers....Nick Markakis probably had the best season for an AL position player, hitting .291.351.448 with 16 homers. Strangely down years for those two quarters of the pie....

 Q:  Vladd from NYC asks:
Mr. Young is called the best prospect in minors, what player do you think he will play like? Can you compare him to a major leaguer.
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: I'll tell you, I saw Delmon Young up close for three days in Tampa Bay, and all I could think of was Frank Robinson. From the righthanded bat, to the stance, to the butt (it's not small), to the arm, to the gigantic chip on his shoulder -- though Frank had far better reason for his paranoia, coming up during segregation -- I can't help but see these guys as similar. Now, Frank Robinson was probably one of the top 10 all-around mashers in big league history, so that's a lot to put on a kid, but in terms of feel and buzz, that's who comes to mind.

 Q:  Stu from Pittsburgh asks:
Yankees choke again, Mets lose, and New York is left out of the World Series... isn't life great?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: It's not so great if you're Mrs. Alan Schwarz and you have to take care of the 5-month-old for nine straight days while your husband tootles off to the World Series -- when you thought at least 3-4 games would be played in New York. But I think it's wonderful for the rest of the country. New York will always have teams in the playoffs, so having two different teams in the WS is always welcome.

 Q:  Steve from Bismarck, ND asks:
Where were a couple other Twins (Mauer, Morneau) on your list?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: I put Mauer higher on my MVP list than Justin Morneau, by virtue of his having similar enough hitting statistics (straight power notwithstanding) and his playing a premium position very well. But I must say my colleague at BA, John Manuel, made an amazing point when he highlighted how Brian McCann had a very similar year to Mauer with the bat this year. I'm not sure how many people noticed that.

 Q:  Vladd from NYC asks:
BA rated Mets system as weakest in baseball. But do you think a system that has Humber, Pelfrey, Soler, Milledge--all of whome can start next season---does this system deserve to be rated that low?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: I am quite familiar with the Mets' farm system, and of course they had some premium players like Pelfrey. But Humber has been coming off surgery, and Omar Minaya traded almost all of what little depth there was last offseason. So the rating was based on that. One thing to keep in mind is that a few of their big Latin signings are looking great. I believe they have the youngest guy in the AFL this year, for example....

 Q:  Ryan from Houston,TX asks:
Hanley Ramirez had an up and down rookie season that ended on a high note. Even more impressive is that he made the jump from AA and plays in a pitcher's park. What do you think his ceiling is? Could he be the next Alfonso Soriano?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: I'll tell you a funny story....Having worked at BA for almost 16 years now, I try to be conservative on comparisons (no guffaws about Delmon Young, please) because let's face it, guys usually don't max out.....About six years ago, while editing a Peter Gammons column, I TOOK OUT a line where Peter compared the just-breaking-in Soriano to Vladimir Guerrero because I thought that was just too much. Silly me, huh?.....Anyway, Ramirez was just spectacular this year, and he should have far more defensive value than Soriano -- my coffee table does, actually -- so even if he doesn't measure up with the bat or wheels we're talking about one heck of a player here.

 Q:  Ben from Philadelphia asks:
Alan--have to be the first to ask it. In what order were the runner-ups? How close was Jeter to taking the award? It's not difficult to argue that he had a better year than Johan did. Jeter had 33 win shares to Santana's 25, they had essentially identical VORPs, Jeter had a 2 win advantage in WARP, and of course, played every day. Frankly, I think a better case can be made for Pujols or Ryan Howard as well.
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Yes, the discussion we had about Major League Player of the Year -- won by Santana -- was very close, with very good arguments everywhere. I originally was for Mauer, actually, and if not him Howard. But we had never chosen a pitcher, and we wanted to acknowledge the amazing year Santana had -- again -- without bowing at the altar of statistics. Now, Santana won the pitcher's triple crown, which is nothing to sneeze at. But this was as much about his sheer aura of dominance, and how he seemed to turn the whole team around, as it was about VORPs, which believe it or not were discussed.

 Q:  Steve from Bismarck, ND asks:
Alan would you have Andrew Miller on your World Series roster or not?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Jim Leyland loves lefties -- I think he carried six or something with the Pirates in one series in the early 1990s. But I don't think that's really necessary here, with a banged-up Jim Edmonds, Scott Spiezio and Chris Duncan the main lefty threats.

 Q:  Ryan Bones from Bowmanville asks:
Who would you rate as the LEAST valuable player this year?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Carl Pavano!

 Q:  Nathan Khosa from Cleveland asks:
What team is in better shape for next year, the Yanks or Mets????
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: BOth teams have huge starting pitching questions. Then again, the Mets do appear to be on the way to having a rotation that includes, say, John Maine, maybe Oliver Perez (he really could be rounding back into shape) and conservatively either Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber.....along with Tom Glavine (has another good year left probably) and a free agent they can easily afford. Given how the Yankees have cast their lot with the Jaret Wrights and Carl Pavanos available the past few years, I'm less confident they'll get that part of the team straight.

 Q:  Ryan from Katy,TX asks:
How surpised were you to see Ryan Zimmerman put up 21 homers this year? Is he going to stay in the 20-25 range or do you think he has the ceiling to hit 30+?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Not surprised, really. This kid's just a great all-around instinctual player, and 21 homers isn't exactly ridiculous. He could very well develop power just under Scott Rolen's (maybe more like David Wright) but if he stays more healthy be in a better position for it to play out.

 Q:  Joel from Washington, DC asks:
Leyland has announced Justin Verlander as his Game 1 starter. The consensus of the experts on your espn podcast this week was that Rogers would start Game 1. Any problem with choosing Verlander?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Not at all -- I really think it's a toss-up. And it's not as if starting Rogers in Game 2 and Robertson in Game 3 is weird because of back-to-back lefthanders, because there's an off-day anyway in between. It's hard to go wrong here. Heck, the Tigers won the first two series with basically their worst starter (relatively), Nate Robertson, starting Game 1.

 Q:  Dennis Weaver from Ocala, FL asks:
Alan, How about a World Series prediction?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Tigers in 6. But this whole postseason has been about surprising pitching performances -- from Weaver to Maine to Rogers to Perez to Suppan -- so by no means will I be shocked if those guys corral the still-suspect Tiger lineup. We don't know what will happen. That's why we watch.

 Q:  Steve from Bismarck, ND asks:
Alan, this question gets asked every year, but would you rather be the Tigers and have a huge layoff, or be the Cardinals and be able to go right into the World Series?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Much rather be the Tigers, particularly with youngsters like Verlander and Zumaya needing a little extra time. Not that there can't be a downside, but the Cardinals are beat to heck at this point. I can't believe they're working out as we speak. Then again, I can't believe I'm chatting....

 Q:  Rory from Boca Raton, FL asks:
Where do you think Daiskue Matsuzaka will wnd up?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Certainly on a coast -- for example, although the Cubs could really use him and have the dough to throw, I just can't see that ever happening. I think you have to look at the Dodgers and Mariners on the West coast (do the Padres have the bling?), and the usual suspects on the East. I say the Mets could be heavily involved. They need a rotation boost with Pedro's situation, and Omar Minaya absolutely ADORES foreign talent. What's so interesting here is that because he's being posted, Matsuzaka will not be on the open market. Teams must make one-shot, secret bids and hope they beat out other clubs for the right to negotiate a contract in the first place.

 Q:  Amanda Tolhurst from Tennessee asks:
Which rookie surprised you the most this year? Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla seemingly came out of nowhere, and I didn't expect THAT from Papelbon.
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: As for surprising, it had to be Uggla, the first Rule 5 draft pick to make an all-star team. Papelbon was sick but that is vaguely foreseeable when a hard-throwing kid finds himself having to throw only one inning a night. As for surprises, I'm not sure how many of us saw Kakashi Saito's year coming for the Dodgers. Very nice.

 Q:  Razz from N Y asks:
Alan say your wife forbids you to watch anymore baseball games EVER but you have a last chance to watch 10 baseball games of all time on your VCR. Would last nights game make your top 10 list?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Wow.....as much as I loved it, I doubt it. It was fantastic in its moment but epochal? I'm not sure....I'd probably choose these off the top of my head, because they're so different: 1) 1975 Reds-Red Sox Game 6 2) Frank Viola-Ron Darling college game 3) My first little league game (actually, maybe my 36th, when I got my first hit) 4) Phillies-Cubs 18-16 game 1976 with Schmidt 4 homers 5) Roger Clemens 20Ks against Mariners 6) Kerry Wood 20Ks against Astros 7) Harvey Haddix's game 8) Jackie Robinson's first game I'm taking too long to think of them but I kinda like that list so far....

 Q:  Trevor from VT asks:
Did rookie Matt Garza impress enough to earn a rotation spot next year?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Absolutely. He'd have to fall on his face in the spring to not break camp with the club. I think people are expecting him to make 33-34 starts with maybe 12-13 wins and maybe even a 3.80 ERA or so. They'd take that in a second.

 Q:  Darryl Massey from London England asks:
As a European, the amount of exposure I get to the World Series is quite low. It would seem that the Tigers are easily the favourites. Does St. Louis have a legitimate shot?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Ah London -- I lived there as a kid....Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, baseball is wonderful because teams ALWAYS have a shot in a short series. Best-of-7 ain't nothing in baseball. In fact it might be less of a test than one 60-minute game in football, though I'm not sure if that's been studied.

 Q:  D.A. Humber from Toronto asks:
OK, OK, Santana was clearly the #1 pitcher this year. Now, who was #2?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: I'd say Roy Halladay -- 16-5, just over 3 ERA. I just don't see the Oswalts and Webbs in the NL over him, and no reliever either.

Moderator: I can only do a few more, folks. I've barely slept after coering last night's game at Shea....

 Q:  Steve from Bismarck, ND asks:
Do you think the Twins will be able to sign Torii Hunter to a long term deal so he can play in the new stadium, or will they end up having to trade him?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: By the time Torii Hunter is a free agent (one year from now) it will be interesting to see what his value really is. He had a nice season this year, no question, but is anyone else getting the feeling that it might be his last really good one? If so, Terry Ryan will have to weigh public support versus real baseball choices, and he can't afford to make the room move there.

 Q:  D.A. Humber from Toronto asks:
What is Alex Rodriguez worth in a trade offer?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: A tremendous, tremendous amount. If Brian Cashman has to trade A-Rod -- and the only reason he would is if George told him to -- there's no way he'd get anything close to equal value in return. It kills me to see how people undervalue this guy. Keep in mind his contract is only about $16 million or so because the Rangers are picking up some, right? He's worth two good starting pitchers or three good players total. A fantastic talent who, if he gets angry, could be devastating.

 Q:  Trevor from VT asks:
Fun rookie class comparison, especially looking at where the Boggs' and Gwynn's matched up to their peers after their rookie seasons. Do you have any hunches about middle of the pack '06 rookies that could be hanging plaques in 25 years?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Joel Zumaya is awesome, though he's have to be that way for 16 years to get into the Hall as a closer, which is what he'll probably be as early as next year. Could Matt Cain figure everything out and become John Smoltz? I guess, but man that's unlikely....

 Q:  Scott Shrute from Pittsburgh asks:
With the new postseason the format it is today, (combined with open free agency) is the era of dynasties now forever gone?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: Of course the Yankees won 3 in a row and 4 of 5 in this era. But it's awfully hard to get to the playoffs and then survive three rounds....several years in a row. That being said, I think if the Yankees keep winning their division, that's a dynasty. It kinda stinks that other teams will probably never compete in that division, though I ain't shedding any tears for Angelos or Naimoli.

 Q:  David L. from Cambridge, MA asks:
In 1968, the Tigers moved their centerfielder, Mickey Stanley, to shortstop for the World Series. If you’re Jim Leyland or Tony LaRussa, and had the guts to make a similar move this year, what is it?
 A: 

Alan Schwarz: La Russa playing Preston Wilson at all?.....Yeesh, that was just painful to watch....

Moderator: OK, I'm afraid that my hour is up....Thanks very much for chatting, BA fans....have a great World Series. See you in the next issue....