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Will Lingo

Moderator: After the BA staff rated the organizations, managing editor Will Lingo wrote the capsules. He'll field questions about the report cards or anything else.

 Q:  Friggidy Fred from B-more, MD. asks:
Should Orioles fans have any hope?

Will Lingo: How is everyone doing this afternoon? Glad to be back in the chat hotseat. I hope you've had a chance to look over the report cards and evaluate your team's grades. Of course, we can talk about other stuff too. Like what a good movie ''Roadhouse'' is.

Will Lingo: Anyway, Fred wants to know if there's any hope for the Orioles. Well, I read that they might try to go after Hideki Matsui, so there's something. Of course, they're also interested in Frank Thomas apparently. And you don't figure anyone's going to beat out the Yankees for Godzilla if they're serious about it. The Orioles were one of two organizations to get an F for the 2002 season, so the outlook isn't great. I'd say the best reason for hope is that a new GM is on the way.

 Q:  Bill from Tampa asks:
Can you give me some reasons to be positive about my Devil Rays without mentioning an outfielder?

Will Lingo: Well, Lou Piniella is coming back to town. And, um, well, hey, B.J. Upton is not an outfielder. So there you go. And Dewon Brazelton too. What's the over-under on Lou throwing a base in 2003? Five games? Ten games?

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
What are the feelings in the BA offices about the Phillies chances of landing Jim Thome or Tom Glavine? The Phillies have been had in the past, having been used to beef up home team offers only.

Will Lingo: Thome apparently was pretty impressed with the pitch the Phillies made, and Glavine's agent says the Braves shouldn't expect to sweep in at the last minute and bring Glavine back. Somehow, though, I can't picture Glavine in a Phillies uniform, much less the Mets. I think they have a good shot at Thome, though.

 Q:  Greg from Boca Raton asks:
Any word if that Marlins-Rox deal is gonna go down? As a Marlins fan, i'd welcome the move. THANKS!! Love the chats!

Will Lingo: It looks like it's up to Mike Hampton at this point. A couple of days ago he seemed pretty set against it, saying the Marlins were no better off than the Rockies. He seems to be softening now and should decide after the weekend. If I were in his shoes, I would take any opportunity to escape Coors. Looks like you'll see a lot of teams exchanging problem contracts this winter, hoping a change of scenery will turn players around.

 Q:  UK from Chicago asks:
How much would Brownlie being signed impact the grade of Cubs' minors (assuming he'd be listed top 10)?

Will Lingo: Brownlie would have mainly affected the Cubs' grade on player procurement for 2002, where they got a B anyway. They also got a B for their talent level, so I don't think he would have bumped either of those grades to an A. Pretty solid year for the organization overall, except for that pesky major league team.

 Q:  Peter Kennedy from San Diego asks:
San Diego broke off talks with their second round draft choice and Johnson returned to Clemson. Now that he is hurt, is there a chance the Padres will sign him before he re-enters the draft?

Will Lingo: Michael Johnson broke his ankle in fall ball for Clemson, but he is expected back for the regular season, so that shouldn't affect his status if he comes back healthy. He could sign with the Padres as a fifth-year senior, but only if Clemson's season ends before the closed period before next year's draft. Assuming Clemson makes regionals, that won't happen.

 Q:  Josh Meyer from Palmer, IA asks:
What is your opinion on Denard Span? Is he a Kenny Lofton clone or does he have better power?

Will Lingo: Very intriguing, but really too early to tell anything for sure. He surprised the organization with the pop he showed in instructional league, so he could have a bit of power as he fills out. Speed is his game, though.

 Q:  Tim from My Way or the Highway asks:
What's your favorite part and line of "Road House"?

Will Lingo: I can't use my favorite line in a family chat, but it occurs during a fight between Patrick Swayze and one of the movie's henchmen and involves improper conduct in prison. The best moment is when they crash a monster truck into a car dealership for NO APPARENT REASON. Just awesome.

 Q:  Mark from Tallahassee, FL asks:
Does the Cubs' organizational grade improve if they close the deal with Dusty Baker? Is Baker the right fit for a team that will be so dependent on developing prospects into solid (or hopefully better) major leaguers?

Will Lingo: As discussed before, the Cubs got B's across the board except for a D for the major league season, so I don't see how Dusty could change any of those grades. Your second question is very interesting, though, since Baker was clearly comfortable with veteran players in San Francisco. That fit well with the way Brian Sabean handled his farm system. The Cubs are building with talented young players, so I assume Baker will show us he can win that way, too.

 Q:  Harris from Brooklyn, NY asks:
It was reported that the Reds were interested in Heilman but the Mets said no but would you trade Heilman for Dunn?

Will Lingo: No. Heilman is a solid pitching prospect, but Dunn has superstar potential. Even if their ceilings were the same, I would take the bat over the arm.

 Q:  Kp from Queens asks:
I tend to disagree with the Mets Farm Assesment...maybe bc i am a Mets fan but i feel that with Reyes, Heilman, Wright, Kazmir, Huber, and Cruz we have some nice top prospects. Also i feel that we have a good range of helpful to hopeful (strange, peterson, seo, phillips, brazell, griffiths, musser, whealy, turay, pinango, and others) I know a lot depends on this year...but tracking some of these players over the past year i feel as if they are at least as comparable to other farms that grade out as a B.(esp. the Yankees...who stock older prospects in younger leagues)

Will Lingo: On the Yankees, talent level also takes into account young players contributing in the big leagues, so Alfonso Soriano automatically jacked them up a letter grade. I think we would agree with you that the Mets have some good premium prospects, but we don't like their depth as much as you do. No argument about the F at the major league level?

 Q:  Matthias from Franklin and Marshall College asks:
What are the rumors about the braves dealing for vazquez if the expoes can't afford to keepn him? which prospects are possibly being mentioned in trade talks?

Will Lingo: I haven't heard any specific names mentioned that the Braves would send back to the Expos, but it does seem like they're making contingency plans in case Glavine andor Maddux depart. This deal might have to wait awhile, though, as the Expos figure out details like a budget and where they're playing next year. The Braves are also said to be talking to Alex Cabrera about returning to the major leagues after his tremendous success in Japan.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
The St. Louis Cards are a feel good story. However, I really don't agree with the B+ rating. They had sucess at the major league level. Sure they had a nice minor league record. However, do they have any prospects? Very few if any. It is great to fill your minor league rosters with career minor league players and pile up some w's. But that doesn't help the major league team. I really think the Cards were overrated. Their minor league teams are void of prospects. I don't see how they received such a great grade with such a WEAKNESS! Thanks anyway.

Will Lingo: Man, hard to please. After what they did this year under the circumstances they did it in, I think the grade is more than fair. We did give them a D for their talent level, which reflects the limited number of prospects in their farm system. But the farm system always seems to produce enough talent to fill holes in the big leagues, either through development (J.D. Drew) or trades (Scott Rolen). You should thank your lucky stars for Walt Jocketty.

 Q:  George S. from Bronx asks:
Understanding the Yankees want to dump Raul Mondesi for payroll, 1) why would anyone want him? and 2) isn't completely unrealistic for the Yankkes to think that they won't have to eat the majority of his salary to move him, completely wiping out the reason to move him in the first place?

Will Lingo: 1) I don't know; 2) yes, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't try.

 Q:  Jeff from So. Cal. asks:
Will, thanks for your time today. As a tranplanted easterner I was wondering what changes we can anticipate from the Yankees? Steinbrenner makes big moves when they reach it but dont win the series. This year he didn't get there.

Will Lingo: Anything could happen with the Yankees this winter. If they don't end up with Hideki Matsui or Jose Contreras, I'll be shocked. They could get both. And it will be interesting to see where they turn at third base, because Drew Henson is not near ready.

 Q:  Jordan from Ottawa asks:
Toronto appears to have made great strides recently, especially in their young pitchers. Can you talk about any of David Bush, Justin Maureau, Dustin McGowan, Brandon League, Dave Gassner, Scott Wiggins or Vinny Chulk? I've left out Francisco Rosario because of his injury. Thanks!

Will Lingo: I'm not really going to answer your question in a satisfactory way, though I will say you have to love Chulk. I wanted to let you know that our Blue Jays top 10 will be in our next issue, and one of those guys just might be No. 1. Also, we'll have a great feature story about JP Ricciardi and his efforts to incorporate a new approach to an organization that has been used to doing things one way for almost its entire history. A must-read.

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
I know it is a little early for the top 100 prospects but I am going to ask about it anyway. Is there a clear cut #1? Off of the top of my head I sure don't think there is a Beckett, Prior out in the minors currently. Any insight into your thinking?

Will Lingo: It's never too early to think about our Top 100 Prospects. I don't think there's a slam-dunk guy, but that's not unusual. You usually have at least 2 or 3 guys in the discussion. Off the top of my head, I'd say Joe Mauer and Mark Teixeira would be in the discussion this time around. But it really helps to go through the entire prospect season and check out each organization in detail. The AL East prospects are up first this year, and I can tell you I don't look for anyone from those five teams to be in the discussion for No. 1. Rocco Baldelli is the closest.

 Q:  Erick from Columbus, OH asks:
Jim Bowden has been the Reds GM for 10 years. They have made one post-season appearance during his tenure. The Reds just received a "C" grade by BA. '03 is JimBo's last year on his current contract. Do the Reds need to make the playoffs this year in order for him to get an extension? If he and the Reds do part ways, how much in demand would he be for other GM openings?

Will Lingo: I don't think Bowden would be on the hot seat based on what the Reds have achieved, because they have to deal with such amazing financial constraints. Look at the draft picks whose signings were just announced. As in past years, you would have to say it looks like they were delayed only so those bonuses would count against the budget for the next fiscal year. So if he leaves, I think it would be either because he wants to or the relationship has just gotten stale, kinda like Baker in San Francisco. He would certainly be in demand in other places.

 Q:  Matthias from Franklin and Marshall College asks:
What can you say about the Brave's minor league system? I know they have tons of quality arms (wainwright, nelson, mcbride, etc...) and some intriguing bats (betemit, johnson, francouer).

Will Lingo: Matthias is obviously a big Braves fan. I think the word now for the system would be depth. You don't have one guy who I would mark for greatness, but they have plenty of guys who could come through. The bigger your margin of error in the minors, especially with pitchers, the better off you are. I think in a year or two, Francoeur could be regarded as the next Braves stud. He played golf with my father-in-law a couple of weeks ago and apparently has a little bit of game on the links, too.

 Q:  Ted from Wilmington asks:
I found it interesting that only 3 teams received above average grades that were not playoff teams. Therefore, I gather you put more emphasis on handing out an above average grade to teams that are currently successful at the major league level. My question is, of the middle of the pack teams (C Grade) what teams in your opinion would appear poised to make significant jumps next season that would vault them to an above average grade?

Will Lingo: Big league success is obviously huge because that's what every front office is aiming toward. Producing prospects doesn't count for much if you can't translate it into winning (see Marlins, Florida). The exceptions are teams like the Indians that brought in a huge amount of talent this year. Of the C teams, I think both the White Sox and Cubs bear watching next season, and I can't help but think the Rangers are going to break on through to the other side one of these years. And call me crazy, but I'm starting to get intrigued by the Pirates.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego, CA asks:
Rumors out of SD have Towers & the Padres looking at Jeff Kent. Obviously the Padres wouldn't want to sign Kent to too long of a deal (w his age) but the deal does make sense. predicts Kent will wind up the Dodgers, but I find that hard to believe w the Dodgers AAA second baseman (Thurman?) and Grudz. I think Kent will wind up w San Diego, San Francisco, or Boston.

Will Lingo: I think the Dodgers have faith in Thurston being able to step in next year, and they're still trying to shed some huge contracts (Grudz, Karros), so I don't see them making a big play for Kent. I think any big moves they make will be through trades. I'm not sure Kent in San Diego makes a lot of sense to me, either, though.

 Q:  BRANDON from DETROIT asks:
Can you tell me a little about JEREMY BONDERMAN?? as a tigers fan I'm hearing alot of good things about him. How hard does he throw, what are his plus pitches etc.

Will Lingo: I think he'll be at or near the top of your Tigers prospect list. His fastball gets into the mid-90s, and he has a hard breaking ball. He's one of those pitching prospects with a nearly unlimited ceiling. When the A's draft a guy out of high school, you know they saw something special.

 Q:  Adam from Cincy, Ohio asks:
Simple question: Which minor league player are you most looking forward to watching his development this year? Maybe Drew, Dewon, Rocco, Upton..?

Will Lingo: This is as good a time as any to start the lightning round. So let's kick it off with Scott Kazmir, who was ridiculous in short-season ball this summer. Can he dominate like that again?

 Q:  Jason from Charlotte asks:
With the rumored trade of Matt Williams to the Rockies for Larry Walker, it looks as if the D-Backs need a third baseman. How about the following BravesD-back trade. The Braves get Durazo D-Backs get Giles, Hodges, Kerry L. The D-backs need some youth and help in the pen. Giles can play third for them. Hodges can fill the back end of the rotation while Kerry would give them a reliever with experience closing in case Kim is traded and Mantei can't ever get healthy. This also lets Overbay get a chance at starting everyday. If Giles wouldn't get it done then Betemit could take his place in the trade. I think we all know what this mean to the Braves.

Will Lingo: Yes, I think we do.

 Q:  Al Sheen from New York City asks:
If you were dealing with the Cubs and they offered you either Cruz or Zambrano, who would you pick? Thanks,

Will Lingo: Cruz.

 Q:  Adam Hunt from Mt. Pleasant asks:
When do you think my Detroit Tigers can start to be competive? Thanks these chats rock.

Will Lingo: 2003, baby!

 Q:  Will from Atlanta asks:
Is it just me, or does it seem like no one is interested in Maddux? Is this one of those situations where having Boras as your agent is more trouble than its worth? He is still a good pitcher, but his best years are almost definitely behind him. Do you think there is any way AZ can come up with the cash for him for their all elderly team (they will be Baltimore in 5 years)?

Will Lingo: It does seem Boras is having a harder time getting his calls returned. The D'backs will find the money to contend for another year or two, as long as Johnson and Schilling are alive.

 Q:  Jason M. from NYC asks:
Justin Huber has been struggling in the AFL -- is there something wrong with him or is he just overmatched by older competition?

Will Lingo: A little tired and a little overmatched. He has responded well to special sessions with minor league batting instructor Mickey Brantley after his struggles.

 Q:  Q from Aberdeen SD asks:
The Cubs have already made a trade for a decent catcher. Do you think they will find anybody stupid enough to take Todd Hundley?

Will Lingo: Yes.

 Q:  waldo from chicago asks:
whats the future hold for Hank Blalock? Has he fallen off the radar?

Will Lingo: Not by any means, though the development of Teixeira might make it easier for the Rangers to trade him.

 Q:  ME from HERE asks:

Will Lingo: Sorry. What's your question?

 Q:  Kevin from Chicago asks:
What is your opinion of the job Kenny Williams has done? Also, what is your take on the state of the White Sox organization in general?

Will Lingo: Hasn't accomplished much so far, has he? I think 2003 will be a big year, and there will be changes if the season doesn't go well.

 Q:  Soxfan from Boston asks:
What do you think of Hanley Ramirez?

Will Lingo: I hear he's a great guy.

 Q:  adam from chapel hill, nc asks:
What can i do to get roadhouse released on DVD?

Will Lingo: You mean it's not already available? We have to start a petition or something. I can't imagine what the bonus footage would be.

 Q:  Steve from Las Vegas asks:
Which young Pitching rotation in baseball (Oakland, Chicago(both), K.C., etc.)has the brightest future...and how far can it take them?

Will Lingo: How could you pick anyone other than the A's? I think it could take them all the way to the playoffs!

 Q:  Ben Delbanco from New York, NY asks:
Ignoring the fun of slamming the Yankees for giving $12 million to an unproven football player, is Drew Henson really the second coming of Josh Booty, Chad Hutchinson, and Chris Weinke, or is he really capable of playing baseball someday?

Will Lingo: He has the tools, but his struggles in the AFL this year have a lot of people about ready to give up on him. Let's give him another full season in the minors before we pass judgment.

 Q:  Mark Curtis from La Plata, Md asks:
do you think the orioles will sign loewen? if no, will they get their (2002) pick back in 2003 or will it be a sandwich pick for not siging loewen?

Will Lingo: I think they will make a major run at him next spring. If they don't sign him, they will get a sandwich pick.

Will Lingo: Thanks to everyone for stopping by, and be sure to come back next week for another Baseball America chat.

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