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Player Of The Year Chat with John Manuel

Moderator: John Manuel will discuss Delmon Young, our 2005 Player of the Year selection, as we as other things baseball at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Robert from Bay Area asks:
I don't know how much a .300 OBP is really holding his own in AAA. It's nice from a 19 year old, but shouldn't such an award as minor league POY be dominate the whole season and not half of it?

John Manuel: I just want to thank those of you who came by for doing so. It's been an eventful minor league season, which I can't believe is already over (save for some playoffs), and this chat hopefully kick-starts us into prospect season here at BA.

John Manuel: Robert gets in with the first question. You're reminding me of Bill James' argument in his Hall of Fame book that you can take any baseline and put a player into the Hall or out of the Hall. I admit, I'm not jazzed about Delmon Young posting a .303 OBP in Durham. Does that preclude him from the award? No, because he slugged .447 there as a 19-year-old and because he's a force defensively in right field. That's one blemish in a year of overwhelming success.

 Q:  Bob Davies from San Francisco asks:
If you had to select a Player of the Year for the San Francisco Giants Organization who would it be? Todd Linden, Kevin Frandsen, Eddy Martinez Esteve, or Dan Ortmeier?

John Manuel: Hi Bob. Maybe word has gotten around that I'm excited about Giants prospects . . . I actually will go off your board and say Marcus Sanders. Todd Linden still strikes out a ton. I like Kevin Frandsen, nice year, but Sanders gets my vote for excitement, ceiling and for what he did this year, essentially playing the second half of the year, we are told, with one arm due to another shoulder injury.

 Q:  Greg from LA asks:
How close was Brandon Wood?

John Manuel: He was very close, and really the only other person in the discussion for me. We had about eight finalists, though, players like Justin Verlander (Tigers), Francisco Liriano (Twins), Andy LaRoche (Dodgers) pop to mind off the top of my head. But Wood was the only other guy I considered who could dislodge Delmon. For me, the top prospect in the minors puts together a year like Delmon did, and he has to win the award unless someone takes it away. Brandon Wood just about took it away. More than 100 extra-base hits is ridiculous in the impressive sense of the word.

 Q:  Scott from Springfield, Il asks:
If you gave awards for the best unit in the minors, how would the Birmingham outfield (Young, Owens, and Sweeney) rate as one of the best OF groups in all of the minor leagues? What order would you rank them in terms of solid major league prospects?

John Manuel: Scott, that's a good group. More interesting is that they're all probably ahead of schedule and still performed. Owens and Young skipped high Class A; Sweeney is, what, 20 in Double-A? My problem with calling them the minors' best OF is, in terms of 2005 performance, they don't measure up because Sweeney doesn't hit like a right fielder at this stage of his career. He's got a lot of talent, and I've talked to scouts who swear the power will come. Right now, I would like to see just a hint, one home run is like a faint whisper of his power, not a hint. I'd take Jacksonville's infield off the top of my head, at its peak, with Loney 1b, Delwyn Young 2b, J. Guzman ss and A. LaRoche at 3b, with Russ Martin at c. That's a unit.

 Q:  Ron from Emeryville, CA asks:
John, I was wondering if you could tell me how the selection of Delmon came about technically. Do you just pick because you are editor-in-chief? Is there a secret ballot? If so, who votes? If there is a vote, can you reveal the results, or at lease tell us who finished 2nd and 3rd? Was it close at all? Was there arguing? Was it unanimous? Would love to hear about the process.

John Manuel: BA has no set rules on how to do this. We had Chris Kline put together a statistical worksheet for everyone on the staff, chris and I went over some players to put on the worksheet, and then after everyone took a look (one day? a weekend? I forget, probably a weekend), we met on the subject. We quickly had it down to Wood and Young. I don't want to speak for anyone, but at least one staffer was strongly for Brandon Wood and presented his case, and presented it well. There was no formal vote, just a sense during the meeting that more people believed Delmon was the choice for BA, being that we're a magazine about player development and prospects, and the best prospect had essentially the second-best year in the minors.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Amsterdam, the Netherlands asks:
Who was the pitcher you most seriously considered for the award?

John Manuel: Justin Verlander was right in the thick of the race until the Tigers wisely decided to monitor his workload and gave him time off in August. He was dominating from the mound as much or more than Wood and Young were from the batter's box. Liriano also was in the mix, his Double-A numbers kept him from being a finalist (in the final 3 or 4 or 5).

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Hi John. Thanks for taking our questions today. How would you compare Delmon Young to a young Vladimir Guerrero, who tore through the minors back in 1996? Hypothetically, where would B.J. Upton had ranked sans the fielding woes, considering his offensive output and 44 stolen bases in AAA at such a young age?

John Manuel: Mike, Vlad isn't a bad comp in some ways, though Delmon is so much more polished than Vlad at the same age. I don't know that anyone has the raw hitting talent Vladimir Guerrero does, but Delmon has similar hand-eye (not as good, I'm sure), similar hand strength (again, a bit less) . . . Albert Belle is the comp we get most because Young has so much opposite field power. Jeff Francoeur to me is another similar player in terms of a player who doesn't have the plate discipline you'd expect from a power hitter but who has such hand-eye coordination and strength to get away with it.

John Manuel: As for BJ, he would have been in the discussion. Every scout I've talked to this year that has seen BJ has told me he can play shortstop physically; half believe he will make the mental adjustments needed to do so, half do not. I don't see why the Rays don't just put him there in Tampa next year to try, though I do acknowledge that Julio Lugo is a good big league SS. If the Rays like Lugo enough, move BJ to third, where he has more than enough ability physically to play, and an IF with Cantu, Lugo and Upton would be very nice. He had a very good year in Triple-A and would have been a finalist for me, though you'd probably give Wood an edge, same position, Wood's year was simply better.

 Q:  Phil Geiersbach from LaGrange, IL asks:
Will Billy Butler be a top candidate for next year's award?

John Manuel: If he's not already in KC. Butler for a full year in Double-A could put up big numbers at Wichita. I think he'd have to really, really mash, and if Delmon's still in the minors, hey, no one else will win the award if Delmon has a good year . . . I'm kidding there, folks.

John Manuel: i just hope I make myself clear on the choice of Delmon. He had a very good year. We are who we are--we value present performance and future performance, which is admittedly difficult to judge. The reason you are reading this chat is, you think BA has a good way of covering baseball from a player-development point of view. That philosophy that you believe in enough to come to our website is the main reason why Delmon was frankly a pretty easy choice, even with the amazing year that Brandon Wood had. If our No. 1 prospect has the year Delmon had and doesn't win the award, then what are we doing? That's how I see it.

 Q:  Red from HB, CA asks:
Was Howie Kendrick and the fantastic numbers he put up part of the POY discussion? Where do Kendrick and Wood fall in the top 100 after fantastic years?

John Manuel: Howie was a strong candidate, what a hitter. We're having a hard time getting a read on just how good this guy is, because you just don't see hitters with a .355 career averaging improving on that when they move up a level (he hit .367 this year). He also has some power. I would say the Angels have depth up the middle with him, B. Wood, E. Aybar and Callaspo, wouldn't you?

 Q:  Randy from NYC asks:
How would Lastings Milledge compare with Delmon?

John Manuel: Just a different cat; he doesn't have Delmon's raw power, he has more speed but Delmon appears to be a better basestealer, and if they are both right fielders (thank you, Carlos Beltran), I think Delmon fits that profile a lot better. Props to Milledge, though, for playing for Team USA as an amateur (with Young) and now again as a pro in the World Cup. Milledge has had a solid tournament, though I believe Japan held him to an 0-for-4.

 Q:  Chris from St Augustine,FL asks:
Explain the situation that will not allow the Devil Rays to not call up Young and Upton for the month of September.

John Manuel: I really can't; officially, they don't want to start their arbitration clocks and give them enough service time to make them Super 2 arbitration cases (i.e., it will cost them to have those two under contract, even before they become free agents). i can't tell you how shortsighted this seems to me. Delmon is one thing; you can make a case he's not ready. But what do you say to BJ Upton when he's been the good organizational guy, gone to Triple-A, opened himself up to such scrutiny with his defensive struggles, continued to work hard at it by all accounts, rake like crazy at the plate . . . and he doesn't get a promotion? That's just a bad way to run an organization. That kind of player (especially with that talent, but even if he had less talent) deserves to be rewarded with a promotion.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
The Dodgers' farm system is so stacked, it should make all the other organizations in baseball a little bit jealous, to say the least. With the unbelievable amount of top-notch pitching prospects in the organization, Chad Billingsley seems to have separated himself from the rest of the pack as the starter with the highest ceiling. If Greg Miller, who bounced back in a dominant way this season, continues to pitch in 2006 like he did in his brief appeaance in 2005 (~2.10 ERA, 25 hits, 41 K's, in 34.2 IP), can the left-handed Miller eclipse Billingsley as a prospect?

John Manuel: I don't see Miller surpassing Billingsley, sorry. He's got a 2-0 lead in shoulder surgeries, that's significant. You left out Miller's walks this year, I have 22 BB in 23 IP outside of Rookie ball. See what I mean about selective stats, like our first post? I have heard great things about Miller, but I think I'm probably the only BA writer who would say Billingsley is currently the minors' best pitching prospect, with M.Cain, F. Liriano and King Felix in the big leagues.

 Q:  Alex from Cincinnati asks:
Who would you say is the Reds Minor League Player of the Year?

John Manuel: Reds minor league POY? How about Chris Denorfia. I'm a Denorfia fan. He just keeps hitting, he's a solid defender, he really fits the Brady Clark mold the Reds front office has set for him, and Brady Clark has exceeded all expectations. The overall state of the Reds' farm system, however, is pretty rough. Prospects like Richie Gardner (hurt), Joey Votto, Paul Janish (hurt), these guys just didn't have good years . . . not a good year for the Reds on the farm.

Moderator: Hold on, I've got to take a 5-minute break.

 Q:  Jon from Lexington, KY asks:
Which of the three starters at West Tenn.(Ryu, Nolasco, Pinto) would you predict has the best future?

John Manuel: It's very hard to tell; Ryu probably has the highest ceiling, but we've heard nothing but good things on Nolasco this year, and it sounds like he could be a solid 3rd starter if he maxes out, more likely a No. 4 or No. 5 guy. i think the other two guys most likely end up in the bullpen, but I might be selling Ryu short.

 Q:  JoJo from Pacoima, CA asks:
I'm still stunned that Brandon Wood did not win the Player of the Year. Even if you focused on the "hitter's league" argument against him, he still had more than 100 extra base hits, which no one in any minor league has done in decades--AND he was named the top defense SS in the Cal League. You can't blame Wood for the Angels not moving him up a level, due to their overstock of middle IF prospects. So, what gives?

John Manuel: I just wanted to let JoJo vent a bit, but also to nitpick at Wood, because other than being for Delmon--which is my point--you have to really nitpick to be against Wood. First, what do you think Delmon would have done in the Cal League? That's hard to judge, but considering he dominated the Sally League last year (while Wood hit about .250 with 11 homers in the MWL last year), I'm going to guess Delmon could have put up Wood-like numbers in the Cal League, and in fact, I think he would have exceeded Wood's production. Also, Wood his 16 homers--16!--at High Desert and Lancaster in I believe 22 games. That still leaves him 27 homers, but he just destroyed the ball in those two parks, the best hitters' parks in baseball aside from Coors Field. That's a factor in his ungodly numbers. Conversely, what would Wood have done in the Southern League and the International League? His plate discipline is similar to Delmon's, so it's not like such a polished hitter. I have a hard time believing he's slug .447 in Triple-A over an extended period, even in the PCL, or be a triple-crown threat in the Southern League. Sorry, i just do. Wood's also six months older than Young. These are some things that came up. But again, we chose Young because the case for Young was very, very good, not because the case for Wood was flawed. Wood's case is very, very, good.

 Q:  Dylan from Long Island asks:
Who would be the organizational player of the year for the Yankees? Phil Hughes?

John Manuel: Maybe, he also had two disabled list stints, that's a problem for me, but based on what he did on the field, hard not to choose him in an organization with some talent but not a real standout performer this year.

 Q:  Russ from Grass Valley, CA asks:
Was Daric Barton ever in the discussion? If not, how far off the list would he be?

John Manuel: He did, he didn't make the final worksheet because he just didn't hit for enough power this year, just 13 HRs. Very fine hitting prospect, however.

 Q:  David from Sonoma State University, CA asks:
How surprising is it that so many winners have been high school draft picks?

John Manuel: Not much of a surprise. I suppose there are two theories here--one, that this reinforces the high-risk, high-reward nature of HS draftees. Two, that BA has some slant toward picking high school players. The track record of the high school guys who have won this award is pretty good--Manny, Jeter, Eric Chavez, Josh Beckett, even Greg Jefferies . . . our college winners include Jon Rauch, Frank Thomas, Tim Salmon . . . also pretty good. I just think we've picked the right guy most years. Like anything, we can be wrong--Rauch vs. Roy Oswalt was very close, and we'd look a lot better in hindsight had we chosen Oswalt. I still think Rauch was a good choice based on what he had done to that point.

 Q:  Gerry from Toronto asks:
I know no Blue Jay prospect has a high enough ceiling to be considered, but would a player like Adam Lind ever have a chance to win this award due to his non-toolsy defence?

John Manuel: Gerry, he'd have to just dominate and do it in a year where no top prospect has a top-notch year. Lind is probably the Toronto organization's best bat, so that's a good example, but I'd really have a hard time seeing him or someone like him, a player who is a below-average defender at non-critical defensive spots, winning the award.

 Q:  Joe from Grand Rapids asks:
Verlander was without question the most dominant Tigers pitching prospect but, who was the organizations position player of the year?

John Manuel: lightning, poor-grammar round begins as my sick 11-month-old wakes up . . . i'd say b. clevlen

 Q:  Bang nguyen from Ottawa,Ont. Cnda. asks:
did the Nationals have anyone remotely close to be considered for the award?

John Manuel: no, but K, casto had a fine year

 Q:  Joe C from New York asks:
What are your reasonable projections for Delmon in the Majors Hr's Rbi's Avg

John Manuel: .300.-.350-.600 type of player

 Q:  Trent from Irvine, CA asks:
The Angels ranked as the number one organization at the beginning of the year. Since then, players like Wood, Kendrick, Mathis, Saunders, Santana, and Adenhart have more than exceeded expectations. Does this year just create some distance between the Angels and the next best organization interms of minor league talent for next year?

John Manuel: No, because the Dodgers had just as good a year in the minors, and they were No. 2 going in. Very tough call between the two organizations.

 Q:  JOE C from LONG ISLAND, NY asks:
Sweeter swing Delmon or Hermida

John Manuel: Hermida, bc he'sa lefty, it just looks better.

 Q:  steve S from Davis, CA asks:
At least Delmon Young has more walks than Rocco Baldelli had in Triple-A. Baldelli then had 30 walks in both of his major league seasons. What kind of walk rate might you project for Young next year?

John Manuel: I'm sorry, I read but I don't understand the preoccupation with this one stat. The walk is not the lone predictive stat on whether a player will be a good big league hitter or not. Is anyone lining up to get Pat Magness? There are more ways to control the strike zone than by drawing walks. Every scout or manager in the minors I've talked to says Young has teh ability to control the zone, get into hitter's counts and then pound the ball. That's a very good trait to have.

 Q:  Red from HB, CA asks:
It is amazing depth (the Halos MIF prospects). Who gets moved?

John Manuel: Callaspo and Aybar, I just don't see how Kendrick and Wood aren't better prospects, and they already fit Mickey Hatcher's aggressiveness mold . . . see, I can joke about walks, too.

 Q:  tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks:
Hi...could you please comment on the Luke Hochevar saga? Just odd. I read "License To Deal" though so I feel a little more in tune with how things work. Bottomline: Luke Hochevar wanted to play ball and not hold out, correct?

John Manuel: A Saga it is . . . I just don't believe that you can say that about Hochevar if he picked Scott Boras as his agent. Top talents who retain Boras as their attorney have to know his track record, and his track record is, for top talents, a holdout is a good possibility. My only other comment should be, what a mess. I feel badly for Luke Hochevar, but ultimately, it's his call. He would do well to remember that.

Moderator: Everyone, thanks very much for taking the time and asking your questions. I hope I provided answers that made it worth your time. More BA chat goodness to come soon as we start unveiling league Top 20 prospects later this month.

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