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Gaslamp Ball Interview Series: Baseball Prospectus' Marc Normandin

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You may recognize Marc Normandin as Gaslampballer Marc. You may recognize him from his work on Beyond the Box Score. Did you also know he writes for Baseball Prospectus? Let's catch up with Marc and get some analysis on the season in the form of Four Semi-Quick Questions. This interview was conducted before the start of the season.

GLB: In our interview with Paul DePodesta, he talked about marrying statistical analysis with scouting to "paint a painting" of a player. What do you think of this approach? How can scouting and sabermetrics be used in harmony?

Marc: I think using either one exclusively creates more problems than putting them together. I use scouting information from Baseball America and our own Kevin Goldstein in order to prepare my Player Profile column over at BP.com, which is fairly statistically heavy, if you're familiar with it. That information is invaluable when it comes to putting together, as DePodesta said, a painting of a player. Scouting information can help give you just as much context as a table full of batted-ball data, even if some people want to act otherwise. I have never really understood the whole "scouts versus stats" debate, mostly because it isn't a discussion worth having. Both are very useful, especially when the people you have employing these methods are talented and intelligent.

One great example of this is the way many of the minor leaguers comments came out in the BP annual this year. Having Kevin on board made everyone's job infinitely easier, and combining his scouting knowledge with the statistics we had available made for a much better product, in my opinion. DePodesta is right on target with what he said, for sure.

GLB: Is there anybody on the team this year that you're especially high on?

Marc: I'm a big fan of Kouzy; I think he can fufill his PECOTA projection, or at least come close to it this season. Adrian Gonzalez is another player I'm a big fan of. I think he'll outperform his forecast considerably, and put up another line similar to last year's. His April and first few weeks of May dragged down his overall line somewhat, as well as some of the expectations many have for him. I expect a rebound from Marcus Giles, and I really hope Brian Giles improves on last year, where he was a bit unlucky and his line drive rate dropped considerably. For the first time in awhile, there is not really any one member of the Padres I wish was not a Padre (I'm looking at you, Vinny).

GLB: What's your quick take on the moves in the starting lineup for the Padres? Barfield turning into Loretta. Committee at third turning into Kouz. Dave Roberts turning into Termel Sledge. Are we better than last year offensively?

Marc: I like Barfield, but I like Marcus Giles more in the short term over at second. They're defensive equals according to Probabilistic Model of Range, and his OBP is a great fit for a Padres lineup that has a hard time thriving on power. That said, they will need Sledge to show a bit of power in the lineup, but I feel he is capable of that. If he slugged .470, I'd be thrilled.

As for third base...where to start. Only two players who had time at third base in 2006 had any offensive value whatsoever: Russ Branyan, and Mark Bellhorn. I mentioned this in my Hope & Faith piece for the Padres over at BP, but the team's VORP total at third was -14.3, even with those positive contributions. Kouzy is a better hitter than most--if not all--of the players the Padres used at the corner in 2006, and thanks to that, the offense should end up better off than before. They are losing production at catcher with Piazza leaving for Oakland, but it's somewhat hard to comprehend just how poorly Vinny Castilla and Co. played at third to bring down the Friar's run total, and when the dust clears I feel they'll be better off.

GLB: Returning to the DePo interview, he made a claim that the Padres 6-7-8 hitters and 3-4-5 pitchers will be as good as, if not better than everybody else in the league. As a good blogger with a BP account, I should run the numbers myself, but off the top of your head, how close is DePo to being correct?

Marc: Maddux-Wells-Hensley is a great 3-4-5; it's this depth in the rotation that I feel puts the Padres on another level in comparison to their NL rivals. Maddux and Wells are strike throwers in a park that helps hide any mistakes they make, and Hensley is more than capable as the fifth guy. As for the lineup, the Padres have more depth than in previous years, with guys like Bard, Kouzmanoff and Sledge hitting down towards the bottom of the order without sacrificing any production in the middle. Having a slew of solid OBP and power combinations will help this team score more runs from the 1-8 spots than many teams in the league, although this may not show up in the raw totals with half of their games in that anti-offense environment. They have average or above average players at every single position on the diamond though, which is something more rare than it sounds.

[editor's note, by Dex] Thanks again to Marc! Any questions? Anything we missed? Leave them here and we'll get Marc on the case.