First of all, let me say that I'm a little disappointed that I haven't received a bunch of questions about this so far, especially considering all of the talk on the subject. After all, these types of situations are perfect for this forum. I'll just assume that everyone wanted me to enjoy my trip to New York with my son. :-)
So, hit me with it. Hit me with all of your questions (just don't expect me to get to them before Friday).
I will say this, though. There is no such thing as the perfect time to call up a prospect. Do you do it when the team is winning? When they're losing? When the guys in front of the prospect are playing well? Playing poorly? When the prospect is playing well in the minors? For how long? Two weeks? A month? There are arguments for all of the above and many more. Incidentally, calling up Headley last year from AA straight to Wrigley Field wasn't ideal, but we thought it gave us the best chance to win so we did it.
My only answer is that in a perfect world (which rarely, if ever, occurs), I prefer bringing guys up when you have the reasonable hope that they'll never go back down to the minors. That is strictly my opinion, not anyone else's. This was the case with guys like Khalil and Jake. All too often, though, you see guys come up, struggle, then go back down. That roundtrip ticket can do a lot of damage to a player's confidence, and that confidence is a key ingredient to success at the highest levels. Along those lines, think about what it did for Kouz last year when Buddy stuck with him and kept putting him out there. We all expected Kouz would hit, but I'm confident that the decision to keep him in the big leagues throughout his struggles was an element in his eventual success, even if just a sliver.
There are examples at nearly every level. During spring training of 2003, Nick Swisher was having a monster camp. After being drafted in 2002 he had finished the season in High-A ball, and the plan all winter was to start him back there. Due to his great spring, some people starting pushing for Nick to go to AA even though he didn't even have a year's worth of minor league at-bats yet (I'm sure I was one of them). I specifically remember Keith Lieppman, the Farm Director of the A's, saying, "If he goes to AA and struggles to the point where we have to send him back to A ball, I won't even know where to begin to pick up the pieces." Nick Swisher was not a guy who lacked for confidence, by the way. So, Nick started back in A ball, killed it, moved to AA, and so on.
I'll never forget Keith making that stand, especially considering his experience in player development is second to none. We all want to get our players to the big leagues as quickly as possible, but we also need to be as prudent as possible (and Keith needed to remind us in that situation), because when the players get there we want to succeed. Not survive. Succeed.
If a player can experience immediate success, he can take a leap forward on the Major League learning curve. Hopefully that will be the case with Chase.
I look forward to your questions.