Chat with Jayson Stark
Jayson Stark has been a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com since 2000. His regular contributions include the newsy Rumblings and Grumblings column and his tilted look inside baseball's numbers and quirks, the Useless Information Department.
Click here for information on Stark's book "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History."
Send your questions now and join Jayson on Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:02 PM)
Hard to believe we only have a month and a half to go in this amazing season. So we'd better get this chatfest started.
Rich (Ashburn, VA)
Jayson-do you think the Cardinals still have a chance of making the playoffs? And, will they get a bat or maybe Fuentes for the stretch run? Thanks!!
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
Absolutely. It doesn't help that they only have one series apiece left with the Brewers and Cubs. But three games isn't insurmountable. It only takes one injury to one of those teams above them to change everything. Right now, there are just about no impact bats to go out and get. And I'm still not certain Brian Fuentes is going to get traded. He hasn't gone on waivers yet, from what I'm hearing. And it will be tough for him to make it all the way to the Cardinals when he does. But you never know.
What's your take on J-Roll's comments about Philadelphia fans being front-runners?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
Well, I don't agree with the use of that term. And from his amended remarks yesterday, obviously he realizes he got that wrong, too. "Front-runners" doesn't describe people in Philadelphia, in my experience. I also think it was a bad idea for a guy having the year he's having to say that. But anybody who doesn't think Philadelphians are the toughest fans in America needs to get out more. I've said this many times, and I'll say it again. People have every right to boo when players screw up, don't hustle or make glaring mental mistakes. And they have every right to boo when a team stinks it up in a big game. I understand that, and I believe in that. But booing as a culture? I don't get that. It makes no sense to me that people come to the park just to boo, and it happens in Philadelphia. And while I get why they do it, if they think it inspires anybody or makes any players want to play in Philly -- or stay in Philly -- they don't have a real good feel for human nature.
tom* (parkville, md)
I know my Tigers are going to somewhat blow up the team this off-season. How massive of a change should be expected?
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
That team needs a lot of work, to say the least. They need a new shortstop. They need to find somebody, anybody to take Gary Sheffield -- especially when he gets down to the last year of his contract. (Always combustible.) And, especially, they need to remake at LEAST half of their bullpen and, possibly, their rotation. How they do that, without becoming a $180-million team, I'm not so sure. But they'd love to dump a big contract or two just about any way they could.
Hi Jason, apparently Sherrill was on waivers and a team had claimed him but the Orioles took him back, what would be the reasoning? Would it be because it could've been someone in their division such as the Rays who have now announce Percival to the DL? Thanks
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
No, I think they've decided there's no reason to trade him now. Maybe this winter. Maybe next July. Maybe the winter after that. But there's no hurry, because he's affordable and controllable for so long. If they wait until they're sure Chris Ray is OK and ready to be a closer again, it would be easier to move him without pulling the rug out from under a team that has played really hard this year.
Ok so if the White Sox hit a HR they win but they need to find some speed before the playoff right? Can they go deep without the "smallball"?
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
The most amazing statistic of August to me, is this: The White Sox have won six games all year when they didn't hit a home run. Six. That's a dangerous formula for October success. And it's too late to remake their team now. Tinker? Yes. Find some big-time igniter? No.
Jason what do you think about the small army of players the Pirates got in return for their two big trades at the deadline?
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
I wrote about this in Rumblings this week. I called them one of the "losers" right after the deadline. But the more people I've talked to since, the more I've softened. Of those eight, they'll have six in the big leagues by September, or next year at the latest. And they really needed to upgrade the depth in their organization, because they had so little of it. The one criticism I stand by is that there isn't one can't-miss, centerpiece player you can look at in that group and say, "He'll be a star." But if Billy Beane had made those moves, people would be talking about what a genius he is. Because they're the Pirates and they haven't won since Barry Bonds left town, it's too easy to say they blew it. And I think I got caught up in that syndrome myself. Mea culpa.
Kenny Lofton (my house)
The White Sox need a leadoff hitter? Really? Should I check my phone?
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
Hey, they tried. They made the most serious in-season run at Lofton of any team out there, from what I've heard. But Lofton wants real money (at least $3 million) to come back. And the White Sox didn't want to go that route. But he would have fit what they need more than Ken Griffey. You're right on that.
Dan (Indy, Ind)
Do you see the Yankees make it to the playoffs this year? If not, what changes do you expect them to make during the offseason?
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
Let's put it this way: The Red Sox are on pace to win 94 games and win the wild card. For the Yankees to win 94, they'd have to go 30-11. Which is hard to foresee happening, the way this team is playing. Once they get to the offseason, their big mission is to add a top-of-the-rotation starter. So C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets will be hearing from them. You can bet on that.
Alex (New York)
Do the Mets have to pick up Delgado's option for next year with the way he's been playing lately? I know everyone wants Texiera but Delgado has been amazing since June and they did just draft that kid Davis for in two years.
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
It wouldn't shock me. They're on the hook for a miniumum of $4 million for Delgado anyway, because that's his buyout. So for another $8 million, they'd have him back on a one-year deal. And to me, that's always attractive than having to pay absurd Scott Boras auction money to a guy like Teixeira. Boras won't be happy if both the Yankees and Mets don't chase Teixeira, but there's a good chance that's exactly how this will shake out.
Everyone (in Cleveland)
We're wondering if Cliff Lee (yes, THAT Cliff Lee) really has a shot at winning the AL Cy Young Award, or if it will end up going to someone on a higher profile, and, well, WINNING team? I mean, really, when was the last time a Cy Young Award winner came from a last place team? Steve Carlton in '72?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
How could Cliff Lee NOT be the favorite for the Cy Young? He isn't 16-2 because of run support. He's 16-2 because he's leading the league in ERA. This isn't quite a Carlton-esque year. But it's a Cy Young year unless he doesn't win another game.
John (New York)
As I Mets fan, and frankly stunned that Phillies murderes-row offense is inconsistent. Is some chemistry component missing this year that was there last year? I wonder if Aaron Rowand was a "heat-and-soul" of the team type, and his absence is being missed.
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
I don't think they're the same team. And scouts, and people from teams that play them, feel the same way. They just don't have that same edge they had last year. And their inability to manufacture runs without the long ball can be directly traced to Jimmy Rollins' strange year. He scored 139 runs last year -- and he's on pace to drop by 60 runs this year. I know he was on the DL for a while. But that's still a telling statistic. He turns the key in that engine, and he hasn't been the same guy.
What do you make of Jim Edmonds? His season OPS is now significantly over .800 after his awful start.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
One of the biggest pick-ups of the year, and nobody saw it coming. I don't know anyone who saw him earlier in the season who didn't think he was done, or just a part-time player. But he's gotten healthier. He's in a park more conducive to his stroke. And the Cubs wouldn't be doing what they're doing without him.
Vinny (Philly, PA)
If the Dodgers had real fans, they'd throw batteries at Manny Ramirez. Right, pal?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
I was waiting for this question. Or something like it. OK, I exaggerated in that column just like you exaggerated with that comment. I understand why people in L.A. are cheering for Manny. He's revived their whole team. I just wanted to make a point that anybody who thinks this is the real Manny, or this is what somebody will get if they sign him for big bucks and lots of years is seriously misguided. The consensus is, if he can push that "on" button this easily, he can push that "off" button just as easily once he has that contract. And anybody who gives it to him is opening the door for all sorts of problems. Just my benevolent way of sounding the alarm siren. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Paddy (St. Louis, MO)
Jayson, Is anyone ever going to look at the Manny - Red Sox situation from a different perspective. If Randy Moss can get a second chance after "quitting on a team and not playing hard", then why can't Manny who is obviously more comfortable in Southern California culture? At some point, Boston has to say, he disliked the city or the organization enough to sabotage the relationship, and from hearing of other former Red Sox players such as Renteria and Nomar, maybe they disliked Boston for a good reason.
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
OK, to be fair, you make a valid point. There are two sides to this story, and the Red Sox certainly contributed to Manny's dislike for their franchise at the end. But there's nothing I hate more in sports than lack of professionalism -- except for greed. And that's what Manny exuded in those final days in Boston -- complete lack of professionalism in the pursuit of nothing other than dollar signs. So I see no reason to applaud that, no matter how extenuating the circumstances.
James (Collingswood, NJ)
Of course Rollins isn't the same guy. There has been reports all season long about Rollins and how he changed after winning the MVP. He has become a diva in the clubhouse and it certainly appears to have hurt his on field play.
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
You know, I hear this a lot -- that Jimmy Rollins is turning into Allen Iverson. And that's ridiculous. I've known this guy a long time. I think he still cares about winning, and about his teammates, and he's not intentionally being disruptive. But I think he got a little comfortable, if that's the right word, after last year. And some of the stuff he did before -- like being one of the last guys to the park -- he's done even more this year. You know what he needs to do different most of all? Play better.
"So I see no reason to applaud that, no matter how extenuating the circumstances." Except that's exactly what Boston fans have done with Randy Moss. He stopped playing for 2 years and all of a sudden is the best receiver in the league again, and nobody seems to care and Pats fans defend him to the death. That's the problem... it's extremely hypocritical.
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
It's funny how that works, isn't it? We live in a world where winning justifies anything, I guess. But somebody has to fight that trend. I'm happy to lead the battle if anybody's interested in joining.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Now that both the Dodgers and D-Backs have made moves for big hitters, who do you give the edge to in the NL West?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
I think the Dodgers are going to win the West, although it would help to know how much, if anything, they're going to get from Brad Penny, Takashi Saito, Jason Schmidt and Rafael Furcal the rest of the way. But adding Manny and Casey Blake has changed their whole team. And it's hard to ignore the fact that Arizona is 9 games under .500 since April. So I'll give that edge to L.A.
Juan, DelRay Beach, FL
Jayson - what happened to the Yankee offense this year? Injuries aside they still have a better 1-6 than probably 90% of the teams in baseball yet they look like the Nats more often than not. What gives?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
It's been hard to comprehend. But let's start with Robinson Cano and ARod. Is Cano's head in these games at all anymore? He hasn't been able to sustain any level of concentration all year, at the plate or in the field. And it shows. And check ARod's splits sometime when you get a chance. His overall numbers look great. But I looked a little more closely the other day when I was preparing my MVP chat. He's hitting .234 with runners in scoring position. And he has four RBIs all season in the late innings of close games. FOUR! He carried that team last year. But he's just been a number-hanger this year.
Will this be the Rays only playoff season. Or will they be a contender for years to come?
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
They understand that when you play in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox, you can't win, or even contend, 10 years out of 10. Especially with their payroll limitations, and still no new ballpark on the horizon. So when years like this come along, they have to take advantage of the opportunity. But they're actually a year ahead of schedule. I think even they thought they're going to have more talent on the field next year than this year. David Price and Wade Davis should both be on their pitching staff at some point next year, and those are two seriously talented guys.
Do you see the pirates signing alvarez by the deadline and if so how soon before he's in the majors?
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
I think, ultimately, that most of these first-round picks will sign but not all. And the buzz is that he'll be one who signs. But when you have Boras and Frank Coonelly battling over a deal like this, anything is possible. I think he's a fairly fast-track player, but you're still probably looking at two years from now at the earliest. That's the part Boras always misses when he takes these draft-pick signings to the final hour (or final minute): His players lose a whole summer of playing baseball.
Mark (Bangor, PA)
Do you think with the way things have started for CC in Milwaukee that he would rather stay in the NL or do you think it will all come down to the bottom line $$$$$?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
If it was about where he loves playing, he'd wind up back in Cleveland. But this is absolutely, positively about dollars. He wants, essentially, the Santana contract (seven years, in the neighborhood of $140 million). And while his geographical preference is the west coast, I think it's very possible he'll still wind up as a Yankee because they can win any auction.
Any input on Peter Gammons' article about Soto possibly deserving serious MVP consideration?
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
I think he's in the argument, because he's had a special year. But I still think Albert Pujols would top my ballot right now. And if the Astros keep charging, Lance Berkman might just win this thing. He's had the best season of anybody in the league, bar none.
Eli (Berkeley CA)
Lincecum for CY Young? Hes got more strikeouts and a better ERA that Webb
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
That Lincecum-Webb debate is as good as it gets. I hear people arguing that Sabathia ought to win this, but that's almost impossible in a season when those other two guys are having the years they're having. I'd go Webb right now, incidentally. And here's a fun factoid for you all. CC Sabathia's ERA since he arrived in Milwaukee is 1.55. Guess what Webb's ERA is in the same period? How about 1.59. I rest my case.
Steven (New York City)
Over or Under?? Carl Pavano wins 2 games for the Yankees this year.
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
I'll always take the under on that guy.
If Ryan Braun gets healthy quick, can he leapfrog into the NL MVP talk?
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
Absolutely. He's a top-fiver now for me.
The difference between Moss & Manny? Moss quit on a team that had no chance of winning - Manny quit on the defending WS champs, a team with a legit chance to repeat.
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
Very well put.
Is Brandon Webb even the Cy Young of his own team? Haren has more quality starts and strikeouts, a better WHIP and near identical ERA.
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Dan Haren might be third in this race, at worst. But I don't think he's the Cy Young. Brandon Webb has that ace aura. And he's 17-4! Haren has absolutely pitched great, and he's been a tremendous assistant ace. But I think other teams still look at Brandon Webb as The Man on that staff.
If Berkman's having the best season, why would you give it to Pujols?
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
This is the final question, by the way. If you look at the history of MVP voting and the way voters vote -- myself included -- a player gets extra MVP points for keeping his team in a race. The Astros have had a bizarre year -- in it, way out of it, now kind of back in it. But Pujols has felt the pressure to carry his team in the midst of an amazing race for months. He's getting no pitches to hit. And he's still at .345, with a .458 OBP and a .600 SLG. But these scripts are written in the final month. So stay tuned!
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks, everybody. We'll pick this up next week.