Chat with Rob Neyer
Neyer's new book, "Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends," can be ordered now!
Send in your questions now and join Rob in The Show on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Rob Neyer (4:00 PM)
Game on. Chat on.
Rob, Let me get this straight...if the Red Sox and Rays had finished with the same record, the Rays would have taken the division title (and home field advantage, I might add) because they owned a better head-to-head record. However, despite the fact that the Twins had the head-to-head advantage over the White Sox, they were still required to play a one game playoff? My assumption is that the rule is different when it decides who will get the last playoff spot, but isn't that rather arbitrary?
Rob Neyer (4:01 PM)
I think it's a terribly dumb rule and should be changed. Maybe it made sense in 1946. It doesn't in 2008.
Allen (Lubbock, Texas)
Do the Dodgers have any hope of winning this series?
Rob Neyer (4:02 PM)
Sure! I have the Cubs winning because they're the better team and they've got the home field on their side. But the Dodgers are capable.
Taylor (Athens, GA)
Rob, I am graduate student in ed policy. One of my profs finally turned on to sabermetrics through Silver's new 538 blog on politics. Any recommendations on classic text(s) I should refer him? I have my own favorites, but would appreciate recommendations from the master. Thanks!
Rob Neyer (4:04 PM)
I would say anything written by Bill James is both informative and wildly entertaining. For the hardcore stuff there's THE BOOK: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. I'm leaving out lots of good books, and much of the best material is on the Internets.
Rob, can the Red Sox win with Beckett(assuming he's healthy) only pitching 1 game? How about their chances if Beckett can't even pitch in Game 3?
Rob Neyer (4:06 PM)
I think if he can pitch effectively in Game 3 the Red Sox win in five. I think if he can't, the Red Sox lose in four or five.
Tom (Melbourne, FL)
Rob, in your recent piece about the value of three "ace" starters, your arbitrary "ace" criteria excluded Josh Beckett (ERA+ 114) and left the Red Sox off the list of teams able to field three aces. If Beckett is healthy enough to pitch as we all know he can in the ALDS, don't you think the Red Sox starting three gives them an advantage over the Halo complement in a short series? Even if Beckett can't go, Tim Wakefield doesn't fall short of (again, arbitrary) "ace" status with an ERA+ of 111. I think the Sox have a clear advantage in this series, all due to their superior starting pitching, especially in view of how poorly the Angels' starters have pitched down the stretch. Thoughts?
Rob Neyer (4:07 PM)
Nice follow-up! Short answer: Yes. I had to draw the line somewhere, but most of us do think of Beckett as an ace.
Kevin (Brunswick GA)
How about some offseason news. 4 year 41 mill contract to Kyle Lohse with the Cardinals. Good deal?
Rob Neyer (4:08 PM)
$10 million is apparently the going rate for an average (but durable) major league starter. I'm not at all sure he'll still be average in three years, though.
Rob, how would you rank home field advantage for the 8 play off teams? I think it's most important for the Red Sox, Cubs and Rays.
Rob Neyer (4:09 PM)
Red Sox and Rays, especially. Because their ballparks are so different than their opponents'.
How awful was Weeks' error, I'm stuck at work and couldn't see it, but knowing Rickie, I'm sure it could be fantastic...
Rob Neyer (4:11 PM)
Sorry, I missed it, was in the garage for a few minutes and listening to the ESPN Radio broadcast. Will see it later, I'm sure...
Going to any playoff games this year? If so which ones?
Rob Neyer (4:12 PM)
No plans at this point. Last year I went to the World Series when a ticket fell into my lap (though I did pay for it), but most years I'm content to watch the games on TV and chat with you guys.
Is ESPN going to have another playoff game marathon chats like last year's playoffs when you and Keith Law switched chatting every other game?
Rob Neyer (4:13 PM)
I don't know the schedule, but I suspect whatever we did last year, we'll do again this year but better.
Any chance the White Sox give Tampa any problems in their series? Off-hand I would think no, but the ChiSox pitching is capable, correct?
Rob Neyer (4:14 PM)
After what they did in 2005 and then again this year, I wouldn't put anything past them. I do think the Rays are better, but by just a little.
Jeff (Brooklyn, OH)
How would you rate Brian Cashman as a GM?
Rob Neyer (4:16 PM)
That's a tough one, and I hope to address the question in depth in a blog post today or tomorrow. It's certainly hard to defend the Yankees' pitchers over the last few years. How much of that is Cashman? I wish I knew.
John (Chicago, IL)
Rob, given the AL's dominance over the NL in recent years in interleague play, the predominant theory is that the AL is a far stronger league top-to-bottom. Do you agree with this, and if so, do you think the Cubs (best in the NL) are in the same class or better than any of the AL playoff teams?
Rob Neyer (4:17 PM)
I absolutely agree, but I think the Cubs are essentially as good as the AL's best, particularly if Beckett and Drew are still gimpy.
I have a boss who thinks the difference with AL and NL is overrated. What is the best way to demonstrate to him he is wrong? What is the evidence (is there an article or study or stats I can point to other than interleague)?
Rob Neyer (4:23 PM)
The studies are out there, but it's hard for me to believe the interleague records wouldn't be good enough for your boss. The numbers are overwhelming.
Randy (St. Paul)
Let me guess everyone at ESPN will pick the Twins to finish 4th in the division again next year...
Rob Neyer (4:24 PM)
My guess is that most of us will have them second or third, behind the Indians and perhaps the White Sox but ahead of the Tigers and Royals. But considering where they finished in OPS and OPS allowed this season, I suspect I'll have them fourth.
Mark (Portland, OR)
Hello Rob. Can you clarify your response to the first question? Do you believe teams with the same record should play a 1-game sudden-death, regardless of whether or not it means a spot in the post-season? Or, do you believe that teams with the same record should win or lose based on their head-to-head record for the season, and advance or not accordingly, regardless of a post-season spot? I'm assuming you mean the latter. I'll also assume you mean that if two teams finish with the same record at the end, and tied head-to-head for the season, then they'd have a tie-breaker. Correct?
Rob Neyer (4:25 PM)
When two teams must play one game with a playoff spot on the line, the team that won the season series should be the home team. Period.
How much, if at all, does last nights performance by Danks change your opinion on him. I was blown away, and have a lot more faith in him going forward.
Rob Neyer (4:27 PM)
Hey, I was sold three months ago. That said, while he was considered a good prospect in the minors, there was never any particular indication that he would be this good.
Mike (San Diego)
The Padres botched the Strasburg sweepstakes, but they recently picked up two nice prospects in the Maddux deal. Do you think there's any hope for 2009 or 2010?
Rob Neyer (4:31 PM)
Sure. There are too many smart people in the front office for this team to stink every season. I think 75-80 wins is a reasonable target for next year.
John (Chicago, IL)
Rob, I share your opinion that Jeter is and has been a less than mediocre shortstop for the majority of his career. I came across this article you wrote several years ago judging from the context of it, and then watched Jeter win three straight gold gloves from 2004-2006: http://espn.go.com/mlb/columns/neyer_rob/1415695.html My question is, who's the right MLB official to petition to have his award removed or have either the criteria or voting representatives of the award changed drastically? Bud Selig? I'll draft the petition if you'll sponsor it.
Rob Neyer (4:32 PM)
MLB's got very little to do with the Gold Glove Awards, which are administered by Rawlings. The best thing we can do is ignore Gold Gloves and rely on objective metrics when discussing defense.
Andy (Southern IN)
The team that wins the season series gets the home game--that's a nice concept, but what if the season series isn't decided until the final weekend and/or ends up tied? Teams that whine about where game 163 is played when they had 60+ chances to avoid it is really lame--though I have to say that the Twins themselves have done much less whining than the fans and media.
Rob Neyer (4:34 PM)
So what? Every year, teams in different sports can't make final travel plans until the last day of the season. That's just part of the deal.
Noticed that Gallardo's final stat line for today had 0 earned runs. How can that be? There weren't two out in the inning when the error was committed.
Rob Neyer (4:37 PM)
That's irrelevant, John. You simply reconstruct the inning assuming there was no error. And if you do that, Gallardo doesn't give up any runs at all.
Tom (Melbourne, FL)
Rob, the best argument I've seen in favor of deciding home field for the one game playoff via coin flip (as opposed to giving home field to the season series winner) is that it allows the team winning home field enough time to print and sell tickets. You lose that if you have to wait until the season series is decided. There's just no way to arrange the logistics unless the decision is made far enough in advance. It's a base practical concern, but I think a legitimate one.
Rob Neyer (4:39 PM)
It's legitimate ... Just not nearly legitimate enough. For one thing, there aren't many playoffs, and some significant percentage of the time, you'll know who won the season series some days or weeks before the potential playoff. For another, in this day and age there's a great way to sell and print tickets quickly: the Internet. As I said, this might have made sense 50 or even 20 years ago. It doesn't now.
How long are you chatting for today?
Rob Neyer (4:40 PM)
I'm going until 5pm unless the Brewers get close between now and then, in which case I'll probably hang around for a while longer.
Please tell Tom that 23k showed up to watch the Cubs play an afternoon game with 1 day notice. I think fans could show up for a prime time game to get into the playoffs.
Rob Neyer (4:40 PM)
Both teams could print tickets if it looks like there will be a 1 game playoff. The twins printed tickets for the actual playoffs in advance and they aren't using those.
Rob Neyer (4:41 PM)
Tom (Melbourne, FL)
I forgot to DVR this afternoon's game, and I'm missing what looks to be a scary-good performance by Hamels. How good does that change look?
Rob Neyer (4:42 PM)
As good as ever, though he's been a little shaky these last few moments. This does feel like the Brewers' one big chance, yeah?
Rich (Columbus, OH)
Odds of Angel Berroa being World Series MVP?
Rob Neyer (4:46 PM)
Google to 1. Then again, I thought it was a googol to 1 that he'd ever get back to the majors. Let alone with a first-place team . . .
Rob, could you ever tape a game if you couldn't watch it live and then avoid TV, radio, internet and friends and watch the game a few hours later without knowing the outcome or would you have to cheat and see who won before hand?
Rob Neyer (4:47 PM)
For a long time I couldn't, but I've been learning for the last year or so. DVR makes the proposition a great deal more attractive to me.
Rob what's the next book gonna be about? "Legends" has been out for awhile now?
Rob Neyer (4:48 PM)
Well, it was just last spring. I've written six books in eight years, and for the moment I'm just taking a deep breath. Maybe I'll write six more, and maybe I'll never write another. I'm happy either way.
John (Chicago, IL)
Rob, if I'm not mistaken, part of the criteria for a league MVP is contingent upon playing the majority of the games in that league, yet the past few days I've heard multiple analysts, coaches and even players say they'd vote for CC Sabathia or Manny Ramirez for MVP of the National League. Wouldn't voting for either of these guys basically be discounting what they did in the first half of the season in the AL (I compare it to somebody who was injured in the first half then came back and performed in the 2nd half), or do you think they both should be considered for MVP based on the fact that both their teams probably don't make the playoffs without them?
Rob Neyer (4:49 PM)
Let me just say that I'm astounded by the mental gymnastics necessary to turn Manny Ramirez into an MVP candidate.
Stephen (Sacramento, CA)
Congrats on making the post season chat roster. Keep up the good work. If the Angels win the world series will you admit they're the best team?
Rob Neyer (4:52 PM)
I will admit that they played the best in October. Probably.
Is this Cole Hamels' coming out?
Rob Neyer (4:55 PM)
It'll take more than one game. But yeah, if the Phillies get to the World Series and Hamels does his part, a lot of people are going to notice. By the way, he needed only 5 pitches to dispatch the Brewers in the seventh, and overall has thrown only 90 pitches.
Corey (Great Neck, NY)
Can we please stop the TBS announcers from saying that every single play is an 'excellent' play? Pedro Feliz tripped, bobbled a ball and threw it to first and suddenly it's a great play, and Ryan Howard caught a ball that was, uhm, hit right to him..
Rob Neyer (4:57 PM)
Broadcasters do tend to hyperbole. I have to say I've been exceptionally impressed with John Smoltz, who sounds like he's been doing this for years.
Metrics are a great use for prediction, but reality is often anything but predictable. That being said, what are you playoff predictions and WS MVP?
Rob Neyer (4:58 PM)
Those have been posted on the baseball page, I think. But my off-the-wall MVP choice is Rich Harden.
Any chance Rameriz can win ALROY? He played in more games and did some amazing things to keep the sox in contention. Yes Longoria is wonderful but isnt it hard to ignore what Rameriz has done?
Rob Neyer (5:01 PM)
You know, I was on Longoria all season, but ultimately I went with Ramirez, in part because of his grand slam on Sunday.
How ridiculous is it that Edwin Jackson will be left off the ALDS roster but Percival gets to stay...
Rob Neyer (5:02 PM)
Tough darts for Jackson, but the Rays don't need five starters and I trust their judgment regarding Jackson's suitability as a reliever.
Asdrubal Cabrara in 2009?
Rob Neyer (5:02 PM)
Good season, back to where he was in 2007. Just another reason to be optimistic about the Indians.
Adam (Columbus, OH)
Is Mike Cameron batting in the leadoff spot simply because there are no better alternatives? I guess it is better than Kendall at leadoff.
Rob Neyer (5:05 PM)
Sveum wanted to shake things up a little, but Cameron does get on base fairly often and he does run well. It's not the worst thing in the world.
Does Sheets pitch game 3 or is he done?
Rob Neyer (5:05 PM)
I don't know that anybody knows yet, but even if he does pitch it's hard to imagine him going far or doing well. Biggest reason you have to like the Phillies in four games.
Scott (St. Louis)
Rob, do you think that Pinella pitches Manny with kid gloves? Wouldn't it make sense to just walk him, ala Barry Bonds?
Rob Neyer (5:07 PM)
Depends on the pitcher and the situation, but the Cubs' top starters are all righties and I think Manny will see some strikes.
If you were Ozzie, what would be your starting OF?
Rob Neyer (5:08 PM)
Without looking at all the options, I'll only say that Nick Swisher should usually be playing. His numbers this season are deceptive; guy can still hit.
I'm a Portland newbie and diehard Dodger fan. Any recommendations on where to watch the game?
Rob Neyer (5:11 PM)
Sorry, Mike, but I only know the places in my little neighborhood. Speaking of which, I'm off to a local watering hole to see if the Phils can finish the shutout. Thanks for all the questions, and don't forget: "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." -r
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