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.
Send your questions now and join Jayson on Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:01 PM)
Manny is gone. ARod is back. And it's a great time for a chat. So let's get started.
Jake: (Iowa City, Iowa)
Hey Jayson, love the chat. What kind of A-Rod do you expect to see in the coming weeks? With all the media attention, coming off of re-had, the floundering Yankees and A-Rod's past inability to deliver in the clutch, is he going to be "the missing piece" so many Yankee fans have been waiting for?
Jayson Stark (1:03 PM)
It's impossible to forecast. I've heard that physically, he's looked great. But he's walking into a situation with a lot of pressure, and with the eyes of the whole planet on him. It's no secret that having the eyes of the planet on him hasn't been his favorite thing about being a baseball player. So I'd ratchet expectations down if I were the Yankees, no matter how much they need him.
Jason, without the "y" (NY, NY)
I know you must be bombarded with Manny questions, but I was hoping you take this one because it is apparently simple, yet I have not heard of anyone, on TV or in print, talk about it. If what Manny was taking is traditionally used after a cycle of steriods, and Manny did not test positive for steroids, does this mean that another undetectable steroid has hit the cheaters' market? If not, how can you explain his failure to test positive for steroids? Luck? Being tipped off to testing? Thanks.
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
Well, I'm no chemist, so I don't understand all the permutations of this issue. But some of this is a matter of semantics. Technically, Manny didn't "test positive." But the test did catch him, because it revealed an unusually high level of an artificial testosterone. So that's the good news about the testing system. The bad news is, there's no testing at this point that can detect everything and catch everybody. That's what keeps those great pharmaceutical minds out there in business -- unfortunately.
Should the Dodgers or Yankees attempt to sue Manny and AROD in order to revoke their contracts. Especially AROD who admitted to pro-longed use of PED's. I think they have a good argument that they would not have received such a high contract without statistics that were inflated by illegal actions.
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
You're getting into a tricky area. If you read my Rumblings column this week, I explore a similar issue: Do the Yankees have to pay ARod his $30M in "historic milestone accomplishment" bonuses if they can prove that what he's doing is no longer historic? A lot of people I've talked to think they have a case. The question is how motivated would they be to make it? And I think the same is true with the Dodgers and Manny. They could probably argue he defrauded them, but there's no precedent for a successful argument like that. So how angry is Frank McCourt? Does he really want to push that hard? I doubt it, but it's not impossible.
David (Hanover, NH)
When Manny comes up on the Hall of Fame ballot in 10 or so years, do you see yourself voting for him?
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
I knew this question was coming. I'm psychic like that. I never like to say definitively this far in advance whether I'll vote for a guy like this. But the more I think about what a mess this is making of Hall of Fame voting, the more I think we should either elect all the great players of that era or none of them. And my inclination has been to vote for these guys, based on the precedent of how voters have handled similar issues over the years. And then what I'd really like to see is to have their plaques reflect the truth: Manny Ramirez tested positive. Alex Rodriguez admitted he took steroids. And I believe in the Bob Costas suggestion -- place an informational sign in the gallery that essentially says: "This was The Steroid Era. Take all these names and stats with that in mind."
Lance Berkman has been always talked about he's clean and everyone believes him. His numbers don't look so good anymore. Can we believe him that he's clean? Can we quit saying this guy (actually everyone) is clean?
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
Lance Berkman has been so adamant, and his disgust about these guys so apparent, that he's easy to believe. But the tragedy of The Steroid Era is that nobody believes, or believes in, anyone anymore. If a guy has a big year, people think he's cheating. If a guy slumps, people think he used to be cheating. It's an awful place to be. And I hope the sport climbs out of this pit some day. What I can't understand is why people don't ask the same questions about players in the other sports.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
But Mr. Stark, if MLB recognizes Barry Bonds as the current HR king and A-Rod passes him, doesn't that pretty much end all legal actions against A-Rod? The only way you have a case is if ALL records associated with the steroid era are eradicated from the record books.
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
I quote an agent in the Rumblings column as saying exactly that: Unless both Bonds and ARod have some sort of asterisk applied to their numbers and records, it's hard to see how there's a case. But once again, I forgot to graduate from law school this week. At any rate, read the whole column. It's an interesting issue.
Any baseball talk today, or just steroids?
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
Here's my policy: I'm doing ARod and Manny talk for the first 15-20 minutes. Then we'll go all (or at least mostly) baseball the rest of the way. Does that work?
Why do the players of the 60s and 70s who used greenies constantly get a pass in the HoF discussion? They used PEDs, and they admitted they would have used steroids if they were available. But we have no problem calling the current era of players the dirty ones. Baseball has never been a clean game.
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
I've often said that if baseball decided to throw every player who used greenies out of the Hall of Fame, they'd wipe out just about every player from the last 50 years. But for some reason, people don't look at greenies as a performance-enhancing drug. Uh, think again. Many of these players didn't know how to make it through the grind of the season without them.
Darryl in ATL
I thought PED's made you bigger. Doesn't Manny look like someone shrunk him this year? I find that confusing.
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
I think this might be the last steroid question. I'm burned out on this myself! It's time we put aside all our old stereotypes about what a PED user looks like. Did anybody think Alex Sanchez looked like a PED user? Or Andy Pettitte? Different substances have different effects on different body types. And the substances themselves have evolved over the years to the point where they're much more sophisticated. So don't base any conclusions on what players look like. That doesn't always apply.
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
OK, let's switch to baseball questions. How bout we try that? Revolutionary idea. I know!
Wavey Boyd Greensboro Nc
who do you think the best hitter and pitcher in the lgame is.
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
Albert Pujols and Johan Santana. Any arguments?
Mike (kansas city, kansas) [via mobile]
Do you think the royals are pretenders or contenders?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
Seems like I answer this question every week. Their pitching is so much better that it should keep them in a race where it might not even take 90 wins to make the postseason. But look up and down their lineup. There really isn't a single hitter that the opposing pitcher fears. Sooner or later, I think, that will catch up with them. But I see them hanging in there to the end because of pitching.
When are the Mariners finally going to give Silva the boot? PLEASE!!!
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
There are many dollars left on that contract. So they need to figure out a way to fix him. Can't they just invent an injury for him like some teams we know and send him out on a rehab option someplace? Hard to believe his ERA over these two seasons is almost 7.00 -- in a great pitchers' park. Talked to a scout who just saw him and he used the word "putrid" to describe him. That's never good!
Brad, New Orleans
It's hard to argue Santana, but Holliday is at least in the same class as him. It seems as if he goes 9 every time out.
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
He's my runner-up, without question. But Johan gets those extra dominator points for me.
Alex (Scottsdale AZ)
How long until the Cavalry of the young Orioles pitchers arrives to make them a legit threat in the AL East?
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
Depends how you define "threat." But I think you'll see the arrow pointing up by next year.
Jaime Moyer, great long career, but come on time to hang em up.
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
Uh, he led the World Series winners in wins LAST year. And he's leading again THIS year. So I politely beg to differ. Jamie, because of his style and his stuff, is always going to have games where you think he'll never win another game. But he's always found a way to adjust in the past. And it's way too soon to say he won't do that again. My friend Buster raised an interesting question this spring when we both found ourselves in Phillies camp on the same day: How will anybody be able to know for sure when Jamie Moyer is finished? Fascinating question, isn't it?
Mike (Toronto, ON)
Doc's name is spelled Halladay. Once you win a Cy Young Award, you're allowed to have your name spelled correctly.
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
Did I misspell that? My bad! Thanks. Get me spell-check!
Jon (Haslett, MI)
What do you think about the D-Backs booting Melvin, and when do you think Brandon Webb will be able to pitch?
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
I'll take the second part last: Brandon Webb isn't progressing particularly fast, and they've made a commitment to get him healthy before he comes back. So you won't see him any time soon. I was surprised Bob Melvin got fired, to be honest. But that team has been a mess since last August. And I don't think he and Josh Byrnes have been on the same page for a while now. But what's really an intriguing question about that team is how A.J. Hinch will do. He's an exceptionally bright, creative guy. But I'm always curious how a major-league team can hire a guy to manage who has never managed. Big risk. Or maybe a stroke of out-of-the-box genius.
Jayson - is it possible that ARod and the Yankees said to themselves - "let's return Friday because the hype will be focused more on Manny" - meaning that Arod may have waited if the opportunity hadn't arisen?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
I interrupt the baseball talk for one quick answer. NOOOOO. Today was always the tentative, quiet target date for ARod's return. I heard it over a week ago,which was long before Manny-gate busted out. So good conspiracy theory. But incorrect!
Chris, Los Angeles, CA
As a Dodger fan, I'm a little more worried about their pitching rather than their offense. Can you address the state of the Dodger rotation moving forward?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
I think they know they're an arm short. And they just got an extra $7M in the budget to add one. I guess it's always possible Jason Schmidt could be a force, but I doubt it. If not, I expect them to be as aggressive in chasing starting pitching in July as any team in baseball.
Christian (Washington, DC)
Assuming the Nats draft and sign Stephen Strasburg, when could we expect him to make his MLB debut? July?
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
Here's one of the safest predictions of this summer: Stephen Strasburg will sign on Aug. 15, about 14 seconds before the deadline.
Jesse Fischer, Chimacum, WA
What do you think Seattle needs to do to compete all year?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
Well, taking a few pitches at the plate would be a start. This team has offensive issues, and plate discipline/approach is at the top of that list.
Follow up on Strasburg, if he signs on Aug 15th will be go right to the majors and start for the?
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
Could he? Yes. Should he? No. Depends who has to answer that question. If the Nationals' baseball people have that call, I doubt it. If he becomes a marketing tool, you never know. But Tony Gwynn said this week that whatever team drafts him should ease off and let him recharge for next year after all the innings he's thrown in college and international competition in the last year. Good thought!
Corky (Hilton Head, SC)
How worried should the Braves be about Brian McCann's vision problems? They can barely score runs as it is...
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
You've seen the impact on that offense of not having McCann in the middle of that lineup. So obviously, this is a major worry. Looks as if they finally have this figured out. But we won't know till we see him swing the bat for an extended period.
Brian (Rochester, NY)
Hi Jayson, here's a non Manny question for you. I've read rumors that if the Jays don't stay in contention that they would consider trading Doc?? How does that make sense? I'm still optimistic about this year, but next years starting rotation could look something like this: Doc, Shaun Marcum, Scott Richmond, Dustin McGowan, Ricky Romero with maybe Janssen or Purcey somewhere in there. I'll take that any day. What do you think of that rumor, and do you think the Jays can continue what they're doing this year or should I ask you that after they play the Sox and Rays (the Yankees don't scare me at all this year). Thanks!!
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
I've written about this twice in the last two months. JP Ricciardi sees exactly what you see. And he thinks that while Halladay wants to win, he'd prefer to win in Toronto. When you look at what that lineup has done this year (21 more runs scored than anyone else in the league) and you see where this staff is headed, that may be enough to entice him to stay -- that and a whole lot of dollars.
Nora (St. Louis)
Yadier Molina--most underrated catcher in the NL?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
I'll go with Chris Iannetta as most underrated. But Yadier is a tremendous player, if that's your point.
Are the Phils going to do anything to improve their rotation?
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
It's funny. They've been targeting their bullpen. But obviously, if this keeps up, that would have to change. Not only have they had the worst starters' ERA in the league, it's been the worst by nearly A RUN AND A HALF. They're only one quality start ahead of Zack Greinke. So that has to be addressed, one way or the other.
What is wrong with Scott Kazmir? He hasn't been dominating in two years?
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
I quote a scout in this week's Rumblings as wondering why he pitches so defensively now. Good question. You just don't see the same power stuff or the same aggressiveness inside. Makes you think something's up, doesn't it?
Over/Under - Carl Crawford steals 100 bases?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
I'll take the under. I don't see why they'd even want him to steal 100 bases. Takes such a toll on a guy's legs. It's not worth it just for the magic number. But I do think if he ever set out to do it, he could.
Jayson. Thanks for taking the time. The Indians are obviously struggling. What do you think they should do to get things straightened our and do you think Pronk's career is in jeopardy?
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
They're actually relieved by the test results on Hafner, so no I don't think he's in jeopardy. And right now, their bullpen is sabotaging their whole team. They have the worst bullpen ERA in the big leagues, and every single guy out there has underperformed. Check the chart in Rumblings. They have to address that, and they know it.
jackie [via mobile]
Do u think the reds be a playoff team in a year or 2?
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
Wouldn't shock me one bit. What other team in that division has a young core group like Votto, Bruce, Volquez and Cueto to build around. They need much more offense, but the foundation of that team is in great shape.
Gage (Northfield, MN)
Hey Jayson. If the Royals stay in contention, do you see them making a midseason move to improve the lineup? For whom? And once Gordon comes back, could he be a potential trade target since Teahen's playing well while at third?
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
I'm hearing they don't expect to do anything major. All the prospects other clubs ask about are guys they don't want to deal. So I could see them making some little moves. I just don't see how they could add, say, a Matt Holliday.
Jon (Hampton, VA)
Who could possibly be the next manager to be fired?
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
I don't see anybody in imminent danger. But the Manny Acta rumors don't go away.
Todd (New York)
The Mets have started to come around a bit, lately. They're in a pretty good spot, given that they haven't gotten much from Wright, Reyes, or their rotation, sans Satana, yet, aren't they?
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
I think they're going to be OK if Maine and Pelfrey have stabilized. I agree with Chipper Jones' remarks the other day. The NL East isn't quite the powerhouse division that people thought it would be. All these teams' flaws are more glaring than originally thought. And the Mets' flaws might be LESS glaring than people thought.
Can I get a little love for Jason Bay? Is Holliday really going to get more money on the FA market?
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
Too soon to say. But here's one big difference: Holliday is a Scott Boras client who is guaranteed to test the market. Bay isn't as likely to look for the most dollars and the most years. If he can stay in Boston for a fair contract, I think he would. So what will Holliday get out there? Depends on how the year goes from here. He'll need to look a lot better to ask for $20M a year. Let's put it that way.
Ben (Tempe, AZ)
It concerns me that you mention the Reds young players adn no one else in the division having that. I believe thats all the Brewers really have is a young CORE group of players. With more players waiting in the minors!
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
Excellent point. I wonder if they're going to be able to keep Fielder, and I could see Hardy being moved to make room for Escobar. But you're right. I shouldn't be overlooking them. My bad.
Adam (Chattanooga, TN)
The computer system has predicted that the Dodgers will only lose three less games due to Manny's absence. Do you believe that is an accurate number?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
The computer never lies! OK, sometimes it does. But I still think the Dodgers will win that division, if that's what you're asking. I just don't see any other team that's better than they are, Manny or no Manny.
Do you see Girardi's job being in jeopardy at all this season?
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
During the season? No. Not unless there's some sort of major cliff dive. But after the season? If this team misses the playoffs again, anybody and everybody could be a culprit.
Brad (St. Louis)
Is Votto one of the top 1B in NL now with room to grow?
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Absolutely. He's not quite up there yet with Pujols, Howard or Gonzalez. But he's already in that next tier for me. And he sets the bar so high, I think he aspires to be great, which is half the battle for a guy that talented.
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Well, it's time for that fabled one-more-question warning. We're just about at the finish line. Let's take one more.
mike via mobile [via mobile]
do you think griffey will have a productive season?
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
I hate to say this, because I have so much respect for this guy's career -- but no. He really doesn't hit good pitching anymore. He struggles against lefthanders. And he's gone way backward defensively. I think his return to Seattle is a great story. But I don't think he's headed for a great season. I'm just glad he's in a place where they've seen him be great.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. Excellent topics, as always. See you all next week.