Chat with Buster Olney
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN The Magazine MLB writer Buster Olney will stop by to take your questions on your favorite team, favorite players and all the latest news on and off the field!
Buster Olney is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. A baseball reporter since 1989, Olney has covered the Padres, Orioles, Mets and Yankees. Olney, a bestselling author, joined ESPN The Magazine in 2003, after six years at The New York Times.
Send your questions now and join Olney Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buster Olney (1:00 PM)
Hey, folks, hope all is well... Two weeks to go, and maybe we'll have a pennant race somewhere -- or maybe not. But I like the fact that most/all of the playoff teams will have a chance to line up and properly rest their starting rotations and rest their bullpens for the post-season; it should make for a fairer fight, in these short series... Let's get to it.
Who ya got in the World Series?
Buster Olney (1:02 PM)
Hi, Jeremy... Let's get this on the record -- before the season, I had the Rays vs. Phillies. A month ago I would've had Yankees vs. Phillies. As of today... I've got Red Sox vs. Cardinals. Boston is putting together its pitching at just the right time, and while Carpenter has been knocked around of late, I still like their No. 1-2, plus a good bullpen, and a deep lineup. But to reiterate, I can't claim any great talent at picking this stuff this year.
What are the chances of Holliday resigning with the Cardinals?
Buster Olney (1:04 PM)
Jeremy: All depends on whether he's willing to come in at their price. I think that if Holliday is looking for a top-of-the-market deal (and that's absolutely his prerogative), the Cardinals won't be the team that gives him that. My own guess right now would be the Angels.
Sean S. (Clarion, PA)
How will the cubs go about their offseason if and when they get rid of Bradley? Who will they go after to replace that spot in the lineup?
Buster Olney (1:07 PM)
Sean: First they have to move the money, and then they have to get some marching orders/budget from the ownership. Pitching should and will be the priority. I wonder (PURE SPECULATION ALERT) if there is some way for them to work out a Millwood-Bradley thing, with the Rangers getting huge salary relief and maybe sending a Grade B-plus prospect. We'll see how much of a money crunch the Rangers are under in the off-season, because of their ownership situation -- and imagine if they could get Bradley for $1-2 million for the next couple of years, and move Millwood's salary (and Millwood's deal for next year should vest), amid concerns about how he'll bounce back. Again, I'm just thinking out loud on that one...
James (Kenosha, Wi)
Do you think due to there always small budget the Marlins will be looking to unload Ricky Nolasco after his poor season?
Buster Olney (1:09 PM)
James: Really, the Marlins should try to work out long-term deals with Nolasco and Josh Johnson, and if they can't, they should at least see what might be out there in trade -- and if they can't get enough, they can just hang on to one or both. That's part of the price of being a small-market team -- you're constantly bailing water and trying to keep ahead of the financial flood.
Buster, look I know the Braves are out of it this year, but can I at least be positive about the great starting pitching, plus McLouth and Heywood for the years to come?
Buster Olney (1:10 PM)
Clay: I don't think it's out of line to sit here today and suggest that the Braves could go into 2010 as a favorite to win the NL East -- you'd probably pick either Philadelphia or Atlanta, as of today.
Trade proposal: Cubs ship Bradley across town along wiht $18mm for a decent prospect. Cubs get rid of their headache and the Sox get a DH for next year. Thoughts ?
Buster Olney (1:13 PM)
Darek: Holy crow -- Ozzie, who says almost everything that pops into his head, serving as the manager for Milton Bradley, who might be the quickest player in history to take offense to anything. Not a good combo. It's a short list of teams that would even consider taking Milton, and I'd guess that you probably could rule out these, among others: the Dodgers, Boston, the Mets, the Yankees, the Rockies, the Rays, Oakland, the Angels, Houston, White Sox, Cleveland, etc., etc., etc. He's running out of possible landing spots.
Brendan (Harrisburg, PA)
Brad Lidge may have the worst historic season for a closer with more than 30 saves. Proof: Record of 0-7, 10 blown saves, an ERA over 7, a WHIP of 1.81, an opponent OPS of .919, and runners are 10 for 11 in successful stolen bases off of him. Any solution?
Buster Olney (1:15 PM)
Brendan: No doubt. And the Phillies now have an injured Brett Myers, an injured Chan Ho Park, problems with Eyre and Romero... It's not exactly the way you'd like to go into the post-season. They've got a good rotation, obviously a terrific lineup... But that bullpen is a mess right now, no doubt, and the Phillies will have the weakest corps of relievers of any of the playoff teams, on paper. As we saw with the '06 Cardinals, however, that can turn around in a hurry.
Dave (San Francisco)
How do the Giants fix the lack of offense this winter? Posey for Molina is a start. Other than that it seems they are going to have to overspend again in the free agent market or trade some pitching for hitting otherwise next season is going to be more of what we saw this year. With a few more hitters, they could be very dangerous. Your thoughts?
Buster Olney (1:16 PM)
Dave: I wrote a thing last week -- If I were the Giants, I'd call the Brewers and talk about a Cain-Fielder swap. Fielder would really be a huge plus for the Giants offensively, and I think they can find enough pitching even without Cain, especially in that ballpark; you can get pitchers to come there.
The only race in the NL right now is for the Cy Young. Who's your guy?
Buster Olney (1:17 PM)
Andy: As of today, I've got Lincecum at No. 1, Carpenter No. 2, Wainright No. 3, but it's very, very fluid...
Jake (VA Beach)
Do you see San Diego revisiting the trade possibilities for A-Gonzo this winter?
Buster Olney (1:18 PM)
Jake: I don't think the Padres will trade Gonzalez. They've played well since the end of July, and internally, they feel like they're turning a corner, and trading Gonzalez would require more rebuilding. They think they can be over .500 next year...
Who got the better end of the lidge trade? Also do you see miggy back with the stros next year?
Buster Olney (1:19 PM)
Josh: The Phillies won a ring, so no matter what Lidge does the rest of this year, and what he and Michael Bourn do in the future, the Phillies would never second-guess themselves for that trade. Ever. That's my sense, anyway -- Phillies fans, please chime in here...
Atlanta the favorite in 2010? Is picking against the Phillies in every situation the new "in thing"...? You liked them a month ago now, but now you've jumped onto the Cards bandwagon after one good month, a month in which the Phillies have also pulled away from a much better division. Im convinced the Phillies could repeat this year and all the talking heads will again say it was a fluke, and then pick them to finish behind the Braves and Mets again in 2010
Buster Olney (1:21 PM)
Eric: I picked them in April to play in the series this year, so I'm not sure where you are coming from on this...
Based on your Padres comment, why would the Brewers trade Fielder after this year? They have him under contract for two more years.
Buster Olney (1:23 PM)
Ben: Because they need a starting pitcher to complement Gallardo, and Cain is a tremendous impact starter (who is also eligible for FA after 2011). Unless they get a frontline starter, they won't contend next season. And they know this: They will not be able to afford Fielder in two years, so they can either trade him now and get value for him, or deal him later for less than his value (or see him walk away after 2011).
What odds do you give the Red Sox in winning the Al East? They are only 4 back in the loss column and play KC, NYY, Tor and Clev, while Yanks have LAA, BOS, KC and TB??
Buster Olney (1:24 PM)
John: Longshot. I hear you on the schedule, but keep in mind that neither Francona nor Girardi is going to alter their planning one bit in order to go for the division title. Francona isn't going to start throwing Lester on three days' rest, and he's not going to pitch Papelbon five days in a row... Both teams are going to be in the playoffs, and the focus of both teams is going to be prepping for the post-season, and not winning the division.
Thoughts on the A's going forward
Buster Olney (1:26 PM)
KC: A lot of terrific young pitching, and as we have seen time after time after time, this is the way you progress quickly if you are a small-market team. But they do have major holes to fill among their position players. I'm curious to see how good Brett Wallace will be right out of the gate in the majors next year.
Jeff (Boston, MA)
Hi Buster, there are rumors that the Red Sox will be aggressively pursuing Felix Hernandez in the offseason (and reports that they tried to do so before the trading deadline as well). What does it take to get that done if it could be done at all?
Buster Olney (1:27 PM)
Jeff: Wouldn't surprise me if they asked (and a lot of teams would be interested), and this might be the only way they'd entertain a trade of Buchholz. But rival execs think that Boston will be more reluctant this off-season to trade prospects, after giving up arms in other trades (like in the Victor Martinez deal). My guess is that in the end, nobody will give the Mariners what they will require to swap King Felix. We'll see...
Owen (Berkeley, CA)
Do you think with health, and a legit bat and arm picked up in the OS, the Mets can be actual contenders (as opposed to contenders only on paper) next year?
Buster Olney (1:29 PM)
Owen: First off, if injuries hit the Phillies, Braves and Marlins, that would close the gap between those teams and the Mets, and sure, the Mets could contend. But my question would be this: If the Mets are going to get better, how can they do it if they won't spend big dollars (and rival GMs expect they will pare back) or trade prospects (their farm system is regarded as one of the worst in the majors)?
Carlos (Los Angeles)
Buster, Any chance Either or Broxton get some votes for MVP or Cy Young?
Buster Olney (1:30 PM)
Carlos: I'd expect that both guys will get votes at the end of the ballot... Maybe Broxton will get a third-place vote or two, and Ethier will land on some MVP ballots in the 8-10 range... (For those who aren't aware -- Voters for the MVP submit a Top 10).
brett (louisville) [via mobile]
will cincinnati be a contender any time soon? or make a blockbuster deal? thanks
Buster Olney (1:33 PM)
Brett: Just before I started this chat, I got off the phone with an evaluator who thinks that right now, among NL teams, the Reds might be the farthest away from contending. I'm not sure that I disagree... It's amazing that next year, these four players are lined up to account for about 60 percent of their payroll (if they keep it in place) -- Scott Rolen, Francisco Cordero, Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang. There is not a lot of future there, and Volquez is probably not going to pitch again until late next season or 2011.
Ryan (Astoria, NY)
What's your take on the Yankees handling of Joba?
Buster Olney (1:34 PM)
Ryan: I think it has nothing to do with why Joba has struggled. I think that has a lot more to do with his lost velocity... which he could help with a different approach.
Evan (Syracuse, NY)
Jason Bay or Matt Holliday?
Buster Olney (1:36 PM)
Evan: Easy call for me -- Holliday, because he's younger and he's a better outfielder. Some defensive metrics indicate Bay is either worse or on the par with Adam Dunn as an outfielder.
Nora (St. Louis)
Carpenter has given up 4 or more runs in a start only once. Lincecum has done that five times. I know Lincecum strikes everyone out, but Carp's only really had the one bad start. He's been so good so consistently.
Buster Olney (1:37 PM)
Nora: And Carpenter has made fewer starts, too, because of that early-season injury. But believe me, I'm not saying there is a clear-cut choice... If Carpenter throws well in his last couple of outings, and Lincecum has another stinker, I think Carpenter will win. If Lincecum and Carpenter labor the next two times out and Wainwright throws well and finishes with 20 wins, I think that'll really help Wainwright's chances. Total toss-up right now.
Craig (Lindsay, ON)
To follow up on Joba. As a Yankee fan i want him to succeed. But at some point don't they have to realize that A) he isn't the starter they think he is, B) put him back in the pen because a dominant 7th or 8th inning guy is better than a .500 started with a 4.75 ERA, and C) time to take the kid gloves off and let him pitch.
Buster Olney (1:38 PM)
Craig: I think if they put him back in the bullpen, he would continue to struggle. He just isn't throwing 98 mph any more... and on most days, he's not even sniffing that. He just doesn't have that overpowering stuff right now.
CINN violated the key rule - no 6 players more than 50% of the budget - and you better make sure that they're good. For instance, Carpenter, Wainright, Pulos and Holliday are probably the only 4 guys who should be 50% (not 60%) of a budget. In that case, you couldn't pay them more than $40-45M, which won't get the deal done.
Buster Olney (1:39 PM)
Greg -- a lot of GMs operate under the premise that you mentioned...
So what do the Cubs do going forward about RF next year? Do they go out and trade for someone or stay in house?
Buster Olney (1:41 PM)
Alex: If I were running the Cubs (and lord knows they don't need that), I'd stick Fukudome and Johnson in right field and go get a legitimate CF, or get Carl Crawford and move him to CF. That would make the pitching and defense better. They need to get more athletic ASAP.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Any love for Ron Gardenhire as AL Manager of the Year?
Buster Olney (1:42 PM)
Craig G.: I hear you, but I think Scioscia will win it, because of how the team bounced back from pitching injuries and the horrible tragedy of Nick Adenhart's death.
dave (erie pa)
Buster, there are alot of reports that the jays sent money to the reds to cover alot of rolens salary for next year. Possibly making him closer to costing 6 million then 11 million next year. If this is true how much does it change your outlook on their situation?
Buster Olney (1:43 PM)
Dave -- What I was told was that the Jays picked up Rolen's salary for the rest of 2009, but that the Reds are responsible for all of 2010. Now, I haven't doubled back and re-asked that question, but I was told emphatically at the deadline that this is what will happen.
Tom (Horsham, PA)
Place the following current members of the 500 HR club in order of Hall of Fame likelihood, most to least: Griffey, A-Rod, Thome, Manny, Sheffield. Will they all make it?
Buster Olney (1:46 PM)
Tom: Griffey and Thome will get into the Hall, and I don't think A-Rod, Manny or Sheff will get in, because of the PED links... I'll almost certainly going for all five -- Manny might be a bit of a different case, because he was suspended for 50 games -- but I think there is a core of voters who will never vote for the PED guys, and this will keep out A-Rod, Manny and Sheff...
Does a Milton Bradley for Gil Meche swap make sense? KC is a low pressure environment for Milton and the Cubs could provide salary relief by taking on the last 2 years of Meche's contract.
Buster Olney (1:47 PM)
Tim: Absolutely not. Trey Hillman will go into next year needing a strong season, and the last thing in the world he will need or want is, as Eric Wedge referred to Milton, "a player who will get a manager fired."
In your purely speculative trade scenario with the Rangers, why would the Cubs ever consider this? Millwood is old, over-paid and would likely be a 5th starter in the Cubs rotation, if they are going to pay 90% of Bradley's salary they are not going to take a big deal in return unless it is a useful player. Am I missing something?
Buster Olney (1:49 PM)
Tim: Maybe they'd like having Millwood on a one-year deal, for say, $5 million, after they go through the give-and-take of which team eats what. The Cubs already have to know that they're going to take a bath on the Milton thing, and a bad contract for bad contract is the best that they will do.
I'm late on the Bourn/Lidge discussion, but yes, a world series trumps all else, and the Phillies draft 3 michael bourns each year and have several of them in the system.
Buster Olney (1:50 PM)
Matt: Thanks for chiming in... I figured...
Kevin (Philly, PA)
No matter what Lidge does from here on out, the ring made it all worth it...especially since he was perfect last year. Houston got some players but our outfield situation is looking pretty good right now.
Buster Olney (1:50 PM)
Kevin: You, too...
Andy (Columbus, OH)
Buster, care to elaborate more about the Reds being the farthest from contention? I understand the financial constraints. However, they have a good, solid young nucleus with Rolen being a huge upgrade over EE, Stubbs coming into his own is obviously better than Taveras, and Homer Bailey has looked like the top prospect so many thought he was. I think the biggest concern is Bruce. If he bounces back, I don?t see why they can?t contend. The pitching still needs some work, but the bullpen and defense has been much improved. With some prospects knocking on the door (mostly Alonso, Wood, Heisey, and Frazier), I don?t see why they are the farthest in the NL. Thanks.
Buster Olney (1:52 PM)
Andy: I'd have a hard time assuming that Rolen, at age 35, is going to stay healthy, especially given his injury history, and from what I understand, they already have made it know they'd like to move Cordero. They're not a good team, and they don't have a lot of ways to get better in a hurry.
Scott (Boston, MA)
Twins or Tigers? Caveat, if the Twins make the playoffs, does that Cement Joe Mauer as the AL MVP? Is he already a shoe-in?
Buster Olney (1:53 PM)
Scott: I think Mauer is a near-lock for MVP, at this point. He's a catcher having a monster year, while keeping a small-market team in contention.
James (Amherst, MA)
Buster: Why haven't the Red Sox and Jason Bay come to a contract resolution yet?
Buster Olney (1:54 PM)
James: The gap between what Bay wanted and what the Red Sox were willing to pay was enormous. Maybe they can thread the needle, maybe not. I've had some folks on the union side of things say they expect a very, very cold winter for FAs this year, so anybody looking for a $100 million deal is probably going to be stunned by the offers. My guess is that Bay will be very fortunate to get $60 million, and is more likely to get around $50 million.
Any reasons for the Rangers huge slump?
Buster Olney (1:56 PM)
Paul: They stopped hitting, and Holland and Millwood simply stopped performing at the level where they were at... The Rangers had a very fragile equation for success this year, and when a couple of things went wrong, well, it just wasn't going to work out.
Buster whats your take on Buster Posey is he gonna be the Joe Mauer of the NL like some scouts have said
Buster Olney (1:57 PM)
Tim: It's hard to imagine he'll hit for the same kind of average as Mauer, but he probably will hit for more power, at the outset of his career -- and everybody raves about his personality and his willingness to work with pitchers. He's probably going to be great for a long time...
Ryan (Astoria, NY)
You mentioned earlier how Girardi and Francona won't alter their managing to try for the division. While I agree they won't, I think you're understating the importance of winning the division. The division winner gets home field against either the Twins or Tigers, while the wildcard has to go on the road to Anaheim, which is a much tougher road.
Buster Olney (1:59 PM)
Ryan: OK. And Francona and Girardi both probably recognize that. But they won't alter their post-season planning in order to try to make that happen... the risk/reward is just too low. We've seen how managers handle this kind of situation in the past, and they always choose the rest/alignment route over trying to win the division.
Adam (Madison, WI)
MLBtradrumors suggested a possible Oliver Perez for Milton Bradley swap? I know Bradley might not be great in NYC, but he could possible be a fit with Jerry Manuel, right?
Buster Olney (2:01 PM)
Adam: I seriously doubt the Mets would bring Milton Bradley into their clubhouse, and draw him into a situation with the NY media, at a time when the manager will be managing for his job, and at a time when the GM will be on the hot seat. That makes zero sense.With that, folks, my time is up. Thanks for all the great questions -- we'll be back at it next week.