Chat with Jayson Stark
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com senior MLB writer Jayson Stark will drop in to chat about the MLB season.
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 Stark Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:01 PM)
Hi everyone. Before we get going today, I need to announce in advance I only have a half-hour or so available today. Sorry. In the meantime, we're getting near the finish line. But for some of these teams, it's actually the starting line. So . . . let's get started.
If the Braves don't trade any of their starters..how will they upgrade the offense. They wouldn't have the funds to get a legit power bat, and they don't have anything to trade for one. And please don't tell me their gonna rely on signing LaRoche as their upgrade.
Jayson Stark (1:03 PM)
It's funny. I've already got a bunch of Braves questions lined up. Who knew! Well, I do expect them to sign LaRoche. And Tim Hudson, too. But remember, they've contended this year with this group, and Chipper having a horrible year by his standards. Plus, Jason Heyward isn't far over the horizon. I had a scout tell me a few weeks ago, "I saw the guy who's going to be the best player in baseball for the next 10 years -- and it's Jason Heyward." How's that for some hope!
Nick (Nashville, TN)
Your take on the NL wild-card......Rockies or Braves? Considering their opponents.
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
I admire the Braves for plugging away. And having seven games against the Nationals makes them a definite threat to sneak in there. But when you have no head-to-head games, that's big trouble. The Braves have no margin for error. The Rockies are at home. I'd be stunned if the Rockies don't hang on.
Buchholz or Joba?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
Boy, it's hard to be bullish on Joba right now. The Yankees have just about openly challenged him to get his act together and (it's hard to believe I'm actually about to type this) out-pitch Chad Gaudin down the stretch if he wants a postseason start. Plus Buchholz has gotten better and better as he's gotten settled in and more confident. So I'm taking him. Your thoughts?
Where does Verlander figure into the Cy Young picture? 3rd place finish? He leads the AL in K's and IP, and is up there in W and ERA...
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
I think he needs to be seriously considered by anybody with a ballot. He's not a top-two candidate, ahead of Greinke and King Felix. But he's in there for that No. 3 spot, with CC, Roy Halladay, Mariano Rivera, etc. I put a lot of weight in guys who are willing to throw those extra innings and extra pitches, and sacrifice their ERAs because their teams need them. And no one has done that more than Justin Verlander this year.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Follow up on the first question. If the Braves resign Hudson, where does that leave Kawakami and how would that effect the Braves in acquiring players from the Asian market/
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
Well, I have a friend who says his No. 1 baseball adage is this: Any time you think you have enough pitching, add more. And I think that will guide the Braves. After what they've been through in recent years, they can't ever think they have enough starters. I see Kawakami heading for the bullpen unless they get blown away by an offer that includes a premium bat -- for either him or Javy Vazquez. But at the moment, I'd bet against them trading either of them.
As a cards fan I'm thinking our biggest obstacle right now is a somewhat shaky closer? Are there other things I should be worried about?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
I can't think of any other major question about the Cardinals heading into October. Ryan Franklin has had an incredible year with less-than-incredible stuff. But he's never had this much weight on him in October, after a season in which he's been relied on this heavily. How he handles it could determine how far the Cardinals go.
The knock on some MVP candidates is that, despite eye-popping numbers, they couldn't lead their team to the postseason. Joe Mauer has probably put up numbers to get him over that hurdle even if the Twins don't overtake the Tigers, but do you see any value in ever changing the award to most OUTSTANDING player to overcome the pigheadedness of some MVP voters?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
Why? I like the debates the current name provokes. In Joe Mauer's case, his numbers and his value have become pretty much one and the same. But if the Twins hadn't had this amazing September and they'd slid out of the race, I'd have loved debating Mauer versus Jeter, or Teixeira, or Cabrera. It makes the game more fun. And I'm all for fun!
Who should the Yankees be worried about facing in the first round of the playoffs? I think the Tigers starters might present a problem for the Yankees hitters, especially come October when the Yankees are known for tanking.
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
I wrote about this in Rumblings this week. I can understand why the Yankees would pick the first-round series with the extra day off so they can only use three starters. But one problem: It plays right into the Tigers' hands. If the Tigers can pitch Verlander and Jackson four times, they're capable of beating anybody.
Possibility of the Cubs trading Milton Bradely to Texas for Michael Young? What about Bradely to Detroit for Maglio Ordonez?
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
Michael Young? He's practically the MVP of that team. Not a chance of that. But Magglio is another story. I see the Cubs trying to make a list of players with bad contracts or other issues that would inspire those teams to think about trading their problem for the Cubs' problem. Magglio is one possibility, I'd guess. I listed some others in Rumblings: Eric Byrnes, Pat Burrell, Bronson Arroyo. Oliver Perez would qualify. That's the kind of deal I see the Cubs making.
Hey Jason, You wrote yesterday that the phils should give up on Lidge. But I worry about the close knit bullpen and their chemistry with eachother. Granted they all kind of stink right now...but don't you worry that giving up on Lidge could create tension between the bullpen and the team?
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
I didn't say they should lock him in the trainer's room and throw away the key. I just said they need to do something different than what they've been doing, because it's clear now this guy isn't fixable -- not this year. He's afraid to throw a strike! Any kind of strike. Tells you all you need to know. October is not a time for sentiment or feelings. The only thing that matters is: Win tonight. Win every night. And I think Charlie Manuel is ready to approach this situation exactly this way.
How do you feel about Elvis Andrus's chances for ROY? Do the voters every really consider defense for any of these awards?
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
You know, I overlooked Elvis on my list of first-half ROY candidates at the break. And I was dead wrong about that. I've heard scouts actually compare him with Ozzie Smith defensively, and that's all I need to know. Glovework won't win anybody a Rookie of the Year award. But a guy who has meant that much, every day, to a contending team deserves to be in this argument.
Can you expand on the "Yankees choosing the off day in their series"? Does the team with the best record get to choose whether they want an off day during their 1st round series? Thanks.
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
The American League team with the best record gets to choose which series it prefers this year -- the series that goes Wed-Fri-Sun-Mon-Wed, or the series that goes Thur-Fri-Sun-Mon-Wed. If you pick the first series, it means you only need three starters. There are strong indications that's how the Yankees are leaning. I wonder if a big effort by Joba tonight against the Red Sox could change their minds.
SteveFitz (Cicero, IL)
Michael Young was a little ridiculous, but let's stay with Texas for a second. How about Bradley for Millwood?
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Absolutely another name on the table.
Why are the Rockies falling apart? Is it true by them ignoring the pressure, it could in fact be getting to them. It is kind of like the big elephant in the room, the more they ignore it, the more pressure builds.
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
I don't think they're "falling apart." But they've stopped hitting. That's their biggest issue. They've had a couple of games in the last week where they've busted out. But they've only had one other game since Sept. 2 where they've scored more than five runs. Also seeing some bullpen wear and tear. I still think they'll hang on. But they haven't hit for three weeks now.
Milton Bradley has been a problem everywere he has played why would any team trade for him
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
Check the numbers. Milton has a higher career OBP than Johnny Damon or Grady Sizemore. He has a higher career OPS than Michael Young or Ichiro. He can hit. If the price is right and the market is right, they'll find someone to take him.
Chris (Denver) [via mobile]
Why is buster posey up with the giants but not getting any playing time?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
He's 22 years old. This was just to get him a taste of big-league life. It was never in the cards for him to get any extensive playing time. If the Giants get eliminated, I think you'll see him start a couple of games. But not before then. Bengie Molina means too much to that team and to that staff.
Hi Jayson- do you think the Braves stay in house to replace Cox after 2010? if they do, do you think they'll name a successor prior to him leaving?
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
I don't think they've seriously contemplated that question yet. But I'd bet they'd hire someone with Braves ties. They're all about stability in that organization.
Keary (Brooklyn, NY)
Hi Jayson: Wild Thing Mitch claimed in MLB network last week that the only reason the Cards picked up Smoltz was insurance for Franklin, that his starts were only to build up arm strength. You buying?
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
I think he's mostly right. Their intention was always to have him available as a bullpen weapon in October, but not necessarily as a closer. When they got him, Franklin had the best closer ERA in the league. And Smoltz hadn't given them, or anyone else, evidence that he could pitch out of the 'pen on back-to-back days. Now, with Lohse iffy, it's hard to say what kind of role he'll have in October.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
I apologize for the short chat this week, but I'm afraid I only have time for one more.
How much should ROY voters take intp consideration the fact that Porcello is 5-2 with a 3.3 ERA since Aug. 1st? He's the only AL canidate in a playoff race right now.
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
It all figures in. But I think in the past, voters have always weighted strong finishes heavily. So I think it helps his candidacy quite a bit. We've seen those Ricky Romeros out there start to fade, while Porcello seems like he's only gotten better. Tough call!
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
Thanks to everyone who participated. Great topics, as always. Seeya down the road in Chat Land.