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 (1:02 PM)
Hi, guys... I'll be there in a few minutes... Just finishing up a call.
Robert (St. Louis)
What NL team best matches up with the Yankees if the Yankees make it to the World Series?
Buster Olney (1:11 PM)
Robert: I think the Cardinals do -- excellent front-end of the rotation, good bullpen, deep lineup, and La Russa has some DH options. I picked the Cardinals/Yankees in the World Series in the selections I turned in last night. (To be clear: Before the season, I had Rays/Phillies...)
What do you think the Braves will do with their surplus of pitching. Will they trade someone for a bat? And if so, who do you think is the most likely to go? Thanks!
Buster Olney (1:13 PM)
Ryan: They've got a lot of options because of their depth in starting pitching, but I'm not sure one will materialize that they really like. Can't see anybody taking Lowe's contract off their hands; they'd like to keep Hudson; it would be hard to trade Vazquez, given how good he was. And they almost certainly don't want to trade Jurrjens or Hanson because they're both so young (and cheap). I'm not sure how much value Kawakami would have. But the expectation among other GMs is that one way or another, they will get a big-time right-handed bat.
Well, the first topic of course has to be this whole Miguel Cabrera fiasco. I don't even know what to say. Your thoughts?
Buster Olney (1:15 PM)
Ryan: I only know (about the incident) what I read on the wire at this point, but I'm sure the Tigers aren't happy about it. Cabrera is going to have 1,000 reporters trailing him before the game Tuesday, which isn't exactly ideal for someone getting ready for the biggest game of the season. But at this point: It is what it is, and they will have to deal with it. The Tigers will have a lot to overcome on Tuesday, for sure.
Scott (Bristol, CT)
What sort of chance do you give Rick Porcello and the Tigers on Tuesday in the Metrodome?
Buster Olney (1:18 PM)
Scott: The Twins have to be heavy favorites, because of the Metrodome home field advantage, because of the way the last four days have played out, etc. And Porcello is 0-2, 6.30 in the 'dome so far. But I was thinking about this the other day: Porcello really reminds me of Bret Saberhagen, with his nasty stuff, and maybe he's just young enough that that huge crowd and situation won't bother him at all. Look, everything changes in a hurry if Baker hangs an off-speed pitch in the first inning and Granderson goes deep. It's the nature of the sport.
Mike (Phoenix, AZ)
Admit it...you left the Twins for dead weeks ago...when will you so called experts stop dismissing the Minnesota nine? On second thought, please say they don't stand a chance against the rest of this week against Detroit and Joe Mauer's future team (not). Go Twins!!
Buster Olney (1:20 PM)
Mike: I picked the Twins to win the AL Central this year, and I wrote when the White Sox traded Thome that this made no sense because the Tigers were a catchable team. So no, I'm not sure if I qualify on your Diss Meter.
Who's your pick this week to win the WS? ;)
Buster Olney (1:22 PM)
Mel: I hear you. Personally, I'd like to make one pick and stick to it all year, but folks ask a lot in these chats for predictions, and this late in the year, you gotta feed the beast. I've got the Yankees winning the WS over the Cardinals. (And for the record: I had the Yankees out of the playoffs before the year started... My AL picks were Tampa Bay, Boston, Minnesota and the Angels, and my NL picks were Philly, the Cubs, Cardinals and Dodgers)
Steve (Hopkinton, MA)
What do you think of the plan to have Molina catch AJ in the playoffs?
Buster Olney (1:23 PM)
Steve: Not surprising. I think Burnett is going to be the barometer for what the Yankees do (or don't do) in the post-season, and they need him to be excellent -- and it's clear that he is just more comfortable with Molina, to the point where pitching to Posada distracts him. So Girardi, a former catcher who was known for his empathy for pitchers, is going to do what makes one of his starting pitchers feel most comfortable.
How would you rate the job Andy McPhal is doing in Baltimore and when can we expect to see some of the young prospects he traded for and drafted to come thru like the Rays did?
Buster Olney (1:24 PM)
Ben: Excellent, so far. They're still miles behind the other powers in the East, but they're gaining ground.
Prince Fielder and either Angel Salome or Jonathan LuCroy for Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey? Who says no first?
Buster Olney (1:25 PM)
John: There's no way the Giants would trade both of those cheap A-plus prospects, no matter how good Fielder is. So I'd say the Giants would say 'no' first. (And I'd guess that Doug Melvin might leap for that trade, or some form of it...)
I just wanted to congratulate the AL Central for embarrassing baseball with an 86 win champion.
Buster Olney (1:26 PM)
George: C'mon, it's not that bad. Although the Yankees will be enormous favorites to win the first round, no matter who wins Tuesday.
MIKE (TAMPA, FL)
Hey Buster, Do you happen to know the Yankees' deadline for choosing which series they will play? Thanks!
Buster Olney (1:26 PM)
Mike: within an hour after the Twins/Tigers game.
Thoughts on the A's for next season?
Buster Olney (1:28 PM)
KC: They're making progress. How far they go will depend a whole lot, to me, on Trevor Cahill. If he progresses quickly, he and Anderson could be Mulder/Hudson for this team... Of course, they need a veteran bat or two...
Jennifer (West Chester)
I keep hearing that the Rockies will sweep the Phillies like last time. Would you explain to everyone that they are completely different teams from two years ago?
Buster Olney (1:29 PM)
Jennifer: Hmmm. I picked the Phillies to win, but I must say, I find that series a complete toss-up. The Rockies have the better bullpen, the Phillies have that great and experienced lineup, and the Phillies might have the better rotation -- depending on what Aaron Cook brings to the table. I could argue that one either way.
Onan (Atlanta, GA)
Buster... if the Mets decide to go with Pagan in LF and Delgado at 1st... will their offense be contender worthy? This is assuming they use the saved money to reinforce the rotation.
Buster Olney (1:30 PM)
Onan: Unless they spend HUGE dollars, I don't know how they'll contend next year. They need someone like a Bay, and someone like a Lackey -- but I just have doubts about whether they'll actually spend that kind of cash. Internally, the expectation is that they won't spend a lot of money -- but hey, maybe the Wilpons will change course.
Buster, Yanks are 5-1 over the tigers and7-0 over the Twins, but most of the Twins wins were walk off variety, that should have been 4-3 really... also with Ordonez picking upand Verlander primed for a good October... the ALDS will be close... and can you reverse jinx and pick against the Yanks please.
Buster Olney (1:31 PM)
Nathan: Sorry, I apologize, already turned in my picks. The Yankees are now subject to the same jinx that took down the Indians in 2007 and 2008, and the Rays this year...
Haha. Just teasing. You're a good sport. Love your stuff.
Buster Olney (1:33 PM)
Mel: Thanks -- no, no, I understand -- tease away. Took it the way you meant it. I kind of view the prediction stuff as just good fun, anyway... No matter what happens, there is only one sure thing: We are going to be surprised by something.
Don (Jamesville, NY)
Who do you think will be the biggest name traded this off season?
Buster Olney (1:34 PM)
Don: Roy Halladay. The new GM in Toronto gets the Billy Smith Award for the toughest first assignment -- just as Billy Smith was left to do the dirty business of trading Johan Santana after the 2007 season, now Alex has to be the guy to come in and trade Halladay, in his first months on the job.
Geoff (Rochester, NY)
Buster, any idea what type of budget the new Blue Jays GM will have next season. I know Vernon's contract is an anchor for this franchise, but they could really use another veteran bat to support Lind & Hill next year. Thks,
Buster Olney (1:34 PM)
Geoff: I think their budget will be at about $55 million-$65 million.
Joseph (San Diego)
As a pads fan do I ahve something to be excited about next year?
Buster Olney (1:37 PM)
Joseph: No question about it -- you should be excited. My own view is that Jeff Moorad made a mistake in firing Kevin Towers, but no matter -- moving forward, Towers has left a clean slate from which the Padres can advance. They have outstanding payroll flexibility, some good pitching in place, and presumably, they are going to spend money heavily on player development. I don't think I'd pick 'em to win the NL West next season, but I think they'll be in the mix all summer.
I may have missed it but who ya got winning on tues. Twins or Tigers? which one matches up VS Yankees best?
Buster Olney (1:38 PM)
Joey: I think the Twins will win. Story in the Minny paper today is that the team already has sold over 50,000 tickets. The Metrodome can provide a huge homefield advantage, without question.
Joseph (San Diego)
What was the real reason Towers was fired? And will he get another job soon?
Buster Olney (1:40 PM)
Joseph: Money. Towers was one of the highest paid GMs in the game, and it sounds as if Moorad wanted his GM to make less. Plus, the Padres' player development has not been good (although it's hard to put that on Towers, given the fact that San Diego didn't veer beyond the Commissioner's signing guidelines. For example: If it had been left up to the team's baseball operations, and the decision was based on talent and not money, then Justin Verlander would be pitching for San Diego now...)
So minny wins does that clinch the MVP for Mauer? who is ur cy young?Grienke? Verlander? C.C. or Felix?
Buster Olney (1:41 PM)
Joey: I've got Mauer, Pujols, Greinke and Lincecum for the four major awards. To me, Pujols and Mauer should be unanimous -- but with the Cy Youngs, you could make great cases for Carpenter and Wainwright, as well, and you could make a great case for Felix Hernandez.
Hey Buster: You said you believe Doc will be traded. Where will he end up?
Buster Olney (1:42 PM)
Alex: Too soon to say, but I do think the Jays are going to get much, much less than what anybody thinks, just as the Twins got less than what everybody expected for Santana. That's why the Jays should have traded him in July; his value has been cut by 30-40 percent since then, because he'll impact only one pennant race, and not two.
Pelfrey and FMart for Halladay? Realistic?
Buster Olney (1:44 PM)
George: Keep in mind, Halladay will control the process, to a large degree, so whether or not the Mets have a shot at getting him might be dependent on what he really thinks about their chances for winning. But it would be fun to see he and Santana in the same rotation (unless you were an NL hitter, anyway).
Greg (Arlington, VA)
Should Jim Riggleman be retained in Washington? Looked like the Nats played hard for him
Buster Olney (1:45 PM)
Greg: I agree, I thought they played hard. And I think the Nationals' ownership will look for a bigger name.
Are the Angels being overlooked this post season?
Buster Olney (1:47 PM)
Mike: Not necessarily. Let's face it, every team has major questions -- and with the Angels, the first thing I'm hearing from a bunch of talent evaluators is this question: Do they have the bullpen to win in October? If Santana steps into that eighth inning role and is dominant, they might be fine. If he has a problem, and if Jepsen struggles, I don't know how they'd be good enough to win. The Braves of the '90s showed time and again that you need a bullpen to win in the post-season in this era.
steve g (nyc)
What do you think would be more important to Toronto. Trading Holiday for 3 top propects or trading Veron Wells and Holiday for 1 top prospect and 3 to 4 second tier prospects.
Buster Olney (1:48 PM)
Steve: Nobody will take Wells's deal, I'd venture to say. He, Soriano and Zito have the three most untradeable contracts.
Hey Omar, here's how you fix the Mets: trade Reyes, Parnell, Murphy and another prospect for Halladay and sign Marco Scutaro to replace Reyes. Then trade Bradley for Perez and you have your outfield bat. Re-sign Delgado to platoon with Davis and you're set!!! Ideas?
Buster Olney (1:48 PM)
Andres: If I were you, I'd address that to Jeff Wilpon. He is the man pulling the personnel strings on the Mets' baseball ops.
Charlie (Bored at work)
If the Dodgers fail to advance in the first round, what do they need to address in the offseason?
Buster Olney (1:49 PM)
charlie: They need to figure out Billingsley. A bunch of guys with other teams don't think he can last very long because of the violence in his delivery. If the Dodgers privately feel the same way, well, they need to go out and get a legit No. 1 or No. 2 starter (Maybe Halladay goes there...)
Bubba Brown (Roy, UT)
I think Jair Jurrjens is incredibly underrated. He was very good last year as a 22 year old rookie and he was flat out terrific this year. He's an ace, but I don't get the feeling that he's recognized as one. Thoughts?
Buster Olney (1:50 PM)
Bubba: Totally agree. Thought he and Vazquez basically flew under the radar this year...
Alex (Las Vegas)
Buster you bring up a good point, but being an angels fan and watching them all year, their bullpen has been solid ever since June 12 Jepsen, Bulger have been solid, Fuentes has had little bumps in the road but has been solid since that controversial Red Sox game. What do you think of their chances going foward?
Buster Olney (1:53 PM)
Alex: I hear you. Bulger came out of the game the other day with a sore shoulder, Fuentes has not pitched well in Fenway, Jepsen is seen by scouts as lacking confidence in his fastball, and they think he'll have a difficult time facing veteran hitters in October who have the patience to wait him out. But to repeat: Every team has a major issue. For the Yankees, Burnett is very Jekyll and Hyde. The Red Sox catchers can't throw anybody out. The Twins or Tigers will have no opportunity to set up their rotations. Scouts wonder if Ryan Franklin will be able to close games in October. Brad Lidge is a huge question mark. The Dodgers' rotation is a major puzzle. The Rockies may or may not get what they need from Aaron Cook and Jason Marquis. This is why the playoffs are so great...
Josh (Newark DE)
Where do you think Joba Chamberlain's role should be in the postseason? If he is in the bullpen, who is the 4th/5th guy should the Yankees make the ALCS?
Buster Olney (1:54 PM)
Josh: If I were the Yankees, I'd start Gaudin in the Game 4s in the second and third rounds (if they get that far), and I'd move Joba to the bullpen for October. He seems to thrive there, and right now, seems much more comfortable there than in the rotation. This way, the Yankees can have a shut-down bullpen.
Kevin (New York)
Buster, you said in this chat the Mets won't spend in free agency. Jeff Wilpon and Minaya reportedly met with reporters today and seem to say they would be major players in free agency. What's the truth here?
Buster Olney (1:56 PM)
Kevin: We'll see. If they get really serious about Lackey, they probably can win the bidding. We'll see how serious they are.
I know Mauer is the MVP, but how about some good words for the work done my Cuddyer, Kubel and even Delmon Young in this last month? Cuddyer in particular has carried this team.
Buster Olney (1:58 PM)
Mike: I talked to Carl Pavano last night and he said that he is asked all the time about whether there are similarities between the '03 Marlins and the '09 Twins, and he said that while he generally viewed them as different, in their composition, there was one very distinct similarity -- in his eyes, Michael Cuddyer IS EXACTLY LIKE Jeff Conine in 2003. A veteran guy who is the leader of the team and always, always, always seems to deliver the big hit. He certainly has gotten some big hits over the last month.
David (New York, NY)
Buster -- You'd agree about Jurrjens being an ace? Being a HUGE Braves fan, I love him, and think that he's deserving of at least some Cy Young voting, but if Vazquez was traded this offseason, I kinda feel that JJ would almost be a de facto ace. Sure, his ERA is below 3, but I feel like his K/BB ratio isn't quite what an ace should be. I'd say, at this point, #2 starter, but can still turn into an ace. Your thoughts?
Buster Olney (1:59 PM)
David: I know they need a bat, but as good as Vazquez was this year -- and as good as the Braves might be in '10, I'd have a really, really, really hard time trading him. The Braves want to win in 2010, and unless they're getting back somebody really, really, really good in a trade, I'm not sure how they make themselves better by trading Vazquez.
Would love Lackey in Mets uni but will the Yanks get involved? If Joba does well in the pen in the playoffs won't they keep him there and go back to FA for the rotation?
Buster Olney (2:00 PM)
George: I very seriously doubt the Yankees will get in on Lackey. They're probably going to be much, much less involved in the FA market this winter than last.
Which team in your opinion has the best bullpen heading into the playoffs?
Buster Olney (2:01 PM)
Seymour: The Dodgers. with that, folks, my time is up. Thanks for all the great questions -- I'll be back in this spot in two weeks, it appears. Have fun...