Chat with Buster Olney
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buster Olney (1:01 PM)
Hi, folks, hope all is well... Another great day in this postseason -- incredible stuff. Let's get to it.
DO you think the Dodgers have any chance of winning game 5?
Buster Olney (1:03 PM)
Ricardo: Sure they do. Vicente Padilla has great stuff, as we saw in Game 2, and Cole Hamels has been erratic, so perhaps the Dodgers could put up a few runs early and then climb back into it. But I don't think they will -- and that look on Broxton's face after the game could not have been heartening to Joe Torre. It was striking how Joe went out to the mound in the middle of the Phillies' ninth-inning rally to speak to Broxton directly -- it was as if he was saying, "Hey, c'mon now, buck up here." It was the type of visit no mananger wants to make to a closer.
Scott (Missoula, MT)
Who are the Blue Jays looking at for their GM position?
Buster Olney (1:05 PM)
Scott: They've picked him -- Alex Anthopoulos, who was an assistant to J.P. Ricciardi. Talked to him last night, and he says he's in the process of talking to folks within the organization, as part of his evaluation process, and then he'll start to make decisions.
Is this current Phillies team (with this two year run) arguably the best National League team in this decade?
Buster Olney (1:07 PM)
Rodney: Hmmmm... interesting thought. I'd say that it's between these Phillies and those Diamondbacks teams right at the early turn of the decade -- and of course, if the Phillies become the first NL team since the '75-'76 Reds to win back-to-back titles, it would lock them in as the NL team of the decade.
Scott (Missoula, MT)
Are the Rockies going to announce a new contract for Jim Tracey?
Buster Olney (1:07 PM)
Scott: There was a story in the Denver Post today that an announcement is forthcoming.
Buster, any chance that mlb will look into limiting catcher/pitcher meetings next year? Late in the games, they seem to happen on every batter and I have seen multiple meetings in the same at bat.
Buster Olney (1:09 PM)
Rick: I agree -- I wish they would. I remember that before the '72 World Series, they took off all limits on mound visits for the managers, and Dick Williams proceeded to abuse the heck out of the privilege. The other day, Jose Molina made about 8,000 visits. I wish they would restrict it to three per inning.
Why would Broxton throw all fastballs to a good fastball hitter? He has a good slider, he should have used it. (Not arguing with the results though haha)
Buster Olney (1:11 PM)
Matt -- because I think he had just decided to challenge the hitters with his fastball, given the crisis. I didn't think that throwing the fastball was a mistake, but he seemed to just be heaving it down the middle, rather than making good pitches... the anxiety of the walk and hit batsman probably led to that. Don't know if you saw this, but that fastball that Rollins hit, at 98.8 mph, was quite literally the fastest pitch he has seen this entire season -- and he hammered it.
Justin (Calimesa, CA)
Hi Buster, did you happen to see that spitball Mariana Rivera threw last night? You can clearly see Rivera spit on the ball. If the umpires were to catch it, what would happen in that spot?
Buster Olney (1:13 PM)
Justin: I need more answers before saying conclusively that he was loading up the baseball. I've never head him accused of doing that, and when pitchers do this, they are trying to create more movement on their fastballs -- and this has never been a problem for Rivera, because of his cutter. I am sure he will be asked about it today, and I am sure the umpires will be alerted to the images from the game. But I think that will end it...
Vik (New York)
Are you still sticking with your prediction of Yankees in 5? =)
Buster Olney (1:14 PM)
Vik: Yes. I think Sabathia will pitch well. He's only thrown 16 innings in the last 24 days -- a very different situation than last year, when he had to make four consecutive starts on three days' rest.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Much as it pains me to see it happen, the Phils play right to the final out. Seems like since the changes made in the front office and in the manager have led to quite a bunch of players acting like a real team. These Phils remind me a lot of the Yankee teams that dominated the 90s. Is this a fair comparison?
Buster Olney (1:15 PM)
J.B.: No doubt. Their experience and toughness is a weapon, as it was for those Yankees' teams of the late '90s. Rollins/Victorino/Utley/Howard/Werth/etc. are this decade's version of O'Neill/Tino Martinez/Jeter/Bernie Williams/etc.
Matt (New Jersey)
Hey Buster, what can we expect out of Scott Kazmir tonight? It seems this would be a huge opportunity to show the Baseball world (and the Angels) that he's worth every penny. Does he step up for his team?
Buster Olney (1:17 PM)
Matt: I think it all depends on how good his slider is. Scouts were saying in early September that he was throwing the pitch with much more conviction than he did in '07 or '08, and we'll see if that holds true today. He's had some success against the Yankees in the past... and I am curious to see if we see real signs of Teixeira and other struggling Yankees pressing today. Cano looks as bad at the plate right now as at any point in this season.
Buster Olney (1:18 PM)
Matt: My gut is that the Yankees will win the series, that their power pitching and hitting will win out. The Yankees' homer advantage in this postseason -- 12-2.
Which series would draw better numbers: Yanks-Phils or Yanks-Dodgers?
Buster Olney (1:20 PM)
Ned: Based on the recent TV ratings, the Yankees-Phillies. The Dodgers aren't getting a lot of traction on TV in L.A.... and on the other hand, the Phillies-Yankees would definitely lure attention. Lots of stars, lots of great players with solid reps, great story lines. I am guessing that the Fox folks are probably lighting candles and hoping for Phillies-Yankees.
How does the Divorce of the Dodgers owners effect the team heading into the offseason? Should be getting ready for the team to be gutted like San Diego was?
Buster Olney (1:21 PM)
Allen: We don't know yet, but let's put it this way -- there are a lot of signs that this could be an incredible knock-down, drag-out situation, and if that's the case, yes, the Dodgers' spending could be greatly affected.
Did Joe Girardi lose Game 3 for the Yankees with his over-managing?
Buster Olney (1:23 PM)
Daniel: I don't think he did. I thought the Angels' hitters like Mathis and Kendrick just beat them. Going after Mathis, who hit .211, is not a bad strategy. Being leery of Kendrick's ability to hit a fastball is sound strategy. But Kendrick bounced a single up the middle on a cutter away, and Mathis hammered a high fastball. On the scales of giving credit/giving blame, I'd lean toward giving credit to Kendrick and Mathis.
I'm loving my Phillies' run these past years, but looking to the future, I am a little nervous. Next year we will keep the bulk of the team in place, but after next year, how do u see the team shaping up? Will we have the money to hold on to our big players?
Buster Olney (1:26 PM)
Kyle: I hear you, but you know what? Enjoy the ride. They should be really good for at least another year or two, and they do have some decent young pitching. It will be hard to replicate the great work, though, of the last two front offices -- guys like Ed Wade and Mike Arbuckle and Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro did a wonderful job drafting and developing this tremendous core group of talented and character guys. Rollins, Howard, Utley, Hamels, picking up Victorino and Werth and Lee. And yes, I think they'll hang onto their big players, but by 2011/2012, they'll have to start thinking about turning over some of the core guys.
jeff (new york)
Am i the only one that has noticed that Girardi does not use his pitching coach for meetings with his starters or relievers? Does he have any confidence in Eiland making a decision??
Buster Olney (1:29 PM)
Jeff: he has done that twice and I think on both occasions, it was to make sure that the pitcher and catcher were on the same page about pitch selection. I don't think that has much to do with Eiland as the dynamics involving Posada -- and the fact that Girardi, as the guy in charge, wants to make damn sure that the pitcher is throwing the pitch he absolutely wants to throw. I wish I could've been a fly on the wall for that Pettitte/Posada/Girardi conversation, because I'm not convinced Pettitte threw that cutter to Vlad with full conviction, and given how it played out, with the meeting, Vlad was absolutely sitting and waiting for the cutter, opening up his hips very early and anticipating that pitch in that spot. It was a fascinating sequence.
James (New York)
What's your overall take on how Joe Girardi has managed the Yankee bullpen in this series? Too many quick hooks?
Buster Olney (1:30 PM)
James: I think he manages a lot like Torre does, working to solve the crisis at hand and being aggressive in his moves, and let's face it -- when and if they lose, that creates a situation when he's going to be questioned.
Chris (Lakeville, MN)
Saw your comment awhile back that the Vikes should get TO. Still think so? I'd say Berrian, Harvin and Rice is just fine. Why mess with a good thing bringing his attitude into the mix.
Buster Olney (1:32 PM)
Chris: yes, I'd go and get T.O. If Berrian got hurt, as the veteran of the group, then they would have a huge hole, and I think that T.O. would come in and look to complement things, rather than demand the ball. But in listening to people who actually know what they're talking about, like John Clayton, it doesn't sound like it's even a remote possibility.
You're being a little unfair to Posada. Girardi went out to meet with Molina during his visit-fest on Saturday night, too.
Buster Olney (1:34 PM)
John: No, it really wasn't mean to be a rip on Posada. I think it's Joe, as the ex-catcher who understands that Pettitte prefers to be led along by the catcher like a plowhorse and that Posada likes to lead, going out to make absolutely sure that Pettitte was fully committed. That's just Girardi's personality. He wants to control the situation as much as possible, wants to be hands-on -- and this trait led to him making the match-up choices that he did in the 11th inning.
Do you not think when Girardi goes to the mound to tell Pettite and Posado how to pitch to Guerrero he causes friction. Obviously these two guys have been around and probably know just as much about what Guerrero can do?
Buster Olney (1:35 PM)
Trace: Yes, it's possible that he does; he clearly annoyed Posada by sitting him down for Burnett's starts. But knowing Girardi, he is going to do what he thinks is right in that moment.
Buster, has ARod removed the chokerlabel or do the Yanks have to getto the WS for ESPN tostop calling him that
Buster Olney (1:38 PM)
Nathan: I think he has recast his postseason reputation, for sure, but let's not pretend that his struggles in October never happened. A perennial MVP candidate went 16 games in October without an RBI. He went about 65 at-bats in October without an RBI. That happened. His postseason failures have been noted time and again because they were real. And now that he's been hammering the ball, that's being highlighted, too.
Kevin (San Diego)
Buster, if forced to guess, who is going to be the next Padres GM? Have you heard Logan White's name at all?
Buster Olney (1:38 PM)
Kevin: A lot of folks in the game expect that Jed Hoyer is going to get that job.
How good is Mariano?
Buster Olney (1:41 PM)
Bobby: He's the best ever at his position, and I had this conversation with a couple of folks this week -- he might have built the greatest gap between himself and the second-best ever at his position than any other player anywhere. For example -- Babe Ruth is generally regarded as the best outfielder in the game's history, because of his production, etc. But you could make a strong case for Barry Bonds, or Willie Mays, or Williams as a solid No. 2. I'm not sure there is anybody within the same stratosphere as Rivera, among short relievers, in the game's history.
Mike C. (NY, NY)
How can you say Fox is hoping for a Yankees-Phillies WS? Did you forget about the whole Torre vs. the Yankees storyline if it is Yankees-Dodgers? Plus the history of Manny vs. the Yankees doesn't hurt either. This is the matchup Fox wants. Thoughts?
Buster Olney (1:43 PM)
Mike: If you get a chance, google the stories about the ratings in L.A. In short, NFL games involving teams outside of L.A. had higher ratings than the Dodgers' game on Sunday... I hear you about the Torre/Yankees story line, but I think the Phillies-Yankees would make for a more compelling series for Fox.
Gerry (Mexico City)
If YOU were Girardi, would YOU have sit Posada when Burnett pitches ? (I hate the decision but it would have been mine too).
Buster Olney (1:45 PM)
Gerry: yes, I would. Burnett clearly becomes frustrated with the way Posada calls games, and he is like a balky horse... and it really doesn't matter whether any of us think that Burnett shouldn't be that way --the fact is that he IS that way, and it affects his performance. And as we all know, the starting pitcher is the most important player on the field when the first pitch is thrown, and yes, I'd cater to him if I thought it made a difference.
Maurice (New York)
Do you really believe Giradi is using the bullpen like Torre? If anything Torre had a tendancy to leave guys in too long.
Buster Olney (1:47 PM)
Maurice: He would go to the bullpen early and often. Just ask Denny Neagle, who was yanked one out from qualifying for a victory in the 2000 World Series, because Joe was concerned that Mike Piazza might hit a 600-foot homer off Neagle (and earlier in the game, Piazza had hit a 16-mile foul ball, along with a home run). He was very, very aggressive with his bullpen of Stanton, Mendoza, Nelson and Rivera, which is why Rivera had so many 4-6 out saves in the postseason under Joe.
IF the Phils can wrap it up tom, Howard an easy MVP?
Buster Olney (1:48 PM)
Andrew: Easy choice. In fact, you could start inscribing the trophy now, just in case the Phillies wrap it up in the next game or two.
Buster, one of the more subtle moves that backfired was that Hairston in for "OF defense" and himfailingto get the Mathis hit... i didnt see the need to get Damon out for a utility IF.
Buster Olney (1:51 PM)
Jason: He wanted the stronger throwing arm, and there really isn't a lot of difference between Damon and Hairston in terms of chasing down fly balls. One move I do think Girardi needs to adjust -- he is constantly removing Matsui for pinch-runners, which makes sense, but he's got Matsui batting behind A-Rod. And time and again, he's had weaker hitters behind Rodriguez after the PR move is made, meaning that nobody really has to pitch to A-Rod (and this makes the Fuentes pitch even more mind-boggling, in retrospect). I wonder if he'll do something different, like bat Posada fifth tonight.
Buster, Girardi made more than 1 bad decision last night. (1) Might as well mailed that cutter to Vlad. Thats like calling a time out and then immediately airing it out to randy moss on 3rd and long. (2) Brett Gardner stealing in a pitchers count and getting chucked followed by a Posada homer which should have won the game (3) Why bring in hairston and bump mo to DH allowing him to only pitch 1 inning. It was likely a deep fly wins it anyways. (4) Robertson mowed down 2 hitters and was a hero in alds change not necessary. Joey boy has some 'splainin to do...and so do you.
Buster Olney (1:55 PM)
Jon: Agree with you on Pt. 1, up in the air with you on Pt. 2, and disagree with you on points No. 3 and 4. Rivera had pitched for seven outs on Saturday and if you used him for six outs two days later, he would be unavailable for today. I wrote in the blog about the whole Robertson/Aceves decision. Agree with you whole-heartedly that Vlad had a lot of information to know he was getting a cutter... sitting in the green room with Fernando Vina and others from Baseball Tonight on Monday, we were all saying: Cutter inside. And interestingly, for a lot of the series, Vladdy has gotten breaking balls away on two-strike pitches. It felt telegraphed, for sure.
Didn't you love how much exaggeration Hairston did yesterday? There is no way he ran into the wall that hard.
Buster Olney (1:56 PM)
Bob: That's Hairston. Good guy, loves the game, and since he was a rookie he has always had a flair. When he went down, I initially thought both his legs were broken.
Jonathan (Washington, D.C.)
The Sporting News named J.A. Happ and Gordon Beckham as Rookies of the Year. Good choices?
Buster Olney (1:57 PM)
Jonathan: I thought there were so many great choices in both leagues that I really couldn't fault either of those choices, even though they wouldn't have been my picks. I had Coughlin and Andrus, but hey, you could've gone with Happ or Hanson or Andrew Bailey or others...
How does Russell Martin get away with arguing balls and strikes so much? I know it's the playoffs, but the umpires need to get a handle on that whining.
Buster Olney (2:00 PM)
Noonan: I'm sure that the coaching staff -- and pitching staff -- would prefer that he bottle it a little more. The Yankees felt the same way about Posada 10 years ago, the theory being that a catcher arguing about the strike zone being too generous was, in effect, taking possible strikes away from his own staff.With that, folks, my time is up... Have a great time watching the games this week.