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)
Now that K-Rod has a save and Prince Fielder has a homer, the season has officially started. And so has this chat. So let's get going.
Rob (Alexandria, VA)
Jayson, what's your take on Dallas Braden, the second coming of Milton Bradley, or justified anger? I'm about as anti-Yankee as a non-Red Sox fan can be, and it seems to me like he's acting like a big baby. Maybe it was a bad decision by A-Rod to cross the mound, but I've seen guys get into fights who don't blow up like this (and then keep it up), what's his problem?
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
I said on our podcast today that I have a great money-making idea: I want to get my hands on one of those Unwritten Baseball Rule Books and sell it to ARod. This guy's knack for annoying other teams is amazing. And a lot of these issues over the years have come down to whether people think he's broken one of those unwritten rules. Remember the pop-up in Toronto? The karate chop on Bronson Arroyo? There's no official right or wrong on any of this. But he's just got the knack, it seems, for coming down on the wrong side of all these controversies.
Jeff (Bordentown, NJ)
Someone's gotta ask it: Jayson, could Doc Halladay pull a Brad Lidge and have a perfect season? 35-0?
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
No! But it's funny you ask that. I was talking to a source on an AL East team this week. And he said, "Roy Halladay might go 30-0 in the AL East." So great minds are thinking alike on that front.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Have to be careful with my questions today due to the one post rule. Do you see Derek Lowe getting things headed in the right direction or is what we've seen over the past year plus four starts it? Amazingly the Braves won 21 games that he started last season (best on the team) and are 3-1 in his starts this year but just once I'd like to see him have back-to-back quality starts. Oh and will we have trivia today?
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
I forgot that I promised last week that I'd kick off all these chats with a trivia question. So I'll post one in a minute. On Derek Lowe, when you see something trend in one direction for this length of time -- nearly 40 starts -- you start to believe it's real, and not some kind of "slump." This guy still has good stuff, but he doesn't locate it anywhere near as well as he used to. His walk rate is up. He leaves more balls in the middle of the plate. Not a good sign.
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
OK, here's that trivia question. It's similar to the question in Rumblings and Grumblings this week. If we don't count pitchers on the disabled list (i.e., Brandon Webb), there are six active righthanders who have won 18 games or more in two or more seasons. Who can name them? And no cheating!
Rob (Highland Park, Il)
If the White Sox don't get going soon is Ozzie in trouble?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
At some point, one of these decades, Ozzie is going to do something to get himself fired. But I've never been able to determine exactly what it might be that he'd do or say that would push his bosses over the line. There has never been any manager, ever, in the history of the universe like him. So normal rules don't apply. That said, this team is clearly under-performing.
Most impressive offense so far? Defense? and all together as a team?
Brian (Richmond, Ky.)
Zambrano, Carpenter, Halladay, Beckett, Hudson and... Peavy?
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
Well, you got two of them anyway. This isn't as easy as it looks.
What do the Red Sox do about the stealing situation? They are on pace for like 480 stolen bases allowed. I don't see an anaswer and teams have caught on and have green lights even stealing third.
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
They can't continue to operate like this, obviously. If they can't control the running game some other way, they're going to prioritize trading for a catcher who can. It's that simple.
Jason (St Louis)
Wainright, Carpenter, Oswalt, Halladay, Hudson, Beckett
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
You got three of them. We're getting closer.
Ryan (Astoria NY)
Pettitte, Santana, Sabathia, Halladay, Oswalt, and Zito?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
You missed the "righthander" part of that question.
I know its early, but do you see Halladay, Lincecum, and Ubaldo competing all season for the Cy Young? Who you got? Thanks
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
I don't think we can count out Wainwright or Carpenter yet -- among others. But those three are going to make the Pitcher of the Month voting the most interesting election of 2010.
Where's the answer to my question? I see you have posted it, but there is no answer!
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
Sorry. Actually posted it by mistake before when the screen jumped but I'll answer it. First let's post it again:Tim (NJ): Most impressive offense so far? Defense? and all together as a team?
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
It's the Yankees, Rays and Phillies -- and then everyone else. The Rays might be the answer, though. Best defensive team in baseball, according to the metrics I've seen. Right up there in runs scored. Best base-running team in baseball. Very, very talented team.
The sleeper trivia answer is Chien-Ming Wang
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
Very good! But he's on the disabled list. So he isn't one of the six.
Ryan (San Diego)
So the Padres are an illusion? Even though they lead the entire league in ERA and play in a weak division? I think that is sustainable considering the run they've put together dating back to last year
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
You're obviously referring to my Rumblings column yesterday. Let me say again what I said in the column. If the question is: "Are they going to win the West?" I'm saying no. That part is the illusion. But can they be a .500-ish kind of team? Yes. That's reality.
Mike (San Diego)
Oswalt, Halladay, Carp, Pedro(does he count?), Freddy Garcia...good god this is tough. Let's say Ben Sheets for the 6th.
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
OK, Pedro doesn't count. He's not active by any definition. You've only got two right. I haven't seen anybody guess one of these names yet.
Jason (St Louis)
Would D Lee be a fit in Boston? He would pepper the green monster like crazy. Ortiz may eventually come around but Lee would have to be an upgrade.
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Interesting name. If the Cubs fall out of it, I think he'd be in play. But whether he'd fit in Boston is another question. Depends how all their other 1B/3B/DH/Victor Martinez pieces are fitting together.
Michael (Charleston, SC)
Is it to early to talk about who will replace Bobby Cox?
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
We discussed this on the podcast today, too. You should listen. I spent a lot of time around the Braves this spring, and I really don't get the sense they have a specific heir apparent they know is getting that job. In fact, there are probably more people who think Bobby will announce at the end of the season that he's changed his mind than can agree on his successor. They do love the manager in Florida, but obviously he's employed elsewhere right now.
I think that Braden probably overreacted, but don't you think ARods response about hearing it from some guy with so few wins demonstrates why people don't like ARod?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I don't know why he had to throw that out there, that a guy with "a handful of wins" should be the guy taking offense. Can't he ever just say, "Sorry, if I offended him, I didn't mean it?" Braden was probably a tad over the top, but ARod was way too dismissive. The whole thing was surreal.
verlander, oswalt, hudson, garland, millwood, russ ortiz
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
This is the best answer yet. But Russ Ortiz isn't active anymore. So you're missing one more guy.
Has Liriano finally gotten his groove back? Can he be the Twins "ace" in the future?
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
Two spectacular starts in a row. Great winter. Impressive spring. His stuff is back. The only question now is whether he grows into a true ace, in every way. He has the ability to dominate any lineup. So it'll be fun to watch where he goes from here.
Hudson, Halladay, Oswalt, Verlander, Garland, and Millwood..
Jayson Stark (1:30 PM)
We have a winner. You're sure you didn't cheat now? Promise?
Don M (Philadelphia)
We all know about Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Howard.. in the coming years, is Ryan Braun the best player out there, with a few MVPs on his shelf before he retires?.. What other non-rookies, are the real players to watch in the coming years??
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Seems like I answer a Ryan Braun question every week. He's the captain of my All-Underrated Team among active players. More on him later today in the Sandwich Awards.
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
OK, let's give you that trivia answer one more time so we can move on. I can't find questions to answer because all I have on the screen is trivia answers. The six active righthanders with more than one season of 18+ wins: Halladay, Oswalt, Garland, Millwood, Verlander, Hudson. Thanks for playing!
Since you think Vizquel is a lock HOFer that must mean you are appaulled that Dale Murphy isn't in, right? I think you're nuts btw. Omar was never an elite player. Great fielder but not Ozzie great.
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
Yeah, I'm one of the 50 voters a year who votes for Dale Murphy, all right. But I'm not nuts on Omar. Let me say this again: Omar Vizquel has as many seasons of five errors or fewer as ALL THE OTHER SHORTSTOPS IN HISTORY, and he's up to 2,700 career hits, with 11 Gold Gloves. Why would a guy who has had that career not be a Hall of Famer?
Dave (North Hollywood, CA)
With the problems the White Sox have with their starting pitching and offense, can this team turn it around in time (already 6 games back) or is this season already lost?
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
The starting pitching is going to turn around. I'd bet on that. The offense is the part I'm not sure about. I think there's a talent gap between the Twins and everyone else in that division. So I think the White Sox will eventually figure this out and win more than they lose. But do I think they'll catch the Twins? No.
Andy (Topeka, KS)
I know you said that no one seems interested in Jose Guillen, even if the Royals pick up most or all of the salary, but do you think that is a mistake? He is in probably the best health we've seen in a while, and I would have to think an AL would consider him for a DH spot (ahem, Sox).
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
People say now that they're not interested, because the track record has been so unattractive. But if he keeps this up, behaves himself and stays in one piece -- and the Royals pick up all the money -- I bet they can find someplace to deal him. So I guess I agree with you.
Jayson, your pick for the best active manager in baseball is ______. And, why?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
I wrote about that over the winter in one of our Hot Stove U pieces. Mike Scioscia was my answer. He's AVERAGED over 90 wins a season for the first decade of his career. And he's put his stamp on his entire franchise. There are lots of great names in this argument. But that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
What do you think of the cubs moving big Z to the pen? Seems to me like they could have taken someone else like Gorzellany
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
No matter how they justify this, it's clearly an act that reflects some level of desperation. We're talking about a guy with a $90-million contract. Yeah, I guess his stuff translates to the eighth inning. But long-term, they need that guy to be The Ace. So a one-month or two-month or three-month detour to the bullpen is a sign they're thinking short-term all the way. Never a good sign.
In last week's 20 inning game, LaRussa used a couple position players to throw a few innings ... I know this often happens in blowout losses or in long extra inning games, but do you think it's a wise decision? In the Cardinals case I think having a healthy Felipe Lopez (though his contract is cheap) is more important than making him pitch for the first time in his life. Your thoughts? Thanks.
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
I love it when position players pitch. Of course, we haven't seen TWO position players pitch in a close game since 1945, so that part of it was pretty bizarre. But I have no problem with Tony deciding he didn't want to put somebody like Chris Carpenter at risk, or blowing out his bullpen in a game like that. So why not? When Lopez told him he couldn't go back out there, they found somebody who could. What's the issue?
Luis (Burbank, CA)
The Angels got off to a terrible start, then went on a winning streak and dropped the last two. Do you think they have what it takes to keep it together and win the West? Can this team win the World Series?
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
I think they'll find a way to win that division. But they're not the same team they've been. Their lack of team speed makes it very difficult for them to play the way the manager likes to manage. I don't see them as a win-the-World-Series team, but if they get into the tournament, they'll still be no fun to play.
Matt (Rockville MD)
Whats your take on Ripken? Think he comes back? and if he does, will he have prominent role in organization?
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
I wrote about this in Rumblings and Grumblings this week, so please check that out. But here was my conclusion: Now that Ripken has laid it out there publicly that he wants to get back in, how do the Orioles not find a job for him? He's really put the pressure on Peter Angelos, especially after Peter told my friend Buster that if Cal wants to work for them, he's all ears.
Luke (Saint Paul)
No love for Gardy? No managers has consistently done more with less. Prior to this year his payroll was always in bottom 3rd, and was forced to trot out players like Punto, Casilla, Lew Ford, Batista, the list goes on and on and they still won or were atleast in contention.
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
I've gotten a bunch of these since I voted for Mike Scioscia. So let me just say that Ron Gardenhire would be the manager on my All-Underrated Team. Does that get me off the hook?
Of course the Cubs are thinking shortterm...they likely lose DLee, ARam, and Lilly this offseason...not to mention Pinella is a lame duck. Disastrous.
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
I understand that this is a big year. But by "short term" in Zambrano's case, I meant "right now." Could the guys in that bullpen who aren't named Marmol have possibly gotten a more dramatic vote of Zero Confidence than Zambrano's move?
Frank (Arlington, VA)
JS - what do you make of Happ's injury and the Phils' rotation after Doc and Cole?
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
I think that Happ injury has a chance to have a bigger impact than people are making it out to have. Not because he'll be out for an extended period of time. Because he had it before and didn't respond well. I think people have underestimated how good this guy can be. He has the ability to face a good lineup and get more swings and misses than anyone in that rotation except Halladay and Hamels. You win in October with swing-and-miss pitchers. So they need him.
Trivia Part II: is Halladay the only one of those with MORE than 2?
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
That would be incorrect. There's one other. Want to guess who?
looks like the Rays just got Zorilla for another 3 years... good move?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Ben Zobrist is another guy on my All-Underrated Team. I can't remember any other player who could bounce between second base and right field as easily, and as productively, as this guy.
Oswalt. The answer is always Roy.
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Bingo! As I've told Mike and Mike, when in doubt about any pitching trivia question, answer Roy Oswalt. He and Halladay have three of those seasons apiece.
Charlie (Bethesda, MD)
Do you think the Nats can stick around the .500 mark for the next couple of months? Like until Strasburg and Wang are ready?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
You know what? I don't think they're a .500 team. But I think they're better. They were ninth in the big leagues in runs scored going into yesterday. And as I pointed out in Rumblings yesterday, they've weeded out the malcontents and the losing players. And they have a true direction. I don't see a team with that funky RF platoon they've got playing .500. But the arrow is pointing north anyway.
If Soriano has an incredible first half of the season, any chance an AL team will take him as the DH...boston needs one. As a favor to that team, we won't even ask for any good players and we'll pay for half the salary!
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
First off, with that contract, he's officially untradeable. Second, any time he's ready to have that incredible first half, the Cubs would love to see him start having it. Third, in the meantime he's allowed to play major-league caliber defense in left field. It's not supposed to be optional.
I don't want to jinx this so this but, Vernon Wells - can we start believing again?
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
Seems like I've answered this question every week, too. Vernon is as healthy as he's been in a long time. And he's got a new set-up at the plate that's really helped him. So I think this start is legit. Now let's see how the league adjusts to him, and how he adjusts back.
Matt (Warrington, PA)
The Phillies may (should) need to add arms at the trade deadline this year. Do they have enough trading chips left in their system to get something decent in return?
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
The sense I get from other clubs is yes. They don't have as many players at the upper levels as they had last July. But they have a ton of prospects.
Jayson, so is Peavy as overrated as they come now that he's out of San Diego's spacious Petco Park?
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Too soon to make a judgment. Obviously, he's not going to have the same numbers at the Cell as he had in Petco. And he's not going to have the same numbers in the AL that he had in the NL, particularly the NL West. But Jake Peavy was an overpowering swing-and-miss starter before he got hurt. Right now, he's got sketchy command and no rhythm. So give him time. I wouldn't write a guy like that off this early.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
It's that time again, gang. Only have time for one more quick question.
How much more does Pujols have to do, before we consider everything after that just icing on the cake for his HOF Resume?
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
If the guy retired right now, I'd vote for him. Does that answer your question? If Kirby Puckett was a Hall of Famer for his first 10 seasons alone, how is Albert Pujols not a Hall of Famer already?
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
OK, that'll do it for this week. Good work on that trivia question. See you next week in Chat Land.