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 (1:05 PM)
Hi there. Sorry I'm late. Had a computer issue. But I'm ready to launch into interleague chatting. And once again, there will be a trivia question in the final 15-20 minutes of the chat. So let's get going.
With the number of prospects that have been called up in the past week or so, do you think that Pedro Alvarez is far behind.
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
I just saw the Pirates in D.C., and I got the impression they think Alvarez is a little farther away. I understand the desperation in Pittsburgh for A) offense and B) dreams. But the guy just isn't ready. Had a minor-league coach tell me that if they called him up now, he'd be a better bet to strike out 200 times than hit 25 homers.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Mr. Stark: Lots of rumblings about a possible trade of Cliff Lee to the Yankees. My question is, why would the Yankees trade for him and who would move out of the rotation? Would Javy Vazquez and his big contract become a long reliever?
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
I still haven't gotten any indication that the Yankees are actually going to trade for Cliff Lee. I'd be shocked if they aren't the high bidder for him this winter, when they don't have to give up players and dollars. But they haven't shown signs they're going to trade for a starting pitcher. Nevertheless, Joel Sherman's theory, in his blog this week, that the Yankees could try to move Vazquez to an NL team and then use the prospects they got back to trade for Lee was fascinating. But again, there has been no evidence the Yankees have explored that at all.
Jayson, I'm happy for Strasburg in his debut, but I want to point out that his 14Ks were not an "all-time" franchise record as you stated in your column the other day. Bill Gullickson recorded 18Ks in 1980 with the Expos. It's likely Strasburg will surpass that number at some point, but as a former Expos fan I'm clinging to any vestige of my childhood team that I can. What's next, wiping Tim Raines out of the record books too?
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
You're correct. You'll notice -- and apparently you did, since you did the same -- that I put "all-time" in quotes when I reported that record. And I did that for just this reason. The Nationals don't seem to acknowledge any link to their Expos bloodlines. But that doesn't mean we should ignore them. So thanks for clearing that up. Somebody had to do it!
Mike (San Diego)
The Baseball Today podcast was talking about this and I wanted to see what your opinion was. If Strasburg has a dynamite June and is universally considered one of the top pitchers in the NL, do you think he should be named to the All-Star game?
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
I'm glad you brought that up, Mike, because it allows me to reignite one of my campaigns to liven up the All Star Game. I'd like to see a Living Legend spot that would go to somebody like an Omar Vizquel, who is at the end of a great career. And I'd like to see a Rising Star spot that would go to someone like Strasburg. I've heard the arguments against both. But I'm still not convinced. You can't tell me the presence of someone like Strasburg in that game wouldn't throw a jolt of electricity into it. But without an innovation like the one I'm proposing, there's no chance he makes the team after a month in the big leagues.
Rob (Alexandria, VA)
Jayson, the general consensus seems to be that the Nats will limit Strasburg to around 100 innings for the year, is this due to arbitration/eligibility issues, or just an arbitrary number to keep him "fresh". And hypothetically, if the Nats are in playoff contention near the end of the year, do they throw that out of the book and ride him into the playoffs?
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
This is all about development, and it's a smart call. The innings limit would have zero arbitration implications, unless they were to send him back to the minor leagues. And I sure don't see that happening. The interesting thing they seem to be pondering is potentially backing off riding him hard in midseason, by giving him an extended break around the all-star break. And that would allow them to keep pitching him in September. But I can't see how he could keep going into October, assuming they get there, unless they want to completely ignore their own innings limitations. And I'd guess there's zero chance of that happening.
Is this the best rookie class ever? If not, what year can it be compared to? Last year's high light was Wieters getting called up but Posey seems just as dynamic. Mike Stanton and Jason Heyward are elite sluggers, Straz is a once a decade talent, Mike Leake skipped the minors, Jaime Garcia is going to be key in a pennant race...
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
We'll be able to answer that question better in a few months, since some of these guys just got to the big leagues in the last 72 hours. But I agree with you. This is, potentially, one of the great rookie groups ever. I can see Strasburg, Heyward, Stanton and Posey being among the greatest players in the sport over the next decade. Leake looks like he could turn into Greg Maddux. I think Garcia is for real. Carlos Santana arrives this weekend. It's an amazing time to see the future show up before our eyes, isn't it?
Adam (Newtown, PA)
Hi Jayson, I really enjoyed the Rumblings & Grumblings last week and the poll on the best young SP'ers in baseball. Which exclusion from your survey surprised you the most? For me, it's gotta be Tommy Hanson. He dominated in the minors and has been amazingly consistent since his call-up last year. Do you think the 'snub' has anything to do w/ his arm slot in delivery, which seems to me to be a little bit like a catcher ("throwing from his ear" as they say)?
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
I do. Tommy Hanson is a tremendous talent. But remember, the concept was that you had to buy stock in these pitchers for the next 10 years. And if Lincecum's delivery still scared them, you could understand why Hanson's would, too.
Joe (Last Place in the NL)
Santana just got the call-up, what should we expect from him? Are Alvarez and Wallace the last of the interesting positional minor league calls?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
Santana is going to hit. Everyone seems to agree on that. He's so advanced with the bat that the Indians decided they could live with his catching issues. You just don't see many hitters reach the big leagues with more career walks than strikeouts in the minor leagues. But that's what this guy has done. Can't wait to see him. I just talked about Alvarez. Wallace is coming at some point. But the Blue Jays would still like to move Lyle Overbay first.
Jayson, more impressive debut, 7 innings 3 ER, 6 K's 4 BB (2 int.) against the Yankees, or 8 innings ER 14K's O BB, against the Quadruple A All-Stars?
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
Very interesting question. Glenn is referring to Jake Arrieta, of course. And he was great. If you missed Elias Says today, he was the first starting pitcher to beat the defending WS champs in his big-league debut since 2005 (Kyle Davies). Nevertheless, I'm still going with Strasburg, sorry. To do what he did, given all the hype and the eyeballs boring in on him, was amazing. As I blogged the other day, it isn't as if the Pirates strike out 14 times against every pitcher they face. The only other active pitcher who had ever done it was Tim Lincecum. How bout that.
I love how nobody mentions the name Boesch when talking about rookies, yet he continues to lead rookies in almost all hitting categories...
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I think YOU just mentioned him, Ryan. Another guy making a spectacular impact. This guy is going to hit a lot of home runs before he's through.
Edinson Volquez is ahead of schedule recovering from Tommy John surgey. Last week he was throwing in the mid 90's during a bullpen session. He should be at full strength and ready to join the Reds rotation mid to late July. Through the injuries and suspension for PED use have people forgotten just how good this kid was in 2008? A 3.31 ERA, over 200 strikeouts, an all-star appearance, and a 17-6 record on a bad team is pretty impressive considering it was his first full season as a pro. The guy has legit ace potential on a Reds team that is really starting to come together. Does a healthy Volquez tip the scales in the NL Central this year and beyond?
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
He's a major X factor in this race. No doubt about it. But beware of all reports about how great pitchers feel at this stage of Tommy John rehab. They all feel great -- because they essentially have a new elbow and it doesn't hurt. But they also need to train their new "ligament" how to pitch. And history shows us that while most pitchers come back and pitch about 12 months after Tommy John, they're really not themselves until about 18 months. So it's too soon to get too worked up about this one.
In your opinion, should the Nationals keep Bryce Harper as a Catcher?
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
Talked to Mike Rizzo about this the other day. They think he could catch in the big leagues, but it would be a slow process. If they move him to right field, he could be in the big leagues in two to three years. It would be considerably longer if he stayed at catcher. Harper is on board with this. Scott Boras is on board with this. So why not? Also, the days when there are endless supplies of corner-outfield mashers seem to be over. This guy should stand out in any outfield crowd, just as much as he would as a catcher.
Mary B (Centreville, VA (Wash DC))
Jayson: there's been a lot of noise about the Hall of Fame requesting some Stephen Strasburg memorabilia after his debut on Tuesday. They say it's premature and disrespectful to the HoFers. I say it's part of baseball history that a great debut like this be commemorated. Are they right and I'm just being a homer?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
Disrespectful? Or whom? Of what? Let me say this for the 1 millionth time: The Hall of Fame is a museum. It tells the story of baseball history. Anyone who doesn't think that game was a part of baseball history is in denial.
Is what Ubaldo doing going a little under appreciated, I mean it is historic and in these chats it seems to be lucky to come up.
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
All I know is, I've written about it nonstop, include a Ubaldo tidbit in every blog and keep comparing him to Bob Gibson. I don't think I'm alone here, either. Seems to me he's gotten his due. Just because Strasburg is the flavor of this week doesn't mean that people haven't properly honored an incredible season by Ubaldo.
Jason (Nashville TN)
Speaking of buying stock in players for the next ten years, if you were given your choice of Hanson and Heyward OR Strasburg and Harper, who would you choose? What if we threw in Josh Johnson and Mike Stanton?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
Fun question! If I had to buy for the next decade? I'd take Johnson and Stanton. Johnson is one of the half-dozen best young pitchers alive. (See last week's Rumblings for details.) And I think Stanton will be baseball's next great power bat. I can't take the Nationals guys because Harper may not get to the big leagues until midseason, 2013. And as we alluded to earlier, there are lots of doubts about whether Hanson will hold up for the long haul. So that's my pick. Any more nominatations?
Does the HOF really have enough room for a piece of memorabilia from every memorable debut?? Strasburg, while a great prospect, hasn't accomplished more then Mike Leake/Jaime Garcia or any other rookie pitcher. He's 1-0. I don't think a single thing belongs in the HOF from him, unless they want to include stuff from every good game a pitcher throws?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
Hey Chad, have you ever actually been to the Hall of Fame? You don't have to be an all-time great to have a piece of memorabilia displayed in the Hall. There's a whole separate wing for those players. There's another gallery that displays memorabilia from various games throughout history -- games that people talk about and remember. Don't you think Strasburg's debut fits that category? If not, I'm watching a different sport than you are.
Eric Jackson (Larkspur, CA)
Posey and Lincecum!!!
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
Good group! For those just joining us, Eric is nominating a young pitcher/hitter tandem you'd buy stock in for the next 10 years. That one is verrrrrry tempting. I'll need to think about it for a few minutes. Anybody got more of these?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
OK, I promised a trivia question at the end of this chat. So here goes. You have to promise not to look this up, though. Robinson Cano is currently hitting .376. I have two questions on this. You have to get the first before we go to the second. Name the only two active players who have ever hit .370 or better for a full season in which they qualified for the batting title. No cheating!
Steve (Blacksburg, VA)
Wieters and take your pick of Matusz/Tillman/Arrieta will be good for a long time.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
Another good one. I think I'd take Arrieta, barely, over Matusz. Still need to see Wieters take another step offensively before I rank him above any of the groups we've talked about before, though.
Tulo and Ubaldo?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
We might have our winner. Jimenez is 26. Tulowitzki is 25. I don't know if any group tops those two. But keep 'em coming.
Joe Mauer and Todd Helton
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
That's a trivia guess, not a who'd-you-buy-stock-in nomination. But it's only half-correct.
Bones (The Loo)
The answer is Longoria and Price!
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
This is really getting mixed up. What have I started here? This is a stock pick, not a trivia answer. And this would be another duo that goes right to the top of this list. They're right there with Ubaldo and Tulo for me. Let me think about it.
Joe Mauer and Ichiro?
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
This is a trivia answer -- and incorrect. Mauer only hit .365 last year.
John (Lexington, KY)
Todd Helton and Ichiro?
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
Right you are, John. Actually just got flooded with correct answers, so nice going. Helton hit .372 in 2000. Ichiro hit .372 in 2004.
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
OK, now here's the follow-up. And again, no cheating: How many AL hitters since Ted Williams have hit .376 over a full season in which they qualified for the batting title? It's an incredibly short list.
ThatGuy (Saint Paul, MN)
I find it funny that you just said Mauer ONLY hit .365 last year... Like thats easy...
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Good point! That "only" was for trivia purposes only. Sorry if you took it wrong in St. Paul.
Jason (Floyds Knobs, IN)
Forget Harper...how about Strasburg/Ryan Zimmerman?
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Another excellent nomination. I don't know why nobody has noticed, but Ryan Zimmerman is a great, great player.
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
That's one of the answers, obviously. He's the last AL hitter to do it, believe it or not. There was only one other between Ted and him, believe it or not. That's your last hint.
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
Nope. Olerud hit "only" .363 in 1993.
Cody (Michigan) [via mobile]
Do you think M.Cabrrera will win the tripple crown?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
Wrote about this last week in the Sandwich Awards. Asked a scout that very question and he replied, incredibly casually: "I don't see why he couldn't." But there's a reason nobody has done it in 43 years. So I'll take the under. Of the three categories, I'd rank RBIs as most likely, because he's so good in those situation. Then homers. Then average. He's never hit higher than .324 for a full season, and it looks like it's going to take a lot more than that to win a batting title this year.
Kemp and Kershaw on that list?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
Two more good names. I think I'd rank them below Longoria/Price and Ubaldo/Tulo, though.
Alex Zaslow (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
I was waiting for somebody to guess Wade Boggs. Great guess, considering he hit over .360 a bunch of times. But he topped out at .368 for a full season.
Phil (Albany, NY)
Hughes and Cano?
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
Put 'em on the list. I'd be happy to employ both of those two for the next decade.
Dave B (Trumansburg, NY)
I remember Rod Carew's .388 . . .
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
OK, that's it for the trivia. Dave is correct. A bunch of you got it. My whole screen is now filled with Rod Carew . . . Rod Carew . . . Rod Carew. So well done, trivia-maniacs!
Jason (Floyds Knobs, IN)
Tell me if I'm crazy, but Scott Rolen is in the running for NL MVP. He leads the NL in SLG, 2nd in HR, 4th in OPS and still plays GREAT defense.
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
I'm with you all the way on this. Addressed it in a Rumblings column just a couple of weeks ago. I haven't updated this lately, but the Reds are something like 65-35 in games he's started since he arrived in Cincinnati. And when I asked Walt Jocketty if that was any kind of coincidence, he couldn't blurt out "no" fast enough.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
OK, since we're out of time, I'm going with this ranking of duos I'd buy stock in for the next 10 years: 1) Longoria/Price, 2) Ubaldo/Tulo, 3) Cano/Hughes, 4) Johnson/Stanton, 5) Lincecum/Posey. Good thing there are no wrong answers in that group!
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. I won't be chatting next week, so see you all down the road in Chat Land.