Chat about 21st Century All-Stars
Danyaal in NY
Where do you think the Mets will go with Benitez and Burnitz? I've heard rumors of the Marlins and the Expos expressing interest. Do you think an Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Wayne package is possible from Florida?
Buster Olney (2:07 PM)
San Diego makes a lot of sense to me. Like the Phillies last winter, the Padres are in the process of trying to load up for their new ballpark, and they could land Benitez, make him understand how comfortable he can be -- and San Diego is the perfect place for his sensitive soul -- and sign him to an extension. There are no guarantees about what condition Trevor Hoffman will be in when he returns, and if San Diego is going to make a splash next year in the standings, it would have to be on the strength of their pitching...
Ed (Chicago, IL)
Hey Buster, pretty good job on that list, but where's Kerry Wood? He's back to his dominating form and looks like he'll stay that way for quite sometime.
Buster Olney (2:09 PM)
Ed --criterion was anyone who had his rookie season in 2000 or later, and Kerry broke in in 1998...
DO you think not re-signing Jeff Nelson was the worst decision made by the Yankees over the past 3 years?
Buster Olney (2:11 PM)
No question, not signing Nelson was a huge, huge mistake. The Yankees were worried about the money and the condition of Nelson's arm, but he's obviously held together and the money argument went out the window when they agreed to give an unproven pitcher $32 million (in Contreras, who does not seem to have the stomach for pitching here)...
Buster - did you leave the NY Times? When? Where are you now? Like it?
Buster Olney (2:13 PM)
yes, left in early June, to work for ESPN. Great opportunity, great canvas, after having a lot of fun working at the Times...
What's your take on the Randall Simon incident. I'm more inclined to believe that they guy was just "faux-swinging" and going for comic effect rather than really trying to hurt somebody. It didn't look like he hit the sausage costume hard at all but enough to tip over the top heavy outfit. I think I'm in the minority when I say I think they guy just made a mistake and that an apoly and possibly a monentary fine should be enough.
Buster Olney (2:18 PM)
I was surprised to see the Brewers exec as angry as he was (can't remember his name), because it didn't look as if Simon was trying to be malicious. He was stupid, yes, and probably shouldn't have swung the bat at all, but I agree with you, it's not like Westbrook, the Redskins receiver, jumping on top of his teammate and pummelling him. He should probably get a slap on the wrist, fined a few bucks by MLB or something like that; he's probably going to be facing a civil suit, anyway, if lawyers get involved...
Jonathan (Hercules, CA)
With Barry Zito's near to obviously dominating perfomances over his short career since 2000, and his free-spirited personality on and off the field, do you feel like it will be players like him and other young players (such as Dontrelle Willis) that will bring young fans back into baseball, and others that were turned off by all the controversey that has been going on over the past few years?
Buster Olney (2:21 PM)
They need as many Dontrelle's as they can get in baseball, because the game needs a jolt of new blood. When one of the primary sponsors is Viagra, that should tell you something about who is watching and who is not watching... I'm in the camp that believes the payroll disparity is eroding the sport, slowly. Can't have so many hopeless springs in so many cities without it having an effect...
What's your position on how Hall of Fame players' caps are branded? Should it be the player's choice or the Hall's?
Buster Olney (2:23 PM)
it would have been nice to allow the players to make the choices, because they are the ones being honored, but when players like Boggs are selling their cap rights, so to speak -- Boggs, in a Devil Rays cap? -- then something needed to be done. Too bad...
Vasquez, Colon, Beltran, Benson, Beneitez, Urbina. Who will be wearing a Red Sox uniform come Aug 1
Buster Olney (2:25 PM)
Benson will be in Boston, I suspect, because he fits what they are trying to do, short-term and long-term... Urbina to the Yankees, inevitably, because they will probably dish out the most cash to the financially troubled Rangers, and I think Armando's game against the Yankees two Sunday nights ago should convince the Red Sox he doesn't have the stomach for pitching in Boston. Excellent regular season closer in the right situation, and Boston is not the right situation...
Which AL 2nd baseman would you take on your allstar team this year. Bret Boone or Alfonzo Soriano?
Buster Olney (2:28 PM)
Living in New York, I see Soriano a lot more than Boone, and I don't think he's been as consistent this year; that's just my sense of it. Seems like he has more poor at-bats than he did last year. Boone had been on a binge lately, and he's a better second baseman, so I'd probably take him for the All-Star Game... Long-term, of course, Soriano will finish his career as one of the greatest second basemen, if he stays healthy...
THE A'S NEED SOME BATS BADLY. WHO CAN THEY GET? LONG NEEDS TO GO, SAME WITH DYE.
Buster Olney (2:32 PM)
Moneyball stuff aside, Billy Beane is pretty boxed in by his payroll. You are right, he needs a really good hitter, like Brian Giles, to augment the offense, but he needs to keep his top prospects, like Harden, because Tejada is on the way out. I wonder if he could somehow find a way to snake Gonzalez from the Rangers, because that's the type of hitter they need...
Why is Mike Lowell still not getting any respect in the league and how good can the Marlins be?..
Buster Olney (2:36 PM)
I think Mike Lowell has a lot of respect in baseball circles; it would have been interesting if the Marlins had decided to trade him, because unlike the Alomar/Benitez/Burnitz/Gonzalez types, in which the team has to assume a huge portion of the contract, there would've been an actual trade war for Lowell. It'll be interesting to see how he does in the second half, because historically, he's always collapsed, and at some point, opposing pitchers are going to simply refuse to pitch to him...
Mick (Buffalo, NY)
What do you think of the Indians' core of young talent? Are the playoffs not that far off?
Buster Olney (2:39 PM)
Traber's game against the Yankees was encouraging for the Indians, because when you watched Cleveland the one thing that really jumped out in the last couple of years is that they didn't have outstanding young pitching. Maybe Sabathia maintains the consistency he got this year, Traber evolves, maybe they spend a little money to get a stabilizer (not Trachsel, but Trachsel-like), and in a mediocre AL Central, it wouldn't be shocking if the Indians jumped up quickly. Bradley's behavior does seem a bit of a cause for concern, though...
Whats the chance of Drew Henson leaving the Yankees to play football. Do you forsee the Yankees signing a Lowell and ditching Henson
Buster Olney (2:41 PM)
I think the Yankees will be obsessed with Lowell if he becomes a free agent, and they will throw huge money at him, if they get the chance. I would not be surprised if the Yankees sit down Henson in the offseason, encourage him to play football, hinting at some implicit threats -- can't guarantee you playing time, can't say you're going to stay at third base, etc. They can't trade him, because of the size of his contract, and the best thing for the Yankees would be if Henson walked away to play football, and left all that money behind...
Who bat do you think will go to the Cubs?
Buster Olney (2:45 PM)
I really, really thought this would be the year the Cubs might invest in their team as a contender. Don't get too many chances with power arms like the Cubs have, Wood, Prior, etc. But the Hernandez trade really was an odd deal to me, and makes me wonder if they are ready to dive in and trade prospects and spend money on the '03 Cubs... With the division playing out so oddly, it would not surprise me if the Cubs try to slog along with what they have, hanging in the race, before adding a cheap and flawed veteran. Same ol' Tribune Cubs...
Matt (Burlington, MA)
Do you have any reasonable explanation for the absense of Donrelle Willis on the All-Star Team?
Buster Olney (2:49 PM)
Did a couple of pieces on Willis and what struck me was how so few baseball execs had seen him pitch bu mid-June. I wonder if he had flown under the radar for so long that when the ballots were being filled out, he was still a mystery. But I don't understand why they don't have Willis and Clemens on the teams, at least to be there as names fans have talked about this season, one guy coming in and one guy going out. It's pretty clear baseball is struggling in a gray area with its approach to the game, trying to decide whether its serious or an exhibition... You are right, though -- makes no sense not to have Willis there...
Who, to you, is the best young prospect called up this season? Dontrelle? Reyes? Cabrera?
Buster Olney (2:50 PM)
Dontrelle. Big-time staying power, because he pitches down in the strike zone so well...
Brian (Baltimore, MD)
What type of contract offers do you see Sydney Ponson recieving?
Buster Olney (2:52 PM)
He'd scare me to death as an executive. He'll probably get four years, $25-$30 million, but you'd have to hold a gun to my head to give him that. Long, long history of letting his body go and struggling with his motivation...
Saad (San Jose)
I see Lance Carter is in the ALl-Star game....and i think why isnt Tim Hudson in his place. Huddy has a era under 3, he's 6-3, but should be almost 16-3 if the bullpen didnt blow it for him a league high 10 times! What is your take on Tim Hudson , should he be an allstar, and what does a pitcher that cant trust his bullpen do?
Buster Olney (2:53 PM)
The rule of an All-Star for each team is silly, never moreso than when Carter is there and Willis/Hudson/Clemens are not. The closer for the Rays, getting save chances once a month, at the game? Crazy...
Marty Bolt (Houston, Texas)
Buster, show some love for the South, will ya? Is Jeff Bagwell done as a big time hitter?
Buster Olney (2:55 PM)
No, he'll never be the same. The fact that he's feeling his age and talking about retirement tells you a lot. Plus, he's got a hard swing to maintain into the last years of his career; many, many moving parts...
Dom (Bay Area)
Do you think Tejada's sub-par year is a result of the contract issue in April? Or do you think the contract issue in April was because the A's suspected Tejada wouldn't be as effective this year?
Buster Olney (2:58 PM)
I'm not around the guy everyday, so that's a hard call, but I watch a lot of Athletics games on TV and their broadcasters -- who are around the team -- talk about the contract distraction a lot, and there is similar talk among scouts, as well... You can see the frustration spilling out of Tejada every time he makes an out these days; it's like he's trying to get five hits with every at-bat, to make up for lost time. he was relatively calm, and now he's like O'Neill when he makes an out...
For years we have been hearing about when Eric Chavez is going to become that big star player....well it doesnt seem to be happening to me...he hasnt even made an allstar team yet..why do u think he is yet to break out?
Buster Olney (3:01 PM)
I'll answer that this way: When I covered the Orioles, Jeffrey Hammonds was an up-and-coming outfielder, lots of talent, high draft pick. If he was supposed to hit at 4, he'd be there at 4. If he was supposed to take outfield at 4:15, he'd be there at 4:15, nothing more. Great guy, diverse interests in his life, and I never got the sense he burned to be great, to compete, like Cal Ripken did. Chavez kind of just lopes along, lots of talent, and i wonder if he has the burning desire to be extraordinary.
Is Tony Pena a legitimate Manager of the Year candidate?
Buster Olney (3:02 PM)
yes, no question. Of all the teams in the AL, the Royals have probably done better than expected, Toronto second...
What do the Rangers do with Gonzalez. How do we get Juan Gone to go?
Buster Olney (3:04 PM)
this is what I would do: Tell him he'll never play again this season, except occasional pinch-hit opportunities. Maybe he'll understand how much he can cost himself by not going to another team, but with Juan, you can't tell...
Why isn't Berkman the DH? Vernon Wells' D is much better.
Buster Olney (3:06 PM)
I think we tried to maintain the integrity of the positions -- Berkman as a corner outfielder, Baldelli as the center fielder. Personally, I think Wells is the best CF of the lot, and there is a lot of talk in Tampa that Baldelli will move to right eventually...
Buster Olney (3:07 PM)
Thanks, folks, my time is up. I'm sorry I couldn't get to more questions; when I did this at the NY Times, we'd get about 1/10 the number of questions as we did today. Take it easy...
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