Chat with Jayson Stark
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com senior MLB writer Jayson Stark will drop in to chat some baseball.
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 1:30 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
Hi there! Before we get started, just wanted to pass along my April awards in today's Rumblings & Grumblings. Player of the month - Joey Votto. Starting pitcher of the month - Josh Johnson. Reliever of the month - Craig Kimbrel. Rookie of the month - Michael Pineda. Feel free to debate these! Now let's get started.
Jayson, Rockies are normally a slow starting team but not this year. Can us fans have visions of a special year or is it just a fluke?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
They were actually my team in the month. Amazing that they have the best record in baseball without Ubaldo Jimenez winning a game. I think they're the best team in the NL West. But one thing I mentioned in the column is that other than that one series against the Giants, the other 20 games they've played this year have been against teams that finished 100 games under .500 last year. And they don't play back-to-back series against teams that had winning records last year till mid-May. So the jury has to be out at least a little, right?
We're headed for a lawsuit by McCourt, right, on whether or not MLB is acting arbitrarily and capriciously? McCourt must know that MLB isn't going to "stablize" the team (by putting in MLB cash) just to give it back to McCourt?
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
All of Frank McCourt's public rants this week sure sounded like a guy laying the groundwork to sue. Complaining that Bud won't call him back or meet with him. Saying he's not allowed to make deals all other teams have been allowed to make. So I'd say we're headed for a lawsuit, all right. But he'd still have to prove the commissioner was arbitrary and capricious. And that won't be easy.
Greg (St. Paul, MN)
Domonic Brown is 4-8 with two HR in his 2 rehab appearances. Looking good. What do you think will happen once he is activated from the DL?
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
I don't think he'll go directly into the big-league lineup, if that's what you mean. He's playing right now in the Florida State League. He'll get bumped to triple-A eventually. Then I think the Phillies will evaluate how he looks and go from there. But I don't see any point in bringing the guy back to the big leagues unless they're ready to commit to playing him every day. And I don't see that point arriving in the next 2 1/2 weeks.
Jayson, what do you make of the performances by Bartolo Colon to start the season? Have you seen this guy? He looks awesome! While it looks like he hasnt lost a pound since his Cy Young days, it also looks like he hasnt lost anything on his fastball either. If he stays healthy, can he keep this up?
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
He's been amazing. But the magic words are: "if he stays healthy." All winter and all spring, I heard the same stuff from scouts: He can pitch in the big leagues with his stuff. And he WILL break down. It's just a matter of when. But for the Yankees, the first three months are a time to just run anybody out there who can get them through this period, and survive until the trade market opens up. So why not run him out there? He threw 30 fastballs 94 mph and up the other night!
Jered Weaver no Pitcher of the Month...better have a good explanation Jayson!
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
If you read the column, you'll see that I wrote it was essentially a dead heat. But if you check out Josh Johnson's month, you'll see there's never been an April like it in modern history. He still hasn't given up a hit before the fourth inning of any game. He's allowed one hit once, two hits once, three hits twice and four hits once. He and Nolan Ryan are the only pitchers in the live-ball era to kick off a season with five starts allowing that few hits. I went with history, even though Jered Weaver has made some himself.
So is Kevin Millwood a New York Yankee come Sunday or will he be heading somewhere else?
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
My gut feeling is that, unless he's horrendous in his final start, they'll run him into the big leagues to see what he looks like. It's only a $1.5-million base, and they need all the pitching inventory they can get. But I haven't heard much from scouts who have seen him that makes it sound as if he's any kind of answer.
I understand everyone being hesitant to call the Indians contenders over pretenders and even I am half expecting to wake up from this dream. All the same, given that the AL Central is somehow looking worse than we thought, couldn't they run away with this division? No other team seems to want it...
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
Wait. They're going to run away with it? Slow down there, Mike. Too small a sample. And I'm not finding a lot of folks who are buying into their pitching. The offense is another story. But I don't see how they have enough pitching to run away with anything. And I expect the Tigers and White Sox to start playing better eventually. So I don't want to mess with your dreams. But I'm not sold yet. Sorry!
Millwood gave up six runs in 2+ for SWB yesterday and his location was horrid. Just wanted to pass that along.
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
Thanks. Been writing all morning and missed that. So they'll have a lot of debating to do on this one. Again, it's all a matter of whether they feel as if they want to hang onto as much pitching inventory as possible.
Can the Florida Marlins win the NL East? Seems like they've got a better lineup than the Phils, and some real good, if inconsistent, starting pitching.
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Can they? I don't think it's impossible. But they're really not built to win this year, so they're ahead of schedule. But this is clearly a team on the rise. And if their stars play like stars - Johnson, Hanley, Stanton, especially - I wouldn't rule anything out. But they need Chris Coghlan and Logan Morrison in the lineup because they grind out so many quality at-bats.
Your Votto argument is a bit silly. So he's starting better than previous MVPs...the category is player of the month. Not "2010 MVP of the month." Bautista is the class of the first month
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
It's silly? Or you just disagree with the choice? If he's the MVP, and he's come out the next year with all those eyes on him and all that pressure to lift his team, and he's off to the best start of any MVP in almost 20 years, how is that silly? I said there's a case to be made for Bautista, and there is. I just think Votto is a special player, who has had an incredible month.
Mike (San Diego)
Brad Hawpe doesn't need a mulligan, he needs a demotion. His OPS+ is in the single digits!
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
I've never seen a guy who was a good player so recently have so many ugly at-bats in my life. Makes me wonder how much longer they can possibly keep running him out there.
DO u see the nats dealing Pudge to another team now that Ramos got the starting Gig. Sad but i wanted to see him hit 3,000 hits and i dont think it will happen now.
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
They've been letting teams know since spring training that he's available, but so far no takers. Even the Red Sox -- who have poked around for catching -- don't seem interested. So he won't be going anywhere for the foreseeable future, if that makes you feel better.
Mike (San Diego)
I think you should've added a category of "Free agents who have earned their pay already" and reserved it for Lance Berkman. Great to see him hitting well again.
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
I've always talked up Lance Berkman. One of the great switch-hitters of all time. And he's been a race-changer so far. But the question isn't whether he can hit. It's whether he can hold up all year if he has to play the outfield full-time.
Dalton (Sonoma State)
Should I be worried about the Giants starters? Bumgarner isn't getting it done.
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
Worried about all of them? Or just worried about him? Taking Zito out of the equation because he's hurt, the other guys have pitched fine. But Bumgarner is definitely worrisome. Talked to a scout the other day who said he's gotten way too cutter-happy, and that's been a rough pitch for him so far.
Mike W (Chicago)
You should mentioned that your April Hitter of the Month and your April Pitcher of the month are matching up against each other on the last day of April in a sold out Great American Ballpark. Great way to end a month.
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
I don't have to. You just did. Thanks for paying attention!
Bartolo Colon and Russell Martin should be in that category as well
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
No player has surprised me more so far than Russell Martin. Not even Colon. The guy had a broken hip. The Dodgers were talking to him about becoming a utility player. And so far he's been the best catcher in the American League. Amazing.
Dave (Parts Unknown)
Jayson-To further your Votto argument; coming into this year his career numbers in April were .310/.380/.536. This year-.379/.509/.655. He has a chance to be scary this year. (Even more than last year)
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Keep those argument-furtherers coming, Dave! Joey Votto gets better and better because he puts so much into it. His commitment to being great is what separates him from the masses.
Do you see the Rays having a legit shot at a potential WC?
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Now I do! I don't know how long Sam Fuld and Ben Zobrist can keep it up. And I don't know if this bullpen is going to be reliable enough. But their rotation is so good, there's no reason they should fall out of any race.
Dalton (Sonoma State)
If Voglesong keeps pitching well, is more likely the Giants trade Zito?
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
First off, Barry Zito isn't tradeable, unless the Giants chew up almost all the money. Second, it's way too soon to trust Ryan Vogelsong. There's a reason he kicked around the minors and Japan all those years. So enjoy it while it lasts.
What are the chances Posada play another season for any team to iclude the yankees?
Jayson Stark (2:03 PM)
He's hitting .130! Tough to market yourself if you're a .130 hitter. So let's see whether he picks it up, and get back to me in a few months.
What are the Red Sox going to do about Saltamalchia he cant call a agame he cant throw out runners and he cant hit!
Jayson Stark (2:05 PM)
There's nothing really they can do right now, other than split playing time with Jason Varitek. The only other options are Pudge, who isn't their kind of guy, and Bengie Molina, who wouldn't be ready to play for weeks. So they'll hope he just relaxes, gets better and gets to the point where it's easier to live with this. Again, no other choice right now.
Not even a mention of Ethier in the player of the month section next to those other 4?
Jayson Stark (2:06 PM)
He was in that next tier down for me. But he's been great so far. And Matt Kemp, too. If I was filling out a top-10 ballot in each league, they'd both be on there. Am I off the hook now?
Jayson,Can the Jays be serious bidders for Pujols or Fielder with the Canadian dollar being 5 cents above par over the U.S. dollar? Imagine Jose Bautista with Fielder or Pujols as a 1-2 punch!
Jayson Stark (2:08 PM)
The Jays have money squirreled away for the right player at the right time. So financially, sounds as if they can bid for any star free agent they choose to pursue. The question is: Which of those guys are going to want to play in Canada? And the answer is probably: Neither of the above.
Here's a great future debate. What hat does Randy Johnson wear into the HoF?
Jayson Stark (2:09 PM)
How is not a Diamondbacks cap? Now WHICH Diamondbacks cap is a whole different debate.
Ryan Spilborghs said yesterday that the Rockies goal is 117 wins. That's insane right?
Jayson Stark (2:10 PM)
Great goal. But insane is a good word. I don't see that being a 117-win kind of pitching staff. Do you?
Jayson,Don't forget Fielder has lived in Canada before when his dad was playing 1B/DH for the Jays
Jayson Stark (2:11 PM)
His dad left Toronto when he was like 3 years old!
Greg (St. Paul, MN)
Not like Milwaukee is much different from Toronto...actually, Toronto is way better than Milwaukee...
Jayson Stark (2:14 PM)
First off, I don't see him going back to Milwaukee, either. Second, it's in a different country -- which makes it a lot different, in a million ways. Don't misunderstand me here. I think Toronto is an awesome city. But I think even the Blue Jays have a realistic skepticism about the interest many players have in heading for Canada.
Longin' for the Weekend (Panama City, FL)
Re: Anthony in Toronto's question...if Pujols signed in Toronto for 30 million/year and the Canadien dollar stayed 5 cents stronger than the US dollar, Pujols would earn an extra 1.5 million dollars over the life of the deal. That's pretty significant to me, but do the Jays have that kind of buying power?
Jayson Stark (2:16 PM)
You want to send this to his agent? Look, I've always included Toronto on my list of teams I could see making a run at Albert. But I still think it's not real likely. Anybody disagree?
Do you think the Dolans will let go of the tight grip on their wallets if the Tribe are in it at the deadline?
Jayson Stark (2:17 PM)
From everything I'm hearing? That answer is yes. I hope we get to find out!
Mike (San Diego)
We're 45 minutes in. Is it about time for trivia?
Jayson Stark (2:18 PM)
Sorry, friends. No trivia this week. Got too busy today. But there's a trivia question in today's Rumblings. Name the only two active players who have ever had back-to-back seasons with 90 extra-base hits or more. You have to find the answer in the column, though. That's the rules!
I live in Toronto, and love Toronto, but there is a better chance of ME getting signed by the Blue Jays then Pujols!
Jayson Stark (2:19 PM)
Thanks, TC. What's your career OPS?
Greg (St. Paul, MN)
Is Liriano a sell-low option for the Twinkies, or is he just that bad now...we should have shopped him to the Yanks in the off season...
Jayson Stark (2:20 PM)
What's the point in trading him now? He's driving his value way below what it ought to be. And they're still trying to win. It would be very hard for them to pull the plug on this season unless it spirals totally out of control. So I don't see that one. But stay tuned, on all sorts of fronts.
With Raul Ibanez finally in the last year of his contract, why do the Phillies feel the need to run him out there every night? Especially against left handed pitching. I know Charlie's loyal to a fault, but I'd much rather see them insert Dominic Brown in the lineup ASAP. He can't be any worse can he? And he has tremendous upside.
Jayson Stark (2:23 PM)
If you've watched Charlie Manuel manage over the years, you know this is how he does it. He's a loyal guy. And in Ibanez, he sees a guy who started slow last year and figured it out. So he's giving him the chance to do that. Whether he is willing to do that for a full season is another story. But he's assuming the guy will hit, at some point.
John (Cincinnati, OH)
Worse offense: Seattle or San Diego?
Jayson Stark (2:24 PM)
After that series the Mariners just had in Detroit, I think I'm going San Diego now. The Padres have been shut out seven times already!
At which point does Bryce Harper get the call up to the bigs?
Jayson Stark (2:26 PM)
He's in Hagerstown at the moment! That's low A ball. So way too early to predict something like this. It wouldn't shock me if he showed up in September since he's already on the 40-man roster. But his real ETA is probably 2013. Just don't tell him that.
Roger (Falls River, MA)
Anthony Rizzo ETA in SD?
Jayson Stark (2:26 PM)
Not before August. That's my guess.
Paul Beeston Jays GM has already said Toronto will eventually have a payroll of $140 million. So Pujols at $30, Fielder at DH for another $20. Plus the $70 million they already have allocated. Still leaves $20 million left over.
Jayson Stark (2:28 PM)
We must have set a record for Blue Jays questions in one chat today. I've already said they have the money to pursue any free agent. The bigger question is whether the free agent would seriously pursue them.
Players will go to any city that consistently produces winners. Happens in every sport. And whatever team pays the most $$$. Besides Toronto was just rated the 4th most livable city in the world. Pittsburgh the highest ranked city was 29th.
Jayson Stark (2:30 PM)
OK, last Toronto question. I agree with that. But remember, the Jays haven't played a postseason game in 18 years. So until they win something, they're in the same position the Tigers were in about 2005. They have to overpay drastically to attract big-name free agents. And I think that's unlikely.
Do you expect my Reds to win their division again this year? Joey Votto on his way to another MVP?
Jayson Stark (2:31 PM)
I think if they ever get healthy, they're the most talented team in that division and another team that's on the rise. But at this point, I think the Central comes down to which team stays healthiest - Reds, Brewers or Cardinals.
Jayson Stark (2:32 PM)
Hey, just realized my hour is up. And I have to run to the ballpark. So thanks for all the great questions. Great to know ESPN.com is so huge north of the border. See you next week in Chat Land!
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