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 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:02 PM)
Greetings! Just an FYI. Have to run to the studio to talk Buster Posey/Brian Sabean on OTL, so I only have a half-hour chat today. Also today's Rumblings & Grumblings column is up. Check it out!
Jayson,Given that (a) going to a 154-game schedule is a 5% decrease in games (and gate receipts), (b)instituting weekly doubleheaders (unless they're the dreaded day/night separate admission) would cut receipts by another 15%), and (c) ESPN is reporting that 1/3 (10 of 30) of MLB clubs are out of compliance with the debt guidelines, how likely is management to support the change? Thanks!
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
Jim's post is a response to today's Rumblings column, in which one GM says it's time to shorten the season for the players' own good. My guess is that everybody is afraid to make this change because they do the math the way you've done it. But as I said in the column, nobody has calculated how much teams could save if they didn't have so much dead money on the disabled list because of players who can't make it through the six-month grind.
Hey Jayson, Huge fan of your work dating back to the Sunday Inky column. Two questions: one on the rumblings column: wouldn't expanded rosters by themselves solve the problem? Second: Has defense become overrated? The Phillies seem to be going out of their way to keep Michael Martinez around when we're talking about a sub .300 Triple A hitter and a sub .200 MLB hitter. It seems like teams value defense more, but at the expense of offense.
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
Thanks, Brian! Another proposal in the column is to expand rosters to 26 or 27. I think that would help -- if managers would use their benches. But the only real way to ease the physical and mental demands on players with this schedule is more off days. As for that Michael Martinez question, the Phillies' decision to keep him was almost solely based on maintaining depth, since he's a Rule 5 pick and they'd have to offer him back to Washington if he isn't in the big leagues.
Jayson, I really like your idea of shortening the season and creating doubleheader days, makes a lot of sense. But, how likely do you think it will happen? would the addition of two extra wild teams be cnovincing enough?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
Well, that wild-card round, if it's handled right, could make up some of the lost income from cutting back the number of home dates. And there are other ideas proposed in the column, to create events like Doubleheader Sunday which could be sponsored and sold. We're just talking about a little outside-the-box thinking. But my guess is that most people in the sport aren't willing to think that way.
Do you expect Bryce Harper to be in the Majors at the start of next season? From what I've heard, he is dominating!
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
That answer is no. The tentative plan is to get him to double-A in the next few weeks and have him finish up there this year, then move him from double-A to triple-A to the big leagues next year if he continues to rake.
Any coincidence that Bryce Harper is playing more and more CF with Nix and Morse both hitting over .300 with power?
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
Yes. Total coincidence. The Nationals don't view him as a long-term center-field option.
I know your friend Buster Olney has associated the offensive decline with the rise of the cut fastball, but I was wondering whether you think the advent of the overshift has contributed? A decade ago I don't remember more than 1-2 guys facing the shift, but now it seems like a ton of guys do.
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
I think the information age - and ALL the defensive alignment changes it has generated - are a big reason for the decline in offense. Absolutely. Good call, Brian.
Do you see Uggla bouncing back? Or could this go down as one of the biggest bust?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
All I know is, this guy has always hit. He just needs to relax and stop trying to pull every pitch out of the park to justify that trade and his contract.
Mike (San Diego)
Make sure to ask Sabean if he scolded JT Snow after he ran over Pudge in the 2003 NLDS. Seems a bit hypocritical to me.
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
I've had several comments like that today. There's certainly some irony involved there, but if you read his remarks in full, you'll see he admits this particular play hit him in a whole different way than any other collision. So this is emotion pouring out, and I understand that. Nevertheless, I think he went over the top several times, particularly in saying that if Scott Cousins never plays another game in the big leagues "we'll all be happy." That line was way out of bounds in my view.
Andrew (Green Bay)
Baseball is the best sport when it comes to statistics and records. Wouldn't shortening the season mess with one of the game's biggest strengths and selling points?
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
That's a big issue, but going back to a traditional total like 154 games would be a way to do it, in a context that preserved the meaning of the numbers. Would people always wonder what a guy might have done if the season had been 162 games? Of course. But I think it's worth the trade-off.
Jayson, last week in this very chat I stated that no one would care about home plate collisions if someone like Humberto Quintero got hurt instead of Buster Posey. Then, THAT very night Quintero gets hurt in a home plate collisoin. Did I jinx him? Should I sent him a card or flowers or something? I feel so guilty. On the bright side, the Astros have won 4 in a row and Jordan Lyles looks like the real deal.
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
I thought about that myself, John! That was a little freaky. I thought only I did that stuff. I gave J.J. Putz my reliever-of-the-month award for May, and he blew a save the first time he went out there in June. So thanks for joining me in jinx-hood. Not sure Jordan Lyles is going to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter. But even if he's a legit No. 3, that's an upgrade for this rotation.
Should we be concerned by Chase Utley's slow start back from injury? He seems to be missing all his power. He hit two balls in DC this week that would have been HRs before the injury but just reached the warning track. Has that knee sapped his power?
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
Scouts I've talked to agree with you. He's not using his legs the way he did in the past. Let's see if that's related to the injury -- which is the best guess -- or just a guy still trying to find his rhythm. He's a valuable presence for that team whether he's a 30-homer guy or not. But I've said this many times: It's very possible he'll never be the same.
Jason, I really like the idea of National Doubleheader Day. My proposal for that would to have it the Sunday before the All Star Break. It would add some juice going to mid-season, plus the 3 or 4 days off would give every team to reset their pitching staffs.
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
Glad you like it. I doubt that's the day they'd do it, though, because it's a day when EVERYBODY travels. Even players who have home games and don't make the all-star teams run for the airport to fly home. But a couple of those on summers in the Sunday would be a big hit, I think.
I think the better route is to add 2 to 4 players to the MLB roster but only 26 or 27 guys are active, the manager would have to announce who is inactive. They could also add rules for extra innings.. just keep it at 162 games please.
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
Another interesting idea, but would owners have to pay the guys who aren't active that night? That wouldn't be a real popular concept!
Perhaps Brian Sabean would endorse a rule prohibiting home-plate collisions for some of the fair-haired "star" catchers (ex - Posey, Santana, etc.) but okay for the non-stars (Quintero, for instance) to get bulled over. Also, I suppose we'll need a provision that if it's a Giant initiating the contact, then it's just a hard, clean "baseball play".
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
OK, let's settle down out there. If your point is that there's been a stunning level of reaction around the sport to this collision, as compared with all others, I agree. But again, I think you need to take into account the emotion that this injury has provoked within that team. Buster Posey is irreplaceable, and he has a long, long road ahead to make it back from this.
Thoughts on the Franchise Player draft? Biggest reach? (other than Wilson Ramos), best value, and biggest snub??
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
It was fun to do. I'll tell you that. I was surprised that Albert Pujols, just because of age, and Joe Mauer, because of health, went that high. Best value was my pick of course - CarGo at No. 24. And the biggest snub? I almost took Miguel Cabrera at No. 24. Amy Nelson told me she almost took him with the fifth pick. And he wound up not getting drafted at all, obviously because of off-the-field concerns. But the guy is only 28. And if all you ask of your franchise player is to produce for five years, I'd bet Cabrera can definitely do that.
Christian (Arlington, VA)
If you want to shorten the season, why not shorten spring training? The last week or two is just more gravy for the owners and has little to do with the players.
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
The starting pitchers need a month and a half. But nobody else does. One of the ideas in the column, though, is to start the season a week early.
Mr. Stark: But are there enough decent players available to expand rosters to 26 or 27? It seems like we already have players on rosters that aren't MLB-caliber.
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
That's obviously another issue. But nobody would expect your 26th or 27th players to be stars. They'd just be depth -- long relievers, bats off the bench, utility guys. What's wrong with adding a couple of spots for guys like that?
You mentioned teams saving money because not as many players would go on the DL with a shortened season ... but if you're only cutting off 8 games, would the season really be that much shorter?
Jayson Stark (1:30 PM)
The other part of the equation is that you'd be adding at least 10 off days to the season, including at least one EVERY week. That's the part of this that would help keep players off the DL.
Jayson, how good is Hunter Pence? He never gets mentioned but he plays harder than anyone and seems to have become a very intimidating offensive threat.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
He's a fun player. And I love watching him. But he's not a superstar. Talked to a scout last week who described him as a guy you'd want on a winning team if you had two star players to pair with him. I agree with that.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Sorry I'm out of time. But it's one of those days. I can only take one more.
The early weather in many mlb cities is already horrible. Starting the season earlier would only make it worse.
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
Go read the column, Bob. We discuss that. That first week of games would be International Week, with six or eight teams playing in Mexico, Asia, etc., and the rest playing in warm-weather sites and domes. See? It's easy. If you want to find a solution, it's findable. I just doubt there will be enough people in the game who want to find it.
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
Gotta run, folks. Thanks for all the great questions and ideas. See you on OTL. And seeya down the road in Chat Land.