Chat with David Schoenfield
Welcome to Sportsnation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com's SweetSpot blogger David Schoenfield stops by to chat some baseball.
Schoenfield is a senior writer for ESPN.com and he's been with ESPN.com since 1995 and has served in a variety of roles, including baseball editor, Page 2 senior editor and writer, and even interim soccer editor. He grew up in Seattle rooting for the Mariners, believes Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame and had no issues with Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young Award despite a 13-12 record.
Send your questions now and join Schoenfield Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
David Schoenfield (1:09 PM)
Good afternoon! Sorry, about the late start. Got stuck in construction traffic driving in to work. Let's go ...
Why does everyone say Asdrubal Cabrera's defense is overrated, just based on some obscure statistics? When you watch him play, it completely changes that opinion.
David Schoenfield (1:12 PM)
The defensive metrics aren't ALWAYS correct. But sometimes the visual impression isn't always correct either. The metrics seems to go agree that AC is a steady, but not elite, shortstop. I'm inclined to go along with that. Remember, he initially came up as a second baseman, so it's not Cleveland thought it had a a Gold Glove shortstop on its hands originally.
Tony (Pt Jeff, NY)
After all the Posey outrage, I saw a clear reason why it was all hysteria and no substance. Last night, during the Detroit game, the catcher blocked the plate and stopped the slide from reaching, which got him time to tag the runner out. IF you are agaisnt "hitting the catcher", then a "runner needs to be safe" in that situation(which is crazy). Point being, let them play the game AS IS.
David Schoenfield (1:15 PM)
While there was a lot of outrage on this, a lot of catchers or people in the game agreed with your point. Jayson Stark talked to Brad Ausmus and Buck Martinez (who once suffered a broken leg blocking the plate) and they agreed that it's part of the game. To me, the bigger issue is WHEN a catcher should block the plate. For the most part, one run isn't worth the risk, especially if you're a star catcher. Bobby Valentine said he told Pudge and Piazza not to block the plate except in game-deciding plays.
David (Overland Park, KS)
Clearly the Royals biggest need is starting pitching. Do you think if they can pick up two good starters before 2012 that they can compete next year? What do you think of those two being Scott Baker and Jeremy Guthrie? Any chance?
David Schoenfield (1:18 PM)
The Twins do have depth, especially with prospect Kyle Gibson on the verge of the majors. Baker and Guthrie are solid guys ... exactly the kind of starter the Royals should be going after. BTW, for all the talk of the Royals, they're a reminder of why pitching prospects are always risky: John Lamb is out (Tommy John, I think), Mike Montgomery is struggling in Triple-A. Danny Duffy is in the majors and has looked OK.
Hi Dave, what are your thoughts on the Marlins? They have looked great at times this year with that young core -- is the current slide a matter of losing some close ones or are they cooked?
David Schoenfield (1:20 PM)
What is, 12 of 13? Hanley is back today but it's going to be tough, especially if they keep throwing Javier Vazquez out there every fifth day. The Phillies are Braves are really good, so I fear that 7.5-game deficit (5 behind the Braves) means they're almost cooked. They've at least been put in the frying pan.
DS: It's hard to fill a blog and defensive stats are dubious for a full season--much less 60 games. I concede there isn't a great answer. But do you really think that you watch enough of every team (and that TV broadcasts provide you with enough information/your eye is that good) to rank players based upon observation? I know that you have to appeal to the unwashed masses, but surely posts like that one decrease your traffic among those whose lips don't move when they read. One can watch a handful of teams enough to do some informal ranking, one presumes. But leaguewide? You are usually better than that, David, but sometimes one gets the impresion that you are zapped by the four horsemen Feared, Proven Vet, Lineup Protection and Run Producer.
David Schoenfield (1:25 PM)
No, obviously I can't watch all 30 teams. If you noticed, I had seven AL guys on the list. I do watch more AL games than NL. And of course, some of my impressions are based on years of watching -- a guy like Adrian Beltre, for example. But that's why I included the defensive metrics consensus. But they're not gospel either -- I mentioned one of them had Fukudome as the best right fielder, another as the worst. Plus ... it's fun. Part of our job is to stir discussion. I don't proclaim to know everything, but I try to keep tabs on all the teams (or at least the ones in the pennant races). Andrew McCutchen may be an awesome center fielder, but I don't watch the Pirates. And as for Feared, Proven Vet, Lineup Protection and Run Producer ... I think you know I've never used any of those words in my blog.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
The Braun/Fielder combo has to be one of the most potent in baseball. If Fielder leaves it will doubly hurt the Brewers because I think Braun will regress slightly offensively without having Fielder protecting him in the lineup. I say there is a 5% chance Fielder plays for the Brewers in 2012, what percent would you put on Fielder staying with the Brewers in 2012?
David Schoenfield (1:29 PM)
LINEUP PROTECTION! There, I said it. I think the issue is the Brewers have already committed so much longterm money to Braun, Weeks, Hart (through 2013), Wolf (2013 club option) and Gallardo (2015). Plus, Greinke has one more year and then Marcum. Can they really afford Prince longterm? I would hope so, but it seems your 5 percent seems pretty accurate.
David Schoenfield (1:30 PM)
By the way, kudos to Brewers fans who are really packing Miller Park again this year. For all the knocks on MLB attendance, the pundits ignore the success stories like Milwaukee. Great job, Brewers fans.
I don't see the Mets are going anywhere this year or next ... So, why not create room to have both Wright and Reyes going forward? They'll still be really good baseball players in 2013 ... I say trade Pelfrey, Beltran, Isringhausen and K-Rod (even if kicking in money this year) and get players with an ETA of 2013 ... If anything, I think the only 3 pitchers with a spot in 2013 are Santana, Niese and Harvey ... so, why not load up on cheap talent now without letting go of your 2 franchise faces and possible hall of famers (both on pace to 3000 hits)?
David Schoenfield (1:34 PM)
Well ... yes, in a perfect world, that all makes sense. Pelfrey has little value right now. He pitched good his last start but he's been terrible this season. Beltran: He won't be bring much in return unless they kick in some salary (do they have the cash to do so?). K-Rod: Big salary, mediocre closer, not worth much on the trade market. It all depends on new ownership but maybe that's a reason Alderson won't trade Reyes ... holding out hope the finances will improve in the offseason and they can sign. I don't think it's a done deal that he'll get traded.
David, does anyone watching a baseball game really feel they can judge a player's defensive range? It's impossible without advanced stats to understand whether a fielder can get to a ball or not.
David Schoenfield (1:36 PM)
I'm sure Manny Ramirez wasn't very good out there. But maybe my eyes were lying.
So how bout that Hanson kid so far? Do you think there's another level for him to go up or is this it?
David Schoenfield (1:37 PM)
I think I get a Tommy Hanson question every week. What more do you want? Kid has a 2.48 ERA, .189 average, 89/30 SO/BB ratio! But actually ... yes, what if he refines his control just a little more? Scary thought.
Dave, first of all - great work! I am enjoying all your reads. Second, as a Giants fan I want Sabean to scour minor league rosters for an upgrade at catching (i.e. Reds minor league roster) for a possible starter now and down the road, not just a stop-gap on a major league roster. If he does that, it provides a "plan B" in case Buster doesn't come back all the way next season. I want Sabean to be pro-active, not re-active! Thanks again!
Mike (San Diego)
Marlin is much better prepared on the grill than fried.
Nic (San Jose)
Sir, you are the first to suggest the Giants could trade a SP when Zito returns. With all the injuries this year, no help in the minors, and Volgelsong pitching well and a lack of quality starting pitching available for trade, wouldn't this be the perfect time to sell high on Jonathan Sanchez and add an offensive piece that can contirbute for the next few years?
David Schoenfield (1:42 PM)
Well, I doubt I was the first. I'd try and deal Sanchez as well ... his lack of command means he's going to throw too many pitches to ever become a 200-inning guy. He's about to start making really big money. They still have a chance to win again this year, but they're going to have figure out ways to improve that roster. Or just sit tight and wait for 2012. WSSB? What Should Sabean Do?
What is the ETA on Heyward? The AJC stated that Gonzalez updated his status as possibly coming off of the DL after his recent stint in AA this past weekend.
David Schoenfield (1:44 PM)
Good question. Any Braves fans out there with more info? Side note: Another reminder of how one player/injury doesn't ruin a baseball team. Braves are 7-3 in last 10 games, with no Heyward. And no Dan Uggla. (OK, that was lame attempt at humor.)
On a Buster Posey tangent...Nishioka (MN) got taken out turning a double play because in Japan (and elsewhere in the world) takeout slides are NOT practiced, and he hadn't adjusted to the AMERICAN style of play of taking out the 2nd baseman. Just because we do things one way in the MLB / USA doesn't mean that's "just how baseball is played". Just sayin'
David Schoenfield (1:45 PM)
Good point, Ross.
Jack (White Plains)
Hi Dave, With all of the discussion about Jater and best SS of all time, where do you weight in? Can't imagine that he is best of all time given his defense but his Offense gets him into the top 10, right? What about the top 5?
David Schoenfield (1:48 PM)
I wrote a piece last year (last winter?) that there's a good case to made for Jeter as No. 2 all-time behind Honus Wagner. Jeter or Ripken. And if you don't like to rank guys from 1908 as No. 1, it could be Jeter or Ripken. Larkin is up there. The grossly underrated Alan Trammell. Ozzie Smith. Ernie Banks only spent half his career at SS. A-Rod, of course, although he's now played more games at 3B, I believe.
With Jeter out for a couple days (or longer), do you think Gardner moves to leadoff?
David Schoenfield (1:49 PM)
Indeed. He really should be there anyway. He's a better hitter right now then Jeter, gets on base more, even has more power. Girardi doesn't seem inclined to make a permanent change, however.
Joel (Bham, WA)
When Ackley finally gets called up where do you think Wedge puts him in the batting order and where does he REALLY want to put him in the order? (I think he starts at 7 but Wedge wants to put him 1)
David Schoenfield (1:51 PM)
Wedge has obviously been very conservative with young hitters. (It Smoak forever to move up.) I think you're right -- he'll start him 7 and then realize after three games that he's probably the second-best hitter on the team right now and move him to 2. With Ichiro keeping that 1 spot.
Stephen (Cincinnati, OH)
Do you think Magglio Ordonez will return to form? I'm semi-new to baseball and not sure of the history of ankle injuries in this game.
David Schoenfield (1:53 PM)
I'm more concerned about the age (37) than the ankle. Although it appears he was hitting into bad luck earlier this season. Thing is: Where does he play? He's a terrible outfielder now and with Victor Martinez DHing, there isn't really a place to play him, except maybe platooning against a LHP at DH or RF.
Rickey Henderson (HoF)
Hanson is pretty good, but Rickey is the greatest of all time.
rob (LA, CA)
David O'Brien from the ajc states Heyward could be back as early as wednesday. Coincidentally, it's also Jason Heyward bobblehead night.
Monroe (Chelsea, Ohio)
Considering that the Reds have several other options, is there an acceptable excuse for ever allowing Jonny Gomes on the field?
David Schoenfield (1:54 PM)
No. I think Dusty gets a little bit of bad rap, but he sure does make some indefensible decisions at times.
How much do you buy into line-up dynamics? For example, how much 'ripple effect' does getting Utley back and starting to heat up have on the rest of the Phillies line-up?
David Schoenfield (1:56 PM)
I don't really buy into that. Utley helps the Phillies because he's good on gets on base. I'll stick to the simple analysis on that one and leave the mental discussions to the NBA analysts!
That's good then. It will be great to see Heyward at the plate and in the field when he comes to visit Seattle in two weeks. On another note, who here believes that Chipper will be in the All-Star game for his swan song year this season?
Jack (White Plains)
Just a follow up, please...'And if you don't like to rank guys from 1908 as No. 1, it could be Jeter or Ripken.' Why would you exclude anyone from post 1903? Seems as though it would be easier to exclude anyone from post 1993 BB due to steroids than 1908. Wagner has been universally praised (at that time) as a better all around player than cobb, ruth, all the heavies of the time.
David Schoenfield (1:59 PM)
That was just meant to suggest that the game is a lot different now than 100 years ago. Wagner is clearly the best when judging against your own era. Check out my post yesterday tied into LeBron James. At the bottom of the piece, check the height of players Babe Ruth faced compared to now. Players today are bigger, stronger, fast, throw harder and so on. That's all I was getting at.
I hear all this talk about Houston going to the AL...why not Arizona? The AL doesn't have enough Western teams, and I would think that would balance it out.
David Schoenfield (2:01 PM)
Could be. Houston would be the easier choice since the Astros are in the process of being sold and that could be a condition of the sale. (If this thing even gets approved, of course.)
Why not the Rockies, then? As a Dbacks fan, I DO NOT want to go to the AL.
david, you might want to take a look at betances #'s in AA again. Granted his walks are a little high but if the rest isnt dominating i dont know what is
David Schoenfield (2:04 PM)
I didn't say he wasn't dominating. Said he had command issues. If you're walking 4.0/9 in Double-A, I'd be a little concerned that he's ready for the majors. Plus, he's only average 5 IP per start, so don't the Yankees need to stretch him out a bit? That said, he looks good and I wouldn't be surprised to see him make some major starts this year.
Monroe (Chelsea, Ohio)
Admirably the Mariners are batting Figgins ninth. Next stop DFA? Surely, they can't expect anyone to take them seriously with such an offense black hole at 3rd base, can they?
David Schoenfield (2:05 PM)
I had to laugh watching the game last night. He got a hit and the Mariners says, "That's the hardest he's hit the ball in a LONG time." When the announcers are making a big deal about one hit, you know things aren't good. So, yes ... they need to dump him. He's been for a year-and-a-half now. He's lost it.
The game being played AS IS is putting people at risk. One of these collisions is going to put someone in a wheelchair...if the broken neck doesn't kill him. Should we inscribe on the headstone "HE PLAYED THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY" ? Really, it's a disgrace that NFL fans and players accept the risk as the cost of entertainment. Why must baseball? If the catcher is not not allowed to block the runner's progress (just like any other fielder) there is no need to run the catcher over. This shouldn't be hard to figure out.
Plus, it would have to be an NL Central team because they have 6 teams, unless they were going to move a Central team to the NL West and then take an NL West team out.
David Schoenfield (2:06 PM)
Well, if they go to 15-team leagues with no divisions, it could be anybody.
Lets say we do have two 15 team leagues, do we still keep NL and AL rules? If there's going to be contant interleagueing there should be some consistancy: either ban the DH in the AL or enforce it in the NL.
David Schoenfield (2:09 PM)
The Players Association has historically fought to keep the DH, in part because DHs like Ortiz, Thome, Edgar back in the day, were highly paid guys. But there are so few full-time DHs now that I wonder if it's still that big of an issue to them. You could grandfather in a rule -- say, three more years and then you get rid of it, allowing a guy like Ortiz to finish his career first.
Any chance baseball goes expansion or contraction to even the leagues up instead of moving a team from the NL to AL?
David Schoenfield (2:10 PM)
On a certain level, eight four-team divisions make sense, but considering some of the current issues in markets like Oakland and Tampa, it seems relocation is more likely than expansion.
Monroe (Chelsea, Ohio)
While I'm not a big Dusty fan, isn't Walt Jocketty more at fault for bringing Gomes back and giving Dusty the option to use him in the first place?
David Schoenfield (2:11 PM)
Yeah, I don't think either one realizes that Chris Heisey is a decent player.
Isn't this proposed realignment really the "there are too many good teams in the AL East" plan? I hate it when legislators and others act solely in short term interests, and the 15-team, no division, top-5 make it idea seems like the worst kind of short-sighted planning.
David Schoenfield (2:18 PM)
Yes, I do think that's a large part of. But there are other issues: Only four teams in the AL West, which ticks off the other 26 teams; with more playoff teams apparently all but a done deal, you can't have teams playing for wild cards who play vastly different schedules, so you could do 15-team leagues and have a balanced schedule.
Monroe (Chelsea, Ohio)
As an NL fan, I don't like seeing a big, hulking DH who is athletically unable to play the field. Meanwhile, AL fans don't like seeing a pitcher "hit." How about we make everyone happy: no DH and the pitcher doesn't hit with only the position players going to the plate? Problem solved, yes?
David Schoenfield (2:19 PM)
Eight-men lineups! Why not?!?! What makes nine guys so sacred?
Arky Vaughn was better than Cap'n Jetes is.
David Schoenfield (2:21 PM)
Forget to mention him. One of the more underrated players in baseball history.
The biggest problem I see with going to a 15-team league with no divisions is you still have many of the same scheduling arguments. There would be no way to ensure a balanced schedule so there would be years where the top teams in each league only play 6 or 7 games.
Is there really any reason at this point to change the way MLB is structured beyond lengthening the playoffs and generating more money for teams, (i.e. owners,) and channels like Fox that purchase the rights? Is there that much of an uproar that baseball has gotten stale? Please. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.
David Schoenfield (2:26 PM)
I do think baseball is being somewhat reactionary here. It sees the NBA getting good TV ratings during the playoffs and it thinks it can emulate. The American public likes "events" now ... so it thinks it can create an event with something like a one-game playoff. But the issue, to me: The NBA is marketed around 10 players. As long as you have Kobe or LeBron in the playoffs or finals, you're going to get good ratings. It's all about the stars. Baseball isn't like that. You can't create an "event" around a Tigers-Rays playoff game, even if it's David Price versus Justin Verlander. The casual sports fan knows who LeBron is and may watch, but will he watch a Tigers-Rays playoff game?
David, I think one thing the current MLB has going for it is the rivalries within the divisions. I feel that some of that would be lost with the proposed restructuring plan. That could have a big time negative impact ($$$) especially for teams who sell more tickets in during this rival series throughout the year. Your thoughts?
David Schoenfield (2:28 PM)
I don't know if I agree with that. The Orioles may draw more for the Yankees or Red Sox -- but everybody draws more for the Yankees or Red Sox. I don't think the Orioles are packing it in for Tampa Bay or Toronto. There are few good rivalries, but for the most fans want to see a winning team and don't care much about the opponent.
Stephen (Cincinnati, OH)
I don't see what the big deal is... the NL has pitchers, the AL has DHs... They're different leagues, they can do that. What's next? Uniform field specifications. Let's stop arguing balls and strikes, don't ya think?
Can you imagine the drama of Jay Bruce's walk-off HR last year that clinched the NL Central for the Reds if all it did was clinch 3rd place? Not sure you're spraying champagne in the clubhouse for that distinction. That's why I hate the no-division idea.
While some DHs are "big, hulking... athletically unable to play the field", others are just regular players, often older ones, who need a day or two of rest from the field. It gives the team a lot of platoon options. I'm not saying these things make it right but there are a lot of things to consider.
Do you still think Hamels is not an ace?
David Schoenfield (2:29 PM)
That was Karabell who said that, not me! Yes, I'm throwing Karabell under the bus!
Assuming expansion to 32 teams, wouldn't it be 8 four team divisions rather than 4 eight team divisions? I'm guessing the Midwestern teams wouldn't like sharing a division with the West and having all those 10PM games on TV.
David Schoenfield (2:31 PM)
Oops, you're right, typo on my part, Eight four-team divisions would be the way to go. With the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies in the new Northeast division. (No leagues!)
Mike (San Diego)
I love the 8 man lineup idea, but MLB is too stale and conservative to let Mark Cuban into the league let along tweak with lineups.
Tinker to Evers to Chance was better than Jeter to Knoblauch to Martinez.
David Schoenfield (2:32 PM)
And with that ... I think it's time to end this chat! Thanks everyone. Great matchup tonight: Wade LeBlanc versus Juan Nicasio ... OK, maybe you prefer Alexi Ogando versus CC Sabathia.