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 (12:58 PM)
Let's get going. I'm trying to eat lunch and chat at the some time since I have a meeting at 2. Hopefully I won't spill anything on the keyboard.
mike (williamsburg, va)
It seems to me the discussion on PEDs and the HoF is flawed. Some say cheats should never get in and others say many cheats are already in so you should let them in. The latter is more flawed since it is equivalent to saying X got away with murder so you cannot try anyone else for murder either. Obviously an l=illogical position. The first is also flawed but not as badly.Instead of silly arguments for or against what is needed is for those in the media to try and make the HoF state its rule concisely, in writing, and get enough support to make them "law." Then those who dont make the criteria will never make the ballot and brain dead voters will not be able to put too much spin on who they elect.A similar approach would work wonders for awards. For example, say MVP really does mean most valuable not best and can or cannot include pitchers - while using things like Aaron award to say who was best etc.It is amazing how far a little logic and organization can go to preclude a lot of arguments.
David Schoenfield (1:02 PM)
The Hall of Fame seems fine with its current standards, but I think it's inevitable things will have to change. A Hall of Fame without McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and son on will become less relevant, fewer people will bother to visit, attendance at induction ceremonies will go down. At that point, the Hall will make some changes. Maybe even some logical ones.
Greatest DH? That's easy, Edgar. Ortiz is no slouch, but Edgar had an unbelievable stretch from 95-01, posting the second highest wRC+(163), and the 7th highest WAR (41.9) over that period of time.
David Schoenfield (1:04 PM)
I do agree. Ortiz had more power at his peak, but Edgar balanced that with doubles, a higher average and higher OBP. In fact, Ortiz has had only one season with an OBP higher than Edgar's career mark. Ortiz has a couple seasons that rank with Edgar's best, but when it comes to career value, it's not close.
what do you think about the potential return package from the Tigers on Garza? Is Turner & Nick C. possible? or will it be one or the other?
David Schoenfield (1:06 PM)
I was wondering about this. If the Latos deal is a similar barometer, Detroit will have to give up more than Turner (as they should). I don't think Detroit would give up Nick Castellanos as well, however, especially since the Tigers are the clear division favorite without Garza.
Hey David. I think the Fish will go all out to land Cespedes and, failing that, will go for Fielder which would allow them to move Sanchez for some value in return. You of course agree with all that, right?
David Schoenfield (1:07 PM)
I still say Fielder ends up with the Nationals. Of course, everyone seems to think that now, which probably means your scenario will unfold.
Chris Wietlispach (Hittersbox Baseball Academy, Duluth, Ga)
Hey David, I know that now is about the time when big leaguers start swinging the bats again, as we've had Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, and Dan Uggla hitting in our cages over the last week. What are the pitchers doing in preparation for Spring Training, and in particular, veteran pitchers?
David Schoenfield (1:10 PM)
Good question. I don't believe there is a general rule of thumb for pitchers. I've seen tweets and heard guys on the radio talk about starting up some long-tossing this time of year, maybe throwing a few from the mound (or indoors). But not a lot of cranking up at full speed until they get to spring training. And depending on the pitcher, a lot do work out, hit the gym, work on flexibility exercises and improve their core strength. Of course, we talking pitchers ... so that doesn't apply to all of them.
What's wrong with making guys wait on the Hall. Maybe Bagwell is clean, maybe not. The only thing we know for sure is that he never spoke up. So let him wait. Fifteen years is a long time, and he's only two years in. Next year, I'd go Shilling and only Shilling. Make the other guys wait too.
David Schoenfield (1:11 PM)
How do you know Schilling is clean?
Marty (Fairfield, CT)
Dave, why do you think Raines is having such a rough go getting to the elusive 75%?
David Schoenfield (1:13 PM)
Pure and simple: Just underrated. Didn't get 3,000 hits. Many voters remember his final years with the Yankees, when he was a part-time players, instead of his decade of dominance with the Expos (plus a few good years in Chicago). But he's up to 48 percent. Once he crosses 50, election becomes pretty much automatic down the road. So he'll get there ... eventually.
Brew Crew Dream (Madison, WI)
Brewers can still get Prince. Trade Corey Hart to the Giants for Nate Schierholtz and Heath Hembree. Giants could use Hart's stick. Then deal KRod to Angels for anyone. Pure salary dump by Crew, but Angels can afford it, and could use insurance for their young closer. That frees roughly $23 million for the Crew to make a run at Prince. Thoughts?
David Schoenfield (1:14 PM)
I like it, although the Giants have spoken as if they've hit their budget.
Please tell me Prince will sign somewhere other than Seattle. I think The Angels will be regretting the Pujols contract in about 4-5 years,I don't want that o happen to the M's.
Mike (Long Island)
David, I know what you're saying about the HOF becoming less relevant if it systematically excludes anyone remotely associated with PEDs (including Bagwell who has NEVER been linked in any way, yet certain people insist on lumping him in). But tell me about the relevance of a Hall where Lee Smith appears to have a better chance to get in than Edgar Martinez. If someone wants to argue that DH is too much of a niche position, at least you can say he was the best at it. You can't remotely think of Lee Smith as anywhere near the best closer, even after he retired.
David Schoenfield (1:17 PM)
This is actually my biggest pet peeve. Nothing against Lee Smith, a fine reliever and apparently a good guy, but the fact that he's getting more support than Edgar or Raines or Trammell or Larry Walker doesn't so much for the BBWAA's knowledge of how baseball games are actually won and lost.
Dave, who do you think is going to be missed more by the Cardinals this year, given their replacements? TLR, Pujols or Dave Duncan?
David Schoenfield (1:19 PM)
Excellent question. The signing of Beltran obviously helps lessen the blow of Pujols. Duncan may be the answers. Chatters?
have the red sox shown any interest in oswalt or kuroda? where will these guys end up?
David Schoenfield (1:21 PM)
There was a story last week suggesting Boston didn't have much interest in those guys. I wonder if Oswalt will end up in Detroit ... why trade a top prospect for Garza when you can sign a capable guy like Oswalt or Kuroda? How about Oswalt or Kuroda to the Angels, replacing Jerome Williams as the No. 5 starter?
Russ Miller (Maryland)
The Taiwanees Left Chen signed by O's...thoughts? I'm hearing 92-93 command lefty....is he really into the 90s or will he serve up American East Derby homers at 88 mph in Camden?
David Schoenfield (1:23 PM)
I don't have a lot to add other than to point out that Japanese pitchers have fared pretty well over here, the occasional Kei Igawa bust not withstanding. Seems like a pretty good risk for $12 million over three years to me.
I keep on looking at this Phillies team and seeing a hole a 3B, an aging lineup and pitching staff, but a flurry of pitching talent in the minors. Why not trade Cole Hamels, sign a guy like Oswalt or Jackson, and bring in some young position player talent in the minors? It makes sense to me. Still would have top NL rotation
David Schoenfield (1:26 PM)
Well, the formula did work pretty well last year -- 102 wins. They just in the playoffs, which can happen. Plus, if Polanco struggles again, maybe they can figure they can pick up a 3B cheap at the trade deadline. And frankly, the way trade are made these days, you're not going to get much for Hamels since he only has one year left until free agency.
I just read FanGraph's recently published top 15 Mets prospects, and after the top 4 guys (Wheeler, Harvey, Familia and Nimmo) it looks pretty bleak. On the back of the F Martinez flame-out, what do the Mets need to do to better develop their prospects? Not rush players through the system as quickly? More emphasis on fundamentals? Prospects are the only realistic hope I have until the awful Wilpon regime finally topples.
David Schoenfield (1:29 PM)
This is a good question without an answer right now. More studies need to be done on the factors of player development -- is it coaching, not being rushed, simply avoiding injuries and so on.
Jason (St Louis)
What are your thoughts on Lee Smith? I personally don't think he should be in there. I don't think Trevor Hoffmann should make it in either. Any reliever not named Mariano Rivera shouldn't be in. Agreed?
David Schoenfield (1:30 PM)
I do agree. Unfortunately, the selection of Sutter a few years ago opened the door for many other relievers -- Hoffman, Smith, Billy Wagner, maybe Joe Nathan if he has a few more good years and so on.
bardin (San Diego)
I just don't get it with Jack Morris. Do voters really not remember the large, and I mean large number of games were he did not pitch well? There were really quite a few, because a career 3.90 ERA doesn't just happen in a vacuum...
Jason (Gloucester, MA)
Why do you think so many HoF voters are down on the DH after it's been in place almost 40 years? In the AL, it's historically been an every day starting position for a lot of good hitters. They may not have been good enough fielders to take part in the defensive elements of the game, but isn't this analogous to criticizing pitchers for being poor hitters?
Captain Termite (Boston, MA)
I really don't understand why so many of my fellow baseball fans are obsessed with the writers' awards and the in/out of the Hall of Fame. If their favorite part of sports is voted-upon results, they should go watch ice skating or boxing.
jeff (chavez ravine)
Dave, what's the latest with the Dodger sale?
David Schoenfield (1:32 PM)
Bids are still being submitted. Prospective buys have until Jan. 23 to submit bids. From there, it will probably take until May to determine the buyer.
Sometimes the obvious answer is the correct one. In fact, this is usually the case, even if it makes for less interesting discussion. The answer to Marcus' question is Pujols. While nuanced analysis is often interesting, any other conclusion here is just plain silly.
Jason (St Louis)
I would have to think the most successful manager of the last 75 years would be missed the most.
David Ortiz (Boston, MA)
Uh, my career isn't over yet, so why judge me on "career value"?
David Schoenfield (1:34 PM)
Well, if you have six more awesome years then you have a chance to catch Edgar.
David, I know it is out of character for the team, but given their farm system would it make sense for the Indians to go after Soler which is a year or two away, but offers pretty good projection?
David Schoenfield (1:38 PM)
There was a report a couple days ago about the Red Sox being more interested in Soler than Cespedes. Anyway, yes, I would like that move for Cleveland, as banking on another Grady Sizemore comeback seems like a long shot.
Hiroki Kuroda (LA)
Rumor has it that the Red Sox are closing in on a deal for me. Should I pack my bags for The Bean?
David Schoenfield (1:38 PM)
We've all been waiting for the Red Sox to spend some cash ...
Mike (San Diego)
I thought your Bruce Bochy had some interesting parallels with the Lee Smith article you wrote. If you ask me, when using "games managed" as a barometer for a manager's success, that would probably label them as a compiler. I don't think Bochy belongs in the Hall of Fame because his best skill seems to be longevity.
David Schoenfield (1:40 PM)
Right, I wasn't suggesting that I *think* Bochy is a Hall of Famer, merely pointing out that he's done the things that usually get a manager elected (manage a lot of games, win a World Series). But Smith's case is similar: He lasted a long time and racked up a lot of saves, even if he wasn't always great (similar to Bochy having a career mark around .500).
Is Frank Thomas being considered a DH? If so then I think there's no debate on who the greatest DH of all times is.
David Schoenfield (1:43 PM)
Frank did play more games at DH, although his best years were as a 1B. He had a 1.078 OPS as a 1B, .899 as a DH. But you're right, if we include him, he gets the edge over Edgar.
I agree with Rob, seeing as though between Pujols, Duncan and Larussa, Pujols had the longer shelf life of making an impact on the organization. Everyone sees Pujols as having around 4-5 more valuable years left, while Larussa and Duncan both only had a max shelf life of 1-2 years tops.
Mike (Long Island)
Maybe David Ortiz can explain to us that using PEDs was just a fun thing he did and had no impact on his career, and that he doesn't understand why Edgar never tried it.
David Schoenfield (1:44 PM)
How do you know Edgar never used PEDs?
SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)
Any thought on Larkin's jump from 62% last year to 86% this year? That's almost 90% for a guy who wasn't first ballot. Makes no sense to me how the jump could be so great and nothing changed.
David Schoenfield (1:45 PM)
Hall of Fame voting doesn't make a lot of sense. Obviously, there is an empathy factor that goes on -- when I gets close, voters get on the bandwagon. And the voters clearly knew if they didn't vote for Larkin, nobody would get in, and they clearly *like* to see *somebody* get elected. But make sense? No.
Joe Nathan, really?
David Schoenfield (1:47 PM)
His 2004-2009 run was phenomenal. Higher save percentage than Rivera, 1.87 ERA over that span. I'm just saying in comparison to Sutter and Smith, he has a case with a few more years of padding his career saves total.
FelskeFiles (Woodbridge, VA)
The other thing hurting Raines' candidacy is he played the exact same time as Rickey Henderson, who was in the spotlight far more often and seemed to play in the postseason every year. Not to mention that he was the best lead-off hitter the game has ever seen. Being #2 in that scenario, as great as Raines was, leaves an impression.
David Schoenfield (1:48 PM)
Yes, good point. Similar to Trammell playing at the same time as Ripken, but not being Ripken.
Keith Law's Evil Twin (Somewhere Cold)
Jack Morris knew how to win games.
I read Jack Morris would have the lowest career ERA of any pitcher in the HOF. True?
David Schoenfield (1:48 PM)
True. Red Ruffing has a 3.80 ERA. Morris' is 3.90.
mike (williamsburg, va)
given health (not a given obviously) I expect the cards to score more runs than they did last year - meaning how well the pitching staff does is the biggest key to their success. Duncan is top 5 ever, if not the best - so I'd say that losing Duncan is the biggest blow.
Tim Raines also got caught using cocaine. Could this be part of the reason?
David Schoenfield (1:49 PM)
Possibly, although I've haven't seen a writer own up as that being the reason they don't vote for Raines.
How can a guy who is so capable of good analysis when breaking down stats, not be able to analyze the circumstancial evidence and at least see the possibility/likelihood that Bagwell used PEDs?
David Schoenfield (1:52 PM)
I've never said it's not possible (frankly, I don't care even if that's the case). What's the circumstantial evidence? That he lifted weights? So every player who added 20 pounds from his rookie season is a likely steroids user? You really want to go down that road. And for what it's worth, Bagwell actually had a pretty normal career path (other than his monster 1994 season): He got better for a couple years, peaked, and had a slow decline year by year starting in his early 30s.
Mike (Long Island)
As a Yankees fan, I actually thought Nathan was the closest thing to Mariano during most of his career -- until he spit the bit several times in the playoffs.
David Schoenfield (1:52 PM)
He did do that. But, hey ... do I dare mention 1997 ALDS or 2001 World Series or 2004 ALCS ...
Mike (San Diego)
I think Eric Karabell put it best today on the podcast. If Jack Morris gets in the Hall of Fame next year and Clemens doesn't, the whole thing is a farce (I'm paraphrasing obviously). Even if you assume steroids increase your playing level by 50% (which is absurd), Clemens is still a top 50 player all time per bWAR. But I bet he doesn't get in first ballot, despite the fact that he may have been the best right handed pitcher ever.
David Schoenfield (1:54 PM)
Clemens and Bonds were obviously better players than McGwire, but given the lack of support McGwire has received, I'm with you -- those two will NOT get in the way voters are currently trending.
Edgar and PEDs? Man, guilty until proven innocent must be your mantra. Does character count for anything?
David Schoenfield (1:55 PM)
Brian -- you haven't read enough of my work. And what does character have to do with using or not using PEDs? Edgar's body change was not much different than Bagwell's. PS: Edgar is my favorite player of all time. The point is no player is above suspicion, regardless of their character.
David, For the record, I agree that both Bagwell and Sosa should be on the list of guys suspected, but not proven, and I would let them both in the HOF. However, I just hope people are consistent across the board on their stances on players. Whether a guy was a good guy, or a selfish jerk should have little to do with this argument. The fact is, you really don't know what someone will do. Good people make bad decisions too.
My steroids in the HOF argument: Everybody in the league was either using or had the opportunity to use and consciously chose not to. The players who played in that era should be judged by their numbers relative to their peers at the same time, who all had the same opportunity to succeed. Therefore, whether a player used or not is irrelevant. If somebody was the best of their time relative to their peers, they should be welcomed in to the hall of fame. Period.
Jason (St Louis)
I hate the HoF. Why you ask? Because I hate talking about steroids. These days anytime the hall is brought up steroids is discussed. I thought we were done with this crap.
David Schoenfield (1:58 PM)
Unfortunately, you can't discuss one without the other.
David, Can't remember who it was, but Keith Law was tweeting back and forth with a voter who entered a blank ballot. Without discussing whether his vote was correct, couldn't he have least not entered his ballot, since % to total is how one gets in?
David Schoenfield (1:59 PM)
There were actually eight fewer voters this year than last year (I think), so maybe some voters did decline to turn in a ballot.
David, while your questions about Edgar and Schilling (how do we know they didn't take PEDs?) drive home your point quite well (which, I think, is that since we have no idea who did and who didn't take PEDs, we should just vote based on performance on the field, without regard to failed tests, admissions or suspicions), I do think that it does not address a fundamental point others have raised. Which is, just because we accidentally let in one PED user, it doesn't mean we should let in all PED users (as Mike posted in the top comment doing otherwise would be "equivalent to saying X got away with murder so you cannot try anyone else for murder either"). Did I misinterpret your point, or do you disagree?
David Schoenfield (2:01 PM)
My personal view is that PED usage doesn't bother me. It was a byproduct of an era with no rules and no testing. Isn't this punishment after the fact?
Morris gets all the attention because he's still on the ballot. Is there another starting pitcher from the 1980s/early 90s that deserves a second look even though he's off the ballot now? A Lou Whitaker of starting pitchers?
David Schoenfield (2:06 PM)
There are pitchers from that era who compiled a higher WAR than Morris (39.3), but none who lasted long enough to compile enough wins for conventional Hall of Fame consideration. The best guys were probably David Cone (194 wins, 57.5 WAR, one Cy), Bret Saberhagen (167 wins, 54 WAR, 2 Cy Youngs), Dave Stieb (176 wins, 53 WAR) and Orel Hershiser (204 wins, 53 WAR, one Cy).
Dave Steib, Jack's long lost twin (though he doesn't belong in either).
David Wells has numbers eerily similar to Jack Morris's. In fact his ERA+ and winning percentage are better. And I bet Wells falls off the ballot in one year. Isn't that pretty strong evidence that Morris is not a HOFer?
David Schoenfield (2:08 PM)
Yeah, I tweeted that yesterday. Wells also has an excellent postseason record. Yes, I agree that he probably falls off after one year. And, yes, that is a mark against Morris in my book. It just goes to show that "perception" can be as important on Hall voting as analysis. It also a matter of peers -- Morris looks better 20 years after the fact because he's the only guy standing from his era. Wells will be compared to Maddux, Glavine, Clemens, Unit, Pedro, etc. and fall short.
How's this for a solution? Have MLB announce that any player from the Steroid Era who admits to PED use is eligible for the Hall, but any player who does not and is inducted can be kicked out later. See what the threat of public humiliation does to users who still want to get in...
David Schoenfield (2:09 PM)
Except there would be no way find out who used unless you have a jar of Jeff Bagwell's urine from 1996 sitting around.
Steve (Plantation, FL)
Matt from NY is quite a moron. He is saying reward the cheaters because they chose to succeed, with a "period". Thankfully he doesn't get a vote.
David Schoenfield (2:12 PM)
Who cheated? There were no rules or tests. Now, Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame ... even though he explicitly broke the rules of baseball. He was a cheater. Whitey Ford and Don Sutton were widely believed scuffers of the baseball. They broke the rules of baseball. They're in the Hall of Fame as well.
John (Cincinnati, Oh)
My steroids argument is who is the BBWAA to be pius? They hid their head in the sand for 20 years. It was more important to them to have access to crappy utility infielders than to actually report on the game. Freedom of the Press was added to our Constitution for a reason. The Press is supposed to be a check. BBWAA more checked out!
JP (Columbus, OH)
I am astounded, and saddened, by the number of people in this chat who think it is OK to suspect Bagwell of using illegal PED's while at the same time labelling other players as unequivocally "clean".
In all of your HOF analysis of Morris, you neglected the Fame/Feel Part. This is a guy who started 3 Different All Star Games, 3 Different World Series Game 1s. In another words, a lot more of the managers his time period felt he was the "ACE"
I heard Todd Hollandsworth talking on mlbradio a few days ago, and he said players should have done more with what they knew or suspected was going on. They can't have it both ways. If they don't want this sort of speculation, then players should tell what they know. If they don't want to tell, then they should live with it.Bagwell hung out with Caminiti and hung out in a gym where a steroid ring was busted. Maybe it is guilt by association, but I don't buy it. The body change is massive. Lots more than 20 lbs at his biggest.
JP (Columbus, OH)
The Hall of Fame has dug itself a hole it will never escape from in giving voting privileges almost exclusively to sportswriters. As Keith Law once opined, what does being a journalist have to do with being able to intelligently analyze statistical data?
uke (GR, MI)
Brian, Davis's point of guilty until proven innocent on Edgar and everyone else sarcastically, actually is EXACTLY how voters and many fans view Bagwell and others...It's pathetic.The Hall is a museum of baseball history...Good, bad or both PED/Spitballs/sand paper, greenies...they are ALL part of the history of the game. It's for fans to learn more about the history of the game AND the people who played it very well.
David Schoenfield (2:14 PM)
OK, good one to end with. I'm already late for my meeting! Thanks for the great comments, opinions and questions.