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 (1:00 PM)
Tremendous time of year, isn't it? Great races. Fun award debates. Careers on the line. Under three weeks to go. So let's get started.
Tyler (NY) [via mobile]
Where do you think Josh Hamilton will sign/resign? And do you think there will be any blockbuster trades this winter? Johan or anyone?
Jayson Stark (1:02 PM)
More and more, I think he won't be back in Texas, and someone comes from off the radar screen to sign him. So who's that? Orioles? Brewers? Blue Jays? Marlins? Too soon to say. But if the bidding gets to five years, $110 million or more, I don't think he'll be a Ranger.
Will (Apex, NC)
In the end, what 2 teams do you see coming out of the NL wild card race?
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
Braves and Cardinals. The Braves aren't hitting, but they're still 5 up, with the three teams behind them playing lousy baseball. And I think the Cardinals will stabilize once they get home. The Dodgers and Pirates are heading in the wrong direction. And the Brewers, Phillies and Diamondbacks have no margin for error. If one of them goes 17-2 and steals this, more power to them. But that's about what I think this will take.
Odds Chapman wins the Cy Young? Should he?
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
Declining precipitously, I think. I was the guy leading the Aroldis for Cy campaign a month or so ago. But at this point, I don't even know if I could argue he's been the best closer in the league. Craig Kimbreal has probably passed him. But this is still a free-for-all among those two, Dickey, Gio, Cueto and Kershaw. I change my mind on which guy I'd vote for every day!
Do you think Yadier Moline desirves some consideration for the NL MVP?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
I have a big MVP column on our site today. I think he's in the argument. But I think at the moment, he's just outside of the top three -- of Posey, McCutchen, Braun. If you want to talk him into that group, I'm all ears.
How far do you think the Nationals will go? They've won 10 out of 15 against the Braves, taken care of the Giants home AND away, and beaten the Reds when they were missing key players. They have to be the favorite out of the NL at this point---even without you know who.
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
You know what's interesting? I did this math the other day. Their winning percentage in games started by pitchers not named Strasburg is actually better than any other team's in baseball. But are they the favorite without him? Not for me. I think the Giants are, at this moment in time. Here's how I always frame this discussion. There's nothing wrong with their rotation minus Strasburg. But winning the World Series is about sending starters to the mound who can dominate even the best lineups in the game. And who best meets that description -- Stephen Strasburg or Edwin Jackson?
We all knew that balancing the leagues in 2013 would cause an interesting schedule. The constant interleague games seem like a good fix, but still causes some inconvenient travel schedules. With the recent infusion of young talent, do you ever see MLB adding 2 more teams (16 per league) to permanently fix these scheduling issues?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
There is zero interest in expansion right now. When I ask that question, people in the game laugh. Their question back is: Where would we expand to? And that's a great question. Charlotte? Portland? San Antonio? Vegas? No apparent appetite for any of them at the moment.
Who wins the NL MVP?
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
As I mentioned, I have a big column on our site today on that very topic! I think it's now Buster Posey's award to lose, even though Andrew McCutchen's overall numbers are still better. And I think at least a third of the voters won't list Ryan Braun on their ballot at all. So he has almost no chance, despite having a season just about as good as last year, with no Prince hitting behind him.
Should Manuel have pitched Papelbon last night?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
The question was why was Aumont pitching in his fifth game in five days? No reason to push that button. Papelbon has also been abused lately, so asking him to get four outs was a little much in that particular situation, given his workload lately.
Jayson, how much credence will voters give to defense when considering Trout vs Cabrera for the AL MVP? To disregard defense is intellectually dishonest IMO.Where do you think Easy E (edwin) finishes in the race? Should get some token votes I hope. Quietest 40 HR season I can recall.
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
I think defense and baserunning are the separators in that debate. Miguel Cabrera is one of the best hitters I've seen in my life. And if I had to pick one player to send to the plate with a game on the line, I'd pick him. But there's no comparison between the impact Trout has on a game with his glove and his baserunning and the impact Cabrera has in those areas. Encarnacion is going to be a fascinating guy to watch. If he's not top five or six in this voting, something's amiss!
Kevin (San Fran)
Wow, I knew Posey's second half had been the best half this year in the league but I didn't realize how statistically historic it had been. Great article, thanks! Where does Posey go from here? I know he came into the ML polished but can he still improve substantially? Power obviously can be improved, but what else? Thanks Mr. Stark
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
What Kevin is referring to is the research I did on Posey's second half. The only other hitters in the last 50 years to hit .390 with double-digit homers and an OBP and SLG as high as his after the break are Bonds, Walker and Brett. Tell you what, if this guy gets better as a hitter than he is right now, that's a scary thought. Tough park to put up power numbers, but it's easier if you're a RH hitter, as he is. So I think there's more there. The worry is that catching beats him up and he wears down. Fortunately, he can always move to first base.
Simple question, Cabrera or Trout?? And if angels miss playoffs and Tigers win central Cabrera shoul definitely win it then right?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
Wrong. I think Trout's impact has been so great, even historic, that just winning the Central wouldn't be enough to propel Cabrera above him in the voting. Not for me. I do factor in winning. But I factor it in this way: If a player's numbers are compiled in the context of a race, whether his team gets in or not, that earns him that extra credit in my eyes. It sure won't be Mike Trout's fault that their bullpen fell apart in a key stretch of the season, or that Ervin Santana and Dan Haren weren't everything they were supposed to be.
Joe (Green Bay)
Brewers or Phillies would have to go 17-2 over the last 19 to take the Wild Card? You think it would take 89 wins? I was thinking more in the 85-87 range.
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Right now coolstandings.com is projecting 86. But if the Cardinals heat up at all, that will change. OK, so maybe they only have to go 15-4. The Phillies haven't won 15 of 19 at any point this year. Tough to project they'll do it now.
Jason (St Louis)
I don't know if this has been discussed by what about Puerto Rico for expansion?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
Not on the radar screen.
Joe (Green Bay)
On the Baseball Today podcast on Wednesday, Eric Karabell and Keith Law discussed the NL MVP race and Braun's candidacy at length. The debated/mentioned that if a voter were to leave Braun off of the ballot entirely, that those voters shouldn't be allowed to cast another ballot. Do you agree? Are they abusing their "power" as voters? (Also, no trivia in R&G today?)
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
Sorry about the trivia. It was a little different edition of Rumblings today, because Dave Schoenfield and I were doing dueling takes on the two MVP races. I wouldn't go so far as to say a voter who left Braun off his ballot should be disqualified. It's America, man. People can vote however they want to vote. That's the deal. But I don't think leaving him off the ballot is justified. I explain why at length in today's column. If somebody wants to debate it, feel free.
Regarding expansion - If the only question is could they support a team, then Brooklyn/North Jersey and Mexico City are clearly able to do so. If you factor in territorial rights....
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
Adding a third team in the New York area isn't a question of whether there's enough population, and enough fans, to support a team. That's obvious. It's all about territorial rights. And there is zero chance the Yankees and Mets would let that happen. Probably less than zero.
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
As for Mexico City, that's been kicked around. I just don't think MLB is ready to expand anywhere at the moment. If that changes, Mexico City will be talked about more than many people think.
I agree that Trout has to get the MVP.... But isn't it incredible that Cabrera has yet to get one? He is consistently amazing year in and out... Reminds me of Pujols when he kept winning MVPs....
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
Great point. He's working his way into the discussion of best player never to win an MVP. I'm still amazed that when we did our franchise player draft, nobody took him!
Re expansion, when you say there is no appetite for expanding to Charlotte or San Antonio, do you mean in MLB or in those cities? Both cities are large enough to support MLB teams.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
I mean in MLB. The Marlins actually looked at both cities before they made their stadium deal, and I've heard they loved San Antonio. But the Rangers and Astros would block that from happening, even though it's harder to argue that's part of their markets than it is to argue that Brooklyn or Newark are part of the Yankees' and Mets' markets.
Michael (St. Louis)
What are your thoughts on Chris Carpenter's potential comeback this season? Does it affect the Cardinals chances?
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
Might be the single biggest X factor in this race -- and maybe the postseason. The Cardinals haven't committed to anything, and their caution tells you it's still unlikely. But if he's physically able to pitch, it will mean he can throw without restrictions. And if Chris Carpenter can throw without restrictions, build up his pitch count and not have 250 innings worth of tread on his tires when they reach October, he could be a major difference-maker.
Why not expand by bringing a team back to Montreal? There has been much in the news about creating a new baseball stadium in Montreal and there is a big corporate rivalry between Rogers (owners of the Jays and partial owners of the Leafs/Raps) and Bell (owners of the Canadiens and partial owners of Leafs/Raps). It seems like it's the right time to bring Expos baseball back.
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
Very interesting. I still think that if the strike hadn't happened in 1994, there would still be a team in Montreal. But let me say this one more time: There's no interest in expanding anywhere within the sport. Not for the foreseeable future anyway. So while talking about all these potential sites is fun, it's also moot.
In a close Cy Young battle, which pitcher would win: pitcher on a playoff team vs pitcher with a historic game during the season (ie no hitter).
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
Neither. Not necessarily anyway. The Cy Young is not the Most Valuable Pitcher award. It's a performance award: Who has pitched the best, period? So playoff teams and no-hitters are only mildly relevant. That's how I've always voted at least.
Fred (Austin, TX)
Never thought I would say this (and it is with great reluctance that I do), but with the ongoing interleague play next year it is time to implement the DH in the NL. They are at a disadvantage now interleague play. The new schedule will make that even worse.
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
I don't think the increase in interleague games from 18 to 20 is the issue that could put this question in play. It's the fact that NL teams are at such a disadvantage in trying to keep and/or sign the Prince Fielders and Albert Pujols of the world, because AL teams can offer them those extra two or three years, knowing they can always stash them at DH late in their careers. Lots of grumbling from NL GMs about that of late.
Mr. Stark - What's your take on the David Wright situation? Don't the Mets have to sign him? I know the financial issues and all, but he needs to spend his career there. No Mets hitter of note (not that there are many) has ever done that.
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
I don't think they have to sign him, Harold. It's not just their choice, you know. It's also his. And beneath the upbeat surface, there are some indications he's not completely convinced they're ready to win any time soon. And to sign him, they don't just need to pay him superstar dollars, they need to convince him they can win during the life of his contract. I think it's 50-50 it gets done, to be honest. Very interesting story to watch this winter.
Dave (Houston, TX)
Given the fact that the Dodgers have slipped out of contention for the NL West title, and are still struggling to score runs and keep pace for the wild card, how much do you think Magic Johnson and Co. are already beginning to regret their decision to take on $225 million in salary from Boston?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
That deal wasn't just about this year. So they won't be happy if they don't get in this year. But a big reason they made that trade is that they didn't like their options on the free-agent market this winter. So they took their chances on Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford for the long haul, versus overspending for, just to pick three names, Josh Hamilton, Kyle Lohse and B.J. Upton.
ZK (London, England)
Ties for wild card spots are going to be crazy to sort out. If teams need to play multiple one-game playoffs for the right to play in another one-game playoff it does become quite a silly situation. Do you happen to know what happens if two teams tie for the first wildcard spot? (I.E. both teams would be the wild card winners anyway) Do they play a one-game playoff to determine who has home advantage for their postseason one-game playoff?
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
If there's a tie for the first wild-card spot and both teams would get in anyway, they'd use head-to-head season records to determine seeding. That's about the only tie that won't be decided on the field, to be honest. Everything else would get nuts. By the way, according to coolstandings, there's more than a 50-percent chance of at least one tie-breaker game and more than an 8-percent chance of a three-way tie.
You're right on David Wright, of course. If he choose to go elsewhere Mets fans would understand. I just mean the Mets need to try to keep him. I just think there's extra value to having a true "Mr. Met" without the large baseball head.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
If they sign him, you're exactly right about why that would happen. They don't just need him on the field. They need him as the face of their franchise.
JS - The thing about the Mets not being ready to win anytime soon. Why is that? Is there a consensus among scouts / baseball people? Shouldn't that team be able to return to being competitive?
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
They're actually going to have a real good rotation if they extend Dickey, and if Harvey and Wheeler stay healthy. But their system is low on position-player options and depth. And they're in significant need of both.
I can't believe how lost all these people are that are bringing up expansion. If anything MLB needs to contract! The quality in baseball is so below what it should be. More players are rushed up that don't belong and many teams are fielding what amounts to minor league players at multiple positions.
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
That's not on the table, either, Kevin. If you'd like to pay all the legal bills of teams breaking their lease because they just got contracted, give Bud Selig a call.
If the two teams tie for the division but one would get the wildcard, do they play for the division title or does it go to head-to-head record?
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
They would play off for the division. Then the loser would go into the wild-card mix. If that team had the same record as another team for the No. 2 wild-card spot, there would then be another tie-breaker. And if there are three teams involved for a division and wild card, it would really get crazy. It would take at least three days to play that off!
All Trout vs. Cabrera. Stats are nice, yes, but where are their teams going to be in a month? The Angels and Tigers are currently both on the outside looking in. Give me Jones, give me Jeter, give me Hamilton.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Wait. You're arguing we shouldn't even consider Trout or Cabrera if their teams don't play in the postseason? You'll have to explain that one to me. There's nothing in the MVP instructions that says we should only consider players on teams that make the postseason. And there shouldn't be.
Charles (San Jose)
Didn't the Astros and Cardinals tie in 2001 and the division winner/wild card was decided by head-to-head record?
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
That's correct. If both teams would make it and it's just about seeding, there's no need to play. What makes it complicated this year is the one-game wild-card round. If two teams are tied and the loser has to play in that game while the winner sits around and sets up its rotation, that has to be decided on the field. That's why the likelihood of tiebreaker games is so much higher now than ever before.
In regards to Cabrera vs Trout, if you took both players off their teams, who would be worse off, Tigers or Angels? I think Detroit would be far worse off, so doesn't that make him a more "valuable" player to his team? Also, have you ever compared their stats when the chips are down? 2-out RISP, or 7th inning or later, Cabrera gets it done in the clutch. Far superior numbers.
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
That might be the best argument for Cabrera that's been made. I said earlier that if I had to pick one hitter to send to the plate with a game to be won, I'd pick him. And it's true that the Tigers' supporting cast isn't as deep -- or at least hasn't played as well. And that's how some people define "valuable." But that doesn't mean Trout hasn't had a historic impact on his team -- and made that impact in more facets of the game than Cabrera. That's how I see it, anyway.
Jayson, I always read you or another sportswriter telling us that winning guarantees MVP or this and that...care to explain that to Andre Dawson 1987 or A-Rod 2003?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
When have I ever said or written that, Eric? It's a factor. It doesn't guarantee anybody wins any award.
I know the Bucs are going to end with a dissapointing final record, but this year has been progress, just like last year was. I'm let down by the finish, but I think there's a lot of great reasons to feel like things are going in the right direction. Plus... best ballpark in the MLB.
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
I was talking with a friend of mine who's a Pirates fan yesterday. And that was one of the points he made. If they finished with exactly the same record, only they had a good second half and lousy first half, think how encouraged everyone would be. That doesn't mitigate the disappointment if they don't make the postseason and don't have a winning record. But this team is definitely more "for real" than last year's was.
ZK (London, England)
I suppose this discussion will only really be settled next year once we've had a taste of it, but I think having about five or six different one-game playoffs to get to the wildcard playoff would detract somewhat from the new postseason format. Not to mention every other team already safely in the postseason would be waiting around a while (and the Colorado Rockies of 2007 among other teams know what harm that can do...)
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
You think it would detract from it? I think it would be awesome. If we had a bunch of games after the regular season that were all win-or-go-home, how would that not be tremendous theater? The travel would be insane. But the drama would be amazing.
Chris (New York)
Where do you think Greinke will land next year? Any chance he's back in Milwaukee?
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
I think the Angels are determined to sign him, to be honest with you. I'd be shocked if they don't. They didn't trade away what they traded away to rent him for two months. Put it that way.
easdrobert (miami, fl)
Jayson, can you answer me my Marlins question? Who do you think we'll sign this offseason? Bourn or trade for Headley?
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
I get the impression third base is more of a priority than center field. But there are also fewer options. The Padres aren't trading Chase Headley unless they get a Mat Latos-type package, or more. They've made that clear. So don't hold your breath on him.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Wow. That hour flew by. Let's take one more.
Fred (Austin, TX)
It may be true that Cabrera has better stats in the late innings, etc., but could it be that Trout's over all play in those early innings may reduce the need for later inning heroics? Trout is the better BASEBALL player this year.
Justin (Redlands, CA)
And it sure won't be Trout's fault that the Angels happen to play in the best division in baseball this season, while the Tigers play in arguably the worst.
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
I posted both of those because it helps me make one last MVP point. There's no magic MVP formula. It isn't just about WAR or any other stat. It isn't just about winning. As a voter, I've always factored in EVERYTHING. And all of the points you folks have brought up are part of the deliberations. But on balance, there's not much of a case for any player other than Trout winning unless he goes 0 for 70 over the last three weeks.
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions. Fun time of year. See you down the road in Chat Land.