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 (1:07 PM)
Hey, sorry I'm late. Had another assignment that ran long. Let's get started.
All of Pittsburgh (Well...duh, Pittsburgh)
When is it safe to believe? Now? July 4th? November 1st?
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
Best question of the year! When you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner and you thank the Pirates for ending The Streak, that sounds about safe. I really think this is the year as long as the pitching stays healthy. I'm not sure we can describe this is an elite lineup. But the Pirates, as I said last week, do a great job with pitchers and deliveries, and it's showing up. Their starters give them a chance to win every night. And when they get a lead, their bullpen makes sure they win those games. I see no reason why that should change, barring health issues.
Bawb (Fairview, UT)
Loved reading your presentation on the long and short of home runs to this point in the season! Why do you think it is that teams are willing to stick with a guy like Dunn & Uggla? Is it driven by their salaries or do they really feel the long ball carries that much value?
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
Thanks! That was a fun piece to do. Obviously, money is a big part of it. And of course, there was a reason they invested that money. Because of the long ball, these guys still have a certain presence in the lineup. But at some point, there's only so long you can just automatically pencil players like this into any lineup. If they don't start making more contact, might be time for both their managers to pick the days they play and don't play with a little more attention to match-ups, not paychecks.
Don't know if he'd participate in the derby, but watching Gattis take BP is one of the craziest things I've ever seen. Too strong.
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
That guy was born to hit in a Derby. When I was doing my Derby picks, it was really hard to leave him out. But not sure he'll be an all-star, not that that should matter when it comes to the Derby.
If Westbrook and Carpenter don't come back can STL win the division with 3 rookies in the starting rotation?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
They can absolutely win the division because all these young arms are for real. The question is whether they can win in October. I'm a big believer in guys with postseason track records. So a Carpenter comeback in particular would be huge. Still not ready to believe in that one yet, though.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Have the Angels turned the corner and become the team many anticipated when they signed all the big name players to the roster?
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
I think offensively, they've turned the corner. Last I looked, they were leading the big leagues in home runs this month, even with Hamilton and Pujols not hitting the way their paychecks say they should. And Weaver's return has mammoth impact on that team, on and off the field. Still don't know if they have the pitching depth to come from so far back, though.
There are a lot of dumb rules in baseball, but how crazy was it that the Royals/Cardinals game had to either wait 4.5 hrs to complete 6 outs or revert back to the 8th inning score and the Cardinals would win?
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
Yeah, you think it might be time to look at that rule again, or what? It was an impossible situation, no matter what the rules were. And those umpires did what they had to do. But 4 1/2-hour rain delays in the ninth inning do nobody any good.
How much of a difference do you see George Brett making for the Royals?
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
I'm really not sure how to answer that question. There's no bigger admirer of George Brett than me. His passion. His intelligence. His feel for the game and the people who play it. They're all great attributes in that job. And there's no harm in trying a new voice, when you have a roster full of high-ceiling position players who haven't been getting any better. But is George the answer? He's never been there, done this. So the jury is out, I think.
Are the Yankees really going to be better with Teixeira over Overbay? Overbay's 8 HR's and a .260 average through May is better production than they would get out of Teixeira.
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
We listed their stats side-by-side on Baseball Tonight two nights ago. And Teixeira's 2012 numbers were indistinguishable from Overbay's 2013 numbers. But look, you know and I know Teixeira has to play. The question is how they continue to get Overbay at-bats. He's been one of the best stories of the season.
Your HR article is great, but Chris Davis isn't one of your must sees in the Home Run Derby, Pourquoi???
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
Trick question. In the column, I only picked six. And he was the last guy to miss my cut. But in our staff picks, we got to pick four per league. And he was in there. So am I covered? I say yes!
If and when full instant replay comes to baseball, do you think MLB will hire a fifth "eye in the sky" umpire to give an instantaneous ruling, or copy the NFL "under the hood" model? I hope to DiMaggio it's the former, because games are long enough as they are.
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
They're working on that as we speak. Last I heard, there was increasing sentiment to go to a fifth umpire on each crew, for all sorts of reasons. But that's far from a final answer. I'm with you, though. That's the best, most efficient way to do this.
What do we make out of the Mets sweeping the Yankees? Are the Mets better than we thought, are the Yankees worse than we thought, or somewhere in between?
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
I don't know what the heck to make of it. Has there been anything more shocking all season than that? The Yankees haven't lost more than two games in a row at any point when they've played in their own league. So I can't say anyone saw that coming. But I think there's been a general feeling within the game that the Yankees weren't as good as their record has made them look. And some of those flaws showed up this week. But even having said that, that still was as hard to believe as anything that's happened in 2013.
Ken (Update NY)
Jason, Do you think the Phillies will fire Charlie Manuel before the end of the year, and bring in Ryan Sandberg ?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I don't get any sense at all that's in the works. At the end of the season, that's a far more likely scenario. In mid-season? Very doubtful.
If we add replay to baseball, can we please put it in the rules that managers can't come out to argue? There's nothing more frustrating than having a play reviewed and having the manager still argue
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
That's already in the replay rules on home runs. The manager can ask for a review. But if he argues after the review, I believe that's an automatic ejection.
Julio (Dominican Republic)
What's wrong with BJ Upton? I know he's been a streaky hitter, but man this is insane! I'm aware that because of his huge contract, he has to be almost everyday in the lineup, but at some point, the Braves need to sit him more often. Do you think a platoon with Schafer is in the making?
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Seems like I answer this every week. B.J. has always been a streaky player. Right now, he's tying himself up. So he has way too many holes. And his swing is much too long. I think Greg Walker is one of the best hitting coaches in the business. So they're committed to fixing this. It's the first year of that contract. So really, what choice do they have? If it goes on for another month or two, get back to me. But for now, they just need to find a way to fix him.
I think managers should have one or two challenges a game like the NFL. What do you think?
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
I'd rather get all the calls right than just get one or two a game. Especially if there's a fifth umpire in the booth who can quickly signal the crew on the field when they've messed one up. But Bud Selig continues to worry about 12 calls a night getting reviewed. So a challenge system is still on the table.
Can you please explain why Mitchell Boggs was put into that game yesterday? I need to know, I can not think of a good reason.
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
I wasn't there. But I know they were encouraged that his trip to the minors had gotten him on the right track. Nevertheless, excellent question. What would that team's record be if he'd been better? Wow.
Is it completely crazy to think the Pirates have 6 possible all stars? (Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, AJ Burnett, Jeff Locke, Jason Grilli, and Mark Melancon)
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
I don't know about "completely." But as deserving as all those guys may be, here's my prediction: That is NOT going to happen. Just be grateful we've finally passed the point where the Pirates' only all-star is whichever reliever doesn't have an ERA over 4.00.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Can the A's catch the Rangers and contend for homefield advantage in the AL playoffs?
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
Why not? So much pitching depth on that team, as Buster wrote this morning. And they always play better in the second half. The A's are the best-kept secret in baseball.
If the 5th umpire or a centralized booth in New York is reviewing the play anyway how would 12 reviews in a game be detrimental? Most fans know in 30 seconds if a call was wrong, and within a minute the umpire will have seen 3 replays and reversed a blown call. If they really care about speeding up the game, the real issue is the use of relievers. You never used to 3 relievers used in an inning to play lefty-righty like you do now.
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
By "never," do you mean in 1976? Because it's sure worked like this for a good 20 years, I think. What are you proposing - that managers only be allowed one pitching change per inning? What's next? Hockey teams can't change lines in the last five minutes? I don't see a way around this one, unfortunately. This is baseball in the 21st century.
So is it possible the Mets could have 2 Aces with Harvey and Wheeler or is it more likely Havey is the Ace and Wheeler is a 1.5 type?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
In terms of pure stuff, people who have seen them both still tell me they think Wheeler has a chance to be better than Harvey. But having watched Harvey as much as I have in this setting, I find that almost incomprehensible. If they're both true aces, the Mets could have something special on their hands.
BILL (WILLOW GROVE, PA)
It seems like everyone was down on Dom Brown (Fans, Media, Scouts) and now he is on fire. What has changed and is he still the prospect we all thought a few years ago?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
He's changed his whole set-up at the plate. So his swing is much quicker, and he's able to use his exceptional hand-eye coordination now. Also, he's worked his butt off to have a plan every night. And you're seeing the results of that, too. Excellent approach and pitch recognition. It's bizarre that I can say that when he hasn't walked all month, I know. But one big reason is he's squaring up so many balls, he's not fouling pitches off and getting deep into counts.
John (New York)
Im not sure how you feel but I hate it when people us the argument "the game is already to long". Baseball takes roughly the same amount of time as football but you never hear anyone complain about Football being to long. If they get the call right that;s all i care about true baseball fans dont care about 5 or 10 extra minutes a game.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
I'm with you, John. It's not about time of game. It's about pace of game. And that's Bud's big fear with replay, is reviewing way too many plays and taking way too long to decide. So my theory is: If the replay ump can clearly see the call was wrong, he fixes it as quickly as the technology allows. If he's not sure, the call on the field stands. As long as this is done with that kind of efficiency, what's the issue?
Charles (San Jose)
How much do you believe in Patrick Corbin going forward?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
I'm in. One of the most unhittable breaking balls in the sport.
Do you guys at ESPN Home Run Tracker know how many homeruns Miguel Cabrera would have hit if he played in say,Yankee Stadium.
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
Go check out the site. It's awesome. You can place an overlay over every one of Cabrera's home runs to see if they'd have been out in Yankee Stadium or any other stadium. Try it. It's more fun than working! Just don't tell your boss I said that.
Any hope for replay expansion at least in the playoffs, maybe w/a centralized replay room to make sure each game is judged by the same standard? Sure would hate to see the parade of missed calls continue in October.
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
None, barring something unforeseen. I've been told they don't want to play the postseason under different conditions than the season. And they don't want to break in a whole new system in October that hasn't been tried under regular-season conditions.
Doc Terminus (Passamaquoddy)
What do you think of a "flop rule" for baseball? If replay shows a pitch didn't hit a batter, but he acted as though it did, you throw a little fine their way.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
This is a hilarious idea. I guess my question is: If you make gamesmanship like this illegal, would you make all types of gamesmanship illegal? I think this is part of the fun of the sport. This isn't golf, where tradition and etiquette have made that sort of thing taboo from the beginning. So I'd say: Fun idea. No chance it happens.
Initial thoughts on Wacha?
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Wow. As advertised. Live, mid-90s fastball, with a clear feel for changing speeds. Pretty good No. 1 pick!
Do you think the Mets have a legitimate shot to 'contend" for the playoffs next year, or are they still a full 2 years away?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Next year? Tell me how they'll spend their money this winter, and which impact position players they'll spend it on, and I'll have a better idea. They're very close to having an October kind of pitching staff. But they still need to upgrade at half the positions on the field, at least. Tough to do!
Sam (Wisconsin )
Can Miguel Cabrera hold his batting average and RBI count for the rest of the season?
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
I wouldn't put anything past that guy. But do I think he's going to hit close to .380, with 180-plus RBIs? I'll take the under!
Are the Orioles going to make a move for a arm before the deadline? Do you think they can stay in the division race?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
They'd love to find a top-of-the-rotation arm. And I think they have the pieces to make that kind of deal. But it's way too early to pick out names. It isn't even June yet.
What do you make of the plans to renovate Wrigley?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
If the alternative is A) having the Cubs move or B) having the place just disintegrate at its current rate, then I'm in favor. If the renovation can be handled in a way that works for everyone - team, fans, rooftop owners, taxpapers and neighbors - which is what happened at Fenway, what's the down side? I love Wrigley. I want it to be there forever.
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
Hate to announce this, but I have an interview lined up at 2 o'clock eastern, so I only have time for one more. Sorry.
What's with the Nationals? I know it's early, but they're making it rather easy for the Braves at the moment to continue their lead and lose a win-able game here and there.
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
I still think they're going to make the playoffs. They're not going to wind up in the bottom five in baseball in runs scored, are they? Strasburg and Gio are better than they've pitched. Their bullpen is better than this, although they need a lefthander. And their defense is better than this. Many, many games left to play. I still expect to see the team we all predicted in spring training that we'd see. Who's with me?
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. Great topics, as always. See you down the trail in Chat Land!