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 (1:03 PM)
Hey there! Sorry I'm a couple of minutes late. Andy Pettitte's retirement got me slightly out of sync! Lots to talk about, so let's get rolling.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Ok, I will start with I am a Dodgers fan so my question/comment has that behind it. And I was not all that excited that they "pool" celebrated. But if the D-Backs did truly ask them not to celebrate on the field, and likely the crowd had left by the time they hit the pool - was what they did horrible or just kinda stupid? Thanks
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
What an overblown controversy! I know the root of it is that the Diamondbacks and Dodgers clearly don't have a lovefest going on. But it's time to lighten up. If a bunch of guys jump into a swimming pool in an empty stadium, how is that disrespectful? As I wrote in my Face of Baseball pieces recently, it's time for the culture of this sport to change, and allow the sorts of expression of personality you see in the other sports all the time. Just one more prime example.
Peter Huisking (Alpharetta, GA)
Who Wins the NL Cy Young....Kershaw, Wainwright?
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
You left out Jose Fernandez. But unless Kershaw gives up 10 runs in each of his next two starts, isn't he practically a lock? To have a sub-2.00 ERA in this day and age is an amazing feat. He's the Best Pitcher in Baseball. And I haven't seen any evidence this year that would convince me otherwise.
Which is more important - home field in your league or resting your weary? Should the Sox sit Victorino, Pedroia, Napoli, etc., even if it costs them the best record in the AL?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
I know that statistically, home field matters less in baseball than it does in any other sport. But I think it matters to that team, in that park. There's a special energy in Fenway that that group feeds off. And I think it's important that they try to wrap up home field. They're in a position where, if they win the next two series, they can do that AND rest their players. Plus remember, they'll have four days off after the season ends anyway, because of the Wild Card game.
Juan Estrada (Bogotá, Colombia)
Hey Jayson! Nice WC game article! Little question, does this year Division Series will have the old format 2-2-1, or last year format 2-3? Thanks!
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
Back to 2-2-1, the way it ought to be. They always said the 2-3 format was for last year only because they had to cram those extra Wild Card Games into a postseason schedule that wasn't originally designed to accommodate them. Probably should have mentioned that somewhere in that piece. But I did write about it a week or so ago, after the postseason schedule was announced.
Unless every player on the Reds comes down with plague I'm not counting on a miracle playoff berth for the Nats, but can we at least take solace in this winning streak showing us what this team -- basically the same one we'll have next year -- is capable of?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
What a strange season that team has had. They kept waiting for one of these streaks all year. They just waited too long to get rolling. I'm still not sure why the pieces didn't fit better this year than they did -- and neither are they. Still a very dangerous team next year, and built to be good for quite a while.
Do the Braves need a #1 pitcher to truly contend?
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
Well, they might wind up with the best record in the league, and even the best record in baseball. So obviously they can "contend." I think your question really is: Can they win the World Series with this rotation? Well, here's my theory on that: To win it all, you have to be able to dominate one end of the game. So if you don't have dominating starters, if you have a bullpen so good that you win every game in which you take a lead, that works, too. I think the Braves have that. But do they have trouble matching up with, say, Kershaw and Greinke? No doubt.
Don (Weirton, WV)
Jayson, thanks for always being the voice of Baseball Reason! My question: How much does the Pirates finish (ie, Wild Card or Division Winner) affect McCutchen's MVP chances?
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
I think he's the favorite at this point. So only a total collapse, where they somehow got passed by the Nationals and missed the postseason entirely, would seem to jeopardize that. And even then he still ought to be the favorite. Story lines always seem to play into the MVP voting, probably more than they ought to. But Andrew McCutchen fits every definition of an MVP any voter looks for. He has the traditional numbers. He has the modern metrics. He's an amazing defender. He's a leader. He plays harder than anyone on the field. And if you took him out of that team's lineup, they wouldn't be anywhere near the same team. So unless they lose them all and he goes 0 for 40, I wouldn't worry if I were you.
Doug (Frisco, TX)
Time to put you on the spot. Who are the AL Wild card teams and do we have a playoff to choose the WildCard teams.
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
I think it'll be Rays-Indians, and there will be a Cleveland-Texas tie-breaker game the day after the season. Mark it down!
Where do you see Roy Halladay signing with next year?
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
That's a really interesting question. A few weeks ago, I was convinced the Phillies would try to get him signed before the end of the season to a deal with, say, a $5-million base and a ton of incentives. But September hasn't played out the way they thought or he thought. He hasn't given anyone on any team any assurance that he can get healthy enough to be a major contributor next year. He's let some unhappiness with the way he's been treated, written about and talked about seep through. And I know he wants to win, so he'd clearly have interest in a team that gives him a better chance to do that. But I can still see him signing with the Phillies, with the understanding that, if they're not in contention next July, they'll promise to trade him someplace where he has an opportunity to win a World Series.
Les (East Windsor, NJ)
Well, since you opened w/Pettitte: To me, he is in the Mussina, Kaat, Tommy John category of very good, not an HOF'er. plus, throw in the PED use, and I say no, and I'm a huge Yankee fan. Your thoughts on AP's career?
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
I'm with you on this. He's in that not-quite-a-Hall-of-Famer group for me. The positives: Never had a losing season! A .627 career winning percentage -- ninth-best of any LHP in the expansion era. Most postseason starts and wins in history. And tremendous durability and dependability. But . . . only one top-three Cy Young finish. Made the top 10 in his league in WHIP only twice in 18 seasons. Only five seasons with an ERA under 3.50. Just 6.6 strikeouts per 9 innings. So he's had a tremendous career. I think there's great value in a guy who was very good for a really long time. But was he Hall of Fame great? Not quite.
Nobody(exept maybe a few people) likes the one game playoff game are there any answers? Say a 3 game series,then you have other teams waiting though?
Regarding the Wild Card article, Why not make the Wild Card a 2 of 3 game series like it is in the regular season and have the 1st WC team be the home team in all the games. It adds even more emphasis on wanting that 1st WC seed over the 2nd. The Astros could beat the Red Sox in 1 game. I think it's an easy fix to a silly problem. I understand the time constraints, but I think eliminating travel days would solve the issue.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
This is for both of you. I explained in the column today why there's no impetus at all toward making that Wild Card round 2 of 3. It just takes too long. And nobody is in favor of making the first-place teams sit around for a week, waiting for the wild cards to duke it out. So this is the deal -- at least until a 100-win team loses some year to, say, an 86-win team. That could change the discussion!
Rob (Lime Rock, CT)
I assume Liriano is the smart choice to start a WC game against the Reds, would you start Cole game 1 of the NLDS? He's been great and getting better. Very impressive for a rookie
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
The way their rotation is lined up, looks as if Liriano is on track to start that wild-card game or a tiebreaker game. Then I'd expect Burnett to pitch Game 1 of the LDS, but a lot depends on what it takes for them to get to that game. They have a lot of must-win games coming between now and the NLDS!
Bennie (Ft. Lauderdale)
Jayson - For the people who don't like the one-game playoff, pay attention this weekend. KC vs Texas and Balt vs Tampa - these are playoff series' to be watched!
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
Absolutely. These really are playoff games. They're absolute must-wins for the Royals and Orioles, and pretty close for Texas and Tampa Bay. The answer to every complaint about the one-game playoff is: "You had six months to win your division and not have to worry about playing in this game." And part of that journey includes winning huge series like these two.
More likely HOFer: a. Pettitte b. Helton c. Vlad d. none of the above
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
If I had to rank their chances, I'd go Vlad, Pettitte, Helton. But my guess is that none of them makes it. They should all hang around the ballot for a long time, though. If they don't, the voters didn't give them serious enough consideration.
Pettite has 19 post season wins, but in 44 games started. That's 43% of his starts or in context of a regular season about 14 wins with his 3.81 ERA. Good numbers against better competition but he leads in post season victories because he's had more opportunity than probably anybody in history.
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
You're correct about that. But his team won 25 of those 44 games, including nine in a row at one point. So to me, what he was in the postseason was exactly what he was over the course of his career: Tough, trustworthy, dependable but rarely dominating. I saw him find a way to keep his team in a lot of postseason games when he didn't have great stuff. And that means something. The moment was never too big for him. But for pure October domination, give me Schilling or Smoltz.
What's your argument against Helton for HoF? Is it because he played in Coors his whole career?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
No, actually. That will be the argument most voters will use. But if they'd look closely, they might notice he had a better career OBP on the ROAD than Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew and a bunch of Hall of Famers. What would keep me from voting for him is the dramatic tailoff in the second half of his career. His first seven seasons, he was on a clear Hall of Fame track. His next eight were good but rarely great. So it wasn't quite enough -- and that's no insult!
They always point to the schedule as the reason as to why the 1 game playoff is necessary. Why not have all games played in the first wild card winners park (more incentive to win the first wild card) and play a double header on day 1 with a game 3 to follow the next day if necessary? That takes only one extra day and gives teams even more incentive to win the division than play for a WC.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
I heard all that talk while I was doing the reporting for that column. But that's not happening. If there's a best-of-three, no owner would ever vote to play an entire series, potentially, in the other team's park. And there's also no chance you'll ever see a postseason doubleheader -- in any round. Those are fun ideas, but they're not even on the radar screen of the people who would have to sign off on them.
Do you think the retirement of Rivera and Pettite has any impact on Jeter's decision to play next year or beyond next year?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
You'll notice that Jeter hasn't announced HIS retirement. He wants to play. He's on a mission to play. And the absence of those two guys is not going to keep him from trying to play. It's pretty much that simple. It's just a matter of whether he can ever get healthy enough to play.
Jayson, Do you see any possibility that McCann stays in ATL? And going back to an earlier question, should the Braves try to find a true #1 Pitcher in the offseason?
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
I don't see any chance. They see him getting too many years and dollars to fit in their budget. That's the sense I get. And he clearly gets that vibe, too. I'm sure the Braves will see what's out there in the starting-pitcher market. But do you see them giving up what it would take to trade for David Price? I doubt that heavily.
Why don't analyst believe in my Braves???? 95% of their analysis is all negative.....it's frustrating as a fan...I mean, look at all there injuries this year, yet still contending for best record in NL...
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
I just made that point a half-hour ago! They have their issues. And every scout I talk to worries that their built more for the long haul than the short series. But it would be a huge mistake to write them off. Huge.
Do Price or Stanton get traded this offseason?
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
I'll vote Price yes, Stanton no.
Isnt the issue with the Braves the very high rate of strikeouts? That would seem to be elevated against elite pitching that they will see in the playoffs. For an example, look what Tim Lincecum did to them in 2010.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
That's one of the issues. Absolutely. Are they going to be able to score enough runs against good pitching? They can. But all that swinging and missing makes for a dangerous October formula.
All this scuttlebutt about the Rockies trading Tulo...what do you think the odds really are?
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
Very, very, very, very unlikely.
Rob (Ashland, Ore)
Do you find it slightly awkward for Pettitte to announce his retirement before the Yankees have their planned celebration of Mariano's exit? Aren't they obligated to have an Andy Pettitte Day now?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
I don't think it's awkward at all. I think it's perfect. I think it's poetic for those two guys to have one more big moment together in that park. It'll still be Mariano's day. But it's fitting that he shares some of that stage with Andy, because they've shared so much for so long.
Bill (Cambridge, MA)
If you had to choose one closer on any of the potential playoff teams who would you choose and why?
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
Craig Kimbrel. Best closer in baseball. See my blog the other day? No pitcher in history has had an ERA under 1.35 two seasons in a row -- until he came along.
Can Cueto contribute to the Reds as a starter if they make the LDS?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
That's still up in the air. He did go 82 pitches the other day, so he can probably build up his pitch count enough. But the next two starts will determine whether he's ready to start a playoff game or they use him kind of the way the Giants used Tim Lincecum last October.
I have heard your argument about winning one end of the game but didnt the Giants show over the last few years that a dominant bullpen with a manager that knows how to use the pieces and get the right match ups is really the best weapon to have as you can shorten the game to 5-6 innings.
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
No doubt that's true -- except they also dominated the front end of the game. Their starters handed a lot of leads to the manager and those relievers. So the question, I guess, is: How do you think Minor-Medlen-Teheran-Wood compares to Cain-Lincecum-Bumgarner-Vogelsong-Zito. Edge Giants. Right?
How about some love for the A's? Nobody is talking about them but they just keep winning. Is this finally the year they get over the hump?
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
The most overlooked great team in baseball. Two years in a row. Wouldn't shock me at all if they played in the World Series.
Andrew (St. Louis)
Although it's going to be very tough for the Royals to make the playoffs considering how loaded the AL is do you see this team being a force to dealt with next season?
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
I think they've made big progress. Important progress. But replacing Santana in that rotation is a major challenge. And you wonder if that bullpen can possibly be this good again.
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Wow. This hour has zoomed by. I only have time for one more. Sorry.
Mike P (Greater KC)
The royals are 3 back with 10 to play and the last 7 on the road against the Mariners and White Sox.... What are their chances of making the playoffs? Seeing many similarities with this team to the 07-08 Brewers that Ned Yost led before being fired..
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Their chances are slimmer than "3 back with 10 to play" makes them look, because they have so many teams to pass. They probably need to sweep Texas. If they don't, they need three teams to have a disastrous final week, and even then they still probably have to win out. So what are the odds of that? Not good.
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
Thanks to everybody who checked in. We had some fun debates - on Hall of Fame, October and lots more. Great questions! See you down the road in Chat Land.