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 (1:02 PM)
What's happening, Sports Nation? Been a long time since I've chatted. Looking forward to it. So let's get started!
With the advent of replay I am already missing the umpire manager arguments. Was this a part of MLB's strategy or just a byproduct of the review process. I miss Weaver and Pinella entertainment already!!!
Jayson Stark (1:03 PM)
I don't know that there will never be another argument in the history of baseball. But I've said many times the most unbreakable record in sports is now Bobby Cox's ejection record!
Hey Jayson - I keep hearing writers suggest that the Tigers should still sign Drew, but I don't think the Tigers would be giving up the pick, especially after giving up Lombardozzi for Gonzales. Any chance that Drew would just wait until after the draft then sign a large one year deal?
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
I think there's a definite chance he signs a one-year deal after the draft. But it seems to me that if the Tigers wanted to go that route, they already would have done it. They've given up picks in the past, remember, and done it late, and done it for Scott Boras clients. But when they trade a real player for Alex Gonzalez, it's telling us something!
Dan (New York)
Is there any reason for optimism about the Mets' bullpen?
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
Boy, tough question. Well, the odds are only 50-50 that Parnell needs Tommy John, not 99-1. So I guess that's a reason for optimism. But I've been hearing scouts and hitters say for weeks there just isn't enough stuff, depth or reliability in that bullpen. So it's not like we're all just overreacting to three bad games. Right?
With Kemp coming off of the DL today, what do you think we will see out of him this year? Do you expect 20+ HR out of him, or is his power gone permanently?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
I have no idea what to expect from him anymore. And neither do the Dodgers. He hasn't shown the ability to use the whole field, drive the ball the other way like he used to or even stay on the field for a long time now. So it's up to him to show us he can still be That Guy.
Dan (New York)
Jayson, there's been some talk of labor unrest once the current CBA expires. How can this be? The sport has never been healthier, players and owners are making tons of money, and the sport has more parity than any other major sport. Small market teams are competitive even on small payrolls. How could there possibly be a work stoppage?
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
Dan, you're getting yourself too worried too soon on this front, I think. But I admit there are some worrisome forces converging out there: Local cable money for big-market teams is getting revenues out of whack again. . . . The new draft and international signings rules seem slanted against small markets. . . . Bud Selig potentially retiring and unleashing more division among owners. . . . The sad passing of Michael Weiner and the uncertainty about what that means for the players' union. Lots of stuff that could be trouble. But again, it's early!
Regarding replay, it seems to me that they made one critical mistake: out of fear over delays, they limited the amount of reply. Whereas, it seems like the real threat of time wasting is managers slowly walking out to buy time for their video guys. Why not make everything reviewable, eliminate challenges, & get rid of that stalling?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
I've never been a fan of the challenge system. And we're seeing now that it actually takes longer to review plays this way than if you just had a replay ump looking at every play at the game and signalling the crew on the field instantaneously when something needs fixing. I think MLB was afraid of A) 67 replays a night and five-hour games, and B) the cost of hiring 17 new umpires, one for every crew. But I hope they'll look at that again. It's a better system than this.
Jayson, the video review in the Cards-Reds game yesterday (the Holliday-Hamilton-Bruce pinball play) made me wonder how well MLB has thought through some of the instant-replay implications. What would happen on a play like that if the umps get it wrong and the players on the field keep playing in reliance on the on-field signal? Say the umps had ruled it a catch and the runner on first had gone back to first and Bruce had (for some reason) thrown the ball to second -- would that have been a force play? I predict you are going to have some good columns to write about unintended consequences. Thanks for the chat.
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
Greg, there's no doubt this is the trickiest part of replay - trying to figure out what would have happened if the play had been called right in the first place. Still can't figure out why that play was a single. And if we ever have a 9-6 forceout because of replay, I promise I WILL write all about it. Incredibly, that's not an insane scenario.
I think you may be overstating the length and severity of Matt Kemp's decline. I mean he still posted a .905 OPS in 2012. He had a bad year last year certainly, but to say you have no idea if he can play anymore seems crazy to me.
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
Check his numbers since May of 2012 and tell me this hasn't been a fairly long down period. I didn't say I had no idea if he can play anymore, by the way. I just said I had no idea what kind of player he'll be when he comes back. And the Dodgers don't, either.
Does the NL East have 3 of the worst teams in baseball? Washington and Atlanta should cruise to 95 wins each
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
I actually disagree with that, Ryan. The Marlins have already shown us they're not going to be one of the worst teams in baseball. Pitching is too good. I love the young outfield. And they're clearly deeper this year. They won't come close to losing 100. That's my prediction.
Ed (Queens Village)
What do you want to see from Tanaka in his first start?
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
I can't wait to watch him, period. Saw him in spring training. Loved the way he mixed pitches, competed and used that incredible split to get swings and misses. But this is where it gets interesting. Teams are gathering more info on him with every start. I'll be fascinated to see if anyone can show signs of "figuring him out," or if that's even possible. He's must-see TV tonight.
I was very impressed with Mark Buhrle's performance Wednesday night. I know e is getting up there in years but is 15 win performance this year a possibility?
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
I've told him myself I think he's the most consistent pitcher in the history of baseball. He has pretty much exactly the same season every year. Wins 13. ERA between 3.60 and 4.20. Throws his 200 innings. Never goes on the D.L. It's amazing, really. Anyone out there remember anybody who's had a career like him? I really can't.
New Question. How long do you think the Mike Trout craze will last? Will he live up to his hype for a longer period of time?
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
Wait. It's a "craze?" I don't see this as just "hype." This is real, man. He's had two seasons unlike anything we've ever witnessed from a player his age. And there's zero sign it's fluky, or about to end any time soon. So this is no fad, Brock. This is about the best player in baseball proving his greatness every night. And some of us noticing!
Dan (New York)
Andy Pettitte was similarly reliable.
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
Not a bad call. Had more ups and downs than Buehrle, though.
Mike Trout (LA)
How long did the Jeter craze last?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
Exactly. Only lasted like two decades. Clearly a passing thing.
Are the Marlins going to finish ahead of the Phillies in the NL East?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
I picked them third, ahead of both the Phillies and Mets. Call me crazy!
What do you think of Hyun-Jin Ryu. No one seems to mention him as an elite type pitcher but he did have a top-15 ERA last year, and he has started off this year with 12 scoreless. Is he as good as his numbers so far have indicated?
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Way, way up there on my all-underrated team.
Greg Maddux was pretty consistent
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
I've heard that. But again, in a different way than Buehrle. Maddux was consistent at the top of his profession. There's never been a time when Mark Buehrle was considered the best pitcher in baseball. He just does what he does over and over and over again. Know what I mean?
BigRedBird (Joplin MO)
Is there anyway Wacha cab sneak up and take the Cy Young award now that Kershaw will misss a month?
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
Sure. That Cy Young race is wide open now -- assuming Jose Fernandez doesn't run away with it. Wacha isn't even the only Cardinal in that conversation, is he? That Adam Wainwright is pretty good.
If the Rangers are still in it by June then they will win the division, right? With all those reinforcements coming back they could be in for a big second half.
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I see the Rangers as being in kind of the same mode as the Yankees were last year -- just trying to survive until the reinforcements arrive. Whether that means they're a lock to win the division when they get guys back depends on the rest of the division, though. Don't you think? The A's haven't been real lucky on the health front, either.
Bonifacio is on pace for almost 600 hits this season. Can he keep up that pace?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
I see him tailing off and winding up with 512. Give or take 400.
Is Jonathan Papelbon officially out of gas? Do you think there's any chance he gets back to the form he was a few years ago, or are the Phillies doomed to set a record for blown saves this season?
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
I don't know if this is official or not. But his fastball velocity is down 5 miles per hour from his days in Boston. The hitters take that split now like they know it's coming. And it's tough to figure out what his out pitch is. If it really is just mechanical, as he said, it's time to get that delivery into the shop ASAP.
Roger (Miami, FL)
Any chance the Marlins have this year's MVP (Stanton) and Cy Young (Fernandez)? Especially if Marlins upset everyone and sneak in for Wild Card spot, I think Stanton's a lock.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Always enjoy handicapping the awards races -- four days into the season! But if your scenario holds, I can't see why both of those guys wouldn't be in the conversation. Remember, though, Stanton hasn't exactly been a 155-game-a-year machine.
I know teams hate to eat money, but can you see a point, where the Phils say enough is enough and let Papelbon go if he is not effective and not a positive guy in the clubhouse? I know that is a lot of money
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
I don't know where this is leading. I really don't. As I said last night on Baseball Tonight, this has been going on a while. He's blown 8 of his last 24 save opportunities. Craig Kimbrel has blown 8 of his last 103. This could go in a million different directions at this point. But I don't see them just chomping on $25 million and waving sayonara any time soon. I know that.
Rob (Phoenix, AZ)
What do you see for Paul Goldschmidt - continuing improvement and consistently a top player, or regression this year? What does your crystal ball say for him the next couple of years?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
Real deal. Not just a great talent, but a totally dedicated guy who wants to be great and works at it. A star for a long time. That's my read.
As far as replay goes, why not do what the NFL does and make all scoring plays reviewable, regardless of the time of the game? The call at the plate in the Giants/Dbacks game is the perfect example. Bochy had already used his challenge so he could not have it reviewed and the game ended up being a 1 run victory for the Dbacks.
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
I'm fine with that. If they want to stick with the challenge system, that's an excellent idea. It's just not acceptable now to have games decided by calls at the plate that are clearly wrong and are not reviewed for any reason.
What do you think is the more unbreakable record - Joe D's hit streak or Cal Ripken's game streak?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
Uh, yes! Nobody has gotten within two weeks of catching DiMaggo in over 35 years. But I'll still go with Cal's record, just because it would take so long for anyone to be both that lucky and indestructible. It would only take two amazing months to break DiMaggio's record. You're talking roughly a decade and a half to beat Cal. Fun question, by the way!
Follow up on Papelbon: is at all conceivable that he could reinvent himself like K-Rod or Trevor Hoffman? Or does he not have the breaking stuff to do that.
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
Where's that "other" pitch? K-Rod always had great breaking stuff. Hoffman developed that change-up at a young age. Papelbon has been largely fastball-split for his whole career. He's only mixed in that breaking ball lately, but still only throws it to show it, not as an out pitch. So he'd have a much tougher road to reinventing himself than those two guys.
Eric (New York)
Ryan Braun DHing in Boston today due to sore right thumb - the thumb that sapped his power last year. Should we be worried?
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
By "we," you're speaking for the millions of Ryan Braun fans out there? Or just for people who have him on their fantasy team? It sounds worrisome. No doubt about it. Numbness never seems to be just a minor, passing condition. Does it?
Most unbreakable record is Cy Young's win total. 20 years in a row of 25 wins, no way that ever happens unless they go to a 200 game schedule.
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
Ya think? I'm big on that Chan Ho Park record as unbreakable, too -- allowing two grand slams to the same hitter in the same game? I remember Rene Lachemann telling me afterward you'll never see three -- "unless the manager is trying to get fired or something."
Steve (Boynton Beach)
We can look at tons of flamethrowers from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s who pitched 250-300 innings a year, every year, for decades, with no chronic injuries. Doesn't it seem odd that just as teams began limiting innings, the injuries have soared through the roof?
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
You're not the first to make this point. Still boggles my mind that MLB -- and individual teams -- don't study all of this more carefully, extensively and scientifically. How can that not happen when teams are spending so much money on pitchers who are on the D.L.?
Jacob (San Diego)
More HR this year: Yasiel Puig or Brandon Belt?
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
Tough one. I'd go Puig, just because of how tough it is to hit a home run at AT&T Park.
I loved the fan reaction to Matt Adams shoving incident yesterday. Will MLB discipline him because of his actions? Something tells me he will be heckled in Cinci the rest of his career.
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
I'm guessing he'll be fined, and reprimanded. The question is whether he can do some sort of damage control beyond that. He's a good guy. Very even-tempered for the most part. Wouldn't surprise me to see him reach out to the fan he shoved and try to make some sort of amends. And I'm guessing the Cardinals will be actively encouraging that.
re: pitcher injuries - its selection bias that we remember the ones that stayed healthy and not the ones that blew out their arms. Teams have studied it. compounding it is the financial risk. If you lost a pitcher in 1968, it was not the fiscally crippling blow that losing one today would be
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
There's no doubt that money plays into all of this. There is so much $$$$$$ riding on the health of these guys, teams are much more prone to protect them and shut them down. Then again, how's that working out?
Are my Astros destined for 100 losses again or should I be encouraged after winning the series from the Yankees that they might actually get to .500 like their owner thinks they can?
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
They're getting there. Definitely more major-league talent on this team than on its predecessors. But .500? I'll take the under.
Any word on when/where Stephen Drew may return?
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Still waiting for some team's shortstop to fall down the stairs chasing his dog, or something. I'd be shocked now if he signs before June. Wouldn't you?
What do you think would happen if the MLB made a requirement of 3 years out of high school in order to play professional, like the NFL does?
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
I like the MLB rule on this, actually. You can either go pro after high school or, if you go to college, you have to stay three years. I think it's actually the most sensible rule in any of the major pro sports. I've heard basketball people say they wish they had a rule like that, in fact.
Noah (California) [via mobile]
I was just wondering if the Angels are just underachieving after getting swept by the Mariners or Seattle looks real.
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
I'm hereby banning the use of the word "underachieving" to describe anything that happens in the first three games of a season. I still like the Angels' roster more than the Mariners' roster. But stuff happens. That's why they play. That's why we watch. And that's what makes it the best reality show on earth.
the real difference between baseball and NFL and college basketball, is a true minor league and where guys are not expected to contribute right away at a pro level.
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Exactly, Gregg. College football IS the NFL's minor league.
Sean (Green Bay)
Shouldn't Boras have gone with the Mets' one-year deal while he had it? Getting paid a "low" amount of money for one year is better than sitting on your couch on April 4th.
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
I've never understood why this guy, and his agent, weren't more open to a one-year deal. There's a rumor the Yankees' shortstop is retiring after this season, right? So why wouldn't any shortstop want to be on the market next winter, with the Yankees holding a shopping cart?
Jayson, with the large number of blown saves this week, does this provide further proof to the irrelevance of signing closers to multi year contracts?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
Depends which closers we're talking about. If it's Craig Kimbrel, I don't see the irrelevance in that. But we're at the point where half the closers in baseball are basically a revolving cast of replaceable parts. I wouldn't be signing that group to any five-year deals. I know that.
Did Buehrle take it as a compliment that you called him the Most Consistently Average Pitcher in History.?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
Haha. Is that what I said? Pretty sure I didn't put it that way. Just complimented him on having pretty much exactly the same season every year. And it WAS a compliment. Dependability is the most important quality in sports and life. Remember that. There's going to be a quiz.
Kipnis' extension. You're view?
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
Another one of those deals that makes sense for both sides. It's a blast-from-the-past signing for the Indians, isn't it?
Maybe the Yankees sign Drew the day after the draft to a 4 or 5 year deal? Makes sense because Jeter is not the shortstop of a contender, the Yankees are in a win-now mode, and they have the money, nor do I believe he'll be walking on both legs by June.
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
Too many health concerns to sign him to a deal that long, I think. But he'd help them this year, no doubt. As Jeter insurance, and as a potential upgrade at third.
What are the chances Scherzer re-signs with the Tigers? And does wether or not they win the WS factor in?
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
All Max Scherzer contract questions come back to the same response: Who's his agent? For all Scott Boras clients (with very few exceptions), it comes down to the highest bidder. That won't be the Tigers. If he were going to sign in Detroit, he would have taken the deal he was offered last month. It's a shame, too. I know how much he loves it there.
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Hate to make this announcement, but I only have time for one more.
Your thoughts on Schoenfield saying if healthy, the Giants could have the best offense in the NL? That didn't even include Scutaro if/when he's healthy.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
I love Dave Schoenfield! But I totally disagree. Better than the Cardinals? Better than the Nationals? I politely beg to differ. But I do think there's probably more offensive upside on this roster than most of the continent probably believes.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Wow. That hour flew by. Thanks for all the great questions. See you down the road in Chat Land.