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)
Greetings, Chat Nation! Sorry I'm a couple of minutes late. Looking forward to a fun hour of baseball talk. So let's get started.
Matthew (LA, CA)
Do you think that Giancarlo Stanton will be able to sustain this hot start? ROS predictions?
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
He's seemed energized since Day One of spring training, when he could see he had a more talented team around him than people realized -- not to mention a little more lineup protection. The biggest issue for him has always been staying on the field. If he plays 150 games, he's a 50-homer season waiting to happen. Anyone disagree?
The thing that worries me about the Braves offense is that this is their team. Maybe an upgrade at second, but these are their hitters for the next few seasons at least. And this isn't just a normal slump, this is how it's look all season...score three against the Braves and you win. Is this what the Braves offense looks like?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
Well, I think there's more there than they've gotten so far from Jason Heyward. And Chris Johnson can still get back to using the whole field the way he did last year. What's become a growing concern is that, as Buster wrote yesterday, you can tolerate the whiffs if a team gets enough baserunners and homers to counteract them. But they were 27th in MLB in OBP the last I looked. And that plus strikeouts equals trouble.
Chris - Houston,TX [via mobile]
Who gets the call first - Polanco or Tavares?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
That's almost a coin flip. I'll go with Polanco, because his team has a clear need for him and wouldn't have to rearrange its lineup or roster a whole lot to fit him in. Actually did speak to a scout this week who thinks he needs more time to acclimate to right field, and sees him struggling with offspeed stuff in the big leagues. But when the Super-2 deadline passes, I'd be shocked if we don't see him in the big leagues. The timetable is less clear for Tavares.
George C (New York)
Do you see Juan Francisco becoming the next Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion in Toronto? They seem to be great developing guys like that.
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
I don't see it. He's always had big power. But those two guys get the bat on the ball a lot more than Francisco does. And handling left-handed pitching has been an eternal issue. The track record on Francisco is pretty well established. And remember, this is his fourth team in four seasons - for a reason!
Gerry Ca [via mobile]
How is mat latos progressing? Do u think he returns this season? Thanks Stark!
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
Hey Gerry, you can call me Jayson. It's OK. I don't get a good vibe on this one. If he's on your fantasy team, I'd try to upgrade. Tough guy to count on to bounce back to what he was last year, I think.
Brandon (Simi Valley, CA)
Do you think Joc Pederson has a future with the Dodgers or does he become trade bait and never sees the bigs with the Dodgers?
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
It's a little too soon to say this with conviction. But my gut says the Dodgers wouldn't mind making room for him in that outfield. Ideally, he and Puig would be the long-term keepers in that outfield, and they'd trade two from the Ethier/Kemp/Crawford group. But there's so much money attached to those three, that's going to be a challenge.
Andy (Omaha) [via mobile]
Why isn't there more love for Goldschmidt nationally? Everyone talks about what Trout has done and the numbers he's put up, and Goldschmidt has put up similar numbers
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
Well, he's not Mike Trout -- because nobody is. Nobody can beat you, almost singlehandedly, more different ways than Trout can. But other than that, I'm in total agreement that Goldschmidt deserves more accolades than he gets. He's a franchise player, a cornerstone player. But his team is having such a grim season, that's never a good way to get showcased.
Do you believe Curtis Granderson will get it going? Is it just mental or is he on the decline?
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
That always seemed like a worrisome fit of ballpark and high-strikeout, dead-pull hitter. He's a better player than this. But Citi Field might be getting into his head.
Do you think this will be the last winter with a good selection of top starter? It looks like Scherzer/Lester/Shields/Masterson will all be available. Also, is there something to be concerned with the fact that David Price looks so ordinary this year?
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
You never know how future free-agent crops will shape up. But I agree this is one of the best in years, even if the Red Sox find a way to get Lester signed before he hits the market. Price has really surprised me. He looked like he was on a mission this spring to have a monster year. But I thought Eduardo Perez and Dallas Braden did a great job on Baseball Tonight, pointing out how the Orioles laid off his offspeed stuff all night and hit his fastball. Fastball command and velocity haven't been consistent all year. It'll be interesting to see if he can fix that as the season goes along.
Any concerns about Hamels? His last 2 starts have been horrific.
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
I think he's still building arm strength. You could see this coming. When he shut it down over the winter, he didn't just stop throwing. He also had to stop much of his work in the weight room. So we've seen diminished fastball velocity and zip, which has made for a ton of cutters so far. Wouldn't surprise me if he's a work in progress the whole first half.
I don't think Stanton gets to 50 homers - teams will likely pitch around him, especially later in the season with playoff spots on the line.
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
You might be right. But why hasn't that already happened? One reason is that Casey McGehee and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have been so good behind him. I think it's fair for both of us to wonder if that continues, though.
How good has Tim Hudson been? Did he find the fountain of youth in CA? How could the Braves let him go?
Jayson Stark (1:30 PM)
The Braves were nervous about committing to him for two years coming off that injury. And I don't blame them. But he's looking like the best pitching signing of the winter to me. I know I said that last week, and a bunch of people disagreed. But for value for dollars spent, who's been better?
Ed (Queens Village)
Rockies real deal or need to see more from them?
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
I think they're better, but I have some of the same questions about them I have every year. Their OPS at home is almost 300 points higher than on the road. So that home/road thing is always an issue. The track record of Tulo and CarGo staying on the field all year hasn't been good. So is this the year? And how safe is it to count on this rotation? They need Brett Anderson to return and make an impact. But I also think there's a lot to like. It would be a great story to see them hang in there like this all year.
Has Michael Morse been the best offensive FA signing for the dollars so far? Seem like the Giants knew something nobody else did with Morse and Hudson or they were very lucky.
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
I think you're right, Seth. Brian Sabean took a shot at two guys with big upside, in Morse and Hudson, and so far, he's hit on both. Health and consistency have been long-term issues for Morse, though. So get back to me in two months.
Re: Stanton: does his hot start and seemingly being reinvigorated with a better team surrounding him make it more or less likely that he's eventually traded?
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
No way to answer that yet. Remember, he's a Californian. And his friends tell me he wants to finish his career out west. But we'll know more next winter. I expect the Marlins to make him the kind of offer that will let them, and everyone, know whether he's open to staying there long-term. If he turns it down, they'll have no choice but to market him.
Julio (Dominican Republic)
Hello Jayson, love your chats. You keep saying there's more there than the Braves have gotten so far from Jason Heyward, but I think that his career has been more hype than substance(this assesment is coming from a huge Braves fan). The reality is that every year passes by and we Braves fans are waiting to develop his huge potential as a hitter and in the bases. I know he's been bitten by the injury bug (a lot of bad luck injuries I may add) and he's very young, but it's pretty obvious he has not corrected his flaws as a hitter. We will have to accept that he won't be the huge star that everyone envisioned. Your thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
You're correct in all of that. But just because he hasn't had a full season of sustained success, or health, doesn't mean he won't. He's 24. If he were a prospect, wouldn't he be in everyone's top-five prospect rankings? Could be a case of a guy figuring it out in the big leagues. Couldn't it?
Now that we are about 6 weeks into the season, which teams have been the biggest surprises to you both in exceeding expectations and falling short of expectations?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
Brewers and Marlins on the up side. Rays and Pirates on the down side. Heck, I picked the Rays to win the World Series. They sure haven't had that look since Cobb and Moore went down.
Almost a quarter through the season already - how are the Marlins on top of the NL East? And what about their drastic splits from Home versus Road - ever seen anything like it?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
Not sure anyone knows what to make of it. They've scored the second-most runs in baseball at home and the fewest on the road (where they're 2-10). I know the Braves were intimating they're stealing signs somehow or other. I'm not that conspiratorial. But I agree it's odd, especially considering the park they play in.
which pitch is more devastating, Wainwright's curve or Fernandez' slider?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
There's no wrong answer here. But right now, it might be Wainwright's curve. Everyone knows it's coming. They still can't hit it. That's the ultimate definition of "devastating" in the big leagues. Wouldn't you say?
Should I start to be really worried about the Dodgers Offense?
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
I think there's real reason for worry. Absolutely. Hanley hasn't looked like the same guy. Carl Crawford is a mess. Matt Kemp hasn't been the same for two years. If I'd told you going into the season that two of their three best offensive players would be Dee Gordon and Juan Uribe, what would you have thought? That something was all mixed up, right? This is a team that hasn't played up to its talent all year.
What's so odd about the Marlins park, other than all the artistic stuff?
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
I didn't mean odd, as in ambiance. I meant it's a tough place to hit. Or it sure was last year. Let's see how it plays as the year goes on. But nobody expected this team to hit the way it has at home yet.
Did you really say that Stanton's protection is McGehee and Salty--which is why pitchers are pitching to him more? REALLY? Pitchers factor in the presence of McGehee and Salty in deciding whether to pitch to Stanton??? Mr. Stark, turn in your BBWAA membership.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Stop it! I analyzed Stanton's whole "protection factor" in depth a few weeks back. And the truth is, nobody really "protects" him. I get that. I'm just pointing out that so far, McGehee and Salty have made pitchers pay a price for pitching around him. How likely is that to continue? The track record would say "not very." Can I have my card back now?
Jayson, legit or poser? Sonny Gray, Dillon Gee, Julio Teheran, Jesse Chavez and Yordano Ventura?
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
Am I supposed to rank these guys in order of "legit?" Well, if I were buying stock, I'd be more likely to buy it in Ventura, Teheran and Gray than Gee and Chavez. Does that answer your question? But I don't think any of them are "posers."
Jean Claude (Vermont)
Who's the odd man out in the Braves rotation?
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
Frank Wren told me earlier this year he didn't foresee moving Alex Wood to the bullpen, but it makes sense for now. They can manage his innings in the bullpen, the way they did with Kris Medlen a couple of years ago. And if Aaron Harang fades or Mike Minor doesn't get it together, Wood is there waiting to plug in. Impossible call, isn't it?
is George Springer beginning to figure things out at the big league level? Nice diving catch yesterday also
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
That home run was encouraging yesterday because he took a ball on the outer half and drove it out the other way. He's been surprisingly pull-happy so far, and struggling to figure out an approach to all the offspeed stuff he's seen. But he's such a bright, talented kid, it's hard to believe he won't figure it out at some point. And yesterday may have been a sign that's happening.
Shouldn't Dillon Gee be on the sell-high list? The Mets would get more than just peanuts for him from a desperate contender. And no offense to Gee, but it's hard to see where he fits into the future plans, especially when Jon Niese might be our No. 5 guy next year.
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
I'm with you on that, Tom. I'd listen if I were Sandy Alderson -- in July or December. I'd guess December would make more sense, because they'll have a better feel for Matt Harvey's progress.
Why is hitting so down, can the pitchers be that good?
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
It's not just about pitching. It's about information. It's reflected in all those shifts. And it's reflected in how data translates into pitchers' game plans. The data shows up on that side of the ball a lot more than it does in offense. You just can't underestimate the impact of shifts on the numbers these days.
Thoughts on the Mariners start/rest of season?
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
They've weathered the Iwakuma injury. They've survived that eight-game losing streak. I still wonder if they have enough offense to contend. But they've been one of the most pleasant surprises in baseball, I think.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Wow, it's been a quick hour. Let's try to squeeze in one more.
Pablo Sandoval, concerned or just early season slump?
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
Concerned. The contract stuff seems to be weighing on him. And he hasn't even been his usual aggressive self at the plate. Amazing how well that team has played, and how many runs it's scored, without much help from the Panda.
Jayson Stark (2:03 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions. And (in the weekly shameless book plug) remember, my new book, "Wild Pitches," is now available everywhere books are sold! See you down the road in Chat Land.