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.
His latest book, "Wild Pitches" examines the "why" behind baseball's winners and losers to give fans a rare look inside the game. He tries to answer questions like, how do high-priced contracts impact a team's ability to compete for a title? How do sabermetrics play a role?
Send your questions now and join Stark Friday at 1:30 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
Sorry I'm a couple of minutes late. I was traveling this morning and just got home. So let's get started!
How about those Jays! Do they have staying power or is it just a mirage of unbelievable offence and is it just a matter of time that their starting pitching and bullpen inconsistencies kick in again?
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
I've written and talked about this before. A year ago, we all picked them to win the East. This year, we all picked them to finish last in the East. But they're the same team -- only healthier. I worry about whether they have enough pitching. But the lineup is for real. I think the East will be decided by health and who makes the best deals in July. I still believe that. But people would be crazy to write off a team with a lineup like this. They've scored 50 more runs than the Red Sox already.
Hi Jayson, is it time for the Rangers to wave the white flag or do you see them still trying to find ways to contend like by signing Kendrys Morales?
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
I'm going to bet against a Kendrys Morales signing, even if it comes after the draft. This is a team run by smart, analytical people. So let's look at it analytically and realistically. They're seven games back of an Oakland team that we all know now is the real deal. The Rangers have the second-worst run differential in the American League. And they have 14 players on the disabled list, which gives them more holes than they can possibly fill. So I see them playing this out with what they've got and then reassessing in a couple of months. But I think they have to know this isn't The Year. So it would be a stretch to trade prospects or throw money at problems that will be incredibly difficult to solve.
Do you think STL putting Carlos Martinez in the bullpen impacts his future as a SP? Do you still see him with #2 SP Upside? Have a great 3 day weekend and let's all remember what Memorial Day is really all about!
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
Hi Rick! Great question. And great message. I've asked about this more than once. And I have no doubt the Cardinals continue to look at Martinez as a starting pitcher down the road. But need has trumped long-term planning so far. And I guess it isn't out of the question that it could continue to do that.
Jean Claude (Vermont)
Do you see the Braves trading either Alex Wood or David Hale before the deadline?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
For what? For whom? I've never gotten any sense that they've even talked about trading Wood. Hale might be a different case, because he's a little older than the rest of their young pitchers. But again, it all depends what we're talking about. If this is about dealing for a true ace they can control for a few years, that's one kind of deal. Deals for depth are a whole nother animal. The Braves haven't made The Big Deal at the deadline in a long time. And I wouldn't envision them trading either of those guys unless it was a really big deal.
Do you think Ryan Zimmerman in left field is going to happen?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
I don't see it. I see him as their first baseman next April. Something really dramatic would have to happen to change that, I think.
Who's the funniest active baseball player you've interviewed?
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
Ryan Dempster would have won this "honor," but I'm guessing we can't consider him "active" at the moment. So I'll go with Adam Dunn. One of the most entertaining people I've ever met in baseball. There are a lot of great candidates, though.
just wanted to say how much I enjoy your work
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
Thanks,C.P.! Have I mentioned lately I have a new book out? Just in case I hadn't . . .
Don Josephs (Cooperstown,ny)
Is Jim Thome a lock for induction as a first-timer?
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
I have no idea who's a first-ballot lock anymore and who isn't. To me, Jim Thome is as easy a candidate to vote for as we'll ever have show up on the ballot. Seventh-most HR in the history of baseball. And maxes out the character-and-integrity points. But trying to predict what Hall of Famers will do in any given election is almost impossible. So I'll sit this one out.
Are the Cubs going to trade Samardzija? Please handicap options. Cheers!
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
He's as likely to get traded this July as any player in baseball, I think. They've pretty much established they can't sign him for what he's looking for. And we know right now the Cubs will be sellers. So he'll be this year's Matt Garza. I'd project them trying to move Jason Hammel early and dangling Samardzija for a little longer to create a multi-team competition. In a perfect world, they'd love to keep him. But he's not buying what they're selling.
How many more good years does wainwright need to even be considered a candidate for the hall> 4 or 5?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
That's a really interesting question, Doug. We're talking about a guy who has put himself into position, but . . . he's only had three dominating type seasons. And even though we now devalue Wins when we evaluate just about all honors, he's only at 107 right now. So he'd need at least three or four more seasons as a dominator and several more as a good to very good starter before he'd be a Hall of Famer. But I have as much respect for Adam and everything he's done as I have for any pitcher in the game. So I wouldn't put it past him.
Jayson, I had the great pleasure of hearing Kostya Kennedy, author of Pete Rose: An America Dilemma speak last night. What great stories he told about the tragi-resilient figure! Anyway, rest assured that you did not have a part in kaboshing his reinstatement on which you reported a few years ago. Apparently Pete's team was not ready then or later to settle for anything less than its pov.
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
That book is fabulous, by the way. And Pete's a fascinating subject, all right. I think I've said in every interview I've done on that part in my own book that one of the overlooked aspects of this story is exactly what you just stated: Pete didn't want back in on their terms. He wanted back in on his terms. He didn't just want to get back on the HOF ballot and be reinstated ceremonially. He wanted to manage again. He wanted full reinstatement. And Bud wasn't ready to go there. Certainly not initially. But I'll concede the point, from Pete's side, that we never know where this would have wound up if I hadn't reported it. I'll just continue to plead "not guilty!"
Andrew Z. (Struthers, OH)
The current MLB leader in pitching WAR is Corey Kluber. Thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
He's had a breakout year. Swing-and-miss stuff. Competes. Looks like he's turning into a legit No. 2-type starter.
Do you think it would be wise for the Pirates to entertain the notion of trading Pedro Alvarez at the end of this season to a team in need of his services (New York team)?
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
They're going to have to contemplate this question sooner or later. And this might be the winter. He'll be a four-plus player, so he'll be two years from free agency. And he's a Scott Boras client, whom they probably can't afford to keep. So two years out is always the optimal time to trade a guy like that. But a lot depends on how this season plays out, for him and for that team.
Ty (Silver Spring, MD)
I heard Keith Law indict every team in baseball for playing with service time clocks the Baseball Tonight Podcast. I know a lot of team do, but what evidence possibly exists to say the Braves do? Heyward and Freeman came up on Day 1, Simmons came up near the cutoff after only two months above single A. Most pitchers have had spot appearances in a prior year, before starting full time the following opening day. Can we give the Braves credit for bringing players up without service clock shenanigans???
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
OK, I'll give them credit. I agree with you. Not every team does it. And not every team does it with every player. But most of them do. And it's not for the betterment of the sport or the players. I hope we can figure out a way to tweak this rule in the future, so that we don't have to spent the next 20 years talking about it every May.
Jayson...what do you make of the parity in today's game? With only a few exceptions, the vast majority of the league is within a few games of the .500 mark.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
It's incredible. Can't remember any season quite like it. But if you look at the payroll "standings," you'll see why. Half the teams in baseball now have $100-million payrolls. Only seven have payrolls under $90 million. The huge gaps and advantages of the past are changing, folks.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Sorry to report I only have time for one more. This chat has flown by!
Rany J had a great Grantland article on Brad Zeigler and submariners in general. If what he says about their effectiveness is true, why don't teams at least try to convert more borderline pitching prospects into submariners?
Jayson Stark (2:03 PM)
That's a really good question. Not everyone can throw that way. It's harder than it looks. And not everyone is wired to even try to throw that way. I heard an interview with Jesse Chavez recently in which he talked about how the Royals tried to convert him to a sidearmer and quasi-submariner, and he had to work hard to hide the fact that he was kind of insulted by it. But Brad Ziegler's success speaks for itself. So the situational, submarining right-hander could well be A Thing in the future.
Jayson Stark (2:03 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions (and compliments)! And thanks for having patience with my travel issues. See you down the road in Chat Land.