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 (1:30 PM)
What's happening, Chat Nation? I've only got a half hour today, so let's get started. And before I forget, Happy Friday the 13th!
Rob (Lime Rock, CT)
Hey Jayson, congrats on the book! Chris Sale is must see TV every time out. I just love watching that guy. Would you agree that he's in the argument for best starter in all of baseball? Thanks!
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
Thanks, Rob. That would be a fun argument, man. It's interesting that you nominated him the day after he was outdueled by Max Scherzer, but you're absolutely right. Did you know he ranks NUMBER ONE in best career WHIP among active starters, just ahead of Clayton Kershaw? I'd put him, Kershaw, Scherzer, Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto in that argument at the moment. But feel free to argue for your favorites. I left a few out for debate purposes!
Todd [via mobile]
Are Tigers regretting giving Verlander a big pay day ? Should they have put their money in Fister and Scherzer instead ?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
This is a question that's welled up a lot over the last couple of weeks. I wonder why. Look, any contract that long and rich, for a pitcher at that age has a chance to haunt the team that handed it out. The Tigers knew that at the time. But Justin Verlander was too important to them not to keep. That's the way they looked at it. They've shown with Prince that if it comes times to cut ties and even eat money, they'll do that. But I think Verlander is a long ways from done. I do think that's going to be a tough contract for them to get their money's worth from, though.
Jayson, undo one Phillies trade/move what would it be?
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
Hmmm. That's a fun topic. It would have to be the Pence deal, wouldn't it? To give up Singelton, Cosart, Zeid and Santana for a guy you were going to trade in a year is about as rough as it gets.
Can the Astros be a .500 team this year?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
I think you're getting ahead of yourself here, Jason. Springer and Singleton have made them better and changed the outlook and energy of that team. And I think they've reached a turning point in the evolution of the franchise. But if you look around the diamond at the other positions and really take a hard look at this staff, I don't think they're going to play for the next 3 1/2 months the way they've played for the last 3 1/2 weeks.
Jayson, what do you make of the Cubs front office coming out and saying that this offseason could be the one to finally spend money? True? Or are they just trying to appease the fanbase by saying that?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
I know Cubs fans are skeptical of everything. I get it. But there's no reason not to believe them. It's all about timing. They weren't at a point before where it made any sense to sink big money into most free agents, unless it was someone really young and special like Tanaka. But this will be a winter with a lot of rotation options. Their position-player prospects are close. And it's time to step on the gas pedal. So I expect them to try at least.
Samardzija has to get traded, right?
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
Back-to-back Cubs questions! Right. Could it be any more clear they can't sign him? So if they can't sign him, he'll become this July's Matt Garza.
Wild Pitches is the best book ever! (Lancaster, PA)
Jayson explain why the Phillies gave up on Moss, Grilli and Vogelsong? They would all have benefitted them now and over the last couple of years
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
You had me with the title! A lot of those judgments have been hung at the feet of Chuck Lamar, who is no longer with them. We did a list, on my radio show a couple weeks back, of hitters who have a .900 OPS and as many HRs as Brandon Moss since he left Philly for Oakland. It was quite a list! Give me a second and I'll find it.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
OK, here goes: Cabrera, Encarnacion, Bautista, Stanton, Beltre, Goldschmidt, Trout, Ortiz, Chris Davis and . . . (wait for it) Brandon Moss.
Felix doesn't take a back-seat to any pitcher in the game.
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
Bout time somebody nominated Felix for that group. I was getting worried! Good job, James.
How about the King? Speaking of Verlander's decline, Felix is still dominating. Is this just a matter for their 3 year difference in age, or is Felix just the more advance pitcher? Felix's 4-seam / 2-seam in combo with that change-up is just killing batters.
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
And you, too, James. Those two guys are just totally different pitchers. Obviously, Verlander's age and core surgery have contributed to his slippage. But their styles are so different, it's almost an apples/oranges discussion.
Is it too early to determine if the White Sox should buy or sell? Looks like they're still in the thick of things!
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
Too early. They're like about 15 other teams -- caught in the middle. Get back to me in a month.
Richard Walega (Newport RI)
What's your assessment of the replay rule's execution thus far?
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
I'm a fan in the big picture. They're getting an incredible percentage of calls definitively right. And because of that, the right team is winning, not teams benefitting from blown calls. And that was the most important part of this. But it's taking way too long. And having the managers hem and haw and mill around and make small talk while they wait for the signal from the dugout is bad entertainment. I'm certain they'll fix that part of it next year. So I'm willing to tolerate it for now if they at least get the calls right.
HRAM tough call right? No way he gets the BIG contract?
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
If he was a lock for the BIG one, he'd already have gotten it, right? He plays for the Dodgers. They seem to have plenty of spare change lying around. I think they're waiting around at this point to get a clearer sense of what exactly he is -- the guy they saw last year or the lesser version they've seen this year (and saw at the end in Miami). In other words, Hanley is a really tough call. You're exactly right.
does gausman stay in rotation/
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
How can they take him out? He's exactly the missing piece they need. Not sure who comes out. But I can't see Buck taking him out at this point. Too much at stake in this season. Don't you think?
Which team is going to be the biggest seller at the trade deadline? Biggest buyer?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Cubs. We knew that Opening Day!
Drafty (Kutztown, PA)
Jayson coincidence that the Phillies drafted college kids at almost every pick this year? Should see benefits quicker right?
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
They said it "just happened that way." Really? No way that was a coincidence. They drafted polished college players at just about every spot, after a decade of drafting toolsy high school players? That doesn't sound like a coincidence to me.
I got your autograph, THANKS! (USA)
Thanks for signing the best book ever! What would Billy Beane give up for Utley? Is he the missing piece for the A's?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
In case you hadn't noticed, shameless book plugs on your end do help you get posted. What I'm hearing, at the moment, is that the Phillies expect to listen on everyone EXCEPT Utley and Cole Hamels. So kind of a moot point right now.
is cingrani droppable in a 10 team keeper lg?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
I don't usually do fantasy questions. But it sure looks as if he's coming out of the rotation when Latos returns this weekend.
Is there a team that is currently a long shot that you believe has a good chance to make the postseason?
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
Depends on your definition of long shot. If you consider the Orioles, Royals, Marlins or Twins to be long shots, then yes!
Jayson -- tell me if I'm *completely* crazy in Detroit. Nathan to DL or whatever; Verlander to close, save mileage on the arm for a bit, he usually doesn't get in trouble til the 4th or 5th in a start, can air it our for the 9th; Ray or somebody who won't be as bad as Verlander's been to start.
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
OK, you're completely crazy. They're not paying him close to 30 million bucks a year to pitch four innings a week.
Have you had any crazy or interesting interactions with readers at any of your book signings?
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Thanks for asking! We had a fun debate among my crowd in North Jersey one day about whether Shea Stadium was a better park than Citi Field. Call me nutty, but I don't see it!
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Wow. The time has whooshed by. So I only have time for one more. Sorry!
Trade Me (MLB)
Papelbon...teams who need him are _______? The Phillies cannot be an answer!
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
I haven't talked to a single team that's all that interested, to be honest. Numbers are good. Stuff doesn't match the numbers. He just went 17 days between save opportunities, so he's the most well-rested closer in baseball. And he's the highest-paid. Still a tough sell, despite the great stats.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. Excellent topics! See you down the road in Chat Land.