Chat with Jayson Stark
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.
Click here for information on Stark's book "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History."
Send your questions now and join Jayson on Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:00 PM)
Welcome back to Chat Land. We've got an awesome month of baseball coming up and lots to talk about. So let's get started.
Jayson, Why does Aramis get no love for the MVP? He is the best player on the best team, and there is no clear frontrunner for the award this year. He is in the top 4 in RBI, and will finish with 100 RBI and runs. Berkman and Pujols are also not going to make the playoffs.
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
Sorry for the delay. Wanted to look something up on that. I think we could debate whether he's the best player on that team, but he has had a massive number of huge hits, especially big homers. According to Baseball Prospectus, he has the highest percentage of runners driven in of anybody in the league with as many plate appearances as he's had. His problem is that, to me, Pujols has kept his team in the race all year and has had an awesome year. And Ramirez is also just 14th in OPS and 15th in slugging, behind at least a half-dozen other MVP candidates.
Nora (St. Louis)
Bernie Miklasz makes the argument that MVP voters are all too often swayed by "flavor of the year" candidates, and ignore consistent greatness like Albert Pujols puts up. What do you think of that? I tend to agree, and I am afraid he is going to have to at least win the batting title to have a chance, which is ridiculous.
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
I think it's hard to generalize about how voters vote. There's way too much of that these days. I think story lines do figure into the voting, and I have no problem with that, as long as it's a team's story line, not an individual player's story line. It's not supposed to be an award for who comes out of nowhere and gets hottest. It's an award for who made the biggest difference this year. So what Albert Pujols (or anyone else) did over the last five years shouldn't enter into it, just as Josh Hamilton's off-the-field story shouldn't enter into it. Pujols should win right now because he has made that team's whole improbable season possible.
Do the Yankees bring back Mussina or Pettitte next year? Or Both?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
If I had to guess, I'd guess they bring back one but not both, unless they get shut out on the free-agent market.
Tim (Pittsburgh, PA)
hey jayson, i thought the pirates gave us something to be excited about and scott boras wants to ruin that. is there any truth with the rumor boras is only doing this to get back at coonelly?
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
I don't think that's the only reason Boras is pulling this stunt, but I do think his long, contentious relationship with Frank Coonelly figures into it. I think there are a bunch of forces at work here. One is that one. Two is that this is a rule Boras has always hated. Three is, Boras loves to take rules like that and challenge them with every loophole he can muster or invent. Four is, it's about his ego on a thousand levels. I could go on and on here, but you get my drift.
Jaymin (Fremont, CA)
Tim Lincecum obviously has better overall numbers than Brandon Webb, aside from the increasingly volatile, unpredictable and unreliable wins category. Also, there has not been a stretch of 2-3 starts where Lincecum has completely imploded. Brandon Webb has been iffy and roughed up more than a few times this year. Is it just me, or is Lincecum the clear front runner here? And overall, how impressive is it for a young pitcher to be so dominant in his 2nd year, especially in this age of baseball?
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
I think Lincecum has been too easily dismissed in this conversation, just because he has 15 wins and Webb has 19. I hope voters will begin to look past "wins" and at overall performance, because this is a performance award. I think both guys have great cases to win, but it's closer than most people seem to have noticed.
Will I have the opportunity to jeer Pedro Alvarez here in AAA Indianapolis (farm team for the Pirates) in the upcoming future? If he gave his consent to signing the contract and now wants more money before stepping on the field, that says a lot about his character and advice that Mr. Boras is giving him. What ever happened to earning your worth and honoring a committment (gee, I sound old all of a sudden)?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
Of everything that has gone down in this case, my overwhelming sentiment is: I feel sorry for Pedro Alvarez. He has no idea the damage he has done to his reputation, or the pressure he has heaped on himself, by going along with this shenanigan. I covered the JD Drew fiasco in Philadelphia, and this is a rewrite of the same plot line. Whatever extra money, if any, Alvarez gets out of this, he could make it back and more just by starting his career earlier and reaching the big leagues earlier. This is a perfect argument for a draft-pick bonus cap, and you know what? I bet 99 percent of all major league players would be in favor of it, because they agree with you. They think players should earn it before they make it.
Stan (West Des Moines, IA)
Jason ? Earlier this week on PTI, J.A. Adande referred to Grady Sizemore's 30-30 season as "no big deal anymore". Really? It still seems impressive to me. Any thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
With all due respect to J.A., I disagree. I don't think there's the same magic to the feat that there was 20 years ago, and maybe that's what he means.But you look at the list of players who have done it, and that's a list of great, multi-faceted players, and Grady Sizemore fits right into it. He's having an awesome season. And we shouldn't need just a 30-30 label to recognize that.
Then why is the union backing Alvarez? Is that the 1% who disagree with the bonus cap?
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
The union is backing Alvarez, because that deadline was a bone of serious contention before they agreed on the new labor deal. So if this is evidence that MLB is abusing the rule, especially if it directly benefits Frank Coonelly, that's a no-no. But if we step back from that for a moment, it seems to me that if the deadline is just being extended for 10 minutes or so, largely because the agent involved refuses to negotiate seriously until 11:50 p.m., then extending it for a few minutes benefits BOTH sides, not just the team. Nevertheless, this will be a fascinating case if it doesn't get settled.
Sorry Jason, I don't feel sorry for Pedro being a pawn in all of this because he's allowing himself to be treated this way. He should be smart enough to know that Boras works for him and not the other way around. He doesn't need to go along with the shenanigans if he doesn't want to.
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
No question you're right about this, to a degree. ANYBODY who hires Scott Boras is committing to the pursuit of the last dollar by any means necessary, no matter what the ramifications may be for the player himself. So you're correct that Alvarez made that choice, and made this choice, to go along with it. I just think he can't possibly have grasped how this is going to shape his entire career.
David (Clearwater, FL)
It's sad to see the Rays have crowds averaging below 15,000 the last few games. Do you think baseball will ultimately survive in Tampa Bay... is the stadium location the issue?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
I still think it's too early to conclude anything, other than this is really disappointing for that team. But remember something: This team has the second-lowest season-ticket base in baseball, so it has to sell nearly every seat in that park one seat at a time every day. Hard to do. Second, there's no such thing as a "life-long Rays fan." Everybody who lives in that area arrived as a fan of some other team. So seasons like this are how fans are born, or reborn. I think the park is a factor here on several levels. But I think the real test of whether baseball can succeed will come next year and beyond. Winning generally translates more at the box office the next season, not the season it happens.
matt (sacramento, ca)
how come a team's overall record or playoff chances dont come into the equation when determining a cy young, but can swing the vote in the mvp race? personally i dont think it should matter either way. thoughts? thanks a lot.
Dan: Arlington Heights, IL
I know its not even Labor Day, but lets talk playoffs! Which team do you think the Cubs match up best against and why? Dodgers or D-Backs?
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
The Cubs haven't hit much against either rotation. But I think I'd rather play the Dodgers if I were them. As this road trip proved, there's something missing on that team, even if it's more talented top to bottom than the Diamondbacks. And I think it is.
Chuck (Des Moines, IA)
I think Pujols suffers from "Jordan Syndrome" where a player is clearly the best and should win the MVP every year. But, the voters can't vote for the same person every year so they vote for a story while thinking "Player X" will win another next year. Then a player never wins as many as you think they should. Agree?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
I disagree with this, to be honest. Pujols has been a deserving candidate a bunch of different seasons, and has been a top five finisher every year of his career except last year, if I'm not mistaken. But he didn't win in those other years because somebody outperformed him. That simple. Some of those years were really, really close. And in retrospect, he could easily have won three times. But again, I don't want to generalize on why voters vote the way they do. Everybody has a conspiracy theory, or a voters-are-ignorant theory. And I don't think any of those theories are valid.
matt (sacramento, ca)
awww i finally get on and you didnt post an answer. ill send it again. how come a team's overall record or playoff chances dont come into the equation when determining a cy young, but can swing the vote in the mvp race? personally i dont think it should matter either way. thoughts? thanks a lot.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Sorry. Thanks for giving me a chance to answer. Got a phone call and posted another question before I answered. These are two different kinds of awards. There's nothing about "most valuable" in the Cy Young voting description voters receive. It's about who has pitched the best. Period. It's a simple formula. But the MVP is different. It isn't "who has the most photogenic numbers." It introduces that concept of "value," and voters can and do interpret that in many different ways, much to the dismay of the sabermetricians some years.
As you say, the CY is a performance award. Don't the same arguments for Lincecum apply to Halladay? Throw out the W/L record (mostly a function of run support) and aren't Lee's stats almost identical to Halladay's? Plus Doc has an 8-3 lead in complete games, which, I would argue, is more impressive than the difference in their W/L records. If Doc can get to 20W will he at least make the AL CY a tighter vote?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
I think they should apply, but frankly, reality says they're not going to apply. When a pitcher has a .900 winning percentage for a team that has been as mediocre as the Indians, many voters are still traditional enough that they ARE going to be swayed by that. Seems to me that if the other numbers are fairly close, that's justifiable. But I'll go back to 2005, when Bartolo Colon won the Cy Young over Johan Santana. Yeah, Colon won 20. But the on-base percentage against Santana was lower than the batting average against Colon. There was big ERA difference. And other than wins, it was tough to find any area in which Colon outpitched Santana. In seasons like that, I'd toss wins in the dumpster. But I don't get a Cy Young vote every year.
Brian (Bainbridge, Wa)
I'm surprised at your contention that Alavarez doesn't understand the ramifications of what he's done. I could see that being the case if he was a 16 year old from the Dominican, but this kid did go to Vanderbilt. He has no one to blame but himself.
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
Maybe you're right. Maybe he knows exactly what he's doing. Maybe he was complicit all along, and the reason he got on the phone at midnight was so Boras could distance himself from the process to trigger the grievance. But when Boras convinced J.D. Drew and his family to hide from the Federal Express man so he could contend the Phillies never physically tendered him a contract, I still don't think he understood how it was going to make him a poster boy for greed for the next decade. Who can grasp that at that age?
Will the Mets make a deal for a pitcher as this late date?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
There's no pitcher of significance out there to make a deal for, unless you think Carl Pavano qualifies. I get the sense they think Jon Niese will be their big pitching acquisition down the stretch.
Jayson, Just remember that you heard it here first. In the offseason the Brewers and Giants will make a trade involving Prince Fielder and Matt Cain. Makes perfect sense the Giants get some much needed offense who can launch balls in the Cove and the Brewers get a young pitcher to put with Gallardo and Parra to replace Sheets and CC and Mat Gamel can play 1st.
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
This is a deal that makes total sense to me. I don't believe the Giants really want to trade Matt Cain. But if they were getting Prince, how could they not think about it? It's way too early to say this will happen, because it hasn't even been discussed. But if you're asking me if I think it makes sense, I vote yes.
Brody: (Cleveland - OH)
Hey Jayson, love your work...I hate to keep harping on this topic, but my question is that doesn't Boras worry about his reputation at all? I guess I just don't understand why a young player (many of which are still in their teens) would want to risk their careers with a guy who seems to not really have their best interest in mind. What are your thoughts on this?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
I think Boras actually loves his reputation as the guy people love to hate. He promises these kids that they'll get the most money if they hire him, and that's a sales pitch it's hard for a lot of kids and their families to resist. I just wish more players would take charge of these negotiations and not let him manipulate them the way he does.
If Billy Wagner does not come back is Luis Ayala the perminent closer?
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
What do you mean by "permanent?" If you mean the rest of this year, I think they'll see how it goes. If you mean forever, I'd say: 1) There's no indication that I know of that Wagner isn't going to be able to pitch next year. And 2) you're talking about a pitcher who had an ERA close to 6.00 two weeks ago, who was allowing nearly 14 baserunners per 9 innings. I don't see him as a long-term closer, and I don't believe the Mets do, either.
Grabber (Lloyd Harbor, NY)
J - any chance Youkilis overtakes Quentin/Hamilton for AL MVP with a strong finish? If you take a literal interpretation of the award, who has been more valuable than Youk? He plays gold-glove caliber defense at both 1B and 3B (depending on where he is needed on any given night), and he stepped up to carry the team offensively (with help) while Ortiz/Lowell were out, and while Manny was tanking his way out of town..... thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
I think Youkilis is a legitimate MVP candidate. Right now, I'd vote for Quentin. But you make a great case for him. And I agree with those arguments. That's a perfect example of a story line that's valid to take into account come MVP time. Josh Hamilton's Home Run Derby, and his battle back from drug addiction, is the perfect example of a story line that isn't valid in my view.
Hi Jayson, thanks for answering this question!! In Jerry's chat he mentioned that E. Santana might be considered for the CY. One of your writers actually predicted that he would win last year. Do you see a CY for Earvin in the future? Thanks!!!
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
I think Earvin Santana has Cy Young type stuff. And if I were an AL Cy voter this year, which I'm not, he'd be one of the guys I'd look at before I voted. But Cliff Lee's ERA is a whole run lower than his, so I don't think there's much of a case for him to win it this year.
Vin(New York City)
Jayson, The Yankees first baseman for 2009 will be ______.
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
Why do the White Sox get no love? They have a rotation that is good 4 deep and solid 5 deep, and their bullpen is among the best in the league. Quentin should get consideration for MVP and Ramirez should win Rookie of the Year. Any questions?
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
I'm not sure why you think they get no love. But here are the reasons people are cautious about that team: 1) They're too dependent on the home run to generate offense, and that's harder to do in October than April-September. 2) Their pitching hasn't been anywhere near as good in the second half as it was early, and Scott Linebrink has been hurt. That's a team capable of going deep into the postseason if things break right. But there are legit reasons for being cautious about their chances. Don't you think?
What are the chances the yanks sign Cc, Tex, and Burnett? They have to money coming off the books to do it.
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
I addressed this in Rumblings and Grumblings yesterday. I don't think it's CC Sabathia's dream to play in New York, but the Yankees just might throw so many years and dollars at him, compared to other clubs, that they'll land him. Teixeira will be on their shopping list, but signing an ace is their No. 1 priority. I think Burnett will also be on that list, but he'd clearly rank behind both Sabathia and Ben Sheets.
Mac, Falls Church, MD
Jayson - Are the Angels getting complacent? And will this kill them come playoff time?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
I also addressed this question in Rumblings. I keep hearing from scouts who have watched them that they're in a "malaise" right now. But how could you blame them? Check out the research I did on this in Rumblings, but this isn't as ominous as it might seem. Having the ability to rest and recharge your best pitchers before October is a luxury that tends to pay off. Let's put it that way.
Tom (Simi Valley, CA)
What do you think the Angels will do in the offseason with their own players? I predict they'll make a run at Teixeira until Boras gets too ridiculous, pick up Vlad's option, let Garland walk, bring back Garret Anderson at a significantly reduced price, and let K-Rod walk and turn over closing duties to Future Angels Closer Jose Arredondo.
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
I agree with all of that, actually. But I think you'll see them more seriously explore extending Vlad and Lackey because their free-agent clocks are ticking.
Chuck (Oneonta, NY)
With the recent Philadelphia bullpen meltdowns, should Philly Phans be worried about the pen in september or is this just a blip on the radar?
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
I think it's definitely a worry. Their bullpen success has been a surprise, even to them. And while I think they've done a good job of watching the workload of Durbin, Madson and Romero, it looks as if it's beginning to catch up to Durbin and Madson, especially. They were banking on Tom Gordon resting for a month and then coming back to do what he did last year in the eighth inning. Now that that's impossible, they really don't have a good eighth-inning replacement. And it's shown up the last two nights.
Carlos Delgado: Potential MVP candidate?
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
Boy, I've had a lot of Mets questions today. He's had a great July-August. But I have a tough time making an argument that he's a better MVP candidate than either Jose Reyes or David Wright. When I saw the Mets this week and asked that question, I got the same answer.
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
Sorry, gang. We only have time for one more.
Really emphasizing the value aspect of MVP makes me think a players salary should be a HUGE part of the consideration for the award. If you're getting .300 ave and 25 homers from a guy on his rookie contract wouldn't he most certainly be more valuable because you were still able to go out and sign more expensive veterans for the team? As an example, could Arod really live up to $25 million dollar contract in terms of value. Shouldn't Braun have won the MVP last season with that he was making? Do we really want to be stuck on this value aspect for the definition of MVP as opposed to just stats?
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
This is an interesting theory, but I disagree with it. Maybe you're just taking the definition of "value" too literally. It's not "monetary value." It's "value" in the sense of who made the biggest difference on the field. I've been an MVP voter many times, and I can honestly say I never once looked at a player's salary before I voted. And I don't think anyone else should, either.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. A great assortment of thoughtful questions today, I thought. Way to go. See you next week.