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.
Send your questions now and join Jayson on Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:01 PM)
Hi, everyone. It's been a fascinating week and a half -- and also a sad one. So there's a lot to talk about. Let's get started.
Jayson, what is your take on the Milton Bradley incident yesterday. Looked to me like there were a couple questionable calls in a pivatol point in the game.
Jayson Stark (1:03 PM)
I know there's talk that Milton Bradley could be suspended, but I don't see what he did that would merit a suspension. Strike one in that at-bat was borderline. Strike three was a flat-out missed call. And I think both the umpires and Bob Watson need to take into account the competitive emotions that build up in competitive players in big spots in a game. I know Milton has a reputation, but that should be no factor in the decision on whether to discipline him or not.
Jonathan (Westerville, Ohio)
Do you believe the Yankees will eventually have to address their bullpen (either through trade or call-ups) to have success this season?
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
No doubt about it. There's not a lot of dependability in that bullpen until you get to Mariano Rivera. And that has to be addressed. If it doesn't fix itself, I have no doubt Brian Cashman will look to fix it from the outside.
Love your chats. Mariners are in first place and are pitching great do you see them hanging around in this wide open division? They are 7-3 and alreadyhave played well of the road (5-2) in historically tough places to play (Minn & Oak) and are 5-1 in the division. I really like this team. Please say rebuilding or not that Beltre will be extended!
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
I don't think they'll win the AL West unless the Angels can't put their pitching back together. But I look at the Mariners this way: They massively underachieved last year. And they have pitching. So that's an excellent formula to make a big jump in the standings. I'll write about this more next week. But I think this is going to be one of the most improved teams in the league. As for Beltre, he's a Scott Boras client. So don't dream too hard about that extension.
Vincent (Fullerton, CA)
A better day: going to an old stadium with history and little amenities or a new stadium with a huge amount of amenities and a huge ticket price?
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
Depends on the stadium. With all due reverence for the old Yankee Stadium, it was really a '70s stadium dropped inside a historic shell. And it was time to go. The new stadium pays such homage to the original stadium, I'd much rather go there than the ballpark across the street, to be honest. I don't know that I'm a big fan of taking out a second mortgage to afford going to a baseball game (or 10). But as a baseball experience, it's an upgrade.
Ryan (St Louis, MO)
Jayson, love your work! Some people were picking the Giants as dark horses in the NL this year, but every time I look at their roster, I just don't see enough offense to contend (even in the NL West). What am I missing?
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
I agree with you, Ryan. They should have one of the best rotations in the league if Tim Lincecum straightens himself out, which I'm sure he will. And their bullpen should be better. But I just don't see enough offense there. I know Pablo Sandoval has people excited. But there's still not enough around him for me to convince myself they're in the same strata as the Dodgers in that division.
Nate (Lake Odessa, Michigan)
The Tigers are off to a decent start while their division is not, do they have enough pitching to win the AL Central this year?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
They'll need a lot to go right, Nate. That's how I see them. I like a lot of the ingredients on that team. And it's certainly not a monster division. But here's what I asked people this spring when they laid out a formula for the Tigers to win the Central: When they get a lead, do you think they're going to win? I said earlier I didn't see a whole lot of dependability in that Yankees bullpen. And I have the same feeling about the Tigers -- except the Tigers don't have a Mariano Rivera on the roster. That team should score a lot of runs, but we'll see about the rest of it.
Joe, Tampa FL
Just curious, but how is that the Yankees letting go of Bobby Abreu hasnt been a hotter topic of conversation? The Yankees could have had Arod protected from the 3 and 5 hole, instead the lineup effectively ends after Arod in terms of bankable assets. Going into the season, Posada, Cano, Matsui, and Nady were all questions due to inconsistency or injury, and Swisher was coming off the worst year of his career. In other words, none of these players could have been considered a bankable 3 or 5 hole hitter. Abreu could have been, and yet they let him go. He signed for 5M in CA so you know the Yankees could have had him for around 8M with an option, maybe even less, and kept a 100 RBI, 100 Run, high OBP threat in the lineup. Abreu lenghtened that lineup dramatically, and he could have DH'd primarily or played the OF occasionally. Just take a look at the below lineup and my point is proved. Jeter Damon Abreu Arod Teixeira Posada Cano Swisher Gardner
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
I understand the point you're making, Joe. But Bobby Abreu is one of those players who looks better from afar than he does when you see him every day. And after the Yankees had seen him for two years, they came to the same conclusion the Phillies came to: He's a low-energy player who has become a defensive liability and he isn't a difference-maker. Their original plan was to offer him arbitration. But when they sized up the market, they realized quickly that if they offered it, he'd take it. And they weren't interested in paying him $14-16 million. He's a great buy at $5 million for the Angels. But the Yankees couldn't have signed him for that.
Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball and anyone who disagrees is kidding themselves.
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
Want me to get in a Halladay-versus-Santana debate, Alex? I think I'd take Johan. But since my word of the day is dependability, I think Halladay is the most dependable great pitcher in the game. He's the one guy out there who seems to be a constant -- start in, start out, year in, year out. We've seen just about everybody else -- CC, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, etc. -- waver. We've seen Santana at least feel a twinge now and then. But Halladay goes on and on. I used a stat on him this spring that's amazing. Of all the active pitchers with 100 wins, he's the only one who hasn't started a postseason game. What a shame, huh?
Jayson, everyone continues to talk about Peavy to the Cubs, but what about the Rangers? With their monster offense and outstanding group of prospects, do you see them making any deals for starting pitching this season? Peavy? Sheets? That division is so winnable..
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
One thing you have to remember in ANY Jake Peavy trade rumor you start or read is this: He has a total no-trade clause. He holds every card. So I don't see him going to Texas. Sorry about that. It's the Cubs and Dodgers, and I'm not sure where else, although LA/Anaheim probably isn't out of the question. So any other team you hear or dream about probably isn't happening.
junior (Miami Fl)
lets say the marlins sweep the Nationals and Pirates on the road and they are 14-1, do you think they'll get noticed by you guys @ ESPN.
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
Why do you think we haven't noticed them? I was on TV yesterday talking about how their rotation is the best in the National League. And I've heard just about every one of our baseball analysts say the same thing. We have a right to add that they're only nine games into the season, and that there are still questions about their bullpen, defense and swing-and-miss epidemic. But when you have the best rotation in the league, with even more upside, anything is possible.
andrew (san francisco)
If the rangers do hang around enough to sign sheets in august and call up feliz and holland with that offense do you think they could contend?
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
Now that's a different story. Both Feliz and Holland are the real deal. And if both of them force their way into the big leagues by July, the Rangers might not even need Ben Sheets. But you've definitely outlined their scenario to win -- hang around with offense early, overhaul the pitching staff late.
Numa Pena ( Maracaibo Venezuela)
Good afternoon Sr Stark!. What are the chances of Omar Vizquel to be a member of the Hall of Fame? after he retires, and Why do you think Dave Concepcion has not yet entered? and do you think he deserves to be a member of the hall?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
Ola! I made a compelling case (I thought) for Vizquel in the Hall of Fame in my first book, "The Stark Truth." He's the most sure-handed defensive shortstop of all time, and he'll wind up very high on the list of most hits by a shortstop. So that sounds like a Hall of Famer to me. I never personally voted for Dave Concepcion. I think he was a great player, but he's a near-miss for me as a Hall of Famer. And as I say all the time, that's no insult.
Jayson, I was hoping that you could settle an argument between friends. Basically, it came down to whether two players were either all-time greats, or overrated. They are Ryne Sandberg and Don Mattingly. Some say they are both among the best to play in the last 30 years, others say they benefitted from a big market. Since you are an expert and wrote a fantastic novel on the subject, I thought you would be an excellant mediator.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Well, that book wasn't a novel. But I do have an opinion on this. I thought Ryne Sandberg was an easy Hall of Fame vote to cast. I'm not sure how anyone could argue that he wasn't the best offensive and defensive second baseman of his era. Mattingly, though, is a tougher case. He had a period where he was the most dominant offensive and defensive first baseman around, but it didn't last long enough to make him a Hall of Famer. That wasn't his fault, of course. But injuries factor in. Did New York raise his profile? Of course. But he was still a tremendous player, just not for long enough to make it to Cooperstown.
Peter Gammons mentioned on Mike and Mike today that he could see (assuming the Tigers fall out of the race), Miguel Cabrera becoming available, and likely to the Red Sox. Do you think this is a realistic possibility, especially considering the economy and its effect on Detroit?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
Peter is on top of everything. So I'd watch that situation closely. There's a lot of speculation in the industry about what might happen in Detroit if they don't play well early, and attendance falls off, and they feel the economic heat. But to be honest, Miguel Cabrera is so young, and he's so good, I would bet that, in the end, they would decide not to deal him. But that doesn't mean they won't have to think about it if they get into payroll-dumping mode.
In the Halladay vs. Santana debate lets remember there is a huge difference betweem the AL east and the NL east or AL Central
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
OK, I'll acknowledge that. But where HASN'T Santana dominated? He beats everybody. He gets swings and misses with three different pitches. And he loves the big stage. So while you might take a slight discount for the division he pitches in, it would be very slight -- for me, at least.
What about Barry Larkin in the Hall?
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
I also made a case for Barry Larkin in the Hall in "The Stark Truth." I'll say this again: Barry Larkin is a clear-cut Hall of Famer. I don't have time to make the whole case for him in a chat. But his HOF credentials are overwhelming if people pay any attention at all.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
Love your work, Jayson. A.J. Burnett has been outstanding in his two starts. Do you think he has a better overall year, ERA, wins and Ks, than C.C.?
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
Well, I picked CC for the Cy Young, so I hope not. But I do think AJ has turned a major corner in his career. He said this the other night on Baseball Tonight, but it's worth repeating. Being around Roy Halladay was the best thing that ever happened to him. He learned what it means to prepare, to get in top condition and to approach his job as a professional. With his talent, he's capable of outpitching CC or anybody else in baseball.
Patrick (Cheyenne, WY)
Has there ever been a time in history were there were such good offensive 2B such as Kinsler, Pedroria, and Utley they are all putting up historical 2B numbers?
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
You didn't even include Dan Uggla! I haven't researched this, but I'm going to take an educated guess and say you're right. The idea that second base is a place where you play a slap-hitting glove man is totally outmoded now. And those guys prove it.
Here's the toughest choice to the HOF ... Edgar Martinez, yay or nay?
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
You guys are giving me a perfect forum to promote that "Stark Truth" book today. So thanks. I'm a yay on Edgar. Again, you can read my book for the full argument. But I don't think there's any question Edgar was the greatest DH of all time. And how many more dominant offensive players were there in the game? Bonds definitely. Bagwell, Gwynn and Frank Thomas possibly. But if you really look closely, I think you'd conclude Edgar was the most dependable (there's that word again) offensive force out there -- non-Barry Division.
David Price and Matt Wieters. What are the arbitration rules around when they can be called up, but not count an extra year towards free agency?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
In general, it tends to be around June 1. But off the top of my head, I think it's a little different for Price because he has already accumulated a couple of weeks of big-league service time.
Chris (OC, MD)
B Rob playing a pretty good 2b too.
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
Absolutely. Brian Roberts is another guy who belongs in that 2B group. Thanks for checking up on me!
John, Toronto ON
Santana -> He gets swings and misses with three different pitches. His change is the best pitch in baseball combined with a very good, if somewhat slower, fastball. But his slider is purely a show me pitch. Pitch FX may show otherwise but it frequently interprets many 2 seamers as a slider. His slider just isn't very good.
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
I disagree, John. It's No. 3 on his list. But I saw a double-figure strikeout game last year in which he got most of his strikeouts on his slider. It's the way he uses it and mixes it with the rest of his repertoire that makes it effective. And when he really has it going, look out.
...and what about Aaron Hill in that 2B group?
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
Aaron Hill isn't there yet. But he's having a terrific year.
Zack (Oceanside, CA)
Would it really be worth it for the Dodgers to trade for Peavy? Especially with the way their young pitching has been performing. Who would they have to give up? Kershaw, Kemp (whose been playing excellent), Billingsley, prospects? I think Billingsley and Kershaw together will outperform Peavy, plus they're younger.
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
I see zero chance that the Padres ever trade him to the Dodgers. I only included them because he'd go there. Those teams don't have much interest in making a deal with each other, for anybody, let alone Jake Peavy. Remember last year, when Greg Maddux said LA was the only team he'd go to, it took them weeks to get together. So the Padres' asking price on Peavy would be so high, it will never happen.
How would you rank the 2nd baseman in the bigs right now? Mine... 1. Utley 2. Kinsler 3. Pedroia 4. Roberts 5. Uggla
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Those would be my ratings, too -- today at least.
Victor ( Old Bridge, NJ)
All the people who have a vote for the HOF, can't penalize a player like Edgar Martinez for being only a DH. If you have a that position then he should be considered. Its a bit hypocritical to say a player isn't HOF worthy because he didn't play Defense. He should be considered just like a 2b or 3b. He excelled at his position which is DH.
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
I agree with that, Victor. I do think that for a DH to get elected, he needs to be more dominant than a hitter at another position, because he doesn't have any defensive credentials to add to his case. But Edgar was dominating enough for me. I know he started late, but I don't believe in magic numbers. I believe in comparing a player to his peers. And Edgar blows most of his peers away.
I'd put Brandon Phillips ahead of Uggla because of the difference in defensive ability.
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
Brandon Phillips also belongs in this debate, and on that list. He's a Gold Glove second baseman, but he wasn't as good offensively last year as the two previous years. So for now, I'm leaving that list alone. But it's definitely subject to change.
Have you heard any news about Lackey? Will he make it back any time soon?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
Looks like May sometime. But it's April 17, and he's still a long ways away from being ready to start a game in the big leagues.
Jason, Right now who's pitching staff is better off Mets or Phils. Thanks
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
They've both been major disappointments, but I'd go with the Mets. Santana has been way better than Hamels so far, and 2 thru 5 has been pretty much a wash.
What do you think the scene will be like in Philadelphia tomorrow with the big tribute to harry kalas? And also do you think the world series distractions with everything at the beginning of the season as well as now Harry Kalas's death has affected their play?
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
I don't think the Phillies are prepared for how many people are going to try to attend that service. It really wouldn't shock me if a couple of hundred thousand people attend -- or at least try to attend. This is such a personal loss for a lot of people, they're going to feel a need to be there. As for whether Harry's death has affected their play, I think that's way too convenient an explanation. They've only played two games since then, and they won one of them. They haven't been able to get into any rhythm, and that's affected their play. But what has really affected their play is their lousy starting pitching. They're always behind!
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
Hate to announce this, but I only have time for one more.
JD (San Diego)
Jayson, Why didn't the Cubs pursue Bobby Abreu instead of Milton Bradley. Abreu is the same type of hitter Bradley is in regards to taking pitches and his OBP and not to mention has much more durability over the years. He would of been a cheaper sign as well. Insight please.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
They had some interest in Bobby Abreu, but they didn't like the price tag early in the winter. (Who did?) And they preferred Bradley's energy to Abreu's lack thereof. If the price tag on Abreu early in the winter had been one year, $5 million, it might have been a different story.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. As always, terrific questions. See you next week in Chat Land.