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 (1:01 PM)
Greetings! Lots of fun stuff to talk about, other than You Know Who going back to Yankee Stadium tonight. So let's get started.
Peter Huisking (Atlanta, GA)
Does Chris Davis hit 60 Homeruns and is he your AL MVP? Who is your NL MVP and why?
Jayson Stark (1:03 PM)
I'll take the under on that. And Miguel Cabrera would be my AL MVP right now, with Davis and Trout in the thick of this conversation. Yadier Molina is still my NL MVP, but I think by the end of the season the MVP will be Andrew McCutchen
TB (Arlington, VA)
If you were the Nats, wouldn't you try to change managers at this point in a last-gasp attempt to salvage the season? It seems clear to many that Davey Johnson has lost the clubhouse, is a lame-duck manager and can no longer motivate this clearly underperforming team.
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
There is zero chance of the Nationals firing Davey. Mike Rizzo has made that clear. So this is a moot point. And given their place in the standings, there's no reason to do it. This team would have to play like .800 baseball the rest of the season to make the playoffs. And that's not going to happen.
who is the top under 25 position player and under 25 pitcher in the NL East???
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
Wow. Tough one. I'll go Freddie Freeman and Matt Harvey. What do I win?
Who has a better nucleus of young (26 and younger) players than the braves?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
That answer is nobody. I wrote about this in spring training. But that's the most interesting part of the Braves' story to me. They're positioned to do this for a long, long time.
Dan (Rapid City)
Pirates have been the story of the year so far. Do you think they should call up Andrew Lambo rather than try to work an unlikely waiver trade for another bat?
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
I think that's definitely something they're kicking around. And don't rule out a call-up of Polanco. There's no outfield bat they can trade for who is that talented.
Ed (Queens Village)
Are the Yankees in good or bad shape for the future?
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
The only reason they're in good shape is that there are still a few zillion bucks left in the checking account, and assuming A-Rod gets suspended for all of next year, they'll have great latitude to spend it. But other clubs I talk to think they're in trouble. Their best prospects haven't made progress. And this is a tough era to try to spend your way back into contention through the free-agent market.
you win props from a long time Braves fan and Tarheel. Follow up - Harvey versus Fernandez?? Tough call??
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
If you'd asked me 22 and younger, Fernandez would have been easy. But Harvey is more advanced right now. And as electric as Fernandez is, I still think Harvey has the best pure stuff in baseball. He has four dominating pitches. Not sure who else can say that.
Peter Huisking (Atlanta, GA)
Who has a better upside and more talent in rebuilding there Clubs....Marlins or Astros?
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
Let's put it this way: The Marlins are much closer to contention. The Astros have built a top-five system because they have so many guys in their system with big-league upside. But scouts who cover the Marlins think they could be in the playoffs in two years. And if they are, there could be good seats available!
Do you think Francisco Liriano can win the N.L cy young? or is Kershaw a lock?
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
Wrote about this last night. With all due respect to Liriano, Harvey, Wainwright or any other name you bring up, Clayton Kershaw would be an easy winner right now. Check out the names in my blog who have seasons comparable to his. Scary!
Puzzled look on my face after you said "this is a tough era to try to spend your way back into contention through the free-agent market." My LA Dodgers would beg to differ!
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
Take a look at next winter's free agents and get back to me.
A word of warning about the Braves: everyone thought that the Nats were poised to be dominant for a long time too. And the Braves have had a lot go right this year; if you look on paper the sum of the parts has been far more than most the individual performances on that team.
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
I don't disagree with that. But look around the field at that team. Three every-day players who are 23, and they're all tremendous. Justin Upton is 25. No starting pitchers in their 30s with Hudson and Maholm out. No other team has this many players this young doing what these guys are doing.
Hey Jayson! Saw your column today and I'm wondering why you made no mention of Chris Archer when discussing ROY candidates. To me, he's the top rookie in the AL up to now.
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
I didn't get into a long discussion of the AL ROY field, but he's certainly right in the middle of that race. Pretty much everyone's midseason pick was Jose Iglesias. But two months from now, this could be a very different conversation.
There hasn't been much talk about it, but one record that may be broken this year is the least number of errors by a team in a season. Orioles are on pace to have less than 50 errors-- 25% less than the 2003 Mariner's record. Pretty impressive-- there's been players with more errors in a season than the Orioles will have. Thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
Wrote about that today, too. No team has ever committed under 60 errors in a season, and the Orioles are on a pace to finish under 50. The Rays are also on a record pace, by the way. And both of those teams score high on the modern metrics, too.
Braves had a lot go wrong. O'Flaherty, Venters and Martinez out for the year. McCann and Freeman both spent time on the DL. Hudson out for the year now. And 3 guys hit below 200 for most of the year, with 2 of them still there. So what exactly went so right?
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
Not arguing that. I was agreeing with the statement that the whole has been greater than the sum of the parts. Any argument there?
Rob (Lime Rock. CT)
Are you hearing anything on Rios?
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
I doubt he gets traded in this scenario. The White Sox are under no pressure to deal him now unless they get a package that makes it worth their while. Why wouldn't they wait until the winter when they can get multiple teams involved?
Dan (Rapid City)
Braves have the softest 2nd half schedule of any playoff contender by far, they only have 7 games against teams with a winning record remaining. Do you think that will have a negative effect on their postseason performance?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
That wouldn't be my concern. My concern is that they could clinch so early. I think it's tough to cruise to the finish and then have to re-start the engines in October. This team is very capable of a big run, but it isn't likely it will enter the postseason on any sort of roll because there will be no reason to step on the ignition down the stretch.
I believe WAR is a bit overrated. Like what you said about Miggy having a better defensive WAR then Trout and Trout having a better offensive WAR then Miggy. What are your thought on WAR?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
I've corresponded a lot with Sean Foreman about what goes into baseball-reference's WAR computations. And I consider it the best, most accurate all-encompassing baseball stat ever invented. But the defense part of the equation is the part I differ with. Everyone knows that Trout is a better defender than Cabrera. But Cabrera rates more highly this year based on "positional adjustment." That's a tough concept for anyone who watches a lot of baseball to embrace. But the other thing is this: As a long-time MVP voter, I don't feel as if I'm required by law (or even Keith Law) to use WAR as my ultimate determination. I'm allowed to factor in other things, even though there's a segment of the Sabermetric crowd that doesn't believe in that.
Thoughts of a team with 2nd best record in the NL or AL having to play a win or go home game?
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
I was always a proponent of the one-game wild-card playoff, because it used to be embarrassing to see the Yankees and Red Sox going through September, barely even caring if they finished first. I like creating that kind of incentive to win the division. And that one-game playoff sure does that. But having said that, I totally understand the pain of a team that wins 95 games and loses in that wild-card game. It stinks, but the response to those teams is: You should have finished first. You had 19 games against the team that beat you, and if you'd taken care of business in those games, you wouldn't be in this position.
Jayson. Do you agree with the way Theo is going about rebuilding the Cubs? Stock the farm, stock the farm, stock the farm, even though it is a big market?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
I totally agree. His theory is that the way to win the World Series isn't to try to get the stars align in any one year. It's to make the playoffs six or seven or eight years out of 10. So they're building a foundation that makes that sustained success possible. Absolutely the way to go philosophically. Now he just has to conquer the Curse!
D.Ruf getting a lot of playing time right now. Your opinion of him for rest of 2013 and beyond? Thanks
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
I've asked a lot of people about him. He projects as a complementary player, not a centerpiece player. He's not an every-day outfielder given his defensive limitations. And he probably wouldn't give you the kind of production at first you'd be looking for if you were building to win a World Series. But he does have good at-bats and a good feel for hitting. So he's a big-leaguer, just not a star.
Javi (Tucson, Arizona)
The Dodgers are on a roll right now! Do you see them getting to the World Series this year? Who do you think will be their biggest challenge in the playoffs?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
Any team that rolls into the postseason with Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu at the top of its rotation could win the World Series. They need to stay healthy. They need to keep their bullpen in order. And it would be helpful if Matt Kemp would participate in the season at some point, too.
The Tigers finally went on the run many people had predicted to come. But how big was the loss of Omar Infante with Colby Rasmus making (in my mind) a extra rough slide into second base? Are the Tigers front runners for the World Series.
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
They'd be right at the top of my list right now. If Infante comes back, and with Iglesias at short, their defensive issues in the infield won't feel as glaring. And I love the lineup and all the potentially dominating arms in that rotation.
Jayson, With the Royals elite pitching and defense are they the most dangerous team in the wildcard race?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
The most dangerous? Depends, as always, on an offense that is finally showing signs it can score enough to win. But are they more dangerous than the Rays or Orioles? Are they more dangerous than the runner-up in the AL West? Not sure I'm ready to go there yet. But at least they're alive!
Joe D (Jersey City, NJ)
Jayson, here is another Miguel Cabrera possible achievement to consider. If Cabrera wins his 3rd consecutive batting title this year, he would be the first right handed hitter to do so since...Rogers Hornsby in 1925. In fact, only 3 right handed hitters have won 3 or more consecutive batting titles, and their names are Nap Lajoie, Hones Wagner and Rogers Hornsby. That in my opinion would be his most amazing accomplishment if he can cap it off this year.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
Good one, Joe! In my blog from last night, I talked about how amazing it would be for a guy to win the triple crown one year and then have a better season the next. But I never got into the three straight batting titles. He's scary good.
Jason--your thoughts on the extension that the Phillies gave to Chase Utley. GM Amaro refuses to see that this aging, underproducing team needs to be overhauled, and while Utley seems to be one of the harder-working athletes I have ever seen, it makes no sense to me that he be given an extension. What do you think? Thanks for all your fine work!
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
I agree with you in general. They keep talking about getting younger, and they keep re-signing their guys. But on a two-year guarantee, I have no problem with this one. He's still their best player and a guy who sets a different tone for the young players around him than their other veteran players do. My problem isn't with keeping him. It's just continuing to build around older players.
Sorry, Jason, but I have to call you out on being obtuse. Batting average means nothing in the modern game. If Cabrera wins another batting title, it tells us nothing about his greatness. It just shows that his BABIP was a little better than the rest of the league, meaning he is both good and lucky.
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Look, I recognize all the variables that go into batting average. And I understand that batting titles don't mean what they used to. But if you think Miguel Cabrera is lucky, you need to watch that guy a little more closely. Nothing about him says "lucky" to me.
If Beachy returns to his 2012 pre injury form, what do you think of Atlanta's rotation for '14? Minor, Teheran, Beachy, Medlen, etc. Maybe not Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz but pretty tough to be that.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
And Wood, right? I think we've set a record for most Braves questions in one chat. But I'm with you. Love the upside of Beachy and Teheran. I think Minor is incredibly underrated. And I expect big things from that group.
Drew (Fayetteville, NC)
With NL MVP being somewhat of a toss up at this point, any chance Kershaw can gain some steam in the MVP voting?
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
I think he belongs in the conversation. But MVP voting history tells us that these voters don't vote for a starting pitcher unless there's no position player who feels deserving. I doubt that's going to be the case this year if McCutchen keeps coming on, and with the seasons that Goldschmidt, Votto, Cargo, Yadi, etc. are having. But it's a conversation worth having. In fact, Buster and I had it on the podcast just this week!
Peter Huisking (Atlanta, GA)
If you were doing Fantasy Baseball, who would be your 1st pick to draft to your team? Who would you build a Franchise around if you were the GM, would it be a pitcher or a batter?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
Hard not to pick Trout. Isn't it? I always lean toward position players. And what player can change a game in more ways than him?
Brian (Cambridge, MA)
Not as proven yet, but I'd put a potential mid-'14 rotation of Harvey, Wheeler, Mejia, Syndergaard, and Montero (with Niese and Gee also contributing) right up there with the Braves. Now if only we had some young offense...
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
Yeah, that's a really excellent group. But I'm still not sure where the position players are coming from. And those position players come in handy, no matter how good your pitching is.
Lost in the dreck of the Giants second half is the fact that Cain and Lincecum have gone back to being their old selves, while Bumgarner has become a true front line guy. If Sabean can somehow add a little offense, these guys should be right back to contending next season.....right?
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
First off, you're assuming they are going to re-sign Lincecum. Which is very possible but far from a lock. Second, they need more depth in that rotation. I wouldn't count on another run like this from Chad Gaudin. But your point otherwise is good. Pitching and defense are always their foundation. And if they get that back on track, everything else always seems to fall into place there.
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Wow. This hour has flown by. I only have time for one more.
The Pirates are 9-2 in their last 11. While all the attention go to the Braves, Tigers and Dodgers right now with their win streaks is it reasonable to say they are flying under the radar with the best record in baseball? And do you think they are capable of actually competing for the World Series?
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Absolutely. Because they pitch. As I mentioned in that blog, their .229 opponent average is the lowest by an NL staff since the '86 Astros. I have reservations about that lineup against all the good pitching they'll see in October. But any team that plays that hard and pitches like they can pitch has a shot to beat anybody.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. Great questions today. See you down the road in Chat Land.