Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

August 28, 3:28 PM ET
Chat with Buster Olney

Buster Olney
  (1:02 PM)

Hi, folks, hope all is well; 27 days to go in the regular season, and as always, lots of story lines. I am thinking today that if I had a vote in the NL MVP discussion (and I don't), I'd probably have a top 3 of Pujols, Sabathia, Reyes. Other nominations, please...

john (Ny, Ny)

Whats wrong with Zambrano, should we be worried about him tonight?

Buster Olney
  (1:04 PM)

John: He keeps telling the Cubs he's OK, that he's not hurt. And in the past, he's told them this, when his arm angle has dipped, and he's been fine. The scouts who've seen Zambrano recently say, again, that his arm angle is down, and they wonder if something is there. In short: We'll see. If he gets knocked around tonight and there is any evidence of a problem, the Cubs will shut him down and focus on trying to get him right for October.

Jay (Cincinnati, OH)

With rumors suggesting the Reds will be major players in the free agent market this offseason, do you think they will go after some of the bigger names, and if so, who do you see as likely or possible targets?

Buster Olney
  (1:06 PM)

Jay: I really don't see that this kind of approach would help them, because they will have a very hard time -- in fact, it's probably an impossible task -- trying to lure a frontline starting pitcher into their park. They just need to identify a CFer, and focus on getting Aaron Harang back in order and on developing their young pitching, and on settling the left side of their infield.

Avi (St. Paul)

Buster, Great work on here and also the network. Glen Perkins has quietly put together a solid season. If he wins four more games and finishes with 16 wins, an ERA around 3.5 and the twins win the division, he has to be in the running for ROY, especially with Longoria being out. Please tell me this idea isnt far fetched...

Buster Olney
  (1:08 PM)

Avi: He definitely is in the discussion. Right now, I'd put Longoria and Alexei Ramirez ahead of him. But if he keeps winning and Longoria's return is delayed and the Twins make the playoffs ahead of the White Sox, there would be a lot of discussion about this in the last two weeks, for sure.

Sam (Cambridge, MA)

I am a Red Sox fan, however I was quite surprised to see the Red Sox and other teams not really go after veteran relievers. I know that Gagne was a bust last year, but why were more veteran guys such as Doug Brocail not moved for mid-level prospects? I mean maybe they were not around this year, but sometimes a change of scenery is all a guy needs? Do teams really like the young power arms that much and think they are not much better even lacking experience?

Buster Olney
  (1:10 PM)

Sam: They made a move on Brocail and were rebuffed. The simple fact is that there wasn't a lot that was available; the Tigers tried and tried and tried, and wound up settling for Kyle Farnsworth. In so many cases, the solutions (Samardzija, Balfour, Howell) for the contenders have come from within, and that's the way it has to be for the Red Sox, too. They need an Okajima or a Delcarmen to step forward.

Jeff (East Bay, CA)

How is anybody but Lincecum MVP? Webb might have more wins...but considering the run support the Giants DON'T provide...what Lincecum has done this year has been amazing? And no...I'm not biased.

Buster Olney
  (1:13 PM)

Jeff: MVP? Really? You rarely see MVPs come from non-contenders. If you mean the Cy Young Award, I suspect that Webb's two outings have taken him out of the lead for that award, and the advantage now belongs to Lincecum.

Steve (Boston)

Bigger disappointment: Yankees, Tigers or Dodgers?

Buster Olney
  (1:15 PM)

Steve: Hmmmm. Depends on how you define it. I picked the Indians to win the World Series, and they obviously have been much less than that. I didn't think the Tigers were going to be very good because they lacked pitching. I'd say the Mariners might be the biggest disappointment, because they simply did not perform anywhere near expectations. The same could be said for the Yankees, too -- if you look at their roster, only Rivera, Damon and Mussina performed to what expectations were, or above them.

Randy (Tempe, Arizona)

Does Dustin Pedroia have a legitimate shot at the AL MVP?

Buster Olney
  (1:15 PM)

Randy: He's legitimately in the discussion, in a year in which we don't have a 50 HR/150 RBI candidate. I'd probably pick Carlos Quentin, if the voting were today and I had a vote.

Phil (L.I., NY)

I noticed that you didn't mention Wright for MVP consideration. Does Sept. #'s for Wright make or break his case? and if you put Sabathia in, why not Delgado? thanks

Buster Olney
  (1:18 PM)

Phil: Wright is in the discussion, for sure, but here's why I don't think you can pick Delgado -- if we're willing to pick an MVP based on a short period of production, rather than an entire season, then you would have to pick Sabathia. I think you could make a rational argument that he has been the single biggest difference-maker in the NL this year, with the Brewers nine games over .500 in his starts, and while Delgado has been great in July and August, his struggles helped to put them in the hole they dug in the first three months. Among the short-track candidates, Delgado's got demerits, and CC doesn't.

Alex (San Diego, CA)

What do you think about the NL CY Young race. Does Lincecum have a shot. Do you think, with his history, Sabathia can extend his dominance going into the playoffs, even with the amount of innings he has been pitching. If you could pick the World Series teams from the AL and NL, who do you have?

Buster Olney
  (1:19 PM)

Alex: I think Lincecum leads this race as we chat today; 10 days ago, Webb was the leader. So a lot can change in the final 27 days.

Nate (Madison)

How can you put Delgado ahead of Braun for NL MVP talk? He has better numbers in almost every category, has been carrying the Brewers along with CC, but he has been doing it all year.

Buster Olney
  (1:20 PM)

Nate: I didn't put Delgado ahead of Braun, for the record. My top 3, as of today, would be Pujols, Sabathia, Jose Reyes.

Travis (DC)

Cliff Lee has to be the AL Mvp. Anyone who accounts for a third of their teams wins is the most valuable. Period.

Buster Olney
  (1:21 PM)

Travis: I see your point, but can you be the most valuable player of anything if your team is among the most disappointing in the game?

Roy Halladay (Toronto, ON)

Is there any way I could steal the Cy Young award from Cliff Lee or Francisco Rodriguez?

Buster Olney
  (1:23 PM)

Roy: You need some bad starts from Cliff Lee to overtake him. He leads in wins and ERA, and that's a pretty potent combo. But you can be heartened by the fact that if there was a poll of 30 GMs (as a scout mentioned to me today), about 25 of them would take you, if they could choose among all AL starting pitchers.

Scott (Chicago)

Your school beat my school. I owe you a Coke, good Buster.

Buster Olney
  (1:24 PM)

Scott: Thanks. We'll take them when we can get them. I want to dream of a winning season, but ... We must stay focused. South Carolina, South Carolina, South Carolina.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

If Lee gets the Cy Young, he has to get the Comeback Player of the Year too, right?

Buster Olney
  (1:25 PM)

J.B.: that's an easy call, for sure. Good point.

Kerry Wood (Chicago, IL)

I'd like to appeal the one hit I gave up during my 20 strikeout game in 1998. Blauser should have had that ball. Do I have a no hitter?

Buster Olney
  (1:25 PM)

Kerry: Please send the DVD. And please include the rant from your manager, Jim Riggleman.

John (Middlebury, VT)

Yankees have alot of tough decisions to make this offseason, do you think they will re-sign Abreu, also, don't you think they need another big bat as opposed to starting pitcher? I think age is catching up to their line-up and could use Texiera, young lefty power hitter, much more than another starting pitcher. Your thoughts?

Buster Olney
  (1:27 PM)

John: If I were running the Yankees, it would be all about getting younger and staying flexible, and avoiding the big contracts for players like Teixeira. And I would be locked in on this: Sometime in the next two years, somebody -- either someone from the farm system, or somebody acquired in a trade -- must take over at shortstop. That will be the Yankees' biggest personnel issue in 2009 and 2010.

Mike (San Diego)

The Padres have brought up all of their minor leaguers to boost their chances in the all-out war with the Nationals for the first pick in the draft. Who will win?

Buster Olney
  (1:29 PM)

Mike: The Padres. And then they will have to consider taking the San Diego State pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, who happens to be represented by Scott Boras. That will be a fascinating decision faced by the Padres.

Jim(WI)

Of the contending teams, which can you actually picture winning the WS(And do any of those come from the NL west?)?

Buster Olney
  (1:31 PM)

Jim: Hmmmm... Off the top of my head, I could see the Cubs, D-Backs, Angels, Rays or Red Sox winning it all. The Brewers are tremendous, but I wonder about their bullpen in October. Keep in mind that two years ago, I didn't think the Cardinals would win a game in the post-season -- they were clearly the worst team entering post-season -- and they found a way.

Matt (CT)

Buster isnt the best way for the Yankees to get younger is let all of ther FA go and get early picks and then go big in next year draft and also try and sign like you said lower teir FAs?

Buster Olney
  (1:32 PM)

Matt: That's part of getting younger. I'd offer Abreu a one-year deal, for example, through arbitration, and as you say, if he walks away, then you get the draft pick.

John (Detroit)

It was actually Kevin Orie that "booted" the grounder in the Wood 20-K game, not Blauser. And yes, it's sad that I remember that.

Buster Olney
  (1:32 PM)

John: Thanks for clarifying, sir...

Waltham, MA

Buster, There has been a lot of talk in Boston about Dustin Pedroia being a serious consideration for the MVP award. It is unlikely that the 5 foot 7 superstar will get the award but, where do you think the Redsox would be without him?

Buster Olney
  (1:33 PM)

Waltham: he reminds me of Jeter in his heyday, when he seemed to give the Yankees exactly what they needed on a given day. This is what Pedroia does now.

Jeff (KCMO)

Buster, Dayton Moore was quoted in todays KC Star that there will be a major overhaul of his current roster. FA dont rush here, and we need high draft picks more than bloated contracts. Little talent above AA, and 25man roster devoid of position talent, where exactly does my DM the GM expect to get his new roster from?

Buster Olney
  (1:35 PM)

Jeff: I saw that and found it interesting, and wondered about it the same way that you did. I'm assuming that he's going to be looking for a shortstop, maybe an offensive player, but I can't imagine that spending a ton of dough would make a lot of sense for the Royals. I'm looking forward to talking with the Royals about their thoughts moving forward...

Jim (NJ)

Ok Buster, you opened it up: what do you do with Jeter? OF, 2B or 1B?

Buster Olney
  (1:35 PM)

Jim: first base or the outfield. He'd be a good outfielder, and a great first baseman.

John (Middlebury, VT)

Wow, you think that Jeter is done at shortstop in two years? I didn't think his defense has diminished to that degree, am I wrong? Also, were do they put him, DH and first base seems to be full for some time.

Buster Olney
  (1:37 PM)

John: The Yankees are facing a turnover, and Jeter is ranked in the bottom third in the league among shortstops, and he'll be 35 next year. If he's the shortstop all the way through his current contract, in 2010, I'd be surprised.

Tom(Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Buster, seem as though Twins Bullpen is a little worn, is this a cause for concern relative to winning AL Central.

Buster Olney
  (1:38 PM)

Tom: No question, this is a problem. It'll be interesting to see if they get some late-season help from some surprising source -- that is the volatile nature of middle relievers. You get some guy who suddenly starts throwing the heck out of the ball and he can carry you a long way (Okajima last year, for example).

Mark (Clearwater, fl)

Don't give me any balony Olney, why is it so concievable that the Red Sox can catch the Rays yet the Brewers are considered only as Wild card rather then catching the Cublets? I'd rather have the Brewers sched then the Cubs.

Buster Olney
  (1:41 PM)

Mark: I'm not sure if you're serious. The Cubs are a pretty good team, and it really can't be a shock that they're viewed as the favorite to hold their big lead in the NL Central. Great rotation, great bullpen, deep lineup, good bench -- and they just happened to have crushed the Brewers in the last meeting between the two teams.

Derrick (Tulsa, OK)

Do you believe the rumors that the Padres will reduce payroll to as low as $40 mil next season?

Buster Olney
  (1:41 PM)

Derrick: yes.

Nick (ATL)

Would you fire Leyland after the tigers flop this year?

Buster Olney
  (1:42 PM)

Nick: No, the problem is not the manager. The problem, since last January, is that the pitching is suspect and shallow. And it may take the Tigers awhile to get that right.

Thomas J, MN

Next spring, I expect the media to be talking Tigers, Indians and Sox in the AL Central (again). At what point will the "experts" give in and predict the Twins to compete for the AL Central? Why call it a surprise if they manage to be there almost annually?

Buster Olney
  (1:42 PM)

Thomas: I picked them to win the World Series in 2005 and was wrong.

#13 (Bronx, NY)

If Jeter isn't going to play SS, would NY consider me?

Buster Olney
  (1:43 PM)

No. You're not getting any younger, either. The issue is identifying a young shortstop who can make the pitching staff better.

Todd (Philly)

Buster - your best guess - does Maddux catch Spahn or hang it up first?

Buster Olney
  (1:43 PM)

Todd: he catches him.

Chris (Phoenix)

Does Dontrelle Willis own the worst contract in baseball right now? I mean at least Zito is pitching in the big leagues and not doing too bad. Giambi is having an ok year... who am i missing?

Buster Olney
  (1:44 PM)

Chris: hard to beat Zito's deal as the worst in the game right now, but it was surprising that the Tigers didn't at least wait until Willis had a taste of the AL before giving him that $28 million

Paul(Glendale, AZ)

Buster, I agree Pedroia give them exactly what they need everyday minus the fist(forearm)pump, and thank god for that! I agree the Yankees must get younger in order to compete, but I don't see how they avoid the fat contract. Moving into a new stadium and two veteran starters on the way out, I see them backing up the truck fo CC, your thoughts?

Buster Olney
  (1:46 PM)

Paul: I think you make the offer to CC, and in the end, I think he'll sign elsewhere. It'd be better to offer a big three-year deal to a Sheets or a Burnett. Ten years ago, the Yankees were stacked up the middle, with Posada, Jeter, Bernie. As of today, it's hard to say who will be manning those positions in 2010, so this has to be the priority for the Yankees.

Pete (NJ)

Make a call. Mets or Phillies?

Buster Olney
  (1:47 PM)

Pete: I picked the Braves in the preseason and have switched back and forth, so really, I have no credibility. On paper, I think the Phillies should win, considering the state of the Mets' bullpen. But hey, the Mets are hanging on.

andrew cleveland ohio

Will Cliff Lee win the CY Young and who should the Indians target this winter?

Buster Olney
  (1:49 PM)

Andrew: yes, if the voting were today, he'd win handily. Clearly, the Indians need a banger of some kind, but it might be a mid-level hitter, like an Ibanez type. It'll be a tough winter to find any kind of a hitter who can make an impact.

Richard (Beverly Hills, CA)

I really appreciate your blog - it's the first thing I read every morning to get my baseball "fix." Since the Cubs have no lost a series in weeks but they've lost a "shocking" three in a row at home, can you please tell Cub fans that the sky isn't falling (i.e. 1969)?

Buster Olney
  (1:51 PM)

Richard: thanks for the kind words... Agree, the sky is not falling for the Cubs. Now, if Zambrano walks off the mound tonight after 1.2 innings, then there would be something to be worried about. But I really don't think that's going to be the case. The Cubs are a great team.

Ben (Omaha, NE)

I asked Neyer and I'll ask you too, do you think the fact that the Twins will be playing in an outdoor stadium instead of the Metrodome will cost them a few games in the next couple years? That Metrodome is a pretty big home field advantage to lose.

Buster Olney
  (1:52 PM)

Ben: I don't know if they'll lose games, but they'll lose toes to frostbite. Players and scouts are absolutely scared to death about how brutal the cold will be in the new park, outdoors in early April. Maybe this will be the Twins' new homefield advantage ... or maybe not. Joe Mauer (Minnesota product) and Justin Morneau (former hockey goalie) will be well-prepared.

Derrick (Tulsa, OK)

Thanks for the Padres answer earlier, even though it wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. How long do you believe it will be before the Padres are good again?

Buster Olney
  (1:53 PM)

Derrick: They could be good next year. The threshold for success in that division is not that high.

Keith (South Dakota)

Hey Buster, quick one: Denard Span as the AL ROY?

Buster Olney
  (1:54 PM)

Keith: No, I'd take Longoria. But I am going to be curious to see how many votes Span gets for the Gold Glove, because I haven't seen a better outfielder in baseball this year than him.

charles cincinnati ohio

What kind of baseball player do you believe Lebron James would be?

Buster Olney
  (1:55 PM)

Charles: Awful. With his long arms, pitchers would bust him inside (see Michael Jordan). I've seen a lot of NBA guys take batting practice, and it's not pretty.

Brad (phx)

Buster,...I've got under 71.5 wins on the Giants this year. 25 games to go, 13 wins and I lose, 13 losses and I win. Which way will it go?

Buster Olney
  (1:57 PM)

Brad: It works against you that Lincecum is chasing a Cy Young Award, because otherwise, you might've seen the Giants ease up on his appearances. But I say you win your bet.

Mike (NYC)

What is up with Pedro Alvarez?

Buster Olney
  (1:59 PM)

Mike: He should just take the $6 million (that's a pretty good day, eh, to make $6 million with one signature) and start his career. The longer he sits out, the more he puts himself at risk, and the longer it'll take him to develop. His situation makes no sense to me, but at this point -- he always has the right to step in and finish the Pittsburgh deal -- we can safely say that it's his choice to follow this path. With that, folks, my time is up... thanks for all the great questions. We'll be back next week...