Hi, folks, hope all is well with you this week. We've got a couple of days to breathe now, to take stock in what we have seen and what we might see. My picks have been uniformly bad all year, so I have bad news for fans of the Rays and Dodgers -- I've picked them to meet in the World Series (this is my third try -- at the outset of the season, I had Indians-Cubs, and at the outset of the playofs, I had Cubs-Angels).
Please tell me something good about the Cubs that I can hold onto this winter and feel more fuzzy about 2009.
Kevin: You have a great team. You should have a great team next year. There's no sense in worrying all year whether it's good enough to win a five-game series in October; you never know until you get there how the matchups will look. If somebody told you on Aug. 28, when the Dodgers were 4.5 games behind the Diamondbacks and seemingly a couple of losses from being buried, that they would beat the team with the best record in the playoffs, what would you have said?
From Philadelphia...we thank you
Bill: You folks owe me a cheesesteak or something. I could have put the hex on you, instead.
Buster, it is correct to assume that if Vanderbilt makes it to a bowl game that the Olney family will be in attendance?
JR: One Olney will be. My 8-year-old and my 4-year-old and my wife think I'm just weird when I yell at the TV when Vanderbilt plays. I'll be going alone.
Ok, Buster. Sizemore or Mauer if your starting a team?
Jim: I love Sizemore, but I'd take Mauer -- and in the last week, I've had three GMs say the same thing to me. A guy who can lead a pitching staff and win you a batting title and hit good pitching -- not bad.
The AJC Braves beat writer David O?Brien has speculated that the Braves will target Jake Peavy this offseason to fill one of the top two positions in their rotation. How would you rate their chances of snagging Peavy and what would they have to give up? Thanks!
Tyler: Saw DOB's piece, and I think he's dead on -- but they cannot make that trade without dealing at least one of their three best prospects -- Hanson and Schaefer and Jason Heyward. We'll see if they take it that far.
So who is going to give K-Rod $75MM over 5 years after that horrible performance? I'd take Balfor and Howell over him in a heartbeat.
Eric: Especially with the turn in the economy, I don't think there's a chance that he'll get 5/75 million. I just don't think there are teams willing to extend themselves that far, and that deeply, for a closer.
Redsox vs. the Dodgers would be the MLB dream matchup
Mike -- no question that is what Fox wants. Manny and Torre vs. Boston, etc., with lots of questions about how Boston will react to Manny.
do you think the red sox will go to the world series ????
Brandon: I got the Rays in six in the next round, so if you are a Sox fan, you should feel good about this; I'm constantly wrong this year in my predictions.
Please tell me you agree that the attempted suicide squeeze last night was the absolute wrong call. Aybar has a high contact rate (86%) and basically any contact would get the runner home. I think Scioscia's ego got the best of him there.
Dan: I don't think it was ego with Scioscia, but I do agree with you that it was a surprising call, especially with Delcarmen throwing so damn hard at the time. Tough guy to bunt off of; I'd have been more inclined to let Aybar swing away.
Will MLB ever change the 5 game LDS to a 7 game series?
Joel: A lot of GMs -- A LOT -- want a change there. But in order for that to happen, the season would either have to be shaved down, or extended into November, and I don't think that's going to happen.
Do you see the White Sox doing anything to improve going into next year and making a push for another pennant?
Jason: Pure speculation on my part, but here's the perfect guy for them -- Rafael Furcal. If he stayed healthy, he'd give them a very dynamic presence at the top of their order.
You don't think the Mets will buck up and sign KRod for that monster contract? It is a bad economy and all, but their bullpen was terrible and despite his perfomance against the Sox he's still a solid closer...and he's Hispanic, so Omar's gotta be drooling to have him.
Alex: Not for that kind of dough, I don't think so. I think they'll be more likely to go after Brian Fuentes for a pricey but not quite so bloated contract.
Better watch it, Buster. The Northwestern Cats are gaining on your Dores for nerd-school football supremacy...
The D: You guys have already had your run at royalty, for God's Sake. You've played in the Rose Bowl in our lifetimes, after all. We just want a winning record for the first time since... I was a freshman, sadly.
Hey Buster! Earlier you said you would take Joe Mauer if you were starting a team. I am intersted to know which pitcher you would take for your pitching staff?
Josh: Depends on what you were looking for -- a team that could win now, or a team that you were building. If it were a team that would win now, I'd go with Halladay or Sabathia or Santana. For a team that would win long-term, I might go Jon Lester, who just keeps getting better and better and better, or Chad Billingsley.
Did I screw up by not taking a package that included Lester for Johan?
Bill: I'll be honest with you -- I don't know how much of that was smokescreen and how much was real. This much I know was real: At one point, they could have gotten a package around Phil Hughes, and even now, after Hughes had a terrible year, you still hear executives say they were stunned that the Twins didn't rush to complete a deal for Hughes when they had a chance.
Do you think Lackey's comments toward the Red Sox and Pedroia were uncalled for? Seemed to me that he should have directed his anger at his team, who gave him 3 runs of support over 2 starts.
Bob: Nah, they didn't bother me. He was being honest, and after they won 100 games, that's how he felt. Lackey is a good guy and is respectful, and I suspect that he was more angry and frustrated by the Angels' failures than he was dissing the Red Sox. If you and I played pick-up basketball, I might always believe I could beat you... (if I was any good). And vice versa. Nothing wrong with that.
Buster, why do we still have the day off between Games 4 and 5 of the LCS this year? Last year they added it because they wanted to delay the start of the World Series to the best TV day. They couldn't have planned it better this year to eliminate that stupid day off? Better planning, and they might be able to pull off the 7 game LDS.
Luke: TV schedule. Plain and simple.
Have you ever seen such a "fundamentally sound team" like the Angels play such a horrible series? Pitching, hitting , fielding, baserunning every games mistake after mistake. Do you really think that Aybar had a better chance of laying down a squeeze than someone- anyone hitting a flyball or a bleeder not at someone. I think Scioscia took a hit in this series. Your thoughts?
Dom: Baseball Solutions keeps some stuff on baserunning, and this year, the Angels actually fare badly in that. I do wonder if the fact that they really didn't have to play a meaningful, pressure-packed game all year came back to bite them. It doesn't mean that they aren't a great team, but they lapped the field twice in the AL West and knew by July 1, for all practical purposes, that they were going to make the playoffs. On the other hand, the Rays, White Sox and Red Sox all had to fight for their lives for most (or all, in the case of the White Sox) of September.
Hi Buster, the Tigers were a HUGE letdown, what do you see them doing this offseason to fix their rotation? Is a Mags trade a good idea?
Neil: They have a really, really tough challenge, because they're cutting payroll at the same time that they don't have a lot of quality prospects. So at the same time they don't have a lot of money to spend, they don't have many prospects to deal. They need to get lucky, in a sense, and have some guys emerge unexpectedly -- and if they can get somebody good for Mags, they should do it. But given his age and his contract, I wonder how much value he really has, despite his offensive numbers in 2008.
Do you ever see Mauer hitting 15-20 hrs consistently in his career?
Peter: 12 to 15 might be more like it. Maybe when he gets older and he starts to catch less, he might start hitting for more power. But I wouldn't worry about that if I were the Twins -- a left-handed hitting catcher with a .400 OBP and a .330 batting average would be good enough for me, and I wouldn't worry about the power.
Any chance Mike Scioscia gets fired?
Mark: If that happened, hell would freeze over on the same day. That would be a stunner.
Hi Buster: What, in your opinion, will be the deciding factors for the Dodgers-Phillies series?
Jim: Brett Myers to me is the pivotal guy in the series. If he is dominant, the Phillies will win, and if he is Mr. Hyde, like he was in the first half -- 4-9, 5.84, a trip to the minors -- I don't think they have a chance.
Buster - How's this for a November conversation at Chavez Ravine between Manny and Ned Colletti: "So Manny, how many years do you want to sign for? 4 years, really...OK! How much you want per year? $20 million, really...no problem! Give me just a second to write that up..."
Harry: Personally, if I were running the Dodgers and I had $100 million available, I'd pass on Manny and spend that money on a pitcher -- CC Sabathia. I am absolutely fascinated by Manny and his contract situation, because his performance and his out-and-out hustle for the Dodgers is doing more to enrage executives in the game, rather than impress them -- because it confirms that he absolutely dogged it in his last days with the Red Sox. All it takes is one frothing owner to give Manny a big deal, but I suspect he's going to get far less than the 4/100 million deal that he was telling teammates about earlier this year. If he gets $50 million, I'd be surprised; I just don't think there will be a lot of bidders for a deal of more than two years for a guy with a history of quitting on his team, regardless of how good he's been for the Dodgers (and he's been unbelievable, no question).
Busta, what's up with the Phillies offense? Will they go on thier one inning scoring spurt or finally breakout of it and start pounding some home runs?
Adam: Our esteemed colleague Mr. Gammons made an interesting observation about the Phillies-Dodgers series -- it's a matchup of lowball hitters on Philadelphia against the lowball pitchers of the Dodgers. I'd give the edge to the Dodgers; Derek Lowe, who figures to have more teams trying to woo him than any other free agent this fall, is pitching great.
Tom Verducci speculated that Manny would be a good fit with the Jays. Any chance Ramirez would consider playing north of the border??
James: I'm sure they'd love him. The question is how satisfied he would be playing for much less than he expected -- and I can't see the Jays offering him more than $40-$50 million over three years.
If you're the Phillies, do you basically just walk Manny every time and take your chances with Ethier? I mean, Ethier had one hit in the entire Cubs series.
Phil: Basically, yes, I totally agree with you. Manny right now is a mismatch (in his favor) against anybody. I am going to be curious to see if anybody dusts Manny at some point, because history shows this is one thing that can unnerve him. I'd bet the Red Sox might take this approach if the Dodgers were to face Boston in the World Series.
What kind of numbers will Lowe be getting and I think he would be a perfect fit in Milwaukee?
Jim: I think the Yankees are going to throw a boatload of money at Lowe, and he will wind up in pinstripes. He is absolutely, 100 percent perfect for them, and they will go the extra mile financially to make it happen.
Buster: What do you foresee the M's doing this offseason? Bavasi's only direction appeared to be to drive the team into the ground, gut the farm, and tie up the books for the next few years with mediocrity. Is there any chance our new GM (to be named later) has any hope of fixing things in the next couple of years, or will the M's be in the cellar for a while?
Jon: Hopefully, whoever takes that job -- whether it's Kim Ng or Peter Woodfork or Tony LaCava or Jerry DiPoto or somebody else -- they are given lots of time, because it is a job that will require time. If I took that job, I'd trade any older player with value that I could -- Adrian Beltre, Ichiro (Cubs?), whoever -- for prospects. The M's need to reload.
What do you think of the yanks getting Pevy in a trade and going after Lowe or Dempster in fa market? Then spending the money on texeria and another OF ?
Juanito: I think they'll go hard after Lowe in the FA market, and they might dabble in the Peavy talks but won't reach a deal.
What team have the best advance scouting in the two series? T hanks.
DL: Interesting question. To one degree or another, they all have good scouting -- but the question is how the players implement the information passed onto them. For example: The Dodgers' staff really feels that the pitchers did a great job following, with much discipline, the scouting reports prepared for them before the Cubs' series. The Red Sox execs feel that Varitek is very good about this. And the Rays' scouting work seems subtle and effective.
Mr. Olney, Any hope for our Buc's?
Frank: Are you gleaning hope from the Rays' emergence? Hope so; you should. Although I wouldn't be planning on any playoff tickets until 2011 or 2012, at the earliest. Lots of work to be done on that pitching staff.
The only reason Manny quit in Boston was because Boras told him to so his option wouldn't get picked up...once Boras gets his commission off Manny's new contract he won't have to interfere anymore. Manny doesn't have a history of quitting. Eccentric behavior yes, quitting no.
Nate: I don't know what Boras told Manny, and it wouldn't necessarily surprise me if an agent told a player what you suggest -- but in the end, Manny is a grown 37-year-old man who makes the decision for himself whether to conduct himself with integrity, or not. And in this case, he made the choice (it seems) to quit on his team.
Buster, love your blog. What do you think the Yankees roster will look like next year - what free agent pitchers will they get and what free agents do they let go and please tell me they don't sign Manny!! Alot of question marks for the yankees going into next year!!
John: I'm jealous I missed the leaf season in your parts. I seriously doubt they will pursue Manny at any price, and their offer to Teixeira might be half of what he's looking for; I think they'll try to sign CC (while being prepared for the possibility that he'll play elsewhere), and really go after Lowe with all money guns blazing.
Why do you seem to hate the Phillies? You always pick against them and never seem to mention them positively. Do you really think our lefty lineup won't kill the dodgers right handed pitching??
Dan: yeah, that blog on Shane Victorino today was a hack job. And the fact that I picked them to beat the Brewers... well, anyway....
How much will CC Sabatia get onthe FA market?
Vik: If he plays in New York, then he'll get a Santana like contract. If he goes elsewhere, he'll get $20 million to $40 million less. All depends on what he wants -- and he's created an incredible buffet of choices for himself.
Buster, how does the Boston rotation project for the ALCS with Lester having pitched last night? Do the Rays gain a small advantage being able to win the series with Sonnanstine, thus having Shields and Kazmir well rested?
Adam: Heard this informed speculation this morning -- Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Byrd in Games 1-7. It's hard to start Wakefield against the Rays because they run so well.
OK Buster, I want to call E.S.P.N. out on something: everyone here in Philly gets the idea that all you guys HATE the Phillies. Is that true?
Patrick: Look at how many folks picked the Phillies in the first round. Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick are from Philly. Mike Golic played in Philly, and Sal Pal is a legend there. Why would anyone think we hate Philly?
What's with the anti-West Coast bias? It's really sickening. The Dodgers destroy the Cubs, and the media coverage is all about how the Cubs lost, what the Cubs didn't do, the curse, etc. Nothing is mentioned about how well the Dodgers. ESPN needs to get over this.
Joe: Yes, see your point, we haven't mentioned Joe and Manny at all.
Buster - aside from the usual August swoon, the O's were pretty competitive this year. How improved do you think they'll be in '09 and more importantly '10 when Wieters, Tillman and others will be up and Jones will have a few years under his belt. Plus Teixeira hopefully.
Steve -- I hope they take a big step forward. It'd be great to see Camden Yards inspired again. But let's face it, they are four or five pitchers away from being rreally elevant in the AL East conversation.
What's with the pro-bias bias? Why do you take so many questions about bias? Why is ESPN biased towards bias-based questions?
LOL, Paul... excellent work.
Will the Mets trade Wright, Reyes, or Beltran? I think they have to trade one of them after another collapse. I think Wright would be the best choice to go because he did nothing in September.
Brett: I think they'd be crazy to trade Reyes or Wright... I talked with Omar Minaya last week and he speaks volumes about Carlos Beltran's ability to grind. So I don't think any of those three are being dealt.
Buster - The Delmon Young thing didn't exactly work out this year for the Twins, do you see them trying to move him this off-season? Thanks
John: Yes. His star is falling quickly.
With that, folks, my time is up. Thanks for all the great questions -- about 1,000. We'll talk to you next week.