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February 3, 7:52 AM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:00 PM)

Welcome to Day 3 of the Battle of the Budgets. I love my team. Can't wait to find out what you folks think of it. So let's get started.


I like your team the best. I think it's well balanced. Buster has too many pitchers and no hitting right now, Rob has great hitters but no pitchers, and Steve...I don't know what he has except a high payroll. What is your strategy to wrap up the draft?

Jayson Stark
  (1:02 PM)

KT, you might be the most astute baseball observer I've ever known. Of course, the standard for that is people who agree with my picks. But I really did think about balance from the beginning. I researched affordable players at all positions and tried to jump on choices where I knew the depth would dry up late in the draft. I think, by the end of the 15th round, I'm in great shape.

TJ (Marlborough MA)

Jayson, I'm loving the battle of the budgets. Being as the draft is over, How does Steve Phillips stay under the cap? He's got 10 picks remaining and 6.1 million dollars to spend on them. Aside from that I've liked the strategies involved and your rotation is as good as any out there (excepting busters perhaps)

Jayson Stark
  (1:04 PM)

If you read the comments that went with today's picks, you'll see we all agree totally with that. Steve proved what a big-budget spend-a-holic he really is with these picks. Trying to navigate those last 10 rounds, knowing he can pretty much only pick players making the minimum, is a real challenge. But believe me. The salary-cap police are onto him!

Jeff (San Francisco)

Jayson, looking for a bargain? Matt Cain should be a dark horse here.

Jayson Stark
  (1:06 PM)

Matt Cain was high on my list. That's all I can tell you. The one thing I think all of us wondered about with him was how the computer simulation would project him. If it just used raw stats, he's a dominator. If win-loss record gets factored in, then maybe not so much. I know that stopped me from taking him early.

KC (City of Brotherly Love PA)

How strict is the simulation on position changing? You need a shortstop and a solid low priced option is Asdrubal Cabrera. Even though he plays 2B for the Tribe he's a natural shortstop.

Jayson Stark
  (1:08 PM)

We asked about this in several cases. We were told there will definitely be a penalty if we try to play players out of position. There's a greater penalty for a player moving to a "harder" position (like left field to center), and less of a penalty for a player moving to an "easier" position, like shortstop to third base or first. But you can't just play anybody whereever you want, just to get his bat in the lineup, and think that won't cost you.

Gary (Delaware, OH)

I do believe that as of now your team is stacked. However, I am not on board with how the others feel about Phillips' team. His offense is loaded and if Lester, Garza and Nolasco pitch up to potential then he has three definite no. twos with any one of them becoming a #1.

Jayson Stark
  (1:11 PM)

Steve has a tremendous team, with a bunch of impact players. But here's his problem: He used a lot of his early picks on guys who make a lot of money, when my feeling is that those players -- or at least many of them -- would be available in the later rounds. You can see that Buster and I, especially, loaded up on as many low-salaried star-type players as we could early on. But Steve couldn't help himself. You can take the GM out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the GM.

Luke(Saint Paul)

How has Mauer not been picked? he doesnt make that much, is great defensively and he has 2 batting titles to his name at a position not known for hitters.

Jayson Stark
  (1:12 PM)

If we'd done this two years ago, he'd have been the first player picked. But 2009 is the year where his long-term deal starts giving him some serious earning power. He's at $10.5 million this year. So too expensive for a $40 million team.

Cliff (Blacksburg, VA)

If you had to pick a team, what team do you believe can pull a turnaround like the Rays?

Jayson Stark
  (1:14 PM)

I actually wrote about this a couple of weeks ago. I was asked to pick my "surprise" team of 2009. I went with the Marlins. Tremendous starting pitching. Wouldn't surprise me if they stole that division.

Brian (Michigan)

What would happen if somebody drafted Manny? He doesnt have a contract right now, so he doesnt count against your payroll, right?

Jayson Stark
  (1:15 PM)

Believe me, having 100 unsigned free agents created lots of issues. The ruling was, we couldn't take anybody who was unsigned. So Manny was a non-entity for us. A lot like he is in real life to most of these teams, apparently.

Tyler (STL)

I think Rob has the best team so far because he has 3 great OF and a really good 2B and then he has money still left to spend.

Jayson Stark
  (1:18 PM)

I thought Rob had the most interesting, and least predictable, picks of all of us. There were times we were thinking on totally the same wavelength -- especially on guys like James Shields and Brian McCann. And then there were times he completely shocked me, like with Alex Gordon and Ubaldo Jimenez. I thought he'd have been more numbers-oriented. Instead, he took some of these guys almost as if he was buying stock in them, not buying what they've done so far.

Steve (NYC)

Your first four picks are easily the best four of the draft. How did Longoria fall that far?

Jayson Stark
  (1:20 PM)

Thanks, buddy. Then how come nobody was voting for me in that poll the other day? I can't tell you how much fun that was, to take Hamilton, Longoria, Hamels, Billingsley and Kinsler, back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back, and still have so many dollars left in the checking account.

Matt (Philly)

Looking at this draft, I can't help but wonder how many Phillies would have been taken two or three years ago. That team was full of young guys promoted through the system, but now they all make a ton of money. You could have taken: Hamels, Myers, Utley, Howard, Victorino, Madson, Werth, and a few others, but now only Hamels and maybe Victorino will be taken.

Jayson Stark
  (1:22 PM)

You're exactly right. There were very few Phillies even on my draft board -- Hamels, Victorino, Werth, Madson and one mystery man I squirreled away for late in the draft if I had money left. I didn't post a question earlier about why more Phillies weren't taken. That's exactly why. They're all making serious money now -- which is why their payroll is going to top $130 million.

Pete (New York)

Since all of the games will be simulated, how come nobody has taken Pavano? All I've read for the past 3 years is how great he looks in simulated games.

Jayson Stark
  (1:23 PM)

Why didn't I think of that. Great line, Pete.

Tom (NY, NY)

Do the Yankees have any serious interest in Orlando Hudson? If so, do they move him or Cano to CF or ship Cano out of town?

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

OK, time to shift gears a little here and answer some non-draft questions. The Yankees had some interest in Orlando Hudson early, but I don't hear that anymore. They're hanging onto Cano. I think Hudson winds up in Washington.

Gary (Delaware, OH)

I'm assuming with your current starting five that Morrow is a RP. Do you see him in that role for the MAriners this year?

Jayson Stark
  (1:26 PM)

I didn't specify a role when I took him. Depended on how my team fit together. And I think the Mariners are in a similar situation. They want him to start, and they'll give him a chance to start, but they may need him to close. So they haven't ruled that out.

Jonathan (Seattle, WA)

Great stategy and drafting, been interesting to watch you guys chat and draft and see who picks who where. is there a way to see a working roster and cap total thus far?

Jayson Stark
  (1:28 PM)

Absolutely. Here's the link: Figuring out the draft strategy was the most fun part of this. Obviously, we had it easier than a real GM would, because we had so many players to choose from and only four teams to stock. But as the rounds went on, I kept re-calculating in my head how many dollars I had left. It got trickier by the round.

Tyler (STL)

Why has Sheets no been signed here is a guy who can but a marginal team over the top and will require less money than normal

Jayson Stark
  (1:30 PM)

He's still looking for a two-year deal, and too many teams are worried about health to commit beyond one year. It's funny, though, that nobody seems to remember he started the All Star Game and almost pitched 200 innings last year.

Dan (NJ)

Non-budget challenge question....why cant the mets get out of castillos contract like the dodgers did with jones?

Jayson Stark
  (1:33 PM)

Simple. For one thing, Jones had no role whatsoever on that club, and he wanted out. He also only had one more year left on his deal. Castillo has three. I'll concede that Castillo has fewer dollars left, but the Mets weren't interested in paying a guy $6 million a year not to play for them. If they'd then gone out and signed, say, Orlando Hudson for three years, $15 million, that's $11 million a year just at second base. They weren't real interested in that.

Spencer (Los Angeles, CA)

Could the Dodgers sign Dunn, Wolf, and Sheets for the price of Manny? If so, wouldn't that make a lot more sense? It seems that Colletti is thinking this way, but that McCourt wants Manny back because of merchandising, etc.

Jayson Stark
  (1:35 PM)

There's definitely a scenario in play in which the Dodgers sign multiple players and fill multiple needs for the same money they'd pay Manny. But there's a p.r. component in this, too. Their fans want Manny back, and they'd take a hit with their customers if he's not. So this is a trickier negotiation than it might seem.

Vince (Palm Springs)

I'm surprised no one has grabbed Jar Jurrijens yet. He seems like a low cost pitcher with much upside. Your thoughts?

Jayson Stark
  (1:36 PM)

I'm with you all the way on that. He was high on my draft list. Just didn't work out for me to take him. But I kept waiting for somebody else to grab him. And I'm still waiting.

Ben (SF)

Are the Giants going to end up playing a role in the whole Manny situation when all is said and done? Either by signing Manny himself, or signing away a player the Dodgers would have grabbed (Hudson, Dunn) thereby forcing the dodgers to have to sign manny?

Jayson Stark
  (1:37 PM)

They're already playing a role. They're the only team preventing the Dodgers from taking an even harder line. And they've positioned themselves as that team where, if Manny gets ticked off at the Dodgers to the point that he doesn't even want to be back, they'd gladly take him if the deal is short enough. The problem for Manny is, there's no way they can pay him more money than the Dodgers would.

Stack (NJ)

Re-calculating in your head?!? You need a spreadsheet my man!

Jayson Stark
  (1:39 PM)

Hey, I had one of those, too. But it wasn't as if we conducted this draft in a giant draft room with computers all around us. We did a lot of it on the fly. So I almost always had my draft list handy, but I can't say I never leave home without my spread sheet. And if I ever get to that point, I'm in serious trouble.

Dan (Boston)

Why hasn't Felix Hernandez been drafted yet? I thought he was relatively cheap and has been lights out with ERA and K's the past couple years?

Jayson Stark
  (1:40 PM)

No way Felix slips through this draft. But remember, he was arbitration eligible this year, so it wasn't like he was a half-million-dollar bargain-binner.

Richie (philly)

Jayson, out of curiosity, that mystery Phillie wouldn't happen to be a certain 2B making a pretty reasonable salary, would it?

Jayson Stark
  (1:40 PM)

If I told you, I'd have to shoot you, pal. Stay tuned!

Tony (PA)

What do you think the chances are that Matt Wieters has a better offensive season than Geovany Soto this year?

Jayson Stark
  (1:41 PM)

I think he might have more long-term offensive upside than Soto, but my guess is that he might not make that team out of spring training. He'll be there at some point, but we know Soto is The Man from day one.

Ryan (Denver)

What do you think of Neyer taking Jimenez? I think he will win 16 games this year, he's giot some electric suff. your thoughts?

Jayson Stark
  (1:44 PM)

I'd take him in real life. Just not sure he was a safe pick in a computer-simulation league. He really struggled to throw strikes last year. So I was surprised he went as high as he did.

Oaks (NY)

Orlando Hudson recently said hes speaking with both NY teams. Certainly I dont see him with the Yankees, Cano is there, its his position. A position change to Center does not seem likely. Can the Mets get him? Castillo has been less then average.

Jayson Stark
  (1:45 PM)

Two factors have had the biggest impact on Hudson's continued unemployment: 1) He really wanted to play in New York, but neither team had a vacancy or was able to create one. 2) He's a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration, and there are very few teams willing to give up a No. 1 pick for him. Washington and L.A. are the two clubs that don't seem particularly concerned about that. So I see him winding up in one of those two destinations.

Rich Miami, FL

any news on where griffy may sign...and I havent heard alot on nomar in a while are the phillies still in on him?

Jayson Stark
  (1:47 PM)

There's a chance of Griffey winding up in Seattle, but not a good one. And I don't think Nomar really wants to play anymore. If he does, it would be with the Phillies, from what I can gather.

Owen (Chicago)

Are there guys who you would pick if these teams actually played games, but passed on because the sim wouldn't like them?

Jayson Stark
  (1:48 PM)

Absolutely. Jay Bruce would be a good example. I can't believe Jay Bruce won't be a star. But he didn't put up good enough numbers last year for me to take him, although I thought about it several times.

Matt Davis (Boone, NC)

What are the chances that Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu land in Atlanta?

Jayson Stark
  (1:49 PM)

I would say zero, from what I'm hearing. Of course, I once thought the chances of Derek Lowe landing in Atlanta were close to zero, too, so things can change. But they don't seem particularly interested in either of them.

Paul ( NY):

why doesn't Omar make a play for Manny. He is there for the taking. And, do you thinkl without Manny the mets will collapse again.

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

I've never gotten the impression that Omar and the baseball people there are as excited about Manny as their fans are. I think they're a bat short, too. But at this point, signing Manny would probably push them over the luxury-tax threshhold, and that's not happening. Plus, they don't want to do anything that ties up an outfield spot before Fernando Martinez arrives.

John (Dallas)

Jayson, what do you think the final contract will be for Manny, assuming the Dodgers sign him, 3 yrs 67.5 million?

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

I don't see Manny getting three guaranteed years anywhere, to be honest. This might one of those Scott Boras specials, with a :"voidable" year or two that makes it seem like the contract is longer than it is. But I'm betting only two years will really be guaranteed, at somewhere between $45-50 million, with a vesting option or a voidable year worth another $22-25M. So total possible value: $67-75M.

Greg, New York

Since the Mets aren't going after Manny, why not try Abreu? He'd be much cheaper and perfect in the 3 spot for them.

Jayson Stark
  (1:55 PM)

They've had surprisingly little interest in him, too. Of course, he's still looking for $10 million a year, and the Mets are indicating they're just about maxed out on payroll now. So I don't see that move, either.

matt (sacramento, ca)

awesome pick with granderson at only $3.5 mil. i couldnt believe he was around then. with all the categories he fills offensivley for the price, its a steal

Jayson Stark
  (1:55 PM)

Thanks, Matt. I was very excited about that pick. Plus, we're now the most quotable team in this league.

Richie (Philly)

Sorry, not Utley, you already have Kinsler, that leaves you with J - Roll...somebody has to take chase though right?

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

I can't tell you, Richie. Good try. But just remember, Utley has $11 million coming this season. Way too pricey for a $40-million team -- even for Steve!

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

Well, it's that time, folks. Time for one last question.

Oaks (NY)

Keep one, Trade one, Nady or Swisher?

Jayson Stark
  (1:58 PM)

The Yankees went into this pushing Nady, because he only has one year left, and Swisher is controllable for three. But they're finding more interest in Swisher, for the same reason. So as I mentioned in Rumblings and Grumblings last week, I'm hearing they've decided Swisher is the guy they're most likely to trade.

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

Thanks for all the great questions, gang. Keep reading these draft updates. There are going to be some fascinating names coming. How's that for an enticing prediction? See you back in Chat Land soon.