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March 27, 1:59 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Buzzmaster
  (2:01 PM)

I just heard from Jayson, he's running a few minutes late. But keep those questions coming!

Jayson Stark
  (2:06 PM)

Sorry for the delay. Multi-tasking! But I'm here. Let's get started.

Lou(philly)

jayson who would you rather have right now for the next 5 seasons? Roy Halladay or Jon Lester?

Jayson Stark
  (2:07 PM)

Just based on age alone, I'd have to go with Lester. But much as I love Roy Halladay, I'm not so sure Lester won't win as many Cy Youngs over the next five years as Halladay will. Fun question!

Rod (Madison, FL)

which of these players has the best chance of getting to the majors by the end of April and making an impact? Elvis Andrus, Matt Wieters, Jordan Zimmerman,David Freese or the closer for the Cards (sorry i forget his name)?

Jayson Stark
  (2:09 PM)

I think you're referring to Jason Motte, and he'd be my pick. Zimmerman will only get to the mound a few times. And Andrus probably isn't ready to make a big offensive impact. But Motte has a big-time arm, and he has a chance to fill a major need for the Cardinals.

JP(Noo york)

Jayson, love the chats man. Here's my question. Recently Brett Gardner got the nod from Joe G, do you think this is the right move? Melky seems to have more tools then BG, while BG only has speed and barely got on base to use it last year.

Jayson Stark
  (2:11 PM)

The scout community here in spring training loves Brett Gardner, more than people might think. He brings that team better energy and defense than Melky. And given the defensive makeup of that outfield, they'll need all the center-field defense they can get. One scout told me the other day he thinks he can hit .280 and steal 30 bases. If he has that season in him, for that team, he's a perfect fit.

Ron, DC

I thought Zimmerman was named # 5 in the rotation? I'm pretty sure, which means he should be there more than a few times.

Jayson Stark
  (2:12 PM)

The question was who would make the biggest impact in April, if I remember it correctly.

Ryan (Toronto)

Hey Jayson, I've known Joey Votto since I was 14 and he's strived at every Sport/League he was ever in, with his work ethic what do you think his ceiling is in the MLB?

Jayson Stark
  (2:14 PM)

I think Joey Votto is a star waiting to happen. And his approach is a big part of it. Dusty Baker told me he studies video more than any player on that team. And Jay Bruce told me that Votto taught him how to work. He's also a guy who has consistently great at-bats. He and Bruce should be the centerpiece players on that team for a long time.

Drew (Canton, Ohio)

Do you think with a healthy Fausto Carmona and Travis Hafner, the Indians can make it back to the ALCS this year?

Jayson Stark
  (2:16 PM)

Those are two pivotal guys. You've got that part right. But Hafner has really had a rough spring. Hasn't hit, and hasn't driven the ball when he has. So that's very alarming. And there are lots of rumblings that Carmona wasn't exactly in A-1 shape when he reported. So how much can that team depend on those two guys? Jury's still out, for me.

Kirk R (Orlando, FL)

Do the Mets have depth issues at starting pitcher?

Jayson Stark
  (2:18 PM)

That's a big issue with that team. They'll have Jon Niese lined up if they need someone, but beyond that? Not much there. And the way John Maine and Oliver Perez have thrown this spring, with Livan Hernandez as the No. 5, it's certainly not hard to envision the Mets needing to find more starting pitching somewhere along the line.

John, Austin

Jayson, Always love to read your stuff, how soon before the Cubs go out and get another closer?

Jayson Stark
  (2:20 PM)

Not showing a whole lot of faith in Kevin Gregg, are you, John? Usually, a guy has to at least blow ONE save before his loyal fans start asking for a new closer. That said, though, I don't blame you for being nervous. Talked to a GM today that had interest in Gregg over the winter, and they didn't see him as having closer stuff. I still find it hard to fathom why Carlos Marmol couldn't be a dominant closer. The guy never gives up a hit, which always seems like an excellent attribute for a closer. Don't you think?

Lou (Valley Forge, PA)

Wanted to hear yor thoughts on Chase Utley coming back from hip surgery. What kind of year can we expect compared with his pre-injury performance?

Jayson Stark
  (2:23 PM)

I've seen him a lot in the last week or so, and it's hard to believe he even had surgery. Scouts keep commenting about how he doesn't seem restricted in any way, offensively or defensively. Jimmy Rollins keeps saying that he, Utley and Ryan Howard can all have better years than last year. And he might not be wrong on that, when you think about it. Of course, they also might need to, because the Mets' bullpen upgrade changes the whole picture in that division.

Josh (clearwater, fl) [via mobile]

What do you think about jason hammel starting for the Rays? I think it is a good move because they could shape niemenn to be a future closer and if he does well, trade him in june for prospects when they are ready to bring up price for good

Jayson Stark
  (2:26 PM)

I'm not sold on Niemann as a future closer, first off. Doesn't repeat his delivery consistently enough, and when he gets the ball up, he's a different guy. I like Hammel fine as a No. 5, as long as the first four starters pitch the way they can. The No. 5 starter shouldn't be the difference in any team's season. I just wonder how long he'll have that job. If they get off to a slow start, there's going to be a lot of pressure to call up Price before June. I'll tell you that.

JP (Noo york)

Recently talks broke down with the Rangers and Josh Hamilton. What do you see happening? Will a deal be worked out or will he test the market when the time comes? Also do you know when that time is?

Jayson Stark
  (2:29 PM)

He can't be a free agent for four years, so it's nothing to panic over. There's a long list of players at this stage who have preferred to go year to year, at least for a while, rather than sign a long-term deal. I don't blame Josh Hamilton for thinking that, as long as he stays healthy, he can earn Ryan Howard money by waiting.

Andrei (Hoboken)

Jayson, Two questions from JP and no love here??? Thoughts on Girardi picking Nady over Swisher?

Jayson Stark
  (2:31 PM)

On a lot of levels, it makes sense, especially given Swisher's versatility. But I do think this creates an issue for the manager. Swisher's reputation is, he gets antsy when he isn't playing. So Joe Girardi has to find a way to get him a lot of at-bats, or this situation could get high-maintenance on him.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Regarding Marmol, I think he should stay right where he is. Shouldn't your best reliever be used in the games tightest spots, regardless of the inning? Seems like having a "closer" is wasting talent when the 9th inning is often less crucial than the 8th or 7th depending on the circumstances?

Jayson Stark
  (2:32 PM)

I have no problem with that line of thinking, Josh, as long as that's the way it works out. Lou Piniella has proven he'll use a guy like Marmol exactly that way. (See Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton in 1990.) So used that way, Marmolcan be a weapon. But Gregg also has to hold up his end to make that doable.

Eric

Which backup catcher will the Twins go with while Mauer is on the mend?

Jayson Stark
  (2:37 PM)

Might depend on how long they think Mauer is going to be out. Mike Redmond is going to get most of the playing time. But Ron Gardenhire told me he knows he has to be careful about wearing him out. If the Mauer absence looks as if it's going to be extended, I think they'll look to go deal for somebody. If they think it's just two to four weeks, my guess is that they'll go with Morales. But they really weren't tipping their hand the last time I saw them a few days ago.

JP (Noo york)

Read that the Rockies are looking to move Torrealba. Would he be a good fit with the Mets? Schneider and Castro really have not done a lot for the Mets.

Jayson Stark
  (2:38 PM)

The Mets are actively looking for a catcher. They were even in on Ronny Paulino before the Phillies traded him. And Torrealba is certainly better than Paulino is -- but the Rockies also want more.

Zach(Toronto)

Jayson, are there any silver linings in the Jays rotation after Halladay this season ? Do you see any of Litsch, Purcey, Romero, Mills, Janssen or Cecil making an impact?

Jayson Stark
  (2:39 PM)

I've actually seen that staff quite a bit this spring. And Cecil, in particular, looked tremendous. They want to be careful with his innings, a la David Price. But I could see him being a big second-half call-up.

Mike (chicago)

A 3rd question from JP. Jayson do you want him to just chat with you? I've got some 5th starter questions for you. Out in LA do you think it'll be McDonald or Schmidt and in Cincinnati do you think it'll be Owings or Bailey?

Jayson Stark
  (2:41 PM)

Guess I need to do a better job of keeping score of who gets the most questions posted. Sorry. I'm not in midseason chatting form yet. Looks like McDonald in LA and Owings in Cincinnati from here. Schmidt isn't ready. And Bailey looks as if he could fit in the 'pen.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Wouldn't Kerry Wood have been a better bet (injury concerns and all) than Gregg? Wood was willing to sign a one year deal. Even if you're paying him twice what Gregg makes, isn't he worth it?

Jayson Stark
  (2:43 PM)

Uh-oh. I think this is Josh's second question, too. So Josh, this is it for you in this chat, buddy. Money was a big issue for the Cubs this winter, with that ownership change in the works. Remember that. There was no way the Cubs were going to be able to spend the money on the closer slot that Wood was looking for. Period.

MikeT (Santa Clarita, CA)

Jayson, What gives with this Willis story? Are the Tigers trying to get away with sending him to the DL when there isn't anything wrong with him. Stories I've read say that blood tests can't reveal an anxiety disorder.

Jayson Stark
  (2:45 PM)

All I can tell you is that people I've talked to are very skeptical of this. As I've mentioned a few times, I keep forgetting to go to medical school. So I never like to second-guess anybody's diagnosis. But this one is s a head-scratcher. No doubt about it. Their only probable alternative, if Willis didn't go on the DL, was to release him. And that would have looked awful after the money they commited to him. So this was a way out for everybody, on every level.

Ryan (Napa, CA)

Is there any validity to the Dodgers moving Juan Pierre? They'd obviously have to pay part or all of the salary which to me makes it not worth it to move him. Don't you think they'd be better off having his speed coming off the bench then giving away him and cash?

Jayson Stark
  (2:49 PM)

The problem is that we're not just talking about a year or two. Pierre has three years left on his deal. So how much would the Dodgers have to pay to make it worth someone's while? As a guy from one team that kicked the tires told me, "I love Juan Pierre. If he was a guy you could pay $2 million for a year and run him out there to play some small-ball for you, he's a great guy on a team. But how can you take him on for three years at any salary, let alone the money they're on the hook for?" Good question!

Sam (DC)

Jason, What are your thoughts on Pablo Sandoval? Is he ready to be a heart of the order force...at least for the anemic lineup the Giants have?

Jayson Stark
  (2:51 PM)

He's a really intriguing player. That's all I know. I haven't been in Arizona this spring. But people keep talking about how the ball flies off his bat. I see him hitting cleanup for that team sooner than later. The question is whether that body allows him to hold up for the long haul.

Jay (Tampa) [via mobile]

Hey Jayson answer me this question please,why do most people(fans,analysts)preech about the White Sox not having a chance to compete but yet they have the best pitching(starters,bullpen)in the central.isn't pitching what wins championships?

Jayson Stark
  (2:52 PM)

I see that team as definitely having a chance. But depending on Bartolo Colon and Jose Contreras would scare the heck out of me. Doesn't it scare the heck out of you?

Rob (San Diego)

Hey Jay, With Masterson staying in the bullpen, who do you see being the main setup guy for Paps? What do you think Tito should do?

Jayson Stark
  (2:54 PM)

I love Saito in that role, personally. You may not be able to run him out there too many days in a row. But that might turn out to be the signing of the year. That's the deepest bullpen I've seen in Florida, so they should have lots of options. A lot of buzzing down here about Ramon Ramirez, by the way.

Jose Rodriguez, New York, NY

Do you have any explanation on why Pedro Martinez has not found a job for this season. Any rumors?

Jayson Stark
  (2:56 PM)

Wants too much money. It's that simple. He could get a job if the guarantee was $2-3M. But at $5-7M, I don't blame teams for not wanting to commit to him. What has Pedro done in the last couple of years to justify that big a guarantee? Not enough. I know there are friends of his trying to convince him to lower the price, but he's still dug in, last time I heard.

AJ (Nashville, TN)

How do you think the Reds will do this year with the young guys taking over now that Dunn and Griffey are gone?

Jayson Stark
  (2:58 PM)

I like that team, to be honest. I wrote a column about them a week or so, in which I compared their energy level, after trading Dunn and Griffey, to the change in the Phillies' whole persona after they traded Bobby Abreu a few years back. You can really see the personality of Votto and Bruce emerging on that club. The worry, though, is that they haven't replaced the offense of Dunn and Griffey. So as good as their pitching might be, I just don't see them scoring enough runs unless they made a deal for another bat.

Jayson Stark
  (2:59 PM)

Sorry to report I only have time for one more question.

Simon (Chicago) [via mobile]

Better season..Danks or G.Floyd?

Jayson Stark
  (2:59 PM)

I'm a big John Danks fan. That guy has ace ability, and he seems to get better and better. Floyd has terrific stuff, but Danks' ceiling is higher. So I'll go with him.

Jayson Stark
  (3:00 PM)

Thanks to everybody who got in on this. Fun hour! I'll be chatting on Friday afternoons during the season, so see ya then.