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March 31, 1:56 PM ET
Chat with Jerry Crasnick

Jerry Crasnick
  (2:59 PM)

Hey folks, It's been a while. Let's talk some ball as Opening Day draws near.

Donald Williamsville,Mo

Jerry game seven of world serie andyou can choose either Schiiling or Smoltz who do you pick?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:00 PM)

Donald, I'd take Smoltz -- just so I wouldn't have to listen to Schilling talk about it afterwards.

Marc (IN)

Josh Fields has been hitting pretty well in Arizona this spring. Do you see him coming close to his 2007 numbers for the White Sox this season?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:01 PM)

Marc, If Fields' knee is healthy, I don't see why he can't hit 25 homers hitting in that lineup in that ballpark. And he's always been very good against lefties.

Ryan (St Louis, MO)

Will Daniel Murphy of the NYM have a break out year?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:03 PM)

Ryan, He's not going to hit with a great amount of power for a corner outfielder, but he's a really mature and polished hitter. Funny you ask that question: We had to pick "breakout players" for ESPN, and I picked Chris Davis of Texas in the AL and Murphy in the NL this season.

Mary(Bronx,NY)

Hi Jerry, Are folks like you, in the sports business as excited as the fans are at the beginning of the baseball season?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:04 PM)

Mary, In a word, yes. I'm particularly excited about getting up to New York to see the two new yards. I can't say I was a big fan of either Shea or Yankee Stadium.

Tim (ABQ - NM)

What chance does Brandon Wood have of getting 400 ABs this year and being successful?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:06 PM)

Tim, I'm a big Brandon Wood fan. He's a terrific kid, and I think he just needs a full season to overcome the growing pains. He looked a lot more comfortable at the plate and more selective when I saw him in Arizona. If the Angels aren't going to commit to him at this point, they should do him a favor and consider trading him. I'll take the strikeouts with that power. Unfortunately, I have my doubts about him getting 400 ABs in Anaheim this season.

Christian (San Francisco)

Hey Jerry, did you get to watch any of the video from YouTube of the Venezuelan HR derby? The ball absolutely flies off his bat. A personal favorite nickname is "Little Money" to Bengie Molina's "Big Money". Down in your time in Arizona when talking to scouts, did you get the impression from them that they thought he would eventually develop into a guy that could draw walks or is he what he is?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:08 PM)

Christian, I haven't seen the Pablo Sandoval YouTube video, but I've read about it. Apparently it's a sight to behold. I think Sandoval is going to have a hard time drawing a lot of walks. The problem is, if he hits .310, he might have a .320 OBP. Being a switch hitter obviously helps him. At this point, I'm not sure why pitchers would ever throw him a strike.

Dan (DC)

With all the superlatives being used to describe Strasburg -- what makes him different from all the other #1-overall pitchers?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:10 PM)

Dan, I haven't seen Strasburg personally, but any kid who throws 100-plus with a hammer breaking ball and pinpoint control is part of a pretty exclusive club. You're talking Dwight Gooden, Mark Prior, Ben McDonald territory -- if not better. Whether he can stay healthy and be great over the long haul, time will tell.

Jem (Westchester, NY)

Read in ESPN Camp notes that Jenkins is gone and that Sheff might be in the mix. But what about opening a spot for big John Mayberry, Jr.?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:11 PM)

Jem, Mayberry really impressed the Phillies people early in camp. I think they figure he'll be better served getting regular at-bats in Triple A rather than play part-time and be a pinch hitter in Philly. It's tough for some young kids to handle that role.

Tim (ABQ - NM)

How good with Trevor Cahill be this year?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:13 PM)

Tim, Lots of talent, but geez, that Oakland rotation is awfully young. I didn't see Cahill pitch while I was in Arizona. But I did see Brett Anderson, and he looked really polished to me. Good control, mixed his pitches, and worked quickly. He's going to be very good.

Pat (San Francisco)

You threw out a lot of other people's comparisons of Pablo Sandoval in your article. Who does he remind you of?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:14 PM)

Pat, Between Bobby Bonilla, Terry Pendleton, Kirby Puckett, Mo Vaughn, Vlad Guerrero and Honey Bear Rayford, I think we pretty much exhausted the comparisons. The only one I didn't run out there was Tony Gwynn. I'll hold off on that one for a while.

mendel (fl)

what makes the phillies and mets such sure things in the n.l east. if memory serves me the marlins did pretty good against both teams last year, and have a much better pitching rotation then both teams combined

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:17 PM)

Mendel, I talked to some Grapefruit League scouts who had real concerns about the Marlins' bullpen, the catching and the team defense. Hanley Ramirez has apparently packed on some weight and might be less mobile at SS. You're right, though: Larry Beinfest and that group in Florida are as good as anybody at scoping out talent and putting together a competitive roster on a shoestring.

Pat (Philly)

Rollins, a hall of famer to be? He is similar to Jeter (often overated because he is a Yankee) in stats by the age of 30 except batting average. Has more power, more steals, much better defender, on pace for 3,000 hits, MVP, and a World Series Championship. Thoughts....

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:19 PM)

Pat, I checked out baseball-reference.com, and Jimmy Rollins' top four hitting comparisons through age 29 are Ryne Sandberg, Alan Trammell, Robbie Alomar and Bobby Doerr. Throw in the MVP and the World Series win, and yeah, I'd say J-Roll is starting to build a legit case. Check back in about 5 years.

dreyden OH [via mobile]

i have a quick question...why do you say everyone's names before you answer their questions? sorry i'm just curious..

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:20 PM)

Dreyden, No reason. I just figure if somebody takes the time to ask a question, they deserve a personal response. I hope it isn't a distraction.

Tonia

Who is better 2b, Freddy Sanchez, Aaron Hill or Fontenot on cubs? any sleeper 2b?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:22 PM)

Tonia, I think Mike Fontenot is going to be a solid .300 guy, so he's probably the best offensive bet. Hill is coming off concussion issues and Sanchez had a terrible season in 2008.

Brian (Albuquerque, NM)

How serious is the talk of Scott Downs replacing BJ?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:24 PM)

Brian, The Blue Jays are kicking around the idea of giving Scott Downs some save opportunities here and there just because Ryan has looked so bad this spring. But I have a hard time seeing Downs going up against tough right-handed hitters on a regular basis. He's a good lefty setup guy, but I wouldn't want to count on him for much more than that.

Peter R. Walnut Creek, CA

here's another name for you...Pablo Sandoval = Manny Sanguillen.

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:25 PM)

Peter, Well, There was your classic bad-ball hitter. For what it's worth, Willie McCovey also mentioned Yogi Berra's name to me.

Rob (San Diego)

Hey Jerry, The Padres are offering 5 for 5 this year. Soda, hot dog, peanuts, popcorn and cookie for 5 bucks. And they still offer park passes for $5. Do you think the deal will make up for the boredom of watching them play?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:26 PM)

Rob, If I'm going to watch a really bad team play, I can't think of too many places I'd rather do it than in San Diego. The price tag is just a bonus.

Greg (staten Island, NY)

Any news of the phil hughes/ Melky trade that buster broke out today. I think it was for Sherzer, Reynolds and a third prospect. What do you think? I am sad to see Phil go because I want him to succeed in the bronx this year.

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:27 PM)

Greg, There's not a word of this trade on our Web site from Buster, so I'm wondering where this rumor came from. Until I hear otherwise, I'll file it under "urban myth."

Paul AZ

how good is the dbacks starting pitching? What kind of year will J.Upton have for the dbacks?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:28 PM)

Paul, Keith Law picks Justin Upton as a breakout candidate in 2009, and I can certainly see that happening. As for the D-backs pitching, I'm not quite as sold. Doug Davis is OK in the fourth spot, but Jon Garland's numbers have regressed in recent years, and I wonder about Max Scherzer's durability at the back end.

Jeff (DC)

Jerry---what do you expect out of Big Papi this year, coming off the wrist injury?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:31 PM)

Jeff, I honestly don't know. Ortiz doesn't have the greatest body in the world, and the combination of him aging and breaking down physically provides genuine reason for concern. I suspect we'll have a pretty good idea by late April what kind of year he's going to have.

Greg (KC)

Jerry, how many bad starts will it take for Ponson to be pulled from the rotation?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:32 PM)

Greg, And replaced by whom? That's my biggest issue with the Royals being labeled a "darkhorse" by so many people. After Meche and Greinke, I just don't think they have enough starting pitching.

Tony (Chicago, IL)

Jerry, what are your thoughts on Cameron Maybin of the Marlins having a breakout rookie season?

Brandon (Charleston, WV)

What is your opinion on the Reds young talent? Most notably Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Joey Votto?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:35 PM)

Brandon, I have a story running tomorrow on the NL's darkhorse team. Here's a hint: They play in the 513 area code. So that should tell you I think the Reds' young players are pretty good.

jeff Alabma

When does Hanson come up and for who....

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:38 PM)

Jeff, With Lowe, Vazquez, Kawakami, Jurrjens and Glavine in the rotation, I don't see the Braves rushing to bring up Hanson in April or May. If it turns out that Glavine is finished at age 43, that would seem to be Hanson's best bet for a callup. But knowing Bobby Cox, he's going to give Glavine a lot of rope.

joe boston

Jerry, i need a yes/no prediction from you, near the trade deadline approaches are we going to see every yankee fans thinking they are going to get either roy halladay or jake peavy for the blockbuster package of ian kennedy/melkey cabrrera?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:39 PM)

Joe, Uhh, that's a definitive "yes."

jon (the moon)

do the seattle ichiro's have a chance this year?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:40 PM)

Jon, They'll be better than last year, but I still have to wonder if a team with Russell Branyan at first base is going to generate enough offense.

Brandan (Los angeles)

how do you think the tigers will do this season?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:41 PM)

Brandan, I'm not getting a very good vibe with the injuries to Willis and Bonderman, Sheffield's release, etc. They might hit enough to play .500, but I don't see much more than that from the Tigers.

eric (nyc)

how bout the angels - big years from kendry or rivera?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:43 PM)

Eric, Tim Kurkjian has a piece on the site today about Kendry Morales. He might have a nice year in that middle of that order. Morales didn't hit with much power in the minors, but I saw him launch a tape measure shot off Chad Gaudin in Tempe. He's got some pop.

Dave (cubical)

Considering performance this Spring for what its worth, who has the top 5 offenses in the NL?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:44 PM)

Dave, Off the top of my head, I'd go with the Cubs, Phils, Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers and Brewers. That's six, in no particular order.

Phil (Annapolis)

The Orioles rotation looks like it will be Guthrie, Uehara, Alfredo Simon, Mark Hendrickson, and Adam Eaton. Is there any way this team can avoid 100 losses in the AL East?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:45 PM)

Phil, When you put it that way, probably not. Talk about a leading question ...

James (Carrollton, GA)

Sticking with Dave's theme...who has the top 5 rotations in the NL?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:47 PM)

James, Let's see. Cubs, Giants, Braves and Reds, with the Phils, Marlins, Mets and possibly the Diamondbacks somewhere in the discussion.

Rich (Toronto)

Does Roy Halladay get traded this season? What kind of package would the Jays get back for the best pitcher in baseball?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:49 PM)

Rich, The chances are certainly decent that Halladay will be moved. Based on the Sabathia deal, I'm sure the Jays would be looking for a bunch of prospects. Problem is, Boston might be in the best position to snag Halladay because of its resources and deep farm system. Is J.P. Ricciardi really going to do the Red Sox any favors? And the Sox have enough starting, they might not even need another pitcher in July.

Richard S. (Maumee, OH)

Jerry, what do you think of Dodgers RHP James McDonald as a darkhorse ROY candidate?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:50 PM)

Richard, He's certainly worth mentioning. That team should score runs now that Manny and Orlando Hudson are in the fold, and Dodger Stadium is a great place for a pitcher to put up numbers.

Jim (the 'Ham)

Is Jordan Schaefer gonna make a positive impact? Or is Gregor Blanco destined for CF duties in ATL?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:51 PM)

Jim, As of yesterday, the Braves had yet to make their decision. It was a coin flip. If they're looking for upside, they'll go with Schafer.

Kev (NYC)

You've done an excellent job of hiding your anti-Yankee demeanor and your pro-Boston opinions. The Sox won't need a Halladay type-pitcher in July?!? Do you get paid? That's a travesty.

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:55 PM)

Kev, Well, let me put it this way: If the Red Sox have Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Penny and Smoltz clicking in July, with Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard also in the picture, will they be desperate to ransack the farm system for Roy Halladay? I don't think they'll be as desperate as a lot of other clubs.

Alex (Akron, OH)

What do you think of the Indians rotation when Westbrook returns around June? SP Lee SP Carmona SP Westbrook SP Reyes/Pavano SP S. Lewis/Laffey/Huff/Sowers

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:56 PM)

Alex, To be frank, I have my concerns about it.

Greg (CT)

Which Japanese import to MLB will have the bigger impact on their team this season - Kenshin Kawakami (ATL) or Junichi Tazawa (BOS)?

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:58 PM)

Greg, Kawakami, because he'll be eating a lot of innings as a starter in Atlanta. With Papelbon, Okajima and Masterson at the back end in Boston, how prominent a role can Tazawa play?

Darryl (Oakland, CA)

Will Delmon Young have a breakout season this year, it seems like his spring training is going well.

Jerry Crasnick
  (3:59 PM)

Darryl, Delmon Young was much better in the second half, but he's still too much of a free swinger, and he hasn't shown that he can hit with the power you like from a corner guy. So I'll say "no" to that one.

Mo (NYC)

Who in your opinion is the best young pitcher in the game?

Jerry Crasnick
  (4:00 PM)

Mo, I think I'm on pretty solid ground with Tim Lincecum.

Brandon (Charleston, WV)

Jay Bruce: over/under 30 homers this season?

Jerry Crasnick
  (4:01 PM)

Brandon, He hit 21 homers in 413 at-bats last year at age 21 -- and that was hitting .190 against left-handers. So I'll take the over.

Jerry Crasnick
  (4:01 PM)

Thanks for the emails, everybody. It was fun getting back into the swing, chat-wise. Talk to you again soon.