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April 24, 7:28 AM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:00 PM)

Hard to believe we're almost three weeks into the season already. But it's getting interesting! So let's get started.

Kevin (NYC)

Obviously Joba Chamberlain threw at Youkilis a few times last year. Why is such a big deal made over that, yet Red Sox pitchers (most notably Pedro Martinez) have hit Yankees at an alarming rate over the past decade and a half and we hear nothing about it? I mean Jeter and A-Rod get hit at least once a series. Seems like a bit of a double standard to me.

Jayson Stark
  (1:03 PM)

Kevin, I think you're exaggerating the media's interest in overlooking all the times Yankees got hit and only focusing on Joba's issues. Those Pedro and ARod stories got plenty of coverage in their time. But now it's Joba's time. When a guy is clearly throwing at a particular hitter repeatedly, especially in the context of a rivalry like this, why wouldn't it be a big story? It is, and it deserves to be.

Paul (Provo, UT)

How long do you see Zack Grienke's scoreless streak last? And why does the official MLB record have to be within a single year, so he technically only has 20 innings scoreless to this point?

Jayson Stark
  (1:06 PM)

Zack Greinke can be as good as he wants to be. To think he's going to go through the Tigers', Blue Jays' and White Sox' lineups without allowing a run -- and putting him within range of Hershiser -- is a major leap of faith. But I wouldn't put anything past him. He's that talented. I also believe that Greinke's streak, if it passes Hershiser, would be treated like all records and streaks set over multiple seasons. There will be a single-season record and a multi-season record. Why wouldn't there be? They're two different feats -- both great but different. Anybody disagree?

Doug

I heard a passing rumor about Pedro having interest from the Yanks. Is this true?

Jayson Stark
  (1:07 PM)

That rumor came from Pedro, but I haven't heard one word that would support that.

Jeff (Baltimore)

Nick Markakis is one of the best players in baseball, so why doesnt he get the recognition he deserves? Does anyone have a prettier swing in baseball?

Jayson Stark
  (1:08 PM)

Before this season, all of us at ESPN were asked to pick our most underrated player in each league. Nick Markakis was my pick in the AL, so obviously you're preaching to the choir. Until the Orioles make it onto the national radar screen, it's going to take a while before people realize how good he is. But the baseball world realizes it.

mendel (fl)

why does the media give beinfest, little or none attention, in regards to best GM's of the game? Year in and year out he puts a winning team on the field with the smallest payroll, and no one has a better eyer for talent then him and his staff!

Jayson Stark
  (1:11 PM)

I disagree with this assessment, too. I mentioned Larry Beinfest in my Rumblings piece on the Marlins this week, and I think we've all done a good job here of pointing out how good he is at what he does. One of the reasons, I think, is that this is a guy who calls zero attention to himself. So all the promotion of Larry Beinfest has to come from the outside world, because none of it comes from him. But he's clearly one of the best GMs in baseball. His track record proves it.

Todd (Providence, RI)

What do you think about the talk, and subsequent dismissal, of any Miguel Cabrera trade talk? Is it possible and if so, who do you think he could go to?

Jayson Stark
  (1:13 PM)

Dave Dombrowski couldn't have been more clear this week: Miguel Cabrera isn't going anywhere. He's signed. He's 26 years old. He's Pujols-esque. He's the kind of player you build around, not unload. I speculated in Rumblings this week that it's actually Magglio Ordonez whom the Tigers might look to unload. But his contract is so complicated, it won't be easy.

wes (los angeles)

Do you believe the Royals can stay competitive throughout the season? What are they missing?

Jayson Stark
  (1:15 PM)

I wrote about them this week too, in my Reality Or Illusion column. You have to like their pitching -- especially the front three starters and the back of their bullpen. But there's just not enough offense for this team to be a 90-win kind of club. The difference between them and the '08 Rays is in impact offensive players. I don't see any in the Royals' lineup. So they'll have to really pitch to keep this up.

Aaron (Ann Arbor)

Will the Reds offense catch up with their winning ways or will their winning ways slow down to their offense?

Jayson Stark
  (1:17 PM)

I don't see enough offense on that team, either. Joey Votto might be my most underrated NL player. Brandon Phillips is a terrific player. And you can see what kind of star Jay Bruce will be someday. But there just isn't enough around them yet. I like a lot of elements of this team. But they never replaced the offense of Adam Dunn or Junior Griffey, and they'll need to do that at some point if they want to move ahead of the Cubs and Cardinals in that division.

Josh (Columbia, MD)

Continuing on the disrespect of the media (outside of you, obviously) in regards to Baltimore, just how great of a job has Andy MacPhail done in turning around the Oriole franchise? I know they still have a ways to go, but there is hope now in Baltimore.

Jayson Stark
  (1:18 PM)

There really is. Andy had, and has, a vision for what the franchise needs to be and where it needs to go, and he's done an amazing job of putting pieces in place. When those young pitchers arrive -- and it won't be long -- that's a team to watch.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Who's playing the best baseball right now? St. Louis, Toronto, Florida, Dodgers, etc?

Jayson Stark
  (1:20 PM)

In that group? I'll go with the Dodgers. I knew they'd score runs, and they're second in the NL to St. Louis. But I didn't anticipate they'd pitch like this. Second in the league in ERA. Right near the top in rotation ERA. If this is how they're going to pitch, they could win that division by 15 games.

john (elkins park)

Matt Holliday - does he struggle all year or wake up in the second half? Thanks, JS.

Jayson Stark
  (1:22 PM)

Uh, where is he going to be playing in the second half? That's my question. If the A's don't hang in the race, Billy Beane will be aggressive in unloading him. But I have no second thoughts about saying Matt Holliday will hit. He has to prove he can be a force outside of Coors Field. And he has some major adjusting to do at the moment -- to the AL West and to a tough hitter's park. But I find it unimaginable that, sooner or later, this guy won't hit.

Derrick (Tulsa, OK)

People still think Peavy to the Cubs will happen before the deadline. I didn't like the Cubs offer in the offseason and thankfully neither did the Padres. Will the Cubs have to give up more or less for Peavy in July? Can they/ do they have more to give up?

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

There's a long way to go before we take that talk seriously. The Cubs still need to change ownership. The Padres would need to fall out of the race. And then there would be the matter of putting together a deal. Remember, before that four-team Cubs-Padres-Orioles-Phillies deal fell apart, the Padres were looking at getting seven young players back. I see no chance of a trade that big happening in-season. So why would they be in any hurry to move Peavy at the deadline if their options would be so much better in the offseason?

Jason (Toronto)

Does what the jays are doing this year make them a contender next year when they have Marcum and McGowan back healthy plus adding a JP Arencibia as the catcher

Jayson Stark
  (1:25 PM)

I like that team. I wonder about their position-player depth. So if they have major injuries, that's a problem. And obviously, they have to keep Roy Halladay to make it all possible. But if all their pitchers come back healthy and all their young pitchers make the progress they project, that's a definite contender next year, without a doubt.

Mike (Pittsburgh)

Jayson, thoughts on the Pirates thus far?

Jayson Stark
  (1:28 PM)

It's great to see a team that plays that hard, and they've done that since Day One of spring training. And Joe Kerrigan has done an amazing job with their pitching. They lead the league in ERA and rotation ERA. But this is another team without enough impact bats, I think. This is the most depth they've had in a decade. But I don't see enough upside in that lineup -- not until Pedro Alvarez arrives, anyway.

Rich (NYC)

Sox, Yanks, Rays, Jays, Orioles are all going to contend in the next few years. Someone has to be in the cellar!

Jayson Stark
  (1:29 PM)

Rough division! You're exactly right, Rich. Every one of those teams is positioned to make a run if all goes right. So somebody is guaranteed to be the best last-place team in baseball, if not in baseball history.

Gabe (Atlanta, GA)

Jayson, how do you feel about the Braves this early into the season? Can their starting rotation carry them deep into the pennant race?

Jayson Stark
  (1:31 PM)

I wondered in spring training if this team was going to score enough, and I'm still wondering. You saw last week how think their lineup depth is. When Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Yunell Escobar are all out, yikes! I love the rotation, especially with Tommy Hanson right over the horizon. But I think they're at least a bat short -- maybe more. For now, anyway.

Shaun (Japan)

With the poor performances thus far by the Phils rotation. Any chance they would put Madson back for another go? He is one of the best setup guys in ball, but maybe he could transition back?

Jayson Stark
  (1:33 PM)

I'd say no way. First off, the first experiment was a mess. Second, that bullpen is built around him as the primary setup arm. Third, they now have other options. If they need a starter, they'd turn to J.A. Happ. If they need another, they'd probably turn to Carlos Carrasco. If they need another, there's still Kyle Kendrick. So I think Ryan Madson is done riding that see-saw. He's a reliever now -- for good.

Greg, New York

What's wrong with the Met's? How are they going to fix their rotation during the season? Not going after Lowe was a big mistake

Jayson Stark
  (1:35 PM)

They did go after Derek Lowe. They just didn't want to give a pitcher that age more than three years. And neither did anyone else except Atlanta. The Mets are a puzzle to me. Apart from their rotation questions, which we could all see as a possibility, I don't see a team that plays to its talent level. I see a team that makes way too many mistakes. I see a manager hinting his team doesn't play as hard as it should. I don't get why that should be happening, given all that's at stake for these guys after the way the last two seasons ended. Any theories out there?

Andy (Denver)

Do you think the way that ball are carrying in the new Yankee Stadium will be a long term problem?

Jayson Stark
  (1:38 PM)

I think it's way too soon to make that judgment. The Elias Sports Bureau told the Yankees there were eight different four-game spans at the old stadium where 20 home runs were hit. So we don't know yet if this is reality or just a funky stretch in April with weird weather patterns and bad bullpens contributing to the madness. I've been told that if the engineers find that there is indeed a wind-tunnel effect, they can erect wind screens (if that's the right term) that correct that. But they're going to wait a while and see how the park plays before they address that issue.

Mike (Utica,NY)

Do you think Felix Hernandez finally breaks out and wins 20 games this year?

Jayson Stark
  (1:40 PM)

Winning 20 these days is as much a function of luck and run support as it is about pitching brilliance. But I will say this: Watching Felix last night, I thought that was the best I'd ever seen him pitch. The movement is ridiculous. He gets a million swings and misses. And when he gets contact, it's on the ground. So he's a legit ace, whether he wins 20 or not.

Andrew (Philly)

Hey Jayson! Belated congrats on your March Madness bracket...picking that Final Four exactly was pretty impressive. I haven't really followed the Phils minors leagues all that much; is Carolos Carrasco a legit mid rotation starter in a year or 2? Thanks!

Jayson Stark
  (1:41 PM)

Hey, anybody who was following my March Madness bracket deserves to have his question answered. I missed one game in the last four rounds of that tournament! So clearly, I'm covering the wrong sport. Anyway, Carlos Carrasco has top-of-the-rotation stuff. Whether he develops top-of-the-rotation mentality is the big question. He still has a lot of growing to do.

dave (mpls.)

it just seems like the mets don't have anyone who really wants to be a clubhouse leader - not even manuel. they're all pretty damn good players, but they seem reluctant to step outside of their egos, take hold of their team, and shake it a little to wake it up.

Jayson Stark
  (1:44 PM)

I don't know whether these guys are "reluctant to step outside of their egos." But I do see a team that lacks the grit of the Phillies. They don't play with a lot of fire. They don't do the little things. They don't give you that we-not-me feeling. So is that because they lack leadership, or because the pieces, talented as they are, just don't fit. This is the year I think we'll find out, once and for all.

Chad (KC)

Jason can you please finish this for me...David Price will be in the majors by...

Jayson Stark
  (1:45 PM)

June 15.

Tom (PA)

Any chance Schilling can lace them up for the Phils if they need a starter late?

Jayson Stark
  (1:46 PM)

Zero. This was not a Cher-type retirement. Or even a Roger Clemens-type retirement. Curt Schilling retired because physically, he's done. So this is the last Schill-comeback rumor I'll be addressing this year. I hope.

mendel (fl)

Jayson, ive been trying every way possible to find out an answer to this. I read a while back that Peter Gammons said, last year at one point the sox were willing to trade manny to the marlins, for michael stanton straight up. Is he that good? When can we expect him up here?

Jayson Stark
  (1:49 PM)

I talked about this guy in a chat a couple of weeks ago. But let me repeat it. Michael Stanton hit more home runs last year (39) than any teenager in at least the last 45 years. And he's still a teenager! Doesn't turn 20 till November. So I don't see him arriving until at least midseason next year, maybe later. But he could be to this generation of Marlins what Miguel Cabrera was to the '93 team.

Adam, Dayton

Jayson, err... congrats on your NCAA picks :P; Is wang going to snap out of his funk, and if not, can the Yankees make the postseason without him?

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

I wonder how Andy Katz would answer this one. OK, just kidding. The Yankees know Wang's delivery and release point are different than they were before the injury last year. They just haven't figured out why yet. People all over the sport say he doesn't look healthy, but he's been denying he's hurt. At any rate, the main reason to pick the Yankees is the belief that their rotation is going to dominate. And so far that hasn't happened. They're last in the league in starting-pitching ERA! Wang is responsible for a lot of that underachievement, obviously. But that whole group needs to pitch its butts off this year, or I don't see them making the playoffs.

Erich (CT)

Do the Blue Jays put McGowan and/or Marcum into the rotation by August IF the Jays are still in the race?

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

I don't get the sense they're counting on McGowan. They're hopeful they could get Marcum back by Labor Day. But it's way too soon to say. Everybody feels great at this stage of Tommy John rehab. It's what happens over the next three months that really tells us something.

Mike (Diamond Bar, CA)

I know all the scouts are commenting on Big Papi's demise at the plate, they cite he's loosing bat speed and possibly injury in that wrist. But he is making contact and has driven the ball to the warning track. What is your take? Is it a slump or are we seeing a problem in the making?

Jayson Stark
  (1:56 PM)

I don't think he's going to hit .170 all year. But I think we have reason to wonder if he's ever going to be the franchise-changer he used to be. It's a good sign to see him finally mashing some balls the other way. But scouts who have followed him seem convinced he isn't going to be one of those guys who carries a team anymore. I'm not ready to write him off yet, but this is a huge year for the Papster. No doubt about that.

Jackson (Fairfield, IA)

Cardinals Question!!! Is Franklin the long-term closer, or is he just a placeholder for one of the young kids (and if so, which one)?

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

I think he's a right-now closer, not a forever closer. I'd vote for Jason Motte if he can come up with another pitch. Special arm.

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

Well, it's that time again. Let's take one more.

Ryan (St. Louis, Mo)

What matchup would you rather watch tonight, Cubs vs. Cardinals (Dempster vs. Wainwright) or Yankees vs. Red Sox (Chamberlain vs. Lester)?

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

The great thing about this world we live in is that we can now watch both. But I guess I'd take Joba-Lester, just barely. I can't resist the Joba plot lines right now. I admit it. Hey, isn't that how we started this chat?

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

Thanks to everybody who checked in. As usual, tremendous topics raised. See you next week in Chat Land.