Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

May 1, 6:44 AM ET
Chat with Buster Olney

Buster Olney
  (1:58 PM)

Buster Olney
  (2:00 PM)

Hi, folks, hope all is well with you. Lots of interesting stuff this week -- the continuing story of Zack Greinke, the Cardinals building a small gap between themselves and the Cubs, Matt Garza's excellent performance last night, and... of course... A-Rod. Let's get to it.

Mike (Laurel, MD)

Hi Buster, Do you think if A-Rod's is in Seattle or Texas, this book gets published?

Buster Olney
  (2:02 PM)

Mike: Well, Barry Bonds was in San Francisco, and there were a couple of books on him. The reason why there is a book on him is because of the numbers on the back of his baseball card, I think. There are no books on Jeremy Giambi, who was in the Mitchell Report.

Shane (Knoxville)

hey Buster, who's shoe are you licking in that commercial? And why was it "interesting"? Thanks!

Buster Olney
  (2:04 PM)

Shane -- it was a new pair of spikes, and they put a piece of masking tape over the bottom of the shoe, thankfully... The 'interesting' part was probably the fact that a dopey sports writer would lick the bottom of a shoe.

Mike (LA)

I asked Starky the same question...Best outfield in the game? Dodgers? Defensively Manny is a liability, but Kemp is a nightly web gem and Andre ain't no scrub and offensively they are the best! Your thoughts?

Buster Olney
  (2:06 PM)

Mike: Pure defense -- I'd say the Mariners (Endy Chavez, Gutierrez and Ichiro) or the Rays (Crawford, Upton and Gabe Gross). The Twins are outstanding across the board, defensively, on the nights Delmon Young doesn't start in left.

Doug (NY)

"The reason why there is a book on him is because of the numbers on the back of his baseball card, I think." and the numbers on his paycheck

Buster Olney
  (2:06 PM)

Doug -- agreed. One set of numbers follows the others, yes?

Flemming (Copenhagen, Denmark)

A bit early to declare Branyan's emergence, isn't it? Dude has 57 AB's and even if job security could help him a little bit, I see no reason to believe that he would help the team more this year than, say, Jeff Clement......

Buster Olney
  (2:08 PM)

Flemming: Actually, I didn't declare anything -- I wrote about a veteran hitter off to a good start, and asked him why this year has been different for him so far, and that's what he believes -- that he feels more relaxed because he's been assured playing time. He's played pretty well so far; we'll see if it continues.

Don (NJ)

B.O. - Just wondering your take on Selena Roberts? I think she dropped the ball on the Duke scandal, and now (from what Ive heard) she just uses a former HS player as proof? Doesnt seem like it has much credibility. I know she broke the whole steroid story, but some of this seems a little baseless, no?

Buster Olney
  (2:10 PM)

Don: I worked with Selena for six years at the New York Times and she's a friend. I'm not going to judge the information in the book until I see what is actually in the book. All we've gotten are shards of summation so far.

Bobby, NY

Who has better pure stuff: Swisher or Van Every?

Buster Olney
  (2:11 PM)

Bobby: Great question --- I'd say Swisher -- wouldn't you agree? It looked like Van Every was just guiding the ball (and who the heck wouldn't in that situation...)

Josh NJ

Buster, Mets - Phillies...I know it doesn't have the history but...Dare I say, best rivalry going right now?

Buster Olney
  (2:14 PM)

Josh: I went to Vanderbilt and we would always say that the University of Tennessee was our rival -- and mostly, UT would kill us in football, so I'm not sure how much of a rivalry it was. The Phillies have embarrassed the Mets the last couple of years, so I don't know how much of a rivalry it is these days; the Mets have to start winning some games to make it a rivalry. The best rivalry for me, right now, is Rays-Red Sox. I think the Cards and Cubs are going to have some tense games this year and renew that rivalry. Marlins-Phillies has been nasty the last few years, although the trade of Scott Olsen might change all that.

mendel (fl)

buster, what is chris volstads ceiling? more and more he pitches i keep seeing a young greg maddux on the mound

Buster Olney
  (2:16 PM)

Mendel: Excellent command, strong athlete, solid mechanics. I don't know if I'd compare a guy that big to Maddux -- Greinke is a better comparable to Maddux -- but he's pretty darned good. Took him in the keeper league I play in.

Jon (DC)

Some might call me crazy, but with Zimmermann, Martis, and Lannan plus Strasburg, this Nats fan is actually encouraged for the future. Whatsayyou?

Buster Olney
  (2:16 PM)

Jon: There is light at the end of the tunnel for the Nationals, way off in the distance. But it's there. Signing Strasburg will be a huge step forward, if they can get it done.

Chuggies: (Parts Unknown)

Buster, the part that bothered me the most about A-Rod was the pitch-tipping. Is this a common practice around the league that the average fan just doesn't know about? Might this explain A-Rod's bat not showing up in the playoffs?

Buster Olney
  (2:19 PM)

Chuggies: It's an interesting tidbit, but I need to know more specifics (and see the book) before judging. Was it done once? Was it done all the time? Who were his partners in the pitch-tipping conspiracy? Before Baseball Tonight, we had a production meeting and both Eric Young and Eduardo Perez opined that it would be very difficult to pull off extensively. Michael Young called the suggestion ridiculous. I don't know -- I need to know more about what the information is, and the source(s?).

Patrick (Brooklyn, NY)

Except don't the Rays pretty much own the Sox?

Buster Olney
  (2:20 PM)

Patrick -- in Tampa last year, for sure, but that AL Championship Series played down to the last inning. Plus there is real tension between these teams; you don't see that a lot.

Adam (Chicago)

Buster, is there an answer to White Sox CF situation? Do we have any options? Should we just throw Brian Anderson out there and hope it sticks? The answer is not another year of Scotty Pods.

Buster Olney
  (2:21 PM)

Adam: This thought that has been talked about in the White Sox front office is intriguing -- shifting Alexei Ramirez to center and calling up Gordon Beckham. If they don't go that rout, there will be guys who will shake free -- someone like Mike Cameron, perhaps, if the Brewers fall out of the race (and right now, they're on a serious roll.)

John (Columbus, OH)

The Phillies have embarrassed the Mets the past couple of years? Granted the Phils won it all last year, thanks in large part to the Mets collapsing against OTHER teams, but come on Buster - who won the regular season series between the two? Ollie Perez of all people completely dominated the Phils last year.

Buster Olney
  (2:23 PM)

John: You don't think the Mets are embarrassed about losing the diviison to the Phillies the last couple of years? I think what happened the last two years in the front part of their brains.

Chuggies: (Parts Unknown)

Last A-Rod question, I promise. Why is A-Rod frequenting Hooters, when there are so many better places to get wings?

Buster Olney
  (2:23 PM)

Chuggies: I'll let that question hang for an appropriate period of time.

Adam (Chicago)

Buster, love the blog. Can someone besides Neyer address the White Sox CF situation? I know it's bad, but do we have any options? Should we just throw Brian Anderson out there and hope it sticks? The answer is not another year of Scotty Pods.

Buster Olney
  (2:24 PM)

Adam: They look at Scotty Pods as a stopgap...

Mark (Boston)

This is the problem with "journalists" these days. None of you will do anything but defend the others to the death. Selena Roberts is a snake who can't admit that she was completely wrong in the Duke scandal and is now trying to ruin someone else's life to make a buck. She has absolutely no credible evidence and everything is from anonymous sources even though everyone who actually comes out, says they never saw him doing any of these things. At what point is the deviance from journalistic integrity even greater than they deviance that they are actually reporting on... oh wait, I forgot, there is no such thing as journalistic integrity anymore. You can say whatever you want with no evidence at all.

Buster Olney
  (2:27 PM)

Mark: Can you please read again what I wrote? I made it clear that I worked with Selena (full disclosure) and said that I didn't want to judge the book until I see the book. Not sure exactly how that can be seen as an endorsement (or a criticism) of the book.

Mark (KC)

Buster, do you ever get tired of the non-baseball related stories that seem to eat up your time? As in the case of A-Rod. It's baseball season, aka the greatest time of the year, so we should focus on that.

Buster Olney
  (2:28 PM)

Mark: Yes, absolutely, it does get tiresome, but thankfully, most of this season has been about stuff like Greinke and the Pirates and the Marlins and that Garza start last night, and Stephen Strasburg. Just comes with the territory, yes?

Mike (NYC)

The Phillies have gotten the upper hand over the past two years, but I wouldn't say they have dominated the Mets. The Mets took 13 of 19 from the Phillies last year, remember? Like it or not, the Mets collapse - which allowed Philly to make the playoffs - was independent of the Phillies in 2008.

Buster Olney
  (2:30 PM)

Mike: here's the thing, though -- the Phillies have no fear of the Mets. I'd bet that if you gave them truth serum, there probably would be a group of Phillies who would tell you they believe that the Mets are doomed to lose and that in the end, they will figure out a way to finish ahead of the Mets.

jsbrendog (LI)

what's your opinion of melancon? ceiling?

Buster Olney
  (2:31 PM)

jsbrendog: He could be an excellent reliever. Love the way he attacks hitters.

Dan (NY)

What do you see Greinke's ceiling being? I cant believe he's only 25, but it feels like he's been in the league for a decade.

Buster Olney
  (2:33 PM)

Dan: He could be the best pitcher in the majors over the next 5-8 years. There is really nothing that he can't do as a pitcher -- he throws hard, commands all of his pitches, can throw any pitch in any part of the count. Given his history, I hope he continues to draw joy out of pitching; that way, we can all enjoy his work.

Matt (Philly)

In spirit of the rivalry, i hate the Mets as part of heritage but i'm much more fearful of the Marlins as a team.

Buster Olney
  (2:34 PM)

Matt: Thanks for chiming in. I'll throw out the question to everybody -- what is the best rivalry in baseball RIGHT NOW, in terms of tense competition between two current groups of competing teams (so don't bring up Munson vs. Fisk, please...)

Tags (Bahston)

Buster, with Big Papi struggling and Pronk hurt (again), do you think we're seeing the last of these two mashers? Are we getting into an era where the DH is more of an all-around, on base guy where big power numbers are less important, or am I overthinking this?

Buster Olney
  (2:36 PM)

Tags: I'd be worried about Ortiz (and I'm sure the Red Sox are), but they are certainly thinking back to last year and remembering how Carlos Delgado looked absolutely cooked -- and then was in the MVP running in the last month of the season. From what I gather, Hafner's injury is not considered serious, and he was hitting before he got hurt, so I think he'll be back.

Jeff (Los Angeles, CA)

Come on Buster, I'm completely sick of it and dislike both teams, but the Red Sox-Yankees is on such a different level in baseball as a rivalry. Nothing else is even close.

Buster Olney
  (2:37 PM)

Jeff: The games were great last weekend, for sure... but again, I'd put in a vote for Rays-Red Sox (to repeat: the best rivalry in 2008-2009).

Phillies Fans

When is the 2008 Mets-Philles Season Series Winning banner being raised at Citi Field?

Buster Olney
  (2:38 PM)

This is getting ugly: The Phillies fans raising the championship banner in the face of Mets' fans...

Dan (Virginia Beach)

Ryan Zimmerman is finally getting off to a decent start conpared to previous years; do you believe this year he will deliver on being the "franchise player" espcially after the contract he just signed?

Buster Olney
  (2:40 PM)

Dan: I heard from a lot of scouts during the winter that they regarded Zimmerman as a good-but-not-great hitter, and not a franchise player, because they think his swing is long and that he will not age well. The Nationals certainly feel differently, and Zimmerman is off to a good start, driving the ball to right-center. We'll see.

Sean (Madison)

As a journalism student, I love it when people say the field lacks integrity. There's nothing my classes stress more than professionalism. Anyway, how do the Twins handle Morales with Mauer coming back tonight? He's killed the ball, and looks like a better option than Redmond. Can they keep all three?

Buster Olney
  (2:41 PM)

Sean: I will only parrot what I am told by scouts -- Morales is regarded as a very subpar defensive catcher by rival evaluators, and I'm sure the Twins -- ranked 24th in ERA, uncharacteristically -- will want Mauer to catch as much as possible, as soon as possible. He's the leader of the pitching staff.

Kyle (minneapolis)

Granted its not on the east coast so it doesn't get noticed, but the Twins-White Sox is a pretty good one.

Buster Olney
  (2:42 PM)

Kyle: Totally agree with you. Ozzie always speaks of the Twins with respect, but there's always an A.J. issue percolating with the Twins, it seems. Great call.

Matt (Cincinnati)

Now that the Reds ended the Astros 17-game winning streak, IN Cincinnati, the hottest rivalry has to be Reds-Astros.

Buster Olney
  (2:42 PM)

Matt: Sarcasm suits you.

Ryan (IL)

Best Rivalry: Cardinals vs. Cubs!!!!!

Justin (Abilene, Texas)

Buster, Wouldn't the Braves and Phillies be a bigger rivalry? I know the Braves havent been "The Braves" for the past couple of years, but it sure seems like they are heading in the right direction now! And as a Braves' fan, I can tell you that the team that I worry about when we play is the Phillies. The Braves don't care about the Mets anymore. In our minds, the Mets are old news. Caveat: How do you see the NLE playing out this year?

Buster Olney
  (2:44 PM)

Justin: I picked the Phillies to win the division, but let's face it -- it's wide open so long as Cole Hamels is having these nagging injuries. If he comes back (and he has looked good in his last two starts, before suffering minor injuries) then I'd feel good about that Phillies' pick to win the East.


Best rivalry - A-Rod vs. Normal Behavior

Buster Olney
  (2:44 PM)

PD: Zing.

Patrick (Pittsburgh)

The Royals and White Sox don't have any love for each other.

mendel (fl)

cubs-marlins! they still cant get over 2003, and thats why the marlins are the biggest draw at wrigley!

Buster Olney
  (2:45 PM)

Marlins winning again today, 2-0. The Cubs need something to jolt some life into 'em.

Dave (Stow, OH)

O's-Nats. If only either of them were any good...

Paul (Provo, UT)

I remember back in the day when Braves/Mets was HUGE. Back when John Rocker broke the record for most people offended with one quote and Chipper named his kid after the Mets stadium. Those were good days.

Buster Olney
  (2:46 PM)

I'm sure you guys remember the days in the '80s when the Mets-Cardinals rivalry was off-the-charts intense. Growing up as a Dodger fan in the '70s, I hated the Big Red Machine.

Buster Olney
  (2:46 PM)

Marlins now winning 3-0.

Ben (Columbia, MO)

Buster, will the Cardinals be okay this year with or without Carpenter?

Buster Olney
  (2:47 PM)

Ben: Yes, I think they will be fine. They're a really good team built on a lot of parts that fit -- as one scout said this week, the Cardinals pieces seem to fit perfectly. I'm assuming they'll lock down their defensive play a little more along the way.

Brian (Rochester, NY)

Where do you see the Jays ending up? Their bats are great, pitching can be shaky. Was April a fluke, or do you think they are the real deal and can win 80+ games for the 5th year in a row? Possible wildcard?

Buster Olney
  (2:49 PM)

Brian -- They're getting some starting pitching back this month from the DL, and they'll hit all year, I think, but they haven't yet played a game against Boston, the Yankees or the Rays. That starts on May 12, and I think that terrible trio will be tough on them.

Jeff (Dayton)

Buster, I know we all need to wait for the book and see what kind of evidence exists, but, I remember when the story broke before Spring Training, there was nothing Selig could do to punish ARod, because the infractions took place before testing for steriods/HGH were implemented. If there is damning evidence that ARod used PEDs as a Yankee, do you think the commissioner's office will have to take some kind of action?

Buster Olney
  (2:50 PM)

Jeff: If there is specific and verifiable information that counters what A-Rod told major league baseball investigators, he's going to have big trouble on his hands.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

Buster, what do you think is wrong with the Rays and how can they get back to winning baseball?

Buster Olney
  (2:51 PM)

SprungOn: I just think the results haven't been good; they haven't put it all together. But the pieces are there, and I do think they'll put it together. Too many good players for them to languish for long, and at some point, you will see David Price in the big leagues again, and for good.

Dan (DC)

Is the Nats bullpen the worst you have ever seen? Honestly I can't remember one that was THIS bad!

Buster Olney
  (2:52 PM)

Dan: That Nats bullpen is awful, but some of those Rays bullpens from earlier this decade.... (shudder)...

rc (NYC)

Lots of talk here in NY to break up the Mets core. Who hangs up the phone on this trade: Wright for Kemp and Kershaw? Thanks

Buster Olney
  (2:54 PM)

RC: I'd never trade David Wright for Kemp. I know Wright has looked terrible so far, but he's a high impact third baseman who is a good defender, as well. You have to love Kemp's promise, but no, wouldn't trade a third baseman for a center fielder who will probably have to be moved to a corner outfield spot sometime in the next five years.


Huge hypothetical, BUT... If the Yanks could wash their hands of ARod, free and clear, do you think they would?

Buster Olney
  (2:54 PM)

Joe: Are you kidding? In a second.

Mike - San Francisco

Enough already about the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. Baseball does exist outside of the east coast.

Buster Olney
  (2:55 PM)

Mike -- please chime in with some questions. I'm pretty much just grabbing the top question in the que, and I can't say I've seen a lot of Dodgers/Padres/Giants/Mariners/Athletics questions.

Ben (NY,NY)

I hear all these comparison of Greinke ro Maddux (with a better fastball). To me, he reminds me of Pedro: four plus pitches with super commmand. Have you heard anyone compare the two?

Buster Olney
  (2:56 PM)

Ben: No, but I see your point. It'll be interesting to see if Greinke becomes a pitcher with a feel for what he's doing the way we saw with Pedro and Maddux.

rc (NYC)

Kemp and Kershaw

Buster Olney
  (2:57 PM)

My fault, RC -- Yes, if it was Kershaw and Kemp, yes, I would trade Wright for those two.


Please Buster asner the cantu question! Hes my fave player on the marlins and our MVP till now. how good is he, will he get better, and how underrated is he ?

Buster Olney
  (2:58 PM)

Shalom: We gave him the Unsung hero award for April on Baseball Tonight Thursday night. He's on a pace to drive in about 160 runs, and he's got a bunch of rabbits hitting in front of him, so yes, he could have a monster year.

Mike - San Francisco

Ok then. On the Giants. Can they keep this up and win with this formula? Winning is about scoring more runs than you give up. The offense is terrible but the pitching is as good as the hitting is bad.

Buster Olney
  (3:02 PM)

Mike: Eventually, they'll need another hitter. And from what I hear about Bill Neukom, he's the tyge of managing general partner who would approve the money needed to make a deal -- he's very involved. Who that hitter will be will depend entirely on which teams are out of the race when the trade deadline rolls aorund. By the way: Have you seen how Buster Posey is killing the ball at Fresno? It'll be interesting to see if the Giants push him through the minors, to set him up to be in the big leagues in 2009. With that, folks, my time is up... thanks for all the great questions. We'll chat with you Monday.