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May 18, 12:05 PM ET
Chat with Buster Olney

Buster Olney
  (1:01 PM)

Hi, folks, hope all is well. We just finished a tremendous weekend of baseball -- lots of good stuff from the Rangers, the Jays, the Tigers, etc. Let's get to it -- I'll be here for the next 40 minutes or so.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

People have always loved Griffey's swing. Is there anyone out there today like that?

Buster Olney
  (1:03 PM)

Jason -- Hmmmmm.... In terms of a swing just that can be admired just for its fluidity, its power, I'd take Josh Hamilton. Looks like he's swinging a Wiffleball bat. And Evan Longoria has this incredibly powerful, fluid swing that looks like a forehand topspin in tennis. Pujols is the game's best hitters, but let's face it, his swing is more mechanical-looking than that of Hamilton, or even Longoria.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Mr. Olney: I was the official scorer for Wang's start yesterday. It might just be me but despite some very nice numbers, it looked like he was really laboring to get anything on his pitches. Can you see him making another start in the minors before the Yankees make a decision on when to reactivate him?

Buster Olney
  (1:05 PM)

J.B. Great info from you. I talked with Brian Cashman this morning and he said that he wanted to see the DVD of Wang's start (with Dave Eiland and Girardi) before making a determination on what to do with him next. He said Wang's velocity was up to 92 mph. What kind of sink did you think he had?

chauncey (teaneck)

Is david Ortiz done?

Buster Olney
  (1:06 PM)

Chauncey: It's possible. He has struggled for a long time now, and the Red Sox will have to hope that he can bounce back in the next two months, in the way that Carlos Delgado did last year. If not, I would imagine they'll be in the market for a bat at midseason, using some of their surplus pitching (I'll start a rumor here today -- and that's all it is, pure speculation -- how about Buchholz for Matt LaPorta and a secondary piece?

chad ny [via mobile]

Who do u think has the best chance to be a break out star in 2009?

Buster Olney
  (1:07 PM)

Chad -- Does Greinke fit your description of a breakout star? Does Johnny Cueto? Two pretty good breakouts there.


Travis Hafner is he done or can we expect anything form him this year?

Buster Olney
  (1:08 PM)

Pagel: He is pretty confident that his most recent injury is not serious, and he should be back sometime this week. There's no question that before his latest problem, he was swinging the bat better than he did at any point in 2008. We'll see...

Mike (San Diego)

Do you think that Tate would be a good fit for the Padres at #3 in this year's draft? It seems like there is no obvious choice after Strasburg and Ackley.

Buster Olney
  (1:09 PM)

Mike: From what I understand, that is the way the lean is right now for San Diego. But keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that go into the decision -- Tate does, in the eyes of some scouts, have a big swing-and-miss issue. Time will tell if the Padres change their minds.

Shane (Knoxville)

are the rumors true that Webb will be traded once he is healthy? This would seem like a really bad idea if the Dbacks want to keep their fans.

Buster Olney
  (1:10 PM)

Shane -- hadn't heard that, but it makes some sense. It all depends on how he looks when he comes back, and when Josh Byrnes decides he will have the most value. If he struggles after returning, it might be that Josh just decides to wait until the off-season to take offers, to buy more time for him to re-establish his trade value.

Mike, LA

Do you think Lackey should have been thrown out? Beckett was not thrown out for hitting Abreu in the head, and then Lackey throws 2 pitches. Pretty tough on the bullpen.

Buster Olney
  (1:11 PM)

Mike: Technically, yeah, I understand why Davidson threw him out, because there was little doubt that he was trying to drill him. On the other hand, I understand why the Angels were stunned, because there was zero warning after the first pitch.

Andy (Tampa)

Over/Under - Crawford steals 100 bases

Buster Olney
  (1:12 PM)

Andy: Under. I'd say 80-85. Stealing that many bases is just too grueling, and he's a physical, power base-stealer.

Noah (Kalamazoo, MI)

Mauer's been showing a lot of power since coming back; is this just a hot streak or has Mauer added another aspect to his game?

Buster Olney
  (1:14 PM)

Noah: I think everybody thought he could hit for power... He just might be one of those guys who zigs and zags with his home run production, depending on how he's getting pitched. The fact that he went oppo at home (a couple of times, I think) was an eye-opener, for sure. I don't know if he's ever going to be a big-time, front-line home run hitter, given his approach at the plate.

Paddy (St. Louis, MO)

Hey Buster, How many RBI's does Pierre need to drive in before we start wondering about his test results? Just kidding. I miss Manny's bat somewhat but I love the example Pierre sets for kids out there watching the game.

Buster Olney
  (1:15 PM)

Paddy: Juan Pierre is probably among the 10 hardest working guys in baseball, along with Roy Halladay, Crawford, etc., so it's not a surprise that he's taking advantage of this opportunity. The man really loves the game.

Miller, Munnerberg, OH

Regarding your LaPorter rumor looks like Theo and Shapiro were a bit ahead of that, but with Victor Martinez as the centerpiece. Report is out today that Sox and Indians have already talked about a deal with Buchholz and perhaps Lars Anderson for Martinez but all the pieces could not be agreed upon. Yet.

Buster Olney
  (1:16 PM)

Miller -- It's a good concept, but I do wonder if the Red Sox would want more on their end of the deal. Martinez is having a great year and he would be a great fit in a lot of ways, but Buchholz would be a big chip to give up...

Mitchell (Cleveland, OH)

What is wrong with the Indians. I mean, when you can't get the pitcher out, a guy who hasn't batted in a game in probably his major league career, something's wrong.

Buster Olney
  (1:18 PM)

Mitchell: A weird team. You look at them individually, and it feels like they should be better than they are. But no matter the reason, the fact is that they just flat-out stink right now. What a shock it is to see Raffy Perez go from being one of the best left-handed relievers in the game to a guy who cannot get anybody out.

Braden, CT

When do you think the Red Sox trade Brad Penny back to the National League?

Buster Olney
  (1:19 PM)

Braden: A Grade B something. Nothing too spectacular. But obviously, if they decide to trade Buchholz for a hitter, then they'll probably wait to figure out what to do with Penny.

Vince PA

Speaking of the Red Sox farm system...Michael Bowden has an ERa of 0.86 in AAA he a frontline ace(only 22 years old) or just 4th-5th starter?

Buster Olney
  (1:20 PM)

Vince -- I hear different things on that --a very wide range of opinion. Some folks think he could be a pretty good pitcher for a good team, and other talent evaluators think he's more of a No. 4-5 type of guy, as you say.

Stephen (Atlanta, GA)

Toronto and their young pitchers have been a huge surprise so far. How long do you think they can keep it up? Where do you project them finishing the season after this start?

Buster Olney
  (1:22 PM)

Stephen: here's the thing about the Rays now -- their hot start has gone on long enough that they believe in themselves, which makes them dangerous, in a way that the Rays were dangerous early in last year's season. Plus every fifth day, the Rays have one of the best pitchers in the sport taking the hill. They may or may not make the playoffs, but anybody who doesn't think Toronto is for real by this point is not paying attention.

Ted (Germantown, WI)

Can you give us your division winners if you had to pick today?

Buster Olney
  (1:23 PM)

Ted... For the record, I had the Rays, Twins and Angels in the AL, and the Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers in the NL. If I had a mulligan, I'd change the Cubs now. Lots of cracks in that foundation that would concern me.

Dan (Buffalo, NY)

Buster, Why would Shapiro trade Vic Mart? He is arguably their best player and even though they have depth at the postion in the minors, I would much rather keep Victor and play him at first.

Buster Olney
  (1:24 PM)

Dan: He's older, he's coming off a year in which he was hurt and a mess, and his trade value will probably never be higher than it is right now. And the Indians are very concerned about the state of their pitching, in 2009 and 2010, given what they've seen so far this year. They thought they would find answers among Laffey, Sowers, Huff, Adam Miller, etc. -- and so far, they've found none. It doesn't mean it won't happen, but certainly, pitching depth has to be a concern.

Ted (Germantown)

Who would you change the Cubs too?

Buster Olney
  (1:25 PM)

Ted: I didn't like their moves in the off-season, although it's not like DeRosa is hitting .450 with 20 homers so far. But I picked 'em anyway...

markrak, Yorktown, VA

Buster, What external options at 1st base are there for the Mets? Unrealistically, do they have anything near what it would take to land Adrian Gonzalez?

Buster Olney
  (1:27 PM)

Markak: I will defer to the rival talent evaluators who know a lot more about the depth of the Mets' farm system than I do -- they say that there isn't a whole lot there. So I suspect that the answer for the Mets will be something moderate, like a DeRosa if the Indians start to sell off, or maybe an Adam LaRoche...

CC (Atlanta)

Wow, I hate to ask a non AL East question since they never get answered but... Is ATL's Kris Medlen a top prospect like Hanson or a notch below?

Buster Olney
  (1:28 PM)

CC: He's a notch below Hanson, in terms of potential, but he's pitched very well so far this year.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

Are you a fan of Buster Posey just because of name choice?

Buster Olney
  (1:29 PM)

Jason: I picked him for my keeper fantasy league team. I figured I had to have him.

Todd (Providence, RI)

A couple weeks ago, it seemed like there was slim chance that the Yankees would resign Johnny Damon. Given his increase in production (some of which has to be due to him hitting behind Teixera), do you think his chances have changed at all?

Buster Olney
  (1:30 PM)

Todd: If he wants a three-year deal, I can't see the Yankees doing that. If he is OK with staying in New York for top dollar for one year or two years at a time, yes, I'd think they'd re-sign him. He's a really good guy on the team, so I think they'll work to keep him.

Eric, West Des Moines IA

How long until the Twins make a change to their bullpen? Its getting painful to watch.

Buster Olney
  (1:31 PM)

Eric: I don't know what they can really do, other than to shuffle the deck with some of their minor leaguers. It's very tough to trade for bullpen help these days, and making a deal for a reliever carries a lot of risk (something which the Twins really don't care for, historically).

Pedro (Venezuela)

Should Omar Vizquel be in the Hall of Fame after he retires?

Buster Olney
  (1:31 PM)

Pedro: I will vote for him. I think it might take him awhile to get in.

Greg (Boston)

Buster, Scott Kazmir looks downright uncomfortable on the mound, and that concerns me as a Rays fan. Do you think he needs a stint in the minors, like Brett Myers last year, or do you keep running him out there and hope he figures it out?

Buster Olney
  (1:32 PM)

Greg: Agree with you completely. I don't think he needs a stint in the minors, but the Rays need to find out why he hasn't cut loose on his slider -- I mean really cut loose -- in about 18 months.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

Will we ever see Ben Sheets pitch again?

Buster Olney
  (1:32 PM)

Jason: yes -- for the Rangers late this season, or next year.

Gary (Detroit)

If Magglio Ordonez is still not hitting for power later this year, do the Tigers have to cut him? His contract has escalators that would make him too expensive in my opinion.

Buster Olney
  (1:34 PM)

Gary -- It depends on how much his presence creates a logjam for Jim Leyland. The bottom line is this -- it's hard to imagine that he'll be part of the Tigers next year, given what his salary will be. So yes, if he doesn't play well and Leyland prefers some alternatives, they should eat the money and move on.

Kev (NYC)

I believe that no team has more potential than the that they are finally playing smarter baseball and getting healthier...Can they go on a huge run?

Buster Olney
  (1:35 PM)

Kev -- they could, but I've thought all along that they might have some problems with injuries this year, because of their age. But we'll see. I'd still stick with my Rays/Red Sox pick for No. 1 and No. 2 in the division.

Brian, KY

It sure is a different world with greenies & PEDs. Does this account for so many older players not looking like themselves?

Buster Olney
  (1:37 PM)

Brian: I cannot possibly know who was doing what, and when they were doing it, specifically. But my short answer to your question is: Yes, I think the presumed decrease in the use of performance-enhancing drugs is having a huge impact on the sport and on older players, generally, and I know that a whole lot of people who work in the game believe that, too.

Steve (Cambria, WI

How come the Brewers get no love? Best record in MLB since the end of April, yet rarely ever see anything on them....

Buster Olney
  (1:38 PM)

Steve: Can only speak for myself -- did something on them (and other streaking teams) in the blog today. They're pitching a whole lot better than I thought they would, for sure.

tom (md)

What the possibilty of the pirates trading Mclouth?

Buster Olney
  (1:39 PM)

Tom: At some point in the next two years, it would make sense for them to take offers, as they try to build up their stock of high-end talent. But I can't say that I've heard anything specific lately.

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

Over/Under 700 career HRs for Pujols.

Buster Olney
  (1:39 PM)

Jason: Under. Incredible hitter, and eventually, injuries will take their toll.

Ryan (Napa)

When do you think they will change the signs around Chavez Ravine to say "Pierrewood" or "Juallywood"???

Buster Olney
  (1:40 PM)

Ryan: The Dodgers' marketing gurus are probably trying to contact you as we chat... Nice thoughts. With that, folks, I've got to run... Have a great week, and chat with you next week.