Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

June 8, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Buster Olney

Buster Olney
  (12:59 PM)

Hi, folks, hope all is well. Round 2 of interleague play coming up, trade rumors percolating (but not too strongly), Oakland is pitching like crazy. Let's get it started.

Jake Marshfield WI

Are the Twins contenders over the long haul?

Buster Olney
  (1:01 PM)

Jake: Absolutely. I picked 'em to win the division and I'm feeling pretty good about that pick right now, because in a division filled with teams coping with all sorts of problems, the Twins have three things they can count on just about every day -- Mauer, Morneau and Joe Nathan. Just got a phone call I have to take -- I'll be right back in a few minutes.

Robin (Toronto)

JP says Halladay isnt going anywhere. For the Jays to have a chance in that division for upcoming years..do you think moving Halladay is the best option?

Buster Olney
  (1:07 PM)

Sorry about that-- Robin: I think they are better off keeping him. There are only a very small handful of guys in every generation who are elite talents and hard workers and who represent the franchise in the way you would want it to be represented. Roy is one; Jeter is another; Santana; John Smoltz, etc. To me, it's worth it to keep those kind of guys.

Josh Safety Harbor FL [via mobile]

Buster, we're any of those calls about the Rays getting some bullpen help???

Buster Olney
  (1:10 PM)

Josh: I hear you. The Rays, though, are one of about 20 teams looking for bullpen help, and besides Huston Street and Brad Ziegler, not a whole lot of guys that figure to be available that would get you fired up. The Rays' best chance for bullpen help might be to ride out the season with what they have, and then, if they're in the race in September, they could move Price over to the bullpen. Can't see them making a big deal for a reliever; it's not their style, and as the Indians have demonstrated for everyone to see, bullpens are frightening volatile.

Thomas (Vegas)

Buster, what did the bottom of that cleat taste like?!

Buster Olney
  (1:11 PM)

Thomas: They actually put a piece of blue tape over the bottom. Although I don't know what really is the difference between tape and the cleat -- still odd. When I saw it in the script I was like... 'Now what is it that they want me to do?' But hey, that's what they wanted.

thomas (union city, ca )

how about andrew bailey for ROY so far in the a.l. 44 k's in 36 innings. pretty impresive stuff

Buster Olney
  (1:12 PM)

Thomas: yes, and he really deserves a lot of credit, because he's taken such a roundabout path to the big leagues. It'll be interesting to see how Oakland does the rest of the way. Talked with Trevor Cahill yesterday and he spoke about how their young guys are all feeding off each other's success.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

I didn't see the game yesterday but heard both good and bad about Tommy Hanson's performance. What was your opinion of it?

Buster Olney
  (1:17 PM)

J.B.: I thought it was the most dominant 6-inning, 7-run performance I've ever seen -- and I'm serious. He came out throwing strikes with all of his pitches, with his curve and his slider and his fastball, and was just overpowering. And then, every time a runner got on base, the Brewers hammered his fastball. I suspect, but don't know, that he might've been tipping his fastball in some way, because the Brewers' swings were full, aggressive hacks; after the breaking balls that he had shown, it made no sense for them to swing that way unless they had a pretty good idea of what was coming. In working with Eric Young and Eduardo Perez on Baseball tonight, I've learned a ton about how often pitchers tip their pitches -- Eduardo says it's something that you can pick up on most days. But again, I write that from a distance. I came away thinking that Hanson has a chance to be really, really, really special, after he cleans up whatever minor issue is affecting him, whether it's a matter of commanding his fastball better with runners on base or tipping his pitches (and again -- that whole pitch-tipping thing is pure speculation on my part).

Kurt Mahopac NY

OK, I am in denial as the Mets are my favorite team since I was 2, but with the rash of injuries and the fact they are still in a wild card spot, what are there chances if they can go through the next few weeks say spliting losses and wins with the Phillies and Yankee's for post season.

Buster Olney
  (1:19 PM)

Kurt -- To me, the Mets' season has reached a crossroads. Of their next 23 games, 19 are against the Phillies, Yankees, Cardinals, Brewers and Rays. Not easy at all, at a time when (as you know better than I) that they are incredibly banged up. If they play well over the next 23 games and win 12-13 of them, they might look back on this part of the season as the period that propelled them.

Brian (Bainbridge, Wa)

You make some incredibly interesting points, as usual, in your blog this morning about the trade market. Prospects are highly valued while many veterans that teams would like to move are seemingly overpaid. Is it inevitable that we will see the rich get richer, while the"poor" shed salary without any return in talent?

Buster Olney
  (1:23 PM)

Thanks, Brian -- I'll give you an example of what you are talking about. From what I understand, the Red Sox are trolling along in trade talks and basically seeing what they can snag without giving up anything (which is precisely how they should play it in the current market). Let's say you were an All-Star outfielder for the Indians making $12 million this year. The Red Sox would phone the Indians and say, 'hey, we'll do you a favor take Brian from Bainbridge off your hands to save you $5 milllion -- but we'll give you some Grade B prospects in return. No Buchholz, no Bowden.' The Red Sox do this knowing that almost no teams are in a position to take on money right now, and so they can get incredible value in this way. That's why, in the end, it might be tough for the Mariners to move someone like a Washburn for anybody of real quality. Even if a team were interested in Washburn and taking on his salary, they might not be willing to give up any decent prospects.

Edwin Jackson (Detroit Tigers)

Have I fully turned the corner this year?

Buster Olney
  (1:25 PM)

Edwin: It certainly looks like it. Your K-BB ratio over the last four seasons, starting in 2006 -- 1.08, 1.46, 1.40 -- and 3.26 this year. Great stuff. And you deserve credit, because you've never blamed anybody and always been accountable and have worked to get better.

BK (mpls)

When is Wells going to get that elusive 1st victory? How good can this guy be?

Buster Olney
  (1:26 PM)

BK: Nice sinker, and he seems pretty steady in his personality. I think he'll be solid...

Dan (DC)

To piggy back on Brian's question: What would the Red Sox legitimately give up for Nick Johnson?

Buster Olney
  (1:28 PM)

Dan: Not a lot. If the Nationals coax Manny Delcarmen out of them, they'll be doing well, I think. If Johnson's injury history was better, I think the Nationals could get good return for him, but the fear of other teams is that the day after they agreed to take Johnson's salary, he might immediately break down. He's viewed as a talented guy who bears a lot of risk (think Rich Harden).

Brandon (NC)

Should the Braves be satisfied with McCloutch or try to make a move for another stick?

Buster Olney
  (1:30 PM)

Brandon: I'd be stunned if they didn't add another outfielder some way or somehow. Heard this incredible stat from the esteemed Boog Sciambi during the Braves' broadcast Sunday -- 69 percent of his at-bats result in him being behind in the count no balls and one strike. That means, of course, that's he's swinging at everything, and statistically, if you are constantly 0-1, the numbers show that you basically have no chance to be a consistently productive hitter.

Milton(Bench)

Was my contract the worst of the off-season so far?

Buster Olney
  (1:31 PM)

Milton: From your perspective, no, it's a great contract. Nobody can say that the Cubs are blindsided by your absences from the lineup -- you'd played in 100 games in the outfield exactly once before this year.

Todd Detroit michigan

Nobody will beat Detroit in that Division. Minnesota does not have a chance with their pitching and their problems staying healthy. Detroit has 3 All Stars who arent even batting to their potential. They are going to win that division for sure

Buster Olney
  (1:33 PM)

Todd: OK. We hear you. We'll see. Big question is whether Cabrera can stay healthy. But some full disclosure: On the first day of the season, I thought that the Tigers were the only one of the five teams in the AL Central who COULD NOT win the division. I thought their pitching problems would be too acute. That was before Justin Verlander becamse Bob Gibson, and before Edwin Jackson became Don Drysdale.

Eric, West Des Moines IA

Behind in the count every at bat? Sounds like Delmon Young, who has struck out about 50% of the time since his return from family emergency leave. What do you do with him?

Buster Olney
  (1:34 PM)

Eric: It's incredible to think that Francoeur and Young might be candidates for non-tenders, but given their current trajectories, it's very possible. There is still lots of time for both to turn around their seasons.

Isaac (MT)

What do you think the Red Sox could get in return for Brad Penny?

Buster Olney
  (1:36 PM)

Isaac: Not much, a Grade B-minus prospect. Boston's biggest problem in moving him is (ironically) the fact that few teams want to take on his whole salary and incentives. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Red Sox wound up kicking in some money into whatever Penny trade they make -- and the more money they kick in, the better the prospect they get in return (think Casey Blake to the Dodgers last year, when the Indians got excellent return because they paid off Blake's salary).

Craig (DC)

Why would the Nationals want Delcarmen? Is he going to help them win 67 games this year instead of 65? The guy is 27 and will be arbitration eligible this year. He's a great middle reliever, but shouldn't the Nationals be looking for a younger players in return for a fairly consistent .850-.900 OPS hitter when healthy?

Buster Olney
  (1:38 PM)

Craig -- he could be a closer for a couple of years. He's not Papelbon, but he's a good major league pitcher, and the Nationals lack those. Yes, in theory, you'd love to get great young players for Nick Johnson, but his injury history and remaining salary is going to impact what the Nationals get in return for him.

Josh (Twentynine-Palms, CA)

Where is Matt Holliday going?

Buster Olney
  (1:40 PM)

Josh: If I had to guess right now, i think he'll be staying with the Athletics, unless the Cardinals' ownership gets hyper-aggressive and is willing to absorb another $5 million-$6 million in salary. And right now, that doesn't seem to be the case. It works against Oakland that both the Yankees and Red Sox are in the mode of hanging on to their young players, because as you know, in most years, the Red Sox or Yankees might be a fit for someone like Holliday.

Mike (San Diego)

If you were Kevin Towers, what would be your plan with Adrian Gonzales, Jake Peavy, and Heath Bell?

Buster Olney
  (1:41 PM)

Mike: I'd look to trade Peavy and Bell, and I'd keep Gonzalez. You can unload everybody without completely alienating your fans. Even during the fire sale of '93, they hung on to Gwynn and Benes.

Don (Ny, NY)

Do you have an intern to help you with the links or are you up at cow-milking hours reading the papers and putting together the blog?

Buster Olney
  (1:41 PM)

Don: Lots of cow-milking for links every morning. Nope, no intern help.

Matt (Highland Mills, NY)

Hey, Buster: Everyone keeps hopefully comparing David Ortiz to Carlos Delgado of last year, but as I recall, Delgado was supposedly dogging it until his manager got fired. Is Papi done, in your opinion?

Buster Olney
  (1:42 PM)

Matt: Yes. But in truth, I thought Delgado was done last year, too.

Richie (Philly)

Hey Buster, great stuff! Could we potentially see the Phils move a bullpen piece with their overload there(Condrey pitching well, Eyre, Romero, Madson, Lidge, Durbin, Park) and a nice prospect for a decent starter? Wouldn't that make sense?

Buster Olney
  (1:44 PM)

Richie: You know what? For now, I'd hold on. Bastardo has looked good, Happ has looked good; rival scouts are impressed. I'd play it out for awhile. Sure, they'd like a high-end guy, but it'll be tough for them to get an Oswalt or Peavy, and Bedard in Philly might not be a good match. So long as I had Moyer and Blanton in the rotation, I'd keep the bullpen deep. At some point, they can probably add a starter cheaply, whether it's a Penny or a Marquis.

Tom (MA)

Do you think there is really anything to the rumors linking the Red Sox to Francoeur? He does not fit in with their offensive philosophy of grinding out at bats at all.

Buster Olney
  (1:44 PM)

Tom: The Red Sox did their checking on Francoeur, and as of now, they are not interested.

Jim (Chicago)

A quick nats question here. Assuming they sign Strasburg, is there any chance they keep him in AAA for all of 2010? My thinking is rather cynical...The Nats will likely have the first pick in 2010 and without Strasburg, would be in the running for that position in 2011. With Bryce Harper being hyped for that spot, any chance the Nats play for last in order to get him in their organization as well? Maybe a silly question but worth asking if Harper is truly the talent he's being touted as.

Buster Olney
  (1:46 PM)

Jim: I think that Strasburg will sign with the Nats, in the end, and that he'll be in their rotation all year. They desperately need something to create some interest in their franchise, and Strasburg will be that guy right away -- right from the start of his career, he'll have FernandoMania type of attention, Mark Fidrych type of attention. I'd bet that he'll sign a major league deal and that the nationals will want him in the majors ASAP.

Jack (Chapel Hill, NC)

Will the Red Sox seriously go after Hanley Ramirez?

Buster Olney
  (1:48 PM)

Peter G. says that the Red Sox and Marlins spoke about Ramirez very briefly, one time, and that the conversation ended in about 0.3 seconds.

eric buffalo [via mobile]

i know the o's are not supposed to be contenders. but what happened to there offense? nobody is hitting.

Buster Olney
  (1:48 PM)

Eric: Great question. Maybe it was the West Coast travel, maybe the fact that they had to face a lot of left-handed pitching (and they're better suited to hit against right-handers).

Jeff (Lancaster)

Are the pirates heading in the right direction?

Buster Olney
  (1:49 PM)

Jeff: Yes. But they're a long ways off. Still need to accumulate a whole lot more talent.

Jason Heyward(Myrtle Beach)

I think Freeman and I are ready for Mississippi, and I've made it public that I want to finish this season in Atlanta. Any arguments?

Buster Olney
  (1:51 PM)

Jason: I've seen your numbers in High A, and I'd bet that you'll be promoted soon. As for the big leagues... well, your best and only hope might be if the Braves are very much in the thick of the race in September and they are desperately in need of OF help. Otherwise, you might follow the same path as Hanson -- and be looking at a June 2010 promotion.

Randy (St. Paul)

Hey Buster, I know Big Papi, is a Big guy, but why isn't there more speculation that he was on the juice? There is a reason the Twins let him go for nothing, then boom he puts up huge numbers with the Red Sox. But now the production is nonexistent, with tougher testing in place.

Buster Olney
  (1:52 PM)

Randy: You can speculate all you want. As a reporter, here's the bottom line -- I don't know. And if I don't know, I really am not in a position to speculate on something as serious as possible PED use. I understand why you ask the question and given the times, it's an inevitable question. But there's almost no way of knowing who did what.

darius(ft worth)

i know charlie will stick by lidge, but when is it time to start getting worried?

Buster Olney
  (1:53 PM)

Darius -- I think he'll stick by him. He's got a ring because of Lidge, and that carries a lot of weight.

mendel (fl)

is there any hope for my marlins this year, or will i just be saying good bye to some more players?

Buster Olney
  (1:54 PM)

Mendel -- I though the Marlins would be better than they are, but they just don't have a whole lot of depth. I guess if Nolasco gets it together and keeps pitching like he did yesterday, they could stay in the race. Short of that, it's hard to see how they can do that.

Scott (Las Vegas)

As a diehard A's fan these last two years have been difficult to swallow when compared to there success ths decade. Do you think their current streak is a sign of good things to come this year, or is it simply a fluke?

Buster Olney
  (1:55 PM)

Scott: These starting pitchers who are doing well are legit prospects. Interestingly, the biggest question about the A's on March 1 was about their rotation. Today, the biggest question is whether the lineup has enough to support the rotation.

Joo Hyung (Incheon, Korea)

Adam Jones...... Fluke Season?

Buster Olney
  (1:56 PM)

Joo Hyung: Absolutely not. Superstar in the making. Incredibly impressive player.

Buster Olney
  (1:56 PM)

Evan (Schnecksville, PA)

Can the Braves stay in the hunt in the NL East?

Buster Olney
  (1:57 PM)

Evan: yes, so long as their rotation can maintain a level of dominance until the offense perks up. That's their only shot.

Dan (DC)

Ryan Zimmerman -- fluke season?

Buster Olney
  (1:57 PM)

Dan: Not necessarily. Scouts think he's much better than in the past because he's worked to keep his hands inside the ball and hit the other way. He's earned his success so far this year.

Chad (Las Vegas)

Is Glavine going to sue the Braves? If so what team would want to sign him with that pending?

Buster Olney
  (1:58 PM)

Chad: He's thinking about filing a grievance.

justin (NJ)

Buster, to Randy's point - its also non-sensical to single out Ortiz over many others. Although he did improve on the Sox, it was about the same relative improvement he had made in his last couple of years in Minny. Then he improved about that same amount over first four years on the Red Sox - where he also had a better park, recieved more consistent playing time and better protection. The dropoff argument is also pretty weak as he didn't drop off until 2008, 3 years after testing went into place. Why would he suddenly stop doing what he was doing 3 years later. Not saying he isn't doing it, anyone could have. But to single him out over others who are just as likely (see Mariano Rivera who had a similar career explosion in his mid 20s) is not responsible.

Buster Olney
  (1:59 PM)

Justin: I don't like speculating that Ortiz or anybody did PEDs, for that matter, because the bottom line is I just don't really know.

Calvin (Rockville, MD)

What is going on with Wandy Rodriguez? Does it look like it'll turn into a prolonged slump?

Buster Olney
  (1:59 PM)

Calvin: There is a lot of speculation among scouts that he's tipping his pitches.

Fred Cicero

Why not have it if you fail one test you are banned for life?

Buster Olney
  (2:00 PM)

Fred: I'd go first strike and you are suspended for an entire season, with the team having the option of voiding your contract, and with a second strike, you are suspended for life.

Buster Olney
  (2:01 PM)

With that, folks, my time is up -- thanks for all the great questions, about 850 in all. I'll chat with you next week.