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August 3, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Buster Olney

Buster Olney
  (1:02 PM)

Hey, folks, hope all is well... We've all had a chance to catch our breath now, and as we speak, the first wave of players are being placed on waivers, so we may have more trade talk coming up in the next 48 hours. Let's get to it.

Jay (Louisville)

Buster, How long should the rebuilding process in Seattle take? I know they have some young pitching, what are your expectations?

Buster Olney
  (1:04 PM)

Jay -- if they can keep King Felix -- and I'm sure you're aware by now of the talks they had with the Red Sox and other teams about him -- and are able to re-sign Jarrod Washburn for 2010, you could see them being competitive right now. Building a pitching-and-defense type of team, as the Mariners have done, is the fastest way to respectability. But they do have a long way to go to take a step to the next level... It's too bad Brandon Morrow hasn't translated yet for them; if he had emerged, that could've made a big difference.

Don (NY, NY)

Buster ....what do you make of this story in the Seattle Times that the Mariners turned down an offer from Boston that would have sent any five of Boston's top prospects (Reddick, Bard, Buchholz, Hagadone Bowden) to the Ms for Felix? Do you think that was really offered and if so, how was that rejected?

Buster Olney
  (1:04 PM)

Don: From what I understand -- all true.

Ken (Detroit)

Hi Buster, what do you think the Tiger's are planning to do with Maggs? I think they'll call up Ramirez, Wells, or Boesch from the minors and release Magglio...

Buster Olney
  (1:06 PM)

Ken: I'd be shocked if he got the PAs necessary for him to vest that $18 million deal for 2009. Purely a guess here, but unless he just absolutely goes nuts and starts crushing the ball in the next month -- he's hitting .243 since the All-Star break, with one homer in 37 at-bats -- I'd guess that he'll be released. But that's purely a guess, in reading tea leaves, and to be clear, nobody with the Tigers has said that to me. As a business decision, I don't know how you can allow that contract to vest.

Jeff (Alexandria, VA)

Braves starting OF in 2011: Heyward, Shaefer, McLouth?Seems like a pretty solid trio to me, and other than McLuth, a ridiculously cheap trio (for a while at least)...

Buster Olney
  (1:10 PM)

Jeff: Heyward will make any outfield a great outfield, and I think he'll be in Atlanta by next June at the very, very latest. The question of what to do with him at the outset of 2010 will be the biggest debate of spring training for Braves' fans, because he's certainly showing he might be able to handle the transition quickly. He'll turn 20 in a few days, and he's crushing Class AA, with an OPS of 1.238 and just nine strikeouts in 84 at-bats. I agree with you that the other two guys will be there, too.

Derek (Indianapolis)

Do you think Boston may be placing too much value on Clay Buchholz? Yeah, there was the no hitter in '07, but he's looked in over his head ever since. Is this guy REALLY going to be THAT good?

Buster Olney
  (1:14 PM)

Derek: His start yesterday in Baltimore probably has the Red Sox pretty concerned, because we saw a lot of '08 Buchholz in four-plus ugly innings -- he seemed really afraid to force contact, and again unable to stop an inning from snow-balling on him. He looked absolutely uncertain of what he wanted to do from batter to batter, constantly throwing to first base, as if to buy time. There was a moment when he threw to first with Brian Roberts there (and the score might've been 14-6 at that point), and Roberts threw his head to the side as if to say, c'mon, Dude, just pitch, already. If he struggles the rest of this season, his trade value will go down markedly, because remember, he's not Tommy Hanson at age 22 -- he turns 25 in another two weeks, and other teams will want to see him progress the rest of this year before attributing high value to him.

Brian (Fort Worth)

Given what the Angels are doing right now without Vlad and Hunter, and the improvements the Red Sox have made, was the Rangers move of keeping all of their top rated farm system in place the right move? we would hate to have passed up an opportunity now for always risky future?

Buster Olney
  (1:16 PM)

Brian: From what I understand, the Rangers had no money. They asked the Jays to pick up Halladay's salary, in any proposed deal, and yet wouldn't give up Smoak and Holland (understandably). I mentioned this last week in a blog -- their reliance on their farm system (which is exactly how you'd want them to be) and their lack of cash really locked them in place before the trade deadline, and that might not be so great for the rest of 2009. But assuming they can either keep Millwood or find a comparable pitcher, they should be ready to take it to the next level in 2010.

Jason (Bmore)

So much discussion and negativity has surrounded the Pirates this year, and for awhile as of late. As a fan, I am happy they at least are following a plan, rather than just trying to take the easy way out by signing fan favorites, and not really using any analysis as to how and why they can help the team. The good teams like Philly and Boston are able to sign bigtime FAs, but most of their success is farm grown.

Buster Olney
  (1:18 PM)

Jason: I totally understand the frustration of Pirates' fans over 17 straight years of losing, and you can't blame them for having a lot of doubts about whether Neal Huntington's plan will work; they've heard it all before. But I'm with you, I think the Pirates do have a plan, I think they are gathering talent that is of a higher caliber, and I do think they're headed in the right direction. The question of whether club ownership will have the patience to see the plan through hasn't been answered yet, but they do have a plan...

Paul (Denver)

Your chat is slower than molasses in January. With that said, do you think this is Sweet Lou's last year if he can't guide the team to the promiseland?

Buster Olney
  (1:20 PM)

Paul -- Sorry, don't like to give one sentence answers. No, I think Lou will stick around. He's a baseball lifer, and he'd go nuts not being around it. I remember when Bobby Cox was musing about retirement, and I mentioned this to Gene Michael, who just burst out laughing and said, 'What the hell else is he going to do? He loves baseball too much.' That's Lou.

KeeperLeagueGM (NYC)

That three-way deal with the Red Sox, Mariners and Padres would have been incredible for the Mariners and Sox, and didn't appear great for the Pads. Given the state of affairs in San Diego, what will be their next move in the off-season?

Buster Olney
  (1:22 PM)

KeeperLeague -- the largest piece of info that was not in Geoff Baker's fine piece was about who the Padres would have gotten in prospects from the Red Sox; the deal might've looked better on paper if they had gotten a Tazawa, for example. I think the Padres will trade Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell in the off-season; I know there are some rival execs who think San Diego made a mistake by not capitalizing on Bell's value right now and dealing him before the deadline.

Luis (Huntsville, AL)

Can you throw any names and possible destinations for the waiver deadline? Do you see a big name on the horizon, and explain a little more on how that works?

Buster Olney
  (1:24 PM)

Luis: I don't know about possible destinations yet -- all depends on where teams are in the standings on a given day -- but I do think the vast majority of players will get through waivers this year. Heath Bell won't get through, and I don't think Adrian Gonzalez will get through. But teams are so concerned about taking on money these days that they won't be nearly as aggressive in placing claims to block as they have over the last decade.

Joe (NYC)

Was wondering if you saw Neyer's guest post today and what your thoughts were. Thanks!

Buster Olney
  (1:27 PM)

Joe: I'd go out on a limb and guess that most players don't break it down like John Nash. For a lot of players, it came down to thinking like this: There are not penalties and so even if I test positive I won't get busted -- without any thought of the broader implications for their union or for the other members of the union. And that's what I was getting at the other day.

Michael (Annapolis, MD)

Do you think the Yankees will try and get a 5th starter?

Buster Olney
  (1:28 PM)

Michael: yes, they'll continue to try. Whether or not anyone of any quality gets through waivers to them is another question altogether.

Pete (NY)

Teams were smart in not paying that price for Halladay. Even if he is the best pitcher in baseball he's 32. How many more dominant years does he have left?

Buster Olney
  (1:29 PM)

Pete: The price was incredibly high, and the Jays never moved, which makes me wonder how serious the ownership was about moving him. That said, if I was the Phillies, I would've done what it took to get him... He would've been perfect for them. In the end, the Phillies did well, of course, but I'd still prefer Halladay over Lee.

Buster Olney
  (1:29 PM)

Pete: The price was incredibly high, and the Jays never moved, which makes me wonder how serious the ownership was about moving him. That said, if I was the Phillies, I would've done what it took to get him... He would've been perfect for them. In the end, the Phillies did well, of course, but I'd still prefer Halladay over Lee.

Andy (Baltimore)

Tillman vs Verlander in Detroit tonight. Be sure to tune in.

Buster Olney
  (1:29 PM)

Andy: I'm curious to see how Tillman does in his second time out. It's getting ugly in Baltimore these days, and the O's need a lift.

Chris D (Capital City)

Buster,Did Gordon Beckham's performance against the Yanks this weekend boost his AL ROY chances?

Buster Olney
  (1:30 PM)

Chris D: He'd have to be looked at as one of hte guys in the lead pack, yes? And there is increasing buzz around the guy, the way that there was around Longoria last year...

Ted (Seattle)

Who are you most surprised didn't become a star: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood or Dontrelle Willis?

Buster Olney
  (1:31 PM)

Ted: Prior. He was so good. He'll be the guy you'll tell your kids about in 15 years and say, 'You know who was really good? This guy named Mark Prior...' And they'll have to go and look up his numbers before they believe you. It's really a shame the way it has gone for him.

Ryan (Burbank,CA)

You have to be surprised by the best offense in baseball, the Angels. Your thoughts on what you've seen from Morales and others in that lineup this year.

Buster Olney
  (1:33 PM)

Ryan: Stunned. We've been watching this supporting cast for how many years, waiting for them to step up and complement Vlad -- and lo and behold, it's like they've arrived all at once. It's hard to imagine the Angels not hanging on in the West.

Pete (NY)

If you were the Yanks GM would you be glad at this point you kept Joba and Hughes instead of dealing them for either Santana or Halladay?

Buster Olney
  (1:34 PM)

Pete: yes. I thought all along that was the right play, and I'd still feel that way. Santana has, what, $110 million owed to him from here forward, and Halladay is 32, and the Yankees instead have two good young pitchers who are going to give them five years of relatively cheap production each.

Ben (Atl)

Still picking the Rays out of The East? My money is on Das Yanks.

Buster Olney
  (1:35 PM)

Ben: I hear you. I'll live and die with the Rays' pick -- I don't like switching during the season -- but the Yankees will continue to be the better team until the Rays get more consistency out of their rotation.

Mike (Lake Forest, CA)

Early World Series predictions?

Buster Olney
  (1:36 PM)

Mike: I had Rays over the Phillies before the season, and if I had a do-over today, I'd probably pick the Phillies over the Yankees or the Red Sox... A lot depends on whether the Red Sox can get somebody healthy or productive in the No. 4 or No. 5 spots in their rotation.

Brett (Atlanta)

Buster where can I find an article about this deal the Red Sox supposedly offered for King Felix?

Buster Olney
  (1:36 PM)

Brett: Seattle Times, by Geoff Baker.

Michael (MD)

What do you think about Alex Rodriquez preformance so far this year?

Buster Olney
  (1:37 PM)

Michael: Give him credit -- he's worked through all the physical and emotional stuff, and is back to being among the most dangerous hitters in the game.

Mike (Toronto)

Do you think Ricky Romero's a candidate for ROY or is what he's doing just getting lost up here in Toronto?

Buster Olney
  (1:38 PM)

Mike: He'd probably be my pick today, but there are a lot of games to play, and if the White Sox contend into the last weekend and Beckham continues to rake, he'll probably move ahead.

Paul (Orange County CA)

You said earlier the Mariners are going to try to sign Washbun in the offseason.Why would the M's be so arrogant to think they can trade someone and resign him a few months later? Teams always think they can do this but I've never seen it happen

Buster Olney
  (1:39 PM)

Paul: Because Washburn has made it very clear he likes pitching there, and he had a nice connection with pitching coach Rick Adair, who helped him with an adjustment that turned him around. Now, he's a Boras client, so saying you like pitching someplace and then coming up with an acceptable deal for both sides is something else entirely, but they feel like they have a chance to bring him back.

Gavin (Chicago)

What about Randy Wells for ROY in the NL? 7-4, 2.84 ERA for a contending Cubs team

Buster Olney
  (1:40 PM)

Gavin: Agree, he's among the first names in the conversation.

Bomber (Bronx, NY)

Would you deal Hugh's and prospects in order to secure someone for the 5 spot on the rotation ?

Buster Olney
  (1:40 PM)

Bomber: They're not going to do that. They'll pick up a Jon Garland/Doug Davis type of guy, if anybody.

Eli (Chicago)

If you had a chance to revise your NL playoff picks, what changes would you make to your preseason predictions?

Buster Olney
  (1:41 PM)

Eli: Wouldn't change a thing. Before the season I had Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers winning the division, and the Cardinals as the wildcard, and the Phillies going to the WS.

Matt (Chicago)

Buster...What do you think of the Peavy deal? I really think this could be like the Freddy Garcia deal. The White Sox might not make the playoffs this year, but next year they are going to be tough to beat.

Buster Olney
  (1:42 PM)

Matt: Yes, it could be really good. Two big questions for me: How will Peavy be in an acute hitters' park like the Cell, and how will he do with his max-effort style of high pitch counts in the AL. I know that some teams in the AL East basically weren't interested because they thought he would constantly be coming out of the game after five inning, with 110 pitches...

Jack (NYC)

Buster....any love for the Marlins??? They just took 2 of 3 at LA, against the Braves and Cubs yet they are NEVER mentioned as someone to watch out for?? WHY?? They aren't going anywhere would you agree??? Thanks.

Buster Olney
  (1:44 PM)

Jack: Before the season, we all talked up the Marlins as a potentially dangerous team because of the rotation -- and now that Nolasco is back and throwing well, they're dangerous again. I like the pickup of Nick Johnson for them... I don't have to tell you that what Lindstrom can give them the rest of this year will be crucial.

Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)

Hey Buster, do you think George Sherrill will get any save chances for the Dodgers?

Buster Olney
  (1:45 PM)

Craig: Yes, because Torre uses Broxton a lot and there will be days when he just won't be available -- and Torre will finish games with Sherrill. Wouldn't be a shock if Sherrill got 1 to 3 saves the rest of the way.

Daniel ((Plano, TX))

Do you think the Rangers will make the playoffs this year?

Buster Olney
  (1:45 PM)

Daniel: No, I don't. In the end, I'd guess that their lack of pitching depth will take them down. But they've taken major strides forward, whether the make the playoffs or not.

Fred (Detroit)

You don't think the Phillies will beat the Dodgers? Should be a terrific series either way

Buster Olney
  (1:46 PM)

Fred: I've got the Phillies going to the WS, still...

Jason W. (San Jose)

No love for the Giants then?

Buster Olney
  (1:46 PM)

Jason: They're the team nobody else wants to see make the playoffs, because of Lincecum and Cain, for sure. We'll see if they hit enough to be the wildcard...

Gerardo (AZ)

Buster, how long would you expect Webb to recover from that type of surgery?

Buster Olney
  (1:48 PM)

Gerardo: His whole future has to be in question, because shoulder surgery is not the sure thing that elbow surgery is. Now, to be clear, I don't know the details of what fixes were made, and none of us know for sure what's going to happen; he could come back and be as good as he was. But pitchers coming back from shoulder surgery seem to have a longer road back -- in regaining their command, in particular. Hopefully it'll work out for him, because he's a really good guy and he's good for the sport.

rocco (ny)

What is your take on what the Orioles got back in the Sherril trade? Will Bell be a solid regular for them?

Buster Olney
  (1:50 PM)

Rocco: I haven't seen him, but from what I hear from other teams, he's very raw and will take some time. But his solid OBP tells you he has an idea of what he's doing at the plate, and it's hard to argue with the Orioles' recent track record of identifying talent.

Tristan (Houston)

I like Edinson Volquez. Can he still be effective in 12 months after Tommy John surgery?

Buster Olney
  (1:50 PM)

Tristan: His next chance at pitching at the same level he was at in 2008 will probably be in 2011. Pitchers who go through that surgery say it takes about two years to come all the way back...

Matt (PA)

AL Playoff Picks, your re-do version?

Buster Olney
  (1:52 PM)

Matt: Preseason I had Rays winning the East, Red Sox as the WC, the Twins winning the Central and the Angels winning in the East. With a mulligan, I'd probably go Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Angels. But to be clear, I'm standing by my pre-season picks (and will be here to take the abuse in October).

Brett (Atlanta)

how seriously do you see the Red Sox getting about trading away Dice-K? And if they do can they really get anything in return?

Buster Olney
  (1:54 PM)

Brett: It would be tough for them, because they still owe him a lot of money and his trade value is way, way down. I'm sure they would try to ride out this tough season and hope that their recent conversations help him bounce back, rather than dealing him, because they wouldn't get much, anyway. The only way I'd think they'd deal him is if they ever reached the conclusion internally that he had no chance of being productive for them.

Jared (DC)

Adam Dunn playing first base...this is gonna get ugly

Buster Olney
  (1:54 PM)

Jared: Agree. He's a DH.

Rob (Boston)

I seriously think that go ahead HR by Ortiz, the day the 2003 report came out, was the biggest hit he's had since the 2004 postseason.

Buster Olney
  (1:57 PM)

Rob: I hear you, but it's important to look at it from all sides. The fact that he tested positive doesn't taint what the Red Sox did, because every team had many guys doing the same thing, presumably. And at the same time, the 'roids will forever be part of Ortiz's legacy. There are players who made a different decision who we never heard from, and it's fair speculation (without any certain answer available) to wonder if the biggest alteration in Ortiz's career was a decision to take performance-enhancing drugs.

J.B. (Dunmore, PA)

Dunn's 1B mitt is just a pizza tray folded in half.

Buster Olney
  (1:58 PM)

J.B.... Hah -- I glanced at your answer and thought you initially wrote 'Piazza', which would have been appropriate, too, in this context.

Joe (Green Bay) [via mobile]

Buster, you saying "Dude, bad choice of words." was a highlight of BBTN. That said, I don't think Berthiaume (sp?) meant anything by his saying the BoSox needed an "injection."

Buster Olney
  (1:58 PM)

Joe: He didn't mean anything by it. Completely an accident on his part. We were laughing about it during the commercial break.

Marty (Baltimore)

Buster, I really wanted your take on this debate I was having with some friends. I get supporting your team and your players. But I cant understand why Red Sox fans have gone out of their way to cheer LOUDER for David Ortiz in light of the reports? He cheated and lied - since when does this merit more love and adoration. Same thing happened for A-rod. Please enlighten me as to why this happens?

Buster Olney
  (2:02 PM)

Marty -- If I was a fan the way I was when I was a kid (I was a psycho Dodger fan), I wouldn't root louder. I wouldn't want him kicked off the team, either... I'd probably just look at him in a different light. I have a very close friend whose son is a Red Sox fan, at age 15, and he's increasingly philosophical about the whole thing... He's not making excuses for Ortiz, but coming to understand the broader context of what went on. I will say this, though: I think if a player tests positive and is busted now, in 2009, it's a lot different than somebody who took them in 1999, at a time when there was no policy and no ramifications. When guys take stuff now, it's nothing less than an attempt to cheat the system. In '99, I think a lot of players look at it as something they had to do to keep up within their chosen profession.

Matt (Seattle)

RYAN WESTMORELAND....he wasnt on the list of prospects. Was that an error and he was actually offered? Or was he a deal breaker?

Buster Olney
  (2:03 PM)

Matt -- from what I've been told, he is not going to be traded by the Red Sox.

Austin (Iowa)

Why does it seem like the Big Papi thing has already been glossed over? Timing because of the trade deadline or what? A-Rod took heat for a lot longer and he wasn't even playing the first 6 weeks.

Buster Olney
  (2:04 PM)

Austin: Part of it is steroid fatigue on the part of the fans, and lack of shock value for the media. Let's face it, if you had swapped Ortiz and Palmeiro, in terms of timing, there would have been a very, very, very different reaction. If we found out now that Palmeiro had tested positive years ago, there would have been a full-out yawn -- and if Ortiz had been busted in the summer of 2005, wow, that would have been a HUGE story.

Buster Olney
  (2:04 PM)

With that, folks, my time is up. I'll see you next week...