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September 4, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:01 PM)

We've got four weeks and change left in the season. And outside of the two wild-card races, we might not have another race in sight. So as we get started today, I'm curious whether you think there's a division race that's about to tighten up.

Ryan (Indy)

Why are MVP voters influenced by the success of the players team, but not for the Cy Young Award? It's "Most Valuable Player" not "Most valuable Winner." Thanks!

Jayson Stark
  (1:03 PM)

They're two very different awards, Ryan. The Cy Young is a peformance award. It's about who has pitched the best. Period. So while voters can and will factor in the importance of the games to separate the contenders, it's not the most "valuable" pitcher award. And it's the use of that word "valuable" that shapes the MVP discussion and slants it toward players whose teams are in the race. I don't think a player has to be on a team that makes the playoffs to win an MVP. But I do place extra value on players whose stats are compiled in meaningful situations -- in other words, for teams that stay in the race to the end.

Eric (Orlando)

What moves do the Mets make this offseason? It is really hard to judge how they would do without making some moves because this season was a total loss due to injuries. It is hard to know what to expect from Maine, Pelfrey and Perez. First, LF, RF and C are all question marks as well.

Jayson Stark
  (1:05 PM)

That was the subject of this week's Rumblings and Grumblings. So check that column for more details. But the crux of their debate, I think, is this: Do they break up that core group after three painful seasons? Or can they possibly bring the same guys back again and sell that to their fans? It seems logical to want to change that mix. But go through Santana, K-Rod, Wright, Beltran and Reyes, and try to figure out which one to trade. Reyes is the only one who makes any sense. But I'd have a tough time dealing a 26-year-old player that talented.

Chet (LA)

Maybe, just maybe, Lou Pinniela is completely overrated as a manager. The Devil Rays NEVER improved under him. Now the Cubs are playing well below expectations. He deserves respect, but I think the "saviour" comments should stop. Your thoughts on Piniella?

Jayson Stark
  (1:08 PM)

Let's start with this: No manager is a "saviour." And I don't know of any manager who could have won in Tampa Bay with the players Lou had there at the time. Now let's look at his record: He's reached the postseason with three other teams -- the Reds, Mariners and Cubs. And he had two great seasons before this one. Look, Lou can be tough to play for at times when things aren't going well. But "completely overrated" doesn't work for me.

Flemming (Copenhagen, Denmark)

If two players have similar stats, then I'm all for giving the MVP to a guy, who had impact in the playoff-race. It only makes sense. But if Mauer keeps this up, he's a no-brainer for MVP.

Jayson Stark
  (1:10 PM)

I just wanted to take a comment from Copenhagen -- and because I agree. So far, Joe Mauer is an easy MVP choice. And so far, all his historic numbers have been compiled in meaningful games. Where this could get tricky is if the Twins fade out of the race in the next two weeks. I still think he's the MVP. But I'm sure many voters won't agree if his team finishes eight games out.

Thom (Granville)

Mauer has to be the favorite for AL MVP right now, but why is Miguel Cabrera consistently ignored? He has put up monster stats despite negligible protection from a putrid offense. If the Yankees lost Jeter or Texeira, they'd probably still be a playoff team. If the Tigers lost Cabby, they'd be in 4th place right now, if that. So why are Tex and Captain Clutch getting more play?

Jayson Stark
  (1:11 PM)

I don't think he's been ignored. I just think he's one of those guys who sits behind Mauer and would probably need to be considered the man who lifted the Tigers into the postseason in order to win. He's a great player, though, and he absolutely belongs in the discussion.

Jeff (Reading)

Is Hamels BACK? Rob Neyer seems to think he's just been INCREDIBLY unlucky this season, but the Philly beat writers have talked about his fastball location and his inability to finish off batters/innings in high leverage situations... what's your take?

Jayson Stark
  (1:14 PM)

Well, bad luck has been part of this. Goofy injuries. Mediocre run support. Unusually high average on balls in play. But that doesn't mean he's been the same pitcher he'd been the previous two years, either. I get the sense that halfway through that Mets loss two weeks ago, he said, "Screw it. I'm going to stop putting pressure on myself and just relax and enjoy pitching again." And he's been a much different guy ever since. Much better poise and command of all three pitches the last two times out.

cary (mason)

What kind of miracle is it going to take for the braves to sneak into the post season?

Jayson Stark
  (1:18 PM)

I don't think it would take a miracle at all. But it will take a seriously hot finish. When you're four out with 28 to play, that doesn't seem like a miraculous mountain to climb. But when you're fighting three other teams, it means the Braves probably can't afford to lose more than six or seven more games the rest of the year. I'm going to say 91 wins will get you a wild-card slot. So the Braves would have to go 21-7 to get there. Not out of the question with their pitching.

Jake (VA Beach)

Doesn't the vast amount of injuries factor into the Mets' misfortunte? A signing of Lackey and an OF, and keep Murphy at 1B would seem to put them right back in it with everyone healthy.

Jayson Stark
  (1:20 PM)

I'm assuming you're referring to the tough assessment of their future by the people I polled for Rumblings and Grumblings. I disagree that that's all it would take. First off, I don't know that they can afford Lackey, because they have so many other needs. Catcher, left field, at least one more starter even if they get Lackey, at least one reliever. And I don't know how many people are convinced Murphy is the answer at first. And then you get into the issue of how scarred is this core group by the last three years. I don't think it's as easy to fix as you're making it out to be, in other words.

Michael (Alabama)

Should a Marlins fan be worried about Uggla and Ramirez arguing or was it just frustration? Thanks!

Jayson Stark
  (1:23 PM)

I'm not sure "worried" is the right word here. I think it tells you something, though, about the perception of Hanley Ramirez in that locker room. His games-played numbers don't support the accusation that he doesn't want to play. But the fact that Dan Uggla picked that fight that publicly tells you he wanted people to question whether Hanley is a guy who plays for himself and his numbers, or for his team. I don't know exactly who's right or wrong here. But it's a window into what some Marlins think of the guy, if nothing else.

George (NY)

Shouldn't the Mets admit their financial troubles and go the rebuilding route? They could receive pretty big packages for Beltran and Reyes and build around Santana and Wright.

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

Again, I discussed this in more detail in Rumblings and Grumblings. But while I agree with the premise for the most part, I don't believe Beltran is tradeable. He has a complete no-trade, and he has $37M coming, and he's been hurt for 2 1/2 months. And I'll also say this: It would take tremendous courage for Omar Minaya or any GM to trade Jose Reyes, at 26 years old.

Keary (DUMBO, Brooklyn)

Is the Podsednik-Rios platoon going to work for White Sox's push for AL Central or W/C. Not sure Rios has the makeup to deal with it.

Jayson Stark
  (1:26 PM)

Are the White Sox still pushing? You might want to ask the GM about that. I'm not as high on Alex Rios as Kenny Williams obviously is. His rep in Toronto was that he was a guy who wasn't motivated to be as great as his tools, or to do whatever it took to make his team better. So he has a lot to prove.

Jason (LA)

Jayson, which lefty do you think has the brighter future, Clayton Kershaw or David Price? Kershaw does not get as much pub as Price but is dominating with just 2 pitches, thoughts?

Jayson Stark
  (1:28 PM)

I think I'd still take Price. But right now, Kershaw is the more advanced pitcher. Maybe the NL/AL issue skews this discussion. But Kershaw has been absolutely unhittable in about 10 starts this year. And Price still has a lot to figure out about changing speeds and locating his fastball before he becomes the big winner everyone still expects him to be.

Brian (Cambridge, MA)

Tremendous courage, or tremendous stupidity? Why would a GM ever consider trading a young player like reyes at the bottom of his value (before returning from an injury)?

Jayson Stark
  (1:30 PM)

Good question. There was quite a debate among the people I polled about whether Reyes' value was significantly diminished. There were several executives who said that, unless he's seriously injured and the prognosis for next year is grim, he'd still be in major demand by a team like the Red Sox or Tigers. But if your point is that there's no reason to deal a guy like that without getting a massive package of building-block type players, I agree wholeheartedly.

Dan (Atlantic City)

Is there enough season left for Pedro Martinez to make a serious push for a spot in the Phils playoff rotation, assuming they avoid a Mets-like collapse?

Jayson Stark
  (1:31 PM)

Sure. Why wouldn't there be? The Pedro who went out there last night could pitch for any team in October. Swing-and-miss pitchers are the key to October. And that's what Pedro looked like last night. Now he needs to show he can do that against a better, more disciplined lineup. And he needs to build his pitch count. But that was an eye-opening night on the mound for everybody.

Dan (Ct)

Who are your favorites to make it through the playoffs and get to the series?

Jayson Stark
  (1:32 PM)

I'd go Yankees and Cardinals right now. Two most complete teams around.

Harry (Babylon, NY)

Jayson - why is everyone so interested in the state of the Mets? I'd be more intrigued by what happened to Tampa Bay this season and whether last year was their peak.

Jayson Stark
  (1:35 PM)

If you're from New York and you're not interested in the state of the Mets, I think that tells me something. The Mets discussion was launched by yesterday's Rumblings and Grumblings column, which painted a grim portrait of their future. But I'm fine with turning the discussion to Tampa Bay. That's still one of the most talented teams in baseball, and a team if you'll notice with a better record than the Tigers. The Rays will contend next year and probably beyond. But the most alarming part of their year is that they've gotten so little attendance bump from going to the World Series, it makes you wonder if they can survive in Tampa Bay.

Marc (Malden, MA)

Do the Marlin owners really think a new stadium is going help their lack of attendence? From a baseball standpoint, they might be the best run organization in MLB, they should move to a city that will actually support them.

Jayson Stark
  (1:37 PM)

I refuse to believe that baseball can't work in that market. If you've never attempted to sit in the seats outdoors there in July or August, you have no idea how uncomfortable it can be. And the rain/humidity issues just add to that problem. Give them a domed stadium close to Miami, and more revenue, and they can position themselves as Latin America's Team. Which could have huge impact in many ways.

Brad (STL)

Can the Cards sign holliday if they just sign him and the top two starters and #5 and build around those 4

Jayson Stark
  (1:38 PM)

I discussed this in last week's Rumblings. I know the Cardinals want to sign Matt Holliday. But he's a Scott Boras client who isn't doing a below-market deal. So let's say they give him $20M a year, and then they have to give Albert $30M a year when his deal expires. Can a team in a market like St. Louis really afford to commit $50 million a year to two players? Big, big question for that team to answer.

Andrew (Philly)

Isn't Ryan Howard the prototypical #4 hitter? Yea, he strikes out a lot but the dude flat out drives in runs. He has ridiculous raw power and will get you 120-140 RBIs a season. For that he can hit 250 with 190K's for me. Also, he seems to get hot at the right time of year all the time.....

Jayson Stark
  (1:41 PM)

Look, ideally, you'd love for your cleanup hitter to be a guy who doesn't punch out 200 times a year. But put that aside and look at this guy's numbers. His average got back into the .270 range this week. There isn't a ballpark he can't leave. And he's the greatest home run hitter of his time. I can think of 29 teams that would take that if the Phillies don't want him.

Brad (STL)

Holliday says he really likes St.louis can the Cardinals be able to get him for less then 20 million

Jayson Stark
  (1:42 PM)

He's a Scott Boras client. Now ask yourself why any player hires Boras as an agent. It's to get the absolute most dollars out there. That term, "hometown discount," isn't in Boras' vocabulary. So if the Cardinals get one for Holliday, they really do have some magic power that other teams don't have.

mendel (fl)

what does coghlan need to do further to steal the roy award? He already leads in all categories that really count, but will his lack of hrs and other "snazzy" stats be his downfall?

Jayson Stark
  (1:45 PM)

If he leads in "all categories that really count," why are you worried about his lack of homers? Because homers are also a stat that really counts, right? I see the NL rookie-of-the-year race as a total free-for-all. I think J.A. Happ is still the favorite. But behind him, it's a cast of dozens: Hanson, Wells, McCutchen, Jones, McGehee, Rasmus, etc. September will decide this one.

Andrew W (Newps,CA)

Does Ubaldo become the first Rockies with a sub-3 ERA next year?Much to the dismay of Lincecum lovers (I'm one of them) I think Ubaldo could win a Cy someday.

Jayson Stark
  (1:46 PM)

Ubaldo Jimenez is definitely a Cy Young waiting to happen. I had one executive tell me last week he has "the best stuff in baseball." Roll that statement around your tongue a couple of times.

George (St.Louis)

Do you really think Pujols will make the Cards pay 30 million He says he cares about winning not money

Jayson Stark
  (1:48 PM)

Well, there's a better chance of Albert giving them a "discount" than there is of Holliday doing that, I'd bet. But why would Albert not ask for ARod money when his deal is up? Maybe they can convince him that a contract like that would make it impossible for them to build around him (and they might be right). But I don't think we have any way of knowing yet how he'd react to that talk.

Ken (San Diego)

Holiday is not getting $20 million a year, I don't care how hot he gets he's an average defender on the wrong side of thirty who no team is going to commit $20 million a year. Boras or no Boras there's no way he gets that, it's a different economy and teams are going with the build from within philosophy much more.

Jayson Stark
  (1:49 PM)

I wouldn't pay him $20M a year. But fine. Let's say he gets $18M or even $16M. If Albert gets $30M, it's still a case of two players eating up a gigantic chunk of the payroll. Right?

kevin ONG (denver)

can the Rockies survive the Wild Card with Morales as Closer? Not sure if Street will be 100%.

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

Morales has been tremendous in the bullpen. But Huston Street has been one of the two best relievers in the National League. If he isn't coming back or isn't going to be right, that will cost them somewhere along the line.

Steve (L.A.)

Jayson, do the Tigers hold off the Twins or will there be a repeat of 2006 where the Twins overtake them at the end?

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

There's no comparison between the Tigers' starting pitching and the Twins' starting pitching. If the Tigers can't ride Verlander, Jackson, Porcello and Washburn to first place, that would be a collapse of monumental proportions.

Paul (Toronto)

Who says "no" to a Roy Halladay for Jose Reyes and John Maine trade?

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

Is that a serious proposal? Halladay is a year away from free agency. Reyes is 26 years old. There's no chance the Mets would trade him without getting a package of difference-making players, not one rent-a-player -- no matter how great a pitcher he is.

Brandon (West LA)

Tony Stark, Kendry Morales has worked his way into the MVP conversation. What the heck is the ceiling on this kid?

Jayson Stark
  (1:55 PM)

Let's iron out that issue. (Sorry!) I got some emails a couple of weeks ago when I left Morales out of a list of MVP contenders beyond Joe Mauer. I apologize for that. He belongs on that list. He's been tremendous. He's a lineup-changing bat with big-time power potential. To hit 40 homers in that park on a regular basis is a challenge. But Kendry is a guy I could see doing that. Very impressive year.

Michael D (Abington, MA)

Jayson,Based on your response to Steve from LA's question, are the Tigers the team no one wants to face in the first roud with a short series?Thanks!!!

Jayson Stark
  (1:56 PM)

I wouldn't want to face Verlander and Jackson four times in a five-game series. Would you? So that answer, in other words, is: Yes!

Huge Cards Fan (St.Louis)

Does Brenden Ryan have enough to win the Gold Glove for SS

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

You ARE a huge Cardinals fan. I think this is a Jimmy Rollins-Troy Tulowitzki duel from where I sit. But I don't get to vote. Better start lobbying the coaches that come through St. Louis.

Huge Cards Fan (St.Louis)

Does Wainwright or Carp even have a slim chance for CyYoung

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

Of course. I'd still go Lincecum right now. But Carpenter and Wainwright would rank 2-3. September will decide this one, too.

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

Well, it's that time again. I can only take one more.

Ragan (Philly)

What is keeping the Phillies from being the most complete team in the NL? They have the best offense, best defense, a very good 1-4 staff (and Lee

Jayson Stark
  (2:01 PM)

I knew I'd get this question. Their offense is more dependent on the home run than the Cardinals are. The Cardinals' closer has been much more dependable this year than the Phillies' closer -- even if there's no comparison in stuff. Those are two big issues for me. The Phillies have all the pieces they'd need to win another World Series. But I'm not sold yet on how those pieces are going to fit together when October arrives. Does that make sense?

Jayson Stark
  (2:01 PM)

Thanks to everyone who checked in. For more Mets talk, go read this week's Rumblings and see if you agree with the assessment of people on the outside. It's eye-opening. Seeya down the road in Chat Land!