Hey everybody, It's a big football weekend, but we've all got baseball on our minds here. Let's get going.
Jeff Francouer has an over .800 OPS as a Met. Do you think this is the REAL Francouer or should Mets fans expect in 2010 the guy who wore a Braves uniform earlier this year?
Jason, Francoeur has done a pretty nice job for the Mets, but he still has 21 walks all season. He's a corner outfielder with a .713 OPS and 12 homers this year. Even if he hits 18-20 homers, that's not really an impact corner guy. He is what he is, as they say.
What kind of return can Carlos Zambfano get on the open market? He has about 55 million left on his contract, can he still command top prospect type value at age 28?
Alex, It's a pretty weak free agent pitching market, so that can't hurt Jim Hendry in his efforts to get a decent return for Big Z. I think Zambrano still has value. He's a three-time All Star and he just turned 28. But as we saw when Halladay and Cliff Lee went on the market this summer, teams are only willing to give up so much from their stock of minor league talent.
Jerry,Peter Gammons was on a Boston sports radio station yesterday and spoke of the proposed trade between Boston and Toronto as Bucholtz, Masterson, Haggadone, Bowden and Reddick for Roy Halladay and it was turned down. This had to be done by the owner becasue if not JP should not have a job with this type of deal on the table right? How could Toronto turn it down and why would Boston offer so much?
Mike, I would be surprised if the Red Sox would give up that much, but Peter obviously has good sources on it. You might want to ask him on his chat.
Since the free agent market for Catchers is made up of mostly older players who don't get on base very much at all, how likely is it that the Mets start 2010 with a catching tandem of Thole and Santos?
Jason, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. Do you Gregg Zaun or Henry Blanco offer that much more than Omir Santos? Probably not.
Many thanks for your chats, Jerry. The Cardinals have stumbled the past ten days, going from red hot to tepid, at best. Is this to be expected, one of those "better now, than later" struggles, or is it terminal? How has the fact that their AAA affiliate being in the championship has tied their hands on call-ups (Freese, Garcia, et all)? I see some reason for hope: Franklin recovered and pitched well his last outing, Carpenter and Wainwright are still studs and of course, there is a guy named Pujols. What is your take on the team at this point, and projections on the playoffs? Many thanks again...
Rich, You have to like the Cardinals' chances with Pujols and Holliday in the lineup and Carpenter and Wainwright in the rotation. As good as Ryan Franklin has been, is he an airtight, shutdown guy in October? I'm not so sure. But you could make the case that a lot of clubs are vulnerable in the eighth or ninth inning this year. I'd feel pretty good about my chances if I were Tony La Russa right now.
Jerry, if Chipper does retire after this season, does he still have a good chance getting into the HoF?
Shane, Chipper has a strong Hall case right now, but he could use another productive year or two to firm it up. I think he's just speaking out of frustration at the moment. He hasn't performed to his standards this year. But veteran players tend to feel different in November and December once they have time to rest and heal a bit. I expect him to approach it as a challenge and look to come back strong in 2010.
Jerry! Simple - settle the controversy. Who's your pick for AL MVP?
Derek, I respect everybody's opinion, but you can put me firmly in the Joe Mauer camp.
Should I exercise Freddy Sanchez's $8 million option for next year, or should I use the money to sign someone with more pop?
Brian, Sanchez is a good player, but $8 million seems a bit pricey for a non-power hitting second baseman in this economic climate. On the other hand, it's not a deep second base crop in free agency. Orlando Hudson and Felipe Lopez are the big guys out there.
How bad does the Brian Roberts signing look now in the fact of the current economic climate? What would he get as a FA in this market?
Bob, Roberts did well in this market, but he's going to finish the season with 30-plus steals, and he leads the majors in doubles. Let's put it this way: The Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano and Barry Zito deals make his seem like a bargain in comparison.
If the Yankees win it all this year, can you see Pettitte and/or Mo calling it a career?
Hank, Can't see why Rivera would quit. He's signed for $15 million, he's pitching better than ever, and he'd probably like to stick around and make a run at 600 saves. Pettitte's offseasons are always soap operas, but I have to think that he would give serious consideration to coming back on another one-year deal. If his family is cool with it, why not?
What's wrong with BJ Upton? Not physically, I mean what's with his poor offensive showing this year? Any chance the Rays look to move him this winter?
Bob, I've talked to a lot of baseball people about Upton lately. He's got bad body language and doesn't seem to care half the time. It's a maturity issue, I guess -- although he's 25 years old now. He did have shoulder surgery in the offseason, so you can't discount the physical aspect. But something is missing with that kid.
I know this part of the season could be considered "garbage time", but the A's are really playing well this month. with their solid play, and the wealth of prospects in their system, can we look for them to be contenders in 2010, or is 2011 more realistic
Scott, I'm not sure I see enough middle of the order thunder for that team to contend in 2010. But the A's like the way the young pitchers have progressed, and Rajai Davis, Ryan Sweeney and Cliff Pennington have all played well. The danger is that sometimes you can get fooled by performances once a team is out of it. But the A's season is certainly ending on a better note than it began.
If it weren't for his W/L record (12-10) due to poor run support, would Jair Jurrjens be considered one of the top contenders for the Cy Young? His ERA is outstanding and every time he goes out there he puts his team in position to win.
Justin, He'd still be behind Lincecum and the Cardinals pitchers. But he's in that next rung with Josh Johnson and a couple of others. Javy Vazquez, Jurrjens' teammate, has also had a nice year without a lot of pub.
I agree re: other contracts vs. Roberts, but B-Rob's OBP (critical to a leadoff hitter) is average, and his defense (at least according to the stats) is bad. How much value should a team place on defense vs offense in deciding which player to go with? Does it depend on position?
Bob, The Orioles have gone young and have either gotten rid of their veterans (Huff, Zaun, etc.) or are phasing them out (e.g. Melvin Mora), and I think they wanted to keep Roberts around to be the veteran cornerstone. He's sort of the leader of that club, the owner likes him and he's a fan favorite, and he's still a very good offensive player. I haven't checked the defensive metrics on him lately, but I've never considered him a bad defensive second baseman. He's certainly good enough that they can live with it.
The Twins have to trade Mauer this offseason, right? Only a handful of teams can afford him (Sox, Yanks, maybe Angels). What's the cheapest offer the Sox could give and still get Mauer? Reddick and a B prospect?
President, The Twins are moving into a new stadium, and they'd be committing franchise suicide to deal Mauer without making a huge push to re-sign him. Mauer is a local guy and the perception is he's not going to scratch and claw for the last buck. I don't understand why people think the Twins have no chance to keep him.
Is the value of Franklin Gutierrez's defense (22.5 UZR) worth the erlatively low OBP he brings?
Bob, The Mariners certainly think so. Gutierrez's OBP might need work, but he's still going to hit .270 to .280 with close to 20 homers in a big ballpark. If Jeff Francoeur could do that, the Mets would be ecstatic.
I think El Presidente needs to get his head examined. Do you see the Yanks signing Damon to a short term deal until Austin Jackson is ready?
Andrei, Yep, I can see that happening. Damon has been a nice fit, and as good as Austin Jackson was in Triple-A this year, the Yankees don't seem averse to giving him a little more time. The question is, how short a deal is Damon willing to take?
Jerry, how do you feel that your coverage of baseball has evolved as sabermetrics has become much more "mainstream" and accepted in baseball and baseball media? Do you find that you value/write about the "intangibles" and "character" narratives less than you used to?
Raj, I still enjoy writing about the people side of baseball, but I regularly check sites like FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus or Baseball Primer for insights into how the stat guys think. Funny thing is, when you talk to general managers who are considered "enlightened" or "stats guys," they routinely talk about things like character and makeup. I think the SABR community would be surprised how heavily that weighs into front office decisions.
Do the Angels let Lackey walk? Is he underrated/overrated? He certainly has not pitched well in fenway in October. Thanks.
Mike, I don't know if the Angels "let him walk," but most people considered the Kazmir acquisition a hedge against Lackey leaving Anaheim. He's a horse in the rotation, but he's had some injury issues, and he's going to ask for a lot of money this year because he's the best starter in a weak free agent crop. I don't think the Angels will bring him back if it means going crazy to sign him.
Just as a follow-up, then, do you think within another generation, that the prevalence of 'character'/people narratives to explain the game will be essentially gone? I'm a 44 year old man who has seen baseball writing really evolve in the last 20 years; I can foresee a day in which the 'people narratives' which columnists trade in to explain what happens during a game/season will disappear
Raj, I hope not. I find value in the Sabermetric-based sites, but I don't think the vast majority of the baseball-reading public is consumed by numbers. There will always be room for both kinds of stories.
Do the Mets have to blow everything up? It sorta looks like it. They have some injured talent but no budget and no prospects. Why not just rebuild?
Ian, If that's the case, who do they trade? David Wright or Jose Reyes? Wright isn't going anywhere, and Reyes' value is extremely low right now considering that he's still young and plays a premium position. Beltran and Santana have big contracts, and they also have K-Rod signed for two more years. I think the nucleus stays intact. It'll be a challenge for them to find the right complementary parts. But I wouldn't go crazy based on one horrendous year. That team was crushed by injuries more than anyone in baseball.
at what point is jim hendry's job in trouble? sorta seems like no one is minding the store. how do you give soriano that kind of money? how do you give Z that kind of money and then turn around and start shopping him?
MK, Jim Hendry would be the first to admit that he didn't have a great year, but I don't get the sense that his job is in any trouble.
If you were in charge of the Giants, would you trade Cain for Prince Fielder? Sandoval, Posey and Fielder in the middle of that lineup would be nice
Ben, It seems like we've heard that deal being tossed around for a couple of years now. If the Giants think Madison Bumgarner is ready, moving Cain for Fielder would make sense on some levels. But how often do you see two young players of that caliber traded straight up? It's like the Matt Garza for Delmon Young trade -- to the 10th power.
Can the Angels Beat the Sox in the Playoffs?
Joey, Sure, they can beat them. But the Red Sox, with some help from the umpires this week, have really climbed into the Angels heads. And to be honest, I'm not sure how much I trust Brian Fuentes and the Angels' bullpen against Boston in October.
Did you happen to see the end of the Red Sox - Angels game on Wednesday night? The Red Sox won it with a base hit to left field with 2 outs and the bases loaded and I have yet to see anyone discuss how ridiculous that play was. The ball literally landed maybe a foot or so in front of the fielder. There is NO way he should not have at least tried to make the sliding catch, or at least just lunge out. It seemed like a pretty standard out play to me.
Abe, I've gotta admit, I would have liked to see a little more intensity from Juan Rivera on that play. It wasn't a "standard out," but he had a chance to catch that ball, no question. He should have made a better effort.
Jerry, any chance I can come and work for you next year? Cause I am pretty sure darn sure I will not be anywhere near a ML team next season.
Eric, I don't think your prospects for returning to Cleveland are looking real good right now. Sorry about that.
Which current 2nd baseman (if any?) has the best chance of Cooperstown enshrinement after his career is over?
Murray, I'll go with Chase Utley. He has Hall of Fame written all over him. Let's just hope he doesn't drop another profanity in his induction speech.
I see that the Royals have signed Crow to major league contract that can be worth as much as 4.5million dollars, why? Crow does'nt have any leverage and he cannot risk another year in an indpendent league. Why did the Royals not offer Crow slot money for the 12th pick?
Bang, For starters, I don't think the Royals wanted this to drag out until next spring. No. 2, this is the same team that overpaid Lou Hochever when people thought he didn't have any leverage. No. 3, if a pitcher goes to independent ball once, what's to say he won't do it again? And No. 4, the Royals probably figured it wasn't the best course of action to try to squeeze Crow financially. They consider him a long-term cornerstone piece. I'm sure they didn't want this union to get off on the wrong foot.
Jim Thome = Hall of Fame?
Murray, Yes, I think he's in.
Jerry, I'm curious how good Jon Lester can be? Top 5 pitcher in the next few years?
Chris, Boy, when you look at Greinke, Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, Verlander, Cain, Ubaldo Jimenez, Yovani Gallardo, Kershaw and some of the other young starters out there, the standards for "top 5" are pretty high. But Lester is right in the mix.
Two questions about Bryce Harper. 1) Is he going to be eligible for the 2010 draft and 2) Is he really as good as everyone says he is?
Michael: 1) That was the plan when he enrolled at Southern Nevada, so I assume so; 2) from everything I hear, yes.
What kind of chance do you give the Twins at catching Detroit? They're 4 games back and still have 7 games left against the Tigers...
Josh, I think the Tigers are going to hang on, but the Twins caught them in 2006 right? So let's say Minnesota's chances are "slim"?
Jerry - Lets get an updated photo... Without the stache!!!
Mike, I know my buddy Jim Callis wants me to dump the 'stache, but I've had it for so long, it would be tough to part with. I've tried to update the look with a little chin scruff, but it's a little too gray. Do they have "Just for Men" for beards?
I've been a Cleveland fan since about 1988 and even with all the bad teams, I'm not sure morale has ever been as low as it has been right now in Cleveland for the Indians. What are you thinking for 2010? Any hope for some morale boosting?
Chris, The Indians do have some nice pieces. Grady Sizemore will be healthy next year, and Cabrera and Choo certainly took steps forward. They also have Carlos Santana, Nick Weglarz and Lonnie Chisenhall in the minors. The question is whether Mark Shapiro can put together a competitive pitching staff. They need Masterson, Carrasco and some of the kids they got in trades to assert themselves. One positive note: The AL Central is going to be wide open.
Thanks for the emails, everybody. Have a great weekend. Jayson Stark is up next.