We're getting Joe right now!
You have to really tip your hat to the Boston Red Sox. When the Yankees swept them in New York, it appeared they were going to struggle the rest of the season. They have bounced back and played great baseball. The same for the Minnesota Twins. They appeared to be out of the race and they have quickly jumped back in. Those are the only two real races that are left. That's why the Wild Card is very good for baseball.
Joe, is there a situation out there, a clubhouse, a manager, where Milton Bradley might succeed? His attitude seems to have cost him in Cleveland, San Diego, LA and now Chicago. He is a talented guy, but the Cubs are his 7th organization in 9 seasons. What is it going to take for him to be successful?
Well, what it really tells me that Ron Washington is a better manager than I thought he was. That was the only place in the last few years where he didn't have any major incidents. I don't understand it. I don't know Milton that well to be able to guage his personality. But just from what I see in the newspaper and what I hear on TV, I don't know where he would fit in well, other than Texas. His statement of "I need..." rather than "the team needs..." I don't really understand. And his statement about the team not winning in 100 years, no one has been there for 100 years, so he's condeming people he doesn't even know. He's definitely having a problem of finding a place where he fits in. With the salary, I don't know where he lands. The Cubs are stuck, but they are also stuck with some other high priced talent that didn't come through this year.
Hi Joe, what do you think about the Astros' decision to fire Cecil Cooper with only 13 games left in the season? Does a change in managers during the season have much of an effect on the players?
Well, it's not going to have an effect with 13 games left. The Brewers did the same thing last year when they fired Ned Yost with the season winding down. I don't think it made a difference and I don't think this will make a difference with the 13 games left. I guess I'm surprised that it didn't wait until the end of the season. But they just lost 7 games in a row on the road and that was it. It's not going to change where the Astros finish in the standings. There's too little time left for anyone to make an imprint on the team.
Hi Joe, From the current playoff contenders which team do you think is the best well rounded?
I think St. Louis in the National League. They have excellent starting pitching. Good relief pitching. Until recently Ryan Franklin was great as a closer and I think he can be again in the playoffs. In the American League, I've been believing in the Yankees for the last month. But you have to wonder about their starting pitching. Sabathia will get the job done, but you have to wonder about Burnett. Pettitte has the shoulder problems and Joba is a star in the Yankees' minds and no where else. But I guess all the good teams have some weaknesses. Philly doesn't have a closer. Anaheim is just now getting their pitching in order, but you have to wonder about their power. Boston, their starting pitching, Lester and then Beckett, but he's been struggling until recently.
Hello, Mr. Morgan. Do you think the Twins will play consistent enough down the final stretch to catch the Tigers or will Detroit play more consistent baseball? I think a tiebreaker game would be pretty exciting and good for baseball. Thanks.
Well, if you're in Detroit, it won't be exciting and won't think it's good for the game. But I do not think the Twins will catch the Tigers. They're close. They're going to play the Tigers in 4 games. Whenever you're playing the team you're trying to catch, you have to sweep. The Twins won the first two games and the Tigers won the last. So, they only gained one game. When they play the four games in Detroit, if the Twins don't sweep and Detroit wins two, that will be four more games off the schedule and they won't have gained any ground.
When you're on a team that's basically our of it at the beginning of September, is hard not to start looking ahead to the offseason, or is there other things to play for? Thanks!
There's always something to play for and that's called professional pride. Pride in your performance. Pride in that you're representing that team and yourself. There's always something to play for, but it is tough. I don't buy that spoiler role. If you're going to be spoilers, you should have done that all year and play for your team. All of a sudden you're going to spoil someone else's season, your goal should have been to play well all year.
Joe, thanks for chatting on a consistent basis. Now that you have seen Wainwright pitch, who are your top three Cy contenders in the NL, and in what order?
Well, there are three contenders - Carpenter, Wainwright and Lincecum. If I were voting today, I would vote for Wainwright. But everyone has two more starts. If Wainwright wins 20 games, wins his next two starts and pitches well, I would vote for him. Wainwright has more innings, but Lincecum has the strikeouts.
Happy (belated) Birthday Joe! Do you think that the Cubs are going to try (and do you think it would be a good idea) to move Soriano to second base next year, and try to give some more regular playing time to guys like Jake Fox and Sam Fuld? If the Cubs don't trade Fox to an AL team, they gotta give him a place to play, because he can hit.
I don't think there's any doubt that Fox can be a good hitter, but you have to find him a position. And as far as Soriano moving to second base, I don't think he can do that now. He wasn't a very good second baseman before and now having played in the outfield, I don't think he can play there every day now. Like I said before, the Cubs have paid a lot of money and not gotten a lot in return. They're paying Fukudome a lot to be a fourth outfielder. Even though Zambrano hasn't won as many games as the past, he hasn't pitched that bad. The team ERA is pretty close to where it was last year. The offense just hasn't done well with runners in scoring position. If they're going to improve, it has to be on the offensive side.
Joe, people are talking about htis is the "golden age" of center fielders, but isn't it really the golden age of first basemen? Pujols, Fielder, Howard, Gonzalez, Texeira, Morneau, Youkilis, and the list goes on. Obviously 1B is a hitters position but I don't remember a time where first basemen dominated this much, especially compared to the relative lack of hitting in the OF positions. What do you think?
I agree with you 100%. There are far more good hitting first basemen than there have been for a long time. And they are productive, not just good hitters, they produce runs for your team. I also think second basemen have been good too. Aaron Hill, Ugla, Utley, Cano, Pedroia, I think it's the golden age for the right side of the infield. Those second basemen have performed well, as well as some others. That said, from a defensive standpoint, I don't think all of them are great second basemen. Pedroia won the Gold Glove last year and Robinson Cano is great at turning the double play, but most of them need to improve their defense.
Do you think a speedy player should lead off the batting order or a player that gets on base a lot but isn't that fast? Thanks.
I would rather have a speedy player. I'll give you a great example. Wade Boggs hit lead off most of his career, had 200 hits a lot, high batting average, high OBP, but couldn't run. His OBP was higher than Rickey Henderson's but who would you rather have leading off? That should answer your question. A guy that can run sets the table, sets the tone, puts pressure on the other team right away. A guy who gets on base and can't run isn't as valuable as one who can.
Would the Phils rather play the Dodgers or Rockies? Give me the Dodgers and their beat up pitching staff.
Well, that's logical, but I would say that you have to look at the Dodgers, who were in the playoffs last year. They learned a lot against the Phillies. The Rockies were not in the playoffs last year. A lot of their guys haven't pitched in the playoffs and we don't know how they will respond to the pressure. As a player, I didn't care who we played in the playoffs, because if you're hoping for one team and you could end up not playing them. But when talking about the playoffs, any team can get hot and win. I don't think Detroit or Minnesota will win the AL pennant. If I had to choose right now, I would say that the Cardinals will win the NL, because I think they're the best all-around team in the NL. And until the last four days, I would have picked the Yankees in the AL. But right now I don't have anyone that I can say will sweep through the AL.
What went wrong for the Rays this year?
What went wrong is that they had a group of young guys that performed well under pressure last year, played great down the stretch, put a lot of energy into making it to the World Series. Then I think they thought their starting pitchign was better than it was. They traded Edwin Jackson and Sonnanstine went to the minors. I think they were a group of young players who had trouble starting at zero after the success of last year. That's the thing, when you start the next season, you're back to 0-0 like the other teams. That's hard for young players to keep the same intensity from beginning to end. They got off to a slow start, but they were never able to keep up with the Yankees and REd Sox.
Do you think the Cardinals have the best 1-2 punch to make the World Series?
It's not just their 1-2 punch. Skip Schumacher is hitting over .300. Mark DeRosa is a good player. Molina is a good player. Ryan too. They have a lot of good players other than Holliday and Pujols. They're just a very versatile team. It's not just Albert Pjuols and Matt Holliday. Even their starting pitching isn't just Carpenter and Wainwright. Pineiro has done well. Their bullpen has done well.
Their Achilles Heel as a team has been left handed pitching. Pujols, Holliday, Ludwick, DeRosa have hit it well, but the others have struggled.
I think it's going to be a good final race between the Twins and the Tigers, because the Tigers have to play the White Sox as well as the Twins down the stretch. We'll just see what happens. I still think the Tigers will win because Verlander, Jackson and Porcello will step up and win some big games.
Thanks for chatting Joe!