Peter Gammons will be here at the top of the hour to take your questions!
I would just like to say that it's really pleased me that ESPNBoston has done as well as it has the first couple of weeks. While on the one hand, I'm sorry that there haven't been more races, on the other, it's been exciting about the baseball and I won't soon forget Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer.
Peter, if you were managing the Red Sox who would be your Game 1 starter in the playoffs, Lester or Beckett?
Fortunately, Terry Francona is managing the Red Sox and not me. It is going to be Jon Lester.
Do the Phils have a shot to repeat even with the issues with Lidge?
One thing about the NL playoffs is that the Cardinals, Phillies and Rockies all have some sort of bullpen issue. What will be interesting is to see what Charlie Manuel does and whether or not he puts J.A. Happ in the closer role, much like Tony LaRussa put Adam Wainwright as the Cards closer role in 2006 and they won the World Series. Manuel is hinting that he may give Happ a shot at the role. And the fact that he has the lowest oppenent's average with runners in scoring position of any pitcher in baseball is an indicator that perhaps he would work. If he does, with the Phillies starting pitching and lineup, they have a very good shot at repeating.
Do you think Buchholz will ever be a No. 1?
There's a very good chance it could happen. Last night, he was at 95 which is remarkable when one considers that his fastball is his third best pitch. Jim Palmer has said that there's no other pitcher in the AL with four well above average pitches like Buchholz.
What are the chances that Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine come back to the Braves as a pitching coach, possibly even manager?
I doubt either one would come back as a pitching coach. I think Glavine will either end up a very successful businessman or an elite broadcaster, while Maddux will end up an advisor but not a pitching coach. My guess is that Maddux will stay on the West Coast.
Mr. Gammons: Too little, too late for the Braves? They may have the best rotation one through five in the Majors.
It probably is too late, but one thing about the Braves' season has been that they have done a very good job of building a rotation for the long run. The fact that Tommy Hanson came up and gave promise of being a No. 1 starter and Tim Hudson came back and GM Frank Wren brought in Javier Vasquez means that they should have the best starting pitching in the division next year.
Pete, have the Yankees messed up Joba's psyche for the long term? It seems like he doesn't even know what he is anymore - SP or RP. He has lost 5 MPH off his fastball, he isn't challenging hitters and has lost all his confidence. At this point I'm not even sure he can be of any help to the Yankees out of the bullpen in October. So I ask you this wise Hall of Famer - what happens to him now??
I don't know whether it's the Yankee plan or Joba himself, but you're right, he's not the same. He has two opportunities between tonight's start against the Red Sox and his final start next week to show that he can pitch six innings and deserves the fourth starter role in the ALCS ahead of Chad Gaudin. I do think the Yankees are very closely watching him.
Because of the economy. The plan was four years ago for them to gradually ascend to a payroll of between $110 million and $120 million. But the economy and revenues changed that and they're already moving back south of $80 million, which is why they were so happy to be able to dump the contract of Alex Rios.
In reality, Toronto is at best a mid-market franchise.
If A.J. Burnett can straighten himself out, do you feel that he can be the deciding for the yankees as to whether or not they win it all?
I think he is a very important piece. And the fact that in his last start, he had his highest swing and miss rate on his fastball is a good indicator heading into the postseason.
Which team do you think is stronger heading into the postseason yankees or boston.. and what is the difference maker between the two?
I think the Yankees remain the favorites because the lineup is a little deeper and having Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera to pitch the last two innings. That said, I also believe the Red Sox bullpen is deeper. It will all come down to what each team gets from its starting pitchers. That is, if they end up playing one another.
What do you think will be a futuer hot-button topic that currently isn't being discussed much? For example, 10 years ago, not too many people were talking about OBP or steriods.
I think the hottest topic over the next four years will be how small market teams can compete with the big market teams in acquiring high school, college and international talent to develop. I've had several GMs say that the divide between big and small markets began to increase again when Theo Epstein took over the Red Sox and began investing heavily in scouting and developing. The Yankees and the Angels followed suit and we've seen those three teams have almost become automatics in the postseason.
When do the Yankees have to decide which format they'd prefer in the first round of the playoffs?
Next weekend. And I don't know which way they are going to go.
One could argue either way, but I think they may want the extra day.
True or false: 20-30 years from now baseball followers are going to look back over the last 7 or 8 years and wonder why Pujols didn't win the MVP every season?
That's a very good question. It may all have to do with playing in the middle of the country. But I have a bigger question and that is, how can Mariano Rivera be the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the sport and still has never won a single award?
Are the Red Sox still gunning for the Division title? Or do you think they have pretty much settled for the wild card spot?
They know the chances of winning the division are slight and are just focusing on maintaining the level at which they've played the last three weeks, while lining up their pitching for the playoffs. This is a very strange weekend in that the Yankees can clinch the division and the Red Sox can clinch the wild card, while playing one another.
What is your prediction matchups for the NCLS and ALCS games?
I think that the team is in the most interesting position in the final 10 days is Los Angeles. Chad Billingsley threw the best he has in a month Wednesday night and Kershaw comes back on Sunday. The Dodgers are the only team in the NL playoffs whose bullpen is certain, so they may be in a much better position than they looked a month ago. A Dodger matchup with either Philadelphia or St. Louis in the first round will be an absolute toss up and I think either the Phillies or the Cardinals can beat the Rockies, even as well as the Rockies have played under Jim Tracy.
What grade would you give the Rangers for the year?
I would give them a B , because they improved their pitching, defense and self-esteem. They have some serious questions for next year, pertaining to what to expect from Josh Hamilton and Kevin Millwood, but they have turned that franchise around and with all of their young players can contend for a while.
That division is better that many realize. If you haven't noticed, Oakland is in last place in the West and would be in third in the Central and the A's have a better run differential than the Tigers.
Ubaldo Jimenez, best STUFF in baseball?...what do you think his potential is?
I wouldn't go so far as to say he has the best stuff in baseball. But his emergence as a No. 1 starter should keep the Rockies contending for the next 4 or 5 years. Jeff Francis is coming back to a very nice role behind Jimenez.
What do you think the Red Sox will do with Jason Varitek next year? His hitting is clearly not there anymore but his leadership is constantly felt in the clubhouse. Is Victor Martinez going to be a full time catcher next year?
If Varitek exercises his $3 million option, my guess is that Martinez will catch from 90-100 games as well as play first base and be in the DH role. The Red Sox have some promising catchers in their organization, but my guess is that Terry Francona would prefer Varitek over a rookie for at least half of the 2010 season. However, the front office knows that Varitek's .121 batting average the last two months is scary.
I think the thing I look forward to most this season is Kershaw coming back and pitching on Sunday.
Thanks Peter! Next up is Amy Nelson!
Hellooooo everyone, impossible to follow Mr. Gammons, but I'll try. A warning: I'm on 1.5 hrs of sleep so who knows what will happen so fire away at me...
Hi Amy. How is Jed Lowrie going to fit into the Red Sox plans in the next few weeks?
Hello Rob,Unsure at this point, but I would be surprised to see him only because it's clear they do not want him really taking any swings from the left side, and he's really only being used as defensive replacement. Lowrie told me the other day everything with his recovery is fine, except swinging from the left.
Amy, what do you think will happn with Delcarmen come playoff time?
should tito be worried about the relievers... such as delcarmen and ramirez?
Two questions which are similar, so here's what I know and what I think: there really is no solution for the Red Sox and Delcarmen, other than to keep throwing him out there. He keeps flying open with his delivery, and i talked to him in baltimore about it and he said he's never experienced something like this before: a mechanical problem that seems to affect him sporadically. Some pitches he's fine, others, not so much. It's a concern, but look to see a lot of him this week at Fenway. He's an important piece of that pen ...
In early May and April, David Ortiz was struggling with the bat. Could you have ever imagined that he would have 25 home runs at this point in the season, and how many did you expect him to get by the end of the year?
JoeNo, absolutely not, I was someone who thought we were perhaps seeing the last of him. And I would say he might make 30 .. I just wrote a story about him, his return to the Bronx and his resurgence that ran today ... http://bit.ly/HUr8g
Hi Amy, nice job covering the Sox so far. Anyway what will the Sox do with Varitek during the playoffs? They obviously know their best line up has MArtinez catching, Youkilis at 1st and Lowell at 3rd. Will they sit down the Capitain when Beckett and/or MAtsuzaka pitches or do you think the player rotation will continue?
J.J.,Thanks much. The team certainly hasn't announced anything yet, but the writing is on the wall. They didn't just throw in Martinez to catch Beckett the other day as a late-season experiment. With Varitek hitting .156 since the All-Star break, they clearly know offensively they are much better with Martinez catching. I'm sure he will catch Beckett again on Monday and would be surprised at this point if Vartitek is the starting catcher for most if not all of the playoff games...This upcoming week will tell us a lot about the team's thoughts on postseason
1.5 hours of sleep? What keeps such a GL lady up so late?
Mike,Covered the game last night in KC, got to hotel around 1:15, fell asleep at 3:30, woke at 4:15 ... some sleep on the plane. SO MUCH respect for the baseball beat writers who do this every year.
Amy I'm gonna let ya finish but I gotta say that Peter Gammons has the greatest chats of all time
I hope he brings me out on stage later and reminds me that I'm still young and have talent
Amy, any chance we see some fireworks tonight? NY has hit 10 Boston batters and we have yet to see any retaliation.
Great question ... Red Sox players were, um, very upset last series in NY...one player told me he expected retaliation and it never came, in large part because of how the series went. Not sure, there's a lot still these teams need to accomplish, but I can tell you this: Red Sox are relishing chance to celebrate at Yankee Stadium and they will tear that place apart, if they do it on Sat, wonder if we'll see any repercussions in Sunday's game?
Braves wild card or not?
We were debating this in the press box the other night. Take a look at the Braves sked down the stretch and then look at the Rockies' ... can't count the Braves out, and how cool would that be? This year has been so boring with the non-races...
is there any chance the giants will make the playoffs?
much to my disappoinment, no. i picked them to win division as sort of my out there pick, thinking their pitching could maybe help them sneak up on dodgers. that ain't happening, and at 4 games back of wild card I just don't see it.
if the redsox and yankees were to make it to the alcs and the yanks have home field advantage how do you think that series will play out?
Mendy,Tough call, I think the Yankees, in some ways, are the toughest team to call at this point. They have strong back of bullpen, their offense is silly, especially in that park, but it comes down to their starters. Not just CC, and AJ, but what about Pettitte? Is he healthy, and if two of those three guys falter, I think the Red Sox and their pitching could completely take the series. I think many ppl think that's where we're heading...
You thoughts on the future of the Red Sox closer role? With Bard waiting in the wings, and Pap to be a FA after next season, what do the sox do? Any chance they move one back into a starter role as they have had experience there in the past
From what I hear, part of the reason for Papelbon's response to Wagner's pending arrival was an impending feeling like maybe the walls are closing in on him a little bit. He knows Bard is the likely heir, I think he thinks the Red Sox may try and move him this winter, and I think that's a possibility.
Did Greinke's start the other night against the Sox open up some eyes on the east coast about how good he really is? There seemed to be some discussion that his numbers weren't legit becuase he had not faced the Sox or Yanks (remember he doesn't get to face the Royals either).
Greg,Not sure anyone needs their eyes opened on the kid. I think he's going to win the Cy, and pretty handily. And don't hate on the Royals, they've been a very good offensive team over the last few months...
Amy do you feel the red sox will beat the angels in the playoffs? what grade would you give the red sox this year? Thanks.
Lee,I'm sorry but after covering that series last week, you cannot tell me the Red Sox are not in the Angels' heads. They were complaining about trivial things throughout the week and Torii Hunter basically called out his teammates and said so: that they play differently, maybe even scared, when it comes to Boston. Don't like to give grades (I went to a college without any -- score for me) and it's not end of season yet.
With that, I've got to go. Sorry to cut it short but I've got to get on the train and get to Yankee Stadium. Thanks everyone for writing in and letting me ride off Peter's coattails. Don't forget to check us out on ESPNBoston.com and I'm on twitter @amyknelson