A lot of people didn't like the Wild Card when it was instituted, but I think the Wild Card has really helped baseball down the stretch each year. Without the Wild Card, we'd only have one race right now. I think the Wild Card is a great concept and in fact, I think we should expand the playoffs, if baseball is willing to shorten the season. All of the other leagues have expanded playoff formats and I think we should do the same.
But only if the season is shortened.
With the Yankees sweeping the Sox last weekend, do you see the Yankees as the clear cut favorite to win the World Series?
Three weeks ago, I saw them as a clear cut favorite, but I don't see them as a clear cut favorite anymore, just a favorite. But you still have to wonder about their starting pitching after CC Sabathia. Pettitte had a tired shoulder and has struggled the last couple of years down the stretch. You don't know what you're going to get from Burnett. Joba hasn't proven that he could be a postseason star yet, he hasn't even proven that he can be a regular season star. But that said, I think they are still the favorite.
Can the Braves out Rockie the Rockies?
Until the Rockies did that, I didn't think it was possible for a team to win 19 out of 20 down the stretch or any fabulous number like that. Since the Rockies did that, we know it's possible and the Braves are starting to look like the Rockies of that year. I still think the Rockies will win, because their last series is in LA against the Dodgers and they won't be playing all of their regular or pitching their top starters. As good as the Braves are playing I still believe the Rockies will win. The real problem is the Braves have no margin for error. If they lose one or two games, there will be almost no chance for them to catch the Rockies.
Which of these bad NL teams is most likely to be relevant in 2010: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Washington, or San Diego?
Cincinnati. They have shown stretches this year of being a pretty good team. They need some more offense and I think some of the young players will be better. Before Votto got hurt, they were on a roll. They'll get Volquez back next year, hopefully. I just think they have a better chance than Washington, the Pirates are just disappointing. Washington has shown a little bit of life and San Diego played well against the top teams down the stretch. I'd say Cincinnati No. 1 and San Diego 1A.
My Blue Jays have a 24 run differential yet are 11 games below .500. What gives?
It just tells you that the run differential doesn't mean anything. It doesn't. It's just a number. If you beat a team 11-1 today and you lose 1-0 the next day, you're run differential is 9, but you're at .500. Run differential is not the way to grade a team. If you look back over the last 5-6 years, you will find that run differential doesn't tell you nearly as much as total pitching stats and total offensive stats, BA with runners in scoring position, etc. It just tells you when they're good, they're really good and when they're bad, they're really bad.
What would you do with Joba this post season if you were manager of the Yanks?
At this point, the only thing you can do is put him out there and hope he pitches well. The Yankees have done what they could. But once the postseason starts, Brian Cashman has said, he's just like any other starter. But for me, I'm not sure that he's been brought along the right way. If you look at Felix Hernandex in Seattle and compare the two in how they were handled from the minor leagues until today, Felix was given a chance to be a starter from the beginning and now he's a star. I don't know when Joba can become a star, because he's not allowed to stretch himself out. I don't know if you can just really protect a pitcher like the Yankees have tried to do.
Do the Giants have a legitimate chance to be playoff contenders next year? Can their farm system carry them 3-4 years into the future?
They were a contender this year until 5-6 games ago. The Giants offense is just not consistent enough to contend with the likes of the Rockies and the Braves even, and they don't have a good offense. I don't know how they're going to correct that. If they can correct that, then they'll be a contender. I expect Jonathan Sanchez to be one of the top pitchers in the league next year, along with Lincecum and Cain.
How do you feel things will stand at the end of the day in the AL Central?
Well, it's not a matter of how they stand at the end of the day today, I think you have to look at the end of the series. The Twins have to win 3 of 4. If they split this series, it will almost be over. It's not going to be easy for the Twins on the road to sweep the Tigers. The Twins, in their ballpark, would have an excellent chance to do so. I just don't see the Twins sweeping the Tigers, so I don't see them winning the division. It's even worse for them if they lose the first game, or lose tomorrow. The Tigers have to win one of the first two games to keep the pressure off themselves. The Twins will face Verlander in the second game. In fact, because they're playing a doubleheader today and in the history of baseball 80% of all doubleheaders have been split.
Simple question, Joe. Who gets your vote for AL MVP and why?
That is a very difficult question for me and I think we have to wait. If Joe Mauer has a big series against Detroit, then I would have to give him my vote. If he doesn't have a big series, then you have to start thinking about players like Mark Teixiera, Derek Jeter and my darkhorse guy that I give my props to is Kendry Morales in Anaheim. When Guerrero and Hunter were out, he provided the pop until they were back.
The O's have had a lot of young guys get their feet wet this year, particularly the young starters and Matt Wieters, who is really coming on. Any chance they can sniff .500 next year?
I think they will improve, because it was a big deal for the Orioles to play a lot of young players this year and let them know what the major leagues is all about. I think they will be better next year. Unfortunately, they're just in a tough division. When you're in there with the Yankees, Boston, Tampa, even Toronto, it's just a tough division. To say they'll be .500 is hard, but I do think they'll be better.
were the rays a one-year wonder? What's the most important off-season move they need to make?
I don't think they were a one-year wonder. They're in a division with the Yankees and Boston. What I said last year is that they better take advantage of what they were doing, because they might not even make the playoffs next year. It's very hard for younger players to sustain the run they made in the second half of last year. It's very hard for a team, after they played so hard to get to the World Series and jump start the team again at the beginning. They've played horribly down the stretch. I do expect them to bounce back next year, but they're still going to have to deal with the Yankees and Boston. One of the mistakes they made was dealing Edwin Jackson when they thought they had too many starters. And other guys didn't perform as well as they did last year.
The first thing they need to do is get their pitching in order and then they'll have a chance. At one point this season, they were the highest scoring team in the league.
Sabathia for Cy Young? He has more wins than Greinke.
I would vote for CC, but not so much for that reason. I would vote for him because when he came to the Yankees, he was under extreme pressure to do three things: 1) win games; 2) be the ace of the staff; 3) beat Boston. The only thing left to do is lead them in the playoffs, but the votes will be in before the playoffs. There have been a lot of guys that they brought to that staff to be the ace and haven't, guys like Randy Johnson. CC will have more innings pitched, Greinke may have better other numbers. But for me it's innings pitched and wins and losses. But you can not take away from what Greinke has done. I would not argue with anyone who votes for him.
I'm looking forward to next week when we'll all know who all of the postseason teams are and we can match them up at that time.