Hey folks, It's been an interesting first week in ball, to say the least. We don't want to make Joe West mad by dallying, so let's begin the chat.
Jerry, Thanks for writing that nice piece on Andrew McCutchen. I think with him and Milledge (hopefully meeting some of the expectations set for him) will make the Pirates an exciting team this year. I don't think fans are expecting 82 wins, but here's to hoping Alvarez, Jones, McCutchen and Milledge provide for some interesting ball this season.
Tim, It's cool that Pirates fans actually thank you for writing about their team's players. I've never had a Yankees or Red Sox fan do that. Andrew McCutchen is definitely the real thing, and I'm looking forward to seeing Pedro Alvarez this summer. The Pirates don't have enough talent around them to play .500. But hey, it's a start.
When will the White Sox add a real DH? Their lineup too weak to not get production from the easiest source
Aaron, When Ozzie Guillen talked about using Omar Vizquel as a DH on occasion, I figured this would come to a head eventually. Just not three games into the season. For what it's worth, Jermaine Dye is still out there.
Jerry, It looks like Mike Scioscia lost hope in Brandon Wood ability to hit at the Major league level by puttuing Maicer at 3 Base last night. Do you think Brandon has the potential to hit at the Major league level?
Mel, I think "lost hope" is a little strong. But Scioscia made it clear in spring training that he would try to find a way to get Maicer his share of ABs. If the Angels truly want to find out if Wood is for real, they're going to have to live with some streakiness and a lot of strikeouts. That 1-for-12 start with 5 K's was the worst case scenario for him. You just hope he doesn't lose confidence and start pressing right away.
The Giants are off to a hot start led by great outings by Lincecum, Zito and Cain not to mention surprising offense. Could the Giants end up stealing the NL West away from the Rockies and Dodgers?
Ray, If the Giants get any kind of offense, they're going to be competitive. But I still don't like that team's lack of speed and OBP ability. They just have too many slow, aging guys who can't draw a walk or take the extra base. Sorry, but I'm not a believer based on a series sweep of Houston.
Jerry, before the start of the season a tought the Angels had the Best rotation in baseball. After a couple of loses im not so sure. What do you think?
Richard, There's no way the Angels' rotation could be considered as good as Boston's, the Yankees' or Atlanta's, to name three. It's a solid rotation from 1 through 5, assuming Kazmir is healthy. But from the way Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden came out of the gate, I'm not even sure if the Angels have the best rotation in the AL West, much less baseball.
do you think the indians need to bench travis hafner?
Ian, When I was in spring training, Manny Acta said the team really expected Hafner to bounce back given that he's another year removed from his shoulder problems. He's making so much coin, there's no way they're going to bench him after three games. How reactionary can you get?
Do you see the power hitting continuing for the Twins? And is there any surprises that you see after the first series is complete.
Jay, There's no question they upgraded that lineup with the addition of Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy. I think Hardy is going to give them a huge lift at the bottom of the order. Any lineup with Mauer, Morneau, Kubel and Cuddyer in it is going to be formidable, and Delmon Young should have a better year now that he's dropped all that weight. Now, if only Jon Rauch can do a half-decent job replacing Joe Nathan ...
can the indians be a surprise team this year?(I don't think so but what do you think)
Ian, Justin Masterson really has good stuff, and if Fausto Carmona can pitch the way he did in spring training, there's some reason for optimism. But I don't see any way the Indians finish better than third in that division.
Did you hear that collective sigh of relief in Atlanta when Heyward his that first one? Should they be worried about Chipper's injury?
Clay, I was at the game, and it sounded a lot more like an explosion than a sigh. The Braves aren't worried about Heyward because he appears to be such a mature, selective hitter (although I'm sure he's going to go through a rough stretch or two). As for Chipper, yeah, they have to be concerned about him staying in the lineup. If they can get 135-140 games out of him, I imagine Bobby Cox would be thrilled.
Your mustache is fantastic! Why don't more players go with the straight up mustache. It was the saving grace of Giambi's season a couple years ago. But alas, it seems to be beard or goatee or nothing with most guys. It's time the stache experiences a comeback!
Luke, Thanks for the mustache love. I miss Jose Valentin -- best porn star mustache in recent memory.
Thoughts on the Baltimore Orioles this season??
Brandon, I like the lineup, and I picked Brian Matusz as my AL Rookie of the Year. But if Mike Gonzalez keeps pitching the way he did in that first series against Tampa Bay, they're going to be sweating out an awful lot of ninth innings. In that division, they're probably looking at 72-75 wins, tops.
Jerry, thanks for my taking my question. How dangerous can the A's be this season? BP had them winning the West, can they really win the AL West? thanks!
Tony, That division is such a jumble, there's probably a greater chance of a surprise than just about anywhere else. But I don't think the A's have enough offense to win it.
Why did the Brewers tender Corey Hart if they plan on playing Edmonds vs Right Handed pitching?
Jason, I think my colleague Keith Law recently asked the same question. But as mediocre as Corey Hart has been, I have a hard time thinking the Brewers expect to compete if they're counting on big production from a 40-year-old Jim Edmonds.
Jerry, what are your thoughts on the Reds Mike Leake? Are the Reds making a mistake by letting him start in the majors right away? Do you agree with the decision, and do you think that Leake can be successful from day 1? Thank you!
Chet, Ideally, you'd like a kid to log at least 10-12 starts in the minors before he makes his big league debut. But the Reds loved what they saw out of Leake in spring training. He's the nominal No. 5 guy, which helps temper the expectations a little. This will be a test case of Dusty Baker's ability (or lack thereof) in handling young pitchers. Let's hope the Reds don't set back Leake significanly by rushing him.
Ive been really impressed with Austin Jackson thus far. Not only his is offense looking, but also his defense. How would you critique his play three games in.
Sally, I caught snippets of the Tigers game yesterday, and Jackson is really impressive in center field. He seems very fluid and instinctive out there. If he can lay off the junk out of the zone and hit .260 or .270, they'd be thrilled. I talked to the kid in spring training, and he seemed very grounded and focused. He has a demeanor that should serve him well in handling the pressure in the big leagues.
It was far from perfect, but still a pretty good outing for Dontrelle Willis considering everything he has been through. I think he could be a major contributor this year. Im really happy for him.
Shawn, You're not alone. It's amazing how many baseball people you talk to who root for Willis because of his personality. He's great for the game. I don't think he's out of the woods, but an outing like yesterday's -- even against the Royals -- can only help his confidence.
Colvin hit his first dinger of his career lastnight on a screamer to right. It's going to be tough for him to get consistant AB's with Soriano, Byrd and The Fuke in the OF. Is there anything the Cubs can do to get him more at bats?
Steve, Lots of teams have a fourth outfielder who rotates around and finds a way to get 300-350 at-bats a season. If Colvin can help that team, Lou Piniella will find a way to get him in the lineup. Trust me.
Will the astros ever be a strong team again? We have 2 good prospects and thats it are we soon going to be the joke of the league like the rays were in the late 90's early 00's?
Josh,I think Baseball America rated their farm system as 30th best in the game. When you have an aging lineup and not much in the way of reinforcements, that's not exactly a recipe for success. But Bourn, Pence and Bud Norris give them a few reasons to hope.
Good afternoon Jerry.Is this the bounce back year every Jays fan has been waiting for from VW? 4 dingers already and it seems like his wrists are finally healed.
Mustard, I'm going to wait until June at least to buy into the early Vernon Wells euphoria. But in fairness to Wells, he's been dinged up a lot. So it's conceivable that a healthy Vernon can hit 25 bombs and knock in 90 runs. We'll see.
Although it may have been a little out of line, I'm glad Joe West said what he said... because someone had to say it!
Shane,At the Braves game this week, Bobby Cox said, "If you matched up Greg Maddux and Randy Jones and they were both on their game, they could complete two games in the time it takes Boston and New York to play one." Even baseball people laugh about the marathon-type games the Red Sox and Yankees play.
Joe West may be a bad messenger, but his message is 100% correct. Why doesn't MLB do more to move games along?
Noonan, Baseball has been hammering on the time of game theme for years, but since there's no clock, there's only so much you can do to force the pace. I think they should put a limit on catcher-pitcher mound visitations. But then, how would Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett ever make it through a game?
Jerry - How long before Papi finds himself on the pine for an extended period of time. He looks terrible at the plate.Thanks
Jimmy, Last year Ortiz had one HR in early June, I believe, and he finished with 28 HRS and 99 RBIs. I know he's on the Big Papi of old, but isn't three games a little quick to completely bury the guy?
Jerry, Charlie Morton gets his first start for the Bucs tonight. What are the chances that he breaks out this year and provides a #2-ish presence on the staff?
Josh, The Pirates people all say that Morton has the best pure stuff on the staff. He still has to overcome questions about his toughness and his focus before he's considered a front end of the rotation guy.
Do you think Joel Pineiro's transition to the AL will be a successful one, considering his style of pitching is more suited in the NL?
Jason, If he throws that sinker effectively, he should be just as successful in the AL as the NL. Some of his success will hinge on luck -- are those groundballs finding holes? And some will hinge on how Aybar, Kendrick and Wood/Izturis play behind him. But the guy has definitely figured out a formula that works for him.
Please Jerry, I've tried a dozen different ways, could you give us your thoughts on Nate Robertson pitching for FLA. Thank you.
Nate, He should be a reasonably effective No. 4 or 5 guy. Pitching in that park, and going to the NL, can only help him. But the Marlins will go as far as Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco take them at the top of the rotation.
Jerry, How are you? I was wondering your take on the Joba is in the bullpen this year but a "starter in our eyes" story Yankees management is still giving.
Erick, They can say whatever they want, but I think the guy is definitely a reliever. His stuff and his temperament are better suited to coming out of the pen and pitching in short burst. I suspect that's going to be his long-term career path.
I think the slow Red Sox play all started with ESPN's very own Garciaparra........always adjusting the batting gloves between each pitch.
Bawb, Maybe Nomar watched Mike Hargrove a lot when he was a kid.
Joe West should worry about his own problems, i.e his failure to call a strike a strike
George, You're not the first person who's mentioned that. I watch a ton of games on TV, and I'm amazed at how many pitches look like strikes but are called balls.
Good afternoon Jerry- How long is Travis Snider's leash to begin the season? So far he still looks like he isn't quite ready for MLB pitching, but he proved last season he will wear out AAA pitchers. What gives?
Ryan, I think his leash is pretty long. Just as Adam Lind broke out last year, the Jays expect Snider to take a significant step forward this season.
Jerry - John Smoltz said the other day that he felt Boston's top 3 of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey were better than Maddux, Glavine, and himself in Atlanta's prime. This is ridiculous, right?
Chris, If Smoltz actually said that, I have to think he was just being modest.
How about that pitching performance from CJ Wilson yesterday? I know, I know, it was only one start, but do you think he'll stick in the rotation for the Rangers all year?
Chet, He was very impressive in spring training, too. Wilson is a very cerebral guy, and maybe he's well-suited for starting. It's hard to tell with guys until you've given them a shot, but so far he's taken the opportunity and run with it.
The question is not whether Lou can get the most out of Colvin, but whether he can get the most out of Soriano, Byrd, and Fukudome with their playing time cut. Soriano and Fukudome are streaky players and you have to get at bats to get in that kind of groove, right?
Dale, Well, Fukudome sure has proven he's streaky. He's good in April and May, and then he can't hit in June, July, August and September. I don't think Piniella cares about hurting feelings or keeping guys in a "groove." He's going to play whoever he thinks can help the Cubs win on a given day.
What has changed about the White Sox? The Bullpen can"t hold a lead, no one can drive in a run in scoring position, and the defense is still crappy at best?
D.J., Geez, there's nothing like losing two of three games to Cleveland to kill the Opening Day euphoria.
Why do most writers complain about Yankees spending and givethe small markets a free pass to suck up the $400 million revenuesharing and keep making yearly profits? This is a real fraud. Whydoesn't Selig insist that they have no profits as long as they receive revenue sharing. Have strict audits to prevent funny games with the money.
Max, Is that name a psudonym for "Randy Levine." I understand why some teams are frustrated by the revenue disparity, but the Yankees have reason to be upset when small market clubs just pocket the cash rather than spend it on players. I think the union's agreement with the Marlins over the winter will help things on that front.
What do you think of the Cardinals' rotation? Penny looked good yesterday, and I have hope that Lohse will be better than last year, when he was injured. Garcia is a bit of a wild card.
Nora, If Brad Penny has a decent year, that rotation should be plenty good enough to win the NL Central. I would be a lot more concerned with the bullpen. It's hard to see Ryan Franklin approaching his performance of last season, and the young guys, like Jason Motte, have yet to step forward and consistently assert themselves this spring.
Does being in a small market mean you have to give 4 years 42 million to Jeff Suppan? It doesn't matter how much you spend with front office management like that.
Jason, You make a good point -- that small market teams can blow money on bad contracts as readily as big market clubs. They just don't have the luxury of outspending their mistakes.
Thanks for the questions, everybody. It was fun. Jayson Stark is up next. Talk to you next week.