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April 30, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:02 PM)

Sorry to report I can only chat for a half-hour today. Have to head for the studio to talk about the Ryan Howard deal, with Keith Law, on Outside the Lines. So let's get started.

gee (san diego)

hey jayson, where do you see the padres finishing up this year? and with their young talent, do you see them making adrian the center piece of a perenial contender the next 5 seasons?

Jayson Stark
  (1:04 PM)

The Padres are kind of like the National League's version of the A's. They play with tremendous confidence. It's clear now they're going to pitch well enough to hang in there. The question is whether they'll hit enough and stay healthy enough. I think they're a .500-ish kind of team and probably not much more. But they keep proving lots of us wrong. On the Adrian Gonzalez front, it's almost impossible to see a scenario where they can ever afford a guy who will make $22M-$25M a year. So enjoy him while you can.

Andy (Tampa)

Jayson, I think everyone knew the Cardinals were the team to beat in the NL Central. But they look like they might win the division by 10-12 games. Do you see anyone pushing them come September?

Jayson Stark
  (1:05 PM)

Unless they have a major injury, I don't see where any other team has an upside to match that team. So I'm with you on this one.

Matt (DC)

Do you think Robinson Cano can keep this power and consistency up this season?

Jayson Stark
  (1:07 PM)

I'm all in. The only thing keeping Robinson Cano from having this kind of year in the past was that he didn't seem to grasp the kind of day-to-day commitment you need in baseball to get the most out of your talent. I get the sense he's turned that corner now. And if he has, he's as talented as any middle infielder alive.

aaron (NEW YORK)

I assume Jake Peavy will rebound, but by how much? Is he just an average pitcher who looked great in the weakest division of the weaker league in the a huge ballpark for 5 years?

Jayson Stark
  (1:08 PM)

Seems as if I answer this question every week. I still see a guy with excellent stuff who just hasn't commanded it at all so far. He was so good when he came back at the end of last year, it's way too simplistic to just blame changing leagues and ballparks.

Rob (Alexandria, VA)

Speaking of the Ryan Howard deal, is there a legitimate case to be made that if you win the World Series, that any obscene contract is somewhat justified? For teams like the Phillies, if Howard can win them another WS within the first two or three years of that deal, does that make the last years of that deal, even if he is in sharp decline worth it from a financial standpoint?

Jayson Stark
  (1:11 PM)

That's part of the Phillies' rationale. There's no doubt about it. I was one of the people who thought they'd never pay this kind of money or give him enough years to keep Ryan Howard. And if so, their window to win was only going to be another year or two, depending on what happens with Jayson Werth. What they're doing with this contract is trying to keep what they view as a special group together for as long as possible to give them a chance to win another World Series. So when people say this contract is incredibly risky, I totally agree. But they understand the risks as well as all the people who try to explain it to them. Obviously, they were willing to take that risk.

Brian (Chicago)

Any updates on Mike Gonzalez's injury or when he's expected to return?

Jayson Stark
  (1:12 PM)

It's a strange injury. The MRI didn't show any significant damage. But he never seemed right, and never threw with his old velocity, from Day One of spring training. So the prognosis is uncertain, from what I've heard.

Mike (Baltimore, MD)

What is the expectations for Ike Davis' future? What is his ceiling? And does his success so far, with Beltran coming back in June or July, mean the Mets can win the division?

Jayson Stark
  (1:15 PM)

It's really fun watching Ike Davis. What a great swing. I'm with the people who think he'll be more like Mark Grace and John Olerud than, say, a Mark Teixeira type. But there's no reason he can't hit 20 homers and hit for a high average for a long time. I'm still having a hard time finding people in the game who think the Mets are going to have enough pitching to win the division. But they've sure pitched great for the last week and a half.

Jeff (Toronto)

Do you think the Rays riding their starters so hard early this year is a product of research by the front office or just an organizational desperation to win now?

Jayson Stark
  (1:17 PM)

I think it's neither. I think, for one thing, that they went into the season believing that every one of those pitchers had been groomed to throw 200 innings. And the other part is, they're obviously trying to keep their bullpen out of the game as much as they can, because it's the weak link in their team. This is the one area to watch closely for the Rays -- how their starting pitching holds up and enables them to cover up bullpen issues -- because they've got every other ingredient they need to win the World Series.

John (New Jersey)

The Yankees have one of the best rosters in the Major Leagues. They have a great 1,2,3 punch with C.C, A.J. and Andy Pettitte (when A.J. pitches like he used to) but a questionable outfield and an amazing infield with potential behind the dish. With Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford becoming free agents next year, do you think they'll sign them? And what about any other players?

Jayson Stark
  (1:18 PM)

I think those two rank No. 1 on the Yankees' shopping list for pitcher and position player, respectively. There's a big dropoff in the starting-pitcher market after Lee. But I get the sense they love Jayson Werth, too, in case they can't reel in Crawford and Werth gets to free agency.

Eamon (DC)

Given A-Gonz's cost via trade, would Boston be better off looking at acquiring a Dunn/Willingham/Berkman type in the short term and trying again for Gonzalez in the off-season when he'd (likely) be cheaper?

Jayson Stark
  (1:20 PM)

First thing here is, if the Padres hang in this race, they won't trade Gonzalez. So this whole discussion could be moot. Also, Berkman has a full no-trade that he won't waive, so he's out. OK, now that that's out of the way, they're just going to have to assess where they are and what their options are in a couple of months. Too many questions and too many moving parts at 1B/3B/DH/C to sort these types of issues out right now.

Ryan (Toronto)

Hey Jayson,What do you think the ceiling is for Joey Votto?

Jayson Stark
  (1:21 PM)

I think Joey Votto is on his way to stardom. He hits for average and power. He has great feel for the strike zone. He's a preparation freak. He's the whole package. Just a matter of how healthy he stays and how good the lineup is around him now.

CC (Atlanta )

You clearly appreciate longevity more than being an elite player for several years (hence your view that Vizquel is a sure fire HOFer). So are Wakefield and Moyer legit candidates? Just like Omar, neither was ever elite or garnered much MVP/Cy Young votes but at least they hung around to pad their stats, right?

Jayson Stark
  (1:25 PM)

So just because I think Omar Vizquel is a Hall of Famer, I value longevity over being an elite player? Wow. You win the gold medal in conclusion-jumping. I think that when you vote for the Hall of Fame, you balance everything. And much as I admire what Wakefield and Moyer have done for the long haul, they're not Hall of Famers. Wakefield only had one season where he got Cy Young votes, Moyer just three. Omar Vizquel, on the other hand, was the greatest defensive shortstop of his time. Am I only supposed to value offense when I vote? I never got that memo.

James (Detroit)

Us Tigers fans are in love with what we see from Austin Jackson so far. What are other people in baseball outside of Detroit saying about the kid?

Jayson Stark
  (1:26 PM)

Outside of all the strikeouts, he's gotten great reviews. The big thing is, he's already looking like a more complete offensive package than the Yankees clearly thought he'd be. And he's so young. He's going to be a really good player for a long time.

Rodney (Philadelphia)

Hamels seem to be struggling alot early on in the season. He's making the same mistakes he was last year and he's getting hit just like he was last year. Is it his head or did the 2008 season blow his arm out?

Jayson Stark
  (1:28 PM)

Blow his arm out? There are only a handful of pitchers in the whole sport who have gotten a higher percentage of swings and misses than he has this year. He's gotten more than Ubaldo Jimenez, more than Felix Hernandez. So his stuff is still great. It's how he's used it that's been the problem. He's still fiddling with how to incorporate the cutter and curve ball. So get back to me in two months on this.

Dan (Chicago)

Jayson - Love your stuff! Can you please tell me why baseball does not give World Series home field advantage to the team with the better record? At least tell me what MLB gives as its reason? If the playoff rounds go to the teams with the better record, I don't understand why they can't do the same for the World Series.

Jayson Stark
  (1:30 PM)

I've heard Bud Selig say a million times it would be a "logistical nightmare" to have to figure out at the last minute where the World Series will start. But I disagree. The All Star Game only narrows the field down to half the sport. There are still eight or nine cities alive where they need to find hotel rooms and make plans. So if you add another eight or so, just add more people! They could get this done if they wanted to. But Bud loves that All Star Game gimmick. So it isn't changing.

Jayson Stark
  (1:30 PM)

OK, sorry about this, but I only have time for one more.

CC (Atlanta)

"Am I only supposed to value offense when I vote?" So I guess you won't be voting for Edgar Martinez? He was a one trick pony.

Jayson Stark
  (1:33 PM)

I do vote for Edgar Martinez. His position was DH. So defense is irrelevant. I appreciate all the Hall of Fame voting advice. I really do. But I promise you I take Hall of Fame voting as seriously as anybody with a ballot. I take weeks to look it over. I give every name on the ballot his due. I weigh everything. If I don't vote for your favorite player, or I vote for somebody you don't think is a Hall of Famer, I'm sorry about that. But it isn't because I just looked at the ballot and filled it out in 15 seconds. It's an honor to vote, and a responsibility. So I take it seriously. I promise!

Jayson Stark
  (1:33 PM)

Thanks to everybody who checked in -- even all you HOF second-guessers! See you next week in Chat Land.