Hey folks, This week's Starting 9 is on the site. I talked to Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven and Goose Gossage for their take on baseball's "unwritten rules." All I can say is, anybody who stood in the batter's box against the Goose has my admiration. He was one tough dude. Let's start the chat.
With the poor moves he has made over the past couple of seasons, is Braves GM Frank Wren on the hot seat?
James, I actually thought Frank Wren did a pretty good job of putting together a pitching staff, and I figured the Braves would contend for a postseason spot. They just haven't hit, and you have to wonder if Troy Glaus and some of those other guys are the answer. The Javier Vazquez trade hasn't worked out for either team at this point. I think it's a little unfair to rip him for the Nate McLouth deal. People in Pittsburgh were ready to riot after that trade went down.
I know that Clayton Kershaw is 22 & I am a big believer in his upside, but do you have any theories as to his continued struggles with command? The young man continues to walk far too many batters
Matt, Control is usually a matter of concentration and consistent mechanics, and sometimes it takes time to develop. Look at Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants: He has great stuff and he walks too many hitters as well. Kershaw should be fine, but it's tough to develop in the big leagues.
Is it too early to be worried about Aram? If he and Lee get going, the Cubs may actually have a pretty decent offense.
Matt, Ramirez has a track record, and this is what the Cubs hired Rudy Jaramillo for, right? I think he'll get straightened out eventually. The problem is, when Ramirez and D-Lee start hitting, Fukudome, Soto, Theriot and Marlon Byrd will all be slumping. That seems to be the way things work for the Cubbies.
Do the Phillies have to pay Ryan Madson's salary while he's on the DL after breaking his toe kicking a chair in anger?
Frank, As far as I know, baseball's collective bargaining agreement doesn't distinguish between on-field injuries and clubhouse injuries of the moronic variety. Unless I'm wrong, he gets paid.
Do you think Brandon Morrow worth picking up now or should i wait.
Bryan, Fantasy question? Brandon Morrow has been very good in his last three starts, and he's a strikeout machine. So I don't know what you're waiting for. He even pitched well against Tampa Bay. He's always had great stuff.
Hi Jerry, I know that Austin Jackson is off to a great start. But reading a lot lately about how the Yankees made a mistake with him. But, yeah, he's hitting about 350 right now, but also leading the league in K's, I think. When he puts the ball in play he is hitting over 500. This won't last. What kind of player do you think he truly projects to?
Craig, He's a very good defensive center fielder, and he'll develop power with time. Right now, if he can hit 10-12 homers and bat .270 to .280, I think the Tigers would be ecstatic. He's not going to sustain .350 very long. But he's a big leaguer, for sure.
Are you going to carry a Taser with you to the ballpark these days?
J, The people who work at Citizens Bank Park are extremely nice. They'd probably like to tase me when I go back for a second round of dessert in the media dining room, but they've refrained.
Is there anyway the San Francisco Giants send three pitchers to the All-Star Game this year? Also, do you know when was the last time a team sent three starting pitchers to the Mid-Summer Classic was?
Ray, Lincecum and Zito are off to tremendous starts, and Sanchez and Cain have pitched well enough to work their way into the picture. But it's going to be tough with Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez and so many other good starters in the NL this season. Right now the Cardinals have three or four candidates as well. As for your question, Boston's Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon and Tim Wakefield made the AL All-Star team last season.
So when does the countdown start on the Mariners releasing Milton Bradley? Before or after Memorial Day?
Alan, If Milton messes this up, he might be looking for a job in the Atlantic League. He's got a great manager, sympathetic fan base, relatively low-stress media environment, and a club filled with guys who are supportive. Even if he can't hit, nobody else on that team can hit, either. All he has to do is keep his mouth shut and try hard. So far that's been a challenge.
Vasquez and Montero for Kemp. Reasonable? Possible?
Jim, This is a real trade proposal, I take it? I can't see the Dodgers going for that one. Matt Kemp is one of their franchise faces. Javier Vazquez turns 34 and he's having a terrible season, and a lot of people think Montero is a DH. It doesn't work for LA.
Jerry, do you see anything stopping the Rays at this point? Their starters putting up some good innings, but do you think they'll be worn out by mid-season?
Shane, Boy, they have a great vibe around that team. I can see their starters wearing down a bit, but they've got Jeremy Hellickson ready in the minors in case that happens. Barring a rash of injuries or some other disaster, it's hard to see them not making the playoffs.
Papelbon wasn't a starter
Mickey, I thought he said three pitchers. If it's three starters, I'm not sure. Does anyone else know the answer to that one?
hey jerry - jack zdrunciek in seattle says hes trying to do something to pull the mariners together. Do you see any possibility that they sign Jermaine Dye to bolster the worst offense in the MLB?
Jimmy, When Dye was out there for the taking all winter, I heard the Mariners weren't very high on him. Now that he's been sitting around a few more months, I can't imagine they think he's the answer. Plus, his RH power (what might be left of it) probably doesn't play well in Safeco Field.
What should the Twins do with Wilson Ramos both this year and in the future?
Noah, To be honest, I have no idea. Just play the kid now and see how he does. Then when Mauer returns, they have to decide if he's better off playing once or twice a week in the big leagues or every day in Triple-A. A lot of teams don't have any good catchers, so he could also be a wonderful trade chip if Twins GM Bill Smith were so inclined. It's not a bad problem to have.
With Target Field that Opened on April 12,2010,which Major League Baseball Team will be the next to get a Brand New Stadium?
Chris, I believe that would be the Florida Marlins, who will be breaking in a new ballpark in April 2012.
Jerry, is it crazy for the Cardinals to offer Pujols an interest in the org.? Say 5% of the ownership? Has a deal like that ever been done? Would ownership and MLB allow such a deal?
Sam, It might not be crazy, but I can't see it happening. Then again, the money Albert will make on his next contract will probably be worth more than a 5 percent ownership stake.
Do you ever question the toughness of the players these days?
Nick, I don't. But when I talk to guys like Gossage and Blyleven, they sure seem upset with the way a lot of situations are handled by umpires. In the old days, teams used to have a lot more latitude to handle things on the field. Now everybody gets warned immediately, and the problems just resume at a later date.
Is Victor Martinez the worst defensive catcher in the majors? Is he a catcher going forward? The answer to that question would seemingly detemine his asking price this offseason when he is a FA.
Travis, It's hard to ignore that abysmal throwing percentage when he goes on the market. In a perfect world, your team is probably best off with Martinez playing 50 games at catcher and splitting the other 100 between first base and DH. He's great in the clubhouse and he can still hit, so he won't have trouble landing a decent deal.
Any Ernie Harwell memories you'd care to share with us, Jerry?
Tim, I don't have any specific memories. I just recall what a kind and generous man he was. It's amazing when you see guys like Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell or the late Harry Kalas, and they treat the elevator operators and security guards with the same respect as the $10 million-a-year-players. When you spend 5 minutes with Ernie Harwell, it's easy to see why everybody loved him so much.
Highly entertaining column today. Thanks. Whether he's slapping balls out of mitts, yelling at fielders or violating the pitcher's mound, A-Rod seems to be the most illiterate player when it comes to the unwritten rules of baseball. Shouldn't he be getting hit more often?
Thanks, Monroe. There's such a thing as "gamesmanship," but some of the things A-Rod does just seem so needless. They take away from what a great player he really is. The reputation tends to precede him, and people aren't going to cut him any slack even when he might be in the right. One thing I will say for A-Rod: He runs balls out and plays hard every day. It's just that 1 percent of weird stuff that gets the attention.
Reading your starting 9, it sounds like from their (Gossage, Palmer, Blyleven) perspective, the game was more respected in their day. Jerry, do you feel that players have lost some respect for the game and the history in it?
Jeff, There's no doubt that the money and the media attention have changed things, but most of the players I talk to still love the game as much. But when you look at things like fraternization at the batting cage, it's a different world than it used to be. Guys aren't as hard-core when it comes to hating the opposition morning, noon and night.
Between Freese and Garcia, which Cardinal rookie was the worse snub for Rookie of the Month? Do you see either of them continuing their fantastic starts so that they can be robbed of Rookie of the Year as well?
Josh, Settle down, big guy. Your squad is going to win the NL Central. Albert will win the MVP, and Wainwright and Carp will both be in contention for the Cy Young. Garcia is in a nice, comfortable spot at the back of that rotation, and Freese certainly can hit. From what I've seen, he needs a little work with the glove, though.
Do you think it's time to be a little concerned about Johan? His batting average against over the last 7 years: .192, .210, .216, .225, .232, .244, .252. That's a pretty significant sample size, and it's been trending steadily in the wrong direction
Ryan, I'd be a little concerned when his velocity gets below 90, because there's not enough separation between his fastball and his changeup. If he's healthy, he's resourceful enough to be a good pitcher. But it looks as if he's not in that Halladay-Lincecum stratosphere anymore.
Just read your comments on Frank Wren... How can he not be on the hot seat? Missed out on A.J. Burnett and Rafael Furcal, Overpaid Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami, let a reliable Adam LaRoche go to sign Troy Glaus, Jeff Francouer for Ryan Church, the Vazquez deal...
Shaun, They have some guys who haven't hit a lick, and there's definitely reason to be concerned. But I'd be a complete phony if I ripped Frank Wren on May 5 after picking the Braves to win the wild card in late March. They just haven't hit, and I'm not sure if that's going to change.
Is there any hope for the Brewers? What will it take to get them back to the playoffs with Prince still on the team?
Jason, They're just a mediocre team. Not enough starting pitching or offense to surround Braun and Fielder in the middle of the order. Remember when Weeks, Hardy and Hart helped form that dynamite nucleus with Prince and Braun? Now Hardy is in Minnesota and Weeks and Hart look like average players. It's hard to predict how things will work out sometimes.
If Austin Jackson hit a pop up on the infield, what are the chances it falls for a hit right now? Have you ever seen a BABIP this ridiculous?
Kevin, I know BABIP is a valid stat, but it also doesn't account for guys who hit nothing but ropes and guys who hit mostly popups and weak dribblers. I'm not saying that's the case with Austin Jackson -- he'll definitely come back to earth. But I wouldn't consider BABIP the be-all and end-all.
Whats your thoughts on Brad Lidge do you think he is close to back to the 08 form as possible after his last outing his fastball had some life and his slider look unhittable
Andy, Too soon to tell, but it's pretty apparent that he wasn't healthy last year. If you look at that bullpen, with Madson out and the Phillies' other late inning options, Lidge isn't going to get much opportunity to ease in slowly. The Phillies need him to perform -- and quickly.
Is there any second basemen better than Dustin Pedroia right now in baseball, offensively and defensively combined?
Paul, I think you could make a strong case for both Chase Utley and Robinson Cano.
Jerry i have been having a debate with some friends on how to rank the following sps can you provide some insight: verlander j santana and grienke. thanks for the help
Josh, Right now I'd go Greinke, Verlander, Santana, but it depends on the question. Are you talking this year, long-term future, or what? (This isn't another fantasy question, is it?)
Silva can't be this good can he? With Bradley doing his thing and Silva looking decent did the Cubs rob the Mariners?
Aaron, Carlos Silva landed a $48 million deal not too long ago, so he was a pretty good pitcher at one point. He seems to be in better shape, and he can give a team 5-6 solid innings when he's pounding the zone with that sinker. He's a back-end-of-the rotation guy, but anything he gives the Cubs was a bonus. Just getting Bradley out of that clubhouse was a plus.
Red Sox win 85?
Ian, Sure, I think they win 85 or more. Their pitching staff alone is good enough for 85 wins. They need to get some other stuff straightened out if they're going to make a run at the Rays and Yankees.
Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine made the NL All-Star team for the Braves in 1996.
Rodman, Thanks for the response to that earlier question on the chat.
And Maddux, Glavine and D Neagle also all made the NL team for the Braves the following year, 1997.
And thanks for this answer as well. No wonder Braves fans feel a sense of remorse for the team's failure to win a World Series either of those years. I still think the Braves were the best team in '96. Definitely should have won it that year.
Jerry not a fantasy question debate on the top 5 sps in the league: I said lincecum, halladay, grienke, CC and King Felix. Others thrown out there were johan, verlander, haren, ubaldo and wainwright.
Josh, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum and Ubaldo Jimenez are the most consistently dominant pitchers I've seen in the first month. Just one man's opinion.
Was Pedroia not one of the weakest MVP's in the history of the game???Seriously an .869 ops is an MVP? Besides Tejada in 2002 has there ever been an AL MVP with an OPS that low?
Matt, I don't recall having a huge objection to Pedroia winning. You have to take into account the fact that he plays second base, don't you?
How good is this Padres pitching staff?
Joseph, Two things: Guys pitch with a lot of confidence at Petco Park, and the Padres have a great pitching coach in Darren Balsley and a manager, Bud Black, who also knows a heck of a lot about the craft. I took a glance this morning and Wade LeBlanc, Tim Stauffer, Luke Gregorson and Edward Mujica all have sub-2.00 ERAs. Who are these guys?
Jerry - can Gardner stay this productive as an every day player? (obviously nobody expects him to hit .350 but can he continue to get on base and be disruptive) thanks
Nel, I wrote a story on Brett Gardner last year, and there are a lot of people in baseball who think he's a scrappy, fourth OF type. Brian Cashman told me he thinks the kid is an everyday player. He's very tough-minded, really fast, and he's in a place where he can bat ninth and slap the ball around and make a major contribution. I don't think he's a star, but he'll be around a while.
What are your thoughts on the Bradley/Wak incident last night?
Ryan, I really want to see Milton Bradley do well, because he's a smart guy and I think he's a really good person at heart. Too many people have told me that for me not to believe it. That said, I think the guy has so much emotional baggage, he's eventually going to drag himself down and take a clubhouse with him. Seriously: Is there a player who produces less who gets written about more than Milton Bradley?
Jerry, add a reliable starting pitcher and suddenly this mets team is for real. Who should be more worried, the braves/rockies or us fans (for the inevitable collapse)
Paul, Ike Davis has helped stabilize the lineup, and it's nice to see them playing better. But I'd be a little concerned after the pounding that Santana took (not to mention Pelfrey) while they were in Philly over the weekend. Let's hold the euphoria for a little bit.
Thanks for the emails, everybody. I'm heading down to the Cardinals-Phils game tonight. Should be fun. Let's talk again next week.