Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

May 12, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Jerry Crasnick

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:00 PM)

Hey folks, This week's Starting 9 is on the site. The topic: Players who are carrying their teams in a specific area of the game. Did somebody say, "Ubaldo Jimenez and Zack Greinke?" Let's start the chat.

Betsy (New York)

Hi JerryWhat are your thoughts on Phil Hughes? I always believed he had the potential to be a frontline starter, but he's pitching like one a year or two earlier than I thought he would. He showed a lot by going into Fenway and stifling the Sox. Thanks!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:01 PM)

Betsy, He looks like the real deal. For all the hype he's received, people forget that he's still just 23 years old. He has tremendous poise for a kid that young and pitching in New York. Quick stat: Hughes has thrown a first-pitch strike 63.9 percent of the time -- the same as Chris Carpenter. That's pretty good company.

Brian (Fort Wayne, IN)

What habitual bottom dwelling francise do you think needs a playoff birth or World Series championship the most?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:03 PM)

Brian, I come from a family of Indians fans, so I don't think any city is as desperate for a World Champion as Cleveland. If you're just talking about a garden-variety playoff berth, I'll go with the Royals or Orioles in the AL and the Pirates in the NL. Any objections out there?

tim (the d)

Jerry. behind albert pujols, who is the best right handed hitter in the game today. i believe it is miguel cabrera. agree or disagree?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:04 PM)

Tim, Good call on your part. I remember in 2003 or 2004, I wrote something on Cabrera to the effect that he was a "young Pujols," and I got crushed by readers. Now look at the guy. Afte Pujols and Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria would have to be somewhere in the discussion.

Joe (Baltimore)

What is up with Adam Jones? He should still be a solid ML regular but do you think he will emerge as a superstar like he was billed to be?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:06 PM)

Joe, He's going to be a very good player. Look at it this way: When Robinson Cano came up with the Yankees, he had Jeter, Posada and a bunch of other established veterans to give him guidance and help provide cover. Jones doesn't have that in Baltimore. He's a kid who takes things to heart, and I think he struggles with the slumps and the losing. But he's got a lot of talent and a desire to be great. He just needs time.

Jason (NJ)

Is June 1st the point at which we can stop saying that Stat X cannot be taken seriously because of a small sample size?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:06 PM)

Jason, I've typically heard that 40 to 50 games is a good barometer. It won't be long until we're there.

Greg (LA)

here's a wild trade - LAD's trade Martin to the Sox for Martinez, Casey Kelley and Jose Iglesias.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:07 PM)

Greg, If you throw in a young Duke Snider and Sandy Koufax, Theo Epstein might go for that deal.

Jason (NJ)

What are your thoughts on the Phillies-Jays G-20 situation?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:09 PM)

Jason, It's not a good situation, but Paul Beeston is a smart and reasonable guy. So when the Jays signed off on it, I'm assuming they exhausted every other alternative. I'm not sure what else they could have done -- moved the games to Olympic Stadium in Montreal? At least the crowds and the gate will be bigger in Philly.

Frank (Coram, NY)

What is your opinion of moving Ike Davis to the #3 spot for The Mets?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:11 PM)

Frank, I think the Mets are resistant to that idea for the same reason the Braves were resistant to throwing too much at Jason Heyward too quickly. It's enough of a jump coming to the big leagues and playing for a team with pennant aspirations without being thrown into the key spot in the batting order.

mike (florida)

what will the braves do if Derek lowe continues to struggle?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:11 PM)

Mike, Grind their teeth over the $45 million and three years left on his contract?

Mike (Ohio)

Hi Jerry, a question I posed to Joe Morgan earlier: Was the biggest crime Griffey sleeping during the game or the 2 anonymous teammates who went outside the clubhouse to the press? Thanks

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:13 PM)

Mike, Obviously, it makes Griffey look bad, but this wouldn't be nearly as big an issue if the Mariners weren't so anemic offensively. As for the two anonymous teammates, I get the impression that they were just confiding in the reporter and didn't realize the story would blow up the way it did. For what it's worth, Larry LaRue, the guy who reported the story, has been around a long time and is well-respected in the industry. He's not a guy who would just invent something to stir the pot and cause problems.

randy (dallas)

What are your thoughts on Ron Washington's apparent overuse and/or misuse of the sacrifice bunt? Last night he called a 4 sac bunts.....One of them with 2 on and no outs in the 5th inning, for Elvis Andrus one of his hottest hitters and a guy with a .470 avg with RISP,

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:15 PM)

Randy, I didn't see the game, but four sacrifice bunts in one game is a bunch. I saw Ron Gardenhire go sacrifice crazy in a pennant race game with Detroit last year, and all I could think was, "Why is he giving away so many outs?" I'm not a huge sac bunt fan, but I can only assume that Ron Washington knows his personnel better than anybody else does.

Knish (NJ)

AROD not that discussion?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:16 PM)

Knish, Of course, A-Rod is in that best RH hitter discussion. And you have to give Jeter his due for having 2,800-odd hits. I was thinking more of younger guys, obviously.

Brad (NM)

Does Dallas Braden's perfect game get more recognition if he plays for a mid to large market team?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:18 PM)

Brad, Dallas Braden has been on TV more than Balloon Boy's parents, so I don't think he can complain about a lack of attention.

Oliver Perez (Queens)

Jerry - just wanted to drop by and let you know that I am really, really bad

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:19 PM)

Ollie, Thanks for the scouting report -- and belated congratulations on the contract.

Mark (Madison, WI)

Cabrera, Braun, and Longoraia are all great, but that Arod guy still swings the bat pretty well from the right side ...

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:19 PM)

Mark, Just wanted to post a second note of support for A-Rod. Yes, I realize he's pretty good.

Morgan (Baltimore)

Jerry, what's your take on bunting for a hit during a no-hitter or perfect game? Acceptable? Unacceptable?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:21 PM)

Morgan, If Dallas Braden were up 12-0 in the eighth inning and Evan Longoria tried to drop one down, that would be out of bounds. But if a game is reasonably close -- within 4 or 5 runs -- I don't see what the problem is. I interviewed Bert Blyeven and Goose Gossage last week, and even the crusty Hall of Fame types realize that bunting to try and get on base is part of the game.

Matt (Roscommon , Mi)

i am going to pursue a career in Sports Broadcasting or Sports Writing what is you most important piece of advice. thanks , Matt

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:23 PM)

Matt, Learn how to speak Spanish. I'm serious. My biggest regret is that I didn't take Spanish in school, so there's a bit of a barrier whenever I want to talk to Latin players in the clubhouse.

dave (pa)

The Reds just keep winning, whats it going to take for them to compete for the wildcard?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:24 PM)

Dave, They need Harang, Arroyo, Cueto and Bailey to start turning in quality starts behind Mike Leake on a consistent basis. The last two games -- 16 innings and one run allowed by Arroyo and Cueto -- are a great start. Of course, it came against the Pirates, so we'll see if it was for real or just a mirage. I suspect that rotation will be pretty good when all is said and done.

Taylor (Iowa)

True or False the Cards will pull away from the division by end of May?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:26 PM)

Taylor, I really do think the Reds will have something to say about that. St. Louis should win the division, but the Cards will not have things in hand by the end of May. Not even close.

Chet (LA)

Jerry, You've been around the game a pretty long time, not Peter Gammons long, but long nonetheless. Do you think it is a mistake at times to continue to let a hitter attempt to be a switch hitter when they have no success at the major league level? The Rockies have Dexter Fowler, who is a very good athlete, but not a good switch hitter. His splits this season are eye popping. RHP: .190/.264/.291 where LHP is .361/.489/.528. Do you think Fowler would be better served just being a right handed hitter? When does attempting to be a switch hitter actually hurt a player and are we close to that with Fowler? He looks so much more comfortable from the right side of the plate. Thank you for the insight!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:28 PM)

Chet, Long question, but an interesting one. I remember when J.T. Snow junked switch hitting, but he was much further along than Dexter Fowler. Keep in mind that we're talking about a kid who didn't play Triple A ball and is still learning on the job. He's also fast enough that the extra step from hitting left-handed is going to buy him several extra hits a year. I think it's way too early to give up on Fowler being a switch-hitter.

Mike (Boston, MA)

Hey Jerry, are the people around baseball mocking the Red Sox "pitching and defense" strategy as much as the Red Sox fans are?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:30 PM)

Mike, On the contrary. I think baseball people believe the Red Sox pitching will get hot enough to keep them in the race for a postseason spot. Sure, they have flaws, but they're still above .500, and we've seen an awful lot of Jonathan Van Every and Darnell McDonald. The Red Sox are going to spend enough time beating up on the Torontos, Kansas Citys and Clevelands that they should win 88 games even in a bad year.

Mike (San Francisco)

Who would you say is the favorite to win the NL West? The Padres are in first but many people believe they're a fluke. The Dodgers aren't looking very good. I think it has to be the Giants.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:31 PM)

Mike, I picked the Rockies to win the World Series, and I'm not off to a very good start there. But their rotation has been a mess, they've spent the whole year without their closer, and (I believe) Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton have combined for one home run. I love the Giants' pitching, but I think the Rockies' young legs will help them make a big run in the second half.

Monroe (Chelsea, Ohio)

Who's going to tell Griffey he has a fork in his back?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:33 PM)

Monroe, The conventional wisdom is that he's "earned the right" to say when he's done. If they had some great alternatives to take his ABs, I guess there would be a great sense of urgency. There's also a saying that "the pitchers will let you know when you're done." They seem to be making that statement very emphatically to Junior.

David (NYC)

Where does David Wright come in on the list of top right handed hitters in the game? Hanley Ramirez? Manny Ramirez (if he's the same guy)?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:35 PM)

David, Yikes -- I left out Hanley Ramirez. (Major brain cramp). David Wright is very good, but I'd put him a notch below Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Braun. Two or three years ago, Manny would have been right up there with Pujols. But he's not there anymore.

Maz (Charlotte, NC)

Looks like Pedro is putting up the hr and rbi numbers @ Indy but still swinging and missing a ton, will it get worse for his call up in June or do u see him heating up like last summer.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:37 PM)

Maz, After seeing how pathetic the Pirates have looked against Cincinnati's pitching, I don't care how much Pedro Alvarez has left to learn. Once the Super 2 service date passes, I'd be looking to call him up. At this rate, the Pirates might have 5,000 people in the stands by June.

Monroe (Chelsea, Ohio)

Mike Leake has been extremely effective. Do you think Dusty will break him?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:39 PM)

Monroe, I know Dusty Baker has had issues with his handling of young pitchers, but I think that story angle has grown a bit tiresome. Mike Leake's biggest issue isn't his workload. It will be finding a way to adjust when he's going through the league a second and third time and hitters have a better read on him. He's a smart kid, though. That should help.

Mikey (Philly)

Did you hear the "Phillies accused of stealing signs" story? Any thoughts?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:40 PM)

Mikey, I just saw the story. Apparently the Rockies think that Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was using a binocular in the bullpen and relaying signs. I have no idea if it's true, but I love this Tom Clancy baseball intrigue stuff. Doesn't everybody?

Adam Lind (Toronto)

Have you seen my bat?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:41 PM)

Adam, We need to go on a scouting mission to try and find it. And once we do, we'll see if we can locate Aaron Hill's and Lyle Overbay's as well. Is there something in the water in Toronto?

Blake (Abilene, TX)

Jerry, You have only answerd 2 questions from south of the Mason Dixon line. We do watch other sports besides football. On that note. Can you give me your thoughts on C.J. Wilson of the Rangers?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:44 PM)

Blake, Geez, I didn't know someone was keeping score. As for CJ Wilson, he's been terrific. He's always had good stuff. From talking to him in spring training, I see him as one of those cerebral types who loves dissecting an opposing lineup and finding ways to navigate it. In a lot of ways, he's probably more temperamentally suited to starting. And having Mike Maddux around as a pitching coach never hurts.

Matt (Chicago)

If you're Tom Ricketts, is it time to soberly assess the problems with this organization(Hendry, Lou, bloated & aging payroll)? Unfortunately, I can see Hendry making some ill-advised moves to keep up the facade of "competing"- ala Drayton M.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:45 PM)

Matt, I don't know. The Cubs are already saddled with some big contracts with Soriano, Fukudome and ace setup man Carlos Zambrando. I don't think Tom Ricketts is going to sign off on some patchwork move to keep up the facade of "competing."

Ryan (NY)

Thoughts on the Nationals? I've seen them a few times this year, and to steal a quote from Major League, I thought "these guys aint so bleeping bad"

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:47 PM)

Ryan, Any lineup that has Josh Willingham, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn in the middle of it is going to be representative. But they've gotten an awful lot out of pitchers like Livan Hernandez and Tyler Clippard in the early going, and I'm not sure how long that can continue. On a positive note, I heard they have a pitcher in Triple A who's pretty good. Stephen Something.

matt (cleveland)

If the Indians are out of it (10-15 games under .500) at the trading deadline do you see them moving Sizemore and Choo?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:49 PM)

Matt, I'm sure they'd love to move Travis Hafner. But Grady Sizemore is still young enough to be an impact guy, and his value is at an all-time low right now. It wouldn't make any sense to move him. As for Choo, he's eligible for salary arbitration this winter and still under team control for a while. He's been their best player -- he's not going anywhere.

shane (knoxville)

Jerry, if you were AJ Hinch or Josh Byrnes, what would you do to fix the bullpen situation in Arizona? It really can't get any worse than this.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:52 PM)

Shane, The problem, obviously, is that 15 other teams in baseball are looking for the same thing -- good, available, affordable relief pitching -- and it's a commodity that just doesn't exist. It doesn't help that Brandon Webb hasn't pitched. How long can they keep riding Ian Kennedy and Rodrigo Lopez?

Andre (GA)

How about this Mets send FMart, Wilmer Flores and a C prospect to Houston for Oswalt?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:52 PM)

Andre, Sorry -- don't see Drayton McLane signing off on that one.

gee (san diego)

jerry, the padres are 20-12 and 4-0 vs the 2nd place giants. they have proven that their ration is solid 1-5 and their bullpen is arguably the best in baseball. when do they go from fluke to legit contender?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:54 PM)

Gee, I'd love to buy in to the Padres, but I look at that lineup and don't see any impact bats beyond Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Headley. And while the rotation has been good, it just doesn't measure up to San Francisco's. I think the Pads are a nice little story, but if they finish .500, they should consider that a successful season. (If I'm wrong and they win the division, feel free to come back in September and crush me).

Mike (Chicago)

What's the best way to handle a top position player prospect when you bring them up to the majors? Play everyday or 2-3 games week to let him get "familiarized" with the league?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:56 PM)

Mike, I think it's best to play a guy 5 or 6 days a week, and give him a seat against particularly tough pitchers. If it's a lefty hitter and CC Sabathia is going, give him a rest and make one of your veterans a human sacrifice for the day. That's the way I would handle it.

John (Des Moines)

Should Dayton Moore be fired? The Royals' farm system is making progress under his watch, but Moore otherwise seems like he's in over his head.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:57 PM)

John, Whether he should or shouldn't be fired is irrelevant, since he's under contract through 2014. Even though Moore just gave manager Trey Hillman a vote of confidence, it's clear that Hillman is under the gun more than his manager right now.

Mike (Chicago)

Cubs offseason moves: Don't re-sign Lee or Lilly and move Soriano to 1B and then go after an OF?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:58 PM)

Mike, I'm having an awfully hard time wrapping my mind around the image of Alfonso Soriano playing first base.

Dave (NJ)

I'm looking for the Mets to add another starter. At what point do teams start to salary-dump? Also, which starters could the Mets realistically acquire?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:00 PM)

Dave, Nobody starts looking to salary dump for at least another six weeks. You keep hearing names like Mark Buehrle and Cliff Lee as potential second half trade targets, but I'm sure their teams will be resistant to pulling the plug, because the White Sox and Mariners expected to be contenders.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:01 PM)

Thanks for the emails, everybody. Sorry I couldn't get to more. (The driveway guy was here doing some work, and he kept ringing the ball with questions). Let's do it again next week.