We're getting Joe right now!
The Braves have had a fabulous stretch here to take over the NL East, but they had a lot of help from the Mets and Phillies, who have both struggled. The Braves got off to a horrible start, but they've been able to bounce back and they're playing like the team I thought they would be at the beginning of the season.
With the Rangers struggling this weekend, how do you evaluate their team?
If you're a Rangers fan, you have to be worried. First, their starting pitching is not pitching enough innings. Second, their offense away from home is not consistent. They're hitting well at home, but not very well on the road. And they're not doing well against teams above .500. They're going to have to make some changes if they're going to win the West.
Hey Joe what's wrong with the Phillies?
One of the things that people underestimate with the Phillies is how valuable Jimmy Rollins is. It doesn't show up when they're hitting the ball out of the ballpark, but what happens, there's no consistency when the guys aren't hitting home runs. Rollins helps them with the small ball when he's not in the lineup. I think the Phillies are experiencing that right now.
I think Jimmy Rollins is a real key there.
Joe, did you have a chance to watch Buster Posey's debut with the Giants this weekend? Does his swing remind you of anyone you played with/against?
Everything that I've heard has been positive, that's he's the real deal, as far as hitting is concerned. The question is can he catch the pitching staff, that's the biggest strength of the team. Or can he play first? Those are the questions.
Joe, have you seen many team wide slumps like what the Phillies are going through right now? I watched a couple of their games this weekend and it seems like a virus has gone through that clubhouse!
I've seen it with the Phillies over the years. They play in that ballpark that's a great offensive ballpark, but I've seen them go through stretches, maybe not this bad, where they've struggled scoring runs. The staff has pitched well. It has happened before, but let's remember that as quickly as they got cold, they can get hot at the same time. I still think they're the favorite to win the East.
Joe, in your opinion, is Jason Heyward one of the top 20 players in baseball right now? Top 40?
It's too early to be judging someone that's only played a couple of months in the big leagues. But there's no doubt he can be one of the best in the game. He can hit, he's got a good head on his shoulders. It's just hard to judge a young player that has 100 at bats in the big leagues against A-Rod, Derek Jeter.
Joe, you and Orel talked about "quality strikes" on Sunday. What's a quality strike?
That's a great question. I feel badly if we didn't explain it properly. I take pride in explaining myself on the air. There are three parts to the plate, outside corner, inside corner and middle. You want to stay out of the middle. Most hitters can handle the ball on the middle of the plate. Some players have trouble with the inside corner or outside corner. A quality strike is one that stays low and is middle in or middle out. Just stay out of the middle of the plate. Good question.
Joe, Oakland is in 1st place. Do you think they can win the AL West?
Oakland has had a fabulous run. They're like the Giants. They have good pitching, I question their offense. They no longer have guys to hit the ball out of the park. You have to wonder about their run scoring ability, but you do that with a lot of teams. I expect them to stay in the race.
If there's one thing that we're seeing now, when we're talking about teams hitting, is that they're not as consistent as they should be. The Rays were doing all of the things they needed, but then they lost a few in a row. The Yankees looked unbeatable, but then they started having issues with their pitching. It's very difficult to have everything running at the same time. If the pitching is doing well, it seems the hitting is inconsistent.
Is there a pitching or hitting disparity between the AL and NL? Right now, looking at ESPN's stat page, shows that the AL's leading 8 hitters (for avg.) are better than the NL's top hitter. Does this have anything to do with pitcher or hitter quality in either league?
I think it has to do with the better players. I think the best players are in the AL. It's not a coincidence that the AL has won the all-star game over the last few years. The NL has added some good young players, but I think overall the better players are in the AL. It's tougher in the AL, because there's also not the automatic out with the DH hitting. When looking at statistics, remember that the leagues are different. A hitter in the AL might have more RBI, but he has one more hitter in the lineup and not the automatic out like in the NL.
Hey Joe. Toughest division in baseball? The AL east is pretty tight with the only bad team in there being Baltimore. Thoughts?
That's a difficult question. It would be very easy to say the AL East, because of the Yankees, Boston, Toronto, Rays. But we're still feeling things out. We're about a third of the way through the season. But if I were to have to give an answer, I would say the AL East. I would have said the NL West, but things haven't shaped up like I thought they would. The weakest division is probably the AL West. But then you look at the AL Central and ask how good is it.
what do you make of this hoopla around Strasburg?
I think he deserves a lot of it. We tend to go overboard on a lot of it. That's why I tempered my comments on Jason Heyward. I'm probably his biggest fan, but I don't want to go overboard. I do believe the Strasburg will have an impact on the game. But there is a difference between AA, AAA and the big leagues. That's why it's called the big leagues. Someone said that when he steps on the field, he'll be the best pitcher in the game, but I find that hard to believe. I would have a hard time putting him in front of Lincecum, Halladay, etc.
Hi Joe, who do you think has been the better pitcher this year so far Jimenez or Halladay?
Well, I don't think there's any doubt that Jimenez is the better pitcher. He has complete games, his ERA is less than 1. Halladay pitched a perfect game, but Jimenez pitched a no hitter. I don't think there's any doubt that Jimenez has beent he best pitcher in the league.
Joe, What do you think of the Brewers this year? Is it time to finally trade Prince Fielder? Thanks!
I've been very disappointed with Milwaukee's play this year. I thought they would be better because they tried to address their weakness in pitching. I wouldn't be against trading Fielder if you can get a lot for him. But if you're the Brewers, you shouldn't be against trading anybody, because of where you are.
Good Morning Joe. Pitchers throughout baseball have seemed to have the upper hand this season so far, do you believe this is a case of overall batter regression or has the standard of pitching improved this much? Or is this possibly an aberration that will correct itself during the summer?
I don't think it will correct itself this year. The pitchers have improved. We went through a time 3-4 years ago when we had a lot of young pitchers coming in who just threw well. Now they're learning how to pitch better. Hitters will have to make adjustments to get back to where they were before. There are some pretty good hitters out there with track records who are no hitting well. I think it's the pitching that's gotten better.
What's wrong with Aramis Ramirez?
I haven't seen him enough to offer an opinion of if he's pulling off or whatever he's doing. I've always been a big fan of his because he seems to get the job done. I think he will correct it because he's too good of a player to not have a hot stretch. I think it's still too early to look at him differently than in the past.
When I look around the league, I think there are a couple of teams that will get better, not worse. One of the teams is the Reds. They'll get some pitching help. The other team is the Braves. They have the great starting pitching. If they can just score some runs, they'll be a dominant team. The thing I worry about is the health of Chipper Jones. If Rollins comes back and he's healthy, I think the Phillies win. It will be interesting.