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June 16, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Jerry Crasnick

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:00 PM)

Hi everybody, This week's Starting 9 is posted on the site. In honor of Stephen Strasburg, I look back at Fernandomania, Mark "The Bird" Fidrych and others who turned every game into an "event." I tried to have some fun with it. Let's start the chat.

Micah (CT)

Mets are surging right now against the lesser teams, however Johan has only 2 K's total in his last 2 starts, and doesn't have a quality start in the past 2 starts. What's with that?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:02 PM)

Micah, I know a lot of people were alarmed when Santana allowed 10 runs to the Phillies, and he bounced back pretty nicely from that debacle. He pitched into the seventh inning in both starts, so I wouldn't be too concerned. Santana is resourceful enough that as long as he's healthy, he'll find a way to get by without his best stuff.

Cameron (Littleton, CO)

What chances do you give the Tigers of making to the playoffs, and if they do, who will be the biggest impact player?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:04 PM)

Cameron, Detroit's starting rotation has logged the 26th biggest workload in baseball, and that's going to be a major obstacle if the Tigers don't straighten things out soon. Nobody is better than Jim Leyland at managing a bullpen. But they have to get more innings out of the rotation, or the relievers are going to be fried by August.

Bozo ((Greenwich, CT))

Do you see the Mets trading for Cliff Lee? What kind of package would it take?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:06 PM)

Bozo, It's funny. A month ago I was flooded with questions about when Jerry Manuel would be fired. Now everybody is writing in wanting Omar Minaya to make a short-term move and trade for Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Mark Buehrle or Dan Haren. It's only mid-June, so I would expect the Mets to ride this Hisanori Takahashi and R.A. Dickey wave as long as they can. At least that buys them some time to see if John Maine will be of any use to them. I think they have to feel pretty good about Pelfrey, Santana and Jonathon Niese right now.

Mike W (Chicago)

I've heard rumors about the Reds looking at Cliff Lee. Could a Lee for Alonso trade make sense for the Reds and could this help their postseason run by putting Bailey and/or Harang in the bullpen?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:08 PM)

Mike, With Edinson Volquez already beginning his comeback from Tommy John surgery and Aroldis Chapman in the minors, I don't see why the Reds would be in the Cliff Lee market. Doesn't make sense to me. Bailey is still hurt, and as shaky as Harang has been in the rotation, I can't see him going to the bullpen. I think the Reds would be more inclined to bring up Travis Wood or Matt Maloney from the minors and give them a look.

Mike (Ohio) [via mobile]

Jerry an pretty easy trivia question for ya: Name the only player who was on the wrong side of 3 perfect games.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:10 PM)

Mike, Where's Jayson Stark when you need him? I think Mike Scioscia was on the wrong side of the perfect games by Tom Browning and Dennis Martinez, but I can't think of a third. Does anybody else have an answer to this one?

Joe (Sinking Spring, PA)

I know Amaro claims to have no worries about the Phillies struggles and has no plans to make any drastic changes, but how concerned would you be? This is going on for more than a month right now! Also, I know JRoll is injured but should the 15 and 25 million dollar men be able to handle this absence?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:11 PM)

Joe, I really do think the Phillies miss Rollins' energy and his swagger. But this team seems to be a little distracted and in need of a wakeup call. I suspect they'll get hot offensively and win 15 of 18 at some point. But right now it doesn't look as if the Mets and Braves are going away.

John (New York)

Who is the best 2nd baseman in the AL?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:12 PM)

John, At this very moment it has to be Robinson Cano, doesn't it?

Steve (Boston, MA)

Jerry, what has gotten into Robinson Cano this year? Is he maybe talking with Larry Bowa by phone? He was always at his best when Bowa was here, could he be helping keep Cano?s head on straight from afar?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:14 PM)

Steve, Speaking of which ... I did a story on Cano in May, and I was amazed at the way Jeter, Teixeira and other teammates talked about his ability as a hitter: It was as if they were in awe of him. I just think Cano has grown up. It's tough breaking in as an everyday player in New York because your ups and downs are going to be scrutinized so much. But the talent was always there. There's not a pitch the guy can't hit.

BT (Atlanta)

A couple of weeks ago you said you were worried about the Braves pitching. Did you know that they are 27-0 when scoring 5 runs? And do think Kawakami is the best 0-9 pitcher ever with a 4.3 ERA?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:16 PM)

BT, I'm not sure if I said I was "worried" about the Braves' pitching, but the injury to Jurrjens seemed to throw them out of whack for a while. As for pitchers with terrible records, Zack Greinke and Kevin Millwood have also been a heck of a lot better than the W's and L's would indicate this season.

Tim (illinois)

I don't understand the A's trade for Jackson from Arizona? The A's problem is they lack an impact bat that makes the lineup better.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:18 PM)

Tim, You're right -- they already have guys like Ryan Sweeney and Rajai Davis. But Billy Beane is in a position where he has to troll for bargains and take advantage of other teams in their rush to save money. I think the A's looked at Jackson as a classic buy-low, what-the-heck type investment. The guy was considered a pretty good hitter before that whole Valley Fever thing sidetracked his career.

Rob (NJ)

If Adrian Gonzalez is traded to a favorable ballpark with some lineup protection can he put up Pujols numbers

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:19 PM)

Rob, He's already putting up numbers that aren't far off what Pujols is doing. But with the Padres in first place in the NL West (thanks largely to their pitching), that temporarily puts the trade-Adrian speculation in cold storage, doesn't it?


Did anyone see Troy Glaus having the year he is having so far?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:21 PM)

KC, Apparently Frank Wren did. Glaus was very good a couple of years ago, and the Braves people thought he could provide some thump with the carrot of a new contract hanging out there as extra motivation. Glaus has been a godsend with Chipper slumping all season.

Lars (Pittsburgh)

Will Andrew McCutchen be a superstar?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:23 PM)

Lars, Maybe not a superstar in the classic, 30-homer sense, but he strikes me as a player who could be a Carl Crawford-type for a lot of years. I did a story on him in April, and he's very focused and serious for someone so young. His approach to the game is as impressive as his talent.

Mark (Pittsburgh)

Pedro Alvarez or Carlos Santana

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:24 PM)

Mark, I'd probably take Carlos Santana, just because impact offensive catchers are such a rarity. I'm still not sure where Alvarez plays long-term. But make no mistake: He's got huge potential as a hitter.

Jake (Chicago)

Jerry, time for Lou Piniella to go...the money from the Toyota sign will take care of the rest of his contract.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:25 PM)

Jake, I don't think Lou Piniella is ever going to walk away from a team in the middle of a season -- he has too much pride and too much of a competitive streak for that. But I can definitely see 2010 being the end of the road for him in Chicago. It appears most Cubs fans would agree.

Pat (Phoenix, Az)

How bad did D-backs people (and other scouts) over evaluate their talent?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:27 PM)

Pat, I honestly wonder if it isn't a question of temperament as much as ability. They have a lot of soft-spoken, even-tempered guys in that clubhouse, and there just seems to be a lack of urgency around that team. You can't tell me that Justin Upton doesn't have the talent to be a huge star in the big leagues.

Noah (Kalamazoo)

Do you think Delmon Young is finally turning the corner? His OPS is only .005 lower than Mauer's.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:30 PM)

Noah, A lot of people said that Delmon Young looked like a different player in spring training. He lost weight and seemed more focused and committed. He still has some plate discipline issues, but he's young enough that he should be a contributor on a big-league club. Maybe he's a good No. 6 hitter rather than a middle of the order stud, but with Mauer, Morneau and Cuddyer, that's all the Twins need from him.

jennifer (tampa)

I believe the answer to the trivia question is Joe Maddon, the Rays good, but unlucky manager!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:31 PM)

Jennifer, There's Mark Buehrle and Dallas Braden. Jog my memory: Who's the third?

Nick (LI)

Fernando V and Gooden were definitely two must sees. The rest of the list doesn"t come close. I would have thought some of the ol timers would have made the list like Jackie Robinson, Gerhig, Dimaggio.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:32 PM)

Nick, As I mentioned in the lead, I tried to confine it to the past 40 years. You don't think that Mark Fidrych, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire were must-sees at the time?

Josh (MN)

Jerry, where do you think that the twins stand as far as looking forward to the postseason. Do you think that this is one of the better rosters that we have had in the past decade or so?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:34 PM)

Josh, They need to get Orlando Hudson and JJ Hardy healthy, figure out if they're comfortable going into the postseason with Jon Rauch as their closer, and hope they can go deep with Liriano, Slowey et al in the rotation. I like the Twins roster a lot. (It makes me wonder why I was such a numbskull and picked the White Sox to win the AL Central).

Brett (Chicago)

Alex Rios the only player from the White Sox to make the All-Star game this year?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:34 PM)

Brett, It has to be either Rios or Paul Konerko, I would think.

A's fan (New York)

Can Swisher make the ASG? Is he one of the better players to not have been there yet?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:36 PM)

A's fan. Swisher has been big for the Yankees, but I don't see any way he makes it unless Joe Girardi finds a way to shoe-horn him onto the roster.

Ryan (VA)

Jerry, with the news that Chipper is going to retire after the season, where do the Braves go from there? They don't have anyone in the wings to take his place. Most of their best young talent is already in the majors. Do they make a trade this offseason or is their a free agent you see them pursuing?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:37 PM)

Ryan, By next year, Jason Heyward will be closer to assuming the role of "the man" in Atlanta, and Freddie Freeman could be ready to play first base. The problem, as usual, is that the Braves' offense is too left-handed. If they don't bring back Troy Glaus, they're going to have to go shopping for a RH run producer in the offseason. That's assuming that Chipper continues to flounder in the second half and definitely retires. I wouldn't carve that in stone just yet.

Jennifer (tAMPA)

Kenny Roger's game when Maddon was coach with the A's!!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:39 PM)

Jennifer, If that's the answer, then thanks much. I'm not sure why the questioner said it was "easy" to figure out. That's pretty tough!

Nick (LI)

Maybe but how do you then exclude Gibson, or Aaron, or Reggie. The list I thought were those that transcend the game. I remember going to see Gooden pitch or watching Fernando V and it was an event. Can that be said about Bonds? Maybe for McGuire.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:41 PM)

Nick, As I mention in the story, the Giants ranked among the leaders in road attendance every year when Bonds was dominating the game in the early 1990s. You don't think people bought a ticket to a game to watch Barry Bonds play, or were conscious of his every move when he was in the park? That's not the way I recall.

Mike (San Diego)

The Giants seemed to have found a lineup that is providing offense with Burrell, Posey, Sanchez and Torres. Amazing what a few weeks can do. How much better are their playoff chances now than they were at the beginning of the month?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:43 PM)

Mike, You're right -- they've really lengthened out their lineup in some unexpected ways with Huff, Uribe and Torres making contributions. Posey is the real deal as a hitter, and the Panda probably has a run in him pretty soon. I keep expecting the offense to crash, but it hasn't happened yet. They don't need to score a ton of runs with that pitching staff.

Bear (PHX)

Any chance a deal could work to send Fukudome to BOS & Lowell to the Cubs? Or would Kosuke's 2011 guarantee wreck it?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:45 PM)

Bear, Fukudome is a more productive player than Lowell, but I can't imagine the Red Sox are real enthused about being on the hook for $12 million, or whatever it is he's owed in 2011.

Frank (Denver)

I have read Paul O'Neil played on the winning side in three perfect games and Alfredo Griffin played on the losing side in three.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:45 PM)

Frank, OK. Well, so much for the Joe Maddon answer. Thanks.

Steve (Blacksburg, VA)

Nobody is noticing but Josh Hamilton is on fire and looks like his 2008 self again.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:46 PM)

Steve, I did notice that recently. It's always a question of health with Hamilton, and sometimes you have to hold your breath with the guy. But it's nice to see him mashing again. Any chance we can sign him up for the All-Star Game Home Run Derby?

Dan (Rhode Island)

Jerry - What do you think has been the biggest reason for the Yankees' success? a.) The balance of the starting rotation b.) Contributions from little guys like Gardner/Cervelli/etc. To add to that, is Gardner as good as he has shown - can he keep this up?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:48 PM)

Dan, Everybody expected the starting rotation would be good (although I'm not sure people expected Phil Hughes to be on a 20-win pace). I think the contributions from Gardner, Cervelli & Co. have been the biggest positive for them so far. I talked to a scout a couple of weeks ago who said Brett Gardner's biggest strength is that he doesn't try to be something he's not: He's just looking to get on base, energize that team with his speed, and be in the middle of rallies. He's a great fit for that club.

Bob (Denver)

How about 9 must-sees playing today? Can you get to 9?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:50 PM)

Bob, We don't have time for that now, but it's a great question. I think you have to look mostly at the pitchers -- like Jimenez, Lincecum & Strasburg. Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols are must-sees because they're such tremendous talents and great all-around players, but I don't think anyone goes to see them because of their personal magnetism.

Jason (NJ)

The Angels lost Figgins/Lackey/Vlad in the winter. They lost Kendry Morales for the year due to injury and now Aybar may have a serious knee injury. If the Angels make the playoffs this year, they mine as well name the Manager of the Year Award the Mike Scioscia award, no?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:52 PM)

Jason, In the end, you can probably make a case for the manager of whichever team comes out of the AL West, but Scioscia has done his usual steady job of weathering the ups and downs. A lot of people were ready to bury that team in April. On the other hand, the Halos have won 5 of the last 6 division titles ...

Rickey (His Own Mind)

Jerry - what about Rickey when Rickey was breaking the single season record mark? Rickey thinks he should have been mentioned...

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:53 PM)

Rickey, Good point. I probably should have given you a nod. Sorry about that, big guy.

Jake (Hanford CA)

Jerry,If you're Sabean, do you try to grab Derek Lee when the Cubs become sellers, move Posey behind the plate full-time, and give Bengie his release?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:56 PM)

Jake, The way Derrek Lee has swung the bat for most of this season, I'm not sure how much of an upgrade he'd be. He does come from that area of California though, so maybe he'd be energized by a move to San Fran. I don't know this for sure, but I think the Giants are a little hesitant to throw Posey into the deep end of the pool and be the guy to handle that pitching staff every day. Look how tough the transition has been for Matt Wieters in Baltimore: Maybe it's better for Posey to catch him a couple of times a week and concentrate on his offense right now.

Rob (LA)

Who do you have in today's battle of 22 year-olds - Leake or Kershaw? How about long term?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:57 PM)

Rob, Mike Leake is the safer bet, but he seems like more of a middle of the rotation guy to me long-term. Kershaw has the higher ceiling. Two completely different pitchers.

Greg (Frankfort)

I've been known to head to a CWS game just to see if Ozzie will spontaneously combust. That's almost worth the price of admission.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:58 PM)

Greg, Is that Frankfort, Kentucky? You must really like the thought of watching Ozzie combust to travel that far.

Dan (LA)

Mauer, DeRosa, McCutchen. That was the response on an ESPN LA chat yesterday for which three refs were working game 6 of the Finals. I thought he was making a joke about the referees being so bad they brought in baseball players. Boy was I wrong

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:58 PM)

Dan, Is that true? If so, hilarious. Thanks for sending.

Mike (AZ)

In 2011 could you see the Braves promoting Freeman for 1B and re-signing Glaus for 3B? Seems perfect, right?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:59 PM)

Mike, I just don't think Glaus has the mobility to play third base anymore. I doubt the Braves' pitching staff would be especially thrilled with that move.

Matt (IN)

The answer is Alfredo Griffin..on the wrong side of Len Barker's, Browning's and Denny Martinez'

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:00 PM)

Matt, Thanks for a definitive answer to our quiz. I never would have gotten that one.

Dylan (US Naval Station Newport, RI)

In your article of the top 9 attractions you seem to have left off Ken Griffey Jr. of the mid 90'S. Did you forget him or feel he was not in the stratosphere of the names listed.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:02 PM)

Dylan, I thought about Junior a lot, but to me, he was one of those guys whose brilliance endured for a long period of time. I don't know if there was ever a "mania" or a sense of urgency for fans to go see him play every time he came to town. People who watched him at his peak in Seattle would probably disagree.

Luke (Saint Paul, MN)

The Mauer NBA ref mentioned is Joe's uncle Ken. Dads brother I believe.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:03 PM)

Luke, Thanks for the insight on that one. I appreciate the emails, everybody. Let's do it again next week.