The hype machine is now trying to get Stephen Strasburg on the All-Star team. The next step would be to get him to start the game. As I've said on our chat before, I think he's going to be a great pitcher, and there will be All-Star games he'll deserve to be on, but I find it hard to believe that a guy should make the team after three starts. There are other players that will be deserving of the selection, and you will have to throw one of those players off in order to put him on. Obviously we have made him a great story, but I think we have to be careful, because we overhype everything in this day and age.
Joe, has Robinson Cano finally reached his potential or is there more to come?
I don't know if there is more to come, but he's a great player, and you can't always measure a great player by numbers, so I don't know what you mean by "potential". To ask, is there more to come? I don't know.
Do you think the Cardinals will or should make a move at the trade deadline? If they do what do you think they will go after?
After Wainwright and Carpenter, their starting pitching could be helped. Like everyone else in baseball, their bullpen could use another arm. Their real problem as far as I'm concerned is that some of the guys who hit so well last year will have to put up better numbers. Eventually people will stop pitching to Pujols entirely, and Matt Holliday on occasion. I still think they need to get more contributions from Ryan, Schumacker, and Rasmus.
Hi joe, do you see the phillies taking over the nl east lead at the end of the season?
I picked them to win the division at the beginning of the season, but after watching the bullpen still struggle lately and their offensive struggles, I'm still not sure. The Braves' starting pitching is the reason I thought they would be a contender, and since they're getting Jurrjens back soon, I think they'll be back in the race. Anytime you have pitching problems and they fact that they're without a great rotation outside of Hamels and Halladay -- how much can you actually count on Jamie Moyer? They have a few problems. They're not playing well offensively, although Ryan Howard has started to be the most consistent hitter on that team.
Howard has been the leader of that team in the second half each of the past couple of years, helping them get to the World Series. Even though I picked them at the beginning, though, I'm not as sure now.
Who's will be the NL Central Champs?
St. Louis has Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, so anytime you have guys like that on your team, particularly Pujols, you have the edge, but they still do not have great starting pitching. The offense is not as consistent as I thought it would be. I think they're still favored, but don't underestimate the Reds. They're a talented team and are getting Volquez back. They're underrated offensively.
Hi Joe,The Red Sox score more runs per game on the road than every AL team except the Rays. Why do you think the Red Sox hit so well on the road?
They went through a stretch where they were hitting well. Don't get too excited over that point. They won't hit as well going forward. They're very good in Boston for obvious reasons, but I don't think they will be a great road team at the end of the season. Everything is clicking now, and they look great. Everything still depends on how Big Papi performs. He is the left-handed thump they need in the lineup. Victor Martinez is starting to play better, but I just don't believe they're a great offensive team on the road.
Joe! Thanks for chatting with us. Question, what was it like to play in the bigs at age 19?
I didn't get the hype that they got! I probably also didn't deserve it. I was Texas League MVP the year before, but I wasn't a stud. Obviously it was great for me to get started at a young age. Now we hype guys and young players more than ever before, sometimes to their detriment. When you hype them as much as we do, you're never satisfied with what they do unless they have super numbers. They need to learn to play in the big leagues, learn their strengths and weaknesses, and only then will they become good players. Heyward has learned that it takes more than a hot start to have a great season. He has to learn to adjust to those low points. It's something you need to learn to do. Strasburg hasn't had to struggle yet, and he will. The teams he's pitched against are not great-hitting teams -- Pittsburgh, Cleveland, the White Sox. We'll have to wait until he faces a good-hitting team, then we'll see what adjustments he can make.
What is your favorite MLB Stadium that you Played at in your Career?
I enjoyed different stadiums for different reasons. Of course I loved Cincinnati because it was home. I enjoyed playing in the Astrodome when it first opened. It was a unique experience to play indoors. I thought L.A. was a special place. I didn't get to play a lot of games in Yankee Stadium, but that was a special place. I guess those were my favorites. I always enjoyed playing in Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
One of my least favorite parks was Shea Stadium -- the airplane noise and wind were annoying. I like Citi Field, though.
What do you think is the Yankees biggest weakness this year?
Their offense is not as good as I'd thought. Teixeira is way down from last year. Rodriguez is not making the same contributions he did last year. That takes a lot away from your offense when your power hitters are down. Cano is having a great year, and Swisher has done well early on, but can you count on him to be the guy? Vasquez has started to pitch better, but A.J. Burnett got lit up last night. I thought they would win a lot because of their starters and offense, but none of that seems to be consistent right now. That's why they went into last night with a one-game lead over Boston. The Yankees will have to regroup for the second-half run. Boston's starting pitching is getting better even without Becket -- whichever team of the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox gets it together first will win. It'll be a good race down the stretch. My thing has always been starting pitching -- it's still the most important part of the staff, not the bullpens.
Two part question for you, Joe: Do you think the Mets will land a top-line starter in the next month? Do you think they can make the playoffs without one?
They had all winter to land one, and they didn't. I'm not sure they can do that now. It would be easier to pick up a free agent or trade in the winter than to do so at the deadline, because everyone wants more at the deadline. I don't think they can beat Atlanta's staring pitching unless Maine comes back and pitches like Pelfrey, and Santana comes back and pitches well. A lot of things are happening to keep the Mets in the race, but there are a lot of ifs there. It won't be easy to get a starter, and they need one.
Joe, with the emergence of Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez, is Ryan Howard now only the 4th best hitting first baseman in the NL?
Are you kidding? Ryan Howard's the only guy besides Pujols that does what a first baseman is supposed to do -- he hits home runs, drives in runs, and leads his team to the World Series. Everyone took a shot at his contract -- he's been Rookie of the Year, MVP, and led his team to a World Championship and two consecutive World Series appearances. Has anybody done that other than Pujols? None of those guys have done that. I wonder why no one questions Matt Holliday's similar contract -- he's never won an MVP award or won a World Series. His numbers were put up in Colorado, where everyone puts up big hitting numbers. He's the second-best first baseman in the league, not fourth-best.
Joe, what does the future look like for Adrian Gonzalez? I know before the season started there was talk that he would be leaving to Boston, but now San Diego is playing well. Will he stay until the end of the year?
He'll stay as long as they're in contention, but we'll have to wait and see where the teams are at the deadline. I thought he was going over the winter, but that didn't happen. You can't trade him if they're leading their division.
Who should the Mets bench once Beltran returns? Pagan seems to be playing much better than Francouer right now. What do you think about this situation?
Francouer has been real streaky. He got off to a great start, then he's dropped down to less than .200. But he's swinging the bat well again. I guess when he's in a streak, you take out Pagan, but once he's not hitting well, then he should be the one to sit. Pagan adds some speed to your team and can win a game in a lot of ways.
Hey Joe, Have you been watching any of the world cup?
I'm watching it right now! I think the U.S. will win against Algeria tomorrow. They haven't come out with a sense of urgency recently and have played well once behind, but I think they'll win tomorrow.
Good to chat with everyone, even though I may not agree with some of your ideas. I can understand where you're coming from. A lot of it has to do with what you read in the newspaper, about the hype of Strasburg and the questions about Ryan Howard. Let's just let Strasburg's ability catch up with the hype.