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September 1, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Jerry Crasnick

Jerry Crasnick
  (11:59 AM)

Hi everybody, This week's Starting 9 is posted on the site: It addresses the topsy-turvy managerial scene in baseball. So if you have any questions about your favorite local skipper, feel free to send them along. Let's begin the chat.

Matthew (columbia, nj)

Hey Jerry, why didn't the Phillies make a run at Francour or Ramirez? They need a power hitting right handed bat off the bench

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:01 PM)

Matthew, Manny had $4 million still coming to him, and he can't play the outfield anymore. He's strictly a DH. And the Phillies weren't going to dole out the $$ for him like the White Sox did. As for Francoeur, I just don't think their scouts felt he added anything. He was playing in the same division, they got to see him a lot.

Dennis (Chicago)

Jerry, Do you have a vote for the AL MVP this year? I am surprised that Paul Konerko has not received more national attention. He is in the Top 6 in Triple Crown categories, 4th in OPS, and hits in a lineup that is much weaker than both Cano or Hamilton. Your thoughts?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:03 PM)

Dennis, Konerko has been great, but Hamilton has more hits, doubles and a higher OPS, and he plays a more demanding position. He also plays for a team that's leading its division. Cano is also a good defender, and a 2B is going to beat a 1B every time the offensive numbers are comparable. For what it's worth, Hamilton and Cano both have much higher WAR numbers than Konerko does.

Steve (Middletown, CT)

Does Felix Hernandez have any shot at winning the Cy Young award? Other than win-loss record all his numbers are better than Sabathia and if he played for any other team he'd probably be the one with 18 wins. Thoughts?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:05 PM)

Steve, In past years I would have said no, but Felix's numbers are so staggeringly good, he might have a shot. The voters showed last year that they're willing to put W-L totals aside and focus on the other numbers. That said, Sabathia is 18-5 and Felix is 10-10. That's a pretty big gap.

Jason (NJ)

Felix Hernandez leads the AL in IP and is tied in K's. Also, he is 2nd in ERA and tied for 3rd in WHIP. Cy Young AL winner?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:06 PM)

Jason, I know I just answered another Felix question, but I had one more point to make: He threw 238 innings last year, and he might throw 250 this year. He's 24 years old. I know he's pushing for a Cy Young award, but isn't it time for the Mariners to ease off the accelerator? It's not as if that team has anything to play for.

Jason (NJ)

The Padres have lost 6 straight games. Are you surprised they didn't acquire a SP to stablize things with Latos innings/Correia's performance concerning them?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:07 PM)

Jason, I know Jed Hoyer tried, but the Padres focused the bulk of their time and effort on upgrading the offense by bringing in Ludwick and Tejada. After Lee, Oswalt and Lilly, I'm not sure how much of an upgrade most of these other guys are, anyway.

Steve (Middletown, CT)

I know if either Pujols or Votto win the Triple Crown the NL MVP won't be up for discussion. However, if neither of them win the Triple Crown does Roy Halladay have a case? He's been the only Phillie to really stay healthy for the whole season and he's been great all year long.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:08 PM)

Steve, I love Roy Halladay, but I'm only going to take a pitcher for MVP if no position players are worthy. And both Votto and Pujols are building strong cases for the award.

TJ (CT)

Hey Jerry, What has happened to Jeter over the last month, I thought he would pick it up with the hitting and raise his average, but he is not even hitting the ball solidly very often. Do you think Jeter will hit .265 for the remainder of his career or is this just and off season?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:10 PM)

TJ, Great question. He's got a .708 OPS, the lowest since his first year with the Yankees. The numbers show that Jeter has been much less selective and is swinging at a lot more balls outside the strike zone. Sometimes that happens to older players, because they lose some bat speed and have to start their swings earlier. I'm not sure if that's true in Jeter's case. One thing I will say: I'd never underestimate that guy's ability to bounce back.

Adam (San Francisco)

Has anyone noticed Cargo's home/road splits? People need to calm down.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:11 PM)

Adam, Thanks for pointing that out. CarGo has a 1.212 OPS at home and a .702 OPS on the road. But the whole Rockies team has been great at home offensively and bad on the road. It might be time for the Denver Post to launch another humidor investigation.

Matt (NJ)

Can we show some love for the Francoeur trade, instead of the question of will Manny lose the locks? At least Frenchy can play some defense, and is on a team that actually will make the postseason.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:13 PM)

Matt, I'm glad for Francoeur, because he's a good kid and it's nice to see him playing for a team in the hunt. That said, he's strictly a complementary piece for the Rangers, barring some unforeseen injury issues there.

Kenny (Atl)

how concerned are you, as well as scouts you've talked to, about Tommy Hanson's delivery and ability to stay healthy? If he does remain healthy, can he be a top 5-10 starter?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:14 PM)

Kenny, I've asked people about Tommy Hanson a few times, and everybody tells me he's just going through the inevitable growth pains. If it can happen to Tim Lincecum, it can happen to anybody. If he's healthy, I think he's a front of the rotation guy. Among the 5-10 best in baseball? He has a ways to go to enter that stratosphere.

J (Milwaukee)

Hey Jerry, do you think that WAR is a good gauge of a player being that it's so much of a hypothetical?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:16 PM)

J, My problem with WAR is that I don't trust all the defensive rankings I see. These systems seem to be all over the map on who's good and who isn't. As Rob Neyer pointed out, the Pitch FX technology might help change that. I'd love to see that happen.

Paul S (Boulder Creek,CA)

Will Tony LaRussa be back in St.L? Also Dusty Baker to Dodgers, is it possible?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:17 PM)

Paul, Who the heck knows with Tony? Just when you think he's burned out there, he might get ticked off and decide he wants to come back with a vengeance. My gut tells me he's back with the Cardinals in 2011. As for Dusty, I think it's going to be hard for the Reds not to re-sign him if they make the playoffs. They just have to figure out the finances.

Jim (Scranton, PA)

Rank the top 5 stadiums you've been to.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:18 PM)

Wow, Great question. I love Dodger Stadium. Others: Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Camden Yards. Among the new parks, I really love PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Rob (Tacoma, WA)

Jerry, what are the chances Michael Pineda begins the year in Seattle in the starting rotation?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:20 PM)

Rob, We'll see. The Mariners shut Pineda down early this season, so I assume they'll have to manage his workload again in 2011. To me, that's probably conducive with starting him in the minors. I'm sure a lot depends on whether he wows them in spring training.

Jim (Scranton, PA)

What is the best pick for the Mariners job? Seems like the only reason they like Cora is for the nostalgia of '95.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:21 PM)

Jim, Bobby Valentine would make sense there for a lot of reasons, but I'm not sure how he feels about managing a team that might not be very good for the next couple of years. I think you're selling Cora short. A lot of baseball people think he'll make a very good manager.

Granderson (SeaTac, WA)

Is Edgar Martinez a HoF?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:23 PM)

Granderson, I gave it a lot of thought and ended up voting for Edgar for the HOF. I just have a hard time excluding a guy who has a higher career OBP than Stan Musial.

Paul S (Boulder Creek,CA)

Who are scouts more concerned with, Lincecum or C. Lee?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:24 PM)

Paul, I would say Lincecum, just because he's younger, such a little guy and exerts so much energy in his motion. I think Cliff Lee is just in a temporary funk.

Jim (Scranton, PA)

Dave Cameron said that LaRussa has managed himself out of the ST. Louis job. Do you agree?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:26 PM)

Jim, I can't say I agree with that. The guy has an amazing resume and he's involved in every big decision in that organization. And now the Cardinals have had a bad second half, and someone is going to walk into his office and tell him he's history? I think the dynamic in St. Louis is a lot more complicated than that.

Andrew (Montgomery, AL)

Do you think Jerry Manuel will keep his job? No one could win with that many injuries could they?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:28 PM)

Andrew, You could argue that given the injuries, the lack of performance by Bay, Beltran and other staples, that the Mets are about where they should be -- a .500 team. But Fred and Jeff Wilpon aren't happy with the way things have gone this season, so someone will have to pay. It could be Minaya and Manuel, but I get the feeling Manuel is definitely gone.

Jason (St Louis)

I've given up on this season. The Cardinals just don't have that fire right now. Do you think it has anything to do with TLR? Has this group of guys quit playing for him?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:29 PM)

Jason, I'm not sure. There's probably something to that, given how lousy the Cardinals have played against mediocre teams. As I mention in my Starting 9, La Russa plans to talk to the St. Louis players and coaches after the season and gauge the sentiment for him coming back. He might get some interesting responses.

Kyle (Cleveland)

What are your thoughts on Mike Minor so far? And what are you hearing from scouts on the kid? Thanks!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:30 PM)

Kyle, The Braves absolutely love the kid. They think he's a gamer and a front of the rotation guy for years to come. And if there's one thing you can say about the Braves, they know pitching.

Bobby (New Jersey)

Omar Infante is about 10-15 at-bats from qualifying for a batting title. With him playing every day now, do you think he will keep up his .340 average, stop all this triple crown talk, and help justify his all star selection that was so highly criticized?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:32 PM)

Bobby, Omar Infante is a very good player, although he might be a little over his head at .340. The objections to him making the All-Star Game weren't a personal slam at him. It was more a commentary on the goofy selection process, and the fact that he hadn't logged many ABs at the time of his selection.

Ira (New York)

Hey Jerry, Any chance the Mets wise up and bring back Bobby V? It would get the fans back on board immediately.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:33 PM)

Ira, At this point, I wouldn't rule out anything with the Mets. Although the consensus seems to be that they don't have the $$ to pay Joe Torre, and he might be ready to walk off into the sunset, anyway.

Steve (Illinois)

LaRussa has had a hand in bringing in every player in that organization. Does he think he's going to get an honest assessment from them as to whether he should continue?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:34 PM)

Steve, Good point -- although Tony clashes with enough players that I assume he'll get some honest responses.

Dan (Washington, DC)

Infante made the team over Ryan Zimmerman. It is, will and should be highly criticized!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:35 PM)

Dan, It was a bad pick, no question. But there's a difference between criticizing the pick and the selection process and making fun of a guy who didn't deserve it.

Jason (St Louis)

BTW, I'm a great admirer of the stache. I can always appreciate a good stache. Have we seen the last of Sweet Lou? Think he would be a fit in a front office somewhere down the road, maybe for the Rays?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:36 PM)

Jason, Thanks for the mustache love. I personally think Lou Piniella is burned out on managing, but he'd be a great front office resource for somebody. And since he lives in Tampa, I could see an adviser or consultant role down the road. That's just me talking -- not Stu Sternberg, Matt Silverman or Andrew Friedman.

Jeff (MN)

How about Danny Velencia? Would like to see more power, but great D, hitting .320. Finally a long term solution at 3rd for the Twins... At least until Sano is ready.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:37 PM)

Jeff, I'm really impressed with what I've seen from Valencia. He seems really poised and matured, and the ball jumps off his bat.

Jason (Bay Area)

You is ur NL ROY??

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:38 PM)

Jason, It's a jumbled race. For a while I thought Garcia, then Posey, and now Jason Heyward is making a late run. Doesn't matter anyway: I'm an AL ROY voter this year.

Mike (New York)

What cap does Lou wear when he enters the HoF?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:40 PM)

Mike, Since the Hall of Fame doesn't do "composite" candidates, I'm not sure Lou makes it to Cooperstown. He played with the Yankees, won a WS as a manager with the Reds, and achieved the bulk of his managerial success with Seattle. One thing I can say for sure: It won't be a Rays or Cubs cap.

Rob (TX)

Ok, who gets your vote for AL ROY then?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:41 PM)

Rob, Probably Neftali Feliz, although I've been impressed with the way Austin Jackson has hung in there through a long season. It's funny, but I'm not hearing much from Brennan Boesch supporters these days.

Jack (Toronto)

Any chance Jose Bautista gets some AL MVP votes? I know they don't usually go to players on 4th place clubs, but this is a team many predicted would lose 95-100 games this year and here the Jays sit at 6 games over .500.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:42 PM)

Jack, He should crack most top 10 lists, but he has to stand in line behind Hamilton, Cano, Konerko and a few other guys.

Mike (Dallas, TX)

Jerry do you think Josh Hamilton will see alot of the bench down the stretch with his recent run in with injuries and now his knee problems?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:43 PM)

Mike, I wouldn't be surprised. The Rangers need Hamilton to be healthy in October, and they've got enough of a cushion that Ron Washington should be able to rest him in September. It might hurt his MVP run, though. But that's a secondary concern.

Joe (Tampa)

Jerry, as a long time Cards fan I'd love to see LaRussa move on. IMO the guy is wildly over rated. He's a .535 manager who has almost always had loaded teams to work with. Cito has as many WS titles as he does. The only difference this year is the team is failing in the regular season instead of October.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:46 PM)

Joe, I do get the sense that things have gotten stale there, and it might be time for Tony to move on. But as I mentioned earlier, he's such a powerful presence in St. Louis, they're not just going to push him out the door. It has to be a mutual decision. And Tony might look at the team's disappointing performance this year and take it as a challenge. I don't think he'd want to go out on such a down note.

James (New York)

Hey Jerry do you see Jennry Mejia as a #1 or #2 starter down the road for the mets?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:47 PM)

James, There's no question Mejia has the stuff. The big issue at this point is durability. He's one of those guys who might be better served long-term throwing gas out of the back end of the bullpen.

Omar (Kansas)

What are your thoughts on Jair Jurrjens? He seemsoverlooked to me. Is he a top of the rotation guy to you,or more of a solid middle of the rotation guy? Thanks!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:48 PM)

Omar, I get this question a lot. Jurrjens' strikeout to walk numbers, while good, aren't overwhelming. I think he's more of a 2-3 guy than a true No. 1 (Trust me, there aren't many of those). But he's only 24, so he should continue to get better.

Donny (Toronto)

It is possible that this could be the final year for LaRussa, Pinella, Gaston, Cox and Torre. How do you rank them?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:50 PM)

Donny, Wow -- that's a hard question. I'd probably go Cox, La Russa, Torre, Piniella and Gaston. Of course, if I went strictly by championships, Torre and Gaston would be higher. That's just one man's opinion.

Jim (Scranton, PA)

If Tony left STL where would he go?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:52 PM)

Jim, You keep hearing rumors about a Jerry Reinsdorf reunion in Chicago, and there's the Bob Castellini-Walt Jocketty link in Cincinnati. But I don't see Ozzie Guillen or Dusty Baker going anywhere. Maybe Tony takes a year off to recharge and see if something opens up on the West Coast.

Mike (Ohio)

Boesch's BA has dropped nearly 70 points since the all star break. *crickets chirping*

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:53 PM)

Mike, No offense to Brennan Boesch, but it just goes to show the hazards of projecting a career based on a couple hundred at-bats. Boesch still has ability and lots of pop, and he's a very intelligent kid. Now it's up to him to show whether he can adjust to AL pitching and come back strong next year.

Jeff (Indianapolis)

Jerry, will there ever be another player with the class and talent of Stan Musial?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:55 PM)

Jeff, There aren't many. I was in Bobby Cox's office earlier this year, and I was amazed at how he worships Stan the Man. There's something to be said for ability, dignity and class. Do I sound enough like a wistful old geezer now?

Aroldis (Cincinnati)

How'd I look last night?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:55 PM)

Aroldis, Pretty darned impressive. You not only lit up the radar gun -- you lit up an entire ballpark.

Luke (Saint Paul)

Mauer since the all-star break and Morneau going out. .393 Avg, .473 OBP, 1.053 OPS. Twins go from 4 back to 5 up in the Central during that time frame. Theirs your AL MVP...

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:57 PM)

Luke, Thanks for pointing that out. It just goes to show how spoiled we've become with Mauer. He's set the bar so high, everybody takes excellence for granted. It's also worth noting how beaten up he gets behind the plate.

Matt (IN)

When does Big Mac get some heat for this Cards offense? Albert and Holliday have been the same, but others like Schumacher, Ryan and Molina have basically fallen off the map.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:59 PM)

Matt, That's a good point. I'm not one for blaming hitting coaches, but I did write a piece last week on how favorably the Astros have responded to Jeff Bagwell. Most of St. Louis' lineup has been lousy this year, so you have to wonder how well Big Mac has clicked with those guys. I will say this: I don't think it's a lack of effort on his part. From what I've seen, McGwire really grinds it in this job.

Bill (Grand Blanc, MI)

Jerry, I need Ryno in Chicago or my head will explode. What are my chances? It's going to be really hard to drive without a head...

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:00 PM)

Bill, I still think Ryno is the frontrunner there, but you never know. Jim Hendry is a big fan of Fredi Gonzalez. That's definitely one to watch.

Lisa (Florida)

Jerry - How did you miss Joe Girardi on your Starting 9? Say it ain't so. . .

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:01 PM)

Lisa, I'll ask the same question: How did you miss the first few paragraphs? I devoted them to Girardi and his situation and explained why he's not on the list.

Joe (New Jersey)

Why do so many people have such a hard time stomaching the thought of CC Sabathia being the favorite for the AL Cy Young? I know other pitchers have better peripheral stats - specifically Felix Hernandez - but he pitches in a brutal division full of bandbox stadiums. Wins may not be the be all and end all that they used to be, but would it be a national outrage if Sabathia took home the Cy Young?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:02 PM)

Joe, Not at all. I picked Sabathia as my preseason AL Cy Young Award winner (one of the few times I ever might be right on these things). He's had to carry a big share of the load considering everything that's gone wrong with the Yankees' rotation. I'm fine with him as the AL Cy.

Matt (IN)

Yes Jerry I read the Bagwell article. I've seen him the past 2 days against the Cards and he looks like he could still put up a .300 30-100 line!

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:03 PM)

Matt, If Bagwell could do that, trust me, he would: The guy still wants to play. And he could use that .300-30-100 line to help get his Hall of Fame candidacy over the hump.

Mike (San Diego)

Jerry, it's not that Mac isn't clicking with the Cards hitters. Have you seen their lineup??? I was back home in St. Louis and saw them play a game against the Giants where Pedro Feliz was batting FIFTH. Their lineup just isn't very good. It's a bunch of punch and judy hitting middle infielders.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:05 PM)

Mike, I see the point, but guys like Skip Schumaker, Yadier Molina and Brendan Ryan all went backwards this year. Are they really as bad as their 2011 numbers suggest?

Charlie Manuel (Hicksville, USA)

Do I stand a chance for manager of the year? Given all the injuries, the fact my Phils are still in the Wild Card lead is pretty impressive.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:07 PM)

Charlie, It's impressive. But if the Padres hang on, there's no way you're winning that award over Bud Black. And Dusty Baker is going to finish ahead of you, too. Nobody expected much from their teams. Your club was picked to win it in spring training. That's a recipe for Manager of the Year irrelevance.

Lisa (Florida)

Goodness, you are right Jerry. I skipped right to the list and ignore the intro. Sorry!

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:08 PM)

Lisa, Trust me -- I'm sure you're not the only reader who'll make that point to me today.

Alex (Austin)

Dontrelle figured prominently in your book. Are you still following him now and do you expect to see him with the Giants in September?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:09 PM)

Alex, I recently heard that the Giants might call Dontrelle up in September, but I haven't followed up on that. He's a great guy and tremendous for the game. I think everyone is rooting for him to make it back. Maybe it'll happen in somebody's bullpen.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:09 PM)

Thanks for the questions, everybody. I enjoyed it. Let's do it again next week.