How about them Reds? They lost three straight games to the Cardinals to fall out of first place about three weeks ago and now they're up by 7 games. That's quite a turnaround, especially against a team like the Cardinals. Also, it's interesting because the Reds lost four straight games to the Phillies just before the all-star break but they've bounced back to get into first place. They've shown a lot of character, especially for a young team.
Do you think CC Sabathia is the frontrunner for the AL CY Young award right now?
I've always said that but everyone seems to think that his numbers don't matter because he pitches for the Yankees. All CC has done is continue to win, while others were talking about Cliff Lee being the best pitcher in the AL. Right now we have many different ways to look at how a pitcher is performing, but the name of the game is to win. I feel that he should be the Cy Young Award winner because he's the only one carrying the Yankees rotation right now. But there's something about the Yankees that people don't want to give him credit for. I'm amazed that Mark Teixiera and Jeter did not get a first place vote for MVP last year.
What is your opinion on the batting woes of the Phillies. Is this something you feel they can come out of any time soon, and can they make the playoffs if it continues?
The amazing thing to me is they fired their hitting coach. He was there when they won back to back pennants and they have not hit better since. They are definitely an offensive led team. They do not have four great starters nor a great bullpen. If their offense continues to struggle, then no they won't make the playoffs. But I expect Ryan Howard to do what they've done and lead the team in September to another championship.
Starlin Castro has been amazing. Any chance he edges Posey for NL ROY?
He came late on the scene, I think that puts him at a slight disadvantage. I'm not going to give the award to Posey. I think he'll be a big star in the league. I'm still a Jason Heyward fan. He got the Braves off to a great start and kept them in the pennant race. If I were voting right now, it would be Heyward, Posey and then Castro. But I have no problem with people thinking Posey would be No. 1.
It's September 1st. The Braves hold a 3 game lead in the NL East. Do they keep it?
I think they can keep it, if the Phillies' bats don't come alive. If they do, I think they can win because the Braves bats aren't as consistent. But they've held on this long, so there's nothing that says they can't hold on another month.
Joe, ready to pronounce the Red Sox done? Eight games and two teams in a month? Can't be done, right?
Well, they only have to leap over one team to get to the playoffs, probably. First, the Red Sox have the best rotation of the teams, if they pitch to their potential. They have to have Beckett pitch as he did in the past and Lackey as he did when he was the Angels' aces. If that happens, it's not over yet. Their chances are slim, but it's not over. The Yankees' starting rotation, other than Sabathia and Hughes, is struggling. Plus they've said they're going to cut down on Hughes' pitch count.
You can't count on young players coming up from the minor leagues to stand up in a tough pennant race.
Joe, is there still a lot of season left, or can we start to make pretty good guesses about who the division winners will be? Your picks?
There is a long way to go. I've seen the Phillies catch the Mets down the stretch. I've seen the Phillies lose big leads at time. There is still a lot of time left. And you don't have to be playing head to head, just look at the Cardinals and Reds. The Reds have picked up 8 games since the Cardinals sweep. It can definitely happen. Things can go wrong. Injuries to key players. A lot of things can go wrong between now and Oct. 3.
What kind of impact do see Manny providing to the South Side ...
I see him providing a big impact. Manny, when motivated, is still a great run producer. He can get hot and carry a teamm for stretches at a time, as he did with the Dodgers a few years ago. It just depends on whether he's motivated or not. He might not be as good as he was before, but he can provide a spark.
Hey Joe. Big fan! I'm curious. When you are in a slump, is there stuff that a player does differently then when they are hitting well, or you have stay inside your strengths and the hits will just come?
No, a lot of times when a hitter goes into a slump, his balance gets out of whack, his timing. A hitter's balance is the most important thing. If you have it and you're swinging properly, the hits will come. For me, you go back to the fundamentals all the time. Seeing the ball and getting your balance back. A lot of times guys will try a lot of different things, change your stance, start guessing. When you do that, that's when slumps get prolonged.
Well Joe, what's your verdict on the 1 inning by Chapman? He's got some heat, that's for sure.
I saw more than one inning when I saw him in spring training. I saw him pitch in Columbus. I've always been impressed with him. With the guys that come from Cuba, they've always pitched in big games and big series and so has Chapman. They're a little ahead of guys coming out of high school and college, so I expected him to be OK with the pressure. I was impressed that he came out and pitched strikes. He's the real deal.
Hey Joe the Reds in '75 and '76 didn't have a single player hit 30 home runs or a pitcher win 20 games. How were you guys so successful without much power and even fewer good pitchers?
First of all, it doesn't matter if you have 5 pitchers win 20 games or 10 pitchers win 10 games, either way it's 100 wins. And I'm not sure if Bench or Foster didn't hit 30, I had 27. But it's all about producing runs, moving runners along. We were a good offensive team. We had speed. We also were a great defensive team. We had four Gold Glove winners up the middle of the diamond.
And our pitching staff actually had a lower ERA than some of the Yankee teams that won the World Series, as well as our bullpen. But we were a great team and you don't measure a great team just by statistics.
Do you think Dusty Baker should win manager of the year?
I think it's between Dusty Baker and Bud Black. I'm closer to Dusty, obviously, but I think Bud in San Diego has done a fabulous job as well. If both win the division, I think the edge should probably go to Bud Black. Besides, Dusty's already won a couple.
Were you disappointed to hear about Strasburg's injury?
Yes. I'm always disappointed to hear about any players injury. I know how hard it is to get to the big leagues and how hard it is to stay there. I know how difficult it is to watch your team play and you can't. Like everyone else, I saw Strasburg becoming a super, super star. I find it interesting that everybody was wanting him to be on the Strasburg team and pushing him for rookie of the year, without giving him a chance to develop as a player. Then, from going the best pitcher in baseball as some have called him, to being injured and everyone saying they see the flaw in his delivery. Washington did everything they could to protect him and Strasburg did too. It's just one of those injuries.
How do you see Mike Rizzo handling the Nats, now that his star phenomen's arm is basically shot for his career?
It's obvious they were making progress. They got Bryce Harper in the draft this year, but he's probably a couple of years away. In a couple of years, the two of them will be the face of the franchise. They've made a lot of positive moves. We'll just have to wait and see how it pans out. They've tried to develop their team through the draft and farm system, which is the right way to do it.
I think that some people are getting too caught up in who's ahead in the pennant race at this moment. Most of the races are still being contested where they're a shift daily. As far as the Reds in the Central, I don't think that's over either. There's still a long way to go. The teams that are trailing still have a shot. Atlanta, San Diego, Yankees, Reds, Twins all have a shot at getting caught. It will be interesting down the stretch as it has been the last few years.
Thanks for chatting Joe!