We've got Joe!
I saw Aroldis Chapman's first appearance live and he is special. He hit 103.9 on the gun and his slider was devastating. His slider reminded me of Randy Johnson's slider and maybe a little faster. He's the real deal. I think eventually he will be a starter rather than a reliever.
Watching Chapman pitch makes me wonder if the Cuban Missile Crisis is really over. Ok sorry, had to get that out of the way. I'm interested in your thoughts about developing Chapman to be the future closer instead of a starter. It looks like the Reds have a nice cast of young starters already, and could Aroldis throw that hard and have consistent location for 5 plus innings? It could help Cincinnati sell tickets as well. Fans could come to every game with the hope of seeing the fire-throwing Cuban. I'm almost sure you've already had this thought yourself.
My understanding is they're going to make him a starter. Remember this, a great starting pitcher is more valuable than a closer because you get more innings out of him. Every team goes into a season with a certain number of innings that need to be pitched. The more innings a starter throws, the less the bullpen gets stretched.
Do you think Nyjer Morgan received an appropriate punishment for his actions?
My answer is no. I don't know about the first two incidents, I only saw the last one. First of all, if he did something wrong the day before and they decided they wanted to hit him and they did. He got first base and then he stole some bases. They don't control when he stole bases. Everything in my mind on the second day was precipitated by the Marlins. They threw behind him. And who says that you can't steal a base when you're down 11 runs? It seems like all of these unwritten rules are being written by the young players to cover themselves. There is nothing wrong with what he did there. I don't know about the other stuff beforehand, but what he did that day, I don't have a problem with. I don't think he was at fault there.
Do you think Chapman has enough control/command to be a big success as a starter? The speed is great, but once the book on him gets around I think a lot of hitters will start to lay off the slider.
Yes. He hasn't walked a hitter in the innings he has pitched. I just think he's going to be a great pitcher. I saw him in spring training as a starter. He's coming from a different culture. He doesn't speak the language. It takes a while for him to adjust. I've had opportunities to speak with him, I speak a little Spanish, he has a great demeanor. He's very calm on the mound. I think he's going to be a great pitcher.
What is it about Buck Showalter that has turned the Orioles into a decent team? The Rays and Yankees can't seem to beat them.
I've always felt that Buck was a very good baseball man. He knows the game and he stresses fundamentals, which are the more important parts of the game that are lacking on some of these losing teams. They're just not making the same mistakes they were making before.
What Stadium that played their final game ever made you very sad the most?
That's the first time I've ever thought about that. I was just said that it was all ending. It ended in Oakland where I grew up. That might have added a little extra sentiment. I grew up 10 blocks from that stadium and that's where it ended. I would say Oakland. It was my home field at the time. I guess I came full circle, from amateur ball to my final game as a major leaguer.
Can the Padres win in the playoffs given their recent struggles?
Anybody that gets into the playoffs can win. They've proven they can win, they just hit a bad stretch. Even the Yankees who are 30+ games over .500 have hit bad stretches. Maybe not as bad as San Diego. But they've built such a big cushion and they're still in first place. You still have to turn it around and maybe last night was that point.
Phillies/Braves - with 20 or so games to go who wins it? If you HAVE to choose RIGHT NOW?!
The Phillies. But that doesn't mean the Braves won't be able to fight them off. I think the Phillies are the best team in the NL when everything is working properly and everyone's healthy.
Joe, What teams do you think are the best at developing minor league players?
That's a difficult question because at times all of them have developed players. But over a period of time, maybe the Braves. But a lot of teams have. The Phillies brought up Howard, Utley, Rollins, Victorino. But the Braves have been very consistent over the years. I've always liked their philosophy of how they've developed their young players.
Hey Joe, Do you think if the Reds are able to make the playoffs, will they be able to go far or early exit?
Anybody that gets into the playoffs can win the world championship, because it's a short series. The only thing I would say about Cincinnati is that they do not have a true ace like Halladay, Sabathia. I think Volquez, when healthy is as good as anybody. The question will be how healthy he is. When you matchup with a team's No. 1, you need someone to stand toe to toe with him. Volquez is that guy, but he's been injured. Arroyo is an excellent pitcher, but you don't always expect him to pitch a shutout. Same for Cueto. But their team is so good, especially defensively, they can beat anybody on any given day. They have a lot of positives. They run the bases hard, they're excellent defensively. They're a real fun team to watch.
Should I count the Cardinals out now or is there still hope for some October baseball in St. Louis?
Yogi said, it's never over 'til it's over. I've seen it happen, with teams coming from behind late in the season. It's not over. It's going to be a difficult road, but it's not over. The Cardinals still have Carpenter, Wainwright and Garcia. Their problem is when those three leave. That's the difference between them and the Reds. The Reds have more depth in their rotation.
Has Hanley Ramirez surpassed Jeter and Rollins as the best overall SS in baseball?
Yes. I think he is one of the most underrated players in the game, not just SS. He drives in runs, he scores runs, he runs the bases, he plays defense. I think he's the best SS in the game. As most people who have followed me over the years know that I'm a big fan of both Jeter and Rollins, but Ramirez is the best.
Do you know why Javier Vazquez has struggled so much this year?
I'm not so sure it's just the AL or pitching in New York. Some people can handle pitching in New York. The spotlight is bigger in New York than anywhere else. He might not like that. If he were with another AL team, I think he would pitch better.
At what positions is defensive ability more important than offensive ability (i.e. where you would sacrifice a good bat to have a good glove)?
There are several of them. The middle of the diamond. Shortstop, even second base, CF and catcher. A lot of teams will sacrifice offense at those positions for defense. That's the way it was until offensive players came to those positions.
Joe,You've mentioned at other times you are a sports fan, just like us. So, who do you like in this afternoon's Venus - Schiavone quarterfinal tilt out at the USTA-King Tennis Ctr.?
I attened the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York for years. I haven't been for years because of my schedule. I would love to be out there right now, but just can't. My schedule makes it difficult.
Do you think the Red Sox made a huge mistake with the long contracts to Lackey and Beckett? They have both been below average pitchers this year. Will they rebound next year?
I'm not so sure that they made a mistake, because everyone overpays now. They have not gotten the performance they've paid for, but you can say that about a lot of contracts. I think I would be more worried about Beckett at this point. Lackey is more of a pitcher and he can get by. Beckett is thrower and he tends to make more mistakes.
As I said last week, the races are getting very interesting. The NL West looked like it was San Diego all the way, but the Giants have rebounded. Don't forget about the Rockies either, they're playing great baseball right now. Even in the AL East, that's not over either. If they can win against the Rays, they're right back in it.
Thanks for chatting Joe!