Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 8, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:02 PM)

Boy, it's been one crazy opening week, hasn't it? Lots to chat about. So let's get going.

Jay (Philly)

If you could hack into the ESPN database and change your World Series pick, would you?

Jayson Stark
  (1:03 PM)

I think the Red Sox wish I'd do that! One of their people actually begged me not to pick them to win in spring training. The heck with the Curse of the Bambino. They're more worried about the Curse of Stark!

leroy T wilmington de [via mobile]

Do u think boston should b worried after starting 0-6

Jayson Stark
  (1:05 PM)

Let's try to get these Red Sox panic-attack questions out of the way early. I think that's still a potentially great team. But if history is any guide, they've dug themselves quite a canyon. There have been 46 teams since 1900 that started 0-6. Only six of them wound up with a winning record. And none of them won 90 games.

Nick (Champaign, IL)

Hey Jayson, How would a drastic drop off in Pujols' numbers or perhaps an injury this season affect his market value this fall?Would his career production thus far trump any slump this season?

Jayson Stark
  (1:07 PM)

Why would he have a drastic dropoff? He's had a rough week. But I always judge large bodies of work in cases like this, not small samples. So if he's healthy, Albert will hit. And if he hits, he'll get paid. Somebody will pay him. Trust me. He's Albert Pujols!

Mitch (North Carolina)

Do you think the Orioles will end up with 85 wins or more this year?

Jayson Stark
  (1:09 PM)

I would have gone lower a week ago. I know that. I was thinking .500 would be a great year for that team coming out of spring training. Now I guess, my question is: Should I ever bet against Buck Showalter. They're 39-24 since he got there. They were the '62 Mets before he got there. He's David Copperfield, this guy. But I still think 85 is a little too high.

Bobby (Dallas)

So...the Rangers are going 162-0, right? (All kidding aside, they look amazing right now)

Jayson Stark
  (1:11 PM)

That's a team on the rise. No doubt about that. My only question is where their rotation goes from here, with three starters out and Brandon Webb's future still highly uncertain. But this is a lead-the-league kind of offense. They catch it all over the diamond. Love the power arms in the bullpen. Scary team.

Jack (DC)

Can the Orioles be this season's Giants, Padres or Rays? Buck for the Hall of Fame if he turns this ship around this year, right?

Jayson Stark
  (1:13 PM)

Boy, lots of Orioles questions today. Orioles fans live! I like them. I just don't see them as a 90-win kind of team. I don't see where they have pitching in the same class as those three teams you named, despite how they've pitched so far. And in the AL East, that's going to be the big separator.

Matt (Pittsburgh)

Will the Pirates finish the season above .500?

Jayson Stark
  (1:14 PM)

I'd love to tell you yes. But take a step back and look at their pitching. How many nights a week will you look at the starting-pitching matchup in a Pirates game and say to yourself, "Advantage Pirates." Not very often. And until they reach that point, I don't see how they can get to 82 wins and beyond.

Morgan Gray (Toronto, Canada)

With both Boston and Tampa Bay struggling out of the gate is it realistic to believe that both teams will bounce back and be in playoff contention? Any opinion on how the Blue Jays have started out and their chances of making a push for the playoffs now that we have six games under our belts?

Jayson Stark
  (1:16 PM)

I think the Blue Jays are the best under-the-radar team in baseball, to be honest. I think they're going to hit. Their offense isn't as one-dimensional as it was last year. I think John Farrell has a chance to be a great manager. I think Dwayne Murphy is proving he's one of the best hitting coaches in the business. And while I don't know how these pitching pieces will fit together, they have big arms stacked up all the way back to double-A. They're not built to win this year. But I really like their direction.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Saw an article where the writer refered to Tulo as the player most capable of wresting Best player mantle away from Pujols...is he the 2nd best player in the league?

Jayson Stark
  (1:17 PM)

He was my MVP pick, so I'm not going to argue. The thing about him is, it's more than talent. He plays with so much energy, and he's such a leader, he's more than the sum of his WAR, if you know what I mean.

Johnny (NYC)

What's a realistic move the Reds could make mid-season that would put them over the top? Are they teh class of the NL right now?

Jayson Stark
  (1:19 PM)

That's another team on the rise. They're the next great team in the National League, for me. But they still lack one ingredient you need to win in October. Still don't have that ace-type starter to match up with a Halladay or Lincecum in October. Edinson Volquez shows flashes of ace-type stuff (although he hasn't yet this year). But he doesn't have that No. 1 starter aura. So they'll be shopping for a top-of-the-rotation arm in July, I'd predict.

Mike (San Diego)

Jayson, as a Cardinals fan, the way the team is hitting so far, all I can say is "at least we're not the Rays". When Holliday or Pujols is hurt/not hitting, the lineup kind of stinks. I know Tony isn't worried, but should he be?

Jayson Stark
  (1:22 PM)

I actually agreed with Tony the other day, although I wasn't a big fan of stomping out of the room. That team is built to hit this year and needs to hit, with Wainwright out. They've taken big steps backward this year in pitching and defense, so guys like Berkman and Rasmus in particular need to get it going, or this team is in trouble.

Mike (San Diego)

I think you need to just start intentionally giving Mike and Mike trivia questions where one of the answers is either Helton or Oswalt just so they never forget them.

Jayson Stark
  (1:23 PM)

I might try that! Thanks for the suggestion! We've been thinking about having some kind of competition this year - correct Mike and Mike trivia answers versus Omar Vizquel home runs, or something like that. Any ideas?

Joseph (Sacramento, CA)

The Nats start Ian Desmond at SS, Danny Espinosa at 2B and Wilson Ramos at C. Can you provide any insight into what opposing scouts think of this trio? Thanks.

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

Big fans of all of them. They love how Desmond plays with an attitude, like Espinosa's offensive upside and think Ramos has a chance to be a star. Good up-the-middle group to build around.

Todd (Philly)

Jayson - what are your thoughts on the potential Alex Gordon finally puts it together this season - he is off to a (better) start finally....

Jayson Stark
  (1:26 PM)

Too soon to say. But scouts who have watched him going back to the spring think he's had a better approach. Better at-bats. More prone to use the whole field. If he can stay with it, he could finally realize some of that potential. I hope so.

Pam (Philadelphia)

Should we be worried about Cole Hamels?

Jayson Stark
  (1:27 PM)

He's had awful command since the middle of spring training. But he's throwing 95 miles an hour. And he had the lowest ERA of any lefthanded starter in baseball after July 1 last year. If that's your team's biggest worry, life is good!

Jim (Philadelphia)

Should we be worried about Phillies fans who are already worried about Cole Hamels?

Jayson Stark
  (1:28 PM)

Yes! But these people have that worry gene all over their DNA. Can't help themselves.

Paul (Albany, OR)

Can the Dodgers stay in contention because of their pitching. I know Billingsley was not great in Colorado, but with Kershaw and Billingsley leading things off, followed by Lilly and Kuroda, I like the way that stacks up each week. Your thoughts?

Jayson Stark
  (1:30 PM)

I haven't reached the point yet where I trust Billingsley. But if all four of those guys pitch the way they can and Garland comes back and contributes, that's potentially one of the deepest rotations in baseball.

Bob (Boise)

A quick question about the reigning champs...even though they have a losing record, I like what I've seen thus far. You? Also, what do you think about Belt?

Jayson Stark
  (1:33 PM)

They had a great spring. So it's tough to make too much out of a week on the road in L.A. and San Diego, with the closer out early and then working his way back. Lincecum and Cain look great. But let's see how the other guys pitch, how they sort out their outfield, etc. The most impressive thing about Brandon Belt is the quality of his at-bats. He's clearly a man with a plan. But the down side of having him at first is Aubrey Huff in the outfield. It's not always going to be pretty. You realize that, right?

Jon (NJ)

Jayson, your thoughts on Swisher's slide at second base yesterday resulting in the broken leg?

Jayson Stark
  (1:34 PM)

I saw nothing wrong with that slide, and neither did the Twins. Bert Blyleven said on Mike and Mike this morning that Ron Gardenhire told him he's been worried since spring training that Nishioka wasn't getting out of the way on the double-play relay and he had a chance to get hurt. What a shame, though. He looked this spring like he had a chance to be a mini-Ichiro.

Jay (St. Pete, FL) [via mobile]

What can the Rays do to fix their offensive woes? That seems to be the bulk of their problems right now.

Jayson Stark
  (1:38 PM)

Obviously, guys like Manny and Damon have to hit. And if they ever get a lead, they can get their running game going. But let's look at this question in a slightly different perspective. One thing scouts have observed is that these hitters need to be more aggressive. The hitting coach believes in taking a lot of pitches, but the result with this group has been too many deep counts that are ending in whiffs. How 'bout this ratio: 52 strikeouts, 27 hits by the offense. I've never seen a whole team do something like that for a week. So what I'm saying is, they might need to try a different approach.

Chris (Southern California)

Jayson, how do you think the Padres will fare this season? Do you think they can surpass last season's effort?

Jayson Stark
  (1:40 PM)

They would really need to hit the lottery on guys like Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu to score enough to win 90 again. Just have a tough time seeing that happening, although one thing about Petco: Doesn't matter who's in the lineup. Nobody scores!

Ruth (Boulder CO)

Rockies fan - some young pitching with Chacin and Rogers. Both had good first games. How many games to determine if they are for real (how long do I keep holding my breath when their turn in the rotation comes up)?

Jayson Stark
  (1:41 PM)

They both have great stuff. But I think Chacin is ahead of Rogers in pitchability. And that's big in Coors. Scouts who have seen them both think Chacin has a chance to win 12-15 games. Rogers is still more of a work in progress.

Mark (Allentown)

Jayson, not a panicked BoSox fan here, but an observer of the schedule. Could the Yankees deliver a TKO in April?

Jayson Stark
  (1:43 PM)

Oops. I forgot I was going to get the Red Sox panic-attack questions out of the way early and then move on. Anyway, this has turned into a huge series. If the Red Sox win two out of three, they're only three back of the Yankees. If the Yankees sweep, then we're talking a seven-game spread. I don't normally use terms like "huge series" on April 8. But I'm making an exception in this case.

Joseph (Sacramento, CA)

Thoughts on Jayson Werth batting 2nd for the Nats? Personally, I believe more teams should put one of their best hitters in the 2 spot (hello Atlanta and Jason Heyward!). Thanks.

Jayson Stark
  (1:45 PM)

I have no problem with that. Jayson Werth's No. 1 offensive attribute is all the pitches he sees and the OBP he generates. He's never been a 3-hole or 4-hole hitter. He scuffled with runners in scoring position last year. So why not use his skill set where it fits best? At some point, I'm guessing this lineup will evolve to where he drops down lower in the order. But the people taking pot shots at this move or at him are just looking for an excuse to take pot shots. This makes a lot of sense if you really break it down.

Mike (San Diego)

Mike and Mike correct trivia answers vs. combined stolen bases for the Molina brothers. Although Yadi somehow had 8 last year.

Jayson Stark
  (1:47 PM)

Fun idea, but that number is too high. How about Molina brother triples!

Mark (Boise)

It is clear that Tejada will not cut it at short for the Giants and there is no-one ready in the system. Any guess as to who might be attainable via trade by mid-season.

Jayson Stark
  (1:48 PM)

I was on the Michael Kay show the other day on ESPN-New York, and they were already speculating about a Jose Reyes-to-the-Giants deal. The Giants don't tend to make trades like that, but not a bad name.

Tom (McKinney, TX)

Mike and Mike correct trivia answers vs Elvis Andrus homers

Jayson Stark
  (1:49 PM)

Another excellent idea. It's Elvis 1, Mike and Mike 0 so far, if you're scoring at home.

Ed (Dowingtown, PA)

Will Ben Francisco make Phillies fan forget Werth?!

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

I hear this talk all the time. I think people in Philly are getting carried away with Francisco's hot start, to be honest. As he gets more playing time and teams get a more defined book on him, that will be the test. Is he going to hit good pitching? Is he going to hit good breaking balls? We don't know that yet. But we know Jayson Werth could battle the great closers, could grind out at-bats against ace-type starters. The book on Francisco is: Mistake hitter. The good staffs don't make those mistakes. So it's going to be interesting to see how he fares as he goes along.

Alan (San Francisco)

What team will lose 100 games this year?

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

Astros look like the winner of the most-likely-to-lose-100 pool to me.

Nate (Oregon)

Kazmir, a bad start away from finishing his MLB career?

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

I don't know about that. But his stuff has gone way backward. And the Angels aren't in a position to make his leash much longer. Stay tuned.

Steve (Texas)

What aces do you think are most likely to be available at the deadline this year?

Jayson Stark
  (1:55 PM)

There might not be any, to be honest. I mentioned the other day in Rumblings and Grumblings that teams don't expect Felix Hernandez to be out there. And I'm very dubious that Chris Carpenter will get traded. The names I tossed out there the other day were Wandy Rodriguez and Mike Pelfrey, although it would be tough to call either of them "aces."

Groundhoggator (FLorida)

Mike and Mike correct trivia answers vs Yanks/Bos sub 4 hr games

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

I like this! Not sure if anybody saw this. But when I asked Curtis Granderson this spring what the Yankees' best dance move would be if the season were an episode of "Dancing with the Stars," he said, "Our games don't move too fast, so it would have to be something like a waltz."

Mark (Allentown)

So here's question for you... If Vizqueal plays this year and next and gets his 3000 hits, does it change is HOF changes? I believe if Ozzie is in Vizquel should also be there, but I know many do not agree.

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

I've said this before (and I know some disagree): I think Omar Vizquel is a Hall of Famer. Look up how many shortstops in history got this many hits and won this many Gold Gloves, and start kicking it around. Then here's my favorite stat on Omar (which is in my Stark Truth book): As many seasons with five errors or fewer as all the other shortstops in history combined!

Jayson Stark
  (2:00 PM)

Well, it's that time again. I'm afraid I only have time for one more.

Rob (OH)

How many saves does Cordero have to blow before Dusty Baker put Chapman in the closer role?

Jayson Stark
  (2:00 PM)

Verrrry interesting question. Let's just say you're not the only one who thinks Chapman will be closing before the season is out. Stay tuned!

Jayson Stark
  (2:01 PM)

Thanks to everyone who checked in. And thanks for all the fun Mike and Mike trivia-duel ideas. We're thinking hard on this. All suggestions welcome! Have a great weekend.