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May 27, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:05 PM)

Hi. Sorry I'm a few minutes late. I was on the phone. I have a Rumblings and Grumblings column that will be posted this afternoon on whether it's feasible to change the rules to protect catchers and runners from collisions at home plate. I'd love to hear what you guys think. So feel free to weigh in. Now let's get started.

Jayson Stark
  (1:06 PM)

Oh. And one more thing. There WILL be a trivia question at 45 past the hour. So stay tuned.

D Mo (Madison, CT)

Isn't is a bit too convenient that David Einhorn grew up next to Bud Selig - do I smell an inside deal to buy the Mets?

Jayson Stark
  (1:08 PM)

Boy, the conspiracy theorists are already out! A couple of things on that. I don't think Bud Selig is plotting for David Einhorn to take over the Mets. But Bud is always involved in EVERY major ownership development, so it's no coincidence they know each other. Also, as I've written in the past, people all over baseball believe there's no way anyone would have bought a minority stake in the Mets without some assurance or some provision to have that stake grow under certain circumstances. So we haven't heard the end of this saga. Not even close.

Lucas (MD)

If the O's continue to stay competitive in the East, would you trade Vlad, D Lee, L Scott, and/ or Hardy at the deadline or try to make a run at ending the strak of losing seasons?

Jayson Stark
  (1:10 PM)

I normally wouldn't advocate this. But I think it's important to this franchise to make progress in the standings, and to create a climate where these young pitchers grow in a competitive environment. So I'd listen on all those guys if I were Andy MacPhail. But I wouldn't clean house if they were .500 or thereabouts. Agree or disagree?

Jim (Lincoln, NE)

If you're the Giants, how do you let Posey ever get behind the plate again? His value might not be as great as a Left fielder. But it's an awful lot better than as an observer, isn't it?

Jayson Stark
  (1:13 PM)

This is never simple. Not with Buster Posey. Not with Joe Mauer. Not with any catcher who can hit. Did the Reds move Johnny Bench until the very end of his career? These two guys love to catch, and want to catch. And there's massive value to having catchers who are that offensively productive. But both teams have to think long and hard about this, and so do both Mauer and Posey. It would be tragic to have their careers shortened by catching-related injuries.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Simple question: What is wrong with the Rockies? Were they just not as good as we thought they would be?

Jayson Stark
  (1:14 PM)

I've been asking the same thing. And so have they. How could they have anticipated Ubaldo Jimenez not winning a game? How could they have figured Tulo would spiral through this kind of slump? How could they have imagined Ian Stewart would be this bad? They're a team that always seems to get on a roll as the season progresses. But after the April they had, I thought they might be past that. Guess not.

Shawn (CT)

Does Banuelos get the call this year? I was checking his minor league stats and it seems they've got him on a pretty strict limit as it appears he's only pitching 4 or 5 innings per outing. When is he up and when does he make an impact?

Jayson Stark
  (1:17 PM)

I think they believe there's a good chance there won't be a pitcher on the market they can trade for who has his ability. But when you elevate a guy like that and plop him into the middle of a pennant race in New York at his age, you never know what you're going to get. He looks as if he has incredible poise. But he's never pitched against the Red Sox in Fenway, either. So the honest answer is, they're still weighing the answers to your questions.

Ryan (Norwalk CT)

Whats the timetable for Bryce Harper? Are they worried that they might bring him up too soon like they did with Strasburg?

Jayson Stark
  (1:19 PM)

How do you figure they brought up Strasburg too soon? I seem to remember him throwing a 14-strikeout, 0-walk game in his first big-league start. So he was ready. He just got hurt. In Harper's case, not only was he not drafted as a college junior, he should have been a high school junior when he got drafted. So you won't see him before the end of 2012. That's the plan.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

So how do you feel about changing the rules to protect catchers?

Jayson Stark
  (1:20 PM)

As I mentioned, I wrote about that topic in today's Rumblings, which should be posted shortly. I think there are rule changes worth considering -- especially one that says no fielder can block any base without the ball and force the runner to go through him. But the closer you look at these ideas, the harder they are to implement. The column explores all of that. Disagree?

Derrick (Dallas) [via mobile]

Can alexi ogando keep this up the whole year?

Jayson Stark
  (1:21 PM)

You never know how any pitcher is going to hold up physically over the marathon, especially one with a history as unique as Ogando's. But he's for real. His stuff is for real. And his repertoire translates to this gig. So I'm buying.

Kevin (Cleveland)

A lot of questions and stats get thrown around on whether or not Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin is for real-- they say his BABIP is low and he's just getting lucky, he won't keep it up, etc.He looks like an incredibly intelligent pitcher, he's just not going to overpower you. Which comparison is he closer to-- Paul Byrd or Greg Maddux?

Jayson Stark
  (1:23 PM)

I don't throw around Maddux comparisons lightly. But he has that look. What scouts have told me is that they wonder if he can maintain this incredible command of multiple pitches as the season goes on and he starts to feel the workload. But so far, is there anything not to like, other than lack of mid-90s heat? I haven't seen anything not to like.

Matt (Indy)

Give me the scoop on the Cubs. Will getting their starting rotation back be enough to make a push for the division, or are they simply destined to hover around and under that .500 mark and look to make trades come July?

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

Well, they're going to get Randy Wells back in the near future. But it's hard to say what the prognosis is right now for Cashner and Garza. If they don't get their rotation healthy, they'll be sellers. I thought that would be the strength of their team. But they only made one spin through the rotation healthy, and they just don't have the depth to cover for this many rotation injuries.

Scott (Northglenn, CO)

Which is a bigger loss -- Posey to the Giants or DLR to the Rox?

Jayson Stark
  (1:26 PM)

Have to go with Posey. He was more than just the rookie of the year last season. He was practically the MVP. A catcher that good makes an impact on every pitch of every game. As good as De La Rosa can be, he's only out there for six or seven innings every five days.

Fred (Austin, Tx)

In order to protect the catcher, blocking the plate needs to be prevented. Runners would not feel so compelled to move a catcher out of the way. At no other base is the defensive player allowed to impede the runner's progress. What at home plate?

Jayson Stark
  (1:29 PM)

You have second basemen and shortstops take SB throws on one knee, with their leg in front of the bag, and it's never called. But you make a good point. When I brought that up with long-time catchers, though, they disagreed. They talked about Mike Scioscia, who made his whole reputation as a plate-blocker who was willing to take the pounding and actually intimidated baserunners. They also talked about how fine the line is on what constitutes impeding the runner. What do we do about throws up the line? The catcher can't catch those throws without impeding the runner. It's trickier than it seems.

Greg (LA)

With respect to catchers, keep in mind that they have pads and guards, which the infielders don't. When someone slides into an infielder, the infielder faces the risk of injury, and therefore makes it a point to get out of the way. Catchers, who are protected, don't move. So catchers have to be trained not to block the plate. Then runners won't knock them over.

Jayson Stark
  (1:30 PM)

Brad Ausmus also made that point. But I talked to an official of one team who said that if you tell your catchers not to block the plate, and then one of them avoids contact and lets the winning run score in a big game in midseason, you'd have a tough time explaining that to your fans. And to your players, too, I'd imagine.

Fred (Austin, Tx)

"Did the Reds move Johnny Bench until the very end of his career?" No, they did not. But today's teams have a significantly higher investment to consider.

Jayson Stark
  (1:31 PM)

That's a great point, and it's certainly one driving the Mauer debate in particular. But I would argue the Reds had a lot invested in Bench, too -- not so much in salary but in what he meant to that Big Red Machine turning into the dynasty it became.

Ryan (Indy)

I know he probably can't keep up THIS pace, but is Johnny Venters for real? what are his chances of making the All-Star Game despite not being a closer?

Jayson Stark
  (1:32 PM)

He's an amazing story. He's about as unhittable as any reliever I've seen this year, closer or set-up. If the game "counts," how can that guy not be an all-star?

John (Austin)

Why are we so worried now about catchers blocking the plate, because one good player gets hurt? Blocking the plate is part of the game. If the injury would have happened to someone like Humberto Quintero no one would be talking about it.

Jayson Stark
  (1:34 PM)

I agree with that, too. But one point I tried to make in Rumblings is that, unfortunately, we never seem to have these discussions -- about anything -- until after something major forces the issue. So if it took Buster Posey to raise this issue, let's at least use it as an opportunity to explore what's practical and what's not.

Dennis (Atlanta,Ga)

Do the Braves have the minor league pitching to make a deal for a major upgrade in the outfield like a Hunter Pence? Who else would be a fit?

Jayson Stark
  (1:36 PM)

Pence is on their shopping list. And pitching is the strength of their organization. But my sense is that the Astros don't want to trade Hunter Pence this year, because he's become the face of their franchise. So the Braves are going to have to shop elsewhere. Ryan Ludwick? Josh Willingham? Coco Crisp? Michael Cuddyer? Conor Jackson? Those will be names floating in a couple of months unless their teams get it going.

Jason (St Louis)

I don't think Mauer and Posey are comparable in their situations. Mauer is breaking down because he is so big. Posey just got unlucky.

Jayson Stark
  (1:37 PM)

I recognize their health histories are different. Just used them as examples of two catchers who are also great offensive players and are inspiring that debate.

Cody (PA)

What percent do you give the mets trading reyes, wright or beltran? Any chance they resign reyes and/or beltran?

Jayson Stark
  (1:38 PM)

How can they trade David Wright with his back issues? That seems very unlikely. I expect the other two to get dealt if they're not in contention. And believe it or not, I think they'll find it easier to move Beltran than Reyes.

Fred (Austin, Tx)

In the department store of life sports is the Toy Dept. Shouldn't safety take priority over winning? I ask this as a nearly 60 year old fan and consider myself as old school as they come when it comes to baseball. But should my enjoyment of a GAME be more important than a man's health? BTW, I am a lifelong Dodger fan and loved the way Scioscia played, including his blocking of the plate. But I am 30 years older now and I hope my thinking has matured and will continue to. Baseball can give up cherished (but wrong-headed) notions too, just like a reasonable person does.

Jayson Stark
  (1:40 PM)

That's the most eloquent chat post of the year, Fred. Good going. You make this argument perfectly. Safety of players should always be at the top of this sport's priority list. This play was just one more reminder that it often isn't.

Lucas (MD)

What rookies have impressed you so far? Will any be longterm stars?

Jayson Stark
  (1:41 PM)

Just to single out one, if Michael Pineda doesn't turn out to be a bona fide ace, then everything in this sport is an illusion. Incredible stuff, command and presence.

Cory (Seattle, Wa)

Is it more reasonable to outlaw head first slides and running the catcher over then to outlaw blocking of the plate?

Jayson Stark
  (1:42 PM)

You can't outlaw one without the other. If you change these rules, you have to change them for catchers and runners.

Paul (SF, CA)

So speaking of Mauer, any update on his return?

Jayson Stark
  (1:43 PM)

They're hoping mid-June. But at this point, you'll never hear the Twins set any date for Joe Mauer's return. No upside in that!

Jeff (Queens)

Are any of Hosmer, Smoak, Freeman, or Belt top 5 1B in 2013?

Jayson Stark
  (1:43 PM)

Out of that group? Most likely to be an all-star by 2013: Hosmer.

Rob (Baltimore)

I love the Orioles and Zach Britton, but I agree with you on Pineda, nasty, nasty stuff. Makes me think they would be smart to hold onto Felix and him for years.

Jayson Stark
  (1:44 PM)

That's what they're thinking, too!

Doug (Cleveland)

How many wins will take the AL Central?

Jayson Stark
  (1:44 PM)

I'll go with 88. What do you think? Too low?

Mike (San Diego)

Has his slow start changed your opinion on where Albert Pujols will eventually end up and how much he will sign for?

Jayson Stark
  (1:46 PM)

Too soon to say if it will change the price. Albert has 110 games to turn back into Albert. I don't think he's lost his skills. Just think he's trying to pull more pitches than I've ever seen him.

BJ (Indiana)

In before trivia: Better middle infield combo than Castro/Barney? Cubs are set for years, right?

Jayson Stark
  (1:47 PM)

The two most impressive young DP combinations I've seen are Castro/Barney (Cubs) and Desmond/Espinosa (Nationals).

Jayson Stark
  (1:48 PM)

OK, trivia time. Buster Posey has hit 22 home runs since he arrived in the big leagues a year ago Sunday. Among players whose primary position is catcher, only two other active players have hit 20 or more since Posey's arrival. Who are they?

Jason (St Louis)

Castro/Barney don't have near the intangibles or grit as Theriot/Schumaker or Theriot/Punto.

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

Don't disagree. But I wasn't asked who has the best intangibles or the most grit. I was asked if I could see them being a starting DP combination for years to come. And that answer is absolutely.

Mike (chicago)

How can you ask a trivia question where todd helton and roy oswalt are not one of the answers? I am confused.

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

I know. Take a couple of Tylenol and get back to me.

Scott (Boston)

Barajas and Soto

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

Nope. 14 for Barajas, 16 for Soto.

Matthew (Columbia)

Victor Martinez

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

Good guess. But only 17 for him.

Ben (Dover)

John Buck

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

Another good guess. But only 17 for Buck, too.

Bryan (new york)

McCann obviously

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

Bingo. That's one. 20 on the nose.

Jeff (Ohio)

Napoli and McCann.

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

Winner! 25 for Mike Napoli! Not all as a catcher, obviously. But he counts.

Kyle (Fort Lauderdale)

Buck and Santana

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

Lots of Santana guesses. But only 12 for him.

Toby (PA)

Russell Martin

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

Not even close. Only hit three all last year, remember.

BJ (Indiana)

Can we combine the Molinas to make one eligible candidate?

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

Now THAT'S funny. Hold on. I'm going to add up their homers.

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

Nope. They still don't make it to 20, even as a tag team. Seven for Jose. Seven for Yadier. Three for Bengie. That makes 17!

Jeff (Ohio)

As the winner, how bout a moratorium on all the Indians regression talk? Media's been saying it for a month and guess what? Still the best record in baseball.

Jeff (Ohio)

And by media I don't mean Jayson Stark; you're in a league of your own.

Jayson Stark
  (1:56 PM)

Thanks, Jeff. I think Tom Hanks played me in League of Your Own, actually. After 50 games, I'm sold. Doesn't mean they're going to win 100 or have the best record in the AL. But this team is good enough to win that division. Period.

Nick (Philly)

With the return of Chase Utley, the call up of Dominic Brown, and the eventual return of Shane Victorino, will the Phillies be able to score 4-5 runs consistently? Seems like the magic # is 4 runs a game w/ that pitching.

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

I'm not convinced Brown is ready yet. And I'm not convinced Utley will hold up physically. But just those two guys alone have changed the look of that lineup. Much deeper, all of a sudden.

Bob (Fort Lauderdale)

How bout some love for the Marlins. Swept the Ginats in SF AND have the 2nd best record in the NL.All without Hanley.

Jayson Stark
  (1:58 PM)

And swept the Giants without Josh Johnson. That is one talented team. And people are greatly underestimating how good guys like Logan Morrison, Anibal Sanchez and even Mike Stanton are. Very dangerous team, and not just this year.

Andrew (San Jose)

Jayson - What do you think the chances are of the Giants pulling off a trade for a decent catcher (Pudge), now that every team in MLB now knows that they can ask for a bit more with the Posey Injury taking place. I'm thinking that teams will start off with asking for an impossible offer (i.e., Belt, Wheeler) and then go from there.

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

The Nationals have been trying to trade Pudge for weeks. I don't see them overpricing him, but Mike Rizzo will want a real prospect, not just a body.

Lucas (MD)

Speaking of catchers, what are your thoughts on Weiters? Great defense, just needs to bump up the offense.

Jayson Stark
  (2:00 PM)

Still a work in progress offensively. Probably never going to be the masher he was sold to be. But really turning into a star defensively.

Jayson Stark
  (2:00 PM)

Well, gang. It's that time again. I can only take one more. Sorry.

acd23 (HERMITAGE, PA)

Do you think that the Pirate's youth movement is moving the team forward? Will they be contenders by 2013?

Jayson Stark
  (2:02 PM)

Always good to sneak a Pirates question in here. They still have a long, long, long ways to go. But they've made an impact in the draft the last couple of years by paying way over slot. And they'll be all in to do that again this year. But they still need centerpiece players at like four positions and an entire rotation they can build around. So even 2013 might be a stretch. Sorry!

Jayson Stark
  (2:03 PM)

Thanks for all the great questions and catcher-safey ideas. Again, more on this topic in today's Rumblings (and more trivia). Have a great holiday!