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July 1, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:02 PM)

Happy 4th of July weekend. What better time for a little baseball chat! So let's get started.

Joe (Dartmouth, Mass.)

Mr. Stark, Why doesn't MLB simplify the interleague Dh rules? Ex.: 3 games in Philly. alternate rules by game- NL-AL-NL rules and vice versa in AL parks. 2 games series, one a piece. People will still complain but fairer from series to series. Thank You.

Jayson Stark
  (1:04 PM)

You know, it's funny you made that suggestion, Joe. It's one I've actually made myself in the past. Bud Selig even liked it. I ran it past Terry Francona this week, in fact. But he wasn't as big on it as some people. He said his reservation was that if you just did it one game, there was too much luck of the draw. Suppose, for instance, the one game with DH rules in Philadelphia this week would have been a game started by a lefthander. He just thinks there should be one set of rules. And so do I. But this might be the next-best thing. Great minds think alike!

CC (Atlanta)

You hear the Braves want a RH bat but where would he play? Braves problem is underperformance of entrenched starters (Heyward, Uggla mainly) and the injury to Prado, not lack of talent. Seems to me they just need to pray those guys start producing.

Jayson Stark
  (1:06 PM)

I agree that their biggest offensive problem has been "underperformance." But they're intent on adding a bat anyway. They'd add a leftfielder, ideally. And that would free Prado to play all over the field at different spots as a super-utility regular, which is his best role. So they can make this work if they can find the right guy. And they're clearly working on it.

Brady (MN)

Did you read the Joe Mauer article today? Thoughts? Would you move him to 3B,1B or OF? He's got way too much ability to not bounce back from his slump, but he does seem way too willing to take days completely off, something blue collar Minnesotans aren't appreciating.

Jayson Stark
  (1:10 PM)

I've been busy finishing up today's Rumblings & Grumblings, which should get posted shortly. So I haven't had a chance to read that story. But I heard Joe on with Mike

Bill (CT)

Jayson, the John Lackey saga. What's the scoop and will he ever earn the contract?

Jayson Stark
  (1:11 PM)

It was fascinating to hear Terry Francona and Theo Epstein characterize the health of his elbow this week. They would never run the guy out there if he was on the verge of Tommy John Surgery. But it was obvious, by how carefully they worded their answers, that his elbow can't possibly be 100 percent. So if that's the case, his clock is ticking.

CC (Atlanta)

If you're right and the Braves add a stick surely it'll be something better than Josh Willingham, right? If they add it needs to be a difference maker. Granted those are hard to pry away but ATL has the young pitching to do it. Just don't see how a Willingham-type player makes the Braves appreciably better.

Jayson Stark
  (1:13 PM)

They'd certainly like it to be a difference-maker. I know they've told teams they're not interested in a platoon type guy or a fourth outfielder. But I differ with you on Willingham. He can be very dangerous when he's healthy, and hitting in a park other than Oakland. Of course, how healthy he is -- or will be -- is a critical question.

Ramon (Santiago)

Which team will Jose Reyes finish this season with?

Jayson Stark
  (1:14 PM)

Mets. Every day, he makes it harder for them to trade him. Don't you think?

David (Boston)

Josh Reddick is swinging a great bat and playing a decent outfield since being recalled. Will he ever crack the lineup as a regular in Boston?

Jayson Stark
  (1:15 PM)

Ever? Theo said clearly this week they expect him to be an every-day player at some point. But that point isn't now.

CC (Atlanta)

Outside of Jose Reyes who are some elite (or at least difference-makers) guys that could be dealt? Kemp? Or are we just looking at the usual trade fodder -- Francoeur, Ankiel, Melky, Ludwick, etc.

Jayson Stark
  (1:18 PM)

Those guys aren't elite enough for you, huh? Matt Kemp? You've gotta be kidding. He's been the best player in the league not named Jose Reyes. But here's a name on his team I've heard teams wonder about: Andre Ethier. It would take a gigantic package, I'm sure. But the McCourt mess might have put the Dodgers in a situation where they feel like they have to listen -- because by the time their ownership questions are resolved, he might be too close to free agency to get signed.

Todd (Philly)

Jayson - I respectfully disagree about Reyes. Don't they HAVE to trade him and get something for him? He won't negotiate now. And at the end of the season, the Mets are in the same position as everyone else in terms of resigning him. Cliff Lee made that concept true this past year. Your thoughts?

Jayson Stark
  (1:21 PM)

Not when they're over .500 and very much alive in the wild-card race. They're still in the ticket-selling business, and he's the single biggest reason to go through their turnstiles. I understand what you're saying, but one of the topics in today's Rumblings is: How can a team from New York NOT keep a player like this? With the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Dodgers, Cubs, etc. out of his sweepstakes this winter, how many attractive destinations will he really have? The Mets aren't just one of 30. That's my point.

Nick (Chi)

What separates Starlin Castro from guys like Felix Pie/Corey Pattrerson? As a Cubs fan, I am very suspicious about up and comers.

Jayson Stark
  (1:22 PM)

It's called talent, Nick. Feel for the game at an early age. Starlin Castro is more than just a collection of tools. He's a PLAYER. Already.

Justin (New Jersey)

So let me get this straight - if Damon gets 3000 hits he is a HOFer, if its 2999, he isn't? I can understand your argument either way. But to base it on some arbitrary round number of hits just seems silly.

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

I've had a bunch of tweets about this since the last chat. And just to remind you, the question last week was: If he gets to 3,000 hits, is he a Hall of Famer? And that answer is yes. Look, I don't believe in magic numbers, either. But there are 500 other voters, and they obviously believe in them. So to pretend those magic numbers don't sway the people who vote on this stuff is ridiculous.

Mike (NY)

Who will be the first big name player to get traded?

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

I've got Heath Bell in that pool.

Mike (Long Island)

Regarding Joe Mauer, Minnesota fans have GOT to be kidding me! Even as a non-Twins fan, it's so easy to see that the guy is not only a great player but a leader on the team playing a very physically demanding position. Did it ever occur to those critics that maybe, just maybe, he's really hurt and needs some extra time to get healthy? Geez, you'd think with his track record people would cut him a little slack.

Jayson Stark
  (1:26 PM)

Hey Mike. I'm with you on this. The reaction has been shocking to me. If this were Boston or New York, it might be different. But this is Minnesota, where this guy could have run for governor before all this. I do think this should serve as a wakeup call to this guy that he needs to change his offseason regimen. But that's a separate issue to the one you raised. Isn't it?

Mike (wv)

It seems apparent that some teams don't _deserve_ all-star representation (e.g., twins, rockies). If the game "counts", shouldn't those teams go unrepresented?

Jayson Stark
  (1:28 PM)

It's time to dump that rule, I think. I'm very dubious that people still watch the game to see if the third backup from their team will get to pinch-hit in the eighth inning or whatever. I bet if they changed this rule, it would have next to zero effect on the ratings.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

It seems like the writing is on the wall that Prince is going to play somewhere else in 2011. Leaving my hometown bias aside, if I were in charge of the Chicago Cubs I think I would sign Fielder ahead of Pujols because not only will he presumably cost less but probably will play longer than Pujols. If you were in charge of the Chicago Cubs would you sign Pujols or Fielder?

Jayson Stark
  (1:29 PM)

I recognize the age discrepancy, but if the cost is even close -- and it might be -- how could they not go with Albert? Better hitter. More complete player. And Prince's body ought to scare any National League team thinking about signing him for seven or eight years.

Mike (Long Island)

Agree on Mauer's off-season prep. But as someone who played baseball at a competitive level up to the middle of college, allow me to let fans in on a little secret: There is no position in baseball more demanding that catcher -- those guys play with significant aches and pains every single day from March to October. Fans have no idea what it's like -- just be thankful you have a guy this good on your team and that your owners finally entered the 21st century and committed to spending like a big-league team for a change.

Jayson Stark
  (1:31 PM)

All of a sudden, it's Defend Joe Mauer Day here on this chat. Glad to see there's some recognition out there that some of the criticism has gotten out of hand.

Bill (CT)

Jayson, regarding interleague play, should American League teams have to go to exraordinary lengths such as Tito Francona had to in Philly this week? I mean putting Adrian Gonzalez in right to ensure that both he and Ortiz were in the lineup? National League clubs do have a built in advantage in either venue.

Jayson Stark
  (1:34 PM)

I don't understand the Red Sox being forced to play nine games in a row in a National League park. That should never happen, although you see it with a couple of teams every year. I've talked about this before on these chats. It's absurd for baseball to have two sets of rules -- and not just have to deal with that problem in interleague play, but have it affect the championship round of the postseason (i.e., the World Series). Unfortunately, I'm not getting any vibe that there's serious interest among the powers that be in changing this any time soon.

Jon (DC)

As far as the All-Star Game and it counting: Could you see managers picking guys who were injured in the season and don't "deserve" a spot, but are clearly great players who will do more to help them win. Ryan Zimmerman comes to mind. Or David Wright if he gets healthy. Thanks.

Jayson Stark
  (1:37 PM)

That's a "no." But you raise a point it's surprising people don't talk about more: Is the All Star Game just supposed to be for players who have had the best three months? Or should we look at the big picture and lean toward guys who have had the best careers? I think about that a lot when I make my picks. I know that.

Nick (Chi)

What do you think of the new Hom Run Derby format?

Jayson Stark
  (1:38 PM)

I love this idea. It's about time. One of the ideas I've been promoting for years is that the Derby shouldn't just be for players in the All Star Game. Get the guys who put on the best show. That beats having Brandon Inge volunteer to fill out the field and then hitting none.

Heath (Dallas)

I simply don't understand MLB's position on the all-star game. Is it an exhibition (every team represented and each player plays a bit) or is it real (game determines HFA)? It's utter foolishness that the post-season can be altered by some .250 hitter from a last place team in the late innings.

Jayson Stark
  (1:41 PM)

I'm with you for the most part, Heath. Too many mixed messages with this game. If the game "counts," then make sure the managers get that memo. We argue for weeks about who should start the All Star Game. Then they're gone after two at-bats? Makes no sense to me. Let the stars play most of the game. It's an honor just to be there. It shouldn't be about whether a guy gets to play if he isn't elected. In other news, I still think home field should go to the team with the best record. But we'll have to run that by the next commissioner, because this commissioner is locked in on this concept.

Eric (Chicago)

Why would the Cubs be out on Jose Reyes? They can move Castro to 2B and then if they really wanted to, move Barney in a trade to get something they really need. Barney won't turn into a power source, he's more of a singles hitter. It could happen.

Jayson Stark
  (1:42 PM)

Barney and Castro are the best things they have going for them this year. They have no long-term option at first base. So if they're going to spend big on a free agent, it has to be a first baseman, I think.

Bill (CT)

Jayson, are the movers and shakers in MLB paying any attention to the labor unrest ocurring in both the NFL and NBA?

Jayson Stark
  (1:44 PM)

Of course. It's one reason the baseball labor talks are going to smoothly. Looks as if they've learned their lesson, which is more than I can say for those other two sports.

ben (los angeles)

Jayson, anything new on the Dodger front or is this sad tale destined to last all season?

Jayson Stark
  (1:45 PM)

Talked to someone yesterday who said he thinks it will be resolved by Labor Day whether Frank McCourt can hold onto the team by finding a minority partner, much as the Mets did. But the court cases and sale will take us well past the end of the season, almost no matter which direction this thing heads. And won't that be fun?

Jay (Philadelphia)

Happy Canada day! Jayson I still think a RH bats is more important than a pitcher for the Phillies...my fear is a trade for a reliever could cause a log jam later in the summer

Jayson Stark
  (1:47 PM)

I don't get the vibe that they're particularly confident Brad Lidge is someone they can count on, and Jose Contreras has been shut down with the same injury twice. So I don't know about that logjam. But I agree with you that they need a bat most. The question is whether their ownership group will let them add any money whatsoever. And so far, looks as if that answer is no. You just wonder if that stance changes in a few weeks. It's easy to say now.

Jon (DC)

Danny Espinosa for NL Rookie of the Year? Or will the average be "too much to bear" for voters?

Jayson Stark
  (1:48 PM)

He'd be my rookie of the year right now. I think he's a guy with a chance to be a star.

Rich (Bayonne, NJ)

What is Matt Kemp's contract situation? I thought he signed a two year deal that ends this year? Is he still arbitration eligible? Just wondering, because I am assuming he'll be patroling the OF in Bronx in the near future!

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

His contract is up, but he can't be a free agent until after 2012. If the Dodgers weren't in such turmoil, they'd have made a push to sign him by now. Just one more ripple effect of the ownership madness. I'm not convinced he'll be a Yankee. But if the Dodgers aren't allowed by whoever is running the team, like a bankruptcy judge, to try to do what it takes to sign him this winter, he'd have no reason not to test the market in 16 months, right?

Allen Math (Philadelphia)

What does the ownership of the Orioles have to do to get the team more competitive?

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

For the most part, this isn't an ownership issue anymore. They've spent money, and they've put some pieces in place. They're finally paying attention to Latin America. And Andy MacPhail sees the big picture. But until their young pitchers figure it out, they're going to have a rough time competing in the AL East.

John (Virginia)

If you're the Phillies, to use a poker term, aren't they already pot committed? I mean, they've already got, what, about $170 million committed to this year's payroll... is another $5-7 million not worth it at this point? I know it's not my money, but...

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

You're right. It's not your money. And the guys who control the money think $170 million is plenty. Again, there's plenty of skepticism that they'll be able to hold to that stance as the deadline draws closer and what's at stake grows more clear. But I'm hearing Ruben Amaro Jr. has been told almost unequivocally that, for now at least, he can't add to this payroll.

CC (Atlanta)

Freddie Freeman NLROY.

Jayson Stark
  (1:55 PM)

He's going to be a tremendous player. But are you sure he's even the ROY on his own team so far this year?

Joel (Boise)

Tell me the Pirates will make a move to add a bat and make a run at continued respect in second half.

Jayson Stark
  (1:56 PM)

Wait. There's a Pirates fan in Boise? How'd that happen? Right now, from what I'm hearing, they're inclined to add, not subtract. But they're not making any commitment to anything for another couple of weeks, at least. I do think they feel like it's important to take a run at finishing over .500 if they have the chance. They need to change the subject from Life After Sid Bream!

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

Hate to make this announcement, but it's that time again. I only have time for one more.

Steve (NJ)

Can you envision any scenario where the Yankees ARE in on Reyes this winter???

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

Buster is exceptionally well-connected on the Yankees, and keeps saying that could happen. I'm more skeptical. They're committed to Jeter at $17M a year for at least two more years. So to just turn him into a DH or a leftfielder sounds like potentially divisive to me. But you never know if he regresses badly in the second half, I guess.

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

Thanks to everybody who checked in. Have a great holiday! See you next week in Chat Land.