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August 19, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:04 PM)

Greetings! Sorry I'm a couple of minutes late. And for all those wondering, there WILL be trivia at 45 minutes past the hour. So let's get started.

Danny (Chicago )

No surprise on the Jim Hendry move. However, I was surprised to learn that he was originally fired before the Trade Deadline (July 22nd) yet decided to stay to help get all the draft picks signed. Quite a classy act if you ask me. Your thoughts ?

Jayson Stark
  (1:05 PM)

I know it's open season on Jim Hendry right now in Chicago. But I don't know anybody within the sport who doesn't like and respect him. And as I wrote in today's Rumblings column, which will be posted later today, anybody taking shots at him for all those ugly contracts needs to remember one thing: He was just following orders from his ownership group - to go all out to win, at just about any cost.

Quint (Indy)

Jayson - Now that everyone thinks the Cubs should dump Big Z, there is no way they are ever getting rid of Sorryano(who is the real problem) because they can't eat that much money. With that in mind would you keep Big Z if you could dump Sorryano

Jayson Stark
  (1:07 PM)

First off, it's a moot point, because Soriano is un-dumpable. Second, they're separate issues. Isn't it clear from the comments coming out of that clubhouse that the players don't want Zambrano back? A player like that just sucks too much energy out of the room to bring him back. Not to mention it wasn't enough for him to melt down when things went wrong. He had to drag his teammates into it, too. So I think we've seen the last of that guy in Chicago, no matter who else does or doesn't remain.

Mike (IL)

As a Tribe fan, I'm elated that Leyland has decided to rest Verlander instead of going for the near-auto win. Isn't this a bad decision on his part though? I mean, he's shown no signs of slowing down and they aren't even guaranteed to make the playoffs. Why not start him against the main team trying to catch them? He could end up getting plenty of rest this October...

Jayson Stark
  (1:09 PM)

Jim Leyland has a good reason for everything he does, but I disagree with this decision. These head-to-head games are too meaningful this time of year, and the rest of his rotation is too unreliable to pass up the chance to pitch Verlander on regular rest. That's my take, anyway. But Manager Leyland has won a lot more games than I have.

Geoff (Ann Arbor)

Hey, thanks for taking the time to do this. I've heard some talking about Justin Verlander and MVP. What are your thoughts on his chances given no pitcher has won it since '92?

Jayson Stark
  (1:11 PM)

Very interesting topic. No starting pitcher has won in 25 years, I believe -- since Roger Clemens in 1986. History tells us that voters don't vote for starting pitchers unless there's no deserving every-day players. That's not the case this year, so I think it's unlikely Verlander wins. But if there were ever a year, and ever a case, to re-think that philosophy, it's this year. If you take your MVP field and ask, "Where would this team be without this player?" the answer is pretty obvious in this case: The Tigers wouldn't be sitting anywhere near first place.

Peter (Tucson)

Who wins the NL West?

Jayson Stark
  (1:13 PM)

The Giants are in trouble, but I don't think they're anywhere near dead, unless Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo aren't going to be healthy the rest of the year. None of their injured players would appear to be out for the season. And their pitching gives them a shot to run off eight out of 10 at some point, if they can ever score a run or two. So I still think the Giants will rise from the near-dead.

Kev (NYC)

Can you please elaborate on the Verlander resting? Is he having a start skipped?

Jayson Stark
  (1:15 PM)

No. They had an off day yesterday. But instead of pitching him on the fifth day, on regular rest, they're giving the whole rotation an extra day by keeping everyone in order. So Verlander could have started Sunday on regular rest. Instead, he won't pitch till Monday, on the sixth day.

Andy (Philadelphia)

How do you think the Brewers match up with the Phillies in a best of seven?

Jayson Stark
  (1:16 PM)

The Brewers have that mojo working. And they have the 1-2-3 starters to beat any team in October. The one matchup issue they have against the Phillies in particular is lack of lefthanded bullpen options. Hard to beat the Phillies if your pitching staff is too righthanded, I think.

Justin (Chicago)

Getting back to Z and Sori - could Cubs try to eat their and lower the salary spend for a few years to offset? Is that entirely Rickets decision to make? We could get better production for far less cost.

Jayson Stark
  (1:18 PM)

Soriano just has way too many years and dollars left to eat. Zambrano only has one year left at $18M after this season, so he's different. Jim Hendry's M.O. has always been to try to trade a guy like that for somebody else's big-buck headache. Hard to know what approach the new GM will want to take. But there are certainly other players out there who fit that my-problem-for-your-problem deal profile: Zito, Burnett, Lowe, Carlos Lee, etc.

Matt (Athens)

I'm impressed by Verlander's season, too, but people seem to be overlooking the fact that there's a legitimate everyday MVP candidate on his own team in Miguel Cabrera. He's just headed for another .300/30/100 season in a pitchers' park. Ho-hum.

Jayson Stark
  (1:19 PM)

You're exactly right. Mentioned that in last week's chat. That's one more reason I don't see Verlander winning this thing. But it doesn't mean there isn't a great case for him.

Mike (San Diego)

The pitcher as MVP discussion brings up one of my favorite bar bets. I would think that if you ask someone who the last switch hitter to win the AL MVP was, you'll be hard pressed to find someone who gives you the correct answer of Vida Blue.

Jayson Stark
  (1:20 PM)

I'd have whiffed on that. As a noted triviologist, I can only say: Good one, Mike!

Matt (Northern Virginia)

I think the Braves can beat the Phills in the NLCS. How crazy am I?

Jayson Stark
  (1:21 PM)

You're not crazy at all. They need to get healthy, especially Hanson and Jurrjens. But I love the way their lineup fits together now. And that bullpen can shorten any game - especially against those lefthanded bats in Philly.

Jeremy (NJ)

I can't seem to understand why Paul Konerko gets no love in the MVP discussion. He is one of, if not the main reason the White Sox are anywhere near the playoff discussion, and he is in the top 10 in the AL in HR, RBI, and Avg. If the White Sox make the playoffs, it's going to be on the shoulders of Paulie.

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

I think the last six weeks of the season will tell us whether Konerko lifts himself into this debate. Right now, he's way back in the WAR rankings. (At 3.3 on FanGraphs, he has the same WAR as Elvis Andrus.) But if the White Sox make a charge and he's right in the middle of it, history tells us that the stretch-drive plot lines very often figure into who winds up winning. So he's not a top-five candidate right now. But again, that can change.

Sean (Chicago)

Who would be your franchise player to build a team around for the next decade?

Jayson Stark
  (1:25 PM)

I'll take Mike Stanton. Am I crazy?

Cale (MN)

Who wins NL MVP? Braun or Fielder?

Jayson Stark
  (1:27 PM)

I wrote about this in today's Rumblings. Won't be posted for a while because of the Jim Hendry story. But it's a tough call. And Justin Upton is another guy with a great case if the D-backs win. Right now, I'd lean toward Braun. But I'm glad I don't have to vote right now, because it's a mess.

Todd (Philly)

If we are going by WAR, it makes it even harder to ignore Verlander this year. That said, is WAR the most important stat for you when analyzing a MVP candidate?

Jayson Stark
  (1:30 PM)

I think WAR is an incredibly useful tool. But I don't think it's the only tool, because we're supposed to be assessing who's the most "valuable" player, not the most productive player compared to a potential replacement. So I always believe in factoring in who the players are around these guys. And while I don't think an MVP's team HAS to make the playoffs, I think that numbers compiled for a team that's in a race take on a different context than numbers compiled for a team that's out of a race. But WAR definitely helps us compare candidates. I just wish FanGraphs and baseball-reference.com would agree on how to compute it.

Jay (PA)

Has Michael Morse been the biggest suprise in the NL this year? I don't expect this to become the new norm, but do you think he can be a .280-25-85 guy for a few years?

Jayson Stark
  (1:32 PM)

If he's not THE biggest surprise, he's in the conversation. He's a guy other teams have been trying to trade for now for a couple of years, so a lot of people saw the talent. But did they see THIS level of talent? Not sure they did. I think he's for real. So those numbers seem very reachable.

Robert ((Fresno CA))

If Clayton Kershaw goes like 19-5..for a team that may only win 75 games...does he have a shot at the Cy Young?

Jayson Stark
  (1:34 PM)

Absolutely. He's had a fantastic season. There's no law that says a Phillie has to win the Cy Young. I don't recall anybody passing that rule when we weren't looking.

Matt (Toronto)

Nevermind Cabrera, the MVP plays 4 hours from the Tigers... That's right, in Toronto. i welcome anyone who can challenge this... intelligently. Keep up the good work and thanks for the chat.

Jayson Stark
  (1:36 PM)

There's going to be quite a debate on that, I have a feeling. Jose Bautista has been the most productive hitter in that league. It's hard to question that. But his team hasn't been a factor in any kind of race for weeks. So are voters going to vote for a candidate like that when they have good options on teams heading for the postseason? My bet is no. But if I were an AL MVP voter, I'd have to think long and hard about Bautista.

Holden (Philadelphia)

Do you think that having three cy young candidates (Hamels, Halladay, Lee) on one team hurts each of their individual chances to win?

Jayson Stark
  (1:38 PM)

It shouldn't have anything to do with the Cy Young voting. MVP criteria are different than the Cy Young criteria. The Cy Young is supposed to go to the guy who pitched the best. Period. Team performance is supposed to be mostly irrelevant. So it shouldn't have any effect, other than on the pyschology of a voter wondering if it was crazy to vote three teammates 1-2-3.

Bryan (MA)

If Pedro didn't win the MVP in '99, Verlander won't win it this year.

Jayson Stark
  (1:40 PM)

That's the best comparable out there. Two very similar situations. But you'll remember Pedro WOULD have won if two voters hadn't left him off their ballot completely. Why'd they do that? Because they don't think the MVP is a starting pitcher's award. That situation theoretically has been addressed, because the instructions to voters now specifically say we're allowed to consider pitchers and we're supposed to. But when it comes time to cast the ballot, I'm skeptical that most of these voters are really ready to vote for a pitcher.

Terence (NYC)

If you read the official voting rules, team performance is supposed to be irrelevant in MVP voting as well

Jayson Stark
  (1:41 PM)

Irrelevant? How? The whole concept of "valuable" implies that team performance is a key component. What's the exact wording you're talking about?

Logic (Here)

So the fact that bautista plays in a division with the rays, sox, and yankees should hurt his consideration? Its not like the blue jays stink, they just have 3 of the best teams in baseball in front of them.

Jayson Stark
  (1:43 PM)

I agree. They'd win the NL West if they were in it, I think. I'm just telling you how I think these voters will vote. It's not his fault his team hasn't been in a race. That doesn't mean it isn't going to hurt his candidacy. But when I'm an MVP voter, I believe in factoring in EVERYTHING. So with any luck, the 28 voters will factor that in when they start considering where to place Bautista.

Terence (NYC)

Doesn't mention team performance....it's an individual award1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.2. Number of games played.3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.4. Former winners are eligible.5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.

Jayson Stark
  (1:45 PM)

It doesn't say that team has to finish first or make the postseason. That doesn't mean that's irrelevant when assessing "value to his team." If you look at the history of voting, it's been clear that's how voters tend to vote. Am I wrong on that?

Mike (San Diego)

Most valuable trivia?

Jayson Stark
  (1:47 PM)

Good point! Almost forgot. Just a warning: This is going to be a "wins" trivia question. Before I give the question, this announcement: Just because we now understand how to put "wins" in their proper context doesn't mean the stat has ceased to exist. Everybody got that?

Jayson Stark
  (1:48 PM)

OK, now here's the question: Since 2002 (Jim Hendry's first year as GM of the Cubs), only five righthanded pitchers have "won" more games than Carlos Zambrano (124). Name them!

BJ (Indiana)

You'd rather build around Stanton than, say, Starlin Castro?

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

I would. Mike Stanton has a chance to be the most dominant slugger in this sport for the next 10 years, if not longer. And he's driven to be great.

JoeC (Illinois)

CC Sabathia

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

I said "righthanded!"

JoeC (Illinois)

Justin Verlander

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

Hasn't been around long enough. Sorry.

Tom (ATL)

Hudson

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

That's one of them. 128 wins for him.

Obvious (Answer)

Roy oswalt

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

That's two. 141 wins for him. And he's still the answer to EVERY question, right?

BJ (Indiana)

Carpenter

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

Nope. Got hurt. Only 96 wins for him.

JoeC (Illinois)

Roy Halladay

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

Of course! No. 1 on the list, with 166. So we've got two more to go. And they're not easy.

Todd (ATL)

Derek Lowe

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

Excellent! He's No. 2, with 144. One left.

BJ (Indiana)

Todd Helton???

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

I knew that was coming. Wrong!

Matt (Chicago)

Becket

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

Good guess, but just missed. 120 for him.

JD (CT)

Garland

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

Another great guess, but also just missed. 122 for Garland.

Captain Obvious (America)

Bartolo Colon

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

Good try. But wrong! Only 96 for him.

Joe (Temecula)

Tim Wakefield!

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

Tremendous guess. Also wrong. Just 105 for him.

Jim C (Houston)

Freddie Garcia

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

Good try. But only 99 for him. And it's Freddy by the way.

Terry (Portland OR)

Bronson Arroyo?

Jayson Stark
  (1:55 PM)

Nice try. Only 103 for him.

Tyler (Los Angeles)

Vasquez??

Jayson Stark
  (1:55 PM)

Couldn't believe nobody guessed him earlier. But he's wrong! Only 120 for him.

Anthony (MD)

John Lackey

Jayson Stark
  (1:56 PM)

Winner! 127 wins for John Lackey the last 10 seasons. Good work. Thanks for playing! Now let's cram in another couple of questions.

Danny (Seattle)

Do you think Prince Fielder would like to remain a Brewer? Any chance his teammates would restructure their contracts to give management enough money to resign him?

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

I always give the same answer to this: Who's his agent? It's Scott Boras. And what would all Scott Boras clients "like" to come out of free agency? Here's what: $$$$$$$$$ It's going to be about the most $$$$$$, and there's pretty much no chance of that happening in Milwaukee. Sorry!

Paul (albany, Or)

Why Stanton over Matt Kemp?

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

That would be an interesting debate, but Stanton is younger. So he has more peak years ahead of him. Also get the sense people around the sport are wary of Kemp's makeup. Concerned how he'd respond once he gets the big bucks.

Geoff (San Carlos, CA)

Chances of Thome landing with the Phils by the end of August? If not, any other potential candidates?

Jayson Stark
  (2:00 PM)

Remote. Extremely remote. I think Jack Cust winds up being their power bat off the bench in September/October.

Jayson Stark
  (2:00 PM)

Well, it's that time again. Let's see if we can work in one more.

Spencer Hulsey (Walnut Creek, CA)

Why isn't Tim Lincecum getting more CY Young love this year? Leads in road ERA (good park adjustment), high K total, and he doesn't get to face his own crappy SFGiants hitters to pad his stats like all the other candidates do!

Jayson Stark
  (2:02 PM)

You've got me. I tweeted last night that he's already left NINE games in which his team had scored no runs for him when he threw his final pitch. So when we talk about putting "wins" in their proper context, that pretty much sums up why they don't tell us a whole lot about how Lincecum has pitched. He's definitely in the argument.

Jayson Stark
  (2:02 PM)

Time to run, folks. But thanks for all the fun questions. See ya down the road in Chat Land.