Welcome! Sorry I'm a few minutes late. I'll try to work in some trivia later in the chat, too. So let's get started.
Hey Jayson - If you were the Red Sox or Yankees who would you rather face in the first round of the playoff - Texas or Detroit? And yes, I know neither Texas nor Detroit has locked up their respective divisions quite yet. Texas seems to have a far better offense, bullpen and rotation depth, while Detroit has a guy named Verlander who would pitch twice in the series.
Much as I admire Verlander and the way the Tigers play, there's no doubt about the answer to this question. Neither of those teams would want to have to face Texas, with one of the deepest bullpens and most talented rosters in the sport, and NOT have home-field advantage. Used this stat in the September preview piece I wrote yesterday. The Yankees are 5-2 in games Verlander has started since 2008, and 2-0 this year. And they've only won one postseason series where they didn't have home-field advantage in the last 10 years.
How should MLB fix the salary gap between the haves and the have-nots? Wouldn't it make sense for fans and players to spread the total $$ the league spends on salary equally among all of the teams than to have 4-5 teams account for the majority of the MLB players' payroll. Its absurd that individual players make almost as much as another team spends on their entire roster.
I made a proposal a few months ago that, much to my shock, could actually happen: Kind of a reverse luxury tax. We already have a tax on teams that spend over a certain threshold. The idea in play is a tax on teams that consistently spend under a minimum threshold. Not sure where they'll set it. Could be $50 million. Could be slightly less. Could be more. But the idea is to impose a tougher tax at the top and a tax on repeat offenders at the bottom, to draw most teams closer to the middle. Stay tuned!
What do the Indians do with Sizemore? He has an option for next year for 7.5 mil. He has been hurt for much of the last 3 years, but when healthy, he's capable of 30/30. There is the possibility his other knee will require micro-fracture surgery as well. Do they negotiate a deal that has them declining the option while tring to extend him out for 3 years?
I think they pick up that option and try to win with him. When they traded for Ubaldo Jimenez, one big reason was that he fit into their window to win with guys like Sizemore. So they'll keep him, hope he gets healthy and go for it. If they're out of it next July and he's stayed in one piece, I have no doubt he's tradeable.
Jayson -- putting aside the issue of adding another wild card team, isn't it time expand the first round to best-of-7 to reward a league's top-seeded teams and prevent a fluky upset where the wildcard team has a true ace?
Adam, that's been discussed and it's just not happening. They're trying to keep the postseason as concise as possible going forward -- especially with the prospect of adding two wild-card teams at some point. Best of seven is clearly more fair than best of five. But there's no real appetite for it, other than from a scattered group of fans (and managers), that I've discerned.
Jayson, Do you see the Phillies trading John Mayberry of Dom Brown in the off-season to add an arm to the bullpen considering they may lose Lidge and Madson?
No chance. That's your left-field tandem for next year, in all likelihood. The free-agent market this winter is overloaded with closers and potential closers. So they'll be shopping in that aisle. You can be sure of that.
While I agree with your article that this September is going to be boring, I think adding a second wild-card is a horrible overreaction. Look at the last 15 Septembers - only once has it been all wrapped up before the last week of the year. There's no reason the 98 win Yankees/Sox should have to face Jered Weaver in a one game winner-moves-on format
This idea, of adding a wild-card team, is not a reaction to the lack of races this September, let alone an overreaction. It's an idea designed to make finishing first more meaningful by having the two wild cards in each league face each other. I've looked through this year-by-year, and there would have been very few times, since 1995, where the second wild card wasn't a team with 89 to 95 wins (or more) and worthy of being in the field. But now that I've made the case, you should know this idea is in trouble at the bargaining table, from what I've heard.
Are the D-Backs expected to call up Bauer when AAA finishes?
Sounds like they're likely to call him up. Still unclear how much he'll pitch. He was going great until he gave up 10 runs in 1 2/3 innings in his last start. He's thrown a lot of innings, and I know that's a concern. But you could see him out of the bullpen or in a spot start. Can't wait.
Can you elaborate on the second wild card team idea being in trouble? Thanks
I wrote a Rumblings column about it a couple of weeks ago. The union has said it likes this idea, but only if it's tied to realignment to two 15-team leagues. And that's the part of this that's in trouble. They're having issues trying to make realignment work. And it's not certain if the players would sign off on another round if there isn't something done to make the schedule of teams fighting for first in a division more fair. At any rate, they're out of time to make this happen for next year. So nothing could happen before 2013, if it happens at all.
Jayson, is there any shot that, to prevent realignment, we could see a switch back to two divisions per league (with the top two non-division winners getting wildcard spots)? This avoids the problem of an AL West with 4 teams and an NL Central with 6. Or is realignment being discussed to have 5 teams in each of 6 divisions?
That's extremely unlikely. They like the idea of having six division races and adding wild-card races beyond that. There's no real sentiment for having fewer divisions and, by extension, fewer races.
Jayson, a couple years back you made up your own stat CUS. Have you been calculating that at all this year? If so, I'm guessing Masterson would have to be in your top 5 in the AL.
I've been tracking it all year. Haven't done an updated leader board in the last couple of weeks. But I believe he's either second or third, with 10 Criminally Unsupported Starts. Doug Fister is still first, with 16! I know Haren and Weaver both have 10 for the Angels. I'll try to do a quick check as we go through the chat.
Back to the wall..who gets your AL MVP award today?
I'm really torn on this, but I think I'd vote for Curtis Granderson. Justin Verlander has a sensational case. And Jose Bautista's numbers are overwhelming. But Granderson is having a historic year for a team that needs to ride its offense to October. I think that nudges him slightly over the top for me. But I reserve the right to change my mind. And I know there are many people out there who seriously differ!
Many of the awards prediction columns focus on advanced metrics. Do you know what the makeup is of the voters for MVP and Cy Young, and how likely they are to value traditional statistics vs. sabermetrics? That would provide some more insight -- not into the numbers say should win, but who is likely to actually win.
We don't know who's voting for what yet. But while it's clear the baseball writers are evolving in their willingness to embrace sabermetrics, this is not a heavily sabermetric-oriented group. So I don't see these voters just looking at the WAR rankings and voting accordingly, if that's what you're getting at.
There's an interesting article on Grantland about how the Phillies future doesn't look very bright. Did you read it, and if so, what are your thoughts on it?
I haven't read it, but I've heard about it, so I'm familiar with the premise. I don't think the Phillies' short-term future is bleak. But they've stripped their system of so many upper-level prospects, they have no choice but to hope their nucleus ages better than most players in their 30s tend to age. That's a dangerous way to go, but they've pretty much locked themselves into that hope with the contracts they've given out and the trades they've made.
They like having six divison races? There aren't ANY division races this year :P
This is the first season since they went to this format that we've had a September like this. It's simple mathematics that the more divisions you have, the better chance you have of having some kind of race, or multiple races. It's not as complicated as Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Mike. This is just one of those years.
Freeman or Kimbrel for ROY?
Kimbrel. Unbelievable season. Check out Buster's blog for some fantastic numbers on this guy today. And here's a nugget from my blog: He has more strikeouts this season than SIX Opening Day starters.
Do you think the White Sox and Indians still have runs in them? I know the Tigers have Verlander and a 5.5 game lead, but I think they could still be home in October.
I think the Indians are in trouble. They're hurting, and they're 13 games under .500 since mid-May. The White Sox have enough games left against the Tigers that they've given themselves a shot. But no team has entered September with a lead as large as the Tigers and NOT finished first since the '95 Angels. So the odds are with them.
MLB has removed many of the "off days" in the post-season (I imagine to try to finish before winter...) In recent years teams have been able to go with a 3-man rotation. How many starters should teams have teed up THIS year?
Unless you have multiple starters capable of pitching on short rest, the format this year means most of these teams will have to use four starters. I could see CC starting on short rest more than once, given the Yankees' options. But they can't do what they did in 2009 -- get through three rounds of the postseason with three starters. And that was the whole idea of tightening this schedule.
you say Kimbrel for ROY, but why not Worley? he has pitched more innings and his K/W ratio is fantastic. (schoenfield has a good post on the matter right now.)
Vance Worley has clearly elevated himself into the argument. But you'd have a tough time convincing me he's outpitched Craig Kimbrel.
Jayson, if Aaron Rowand gets released from the Giants, is he an attractive pickup as an extra outfielder for the league minimum? Or is he just done?
Wouldn't shock me at all if the Phillies picked him up for the minimum. Charlie Manuel loves Aaron Rowand, and vice-versa. But he's clearly not what he used to be. Even his production against lefthanded pitching has slipped. And he had trouble accepting not playing in San Francisco. He'd almost never play in Philadelphia. So it's not a perfect fit. But it isn't impossible if the Giants release him.
Didn't the Mets collapse 7 games up with 17 games to go a few years back?
Still remember that, huh? The key words in my Tigers sentence were "entering September." What the Mets did was even tougher, obviously. But just remember, no team had ever blown a lead that large that late before they did it. And obviously, no one has since. So there ya go.
Hey Jayson, word is that Alex Anthopoulos is in Japan scouting Yu Darvish. Think the Jays make a legit attempt to go after him? Wouldn't you be hesitant to go after him considering what happened with Matsuzaka?
There are still big doubts he's coming over here, from what I've heard. But he's worth scouting if he does. I wouldn't want to commit big yen to that guy without seeing him firsthand. I know that.
Who poses the greatest threat to the Phillies in the National League playoffs as of today?
I still think it's the Braves. The Brewers are dangerous, but their lack of lefthanders to match up with the Phillies' lineup is a big concern. And their home-road splits are another. The Braves need to get their rotation in decent shape to make a run. But their bullpen is untouchable. And I love the lineup now that it's been retooled. That team is very capable of winning the World Series.
Jayson, does the terrible year for Choo help the Tribe trying to retain him? Or does the fact that Boras is his agent tell you all you need to know?
You said it, Mark. Who's his agent?
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OK, this is one of those questions that works better in a chat than it does on Mike and Mike. Prince Fielder just reached 30 homers for the fifth year in a row. There are 12 other active players who have hit 30 at least five seaons in a row at some point in their careers. Your assignment is to start spitting out all those names. Go!
Any chance you see the Cards and Brewers getting interesting down the stretch?
Interesting? Yes. Do I see the Cardinals winning? No. No team has ever blown a lead this large in September. That was NO TEAM! Seven games is the biggest ever. And even after getting swept, the Brewers are still up 7 1/2.
There's four. Eight to go.
There's five. Seven to go.
There's six. Halfway there.
Nope. Never done it more than four years in a row. Surprising, isn't it?
Best answer yet!
Nope. Working on it. But hasn't hit 30 yet this year.
There's seven. Five to go.
Sorry. Never more than TWO in a row.
Never more than two in a row. And I'm deducting points for spelling!
The answers to every trivia question...Helton and Vlad!
Very good! You've been paying attention. That's nine. Still have three left.
Glad we got that out of the way!
Nope. Never more than four.
Good job, Jesse. Down to two left.
Good try. Never more than four.
Nope. Never more than three.
Finally! That's absolutely correct. First I'd even seen his name among hundreds of guesses. So one to go.
Sorry. Never more than three in a row.
Nope. Three in a row was his best.
I don't know if I can accept an answer that ends with a question mark. But that's right! How soon they forget El Caballo used to be a 30-homer machine. The Astros would like to forget it now, but that's another story. Thanks for playing!
Is Jimmie Rollins gone after this year? With all his injuries won't giving him a 3 year contract at big $ be a mistake.
I don't see him being gone. I think they have to bring him back. They may talk up Freddy Galvis, but he's not Jimmy Rollins. There's no decent Plan B for that team, so I predict they'll find a way to get this done. They'll be battling over the length of the deal, though. You can bet on that.
You missed Ortiz 03-07
No we didn't. He was one of the first names mentioned. But thanks for checking up on me.
check your stats again, I don't think Carlos Lee did it 5 years in a row. best stretch was '03-'05
Will the Dodgers get sold this off-season? McCourt needs to go...
It's in the hands of the bankruptcy court now. But in case you hadn't noticed, he's tried everything imaginable to avoid selling. I keep saying he's like a basketball team down 30 in the last two minutes that fouls on every possession. In the end, he can't win. But for some reason, he doesn't want the game to end.
OK, it's that time again. I can only take one more.
Strasburg, thoughts on his return?
Working on a column about that now, for next week. I don't understand the criticism that the Nationals somehow rushed him. He's just following the rehab playbook, line by line. It's a year since the surgery. He's obviously capable of pitching in the big leagues. They need to build up his innings and arm strength for next year. And it means a lot to him and everyone in that organization to get him back on the mound in September. So how is he being rushed? I don't see it.
Thanks for all the great questions and fun trivia answers. See you down the road in Chat Land.