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October 4, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with David Schoenfield

David Schoenfield
  (1:00 PM)

What a great day. Four playoff games. Three series that could be decided. The Yankees with their backs to their walls. The Phillies and Cardinals deadlocked. Two rookies -- Jeremy Hellickson and Josh Collmenter -- trying to keep their seasons alive. Albert Pujols back in St. Louis. Alex Rodriguez still looking for his first hit of the series. And, of course ... A.J. Burnett.

Rahul (NY)

Do you think AJ should try to not get beat by himself today and purposely keep away from cabrera and v-mart

David Schoenfield
  (1:02 PM)

The trouble with that approach is he's been so wild and unpredictable all season that if you're purposely putting guys on base, it could lead to much more trouble if you walk other guys. Yes, be careful with Cabrera, but at some point Burnett is going to have to challenge to those guys.

Rich (Sun Valley, D)

Care to reset your picks on the Cards-Phillies series? By the way, LaRussa changed that entire game by ambushing the home plate umpire at the mound. Masterful.....

David Schoenfield
  (1:04 PM)

I had Phillies in 5. I'd still give the pitching matchup edge to the Phillies in the next three games: Hamels over Garcia (although he's pitched well at home), Oswalt over Jackson (call it a coin flip if wish) and Halladay over Carpenter. I still think Philly takes 2 of 3.

Dan (Michigan)

What do you make of Valverde's comments after Game 2? Is he getting away with the "it's over" talk because its just Valverde being Valverde?

David Schoenfield
  (1:05 PM)

I thought there was some ruckus over it. But, really, who cares? Are Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson going to play better or harder because Valverde said that? Of course not. You certainly don't WANT a guy saying stuff like that, but I don't think it means anything.

matt (baltimore)

If the Yankees lose tonight, is this their starting lineup next year: Reyes 6, Jeter 7, Pujols 9, Fielder DH, Tex 3, Cano 2, ARod 5, Granderson 8, Montero 2, CC 1

David Schoenfield
  (1:06 PM)

No comment.

Shorty (DC)

Does the Colby Rasmus trade look any better for STL now?

David Schoenfield
  (1:07 PM)

I don't think we can answer that now. Certainly, if the Cardinals make the World Series and Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel are big contributors, the trade will look better. But what if the Cardinals lose this series and Rasmus turns into the star most people still think he can become?

Shawn (DC)

Can we talk about unsung heroes? How about Brandon Inge, how remarkable is that he is still playing and contributing, considering a few months ago he was in the minors with the realistic chance that he might not be back in the majors this year...wow...

David Schoenfield
  (1:09 PM)

No doubt. That's one of the things I love about the postseason: The little guys who come up big. Ramon Santiago -- for some reason Jim Leyland batted him second last night -- comes up with two huge hits. The stars need to produce, but sometimes it is the unsung heroes who can swing a series.

Buddy (Peoria, IL)

AJ has no idea where the ball is going. That's his career in a nutshell.

Jay (Kalamazoo)

Most likely scenario at 3B today for Detroit: Switch-hitting Betemit, on-fire Leyland-favorite Inge, or lefty Don Kelly and a double-switch for Inge later with Magglio to the bench?

David Schoenfield
  (1:12 PM)

I haven't seen tonight's lineup yet. I think he'll go with the lefties against Burnett, playing Betemit and Kelly. Although Porcello being a groundball guy, I could see Inge in there. With all the Yankee lefty hitters, I think Leyland probably likes Kelly's defense in right.

Mike (San Diego)

Wow, I wish I was as confident as Rich in Sun Valley about the Cardinals. Everything is pointing towards a strong start for Garcia, but something has me worried, although I'm not sure what. Also, that Hamels guy is pretty good...

David Schoenfield
  (1:14 PM)

Garcia's home ERA was much better. Oddly, his SO/BB ratio was actually better on the road, as was his K rate. For whatever reason, he just gave up a lot more hits on the road. I expect a tight, low-scoring game tonight, with maybe it coming down to the bullpens the final two innings. Lidge vs. Pujols? Let's see it happen!

Jeremy (Milwaukee)

Do the Brewers sweep tonight?

David Schoenfield
  (1:15 PM)

I say yes. Arizona starter Josh Collmenter hasn't pitched as well the second or third time he's faced teams and this will be his third start against the Brewers. The good for Arizona is that Marcum hasn't pitched that great his past few starts.

Mike P (Philadelphia)

I have no idea how the Phillies are going to be able to beat Sandy Drysdale in Game 3...how do you think they should approach the HOFer in waiting Jaime Garcia? Thanks, David

Ben (FL)

Hellickson vs. Harrison, Who has the edge?

David Schoenfield
  (1:21 PM)

Harrison has 2.99 ERA on the road, doesn't give up many home runs, pitched pretty well down the stretch. I'd give slight edge to Harrison, although he's really more of a six-inning guy. I wonder if Ron Washington will try and get two innings out of Ogando today if necessary. Hellickson battles, but in his last six starts he's allowed 20 walks with only 15 K's. I think he's bit fatigued. That inability to punch guys out could hurt him today.

Mike (San Diego)

Any tips on how to catch a cold within the next hour that will make me too sick to work but get me back on my feet tomorrow?

David Schoenfield
  (1:21 PM)

You haven't caught that 24-hour bug that's been going around?

ASN (NY)

Pitching idea for the Yankees tonight: AJ 3.2 IP, Phil Hughes 3.1 IP, Robertson 1 IP, Mo 1 IP. I don't trust Soriano.

David Schoenfield
  (1:24 PM)

Girardi HAS to be creative today. I think he's going to have get more than two innings out of Robertson/Rivera. He'll obviously have a quick hook with Burnett, but I'm not sure about Hughes. If Burnett can go five, I think you see Wade, Soriano, Robertson, Rivera, maybe Logan to match up with Avila. If Burnett gets knocked out before 5, maybe then you see Hughes.

Rod (Texs)

Is the Ranger/Rays game going to be a repeat of yesterdays game? I think the 7th, 8th and 9th innings lasted 3 times as long as innings 1-6 did.

David Schoenfield
  (1:26 PM)

I would expect a low-scoring game, but I am a bit worried about Hellickson. Again, you have to have a short leash if you're trailing in the series.

John (Virginia)

Hey, just an FYI. If you take out Hamels' 2009 playoff stats (that whole year was an aberration), he is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in the postseason. And in his last 10 regular season starts this year, Jaime Garcia is 3-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 10 starts. But Garcia is 2-1 with a 1.20 ERA in 4 career starts against Philly. Numbers make my brain itchy.

David Schoenfield
  (1:27 PM)

Right, you can pick and choose the data that works for you. Simple analysis: Cole Hamels is a better pitcher than Jaime Garcia. Of course ... anything can happen in the postseason!

David Schoenfield
  (1:27 PM)

Hey, question: What's your take on the umpiring? Looks like this is going to be a big theme again this postseason. Do you think it's been horrible? Do inconsistent strike zones bother you?

Dmitry (The Apple)

Who sets the playoff rosters for these teams? Is it only the manager who has final say? Only the GM? If they disagree, who wins?

David Schoenfield
  (1:29 PM)

Manager and GM work together. If they disagree? I think the manager wins out, because he has to explain how he'll use a guy (a pinch-runner/ defensive type, for example), or that he doesn't trust this guy, etc.

Stan (Boise)

From your blog: "No team has benefited from more blown calls over the years than the Yankees." Now we know who the real whiner is.

David Schoenfield
  (1:30 PM)

Just a statement of fact. Jeffrey Maier, Mark Langston had struck Tino in 1998 World Series, Knoblauch's phantom tag in '99, Joe Mauer foul ball ... a long list.

John (Virginia)

It's time for computers to call balls and strikes. The homeplate umpire should be sitting on a stool near the on-deck circle or the backstop and only spring into action for balks or plays at the plate. Or, in Jerry Meals' case, just balks.

bebopdeluxe (philly)

"Sandy Drysdale"...classic...but seriously, Garcia's start earlier this year came against a Phillies lineup featuring those noted mashers Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez, Michael Martinez and Dane Sardinha (!?!). Somehow, I think the going is a little tougher tonight - yes?

Rich (Sun Valley, Idaho)

Lidge vs. Pujols? Let's see it happen!Please God....I remember the train shot in Houston......

Ken (Palo Alto)

I have to tell you that as a long time Yankee hater, I love how the Yankees with their bloated payroll are reduced to praying that an 85 million dollar bust pitches like someone other than himself to save their butts. Just wish the Tigers were throwing somebody better out there against them.

Kent (NY)

David - But the yankees make the playoffs so many times their chances of getting those blown call opportunities is more than anyone else. But the yankees also take advantage of those calls and capitalize which is what you should do.

Brian (Bala Cynwyd, PA)

On the note of umpiring, that pitch that Chase Utley was called out looking on in game 2 was atrocious. I think Tony La Russa is way overrated but he is right, we need some consistency.

Jim (Monroe, NC)

Umpiring is bad during the regular season, too. It's just more magnified now.

The Man (Twin Falls, Idaho)

Stan - c'mon man.... Coming from an O's fan, please explain Jeffrey Maier.

Jay (NYC)

All my Yankee fan friends are about to jump, cursing at AJ and Arod. Arod isn't healthy and AJ hasn't pitched yet, LOL

David Schoenfield
  (1:33 PM)

And how does Mark Teixeira get away from the criticism? .202 career hitter in the postseason.

Keith (Philly)

I don't care what the strike zone looks like as long as it's the same for both teams. But when strike zones are different for each team, are changed because someone complains, or is different inning to inning, that's when it's getting out of hand.

Otto (CA)

Don't forget that Mo Rivera gets a half foot on each side of the plate like Maddux did.

Mike (Nowhere)

Is there a more classless manager in the bigs than La Russa? Complaining about the strike zone (which was consistentely BAD for BOTH teams) to the guys in the broadcast booth....unbelievable

ASN (NY)

Last nights home plate umpire for Detroit/Yankees sucked. Inconsistent with both pitchers, but squeezed CC more than Verlander (which pushed his pitch count high quickly when he had to strike out 5 guys before actually having his 3 outs, and 2 came from a DP anyway)

David Schoenfield
  (1:36 PM)

But according to the charts I saw, Gerry Davis had a WIDE zone. Both pitchers had five strikes called balls. CC had 13 balls called strikes and Verlander had 18 balls called strikes. So CC still walked six guys despite the wide zone. (And I got those numbers from our Yankees blog.)

Kent (NY)

Tell ASN the ump wasn't inconsistent. He just didn't give the outside corner to righties that CC needed. He gave that inside corner which Verlander used. I'm a Yanks fan but you can't blame the ump when CC can't make pitches to get Ramon Santiago and Brandon Inge out (both who wouldn't make the 25 man roster on any other playoff team).

Bob (Springfield, MO)

Don't forget Clements not getting tossed after he threw the bat barrel at Piazza.

George (St Pete)

No complaining....Rays got squeezed just as bad in shields start on saturday

Stan (Boise)

There was another play incorrectly called against the Yanks in the same Twins series, but I guess that doesn't bother you. And three plays from the 90s, two of which are debatable. The difference is Yankees fans don't dwell on the details. I can't even describe the play from the Twins series that was blown against the Yankes but O's fans still whine about Jeffrey Maier.

Mark (Allentown)

David, maybe the media hasn't been blasting Tex, but my Yankee fan friends sure have...

David Schoenfield
  (1:38 PM)

Haha, OK ... I guess A-Rod and A.J. are the just the easiest targets.

peter (ashville, nc)

your statement re: the yankees having benefited from lots of blown calls makes no sense at all. they've been involved in more calls, thus the potential for blown calls is greater than all other teams. aren't you supposed to be a stats guy?

Mike (San Diego)

TLR is just reading from the Phil Jackson playbook. Phil has done similar complaining his whole career. The Cards need all the help they can get right now anyways.

David Schoenfield
  (1:41 PM)

You know the coach who has the most influence over umpires/refs? Coach K. That guy is on refs for 40 minutes. Check Duke's free-throw advantages over the years, even though they are primarily a jump-shooting team. I'd like to give major league umps a little break and suggest that I don't think TLR actually influences them that much. The game changed the other night because Salas, Dotel and the bullpen pitched better than Carpenter.

Ken (Spokane)

Everyone wants to blame the Yanks getting so many blown calls on being there more often. Shouldn't there have been more bad calls against them too? Don't seem to recall too many of those.

ASN (NY)

If Girardi had B***, the starting luineup would be: Gardner, Jeter, Granderson, Cano, Swisher, Texeira, A-Rod, Posada, Martin (swap in Montero for Posada when needed)

David Schoenfield
  (1:42 PM)

Maybe he should sit A-Rod? He's hitting well under .200 since he returned from the DL in late August.

Nate (Madison)

What do you think of Milwaukee's looseness (e.g., their Beast Mode celebrations, etc)? As a Brewers fan, we love it, but I could see people (cough) the Cardinals (cough) getting their undies in a bundle over it.

David Schoenfield
  (1:43 PM)

I love it. Baseball needs MORE things like, more crazy characters like Jose Valverde. What's wrong with having a little fun out there?

Mike P (Philadelphia)

David, you're mailing in this chat more than Nicholson in the Departed!!

David Schoenfield
  (1:45 PM)

That's a low blow! But at least you didn't compare it to any of the last 15 movies DeNiro has made.

Rich (Sun Valley, Idaho)

Hey Mike from Nowhere: What LsRussa did in the last game is called "strategy." And it worked.

Larry (NY)

Will Joba get a ring if the Yankees win it all?

David Schoenfield
  (1:45 PM)

Usually anybody who appeared in a regular season game will get a ring.

Stan (Boise)

Bob in Springfield -- get your eyes checked. Clemens didn't throw the bat barrel AT Piazza -- he threw it away as Piazza ran near where the bat went. And that's supposed to be a blown umpire call. Sheesh!

David Schoenfield
  (1:46 PM)

I think Stan has an interesting view of Yankee history!

Kent (NY)

David - Why do people think Valverde is good? He would not be a top 10 relief pitcher to be taken if teams had a draft. He is overrated and this post season show just flat out lucky. And I don't want to hear this 49 for 49 saves thing since we all know saves are a meaningless stat.

David Schoenfield
  (1:49 PM)

Pretty much agree on all accounts. No idea how he managed not to blow a save. I keep saying that streak is going to end this postseason. Will be interesting to see if Leyland uses him tonight -- 53 pitches the past two days.

Jason (St Louis)

I'm licking my chops at the prospect of a Brewers/Cardinals NLCS. We'll party like it's 1982!

Rich (Evanston)

Agree with Shields over Moore in a Game 5? Boy, Moore looked tough...

David Schoenfield
  (1:50 PM)

Good question. As tough as Moore looked ... Shields IS one of the best pitchers in the league this year. I say you go Shields. And then you have Moore lined up for Game 1 of the ALCS. :-)

Stan (Boise)

@Ken (Spokane) The reason people don't remember so many blown calls against the Yankees is that the Yankees win the games anyway. In the game before the Mauer foul ball, Delmon Young was incorreclty ruled safe in the 9th inning. We don't remember that because the Yanks won anyway.

Mike (Ohio)

Clemens meant to toss it elsewhere but just "misrembered"

Dan (MI)

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/16614/mets-brand-moneyball-not-so-successful Saves may not be as overrated as we're led to believe, though Valverde does scare me every time he takes the mound.

Mark (Long Island)

Blown calls only go for the Yankees? As a Yankees fan, it really is an honor to see how many Yankee-haters are out there who are so blinded with jealousy.

joe (coram)

David, looking at balls and strikes charts tells you absolutely nothing about the situation those balls and strikes were called in. CC had to labor through 2 innings that he should have been out of much sooner (see AJax striking out multiple times in multiple at-bats but getting a base on balls). Charts only tell a small part of the story.

Mike (San Diego)

I've never understood Clemens' logic on that whole Piazza play. If he though it was the ball, it clearly would've been an E-1. Just saying.

Jason (St Louis)

Is it just me or does Josh Hamilton look like he's running with gravity boots on when legging it out to first?

Frank (Tucson)

Clemens had no idea where he was throwing the bat barrel, but if you were (hypothetically) on 'roids and had a piece of wood fly at you from 55 feet away, you'd throw that wood away instinctively too.

Mike (Detroit)

So Valverde in last 2 all star games was just what??? At some point the sample size of his work is getting large enough (not just this year) that you have to wonder

Jason (St Louis)

Hey Dave, which game are you most excited to watch today?

David Schoenfield
  (1:56 PM)

Hmm ... I guess I'm very intrigued to see how A.J. Burnett will do. And we have to remember: Rick Porcello isn't that great. I'll be surprised if we get more than 10 combined innings from those two guys, so it becomes a battle of the bullpens. Like I said earlier, I think a big key could be Girardi's willingness to stretch Robertson and Rivera for more than an inning.

Mike (Los Angeles)

The five-game opening series blows. A team like Arizona plays 162 games for possibly ONE playoff game. How is this thinking about the fans? Thoughts?

David Schoenfield
  (1:57 PM)

They play five games in seven days. Why not play seven games in seven days with no off days? No additional calendar dates needed.

Dan (Michigan)

Hold on a second with Valverde. He has a 0.55 ERA in save situations. ERA may be a flawed stat to some extent but at some point if nobody can drive in a run against you more often than once every 18 innings in save situations I don't think you can be labled as "not a good player". C'mon Dave how can you agree with that guy?

David Schoenfield
  (2:00 PM)

I didn't mean to suggest he's not good. He can be very tough to hit ... career .204 batting average allowed. It's just that USUALLY that walk rate will come back to haunt you a few times during the season. But he got the job needed this year and that IS the bottom line with closers. But he still makes me nervous ... :-)

Neil ((DC) )

As a Sox fan, the '99 ALCS seemed like the absolute apex of every call going the Yanks way. But the Sox, still kicked the ball around enough during those 5 games to get what was coming to them. And for the record, the Yankees were on the wrong-end of two over-turned calls in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. Albeit the right call was made in both instances.

Kent (NY)

@ Dan from Michigan - Because you are stating that a pitcher will pitch better under pressure situations than non pressure situations? Does he concentrate more? Does he try harder? That's absurd. No pitcher changes their approach. If they do, you don't want them on your team because they are a BAD PLAYER.

Mike (Delaware)

The reason they don't do 7 games in 7 days is that for some teams, they would have to do two coast-to-coast trips with no off-day. You could finish an "early" West Coast game at 7pm EDT, then have to play the latest East Coast game 25 hours later.

David Schoenfield
  (2:02 PM)

True. Plus the TV schedule complicates matters ... you could have a night game followed by a day game.

Theo Epstein (Beantown)

My next skipper is?????????

David Schoenfield
  (2:03 PM)

DeMarlo Hale?

Josh (Toronto)

Odds Porcello comes out with one of those games like the play-in against Detroit a couple years ago? The talent still has to be in there somewhere, right?

David Schoenfield
  (2:04 PM)

Certainly possible. BUT ... lefties hit .321 off him this year. Yankees are loaded with lefties and switch-hitters. Just doesn't seem like a good matchup to me.

MW (GB, WI)

David, Karabell on the podcast constantly mentions how he pretty much expects the MIL-AZ series to go back to Milwaukee. OK, I get it - the Brewers weren't great on the road in 2011. They also weren't abysmal - they were just under .500. That means I would pretty much expect them to win one game in Arizona, no? It's not like every road game is an automatic loss for them. They finished respectible on the road (if unremarkable).

David Schoenfield
  (2:05 PM)

Eric's an optimist! He just wants more baseball. But, yes, I'll be surprised if this series goes back to Milwaukee.

Michael (Davenport, IA)

How do you prepare for someone with an unusual delivery such as Collmenter? Are the Brewers going to be watching extra video of the two games from July, or can someone possibly mimic it during BP?

David Schoenfield
  (2:08 PM)

They've faced him twice, so that helps, but it's hard (impossible?) to replicate in BP, since nobody else really throws like that. He's basically fastball/changeup, so you get scouting reports on what counts he's most likely to throw the changeup.

Dan (MI)

@ Ken - I'm no psychologist, so I couldn't tell you, but you know some people crack under pressure. Jeter and other players are said to be clutch. Small sample size, or something real? It's not that they try harder, they are just better at dealing with pressure.

Mike (San Diego)

Theo's next manager will be Ryne Sandberg when they both go to the North Side together...

David Schoenfield
  (2:09 PM)

Theo wouldn't hire Francona? :-)

Mike (Boston)

Any chance Varitek would have a shot as the Sox new manager?

David Schoenfield
  (2:10 PM)

Hmm, that's an interesting suggestion. I'm trying to think of the last guy to go straight from playing to managing with no interval in-between. Pete Rose? Lou Piniella?

Jason (St Louis)

I think Old Hoss should be the Red Sox's new manager. If he can't instill discipline in that team no one can.

David Schoenfield
  (2:11 PM)

Although, I'm not sure how much discipline there was in the 1880s. Lots of drinking back then ... which, umm, maybe the Red Sox need to avoid.

Jay (Kalamazoo)

If Porcello struggles early (say, first few innings), does Leyland turn it over to the bullpen (Lefties Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth, and strikeout machine Al Albuquerque), or does he go with the 5th starter he took on the roster in Brad Penny?

David Schoenfield
  (2:11 PM)

I'd go Coke against all those Yankee lefties. I can't imagine good things happening with Brad Penny on the mound.

Bill (Detroit)

Kent (NY)...Irrrelevant. What matters about a closer is what he does in save situations...period. There is a pretty clear difference in the statistics with Valverde. You can attribute it to expanding the strike zone for hitters or whatever, but it is a fact that he shuts down the opposition when it counts. He has certainly been more reliable than Rivera this year.

David Schoenfield
  (2:13 PM)

Let's remember that Valverde did lose four games.

Mike (Boston)

Kinsler homers to lead off the 1st. Go Rangers!!!

David Schoenfield
  (2:13 PM)

OK, games are under way. Time to end the chat. Thanks for the discussion everyone. Go baseball!