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April 16, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jerry Crasnick

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:00 PM)

Hi folks, Let's talk some baseball. Hopefully I won't bunt into any triple plays on this chat. Let's get started.

Matthew (Columbia, NJ)

Hi Jerry, Cole Hamels is a great pitcher, but each day goes by without him signing an extension is making me more convinced that he is elsewhere in 2013. Agree?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:02 PM)

Matthew, My gut tells me the Phillies' chances of re-signing Cole Hamels aren't great. He's going to want at least as much as Matt Cain, and I don't think Ruben Amaro is willing to go to those lengths. I know Hamels enjoys playing in Philly and would love to stay, but if the Dodgers beckon next offseason and he could return to his backyard in SoCal, that would have to be awfully tempting.

Dennis (MI)

Although it only the first week of the season, do you think the white sox can stay in contention with the tigers? i think the sox can, ventura has them playing good ball so far.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:03 PM)

Dennis, That rotation is competitive if Jake Peavy is back and Chris Sale can hold up, but I don't see enough offense out of that bunch. Could they finish second in the AL Central? Sure. Can they maintain contact with the Tigers or make a serious run at a playoff berth? I still don't see it.

Will (Florida)

Jerry after a terrible spring and first 2 starts how short of a leash are the D-Backs going to have Collmenter on? Is T.Bauer's promotion getting closer now? Thanks

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:05 PM)

Will, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Trevor Bauer in the D-backs rotation before the All-Star break. I assume they'll give Collmenter a few more starts. But if he's 7 or 8 starts in and still struggling, that would bump up the Bauer timetable considerably.

Greg (LA)

Hope Mike S reads this - every day that Peter Bourjos doesn't play CF and Trumbo and Morales aren't in the lineup is a day that you made a mistake.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:07 PM)

Greg, I'm happy to pass it along. Bourjos certainly gives them defense, speed and energy they can't replace with anyone else (at least, until Mike Trout arrives). I'm not sure where things are headed with Trumbo. He just doesn't look comfortable at third, and you can only do so much to pound a square peg into a round hole.

Sean (Boston)

Is Bobby V already losing this team? His "look at me" attitude seems to have already turned off a lot of the fan base, but what about the players?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:08 PM)

Sean, We'll see, but that Youkilis debacle clearly didn't help. I heard Valentine's explanation on the radio before the game today, and it just didn't ring true. He has a penchant for creating little controversies where they don't exist, and that's fine when the team is winning. If they're losing or muddling along at .500 ... not so much.

Matt (Centreville, VA)

Hey Jerry, I always enjoy reading through your chats. Braves fill-in-the-blank: The Braves will come in ________ place and win between ____ and ____ games. Thanks!

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:10 PM)

Matt, This team was pretty darned good until September last year, so I'm sure a lot of us were too harsh on them based on that late fade and their lousy spring. I think they're an 88-90 win team in a best case scenario. I didn't pick them for the playoffs, but their fate could rest on the Nationals and the Marlins. Hard to tell yet how good either of those two teams will be.

Silv (NY, NY)

JC and the Sunshine Band! Yes, the 9-1 start has been built against the Padres and the Pirates. HOWEVER, the Dodgers do boast an above average starter 1-5, the (arguably) best SP and position player in the NL (if not all of baseball) and, with the ownership mess seemingly sorting itself out, the ability to be active on the trade market to shore up their holes (kaff..kaff...DAVID WRIGHT...kaff). Cautious optimism to be sure, but any reason that Dodger fans shouldn't be enthused about the early jelling of the team?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:12 PM)

Silv, Hey, 9-1 is 9-1, so feel free to enjoy it. When Chris Capuano is pitching well and Aaron Harang strikes out 9 straight guys in a start, that's a pretty darned good rotation from 1-5. I talked to some scouts in spring training who considered the Dodgers a legit darkhorse team. We'll know more once the sked ramps up. But so far, so good.

Chris (NYC)

What's wrong with Bobby Valentine? He's been the Red Sox manager for about a month and already had to apologize to Youkalis and Derek Jeter. He seems to be even bigger fool now than he was when he was with the Mets.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:14 PM)

Chris, Here's what strikes me about the whole situation. Terry Francona was great at defusing problems by using humor and communicating directly with players. But someone in Boston thought his approach had run its course. Bobby V is a really smart guy, but he almost seems to get bored when things are rolling along calmly and serenely, so he says little things to the media that create problems. I don't think that's a great approach in Boston, where you can always find controversy without trying. So I don't think he's the greatest fit for the Red Sox. But what do I know?

Jon (DC)

Best rotation top to bottom lies just north of the Potomac, no?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:16 PM)

Jon, I don't know if I'd christen it the best just yet. Two weeks into the season, I'll take Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Worley and Blanton. But I will say this: There's probably not a rotation with the pure "stuff" to match the Nationals' group. Mike Rizzo loves power pitching, and he's assembled an impressive collection of it there.

Steven (Canada)

Any chance the Blue Jays can get Cole Hamels if he dosnet stay?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:18 PM)

Steven, As a free agent, or in a trade? I think Hamels will have enough big market suitors as a free agent that Toronto wouldn't rank at the top of his list. And Alex Anthopoulos doesn't seem like the type to raid the farm system for a two-month trade rental in July. Beyond that, the Phils would have to really tank for Ruben Amaro to consider moving Hamels this summer. So in a nutshell, the answer is no.

Matt (Astoria)

I've learned to just trust that Joe Maddon is smarter than me, so I know that hitting Pena in the 2 hole and (sometimes) Keppinger cleanup is the right idea. But can you explain to me why it's a good idea? My layman's brain can't wrap around the idea.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:21 PM)

Matt, I don't know precisely what his thinking was in those two instances. But Joe Maddon uses stats a lot in formulating his decisions. So I assume there's a very logical explanation based on matchups. He doesn't just do things based on his "gut" or by the seat of his pants.

Jay (DC)

Matt Wieters and Adam Jones, great choices for having breakout offensive years, really gonna impress some people, right?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:22 PM)

Jay, They're both on an upward trajectory, given their age and ability. So it wouldn't surprise me to see both guys continue to improve. "Breakout" is all relative, I guess.

Ryan (ATL)

With the Rockies third base situation what it is, and Arenado tearing up the minors, how long until he is starting at Coors?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:24 PM)

Ryan, I saw Nolan Arenado in spring training, and he really stood out to me because of his bat and his maturity. The kid just looked like he belonged. I remember thinking, "He's really going to push them to call him up fast." Assuming he made the same impression on Jim Tracy and Dan O'Dowd, I doubt they'll baby him any longer than necessary.

Jake (Toronto)

Jerry, is Kyle Drabek's start legit?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:25 PM)

Jake, It'll be interesting to see how he fares the second time through the league. But the kid has been labeled an elite prospect for a reason. He's taken a couple of lumps already, and it appears he's learned some lessons and matured. So yeah, I think it's legit.

Jesse (Minnesota)

The past week has seemed to prove what everybody already seems to know: The Twins are bad and are only going to get worse with no starting pitching and a week upper-minor league system. With Mauer/Morneau immovable and the need to rebuild with new younger players, does Gardenhire get shown the exit?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:27 PM)

Jesse, I wrote a Twins story last week, and I was surprised to see the level of anger some people in Minnesota have for Ron Gardenhire. The problems you cite -- mediocre starting pitching and a weak farm system -- weren't caused by Gardenhire, were they? If the Twins fire him, he won't be out of work for long.

Mike (San Diego)

Jerry, how good is the Padres farm system? If they can't beat out any of the AAA guys currently on the big league roster, I'm thinking it's a bit overrated. Your thoughts? Padres stink! Hard to watch them on TV

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:29 PM)

Mike, I still like the Mat Latos trade, and from everything I've heard, seen and read, the Padres have markedly upgraded their farm system. I know it's been an ugly 10 days, but let's give it a little time. Even in the best of times, the Pads aren't going to be a scintillating TV view -- because they have to be all about pitching and defense in that park.

Ross (Long Island)

Can the Mets actually make the NL East more interesting or do you have to see more?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:30 PM)

Ross, I was down at the Mets-Phillies game yesterday, and there's an upbeat vibe in that clubhouse. I like the fact that they have a bunch of kids in the lineup. Terry Collins is a good fit for that team, and the starting rotation is decent. But I'm still not sold they're going to win more than 75 games. Not much depth, and that's an awfully challenging division.

Eric (Chicago)

Regarding Joe Maddon...Pena is an OBP guy, just what he wants in the 2 hole.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:32 PM)

Eric, Right. It's just that most managers wouldn't put a 30-homer, 150-strikeout guy in the No. 2 spot because he has a career .350 OBP. But Joe Maddon isn't "most managers."

Connor (Madison)

In your opinion which team could you see winning 100 games? I think the Tigers have the best shot but the Cardinals have impressed me too...

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:34 PM)

Connor, The Tigers clearly have a better chance of winning 100 than the Cardinals. If you told me Chris Carpenter would return at full strength and Adam Wainwright is 100 percent after TJ surgery, I can see St. Louis being very good. But the Cardinals only won 90 games last year with Albert Pujols. 100 is a little bit of a stretch.

dan (Chicago)

Miguel Cabrera is 0-18 in his last 18 at bats. Saw him at the Cell this weekend and he looked off. His defense at 3rd has been solid, but could the added physical strain from the position be affecting his performance behind the plate?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:36 PM)

Dan, I don't worry about a guy like Cabrera based on his track record. I doubt it's the physical strain of the position change. And he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would take his defense to the plate. Check back in a month. If he's struggling then, we'll have something legit to discuss.

John (Cincinnati, OH)

I know everybody thinks Valentine is terrible. In Cincinnati, we would trade Dusty Baker for him in a second.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:36 PM)

John, Congratulations -- you win a prize for the first disparaging Dusty Baker reference out of Cincinnati. (Now I just have to figure out what the prize is).

Rich (NYC)

What do you expect to see from Tim Lincecum tonight?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:38 PM)

Rich, I don't know -- and neither does Bruce Bochy. It's of concern that his velo is down, obviously, but you have to give a guy with Lincecum's track record a little bit of rope. Some of these starters are so good, everyone goes into a tizzy when they have a bad stretch. Remember the tough run that Lincecum in August of 2010? He bounced back pretty well from that, as I recall.

Eric (Chicago)

Prize for John is a box of toothpicks.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:39 PM)

Thanks for the quick thinking, Eric. Or maybe some Reds wristbands.

Flemming (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Jerry, it's early of course, but how safe is Scioscia? I've always thought he was overrated, the Angels haven't been in the playoffs for a while, Moreno did spend A LOT of money and, honestly, every time I see Trumbo in the lineup, I'm just BAFFLED........

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:40 PM)

Flemming, Mike Scioscia's contract runs through 2018, so I assume he's safe for a while. As for Trumbo, someone earlier in this chat was upset on nights when he's NOT in the Angels lineup.

Chet (LA)

Jerry, it's clear the prize should be a torn labrum isn't it?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:41 PM)

Chet, Thanks for chiming in as part of the Dusty Baker Prize Patrol.

Zolty (NY)

What is more surprising to you: The Dodgers 9-1 or the Angels 3-6?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:42 PM)

Zolty, Probably the Dodgers' 9-1. I know they've faced some weak competition, but they really seem to be making a statement. And Matt Kemp ... wow.

brian (vegas)

Trevor Bauer is issuing a lot of free passes in the minors along with the strikeouts. Is this something that needs to be taken care of on the Farm or are high walks just going to be "a part of his game?"

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:45 PM)

Brian, I just checked. Bauer has 12 walks and 20 strikeouts in 15.2 innings over three starts. He's a high effort guy, so I think his control can wander at times if his delivery gets out of sync. But he'll be fine.

Mark (DC)

Jerry, what players have suprised you with better than expected starts to the season, and can they sustain it?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:47 PM)

Mark, I'm impressed by Austin Jackson's start in Detroit. He's not going to hit .400. But he's a very impressive kid to me -- seems coachable, very serious and willing to put in the time. If he can hit .280, improve his contact rate and give the Tigers that great defense, he'll be a very important piece for that club.

Matt (San Antonio)

What is the potential for Derrick Holland and Matt Harrison?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:49 PM)

Matt, I did a piece on the Rangers' rotation in spring training and asked some guys if they have a legit No. 1 on that staff, and a few people mentioned Derek Holland. Any time a lefty can run it up there at 93-96, he's legit. I like Harrison too. He really went to school on refining his game with help from the Maddux brothers. Even if neither of those guys is a true No. 1, I think Holland is a 2 and Harrison can be a good 3. Not bad at all

Jason (Detroit)

Jerry -- Moustache party, Muldoon's in Auburn Hills, April 28.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:49 PM)

Jason, I'll try to make it. Are Sidney Crosby and Derek Holland coming, too.

Neufeldt (New Berlin, WI)

Assuming that the Padres are out of it, is Houston Street a likely trade target this summer?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:51 PM)

Neufeldt, Yep, to me he seems like a prime asset for Josh Byrnes to try and market at the deadline. Not overpowering, but a savvy guy and he could fill a spot for a contender in need (even as an eighth inning guy)

Paul (NJ)

Can I trust the White Sox bullpen or is it just a matter of time?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:52 PM)

Paul, I'd be more concerned with the offense around Konerko. If they don't get more out of the bats, they won't have many leads to protect.

Paul (NJ)

KW was pretty proud all weekend by the White Sox start. How long before they return to earth and he has to explain to Reinsdorf why he should still be employed?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:53 PM)

Paul, Yikes. It sounds like you're a "glass half empty" kind of guy. (Although I agree with you that the Sox are going to be kind of mediocre this season)

Norman (NY)

What's the bigger problem for the Brewers, the lineup without Prince Fielder or the backend of the rotation?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:56 PM)

Norman, That team is built around pitching. Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson are what they are -- No. 5 starter types. If they can pitch to 4.00 ERAs, the Brewers can be competitive. If not (and if Greinke's impending free agency starts to weigh on him), it could be a challenging summer in Milwaukee.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:57 PM)

Thanks for the emails, everybody. Let's do it again next week. I'm sure Ozzie Guillen and/or Bobby Valentine will do something interesting to spur conversation between now and then.