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August 7, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (12:17 PM)

Hi! Sorry I'm late. Had some technical difficulties today. I only have limited time, so let's get started.

Cliff (Philadelphia)

Hey, do you think the Phillies should have just let Cliff Lee go to the Dodgers and just get rid of his salary? Or did the Phillies do the right ting by holding onto him?

Jayson Stark
  (12:19 PM)

The Phillies have squeezed themselves into such a tight spot, there might be no right answer. In a vacuum, they should have let the Dodgers take his money. But they've gotten themselves into a position where they're committed to trying to win, their payroll model has left them with very little flexibility and all their trades of recent years have left them with no position players to call up and plug holes. So their only ticket to contention next year is to hope their aces pitch like aces. And that's why Cliff Lee is still a Phillie. They could reconsider this winter, but I don't expect them to deal him now.

Dave (PHX)

Thoughts on the Dodgers being all mad about the Dempster situation? Seems to me they literally were trying to screw the Cubs, and when the Cubs called their bluff and traded him elsewhere, they got sour grapes. You have to give up talent to get it..

Jayson Stark
  (12:20 PM)

This has been a bizarre situation from the get-go. Depending on whom you believe, they offered the Cubs better players -- and more of them -- than they got from Texas, and the Cubs took Texas' offer just to prove a point. Or . . . the Dodgers thought they had all the leverage so they underbid and deserved what they got: i.e., nothing. But the guy who really made a mess of this was Dempster. He should have gone to Atlanta and saved everybody (including himself) the aggravation.

Seth (Ingold)

Is it likely the cubs re sign garza to a longer term deal in the off season, to then get a better trade package in return at next years trade deadline?

Jayson Stark
  (12:21 PM)

At this point, until they can determine how healthy (or not) he is, I don't see how they can either sign him or trade him. It's all up to his elbow, and triceps.

swag (Swagville)

Do you think the rays will make the playoffs now that they have longoria back?

Jayson Stark
  (12:23 PM)

I'm not certain how healthy Longoria is. The fact that he isn't likely to play third base any time soon tells us he's going to be very limited. But he's such a lineup-changing figure, I wouldn't bet against his doing something special. But I also wouldn't bet on the Rays to pass the Tigers and Angels at this point. They just haven't had that look for months.

Nate (Woburn, MA)

After the dreaded "Vote of Confidence" yesterday, does Bobby Valentine survive the season?

Jayson Stark
  (12:24 PM)

I think yesterday established that he'll survive the season. If they were hot to fire him, they'd have done it and hoped the change in voice at the top inspired them to make a run. There wouldn't be much point in waiting a few weeks and then canning him, right? But this offseason? That's another story. They've got a lot to resolve, and so does he for that matter.

Nick (Phoenix)

Miguel Cabrera is putting up MVP type numbers, is this the year he finally wins one?

Jayson Stark
  (12:25 PM)

If the season ended right now, Mike Trout would be the MVP. But Cabrera was my MVP pick, so I obviously wouldn't bet against it. A lot of things can happen in this sport in two months. And Cabrera putting himself in position to win an MVP award is one of them.

David (CT)

What other waiver wire deals do you see getting done before the August 31st trade deadline?

Jayson Stark
  (12:26 PM)

Jason Giambi would win my Most Likely to Get Traded award. Once he comes off the DL and proves he's healthy, he's the classic definition of a player who will wind up getting dealt somewhere in August.

Rick (Kansas)

What happened to the Royals? This was a year they were supposed to at least improve. They seem even worse! There's no light at the end of the tunnel for this team is there?

Jayson Stark
  (12:28 PM)

What happened? It's called P-I-T-C-H-I-N-G. Specifically starting pitching. All those starters heading for Tommy John Surgery undid any shot they had of making progress this year -- and probably jeopardized their chances of making much headway next year, either. They just don't have the healthy arms in their system to make that leap yet. The rest of the pieces are in place. But without a rotation that keeps you competitive, the good stuff gets negated. And you've been watching it get negated for four months.

Jay (Baltimore)

Do the Orioles have any staying power/chances to play meaningful late-september ball?

Jayson Stark
  (12:30 PM)

A team with a minus-50 run differential shouldn't be in position to make the playoffs. But we've been talking for four months about all the reasons the Orioles SHOULDN'T be where they are. And they just keep finding ways to hang in there. I wouldn't pick them to win the wild card, based on run differential, defense, strikeouts and rotation instability. But they've defied all the odds and predictions so far. So who's to say they won't keep right on doing it?

Hugh (UT)

Can the Pirates stay ahead of the Cards?

Jayson Stark
  (12:32 PM)

Like the Orioles, I don't see that, either. The Cardinals have the best run differential in baseball. And I'm skeptical that the Pirates' offense is as good as it's looked the last two months. And I know I'm not alone. But I hope I'm wrong on that count, too. I'd love nothing more than to see the Pirates playing baseball in October. Could there be a better story in this sport than that?

Greg (LA)

Why didn't Dempster just say "LA or nowhere"? Why would he want to go to that launching pad in TX?

Jayson Stark
  (12:34 PM)

When he said, "LA or Atlanta," he should have meant it. That was the problem. When they traded him to Atlanta, he should have gone. Would have been a much, much, much better fit than Texas.

Andrew (San Fran)

Tonight's the anniversary of Barry Bonds' #756. Do you think he should be in the hall of fame and do you think he will be?

Jayson Stark
  (12:36 PM)

Barry isn't going into the Hall of Fame. That's the easy part of that question. We know there are way too many voters who will never vote for a guy like him. But he'll stay on the ballot for a long time, because there are going to be some of those voters who make the argument he was a Hall of Famer before he used any PEDs, so that puts him in a special category. My take, as always, is that I'm tired of being asked to guess who did what, when they did it and how much it changed their careers. It's a guessing game that's impossible to play. So I'm inclined just to vote for players I think are deserving and let the Hall of Fame figure out how to explain the steroid era. But we can revisit this topic in December -- and for the next decade!

Paul (Albany, OR)

I have seen your answers related to run differential, and my main thought is that a 6-1 win counts as much as a 3-2 win, while an 8-1 loss counts the same as a 2-1 loss yet they skew the run differential numbers. Since this is a team sport, sometimes those quirky numbers do not mean as much as the W or the L. Just sayin.

Jayson Stark
  (12:37 PM)

You know, I agree with you to a large extent. Run differential is a useful stat to help us predict what is likely to happen, and that's how I've applied it in this chat. But it doesn't change what's actually happened, and that's what matters. At the end of the year, you are what your record says you are, not what your run differential (or any other metric) says you should have been.

Kyle (NYC)

Are there any baseball novels that you would recommend?

Jayson Stark
  (12:39 PM)

I'll tell you a really fun book that has never gotten the attention I thought it deserved: "Vera Cruz Blues," by my friend, Mark Winegardner. A novel based on actual events that is a great read. Check it out!

Alex (Philly)

Why are the Phillies already being counted out? They're 13.5 games out in the beginning of August. The Cardinals were 10 out at the beginning of September. There are also 2 wild card spots this year giving even more of an opportunity.

Jayson Stark
  (12:40 PM)

Alex, you're kidding right? They'd have to go 41-12 to win 90 games. And they have to pass, what, six teams? That's just not happening, man. Sorry.

Jayson Stark
  (12:40 PM)

Speaking of sorry, I have a really tight schedule today, so I can only take one more.

Jason (St Louis)

Jayson, I'm curious how this will work. Say the Pirates and Cardinals both get the WC. Will the winner of that game play the Reds, assuming they are tops in the NL? I thought in the past the WC winner wouldn't play someone in their division in the first round.

Jayson Stark
  (12:41 PM)

The rule that said the wild card can't play the first-place team in its division has been changed. So you're correct. If either the Pirates or Cardinals were to win the wild-card survivor game and the Reds are the No. 1 seed, the wild card plays the Reds. Had to be done that way for scheduling reasons.

Jayson Stark
  (12:41 PM)

Thanks to everybody who checked in. See you down the road in Chat Land.