Hey everybody, Just back from a vacation week in my home state of Maine. It was very cool getting a chance to see the Sea Dogs and the New Britain Rock Cats at Hadlock Field. Let's start the chat.
Is Zack Greinke's cost to sign this offseason going down as a result of his struggles?
BravesFan, It can't help. As talented as Zack Greinke is, he's always going to encounter questions about how well-suited he is to pitch in a big market -- and those are the teams with the most money to spend in free agency. But all it takes is a run of 4-5 good starts in a row for him to start generating more buzz again. He's eminently capable of that.
Hey Jerry, i set up a fake website so i can hide the fact that whatever i have been taking has improved my softball stats by +350OPS. :)
Tarek, I like it. Both funny and topical.
Should Charlie Manuel be the next manager fired?
Harrison, Not in my opinion. The guy has had an amazing run in Philly, and I don't think you force him out based on one bad year (especially when he's had so many key players injured and the bullpen all but wrecked their season). I think Charlie is back in 2013, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a change or two in the coaching staff.
Jerry,Given the team's overall health compared with others such as Boston, are the Angels the most disappointing team to this point?
Joe, They're up there. A lot of people (me included) anointed them a shoo-in to make the postseason after they picked up Greinke at the deadline. But they're not the only disappointing club this season. The Tigers and Phillies are among the others that spring to mind.
Jerry, I know that Mike Trout was one of the highest rated prospects in baseball, but did you honestly think that he would put up these kinds of eye-popping stats in his first full season? I mean .343, 24 HR, 70 RBI, 96 R, and 39 SB....and he didn't even start the season with the Angels.
Jeff, Obviously I would be lying if I said that. But I remember doing a piece in spring training, and Torii Hunter and the other players raved about Trout's plate awareness and ability to work a count. He has a real solid based to work from at the plate. It's amazing how advanced he is at such a young age -- particularly when he didn't have the luxury of marathon high school seasons as a teen in New Jersey.
jumpfrog from the last question - is it really Mills fault where the Astros are? What benefit is there from firing him now? I would like to better understand what he could have done to change the current state of the team...
Todd, I think it was almost a mercy firing. It couldn't have been fun for Brad Mills and his staff, and I don't think things were going to get better. I'll be interested to see how the Astros respond to Tony DeFrancesco. Remember a couple of years ago when there were all those reports about how "energetic" Mike Quade was and how much the Cubs players loved him? That one didn't work out so hot. But DeFrancesco deserves an audition after all those years toiling in the minors.
The Phillies finances are easily discoverable online and show that they can afford to sign Josh Hamilton, Kevin Youkilis and Melky Cabrera this winter without trading Cliff Lee, so why do you and others at ESPN continue to loudly insist otherwise? Team President Dave Montgomery has stated on the Phillies Web site that paying the taxes on payroll is NOT a problem.
Free, They already have about $125 million tied up in seven players. And even if they were inclined to spend $$, I don't think that's where they would spend it. Do you really think Philly is a good place for a guy with Josh Hamilton's off-field history -- or Melky Cabrera's current PED issues? Seriously?
I've heard the Red Sox would be in on Farrell again after the season to become their manager but why not consider Mills? He's available and won't require compensation to get him.
Jason, Maybe Mills could come back to Boston and have Terry Francona be his bench coach. Seriously, I think the Red Sox would be inclined to look at a fresh face if ownership goes ahead and decides to can Bobby Valentine. I'm still not convinced that's going to happen. But the Sox definitely have a lot of internal issues to resolve in the offseason.
C.Young(ariz) showing signs of life again! Just a small streak and back to the .205's again soon? Frustrating to see talented players not reach their potential! Thanks
Logan, At this stage of Chris Young's career, what you see is what you get. He's a low OBP (.320) center fielder with power and a good glove out there. But he's almost 29 now, and the contact issues are going to prevent him from ever reaching the potential some people envisioned for him earlier in his career.
What are the Reds' weaknesses that could keep them from getting to the World Series?
Pokey, I don't see anything glaring. It'll be interesting to see how guys like Latos, Bailey and Cueto hold up in October if they all go wire to wire and make 32 or 33 starts. In the past I might have said that the Reds offense was too strikeout-prone and would be challenged to grind out tough ABs against elite pitching in October. But they're in the middle of the pack in K's this year, so it's a tough lineup to navigate now.
How is H.Street doing on DL and does he return fairly soon to closer role? Have heard conflicting reports. Thanks jerry
Kendall, Huston Street is due off the DL from his calf injury next weekend, but the Padres don't expect him back that soon. Best case, it sounds like he'll be pitching again sometime in early September.
Is Ichiro thriving in the spotlight, or is he just bouncing back to his usual numbers?
Alex, I just think the guy is energized by playing in a pennant race, and he has less pressure on him hitting well down in the batting order with so many good players around him. I talked to a bunch of players at the deadline, and it's amazing what a change of scenery can do for a veteran player who's suddenly dropped into the middle of a pennant race.
Why wouldn't Philly be a 'good place for a guy with Josh Hamilton's off-field history?' Cabrera is a different story, but Hamilton would be absolutely revered. Ask Ibanez, Victorino, Pence, etc., what they thought of their time in Philly.
Sam, I personally don't think Josh Hamilton would be well-served playing for any of the hyper-intense east coast media market teams, whether it's the Phillies, the Red Sox or one of the New York teams. The guy has overcome serious drug and alcohol issues, and he has a lot to deal with other than baseball. He doesn't need all the drama that comes with umpteen beat writers day in and day out. That's just my opinion.
Does the pythagorean expectation approach get adjusted for rosters or for the most recent stretch of games (maybe greater weight for run diff over the past 60 games)? I'm a data guy, so I understand the value of the method, but it seems like it could be made more effective (see Orioles 66-55).
Zack, Great question. I wish I had an answer for it. It seems to me that if the Orioles are 23-6 in one-run games and 12-2 in extra inning games, they're do for something to go wrong eventually. Just for fun, I'll run that one past the ESPN stat guys and see if they have an answer. (Not today, unfortunately).
When did Philly fans turn into Yankee fans? Can't they see you cannot buy a pennant? Spend spend spend and you will continue to be embarrased with an aging, underperforming, past their prime over-paid roster. See 2012 Phillies.
George, I agree that the Phillies were due for a fall eventually. They have $124 million tied up in 7 players, and only one of them (Cole Hamels) is under 30. They've really taken a bite out of the farm system in the process. It's more of a "go for it now" philosophy than something that's sustainable over the longterm.
Any chance the Brewers will bring up any players even though they are out of the postseason? Maybe some bullpen help or Schafer and Gindl in the outfield?
Dave, I haven't seen much on the Brewers' September callups. I know Shaun Marcum is supposed to come back soon, so that's one addition to the staff without calling up someone from the minors. I doubt they'll add more than a body or two, so they really don't have much to play for in September.
Seriously Jerry, do you think having three starting pitchers making $70mil makes sense if your lineup can't hit it's way out of a paper sack? Is that a World Series contender?
Free, Not this year, it isn't.
Apparently the lightbulb turned on for Jeremy Guthrie. With him becoming a free agent after the season, do you think the royals will try to sign him in the offseason?
Jason, I suspect they'll make a run at him, sure. He's a hard worker and a good guy in the clubhouse, so he could rub off in a positive way on their young guys. He won't cost a fortune, and he did a nice job for several years as an innings eater in Baltimore. Why not?
Adam Rubin of ESPNNY reported that the Mets payroll is expected to stay the same from its historic drop last year, and may even be slashed further. Why is MLB allowing a major market team in a huge baseball market like New York to operate like a mid market team? Shouldn't MLB force a sale of the Mets like they did to the Dodgers?
Abdullah, Bud Selig and baseball generally looked at the Wilpons as solid owners for years (and as everybody knows, Bud and Fred Wilpon are pals). I'm sure MLB would like to find a way to infuse some cash into the operation, but it's not easy to pull off when the Wilpons want to maintain control.
Verlander has been up and down lately. Do you think that the ASG blowup is still in the back of his mind and is playing tricks on him?
Craig, I don't think so. I was at the ASG and Verlander seemed like he was ready to blow off that outing pretty quickly. He's second in the AL with a 2.53 ERA and he has 181 strikeouts in 180 innings. Most pitchers should be that "up and down."
Jerry: The Cards as a team have a pretty good batting avg and decent amount of runs scored but it seems to me that alot of that is done in blowout games....they're hitting in close games is absolutly pathetic....thoughts???
Kardfan, I checked and the Cardinals are third in the NL in OPS after the 7th inning, so it's not as if they just shut it down late. But they're 13-21 in one-run games and 3-9 in extra innings, so it's put a big spotlight on their failures. I imagine guys have started pressing about it because everyone brings it to their attention and they keep hearing about it every day.
Keith Law doesn't have Miguel Cabrerea on his top 5 AL MVP Ballot. With opinions like that shouldn't he be shining your shoes and getting coffee for you rather than having a column?
Ryan, Hey, I respect Keith's opinion. I saw what he wrote, and he placed a big emphasis on Cabrera's poor defensive metrics (and rewarded Austin Jackson for his great defense in center field). I put Cabrera in my top 5 because I'm wary of some of the new defensive metrics, and I think Cabrera is such a force at the plate that his offense more than counteracts his sub-par glove.
Jerry, how lucky did the Braves get that Dempster turned them down and they got Maholm instead?
Chris, Ryan Dempster probably would be pitching a lot better if he had stayed in the National League where the lineups aren't as strong and he had the familiarity factor working for him. Not a great call on his part.
Is Machado in the bigs for good?
DC, I have to think so. It just depends on how much patience the Orioles have with him when he struggles. And that's going to happen at some point.
Do you think the White Sox will hold on and take the Central?
Don, It's just a pick em at this point between them and Detroit. The Tigers have enough talent to turn it on and outlast them if they can ever get their act together.
Your best guess, is Terry Francona managing next season and if so where?
Mike, There aren't that many places that could pay him what he was accustomed to making in Boston. We really won't know until we see how the season plays out and where the openings are. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but let's wait until October.
What has gotten into Chad Billingsley after that trip to the DL? 6 straight wins, and a 1.30 ERA... If he pitches like he has been, Kershaw - Billingsley is as good a 1-2 as there is.
John, Chad Billingsley was a huge prospect at one point and he's always seemed like a guy who could break through with a little better consistency and focus. He's sure picked a good time for it.
Hey Which free agents do see redsox going after? They need pitching help / who could possibly replace David Ortiz if he leave's?
Josh, It's not a great free agent class, and I don't see the Red Sox in mega-spending mode as long as they're still saddled with Crawford's deal and some of their other big contracts. As for Ortiz, I still think he winds up back in Boston. If not, maybe the Sox follow the lead of some other clubs and go with more of a community approach at DH.
So Ryan thinks a guy with a different opinion than he has should be shining your shoes? Great to see how open minded he is.
Andrea, I didn't mean to stir up a hornets nest by posting that. I just think the difference of opinion reflects how writers view the award races differently depending on their orientation now. It's a challenge trying to factor in a player's defensive contribution, because it's so much harder to quantify than offense.
Jerry, who do you have as Manager of the year? I would go with Maddon and Mattingly (bias as he is my fav player ever) But I can see Geren, Buck, Davey J and Hurdle all in the mix as well.
Tarek, Right now I would have to go with Buck Showalter in the AL and Clint Hurdle in the NL. But these things obviously have a way of changing when September comes.
The Nats have to be the least talked about team in history for having the best record in baseball this late in the year. What gives, Jerry?
Matt, There's been so much focus on Bryce Harper's callup (early) and Stephen Strasburg's workload (since Day 1), the rest of that team has fallen through the cracks a little bit. But don't despair: They'll get plenty of attention in October.
Is scioscia's job safe?
Steve, He's under contract through 2018 (I believe), so Arte Moreno would have to be disappointed beyond belief to sack him now. In a nutshell, yeah, I think he's safe.
Was grabbing Hanley Ramirez a great deal or what? Hanley seems to be rejuvenated and returning to the Hanley of old
Magic, A change of scenery was definitely good for Hanley. But when his OPS goes from .749 in Miami to .895 in LA, you have to wonder whether he was very engaged or giving it his all for the Marlins. That's the problem people have had with Ramirez, and might always have with Ramirez. He seems to play hard and play well only when he feels like it.
Is Melky blackballed by teams this offseason? It's understandable a team would sign him after just the PED suspension, but to add the fake website to try to hide the fact, it's not hard to see teams avoiding him.
Brian, I think somebody will sign him, but it will only be for one year at a fraction of the $$ he could have gotten. By December or January, the outrage might have subsided a little bit. But this episode is definitely going to tarnish Melky's reputation for the rest of his career.
Does MLB have any authority to impose additional punishment for Cabrera's failed ruse? Failing a drug test is one thing, but trying to set up a fake website to weasel your way out of it and trick MLB investigators is another. Am I wrong to think that this is pretty sleazy thing to do?
Cheese, I haven't had a chance to check with MLB on this. But if there's a way to impose a great punishment on him than 50 games, I'm sure they're looking into it.
Who would get your vote for NL roy? It has to be Todd Frazier or Wade Miley right? I know Harper projects by far and away the best, but at this moment he's not the best rookie.
Drew, I picked Wade Miley as my top NL rookie when we did our votes last week. But Frazier has been terrific for the Reds.
Cubs signing Castro to 6-7 year deal for $60 million... I completely believe he's worth it. What do you think?
Alex, He's worth it, talent-wise. He needs to mature, but you just don't find shortstops who can deliver that kind of production year in and year out. Hopefully he takes on the responsibility of the new deal and grows up rather than looking at it as a license to coast. I'm sure the Cubs people did their homework and thought he was a good bet longterm.
Thanks for the questions, everybody. Let's do it again next week.