Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 19, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (1:06 PM)

Greetings! I'm here. Sorry about the delay. Had some technical difficulties, but they're straightened out now. I know it's a tough day out there in the real world, so let's refocus for the next hour and talk baseball.

Jayson Stark
  (1:06 PM)

Oh. And one more thing. There WILL be a trivia question in a half-hour or so. Stay tuned.

Bruce-Locked Down (Newton, MA)

Thanks for this diversion on a stressful day...would love to see NL adopt DH. If this is ever done, would the powers that be change the rules to allow shifting in game DH to field and sub'ing with another DH? Or, do you expect that the current rule would be kept, when the DH moves to a fielding position, the DH would be lost and we'd have to endure pitchers trying to hit? Thanks!

Jayson Stark
  (1:10 PM)

Hi Bruce. I wrote about this very issue last week, actually. I see us heading for a world where the National League eventually adopts the DH rule as we know it, without gimmicks or changes like the one you're proposing. I don't know exactly when that will happen, because it sure ain't happening while Bud Selig is the commissioner. And it's not a topic of the owners these days, either. But I see a change in the way NL general managers and front-office people look at the DH now, so I see them pushing this issue down the road. And year-round interleague play just gives them more reason to do so.

Mike (Atl)

Jayson, if your the Braves, what do you do with McCann when he comes back? Certainly a proven guy, but obviously not the same player as a few years ago, yet playing for a new deal. Gattis, obviously is tearing it up, but a small sample size. How would you handle it?

Jayson Stark
  (1:12 PM)

That's going to be really interesting to watch. It all depends on McCann, I think. He has meant so much to that team that they need to give him every opportunity to show he's healthy and can be some semblance of the player he used to be, now that he's had that surgery. But they obviously need to find Gattis playing time, with no real position to do that. So let's watch this closely. It has a chance to be turbulent if McCann's getting limioted at-bats after he comes back.

Jeremy (DC)

Jayson, on Zimmerman's well-documented issues throwing to first: leaving aside his multiple surgeries, are the Yips a real thing?

Jayson Stark
  (1:14 PM)

Absolutely, they're real. Ask Mackey Sasser or Steve Sax or the many other players who have been there, done it. I keep hearing the Nationals believe Zimmerman's issues are more mental than physical now. But I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I just know that, despite all their upbeat talk, they're more concerned about this than they let on.

Brian (CA)

If MLB ever added 2 more teams, do you see them eliminating interleague play? The World Series doesn't seem as exciting when we more than likely have seen the two teams play each other earlier in the season.

Jayson Stark
  (1:16 PM)

Expansion isn't on the table, so that's kind of a moot point right now. Until the future of the A's and Rays is sorted out, expansion isn't an issue. But I can tell you I've heard players talk about going to 32 teams at some point, which wouldn't eliminate interleague play (that's here to stay) but at least would give them the option to get away from year-round interleague play.

Chris (Troy)

Jayson, NL fans don't want the DH. Stop rallying for it. We don't want to watch broken down 40 year olds who cant play defense, play this game.

Jayson Stark
  (1:17 PM)

I'm not rallying for it. I actually would love to see a world with no DHs. But I'm continuously told that's not happening. All I'm doing is passing along the shifting currents inside the sport. That's not the same as "rallying" in my dictionary.

Elvis (Tupelo, MS)

As a Yankee fan in the deep south, I have been hearing analysts writing off my team this season. Seems to me that their pitching is solid across the board, and that they should be able to stay close to the race until they get some injured guys back in the lineup. The AL East is not a juggernaut this year - all teams in the division have some serious flaws. Am I being unrealistic to plan on a pennant race this year?

Jayson Stark
  (1:19 PM)

No. I agree with you, actually. If their pitching holds up, they can hang in there, even with all their injuries and all the mixing and matching they're doing. But remember, Pettitte is 40, Kuroda is 38 and Mariano is 43. So can they depend on those guys to make it through the marathon with no issues? That's as big a question as how long Derek Jeter will be out.

JF (NC)

What do you make of Kemp? Just a slow start or is there something else behind it?

Jayson Stark
  (1:21 PM)

He's a mess mechanically. Just watch him. His front side flies open the moment the pitch is delivered. So he can't reach anything on the outer half. Look at his heat map on our player pages. They tell the story. The only question is whether there's some physical issue that's causing him to hit this way. They keep saying no. So let's see if he can fix it. If he's healthy, it's certainly fixable.

Mike (San Diego)

Speaking of Kuroda, isn't he a couple seasons away from being arguably the greatest Japanese pitcher in MLB history?

Jayson Stark
  (1:22 PM)

No doubt. You can make a case he's one of the five most underrated starting pitchers in the big leagues right now.

Jason (Birmingham)

Jayson, what do you think eventually happens with the Detroit bullpen? By committee, or do they grab somebody when teams start falling off? Thanks and love your work!

Jayson Stark
  (1:23 PM)

Hi Jason. Thanks for the kind words. I think their plan, for now, is to let it unfold with the group they have, see what happens, see how Valverde throws and whether Rondon makes progress, and then figure out their direction in July. They're talented enough that they'll play over this for the next few months, and then go shopping if they think they need to.

Mike (San Diego)

Is today a trivia day?

Jayson Stark
  (1:24 PM)

It is. Give me another 15 minutes. And I'll roll it out there.

Julio (Dominican Republic)

Hi Jason! As a Braves fan, I'm thrilled with this display of power in the line up. But am I the only one worried about the huge amount of K's. Do you think this is a major flaw down the road?

Jayson Stark
  (1:26 PM)

I've talked to Frank Wren about this. They say they've researched it thoroughly. And they found that as long as your team has a decent on-base percentage and it has as much power as this team has, that strikeouts are overrated - especially in this day and age. But just remember that no team that struck out 1,300 times has ever won a World Series. And this team is on pace to whiff well over 1,400 times. So we'll find out. Won't we? Certainly not the only contender with a chance to K 1,300 times, either.

David (Orlando)

Jayson you believe Lincecum can amke any adjustments at all and return to some positive form in 2013?

Jayson Stark
  (1:28 PM)

I see a guy who hasn't come to grips yet with what he is and how his stuff fits together with diminished velocity. The gap in fastball/changeup velocity has shrunk so much that it's become much easier for the hitters to lay off that change in the dirt. And his mechanics aren't allowing him to command anything as consistently as he used to. It's a real issue. I still think there's a good pitcher in there someplace. But not a Cy Young anymore.

Mike (San Diego)

I hope the Cardinals and Tigers play in the World Series this year just so we can hear what the group of people who swear you need a proven closer to have success say.

Jayson Stark
  (1:29 PM)

The truth is, the teams that won the last two World Series played October with different closers than they started the season with. So I think that proves your point, Mike.

Brian (Philly)

The Phillies lost lack night because of the lack of replay. Why is baseball dragging its feet so much? Its absurd that fans got to look at replays on an incredibly close call, but Alan Porter did not.

Jayson Stark
  (1:30 PM)

Well, wait a year. By next year, from what everyone tells me, they'll be reviewing all sorts of calls, including calls on the bases. But that call aside, it's mind-boggling it's taken this long. The NFL has had replay for over two decades.

Dan (Manhattan)

Beyond Matt Harvey & Jon Niese, there is a serious drop off in the Mets rotation. Do you anticipate Sandy Alderson to make a move or will they just wait and hope that Zack Wheeler is the real deal?

Jayson Stark
  (1:33 PM)

They're building a potentially special rotation. I've had four people tell me in the last two weeks that Wheeler is better than Harvey. Niese is a really dependable No. 3 type. That's an excellent place to start. Check out Jerry Crasnick's column today. Excellent stuff on the rotation they're constructing. Their present may be a little iffy, but their future is bright.

Jay (Long Island, NY)

Hey Jason! Nice start (for a change) for my Red Sox. Think their pitching can keep producing like this?

Jayson Stark
  (1:34 PM)

I do if they stay healthy. This didn't just start in April. This group had a great spring. John Farrell's return has really helped Lester and Buchholz. And Juan Nieve is a great pitching mind. One of the most underrated pitching coaches around. The worry here is depth, not the ability of the group they're running out there now.

Brian (CA)

Why are so many of the sports leagues so against having an additional official specifically for instant replay? One of the chief complaints about it is how it slows/will slow the game down, but if you have someone constantly watching all the replays, he could buzz down the correct call within a minute.

Jayson Stark
  (1:37 PM)

I couldn't agree more, Brian. The powers that be in baseball are mulling that question right now. The one thing they seem to have agreed on is that the current replay system, with umps jogging off the field, has to go. There will be replay "officials" next season who are members of the umpires union. The question is whether they'll hire an extra umpire for each crew or hire a handful of extra umpires and then rotate crews through NY to watch games in a central location. But replay umps are definitely the way to go. And it's what all managers I've surveyed want to see.

Andy (West virginia)

Who do you see,Jayson, as the cards closer by ASB? Need a scorecard!

Jayson Stark
  (1:39 PM)

They might not have a closer with a big C on his chest. Tony La Russa showed two years ago there are advantages to not anointing a guy as The Closer. Gives you the freedom to use him at other, more pivotal points in the game if need be. The Cardinals always prefer to figure things out internally if possible. And they have so many good arms out there, I'd be shocked if they can't figure this out as they move along.

Lev (Boston)

People who want no DH are the same people who say "everything was better in the old days." I like to see pitchers pitch and hitters hit. Watching a pitcher get 90 ABs a year and strikeout or bunt in 80% of them is not entertaining.

Jayson Stark
  (1:41 PM)

You're oversimplifying, Lev. The game is much more interesting and strategically diverse with NL rules. But if the DH comes to both leagues, that won't be what this is about. If NL teams keep losing out on all the free-agent mashers (a la Prince and Albert) because AL teams can offer them longer deals, that's a game-changer. And it will take something like that to force this issue.

Mike (San Diego)

Wasn't the AL East supposed to be the exact opposite of what it is right now?

Jayson Stark
  (1:43 PM)

It was? All I talked about or heard others say all spring was that this is a division where any team can win and any team can finish last. I haven't seen anything that changes my mind about that yet. I do think the Red Sox are better than people thought they'd be and the Rays aren't as good as people thought they'd be. Other than that, this is a division that should be determined as much by who stays healthy as any other factor.

Jack (Teaneck, NJ)

Hi Jayson, any idea who will replace Lannan for the Phillies? If not Morgan, when do you think he will eventually be called up?

Jayson Stark
  (1:45 PM)

He's been their best pitcher in triple-A, but he's unavailable to pitch next time they need a starter. Scouts I've talked to love Jonathan Pettibone and are intrigued by Ethan Martin, but I'm not sure either of them is big-league ready right now. Should be interesting. It'll be pretty much open auditions till somebody proves he can get big-league hitters out.

Jayson Stark
  (1:45 PM)

OK, time for a little trivia. Almost forgot. Everyone ready?

Jayson Stark
  (1:47 PM)

Derek Jeter has had 15 seasons in which he played at least 140 games. Only two other active players have had 10 seasons or more in which they played 140 games and their primary position was shortstop. Name them!

Jim C (Houston)

The reason why the NL needs the DH no one is talking about - no one wants their season ruined by their ace getting hurt sliding into a base or getting hit by a pitch. The NFL has special rules for QB's in order to protect them because they understand how valuable QBs are. Why not the same for pitchers?

Jayson Stark
  (1:49 PM)

Very true, Jim. And these AL teams are more wary than ever of that when interleague play is spread out through the year instead of played mostly in a big block in June. The Royals actually had their pitchers hit and bunt and run the bases from Day One of spring training, because they had two April series in Philadelphia and Atlanta. Not everyone has been that diligent. A couple of major injuries will only increase the screaming about this topic. Good call!

Jayson Stark
  (1:49 PM)

OK, let's start fielding those trivia answers.

Max (Boston)

Easy answer: Omar Vizquel and Edgar Renteria!

Jayson Stark
  (1:49 PM)

The magic word was "active." So they're both out. Sorry.

cp (Reno)

Trammel and AROD

Jayson Stark
  (1:50 PM)

Trammell - not active. ARod - even if we consider him active, only had seven seasons like that. Good try!

Rick (Charlotte)

Jimmy Rollins has to be one

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

Very good. Had a bunch of Rollins guesses. Sorry if others got it before Rick. Rollins has 10 seasons like that. One to go.

art (calgary)

fucal

Jayson Stark
  (1:51 PM)

Even if we count him as active, he only has six seasons like that, believe it or not. Health's been an issue.

Kyle (Iowa)

JJ Hardy?

Jayson Stark
  (1:52 PM)

Wow. Not even close. Only three for him. Good guess.

Jason (Birmingham)

Jhonny Peralta?

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

Also a good guess. But only six for him, too.

Jayson Stark
  (1:53 PM)

OK, let's end the suspense before Ross from DC overheats.

Ross (DC)

Miguel Tejada

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

Good work, Ross. Had to hold off posting this for a couple of minutes just to make it interesting. But Tejada also has 10. And since he's a Royal right now, he's still very "active." Thanks for playing everyone. Now back to our show.

Ross (DC)

That was close...almost blew a gasket there!

Jayson Stark
  (1:54 PM)

I know. I could tell. Feel free to calm down now.

Brian (CA)

You could make the same argument about someone's season being ruined by their #3 hitter getting hit by a pitch or sliding into a base or even diving for a ball in the field. We should just have designated fielders for all of the great hitters.

Jayson Stark
  (1:56 PM)

I totally disagree. Of course hitters get hurt. And star hitters get hurt. But at least hitters prepare to hit and to run the bases. Pitchers don't. Or they prepare half-heartedly. And that leads to issues almost every year. You can ask Chien-Ming Wang. He can tell you all about it.

Keith (Anaheim)

Can the Angels be fixed? It looks grim for the Halos.

Jayson Stark
  (1:57 PM)

They gave up more runs in spring training than any other team. They have the highest starting-pitching ERA in baseball right now. And Jered Weaver isn't coming back for a month and a half. I asked a scout the other day if he saw a win-the-World Series pitching staff there once Weaver and Ryan Madson get back. And he said: "I don't think it's there." I'm not so sure either at the moment.

Brian (Fort Wayne)

Is there a franchise you'd like to see compete for a playoff spot that hasn't been in awhile?

Jayson Stark
  (1:58 PM)

The Royals! That town needs October baseball, just the way Baltimore needed it last year.

Adam (Orlando)

Isn't that the responsibility of the pitchers and teams to prepare pitchers better then?

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

Of course. But the schedule has turned this into a whole different world. If you play a series in an NL city this month, another in two months and another two months after that, how do you handle it? Just have pitchers take BP all season? It's complicated!

Jayson Stark
  (1:59 PM)

Uh-oh. It's that time again. I only have time for one more. Sorry.

Chet (Kinnelon, NJ)

Watching Josh Hamilton hit I see a different batter at the plate. He's waving at everything and looks unsure of himself. Is it possible he has lost the edge that made him one of baseballs fiercest hitters?

Jayson Stark
  (2:01 PM)

I think he's just trying to prove to the world he's worth the money. Almost half the pitches he's swinging at aren't in the strike zone. He needs to dial it back and get better pitches to hit. The ability will take care of the rest. Easier for me to say, though, than for him to do.

Jayson Stark
  (2:01 PM)

Thanks to everyone who checked in. Great dialogue on the DH this week. Check out the column I wrote on it last week and let me know what you think. See you down the road in Chat Land.