Hey folks, It's a new week for baseball, and thankfully, a new weeks for the umpires. Let's take some questions.
Good morning, Jerry. How would you evaluate Luhnow's work so far in Houston? Some promising prospects, for sure, but most of them are the result of losing and getting high picks and selling off the talent he inherited. It's frustrating he can't seem to build a mid tier pitching staff and passed on Mark Reynolds for Carlos Pena. A passable bullpen can be built with limited funds and is one area where I think you can evaluate a GM even on a rebuilding club. What gives? Thanks!
B, If Jeff Luhnow's track record in St. Louis means anything, the Astros are going to sink or swim with the draft. By all accounts, he did a nice job last year navigating the new system. Rick Ankiel and Phil Humber weren't great pickups, but at least he didn't invest much money in them. Personally, I think Luhnow has a chance to build something good and enduring there in Houston. He's a bright guy and willing to think "outside the box" (sorry to use that phrase). Let's give him some more time.
Who has the most productive career? Ackley, Montero, Smoak?
JJ, At this point, I might have to go with Kyle Seager. Montero is a DH who hasn't hit much, Smoak keeps whiffing on his chances, and Dustin Ackley is a marginal defensive second baseman who's been a real disappointment as a hitter. This is a big year for all those guys, and so far, it's hard to get real excited about any of them.
Is Adam Wainright the most underrated pitcher in baseball? Only pitcher in the NL I think you could definitely take over him is Kershaw.
Zack, Wainwright is terrific, but I'm not sure I would call him underrated. He's finished second and third in the Cy Young balloting, which is voted on by baseball writers. And now that Chris Carpenter is gone, he's the acknowledged leader of that staff. I might go with Jordan Zimmermann or Madison Bumgarner, who have been overshadowed by bigger names on their own staffs, as more underrated than Wainwright.
What a great way to start the week! Jerry, on the heels of the amazing Miller and Wainwright performances against the Rockies, Chris Carpenter appears to (again) be rising from the ashes like a phoenix. It actually appears he may be ready to join the staff within a week or two. How does that work within the context of a talented & stacked StL pitching staff, with Gast just called up to replace Westbrook and Wacha putting up zeros in Memphis? Do you see him starting at some point? His leadership is unquestioned, but where does he fit? Thanks......
Speaking of which ... I'm not sure he's that close, Rich. But it's remarkable that he's pitching again after the way the year began for him. As I understand it, the Cardinals might like to try Carp in relief if and when he's ready to return. That's where their biggest need is. Can his arm withstand the rigors? I'm not sure. But it's a nice weapon to have in your back pocket.
Ubaldo has had a couple of good starts. Are you at all optimistic?
Zack, Very cautiously optimistic. Jimenez's mechanics are so unorthodox, it doesn't take much to throw them out of whack. But the guy was 15-1 at the All-Star break not too long ago, so he has enough stuff to be a competent big league starter -- if not a front of the rotation guy.
KLAW is ragging on the way Stanford "develops" pitchers and hitters. Is his view shared throughout the industry or is that just him?
Ken, I'm not sure about the pitchers, but I have heard grumbling in past years that Stanford hitters are inside-out type of guys who don't really drive the ball, and they don't always acclimate to the big leagues. Keith would have a much better feel for it than I do.
Jerry, what kind of interest will Jacoby Ellsbury draw if his struggles at the plate continue and that Scott Boras is his agent?
Bill, You might want to ask Michael Bourn that question.
Hey jerry. What do you think about Matt Wieters dropping the switch hitting gig and just hitting from the right side? His BA continues to be so low from the left side....
Hey Eric, This question isn't at outrageous as it sounds as first glance. Wieters has an .818 career OPS from the right side, and .719 from the left. That's strange, since switch hitters usually are better left-handed because they get so many more repetitions from that side. He's only 26, so it's way too early to think about pulling the plug left-handed. You have to think about the guy's overall career -- notwithstanding short-term struggles.
How dare you say that Dustin Ackley is a marginal defensive 2B? His fielding has saved runs every year according to Fangraphs and ESPN. Yeah, Baseball Prospectus has him as a slightly below average fielder and scouts say he looks bad, but scouts don't know anything. But hey, Brendan Ryan - awesome defensively. Worth $15M per year just on his glove alone according to ESPN.
Bob, OK, maybe he's better in the field than he looks. But he was supposed to be a potential batting champion coming out of UNC. I did a story on Ackley and Smoak in spring training and the Mariners were very optimistic about both of them. But I'm sure the team is frustrated now (and Smoak and Ackley are as well). They're at the stage where they need to produce, and it's going way slower than everyone had hoped.
The Twins have the 4th overall pick, who do you think they should take? It seems like Appel, Gray and Bryant are the 3 best players and after them theres alot of questions. If the Twins cant get any of them who do you see them taking? I like Manaea or Stewart.
Hey Devin, Jim Callis of Baseball America lists Kohl Stewart, Trey Ball and Seth Manaea as possibilities for the Twins. There's also a rumor going around that they might cut a deal with Reese McGuire, the catcher from Washington, and allot the extra money to spots further down the draft.
For the Mets future, how good does their pitching look, seeing as some people think that Wheeler is better than Harvey? Two aces?
Danny, They certainly hope so, and Jonathon Niese (if he stays healthy) slots in nicely in the No. 3 spot. If the Mets are going to start making headway, it will have to be with the young starting pitching.
What's wrong with David Price? He isn't even a fraction of what he was last year.
Daniel, One thing I noticed about Price is that he threw his fastball 70 percent of the time two years ago. Now it's down to 55 percent, and he's mixing in a lot more breaking balls and cutters. Maybe he needs to start re-establishing the fastball a little more. His strikeout rate is pretty close to last year and his BABIP is .338, which is pretty high, so maybe he's due for a spell of good luck. We're still talking about a small sample size.
You think Zambrano will return to some team desperate for pitching?
Will, If he's half decent in that Atlantic League, I wouldn't be surprised if somebody takes a shot at him. Scouts are all over that league.
Surprised by what the Yankees have been able to do? And think they can keep it going?
Bill, Yeah, I'm surprised. Dave Schoenfield of ESPN.com has a nice breakdown on the Yankees today. They've been catching the ball, they have Mariano Rivera at the back end, and I think Kevin Long has done a great job with Wells, Hafner, etc. Plus, Granderson, Youkilis and Tex will all be back relatively soon. I don't think they're going away.
Hey Jerry, what are your thoughts on the job that Sandy Alderson has done with the Mets?
Dan, Well, the Wheeler-for-Beltran trade looks pretty good, and the RA Dickey trade could also work out well if Travis D'Arnaud can ever stay healthy. I honestly give Sandy Alderson and his group a pass for the most part. They've been working under terrible circumstances there. Now that Santana and Bay are off the books and they might have a little $$ to spend, we can probably judge the Mets front office with a little more of a critical eye.
http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/9266919/shush-me. Really, joba, really....... What an idiot. I've been a fan of joba ever since he came onto the scene around five years ago, but now screw that. He doesn't even play good and then he's goes and disrespects the greatest closer if not the greatest pitcher of all time, just because mo asked him nicely to quiet down a notch. Hey joba why dont you worry on how to pitch and do your job instead telling a PROVEN, HALL OF FAMER that he can't ask you to be a little more quiet.
Mark, Yeah, Not good judgment on Joba Chamberlain's part. I can't add much to the New York columnists who have all been torching him. But it stands to reason that you show more respect to Mariano Rivera than he did over the weekend.
Adam Eaton returning soon from DL. Your thoughts on him and how DBacks outfield will be used? Thanks
Herm, They'll have a glut there with Kubel, Parra, Ross, Pollock and Eaton. I suspect they'll work Eaton in slowly. But they loved him in spring training and a lot of people picked him as NL Rookie of the Year before he got hurt. Once Gibson plugs Eaton into the lineup with regularity, I assume Pollock's playing time will suffer the most. But they'll still have an excess. It's just a little tougher now that Gerardo Parra has gotten off to such a good start.
When and where does Brian Wilson make his return to the majors?
Jeff, Unless there's something new, he's going to continue to try to build up arm strength and return at some point this year. He's barely a year removed from his second career Tommy John surgery, so I don't think it's that big a deal for him to need a couple of extra months. If he's going to audition for clubs as a free agent, he wants to be 100 percent ready.
The Twins are playing way better than expected, alot of it has to do with Justin Morneau finaly looking like himself this year. He has 24RBIs putting him on pace for around 115, hes also batting around .280. Do you see the Twins moving him by the deadline? The Twins are several years away from contending with all of their top prospects 1 to 2 years away from the big leagues. By then Morneau will be atleast 35, so will they move him? If hes still playing well at that point what could they get for him?
Andrew, Morneau is hitting .285, but he only has two homers in 130 ABS, and he's got a .723 OPS. So I still don't think he's the old Justin Morneau. Would the Twins consider trading him? Probably not, unless they're blown away. They're big on continuity and the team dynamic in Minnesota, and they still see Morneau as a big part of that organization.
Wow way to not answer the question. Thanks and they pay you for this?
Jeff, I get a lot of questions. I'm not even sure what you're referring to. But thanks for posting this question twice.
Are the Red Sox recent struggles to score runs indicative of their offensive talent, or just a blip on the radar screen?
B Mand, When they entered the season, I didn't think this was a great lineup. Ortiz isn't going to keep up this pace, guys like Napoli, Gomes and Victorino weren't mega-impact acquisitions, and Middlebrooks is still a young player who's going to experience his ups and downs. They need to pitch well, and it's tough when the bullpen is decimated by injury. Also, I thought Ryan Dempster might come back to earth after his strong start.
Hi Jerry; Nationals fan here and I continue to worry about two things 1. Espinosa is below avg 2nd sacker with too much problems making contact in key at bats. is Davey too loyal here or stubborn to make better use of Lombardozi.2. Why are they wasting a roster spot on Henry Rodriguez who they clearly no longer trust to put in a game that still hangs in the balance because of his wildness - they need another quality lefty in the pen to help their average lefty Z. Dukehonestly, I would use Espinosa in a trade to strengthen their bullpen significantly - there has to be teams that want a 2nd baseman that can hit 20-30 dingers though will strike out 150 times and hit 225-260thoughts
P.J., I was in D.C. last week, and I sensed some frustration with Danny Espinosa. He's drawn three walks this season, and he has a little bit of a Dan Uggla, all-or-nothing feel about him. My question is, why would they move him now when he's hitting .190? That would be a classic case of trading a guy when his value is at an ebb.
Hi Jerry, Will Matt Harvey pitch a no-hitter this year? He's tossed a 1-hitter over 9 innings against the White Sox and has allowed an average of 5.3 hits per game over the last 2 season.
Rich, He's a candidate to do something special every time out, but it's pretty tough to predict a no-hitter. There's so much luck involved.
Thoughts on the Rizzo contract extension? Looks like a good deal for Rizzo, and a great one for the Cubs.
Hey James, It seems like one of those deals that made sense for both sides. The kid gets some financial security and knows that he'll be a key member of the organization going forward. And the Cubs have seen enough from Rizzo to know he's one of their long-term cogs. Works for me.
Jerry, could you see any smaller market fringe contender like Pittsburgh, Colorado, or Baltimore going all in and trying to deal for Cliff Lee?
Zack, I just don't see it. Cliff Lee is making a ton of money over the next few years, and the Phillies are going to want some big time prospects. They would probably want a bunch of talent even if someone picks up a big chunk of coin for Lee. It's a tough deal to pull off.
Should the Pirates sign a smilar deal with Marte? They can lock up a couple years of his free agency, and Marte would make more money.
Dave, A lot of teams are trying to lock up kids in the 1-2 year bracket, so it wouldn't surprise me if the Buccos take a run at doing that with Marte rather than go year-to-year in arbitration with him. The kid looks like the real deal.
Do you think the Orioles could sign Machado a Longoria/Rizzo type deal, or does the Boras factor limit that possibility?
Ben, Dan Lozano is Manny Machado's agent -- not Scott Boras. At some point I'm sure the O's will broach the possibility of a long-term deal. But it's not going to be for terms remotely close to what Evan Longoria signed for, I can tell you that.
Should the giants invest in some starting pitching depth? there are some people available who can probably be signed to minor league contracts and I'm concerned about Vogelsong and still worried about Lincecum (despite good start yesterday). Zito could morph back into Zito any day now and the top of their farm system doesn't have anyone ready to step in to help.
Kenny, Brian Sabean might have to tap Dick Tidrow's knowledge and get someone. The Giants got 160 starts out of their five-man rotation last year, and it's tough to sustain that kind of durability in the rotation year in and year out. The Giants have been adept at picking up the Cody Rosses and Pat Burrells midseason. They might have to do it with a pitcher this year.
How long does Atlanta stick with BJ? I thought having his little brother play with him would push bj to play better. I read an article that said Bj may just not ever be the player we had hoped for, but that he won't look this bad all season. Will he get better? what will it take to get him going? He has had a few good days and I thought that might ignite him, but no such luck.
Bill, I think B.J. Upton's biggest problem is his stubbornness. I haven't seen him much this year, but in the past his biggest problems have been the result of a lack of selectivity and swinging at too many pitches outside the strike zone. He's also a streaky guy and he can turn it on quickly. Maybe he needs to cut down on his swing and try not to keep up with his brother in the long-ball department.
Do you see Kevin Gausman coning up soon? Will he have an impact this season?
Mitch, I just checked on Kevin Gausman and he's 1-4 with a 3.35 ERA for Double-A Bowie (and a 39-4 K-to-BB ratio). He's a college kid so I don't think the O's would hesitate to bring him up at some point this summer. The scouts raved about him in spring training. If it's a service time issue, they might just want to wait until he passes the arbitration deadline.
Mark Reynolds is a player that in the past has shown to get ultra hot and ultra cold, without much middle ground. Do you think he's just in one of his hot streaks so far this year, or can he maintain near this level in route to a big contract in the off season?
Ed, You're right about Reynolds -- he's very streaky, and he'll go through a funk at some point. But one thing I've noticed about him: He's a very tough-minded player whose attitude rubs off in a clubhouse. He's a good fit for that Terry Francona "grinder" mentality in Cleveland.
Jerry Medlen coming back to earth this season but not pitching badly! Your opinion of him for remainder of season?
Ryan, Medlen isn't the second coming of Greg Maddux -- as he was last season. But he's a solid six- or seven-inning guy who'll give the Braves a bunch of quality starts once he finds his groove. He'll be fine.
What's your prediction for Shelby Miller? Does he get 150-175 IPs before getting shut down?
Paul, Shelby Miller had 150 innings last year between the minors and majors, so I think the Cardinals would be content with something in the 180 range. Maybe they skip him a start or two or give him an extra day here and there to keep him fresh. They'll probably want to leave some wiggle room not to burn him out before the postseason.
Hey everybody, Thanks for the emails. Let's do it again next week.