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August 5, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Jerry Crasnick

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:00 PM)

Hey folks, We have a healthy mix of baseball and Biogenesis questions today. As my beloved mom was fond of saying, "Oh vey." Let's start the chat and see what news might break in the next hour.

Brian (Fort Wayne)

What drives me so insane about these suspensions is that I think most fans don't care. There are so many other interesting story lines in baseball this year. Suspend these cheaters and lets talk about something better already....

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:02 PM)

Brian, I would tend to agree, except that Web sites keep track of these things, and steroid stories apparently get a lot of hits. (Trust me, we wouldn't be writing about this stuff daily unless absolutely necessary). I think steroid busts are like traffic accidents: As uncomfortable as they are to watch, people just can't seem to look away.

Aaron (Spokane, WA)

I've been listening to coverage of the upcoming Biogenisis suspensions and have a legal question. I believe in the CBA it states that there is a 50 game suspension for the 1st positive drug test, 100 games for the 2nd, etc... how is it that MLB suspended Braun for 65 games and is apparently going to suspend others for more than 50 games? How is this not a violation of the CBA?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:05 PM)

Aaron, There's a provision in the Joint Drug Prevention agreement that gives commissioner Bud Selig discretion to impose punishments that differ from the standard 50-100-lifetime parameters in the absence of a positive test. Braun, A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and these guys didn't fail tests, so the commish can try to dispense different punishments. Whether the players are willing to accept them is another matter.

Max (Boston)

Brian, I disagree. Fans care, we're just exhausted of the topic. But that exhaustion breeds frustration, not apathy.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:05 PM)

Max, I think we're all exhausted at this point. Players, fans, the media, everybody.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:06 PM)

FYI -- I'll take a couple more Biogenesis/steroid questions, and then we'll get to some baseball stuff.

Andrew (Indy)

How can these records from Biogenesis be used against the players? Doesn't HIPAA laws make these records confidential?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:07 PM)

Andrew, Good question. A lawyer might be better served to answer this one. I can only assume that the services dispensed by Biogenesis go outside the typical doctor-patient realm. Is this really a medical issue.

CC (Atlanta)

The players union is going to look so bad in all of this. They'll be forced to publicly support cheaters that won't accept the penalties.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:09 PM)

CC, The players union is in a rough spot. On the one hand, Michael Weiner and his group really are listening to the overwhelming majority of players who want PEDS out of the game. On the other hand, players are entitled to due process and have the right to contest evidence that's amassed against them. Like it or not, if Ryan Braun contends that his sample was mishandled, the union is obligated to look into it. But as Weiner has stated routinely, the union has no interest in protecting blatant cheaters.

James (WV)

The only thing about biogenesis that really bothers me is the Yankees getting out of paying A-Rod. If memory serves me right, they stood behind him in 2009 when all of his steroid use stuff came out, and he came back from injury and helped lead them to a championship. Now that he is no longer productive, the Yanks suddenly aren't so supportive. I mean I can't blame them, but it seems you can't have it both ways...unless you are the Yankees I guess..

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:10 PM)

James, We'll see how much of A-Rod's salary the Yankees wind up getting out of paying. I know that Buck Showalter shares your opinion.

Jon (Bozeman, MT)

Jerry, when is the press conference scheduled today on the Biogenesis suspensions and appeals? Fantasy owners wanna know!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:11 PM)

Jon, I believe an announcement won't be long. Unless Nelson Cruz decides to appeal his suspension, there probably isn't a whole lot of mystery involved.

John (OH)

Seriously...HIPAA laws? Last I checked, Anthony Bosch wasn't a doctor. He is as bound by the Hippocratic oath as Jerry Crasnick is.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:12 PM)

John, Yep, That's basically what I was trying to say earlier.

Eddie (Fresno)

There is no way that the guy who was once considered the best shortstop of all time can be remembered as anything but a self-destructive sideshow after this. It's too bad, because A-Rod was a revolutionary player early in his career.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:14 PM)

Eddie, This is the one thing in the whole A-Rod saga that I do find sad. There was a point earlier in his career where you really could have envisioned him being on baseball's Mount Rushmore. Now he's just a sideshow and (for want of a better term) a sad joke. And it's all self-inflicted.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:15 PM)

Now we'll get to the baseball portion of the program. If anything else comes up on Biogenesis that's salient, I'll try to grab it.

Danny (Houston)

How good is Andrelton Simmons defensively - can you compare him to Ozzie Smith?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:17 PM)

Danny, Simmons phenomenal. He has range, field awareness, a strong arm and all the intangibles. Simmons is that rare guy that the stat folks and the scouts can agree on. I'm not sure if he's a revolutionary presence in the field like Ozzie, but he's a cut above every other shortstop you see out there now.

zack (stl)

Jerry, any explanation for why good Liriano has shown up this year?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:18 PM)

Zack, More than anything, I think it's a question of better health and command. His velocity is back, and his breaking stuff is so sharp it's almost impossible to hit when he's ahead in the count. Neal Huntington did an amazing job getting both Liriano and Grilli for that pitching staff.

Mike (Jersey)

Do the Dodgers have the ability to duplicate their August blockbuster again? Rollins, Lee, Utley, Papelbon for Ethier, Z. Lee, Pederson, Yimi Garcia, Jose Dominguez, and Dee Gordon?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:18 PM)

Hey Mike, Feel free to dream big.

Ian (Cincinnati)

Jerry, of right-handed batters with at least 200 PA against RHP, the Reds have nobody in the top 60 batters in OPS. Basically, the Reds RHB haven't been able to hit the broadside of a barn when pitched to by a RHP. I know you may not be a statistician, but do you have any thoughts as to why the Reds RHB, who hit very well vs RHP last year, are doing so terribly this year?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:20 PM)

Ian, Christina Kahrl wrote about this on the SweetSpot blog the other day. The loss of Ryan Ludwick hit them really hard. Frazier, Mesoraco and Cozart are all young guys who are going through the inevitable growing pains. That's put a lot of pressure on Brandon Phillips, who's been an RBI machine. But it's hard to hinge everything on one guy.

James (WV)

Do you agree that Matt Garza has ALWAYS been over rated? He is more of a 3 starter, yet the way people talk about him you would think he is a high end 2, especially considering the returns in the last 2 trades he was involved in. I don't know if it is because he was a first rd pick, threw a no-hitter, or what, but he doesn't really seem to be worth what the Cubs or Rangers gave up to get him.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:22 PM)

James, I do agree that Matt Garza is probably a 3 starter on a good staff and a 2 on a non-contender. He got a ton of pub at the deadline because it was such a weak trade market. A lot of people think Bud Norris is a No. 4, and he got lots of attention as well in July.

Hanson (DC)

Pirates not making a deal at the deadline a sign of the future? Teams realizing that building a team through their own system and not giving away the future for a one shot try for temporary shot at the brass ring?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:23 PM)

Hanson, I was there last week when Neal Huntington made his "stupid, but not insane" comment. I just don't think he felt like the asking price justified the talent haul he would have been forced to part with to add an Alex Rios to the middle of his lineup. I honestly can't say I blame him.

Otis (The City)

Is Brian Sabean the worst GM to ever win a world series, much less two? I'll give him credit for drafting and keeping some great arms and for making some deals that worked out in '10 and '12....but, he's also the guy who built one of the worst farm systems in the game and has settled on guys like Blanco, Torres, and Frenchy when he has more money to spend than anyone but the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:25 PM)

Otis, If I were a Giants fan, I'd rather be following a team led by the worst general manager to win two World Series than the best GM never to finish in first place. Does that make sense? You can nitpick his performance all you want, but the guy rode in two parades in a span of three seasons. Cut him a little slack.

Alex (STL)

Dodgers-STL an NLCS Preview This Week?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:26 PM)

Alex, I can buy that.

Jefe (MN)

You think the National's are second guessing the Strasburg inning restriction last year?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:26 PM)

Jefe, If they're not, there's no shortage of people out there to remind them.

Gary (Kalamazoo,Mi)

Myers or Puig, long term?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:28 PM)

Gary, I might go with Wil Myers, if only because I'm afraid Puig is going to run into a wall, a teammate or something else eventually and take a long time to get up.

jason (dc)

nats now 12.5 games back of the braves. any chance they sweep this this week and make a run at the division? or is the wild card really the only hope left for them

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:29 PM)

Jason, I vote wild card. They're 6 1/2 out right now, so it's not impossible. But they're going to have to put together the kind of hot streak we just haven't seen from them yet. It's a long shot.

sam (Buffalo)

explain the August waiver system and where do I go to see a complete list by team who was put on waivers

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:31 PM)

Sam, Players have to clear waivers before they can be dealt (unless a club decides to strike a deal with the claiming team). If a player is claimed, a team can either pull him back or let him go to the claiming club. (As Toronto did with Alex Rios and the White Sox). The list of players on waivers isn't public; the names just leak out now through the dogged work of enterprising reporters.

Tim (Flint)

Jerry, should Tiger fans be concerned about Miggy's sore hip flexor and side strain?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:33 PM)

Tim, If Miggy gets a hangnail, I'm nervous. This appears to be one of those injuries that needs to be managed and won't get completely better until the off-season. Problem is, the Tigers are in a tight race now, so Jim Leyland doesn't have the luxury of resting him in advance of the playoffs.

Christian (Hays, KS)

Why does Alcides Escobar get over looked as routinely as he does. He does a lot of incredible things out there in the field? Is he the most underrated defensive shortstop in the game today?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:34 PM)

Christian, I talked to Jeff Montgomery earlier this year, and he raves about Escobar. He said the kid has to be seen every day to be appreciated. Unfortunately, Escobar's offense has taken a big step back this year. When a guy is hitting .230, or whatever he is, his defense isn't going to attract a ton of attention.

Brandon (GA)

Jerry, how are players with no-trade clauses handled on waivers, or can they be put on waivers?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:35 PM)

Brandon, Teams can't circumvent a no-trade clause by sticking a guy on waivers and hoping he gets claimed. I believe that clubs can put those guys through waivers. But if they're claimed, the player still has to give his permission for a trade to be consummated.

Arnold (Chantilly, VA)

Is it safe to say the Pirates are going to hold on and finally make the playoffs after a 20 year hiatus?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:37 PM)

Arnold, Yes, I think they'll make the playoffs. The pitching is great, and Clint Hurdle has really given them an upbeat mindset. My biggest concerns would be: 1) The workload of the bullpen; and 2) that lineup. If the Pirates get to the postseason, is it strong enough to get the job done against elite pitching and make a deep October run? Not sure about that.

Max (Boston)

Jerry, can we crowdsource this informal poll: Rank the albatrosses from worst to leas-worst: A-Rod, Pujols, Howard, Hamilton, Mauer, Fielder, Crawford, Gonzalez

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:39 PM)

Max, That's an interesting albatross poll. At a quick glance, I would have to rank Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder near the bottom of the albatross scale. Pujols and Hamilton are high just because they have so much money still owed them. (And I'm sure Phillies fans would be happy to chime in on Ryan Howard). Any thoughts from others out there?

Matt (Livonia, NY)

Hey Jerry! So I'm a Twins fan, and as most of us are I'm worried about Justin Morneau being shipped off to another team. I just heard recently that he's being discussed in trade talks, which surprised me a bit. So my question is, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being full panic mode, how worried should I be about Justin Morneau's future as a Twin?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:41 PM)

Matt, I think you need to take the emotion out of it. I'm sure a lot of people think back fondly to Justin Morneau's peak. But he's not close to an MVP-caliber player anymore. He's a .700-.750 OPS first baseman who just doesn't have the same impact or bat speed now. The Twins put him out there on the market in July and no teams bit, so that has to tell you something.

Jerry (Decatur, IL)

My opinion: Howard, Hamilton, Pujols, Crawford, A-Rod (for just the last couple of years), Crawford, Gonzalez, Mauer.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:42 PM)

Thanks, Jerry. Good albatross-ranking on the fly. But I think you missed Prince Fielder.

Jon (Michigan)

HOF question: Does Omar Vizquel make it? In any other era, his induction is a given (Eppa Rixey, Nellie Fox, etc.). Will writers overlook lower offensive totals, or will there be further backlash against the "Steroid" era like we've seen in the last few votes?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:43 PM)

Jon, I'm inclined to give Omar Vizquel a very long look for the Hall of Fame, but I know a lot of my statistically-oriented friends will mock me for it.

Tim (AZ)

Braves are a 1/2 game back for the best record in baseball. Yet they do not get much love from ESPN. What is your analysis?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:45 PM)

Tim, I think the Braves get their fair share of love from ESPN and ESPN.com, although I'm sure a lot of fans in Atlanta will disagree. They're a good club and will win the NL East, but like others, I have my reservations about how deep that rotation can carry them into October. They need Minor and Teheran to be the staff leaders in the playoffs for that to happen.

Jon (Bozeman, MT)

Howard, Hamilton, ARod, Crawford, Pujols, Mauer, AGon, Fielder

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:46 PM)

Jon, I would put Pujols higher, only because he seems to breaking down physically already and he's signed through age 41 (I believe). That said, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Albert come back from his plantar fasciitis and put together 2-3 very good years.

Jerry (Decatur, IL)

I do not consider Prince to be an albatross--the guy plays every day, puts up productive numbers, and is the silent hero in Miggy's Triple Crown season. Maybe that body will betray him someday,but he is not an albatross in any definition of my book.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:47 PM)

Jerry, I agree. That's why I had him at the bottom of my albatross scale. People expect him to break down, but he keeps on going out there.

Jay (Kalamazoo)

Does getting Iglesias raise a ground-ball pitcher like Porcello's value to the Tigers?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:48 PM)

Jay, Interesting question. The addition of Iglesias certainly can't hurt a groundball pitcher like Porcello. Jhonny Peralta gives the Tigers a good bat at SS and is surehanded enough, but he's a walking endorsement for "range-bound."

James (WV)

Gerrit Cole has been exactly as advertised. Pretty solid, with a HUGE fastball, doesn't get as many Ks as he should with the stuff. Seems to lack that put-away pitch. With the reports on how good his changeup is, why doesn't he use it more to get Ks. Not to say that there is anything wrong with pitching to contact, esp when you have the lead, but do you think Cole is eventually going to develop into a K per inning or more type of guy? Do you think he will be a true ace (not just the Pirates best pitcher, but a guy any team would feel good throwing out in game 1 of a playoff series) down the line? Thanks!

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:51 PM)

James, Some scouts I've talked to think Gerrit Cole will be more of a reliable, 200-inning, No. 2 horse than a bona fide, Verlander-or-Felix caliber staff ace. I'm told that while he throws hard, some hitters appear to see his fastball better than you would expect. (Maybe it's a deception thing). For what it's worth, I talked to him last week in Pittsburgh and I was very impressed. Smart kid, good attitude and work ethic. And he's certainly held his own thus far in the cauldron of a pennant race.

Bernie B (Milwaukee)

In the albatross rankings, is Braun worth considering at this point? His backloaded contract through 2021 could be more than this small-market team can bear

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:52 PM)

Hey Bernie, Braun falls in a different category. He's a very productive player, and you could argue that he's underpaid based on his age and his numbers. He's more of a public relations-albatross at this point.

John (Dallas)

Jerry, lets say Kershaw finishes with a 15-8 record, ERA 2.08 ish 2nd in strikeouts, you think he can get the Cy and or MVP?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:54 PM)

John, I gave Kershaw one of his two Cy Young votes last year when his won-loss record wasn't nearly as good, so I can buy it. Most voters now rank won-loss record well down the line of criteria, so if he keeps pitching the way he has, he'll be right in the middle of the Cy debate.

Pete (Pittsburgh)

Hey Jerry, just a thought about the Pirates outfield situation(and this one doesn't pertain to right field for once), Would the Pirates be smart to switch Marte to Center and move McCutchen to Left? Not that McCutchen plays a bad CF but doesn't it make more sense to have your fastest outfielder in Center?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:55 PM)

Pete, I'm from the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school. Keep in mind that PNC has a spacious left field, so Marte's impact in left field is already greater than a lot of other guys in his position. And the kid already has a lot on his plate leading off for a surprise pennant contender. If you talk to Clint Hurdle and the Pirates, you won't find too many people complaining about McCutchen's defense in CF.

Uh-Huh (Right Here)

Marte's arm is also vastly superior... McCutchen isn't in the same realm in that regard.

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:57 PM)

Uh-Huh, I've heard some people get on McCutchen's arm strength, but he has a bunch of assists this year. I know that's not always the true barometer. But Hurdle says his throwing has gotten better, and I think he has enough arm to keep opposing baserunners honest. He ain't exactly Johnny Damon out there.

Vinnie (Stuttgart, Germany)

What kind of chance do give the Red Sox, especially if Buchholz is able to come back and pitch?

Jerry Crasnick
  (12:58 PM)

Vinnie, If Buchholz can come back and pitch to the level he did earlier this year, the Red Sox have as good a chance as any AL team of making a deep October run.

richard (N.E. ohio)

when u look at what he did in boston, and what is taking place in cleveland, isnt terry francona,one of the best managers currently managing in the league?? and do u think he should be manager of the year????

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:00 PM)

Richard, I spent a couple of days around the Indians in spring training, and it's amazing how Terry Francona's humor and people skills radiate throughout the clubhouse. I'm a big believer in managers creating a positive atmosphere in which players can thrive. There aren't many guys who do it better than Francona. And yes, he has to be a strong contender for MOY. I think Joe Maddon should be in the discussion every year. And while this might drive Royals fans crazy, Ned Yost will merit strong consideration if KC makes the playoffs.

Lee (OH)

Where do you think the Indians will be by Midnight on August 8th? In the thick of it or sliding away? as to last post Manager of the Year because who(sports media wise) really expected the Indians to matter this much this late in the season!

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:02 PM)

Lee, I think the Indians will hang around a while because of the second wild card. But they really do need to make a statement against the Tigers. They've performed poorly against the iron of the American League, and it's time for them to step up and play well in a big series against Detroit.

Olson (Laney, AZ)

Any update on Hanley Ramirez shoulder injury?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:03 PM)

Olson, I haven't heard anything yet today. This one obviously merits watching closely.

Mike (Jersey)

Will Ruben Amaro make any impact moves this month, and do the BIOGENESIS suspensions help the probability?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:04 PM)

Mike, Count me among the writers who were surprised that Ruben Amaro didn't do anything impactful already. I still think he could move Michael Young, Delmon Young or Carlos Ruiz in August, but the time for a big impact deal (like Cliff Lee or Chase Utley) has probably passed.

Hale (Lakewood, CA)

AGON is having a good year. Why is he on the Albatross list?

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:05 PM)

Hale, I think we were looking at these players long-term, but I agree with you. Adrian Gonzalez is pretty far removed from being an albatross at this point.

Jerry Crasnick
  (1:06 PM)

Hey everybody, Thanks for the questions. Great chat this week. Let's do it again soon.