Chat with Jayson Stark
Jayson Stark has been a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com since 2000. His regular contributions include the newsy Rumblings and Grumblings column and his tilted look inside baseball's numbers and quirks, the Useless Information Department.
Send your questions now and join Jayson on Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:03 PM)
Another fun baseball weekend is coming up. Can't wait. So let's get started. I should also tell you I have limited time today, so I can only go about 40 minutes.
Amish: New York, NY
alot of mets fans have been questioning the desire of this mets team, due to its inability to produce in the clutch. They have had inexcusable problems bringing home RISP, a theme that has continued from last year. What do you have to say about this team of so-called primadonnas? Do they lack the fire to win?
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
I hear a lot of people in baseball talking about that right now. Remember I used the stat last year that if all games had ended after six innings, the Mets would have won the NL East by 11 games? That wasn't just about relief pitching. And this year is demonstrating that again. The Phillies have nine comeback wins -- five of them in games they've trailed after six innings. The Mets have three comeback wins - and only one in a game they trailed after six. (And zero in games they've trailed after seven.) So they do seem to lack that grit the Phillies have. If they don't lack it, this would be a good weekend to prove it.
with A-Rod coming back within the next week or so and Tex getting out of his notorious slow start to the season, how do you see the AL East finishing up if A-Rod can play to his full potential?
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
Obviously, if ARod and Teixeira start hitting, the Yankees will be a whole different offensive team. I know they feel fortunate to be 12-10 now considering they haven't had ARod, Wang has been awful, Teixeira really hasn't hit and their primary set-up man (Brian Bruney) is on the DL. But these seasons usually come down to depth, and the Yankees don't have as much of it -- in any area of their team -- as the Red Sox. So the Yankees are a team that has to stay healthy (and get dominating starting pitching) to win, because injuries could cause a chain reaction on that team in which the pieces wouldn't fit together real well.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Of the teams that are off to surprising starts, which one do you think is the most legit and why?
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
I would say Florida. Starting pitching covers up many warts, and the Marlins have the best rotation in the league. We also know they can score. And while there is reason to worry about bullpen, defense and all the strikeouts in their lineup, I see them as a team that can hang in there all year.
A lot of "experts" picked the Cubbies to win the NL Central without to much competition, but the north-siders don't look as good as everyone thought, the Cards are looking very good and I'm still very optimistic about my Brew Crew. Is it time to admit that the Cubs don't look like they'll run away the divison? I'm just not impressed with them at all.
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
Scouts who have been following the Cubs are saying more and more that they're not sure anymore they'll win that division. The bullpen doesn't seem to be anywhere near as good. They haven't hit. And they seem to be feeling almost a hangover from the way last season ended. There's still a ton of talent on that team. And I think the Cardinals will feel the loss of Chris Carpenter at some point. But the Cardinals, for the most part, are for real. Very tough. Very pesky. So if the Cubs are going to win that division, they'd better get it in gear fast.
Jessie ( West Chester Pa. )
Hello Jayson! Can I get your thoughts on Ryan Howards drastic transformation on the defensive side of the ball?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
Ryan Howard made a commitment this winter to be more of a complete player, because he didn't want people to think of him as just a guy who hits a lot of home runs and strikes out 200 times and doesn't catch the ball. So he's really remade himself as a player on a lot of levels, and especially defense. He and Sam Perlozzo did a lot of work in Florida in the offseason, and you can see the results. Footwork is much better. And his confidence in the field is much better. It also doesn't hurt that he lost all that weight.
Jayson: Assuming the Dodgers keep up even 3/4 of their current pace, should I assume they'll be the NL West champs again...and make a respectable run at the NL Crown?
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
I could see the Dodgers winning that division by 15 games. If they pitch the way they have been, they're a threat to play deep into October.
How good is Gallardo? I still have dreams about a CC, Gallardo, Sheets rotation only to wake up and realize that Sheets arm is barely attached, CC is in 999 pinstripes and all I have left is Gallardo!
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
I think Yovanni Gallardo has a chance to be special. Great stuff. Great presence. Great future. Sorry about what happened to the rest of that rotation. There was never any chance of keeping those three together, but it sure would have been fun to watch.
On October 4 2009 the AL West champs will be??????? The Seattle Mariners???
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
Hmmmm. I don't think so. I do think the Mariners will be the most improved team in baseball. I just think that if the Angels can tread water until they get their team back, they're still going to win that division. And I'm not ready to predict that the Mariners will lead the majors in ERA, even though they've done that so far.
Cory (Philadelphia, PA)
Jayson, thanks for signing your book for me in Clearwater. I finished it in about 1.5 days. Can you tell me why Rollins is swinging the bat about as well as I would?
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
Thanks for mentioning my book, Cory. Mentioning "Worh The Wait" and how much you loved it is always a good way to get your question posted! Rollins just lost his swing between the WBC, when he was totally locked in, and opening day. Got back to camp, took a breath and just got totally out of whack. He's shown signs lately he's at least found the lefthanded stroke. But one thing that he hasn't adjusted to yet is all the breaking balls he's seeing. They're almost pitching him like Ryan Howard. Nobody wants to challenge him with a fastball, and he hasn't hit the offspeed stuff well enough yet to make them change that pattern.
cam eville in [via mobile]
do you feel with the strong starting pitching that the reds have demonstrated they have a shot at making the playoffs when their hitting improves?
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Did you say "when" their hitting improves? It's more like an "if" to me. I like a lot of things about that team, especially their starting pitching. But there's just not enough offense for me to think of them as a playoff team. They never replaced the production of Dunn and Griffey, and they'll need to do that somehow, at some point.
Joe (NY, NY)
Jayson, although the Red Sox may have the best depth now, but don't you think their bullpen will eventually blowout if their 'stellar' starting pitching continues to average only 5 innings a start? They have come back from deficits of 7-0 (Baltimore) and 6-0 (New York) but for how long can they do this do you think?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
Of course. No team can survive that. That rotation has had a strange month. It wasn't exactly their blueprint to have Tim Wakefield be their most dominating starting pitcher. But that's what he's been so far. You're right, Joe. If that doesn't change, they have issues.
J-Dawg, If Holliday has a bad 1st half, will his trade value diminish at all?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
J-Dawg? Well, R-Dawg, there's no doubt about that. I wrote about this considerably in this week's Rumblings and Grumblings. But the short version is, this guy has two homers since last Aug. 19! So if that doesn't change, the A's can't contend, they won't be able to get much back if they trade him and he sure won't be able to ask for $20M a year, for eight or 10 years, as a free agent.
I didn't get to hear the answers to the trivia question you asked on Mike and Mike, 6 players that have over 2,000 hits and a career .300 average. Who are they?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
You can find those on the Mike and Mike page at espnradio.com. But since you asked, those six were Jeter, ARod, Manny, Chipper, Vlad and Pudge. If you need full names, you shouldn't be playing this trivia game!
Am I the only one who thinks the Rays won't be as good as last year?
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
Are you the only one? I think most of the planet thought that. I still think that team will right itself. But that year after, it's tough to duplicate the magic. And they've had a tough time with that. Last year, they had 41 come-from-behind wins. This year, they've had one in 23 games.
Am I off my rocker or is the Dodgers outfield the best in the game? Although Manny's defense is shaky, Kemp has been making absolutely incredible plays night after night covering for Manny's lack of defense and Andre ain't that bad in right. Offensively though they are beasts! Could all three be all-stars this year?
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
I'd have to think this through. And I don't have time to do it completely on the fly, in mid-chat. But I can't think of a more productive outfield in the NL anyway, off the top of my head. The Phillies are close, the way Raul Ibanez has hit. But Manny is a terror. Kemp is a star waiting to happen, with what seems to be a much better focus now. And Ethier is up there with the most underrated players in the league. So if people want to challenge that nomination, the floor is yours.
Jem (Westchester, NY)
2 Cubbies Cuestions: Will Marmol ever assume the closer role under Pinella's watch? Will Milton Bradley ever stay on the field?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
First off, the way Lou uses Marmol, he's more important than a closer. By not naming him the official closer, Lou can use him in the seventh, the eighth OR the ninth -- whenever the game is on the line and the heart of the lineup is coming up. Meanwhile, Milton Bradley's history would tell us he's never going to be a 145-game-a-year outfielder. But this guy does love to play, no matter what the world may think of him. So what you've seen in April isn't what he really is, at least in my humble estimation.
how worried should Dbacks fans be about Webb? Will he come back and be the same pitcher he's been for the past 3 years? If not, do you see them trading someone like Reynolds for another pitcher?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
It's time to worry. This has gone from no big deal to going to see Dr. Andrews to a DL trip to a longer DL trip. Shoulders always scare me. So while it looks as if they got this before it turned serious, it's a major worry, for a team that can't afford to get much further behind.
Justin (Concord, CA)
Jayson, The Giants Finished Aprilat .500. Do you think they can keep up .500 ball all year. If they are close at the trade deadline could they trade for a big bat and contend this year? Would Holliday be on their radar. I would love to see him in Orange and Black.
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
I see them as a .500-ish team because of their pitching. But I can't see them being much more than that unless they add a bat and/or Pablo Sandoval starts mashing.
Kyle (Fort Lauderdale)
Jason, Helton is less than 30 hits away from joining that list. Daniel Bard is dominating AAA, when is he going to Boston or could they try to make him a starter and keep him in AAA all year?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
You're talking about the list that was the answer to that trivia question. And that's correct. EVERYBODY guesses Todd Helton -- including me. He's the answer to every trivia question, it seems like. Meanwhile, the Red Sox see Daniel Bard as a bullpen monster. I don't see that changing. I also don't see him getting called up in the next month or so. But you never know. Depends how the season and the health front goes.
Christopher Silverio (Medford, N.Y.)
do you think that with the moves in the offseason and the way they started off the season the Braves can actually have a shot at the playoofs?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
I had somebody say to me the other day that the Braves are the biggest threat to the Phillies in that division. I think their pitching will keep them in it. But we've seen dramatic evidence already of how thin their lineup is. When Chipper and/or McCann is out, they really struggle to score. Just not deep enough offensively for me to pick them. But if they add a bat, get back to me.
Steve (Blacksburg, VA)
Jayson: Loved your book. With the beat-up AL West.. If the Rangers can get some decent pitching like they have in the past week, is that division winnable for them?
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
I don't think their time is now. In a year or so, once all their young pitching has arrived, maybe. But the Angels would have to have an awfully mediocre year for the Rangers to have a shot to win that division. Just not a 90-win roster for me.
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
Sorry, gang. I can only take one more.
Jayson, there are always rumors of players grooving pitches to certain hitters/friends etc. but i've never heard a rumor of a player tipping pitches to the other team.
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
I can't believe this is the first question about this. I've surveyed a few players I know in the last 24 hours, and they have never, ever heard of this. In fact, they're appalled by it. I'm looking forward to reading the book so I can get more information about this. But if it's true, it's outrageous -- a total violation of the spirit of competitive sports. I said on OTL yesterday that ARod has always wanted to be Derek Jeter when he grows up. Can anybody conceive of Jeter even THINKING that, let alone doing it? So if this is true, this is as damning as anything in that book.
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
Thanks, everyone. Sorry I had to cut this short. See you all next week in Chat Land.