Chat with Buster Olney
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Buster Olney (1:02 PM)
Hi, folks, hope all is well. Lots to discuss, as always. Spent some time this weekend chatting with some execs about the upcoming free agent class, and the outlook is bleak, for sure. If you think of it like investing in the stock market or real estate or CDs: Baseball is shifting away from investments in older players, and that probably does not bode well for guys who are eligible for free agency this fall.
Hey Buster, just wondering how that all that pre-season "Marlins have by far the best rotation in the East and likely in the NL" talk went. Man, who knew young, untested pitchers would struggle? Can't wait for Josh Johnson to start throwing more innings than he's ever thrown (career high 140 about 4 years ago). That's not a recipe for disaster at all...
Buster Olney (1:06 PM)
bbg: Their rotation has shown big cracks, for sure -- Ricky Nolasco was so good in the second half of last year and didn't come close to replicating any of that, and Anibal Sanchez broke down. Josh Johnson and Volstad are still pretty good... Let's face it, though -- when you are a small-market team like the Marlins, your margin for error is very small, and when the starting pitching crumbled, that took them down. Another factor whenever we talk about the NL East -- the hottest team of the moment always seems to be the squad playing the Nationals in the most recent home-and-home series, and early on, of course, that was the Marlins.
John ( New York, NY)
hey buster, what will we be saying about David Price after this season? Your prediction?
Buster Olney (1:07 PM)
John: That he's a good pitcher who has room to grow. He still struggles with his fastball command and still doesn't seem to have a strong third pitch, but the other day, he just had electric stuff. Smart guy, and he'll figure it out.
yet another quality start turned in by Edwin Jackson, are you noticing anything different about his delivery/approach from this year to last? he's velocity is way up, he seems to be throwing 95+ with regularity
Buster Olney (1:10 PM)
Ben: I talked with Jackson a couple of times last year and what really interested me was how accountable he was, how self-aware he was, how honest he was about his weaknesses and how he was devoted to getting better. He admitted that he had no clue when he was first promoted to the big leagues, for example. I think that self-awareness is really serving him, because he's not kidding himself into thinking he's something he's not; he's a guy who has benefitted from failure early in his career, because he is learning from it. He's the type of guy you root for... The pieces have always been there, and I just think he's putting together the pieces in a way that few expected.
Where does Yunel Escobar rank among MLB shortstops? I may just be a biased Braves fan, but I think he's very underrated.
Buster Olney (1:13 PM)
Ryan -- agree with your assessment that he's underrated... Off the top of my head, the guys I'd probably take ahead of him in the NL -- Reyes, Rollins, Ramirez... (chirping crickets) Jack Wilson is pretty good defensively, but he gets hurt a lot and he doesn't have the same kind of pop as Escobar. I like Hardy, but he's not as consistent offensively as Escobar. Tulowitzki just hasn't been consistent at all, and Furcal seems to suffering from the effect of all his injuries.
What are your thoughts on Peavy and Oswalt saying they won't play for the White Sox. Are they just afraid of the American League, Ozzie Guillen, Chicago, The Cell? Frankly, if you're too afraid to switch leagues or play for a fiery manager than you belong on the bad teams you currently play on. At least on the White Sox you know their GM is trying to win.
Buster Olney (1:14 PM)
Frank -- I think it's the ballpark. Every year in free agency, we generally see the elite pitchers avoid places like Colorado, Cincinnati and Baltimore, where they have smaller ballparks, and so when you have a situation in which Peavy and Oswalt can control where they can pitch, it's not a surprise to say they're not interested in pitching in hitter-friendly parks.
As a Rays fan, Edwin Jackson having dominant streaks is nothing new. However, I'd like to see a full season of this before I see that he's "changed." Right now, he's doing what he did last year. Good streak, then he'll get hammered til around August, then dominant streak to end it.
Buster Olney (1:15 PM)
Jake: I hear you. But I do think he's gotten better since last year, and I think he got better from '06 to '07 (by year's end), and he's gotten better from '07 to '08. It's nice to see someone who is being rewarded for his fight to get better.
What are the chances that the Orioles trade a player like Huff or Sherril before the trade deadline to add to their group of young players?
Buster Olney (1:17 PM)
Rocco: It makes all the sense in the world that the O's would deal both of those guys, because the front office is at peace with the notion that this is a building year, the organization is making great strides, and I'd bet you could get a good prospect (not a great prospect, but a good one) for Huff, and something a little less for Sherrill.
Lee (Atlanta, Georgia)
Buster what do you think of the Braves trading for Matt Holiday to fill a big need in left? It would offer long term stability even and give them production (despite his early woes in Oakland).
Buster Olney (1:19 PM)
Lee: The last time they traded prospects for a Boras client as he approached free agency, it didn't really work out for them. I'd guess that the Braves will make a deal, but might go for something a little less expensive than Holliday. Oakland would want a very good prospect in return because they know they are getting a couple of draft picks, at the very least, in FA compensation if they hang on to Holliday.
"I think it's the ballpark. Every year in free agency, we generally see the elite pitchers avoid places like Colorado, Cincinnati and Baltimore, where they have smaller ballparks" I hope the Yankee brass is reading your chat, Buster
Buster Olney (1:21 PM)
Doug: That's exactly the point when it comes to the significance of how new Yankee Stadium is playing this year. During the '09 season, it's not that big of a deal -- and in some ways, it might give the Yankees a competitive advantage, because they are power-laden. But in the big picture, it is a big deal -- and I've already heard about conversations in the pitchers' fraternity about what a joke they think the park is. So if you are (I'm riffing here) a Yovanni Gallardo in four years and you can be a free agent, and Yankee Stadium is still a homer haven, would you rather go to that place or Citi Field? Most of the time, the best FA pitchers will avoid the homer havens.
What are the scouts saying about Mets reliever Bobby Parnell? I'm sure he is being asked in trade talks but after coming in for J.J Putz yesterday, is it safe to say that he is the 8th inning guy for the Mets? Also, are you hearing anything regarding Billy Wagner?
Buster Olney (1:22 PM)
Chris: Everybody loves him, everybody wants him -- but given how much the Mets' front office loves him, it's hard to see them seriously considering dealing him, unless it is for a high-end young player (and I'm riffing here) like a Buchholz.
While reading today's column, I was curious why you didn't include BoSox LF Jason Bay as an impending Free Agent.
Buster Olney (1:23 PM)
Mark: He's in there, actually... Right now, he's probably in the best position of any position player who is eligible for free agency this fall -- but I still wonder if he'll be able to coax a fifth year in an offer from any team.
I am a starter. Get used to it.
Buster Olney (1:24 PM)
Joba: The Yankees' front office thinks of you as a starter, too. And the only time that thinking would change would be in the post-season.
Buster, how likely is it that the Dodgers add another arm to their rotation and who would be the most likely candidate?
Buster Olney (1:25 PM)
Andy -- They are currently out there looking for rotation help and bullpen help; the Dodgers' front office is keenly aware that it has very little pitching depth, although they are helped out this week by the expected return of Hiroki Kuroda.
Pat (San Francisco)
Buster, don't you think Billy Beane will want to unload Matt Holiday for what he can get this summer? Why risk offering him arbitration when it's likely he'll take it when no one offers him a long term deal. The A's would be on the hook for 12-14 million probably.
Buster Olney (1:26 PM)
Pat: Your logic re: arbitration is absolutely sound, but I don't think Beane will just dump him, either, at any cost.
Buster, Are you worried that the O's are bringing up their rookies too many too fast? I know they need to grow as a team but 3 in the rotation and 2 in the lineup seems either they're ready or the veterans weren't meant to stay on the team very long.
Buster Olney (1:28 PM)
Jim: Personally, I think they've done a tremendous job in how they're handling their young players -- and I think they're smart to take it slow with Tillman, Matusz and Arrieta. Wieters is clearly major-league ready -- his swings against Verlander were absolutely remarkable, in how he went up and got a high, inside fastball and drove it for a double, after hitting a triple in a prior at-bat. I did Baseball Tonight over the weekend and Eric Young and Orestes Destrade was oohing and aaahhing over his bat speed -- and he managed to pick through some pretty good breaking balls, too, from Verlander.
Buster what are you hearing about Joey Votto's "condition"?
Buster Olney (1:29 PM)
Josh: That it's a personal matter that's causing stress, and that the Reds are relatively confident that this is an issue that he'll deal with appropriately and return in a relatively short time. I don't know the precise nature of the personal issue.
Buster,you said elite pitchers wouldn't want to pitch somewhere like The Cell,but wouldn't "elite" pitchers want to prove they can actually pitch in a hitter-friendly park?Buehrle has done a terrific job pitching at home
Buster Olney (1:31 PM)
Tom -- yes, and Oswalt has done a nice job pitching in Houston, which isn't exactly a pitchers' park. But both Peavy and Oswalt, with their full no-trade clauses, can pick where they want to go -- and all things being equal, they might hold out for an NL pitcher's park. Another thing about Oswalt -- he's signed through 2011, and presumably, he's going to want an extension of two or three years in order to approve a deal, which is what he should do. This might be the last time in his career when he holds full leverage.
FA pitchers will pitch wherever they can get the best deal. Money has alot more to do with it than whether the park is homer friendly.
Buster Olney (1:33 PM)
Hal -- yes, you have the occasional Mike Hampton/Colorado, or Denny Neagle/Colorado. But can you name the last time that the very best FA pitcher chose Cincinnati, or the Cell, or Coors Field, or Baltimore? It almost never happens.
Regarding your comment on the Braves earlier - what prospects could the Brewers get for Corey Hart? The Brewers have limited payroll flexibility and won't be able to keep all of their abitration guys forever. Could they net a good prospect for Hart this offseason?
Buster Olney (1:34 PM)
Paul: I like that idea... and maybe Medlen could be that guy the Brewers could get in return, because certainly, they would ask for pitching. But that's all speculation on my part.
As a BoSox fan, if Huff is available from the O's, I want him! Great insurance for Youk & Lowell, and he can DH in the meantime.
Buster Olney (1:35 PM)
He'd be a decent fit, but only if they actually decide to turn the page on Ortiz, and they might be another month away from even considering that. Ortiz's projected numbers over a full season: three homers, 63 RBI. A stunning decline.
Why do people view Citizen's Bank Park as a hitter's park when the statistics simply don't support that? Sure you see home runs flying out of the ballpark on Sportcenter, but Ryan Howard tend to do that no matter where they're playing. Is this going to hurt the Phillies chances at acquiring Peavy?
Buster Olney (1:37 PM)
Eric: I'll defer to Jake Peavy on that one. Jim Salisbury, the highly resepected writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a piece on Sunday (I'm sure you can find it) in which he has some quotes from Peavy talking about how he thinks Citizen's Bank Park is (I'm paraphrasing) a little ridiculous, in how it plays.
Pitchers don't want to come to Baltimore because it's been an awful team in a powerful division, not because of the park. For the last decade hitters haven't wanted to come either, unless they have no other offers on the table. Tejada has been the lone exception.
Buster Olney (1:40 PM)
Jake -- it's partly the park, as well. I've had free agent pitchers tell me how they wouldn't seriously consider it because of the dimensions (that said, if the Orioles suddenly started ripping off division titles, maybe that perspective would change). Some pitchers told me they measured the distance from home plate to left-center at a frightening 354 feet, when they clandestinely rolled out a tape measure. Maybe that's a myth, maybe not, but it's not a myth that pitchers don't have a lot of respect for Camden yards and hitters love it.
Buster, have you heard if the Red Sox have considered reaching out to Frank Thomas? It can't hurt to at least speak to the Big Hurt, no?
Buster Olney (1:41 PM)
Bill: I seriously doubt it, because they'd have to carry two guys as DH-only players; that would restrict their roster flexibility. I have not asked your question, specifically, but I will, to people who are in the know.
The rumor around here is that KW is in hot pursuit of Doc Halladay now? Any truth to that? Any chance he'll decide to pitch for the white sox?
Buster Olney (1:43 PM)
Dave -- wouldn't surprise me if he asked, because that's how Kenny Williams thinks, but right now the Jays have a better record than the White Sox do, and I know Toronto is keenly aware of how a trade of Halladay would be perceived in their market. Halladay is their Tony Gwynn, their Chipper Jones, and unless he makes it absolutely clear that he wants out, they might never find a suitable trade for him.
Dan (Laussane, Switzerland)
Do you think that it could be in the O's best interest to trade Jeremy Guthrie, with the Phillies a likely destination? With the Orioles always trying to get younger and seemingly having more young arms than rotation spots for 2010 and on (Guthrie, Hill, Tillman, Matusz, Bergesen, Patton, Hernandez, Berken and others) it seems that he'd be the guy to go. Also, the O's weakness in prospects on the left side of the field could be helped by the Phillies who have McDonald and maybe other teams in need of pitching like the Mets, White Sox, etc.
Buster Olney (1:43 PM)
Dan: Like your thinking a lot. That makes sense for both teams.
Josh Safety Harbor FL [via mobile]
Buster love the chats! On a scale of 1 ("cool as a cucumber, it's just a tough start") to 10 (" oh man we are the 2003 version of the Devil Rays again"), how worried about my Rays should I be?
Buster Olney (1:44 PM)
Josh: A 5, I'd say. They need David Price to keep throwing the way that he did Saturday, especially if Sonnanstine doesn't rebound. Somehow I don't think they can go the whole year with Randy Choate closing out games (with all due respect to that old lefty...)
B of Reston, Va (DC)
Buster, help me to understand, Sports talking heads write or say that the Nats are going to have a veterans sale off. Aside from N.Johnson who realistically can they trade???
Buster Olney (1:46 PM)
B. -- your point is well taken. I don't know that they have a lot of trade value in the veterans they might market -- Nick Johnson's salary and injury history will limit what other teams will give up for him; other teams might ask for salary relief if they were to take on Kearns, and wouldn't give up a high-end guy; Josh Willingham has some value, but it's not a lot. I'm with you on this one.
Cosmo (Lawrencville, NJ)
CC came to the bronx! He took the money.
Buster Olney (1:47 PM)
Cosmo: He thought he was going to a place where the home park has historically been quite favorable to lefties, with the big left field.
Buster: Any chance? JJ Putz and Jon Niese to the Rays for James Shields. There goes TB's closer...
Buster Olney (1:49 PM)
Joe: Putz has a huge option for next year, yes? (by Tampa Bay standards...) Hard to see them paying $8 million for a closer when their bullpen-by-committee got them to a World Series last year. But I like the creativity on your part.
Should the Rays make a move for Heath Bell? The Padres dont need a closer right now. Does Wade Davis get it done?
Buster Olney (1:50 PM)
Troy: I don't know this to be fact, but I'd guess that the Padres would personally drive Heath Bell to Tampa Bay (if he wanted this), with full catering, if they could get Wade Davis for him. Which is a roundabout way of saying I don't think the Rays will trade Wade Davis. Among all teams, Tampa Bay is among the most careful when it comes to swapping young players (except when they get great high-end talent back, like a Garza).
Dan (Buffalo, NY)
Don't try and sugar coat is Buster. We all know CC was taking the most money/years combo. the size of left field didn't factor into his thought process at all.
Buster Olney (1:52 PM)
OK, put it this way -- I think that if the Dodgers had offered $120 million -- or 25 percent less than what the Yankees offered -- I'd guess that he would've signed with L.A.
Darren (Brandon SD)
Will Joe Mauer get enough at bats to win a batting title?
Buster Olney (1:53 PM)
Darren -- he should be able to, yes, especially because he's serving as a DH on some days when he's not catching (that's what he was doing last week on the day that Redmond and Gardy were ejected in their home game against the Red Sox, and he had to come in and catch).
Is Medlen as good as the stats show him to be? (Coming from a Braves fan who's interested)
Buster Olney (1:54 PM)
Arthur: He's perceived to be a good prospect, but not a great prospect like Hanson. And you cannot argue with the results he got in Class AAA this year.
Which pitcher on the trading block will be in a Phillies uniform, if any at all?
Buster Olney (1:56 PM)
Xander: It's an interesting situation -- the Phillies, of course, would love a Peavy or an Oswalt, but probably would have trouble getting either one for all the reasons we've discussed today. Bedard might be the next-best commodity -- but a lot of teams would be in on the Bedard bidding, and the Phillies are not as well equipped as other teams to win a Bedard bidding (that's not to say that they can't win -- but the cost might be prohibitive for them). That's why they might have to settle for a Marquis or a Buchholz, or maybe overpay to get a Guthrie. It's nice that the Phillies aspire to a high-end type of starter, but actually getting one might prove to be difficult for them.
Do you see the Twins going after a 2nd baseman via a trade or is there an internal solution?
Buster Olney (1:57 PM)
Jake -- you know how the Twins operate... they won't overpay for solutions, for sure. Maybe something will drop in their laps. I've wondered if Grudzielanek might be worth a gamble, in the same way that they took a two-week look at Bret Boone a few years ago... never hurts to look.
Robert (Monrovia, Ca)
Is there any bullpen help out there for the Yankees?
Buster Olney (1:58 PM)
Robert: Not yet, according to some GMs -- that market really hasn't developed. When it does, these are some of the names you might see -- Street, Duchscherer, Zeigler.
Settle for a Buchholz? Aside from Rollins (maybe)what could they give the Red Sox to make them trade Buchholz?
Buster Olney (2:00 PM)
Ben: I'd guess that the Phillies probably don't match up well with the Red Sox for someone as good as Buchholz -- Boston would be looking for some kind of very, very talented young hitter, and the Phillies' strength is in its power-hitting veterans.
Dan ( Boston)
WHO WOULD THE SOX GET FOR CLAY IF THEY SENT HIM TO PHILLY???? I THINK UR REALLY REACHING HERE BUSTER.........
Buster Olney (2:04 PM)
Wow -- now I understand why I'm getting a bunch of responses -- I went back through the transcript and I see that I made a mistake when I wrote 'Buchholz' in relation to the Phillies. I meant Jason Marquis or BRAD PENNY. Sorry about that; my bad. To repeat -- I meant Penny and not Buchholz. The Phillies and Red Sox would not seem to match up on Buchholz. With that, follks, my time is up. Thanks for all the great questions -- about 1,000 in all. Talk to you next week.