Chat with Buster Olney
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN The Magazine MLB writer Buster Olney will stop by to take your questions on your favorite team, favorite players and all the latest news on and off the field!
Buster Olney is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. A baseball reporter since 1989, Olney has covered the Padres, Orioles, Mets and Yankees. Olney, a bestselling author, joined ESPN The Magazine in 2003, after six years at The New York Times.
Send your questions now and join Olney Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Buster Olney (1:00 PM)
Hi, folks, hope all is well. Lots of stuff going on, as usual ... we're waiting to hear if any teams will make last-minute moves today. And the Giants had a great weekend ... hopefully, everybody got a chance to see Barry Zito's moment of redemption. Let's get to it...
Buster, Is Chipper's bad season from being in an offensive poor lineup or is it a sign that he's toward the end of his career?Thanks
Buster Olney (1:02 PM)
Chris -- I don't think it's because of the lineup; Brian McCann and Yunel Escobar have hit around him and both guys have had excellent seasons. I wonder if it's all the dings and dents the guy plays with and through, and he's older. If you were to grade the moves the Braves have made in the last 10 months, they've done pretty damn well, but I wonder if that contract extension for Chipper might not pay off in a way that they expected. We'll see.
Hey Buster, so ultimately what ended up happening with the Harden-Twins story??? I heard the Twins were possibly looking at gaining another pitcher as well, what have you heard?
Buster Olney (1:04 PM)
Jeremy: I don't think a deal will be made, and in fact, in the last 20 minutes, ESPN Chicago reported that the Cubs will keep Harden and Heilman. If that turns out to be the case, at the last minute, it wouldn't be a surprise ... the cost for Harden would be high and other GMs think the Cubs are under pressure to win as many games as possible, even if they know they're probably not going to make the playoffs. And it's not really in the Twins m.o. to overpay for anybody a month away from free agency.
I hear a lot of talk about how the Cardinals wont be able to afford Matt Holliday next year, but with Troy Glaus and Kahlil Greene coming off the payroll they aren't really paying a large amount out of pocket, so to speak. What's your take?
Buster Olney (1:07 PM)
Andrew: I had this conversation of conjecture with Eduardo Perez, who knows the Cardinals very well, and the basic question is this -- are the Cardinals ready to commit $30 million, or about a third of their payroll, to two offensive players? We agreed: No. It's not the way they usually do business, and because Carpenter and Wainwright must also get paid, there wouldn't seem to be the flexibility to sign Holliday. But hey, maybe Holliday will tell Scott Boras to make it happen and they'll work out a deal for $10 million-$11 million a year, which might be closer to what the Cardinals would be willingly to pay for. The St. Louis ownership always has the power to make it happen.
Any update on where Penny is going? I know he's not much but he would still be an upgrade over Sergio Mitre.
Buster Olney (1:09 PM)
Chip: As of this morning, I think it was a choice between the Marlins and Giants, with the Giants perhaps in the lead, and the Yankees probably running third... As an impending free agent, it makes more sense for Penny to get his next five starts for a NL team, and sliding into the No. 4 spot in the Giants' rotation would be pretty good... and keep in mind that he might get another shot at the Dodgers.
joel (Portland, or)
Thanks for the chat Buster. In all of the talk surrounding AL MVP, do you think Tex's home numbers weaken his base vote a little; and the mere fact that Kendry Morales has stepped up to mitigate all the injuries the Angels endured, shouldn't he be strongly considered for MVP?
Buster Olney (1:10 PM)
Joel: My ballot today (and there are five weeks to go, so this is subject to change): 1. Mauer, No. 2 Jeter, No. 3 Cabrera. I think Morales and Texeira are behind that lead pack... agree with you that Texeira's splits probably will hurt him a bit, but I also think his defensive impact on the Yankees is probably greatly underrated, and should be strongly considered. He'd probably be No. 4 or No. 5 on my ballot.
Brooks (New Orleans)
Did Zack Greinke just win the Cy Young last night?
Buster Olney (1:13 PM)
Brooks: Wrote about this in the blog today -- I think Greinke set himself apart as the clear front-runner, but as we've seen with Beckett in the last couple of weeks, things can change quickly. My 1-3 today would be 1. Greinke, No. 2 Halladay and No. 3 Verlander. If anybody is going to run down Greinke, I think the best shot probably belongs to Verlander, because he has a chance to pitch in some games that will matter in the AL Central race. Sabathia is coming into the conversation as well, and he's been pitching his best ball of the year -- in his last start, he generated 25 missed swings, the most for any starting pitcher in any game this year.
Do you think that Wainwright and Carpenter are getting the credit they deserve? Both have ERA's between 2.00 and 2.50 and Wainwright leads the majors in wins while Carp isn't far behind. I still hear Lincecum at the top of most voting lists, but I feel Wain and Carp could both bring home the trophy and be justified in doing so.
Buster Olney (1:14 PM)
Andrew: I'd have Lincecum, Carpenter and Wainwright No. 1-3 on my ballot right now, but I don't think the gap is as large in the NL between Lincecum and the two St. Louis guys as the gap between Greinke and the rest of the AL field. There's still lots of time for pitchers to climb or fall...
len (los angeles)
Buster, what is your take on the Dodgers getting Belliard, help or more of a clubhouse hinderence?
Buster Olney (1:16 PM)
Hi, Len: They just wanted a little more pop on their bench -- and Belliard can come off the bench and drive the ball. I think he'll be fine in their clubhouse... Guys who walk into a pennant chase rarely ruffle feathers -- even guys who are historically bad in the clubhouse. They're on their best behavior, usually.
do you think the phils have a legitimate shot at repeating?
Buster Olney (1:17 PM)
Dave: Yes, and I think (and I'd bet that you'd agree) that this will depend largely on Hamels and Lidge... Lidge looked good last night, and if he and Hamels pitch well in October, this team would easily be the best in the NL.
Kenny (San Diego)
The Giants just gave their fans a jolt like we haven't had since possibly around '02-'03. Do you think Renteria's potential awakening and the tremendous positive vibes from essentially outplaying the Rockies over the last 7 games (we lead in every game there) will be enough in and of itself to win the wild card despite the differences in difficulty of schedule?
Buster Olney (1:20 PM)
Kenny: A huge weekend for the Giants, but I'd guess that because the Giants' struggle for runs is a daily battle, there will be a September roller-coaster for your squad. A week ago, I thought the Rockies were off and running and would pull away from the Giants, so what the heck do I know? Should be fun. Zito's game was tremendous to watch.
i know this is a dumb question but who do you think is the best mascot in baseball?i know im a homer sayin it but i think its the phanatic
Buster Olney (1:20 PM)
Dave: Agree with you. And as someone who covered minor league baseball for a couple of years and then covered the Padres for a couple of years, I'm partial to the Chicken...
I just heard today that Sonnanstine is taking Kazmir's place in the rotation. What about Wade Davis? Is he ready to be in a major league rotation?
Buster Olney (1:21 PM)
Andy: He's going to come up and make a start in the upcoming DH against the Yankees. My guess would be that down the stretch, if Davis is one of the five best Tampa Bay pitchers, he'll keep getting the ball.
Jason (Ellicott City, MD)
Buster Olney or Buster Posey? Who is better at their job?
Buster Olney (1:24 PM)
Jason: I'd take Buster Posey. First full year in pro ball and the man is hitting .310 in Class AAA, with an OPS of .945. I took him last spring in the keeper league I play in because I couldn't imagine not having the Dude on my team.
Mookie (Great Neck)
What are the odds that Jason Heyward will be Atlanta's starting right fielder at the start of the 2010 season?
Buster Olney (1:25 PM)
Mookie: My guess is that because Atlanta hasn't summoned Heyward for this September, this is a signal that he'll be a late May/early June call-up next year, after he slides out of the Super 2 arbitration class. Their handling of him is almost identical to that of Hanson last year, and this was Hanson's timetable...
Aron (San Francisco)
Is there any update with Trevor Hoffman?
Buster Olney (1:26 PM)
Aron: I will check on it and if I hear something concrete in the next 20 minutes, I will drop it in...
Buster: Going back to your comments on Holliday re-signing with the Cards, I can't imagine they would do anything without first figuring out what will happen with Pujols. What would Holliday complement if they can't sign Pujols to an extension? What would be the value in signing him to a big deal without Pujols there as well? Holliday alone cannot lead them to the postseason year after year.
Buster Olney (1:28 PM)
Isaac: Totally agree with you. The Cardinals' priorities will be (and should be) Pujols, Wainwright and Carpenter, and if you throw a $15 million salary in there for Holliday, that wouldn't leave a lot of flexibility -- unless the Cardinals' ownership agreed to a significant expansion of their payroll.
Does Dave Trembley deserve to be back as manager in 2010? That team makes a ton of mental mistakes
Buster Olney (1:31 PM)
Dan: And it's loaded with young players. Personally, I think that the amount of mistakes made isn't really a fair barometer to judge managers these days, because so many players are brought to the big leagues quickly -- without having played a lot in the minors. My own sense of the Orioles is that by and large, they play hard. They're very young, though, and they generally don't play well. If I were running the O's, I'd bring Trembley back for 2010.
I heard rumor somewhere that Cardinals ownership is indeed considering an expansion of payroll. Who knows...we aren't in the front office with them.
Buster Olney (1:32 PM)
Andrew: that's what it would take. The Reds went out and got Rolen, who makes $11 million next year, and they've also got Harang, Arroyo and Cordero to big-money deals, and all of that leaves them with almost no flexibility, if they keep their payroll in the $70 million range.
Chris (St. Louis)
Buster, aren't Carpenter and Wainwright already locked into long-term deals? You keeping mentioning them as priorities, I thought they were locked up for 3-4 more years already. Pujols still has 2 more years on his contract as well.
Buster Olney (1:35 PM)
Chris: Wainwright and Carpenter are under contract for about $20 million next year, and Pujols is on track for $16 million. They've got other obligations as well... They could make it work, but it's hard to see how unless they expand the payroll (or start dumping some of their other older players).
Nick (Chesterbrook, PA)
Don't you feel a little foolish about your enthusiastic support of Carl Crawford stealing 100 bases? It's probably not the worst call of the year, but it's not like Crawford had been knocking on the door of 70 or 80 or 90 at any point during his career. His career high is 59.Making predictions after a guy steals 14 bases in a 9 game stretch = bad.
Buster Olney (1:36 PM)
Nick: Ah, no. I just stated facts. I didn't say he was going to steal 100 bases, I just wrote that he was on pace to do it, and mentioned that the wear-and-tear would probably slow him down.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Right now which free agent signings from this off-season do you feel have given their teams the best value?
Buster Olney (1:37 PM)
J.B.... Hmmm... Abreu would probably be No. 1. Sabathia has given the Yankees exactly what they thought they were paying for, and so has Teixeira. Hudson has been excellent, in terms of value-for-dollar. Russell Branyan would probably be No. 2.
Saying you would vote for Roy Halladay 2nd in AL Cy Young = BAD;
Buster Olney (1:38 PM)
Worst deadline trade- Garko, Freddy Sanchez, or Washburn?
Buster Olney (1:39 PM)
Alex: To be honest, I didn't understand the Garko deal. I didn't see how he was necessarily an upgrade over what they had. I loved the Washburn trade at the time, and who knows, maybe he'll bounce back.
What's your favorite stadium to watch a game?
Buster Olney (1:40 PM)
Dan: Camden Yards, with AT
Why do I read so much about Texeira being the MVP of the AL? I have a hard time given the MVP award to a player hitting less than .300
Buster Olney (1:41 PM)
Mark: He really has been terrific for them in a lot of ways. Living here in New York, I see them play on a regular basis, so I understand why he's in the conversation. I just wouldn't vote for him in the Top 3, for now.
homer bailey or smoltz rest of this season
Buster Olney (1:42 PM)
Rick: Homer Bailey, in his last start, looked like the Homer Bailey that had been advertised for years. Smoltz has looked good for the Cardinals, but Bailey the other night against L.A... He was exceptional.
Why would you write a piece speculating about potential replacements for Minaya, when Wilpon already said he's coming back? I don't even like Minaya and I hope he gets canned, but what you wrote was irresponsible at best. You don't talk about replacements for that position when the man is still under contract.
Buster Olney (1:46 PM)
Mike: The article stated clearly that I was not talking about the GM position -- I wrote in the first paragraph that Omar is returning as GM. What I wrote about was the organization's glaring need for a front man, whether it be someone who is brought in to run baseball operations (a Billy Beane, a Doug Melvin, a Pat Gillick) or to effectively run the baseball ops from the dugout (whether it be Bobby Valentine or Tony La Russa). Here's the bottom line: If the Mets aren't comfortable having Omar Minaya speak in public on behalf of their team, then they need somebody else to do so -- and given that it's New York, they need a Bill Parcells-like front man. Omar can remain as GM and the Mets can still get themselves front man that they're comfortable with.
Have pitchers solved Adam Jones or is he just worned down?
Buster Olney (1:47 PM)
Dan: I think he's banged up. And let's face it, he's playing on a bad team, and the adrenaline in August just isn't the same as it is for those guys as it is for players involved in pennant races.
Buster,do you think the twins will make a run at the division??
Buster Olney (1:49 PM)
Mark: Yes, absolutely. They can hit and they have a decent bullpen, and the Tigers are a good but not a great team. I don't know if the Twins will ever catch Detroit, but I think they'll make a run (Full disclosure: Before the year started, I had the Twins finishing first in the AL Central, and picked the Tigers to finish last, so what the heck do I know...)
Where has Mike in Brooklyn been since the dawn of journalism.There is specualtion everyday about some GM or coach. Living in NY, I would think he would be used to all the talk. The NY papers are always kind to managers and GM's. Yes, that last sentence is sarcasm.
Buster Olney (1:50 PM)
Robin: And yes, your point is a fact of life here. The Yankees started 1-3 in 1998, the year in which they would win 125 games, and there was speculation that Torre might be fired.
Eric (Saratoga Springs)
Seems to be a lot of Giants buzz right now. Having been a Giants fan my whole life, I'm not used to this especially being on the east coast. If the Giants make the playoffs, what are their chances of making a run? I say, it all depends if they bring their bats.
Buster Olney (1:51 PM)
Eric: I don't know if they would win in the post-season, but they'd be a team nobody would want to face. Imagine a St. Louis-San Francisco playoff -- Lincecum/Cain/Zito against Carpenter/Wainwright/Pineiro. That would be great stuff.
buster, who is the best broadcaster of all time?
Buster Olney (1:52 PM)
Jake: I'd vote for Vin Scully. I'm buying a baseball package for a friend of mine next year as a Christmas present to make sure that he can listen to Scully every night possible, in Scully's last year of broadcasting.
There's journalism, and there's irresponsible journalism. Sorry if I disagree with you, but I found that piece to be the latter.
Buster Olney (1:53 PM)
Mike: OK. I disagree with you, but that's your call.
Buster, if you had answered with anyone else other than Vin Scully, I would recommend you just hang it all up and quit. It drives me batty when people say they don't like him.
Buster Olney (1:54 PM)
Rob: Really, I hope everybody takes one day next year to hear him do a full game, in his last year. Remarkable stuff.
Buster,Is Pujols a lock for MVP barring a complete meltdown by the Cards?
Buster Olney (1:55 PM)
Scott: Yes. Pujols is to the NL MVP race what Roosevelt was to the presidential race in 1940. As in: It's over.
Buster:do you think the red sox make it to the ALCS and play the yankees
Buster Olney (1:57 PM)
Brian: Full disclosure -- before the year, I had the Rays winning the AL. As of today, I'd guess that the Red Sox and Yankees will meet in the ALCS... but I'm really curious to see how Kazmir does while pitching with the Angels. You got the feeling that he needed a change of scenery, and I wonder if he'll be forced into a higher level of accountability now that he's with a new team and has to prove himself to a new set of players.
Ray A. (San Francisco, CA)
Any update on Hoffman to the Giants? I think this would be a smart move for the team, and for Hoffman this may be his last chance at a World Series ring.
Buster Olney (2:00 PM)
Ray: I put in a couple of calls in in the last two minutes, and all is quiet, as far I know.
Buster, I love Vin Scully, he's great, but no one comes close to Harry and Whitey calling a game together.
Buster Olney (2:03 PM)
Louie: How could I tell you that you are wrong? My favorite announcer growing up was Ned Martin, who did radio on Red Sox games, with Jim Woods -- and that's who I learned baseball from, on the radio. So I totally respect your allegiance.
best announcers in the game right now have to be duane kuiper and mike krukow, they present the game with passion everday
Buster Olney (2:04 PM)
Carlos: They are my favorites, in terms of the guys who broadcast for specific teams. We had this conversation in the BBTN pod the other night with Eduardo Perez and Bert and Eric Young... I voted for Kuiper and Krukow.
Buster Olney (2:04 PM)
With that folks... my time is up. I'll talk to you guys next week... Have fun.