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 (12:55 PM)
Hi, folks, hope all is well with you. Should be a great World Series, with two strong lineups and two former Indians serving as the aces, two ballparks that are similar, lots of great players. Let's get to it.
Buster, do the Yankees have to win the Series for ARod to keep his newly found reputation of being able to perform in the postseason? Or could he possible keep it with a strong performance in a Game 7 loss for example?
Buster Olney (12:59 PM)
Daniel: He has crossed one boundary, for sure, with the way he has played, turning the corner from his past struggles in the postseason. But let's face it: If he were to go 0-for-25 in the World Series, he would have to face the same questions from the media and the fan base. If you play for the Yankees, the standard of the team and the fan base is that you have to win a championship. The only player that I think ever really overcame this stigma, to be accepted as a core Yankee, was Don Mattingly. Clay Bellinger is cheered at Old-Timers' games because he helped the teams win the World Series a couple of times. I think A-Rod deserves respect for how he's made the needed changes this year, and he has one more step to take to gain full acceptance by the core Yankees fans.
Steve (NYC, NY)
Buster, I think MLB (and FOX's) scheduling of the Playoffs this year has been ridiculous. Thirteen years ago today, the Yankees clinched the WS in Game 6 against the Braves. We haven't even gotten to Game 1 yet. What is your opinion on the scheduling? Do you think Selig and Fox will smarten up for the future?
Buster Olney (1:03 PM)
Steve: I wish the postseason schedule more closely reflected the regular season schedule, in terms of the pace. As Mike Scioscia noted, last night's game was the ninth in 21 days for the Angels, and something seems wrong about that. But hey, television essentially steers the ship this time of year, as it has for the last 40 years, and that's just the way it is. You and I could clamor all year for changes, along with tens of millions of others, but the honchos who oversee the baseball deals have veto power.
Justin (New York, NY)
Simple question - Yankees or Phillies? And in how many games?
Buster Olney (1:03 PM)
Justin: I got the Yankees in six games. I think the series will swing on the performances, one way or the other, of A.J. Burnett and Cole Hamels.
Otis (Mt Airy (NC))
Buster, I'm interested how someone from Vermont becomes a vikings fan. As a Jersey boy, I became a Vike when my hero (Sir Francis) was traded back to Minnesota. You?Will Girardi start Gardner against Phillie right-handers?
Buster Olney (1:05 PM)
Otis: Got a football card of Gene Washington when I was eight years old, and I liked the Vikings logo. It's as simple as that. I think Girardi will keep Swisher in the lineup, and Melky...
9 of 10 espn experts picking the Yankees. Again no respect of the defending world champs. Nobody realizes that they would have over 100 wins this year if Lidge (who is perfect in the postseason) didn't blow all those saves!
Buster Olney (1:06 PM)
Yaz: Don't take it personally -- or too seriously, for that matter. Before the year started, I picked the Rays to face the Phillies in the WS; I just happen to like the Yankees' starting rotation depth a little more than the Phillies' rotation depth. If the Phillies win, that's great; if the Yankees win, that's great. Truly, I do not care; I just want good games.
Swayne (Albany NY)
Buster: Name the Pivotal player on each team in terms of being the key to success in the Series.
Buster Olney (1:09 PM)
Swayne: I mentioned it briefly before -- Burnett and Hamels. Burnett was strong in his first two outings, and he really let one game away in Game 5 in Anaheim... and Hamels has been a mystery this postseason, and right now, he mostly seems limited to his fastball and changeup. If Hamels throws well, I think the Phillies will win. If Burnett pitches well, I think the Yankees will win -- and given what we saw in the first two rounds, I think the Yankees have a better chance for production out of Sabathia/Pettitte/Burnett than the Phillies do out of Lee/Pedro/Hamels.
What are the chances pedro will pitch in the world series? and come out with a win?
Buster Olney (1:12 PM)
Steve: Sounds like the Phillies are leaning toward him starting Games 2 and 6, in Yankee Stadium. I just don't think Pedro is a good match for the Yankees' lineup -- but then again, I thought he shouldn't have started Game 2 against the Dodgers, and he went out and threw great. We'll see if the Yankees can corner him, in the ball-strike count, more effectively than the Dodgers were able to.
Steve (Cherry Hill NJ)
What's your thoughts on Pedro Martinez starting Game #2 in NY and keeping Cole Hamels for Game #3 in Philly. Should Charlie Manuel be thinking of Cole for his batting skills as the motivating reason to save him for #3?
Buster Olney (1:12 PM)
Steve: Sounds like Hamels will start Game 3 because of his comfort level at home ...
Ian (Hoboken, NJ)
Buster, don't you think this world series could be summed up as the Team Players with Heart versus the Prima Donnas with Talent? Other than Jeter, it seems like the Yankees players only want to win because it'll mean more publicity/money.
Buster Olney (1:14 PM)
Ian: I would respectfully disagree with you -- I think both teams are very similar. A lot of strong professionals on both sides of the field -- Howard, Utley, Rollins, Werth, Ruiz, Lee, Lidge, etc. vs. Jeter, Rivera, Sabathia, Pettitte, Teixeira,etc. And while A-Rod has gotten a lot of flak for a lot of things through the years (and rightfully so), these things are also true: He cares desperately, prepares diligently and plays hard.
Eric S (Saint Petersburg)
Do you think the Rays should go after someone like Billy Wagner for their closer. Please for the love of god stop saying that you picked the Rays for the World Series. It just seems like you keep on kicking the Rays when they are down when you do that.
Buster Olney (1:17 PM)
Eric: There's no way the Rays will sign Wagner (I think) because the Red Sox are going to offer him arbitration and the team that signs him will have to surrender its top pick as compensation. The Rays will never do that. However, if I were sitting in the front office in Tampa Bay, I would pursue one of the many available closers through trade or a mid-level signing. It doesn't sound like they're going to do that, though; the Rays, like a lot of small-market teams, don't feel they have the payroll flexibility to pay big money for a luxury item like an established closer (the Twins are an exception, with Nathan).
why didnt A-Rod get the ALCS MVP?
Buster Olney (1:18 PM)
Steve: I didn't have a chance to ask anybody, but for me, it was a coin flip between he and CC. Sabathia won, and I was thinking: "Nice pick." If A-Rod had won, I would've thought: "Nice pick." Couldn't have gone wrong either way. And Rivera was tremendous in that series, too.
Joseph (San Diego)
What do you think of the hiring of Hoyer as the new Pads GM?
Buster Olney (1:21 PM)
Joseph: I thought it was a mistake for the Padres to fire Kevin Towers a year before his contract ran out, but that's water under the bridge now, and Jeff Moorad is looking for someone who can bring a greater emphasis on statistical analysis to the Padres -- and Hoyer is certainly qualified to do that. I do think he has a strong sense of evaluating players in the way that a scout would, as well. The good thing is that the slate is very clean for him as he takes over -- very little in the way of payroll obligation, a decent (but not great) core of talent, and Moorad will spend more money than John Moores was willing to do in 2009.
What do you think of McGwire coming back to the Cards as the hitting coach?
Buster Olney (1:24 PM)
Randall: The fact of the matter is that I have no idea how good he could be as a hitting coach. La Russa believes he could be very good, and certainly we have seen a lot of players work with him in the off-season and find success. The good thing is that I believe La Russa and McGwire have the kind of relationship in which, if it wasn't working out, they would both know it -- and if Mark felt he was more of a problem than a solution, he would move on.
Small sample facts aside, I wonder how much of A-Rod's performance in the playoffs is due to the fact that (he may or may not be on hgh) he got to rehab and start a shorter season than in years past.
Buster Olney (1:26 PM)
Frank: A great unknown; we'll never know, and even if we had drug tests from him every day for the last 15 years, we couldn't possibly know the effects of the drugs. It's the same with Manny Ramirez -- it's a fair to ask the question of whether his decline this year was related to PED stuff, but that question really can't be answered definitively, either.
Jason (Ellicott City, MD)
McGwire couldn't even hit for average as a player.
Buster Olney (1:28 PM)
Jason: Success as a hitter doesn't always translate into teaching. Piniella was a very good hitter and by all accounts, he is mostly good as hitting coach (although some, like Paul O'Neill, found him to be overwhelming). Milt Thompson is the hitting coach of the Phillies, after a decent career, and he leads one of the great offenses in the last decade. Kevin Long never played in the big leagues, and now he's the highly respected hitting coach of the Yankees.
Mike (Los Angeles)
Buster, what ex-positions make better for managers when the players careers are over? For example, Mike Maddux was a serviceable RP but he is a fantastic pitching coach. Thoughts?
Buster Olney (1:32 PM)
Mike: I heard Joe Girardi do an interview last week and he said that he thought Dave Eiland was an outstanding pitching coach partly because he had to grind for everything he had, as a pitcher, so he had to understand the physical and mental parts of that. I agree with that. But I don't think there's really one mold that always works. Some players become good teachers, and some will never be good teachers... I don't know Rudy Jaramillo well, but folks swear by him... I think Bryan Price is very different in personality than Rick Peterson, but they're both excellent pitching coaches. The coach who I think most closely resembles what he was as player is Davey Lopes, the Phillies' first base coach - he was an outstanding base-runner, very intense, very smart, and as you guys have heard on the broadcasts, he essentially runs the Phillies' running game.
Pat (Wilmington, DE)
Why are we going to play baseball in November? Doesn't Bud Selig understand this is ridiculous?
Buster Olney (1:33 PM)
Pat: I agree. But they wanted to shoehorn in the WBC and they are working with TV partners, and this is what they get. They are well aware of the calendar, but chose to work in spite of that. You and I might disagree with their decision, but that's the way they've gone, and they probably always will go.
Bobby Murcer was a beloved Yankee who never won a championship. You can say Mattingly and Murcer are loved more than 3 of the 4 1996-now core guys.
Buster Olney (1:34 PM)
Tarek: Great point. You are absolutely right, I am wrong.
Who throws out the first pitch Wednesday at Yankee Stadium to kick off the World series?
Buster Olney (1:34 PM)
Steve: If they keep with tradition, I think it will be Yogi.
Hey Buster, so everyone knows that the AL is far superior to the NL, but I was wondering by how much. What's the best AL team that Philly would be favored against do you think?
Buster Olney (1:36 PM)
Joe: Yes, across the broader landscape, folks in baseball think the AL is a much better league. But the Phillies are viewed as an exception (and I think the Cardinals were, too, before the playoffs). I'd bet that if you polled baseball executives, they would rank AL teams in 7 of the Top 10 slots...
LUIS (JUAREZ, MEX.)
BUSTER, WHICH LINEUP DO YOU THINK GIRARDI ITS GOING TO USE IN PHILLY?
Buster Olney (1:39 PM)
Luis: Without putting a lot of thought into it yet, I'll riff a possible lineup for you:Jeter (11-for-27 in his career against Lee); Damon (2-for-22), Teixeira (9-for-23, 1 homer), A-Rod, (5-for-15, two homers), Posada (6-for-21), Matsui (5-for-17), Cano (4-for-18), Swisher (6-for-18) and Melky Cabrera (3-for-11). In other words, basically the same lineup you saw last night.
Stephen M (DC)
Buster, which non-marquee player do you think will have the most surprising series performance?
Buster Olney (1:40 PM)
Stephen: Do you consider Werth a marquee player? Because he will certainly have a load of opportunities to hit against left-handed pitchers, as the guy sandwiched between Howard and Ibanez, as he did against the Dodgers.
Buster - In your opinion, is the team with the most talent truly representing the NL in the World Series?
Buster Olney (1:42 PM)
Chad: The most talented, overall? Without question. But I did think the Cardinals would win the NL playoffs because of their No. 1 and No. 2 starters. But depth-wise, the Phillies have an extraordinary amount of talent, when you're talking about complementary players like Ruiz, Werth and bench guys like Stairs, Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs -- and Happ and Blanton working at the back end of the Phillies' rotation or bullpen. That's a whole lot of talent.
Just for clairification, you said 7 of 10, listed the Phillies and Cards, what other NL team would you have put in the top 10?
Buster Olney (1:43 PM)
John: The Dodgers.
Hey Buster, how does the landscape for the Yankees bench change with the NL games? Will we see Hinske?
Buster Olney (1:45 PM)
Chris: I'd guess (all unofficial) that Hinske will be added in place of Guzman. With the middle three games in Philly, they could use lefty pinch-hitter like Hinske, and Gardner could be the pinch-runner.
Did George Steinbrenner call you Buster, or "Olney"??
Buster Olney (1:47 PM)
Matt: "Buster." He identified himself as "George" in conversation, and preferred it that way. When I talk about him now -- now that he's an older man out of the limelight -- I feel a little self-conscious calling him "George." But I wouldn't call him Mr. Steinbrenner, the way the folks who work for him do, because that's not how we, as reporters, identified him.
Mark A. (Bismarck, ND)
I want to ask you if you think the yankees should change the way they bat at the plate? I think that take too many good pitches and swing at crappy pitches always helping out the other team's pitcher.
Buster Olney (1:49 PM)
Mark: CC can flat-out hit; he'll be dangerous. Burnett... not so much. Pettitte has some power when he gets ahold of one, which is ... intermittently. The guess is that they'll take one strike and then swing away, and the results for Burnett will be ugly. Cliff Lee is, without a doubt, the best-hitting pitcher in this series... CC just hasn't had a lot of practice.
Jason (Ellicott City, MD)
Matt Weiters MVP next year?
Buster Olney (1:50 PM)
Jason: Ambitious... but probably unrealistic. (I wouldn't mind -- I took him in a keeper league last spring).
Will the Yankees keep 3 catchers again and stick with Molina as Burnett's catcher?
Buster Olney (1:51 PM)
Dan: yes, I think they will. Anything to help Burnett. I'm sure they see him as pivotal.
Buster Olney (1:52 PM)
With that, folks, my time is up. All the best this week to all Phillies and Yankees fans... have fun with it.