Chat with Jayson Stark
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com senior MLB writer Jayson Stark will drop in to chat about the MLB season.
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 Stark Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:00 PM)
Hi there. And welcome to the offseason. Is it New Year's Eve yet? I kind of lost track. At any rate, let's get started.
Luke (Saint Paul)
Hardy for Gomez? Good trade for both teams? Do the twins finally have a shortstop instead of a bandaid?
Jayson Stark (1:02 PM)
I'll be honest. I'm not a Carlos Gomez guy. Fun player. Great speed and energy. But he's still a major project in terms of converting his tools into usefull major-league skills. I like the Twins' side of this deal, even though it's another indictment of how little they got back for Johan Santana.
Dan (Atlantic City)
Rich Hofmann from the Philly Daily News says the Phils should pursue Roy Halladay this offseason. From a payroll standpoint, his impending free agency and the players it would cost to get him, I can't imagine that will ever happen, can you?
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
I see no way that happens. First off, once the Phillies get through picking up the options on Cliff Lee (which happened today, I believe) and Pedro Feliz (which is likely), and you add in Joe Blanton's arbitration number, they'll be at $115 million for 12 players. So they can't take on that kind of salary right now. And if they wouldn't give up Kyle Drabek for one-plus seasons of Halladay, there's no way they'd do it now. But here's a prediction: The Phillies will be big players on Halladay as a free agent next winter.
David (Sugar Grove)
Is Austin Jackson going to be ready to play left field for the Yankees next year or do they sign Johnny Damon/other free agent for left next yet? Have you heard of the Yankees being interested in any of the big names out there yet?
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
He's not ready. And that's why Johnny Damon fits if he'll do a short deal that doesn't block Jackson down the road. Of course, we're talking about a Scott Boras client, so does the term "home-town discount" ever apply?
Sean (Hudson, MA)
Jayson, is Hermida planned as a 4th OF, or are the Sox already betting on not resigning Bay?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
Right now, I think he's Rocco Baldelli, but with a chance to be more. He's inventory with upside. Has very little impact on what happens with Jason Bay, other than potential insurance if all else goes wrong.
Jayson - So what's the difference between this year and last year's Phils? Better opponent this year? Sluggers weren't hitting? Lidge drop off?
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
I can't do this in 25 words or less. But obviously, if they'd have had last year's Cole Hamels, they were a good bet to win Game 3, which turned the Series. And if they had last year's Brad Lidge, they probably win Game 4. But beyond that, bullpen was completely unreliable. And for the first time in two postseasons, they ran into a team with lefthanded pitchers who could neutralize Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez, and even, when they got to Marte, Chase Utley.
I'm a yankee fan and even I feel dirty about winning this WS. This spending 80 Million more than Boston is just crazy unfair to the game of baseball.
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
OK, I'm going to defend the Yankees here. They play by the rules. They pay zillions in luxury tax and revenue sharing. They invest their money in their team and not their office Christmas party like some teams. And they couldn't do this if they didn't have the right combination of brains and bucks. The Mets proved you can't just give money to anybody who will take it. That said, EVERY time the Yankees win, it will prompt a reaction -- make that an overreaction -- within the sport. So look for a more difficult labor negotiation next time around than we've seen in years.
Omar (Queens, NY)
Is 1-2 years & 25 games a season from Rich Harden a better option than what else is out there?
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
How do you know he's willing to do a one- or two-year deal? And how do you have any idea how many starts you'll get when he gets out there? He's one of the most confusing free agents in years. I would only touch him in a deal where he had to stay healthy to make significant money and to trigger additional years.
Jayson,Should the Phillies considering dropping Rollins from the lead-off spot? An OB% less than .300 isn't exactly ideal for the first batter.
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
Let me ask you this: What's the alternative? Right now, they have none. And Chone Figgins is going to be too hot a commodity this winter for them to go get someone like him, I'm betting. So I don't see anything happening on that front. I'm a great admirer of Jimmy Rollins. But he went through a period for 2 1/2 seasons where he had great at-bats and knew his swing. He's now had two straight seasons where it was tough to say either. He needs to get back to being the Rollins of 2005-07, or this will get to be a much bigger issue.
Thoughts on the Teahen for Getz and Fields trade? Where do all the pieces fit in Kansas City? Is this a precursor for Gordon or Callaspo to be traded?
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
There's no question this is a trade made with an eye toward future deals. I don't necessarily see Gordon getting traded to make room for an unknown commodity like Josh Fields. And I don't know that they already have a feel for what the next deal is. But this provides depth to make a trade. Or two trades. That's the only possible explanation from KC's end.
Jeff (NY, NY)
Do you think that the Abreu contract would be a good bench mark for Damon?
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
I think the annual dollars are about right. Not sure the Yankees would want to guarantee the second year. But remember, Scott Boras is the agent. He's already floating word that Damon is about the same age as Jorge Posada was when the Yankees gave him four years. So if he's insisting on three years or four years, that'll be the end of Damon in NY.
Jayson,That's a fair point. Given the restrictions of our current roster, I would suggest something along the lines of: Victorino/Utley/Werth/Howard/Rollins/Ibanez/Feliz/Ruiz.
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
I have to admit I don't like that lineup at all. Charlie Manuel isn't comfortable with Victorino leading off. So that's out. And Chase Utley isn't a No. 2 hitter. You want runners on base when he comes up. And Rollins hitting fifth? Don't see that, either. Nice try. But not seeing it.
"If they had last year's Brad Lidge, they probably win Game 4." Really?!? From what I remember that game was tied going into the 9th inning and you can bet Rivera was gonna pitch two innings. So MAYBE if the game is still tied in the 11th the Phillies have a chance. But to say they "probably win" if Lidge doesn't blow up? I disagree.
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Your premise is wrong there. Rivera was not coming into that game, with a tie on the road. And his manager had already said he wasn't available for multiple innings that night. Phil Coke was coming in the game. And you saw how they handled him the next night. We don't know for sure what would have happened, obviously. But the Phillies were in great position to exploit the portion of the Yankees' bullpen Joe Girardi was trying to stay away from throughout that World Series.
Matt Holliday (Currently St. Louis)
Should I start packing my stuff... and if so where am I going?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
Where are you going? That's up to you, Matt. Tell your agent you were happy in St. Louis, and that's where you want to be, and it'll solve that problem. But obviously, that's not going to happen. If this is about getting the last dollar, you sure won't be there. Enjoy Queens.
I think Manuel made the biggest mistake of the series not sending Lee out there on 3 days rest. The way Manuel set up his pitching he gave the Yankees the advantage in pitching matchup the rest of the series outside of the game 5 Lee started. Granted the games were always close, but if your pitching staff doesn't match up and your best chance is to send Lee on short rest even if he hadn't done it before, then you take your shot at it. Thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I've heard from multiple people that Cliff Lee wanted to pitch Game 4. To me, if he wanted to pitch that game, I'd have gone that route, because it gave the Phillies the option to come back with him in Game 7 if it all worked out. I understand why Charlie Manuel didn't want to do that, though. He pushed Lee hard that first month after he got to Philadelphia, and it took its toll. Then look what happened in the postseason after he got a chance to recharge. So the logic was OK. But I still disagreed. And wasting J.A. Happ in this postseason was an even bigger mistake for the Phillies, I thought.
Evan Johnson (Salt Lake City )
Where do you see Adam LaRoche ending up? He had a great second half in Atlanta. Any chance of him re-signing there?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
I don't think it's a lock, but he loves it there. And they have interest if it's a short-term deal. So don't be surprised if that one happens.
Jayson, also how about the fact that Manuel didn't use Myers(who shut the Yanks down in a reg season start), or Happ(who had a good season starting), in favor of Pedro and Blanton.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
I just made reference to Happ. Myers was kind of a different deal because he wasn't 100 percent. So they had to pick their spots using him. But the decision to try to turn Happ into J.C. Romero never computed for me. Happ won their Most Valuable Pitcher award. He was their best pitcher from May through August. And then they only let him face 11 hitters in three weeks, and brought him into games with multiple runners on base way too often. I think they wasted an arm who had a chance to make a big impact for a role in which he made minimal impact.
Allen (Lubbock, TX)
What do the Dodgers need to do to make it to the next level? They seem close, but I feel they are still a player or two away.
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
They need a top-of-the-rotation starter, for one thing. Clayton Kershaw has that kind of ability. But you can't expect a pitcher that young to absorb the responsibility and the innings that go with ace-hood. Not yet. And I think they need more thunder in that lineup. The Phillies demonstrated that they weren't that hard to pitch to in the NLCS.
Jordan (Indiana University)
Hey Jayson, I heard rumors all season long that Carlos Zambrano was getting shopped around. Where do you think he plays next year?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
Clark and Addison. That's where. I see no evidence that he's getting traded. If you're basing that question on anything Zambrano said toward the end of the year, here's my advice: Never take anything that guy says on face value. It's for entertainment purposes only.
Daniel C (West Haven)
Are you ready for another exciting game of "Where is Joba Chamberlain best suited to pitch: the rotation or the bullpen? (and introducing Phil Hughes to the game!). I personally think it's time to take the "rules" out of the equation and just let Joba pitch. Where do you see the two of them in 2010 (bullpen, rotation.... AAA?)
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
The Yankees still see both of them as starters. I disagree in Joba's case. And I've been writing and talking about that for years. I thought the postseason demonstrated how well-suited he is for that monster-set-up role. He comes out of the 'pen breathing fire and throwing laser beams. I'm not sold yet that, as a starter, he's an ace waiting to happen once the innings police leave him alone. His performance in September didn't set well with me. And it almost sabotaged the Yankees' postseason, because they got to October with no usable fourth starter.
Marlon Byrd to the Cubs? I hope this happens and it would make sense since it would allow Fukudome to move back to his natural position. Do you think there is a chance this could happen?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
I think Marlon Byrd is going to be one of the most attractive under-the-radar free agents out there. And the Cubs make sense. They're definitley in the market for a righthanded-hitting outfielder who can play center and allow them to move Fukudome back to right. And the list of free agents who can do that is awfully short.
Where would you guess Pedro will pitch (if at all) next year? I don't see the Phillies taking him, but who would be willing to?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
I thought that game Wednesday was a defining moment for Pedro. That game was his ultimate marketing opportunity. If he'd pitched well, he might have made himself a lot of money. But by going out there and throwing 84 mph he looked like a guy you can't possibly run out there every five or six days for 32 starts. The half-season free-agent gig worked well for him. If he wants to pitch, I advise he go that route again.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Simple question: How close are the Braves to being a playoff team again?
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
Very close. Lots of arms. Jason Heyward on the way. Just need to figure out bullpen and (stop me if you've heard this before)add a significant bat so they don't have to count on Chipper to be The Man. That won't be easy. But this is still a very resourceful organization.
Does Cole Hammels need a third pitch? Why was he so successful last year with only a fastball and change-up?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
He wasn't just a fastball-change guy last year, because his curve was a much sharper, much more usable pitch. Plus his fastball command and life were much better. And he consistently kept his changeup down last year. None of that happened with any regularity this year. So first order of business for him is to make sure he's physically ready to pitch going into next year. He wasn't this year. And whatever that third pitch turns out to be, he needs to throw it with some conviction. Didn't see much of that this year, especially in October. He kept throwing that curve second time through the order because he thought he had to -- and with disastrous results.
As a Dodger fan i'm scared of the McCourts divorce. Will this turn ugly like SD? Can the league step in and do something?
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
It's already ugly. And eventually, it's almost certainly going to have to result in the team's being sold. What it means in the short term is harder to figure. But it can't be good -- for anybody.
Just to add on the Marlon Byrd stuff, remember that the Cubs have hired his former hitting coach from Texas. Jaramillo did a lot of good for Byrd, so that could factor in.
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
That's an excellent point. And that should be a big help for Milton Bradley, too. OK, maybe not.
Any chance the Yankees are looking to move Cano in a trade? He's shown he can't hit with runners on, isn't a great defender, and I tend to think he isn't going to get any better.
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Any chance? Absolutely. Likely? I wouldn't say so -- yet. Depends on how they think the offseason pieces fit together. I think you're overstating Cano's weaknesses, which were exposed in the postseason. But over the long haul, his talent carries him. Like you, though, I wonder if he's ever going to make the commitment to get the most out of that talent. I'd trade him in the right deal if I were the Yankees.
Now that twins have hardy, any way they move him to 2nd or 3rd base and resign Orlando Cabrera..
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
No chance. This deal means J.J. Hardy is the shortstop. Period.
Jayson, who do you think will be playing 3rd for the Phils next year?
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
Boy, massive amount of Phillies questions today. I think it will be Pedro Feliz. Biggest reason: Defense. They don't have a big swing-and-miss staff. So they need to catch the ball. And this guy catches it. He's an exasperating offensive player. But he's the No. 7 hitter. They can live with that part, given the alternatives.
Is Rivera the best postseason player ever?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
We all had to vote on that in the ESPN Hall of Fall election. And I think I ranked him No. 2 -- behind Babe Ruth. But in the time I've been watching baseball, Mariano is the single biggest postseason difference-maker I've ever seen -- and that anybody's ever seen, to be honest.
marquis (boston, ma)
Jermaine Dye to the Yankees. I can see this a mile away. Matsui isn't coming back. They need someone to bat behind a-rod in that lineup. Damon more a DH anyway. Swisher moves to LF. Possible?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
I don't see it. The Yankees are trying to get younger. I don't see them pursuing a 36-year-old free agent who faded badly down the stretch. I know Damon is also 36. But they know he's a guy who can play in their town, and that's always a factor. Let me repeat once again, though: It has to be a short-term deal. If Scott Boras asks for Jorge Posada years and money, they'll be on to Plan B.
Mr. Stark, is Pedro a first ballott HOF
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
Absolutely, positively, no reason to think otherwise. I suppose there will be people who think 219 wins shouldn't get him in that easily. C'mon. That guy was The Greatest Pitcher of His Time for enough years that this debate should last like four seconds.
Jayson, how is Rivera still able to do what he does? With his one pitch, is it just his location that's great? How much do you think he actually has lost since he no longer throws as hard as he used to?
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
It's amazing to me that the hitters still can't read the movement on that pitch, even though it isn't as hard as it used to be. Amazing. But if Mariano wants to pitch five more years, can even the Yankees do that? Had a guy from another team say to me yesterday: "Only the Yankees could write that check." But I don't know. I wonder if he'd do a Tim Wakefield-type contract, with options every year to eternity.
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
Oops. Hard to believe it's that time again. This hour went by fast. I only have time for one more.
Any chance the Phillies try to shore up their bench and go after Derosa?
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Will he be on their shopping list? Absolutely. Will he be a Phillie? Very little chance. This is a guy looking for playing time, and Charlie Manuel just doesn't use his bench enough to offer enough of it. Mark DeRosa has something like 15 teams interested. It's probably his last shot at a big pay-day. And because he's so versatile, he fits almost everywhere. He's very unlikely to come to Philadelphia, unless they want to commit to him as the every-day third baseman. Again, I think that's unlikely.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks to everybody who checked in. See you all down the road in Chat Land.