Chat with Jerry Crasnick
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com baseball writer Jerry Crasnick will drop by to take your questions.
Crasnick is the author of "License to Deal: A Season on the Run With a Maverick Baseball Agent," which chronicles the ins and outs of what happens off the field.
Send your questions now and join Crasnick Friday at noon ET!
Jerry Crasnick (12:01 PM)
Hey folks, It's a wonderful day and a great time to talk baseball. Please keep those mock draft questions to a minimum. Let's begin the chat.
Don (Dublin, Ga)
Can you ever remember a highly lauded prospect get off to the start that Jason Heyward has AND seem to have the game come so easily?
Jerry Crasnick (12:02 PM)
Don, They seem to come along about once a decade, don't they? Griffey and A-Rod are a couple of names that spring to mind, although even they struggled from time to time at the beginning. I'm sure Heyward will hit a rut or two as well, but he's so grounded and has such a mature approach, I don't see him lapsing into one of those terrible rookie funks.
Jerry, why is Mike Scioscia continuing to bat Howie Kendrick, who is leading the team in OBP, in the 8 spot? Why does he love Aybar and Izturis so much?
Jerry Crasnick (12:05 PM)
Goose, Howie Kendrick is a great pure hitter, but he has to bat .330 if he's going to be a good leadoff man. He's more of a hacker than you'd want in that spot. Aybar has tremendous speed, and the Angels think he'll develop patience with time. If you look at that lineup, the 7th or 8th spot is probably a good fit for Kendrick at the moment. And while we're at it, the Angels have won five straight, haven't they? Is there something broken they need to fix?
Jay Bruce.....the National League's version of Alex Gordon?
Jerry Crasnick (12:06 PM)
Steve, That's a little harsh, I think. Jay Bruce signed out of high school and just turned 23. Alex Gordon was a college sign and is now 26. I think the "sense of urgency" meter is a little further along on Gordon than Bruce. That said, Bruce needs to learn to hit lefties better if he's going to be an impact everyday guy. That only comes with time and ABs. And it's tough to learn in the majors.
Fred (Golden, CO)
Did you know Keli McGregor? Any stories you would like to share?
Jerry Crasnick (12:08 PM)
Fred, Glad you asked. I got to know Keli McGregor in passing during my time at the Denver Post. I just remember him as a terrific guy. He was so impressive physically, as well, as a former professional tight end. I was absolutely floored to hear the news yesterday. My heart goes out to his family and the Rockies organization.
Watching the Rays / White Sox game last night I was amazed by John Danks' change up. There was nothing the Rays could do when he threw it. Who's change up is better than his? Santana?
Jerry Crasnick (12:10 PM)
Patrick, Johan Santana's change is certainly right up there. Cole Hamels and Tim Lincecum also spring to mind. And Ricky Romero has really shown an impressive change in Toronto this year. It's not an easy pitch to throw successfully. I know that Ben Sheets and Zack Greinke are guys who've struggled with it at times.
What kind of year do you see Robinson Cano having this season?
Jerry Crasnick (12:11 PM)
Braden, April and May are typically Cano's worst months, so the Yankees have to be encouraged by his fast start. I can see him hitting 30 HRs and driving in 100-plus runs batting fifth in that lineup. And everyone has been saying for years that he's a batting champion-in-waiting.
Whats your take on Pelfrey so far this season? Fool's gold or the real deal?
Jerry Crasnick (12:14 PM)
Mike, I wrote a story on the Mets pitchers in spring training, and I was told that if anybody is due for a breakout year, it's Pelfrey. The guy has terrific stuff, and he really worked hard on developing a splitter in the offseason. If anything, the biggest concern about Pelfrey is that he's too nice a guy. If he develops that little edge on the mound, the stuff is definitely there.
Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton, JD Drew, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Yunel Escobar, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Carlos Quentin, Gordon Beckham, Grazy Sizemore, Jason Kubel, Mark Teixera, and Justin Upton. Every one of these players is currently hitting under .230I thought I would pass this along so that all fans realize that there isn't any reason to panic about there favorite teams offense right now.
Jerry Crasnick (12:15 PM)
Jason, Thanks for injecting a tone of restraint and calm to the proceedings. A lot of things are going to change in the next couple of months. (Although I suspect a couple of those guys might be struggling for a while yet).
Ray A. (San Francisco, CA)
Jerry. A Frustrated Giants fan here. I know it's early, but you have got to be kidding me. An Eckstein Walk-Off HR and a 1 Hitter loss in back-to-back nights? Why isn't Brian Sabean calling Jermaine Dye?
Jerry Crasnick (12:17 PM)
Ray, I don't mean to rain on the Giants' parade, but it wasn't too difficult to see this coming. It's a station to station team with a bunch of older position players who don't draw walks. Their pitching is terrific, but I think they can expect a lot of dry spells offensively. It's hard to score runs with a .310 team OBP.
David's beard (Dallas)
My beard just wanted to ask your mustache how to turn the Rangers around. Is it as simple as promoting Justin Smoak and Putting Harden and Fransisco on the DL?
Jerry Crasnick (12:18 PM)
David, Tell your beard hello. I don't know if it's that simple, but the early struggles of Harden and Francisco have to be of some concern. The Rangers are fortunate that they do have some pitching depth now. As for the offense, Josh Hamilton is hitting .205 and Ian Kinsler doesn't have an at-bat yet. The lineup will pick up the pace eventually.
Scott (Boston, MA)
Darnell MacDonald...anything worth talking about?
Jerry Crasnick (12:20 PM)
Scott, I remember writing a feature on McDonald when he was at Cherry Creek HS (I believe) when I worked for the Denver Post 13 or 14 years ago. Great kid. He had a big future as a college running back before he decided to play baseball. It hasn't quite worked out for him, but it was nice to see him celebrate last night. He's worked awfully hard for a moment like that.
Can the back end of the M's rotation keep this up? 6-1 in the last 7 games with Felix on the mound tonight...is this the team that we thought we'd see or the one that started 2-6?
Jerry Crasnick (12:21 PM)
Troy, At the very least, the Mariners have left themselves with plenty of options. They've got Felix, Lee on the way, then Rowland-Smith and Snell, followed by Fister and Vargas, both of whom have been terrific. And Erik Bedard might be back by May. Having a surplus of starting pitching is never a bad thing.
What teams are you most impressed and dissapointed by so far this year?
Jerry Crasnick (12:24 PM)
O'Neal, I'm very impressed by the Twins and Rays. I spent most of spring training in Arizona, so I didn't see them at all. As for disappointing, I didn't envision Baltimore being this much of a disaster right out of the chute. If you check the schedule, things might get worse before they get better for the O's. It's also been a very disappointing April for ball fans in Chicago.
Can you please explain why Howie Kendrick needs to hit .330 if he's going to lead off? He's got a .411 OBP. Also, he's batting .340 at the moment.
Jerry Crasnick (12:26 PM)
Steve, Kendrick doesn't have great speed, and he's a career .336 on base guy. I know he's been great for two weeks. But he has 55 walks and 242 strikeouts in the majors. He doesn't take pitches or work counts, so if he isn't hitting, he won't get on base.
When will the Rock n Roll Hall of fame embrace Carlos Santana?
Jerry Crasnick (12:27 PM)
Steve, While we're at it, how about Dire Straits and Warren Zevon? They're the Gil Hodges and Ron Santo of Rock Hall of Fame omissions.
Theo (The Fens)
What are backup catcher possibilities for me to target so we don't have to have our daily basepath turnstile debacle?
Jerry Crasnick (12:29 PM)
Theo, How scary is this? Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek are a combined 1 for 32 throwing out base stealers this season (although no one is going to throw people out with Tim Wakefield pitching). That said, what difference is a "backup" catcher going to make when the other two guys log 95 percent of the playing time? All that would do is eat up a roster spot.
I think steve from NY meant when will the tribe call up carlos santana to be their catcher
Jerry Crasnick (12:30 PM)
Eric, Oh, that one must have flown past me. Rest assured it'll be sometime this season.
One last on Howie Kendrick...why not at least play the hot hand while you can?
Jerry Crasnick (12:31 PM)
Bobby, Because it's a long season, and it sends the wrong message to change your lineup every five days because someone has the "hot hand"? It might work on paper, but I don't think that approach would fly in the clubhouse.
Jerry, Will Brandon Wood ever live up to his top potential in the Majors?
Jerry Crasnick (12:33 PM)
Jesse, I honestly don't know if Wood has holes that are more easily exploited by big league pitching, or if he presses so much once he makes it to Anaheim that he can't get out of his own way. Wood is a terrific kid, and I think he deserves more time. But I'm getting the feeling that if he does ever blossom as a power hitter, it will be somewhere else.
Do you envision things getting better for either Chicago team in the near future? The Cubs bullpen and offense have wasted solid starting pitching and a seemingly favorable early schedule, will they turn it around?
Jerry Crasnick (12:35 PM)
Scott, The Cubs need Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez to go on tears if they're going to start scoring some runs. Getting Ted Lilly back should help, but I still have concerns about the bullpen. And I wonder what happened to last year's emphasis on upgrading the offense from the left side of the plate. Did you know that the Cubs have a .690 OPS vs. righthanded pitching so far this year? It's still an issue at Wrigley.
Chris (Irvington, NY)
re: Carlos Santana. Sometime this season, you say? C'mon Jerry! My aunt who picks brackets based on team color knows that. Be bold! WHEN when when!?!?
Jerry Crasnick (12:36 PM)
Chris, Well, if the Indians are conscious of service time and not starting Santana's "clock" too soon, it'll probably be the end of May at the earliest. That's when Baltimore called up Matt Wieters last year.
Jerry, What do you think about sitting Glaus? I know he had a big homer last night, but other than that he is horrible. What are the chances that the Braves bring up Freeman?
Jerry Crasnick (12:39 PM)
David, The Braves are so left-handed, they need some right-handed power, and they're relying on Glaus to provide it. He had a great spring, but he's a streaky guy and a mistake hitter. (And he looked pretty good against Ryan Madson last night). Again, this is a case where it's too soon to pull the plug. Another thing to consider: The Braves are already working in one rookie hitter in Heyward. It's a lot to ask to be relying on two.
What is the general consensus regarding Target Field so far...
Jerry Crasnick (12:40 PM)
Ryan, I heard raves about it from some people who were their for the opener. I saw it during a tour in October and I was quite impressed. It's definitely a different look, with all that glass and limestone. And the weather cooperated on that first homestand, which had to please the Twins.
Sven (Granada, Spain)
Does the lack of a power-pitching ace (jury still out on Liriano) and shut-down closer hurt the Twins' chances in a prospective ALCS matchup?
Jerry Crasnick (12:43 PM)
Sven, I can certainly see it being a reason to pick against the Twins if they make it to October. (And they're looking like a pretty good bet, even though it's early). I don't know a lot of people who have tremendous faith in Jon Rauch over the long haul. And while Slowey, Baker, Blackburn & Co are efficient strike throwers, they don't have the type of blowaway stuff you like to see in October. They're good -- maybe just better suited for the long haul than the postseason.
Bawb (Fairview, UT)
Jerry, I really enjoyed your article about "clarity at one position" Sometimes bad signings or findings have a lot to do with never finding the right fit, but in Boston's defense Renteria seemed like a pretty good idea. He left the next year and had a great season in Atlanta. What one position in baseball do you think would be least important in keeping a consistant talent at? I would think Catcher & Shortstop would be the hardest to have the revolving door at.
Jerry Crasnick (12:45 PM)
Bawb, Good call on that. The baseball people I interviewed for that story said it's vital to be solid up the middle year after year. That's why the Phillies are in such good hands with Rollins, Utley, Victorino and Carlos Ruiz. Teams typically change more at the outfield corners.
jeff (new jersey)
How good are the yanks...Arod has 2 hrs. Tex has 1 and is hitting under 150. Nick Johnson has done nothing and they are 10-3.How many wins?
Jerry Crasnick (12:47 PM)
Jeff, The Yankees absolutely crush mediocre pitching, and they have a knack for getting into opposing teams' bullpens early. Judging from the terrible relief pitching I've seen so far, I can see them winning 95 games minimum, and easily surpassing 100. (Not to sound like a Yankee homer or anything).
Is JD Drew the most polarizing figure in baseball? Stat nerds love/defend him and regular fans think he's a dog.
Jerry Crasnick (12:49 PM)
Travis, Good question. For such a mellow, likeable guy, JD does generate a lot of pro and con. A lot of it goes back to his Phillies holdout and relationship with Scott Boras in the draft. As for hot-button guys, the statheads sure spend a lot of time obsessing about Jeff Francoeur, while the mainstream press likes him because he plays hard and is such a likeable dude.
joe (san diego)
what do you think of the padres pitching?
Jerry Crasnick (12:50 PM)
Joe, It's coming along. I think Mat Latos has a chance to be the real deal. But they need Chris Young to stay healthy. I talked to a scout yesterday who said he thinks the Padres will hang around all season because "they always play their (butts) off." That's a compliment to Bud Black and his staff.
What is wrong with D Wright? He hasn't been able to stop swinging and missing and he can't blame it on no protection this year with Bay behind him.
Jerry Crasnick (12:52 PM)
Joe, A better question might be, what's wrong with Jason Bay? He leads the National League with 21 strikeouts in 51 at-bats.
How long until Bobby moves Heyward up the 5th spot seeing Glaus might be the worst position pickup this past off-season (one clutch dinger does not erase the 0-5 including 3 k's and 2 GIPD with bases loaded)?
Jerry Crasnick (12:53 PM)
D.J., I'm sure the Braves will contemplete moving Heyward up the lineup at some point. But even once-in-a-generation phenoms deserve a little time to get their feet on the ground. Give it a month or two and we'll see.
dale doback (dc)
How good is Brian Matusz? Are we looking at an immediate All-Star, and future Cy Young contender?
Jerry Crasnick (12:54 PM)
Dale, He's pretty good -- I picked him as my AL Rookie of the Year. Then I sat in a press box in Jupiter and listened to Jim Palmer rave about his maturity and approach to pitching. That's a pretty solid endorsement, don't you think?
Jason (St Louis)
I'll tell you hates JD Drew. Every Cardinals, Braves and Dodgers fan. The only good thing about him in my opinion is the Cards for Wainright in a trade for him. That almost makes up for trading Haren and Daric Barton for Mark Mulder.
Jerry Crasnick (12:55 PM)
Jason, Thanks for weighing in from the heartland. I thought St. Louis bred a kindler, gentler type of fan. I guess not in J.D.'s case.
Price or Garza for Cy Young?
Jerry Crasnick (12:56 PM)
Colin, Way too soon to tell, obviously, but Matt Garza looks ridiculously good in the early going.
How much more patience can the Rangers have with Davis? When do they say enough is enough and call up Smoak?
Jerry Crasnick (12:58 PM)
Tony, We answer a lot of questions about these callups. Teams have an economic motive to wait until the end of May, because that postpones a player's salary arbitration and free agency by a year. Unless you're in a completely desperate situation, it pays to wait until the end of May to make the move. That prevents a player from being eligible as a "Super 2" arbitration player a year early. Saves big money down the road for a club.
Is Ricky Romero capable of being a true ace and filling the shoes at least halfway of Roy Halladay?
Jerry Crasnick (1:00 PM)
Derek, Nobody "replaces" Roy Halladay, but Romero looks great so far. And he's a competitor too. The guy was ticked when he lost that no-hitter last week. But he needs a little time to grow into that "franchise mainstay, staff ace" role.
Bryan (coon rapids)
Do you see the twins trading for a closer mid-season? Rauch is a good stop-gap for a half of a season, but he definately isn't the answer if you want to win in the playoffs. And as much as I like Nathan, he was pretty terrible in the playoffs as well.
Jerry Crasnick (1:01 PM)
Bryan, That's a good point about Joe Nathan. But the Twins did ride him hard down the stretch, and some people thought he was cooked by that Yankee series. The Twins are off to such a good start, Bill Smith has the luxury of making the move strictly on its merits, rather than operating out of a sense of panic. (The Twins never work that way, regardless).
John, Austin [via mobile]
Jerry, please give me one good reason to see the Astros this year.
Jerry Crasnick (1:02 PM)
John, I'll give you too: Brad Mills has helped improve the mindset in that clubhouse, and they have the makings of a pretty good rotation with Oswalt, Rodriguez, Myers and Bud Norris. Feel better now?
Do you see Jesus Montero eventually replacing Nick Johnson as the everyday DH in New York?
Jerry Crasnick (1:03 PM)
Colin, Could be. Montero can hit, but everybody says he's better suited to DHing than catching over the long haul. That's not always an easy transition to make. I think that's why you see more older guys handling the DH role.
Jerry Crasnick (1:03 PM)
Hey, thanks for the questions, everybody. Let's do it again next week.