Chat with Rob Neyer
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com MLB Insider Rob Neyer will drop by to chat some baseball.
Neyer's book, "Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends," can be ordered now!
Send your questions now and join Neyer on Tuesday at noon ET!
What do you think will happen with Carl Crawford this season? Will the Rays trade him? Desmond is having a good season at AAA.
Rob Neyer (12:04 PM)
It would take some serious guts to trade one of your best players when you're in the middle of a pennant race.
Steve (Blacksburg, VA)
After almost a month, what do you think of the AL West?
Rob Neyer (12:06 PM)
I don't know what to think, except I have this nagging feeling that I may have underestimated the Angels again (though I actually had that feeling even before the season).
Nora (St. Louis)
Brad Penny has been great so far. The start he's had seems a bit much to expect him to sustain, but what kind of season is reasonable?
Rob Neyer (12:07 PM)
I don't think 16 wins and a 3.75 ERA is unreasonable.
Ernie (New York, NY)
I know the Phillies love how they ignore those crazy "stats" and prefer to only look at RBIs and HRs. Is there nobody in that front office that points out, "Hey guys, you know, um, those are stats too. Just incredibly incomplete and not nearly as informative as others. Just thought I should throw that out there." There has to be somebody in there, right?
Rob Neyer (12:09 PM)
I'm sure there are some smart people in the front office, because the Phillies do a lot of smart things. And if they want to pay Howard an extra $5 million (or $10 million) a year for being a good guy ... well, it's their money.
What do the Astros do with Berkman's option ($15 million)that is coming up for next year? Too risky with his aging knees? Or do they have to risk it because a healthy and productive Berkman is their best hope for success?
Rob Neyer (12:13 PM)
If Berkman's healthy for the last four or five months this season -- well, healthy and really productive -- they have to at least consider exercising that option, if only so they've the ability to trade him for prospects if there's a market for him next winter or spring. But that's sort of a long-shot, no?
Erik (Granville OH)
How exciting is it to see Zito pitching like he is so far in 2010?
Rob Neyer (12:14 PM)
I'm not a True Believer yet, but I'm getting there and glad about it. Plus I love those striped socks. No pitcher looks better on the mound than Zito.
Tad (Bakersfield, CA)
Hey Rob. With fielding positions pretty much being the same as they've been for the past century, do you think we will ever see a radical shift in the configuration of defenses, say a "left center fielder" or "2B behind the bag?"
Rob Neyer (12:14 PM)
I don't think so. Isn't it Craig Shipley who says, "There's a reason they put the fielders there"?
Joel (Washington, DC)
Rob, I support the Neal Huntington rebuild in principle, but he and his staff appear to have made many poor scouting decisions in acquiring players. Should Huntington be fired or let go when his contract expires?
Rob Neyer (12:15 PM)
I think it's too early, as some of the players they've acquired haven't had enough time to show their stuff. I do think we'll know a lot more in four months.
Jon (New Canaan, CT)
Rob, you are a scholar and a gentleman. Please settle a debate for me. Over the course of the next 5 years will Ryan Howard be one of the 20 best players in baseball
Rob Neyer (12:16 PM)
Jon, he probably isn't one of the 20 best players in baseball right now. Hard to see him getting better now that he's in his 30s.
An announcer said the other day that the team that scores first usually wins 70% of the time. That can't be true can it?
Rob Neyer (12:17 PM)
Yeah, it really can be. Because quite often the team that scores first doesn't score just once.
Jakeem Johnson (Tampa, FL)
The Tampa Bay Rays are playing very well now. Do you consider them to be a threat this year??
Rob Neyer (12:18 PM)
Sure. They've always been a threat. I had them winning around 90 games before the season, and any 90-win team (on paper) is by definition a threat (in reality).
Jim (Lincoln, NE)
So, am I allowed to call Lincecum the best pitcher in the game now? Seemed like it was blasphemy just a day or so ago.
Rob Neyer (12:20 PM)
Blasphemy? When was this, exactly? Lincecum's squarely in the middle of the conversation, along with Halladay, Greinke, and Felix Hernandez (plus your favorite Cardinal and maybe your favorite Dan Haren).
What will Bobby Cox be remembered more for, winning 15 straight division titles or the ejection record?
Rob Neyer (12:21 PM)
He didn't win 15 straight division titles. I think he'll first be remembered for winning a lot of games, and second for the ejections.
Ernie (New York, NY)
I agree when you say it's the Phillies' money, but isn't it going to be that much more hilarious when they turn around and say they can't afford Werth?
Rob Neyer (12:21 PM)
I don't know ... maybe they can afford everything. Seems unlikely, but how else to explain Howard's contract?
Couldn't agree more with your piece about stadium architecture. Pillars are a small price to pay for getting half the crowd in on the action. Anything else you'd change to make the stadia a bit more fan-friendly?
Rob Neyer (12:22 PM)
Sure. Turn down the volume. It's not football.
If Brandon Wood continues to struggle and the Angels demote him. Do you think a team would claim him of waivers even if he can't hit MLB Pitching?
Rob Neyer (12:25 PM)
Oh, sure. Somebody would stick him in Triple-A and hope he's able to put in a few good years in his late 20s.
Posnanski posted an article saying the Pirates and Royals should swap spots to reinvigorate the cities' interest in baseball and to present more of a favorable condition for the teams based on locales. Is there a solid argument there? Is there a chance we see league-swapping of any teams at any point in the near future?
Rob Neyer (12:27 PM)
Well, if you were starting all over wouldn't you want Kansas City and St. Louis in the same league? Wouldn't you want Oakland and San Francisco in the same league? I think I probably would. I'm a little annoyed w/Posnanski because I've been meaning to write a realignment article for two weeks. How dare he not read my mind and defer to my fantasies.
Are there historical comparisons that we can look to for predicting the trajectory of Pablo Sandoval's career? Or are we forced to simply enjoy the ride and see where it goes?
Rob Neyer (12:28 PM)
I don't know ... Floyd Rayford? Matt Stairs if Matt Stairs were an infielder? No, history really can't help us here.
David (New York)
Rob, I would take Jon's comment about you being a scholar with a grain of salt. I know him and he has questionable judgment
Rob Neyer (12:29 PM)
As an O's fan, give me some reason to even care about baseball anymore. We've stunk for over a decade and were stuck in a division with two teams that just buy their way into the playoffs year in and year out. When will the O's actually be relevant again?
Rob Neyer (12:30 PM)
Gee, I wouldn't feel so awful ... Wieters and Matusz alone are more interesting than the entire Royals roster.
When teams sign players to contracts like Howard's that seem so obviously terrible to everyone outside the organization, do you think they considered the drawbacks that everyone mentions and have reasons that override those concerns, or just they didn't consider the drawbacks at all?It seems unlikely to me that an organization would have such a huge blindspot.
Rob Neyer (12:32 PM)
Really? Have you seen Barry Zito's contract? Gary Matthews? Oliver Perez's? The list is very long, Scott. I think teams do consider drawbacks, but the trick is weighting them correctly. And teams fail to do that all the time.
Tex Premium Lager (NJ)
Hindsight Phillies GM action: Extend Lee at market rate for 4 years, or sign the Howard extension?
Rob Neyer (12:34 PM)
Look, here's the biggest problem with the Howard deal ... it was, at this moment, utterly unnecessary. He was already under contract through 2011. What have the Phillies *possibly* gained by adding five years to that now? Cliff Lee is a separate issue.
Brian (Fort Wayne, IN)
Compared with the past, Miguel Cabrera doesn't seem to be giving at bats away this year, hence his 24 RBI's. If he stays mentally healthy for the complete year, is he a Triple crown threat?
Rob Neyer (12:36 PM)
He's 27, so I wouldn't want to put many limits on what he might do this season. Just not sure he's good for 45 homers.
Alan (Champaign, IL)
I hear a lot about LD% lately. Although many line drives are obviously line drives, how does one distinguish between batted balls that fall into the grey zone between a line drive and fly ball?
Rob Neyer (12:38 PM)
Those are called "fliners" and they're tricky. But once Hitf/x is delivering reliable data, someone will come up with precise criteria for such things, based on speed and trajectory.
Rob, please settle an argument. A friend of mine thinks that Howard's contract is justifiable, because Mauer gets $23 million and he can't even hit 40 homers or drive in 140 runs. I try to tell him that he is wrong and that Mauer is much more valuable and that Howard is grossly overpaid... but we just go in circles. Can you settle this one?
Rob Neyer (12:38 PM)
Henry, I think your friend belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Steve (St. Louis)
I was enjoying the view from the top of the standings today only to look down and see the Cubs staring up at me from not that far away. They've just gotten Lilly back and are actually doing decently. Are they for real?
Rob Neyer (12:39 PM)
They're not a joke, but I still don't see them winning more than 85 games.
Is CC on that list of best pitchers in baseball?
Rob Neyer (12:44 PM)
At the moment, no. He was among the very best when his K/BB ratio was in the 4-5 range. Since joining the Yankees he's been under 3. Still plenty good, but not mystical.
Steve (St. Louis)
Some small part of me thinks the Howard contract is some sort of a hoax perpetrated by the Phillies to make it impossible for the Cardinals to sign Pujols. What do you think?
Rob Neyer (12:47 PM)
I don't think anyone can really use Howard's contract as a benchmark; if they did, Pujols and also Adrian Gonzalez -- just talking about first basemen now, forget about other great players -- would obviously be worth more than $30 million per season, and how many teams can spend that kind of money on one player?
Andrew (Baltimore, MD)
You say we won't see a new ballpark for a while after the Marlins' opens. Does that mean the Rays are stuck in the Trop for the forseeable future? It seems kind of cruel that such an exciting young team is stuck in the most drab homes in the majors, doesn't it? Couldn't they trade with the Pirates or something?
Rob Neyer (12:50 PM)
Yeah, same thing happened to the Mariners in the late '90s. They got their new yard, and I think the Rays will too, eventually. If the economy really does recover, some money will get freed up.
Steve (St. Louis)
To follow up on Ryan's question, why would CC not be as good just because he isn't getting strikeouts? He's getting the same number of outs and allowing the same number of runs, so how do you figure he's not as good?Strikeouts are a reasonable predictor of future success for pitchers, but unlike hitters, they have nothing to do with how good a pitcher is RIGHT NOW. An easy grounder is a more productive out than a strikeout. Why not count those instead?
Rob Neyer (12:54 PM)
Sure, count all the grounders you like. Grounders are good. Real democratic and such. But let's count walks, too. And CC's walking more than he did as an Indian. Thanks for all the questions, but I'm off to the ballpark to get rained on. Until next time, please join me tonight for Baseball Tonight Live (here at ESPN.com) and don't forget: "Resentment is allowing someone to live rent-free in a room in your head."