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 (1:02 PM)
Everybody ready for Interleague Play 2010 Edition? I am. So let's get started.
How come no one is critical of Jerry Manuel and the pitching coach for pulling Maine after 5 pitches? It seems like a very small sample size and if you're going to pull the plug after 5 pitches, why embarrass your pitcher like that? You might as well have started the game with Valdes!!
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
Well, Maine was sure critical of them. But I think they were right. If you watched those five pitches, he sure looked like he had something wrong. He was throwing 80-85 mph. His body language was uncomfortable. I'd have had a tough time keeping him in the game if I'd been his manager, too.
What's your take on Starlin Castro's hot start? Can he challenge Heyward for ROY?
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
I think Starlin Castro is a tremendous talent. But I don't see anybody touching Heyward for rookie of the year unless he gets hurt or goes into a serious funk. And yeah, I'm including that Strasburg guy in that assessment.
Jeff (Somewhere out there)
Is Ubaldo on his way to a Bob Gibson 1968 season? He actually reduced his 1.12 ERA to 0.99 last night and was on his way to another no hitter had it not been for a minor cramp and a broken bat infield single which should have been scored an error. The guy seems simply too good to hit
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
I don't know if this is his Bob Gibson season. It seems more like this year's version of Zack Greinke -- a guy with superior stuff who is finally ready to realize all his potential. I love watching Ubaldo pitch. If there's a guy in baseball with better stuff than that, I haven't seen him.
Interleague hater (Everywhere)
Gotta get rid of the inter league. How can you have teams battling for playoff spots within a division and they are playing different teams. Why not play more games within your division? Another reason football has it correct-all teams within a divsion get matched up with another division.
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
I disagree, Mr. Interleague Hater. I like interleague. Or I like most of it anyway. I can't say I totally understand the schedule. In fact, I'll have a blog on that topic later today. But it's funny that you'd use the NFL as an example of schedule equity, because for years they had massive, built-in schedule inequity, and nobody said a word. They've fixed that to some degree recently. And I would agree that they now have a more equitable schedule than baseball. But I still think interleague is fun, and I'd like to keep it. I'd just like to see the schedule make more sense.
Jaime Garcia or Mike Leake may have some input into that NL ROY award... Just sayin'
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
I'm not trying to demean anyone else in the ROY derby, and I'm not trying to write anyone else off. But when I talk about Jason Heyward, I'm talking about a 20-year-old kid who is slugging over .550, is his team's most valuable player so far, who has struck out four times all month, who looks as if he's on pace to do things very few 20-year-olds have ever done. Plus, it's very hard for any pitcher to compete with a position player who's that impactful while playing every day. If you look back on ROY voting history, you'll find that most of the time, when it's a competition between a position player and a pitcher, the position player seems to get the benefit of the doubt.
I thought Interleague scheduling had been done division by division....for example, the AL East would play the NL West over the course of a season. Didn't they schedule it like that a couple years ago?
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
It's supposed to work that way. But I've been analyzing this year's interleague schedule, and there's less conformity to that rotation than in any season I can ever remember. I counted 11 teams that have interleague games against all three divisions. The NL East is supposed to be playing the AL Central this year, but the Marlins only play three games against teams from the AL Central. That's the part that makes no sense to me.
Hi Jayson - Hanley Ramirez calls out his manager in unprofessional fashion. David Ortiz calls out his manager in unprofessional fashion. Yet Ramirez seems to have been hit much harder in the public eye. Do you have an opinion on "why"?
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
I've had a couple of questions posed about that. I think the difference is that Hanley loafed on that play so blatantly and took no responsibility for it until he was essentially forced to do so. So that's two crimes for him, to one for Ortiz. But I have a tough time with Big Papi criticizing his manager, too. Terry Francona has gone out of his way to be patient with this guy and give him opportunities to work his way through his issues for two years now. The trouble he had this year was, his team started 4-9, and there was no Jason Bay to pick up the slack, and he had no choice but to hit for him at time. It's always disappointing to me when great players can't look in the mirror and understand situations like that.
Noah N (NYC)
Settle a debate with a buddy of mine please. Ike Davis or Brett Wallace?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
I'll take Ike. Better all-around player. Brett Wallace has the bat, but I'm not sure he really has a position.
Is there any possiblity of a wild card birth for Cox's last year?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
Absolutely. The Braves have won 14 of 20. Chipper and Brian McCann still haven't hit. Yunel Escobar has been hurt. And take a look around the National League. It's sea of mediocrity. That wild card couldn't possibly be more wide open.
Do the dodgers make a deal for Roy Oswalt or any other "ace" at the deadline? Something will need to be done to have any chance in the playoffs!
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
I'm not sure if you've heard this, but Divorce Court is in session out there. And it's still unclear whether the Dodgers are going to be able to add anybody, especially a guy making serious change like Oswalt. They're a top-of-the-rotation starter away from being a team that could do some serious damage in October. But it's tough to bet on them being able to get that kind of pitcher.
no more trivia questions??
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
We tried throwing a trivia question out there a few weeks ago, and I wound up with all trivia answers and no questions. So I'm putting the trivia on chat hiatus for a while. Sorry!
If the nationals end up losing the east or the Wild card by a game or two, was it still right to leave Strasburg in the minors?
Jayson Stark (1:30 PM)
Ya think they might get second-guessed for that, or what? But let me say again there were reasons for sending this guy to the minor leagues that went beyond its affect on his arbitration clock. He'd never pitched every fifth day in his life, for one thing. And they want to be careful about his innings, for another thing. And now, as I mentioned in Rumblings this week, they understand he's ready, but they want him to debut at home so they can control the hysteria, and they're in the midst of a stretch in which they have only five home games between May 18 and June 3. So the schedule is conspiring against them, too. They're trying to develop this guy for the long haul, not just sell tickets. And I don't see that as being any great crime.
Insider nation has a better chance of getting the trivia question right then Mike and Mike do every week.
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Well, since they get zero of these questions right, I like your chances. But I'm still putting the trivia on hold for now. I'll take it under advisement, if that's any consolation.
Jeff (Yankee Stadium)
Do the Yank swing a deal for an outfielder to replace Nick Johnson? If yes, who?
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
I don't get the sense they're in any hurry to do that, at least for now. Brett Gardner has been great. Marcus Thames has been productive enough. Granderson will be back. I could certainly see them shopping for a bat in July, but not right now.
Hi Jason, Would you be in favor of going back to balanced schedules? I et tired of seeing the same teams 18 times, but others only a handful of times.
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
I love rivalries, so I wouldn't be in favor of going back to a totally unbalanced schedule. But I'd like to see a more balanced schedule than what we have now. Maybe something in the neighborhood of 13-15 games against teams in your division, as opposed to 18? I haven't worked out the mathematics. But I know it's something that's been proposed.
Is Kendry Morales the single most underrated player in the MLB?
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
Boy, he's really high on my list. And (shameless book plug coming) I did write a book a couple of years ago on the most underrated and overrated players in history. For now, though, I still think Ryan Braun would be my No. 1 most underrated player in baseball. Your thoughts?
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Could you have envisioned the Rays being the best team in baseball by this much?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
By this much? I don't even know if Joe Maddon envisioned this. You could see how talented they were this spring. But did I know that Wade Davis and David Price would be this good, that they'd have the second-best bullpen ERA in the league, that they'd be closing in on a plus-100 run differential after 41 games? If I'd have seen that, I should be hanging around with Miss Cleo.
Maybe there should be a trivia chat.
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
That would be fun. Any ideas? I could open the last 15 minutes of every chat for solid trivia. How about that?
It's just too bad the Rays continue to draw so poorly at home. Poor fan base or what?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
You know what's so puzzling about that? Their TV ratings are great. So clearly, people are folowing that team and watching that team. They just don't go to the park. I think that tells us they have a lousy ballpark in a location that's inconvenient for most of their market. Let me predict again that one of these decades, they'll be playing in a retractable-dome stadium in Tampa someplace.
Dan (Atlantic City)
Milt Thompson and Phillies scout(s) have reportedly said Jayson Werth isn't leaving the team and will re-sign during the season. Have you heard any buzz about this or contract talks progressing?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
Not sure where you've heard that. But it seems as if more and more people from other clubs are convinced that the Phillies will find a way to keep Werth and trade Raul Ibanez after the season to open a spot for Domonic Brown. I don't know how they'll structure the contract, considering they have more than $300 million already committed beyond this year ($205M to Howard and Halladay alone). But look at their team. How can they afford to lose their one right-handed-hitting masher?
Thoughts on the Yanks calling up Moeller instead of Montero? I know there's logic to not putting Montero on the bench, but if his bat is as advertised, he could double as an effective DH/shot in the arm for a stumbling club?
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
The Yankees aren't real happy with Montero these days. He hasn't hit the way he can. He hasn't caught real well. And he got benched for not hustling. Tough to reward a guy like that with a call-up.
Jake (VA Beach)
Speaking of schedules, what are the chances we see two more teams added to the AL to make it 16 in both leagues? That would make scheduling much easier with 4 divisions of 8.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
And where would we put those teams? We already have a situation where the A's and Rays are candidates to move, and there's no place for them to move to. I ran through the problems with all the potential new markets in a Rumblings column a few weeks ago. So I don't see expansion happening at any time in the immediate future.
No offense to Heyward, but Austin Jackson is having a better rookie season so far -- don't forget, he's playing gold glove quality defense too.
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
Last time I checked, they played in two different leagues. Austin Jackson has clearly put himself in ROY position in his league. No argument there.
Are people giving up on the Red Sox too soon? They are only 3.5 back of the Yankees, and ellsbury and cameron should be back soon.
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
They were really in a danger zone when they lost that game to the Yankees on Monday. But it's amazing how fast things can change. They've won three in a row. The Yankees have lost three in a row. And the Red Sox have bought themselves time to put their pieces back together. They really haven't had the team they envisioned on the field all year. So to be only 3 1/2 behind the Yankees means they've survived this stretch, in my mind.
Jayson, it seems that many people have their minds made up regarding the NROY, including you! Anything can happen, so if I were you, I wouldn't be filling out my ballot until they are due, so that way you can watch Heyward go into a prolonged slump, drop his batting average and not come through in the clutch while Leake and Garcia make their names more well known...then everyone will still vote for Heyward...PATHETIC!
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Hey, chill out there, Eric. I'm not casting any votes yet. Never said I was. What I said was that unless he got hurt or "went into a serious funk," Heyward was going to win. Obviously, if he goes into that funk, it changes the argument. Settle down, pal.
Brian (Richmond, Ky.)
Better template for Pujols' next contract: Joe Mauer or Ryan Howard?
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Neither. Talked to Albert's agent, Jeff Borris, about three weeks ago. He said, "Nobody's contract affects Albert." And he's right. There's no comparable for Albert Pujols. None. I think the Cardinals would love to compare him to Mauer, but from Albert's end, that's not happening.
Strasburg, Leake and Garcia all will have IP limits so it's really Heyward's ROY to lose.
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
Exactly, Stephen. There won't be any AB limits on Jason Heyward. We know that.
Eric (Gettysburg, PA)
Austin Jackson? Has Mark from Flint not noticed that his BABIP has fallen by nearly .100 points, bringing his average with it? A nearly 30% strikeout rate is pretty tough to stomach when you only have 1 homerun with it...
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
I'm glad you brought up BABIP. Early on, Jackson's averge on balls in play was well over .400. There was no way that was going to continue. But he's still in this argument. We've got 120 games to go, gang. Isn't it a little early for this debate?
Brian (Richmond, Ky.)
Follow-up on Pujols: looking at the market, if Gonzalez goes from SD to Boston, who's got a 1B vacancy and the cash to pay for Albert? The Yanks are set with Tex, Boston and Philly will be off the market and the Cubs are going to be cutting payroll.
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
All this talk is irrelevant. Albert is going to be a Cardinal. They can't let him leave. The whole franchise is built around him.
Does Mike Lowell have any trade value? How much of that contract would Boston have to eat?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
I think he's definitely established value. And as we get closer to the deadline, the contract number should go down enough that I'm not sure the Red Sox will have to eat anywhere near the percentage of the contract they were going to digest in that Texas deal last winter. Mike Lowell can still hit. Seems like a potential fit for the Twins or Angels to me, if the Red Sox are willing to make a deal with those teams.
Will (St Pete)
Its not the location of the stadium as there are no convienent locations in Tampa either. I work in NW Tampa (airport area) and it only takes me 35-40mins to get to the Trop. Its no easier getting to Lightning and Bucs games. In fact it may take longer in Rush Hour to get to the Forum from my work then the Trop. Its just that the Tampa people hate crossing the bay, its like they lost a battle with the Rays being in St Pete. If the fans in tampa would learn the short cuts through St Pete they'd realize how foolish they are sitting on I-275. There are at least 5 different ways that are all really simple.
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
Whether that bridge represents a psychological barrier or a real barrier, it's having an effect. The principle here is to put the ballpark in an area that's easier for a larger percentage of the population to reach. And if you put it in Tampa, it also opens up Orlando as a potential area to draw from. So that's the future. Just don't ask me when it will arrive.
Sonny (Clayboh, FL)
.375 .434 .500 Those are Castro's numbers...oh and he plays Short Stop. I know it's a limited number of games, AB...but if he continues those numbers, I don't see how Heyward walks away with it...
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
I agree he's been tremendous. But we're talking about a two-week sample for him, versus almost a seven-week sample for Heyward. So stay tuned.
Mike (San Diego)
We should put together a line up for the "All-Underrated" team for the chat. I'll start by nominating Ryan Zimmerman as the 3rd baseman.
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
I'm all in on that one. Great player.
Any chance the Sox grant Lowell's release and the Yanks grab him? He would be a perfect DH/backup 1B-3B option. Plus he's supposed to be a great clubhouse guy and isn't affected working in a fishbowl.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
You're kidding, right? There's a better chance of me hitting cleanup for the Yankees tonight than there is of the Red Sox releasing a guy like this so he can go help the Yankees.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Sorry, gang. It's that time again. Only have time for one more.
Joey Votto for most underrated player.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks for bringing him up, too. I hope the Reds keep playing like they've been playing so the world catches on to how good Joey Votto is. Tremendous player. Already a leader on that team. And getting better all the time. I need to work on that all-underrated team!
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. See you next week in Chat Land!