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)
Sorry I'm a couple of minutes late. Computer issues! But I'm ready to roll now. So let's get started.
Jeff (NY, NY)
Why would the Astros tell LA and other teams that Oswalt isn't available as of yet? Shouldn't they look to move him before the Lee market starts to develop?
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
I went into this in depth in this week's Rumblings and Grumblings. But Drayton McLane would never give up on a season this early. I went back and looked at the 17 years he's owned that team, and they've only traded veteran players in all that time. Two were basically dumps of players who didn't fit anymore -- Pudge Rodriguez and Morgan Ensberg. And the third was a swap of a set-up man (Dan Wheeler) for a third baseman to replace Ensberg (Ty Wigginton). It's just not their nature to start waving any white flags in May.
Matthew (Columbia, NJ)
Can you explain what happened to the Phillies offense lately? Is there a major shakeup instore if they don't turn things around soon?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
I'm not sure what they'd shake up, other than their lineup. Talked to a bunch of scouts about them this week, and here's what they talked about: 1) They miss the energy Jimmy Rollins provides. They've scored in one inning since he got hurt a week ago! 2) They've become extremely one-dimensional. They've only stolen 17 bases so far -- half as many as they had last year this time. Rollins has been out. Chase Utley and Jayson Werth haven't run. And it seems like the only way they can score is to hit a home run. And 3) they're a team that gears for fastballs, and they're getting breaking-balled to death. They're playing right into the hands of those teams by chasing junk that's way out of the strike zone.
What is your take on the Joe West umpire/fame monger situation? Were Ozzie and Mark Buerhle right on this?
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
We ran a chart on Baseball Tonight the other day showing that Joe West has run up more ejections than any active umpire. Think that's an accident? I really have no problem with Joe most of the time. He's a good umpire. And he makes life more entertaining. But it's also no coincidence that we've spent more time talking about him this season than all the other umpires combined. He's not afraid to make that controversial call and turn the focus on himself. And that's OK at times. I just have a problem with a guy calling two balks on a pitcher who's been using the same move his whole career and had gone five years without even having two balks in a season!
Thoughts on Pat Burrell possibly signing with the Giants?
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
The fact that he's now amenable to signing a minor-league deal and trying to find his swing in the minors is what changed that equation. Early on, teams were being told he didn't want to do that. I think he's a good fit there, at least offensively, if he can ever find his swing. He grew up there. Right-handed hitters at least have a shot to hit the ball out in that park. And the Giants run outfields out there some nights that have five home runs all season. So what is there to lose, at the prorated minimum?
Jayson, why do the pirates continue to pitch Charlie Morton in the rotation? He supposedly has good stuff and there aren't too many other options but this is just not fair for the kid, they keep sending him out to get roughed up. Something's obviously wrong, shouldn't they send him down work with him more in the minors and boost his confidence?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
He might have the best stuff of anyone in that rotation. But it's hard to believe any team could keep starting a guy with a 9.00 ERA this deep into a season. I know the Pirates are all about the long term, not the short term. But I don't understand this one.
devin Goff (michigan)
are the atlanta braves a serious threat to the phillies in the nl east
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
Absolutely. They're 1 1/2 games out of first. Chipper Jones and Brian McCann haven't hit like they can. Yunel Escobar hasn't gotten it going at all. Their rotation, other than Tim Hudson, has underperformed. They survived a nine-game losing streak. And they're still right there. Not sure they have enough offense. But that's a team with big upside, anyway.
Coug (SS Universe)
Ok, we get it. The Dodgers are broke! But please tell me there is something WE can do to get our hands on Roy Oswalt! He would look great in Dodger blue, and the Dodgers could milk his talent like a common dairy cow all the way to the playoffs, for old tymes sake!
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
Talked about this in Rumblings, too. It's highly unlikely the Astros are going to pick up any of Oswalt's money. So I don't see how the Dodgers can possibly afford him. Cliff Lee is a much better fit, since he'd only have another $4-4.5M coming in July. Of course, we don't even have any assurance the Dodgers can take on that much either.
Any chance the Yanks get in on Oswalt or Lee if they're available seeing as Hughes innings will get limited? Vasquez has to be in an Oswalt deal sending him back to the NL where he's more useful.
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
I see no evidence the Yankees will be in on either of those guys -- not in July, at least. The Yankees will be all over Lee if he hits the free-agent market. But for now, they're happy with their rotation. Vazquez and Pettitte are both free agents this winter, though, so in free agency they'll have a whole different agenda.
If Billy Butler plays for a team other than the Royals, does he get some much deserved attention? Batting .340ish and spraying doubles all season long. Most underrated player because of team right now?
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
We get into this underrated debate every week in these chats, it seems like. I really need to do an all-underrated-team column one of these days. Billy Butler is definitely on that list. I suppose you subtract a couple of points for defense (or lack thereof). But he's the real deal offensively, especially in a lineup where he's far and away the one bat teams don't want to let beat them.
Steve (Blacksburg, VA)
What do you think of Elvis Andrus? Over .400 OBP in the leadoff spot at age 21.. Plus his incredible defense!
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Another guy on my all-underrated team. I still kick myself for not giving him enough love in the rookie-of-the-year debate last season. The more I watch this guy, the more impressive he seems to get. If this is the kind of offensive player he's going to be, he's an all-star.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Oswalt has mentioned the Braves as a team he's accept as his new employer. Is there any possible deal the Braves could work out that the Astros would accept and that would free up the salary budget necessary for the Braves to pull the trigger on a deal?
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
I dealt with this topic in Rumblings and Grumblings, too. Talked to Frank Wren this week. And while he wouldn't discuss Oswalt specifically, or any specific deal, he said the Braves wouldn't be involved in any deal for a starting pitcher. He said they need to use their bullets on their areas of need, and those areas can be summed up in one word best I can tell: "Offense."
Mike (San Diego)
OK, maybe I'm missing something here, but why would a team want Oswalt more than Cliff Lee? Lee has a lower contract, a better pitcher, and is a lefty. Is it just because a team would have to give up so much more for Lee?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
Two different situations. Lee would be strictly a rental. A team with some dollars could keep Oswalt for the rest of this year and two more seasons if it picked up his option. But it also means taking on a lot more money. This isn't a fantasy-baseball situation, where it's just about talent. The length of contract and dollar signs play into this one heavily. And ohbytheway, Oswalt has 10 straight quality starts. And only Ubaldo Jimenez has done that. So he's pitching great.
Do you think Yanks need to go out and acquire a bat? If so, who? I understand that Arod and Tex will come around, but their bench does look mighty thin.
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
I don't see the Yankees chasing a big bat -- and there might not be one on the market to chase, incidentally. I see them looking for an outfield bat who could plug into the No. 2 hole if it looks as if Nick Johnson isn't coming back. The name I tossed out there in Rumblings this week was David DeJesus. Someone like that.
Mike (San Diego)
Miggy Cabrera is underrated too. Nobody seems to talk about him as one of the best hitters in the league, yet every year he puts up numbers close to Pujols.
Jayson Stark (1:30 PM)
I disagree that "nobody" seems to talk about him. But you're probably right that not enough people recognize what a great offensive force he is. He's not quite Albert, but he's closer than most people think.
Is Jaime Garcia the current NL Rookie of the Year favorite?
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
Here we go again. It got crazy when the NL ROY topic came up last week. But I'll say this again: It's Jason Heyward's award to lose right now. Jamie Garcia has been tremendous, though. He'd be No. 2 for me at the moment.
Otis (Mt Airy, NC)
You can pick one of these guys to be you CF for the next 5 years, who do you take: Gardner or Jackson?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
I think Brett Gardner might be on my all-underrated team, too. But I'll go Austin Jackson. More tools.
Brooks (Lexington, KY)
A lot of baseball experts wrote off the Cubs 2 weeks ago. Now they've strung together some nice wins including 2 of 3 against LA and we have the struggling Cards in town this weekend. Any chance that was all premature?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
Absolutely. Look around the diamond. The Cubs have as much talent, position for position, as any team in that division. If the guys in the middle of the order just hit like they're supposed to and they can fix that bullpen, they should NOT be a sub-.500 team with the talent they run out there.
Miggy isn't even the best firstbasemen in his division. There is a guy in Minnesota that seems to get overlooked because of one of the best catchers in the history of the game.
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
You know, (caution: shameless book plug ahead) I wrote a book about the Most Overrated and Underrated Players in History ("The Stark Truth") because this debate never ends. Justin Morneau is also tremendous and also underrated. Is he more underrated than Miguel Cabrera? This is a topic that could get you through four hours in your favorite tavern with no problem, isn't it?
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Underrated team? Can I nominate Martin Prado at 2B?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
Excellent pick. He's really made himself a good player, especially for a guy who was viewed as being just a utility-man kind of guy when he first came up.
Do you think anyone might take a shot with Carlos Delgado? He could be very useful to a team in need of a bat off the bench.
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
He's going to have to demonstrate he's physically capable of playing first. Get back to me in a few weeks when we have a better feel for where he is after surgery.
Daniel (Flushing, NY)
What would it take for the Mets to get a guy like Kevin Millwood compared to what it would take for them to get Lee or Oswalt?
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
I think Millwood is a good name for them. I don't see Oswalt waiving his no-trade to go there. And it's going to be tough for the Mets to win a Lee auction. But Millwood is going to very reasonably priced. And he'd give them a quality they really need -- dependability -- in that rotation.
Most underrated mascot. Mr Red. Gotta love that mustache
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
Best mascot mustache of all time. Good call!
Over/Under .320 BA for Andrew McCutchen this season?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
I'll take the under, but he has it in him. I love watching McCutchen play. I'm big on guys who play with energy every day. And he's the same player, every day, April-October.
How about some love for the Cincinnati Reds. Only the Tampa Rays have a better record in May. Are they for real?
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
Little known facts: The Reds, last time I checked, had scored more runs than any team in the league in May. They're in the top two in defense. And their rotation is 13-1 over the last three weeks. So where exactly is the hole in that team? And if they don't have one, why can't they win that division?
Are the marlins getting ready to promote stanton anytime soon? Or is he most likely a september call up?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
No way they wait that long. Best I can tell, you'll see him within the next two weeks. Looks like the date for delaying the Super-2 arbitration clock is going to be later this year than it's ever been. But if Stanton keeps raking, I'd be very surprised if he's not up by mid-June.
Any chance we can see a Yankees and Mets trade later in the season when Beltran returns, like a Pagan for Vasquez trade with the Yankees eating a portion of the salary?
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
First off, did you just use the term "WHEN Beltran returns?" There's no "when" in this one, Dan. He has no timetable and a very uncertain prognosis after a tough, serious surgery. Now, on to the next question, the chances of any Yankees-Mets trade are somewhere in the vicinity of none and none.
Greg (Xenia, OH)
You said that the NL ROY is Heywards to lose i dont understand how when Mike Leake is 4-0 with a sub 3 ERA and more that half of his starts have been quality starts and could easily be 6 or 7-0
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Mike Leake would complete my ballot. And he's one of the best stories of the year. Take a look at my Rumblings this week. I stacked up his start against the other 10 American-born pitchers who skipped the minor leagues during the division-play era. He blows them all away. So I recognize how good he's been. But as I mentioned last week, the way the rookie of the year is set up, it's hard for any pitcher to win this thing when he's up against a position player who has had a dominant type of season. If there were a rookie-pitcher award, it would be a whole different deal.
SteveFitz (Cicero, IL)
Though he has a lot of walks, Carlos Marmol is striking out almost 50% of the batters he faces so far this year. Is that something unheard of or something that happens quite often? That 17.5 K/9 is ridiculous.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Carlos Marmol is amazing. I've been researching this stuff, and I'll have more on him in my Sandwich Awards blog post this afternoon. It's worth signing up for Insider just to read it! (This was not a paid political announcement.)
Adam (Newtown, PA)
Jayson, I'm not trying to panic...but the Phils recent offensive struggles are certainly concerning. Do you think Milt Thompsons job is in jeopardy?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
No chance. Maybe if they get shut out in their next 120 games, too. But Milt Thompson has proven he's one of the best hitting coaches in baseball. This same lineup has put up huge numbers for years. So I think it would take a lot more than one ugly week to get anybody on this staff fired. Remember, the manager is one of the great hitting minds of his time, too. So if they can't fix this, this team has major issues.
I know there has been rumblings of the Twins getting in on the Lee sweepstakes...is there really any chance of that happening and how much of the farm would they need to send off to make it happen?
Jayson Stark (1:54 PM)
I'm sure they'll kick the tires, at least. The one commodity they lack is a true ace. They have Joe Nathan's insurance money to play with in this market. And they have Jack Z's kind of prospects. They'd be on my list of teams to watch. No doubt.
And how do you see Stanton doing against major league pitching?
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
There are some whiffs coming. You can be sure of that. But there are also going to be some home runs that get replayed about a thousand times. I had a scout compare his power to Ryan Howard recently. So any more questions?
Should the Pirates be concerned with Pedro Alvarez's AVG (especially against LHP) and his strikeouts?
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
I'd say yes and yes. Pedro is a great kid with big talent. But I've talked to quite a few people who have seen him this year who think he's got holes that big-league pitchers will have no trouble exploiting until he adjusts. He has 200-whiff potential, in between home run trots, till he figures it out.
So this is what everybody expected out of the Rockies. Are they going to stay like this for the rest of the year?
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
I still like the Rockies to win that division. They've barely had their team together all year. And if you count their bullpen health issues, they've actually never had their team together all year. That is one seriously talented group. And Ubaldo Jimenez is Bob Gibson!
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
Well, it's that time again. I only have time to sneak in one more.
Do you see Mike Pelfrey turning into an ace or more of a 3 or 4 in a good rotation?
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
Depends what you mean by "ace." He's not Lincecum or Halladay or Carpenter or Jimenez, etc. But I'm sold that he's now in that group right behind them. That split has changed his whole aura. The hitters just don't read it. It's given him a change of speed and another swing-and-miss pitch. So if he stays healthy, he's going to win a lot of games for a long time.
Jayson Stark (2:02 PM)
Thanks to everybody who checked in. Great topics today! See you next week in Chat Land.