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 (1:03 PM)
Hey, I'm here. Lots of stuff going on. Races. Awards. And I'd love to get your reaction to my poll of managers on instant replay that showed, essentially, that almost all of them want more of it. And there WILL be trivia later. So let's get going.
Love the 5th ump replay plan. My only concern is that the call up umpires don't seem particularly good and love ejecting people. So even if you got say 5-10 retired umps, you'd still be adding 7-12 of these guys to the big league staff, which might make the umpiring worse. But I still see it as a no brainer.
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
Brian is referring to the replay system most managers favored -- a fifth umpire in the booth who would decide which calls to review or change. Here's how that would work: There would be five umpires on a crew, and the booth position would be part of the rotation. So you wouldn't be hiring just replay officials. You'd need 15 more umpires. If there aren't 15 worth candidates in the minor leagues, that would be a pretty sad commentary on the state of modern umpiring.
Jayson, has my Braves weak lineup finally caught up with them?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
Here's the problem: That team was never constructed to outscore anybody. It was constructed around having maybe the deepest pitching in the league. But Tim Hudson hasn't been Cy Young the last four times out. It seems as if Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens have hit the wall. Kris Medlen went down. So the bullpen is now huffing and puffing from all that work. And there's no Chipper in the middle of that lineup. The Braves aren't dead. But they need their pitching to step up -- fast.
Isaac (Clovis California)
Can we expect to see Morneau this post-season or not at all?
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
Still uncertain. He's making headway. But he still hasn't had consistent stretches where he's symptom-free. And until that happens, he won't be cleared to play. Then, even if he is, he'd have gone over two months without an at-bat. So it's still not impossible, but it's looking less and less likely.
Jayson - My concern with the 5th ump plan is "will umps over rule fellow umps?" While I don't think that the number of bad calls is higher this year (just more publicized), the arrogance of the umps is. Even after seeing a replay, Davidson insisted that he made the right call on the Gaby Sanchez "foul ball". Can you see a less senior umpire being intimidated not to overrule a more senior ump?
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
I know what you're saying. But I'd look at it this way: If the umpire in the booth overrules an umpire on the field, he wouldn't be showing him up. He'd be saving from days or weeks or years of second-guessing, depending on the importance of the call. And if the umpire in the booth is looking the other way on obvious mistakes, then MLB would have to step in. I expect baseball to hire a heavyweight this winter to oversee umpires and deal with the kind of issue you're laying out there.
Mike (San Francisco)
I don't understand the argument between Buster Posey and Jason Heyward for NL ROY. Posey has a higher batting average, plays a harder position, and has almost as many homeruns (with a two month shorter season). And, while they are both important to their teams, Posey is the Giants' most important offensive player (with all due respect to Aubrey Huff).
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
I go back and forth every day on this, and I have a vote. So it's not as easy or as simple as you make it out to be. Posey has been tremendous. No doubt about that. But you're underselling Heyward. He has a .403 OBP, and he just turned 21. The only players since 1900 who ever had a .400 OBP at that age are Ted Williams, Mel Ott, Al Kaline, Jimmie Foxx and ARod! And the Fielding Bible rates him as the best RF in baseball in the Plus/Minus ratings. Plus think how much he means to that offense. So it's very, very close for me.
Dom Brown, Mike Stanton, or Ike Davis?
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
Mike Stanton. I think he has a chance to be one of the five best players in baseball, and he's obsessed with doing whatever it takes to be great. The other two guys look like they'll be real good players, but I don't see the same ceiling as Stanton.
What do you see in Javy Vazquez's future?
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
I see him going back to the National League and getting a shorter-term, good-but-not-great contract. Have you checked out the free-agent starting-pitching class? After Cliff Lee, it's a messy, flawed group. And as always, there will be 30 teams fishing in that pond. So while this year has certainly hurt his bargaining power, he's still very employable.
One solution to the overruling issue would be to make the 5th ump more of a steady replay ump and take the senior guys who can't handle the physical rigors of being on the field any more (Crawford, Montague, Reliford, etc) and who would not be afraid to overrule people.
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
I'd be very open to that. That's an excellent idea that MLB would be well-served to consider -- assuming Bud Selig wants to consider ANY ideas on this topic.
Mike (Reno, eNVy)
15-16 games left...Giants up by 0.5 games. Giants have by far the easiest schedule between the 3. Who ya got?
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
Giants. Schedule works for them, as you said. Lincecum and Sanchez have it going again. Excellent closer. Lots of lineup options now, even without Andres Torres. That's my pick.
What kind of contract do you see Pavano getting this winter (with current success and past history). Do you see him resigning with the Twins?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
There's another interesting free-agent test case. I asked a GM who will be looking for pitching about Pavano this week and he said, basically, he wouldn't touch him for longer than one year. His reasoning was what happened when the Yankees gave him four years. I think he's a different guy now, but he's also six years older. He'll pitch at 35 next year. So again, he's employable, and I could see him getting two years at decent money. But anybody who goes beyond that is really flipping those dice.
For the ROY awards, should it just be performance this year or a mix of performance and potential? Heyward may have it over Posey if we give any points for potential.
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
I know Keith Law has said he looks at this award that way. I respect Keith a lot, and that's a reasonable position. But I don't think that's what this award is designed to measure. It isn't about tools or upside. It's about who peformed the best in his rookie season. And to be honest, I still can't decide who has the bigger upside between Heyward and Posey. They're both going to be multi-time all-stars.
Roy Oswalt (Philly)
Just an FYI, when I give my friends trivia questions, you are always one of the answers
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
Which means I'm undoubtedly the wrong answer!
Matt (St. Paul)
Twins resigning Jim Thome is a no-brainer, right?
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
They'd love to bring him back. He'd love to go back. It would just be a one-year deal. I'm with you. They can't afford Pavano, but Thome looks like a lock from here.
R.Neyer had a nice piece on Showalter and the O's...is it possible the turn around will be quicker than imagined? 26-15 under Buck!
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I wouldn't get too carried away yet, Jay. What that record reflects is that the talent level was clearly higher than the W-L before Buck got there. Remember, that team basically knew it was dead a week and a half into the season, thanks to that April bullpen meltdown. So these guys had nothing to play for and no sense of purpose until Buck showed up. Once they actually took the field with some reason to be out there, it's been a different group. But there's a long way to go before this team is ready to duke it out with the beasts of the East.
Chris (Mount Laurel, NJ)
Any chance we see MLB cracking down on umpires, specifically with regard to the quick triggers and erratic strike zones we see so often? The NHL and FIFA in the past have had no problem remving umpires or suspending them. I think we need a yearly training camp for them so that the strike zone can be at least more consistent.
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
That's what I was alluding to earlier. The temporary installation of Frank Robinson to oversee umpires was the first indication the powers that be aren't happy with that stuff. And they'll no doubt bring in a full-time umpiring supervisor who they think can play tough guy and reign in acts like that. Badly needed!
Luke (Saint Paul)
Why can't the Twins afford Pavano? A) He has become a cult here in St. Paul with the Pavanostache/Super Pavario. B) This is not your daddys twins team, Carl has passed on and his Son has shown a willingness to spend money. With this good team and Target Field the Twins are making a killing.
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
I understand that. But look at the dollars they have committed over the next two years, especially in 2011 with Mauer's contract kicking in. If Pavano wants $9-10-11M a year, I don't see where that comes from.
chris (maple shade, nj)
Do you believe that the phillies are the favorite to win the world series based on their big 3 pitching? I believe they could take either the Yankees or Rays because the phils pitching is just that much better than everyone else.
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
I don't think they're the favorite, but they've positioned themselves as the team with the most October-ready rotation. I used this stat in a blog post yesterday: Since Roy Oswalt arrived, the Phillies have a .741 winning percentage in games Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have started. In nine turns through the rotation, that team has lost only seven times when those guys started. But I also see the lineup as being in decline. That group can be pitched to. There's a book now on exactly how. And teams in the postseason are so prepared, I don't think we should assume the Phillies are going to roll through October just because of the Big 3.
Kevin L. (MN)
How does Liriano not finish in the top five on your AL Cy Young ballot? I'll give you Felix and maybe Sabathia and Price, but not Cahill and Buchholz. Liriano leads the league in WAR for pitchers as well as FIP and xFIP. Also, check out the disparity between Liriano and Cahill/Buchholz in BABIP.
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
He's coming on strong. No doubt about that. But it's the Year of the Pitcher. Remember that. So it's very difficult to separate this group. I think WAR has become way too fashionable, especially for starting pitchers. I'm a big fan of ERA-Plus because it compensates for ballpark factors and opponent. And Liriano is only ninth in the league in ERA-Plus. Buchholz is first! Cahill is third. So it isn't easy figuring all this out!
Hey Jayson. The Brewers are almost assured to put Prince on the market this winter. It is obvious that they will be looking for a frontline pitcher in return, or at least a potential frontline pitching prospect, but what can they realistically expcect to get in return considering his money he will command and the fact that he is represented by Scott Boras? Thanks!
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
I can tell you what they were looking for in July: Two high-ceiling young pitchers with top-of-the-rotation type power arms. And they weren't offered anything that tempted them. Teams just don't trade those kinds of guys anymore, it seems like. The Brewers weren't interested in a Daniel Hudson-type in midseason. But they may have to adjust their sights. Everybody knows Boras is going to drive Prince to test the market, so he'd only be a rental. Tough sell, as talented as he is.
How far do the Reds go in the playoffs?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
I love the way the Reds play, and they're fun to watch. But I just don't see how they have an October kind of pitching staff. You have to dominate one end of the game to make a run. And the closer isn't dependable. And I'm not even sure who starts Game 1. Hard to see a team with that sort of roster construction getting to a World Series.
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Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
What's your point? Give it five more minutes!
Matt (St. Paul)
Will anyone be remotely interested in Manny this offseason?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
Remotely? How remotely is the question? Two and a half weeks into his White Sox career, how about these stunning developments: No extra-base hits. And no RBIs. If this was his big free-agent marketing campaign, it's trouble for our boy Manny. If he wants to work cheap enough, on a one-year deal with incentives, I guess some AL team would take him. But as an official of one team told me in Rumblings, if you don't pay him a lot of money, he might not be interested. And if you have to pay him a lot of money, then YOU'RE not interested.
Mike (San Diego)
What's you opinion on the Jeter thing as to if it was right or wrong? I say no big deal. It's just like Joe Mauer framing pitches or Pujols sometimes leaving first base early to move towards a throw coming ot him.
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
Can't believe it took 43 minutes for this to come up! I always thought Derek had a little Sir Laurence Olivier in him. Now we know. I'm with you. I really don't see the big deal. My friend, Rich Donnelly, says that for Jeter to have said, "Nah, I don't deserve to go to first," it would be like an NFL running back scoring a touchdown, and the left tackle going to find the ref and saying, "Nah, I just clipped. You really ought to call that one back." It's basic gamesmanship. He just gave it a little Academy Award touch. That's all.
Jayson Stark (1:46 PM)
OK, perfect time to give that trivia question. We now know Jeter isn't going to get to 200 hits this year for the second straight season. So here's the question: Other than Jeter (who has done it in the past), name the three other active players who have had back-to-back 200-hit seasons. Two are easy. No cheating on the third. Go get 'em!
Victor A (Temecula, CA)
Where is Sterling Castro in your rookie of the year talk?
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
It's Starlin, not Sterling. But close enough! The problem is, there are only three spots on the ROY ballot. So great a year he's had, especially at his age, he has no chance to make that top three. He's behind Posey, Heyward, Garcia and Gaby Sanchez. And if there was a fifth spot, it would be a massive jumble. Might come down to him or Mike Stanton, but there's a cast of dozens in this race!
JT (Hot Springs, SD)
Ichiro, Chipper Jones, and Jimmy Rollins?
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Ichiro is a gimme. The other two???? Incorrect!
Ichiro, Mauer. Pedroia
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Mauer and Pedroia are great guesses. Also incorrect!
Ichiro, Michael Young, Carl Crawford
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Michael Young is the second easy one here. Did it five years in a row! I can't believe how many people aren't even guessing him. Crawford had NEVER had 200 hits, believe it or not.
Ichiro, Arod, Vlad
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
Two great guesses. Both are wrong. Vlad has had four 200-hit seasons, but never two in a row. ARod has had three, but never two in a row. Good effort!
Ichiro, Manny, Berkman
Jayson Stark (1:51 PM)
Two more good names. Believe it or not, neither Manny nor Berkman has ever had a 200-hit season.
Ichiro, Young, Helton?
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Todd Helton has had two -- but not two in a row.
ichiro, young and abreu
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Abreu has zero. Walks too much!
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
Damon has zero!
Ichiro, Young, Damon, and Oswalt
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
Well, you got a laugh out of me. But Roy Oswalt isn't the answer this week, either.
JP (Columbus, OH)
Ichiro, Young, Pujols
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
Albert has zero, believe it or not.
David (Overland Park?)
Ichiro, Young, Pierre?
Jayson Stark (1:55 PM)
OK, let's end the suspense. Several of you got it. Just happened to find David's post first. Juan Pierre did it in 2003-04. Of course, he never walks and he had almost 1,500 plate appearances those two years combined. But it counts. Thanks for playing! Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
Any chance the Phils give Werth a backloaded contract to fit their future financial parameters?
Jayson Stark (1:56 PM)
At this point, I don't see it. There are only so many guys they can run out there making $10-25 million a year. I'd say at this point it's almost a 100-percent probability Werth moves on -- unless he can't find what he's looking for out there and accepts arbitration.
Who says the Giants AND Rockies can't get in. The Braves and Padres are both fading fast. The four playoff teams are the Phils, Reds, Giants, and Rox. Thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:57 PM)
Careful, Will. The Padres just won a series at Coors if I'm not mistaken. And the Braves finish with six at home. So if they can hold serve on the road, they're still totally in this. But your prediction wouldn't shock me. Put it that way.
Pujols had 212 hits in 03.
Jayson Stark (1:58 PM)
You're correct! Looked at the list too fast. Thanks for checking up on me.
Nick (San Francisco)
I know it might be one of the biggest free-agent busts in a while but the Giants have got to get rid of Rowand, right?
Jayson Stark (1:59 PM)
I think they'd love to move him and he'd love to move on. The question is how many dollars they'd have to eat. And the answer is: Most of them.
Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Sorry, friends. Lost track of the time. We can only cram in one more quick one.
Can this Houston team compete in 2011 w/ some minor tweaks? The Cards seem to be getting older, the Reds pitching isn't there and the Brewers have almost no pitching and may not have Prince either. Thanks
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
I'm not ready to say that yet. I do kind of like the rotation. It's been great in the second half. But can you really project anybody in that group to do what he's doing now? Not for me. I don't see enough building blocks yet in the lineup, either. But they needed to move on and get to the next generation. And so far, so good on that front.
Jayson Stark (2:01 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. Great guesses on that trivia today. As always. See you next week in Chat Land.