Chat with David Schoenfield
Welcome to Sportsnation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's SweetSpot blogger David Schoenfield stops by to chat some baseball.
Schoenfield is a senior writer for ESPN.com and he's been with ESPN.com since 1995 and has served in a variety of roles, including baseball editor, Page 2 senior editor and writer, and even interim soccer editor. He grew up in Seattle rooting for the Mariners, believes Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame and had no issues with Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young Award despite a 13-12 record.
Send your questions now and join Schoenfield Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
David Schoenfield (2:02 PM)
Good afternoon, everyone. It's snowing in Connecticut right now, which really makes me wish I could be in Florida or Arizona watching baseball.Let's start ...
Bob (St. Louis)
So, I gather you are Rob Neyer's replacement. Good luck to you sir. You have large shoes to fill.
David Schoenfield (2:04 PM)
Bob,Thanks. Indeed, I'm taking over Rob's mighty big shoes for the SweetSpot blog. We'll also keep using the writers from the blog network on a regular basis and we may have a few other contributors in the works. Stay tuned.
Hey David! Please help me out i'm stuck in school right now! Do you think that the Brewers will be one of the favorites to win the NL Central once Zack Greinke and some of their other injured players return?
David Schoenfield (2:06 PM)
Most experts seem to be liking the Brewers and it's easy to see why. Greinke and Marcum had nice numbers in the AL and they're moving to the easier, non-DH league. That said ... only the Pirates and D-backs allowed more runs in the NL than the Brewers. The Giants (for example) allowed more than 200 fewer runs than Milwaukee. Greinke and Marcum aren't going to make all that by themselves.
Mitch (Mahwah, NJ)
Logan Morrison - Power to come in 2011?
David Schoenfield (2:09 PM)
I'm a big Morrison fan. As you know, he already controls the strike zone (.390 OBP last year), so that's a good sign. He really hasn't hit for much power in the minors other than 24 HRs in Class A in 2007. I think 10-12 HRs is more realistic this year, but he can grow into a 15-20 HR guy down the road. Remember, the Marlins play in a pretty tough HR park.
How does Jon Lester compare to Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee? I understand that he is not quite at their level, but how close is he and do you think that he has the potential to be as good/dominant?
David Schoenfield (2:12 PM)
He obviously doesn't have the control of those two (who does?) as he had 83 walks last year. I wonder if he changed his approach a bit ... he gave up more walks, but fewer hits and home runs. Maybe he didn't groove as many pitchers if he fell behind in the count. Halladay and Lee have the opposite approach: they'll never give you a free pass. Anyway, I love Lester. Definitely near the top of my preseason AL Cy Young ballot if he can add about 25 innings to his workload.
Steve (Middletown, CT)
Any chance the injuries to the Phillies' starting lineup give the Braves a chance to make a move for the NL East crown?
David Schoenfield (2:15 PM)
ESPN.com will unveil our predictions next week, but my sources tell me pretty everyone is picking the Phillies to win the East. I may go with the Braves. I'm jumping on bandwagon this year. Solid rotation, I think the bullpen will be great even with Kimbrel/Venters sharing closer duties, and the lineup goes seven deep, eight if McLouth bounces back. They need Chipper to stay healthy and play 130 games, but I absolutely believe the Braves can hang with the Phillies. Will Utley play? Howard declined last year. Rollins was bad. Ibanez is old. What will they get out of RF? LOTS of questions in that lineup.
Am I crazy to believe that all these predictions about the Cubs have a turrible season this year are greatly exaggerated? Sure, they're not going to be the juggernaut they were in 2007-08, but I think they might be able to compete for a wild card??????
David Schoenfield (2:18 PM)
There is so much parity in the NL right now that I do agree with that assessment. There is a chance the Braves and Phillies run away from the rest of the pack and make the wild card race moot, but I don't think that will happen. The Cubs are still a bit too righty-heavy in the lineup for my taste, but they look like a solid sleeper pick in the Central.
Hey David, what do you think the Padres chances are to take the West this year? I like a lot of the pieces they got trying to replace Gonzales. Can their pitching repeat this year?
David Schoenfield (2:20 PM)
Most of those pieces (Kelly, Rizzo, Fuentes) won't be ready to help this year, so they'll be hard-pressed to win 90 again. The bullpen was SO dominant last year (Bell, Adams, Gregerson, etc.) -- and was really the key to the team along with Gonzalez and Latos -- that a decline there seems inevitable. In the end, I think .500 would be a nice season.
Read the Jeter article. Love how you made your point using stats that helped you make your case. Always relevant when you compare baseball players from decades ago with the equipment, training and workout programs they had to todays players when making a case for how they're going to break down due to age. Great job! Oh, and one year of statistcal evidence from Jeter without mentioning the uptrend year he had the year before is more than enough to go on.
David Schoenfield (2:25 PM)
I feel honored now. It only took 22 minutes into my first chat to fall on the wrong side of a Yankee fan.Here's another way to look at it. Jeter's OPS by year:2006: .9002007: .8402008: .7712009: .8712010: .710One year doesn't fit the pattern. I think this is pretty clearly a player in decline. Of course that doesn't mean Jeter can't bounce back. That's the great thing about baseball -- we can't predict these things with 100 percent uncertainty. There would be fun if we could. That said ... he's not going to hit .334 again.
Do you think Grady Sizemore well bounce back this year or will it take until 2012?
David Schoenfield (2:27 PM)
Man, I hope so. I don't think anybody knows what will happen. The surgery he had (microfracture knee surgery -- no, I don't know what that means) is very rare. So much has gone wrong with the Indians in recent years that they deserve to bounce back to where he was, which was one of the very best all-around players in the game.
I believe the Giants would part with Zito and pick-up most of his salary. I think he would be a good fit with the Yankees. What do you think? What prospects do you think the Yankees would give up?
David Schoenfield (2:30 PM)
Barry Zito pitching in the American League would be a pretty ugly proposition and I don't think the Yankees would want to try that experiment. For the Giants ... even if you could trade him and pay 80 percent of his salary, at that point why not just keep him? As a No. 5 starter in a great park for him, he's actually a decent innings-eater type.
Jodie (West Palm Beach)
Do you see Clay Buchholz as an elite pitcher as yet---#1 (on another team) or #2 starter? What is his ceiling? He really seemed to put it together last year. If he improves his command---could he become the 1B to Lester's 1A?
David Schoenfield (2:32 PM)
Absolutely. Detractors will point out that he was a bit "hit lucky" last season -- his ERA was much lower than it should have been given his strikeout rate (6.2 K's per 9). But everyone loves his stuff and I don't see why his K rate won't take a jump, thus keeping his ERA around 3.00 or so. He's electric, already is a solid 1B in my book and just needs to prove he can handle 200+ innings.
if you could choose between the Philly's and Ginat's rotations to have a better season, which would it be?
David Schoenfield (2:35 PM)
I would take the Phillies ... barely. But you don't think that is going to serve as motivation for the Giants this year? (Not that they need any.) I think the thing makes both rotations so great is that you KNOW all the pitchers will feed of each other. The old Braves staffs used to always talk about how they wanted to outdo each other and that helped keep them focused over 30-35 starts.
who has a better looking rotation, Phillies or A's?
David Schoenfield (2:38 PM)
Shane is back with another question.How many know the A's allowed the fewest runs in the AL last year? They only allowed 43 more runs the Giants, despite facing nine-man lineups.Anyway, there's no Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee or here, so I can't rate the A's ahead of the Phillies. But it's a terrific rotation and a reason the A's should be playoff contenders this year.
Dave (Boston )
Could you see the Indians getting anything from Hafner or has that ship sailed?
David Schoenfield (2:41 PM)
It has left port and stuck in a permanent squall in Lake Erie. $13M due each of the next two years, plus $2.75M buyout. The market for DHs was essentially non-existent this winter (which is why Tampa got Manny so cheap).
Greg C (Philly)
The early reports say Oswalt is fine, but how much of a blow will it be to lose Oswalt for an extended amount of time do to a line drive head injury. Also how would you feel about pitchers having helmets?
David Schoenfield (2:42 PM)
Our story says he was hit in the back of his shoulder, not his head:http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2011/news/story?id=6250885
David Schoenfield (2:45 PM)
Anyway, I think this is the hidden issue for the Phillies. They have little depth and will be riding their rotation. But what happens if one of those guys goes down for a long period? We can dream about 80 wins from the rotation, but a lot has to break right for that to happen.As for pitchers and helmets, I can't see major leaguers wanting to wear something as heavy as a helmet. Heck, some NHL players still won't wear visors. Anyway, maybe some kind of lining inside a cap, but pitching helmets will take decades (if ever) to become popular.
any love for the Red Sox rotation? If Beckett and Lackey are just good, they will be the best staff in the AL at the very least
David Schoenfield (2:48 PM)
Everyone is picking the Red Sox, BUT ... I can see a negative scenario here: Beckett was terrible last year, Lackey wasn't very good, and Dice-K is about as predictable as Oliver Perez throwing in a wind tunnel. Now, yes, I expect Beckett to better and Lackey to be a little better and Dice-K to be better than Oliver Perez, but I don't know if Boston's rotation will be better than Tampa's or Oakland's.
does Toronto have a prayer in the AL East this year?
David Schoenfield (2:52 PM)
Toronto is one team I've him a really difficult time predicting. They won 85 games, but have so many players that are hard to project: Bautista, Morrow, Snider (breakout season?), Aaron Hill, Yunel Escobar, the bullpen ... seems like a lot of question with not enough sure things. So usually the truth lies somewhere in the middle. That's a long-winded way of saying "no, they're in the wrong division." But I'd love for the Jays to surprise and Skydome to be packed liked it was in the early '90s.
Guys, give Jeter the benefit of the doubt. He had 1 bad year. Everyone would have traded Mantle and Ruth in their prime if they were canned after a subpar season. After MM's 2nd MVP when he batted 365, he hit 304 285 275 they following 3 years. Still had HR's but K's are up. He bounced back pretty well in 61, 62, 64. Ruth in 22 and 25 had big fall offs. He bounced back nicely. Jeter is older but he is in better shape then most oldtimers at that age, and does not have to worry about the long ball. His swing has gotten "noisy". Last year he was wiggling the bat too much. If you look there were many times that he was moving in the wrong direction to hit. I haven't seen is new swing but a guy with is resume deserves the benefit of the doubt.
David Schoenfield (2:56 PM)
Obviously, Ruth and Mantle were much younger in the seasons Bob cites. But I do think the "in shape" argument for Jeter is valid. He's one of the best-conditioned, most durable players in the game (150+ games every year). In the article, I compared him to Craig Biggio, who was similar. Biggio's aging pattern is similar to Jeter and Biggio never rebounded once he hit 37. He remained OK, but he wasn't what he had been. I think that's what will happen with Jeter.
Do the Braves have the best collection of talent under the age of 30? Heyward, McCann, Hanson, Prado, Freeman, Jurrjens, Kimbrel, Venters, and then a top-3 farm system to go along with it.
David Schoenfield (2:57 PM)
Good idea for a future post to look at. That's why I really like the Braves heading into the season. Freeman is going to be a good hitter and Hanson has Cy Young-type potential. If Kimbrel and Venters throw strikes, the bullpen is going to be nasty.
Casey (Saint Paul)
If you're the Twins, would you buy a DeLorean and trade Joe Mauer for Josh Gibson? I would. It'd be nice to see some extra-base hits.
David Schoenfield (2:59 PM)
Well, he did hit 43 doubles last year. Plus ... man, it's hard to fault a catcher with a career .400 OBP. But here's my question: Will Carlos Santana be the more valuable hitter this year?
Everyone at ESPN seems to be going out of their way to tell us the Phillies aren't a lock to win the NL East, which is odd since it was here where we heard they were a lock after Lee signed. Seems odd to play up both sides of the story for hits. No reasonable fan sees the Phillies as any more than what they are, the favorite.
David Schoenfield (3:04 PM)
That's what we do!OK, seriously ... who isn't touting the Phillies as the clear favorite? I mean ... besides me?The Phillies were the oldest team in the majors last season (of course, that included Jamie Moyer), even older than the Yankees. That's a huge flag. Their best position player has a knee injury, their second-best position player is with the Nationals, the left fielder moves about as well as a flag pole, the shortstop and center fielder are coming off their worst seasons and the first basemen wasn't as good as he's been. Yes, the rotation SHOULD be awesome. But I think it's fair to say it's not automatic the Phillies win the East.
Beckett and Lackey's statistics (respectively) since both turned in exemplary 07' campaigns:BeckettWHIP: 1.187/1.192/1.535; ERA: 4.03/3.86/5.78; K/BB 5.06/3.62/2.58WAR: 3.3/4.2/-1 (yes, negative)LackeyWHIP: 1.231/1.270/1.419ERA: 3.75/3.83/4.40K/BB: 3.25/2.96/2.17WAR: 3.6/2.9/1.9You fully expect bounceback years from pitchers consistently in decline over the same period of time, while admonishing the masses to follow statistical evidence and admit Jeter can't possibly recover. Yup, you'll fit right in around here.
David Schoenfield (3:08 PM)
I didn't write that I fully expect bounceback years from those guys. I said it's likely they'll pitch better ... Beckett, after all, did average 8.2 K's/9 last year. Strikeout rate is still the strongest INDICATOR of future success. But his in case improvement may mean a 4.78 ERA instead of a 5.78 ERA.
David Schoenfield (3:10 PM)
Lackey is much less likely to "bounce back." You cited the numbers. His K rate declined, his walks increased. He absolutely isn't a sure bet to bounce back. He could be worse. He could be the same. He could be better.
best talent under 30?? Please. Lester, Buchholz, Pedroia, Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Daniel Bard, Ellsbury, Papelbon.
David Schoenfield (3:11 PM)
30 isn't really the best barometer for "young talent" anyway. I'd do something more like most talent under 26 or something like that.
I love listenening to all the NY fans screaming that ESPN is negative on the Yankees.....any article that doesn't say that Jeter is Superman is unfair Yankee bashing. Lets just disregard statistical evidence that he has been declining for years, and his defense was never any good to begin with. That being said, what do you thing of the Yankees rotation this year?
Compelling article. Biggio fell off at 36 and only had 1 year after that would have been considered a good year for him. Remember the 2009 season Jeter had a very good season. Time gets everyone eventually but I really would be surprised if he does not hit 300. I believe it is more mechanical then a big time slowing of his reflexes. It wasn't that he was a HR guy who suddenly had warning track power. He totally lost the inside of the plate last year. He will straighten his swing out and learn to get back those factions of a second back.
I would think Santana would have to get his average way up to compete with Mauer. He has the OBP skills and has slightly better power, but Mauer is a career .327 hitter with a CAREER OBP of .400. Not just 45 games.
David Schoenfield (3:14 PM)
Luke -- I do agree with you. Santana will draw a ton of walks, but it does come at the expense of a lower batting average.I found it interesting that somebody would be sort-of critical of Mauer (maybe it was a troll), a guy clearly on his way to becoming one of the top-10 catchers of all time if he stays at the position.
Between Brian Matsuz, Zach Britton & Jake Arrieta, which one do you see as having the better 2011 season for the Orioles?
David Schoenfield (3:15 PM)
Definitely Matusz. His numbers once Showalter took over last year were very, very good.
David Schoenfield (3:15 PM)
Our scouting/minor league guru Keith Law LOVES Britton, by the way. That could be a really nice 1-2 lefty combo for the O's in a couple years.
Scott's question made me think of this......Pick 1 player in the NL East under the age of 25 to have over the next 6-7 years. Is it Strassburg? Even with his huge injury question mark?
David Schoenfield (3:16 PM)
Jason Heyward or Mike Stanton. Pitchers are just too risky to bet long-term.
how do you see the major awards (mvp, cy young, roy, etc) shaking out in each league.
David Schoenfield (3:17 PM)
MVPs -- Adrian Gonzalez, Troy TulowitzkiCy Young -- Jon Lester, Roy HalladayROY -- Jeremy Hellickson, Brandon BeltI reserve the right to change before March 31!
Silvpak ((NY, NY))
Welcome to chatland, David - I'm sure you'll live up to the high standards set by your predecessors in the role. Re: the Braves comment above, I'm not quite sure why they elected to send Mike Minor to AAA for more seasoning. Yes, they won't need a fifth starter for a bit, but he seems to have reached a point where MLB experience is the tonic, not mowing down minor league bats.
David Schoenfield (3:19 PM)
Yeah, I don't know if they just want to keep him starting until he gets called up or if there wasn't something this spring that they didn't like.
Yankees fans with hurt feelings because you aren't saying Jeter is the best player in baseball? Go figure. Do us Twins fans see Slowey get traded, or do they hold onto him for depth?
David Schoenfield (3:21 PM)
That's a good question. I think one of the most valuable resources a team can have his depth in the rotation. That's been one of Minnesota's key for years -- they don't always have a dominant ace, but they always seem to have five guys who at least competent. I guess it depends what they would get. Seems like their starting nine is pretty set, no?
Eddie (Hoboken, NJ)
For equal time please Dave, I am a diehard Yankee fan, 10 year season ticket holder and I concede that: Jeter is the most overrated shortstop ever defensively, has been in decline, is NOT superman, and will breakdown over the life of this contract. Thanks, signed every rational Yankee fan everywhere
David Schoenfield (3:22 PM)
My new favorite reader!
What's the biggest key for Josh Beckett getting back on track this year?
David Schoenfield (3:24 PM)
From what I've read/seen, his fastball got hammered last season. The velocity was only down 0.8 mph (from Fangraphs) so I guess you would argue his location was off due to the bad back. So I guess it's mostly about his health.
Dan (New York)
Hey, thanks for stepping out on a limb with that "He could be worse. He could be the same. He could be better" prediction on Lackey. Obviously Joe Morgan has taught you well.
David Schoenfield (3:27 PM)
Ouch. For what it's worth, every projection system predicts Lackey to improve. But I think if I say "Lackey will improve" people read that is he'll go 18-9 with a 3.42 ERA. It could mean his ERA his three-tenths better, which is obviously nearly insignificant in the big picture.Anyway, the criticism was fair. That was a bad answer.
David, you mentioned the Cubs being righty-heavy. Should the Red Sox, deep as they may seem, be worried about being so skewed the other way?
David Schoenfield (3:29 PM)
I've wondered about that. There are a lot of very good lefties in the AL East -- Price, CC, Matusz, Britton, Romero. I don't how big of an issue that is over a season, since they can use right-handers to spell Ortiz and Drew. I think it's more of potential issue if they make the playoffs and to face a guy like Price. Would you bench Ortiz in a playoff game?
What do you think of the chances the Marlins have for this season? We have a pretty good rotation and if we play better defense I think we can win anywhere from 90 to 95 wins. Thanks
David Schoenfield (3:32 PM)
95 wins is a lot ... 15 more than last year, but I do like the Marlins. Stanton and Morrison will be here all season, Hanley should have better numbers. As you said, defense is the big issue. I just don't see Coghlan being a positive in CF. NL East should be very, very interesting this season.
Okay, throw this one out there. I'm a die-hard Yankee fan and I clearly see that he is in decline. But let's face it, it's not like hitting .280 (as good as he will probably be going forward) is going to leave him at the bottom of the heap for shortstops, so what if he's not as good anymore, he's still better than most.
David Schoenfield (3:34 PM)
Fair point. The ranks of MLB shortstops seems to be the weakest it's been in a long time once you get past Hanley and Tulo.
DG (Washington, DC)
Regarding Lackey, his pitching style relies heavily upon having a good defense behind him, and with all of the Sox injuries last year, it's clear that he took a disproportionate hit because of that. Do you see an improved Sox defense bolstering a Lackey renaissance?
David Schoenfield (3:37 PM)
Interesting thought. Red Sox were 12th in defensive efficiency last season ... that's simply the number of balls in play turned into outs. (Stat from Baseball Prospectus). Carl Crawford is obviously one of the best in the majors, but they also lose Beltre, who is Gold-Glove caliber. But I would predict their defense will be a little better overall.
Are there any stud minor leaguers expected to make contributions to their major league squads midway or late in the season.....any chance Trout from the Angels sees major league action this year?
David Schoenfield (3:40 PM)
Jason Grey of our fantasy dept did a great piece on his top 50 projected rookies for 2011. It's Insider but a great resource:http://insider.espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/flb/story?page=mlbdk2k11top50prospectsHe has Hellickson, Freeman and J.P. Arencibia (Tor C) as his top three impact guys.Trout's best-case scenario is probably a September call-up.
If you think Belt could contend for ROY; what is the window of starting his service time? Must be sooner than the G's held out Posey last year, right?
David Schoenfield (3:41 PM)
I think the Giants will find it difficult to leave the third-best hitter they have in the minors as long they left Posey there. NL is just too close to waste his bat in the minors for two months.
Odds that Jose Reyes is starting shortstop for the Yankees in 2012? >50%?
David Schoenfield (3:43 PM)
Way less. Haven't they made their bed with Jeter? You can't move A-Rod to first, because you have Teixeira. You can't move A-Rod to DH, because that's likely where Montero ends up. Jeter moving to CF doesn't really solve anything. I just don't see it.
David Schoenfield (3:50 PM)
OK ... that's it for today. I appreciate the questions. I'll probably aim to chat every Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. You can follow me on Twitter at @dschoenfield and the SweetSpot blog at @espn_sweet_spot.I think it's important to note this: Like you, I'm a fan. I'm lucky to have an outlet here at ESPN to express my thoughts and opinions about the sport I love, but chatting and interacting with readers is important. We want to bring some fun to the SweetSpot blog and treat it as an extension of the baseball season and all the things we as fans like to discuss, analyze and argue about.It's a great sport -- whether you're a fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Brewers or -- unfortunately in my case -- the Mariners.Eight days until the best day of the year: Opening Day.