Chat with Jerry Crasnick
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com baseball writer Jerry Crasnick will drop by to take your questions.
Crasnick is the author of "License to Deal: A Season on the Run With a Maverick Baseball Agent," which chronicles the ins and outs of what happens off the field.
Send your questions now and join Crasnick Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jerry Crasnick (1:01 PM)
Hey everybody, This is no mock chat. It's the real deal. So let's talk some baseball.
Are Red Sox fans right to boo Valentine, or did his bullpen flat let him down?
Jerry Crasnick (1:02 PM)
Alex, Hey, Red Sox fans spend more money per seat than any fans in baseball, so they're entitled to do whatever they want. As I've mentioned previously, I don't think Bobby V helps himself when he acts smug or says things just to be provocative. But it's hard to fault him for the team's early play. Between the injuries and the lack of pitching, the Red Sox just aren't very good right now.
The Cardinals have three pitchers in the top ten in ERA, and two in the top ten in WHIP. Granted, it has only been three games for each, but what are the chances one of them continues on this mad pace and wins the Cy Young (You can never be too optimistic, right? and with a terrible division anything is possible.)? On a related note, who gets taken out when Carp is healthy. I don't think anyone wants to leave he rotation as of now.
Jerry Crasnick (1:05 PM)
Aditya, Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn have been great, but I don't see any of those guys overtaking Roy Halladay or Matt Cain or whomever the NL Cy Young frontrunner will be. As for the Carpenter question, Adam Wainwright is pitching the worst of any St. Louis starter right now, and he's not getting taken out of the rotation. For what it's worth, Carp might not be back for 2 months, so it's not worth worrying about at the moment.
Jerry Crasnick (1:06 PM)
Incidentally, how about some props for Derek Lilliquist for the job he's done replacing Dave Duncan in St. Louis under difficult circumstances? I just figured that's worth mentioning.
Brian (Fishers, IN)
So is Ned Yost on the hot seat yet because of the Royals' terrible start? I'm not saying he should be fired, but managers tend to take the blame for this sort of thing.
Jerry Crasnick (1:08 PM)
Brian, I think Yost deserves a little more time. Jeff Francoeur has 2 RBIs and Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer are both hitting below .200, and that should turn around relatively soon. But if the Royals continue to play badly, Yost's seat could be very, very warm in a few weeks.
Hey Jerry have you ever been in attendance when a No Hitter was pitched? I was lucky enough to see Dave Righetti on 4th of July 83.
Jerry Crasnick (1:09 PM)
Tarek, I was in Cincinnati at Riverfront Stadium the night Tom Browning pitched his perfect game. On a related note, I was at Coors Field in the mid-90s collecting stuff for a Sunday notes column for the Denver Post, and I decided to go home and watch the game on TV when the start was delayed more than 2 hours by rain. Hideo Nomo wound up pitching a no-hitter that night. Ooops!
Jerry, what do you think of the Angels and Albert slow start?
Jerry Crasnick (1:11 PM)
Justin, According to the ESPN stats people, Pujols is fouling off a lot of the middle-in fastballs that he usually pulverizes. That tells me he's just a little bit off. I'm big on track records, and two weeks is way too soon to fret about Albert Pujols. He and Torii Hunter have combined for 0 HRs and 10 RBI, I believe. That's going to turn around soon, and the Angels will start playing better.
Is Strasburg a top 5 pitcher in baseball right now?
Jerry Crasnick (1:13 PM)
Mike, On any given night, Strasburg has as good a chance to pitch a no-hitter as any pitcher in baseball not named Justin Verlander. But it's hard to rank a guy in the top 5 when he's limited to 160 innings in a season. When it's next year and the wraps are taken off, then we can talk.
Any word on Chris Carpenter? Will he return before the All Star break?
Jerry Crasnick (1:14 PM)
Carpenter is not coming along as well as the Cardinals had expected. For a while they were hoping he would be back by June. Now I'm thinking the All-Star Game might be the best-case scenario. But the Cards aren't setting any timetables.
Though its a small sample, do you think the Braves can continue to score runs the way they have been?
Jerry Crasnick (1:16 PM)
Donny, They were destined to be better than last season. Heyward, Prado and McCann are healthy again, Dan Uggla is a year removed from all that contract-related pressure, and they have an entire season with Michael Bourn's speed at the top of the order. I also wonder how much of an impact new hitting coach Greg Walker has had there. Judging from the recent numbers, it's been pretty positive.
JP (Columbus, OH)
Jerry - Skyline Chili on me if you take my question. Do you see Aroldis starting before the year is through? Obviously he's excelling in high-leverage situations, but imagine how many of those situations the Reds could avoid if he were starting in place of Bailey or Leake.
Jerry Crasnick (1:19 PM)
JP, Chili with cinnamon? Chapman will always be intriguing for his ability to start or relieve, but I just wonder if he'll ever adapt to pacing himself, navigating lineups and maintaining his release point for 100 pitches -- all things that a starter needs to do on a consistent basis. He's such a weapon in the bullpen, I think they would prefer to keep him there.
What is the story with the Tigers' Smilly, where did he come from? He's having a solid season so far.
Jerry Crasnick (1:21 PM)
Jack, Drew Smyly was Detroit's second-round pick out of Arkansas in 2010. The Tigers gave him a $1.1 million bonus, so they expected him to be pretty good. Baseball America ranked Smyly as Detroit's No. 3 prospect heading into this season, behind pitcher Jacob Turner and third baseman Nick Castellanos.
From what you have seen have Rios and Dunn figured it out at the plate? I am not expected .280 from either but think the Sox can stay competitive if they are around .250-.260 and hit with some power.
Jerry Crasnick (1:24 PM)
Matt, That's the thing: They don't have to be All-Stars -- just better than horrible. Judging from the early results, they're closer to their old selves than the automatic outs they were in 2011. That completely changes the look of that Chicago team. Funny: Atlanta's offense is blossoming under new hitting coach Greg Walker, and Dunn and Rios have been much better under Jeff Manto. It's hard to figure these things out sometimes.
Biggest surprise of the season so far? Chicago White Sox maybe?
Jerry Crasnick (1:26 PM)
Dennis, I would probably go with the Nationals and Dodgers, because they've been so good. But the White Sox certainly rank up there. I picked them to win the division in 2011 and they stunk. They had zero expectations this year, and that never hurts. I think the addition of a new, calmer voice in Robin Ventura has made a big difference as well. Ozzie Guillen's routine had gotten stale in Chicago.
Brent (Bakersfield, CA)
Prediction on how Lincecum does today?
Jerry Crasnick (1:28 PM)
Brent, I'm the world's worst predictor, but I think Lincecum is going to struggle until he can ratchet up the velocity a little bit. It's just tough to pitch the same way at 89-91 that you did at 94-96.
Hello Mr. Crasnick, if you had the power to create/eliminate only one rule in MLB... what would you do?Thanks
Jerry Crasnick (1:29 PM)
Francisco, One thing that's always bothered me is watching a ball fall between three defenders and seeing it ruled a hit and having the pitcher's ERA get crushed. I know that's more a scoring thing than a "rule," per se. But I wish pitchers could catch more of a break in that situation. If I think of any bad rules before the chat is over, I'll pass them along.
Kevin (Tampa Bay)
How about some love the Rays - swept the Yanks - finised a game under .500 on a 10-game road trip and took 2 of 3 from the Twins. It looks like our pitching has settled down and our bats are doing much better than most thought.
Jerry Crasnick (1:31 PM)
Kevin, You have to love the Rays. I still think they need a catching upgrade and could use another bat. But the pitching is good, Joe Maddon always gets the most out of his roster and they catch the ball. It's amazing how they're able to maintain such continuity there until Andrew Friedman and company. Great organization.
Don't feel bad Jerry, I talked my brother into going to play handball instead of going to the game that Jim Abbot pitched his no hitter in 93.
Jerry Crasnick (1:32 PM)
Tarek, I feel your pain. Thanks for the memory.
Does Mark Reynolds have the worst eye in all of baseball? He has 22 K's and 6 Hits. Last year he had 118 hits and 196 K's, and those 196 were his career LOW for a full season!! Why would a team like Baltimore keep him around? I know he has big power, but at what cost? He is exact type of player that Baltimore needs to move on from. Put a young guy there and let him take his lumps. putting a veteran at the hot corner that can't hit is not the answer.
Jerry Crasnick (1:33 PM)
Chris, I just checked, and Chris Davis has 15 strikeouts and 2 walks at first base (even though his batting average is decent). So the Orioles aren't faring very well at either corner spot. Unfortunately for you, they just traded Josh Bell, their former "third baseman of the future," to Arizona. I don't think Mark Reynolds is going anywhere anytime soon.
Fred (Austin, TX)
Is Dodgers' start all that surprising? I have been a Dodger fan for more than 50 years and while the start is welcome, they have played one game against a team with a .500 record, so this shouldn't be too surprising. This coming week and next month will tell us more about this team.
Jerry Crasnick (1:35 PM)
Fred, Yep. When Cleveland played so well at the start of last season, a lot of people pointed to the easy schedule as a significant factor. And sure enough, the Tribe faded when the schedule got tougher. I don't think the Dodgers are this good, but they have a solid rotation from top to bottom and the NL West isn't the strongest division, so they should remain in the mix for a postseason berth.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
When was the Last time that you have seen a Major League Baseball Team play as bad as the Red Sox on Saturday which was Being ahead by 9 runs & lose the game by 6 or more runs?
Jerry Crasnick (1:37 PM)
Chris, As far as single-game collapses go, that ranks right up there. But I'm sure Pirates fans would trade two decades worth of excruciating pain for that single-game collapse any day.
Fred (Austin, TX)
Bad rule? Personally, I hate the DH, but having it one way for AL and the other for NL is just a joke! Needs to be one way or the other, and I don't care much about which way.
Jerry Crasnick (1:38 PM)
Fred, Like you, I'm not a fan of the DH. I like the strategy of the NL game, but I always felt like most fans don't share that opinion. There aren't many double-switch junkies out there nowadays.
With Hudson coming back next week and Jurrjens looking bad, shouldn't the Braves keep Delgado in the rotation instead of Jurrjens?
Jerry Crasnick (1:40 PM)
Chris, Based on the way Jair Jurrjens has been pitching, you really have to wonder if he's healthy. So the Braves might have that decision made for them. Funny how it seems to work out that way a lot of times.
Any chance the Phils, at their current pace, start taking bids on Hamels? I don't think he re-signs with them.
Jerry Crasnick (1:42 PM)
Logan, The Phillies would really have to be buried to start entertaining offers on Cole Hamels. I'm like you -- not very optimistic that he'll re-sign with Philadelphia. But this question isn't even worth contemplating until July. The Phillies sell too many tickets and are in too much of a "win now" mode to start bailing on the season before Ryan Howard and Chase Utley come back.
Rangers come off an impressive road trip, and that offense is unfair to the rest of baseball. But lets talk about that starting pitching. Who do you think is the ranger's best starter?
Jerry Crasnick (1:44 PM)
Jerry, To me, Derek Holland has the most upside because of his velocity, his youth and his left-handedness. When I did a story on the Rangers in spring training, Mike Maddux and other people around the team felt that Holland and Yu Darvish had the best chance to step forward and be true No. 1s at some point in their careers.
Stephen (Twin Cities)
What's up with the Brewers offense (or lack thereof)? Weeks, Ramirez, Braun, Morgan, Hart, the list of guys just not hitting like normal is very long. Time to start getting nervous yet?
Jerry Crasnick (1:47 PM)
Stephen, When you spend all those years getting accustomed to having Prince Fielder in the middle of the order, I'm sure there's an adjustment period. Throw in all the Braun-related problems in spring training, and they've had even more on their plate. It's not a top 3 or 4 offense anymore, but I still think the Brewers have enough to contend in that division if the starting pitching performs to expectations.
heinie manush (nyc)
Hey Jerry, Any ETA idea on Bauer? Thanks!
Jerry Crasnick (1:49 PM)
Heinie, Trevor Bauer is 4-0 with a 0.40 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 22 innings for Double-A Mobile. Those are the kind of numbers that scream "call me up soon."
Jerry, I know it's a small sample size, but Derek Jeter has not only been getting hits but doing it with power. He obviously can't turn the clock back 10 years, but how is he doing it? his walk rate is also very low? Is he swinging at early-count strikes he used to take?
Jerry Crasnick (1:53 PM)
Phil, Jeter is averaging 3.61 pitches per plate appearance, which is low even by his career standards. He has a .367 BABIP, so he seems to be finding some holes. I think it's a combination of being healthy, aggressive, and not having the burden of chasing 3,000 hits on his agenda anymore. A very nice start for Mr. November.
The Cubs are awful but Castro is amazing. If he adds 25-30 HR power is he the best SS in the league?
Jerry Crasnick (1:56 PM)
Paul, When ESPN had a draft last year asking us, "Which player would you take to start a franchise," I picked Starlin Castro in the No. 19 spot. I know he's had some off-field issues and his attention wanders at times in the field. But a 22-year-old middle infield hit machine is really a player you can build around. I think 25-30 homers are a reach, though. Fifteen to 20 homers might be his ceiling.
Is Matt Cain ready to enter the top tier of MLB starters? (Perhaps replacing his teammate Lincecum)
Jerry Crasnick (1:58 PM)
Jose, You can certainly make a case for it based on his performance so far this year. That Cain-Cliff Lee game was the most entertaining pitching matchup I've seen since Greg Maddux was around. Cain is just so durable. The reliability alone places him among the top 12-15 starters in ball. Now he might be ready to crack the top 8-10.
I know its not a no-hitter, but I went to the game before Clemens struck out 21 Mariners. In retrospect, I should have checked out the pitching match ups.
Jerry Crasnick (2:01 PM)
Frank, It was actually 20 Mariners. And don't feel bad. The late Boston Glove writer Larry Whiteside, known as "Sides," left Fenway Park early to watch a Celtics playoff game at Boston Garden. No one can predict when things like that will happen.
Are you impressed that the Nationals were able to win 2 games against the Marlins who have owned them every year. Having a great start to the year is a must because then if they go .500 the rest of the season they are still going to be in the wildcard hunt.
Jerry Crasnick (2:02 PM)
Joey, As Tim Kurkjian wrote in his piece Saturday, the Nats have a rotation that can rival anybody's stuff-wise. And they've dealt with some early injury adversity as well. I think that team will be better a year or two from now, but they're a legit postseason contender in 2012.
Jerry Crasnick (2:02 PM)
Thanks for the emails, everybody. Let's do it again next week.