Chat with Jayson Stark
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com senior MLB writer Jayson Stark will drop in to chat some baseball.
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 (1:08 PM)
Sorry I'm late! Technical difficulties. So let's get started.
Jayson,To make the obligatory Strasburg reference, it's not just about the surgery. Strasburg only pitched a total of 44 innings last year, so 160-170 innings also represents a 300% increase over last year. Also, Atlanta has a similar innings limit on Kris Medlen, planning to shut him down while they're contending for a playoff berth, yet they get a free pass. ?
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
The Braves don't get a "free pass." They've chosen to handle their guy differently, so he'll be able to pitch in the postseason. The biggest reason Strasburg has become such a huge issue is because the Nationals haven't adjusted their preseason plan one iota, which means shutting down their best starter before the most important games of their season. That's what this is about. There's very little argument with a team trying to protect the health of a player like this. That part is admirable and even courageous. The question, I think, is why they haven't managed his innings differently so he'd be available for the Octoberfest.
Brandon [via mobile]
Hey Jayson, Do you think the Dodgers have another move in them before the waiver deadline? Who do you think would be a good starter to pick up, Jon Lester?
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
They're definitely looking. But if they make a deal, it will be for a guy at a lot lower level than Lester. No chance the Red Sox are trading him. Too much focus these days on who's on waivers, who clears waivers, etc. There's almost never any significance to most of it. Everybody goes on waivers in August!
I'm tired of hearing the Orioles can't win because of run differential. They play a ton of close games and get blown out every 10th day, doesn't that explain it, a bad back end of the rotation?
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
I don't think it's so much the run differential that causes the skepticism about how good they are. It's having the best record in one-run games of modern times, winning every extra-inning game they play, etc. At a certain point, you are what your record says you are. And 130 games into a season would seem to be that point. So I do think what this team has done has been vastly underestimated - rebuilding rotation on the fly, massively upgrading the bullpen, improving their defense and playing with tremendous attention to detail. But the one-run record is not a predictor of what the one-run record will be the rest of the way. Very tough to keep winning the kind of games they've won.
David (Los Gatos, California)
Jayson, Do you think that MLB should allow Melky to win the Batting Title? Or is it time to stop the performance enhanced drug record book madness?
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
First off, that wouldn't stop the use of PEDs. You're kidding yourself if you think it would. Banning players for life would stop it. But I don't see that happening, either. You raise an interesting issue, and one I think the sport needs to talk about. But what's interesting is that everybody focuses on the batting title, which doesn't even have a trophy attached for the winner, while nobody talks about the issue Kirk Gibson raised: How about all the games the Giants won with him in the lineup, and in quite a few cases directly because they had Melky in the lineup. That's a philosophical discussion for another day. But it's also one worth having.
What was your opinion of Harper's ejection the other night? I know you're not supposed to throw your helmet, but that seemed like an awfully quick trigger from an umpire who is known for being very confrontational.
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
Ridiculous. My No. 1 pet peeve with umpires is not taking into account the emotions that are such a big part of these games. But now that that's out of the way, Harper does need to learn how to tone it down, on a lot of levels. I always use this expression to describe baseball, but it's true: You need more than one gear on the transmission. And he hasn't learned that yet.
Jayson, why dont people realize that the money in contracts that the dodgers took in is meaningless, because if they make the world series, it will increase the value of the TV deal by anywhere from $500M-$2B over 20 years, isnt that a good investment to spend $260M to potentially return $2B plus the extra tickets sales, and if they make the WS that is another extra $100M in revenue each time...
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
I wouldn't say it's meaningless, but your point is dead on. I'm willing to bet that they've increased the value of their new TV deal so much since the franchise was sold, it will pay for everything -- the Red Sox deal, the trade-deadline deals, Ethier, Puig and more. They didn't just make baseball decisions when they made those moves. They made very shrewd business decisions.
How many games would you bench Rollins for given this is his second offense in the last month?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
I'd let him sit all weekend. Not that anyone there would confer with me on this. But they need to get Jimmy's attention. They love the guy on a lot of levels. But they need more energy and more leadership from him. That's what they're paying him $11 million for. It isn't just to play shortstop. And they've told him that.
I believe it was Bill James who postulated that young players who experience break-out seasons earlier than expected often do not improve as they enter their "prime". Some recent examples may be 2011 Justin Upton and 2008 Nick Markakis. 1972 Cesar Cedeno is a classic example.Do you think 20 year old Mike Trout is having his career year? He could reasonably approach a 10 WAR and be considered for greatest season of all time. Is this the pinnacle?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
I don't know that I'm ready to put any kind of ceiling on Mike Trout. But he's having one of the greatest seasons of modern times at 20/21. Is it remotely reasonable to expect that he can do this every year? Of course not. But we thought that about Albert Pujols, too. So who's to say what this guy can't do? But I will say this: If he does this for another 15 years, he'll go down as one of the 10 greatest players who ever lived.
What would be one reason the Reds could regress?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I see two reasons: 1) A rotation in which NOBODY has missed a start hits the wall down the stretch. And 2) they don't have enough quality at-bats in big games to grind out wins against good pitching. But now that we've got that out of the way, I love that team. Wouldn't shock me at all if they get to the World Series.
I think with what Harper and Trout are doing at such a young age and in the outfield is comparable to what Griffey Jr. did. Of course, Griffey lined himself up early as one of the greatest of all time, with Mays comparison and then injuries took their toll. Isn't that why Harper should tone it down?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
Excellent analogy. Griffey played with too much reckless abandon and broke down. I hear this all the time from people around baseball when they talk about Harper: He has to play under more control, or he's going to get hurt. I agree. Sounds like you do, too, Jack.
Jayson - given how much the Red Sox got in return, should the Phillies have more deeply explored the potential to trade Cliff Lee to the Dodgers or did they do the right thing in pulling back in negotiation?
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
I think they should absolutely have taken that option more seriously. They probably would have gotten some of the same young players back from L.A. that the Red Sox got -- especially at least one of those pitchers. And they would have cleared so much money, it would have changed everything about the way they could have approached this offseason. But they remain committed to winning with this group if that's even remotely possible. So as I've said many times, as they look at their team, the ONLY area of strength they have to build around is their aces. And that's why Cliff Lee is still there -- and why I believe he'll still be there next season, too.
Wouldn't Trout go down as THE greatest player that ever lived if he did this for another 15 years?
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
I guess you could make that case, although Babe Ruth might beg to differ!
Do you think Joey Votto will have enough time to finish healing and get back to all-star form before Octoboer?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
I think he has plenty of time to get back into the groove before October. But I think they might be pushing it to activate him this weekend. They're playing great. Frazier and Rolen have been really good. And Votto has only played two games on his rehab option. Why not give him through the weekend? What's the hurry? And what's the harm -- for him or for them?
Trout can't pitch, The Babe could.
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
Excellent point. That rests our case. Your witness.
Phil (SF, Ca)
The Giants have been playing excellent ball post Melky yet all the talk revolves around the Dodgers - do you see the Giants holding them off?
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
I do. I like the Giants' rotation much better than I like the Dodgers' rotation. The Giants' lineup is so much better than it was last year this time, or even in 2010. And they have a much easier schedule. If they can find a righthanded bat and another bullpen arm today, they'll be clear favorites at this point. Heck, they're 4 1/2 games up!
Jason (St Louis)
Jayson, somehow, I don't care how, give me some hope for my Cardinals.
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
Uhhh, how about this: If the season ended today, they'd be in the playoffs. And they're better than the way they've played in the last week. You know it. And they know it. The Furcal injury is a blow, though.
Are the Yankees' in trouble? They've looked bad for over a month now and even with their injuries, a lineup that still has Jeter, Swisher, Cano, and Granderson should be able to win more than they have.
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
I'm having a hard time making the way they've played compute. I know it's tough to play without ARod and Teixeira and Pettitte. I know hitting Steve Pearce cleanup wasn't quite how they envisioned their team. But as you pointed out, they still have much more talent on their team than the Orioles. And despite all the talk about how much they've missed ARod, I ran the offensive numbers this morning and they're indistinguishable before and after ARod's injury. In fact, they've averaged more runs per game with him than without him. Very strange to see them play like this.
So, this is premature, but where does Hamilton fall next year? Looks like the big markets are tied up? Any chance a smaller team takes a chance? Milwaukee? Seattle?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
I'm writing a blog about this for tomorrow. But I agree. Wouldn't be a shock if a surprise team decides to ante up for the guy. You named a couple. How about Toronto? Or Baltimore?
Who's your pick for CY Young? Cueto and Chapman have put up a great argument but I think Cueto has to edge him out? Do you think they need a relief pitching award that's comparable?
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
Wow. Lots of Reds questions today. I'm still in Chapman's corner. But I'm glad you asked about that relief-pitching award -- since I'm the guy who officially proposed it to the BBWAA membership two years ago. I pointed out that we don't vote for relievers -- even great relievers -- for ANYTHING. And the evidence is that Mariano Rivera has never won a single major award. But I was told by the other side: "If you want to vote for a reliever, then vote for a reliever. We don't need another award." So I'm making a point here. I'm championing a dominating reliever. I see the argument for another (Kimbrel). And I really hope one of them wins.
Jeremy (San Francisco)
The A's have the best record and run differential among AL contenders over the last 3 months, while compiling a 21-14 record against teams over .500 during that time frame. Isn't it time to admit they have a real shot at being a playoff team. Perhaps even a division contender being 4.0 GB of Texas w/ 7 games remaining against the Rangers. Sorry??..I was out of line w/ that last part. Or was I?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
At this point, I wouldn't put anything past them. But I just want you to recognize that they're hitting .234 as a team. Not only would that be the lowest team batting average of any playoff team in the division-play era. It would be the lowest average, in a full season, by any AL offense in the entire wild-card era. So it's amazing to see them do what they're doing. One of the great stories of the year.
You cant give a CY young to a RP .. you just cant .. Gagne and Davis didnt deserve it.. they dont throw enough innings to matter.
Jayson Stark (1:47 PM)
We're told in the instructions for the award we are not supposed to discriminate against relievers. We are told to vote for the pitcher who has pitched the best. So what I see when I watch Chapman is a guy who is dominating at a historic level. And so is Kimbrel. I don't see any starting pitcher in the NL doing that.
Who's to say Trout can't pitch? Has he tried? I haven't seen the Angels try him out there yet.
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
Even the Babe would love to see him try it, I'm betting. But would he be the most underrated pitcher of all time? The Babe was my most underrated left-hander of all time in "The Stark Truth." So tough act to duplicate.
Re the NL Cy Young, why do love for Dickey? He's having an amazing season for a mediocre team, and his K/BB ratio is unprecedented for a knuckler.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Just because I wouldn't vote for him as of right this minute means he deserves no love. He was my first-half Cy Young pick, and he's been nearly as good in the second half. So he's absolutely in this argument. But we have another 4 1/2 weeks to let this play out. Whatever happens, he's been as fun to watch this year as any pitcher in baseball.
Jayson Stark (1:50 PM)
Hate to do this, but I have to cut out a bit early today for a Sportscenter hit. So I can only take one more. Sorry.
Could you comment on Davey Johnson's role in Nats Club. I dont think Nats could have been this good iwth any other Manager.
Jayson Stark (1:52 PM)
We'll never know what might have been with a different manager. But I do think Davey has been a perfect fit for that team. He's won. He knows how to win. He lets guys be themselves. His theories on hitting have had an underrated impact on quite a few of those guys. He and Steve McCatty have tremendous rapport and a great feel for pitching. He can really run a bullpen. Way, way up there on my manager-of-the-year list. And what a tremendous story for one of the most underrated managers of all time.
Jayson Stark (1:53 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions. See you down the road in Chat Land.