Rob Neyer (3:04 PM)
Welcome aboard, everybody. And don't worry, I'll send an electrical impulse through your keyboard if your boss is about to look over your shoulder and see that you're not working on the Pensky file.
Kevin (Houston Texas)
With the addition of Andy Pettitte to the Astros who will be the #1? It is clear that Oswalt had the best year of the two and when Oswalt is healthy he can be as good as any pitcher in the league.
Rob Neyer (3:06 PM)
I happen to think Pettitte's the Astros' third-best starter, behind Oswalt and Wade Miller (and he'll be their fourth best if Clemens joins the club). But it really doesn't matter who's designated as the No. 1 guy, because they'll all, if healthy, start 32 games or thereabouts. Bottom line, it's a good rotation but not as good as the Cubs'.
Brian San jose CA
aside from all this arod business what do you make of the semi-questionable moves of Billy Beane (the ramon hernandez trade) and the brilliant ones (acquiring Redman, Rhodes, and hammond)? With their pitching i think the a's have the best pitching in the league even with the rebuilt sox and yanks. Thanks Rob
Rob Neyer (3:09 PM)
I don't know if they have best pitching in the league, because I have real questions about Zito and Redman. Not that I think they're not good, but I'm not convinced they're great. But the A's do have the best rotation in the division, and that's an impressive bullpen, too. I don't think the A's are clear favorites at this moment, but I also don't think Beane is finished remaking his roster.
What do you think of Arthur Rhodes' chances of becoming an ace closer with the A's?
Rob Neyer (3:11 PM)
The A's aren't going to have anybody as good as Keith Foulke was last year. But Rhodes was fine last season before he sprained his ankle in early May, and I think he'll be fine in 2004. If the A's have a problem, it won't be their bullpen. It'll be their non-Chavez infield.
Bob (Rockville, MD)
I see Millwood decided to stay with the Phils. Do you think this makes them the clear favorite in the NL East?
Rob Neyer (3:14 PM)
At this moment, yes. But let's wait and see who's in right field for the Braves before we put any money on the Phils.
John, Brooklyn, NY
Hi Rob, What do you think of Mr. Olney's contention that the Yankees face a "serious deficit" in terms of pitching against the Red Sox?
Rob Neyer (3:17 PM)
I haven't read that piece yet, so I certainly can't specifically respond to what Buster wrote. That said, the Yankees' No. 3 and No. 4 starters are better than the Red Sox', and they're not shabby at Nos. 1 and 2, either. I would rate the staffs as roughly even, with the Yankees maybe having a slight edge.
Rob...I heard on ESPN Radio 1000 that Greg Maddux will choose in the next few days/weeks between the Cubs and Cards...Any truth to that? And if the Cubs get him do they become the best team in baseball?
Rob Neyer (3:19 PM)
Haven't heard anything, so you know more than I do. As for the Cubs being the best team in baseball, anything's possible but that's a bit of a stretch, don't you think? Maddux remains a very good pitcher, but he's no longer great.
Hey Rob, How can the union say it looks after the player best interests? When A-Rod wanted this deal done? That's not his best interest when he's willing to take a paycut! Please Explain!
Rob Neyer (3:23 PM)
As Doug Pappas explained in a great column today over at Baseball Prospectus, the union's job isn't to protect Alex Rodriguez; it's to protect the entire membership. And that's what they've done here. I might write about this more next week, in a conversation with Jim Caple, but in my mind it comes down to this . . . Tom Hicks got himself into this mess. Why should a player or the union help him get out of it?
Mr. Robert, when will the Orioles ever contend again, and do you envision a Vladdy for Christmas?
Rob Neyer (3:26 PM)
I see a small window in 2005 or '06 that the O's might crawl through. Basically, it presumes that a number of Yankees get old but are too expensive to release. (Hey, it could happen.)
What are the Royals going to do in left field?
Rob Neyer (3:27 PM)
At this moment, the left fielder is David DeJesus, though the Royals would like to sign Juan Gonzalez or Raul Mondesi if the price is right (I wish they'd grabbed Jose Cruz, who was in their price range).
Big Bill (NJ)
Stark says deal is off. Gammons says deal is on. Which is it?
Rob Neyer (3:29 PM)
Can't they both be right? It off now, but on later. A little bit like my plans for training to run a marathon.
Chris (Boston, MA)
Rob, You're the best in the biz, keep up the great work. I heard you mention last night on the radio that Pokey Reese is a "great" 2b - you're not serious, right? Also, 278/336/472 is worth 12M in this market?
Rob Neyer (3:34 PM)
By "great," I meant that he's great with the glove. Which he is. As for 278/336/472 (Miguel Tejada), yes, I think he is worth $12 million in this market. You're talking about a player who's every bit as good as Nomar Garciaparra.
Dave (Livermore, CA)
How can you honestly say that having all the superstars on two or three teams is good for the American League? Sure, having very few super stars in the AL West means any team can win the division, but it also means the Yanks and Sox are nearly guaranteed to win in the post-season.
Rob Neyer (3:36 PM)
Really? Did you watch the World Series last October? Or the October before that, or before that? Yes, the best team has the best chance of winning. But to suggest that the Yankees or Red Sox will monopolize the World Series is pretty silly.
Michael (Seattle, WA)
Why oh why do you spend 11 million per year on a light hitting (albeit fast) OF like Ichiro when for 3 or 4 more million per year you can get a younger power hitting OF like Vlad Gurerro. Do moves like this ensure that the M's are much more likley to fall to last place in the competitive AL West than to rise to first place?
Rob Neyer (3:41 PM)
Ichiro's a damn good player, though it doesn't look as if he'll ever be the player that he was in 2001 (when he really did deserve his MVP AWard). If it were me, I'd have spent that $11 million somewhere else, but then I don't know how much extra money he brings in every season. The real problem isn't the $11 million they're spending on Ichiro, it's the money they're spending on Raul Ibanez (not to mention Jeff Cirillo, but that's not Bill Bavasi's fault).
I've read your Pettitte column, and while I understand the numbers, I don't believe the Yankees' reluctance to get a deal done was based on numbers, but rather Steinbrenner's personal dislike of Pettitte and/or his desire to humiliate Torre. I'd appreciate your insight, and if you agree with me, what is the real source of Steinbrenner's anger??
Rob Neyer (3:43 PM)
I don't really understand this sentiment. My understanding is that the Yankees offered Pettitte much more money than anybody else would have. If you're saying that Steinbrenner should have vastly overpaid and got down on his hands and knees and begged . . . well, that's your prerogative. But I think the Yankees handled Pettitte perfectly. They made an offer that was more than fair, and then they wished him the best of luck.
Eric (Ravenna, NE)
Will the Cubs still pursue a catcher like Pudge or Javy, after signing Barrett?
Rob Neyer (3:46 PM)
Barrett, if he's healthy, will be good enough to play for a lot of teams. I don't see the Cubs running him out there for 120 games, though, so you'd think they're still looking.
GA (Fall River, MA)
Do you think Dan Evans just lost his job this offseason as soon as Dodger ownership changes hands?
Rob Neyer (3:50 PM)
It's not at all a sure thing, the change of ownership. Apparently the prospective buyer is planning to use mostly other people's money, which doesn't go over so well. Even if the team does change hands, Evans might be able to build a relationship with the new owner. All this is a problem for the Dodgers, though, because it's hard to get things done when the future is so cloudy.
I grew up watching a lot of Tigers games. Is a salary cap the only way they can compete again?
Rob Neyer (3:52 PM)
Honestly? After watching the A's and the Angels and the Twins and Marlins the last couple of seasons, isn't the notion of a salary cap pretty ridiculous? Yes, rich teams tend to win and poor teams tend to lose. But it's just as true that smart teams tend to win and dumb teams tend to lose. If the Tigers start doing everything right and they're still losing 100 games, then we can talk about a salary cap (Don Fehr won't listen, though).
Dan (San Francisco, CA)
what do you think of the proposed changes to postseason play, inc. the idea of having two wild card teams play a single game with the winner moving on? for some reason, this idea bothers me more than i can express, but jayson stark is a big proponent of it.
Rob Neyer (3:55 PM)
I'm constitutionally opposed to adding more playoff teams. That said, if you're going to do it, this is obviously the best way. Two reasons: 1) you don't have to shorten the regular season or play postseason games in November, and 2) there's a real reward for winning your division. So add my name to Jayson's on the petition.
James Ann Arbor
The Braves have Drew in right field guy. Just to clear that up.
Rob Neyer (3:59 PM)
Oh, I knew that. I meant . . . err . . . first base! Robert Fick's not good, and they could really use somebody else there. Also holes at third base and catcher, and we don't know how many games Drew will play. Essentially, the Braves are going to score many fewer runs in 2004 than they did in 2003.
Rob Neyer (4:01 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Not quite as many as last time, but 1500-plus is still a lot for the dead of winter. I'll see you in 2004.