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 (1:00 PM)
Happy Friday, everyone. I only have 45 minutes to chat today, because I'm going to see the great Jose Fernandez pitch tonight in Philly. So let's get started.
Deann C. (Milwaukee)
Do the Brewers have the potential to be as good as they looked in Philly, or do the Phillies have the potential to be as bad as they looked?
Jayson Stark (1:01 PM)
I like that team. They don't walk or work counts, but they swing the bat up and down the lineup. And right now, they lead the league in ERA. My biggest worry is depth. But if they stay reasonably healthy, they look like a fun team, and one that can hang in the race to the end.
Derrick (Garden City)
Hi Jayson, which young pitcher out of Ventura, Pineda, and Skaggs do you like the best?
Jayson Stark (1:02 PM)
Fun question! It's hard not to go with Ventura. His stuff is insane. When you have a question like this with no wrong answer, take the guy who throws 101 miles an hour! That's my policy, anyway. Potentially special talent.
With Puig & now Josh Hamilton hurting themselves sliding headfirst into first, are players ever going to learn how dumb that is?
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
Feels as if we've been talking about how dumb it is to slide into first base headfirst for like 15 years, and guys still do it. So what makes us think it's going to change? It makes no sense on any level. But players do irrational things in the heat of competition.
David V. (West Melbourne,Fla.)
Jayson how long will D.Hale and T.Jordan stay in starting rotations for their respective teams? Hale to the Bullpen/Minors and Jordan stay in rotation until Fister returns? Thanks
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
You're correct on Hale. But not sure yet on Jordan. They love him. So it's possible Roark could come out of the rotation when Fister slots back in. Stay tuned.
Dale J.A. Gribble (Off the grid)
Jayson, I read your article about Miguel Cabrera becoming the best hitter. You pointed out how few hitters accomplished the feats needed after 30 years of age. You also pointed out how similar Aarons and Cabrera's stats are after the season in which they turned 30. I think it would be interesting to see how many hitters have had similar stats at that point in their career and for whatever reason (injuries, old age, etc..) were unable to be continue to be as productive. How amazing are Aaron's and Cabrera's stats at this time in their career? You already showed how amazing and rare it is to have such successful careers after age 30.
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
I'd have to do some research to fully answer that, and there's no time for that during a chat. But outside of Albert Pujols, I can't think of anyone comparable in the last quarter-century or so, and maybe ever. We have lots of data now that shows how players age. And most of them don't age well, particularly in an era with a grueling schedule, no amphetamines and no PEDs. That's just reality. But as Dave Dombrowski said to me after he signed Cabrera, he's not just another player. He's more comparable to guys like Aaron and Mays than he is to your average player because of his ability to hit for power and average. Both Aaron and Mays were incredibly productive through age 39. So if Cabrera is, we'll have a historic career on our hands.
Do you think the Nationals will trade LaRoche and move Zimmerman to 1B by the deadline. If so, would you like that move? Everyone knows Rendon is the future at 3B and Espinosa can fill in at second.
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
They're in a difficult situation on that front, with no easy solution in sight. Your solution makes a lot of sense, and it's almost certainly the way they'll go eventually, by next season at the latest. But in the meantime, Zimmerman has played so little first base, how are they supposed to know if he's ready to step in and do that? Plus, first basemen have to throw, too, you know. For the moment, they have to hope his new throwing motion helps him get through the year. Then they can deal with this down the road. But your scenario certainly isn't off the table.
Funny how the same Yankee fans who were mad about Lester's pine tar last year suddenly don't care about it today. Baseball's a funny game!
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
What are you getting at, RJ? Look, as I've said over and over when this sort of thing comes up, everybody does this. Everybody who takes the mound. They have pine tar or some other substance on their cap or their sleeve or their belt or somewhere, to help them get a grip. The Red Sox reaction last night said it all. Why did they never say a word? Because their guys all do it, too. Obviously. Just, gobbing it on your pitching hand is a little obvious!
I'm calling my shot right now - you're going to see Jose Fernandez throw a no-hitter today. Mark these words and put this on sportscenter tonight
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
He could throw a no-hitter any day he goes out there. And he's facing a team that hit .129 against him last year, with one extra-base hit (by a guy who's no longer on the team). So not the craziest call of the day. That's for sure.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Do the Angels need to part ways with Mike Scioscia if they don't make the playoffs this season?
Jayson Stark (1:15 PM)
It's a little early to conclude they're not going to make the playoffs, isn't it? And how do we know how the season is going to unfold? Are they going to win 94 games and miss the playoffs? Are they going to be ravaged by injuries? How do we know any of this a week and a half into the season? Their problem the last couple of years has been roster construction and health, not managing, in my view. But if this year goes wrong, you never know how Arte Moreno might react.
How would you rank the Mets' young pitching from best to "worst"? Harvey, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Montero?
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
In terms of upside? In that order, actually.
Is it just me or do the amount of arm injuries on pitchers keep increasing every year? Are pitch counts actually counterproductive?
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
Well, the amount of elbow surgeries is definitely increasing. We've had 12 major-league pitchers have Tommy John surgery already this year, with at least two more right over the horizon. But if anyone knew the answer, you'd see them apply it, right? Pitch counts and innings limits do work to a point, because the No. 1 cause of injury is pitching past the point of fatigue. But do we make too much of pitch counts? Absolutely. Not all pitch counts are created equal, but we act as if they are.
How important of a start is tonight for Sabathia? Boston usually hits him well, and if he goes out there and goes 2 innings, 9 runs....
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
2 innings, 9 runs? He hasn't thrown a pitch yet! Look, I think everyone, including CC, admits he isn't the same pitcher and doesn't have the same velocity. He looked in spring training like a guy who understood what he needed to do to pitch with diminished heat. He's had trouble executing that since he left Florida. So every start is important for a guy in the midst of a major transition, the way he is. But luckily for him, the Yankees have much better starting-pitching depth around him than they've had in the past. So there isn't as much responsibility on his shoulders -- for the moment, anyway.
Ryan (St Pete)
In your opinion, what pitcher had or has the "nastiest" stuff? I remember when AJ Burnett first came up, his "stuff" was unreal.
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
I'd vote Jose Fernandez. Three unhittable pitches. But if Matt Harvey were healthy, I'd vote for him. He has four unhittable pitches when he has them all working. Ridiculous.
How do you think the Sox's OF situation plays out once Victorino returns? Send Nava to Pawtucket since he has options and go Bradley, Vic, Sizemore with Gomes platooning for Grady vs LHP and Carp as insurance?
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
Doesn't sound that way. They've talked about Bradley in center, Sizemore in left and Victorino in right. But I don't see that as a permanent lineup. Gomes has to play. They need Nava's on-base skills and versatility. So I wonder about Carp, but I know they want to find a way to keep him on the roster. Might depend on health -- and on whether Bradley can keep swinging the bat.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Best & the Worst Major League Baseball Stadium that you have been to?
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
That I've ever been to or right now? I'll just go with now. Best: AT&T Park (new wave) and Fenway (old wave). Worst: Oakland. But the list of bad ballparks now is incredibly short.
B Mand (Sarasota, FL)
I know it's too early to draw real conclusions, but to me the Red Sox look like a team that didn't take spring training seriously and are working out the kinks in real games. Your thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
Boy, I don't agree with that at all. Any team with Dustin Pedroia on it has no choice but to take spring training seriously. He's game on from the first drill of spring training until the plane takes off. So whatever kinks or issues they may have, they're certainly not a result of not taking spring training seriously.
mike (white plains)
Hi Jason, thanks for keeping us informed all year! Gotta get into the deep questions! Is there a web site that gives us information on what hitters like what kind of pitches? For instance, maybe a guy can't hit a slider and he is facing a guy with a devastating slider today, I ought to sit him today. Gotta get deeper than righty/lefty matchups! Is there anything like that out there?
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
FanGraphs can help you with some of that. Gives you an idea of pitch type and plate discipline, at least. But mostly, what you're looking for isn't publicly available. Sorry!
Just wanted to say that your weekly trivia on M&M is one of the highlights in the office every week.
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
Thanks! It's one of the highlights of my week, too.
Bill (New Jersey)
So far, Tanaka and Abreu. Good as advertised?
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
Absolutely. Tanaka got swings and misses with five different pitches the other night. And his slider and split have been untouchable. And Abreu looks as if he has a chance to have an incredible year. Great feel for hitting and one strong human!
They're obviously going to never go to a 7 inning game, but do you see baseball making any drastic changes in the next 5-10 years to "change with the times" so to speak? A pitch clock, getting rid of mound visits, etc
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Depends how you define "drastic." As I said on Mike and Mike yesterday, I'm in favor or a pitch clock with no one on base. There's an actual rule that says pitchers are supposed to throw a pitch within 12 seconds if no runners are on. Is that ever enforced? I know one thing. That seven-inning idea isn't happening.
People always say the Phillies will be bad because of their age. So far, age is the least of their problems. They just find ways to blow games each night. They are just inconsistent in every aspect of the game. One night, the can hit but can't pitch. The next night, vice versa. Your thoughts?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
Their age is a big long-haul issue. It doesn't explain the way they've played so far. They've played four messy games in a row now. And their bullpen hasn't held leads or kept them close. They look like the biggest issues at the moment. But keeping their key players on the field, at their age, is still lurking as a major challenge. So don't diminish it based on nine games.
Batman (Gotham) [via mobile]
How did the pitchers in the early 1900s pitch so much more than the guys nowadays and not get hurt? We're they just not as powerful?
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
Get this question all the time. Was anyone throwing 103 miles an hour in the early 1900s? Were they throwing max effort every pitch? Were they throwing hard sliders and cutters besides their fastballs? Was travel anywhere near as demanding? I wasn't around to see it, either. But I doubt it. And throwing max effort, as hard as modern pitchers throw a baseball, is a major reason for all these injuries.
jake (state farm)
Jason, do you think Pablo Sandoval will get the extension he is looking for? Or will he hit the open market?
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
It's clear the extension talks aren't going well. The Giants are wary of a long deal with the Panda, given his never-ending weight and conditioning issues. And how can you blame them? They tend to keep all their core players. But I'm starting to wonder about him.
Jake from State Farm is at work at 3 AM but participating in a Stark chat at 1:30 PM.... that guy is hardcore!
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
Must have had a lot on his mind when he rolled out of bed - 10 minutes ago.
The game has evolved to a point, with plate discipline stressed so much, where it is going to take longer to play, regardless of the changes. The biggest culprit in longer games, though, is the commercials between innings on the television broadcasts. With every game televised, it's a necessary evil so everyone can get paid.
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
You're correct on both fronts. You have 45 minutes of commercial time built into every game, so it's almost impossible to play games in two hours anymore. But plate discipline plays into it, too. It's great baseball strategy. But it sure is lousy entertainment strategy, because there are too many long stretches where nothing much happens. And that's never good.
Any chance Ichiro gets enough at-bats to get to 3,000 MLB hits in the next 2-3 seasons (he is 252 hits shy)?
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
Starting to doubt it heavily. He's obviously not going to get many ABs in New York this year. And I'm not sure where he fits or where he'd be cool with playing. I'd love to see it. It would amazing for a guy to get 3,000 hits here after having an incredible career in Japan before he ever arrived.
Do you think the Orioles will let Hardy walk after this season knowing that the Yankees would probably over pay for his services?
Jayson Stark (1:41 PM)
They really want to keep him. But the fact that it never happened this spring makes it clear he's almost certainly going to test the market. And that means listening to what the Yankees have to offer. Why would any shortstop with a year to go not at least play it out and see how much money the Yankees want to throw around?
There's more action in 3 hours of a baseball game than there is in 3 hours of a football game. Football has about 9 minutes of actual action and 2 hours 51 minutes of people standing around
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
How come football fans never noticed that?
Ben Revere: Incredibly fast but takes such horrible routes to balls. Can this be improved? How? Is it as simple as repetition?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
They've worked with him a lot on his jumps. They think he can get better with better concentration and anticipation. But he hasn't been able to implement either with any consistency yet.
Statistically speaking - if you're healthy - there has there ever been a better time to be a pitcher in the history of baseball. Nobody expects 9 innings out of you. Every team utilizes complex shifts. Pitch framing is now more common than ever. 2013 set a record for lowest home runs and most strikeouts. So why don't teams move their damn fences in 15 feet!? Even if it doesn't reduce game time, it at least makes the game more interesting.
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
I agree with the premise. It's never been harder to hit than it is right now, because of all the information out there and all the reasons you suggest. But moving in the fences 15 feet? That would mean putting the Pesky pole on the infield dirt in Fenway!
Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
Sorry to announce this, but I only have time for one more.
Springer, up before June 1st? Ready enough to excite Stros fans and make a run at The ROY award??
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
Before June 1? I doubt it. As soon as the Super Two date passes? About 30 seconds later. He's ready. Nobody disputes that. It's just business now.
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
Thanks for all the fun questions! I need to run. See you down the road in Chat Land.