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 noon ET!
Jerry Crasnick (12:01 PM)
Hey folks, Hopefully we won't be dodging any flying bats during this week's chat. Let's get started.
Hey Jerry, when is the New York Mets front office going to start feeling some heat for this team? It has been 4 years into Sandy Alderson's rebuild, and it seems like it is the same players and same poor result every year
Jerry Crasnick (12:03 PM)
Dan, I think Sandy Alderson is a brilliant guy, and it's tough to kill him for a lot of the things that happened there. They've had major payroll limitations. However, when he does have the money and goes out and signs guys like Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, who haven't played to expectations, it's fodder for the critics. I still think the Wilpons and the ownership situation there is a far bigger issue.
Buck Showalter has always impressed me as a straight up, no-nonsense "protector" of the game which surprised me when I read his comments defending Manny Machado's indefensible behavior. I understand the skipper sticking up for his players however...Machado was also fortunate he didn't get ejected in game two when Angel Hernandez rung him up on strike three and he flipped his bat and threw down his helmet.
Jerry Crasnick (12:04 PM)
Harry, Yeah, Buck seemed to be squirming a little bit there. He's in a tough spot -- trying to stand up for old-time baseball values and not lose his young star third baseman. I don't envy managers in tight spots like that.
Jean Claude (Vermont)
Do you see Alex Wood moving into the rotation if Harang continues to decline?
Jerry Crasnick (12:05 PM)
Hey Jean Claude, This might be a fantasy question, but I don't see any major signs of a "decline" by Harang. He has quality starts in 6 of his last 7 outings, and a K-to-BB ratio of 77 to 29. He's given the Braves as much or more than they had a right to expect, so I don't see him going anywhere soon. If he gets shelled three or four times, that's a decline.
Displaced Mariners fan here - am I crazy, or does it look like the Ms have a strong shot at a wildcard spot?
Jerry Crasnick (12:07 PM)
Ben, This is one of those years when somebody is going to sneak in that we didn't expect. But as much as I'd like to buy into the Mariners, I just don't think Robinson Cano will get enough help from the rest of that lineup. Other than Kyle Seager, who can they count on? It's been a very promising first 60 games, but they need Logan Morrison and Corey Hart to come back and help pick up the slack. Maybe then I'll be more willing to buy in.
David Gustafson (Minneapolis)
Just speculating, but when Bud Selig retires and the Wilpons lose their protector, does the new commissioner and MLB finally start doing something about one of their largest markets being a totally non-competitive team?
Jerry Crasnick (12:08 PM)
David, I would hope that's something MLB takes a good, hard look at.
What is your assessment of the Red Sox? Are they a team riddled by injury that can still make some deadline deals and a push for the playoffs or are they exactly what their record shows, a sub par team with plenty of holes?
Jerry Crasnick (12:09 PM)
Shawn, Geez, they're all over the map. I would feel better if I saw more out of guys like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore. I still think they're going to find their equilibrium soon and put together a pretty good run. If they're in the mix in mid-July, I also think Ben Cherington will be aggressive at the deadline. Don't count out the Red Sox yet.
What is your favorite part of your job at ESPN?
Jerry Crasnick (12:10 PM)
Mitch, I complain about little things like everybody else. But there are days when I'm sitting at the park and it's 75 degrees and sunny and I look around and say, "I get paid to do this?"
What do you think Machado's suspension should be? On a similar note, I've never seen a baby play baseball before this weekend
Jerry Crasnick (12:11 PM)
Ryan, I'm thinking something in the 10-game range. Maybe that's steeper than other people think, but you can't just go indiscriminately hurling bats in the infield.
Why are there so many stories this year on "stealing signs?" Why is this considered cheating? Doesn't it just mean that the other team should get better signs? After all, the point of signing is that you can communicate in plain sight without the opponent knowing.
Jerry Crasnick (12:13 PM)
James, I'm completely with you on this one. If you think a team is stealing signs, do a better job of concealing your signs. It's the same thing when a pitcher is "tipping pitches." If another team can spot that, they should take whatever advantage they can. The difference, of course, comes if a team has a coach in the bullpen with binoculars or someone inside the scoreboard stealing signs. That most definitely is not kosher.
Jerry,your thoughts on how LaStella is doing for braves so far?
Jerry Crasnick (12:15 PM)
David, I haven't seen La Stella play yet, but from everything I hear, the kid has a very good "hit tool" and knows how to put together a good at-bat. Just from a small sample size, that's what we've seen so far from him in Atlanta.
Jesse (Los Angeles, CA)
Dodgers = Lack of chemistry or an aging team?
Jerry Crasnick (12:17 PM)
Hey Jesse, A little of both for me. They're built around pitching, and they have a lot of spots in the field where the defense is slow and/or immobile. And I think they have more than their share of egos and guys with personal agendas. It's a tough spot for Don Mattingly. I still think they have a chance to go on an extended roll because of that rotation.
As an Orioles fan I am utterly embarassed by Machado this weekend. Usually in an altercation you can argue both sides of it, but not this one. He was 100% in the wrong TWICE. Do you think this will follow him around for a while, much like Robbie Alomar always had the spitting incident follow him?
Jerry Crasnick (12:18 PM)
Billy, No, the Alomar incident carried a certain stigma that was hard for Robby to overcome. I think Machada can get past this. But if that bat had actually hit someone and caused an injury, he would have carried this around for a long, long time. He was fortunate in that respect.
Everyone is crushing Machado right now for throwing his bat. Fair enough. But why is Abad getting so little criticism for throwing at Machado's surgically repaired knee TWICE in a row, starting the whole thing? Also, the idea that Machado was intentionally hitting Norris in the head is silly considering Norris is known for sitting close to plate and often gets clipped by back swings. He missed time earlier this year with a concussion for the same thing.
Jerry Crasnick (12:21 PM)
DC, Abad certainly isn't blameless, and I'm willing to cut Machado some slack for the backswings. What I don't get is his complete overreaction on that Josh Donaldson tag. That was basically a love tap, and he made it into a much bigger deal than it had to be. If he's that hypersensitive to a tag, other teams are going to see that and it's only going to get worse.
Jerry, what do you think the Nationals do once Harper returns? I know it's over a month away and anything can happen, but putting Harper in center would be a big hit to their outfield defense, and Span has been solid enough at the plate recently.
Jerry Crasnick (12:23 PM)
Hey Jay, This is obviously going to become a bigger issue when Harper gets closer to a return, but I hate to speculate because so much can change in a few weeks. Last week I was asked what the Orioles are going to do with their rotation when Johan Santana arrived. Then Johan blew out his Achilles. So we'll see what happens as the time gets closer.
Has Joe Nathan lost it at age 39?
Jerry Crasnick (12:24 PM)
Hey Shawn, He's savvy enough to make adjustments, but I checked this morning, and his velocity has fallen from 94 to 91.6 over the last two years, and his swing and miss rate of 8 percent is the lowest of his career. Not good signs. On a more hopeful note, his BABIP was .224 last year and now it's .313. So maybe he's better if a few more balls get caught.
Tyler Smith (Atlanta, Ga)
What, if anything, can the Braves do to fix their offense? They are next to last in runs scored and, even more worrisome, they seem to have forgotten the basic fundamentals of the game. Is it time for a coaching change?
Jerry Crasnick (12:26 PM)
Tyler, They've had Terry Pendleton, Larry Parrish and now Greg Walker there, so I honestly don't think it's the coaching. They just have a lot of swing and miss guys in that lineup, and this year they're not drawing as many walks, either. I know Atlanta fans hate to hear this, but I don't have much faith in that team to hit good pitching when it counts.
Are the Giants this good, really hot and will back to earth or somewhere in between?
Jerry Crasnick (12:28 PM)
Frank, I don't think they're 110-caliber-win good, but they've obviously tapped into something. And it's entirely possible we'll see Sandoval and Posey go on extended tears at some point in the next couple of months. Bruce Bochy is probably the best manager in the game right now, and that team is driven to put 2013 behind it.
What can phillies realistically get for Rollins, Utley, Papelbon, Byrd, Burnett, and Lee? Will any of them bring back reasonable building-block return?
Jerry Crasnick (12:30 PM)
Scott, Cliff Lee is certainly good enough to fetch a sizeable return, but he has an elbow issue now and he does make a lot of money. I think the Phillies are intent on Chase Utley retiring in Philadelphia. I also think Rollins has some value to a contending team, but his 10-and-5 service time rights muddle the picture considerably. In a nutshell, I doubt Ruben Amaro can pull off the kind of mass selloff in July that this team probably requires.
The Phillies sport the worst record in the NL, have a huge payroll, a poor farm system, have had gaffes with ratting out college draft picks and reportedly accidentally giving away Domingo Santana. Tell me there'll be some changes come seasons end, specifically the GM the Sporting News ranked as the worst in baseball. It's time, right?
Jerry Crasnick (12:32 PM)
Lee, You probably did a better job articulating this than I did in my previous response. I live just outside Philly and there's a lot of pressure on them to dump Ruben Amaro. But Dave Montgomery is a loyal guy, and they're slow to move in situations like this, so it's going to take a complete meltdown in the second half to move that scenario along.
Rick (Hamilton, Virginia)
Jerry, Phile Coke looked pretty good last night. An aberration, or could he still contribute?
Jerry Crasnick (12:33 PM)
Rick, I think Phil Coke can contribute. But he'll need to be effective for an extended stretch for the Tigers to have any faith on him in big situations (say, the postseason).
Rich (Hailey, ID)
Morning Jerry.....The Cardinals finally showed some life in the weekend series against Toronto-and they did it with Yadier Molina effectively getting two days off. Pretty unusual for a gold glove catcher, but I was glad to see it happen. My question is about team motivation: did sitting him spark the team, or was it just time for the offense to wake up-and for Tony Cruz to prove that Yadi need not play every day for the team to be competitive? Thanks....
Jerry Crasnick (12:35 PM)
Rich, Yadi is the best player and most respected guy on that team, so it's not as if Mike Matheny sat him for motivational purposes. I would file that one under "coincidence." Long-term, no one thinks that pitching staff is better with anyone but Yadi behind the dish.
Should the Red Sox go after a big outfield bat like Cargo or Kemp? Or should they sell off some parts to add even more talent to their minor league system? sell peavy?
Jerry Crasnick (12:37 PM)
Mario, For a big market team, the Red Sox have shown a lot of restraint with young players. But I think Ben Cherington and his group have a finite amount of patience. If it's July and they're 6-8 out of a playoff spot, he'll deal. But I wouldn't be a fan of trading for Matt Kemp unless the Dodgers pick up a huge portion of that contract. And I don't think the Rockies are all that interested in dealing CarGo (who is also injured at present).
Any chance the dodgers trade hanley or move him to 3rd and put Gordon at ss and call up gurrero?
Jerry Crasnick (12:39 PM)
Derrick, I did a story on Dee Gordon a couple of weeks ago, and the Dodgers have no plans to move him off second. Alex Guerrero is still recovering from that Miguel Olivo ear bite. He can hit, but his defense needs work, and he'll have to do that in AAA ball. So in short, that scenario isn't happening.
What's the harm in the Cubs bringing up Kris Bryant? He is destroying AA.
Jerry Crasnick (12:41 PM)
Dave, They say he still needs work on defense, and I'm sure they'd like to wait to start his service time clock. But if he keeps hitting like this, it won't be long until he forces the issue.
Eric (Pittsburgh, PA)
Diehard Yankee fan here...on a scale from 1-10 how concerned should I be this year? Sure it's only June 9th, but I'm not feeling too good...
Jerry Crasnick (12:43 PM)
Eric, If you're going to be crushed if they fail to make the playoffs, I'd say about a "7." They've taken too many dings to what was already a fragile starting rotation. And at some point, you wonder when a couple more of their veteran position players are going to land on the DL. I have a hard time getting excited about them.
Joel (Washington, DC)
Jerry, the Pirates' failure to bring up Gregory Polanco is a slap in the face to loyal Pirate fans who came out in record numbers to support their 2013 playoff run. The present ownership would rather save hypothetical dollars five years from now than win games this year. It's pathetic.
Jerry Crasnick (12:45 PM)
Hey Joel, I honestly believe the Pirates think Polanco will benefit from the extra time in the minors and be a more finished product upon arrival. But Neal Huntington and his group face a delicate balance now that expectations have been raised. I hope you feel a little better after venting.
Predictions on where Jeff Samardzjia will get traded?
Jerry Crasnick (12:47 PM)
Bill, I don't have any particular insight into this, but I think he'd look very good in that Toronto rotation. Alex Anthopoulos has shown in the past that he's willing to make bold moves, and the Jays do have some chips with guys like Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman.
Mike (Edina, MN)
Hi Jerry, your thoughts in the Kendrys Morales signing? I like it because if the Twins fall out of the race over the next several weeks he could potentially be flipped for a prospect.
Jerry Crasnick (12:49 PM)
Hey Mike, I was honestly surprised that Morales landed in Minnesota. He does fill a void there. I'm not sure how much the idea of flipping him in mid-July entered Terry Ryan's mind when he acquired Morales in mid-June.
Noah Brown (Wisconsin) [via mobile]
What inspired you to write your book
Jerry Crasnick (12:50 PM)
Noah, I wrote my book, "License to Deal," because I'm fascinated by agent intrigue and I think it's a part of baseball that's widely overlooked. There probably aren't many folks who share that opinion based on my book sales. (That was a joke, people).
How long until the Astros are competitive? What do you think they need most at this point?
Jerry Crasnick (12:52 PM)
Jeff, You could argue that they're already "competitive." They just need to maintain a positive environment for these guys and nurture them along. But you can already sense the better vibe around that team. It began to build after George Springer got his feet on the ground and started hitting.
Ted (Bronx, NY)
It's time to discuss the elephant in the room.... why is Jeter still hitting second in the lineup? He's an automatic double play. I love Jeter and respect him, but Girardi has to realize he's killing the team
Jerry Crasnick (12:54 PM)
Hey Ted, Jeter has 7 extra base hits in 234 plate appearances, and a slugging percentage of .300. So I can't argue with you. I guess Joe Girardi figures it's better to bat him 2nd with that production than drop him to 7th or 8th and deal with the inevitable media furor in New York. Or maybe he still thinks Derek is going to turn it around.
Does Will Middlebrooks have a future in Boston?
Jerry Crasnick (12:56 PM)
James, At this point, you have to be skeptical that he's a long-term answer at third base. How about Brock Holt? He's one of the best reasons to watch that team right now. What a ball rat (and I mean that in a positive way).
As a Browns fan wouldnt it be so Cleveland for Manziel to retire from the NFL to pursue a career in baseball? And its Cleveland Jerry, I think the chances of it happening are actually like 47 percent.
Jerry Crasnick (12:57 PM)
Hey Ian, As a Browns fan, I'm accustomed to expecting the worst, but I don't envision Johnny leaving for baseball.
Jerry, are the Indians for real?
Jerry Crasnick (12:59 PM)
Austin, They look a lot better now that the starting pitching is better and they've straightened out the bullpen. I still think they're one big, right-handed bat short of being a serious threat. But things are so muddled in the AL wild card race, they might hang around a while. Terry Francona is also a great manager.
We're 1/3 of the way in... give us your 6 division winners
Jerry Crasnick (1:00 PM)
Ryan, Well, it's a heck of a lot easier now. But I'll go with Toronto, Detroit, Oakland, Washington, St. Louis and San Francisco. I'm not 100 percent sold on the Jays, but I don't know if the Red Sox have enough of a run in them to win that division.
Which quick superstar decline is more surprising...Jeter or Nathan?
Jerry Crasnick (1:02 PM)
Mitch, To be honest, I'm not at all surprised by what Jeter is doing. I've talked to people who think he knew upon arrival at spring training that he didn't have much left in the tank, and that's why he announced his retirement in February.
Let's say Tulo avoids the big injury and continues to mash all year, but the Rockies finish below .500 and in the lower half of the standings. Could he win the MVP or would the fact that he plays for a losing team in the best hitting ballpark cost him too many writers' votes?
Jerry Crasnick (1:04 PM)
Andy, That always factors into the equation. The Rockies have had a lot of amazing hitting performances, and Larry Walker was their only MVP winner. As far as Tulo, you have to factor in that he's a great defensive shortstop as well, so hitting isn't the be-all and end-all for him. He's also been a terrific player for several years now, which gives him a lot of credibility. So he'll be in the mix even if he doesn't win it.
Todd (Arlington, VA)
You picked the Nats? Here come the Braves fans complaining about no respect.
Jerry Crasnick (1:04 PM)
Todd, No question.
I am curious to hear your thoughts on Nolon Ryan's impact on the Houston Astros since his return. Thank You.
Jerry Crasnick (1:05 PM)
Sal, I don't think Nolan has had much of an impact, to be honest. Jeff Luhnow is running the baseball operation and he has paramount influence. On a side note, I did have a chance to sit down with Nolan and Reid Ryan in spring training in Florida. It was a real privilege.
Ed (Queens Village)
Should Rays consider trading David Price knowing they will miss playoffs?
Jerry Crasnick (1:06 PM)
Ed, I think Andrew Friedman would have moved him last winter if he could have gotten a mother lode of talent for him. I'm sure he'll be even more inclined to move Price now that the Rays have fallen off the map.
do the angels have any chance of the playoffs? hamilton is back and trout seems to be figuring things out, with them that lineup is scary.
Jerry Crasnick (1:07 PM)
Jim, I picked the Angels to win that division in the spring. If they can get enough out of Richards and Skaggs in the rotation, I think they'll hang around.
Jerry Crasnick (1:08 PM)
Thanks for the questions, everybody. Sorry to the folks I didn't get to. Let's do it again next week.