Rob Neyer (10:01 PM)
Hey everybody, welcome to my first-ever Tuesday-night chat. This might also be the last; we'll see how it goes. I just saw the Royals get robbed by a bad call at first base, and feel free to let me know what you're seeing, as I can watch only so much at once.
Kyle, Falls Church VA
Rob, with Jose Contreras's family finally in the US, do you think the Yankees will hold off making any attempts at bolstering their pitching staff, waiting to see if he can finally relax and focus on the mound?
Rob Neyer (10:03 PM)
All I know is this . . . If Contreras gets it together, we'll be told it's because his family made landfall. If he struggles, we'll be told it's because his family's a distraction, but next year he'll have made the adjustment and be ready to finally pitch to his salary.
Peter Gammons made a great point in his column today. He brought up Finley as an alternative for the teams that miss out on Beltran. My Marlins are one of the teams circling Beltran and now that I take a look I think I'd prefer Finley! He's an excellent fielder with very good range, fast on the basepaths, hits for power, etc, and he's no doubt much cheaper. Assuming Beltran is better, how much better is he?
Rob Neyer (10:06 PM)
Peter's absolutely right. If you're looking at getting one of those guys for five years, then obviously Beltran's who you want. But just for this season, Finley's nearly as valuable as Beltran and of course he'd be a bit cheaper, in terms of what you'd have to give up to get him.
Hey, Rob, any chance that Todd Helton gets moved sometime while he's still in his prime? Or is that not likely to happen ever? I mean he's one of the best hitters, it's such a shame he's being wasted. Why does Colorado have a team? They will never be in position to win.
Rob Neyer (10:07 PM)
He just makes too much money. I don't see him getting moved until/unless the Yankees decide they're tired of Jason Giambi.
If you were to do a top 10 fastballs right now, would Bartolo Colon still be on the list? He definetly has a lost a bit on it. What newcomers may make the list?
Rob Neyer (10:10 PM)
You're referring to the list in the new book, of course . . . that list, which lists Colon at No. 3 this decade, was actually composed by Bill James, though I don't really disagree with that particular choice. As for newcomers, I think you need more than a year or two to get on there. Carlos Zambrano's power sinker is a real candidate, though.
Hey Rob, why can;t the Royals offer up Sweeney for nothing....and resign Beltran with the money they save by taking Grimsley, Randa, and Sweeney off the books
Rob Neyer (10:13 PM)
Because if Sweeney's traded he makes $12.5 million in each of the next three (I think) seasons. And in case you haven't looked at his numbers in the last year or so, he's not worth $12.5 million. Not even close.
Keith, Baltimore MD
Do you think the Orioles made a good trade for Grimsley? Bautista was a highly regarded prospect here in Baltimore.
Rob Neyer (10:15 PM)
Maybe this is the Royals fan in me talking, but I think the Orioles made a terrible trade for Grimsley, who's a decent pitcher but is 1) erratic, and 2) not all that valuable for a team that's probably going to finish in fourth or fifth place both this season and next. Bautista's a Grade B prospect, maybe B+, with a decent chance to be a No. 2 or 3 starter in the majors. Nice work by Royals GM Allard Baird.
The Deege (Champaign)
Rob, when will we get to see B.J. Upton?
Rob Neyer (10:17 PM)
The Devil Rays have a logjam at shortstop . . . who'd've thunk it? But Julio Lugo is playing well, and the Devil Rays might as well let him keep playing until somebody makes them a decent trade offer. Upton's ready for the majors, but another few weeks in triple-A isn't going to hurt him any.
Tony (Danbury, CT)
Do you think the Dodgers hold on and take the West. They confuse me this year looking real good at times and other times look mediocre at best.
Rob Neyer (10:19 PM)
The Dodgers aren't perfect, but it's getting to the point where we should realize that no, they're really not a fourth-place team. I think they can hang in there, but I also think the team that wins the West will be the team that's both aggressive and intelligent about getting better over the next six weeks.
Do you think the Blue Jays, after Delgado and Wells return hopefully 100%, could make a run at least a .500 record if not a 90-win season?
Rob Neyer (10:20 PM)
A 90-win season is nearly out of the question because of the slow start, but I do expect the Jays to finish above .500, and in third place.
Erik - Norwalk, CT
I have been reading column after column in picks for the all-star team and I have not seen anyone talk about how deserving Scott Hatteberg should be getting the nod. How come nobody is talking about Hatteberg? I am a die-hard Yankee fan and I voted for Hatteberg.
Rob Neyer (10:23 PM)
That's wonderfully magnanimous of you, Erik. Near as I can tell, no first baseman in the American League has played better than Hatteberg this season. Granted, it's not been a great few months for AL initial sackers, but he's been the best of them, currently leading the group in RBI, OBP, and slugging percentage (slugging percentage? Hatteberg?).
Mike (Burlington VT)
I don't dispute your praise of the Oakland Athletics' past and future. But a definitive statement that Billy Beane is the best GM in all of sports is highly questionable.
Rob Neyer (10:25 PM)
You're right, Mike. I don't know enough about the NHL to make that claim, and somebody told me I unfairly neglected the guy who runs the New Jersey Devils. My apologies to any Devils fans reading this.
Curtis (DFW, TX)
Who do you see the A's going after to close games?
Rob Neyer (10:27 PM)
I believe that Billy Beane will acquire, in fairly short order, a relief pitcher with an outstanding strikeout rate. Who that will be I couldn't say, but if you look around you'll probably be able to come up with a short list of candidates.
Rob, it looks like Adam Everett will be the starting NL shortstop in the all-star game. I'm a big astros fan and I think he is deserving (but I'm a little biased). Do you think he is the best shortstop in the NL?
Rob Neyer (10:30 PM)
He will be? That's nuts, man. I know he's a good fielder, but he'd have to be Ozzie Smith to make up for his stick work. I know it's a bad year for NL shortstops, but Jack Wilson's got a good glove and he's batting .344 with 27 long hits.
Lou (Portland, Maine)
Love the book! I also took in another great read, Chasing Steinbrenner, chronicling the Red Sox and Blue Jays front offices. Have you got a chance to check it out yet and if so what do you think?
Rob Neyer (10:32 PM)
I haven't seen the book yet, though I hope to soon. Right now I'm in the middle of a new book, Negro League Baseball. It's very good, but there's very little about Satchel Paige's fastball and a great deal of material about profits and (mostly) losses.
Frank Thomas is having another huge night. What do you think of his HOF chances? With 2 or 3 more seasons like this year, is he in, or will being a full-time DH really hurt his chances?
Rob Neyer (10:36 PM)
If they let me vote, I'd vote for him today. He has played plenty of first base in his time, but of course he's played it so poorly that you can't really argue that he's had any defensive value at all. I just think he's been so dominant with the bat for so many years that he should scoot right in there.
Steve Mingori KCMO
Rob, Everyone is wondering why the Twins won't recall Morneau. Do you think that maybe they don't want his playing for the Canadian Olympic team to interrupt his MLB career?
Rob Neyer (10:37 PM)
No, I think the Twins have some serious blind spots. They obviously do some things well, but don't you have to wonder about a team that would rather have Jose Offerman in the lineup than Justin Morneau? The Twins have been getting away with crap like this for the last couple of seasons, but I think this year it's finally going to cost them, because the White Sox aren't rolling over.
Can you sleep at night knowing that your favorite team will soon have David DeJesus starting in CF
Rob Neyer (10:39 PM)
I sleep just fine, thanks. DeJesus is doing quite well back in Omaha, and I won't be surprised if, in three or four years, he's a better player than Beltran.
Rob Neyer (10:44 PM)
Somebody asked about Mike Sweeney earlier . . . The Tigers just intentionally walked Beltran, to get to Sweeney. Does it work? ******** Uh, not this time. Urbina threw Sweeney a belt-high fastball, and Sweeney drove it over the fence for a three-run homer. And now, with the Royals safely (?) ahead, I suppose I should switch to a game that actually means something. What do you think? Giants-Dodgers, or Angels-A's?
Rob Neyer (10:45 PM)
Hey, did Octavio Dotel lose his job with the Astros? Lidge is trying to close out the Pirates...
I was wondering if you think the Phillies are going to make any moves. They're right in the playoff hunt and underachieving. Will they get a starter?
Rob Neyer (10:48 PM)
I'll be shocked if they don't make a big move or two. They were supposed to win, and they've got the new ballpark. The Phils obviously could use a starter, but why not get in the Beltran sweepstakes, too? I mean, I like Doug Glanville as much as the next guy, but there's this little problem with his "hitting" . . .
i think dotel has pitched in the past two games. that's why he's not closing out tonight.
al (santa rosa)
Hawkins trying to close it out for the Cubs. Funny how he wasn't ticketed as a closer and is doing fine while Rhodes is tanking out here on the coast.
Rob Neyer (10:54 PM)
Thanks for the tip; I'm watching now. I never bought that crapola about Hawkins somehow lacking the makeup to pitch the ninth inning. That's what the White Sox thought about Keith Foulke two years ago, right? And that's why Eddie Guardado spent years as a set-up man. I'm sure there are a few pitchers who just don't have the psychological ability to close. But in the great majority of cases, if you can dominate in the eighth you can dominate in the ninth.
Funny how Danny Kolb is an incredible closer!
Rob Neyer (10:57 PM)
Right. Danny Kolb this year, and Tim Worrell last year, and any number of other pitchers who thrived after unexpectedly getting the job. (That said, have you seen Kolb's strikeout rate, or rather his lack thereof? Weird.)
Brad Lewisville, TX
If the Rangers got a legit #1, would they be considered for real?
Rob Neyer (10:59 PM)
Good question, Brad. At this moment the Rangers are in first place, and yet nobody's really talking about them as buyers. What if they traded for Randy Johnson or Freddy Garcia. Wouldn't they then have to be considered legitimate contenders? (By the way, LaTroy Hawkins just finished off the Cards.)
Rob Neyer (11:02 PM)
Ouch. Just turned on the Angels and A's, and Hudson's already down 4-0 in the third inning. A's will drop to third place (granted, a very close third place) if they lose again tonight. Billy must be burning up the phones...
Jays fan here again. I was wondering why you failed to include Roy Halladay in your pitchers guide? Also, who do you think has the best chance at the AL Cy Young right now?
Rob Neyer (11:06 PM)
We should have got Halladay in the book, but he didn't meet the statistical criteria (1000 innings or 400 games) and we didn't think to "force" him at the last minute (though of course we should have). I'm not really so worried about the active pitchers, because there are so many sources for information about them. Halladay will be in the next edition, though. As for the Cy Young, if the season ended today it would have to be Mariano Rivera, wouldn't it?
do you really think closers are deserving of Cy Young awards? they only pitch an inning a game. a lot of starters, if they had to pitch only one inning, would be just as good.
Rob Neyer (11:09 PM)
A closer's innings are roughly 50 percent more valuable than a starter's innings, so yes I think they can be deserving of Cy Young Awards. Not often, but occasionally. About your other argument -- that a lot of starters could be great closers -- I don't disagree, but I'm not really sure where to go from there.
You said that Roy Halladay will be in the next edition...How long from now do you think that will be? 5 years?
Rob Neyer (11:10 PM)
It depends on how many you buy. I'd love to publish a new edition every three or four years, but of course that's not up to me and Bill.
Farnsworth pitched a big 8th-striking out Pujols, getting Rolen to fly out and getting Mabry to K. Speaking Cubs, who do you think they can get to play short? Best I can see is Omar.
Rob Neyer (11:14 PM)
Farnsworth's another guy who could be a closer someday, if he could just stop throwing so many gopher balls. And why don't the Cubs go after Julio Lugo?
Rob Neyer (11:16 PM)
Thanks for all the questions, everybody. I don't know when I'll be doing this again, but the first time was definitely a success, if not artistically, at least numerically. And I'll be chatting in my normal slot on Friday.