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 (1:01 PM)
I'm going to have to cut this chat short by about 15 minutes today so I can get to the ballpark. So let's get started.
Aaron (South Dakota)
Tulo or Fielder. Who is more valuable right now?
Jayson Stark (1:03 PM)
How can I not pick Tulo? He's the best player in the universe right now. He hit more home runs in one series at Citi Field than the Twins -- all of them -- have hit all year. But it's not the bat that separates him from Prince. This guy plays a more important defensive position and he's a defensive difference-maker. You sure can't say that about Prince. And I think that whole Rockies team plays with incredible energy because of Tulowitzki. He's the man right now.
Will the Royals will call up Hosmer or Moustakas in the near future, or after June 1? And what are the expectations for those two? Thanks.
Jayson Stark (1:05 PM)
The impression I've gotten is that they'll call up any of their phenoms -- those two, Mike Montgomery, whomever -- when they're ready. In the case of Moustakas and Montgomery in particular, I'd bet you see both of them by June at the latest unless something happens. All three of them have a legit shot to be all-stars, and not just once.
Doug Maddux (Houston)
Is Carl Crawford going to hit this year, or is it a down year after signing the big contract?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
The track record tells us of course he's going to hit. But his friends on the Rays always thought he'd have an adjustment period when he got out of his comfort zone in Tampa Bay and moved into a totally different environment in Boston. They thought the team would start out hot enough, though, that it would take the pressure off if he didn't. Well, so much for that theory.
How far are the A's from a return to prominence and once again becoming a legitimate contender in the American League?
Jayson Stark (1:08 PM)
They're a legit contender now. The question is how good are they offensively. And so far, it's tough to think they're going to help their pitching enough to get to October. But if you have great arms, anything is possible. And that team across the Bay could tell you all about it.
Hey Jayson. Love your stuff! You buying Pablito's hot start? He's looking good at there.
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
Definitely looks more agile. Still swinging at everything, though. And that's still an issue. But the problem last year was more that he got so big, they couldn't justify running him out there to play third base when they had better options. Not so much this year. Good sign.
Given the recent news with Chapman from the Reds, how much could it hurt the Reds with him out of the bullpen for a couple weeks.
Jayson Stark (1:11 PM)
If Nick Masset were throwing better, it wouldn't be as much of a concern, assuming this is nothing serious. But those were supposed to be two big weapons late in the game. So this is a bigger deal than it might have been otherwise. I keep thinking this is the most concern any team has ever shown over a guy who's "only" throwing 94 mph, right?
Chris (New York)
Is there any recent update as to the severity of Utley's injury, and when is the eariest the Phils think it's reasonable to expect him back? And do you think Valdez will be able to carry the load down the stretch?
Jayson Stark (1:13 PM)
Utley finally started running a little bit yesterday. But there's still no timetable, and he's clearly weeks away. Wilson Valdez is a real good extra infielder. But I still think if he plays six or seven days a week, he'll wear down, and he'll get exposed offensively. They'd be in a heck of a mess without him, though.
Bobby (South Jersey)
Thoughts on the Adrian Gonzalez contract? Right around the money line you expected? Did it have any effect on Albert Pujols?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
We've known for months this was where this contract was going to wind up. They just needed to make sure he didn't have any issues from his surgery last winter. And it didn't hurt that if they waited until now, it wouldn't cost them any luxury tax for this year. As for Albert, I've said this a thousand times: Nobody affects Albert's contract. There's nobody like him.
Rick Sutton (Bradenton FL)
Just read your R&G about Maddon. He's got a good point, something I have wondered about for a while since the Galarraga incident. Why doesn't a manager have the opportunity to ask for the umpire help through an appeal? Looks to me that that may save a bit of the instant replay (and be more cost efficient too).
Jayson Stark (1:17 PM)
The question here was about why the umpires were allowed to huddle and overturn a safe call at first base last Sunday, but they didn't do that after the Jim Joyce call in the Galarraga game. And Jim McKean's explanation was that the difference here is that the umpire Sunday, Doug Eddings, wasn't sure he'd seen it correctly. My personal feeling is that if a fellow umpire clearly sees a call like that is wrong, he has an obligation to tell his fellow ump what he saw. That isn't umpire protocol, unfortunately. We're a long ways from using replay on calls like this. But what managers would favor is a fifth umpire in the booth who would see it on his monitor and notify the umps on the field instantly. The commissioner isn't a fan of that idea, I'm afraid.
Jason (St Louis)
What is up with Matt Thornton? I realize his defense cost him two saves but four blown saves two weeks in to the season? Come on.
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
I've had scouts tell me that as far back as when Thornton was drafted, the book was that he didn't have a makeup suited to closing. But here's what I don't understand: The job he had before -- facing the biggest bat in the order constantly late in the game -- was tougher than this job. But some guys just can't get those last three outs, I guess. Not ready to write him off, but sounds like his manager is.
When I think about the whole Steroid Era, it just feels sad and pathetic. That so many guys, from the best to the worst, decided to cheat the game, themselves and us. I'm no longer angry at them; I pity them. But they don't get into the HOF.
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
The question I raised in today's Rumblings -- check it out -- was whether we want the Hall of Fame to be a shrine or a museum. It's easy to say we would prefer a shrine. But there are already players in the Hall who doctored balls, corked bats, got arrested, served time in jail. So we're willing to overlook all of that but not this? I find that fascinating.
Jayson - "Tulo is the best player in the universe right now." One slow start by Pujols and you are already putting someone in his place?
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
The key words there were "right now." I fully expect Albert to have his usual great year. But Tulowitzki is approaching his orbit. Don't you think?
Chris (Ann Arbor)
What is the point of the hall of fame if 20 years from now if 4 of the best players in history (Rose, Bonds, Rodriguez, Clemens ) aren't in it?Can it be considered the collection of the greatest players if it doesnt include the great players?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
That's exactly the point I made in Rumblings today. If your Hall of Fame excludes the players who sit atop the all-time lists in so many important categories, either your sport has issues or your Hall of Fame has issues. Or both. Again, you should read the whole column. I don't have an answer. But I have major questions.
Jayson, you think Pete Rose will be in the HoF some day? Him getting shunned the way he has is a bigger crime than any steroids injector ever committed. It would be a shame to wait until he's gone to put him in.
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
No way. Not as long as this commissioner has a say, anyway. I'm ready to say that this man has served his time. He's 70 years old. He's finally saying the right things about what he did and how he screwed up. I would propose a compromise where he gets back on the HOF ballot but can't work in baseball. But again, I see no signs Bud Selig is open to that.
Chris (New York)
Has there been any renewed discussion on expanding the playoffs? I think it's a terrible idea. No need to mess with a good thing.
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
One thing I mentioned in Tuesday's Rumblings is that owners seem to favor a one-game October Madness playoff between the two wild cards, and the loser goes home. The players, for the most part, prefer a best-of-three series between the two wild cards. The more I think about the options, the one-gamer is the only way to go. It would be a dramatic way to kick off the postseason. It would greatly increase the incentive to finish first. And it wouldn't force the first-place teams to sit around waiting for the wild-card series to end.
Dan (Olathe, KS)
Is the Royals' bullpen for real? I'm not used to having a real set of relief pitchers here in Kansas city.
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
There's no part of that team that's more real than the bullpen, I think. Jeffress, Crow and Collins are all swing-and-miss forces they haven't had before. So if they get a lead now late in the game, they're actually going to win most of the time. Quite a concept.
Bilateral Leg Weakness - now I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV - but that doesn't sound good for a ballplayer's long term ability (especially a catcher). Just how scared are the Twins about Mauer right now?
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
None of this is a good sign -- two weeks into the first year of that contract. I asked about this situation this spring, and they're still committed to him being a catcher through as much of the contract as possible. But I'd watch this one carefully. Tough to say yet if this is more than a case of a guy who had offseason surgery and only 20 spring at-bats just not being physically ready when the season started.
eric (ny, ny)
What would you do with Phil Hughes? Skip, pen, minors? He seems like he needs to throw a lot on a consistent basis to get "fixed" so what's best option?
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
I would send him to the minors, if it were up to me. I don't think it's productive for him to stay in the big leagues right now, with the entire metropolitan area fixating on the radar gun every time he throws a pitch. If he moves to the bullpen, that part wouldn't change. So I think this is one case where a trip to the minor leagues, away from that scrutiny, is the best solution. Not sure they're going to go that route, though.
Tyler (Bellevue WA)
Love your question re. how should the Hall of Fame acknowledge so many of the game's great yet tarnished superstars? It'll probably never happen, but why not a Hall of Controversy/Infamy (the name would need some work) as a separate wing/display in the Hall of Fame? It would satisfy people who are for and against certain folks being in the Hall of Fame. They'd be in, but with a display marking the controversies for fans to make up their own minds. Controversy is part of the game and its rich history. Let's acknowledge the good and the bad, because if you sweep the bad under the rug, it's my opinion that it only serves to destroy the credibility/integrity of the game.
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
You know, I thought about proposing that. But here's the problem with it: We still have very little information to go on when we assess the players of the '90s and the first part of the '00s. So what happens if we elect a player we believe to be clean and then find out otherwise? Move his plaque? I just think we should consider whether we want the Hall to be a true museum. If we do, we just elect the best players and then tell the truth about what happened.
Jim C (Houston)
You really don't think the first-place teams wouldn't want to reset their rotation and rest guys that are banged up? Maybe you could start the series between the 2 and 3 seeds before the wild-card series is over, just to give that much more advantage to being a 1?
Jayson Stark (1:37 PM)
I think what we've learned over the last few years is that it's a disadvantage for any team to sit around and not play, while the team they're about to play is building momentum. I just don't like the thought of having the first-place team sit for four or five days waiting to start the postseason. It's not the way baseball works.
RE: Mauer injury... What is the Twins contingency plan if down the road he can no longer catch? Move him to 1st? OF?
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
That's part of the issue here. They have a first baseman. And I don't think they view Mauer as an outfielder. So their team fits together best if he's mostly a catcher. It's complicated!
Brian (San Jose)
What are the Giants going to do when Ross comes back? I figure Burrell's gonna get bumped when Torres comes back, but with Rowand coming up with big hits for them right now, how are all of these pieces going to fit?
Jayson Stark (1:40 PM)
I'm guessing that Nate Schierholtz is the guy who gets lopped off the roster. Then Bruce Bochy mixes, matches and juggles as best he can. The problem is, who's the late-inning defensive replacement? I guess it's Rowand. But not an easy call.
Can Tabata keep it up?
Jayson Stark (1:42 PM)
He's really had a good approach so far. The new coaching staff there has really emphasized working counts, and he got the memo. He's going to blow away his career high in walks if he keeps this up. And it looks as if he's capable of hitting deep in counts. So my vote on him is: Yes!
Wouldn't Wilson Ramos look good in a Twins uniform right about now? I understand why they did that, but they had Mauer's injury history in front of them before they traded Ramos. Oh well, live and learn.
Jayson Stark (1:43 PM)
You're not the first person I've heard make that observation. But rewind the clock. They were trying to make the playoffs last year. They were committed to Mauer forever. Nathan wasn't coming back till this year. And Matt Capps helped them both last year and this year. So I understand the reasoning. But they could sure use the guy now, right?
Who do you want on your team for the next 10 years Tulo or Pujols?
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
Huge difference in ag (26 versus 31). So if we're talking for 10 years, it's a pretty easy call, isn't it? Have to take Tulo for that reason alone.
Jayson Stark (1:45 PM)
Hate to do this, gang. But I only have time for one more.
Can we stop putting Tulo in the Pujols class? He had a great series, yes - but it was against the Mets. Greeny could go yard off the Mets.
Jayson Stark (1:48 PM)
I've had a bunch of questions to this effect. Look, Albert Pujols has been the best player in baseball for the last 10 years. That's without question. And I expect him to be a great, great player for years to come. So this has nothing to do with Albert. But Tulowitzki did not start flashing greatness four days ago. Or last September. He's been a special player, when healthy, from his first day in the big leagues. He's an off-the-charts defensive player. And he's a born leader. Anybody who just noticed that hasn't been paying attention. But at age 26, he's still on the rise. And that's a scary thought.
Jayson Stark (1:49 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions. You've been a great audience. Thanks for coming!